Monday, January 30, 2012

Some of This and Some of That

Is it just me, and I know it's not because my husband feels the same way, but is Downton Abbey absolutely dreary this season.  Everyone's unhappy, and I don't like the way Lord Grantham is looking at the new maid.  It's so bad I'm looking to Thomas and O'Brian for comic relief and you know that's not right.
On a lighter note this week's Header Picture is one Mac copied from a card our daughter sent him a few years ago.  Though it doesn't show in the picture, hanging below the painting is an old rod and reel and some antique reels and lures.  Mac loves fishing.
I've been working on the railroad, all the live long day or at least painting the engine.  I decided to paint the engine red and gold and the rest of the train in green and gold.  So I've got the first coat on.
I'm trying to teach myself how to paint on glass  and this little vase is my first real attempt.  I did a little candle holder earlier, but I didn't really know what I was doing.  This turned out a bit better.  What I read says I need to bake it or let it air dry for 21 days.  Given my past experience with putting glass in the oven (I blew up a dish in my new oven) I think I'll air dry it.

I'm supposed to be cleaning bathrooms today and I've avoided it as long as I can so I guess I had better get going

Sunday, January 29, 2012

DISASTER!!!!

The table in happier days

The lovely library table and the painting in my entryway were out of alignment, so I straightened the painting and pushed the table a little bit.  Disaster struck!  The table literally fell apart and everything on it went crashing to the floor.  I was shell-shocked!  But I was lucky, other than a small blue and white dish that Mac says he can glue together, everything was ok.  Don't know why the table decided to fall apart, central heating is always a factor with old wood furniture.  Mac said that perhaps the last time we put it together (we always take it apart when we move) he might have  used screws that were too short and over time they worked their way our.  Right now the top is standing against the wall in the dining room and it's a solid chunk of wood, no veneer here, rather about 2 inches of solid oak.  We bought this table years ago in Germany from an antique dealer and we think it's probably from the 1920's.  So now Mac has an afternoon project, putting the table back together again and the little blue dish that broke.
The table now





















Like new again














And he did get them put together very quickly, the table with longer screws and the dish with glue, so all is well again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Apron

Finished my new apron, made of denim, should be fairly durable.  Now I need a hook inside the pantry door so I'll have a place to hang it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sad But True

This is a little bear who lives in my laundry room, but it could be a picture of me.  I'm not very fond of housework, it's so repetitive and so unrewarding.  When you clean something it stays clean for moments only.  I'd rather make a mess than clean one, cook, sew, crochet, paint  anything but clean.
 Mac said he'd never realized how unrewarding housework until he retired a year a head of me and spent a lot of time taking care of the house.  He said no matter how well you did something or cleaned something you were just going to have to do it again, and again and again.
I finished up my Christmas apron and my small Christmas quilt that I will put on the back of my couch next Christmas.  No close ups, I made too many mistakes, but I enjoyed making it and I learned a lot.
I cut out my next apron,  the material is denim with little flowers.  A bit sturdier than the Christmas one I made.
Next on my "to do" list is to paint the wooden train I got for Christmas, not sure yet what colors I want to use.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was gloomy, foggy and busy, very busy.  Up at dawn or what passes for dawn for us, for as I've said before I am not a morning person, to go for a medical exam that involves smashing things and x-raying them.  That went well with results given within hours.
Then my new car had its 6 month check-up and oil change, free, part of the lease.  I've only put 1600 miles on it in 6 months which means I'm averaging around 266 miles a month.  Not bad when you consider we live out in the boonies and even the trip for yesterday's exam worked out to about 60 miles round trip.
While that was being done we did our morning walk and went for a fast food breakfast at Krystals, a place that specializes in square hamburgers, but also fixes a decent breakfast.  I'd never eaten at a Krystals before, and though it won't make my list of top places to dine, it was ok.  Except for giving me grits instead of hash browns.  You know you're a real southerner if you like grits, I blockaded them on one side of my plate and ignored them.
We then managed to get our grocery shopping done at the commissary, which was quite crowded with some actual shoppers, too many people with cups of coffee standing in the middle of the aisle staring at the rows of food as if they weren't quite sure what it was, and several semi-grownups blocking the aisles while staring at their phones.
Home by noon to medicate the cat who's doing much better.  I've finally learned how to hold her while Mac shoots the medication into her mouth, I wrap her in a towel so that she can't add to the network of scratches she's given me.  Though if looks could kill I would be in for some serious medical problems.
Today is beautiful, well up in the 70's with sunshine, so after our morning walk I went out to take some pictures in the yard.  My Camellias are finally blooming, all of my neighbors' have been blooming for months. They're all show and no smell, but I like them anyway, wish I had some white ones.
The Carolina Jasmine around the pool has been blooming for a couple of weeks.  It's usually the first plant to flower here.

The water in our lagoon is very low, over the last 2 years we've received 20inches  less rain than we should have and this year is not starting any better. Even so  I still enjoy the view.  In the 2nd picture, if you look very closely in the sunshine on the water you can see a load of fish who thought I was Mac coming out to feed them.


The next picture is of an orange tree that we grew from a seed, but not intentionally.  We were eating oranges outside day and throwing the seeds into the bushes. next to the steps.   Well last year we were pulling weeds out of the gardenia bush next to the steps and realized that one of the plants wasn't a weed, it was an orange tree.  So Mac dug it up and put it in a pot where it has done quite well.
Next are Mac's fava beans, also know as broad beans.  He planted them in November and we thought they'd just winter over and start producing in the spring, but winter has been so mild that some of them are starting to flower.  Who knows we may be eating beans much sooner than we expected.
I know this beautiful weather won't last, and in fact we're supposed to have highs only in the 50's by Sunday, but oh it's nice for now.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Lower Brockhampton

Lower Brockhampton a moated farmhouse in Shropshire is one of our favorite places in England and we have visited it several times.  We sat so long drawing and painting there one time that when they closed the place for the day  they left the gate open and told us to lock it when we left.  Mac painted this in about 1997.

Arm, Leg and First Born Child

I'm Worth Every  Penny of It.
Talk about expensive!  Miss Kitty has not been very well this last week , she frequrntly has trouble with hair ball and she keeps trying to throw up.  In addition she needed her shots and to get her flea medication so it was off to the vets this morning.  The vet thinks she might have an upper respiratory infection.  So she prescribed an antibiotic and prednesone for her to take for a week.  When it all added up I could have bought a small South American country with what it cost.  Hope this takes care of it or I'll be looking to hock a bunch of  cat toys.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Helen Allingham and English Gardens

Helen Allingham
Reading Rowan's post this morning (her site is Circle of the Year) about A.R. Quinton and his wonderful watercolors of a vanishing or vanished England reminded me of some of my books on the same subject.
Long before I ever visited England or even dreamed I'd go there I was given a book entitled The Country Garden of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden which was first published in the 1970's and was my first introduction to water colors and a nature diary.  It made me want to see England and to paint, though that didn't happen for a while.















Then traveling in England I discovered the wonderful Victorian artist Helen Allingham.  Her beautiful watercolor paintings of rural England, the cottages and the people living there were so wonderful that I knew I had to try and paint some of them.  Though not very successful it only made me admire her paintings even more. Found in a used bookshop on one of our trips to England was a copy of The Happy England of Helen Allingham  by Marcus B. Huish and The Cottage Homes of England by Stewart Dick with illustrations by Helen.  I return to these books again and again for inspiration.

The Lesson





A modern book of the water color paintings that I bought in Moreton-in-the-Marsh a few years ago is Lesley Holmes A Cotswold Sketchbook.  We love the Cotswolds and always visit the art galleries and shops in each of the villages.  I'd seen this book in several of them and knew I had to have it.  I love her style of painting and have visited most of the places she has painted.  Another thing I like about her is that she has had no formal training and is entirely self-taught!  That gives me hope.

Along with a love of Victorian cottage paintings I developed a love of English Gardens and have always promised myself I'd manage to "grow" one some day.  Living first in the desert of southern California and now the swamps of coastal Georgia has made me make compromises but not give up hope of having this style of garden.



Three books that have inspired me about English gardening are "The Medieval Garden" by Sylvia Landsberg, English Herb Gardens with an introduction by Rosemary Verey, and best of all The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift the story of how Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville in Somerset in the 1980's   to create a garden.  The book is divided into the hours of the Divine Office, Lauds, Prime,Terce, etc, and is the best garden book I've ever read, in fact after seeing it again it will have to go into my "to be read" pile of books.

I need to thank Rowan for reminding me of these books!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Addictions

Addictions come in all shapes and sizes and can  be a real problem to get rid of.  My younger sister is trying to beat her smoking addiction.  She has smoked since she was a teenager, but it is wrecking her health.  She has emphysema and was hospitalized with pneumonia and nearly died last year.  After that she managed to quit for 3 months.  Then she was hospitalized again just before Christmas with breathing problems  and she knew she had to try again.
I give her all the encouragement I can, I'm a former smoker, but I kicked the habit nearly 30 years ago.  It wasn't that hard for me, I was lucky.  Mac, a light smoker, quit with me and we learned how to do other things beside sit and smoke.
My sister says that even though the smoking is wrecking her health thinking about that hasn't helped her quit.  What's working for her right now is thinking about the money she's saving by not smoking.  It's an expensive habit.
I hope she can quit this time and that those around her who smoke, don't smoke near her.
As for me, I have an addiction that I've tried all my life to kick and still haven't managed. Not shopping, playing games, gambling or overeating, no  I bite my nails.  Not a life threatening habit, but one I'd sure like to get rid of.  It's not like cigarettes though, you have to go out of your way to get them, your fingernails are there all the time, tempting you.  Particularly when you're in the middle of a good book.  Crocheting which keeps my fingers busy helps, but I can't crochet all the time.  Others have told me that going for manicures helped them kick the habit, but I'm really not the manicure type.  I hope some day to lick this problem, but I'm not hopeful, addictions are exactly that addictive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No, Not That Kind of Birdcage

One Down, 29 to Go
When we first moved into our house I was pleased that there were no pulls on the doors or drawers in our kitchen.  Our house in California had been  Spanish style and the drawers had  large wrought iron pulls that my clothes were always getting caught on and more than once I'd caught my ring on one and it felt like I was going to pull my finger off.
But after 8  years I realized that  I wanted pulls.  Not having them meant I was always getting drawers and doors dirty when I was cooking and reached out to open one.  And sometimes your hand would slip when you were trying to pull open a drawer and it hurt like the dickens.  So I've been looking for a style of handle that I liked and wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.  I found the style, it's called Birdcage, and I knew the finish I wanted, brushed nickle, what I didn't want was the $6-$8 that most places wanted for them.  I have 10 drawers and 20 doors in my kitchen, so I needed one with a reasonable price, which I finally found at Home Depot.  I bought one handle and brought it home to see if I liked it in my kitchen as well as I had in the store.  I did,  so Mac installed it today, now to slowly buy the rest of them because even at a reasonable price that's a lot of handles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yankees in Georgia Part Three

And now we get to the final return.  Mac retired from teaching (I talked him into teaching after we moved to California) in 2002 and I was planning on retiring in 2003 so it was time to find where we wanted to retire.  We were living in a small (50,000 people is a small town in California) town in southern California where we owned a beautiful house, but the town was desert-ugly.  If we stayed there we'd probably substitute teach to supplement our retirement and nothing much would change in our lives.  But we were missing our daughter badly, she had not liked California and had stayed only a few years before moving to Virginia and then Maryland.  We wanted to be closer to her but didn't know if we could deal with the snowy Maryland winters.  So we started thinking about Georgia, but didn't particularly want to go back to the Augusta area, and remembering how much we use to enjoy coming down to Savannah we decided to come down here and look around.
We were looking for a one-story house on a bit of land, what we ended up with was a gigantic two-story house on a lagoon near the Ogeechee River.  It was love at first sight for Mac when he walked out in the backyard here, realized he could fish morning, noon and night, and said this was the house he wanted.  I love the house too, though I wish it had fewer stairs.  We've been here 8 1/2 years now and still love it.
If you add up all the years we've lived in Georgia it comes to almost 16 years, longer than we've ever lived any where.
Will we always live in Georgia, probably not, we're closer to our daughter now and get to see her quite frequently, but as we grow older we know we want to be even closer to her, so we'll probably end up in Maryland, just not quite yet.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yankees in Georgia Part Two

First house in Georgia
After serving in Korea Mac and I decided that he might stay in the Army a bit longer so that we could go to Europe.  Well he stayed in 21 years and in 1981 we found ourselves with orders to Georgia again, I cried.  I didn't have fond memories of Georgia, we'd just been so poor that it was miserable.  But I dried my tears, told Mac ok, but I wanted a pool!
So in September of 1981 we moved to Evans, Georgia, that's near Augusta,  but more rural.  When you're returning from overseas, and we were coming back from Stuttgart, Germany, your priority is to find a house quickly.  That's what we did, nice home, near April's school and room to put a pool in.

Pool at first house









After a couple of years though we decided we needed more land and so we sold that one and bought a house on 2 1/2 acres, put in a pool, had horses, got a sheep dog, had a bunch of cats, April was nearly through with high school and we got orders to Turkey.  I cried, again.  But we worked it out, went to Turkey for 2 years, came back to Georgia, Mac retired from the Army, all of us finished college, I started teaching school and Mac went to work for a communications company.
Second House

We were pretty settled in Georgia, reasonably happy, but we missed home, home being California and what remained of our families.  April said she'd not be returning to Evans, she was in the middle of her Master's Degree and would probably go to Atlanta or stay up in Athens (Georgia that is) when she was through. So we decided to go home to California, hoping we'd be able to lure her out there when she was through with her degree (we did, but she hated it)
Our second stay in Georgia ended in 1990, but that time we left our daughter and only good memories behind.  Again we didn't think we'd be back.

This Week's Header


This week's header is Mac's interpretation of Jean-Honore Fragonard's Young Girl Reading.  This was one of my Mother's favorite paintings and when I saw the original in the National Gallery in Washington I fell in love with it.  Fragonard has always been one of my favorite painters and I think Mac's copy more than does this painting justice.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yankees in Georgia Part One

Even after nearly 81/2 years of living here in Georgia we still hear, "You're not from around here, where are you from?"  And we always tell them that's a long story.  In fact it's a story that  begins back in the 1960's.  Shortly after we were married Mac was drafted into the Army, this being the time of the Vietnam War and after finishing Basic Training he was sent to Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia for advanced training at the Signal School.  He was going to be there long enough (nearly 9 months as it turned out) to make it possible for me to join him so I did.
In those days people like us didn't fly, not even to cross the continent from California to Georgia, I took the train, for 3 days!  It was an introduction to the segregated South for me.  In California there had always been integration,  it had never occurred to me that it might be different elsewhere.  But during a layover in New Orleans I got off the train and went in search of tastier, cheaper food, smelled some heavenly fried chicken and went in the restaurant and ordered, looked around and realized I was the only white person in the place.  That's when I started noticing whites only signs.  How foolish I thought, ate my tasty chicken and hopped back on the train.
When Mac picked me up at the train station he took me to our new home, a 60 foot long, 8 foot wide trailer.  It was a whole new world to me living in a trailer park.  Most of the people living there were young, married G.I.s like us, so we helped each other out, but it was definitely a different way of life.
Army pay was so LOW!  At first we didn't even  have a car, then we got one, but couldn't afford insurance for it so we couldn't take it on Post, we had to sneak it on when we wanted to go grocery shopping.
One of the strangest sights I saw while living there was a chain-gang, prisoners cleaning out ditches, dressed in black and white striped outfits, and even the chain-gangs were segregated!
We had no air conditioning, not even a fan most of the time, no tv,  no phone, not much of anything except each other.
A group of us decided to go to the drive-in movies one weekend and I went to a phone booth to call the theatre and find out what was on, it took 3 calls before I could understand the heavy Southern accent!
Oh were we young, and I dyed my hair black back then!  That's our trailer on the left
At the end Mac got orders to Korea and I took the bus home to California, neither of us were sorry to be leaving Georgia, it never occurred to us we might return some day.  That's part two.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grumpy Old Lady Time

We just paid our quarterly taxes so it's time for one of my old lady rants.  I hate paying taxes and seeing how so much of our tax money is wasted makes it worse.  Again I turn to Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma to find a list of places our taxes have gone to.
•The list includes: $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees and poinsettias.

•$15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska

•$113,227 for video game preservation in New York

•$550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union

•$48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival to promote Hawaii's chocolate industry

•$356,933 to study to look for connections between cocaine and risky sex habits in quail

•$10 million for a remake of "Sesame Street" for Pakistan

•1/3 of the billion dollars given to homeowners for tax credits for adding energy efficient features to their homes went to folks (prisoners, underage children) who didn't have a home

•$35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012

•$765,000 to subsidize "pancakes for yuppies" in the nation's capitol--it was to build an Ihop restaurant in an underserviced area of the city, but instead the restaurant was built in an affluent area

•$764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking

•$17.80 million to China for social services

Just makes my day to know my money is working so hard!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Are you superstitious?  I don't think I am particularly.  I mean I don't worry about Friday the 13th, I don't worry about the number 13 at all, be it a date, a floor or a room.    I don't walk under ladders  because that's just common sense, I don't worry about black cats crossing my path, in fact we had a black cat for years.  I don't worry about breaking a mirror and having 7 years of bad luck unless I cut myself and haven't updated my tetanus shot lately. I don't open umbrellas in the house, not because it's unlucky, it's just that I worry it won't close and I won't be able to get it out the door.
On the other hand, if I spill salt I will always throw some over my shoulder, I believe that bad luck or things come in threes and if my left hand itches I'm hopeful that some money is going to come my way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Where Did My Week Go?

It's Thursday, how did that happen, yesterday was Monday wasn't it?  Little things ate my week:  a Doctor's appointment in Savannah so they could blind me with bright lights and then tell me I'm not blind, well in a couple of hours I wasn't.
Cleaned the computer room and it stayed clean for about 60 seconds and wore me out for hours.
Painted a flower pot to plant my gloxinia in.
Finished my apron, but it's a Christmas one and now I'll have to make a regular one.
Started a small Christmas quilt, yes I know Christmas is over, but Christmas fabric is on sale so I'm taking advantage of that.
Tried to figure out how to make a cover for my bread maker, I am not good at visualizing things and I can't find a pattern to make one.  So far I've wasted about 1/2 yard of material, but I may be able to use that to make a pattern.
Exercised twice, walked every day and tried to play a bit more piano, Beethoven and I have gone a few rounds, so far I'd say he's ahead, but then he's had more practice than me.
The weather has been good here, mainly in the 70's with a bit of rain yesterday, so I've been raking pine straw in the front yard, almost finished, but I'm sure more will fall.
And that's how I got to Thursday before I knew it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ghostbusters Fridge

I cleaned my refrigerator today and it was worse than Sigourney Weavers in Ghostbusters.  Now I clean my fridge on a regular basis, tossing out all that's dead and decaying, pulling out the drawers and shelves to give everything a good going over and making sure it's fit to store food in.   But since the last cleaning I fear that Zor has moved in and it took all morning to exorcise him.

Faeries

I've changed the header again to show another of Mac's early paintings.  Neither of us can remember quite when he painted it, either when we were living in Germany or Colorado back in the 70's.
We had given our daughter a copy of Brian Froud's book Fairies and this was one of the illustrations.  I fell in love with it and asked Mac to paint me a copy.  Other paintings have come and gone but this one I'll keep forever.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

When I Was Born

On Facebook a friend of mine posted that "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones was the number one song on the day she was born.  I thought that was really cool so I went to see what the number one song was the day I was born.  Oh dear, it was "Five Minutes More" by Frank Sinatra, now not only have I never been a Frank Sinatra fan, but I've never heard of "Five Minutes More".  I looked it up on You Tube and I've got to say it's a pretty boring song.  I looked up the whole list of number one songs for my year and decided that if I could pick one I'd pick "Personality" by Johnny Mercer, a Savannah native.
Then I went looking to see if I could find what was number one when Mac and I got married.  It was "Help" by the Beatles,  I'd have laughed if I'd known that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Candles

I spent the morning cleaning again,  including the stove, so of course to balance things out  I had to make a mess.  And what better way to mess your stove up than to make candles.  The 4 little butterfly tea cups I'd gotten from Amazon and  I'd made those candles before Christmas.  Today I used the larger tea cup that I'd picked up in an "antique" shop in Oklahoma and the 2 little glass ones that I've been practicing painting on.
Instead of already scented wax I used plain candle wax  and put essence of rose in it.  I'm out of wax now and need to order more, I quite like making my own candles.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Coffee




I'm a coffee drinker, didn't start out that way, in fact thought coffee tasted awful when I was young.  But in my old age I find it's my drink of choice.  I actually started out as a tea drinker, good old fashioned Lipton tea brewed from a bag.  I've tried more exotic teas but never enjoyed them much and I think the reason for that is that I like sugar in my tea, lots of sugar and Lipton is perfect for that, flavored teas are not, nor are strong teas. I want my tea weak and sugary.
I drank tea all through my teen years and into my twenties.  Then in my 30's I turned to coffee, for I was working and I didn't have time to sip my tea, I needed to gulp down my coffee, get a jolt of caffeine and hit the road.  In the beginning Mac and I drank Taster's Choice , not a bad instant as instants go,  and then we  moved up to Starbucks when they started selling it for home use and we had a coffee maker. Did I fill my coffee with sugar like I did my tea?  No, for I discovered that no matter how much sugar I put in my coffee it didn't taste sweet so I simply learned to drink it black with nothing in it, fairly weak though.
A few years ago we started drinking  Dunkin' Donut coffee and we both love it, particularly since we retired and actually have time to sit down and drink a cup or two.  We don't use a coffee maker any more, just an electric kettle and a French Press.  I take mine  straight, Mac enjoys a splash of Irish Cream in his.
I still have the occasional cup of tea, particularly when our daughter is here.  She's a tea connoisseur, loves Lupica teas, they have over 400 varieties plus seasonal ones, loose tea of course, but me I still just drink Liptons with lots of sugar.













Tuesday, January 3, 2012

BRRRRRRRRRR!

For those of you who think it might not get cold down here in sunny Georgia, after all we're just north of Florida, let me tell you!  It went down to about 26 degrees last night, today's high was around 42--and it hit that for only a minute or two before heading down again, and tonight it's supposed to get down to about 22 degrees.  The electric blanket will be on high, the cat will be needed  and I may have to dig out the long johns, silk of course.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Headers

I thought that I'd try new headers for the Blog this year and decided I was going to use paintings from around the house that Mac has painted through the years.  I'll try to change the header each week, I'm pretty sure we have that many paintings.
The first one was painted more than 40 years ago, I say he painted it when we lived in Texas, but he says that he at least started it when we were first living in Germany.  Either way, paintings have come and gone through the years, but this one still remains a favorite of mine.  I had a round can with this painted on the lid and I asked him to paint me a copy of it.  I love how the colors have mellowed through the years.

It's Done!!!!


Fibber McGee would be proud of me, the closet in the computer room is now safe to open.  I'm exhausted, but very happy.  This closet had become almost unusable because of the way we would haphazardly throw things into it.  More books were removed, painting and drawing materials organized, photo paper put in one location and boxes stacked in the corner.  I think I'm going to take a couple of days off from cleaning I've earned a rest.






All Wrapped Up

Started early, finished late.  I started wrapping presents way back in November and except for a few small things due in the mail I'm fi...