Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Simple Twist of Fate

Hi Folks,
Well, Another month has passed, and it's a cold bleak day in New England. A simple twist of fate (circumstance, karma) has me stranded in my favorite home in the "wilds of Worthington" with 3 dogs and a yard full of birds.


The twist was that after staying in all day on Saturday watching it snow, I decided to drive to the Old Creamery and pick up some food, including a nice hot container of clam chowder. After driving a few miles, I regretted my plan, but carefully continued on. Coming back, I slid into a tree and smashed in the front of my car. Luckily I wasn't hurt! I gathered my wallet, my groceries and walked to the nearest house. Some very nice people took me in and called 911 to get help.

Their house was warm and cozy. I was invited to eat with them, but decided to eat my clam chowder, which had popped open and squirted most of the groceries with goo. I cleaned up the tote bag and the groceries and ate the remaining soup.

Meanwhile, the fire dept. came and checked me all over, then the State Police came and asked me questions and called the ambulance. They checked me all over too and advised me to go to the hospital, which I refused, as I didn't feel any pain. Eventually, the tow truck came and towed my little Subaru away and these kind people drove me "home" to the dogs. I ended up with bruises on my shin and my breast (from the seatbelt).

My insurance doesn't cover rentals, and I really can't afford to rent a 4WD car.  Plenty of people have offered help, but with 6 miles of dirt roads and winter conditions, I haven't taken them up on it yet.  My office sent me work to do, and I have a couple of consulting jobs on the computer too, so here I am!

Please excuse the poor indoor photography!
Another twist--Since I moved in with Mom in October, I haven't had any place to play with art. The room that will be my studio was all full of tools, wood, sawdust and cobwebs. Big stuff like Dad's old workbench and Richard's grand piano (for sale cheap) littered the room, not to mention tons of nails, screws, washers bolts, hammers, screwdrivers, etc!

So a few weeks ago I started condensing and cleaning the room. If I couldn't get rid of the workbench, I could use it for my own work table. I found a couple of pieces of plywood to cover the holes and dirt and put it in a corner of the room. I cleaned and de-cobwebbed till I was sneezing and coughing. Then I stapled up some sheets over the bare 2x6's and hung a couple of corkboards. I brought in a cubicle cabinet with red containers in each cube. I laid a couple of old rugs on the cement floor and set up a couple of card tables to work on. (Everything else is pushed to the other side of the room for the moment.) I dug out lots of supplies and bought a few more.

On Jan 11, I invited Emily to come and do some art, thinking company would help me get creative. Em didn't make it, so I did a piece of art anyway. She didn't show up the next day either, so I did another one.  I determined to create one piece of art every day. Not only to expand my artistic mind, but to help me be in happy mode during this difficult time of the year.  I can easily become depressed when it is cold and gloomy, so I need to keep myself creative.  It is so uplifting to be playing with my art supplies!

Collage is my main genre, but I want to get more and more original. I also want my new art to be affirmative and to encourage people. I like to use recycled materials when I can. Eventually, I will get some painting lessons and mix things up.

I packed a pile of art supplies and brought them here to the "dog house" and kept working (playing). Today is day 11 and I'm still doing it!  For now I can say that being stranded with the dogs is, in a strange way, my own art retreat!

 You can see my daily artwork and follow me on Facebook.

Meanwhile I hope your twists of fate are all good ones!



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another Beautiful Day with my Best Friend

It has been a lovely day. After 2 or 3 long weeks of cold winter weather, we had a break today in the 40's with two more even warmer, though rainy, days coming up. A reprieve, as it were, on the solstice. When I lived in Colorado, we had these reprieves off and on all winter. Here, not so much!

Colorado snow!
I worked late last night on a computer consulting project, so I got to sleep in till 10!  Trisha called at 11 and said, "lets go!" and we went shopping. We stayed away from the weekend-before-Christmas crowds and headed for a little country town called Conway. We'd heard of a "pop-up shop" selling woven, felted and other lovely hand crafted items. This woman's studio and shop were beautiful. I envied her the organized, beautifully furnished space filled with weaving looms, a sewing machine, and tons of yarn and felting supplies.

After that we explored the Field Memorial Library in Conway. It is a wonderful green patina-domed rotunda with wings on 3 sides. It's ceiling is held up below the dome with marble pillars. Very patterned and veined marble. It also trims the doors and covers the walls. The floors are mosaics. This building was donated to the people of Conway by Marshall Field about the time of the industrial revolution when Andrew Carnegie was also building libraries around the country. What a wonderful sound our voices made echoing around under the dome. I think the librarian was happy to have us there, as we were the only guests. She never even hushed us. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my camera!

But where I was really anxious to go was "Loot", a newish store in Turners Falls which carries all kinds of factory, school, office and other old building cast-offs. Being a mixed media artist, this was right up my alley, so to speak! We must have poured over that stuff for an hour! There were typeface letters, and all kinds of other lettered signage, there were old newspaper ad plates, skeleton keys, little tiny things, big industrial things, some new and crafty things and many tiny succulent plants. There were big nail bins filled with amazing little vintagy things: old matches, ephemera, tags of many colors, old photos, die cut metal hearts, onionskin and other magical papers and things...

More loot
Turners Falls is an old factory town on the Connecticut River. There are still lots of working mills, but most of them are either empty or repurposed. Imagine the loot you could find in the attics and cellars of these old buildings! Evidently the owners of Loot did just that. Now, instead of running off to Homegoods, I think I'll be visiting Loot regularly!

Then the Loot folks sent us around the corner to Funkshun, which was fun too! They had aprons, potholders, various other stitched wonders made with these MAN fabrics. Trisha got an apron and a doll for Christmas presents. How fun is that!?!  They had WOMAN things too, Wonder Women and cowgirls...

We had a late lunch at the deli of the local co-op and watched the people walk by. A woman set up a guitar outside and sang her heart out.  "Halleluiah" by Leonard Cohen was the first one I heard and what a great voice!

One more thing I had to do was go to Trader Joe's and buy Pecans for my Mom's Christmas pie. (This year's requests were Pecan and Mincemeat pies.)  What a zoo that was! The pecan shelf was naked! There were no pecans in the store. I grabbed a bag of raw cashews for myself and got out of there. Another back road to our little town and we were home in time for supper!

I love a good weekend adventure with Trisha!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

A New Look

Hi Folks,
Well, the old pink background and header didn't call out to me, if you know what I mean, so I got a new look. Somewhere on the way to vintage Christmas, I came upon this nice fresh look and I decided to go with it. (I just love ShabbyBlogs.com!) I am pretty inept at photoshop, but I managed to resize the header so it would work well in the space.

My old garden
It is a good time for me to be thinking about new looks! I've moved out of my old digs and into Mom's. My space is limited here, so I have been bringing only what works in the two rooms. I sold my purple couches and lots of other things. My new living room has dark foresty green tweedy berber carpeting and the walls are off-white.

Humble Abode

In keeping with my wish to have sea glass colors in here, I'm gradually adding some color. I bought sheer curtains in a dusty blueish sage color, and white panels for the center. I really wanted nice turquoise drapes, but couldn't find enough matchy ones for the room, so the colored sheers will be the side colors, covering up the unfinished window frames. The next thing is to paint a lower half wall that has concrete blocks. It was going to be tiled, but for now, I think I'll just paint it a light tealish color.

Dad had plenty of work that never got done before his health failed him. Window and door frames and crown molding and floor trim in my living room and some upstairs trim work all need to be done. My 3 brothers are not so inclined, though at least one of them can be bribed with cash.  So I'm saving my money, cause the honey-do list is growing.

The last room of the house is Dad's carpentry shop, which has been used by a couple of brothers off and on over the 9 years since dad passed away. It will be my office and studio space. It is large with windows looking out the front and back of the house (woods all around). It is far enough away from Mom's loud TV, so I'll be able to shut the door, curl up in the old recliner with a good book, a cup of coffee with lots of cream, and daydream about my next project while listening to music--cozying up!

 A timely series of events must happen for me to get into that room:  First the 2 brothers who still live around here need to enclose a roofed in space beside the garage; then they have to move all the tools and things into that space. It will become Richard's workshop. (He wanted it before the snow flies, but oops, it did already!) Then, I get to insulate the walls between the 2x6's and get Jim to put up some paneling or beadboard. Then I'll paint the cement floor and bring in the storage and work units from the old house and set up my space. I can't wait...
Well, I can, I have to!

And we have to close off one downstairs furnace vent and open the wall in the stairwell for another one up there. And... Mom has been cleaning out the closet and art studio she had in "MY" room and cleaning out centuries (50 years) of clothes from her own closet. Today we cleaned out a lot of kitchen cabinet space for me to use. We took 3 boxes and 6 bags to Goodwill today. More to come!
I'm dreaming of a soft turquoise mid-century modern sofa from Thrive. Maybe I'll settle for something cheaper, but for now I have a futon for a sofa, so my niece can come and stay over when she wants. She's 18 and driving already!  I remember when she was four or five, I bought a recliner chair-and-a- half, so we could sit together and read and tell stories with the cats. I love that chair, but it is too big for my current living room. I do have a cozy spot picked out in the studio/office for a reading/music nook. That chair will be perfect there. Meanwhile I got a used recliner from my aunt. It's green and pretty comfy.


One sad thing, though, is that I had to put Snuggles the cat down. She was getting old and sickly and I couldn't bring her here. It was sad, but I had the vet, Dr. Joanne, come to the house and do it with Snuggles on my lap.  Very peaceful, and Jim, bless his little heart, took her away. I miss her and Fluffy so much, and I am sure that I see them out of the corner of my eye at least once a day!

Isn't this just the time for nesting and cozying up the home? I've been making lots of soup to share with Mom and getting all domestic here. Not wanting to leave messes, I've learned to clean up the kitchen instantly and not leave things in her living room.

I've taken my walking poles out for a trial run in my new neighborhood, and it's good walking here. My new neighborhood, indeed! I grew up in the house next door. But I haven't lived here since the early 70's. My friend Trisha built a house next door to her old homestead too, so we both live back where we came from. She's just up the road from me and our phone numbers are the same with two numbers switched.  It's The Circle of Life!

Dawn of A Feathered Nest or Graphics Fairy...
Hope you all have your nests feathered for the winter--Stay warm and cozy!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cool and Crispy!

Last weekend after my yard sale, my friend Paul and I loaded my two kayaks on the car and drove to the nearest open swamp area. The beavers have dammed it up by the road and the whole area is flooded and open. We paddled for 3 hours.

Entering the swamp by the road
It was a perfect day, warm, sunny, breezy and beautiful.  I looked up at the sky and it was a huge round dome over the pond. The water was like glass and we followed two blue herons around the whole time. Once we got away from the road, it was so peaceful! I have to go again soon. I think I need more nature time and more fun time, like I had in Colorado.

Blurry, but blue heron!
September 25 and it's definitely a fall day-in the 60's and breezy. The maples across the street are tending toward yellow and the cherry tree is shaking loose a few red leaves already. I stocked up on chrysanthemums to pep up my entry, harvested my basil and made pesto, took the last tomatoes off the vines and ate them, hung the cayenne peppers up to dry. I keep smelling woodsmoke, reminding me of cool fall camping in the Rockies.

Yes, I used to live in Colorado and had a VW camper van named Vinnie Van-Go. And Go we did! I kept him stocked with sleeping bags, lanterns, food and water and took off every weekend or two. Other friends also had them, and canoes too. We had some favorite mountain lakes and some great times!

Lilies of the pond
But I think the best camping trips were somewhere around 10,000 feet in the Rockies near Leadville, Colorado. We-(my cousin and her husband, my friends Virginia and Karen (and even a couple of my brothers one time)-planned on going to Leadville's Boom Days every August.

Friend Paul, of the Glendale Falls Slideshow on right
Leadville is a small town in the mountains, whose residents rely on the tourist trade and Climax Molybdenum Mine. When the EPA would close down the mine, which must have been a regular thing, they'd be out of work. There were a lot of bars there and people were always ready for a party. Boom days had a pancake breakfast, a burro race, a waitress race, a parade, lots of food and crafts and things to buy. But the best part was the mining competitions. Those miners were usually young and built and if it was hot, their shirts would come off while they pushed giant hydraulic drills into a marked off boulder or shoveled rocks into a mine cart and pushed it down the tracks, or hammered huge spikes into railroad ties. My cousin and I would hoot and holler, while her husband acted embarrassed by us. We had a blast. Then we took off to the campsite we had picked by the mountain stream and slept like the dead.

One of many beaver huts
I sure miss those days! In spite of my corporate job in the city, I was able to spend lots of time in the mountains, and I loved every minute of it. My life in New England is a lot different. Though I live in the country, I'm only 30 minutes from cities. Our little towns have rush hours and the traffic on Fridays and Saturdays is heavy.

Me and my boat
Sadly, I left Vinnie Van-Go in Colorado. I never managed to get another one, nor would I have the money to do the annual upkeep on my retirement pay. I drive a small Subaru now and do little jobs all over the place. I have a 15-hour a week job at the Senior Center, I do pet and house sitting, I work in a community garden, coordinate a Senior home care program in my town. I do consulting work for my old office and I now design and publish newsletters for 3 other places besides my own Senior Center.

A perfect day!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...I have lived in an apartment in my brother's "house" for 14 years and now plan to move in with Mom, two towns away. I'm looking forward to the move, but there is much to do first! I've been selling things, on Craig's List and yard sales. But there is still sooo much!

Joe Pye weed at the Graves Farm barn
I recently bought a pair of walking poles and am practicing walking with them. After foot and knee surgeries, my walking has gotten bad. My back is out of whack and I walk crooked. I could use some physical therapy, but mostly I need exercise. What a difference the poles make! I can stand up straight and not lose my balance. I am looking forward to sightseeing with a Colorado friend who is coming out to visit. She wants to see about 25 waterfalls around here, and many require a hike. Not to mention that I NEED a vacation

Out my window
Well off to lay out another newsletter! And as I keep reminding myself, 
Laughter is the best medicine!

For a laugh, check out this video...