Thursday, December 30, 2010

Starting Over Again

This is the eighth day of my winter unemployment and the "pajama vacation" has to end.  Because a "pajama vacation" soon morphs into Depression and I have been there, done that, and don't want to repeat that experience.  Again.  Onward.  I am dressed. Two loads of laundry done. Recycling taken to the cans in the garage.  Riley in and out several times.  Sun shining.  Blue skies.

Linda had an excellent suggestion about donating my unwanted fabric to the local Project Linus group. I emailed the chapter in my county and I just received a lovely reply.  And they pick up.  So, as soon as I have all the fabric ready to go, they will come by and get it.  And either sell it or use it for Project Linus.  I had forgotten that these good projects don't always need everyone to sew.  There have to be people who give the group materials also.

When I was part of a quilt chapter, it was always my "job" to trim and sew the donated blocks into a top.  Strange, huh?  A person who doesn't like to piece volunteering to stitch the blocks together.  I even made sashing and corner blocks.  I always was thinking good thoughts while sewing the blocks together.  Adding as much positive energy as possible to the chemo lap quilts etc.  I had forgotten that.  So, Linda, thank you for the Project Linus hint and for the memory of making quilts so many years ago.

I poached chicken yesterday and made a Chicken Carbonara for G last night.  The dentist had done a bit of work on his tooth and he is there right now having a second appointment.  G will need a crown eventually.  I think the poaching liquid combined with noodles and shredded chicken will make a nice comforting soup for G tonight.  He is so tired this week.  Chicken Soup is good for fatigue I think. I am going to have bean and rice burritos or eggplant parmesan.  I have everything necessary to make both dishes in the fridge.  Leftovers.

I may even drive the car to the grocery in an hour or so.  Get out of the house for the first time in a week. See if the local grocery has a ham for sale that is NOT spiral sliced.  And I need the stuff to make Hopping John so we have good luck in the new year.

I am enjoying the TiVoed episodes of Mad Hungry that I am recording.  Two each day.  Still have no idea why the show and book have that stupid title.  It doesn't really mean anything.  Crazy Hungry? I know it is supposed to imply that the men in her family are always really hungry but Mad Hungry?  Is that something kids say these days?

Sunday I get to apply for unemployment benefits.  Woo Hoo.  And the adventure of the employment diary begins again.  A state employee gave me some tips.  Always state on the application that I can't work evenings or weekends.  I have to make sure I don't have to "swear" on the unemployment benefits statements that I am available to work evenings and weekends.  I don't want to tell lies.  Don't fill out the application completely. G always has people apply and they don't write down their phone number  or they write down the wrong number so he can't call them.  Apply for jobs you have no experience doing.  Like paralegal and nurse?  I try to visit one or two places each week.  Usually places where I am shopping or visiting during my trips to town.  I don't like online applications.  I was going to apply with HR Block but they might discover how many times my returns have been audited.  Whoopsie.

Time to start doing something productive around the house.  Here's a picture of Riley I snapped up off my daughter's blog.
She's going to wonder how I did that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fabric Containers On Route

To the upstairs "studio/greenhouse".  Dog toys are also moving upstairs with each trip.  I took this moving experience as a chance to look inside the boxes.  Horrors!!!!  I mean really, what the hell was I thinking when I bought, stored, sorted and kitted up some of these things????  I was speechless on more that a few occasions.  Questioning my (I thought) good taste.

I know, from experience, that our taste in "stuff" changes on a seven year cycle.  Our favorite colors can sometimes change also.  I have always loved polka dots so was not surprised to find an abundance of dotted fabrics.  But I was not aware (or had forgotten) my interest in theme fabrics.  I have flowered fabric, cowboy fabric, depression era fabric, vegetable fabric, chicken fabric and DUCK fabric.  I can only conclude that these "interests" were fueled by a group enthusiasm at chapter meeting and quiltathons.  Things I no longer participate in.  I also seemed to enjoy buying felted wool.  Was I actually going to make one of those antique circle things?  Maybe?  Looks like I stored my way through two or three seven year cycles.

The non theme fabrics can all be used in the work I now do--rather abstract, but there isn't any use in keeping the themed fabric.  No grandchildren and I do not enjoy piecing so I won't be making 25 novelty children's quilts for the local Police & Fire Departments.  My friend K has three grandchildren and has had to stop making children's quilts because they don't really like them.  And they have a stack in the closet incase they change their minds.  So, I can't send the stuff to her.  She has one more baby quilt to make so I could ask if she wants fabric for that.  Ducks?

In other news: G came home last night and showed me the half a tooth piece of his molar that fell off during his lunch at work.  A nice clean break at the gumline and across the middle.  He had an emergency dental appointment at 7 this morning.  My unprofessional opinion is that he will either be getting root canal and a crown or he will be having an extraction.  50/50. This is what happens when you cancel three regular dental checkups in a row.  Bad Things.

Since he couldn't chew food without tearing up the side of his tongue on the rough edges of the break, I had to do some fancy thinking to make him something good and easy to eat. Pronto!!! I made soup.  A quickly thrown together broth of onion, garlic, chicken cubes and 2 slices of fresh ginger along with peppercorns and soy sauce.   I then found the remainder of the ingredients used in the potstitckers : baby bok choy and shitake mushrooms.  And after climbing to the top of the kitchen ladder and into the cupboard, I found some saved packets of rice noodle sticks.  I strained the stock, added the greens, noodles and mushrooms.  G liked it.  It was soothing, soft and just right.  G then went to sleep on the couch.  He hasn't been having the best month.  Thank Goodness it's almost over.

I have bills to sort out, phone calls to make regarding the purchase of a new furnace or repair of the old one.  I am continuing a dialogue with a guy interested in a fabric art piece based on a photo he took (and Photoshopped).  I have learned the hard way that commission work is nearly impossible to do successfully, especially when you have to educated the customer.  He had wanted a pieced bed quilt based on the photo.  Imagine years of work.  Not this girl.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Joanne's Dilemma

Spelled wrong in the diagram but you get the idea.  I am in the process of moving my fabric from Space A to Space B.  Simple enough.  Only there are bits and pieces of Space B's previous occupant (G's office) still all around Space B plus all my green foliage plants are up there. Taking up room I want to fill with Space A stuff.  Now I have come to the time and place in this project when I have to start moving the unwanted items in Space B to a still unnamed Space C (I think it is safe to assume this will be either G's new office or the attic).  Which isn't empty.  The dumpster is beginning to look like a Golden Idea.

Whenever I get the stuff I really and truly want from Space A moved to Space B, there will be bits and pieces that remain in Space A.  I can see why Hoarders can never clean up their households.  They have no Space B.  Nowhere to move anything.

I will be taking a garbage bag or two upstairs (Space B) in the next hour or so.  I will also remove the jumble of things that G has stuffed into the fabric closet (over to the side; in the dark depths of the closet): empty hangers, framed art, clocks that don't work, an accordion, clothes no one wears etc.  Those items will either go into the garbage bags or into the attic storage which is a Deep Well of Life's Mementos.  Some of it still in sealed boxes from 1988.  I will need to put on winter gear to work in the attic.  I am truly my father's daughter.  Remember the 3 cubic yards of clutter I cleared out of his house in three days?  Three cubic yards is a lot.  A big dumpster.  And it was full.  Plus three truckloads to Goodwill and another to the Food Pantry.

I worked on this moving project exactly one hour yesterday.  I took a break (big mistake) and never returned to the project.  Today, I have to make more of an effort and perhaps even get dressed in something besides pajamas.  Even wear shoes.  Be professional.

It took me so long to wake up today ( I lay in bed wondering how many days I had been away from work) (5) and get going that I had lunch for breakfast.  Leftover rice, avocado and cheese on a Smart Tortilla.  Squeeze of lime and some raw onion.  Now I am ready to face the day.  Sort of.  Not really.

I think I need a motivational pep talk.  But the only sound I hear (in my head) is "I don't wanna, I don't wanna, I don't wanna". Maybe I should call work and ask my boss to say "Hey, Joanie I have a project for you --go clean out the attic -- make it sparkle".

Monday, December 27, 2010

One Thousand Posts -Woo Hoo

I liked the look of these peony frames out in the garden.  They have more snow on them this morning but they are still looking just like this.  It resembles the line drawings of November, huh?  Delicate but strong lines against the white (which I have iPhotoed to a buff color).

One Thousand Posts.  When I began this challenge (to make 1000 by the end of 2010) I was not sure I could actually do it.  Writing nearly every day was hard at the beginning.  I was so used to waiting for a "good topic" before posting.  I had to start "just writing" and then write, delete, write, delete etc until I had something that wasn't too, too boring to post.  It was an excellent writing exercise.  When I reread my posts I am in wonder at some of the (few) really good sentences I created.

In the coming year I will attempt to answer comments in the comment section instead of sending emails. That way there will be a continuing "conversation" of sorts, between the readers and myself.  Another layer of something to read.  We'll see if it works.  Several of the commenters are "no reply" and I would like to continue (or begin) a conversation with them also.  I can always do both if readers prefer since I don't always reread a post to check on the comments.  We'll see?

I opened the door for Riley this morning and he went straight out, and turned around and came straight back.  I sternly told him he had to go out and pee.  So, out he went and ran around a bit to find the perfect spot, did his business and ran as fast as he could back to the door.  I don't think I have to worry about a "walk".  Our street is plowed.  Which means a huge pile at the end of the driveway.  The heat is on.  The lights are on.  I plan to start moving fabric from the first floor to the second today. Riley will be helping me by running ahead of me, up and down, the stairs.  I intend to go slowly, one color stack at a time, getting my own exercise (I have eaten too much in December because the walking pants are no longer "wedgie free").

All the laundry and shirt ironing got done yesterday afternoon.  Then I watched Pride & Prejudice a second time along with Nigella's 30 minute cooking program.  I finished with a cup of tea, two cookies and House Hunter's International with a family relocating to Krakow Poland.  They never did get to buy a house.  Six months later and still no mortgage approval.  And a new baby on the way.  I was hoping for one of those little updates printed at the end to say how things worked out.  But, no.

This year is coming to an end and I worked more hours at work (almost double of last year), I had a better garden at home, I taught 15 classes at work, I read more books, I weeded the entire vegetable garden, sifted the compost piles and weeded two of the five perennial beds. My housekeeping went downhill and I will probably be spending the winter cleaning, sorting and getting rid of all the accumulated clutter.  My windows never got washed.  The carpets didn't get shampooed. The used slipcovers are still in a heap waiting to go to the Suds & Wash. I had a great suntan all year.  Perfected Chicken Marsala and Carbonara.  Made 22 jars of Concord grape jelly.  Got a new roof on the house.  New glasses and frames. Finished one pen and paper journal and nearly finished the new one.  More art in the new journal.  There are many unfinished threads left at the end of 2010.  The jewelry I had wanted to make last winter.  The placemats I cut and prepared but never quilted.  And I am still trying to find an author to read over the winter.  Perhaps Elizabeth George.  From the beginning.

In any event, you will have a front row seat to whatever happens in 2011 (and the days leading up to New Years).  Now, to begin hauling fabric upstairs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Can You See What I See?

Riley and his new Christmas Toy, Spot, are waiting for the "Big Storm" to arrive with lots and lots of snow.  Later today, I think.  I finally made cookies yesterday afternoon after Sam, G, Riley and I took a lovely walk in the woods before lunch.  I made Oatmeal Apricot Almond cookies and Snickerdoodles. We also have the Pumpkin Cheesecake with whipped cream.  The desserts all came out nicely but the main dishes: not so good.

The potstickers weren't the best I had ever made.  The dough was very nice though.  And the vinegary sauce.  Yesterday's Christmas Burritos were not improved by the Angus beef or the preshredded cheese.  And I overcooked the rice.  I don't eat the beef and usually have a rice burrito.  So everyone was disappointed. My daughter's cheese pierogi were excellent and I think she came by at 7 am this morning to take them home for breakfast.  Forgot them last evening.  G, Riley and I will be walking in the woods again today and looking for Sam's missing glove.  We need to walk before the snow starts falling.  And I need to think about making something most excellent for lunch to end the holiday on a high note.

We exchanged a few small gifts, played a new dice game (no Scrabble) and G and I watched Pride and Prejudice until bedtime.  I love that movie with Keira Knightly.  I really should buy a copy.  In fact, I could watch Jane Austen every Christmas.  I moved the dog bed when I vacuumed (on Christmas Day) and didn't put it back in the usual spot.  I had it over next to the couch but not in front of the television. That must have been okay with Riley's fear of the DVD drawer because he came into the room, looked around and then lay down on the dog bed and he STAYED there, asleep, while we watched the movie.  My Christmas Wish was that he would come back to sleeping by us and stop being afraid of the DVD drawer opening.  Not what it was before, but much better than him alone in the kitchen.

I am having cookies and coffee for breakfast, thinking about how I want to spend the day (not shopping), noticed the Colorplay reveal is not until January 12 which is good since I haven't even begun to think of a design.  I have new watercolor crayons to experiment with (my daughter's gift) and a Wallander book to read.  Sounds like a wonderful Sunday.  No getting up at 6.18 on Monday for work, either.  Let it Snow!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Morning

Cold, but sunshine.  My tree has ornaments but the room has poor lighting and I can't get a good picture. Today is my first day without the possibility of going to work.  I had anticipated unbridled joy but instead find myself untethered.  Drifting.  Alone on some new and uncharted venture.  An email suggested a "maybe" art quilt commission which looks both scary and exciting.  I have promised to embark on a "body" of work for next summer's art gallery tryout.  My "hoarding" tendencies must be controlled.  I was thinking of renting a small dumpster for the winter and filling it with the clutter.  I have an unfinished bed quilt to work on as the last piece my departed friend was working on for a grandchild.  All these threads, wiggling loose in my unconscious mind, could tether me to a new kind of work for the winter months.

I feel better about Christmas now that the tree is decorated, the cards mailed and a few ingredients are on the counter coming to room temperature for some holiday cooking and baking.  Later today I will be making Potstickers filled with ground chicken, bok choy, shitake mushrooms and ginger.  Something I have never made on Christmas Eve but I am looking forward to the preparation and the eating.

There are, thankfully, no presents to wrap, no last minute shopping or guests arriving tonight hoping for a good dinner.  Tomorrow, is a different story.

Riley already has one of his presents.  It actually was given to my husband but Riley was immediately interested in owning it.  A simple stuffed duck (Disney) named Pook. A baby toy by the looks of it (my husband loves Donald Duck so is given many duck items by his co workers). Riley has had it with him constantly for two full days now.  If you see Riley, you see Pook.  All Pook's parts are still intact but very well "mouthed".  He still has his bow tie and little hat.  Amazing.

I was going to walk Riley with my walking buddy, but when she called this morning I was still in bed and now it is too late.  I just don't feel like bundling up for the first of a whole winter's walks with Riley. I know we will eventually go out but right now, I just want to sit, rest and be still.

I do want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  Having someone reading the words I type here, means a great deal, sometimes a very great deal. Life, here in my head, can often be very lonely.  It's nice to have a thought or idea and be able to sit down and type and then press send and let that idea or thought drift out to whoever is reading.  And every once in awhile get a reply.  Delightful. Thank you for that.  Be warm, be happy, be joyful and eat something delicious!   Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gingerbread-like Christmas Trees

I found these at Big Lots.  I plan to take the ice cream cone trees I made off the Gingerbread House and add these really cute ones.  I love the dark brown gingerbread alternating with the white and light brown. And, of course, the little bows.

I woke up at 8 and then crawled back into my toasty warm bed.  Up again at 9.30 and I have eaten breakfast, read blogs and sipped coffee.  It's now eleven and I have a haircut appointment at 1.  It took me awhile to figure out how to photograph the trees without all the ambient clutter also being photographed.  The table tops are cluttered with piles of things.  In fact, every surface has some sort of pile on it. Bills, recipes, cookie tins, receipts, art supplies, string, wrapping paper, cards.  You name it and I have a pile of it on some surface or another.  I chose to tape a large piece of white paper to the lamp and push everything else to the right side.  I am ashamed of myself.  Truly, deeply ashamed.

I think I can make a dent in the next hour so I will cut short all the riveting and clever chat I would normally entertain you with on my day off post.  It's snowing, I have a dinner menu to conjure up, and a grocery list to create.  Thank goodness I don't do Christmas Gifts, Christmas Cookies or any of that anymore.  I would have to crawl back into bed and have a good depression sleep.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And Then It Snowed

This image is from a magazine.  I don't know which one or what year but I am not taking credit for it's artistic loveliness.  Just sharing it with you as it summarizes my feelings at this moment in time.  Cold.  The furnace has been cleaned (by the most gorgeous guy I have seen in quite awhile).  The gaskets need replacing; the hot water storage tank is pulling water from the coil directly and not as a separate zone (incorrectly installed); we have a few years left if we make repairs but could still lose heat in the middle of winter.  So, this morning, Dave arrived to assess the furnace.  He discovered the water temp had been set too low in the coil (which is probably why the water is never hot).  He recommends the gaskets be replaced.  He will also be writing up a proposal for a new furnace.

G went grocery shopping for me yesterday (his McD's shares a parking lot with a grocery store) so we could finally have the stuffed shells.  They were excellent.  I watched the Mad Hungry Holiday show and am starting to find the host's chatter annoying.  But it fills the void since there is nothing to watch on television this week (or next).

I was okay with Fabio winning Survivor and happy that Jane got the fan favorite 100K prize (the fans always get it right).  Means also that we will see Jane again if they have another All Stars.  I am excited about the new Redemption Island thing for February 2011.  I am way behind on my Top Chef watching.

I have nothing to take to work for lunch except a small bit of my Longhorn lunch from last week.  It will have to be enough.  I can also take one of the Cranberry Island Whoopie Pies but I think it would be too sweet.  I skipped lunch yesterday at work and it was okay.

Well, it's cold today but not freezing as the Rhodie leaves are plump and not threadlike.  I have on RED so I feel good and cheerful.  And I have on heavy wool socks. I know I have to water the plants today. So I guess it's time to pack up and go to work.  Second to last day.  Clock is ticking so slowly right now.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Clementines

The red berries are the little picks I purchased at work.  Don't they add Christmas cheer?  I peel and eat a handful of Clementines everyday.  It is so difficult to know which box of fruit to buy.  The first bag I bought was from Morocco and the clems were tiny and spicy.  I devoured them.  The second box were dry and sour.  This box is fragrant and juicy.  I miss the spicy taste of the tiny ones.  I love orange and blue together.  If I was choosing a color combo for the Twelve by Twelve (which I should be working on!!!), it would be the colors in this bowl of fruit.

Today I need to actually get lights on my Christmas tree.  And ornaments.  See, the thing is I procrastinate about these two jobs but when I get started, I really love doing it and SO love the decorated tree.  I just sit and stare at it, so happy.  I always say I will decorate sooner, and have more days to enjoy the tree, but this is the way it goes.  But at least the tree has been in the house for about 10 days which is 10 days longer than usual.  The tree is drinking massive amounts of water and Prolong.  Riley is still wagging his tail into the tree branches and making a mess of needles on the floor.  Pretty soon ornaments will be falling off the tree to join the needles.

I purchased a new cookbook.  Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn.  She has a cooking show on Martha Stewart's Hallmark channel.  I started TiVo-ing some of them and reading the book, I have found some recipes for things I actually love to eat but don't know how to make.  Thrilled to see the bacon, egg and cheese bagel recipe.  Teen age boys worked out the best technique and taste.  And the instructions for perfect fried eggs.  Mine are never right as the yolk is always overcooked.  And baked bacon.  Without all the sugar other recipes load onto it.  Quinn had a great English recipe for scones that I plan to make.  They stay moist inside and crunchy on the outside.  I have only read the first, breakfast section so far.  Simple food.  Always the best because you can eat it everyday.

Today I am also running to the grocery store for ricotta cheese and spinach for stuffed shells.  I have a jar of marinara in the fridge which will be enough to sauce the shells. (or I can buy another) And I want to buy some crispy garlic bread.  Sounds like a good dinner to eat while watching Survivor.  Need Parmesan also.  In fact, I need a great deal of different cheeses for the week ahead because I want burritos or nachos for dinner this week because those two things go together quickly and I work Monday and Tuesday and Thursday.

Christmas Eve starts my furlough.  In more ways than one.  Sam will be sharing Christmas Eve with her boyfriend's family and G and I can feel free to do whatever we want (yippee!).  Sam will be here for Christmas day and the Christmas Burritos and Pumpkin Cheesecake.  And the annual Scrabble game plus a walk in the woods with Riley. I'll be making her cheese pierogi on Wednesday.

The traditional meals we shared as a family when the children lived at home, have somehow lost their appeal (for G & I) in recent Christmases.  I think, if both kids had married and started families, we would have been able to let go of these work intensive meals and traditions sooner and with less anxiety (for daughter).  I could have enjoyed the occasional holiday meal or plate of cookies prepared in my own kitchen.  Over the past 5 or more years, I have stopped stuffing stockings, buying presents and baking cookies. It was all joyless and such hard work.  Somehow, baking cookies with growing children dipping fingers into the dough bowl or snatching cookies off the plates each time they walked past made it all seem like fun.  Now, it seems like work and a dangerous amount of cookies left for me to eat.  And grow an even bigger butt.  Now, I order things from William Sonoma or write checks.

Working up until the end at the greenhouse has certainly made things more difficult.  I have had to rely on pain pills more often this past week and have had to skip the Sunday walk with G and Riley (which I enjoy) on two Sundays.  My hip aches.  I am doing stretching exercises to stretch the hip muscles.  Cement floors do not make it easier.  And I tripped and fell into a crate of plants last week.  That didn't help.  I have eleven weeks to rest and repair myself and get ready for Spring and the opening of the greenhouse.  And four more posts to make 1000 in 2010.  Any ideas on a project to work on, in posts, for 2011?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Mail

G brought home the red box filled with chocolate/peppermint Whoopie pies from the Cranberry Island gals who just won a showdown with Bobby Flay on The Food Network (the pies were a gift from his bank).  Not very good pies. Really small. Bobby's must have been terrible. The guy who cleans the carpets at the library makes a better whoopie pie. But the presentation was gorgeous.  Red box filled with red and white zigzag strips, little cello bags filled with the tiny tree shaped chocolate pies and that great ribbon.  Diane sent the super cute puppy Christmas card (such a cute little baby Riley face-kiss, kiss).  LOVE IT!!!!!  And the priority mail was my hand knit scarf from Melody.

But, I got the BEST gift at work today.  Next Thursday is my LAST DAY AT WORK IN 2010.  Yippee!!!! A few people have already had their last day (today). More will have their last day tomorrow. Four more days of complete boredom and then I can get back to super cleaning the house, cooking meals, walking the dog, reading books and, perhaps, baking bread.  And never change out of my pajamas.  Yes, I have walked the dog while still wearing pajamas.  I have a very large, very long and very heavy black coat (2X) which covers a multitude of fashion faux pas. And it covers pajamas.

I was super productive this morning before work (in comparison to other days when I pretty much do almost nothing).  I had to work on the crock pot of pork (shred it and remove icky things), add BBQ sauce and set it back to slow cooking; get dressed for work; find something to eat for lunch; fix my coffee; pack up the car (dog); drive to the supermarket to return something and buy stamps for my Christmas Cards; put stamps on cards while still in grocery parking lot; drive (and almost hit another car) to post office to mail cards: walk next door to buy French baguettes (one short one for my lunch and one long loaf for dinner); drive to doggy daycare; drive to work.  I arrived at 10 minutes to 12.  Whew. Then I watered the remainder of the greenhouse.  D had done all the points in the morning.  Wet feet.  And it was 2.30 and time for lunch.

Anyway.  Today was also pay day.  And oil delivery day at my house.  $326 for 107 gallons of oil (which barely warms up the place at all - most unused rooms are now set on 55). Plus the bandits double charged me for the furnace repair I already paid for. And they offered me a discount if I paid for my oil by December 18.  I got it today.  December 17.  Got to love em.

I was going to watch television but it's now 10.30 so I think I will join Riley and G in the 55 degree bedroom and sleep instead.

If you have a chance, read my daughter's post (Slambo) on the party pretzels she is making.  The top post is about tree lights but the next one is about the pretzels.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Better Late Than Never

The Annual Christmas Cards.  I had several ideas and they were all good but it came down to making something that worked with the photo cards I had purchased at Goodwill last year.  I stitched them to index cards last night before Survivor.  Use what you have.  My motto for 2010.

The stitches give the trees a bit of a Balsam look.  I like them.  Now to address the envelopes and buy some stamps and get them to the post office -- pronto, pronto.

I called out at work.  They wished me a happy day!  G and I were off to Honda in Portland for the Fit's oil change and check up.  We stopped at G's little McD's for breakfast a bit after 8 am and I got to meet and greet his employees and the large group of seniors who have breakfast club there several times a week.  They were exchanging Christmas cards and small gifts.  They were so happy to meet me and let me know what a great guy I married.  Then off to Honda for the oil change with magazines to read and coffee to drink while waiting.

Then the Mall.  Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, Apple, Gap and Eddie Bauer etc and etc. (G met his boss and another manager outside Eddie's and they had a short manager's meeting while I browsed). I even had a Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks with whipped cream.  I bought See's candy from a push cart.  The nuts and chewies collection with a handful of caramel samples thrown in the bag because I said I loved them.  I bought a new cookbook, resisted the iPad, resisted the Cuisinart processor, resisted the 1.5 carat diamond ring (but had my diamond wedding band cleaned for free), bought striped tee shirts ((I'm crazy about stripes right now) and embarrassed G by being rude in Macy's.  I asked if a sweater was on sale and instead of answering, the clerk kept trying to sell me a Macy's card.  Finally, I said "is this on SALE?"  I guess there was an unpleasant edge to my voice that made G wince.

Late lunch at Longhorn.  Too much.  And now G has "gone to pick up the dog" but really he has gone to the phone store to get his phone upgraded to an iPhone because I said he could and he can't wait another second and needs to get it immediately.  I married a man with NO impulse control.  He CAN'T understand why I didn't want the iPad, the $280 food processor or the ring.  But I didn't.

I was just happy that all the snaps on my down winter coat snapped today.  Meaning: it fits.  At least it did before the McD's breakfast sandwich, Starbucks and Longhorn.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Secret Santa Surprises

My Secret Santa left a charming basket for me.  Two lovely mugs filled with hot chocolate mix and candy canes.  She must have heard me talking about the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.  I also have some lovely pomegranate tea for days when I want tea and chocolate candy for any time.

The young man who received my Secret Santa yesterday provided much amusement and laughter all day as he tried to find out "who it was who knows me so well and gave me the perfect gifts".  He thought the presentation was so nice that it had to be a female.  And the little info books were on topics he had been discussing in the lunchroom (surprise to me) so he was making a list of who had been in the room.  Then he would go ask "are you my secret santa?".  I told him that we have to tell the truth.  The funniest thing, all day, was that he and I were working side by side in the greenhouse and he was conferring with me before each person was asked.  And he never directly asked me.  I know he was happy with his Clif Bars and the little books of facts (I gave him what my own bright and intelligent son loved at that age) but the BEST gift was seeing everyone at work so happy, smiling and enjoying this young man's infectious good humor.  What a joy he is to have around.  And, like all young men these days, he never stops talking and has an incredibly fertile wit.

Today is cold.  But not raining.  G and I are going to hang around locally and do some shopping, stop at the library and have a lovely lunch.  Tomorrow my car is being serviced down in Portland and we will shop the mall and have another lovely lunch.  Our very own gift to each other.  Time.  Together.  Like the song "All I want for Christmas is you".

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Beginning To Not Look Like Christmas

At work.  My boss is slowly taking down all the decorated trees and sending any "good" merchandise to the other stores.  Christmas is "ovah" at our location.  I still have plenty of Christmas in the greenhouse. This little point flower broke off the bigger plant and I "saved" it in a water pick.  "Saving" things is something my boss truly, deeply, dislikes.  But I saved this flower to share with you and to use as a model for a second poinsettia art quilt.  The first was wonderfully beautiful.  And is living in Virginia with it's owner.  I will use this image to draw a pattern for the second piece.  Can't wait to try this again.

No lights on the tree as yet.  Plenty of needles on the floor.  Riley is wagging his tail into the tree and making a mess on the floor and carpet.  I went to work today.  Yes, I know I wanted to stay home, but that work ethic so deeply beaten into me by my parents, is very hard to fight.  Work is identity. Or some such slogan.  You are your job.  How's that?

My day wasn't all that bad.  It rained.  And rained.  And the temperature outdoors was 50.  Warmer than Florida or Georgia.  Maine has now defied the odds for the 13th month (in a row) of warmer than average temperatures.  Unheard of in the weather world of statistics. Maine is now the state with the best weather. No, that isn't true. I was just testing you to see if you were paying attention.

My back is aching.  My nose was running all morning and I kept sneezing.  Who has allergies in December?  I'm going to take a shower and settle into my freshly washed pajamas.  Tomorrow is a late day into work so I should be able to make some soup in the morning.  We finally had our pizza tonight and it was good.  G is asleep with his book open in his hands.  Riley is asleep on the kitchen dog bed.  We aren't the zippiest trio.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Post 991/1000

It is really raining here in Maine and more on the way.  I got all the ironing done (listening to Harry Connick), all the laundry is  washed & folded, I ventured out into the dark rain to buy groceries for the week and tried to find something ready made for dinner.  G had stuff from the "wing bar" and leftover rice made into fried rice.  I had lowfat tortillas filled with hummus.

I still have my annual Christmas card to design and make.  The tree needs lights and ornaments. So, I am thinking about calling out for work tomorrow and staying dry (greenhouse roof leaks) and warm here at home.  Using my step stool to hang lights.  And I need to make a large pot of soup for work lunches this week, a loaf of Artisan bread, and we'll be having pizza for dinner tomorrow (the prepared dough was frozen so we couldn't have it tonight). I also bought a huge chunk of pork on sale for more pulled pork (what we don't eat can go in the freezer for after Christmas).  Yikes!  I forgot to buy onions.

Riley came and slept on the dog bed in front of the television for about 90 minutes last night.  That's where the DVD player drawer is terrorizing him.  Baby steps on the road to recovery.

Final Line Drawing

My handy step ladder/chair.  This is also the source of many accidents as I tend to forget that I am standing on one of the steps and just "walk backwards" off the thing.  Landing hard.  The drawing has none of the charm of dents and splattered, dry latex paint.  I've had this item for many years and I always have it close to hand here in the kitchen with it's high cupboards and deep shelves.  Never know what food items are hidden in the deep recesses and of course the lids to plastic food storage containers tend to shuffle towards the back of the cupboards.

My hours for next week have been reduced.  Still five days.  And I called payroll and argued and finally received holiday pay for Thanksgiving.  And, as an added bonus to all the aggravation, I now have 24 sick day hours.

I took extra clothes and dry socks to work on Saturday and didn't need any of it since it got up to 48 during the sunny part of the day and because that is warm in comparison to the morning temperature of 5, I was very warm in shirt sleeves. I also had a lovely "high carb/big butt" lunch of tomato pasta.  The day had all the makings of a nightmare but then we got busy and our boss became cheerful.  Today isn't going to be very happy.  Cold and rain.  One more shopping week till Christmas.

The boss has spoken of closing the greenhouse and of me coming in to work "occasionally" on Saturdays.  Happy Dance.  Really.  Happy, happy dancing!!!!  My nightmare was having to work all winter.  The downside is the unemployment work diary.

I have the second load of laundry in the washer, many many shirts to iron (I think with my little CD player loaded with some Christmas tunes), the bathroom has been sprayed and wiped down (with new shower curtain installed), I am supposed to do some grocery shopping but the rain is coming down pretty hard right now so I may wait a bit and then go.  I grilled chicken on the Panini Grill last night and it wasn't what I expected.  In order to get it brown I also got it dry.  G had to eat it all.  I had steamed broccoli and a cheese rice risotto.  Hard cheeses, so it fit the big butt diet.

What shall I draw now that chairs are done.  Terry has done a lovely pine cone.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Must Get Organized

I have been late to work everyday this week (no one cares) and we haven't had a proper meal since Monday.  The wash is being done but no ironing.  I get home, shower, change into pajamas and that's where the day ends.  Nothing gets started or finished.  I haven't been to the grocery is so long that there is nothing "fresh" in the fridge.  And, I haven't thawed anything.

We skipped the bank cocktail party and my employee "drinks & Pizza" party was cancelled for lack of interest.  It's that kind of Christmas around here.  And it is SO COLD.  I must wear more clothing to work today and take another pair of dry socks with me.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Another Chair

I drew this one from a Crate & Barrel advert.  And colored it in with my pencils because it seemed rather boring as just an outline and I didn't want to "imagine" any surface texture.   I am tired, cranky and tired. I have had a very hot shower and am dressed in my nice warm flannel pajamas, ready to fall asleep as soon as I stop moving.

I am a social person.  An intuitive, social person.  I work for a passive/aggressive employer with a "failure to communicate" problem.  He wanted to deal with some issues he was having with me; so he directed other employees to redo, do, or correct things I was doing without actually talking to me.  Eventually, I started asking my fellow employees if they could "see" me or had I gone invisible and turned into a figment of my own imagination.  When this happens, it's almost like a bad dream you can't wake up from.  I think I was being too efficient. I actually was thinking ahead and not waiting for him to direct me to the next task.  Oops.

Another employee spent all day Tuesday frying peanuts in the basement and at the end of the day she had told me she was going to say something to the boss about the unsanitary conditions in the basement. Today, the boss declared all the peanuts she cooked as being "bad" and they were tossed in the dumpster.  Three people, who had nothing to do with peanuts, were sent to the basement to clean.  I handed out hospital latex gloves because I am the only employee with gloves.  And then a NEW person was instructed in proper peanut frying and she had to fry peanuts the remainder of the day (I know how to fry peanuts but I was invisible today, remember?).  The boss expects (rightly so) that the four employees will complain to the original peanut fryer of the having to clean the basement, scrub the fryers and make new, replacement peanuts.  Because she did them wrong.  How's that for passive/aggressive, huh?  And tomorrow is the"Christmas" evening for the employees (on our own dime).  And that's where the "telling" will happen and she will be there expecting to have a nice evening. OMG.  I just now thought of that.

I think I have only 11 more days to work.

We got another income tax audit.  I think they have big red stickers on our file at the IRS I make so many mistakes.  This is a new mistake.  I have learned from my mistakes on the other issues but I have been expecting this one.  I knew "this" was wrong.  But I couldn't help myself.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My 2010 Christmas Tree

No lights and no ornaments as yet.  I had thought I would work on this today but now have a much hoped for lunch date with a friend.  Don't you just love how the faux French finish on the north facing living walls glows with warmth even on a cold sunless morning?  Now I need to brighten the trim and make IT less gloomy.  Sad to say, but the tiny snowman on the mantle has been there since last Christmas.

I have started a "Projects List" for the winter lay off.  Not a "To Do" list.  One of them is to prepare to enter into the jury process for a co operative art group that sells their work over the summer months.  I was going to try to do this last year, but I was much too busy with classes and spring work at the greenhouse to be able to work on all the little items one needs for a successful "sales" approach.  Small prints, cards, bookmarks, business cards along with the larger pieces.  A good winter project.

I also want to do some interior painting in the house.  Trim. Walls. Doors.  This is a good "thinking" project as I can run things that are bothering me, over in my mind, as I paint.

Moving my art supplies upstairs to the "new" studio.  I had my workspace upstairs originally.  Before it had heat and carpet and was used as a "college graduate returning home" area.  There is wonderful south western light up there and it's a cheerful area.  Perhaps, a good spot for the iPad G wants to buy me for Christmas?  This is a good "Active" project as it means many trips up and down the stairs carrying boxes  of fabric and art supplies.  And I can stop after a box or two and move to something else.

Another project I have considered is renting a dumpster for the winter and filling it with stuff we have stored in the house.  Part of my problem with "putting stuff away" is that there is hardly any room.  With all the junk we never use, never unpack and just push around up in the attic. I have cartons from the move to Germany in 1982 that are still taped closed.  It would be nice to have long tables set up in the attic and have items organized on and under the tables.  One whole table for Christmas.  Another for my decorated dollhouses. Yes, I have a very large attic.  And it will be even nicer when we have a crew come in and put up plastic and drywall.  I wonder if we need electrical outlets before drywall?

I also want to spend time making bread.   I am wondering if that works with the "BIG BUTT" diet plan of low fat, high carbs?  Vegetables and grains.  Now they are dividing us up into three groups.  Big Belly, Big Butt and Big All Over.  There's even a ratio BBR to measure and compare your butt to belly to see if you are a Big Butt or Big Belly.  Wouldn't that make you Big All Over?  I have no trouble deciding on the Big Butt.  And I enjoy eating vegetables and grains.  The Big Belly is a low carb, low sugar diet.  Meat and dairy and bran fiber.  I would hate having to eat meat.

It's time to select my clothes for the day and my lunch date is picking me up at 11.30.  

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Still Life With Berries

I purchased two of these picks (to use on two wrapped gifts if there was a need for two wrapped gifts) and stuck this one into an empty, older, wooden thread spool.  I liked it. So I called around yesterday and found two more and had them transferred to me.  I think I will try the third of our stores and see if they have any.  I love the way this tiny little vignette evokes "Christmas".  Actual colors here. No iPhoto boost.

My husband's workmates managed to have a company Christmas party yesterday.  Sunday, the parents of two long time, important members of the company were in a terrible auto accident.  One died.  So, we weren't in the merriest of moods and they, of course, were not with us.  But, as our leader said, it is Christmas and we do want to share a good meal together.  We also shared a great many alcoholic beverages.  I had three.  And a "chocolate cake" shooter which was mostly vodka.  Because of the number of beverages and the quantity of tequila in each drink, I enjoyed the tableside cooking/entertainment much more than usual.  It's that Japanese thing with the onion volcano and the twirling of cooking tools and the flipping of rice balls into the mouths of the 7 people in the audience at our table (one of five tables).  Our chef flipped tiny rice balls to six and when it came to me, he had a giant ball and I put up my hands, laughing, and said "No!!!".  Usually, I would be grumpy and not much fun.

Some of the need for alcohol was that we had had a really stressful and F***** up day at work.  We never laugh at work.  We complain a lot.  We get angry at each other.  And, to top it off, not one customer wishes us a happy holiday.  I say it to everyone I wait on.  I treat every repot like it's going to my house. I feel like I'm working in Potterville.  (It's A Wonderful Life).

I apologized to my greenhouse coworker regarding my stress levels when five carts of poinsettias showed up unannounced (we had to rearrange whole tables) and she said she found me stress free and in fact measured her stride to mine to calm herself down.  Imagine that?

Instead of making more Holiday Boxes, I wrapped pine cones in wire and attached the little trios to a stick.  We use two of these pine cone sticks for each Holiday box.  We had run out and needed more.  And instead of having the teenagers at the front counter make them (oh, they do an awful job), I said, let me do them, right.  Less stress for the person making the Boxes.  Usually, me.

My Christmas Tree is up in the living room and we had to move several pieces of furniture to fit it in  but I love the full, bouncy branches and the way the top presses into the ceiling, like the tip is up in the attic with a star on top.  The tree is "wild".  Not trimmed.  This is the kind of tree I remember from my childhood in the early 1950's.  I wish I had the large box of "special" ornaments we selected each Christmas when I was a child.  My mother gave it to my drunk brother and he left it someplace he had to vacate in the middle of the night.  The beautiful nativity also.  They don't make ornaments like that anymore.  And I refuse to buy the cheesy ones from China.  I do frequent antique stores looking for the ornaments I remember.  Too few.  Too fragile.  And there was the "big" tree accident one year when I caught my sweater on a tree limb and pulled the tree over.  A good number of my santas and angels were broken.  I cried.

Tomorrow, I will unwind the 600 new lights I bought at Target and get them on the tree.  G will bring the ornament box down from the attic.  I will take all the sock monkeys off the small tree and put them on this tree and I may buy six of the pink, red and white swirled ornaments we have at work.  Sparkly. It's beginning to look like Christmas.  We even have some snow!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Why Do I Always Mess Up On The Right Side?

I drew the chair in my living room, while G vacuumed all the floors.  We've already walked the dog.  In the woods.  I painted the chair because of all the mistakes I have made on the right side chair arm.  I thought the paint might distract you.  I like the way the pillows turned out.

We had company purchased pizza for lunch yesterday.  One way of making sure no employees leave the building during a busy weekend.  A handyman came by, just in time to eat a large quantity of slices and then leave when all the "meat" pizza was gone.  Our boss invited him.  This guy bathes once a year whether he needs to or not.  I was supposed to eat lunch while he was there but waited until he had finished eating and had left the building.  Thank goodness the veggie pizza was untouched.

I spent the entire day, yesterday, standing in one spot, on cement flooring, making Holiday Boxes. My back hurts, my hip hurts, my shoulders hurt.  More of the same tomorrow.

The walk in the woods today was difficult with the uneven ground.  Riley was full of himself and ran around like crazy.  Saturday he visited with cows again on his walk with our daughter.  Another 10 minutes of watching their every Mooove.

I'm thinking it's time for lunch.  And perhaps a visit to Target.  And the tree can be brought into the house.  I need to buy new lights as the old faithful strings are no longer dependable.  I don't think a tree with two dim strings and one extra bright string (all connected) looks all that wonderful.  It looks like a fire waiting to happen.  Hopefully, we'll have tree pictures this week.  Still have laundry to fold and shirts to iron.  Wow.  My days are riveting aren't they?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wicker Chair & The Reluctant Gift Receiver

Lots of lines here. More than I was willing (or able) to draw.  But I got in some interesting lines before I decided to stop.  I wanted to post before taking my shower.  I'm tired and the hot water will dissolve any thought processes I might still have.  At 8.33.

Tomorrow is the "big day".  A major Christmas shopping event.  Though I think we did pretty good today since the cashiers had to change the register tapes at least once on each register.  I have no idea what people are buying.  My flowering plant tables always look like a jumble sale after I have turned my back on them to do something in another area.  But when I straighten them out (put the plants back in straight line formation) it seems like no one is missing.  The Poinsettias are falling apart.  Branches get broken off so easily.  Customers ask "Is this all you have?"  because usually I am arranging 8 full greenhouse tables of flowers.  This year it's four tables.  And gaps on the tables.

The Loader guys are getting tips and usually pretty good ones.  They are happy.  Selling Christmas trees. My tree is standing up against the garage wall, waiting for a clean cut and to be screwed into the tree stand.  I think G wanted a new stand.  I must ask.

I have put my name in the Secret Santa Box for our employee gift exchange (what was I thinking?).  I pulled the slip of paper for our newest employee (it's a secret).  Exactly one day on the job.  And I get to buy him a gift.  He likes exotic plants, soup, muscle cars (he, like all men, talks all the time).  I asked if he could fix the leak in my greenhouse hose and he did.  Worth a great present.  My pants stayed dry from the knees down today.  This college kid has been wiring pinecones and bows onto wreaths for two full days now.  He closes his eyes while twisting the wire and looks like he is practicing Zen meditations.  Fascinating.  He got to pick a name out of the box (several times) until he picked a name of a person he actually had met and knew (at the suggestion of the other Christmas room employees).  Too funny.

The best part of the Secret Santa program is that everyone tries to find out who has who.  I told the new guy to smile and say "I have you" to everyone who asks.  It's what I do. And this time, LOL, it will be TRUE if he asks me!!!!  It doesn't stop people from discussing who THEY have with me or anyone else, for that matter.

I'm just running on here.  Time for bed.  The reluctant gift receiver is me. G wants to buy me an iPad for Christmas.  I am thinking about it.

Carrot "Lines"

This morning I am waking slowly, doing little, thinking a great deal.  Still emotional.  Dee and Roger are weighing on my mind and heart more than usual.  I know it is all for the best.  That what is happening is a good thing. That sounds so odd.  A good thing.  When all is going painfully wrong.  It is the way my heart sees it. My heart goes it's own way. Intuitive.

Gray, cold, wet outside.  But yesterday the sunshine surprised us in the greenhouse and we had to layer down to stay cool.  I even propped one greenhouse door open for a breeze.  51 on December 2nd. So I decided to make a salad for my lunch at work.  Slicing orange carrots into little batons.  Adding Romaine, Feta and olives.  Measuring the salad dressing.  Cutting a wedge of cheese focaccia from Big Sky Bakery in Portland (next to Artist Supply).  A cold lunch but I haven't made any soup.  Yet. A cold lunch in hopes of some warming sunshine today.

My dog walking green corduroy pants are looser than usual today.  No wedgie when seated.  The pant legs are falling over the top of my feet.  The heavier I get, the shorter my pant legs.  I am going to be positive about this and not wonder what I weigh.  I will be pleased that the dog walking pants are wedgie free and long.  I am trying to be "mindful" of what I eat.  It helps to be busy with work.

I am going upstairs to water my plants.  Packing my salad.  Emptying the dishwasher (G turned it on before work).  Riley is looking out the window, his body pressed to the baseboard heater.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Three Weeks

Another chair in the line drawing project.  I added the nail trim to the arm design today and will try and color in the chair tomorrow.  I am very tired, had to take a pain pill because my hip was aching, did many things and worked an extra 30 minutes.  G stopped in to load our Christmas Tree into the truck and bring it home.  A very big, fat tree.  A "wild" balsam.  Meaning it has wide open spaces between the branches.  I can really load it up with ornaments.

We have finished all the turkey dinner leftovers.  Everything but the pie.

I have 19 more posts to write to finish the year with 1000 posts.  I have found I really enjoy opening the blog and just writing each day (or so) without any expectation of being funny, cheerful, informative or even interesting.  I just have to show up and be ME.  If I hadn't tried to reach 1000, I wouldn't have discovered the freedom of blogging without a plan.  It's nice if people read, but that isn't the goal any longer.  It's almost like writing a letter to the Universe and expecting nothing in return.

I was sentimental today.  Telling a story of sending my son off to California so many years ago, just before Christmas.  And calling him on Christmas Eve and discovering that the box I sent, hadn't arrived. My child was alone in a strange apartment, as far away from Maine as he could be (and still be in America), with a new job and he didn't even have any Christmas.  While I was talking to him the doorbell to his apartment rang and there was the UPS guy with his large Christmas box.  Not a dry eye so many years ago nor today in the lunchroom.  He's probably reading this and saying "hey, it was okay".

Tomorrow is another long day but only three weeks left before I get laid off for the winter.  This weekend is the busiest weekend before Christmas for a garden center.  Trees, wreaths and Holiday Boxes.  We have a new employee who started work this morning and he wired pinecones, berries and a bow to many, many wreaths today.  He did a wonderful job.  He was just what we needed right now.  The Universe must have sent him.  Thank You!!!!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Two Chairs

I am enjoying drawing each of the chairs in my journal but there is bleed through on the pages and I am frustrated by the lack of the "correct" art supplies for filling in the chair colors and patterns.  It was fine when I was just doing an outline.  The right arm of this chair is covered in the next chair's detail.

The pattern was the main focus for this chair.  I loved the way the wavy stripe was used to upholster the chair. Perspective. And, of course, the squishy soft seat cushion which I am thinking is wrapped in down.  The blue chair is slipcovered in blue linen.

I need to locate my large set of colored pencils.  I am using the 12 pencil Prang now, because I wanted to eliminate a great deal of art supplies during the last few months (when I did very little colored pencil work).  Time to bring back the 100 pencil set.  Prismacolor.  And the Neocolor crayons.  OR  I could just move my journal down to the work room (where everything is stored in a cupboard) and have everything out littering the table top.  A great jumble of art supplies at my fingertips.  24/7.  Fascinating.  Sort of a "real" artist's work area.

G has gone to get his haircut and manicure.  He loves having his nails done (in a manly sort of way) and his hands are on display all day at the front counter of his restaurant.  So, it makes him feel more confident.  The first time I suggested a manicure he wasn't all that sure he wanted to have one.  Now, I never have them.  After years of having my nails done every 4 weeks, I have gone to clipping them as short as possible to eliminate as much dirt under the nails from work.  And, at Christmas, my hands are covered in dirt and pine pitch.

When G returns we will take Riley for his walk in the woods and then I think we will use most of a tank of $3 gas and drive to Portland and visit the art supply store, Trader Joe's if we can find a spot to park, and perhaps Whole Foods.  Because it will be cold in the car, we may just get take out from our favorite restaurant and reheat it at home.  Traveling with a dog is tricky in winter.

I started reading my new Wolfe book "The Taken"last night but my eyes got very tired at 9:30 and I fell asleep and woke at 1:30, let Riley out/in and went to bed.  I have a white load of laundry in the washer and that's about all I have done so far today.  I need to be dressed and ready to walk when G returns.  I have some red and yellow Mickey Mouse tulips I need to plant.  Special price so I just had to buy them.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chair Two- Line Project

I flipped through a magazine until I found a chair that I liked the shape of and then I drew it, straight on.  Not exact but not a contour drawing.  I may try that next.  I love the way a contour drawing morphs the subject into something "else".  Not quite what you had in mind.  Sort of like the parallel world in Fringe. I was also considering drawing the chairs in my living room.

I finished my book last night.  A bit of a poof at the end, but still good. Like the roller coaster.  All the excitement is packed into the beginning and middle and by the time you get back to the gate, you are exhausted and bewildered.  I think I will start the second book this evening.  Still nothing on television.

Work again.  Another long day.  I have a full Thermos of coffee and little else.  Can't find anything for lunch in the fridge.  We are working our way through the leftover Thanksgiving dinner (I had to make a second batch of gravy last night).  Brussels sprouts are finished and so is the cranberry sauce.  G has another serving of turkey and then that is finished also.  The stuffing, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes will run out at the same time, probably at lunch (G) or dinner (me) today.  And I can make potato cakes out of the remaining mashed potatoes.  Then I will have to COOK again.  Black Bean Bisque I think for lunches, laced with plenty of heavy cream.  We still have pie.

I mixed up a batch of Pumpkin Dip to serve with Gingersnaps.  It's a combo of cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar and spices which tastes like pumpkin pie filling.  A bit too loose, I think, and not cheesy enough.  If the crowd at work doesn't eat it, I will bring it back home and turn it into a pumpkin tiramisu.  Why even take it to work now that I have this delicious new idea?  But I promised them a treat.

We put our names in the Secret Santa box yesterday and as soon as everyone has their name in, we will pick our secret santa recipient.  As usual, the anticipation was greater than the actual final gift last year, which was a disappointment for me. But I had a great deal of fun choosing what to give my person.  And wrapping the gift so it looked fabulous. Yesterday people were talking about the things they had gotten last year and how much they loved the gifts. Do you find the wrapped gift so much more exciting than what is inside?  I can imagine all sorts of delights under the wrapping.  That's my problem, I guess.  I imagine things that couldn't possibly exist in a wrapped present.  For me.  Reality never matches up to fantasy in my head.  That is probably why I never want anyone to buy me a gift anymore.  I'm fiddling with my "new" Hello Kitty" watch as I type.  G brought it home for me.  A Happy Meal Toy.  I'm trying to like it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Am Reading A Book

Yes, indeed. And I read it for several hours and would have gone on to the end if not for the early start to my day at work today.  It is a creepy, suspenseful, wonderful first novel with the lead character a 61 year old woman with a bad back.  The author's name on the book is a pseudonym for a well known novelist and the name should have an "e" on the end of Wolfe (bad cropping).  We have already been introduced to two very intriguing detectives who will be working alongside our heroine, Hazel.  I recommend it to you!  I have her second book sitting, waiting.  But not for long.

Work was too early, too cold, too long and I am exhausted.  I made Holiday Boxes all day.  I really should snap a picture of a Holiday Box for you.  It's meant for graves, on Christmas.  But I think people use them on their front steps and other stuff like that.  We are also making State of Maine wreaths.  Everyone wants them for their front door or on all their house windows.  I did that once.  It looked very nice but I never did it again.  Perhaps, this year?  With a 30% discount.

We are going to eat, I think, (reheat our leftovers) but G is dragging his feet.  I have had my shower and enough hot water to be very warm and relaxed. I guess I could skip eating and go directly to reading.  We got catalogs in the mail.  Lovely.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Line Drawing

Here it is almost one o'clock on Sunday afternoon. I've done two loads of wash, gone for a walk in the woods with G & Riley, sung Happy Birthday to G, eaten breakfast and now have plans to go have lunch with a good friend.  G has gone to the movies with our daughter.  Riley has eaten his lunch and is falling sleep on the dog bed, in the sun.

My line drawing for today (I confess to missing quite a few days) is of a chair.  I adore big, cushy chairs. This is from an advert in a magazine and I used my favorite brush pen because of the uneven line it makes. I'm seriously thinking of buying new chairs.  Until then, I will draw them.

The ground in the woods seemed to be frozen pretty hard and the leaf litter was all frosted with crunchy white.  I think I am feeling ready to buy a Christmas Tree and get it up and decorated earlier than usual.  So I can enjoy the twinkly lights.  I am thinking of hanging my sock monkey collection on the tree this year.  With red and white ornaments and a few sock colored items.  And of course I'll fill in with all the assorted stuff I have in the ornament box.  Which is quite a large box a ham came in, one Christmas.

That's all I have for you today.  We are well, happy, warm and content on this final Sunday in November.  I have no complaints.  I thought my shoe was a bit tight at the beginning of the walk, but it worked itself out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Snow & Chocolate Pie Research

Friday we had sleet covered, slick roads in the morning.  Saturday, today, the roads were clear but the parking lot at work was covered in rough ice and I worried that I would slip and fall.  By the time I left work at 5 pm, snow was falling.  Big flakes like the ones in a snow globe.  Winter is here a whole month early.  It feels cold here in the house tonight, but at work, the sun was pouring through the greenhouse windows and it was HOT.

My day was neither good nor bad.  It just was a long day of making Holiday Boxes.  I started with a back up of 7 and after working all day making boxes, I ended with a back up of 7.  And we had to set up the coffee and cake table.  Seems we weren't done with coffee and cake.  Thought we were, but we were incorrect.

I am continuing on my quest for info on the chocolate pies for Thanksgiving.  Annie isn't from Maine and has always had chocolate pie.  My friend K always has chocolate pie but not always for Thanksgiving.  I have lived in five states and believe that chocolate pie was a required holiday pie in only two.  Maine and Illinois.  Baker's Square Chocolate Pie was required at any and all events when I lived outside of Chicago.  It was always very difficult for me to choose: banana cream or chocolate pie? I am also finding that there is a divide between pudding mix chocolate and one made with cornstarch, eggs and milk.  I also discovered that whatever chocolate pie you ate first in your life, is now the "real" pie and the only one that will ever be "the" pie.  I had no idea feelings were this strong when it came to chocolate pie.  We don't have a "pie restaurant" here in Maine (that I know of) so I am going to have to continue doing pie research throughout the winter. I know.  Hard work.

Tomorrow is G's birthday and he is going to the movies with our daughter (and eating popcorn and having a big soft drink). I am not.  We will also be walking in the frozen cold woods with Riley.  Monday I begin working more hours at work.  The holiday work schedule.  Friday I have been invited to a cookie exchange party.  Driving in the dark.  Not happy about that even though I do love a party.  On Monday, December 5th, we are attending the company party for my husband's job.  Thursday of that week my husband's bank is having a cocktail party.  And then, it's all over.  No more parties.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had a party every week and not three in 7 days.  Not that we have ever made it to all the parties we are invited to in December because bad weather limits our attendance.  I will not risk our life and automobile just for cocktails and bacon wrapped scallops.

I also have to decide and work on the tree card I am sending this year.  And do laundry and iron shirts and change the bed sheets and water the plants upstairs.  And read my three books.  Sigh.

Friday, November 26, 2010

And Then There Was Pie

A day late, but who cares?  Dinner yesterday was delicious.  The brined turkey was tender, moist and velvet textured.  Even my daughter loved it.  And ate it.  But G didn't feel well after eating half his dinner (queasy) and so that kind of ended the celebration part of the meal.  I packed the food, washed the dishes and played some Bananagram with my daughter.  G was resting on the couch.  We never even served the pie.

G and Riley had the day off today.  A day that began with sleet, cold, dark weather but included sun after lunch.  And a good walk in the woods.  And a squirrel to chase.  G managed a light lunch at 3 and is now enjoying his pie and coffee and reading the newspapers I brought him from work.

Work was slow.  We have lots of large corporate sales and that is a very good thing.  I watered, cleaned, counted and did various things as the day flew by, which, I believe, is a good thing.  More of the same tomorrow and I already packed leftover vegetable dishes for my lunch.

I missed the real excitement on Wednesday as one employee had a varicose vein burst and because she has an ulcer near the vein, the blood escaped into a pool by her shoe.  The EMT's were called and compresses were pressed, leg was bandaged and blood was mopped up.  All is well.  I had no idea something like this could happen.  It was a VERY GOOD THING that I had the day off.

I think I will make a cup of tea and polish off the remainder of my piece of excellent pumpkin pie.  Question: Is chocolate pie on your Thanksgiving menu?  It's the pie mentioned first here in Maine.  Made with chocolate pudding mix and covered in Cool Whip.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep In Progress

I made a trip to the library and then the grocery store for last minute ingredients for The Pioneer Woman's Favorite Turkey Brine.  Brown sugar and an orange.  The sage, thyme and rosemary came from my garden.  I skipped the apple juice.  And the picture above is two turkey thighs, a turkey neck, carrots and onions all roasting to a lovely deep brown and going into the stock pot for gravy. The turkey is brining in a bag out on the porch surrounded by ice cubes. The salt and sugar is doing something molecular to the turkey and making it moist and tender.  I brined once before and the turkey was delicious but the gravy was way too salty.  So I am making a separate stock this time.

My pumpkin pie is baked.  I decided we should skip the pumpkin cheesecake since eating lots of dairy isn't a good idea just after food poisoning.  Half the sweet potatoes are baked.  I managed to find and buy 35 nice sized Brussels Sprouts and my daughter wants them roasted this year.  I still have stuffing and acorn squash to prepare and the green bean casserole to assemble.  Yes, we are heavy on vegetable side dishes. We all have a favorite and it's not the same one so I have to make them all.

Dinner is at 5 tomorrow.  Sam is bringing dinner rolls.

G's employees had a birthday cake for him today decorated with tools.  A Handy Man Cake. Because he can fix almost everything at work. Wasn't that nice of them?  He said the cake and buttercream frosting were "very sweet" so he had a very small slice. G was born on Thanksgiving Day, in time for dinner.  Sunday is the actual birthday this year but we always celebrate on Thanksgiving Day.  Never have to wonder what to serve. LOL.

I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Thanksgiving Day.  I give thanks every day for the thoughtful, kind and generous readers who visit Wednesday's Child.  It may seem silly, but the blog and it's readers are like an extended family or neighborhood for me.  I feel connected to all of you, even the ones who haven't made themselves known to me yet.  I know you're out there reading and that's a very "good thing".  Be safe.  Be warm.  Be happy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Home Again, Safe and Sound

I worked all day, no problems and ate some of the "snack table" crackers when I felt hungry. Drank my tea and a cup of water.  Tried to eat an apple but gave up at the halfway point.  Did manage to eat my soup. No problems getting dizzy at work or in the car.  G says he was "marginal" at work today.  But he worked the entire day.  Riley was so ready to go to doggie day care this morning that he was grumbling when I stopped to put the bills in the mailbox.  "Get going", he seemed to be saying, "yesterday was REAL boring".

I decided not to have any guests for Thanksgiving Dinner with the food poisoning and all.  This way I won't have to cook and clean (bleach everything) and I don't think I can do both.  And the meal can be served casually, off the stove, family style.  Or as a friend's 4 year old said years ago, "are we eating messy?"

Anyway, G has already eaten and I'm not all that hungry.  DWTS tonight.  We'll see if the "haters" can overpower the Tea Party.  Or they will award the Dancing Trophy to the Pistol, who never even tried to learn to dance.  I can tell because she hasn't lost any weight and all of the others, who work out with the dance routines, always lose lots of weight.

Bristol has started using the words and phrases her Mama Bear uses when anyone criticizes.  Haters.  And like her mama, she thought it was enough to just want the title and trophy.  No reason to actually work hard and learn something.  Just let mom steamroller her fans into giving you the whole thing.  Like wanting to be President but not wanting to do any WORK to actually qualify for the job.  I believe any of us could be President, but I would like to think that "any of us" would take the time to become qualified for the job. You betcha.

A Lost Day

Remember I mentioned eating out on Sunday?  Or maybe I just think I did.  We had Mexican food at 3 or 4 on Sunday and by 10 pm I decided I was coming down with flu like "something".  Sweating and shivering.  It took awhile longer for G to feel the effects but when he did, he was throwing up.  Midnight on.  The only thing we ate in common was the salsa.  I had one bite and didn't like the taste, too hot.  G ate the rest.  G had paperwork and inventory on Monday, early so he was off to work at 5 am, stopping twice on the 20 minute drive to throw up.  I was up and dressed for work about an hour late, but decided I couldn't manage to go.  So back into my pajamas and into bed. G joined me at 10am.  We slept until Riley demanded his lunch.  I got up and let him outside, fed him and then climbed onto the couch and fell back to sleep.  G and I woke up around 3:30.  Next thing I knew it was 8.  Somewhere after that I had tried to eat something but couldn't.  Cream of wheat.  Couldn't swallow it.  Went back to bed at 10 and slept all night.

Here it is morning and I still feel terrible.  Can't eat.  I know it would help if I had something in my stomach.  But I can't swallow any food without getting sick to my stomach .  I'm having tea with tons of sugar.  Can't drink coffee.

Because I work till 6 this evening, I have already baked chicken and made rice for G's dinner.  I just have to cool everything down and prepare broccoli for steaming.  It's 8:30.  My back hurts.  I feel dizzy. I plan on taking a shower to see if that brightens my spirits.  I can always leave work but I worry about driving when I am dizzy and feeling faint.  I should plan ahead for safe places to pull off the road.

Anyway, I am still shivery.  And time keeps slipping away from me.  I could easily return to bed. But I still haven't paid the bills and I need to do that today.  And a load of laundry.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Post 972

No picture as it's very dark and the only bright spots are the full moon outside and the computer screen inside.  G and I just stopped at the grocery to buy the items I needed for dinner on Thursday.  No parsley or Brussels sprouts.  So, I have to run out again on Wednesday. And I bought G the wrong yogurt brand.  Duh!

I did get 2 boxes of Nabisco Gingersnaps ($3.99 each) so I can make the crust for the pumpkin cheesecake and for the Pumpkin Dip to take to work as a little treat.  I also managed to get two turkey thighs (which nearly cost more than the 14 pound on sale turkey) to roast with vegetables on Wednesday for the base of my turkey gravy.  Gravy is the very best part of Thanksgiving dinner, followed by sweet potatoes and stuffing.  And cranberry sauce.  I got the ingredients for green bean casserole also.  What I didn't get was anything specific for dinner on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  I think I'll be shopping in the freezer and cupboard for those meals. I don't have to worry about Friday, Saturday and Sunday meals!!!!

G and I walked the dog this afternoon and then G watered the plants upstairs and I ironed shirts.  The dog towels are in the drier.  I just have the household bills to pay and then I'm done for the day.  I found my pumpkin cheese cake recipe with penciled in remarks (G said I never made one, but obviously I did) so that is good and I bought eggs.  Real shell eggs for the cheesecake batter.

It's very, very cold (to me) outside.  The ground on our walk was crunchy with frost.  I am finding it hard to get warm and stay warm outside of my bed with the linen sheets and heavy down comforter.  Linen is an amazing fiber.  Within a few minutes of getting into bed, the linen sheets warm up (the room temp is around 50) and I am all cozy and asleep.  Winter is here.  Ready or not.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sometimes the Universe Speaks

I have been hating my job of late, as you all well know from the constant whining on this blog, but sometimes the Universe says something and it's nice if you pay attention and listen.  The Universe has been sending me messages, and while I listen, I haven't actually HEARD what is being said.  Today.  I got it.

Customers have been taking the time to stop and talk to me this week about the change my classes and information have made in their gardening lives.  A gentleman says he has had the best vegetable garden of his life this year.  A woman today mentions that my class in houseplants gave her the courage to try African Violets again and they are thriving and blooming.  And today I heard what the Universe was saying.  What I can actually do, actually accomplish, does matter.  Does make a difference.  The rest doesn't have anything to do with me.  I can only affect the things that are entirely under my direction.

My attitude.  The information I share.  The joy of gardening that I convey.  My hands covered in dirt, patting a plant into a new pot, sending it off to a new home.  My love of teaching.  The kindness and friendship I share with my classes and coworkers.  They all know me.  They always smile and say hello when we cross paths at the greenhouse.  I have done the right thing at this job.

I have to let go of trying to control the bad things I have no control over.  My boss doesn't spray insecticide (I don't know why as spraying is a necessary thing in a commercial greenhouse).  We have bugs.  Nothing I can do to change it ( I have mentioned the bugs to him on three occasions recently).  Just accept this. My boss throws away anything I save and store by my potting bench (this week: terra cotta pot shards and a large bag of pebbles -- I did find my scissors!).  He also put a good number of bales of straw in the dumpster.  This kind of waste of a compostable item makes me angry.  I have pulled things out of the dumpster before.  This time they were wedged in too tightly and I couldn't get even one out.  Things like this weigh heavily on me.  I can't do anything about these things.  I have to let them go.

The Universe also sent two of my dearest friends from my guilting chapter to the greenhouse today.  It was good to see them again after so long.  Three years at least.  To smile and to laugh with them.

Today (our Christmas Open House at work) was a good day.  I was happy.  I worked.  I talked. I had a Peppermint Mocha decaf, soy, low fat coffee from Starbucks.  I didn't eat any cookies. "A" saved me some white "garbage" roses to take home. N saved the coffee grounds, from all the coffee we made for the refreshment table, for me to take home.  I saved a metal cookie tin to take home for craft supplies.  I reminded the boys to empty the trash so the Sunday crew starts fresh.  I had intended to check the paper towels and toilet paper in the two bathrooms but time ran out.  G called me at work to ask me to step outside and look at the moon (at 4 pm) rising in the pink and grey sky, all fat and full.

So, I invited everyone to step outside and look at the rising full moon with me.  The Universe was speaking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Final Four Line Experiments

Of the black gesso page.  The crow didn't come out as I had wanted so I will probably try again on a different paper.  I added paper collage to the last square with "gone".  And the light wasn't as good this time.  Isn't it odd that the sun makes it more difficult to take a photo?  The sun is shining today.  And the sun came out on Wednesday, just in time for Riley's walk.  So we walked.

This morning I have to make soup for my lunch.  I have been meaning to make soup every day this week and here it is Friday.  No soup.  So Riley and I went out into the now frozen garden and cut some kale and I am now making the Tomato Kale soup from Love Soup.  Everything is bubbling away in the big pot and the onions and garlic are "coloring" in a small frying pan.  I haven't even had breakfast yet. I now have my first cup of coffee by my right hand.

G and I went for barbeque last night.  Beale Street in Bath.  It was very good.  I had beef brisket with two sides of cole slaw and no corn bread.  I also had a Margarita.  Things are bad at work.  Mine, not his.  Though he is struggling to be a "manager" and train his staff and not just wait on customers.

G says it is hard to see that I "like my job" as I don't have much to say that is positive.  I remember, in my first year at the greenhouse, G asking me each evening at dinner to tell him about the best thing that happened that day.  I would have to think hard but  I could usually come up with a "best" thing to talk about eventually.  I don't think I could if he was asking now.  Too many straws on this camel's back.  Too many wrongs and not enough rights.  I did manage to arrange a woody Algerian Ivy around a metal topiary frame for a customer.  It took an hour.  Looked wonderful and got compliments from my coworkers.  BUT.  The customer is a nasty piece of work.  Which sort of cancels out any good vibes I got from the work.  And she blamed me for the death of that plant I repotted in the dark on Saturday evening.  She returned it soaking in water, limp and dying.   That "girl" did this, she said.  Did not.

Soup is tasting good.  Why not have soup for breakfast?  Don't the Japanese eat a soup for breakfast? Something with seaweed.  Or do they eat Egg McMuffins now.

A vegetarian friend was worried about her teenage son not growing.  He was much shorter than his friends and getting depressed about a life of being short (both parents are tall).  Almost 16.  So she encouraged him to start eating meat. He had never eaten meat and found the texture unpleasant.  And then he fell in love with McDonald's. Drives there every day.  And is now a bit taller than his 5 foot 10 mom.  The Chinese and Japanese are now taller because of more protein in a fast food diet.  Changing the world one burger at a time.  We get fat and they get taller and stronger.

I think I will fold the clothes in the dryer, put the washed clothes in the dryer and start a load of dog towels.  And have a bowl of cereal, pack my bowl of hot soup for lunch and go to work.