Monday, June 29, 2009

a nice visit

I returned yesterday from 5 days up in western New York State - God's Country (in the summer). I had two luncheons with high school friends - good food and good conversation. Also went to the alumni banquet. Again good food and friends. Somehow, in between all that, I did manage to spend some time with my brother and sister-in-law. And, of course, I shopped and shopped. There are many interesting antique stores along route 15 through Pennsylvania. Hammondsport, New York (on Keuka Lake) is only a few miles from Bath (where I was staying) and there are several very nice antique stores as well as a wonderful fabric shop in that little village. I bought antiques for me and fabric for Kate (mostly).

It was a wonderful trip, although the drive gets longer and longer, as I get older. I will only show a couple of things I bought on this trip, as many of the objects are more little animals. I also bought two more small shelves, but I really don't have a place to put more than one of them. Will have to think more on this problem. I suppose the solution is to STOP BUYING STUFF!!! I sure hate to do that. Among other items I bought is a used bicycle. It's an old 3 speed and still works fine, as far as I could tell. I, however, need some practice riding. I was wobbling all over the place. I got a bargain on the bike and have been considering buying one for several years now. What I didn't consider until I had the bike in the car is: where in my house will I store it? I live in the middle unit of 8 townhouses. It's a long ways from the back yard around to the front and it's tricky, as we are on a hill. I don't want to have to wheel the bike around from the back every time I want to ride. And my backyard shed is full anyway. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to keep bikes out front - and there is no place there to store it. Now we are looking inside. The bike is too big for the basement stairwell landing. Soooo - that leaves the living room or dining room. It took up too much space behind the couch. I could put it in the dining room, but that would displace a keyboard on a stand and I don't have another good place for the keyboard. Finally, after some maneuvering of the computer table, I put the bike behind that table. From the living room, it can't be seen, as there is a screen separating the rooms. I think this will work, but I haven't tried it getting it out. I will, of course, have to wheel it down the front steps and back up, but it's not too heavy.

Here is a photo of two glass birds that I found on my trip. Also a snap of the latest batch of little animals.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

a busy weekend

I've been rather busy this weekend - mostly fun stuff, luckily. Here is the plan for Saturday (and you know what they say about the best laid plans): We (Patty, her mother Irma, and I) would drive (Patty's car) to the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg (about 35 minutes away) to a city-wide yard sale. After we checked that out, we would visit the two antique stores we like in that city and then return home, because Patty had things to do at home in the afternoon. Irma and I, being retired have much more free time than Patty. That was the plan. Here's what we actually did: We did go to the yard sale, but were somewhat disappointed. It wasn't as large as we had expected and many of the booths were selling clothes or baby/child things. (They have several sales just for baby things, so we expected this one to be just adult things. Unfortunately, not the case.) We spent an hour there and were done. Next, we drove into town and got a bite to eat because the antique stores don't open until 10. We had a great time at those stores, but still were done well before noon. At that point, Patty said, let's try to find another antique store. It was raining very hard, but the store wasn't within walking distance, so we set out in the car. Patty has a GPS in her car - it's such fun to use and very handy. She plugged in the address and off we went. Unfortunately, that store must have closed or moved, as it was not where the address was. What a downer! By this time, Patty was bitten by the antique bug, so she suggested we try a large antique mall in a town about 20 miles further. So, off we went again. This one was a huge success! The handy GPS directed us right to the store, although we almost missed it, as the sign isn't very obvious. The store is in a big warehouse, with many aisles of antiques. And the prices were very reasonable. (We've found that the further we get from Baltimore and DC, the lower the prices.) Boy, did we shop! I spent far more than I should have, but I got some wonderful stuff. By the time we finished there, I was starving and we asked about places to eat. The antique store folks recommended the Mexican restaurant right next door. It didn't look like much from the outside, but the inside was very lovely, with light colored wall, modern art and tables with white linens. And, best of all, the food was suburb! I think it's the best Mexican food I've eaten. We felt really lucky to have stumbled upon it. After we ate, we headed for home. Along the way, I spotted another places advertising antiques and Patty made a very hasty turn off the highway into the parking lot. This place was actually a consignment shop and didn't have much that interested us, but Patty got chatting with the owner and he told us about a big flea market close to where we live. Definitely a destination for a future trip. So, all in all, it was a wonderful day.

Today my church held it's annual picnic. When I left home it was warm, but overcast. At the picnic grounds, it was very windy and looked like rain. I wished I had worn long pants instead of shorts, but at least I had a jacket with me. Despite the wind, we had a good church service, except when one of the speakers was blown off its stand. Hopefully, it can be fixed, as it was a borrowed item. The picnic was a huge success, as far as food goes. Everyone brought salads - I've never seen such an assortment. And the fellowship committee (of which I am a member) cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and served lemonade and iced tea. I am stuffed because I wanted to try every salad.

The photos show: more little animals for my shelves; colored bottles and pitchers. (the ones with corks aren't antique, but I like the shape and colors) and some cookie cutters. Can you see that the cookie cutters are dinosaurs? I think Alex will really enjoy making cookies with his mum if he can use these.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

a good rain

I awoke this AM to find rain pouring down, but no wind. That's a good thing, as it means my flowering plum tree is still upright! It was dark and gloomy at 6:30 and when I went out to get the newspaper, it was lying in a puddle and very wet. They even had two plastic bags on it, but when it's in a puddle, what can you do? So, here's what I do: I have all the pages of the sections I read (omitting sports and obituaries) spread on the dining room/kitchen floor. They will be dry by the time I return home from my stint at the hospital gift shop. However, I may just buy another paper at the hospital, if there are any in the machine. I'm such a creature of habit - I really want to read the AM paper in the AM! Silly me!

Anyway, with no paper to read and an hour to kill before heading off, I thought it was a good time to blog. Yesterday was a good day for me, although perhaps not as good a day for my pocketbook. First thing, I went to a book sale being held at a nearby senior center. They had LOTS OF BOOKS and their prices were sooooo cheap! I ended up with 10 paperbacks for just $2, a real bargain. However, the best thing was that there were many home and garden books on sale for only $3 each. You know the kind - oversize and with many photographs. I bought six, including one quilt book. The home decor books are fun to read and I will pass them on to my friend Patty and then probably to a thrift shop, so that someone else can enjoy a bargain.

My shopping experience did not stop after the book sale. I had an interesting coupon from Borders with many different offerings. Did I mention that book stores are a particular weakness of mine? Maybe you already figured that out! I actually did very well - only bought one book, one CD, and a magazine. Coupons reduced the prices on all of these. Oh yes, I forgot - I also used a coupon that gave me a free beverage (Seattle Coffee) when I bought a pastry. So I had a delicious oatmeal and cranberry cookie and a decaf latte. My daughter orders lattes whenever we are at a coffee shop, so I thought I'd try one. I think they are ok, but would be better with syrup. (Yeah, I have a sweet tooth.)

After Borders, I walked to the next store which is JoAnn's. It's so convenient, having them side-by-side. I managed to resist buying any fabric, despite the huge sale going on there. Truth is that I cannot remember what fabric I already have, so am not buying any more at JoAnn's for a while. There is wonderful fabric store that I will be visiting next week when I'm in western New York State. I'm sure I'll find irresistible fabric there.

My last stop was Michaels. I've been looking, unsuccessfully, for two little flat songbirds to put on the birdhouse door hanging I bought at a yard sale recently. I finally did find some at Michaels (in Columbia). My local store didn't have any - it's not nearly as good as the one in Columbia. (Probably because Columbia is up-scale, so all the chain stores are better there.)

So - a very successful day, all in all. Among other 'accomplishments' this week is this: I cleared all the junk off the dining table!! Those of you who are inherently neat, won't understand why this is an accomplishment. However, those of us who struggle with stuff everywhere understand how good it feels. Of course this only lasted one day, but there are only a couple of items on the table now and I have hopes of keeping it pretty clear. LOL

Monday, June 15, 2009

bird houses

Yesterday, I painted houses - not the house I live in, but bird houses. As you may know, I am into collecting bird houses. I have them lined up on my deck railing (where the squirrels regularly knock them off into my neighbor's yard) and hanging from the overhang above the deck. Now, thanks to an idea from Patty, I have some hanging from the tree in my front yard. Look closely and you will see them. In addition to painting the bird houses, I put fabric on some of them. They look cute, I think. I got the idea from a magazine. There are four pictures of the large birdhouse, so you can see all the sides. Most of the houses are just decorative, but some are real. So far no birds have taken up residence.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The rest of the week

Wednesday, I took over the kids' ceramic class because the regular teacher was on vacation. We fill in for each other that way, so that we are free to travel. This was the first class of a new session and most of the kids were new to the program. There were 11 kids, but luckily none of them were very young and needed close supervision. However, even with a good bunch of kids, I find working with them exhausting. The biggest problem is keeping them occupied, as most of them want to hurry and finish and move on to another project, rather than do each project neatly and carefully. Some of this group are quite talented and one or two actually worked to perfect their pieces. I had two projects for them and still we had a lot of time left over. I managed to fill it by showing them how various pieces of equipment worked. The folks who run the center said that there were many more kids who wanted to take ceramics and would Thelma or I consider adding another class. I knew Thelma didn't want to do that and I declined because I will be away so much this summer. I don't get paid enough to teach the kids - no way!

Last evening, Patty and I walked a couple of miles. We haven't been walking much at all this summer on account of all the rain, so it was good to get out there. However, we are sadly out of shape. Hopefully, there will be more evenings we can walk, but next week the predictions are for at least three days with thunderstorms. So here we go again. I think my new song is going to be "rain, rain, go away".

Today I plan to get out the big ladder, set it up in the front yard, and try to lop off some of the top branches of my flowering plum tree. Patty will come out and help me, by telling me if the branch I'm starting to cut is the right one or not. When I'm on the ladder in the midst of the tree branches, I can't tell which ones I want gone. Also, if I fall, Patty can call the ambulance!! LOL
Have I mentioned that I hate ladders and am not good with heights? Times like this I really miss my 6-foot tall former husband.

Here's a photo of my front flower bed. The lilies really add color to the bed. It looks good this year, I think. Every year is different. This year I have been invaded by a low growing, mahogany colored plant (on the left front). We think it is a form of basil. It's very aggressive - spreading over much of the flower bed and into the lawn. I did not plant this. Three years ago, it appeared in the back yard. Last year it left the back and migrated to the front. Perhaps next year it will disappear altogether. I find gardening fascinating because of things like that. Last year I had morning glories growing on the trellis. They went to seed and this year I have little plants coming up in many places, but not close enough to reach the trellis. So, I have morning glories climbing the lilies instead. It's a bit odd, but they will be pretty, wherever they are.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

another thunderstorm or two..... or three?

I woke up this morning when the thunder sounded at 6. It was really loud and continued for several minutes, accompanied by rain, but no wind. Some places got hail, but not us. By 8 AM, the rain had stopped and an hour or so later, the sun was shining. We all thought we had gotten lucky and it was going to be a beautiful day. And so it was, until about 5 PM when the storm returned with thunder, lightening, rain and wind! Luckily, the wind only lasted a few minutes, but it blew a lot of leaves down. My plum tree leaned a bit, but I was able to pull it back up fairly easily. However the wind blew my neighbor's metal table all the way across her deck! My deck is sheltered by the wall of the two homes on either side. (The townhouses are built so that one is set forward and the next one set back.) Therefore, I get very little breeze or wind on my deck. My wind chimes never ring, but on the plus side, my metal table doesn't travel! I just heard thunder again, but I think it's a passing storm - no rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, mostly.

Today a group of us went out to lunch after our ceramics class. We ate at the country club in Columbia. It's a nice place and looks out over the golf course. The people in that ceramics class are very social. Some of them have been in the class for years and know each other very well. Others, like me, are newer and are still struggling to remember names. Some folks seem to be there just for the socializing, but that's ok. None of us are 'production potters', i.e., selling our items and making money on them. We're just there to play with clay! I haven't completed anything lately, but may have some things in a few weeks. I'm trying to make some really nice things as a wedding present for the daughter of friends of mine. Luckily, I have until fall to do this. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned this. I don't think the bride reads my blog - hope not - although her mother does.

Monday, June 8, 2009

thanks for the memories

The MAD variety show closed yesterday. Such a relief, but also a bit of sadness. The performances went very well. I remembered the words to the chorus songs, (and so did most of the chorus) so I felt good about our numbers. I'm a bit sad because, with two exceptions, I only see the MAD members when we are involved in a show. I will miss the others. There is such a wonderful feeling of excitement and friendship during the rehearsals and the run of the show. It's always a let-down when it's over. Still, I'm glad to be done with those extra rehearsals. I'll be mentally singing the music for a week or so and then it will gradually fade. It was great fun, but now I can get on with the other joys of my life!

For those who do not live in Maryland/Delaware, here's a weather report. After a lovely, hot weekend, we are due for rain the next four days. Sounds like last week, doesn't it? The only good thing is that it's been nice on weekends. I remember when I was working how discouraging I found it when the nice days were during the week and the rain on weekends. Still, I think we could manage very nicely with only one or two days of rain per week. Temperature-wise, I think summer has finally hit us. It is still moderately cool at night, but temps will be in the 80s all week. I guess the A/C will run pretty steadily from now until September.

Of course, all this rain has been wonderful for the gardens. My lilies are coming into bloom now. I actually have two colors of orange lilies blooming out front. Somehow, the shorter ones got further back than I intended, but they can still be seen. I pruned my flowering plum tree Saturday. Tried to get open up the center part. I still need to take off some height, but that requires the BIG ladder, which lives in the basement. It's a bit of a chore to carry it up the stairs and out the door, but I will have to do that this week. I'm hoping with fewer branches, the tree won't be as apt to fall over in the next wind/rain storm we have. However, I am leaving the braces and poles up, because I'll probably need them.

Here are some photos. You see that the lilies are two different colors. The hostas, ferns and caladium grow in my back yard - almost all shade.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

the winners are....

Pat, Cathi and Sandy. Congratulations! I will be sending you each a piece of pottery, sometime this summer. If any of you have color preferences, please let me know. At lot of my pottery is green, brown or blue. It is all food safe, although it does get really hot in the microwave. Mostly, the pieces I make are more useful for display than for baking.

Sandy - I need a mailing address for you. My email is

Cathi - I plan to bring the pottery to Kate's in July and mail it from there. I'd rather not trust the post office for transatlantic mail, if I don't have to.

Pat - I'm not sure I have an actual mailing address for you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

give away

I noticed today that I have just passed my 100th blog. So, a give-away is in order. I will send a piece of pottery to the first 3 people who comment on this blog.

This week has been the appropriately named "Hell Week" for the MAD Variety Show that opens tonight. We had rehearsals Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, each one lasting 2 to 3 hours. And, last night, I had a church choir rehearsal. This morning, my voice is hoarse. I hope it holds out through Sunday. I'm only in the chorus for the MAD show, but we only have 5 altos, so every voice counts. The music is great, including a medley from 'Wicked'. I really want to see that show, as the music is wonderful.

This has been another rainy week. Wednesday night we had a real gully-washer, with lots of thunder and lightening. I dumped out some little things that had collected water and found about 5 inches in each of them. And more rain expected tonight. Where is that ark, when we need one? LOL

Here's a photo of a couple of ceramic pieces I completed recently. The green and blue one is a vase. The other is one of the segments to some totem poles I am creating in my front yard. When they are complete, I will take photos, but that is still months away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yard Sale Saturday

Patty and I left home at 7:30 Saturday and came home at 7:30 PM. Quite a day! We picked up route 40 west of Baltimore, hoping to follow the advertised "Route 40 Yard Sale". Unfortunately, Marylanders had not gotten the message about the yard sale. We did find a few yard sales, off the route, but not even the antique stores along the route were participating in the 'Yard Sale'. However, we found a number of antique stores, most of which I had never been in and many of which were having sales. It was a highly successful day! Photos of some of my loot are below. We drove all the way to Hancock - nearly 100 miles from home.

The only blight on the day was that after driving an hour or so, we made a rest stop and discovered that one of my tires was a bit soft. There was free air, but when we tried to get the value cap off, we could not do it - even with pliers. At that point, we just kept on with our trip. I tried to drive more slowly, but coming home on I-70, that was rather hard to do. Yesterday, I took the car back to the tire place and they replaced two value stems and caps. If I had kept on trying to get the cap off, the stem would have torn, so it's a good thing that I quit when I did. Anyhow, except for having to wait almost three hours yesterday at the tire place, all was well. Luckily I had a book with me, so I wasn't bored. I read 130 pages of "Three Cups of Tea" the book about Greg Mortenson, the mountain climber who builds schools in remote Himalyan villages. It's a good book - amazing what he has been able to do.

Light houses, bird houses and a new shelf for more additions to Kathy's menagerie.