Monday, October 8, 2012

Actually feeling like fall

About a week ago, I took this picture of the pasture across the road from our house. Sorry it's not any closer, but it would have cut out the number of geese that there are. Below is a closer shot. We moved to this home at the first of this year, so we are experiencing the seasons in a new way here. There is a large pond somewhere behind us that I've only seen by Google satellite images.  During the summer, we could hear what sounds like hundreds of frogs as night fell. Also, there has been a smaller gaggle of geese that fly from the pond behind to the smaller pond and pasture across from us.  Sometimes it looked like you could reach up and touch them as they came in for a landing. In September we began to see larger numbers, I would assume, from migrating geese passing through. They would spend all day grazing the pasture like a herd of cows.  The last few days I have not seen or heard any, so they must have moved on a little further south. 

Alabama has been having some weather that actually feels like fall. This is not always the case around here.  There have been years that it was warm at Christmas.  I love autumn, so I am loving these cooler than normal temps.  A couple of weeks ago, on my last Saturday off, Kerry and I headed to Tennessee to David Crockett State Park.  We had been camping there before with my brother and his family some years ago when the girls were young.
The fall color has not started yet, but it was still a peaceful, beautiful spot.  All of these shots were taken at the creek and falls.  We did take a short hike through the woods, but didn't get any good pictures there. 
My favorite pics of the day are the one above and the one below.
These are all various shots of the same falls. 
A look downstream, as the creek meanders on through the woods.

We enjoyed seeing the park again and reliving memories of watching our children play there when they were young.  Moments like these remind you again of how fast time flies.
The park is located not too far from a large Amish community.  After we left, we drove that way and took the scenic drive to see the farms.  The Amish don't want their pictures taken so I only tried to get a couple of shots of the fields.  There were several acres of sheaved corn, which you don't see much anymore.  The pics weren't all that good, though.  Unfortunately we forgot to get some cash before we left home, so we were unable to stop and purchase any of the canned or baked goods or vegetables that were for sale from various farms. We did buy some peanut brittle from a small flea market nearby.  It was locally made, although not Amish and I found a lovely little handcrafted wooden tray. The back of it right below, which is cool enough, I think.

Then here is the front.  I may hang it on the wall now as part of a grouping of wooden boxes for which I seem to have a "thing" among the other collections I also have. Eventually it may end up as an assemblage base, if I ever get my artistic head back on my shoulders again.

Tonight we are expecting a low around 39, almost winter-like around here.  I am loving it!  We haven't even turned our heat on yet.  This is the time of year we save money on our heating/cooling bill.  Being so hot-natured we have our air set on 70, but until it gets consistently cold, we don't need any heat.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Batman Party

Thomas turned three in August and Holly happened to be here during the time of his party, so that worked out well. She got to attend AND to help out with decorating!  Emily enlisted our help to make some of the favors, decorations, and in setting up the day of the party.  We talked over different things we could have and decided a "photo op" Batman would be cute. I was volunteered to make this.  Was going for a more cartoonish look, because I thought that would be easier to do and maybe more kid-friendly.  Purchased one of those cardboard backgrounds that are used for science fair projects around here.  I sketched the figure, then painted it, and cutout the shape. 

Emily made these cute cone holders out of comic book pages to hold Chex Mix as a portable snack. Holly fixed the cardboard to hold the cones.  She and I used a lot of blue paint!

Below are the cute Batman Tootsie Roll Pops that Holly did. She printed and cut out the masks and capes, gluing all the batman emblems on each cape. Lots of tedious work, but the kids loved them!

Then shown below, the favor bags for the children attending.  Again, Holly did the Batman emblems for the bags.  When we didn't have the right shade of blue paper, she had to paint paper. The cityscape was a lucky leftover from the daycare that Thomas and Sam attend.  There had been a Vacation Bible school where they had used these as props.  They were going to be thrown away, so Emily rescued them to re-use at the party.  These are made from black paper-covered boxes with yellow sticky notes for the windows. 

Emily and Craig got into the Super Hero spirit, with his Superman shirt and her Wonder Woman.

Thomas had a blast with all the water fun. He did start out the day with a Batman shirt, but it was a really hot and humid Tuscaloosa day, so the water play started early.

Here is Kerry with Sam.  They had found a Robin onesie for him.  He looked so cute!

Birthday cake was made by a friend of ours here in Vinemont, so it had to be transported all the way to Tuscaloosa.  Kerry ended up having to do this, as Holly and I had went down the night before the party to be able to help Emily with the setup.  It made it all in one piece, looked wonderful, and was delicious, as her cakes always are.

Thomas, taking a pose, as Batman.

Long time, no blogging

My resolutions to blog more often seem to have failed, as have my promises to myself to do more in  the way of art.  Remains to be seen whether I figure out what is going on.  There have been some busy times for various reasons, working some extra days, but that is not all.  But not going to whine about that more right now.

Since I last blogged, we enjoyed a visit from Holly.  She was able to stay a couple of weeks.  While she was here, we made some jewelry, which is what I thought I'd blog about. I repaired some pieces of mine and made a few pieces for myself.  Holly made several necklaces and bracelets.

Here are the bracelets, made from vintage pins and assorted chains. Holly kept 2 for herself and then 2 were for Emily.
I made the orange and wooden bead earrings above and Holly the black ones.  She did take the orange ones as we decided they would look cuter on her.  The necklaces are shown better in the shot below.

Holly modeled the necklaces after some we had seen for sale somewhere and made these entirely by herself. A lot of the components are from jewelry that I've taken apart, some vintage.  All of the chain is from old costume jewelry pieces. Below is a necklace and earring set I made for myself.  The blue beads are new, but the remainder is more vintage rescue.

Several years ago, Holly had given me a black walnut pendant that I love.  I associate the black walnuts with my Grandmother Koehler, who would go to all the trouble it takes to get to the sweet, distinctively-flavored nutmeat inside. Since Holly gave me the pendant, my Mom gave me 3 walnut buttons that had belonged to my Grandmother.  I took 2 of these to make the earrings shown here, going for a kind of bohemian look.  I like them, but my neck is short, so they hang a little too long on me.  I may go back and take out the beads between the dangly part and the buttons.

We had fun making the jewelry. Also, during the early part of the time Holly was here, we were working on decorations for Thomas' third birthday party. Emily decided on a Batman theme. Thomas loves Superheroes, but especially Batman. I think I will make that a separate post, as it will require several pictures so you can see.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quick post-journal pages

Finally getting back into a groove, I think!  I'm still working in one of my altered composition notebook journals. Finding that, even during my work week, which is 7 ten hour night shifts, that if I take a few minutes to sit down at the work table in my art room, there will possibly be some inspiration or I can do some prep work.  Gesso or paint doesn't take much brain power and then I can always try again later.  Most of what I'm doing right now is "fly by the seat of your pants" stuff anyway. Thinking of trying some collages on canvas soon along the line of what I'm doing on the journal pages.  If I don't like them, I can always collage over them!  I've not done any messy collages on a larger scale, just simpler, neat collages and several collage/assemblage boxes. A lot of what I've done in the past has been for art group swaps, so it is embarrassing how little I have of my own art at home.  I have given some pieces to my Mom and daughters.  Hope to be entering a phase of finding my voice, if there is one, and expressing in whatever manner it seems to be wanting.

This is the latest pair of pages.  Started with gesso, then blue paint smeared in various colors, and some smudges of oil pastels.  I have a file of magazine cutouts and the paper glued to the lower right corner and the castle picture are from that.  Those led to the circles and carrying the designs around the pages.  Playing around with different pens, paints, etc. to see what works and how.  Of course, all is messy, cause that's how I seem to roll.

I'm using my scanner this time, like I used to before I had a digital camera or a phone that could take pictures.  Amazing how easy those make taking and uploading a picture, but it seemed like the shadows and lighting hid some details.  I do find the scans more pleasing but my scanner bed is too small to capture both pages to the edges, so I scanned individually.  Above the right and below the left.  Funny side note to me using my scanner, is that I'm also using my desk top which I rarely use anymore.Slow for some reason & can't figure out why.  Usually posting from my desktop and a little from my iPhone, So the humorous part is that I keep trying to move the cursor by moving my finger around on the desk instead of reaching for the mouse! 

The pages below are my attempt at "coloring outside the line".  Meaning, I'm not really an orange/yellow kind of gal. Again, gesso first but this time I collaged some papers that were chosen quickly and by color coordination and then went for the paint and pens.  I guess the colors seemed so tropical that I started searching for an image to add. This pretty bird seemed to belong and then that called for a for a branch sketched in with a gold pen.  As often happens, making myself use colors I don't normally reach for resulted in something I really liked. 

This time not much point in scanning each page as the right page didn't have much detail on the edges. So above is the birdie page and then both together.

These next pages are what I call my weird ones.  They were done a little while ago, but I never have scanned them in or shown them.  Totally made up from scraps and pictures from my table top at the time, these ended up being kind of cool, at least to me.  I've said before that I just usually play around in my journals and some spreads are the kind I come back and write on while others wouldn't really work for that, being too busy or more of a collage.  Although these are busy with this and that, there is still enough empty space that I'll probably journal here one day. 

The fish picture is another one printed from an copyright-free online source onto old watercolor paper from the thrift store.  Other papers used are scraps of text from there and there, bits of painted paper from that I keep on my work surface to catch the overflow(ends up with lots of lovely and random color), scrapbook paper bits, old letter pieces, and the bones are a packing tape transfer glued over some text. Yeah, I just tried to move the pointer with my finger on the desk top again.  I keep myself amused!

Also, I have tried my hand at carving cheap erasers into stamps.  the diamond shapes, swirls, and  arrow are some of those.  Periodically I will get some of my rubber stamps or carved erasers and experiment with them on paper scraps or book pages, after which they get filed away for future journal use.

As far as life goes, the new job is working out well.  I do like the schedule so much more than I did when I was working every Tuesday through Saturday in Huntsville.  Definitely don't miss being on the road 2 to 3 hours each work day.  Now I can be at work in 15 minutes and even though I'm putting in 7 long days in a row, I have 7 off days then after they are over.  I feel  like I should be getting more done when I'm off than I have so far.  There are days to spend with grandchildren and this weekend will be one of those.  Emily and her boys are coming for a visit.  We don't get to see them nearly as much as we would like to.  They both work as do we, but with my present schedule I have an entire weekend free without having take time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Some journal pages and yard sale finds

A friend was having a yard sale so I dropped by.  Was able to get a few great deals.  I've been looking for small odd tables to use outside on the deck.  This cute little stool or workbench is just the kind of thing!  I will probably paint it since it has a half spray of silver on one side of the top.

Got it to use on the deck, but right now it has found a home holding my beautiful petunias that I got for Mother's Day in the treasured painted flowerpot with my grandson's pictures on my front porch. This pot has to stay out of direct contact with the weather since the pictures would be damaged.

In additon I scored some ephemera and a nice partitioned cigar box.  Not sure why it would be divided up like this, but it will make a good assemblage box one day or for now maybe storage for jewelry or junk bits and pieces. First pic shows all of it together and then below inside the box and a shot of just the paper stuff.  Looks like someone had saved a lot of stamps, then there are old letters and postcards.

I pulled out some of my composition journals that were started some time back and have gotten a few spreads done over the last couple of weeks. In these, I glue a couple of pages together for more stability, usually add some gesso to the pages, glue some collage elements, and then layer different paints, stickers, and use markers or pens here and there, kind of playing back and forth.  I feel a good bit rusty and am not totally satisfied with them but at least it is a start in the right direction and fun, which is most important. Right below, this set of pages started out with watercolor flowers done on a page when Thomas and I were playing last time he was here.  I did very basic elementary flowers, so to preserve some of the memory of this day, I tore out the purple and yellow flowers and glued one to each page, then went on playing from there.

The last spread I've done is below. I had spent some time one day painting vintage book pages, beginning this project to make some striped papers to use in decorating candles after buying an Anna Corba book.  I painted several pages with different images before I was through that day, saved them in a folder with other painted papers, like the papers I put on my work table when I'm working with paints or stamping. Actually scraps of these are on the flower spread above, too.  So the hearts came from that collection and then, on the left page below, used pieces that I had leftover from a marbling paint paper experiment.  The medieval picture came from an onlive archive, maybe the NYPL one, which is free and full of great images. Other papers are different scrapbook papers and again, used markers and pens to highlight and add dots, etc.

This last spread I did almost 2 years ago,when I turned 50, but don't think I've ever shared.  Here again you see the painted vintage book pages. On the left the orange and brown striped and on the right the squiggles.  There are scraps from old letters and then this and that as usual. Sometimes I will go back and journal over or around pages like these and others I find I like just as they are.   

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Observations about aging

Yeah, this might be one of those posts that you might want to skip, lol, especially if you are looking for anything artistic.  Some of these thoughts have been brewing in my head for awhile now.  I'm going to write them out and see if I have the courage to hit "post" when I'm done!  If you are middle-aged or older you will get a laugh and even if you are young you need to read on because it will all make sense to you one day and you might appreciate the warnings or the info.

This could also be entitled "things they don't warn you about getting older"although this might just be in my world, where family didn't tend to be very open about personal stuff. I grew up in a pretty sheltered world with one set of grandparents being German and the other set very religious. I was the only daughter to my parents, with 2 brothers to follow, so there were no sisters to share knowledge.  There was a lot of laughter and love in the home, but not so much open discussion of personal matters.  To give my Mom credit, she was the one brought up in the German household, so she probably didn't get much information from her Mother, BUT she was the youngest child of 6, with 4 older sisters.

So, the only personal things I remember being told: Mom guided me toward the Childcraft volume about Health where I learned a bit about periods and I think, reproductive matters; she bought me some pads when I did start, the kind that used a belt, and gave very quick, basic instruction on how to use them; and my Granny told me that if I waited until I got older I wouldn't even have to shave my legs because the hair would quit growing. And that pretty much sums it up. 

Except...I discovered the All You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask volume hidden in one of my parent's dresser drawers by being a sneaky, nosy kid.  Think my brothers did, too.  Who knows, maybe it was a deliberant plant by a very smart Mom, who knew we would do exactly what we did, thus avoiding the awkward Birds/Bees talk. Even at age 51, not yet had the nerve to come right out and ask her or admit to her that I read it.  And so the cycle of not verbalizing continues...

Yeah, I learned a LOT from that book!  Served me well later on. But really, I digress from what I started out to say.

What I've had on my mind lately really has nothing directly to do with sex, so not sure how I wandered down that road ;)  It is more about the changes that happen to your body as you age, which does go back to what my Granny said about shaving your legs.  When she told me that, I was pretty young, too young to be shaving, probably less than 10.  But, even at such an age, I remember thinking that this chick was definitely going to be shaving her legs!  It would be so GROSS not to, but I guess in generations past, women didn't shave their extremities or under/around them. I must research this topic!  When exactly did razors and women shaving become so common?

But you know she was right!  That is something that I noticed as I rushed through that 4th decade of life into this 5th one,  All that body hair that I have been fighting since puberty IS thinning out now.  To explain a bit, unfortunately in my family, women tend to have more than our share of body hair.  The positive side is that it means we have a thick head of hair, but the big downside is extra everywhere else! No pretty golden hairless arms for most of us(always envied my friends).  We are talking about leg and underarm hair that resisted all efforts at removal! It laughed in the face of puny depilatories! Well, now it is more normal, even thin in all the areas that it is supposed to be that way.  But, sadly, now at an age that it really doesnt matter anymore.  I mean I'm 50+ and don't really need to be in a bathing suit.  This is not to say I'm going to give up going to the beach and wearing one because it doesn't mean that.  Just sayin' that I don't care anymore about what people think of me and I'm not a young thing out there trying to attract a mate.  Had the same one for over 30 years now.

That fourth decade is when a lot of things change that people don't warn you about, so that is what I am going to postulate about. I've given one positive change: your body hair is going to get thinner, a positive if you are like the females in my family.  Of course, no one tells you that the hair gets thinner EVEYWHERE, which is not so attractive when it happens in a certain place and that is all I'm going to say about that.  I just wasn't warned, you know, so that on one of those days when I forced myself to really look in the mirror, I was kind of shocked and since then have tried not to think about it!

Another is that your body weight will slowly shift from your bottom to your middle.  This will happen even if you are fat or thin, male or female.  Now maybe you made this observation on your own. In retrospect, I realize I noticed this happening to older people but never thought it would happen to me.  You know, the land of denial, although not conscious denial, I must say.  To further add to this denial, when my pants continued to fit me, even got looser in the legs, I thought maybe I was losing weight Finally had to face facts when I saw some snapshots and the pear shape that had been what I fought since I was a teenager had become more that  of a nice round apple.

What else to warn you about?  Your lips as well as your hips will lose their definition. Not sure when this happened, although it was probably since I turned 40, gradually, so I didn't see it coming.  I used to not bother with lip liner, but now I find it helps, a lot, if I put an outline around these lips.  Love those sweet young lips you have now, for one day they will just be a vague idea around that mouth!

Definition.  Another thing that kind of goes away all over.  Be forewarned: your skin will turn loose from your muscles.  Again, not sure when this occurred and something I found when forcing myself to look at my body, naked, in a full-length mirror. To continue to be frank, I was/am contemplating a tattoo, a celebration and embracing of my age after I hit the big 5-0.  Hhhmmm, where would this tattoo look the best? Thus the mirror and the close scrutiny because my thinking was my back would be a good place.  So, I look and then think"@$#&, when did my back get saggy like that?!" I work in the medical field, so why I am being surprised by all these things?  I do wonder?  More denial, I suppose. But, fat or thin, one day this will happen to you. 

Your skin is going to become thin.  Now I come from thick-skinned people, both figuratively and literally, so I think this didn't happen with me as early as it does with others.  Even so, during this last few years, mine is starting to get that look of old people skin. When this happens, minor scrapes and bumps become yucky-looking abrasions that you will find later on and then wonder where they came from.

You know how your hair is going to get thinner? Well, it won't all over, unfortunately.  Most likely, you will start to sprout some eyebrows that look like they are on steroids. If you are a man, there may be some extra hairs out of your ears.  Be aware and be ready with some sharp scissors and a magnifying mirror because about this time your eyes will also start giving out on you, thus making it harder for you to see these offending hairs that will sprout up where they don't need to be.

To younger women that might happen to take the time to read this.  Love the body you are in!  I mean it! Please take me seriously.  Whatever your shape, appreciate that pretty young skin and the youth and health you have. Don't waste time wishing to look like someone else who is more than likely wishing THEY looked like someone else.  Love yourself!

I say that and am trying to turn it around on myelf, at my age.  Listen to my own advice.  Hard to do. I know there are more changes yet to come. Wrinkles, all over, even! And, you know, I embrace them all!  Because I think elderly people are beautiful!  To me, my grandmothers were two of the prettiest women I ever knew.  I don't mention my Mom because, even at almost 70, she looks young.  I have more gray hair than she does. My Aunts, both sides of the family, are lovely women. Seriously all I hope for is that my husband, children and my grandchildren keep on loving me as long as I'm blessed to be on this earth.  I don't even care if they think I'm pretty, as long as they love me. But I thought it wouldn't hurt to take a few minutes and laugh at aging, because, you know, you can either laugh or cry.  Either way, won't change a thing!

PS I probably should have used a filter in my thinking and writing or gone back to delete some of this, but I've decided to let the chips fall where they may, as it was how I felt when I wrote it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Around the house, literally

I thought I would show some views of our outside areas.  This is where I've been piddling around, trying to make this place my own, I guess.  I know everything is kind of hodge-podgy but at least it has a personal touch, lol! Above is the side sitting area down from the deck that wraps around the back and east side of the house and one of the things I love about this house.  Looks like the former owners started filling in this area with the pebbles but never finished. That will be a "do-as-I-can" project, of which I have several, including getting cushions for this iron bench and the swing that was left here.

Here is another view of this area.  Beside the chair is the pot lid turned upside down planter for hens and chicks.  The concrete edging was another thing left here piled up under a tree in the yard.  Moved it here to recreate a border around what looked like a former planting bed below the decks. We've still got to finish putting up the lattice under the deck.  It is done in places but not others.

Here is the strawberry planter pot I've had for years now, finally planted with some cute little flowers/succulents.  Think the one is called moss rose? They seem to be doing nicely in it.  The last time I tried to plant this pot, I couldn't keep it watered enough, but these are pretty hardy plants so hopefully they will survive.

Saw this idea on Pinterest.  The rusty toolbox was another thing left behind in our shed, so now it's become useful again. These succulents are some I got at the Wildflower Society's sale back in April.  Can't wait until they are overflowing the box!

This is the corner of the deck outside the living rom windows and the utility room doors. I've plans to repaint these chairs, same colors, yellow and green, although the green paint on the chair to the right has weathered and chipped almost completely off.  They really shouldn't be sitting out in the open, but my front porch just wasn't right for this rustic of a look, so here they will be. 

Here is the blue table and chairs that I blogged about recently.  Still not decided about trying to make them more turquoise, which was what they were supposed to be in the first place.

Another to-do project waiting on me is the table and chair set.  We purchased these several years ago at a great price when we were going to auctions for our flea market booth.  With the fabric cushions, these should be in a screened-in porch, but as I am not EVER going to have one of these, even though I've wanted one forever and my husband started one and never finished it at our other house, these are going to have to do.  I bought the black Rustoleum paint for the facelift, but after I did, came to the abrupt realization that the seat bottoms are rotten and need to be totally redone when I fell through the bottom of one as it busted!! Sssoo, now there will be new seat bottoms to cut(guess treated plywood would be the way to go on that) and will have to buy new foam and cover them all when done.  Working on the hubby to get him to help me cut out the seats, as I'm not the greatest with power tools.  Thinking I'm going to use vinyl tablecloths as the fabric for the seats.  It will eventually dry rot but maybe not as soon as the shower curtains I've been using.

In the background, you might be able to see the shed that sits at the edge of our yard.  In a weird twist, it only partially belongs to us.  This was an old family place that was gradually divided up among family members who then have moved on.  Only one brother, a neighbor a few houses east of us, still lives and owns his family property.  Our house was on several acres, but they gave one acre to a daughter and her husband, that immediately east of us. This was sold to another fellow, our present neighbor.  Parceling off one acre cut through existing structures of the original home place, which went with house we now live in. So the line, as we understand it now, runs through the front of the shed and cuts off a stormpit which looks like it should belong to our house.  We own the entrance to the shed but not the majority of the shed.  I'm itching to do something to the side of it to make it more pleasing to the eye, like adding an old window, shutters, and flower plantings.  I still may do it, after asking the neighbors permission, as surely he won't have an objection to improvements.  It's an eyesore more to us than him. His home faces away from these structures, but they are what we see from every back window, our deck, and outside seating.

So this is our "garden", or part of it.  We also have 6 sweet pepper plants, yellow and red, in another bed, but they are recently planted and pitiful right now.  Four tomato plants made it out of six we planted and the same with some cayenne peppers right in front of the tomatoes.  They are flowering now.  I have to get some Sevin dust as I've spotted a few Japanese beetles and some cutworms.

To the left of the tomotoes are the few herbs transplanted from the other house or purchased recently.  They will be moved eventually to a planned herb garden, once I decide where and how I want to do it.  From left to right, winter savory, garlic chives, some kind of oregano?forgot what it was, and then 2 colors of bee balm(not yet blooming). 

I'm working on some more herbs.  Here is some thyme and basil seedlings.  I've more basil in another pot and then cilantro and lavender which are just starting to sprout.

This is another view from the back deck of the side seating area where you can see the swing that was left behind.  It needs some new cushions to spruce it up. 

While I've been trying to get this post together, here is what Maggie was doing.  She was under the coffee table at my feet, trying to get my attention and looking pitiful. 

In the line of art, I've done a bit of journaling again, and have started having some ideas of things I want to do.  This is starting to feel more like home and perhaps that is a beginning to my being able to get past the mental block I've had to creativity.  We still have things to situate in the house but I've started a new position at work where I will be working seven days and then off seven, night shift.  This should free up more time for all of the above-mentioned projects, art, and moving.

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