Thursday, August 31, 2006

Poetry Thursday: My memory has left the building

The idea for Poetry Thursday this week was to carry a copy of a poem - my own or someone else's - around with me and pull it out and read it whenever I'd think of it and to share the experience later and how the experience of carrying poetry with me made me feel. Well, here's the scoop - it made me feel forgetful. Heh. I kept forgetting the poem was in my purse until I'd be digging in there for something else and I'd think, "oh yeah, I should get that out and read it....later" and then I'd continue on with what I was doing and later just sort of never came. I found this exercise, like the eavesdropping one from a while back, to be cool in theory but not too compatible with the way my brain works. I'm looking forward to hearing about the experiences of others who tried it, though. I bet some of you did better with it than I did. Since I feel like saying "I carried a poem in my purse for a couple of days but kept forgetting to get it out and read it" isn't exactly a scintillating post, I'll veer off from the prompt for this week and share with you a poem I like by Mary Oliver. We've been getting lots of rain over the past couple of days (no doubt partly from the effects of being on the northern edge of the front brought in by Ernesto) and seeing the swollen creeks all around us made me think of this poem. I thought I might even be able to get a photo of the creek that runs along the edge of our property when it was still turbulent, to really match with the words of the poem, but by the time I thought to take the camera over the hill, the creek was calm. Ah well, I took a photo anyway. Calm is good. The Dog Has Run Off Again and I should start shouting his name and clapping my hands, but it has been raining all night and the narrow creek has risen is a tawny turbulence is rushing along over the mossy stones is surging forward with a sweet loopy music and therefore I don't want to entangle it with my own voice calling summoning my little dog to hurry back look the sunlight and shadows are chasing each other listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down who am I to summon his hard and happy body his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal through the dark leaves to come back to walk by my side, obedient. ~~~Mary Oliver "Late Summer on Gobbler Creek" You can find out what sort of poetry other bloggers carried in their pocket this week if you click here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

X is for...

Time for another WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. Now here we go... X is for... X-ray vision - A super-power I'd like to have. I can't say it would be my very first choice (that would be the power to fly!) but it would be very useful sometimes as long as I had control over when I used it and could turn if off the rest of the time. Xander (Harris)- A character I really like in the Buffyverse. I think it's cool that in all seven seasons of the show he was the one character who never started out with or acquired any mystical or super-human powers or abilities. He was "just" Buffy's and Willow's best friend and hung in there with them through all the craziness, even when he got hurt. He even single-handedly saved the world once! "X marks the spot" - Who doesn't have a weakness for the romance and mystery of buried treasure (whether literal treasure or lost knowledge)? Who doesn't want to be the one to unravel the clues and find the spot marked by the mysterious "X?" Ok, maybe some people don't feel the lure of "x marks the spot", but I'm not one of those people. I love the idea - I'm always up for a puzzle! X-Men - Back in my misspent youth, long before the movie franchise came along, the X-Men comics were some of my favorites. I especially liked Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat), which is why I'm disappointed that she's gotten so little screen time in the movies and when they have showed her she's been, well...kind of lame-o. Bah! Xanadu - I would love to be all high-brow and literary and tell you that this made my X-list on the strength of the Coleridge poem but, um, no. This makes my list on the strength of the wonderfully awful movie by that name featuring Olivia Newton-John as a big-haired, leg-warmered, roller-skating Muse. As bad as the movie is, I really do like some of the music from it, plus it was Gene Kelly's last screen appearance and I love Gene Kelly. I'm sure the rumors that he died from shame over his role in "Xanadu" are greatly exaggerated. Ahem. "X is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SPC: Enclosed Spaces, Week 5

This marks the last week of the August theme of Enclosed Spaces in the Self-Portrait Challenge. Yay! I must admit I'm ready for something new, although I have a feeling I'm going to find the September challenge, well...challenging. We've been challenged to post portraits of ourselves with people who mean something to us and most of the people I'm emotionally close to are geographically distant. I may be digging into the photo albums for this one. But anyway, back to the August challenge. Last week I did a Photoshopped fantasy shot, so this weekend we're back to one final "normal" shot. In this one I was going for a photo that evokes the sort of mood most of us have from time to time where we get lost in thought and memory and enclosed (even if only temporarily) in the past. It's a mood that can be wistful, nostalgic, even a bit melancholy. But it can be comforting too. I'm enclosed by the past, but not trapped by it. "Enclosed in Thought" (Clickable if for some bizarre reason anyone wants to see my giant pores and encroaching wrinkles at a larger size in a new window. The lighting is unforgiving and I didn't fix any flaws in Photoshop. Sigh.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Linky Love

You know what I realized a couple of days ago? I realized that some of the blogs I read regularly and was just SURE I had listed in my links over there >>> in the sidebar were, in fact, not over there at all. Oops. I only realized this because I was having Major Issues accessing Bloglines this weekend. See, here's the thing. I keep track of blogs I read via two different services. I primarily use Bloglines to keep track of who has new content on their blogs and to preview new entries to see if I want to actually pull up the blog itself and perhaps comment. If I stumble across a new-to-me blog that looks interesting, I'll subscribe and track it for a few days and then see if I want to stick with it or not. If I decide it isn't for me after all, I'll unsubscribe. But if I decide I want to keep reading it, the idea is to not only continue with the Bloglines subscription, but to also add it to my sidebar links list via Blogroll. Please note I said "that's the idea", NOT "that's what happens." Ahem. You might wonder why I don't just manage my sidebar list through Bloglines instead, since that's a service they offer, but I have two reasons. One is what I mentioned before - I like the idea of having a way to check out a blog for a while before I include it in my links list. The other is that the two different services seem to differ a bit in the job they do tracking blog updates and one does better with some feeds while the other does a better job with others. Between the two of them I can pretty much tell when someone posts something new. Oh! I just thought of a third reason - when one of them is having Major Issues, at least the other one is still working. Probably. Heh. Why am I rambling on and on and ON about all this? Because even though I tried to update my sidebar links this weekend, I'm still not sure I haven't missed some blogs that should be there. You might scroll down through my list of links and not see your name there and assume I CHOSE not to include you, but you would most likely be giving my brain WAY too much credit. So if you know for a fact that I read your blog regularly by the fact that I leave comments there at least a few times a month, and you don't see it listed over in the blog links, leave me a comment or shoot me an email and tell me so if you'd like to be listed. Don't be shy! I'm probably cruising along thinking you're already there. Today's DAT: "Linked" Oh, one more thing I wanted to mention about links! A lot of my favorite bloggers separate their blog links into categories, which can be kind of cool. I've chosen not to categorize my links though, and I want to tell you why. I think many bloggers (like people everywhere!) tend to cluster into cliques. They may not mean to, but it happens. They get comfortable within a certain group and end up only visiting blogs that fit into a narrow range of topics. That's fine, of course. We all have a finite amount of time to spend on blog reading or anything else and we all make choices about how to spend that time. But I like the idea of someone following a link from my sidebar and maybe ending up someplace they wouldn't have otherwise gone and maybe they'll find they like it! My links include blogs written by quilters, photographers, painters, collage artists, knitters, writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, book reviewers, fashion snarkers (is that a word? heh), and people who defy fitting neatly into a category - they just blog about life in general in a way I find funny or touching or all-around interesting. They all inspire me in their own way and sometimes that way has nothing to do with what they blog about. Like a story might inspire a quilt idea or a photograph might inspire an idea for a poem. Or someone might just make me smile and feel a little better about my day. So rather than making it easy on visitors to RSR to find blogs about a particular topic, I hope some of you will, at least now and then, take a chance - scroll down and find a blog name you think is interesting and click on it just to see where it takes you, and take a few minutes to read what they have to say, even if it's a blog outside your usual sphere of interest. You might discover a new point of view that inspires you to be that much more creative in what DOES interest you or you might even meet a new friend.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One Deep Breath: Wickedly Musical

Over at One Deep Breath, the theme for the past week has been "The Sound of Music" and we've been urged to write and post a haiku about the role of music in our lives. I know it's time for a new prompt, this being Sunday, but I thought I'd post something at the last minute for this theme anyway. One of the things this theme made me think of is my love for musicals. I know they're silly and corny and all that jazz (har!) but I adore them. They make me feel happy. In addition to loving musical films, I also love musicals on stage and I try to make it to Cincinnati at least once a year or so to see something from their Broadway Series stage productions. The very first musical movie I consciously remember watching (and loving) was "The Wizard of Oz" and the last musical stage show I saw (and loved) this past March, was the related story "Wicked", so I decided to post a haiku about each story and a collage that links them together. In a place called Oz Ruby shoes grant a girl's wish. "There's no place like home." Each tale has two sides. A wicked witch was once a girl with wishes too. "Two Sides" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Like Cats and Dogs

I didn't realize until I was hitting "publish post" yesterday just how looooooooong that post had gotten. Congrats to those of you who made it through to the end! I should have split it up and saved some of that post for today because this morning I'm short on both time and ideas, so today you get one of my dreaded/beloved quizzes. Yeah, baby! I had to post this one because I still have Kittenwar and Puppywar on the brain and this tells me where I'd fit in better. I think the description sounds pretty dead-on.
You Are: 60% Dog, 40% Cat
You are a nice blend of cat and dog. You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful. And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.
Today's DAT is EDKSky in an unusually calm moment: "Look Into My Eyes" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) PS.....Tansy and Rebel have neither one had very many "matches" yet on Puppywar, but so far Tansy is winning 67% of hers and Rebel is 50/50.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Random Items from the Junk Drawer of my Mind #25

1. Good Mail! Y'all know I loooooves me some Good Mail and yesterday was a Good Mail day. I got a cool little surprise envelope from Deborah with an ad she thought (correctly!) that I'd enjoy seeing pulled from a Texas magazine. Thanks, Deborah! And I got three books. Yay! In a contest Gena Showalter was running on her blog (not this contest - another one) I won a signed copy of her book "Oh My Goth" as well as a signed ARC of the same book, which will be fun since I can see how the book changed from ARC to final published version. Cool. Thanks, Gena! As it happens, I'd bought "Oh My Goth" and read it not all that long ago and liked it lots, but I'm really excited to have a signed copy. Now I'll want to find a new home for my unsigned copy so someone else can enjoy it, but I haven't decided quite how yet. I might have a little contest here or something, but I'm still mulling it over. Stay tuned. I also got another book that was sent to me to read and review. No details yet on that until I, well, you and review it! But it looks really good. 2. Yep, there were snakes on that plane all right (spoiler-free zone) This past Sunday I met my brother and his teenage kids to have lunch and catch a matinee of "Snakes on a Plane." It was exactly as odd and cheesy as I thought it was going to be, like a big ol' wad of melted Velveeta. I enjoyed it immensely! So did Mark, Amber, and Josh. Of course our family can be a little, um....odd. But still. How would I describe it? Picture one of those Airport movies from the 1970's - you know with the ensemble cast and the soap opera-worthy interpersonal dramas, only picture the people with better clothes and hair. Now add a bunch of poinsonous snakes and one huge boa constrictor (presumably just because it looked cool), all of them hopped up on pheremones. Finally, mix in a cool m*th*rf*ck*r of an FBI agent, (played by Samuel L. Jackson, of course), and you pretty much have the idea of what this movie was like. HUGE plotholes, ridiculous dialogue, sex in the airplane bathroom, gross-out death scenes - it had it all. My only complaint is that I think they could have fit a few more stock characters into the story, like maybe a pregnant woman, or a blind man, or a nun who plays guitar. You can't tell me it wouldn't have been cool to see a snake slither out of the hole in the center of the singing nun's guitar! Maybe they'll keep that in mind for the sequel. I'll go get ready to burn in hell now. Heh. 3. Things that make you go "aaawwwwww" I followed a link from Liz Elayne's blog to the Kittenwar site (motto: "May the Cutest Kitten Win!"). Aaaawwww. They were adorable! I just kept clicking and clicking. I really wanted to submit a photo of EDKSky when he was a kitten, but the only ones I have of him as a kitten where he looks cute instead of obnoxious are a series of photos I took of him napping with our Golden Retriever mix, Tansy. And the Kittenwar site expressly states they don't take photos that include dogs, even if the main subject of the photo is a kitten. Boooo! Hisssss! However, I then followed a link from the Kittenwar site to the Puppywar site (motto: "Pick the Cutest Puppy." Kind of lame. They need a new motto writer.) They appear to be more open-minded about dog-cat mixed relationships, but that didn't really help in the case of the EDKSky pics because Tansy was grown up in those. BUT, I found a cute photo of her as a puppy and uploaded that: (all together now, "aaawwwww" - I know it's small, sorry!..but still...cute!) And I found one of my favorite pics of my favorite-ever dog Rebel when he was itty-bitty: ("aaawwwwwww!!") He looked like a baby Ewok, if Ewoks were actually as cute as George Lucas meant them to be instead of just being vaguely creepy and annoying. They aren't showing up on the Puppywar site quite yet, but hopefully they will soon and then I wanna see my puppies kick some ass!! Nicely, of course. Ahem. 4. Things that make you go "aaaawwwww", Part Two: Daily Art Thang I decided to turn that photo of Rebel into a virtual painting: "If Rebel Was a Painting" P.S. As I bet you can tell from this post, I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday. Thank you for the good thoughts and cyberhugs!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another Viral Blogging Entry - Another Chance to Win Bookish Prizes!

I heard about another experiment in "Viral Blogging" on Charity's blog and decided to participate, because I looooooves me some books and I'm a total Contest Ho. So a contest where the prize includes books? Yeah, I'm there! Have a look at the info below and if you want a chance to win the super-cool prizes being given away, just follow the links below and post the info on your blog. Easy-peasy! ******************************** I am participating in a blogging experiment hosted at To enter the contest, put up this blurb, image, and trackback and you are entered to win the following prize package.
  • $200 Amazon gift certificate
  • Signed copy of Slave to Sensation
  • New Zealand goodies chosen by Singh
  • ARC of Christine Feehan's October 31 release: Conspiracy Game
You can read about the experiment here and you can download the code that you need to participate here. SLAVE TO SENSATION Nalini Singh Berkley / September 2006 Slave to Sensation Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart. Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed. Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch. When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation. Read an Excerpt.

Poetry Thursday: Withered by Time

The poem I want to share today is one I read a while back and liked, but until now it never felt like it was this one's turn. But this week I've been feeling a bit angsty (unusually so for me) and the bleakness of this poem suited my mood. Also the prompt this week at the Poetry Thursday site is Time and somehow I think this poem fits with that too. Lost, One Soul I lost my soul in a fit of temper I threw it at somebody's head and slammed out without a second thought Then I dumped it in a wastebin along with a love I said I was finished with I sandpapered my spirit with a million bitter barbs and sent it into orbit and substituted guilt instead My soul went cold with memories of old friends and kin who never expected to be neglected, and resolutions I'd eluded Then one day I went to feed it and it was gone and now I hear it howling in the wind outside in the nights in the hills and I get the chills inside and hide in something that's not important and it's four in the morning before I can get warm enough to weep enough to fall asleep ~~~Sandy McIntosh "Withered" (clickable if you want to see it larger) If you want to spend more time with poetry, go here and check out the links you'll find. And if you stop back by here tomorrow, hopefully things will be more, well....hopeful! I rarely stay down for long.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

W is for...

Time for another WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. Now here we go... W is for... Water - I have a Thing for water - love to look at it, love to be around it, love the feel of it (as long as I'm not in it over my head), love to ride around on it in boat or ship. I tend to feel my most peaceful when I'm within sight and sound of water. If you buy into astrology, that isn't too surprising - both my sun sign and moon sign are water signs. Oh yeah, and I drink water all day long too. Waterfalls - As much as I love water in general, I really love waterfalls. They call to me! I sort of "collect" them, meaning if I travel to anyplace that has a waterfall nearby I always try to make time to go see it, and watch and listen to it a little while, and take a photo or two. Wind - I love windy days too, all but the most violent of them anyway. The feel of the wind in my face and hair feels like Freedom to me. Is it a coincidence, I wonder, that my rising sign is an air sign? Hhhmmm... Wind chimes - I like these a lot too, and have more than one set, although I don't hang them all at once and I'm very picky about them. They must sound musical, not tinny! If the sound is the least bit flat I'm not interested. Walk - Something I do every day. As much as I hate exercise in general (and unfortunately I really DO!), I've gotten so used to walking every day that I really miss it if I skip a day. Writing - The first thing I ever remember wanting to do when I grew up was to be a writer. That was before I realized that drawing was faster and (for me) easier. But I've been discovering the past year or two that I still really love writing. Who'da thunk it! Williamsburg (Ohio) - The tiny river town in southwestern Ohio, where I grew up. Wisconsin - One of several states I've lived in throughout the years. I liked Wisconsin a lot during the five or six months when it wasn't winter. Willow (Rosenberg) - One of my favorite characters from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", played by the extremely talented Alyson Hannigan. Willow (the tree) - One of my favorite trees. I like both the weeping and the corkscrew types. "Wicked" - One of my favorite-ever stage musicals. Werewolves - I confessed last week to enjoying vampire stories. I also enjoy a good werewolf tale. Or is that tail? (groooooan...sorry, I'm a pun addict) Some of my favorites include MaryJanice Davidson's Wyndham Werewolves series and Rebecca York's "... Moon" series. Wizards - I like wizard stories too, from Merlin, to Gandalf, to Harry Potter, to Diane Duane's teen wizards in her young adult series. Witches - Oh, come on, you knew this was coming, didn't you? Yep, I like witch stories too. One of my favorites is an old book (like from the 1930's or '40's) called "Conjure Wife." Wish - I think wishing with intent is a bit like praying, so I think wishes can be very powerful things. Wine - I'm pretty ignorant about wine, but I like it! I tend to go for white more often than red because I have some problems with red wine causing headaches, but I like them both. "Watchers" - The very first Dean Koontz book I ever read - the one that got me hooked on his books. Wife - One of my roles in life since J's and my Wedding more than 17 years ago. Woods - We have something like 70 - 80 acres of woods on our property and I love being surrounded by them. I love walking in them, especially in the Winter when the trees are bare and I can see the bones of the land. Words - I love words. I love to play with them and savor them. I want to stroke them, breathe them, toss them in the air and then roll around on them where they land. Winning - I love to win. But I hate to see others lose. For me, real winning is about victory over myself - doing better than I did another time or better than I thought I could do. That's the kind of winning that gives me joy. The kind that makes other people lose makes me a little sad. Whiny - Something I can be sometimes, although I try SO hard not to be because I really hate it when other people whine, so I sure as hell shouldn't do it myself!!! Weird - I'm that a lot too, but I don't usually mind being weird. Whimsy - A quality I appreciate (which is probably part of why I don't mind if people think I'm weird!) Wonderful, "Way cool", Well - W-words I say a lot. Wacky, Warble, Wander, Wonder, Wee - W-words I like. "W is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Attention Book Lovers: Viral Blogging and a Contest

Would you like a chance to win a book? How about several books?? Then check out the info on this new book by Gena Showalter and the contest she's holding on her blog: Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter Earth, Wind and Fire aren’t just a band anymore… Used to be my greatest achievement was holding a job more than three days. Now suddenly I can shoot fireballs, chill your drink, or blow-dry your hair at fifty paces with a blink of my eye! It all started when this crazy scientist dropped something in my grande mocha latte. Of course I got wicked sick. Next morning I’m waking up with this total hottie bending over me. He tells me 1) his name’s Rome Masters, 2) he’s a government agent and 3) I can control the four elements with a thought. He seems even less pleased by my (apparently irreversible) transformation that I am. . . because now he’s supposed to kill me. The only good news: I didn’t make this bed of trouble, but Rome sure seems to want me to lie in it. With him. Read an excerpt Order your copy from Barnes and Noble or Amazon or Books A Million And if you’d like a chance to win signed copies of *all* Gena Showalter’s books, all you have to do is post this entry, too. Post the cover, the blurb, the links, and this contest announcement, then head over to Gena’s blog ( and let her know you posted the material. A name will be randomly selected on September 3rd from those who do!!

SPC: Enclosed Spaces, Week 4

Here we are at week four of the August theme of Enclosed Paces in the Self-Portrait Challenge. Last week I shared a straightforward photo, so this week I'm back to doing something off-the-wall. Not long ago I had to have some blood tests done that required me to fast for at least 12 hours beforehand. As I got up that morning and stumbled through the house, half-awake and wholly grumpy and irritable, I was reminded yet again that I do NOT function very efficiently or cheerfully without my morning coffee. I neeeeeeeds it, my presssssshussssss. I've been heard to mention the idea of somehow setting up a coffee drip that would flow straight into my mouth before I even sit up in the morning, or of having the bathtub filled with it so I could just stumble in and submerge myself in the blessed caffeine. Ok, so I realize none of those ideas are at all practical in Real Life, but this isn't Real Life. This is Blogsylvania, where I can do what I want through the magic of Photoshop, so I decided to dive in and float around in my crazy cat mug. "Enclosed in a Caffeine Fantasy"

Monday, August 21, 2006

Virtual Press Conference Replies: Part Six

I know it's been ages since I threw the floor open for questions with my Virtual Press Conference. (Well, ok, not AGES, exactly, but it's been over a month.) I didn't forget the last couple of questions, I swear, I just got distracted and am just now getting back to this topic. So today I'm tackling the question from Corky. Corky asks: What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of? Oh, Corky. Not for me to answer you with a simple sentence or two...Noooooo. I have to write an essay! So here we go. I would have to say I'm most proud of having a big hand in remodeling our last house. That may seem like an odd answer, but doing a home remodel was soooooo far outside my experience and comfort zone at the time, and the house was such a wreck. In fact, we didn't plan to save the house at all. We bought the property for the land - 32 rolling, mostly-wooded acres - fully intending to tear down the horrid little shack that was on it and build something new. You can get an idea of how pretty the land is there by this photo taken the day we closed on the property: As far as the house, you can tell by the photo above that it's small and plain, but you can't see how truly horrendous it was until you see some close-ups. This is the front of the house on the day we bought it: Note the peeling paint and rusting roof, the rag-stuffed broken window right next to the window that's boarded over entirely, the knee-high weed-choked front yard, and the front door hanging about three feet in mid-air because someone tore off the front porch at some point and never replaced it. When we looked at it, our choices for how to get in and out were to either use the ladder that you see leaning against the house or to step over a 2 ft. tall pile of chicken shit on a side porch where the tenants had been using the porch as a chicken coop. We used the ladder. This is the back, where you can see the roof a little better and see that the last time the house was painted, long, loooog ago, they evidently ran out of paint just before they finished and just didn't ever bother to buy more: Here's the inside, showing the front door (the one with no steps leading to it!), the smoky little wood stove that was the only source of heat, and the door next to the stove, which was the only closet in the entire house. Plus on the right of the photo you can get a glimpse of the horror they referred to as a "kitchen." Oh yeah, and look at the floor. They'd painted all around the edges with porch paint, but ONLY the edges. Underneath that filthy who-knows-what-color-it's-supposed-to-be area rug, the floor was aged, unpainted pine: Below is a better look at the so-called kitchen. There was no stove, the refrigerator was broken, and the sink had a trickle of cold, muddy, unfiltered spring water, but no hot water because there was no hot water heater in the house. Also there was no bathroom, only an outhouse on the hill behind the house. Seriously. The photo below was taken standing in the living room, looking toward a couple of the bedrooms. I don't know how clear it is in the pic, but the ceiling and walls of the living room were all covered in cheap paneling, the only difference being that the ceiling was unpainted dark brown and the walls had been painted white - badly. You can just barely see through the door to the left that the walls of the bedrooms were tongue-in-groove boards that had been sort of whitewashed but otherwise unfinished. Well, all that is except this room (which ultimately became J's and my bedroom), where they'd evidently run out of the boards and two of the walls were covered in flattened cardboard boxes held up with masking tape: That's what we started with, folks - proof that someone, somewhere, will buy ANYTHING. As I said, our plan when we bought the place was to tear it down and start over, BUT... We discovered it had been a one-room schoolhouse built in the very early 1900's and only divided up and converted to house about mid-century and we thought that was pretty cool. We discovered that the floors were old wide-plank pine that had been treated with so many coats of linseed oil back in the day that they were incredibly tough. We discovered that the basic structure of the house was, amazingly, quite sound underneath all that ugliness. And we took a deep breath and made the decision to remodel instead of tear down. J and I did 90% of the work ourselves, with only a little help from his brothers. I did things to that house I'd never done before and wouldn't have figured I ever WOULD do! I tore down walls and helped build others. (BTW, I highly recommend tearing down walls as a stress-relieving exercise!) I put up siding. I helped tear off the old roof and put up the new one. I wired electrical outlets and phone jacks. I sanded and refinished floors. I taped, mudded, sanded, primed, and painted drywall. I designed the new kitchen, while J built all the cabinets from scratch out of recycled redwood lumber that used to be someone's privacy fence. The photo below is at about the halfway point of the remodel. At that point we'd slapped a coat of paint on both the old siding and old roof just so we could stand looking at them until we replaced them, and we'd replaced all the doors and windows and added a huge porch to the front: This is an inside shot of the halfway point of the kitchen remodel. The place where the bar and bar stools sit is where that wall with the wood stove used to be in the before photo. You can see we weren't done yet - notice the only partly mudded and sanded drywall and the bare wood of the trim around the door and window. In this photo you can also get a good view of the floors after we'd refinished them: Here's another view of the kitchen after it was pretty well done. This is looking from the living room side of what ultimately was the great room (that took up the whole front half of the house). You can see from the front door, which is open on the far left of the photo, that this is taken from only a slightly different angle than the before photo with the wood stove: And this next photo is taken from nearly the same angle as the living room shot above that shows the two doors. You can see a glimpse of our bedroom through the right-hand door. That's the room that used to have cardboard inner walls. We shifted the left-hand door slightly to the left to make space for a walk-in closet in our bedroom and the built-in bookshelf is what we put in the place of the old door: This is what the property looked like a year after we bought it. By that time we'd not only completely remodeled the interior, including such little amenities as a bathroom, hot water, and central heat/air, but we'd also replaced the siding and roof and added a large screened porch to the left of the original house: We lived there for five years. If we'd stayed, we'd have eventually built another addition - something the present owners did a couple of years ago. So there's my looooooong answer to your question, Corky. I'm proud of having taken a place that looked like it was good for nothing but a wrecking ball and had a hand in bringing it back to life. I even decided to make it the topic of today's Daily Art Thang. "Somerset Cottage"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

August Bliss List

It's Bliss List time again! Here are some things that have been making me feel Blissful in August:
  • Pretty nail polish for when my toes are peeking out of sandals and colorful bands to hold my hair off my neck when the days are hot and muggy.
  • Going to a quilt show with a good friend and getting to see wonderful, creative work by artists I admire.
  • Finding a hand-made bookmark that makes me smile whenever I use it.
  • Making homemade Greek Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden, along with garlic, olives, and feta cheese. Yum!
  • Old friends. Er, maybe I should make that long-term friends. Ahem.
  • Limited edition Kisses in flavors like cherry cordial and coconut cream. (Although they'd make me feel even more blissful if they were dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate!)
  • The scent of August lily hostas in bloom.
  • Sipping a B-52 right from the bottle while my feet are propped up on the deck railing.
  • Hot tubbin' with my honey.
"August Bliss" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) What's making you feel blissful this month?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's a Book Thing

I've seen this meme on several different blogs, most recently on Shirley's and Amber's, and since I loooves me some books and I loooves me some lists, I finally decided to do it. So here we go... 1. One book that you've read more than once. I've read literally hundreds of books more than once. For me, re-reading books is like visiting familiar old friends. Even if I've heard their stories before, time has passed and made me a different person so I may understand something I missed another time. The book I think I've probably read more times than any other, starting when I was pretty young, is "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle 2. One book you would want on a desert island. "Jane Austen: The Complete Novels" - it would be my way of cheating such a horrible fate just a bit, since I'd have several stories in one volume. 3. One book that made you laugh. Oooh, I could choose SO many. I love books with humor! But one....ok, "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy." When I've read it other times (yes it's one of the many I've read more than once!) it merely made me smile, but the very first time I read it I laughed out loud in several spots. "You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." "Why, what did she tell you?" "I don't know, I didn't listen." 4. One book that made you cry. Bunches again - loads! "The Time Traveler's Wife", for one. 5. One book you wish you had written. Again, I could choose dozens!! Part of me wants to choose something with language so beautiful it makes angels weep. Part of me wants to choose something that made me laugh or brought me comfort when I felt sad. Part of me wants to choose something that was a huge commercial success because, hey, I bet the perks are a blast! But in the end I'm going to go with "The Anubis Gates" by Tim Powers, because when I finished that book for the first time I remember sitting there with my eyes wide with wonder thinking, "Dayum! What sort of mind comes up with a story like that?!?" He takes Egyptian mythology, time travel, poetry, Romany lore, magic, historical fiction, and probably more I've forgotten, and he weaves them all into one story and somehow he makes it work! (Man, I need to reread that book soon!) 6. One book you wish had never been written. I can't think of one. Even books I really dislike speak to someone out there and might be just what they need at any given time, so I wouldn't wish any of them unwritten. (Although I have to say I would wish people wouldn't be foolish or mean-spirited enough to believe some of what's out there.) 7. One book you're currently reading. "Awaken Me Darkly" by Gena Showalter 8. One book you've been meaning to read. (DebR looks sheepishly at her multiple overflowing TBR shelves) Just one, huh? Ok, then - "The Solace of Leaving Early" by Haven Kimmel 9. One book that changed your life. I don't think any one single book has ever done that. But BOOKS, in general, and a love of reading have certainly helped to shape my life. Through books I can experience things I might never experience in the real world. Books expose me to new ideas. Plus I learn well from books, especially if they're illustrated to appeal to that visual learner in me. I started many, many hobbies and passions in my life by checking a book out of the library. 10. One book you recommend often. "Replay" by Ken Grimwood Wanna play? You know my policy on tagging! Well, ok, depending on if you've stopped by before some of you may not, so it's this: I believe in the Self-Serve method of tagging. If you want to do this meme, say so in comments and you can consider yourself "officially" tagged. If you want to comment without being tagged, that's great too. I'd love to hear your thoughts! "A River of Words" (The text I added to the photo above are parts of the first lines of some of the books I mentioned in my answers. The photo is clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Random Items from the Junk Drawer of my Mind #24

1. I saw this on my way to Lexington last week: It was at the edge of a car lot. Is that thing supposed to make me want to buy a car from that place? Because it really didn't y'know. It pretty much made me want to drive another route home so I wouldn't see the big pink naked ApeManThing again. It's just so very, very wrong. 2. I had some blood drawn this week to check my cholesterol (especially my triglyceride levels) to see if some meds I've been taking have helped. They HAVE helped, they really HAVE! My numbers are down! Yay! 2b. Also the woman who jabbed me this time around got a vein on the first try and didn't even leave a bruise, in STARK contrast to the two women who double-teamed me last time and managed to blow three veins (one in one arm, two in the other) before getting enough blood for the test, making me cry like a little girl and leave the office with massive bruising on both arms. (SO not joking!) 3. J told me this evening that while I was gone to the grocery store this afternoon he almost brought home a kitten. Who is this man and what did he do with my husband the dog person?? I kind of wish he'd given in to the impulse, as a part of me would love to have another cat that might turn out to be NICE or something. But another part of me thinks it's just as well he didn't give in to the impulse because EvilDemonKittySky might be nuts enough to turn a perfectly nice kitten into a minion to his evil ways. I don't think I could stand more than one psychotic cat at a time. 4. "Reality" check: I haven't been talking much about the summer TV schedule, but I've been watching "So You Think You Can Dance", "RockStar SuperNova", "Project Runway", and (oh, damn, I HATE to admit this last one, but...gulp....) "Big Brother All-Stars." Yes, that's right, I"m a sad and pathetic "Reality" TV junkie. Deal with it. Admitting to BB is embarrassing, but I don't mind so much admitting to the rest. If you're a TiVo addict and haven't seen the latest episodes of any of the above, go away now and come back later! S P O I L E R 4b. I'm thrilled that Benji won SYTYCD! I would have been pretty happy to see Travis get it too, but I had a soft spot in my heart for Benji right from the very first cattle call audition, so Yaaaaay, Benji!! I hope it turns out to be a Good Thing for you! 4c. I'm sooooooo glad SuperNova finally got rid of Zayra! My only complaint is that I wish they'd done another double-elimination and sent Patrice home too. In fact, really, I'm ready for them to send home pretty much everyone except Dilana. Is there really any reason to continue? 4d. I'm disappointed that Alison left Project Runway. Although this last outfit was a horror, I think she has way more talent than WackoVincent, the guy who gets my vote for Most Likely To Make Me Use The Mute Button. Please, oh please, pretty judges, send him home sooooooon! And my Question of the Day is this: How can Laura design outfits that look classic and wearable, even when she's working with trash instead of fabric, yet she can't dress herself in an outfit that will adequately cover her boobs on national television? Anyone? 5. Today's D.A.T. is the result of being bored in the parking lot of a farm supply store. Please don't envy my glamorous life. Heh. "Line-up"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Poetry Thursday: To the Goddesses

This week on Poetry Thursday is a Freebie - a choose your own prompt week! So I'm choosing to share a poem by Alice Walker that makes me think of how grateful I am for the presence of some fabulous women in my life - family and friends, past and present, including friends I haven't seen in person yet, but have only connected with in far. Goddess I am so glad I can recognize A goddess When I see one. There is Yeshi's Trustworthiness Glenna's Patience Sue's willing helpfulness (& genius) Zelie's Wild Laughter & song Evelyn's Loyalty Diana's equanimity Ruth's incredible Storytelling & inexplicable Suffering. The scent of My mother's Roses. What is needed Is heart Wisdom alone To see this Not - the added blessing - Eyes. ~~~Alice Walker PS...If you're looking for my Daily Art Thang, it's posted with the Fib I wrote for One Deep Breath.

One Deep Breath: A Coffee Fib

The theme at One Deep Breath this week is "Coffee and Tea" and rather than a traditional haiku, I decided to write a Fib. Tall, dark, and hot. Not a man - Columbian roast, steaming in a crazy cat mug. "Caffeine Crazy"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

V is for...

Time for another WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. Now here we go... V is for... Vacation - "Vacation's all I ever wanted..." Well, ok, not ALL, but I do enjoy them, although I actually prefer the more European word "holiday." I think it sounds more festive. But whether you call it Vacation, Holiday, or Augustus Aloysius Abernathy, I think it's a good idea. Viburnum, Violets - V-plants I like. I think the smell of viburnum is so wonderful it should be edible. I love little wild violets and also African Violets (although I don't have very good luck growing them). Valentine's Day - Not a holiday I care that much about, except that our wedding anniversary is four days later, so all the Valentine's Day hype serves as a good reminder to J and me not to forget Our Day. Vitamins - I take them every day because I find I feel better and don't get sick as often if I do. Velvet - I LOVE the feel of velvet. It's very pettable. (One of the photos in the collage below is me wearing a hand-dyed velvet scarf I love.) Victorian (house) - One of my favorite styles of architecture. I used to really want to buy a big, sprawling Victorian fixer-upper and renovate it - something with towers and turrets and odd corners and wrap-around porches. But after our experiences doing a complete remodel on a small cottage a few years ago I think I've lost my enthusiasm for that particular project unless I win the lottery or something and could hire a LOT of help! Vicky (Bliss) - A fictional character I like a lot. She's featured in a series of books by Elizabeth Peters. Vampires - I seem to have a bit of a thing for vampire stories, both books and movies. My favorite TV show ever is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and I also liked the spin-off series "Angel." I'm hooked on a few different book series featuring vampires, such as Tanya Huff's "Blood..." series, MaryJanice Davidson's "Undead..." series, and Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. And I like a lot of vampire movies, from classic Dracula films to more modern versions. Two of my favorites are a couple of campy vampire comedy/horror movies from the '80's (I know that sounds like a contradiction, but works!) - "Fright Night" and "The Lost Boys." "Viva Las Vegas" - Besides admitting to liking vampire stories I will now publicly admit that I have a big ol' soft mushy place in my heart for those corny Elvis Presley musicals from the '50's and '60's. You know the ones, where Elvis is basically playing himself with a lot of different names and he sings, dances, and grins his way through the "story" while romancing an assortment of dewy-eyed starlets. My all-time favorite is "Girl Happy" (where Elvis is trying to protect the "virtue" of a mob boss's daughter during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale), but that one isn't yet available on DVD. So while I carefully guard my precious VHS copy, my current favorite I own on DVD is "Viva Las Vegas", where Lucky the singing race car driver (Elvis) pursues Rusty the singing swim instructor (a very young and perky-boobed Ann-Margret) with a little competition from Count Mancini (the debonair Cesare Danova). Too fun! Hell, I'd own it just to get to see Elvis and Ann-Margret perform "The Lady Loves Me (But She Doesn't Know It Yet)." Visual - Along with Kinesthetic, the way I learn best. Tell me something and it's likely to go in one ear and out the other, despite my best efforts. SHOW me something - and better yet, let me do it for myself, hands-on - and I'll get it and remember. Voluptuous, Vixen, Victory, Vessel, Vigorous, Vagaries, Vellum, Vivid, Vibrant - V-words I like. "V is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

SPC: Enclosed Spaces, Week 3

This marks the halfway point of the August theme of Enclosed Paces in the Self-Portrait Challenge. Last week I did a Photoshopped fantasy shot, so this weekend we're back to reality (whatever that is). Those of you who have known me for a while may remember that I go to the Markey Cancer Center once a year to do a stint as a human lab rat. This past Thursday was the day I made the trek to Lexington to let the nice lab tech make artsy images of my ovaries. I really dislike elevators and will normally avoid them if I don't have to go up or down more than a few flights of stairs, but since we're doing self-portraits in enclosed spaces this month, I decided to ride up in the elevator of the medical building and take a photo. The doors were mirrored and I forgot to turn off the flash, but in the end I liked the shot. The light from the flash obscures the camera almost entirely so that you can't really see what's in my hands and I think the effect is almost SciFi looking - like Scotty is about to beam me right out of that claustrophobia-inducing steel box. Sounds like a great idea to me! "Energize"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Quilts For Change

Friday I drove up to Cincinnati to see the "Quilts for Change" exhibit, (sponsored by the Zonta Club of Cincinnati), with my friend Bev. This is only the second time for this exhibit, the first being in 2004, and I think they're doing a good job with it. I hope they keep it up! In fact, I would very much like to have a quilt in it some time but I keep forgetting to enter. Aaaarrrggghhh! Both years I've downloaded the prospectus and entry form, and had full intentions of sending in an entry to the jury. And both years the deadline has flown right on past while I was busy twiddling my thumbs or chasing butterflies through a meadow or something, until suddenly quilters on various lists I belong to start talking about getting acceptance letters and I think, "oh, um, gee.....if they're sending acceptance letters, I guess the entry deadline is past, huh?" D'oh! Honestly, sometimes I think I need a keeper. But for those of you who were smart enough to keep track of dates and who got the Good Mail letter - Yay you!! I saw quilts by several people I know from email lists or the Artful Quilter web ring. Congrats in particular to Diane, Gerrie, Kristin, and Pamela for having quilts in either the main show or one of the special exhibits. Your quilts looked wonderful. (I emailed all four of you a photo of your quilt with me as a Quilt Stunt Double, so if you didn't get it and want to, let me know.) Also, Bev's daughter Denise entered a quilt she made as a gift for Bev and it got in and looked fabulous. Check it out: "Beverly's Poppy" by Denise Starck She did lots of wonderful beadwork toward the center. It doesn't show up much in the overall shot, but here's a close-up with the contrast exaggerated so you can see some of the bling: Pretty! Now that the exhibit is over the quilt is going to hang on a yellow wall beside Bev's breakfast table. Lucky Bev! It was fun seeing some quilts by artists I wasn't previously familiar with too. I really loved three quilts by Cincinnati artist Maria Rubingh. This one, in particular, was my favorite: "American Nymph" by Maria Rubingh Her artist's statement talks about how half the women in the US now wear a size 14 or larger, yet many of us are caught up in the idea that beauty and self-worth are tied to a number on the scale or a number on a clothing tag - the smaller the better - instead of celebrating finding beauty in all sizes and shapes. Shouldn't beauty be about being healthy and strong and comfortable in our own skin instead of striving for some airbrushed ideal that isn't even possible for some body types? I loved both the quilt itself and the sentiment behind it. You can see more of Ms. Rubingh's work here. Hopefully this exhibit will be returning in 2008 and if you get a chance to go, I recommend it. Maybe I'll even remember to enter something in that one. Ahem. Oh, I have to show you what I bought at one of the vendor booths too! I didn't go nuts at the vendors - the bulk of what little money I spent went for three fat quarters of fabric I bought as a gift for a friend. But when I saw some unique bookmarks in one booth, I just had to have this one: Hellooooo! Bookmark! Softly pettable red hair! It says Celebrate! It would have been a crime if I hadn't bought it, yes? This is my new VeryMostFavorite-est bookmark. Of course besides the show it was great to get a chance to visit with Bev. We had Mexican food for lunch and Vietnamese food for supper. We went for a nice long walk after the air cooled off Friday evening and then came back and watched What Not To Wear while adding our own snarky commentary. It was a lovely day. Speaking of walks, when J and I have been walking we've been noticing how loaded the oak trees are with acorns this year. So far the acorns are still very small, but there are massive amounts of them! According to hillbilly folk wisdom that's supposed to be a sign of a bad winter to come. We'll see... Whether it turns out to be true or not, those baby acorns inspired today's DAT. "Abundance"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

I try not to inflict Ye Olde Dreaded Quizze Thanges on y'all very often, but this is one of those times when Real Life is leaving me pressed for time, so I'm tossing you a quiz and a photo and calling it good. I really don't have time to even do a meme which is at least a bit of a step up from a quiz. But by tomorrow I should have time to tell you about the quilt show I went to yesterday! Yeah, you heard me right - possible quilt content in tomorrow's post. Yeah, baby! (Ok, not MY quilts, but still.) Until then, have you ever wondered what sort of mythological creature you are? Oh, come on, sure you have! I know I've spent many precious, um...seconds on that thought. Heh. Well, now I'm wondering no more because I took the carefully crafted test I've linked to below. Whew! What a relief to finally know the truth!
You Are a Mermaid
You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you're flakier than you actually are. While your head is often in the clouds, you'll always come back to earth to help someone in need. Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational. You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.
Today's DAT: "Look Through the Lines"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Between The Worlds: Lingering Spirit

Now and then I participate in swaps with a group of mixed media artists who specialize in making art decks. Some of the past themes we've worked with have included things like "Characters in Literature", "Mythical Metamorphosis", "Secrets", and "Famous Quotes." The theme of the current swap is "Between the Worlds" and is supposed to be about anything that is a bit outside the everyday world of the five senses. After considering and discarding several ideas, I decided to do a card based on the poem "Patsy Sees a Ghost" by Lola Haskins. The poem is about one of many reasons ghosts are said to linger - to give warnings to the living. In it, Patsy is walking through the woods one day, about to cross a swollen river when she suddenly sees a woman dressed all in white. She then realizes she can see the blackberries and trumpet vines through the woman's dress. The spirit speaks to Patsy, calling her by name, and tells her if she doesn't take great care in crossing the river she'll fall in and be caught in the current and drown and be trapped there, "and you'll be gone, gone as the moment you looked up and saw the trumpet vine and berries, hot and ready through my white dress, gone as all the years since I died, and waited here for you." The card I did is supposed to represent the moment Patsy comes upon the spirit standing by the river and realizes she can see through her and that her world just slid a little sideways from everything she knew before. "Between the Worlds: Lingering Spirit"

Friday, August 11, 2006

U is for...

Time for another WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. Now here we go... U is for... United States - The country where I was born and still live. I've been to about half the states so far and hope to visit all of them eventually. USPS (United States Postal Service) - A bit of a lifeline for me as I live in Middle-of-Nowheresville. I'm a Mail Junkie! UPS (United Parcel Service) - I like them a lot too! Does it mean anything that I never have to live someplace long before the local UPS driver knows my name? (Don't answer that!) Ugly - I like some ugly things, like puppies who are so ugly they're cute, or ugly fabric that is the perfect spark to liven up a quilt once it's cute into little pieces and scattered among the prettier fabric. Pretty is, well...pretty, but think how boring it would be if there was nothing BUT pretty! Ugly adds character. Uggie (or Uggo) - How I sometimes say Ugly, because I have a very active Inner Child. Underwear - I have kind of a thing for pretty bras and underpants. I buy a lot of them. I want the tops and bottoms to match and I never buy white. Umbrella (big, cloth, waterproof) - An accessory I love, since I detest getting wet. Unless I'm naked, then it's ok. So I'm fine with showers, baths, hot tubs, etc. I can even handle getting wet in a swimsuit as long as I can change out of it and dry off pretty quickly after I'm out of the water. But I HATE getting wet in street clothes and I especially hate getting my shoes wet. It makes me grumpy. Bitchy, even. Umbrella (small, paper, colorful) - An accessory I like to see in a drink! If I can't have an umbrella, a colorful plastic sword with fruit or olives or something on it is ok too, but I like the umbrellas best. "Undead and Unwed" - The first in a series of books I like a lot. The main character is Elizabeth I, Queen of the Vampires, aka Betsy, who loves shoes and really doesn't want to be queen of anything, especially a bunch of vampires. She thinks they're icky. All the titles in the series start with "Undead and ..." They're a riot! Uh, Um, UhOh, Unbelievable! - U-words I say a lot. Understanding, Unique, Ubiquitous, Upbeat, Ululate - U-words I like. "U is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Unfinished Conversations

The prompt at Poetry Thursday this week is Unfinished Conversations. Love it! But I haven't had time to work on anything original for it since I got back in town late Monday - too much of that pesky Real Life Stuff to take care of. But it's a theme I very much want to revisit at some point. Meanwhile, I'll share a poem I like a lot by Linda Pastan. It's one I think ties loosely into the theme of the week and I've been waiting for the perfect time to share it. Maybe that day is today. An Early Afterlife "...a wise man in time of peace, shall make the necessary preparations for war." ~~~Horace Why don't we say goodbye right now in the fallacy of perfect health before whatever is going to happen happens. We could perfect our parting, like those characters in On the Beach who said farewell in the shadow of the bomb as we sat watching, young and holding hands at the movies. We could use loving words we otherwise might not have time to say. We could hold each other for hours in a quintessential dress rehearsal. Then we would just continue for however many years were left. The ragged things that are coming next - arteries closing like rivers silting over, or rampant cells stampeding us to the exit - would be like postscripts to our lives and wouldn't matter. And we would bask in an early afterlife of ordinary days, impervious to the inclement weather already in our long-range forecast. Nothing could touch us. We'd never have to say goodbye again. ~~~Linda Pastan "Sky Glow" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Weekend Getaway

Usually Wednesday is when I do my WordPlay posts, but I'm going to postpone "U is for..." until Friday so I can tell you a little about my trip while it's fresh in my mind. We went to the Smoky Mountains, specifically to Pigeon Forge, TN. No offense intended to any residents or fans of Pigeon Forge, but I have to say that is NOT my favorite destination in the Smokies. It's too crowded and there's too much traffic. Call me crazy, but when I go to the mountains I want to see, oh I dunno....mountains! In Pigeon Forge I kind of feel like I'm trapped in Outlet Mall Hell. I have a lot more fun when we go to the North Carolina side of the mountains, where it is (so far) a lot more quiet and less crowded. But the friends we meet nearly every year wanted Pigeon Forge this year, so off we went. We stayed at a log house just outside town. This was the view off the back deck. Not bad. Not the most spectacular in the world, but not bad. That photo was taken the first afternoon. Here's one taken early one morning that shows the Smokies living up to their name. The house itself was new-ish and really nice. Because J and I NEED another remodeling project now that we've finished the kitchen (HAR!) this porch gave us Ideas. You see, we have a porch about this size. Well, ours is a deck really. It's on one end of our house and it is open rather than roofed, and even though it's quite large - around 12' x 36' - we never use it because there's no shade on that end of the house and it's brutally hot out there. But sitting on this cabin's porch made us think that it might not be a super-big deal to roof ours. We could add some posts, buy some trusses and roofing, maybe a couple of ceiling fans that are rated to use on porches to stir the air on still days. We might even divide it in half and screen in one end. We both think we'd use it a lot if we just had a way to get some shade and better air circulation. Hhhmmm...Yep, we are Thinking. That's always dangerous around here. Stay tuned... We used the hot tub every night and are kind of lusting after one of those too, but we both want the porch covered more, so we aren't holding our breath on that one. (But man-oh-man did that puppy ever feel good on my back! We got in right before bed every night and slept soooooooo good.) We also kind of fell in love with this pool table down in the basement. One night J and I played Jimmy and Diane so many games I lost track. We each won a few but I lost track of who won how many. It didn't matter! We had fun. Sadly, we didn't get to do any hiking or anything. This visit was just way too short and the weather was pretty iffy every day - fairly nice in the mornings but we had some rather violet thunderstorms in the afternoons. So instead we shopped. Have I mentioned I'm not much of a shopper? Well, I'm not. Unless it's books, shoes, or OPJ (Other People's Junk - antique shops, flea markets, etc) - then I enjoy it. So did I buy anything? Yep, I bought books and shoes but no OPJ this time. I never said it was a complete loss! {grin} We also went to a Christmas shop that had a ceiling that made me go "Oooooooh". I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but those aren't painted-on stars, those are lights. I have no idea where I'd put such a ceiling, but I really like it! When we get together with this group of friends, we try to take a group photo every year and this year was no exception, but I wish we'd done it earlier. We snapped this one right before we were all ready to run out the door for home and I think we all look a little tired and grumpy. Oh well, maybe we can do better next year. Front: Johnny, Jimmy, Gerald Back: Me, Emma, Diane, Amy, Marge Anyone know what this flowering vine is? Diane is right - it's Mandevilla. I looked at Google images and the pics I saw looked exactly like this - flowers, leaves, and all. Thanks, Diane! Now I know what to look for if I want to plant some next summer! It was at the rental office and I thought it was really pretty. In fact, I thought it was so pretty, I used a photo of it to make today's Daily Art Thang: "Pretty in Pink"