Wednesday, August 29, 2007
One bit of news, well actually two bits, my Mollie Be Muse art doll (see post/pic Aug 16) was chosen as winner of the Mojoart yahoo group challenge this month and is now gracing the homepage until the next challenge winner is chosen. Don't know yet what the next challenge is, but it will be fun. This one was a lot of fun. There were three other art dolls entered, among other great things, all made from recycled stuff, all adorable and unique. Mollie needed friends and she got some good ones. :)
I also got some very positive encouraging feedback from an assistant editor on a fictional short story that I submitted to the print magazine last March. I got an email reply this week making a suggestion for a revision in a couple of places to make the story better, which I am working on. She didn't say they were still considering the story, but she didn't say they had rejected it either. Kind of confusing, but we'll see what happens...
I did finish a book this week. I had started reading "Tara Road" by Maeve Binchey a few weeks ago, and though it was very hard to put down, I got sidetracked and didn't pick it up again until this week. It has all the elements of a good read and I found it well written, making me feel all sorts of emotions. The characters were all characters I really cared about and felt for and with. There is everything short of murder, and that came close, in this book. Love, anger, betrayal, adultery, addiction, abuse, friendship, loyalty, wasted years, success, failure, loss, suspense, blackmail, mystery, sadness, happiness are all there. All kinds of twists and turns building to a suspenseful climax and a satisfactory ending, although not the ending I expected.
I would recommend it if you haven't read it. It's not an edge of your seat thriller, but it's about the lives of ordinary people, how tangled up lives can get while they're trying to be lived, the strength that people find to face things they never thought they could, and peoples' need for each other. Very entertaining and at times thought provoking. At least to me. :)
Monday, August 20, 2007
I didn't know when I told J (hubby) Friday morning that the storm door to the kitchen was sticking and wouldn't close without pushing it to hard. This is where everybody goes in and out of the house, so the door was getting left almost closed a lot. This was the second time I'd mentioned it in as many days. J accused me of griping about the door. I wasn't. I just mentioned it, sort of thinking out loud. I told him to forget it, that I could use a screwdriver. I had tightened it up before and fixed it.
I was already in the dog house, so I went to take a nap after lunch.
I heard him beating and banging, but I thought he was fixing the door. Little did I know, until I woke up, that he had taken the old door down, cut off the new storm door, which we had bought three years ago, and discovered that the handle was on the wrong side to open. Since we couldn't use it on the kitchen, he had put it up on the outside door going to my studio, only to discover that it couldn't open all the way back without hitting the gutter on the very small back porch roof. It won't work without having to redo the porch top.
It was extremely hot outside, and inside too, because he had let all the cool air out. To say he was upset was an understatement. Of course, this was all my fault.
Anyway, we got up Saturday morning and nothing would do but to go to Florence, AL to Loew's to get another storm door. It's an hour and a half away without side trips, and it was noon before we got started. We got four miles up the road and J discovered that he'd left his wallet at home. We had to go back and get it. Then he had to make a side trip to pick up some medicine.
Now the mini-mini vacation starts. We stopped on the way to Florence at a Sonic and got ice cream, which was very tasty I must say. We were lapping those ice cream cones and laughing like two little kids riding down the road.
Our first stop in Florence was Hobby Lobby, an art and craft supply store. It was really hot outside and not much cooler inside. I have anxiety attacks when I get in a store, or anyplace, with lots of people milling around. They were having a sale and there were lots of people. It was a Saturday after all.
I was doing okay for a while, then I got so hot I was about to be sick so I went to the front. I didn't see J anywhere and had them page him. He was happily shopping for beads to make jewelrybefore the page scared him half to death. We paid and left. I had to get to a seat and an AC.
I did purchase a new sketch book that lays flat, gel medium, spray sealer, a few packages of small feathers and gorgeous beads, a gorgeous face stamp, two sets of alphabet antique typewriter stamps (upper and lower case), a new varigated stamp pad, and I finally found some copper glitter. Oh, and I got 5 small sheets of decorative art papers. J got several packages of beads (we have different tastes) and necklace makings.
We then went to Loew's and I sat in the car with the AC while J went in and got the storm door. Our other storm doors are silver. They didn't have any silver, so he got brown....and a wireless door bell.
He got it on top of the SUV luggage rack. I got out to help tie it. The heat coming off the pavement was stifling. He was worried about the rope holding it good enough to keep it from flying off on the way home. I suggested we try it on the inside by letting the back set lay flat and laying it over the passenger seat, which wouldn't fold forward. It was rubbing the ceiling and he was afraid it would rub a hole in it, so he took it back out and got it back onto the top of the SUV.
We got one end tied. He didn't have enough rope and was going to have to go back in and buy more. We were both boiling hot and cars were constantly pulling in and out on both sides of the vehicle, nearly taking our backsides off. I wouldn't have minded losing part of mine, but J doesn't have any to spare. :) I happened to think of taking the head rest off the front seat and scooting the seat all the way forward and trying it inside again. So we finally got it untied and off the luggage rack...again. We have a mid-sized SUV and if the door had been any longer it wouldn't have fit, but it did work. I crawled into the back seat behind J. We were both drenched in sweat, but we went to the Cracker Barrel and ate, cooled off, and relaxed a while.
The next stop was Krispy Kreme Donuts for a dozen plain donuts and two creme filled ones, then on to Books-A-Million, which we both love. It, too, was hot and crowded and having a sale. We didn't stay long. J didn't find anything he wanted. I, however, bought the Cloth,Paper, Scissors and The Writer's magazines and four books on sale. I found a cat mystery book, The Cat Who Dropped A Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun, on a table of hardbacks for $3. The others were paperbacks on a table where you buy two and get one free. I got Blood Orange by Drusilla Campbell, Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott, and Having A Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver. I've never read any of these authors, but the descriptions sounded like they would be good. Will let you know when I've read them, but first I have to finish Tara Road by Maeve Binchey, which is a very good book. I just got sidetracked off it for a couple of weeks.
I had meant to go to Best Buy and get the Photoshop software, but we were hot, tired, and I had already spent too much, so we headed home. I felt like I was being chauffeured by J as I rode behind him. We got into the donuts on the way home. No wonder I've gained weight during the past few weeks, which I certainly don't need.
We got home around eight p.m., tired, but happy. It was a good evening, we had some laughs, went to two of our favorite stores, ate out (that was the vacation part :)), and I treated the artist, the writer, and the reader in me. My spirits were lifted immensely.
Later just as I was about to doze off to sleep, my eyes flew open and I said, "You know what? The front seat wouldn't fold flat forward, but it would have lain almost flat backward. The storm door could have lain almost flat instead of being propped up on the seat back."
J said, "Yeah, we could have." We're smart that way. One more thing to laugh about. :) Oh well, we learn something new every day if we pay attention. Saturday we learned how to haul a door inside the SUV, the hard way, in case we ever need to again.
It was good to get away for a while, even on a mini-mini vacation. We've already been playing with our new "toys". Love em! And the new storm door is up and working, so it's all good. :)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I wish her hair showed up better. The feathers are gorgeous shades of reddish-brown, black, and brown shades mingled together. The little alphabet beads on her boots spell BE, as in "Just Be."
I don't know if I should call her an art doll or not, but I am. :) She refused to wear a lot of ribbons and flowers and she squirmed so much that I could barely dress her. Impatient she was, but she was sure fun to create, and with her legs and arms crossed she looks like she's got attitude.
She might be saying, "Ok, I'm here now, so create something!" :)
Monday, August 13, 2007
I'm not sure why it's called Rabbit Hop, except for the sheer number of rabbits that used to abound here. Even when I was growing up if you turned in to the drive after dark and the headlights hit, rabbits popped up like popping corn from everywhere and ran. Very prolific they are. :)
Rabbit Hop is a small community of houses in a rural area about four miles from the nearest really small town (one business street and no traffic lights). My maternal grandpa's dad bought a small farm with a house sitting back off the main road and moved in when my grandpa was about three years old, which was about 1899. The community was pretty thick with families at the time. There was a one room schoolhouse, Rabbit Hop School, near the main road, which Papa and his siblings attended. I'm not sure what else was here in the early 1900's (I need to do some research).
By the time I was born, Papa had married and raised six children in two sets (three,wait a few years, then three more). He, my grandma and the youngest two children were living in a house on the riverbank in town, and they ran a shoe shop in town, where they repaired shoes for a living. My mom, next to the youngest, married my dad, next to the youngest of eleven, when she was sixteen.
They lived with my dad's widowed mom, but I was born in Papa's house on the riverbank when mom was seventeen. We lived on the outskirts of town until I was two. Papa now owned the country farm, so he gave my parents enough land by the main road for a house and a garden spot in the Rabbit Hop community.
Papa and Granny moved back to the house on the farm for a few years when I was small. It was just over a little hill from our house, a short walk. They ran their shoe shop from a small building by the road, which my dad had built for a work shop. I grew up very close to all my grandparents, and I have made countless trips over that little hill to that home place in my lifetime. I have always loved it out there. So quiet and peaceful. Still.
The community was thick with houses, families, and neighbors who were the same as family. I was an only child, but I always had other children to play with and grow up with. There was a country grocery store across the road from us. They also sold gas. There was another one within walking distance down the road. There was also a button factory just under the hill on the way to the river, which we can't see, but it's only about a fifteen minute walk. There has always been a boat landing there and at different times beer joints. The man who ran the grocery was also a commercial fisherman and owned the button factory. Oh yes, there was also a rock crusher on the bluff above the river.
I went to school in town with all the other kids here in the fifties and sixties. We rode the school bus together every day. A few families came and went, but most were still here in the seventies when I married and my husband and I bought an acre adjoining my parent's garden spot from Papa near the road, where we built the home we still live in.
Daddy had already bought several acres adjoining their house place and eventually Papa sold him the farm, so I am the fourth generation to live on it.
The community is no longer a thriving one. The grocery across the road, the button factory, shoe shop, and beer joints have long been gone. A nice rock-sided home replaced the Rabbit Hop School many moons ago. Some of the homes burned and the families moved away. Many of the people have now died or moved on.
My dad made a wooden sign with two large rabbits a few years ago that said Rabbit Hop-population eleven and a half. It's fewer than that now. All that's left are hubby and me, my widowed mom next door, the elderly couple kind of across the road and down a little from us, and their granddaughter, husband, and little boy, who have only been here a couple of years now. The other three houses left are used as weekend/vacation houses. Papa's old home place over the hill is now falling down, though we're still using the old barn for the few cattle we keep.
I've often taken spells of wanting to live somewhere else, at least for a while. Everything is so far away from us. The nearest towns of any size are half hour away, and the nearest city with a mall or any shopping is at least one and a half hours away. It's frustrating sometimes to have to drive so far for everything, especially as I get older, but on the other hand, I'm deeply attached here and wouldn't know how to live anywhere else. It's where my roots are.
I've seen a lot of life, both good and bad, here. People came and went over the years, buildings changed and disappeared, just like everywhere else. Time doesn't stand still and everything changes constantly. But, as I said at the beginning, magical things happen here sometimes if you're paying attention. I have lots of happy memories associated with this little place out in the sticks called Rabbit Hop Community, and I'm beginning to dread the time when I have to leave it behind.
One day I will tell you about the people and some of the magic of the Rabbit Hop I grew up in. :)
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I did have to crawl over all the piles on the floor and move the piles on the table to do anything. Needless to say I didn't do much. :) It's still pretty full and I don't have a lot of elbow room, but at least I can walk around the table w/o tripping or moving something. I have managed to keep it straightened up too. Right now I'm in the midst of a couple of projects so it's kind of messy, but I've gotten better at putting stuff away when I'm done, so the table stays pretty much cleared. The vinyl tablecloth is not for looks, but table protection. There are two rolling drawer carts behind the chair and under the small desk on the right. Those, stackable banker boxes, and wooden cheese boxes hold art/writing supplies. Stackable baskets hold my sewing stuff and magazines. I also have an easel and a portable table that I set up when I need them. A lot of the stuff down here is going back upstairs now that there's room up there. I may still have to work down here for the time being, but at least I'll have a little more room.
We still eat in front of the living room TV. :) Two pix follow:
Pretty embarrassing when company comes. But it's either this or give up art/writing and that would be like giving up breathing. :)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
This is the North end where I paint with oils. The two paintings on the easels are works in progress that I started about ten years ago. I'll finish them eventually. The drafting table holds my palette, paint rags, etc. The TV and a radio sits on an old entertainment center that we rescued from beside a dumpster several years ago. It has 5 large compartments behine the doors.
The NW corner. The lop-sided chest was made by a great uncle and is over a hundred years old. I painted the oval scenes on the front when I first started painting. I broke the two end legs off dragging it across the floor and have never gotten them replaced, so it's kind of propped up. It has 3 shelves inside. The teddy bear and monkey are mine from childhood, very much loved. A magazine holder is in the floor next to the end of my work table.
The SW corner and side. The rest of my work table with storage underneath for frames, mat board, cutter, etc. The file cabinet holds newspaper and magazine clippings and journals. The wicker hamper holds my crochet yarn & projects. The corner table has a bartender's sink in it, but it froze & burst one winter and hasn't been fixed. My dad made the print rack for me.
South end. Utility table, thinking chair, baskets. I made the cloth doll from a pattern. She is one of my muses named Lucy, and she's very good company. ;)
SE corner. The old chest of drawers was bought at a yard sale. It and the shelves hold various containers of cross stitch supplies, paper making, papier mache, writing, and other craft supplies, as well as various magazines.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
The cows broke into the haybarn last night just before dark, so hubby was out trying to fix the gate by the four-wheeler lights after dark. The pastures have dried up and the pond is almost dry. We're having to try to keep two big tubs filled with water, which they can empty in just a few minutes. Praying that it rains soon so we don't have to sell the cattle.
But I was going to tell you a curtain tale. Earlier in the summer I cleaned out my large upstairs studio, which because of heating and cooling costs, had become like an attic storage space. There was no way to walk around on the floor without moving something out of the way. It took a while, but I got rid of tons of stuff and now it's all neat and tidy with plenty of room for me to work/play when I want to. Right now I play in the dining room when I write or try to make stuff.
Anyway, about the curtains. I had bought the cheapest thermal backed curtains JC Penney carried several years ago to help with the heat/cold in the studio. There are eight regular windows around the walls plus four triangle shaped ones high on each end. Daddy, hubby, and I built it and Daddy wanted me to have plenty of light. We didn't think about how much heat/cold all that glass would also create at the time. I bought four pairs of curtains and used one panel per window, which worked fine (none for the high triangles).
For several years I have washed and dried these curtains on gentle in the machines and they were fine. I skipped a year last year (too much else going on), but this year I washed two pair and dried them with different results. When I took them out of the dryer the thermal backing was all stuck together and when I tried to pull it apart it tore holes in the curtains and the seams apart. Goofy me, I layed these aside. Thinking the dryer caused it, I washed the other two pair, planning on hanging them on the line to dry. Alas, when I took them out of the washer they were stuck worse than the first pair, all in big wads.
Mom came and I showed her the curtain tragedy. The heat and cold upstairs must have rotted them I decided. She was convinced we could get them straigntened out. We couldn't. Not even with her pulling one end and me the other. We gave up and six panels went in the trash. There were two panels, however, that were only stuck a little and I straightened them enough to use on the end where the mid-day sun comes through, never mind the holes in the backing.
The curtains before these were made out of peach colored sheets and had been relagated to dust covers, so I gathered these up from their various positions, washed them, and hung them temporarily.
A few weeks later I got a sale book from JCP and lo and behold their thermal backed curtains were on sale with free S/H. They had the same ones that I had just ruined, the cheapest, but I decided to go with a little better quality. In reading the descriptions about both, I discovered that the ones I had been washing for several years were supposed to be dry cleaned. :o
I ordered the better quality, which were machine washable, and a tad more expensive, but they were on sale with free shipping and handling, so I ordered four pair just like before, one panel per window, cloud blue floral.
They came. First of all the color was more storm cloud gray (most shades of gray depress me for reasons I won't go into now). Second of all when I went to hang them one panel wasn't wide enough to cover the window and two panels were way too wide. I ordered the same size I had before. The nearest JCP return store was twenty miles away (not that far) but I would have to pay S/H to send them back.
I did a lot of thinking and figuring (didn't want to spend any more money than I absolutely had to), and decided to keep them, despite the color, order two more pair, and splice the ones I already had. Aggravated was what I was. Luckily JCP was having a weekend online sale and my curtains were marked down seven more dollars than the sale book and there was still free S/H on orders of a certain amount, which was good for me. They arrived four days later.
So I have cut four panels up the middle and sewn each half on to the side of the first eight panels. (I got to use the Janome computerized sewing machine which I bought three or four years ago and hadn't used in so long that I had to get the instruction book out again. I love this machine. I just hadn't been sewing much in a while).
It's been extremely hot upstairs so I haven't hung the curtains yet, but I do have the hooks on two of the panels and just holding them up, they don't look too bad. The main thing is that they help with the heat/cold up there. Nobody much is up there anyway except me. Still they wound up costing more than I meant to spend, and for the expense it would have been nice not to have to splice them.
Oh, well. I was lucky to get several years service out of the old curtains. They could have stuck together in wads the first year I washed them instead of dry cleaning them. So all's well that ends well I guess. :)
Incidentally, the same week I ruined the curtains, the tire came off the riding mower wheel just as I was starting to mow our acre yard, the carpet cleaner literally blew up on me (pop, fire, smoke!) in the middle of my carpet cleaning, and something else happened that escapes me right now. Think someone was trying to tell me something? :)
PS: I got the curtains hung today. I nearly boiled while I was upstairs hanging them, but I could feel the difference in heat coming through the windows immediately. The sheet curtains have once again been relagated to dust covers. Despite the gray color the new ones look pretty good I must say, plus they filtered all the light enough to give the room a cozy, relaxing atmosphere, which I really like. Two slight problems. One panel plus a spliced half still wasn't wide enough to cover the ends of the rods, but at least the glass is covered, and when we got into the truck to go after cow feed I noticed that the spliced seam, which is the dark gray (pardon me, cloud blue), is really shining against the white thermal backing from the outside. I took as small a seam as I could. Neither the rod ends nor the seams look too good; I can live with the rod ends, but those dark seams on the white background just jump out at whoever happens to be outside. I've already spent too much, so the curtain saga continues...
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I've been on a mini-vacation of sorts for a couple of hours. I flipped through all my back issues of Somerset Studio looking for the issues that had altered shoes and art dolls. Didn't find the shoes, found a few altered dolls, none of which helped me, but I found all sorts of other projects to tempt me and plenty of gorgeous artwork to inspire me. I will have to look in some of my other art mags or do some online research for something to jumpstart my brain. :)
I am working on an art doll for the next mojo art group contest. We're supposed to take something headed for the trash/recycle bin and make something artsy out of it. I've been wanting to try an art doll, so I drew a pattern, cut her out of an old table cloth, got her sewn and stuffed, and kind of dressed out of throw away stuff. Now I'm stumped on how to embellish her. Nothing I have in my stash seems to work, at least not yet. I guess it would help if I really could think of a theme for her. At this point she looks kind of like a Vegas showgirl, but I want her to be more artsy. I'll come up with something. I still have a couple of weeks. If she turns out ok I'll post her pic on here, as well as in the group. Will let you know how it goes.
We're also talking about one for altered shoes if enough members are interested. I have shoes, but no ideas yet, which is why I was mining the magazines with no luck. :) It's fun though.
I've posted the links to the last two personal experience stories I had published online this summer. I actually still have three others online as well, but they are archived in the ezines, and I couldn't get the links to work. Now I need to get some more written, submitted, and hopefully published.
I'm also working on the second chapter of a novel, which has come to a halt for the time being. I was going full steam ahead and making progress on everything last week, then all of a sudden I reckon I ran out of steam. I don't know if it's the heat or what, but it's frustrating to be wanting to work on projects and not be able to figure out where you need to go with them. They will tell me when the time's right what they need. Til then I'll wait.
I guess now would be a good time to finish the novel I have over half read (Tara Road by Maeve Binchey), which is very good by the way. : )