Monday, January 31, 2011

Creative Book Tags

I found my manila tags in that "box" that seemed to have been packed with everything I could possibly desire this week.  I found the piece of cardboard box with stamps in the library book sale bag (which I finally emptied).  These may or may not be finished but it was a fun activity.  I even stopped eating to paste up all these tags.  It was only my breakfast oatmeal, but still, I stopped half way thru.  I did finish the oatmeal after I ran out of glue stick.

G has EOM (end of month) work this evening so he is napping.  Riley is napping.  We have to visit Wally World to pick up prescriptions for G's cough which is getting worse.  We may have time to go to Staples to get a printer cartridge.

Since I will be eating alone this evening, I will be having my own rendition of the 111Maine Street Harvest Plate.  Steamed butternut squash, kale and roasted beets.  That's the way 111 served it.  I will be roasting the butternut and serving a much larger portion of the kale.  I LOVE kale.  I discovered that I did love kale at 111.  I am thankful to them for serving it to me.

Today's horoscope directs me to finish something I have started even if I no longer care about it.  That could be any number of things.  It also directs me to do more of the things that bring me joy.  How could I possibly write more blog posts????

I think today is the day I call QVC to request another Pilates machine as the weld on the frame has caused me to stop doing any of the Feet In Straps exercises or any of the others that cause the platform to bounce over an uneven weld on the frame.  The hesitation and then the bounce has caused me pain. I watched the demo machines on QVC last night and they all slide smoothly over that seam.  It was only as I got better at my exercises that I noticed.  I am deeply saddened.  I love my machine.  Because I am a pessimist, I think any other machine that replaces this one may have a smooth slide but may not be as wonderful in all the other ways.  Today is the day I call.  The Pilates brings me joy.

I need to wake G up so we can get our errands done.  I will see if Wally World has kale in the grocery section.  And beets.

I will be adding a garden blog to the sidebar.  Margaret Roach.  A delightful blog (I don't need to write one now) and she covers a great many subjects which you can get to with a simple click.  I love a well designed blog.  I now know that you pronounce Clivia  like Clive.  Clive e ah.  That alone is worth putting her in the sidebar.  Now to discover the correct way to say Peony.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

News Flash -- Table/Clean

I vacuumed it.  After my Pilates I was looking for something aerobic to do since G was walking Riley.  I got out the vacuum.  While cleaning under the table, I thought, why not vacuum the table top?  Way easier than trying to get all the salt, sesame seeds and assorted grit off the rough surface of the table.  I haven't seen this much "table" since the boyfriend came to dinner.  Yes, G takes enough meds to fill those little containers.  They used to belong to my dad.

I added 6 minutes of cardio on the rebounder today and used the timer because 2 minutes is either a long time, or it isn't.  It wasn't as long as I thought it would be.  QVC has a different Pilates machine on sale right now and the show is on at 5 pm.  I caught a few minutes of it last evening and came away with a few exercises.  Especially one for the butt.  I tried it for 10 reps on each leg today.  I didn't "feel" it so know I am not doing it correctly.  And one of my wheels has started to squeak.  When I watched that few minutes I had a whole different way of looking at what the demonstrators were doing.  Whole different way.  I even visited a Pilates site with just floor exercises and tried one and after one try, my feelings were "oh, sh*t" am I not ready for this.  I have a long way to go.

I'm reading Anne Tyler's Noah's Compass.  I believe I started reading this book when it first came out but didn't finish it.  It is slow and boring but I am going to read the whole thing.  Next up is Elizabeth George.  She has lots of books so I figure I can be busy reading her for the remainder of the winter.  I like Inspector Lynley.  And England is sort of near to Sweden?  Nearer than I am in Maine even though Maine does resemble Sweden. A lot.

PBS has the final installment of Downton Abbey tonight.  Who will Mary marry?  Pretty obvious.  Will the ladies maid get her comeuppance?  Probably not.  Will they replace the blind cook?  So many plot lines in such a simple little story.  I wish there were more episodes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sorting/Finding/Working My Way

I emptied two plastic storage boxes and found some things I had forgotten I owned and some things that have been lost for quite awhile.  I found a picture of myself, probably taken more than ten years ago or more, working at the library.  238 pounds, at least.  Round. Lumpy. Dumpy. Moon Faced.  My 2X clothing stretched around my very large middle.  I thought I had a waist because I always wore a belt.

That was a good thing to find today.  I don't want to go back to that.

I added "stretch" under the Do Not Bend after I took the pictures of this spread in my Art Journal.  I am coming to the end of the book.  Only a few pages to go.  I found the X-ray picture in those boxes.  Sometimes the Universe sends you such a clear message.  Create. Build. Do Not Bend. And the added Stretch.  The start of a new journal is always exciting.  What direction will I take?

I also found a box of watercolor brush pens (almost as exciting as Christmas), a bag of mechanical pencils (Suduko pencils), and a small square watercolor pad.  Really, it doesn't get more exciting than this.  These are things I will need if I plan to be doing new things, staying busy.

My back aches from the exercises.  Not pain, just an ache.  G had a bad day at work (slow) and Riley had woken him up twice last night for no apparent reason (1 and 3am).  I have dinner heating up and then I think a nice hot shower and an early bedtime for G.  He is off tomorrow.  I have a choice of two books to read or I can sort and clean out the "Paid Bills" file cabinet and then shred the old bills for the compost pile.  I also have a stack of squares that need circles appliqued.  A long way past Nothing.


I have nothing to say. It's 10.30 and I have woken late, stared at the computer screen, seen nothing interesting, eaten my oatmeal etc.  Now, upstairs to exercise and then walk the dog.  I hope that some spark of interest will happen between now and the end of the dog walk.  Possibly, in the shower.

I can't go on this way.  Drifting through days without a focus or working on goals, even a cleaning goal would be effective now.  I was "engaged" yesterday in social activity but today I feel I have nothing of interest ahead of me for the day.  I am lost, far off the usual path.  Finding no ribbons tied to trees telling me where to turn.  Not depressed.  Without purpose.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hyacinth Bulbs

I potted these bulbs up during the Fall bulb class at work and let them sit around at work getting cold.  Now they are in a sunny window, getting watered, and starting to grow.  I chose Delft Blue.  I'm happy that they won't all be in bloom at the same time.  I cut the fragrant flower heads off the Paperwhites and added them to my compost bucket.  Still enjoying the abundance of green Paperwhite leaves in the container.  Green is beautiful in winter.

Today was my 8th day of doing Pilates.  On those first days I might have mentioned not being able to sit crosslegged on the platform to do the Side Twist.  Yesterday and today, I could.  It was easy.  There are still exercises that are too hard for me to do correctly so I skip them (but still try each day) and do more of the next exercise.  Mostly it's the legs straight out at 45 degrees.  Hurts my back.  I'm just not strong enough yet. The waist on one pair of pants isn't as tight.

Today I had a lunch date with a library friend so I did my exercises, showered, went to lunch and then walked Riley.  I brought part of my lunch home as I was full and stopped eating. Could have been the two large glasses of water.  I am thirsty and prefer plain water to any other beverage.

Today was another warm(er), sunny, day here in Maine.  Riley enjoyed the walk and climbed all the snow piles and did his business on the top of one of the higher ones.  He can smell a discarded muffin, cracker or wad of chewing gum from 50 feet, digs for it and eats it.  He was supposed to be a Search & Rescue Dog.  He's real good at searching for food. If I get lost, I hope I have a muffin in my pocket so he'll come find me.

G has found Mucinex to be helpful with his cough.  I just can't think why the stuff is so expensive.  $23 for 28 pills.  And our clock radio seems to be broken (won't shut off once the alarm goes off).  I discovered I love the taste of whole milk ricotta.  And it wasn't my socks or boots that was causing my toes to hurt.  It was a rub blister.  All taped up and happy now.  I found the spare pair of boots in my closet and need to break them in and waterproof them.

Another day and not much headway on any of my items on the "to do" list. But I am pleased to have had a visit with my friend, a delicious lunch, felt the sunshine on my face, didn't need to wear the YakTrax because the street ice has melted and been able to sit cross legged on the Pilates platform.  A good day. Hope all of you can say the same.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow or Art?

While walking the dog, I often stop to admire the snow patterns embossed on the surface of the street.  Tires, shoes and dogs have pressed, printed, smeared the snow, dirt and sand into patterns resembling art.  This picture doesn't have enough black (of the asphalt) to give it real depth and character and the tan and brown of sand is missing.  This is what I had in my driveway. Make do with what I have.

G is sleeping.  He shoveled the porch, started coughing and realized he was exhausted and couldn't breathe.  I wonder how long before all his germs infect my lungs?  Since he was feeling "poorly" I got to walk the dog after my Pilates. (which I extended today to included upper body and cardio).  The walk was very pleasant today.  Sunshine, warmer temps than the last few days and slush instead of ice underfoot.  The BIG northeast snow storm?  Nah, didn't happen.

I had two radishes, a roasted beet and I am now fortifying myself with a small handful of walnut halves. The Pilates takes away any hunger pains I might have had, normally at 4 pm, having skipped lunch and done all that exercise. I think I could skip the walnuts and just drink something.  I am actually thirsty. I am also exhausted.  Did I already tell you that?  I've written and deleted this post once already, so I forget what I wrote before and am trying NOT to write again.  I was being negative.  Because I am tired.

I am also doing many things and not actually getting anything done.  Yes, the laundry and dinner gets done.  The bed gets made, the dog is cared for etc.  I have managed to read an entire book.  But where is the doing of the things I had hoped to accomplish on my winter furlough?  The art.  The sewing.  The painting.  Not enough room in the day. Here it is 4 pm and this is the first time, in this day, I have had to just sit and think.  And it is getting dark.

Tomorrow I have a lunch date with a friend at 12 (it was cancelled on January 7th) and have to try and fit in the Pilates and the dog walk before and after the lunch date.  These three things will fill the day.  Preparing dinner will take up any remaining time.  And it will be 4 pm and getting dark. Again.

But I have chosen to use the Pilates machine.  And this is what happens to plans made.

Three more large, heavy piles of fabric have been carried upstairs and sorted onto the "new" fabric closet shelves. I have checked the orchids for mealy bugs and need to bring alcohol and Q-tips up tomorrow to remove the pesty things.  I like exercising surrounded by my houseplants.  Feels very good.  And I get to tinker, water and check them each morning.  Not on my list of things to do, but done anyway.

G and I went out for an early dinner (late lunch) and something happened that I don't have any 
memories of happening in my lifetime.  I felt FULL and didn't finish my dinner.  I think it's my beginner ab muscles pushing back and saying "stop".  Anyway, it's not very comfortable and I think I will ask for a to go box when I order my lunch and put half the meal in the box.  Who knew?  This from someone who has NEVER had Ab Muscles.  EVER.  And these aren't even real muscles yet.  Shocker!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Busy Day

I had a restless night and woke with a sore back.  G has a cough and he would start coughing just as I was falling asleep.  Then I would be awake--thinking.  Never a good night time activity.  I did eventually have another goofy dream.  This time I was back in college and it was some sort of big weekend.  Lots of crowds.  I was invited to ride in the car of a very attractive guy.  Don't know why.  That never happened in real life.  Have no idea what this dream means either.

I may have mentioned eating pasta with tomatoes, onion, kale and garlic for dinner on Monday and Tuesday.  Yesterday I measured dry pasta to see what the suggested "serving" size actually was. Certainly no where near what I think is a serving.  Not anywhere close to what I have been eating.  On the "Cinch" diet a serving of pasta should fill a half cup measure.  Tiny.  Not worth bothering with.  I'm not on the Cinch diet.  But I am liking the new Weight Watchers where all the fruits and vegetables are zero.  They probably even it out by doubling the points for pasta.  Am I going to stop eating pasta?  No.

My Pilates exercises this morning were not as serene as usual.  With my back hurting and the machine hesitating on the joint where the machine folds in half and jolting me, it was hardly a good experience.  I had wanted to add a few things but instead jogged on the rebounder for a longer time.  I love jogging on the rebounder.  Then I had to hurry and walk the dog.  I had a haircut appointment at 1.30.  And would need a shower before.  It was all rush, rush, rush and I got in a turn lane with no turn indicator and had to sit thru two lights before I could turn left.  Then my haircut, the library to return books and the grocery.

All my errands for the week are done.  Let it snow.

Riley has decided to spend time on his walk digging deep holes in the snow banks.  I usually don't mind but the time he takes digging causes me to start getting cold.  It is January.  And it is damned cold.  No sun today as the stormy weather is upon us.  This morning there was a young red fox in the backyard and Riley was beyond excited.  Wanted to go out.  I took time to watch the fox to see if it was behaving oddly (rabid) but it seemed to be playing.  So I let Riley out.  The fox was long gone by the time Riley bounced through the snow to the "spot".  Riley is watching the yard from his position by the window--just in case the fox comes back.

I'm tired.  The only bright spot in my day was the news that my next haircut, in 5 weeks, will be on March 3rd.  March is five weeks away!!  I was open mouthed with wonder at that news.  Oh, and my first  2011 unemployment check was deposited in my bank automatically.  I am officially unemployed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Marking Time

I stitched these French Hens (there are 12) while staying with my father in February and March of 2004. He had nearly died in December.  Spent two and a half months in rehab and was allowed to come back home, if he had someone to stay with him.  I enjoyed my time with my dad but each night I crossed a day off a handmade calendar I had on the bedroom wall.  Marking time.  Being in one place and counting the days until I could be in another.

That's the diet this week.  I feel like the person inside me is jumping up and down yelling "are we there yet?" and I haven't even backed out of the garage.  Impatient.  Getting way ahead of myself. I made some scheduling choices yesterday afternoon.  Simple guidelines.  To keep me on the path.  Oatmeal for breakfast.  Yogurt and raspberries for lunch.  Pasta and sauteed vegetables for dinner (tomatoes, onion, garlic and kale last night).  It doesn't matter what G is having.  That has nothing to do with me.  And he has developed a cough.  I think the "crud" may have arrived in Maine.  When he is sick, G eats very little, if at all.

The exercise yesterday made my back hurt. I added one thing (could be that) or the way I bent over to put on my socks.  Who knows.  The walk yesterday was warm (for me) because of the cross over heat from my Pilates.  I think it was somewhere between zero and 4 degrees.  Today, we have some fresh snow and it's supposed to get up to 20.  Heat Wave!!!  I slept well again last night and dreamt of being asked to return to the library job for two days work.  I missed the first day because G had doctor's appointments in the dream and I had misplaced my library book.  Dee, what does this mean? Dee handles all my dream interpretation.

The other, MAJOR, change in my daily schedule begins tomorrow (as I have already done what I should not be doing).  No morning blog posting.  In this way I can get going with things to do as soon as I have breakfast, rather than sit here at the computer reading blogs, taking a picture, posting etc.  Before I know what's happened it's 10.30.  Look! it's 10 right now!!!!  and I have done nothing but eat my 1/2 cup of oatmeal and drink half a cup of coffee.  Nearly time to go up and begin my exercises.  Then walk the dog.  See.  My day has gotten away from me again. And I can report on the Pilates and dog walk on the day they happen.  Real Time.  The high points for you, right? Oh, and the nightly, mysterious dream.

I did bring the rosemary plants in from the sunporch where they have been nearly frozen.  I watered them well and will carry them upstairs to the unheated bathroom.  Rosemary does well in a mild winter situation (NW) but not a Maine (NE) winter.  And remember, a dry rosemary plant, is a dead rosemary plant.  I also brought in the "bounty" of my butternut squash crop.  Three squash.  Time to eat them.

I stretched just now and I think the problem may have been that I used two cords on the arms exercises instead of going down to one.  It wasn't intentional.  And my arms were okay with the extra tension.  My back and side muscles were not okay with it.  I can't use the DVD while exercising as it goes too fast at times and I have to adjust the machine cords and rebounder etc.  So I have a set of cards I flip thru.  I had wanted to make better cards this morning.  Use the wall chart to make photo copies of the exercises and paste them to the cards.  And I slow down during the first few reps to make sure I feel the exercise is the muscle group we are targeting.  Pointing my toes. Pushing down on the Achilles.  Holding my elbows up. Not "snapping" my knees on the stretch.  So my ten reps take longer.

House was fun last night.  His scenes with little Rachel are very funny.  The dog clicker was hilarious. He swears not to like children but there he was being a pushy "parent" wanting the child to score high enough to get into the precious pre school and all the while believing that the kid is a "paste sandwich".  I was sad when he was most impressed by her lie.  Was she protecting him?

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Fresh Start?

G moved this chair from the living room to the room where we spend most of our day.  It could be a dining room or great room (but too small for such a modifier).  When we moved here, we used the room in the same way the previous owner had used it.  We had a couch facing the woodstove hearth, chairs, carpet and the main television here in this room.  We discovered the high (14 feet) cathedral ceilings were very chilly in the winter and the small area in front of the bay window was a bit tight for family meals and all the chairs.

That's when I moved the couch and television into the L part of the huge (but never used) living room and we had a cosy, warm place to read books, watch television and in G's case, sleep.  The living room has now become a huge dog play room.  With Riley's toys and bones scattered over the carpet and the chairs and couch pushed back to open a large play area.  He and G "play" in this area every morning.  Riley goes and gets a toy and he and G "play" with that toy for a few minutes and then Riley runs off to get another out of his overflowing toy basket.  My last task before bed, is to collect all the toys and return them to the toy basket in the kitchen part of the "not so great" room, ready for morning.

We seem to be moving backwards in time.  G set up the chair yesterday after he vacuumed the floors.  It sits in the south/west corner.  The entire corner has baseboard heat (which the chair is now blocking).  G sat down, turned on the television, opened his book and fell asleep.  Just about that quickly.  I was busy making chicken soup and ironing shirts (9).  The whole plan was to give me a cozy place to sit and read while unemployed this winter.  I shall try it out later today.

We (Riley and I) woke to minus 9 temps.  I am sure it was much colder overnight.  The high for today will be 4.  The sun is shining.  Today will be the fourth day of my Pilates workout.  I have looked for excuses not to do the work.  But I have gone upstairs anyway.  Once I do the first exercise I am hooked.  The hour or more goes past so quickly.  And I found, the second day, that walking the dog immediately after exercise is a very good thing.  I felt good walking.  So that is what Riley and I will do.  I will exercise from 11 to 12 and we will walk from 12 to 1 and then I will have a lovely shower and read in my reading chair.

I have also gone back to my food diary and 1200 calories a day.  It will be difficult but I can no longer ignore the weight.  This is one of the major reasons I have for not going up to exercise.  Getting down on the floor is a major "moment".  A reality check, of sorts.  I hate it.  When I feel bad about myself it is difficult to feel good about anything else in my life.  That is where I am right now.  But I know I feel feel wonderful after my Pilates.  And during.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rubber Band Jar

It's fun to look around and see the ordinary stuff in a new way.  Cropped and color enhanced.  But still just the rubber bands that I get when I buy bunches of beets, escarole or asparagus.  I had more purple ones but used them to fasten the Christmas lights into untangled bundles.  Yes, I save rubber bands.  But not nearly enough to make a rubber band ball.  Those are awesome.

I could take a picture of my two Gloxinia leaves but it would just be two leaves in a pot.  I cut and bedded them down in soil less mix way before Christmas and have been waiting for them to "do something".  This is the way to propagate a Gloxinia.  So, far, nothing G or I can see but the thing is, the leaves are still green and healthy looking.  Not dead.  So "something" is happening.  This morning we discussed the only two paths:  wait or dig the leaves up and see.  The digging part would certainly end the experiment.  So we are left with "wait".  And I have still not planted my artichoke seeds.  Getting dangerously close to the "no longer enough time" to produce edible food -240 days.  And my pea seeds are sitting on the desktop- they get planted around St Patrick's Day snow or no snow.

G and Riley have gone out to walk in the woods.  I have eaten a big breakfast (I slept late) and will now postpone my exercise until it is digested. A mistake I won't make next time.  "I wasn't thinking".  That's my usual excuse and it's rather an all purpose one.

G and I went out to eat last night.  We called and got a reservation and then had to wait when we arrived.  A very busy place to eat.  The food is quite ordinary.  I found one dish I enjoy and order it at lunch or dinner when I find myself eating there. I am ALWAYS disappointed if I order something else. G and I are going to try and eat out at a "fine dining" restaurant more often.  The hard part is finding one that serves good food.  I resent paying $50 to $100 for a so so meal.

I have the washer washing the dark load of laundry, filed for this week's unemployment, filled in my work search log for the week, will set the whites to washing, iron the shirts and change the sheets on the bed.  I have my bills ready to pay.  By then it will be time to do Pilates.  That's my day.  I have books to read and even a few ideas for an art sketch or two (blog reading).  Tonight Downton Abbey on PBS.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So Very White & Cold

My paperwhites are fully bloomed right now and just a bit too fragrant.  I know there are people who enjoy their scent.  I'm not one of them.  It's 9 degrees.  The sun is shining and the streets are plowed. I guess I will have to take the dog for a walk.  He's been very patient.

I am considering starting a second blog; one just for gardening and how to's and helpful hints and that sort of thing.  I could give the link to the people who come to the greenhouse classes.  And they could ask questions etc. It seems interesting to me right now.

I did my first session on the Pilates machine.  I have to work on some "flash cards" with exercise instructions because the DVD player idea didn't work very well at all.  Hard to see and hard to pause while I did my 10 reps.  I got through it all and experienced no pain (lots of confusion).  The reps on QVC mentioned that : you will feel it in one day, see it in one week.  I thought they were talking about feeling muscles you didn't know you had etc.  What I did feel, all day, was a deep peaceful calm.  Quite lovely.  I am doing the exercises as best I can.  I may need to tighten the cords to get more of a "pull" when I extend my arms and legs.  We'll see.  At the end, I was tired.  I also can see the need for one of those yoga bra/tops. I was constantly tugging at my shirt which was annoying.

I am halfway into a book of short stories.  Which I read while sitting with my back straight and shoulders wide.  Better posture.  And I slept well and my bones didn't hurt as they usually do while I am trying to fall asleep.  I didn't overeat yesterday or snack on pretzels late at night.  When G asked, I had to admit to having a better day than usual.

My neighbor called, (she is unemployed and looking for work) to tell me she is traveling to New York for a job interview.  I mentioned that I wasn't as happy to be home (not working) this winter and that I was surprised by that, as I usually enjoy being home.  She asked if I was making art.  I said I was not feeling the creative energy (as I had hoped to).  Whatever I am doing, it fills the day.  I don't feel that time is dragging.  I don't feel sad.  I just don't feel "interested" in anything.

I think I may just have to schedule a time period to be in the work room with the fabric, new sewing machine needles etc.  Finish up the clearing away, stitch the placemats I arranged months ago for us to use when we eat meals (wabi sabi), cut felt to use as a middle layer in collages.  Just be there.  And in the dining room, have simple supplies handy for a small drawing or watercolor.

I got everything but the dog walk done yesterday.  Today I need to make Pilates cards, do my exercise, walk the dog, take a good long shower, fold the white laundry and get a dark load together.  It would be a good day to pull together the lasagna I had planned to make last week or make chicken soup for G.  We have little in the way of leftovers in the fridge but plenty to work with in the freezer and cupboards. I just remembered that today is Saturday.  January is nearly done.

Friday, January 21, 2011


We have these lovely ice sculptures hanging off the roofline.  Testament to the power of the sun, even in winter.  The woods beyond (and all around the property) remain dark and green. Mysterious. Peaceful. Sinister.

And Riley waits.  For winter squirrels, deer and trespassing cross country skiers.  I really must remember to go out and remove that dangling whatever it is.  I never notice it until I take a picture. And, since it has stopped snowing, I need to shovel the back stoop so the sunporch door will open and I can let Riley in&out.

 I read a Maine blog a few days ago regarding the "mud room".  She didn't have one and her kitchen was covered in coats, boots and melting snow puddles.  I have the sunporch.  It sits between the garage and kitchen and opens to the backyard.  I don't keep coats out there or boots but we do shake off as much snow as possible before entering the kitchen.  It's cold out there.  And I don't like putting on ice cold boots or coats.  I like starting out warm.  I would use it for coats and boots if it was warmer but can you just imagine what a room with windows all around would cost to heat?  The windows are insulated and so is the space beneath, but still.  I don't care for the mess of coats hanging from the Baker's rack and the clutter of boots and shoes beneath or the basket of gloves, scarves and hats.  It's not like we have company coming.  And my coat is warm when I need it.  And my wet gloves and hat are drying by the baseboard heater.

An excellent solution (also extremely expensive) would be an attached greenhouse.  That Maine blogger wants one of those, just as I do.  But neither of us has the money for construction in the middle of winter.

I have my comfy exercise pants on and plan on going upstairs in a few minutes to begin my first Pilates session and visit with my orchids, clivia and orange trees, some of which are blooming or have flowers in bud. A greenhouse/exercise room of sorts.  I watched the exercise DVD yesterday and it looks simple enough but I know it won't be easy.  We have to begin somewhere.

I have a stack of books to read (G drove me to the library yesterday), I have heavy duty needles for the sewing machine (G drove me to JoAnn's) and I have a full tank of gas in my car (G, again).  G also purchased deli sandwiches from a local bakery and we had those for a late lunch.  No dinner. Mine had three vegetables, cheese and bacon with hummus.

My Nudge for today is the same as it was a few days ago.  I never made the page tag for the art journal. And I don't really care for the other Nudges but may just draw another chair.  I seem to enjoy doing that. I would prefer drawing a chair to spending the Winter sitting in chairs.  Which is pretty much what is happening right this minute and for most of the other minutes in my days.  Except for late night pretzel sticks, I am not overeating.  I am going to place my pack of gum next to the tv remote and chew on gum instead.  I think I just don't have enough "chews" in my meals to satisfy my feelings of being hungry.

Exercise, Tab Making, Chair Drawing, Book Reading, Dog Walk.  If time permits: Shirt Ironing.  Planting Artichoke Seeds.

I changed the profile in the comments section and you can now comment without using Google.  Just add your name at the end of your comment if you use Anonymous and want me to know who you are.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Use It Up

I think people my age (60's) were influenced by the Great Depression of the 30's.  The stress of not being able to buy things or have what you needed (food, shelter, clothing) on our impressionable parents was very great.  Our grandparents and parents "made do".  If I needed stretcher bars for canvases, my dad made them for me.  If I needed a bedside table, we looked for one in the attic or visited my grandmother's house to see if she had one in her attic.  We saved our special dresses for special occasions.  And usually outgrew them before we could wear them more than a few times.

The saddest part of sorting my fabric and giving it away, is sorting and giving away the dreams I had for that fabric.  Dreams that never materialized.  Getting rid of the fabric is only part of the equation.  Giving away the dreams is so much more difficult.

I will try, this year to actually use things up.  Empty paint bottles and throw them away.  Wear my crayons down to the nub and then throw those nubs away or melt them down.  Sharpen my colored pencils until I can't hold them in my fingers.  Use the last sheets of paper in my drawing pads.  Run out of thread.  The only item I always use up : glue sticks.

The year of Use It Up.

G just now finished setting up my new Pilates machine.  OMG.  I had the hardest time getting down to even sit on the seat, let alone do anything.  My weight, yes, but mostly my sense of balance and lack of a secure feeling about my muscles.  G did more test exercise than I did (not even 5 minutes but his heart rate was up) and he felt it in his legs walking down the steps (he tried the jogging exercise and the side pull).  I am going back up, with the tiny DVD player, to watch and do the beginner exercise routine.  I need to go through the closet and look for easy fit exercise pants.  My goal is to be able to sit on the seat with my knees bent, and be comfortable.  That should happen in a few months. I hope, when my CORE is tighter.  Right now I don't even have a CORE.  I'll be "Using Up" some of this stored fat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Watercolor Crayon On Fabric

Which can never be washed since the wax will dissolve.  I managed to add writing to this piece and had a great deal of fun experimenting with automatic writing.  I thought of words and made squiggles without actually writing words.  There are actual words also.  I started that way and then loosened up.  I trimmed the fabric and glued it into a spread in my art journal.  It made me smile a few hours later when I checked to see if the glue was holding.  A bright bit of cheer in the journal.

40 degrees today and when I let Riley out the front door he had trouble getting a grip on the icy surface.  I was happy that I had decided not to walk him. G got home very late and was trying to work on the automated French fry loader.  He finally ordered parts which will arrive Friday.  I served dinner as soon as he got home and he is now fast asleep in his chair.

Unemployment sent a handful of separate envelopes to me today.  If they wonder how they can save money--one envelope would be a pretty good place to begin.  I now have two of everything.  About $4.40 of excess postage for just one of over 200,000 or more unemployed people in Maine.  88K for this week's mail.  And no check.  This week is my "waiting period week".  I'll get a check next week.  Since I have two of everything--why not two checks, also?

The ratatouille is delicious.  I have four freezer tubs for later and one 2 cup serving to eat this week over pasta or spread on my reheated pizza.

Watercolor Crayons

One of my recent Christmas presents was a box of watercolor crayons to use in my art journal.  Yesterday I decided to spend 5 minutes playing with these crayons on a torn open brown grocery bag.  I had plans to cover a large area, but I didn't want to "use up" too much of the crayon.  Do you do that?  Not use something to "save" it for a better use "later"?  Anyway.  My friend Deborah uses words/writing in her fiber work to add texture and design.  I have always liked that.  So I scribbled a bit with crayon after I had built up a base of color and smooshed it a bit with a damp paper towel.  I like how the white crayon's color changes as it passes through the colors. This reminds me of oil pastel (which I love using).  I think I have been "saving" them also (but the oil pastel sticks from France are expensive).  My New Year's Motto:  USE IT UP. I can afford to BUY MORE!! Or at the least, give my family the opportunity to resupply me as gifts.

Today (we had snow and now freezing sleet) Riley and I are staying in, no walk, and I will experiment with my watercolor crayons on fabric.  I may even iron the waxed fabric to see what happens.  If I run out of crayons I'm sure my daughter would be happy to resupply me.  But if I remember my children's use of crayons--we never seemed to actually use them up.  We always had crayons.  We spent every afternoon drawing and coloring huge pictures on the coffee table.  I taped blank newsprint over the surface and let them color in wide arcs over the surface.  Starting as soon as they could hold a crayon (those fat ones) and not eat it.  When my children were little, I had only been out of art school for a few years, and I had planned to be an art teacher. I was very much interested in having my toddlers make art everyday and it filled that space, in each day, between naps and dinner.

Riley and I walked, yesterday afternoon, on the unplowed streets we usually walk on.  I was sweating by the time we got back home.  Very aerobic.  But dangerous.  There were a few cautionary moments when I planted my foot only to have it slip out from under.  I tried avoiding the places I remembered were icy but the tracks of the garbage trucks were like glass.  We made it home without me falling but today falling will be a "sure thing".  I wore the giant black wool coat last night while I shoveled the steps and back stoop.  I found a handkerchief and poop bag in the left pocket and dog treats in the right pocket. Deep pockets so plenty of room for the amount of treats Riley consumes.  No need to make a bag.

The giant black wool coat serves an additional purpose. I wore this coat the winter I fell down almost every time I walked the dog (he was younger and pulled sharply getting me off balance).  Fell hard. With no warning (before YakTrax).  I was standing up and then I was looking straight up at the sky, on my back.  The coat is so big and heavy that it protected me from bodily harm.  My knees did get hurt a few times but no broken bones. I think I stopped wearing it when I had lost so much weight and the coat was way too large and cumbersome.  Not that way right now.  But the weight adds to the exercise of walking.  Like wearing weighs on your shoulders, pressing you down, making me work harder to keep moving forward.

Last night's meatloaf was a welcome treat after G finished snowblowing the driveway.  We had very good mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli along side.  And, surprise!, G brought home zucchini so I can assemble my ratatouille today and eat some and freeze the rest for later.  I have everything the recipe calls for.  Incredible.  We also have leftover pizza.  So, besides making the ratatouille, I don't have to worry about cooking later for dinner.

Tomorrow is G's day off and we will attempt to carry the Pilates box upstairs (heavy, dead weight) and set the machine up and get the little DVD player set up so I can watch the Beginner DVD and try out my exercise equipment.  Finally.  I can't move or lift the box by myself.  We'll also be spreading salted sand around on the sidewalks and getting a full tank of gas in my car.  Visiting the library.

Today I will be sweeping the floors (winter grit), finishing the laundry (folding), filling two containers in my workspace, measuring a German wardrobe in the attic to see if we can repurpose it in our daughter's kitchen, and deciding what to have for breakfast.  Oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, or cold cereal and milk.  I had toasted English muffins yesterday so not that.

I visited a few very successful fiber artist sites this morning and I can see ways in which to improve my work and move forward.  I lack a focal point.  I make incredibly good backgrounds and now I need to actually make a statement on top of those backgrounds.  But this is good.  Making a good, interesting background isn't easy.  I now have that down (sort of) and can work on the top layer now.  I didn't Bookmark the sites I liked because then I would just be making their work.  I have to glance quickly and then move on.  And not go back. I also need to build a moveable design wall for the upstairs studio and work with the piece on the wall not on the table.  Things are not what the seem to be when you look at them from an angle.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today's Best Friend

My nose has been running (really like a faucet) since I woke up.   I have a pile of used Kleenex next to the keyboard (I have been reading blogs and visiting sites) along with an empty coffee cup and crumbs from my raisin English muffins.  It's snowing.  Riley has pushed his nose into the bell hanging from the back door (asking to please, go out) and so he is out.  Chasing something.  I think we are getting 3 to 5 inches of snow and then rain or sleet.  Maybe both.  A Trifecta of ICK. I am seriously reluctant to go for a dog walk.

G and I will be having meatloaf, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli for dinner tonight.  I planned ahead and bought everything I would need yesterday at the store.  I did forget to buy a pound of zucchini for the Martha Stewart Ratatouille I want to make for myself.  I bought the peppers and eggplant and when I found myself drawn to the pile of wintery zukes I thought, "why would I want a summer vegetable in January?"  and walked on by.  WHEN WILL I  LEARN TO LISTEN TO MY INTUITION?  I can probably substitute a butternut squash for the zucchini and add more liquids.  Who knows, I might like the result?

I have followed a link from iHanna to a Pennyslvania blogger who has 16 Creative Nudges.  I wrote them all down on my desk calendar (January 17,18 and 25) and plan to work on a few (they take 5 minutes max) since I am creatively blocked at the moment.  I guess I can only do one thing at a time.  Right now, it's wipe or blow my nose every 5 seconds. I would link but I didn't bookmark and have no idea who the PA blogger is and you can go to iHanna and see her gray paint nudge and follow the link. All these nudges are meant for the "art journal" and some are meant for the "sketchbook project" and some are meant for....... well, people are certainly very busy cutting up paper and pasting it down and painting it with gesso and making marks and coloring with crayons and smearing things with wet paper towels etc.  It's all like some super adult Kindergarten.  I did like the idea of moving some of my picture files to a word document and then resizing and printing them on sticky packed label paper and then sticking them on random journal pages.  If I knew how to do any of those things.

I think I will begin with the water soluable crayon Nudge since Sam gave me a nice set of crayons for Christmas.  I should use them.

Second cup of coffee. The nose has slowed and nearly stopped. Time to move along and be a bit productive.  Make something. Clean something.  Sort something.  Read something.  Water something. Plant something (artichoke seeds).  Oh, goody.  Sneezing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tropical Heat Wave

Don't we wish.  I walked the dog today and it was 16 degrees with a brisk wind.  I had on just about everything I could fit under my Anorak.  I may have to start wearing the gigantic black wool coat just to stay warm.  I like the anorak because of the two front "kangaroo" pockets where I carry dog treats, dog poop bags, my YakTrax for icy conditions, my handkerchief and the house key.  I wonder where I kept all this stuff when I last wore the big giant black wool coat?  Was it before dog? Or did he get fewer treats back then????

In the summer I wear an oil cloth bag on a long strap around my neck and across one shoulder to carry dog supplies. It's small because in the summer I don't need more than treats and bags. I may have to create a dog walking bag --- sort of a doggie messenger bag.  Anyone heard of a pattern for something like this?  It needs to be easy to get into.  I am wearing two pairs of gloves and the treats are the size of a quarter.

Yesterday, because the only "leftover" in the fridge was a large container of cold, dry white rice, I created a "fried rice" for a very late lunch.  I added onion, broccoli and julienned carrots (along with garlic, ginger and soy sauce) to G's.  Mine had less broccoli, more carrot and some celery.  It was good.  We needed some snow peas and/or mushrooms.  I'm really getting the hang of "just making stuff up" when it comes to cooking.  Techniques have just ingrained themselves after all the years of watching cooking shows. Pretty excited about that as I enjoy cooking.  Not shopping.  If I had magic cupboards and fridge/freezer with all the ingredients permanently stocked--I'd be cooking all the time.  I usually am missing one or two things for any recipe.  And I truly dislike driving into Town.

Because yesterday's meal was rather skimpy, we had pizza today.  I actually went to the grocery store and bought dough and mushrooms.  I had everything else at home.  I had artichoke hearts on my pizza because I remembered I had a can in the cupboard.  G had hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions and mushrooms.  His cholesterol is 180.  I had onion, artichoke and mushroom.  I miss the pepperoni.

I tried two different inserts in my walking boots today and three kinds of socks.  Either my boots are shrinking or my feet are getting bigger, wider, longer.  I don't know what I am going to do.  I wear these same boots every winter.  I don't have any others.  I can wear heavy wool socks and go without any liner, but that hurts my feet. But tight shoes is somehow much worse.  I don't wear anything that is tight. Remember the under pants?

I have been reading along with the Empress of Dirt (sidebar) who just finished up the Five Day Fast Forward with the new Cinch Diet.  Spinach, raspberries, egg, fat free yogurt, almonds.  Those five things in a scramble, parfait, smoothie and a salad.  No salt.  No sugar.  Five days eating the same five foods.  At the end you have lost your cravings and 4 to 8 pounds of belly fat.  Then you do a looser version for 25 more days.  People must be interested as there was NO SPINACH at the grocery today in my little Town.  I didn't check the frozen raspberry supply.

A little hint I learned on the internet search I did today:  sauteing the 2 cups of spinach with some garlic and hot pepper flakes is a very nice change from the "salad".  You could still add balsamic vinegar and the egg and have a nice warm meal.  A big salad every night, in January, isn't my idea of dinner.

I don't know if I will try this diet.  As I mentioned in another post: I need a "big butt" reducer and if I lost additional belly fat, wouldn't that make my big butt look even bigger???  These are the things on my mind.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


They are fully budded but haven't opened yet so the overpowering fragrance is still a few days away.  There are people who love the scent.  I am not one of them.  I live a fragrance free life, generally, but do like very pale, citrus scents in bath products.  Something I can smell but you can't.  This mass of green, growing stuff is so good to be seeing on cold snowy days.  The only thing better is a visit to a greenhouse, because the greenhouse has that earthy, moist dirt smell.  Miss it.

When G got home from work yesterday, he found me on the couch, sleepy and interested in ordering take out.  I had a Greek Salad and a skimpy cheese wedge with marinara.  I have them put 1/3rd of the cheese on what is a thin 10 inch cheese pizza.  G had cheese ravioli with meatballs and a side salad.  It was all very good.  Then I worked on stuff at the computer and G watched the "Cape" a pilot for a series on television.

The sun is shining, it's 28 degrees, G is walking the dog and then we will be watching Football.  I plan on doing a bit of house straightening in between now and Football.  Taking a shower and getting dressed, also. In other words, I have no ambitious ideas for the day.  G wants to carry the Pilates box upstairs and get the machine set up.  That's a good idea.  He thinks he wants to use it.  Why not. I'm still just getting used to the "idea" of using the machine.  And I still haven't made a decision on Netflix or the iPad.  A real "foot dragger".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Minus 2

I had to get up in the dark this morning to go somewhere.  It was dark and minus 2 outside.  I took a hot shower, dressed, filled my Thermos with coffee, let the dog out/in, added a coat and gloves to the outfit and hit the road.  About 10 minutes into the drive I got to thinking about how long I could safely (warmly) walk if the car broke down.  No hat.  No scarf.  No boots.  Thin gloves.  Stupid.

I don't want to be one of "those people" who wear a light coat in minus 2 degree weather because they get in the car in the garage and are just going to work or the grocery.  Bad things can happen.  You have to be prepared for any bad thing that happens.  Extra clothes (in case yours get wet), warm coat, warm gloves, HAT, windshield washer (an extra bottle), ice scraper, blanket, matches, flashlight and candy bars.  A bottle of water would be great also.  Shovel.  Bag of cat litter.  I should have had a scarf, hat and good warm mittens just in case.  Because I don't have a cell phone.

The picture at the top of the post is out the back door this evening.  After I let Riley out.  See the snowblower paths that G made for the dog?  From the porch to the right, down past the garden and around the back of the garden and back to the house.  When Riley runs in the cut out paths, I can see the very top of his head and his tail.  Can you see our little shed way back on the right?  It's snowing tonight and on Tuesday it's going to RAIN.  I friggin hate it when it rains on top of nice snow.  Making a hard, icy mess. Ruining winter.

I got a bunch of envelopes from the Bureau of Unemployment for my "new" benefit year.  So, I don't get a check for this week.  But when I do get a check (next week) it will be $18 higher than last year.  Woo Hoo.  That 25 cent an hour raise is paying all sorts of dividends.

Did you read about what the new Governor of Maine said yesterday?  The NAACP can kiss his butt.  And before the election he told local fishermen that if he saw President Obama he would tell him to "go to hell". No reason. But our Governor isn't a Tea Bagger.  He's just...... ignorant?  Maine's population is 98% white. We don't have much in the way of ethnic diversity.  A few native Indian tribes and some Somalian refugees.  (I know I spelled that wrong and I plan to look it up after I post)  Still not a viable excuse for the things he is saying.  Gonna make George Bush and Sarah Palin look like Rhodes Scholars. Just my opinion.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Windowsill Gardening

My repotted geraniums have sent forth a blossom of wonderful magenta.  The paperwhites are pushing their roots deep into the gravel and sending full flower spikes up and up and up.  What a lovely change from the deep, cold, white snow outside the window.  When the sun shines, it even seems warm.  To a Mainer.  My deep blue Hyacinths are moving slowly, not quite ready to break into a false Spring.

My Winter Furlough seems to be speeding past much quicker than last year.  I remember being deep into my Wallander books by this time.  Spending hours each day in the latest Swedish murder.  I haven't opened a book in weeks. It's interesting to me how the same day can change so dramatically.  Long endless hours or "gosh, where did the day go".  G just called to ask when he should schedule his two weeks of vacation.  How do you make that decision in January? How do you make do with only 2 weeks?

Riley is asleep or napping.  He loves the new puffy, softness of his dog bed inserts.  G added a new insert to the existing flattened one giving the dog bed cover a very poofy look.  I can tell from the contented sighs coming from the dog bed--that Riley is very comfortable.  We also purchased 3 new marrow bones and Riley had the small one last night.  Hours of heavy bone gnawing.  The two large bones are in the freezer.  Clean and marrow free.  We aim to please.

G and I sampled a new Wood Fired Grill restaurant yesterday afternoon.  And we had a front row seat to the open kitchen and Wood Fire.  I got to watch the "chef" touch everything with his bare hands (no washing in between) even raw meats, marinating vegetables, fresh cheese etc.  Really, where is the Health Department when you need them?  We won't be eating there again.  He did wear a glove when touching chicken.  And, yes, my salad was made by this same guy after he washed his hands.  A beautiful salad.  I also watched as the helper, helped himself from the open containers of pizza toppings.  Eating his way through a slow hour at work. Bare hands, also.  We went because the pizza was supposed to be good.  It wasn't.  And the 10 inch pizza was $10 with only cheese (that's what I ordered) and each topping was $1.59.  I had the salad on top of my pizza.  So, breakfast oatmeal and then pizza and salad.  That was it for the day.  And I think the stomach thing is gone. Perhaps, I didn't have enough germs in my digestive system?

I MUST walk Riley today (no walk yesterday) and I am not looking forward to it.  If I didn't have a dog, I would be getting comfy on the nice soft couch, covered by the nice warm down throw and opening my book.  Settling in for a few good hours of reading.  Then a short nap.  By then, G would be getting home from work.  The discussion of getting a second dog keeps coming up. Just more work for me. Yes, they would play with each other, but they still need care, feeding, and walks.  Which is Me. Me. Me.  So the answer is always; No. No. No.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stomach Virus????

Day Two.  I'm not sure what is causing me the distress....  I am feeling tired, shivery and cranky.  G and I went out in the car (bone dry clean roads, thank you road plowing crews) to visit the bank, the library, LLBean and then the grocery store.  Fed Ex delivered my Pilates machine (very, very heavy) today.  And we purchased two new, puffy, dog bed inserts for Riley (using our $10 gift cards).  As usual, Riley is not sure he likes the "new" bed but it could be the slow cooking of the beef marrow bones on the stove.  Riley gets the bones when they are clean and marrow free.  Easier to clean the carpets.  Hard for the pup to wait.

The Twelve By Twelve reveal was yesterday.

I'm all caught up on laundry and ironing.  Owe Riley a walk because he didn't get one today.  G got the remainder of the storm snow cleaned off the driveway.  Tomorrow will be sunny.  Quiet weather pattern for the next four days.  I might make lasagna tomorrow.  Read a book.  Drink tea. Stay home.  Watch television.  That's all I have for you.  A slow day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Friend of Twelve By Twelve- 01-11

Colorplay Challenge: Emerald Green, Burgundy Red and Eggplant.  January 2011.  Winter Into Spring.  12 by 12.  Vintage velvet, silk, hand and machine sewn.

I managed, on this dark, snow covered morning, to get the golds color-correct, but the Colorplay colors, in velvet, are never going to be color correct without professional lighting equipment.  They are too dark and have too much textural shine.  Trust me that I have all three: emerald, burgundy and eggplant purple. This is a sliver of the "slow cloth" I made from velvet scraps.  I cut away the parts that didn't work and then finished the edges of what was left with a patchwork of silk scraps left from the making of the annual Christmas card.  In person, this has a rich almost Medieval quality; the kind of surface that wants to be touched.  My daughter saw it yesterday and the first thing she did was trace her finger over the velvets.

I enjoyed the slow pace that the "slow cloth" style allows.  It's like meditative mending. You can add or subtract fabric as you sew.  No decisions are permanent.  I got to use floss and perle cotton threads. But if I were to do this again (and I think I will) I will not be using velvet. It slip slides away.  No matter how many pins you have along the seams.

Maine is receiving 8 to 14 inches of Champagne Powder today.  The best skiing snow there is on earth.  We have no visibility.  No reason to go outside until it stops snowing.  I have things to do, the dog has been outside and quickly returned, covered in snow, to his warm bed.  The snow began after everyone was already on the road to work (7 am) so the commute back home will be stressful since the Maine Traffic Plows like to plow secondary roads after the snow stops falling.  Not during.  As usual, my street and connecting road will be far down the list, if at all.  But I have more important things to think about. What shall I have for breakfast?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


And at some point in the writing of this post it will also be 11.11.  I had no idea we had already reached the 11th day of January.  Time is flying past.  There is a pokey period of time each day, between 10 and 3.30, that is difficult to get past, but once I get past that, Riley and I seem to settle down. And we have our nice, cold walk during that time period which could be why things aren't as easy as I would like.  Riley starts wanting his walk as soon as I finish my cereal.  But I think it's better to have it after he has lunch. As I have mentioned to Riley many, many times: I don't like the walk before we get going, but once we get going (about 20 minutes into the walk) then I am pleased to be walking.  That's just the way I am.

I made a large pot of Split Pea Soup before I even thought about breakfast cereal or coffee.  It's now in the final simmer.  Extra carrots, onions and potatoes since all veggies are Points Free in WW.  Not that I am doing WW.  I just love vegetables.  G and I watched a Hunting Show show last night.  I decided if I had to kill animals for meat, I wouldn't eat meat.  And there's something just a bit creepy about the  handsome-ish host of the show. He kills, expertly butchers and cooks the meat.  He wears very expensive clothing, shoots with a very expensive rifle, lives in New York City but hunts in Alaska. I don't think I will watch it again.

I spend more time typing and deleting these days.  I bore myself with what I write.

I ventured over to the Nancy Crow website to see her new work.  Can you say Comic Book Art?  Not a fan.  Another blogger with good credentials has been chopping her work up, re working it, giving it away at thrift stores.  She is experiencing "tedium".  Terry finds herself in a "rut" over in Sew It Goes.  I am experiencing something that has a good French word to describe it but I can't find the word to type it here.  Sounds like euew. (enuie?) But not the euew when you step in something nasty.  We are all having a similar sensation.  The Universe.  Things float around and touch us all.  I wonder what the cure will be? Cutting finished work into chunks?  Something"new"?  Can't wait.

11.11 passed as I was looking for my French word.

I'm going to strip the bed, wash the rosy pink sheets, get the snowy white sheets out of the linen closet, make the bed, spray the dog beds with Febreze, Windex a few more windows, walk the dog, make a Chinese style mushroom and Rice Noodle soup for G, finish the edges on my 12 by 12 for tomorrow's reveal and search for the rusty black and white bleach discharged fabric to add to the previous 12 by 12 to improve it's looks.  Did I say walk the dog?  Ugh.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking At My House From The Outside

I had an early morning visit from the furnace guy (with a contract for a new furnace and water heater) and I intended to direct him to the living room, which is tidy (since I took down the tree and cleared things up) but he wanted a table, so we went into the dining room and I attempted to clear a space for him to set out his papers.  Now, after his visit, I am trying to REALLY clean things up.  We aren't, technically, Hoarders, but we do keep a great deal of crap, with no purpose.  Like the packaging from things we have opened and are using.  I have set a goal of throwing one thing away for every three I pick up.  I wish I could throw bills away.

Riley has spent the morning barking.  There must be a great deal of squirrel activity out in the back yard. I spent a few minutes with my new bottle of Windex and a few sheets of newspaper, cleaning the windows facing the squirrel area.  My arms are certainly out of practice for window cleaning.  I feel like I just ran a marathon.

We went to Target yesterday afternoon and shopped in the "Stock Up!" area.  Paper towels, Windex, Dawn, and Cascade tublets for the dishwasher.  They had 56 quart Sterlite containers on sale for $4.50 so I got four more.  They are waiting in the workroom for me to fill them and then carry them upstairs. I need to move the bags I have in the foyer to a less conspicuous spot.  Those are for the Linus Project. I also bought new underpants.  Again.  I packed up the ones I bought last time.  Am I the only person who buys defective underpants?  Too wide, too small, too long, too big.  All in the same package of 6 pairs. The new packages are all the same: too big.  And I am fine with that.  The washer and dryer will sort it all out. And I may just not be meant to wear the next smaller size--ever.  We have to face these facts.  I could go shopping at Jockey and buy one pair for what 6 cost me at Target.  Someday.

I just deleted a paragraph on not wanting to cook dinner.  I'm not interested in eating any of the things I have ingredients to make.  And I don't want to go to the grocery.  I'm just in a very ornery mood. I think I'll go kick something.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Journal Page

I was watching some Food TV and drawing a bit in my journal.  Just to have something to color.  I was feeling the "coloring book" vibe this morning.  Nothing serious.  I bordered the page with a bit of commercial fabric for the "photo shoot".  We have sunshine, light new snow on top of the old dirty snow, a bit of a breeze.  Nothing like the cold and ice down south.  Maine has, again, not gotten the bad weather. I'm not complaining.  I'm just wondering what's up with that?

Today is filing day for unemployment.  I timed it wrong again and have missed out on two full weeks of benefits. Filing days are a moving target, I guess.  I have my Employment Work Diary pinned to the bulletin board next to the computer.  Our local paper has, tops, 6 employment ads running.  Nurse, truck driver, overnight sleep person for mental health homes, phone book delivery etc.  Things I am not qualified to do.  Phone book delivery because I refuse to drive to strange places in winter.  Well, I basically refuse to drive in winter. Period.  I wish I lived somewhere with a call center that hires people to work from home.  In pajamas.  But I hear that people hate that job.

G has taken Riley out for the woods walk.  I have been doing 3 plus miles with Riley every day, on his leash.  It's a good walk.  I walk fast, with a long stride and Riley still has plenty of time to sniff and dig in the snow.  He circles back around for a treat every once in awhile and has to sit politely while I dig one out of my pocket with double gloves on.  We may not have bad storm weather, but it's cold up here in Maine. I have rotated to the heavy scarf and thick wool hat.  With a down filled liner under my winter jacket.  I stay nice and warm for the start of the walk and can remove things as I heat up from the exercise.  Now if I could just stop eating so much.  Mostly fruit and vegetables, but still, it's eating.

G was eating hard cookies last night and his temporary crown fell off.  Really?  Hard cookies?

Today I have two loads of laundry and about a dozen of G's shirts to starch and iron.  And I have a few things to work on moving upstairs to the new work area (I found an empty Sterlite container).  Once I have enough clear space downstairs, I will work on projects downstairs before moving everything upstairs in the Spring (when my plants can come downstairs and get ready to go outside again).  It's so much easier to work with wide open floor space and clean table tops.  I'm getting closer to that every time I go in there.  I even vacuumed in there.  Less is enough.

I think I am done being cranky for awhile.  I have a little page tacked to the bulletin board which reads "This Has Nothing To Do With Me"  My new motto.  Especially for blog comments.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

When Is It Art?

Terry has had some interesting comments over at Sew It Goes. The focus has been on art education, drawing as the backbone of any good art and the comment of "slapping a few pieces of fabric down, adding a bit of handstitching and a few beads " and calling that fiber art. A comment by an unknown person but it could have been me.

I have to say this came pretty darn close to calling me names.  I do tend to put a few (well chosen) pieces of fabric down (but hardly slapping them), and stitch a bit (hand but usually machine) and I DID use a BEAD on the last Friend of Twelve By Twelve piece.  I DID remove it (step away from the bead tin).  Really, I did!  The sad fact here, is that I do have an art education.  I can draw very nicely.  I understand the elements of design.  But I still feel like my style of making fiber art is being attacked.  I wonder if the work would seem more artistic if I gave it a Name and suggested (rather firmly) what my intentions were in making it look like it does?  I worry about the piece in progress right now.  Very abstract.  In fact, I chopped it up and reconstructed it yesterday and like it quite a bit more than I had before it was cropped and chopped.  But still, it may not be understood or appreciated. It may not be art.

Terry used some examples from Picasso and De Kooning in her post.  I remember an early figure drawing class where we were required to draw in the "style of" both of these artists (and many others) in order to stop drawing realistically.  Our figures were supposed to morph into shapes and not be strictly anatomically or proportionally correct.  We were asked to turn realistic into abstract.  The bodies we sketched didn't look like bodies, but rather an assortment of shapes and shadows arranged on a full sheet of paper.  Extra credit for working off the edges of the paper.  It was very difficult and we had to really LOOK at the model.  We had to really SEE.  We had to create expressive line and volume.  I remember leaving drawing classes completely exhausted.  And then, in Art 101, we had to draw our supplies as exact as a photograph.  Same size, likeness of our paint tubes and ink bottles, in black, white and 8 shades of gray.  And after that, I had a painting class where abstract was very good with lots of color.  And then a Lettering class (which I failed, twice) and Printmaking (Intaglio) of which I was the "super star" in black and white.  For each class, another style.  And now, we are supposed to have our "own" style.

I have a difficult time with style.  My artistic vision is somewhat like my real vision (eyesight).  I am constantly trying to get things to focus. Even things I don't like, need or want in my work. Or life. I can appreciate it all.  I can imitate it all. I can make a good copy of anything I see.  My difficulty is in doing something that is mine alone. Original.  I make something and think "have I seen this somewhere, before?"  I wonder what I would be making if I had not been influenced and trained to do so many other things?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Kodachrome & Slides. Dinosaurs

G was up in the attic digging his large fish tank out "from under" so we could give it away, and he found a box of slides from our first few years of marriage.  Lordy, my hair was a mess!!!  I must have been too busy to comb it in the morning.  And now the slides are "no more" and my Nikon will no longer be taking Kodachrome film pictures.  I loved using that old black body camera (which was already old in the 1960's when we got it).  We never could afford a slide projector (we were always so poor in the early days), so I have never seen most of these slides as they should be viewed.  We hold them up to bare lightbulbs.

There are a few slides that make me think that I was (possibly) a good mother.  One with a very young Sam being kissed into giggles and another two of her with her very large blackboard in her bedroom, drawing all over the surface (huge drawings) and her baby brother (just learning to stand up) trying to get into the chalkboard action.  She's giving him the "schoolteacher" hand.  Stand back or else.  He's laughing.  Nothing has changed in 38 years.

The "moment" of Oh, I did good things, came when I saw the huge blackboard, at her two year old height level and saw how well used it was. I had forgotten the blackboard. I know I purchased wooden toys, but could never afford the wooden play kitchen.  But they had wooden blocks, farm animal toys and a Fischer Price barn, a little table and chairs. Toys with multiple uses. Open to different uses. I read the new "Mommy Blogs" now and I wonder if I would measure up.  In this pile of old Dinosaur slides, I find evidence that I did measure up, I did give them a creative and wholesome start in life.  Perhaps that is why they are so healthy, happy and intelligent now? I can hope it had some, little something, to do with me.  I was a creative wholesome Mommy.  Wow.

In other news:  After three hours of trying to replace items that were no longer working on the furnace (no longer made, have to refigure the set up to use new things, get more parts), we have heat.  The repair guy, K, is a real trooper and he gave us a tutorial on how the oil fired boilers work.  This morning, I am fielding calls from the sales guy as he tries to figure out a way to give us heat and hot water with a new system.  The short height clearance of the crawl space we have (instead of a basement that floods) is causing difficulty for him.  The boiler I want is too tall.  The hot water tank we need is too tall.  But we have heat.  The house is warming up.  I have on one set of clothing and not two.

I took the opportunity of having no heat, to take my beloved Christmas Tree down.  I REALLY enjoyed looking at all it's bright sparkle each day (late afternoon into evening).  I was very sad to see it go.  The huge heap of dry needles it left behind, even though it was drinking 2 liters of water a day, has been put into the compost pile.  I sat on the couch yesterday afternoon, missing my twinkly tree.  It's so sad to face winter without it.

My lunch date for today cancelled due to illness, so I will eventually get dressed and walk Riley, but not yet.  Riley had a wonderful off leash walk with G yesterday in the woods.  Ran around with two goldens, also three years old.  They "played well together". Someday, we will have a dog park in Brunswick and I can take Riley there to play, off leash, with other dogs.  They can run around like crazy and have tons of fun.  Someday soon , I hope.

I think I will have a second cup of coffee.  And the rest of my toasted baguette.  The day, stretching out in front of me, is mine to do with as I please.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside (and Inside)

Last night, around 11 pm the oil boiler started cycling on and off in a very rapid and not very healthy way. So, being a security minded person, I switched the power off to the boiler and went to bed.  Now, in the cold morning light, with the house temperature at around 50 degrees, I am sitting here in many layers waiting for the repair people to show up.  It could be anytime TODAY.  I do not want to flip the switch back on "to see what happens" and possibly get some heat.

G is home from work today.  He and Riley are snuggled next to the cold radiator under a down blanket. I worry more about the dog.  He was cold all night and now will be cold all day.  G and I can layer up but the dog can't.

G has already called  and ordered coffee beans from Wicked Joe and I have suggested G take Riley for a ride in the warmer car to get fresh bagels from Mr Bagel.  I wouldn't mind a nice raisin bagel.  And we don't seem to have any bagels in the freezer.

At this moment in time, I am warm.  If I keep moving, I will be fine.  But, honestly, it's just going to keep getting colder in here as the day goes along, unless the sun starts shining and then the southern rooms will warm up.  Good day to take the Christmas Tree down.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

First Wednesday Post of 2011

I love Wednesdays.  I was born on a Wednesday and finally looked to see the time.  4.50 pm.  Not 11.11. The subject of today's photo is the interesting African Violet I purchased on my last day at work.  It has a pinked edge and three colors.  Best of all, it is still alive.  I think it has survived because I have it on the table, directly under my nose, and notice if it needs watering.  And it is getting warmth and sunshine here in the dining room.  I still haven't made it upstairs to water my other plants.

I was reading magazines and catalogs last night (TiVo-ing television shows to watch when G isn't sleeping- as he was) and happened upon QVC and the Pilates machine.  Last hour at the "special" price and all that. Long story short--the machine will be here in 8 to 10 days and I have 30 days in which to decide if I like it. I had wanted it a long while ago but didn't have the money.  Now I do.  And I am very interested in having a Pilates Body.

There was a bit of drama included in the purchase.  When I opened my purse to get my credit card holder (at 10.30) --it wasn't there.  With pounding heart I dumped the entire contents on the kitchen counter.  No. Then I tried to think when I had last used it.  Before Christmas.  Oh!! No!!!!  I was really starting to panic when I thought to look in my work bag.  I sometimes take the card case to work since I need to drive with my driver's license.  And there it was.  Deep breaths.  And I picked up the phone and returned to the couch and made my purchase.  The guy taking my order asked which credit card I would be using and I replied "Mine."  He wasn't amused.  I was confused.  Then he said which of these and listed 8 to 10 brands of cards.  Oh.

I got the bathroom floors swept and mopped yesterday and the mirrors, counters etc washed in my bathroom.  And I vacuumed the carpets though I don't think the vacuum picked up anything as the little canister was empty.  G washed the filter and must not have put the vacuum together correctly when he put the filter back inside.  I'll go over the floor with the central vac after I have coffee with my walking buddy this morning.  We aren't walking.  It's 21 degrees and N isn't all that interested in being cold.  I'll walk Riley after I get back home.  He is trying to understand why he is staying home.

The days are starting to go by more quickly now.  I have two books to read and a winter vegetable gardening book to study.  I think it may be time to start my Artichoke seeds.  They need 230 days to mature.  That's my gardening experiment for 2011.  I will be attempting Fennel this year, also.  But the Fennel is not quite as much trouble as the Artichoke will be-- I need to "fool" it into thinking it's been growing for 2 years.  So warm, really cold, then warm again.  That means it needs to be big enough to go outdoors while we still have winter weather.  Timing.  

Time to go have coffee with N.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

One Day, One Step, One Project (or more)

I was very busy yesterday. Busy and productive.  The floors in the major living spaces were vacuumed and mopped.  The lamp shades were dusted (and the light bulbs) as were all the baseboards and framed art. I bundled up and walked the Dog.  There was no book reading or art making.

This morning I began the day by working on the geraniums.  Cleaning them up and repotting where needed. I also gave the pots a nice big handful of earthworm casings to fertilize them.  I had to pull down the window blinds on the bay because too much sun right now would do more harm than good.  I also added water to the paperwhites I never added water to and brought the hyacinths inside to start growing. Spring is only three months away. By the way, my little orange tree, (remember I adopted it when it had only three leaves last February?) well, it is getting ready to bloom.  Lots of orange blossoms.  I will add watering the plants upstairs to my list of projects for today.

Today's jobs include vacuuming the bedroom wing of the house which includes two full baths. So I will be pretty busy with all that bathroom cleaning.  I do want to pull out the rug shampooer and do a bit of heavy cleaning of the carpets.  These are all jobs I have neglected while working  "outside the home". I usually shampooed the carpets on a regular schedule.

And Riley will get his 3 mile walk.

Not everything will get done, but I like having a full menu of possibilities to choose from.  That way I can stop one thing when it starts to frustrate me and move onto something else, easier.  And then come back, to tackle the harder job once again.  And vacuuming hurts my back.  And the central vac hose reminds me too much of the greenhouse hoses, always getting caught on stuff and kinking, etc.  But, my feet stay dry here at home with the vacuum.

I still haven't come up with "something" for the "make your dreams come true" e-class I am getting everyday.  Could it be possible that I have no dreams?  On the Joy Behar show Joy said that your true "dream" is whatever you wanted when you were 10 years old.  I wanted dolls, a doll crib and new "real" china dishes.  It would seem that my "dream" was to be a mother and housewife.  I wanted a "home". Later, in my 40's I had my natal horoscope done and asked what I was supposed to have "done" in my life.  The horoscope person looked at the chart and thought and finally said, "be a mother and not much else."  She went further and said "you have a free pass in this life so just enjoy yourself, and oh, if you ever do something, like quilting, you won't follow any of the rules and never use a pattern". Isn't that something?  A Palm Reader said I "would always have enough, but not more".   Whenever I am reminded of the palm reader, I think I should read Oliver Twist.