Wednesday, December 30, 2009

home soon

Tomorrow morning I leave England to return to Maryland. It's been a good visit here, with all the kids home for several weeks, as well as my son-in-law working at home most days. Good food, good company - a lovely Christmas.

I've done a lot of reading here. I read at home as well, but only in the evenings. Here, I have a great deal of free time, as the kids are old enough to have their own activities and don't need (or want) Grandma playing with them. Anyway, I read two novels by Mary Wesley, an author I haven't read before. She is an really old lady (still alive, I think), but writes books with more sex than one would expect from her generation. It makes me wonder what kind of a life she led. Must have been an exciting one or she has a really good imagination! I've also been re-reading the Gregor Demarkian mysteries written by Jane Haddam. Kate has all (almost) of them and I am enjoying them even more this time than I did the first time. I recommend both of these authors.

I'll not post again until I'm back in the US and recovered from jet lag which may take a day or two. I also will need to catch up on my snail mail and email. I read my email online from here, but I'm afraid that all the messages I deleted online will reappear in Outlook Express when I get home. So, I'll just say - see you next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

generation gap?

I've been learning some things from my grandchildren - things about electronic gadgets. Probably you already know these things, but I didn't. The last time i visited, Sarah put some of my friends into the address book on my phone. I had a little trouble using it to call them, but at least the numbers are there. This visit, I learned that my cell phone also can be used to create text messages. I don't expect to ever use this function, but I guess it's good to know that it's there and how to use it. (Actually, I'm not sure I do know how to use it, but I have a rough idea.) I've also learned several things about computers, such as how to increase the size of all the 'thumbnail' pictures when I am scrolling through my photos, trying to see which ones I want to put on the blog. Of course, I learned how to do this on Kate's computer, which runs Vista. My old computer runs XP and my new one, which I hope to buy in January will have Windows 7. Hopefully, it won't be too different than Vista.

Kate is very good with computers, Ipods and other electronic things and the kids are pretty good as well. However, today I've discovered I'm not the only member of this family who has some trouble with them. My son-in-law needed to send a text message to one of the people from his office. (they were both at home today). Olivia (age 10) took the phone and he dictated the message which she texted and sent! Guess I'm not the only one who needs to learn to use these gadgets!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas photos












The first photo is Kate and Sarah looking at something. Sarah got an Ipod, but I don't think that is it. Then Olivia is showing off her new socks. Next is the girls with their stockings. And, Alex with his stocking. Finally, Olivia with hers.
I know that all of these pictures are rather dark. Somehow the settings on my camera were changed. I certainly didn't intend to change them, but somehow........Anyway, I think I have put them back the way they belong, now. However, it seems as if every time I use the camera, something goes wrong. It is a fairly sophisticated digital camera and is obviously the wrong one for me. It does have a 'point and click' setting, but there are still too many ways in which other things can be changed. Perhaps one of these days I will take the instruction booklet and get it all figured out - or perhaps (more likely) I will just limp along as I have been.


Last night we were in London, looking at the decorations and lights and taking pictures, and of course the batteries wore out. And, when I put the spare ones in, the camera insisted that I needed to replace the batteries, despite my having just done that. So, Kate gave me some spare batteries she had, and the camera said again - REPLACE BATTERIES. At this point, I gave up and Kate took photos with her camera. As it turned out, her batteries were also bad. However, the weird thing is that when I got back to the house and tried my spare batteries once more, they worked! I really don't understand most of the electronic gadgets that I own.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The party last night went off very well. About a dozen kids tore around the house for almost 4 hours, high as kites! We had lots of nibbles - mostly finger food - and a great variety of wine and other drinks. The kids ended up in the living room with the door closed and upstairs in the girls' room. The adults crowded into the dining room and computer room (two rooms open to each other) where the food was. Lots of conversation and laughter. That made it a good party, as far as I'm concerned.

This AM, I was the first one up. I almost never sleep past 7:00 and that was true this morning. I was VERY QUIET getting dressed and sneaking out of the loft and downstairs. Kate also got up and for a brief time we were the only ones awake. Of course, as soon as Alex got up, the rest of the family were awakened. We all went downstairs to see what Father Christmas had put in the children's stockings. Funky socks, wild patterned underwear and some games and suchlike. After everyone was dressed and had eaten breakfast, we opened presents. That used to last all morning, but the kids are older now and we were finished by 10 AM. Since then we've been playing games and trying to read. Geoff has actually been on the computer checking his email from work! Some people just cannot leave the office at the office.

I did take some photos, but they are still in my camera. I'll get them posted in a day or so. My present from Kate and Geoff is a wonderful book of world wide crafts. I've just glanced through it, but I can tell that I will spend many hours poring over it. I also received a clever pair of earrings - little owls - a CD with kids from the elementary school playing and singing, and a school photo of Kate and Olivia and Alex in a lovely frame. So, I'll be going home with many good photos of my family as well as many happy memories.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

school pictures




Here are the school pictures. Aren't they great? Sarah doesn't like hers, but Kate and I think it's a lovely photo. Sarah has always had such a sweet smile. For once, Alex looks normal in a photo. Usually, he is making some kind of weird face because he doesn't know how to smile on command. Olivia, of course, has no problem with someone taking her picture. She has always turned on the charm when she sees a camera pointed her way. She will probably become a famous actress!
We did not go into town yesterday because Alex was not feeling well. He wasn't really sick (no throwing up), just complaining about his stomach. He lay around all day and hardly ate anything. Also, he hardly said anything. Since Alex is a motor-mouth, normally, we all knew that he was truly ill. Today, he is back to normal, talking a blue streak - impossible to turn him off. Kate took the girls to the cinema to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. Sarah had a friend who had stayed overnight, so she went as well. They came home on the train by themselves. I'm finding it hard to realize that Sarah and her friends are becoming so independent. I know it's a good thing that they feel confident with public transportation, but I guess I still think of Sarah as a child, not as almost a teenager. Goodness knows, she certainly acts like a teenager most of the time!
If the weather is decent next week, we will try again to go into London and look at the window displays and see the lights. Hopefully, no one else will be sick.
Kate is hosting the traditional neighborhood Christmas Eve party tonight. The originators of this party are currently living in India, but the neighborhood is still observing it. There will be scads of kids - probably outnumbering the adults - and it will break up fairly early because the parents want to get their kids home and into bed. I haven't had much chance to visit with Kate's friends, most of whom I know, so I'm really looking forward to tonight.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guess what this is!

I'll bet you don't know what this is. It was purchased in the supermarket and is supposedly edible. Give up? It's called a dragon fruit. It just looked so intriguing that Kate bought it. I think Olivia may have wanted it, actually. Anyway, we did cut in open and inside was white pulp with lots of little black seeds. I wouldn't say that it was edible, exactly. It tasted AWFUL! However, no one got sick from sampling it, so I guess it is edible. I find there are a number of things found in large supermarkets here that I have never seen before. The suburbs around London are full of immigrants from any place that was once part of the British Empire. That covers a fair portion of the world. In Maryland, we have exotic fruits and vegetables mostly from Central and South America and perhaps Vietnam and China, although most of those are found in the ethnic markets. Here there is a much more variety. I like wandering through the stores just to see what there is that I don't recognize.

What I really wanted to put up on this blog were the school photos of the grandchildren. Kate took photos of the photos and was going to put them somewhere on her computer where I could download (upload?) them onto my blog. However, I cannot find them, and she is at the Farmers' Market in Wimbledon this morning, so those photos will have to wait.

Today, we had planned to go into London to look at window displays, go to a museum, eat lunch, and stay until it's dark enough to see the Christmas lights on the streets in the shopping districts. However, Alex has been complaining of a tummy ache and he did have a slight fever yesterday, so I don't know if we are going or not. We'll have to see how he feels when Kate gets back with the produce and beef for Christmas dinner. I'm glad I'm no longer a mother of small children. I wouldn't want to be responsible for making decisions about when a kid is really sick and when he/she is not very sick. I'm sure that when my kids were small, I was competent to make those kind of decisions, but I worry a lot more now than I did then. Must be one of those 'getting old' things.

One of the good things about getting old is that one can blame all one's eccentricities on old age. Works for me! LOL

Sunday, December 20, 2009

snow!







Maryland has had a very large snow storm this weekend. I think we got over 2 foot! It's breaking all records for December. Actually, I've lived in Maryland for 36 years and we never had this kind of snow in December. Of course, I am not there to 'enjoy' it! My neighbors have posted photos to show me what I am missing. I will try to put some on this blog, but am not sure that I can.
With a lot of help from all three of my grandkids, I have managed to get these photos transferred onto the blog. The kids are so much more at home with computers and the Internet than I am! Even the 6 year old knows what to do. What you are seeing is the sidewalk leading to my front door and in the other photo, my car buried in the snow!

Friday, December 18, 2009

visit to V & A






















Here are just a few photos from the Victoria and Albert Museum. For more photos, please go to my flickr photos www.flickr.com/photos/kathydillard Look at the Victoria & Albert collection or just scroll down from the opening page. There are far more pictures than most people will want to see. There also are a few of the kids decorating the Christmas tree.












haircut, before and after




Kate uploaded my photos into a folder on her computer. Hopefully, I will be able to find them and put a few on here. Wish me luck!
These are not the world's most flattering photos. I have trouble smiling for a photo. However, you can see a big difference in my hair! LOL It's very short now. Will look better after it grows out a bit. I like short hair especially because my earrings will be seen.
We had snow flurries last night. There was some accumulation, but mostly it was melted by AM. A few more flurries today. The kids were disappointed - they were hoping for enough to close the schools. Some places got a lot. Still, even a dusting of snow makes it feel more like Christmas.
Tonight we are going to a friend's house for dinner. We'll eat fish and chips and go out and look at decorations. This has become somewhat of a tradition. The daughter, Amelia, was one of Sarah's first friends - from nursery school. They have been in separate schools ever since, until this year, but because Kate and Amelia's mum became friends, the connection is still there. We go to their house each year before Christmas because the folks on their street really go all out with outdoor decorations. Much more like what we see in the US. Not at all typical of England. I'm not sure if I can get photos of the decorations, but if so, I'll put them up on another post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

my favorite museum

Today, we had snow! This is a rare occurrence in the London area, so it was rather exciting. It was very cold outside too, so I decided not to go on a guided walk, but rather to visit my favorite museum - the Victoria and Albert. I'm sure I have talked about this place before. It has all sorts of decorative items - pottery, glass, ironwork, clothing, fabric, sculpture, furniture and on and on. The ceramics area has been closed for several years and finally reopened this fall, so I had to visit it. I saw many wonderful ceramic things and took lots of photos. However, Kate will have to help me upload them into Flickr so that I can put a few on the blog. I will try to get this done in the next few days. Anyway, I had a great time, despite the cold and snow.

Yesterday, I got my hair cut. It is, now, very short - shorter than Kate's. I like it this way, but it does take a bit of getting used to. My head feels rather light. I had Kate take a 'before' photo, but haven't gotten an 'after' photo yet. I will post those as soon as I can. At home I know how to move photos from my camera to the computer, but here I have to wait for Kate to help, as it is her computer. I wish I were more knowledgeable about computers. I can do most ordinary operations on mine, but I can't say that I really understand them. Heaven only knows what it will be like when I get my new computer - probably next month. I'll have to learn all that stuff again, including a new operating system. I imagine the new one will have Windows 7. I am not looking forward to the learning process, although it will be wonderful to have a computer that is fast.

Tomorrow is the Christmas play at school in which Alex is a camel. Can't wait to see and hear him. Geoff is working at home, so that he can go over and attend the play. I probably won't be able to use the computer at all tomorrow, unless we set up the laptop. Will post when I can.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas goodies

Yesterday was a very busy day - at least for Kate. It was Christmas baking time! We baked 8 kinds of cookies and 2 kinds of sweet breads (pumpkin and cranberry/orange). Kate did much of the actually mixing, although she had some 'help' from the younger members of the family. I mostly did dishes and cut out shape cookies. Sometime in the morning, Geoff and the kids cleaned out the gerbil 'cage' (It's a large fish tank with a cage on top.) and made it fresh for the new occupants. Then Kate and kids went to buy more gerbils. Photos of them can be found on her blog. Gerbils are fun to watch, especially when they first arrive. They go absolutely manic for about an hour, exploring their new environment and trying to climb out. Then they collapse for a nap. This group seems to get along very well, but we are having trouble remembering to refer to them as girls rather than guys.

After lunch, the baking continued, as did the snacking. I think Kate did get a chance to sit down with a drink for a bit before dinner. We had a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, gravy and cabbage. Cookies for dessert, of course.

Today, Kate is working all day at school, so I am home alone. I'll wrap presents and just putter around. The rest of the week will be busier. Tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut. (It's been long for a couple of years and I am ready for a short style again.) I love the way the English stylists do haircuts. They really take their time and I've always gotten really good cuts here. I think Kate and I are also doing some grocery shopping. We'll buy mince pies, just for me. No one else in the family likes them. Wednesday, if the weather is decent, I'm going into London and taking one of the walking tours. Thursday is a Christmas play at school. Alex is a camel - a speaking part. Some evening there is a Girl Guides thing that we are going to. A busy week, as I said.

Friday is the last day of school for Alex and Olivia. Sarah's school goes through next Tuesday and she is not happy about that! Otherwise, she loves school. More choice of classes and, I imagine, a whole different atmosphere. She has made several new friends and seems to be thriving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas decorating

This morning, Kate and I took the girls shopping. Their Christmas money was burning a hole in their pockets. Then this afternoon, we put up the tree and decorated it. Kate and I put it up and the kids decorated it. I don't think I know how to put photos up while I'm here, so just imagine a very nice tree loaded with decorations, many of them home-made.

Tomorrow, we will be baking Christmas cookies. Mmmmm. The house will smell so good!

A bit of sadness here, - the last gerbil died today. The other two had died in the fall, so we knew this one's time would probably come soon. They only live a couple of years. The good part of this is that now the kids can get three new gerbils. Perhaps this will even happen while I'm here. It was two years ago, when I was here that the first gerbils arrived. The kids weren't very upset about this last one dying. One doesn't get as attached to gerbils as to a dog or cat.

PS. Kate has photos on her blog that show the decorated tree.

Friday, December 11, 2009

in Merrie Olde England

Got here yesterday AM, pretty tired, but otherwise ok. Had an interesting trip in some ways. Kate says it's a great story! The shuttle van took me to the airport in plenty of time, but when I reached the counter to check in, there seemed to be a problem. A guy looked at my information and said to the woman at the next desk, 'Here's another one.' I had no idea what that meant! It turned out that the flight to Philadelphia, due in at 6:30 was delayed. (It was only 5 PM at this point.) They said we would miss our connecting flights if we waited (several other people were affected), but that they would send us by CAB to Philly so that we could make out international flights. And that is what they did! Three of us and a great deal of luggage were tucked into a taxi and off we went. Despite some traffic, we got to the Philadelphia airport at 7 PM, which was half an hour before we would have arrived by plane! Must have cost US airways a bundle to do that, but we didn't care, as long as we got there in time.

The flight to London wasn't very full, so I had two seats to myself. The food was the usual airline food (pretty bad), but the seats were comfortable and I managed to get a couple hour's nap. So all was well. However, I hope not to fly US airways again. They are now charging $50 for each bag after the first one, checked through. This is new and I'm sure it wasn't on the website when I bought my ticket, but they claim it's been in effect since August. Luckily, I discovered this before I packed, so I cut down on the clothes I was bringing (can't leave out the presents) and got it all into one very large suitcase, just under the 50 pounds maximum weight, and two carry-ons. Did you know that you can have 40 pounds of whatever in your carry-on? I figure that the only way one could pack 40 pounds of stuff into the rather limited size restrictions on carry-ons would be to fill it with bricks! Going home, I should have much less stuff.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

SNOW!!






For once, the weather predictions were correct. It started snowing about noon and is still coming down. It's a very wet snow, turning to slush on the sidewalk and streets. I hear it's supposed to be in the 20s tonight, so perhaps this snow will stick around for a few days. It looks very pretty, sticking to all the bushes and trees. I couldn't resist taking a few quick pictures. Here's the little evergreen in its Christmas splendor with a dusting of snow. The red balls on the other tree have snow caps on top. The view from the back deck shows a snow-covered evergreen and all the bare branches, now snow-covered of the trees along the banks of the stream.

I need to go out today, as I have run out of Christmas cards. I thought I had enough, but I was wrong. I want to get the cards done, so that I can mail them Monday. I have been printing up copies of my Christmas letter this morning. Three pages of text and one of pictures taken in Scotland during the summer holiday trip.

snow or no snow

I thought I might wake up this morning to see white stuff on the ground. Snow was predicted for today. So far, however, all we've had is a gentle rain. It's not cold enough for snow. I don't know what will happen later, but I'm staying inside mostly today to get my Christmas cards ready to mail, so it really doesn't matter to me.

Yesterday, I had a bit of a 'scare' with my car. I was running around doing errands when I noticed the temperature wasn't sitting in the middle of the gauge, but was rapidly rising! I pulled over into a filling station and opened up the hood. The oil was a bit low and the coolant level was WAY down. So I added oil and coolant and started to drive off again. The temp started rising again, so I decided to head over to the place where I get my car serviced. The owner said he couldn't take the car in that day, but he did have a mechanic look at it. They couldn't find anything wrong, but as far as they could tell, it was the low coolant level causing the problem. I had been having problems with the heater also, and he said that was the first sign of low coolant. I didn't know that, but now I do. (The heater works just fine now, after I added coolant.) They did tighten up some connections, but didn't find any leaks. He told me to watch it carefully for a while and not take any long trips. The worrisome part is that the system is a closed system, so it should never get low on coolant. They replaced the water pump within the past year, so the problem isn't there. Anyway, the car is running fine now, but I will have to remember to check coolant levels regularly. They didn't charge me anything for checking, which I really appreciated. I'm would have really been in trouble if I couldn't drive my car in the next few days. As I've said before, public transportation just doesn't go where I need to go every week.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

outdoor decorations








This morning, I took some photos of my outdoor decorations. I turned the lights on, but they don't show up in daylight. Notice the fake poinsettias? I buy them at dollar stores and just stick them in the ground and in pots. (I think I need a few more! LOL) They freeze into the ground and stay up until spring thaw! I have a few more photos of my inside decorations, as well. Probably won't get them all up on this posting, but eventually I'll show them.

Yesterday, I did get packages mailed to my son and daughter-in-law. I was careful NOT to insure them or do anything that requires them to pick the items up at the post office. The Scottsdale post office is always crowded and the lines are long! Steve and Christine avoid the place if possible and having experienced it myself, I don't blame them. Much better to just let the mail carrier leave the packages on the doorstep. It's not as if there is anything very valuable in them. I send a few little token items, but the rest is a check that will go in the Christmas card. Speaking of cards: I have not yet mailed mine out. Hopefully, will have it done by this weekend. My list of 'things to do in the next week' is getting shorter, but not by much, as I keep adding items! A week from today is the ultimate deadline.

Monday, November 30, 2009

what's with this weather?

We had a glorious weekend. Sunday was even nicer than Saturday, with sunshine during the middle of the day and temperatures in the 60s. Shirt sleeve weather! I put up lights and other outdoor decorations. Almost done now, but I didn't get any more done today, as it has been wet and chilly. This is more appropriate weather for late November in Maryland, but I liked the weekend weather better. No photos to show what I accomplished yesterday, because I'm like a cat and don't go out in the rain unless I absolutely have to! Truthfully, I wasn't home much between my aerobics class in the AM and ceramics class in the PM. I plan to finish the yard decorations as soon as the weather cooperates (maybe tomorrow?) and will show pictures then. I may take pictures of my friend Patty's decorations too. She really goes all out for Christmas.

Meanwhile, I need to finish decorating inside with some swags and poinsettias (fake) on top of the kitchen cabinets. At the moment, I have piles of different colored poinsettias on my living room floor. I will put some in the pots on the front steps and others along the edge of the flower bed. They are going to look a little odd with the stupid iris which is still blooming, but I'm not going to keep them in the living room until the iris finishes blooming. It's not my idea for the dumb plant to bloom this late in the year!

I have 'to do' lists spread across the dining table. Hopefully, I will get all the items done in a timely manner. I have managed to cross off a few but there are still many more to accomplish. Tomorrow, I need to mail presents to Steve and Christine and maybe even get some Christmas cards in the mail. I composed the first draft of the annual Christmas letter last night. I haven't looked at it today, but when I do, there will no doubt be changes. I'm finding it's hard to remember important events throughout the year. I had to check my calendar to see what I have been doing all year. Maybe I should go back and read my blogs! If all my friends and family were into blogging, then I could be like Kate and just post my Christmas letter online. However, many of my friends do not even use email - horrors! I would stay more in touch with them, if they did. Anyway, I will still send cards and a Christmas letter out this year. If you are a blogging friend, you may not get a card, as I may not have your address. You'll just have to imagine a nice card. Or maybe I'll take a Christmas photo and post it! Wait and see.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and beyond

Here are the two baker's racks I have in my front
windows. As you can see, I display only RED glass out at Christmas. It looks great in the AM with the sun shining through. There are various ornaments hanging on the racks as well. Oh yes, and a few plants!

I didn't write a post on Thandsgiving Day. It was the usual - the turkey was stuffed in the AM (but not by me) and the rest of us were stuffed after dinner! We were so full that we postponed dessert until the next day! You will understand how difficult this was when I tell you that we had 2 pumpkin and 2 apple pies. What we did was trade slices to take home, so that each of the three of us would have a taste all four pies. I've eaten three slices so far and all were delicious!

So much for Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I started taking down the fall decorations and putting up the Christmas ones. Yes, it's rather early, but I'll only be here for about 10 more days to enjoy my decorations. When I get to England, I will be in time to help Kate decorate her house, which will be fun. Anyway, I have taken down all the fall stuff and put up most of the indoor Christmas stuff. I hauled four large boxes up from the basement for the fall things. They were VERY HEAVY when I carried them back downstairs. (Today, my back is telling me that I wasn't careful enough with the lifting!) On each return trip, I brought up a box of Christmas stuff. I'm not doing a tree this year, but I still had to bring up 7 boxes and a couple bags of decorations. The lights are still in a box in the basement. I'll only use a few lights outside this year and probably none inside. I hope to finish today, if the wind dies down and it warms up a bit. The sun is shinning, so I have hopes for a nice day to put up outdoor things. I'm afraid I have to go to Walmart or Michael's to get new hangers for the outside lights. Bummer! I was hoping to avoid all stores this weekend.

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The sun was shining in the window over the door and caused a reflection on the left side of one photo. The glare covers up Father Christmas' head. The other photo shows a Christmas lighthouse I bought at a yard sale a while back. I think I need to put a red cloth napkin on the table for a more Christmassy look. I forgot to take a photo of Eve (the bust by the door). She is wearing a Santa hat now. She changes hats with the seasons.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's new

New fridge - plain and decorated!

My new refrigerator arrived yesterday at 9 AM. I was ready for it, having put all the food into coolers. No problems with getting the old one out and the new one in. It fits into the space with a couple of inches to spare. It really is larger than my old one, which is nice. However, the real improvement is that the shelves in the door are adjustable. I have much more convenient storage for all those bottles of salad dressing, condiments and sauces. The only thing I don't like is that the cheese/meat drawer is on the door hinge side. Because the door opens against the wall, I cannot move the door far enough back to remove that drawer. I can reach everything in the drawer, but cannot actually take it out. Can't get that shelf out either, I think. This may be inconvenient, but of course, I can pull the fridge out from its space if I have to remove the shelf. I think I can get used to the configuration. Inside it looks really empty. I wish the freezer were bigger and the fridge part smaller, but this one had the biggest freezer space of any that would fit. I do like it MUCH better than what I had.

I am posting photos of the new refrigerator - before and after I put the magnets back on. Also photos of my powder room - finally finished - including some of my masks on the walls. I think it's cool that the snakes on the Medusa mask are the same color as the wall. It wasn't planned, but there it is.

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After I reloaded the fridge, I had to vacuum the floors to get up bits of grass and such. (I had been waiting to clean until after the delivery.) Then I decided to mop the kitchen floor. It really needed it. That involved moving chairs out, and some scrubbing on hands and knees. By the time I finished all that I was tired, so pie making was postponed until today. Still, I feel I accomplished a good deal.

Jill (the visiting cat) arrived mid-morning. I don't have a photo of Jill - she's rather camera shy - but just think BLACK all over. She settled into the upstairs guest room, hiding under the bed. In the evening, I managed to get her out to give her the evening pill. She was pretty good about that - didn't scratch or bite. My cats were never that polite. They hated pills and would spit them back out. They also put up quite a struggle. This cat, by comparison, is a joy to medicate! I figured I would not see Jill until this morning when I have to give her another pill. However, she came creeping downstairs about 9 PM. She carefully explored the entire living room, but never got as far as the dining room/kitchen. She checked under the couch, under a chair and hopped up on another chair - 'though not the one I was sitting on. Finally she went back upstairs. The next time I heard from her was at 4 AM, when I happened to be awake and heard odd noises in the hall outside my bedroom. Looking at the crack under my door, I saw a shadow moving along and realized that she was pushing on the door, trying to open it. At her home, Jill sleeps with Lynne and I guess she wanted to sleep with me. Sorry, Jill. I have not slept with any of my pets since I was a teenager. At that time, I had a Boston Terrier who slept on my bed. One night I dreamed that a boy was French kissing me. It was a nice dream, but I awoke to find the dog licking my mouth!! Yuck! That was the last time I let a pet into my bed!





































Tuesday, November 24, 2009

early to bed and EARLY to rise?

I am a morning person. I usually wake up around 6:30 and often get up then. This morning, however, was ridiculous! I woke up at 3:30 with my mind buzzing so much that I knew I was WIDE AWAKE. I really don't want to be awake at that hour, but sleep wasn't going to happen, so I got up. (I had fallen asleep last night in my recliner, so I had actually got about 5 hours of sleep.) Since then, I've put the trash out, read most of the paper and about to empty the refrigerator and pack all the food into coolers. The new fridge is supposedly coming between 8:15 and 10:15 this morning. I think I need to shove some furniture around in the living room, to give the guys plenty of room to get in and out. I just hope they deliver the right fridge and that it fits into the space.

In addition to that delivery, I am also receiving a 'temporary cat' a bit later this AM. My friend Lynne is going away for Thanksgiving and cannot take her cat with her. So, Jill is coming to stay at my house. Jill used to be a friendly cat, but she's had some traumatic experiences in recent years, so she is rather shy now. I have to give her pills two times a day, which makes me very nervous, but hopefully, it will go smoothly. She is used to taking the pills and evidently is not like the cats I used to have. They always spit the pills back out and one of them would claw me if he got a chance while I was trying to get that pill down his throat. I would wear heavy jeans, a coat and gloves when medicating him!! I have hopes that all will go smoothly with Jill. She will sleep in the guest room, use the guest bathroom and eat in the upstairs hall, so if she hates me, she won't have to see me at all, except when I give her the pills. I hope, however, that she will let me brush her and play with her. We'll see. She will be staying until sometime on Friday. No doubt we'll both survive.

Today, I plan to bake pies for Thanksgiving. The house will smell wonderful, full of pumpkin, apples and spice. Mmmm. I doubt if I'll be able to resist sampling.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas is coming











Today I visited 4 Christmas sales at various places - American Legion, local school, downtown church, and senior center. All of them were full of hand-crafted ornaments, jewelry and wreaths. There were other items too. Several vendors were selling Pampered Chief or Tupperware items. And I always look for tables filled with 'yard sale' items. I get some great stuff that way, as those of you who read my blog already know. Anyway, this was a great day for bargains. The photos show most of the items I bought. Some of them are Christmas presents for the grandchildren and others who probably don't read my blog. There were a couple of items I can't show, as the intended recipients might figure out what was for them. It was a fun morning and I greatly reduced my Christmas buying list. The pot, which was made on the wheel and hand decorated was only $5! It's for me - just the sort of thing I love to display in the fall. The decorative wall hanging was also a bargain. It isn't hand painted, but it almost looks like it is. At the top in both group photos is a long metal string of birds, bird houses and trees. It's meant to be stuck in the yard. I'm sure I'll find a place for it out front. It was only $2! The Christmas penguin is for Alex, who really liked penguins a few years ago. I hope he still likes them. And, yes, there is another bird house. This one is a winter one with snow and a cardinal in the doorway. It will have to stay inside the house, rather than hang outside. It's too small for a real bird to nest in anyway. The yellow cheese with a mouse on it is a doorstop. Isn't it cute? As you can see, I got a lot of stuff.

I guess I will have to cut my grass this weekend. I was hoping not to do that again this fall, but now my neighbors on each side have mowed theirs, thereby making mine look pretty raggedly. I prefer to let it go into winter rather long, but now I hear that the experts recommend cutting grass to its regular length. I'm sure they used to say leave it long for winter, but maybe I just think that because I hate cutting it. If I had my 'druthers' (as my grandmother would say), I'd not have any grass at all - just flower beds and mulch. Unfortunately, the homeowners association would have a fit. They don't care that grass and all the weed killers and fertilizers that are used on it (though not by me) are bad for the environment. The important thing is a neatly mowed, green lawn because it keeps the values of the homes up. Unfortunately, the HAC is in charge, so I am dragged along, protesting as I mow. Some of us are working to change these rules, but I doubt it will happen while I live here. I wonder if I could put in artificial turf........
















Thursday, November 19, 2009

odds and ends

Yesterday, I went back to the aerobics class. I can keep up with the instructor, but I get my right and left feet mixed up, so I'm not always in step. However, the exercise is good as long as I keep moving. I just stayed for the first 30 minutes - the aerobic part - as I work in the church library on Wed. AMs. As it turned out, I might as well have stayed for the whole class. The Wed. AM group consists of 6 or 7 workers. Usually there are about 5 of us there any given Wed. However, I was the only one there to work yesterday. Ann showed up briefly, but couldn't stay. We had a nice chat. Neither of the other two librarians (yes, three of us have library degrees) came. I puttered around a bit, checking returned books in; reorganizing the 'holiday' book section. No computer work, which is what I usually do, is possible until we get our new machine and new software. It'll be next year before that happens, I'm afraid. Anyway, after an hour, I left. I'm fairly sure we won't meet next week - the day before Thanksgiving - no way!! Guess I'll try again in December and see who shows up.

Since I had the rest of the day free, I decided to try once more to fix the uneven painted edges between floor molding and wall in the powder room. This time I used painter's tape to cover the wall and repainted the upper edge of the molding. It worked, more or less. I did a bit more touch-up with a tiny brush and decided it was 'good enough'. If one gets down on the floor, the mistakes are obvious, but why would anyone get down on the floor in the powder room? (I do that, but only when I'm cleaning). I still need to do some touch ups on the ceiling where I got the wall paint (green) on the white, but that should be a simple process. (Hopefully, those are not 'famous last words'.) I've been thinking about what to hang on the walls for decoration. God forbid that I should leave any walls of my house just bare! I think I may put some of my ceramic masks in there. I've run out of room for any more masks in the living room. I really need to sell/give away some of them, since I keep on making them.

I can't think of much else that I did yesterday, although the afternoon went by rapidly. Oh yes, I finally got the pictures in the upstairs hall arranged in a way that pleases me. Only put a few more holes in the walls!! LOL My first husband used to say that by the time we moved from our first house, the plaster board would look like pegboard! He wasn't right about many things, but he was fairly accurate about that. I learned years ago how to use spackling compound.

Andy (my second husband) called and we talked for almost an hour - 'on his dime'. (That's another outdated saying, leftover from the days when public phone calls cost a dime. How times have changed!) Andy's birthday is on Thanksgiving this year. He's younger than I, but I think he will quality for Medicare and Social Security now. I know he is looking forward to that. If it weren't for those government programs, what would we have to look forward to as we grow old? LOL

Today is my daughter Kate's birthday. I won't say how old she is, although she is still young enough to not worry about age. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweetie. Love, Mom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

spending spree

I did my bit for the economic recovery, yesterday. I bought a new refrigerator. It's not being delivered until next week, because I am too busy to stay home all day to wait for it this week. (It's funny how I seem busier now that I'm retired than when I was gainfully employed.) Of course, since I was in Columbia Mall (where the Sears store is) I couldn't resist doing a little personal shopping. I've been really good lately and have stayed out of clothing stores, but Macy's was having a sale and I gave in to temptation. I rarely bother with Macy's sales because it is so hard to ascertain how much something will cost and if the coupon for $10 off will actually apply to what I want. The coupon clipped from the paper had at least 50 exceptions where it would not apply. The print is so small that I can not read it, so I have no way of knowing when I pick out a garment if I'll get to use the coupon or not. Anyway, I have been looking for a new winter jacket for several years now. I hate the kind that have the zippers going all the way up the neck because they hurt my neck. I wanted one with a soft collar and buttons. I did find one really stylish coat that was reversible, but the sizing was weird. I needed an 2x in order to get a fit across the shoulders. Since I normally wear a large in coats, the 2x looked like a tent on me. So, no sale. Finally, I found a dark gray coat with a fur collar and a zipper that did not go all the way up. AND it was on sale marked down from $129 to $55. What could be better than that? Unfortunately, the computer did not have the markdown so the sales person charged me full price. My coupon would not work, but she borrowed another customer's coupon and gave me a 20% discount. Still, I was sure the coat had been on sale, so I went back and checked on the rack. I was right! Then I had to find a free salesperson, who in turn had to find a manager to deal with the situation. Everyone was very nice and eventually the manager refunded me the difference and I came home with my bargain coat. It is down filled and very warm. Now that I have it, we will probably have a warm winter!! On my way out of the store, I made the mistake of looking at the costume jewelry, also on sale. I just hope I will actually wear the lovely brown and gold necklace and earrings I bought. Since retirement, I mostly wear very casual clothes, but sometimes I do wear earrings every day. Maybe I'll find opportunities to wear the necklace as well.

I have to head out now for aerobics. I am rather sore from Monday's class, but still game to continue. I know it will get better as my unused muscles get accustomed to being stretched.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indian Summer


Yesterday was such a lovely day! In fact, we're having a batch of really nice fall weather. When I was a child in western NY, we used to call a warm spell in November, after we had experienced several frosts, "Indian Summer". I have no idea where the name originated, but when it happens, it is great! I worked on front yard clean-up on Sunday. While I was out there, I discovered a crazy iris - in bloom! I have had this re-blooming iris for several years, but previously, it produced its second blooms in September or early October. I don't know what happened this year, but it's finally opened up in mid-November! Looks a little lonely out there with most everything else (except mums) gone to seed or cut back. Still, a touch of spring-time yellow in the fall is welcome.

I started the aerobics class yesterday. This class is held in the senior center and is supposedly geared to older people. That may be, but I found the half hour of aerobic exercise to be a very good workout! (That's another way of saying that I was puffing and panting throughout.) The rest of the class was cool downs and stretches. I did much better at that part. I'm not as flexible as I used to be, but I managed the crunches and leg lifts. I have a sore knee today, but so far no other aches from the class. I think I will like this class, although it means that I have no free mornings any more. We retired folks lead such busy lives!

Today, I am going shopping for a refrigerator and/or a computer. I feel much more competent buying the fridge than the computer. My fridge is still functional, but it makes a dreadful clunking noise when it goes on and off. My brother suggested that I should worry about it quitting while I am in England. I would then come home to spoiled food, a dreadful stink, and the necessity of buying a new fridge ASAP. So, I will try to get one before my next trip - maybe I'll buy one today. The computer is also pretty high on my want list, but I am less sure about what I should buy. Confusion reigns when it comes to computers. I wish I had a fairy godmother who would tell me what to buy and get it set up for me. Since such a person doesn't exist, I will just muddle along with a bit of help from my friends and family.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

African mud dyeing


Yesterday, was my class in African mud dyeing. It should have been called African mud cloth painting. We did not dye the fabric - the instructor had already done that. She explained about natural dyes from leaves, fruit, or tea. It's the tannin that sets the color. This woman has collected dirt from all across the US and beyond. It's amazing what colors are available - browns and blacks of course, but also red, orange, green and yellow. What was really amazing was the paintings she has done using mud! She is a wonderful artist and her work was just beautiful, especially when you realize that she uses a stick, rather than a brush. We each selected a cloth that already was already dyed with a background color. She gave each of us information and pictures of African symbols, but we were free to draw whatever we wanted on our cloths. The process is a bit slow. It's not easy to draw with a stick (these were chopsticks) that has been sharpened on one end. Some of the mud was very gritty and didn't go on much like paint. We painted our designs, dried them with a hair dryer, rinsed the excess mud off, then put them into a setting bath - the same as used for dyeing the fabric initially. Took them out and pressed them dry. Then repeat the whole process two more times! I am not good at drawing, especially with a stick. Even my straight lines, made using a straight edge, weren't nice and even like some people's. The woman next to me was a real artist and her cloth was fabulous! I wish I had taken my camera and gotten some photos. My cloth looks primitive, which is the effect I wanted. I have no idea what I will do with it. Right now, it's hanging on the china cabinet in the dining room. This will not be a permanent place for it, however. I think it needs to be backed or framed eventually. Anyway, I enjoyed the class, but am unlikely to start collecting dirt in order to pursue this particular art form.

Friday, November 13, 2009

family visit

I spent a couple of days visiting family and friends in Virginia. My brother Jack and his wife Kit, live in Harrisonburg, VA. My brother Tom and his wife Peggy live in NY State. They were driving down to Florida for the winter, so they stopped at Jack's and I drove over to be with all of them. Usually, when I go over there, I go north on I-70 and then southwest on a local highway (340) to Front Royal. Only then do I use an interstate that has lots of truck traffic. However, I got a late start on Tuesday, so I drove down to the DC beltway, went part way around and picked up I-66 to go west. I haven't used this route in several years, and I soon remembered why. Traffic is awful! At least in mid-day, it moves fast with no backups. (At rush hour, it is gridlock.) I don't enjoy driving in heavy traffic, with big trucks, at 70 mph, but it certainly was a quick trip. Anyway, despite the traffic and the drizzle that kept the windshield wipers going on and off, I arrived safely. The visit was a pleasant one. We pretty much avoided politics (my brothers are conservatives) and talked of other things. Played several silly card games - the kind where winning or losing is pretty much luck and nobody cares who wins - and watched The Weather Channel to see what driving would be like going south toward Florida. Hopefully, Tom and Peggy will arrive safely today.

On my way home, yesterday, I stopped in to visit long-time friends who live near Front Royal. I went out to lunch with them and a group of their friends. We had a good meal in an old hotel that has been recently renovated. A beautiful place with wonderful chandeliers and marble floors. I had a chance to chat with my friends briefly before and after lunch, then left to head home. I used the scenic route, which is about half an hour longer, but has little traffic. I was lucky and hit no rain at all on the drive. Only had the last hour to drive in the dark. Despite an easy trip, I was too tired to go to choir a half hour after I got home. It was good to sleep in my own bed last night. I find that it's always hard to sleep in other beds. When I visit Kate and family, I stay long enough to get used to the bed, but that doesn't work on short trips. The pull-out bed at Jack's is very comfortable, actually, but I still woke up earlier than I wanted to. My brothers are early risers and so am I, but I usually don't get up at 6 AM!

Today, I will eat lunch out again, with my usual group of Friday lunch friends. After all the eating out and the big dinners I've eaten the past few days, I probably gained a couple of pounds. (I don't think I will get on the scales. I'd rather NOT know!) It's a good thing I am starting that aerobics class next week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

fall work

Good grief! I just spent the past 10 minutes trying to log in to Google and access this blog. I even reset my password and I still couldn't get in. I'm sure there was something wrong with the system. No way could I have consistently put the wrong password in. Anyway, the stupid thing finally worked, so here I am. I could not live without my computer, but I sure do hate it when things go weird. I am in the process of buying a new computer (i.e., I am thinking about it and looking at machines) and in preparation for that, I have been copying various documents and addresses onto a flash drive in order to have them to put on my new computer. Last night, Kate helped me copy the urls that I have bookmarked and put them in a document on my hard drive. I then emailed this document to myself and also to Kate, so that it would be available to load onto the new machine. I think that was the last stuff that I needed to copy. Now all I have to to do is decided what to buy, take a deep breath and buy it! Not this week, however, as I'll be out of town for a few days. Maybe next week.......

This week got a bit busy toward the end of the week. It was fun stuff, but I find that when I add too much to my regular routine I begin to feel pressured and a bit off-kilter. I guess I'm a creature of habit these days. Friday night, I went to an art exhibit at Montpelier. This was a juried exhibit of 'paper' art. Obviously, that allows a variety of pieces to be hung. My friend, Lynne had entered a piece, so several of us went to see it. There was a very interesting variety of items, from a paper lamp which actually lit up, to long narrow streamers of paper with words on them. My favorite was a framed piece made up of paper tiles, each a different color with a simple line drawing done in some kind of thick paint (or glue). This piece was very straight forward, but each tile was unique. I think I particularly liked it because it looked like ceramics. I can imagine doing something like that, using clay tiles.

Saturday, I explored a different medium. I went to a class in 'collage'. It turned out to be not too different from what I did when I made the art quilts for the swap this past summer. Basically, I glued fabric and paper to a board (no stitching involved). I used acrylics to paint a background, although I could have used paper for that, as well. Then I glued on some little buttons shaped like leaves and one that is a dragon fly. (If I had been making a quilt, of course, I would have sewn those on.) The picture is of a bare tree branch with a few leaves falling, many leaves on the ground and a cat looking at the dragonfly. I plan to add a squirrel on the branch. The piece needs a bit of tweaking and matting and framing, so I won't show a photo of it yet. I'm thinking of making a fabric mat and frame, rather than paying someone to frame it. It was fun to make this piece of art, but I probably won't go to another class. I understand the process better now and can play around on my own.


When I thought of doing more collages, I realized that I didn't have a good place to work at home (the dining table has been my only working surface). So, yesterday afternoon, I decided to rearrange the spare bedroom. It has always been my sewing room, but now I wanted to make it a craft room as well. First, I moved the dresser out into the hall (I have a large square hall at the top of the stairs). This will actually be more convenient for me, as the dresser is full of my clothes! (Yeah I know, I have too many clothes). Then I rearranged the desk and table in the room so that there is more space for projects. Now, I can use the table for either cutting fabric or working on paper projects. Of course, when I moved furniture around, I then had to move the many pictures (mostly family) and mirrors that were on the furniture or on the walls. I'm still tinkering with picture arrangements.

The other thing I accomplished over the weekend was to do some more trimming and bagging stuff in the back yard. I have another bag filled and a good start on a third. We've now had a killing frost, so I have even more things to cut off. There is a lot of work involved in getting flower beds ready for winter. I probably should mulch, but the plants grow so close together that it's hard to fit any mulch in. The hardest part physically will be when I move the pots off the deck. I put the potted perennials that I hope to 'winter over' down under the deck, up against the house. This protects them somewhat from the cold. Seems to work pretty well. The ones that are too heavy for me to carry down the stairs, I leave on the deck, but put up against the house, so they will be sheltered. All the empty pots that held annuals also go down below, because I like to clear the deck off for the winter. All that is a lot of work and will leave me with a sore back. Maybe I'll get to it next weekend......or maybe the week after that. Luckily, fall lasts a long time, so perhaps I will actually get all this done before winter sets in.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

taming the jungle

This year will be known as "The Summer the Vines Grew". Yesterday, I finally got the vines off the tree and bushes in my back yard. Here's how it came about.

At noon, after ceramics, I walked around Lake Elkhorn before I went home. It was sunny and cool. A lovely day for a walk. I saw 13 turtles, one heron and a cormorant! I thought they only lived in the tropics, but there he was, standing on the end of a log. Made my day. I felt very energetic when I got home so I
decided to tackle the back yard.

I have already blogged about the gourd vine that grew and grew and came up my steps and also went over the fence. Also in the back yard, there was a bit of Virginia Creeper (5-leafed ivy) wandering around on the tree top. The morning glories that did so poorly a year ago, took off this year. They sprouted and grew everywhere! They joined the gourd vine in climbing up the steps, but not content with that, they also climbed to the top of the fence and attached themselves to any plant or bush they could reach. I do not have all of them pulled down, but have made a start. They are fairly easy to pull off, although they do twist around everything.

The worst vine when it comes to getting it down, is the wild grapevine. It is rooted between my fence and the neighbors', so it is impossible to dig it up. This spring, I neglected to cut it off at the base, as I have done previously. Big mistake! That darn vine went up and throughout the forsythia, the beauty bush, and up to the top of the evergreen (about 15 feet tall)! I now understand how Tarzan could use grape vines to swing from tree to tree. It easily held my weight. That darn vine was almost impossible to get off the tree. The lower parts of the vine are as big around as my little finger. I basically, grabbed a piece of vine and pulled and pulled and pulled until it came down! Then chose another piece and repeated the pulling. I actually could let the vine lift me off my feat. On the forsythia and beauty bush I had to cut most of it off, but on the evergreen, I just yanked on it until it came down. (Yesterday evening, my shoulders were really sore - still are today.)

I filled one yard bag with the vines and some forsythia branches, but have enough clippings to fill another. I also pulled up some wild flowers that are too aggressive for my small space - mostly golden rod. Once I get the clippings bagged, the back yard will look much better. I need to trim the beauty bush and the forsythia, but that will have to wait. The beauty bush has lovely purple berries on it now, so I will wait until winter to cut it back. I will cut the forsythia down to the ground in the spring, after it blooms. I've done this before and it comes back to full size within one season. I think it is impossible to kill forsythia. It should never be planted in a small yard!

I am changing my schedule starting mid-month. I have decided not to continue yoga, but instead to sign up for an aerobics class that meets AMs Mon, Wed, and Fri. This will require me to get out of the house around 8:30, rather than sitting at home, leisurely reading the paper and sipping my tea. I'll miss those slow mornings, but I think it will be good for me to get out and exercise. The class is geared for seniors, and is subsidized, so it's affordable. Also, I think it may be easier than the aerobics I used to do when I was much younger. I'm looking forward to this class.

Monday, November 2, 2009

ceramics







Photos of my pieces from the Raku firing. I particularly like the mask with the horns. He's a really cool beast. The vase came out looking good too. It's a piece that where I carved the design after it was 'leather hard'. I was working on that piece when the photographer for the local paper took my picture a few weeks ago. I wanted it to look primitive and old. I think it was successful. The green mask is a Green Man - one of those mythical forest creatures. If you click on the photos to enlarge it, you can perhaps see that his hair and beard are made of leaves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween

Lots of trick or treaters came by last night, despite a soft drizzlying rain. The adults had umbrellas, I noticed. Many costumes, especially those of the little kids, were the homemade kind. I love it when kids and parents get creative. I ran out of candy around 8 PM. There are many, many kids in our town house development, so Halloween is a big deal here. This year, I noticed more older kids than usual. I think it's just a natural progression. Many have lived here for years and despite now being in high school, will dress up and come out. This year, I didn't see any who weren't in costume.

I spent most of the day at the craft center, doing Raku firing and eating! Whenever we do a firing, we have an all-day pot luck. I ate lunch and dinner there. One of the gals cooked spare ribs and steak - yum! I took deviled eggs that everybody seemed to like. None left to bring back home. I have four masks and a pot/vase that fired successfully. No photos to post yet. Next blog will have them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

fall is leaf color and Halloween







Here are some photos of the view from my deck. The trees around here are just past their peak and are losing their leaves. Still nice to look at.

Patty opened her house for a pumpkin carving party last night. Brave soul that she is! I would hesitate to have 8 kids come into my house and mess around with pumpkins and knives. Actually the kids didn't use the sharp knives. They used plastic carvers, mostly. We grownups did a lot of the cutting for them. I'd forgotten how thick pumpkins are and how messy! The designs the kids made were very clever and original. Somewhat hard to cut out, however.
Patty had made a lot of finger food with silly Halloween labels - eyeballs (mozzarella cheese), fried eyeballs (chicken nuggets), etc. Kids and adults snacked all evening. The daddies popped in and left, but the moms and grandma stayed to help. It was quite fun. I understand she has bobbing for apples planned for sometime today. I supplied the apples, but don't expect to be around for the bobbing, as I will be all day at Montpelier participating in a Raku firing. I should have some photos of my stuff to show in a future blog. I expect to be home in time for the trick and treaters.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN.




Thursday, October 29, 2009

wood firing results


Last night, I drove back over to Gary's for the unloading of the wood-fired kiln. It was very exciting to see each piece as it was unloaded. There were some lovely pieces - nicer that just what c0mes out of a regular gas kiln firing. We had added little dishes of salt, which produces interesting effects. And the smoke from the wood also reacts with the glazes. I put in a mask, which came out a nice brown. Next time, I will use more than one color of glaze. I had put in two other pieces, but I made a mistake there. They were made from low-fire clay and this was a very high firing. The clay melted! It was weird. Luckily, they did not damage anyone else's pieces. I did know better than to do that, but forgot that those were low-fire pieces. You can bet I won't forget that again. The pieces weren't anything I cared about, but I would have like to see what the glazes looked like.


Parking at Gary's is rather difficult. I ended up trying to back out along the road, which has a creek on one side and a hill on the other. No fences or guard rails, of course. And no lights either. I could hardly see the driveway and was trying very hard not to end up in the creek!! One of the guys finally came out and guided me, so that I could turn the car around. I really wasn't eager to back all the way out.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a VERY busy week!

I finally figured out how to restore the font size back to normal. Hurrah! Hopefully, this will allow others to read the blogs easily again and make my version look fairly normal.

If I remember to do all the things I have to do this week and get to all the places I'm supposed to be going to, it will be a miracle. I have evening activities Mon - Thur. Most of these are related to ceramics. I have my usual daytime activities, which keep me on the go every day. I am also trying to be available in case my neighbor (home from the hospital) needs me to drive her kids somewhere or help in some other way. So far, my help hasn't been needed.

Saturday is the Raku firing at the arts center, as well as being Halloween. The word is that we should wear costumes on Saturday, but I cannot imagine trying to handle VERY HOT pottery while wearing a costume. (For Raku, you remove the piece from the kiln, using asbestos gloves and tongs, and place it in a barrel filled with flammable material.) I'm sure I have explained this process before. It's a good idea to have long sleeves and old clothes for this. I don't know of anyone who has gotten burned doing this, but still, one must be careful. So, my costume, if I wear one will consist of jeans and long sleeves. Maybe I will be a hobo? I expect to be home in time for the monster and goblins who will come knocking on my door.

Today we have had some morning rain. My newspaper, which is delivered rather early (before 6) was soaking wet. This happens almost every time we have rain. The delivery person throws the paper from a vehicle and aims at my sidewalk. Unfortunately, the sidewalk has a low spot right where the paper usually lands. If it's raining, there is a shallow puddle there. I am usually not up before 6, so the paper has plenty of time to get wet. Today it was in a single plastic bag so of course every page was wet. When they remember to use two bags, only the edges get wet and I can salvage the paper by spreading out the wet pages all over my kitchen floor. Today I called the Post. I cannot use the automatic system because their records show that there are two people with my name, at my address, who have subscriptions. Of course, only one subscription is being paid for and delivered, but the computer insists that there are two and therefore I have to talk to a customer service person. Normally, this would be a good thing because, strangely enough, I prefer to talk to a person rather than a computer. However, in this case the person had an accent (perhaps English is not her native language?) and a soft voice. This meant that I could not understand her and had to ask her to repeat herself. I know that my hearing loss is part of the problem, but still it would be nice if the people handling the phones were easier to understand. I did not even try to explain to her about the two subscriptions supposedly coming to my house, but just dealt with the wet paper issue. She said I would get a replacement copy in 90 minutes. If that actually happens, it should arrive at 9 AM. This would be good. If it comes much later, I won't be home and the paper will sit out in the rain all day. Then I will have two wet papers! I probably should just have bought today's paper and forgone the replacement. But, I shouldn't think negatively. Perhaps the paper has already arrived - NOPE. Half an hour to go.

Monday, October 26, 2009

font size

Sometimes, I really don't like my computer! I'm writing this in the new larger sized font that my friend Deb set up for me. It's huge! However, I will not change it to the smallest size, as I did with yesterday's blog. How about this size? I think the problem is that whatever Deb did changes the look on my computer, but what I did on the blog changed the font size for everyone reading the blog. I will try to undo what Deb did, as it is driving me batty to see such big type. I can't remember why we decided to change it in the first place.

Yesterday, I actually DID paint the second coat on the powder room walls. Now I have to do the door and woodwork. I will check to see what green paint I have leftover (at least 3 cans of different colors) and hopefully, one of them will look good as a contrast to the chartreuse walls. I'm still debating whether to 'rag on' a contrasting color, as I have done with living room walls. I think it might look good, but it means several more days of doing without the room. I'm getting more exercise, going upstairs to the bathroom!

It's cold today, at least in my house. The heat has actually been on for several hours. Feels good. I'm wearing four layers of shirts and my hands are still cold! I wonder if I could type with gloves on. LOL My hands and feet are often cold, so I mostly ignore it. For about ten years, during and after menopause, I was comfortably warm all the time. I thought perhaps my system was finally going to be like most other people's, as far as temperature. It was rather nice being able to only wear as many layers as most everybody else was wearing. I was actually warm enough when visiting Kate. (In England, houses are kept pretty cold by American standards.) However, now I find that I am back to being cold much of the time. I guess that is my normal state, so I'd better get used to it again. At least it provides a reason to wear my heavy winter sweaters.

This looks to be another busy week. I may be walking/driving my neighbor's kids to school, as she is just home from the hospital and probably needs to rest. I don't mind doing this and the walk will be good for me. It's just one more thing I must keep track of. Hopefully, I won't be picking them up, as that would be much harder for me to remember. I have a lot of evenings tied up with ceramics this week - more than usual. And, of course, I need to shop for a computer. I doubt that will happen this week. I really want to get a new machine. It's the thought of shopping for it, deciding on one, and then (horrors!) setting it up that causes me to procrastinate. As I mentioned earlier, I have a love/hate relationship with my computer. I need a new computer and couldn't bear to be without one, but I don't understand them and hate having to deal with problems or other odd issues.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

wood firing day

Yesterday, I spent 5 hours helping to get a bunch of pottery (not just mine) ready to be placed in a wood-fired kiln, located at the home of my ceramics teacher from Montpelier Arts Center. I thought we were going to be splitting logs to use as fuel in the kiln, but only one person did that. The splitter is a scary machine. One could easily split something other than the logs! No way am I going to use it. There were perhaps 20 people involved, although there was a good deal of coming and going. Most of us finished glazing our pieces and helped others finish up. I put little 'feet' on the pieces, so that they would not touch the kiln shelf. The feet are glued on (Elmer's glue) and will fall off after firing. I also put fresh kiln wash on the shelves. This makes it easier to clean the shelves of the glazes that run over and get on them.

There was plenty of time to0 for chatting, eating, and drinking. We were lucky that the rain held off until 2 and then only rained hard for about an hour. We worked outside, but mostly under some kind of roof - like a tarp strung from trees. We all got a bit wet and one gal slipped and fell, getting very muddy and wet. Luckily, she wasn't hurt, but I'm sure she felt rather uncomfortable the rest of the day. I didn't stay for the kiln loading. I would have liked to see it, but was just too tired to stick around. The kiln will fire all day today (started at 4 AM). We will take the pieces out on Wednesday. It takes that long to cool off. It's actually two kilns, side by side, made of fire brick. Pretty good size, although not large enough to stand up in. (Not that one would want to!) It will be interesting to see what the fired pieces look like. The wood creates ash that circulates in the kiln and gets on the pottery. I'll post photos of my stuff sometime next week.

I had one of those embarrassing senior moments yesterday evening. Somehow I got my days mixed up and thought it was Sunday. I always call Kate on Sunday, so I called her. I knew that England was changing their clocks this weekend - on Sunday. I thought that had already happened, so I called her at what was 11 pm her time. This would not normally have been a problem, as she is usually up past that. However, she was tired yesterday (from Olivia's birthday party, I imagine) and went to bed early. So not only did I feel stupid calling on the wrong day, but I felt guilty for waking her up. Hopefully, she got right back to sleep. I have done this once before - hope it's not going to be common. Usually I DO know what day it is!

I have not yet finished painting the powder room. Been too busy or too tired to start the second coat. Maybe today after church. I hate unfinished projects, but I need to start early in the day. By mid-afternoon, I'm not energetic enough to start painting. All in all, I think I have a bit too much on my schedule this fall. I'll try to not schedule quite so much activity come January.

Fall is such a lovely time of year to be outside, especially in wooded areas. I'm beginning to really appreciate the color in Maryland trees. We get mostly gold, rather than red, but it's quite lovely. The golden leaves create a glow through the woods. A few trees have orange/red leaves and really stand out. It's more muted than the fall color I remember from NY State, but I enjoy it just as much.

Of course, I never have my camera with me when I see a lovely woods. Maybe I should get one of those phones that has a camera. Of course, I would have to learn how to use it! I still can't remember how to turn the flash on and off on my digital camera. I finally did figure out how to find the numbers of friends that are programmed in my cell phone. (Sarah (Grand-d1) put the numbers in for me, but I had to figure out how to access them!) My friend Deb, who understands computers, changed the font size on my computer - or at least on some parts of the computer. It's way too large and, of course, I don't know how to change it back! I've fixed this blog easily enough, but it's only a fix for this document. I guess I'll always be one of those challenged by the world of electronics. Ah well, somehow I'll get by.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

exercise day(2)

Every Tuesday will probably be noted as an exercise day, until the weather turns too cold to walk outside. I have just enough time between my ceramics class and the yoga class to walk around Lake Elkhorn and then eat my lunch. Yesterday was a gorgeous day - warm and sunny, but not hot. The turtles certainly liked it. I counted 30 turtles sunning themselves on small logs in the lake. There were probably many more, but the path around the lake isn't always close to the shore. More than half the time, the path goes through woods and although one can see the lake, it's too far away to spot turtles. Anyway, with the walk and then yoga, I was feeling virtuous and tired by the time I got home.

Today, I've been painting the powder room. I ended up getting the bright yellow retinted into a green - also bright, but better than the yellow. I have a lot of green in my living room, so it will fit right in. I had decided to paint over the wallpaper (a mistake) and had about half of the first coat on when I gave up. The wallpaper wasn't peeling off, but there were all these bubbles and loose places. At first I tried cutting them open, applying Elmer's glue , and then sticking the paper back together. However, the more I painted, the more spots showed up. Soon there were just too many bumpy places. When I started peeling the paper off, I realized I should have done that to start. It was very easy. Where I had painted, the paper came right off. Other places needed a bit of water, but there were no real problems. Of course, I had wasted at least an hour, painting, but I still got the first coat on by 3:30. Unfortunately, I won't get the second coat on tonight. Paint cans used to have information as to how long to wait before the second coat, but this can does not. I have to assume that it would not be dry enough to paint tonight. I am planning to get up a bit early tomorrow and paint before I go to work in the gift shop. I have to be there at ten, so in theory, I have enough time to do the second coat. It should only take 90 minutes. (I will not even try to do the woodwork. Haven't decided yet if I want to paint it the same color as the walls or a contrasting color). I'm not usually that organized in the early morning, but perhaps I will be tomorrow. A friend is coming in tomorrow evening, so I would like to get the painting done and the shelf unit put back before she comes. Right now, my living room is littered with various baskets that normally stay in the powder room. My friend won't care if my house is messy, but I will!

I put up the rest of my Halloween decorations this afternoon. I have a couple string of lights that drape around the little evergreen tree out front. Also a jack'o' lantern with a light in the window. I have a Halloween flag that needs to go up as well. I'll do that just as soon as I finish typing this blog. Patty's house is the one that everyone looks at. This year, she has a collection of spiders and flies stuck up on her door and wall. Very icky! She also has various signs (''The Witch Is In")and a nasty looking green ghost. Our neighborhood really gets into Halloween. It's fun, especially for those of us who don't have resident kids. If the weather is nice on Halloween evening, we will sit out front and admire the costumes while sipping some appropriate beverage. I'll take some photos one of these evenings.