Wednesday, June 29, 2011

bits and pieces of my life

I haven't blogged much lately because nothing interesting is happening in my life.  Today I will pick up the repaired hearing aid (story on Facebook).  It'll be good to have both ears hearing at the same level.  I found with only one hearing aid, I could hear ok, but had trouble telling what direction noise was coming from. 

I've been making phone calls lately to members of my church who have not yet signed up to have their pictures taken for our photo-directory.  There are only a couple of folks not yet signed up, so I guess we did a good job.  I'm not in charge of this activity - thank heavens - but am helping the chairperson.  I really hate making phone calls, but these weren't bad, as the reason was a good one and everybody was very nice.  It's not like selling anything or asking for volunteers!

We had some rain last night, maybe enough so that I won't have to water today.  Watering all my potted plants is a bit of a chore.  I don't mind doing it, but when I go away, it really puts a burden on my neighbor who tries to keep up with my watering as well as her own.

I have get 2 new tires for my car.  I checked out an online site that has good prices.  Now I just have to check to see if my regular mechanic or NTW has cheaper installation.  I don't like dealing with car repairs and suchlike, but I really need my car, so I try to do all the right things to keep it running.  I keep think about buying a new car, until I think about car payments!

I can't believe this coming weekend is July 4th weekend.  How time flies!  I wonder if July will be any cooler than June.  This month has been horribly hot and humid.  I'll be going up to western NY in July to visit family and have lunch with high school friends.  Hopefully, it will be cooler up there, although my brother tells me that their temps have been in the 90s.  When I was a kid, it was NEVER that hot there.  We got along fine without air-conditioning.  Evenings were always cool.  Things have changed there, however.  Now if winters were just a bit milder, I'd be tempted to move back up there.  (Well, not really, as it's deep Republican territory. If I lived there I'd have to register as a Republican in order to have my vote in local elections count for anything!)

Lately, Ive been trying to get rid of some of my many books.  It's hard because I have to reread them to decide if I want to keep them or not.  I'm trying to just reread one book by each prolific author and decide to keep or donate all of them based on that one.  So far, in June, I've discarded 30 books.  Of course, I've bought a few new ones, but even so, I have some empty shelf space.  If I have 2000 books (a rough estimate) and discard 16 each month, I should have none left in 10 years.  Of course, I won't discard all of them, so maybe I'll only dump 1000 books, which gives me a bit more leeway.  I'm figuring that in 10 years I might be moving into a retirement community and a much smaller place, so I'd have to have fewer books. 

Unfortunately, books aren't the only things I have too many of.  One wall in the kitchen is covered with antique utensils and suchlike.  I blame my friend, Patty, for them.  She introduced me to American antique kitchen stuff. I filled the kitchen and put stuff outside on the fence as well.  Then a couple of years ago I got started buying little ceramic animals.  They were not expensive and were SO CUTE!  I think this was a going back to my childhood, as I had a few china animals as a kid and loved them dearly.  As an adult, I went overboard and now have 12 little 'boxes' displaying the 150 (or so) animals.  As you may have noticed, I tend to get into things in a big way!  I won't even think about the ceramics that fill many boxes in the storage room and decorate my living room walls.  At least I'm not a true hoarder.  I display my stuff artistically (at least I think it's artistic) and I don't have piles of stuff on the floor and on every table.  On the dining table, but not on the floor - and the piles are business letters and such like.  Seems as if I just manage to balance the checkbook and verify the charges/sales slips when the next month's bunch come in the mail!  Ok, enough already!  Maybe next time I blog, I will have some photos and something worth saying!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

a day at home - Wednesday

 Took my car in to the shop last night.  There are several things to be worked on, so I imagine it will be expensive.  Dropping it off was easy.  Getting back home was not so pleasant.  I waited half an hour in the hot sun for the bus.  The bus is usually late, but this was later than usual.  When I got home, I dumped all my clothes in the laundry basket and took a cool shower!

So today I am without a car, which means that the only place I might visit would be the library.  It's only a few blocks away.  Of course, being home all day, SHOULD mean that I will get lots of things accomplished - clean the floors, balance the checkbook, call Verizon about my latest bill.  I doubt if those things will get done, except for calling Verizon.  I canceled the TV portion of my bill, but somehow they are charging me almost as much as when I had it.  The bills are so complicated that it takes a genius to figure them out.  I suspect that is done on purpose, so that customers will never understand what they are paying for!  I'm seriously thinking  about switching my phone and internet provide to Comcast. (Got an ad from them in yesterday's mail).  However, I suspect they will be just as bad as Verizon and it's such a hassle to switch.  I could get a good cell phone company and cancel the land-line, but I can't do without my Internet connection.

I brought home a couple of pieces from ceramics recently - in addition to the Raku pieces.  I am involved in three ceramics classes - one I teach and two where I am a student.  The pieces shown on this blog are low-fire.  The little lizard will go outside, to hide in a flower bed and surprise anyone looking at the flowers.  The bowl will just go into a box downstairs.  I will probably try to sell it, if I find a local craft show.

Weird!  I just tried to put a couple of photos on this blog and they just wouldn't upload.  I'll have to try again later.  I started this on Wednesday.  Today, Thursday, the photos uploaded just fine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ceramic photos

I said on Facebook that these photos were on my blog, so I'd better get them up here.  These are Raku pieces. The fish is the best one.  I used commercial low-fire glazes on that one.  They are more reliable than the Raku glazes we make at the studio.
 This mask broke during cooling.  You can see the break between the nose and the mouth.  I've glued thesections back together and will be using paint to disguise the break line.
 I used four different glazes on this one.  The interior is black, because it was unglazed.  Raku firing always makes unglazed areas black.
This glaze is called "Rick's Turquoise"  Obviously, it has changed since Rick (whoever he is) made it.  Should be called "rick's yellow turquoise".  It's a strange glaze, but I love the effect.

I was going to post a couple of objects from another class, but I think I'll wait for another blog to do that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cool at last

Our hot spell has broken and it's finally cool enough to enjoy being outside.  I've taken advantage of that by getting some trimming done out back.  I managed to cut off most of the dead branches on a forsythia bush, however I'll need a saw for a couple of them.  This bush and a beauty bush are growing almost as one, so it's hard to trim just one of them.  Also, the perpetual wild grape vine has come back (actually never completely went away) and was fastened onto branches from both bushes.  I damaged a couple of branches in pulling the vine off, but there is not other easy way to get it off.  The bushes are taller than I, so I'm working above my head much of the time.  I could get the step-stool, I guess.  Might have to do that.  The grapevine roots are in the ground, between my fence and the neighbors'.  I can't pull the darn thing up.  Guess it's time for \Roundup, but I hate to use it when other plants are so close.  Anyway, I now have a pile of branches that need to be cut into smaller lengths and bundled up for the recycle pickup.  I'll try to get that done this afternoon.

 This is the hydrangea bush that grows at the foot of the stairs.  It's not quite in full bloom, but is looking very pretty already.  Every year, I cut it back and every year it grows enough to make getting off the steps and into the back yard a problem. 

  The other photo is one corner of the deck.  It's looking quite colorful now, with the lilies coming into bloom.
Yesterday, after ceramics, I went for a walk around Lake Elkhorn.  The lake is filled with green scum.  I guess it's algae.  Unpleasant to look at.  There were no ducks or geese in the water.  Maybe they don't like the green stuff?   Actually a few ducks were sitting on floating logs.  They seem to have displaced the turtles - I only saw one turtle.  I did see one family of Canada geese, on land.  I think most of them have raised their young and are now foraging elsewhere for food.  I also saw a heron, in a rather odd place.  At the end of the lake there is a dam with a sloped surface where the water comes down.  It's a fairly gentle slope, but I'm sure it is slippery.  The heron was at the end of the slope, looking down into the water below the dam.  It seemed to be considering stepping off the slope and into the water.  Hopefully, it decided not to do that, as the water there is rather deep. 

After my walk, I went back to the senior center to help them set up for a book sale.  They do this once a year and get tons of donations.  I worked for several hours, helping others to sort the books and arrange them on tables.  The sale starts this AM, but volunteers were allowed to buy books yesterday, so I won't be going over there this AM to fight my way through the crowds.  Actually I only bought six books, and two of them I already have, so I didn't increase my stock of books very much.   That's amazing for me!  I really am trying to cull my shelves, but I can't just dump books that I don't remember if I still like or not.  I have been re-reading one book by an unfamiliar author and then deciding whether to keep or discard all of them.  It's a slow process, but perhaps eventually I will have all my books downstairs in the 'library' rather than all over the house!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It was hot!

I wonder if there is anyone reading my blog who isn't on Facebook.  I don't know if I should blog about something that has already been on Facebook or not.  So, sorry if I'm repeating myself.  I came home Thursday afternoon to find the house temperature at 84, the thermostat set at 80 and no cold air coming through the floor vents.  The fan was running, but not the compressor (or whatever it is) outside.  It was just sitting there, silent.  I was afraid that having just the fan running would damage the system, as I assumed that on the cool setting, the equipment would keep trying to turn on.  Turns out I was wrong.  Anyway I got on the phone and called all the A/C repair places in the local yellow pages.  The soonest any of them could come out was Monday!  I was very unhappy at the thought of no cooling until then!  Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the basement, which stays nice and cool in the summer.  It was very comfortable down there and I was planning to sleep there as well.  I actually vacuumed the floor and got rid of the cobwebs that were lurking (with or without spiders) in the corners of the room.  Luckily, we got some rain and it cooled off considerably.  I was able to open windows upstairs and get my bedroom cool enough for sleeping.  Friday AM, one of the A/C companies called me back and said they could come that day!  I was delighted.  The repairman came.  He turned the system on, turned the setting down and went down stairs to look at the equipment.  Checked the blower - no problem there.  Went outside and presto! the unit came on!!  He checked the compressor and said it was ok.  What must have happened was that BG&E had turned off the power to the compressor.  I get a discount on my electricity by allowing them to do this during times of high power usage.  Usually this only lasts half an hour or less, but I think this time it was for a longer period.  Of course I wasn't home to know when it was turned off.  If I had left the system on, it would have come back on by itself.  I had no idea that there was a gadget on the compressor allowing them to do this.  Now, I'm rethinking the whole deal.  The money I save from allowing this probably doesn't make up for the $110 fee I had to pay to get the repairman to come out.  At least now I know to expect this kind of thing when we have such hot weather.  It was an expensive lesson.

Not much else is new.  I have to work in the hospital gift shop this afternoon, filling in for someone.  Usuallly, I don't do this on weekends, but the new manager called me about something else and asked, so I agreed.  Hard to turn down a personal request like that.  He's a good manager and I like him.  It won't be a real hardship to go over there for 4 hours, but I do hope they have the A/C fixed.  Thursday (my usual day to work there) It was very hot in the shop.  Probably will be that way today.  I can't wear much less clothing that I already to when I work there - capri pants and a t-shirt.  We have jackets we are supposed to wear, but no one will mind if I'm not wearing mine.

Next week will be a bit busy.  I have to get an adjustment on my hearing aids.  Now that I have a flute and am practicing, I need to get the aids re-tuned so that they don't produce an echo when I play.  I can take them out, but I'd prefer to get them adjusted.  Hopefully, she can do this.

The gift shop manager and I are going to Rockville one day to check out a store that sells some of the items we stock in the jewelry cases.  He and I had a difficult time find a day and time when we are both free. 

Tuesday afternoon, I will be helping set up for the used book fair at the senior center in Columbia.  I hope to get there early Wednesday AM to pick through the books.  Last year I waited for the sale to begin and discovered that many people had come early and picked through the selection.  Maybe I'll do that this year.  Not that I need any more books, but still...I was going to say that one can never have too many books, but I'm not sure that is true!  I have a lot of books - maybe a thousand or more - but I'm trying to get rid of some.  I'm rereading one book from various authors and if I don't like it, I just dump all of them.  I will never have the time to reread all of them!

Next weekend (Saturday) is a Raku firing at Montpelier Arts Center.  It will be the last one I attend for a while.  I'm not signing up for the summer session and am not sure about the fall.  I love doing Raku, but I'm getting overloaded on pottery.  Guess I'd better find a place to sell some of what I have.  If I join one of the local potters' organizations, I can sell when they have a sale.  Maybe I'll do better than I did last weekend in southern Maryland.

Here are more fairy houses from Anne Marie Gardens.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More fairy houses

One of these days, I will get all my recent photos loaded on Flickr, but they are not there yet.  So here are a few more photos of fairy houses from Anne Marie Gardens in Lusby.  I think none of these was posted on a previous blog.

Today is going to be a very HOT day.  It's already hot and not yet 10 AM.  I plan to stay inside as much as possible, although I will have to go out this evening and water all my plants.  Hopefully, by then it will be bearable outside.

This is a slow week, which is fine with me.  The weekend was very busy - lots of fun, but tiring.  I need some laid-back days after a few busy ones.  Guess that's because I'm getting OLD.  Oops - mustn't say the naughty word. 

I'm thinking that I should create a fairy house in my garden.  Of course, my flower beds are already filled with little ceramic things - frogs, turtles, mushrooms, totem poles - and with various insects on poles, not to mention birdhouses, which are mostly on the deck railings.  I'm a sucker for garden stuff, not just plants.  Still, I think a fairy house would fit in somewhere.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

fairy houses and craft sale at Anne Marie Gardens

Friday, I drove down to southern Maryland (Lusby area) to visit my friend Deb.  As usual she had plans for what we would do.  Some of those plans had to be modified a bit, as her daughter-in-law was having a baby!  My friend and her husband were keeping their older grandson (age 3) and the dog, while the new parents were at the hospital.  The little boy is very cute, but he does have a mind of his own (what 3-year old doesn't?).  We still managed to do quite a few grown-up things.  Grandpa minded the baby some of the time.

Friday evening, we went out on a converted oyster boat for a little cruise around the harbor.  The weather was clear, sunny, but not too hot.  After that, we browsed around in the Maritime Museum, looking at an art exhibit there and checking out the gift shop.  We ate dinner in Solomons, at a very nice restaurant in, specializing in Italian food and sea food.  We sat on the patio, by the water, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.  They even had live music - a fellow playing guitar and singing older songs.  The music  made a great background for conversation.  The food was excellent; we tried a white wine that was new to me, and sat around chatting and sipping wine until 8 PM.  Before we left to drive home, we crossed the road and watched the sun go down behind the big bridge at Solomons.   I just wish I had taken my camera!  It was a beautiful sunset.

Saturday, I had a table at the Maker's Market held once a month at Anne Marie Gardens.  If you are ever down that way, I recommend stopping at the Gardens.  They have a trail through the woods, with interesting statues and carvings along the way.  Nice gift shop there too.  Saturday, they had 'fairy houses' on display along the trail.  Here are  photos of a few of them.  Local artists made the houses.  They do this every year.  All the 'houses' were very clever.

The craft sale was not very successful from my point of view.  I sold a few pieces, but spent more money buying other folk's crafts than I made selling my own!  Not unexpected.  Still I had a nice shady spot for my table and it was fun chatting with folks that came by.  My friend knew a lot of the buyers as well as many of the sellers, so we had conversation with many folks.  Southern Maryland has changed over the years, from the time Kate went to St. Mary's College there. (about 20 years ago!)  Many retired people have moved down there and the stores and restaurants reflect that.

Saturday afternoon, we stopped by the hospital to see the new baby and then headed out to find a particular nursery (for plants, not babies) that Deb and I have been to before.  We were disappointed to find they were closed.  It's run by an Amish family and there was some sort of church thing going on all weekend.  We did stop at a couple of places on the way home, including a very nice antique/interior design store.  And yes, I bought a few items.  Got a decorative birdhouse, dirt cheap.   Went out to dinner again that night.  Not as good a dinner.  We split a steak topped with crab imperial.  Unfortunately, the steak was full of gristle.  The salads were very good, as were the potatoes and the crab meat, so we didn't starve!

Sunday, we had the three-year-old again, but managed to leave him with Grandpa for a couple of hours while we went to an antique store and ate lunch out.  I only bought one little glass bottle (crackle grass).  This was probably a new record for me for minimum purchases at antique stores!  Actually, that's wrong - I bought another birdhouse, but that wasn't at the antique store, but at a small craft store on the same property.

Before I left, I helped my friend a bit with some gardening.  We visited her garden plot.  It's new for her this year.  I really don't know much about growing vegetables, but I offered what advice I could.  She has lots of green tomatoes on her cherry tomato plants.  Should get a good crop there.  Back at her house, I planted some basil and other plants she had bought.  The yard there is almost totally shaded, so it's hard for her to grow flowers.  And, the deer come out of the woods across the street, so most flowers don't do well there.  Hopefully, some of what we planted will survive.  I headed home mid-afternoon.  I had watering to do when I got home, as we didn't get any rain to speak of, over the weekend.  It was nice to be back in my own bed last night!