Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Awed About Sums it Up

Our Kentucky trip was amazing. Let me just sketch it out and I'll come back later to write the real stories. Wednesday night: arrive at Shelia's house awed by the expanse of green, indoor lap pool, painted murals and super-sized basement play paradise. Thursday: drive through Southern Illinois to Paducah awed by blooming red bud and dogwood trees as well as tulips and my favorite, daffodils; relax on Donna Maria's porches, sip wine and share stories; venture to a tribute dinner at Cynthia's and feel totally celebrated. Friday: wander the quilt show in the morning awed by how quilters transform stitches and fabric into intricate designs; enjoy a catered lunch from Artisan Kitchen at Etc Coffee House while being wowed by Gretchen Smith's story and art demonstration; take a walking tour of Lowertown galleries and meet some really cool artists, among them Bill Renzulli who gave us a fabulous clay monotyping demo and answered all of my burning questions. Wrap that with a light pinor noir (Writer's Block), shared memories , funny stories, porch sitting to the sounds of children playing and birds flitting and you'll have a taste of what we experienced in Paducah. Definitely pink stone days.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making Memories

This week Mom and I are taking a trip to the quilt show in Paducah, KY. We are going with Maura and Mrs. Sullivan and will visit Shelia and Kathleen while we're there. Maura is the one holding the skunk, bottom right on the page from my childhood scrapbook. The Sullivans were our neighbors on Darcey Drive: Brian, Michael, Maura, Kathleen and Sheila. Kathleen is my age and we ran fast and tight as kids. What times we had! I found this page from the scrapbook I made before we moved away--now I'm wishing I'd raided by Dad's slide collection for precious Indian Princess photos. Maybe next time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We Have Chickens

We have a new flock and indeed have just set up our new chicken condo. It was supposed to be a chicken tractor. For those of you that have never heard of such a thing, a chicken tractor is actually a portable chicken pen-- part coop, part run and movable. You're supposed to be able to move a chicken tractor around the yard so that the chickens eat the bugs in the garden/lawn and leave precious "nutrients" behind. Here's our new chicken tractor:

How much do you think eight 2 x 4s weigh? Apparently they weigh more than I can lift, drag, or move without motorized assistance. I guess that's where the tractor part would come in. Rick, Collin and I built the tractor in an afternoon. We'd pre-painted most of the wood and had the plan down, so it was just a matter of sawing, nailing, screwing and stapling. We finished all but one panel of wiring when we decided to move it. Man is it heavy! Our tractor (really just a riding lawn mower) won't start--the battery needs charging and that fix is a day away at least, so we had to move it more creatively. Rick lifted one end and we put it on our garden card (heavy duty utility cart). He took the non-carted end and I took the cart end and we managed to get it to the bed by the driveway. After some repositioning -- Rick lifted and rotated the thing, to my amazement he's still able to stand straight--we got it settled.

The chickens are in and we think quite taken with their new home. They still haven't quite figured out the whole ramp to safety thing, but they've been inside the nesting box and come out, so we're thinking they'll catch on soon. So what do we have this time? Spice chickens again, well almost. We have: Saffron, Honey, Cinammon, Nutmeg, Yoda and Sugar (or Old Salty if she turns rooster on us). Yes, Yoda (a.k.a. Yomogi, Japanese Mugwort) because Collin said "she" could have a Star Wars name and a spice name.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Soccer Mom

It's soccer season. Yesterday was Collin's 2nd game this season. During his first game (first for us since we were out of town for the official first game) he scored 2 goals and had 1 assist. He didn't have his uniform shirt yet, but that didn't matter too much. Rick took him to the first game and when they came home from, Rick said that parents on the other team were grumbling, "who's that kid in the red shirt--he's not 6." Well, now I know how those parents felt.

Yesterday the final score was 1-0 . Collin's team lost. They didn't win but they sure played a great game against a team filled with ringers! There were at least 3 big kids. One of the side-lined parents joked about checking IDs because they sure looked older than even Collin. You know what it reminds me of? Reading research. Yep, Dick Allington saying that 100 years of eductional research has proven one thing about children: "kids are different." They are, even on the soccer field, their difference are noticable.

How grateful am I that we didn't move Collin up an age slot? It's good to be one of the big kids!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Practicing what I'd like to paint on that background. I actually painted this lady on a watercolor postcard. Then scanned it, deleted the background and "pasted" it onto my scanned canvas image. Just thought I'd play around with placement, size and whatnot before I actually paint on that new background.

New Backgrounds

I was inspired by some new to me artists' blogs that I came across yesterday, Paulette Insall especially. So I decided to try layering a background with paint, stamps and a few bits of text scraps. Though I'm not finished yet, I wanted to scan it up...for a first try I thought, not bad. Now I'm playing with faces or ladies to put as the focal in the middle. I'm thinking of one, with maybe a bird flying from her hair. We'll see. This art play sure is fun though!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Coffee Beans and Clubhouses

Ever roasted your own coffee beans? I am now the owner of an iRoast. Who knew I'd be a coffee roaster? Rick gave me the roaster for my birthday along with a huge bag of half-caf, green beans from Coffee Direct. The process reminds me of popping popcorn in an air popper while running the vaccum cleaner. Remember air popper's whir and whoosh? The clank and click of the kernals against the popper? Similar sounds to the iRoast, but the iRoast is louder. We roasted our first batch yesterday. I was a bit concerned as I read the directions. This thing comes with an attachment that you can fit a dryer hose on so that you can vent it to the outside. Seriously? How much smoke could coffee roasting put off? We just used it on top of the stove and ran the exhaust fan. None of the smoke alarms went off so I imagine we don't need to cut a hole in the wall in order to create a vent. After the beans roast, you clean away the chaff. Who knew coffee beans had chaff? Then you let the beans rest for a day before using them. I ground them up this morning--they look a bit moister than what we buy in the store. It tastes pretty good this morning, just like coffee.

On a another note, yesterday was clean-up day. We got in from NH late the night before, so we needed to unpack, start laundry and get things organized. It's spring break here and we decided to work around the house instead of traveling or camping this year. Our big project? Crown molding. Originally Rick and I thought we'd be able to trim out three rooms this week. Yeah, then we talked to my brother who spent a year remodeling his bedroom. John sold us on a special jigsaw thing, so we're in a holding pattern waiting for it to arrive. While we wait, we're also taking John's other advice: practice. Our first room? The laundry room. We, of course, is a euphemism as I'm not allowed to use power tools much. I hold boards, read the trim book directions, and make happy noises for Rick who's doing most of the molding work. While he worked at putting up tack strips yesterday, I organized my studio office. I took everything off of the shelves, dusted and then reorganized where things go. It looks nice now and the collections of books and junk make sense: professional books, poetry, home-improvement, Plugged-in, art space, etc. While Rick and I were thus engaged, Collin made a fort in his room.

He started a fort, but needed help getting the roof to stay on. I might not be engineer savvy, but I can build some forts now! We arranged his furniture a bit to maximize the roof holding power of the furniture. The roof/sheet drapes from bed to bookcase and he's got quite a cozy area underneath. Collin played in there much of the morning and into the afternoon. Got me thinking about the book Children's Special Places by David Sobel which talks about the importance of dens, forts and such to children. Sobel says:
Children know the importance of hiding out, of finding the "just for me" place where they cannot be seen. Peeking through a hollowed-out hedgerow or climbing a tree is the initial discovery of a "self-ish" space, a site detached from the ongoing intimate relation with parents, siblings, teachers or peers.
Interesting book. We did find ourselves in those secret hideaways didn't we?