Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mrs. Renard and Ellie become an ornament..

Available in my etsy shop. Only three available right now!

A sort of mood...

The morning was born with a sparkling icy mist, which soon burned away into a crisp, biting cold sun-kissed afternoon. Outside the osteal trees held occasional puffy birds, who’d lighted upon the skeletal branches for a rest.

In the drawing room; the fire snapped and popped energetically in the hearth. It had burned all day. In it, slabs of the large limb of the apple tree that had succumbed to the weight of the winter snow sported the flames with enthusiasm, pouring fragrant warmth out onto the fender where father’s feet rested. The soft snores from the wingback chair quietly reminded the others of his presence in the drawing room.

The sun cast itself though the leaded panes and brought surprising warmth onto the woolen rug where Ellie chose to play. Clasping her dearest friend Bearlina, she followed the rectangle of sun. Across from slumbering father, Mother’s sat on her elegant, worn chair, her hands moving with purpose and stealth, moving, twisting, plaiting and clicking the bobbins on her lace-pillow, which bristled with pins.

Interrupted only once, by the delivery of a tray of tea and cakes, the afternoon wore on. Ellie and Bearlina played until the sun patch climbed up the back of father’s chair, and then she sat on the floor in front of her mother and father near the fire. She propped Bearlina up against the fender where she would collect and store the cozy warmth for later enjoyment. There, Ellie admired the pages of her most beloved book, closely studying its delightful illustrations, occasionally sharing her favourite ones with the ever watchful, silent and toasty Bearlina.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Snowy Sunday.

Home in solitude, the three of us are huddled inside, watching the cold day progress. It's really quiet today.
I took the dogs out and brought the camera. I do take a lot of photos of the snow it seems, but it's like I feel compelled to capture the tranquility of it all. Even though it was a meager snowfall, less than 3 inches at most, it was just enough to clean up winter's mess, and to muffle the sounds of the day. Our christmas tree looks vibrant and alive. I hope it remains so until we can plant it.
The birds are all somewhere else. Husband hasn't been around to fill the feeders, and for some reason I can't bring myself to do it for him; as if by doing it, I'm making him less needed. What a silly notion.
This pine tree looks like how I feel lately.
In summer afternoons I like to sit on this bench underneath the huge leaves of the large-leaf maple bush behind it, and listen to the birds and the river. Now it looks so ghostly and alone.

The dogs were all too pleased to go inside, and stood by the door impatiently while I took a few more pictures.
Flower went straight to the fireplace. She has the right idea. A nice warm breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato slices, some lox salmon and a mini-bagel with cream cheese to top it off, plus some tea blended by my dear friend's mother... This is a good Sunday.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I wanted to stop and take note; to mark it down, to put into words as best I can the sense of pride I feel today. I grump a lot about my country; that's my prerogative as an American... however today, I can only feel powerful pride in my country; particularly in my fellow countrymen.

The knowledge that our young country has achieved what countless, much older, much 'wiser' cultures still have yet accomplish; overcome what other countries still cannot overcome... to subdue unneeded prejudice.... within a single generation... enough so that it has allowed us to elect an African American into the highest office. It's almost hard to grasp. Almost hard to believe.


I am so proud, that the inauguration moved me to tears today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold toes, sniffly nose, so much more left to go.

Oh the wind. The bloody wind, it's driving me to lunacy. This weekend was an exercise in patience. The horrific winds wreaked havoc with the power, and all Saturday and Sunday it was on and off throughout the day and night. My dishwasher, sewing machine, washer and dryer, and my computer suffered abominably for it. It took me a full day and a half to do chores that would normally take a couple of hours... I got no sewing done at all, and anything I did on the computer was subject to instant loss, so I had to simply turn it off for the most part of the weekend. Most annoying. I even had half-boiled eggs at one point.

The good thing is that I got some reading done. And I traced some patterns. I was unable to shower, so I certainly didn't want to leave the house, I felt yucky. I cuddled with dogs by the fire, read, watched some TV between power-lapses, and accepted phone calls when they were able to go through. I was going to take a trip down to visit grandma on Sunday, but I felt so icky, I didn't want to leave until I could shower. When power did come back on long enough to heat up the water-heater again, it was too late to do anything.

THEN, I had to get up this morning at 3:30 AM so I could be at work for 5:30 to train some graveyard shift employees. I dream of the day I can wake up for my own business, wake up to do something I *want* to do, something I *love* to do. Mondays are already yucky enough as it is, starting them at the wee hours of the morning makes them infinitely worse.

And the wind howls on. Branches fly off, birds huddle in crannies, puffed up like pom-poms, my toes are perpetually frozen, my nose is running... The one good thing about all this is that at 2PM, I get to go home because my day started so inordinately early. Score! I can stop on the way home to grab some essentials. I do dislike grocery shopping. I much prefer fabric shopping, and that would do wonders for my Monday mood. ::sighs:: I *must* behave, though. No more fabric until I've done something with the piles I already have. For projects, I have (in no particular order):

1) midnight blue silk velvet, 7 yards (robe for regency gown)
2) 7 yards sheer cotton plaid (black and white with lavender pinstripes) (Regency day gown)
3) 1.5 yards of striped silk taffetta (remnant) (Spencer for friend or possible sale)
4) Muslin-a-palooza (need: petticoat, new shift)
5) cotton damask (5 yards) blue (spencer for me)
6) custom embroidered sheer fabric (white gown). OH, and I have one unfinished full-length regency busk corset to get done.
7) white muslin (6 yards) for a friend's regency gown.
8)1.5 yards lovely red silky fabric for spencer for another friend.

And here I want to shop for more fabric? No wonder my husband calls it 'the craft-house!'.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Sun.

Today is spectacular. Chilly, yes, but the light is so bright, and the colours so vibrant it's hard to stay indoors. It was really foggy driving in. The heather in the little water-wise garden outside our office is already blooming. It's so nice to see something bloom in January. I love Oregon for that. Things stay green and vibrant. Even the twigs seem full of life for some reason.

It's hard to believe it was snowing so hard only two weeks ago. There's still snow up where I live, but down in Portland, there's hardly any evidence that the 40-year-record snow had ever happened at all.

Hubby and I have been trying to refinance our home, and our loan was approved today with surprisingly little muss or fuss. I'm wondering why that is, considering how everyone is panicking about being able to secure a new loan in this economy. My sister, whose credit is pristine, had to jump through some serious hoops to get funding. I'm thinking that perhaps it's because her houses are about 2 to 3 times as expensive as our tiny little cottage. A small loan like hours is probably no huge worry to a mortgage company, whose clients are defaulting on $500,000+ loans. We are not perfect, (our credit scores are proof of that), but we managed to scrape through with payments on time, so that made a big difference). I don't know. I'm just glad it turned out okay, and that we have a nice 30-year fixed to ease my worries.

The house appraised for $50,000 more than what we owe. That's a good feeling, considering the current state of the the real-estate market. Where we live there isn't as much 'depression' in property values, but it's been a concern. At one point, on Zillow 'valued' our house at double the amount we paid for it; after only 2 years? Laughable. It seems almost ridiculous to me that anyone could expect that kind of return on a sale, and even worse, that someone would be able to secure a loan on that kind of inflated value. If we'd sold our house for that zillow price, whoever bought it at that price then would be hurting today if they were trying to refinance. It's odd.

I suppose we did okay. Despite the sulfur and the sandy soil, our house has proven to be a good investment, both for peace of mind and also as a savings account of sorts. Maybe that's why it seems so much 'sunnier' today. The weight of the mortgage has been eased, the house still has value, we bought smart and we love our home; and yeah, the sky is blue, and even though it's mid-January... it's like Spring out there.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy Friday ::yawn::

I'm SO tired. I'm even whiny about it. It's been a long week, and I've been very down to be honest with you. I don't know why my husband's absence seems harder than it usually is, especially with the prospect that he is not going to be gone half as long, and when he comes back, it may be some time before he's dispatched again, so that's a good thing, right? I can't seem to overcome this funk, I don't know why. Maybe it's because he was home for an inordinately long time (a lot longer than the usual six days) during the holiday, and I got a taste of the normality that I am so used to... I dunno.

Yesterday, I spent the better part of my day at the hospital with his 84-year-old grandmother. I never had grandparents involved in my life as a child, they'd long since passed away when I was born. I've inherited two grandmas in marrying my husband. Grandma Georgia, the Paternal grandmother is yes, a hellacious pain in the rear, but I do adore her to a point of no return, even if sometimes I feel like I want to sell her to the Arabs. She's a southern lady, strong-headed farmer's daughter with a frankness I can only respect. She has these bright blue eyes, and is just as feisty as feisty can be. The nurses at the hospital kept expressing their wonder at her health, test after test. She's a tough old bird. A 100lb bag of twigs, but still as tough as can be. She does have a blindness to the failings of certain family members, but who wouldn't? Her daughter and live-in caretaker passed away two years ago, and she's been pretty much on her own since.

My husband had assumed the better part of her care before he took the field job. He took her shopping, to get her haircut, ran errands for her... Now that he's gone, his half-brother and sister-in-law have assumed some of those tasks, albeit begrudgingly. They asked me to take her to a day surgery yesterday. I took a day off work to do so, and drove down to pick her up, driving her into the heart of North Portland in order to have a procedure done.

Grandma was really nervous, very hungry, thirsty and grumpy. She also freaked out that I took the freeway... "[Sister-in-law] never takes the freeway, she avoids it like the plague.." she tells me in her Alabama twang. I smiled at her and sigh, letting my foot off the accelerator just a smidge. I forgo passing a massive truck, and am stuck behind it for a while.

The prep for the surgery took HOURS. Poor grandma just wanted food. "I really want a big ol' hamburger.." she told me. I fussed over her, tried to keep her from getting off the bed all the time, packed her things up neatly into plastic bags, managed her hearing aid, eyeglasses and dentures, helped her keep her paper gown closed as we shuffled to the restroom. She was terrified I was going to leave her. I kept assuring her otherwise but she kept asking if I'd be there. I told her I'd wait for her during the surgery; having not eaten anything all day either, I was looking forward to the break to sneak to the cafeteria for a fast meal... She basked in the attention of the really great nurses and then finally, they wheeled her off to surgery.

She was getting a shunt placed from her cranium to her abdomen to drain off some excess fluids that were putting pressure on her brain. I was nervous. She is 84 after all. I hoovered a bad dinner, rushed to my car to move it to the main entrance, and then sat waiting for another hour for the surgery to end. The doc arrived to declare success, and another hour and a half later, she was out of recovery and on her way to an overnight room. The first thing she did when she woke up was to declare her relief at seeing me, calling me a doll. She clutched my hand with her papery digits, and worked through all the discomforts and discoveries of post-op. A shot of morphine got her settled down enough that I could leave; but only under the conditions that I phone her when I arrive safely at home. An hour later, I called her room, and she answered the phone with a measure of clarity that I was surprised by. She really is a tough little thing. She isn't supposed to be this coherent, in fact, I was told her body would likely be slow to process the toxins from the anesthetic because of her age. Oh no, she's quite perky and verbose.

I got home at 10:45 PM. I fed the dogs a late meal, let them out, and then lay in bed trying to convince Simon that no, this wasn't a good time to play Woobie-tug-o-war. He was not happy, and refused to settle down. It took every fibre of my being to peel myself out of bed this morning. I kept hitting snooze for about an hour, giving myself a whopping 15 minutes to get ready. I know, very bad. I will be happy to welcome the end of the day today, that's all I have to say.

Even my office special is muddy and sloppy. :(

I suppose a good thing out of all this, is that the Trader Joe's Pound Plus of Milk Chocolate remains untouched still, plopped unceremoniously on the stove's flat-top, glowering at me. Maybe I deserve to break a little square off tonight, and to melt it on my tongue with my eyes closed. Friday, and Chocolate. Lovely things both.

Happy Friday all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A questionable start to the year...

Yesterday, in an act of desperation, I sought comfort after dropping my husband off at the airport by stopping at Trader Joe's and bought a "Pound Plus" (17+ ounces) bar of Belgian Milk Chocolate. I grabbed it on impulse as I dashed through the aisle, and lay it on top of my boxes of tea and the bag of tangerines. I call it the "My Husband Just Left Again For The Field So I Want To Eat A Pound Of Chocolate Because I Don't Like Feeling Lonely," Chocolate Bar.

Now it hunkers cruelly on my kitchen counter, unopened. It taunts me. It said some very shocking things to me when I left the house this morning. That evil chunk of delicious chocolate... Oh the humanity. Last night, after my extreeeeeeeemly boring dinner of skinless chicken breast and salad, the Evil Bar of Chocolate gloated at me from the countertop, smugly emanating the radiant numminess that comprises its being, and sang to me like a siren perched on chocolate rocks licked by waves of liquid chocolate in an ocean of chocolate.

I am tempted to hide it, but I will know where it is. So I just leave it there to tempt me. Will I withstand its lure? I do not know.

More later perhaps. I'm determined to do an "Office Special" today. I haven't created anything new in a few weeks. I blame the holidays and the snow. ;)


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