Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall decorations

Last weekend, I changed the seasonal decorations in my house.  I do this periodically - five times a year.  So I went from summer (with seashells and suchlike) to fall (colored leaves and lots of brown stuff).  This involves a great deal of going up and down the basement steps, carrying large, sometimes heavy, boxes since all the decorations not currently in use are stored down there.  There are 3 or 4 boxes for each season.  So I brought up the empty boxes to put the summer stuff in and also the full and heavy boxes filled with fall stuff.  when I finished decorating, I had to reverse the process and take all the boxes back down. 

The kitchen decorations are fake flowers, leaves, etc. and are all stored in a huge plastic bag.  They are really easy to haul up and down, thank goodness.  The glass items, of which I have many, are stored in three other boxes, so I have to get into those as well, although sometimes I can do that in the storage room and just bring up the items I want to display.  Anyway, it's a lot of up an down and a lot of lifting heavy boxes off and on shelves (some above my head).   If that wasn't enough, on Monday I  redid the jewelry cases at the Hospital Gift Shop, taking out the summer stuff and putting in the fall items.  I've gotten a lot of compliments on them, so I can say without prejudice that they look really good!  I haven't been able to take good photos of the jewelry cases in the shop, too much reflection from the glass, but I'll try again today, with the flash turned off.  (If I remember to take the camera with me, of course.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A few new ceramic pieces

I haven't had many successful ceramic pieces in the last few months.  However a few have turned out more or less the way I wanted them to.   I'm trying to be more selective about what pieces I keep, since I now have 4 boxes of ceramic stuff that I have made and have no use for (or space to display).  I've tried selling, once or twice, at local craft fairs, but didn't sell much.  And selling online is somewhat involved and would mean I'd have to package and mail the items.  I'm not sure the effort would be with what I would get by selling them.  So, for now, I'm trying to be more selective with what I keep.  I've also made some things to go outside in flower pots or just in the flower beds.  This morning in class I made an elf.  If he turns out ok (it will be several weeks before he is finished) I may try to make some more.   To make matters worse, I am again taking the Raku class at Montpelier Art Center.  This will eventually produce perhaps 5 or 6 items.  Some will certainly be masks.  I don't know what else.  I have, however, sorted through the boxes of my ceramics and donate a box to one of the local thrift shops.  They will sell them for next-to-nothing, but at least they are not taking up space in my basement.

These photos show the ceramic birds I made for the tops of the colored branches.  Of course, during the summer, I am somewhat obsessed with my flower gardens.  As I mentioned yesterday on Facebook, I have spray painted an old bicycle, turning it into a 'work of art' or at least a bright spot in the backyard!  I have hung two planters from the handlebars, with yellow and orange/red flowers.  It definitely brightens up an 'empty' spot in the backyard flower bed.  I should explain that the spot wasn't exactly bare.  In fact, it was covered with the wild violets that have pretty much taken over the whole bed.  In the spring they are lovely with their little dark blue blossoms.  Unfortunately, they keep on growing and by this time of year they are about 6 inches tall with lots of leaves.  They tend to choke out any less hardy (i.e., more desirable) flowers.  So, yesterday I was out there again, pulling up violets.  I have cleared most of them from the path, and actually planted some ground covering plants, which are supposed to spread, but stay low to the ground.  We'll see how that works.  In the flower bed, I have tried to clear a space around any of the flowers that I actually planted back there.  I probably should fertilize the remaining plants, but I certainly don't want to encourage the violets, so I need to get them out, before I add fertilizer to the bed.  I know that they violets will bed back in the spring, because in about half of the cases, I was not able to get the roots out (actually a corm or something like that).  But at least some of them will be gone.
If you look closely at the photo on the right, you can see a butterfly enjoy the butterfly bush.  The photo on the left is the painted bicycle with hanging baskets.  Hard to see, because there are still too many violets!

In the front yard, I have given up the battle with the groundhog.  I took down the chicken-wire I had covering the bed, but it appears that the critter has found another dining room.  Perhaps it doesn't like the smell of the mothballs that I sprinkled around all the flowering plants!  I'm not sure the critter is gone, but nothing has been eaten lately, so I have hopes that the problem is over for this summer.  (Having said this, I will probably find more buds eaten when I check tomorrow morning.)  It doesn't look particularly exciting out front, but I have some mums that will (if not eaten) bloom later this fall and a few surviving bright-colored zinnias.  I have hung small birdhouses (minus the birds) from the Japanese maple tree and on the decorative fence around the flower bed.  So, there is some color, even without as many flowers as I had hoped for.  The flowers in pots on the deck look lovely.  They are blooming vigorously and will continue to do so until frost, as long as I water them regularly.  They are my real success story this year.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gardening news

Lately, I've been trying to get control of my back yard.  It's been a jungle all spring and summer.  I have too many large bushes back there and the wild violets have gone crazy and almost managed to take over the yard.  They did completely cover the path between the steps from the deck and the back gate.  I have managed to pull up all the violets and other weeds that were growing in the path, but there are still  MANY growing in the flower beds. 

Anyway, I have trimmed some of the bushes, so that at least I can reach the path from the steps - the hydrangea was completely blocking the path.  However all the bushes (except for one that has only been in the ground 2 years) need radical trimming.  A friend is urging me to cut the hydrangea back to the ground, but I just can't bring myself to do that.  I will give it a radical cutting this fall.  It is too big for its space at the bottom of the steps, but that is NOT my doing.  It was there and already too big when I moved in.  I will just have to be very strict with the other overgrown bushes (four of them) and cut them all way back.  I just am waiting until they finish blooming this summer. 

When I was visiting my family in NY State back in June, I brought home some flat stones my brother had in his yard.  (For some reason, he didn't want to take them to Wisconsin with him when they moved!!)  I decided these stones would look very nice on the path, but of course there weren't enough of them to make adequate stepping stones.  So today I went to the Stone Store and selected more flat stones.  The main criteria for them was that I had to be able to lift and carry them.  I think I bought about 20.  My friend went with me, as she needed to get a few rocks for her yard.  When we got home, she helped me carry some of my stones through the house to the back deck.  After lunch, I went out and started carrying them down the steps and laying them in the path.  It was very hot work and I'm not quite done.  There are 6 more to take down.  I have laid them on the path, but not done any arranging.  Last week, I purchased plants to put in-between the stones.  These little plants can actually be walked on and will fill in the spaces between the stones.  They will not grow as tall as the wild violets, so will be a better ground cover.  Should look pretty good next year.

Last week, I also did a bit of work in the front yard, pulling up all the Queen's Ann's lace.  That stuff has a pretty strong root system.  I needed to get it out before it went to seed.  It was a mistake to transplant it from the wild.  It spread all over the bed and into the grass.  (Not as bad as the violets, however.)  Most of it is gone now, but I'm sure a few survivors will come up in the spring.  I'm thinking of redoing my front flower bed, but it will be a major job, so it certainly won't be done this year. I love plants and could easily fill twice the space, if I had it.  Unfortunately, I am at the size limit for the beds in the front.  If the Homeowner's Assoc. would let me, I would have no grass, just plants and a path in the front yard.  Maybe someday.....

 Not a very good photo.  I was taking it into the sun.  But you get an idea of what the path will look like. 

If the weather cooperates, I hope to get the stones in place and the step-able plants (not pictured) planted between the stones.  If it rains all week or stays in the high 90s, not so much will get accomplished.  Time will tell.
This picture is taken on the deck.  You can see a few remaining stones on the table.  I'll take them down later, after sunset.  The plants on the talbe and on the chair are some I just bought.  The red ones on the table will go in a pot and stay on the deck, probably.  The green/white one will go below the deck, in the deep shade.  There is also a begonia, which needs to go somewhere, but I don't know where.  The petunias in the little yellow and blue pots live on the table, but have been temporarily displaced by the stones! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

around my house and yard

I'm going to try to put up some photos, but Blogger has gone all weird, so I don't know how successful I'll be.  It wasn't this way when I last posted, but I think I wrote a post the other day that never was posted.  I'll see if this one is successful.

I like to make little scenes using some of my nick-knacks and pictures.  Obviously, these are beach scenes.

  Here are some garden scenes.   First, a red hibiscus in the front yard.  Each bloom only lasts a day, but they are gorgeous.  Next, a butterfly visiting the cone flowers. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A busy few weeks

After only a week at home from England, I drove up to Bath, NY (my childhood home town) to help my brother and sister-in-law pack for their move to Wisconsin.  (They will spend summers up there, near their daughters.  Winter in Florida as usual.)  They have lived in that house in Bath for 60 years and have never experienced a 'move'.  I tried to give advice to my brother, rather unsuccessfully, about how to pack breakable items. (He's a retired engineer and doesn't easily take advice from his younger sister.)   Luckily there weren't many valuable, breakable items and I think the box with them went into the car, rather than with the moving van.  Hopefully, nothing was broken.  My niece, Terry came down on Sunday (a week ago) to help with the packing and to drive a pickup truck to Wisconsin.  She is an artist and knows how to safely pack art, so I left the job of packing up the paintings, mirrors and glass shelves to her.  Hopefully, the travelers are in Wisconsin today, waiting for the moving van to arrive. 

We had some excitement up there when a huge branch from a tree out by the road detached itself from the tree and landed on power lines (didn't break them).  The neighborhood came out to watch the guys from the local electric company saw bits off the branch and finally tie it to a really tall metal pole on a truck, lift it off the wires, and drop it to the ground.  They did a really good job.  I'll post a few photos below.

I got home a week ago and got back into my usual schedule, more or less.  Luckily I was home, as we had a huge storm Thursday night and lost power for 27 hours. Actually, I"d just as soon have been elsewhere, but for peace of mind, I'm glad I was at home.  My fridge/freezer stayed cold and I slept in the basement on a very comfortable futon.  In fact, I practically lived in the basement until the power came back on.  I discovered that it's really hard to read or do a crossword puzzle using a flashlight!!  All is well here as to the electric and I hope it stays that way! 

One odd coincidence - a tree down the street lost a huge branch, very much like the one I saw in NY.  Neighbors all came out to look at it and eventually to trim off branches so that cars could drive past it.  I brought out my little tree saw (hand powered) and some very large clippers.  No one else seemed to have the tools needed for sawing through green wood.  Gardeners are always prepared!  We have buried power lines, so no problem there.  (Of course our power was off anyway, due to the storm!) I"m pretty sure the tree will have to come down.  There is a tear almost all the way down one side.  Our homeowners association will have to pay for that.  We're lucky it didn't fall on anyone's car.  All these photos are of the branch that fell in Bath, NY. 

 Here's the guy in the little cherry picker basket sawing off small limbs. 

The second photo shows the long-armed thing they used to lift and hold the branch above the power lines.

The last photo shows the branch suspended upright, being lowered to the ground.  You can see how big it was.

I just want to say that I've had enough excitement in my life recently and would like a peaceful, uneventful summer!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

trip to England

This is my first time using Blogger's new format.  I don't like it.  I find it much harder to find my way around.  Why do all these companies update with making things harder, rather than keeping things simple?

I recently spent 2 weeks in England, visiting Kate and family. (Geoff, Sarah, Olivia, Alex).  With three kids, it was as usual a boisterous, busy visit.  I had one week on my own, as Kate and the kids were still in school.  The weather that week was wonderful - in the 70s with no rain.  I went on a day trip tour of Salisbury (Cathedral) and Stonehenge.  Our guide (from London Walks) was very knowledgeable  and provided sometimes humorous cometary.  I took scads of photos, which can be found on my Flickr site:   I also did a tour of London which took in a number of oddities.  This included memorials to Gilbert and Sullivan and Oscar Wilde.  Also one for the British Camel Corps.  That one consisted of a statue of a camel, created by the military man who was in charge of the Corps.

The week when the kids and Kate were on holiday had much worse weather.  There was a street party on Sunday to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  Lots of food and drink under a tent, because it was drizzling and chilly.  We watched the boats and the Royal Barge sailing on the Thames on the telly.  You couldn't have paid me to be in London during the celebrations.  We also watched the celebration outside Buckingham Palace, at home on the telly.  The Brits sure do put on a good celebration - especially lights and fireworks!

Kate and I and various kids went to an historic home - Polesden Lacy.  It's a beautiful home, although the decor is not to my taste.  Lots of crystal chandeliers, gold framed mirrors and antique furniture.  Rather overwhelming, but very impressive.

 Kate, Alex and I went to Wistley Gardens.  I love those gardens!  They are spectacular and quite large.  We didn't try to see all of it.  Roses were blooming along with azaleas and rhododendron and much more.  It rained just a bit, but luckily we were in a wooded area at that time, so didn't get wet.
 This is one of the rock gardens.
Another day we went to the British Museum.  It was a mob scene outside when we arrived.  Hundreds of people under umbrellas (it was raining a bit) waiting to get inside.  Evidently there was some sort of security problem, but eventually the lines moved and we got in.  The most popular exhibits (Magna Carta, mummies, etc.) were overflowing with visitors, but we went upstairs to the Mexican exhibit and some other less popular areas and were practically the only visitors there. I find the place overwhelming and can only enjoy a few hours, which is about Alex's limit as well.  

The day before I left, I went back into London to visit my favorite museum - the Victoria and Albert.  I took photos and gazed longingly at ceramics and glass and also  enjoyed a room featuring very early photography.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Long time gone by

I realized the other day that I had not blogged anything for several months.  I guess I haven't been doing anything worth chatting about.  I have been fairly busy this spring, especially with the Senior Chorus at the Bain Center.  We've been busy rehearsing for our spring concerts.  The first one was a concert with a student chorus at Howard Community College.  We sang some numbers by ourselves, then they sang with us.  Finally, they sang some numbers by themselves.  I have to say that those young people were quite a bit better than we were.  Of course it helps to be twenty-something instead of seventy-something!   In addition to that concert, we also sang at a Senior apartment complex and at the Bain Senior Center.  The group will start up again in the fall.  I've enjoyed singing with this group.  The music isn't very difficult, but we have an interesting variety of songs.  And, best of all from my point of view is that we rehearse during the day.  I find it very hard to go to night meetings, even for something like singing, which I really love.

This spring I finally got most of the deck cleaned and re-sealed.  It is a bit of an undertaking, mostly because I have about 30 pots (full of dirt and plants) as well as a metal table and 4 chairs, a stepladder, garbage can, recycle bin, yard waste basket, and small shelf unit - all of which have to be moved from one side to the other in order to work on the deck floor.  I cleaned the deck using a long-handled brush and a mixture called Outdoor Clorax.  I have to cover the plant below the deck so that the stuff doesn't drip onto them.  It burns the leaves if it touches them.  Somehow I managed to do all the heavy moving without messing up my back!  It took weeks to complete the job (actually it's not quite done) because for the sealing/staining I had to have 3 days in a row without rain.  We had a lot of rain this spring, so this prolonged the deck work.  A couple of weeks ago, I finally did get the flat surfaces done, but the stairs still await my attention.  I ran out of sealer too.  However, the deck looks much better now and I noticed that the rain now forms puddles on the surface, rather than soaking in. One of these days, I will get the stairs done.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a day in DC with cherry blossoms

As I wrote on Facebook, my friend Lynne and I went into DC on Monday to see the Annie Leibowitz display (Pilgrimage) at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (or whatever it's name is).  Since the museum doesn't open until 11:30, we decided to stop off to see the cherry blossoms.  The paths around the Tidal Basin had lots of tourists, although they were not impossibly crowded, and many, many cherry trees all blooming.  We took photos - quite a few.  I'll post a few here.  It was a lovely sunny day, but not too hot.  Just perfect for being outside.

After seeing the blossoms, we went into China Town and ate lunch.  Boy has that place changed since I was last there!  There are all these US stores with their names written in Chinese.  I think we saw ONE Chinese restaurant.  We didn't actually go under the arch, but just went along the street the Metro is on, so perhaps there are authentic Chinese stores and restaurants on the other streets.  We ate at a place that seemed Asian and featured broiled chicken.  Delicious food.  We did go into one Chinese store - it was amazing!   They had very inexpensive embroidered house slippers (I bought a pair) and
 shelf after shelf of lovely pottery, which I managed to resist.  Lots of Chinese spices too and other foods.

After lunch, we went to the museum.  The photography display was interesting.  She is a marvelous photographer.   If left me wondering how Annie L. selected the places she would visit.  Each photo was connected to a person (at least most of them were).  The people were not all Americans - several were English.  Some were writers, some artists, some pop stars (Elvis), quite a variety.  We didn't have time to visit the rest of the museum.  I plan to go back one of these days. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Raku firing

We did a Raku firing on Sunday.  I've blogged about these before, so won't explain what that is.  Just say that it involves waiting around for things to heat up and then to cool down.  There are brief moments of haste (carrying very hot pieces from kiln to burning barrel, but mostly it's sit around and wait.  I was there from 1 PM until about 8 - a very long day.  Everyone brings food to share and come evening we build a fire in a barrel and burned (oops, I mean grilled) hot dogs for dinner.  This was a very successful firing for me, as I came home with 3 pieces that I really like and one that is ok.   These are the ones I like. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow at last.

 Views from under the deck.  I love the way the snow clings to the bushes.
 This is a bush out front - Mahonia (aka Grape Holly)  It has nasty spikes on the end of the leaves, so it's probably not a good choice for where it is planted - by the front steps.  However, it blooms in February, which is such fun.  Lately, with all the warm weather, the scent from the blooms was very strong and attracted many little bees.  Getting in and out of the house had to be done carefully, so as not to disturb the insects.  We don't have honeybees, so I think these may actually have been yellow jackets (wasps), but they were so busy enjoying a winter treat that they just ignored me.  Thank goodness!

We have just a bit of snow.  Not enough to need shoveling or even sweeping off the front sidewalk.  Enough to cling to bushes and look pretty.  This is exactly my kind of snow.  If I feel energetic later today, I might wander around the neighborhood and take more photos.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Start of another week

Yesterday, I didn't get much accomplished.  I did get online and check on my transfers that I had previously made from one bank to another.  I was a bit nervous about them, as I had never done online transfers before.  However, all is well with them.  I find that the older I get, the more energy it takes to complete even simple business transactions, online or over the phone.  I spent some time yesterday trying to get some information from my health care provider (the Blues).  I started out at the website, thinking it would be a simple matter to find the info.  Ha!  Should have known better.  As far as I could tell, the information needed was not anywhere on the website.  I ended up on the phone and was further frustrated by the messages that repeat over and over again while one is waiting to talk to a live person.  The stupid recording keeps talking about how info can be found on the website and how much faster it is to do that.  I wanted to scream at someone (no one was listening, of course) to just shut up!  I wouldn't have been on hold on the phone is I could have found the information online.  When I finally did reach a real person, I got the info very quickly, but the whole process took far too long.  Maybe as I grow older, I am also becoming less patient, although I suspect I have never been tolerant of idiot messages on the phone.  To really top off the day, I had yet another frustrating experience online.  This time I was trying to arrange for a pickup by an airport shuttle company.  I couldn't work the online system - it just never gave me a place to put in my place of pick-up (my home).  I called the company and after a bit of shuffling around managed to talk to a local rep.  He was able to explain what I needed to do in order to make the reservation online.  It was simple, but not obvious, at least not to me.  Now if I can just remember this the next time I need to book a shuttle!!

That was all the frustration I could deal with in one day.  Hopefully, today will go much more smoothly.  It should, as I think I don't have to conduct any business online! 

I have already posted on Facebook the photos from the Raku firing on Saturday.  I made a bunch of little faces, that came out very well.  I plan to mount them on a board of some sort.  A friend suggested they would look good on a board from an old barn.  I don't happen to know of any old barns around here, so that probably won't happen.  Anyway, here's a photo of the faces.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A strange morning

 I've not seen clouds like these before.  Thought they were worth a few photos.  There wasn't any wind blowing, at least not that I could see or feel.   I have no idea what caused this odd pattern.

The other strange thing about this morning is that shortly after I got up, my back started hurting.  I've had trouble on and off with my sciatica, but always before, I could figure out what I had done to trigger it.  (Moving furniture, too much gardening, pulling vacuum cleaner around, etc.) This time, I haven't a clue.  It rather messed up my plans for the weekend.  I was going to get out and trim off the rest of the dead stems on my plants and perhaps clean up the deck a bit.  Instead, I am sitting with a heating pad against my back, trying not to have to get up very often and moving very slooowly.  Typically, this problem will be over by tomorrow, but it's a real nuisance while it lasts.  I really would like to have a 30 year old body instead of this one that is 70 +!!  Anybody want to trade? 

Yesterday, our lunch bunch (3 of us) ate at a 'new' restaurant - Busboys and Poets.  It's located in Hyattsville, along route 1.  I had not been in that area in years.  Boy, has it changed!  There is a new 'art district' a few block further south and the whole area is undergoing renovation.  A number of lots are empty, but with evidence that something may soon be built.  There are some very interesting new apartment buildings on one side street.  There are several new restaurants and some old ones that are getting spiffed up.  Wells Fargo Bank has a huge new building on a corner.  All these improvement have been a long time coming.  It's good to see rejuvenation along a run-down major street.  The restaurant where we ate had really good food and the service was attentive, but it's one of those places with the ceilings open to the rafters, which means it's extremely noisy!  I wish this were not the style for restaurants.  It's not a place to try to have a conversation.  I probably will not go back, because of that.  It might be a good place to eat with noisy kids, so I'll keep it in mind for the next time Kate and family visit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My busy week

I am the jewelry buyer for the hospital gift shop.  I volunteered for this job last spring when the shop got a new manager.  It's really fun!  I get to look at an incredible amount of pins, necklaces, scarfs, bracelets, rings, earrings and watches.  Then I chose items that are affordable and that I think will sell in the shop.  We try to keep our prices under $20, although sometimes necklace/earrings sets are priced a bit higher.  This week we had two buying opportunities - one at a discount place in Rockville and the other from a company whose rep brings samples to us.  The place in Rockville has a much wider selection, but it's a bit more expensive on some items.  I bought from both vendors.  After selecting jewelry for this spring and summer, I then have to put our price on each piece.  Finally, I rearrange the display cases to include some of the new items.  I can't do much of that on the days when I'm running the cash register, so I went in several times before the shop opened.  The only day I wasn't there this week was Tuesday.  It's almost as if I was actually working at a paying job!  Next week will be back to normal.

One of the things I did recently was explore whether I could get a lower rate on my mortgage.  This was an interesting experience, although not profitable.  I applied on-line and subsequently received a letter telling me that I was qualified for a 15-year mortgage and what the interest rate would be.  They did not mention other fees, so I was hoping those were wrapped into the amount of loan they mentioned.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  When I spoke on the phone with a rep, they quoted me a higher monthly payment, which included various fees.  This is the company that already holds my mortgage, so it seemed to me that they did not need to run a title search; pay taxes in advance; and do a couple of other things that are related to a NEW mortgage.  However, they say that is not the case and they have to do all the various paperwork and issue me a new mortgage.  Too bad.  I said 'no thanks'.  I have a rather small mortgage, so the interest isn't much of a burden, despite my rate being higher than what is now offered.  I think they are not really interested in refinancing a small mortgage.  They kept asking me if I didn't want to borrow extra money.  Oh well, at least now I know not to bother with refinancing.  Lesson learned.

I am taking a Raku pottery class again this winter.  It's rather expensive, so I only do this once or twice a year, rather than just continuing to take the class year round.  I don't have any photos from that class, as the first firing is still a week away.  "Watch this space" as they say.  There is more to come.

I also signed up for the 'Bain Senior Chorus'.  We start rehearsals next week.  I have no idea what kind of music we will be singing.  (At Christmas, it was mostly pop music and carols).  Our next concerts are in May.  Singing with this group is fun.  So far the music has not been very difficult, but it's interesting music.  A few years ago, I joined a large interdenominational choir that sang religious music.  The sound produced by about 100 voices was amazing, but the music was dreadful.  It was corny and simplistic - just not my kind of music.  I stayed for one concert, but that was all.   I sing in my church choir and really enjoy the music there, but it's not really enough, so I'm always looking for other singing groups.  Unfortunately, most of them meet at night.  I'm really tired at night, so I try not to get involved in evening activities.  I currently have two a week, sometimes three.  The Bain chorus meets day times, which is great for me.

Today our lunch group, which is very small this week, is trying a new (to me) restaurant in Hyattsville - Busboys and Poets.  One of our group has been there and recommended it.  She gave me directions, which I hope I can follow.  I used to know the area really well, as I worked near there, however I haven't been there much in the last 20 years.  Wish me luck finding the place!

Friday, January 20, 2012

more photos from the Christmas Fair in Hyde Park

 This snowman was a 'bouncy castle' inside.  It was really huge, although it's hard to tell from the photo.
 I'm not quite sure what this photo shows.  I think it might be the merry-go-round in the foreground.  Well, actually the Coke cup is in the foreground, but I wasn't counting that as an object of interest!
 Here's the big slide. 
 Swan boats, of course!
 This should be "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!"  However, I didn't see any lions.  Maybe they are hiding behind all the other stuff.

Below is the last booth, located just before we exited the fest grounds.  I thought the "Singing Chicken Show" would be interesting, but no one else wanted to see it!  LOL

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More photos from England trip - The Christmas Fair

 Lots of jewelry here.  No, I did NOT buy any earrings!  At least not here....
 Cute kid, - not one of my grandkids - on the carousel.  Really interesting beasts for riding.
 Didn't see Santa at 'his' pub.  In England he's mostly called Father Christmas, anyway. Lots of other folks were enjoying the beverages.
I was surprised that the kids didn't want to go on this one.  They love roller coasters.
Don't know what this ride did, but it looked like it was more my speed. I want to stay on the ground and not spin around too fast!  When it comes to carnivals, I'm really a 'cheap date'.  I don't go on most of the rides.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

back in the swing

It seems as if I jumped right back into all my activities here when I returned from England last week.  No rest for the busy, I guess.  Actually I enjoy all my activities and like being busy.  A few things have changed recently.  I gave up volunteering at the church library back in the fall, when I joined a senior choir at the Bain Center.  Singing with the group was great and I will continue with them.  The choir is on break just now, but will resume sometime in the spring.  The other major change in my schedule is that the pottery class I used to teach is not currently being held.  The rec center wants to have at least 6 students in the class and they only got 2 for the latest session.  So, I'm not teaching on Monday afternoons.  I really miss the women who were in that class.  Also, the money was nice - it wasn't a huge amount, just 'running around money' but ....  I don't want a job that ties me down and in today's economy, I haven't even considered looking.  Luckily my retirement is sufficient for my needs.  I signed up for a Raku class at Montpelier Arts Center.  I try to get in at least one of these sessions a year.  Raku firing is so different from regular kiln firing.  The pieces are very unique - I love them. 

 While I was in England, I took many photos  - mostly of the trip into London to see the lights.  I put a couple of pictures up on Facebook, but will post some here as well.  We had a very good day for that excursion - it was warm enough for us to NOT NEED COATS!  In addition to the store windows, we chanced upon a Christmas fair, so I have photos of the brightly decorated booths and rides.  With sunset coming so early in December (about 4 PM) we were able to wander around to view the street decorations and still catch a train home in time for dinner.
 The first photo is self-explanatory - Kate giving Alex a hair cut.  His hair was really long (for Alex) when I arrived, but I think he likes it shorter - just like his dad.

These other photos were taken at the Christmas Festival in Hyde Park.  The booths were highly decorated, as you can see.  We didn't buy anything and the kids didn't beg to go on rides, which surprised me.  We did get a bit to eat/drink.  Alex had cotton candy, Kate and I mulled wine.  I forget what the girls nibbled on.  Despite the crowds, it was fun just strolling around the festival.  We walked from there back into the shopping district to view Christmas displays.  I'll save those photos for another entry.