Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts Regarding The Past 364 Days

It's not quite time for Resolutions but I have been thinking about changes (improvements) I would like to make in the coming year.

Time.   I think I have to find a better way to spend the time I have.  Not fill it with clutter (things that do not make me smile).  Like second jobs.  Set aside time for art.  Set aside time for reading.  Set aside time for cleaning (yes, cleaning makes me smile).  Organizing makes me smile also.  Weird, huh?

Life.   Here I have to start making better choices when it comes to what I eat and how I move through my days.  I need to add the daily 3 mile walk that I had for Riley's early years.  Once G retired, I stopped being "the one who walks the dog" and I gained weight.  Simple.  Now G walks the dog. I need to re-introduce myself to the Pilates machine and my Yoga mat.

Importance.   Prioritizing the things I do.  I did far too many things (this year) that made me unhappy. On Saturday I helped a customer create a terrarium in an old fish tank.  In a touch of whimsy we added a goldfish plant to the other four foliage plants in the tank.  Teaching.  That is where my heart truly is.

Family & Friends.  When you get right down to basics, family and friends is where the rubber meets the road.  Without them--well, life doesn't have many smiles.  I need to be more "available" to both. Set aside the time to do things with them--even a walk-- and take the time to listen and hear what they have to say.  Both of my children are experiencing difficulty right now.  Searching for something that makes them happy and productive.   I haven't made time for friends I used to lunch with.  They have been patient.  Waiting for me.  I need to make sure I open my schedule for them.  They do make me happy.  I have missed them during this "seasonal" over work.

Choices.  Now that I have this one "bucket list" job out of my system (2 working days left)--and I have to say the shine is definitely off that job--- I can now enjoy my winter furlough from my full time job which ended Saturday.  I have two full days off.  Today and tomorrow. Working New Year's Day.  Next week I am FULLY unemployed.

I am going to be far more careful in choosing what I do in 2014.  I want time for my garden.  I want time for my friends.  I want time to finish work in the sewing room (mending clothing, dog toys and finishing an old friend's quilt top).  I don't want to walk around exhausted.  I want to be well rested, smiling and engaged in life.  I don't want to be moving from point A to point B--just waiting for the days to go by.  That's not living.  Too much of that in December.

And, I want to be able to post more often, here, and actually have something entertaining for you to read and look at.  We'll be moving forward on the kitchen.  Perhaps a bathroom or two (why not do them both).  Riley will have his picture taken a time or two.  I have no idea what surprises await in 2014.  I do know I am looking forward to them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

After Christmas Art Class

The first step--pencil drawing (very simple and loose) of the subject.  Use your eraser.  Just get the basic shapes into the paper.   Here it's the terra-cotta pot, center stem and branches.

Here I have started coloring the terra-cotta with a variety of brown, tan and orange pencils.  My paper was more textured than I wanted (or is good) and the soft pencil lines didn't smoosh together as I would like.  Try for a smooth card stock if you try this at home.  I think I bought the pencil set at Staples.  So, this is easy to supply.

Here is the pot filled in.  I over-color in layers of different pencil tones.  You'll notice the little sun drawn up in the top left corner.  I put that there to remind me of where the light (sun) is so all the shadows will be on the opposite side.  There is nothing more annoying (to the viewer of your art) than scattered darks without purpose.  I also added the stem.  A dark line on the right and a lighter pencil color on the left.  A simple way to give the line volume.

Here is a sample of the stem line.  The dark on the right, the lighter brown on the left.  I started adding the needles.

Here is a diagram of needle placement.  Start at bottom and then sort of shoot your pencil upward to make a needle.  Look at your "model"  (a little tree from the greenhouse or a branch from your Christmas Tree) and notice how the needles grow.  Around the branch in a spiral.  So try and replicate that, but simpler (less) and space them out so you can go back and use another color of green (or two) to add depth.  The lighter color adds sparkle.

As you can see in this close up of the needles, I have lighter colored pencil marks closer to the little pencil "sun"  and darker needles where the "sun don't shine" as much.  The stem also needs needles so remember to add them.  At the very bottom you can see one spear shaped leaf.  This is the original "baby" leaf for this little Norfolk pine.  I colored it as I did the stem.  One side (right) darker than the left (light) to give the little leaf some shape and volume.

This is a very forgiving project.  Oh- I filled in the pot with "dirt" of various darker browns.  Leaving little white spaces for the perlite that is in the mix I use.  In other years, I collected mosses to top the soil and that made the picture interesting.  I think I used three different mosses I found in the woods.

In general, a very good artistic tip is to use, one, three or five of anything.  Odd numbers.  So if you only find one kind of moss--fine.  But don't use two.  Try and find a third one.  Odd numbers "read" better to the human EYE.  This is true of bouquets and perennial beds also.  1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 etc. ( it may even be true of children and husbands (1, 3, 5))  In the drawing above - only one baby leaf--but generally baby (seed) leaves come in two.

Now, go find some smooth card stock, sharpen any colored pencils you have, get a plain lead pencil, an eraser ( I like the white ones) and then find a "model".  Like I said--a snippet off the Christmas tree.  Roll your shoulders. Relax.  Draw.  Color.  You can do it.  Just like Kindergarten.  If it's awful?  Turn the paper over and start again.  Each time we try--we learn from the previous mistakes.

When I make a series of 10 of these, all the same tree, I can see where I learned from the first ones. Where I goofed.  What worked.  Same with those Doodle Trees.  As the work progressed they got better.  The first one (like babies and husbands) is the most difficult. (smile)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Christmas--Another Sweet Memory

Today, in the car, on the way to buy sand to spread on the ice covered driveway of our daughter, G mentioned, in a startled, sad way, that he hadn't gotten me a present.

This is the man who has been driving ME to and from work for weeks because he knows just how terrified I am of night time driving.  That is gift enough.  For a lifetime.

And, while he was buying the sand, I was remembering another December.  1979.  G was a new hire for a major corporation.  Traveling to Europe for two weeks a month.  One of the benefits was an annual trip with your wife along. He didn't want to miss taking me that first year. We left on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and were away for two weeks.  I was 32.  We'd already moved three times.  Sam was 10 and C was 8.

First stop was Stockholm.  About 4 hours of daylight.  Jet lag.  But I remember the cobbled streets, the wonderful food, the brightly lighted shop windows, the little pink pig ornaments .  Instead of "good luck" the Swedes would say "have swine".  A pig was very good luck as you would have food for the winter.  Therefore, the pig ornaments and the little pig candy treats.  I brought home little red candles in wooden cups and a box full of straw ornaments.  Still have them.

Then we traveled to London.  The most wonderful hotel just down the High street from Selfridges and Harrods. I walked.  Window shopped. I drank tea.  Ate wet, cold toast.  I bought lined boots which came in handy at the next stop.  I bought Christmas Crackers.  G and I went to the theater.  Ate artichokes drenched in butter. I brought home a very large Paddington Bear (with red rubber boots) for the 8 year old, but it ended up being mine.  I also brought home a Christmas book about a grumpy Father Christmas.  A book I love looking at (no words) each and every Christmas since.

Next stop was Munich.  Where Christmas lives and breathes.  G arranged a bus tour of the castles for me one day (he worked as usual and I was on my own all day for the two weeks) and I met two lovely women on the bus.  The next day the three of us drove to Strasberg.  I brought home lovely memories and two lovely Hummel dolls.  I have never seen any like them in all the years since--even while living in Germany.  We had wonderful food.  Slept in carved pine beds with huge, soft down comforters.  Oh, I thought I was in heaven.

I still have the things I brought back home with me.  But most of all I have the memories of a delightful "Christmas" trip that I remember with love to this very day.  And, guess what?  I was telling a co worker this story--of that trip--- just as G was driving to pick me up today---while he was realizing that he had no gift to give me tomorrow.   Those lovely memories-- gift enough.  For a lifetime.

And being able to tell my stories to you, dear readers---  Gift enough.  And my thanks. Have a very Happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Card Workshop- 2013

I move my placemat and napkin to the side and set out my supplies for a session of drawing.  Not that there are any "real" meals being served here.  I am not home to do the grocery list making or prepare any meals.  G is struggling.  Sandwiches.  Take out.  Leftovers thawed out of the freezer.  Pasta.  I'm thinking this morning would be a good chance for me to get a pot of chicken soup going.  For him.  He does have snow to clear off the driveway.

Our daughter had her bathtub drain clog this morning as she was taking an "after shoveling the driveway" shower.  Guy came over pronto (what good news is that!) and found three bottle caps in the drain.  S doesn't use things with bottle caps--so the clog was there for all the years she has lived there.

Here are the Tree Doodles I have managed to finish and the Hallmark card holder with a pencil drawing of the little Norfolk Pine.   I have them numbered as an edition of 5.  So I need to make 2 more.  The Pine drawings look better in the card holder than the doodles do.  So the doodles may go in an envelope all by themselves with a small card saying Merry Christmas.  Or a note.  I guess I could write them at some time?   What do you think of the doodles??

G purchased two pears for me--- I thought for lunch but I think he was reminded of the red pear he bought for me several winters ago (long time) that I painted and used as "models" for a few weeks in the winter.  He did select ones with interesting shapes and tones and stems.  I may try to do a few Pear Portraits.  Edition of three or five.   They would also look good in the Hallmark card holder.

My request at the retail job (belated though it was) has been granted.  No scheduled hours after this week later than 6:30.  This week?  Brutal.  All 11 or later.  Getting home at midnight is not making me a very happy camper.  And, to add to the struggle----- the greenhouse wants me to work past Christmas.  OMG!!! I have NEVER worked past December 24th.

I am moving to the kitchen now to start the pot of soup.  No celery but I think it will still be good.  G just likes the broth, chicken and noodles and I have plenty of that.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Card Trees - Years Ago

One, from this series, is in a very nice frame in my neighbor's house across the street along with another from a different series.  I, personally, do not have any of the trees I made each year.  This purchased "photo" card holder was one of the nicest I ever purchased.  I think I got the box of them at Goodwill.  Gold embossed holly leaves.  If you ever come across old boxes of good looking Christmas photo cards--I will glad buy them and pay postage.  I think they are a "thing of the past" with email and e-cards.  And Facebook.

We had a big storm last night.  The snow at the end of the driveway was up to G's knees when he went out to snow blow it early this morning.  I was supposed to be at work (greenhouse) by 9am.  I called.  No one answered.  I called again at 10 am.  No one answered.  I called at 11 am-no answer.  By 3 pm I decided to change out of my work clothing.  Have you EVER heard of an employer who would close for the day and NOT notify his employees????  Well, not notify me?  I think he has the cell phone number of one young woman and she knows all the other young people.  I do have keys, so could have been sitting there, lights on, doors unlocked, waiting for the others with an unplowed parking lot.  Wow.

I worked Friday and Saturday until 11 pm at the retail job and tomorrow, as well.  Working two days in a row is better than once a week.  I was a much better employee.  And I was very, very tired.

So, all in all, I enjoyed my "snow day" by setting up  my work area and making Doodle Trees.  As with everything, the first few weren't worth much--but once I got the bugs out I was able to go back and "fix" them.  I also made a colored pencil drawing of a Norfolk Pine which looked really nice in the "not so lovely" Hallmark photo card holder.  Now I have to draw more of those for next Christmas.

I will try and find time (and daylight) to take pictures of the Doodle Trees I have finished.  Six, I think.  So, I need to make 4 more.  Or 6 more if I send out 12.

G had leftovers of the meatballs and sauce I pulled out of the freezer--so I had dinner for the first time in about a week.  Here in my own house.  What a novelty.  I'm going to read a book, now, another novelty.  And go to bed at 10pm.   My retail shift tomorrow is 10:30 to 7.  Pretty nice.  I really, really hate working until 11:30 and climbing into bed after midnight.  Too old for this.

Did I mention that it's really cold?  Like zero.  And very windy.  83 in Florida.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One More Week

The Poinsettias are Buy 2 Get One Free starting today, so the end is very near for my greenhouse job.  I think the 21st will be my last day.  Retail on the 22nd and 23rd.  Then Christmas Eve.  The Party's Over, as G always says.

Speaking of Party.  G and I got dressed up (like adults) and attended the Holiday Party our bank invited us to this afternoon (evening 5 to 8) .  Huge pans of creamed lobster (big chunks), scallops wrapped in bacon and for dessert, cream puffs.  A Maine Event.  Also, very strong drinks.  G's rum and coke was ¾ths rum.  My Gin and Tonic was all gin.  We got there at 6 and left at 7.  No one we knew from our local bank was there. We did see a neighbor from our street who moved long ago.  He was with the newest girlfriend (ahem) and she was tightly wrapped in gold foil wearing stilettos.  When a man leaves the family---- well, it's certainly an interesting change.  He has grown fat and old.  Much younger than G and I but looks older.  Each new girl is younger than the last.

We watched a couple eat three or four heaped plates of lobster and have 4 or 5 of those 75% alcohol drinks.  They were very casually dressed.  G wondered if they even worked for the bank or were just people in off the street.  I bet they were going to drive home.

I styled my hair with "product", applied BB cream to hide everything, and even put on mascara.  Surprised myself with how nice I managed to look.  Of course, none of my holiday clothing fit. So I wore black pants, white shirt and a draped sweater jacket.  I was afraid I would be too casual, but it was good.  Not skin tight gold foil but age appropriate "good".

Got to go wash my face.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Storms, Winter Roads & No Sunshine

It's been that kind of week, so far.  G was kind enough to drive me to work.  Well, first he drove me to the hospital for yet another blood test, then to work, then came back to get me to take me to see the doctor, and then took me back to work and then picked me up at 6 pm.  The roads were terrible.  I am wondering if our Town intends to plow this year or not?

All my tests were great.  My BP has gone down (for no reason at all--I am not doing anything different).  My rash is gone (likewise--for no reason).  My hip still hurts.  (bursitis takes forever to go away).  My triglycerides (spelling) was 69.  Amazing.  I think that's due to not eating much flour and sugar.  We all know I eat a great deal of FAT and Dairy.

I celebrated with two raspberry filled jelly doughnuts from Frosty's.  Yes, I know that was stupid.  But they are SO GOOD and the local grocery has them in the bakery case.  For the first time in my life here in Maine.  Frosty's new owners must be baking during the day.  The old owners only baked (fried) from 2 am to 8 am.  When the doughnuts were gone--no doughnuts.  I had TWO raspberry jelly doughnuts in the 20 years we have lived here.  I managed to get one at a library meeting about 10 years ago and one on my own in that same year.  So, being able to buy one "any old time" is both exciting and terribly depressing.  It was delicious.  THEY were delicious. And now I am over it.

I confided in G that I have one too many jobs.

I am so tired.  I wish the holiday was over--but that just means "returns" and after sales.  The nightmare that is my "seasonal job" is never ending.  And the real joke--I haven't had a moment's time to use the coveted "discount" to do any holiday shopping.

The upside?  Well, I get laid off from my number one job on December 24th.  Then I will only have the retail job.  And the first week (after being laid off)  I will have three days at the retail job.  So, this might be okay eventually.  Still time to shop when everything goes on sale.

I have all the materials set out for my annual (re-started) Christmas card.  I just need to find time to actually DRAW.  And dear, C.  I have all your stuff in a pile.  Next to the box it goes it.  Not in the mail.  Bad Mommy.  So sad.  Perhaps tomorrow???????????????

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Simple Christmas Thoughts

The trees at work are not looking very good.  I am thinking this might be a good idea for 2013.  Just a basket and a tiny tree.  Some paperwhites.  A poinsettia.  Little clay pots with a very small Norfolk pine seeding in each which can double as tiny gifts if someone walks in with a present for us.

I found the (remainder) of unused Christmas photo cards I have sent in past years.  Now, I can get past the bad choice of photo card I purchased on Black Friday.  Looked ridiculous with my Doodle Trees.  One of the cards would look wonderful with a pencil drawing of a poinsettia and the other with a pencil drawing of a pine tree.  I bought the cards years and years ago.  It's exciting to find things you have forgotten--when you go looking for things you do remember owning.  Age????

My evening (yesterday) at the retail job was a nightmare (towards the end of the evening).  I ran out of gas.  I was unable to cope.  Very close to tears.  And it wasn't anything.  I was just too exhausted to even think, let alone problem solve.  Today at the greenhouse--I enjoyed watering and making decorated wreaths. Every. Single. One. Has. Sold.  Some, just moments after being hung up in the display area.  I am using the end bits of everything we have left.  Just riffing on my imagination.  Good Times.  No Crying.

Needless to say, I won't be doing the retail job again. I'll just buy everything I want before the end of my seasonal job.

Made a huge pot of kale, tomato, potato, bean soup before work yesterday.  Took a serving to work today but didn't eat it so gave it to a co-worker.  She was thrilled.  Home made soup.  She lives alone and will truly enjoy a good homemade soup.

Snow storm arrives in Maine tomorrow.  G has gas for the snowblower and the generator.  He is READY this winter.  Last December he was working--at the end of his own employment rope-- so we were not ready.  He even vacuumed the whole house.  Nice to come home to a clean house.

Nice to come home.  Looking forward to my furlough from both jobs.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Here's A Sample Of Shaker Cabinets & Assorted Things

I am liking the simple vibe here in this kitchen.  Plain, flat, vanilla.  Well, actually a pale, greenish white.  Not that I am moving any closer to actually making up my mind.

G's Jeep went in for a new muffler and it's been three days.  Catalytic Converter.  $2000 plus.  And we still have no idea what is happening.  Parts are supposedly coming from Boston.  On the bus? On foot?

The Jeep "muffler" and the recent carpentry bill have "put me off" continuing on the remodel for the time being.  Sticker Shock and the balance in my bank account.  The kitchen is usable.  It's not time sensitive.  I can wait.

Still no Christmas Tree.  I ordered a fat bottomed 8 foot "wild" tree.  From my very own employer.  So far---silence.  And, no tree.  I'm taking that as a sign.  No tree. This year. Let's see if I can live with that.

I've been making custom wreaths all week.  Some pretty awesome ones.  Not like anything anyone has ever made.  And they are selling.  I stopped looking at the pictures in the book and just made a "version" of what was in the pictures.  Bigger.  Bolder.  Still an 18 inch wreath but the components  are larger.  It's fun.  I made three of my version of Katahdin and while making number four--was told the other three were already sold.  Then I got asked to make a 24 inch version--only with meter balls and a bow.  Wowza was that gorgeous.  Today's version had meter balls instead of berries.  I'm always ready to add or subtract.  So, work has been fun.  We're running out of the "usual supplies" so I am having to use my imagination.  Switch things up.  What I'm good at.

I took an orange pill at work yesterday (the wreath making table is just a bit too low and my back doesn't like it after 7 hours standing on cement)--no rash on my eyes.  I also have been having Trader Joe's Bran Flakes and soy milk for breakfast.  Wow.  They are so good and crunchy even in a bowl of milk.  Being "regular" is such a lovely thing.  We may have to go back and get more.

The days begin with freezing weather.  End with rain and fog.  Travel is dicey.  Visibility is tricky. Just doesn't seem like a Maine December.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Mother and Daughter

Can you tell she has an Apple product that takes pictures?

She will be ticked that this is the one I used and not the "good" picture of me.  But, I can't find that one.  My hair looks nice.  We're both staring at the computer screen.

Now we are on the steamroller ride into Christmas.  No stops.  I worked greenhouse on Friday all day, then retail until 11pm on Saturday and up at 7 for a full day at the greenhouse.  My back was pinging and I thought it would seize up.  I showered, ate some T'day vegetables and stuffing and sat down on the couch.  Last thing I remember was eating my final slice of pie.  Then G shook me awake at midnight so I could go to bed.  Took me awhile to fall asleep again.  I finally got out of bed at 10 this morning (to let G in the garage door).

He's having the exhaust system on the Jeep repaired.  The carpenter was here with his bill.  Yikes. The kitchen designer wants a meeting.  I need to pick out and order my new cooktop, oven and microwave.  This week I am working Tuesday to Sunday.  Today is my only day off.  I paid all the other bills, made up a deposit ticket and G wants to know if I want to go into Portland to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  I'm thinking I do.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

And Then One Has To Accept The Truth

My kitchen is "cottage".  Not rustic modern or any of the other things I wanted it to be.  While I was thinking those thoughts, I was also choosing four over nothing windows (nothing says cottage like 4 over nothing) and asking J to put up a whole wall of beadboard paneling.

Now I have to redefine my plans.  I may even have to include upper cabinets.  This is unpleasant. But in truth, I already have uppers in the two bookcases attached to the vaulted entrance from the foyer. Any kitchen uppers would be on this very wall, alongside the bookcases.  So, actually, they could be just like the bookcases but with a set of doors near the top, or a microwave or an oven.  See how these things slither in?  A wall of "bookcases" pretending to be kitchen cupboards marching along with the fridge in the mid section.  And room on top for plants.  Or birdcages.

When "cottage" was pointed out to me in very stern words by the carpenter -an intervention of sorts----- I had a handful of Cottage Design books right on the bookshelves to refer to.  And I could see that each and every decision that I had made (with ease) was right there on the pages.  The decisions I am having a hard time making--well, that was because they were wrong.

I now know what sort of cabinet fronts to order.  I know what color they will be (white) or (gray green).  I know what the drawer pulls will be.  And--blessed are the unobservant--I know the only choice for the counter tops is black soapstone.  Did you see that coming?????

I don't have pictures--because those are not the kitchen I collected pictures of.  But I will, now.

I will end with a domestic issue a co-worker experienced on the evening of Thanksgiving.  His wife was in charge of delivering corporate gift pies (from a very nice bakery) to employees of her company.  There were five leftover which she brought home.  My co-worker enjoyed ONE slice of chocolate cream pie the night before. Then after all the hubbub of the holiday was past he wandered in search of another slice of pie.  To find that all departing guests had left with a boxed pie (even the chocolate cream with a slice missing) as a gift from the wife and my co worker couldn't even find a crumb of pie to eat.  He mentioned the brief but not pleasant chat he had with his wife.  I think she went out Friday morning in search of a pie.  I cannot imagine the grief from G if I had given away HIS pumpkin pie. And what would you think to get a gifted pie and find a slice missing???

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving & Birthday!!!

Today is G's birthday.  He was born on Thanksgiving Day--just in time for dinner many, many years ago.  And, turkey is his favorite dinner.  I didn't even have to make a cake.

The carpenter guys have been here all week--adding trim to all the new windows and installing the bead board on the far wall (the wall the island will be facing) and the wall I will be looking at while I wash dishes in my new sink--someday.

And now that the windows are trimmed and the bead board all is up-- my carpenter suggests I start believing him when he tells me the kitchen (and the house) are ACTUALLY COTTAGE and NOT rustic modern.  Sigh.  So I have to stop looking at modern stuff and start looking at cottage.

Even the windows I chose--four over nothing--are signature cottage.  Who knew???? Well, J knew.

My turkey went into the oven late but I had the pie, the stuffing (which is outside the bird, so technically it's dressing), the sweet potatoes, the green bean casserole (minus the soup) and a big bowlful of tiny Brussels sprouts from my very own garden.  Delicious even raw.  And I even ran across the street to deliver the remainder of my celery to my neighbor.  She gifted me with a very warm jar of brandied cranberries she just made.  My daughter and I opened the jar--very brandied--and tasted.  I think they are going onto some ice cream in the near future.  On a day neither of us drive anywhere.

Have the happiest of holidays!  This is the only one based on good food.  So eat!!!!  And on being thankful--so contemplate the things in your life that make you thankful.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Undecided & Crazy

The week hasn't been my best.  I had to clear the (very low) tables again on Thursday (greenhouse) after a day of retail and my back starting pinging the way it does just before it seizes up.  I didn't have the bottle of opiates with me as I didn't think it a good idea to take them at work and walking seems to be okay with the bursitis.  So I took a big orange pill (I had one of the those in the depths of my lunch bag) and the pain went away.  And the RASH came back.  NSAID allergy.

Work on Friday?  I looked great.  My right eye looked like I had gotten sucker punched.  And I was under the influence of the opiates.  Nine carts of poinsettias. Talking to myself.

Today?  No pills as yet. My day off. I had three pills yesterday and found that to be very disturbing.  The rash is still itchy.  I am dusting, cleaning, throwing things away (mostly catalogs).  Folding laundry.  Reading my book. Trying to decide on the paper, the pen and the envelope (which determines the size of the drawing) for the Christmas tree cards.  The doodles.  It may mean a trip to the store for card stock.  Unless I find I have something here in the house I can use.  I have so much. But where???? I can add "looking for paper" to the list for today.

My friend is coming over at 3 to select more fabric for placemats.  Then G and I will go with her to dinner at our favorite place.  So, 3 hours to get some house work done around here.

Have I told you lately how grateful I am for you dear Readers?  Really.  At the end (or middle) of a good or bad day, I can sit here and share it with you.  Rather than just talk to myself--out loud.  A very bad habit I seem to have fallen into at work.  The kids notice.  Ask which imaginary person I am talking to.  I say myself.  I had thought I was doing it quietly, in my head.  Nope.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Doctor's Visit Update

Blood work--three of the tubes-- came back completely normal (the nurse called in the late afternoon).  Nothing.  I am still waiting to hear the vitamin D results.

The pain reliever prescription was very potent.  Like having two or three strong drinks.  I slept well. Slight headache this morning.  Can't take it during the day, though ---can you imagine trying to work like that?  The eye rash was back last night.  I have salve on it and trying not to rub my eyes.

That's it for now.  Blustery. Wind. 39 degrees as a high.  Not like yesterday.  Greenhouse today. Retail tomorrow.  I made my little homemade work calendar (where I write where and when I am working) for the remainder of November (9 days till Thanksgiving), all of December and half of January.  My greenhouse job usually ends before the 24th and I don't know about the retail.   I can't believe the year is over already.

The retail job is perfect right now--- one day a week.  I have two days the week of Thanksgiving. I hope it stays this way.  We think they "over hired" for the season.  No one is getting the number of hours they wanted.  Except me! LOL

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hip Pain

Today was my doctor's visit and I had a list ( a litany of misc. things that are plaguing me right now) and recited it all out, in no particular order.

See the inflamed bursa?  That's what I have.  It is, in fact, getting better, very slowly.  It hurts a great deal if I sit down for too long.  Walking is painful after I have been sitting.  It hurts most when I am trying to find a comfortable spot for sleeping.  My doctor gave me an opiate.  Yes, indeed.  It should dull the pain, but not cure it.  Right now I resemble one of the cowboy sidekicks in old time Westerns.  The one who got kicked by a few too many horses and had to limp and hop to keep up with the sheriff.

My blood pressure was 134/90.  See, not taking the Aleve for the last week, while painful, helped lower one of the BP numbers from 150 to 134.  Now, if I only knew what this meant.

The rash?  Not visible so can't be diagnosed.

I also got a flu shot and had a great deal of blood taken.  Getting a good vein was nearly impossible but, with teamwork, the lab people found enough blood but it took so VERY long that G was worried I had been taken to the ER.

Then we had breakfast.  By 10:30, it was nearly 15 hours since I had the banana and half a peanut butter sandwich that I called "dinner" on Sunday.  I did NOT have any of the Open House Cookies.  I did have about five chunks of fresh pineapple.  For once I made an effort to engage the Open House crowd in conversation.  Nice ones.  Nice people.  It was a very good holiday open house.

And that's where we are right now.  After breakfast G and I went to LLBean to buy some things.  I got an on sale down vest with a fake fur collar that G said looked very nice with my hair --and really I should look nice for him, right?  I got waterproof leather shoes to wear to the greenhouse (no wet socks), two paperwhite waffle knit pullovers to layer so I can stay warm and a pair of black corduroy pants to wear with all the black things in my closet (too many). I also purchased a cardigan in a pretty floral print on gray background and a light thermal vest to layer under my other coats on really cold days--or alone on not so cold days.   It was raining all night and right now--it's 55 degrees and sunshine.  One week before Thanksgiving. In Maine.  I walked around in Freeport in a linen blouse--no coat.  Yes, I had pants on.

G and Riley are out on a walk.  Yesterday they saw a Great Dane and his head came up to the middle of G's chest.  Riley didn't know what to make of it.  White with black spots.  The GD wanted to play but Riley was hesitant.  I think I am going to sit on the couch and read my book while the washer does a few loads of clothes and then a load of Riley's dog toys.  Moo looks very dirty.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday, And It's Cold

I bundled up for work today, but the greenhouse was very warm.  Kept shedding layers until it was time to go home --then I had to add.  The electrician was here at the house.  I really must start looking for light fixtures.

I'm tired.  Really tired.  I wore blue jeans to work today and I am NOT a blue jeans gal.  It felt like I was dragging rocks around.  They are so heavy.  It was an effort to walk, bend and just remain standing.  How do so many people do it????  These jeans have no spandex.  Just heavy duty jean material.  And I will not be wearing them again.  I'll go back to my nice, soft LIGHT corduroy.

I am going to take a shower, put on some lighter, softer clothes.  Sit.  Quietly.  Be thankful for my husband, kids and dog today.  A blogging friend posted such a hauntingly loving and sad update on her husband's cancer------- it breaks my heart and makes what I have here, so much sweeter.

Take care.  Hug your loved ones!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chicken Soup Weather

It's cold.  Even with a down jacket, I was freezing cold on my quick visit to the grocery for "on sale" chicken thighs, No Yolk noodles, a very big onion and some celery.  I got five pounds of thighs for under $5.  99 cents a pound.  I added the carrots, garlic clove and stems of flat leaf parsley to the pot. It's simmering as I type.  G loves chicken soup weather.  He loves chicken soup.

G is out in the unheated garage working on the three 48 inch Christmas Wreaths we hang in the curves of the front porch.  He purchased them, many years ago, from a guy selling things he had removed from a shopping mall.  We hoped he hadn't stolen the stuff.  One wreath (the one we used last year) has working lights.  The other two--don't.  Now if it was up to me--I would buy the other two wreaths new lights.  G is trying to "fix" the lights.

Today is a total carb fest.  I woke up at 1130 (really, I slept!!!) and had three slices of WPF New York Rye, toasted, with two cups of coffee.  I read the paper.  Then I started eating those multi grain baked pretzel sticks.  (I bought more at the grocery) Then I ate an apple.  I slept last night because my hip hurt so bad that I needed a Big Orange Pill.  And, at the same time, my face and right eye were itching like crazy.  I have a doctor's ap on Monday.

This morning, as usual after a bad day, the itch is gone and I am having little trouble walking or standing.  And the Big Orange Pill made it possible for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. I have no idea what it's doing to my BP.  Life is a mystery.

I looked at pictures of the Thermador Pro (I can imagine myself as a Pro) range with dual fuels.  Gas on top and electric oven.  I liked the looks of it.  I have cooked on all the variations of stove tops.  Gas. Electric coils. Electric Induction (glass top).  Slide in, stand alone, built in, cook top, wall oven etc. They all perform the same---once you get used to them.  Gas is especially nice because you adjust the flame and get what you want.  It's hard to judge the heat of electric coils or induction at first.  I have had gas ovens, electric ovens and convection ovens.  Like I said--it just takes time to adjust.  And, my husband will be the first to tell you--I hate them all in the beginning.

I usually hate any kind of change.

G is looking for the boxes of Christmas Lights.  He put them away.  I ALWAYS ask him to let ME put them away.  I can find what I put away.  He just puts things, never thinking about leaving a clue as to where it was he "shoved" whatever it was.  Now all the Christmas lights are "lost" in the attic. So, I guess I have to go up there, in my winter coat, hat and gloves, and look for the boxes.  So not what I want to be doing.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Slightly Less But Lots of Black Soapstone

The reviews on the Italian range--not so good.  The oven temp knobs are low, med and high.  Just a suggestion of temp--nothing definite like 325. Those Italians! And nothing so large as a turkey would fit. And repairs?  Oh, lots of those to "fine tune" and get the burners to work---again and again.

The GE Monogram self cleaning electric oven regularly sets fire to the nearby cabinets.

The things one learns.  I am going local to look at the Thermador.  My guys (who repair all else here) will be able to service that, I hope.  Though the one guy told me to keep my 27 year (plus) old things as long as he can get parts.  The new stuff.  Some of it has no repairable parts.  You have to replace. What is the world coming to, eh?

Work today. Cold and raining but we have a newly installed (natural gas) heat source in the greenhouse.  We were cozy.  Next weekend is the Holiday Open House.  The Poinsettias will arrive soon.

G is trying to make way in the garage for our cars.  There are too many construction items.  I think we will ask J to take it all away or help carry it to the attic.  With the way I am making decisions---it will be 8 or 10 or even 12 weeks before all the parts of this new kitchen are delivered.  Too long to be parking out in the snow and tripping over wood on the garage floor.

I am quickly losing interest in the new kitchen.  I don't like making compromises.  Make enough and what you end up with isn't even a whisper of what you wanted.  In that case--hey, keep what you have.  It sounded simple enough.  A large island.  A new range with drawers on either side.  A lovely expanse of a countertop that I "loved" touching.

And now I have to figure out where to move the central vac that is in a wall that is being removed.  If the wall is being removed.  It's never a good idea to push me into a corner.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Interesting Dining Room From Southern Living

This dining room is on the "other" side of that kitchen design so many of you liked.  What I was amazed by was the use of so many windows in this designer home.  Something I lucked out with. The table here is nearly mine but the chairs--too cool.  I may have to find some like this for my dining area but I would need 10 or 12 of them.  And the terrariums on the table?  Wonderful!!

The electrician is going to install an outlet under the center of the table so I can run electric from the floor up into the table top (requiring a hole).  The ceiling over the table is 12 feet high--so any light would be too high or look too small hanging.  You can hardly SEE the chandelier the designer used in this picture.  I DO own a very large, heavy brass chandelier that came with the house.  We took it down after I had smashed my head into it far too many times.

I have been looking at appliances.  Specifically a new range.  I saw an Italian model in the blog posts at "Faith's Kitchen Renovation: The Full Story". She fell in love with the slide in 36 inch model and I think I did too.  But.  That means changing everything on that wall.  And where do I put the oven???? And how do I justify the cost which would include getting a propane tank and connecting it to the house.  But.  That means gas logs in the living room fireplace = heat in the living room and cheerful ambiance if we actually entertain in there during the winter.  It, entertaining, has happened ONCE in recent memory (there was chocolate cake).  I tried to get a picture of the range top but it didn't work so I will have to try to "link" to it.

I worked retail one day this week, took one Aleve that day and had the rash again.  Since I worked and used Aleve I have no idea which is the cause.  Today the itch is gone (Burt's Bee Hand Salve) and I am using Tylenol (not a NSAID) for the hip pain.  Which is getting worse each day.  Today I am trying to rest but I had to go to the grocery, Goodwill to drop off stuff, and Target to get the on sale thermal undershirts I like so much.  I got white this time.

I roasted a 5 pound butternut squash (in cubes with olive oil and salt) this morning and then used 3.3 pounds of ground beef to make a big pot of chili with red kidney beans, onions and green peppers from my garden after returning from the grocery.  I found, quite by accident, that chili tastes great with butternut squash cubes.  Half and half.  And I bought the multi grain baked pretzel twists that taste even better dipped in peanut butter. Oh, I also bought apples for this week's fruit.  Now if I could just settle on a good breakfast that I actually enjoy eating.  The oatmeal is good but not interesting.  Perhaps I could use less water and get it to be more chewy.

I witnessed an act of kindness as I was leaving the grocery parking lot.  A car with a family inside had broken down and a stranger had gotten out of his car and helped push the car out of traffic and into the Domino's parking lot.  All the traffic in both lanes was stopped.  Waiting patiently for the car to be pushed to safety.  At times like this I am grateful that there are kind people willing to help others.

On another note:  At the retail job I saw so many Canadians with their red poppy pinned to their coats. In the center was the Canadian maple leaf. The Brits also wear the red poppy in November. I am left wondering where our poppy pin is?  Why doesn't America share in this Veteran's Day (November) tradition.  Anyone crafty out there want to start a business making poppies?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

It's Going To Be A LONG Day

I know you are all interested in the progress of my "doodle" so here is what has happened since last time.  I added some pencils lines but I think I may need them to be darker.  It's coming along.  I should start another and then I'll be able to adjust or modify some of the elements in this doodle that didn't work as expected.

I am thinking of resuming the annual Christmas Tree Christmas card.  I stopped for awhile there. Two years I think, going on three. Lost friends and people dying.  I got depressed as my list of ten kept getting smaller.  Yesterday at work (greenhouse) I wrote a new list.  Longer than the original list.  I surprised myself by having made so many new connections.  I need to work on keeping them strong.  I think a Doodle tree on this year's card would be delightful.  I could work on them whenever I have a free few minutes.

Here is the "bag".  Not easily photographed.  I managed to stuff a few books, a lunch tote and a jacket in it to see just how much I could carry.  It would be an amazing travel bag.  Book, sweater, snack, purse, cosmetics etc.  I found it on line to see what it costs at retail.  $179.  (Ten Dollars on Tuesday).  The straps are a few inches too short to be truly amazing.  Meaning it could go over the shoulder if the handles were longer.  I read a few years of comments (and returns) and the company making this didn't even try to change it.  A few inches more of leather and these things would be amazing.  Looks like a Coach bag and one third the price.  I'm wondering if I could add a strap to the metal handle attachments and get the bag to go "cross body" like a messenger bag?  Coach might sell that sort of thing in plain black leather.  Commenters didn't like the smooth leather which gets roughed up and scratched.  I guess they don't use the leather conditioner that Coach sells---- fixes all that.  Me?  I don't like the "pebbled" leather finish.  Looks like fake leather.

My bag looks like it was used for awhile before being returned for a refund.  The leather is all soft and perfect to me.  Most of the things we get to purchase are returns or damaged.  G got a new down jacket because someone cut a small hole in the side.  Small.  We'll add a piece of black electrical tape (it's a black jacket) and G will wear it--well, forever.  The 850 down jackets are so light and warm.  Delicious.  Now--if I can find a bargain dog bed insert for Riley everyone will be happy.  So far, they have all been rectangles.  Riley sleeps on circles.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


I promise pictures and an interesting post.  The days, here, are so dark and slow.

I started the day with oatmeal.  Not sure how much to have so I made too much and just had the rest for supper.  At 7 pm.

Cookies give me indigestion. Good enough reason not to eat any more of them. Seeded crackers are okay.

Lunch was a sausage, onion, kale (I picked it in my pajamas this morning), roasted butternut omelet with a bit of cheese.  So big that I only took half to work to eat with some salad greens and olive oil and vinegar.  I will have the rest tomorrow at my "other" job.  Which is turning out to be ONE day every 7 to 9 days.  I'm wondering IF things will pick up Thanksgiving week????  Supposed to rain all day tomorrow.  I'm working 2:30 to 10:30pm.  UGH.  Double UGH!!!

I started applying Burt's Bees Hand Salve to my face and eye socket areas.  The dry skin is almost a memory and the itching has stopped.  I know it sounds like a bad idea but my daughter says she rubs it on everything and it always makes whatever it was disappear.  "It's a miracle" is something we say  (in our family) when something actually works.  The pharmacist suggested rubbing dry skin with the lip balm stick from Burt's Bees when we couldn't find the skin cream.  Now I know I just need the Hand Salve.  It's a miracle.

Another miracle is the $10 leather bag I got yesterday.  I've looked and looked and can't find the flaw. I also can't understand why the 200 people who walked past it before I arrived at the front of the cash out line, didn't buy it.  I saw it, picked it up and walked to the register and plucked it down.  It was $20 but I got it for half price. What!!!!  I pick it up (about ten times since I purchased it) and unzip it and look at it and can't find the reason it was marked down.  It's one of those large bags (that women think are great handbags) that they show in fashion mags.  No buckles or chains.  Just very high quality black leather.  I, quite simply, am in love with it.  That doesn't mean I will ever get an iPad, iPhone or other stuff to fill the pockets meant for those items. I am almost interested in taking a road trip--just to take it somewhere.  Picture tomorrow.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Tomato Jam

This was from that day--it seems like months ago--when I made tomato jam.  It simmers for about three hours.  Tastes mighty fine on a vegetable burger your friend brings over for lunch.

My firmed wanted to learn how to make a placemat to use as a Christmas Gift.  We selected fabric and cut (with a mat and rotary cutter) and then stitched.  She made four.  Took them home to turn up the edges and slipstitch by hand.

Today she called to say she had used the coupon I gave her to buy more felt (for the batting) and her very own rotary cutter.  She's coming over to pick out more fabric.

Feels good to have taught her something that is making her so happy.

G and I did the last two beds in the garden.  The top few inches are already frozen.  Too soon. I wish winter would wait longer to get here--or even forget to arrive this year.

Connie the magazine arrived on Saturday.  Great pictures.  And the Thanksgiving recipes--awesome. Thank you so much.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Are The Guys Coming Today?

Riley is very interested in having workmen here as often as possible these days.  They have coffee.  They pour cold coffee out on the grass.  Riley loves coffee flavored grass.

 The guys came over to work on the window framing (outside) and the clapboards.  You can see my new granite slab and the posts.  The posts will eventually be "clad" and look more like proper posts and not like treated wood.  I hope.   In the furthest right side of the picture you can see the two year old "helper" on the ladder.  She spent most of this cold day in the car watching movies.  I was at work so I couldn't play with her.

My itchy rash is back.  All around my eyes.  It's tolerable if I don't touch that area.  Skin is very dry. Once I touch it--it's like fire.  Nothing I am using is different.  Same products I have used for years and years.  I have no idea why.  And now the ball joint in my left hip has decided it doesn't want to walk UP stairs (down stairs is perfectly okay) and it I have to stand still for a moment when rising from a chair.  To give my hip socket time to recalibrate.  I have a "feeling" the Aleve I take for the hip pain is causing my eyes to swell.  And is probably causing the high blood pressure.

Long ago I had this crunching/grinding sound (and pain) in my knees when I walked up stairs.  The doctor gave me Celabrex and the pain disappeared (the sound did not) and my blood pressure soared.  They wanted to put me on BP meds but I chose to stop taking the Celabrex and lose weigh instead.  BP went down and stayed down until this summer and the nightly dose of Aleve or Advil PM for my hip pain.  So I have stopped.  I did take a Benadryl last night for the rash.  It didn't help so now I will be pain med free for a week and see if the rash goes away.

My view from the inside of the house.  I have so many decisions to make on the kitchen.  A new stove.  Cabinet fronts.  Drawer pulls.  Counter tops.  Had a "field trip" to the stone salesroom.  If I drive to Boston I could possibly find a brownish soapstone.  Not in Maine.  I can get honed granite or marble here.  In many different colors and veining.  Or I could choose manmade.  Or wood.

I found a website with photos and realize (now) that dark cabinets must have a light colored counter top and light cabinets a dark top.  No dark on dark.  Makes the 120 by 63 island I will have look small.  If you are going for a LARGE island--then don't minimize it with dark colors.  And, yes, there are big pieces of stone that will go on in one piece.  I was looking at pieces that were 147 by 74.  I didn't even want to know how much they cost.

I do know--now--- that EVERYTHING has to be HERE in the house or garage (except the stone) before any work begins.  Cabinets are 6 to 8 weeks out from day I choose them.  And we have the holidays.  So I am thinking the kitchen stays as it is until late January at the earliest.  By then I will doing our taxes.  Shudder.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Something Pretty

The guys were back this morning and Riley was over the moon happy to see them.  They kept asking him if he wanted a sip of coffee.  You can imagine how happy he was just thinking he'd get some coffee.

My 2000 pound rectangle of granite is here.  Along with a big tractor that G had his eye on. (the tractor was only visiting)  The guys drove the tractor on the side yard "road" and then up along the back of the vegetable garden and along the side of the property.  I didn't want them going over the top of the septic field.  It was in quicker than I thought and looks wonderful.  Then the guys used the tractor to scoop up the rotten wood G had along the left side of the garden (for too many years) and dumped it on to the burn pile.  Wow.  That was a huge favor.  Now G can reset the final rotten post for the garden fence.  And the mice and rodents can look for somewhere else to hang out. Even a snake.

J then helped me decide on the cabinet fronts.  He liked the same one I liked.  Now we'll see if we can get a piece of soapstone in a color that looks nice with it.  The "chalkboard" black made it look too "taupe".  Which means it looked "pink".   Not a good color choice on kitchen cabinets.  J also thinks we can get the soapstone in ONE piece for the countertop.  That would be sweet.

Today, one window got framed.  All the wood to finish off the window trim is here as is the clapboard  for the outside.  I will take pictures tomorrow of the one finished window and the granite step.  I can even show you a drawing of the new kitchen.  It's not the "professional" drawing.  I can't have that unless I pay for it or order cabinets.  We haven't gotten that far but I now know what they will cost.  I have to start looking at light fixtures, a new stove, a new hood and a new sink and faucets.  And I need to decide if I want gas or electric for the stove.  Gas is propane and I would need a tank and a line put in.  But I could then have a Rinnai endless hot water tank, gas logs in the living room fireplace and a gas stove with an electric convection oven.  J says I can have anything I want--if I pay for it.

Really.  You make one building decision and it's like a house of cards.  I want.  I want. I want.  Until the money runs out.   A neighbor is getting three new bathrooms this winter.  She's very happy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Have We SeenThis One Already?

I have so many pictures.   This is the size counter top the designer wanted me to choose. (NO!) Only one piece of whatever we choose for a counter top  (no marble!)--no seam.  This isn't much bigger than what I have now.  The difference is that my sink and dishwasher are at right angles to the back wall (where we are seeing a fridge and windows), making the aisle area very tight.  The designer says it's not up to code, what we have had here in the kitchen for years and years.  I have rather gotten used to walking around in tight circles (around the island) to get anywhere.

The dog has learned how to back up.  Which my husband says isn't normal.  When Riley was a puppy, I would make the beep, beep sound (like trucks backing up) and Riley would be encouraged to back up out of my way.  There really was only "just" enough space for him to turn around.  As he got older (and bigger) turning wasn't possible but there was so much wonderful stuff on the floor.  So he started entering face forward and backing up to exit.  Clever dog and messy Joanne.

I started this morning in pajamas, garden boots and a down vest (it's cold) and I wanted some kale for my breakfast frittata.  I got kale, a few more tomatoes and a few green peppers.  Then I came back for a container for calendula flowers (for a salve I intend to make) and then another container to pick October raspberries.  Lots of them.  Riley stuck his nose in the container and ate some so I had to keep the bowl off the ground for the remainder of the picking.  A nice full quart of berries minus what Riley ate.  My freezer is filling up with peaches and raspberries to eat with yogurt until it's red grapefruit season and I switch to yogurt with grapefruit (my absolute favorite) for the winter months.  Lots of work to cut all the segments but worth it.  So tasty.

I add some mending to do.  A king 280 thread count sheet had two small cuts ( I bought it for little money) which I sewed shut with my zigzag stitch.  Backed the cuts with a strip of white cotton in my wastebasket.  Then I sewed up the rip in G's pale blue tee.  A nice right angle tear.  I was thankful the machine was set up with white cotton thread top and bottom.  Threading the machine isn't one of my favorite things.  Especially in the morning.  Before coffee.

I am working retail today and tomorrow.  Late.  Later than usual.  Not all that pleased about it.  I like working mid day.  Getting home at 9:30 at night isn't something I want to make a habit of but I am thinking, as the holidays near, it WILL be more likely.  Hardly any customers that late.  Lots of folding and restacking.  Bad for my back.  I think I may say something about my lack of night vision to my leader.  See how they react.  I'm sure it will be a negative reaction.

Now to go plant garlic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Slightly Different Kitchen

More country. All the shelving seems claustrophobic.

I woke very early today.  Still dark.  Lights on in the house.  Wet.

This morning I have wet perennials to load onto carts.  In all the years we have done this--always cold, wet mornings to load them.  I will be soaking wet by 9 am.  I plan to have dry clothing to change into. then I need to order enough empty carts for the rest.

The mums are buy one get one free right now.  The pumpkin piles are not very high anymore.  Winter is coming. So much quicker than I had wanted. So dark.  On the way to work and on the way home.

In Germany they called this the "dark times".

G has the telescope out.  Looking at stuff.  The moon was too bright but he finally has time to read the instruction book--the telescope has tracking and will follow a selected planet or star as it moves thru the sky.  I remember looking at Saturn from a rooftop in Sonoma California with this telescope.  Amazing.

I don't think I am scheduled for any days the first full week of November at the retail job.  No email last night with my schedule.  I can get some work done here at home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Yet Another Kitchen

This one has a center island as big as an actual island.  And, I think this is what mine will look like.  The stove behind on the back wall, the island with sink and dishwasher.  Cabinets under the counter top.  A few chairs (I am thinking--two).  Doorways on either side (already present).  J and I are debating the thin shelf units on the stove wall.  He is thinking that a number of items would be up there and not on the counter tops.  Easier to keep clean.  Like salt, pepper.  I just spent some of my "day off" cleaning, washing, wiping the coffee maker, sugar jars, spoon jars etc, etc.  All the stuff that is on the counter top.  In use.  Making dirt.

In any event, the workers have not been back here in a very long time.  They have that two story garage and breezeway to finish.  My work was delayed due to waiting for windows so I missed my window of opportunity, so to speak.

I friend moved into a rental and agreed to take/borrow the huge set of lined curtains I had in the attic.  I am so relieved to have that box gone.  Really nice, custom curtains.  Not me.  Now.  I bought them at an antique show a dozen or more years ago for about $100.  I used one curtain for that many years over the front door.  Got my money's worth.  I think they were for a sunroom or something.  All different widths but the same length on all of them.  Floor to ceiling.

I woke up this morning while it was still dark.  Got to fall back asleep.  No pending employment today. Woke again, later, and pulled on the "uniform" of work shirt and pajama bottoms.  Made coffee, read the newspaper, paid the bills.   I also washed the ripening tomatoes on the back porch, cut off the bad spots (lots) and have a new  4 quart batch of ketchup (tomato jam is what the foodies are calling it).  It's midway in the 3 hour simmer.  I taste tested the first batch on a piece of chicken.  Very tasty. I keep telling G we need French fries.

Last night, for dinner, I had the BBQ pork with one of the GF noodles my daughter gifted me with on my birthday.  I had the mung bean fettucini.  Smelled like drying grass.  Tasted like dried grass.  But it was okay.  I think if I covered it in enough "something" it would be doable as a pasta.  And no heartburn today.

I am planning to get dressed, finish doing laundry and visit the grocery and Goodwill.  That's all I have planned.  I am hoping the grocery visit stirs thoughts of "something for dinner" that has tons of leftovers for the week.  G usually enjoys baked chicken in heavy cream with lots of mushrooms served with rice and broccoli but what about me????  A kale/sausage/onion/pepper frittata?

I have the new Jo Nesbo thriller Police on my table.  Finished a light FBI romance.  Hotshot. Have another Scandanavian mystery but I got book two and not book one.  I am thinking I should start with one.  G and I watched episodes 2 and 3 of The Fall on Netflix last night.  Only two more left.  Then we will have to look for something else.  It has been suggested we try Orange is the new Black.  Or House of Cards.  I am dying to know what is happening on Homeland but have to wait till the season is over.

What about you?  What are you reading, watching, thinking about?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Another Kitchen Picture

Hey! (I'm getting like Si on Duck Dynasty) here's another picture.  I want cupboards under the counter to store the six sets of dishes I have collected.  This design has cupboards and metal fronts.  My carpenter wants me to have things hanging over the counter--I am not that interested.

Today is my NINTH day at the retail job.  Doesn't it seem like triple that????  It feels like so much MORE.  Friday (#8) I worked the cash register line with 4 of my classmates for about 2 hours.  Either we were finally "getting" it or they were giving us a "trial by fire".   It was the dinner hour and things were slow.  We only had each other to ask for help.

I taught Pruning yesterday at the greenhouse job.  It was fun but I never have enough time to tell them everything I want to tell them. An hour is not long enough.  We never got to actually pruning anything.  The arborists usually only talk about big trees.  I talk about shrubs, roses, blueberries and fruit trees.  Things regular gardeners have to deal with themselves.  We spent a great deal of time on hydrangea pruning. Big time difficult when you keep losing the flowers.

I have been eating a healthy diet and still weigh 205 pounds.  Yes, I weigh that much now.  I was weighing 173 when I was complaining of not being able to lose the additional 10 pounds (to get to size 14).  But, and this is VERY strange, I am still wearing most of the clothing (16) I wore at 173.  It's not as loose but I am still wearing it.  I did, finally, have to put my favorite greenhouse pants (14) away.  I could still wear them, but they weren't as comfy.  And I couldn't fill the pockets.

I like my clothing loose.  There's nothing about have saddlebag hips and thighs that looks great in tight clothing. And this is where I carry almost all the extra weight.  And tight clothing always makes me feel like I am struggling out of a straightjacket or something.  In fact.  If given the choice (as I was for many years) I will wear the black cropped Perfect knit pants from LLBean and a K-mart mens XL pale blue work shirt (the set of four of them is now over 20 years old as there is no Kmart in Maine anymore) every single day of the rest of my life.  It's my favorite "uniform".  Unless, I am wearing the work shirt over pajama bottoms.  All day long.

Going to work--Hey! not the most comfortable outfits.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another Great Kitchen Island

I'm not sure if this is stainless steel or poured concrete.  But it's the set up I want.  Would you be "put off" if you looked at a house for sale and this was the kitchen?  Or would you just think--hey, this is simple and easy to cook in.

I worked early this morning (greenhouse) and drove to work in the dark.  I don't like having to get out of bed in the dark.  Best part of the day, so far, was going home at 2 pm and stopping at the library for two books for me and two for G.

We used Netflix last night and watched The Fall: episode one.  It was very, very good.  We were just about to cancel Netflix and just use Xfinity on Demand.  But guess what--Xfinity wouldn't load.  Just kept getting an error message.  But Netflix--loaded right away.  I guess watching season one and two of Homeland was all we were getting from the "X".  Worth it.

I was surprised, last night, to come home and find that, somehow, Congress had agreed to pass something.  Not that I think the "something" was worth passing.  Now we just have 80 days to wait for the next "great mess" when they can't agree to anything.  It's hard to feel proud to be an American these days.

I think I will take a shower, turn on lights and look for something to eat for dinner and then decide to read or watch more of The Fall.  Tough choice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My New Fascination--Ferns & Food

I have brought in two of my ferns--for fresh (bug free) soil and larger pots before the cold wind gets here.  I have a very nice asparagus fern and a "table fern"  I have the Latin name, but have forgotten the spelling and spell check keeps taking over with it's own words.  So, we'll settle for "table fern".  I also purchased a new fern which is still nameless.  I will need to do research on a fern website.

I don't know what I will be doing with the three (now) huge Bostons on the front porch.  Remember I got them for $8 each in the summer from one of the big chain stores.We have, easily, enjoyed them much more than $8 worth each.  So, I can let them go.  Or I can clean them of insects and insect eggs, give them a butch haircut and hang them in the upstairs (unused) bath.  Lots of light.  No heat.  But not freezing.  Any ideas?

I am loving the organic rolled oats from the bulk section of my grocery.  Chewy. I won't be going back to Quaker.  Equal amounts of oats and water. 3.40 minutes in the microwave.  Easy.

I just peeled another sink full of "fallen" peaches we collected from my friend's yard.  I got a large bowl of slices and a grocery bag of "compost".  In the oven the slices went with a melted stick of butter, a batter of 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 2 t baking powder and 3/4 cup milk.  Pour the batter in on top of the melted butter (no mixing together) then dump the peaches in and bake at 350 for one hour.  The batter will puff and mingle with the peaches and the whole is so much more than the parts.  This is a Georgia Cobbler.  Not for the faint of heart when it comes to butter and sugar.  The original wants 2 cups of sugar.  I always cut the sugar to half in all recipes.

Also in the fridge is a whole mess of BBQ pork.  I had to find room in the new freezer for peach slices, green pepper slices and those surprise raspberries.  So, out came the biggest pork blade roast and in it went into the slow cooker with a rub of brown sugar, garlic and cayenne.  The liquid was about a cup of apple cider vinegar.  It was fall apart tender when I got home from work at 6:30 ( I ran it on high).  I picked and shredded it and then added  2 bottles of store BBQ sauce and a handful of brown sugar.  Let it cook another few hours.  G had some, I had some and the rest will be used in burritos, sandwiches and nachos.  I will eat mine with a mixed green salad.  BBQ salad is one of my favorite meals.  I'll add shredded cheese and carrots.

I also cubed up all the useable parts of the ripening October tomatoes.  The seem to go bad before fully turning red.  I got a good 4 quart saucepan full.  I added stuff and cooked it down for 3 to 4 hours into a delightfully "adult" ketchup.  I finished the four half pints in a water bath and look forward to dipping French fries in the stuff this winter.  I also tried making a Peach Jalapeño Jam.  But, while nice and peachy--it has no jalapeño kick.  So a disappointment.  I added four jalapeños from my October garden and they tasted hot but didn't hold the heat while cooking.  Two of the half pints sealed in the water bath but one did not.  G has to use it in the next 2 weeks.  I should make him a pan of biscuits.

I am working, mostly, in the greenhouse this week and no complaining.  I'm pleased.

6 pm is dark here in Maine, already.  I have two good books from the library.  But I am sad to see the end of summer this year.  It must be my age.  Or something.  I am also wondering if I will get my Social Security check this month.  Bills to pay.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October And Christmas Cactus

I meant to tell you this.  Before now.  October is the MONTH you don't water your Christmas Cactus.  So it will be sure to set buds for the holidays.  Now, some of your cactus might have an early start--mine always do because I forget to water them (frequently forget).

And coming up: don't water the Clivia (if you have one) from now until New Year's Eve.  Then water again.  This is called "dormancy" and some plants need a resting period before they can produce a flower.  Mine were washed off with a hose after spending the summer on the front porch (spider webs) and now they are headed to work with me for repotting.  Hey, it's what I do for "work" so I might as well be my own customer.   While the Clivia (pronounced Clive- E- Ah) are resting they don't have to be front and center.  Mine rest up in the unused second floor bedroom.  No heat.  And Clivia like it cool and shady.

I had a day at home today, finally.  So I went into the garden to get some kale and noticed that my June/October raspberries had produced berries.  I picked a huge quart of berries.  I also battled huge bees.  What a splendid surprise (not the bees).  I also dug out Iris, replanted my Mountain Laurels where the Iris had been, sorted my bulbs for planting (only crocus, snowdrops, blue hyacinth and garlic this fall).  G and I drove over to my friend's house when she gave us the Peach Alert.  I got a nice heavy peck basket of peaches.

The ripe ones are (sliced) in the freezer with the raspberries.  The unripe ones (we had quite a windy day and they left the tree early) are on the sunporch getting ripe along with the October tomatoes.  I also picked another load of green peppers and jalapeños.  They just keep coming.

G worked on putting together another rolling 5 tier shelving unit.  For the sunporch and all the plants we overwinter.  He also cleaned up the sunporch and organized my pantry things.  Things are moving along.  The smell of autumn is always sort of over-ripe.  Rotting.  So many bees and little gnats.  I also got a cup full of Concord grapes off my friend's vines--a pitiful crop this year.  No jelly.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Good Friday Morning

I had a 3 hour instruction session at the retail job (R) yesterday but backed up to my "sick" day the day before adds up to two days off--I calculate.  I feel rested.

The Prednisone is making me sleepy and fog-brained.  Slow to digest the information yesterday.

But the rash is not red this morning.  It's dry and a bit scabby.  Doesn't burn.  And I dropped 4.5 pounds overnight.  Retained water.  It went as quickly as it appeared.  Not from my diet--as I am eating whatever I want (and lots of it as the meds make one hungry), but watching the salt.

G has been trying out his new diet (from his doctor) and purchased his second half loaf of whole grain bread.  This, second one, has all sorts of seeds and nuts in it.  I had the butt end with peanut butter yesterday and I liked it very much.  Very satisfying and filling.

This morning, coffee and organic rolled oats  from the bulk bin (so MUCH tastier than my usual Quaker Oats)  And not as pasty. I am planning to buy some at the health food store to see if they are better.

I am working (R) today into the evening.  I need to pack two snacks and a dinner as I MUST take two breaks and a lunch half hour.  We are more "informal" at my other job.

So--feeling better, a bit groggy from the meds, but not red and swollen.  Nearly normal.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Other Job

Is in retail.  Seasonal.  Because the holidays are when they need extra people to handle the crowds. And there are already crowds here in Maine as the leaf peepers are traveling the East by bus and by sea.  I punch in and I have a customer in front of me until I punch out for breaks.  It never ends.

In answer to the many reader inquiries;  I, too, think the rash and irritation is caused by chemicals on the clothing and other items that I am touching with each customer. A great deal of the merchandise is imported (much to the dismay of workers here in Maine who have had the fiber mills shut down due to lack of work here in America) and who knows what is being used in foreign factories.

The rash did in fact begin to develop when I worked four days with a day at the greenhouse between.  Two long days retail, greenhouse (a brief spot of happiness), two more long days retail.  Followed by noticeable redness on both eyes on Tuesday.  Followed the next morning by swelling.  Those four days were days #2, #3, #4 and #5.  Yes, I have only worked 5 days.  And had a rash for 4 of them.

The rash began in the corner of my left eye on Wednesday of last week--I rubbed it with my fingers while I worked.

I never rubbed my right eye but it is much, much worse.  Raw and bruised looking.  Like it was scratched and scraped raw.

I have always been sensitive to chemicals and fragrances.  All the products I use are scent free and as plain and soothing as possible.  Even these simple creams and soaps make my rash burn.  It takes quite awhile for the burning to stop after I apply something to the super dry skin around my eyes.

As to why I am doing this seasonal job ---at this point I think it was sheer stupidity -- all this for a good discount??  I am wondering if there is any "good way" to get out of this but this employer is very difficult when it comes to "letting go".

Sometimes the things you think you might "like" to do, are just not right.   And, sometimes your body tries to let you know it's unhappy with the choices your brain makes.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Sick Day

My eye rash "exploded" overnight and I woke up to red swollen eye sockets.  G gave me an ice pack to try and reduce the swelling and called the doctor.

I was supposed to start work at the greenhouse at noon and the doctor's appointment was for 1:30 so I had to call out sick or go in and scare people with my swollen face.

Turns out--doctor doesn't know what is wrong with my face.  But they are now concerned with my blood pressure.  Which was high (150/90).  I had eaten three cucumbers from the garden haul that G brought in yesterday.  Liberally sprinkled with coarse salt (the way I like my vegetables).  Just before the doctor's visit.  And last night the "food fairy" served up cheese covered nachos and salsa.

I'm not saying this is why my BP was so high but it could have contributed.

Now I am on Prednisone to see if that makes the rash go away.  It is making me more irritable than usual.  G is not impressed.  The doctor suggested wet tea bags on my eyes. My heart is racing from the Prednisone @ 7pm.  The skin around my eyes is dry and irritated (tea bags) but not swollen. I would still scare small children.

On a sweeter note: my Riley has not left my side.  He stayed with me this morning until I got up, through breakfast and cold compresses and after I returned from the doctor and had tea bags on my face.  He watches me with those caring eyes never more than a hand away (so I can reassure him with a pat).  It felt nice to be watched over.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Where Have I Been?

It seems like a hundred days since I last had the "energy" to post.  I have been working every day--my first day off will be this coming Saturday---still a long way from today.  My second (seasonal) job is taking a lot out of me.  On Sunday, very busy, I was actually able to get into trouble and get out of it without asking for help.  It felt great.  The next day___well, you know how that goes.  Terrible.

Today I was happy to be at the greenhouse.  But I kept trying to touch the register screen to make things happen.  Nothing happened.  Wrong job.

I also have developed a skin irritation around my eyes that is very dry and can even start to burn.  I am trying very hard not to touch my face with my hands.  It could be anything from the soap at the seasonal job, to the chemicals on the clothing I am handling with customer orders. I have dry skin anyway and try to use the plainest products (fragrance free) on my face.  I try and wash my hands before and after my breaks.  My hands aren't dry.  Just the skin around my eyes (eyebrows and corners) which I must be touching while I wait on customers.

On the way to work today, I even did an "errand".   I haven't even had time to shop for groceries.  So, this morning I made time to stop and buy deodorant and some new undies.  I couldn't do without a day longer.  LOL.

I noticed that G has picked more stuff in the garden.  I am thinking I should make tomato jam with the weird tomatoes I have ripening on the porch.  Sort of a spicy ketchup, but a jam.  And today I was reading about jalapeño apple jam.  Served on a block of cream cheese with crackers.  But I don't have time to make jam.

Now, I am going to take a shower and apply medicine to my dry eyes.  Perhaps the "dinner fairy" will provide a meal????

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Window Reveal

Here is the view of the room this morning before I had breakfast and went to work.  You can see the long table, the large plant hanging off the kitchen divider (which someday will be gone), Riley's bone collection under the table.  Riley was going in/out through the opening for the doors all day yesterday--and NOW he thinks this is THE way in/out.  Even though there is nothing out there to land on.  You can also see where the skylight was removed.

G is working on cutting the drywall, adding strapping and eventually putting up bead board on that long wall. It's his "project". I think I want to wrap the bead board around onto the window wall but J (carpenter) thinks it should be used only as an accent in the room.  What do you think?

Here is the view from the kitchen sink.  A whole wall of windows.  This changes the room so much.  And it brings the garden inside the house (it seems).  And you know how much I love my gardens.

I worked 7 hours at my second job today and I work there Friday, Sunday and Monday.  I should be fully trained and completely lifeless by Tuesday.