The “Me” Mosaic

It’s a game. You enter info about yourself into a Flickr search and you get your mosaic. This is me:

You can find instructions here.

with credit to the sources:

1. For Amy Nelder, 2. comfort food !;-), 3. Pimlico’s Premier Pugilist, 4. Autumn’s colours !, 5. The midnight fantasy (365/96), 6. 365 / 212 – 320 pieces of Felt, 7. South Beach Sisters, 8. Pagoa III (Haya), 9. Felted Sweater Knitting Basket, 10. llibreria – bookstore – Amsterdam – HDR, 11. Life is Real, 12. green apple

When Love and Fear Collide

Here we are, a lovely day in August in Virginia.  I know, right?  That sounds so unlike me to say that.  It’s because it’s low 70’s and overcast (we’re desperate for rain!!!) and there’s a nice little breeze and I have spent the day making some cute little fabric yo yo’s (they’re not the toy kind – they are more like little decorative fabric swirlies) with some scraps I have left over from other projects.  There are 3 big Yankee Candles going so the house smells lovely (a combo of Cafe Au Lait, Good Morning, and Blueberry Scone).  My new Cooking Light came in the mail.  And we spotted about half a dozen wild turkeys in the backyard this afternoon.  I tried to get a picture, but alas, they were too fast.  Our neighbor’s cat was out there as well, but I could tell she was rethinking her plan to play with those particular birdies.  They ambled off back further into the woods and I couldn’t properly follow since it is still summer afterall, and there is still a bit of thicket going on that is difficult to navigate.  All I could think as I headed back to the house was Darn!  I could’ve had some Thanksgiving dinner there! Oh well.  Not that I’d actually be able to take one of them down.  I just wouldn’t be able to hunt unless I absolutely had to.  Which is why when I get my chickens I will be using them for their eggs and not their meat.  I don’t think I could butcher an animal I’d been caring for.  Now if someone brought me something they had killed that was already dead and I didn’t have to feel guilty and be the reason it had to die….well then that’s different.  I am probably a total hypocrite, but hey.

Anyway my day was going pretty well, despite the dog poop.  Yes, for those of you that are wondering – I am still dealing with the occasional poop.  Like after I brought Pippa back inside this morning after her outdoor bm and she promptly did another loose one on my wood floor right inside my front door.  She’s “had the squirts” as Paul ever so delicately said, all day today, so she’ll be getting a nice immodium pill in her dinner.  But that isn’t what killed my lovely almost – fall day.  What killed it was that in the middle of enjoying the lovely outdoors and picking some squash while Neve frolicked on the swingset and I was reveling in the weather, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  Caterpillar?  There are plenty of those around my veggies, as well as bees and various types of beetles.  So I casually looked up.  And about a foot from my right hand I saw:

I jumped.  I screamed.  I swore.  I cried.  I got chills and goosebumps.  And I most certainly did NOT take this picture.  Paul did.  Right before he doused the sucker with that most trusted of resources,  brake parts cleaner.  A LOT.  And then whacked it repeatedly with the can.  Even Paul was impressed by its size.  All I could think of was the banana spiders we used to see when I lived on Guam back in the day.  Of course they had blue on them as well as the yellow, but this guy was the right size anyway.  HUGE.  That is a technical term, btw.  I get the willies just looking at the picture.  I think the children may be scarred for life.  Emily declared she would never set foot outside again.  I am not sure I want to either!!!!  I can tell you I’ll have a hard time reaching into the garden now!

It’s the Great Pumpkin

Or, rather, it’s the first pumpkin.  I have been checking on all of our lovely green pumpkins daily, and I saw that this one had turned mostly orange.  It didn’t really look quite ready, but the stem was turning brown and dried out and so I figured it was time to pick it, lest it fall victim to mold, pests or what have you (the stink bugs here are just awful right now).  Neve happened to be out with me and was thrilled to carry it back to the house and announce to everyone that the first pumpkin had been picked.

We are all hoping this will be but the first of many.  We haven’t had rain in weeks and everything is looking rather sad, so I don’t know.  Cross your fingers!

Next year we’ll be clearing out a larger tract of land that will serve as the pumpkin patch.  I’d like to have enough that I can invite the whole neighborhood every year to pick a pumpkin and have a jack o’lantern carving party complete with hot apple cider and cinnamon donuts (and caramel apples maybe?).  This year I’ll do it on a smaller scale with a few friends that have kids, but I can’t do it up big this year since I don’t have enough pumpkins and it would get too expensive to buy that many.  But I am planning, and it will be fun.

We spent a lovely weekend with friends and taking the kids all over the place so it was busy busy!  No crafting done!  Oh well.  But the girls got to help out at the local animal shelter with their brownie troops on Saturday – we almost came home with a kitten …good thing we’re too broke right now!!!!  Then Emily was off to a pool party for her friend’s birthday, and then later she went to a sleepover.  Big day!  Sunday we all went to Alex’s house to hang out and have dinner and let the kids play and go nuts.  While we were there the best thing happened:  Paul put all the men to work clearing out Alex’s garage and everyone got to see first hand just what a taskmaster/slave driver my husband is.  It was quite vindicating that now they believe me when I say he can be really rough to live with!  And Paul had a great time without getting all greasy.  Amazing.

Oona got another cake for her birthday – Alex made it, along with a yummy blueberry tart – and she loved it.  She was also trying like mad to get the whole walking thing mastered.  They grow up too fast.  Sigh.

Happy Birthday Oona

I can’t believe my sweet little baby is already a year old.  Why must they grow so fast????  Just yesterday it seems we were bringing her home from the hospital, all cute and small and cuddly and sleepy.

She was so teeny tiny at not quite 7 lbs!  It’s terrible what thinking about little babies will do to you.  I hated being pregnant, I hate labor, but I love my little newborns! If only you could freeze that moment and enjoy it for awhile before the whole sleep deprivation sets in and 6 months go by in a total fog.

Now she is a full year old with 8 teeth and starting to figure out the whole walking thing.  She took 4 steps today and was so proud of herself!  Happy birthday my little snuggler!

Knit Like You Mean It, and Hotel in Pictures

With apologies to all my friends and family that are no doubt feeling neglected and ignored lately. I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress I continue to make on everything. Having the older girls gone at school during the day has switched the motivation button in me to the “on” position, and though I am still frustrated in my attempts by a very mobile Oona, I am determined to get some stuff done by the end of the year, dammit. And to give you an idea what I am up against, I have started a small list of my projects.

First is this small corner of my knitting backup:

Each of these lovely yarn bundles represents days, if not weeks, of knitting to do. And remember, this is but a small slice of what’s in my yarn cabinet.

Then there’s quilt #1 for the play room.

You see that? I am hand quilting it. That small area inside the hoop took all week. And I have at least 3 more quilts to do after this one (I stopped using the machine because I like the control I get with doing it by hand better).

I still have to refinish Emily’s dresser and paint her room, I am way behind with the paintings I have outlined, and don’t even ask where I am with scrapbooking and picture archiving. Oona’s baby book? Yeah right. Yard work? So not been seen to in weeks. It’s all avalanching on me. Weekends are the worst because the older girls are home and I am still on baby duty without a break.

So all of you not hearing from me? Don’t take it personal. I’m just trying to gain back some modest amount of control over my life.

The good news around these parts is that my hotel was indeed purchased and my grandmother has even met with the new owners. Apparently it is a lawyer from Long Island and his family who bought it sight unseen hoping to use it as a vacation home. (!!!!!) But, now that they have seen it and realize it’s a commercial property they have begun to get work done on it and have plans to get it open for the spring season. It’s so exciting! I couldn’t be happier that the Genesee Falls Inn is getting a second chance at life, though I must admit it is still weird to see it owned by someone else – it’ll be hard to see it looking different than what I grew up with. And speaking of, I scanned some pictures to share. Some of them are old and were taken with a crappy camera, so bear with me!

The Genesee Falls Inn – Portageville, NY

Front view, in winter. The hotel was closed in the winter, but the bar was open all year.

Portageville from above. Yup. That’s pretty much the whole town. Notice the Genesee River behind the hotel? We spent a lot of time out there, catching crayfish and walking down to the falls in the park.

My grandparents, out front, circa 1980 something.

My brother and I playing on the stairs

Room 4, which was usually where I stayed, since it had no bathroom of its own and wasn’t as desirable for renting to guests (the place was built in 1870, so…….)

Room 3 was my favorite room. I thought it was very pretty and feminine. It was also one of the few rooms that didn’t require a walk down the creepy hallway where most of the other rooms were. My grandfather always said it was nonsense, but I swear that place is haunted.

Room 5, another great room with a beautiful brass bed. My grandparents did a great job keeping up with the Victorian look and feel of the hotel.

Wish I had a better picture of the formal dining room- it has red and gold velvet wallpaper and the same mosaic tile floor that is in the lobby. This was taken after it had been “abandoned” by the man who bought it from my grandparents. My aunt had her wedding reception here.

Me washing dishes, about age 14.

This was from the last Thanksgiving that was held at the hotel. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been there for it – I think it also may have been the ONLY Thanksgiving I was there. Both my aunt Patty and my grandfather have since passed away.

Looking toward the front door, the last time I was there. It had been emptied of all its belongings (I always thought the antique furniture and other trappings belonged to the hotel, and should never have been taken out). It was a depressing site, to be sure. Hopefully the new owners will breathe new life into it.

View from Inspiration Point, Letchworth State Park, “right around the corner” from the hotel. We spent a whole lot of time in the park. You can barely make out the train bridge in the background. It’s about 200 or so feet up off the river over the gorge. We took walks over it quite often. My grandparents most evenings would cross the river behind the hotel, take the path through the woods that led to this bridge, cross the trestle and walk back to the hotel through the park. Then they’d return for the dinner rush.

Hope you enjoyed these. I have been thinking about my grandfather a lot lately and how much I miss him. I also need to call my grandmother more often. And I have also just decided I am making buffalo wings for dinner, because seeing the pictured brings back all the memories and smells of the place, like the aroma of wings cooking in the kitchen. And peeps, let me tell you. My grandmother had the authentic Buffalo Wing recipe. (Well, the hotel is not far from Buffalo, so of course!) Yummy!

It’s Late And I’m Feeling A Bit Punchy

Poor Oona just wants to be held. She’s not fully awake but not asleep……probably won’t be for awhile. And it got me thinking how grateful I am to not be working a regular job. I have no one here to help out so if I were up all night I’d be SOL and very tired at work. Yay for being a totally broke SAHM!!!!

And that got me thinking about my last job and the people I worked with and how some of them I really miss seeing on a daily basis. There’s the occasional run – in at Target or what have you, but it’s not the same. Of course, I also had some unpleasant times as well, and that soured the whole darn experience, unfortunately. It’s sad, really. I left because I was pregnant with Oona and my salary barely covered daycare and after care for 2; there’s no way I’d make ends meet with 3. Still, had things been working better I might have found a way to stay. But I had two bosses, and though one was a phenomenal woman I will always look up to, one was, well…..not. So bad that I still have nightmares because my brain has clearly not come to terms with all the times I couldn’t properly defend myself to false accusations and repeated requests for things I had done like 45 times already! You can’t scream It’s attached in 3 emails to you and in several copies in your inbox – open your damn eyes! to someone in a superior position. You can’t call them out on unprofessional behavior when it’s non quantifiable and hard to prove. I don’t know why she didn’t like me, and I asked around to many other co-workers if I was really that unprofessional and bad at my job. Had anyone of them agreed with that woman, I’d have done my level best to improve. But I had no complaints. In fact my team was always very complimentary. But, that is way work is sometimes. There are some people you just can’t work with if you don’ mesh well. Like my spouse. We live together, that’s enough. We’d kill each other if we worked together, married or not!!!!

I guess what I am thinking here is that yes, it can be frustrating to be broke and be low on art supplies and bogged down with kids. But even so it’s late here and I am not worried because tomorrow I can get my older girls to the bus stop in my jammies. I can even nap with Oona after lunch! And I can find enough here to keep me inspired and energized and ready to create and design whatever I want. That’s what keeps me happy and sane and glad to be where I am. Plus I am an introvert, which as Crazy Aunt Pearl correctly points out, means that I get my energy and happiness from time spent in solitude (no, I’m not anti-social!!! I just need my alone time is all!!!)

And the yarn. oooooooo the yarn! I went a bit overboard buying yarn last year and I still have enough for several projects I haven’t yet started, nevermind everything that is OTN right now. All I need is a fabric budget to put to work what’s in my head and I’ll be all set!!!!

As a side note, it would also be great if Oona didn’t insist on biting me with her 7 very sharp teeth at every turn. Here I am thinking she’s nursing herself into a peaceful sleep when CHOMP!!!!

Crap

Yup.  Crap.

It’s 6:30 pm and Oona’s napping.  Which means she’ll be up ’till lord knows when.

And then there’s the actual crap I’ve been cleaning out of Emily’s room.  It’s from her hamster and it’s everywhere.  Also under her bed I found an old blackened banana, half a Heath Bar, many hundred old jellybeans, some ABC gum, several used and wadded up tissues, and 8 tons of other random trash.  It’s a damn good thing the cats like it under there so much or we’d no doubt have RATS in there.  Sheesh.

I’m not really in a bad mood, but since this post seems to be a whine fest let me add that I hate my unreliable satellite system and I need fabric.

But two things made me happy today.  The first is the morning glories that reseeded themselves from last year (I didn’t plant any this year, because even though they are my favorites, Paul doesn’t like the way they vine around the porch).  They grew up despite Paul’s aggressive weed whacking and are blooming on the side porch.

The second is a promise of fall just around the corner in the form of some beautiful little pumpkins in my garden.  I wonder how big they’ll get!

The Ick Strikes Again

We survived the first day of school. Emily really likes her teacher so far and has been coming home happy every day. Neve’s first day was likewise a success. She said she didn’t want to come home! She was so cute in the morning in the dress I made her and her sweater and backpack.

She loved riding the bus and waved happily goodbye as it took her off to start a new chapter in her life.

As for me it has been wonderfully relaxing! Oona is so easy and when it’s just us two I feel like I can be more productive. It was almost luxurious. Even the cat was lounging about with impunity, no big kids to manhandle or chase her. I had agreeable purry company all day. It’s been quite awhile since that has happened!

Unfortunately we’ve all been slammed with the Ick. Runny, stuffy noses, scratchy throats, achiness……….it stinks. And this week of all weeks! Poor kids.

I’ve been making sock progress.

I hope to at least turn the heel on this today. I won’t be doing much else since I’m not feeling well. Even Oona’s been grumpy with it. I keep having to use the nasal aspirator on her to suck out all the gunk and she HATES it. But she can’t blow her nose and with all that thick crap in there she’s not breathing well, so it’s got to be done. That’s made her very cranky. But you wouldn’t have known it yesterday in her cute stripey outfit and ultrasonic crawling speed.

Right now she’s all crusty nosed asleep on my lap, making the prospects of a foray into the kitchen for a second cup of coffee dim. So instead I’ll leave you with the “impossible”. A picture of Emily touching her tongue to her elbow.

And they said it couldn’t be done!

Creature Feature, Late Summer Edition

Plus, a proper introduction.

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve had a decent post, but let me tell you. It has been CRAZYINSANE around here. Emily had a birthday party over the weekend (more on that later) and started school today, and Neve starts kindergarten tomorrow (more on that later as well!)

But first things first. I like to keep y’all updated on my creature situation, since I like to spend a lot of time complaining about it. In fact whenever we are up north during the summer months I also like to remark frequently to anyone who’ll listen about the novelty of the lack of insidious spider webs and bug litter everywhere. Here it is a staple of the landscape. In New England it is, for the most part, wonderfully absent. BUt I digress. I am here to give you a sampling of the last few months worth of creatures from around the home. There’s been a dreadful lack of frogs and toads this year, I am afraid, but some other beasts of interest anyway.

Firstly I bring you Mr. Skink.

These little buggers are everywhere this year, and they are fast. And quite elusive. Took me forever to catch one on camera. We have one or eight that live under the siding around the garage door, and another family near the heat pumps. They’re pretty cool looking, they have neat bright blue tails (not so evident in this picture) and I hear they eat bugs like termites. Yay! GO skinks!

Then of course we have Mr. BigScarySpider. This is the one that was living in the air compressor shed out back and tried to pay me a visit while I was on the back deck grilling dinner. This is after he’s been shot with Brake Parts Cleaner (the best stuff for bugs, really. It kills almost immediately and completely evaporates so there is no residue. Plus since I live with a weekend mechanic there’s always tons on hand) and he’s been stepped on for good measure, but still you can see he’s an impressive size. I’d say about 4.5″ in diameter at least.

Speaking of creepy crawlies and Brake Parts Cleaner…….Paul used some on an attempted house guest one night. You see, he was sitting at his computer working into the wee hours when he heard someone rapping at the back door insistently as if to say Dude! Let me in! My ride broke down and I need to use your phone!!! When he went to the door he decided that this unlucky soul needed a good shot with the automotive miracle spray:

Dude – he fills up the entire bottom of a full sized Vitamin Water bottle. Word on the street is he was a dung beetle. Paul said he thought this guy was scarier than any spider due to the many tiny barbs on his many legs. But no….to me a beetle is just an ugly bug, no matter how big. A spider is still horror creature numero uno.

Of course all summer with the gardening I’ve had to deal with the random arachnids, stink bugs and caterpillars that took up residence in my vegetables, as well as the many bees that like the flowers, and most especially my sunflower, which is really starting to look impressive, and is probably about 8 feet tall now.

See that bee hanging out there? I got pretty close but he didn’t seem to mind. Whatever kind they are they’ve pretty much left me alone as long as I’ve left them alone.

We haven’t had a great number of birds this year, which I have found rather disappointing. I don’t know why – maybe I need to change up the food a bit. I do see a downy woodpecker or two fairly regularly though.

And once I bought the kind of suet that has meal worms in it, just to see what we’d get. And here’s the answer:

We had a lot of noisy blue jay action. And that suet was gone in no time at all. By and large however it seems that the moths outnumber the birds we’ve had hanging around. And many a morning we’ve had a luna moth or two stuck to the screens. Like this one in Emily’s hand:

Man those things are fat!!! But Emily loves them, and all other things furry as well. Which brings us now to our introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, please say hello to Vicki the hamster (named after my mother, who bought the little furball for Emily).

She is totally sweet, uber soft, and always Cute Overload worthy.  And for Emily it has been a total love fest.

For the record, I’ve been referring to the hamster as “Squeakers McHamm-hamm” because since Vicki is my mother’s name there is just something really wrong about saying, “Hey, take Vicki – she just pooped in my hand”