Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Eve all-nighter

Santa wasn't the only one who pulled an all-nighter on Christmas Eve.  Let me tell you, if there were money to be made through procrastination I would be wealthy beyond measure.  Note to self:  there will never be an extra day between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  As it turns out I only had to sacrifice one thing from my to-do list.  Alas, it was the bacon peanut truffles, but since they were not on the original list, that's okay.  I found the recipe cleverly saved in a random box of bits and pieces stored with my Christmas decorations.  I guess I know what I will be doing for Valentine's Day.

So that to-do list.  Cashew Cardamom Balls, Swedish Almond Cookies, finishing the ornaments I made to use as tags for presents, wrapping said presents, packing for a trip to Hinesburg, an emergency trip to the dollar store for more green tinsel, building two wreaths, and other nonsense I can't remember.  My soundtrack of the day was George Winston's December.  Over and over and over again.  Here's a picture of my lovely wrapped presents - I was very proud of my Swedish flair:

And here's the beginning of one of the wreaths:

In the interest of full disclosure, I took this picture today.  I was able to do that because as you can see, I ran out of silver tinsel on Christmas Eve.  A tragic moment, for sure, as nobody in this ENTIRE TOWN has silver tinsel, so I had to make do with bright blue.  And when I say bright blue, I mean Cookie Monster blue.  This change in plan made me change up the color scheme a bit - I added some teal blue ornaments I had leftover from Eletra's wreath.  Here is the finished piece:

My intent was to make this a winter wreath, but in looking at it Christmas morning I realized I inadvertently made a Frozen wreath.  Oops.

The other wreath, the one that necessitated the emergency run for more green tinsel, is here:

Totally impractical gifts, yes I know.  The Christmas wreath went to Ann's house and the Frozen wreath went to Kathy's house.  Some day I will make one for myself.

Oh, also on my to-do list for Christmas Eve was the test-drive of Roxie's present from Derek.

Heh heh.  We didn't go far because it was raining.  I think the weirdest thing for her wasn't the boots themselves but the noise they make.  I can't wait to see what a fashion statement she will make when she wears these boots with her new coat:

When we got home from our Christmas Extravaganza trip, one of the first things we did was assemble and hang this present from the Thomas house:

Roxie was very impressed; that window is the perfect spot:

Today was going to be a day for cleaning house and doing laundry and crossing things off my new to-do list, but I'm not making much progress except with the laundry.  So perhaps it would be fitting to close with a haiku I penned today:

Last year: upheaval
This year: procrastination
Next year: kicking ass

The end.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Solstice

I have maybe one article of clothing that does not have paint on it, so today I dropped a paintbrush and on its way to the floor....

Black shirt, white paint.

Oh yes I did.

Luckily there is a sink nearby and I salvaged it, so I still have one article of clothing that does not have paint on it.

But that's not what I was going to say.  We got a bunch of snow a while back, and I had to shovel off the steps outside my living room door for Roxie, so I shoveled her a cul-de-sac.

She loves this kind of snow - deep and leapable.  Normally I would not post a picture that is so out of focus, but this is the best action shot I could get of my snow bunny:

Leapin' and hoppin'.

Moonshadow, moonshadow.  Go with it.

The snow was tremendously heavy - it took my bird feeder right to the ground.  I'm not sure if that wee tree will recover.

I think my awesomely cool tree in the front yard (which, by the way, I've been told by a volunteer Master Gardener with the UVM Extension Service is an atypical form of a Burning Bush - a species that has been declared invasive here in Vermont) lost a big branch, but it may have been the branch that was held on with packing tape.

Roxie and I loaded up the jeep last Friday with cookie-making supplies and headed away from the only home in my Vermont family that had power to make cookies with my niece and nephew.  Mom's power was out for four days.  Kathy's power was out for a couple of days, then came back on for a night, then went back out for half a day, then came back on, then went out.  She has a generator so they had things like heat and running water, but this was to be cookie-baking central.  Ann, all of three-ish miles from Kathy, only lost power for a couple of hours, so the cookie baking parade moved to Ann's house, but Kathy's van was stuck in her driveway so we packed the jeep to the gills with three people, one dog and about seven thousand pounds of stuff.  I wrote on facebook that it was like a clown car.  Here is Kathy's driveway:

Roxie ran around with Ruby like a mad dog, then put herself to bed on a beanbag.

Exciting news at my house - I found out my snow blower is not worth fixing.  I could spend about $400 having the belts replaced and the carburetor cleaned out and whatever else they need to do, but since it was probably the very first snow blower ever invented and I have no idea of its maintenance history, there is no guarantee the engine won't blow the first time I use it.  So I'm probably going to suck it up and get a new one.  I certainly have no problem spending quality time with a shovel, but there's no way I'm going to shovel two driveways, and I'd like to have the second driveway available in case someone ever comes to visit me.  Plus, with a snow blower I can make a whole neighborhood of cul-de-sacs for poodle in my yard.  Woo hoo!

Speaking of poodle, again, we got a box UPS two days ago and in it was her Christmas present from Uncle Derek.  Here is the initial test drive:

POOR SAD POODLE FACE!  She looks like she's going to cry!  I reminded her that we can't go for walks in the winter because the salt the road crew puts on the road hurts her feet.  We got all four boots on and she very gingerly made her way out to the driveway, while trying to not put any of her feet on the ground.  We haven't gone for an actual walk yet, but that's next.  I think once she gets used to them she will be fine.  And I'm going to invent idiot mittens for dogs and make a million zillion dollars.  These boots are fab and they stay on her feet really well, but she won't be able to do any leapin' and hoppin' with them.  Hence, idiot mittens.  Or some kind of harness so I can make dog garters.  I need a clever product name....

Have I mentioned that I put up a second tree?  It's a wee small one, and today I turned it into a pickle tree.

I found all kinds of things when I unearthed my box of Christmas decorations.

And I have a third tree, too.  Because three is a magic number.

There is a reason I am not a professional Christmas tree fluffer.  That nonsense gets old in a hurry.  I may have to leave my trees up all year.  HO HO HO.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wait, what happened to November?

You know how time goes by much faster the older you get?  Well I must be absolutely ancient.  I don't know where November went.  The whole month - poof.  Except Thanksgiving - I remember that.  There was a turkey:

I couldn't take a picture from the other side because Kathy picked a bunch of the skin off before it left the kitchen.  Heh heh.  There was all kinds of other food too, including the pies Evan made with me.

Mom, those beaters are from the Stone Age - I can't believe they still work.

He was very proud.

What else.  I only painted one thing in the entire month, and here it is:

HA!  A purple wall.  In real life it isn't that bright.  I don't generally use the light along the window wall - not sure why I turned it on to take these pictures.  Derek - notice how I am channeling the '80s with my color scheme.  It's awesome.

Winter is here to stay, I think.  We've had several snowstorms that have melted away within days, but this one seems like it is going to stick around.  And it was COLD today.  I broke down and got winter tires for the jeep on Friday.  Some times you just have to suck it up.  I also figured out how to start my snow blower.  Now I just need to figure out how to get it to stay running.  Baby steps....

The only other thing to report over here is that Christmas has creeped into my dining room.

Yep.  Those two hooks were already in the ceiling (why, I have no idea) so I used them.  I might have to leave those ornaments up all year.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Warm fuzzies

It was snowing when I woke up yesterday.  So I went back to bed.

In other news, remember the painting I started oh so long ago, last month, where I said I used a ground-breaking technique?  This is what happened:  I painted the background of an 8" x 8" canvas panel, and it was okay but it needed something extra.  On a whim I got a piece of baking parchment paper and crumpled it up, then partially smoothed it out and pressed it onto the painting.

I'm not sure which ended up looking cooler - the panel or the parchment paper.  I let the panel dry, then was afraid to do anything with it.  I call this the "I could wreck it at any moment" phase.  Last night I thought screw it, time to see what happens.

Sheepsie.  Luckily, even after two coats of varnish, you can still see some of the awesome texture.  Now -- what to do with the parchment paper....

In additional other news, I painted something else that is way cool awesome.  I realize I may be the only one on the planet who likes my abstract paintings, but this one is fab-u-lous.

Seriously.  I love this.  And it doesn't matter if I'm the only one who does, because I'm going to keep it and hang it in my house and feel happy happy joy joy every time I look at it.

Speaking of happy happy joy joy, there is this:

November 8th.  Yes I did.  Judge me.

Also, there's something really comforting about a dark kitchen with the light on over the stove.

I don't know why, but every time I walk into my kitchen and see it like this, it's so homey and peaceful.

In conclusion, what do you get when you cross way cool awesome with happy happy joy joy, then throw in a little homey and peaceful?  You get this:

The end.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Painting pictures with my mind

(Still with the song lyrics, FYI.)

I set a goal for the month of October.  I told myself I was going to paint TWO new paintings.  Seems easy enough - 31 days and only two paintings.  But I am the master of self-sabotage; there was really only a 50/50 chance I would get this done.



The first was the apple from a couple weeks ago.  Halfway done, woo hoo, on a roll!  Then on Tuesday I hauled out a canvas I started way back in Montana.  I can't remember what it was originally going to be.  Words.  Two words.  Sounds like ....  Hmmm.  Can't remember.  It turned into this instead:

It was touch-and-go with this one; I didn't like how it was turning out.  I salvaged it, and then I didn't, and then I think I did.  I'm hoping over time it will grow on me, like the hot mess did.  Did I ever show you that one, the hot mess?  I almost threw it away when I was packing to move but I couldn't bring myself to do it and now it has been sitting on my desk for the last nine months and it has grown on me.  I'm looking at it right now in fact.  And so are you.

I know, I know, your initial reaction is, "WHOA!  YIKES!"  Mine was too, but as I said, it has grown on me.

Sorry, I digress.

The maple leaf painting makes two for October.  Goal met!  And guess what?!?  Goal exceeded!

Abstract nonsense.  A friend was having a very self-empowering moment two days ago, and I channeled her pride and exuberance.  This is what came out.  It's yummy in real life.  And I'm sending it to you, my friend, if you want it.

AND, there's another painting in the works.  So far it is just a cool, cool background.  I employed a ground-breaking technique and got an awesome effect that I love, so now I'm at the point where anything I do from here on out could totally wreck the whole thing.  I might just leave it as is.  I'm sleeping on it for a couple of days.

Not sleeping on the painting.  Just, you know, sleeping on it.

What else.

I'm going to something called The Haunted Forest with my mother, Kathy, Johnny and Evan on Saturday night, so if you never hear from me again, it was a frightening experience that turned fatal.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baby it's cold outside

It was in the 40s today and I saw hail twice.  Might be getting too cold for flip flops.

But before the snow starts to fly, here are some pictures of the awesome, weird, now pink tree in my front yard:

I wish I knew what kind of tree this is.  Hopefully a master gardener volunteer at the University of Vermont extension service will be able to help - I submitted a few of these pictures today with my question.  I will let you know if I get an answer.

The end.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Falling leaves, a sycamore

Not a lot of words today, but plenty of pictures.  Foliage is still fab here in Vermont.

Even the vacas think so.  Poodle and I went down to Killington on Friday, and here are some action shots so you can see how happy she was to get there.

What a nut.  She was also a leaf-peeper.

The view is crazy from my mom's house.  Here, I tried to stitch two photos together so you could get the full effect.  This is not a very successful effort, but it is the best I can do with the limited resources I've got, so keep your hair on.

It's quite mesmerizing in real life.

Here's a tree:

Love love love.

So, more foliage:

Poodle thought the view was pretty good from the deck, too.

Do you see her?  She's kinda like Where's Waldo in this one.

Today we went to the World's Best Breakfast, then down to the rec center to play ball.  I took the next picture through the windshield on River Road:

My dad's memorial service was one year ago today.

Has anybody noticed that the titles of my posts so far this month have all been song lyrics?  Today's title is from one of my dad's favorite songs.

And since we started this post with a farm on our way out of town, we will end it with another farm on our way back to town.

And now, since I've already said I don't have a lot of words today, and I've already said I'm ending with a farm, here are some final words from one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, appropriate for an October day when my eye was drawn to the acorn caps scattered under an oak tree at the cemetery.

Some Final Words

I cannot leave you without saying this:
the past is nothing,
a nonmemory, a phantom,
a soundproof closet in which Johann Strauss
is composing another waltz no one can hear.

It is a fabrication, best forgotten,
a wellspring of sorrow
that waters a field of bitter vegetation.

Leave it behind.
Take your head out of your hands
and arise from the couch of melancholy
where the window-light falls against your face
and the sun rides across the autumn sky,
steely behind the bare trees,
glorious as the high strains of violins.

But forget Strauss.
And forget his younger brother,
the poor bastard who was killed in a fall
from a podium while conducting a symphony.

Forget the past,
forget the stunned audience on its feet,
the absurdity of their formal clothes
in the face of sudden death,
forget their collective gasp,
the murmur and huddle over the body,
the creaking of the lowered curtain.

Forget Strauss
with that encore look in his eye
and his tiresome industry:
more than five hundred finished compositions!
He even wrote a polka for his mother.
That alone is enough to make me flee the past,
evacuate its temples,
and walk alone under the stars
down these dark paths strewn with acorns,
feeling nothing but the crisp October air,
the swing of my arms
and the rhythm of my stepping --
a man of the present who has forgotten
every composer, every great battle,
just me,
a thin reed blowing in the night.