Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I won't be up at midnight, I hope, so I'm sending everybody a seasonal greeting a bit early.  I have a busy day planned.  I'm meeting my friend Lynne for lunch at the Ram's Head Tavern at Savage Mill.  Neither Lynne nor I have been to Savage Mill for some time.  They used to have wonderful antique stores, but only one is left.  However, they have many craft shops as well as a few studios for artists.  We'll eat a wonderful lunch and then browse for a few hours.  Tonight, I'm going with Patty and her mother to the light display at Brookside Gardens.  It's a walking display, so we'll be able to go at our own pace and take photos without holding up a line of traffic.   I imagine that by the time I get home from that, I'll be exhausted and will fall into bed.

Tomorrow I'll start taking down the Christmas decorations.  Will do the outside ones first, as it's supposed to be fairly warm.  I'm ready to put all the wonderful Christmas stuff away for a year.  A month of them is enough for me!  It will mean a lot of trudging up and down the basement stairs, which is good, as I need more exercise.

My only New Year's resolution is to get more exercise.  I'll try walking by myself around the neighborhood or at a shopping mall.  I really hate indoor walking, but it's awfully cold in the winter to walk outside.  If walking isn't enough, I guess I'll sign up for the aerobic class at the senior center.  One way or another, I've got to get myself into better physical shape.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

after Christmas blahs

I really hate the week after Christmas, especially when I am at home rather than visiting Kate and family in England. So far the seasonal blues haven't set in, but I expect them anytime now.  We may have a snow storm today or tonight.  That would be a lovely distraction, as long as it isn't so bad that it closes roads and really messes up driving anywhere.  I love to sit inside and admire snow falling, as long as I don't have to go anywhere.  Andy (my ex) called last night.  They have snow down there in Hampton, VA.  That's surprising, as when I lived in that area, we almost never got snow, certainly not in December.  But then, that's true here in Maryland too.  December snows have been rare.  Funny how 'global warming' seems to be producing colder, snowier winters! 

Last night I went out to dinner with my friend, Lynne.  We ate at Friday's because it was open, whereas most places are closed on Christmas.  We even saved room for dessert.  I had cheesecake, one of my favorites.  It was nice to eat American food on Christmas for a change.  Usually we end up at Chinese or Indian restaurants because they are among the few open.  I splurged on steak and salmon and now have leftover steak to eat today.  I brought the french fries home too, but am not convinced that they will be fit to eat when reheated.  No great loss either way.

This ornament is my Christmas present from Lynne.  The design is created using reverse glass painting, done through a small hole in one end of the decoration.  I can't imagine how anyone could paint so beautifully using that technique.  Of course, I'm not a painter - far from it!  My hands work very well with clay, but put a paintbrush in them and the results are pretty bad! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Yesterday a friend and I had lunch at Applebee's.  The place was nearly deserted, so we didn't feel guilty because we sat and talked after eating.  We had steak and carefully left room for dessert. Sometimes it's nice just to meet a friend one on one, rather than in a group.

Last night the choir sang at our Christmas Eve service.  We (choir and congregation) sang about 8Christmas carols. The choir did a processional (we only do this once a year); sang three anthems and then walked to the back of the sanctuary while singing a really neat song which uses Silent Night as a counterpoint melody.  Cookies and cider and socializing afterward.  On the way home, I watched the moon with clouds drifting across the face.  It was a beautiful sight.  Wish I had been able to take a photo.  By the time I got home, the clouds were covering it completely.   All in all, it was a lovely evening. 

This morning I have spotted a half dozen snowflakes.  We may get a white Christmas after all.  I filled all the bird feeders this morning.  The way the birds eat, most of the seeds will be gone by tonight.  Anyone who talks about someone 'eating like a bird' hasn't watched birds eat.  They spend most of their time eating, except when they are chasing other birds away from the food!

Today I will be listening to various Christmas music presentation on the radio.  I can get two stations that play classical music, so have lots of wonderful seasonal music to enjoy.  Later I'll call some of my family and then go out to dinner with another friend.  Should be a good Christmas, despite being without visiting family.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and love.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas is coming

Yesterday, our choir sang a Christmas Cantata during the church service.  It replaced the sermon, which I think is a nice change.  Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the sermons, but I LOVE music and singing.  We'll be singing again Friday night at the Christmas Eve Service, but not providing the sermon.

After church, a friend invited me to have lunch with her at Vantage House, the continuous care building where she now lives.  The apartments there are really nice and amazingly large.  She has a grand piano in her living room!  Kitchens are very small, but since meals are provided, who needs a kitchen? The place has several lounging areas and a nice collection of books in their library on the first floor and outside the dining room as well.  The dining room has small tables and very comfortable chairs, and a waitress took our orders and brought our food.  The menu started with soup and salad and included dessert. It was interesting that the portions were small.  That suited me just fine, but I wonder if some of the men who live there would want more to eat.  The men I know would certainly have wanted larger servings.  I doubt if I'll ever move to a continuous care community, but in some ways it would be wonderful - no cooking, lots of books, no home repairs, transportation to local mall, etc. However, I have a LOT of stuff and don't think I could ever part with most of it.

I'm wishing I had gone to England this year for Christmas.  They got more snow a day or so ago, and are probably going to get more this week.  Amazing!  Southern England never gets this kind of weather in December.  I know my grandkids are delighted, especially the youngest one.  Kate is not as thrilled, I imagine, but I think she has done all the pre-Christmas errands and can just stay home and enjoy the thrill of a white Christmas.  I don't think we'll get one here this year, although there is a chance of snow on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

changed background

I've been playing around with different backgrounds for this blog.  I thought the book one was very appropriate.  It actually looks a lot like my basement rec room, which is lined with bookcases.  I'm not sure I will keep this background, however, as it seems a bit too busy.  What do you think?

This is the second posting for today.  If you want to see photos of our snow, go back to the previous blog.

snow scenes

We had a few inches of snow last night.  The roads were a bit nasty, but the drivers were worse!  I got stuck behind a woman who refused to go more than 15 MPH for a couple of miles.  There was a long line of frustrated drivers behind her when the road finally opened up and we could get around.  Of course, there was at least one example of the other kind of 'snow driver' - the one who zips around the line by using the turning lane and goes too fast for road conditions.  Maybe if we get a lot of snow this winter, Maryland drivers will learn how to drive in it.  Or maybe not!

This morning, the sunrise was lovely.  The snow on bushes looks so pretty.  I'd be happy if we this snow just stayed around for a few days.  Unfortunately, there may be another snowfall Saturday night/Sunday AM.  We'll see how it goes.  Weather predictions are often wrong.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

more pottery

Here are some pieces from my other pottery classes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Yesterday afternoon a strong wind came through and the temperature went down, down, down.  Brrrr.  However, it seems a bit warmer this AM - less wind.  We got a bit of snow, just a dusting.  Makes it look like winter outside.

Here are more photos of my latest pottery stuff.  I'll have to find a space to hang the mask up in the living room. I like having the masks where I can see them, rather than packed away.  The design on the vase was made by pressing some carved blocks into the slab of clay, before I made it into a round container.  The little guy in the barrel is a whimsical piece made when I was just fooling around.  The guy was naked, but he was embarrassed at being caught in his bath, so I added a towel around his waist.  I have no idea what I will do with him, but he was fun to make!

Monday, December 13, 2010

recent ceramics

We did a Raku firing Saturday.  I really like some of my pieces. The masks came out very well.  The little footed bowl is a lovely color. There are more photos, but I'll save those for another time.

We got a bit of snow this AM.  It melted on the sidewalk, but has left a nice dusting of the white stuff on my deck.  I sprinkled out a pit of food on the deck itself, for the Juncos and other ground-feeding birds.  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the squirrels came by first and pretty much vacuumed up all the seed.

I don't envy the folks in the Midwest where they really got hit with a storm.  A white Christmas is something to be enjoyed.  A storm with wind, icy roads and piles of snow is NOT what any of us want.  Well, actually the kids probably want something like that.  I remember how we used to hope for school closings. 

It's so nice being retired and able to just sit inside and enjoy snow, without having to go anywhere!  I do have a class to teach this afternoon, but the roads are fine. 

  I have to get my Christmas cards out this week.  I'm really behind this year.  At least I have the cards and the Xmas letters.  All that I need to do is put on addresses and stamps.

Guess I'd better get busy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

more Christmas decorations

 I showed my Christmas tree on Facebook, but forgot to put it up here.  You can see how skinny it is.  It's really loaded with decorations because the previous tree was much fatter.  I like this one, but it is a bit unstable.  I put it in a corner because I was afraid I'd bump it and knock it over if it was located out in the open.  I think next year I will secure the stand to a board to prevent tipping and allow me to put the tree where I can decorate all sides of it.  That way, I won't have to crowd the ornaments on the branches or (horrors!) get rid of some ornaments!

The other photo shows some old time Christmas postcards that I found in an antique store a couple of years ago.  I think they are charming and sentimental. The photo isn't very good - there is a reflection from the sun shining in the window above the door. 

I was supposed to be in southern Maryland this weekend, but I'm just too tired to travel.  My cold, which has mostly gone away, has left me exhausted.  My friend Deb and I were going to sell pottery at a craft show down there.  I was really looking forward to that, but just couldn't find the energy to go.  Yesterday, I stayed home,  napped in my recliner and read some 'not at all demanding' fiction.  Today, I plan to get the Xmas letter done and reproduced and buy Xmas cards, if I need more.  I always have leftovers from previous years.  I'd like to get the cards out next week. 

At least I don't have to buy many Xmas presents.  With the grandchildren overseas, it's not practical to send presents.  I'll take them shopping when I go over in February. It's too hard to know what to get them now that they are growing up, so money for shopping is best.  I've got presents for Kate and Geoff, which I will take with me.  That leaves just Steve and Christine to buy for.  I'll shop for them next week.  I used to love Christmas shopping, with the stores all decorated and carols playing.  I'm not sure I enjoy it anymore.  Maybe I'm getting too old!  Hopefully, when I actually go shopping I will get into the Christmas spirit.  It won't be long now - just three weeks!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A busy weekend

I started this weekend taking down and putting away all the fall decorations inside my house.  I think there were 4 boxes and two garbage bags full of stuff when I finished.  This included the orange and yellow glass items that were on the bakers' racks in the front window.  The next step was to get out the Christmas decorations.  I put red glass items on the racks in the window.  The morning sun shines through them and really sets them off.  Yesterday, I brought up 5 or maybe it was 6, boxes marked Xmas from the basement.  Managed to empty a couple of them, but two are still on the floor because they held tree ornaments as well as shelf and wall items.  Can't decide if I should take them back downstairs or just leave them in the living room until the tree is ready for decorations.  I have an artificial tree with branches that have to be put into it one at a time.  (It's a pain to set up and taking it down is even worse.)  I'm not sure I have a place for the tree this year, as the living room has been rearranged and a shelf unit added where the tree usually is.  I may try it between the bakers' racks in the bay window, but I'm afraid it is too fat for the space.  I'm thinking about buying one of those trees with lights and branches all attached.  Sure would be easier to put up and take down, but I'm not sure I can find one skinny enough.

So, at this point, I have the living room, minus the tree, decorated.  Still have the kitchen/dining room to do.  I don't decorate upstairs, thank goodness!  And I haven't done anything outside yet.  The fall scarecrow and gourds are still out there.  This week, if we get a warm day, I'll get the outside done.  I've been playing my Christmas CDs while I decorated, trying to get into the holiday spirit. I enjoy hearing the carols this time of year, but I know that by Christmas, I'll have had more than enough of them.

Yesterday, our church choir sang at a funeral for one of the members.  He was well-known and had a large family and many friends. The church was packed.  The service went on and on.  It was 2 hours before we sang and there was still more to come.  By that time, a couple of us had to use the facilities, so we slipped out after we sang and just went on home from there. 

Today, after church, the choir is going to sing at a nursing home where a former member now lives.  It will be a bit of a drive, but a fun thing to do.  At my former church, a group always went caroling at local nursing homes.  We did it at St John United (my current church) once some years back, but not recently.   I love to sing Christmas carols. The only problem with singing at nursing homes is that it's always very hot.  I guess that's because the older folks like it that way. As an older person, I admit that I had my heat turned up from when I had a cold, but turned it back to 68 today.  As long as I'm dressed warmly and keep moving around, I'm plenty warm.  When I sit down, I use a lap quilt to keep warm.  Maybe I'll start wearing gloves when I use the computer!  My hands are cold now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

some fall scenes

 This is a wreath I made from artificial flowers on sale at Michael's.  I had a different door decoration up this fall,but it was old and kept dropping bits onto the floor.  This one should last a few years.

This week is a rather busy one, although when I remember how frantic Thanksgiving week was when I was still gainfully employed, life today is very leisurely.  I decided to clean my oven today.  My oven was very dirty, as I didn't clean it all summer.  The process creates a lot of heat and is stinky, but isn't much work for me.  Luckily today is warm, so I've got the house open and a fan blowing the oven-cleaning smell out. If I were cooking a turkey, I would wait until after T-day, but since the dinner is at Patty's house this year, it's her oven that will get the most use.  I'll be baking a pumpkin pie or two and roasting some vegetables, but that's about all the cooking.  It's really nice to have three households sharing Thanksgiving.  No one has to do too much. I shopped today, and tomorrow I will bake the pies and make cranberry sauce.

 I took a few photos of the mums that are still in bloom in pots on the front steps.  The one on the deck is still just budded. I think the flowers will be yellow. If it blooms before a killing frost, I'll get a photo of that one too.

There was an interesting moon this AM.  I can't take photos of the moon at night, need a tripod for that, but I managed a pretty good shot of the morning moon.  Looks like a full moon to me, which usually means a cold night.  We'll see.

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and all the other special items that your family traditionally has.  When I was a kid, my mom always
fixed creamed onions.  I hated them!  (I hated most vegetables as a kid.)  Luckily, since it was Thanksgiving, I didn't have to eat any.  We usually had some of the neighbors over to share dinner.  One family always brought a very sour lemon sherbet to start the meal.  I wish I had the recipe.  It was wonderful!

The newspaper today had an article on how we should eat carefully and not eat too much on Thanksgiving.  What a downer!  Who wants to skip dessert and just eat fruit on Thanksgiving?  Not me!

                                                                HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

another great day

Such lovely weather we are having.  I love "Indian Summer", which is what we always called a warm spell after a frost.   I worked outside for a bit today, in shirt sleeves!  I've drained the hoses from the back yard; moved some empty pots off the deck and took down all the bird houses and summer decorations from the trellis and the pots.  I have a bunch of those little critters that you stick in your pots - rabbits, birds, squirrels, turtles.  Too bad they don't keep the actual critters, mostly squirrels, from digging in the pots.  Before winter sets in, I will move almost all the pots down to beneath the deck, but I only do a few at a time.  About half of them are still blooming - and not just the mums.  Some other flowers haven't been frosted.  The funniest one is a plant that I bought this summer up in Bath, NY.  It is a mum and didn't even set on buds this summer.  Today, when I read the tag, it said that it would bloom in late fall and that in places with a short summer, probably wouldn't bloom at all.  We certainly have long enough summers, but this is cutting it pretty close.  It has buds, but I figure it needs a couple more weeks before it blooms.  I can't imagine anyone in western NY could ever have it bloom, as they've already had a killing frost up there.  I also noticed that my re-blooming iris have buds. They too will have to hurry if they want to be fully open before cold weather sets in. 

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  Seems too soon.  Although, I noticed that all the stores have their Christmas things on display and have had for several weeks.  I'm really not quite ready for Christmas decorations, but I will start putting mine up next weekend.  I get them down right after New Year's, so they really aren't up all that long.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I'll be sharing food with my friend Patty and her mother.  This year it's at Patty's house, which is very convenient, as it's almost next door.  We buy a huge turkey so that we each have left-overs to pig out on for the next week! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

a slow week, I hope!

Last week was full of excitement as my new floors were installed.  I love them!  (Yeah, I did say that before.)  Hopefully, by the weekend, I will have some area rugs (currently at the cleaners) so that I won't be stepping out of bed onto a cold floor.  Meanwhile, my bedroom slippers live close by the bed.

My brother and sister-in-law arrived Sunday afternoon and left Monday AM - a whirlwind visit.  They went down to Lorton, VA to catch the auto-train to Florida where they spend the winter.  It was fun seeing them, even if very briefly, but I think I overdid it on the weekend, trying to get the house ready for their visit.  I'm back to being exhausted by late afternoon.  Just can't seem to shake off this cold.  Back in the day, when I was young, (even when I was middle-aged) my colds lasted less than a week.  These days, I never seem to get rid of them in less than 2 weeks!  Maturity (i.e., old age) is wonderful, isn't it? 

We've been having Indian Summer for the past week or so.  It's cold at night, but warms up into the 60s during the day.  Lots of sunshine, except for yesterday when it rained all day.  Today is mild, but breezy.  I look out the front door and see leaves blowing all over.  I've raked twice this fall, but expect to have to do it again soon.  No trees in my yard, but the wind brings me plenty of leaves from elsewhere!  I'd be delighted to get these leaves if I had room in my yard for a compost pile.  However, my yard is quite small, so the leaves are bagged up and put out for pickup.  Most of my flowers are still healthy, although the wax begonias and impatiens got nipped by the frosts.  Mostly what is blooming now are mums.  They can withstand a pretty good frost.  Most of them will finish blooming before the cold weather kills them.  I need to start moving pots off the deck down into the lower yard, under the deck.  I can keep perennials alive through the winter if I put them up against the house or under a glass door that makes a protected shelter for them.  There are a lot of pots to haul down the steps, as I put the empty pots down below as well.  Only a few evergreens stay on the deck for the winter and one or two really big pots that I cannot lift and carry down the steps.  Maybe this week, I'll start moving pots down.  If I'm careful and carry only a few each day, hopefully I won't mess up my back!

I'm rather bummed out just now about something that has happened to my Facebook page.  The 'owners' of Facebook have pulled the page and won't let me onto Facebook until I re-register, including providing them with a photo ID.  The implication is that a false name has been used to enter data on my page.  At least that's what I think they are saying.  Of course, there is no way to actually reach Facebook and ask them what happened.  I resent their implying that I did something wrong.  I'm guessing that someone hacked my page, but I really don't know.  It's most annoying, especially having to provide a photo ID.  I haven't done it yet, but I guess I will have to unless I want to just give up the page.  I don't get much real information about friends on Facebook,but I've gotten kind of addicted to it, so I suppose I'll have to get the mess straightened out.

Wow!  Just had an interesting experience.  I heard two thumps on my sliding door onto the deck.  I looked out to see what stupid bird hit the door twice and saw one of our neighborhood red-shouldered hawks on the deck just outside the door.  He flew off when he saw me, so I didn't get a chance to see if he had caught a bird or not.  He can eat house sparrows anytime, but I hope he didn't get a chickadee or titmouse.  I'm glad the hawk flew off, because I really hate it when he eats his dinner in my yard and leaves me a pile of feathers and bones to clean up!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

floors are done, finally

Three days of having workmen, speaking mostly Spanish, tromping up and down my stairs, in and out the door; dragging old flooring out and carrying new stuff in.  I never realized how much pounding there would be, mostly because they had to remove and then replace all the floor molding.  But, it's done now.  Hurray!  It looks beautiful - hurray again!  My part in all this, in addition to paying, was to pack away all the photos and little knick-knacks, and glassware from the hutch, so the guys could move the furniture.  I took down curtains and cleared out the floors of the closets as well.  And, of course, when each room was finished, I had to put everything back!  To add to the mix, I developed a nasty sore throat and drippy-nose cold the night before the 'party' started.  I spent a lot of time just sitting in a chair, sniffling and sneezing and trying to ignore all the commotion.  It was worth it, no doubt, but I'm very glad that I'll never need to do it again.

   First photo is the guest/sewing room. Second is the floor in my bedroom.  I have two area rugs, currently at the cleaners, which will go in the bedrooms near the beds.  I have discovered that the laminate floor is very COLD this time of year when one has bare feet!  My slippers live on the floor near my bed at night.  Last  photo is self-explanatory - stairs.  They are very soft and nice to walk on barefoot.  Third photo is self-explanatory - stairs.  The new carpet is very soft and feels good under bare feet.

Tom and Peggy (brother and sister-in-law) are arriving for a very brief visit tomorrow afternoon.  They will leave Monday AM to drive to Lorton, VA and board the AutoTrain to Florida.  It'll be nice to see them, albeit briefly.  However, the timing of the visit with the flooring and my cold is not exactly optimal.  Not that I could have done anything to keep from catching a cold.  And I'm glad they get to see the new floors.  (They very seldom come down to see me.  Mostly they go to our other brother's place or I go up to NY State).  Today and tomorrow I will be doing a bit more cleaning, now that the workmen are no longer tracking leaves and dust into the house.  The upstairs is clean, so it's just the living room that needs attention.

Random thoughts:  I didn't realize how dirty the sides of my stove were until it was pulled out from the cabinets.  Yeuch!  It was embarrassingly dirty.  It's clean now. I didn't realize how easy it is to remove the top part of the hutch in the dining room.  Two little screws are all that hold the top and bottom together.  Beds slide around more on smooth floors.  I did know this, but hadn't figured out what to do about it.  I guess I'll invest in some rubber thingies that go under legs.  I have them in the living room for the chairs and couch.  Just need a few more for the beds. 

There is something making a whistling noise in my house.  I think it's in the basement, but I don't know what it is.  Perhaps the smoke alarm makes a whistle when the battery is low?  It isn't beeping or chirping, which is what the ones in my last house did.  These are hard wired into the electrical system, but they also have a back-up battery.  Guess I'd better go downstairs and check on the one in the basement.  That's where the sound is the loudest.  Ah, the joys of home ownership!

Friday, November 5, 2010

more pottery

 I've already posted photos of these pieces on Face Book, but I'll put them up here for those who read this but aren't on Face Book. I'm not sure if there is anyone in that category, but I"m pleased with these pieces, so am glad to show them off again!  As you may know, I am involved in three pottery classes a week.  One of these I teach, but I still sometimes have time to fool around with clay myself.  The others are where I am a student.  I love being with other potters and being inspired by what they are doing.  We all learn a lot from each other.  The teachers pretty much let us 'old timers' work on our own, but they are there to answer questions and help if we need it.  These two pots were built using coils.  It's a rather slow process, compared to throwing on a wheel, but I enjoy it.  I"m still learning how to get the sides smooth, rather than having the coils show.  I like pots either way.  These two were made with high fire clay and fired in a gas kiln.  I've not used these glazes before, so I was pretty much guessing how they would turn out.  We do have test tiles for each glaze, but they aren't always accurate.  This blue and brown one really surprised me.  I thought it would be just one color.  Instead I got this really great effect.  The other glaze had a celadon base, so I expected something in green.  I knew the glaze would run and it certainly did!  I really like what it did and will probably try it again.

Ok, enough about pottery.  I know it's boring when someone gets on her hobby horse.  There hasn't been a lot happening lately in my life lately.  Next week will be the bad/good one.  For three days the floor team will be tearing up my floors and putting down new ones.  Kitchen/dining room; bedrooms; master bath; stairs and hall will all get new floor coverings.  The house will be in disarray from Tuesday night when I start moving small stuff out of the dining room until Friday night when they finish. (Actually until Saturday when I get all the stuff back in place.)  The floor people will move the furniture, but I have a whole lot of small, breakable stuff that I will have to move.  Can't say I am looking forward to that.  Especially NOT looking forward to putting it all back.  Kate would say that this is a wonderful opportunity to cull the items and get rid of some.  She also would know me well enough to realize that I'm not likely to do that!  I love my stuff and don't want to get rid of most of it.  So, I have to deal with it.

We had a very rainy day yesterday.  I was inside all day - at the gift shop and then just staying home.  I've been feeling very tired lately, so it was nice to spend the afternoon and evening just relaxing and reading at home.  (I even skipped choir!)  This morning, when I went downstairs to do laundry, I noticed a stain on the floor of my studio (concrete unfinished floor) that looked as if some water had spilled.  I could not find the source.  The floor was dry, so it had not just happened.  I"m not down there every day, but I'm guessing that the rain had something to do with it.  Except. I could not find any evidence of water coming in from anywhere.  There is a drain pipe that comes up from the floor, put in when the house was built so that the room could be made into a bathroom.  The drain appears to be covered, but I wonder if water did come through there.  I'll have to check on that the next time it rains.  Anyhow, no damage was done, but I would like to know what happened.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

more ceramics

 Here are the rest of the ceramic items that were Raku fired on Sunday.  I really like this pot.  I pressed and carved designs in rows around the outside.  When I glazed, I used three different glazes on the rows.  Raku glaze doesn't run during firing, as do many other glazes, so it's possible to put two different glazes side by side and have them stay that way.  This pot was made using coils.

The little bowls are all pinch pots.   This is the simplest way to work with clay.  You take a ball of clay that fits into the palm of your hand and pinch and pull up the sides as you turn the bowl around.  I like to keep the bottom round and add legs, but you can flatten it easily, instead.  I added some clay decorations to some of theses little bowls. I hope to sell them at a makers' market in southern Maryland in December.

I took the Halloween decorations down last evening and put them back into storage in the basement.  I won't have to do anything more with decor, inside or out until after Thanksgiving when the Christmas decorations go up.  That will be a big chore, as there are LOTS and LOTS of Christmas items.  I seem unable to resist buying more each year.  Help - I'm addicted to home decor stuff!  This year I'm staying home, rather than going to England, so I will even put up a tree, although I'm not sure where I'll put it.  My living room is a bit full.  I'm sure I'll find room for all the things, including the tree.  I'm really glad I have almost a month before I have to do all that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

Yesterday, we did a Raku firing at the Montpelier Arts Center, where I take a ceramics class.  Some of my pieces are definitely Halloweenish, as you can see. The colors aren't quite true in the photos, but you can get the idea.   I think of this pair as female and male wolves.  The moose has a rather odd finish, but I kinda like him.  Then there is 'Oh Deer'.  I was aiming for a deer, but got something that might be a kangaroo or a coyote. There are also some pots, which I will show the next blog.

I got home too late for trick or treaters, which was fine by me.  I was exhausted.  There was some lifting of a kiln lid - VERY HEAVY - which made my neck and back ache.  I came home, took a hot bath and went to bed!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gourds and quilt

 I found these interesting gourds at a vegetable stand in New Jersey.  To me, they look like a gaggle of geese.  The bowl is also a gourd.  I got that one on sale at our local birding store a few weeks ago.

The other photo is the beginning of a quilt that I am trying to produce.  I picked out the fabric this summer at my favorite fabric shop in Hammondsport, NY.  Kate was with me and helped figure out how much to buy.  This week, when I was stuck at home with no car, I finally finished cutting the pieces.  Now I'll be arranging and re-arranging them until I find a pleasing pattern.   I do not like the one pictured - too much emphasis on the green.  Since I am a novice quilter, the quilt will probably not be finished until I go to visit Kate in February.  I might get the pieces stitched together, but will want Kate to advise me and remind me of the steps as I go along.  Meanwhile, I'll have fun playing with the pieces.
I finally got my car yesterday AM.  The problem was a strange one.  It seems that there is a heater in the back of the mini-van.  I never turned it on, as no one ever sat there.  However, it may have been on from this summer.  The kids sat back there and fooled around with all the heat and A/C controls and I never thought to check on that.  Anyway the pipes for the heat back there had rusted or corroded and the heat was, I think, getting into the engine.  Anyway, it caused the heat gauge to register very hot.  It would have cost $600 for the part, plus labor to fix this.  So, I just asked the mechanic to remove the whole thing.  Since no one rides back there, I don't need a heater in the back.  The cost was significantly less to just remove it.  It's good to have transportation again.  I was going a little stir crazy.  I can walk to the post office and grocery store, but that's about all.  Bus comes once an hour to either Columbia Mall or Laurel Mall.  So, it's not as if I'm really trapped at home.  However, it's good to have wheels again.

In November, I am getting new floors.  Vinyl in the kitchen and master bathroom.  Laminate in bedrooms.  New carpet for the stairs and upstairs hall.  I shudder to think about having to box up all the stuff that is on shelves and dressers.  I'll take photos of the work in progress.  The installers will be here for 3 days, week after next.

Monday, October 25, 2010

trip to New Jersey

I drove up to north western N J to visit a college friend.  She lives in a very small town - they have a post office, but nothing else except about a dozen homes.  Her house was built in the 1940s, I think, but has an open floor plan, which surely was unusual for the times.  The area is very rural - the view out the back is of a dairy farm.  The countryside is so beautiful, especially with the fall leaves.  We ate out twice and spent Saturday browsing around in antique/junk shops in a nearby town.  I had a great time and, amazingly, managed not to buy anything!  It must have been my friend's influence, as on the way home, I stopped at another store and did buy two cheap items - some old buttons and a child's rake.

The drive up was not too bad, as I could enjoy the fall colors while I sat in stop and go traffic on the Baltimore beltway Friday AM.  The drive home had no bad traffic and was fine until just south of Harrisburg, PA when I noticed that the temperature gauge was reading above the HOT mark!  I pulled off at the next exit and added some coolant, as there appeared to be none in the overflow box.  I waited a bit and went back on the road.  Almost immediately, the gauge went back up, all the way.  So, I pulled off again and considered my options.  I called my brother Tom for his advice.  He said it might be the thermostat, and advised me to call AAA and get a tow.  I did that and rode all the way to Laurel in the cab of a tow truck.  I never realized how high up those cabs are!  You can see way over the traffic, but the ride was very rough.  My car is at the garage now and I'm waiting for the owner to call me and tell me how much this repair will cost!  At least the tow was free!  Thank goodness for AAA.
View from the car along one of the back roads.

 Looking across the valley.
 This lake is just a short walk down the road.
This is an old, abandoned mill at the end of the lake.

Friday, October 15, 2010

dinner and a show

 This wreath is hanging on my front door.  The scarecrow is in the front yard.  The birdcage with the little owls in it, is in the living room.  I bought the birdcage at a yard sale last weekend.  Saw these owls at Michael's and couldn't resist them.

Today the weather is beautiful.  I'm hoping to get outside for a walk sometime later.  The leaves are beginning to turn red and gold.  Trees behind my house don't get very colorful, but others in the neighborhood do.  Maybe I'll get some pix when I go walking.

Last night, a friend and I went to see "Rent" at Toby's Dinner Theatre.  ( We had free tickets compliments of my granddaughter, Olivia.  She won them while she was visiting this summer, but didn't have a chance to use them, so I got them.)  When I called to make the reservations, the ticket seller asked me if I knew what the show was about.  I guess I seemed uncertain, because she proceeded to tell me that it included scenes about AIDS, homosexuality, dying, profanity, sexually suggestive dancing and more.  I had to chuckle, as I told her that although I am an old lady, I am not offended by those things!

It was an interesting show.  Unfortunately, as usual at Toby's, the background music was so loud, that I missed some of the lyrics.  Most, although not all, of the show was sung.  The female lead, who was the waitress at our table, had an amazing voice - a huge range and very expressive.  Interestingly, her spoken voice was nothing like her singing voice.  I really liked the music, despite it being loud.  Luckily I had left my hearing aids at home.  The dancing was incredible - lots of running and jumping on and off props.  And those dancers could do things to their bodies that made me shudder.  How can they  jump and stretch and contort themselves while they are singing?  Of course most of them were young, but I couldn't have done that when I was young!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

a great day for yard sales

I went visiting local yard sales today.  The sun was shining, although it was chilly when I started out.  An hour later, I had taken the jacket off; when I got home at noon, I changed into shorts!  Anyway, I got a lot of stuff and it was all very cheap.  Sometimes people at yard sales price things too high, but all these folks had stuff priced to SELL!  And I bought!  I got some Halloween and some Christmas decorations - mostly outdoor ones for Halloween.  One sale was at a church and they also had FOOD.  Delicious brownies and I think from the wonderful odors, really good soup, too.  Unfortunately it was still morning when I was there, and I didn't get back there for lunch. Need I say that I ate the brownies before I got home? 

Among the items I came home with is a stack of plastic interlocking shelf things - each one 8x11.  I now have 4 blue shelves and 3 red ones - perfect in my kitchen.  I'm hoping that I can get myself better organized and eliminate some of the mess on my kitchen counter and buffet.  Wish me luck - I'm going to start on reorganizing as soon as I finish this blog.  And speaking of my kitchen, I'm getting an estimate today on replacing the old vinyl flooring.  The one I have picked is a fairly dark gray, made to resemble stone.  When the floor is installed, I'll take a photo.

 The first photo is, Halloween and fall stuff.  I also have some outdoor stuff that I didn't photo.  I'll do that later when the yard decorations are all up.  The gourd is really big - over a foot long.  I have no idea what to do with it, but I just couldn't resist.  The wood bird cage is another one of those irresistible things.  I already have a place in mind to hang it and a paper mache bird to put in it.  The Xmas stuff is packed away until December.  And yes, I know that I don't need any more mugs - even Christmas ones.  But, it was only 50 cents!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Raku firing

Last night we did a Raku firing at my ceramics class.  I LOVE Raku.  The results are always somewhat of a surprise.  The process has some moments of worry - imagine using tongs (and asbestos gloves) to life a red hot object from the kiln to a barrel filled with straw.  The lion mask was the tricky one.  I needed two tongs (one in each hand) to lift it, but I didn't drop it, so all was well.  The firing ran late, as it always does, and it was 10:30 when I got home.  Then I had to shower because my clothes and my hair smelled like smoke, from the straw in the barrels which ignites when the hot piece is put in. Anyway, it was midnight by the time I was wound down enough to go to bed.  Of course, this morning, when I wanted to sleep in, I woke up at 5:30 and finally got up at 6.  I'll be ready for bed tonight, that's for sure.

Note:  there is only one vase, but I am showing two sides, as each is different.  I used 5 glazes on it.  The unglazed parts are the gray sections.  I really like this vase.  It's different from my usual decorating.  I often carve designs in my vases.  This time, I added the decorative pieces after construction.