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!