Monday, August 27, 2007

The Grand Fountain Installation

We've been pretty pleased with the pond. I thought it looked nice, even like this, but the idea of a fountain was pretty attractive. So, fools that we are... At least this time Dear Husband didn't have me hold onto a rope around his waist. Here's the before:

Step one, during:

Step 2, during (no, he's not picking his nose, his mouth is his tool holder):

Step 3, during:

Step 4, during (wave to the crowd, honey):

Ahhhh, success!

After, same view:

Love this angle:

And this shows a little framing with some foreground greenery:

And it's lighted! Here's the night shot:

In other news, the elephant ears are healthy (see Como in the door?):

And Cosmo in the window? (This one's for you, Kai):
And a pink rose...just one. (I needed a macro shot for Judi):

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Hormone War

I'm at war with my GYN. He doesn't know it yet, but I'm gearing up for a fresh assault come September, and I'm loaded with evidence. The very fact that I'm wide awake and restless (and hot) at 2:38 am ought to be enough evidence for anyone. But I have a list of evidence, a litany of complaints, and a zinger closing argument.

This is a different woman than the one he saw about a year ago. That woman was pitiful and compliant; oh, please don't take away my HRT. I've needed it since that hysterectomy when I was a baby of 36 years. I was told then I could stay on it forever...and don't you know that until we got it balanced at that time, I was a maniac...a lunatic...a woman who prior to that had never had a single instance of PMS, and was transformed into a shrieking, door-slamming, crying-with-snot-running-down-my-face (listen to this) employee? That's right, I wasn't doing this at home, I was doing this in the office. An office full of suited, sophisticated, driven, stock market types. See, now I'm married to the love of my life, and I don't want to go back to that, so please don't take me off the HRT, I don't care if I'm the "normal" age for menopause.

He relented, he gave me the absolute lowest dose possible, and told me that I'd have to be weaned eventually, but he could put me on anti-depressants. Why is that better, I rage mentally. But being compliant, and not wanting the doc to take away my prescription, (what power he has over this hormone junkie!) I nod.

The thing is isn't enough. In the past year, my skin has gone dry and crepe-like. Over the winter, with the furnace running, I itched so badly I was scratching and rubbing like a bear on a tree. Then I noticed my finger nails have gone dry and ridgey. Then it started affecting my, I'm not slamming doors. Let's just say other things have gone dry and ridgey, and maybe leave it at that. My beloved contact lenses, the things that have saved me from peering through mere little portals of good vision, providing perfect vision even when I open the steaming dishwasher, or come in to the warm house from shoveling snow, have also betrayed me. My eyes are dry enough now to feel like I always have a layer of grit under the lids. Oh, and hair! Not just the stuff on my head (which used to get colored for fun, and body, and texture and now gets colored for gray), but the stuff growing where it never grew before! Who gets a rogue whisker in the middle of their eyebrow? And forget a soft fuzz over the lip, the kind that makes those "Got Milk" commercials so appealing. I'm plucking and trimming in places I never DREAMED could grow hair.

But this is the worst - the waking in the middle of the night, the tossing and fidgeting and inability to cool down. If I do drift off again, I wake groggy and ornery and moving slowly, dreading the day at the office, and wondering if anyone will notice that at 2 PM, I need a nap. Me, Sue, the person who napped only during pregnancies and no other time in her LIFE, now needs her little old lady nap at 2 PM, and the doggone desk is giving my forehead bruises when I nod off.

So, I'm loaded for bear; I have a litany of complaints and supporting arguments that include everything from "it's my body" to "you give 76 year old men Viagra, what's natural about that?" The problem is, I know his answers, and I know that he's being more reasonable with me than the other doctors in his group (including my first doc there...the lovely young, 30-something pregnant female doc who denied me my hormones completely. Her turn is coming.) So...this hormone junkie, this woman who is not willing to age gracefully, is probably going doctor shopping. It is not reasonable to expect me to function without a good night's sleep. Too bad I can't get an appointment at 4 AM...then I'd win.

(And before you ask...I've already been to the endocrinologist and it's not my thyroid. But he did give me a couple of really good book recommendations via his wife. No, no...novels, not medical self-help.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

Just yesterday, I posted some gardening woes to the "soapnuts" list. I made mention of the fact that we are losing the vegetable garden battle to the deer, and that the only surviving tomato plant is the one in a pot on the deck. When I got home from work last night, I saw a couple of red tomatoes, and went out to pick them. Found the leaves looking puny, and some telltale black worm poop on one of the 'maters. Then Dear Husband pointed to a green lump and said "What's that?" This is what "that" looked like after I pried him off our plant and flung him to the deck!

And while this is admittedly one fat and destructive worm, that is nothing more than a decking nailhead to his right.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pets & Plants

Tuesday evening I went outside to play with the camera macro and super macro settings again. I planned to focus on flowers, especially the beautiful new brugmansia blooms.

However, Cosmo and the Hairy Boys decided to stick close to me. Cosmo and I had a few up close and personal moments, as we both reclined on the deck to get a good look at each other.

There are more photos of plants, dogs, and cat, here:

I don't know the name of this new brugmansia, which blooms a pale cream color and transforms to a pale pink. It's stunning, seeing the different colors on one plant. The larger, older brug is a Dr. Seuss. It, too, blooms a pale yellow and transforms to a dark yellow. It has a strong, clean, soapy scent in the evening. If they weren't so difficult to over-winter in this climate, I think I would fill the yard with brugs. And hydrangeas. Maybe a peach tree. More irises.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Super Macro

We're still learning how to use our camera, which is almost a year old now. It's a Canon S2 1S and it's really worked out well for us. We've had three digital cameras before this one, one of the first Polaroids on the market, one good, one terrific (a Nikon given to me by my friend, Phyllis). This Canon came about because of a heated discussion between my dear husband and myself, when the camera I was using was always under his influence, and then it (the Nice Nikon) just gave up the ghost. Supposedly, this Canon is *my* camera. Of course, it's really our camera.

I'm very capable when it comes to technical stuff. If I read the manual, I usually put things into practice, and I retain the instructions for the most part. Notice I said "if" I read the manual. I read enough to get some grab shots, I read enough to do some depth of field shots on flowers last summer, and I've kind of let it go from there.

Dear Husband looked up the manual on line, knowing we should be able to get better shots than I did with the charms yesterday. I told him I figured out the macro button, it's always a flower, but he had to investigate further. I'm glad he evidenced by the above shot of a calculator in lamplight. Amazing isn't it, that something as common as the buttons on a cheap calculator can look so artistic. Guess I'll let him keep using "my" camera, LOL!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Charm Swap

Recently, Sherry Goshon hosted a swap on her doll list, called "Trust Me Swap." Twelve of us signed up and agreed to swap before knowing what we were going to do. Then, we were asked to make our own charms, no larger than 1" square.

Following are the charms I received, including one of my own, front and back. My base is 1" square, and is one of the largest. That tells you just how small all of these are!

(Sue's charm, front)

(Sue's charm, back)

(Kerry's charm)

(Sandy's charm)

(Shashi's charm)

(Yvette's charm)

(Bear's charm)

(Sherry - left; Cherie - right)

(Fran's charm)

(Jacque's charm - also unidentified, but I'm certain it's her work!)

(Judi's charm)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Fine Weekend

As I write this Sunday evening, I can reflect on the weekend-that-was, and truly report that it was lovely, fine, all that I hoped weekends would be at this point in my life.

My dear husband spoils me; I've established that in other posts. He alone makes this point in my life more than I had hoped to dream, not so many years ago. Having the kind of weekend we just passed, however, gives me an abundance of reminders. We started our Saturday in the manner that has become his favorite tradition -- going out to Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks and bringing back a large latte for me. This he pours into a large white china cup, sprinkles with cinnamon, and delivers to me wherever I am -- this weekend, it was sitting at the kitchen counter, reading More magazine.

From there, this weekend, we went out together and weeded the iris bed. Teamwork -- we hauled 13 5-gallon buckets of weeds to the compost pile between us, and got the whole thing done in less than two hours. After that weedy, mucky job, I was told to shower and get ready for a soul trip.

We cleaned up and headed for Middlefield -- Amish Country -- which is just about 25 miles away. It is very near a dam and lake where we took the kids fishing during their visit, and it has a wonderful cheese factory. You see lots of Amish horses and buggies up and down the road, and there are several little shops. It's a beautiful 25 mile drive from our house, all through the green and rolling Ohio countryside. We are so fortunate to live in yet another beautiful place.

Our main destination was the Middlefield flea market, which takes place every Saturday morning, inside a pole-barn type building. It's actually two buildings -- one full of "stuff" and one called a pavilion, which appears to have multiple uses beyond the flea market booths. When we got there, it was pure serendipity - the pavilion was hosting a quilt expo! Not only was it hosting an expo, it was in Amish country, so many of the quilts were Amish. For a $2 entry fee, we were able to visit all the quilts, vote on our favorite bed sized, as well as our favorite small size, plus visit the four vendors there. There were two different groups raffling a quilt, and though I didn't buy chances on one, the beautiful white, blue, and green Amish quilt captured my heart. I bought six chances on that one, but it won't be raffled until October. There was a quilt auction taking place at 2:00 pm, but we were on our way by then. I did buy four beautiful, colorful pieces of fabric, which I plan to incorporate into dolls soon.

The only thing I bought at the flea market was an old step stool, which is a great plant stand on the deck. I didn't even try to bargain on the price.

Then we went to another "compound" of shops, which included an antique store, a bakery, a gift shop, and an art gallery. The gift shop focuses on Native American/southwestern gifts, jewelry, pottery, etc. It also happens to be a bead shop. I was overjoyed -- finally a place for a soul trip for me! I could have spent a boatload of money, but held myself to a new southwestern sweatshirt (the one I purchased in Sedona 11 years ago is finally about worn out), a hand carved bowl from a reservation in AZ, some beads (of course!) and a couple of inspiring cards. I'll definitely be going back regularly. By this time, however, I was starving hungry and getting a headache, so we skipped the rest of the stores and went to Mary Yoder's Amish Restaurant and had a very nice meal. Oh, how I needed a day like this, instead of work at the job, work at the house, go to the grocery store, do some laundry, repeat.... It wasn't just the spending of money, accumulating stuff, it was being reminded that I live in a world full of beautiful things, that there are people out there making and appreciating beautiful things.
And speaking of beautiful things...I was transported last night when I looked out the deck door and saw the caladium leaf absolutely glowing, as it picked up the setting sun. There's lots of new growth in the pot with the elephant ears and caladium, including what I can only assume is a caladium blossom. I have to post a photo of the bloom, and tell you a story it brought back to mind: Oddly enough, the visible beginning of the end of my first marriage came about because of a framed Georgia O'Keefe iris poster. I believe it's called Pastel Iris, and it's probably my favorite. It's composed of blues and pinks and it is lush and detailed. I happen to love iris anyway, and the beauty of that framed poster, in an extra large size, was significant to me. I wanted to hang it in a place of honor in our blue and slightly pinkish kitchen. (Sounds awful, but trust me, it was very nice.) My ex hated, I mean HATED that print. We had one of our few serious arguments about that piece of art. I hung it anyway - one of the few times I didn't back down for the sake of "harmony." A couple weeks later, we had our group of 10 friends over for our monthly card night. Imagine my surprise when a couple of the guys started giving my now-ex a lot of grief, asking how he could "allow" me to hang that sexual, disgusting picture in the room where we made and ate our food. I kid you not, I must be one of the few people in the world who never perceived O'Keefe flower paintings to be sexual. I'm just wild about the over-sized, beautifully detailed flowers.

So now I have this picture of the caladium bloom, and guess what? It's obviously a reproductive part. Who knew?

While dear husband and I trimmed overhanging tree limbs today, I spotted a beautiful spider web, up on the cable line, iridescent in the sun.

The only dollmaking this weekend was a bit of work Friday night on my doll for Li Hertzi's Sugar Plum Scarey class. I thought about dolls a lot, though!

It was a good weekend of teamwork, natural beauty and shopping in fun places.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beautiful Sunset

We've had a crazy summer here, weather-wise. Most of June and July were terribly lacking in rain, and now, the past few days have seen abundant rain and flash floods. The night before the storms started, this is what our evening sky looked like.

I've cut out the neighbors' roofs and just fit the tree tops in with the beautifully colored sky.

We used to have beautiful sunsets when I lived outside the city in Minneapolis and my dear husband had magnificent sunsets in Phoenix. The only time we really noticed sunrise or sunset while living in NC was at the beach. And, it's rare that we see this kind of thing here, so it was a special treat to sit on the deck and enjoy these colors.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Old Photos, 1

I've told lots of people about my large family (50 first cousins!) and how my childhood home was the center of family gatherings almost every weekend, all through my youth. We had picnics, we played tag and hide-n-seek, we had a rope swing in the hayloft.

My brother wasn't born until I was nearly 6, but as you can see by this photo, our weekend company made me feel as though I had a houseful of siblings!

(1953 photo of me, Uncle Robert, Aunt Janet, Cousin Debbie, Aunt Rosie, Aunt Linda)

With thanks to the other uncle not pictured here who has faithfully scanned and sent many of the family photos in his albums. PS - See that adorable little girl with the bow in her dark curly hair and the sweet little polka dot dress? That's NOT me. I'm the other little one, in the sensible play clothes with the practically non-existent hair. Nothing has changed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Flowers, Fabrics & Body Parts

No sooner did I finish Starchild, than I went to the fabric shop for a couple of supplies, and bright lime-ish green jumped into my consciousness and insisted on becoming a doll. She danced and waved in my line of vision, and I simply had no choice. Things are moving along quickly, but I'm still a little disappointed because I'm taking two online classes, participating in a journal page swap, and I have four UFOs in the treehouse (UFO = unfinished objects).

Obviously, this color was in the artistic awareness of others this month. My monthly swap packet from my friend Phyllis arrived, and there was a green mesh drawstring bag, in exactly the same green I've been using. Yesterday, I received my copy of "Odd Ball Charm," the zine done by Alma Stoller, and there was a packet of foil lined green beads - exactly the right color! The peppermint colored mohair locks are not quite what I had in mind, but I put the cluster in the photo for now.Isn't it wild how those colors all came from different places and worked so well? I bought the body cotton from Joggles, and used my very favorite stamp (also purchased at Joggles) to put the tree pattern on the body parts. The dyed green velvet and green mohair are also from Joggles, the beads and mesh bag I've mentioned already, and the two sparkly party fabrics came from the trip to Joann's.

Speaking of colors working well, look at these shots of some of our deck plants:

We bought this passionflower last week, but haven't decided on a permanent location yet. Right now, I'm just happy to watch this gorgeous plant bloom. And this color combo (above)! I just thought it was so pretty when I noticed the layer of colors and texture.
Dark leaves and bright colors (above). Pretty colors, in such simple flowers.
A lone lavender blossom, highlighted against the weathered wood.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Hometown - Minneapolis

Last night, I sat in front of the TV, mesmerized by the images of the collapsed 35W bridge over the Mississippi River. I relieved the tension of it all by shouting at the Fox and CNN broadcasters as they mis-pronounced street names and locations, mis-quoted distances, etc. I further shouted as they tried to sensationalize the story by tossing out words like "terrorism" and "under construction" over and over and over.

Though I'm 600 miles away, Minneapolis is still home, and two of my three children still live there. I was one of the lucky ones -- my near and dear were not close to the situation. My youngest daughter (aka Sweet Jenny-woo) called as soon as she was able to get through, to let me know everyone was ok. The closest call we had was that is the route their father (my ex) takes to and from work, but he used an alternate route that day. So, we are ok. (And thanks to all who have written to ask.)

I watch the video clips, I search for new photo images, I read the online stories. I left Minneapolis 10 years ago, but it is still my hometown. Even amidst the ruin that's been broadcast around the world, I look through the dust and think "That's a beautiful city." I find myself still feeling that same sense of pride I had as a resident. I like the fact that most of the film clips I've seen have shown calm, intelligent people, responding with dignity to a gruesome situation. I'm proud to be from Minneapolis, maybe even more than I was before this.

Though this has set back my little bridge phobia recovery by about 30 years, I'm ok; my loved ones are ok; my hometown will be ok.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Final Details

I was corresponding with Kai last night and told her I still hadn't finished Starchild. I always get hung up on the shoes, even when I know what I'm going to do. I dashed the note to Kai and the little voice in my head said "What's your excuse? You have time. It's not as though you are REALLY going to pull out the vacuum cleaner at 9:30 at night!" And hour later, shoes were done, eyelashes attached, and Starchild is complete.

Yes, I noticed her right eyelash wasn't stuck down all the way. It's fixed now.

Love those French organza flowers I bought at Joggles! (I still want to put a pair of them on ear wires and use them for earrings.)

Hand detail. Such serenity.