Saturday, January 30, 2010


It is now 5:30 PM and it has been snowing since about mid-morning. I think it has slowed down now, but maybe I just can't see it as it is getting dark outside. I was out there a bit ago, shoveling sidewalks. The snow is very light, but my shovel is HEAVY! I bought a really good one last year (never used it) when the lightweight one I had got all bent. Anyway, I've gotten my aerobic exercise for today. It's about 15 degrees F outside - brrr. My hands were aching after being out there only about 20 minutes.

I took a couple of quick snapshots. At that point we had about 6 inches. The weird photo shows a couple of tree branches and my car. All you can see is the license plate! So far, the roads have not been plowed in my neighborhood, but the snow isn't really hazardous, as long as one is careful. I wish I could skip church tomorrow, but I have to set up for coffee hour. Anyway, by then the roads will be plowed, so all I will have to do is clean off my car, I hope.

a fun gadget

I now have a GPS for my car. I bought it from a friend who was upgrading. Recently, she showed me how to use it and I tried it out yesterday, programming it for a place that I already knew how to get to. It was interesting to see how it directed me - wanted me to go south through the center of town, with lots of traffic lights, rather than take the highway a bit north of where I live. I know that the route the GPS suggested was shorter in distance, but it would have been slower and certainly more aggravating. I ignored the suggestion and went my way. As soon as I turned the "wrong" direction, the GPS recalculated and found the route I planned to use. So it did work the way it should. I'm sure there are tricks to using it that I don't know. No paperwork came with the unit, but my friend says I can go online and read the operating manual. Maybe I'll do that today. We are supposed to have rain/snow today, so I plan to stay at home. So far (8:20 AM) it is cloudy, but nothing is falling from the sky. I would enjoy a bit of the white stuff, but I'm sure that working folks who have many things to do on Saturdays would NOT agree with me. It's nice being retired!

Jill (the temporary cat) was dropped off yesterday around noon. She went to her usual hiding place, under the bed in the guest room. However, when I came back from lunch (and shopping), I had to drag her out to give her a pill. This is quite a traumatic thing, both for her and for me. However, I succeeded and she forgave me quickly. A bit later, she came downstairs to check out the living room. I sat in my recliner and watched her patrol the room, looking under each piece of furniture and squirming her way behind the couch. She tried out both a chair and the couch to see if they suited her as places to nap. She also came up, briefly onto the footrest of my chair, but wouldn't stay or sit in my lap. I think she was looking to see if she could find Lynne, although why she thought Lynne might be behind the couch, I can't imagine. LOL Maybe she was just hoping to find something interesting, like a house or a cricket. (Sorry, Jill, I haven't had either one recently.) Anyway, Jill seems resigned to being here and not too unhappy about it. At least she didn't come banging on my bedroom door last night, like she did during her first visit to my house. She is still under the bed this morning, but I'm not surprised. Lynne is not an early riser and Jill is probably used to sleeping in. When she wakes up, I'll have to force another pill down her throat, but after that we should be ok.

Yesterday, I did my bit for the economy - i.e. - I went shopping. Macy's was having a clearance sale and for once, they actually had all the sale (75% off) items on separate racks, clearly marked. I didn't really NEED anything, but I cannot resist a real bargain. I ended up with a cardigan, a lightweight jacket, trousers, and three knit shirts for less than $90. Pretty good deal, I think! What I need to do now is go through my winter clothes and discard the items that I haven't worn in several years. I'm really bad about keeping way too much in the way of clothes. Somehow, I just can't bring myself to discard something that is still perfectly good, but just never gets worn. That is probably why I have three chests of drawers and three full size closets full of clothes! Time to donate to thrift shops!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

this and that

On her blog,, Pat suggested we post our fifth picture in the fifth folder from 2005. This is mine. My daughter Kate and the three grandkids on holiday in Ireland. You can tell from this picture that Olivia is the extrovert in that group!

This morning when I sat down to breakfast at 7, it was pitch black outside. However, that didn't seem to matter to a crazy little bird (probably a wren) who was chirping away from somewhere on my deck! I guess he/she wanted me to put some more food out, although wrens don't usually come to the feeders. They like insects, but must eat something else, as there aren't many bugs around in January!

My car is fixed - hopefully for good this time. Of course, there are many other parts that can (and no doubt will) wear out in the next few years. It's a 2001 model, that I hope to keep for 2 more years. We'll see. Because of the scare last week, I have considered a few new car models. I hope in a few years, there will be many more small SUVs with better gas mileage.

As you may know, I am participating in an ATC (artist trading card) birthday swap, set up by Kate. Each member sends an ATC to whoever is having a birthday each month. February had 5 birthday members! I had a bit of a problem mailing mine. I had the ATCs in little boxes because they are somewhat fragile. The post office clerks recommended that I put them into padded envelopes, because the boxes were too small and might easily get lost. Hopefully, the one I sent in January will arrive safely. From now on, I will use the envelopes. My birthday is in March and I am eagerly awaiting a flood of ATCs coming to me.

I'm going to have a cat visiting this weekend. My friend, Lynne, is going down to the shore for a few days and Jill (her cat) will stay with me. I don't mind keeping her, except for having to give her a pill every day. She's actually pretty good about taking it, but still it's a bit complicated. Last time Jill stayed here, she didn't leave the upstairs for the first day. Perhaps this time, she will remember the house and come downstairs to visit me every day.

Yesterday, I booked a trip to Florida in March. My brother and sister-in-law (Tom and Peggy) are down there for the winter and they always encourage me to visit them. I had about decided not to go this year, as my 'working' schedule interferes with my travel plans. Also, I was not finding any cheap fares. However, I had better luck yesterday searching for fares, and since I don't have to buy a new car, I will celebrate by spending a week in sunny Florida. It hasn't been all that warm down there so far this winter, but I'm sure that by March it will be delightful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I was up early this AM, so was able to watch the sun rise. Wasn't much to see out front (east), but in the back, the sun was hitting just the tops of the trees, turning them a golden orange. Worth a photo, I thought.

Not much happening recently. This is actually good. I've had enough excitement, especially those involving my car! It goes into the shop tomorrow to get the leak fixed, once and for all, I hope!
Our weather seems to be back to normal for January, although it is still warmer than we usually have this time of year. Had a lot of rain yesterday and the creek behind the house was very high. It's very impressive after a hard rain. I didn't get a photo this time, as I have many such photos, tucked away somewhere on my hard drive or on Flickr.

I finally got the ATCs for February made. Not yet posted. I need to get them into the mail, as they are going to Australia, UK, Netherlands as well as places in the US. These on-line swaps have participants from all over. There are 5 February birthdays. The way the swap works is that each participant makes artist's trading cards and sends one to each birthday person in the month of her(or his) birthday. I am trying to make my cards reflect something about the month. This is a little tricky, however, because in Australia it is summer, going into fall in a month or so. So, I didn't send a snowy card for February to Australia, but concentrated on Valentine's Day. My birthday is in early March. I'm really looking forward to receiving my share of ATCs next month. It's like getting a whole month of presents - one at a time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Found: one leak in car - thank goodness!

I never thought I would be thankful to see a puddle of coolant under my car this morning, but believe me, I was! Tuesday afternoon, my mechanic had looked at my car, for the second or third time, trying to pinpoint why I keep running out of coolant. They couldn't find a leak, but they put some stuff into the system that should fill any pinhole leaks. He said that if it still used up coolant, then maybe the coolant was getting into the engine and burning off and if so, the cost of repair (taking engine out, or something like that) would be exorbitant and not worth it on a car that was 9 years old. Yesterday, when I found an empty overflow container again, I called and was told to bring the car in today for one more try to find a leak. The ground under the car was wet, so I couldn't tell if there had been a leak or not. But, last night I reversed the car into my parking space, in order to have clean pavement under the engine. This morning, I found a puddle of coolant running out from under the car. Hurrah! There really is a leak! I took the car in this morning and they found the leak. Can't fix it until next week, but I can drive it as long as I remember to put more coolant in every day. I am so relieved. I really did NOT want to shop for a new car just now. I'm hoping this car will last a couple more years. Hopefully, this will be the last major trouble with the car, but I won't bet on it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

it's back - winter, that is

I knew it couldn't last - that lovely out-of-season spring weather. Oh well, it was delightful for a couple of days. Frost on the windshields this morning - brrrr. At least my car heater is working, I hope.

I knew there was something I wanted to blog about and had forgotten. This is about the ceramics class for seniors that I teach every Monday afternoon. This week was the start of a new session and I was expecting three returning students and one new person. The regulars all showed up, but instead of one new person, there were four!! And, what wonderful students these ladies are. They are full of enthusiasm and just bubbling over with how much they enjoy playing with clay. I believe one of them has prior experience, but not recently. I started them off with pinch pots, which are very simple bowls made from a ball of clay. This is a good way to get the feel of working with clay. Then I showed them what equipment and glazes we have for them to use, talked about the process and let them look at some books and catalogs for ideas of what they might want to make next week. They just lapped up all the information and said they were looking forward to next week. What fun it was to work with them!

My regular students are wonderful women, very talented and I really enjoy being with them. They are friends, more than students, as they don't need much assistance from me. They have been in class long enough to know what they want to do and to work independently. Sometimes, I bring in something different and offer a tutorial, but mostly I'm just there to answer questions. Having four new students means that I will actually be teaching every week. This will be a challenge to me, as I've gotten a bit lazy, but also it will be fun.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a taste of spring

Yesterday the high temperature was 55 F! How about that? Today isn't quite as warm, but still delightful. I've been taking advantage of the lovely weather and getting outside. Yesterday, I walked to the supermarket and back - about 3 miles round trip. (Today my legs are sore. I can tell I haven't been walking much recently). Today, rather than another hike, I trimmed some of the dead plants in the front yard. I like to leave the stalks that have seeds on them all winter, hoping that the goldfinches and other small birds will come and dine. However, I had a number of other dead plants that needed trimming. Things look a bit neater out there now. I think these two warm days are all we are going to get just now. Supposed to be a lot colder by Friday. After all, it is January!

Nothing exciting happening just now. in my life, for which I am thankful. I think my car still has a leak in the coolant system. I'm not sure, but today I backed the car into my parking place, so that I have clean pavement under the front. Tomorrow, if I remember to look, I should be able to see if it's still leaking. I really don't want to have to replace the radiator or whatever, but don't know how long I can safely keep driving with just refilling the radiator every week. I have been planning to keep this car another year or two, but it keeps on having problems and I'm having second thoughts. Still, it's cheaper to keep repairing this one than buying a new one. Decisions, decisions. I'm not good at deciding to spend large amounts of money, now that I am retired. I still haven't bought a new computer, which is not really a large amount of money, compared to the cost of a new car!! I guess I'd better buy the computer and other things (like hearing aids) before I have to buy a car. Car payments will really put a dent in my budget.

Enough complaining. The weather has been lovely and most things in my life are going well. I'm just glad to be retired and healthy, with lots of interesting things to do with my time.

Monday, January 18, 2010


What was I thinking on Saturday, when at 5 PM I started re-arranging the living room furniture? Since I was going out to dinner at 6:30, this was NOT the best time to start pushing furniture around. I did manage to get the big pieces in new places, but re-positioning all the little end tables and floor stuff (basket w/magazines, box with crossword puzzle books, wastebasket, etc.) wasn't done until later that evening. I did finally get everything into place, although some piles of books and magazines were still on the couch Sunday AM. The biggest advantage of this new arrangement is that the couch is now against the wall. When it was freestanding, it slid every time anyone sat in it. My fake wood floor is a bit slippery, and despite having rubber thingies on its feet, the couch slides. Now, it has nowhere to go! My recliner is in a new position, which means that when I sit in it and look up from my book, I am seeing the front wall, rather than the back. Nice to have a different view.

This is the wall with the winter arrangements. The masks are mine, except for the black cat head.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

art show

Last night was the reception for the "all hung" art show at Montpelier Arts Center. My friend Lynne and I each had a work of art hung there. mine, pictured above, is entitled "The Old Roue" because when I look at this mask, I see a sly old man who has had many love affairs. He's almost winking to me.

Some mutual friends were there and we enjoyed wandering around and critiquing other people's art. This show was open to anyone in Maryland, Northern Virginia or DC who took something in on a specific day. There were 130 entries! Of course, since it was open to amateurs, some of the works were not of best quality. There were a few items that really appealed to me, but I'm not about to buy more art. My walls are way too full already. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos of anything except our own items. The exhibit stays up until the end of January.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

an uneventful week

I haven't blogged in almost a week because, although I've been busy, nothing of note has happened recently. I am not complaining about this. I rather like uneventful weeks. Mostly I've been getting caught up with 'business' matters that piled up during my 3 week holiday. I've been doing such interesting and fun things (NOT!) as balancing my checkbook, checking my credit card statements, and calling companies to resolve issues, etc.

Yesterday was a bit different. The heater in my car has been acting really strange recently. I thought it was maybe just because it's been so cold for weeks now, but I went ahead and made an appointment to take the car in on Wednesday afternoon. It's a good thing I did because, when I checked the level of the coolant, it was down to nothing in the visible container under the hood. It should have been close to the full mark. Leakage in the supposedly sealed coolant system has been a problem before. The garage hasn't found a leak, but I'm losing coolant somewhere. This time, they put some kind of sealant into the system. If there are pinholes in the line, this will fill them (or so they say). Evidently, adding coolant has fixed most of the heater problems. Yesterday when I picked up the car, the heater was working very well. There still isn't much, if any, heat on the floor on the driver's side, but they can't fix that. It's not the thermostat. Lots of heat on the passenger side floor. Too bad I can't drive from that side! LOL Anyway, the car is much warmer now and I'll just have to check the coolant level every few days and see if it goes down. I hope I can remember to do this. I tend not to remember that kind of thing, when it comes to my car. Oh well, at least it is working pretty well now. They can't fix the lack of heat by my feet, so I will continue to wear my snow boots in the car.

After I dropped my car off at the shop, I rode the bus home. It's only a few miles and the bus drops me off very near my street, but still I was concerned about having to wait in the cold for the bus. The bus only comes once an hour, so I go out early, to ensure that I will be there when the bus arrives. It often comes early, if there are no passengers waiting at previous stops. Luckily, yesterday in the early afternoon, the sun was shining and the temperatures felt warm. (They were actually only in the high 30s, but compared to what we've been having, that WAS warm.) I waited about 20 minutes outside, but didn't even feel cold. Today is sunny also. I'll be inside, however, at the hospital gift shop, so I won't care one way or the other.

Friday, January 8, 2010

a bit of snow

We got maybe two inches of snow last night. Nothing to rival the BIG SNOW in December, of course. This snow is light and fluffy. Looks lovely and is easy to sweep off sidewalks and cars. This is my favorite kind of snow and no doubt many adults would agree with me. Kids and other sledders and skiers no doubt preferred the other storm. Anyway, I took a few photos of the back deck and trees by the stream and a couple out front. As you can see, it's a beautiful sunny day with blue skies. It didn't even feel very cold outside, probably because there wasn't much wind. It's supposed to get
even colder with more wind, so I'll be glad to be inside today.

Finally saw photos on Kate's blog Didn't look as if they got much snow, but it was still coming down when she took those photos on Wednesday. Anyway, the kids were thrilled.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Another cold, windy day. At least the sun is shining. I will be inside mostly - at the hospital gift shop. Wouldn't want to be outside. Yesterday, I actually braved the cold and took down the outdoor lights and other decorations. (At the moment, I have piles of lights and extension cords in my living room). Luckily I didn't have to be outside for long. The fake poinsettias stuck in the flower beds and pots will have to wait for a warmer day. They are frozen into the ground!

Yesterday, I submitted one of my masks to be hung in a show at Montpelier Arts Center. It had to be in a shadow box and this requirement caused some problems. I found a box, half price at Michaels, but the little thingy on the back was not secure enough for hanging the box and mask on the wall. I finally put screw eyes on each side of the box with a wire between them. It was tricky because the frame is very narrow, but I trust that it will hold. The reception is January 15. Hopefully, some of my friends will attend. Another friend, Lynne, has also submitted something - a photograph. This show is an 'all hung' which means that everything submitted yesterday will be hung. It's mostly paintings and photographs, of course. It's really neat to have a work of mine actually on display. Once the display is open, I'll post a photo of me standing near the mask.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a bargain

I don't usually shop in WalMart, but yesterday I was there getting a prescription filled and had to wait 30 minutes for it, so I wandered around the store. (Generic drugs are very cheap at WalMart and it's much faster than the mail order service from 'the Blues.') Anyway, I stumbled across the fabric department and found fat quarters for only $1.00!! I suppose the quality of the fabric isn't the best (made in China), but for my purposes, it will be fine. Always fun to find a bargain.

The other photos show some of my latest ceramic pieces. I'm not happy with most of the glazes offered at the Columbia studio. The blue and brown combination is a good one, but the greens are not what I want. I think I will concentrate on masks and suchlike, rather than actual bowls and vases for a while. I made two masks yesterday, but they will have to dry and be cleaned up a bit and then be fired and glazed and fired again, so it will be weeks before I can show them.

Another cold day, today. I know it is winter and we should expect cold weather, but I really want to get my outdoor Christmas decorations down and packed away. The wind is still blowing a good deal, as I can see from watching my decorative flags, flapping and swirling around. I am SO GLAD that I bought a nice warm winter coat in December. It's been wonderful, especially as the heater in my car takes far too long to produce heat. Frequently, I am at my destination by the time there is heat. Today, I will wear not only my warm coat, but also my new boots. My feet are always cold, it seems. Today, I think I will be warm in the car!

Monday, January 4, 2010


I should know better than to go shopping when the after Christmas sales are on. Who can resist items that are 50 or 70 percent off? Not me! I had to get a new battery for my wrist watch, so I went to Penneys where I bought the watch. They couldn't do it right away, so the clerk asked me to come back in an hour. Could I spend an hour in the mall? Silly question! I needed new snow boots because the ones I wore in England for three weeks had developed splits in the fabric. (They are at least 10 years old.) I had patched them with duct tape (wonderful stuff), but the result is rather odd looking. Anyway, there wasn't much choice in snow boots, since we did have a huge snow before Christmas, but I'm not fussy about boots, so I found a pair, marked down from $100 to just $34! I LOVE bargains! Then I went wandering around the mall, poking into stores I never shop at - Ann Taylor, Chico's, Lord and Taylor's - and checking out all the bargains in the less expensive department stores. I resisted pretty well, until I hit the sales at Macy's. I ended up with slacks and zippered top in a lovely dark blue-grey. Here's the funny thing: they are advertised as being slimming, especially in the stomach. What they have is a stretch panel all around the waist. It looks just like the maternity trousers we used to wear about 40 years ago! No kidding! Luckily the top covers that panel. They are very comfortable, but I can't see that my stomach looks any flatter. Oh well, that's not really important these days. They were a bargain and I'll enjoy wearing them.

After I picked up my watch, I could have gone on home, but I needed to return a book to Target, which just happens to be in the same shopping center as JoAnn's. Need I say more? All Christmas stuff was on sale at 70 percent off. And notions and thread were also on sale - 50 percent off. Oh yes, and I stopped at Michael's along the way and picked up a few items there as well. In my house, after the holidays, I display black and white pottery and decorative items in silver. It's a nice change from all that green and red. So I got a few silver leafy stalks and some birdhouses for inside use only. And, I bought buttons and thread for future projects, like the ATC swap I'm participating in this year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

change of plans

I was all dressed up for church (not that I really dress up for anything these days), planning to have lunch with friends at the Mall and do some shopping afterwards. I went outside and guess what? my car wouldn't start. Actually, I had a bit of trouble starting it yesterday, but then it ran fine, so I didn't think anything about it. Today - dead battery. That battery is the original - 9 years old! I can't complain that I didn't get my money's worth from it! I called AAA and they are here now, replacing the battery. I am missing church, but I can still get all my errands done, assuming that the only problem is the battery. I'll soon find out. The AAA guy has closed up the hood and is in his truck, hopefully he is writing up the bill. Yep! All is well. I'm off to run errands.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

London Lights

Bakery windows.

Department store window, with Kate and Alex hurrying past.

Lights, high about the streets.

Here are some photos of the lights in London, after Christmas. Only a couple of the stores still had Christmas window displays, which was disappointing. However, we did get a few pictures. We walked all along two main shopping streets (Bond St. and another), then into SoHo, to Trefalger Square to see the Christmas tree and into Chinatown, where my camera quit. Kate has some good photos of the street decorations in Chinatown, probably not yet available in flickr.

Friday, January 1, 2010

another book review

I was just re-reading my last blog and decided that I should say something more about Mary Wesley's books. They aren't full of sex scenes, like many modern romances. Her books aren't romances at all. The characters are mostly not particularly pleasant or beautiful. Many unpleasant things happen, although the two I read did have 'happy endings'. (I find enough unpleasant stories in the newspapers, so when I read for pleasure, I want happy endings.) Anyway, I will read more Mary Wesley books the next time I go to Kate's.

Here is a book that I took with me and read on the plane coming home. The trip was VERY LONG and boring. I read three books - two of which were good and one which will be discarded (to thrift store), as it was really stupid. The best one is called 'The Wedding Officer' by Anthony Capella. It wasn't at all what I expected from the title. (I thought it was just another romance.) It is a romance, or rather it has a romance at the center of it, but it is much more. Takes place in Italy during WWII. As far as I could tell, the author did a lot of research and included many events that were true. I highly recommend it. Not always pleasant reading, but the kind you want to just keep on reading and not put down.

Ok, enough about books. I got home last night at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time, after a long flight, with many delays and irritations. My carry-on luggage was searched before I could board the plane. The lines for that were very long and slow. We were only allowed one carry-on, but at least the airline didn't charge me for the second bag to be checked through. None of my stuff was damaged or stolen and my luggage arrived at the same airport and same time as I did. So I guess it was a pretty good flight. However, US Airways does NOT impress me as an airline. They seemed rather disorganized, although some of the problems were not their fault.

I was exhausted when I got home, as my body was saying it was 2 AM and I had been awake for 19 hours. I walked in the door, dropped the suitcases in the living room and went to bed! This morning, I did manage to sleep until 5:30, so I had enough sleep. However, I am getting tired already (at 8 AM), so I know that by late afternoon, I will crash again. It always takes me three or four days to recover from the return flight.

We still have snow on the ground! I was amazed to see it. Of course, my deck never gets any direct sun in the winter. The front yard is snow-free. My Christmas lights outside are still working just fine. I would like to get them down this weekend, but that will depend on the weather.

Today, I may do some laundry (I have tons to do) and am meeting a friend for lunch. That's all I expect to get done. At least the post office is closed, so I cannot pick up my mail. I will have a huge pile of mail, but at least some of it will be enjoyable - Christmas cards!