Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And....It's Only the Third Day of Christmas!

Colonial Williamsburg - 12/2006
One of the problems with beginning our Holiday celebrations as early as we did this year is that I'm finding myself wondering what's left to do between now and Epiphany that we haven't already done!

Don't get me wrong - that's a good thing! A very good thing, indeed.

We've visited with friends and family and travelled. We've attended more live music in the last few weeks than in the previous several months combined and there are still a few events coming up for which we've already procured tickets. We've been to the movies, shopped ourselves silly and listened through our entire collection of Holiday cds at least once.

Sleep might be nice. We haven't done much of that.

(Right) Williamsburg Inn

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice Greetings!

TonyP and I recently took a few days to enjoy the Holiday decorations at Colonial Williamsburg.

I've dreamt of seeing the Williamsburg decorations since I was a girl so this was a real treat and we had a great time. We ate too much, shopped too much and slept too little!

However, it was unseasonably frigid, that week. I'm afraid that I had a hard time concentrating on how pretty and clever the decorations were until I downloaded the photos of the trip! I'll try to post a couple more for you. The guidelines for the decorations within the historic area are that the materials need to be things that would have been available to the colonists but, since the outdoor decorations are not "period", how the materials are used and interpreted is wide open.

One thing that I had not counted on was just how dark everything would be in the late afternoon, as the seasons began to turn. Those candles in the windows are also not "period" (to say nothing of the discreet electrical "moonlight" scattered about the town). Homes and streets would have seemed quite dark to our modern eyes - accustomed as we are to having light and warmth available with just the flick of a finger.

Tonight is the Winter Solstice and again I think of how dark and cold the streets of our forbears would have been at this time of the year. And of how much the promise of light really means to the heart and soul.

Warmth and Light and Joy to all of you!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

....And We're Back!

Rose Window at the National Cathedral, DC

You probably got here via the redirect so you'll need to update your link.

I was having ftp problems with the other host so I've moved over to BlogSpot.
The good news is that I can now add pics!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shifting Gears

After a lovely Thanksgiving with my Mom and a great weekend with some dear friends, I settled in at my desk to catch up on a few minor school-related editing my paper again and paying my tuition for the next couple of classes.

The semester is coming to a close and I am now at the point where I can't wait for it to end so that I can begin planning for the Winter Holidays!

Little by little, the house is being cleared of Autumn decorations. The last ceramic pumpkin is now safely tucked away and the mums will soon be released into the garden to fend for themselves.

I'm still planning a fairly low-key decorative program for our home's interior but with a bit more green and red than last year (which was mainly golds and browns).

I can hear you thinking "Green and red....that's different."

Well, for me, it is. Lime green and shocking pink are my favourite Christmas colors. I also love creme and gold. Last year's gold and brown was very lovely. I'm probably not inclined to do purple and silver again, any time soon. And blue hasn't worked out all that well the times that I've tried it. Gold with pale pink works well, though.

I don't often do red and green.

Monday, November 20, 2006

All I Want For Christmas.... a clean house!

It's the time of year when I realize that I will really only have one final chance to really clean the house before the New Year.

This sort of makes the "Holiday decorating" thing sound kind of unattractive.

Because there's nothing quite like that grueling strike party in January when all the spent and dusty decorations have to be pulled down, put away and otherwise dealt with.

Actually, I adore decorations. I love going to the malls to gawk at bright colors and twinkle lights and few things make me feel as festive as driving through neighborhoods, looking at lights and listening to carols.

Last night, I was feeling in a major funk because my paper and I had reached a sort of impasse. My inner child started feeling deprived of anything remotely resembling fun. So, TonyP drove me and my sulky inner child over to Target to look at sparkly things!

Beautiful papers and decorations....faux trees of every description....cute retro cards......!

My migraine subsided and my disposition improved.

I am not one of those folks who glowers at the decorations that arrive in the shops before Hallowe'en. Too many families really only have one time during the season to gather together and for many of them it is at Thanksgiving. So, I'm all for a long festive season, stretching from November into January.

I really only begin to decorate after the first Sunday of Advent, as a rule. I like to take the Autumn decorations down and put out the candles that usher in the stillness of the season of Advent. Serious Decking-of-Halls doesn't generally commence until later in the week or the next weekend. Nothing can come down til after Twelfth Night so stuff does tend to get a bit dry and dusty during Christmas.

This year, I'm taking class over Winter break so the decorations need to be festal but not too fussy. I'm sort of thinking "Colonial Revival" as my theme this year. At least for inside the house. Outside, I'll probably repeat last year's "Lion & Lamb" theme and lash the huge-mungo faux wreath to the front rails with zip-ties. Despite my tendency to want "tasteful" decorations on the front of my own house (read that as non-electrical) I will certainly put lights in the big wreath - and as many other places as I can manage. And, I'll probably want to get that done before Advent.

Because, the outside of the house isn't for me. It's for the carloads of weary people who drive around looking to lighten their own spirits - who drive around with the carols playing on their cd changer, looking for Christmas lights.

In November.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Further Notes From My Study

Well, the tour is over and my presentation is finished.


However, that doesn't exactly mean I'm now free to enjoy Thanksiving.

My professor isn't satisfied with the direction of my paper and has given me some rather concise notes (along the lines of "Great. Now try relating this to the subject, won't you?").

So. Rather than spending the next couple of weeks writing into my outline, I first have to re-do the outline.

Probably my thesis statement, as well, come to think of it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Notes From My Study

As you can well imagine, I've been Snoopy-dancing around the house for the last 24 hrs. (Thanks to Metaphor at darkharbor for the Snoopy animation! Very cool!)

The adrenaline jolt has been so strong that, today, I didn't get around to making coffee til noon!

Other than celebrating the election results, I've been busy doing grad school stuff, which accounts for my not being around here, all that much.

I'm still putting the finishing touches on the ikebana presentation (some examples of which can be viewed at my other site) which has been something of a challenge because Blogger has not been cooperating with me!) It's been great fun and I'm curious to see what the rest of my class thinks of it.

Next on the agenda is writing up the paper to go with it. The professor has decided that she wants it 48 hrs earlier than she had originally requested and now I'm trying to adjust my schedule to make that possible. I tend to write long and lose about half to editing. If I start writing it this very minute, I might just bring it in on time.

Of course, I haven't got the luxury to dive in and work on it nonstop. The class is still in session and I have to participate in everyone else's presentations. Which is tremendous fun, of course. I was up til 2:00 am watching a very cool presentation on Ancient Egyptian tomb painting and there was a great presentation on dance by a student from Nigeria that had audio and video clips that I kept playing over and over again! (I'd really love to link to them but, as they are class assignments, I don't think it would be cool to do so. Just take my work for it - I've got some very amazing classmates!)

Another problem with the massive paper-writing thingy is that I still have another weekend on the Studio Tour and I feel very awkward sitting there and writing while people are looking at my artwork. It's a lot better for me to be - well - drawing!

Last year, the weather was so fine that I was able to sit outside and draw on the front porch which kind of drew people in to see our stuff. While it won't be as warm this Saturday, it does look like the weather will cooperate and I hope to be able to do the same thing as last year. At any rate, it won't be as blasted frigid as it was last weekend.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


It's too f****n cold, too f****n early in the month!

So, I'm absolutely thunderstruck that we had a fair turn-out Saturday for the first day of the OCAG Open Studio Tour.

If I weren't on the Tour, there is no way that I'd have risked becoming a human popsicle just to look at Art!

We have a very dedicated public.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pretty Stuff

I am just generally in awe of the work over at Hello My Name Is Heather.

It's not just her fabulous fabrics and what she does with them.

It's her photography!

Damn. I wish I could get my stuff to look that good.

Working on it.

(I gather the secret has something to do with lighting and cropping.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Just So's You Know....

....I actually was working when I ran across this website.

Unfortunately, I was also drinking hot coffee at the time.

For those of you too timid to click through, the link is to a website where dozens of masterpieces have been digitally enhanced to feature the face of.....wait for it......David Krumholtz!

Evidently, some people are not only blessed with spare time but are able to generate it at will.

I'd just love to know how they thought of it.

And why I didn't.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Promised Pics

I spent today working on ikebana and you can click here to see one of the arrangements.

Remember, I promised you pictures.

I'm still sorting out the new site ao I'm not sure the links will go directly where I want them to but this is a grand experiment.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So, anyway....

....I just happened to be on YouTube this afternoon and was checking out Bollywood videos when I stumbled across the movie: Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum (2001) and..........

................there went my afternoon!

Some kind soul had uploaded the entire thing - all 210 minutes.

Which, I suppose, isn't all that long - by Bollywood standards.

Nevertheless, it's probably a good indication that I should avoid YouTube.

Not that I didn't get some actual research done.

I was researching some of the various schools of ikebana for a unit I'm teaching and I stumbled on this gem. I cannot remember the website or I would link to it. For now, the following quotation will have to do:

"Thereafter when I am handsome with neatness and want to be always useful for a flower and green rich high creation and sensitivity congenial naturally while respecting dignity, even flower arrangement world maintains a situation of guidance firmly and makes an effort for culture uplift every day."

I can honestly say that I have no clue what the hell that is supposed to mean.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Down Time

Having completed the assigned class writing for this week I decided to take a little break and do a little sewing.

The problem is that I find myself without a fitted muslin or a prepared pattern and ( after posting my history of the last fifty years of Irish contemporary and traditional music to Blackboard ) the last thing that I feel like doing is using my brain.

So, instead, I think I'll cut up brightly coloured bits of tissue paper to make the papel picado for the Day of the Dead.

It's kind of constructive while at the same time there's that wonderfully destructive subtext.

Right now: scissors = good

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Emergency: Send Grits

Mom just called and she's freezing her tail off!

She and her fiance are up home in Minnesota and an early snowfall sort of caught her off guard. She didn't really pack Winter clothes, although she did pack her lightweight parka. Still, no warm clothes and no snow boots.

Worst part?

No grits!

Evidently, grits cannot be found in the Twin Cities.

God knows how they make shrimp-n-grits without! (I don't believe that there is a satisfactory substitute. Cous-cous just isn't the same.)

Fortunately, last Christmas, her fiance had sent some to his daughter. The daughter doesn't care for grits and was only too happy to give them to my Mom.

This a.m., while her sweetie was out shoveling snow and putting the heater in the bird bath, Mom made herself a breakfast of stewed rhubarb and a bowl of grits.

An interesting spin on the whole fusion cuisine concept.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why There Are No Pics On This Blog

I'm not the person who set up this blog and I honestly can't figure out how to get the pics loaded for this particular blog, although I have other blogs where I am able to do so with very little difficulty (as a rule!).

Because I can't sort it out on this site, I am going to launch a separate page, just for pics. It should be up later this week.

The plan is to just link to images from this page. that way, you can click through if you're interested and not have to wait for this page to load a bunch of stuff if you're not.

I'll let you know when it's actually up and running.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Birthday Shout-Out

Happiest B'day Ever to TonyP!

(No matter where we go, you're still the best looking guy in the room.)

Confessions Of A Natural Blonde

I've just spent several hours at the salon, having my color done.

I'm looking a little more up market than I did three hours ago, when my fading highlights and lowlights combined to create what I call "Walmart blonde".

So, I'm now at the point in my life where it takes three hours to get me to look natural.

But, I really am blonde.

Streaky blonde, that is. My hair has streaks of pale blonde, dark blonde, mousy brown and a fair amount of grey. (I've been going grey since I was 18, in fits and starts.)

The guy who does my hair is utterly amazing.

My mother was over one afternoon and I had told her that I hated to waste an entire day having my hair done.

She reached over and looked at my hair and said "I don't know why you'd want to colour your hair. It looks fine just natural. Like it is."

(If my colorist retires, I'm sunk.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Library Notes

When we built the house that we are in now, I figured that the mezzanine would make a fine library/office for myself.

I was working at a bookstore at the time so I ought to have realised that we would outgrow the bookshelves fairly quickly.

I didn't.

I wasn't really home enough to notice.

TonyP staked out his office space and, although I have kept a studio upstairs - in one form or another - the second floor of our home has pretty much been his.

Me? I've wandered around from place to place. Sometimes, working in the dining room, where I could spread work over every available surface. Sometimes, working on the floor of my studio.

More often than not, I have nested in the family room. Not that it has been particularly comfortable and we won't even get into the lighting issues. Or the ever-present television.

I've always had this fantasy office, in my head. What it looks like changes from time to time. Lately, I've been imagining an Early American Revival fruitwood desk and bookshelves, lots of brass, classical music and a beautiful view out of a huge window.

So, imagine my surprise when I wandered upstairs to the library and began dusting and shifting things about, only to discover......I've already got one just like that!

Imagine. Under all of that crap! Who knew there was a desk under there?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Something On Canvas

I haven't tried working in acrylics under this new schedule until today.

I managed to get most of a small 10"x10" painting of a waterlily finished today. I had planned on just getting a few stages of the project done today: scaling up my original drawing, editing & cropping, transferring to the canvas and - maybe - going over the charcoal lines with paint.

Well, the drawing and transfer thing went quickly - because I have already done two watercolour versions and my original drawing is pretty easy to reinterpret.

And, having transferred the drawing, I really needed to go over the lines with paint.

And, having dirtied a brush, water and having a quantity of my darkest value already drying out on my palette, I decided to go ahead and do the underpainting.

Well, that went pretty fast. So, I decided to lay in the greens....then the reds....the oranges....and the pinks.

That really doesn't leave much.

For all intents and purposes, it's done.

Of course, I ran way over the time alotted for studio work which threw off everything else.

I breathlessly crossed the 6:00pm finish line with three short reflections on Rumi, for class.

Now, I have to knock out an essay on the same thing by bed time.

It's not easy because the only text that we can use as a reference for this class is that Beat Poet, Free-Verse Essential Rumi thing-y.

But, what-the-hell.

I finished a canvas today!

(btw: if you are interested in reading my grad school blog, email me. I'm not sharing it with the general public.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More Notes On This Whole Schedule Thingy

The schedule thing has been working relatively well, so far.

Not that I've made much headway on the term project. I have managed to make a stab at the first version of an outline and I've come up with a list of discussion questions for the rest of my class that I think will turn out to be thought-provoking. Beyond that, I'm pretty much at a standstill.

The artwork thing is progressing a tiny bit better. I've done two versions of a watercolour of a waterlily. The first one looked a bit too subdued so I decided to try another version but with a touch of Permanent Rose in the lily. The result was way past creepy and wandering into profoundly disturbing. Will not be making that colour decision ever again.

I've also finished underpainting a picture of an elephant and laid in the first two washes of green. Now I need to figure out how to add a little depth and variety to the grey in the elephant. He's pretty much just purply grey, at this stage. Maybe a touch of burnt umber.....

I got the back panel of a sweater finished today. I'm not sure what's up with this pattern! The gauge was right but it ended up wider than the diagram indicated. I've never made this pattern before and the folks over at Lion Brand did not do a very good job writing the directions. But I'm not sure how much of the problem is with them or with me. Still, as I am making the sweater to wear at home, it probably doesn't matter all that much. I just need to be sure that I get the front panels to match.

I have somehow managed to stick to the new routine on most days but there are times when I feel like I'm making no progress at all - like when I think about the term project! So, I sometimes find it hard to rationalize taking off time to do something else.

Last week, TonyP wanted me to meet him over at the gym after work and I was hemming and hawing about it and trying to justify the time by planning a stop at the library on campus so that I could look for a particular book of essays on Japanese aesthetics. While I was trying to wring the excursion dry of any trace of fun, my Mom called and invited me for lunch and shopping on the same day!

Plans and schedules are fine but, sometimes, you gotta just throw your hands up in the air and give up.

I had a great day with Mom, and a fun workout date with TonyP, a fine nosh and trip to the library.

And, between activities, I even managed to make some headway on the outline for my term project.

Note to self: every other week, take a day off!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hmmmm........Am I Being Too Productive?

Sunday, I weeded and mulched around the front walk - til I ran out of mulch, time and energy.

TonyP is fixin' me up with more of the mulch but the other two are up to me.

I began this morning by rising (way!) too early and found that I had enough time for both breakfast and Morning Prayer.

Next up: half an hour of housework. Now, mind you, the house is in a right ol' state but you gotta start somewhere!

Creative time: Popped in a video and tackled a crochet project that I've had the yarn for for ages. Worked the gauge swatch til I got it right. Cool. (Note: Lion Brand's Homespun yarns do not like to be ripped back. Not at all.)

Art: Got started on a new watercolour, this morning. I took a nice photo of a water lily while I was recently in Manteo. Today, I did a few sketches and then started on a small version of the watercolour. I got as far as laying in the underpainted shadows on the lily before time for lunch.

Class: got started on the unit on Japan and watched a movie.

Writing interval: Well, this right here!

How long can I keep this whole schedule thing up?

I'm f****n' exhausted!

It's not even 6:00 pm yet!

The up side?

A whole evening to do what-ever-I-want!

(Which will be study.)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Where Has The Year Gone?

I was at Lowe's today, picking up mulch and mums and thinking about just how quickly this year has gone by for me!

What with grad school and travel and all, I've gotten very little done around the house. The yard is in a bit of a state, as well.

Happily, the weather is starting to cool off, some. If we get a few dry days, I ought to be able to make some head-way.

Which brings me to the subject of calendars and schedules.

I suck at organisation.

I really, really do.

Attempts to set up a "proper" schedule have generally been thwarted by my tendency to become engrossed in a project - to the exclusion of everything else.

But, since I am trying to juggle grad school, art and writing - not to mention marriage, laundry and some sort of a social life - engrossed is less of an issue than actually getting around to doing something.

So, I set up a new schedule this past week. And I also got a new planner, hung up a new cork board in my studio and tidied up the worktable!

The net result of all of this virtuous organisation:

a drawing of an elephant

a drawing of a deer

a drawing of a raccoon (that kinda looks like a cat)

a drawing of a lightpost in Old Salem

some quilting

a new totebag

I have also managed to get the laundry done, go to the gym, run the dishes, visit with my mother, go out to dinner with TonyP and get some research done on my ikebana project for grad school.

So, can I keep up this break-neck pace? Will I be able to resist the lure of ten straight hours in the studio? Five hours of yard work?

Will I be able to keep to a schedule?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Fine Waste Of Time

This link to PopCult is guaranteed to make excellent use of your spare time.

Do check it out.

You won't be sorry.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Night Flick

I'm not sure the first time that I saw it.

I think it must have been 1970.

Like just about everyone my age, I had grown up watching Mel Brooks on TV. I was also familiar with the work of Zero Mostel.

And I know that I had already developed a crush on Gene Wilder by the time I first saw The Producers.

I remember rolling on the living room floor, laughing so hard that my sides were hurting.

For decades I have cherished The Producers as the funniest movie that I had ever seen. So, when I first learned of plans to turn it into a Broadway musical I was appalled.

Brooks' enthusiasm for the project calmed my fears - only to have them resurface when I learned of the plans to make a movie of the musical.

The Producer...The Musical! (jazz hands) was hard enough to come to terms with.

But, a movie...of a musical...made from a movie?

Well, it's Friday night and that usually means a DVD around our house. TonyP brought home The Producers for this evening's selection.

OK. I'll admit it. I enjoyed it. I even laughed at Will Ferrell - which anyone who knows me NEVER happens!

I understand that Brooks is now planning a musical version of Young Frankenstein.

I grant you that the project sounds intriguing......

....but who would you cast?????

Monday, August 14, 2006

Crises In Dairy Aisle

It was bad enough when the Dairy-Down-The-Way has to recall all of their milk last week.

At least I knew what that was all about and, now that the recall is over, I know that I am able going to be able to pick up a bottle the next time I get to the market.

Cottage cheese is another matter.

For some unknown reason, I cannot find Breakstone Cottage Cheese!

It started with the large, lowfat cartons. Then the smaller cartons. Then the regular cottage cheese began to disappeared.

Tonight there were just a few crushed snack packs.

And it hasn't just been at Harris Teeter!

The Amazing Disappearing Cottage Cheese Act is (dis)appearing throughout the area.

But why?

Is there a recall I don't know about?

Or is it just because the students are back?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Talking Out Of School

The lovely IT folks at the Uni decided to do this massive server upgrade at the end of the second summer session.

I'm sure that this made a lot of sense when they thought it up.

Trouble is, lots of stuff fell down a rabbit hole during the process.

No summer grades (at least for the class that I took).

No email.

No syllabus available for the class that starts on Monday.

Like I said, I'm sure this sounded like a good idea.... the time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before's happened again.

Class begins in a week and there is still no syllabus posted for the course that I'm taking and I just got an email from the professor telling me that I'll need two more books and about six DVDs for class.

Why in blazes have I not been given this information looooong before now?

Monday, July 31, 2006


I'm on Break!

I've promised TonyP that I wouldn't do the "I am on va-ca-tion!" dance when he's around because he isn't and it just wouldn't be nice.

Still, the fact remains that "I am on va-ca-tion! I am on va-ca-tion!".

That being said, here's a link to a site featuring Physics Songs.

Yes. I know I'm a geek.

But some of the songs are funny anyway.


Thursday, July 20, 2006


Well, the tedious paper on the invasion of Panama is still not done.

I had hoped to get the thing edited down to a manageable size - but it just keeps getting longer!

That's really not much of a problem for me, as a rule. I prefer to write long because I usually lose about half during the editing process.

But I have had such a hard time getting this particular paper going and now I'm sooooo far behind!

This all reminds me of my high school and college years. I have always preferred to get a paper right over getting it in on time. Sure, the late paper costs me but usually not as much as a bad paper would.

Even if it ends up costing me more, at least I have the satisfaction of having done a good job.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I've got a paper due on the U.S. invasion of Panama in '89 but it's so f****n hot that I can't think straight!

That's one of the hitches in the whole Summer Session thing.

I mean, I could probably manage a research paper without much difficulty but this is supposed to be a nice, long essay and, for essays, a certain amount of thinking is sort of required.

I don't want to be doing any of this at all, of course.

What I really want to be doing is playing in my Studio!

I'm going to try to cut and paste something together so I can turn something in for class and then take a day off for some well-earned loafing.

Gawd, how I hate Summer.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yo, Ho, Ho!

TonyP and I made it to Pirates/ Dead Man's Chest on Saturday night and had a terrific time!

We went to a small, local theatre - instead of the area gigaplex - so that I could actually see the special effects on the screen. (For some reason, probably to do with my accommodation problems, I can't really see the digital images on those massive screens.)

Of course, that means that we will have to see the movie again next week at the gigplex so TonyP can see the movie properly!

Oh, shucky darn.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I am sitting in a coffee bar and blogging - like about half of the people in the world are, at this very moment.

Thing is, I'm having to do it on TonyP's laptop.

'Cause I still can't get my lappie on line at a coffee bar!!

It's inf****g' insane!!

But, there you have it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another Studio Update

Yesterday, TonyP spent about eight hours putting together the new storage system for my Studio!

I decided on two of the base units with doors and two upper units - one with just shelves and one that has all of these nifty slots for sorting things! (Not sure what I'll be sorting but it's nice to know that, when the need arises, I'll be able to.)

They're light oak so they kind of take away from the "dark and dismal" motif that I had going in there. My old cherry bookcase is now hidden behind the door (I'm too desperately in need of bookshelves to get rid of it.) and the only other dark bits in the room are the black sofa, black tv stand and the leopard print rug. The mud cloth on the wall, straw hats and my collection of African masks, carvings and baskets gives the room a distinct "cultural anthropology student" vibe....but that can't be helped.

I've been thinking of chucking all of the safari stuff in the closet for a while and dragging out a bunch of colourful Scandinavian textiles that currently languish in deep storage. Maybe it would be a nice change for Winter. Til then, I'll be working with the rather more neutal safari palette because it doesn't distract me when I'm working.

Of course, what with grad school and all, it's not like I have time to do much actual art work in the Studio.........

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hope You're Holiday Weekend Is Funner Than Mine

I could be watching Xaolin Soccer or Army of Darkness - in either English or Spanish.

But I'm stuck watching a really depressing movie about Mao's Cultural Revolution and then having to write about it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

More Studio Time

I've been struggling with this particular Studio redo for two weeks, trying to decide how best to resolve the ongoing issues of storage and function in a space which needs to perform as art/design studio as well as sewing/crafting work room.

I've decided that my storage requirements are of two types: deep storage and active storage.

Deep storage is for things that are seldom, if ever, used. Active storage is for putting things away so that you can find them again! A project will never get finished once it has been chucked into a bin which ends up under another bin and another before being stashed behind the door marked "Beware of the Tiger".

For years I have tried to come up with a configuration of closed cabinets and open shelving that isn't merely adequate for now but also a system that I can use long-term.

As part of the ongoing Studio redo, I went over to Staples with TonyP, in search of a plain ol' bookcase to house the growing collection of binders and notebooks.

It should have been a quick stop but he spotted an office "system" that looked ideal for my long-range plans so I ended up having to wait for a sales associate to check the backstock and tell me that they didn't have enough pieces of either finish to make a set.

Ready-made systems are risky things. Even the ones that can be configured to suit your own space make certain assumptions about space allotment and usage.

Still, the idea took hold and we found ourselves looking this particular system up online and placing an order that very night. While it is not purpose-built, it offers covered storage as well as open shelves and large, flat spaces that are ideal for paper.

Now, of course, I'll have to undo two weeks of work to make room for the spankin' new system....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's Summer!

That's in case you haven't noticed.

I can tell because I've switched over to my Summer schedule - the one where I work all night and sleep during the daytime.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Studio Time

Although I am preparing for Summer Session, I thought that it would be a good idea to tidy up the Studio so that I can maybe get a little artwork done in the near future.

See, I'm committed to two shows, this Fall, and I have no new work.

No pressure there.

The Studio is actually one of the rooms upstairs that must have been meant as a bedroom for a pre-adolescent. The room itself is of a decent size - for a bedroom - but sadly too small for a proper studio. Storage is a nightmare and lighting is a problem as there is only one small window. It is also the room with the attic access which presents certain difficulties in furniture placement.

Straightening up the Studio is, therefore, something of a constant problem/process. It generally takes the form of shifting the same piles from one place to another for about a week, until my back gives out and I chuck all of the odd bits into large bins from WalMart.

I am, therefore, quite amused by any DIY or makeover show that features a workroom/sewing room/studio redo.

Clearly, what the situation calls for is a "theme". Something grand and eloquent that speaks of my personality and is also available as wallpaper. Borders are nice but what the room really needs is a handpainted border by an artist who specializes in that sort of thing. Did I forget to mention the paint chips? And the vibrant wall color? And drapery. Every f****n studio needs the right window treatment.

I was on HGTV's website, last night, looking for storage and arrangement ideas for this round of Studio straightening when I came across a studio whose owner has spent over $10,000 having decorated. Decorated, mind you. Not fitted out. Decorated. The theme was something like "dragonflies".

Someone paid that kind of money for decorators to redo their painting studio?

Me? I'm going to see if I can pick up another bookcase over at Staples.

And then run over to WalMart - and pick up some more bins.

Monday, June 05, 2006

So, Anyway....

....I'm trying to get ready for Second Summer Session.

Psychologically, that'll be a bit rough because I've had an extended break. It takes a while to get my head back around to being a grad student and away from being a normal, sane person.

From purely practical standpoint, this is next to impossible when the professors don't supply syllabi in a timely fashion!

It's less than two weeks away and the guy teaching my Summer class only just published his syllabus. Much to my surprise, there are 2 dvds that are required viewing - in addition to the text.

Fotunately, my advisor had pried the name of the text from the professor a few weeks ago so I already have mine in hand.

But dvds?

The problem is: most of my professors don't think about the hassle of getting the materials they require. They care nothing of the cost. They care nothing of the scarcity. They don't bother ordering the materials for the bookstore and they never, ever have the syllabus ready in time to gather these things before class starts.

But they always want our work turned in on time.

Hmmm. I guess they think their time is worth more than ours.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh, Brother!

I come from a Singer family.

Just like my mother and grandmothers before me, I learned to sew on a Singer.

The machine that I use is the one that I got when I went off to college.

It's a very basic mechanical machine. No bells. Few whistles. Utterly reliable.

Still, there are some things that it cannot do. It doesn't handle fine fabrics - like georgette - at all well. It has no decorative stitches. It also weighs quite a bit.

So, I've ordered a second machine.

It's a Brother. Computerized and the whole deal. Quite a departure.

Note: I did not say that I'm "getting a new machine".

It's a second machine.

Those of you who sew know the difference.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So, anyway......

I recently celebrated my birthday.

I won't go into details about my age but I will state simply that I saw Jimi Hendrix open for the Monkees and we'll just leave it at that.

So, despite the fact that I can wear just about anything that I find in a shop, it doesn't mean that everything that I try on will be flattering.

Finding a current fashion trend - say a white cotton sundress - interpreted in such a way that it doesn't come off as too ingenue can be quite a challenge.

Since fluffy white dresses have never suited me at all (no matter how much my heart has yearned for them!) I had just about given up on finding a pretty white cotton sundress until I walked into - of all places - Talbot's. A cute cotton eyelet sundress hung prominently on the wall opposite the store's entrance.

Now, I'd never actually bought anything at Talbot's. Their classic line has always seemed a bit too conservative for my taste and - well - too "mature". But, I managed to force those prejudices aside and bravely headed for the dressingroom.

Even with all of the weight that I've lost, I'm still kind of tough to fit but this dress was perfect. It skimmed where it should skim, fitted where it should and didn't gape in any of the usual places.

Most importantly, it was unbelievably flattering - lacey and breezy but not fluffy.

So, I'm middle-aged, Episcopalian and now I shop at Talbot's.

Could I be more Classic?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

So, anyway....

TonyP and I usually listen to "oldies" radio stations when we're on a long car trip.

During one of our recent trips to Asheville, he asked me what the first song was that I remembered hearing, as a kid. The first that made an impression on me.

Without hesitation, I was able to answer "The Battle of New Orleans".

Yes. As a wee thing, I was able to belt out enthusiastically about fighting "the bloody British".

I'm not sure what that says about my childhood or the roots of my musical taste. I'm not sure if it really reveals anything at all.

But, it was either that one....or the jingle used in the late 50's by the fine folks at Valleydale Sausage.


I don't mind doing alterations.

But anything involving redrawing the armscye is a whole different matter.

After several - very frustrating - days of alterations HELL, I decided to treat myself to a few nifty skirts. So, Monday, I pulled out a couple of lengths of fabric (including the stuff that had been originally intended for a shirt for TonyP!) and had a blast!

Net results: 3 finished skirts.'s back to the alterations.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


OK. I admit that I'm a purist.

The only proper Peeps are - well - peeps.

Marshmallow bunnies are marshmallow bunnies.

And all of the other marshmallow shapes are just wannabees.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nothing Could Be Finer.....

I venture to say that there is no more beautiful spot in the whole of Creation than North Carolina in April.

Anyone who disagrees has never seen the spectacle of dogwoods and redbuds in bloom.

They have never stopped their car in amazement at a wave of azaleas sweeping across a stranger's yard.

They have never been struck dumb by a profusion of wisteria.

Their loss.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Something To Do If You're Really Bored

While wandering around Wikipedia, recently, I turned up this rather odd category: "ambiguous three-letter acronyms".


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

For That Red Carpet Look....

Anybody else find the idea of Joan Rivers having her own line of beauty products just a little bit creepy?

I suppose that there is only so much that twenty years of plastic surgery can do.

I caught about ten seconds of her on QVC the other day but I had to change the channel because the bizarre whiteness of her teeth frightened me!

Why is that woman absolutely everywhere, nowadays?

Friday, March 17, 2006

The "Hermes"

Thirty-six years ago, I went to Europe for the first time. It was one of those student tours that took you to Europe for six weeks on the cheap.

The first two weeks of the trip were spent on a piece of crap ship called the Hermes that meandered between Venice and Haifa and then back to Venice.

The ship was an antique. She must have been rather nice, in her day. Someone told me that she was built in the early thirties, as I recall, but I have no idea of her real age. By the time I sailed on her, however, the Hermes was rusty, leaky and squalid and her staterooms were cramped and dark. She was in an appalling state and looked for all the world as if the Epirotiki Line had picked her up at a marine salvage sale.

I spent the first week in one of those cramped rooms with two other girls. I slept on the luggage rack. (I don't remember where we actually kept our luggage.) The second week, I shared a cabin up on deck with a chain-smoking Shirley Temple clone from California. The skylight had plastic taped over it and, whenever it rained, the water poured in. One night, there was a bad storm and we woke to find our cabin flooded with four inches of water.

So, anyway....Tonight I searched to see if Epirotiki were still around and I found their site.

And there, at the bottom of the page, is the Hermes.

(edited to add:
Still, I can't tell if that picture is of the vessel I sailed on or her successor. I understand that there have been at least three Hermes. The most recent came into service shortly after my adventure, so it is likely that the Hermes of my acquaintance ended up being recycled yet again. )

Monday, March 13, 2006

From The Back Garden...

I had hoped to take advantage of our unseasonably warm weather to do some work in the yard and maybe get in a little gardening. Alas, it is too hot and windy to get anything done today. But I did do a quick tour of the garden to assess the state-of-things.

It's too late to do anything about the crepe myrtles - they already have leaf buds! It isn't even Spring yet!

The deer have already been at the azaleas and started in on my daylilies. I suppose that the drought has driven them into the neighborhood again. I wish that they'd trim back the hollies, instead! The hollies could do with a trim but the azaleas will end up as just bare sticks after just a few nights of grazing.

Oddly enough, the daylilies seem to thrive on this ill-treatment.

As long as the deer munch the leaves back early enough (and they don't get at the flower spikes!), the plants seem to come back quite well. I've even noticed that the lilies will produce more flowers.

The pink viburnam didn't flower much this year but the leaves have begun to appear on all of the shrubs. I've even noticed some new growth! They took quite a beating last Summer, so I am thrilled to see that they haven't succumbed to the drought.

The Carolina jasmine is still in bloom. It's also on the move! I tried to move the lawn sprinkler and found that several tendrils had grown through it and then taken root in an adjacent flower bed. The jasmine is now headed up the meter box !

The wild violets are also in bloom this week. They don't bloom prolifically but they are hardy and they are one of those odd bits of serendipitous gardening - along with the wild roses, a single fern and this forsythia that turned up a year ago.

Now...if the garden gnomes would just arrange for a load of mulch.....

Monday, February 27, 2006


Another one of my favourite TV actors has headed off to that great SAG party in the sky.


Saturday, February 25, 2006


I just heard that Darren McGavin has passed away.

I don't know whether to throw in a copy of A Christmas Story, Kolchak or X-Files.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I got tagged by TonyP, so here goes:

Four jobs that I've had:
Retail Sales Assoc.
Mgr. & Co-owner of rock club

Four movies I can watch over and over:
Jurassic Park
Godzilla (1954)
Pirates of the Caribbean

Four television shows I love to watch:

Four favourite dishes:
Huevos Rancheros
Saag Panir
Plain Baked Potato

Four websites I visit daily:

Four places I've been on vacation:
Einsiedeln, Switz. (click on the "live cam" button on the top right)

Four places I'd rather be:
Disney's Beach Club at WDW
Spa at Grove Park in Asheville
National Cathedral, Wash., D.C.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ten Years Of Pasta (or Processed Flour Is NOT My Friend!)

I'm not really sure how it started.

I used to love cooking.

Anyone who really loves to cook knows how exciting it is to have someone to cook for and I had found a man who not only loved me but actually seemed to enjoy my cooking. It didn't even matter that he was an omnivore and I had been a vegetarian for almost a decade.

At least, I didn't think it did. But I began to notice that he would head to the kitchen for something more to eat only an hour after dinner. So, I tried coming up with more and more substantial vegetarian fare.

Eventually, I settled on pasta.

And, for the next ten years, we had pasta in one form or another for supper almost every night. I cooked pasta. He cooked pasta. When we dined out we'd still often end up eating pasta.There is something very calming about pasta. No matter how stressful the day, pasta has an almost sedative effect.

The same might be said for toast.

A couple of slices with coffee around mid-morning, a cheese sandwich at lunch and herbed toast with a glass of wine before bed.

For a decade I ate like this. I was counting calories but my weight crept up and I went from a size 14 to a 16. (In case you're wondering, those are the ready-to-wear sizes and not pattern sizes. By this point I had largely given up even trying to sew my own clothes.)

Figuring that my metabolism was slowing down due to age, I stepped up my workouts and managed to celebrate my fortieth birthday as a size 14.

It turned out to be a short celebration. I took a job that had me stuck behind a register and soon landed me behind a desk. My weight began to climb and I began shopping for elastic-waist pants on the Size 18/20 rack at J C Penney.

It's probably not mere coincidence that I also started to injure my back with alarming frequency and was unable to sleep without ibuprofen

I was stressed and exhausted and, by the time I turned forty-four, I was a wreck.

Next time: Back On My Feet Again

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

To My Valentine

Thank you for being my Valentine 24/7 and 365!

Monday, February 13, 2006

From Size 18 To Size 6

As I've said before, there's nothing more boring than reading about someone else's weightloss.
Still, millions are spent each year on books that are really no more than just that.
Well, here's a chance to learn a little bit about my own story and I won't charge you a dime.

Over the next few weeks, I'll open up a little about the process up to this point.

Part 1: "Little Jenny On The High Wire"*

According to my eDiets progress page, I started out on June 25, 2000 at 193lbs. What it doesn't say is that I had reached 200 lbs a year earlier and had struggled to lose that seven pounds. It also doesn't say is that I had struggled all along the way up to that point.

I used to be a dancer. I began studying ballet as a child and did not stop until my sophomore year of university. I was never a great dancer and probably wasn't even a good one. But I loved dance. It didn't matter that I was not great. It didn't matter that I was not a sylph. It didn't matter that I was "too tall" to be a classical ballerina.

The summer after my freshman year, I tripped in a hole in my parents' front yard and heard my ankle snap before I blacked out. It wasn't broken but what the doctor called "a bad sprain" never healed right. I had had trouble with my feet since birth so I assumed that I would be able to train around the injury but it didn't work out that way.

Despite giving up ballet, I remained very active all through my twenties. I loved discos, walked everywhere and usually had a job where I was on my feet. Recovery from a back injury got me interested in weight training. The spring that I met TonyP, I was tending bar at night and working landscaping during the day.

I also sewed all of my clothes (except for jeans!), so I knew my proportions down to a quarter of an inch. So when it came time, the following Spring, to sew my wedding dress, I was shocked to discover that I had gone up about two sizes from the year before!

That was twenty years ago. Over the years I have battled a sedentary lifestyle, further injuries and the metabolic changes of peri- and post-menopause. I also had difficulty learning to manage stress.

And I did this while trying to live on pasta and toast.

(Check back for the next installment: "Ten Years Of Pasta")

* Any of you brave enough to guess the song title, the album and artist? Be aware that your ability to answer this without Google will probably betray your age.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

So, anyway....

....There was a time, not so long ago, when there was a Limited store everywhere you looked.

Kinda' like Starbucks is now.

It's hard to believe but now I have to go to Raleigh, Cary or Greensboro to find a Limited. And that really matters to me because I am on a quest to find a new pair of jeans for Spring. The pair of jeans that I've been wearing came from the Limited but I wanted to try the same style but in a size smaller.

Not too much to ask. Is it?

You see, most jeans are just too damn short. Not "only wear with flats" short. Really too short, as in "ankle bone" short.

Even the jeans that they sell for gals that wear tall shoes - like the Daisy Fuentes line at Kohl's - are actually made for shorter women and the knee break is in the wrong place.

So, last Sunday, Tony and I went to Greensboro so I could spend an hour trying on jeans at the Limited. But, for some reason, not a single style/size/length was workin' for me that day.

Not a one.

Some years ago, TonyP worked for a company that makes jeans and he confirmed for me something that every woman knows from personal experience - there is a lot of variation from one pair of otherwise identical jeans to the next. Evidently, it is acceptable for there to be up to an inch in variation.

What a difference an inch makes!

That is half of a size!

Well, some days the goddesses of denim are with you and some days they are not.

I did snag a cheapo pair of jeans at NYC.

They are what NYC calls "long".

Me? I'll be wearin' them with flats.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

East Of Eden

Daniel Quinn's Ishmael is one of the most over-rated things that I have ever read!

Blaming technology, industry, Modernity and the Enlightment aren't enough for this author. The real problem seems to be that we developed agriculture.

In recent years, I've noticed an increasing number of people make the same statement. I've noticed it because it is a big departure from the model that I am more familiar with - that agriculture made it possible to free ourselves from having to always hunt and gather. The stability it afforded was regarded as a good thing.

Now, more and more, I keep encountering the opinion that hunting and gathering were idyllic and that it was agriculture that created stresses.

While the debate still goes on over the extent to which agriculture spread through conquest, I think that it is important to remember that these are all only models and opinions.

There is no such thing as an objective historian and I think that fact alone is enough to arouse anyone's suspicions when the subject is pre-history.

We look into the past to find our roots but we cannot help but drag the present along with us as we do so.

All that being said, what is one to make of a book that maintains that our species biggest mistake was adopting agriculture?

Oh....did I mention that, in this novel, this "truth" is revealed by a gorilla?

Okey dokey.

Well, at least Oprah loved it.

In the end, isn't that all that really matters?

Monday, January 09, 2006

So, anyway....

It's time for classes to resume.

I must say that I am looking forward to the discipline of study.

Armed with a fresh pack of highlighters and massive amounts of coffee, I am ready to go!

Eco-Theology, this term.

Spoodles of reading and spoodles & spoodles of writing.

Good thing I got all that rest, eh?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas....

Well, three weeks have passed.

Three weeks of fever, coughing and Basic Cable.

According to my doctor, I can't possibly have had the flu because there is no flu reported in North Carolina yet this season.

I'll just let the sheer silliness of that statement sink in a while.

While I was laid-up, I did a little on-line research. It turns out that the data for those flu activity maps is about a week old before we see them on the Weather Channel.

If you're really interested in the actual ILI (influenza-like illness) data, you might consider checking out the state of North Carolina's Health and Human Services site or even go to the CDC site. It is certainly worth a look-see to find out how the data is collected for these reports.

Or, you can save the research activity for when you find yourself flattened by a fever and running out of things to keep your mind occupied!