Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Art - My Way

It's almost August - my favorite time of the year. First of all both of my children were born in August - the 3rd and the 5th - (and many years apart!). But the second week of August is my anual pilgramage to Columbus, OH for an awsesome convention called HOOT.

HOOT stands for Heart of Ohio Tole and while it was created and is dedicated to Tole and Decoraitve Painting, they also have classes availble in other media. Oil and watercolor classes have been a mainstay over the past years, but recently color pencil classes have been available. Last year I took 5 color pencil classes and I am signed up for 5 again this year. I can't wait!

I am taking a color pencil class with Pat Lentine. Last year I did this color pencil drawing in one of her classes. This year I'm taking a portrait of a collie. I love her children more, but the collie is a great design and she will teach how to do hair/fur. She is really a good teacher and I love her classes.

Another class I'm taking is with Marian Jackson. She is a wonderful teacher too. I had two classes with her last year and have done a packet of hers on my own. St. John's Rose was a real stretch for me and this is my second attempt. (The first attempt is long gone and hopefully was not seen by anyone!). This would have been a great class for me to take, but I couldn't get to the live one and had to settle for the packet. This is probably my favoite color pencil drawing yet, but I'm still new to this.

I am taking one acrylic class this year. It's a closeup of a deer head. My husband is very supportive of my 'hobby' and makes sure that no matter what else is going on I get to HOOT, so this one's for him. I hope I can do it justice!

If you want to see more of my work - I don't photograph much of my art - but some of it is here.

I will be sure and post my finished classes from this year too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ghost Stories - Part 2 Update

Just today, as I was desperately trying to find a photograph that I had packed away, my son (who doesn't even know I have a blog and that this is a 'current topic') picked up an old, framed portrait of an ancestor and told me that was the same man he'd talked to. I told him that man had never lived in the house and it couldn't have been him, but my son is still insisting that it is the same man. My mother said that it is one of her mother's relatives and never even lived in Georgetown. He still swears it's the same man. That puts a whole different spin on a "haunted house!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ghost Stories - Part 2

My mom's house has been her home since she was 18 years old (1945). She moved to Brazil for a 18 months (she counted every minute until she was back home) and West VA for a few months, but other than that she's been in the same house. She doesn't believe in ghosts and almost always has an explanation for what her children proclaim to be ghosts.

My first bedroom to myself was at the top of the stairs in the front of the house. It was part of the original house that was built in the late 1700's/early 1800's. I lay in bed every night and waited for the "ghost" to come up the steps. I could hear the kitchen door shut - downstairs and all the way to the back part that was added on in the 1900's. I could hear the kitchen cabinet (the old, metal type that was popular in the 1930-1940's) drawers being pulled open and closing again. I could hear the piano stings jangle as if someone were walking down the hall past the piano. And I heard them come up the steps, 1..2..3.. and so on until they got to the top step, ...21. Then all was silent and I could go to sleep. My mother wrote this all off as the "house settling". You'd think a house that was that old would have settled.

Once, when my brother was in my room, he heard the footsteps and he refused to come into my room for quite awhile after that. His room was just across the hallway from mine, but he had never heard any of it. Years later, he, his wife and daughter spent the night at my mom's house. His daughter, my daughter, and I were sleeping upstairs while he and his wife slept downstairs. About 11:30 he heard a noise and went into the kitchen to investigate. He saw a tall man, dressed in all black, walk from the outside kitchen door into the family room. However, when my brother got to the family room - a very short distance - there was no one there. He immediately ran to the front of the house and alerted me. There was no one upstairs (except us) and a search of the downstairs did not reveal anyone there either. About ten years after that, I saw the same thing while house sitting for my parents. "He" walked from the outside kitchen door into the living room as I was in the kitchen. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it and if my son hadn't been in the family room asleep, I would have run the other way. But, being a braver mom than I thought I could be, I ran to my son. As soon as I got him, I called my brother (who lived next door at that point) and said, "I saw your ghost and I'm here alone." He said "I'm coming." and hung up. He was there within minutes and stayed with me until my husband returned. No questions. He knew what he'd seen and he knew I'd seen the same thing. I think it's the same "Abraham Lincoln" man that my daughter saw a lot of and the same one my son had a conversation with a few years later.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small - More Fish Tales

I have always wanted a water garden. It just seemed so calm and beautiful with a small, bubbling pool of cool water with plants hanging over the edge of the water looking at their reflection in the water. I have read many articles and how-to's on the joys of water gardening. I have read how to make one that is fairly maintenance free. I have also heard from other people who have had one how easy they are. And, yes Jessi, I have heard how much trouble they are - from more than one person. But this is what I wanted and now I have it.

My small pond is not exactly what I have envisioned, but hey, it's a start! My little tiny, "carny" goldfish are not exactly the huge, beautiful koi that I saw swimming in my water garden. The few flowers that I did manage to get planted don't seem to want to get near the ponds edge (except for the Japanese Bloodgrass, which dips it's blooms into the water every time it rains!). But nobody ever, ever told me about how emotionally hard this is!

After resigning myself to too many fish in too small a pond, I have started feeding them huge amounts of food. I thought everyone was happy and getting along just fine. Then it started raining. My little pond got fuller and fuller. Last night I went out for one last feeding before I went to bed and noticed that the water was trickling over the edge. I got a cup and started bailing water out to lower the water level so that the cats and assorted wild animals that I have been told feed on fish ponds like mine would have a harder time getting to the fish.

Now, you need to picture this. It's almost midnight, it's drizzling rain, and I am standing in the garden barefoot bent over the pond bailing water out by the cupfuls. Also on my mind is that I am dangerously close to the driveway where my little ghost boy likes to hang out. I did announce my presence when I came out the door, but you never know if ghosts really listen - and I do have neighbors. I can't just yell to the ghosts. So, anyway, I'm bent over the pond, when I hear a noise directly behind me. Hoping it's a neighbor, I quickly straightened up and turned. Nothing. Nobody. Not a thing out there but me and the rain. OK, maybe it's a cat. I shift a little to the left so I'm a little closer to the steps and resume bailing water. I hear it again. Damn! Still nothing there, but I'm a little more cautious as I bend over. Just as I dip my cup in the pond something cold, wet, and hard hits my ankles. No, I didn't scream. I wanted to. I tried to. Nothing came out. But I did run up the steps to the safety (???) of the porch.

Now, I've seen my little ghost boy on more occasions than I want to think about, but he has never let me get more than a glimpse of him and he has never, never, ever tried to grab me. So - after my heart slowed to only twice it's normal rate - I edged my way back to the steps and peered down into the garden area. Nothing. I went into the house to get a flashlight because while the pond lights do a lovely job on the pond, they don't do much for the surrounding area. Returning to the porch with the flashlight (and desperately pleading with my ghost boy not to see him tonight) I peered over into the garden. Nothing - then something jump toward me. This time I did scream. Nobody came to my rescue; nobody even peered out of a window. OK. Well, this definitely wasn't a ghost, so I crept forward again.

This time my light was in the right place at the right time and I saw my 'huge, ugly' fish was trying to escape the garden - or find his way back to the pond. Either way, I tried to scoop him into my very small (goldfish sized) net and return him to the pond, but he was too big for the net. I ran inside and dragged my poor husband (who was sound asleep at this point) from the bed and out to rescue the fish. He tried, but it was too late.

This morning my son asked why I was outside screaming in the middle of the night. Not that he came to help me. He just wondered why. I love you too, son.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Fish

My fish tale started when my son and his girlfriend won fish for my garden pond at our county fair (first post and second post). So, my little pond has been bubbling along with my little fish colony for about a month now.

We went for a day trip on July 4 and were gone all day on July 5, so I turned the fountain pump off in order to save my electric bill, mainly because everyone tells me that my pond pump will skyrocket my bill and I have enough trouble keeping the AC going! So, without my pump going and two days of full sun, I arrived home on Monday evening to a pond of totally grass green water. Now all of my pond maintenance "expertise" is coming from magazines that say how soothing and wonderful the sound of running water is and how much you will enjoy your new water garden. It would be more enjoyable if I could see the fish.

My son decided that we needed another algae eating fish, so he purchased that (even though it made an odd number of fish in the pond, he is living with it). It can't possibly eat enough to make a difference this year. So I purchased some algae eating chemicals. They didn't work either. We are experiencing serious green stuff here people.

After having a family discussion, we decide to scoop the fish out into another container (my son was pushing for my husbands cooler), drain the pond, scrub it out and start over. My husband thought that most of this work would fall on his shoulders, so he stopped at a local bait store and asked the fishermen there for advise. I can only imagine what they thought - they live to fish. Anyway, they talked him into buying 2 more fish. I can't expain why two more fish will help, but brought them home, he did.

The first fish was a lovely (??) orange and white spotted goldfish (yes, I know they are really carp) that matches my other fish - except that he is 100 times bigger than they are. The second fish - also a carp of some kind - is just a fish. He's is brown and gray and black and my first thought was that my husband had brought home supper. He is skillet size. If we had been fishing, he would have been a keeper. In my family, he probably would be wall-worthy. But he was added to the pond and sunk into the green depths.

Now for a week I have been feeding fish like crazy because we have all of these monster fish now. Last night as I was feeding the fish (for the third time that day) I noticed a 'bubble' scooping huge amounts of food up. Upon closer examination the 'bubble' turned out to be a fish mouth. My 'ugly' fish has been scooping up all the food, leaving the other fish to starve.

No! Wait!! They have been eating my lovely $15 water lily!

In a desperate attempt to save what's left, I scooped the lily - or more accurately the roots and two leaves - into the top of the fountain, where the bubbling is threating to drown what's left. We have a serious overpopulation of aquatic life, for which there is only one solution.

Build a bigger pond! (Yeah, right!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ghost Stories - Part 1

I am stealing this thread from my daughter's blog (, but I just can't help it. My mother's house has ghosts and I love my family's ghosts! I don't want to see them, mind you, but I do love them.

One of them is a little boy (well, 8 - 12 year old) who seems to hang out around the barn. I only have caught fleeting glimpses of him, but I know that he was there. He wears brown knickers (or knee pants - whatever you call them) with suspenders, a light colored shirt and a brown checked tam. The first time I saw him I was backing out of the driveway and glanced toward the barn to get my bearings while driving backwards. I was looking out the back window again before I realized what I saw. I quickly jerked my head around again, but he was gone. All the way to my house I was trying to decide if I had really seen anything or if it was a trick of the light. About 10 miles down the road - in the darkest, most rural part of my drive - my son, who was about 3 and sitting in his car seat beside me (it was a truck - I don't put car seats in the front otherwise!), says "Mom, what is he saying?" Now you have to understand that the only two people in the car/truck was me - who was silently trying not to freak out - and my son.

With the hair starting to stand up on the back of my head, I asked "Who said what?" He points to the space between us and says "Him."

Now, I don't know how I kept the car/truck on the road, but I knew I wasn't going to continue on with a ghost in the truck. I was looking for a place to abandon the truck and trying to figure out how I was going to walk the rest of the way home with my child. My darling son, who then started singing with the radio, "Country boys and girls getting down on the farm." Whew!!!

However, my little ghost boy has been back several more times. Almost like he's taunting me. Just a glimpse, but enough to know he's there. Since I have moved back to the farm, I try to stay indoors after dark, but there are times I must go outside. I walk out the door, close my eyes, and yell - "OK, I have to come out here, but please don't let me see anyone!" So far they have listened to me and I haven't seen anyone, but I never know.

And yes, my husband, who doesn't believe any of this, thinks I'm crazy! But my son, who has had a conversation with my daughter's Abraham Lincoln looking ghost/man, totally gets it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back Seat Driving

I always got to drive because my dear, sweet husband decided that it was easier to let me drive than to listen to me tell him how to drive. Then he bought a standard shift. I try really hard, but it's easier for me to tell him what to do than it is to drive with a clutch.

Then my son started driving. I was supposed to be teaching right? So, I told him what to do. He's been driving for almost 2 years now, but I still have to tell him to slow down, don't tailgate, the roads wet so you have to allow for more stopping room. Geeze, don't they understand that I'm only trying to help?!?!

This weekend we went to Tennessee - down the interstate and then down a curvy, country road that went around a mountain. My son drove. Now it wasn't that he was going fast, but he already has one speeding ticket and if he gets one more they will take his license. So, I kept warning him (ok, so did the radar detector) to slow down. Then we hit the mountain road. Those curves are deceiving - you need to approach them slowly - right?

I don't know why he got so testy! Mom was only trying to help.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Working Vacation

The last two weeks I have been 'boss-less'. He was on a 2 week trip with his horse (and his wife, another couple, and a friend) to California. I should have had an easy two weeks - right? Nope! I think I have worked harder and been more stressed than I was the week before he left.

I used to look forward to his trips. I got caught up on filing, cleaned up my desk a little, and did a lot of Internet surfing. But something has happened. Now when he leaves I seem to have more to do than when he is here. This time, I didn't look up the entire first week he was gone. Seriously, one day I was an hour late going to lunch and another I missed lunch completely. On Friday, I worked until 5:10 finishing up, but at least I had a clean start on Monday. What happened?!?!? It's now Thursday and I am not finished with my to-do list. I have worked very hard and I have crossed off a lot of stuff, but it's not done. There has not been any Internet surfing - you can check! - and I still have a good 3 days of work left to do in the 1 day that I have. The only thing good that I can say about this week is that the phone has not rung!

I think I will need to take a vacation to recover from his vacation! Do you think he'll buy that??