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!) 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...


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Having a Moment...

There I am, sitting on my porch recliner-breezes blowing a rather autumnal coolness all around me. It's late-afternoon-going-into-evening. The sky is BLUE and the clouds are marching quickly overhead. I hear a chickadee, rare here this month, and think, Man, I have to do those damn dishes!

I can't do a big kitchen full of dishes without music, so I turn on the local heavy rock station. Sh** Yeah! It's 1983--Red Rocks with Paul and Jeannie--Santana playing on the stage, early evening breezes scenting the air with sage and Denver spread out below us....

Google images
I fiddle with the equalizer and turn it up LOUD. I'm there! 30 years gone in an instant! Could that Kahlua Sombrero have done this to me?* Not quite the toot I had that night, but fine, nevertheless!

Dirty dishes disappear around me, that kitchen is nothing! I'm humming along, when I think to look out in the driveway. Jim's car is there, which means he's next door watching the Simpsons quietly, so as not to disturb me.

The Simpsons watching Jim watching The Simpsons
By now Van Halen is annoying me, and the spell is over. I grab the remote, turn the volume way down, switch the equalizer to soft. Do the rest of the dishes, listening to car ads, commercials for drag racing, etc., say why bother and switch it off.

Yes, I had A MOMENT. The Moody Blues urge me on--Thinking is the Best Way to Travel.  I can do it every so often.

I remember another late afternoon-going-into-evening maybe 15 years back, on the porch across the street where I lived before. I was playing Otmar Liebert's, Nuevo Flamenco. The wind chimes were tinkling, my pinon pine incense was smoking, and BAM, I'm in Taos, NM! The desert breezes are stirring the wind chimes, the music on the plaza is mesmerizing! As the sun goes down, the stucco buildings glow a bronzy gold, stained glass windows sparkle in jewelled delight! And pinon smoke perfumes the air. I'm so THERE!

Doesn't do it justice!
I'm so There!
Pinon pine tree
I haven't lived out west since 1994, but I have these sensory memories now and then. I can place myself there for a moment. Bow Valley Parkway, a beautiful pine-forested road between Lake Louise and Banff-same time, late-afternoon-into-evening. I was there for a few seconds just last week. A particular part of the Mohawk trail can place me in Clear Creek Canyon, going toward Central City. Route 9 in West Cummington sends me somewhere west of Vail, Colorado, late '70s, where we camped by a river right next to I-70 the weekend that the Big Thompson River flooded. We had been swimming in the Big Thompson the weekend before at a bluegrass festival...

Bow Valley Parkway
Somewhere near Banff
*(Need I mention the Sombrero was made with almond milk? This is the 21st century after all.)

I say to heck with short term memory. If I can still zoom backward in time like this, maybe getting old won't be so bad! After all, who really cares what I had for breakfast?

Dream on, Y'all!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Whizzes By...

Wow, how did it become August already?

Pretty porch edging
I have been busy with pet sitting jobs, a couple of art shows, and work. That's been my summer so far!
No, really...I have enjoyed my daily meditations in the garden. I have tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and swiss chard coming, plus as many herbs as I can eat while they are fresh!


Don't you just love fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, sage? Or cilantro-people either love or hate it.

I'm also working on the garden behind our Senior Center, (where I work in the office part-time). I am trying to recruit seniors to help, but that's not going too well, even with the offer of free tomatoes!

We are enjoying a wonderful interlude between HOT and HUMID weather patterns. This last week has been Heaven in New England-in the 70's and 80's and relatively dry and breezy with a shower now and then.
Not Highand Lake--Lake Louise, Banff, Canada
Paul and I took off for a paddle in Highland Lake last week, very relaxing and peaceful on the lake. I dream of owning one of those sweet lake cottages. ~ I get up with the sun, put on my terry robe (!) take my coffee and grapenuts out on the deck and sing, "Morning is your time.....!" ~ (Mind you, I'm not a morning person and I don't eat grapenuts or wear a terry robe, but, what the heck, I can dream!)

I'm dreaming!
My brother Richard and I have begun cleaning out Dad's workshop at Mom's house so I can get myself moved in in the next 6 months or so. There is SO MUCH STUFF! Tools and tools and more tools, paints, mystery liquids, glues, NAILS AND SCREWS (a whole tubful) and wood and tools, did I say tools???  And if you've ever been in a carpentry shop, you know how dirty and dusty they are! We have so much more to do, but I think it's becoming possible, at least. Before spending that day with Richard, I would go in there and just cry. Too much stuff, and no-one wants to step on anyone's toes and take any of it. Dad's been gone 9 years, it is time.

Not this big, thankfully!
Once I get moved in there, it will become an art studio with a kitchenette, I'll also have a living room and a bath on that level and a bedroom upstairs by Mom's. We will have privacy and togetherness at the same time. It should work out well for both of us. Meanwhile, does anyone want to buy an old hardware-lumber-store-converted into 2 rather rough apartments? (I didn't think so...)

Stained concrete
The possibilities of a new place always keep me awake at night for months before, over-dreaming, thinking about all the possibilities--what do I want to bring, what to get rid of? Paint or stain the concrete? Drywall or beadboard or both? Where to put my craft space? How much kitchen do I need?

Medium or
Small Island?
Effiient storage
Craft storage
Shelves for kitchen and craft space...
How much bribe money will I need to get my brothers to do the work? Will Richard ever get that grand piano out of there? Will I have to part with my cat?

My dreams always come to, "What colors do I want to use?" How about SEAGLASS colors! Fresh restful pretty colors! With lots of natural touches.....retro, mid-century modern, or just plain pretty?

Seaglass colors
Just Plain Pretty

Natural touches

Now you know why I can't sleep at night. How about you? Do you over-dream??? Are your dreams keeping you awake at night?  I'll let you know how mine are going along in upcoming months.

Surely, I'll see you in my dreams!


BTW, I didn't take one of these pictures, they all came from Pinterest. You can find them or follow me on Pinterest in the right hand column.