Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clivia In Bloom

Like a ray of sunshine at the end of February.  Do you think this last storm qualifies as March coming in like a Lion?  I'm ready for winter to be gone and done.  My new camera does I fine job--even when I have no idea what I am doing.  I have to figure out the macro setting.  It's the reason I upgraded.

I have all my Clivia plants (so many) downstairs this year along with all the citrus.  Everyone likes the change.  Warmer and they get watered.  But the upstairs has more light.  And I have so many Clivia because I divide so many plants for customers and they are so happy to give me one of the baby sized shoots.  For some reason the "gift" plants always flower.  The ones I bought--hardly ever.  I probably should divide my own this Spring when I return to work.

We could not find the elbows and small sections for the grow light stand.  G and I looked everywhere at least twice.  So G went out to buy replacements.  Which means we will find the missing parts in the next hour or so.  I spent hours looking for the origami papers I knew I had because I was packing a box for my son and he likes to fold paper.  Could not find the paper.  So, while looking for the elbows and small sections of PVC, I found the origami paper.  The box is already in CA.  I'm hoping I come across the Dataman toy we are also looking for.  My daughter saw it in a box.  Here.  In this house.  So, there is hope.

G and I watched four hours of this season's Top Chef last night.  The chef's this season didn't seem to be motivated.  As a group, they served food they hadn't tasted.  You only have one opportunity to win someone over when it comes to restaurant food.  I don't know many people who will say "the food was terrible last time, but let's go there again".  It is rather "exciting" to watch in HD though.  The Alaskan scenery from the helicopter was spectacular.  And I'm sure that was included as an advertisement for helicopter rides on your next vacation.  No free lunch, as they say.

I found a large stack of magazine cutouts and plenty of chair images.  Not so many vases with flowers. So I may be doing a few 12x12 chairs in the next little while.  I need to take some to the copy store and make them larger.  I think I want the chairs to spill outside the edges.

The snow from yesterday was big and wet.  Snow globe snow.  Like a fairy tale.  And, luckily for G, the snowblower could churn it up and spit it out. Otherwise, this heavy stuff is called Widow Maker Snow. The temps are above 32 so lots of water on the sidewalks.  Ice overnight and in the morning. Spring--come soon!!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What About Painting?

Every few decades I think abstract painting would be just the thing for me to start doing.  Big attic, lots of big stretched canvases, cans of paint.  Splattered clothing.  And shoes.  Just heaping paint on the canvas until something started to look good.  This one could be water and an buoy.  Not mine.  Off a decorating site.  I forget where I find these things.  But I don't pretend they are mine. Ahem!

Big day yesterday and I am still exhausted.  I didn't sleep well the night before (the big day) and was up at 6 am.  Once I get overtired, it is so hard for me to let myself fall asleep.  I used to have this boring dream I would go over in my head and it worked for quite a few years.  Now it doesn't.  I even try to count but keep myself awake thinking I missed a number.  Like it matters.  What works is getting into bed, covering my head with my covers and NOT THINKING. So hard to do.  So hard.

Today we had a whole bunch of errands.  G needed something at Loew's, I stopped in at work to get discounted suet blocks for G's feeders, the bank (my SS was deposited), the post office and the library. We did forget the Feed & Farm for chicken grit.  I am going to try a new method for starting seeds.  Mixing the grit into the soils (so it's not heavy and too wet) and topping the seed pots with grit to ward off the dreaded "damping off".  I need to get onions going.  I bought one MORE packet of seeds--Burpee's Dragon Tongue Beans.  Who could pass up growing something with that name? Huh? And, of course the grocery store.  We seem to be going there way too frequently.  Having someone eating breakfast and lunch here, instead of at work, is causing me some stress.  BUT, no restaurant meals.

I am busy writing another class.  This one is Seed Starting.  One of my favorites.  I have lots of charts and quite a few "demonstration" things to try.  This seems to be something gardeners like to have in a presentation.  I have to think of some, work out the details, supply lists and then the dialog that goes along with the presentation.  It's all very complicated.  And the presenter needs several editions of the presentation.  Before, during and after.  Just like teaching sewing or quilting.  It's a good time for this.  Makes me feel like Spring is getting closer and closer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

And It Snowed

From my husband's iPhone. He reversed the image. What is white is black.  He was out snow blowing this new snow for the third time.  It just kept coming down.  All day and all night.  The power flickered once during the evening but stayed on.  Quite surprised by that.  This snow is quite beautiful.  Layered on the tree branches like a fake snow scene in a movie.

I am reading a new Swedish thriller.  I don't like the way it was translated.  Makes for difficult reading. I know this is probably the way they speak in Swedish, but English sentences aren't written or spoken like that. I don't know if I will continue or not.  The plot is like a loose bag of rocks right now. It's title is "The Nightmare" and it's by a fictional author named "Lars Kepler".  It's a Swedish thing not to divulge your real name.  Tax liability????  I finished the Lisa Unger book.  Disappointing.

I've been doing laundry this morning.  G uses up a lot of clothing.  The entire dark wash is his.  Next up is a bit of cleaning.  Not too much. (smile)  I also need to think about cooking something as we are coming to the end of our soups.  G still has two days worth of cheesecake and he can make panini.  I  have peanut butter and Cuties.  The Cuties, right now, have a sharp spicy flavor which I like.  I think late February is the best time for citrus.  The red grapefruit is very good also.  And I bought organic popcorn.  I could make some of that.  For G.

Riley is getting a bath tomorrow and his nails cut.  A Dog Spa Day.  I think G just wants a day off from being the dog's best friend.  It does get to you.

I am thinking of looking at the fabric I have already painted (long ago) and seeing if I can use a piece to make a 12x12 with a vase and flowers.  Not having preset color choices to make things difficult. I also have pieces of painted fabric that friends have given me as gifts.  I can use them now that the challenges are over with. Everything doesn't have to be "mine".  I want to make something.  I can also make another paper bead bracelet as I now have larger crimping beads and can use the elastic cord.

I am also thinking of making my "box" project into a little house.  Papered with book pages.  I gave everyone who attends the Art Club evenings, a box.  From the Christmas ornaments we sold at work.  I hate throwing away good "art supplies" and had about a dozen of the little 3 inch by 6 inch boxes. I though it would be fun to see what the others made.  As I thought, a few are taking their time and others just made something quickly, to get it done.  I was working on the one broken box, as no one else wanted it.  But I may stop on that and use a whole box with a few parts off the broken box. Or make two.  Who cares?

I also have to pay the bills that are on the desk.  Too many.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Possibility For A New Work

I like this only because of the way the subject is cropped--the flowers cut off, going off the sides.  I like that and have used it in other works of mine.  This is a reminder, a page holder for future work. I kind of like the pale pinkish background which is quite painterly. Squares inside of squares.

I have new, darker, paints.  I splurged at Joann's on some Folkart paints.  I bought metallics also. I am anxious to clear off the workroom table or the kitchen island and wet some muslin and paint.  I might even print.  I realized that I already have silkscreen medium so I could use the tutorial in the QA magazine Deborah sent to me-- to experiment with Marsha Derse's techniques.  I like that she works small.  Fat quarter sizes.  I have an entire drawer full of things (I used to buy) at the ProChem booth when I went to quilt shows.  I should have something to mix up a resist.  I can always use potato starch. In fact, I would LOVE having a collection of Marsha's fat quarters.  I wonder if any local shop carries them.   A Reader suggested I buy my invisible thread on line. I should look for fabric that way as well. It's The Way Things Are Done Now.

I finished my Luther book.  Absolutely brutal and the butchering of innocent people (and animals) was horrific.  The BBCAmerica series is the same.  Very bloody.  I now realize that I am missing key episodes so I will check with Netflix to see if Luther is available and watch them there instead of the TiVo recordings with commercials.  Binge on them.  I remember doing that with episodes of Mad Men I borrowed from Blockbuster.

G is out buying another bundle of insulation.  He is short a bit to finish up the attic.  He also wanted to purchase yet another rolling shelf unit to go in next to the larger unit.  I want less.  Not more.  We are going to lower the top shelf to make it easier to reach the storage containers.  I have so many.  We used to eat quite a bit of take out and I kept the containers.  They never seem to get to the point of throwing them in the recycle bin.  Right now they are full of the "deconstructed" chicken soup.  One container each of carrots, chicken, noodles and jars of broth.  It's the way my family likes it.  My soup is all mixed together.  I didn't quite get the flavor (or texture) I wanted in the minestrone.  My friend makes one that I adore.  I can't quite do it, even with her recipe card. Perhaps it's having her next to me while I eat it that makes it better?

A Reader sent me a link to videos on sock darning.  I now have a good idea of how to proceed.  And other Readers sent me suggestions for future Netflix bingeing.  Whoop!!!  Any minestrone suggestions???  We are waiting for the snow to arrive.  Slow getting here.  It's cold, dark and overcast.  Dismal.  I am going to turn on all the lights.  At 11 am.  That's a bit better.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blank Slate

This image is from the blog of Cathy Cullis.  She is making a "blank slate" house to use for her next zine.  The idea of this is very intriguing.  I like that she is using pages from books or newspaper to cover the cardboard structure.  And building construction details like the fireplace.  Making a "house" like this always makes me happy.  Even looking at the bare bones of this little house makes me smile.

Today is very sunny.  The big storm is coming.  So says the weather guys.  G has mailed the box I packed up for our son in sunny California and purchased muscle car stamps for bill paying.  I think he and Riley are out for a walk right now.

Yesterday I went up into the unheated attic space and pulled the two large shopping bags of wool crewel yarn out and brought them down to sort.  I was once upon a time the "go to" person for elderly crafts people who were getting to the point where they couldn't do their craft any longer.  But they wanted their craft supplies to be valued and used by like minded crafters or artistic people.

This is a sad but very important role for someone in the community to take up.  I recommend it to any of you reading.  You do have to honor the work the artist/craftsperson has done and then carefully promise to do your best to get the remaining materials into safe hands.  I have emptied quilt rooms, crewel embroidery studios and even a garden.  I don't get calls now--but then I am far away from the quilt/craft world now.

The crewel wools are so beautiful.  I went up to the attic to see if I had an sock weight wool so I could attempt to darn the heels of the cashmere socks I inherited from G.  His shoes rubbed the surface of the heels down to the structure threads.  I watched videos and know how to proceed if and when I find out what the "duplicate" stitch is.  I read the directions but it looks like a cross stitch in the pictures and looks like knitting in the final product.  So, I am confused.  I did find a few skeins of a very thin wool that might work.  Not the right color, but I don't care if the mending shows.  Wabi Sabi.

I sorted the bags and now have one full shopping bag to donate to the local handicapped art project Spindelworks.  They are always so grateful.  I also have a large box filled with rug hooking yarn and supplies.  I need help carrying it down from the attic.  I'm sure one of the artists there will enjoy rug hooking.  I have dozens of hardwood needlepoint frames also.  I never did find someone who wanted these things.  I don't think wool crewel is popular right now.  And the frames don't interest the few I know who do cross stitch.  Most work without a frame.  I loved crewel stitching.  Perhaps I still do?

Now--it's Chicken Soup.  We finally ate all the pot roast.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another White Kitchen - Probably The Last One

I'm thinking that it's the ZEN of the space that attracts me to these kitchens.  I can't imagine this space looking wonderful with the debris of actual cooking.  I made a New York Style cheesecake the other day and I had mess from one end of the center island into and around the sink plus next to the stove where the stand mixer lives.  All I can see myself doing here, in this space, is making a cup of coffee. Perhaps a bowl of cold cereal.  Friends of mine have a kitchen like this.  They eat out.

Another storm on the way.  We had our much anticipated daily outing to the grocery.  Cereal, yogurt, juice, milk, bagels etc for G's daily breakfast.  I got a bag of red grapefruit and some whole milk ricotta. I decided to try having ricotta instead of yogurt.  I like it.  Less carbs.

I think I will be making a large pot of chicken noodle soup for G tomorrow.  If the snow does come, it will be nice to have a hot bowl of soup after snow blowing.  Mainers (old timers) were buying hot dogs and canned baked beans for Saturday Night Dinner.  A New England tradition with steamed brown bread.  I think it was a "made do" meal when the budget was getting thin before pay day.  A big pot of homemade (soaked and then baked) beans was very budget friendly and quite filling when you had a few hungry children to feed.  The hot dogs are possibly a modern addition.

I don't have any work to do--no new classes to write.  I have only one bill to pay.  I started a good book last night before switching to Netflix bingeing for the rest of the evening.  I think we watched 4 or 5 episodes in a row.  Do you have any suggestions of television dramas/police procedurals we might enjoy?  We are watching the 2007/08 series Life right now.  Police procedural.  I have Damages on the list and the PBS British detectives.  I wanted to watch the series on John Adams but we couldn't find it listed so it might have had a different title.  The Tudors might be fun to watch.  I don't think I've seen them all.  We want to watch Prime Suspect from PBS again.  I remember it being very good.  And Inspector Morse. And it would be fun to watch Mad Men from the beginning.  We couldn't find the AMC series Rubicon.  I would have enjoyed seeing that again.  It got cancelled. Suggestions would be appreciated.

I am miffed that the movies I want to see are all DVD and not streaming.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Delightful Tuesday After A Very Bad Start

My rose lecture was today.  For a very nice local garden club.  I was warmly welcomed, made to feel very comfortable and gave my talk after the business meeting.  I was hopeful that what I had to say about roses was what they wanted to hear.  A number of members are master gardeners (like I am) so the bar was raised pretty high today.

The not so good (in fact, I was reduced to tears) was that none of my cute skirts or pants fit.  Too tight. Things that slipped on a few months ago, would not zip.  I was left to stand front of the closet looking for something, anything, that I could wear to an event where Tea & Finger Sandwiches were being served.  I ended up in black jeans, a crisp white shirt with the collar styled up and over the top edge of my dark gray zip front Geiger sweater jacket.  All the top stuff fits.  Anything that has to go over my hips and rear end--does not.  Past the rear end--stuff fits great.  So.  Everything over the head or stepped into seemed to be going on just fine.  And then it wasn't.

I know all of you hate diet talk.  This is all I am saying about this.

The weather here is sunny and warmish.  Rain tomorrow.  And yes, that is printed bubble wrap in the bottom right corner.  This was from the 12x12 Colorplay series.  This is Pink.  I had intended to make a vase and flowers for all twelve of the Colorplay challenges.  But instead of one or two colors, the challenge involved 3, 4 or more colors as the months went by and complicated my idea.  I think the first three were vases with flowers.  I still like the idea.  And I like this one very much.  My painted fabric in the background. Painted for this piece.

It sort of looks like fantasy Roses.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bowls & Beads

I am drawn to bowls.  Is it the emptiness of the bowl?  The open bowl ready to accept whatever we wish to put into it?  Waiting.  And the beads.  I have enjoyed cutting strips of paper and winding it onto a toothpick with a few inches, at the end, with glue to hold it all together.  I like making small beads. And I like to see the homemade beads tumbling around in a bowl.  I didn't make these in the photo.

I had quite a time of it trying to string my homemade beads onto elastic cord.  My "crimping" beads were too thin to accept a double strand of cord.  So I had to use a different string and kept mis-measuring my hand, which the bracelet  had to pass over, to arrive at my wrist.  And, I lost count of how many times all the beads slipped off the string.  Onto the floor.  All over the table.  I, eventually, made one bracelet.  And then I took all the supplies and returned them to the art supply cupboard.  I don't have time for making another right now.  One will be enough for right now.

We had another "snow storm" yesterday.  It didn't snow very much.  But we had very icy cold wind, and still do today. A wind blizzard.  But today the sun is shining.

Downton Abbey is finished for the year.  I had read, by accident, what was to happen so I wasn't as shocked as you all must be this morning.  When they wrote out the contracts, they expected to be finished in three years.  Now, due to good ratings, there is a fourth year.  Some don't want another year so they had to die. I like to watch because I like to see beauty on the screen.  I don't like most of the characters.  The action, if we were to call it that, is very slow at times, and then too quick at other times.  I did enjoy the look of it all last night on the new television.  In high def.  Scotland was dreamy.

I have work to do today.  I think.  I had best get to it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Love That Dog

It took awhile and lots of snaps on the new camera, but I finally got a picture of Riley's very expressive eyes.  What a sweetheart of a dog.  And me, not a dog lover.  Until I picked Riley.  And isn't he shiny?

We had a bit of light snow this morning.  Yesterday we ( G, Riley and I) sat out on the back deck sans coats to enjoy the sunshine and almost 50 degree weather.  Riley, being black, was flat out on the deck soaking in the heat from the sun.  He also had a good walk in the woods with G.

I made a few more beads last night.  Watched a few more episodes of "Life" on Netflix.  Dinner was house fried (by me) corn tortilla chips, layered with tons of cheese, baked, and served with big bowls of chunky salsa (by G). Nachos. A day late but a good Valentine's dinner just the same.  It got to be too late, so I didn't get to eat my avocado chocolate pudding (a lchf dessert).  I can only eat chocolate at lunchtime-otherwise I can't sleep at night.  I think chocolate has a bunch of caffeine.  Today I have a 6.5 pound pot roast going into the oven.  Served with a nice mushroom cream gravy.  Good stuff.

I have laundry to do, cooking to do, already had a shower and breakfast, so I have to find more stuff to do to fill the day.  It's only Saturday.  I woke up thinking it was Sunday.  More beads?  Stringing beads into a bracelet?  More writing.  Clothes folding.  Desk Straightening.  Bill paying.  An ordinary day. Which is nice.  Just a day.  Enjoy it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Some Valentine Work From Before

Long ago, I was interested in all things crazy.  Crazy quilting.  But mostly the thread work and embroidery on top of the crazy patchwork.  I made this heart for a customer.  And then she didn't want it.  I can't find the others.  I looked but they don't want to be found today.  The felt heart was made during the twice a month mini quilt group I had with 5 friends, so long ago, I can't remember when it was.  I was given a heart like this (only seamed with a second plain heart and stuffed) which could be used as a pin cushion.  This is a sample I made to teach people at the library how to make them.  Buttonhole stitch around all the pieces.  I have the bag with all the supplies.  I can finish all of them.  At the bottom are my paper beads.  I rolled more on Wednesday night before we discovered how to get Netflix going.  I ran out of the paper I used.  So this is truly a "limited" edition of beads.  I think there are enough for a bracelet.  With tiny red beads from my bead box.

I liked the buttonhole stitch so much, I started a wool suiting table runner with wool felt flowers buttonholed on top.  Sigh.  I was really "in" to all this 1800's style work.  So far away now.  Like a dream.  I even have acid green, yellow, and red Civil War prints for a set of blocks.  And the patterns. Do you ever feel like you are time traveling when going through boxes of old things?

I can see why we all have unfinished projects.  We changed.  The work stayed as it was.

In other news:  My blog post titled "The View From My Back Deck" continues to be the most popular one I have ever posted.  I think the title invokes something.  I should have titled my blog this way and then I could be selling ads in the sidebar and living the good life.

I have to settle in to write and re-write my lecture on Roses.  I found an interesting article on speaking to a group.  Seems they don't remember much of what they heard but they do vividly remember emotions that the talk evoked as they listened.  I find this to be true in my own listening experience.  If a speaker evokes the desire in my mind and heart to follow the topic and use it in our own lives--then it is remembered.  A good story is remembered if it creates a memory or an emotional response.  Think St Jude Hospital ads.  I have to create an emotional image or response in my lecture on roses.

My classes, at work, on Seed Starting and Vegetable Gardening are always popular because I am so emotionally involved in these two subjects.  It shows.  People hear it and see it.  And they want to experience the joy as well.  If I had to say who I am,  it would be "teacher".  I have always thought I would say "artist" but I don't think I communicate as well with art.  But perhaps I haven't tried hard enough to say what is in my heart with art.

Thank you again, dear Readers, for giving me the time and space to think these things through.  To learn about myself in these pages.  Even when I use the delete button I learn things about myself.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I am going to be away from home all day--so this quick note before I run off.  Whatever you dream of having today--I hope it comes true.  Flowers, cards, candy.  Someone to hold your hand.  A smile.  Any sweet thing that makes your day a happy one.

We managed--with a call to tech services--- to get Netflix to work on the TiVo last night.  Smile.  We really have no technical skills.  And we managed to watch 7 episodes of Life.  About a policeman wrongly convicted of murder and in prison for 12 years.  You can imagine all the horrible things that happened to him in 12 years.  And then he is exonerated and released.  And he wants to return to work as a detective.  Everyone on the police hates him.  Of course, it is well crafted, a delight to the ear and eye. And was cancelled by NBC.  I think there should be a category named "cancelled by NBC".  Perhaps there is.  Prime Suspect last fall.  Cancelled and well loved by many viewers.  But Smash goes on.

After the seven episodes we had no idea how to turn Netflix OFF.  Really, we are dinosaurs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Another Placemat & Art Club

This one using red scraps.  Tonight is the February Art club meeting and we'll be making Valentines and paper beads.  I will collect any supplies I think I will need for these two pursuits and also bring my journal with the, as yet, unfinished doodle I began at the December meeting.  I like the women who come to these meetings.  They are open, generous (sharing materials always) and the chat while we work (or just sit) is ever changing and illuminating.  This, and the 10x10, are two new things I am trying this year.  And I am quite happy about both.

I found a blog post with a "how to" on making an eternity loop scarf.  I also liked the way the scarf was styled with a belted blazer and denim shirt.  Now I will need to go shifting through my stash looking for 1.75 yards of suiting wool or two 31.5 by 22 inches pieces.  I am considering cutting up the velour skirt in the scrap bag and making a silvery, aqua scarf as well as a wool one.  Perhaps a visit to Goodwill? For a skirt? But I remember having a wool calais (is that correct) skirt that no longer fits.  It's soft and was very expensive in 1988.  It would make a lovely scarf.  This blog always gives me the time and space to think things through.  I hope I can find it and that there is enough fabric.  I was much smaller then.

I have only one more of the time travel romances to read.  Last night I read my second favorite, Iolante, and it wrung my heart just as it did the other few times I have read it.  Such a strong and well written piece. I have my most favorite on the table.  Margaret of Falconberg.  I woman who could best most knights with her sword skill.  At least in fiction.  She didn't want to settle for a woman's role in life.  In the 1100's or earlier.  She was relentless.

Still haven't watched any Netflix.  Where do people find the time for it?

We closed our main checking account.  Had it since December of 1991.  They were charging us $25 per month to write less than a dozen checks now that our investments had been transferred to Merrill Lynch.  Of course, when we went in to close it, the bank accounts rep had a multitude of ways in which  future checking would be free.  We said no.  What I wanted to say was "why did you wait to offer us these choices?"  They should have been offered when the investments were moved.  Does anyone understand how to do customer service these days?

I go out of my way to make sure any customer I speak to at work, leaves with some information to answer their questions.  I offer alternatives and easy how to instructions.  I don't always try to sell them anything.  And guess what?  They come back and ask for me.  Not because I am the smartest or most informed person they talk to but because they can see I actually want to help them.  And every so often I get the answer right.  And they come back to share their success.  That's why I love my job.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Man Who Loves His Dog

Will stay outside for another hour to snow-blow paths in the back yard for the dog.  When G opened the back door, Riley was expecting to find the deck and then those deep drifts.  Imagine his delight when he saw the paths?  Riley fairly bounced out the door and ran all over the yard.  The paths go from the house,  to the right, around the veg garden and back up, past the shed and to the door.  The snow is up to my waist.  About 2.5 feet.

The sun is shining and it's about 40 degrees today.  I might just go sit on the deck and get a dose of suntan.  I took these pictures with the new camera-- It was too bright to see what I had actually snapped but they came out pretty nice.

This next picture is of one of the placemats that I finished up last week (with a bit of shadow on the lower edge from me).  It's just scraps of fabric laid on a precut felt "batting" with a backing fabric underneath.  I add and subtract bits of stuff from the wastebasket.  I may cut things to fit but usually I don't.  Very wabi sabi.  All the bits are tacked down with invisible thread and a zigzag stitch.  I may have added straight stitch quilting on this one.  I like the blue ones best of all.

When I was program director of a quilt chapter, I had everyone (who would) make a block a month for charity quilts.  I gave them a selection of colors as a theme.  All of the blocks I made for the challenge were made this way.  I did seam them together but this is how they looked.  Not like the others.

I am trying to decide what to make for dinner today.  I have Italian sausages (hot and not) so we could have sausage and peppers.  Or a sausage ragu with pasta (G).   I have a recipe for the pork ragu our favorite restaurant makes.  The chef uses Italian sausage to make the ragu.  I think I should look for the recipe.  I know it calls for fresh fennel, but perhaps a few fennel seeds will be okay.  I don't want to leave home.  Where did I put the card?????

Saturday, February 09, 2013

After The Blizzard

The snow is very deep.  Yes, I was wrong.  It snowed.  G had to dig out the back deck so Riley could go out.  He went out.  Into the deep powder and floundered like he was drowning in water not snow.  Back in the house.  Not going back out.

G is trying to make his way from the garage to the street with the snowblower.  The wind is whipping the dry snow back into his face. The street is plowed as is the neighbor's (across from us) driveway. No cars.  No newspaper.  No mail today.  Feels like a Sunday.

I awoke several times last night.  The sound of the wind woke me.  We never got the heavy wet snow. The deep snow is good for the shrubs and gardens.  Rain on Tuesday and 44 degrees.

I'm going to find my book and a third cup of coffee --- after I finish the dining room table cleanup.
We're safe and warm.

Friday, February 08, 2013


It doesn't look like this yet--close.  But Riley has already been for his daily walk in the woods with G.  I was reading my journal this morning (for last February) and there were daily notes on MY walks with Riley in the woods.  In the cold and snow. I am so thankful that G is doing the walking this year.  Its nice to see everything covered in clean, white snow.  No grass showing.

The snow is steady but thin.  Dry.  Light.  Champagne powder.  Skiers love the stuff.

I spent an hour cleaning.  I chose the dining room table as my first project.  When we emptied the desk in the kitchen a world of odds and ends landed on the table.  Now I am trying to find good homes for what I want to keep and the recycle bin or garbage can for the rest.  I found art supplies I had lost or forgotten I owned.  I found important receipts I should have filed.  I found recipes.  I added a few things to my son's Valentine box (I try and mail things to him) and I found a few things from his college days, his high school days and even middle school.  A Bento Box of treats.  My next job is the desk right here under my finger tips.

G has gotten us signed up for all sorts of online accounts.  SS, Medicare, the bank etc.  I checked late last night to see if my unemployment check had been deposited.  We aren't getting mail lately and I hadn't gotten the usual confirmation.  Medicare has returned 2/3rds of my overpayment.  I still haven't gotten any SS. We also signed onto Netflix for a 30 day trial.  Never had it before. I took the "like/dislike" survey and when I was finished I got a note from Netflix that they had ZERO recommendations for my viewing pleasure.  Sad but true.  I know there are at least three new-ish movies I want to see.  Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Now I am going to put the wet stuff in the dryer and start my dinner prep.  We had roast turkey breast last night.  It was very good and we ate it all.  I had hoped for a few leftovers.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

And The Weather Man Says- Blizzard

I am on the fence.  It's extremely cold today. Clear blue skies.  Sunshine.  And a blizzard is predicted for late tomorrow.  Our local liar --oops, weatherman-- says we'll have 24 inches by Saturday morning and 60 mph winds.  Which, here in Maine, means no electricity.

I am seriously sad to think of the added misery to be inflicted on New Jersey tomorrow.

So, I went to the library for books.  And the grocery for food.  Like everyone else here in my small Town.  We have plenty of candles. We have plenty of clean clothes and underwear, but I may just do a load of clothes, in case.  I remember the 6 days without power during the Great Ice Storm.  I remember worrying about clean underpants.  But mostly, I just wanted a hot shower.

G is getting excited about the new generator power box.  He wants to see, exactly, what, besides the furnace, is hooked up to the generator box.  It's a SURPRISE.  If you hear of a house in Maine exploding-- that may be the surprise.  He is hoping the furnace, garage, bathroom lights and refrigerator are powered up by the generator.  Some of the living room outlets are powered by the garage (really, don't you wonder about the original electricians?)  so it's possible we will have television and internet.  It's going to be interesting to see what works and what doesn't. He and the electrician (spellcheck had electron which is funny) installing the box tried to figure out what powered what.

G wanted the garage on the new box so we could open the garage doors.  And the bathroom with the shower so we could see when we showered as there is no window.  Very dark.  The refrigerator because we need that when the power goes off in warm weather.  Winter, I just move everything to to garage steps.  Nice and cold.  If the living room outlets work (or even another one in the kitchen) that would be neato.  Then we could make coffee and use the toaster oven.  Possibly the microwave.

I do know that the electric stove is not going to work as it takes too much power.  I think I will be cooking a bunch of things tomorrow (all day) and then just need to reheat food for the duration.  However long or short it is.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

I am working on writing my second gardening class.  On Roses.  I have all the research (well, enough to begin writing) and ideas of where I want the class to go, but getting there is sometimes a struggle.  I have been "writing" paragraphs in my head all week.  Some sounded terrific but lost their sparkle when I tried to get it down on paper.  Improv is always fresher. But terribly dangerous in front of an audience.

It is also best to have too much information, rather than, not enough.  Sigh.  The writer's life is not an easy one.  Most of all I need to get from point A to the end in a steady progression. Moving right along.  Making sense.  No side trips.  So, I work on that, mostly in my head.

Just like last night watching Smash.  Ivy, Ivy, Ivy is the better Broadway actress and singer.  She belted that song out at the end.  Karen (is that her name?) couldn't even keep up with Hudson.  She whispered.  The duet in the bar should have been with Ivy and Hudson.  And I am tired of Debra Messing. (Debra Mess) Ugh.  The ratings were very low and I think it's due to their choice of Karen over Ivy.  We watch to hear good SINGING.  I may not watch anymore, unless Karen gets hit by a bus or something.  G missed Vegas.

We have no snow cover here in Maine.   G took the lawnmower in for servicing.

I am thinking of going into the half empty workroom and making binding for two more placemats.  I was trying to remember how to attach one strip to another.  Amazing.  I seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew about quilting.  I know that the invisible thread will flummox me no end.  It always does.  If I can make and sew the binding to the placemats (already made) then I will have some hand sewing to do this evening.  Than would be nice.  Tomorrow I get my haircut.  Needs it.

Furnace man is here to clean the furnace.

An Update:  I had, somehow, top zigzagged, all the placemats (but the orange one) at some point in the past 12 months (I have no clear memory of doing it) and in my drawer of "loose ends" I found enough binding to do all four mats (I quickly dug around in the wastebasket for orange things to finish mat number four).  While I love my never ending supply of "just the right thing" in the wastebasket, today I am more in love with the "drawer of loose ends".  How clever of me to save all the extra few feet or even yards of already made binding.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Everything Is Changing

It seems that every time I open this blog--it's different.  Today my pictures were in a new spot and it seemed like there were new pictures.  I remember taking this one last spring.  March I think.  All the pansies in the pot were different.  Made me smile.  The page I'm working on doesn't look the same as it did yesterday.  I don't embrace change.  I kick and scream and hate it.

I have to close a checking account we've had for over 20 years.  My Social Security for January hasn't been deposited.  We have overpaid for Medicare but I don't see a refund being sent. I thought I was getting the flu yesterday and I spent the day on the couch in my pajamas; reading, sleeping and just staring into space.  I don't have the flu.  I get my haircut on Thursday.

I never made that "To Do List" I usually make for my winter break.  I don't have a list of things to do. I could make one--but I can't even think of things to list.  Things I would actually do.  I can list stuff I will not do.  Sometimes the negative is a good place to start.

I don't think I will scrub all the baseboard trim.
I don't think I will dust and polish all the bookcase shelves or the side tables.
I don't think I will wash all the windows or mirrors.
I don't think I will sand and repaint the trim in the living room.
I don't think I will hand scrub the bathroom floors.
I don't think I will empty and vacuum out the kitchen cabinets.
I don't think I will clean the oven.

Well, now that I have those things off the list.......

Monday, February 04, 2013

What February Should Look Like

Snow covered ground.  A nice, watercolor deer.  Cardinals fluttering around the garden looking for seeds and berries.  I LOVE the simplicity of this card.  A few strokes of wet paint and you have a deer or a tree or a bird.  Not too much.  Just enough.  So very hard to learn when one is practicing watercolor painting.  As I was supposed to be doing this winter but haven't even begun.  The card is from Unicef.

G is out walking Riley.  I waited at home for the replacement window to arrive and be installed.  Five minutes-tops.  The next appointment will be the annual furnace servicing and I don't think that is until Wednesday.

The few 50 degree days we had last week---- delightful in that the furnace hardly kicked in at all for about 48 hours, saving us a great deal of money.  I hope.  The bad news is that all the shrubs outside are being tortured with drying winds.  And very cold temps.  With no protective snow cover.  The Groundhog says an early spring.  I remember in the first 20 years of living here in Maine, early spring meant May. Late May. And even then we would hit solid ice if we tried to dig a deep hole.  Now an early spring is anyone's guess.  Wouldn't it be a great kick in the pants if Maine actually had four seasons?  Last year I spent my time at work--in April --- trying to hold gardeners back while they shopped in shorts and flip-flops..  Not yet, I kept saying.  And early June was horrible.  Wet, cold and the kiss of death to cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes put out too early.  An early spring?  Careful what you wish for.

To celebrate the Super Bowl yesterday, I mashed up two avocados with diced red onion, lime juice and a pretty snappy jalapeƱo.  I cut a few 100% corn tortillas into wedges and fried them to make about 18 chips.  I selected corn tortillas that had only one ingredient.  Corn.  No wheat flour.  If I have this again (and I might because the avocados are loaded with good fat) I will fry the wedges longer so they are very crispy.  I stopped too soon.  My new "diet plan" allows me to have a small amount of a few things that I haven't eaten (much or any of) in over 2 years.  Potatoes.  Corn.  Not the vegetable corn but the ground dry corn.  I am also allowed popcorn with lots of butter.  I bought some organic bulk popcorn but haven't made it yet.

I know my diet sounds ridiculous to most of you reading, but I try and make most of my food myself using whole foods with few, if any, additives.  I don't make dessert, cookies or muffins out of strange ingredients (like a chemistry experiment)  I had tried that and hated the taste of the food and usually felt hungry after.  My food is quite tasty, sugar and wheat free.  I finally stopped trying to add cereal into my diet (bran flakes and bran buds) and I feel so much better.  It took a LONG time to finally let those two things go.  I also don't make pancakes or GF waffles. I think it's best to just not eat these things.  Not make crappy substitutions.  To get chocolate into my diet (I miss it) I add cream and a few tablespoons of good chocolate powder to full fat ricotta (1/2 cup).  A little packet of Splenda and it fulfills my desire for something creamy, sweet and chocolatey.  Makes a lovely lunch or late breakfast.

I am going to the library today.  To return books and hopefully find something good to read.  I do have a fall back position that I am enjoying with wicked pleasure.  My time travel romances.  Lynn Kurland is the author.  Pippa is now safely married in 1241 to Montgomery and Tess (her sister) is about to meet Montgomery's twin, John.  A guy from 1241 in 2006.  I don't know which "travels" are the most amusing.  The ones going back in time or the ones going forward. Do you have a secret reading habit you won't admit to?

Friday, February 01, 2013

New Month, New Dish Pattern

The Polish Blue dishes exchanged places with the Franciscan Apple for the month of February.  I have always like buying dishes.  I bought three sets while we lived in Germany and managed to give away one.  This month we talked about what set to use.  The Petite Fleur (sticker dishes) have never actually been used.  Maybe next month.   While moving all the polka dotted Polish dishes--I was amazed at one: how heavy they are and two: how many I have.  Too many.  Some of these have never been used.

I bought these Apple dishes while waiting for a plane at the Orlando airport.  I love them.  My brother and his wife had them and I loved visiting so I could see them.  Had to have my own set.  My daughter would take these to her house in a heartbeat.  Whenever she sets my table--these are the dishes she uses.

We left the house today to do what have become "the usual errands".  We added Petco today as Riley needed a replacement collar.  He lost his training collar running in the woods a few days ago.  He "listens" better on the leash when wearing it.  Heavy metal links.  $25.

After Petco and Bed, Bath & Beyond (I got wood floor cleaner), we visited the library and then did the grocery shopping.  G always needs bagels, milk, juice and yogurt (didn't need cereal today).  I always need eggs, bacon and heavy cream.  I bought salad for both of us and all the supplies so G can make ham and cheese Panini sandwiches. I forgot I had wanted to go to the bank to check and see if my Social Security had been deposited.  No news on what has happened to the double payment of my Medicare B.  Will they send the extra three months back to me?

My computer is having operating issues and will probably stop working before I hit publish.  I have had to manually save what I have written and reboot.  G says it's not because of his iPhone and iPad being linked to my computer by the "cloud" but I think it is.  G "travels" around the internet, opening everything with no concern for the mess it makes for me.  I had double downloading the picture I took also.  Tried four times.  Got the rotating ball.  If the problem is the new camera, I will be reboxing it and returning it ASAP.  I had intended to figure out how to make the color more saturated in the programing part of the camera.  Personal preference.  There are blog authors who use a very vivid saturation of color in the camera itself.  I want to be one of those.

Dinner will be leftovers or sandwiches.  I am not cooking today.  I didn't sleep well last night because I forgot to take my allergy tab.  I got up at 3 am to take it and finally fell asleep--woke up at 8:48.  My eyes feel dry and burning.  I wish I was the sort of person who could nap. But I am not. Even as a baby, I wasn't a good sleeper.  And never napped.  No wonder my mother disliked me.  I didn't cry or fuss.  I just didn't sleep.  Perhaps I needed an allergy tab?