Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Ds. and the Toilet Paper Caper

I thought I'd got away with not mentioning the plumbing adventures around here to the Dollivers, and nearly did, until they got wind of the President's Correspondents' Dinner this weekend, complete with comic turns, most of them politicians, and fancy duds.

They noted the references to the Veepstakes, as Romney attempts to select a VP candidate for his ticket who is not known for carrying dogs on top of cars,but I did wonder: if he'd been flying the jet that carried the space station around recently, would he have had his dog's crate put on top of the whole thing, but I digress.

Anyway, the Ds. pointed out that the least they could get in this situation was the Teepstakes, aka Toilet Paper Caper. So I heaved a sigh and made the requisite costumes from the aforementioned material. After a brisk struggle for candidate, Michelle got to hold the scissors for the Ribbon Cutting, mainly because she's the one with the Long White Queenly Gloves.

Cutting complete, to the roars of acclaim from the crowds, well, from the Ds. and Elton, the dogs being banned from this ceremony since they'd want to drink from the bowl, the party moved into the bathroom to celebrate, with a piano medley by Elton, complete in his TP hat.

He had evidently taken care in his selections, and gave us first a rousing rendition of My Country 'tis of Thee, which the Ds pointed out is the same tune as the brit national anthem, thereby satisfying both cultures. This was followed by a merry farrago of dance tunes suitable for May Day which is almost upon us, and he noted astutely, would not result in another party with new outfits, may as well seize the day and celebrate now, then Paper Moon, Beautiful Dreamer, and Hey, Hey, The Gang's All Here.

As I left, they were breaking out the beverages, but I thought I needed a rest after all the excitement. The Dollivers insist that you click to enlarge and admire their ingenious new outfits.

Friday, April 27, 2012

You know you've been seeing too many plumbers when...

...when your phone rings, the screen shows it's the plumber, and he starts, hey Liz, howya doin'? meet you over there in ten...

As of even date, all the toilets in the townhouse are not only working just lovely, but they are, get this ADA compliant!!! when I finished laughing about this, the plumber assured me this is Important For People Getting On a Bit...all it means is they're a bit taller than the norm. fine by me, but I wonder if the person also has to be a bit taller than the norm to get the best advantage...I speak as a rather small woman these days.

Funny, when I was 12 I'd reached my adult height, a great big five foot five, and towered over the kids in my class, who all thought of me as a giant. Then gradually they grew, I stood still, and I am now considered really teeny among the true giants I live among. I've taught classes where I practically had to jump up to look people in the eye.

And the other property, speaking of plumbers, which I originally was, now has a new water heater and new washer hoses, nothing wrong with the old ones, but the HOA over there insists on replacing stuff rather frequently, and I figured, what the heck, let's go for another toilet, as well,I'm on a roll here, oh, pun, sorry.

And I guess the plumbers have a couple of boat payments now to play with, oh well. I'll miss their constant visits, but I like to think of them cruising happily around Cape May, fishing.

I've been wondering if I ought to have a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the new bathroom facilities, but that would entail new clothes for Dollivers and ribbon cutting type hats, you know, the sort the Queen wears when she declares bathrooms open and God bless all who, well, sail in them. So I decided to postpone a decision on the ceremony.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reading and other food for thought

No, I'm not confused as to which blog I'm in! I just thought, since it's time to chat about a book or two, that I may as well make and upload a drawing, just as quick as taking a picture, my usual practice, and I think probably more interesting, except that I have to be more specific about what books I'm talking about.

The red one on top is David Lodge's "Thinks", which is a brand new looking paperback which I brought home all interested to see what he's doing lately, long time since I read any of him, and found, aaaarhrhrhrhrh, I've read it when it came out in hardback. This is a snare and a delusion, since newly issued books, and there are more and more of them lately, get shelved by our local libe as new books. Like heck as like, as my Lancashire pals were wont to say.

So rather than rereading, I just draw it to your attention. He's one of those very earnest male writers who can not grasp that he has slim to no insight into how women think, or feel, or operate, but never gives up on trying, as if the left brain would magically throw open that right brain door which enables anyone to grasp anything about anyone else. And I have to admit I do read him, just in case he's got it yet. He's an entertaining writer, once you deal with this lacuna in his abilities.

And the other really is a new book, Anne LaMott's latest, written with her son Sam, "Some Assembly Required." Oh dear. I usually love her writing, because she's so astute and has a gift for the phrase that just creates the scene in your mind. But here, aside from the parts written by her son, which sound very much like, look Ma I'm writing! big thoughts, big words, get me, look no hands, etc. No reason youthful stuff should make it into Mommy's book, better he should earn his chops the usual way.

Anyway, aside from all that, she truly does seem to be desperately and frantically trying to control everything, the new grandchild, the mom of the grandchild, who withstands her with great patience and kindness, amazing in a 19 year old girl, and the humor doesn't make it this time. Aside from a long travelogue about her trip to India, than which not much is less interesting.

All in all, I wish she'd waited to write this for a few years, anyway, to digest what's up, and maybe she'll write a new version. This one's okay, I guess, but oh such a far cry from her wonderful best. I think she's in great pain because she's not the principal player in anyone's life now. Even the old relative who died is out of her orbit, and the young family makes it clear that they are, too. this is a hard situation, and I wonder how many grandmothers have driven away the younger generation just out of their sheer neediness.

You'll have noticed that this book gripped me totally,no matter what I say about it! so there's that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Walk Alone!

I take a walk every day, at whatever time suits me, all depending on weather and my current state of energy. And it's amazing how many other people insist that they want to come along, because then they'll do it! They want to set up a regular time and walk, and I'm now up to friend number five whom I've had to tactfully duck, because I don't want company when I walk.

It's a walking meditation, a time to think, to get ideas, to just breathe, to go at my own pace, to come home when I've walked enough. Not to chat and trip over other people's dogs, I hate walking with dogs, done enough of it for this lifetime, and if it's the dog's walk that's fine, I'll do it, but if it's my walk, I don't feel called upon. I guess I'm antisocial, at least as far as walking is concerned. But I'm quite nice really, as long as you don't try to tag along.

What I don't get is why if people want to walk every day they don't just do it? just setup a timetable, and do it. It seems as if they need me to carry them along or something. Very puzzling.

Today, the horses were out, nibbling happily in the field around the stables I pass, several fields, strung out along a road, so it's great to catch horses in sight and take their pictures. I stayed in my car across the road this time, because if I go to the fence, they all trot over curiously and want to snuffle at my camera and generally assume that whatever a human brings might be a treat for them, which results in really blurry pictures.

One of them is a rugged individual who likes to eat alone, near the fence, sometimes putting his head through it to eat from the other side. There's a lesson here!

click to enlarge and see my friends better.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Happy Earth Day, people, animals, flowers, weeds....lovely rain here today, just what they all needed right now

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Now for the serious stuff

Away with all this work and fret! it's time to get down to the real essence of life. Cake.

I made my first Yellow Cake, from the same ancient cookbook that yielded the coffee cake that people needed the recipe for. I mention that it's an ancient cookbook, since in recent times the association of yellow cake is strictly with uranium production rather than a nice little nosh with your afternoon tea.

This, however is in fact a nice cake recipe. It did call for the use of a hand mixer, which I don't use much, but have one of. At least I did when I started out this afternoon. Alas, after a couple of minutes beating of this recipe, smoke started to pour out of it, and I unplugged it and ran outside to set it down before it burst into flame, thereby possibly baking the cake before it was in the oven.

This breakdown was unfortunate, since there was a lot of beating yet to do. However, I remembered my Downton Abbey, and how the cook would have grimly set to work with her wooden spoon and strong arms, or shouted for Daisy to do it. Well, I have a wooden spoon. Alas, the counters are a bit high for beating stuff for a lady who nowadays barely tops five foot three, so I had to rest the bowl in the sink, an exciting procedure.

I did soldier on, all good ingredients, you know, and was quite surprised to get an edible result, which you see here. If one of the cakes appears shorter than t'other, it's because the cook needed a sample. It was nice that the recipe made two loaves, too. It's the kind of mixture that you can make cupcakes if you happen to have the paper cases, which I didn't, or a muffin pan, which I don't, or various other shapes and sizes of cake, but I'm rich in bread pans, so I thought, hm, let's call it Pound Cake, and make it loaves. Pounded. Done.

So this is good. I now have a little bit of something nice with tea, if Handsome Son should come by, or a friend desperate for a cup of tea and a little something, or if I fancy a slice meself. And while I nibbled, who am I kidding? tore into, my slice of cake, I ordered a new mixer online.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What I do in my spare time...

Aside from all the usual woes of home ownership and maintenance, including a frantic call from the local tax office to say I forgot to sign my check, and they're sorry, their staff missed it too, and can I come in and sign it, and on and on, and daily stuff, and the art commitments I seemed to be buried under, I also have free time, and thanks to the embroiderers' group, I have a nice restful project to work on then!

This is the first pre-designed thing I've ever done, kindly drawn out for everyone in the group, onto the canvas, and with access to all kinds of wonderful needlepoint yarn. So I decided that my turtle was a great chance to try out all kinds of stitches -- this is also the largest mesh I ever worked in, it's all a learning time -- something different happening in each division on the shell. Officially this is supposed to end up being a pillow, but I have other thoughts about it. Meanwhile, I'm plying my size 22 (huge compared to the needle I used to use for miniature needlework) needle and having a very nice time. It's so undemanding, unlike original art, and just the ticket for sitting by the window for an hour zoning out while the radio chats on.

For more serious stuff, though it may not seem so, I have a couple more drawings in Art the Beautiful Metaphor, for which go here

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Artists' Traveling Journal starts its journey, soon, that is

I've made the Artists' Traveling Journal, which came into existence partly because of the work blogistas here put into our International Traveling Journals a while back,which fired up local artists to do likewise, except this one is hand to hand, not going via mail. So I was able to make a bigger book, not having to consider postage and shipping size and expense and so on.

If you'd like to see what you've wrought, go here

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sayen Gardens, reprise!

This is the location of the Duelling Brides scene a while ago, and though weddings were imminent while I was strolling around there today, and painting out of doors, I was through before encountering any of the brides.

Lovely time between seasons, early spring now fading, daffodils ending, azaleas starting up, trees leafing out but the canopy is still light enough that a lot of sun gets through. Grandparents hauling little kids around assuring them that they're enjoying this, they are, and no, they may not swim in the lake, just stay on the path, oh now look what he's done, Linda, we'll have to go home for clean clothes now and so on.

I calmed down enough to make a painting, very unusual for me, since usually I'm too blitzed by all the visual stimuli out of doors, but today I did manage a painting. To the accompaniment of friendly passers by saying things like, look, people still DO that, how cute, and what's that woman doing there, oh, I see, that looks like a good idea, wonder if I can try that, etc. And noting that I drank from my water bottle from which I poured drops of water onto my brush, and wondering if I was going to collapse from crayon poisoning maybe.

I suvived anyway,and if you'd like to see the resulting work, go here

Friday, April 13, 2012

Phoebes and other friends

Cool, bright weather, perfect for walking down by the pond. Trees opening leaves and wonderful scent of honey around these blossoms and reflections of trees in water, one of my favorite things to see.

Cool, bright weather, perfect for walking down by the pond. Trees opening leaves and wonderful scent of honey around these blossoms and reflections of trees in water, one of my favorite things to see.

And the birds evidently thought so, too. As I stood on the little bridge suddenly there was one, then there were two, then there were many barnswallows, and tree swallows and a couple of purple martins, out of nowhere swooping and flying over and around me, under the bridge I was standing on, and up on the other side, making sharp U turns and back under the bridge again. This is a favorite nesting site, so I guess these were the early arrivals from wherever they spent the winter.

And there was a pair of phoebes, obligingly saying their name over and over, lovely alto sound like singing not whistling, and sitting around close enough to try for a picture.

Here's one in a tree

and the other one of the pair checking out the bridge

And Carolina wrens shouting endlessly, all around, huge noise from a tiny bird.

And among all this wealth, a cormorant appeared from underwater and swam around, very hard to picture, since as soon as you get him in the frame, he dives and reappears yards away. These are very primitive birds who have to get out of the water and stand on a low branch to dry their wings after diving for a while, not enough natural oils to let the water roll off as they swim. Cormorants are a good sign that the water's clean and the fishing is good.

And that life in general is good, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Housekeeping and a bathroom counter drawing

First, I hope that my frenzied attempts to remove the word verification which was reported to me by a couple of frustrated wouldbe commenters, has worked. Evidently when dear ole Blogger overhauled behind the scenes, it made the word verif a default, whereas I had always set it to default to no word verif, not wanting to make life any harder.

I could only get the "no" setting to stay put, after many many attempts after which it would default right back again to "yes", by putting in comment moderation. So that's why this is there. I do read comments quickly, so there's not a big delay in getting your words out here, and I trust the the word verif. stays away.

Should it suddenly show up -- I guess you realize that it's impossible for the blog owner to know this? it shows only on guest commenters' screens -- please complain instantly, and I will go after it with a shovel, or Roundup or something.

Today I made a moderately successful drawing, as I sat on the side of the bathtub -- just in case you were wondering! -- and drew what was on the counter, the finished toothpaste tube before I tossed it, and the replacement and the various other items in use.If this enthralling description leads you to actually want to see it, go here

I made at least five attempts to get my paragraph breaks used by blogger, and this is my final try. They really have done a job on this site! sorry if it's hard to read, not for lack of trying. I'm trying one more workaround, and then I'm out of ideas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ancient history and new life

My honorary grand daughter and her mother came over this morning in search of information. GD has to research information for a class discussion, HS junior, on the Vietnam War. She had a sheet of questions she asked me to respond to, and I realized that to her this is history. To me it all happened a few minutes ago.

I told her, above the bare bones of what she needed to know from me, about the Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees we'd worked with, to help them get ESL and some sort of a life here, and about the American vets who'd come home terribly disabled, and how HP tried to help them get back into the scientific workforce.

And about the old Quaker ladies who had stood in silent protest day after day downtown in the square, in a very conservative town many of whose citizens were fully in support of the war, and what great courage it took to be a pacifist. And about how close that war was to all of us, largely because we had the draft then, and how passionately people felt on both sides. And the flak I took at work for having my organization declared a Peace Site!

She scribbled furiously the whole time I was talking, and it was a surprisingly moving time for me, too, to recall that awful time. When she and her mother got up to leave, I gave them each a decorated egg, a kind of symbol of continuing life. They don't observe Easter, but they accepted it as a token of Spring anyway!

Meanwhile,back in the kitchen, cooking continues, life and drawing go on, and if you'd like to see today's drawing, go here

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eggs, Parades, Spring, Easter, Hats!

The Dollivers, with Elton and The Dogs, wish all our blogistas a Happy Easter, a good Passover, Happy Spring and Happy Opening Day (for baseball enthusiasts). After their Easter parade,
among the daffodils HS and I planted last Fall in honor of Handsome Partner, to show off their new hats and dresses, they retired to the living room, and set up with Marigold and Duncan as an appreciative if puzzled audience
where they showed off this year's official eggs
and the general collection.
Elton and The Dogs had new finery, too, to match the Ds., and Elton played away the weekend with renditions of Easter Parade, Who Let the Dogs Out, and gave a nice recitative of When Aprille with his shoures sweet, the beginning of the Canterbury Tales, no idea he knew it, just goes to show, then he indulged his group with a chorus of How Much Is That Doggie in the Window, which they barked along more or less on key. The Ds were too busy diving into eggs to participate. As they say, once the dresses are settled, the food is the main event.

Friday, April 6, 2012

White violets in the woods today

Lovely walk today, cool, sunny, wonderful light for walking and seeing. I got my first sight of the white violets this year, all out and blazing away, a whole bank of them. If you'd like to see the drawing that resulted, go here

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Despite blogger's updates, here's a new post over on Art the Beautiful Metaphor!

Blogger appears to have improved its system to where it's impossible to make a complete link, so here's a partial one that will get you to the blog, and the lates post which is what I wanted to show you. The only thing is that once I post again over there, you'll have to scroll. Bear with me. I wish the PTB at blogger would just find a nice hobby and stop futzing with their blogworld! Anyway, new drawing, couple of painting if you scroll down, here

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blossom madness Spring walk

No need for a narrative here. After a day of close stitching, involving a lot of couching on my labyrinth embroidery, and some assembling of a rolling stretcher doohickey for my needlepoint -- never worked big enough to need one before, being of the miniature persuasion-- my eyes demanded a rest, and I went out to stroll about in the sunshine.
And saw a lot, some of which I show you here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Behind the Scenes in the Egg Studio

The Ds. pointed out that five is a perfect number of decorated Easter eggs, one each. I didn't break it to them, pun intended, that all but one have destinations already, so the Ds. and Elton and the Dogs (his new group) will have to share, but they will get a photo opp.

This triggered a mad scramble through the fabric basket for appropriate Easter stuff, preferably with an egg motif, and Elton applied for a new hatband to match, and insisted that all the Dogs get a new collar. This is getting out of hand.

Elton's pawing through his sheet music to put together his program of piano accompaniment to the shoot.

Anyway, up in the studio, the eggs are drying after several stages of painting and rolling in acrylic and drawing into wet paint with skewers.

Nail polish is the preferred varnish finish for them, so as not to asphyxiate any humans on the way.

This afternoon there's an embroidery adventure: my first meeting of the Guild, complete with project to do, yet to be seen. We'll see how this goes!