Sunday, December 21, 2008

Doo Doo Doo, Lookin' Out My Back Door....

...but I don't recall the part about the FOOT OF SNOW, Mr. Fogarty, you forgot to include that.This was the scene out my back door on Friday evening. Myah must find the smell of snow intriguing, because her favorite thing to do is to stick her whole face in it. Her second favorite thing is if you shovel and throw the shovelfuls of snow at her. Fortunately, it was pretty light and fluffy. She also had company, the neighbor's dog Tucker comes over to play almost every day and the two of them had a good time in the snow but he's camera shy. By the time we had shoveled and snow-blowed all we could and went back inside, she was worn out and this was how the rest of her evening was spent:
And that's pretty much how we're spending Sunday. The snow is falling at a pretty good rate, and I think we're supposed to get another 4 inches today.

I don't mind so much. It's pretty to look at, and it doesn't bother me to consider myself stuck at home because I have plenty to do here. I just wish I had finished my Christmas shopping. I ordered a lot of stuff online, but I was counting on that last-minute trip to Wal-Mart and now I may be screwed. Maybe tomorrow though, we'll see what happens I guess. I heard rumors of yet another snowstorm, but I just want to get through this one before I think about that.

And speaking of thinking about stuff, my creative mind is already done with Christmas and has for the past week begun to think and plan for spring. A lady who had bought one of my little baby outfits came into the store and asked my when I thought my spring line would be coming out. Bemused, I had never actually thought about it in that way although I do have a spring line planned. I started making kids' clothes last year just because I felt like it, and have sold some of the few pieces I had made. I have quite a little stash of cute fabrics earmarked for dresses and outfits, so in January/February I will start on those. First, of course, I will have to finish the Christmas presents I had all good intentions of making, and I still owe Bella a set of regalia from last summer so I will have to prioritize my projects. After Christmas. That will be my sole New Year's resolution, to finish all the stuff I have planned or started. It may take me a couple of years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Believe it was Jimmy Buffett....

...who popularized that phrase, "another rotten day in paradise". Could mean you're in paradise but can't appreciate it because you've got a crappy attitude, or maybe it's like my day today....sure it's a rotten day, but it's paradise so... how bad could it possibly be?

Yeah, my little paradise. We are having rain which will probably be measured in feet instead of inches, and Preston and I hardly ventured outside at all. Day off. We unplugged. I literally didn't plug the phone in until late afternoon. Just spent the day hanging out, which was nice, and catching up on some paperwork, which was not nice. But it was a good day for it, at least I didn't have to sit there doing it and thinking, "I could be outside". I baked cookies. And went outside to look at the roof tonight, as I heard what could only be the prancing of reindeer hooves up there. Oh sure it COULD have been a branch, after all we ARE having a storm, but since I saw no branch (well, ok, it was dark), I'm going with reindeer. Until tomorrow, when it's light out and I can actually see because I'm pretty sure there's a bloody big branch up there.

So now I'm taking a little break from working on a Christmas order. I can't go into details, because I'm sworn to secrecy and I'm not sure if the recipient, who happens to be a friend of mine, reads this blog or not. It's a pretty involved and really cool project, not designed by me so I can say that. The design was given to me, and my mission, which I was daft enough to accept, is to bring it into reality. Along with several designs for other things, all Christmas gifts. And yes, I'm aware that Christmas is in two weeks. So what am I doing on the computer when I should be measuring and calculating and sketching? My eyes were crossing.

Ok, back to work.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What, Thanksgiving's over?.....

...I guess I didn't get that memo. Ok, once again I got sidetracked in the middle of my thought process. If I had a dime for every time….oh hey, there’s a squirrel hanging by one toe from my bird feeder! Oh, what was I talking about? Oh yea, I was giving thanks.

I’m thankful for my wonderful husband. As anybody who knows us can tell you, we’ve been pretty much joined at the hip for the last 26 years. We’ve only spent two nights apart, and that was when he went to Virginia for his grandmother’s funeral. I sometimes even after all these years can’t believe how lucky I am to have found THE ONE. How many people search their whole lives and can’t find that? He gets me, even at times when I don’t get myself.

I’m thankful for my son, who has been nothing but a joy to me since the day he was born. He’s talented, funny, intelligent, and just a good person. He’s doing what he loves in life, and he’s happy. What parent could ask for more than that for their child? Well I guess a lot of parents wish for different things, but not me. I’m very proud of him, for the performer he is and for the man he is.

I’m thankful for my family…my beautiful sister (who put up with the bratty child I was) who I miss, along with her family, every day (they live way across the country), my nutty brother who managed to get through a lot of crap in life with his sense of humor intact, and his nutty wife who got through a lot of it with him and also kept HER sense of humor. They were actually together for more years before they were married than a lot of other marriages even last.

And I’m thankful for my friends. I don’t have a lot of close friends, never have…unlike my son, who seems to have dozens. I don’t feel bad about that, it’s just the way I am. I have many people who I’m friendly WITH, but then there’s Lisa, who was my best friend in high school and who I still am in contact with on a semi-regular basis…real life intervenes, sometimes we don’t talk for up to a year. But when we do, we pick up right where we left off. We have a long, long history. And then there’s Carol. Here’s how it is with Carol; .if anyone wanted to follow a conversation between us for more than 5 minutes, they’d need a glossary. I don’t really know how to explain that, but if you have a close friend you probably know what I mean. She listens to me bitch about my problems and I listen to her whine about hers. We tell each other how great we are, and then we have more tea. It’s like therapy, only cheaper.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh Christmas Branch...

...oh Chrismas Branch...nothing aggravates me more than hearing Christmas music before Halloween. Unless it’s seeing all the Christmas stuff out in the store, right next to the Halloween stuff. Ugh!! And I swore, I swore, that I would not play Christmas music in my store until Halloween had passed. But I caved, cause I’m weak. I played it….and ever since have been infected with the Christmas spirit. I had to play it cool and try to hide it, because I’m aware that it gets old if you start too early, but it’s almost Thanksgiving, so I guess I can come out of the closet!

I’m thankful for Christmas, for some intangible reason I can’t explain. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way. I’m not religious, and I don’t have a lot of money to blow on the presents I’d love to buy for everyone. But Christmas makes me happy anyway. Here are some of the things I love about the Christmas season;

The music. I love all of it, religious and secular alike. I especially love “O Holy Night”, and Handel’s “Halleluiah Chorus”. And of course all the traditional ones we all grew up with…back before it was not politically correct to observe Christmas in school.

The decorations, in all their tacky, cheesy, glitzy splendor. huHt!

The Nutcracker. To me it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Nutcracker. I had the LP of the London Symphony version when I was a kid and I would play it all year. I still have it, but it’s in pretty sad shape! I know all the music by heart, never get tired of it, and I have to watch it when it comes on TV. In fact I was in Wal-Mart with Preston a few weeks ago when what should I see on the huge wall-o-TVs but highlights of a new Nutcracker performance coming on PBS next month. I stopped everything and stood hypnotized as Preston waited for an answer to whatever question he had asked me, which I didn’t hear, until the commercial was over. I’ll have to check out to see what THAT’s all about! Which brings me to:

PBS. Besides the Nutcracker, there are loads of other great things that air during the Christmas season! Also:

The Food Network. OMG, I don’t even cook a lot and I am fascinated by Emeril, Paula, Rachel, Martha, Giatta, and especially Alton Brown. I don’t really watch the Food Network during the year, but when Christmas rolls around I always check out whatever holiday shows are on.

Wrapping presents. I love to wrap. The main reason I wish I could afford to buy more presents is so I could wrap them.

The annual V&M Construction Christmas party. Our band has been invited to play at this party for the last 6 years, and were able to make 5 of them….number 7 is coming up next week. What a great bunch of people, and so much fun! They feed us, they dance for us, and then they pay us. Ya want better than that???

My Christmas tree. Last year we didn’t have much of a tree, we were not in a happy place. The year before we had spent Christmas eve and day trying to comfort our poor dog who we had to have put down the day after Christmas. It was horrible, and anyone who thinks that losing a pet is not a big deal is heartless. Anyway, last year we were not in a Christmas-y frame of mind, but this year I want to have a tree again. I miss the piney smell, the lights, and the tacky gold garland.

I’m thankful for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I know it's 2am....

...but I haven't been to sleep yet so it's still Tuesday to me. So today I want to write about how thankful I am for my parents. I inherited so many things from Sparky and Papa that make me what I am...creativity, resourcefulness, sense of humor, an abiding respect for people who work for a living, and lots more I can't think of at 2am. Sometimes it's impossible to tell from which side I get any particular trait. Also I got a streak of sheer bull-headed swamp yankee stubbornness that has served me well at times and at others has been a trial. Thanks a lot for giving me that, you know who you are.

I guess from Papa I get the conviction that there has to be a way to solve any problem, if you just poke at it long enough. He also gave me the pack rat gene, which it has been my lifelong struggle to exorcise. No luck there, yet, but the fact that I am trying ought to count for something.

And of course Sparky endowed me with her sewing ability, for which I am eternally thankful. What in the world would I be doing now if I didn't know how to sew? I really have no idea. What Sparky did NOT pass along to me was her patience. Sparky is probably the most even-tempered, patient person there is. She also has what amounts, in my eyes, to a superpower; the superhuman ability to keep her mouth shut. I can't seem to do that. I have a birth defect; I was born without a filter. Whatever's in my head at any given moment usually comes blurting out of my mouth before I can stop it. I suspect that maybe my siblings got the patience, especially my sister, and there was none left for me. But I'm thankful that Sparky at least always gives me something to aspire to there.

Oh yeah, and my sweet tooth. You're both guilty of passing that little gem on to me, thanks a bunch.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving is almost here...

….and so this week I am going to try to write about the things for which I’m thankful IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. I say “try”, because I keep procrastinating and forgetting to come back here and write. Very busy, no available brain cells. Anyway, so what am I thankful for? There are a lot of things for me, I really am very blessed in life. I’m going to start with my band, since we had practice last night and it’s fresh in my mind.

My band, which is now called Stillpoint. It’s changed many times over the years, but I’m really excited about this current incarnation—more so than I have been at any time since we first formed and were 5th Element. I have to say we were really, really good. But all things must change, for the better or for worse, and although we’ve been pretty good and not-so-good at different times over the years, we have never been quite as good as what we were when we first started. Until now.

The two constants over the last 13 years have been, of course, me and Preston. I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to find a great drummer and as good drummers are hard to find, I married him so that he couldn’t get away. No, seriously, I’m so lucky that we can do this together, not only because he’s good but because I’ve seen the hassle that people tend to have when their non-musician significant other is at home going, “you have to go to practice AGAIN? How long are you going to be? How come you don’t want to stay home with me? Do you HAVE to do this?” It can’t be easy to have to make that choice. I’m thankful I’ve never had to make it.

Which leads us to Kevin, who doesn’t seem to have that problem since his wife works nights and isn’t home anyway. I’m thankful for Kevin…a nice, normal, funny, seriously talented guy with no overinflated ego or drama, plucked from the sea of bozos, posers, and pretentious assholes haunting the local musicians’ classifieds. How lucky was that? He said, “I’m just a rhythm guitarist” but really, he can play leads with the best of ‘em.

And then there’s Joe. I’ve known him as long as I’ve known Preston, and we’ve been playing music with Joe for so long, it’s like we’re related. How hard it is to find someone who can play, has that big voice, and is easy to get along with, you have no idea. Believe me, I’ve tried, because every few years he gets tired of the whole band thing and decides to retire, but then he misses it. Luckily, this time he was missing it just when I needed to fill that position in the band (again). For that, I am also thankful.

So my band the first thing I’m thankful for. There are just so many good things about this band that make me so happy to be playing….Preston’s drums in “Good Times, Bad Times” make me wish the song was longer….when Kevin comes in with the signature riff at the beginning of “Crazy on You” it’s just too cool…Kevin and Joe trading leads at the beginning of “I Just Want to make Love to You”…Joe and I harmonizing on “Moondance”…Preston getting us all going in between songs with Led Zeppelin tunes we don’t play (yet!)…Joe’s solo in “Man in the Box”…Kevin’s solo in “Flirting with Disaster”…the stupid, lame 12-year-old bathroom humor that never fails to crack me up even when I'm going "eeeeewww!"...I could go on and on but you get the idea. Tune in tomorrow, when I’ll be going on and on about something else!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Guess It Depends....

...on your definition of "failure". These hideously deformed things, although sad-looking, will still burn, therefore I did manage to make candles. So that part was a success. However, they don't bear much resemblance to the ones in Martha Stewart Living. They were, however, the cause of much mirth. Sparky said those were faces even a mother couldn't love. She also said, when she could stop laughing, "well, at least it's Thursday"...which went right over my head until she reminded me that Thursday is the day we put our trash out. When I showed them to Preston, though, he said he thought they weren't that bad. And I didn't chuck them right away, which was a bad thing because now, much like a mother with revoltingly ugly children, I can't bear to part with them. They have a certain....I don't know what you'd call it. And they smell pretty good. However, I don't know that I'll devote the time it would take to perfect my sand-candle-casting technique. Was the sand not wet enough? Not packed densely enough? Wax not hot enough? Poured too fast? These are questions poking at the side of my brain, begging to be answered. The mad scientist in me just may take another stab at it.

But not this week. This week, by which I mean today and tomorrow, I have three major projects to complete; a baby quilt, an anime costume, and the setting up of my back room at the store to magically transform it into a gift shop. Busy busy busy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Building Candles In The Sand...., because Martha Stewart assured me that it would be "a good thing" and because I sort of missed the 60's so had never made them before. As you can see, my aim's not great. But I managed to pour them without injuring myself which is always a good thing. And no, I wasn't drunk. Thanks for asking. Smartass.So I don't know how they turned out, haven't dug them up yet. I don't think Sparky had ever heard of sand candles, she did not share my vision. She wondered what makes them pretty, and I admit I was at a loss for an answer because I can picture in my head how I want them to look, and it involves a little more than just digging them up and calling them done. So yeah, I can see where one might question the wisdom of making dusty crusty old candles. We'll see. I really wanted to make green ones, but I had SO much red wax, and it was a trial run anyway. Next time they'll be green.

As it turns out, we won't be having the annual craft show this year. It just wasn't going to shape up, through nobody's fault but my own, so I called it off...much to the chagrin of my fellow crafters, who as it turns out were actually planning to make stuff to sell. So instead we are renting the spare room behind my store, and setting up there in November and December. I don't really know what to expect but I think this, too, will be a good thing. Again I say, we'll see.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Found buried treasure... my CD cabinet. Now that I have my own workshop and nothing but dead airspace for 6 hours a day, I can listen to whatever happens to float my boat at the time. I went digging around in the CD cabinet at home, and found the self-titled Garbage CD. Never listened to it, I don't even remember where it came from. I know I didn't buy it, I think someone gave it to me. So I brought it in and have been listening to little else ever since. Shirley Manson has such a smooth voice, belying the intensity of some of those pissed-off-scorned-girlfriend lyrics! And the band really rocks. And then, when you're used to all that frantic music, the CD ends with the beautiful, haunting "Waiting for You". I have to get more Garbage LOL...I'll always wonder why they named themselves Garbage, because it's really anything but!

Inspired and excited, I went back to the CD cabinet and pulled out my Primus CD, which I've had so long I can only remember the one song I bought it for. Brought that to work and gave it a spin, but no luck there. Though I still think Les Claypool is a demented genius, I can only take Primus in small doses.

Hmmmm.....wonder what else is in that cabinet?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What a week...

...full of ups and downs. The up part had to be our show on Saturday; it went pretty well, considering it was our first time performing as a band. I don't know if that counts, because 3 of us have been performing together for what seems like forever, so just one of us was new. But it still felt new, and of course Joe had the butterflies...silly man. I don't know why he gets so nervous, he's been playing so long he should be able to do it in his sleep. I would think I would be the one with the butterflies, I was so painfully shy when I was young and if you'd told me that I would be not only standing in front of people, but playing and (gasp) singing and NOT having butterflies, I would have thought you'd lost your mind. What a strange universe it is. Preston and Kevin didn't seem to have any butterflies, but it's really hard to tell with them what's going on inside, even though I've been married to Preston for 24 years. All I can say about the day other than we got through it and it was fun, is thank goodness for Kevin, because I kept having technical difficulties and he kept fixing them.

Now for the downs. My car is down. It needed some pretty serious repairs to pass inspection at the end of this month, but the decision as to when to make them was taken out of my hands when I lost my brakes last Friday. At least I was in the yard when it happened. But now it's up on blocks being fixed, and who knows how long that will take.

Also up on blocks being fixed is my Mom, Sparky. She went into the hospital on Monday having trouble breathing, and was admitted and later found to have pneumonia and anemia, and congestive heart failure. Like my car, everything seems to have happened to her at once; also like my car, she needs some pretty serious repairs to pass inspection. Poor Sparky! She can't even get a decent night's sleep because they keep coming in and poking at her and sticking her. But at least they're keeping a close eye on her, and hopefully she'll be fixed soon and back at home where we all miss her, especially the cat who seems to have embarked on a hunger strike and isn't speaking to my Dad.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I just picked the beans yesterday....

....and I swear the little buggers grow 4" overnight because I can go out there today and pick a whole bunch more. Good thing we only planted one row, or we'd be in green beans up to our eyeballs. I gave some to Sparky and froze some, but mostly we've been eating them. The rest of the garden was kind of a disappointment this year, except of course for the cukes...we had more cukes than two people could possibly eat. And everyone around here seems to be in the same boat, because I couldn't give them away...offered some to my neighbor over the back fence, and his response was "Oh GOD no!!"

In other news, our band is playing our first show tomorrow! I'm so excited. We haven't played in over a year. Our fingers are crossed that it doesn't rain, because it's an outdoor show and although WE will be sheltered, there's really no point in playing if there's no audience. So anybody who lives in Southern RI, come on out to Crandall Field in Ashaway for the Hopkinton Colonial Crafts Festival. The band before us is the Parallel String Band, and they are really incredible so come early. I think maybe they start at 11:00, because they play until 1 and then we go on from 2-4. And just so you know, we are NOT a bluegrass band. Check out our song list here; we won't be doing the Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith material, but anything else is fair game.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I don't even have to close my eyes... go to my happy place. This is a spot about 3/4 of a mile from my house, and it's almost like going to another planet. It's completely deserted (because it's completely posted "no trespassing") . The only thing you'll hear are doves, as there are always at least a pair somewhere around. It's just a huge, huge field bordered by woods. Right now the field is filled with Queen Anne's Lace. Usually when I go there it's almost sunset so I brought my camera with me trying to catch a glimpse of how stunning it is, with the sun going down behind the trees. But of course I've failed, because things are never as impressive in my pictures as they are in real life.

As I said, it's posted so I don't go in the field. But outside the field is just as interesting; it's populated by more queen anne's lace, beautiful goldenrod, tansy, juniper, bayberry, and a whole encyclopedia of wildflowers I can't name. And bushes with big fat red berries I also can't name. But I was delighted to discover the bayberries, and as they are next to the road I figure they're fair game. There may be enough there to make a candle, but it's hard to pick berries seriously with the branch in one hand, a bucket in one hand, and a dog leash in the other hand, while trying to avoid being completely wound up and knocked over by the impatient 90-lb dog at the other end of the leash. So I settled for about 1/2 cup of berries, and I took them to the store and put them in my tart warmer. The light bulb under the cup (because my brain can't remember to put out candles, I have to use an electric one) was not hot enough to melt the wax off the berries, but it IS hot enough to make them release their scent. So now my shop smells of spicy bayberry! Sure doesn't take much to make me happy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

It never ceases to amuse me...

...what a diverse parade of people I get to meet in my line of work. Among the customers in my little store I have policemen, firemen, miltary personnel of several branches; I have an art teacher from the 'burbs and a teacher who works with the mentally challenged in the city; I have bikers and soccer moms; I have the self-professed "gardener to the rich and shameless" LOL; Christians and pagans, gay and straight, black and white and everything in between. I have a man who guides hunting trips in Alaska and shoots bears as big as Volkswagens (I've seen the pictures!); A caterer, a stonemason, a well-known local musician, and a man who gave me a fascinating history lesson about where Cajuns come from. I even have the reigning County Fair Queen.

And then there was today.

Today as I was working and pondering (as I have been for several days now) an especially unpleasant situation in my little life, in walked Lady Amazon, resplendent in tie dye, tattoos, and cool jewelry. She said she had driven by the store several times and always meant to stop in, but chose today to do so even though she was dreadfully late for work already. Well within minutes of a conversation you might expect from two people who had never met before, the subject somehow turned to the exact thing that was troubling me. I'll never know why or how, because we were just talking about her tattoo (which is really, really impressive!). It gave me goosebumps (no, not the tattoo) and I couldn't help but think she showed up for a reason. So I proceeded to tell her my stupid little tale of woe, (which ordinarily I never would do to a total stranger) and just as I hoped, she helped me clarify it in my mind.

Anybody who doesn't believe things happen a certain way for a reason, should have been a fly on my wall today. It was the weirdest thing to happen to me in quite some time but I'm so glad she decided to stop in!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mary and Laura Ingalls....

...were never as cute as these little blue-eyed beauties! Their grandmother commissioned me to make them prairie dresses for their hometown's upcoming 175th anniversary parade. It was a hot sticky day (again) when they came for their fitting, but they were just such good sports about trying on their dresses!

I have been just swamped with projects that all have to be done by mid-August! How come everything happens at once? I also have a little sundress and head garland to make, a Victorian vest for Josh the artist ( he's going to paint a self-portrait in Victorian garb...I already made the shirt), three ribbon shirts for the powwow this coming weekend, and another fancy regalia for Bella similar to this one that I just finished:
Only in shades of purple. I have only managed to progress through the design stage, and it's supposed to be completed by Friday. Good luck to ME.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Am I middle-aged yet...

...because it was my birthday yesterday. (you say, “happy birthday” here.) Thank you. I spent it by going to work as usual, then crawling around under Preston’s truck, both of us covered in transmission fluid, until probably 11:00.

When I was in my thirties, I thought birthdays would start to depress me. Not so. As I approached 40, I thought, oh this is going to be the big one. Didn’t happen. 45 now, and still no existential crisis. I know other people who have had major emotional upheaval at those ages, but I haven’t had mine yet. I wonder why that is? The only thing that upset me was the one person who did not call me to wish me a happy birthday. You know who you are. And let me just say, I have never once forgotten YOUR birthday. Ever.

The truth is, I don’t feel 45. I still feel 20. I don’t even know what 45 is supposed to feel like. Carol says there’s no “supposed to”. And maybe she’s right. But she also says you don't get a year older until you eat a piece of birthday cake. And it has to be YOUR birthday cake, with your name on it. So this year I aged two years.

People are usually surprised to hear I have a 24-year-old son, and I know it’s not because I don’t look my age. I think it’s because I don’t act my age, whatever that means. Everybody I meet gets the real me, for better or for worse. I just don’t know any other way to be. I suspect I’ve lost a few customers at work because of that, but I know I’ve also kept some because of it so it’s ok. It all works out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

They say you learn something new every day.....

....and today I learned that I am utterly fascinated by the subject of Steampunk. Or Steam Punk. I don't know which one is correct; each one, when googled, nets the same results.I'm not sure how to define the word (or words), except to give the above example (and if this is your pic, please don't sue me. I sit in awe of your creativity and only wish to share it with the world!) Steam punk seems to be characterized mainly by the presence of many extraneous pieces and parts, and is inspired by late 19th-century fashion and technology. Think Captain Nemo's Nautilus, H.G. Wells' time machine. Apparently this has been going on for a good twenty years, and what I want to know is, where the hell was I?

The thing I find most intriguing at the moment is that Steam Punk involves it's own sort of fashion trends, which appear to resemble some weird sort of Victorian clothes on acid. I can most definitely get into that, especially since lately I have been commissioned to sew some Victorian mens' clothing for a couple of different people, which has renewed my obsession with Folkwear patterns. I used to have a huge stash of them, expensive bloody things that they are, until squirrels plotted against me and turned my precious collection into confetti. Well most of it, anyway. 15 or so survived, and I have the Folkwear website and a credit card, so all is not lost!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Alice in Chains.... not for everyone I guess, but I am really happy with my new CD. You know, you can say all that alternative stuff sounds alike but really, it doesn't. I suppose you could say all rap sounds alike, and all jazz sounds alike, all country sounds alike (Ok all country DOES sound alike. Sorry.) But you have to be willing to really listen to stuff to appreciate the work that went into it. Well most of it anyway. Some stuff is just crap. Really.

In the interest of expanding your musical horizons, I thought I'd post this: These are five CDs I never seem to get tired of listening to. There are more I'm sure, but these come to mind right now. They all appeal to me for different reasons:

Three, “The End Has Begun”

Action Figure Party (self-titled) I believe this is the only CD this band ever made. The band was formed by an assortment of musicians from other bands, some of them quite famous already.

VAST, “Music for People”

Dream Theater, “Falling into Infinity”

Widespread Panic, "Panic in the Streets" (really this is a DVD but Preston put it on CD for me. I love WP but you have to listen to them live to get the full effect. The studio tracks just don't do it for me.)

I don't know if anybody actually reads this blog but if you're reading this, by all means please post some of YOUR favorites so I can check them out!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I don't know what to call this except ironic.... in the mail I got my first invitation from the AARP.

Like I can afford to retire.

It told me all about the benefits available for people over 50. I'll be 45 this month, so I don't know where they're getting their information, first of all. The ironic part was that in the same mail delivery with that were the two CDs I had ordered from Amazon--this one:And this one:So unless they want to give me a discount on tickets to go see Disturbed, I don't think I'm ready for the AARP.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fred passed away this week, at the age of 84. He’d had lung cancer, so it wasn’t a big surprise, but still…

Of course I hadn’t known Fred all his life, or even for all of mine. I probably met him about 15 years ago. He was a decorated war veteran. I never knew that about him. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I don’t have a single memory of Fred in which he doesn’t have a smile on his face. He was one of those people who always seemed happy to see you, whether you were a close family member or nodding acquaintance. I was fortunate to have met Fred, and I’ll miss him.

I went to Fred’s wake. I went with some trepidation, because the wake was in his house. I know this is the way people used to do it, but having never been to one before I was a little unsure of the procedure. I needn’t have worried. What I found was a house packed-and I mean packed-with friends and family. Everywhere, inside, in the back, spilling out into the driveway, were knots of people talking, catching up, children running between, and there was Fred in the front room, laid out very thoughtfully without a coffin, surrounded by it all. I expected to be a little creeped out, I’ll be honest. But I wasn’t. It was the most respectful, natural thing that could have been done. As I had showed up toward the end of the wake, I was there for the ceremony; prayers were said and the eulogy given by Fred’s nieces, songs were sung to honor him (Fred was a member of the Pequot tribe), and another prayer eloquently given by his young grandnephew (I believe Sherente is 9, I can’t quite remember) and the feeling that death is a natural part of life was prevalent—and comforting, more so than any wake I’ve ever been to in a funeral home.

I came away from the wake with a certainty that what I’ve always believed was right all along; please, friends and family, do this for me. Don’t gather in a stuffy, formal funeral home. Get together in familiar surroundings, enjoy each other’s company, laugh and talk and don’t be quiet and solemn. Have a party. For real. Be thankful for the gift of each other and for me while I was here.

Goodbye Fred. And thank you.

After Months of Plotting....

...and scheming, my evil plan to steal goldfinches away from my neighbor is working. Ha ha Sparky!! You must SHARE your finches!!! I got a thistle feeder for Christmas from Preston, and have been trying unsuccessfully to lure them over from her house, where she entertains a vast variety of finches, woodpeckers, sparrows, towhees, hummingbirds, chipmunks, and God knows what else. It's like the office water cooler over there. I don't usually feed the birds during the summer, but it became my mission in life to get the little buggers to leave their posh resort and come across the yard, where I offer something they can't get over there; thistle seed. That's right, my neighbor told me, "Oh you don't need thistle seed to get finches to come" and it's true, word has spread far and wide that behind her house is the place to be, and now they'll all eat anything she puts out there. She's like the bird whisperer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So much beauty.... take in all at once. Tonight while I'm taking out the trash at twilight, I catch a glimpse of the moon through the tall pines next door, glowing orange. Intrigued, I walk over to the garden and sit on the bench, just taking in the approaching night; in the waning daylight, even the neighbor's barn, with its missing shingles and random assortment of weeds and wheelbarrows, is beautiful. The air is still and cool, only a few browsing mosquitoes find me. I listen as the birds sing their end-of-the-day songs, suddenly all silent at once as if on cue. Their efforts give way to the endless drone of crickets, which nearly drowns out the endless drone of the traffic on the highway; tonight I hear it, but sometimes when the wind drifts the other way the nights are as silent as the grave. My bench overlooks the cow pasture, overgrown with grass and providing a perfect backdrop for the lightning bugs' display. A single calf wanders silently out of the barn, looking for the remains of dinner in his bowl. The moon has risen some since I've been sitting here, now full and bright, now nearly hidden by small clouds. I wonder if it's full, but I can't really tell behind the trees. I wish I could take a picture of it, silhouetting the pines in the last fading light; but I've tried that before, with unsatisfactory results. So I sit and appreciate the gift of this evening for long moments until it becomes apparent that the word has spread among the mosquitoes that dinner is served, and so I go back inside.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood....

....and I took the opportunity to wash my car. I feel like I'm hardly ever home, and today I was and I saw that it was good. So I finally washed the car, which was getting embarrassing even for ME. I'm not a car person, my feeling about the car is that it gets me from A to B. If it does that, I'm happy and if it's dirty I just don't really care. Most of the time it looks like I'm moving, car all full of junk being transported from A to B. Drives Preston crazy.

Also today I watered the flowers, poor things were looking droopy already. I'm also not a flower person; I have no master plan for laying out the little garden, not even a color scheme. I go flower shopping, and whatever strikes me at the time is what I buy. And it shows, my garden is pathetic until everything gets big and healthy...right now it's still in the early stages, so I won't show you. But here are some things I had to have:I don't know what they're called, I told you I'm not a flower person but I love daisies, and I'd never in my life seen daisies with purple centers...I saw purple and got excited, so I had to have them. Also these petuniathings:
They're yellow now, but I swear when I bought them they were kind of mango-colored, peachy but a little more orange than peach. Petunias are not my favorite, but these were so little and pretty and they looked like they belonged in a hanging pot. I don't have a place to hang them, but I could just picture them in a pot on the stump next to the flower garden.

And of course I have my three window boxes at the store, which get more attention than any other flowers anywhere. I water them and pick the dead things off of them when I go in, and then on most afternoons the Plant Police (aka Marilyn) show up to fuss over them and scold me for not taking proper care. She always finds a dead thing I missed. She doesn't know I leave one for her to find, so she'll have something about which to scold me. It seems to make her happy; I guess we all need a purpose in life.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's Been Brought to My Attention...

...that I don't post enough. Sorry my friends! It's been 6 weeks since my last post, and here are my sins. Ahhh....number one, I forget to post. That's pretty much it.

Life has fallen into something of a routine; the store, the ball field, make dinner, eat, fall asleep. The days I'm not at the store I get up late, make a valiant attempt to do some housework, maybe have band practice, managed to get the garden planted (well Preston did most of that, he's home a lot more than I am), and do whatever errands need to be done. Wish I didn't have to sleep, I could get so much more accomplished!

We like to watch TV at my house, but since most everything we watch is now on hiatus, we have been watching things like "Deadliest Catch" or what I like to call "The Crab Show", which proves once and for all that people will watch anything. For the life of me I can't understand what is so interesting about watching a bunch of men in rain gear haul cage after cage of big ugly crusty crabs out of the freezing ocean, but it is. If nothing else, it has given me an appreciation for why crabmeat is so expensive. Now if there was a show that could justify to me why GAS is so expensive, maybe I wouldn't feel like crying every time I pull up to the pump.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Boys of Summer....

...were out in full force this Saturday past, as we officially began another Little League season. Jim Driscoll, the League president, refers to us (and himself) as "sick and demented baseball lifers", as we don't have kids in the League anymore yet year after year we come back to do the baseball thing. Why we continue to do this to ourselves is anybody's guess.
This is my boy Preston (yeah, ok, he's not a boy anymore) honoring us, along with his bandmate Devin, with the National Anthem. I wish I had it on video because at the risk of bragging about my kid (again) I have to say it was one of the best versions I have ever heard. They had worked out the harmony and after singing together for over a year they really do harmonize well. I hope we can get them back for the playoffs! Note the scruffy beard and hair, and allow me to brag once more (cause it's MY blog, and I can brag if I want to); later that day Preston performed at the Courthouse Center for the Arts in the final night of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in which he portrayed Charlie Cheswick, chronic pervert (pervert and mental patient, if you haven't seen the movie, hence the scruffiness). It was a great performance by all, and the cast included some well-seasoned actors. He was thrilled to join this new company, and plans to audition for "The Full Monty" next. So basically he's going from performing in front of an audience with one hand in his pants, to performing in front of an audience with NO pants. Yeah, that's my boy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Random thoughts of the week....

...are not pleasant. I don't like to post negative stuff, but it's a blog, right? It's what's on my mind. And what's on my mind is that this week I discovered that one of my friends is a bigot. It's one of those things that falls under the "be careful what you wish for" category, because I've always felt that political correctness is not a good thing. If people say just how they feel instead of what they think you want to hear, then you know who the assholes are. Which is good in theory until you find out that they're your friends. The fact that (although I don't look like it and she doesn't know it) I'm actually part of the ethnic group she expressed a dislike for wasn't even the reason for my indignation; I just wasn't raised that way. It is just unfathomable to me how you can dismiss an entire race with one comment. And it was said with particular venom, not in any kind of a joking way which while not funny, might have led me to believe that her dislike may not apply to ALL of them.

I don't know how I feel about her now. Actually that's a lie; I do, I feel kind of creepy and don't want to be around her. That's really sad, but there it is.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In The Doghouse... where Preston has been. Now if only he can get Myah to go in there! She insists on being outside a lot, especially if we're not home, even if it's raining. So Preston made her a house but so far the only time she goes in there is to keep the neighbors' dog from going in.

So my store has been open for three weeks now, and it remains to be seen what "business as usual" means. Of course I'm still in the process of finding out what works and what doesn't. The first thing that didn't work was the coffee pot. I mean, it works--as in, you turn it on and coffee comes out--but what I didn't take into account was that my customers don't come in to hang around and drink coffee, they don't stay long enough. Which is fine, except what that means is that I make coffee and then I drink it all myself. How much coffee can one woman drink? Not that much, as it turns out. So the coffee pot was sacrificed in favor of a bigger set of shelves for my gift-y stuff. And now I have some craft supplies in there as well. I have to be careful not to try to cram too much in there or it will look like a junk shop and that is what I DON'T want.

But so far, so good. I have met quite a few new people already, and everyone has been so positive about my being there! Kelly Pezza from the Chariho Times came and interviewed me this past Saturday and took some pictures, so there will be something about me in this Thursday's paper which should give me a boost. With no budget for advertising, I need all the free publicity I can get!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mortal Furniture Sins....

...are what I committed this week. According to Preston. I dug out two more yard sale finds I had been saving, and one is a bentwood chair that turned out to be almost a hundred years old. I painted it, and I thought Preston was going to stroke out. But to be fair, the thing was not in the greatest condition, and it was not extremely valuable. I checked, of course. And now, complete with a purple velvet seat, it fits with the rest of the store, which is taking on a look I can't quite pigeonhole...without seeing it all put together, it has a certain 20's vibe...purple velvet cornices, flat black details, some gloss lacquer-looking black...but by the time it's all put together in the next couple of days it will probably morph into something else entirely. I'll just have to wait and see. I started out with the intention of not making the place too girl-y, because I do have a lot of male customers. But, it is what it is.

The other yard sale find was only a minor sin I guess, it was a little plant stand not quite so old as the chair, but I needed to use it for my telephone so of course I had to paint it...gloss black, to match the chair. I only painted it because it was kind of beat up, even though it's going to be stuffed in the corner, because it might not be stuffed in the corner it's whole life. Plus I love to paint. Mind you, I'm not good at it, in fact I really suck at it. There's just no other word for it. If you look in the dictionary under "suck" there's a picture of me with a paintbrush in my hand. As I told Preston, why do you think I decorate everything?? I'm pretty good at that, it's just the painting of large expanses of one color that I can't seem to master. So please don't look too closely at the walls in the store.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day 3, In Which We Have Second Thoughts About Our Color Choice...

...ok, not WE, just ME. It's just that I didn't think it would be so....bright! Or pink. I'm not a fan of pink. It's supposed to be lavender but in reality it's kind of orchid. I'm sure it will be fine once I get the window things up and all my stuff in there to break up all that wall space.
This was one of my yard sale treasures from a few years back; the woman who sold it to me said her grandfather made it, and it was my intention to sand it off and stain it, and paint some sort of branch-and-berry design on the sides. But it went into the basement, and subsequently got many things stored on it and has been there ever since. You know what they say about good intentions. Anyway, I need it for my shop so I have resurrected it from its mildew-covered anonymity, and painted it a deep and disturbing shade of purple. It seemed like a good idea when I was at Home Depot looking at paint, and it's just a much darker shade of what's on the walls. Perhaps it indicates that I'm deeply disturbed. Let's not delve into THAT too far.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Day 2, in which we begin to paint....

...ok, not paint, primer. But it looks a whole lot brighter in there now. This is what it looked like before we started; old nasty paneling which was badly installed and bowing out from the walls in places, and the previous tenant had put up stuff all over the walls using tape, which of course took a layer of skin off the paneling. Day 1 was spent in washing the walls and fixing what could be fixed with regard to the paneling. Being married to a carpenter for this long has given me an appreciation for a job well done; and the first thing you need to do when putting up paneling is to pay attention to where the studs are, so that you have something to nail the paneling to. If you don't do that, bad things will happen down the road. Bad things have happened in my store, and all of them can't be fixed but Preston did the best he could and sincerely hopes that I will have many things hanging on the walls. I don't think that'll be a problem.

This is the front wall: on the right side of the windows there is about a foot of space, then the side wall. It's very small, only 9' x 17', but it's room enough. The two desks were left there by the previous tenant; my landlady offered to get rid of them, but I said I would use them. After trying to move them, I can imagine how relieved she must have been when I said that; each one weighs as much as a volkswagen. I won't be rearranging my furniture very often.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Things That Inspire....

...did not work out as I'd hoped. Above are the velvet and organza that I'm using for the window treatments in my store (I still can't believe that. MY STORE!! Wonder if I'll ever get tired of how that sounds?), so I wanted to find a paint color that complements them (if you can't tell, the velvet is a deep royal violet). Also, I love those seaglass colors, and thought at some point during the summer I might want to change the window treatments (and they're not curtains, so I'm using that term for lack of a more descriptive one) to use those colors so I wanted to get a wall color that kind of went with both. As it turns out, that's not possible so I went with a light lavender, since those are the colors I use for all my printed stuff, and the colors I'm using for my signs. So I can't get my way all the time. This is an entirely new concept for me, and one I don't think I like. Can't quite get my mind to acccept it.

The town of Richmond approved my proposal for the sign on my building, so I'm good to go with that...just have to get the materials. So really, most of the time I do get my way.

The other thing that's going on with me is I'm trying to lose weight, though I don't really want to. Try, that is, not lose. I'd like to lose without trying, but there again, can't get my way. What's up with that??

My attempted weight loss, I have to tell you, is not prompted by vanity, or even health (though it probably should be). It was prompted by simple economics; my fat clothes are getting too tight, and I can't afford to go buy a new wardrobe. So far I have lost two pounds. Not a lot, but it was done with very little effort on my part which is the way I like it. But during week three, Preston decided we needed me to bake an apple pie. I must say I bake the best apple pie I've ever had. There'll be no false modesty with regard to my apple pie, and those of you who know me know I'm not in the habit of boasting; I really do make fantastic apple pie. So of course I made us one. So last week I didn't lose any more weight BUT I didn't gain any either, so I think I was lucky.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Taking the Plunge....

...For better or for worse! That's right, after years and years of thinking about it, I am opening my own shop! When I was sewing for Suburban Cleaners, I didn't get names and numbers of customers, just log-in numbers. So when I got three days notice that they were closing, there was no time to get the word out to people that I was still sewing! I have tried for a year now to just do it out of my house, but I really think people are put off by the prospect of having to come to somebody's house. A lot of them don't even want to call me at home, even though that's the number I give out! So I need a storefront. Above is my sign, for which I've reworked Georgia's design to suit.

I'm going through the process of applying, and submitting, and registering, with the Town of Richmond. So far so good, and if everything goes well (God willing and the creek don't rise, as my Dad says), I will be open for business by March 1. In addition to the tailoring, I will be selling my handmade stuff in there. There is only a small space, so I can't take in other peoples' things yet, but there is the possibility of expansion if it works out.

In other family news, PJ will be flying out to L.A. for a month this summer to film some sort of project he auditioned for a couple weeks ago. He's so excited! He's worked with this director before, so he's pretty stoked about the new project.

Other than that, I'm just getting mentally prepared for the upcoming powwow season. I have lots of new designs in mind, and I'm sure I'll get input. It used to be that I'd have several things to do one year, then nothing the next year, but as the years have gone by it's pretty much evened out to where I can usually expect plenty of orders. Which is just fantastic, regalia is my favorite thing to sew. So bright and colorful!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Go Pats!

Wow, I've been away for a while! It's been a month since I posted, time does get away from me. It's all over but the Super Bowl! Every year when football season is over, I have to many months till September?? I have been a loyal Pats fan for over 20 years now, ever since I met Preston who explained to me how football works. I remember when we were dating, sitting in his mother's basement, glued to the TV and watching Franco Harris work his magic (yeah I know, not the Pats). I did not grow up in a sports-oriented household, so I had no idea. To this day there are still aspects of it that I don't get, but he's still willing to explain them to me (in some cases, more than once cause I have CRS). Two things I just don't get and think are completely retarded; the push-out, and offensive pass interference. If I was in charge of the NFL, these things would be wiped from the rule book. But that's just me.

Anyway, things here are pretty much as they always are. I have been trying to get rid of a lot of my junk on Ebay, and having pretty good luck. Can't imagine why or how I manage to accumulate so much, then I look in my Dad's garage and I have a pretty good idea. The nut doesn't fall very far from the tree. But at least I'm getting rid of mine.

I'm also working on selling my handmade things on my website at . I got a shopping cart in place there for PayPal, and now all I have to do is get some pictures on there. I have a few things, along with my friend Marilyn's jewelry, but I'm a horrible photographer so it's a slow process. But it's a work in progress.

Pretty soon I'll have to go back to Deb's house and continue work on the tree hallway. I finished up the tree just before Thanksgiving, and had all good intentions of going back and stenciling the ferns along the baseboard, but I haven't been back. Too many other projects, the most of which was getting rid of stuff I'll never use.

We've been playing some music, with Max from Narragansett. It's turning out to be some sort of jam-blues-hippie-sort of thing, totally unlike any project we've ever been involved in. At first I had serious doubts about it, but we decided we had nothing better going on at the time so we kept it going and now it's actually starting to sound like something. And Max seems like a good guy, without ego problems or any visible substance problems (I don't care what people do on their own time, but when you can't get through a practice without...ah..."supplements", it doesn't give me much hope for the long run).

Spent two days as a surgical assistant fixing Preston's truck this week. One day in the bitter cold, and one day in the miserable rain and cold. Ugh. Murphy's Law of Auto Repair states that things only need to be fixed in the dead of winter or in the hottest part of summer. And of course, nothing goes like it says it's supposed to in the Chilton book. "Loosen flange bolts and remove drive axle" is just a euphemism for "Loosen flange bolts ( if you can find those metric sockets), except you can't loosen them because you can't SEE them because they're behind that other thingie that the book neglects to mention (and what is that thingie, anyway, and why the hell do they design cars this way) so the other thingie has to be removed first, now loosen axle nut, two broken tools and a broken back later, and watch that ABS brake line because-oh yeah, remove the bolt that holds the brake line in, and don't for God's sake drop that washer on the ground because you'll never find it in the dark and the mud, and untangle the dog from the light cord, and go get the socket wrench back because she stole it (again), and now that you've removed the drive axle you can plainly see that you still can't get the ball joint out because you have to take the drive axle apart, not just take it out, and that's going to be hard to do because I can't feel my fingers....and on and on it goes. A job that in theory should take two hours, takes two days.

So that's life in the Valley so far this year!