Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung,
the grass is riz,
I wonder where
the birdies is...

My Dad used to quote this-I don't know if my great aunt Hallie invented it or if it is an old poem from another source. Anyway the birdies is here! Every morning is a chorus of different birds as they migrate and move in and out of the area.

My great aunt, who we just called Hallie, was one of my grandmother's two sisters.  I remember her as an old lady married to a slightly nasty little man named Albert. They lived down the road in a tiny shack they called the Doghouse. Everything inside was painted red, the outhouse was attached to the back and they had an actual root cellar. My dad eventually built them a little house around the one good room of the Doghouse, tearing down the rest. There they lived till Albert died and Hallie (a few years later) went to a nursing home.

Hallie and Albert used to spend their days walking from the center of town up the street to my grandparent's farm just up the road from us. They would visit several people throughout the day, passing gossip from house to house, smoking their corncob pipes and umm-umming between gossipy tidbits. Albert had nicknames for everyone--I was Goldilocks, a neighbor was Little Penny P...., No Bigger than a Dime, there was a woman called Itchyfoot. They were legends in our small town.

Love the coveralls!
When I was a teen, Hallie and Albert always managed to get to our house around suppertime. They sat around all through the meal, commenting and umm-umming around their pipes. Hallie sometimes smoked little dark brown cigarette-sized cigars called The Acts. Albert smoked Prince Albert pipe tobacco in a can. ("Well, let him out!") Occasionally he would flash a mischievous smile as he lit a firecracker and scared us all. The boys liked him, but Mom and I were usually disgusted or embarrassed, especially if I had a friend over. He liked to leer at the girls--ewww.

Fur over baggy blue jeans
After Albert died, Hallie confessed that they had never married, though they had been together 50 years. Without Albert around, I started to appreciate Hallie and her sense of humor. She loved to play cards and drink little bottles of Knickerbocker beer. My brothers and uncles spent time doing both with her. I had moved away by the time she was put into the home, when she could no longer take care of herself. She became the darling of the nurses there, quoting little poems and lyrics.

I inherited a couple of Hallie's photo albums--the pictures show what a character she was, even as a girl. She often dressed as a man and hammed it up with cigars and wine bottles. She and her friends camped out and hung around in Enosberg Falls, Vermont. There are pictures of her with her sisters and brother and their mother, my great grandmother, who died before I was born. It was so good to see them as young people, and see how they lived. This picture of Hallie in her white dress inspired some of my "Victorian Cheek" note cards (above). Pictures in the older album inspired many other art pieces, including my "Ghosts of Christmases Past" ornaments.

I now seek vintage pictures and albums at tag sales and antique stores. Pictures tell stories, and each one of us might see a different story in any given picture. In case you hadn't noticed, I love taking my own pictures. I am surrounded by humor and beauty--if I can capture some of it, what fun!

Sweet Emily
Now that I've "gone digital", I take much better pictures than ever before, and I can just toss the rejects with no loss. I love being able to enhance, crop and edit my own pictures. Last weekend, my friend Emily taught me how to use the macro to get close-ups. This is cool!

I'm currently petsitting for a couple of little yippy dogs. I call them Zippy and Humpy, for reasons I won't go into here. Their owner was amazed when I told her they are sitting quietly-evidently they seldom sit still for her. Often people tell me their dogs are so calm when they come back. My theory is that I bore them into a coma, as I spend lots of petsitting time on the computer or watching TV. 

Hanna, aka Zippy
But today was exciting--first the landscapers were here for the whole morning. The dogs were totally unsettled and excited about that. Then Ellie actually bit the UPS man! I never should have opened the door to him. THEN, just as I was ready to head out for a meeting, Hanna escaped out the gate that the landscapers accidentally left open. The neighbors helped in the search-thank you!!! It took 45 minutes to find her! 
Ellie, aka Humpy
I enjoy the TV when I petsit because I don't have TV reception at home. I have Netflix and catch up on HGTV often on the computer. Mostly I read and pour over the many magazines that I am addicted to, or I drag out piles of paper and make things (including messes!) I'm working on having some art to show you all soon.

Happy Spring, all!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Fluffy

Here I am - 2 weeks after my last to-do-by list and I've only completed half of it. I've been in a funk for a while.

That "rub my belly" look
My little kitty, Fluffy, got sick and I couldn't get her to pull out of it. We medicated her for 10 days and she picked up for a while, but then she stopped eating and lost over 3 lbs. Her little body was so tiny to start with. The vet couldn't find out what ailed her without heroic intervention, which I don't have the means for, and don't believe in (for us). I prayed the whole time for a peaceful ending and I said goodbye on Wednesday. She was the sweetest cat I ever had and I miss her terribly.

They hate the laser light on the camera

My other cat, Snuggles, on the other hand weighs close to 20 lbs. I swear, she looks like a couch sometimes! I could tell she was affected by Fluffy's condition. She would come over and stare at me for long minutes like she wanted to tell me how she felt. I've been giving her extra attention, as we both need it. She and I both seem to eat when we stress. I must have put on 5 lbs. and she, like I said, looks like a couch...Time to move on.

Snuggles on oregano

Since my foot surgery in December, I've lost a lot of strength in that leg, and I'm not walking without a cane yet. Which makes it hard to stand and walk straight. So my friend Trisha and I have decided to join the YMCA in a nearby town. We both need motivation to get some weight off, and to build strength back again. She and I each had knee replacements in 2010 - my first, her second - so we are going to start with low impact water aerobics and arthritis aquatics. I also hope to get acquainted with a few exercise machines, including the bikes. We start a trial period on Monday. Looking forward to it!

Six years ago I had lap band surgery and took off 97 lbs.  I've kept most of it off, fluctuating up and down about 15 lbs. But I could never get any lower, no matter what I did, and I should lose 30-40 lbs. to be more healthy.  You don't even want to imagine the sagging! So to buy a swimsuit is a devastating thing--I want coverage, and you don't get much with even the longest swimdress. Land's End had a cute one that goes almost to my knees, but the top is low. I will keep it, but can I wear a turtle neck with that? Some things don't lift no matter how you adjust the straps, and I just don't know...I'm sure there won't be too many studly guys in water aerobics~I probably will be fine after the first time.

I've spoken to our town clerk about Rustique Resale, and it looks like I don't need any permits or permissions to have this small business in my town. I am jazzed about this, in spite of the leaky roof and the possibility of biting off more than I can chew. Trisha says she will help. My niece probably will help too. Getting the room cleared out and rearranged will be tough at first, but then easy to keep up, I think. If I keep working on the big project to reduce my belongings, I will have a continuous supply of stuff to sell for some time. I put a few business cards out there and have had a couple of calls already! I've been busily looking at Flea Market Style and other magazines for inspiration. I want to refinish a few of the pieces in the shabby chic style, which seems to go over well here in the country. Most of us are "shabby chicks", whether we want to be or not! We Yankees like to make do with what we have or can get cheap or free~The ultimate recyclers.

Not my photo, see link below

Maybe...maybe I can make enough money to have someone exterminate the family of red squirrels living in my kitchen ceiling, and get the ceiling replaced. It's a suspended ceiling and I'm not doing it! My brother (landlord) doesn't want to do it. It's full of animal stuff (to put it delicately). The room would have to be emptied and totally plastic covered and hazmat suits and masks worn, etc. I can't imagine fitting this in my schedule or my life plan! They probably would find another way in and do it again, so it may not happen at all, just a pipe dream. He hopes to sell the place as is in a year or so, and I'll be moving in with Mom into a real house with level floors and no rodents and a ceiling that doesn't leak...Though even mom's 16-year old house needs upgrading and repairs and more than a little retrofitting and rearranging to fit me in. I need more energy!

Well, enough rambling--I've got work to do! 
Happy Almost Spring to you.