Saturday, January 31, 2009


Pat wants me to do one of these things where you talk about yourself. Ten things people might not know about me and 5 addictions. I've done one of these before, but it was just an email thing - before I became a blogger. I think the ten things will be hard.

10 things about me:

1. I was born at home. My mother did not go to a hospital for my birth.

2. I graduated number one from high school. I was a 'brain' (today I would be a nerd) and it was a small high school (100 graduates).

3. I have a degree in library service from Rutgers.

4. I met my first husband at Rutgers when I was in grad school.

5. I lived in Germany for almost two years, when my husband was in the US Army.

6. I own a TV, but haven't watched a show in about three years. (I did watch the inauguration, but at my neighbor's house.)

7. I played the flute in high school and college.

8. My straight hair developed waves after the 'change of life'.

9. I love fabric, but hate to sew. (some of you already know this)

10. I love to travel and want to take an Alaskan cruise someday. Also would like to drive across the US. Want to come with me?

5 addictions:

1. music: especially singing, but also listening.

2. reading: mostly romances and crime stories.

3. ceramics: I teach a class and also attend classes. Am into making 'masks' these days. For photos of some of my work, go here

4. visiting flea markets, yard sales and antique stores.


Ok, that's the best I can do. I won't tag anyone else, but feel free to participate if you want.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Real snow at last.

We really did get some snow yesterday - maybe two inches all told. Trees and bushes look very pretty with their white coats. The cars are not improved, however, by the snow and ice on the windows. I'm glad I'm not driving anywhere today. I'm using the icy roads as an excuse to stay home. Although my sidewalk was very slippery this morning, I'm sure I could drive safely if I needed to. Can't say the same for many Maryland drivers, however. People here fall into two types when it comes to icy roads. They either drive just as usual, which means they slide all over and cause accidents, or they slow down to a turtle's pace, making everyone else impatient and annoyed. The problem is that we don't get enough snow and ice each winter for anyone to learn how to drive on slippery roads. Also, despite all the salt/sand trucks, plowing the roads is not done very quickly or efficiently. Not like New York State where snowplows are everywhere during and after a storm. Oh well, it's not as if we get much nasty winter weather.

This morning, when I went out to get my paper, my neighbor, Will, asked me if I wanted some rock salt. I said, 'yes please', so he got some and started sprinkling it on my steps, which were very icy. His son, who was visiting, said that he could shovel my walk, so he and I did that. It was actually easier than the shoveling I did yesterday, because today, the ice-crusted snow lifted right off, once the crust was broken. It's nice to have neighbors who offer to help with things like snow shoveling. I'm lucky to live in a friendly neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have finally finished the kitchen - freshly painted, tops of cabinets cleaned, stuff put back on tops, on counter, and on walls! Frankly, the painting itself was the least of the work. Here are some before and after photos. The photo on the left is before I started painting. I haven't even gotten all the stuff off the counters at this point. The next photo shows the same area after painting, with the stuff back on the counter.

The photo on the lower right shows the piles of stuff I took off the counters, so that I could stand on them to paint. Notice the freshly painted walls. The middle photo is of the longest wall in the kitchen, now filled with antique kitchen utensils and other stuff I enjoy looking at every day. (There is even room for a few more items if I find something irresistable the next time I go antiquing.) The photo on the right shows the coat closet which is between the dining and living room areas. Of the tiles hanging on the left side of the closet, only the second from the top is one I made. (I wish I were good enough to have made those others.)

Today we are actually getting some snow. It's drifting down slowly in very fine flakes. So far we have perhaps an inch. We may get as much as 4 inches by evening. However, tonight or tomorrow it will turn to rain, then ice and be a real mess! I don't have to drive anywhere today or tomorrow, lucky for me. Perhaps by Thursday, when I have a volunteer day at the local hospital, the roads will be okay again. Meanwhile, I'll stay home and sort through the piles of clippings and papers that I had stacked on either side of the computer. Hopefully, throw most of it away, or at least figure out a better way to keep them. I'm good at organizing stuff, but not very good at throwing it away! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More home improvement

I've been painting the walls in my kitchen/dining room yesterday and today, so I'm really tired tonight. I have taken some before and after photos, but they will not get up tonight - maybe Friday. You don't realize how much stuff you have until you have to move it all into another room - or in my case two other rooms. The painting is almost completed. Still have about an hour more to do. Unfortunately, tomorrow is my volunteer day at the hospital gift shop and then choir in the evening, so the painting will have to wait until Friday. I'll have to live with the mess until then. I have managed to clear off half of my dining table, so I could eat properly this evening. I've been eating at a little table in the living room, and was lucky to have that space. The coffee table and the sofa, a chair, and another little table are filled with things from the kitchen and from the coat closet, which also was painted. The kitchen is functional again, with storage containers and appliances back in their proper place. It looks very bare, however, as I haven't put up any of the decorative shelves and other stuff. I may rearrange a bit and not everything will go back up. (I've already discarded the bulletin board). The hutch in the dining room is still pulled out from the wall because I can't move it. My neighbor pulled it out for me and he will have to push it back, now that the wall is painted. I did manage to move the refrigerator back into it's slot in the corner. It is on rollers, so once I got it past the heat duct, it was easy to move. I am sitting here now, admiring my freshly painted walls., I have to admit that the color isn't quite what I expected. It's funny how colors change from the sample to the wall. I thought it was rather beige/tan and it's really more on the yellow side. It's a different color in the daytime when the sun is shining than it is at night. However, I like the color, so all is well. I have been know to repaint a wall when I couldn't stand the color, but luckily I don't have to this time.

I took time out yesterday to watch the Presidential Inauguration. (Went next door to see it on their big TV.) It was an astonishing sight to see over a million people jammed on the Mall. I was very impressed with Obama's speech. He certainly is a good speaker and he didn't mince words.
I found it very moving, actually. I can't remember the last time I had strong positive feelings about a President - maybe Kennedy. It almost makes me wish I were still a government worker - almost, but not quite! I like retirement too much to want to go back to work, no matter how worthy the cause.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Snow flurries?

The weather people reported we would have snow flurries today. I have been looking out through the doors to the deck, and, sure enough, there has been some snow -sorta. I wouldn't call it flurries - that is too active for what I see. A few cute little snow flakes drifting lazily down from the gray skies, to settle carefully on the deck. Since I had thrown onto the deck some pale-colored seed for the birds, it was hard at first to distinguish the snow from the birdseed. So far, the snow has stopped once and then restarted. It has produced barely a dusting on outside surfaces. Maybe we'll eventually get enough to whiten the ground and bushes. Since I have to teach a pottery class today in a nearby community, I don't want a lot of snow. Maryland drivers aren't used to snow, which makes driving on snowy roads especially hazardous. One has to watch out for the other drivers, more than usual.

I have quite a few birds gathering on my deck and feeders today. Many of them, like the cardinals and the juncos, prefer to eat on a flat surface, like the deck. They make an awful mess, so I only put food there when the weather is really nasty and cold. I figure they need a break then. Otherwise they have to compete for food in the hanging feeders. The sparrows and house finches pretty much dominate those feeders, although the chick-a-dees and titmice will fly in, grab a seed and go off to eat it and then come back for more. Yesterday, a wren visited. They are around all summer and often nest in the neighborhood, but I don't see many in winter. I think they prefer insects, which are in short supply this time of year. I've never seen one eating at the feeders, but if I put out raisins or other fruit, they will come to dine. Unfortunately, the squirrels also like the fruit, so the birds are lucky to get any. Squirrels seemingly will eat anything. A neighbor feeds them, so they don't come over to my house too often. My feeders are the kind that are supposed to be squirrel proof. Mostly that works.

I'm supposed to be cleaning and spackling my kitchen/dining walls today, rather than frittering away time on the computer. Guess I'd better get to work. Tomorrow I hope to paint, in between watching parts of Obama's inauguration. This is the first inauguration I've been interested in watching since I moved to Maryland 35 years ago. It's impossible not to be excited about this one. I'm so proud of my country for electing Barack Obama! He has a tough job ahead of him, but I have confidence that he and the country have exciting and successful years ahead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

Well, I got back to normal (see Monday's post) and have discovered that I have nothing much to write about! When in doubt, talk about the weather. It's been in the 20s (Farenheit) for the last several days, although I think it is due to warm up into the 30s for the Inauguration. Brrrrr. You won't find me watching on the Mall! Not that I would even if it was warm. I am very uncomfortable in large crowds and consider going into DC next week to be a nightmare. I just hope the traffic jam and the crowds aren't as bad as predicted. If I watch the ceremonies, it will be in my nice warm house! Speaking of a warm house, I have once again discovered the wonders of solar heating - i.e., sunshine coming into my living room through my new storm door. My thermostat is set at 66, but the room temperature is at 73! It's lovely. For a few house, my heat pump won't be running.

Yesterday I had lunch with the 'Friday lunch bunch' (a group of long-time friends). We were joined by the daughter of one of the couples (now living in Pittsburgh). Elise is a graduate student at the University of Maryland and will be going to Antarctica next week to continue studying penguins. She went a few months ago as well. It's summer in Antarctica and the temperatures will actually be as warm or warmer than here. However, with all the snow on the ground that they have to wade through, the brave scientists will feel pretty chilly. It amazes me what today's generation of young people are doing. Such a wide variety of careers, spread all over the world. Definitely makes for a hopeful future.

Yesterday, I purchased paint for the kitchen/dining room. It's a beige color, just a bit warmer than the almond color of the appliances. I found a darker shade that I also liked, but am saving that for next year when I plan to repaint the living room. The two rooms run together along one wall, so the colors have to look ok together. Anyway, I now have paint and a new roller, but need to get spackle and a sash brush (the kind with a the bristles cut on a slant). I don't buy really expensive brushes, as I've found it's easier to just throw them out after a couple of uses and get new ones. (A professional painter actually recommended I do that.) I will start today removing all the many shelves and stuff hanging on the walls, so that I can spackle all the holes from them and from the pictures and antique kitchen tools also hanging on the walls. If you are getting the idea that I have lots of stuff on display in my kitchen, you are right. The biggest problem is where to put all the bits and pieces when I take the shelves down! I think my living room will look as if I am having a yard sale. I hope to get the painting done next week, although it will have to be in bits and pieces, as I don't have any free days during the week. I will take photos when it is done. I'd better stop procrastinating and go shopping now.

Stay well and warm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back to normal, whatever that is

Nothing very exciting happening to me since my last blog. I did drive to the supermarket and the drug store and the paint store on Friday. Spent lots of money, but then I had pretty much cleaned out my freezer and fridge during the car-less week, so I really needed to restock. The stop at the paint store was to pick up some color strips. I am going to repaint my kitchen this month. It's been pale blue for 7 years now and it's time for a change. (Also it's looking a bit shabby.) I change the colors on my walls fairly often, as I get bored with the same colors. The accent colors in the kitchen are bright red and dark blue, I have oak cabinets, and the appliances are 'almond'. So I don't have a lot of choice in wall colors. I think I will go with a beige, somewhat warmer and darker than the appliance color. I'm going to think about it for a few more days and then buy the paint and start! I really enjoy painting, but I surely don't enjoy moving furniture, including in this case, the fridge and a very large hutch, and I hate washing and patching the walls in preparation for the paint. Still the result will be worth it.

So far this winter, we have escaped bad weather. Today is cold, but sunny. However, the weather people are threatening us with nasty, cold weather later in the week. Sooner or later we'll get some ice, snow or sleet. (With my luck, that will happen in February on the day I am flying to England to visit Kate and family!) However, usually on bad weather days, I am just glad that I am retired and don't have to drive to work. Of course, I do have to get to various classes and volunteer activities, but at least I don't have to drive in rush hour traffic which will be all snarled up by the slippery roads.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wheels again, finally!

Picked up my car last night. It didn't cost as much as I had feared, although still a considerable amount. The car runs very smoothly now and I can't even tell when the gears are shifting. There are a couple of other potential problems with the car, unrelated to the transmission. I'll have to take it in again most likely in a week or two, but hopefully the problems won't be major. However, here's the funny thing - the engine light is still on!! This is the stupid light that comes on when any of 42 different things need to be checked or fixed. My mechanic assures me that this time it has to do with the emissions system and isn't a serious problem. He isn't recommending that I do anything about it, just ignore the light. I sure hope he's right. The light is very annoying, but I suppose after a few weeks, I will no longer notice it.

You don't realize how car-dependent you are until you are without one. Of course, there were two cars in the household when I was married, so I haven't had this sort of problem in many years. I realize that if the time comes when I can no longer drive safely, I will have to look for a different place to live - a place where I can easily walk to stores, post office, etc. Perhaps that time will never come. My dad drove his car until he died, although he didn't drive much the last few years. It's something to think about, however, when planning retirement. Public transportation in the US, even in metro areas isn't the greatest. The English people complain about their trains and buses, but their system is wonderful compared to ours!

So, I'm back on the road. Happy Trails!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

American Museum of Visionary Art

Yesterday, my friend Lynne and I went into Baltimore to visit a new museum. Lynne is an artist, so we had decided to go to one of the art museums there. This was a wonderful choice! It features artists who are self-taught and are not exactly traditional in what they produce. The pieces on exhibit were like nothing I have ever seen and were fascinating. Among others items they had: a model of the Titanic made from toothpicks; various items, including one piece of furniture, made of matchsticks; a tree and a pond (representing the sea) all made of or decorated with mirrors and colored glass; two walls of murals depicting mostly farm life, done in primitive style by a man who lives in a mental institution and is 112 years old; ceramic heads with distorted faces; drawings of faces - human and cat - done with pen and ink (I think), featuring hundreds of lines, rather like those Spirograph pictures kids used to do, but much more interesting; and so much more. This would be a great place to visit with kids, as there were a number of interactive displays. The gift shop is filled with books, some really nice crafts and a whole lot of stuff that is pretty much junk - but very high class junk. I've never seen a museum store anything like it. The museum itself has a spiral staircase going up three floors with a metal railing that has unusual items incorporated into it, e.g., a paintbrush and a glove. I will definitely go back, as I think they change their exhibits periodically. We spent about 2 and a half hours there (it's a small museum) and then had lunch at the Rusty Scupper which overlooks the Inner Harbor. A little expensive, but very good food and service.

Friday, January 2, 2009

a different look

Here, on the right, is a photo of where the Christmas tree resided for the last month. It looks really different now and blessedly stripped down. I love Christmas, but I can only stand all the color and sparkle for so long and then I want a much simpler look. The pottery on the table, except for the cat, is part of my every increasing collection of things I have made. (The smaller pitcher was made by Kate years ago when she was also playing with clay.) In the chair, you can see a bit of a lap quilt that Kate made for me years ago. It's my favorite (she has made several for me) as it is very soft and the colors go nicely in the room. The photo on the left shows some of the same pictures that were hung on that wall for Christmas. However, the masks have now replaced some cute little snowmen and a Holiday wall hanging. Again, the pottery on the table is a mix of my creations and things I just couldn't resist buying. The white bowl resting on its side and the black bowl with the handle are purchased items. The photos in the tall frame are some I took around the neighborhood a few years ago when we had some snow.
Today is laundry day - real exciting. I really should run the vacuum cleaner to get the bits of silvery glitter that stick to everything after the tree and decorations are gone. I may still find one more ornament hidden away among the house plants or in some odd place, but mostly the house is back to normal. Thank goodness.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yep, I did it - took down all the Christmas decorations in my living room, including the tree, yesterday. (I still have lights and garlands to remove from the top of the kitchen cabinets.) It took all afternoon, as I had to haul empty boxes up from the basement and then back down when they were filled. With the Christmas stuff packed away, I brought up the boxes that contained my black and white items - mostly pottery - and began arranging (and rearranging) the items on shelves and tables. I'm still rearranging, but will settle them by this evening, probably.... Yesterday evening, my next-door neighbor called to invite me to come over and see her new dining room table and chairs - they are gorgeous! - and stay for some New Year's cheer. I ended up being there until after midnight, as various other neighbors dropped in. We nibbled on goodies and sipped wine and finally toasted the arrival of 2009 with champagne. I have to admit that I sipped a bit too much wine and felt somewhat the worse for it this morning. What's amazing is that I actually stayed awake all evening. Usually I fall asleep after two glasses of wine. I guess it was the good company (and a number of rather noisy kids) that kept me awake.

Today is cold (brrrr) and sunny. I don't think I'll go walking today, although the wind that was very strong yesteday has died down pretty much. We didn't get any damage around here, but some parts of the metropolitan area had trees come down. Fireworks were cancelled in several nearby cities. I guess people went outside to celebrate anyway, but I prefer to be inside when the temperature gets into the 30s. I grew up in western New York State where winter is cold (minus 20 sometimes) and snowy and I don't miss that at all!