Thursday, October 27, 2011

fall around the neighborhood

I went out the other day for a walk, with camera, and took some snaps of colorful trees, bushes and houses decorated for Halloween.  It was sunny and pleasant - a great day to be outside.  The rain predicted for today, arrived a bit early, but didn't amount to much.  We got more rain last night and today will be chilly, but I'll be inside most of the day anyway.  I think I heard a weather report on the radio that said we''d get a frost either tonight or tomorrow.  Doesn't seem possible, but who knows?
I really liked these Halloween decorations, although the spider kinda grossed me out! 


Sumac leaves are gorgeous in the fall.  We don't have a lot of red leaves here in Maryland, so I really appreciate these.

These berries are on a tree next door to me.  The tree has a really ugly shape, but the spring blossoms are pink and lovely and the fall berries are great!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finally finished! - a story about a quilt

A couple of years ago, when Kate was visiting the US, we went to my favorite fabric shop in Hammondsport, NY and I fell in love with some Japanese fabrics they had.  Kate, who is a fiber artist and wonderful quilter, encouraged me to buy fabric to make a quilt.  She figured out how much of each fabric to buy and then left it up to me to design and make the quilt.  I spent a good deal of time cutting out squares and arranging and re-arranging them several times to get a pattern I liked.  I then took the pieces to Kate and she helped me

cut them a little wonky, so that they weren't exactly square.  Quilt then went home with me, so that I could buy material for backing, border, binding and batting.  (lots of 'b's in that sentence!)   I'm not sure about all the traveling that quilt-in-progress did, but eventually it arrived back at Kate's ready to be quilted - or so I thought.  The first attempt at this failed as I had bought the wrong kind of batting.  It was very puffy and Kate couldn't quilt it on her machine.  I took the quilt back home and tried using pompoms on each square in lieu of all-over quilting.  Didn't like that effect, so took them off.  Kate said to bring it back to England and she would provide the proper backing and quilt it by machine.  This I did this past summer.  Kate put the binding on and quilted it all together.  I brought it back home in August.  And it has been sitting in my guest room (aka the craft room) until recently.  I finally started the hand sewing necessary to finish the binding.  Have I mentioned how much I hate hand sewing?  However, I finished the binding yesterday and voila!  I have a finished quilt!   This is, I'm sure, the only quilt I will ever make, but I'm glad I did it once.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Update on morning glories

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that my formerly blue morning glories were pink.  I still don't understand what's  going on with them.  By about noon, they were blue again.  I can't determine if the pink and the blue flowers are different buds opening and closing, but surely it must be that.  Petals on flowers can't change colors back and forth, can they?  Anyway, this morning, they are pink again.  'Tis a mystery.  Maybe it's the temperature - cooler in the morning?  I don't remember them doing this last year.  Anyway, it is kinda fun to watch them and speculate.

Yesterday I went to the library to get a book by Laurie King that I had read some time ago.  I already had checked out her latest and realized that I could not remember clearly the previous book.  These two books are closely connected, so I really needed to read "The Language of Bess" before I started "The God of the Hive".  Luckily the local library had a copy, so I started on it yesterday afternoon.  I not only finished that one, but also the second one, staying up until midnight to finish!  These books are part of a series she has been writing featuring Sherlock Holmes in 'old' age and a young woman he befriends (Mary Russell).  These books are very well written and provide a fascinating picture of England (and elsewhere) in the early 20th century as well as very complex mysteries.  If you've never read any of them, start with the first one - "The Beekeeper's Apprentice."

Today is supposed to be sunny and mild.  Perhaps I'll get some more trimming done out back.  I brought in the last of the house plants last night - a fern that has been hanging under the deck all summer.  I don't really like this plant - or rather I don't like it in the house.  It looks beautiful and full outside, but as soon as I bring it in, the fronds start dropping off.  It makes a mess on the floor and looks worse as each week goes by.  By June, when it can go back outside, the poor thing looks pitiful. 

I'd better get ready for Sunday School.  Our class is reading a book by James Carse - "The Religious Case Against Belief".  This class reads books by authors who are very far left when it comes to religion.  Just my cup of tea!  I've  read about 70 pages and so far the author has pretty much just defined 'religion' and 'belief' as two very different things.  It's interesting, but I"m not sure where he is going with this.  Anyway, gotta head out soon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This and that

In my last post, I was muttering about my cold and whether I'd be able to go to my friend's 90th birthday party.  I went and had a great time.  Hopefully I didn't give my cold to anyone who was there.  I did have a spot of trouble leaving the development where the party was held.  I kept going around in circles, however, I did finally manage to find my way, so all was well.  Actually, however, I am not yet well!  I'm out and about this week, but still using up a dozen or more tissues every AM.  This is ridiculous!

Yesterday I sang with the senior chorus at the 50+Expo in Columbia.  We were a bit short on sopranos, but the chorus sounded pretty good.  I was the only one brave enough to try the high G in one number.  I hit it, but it wasn't pretty!!  I like this group.  The music is fairly easy and fun to sing.  Guess I'll stick with them for a while.  Before we sang, I wandered around, looking at the many booths advertising services that seniors are supposedly interested in.  Didn't find much that interested me, but that's ok.  I did discover that there are a lot of communities for 50+ residents.  Didn't see any that I liked, except some that I can't afford.  Guess I'll be staying right here for the foreseeable future.

Today is sunny, but COLD!  I'm waiting for the sun to warm things up a bit before I go out to water the potted plants.  It's too chilly to be playing with the hose.  I also need to do a bit more trimming out back.  I can get down the stairs from the deck and move into the back yard, but there are some really overgrown bushes back there.  Most of my plants survived the summer, while I was away.  It did rain a lot, which I"m sure helped.  One clematis died.  I have no idea why, as the others located just a few feet away are doing fine.  Maybe the poor thing just got crowded out by all the other plants.  I might try again next spring.

Don't have any plans for this weekend.  I was hoping to find some yard sales to poke around in, but the local paper had none that looked interesting.  Guess I'll just stay home, except for a stroll over to the library later.  I have some hand sewing that I need to do - mostly binding on my quilt.  Kate quilted it and put the binding on, but I have to turn the binding and stitch it by hand.  I really hate sewing by hand.  Actually, I'm not terribly fond of sewing by machine either.  My mother was always sewing on something, as I remember.  She made many of my school clothes - skirts at least.  And Kate is really a fabric artist.  Somehow the 'sewing gene' skipped me.  I love fabric, but don't really like doing anything with it! 

 I've added a few more fall decorations to my steps.

These morning glories were blue a couple of days ago.  It's weird.  I knew that new blossoms open up every day, but what makes the plant change from blue blossoms to pink ones?  I'll have to watch and see if they go back to being blue in a few days.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I've been a bit under the weather this week, picked up a cold and seem to be keeping it.  I'd be glad to send it to anyone who would like it!!  Anyway, I think it's on the wane - about time.  Because I was tired and had to camp near a tissue box, I stayed home the past 3 days.  Not feeling up to doing any of the chores that needed doing, I have done a fair amount of reading instead.  I've re-read two of the series about Monk by Anne Perry.  I had to re-read these two because I have from the library the next in the series.  (I started re-reading all of them at Kate's and only had those two to go when I returned home.)  Now I'm looking forward to this latest - Acceptable Loss.  I also re-read several other books from my favorite authors - Nora Roberts and Jayne Krentz.

This afternoon I am supposed to go to a birthday party for a friend who is 90!  If I'm not sneezing and wheezing too much, I will at least put in an appearance.  I'm going stir crazy sitting at home. 

 Here are some more photos of fall around my neighborhood.  The trees out back are coloring up quite a bit now, although they are mostly yellow.  Maryland doesn't have many of the wonderful maples that turn bright red in the fall.  Fall in western PA and NY is always so colorful.  Usually I schedule a trip up that way this time of year, but October is just too busy this year.  I'll have to settle for Maryland's trees.
 My neighbor's and my flower beds - first photo.

These trees at end of row aren't very colorful this year.  Lots of leaves on the ground, but not very pretty.

This tree (photo below) grows along the stream that runs through our development.  I see it when I walk to the library.

This is the view from the deck.  The color isn't quite right in the photo.  The red tree is much brighter than it shows here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What a lovely weekend!

This has been a very nice weekend.  On Saturday, a friend and I went into Baltimore to visit the Visionary Art Museum.  We had been there before and found it easily.  This time, however, there was a glitch in the directions and we ended up going back towards home on I-95.  We managed to do this not once, but twice, with quite a bit of driving around in the city, unable to find Key Highway.  Finally, we plugged in the GPS and followed its directions.  We also discovered what was wrong with our original directions - they took us off I95 one exit too soon!  Anyway, we did find the museum and had a great time looking at all the very unusual art on display, inside and out.  It's such a fun place!  I highly recommend it for anyone who has a chance to see it, especially if you have children.  Kids love the place!  However, do not expect traditional art.  Notice the word - visionary' in the name?  They mean it.  Deb and I create some unusual ceramic stuff ourselves, so we are exactly the right kind of people to enjoy the museum.  A friend of Deb's had things on display - really fascinating things made of metal objects and other 'found' stuff. 

Later Deb and I walked around the end of the harbor and strolled around on the promenade at Harbor Place.  Lots of folks taking advantage of the beautiful weather.  Everybody seemed happy and carefree.  The only disappointment was that Rita's ran out of everything except Italian Ice.  We were all set for custard.  So sad.

We left Baltimore without further problems.  I can get out of Baltimore, it was just the getting in that was a problem.  Anyway, we decided to go to Columbia and eat at the Cheesecake Factory.  (Deb and I both LOVE cheesecake.)  Unfortunately hundreds of other folks in Columbia on a lovely weekend also wanted cheesecake.  The place was a mob scene and the wait was more than half an hour.  We then tried  P.F.Chang, which is next door.  There the wait was over an hour!  Uno's was next and there we got lucky.  The seated us immediately outside, which is what we wanted.  We practically had the little patio to ourselves and it was blessed quiet.  I had only eaten lunches at Uno's so did not realize how interesting their dinner menu is.  We shared a glass of wine, a couple of appetizers and each had one of their mini desserts.  It was a delightful ending to a great day.  Only problem, once we got home, was to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime!

Deb left for home Sunday AM and I went to church, as usual.  When I got home at noon, I decided to work outside for a few hours.   It was just too nice to stay inside.  My back yard was a jungle!  Really.  I wish I had taken a photo of it as it was then.  Our very wet summer made everything grow like crazy.  The path through the back yard (covered with wood chips) looked like part of the flower beds on either side.  The chips have been deteriorating over the years and plants have grown up in the path.  It was a mass (or mess?) of violets and unidentified weeds.  After I trimmed a few bushes, so that I could actually walk down my steps and into the back yard, I started pulling weeds from the path.  I also did just a bit of weeding and trimming in the flower beds.  After a couple of hours, I had filled two large yard trash bags and was ready to stop.  It does look much better, so I guess it is worth the sore back I have today.  I'll post some photos of the back yard now and the monster coleus on the deck.  It's just amazing how big some plants get when they have unlimited water.

 This is the path and corner of the backyard.  There are still green bits on the path, but they are not growing there - just pieces of plants that didn't get picked up.
 Here are the monster coleus plants, along with a lovely orange mum.  I really love that dark red coleus.  The variety is supposed to get big, but this year it is exceptional.
This tree is actually down the street from my house, but it's the first one on the street to show fall color, so I included it anyway.  It's a Bradford Pear tree - they are always the first to get fall color. The tree in front of my house is just beginning to turn.  Both will be more colorful in a week or so.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


This week has gone by so quickly!  I think it's a result of aging.  The older I get, the faster time flies.  If one lives to be 100, does each day fly by in 10 minutes?  Anyway, I made one positive change in my life this past week.  On Wednesday, when I stopped by the Bain Senior Center, I noticed a flyer about a vocal group that meets on Wednesday mornings.  On an impulse, I decided to try it.  The group is fairly small and mostly women, but the sound is pretty good.  Probably a bit better when the men are in attendance.  The music was easy (I could sight-read it), but tuneful and a nice mix of popular and sacred.  In order to join this group, I had to give up the weekly work day at the church library.  That's ok, as I was getting bored with that anyway.   I will stay with the group until after Christmas and then make a decision if I really like it or not.  The big advantage is that they meet in daytime.  I know of several other choruses, but they meet at night and I'm too tired in the evening to enjoy going out, even when it's to do something I love. 

Yesterday, I stopped by the music store to get some more flute music.  I left the book of duets and a book of music from films, etc. with Olivia when I was in England.  She will enjoy them more than I.  I found them too easy to play - rather boring.  Olivia and I will play some more of the duets, I hope, when I next go to England.  Anyway, I purchased a book of classical flute solos.  It has a CD which provides the piano part.  When I get really good at the solos, I will try that.  My only accompanist is my sister-in-law, who lives in Florida and NY State.  Obviously, I don't get to play with her very often!  I am hoping to find a concert band somewhere in my area that I could join.  I'm probably not ready for that step yet, as I've only had my flute for a few months, but I'd really like to play with a group when I get a bit better.  It's been about 50 years since I played flute in college, so I am just a bit rusty!! 

Also yesterday, there was a 'yard sale' at Mother Nature's (formerly Wild Bird Center).  They had great prices on their stuff!  Earrings that were originally $20 for just $3!  I bought some more yard ornaments - bugs, etc. bobbing on top of a metal stick.  A couple of Xmas things - a birdhouse and a tree ornament.  I love those yard sales!

And yesterday,  I learned that the ceramics class I have been teaching at Beltsville will not be held this fall.  There needs to be a minimum of 6 students, although we have been going with only 4.  None of the previous members signed up.  Maybe that says something about the teacher!   I think part of the problem is that we've had a lot of trouble with pieces not surviving the firing.  Our kilns are old and don't work too well.  I can't blame the folks for being unhappy when they work for weeks on a piece only to have it explode when fired.  Also there is a new senior center opening in Laurel which will offer ceramics.  Probably some of my former students will go there.  I'll miss seeing those folks and also will miss the money, but that's life.  It frees up my Mondays, but so far I haven't found anything I want to do on that day.  It's possible, but unlikely that the class in Beltsville will start up again in January.  I doubt it, but we'll see.

 I'm going with Bill and Priscilla to see a play this afternoon.  Can't remember the name of the play, but it's supposed to be a comedy.  I will probably know some of the actors, although I can't recall now who is in it.  During the years I spent singing with the MAD (music and drama) folks I got to know a number of local actors.  We have several community theaters around here, which is great because the prices are reasonable and the acting very good.  I don't enjoy going by myself, so I was glad Bill and Priscilla asked me to go with them.  Tomorrow, I will be going to see another play.  This one is at a semi-professional theater.  Anything I have seen there is very well done - both acting and staging.  I guess this is theater weekend for me!