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.

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.


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


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


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.