Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dream Work (of a Different Kind): Part I

          My husband had a fairly substantial outbuilding when we were in Texas.  There was room for his power tools and lumber stash.  We had hoped that he could down-size to just the 3rd bay of our three-car garage. 
          He couldn't:  No room for him AND a project and a table saw and router.  Plus garages are impossible to heat and get too @#$%d cold for any non-Eskimo do any wood working from October to May.  That's a lot of months to not know what to do.  A lot of months to try to entertain a bored husband. 
So we chose to fore go a vacation, cruise and shopping binge or two or three and build him a REAL woodworking shop.  He spent hours dreaming in front of his computer using 3D construction programs and thinking about what we wanted/needed. Then we spent hours getting a home improvement loan.  (If you have a choice between your local bank where they KNOW you and a big national one that is still freaked out by Federal punishment for credit default swaps, use the local one!  It'll be easier.
 Anyway, we broke ground a couple of weeks ago.  Literally.



It was pretty amazing what the construction crew leader could do with the back hoe.  Sometimes it seemed as big and out of control as a giant dinosaur. 
 But eventually a rectangular sub-floor began to appear.  They have to dig deep here in New Hampshire to make sure they are below the frost line.  (I think the dirt freezes down to a four foot depth. Makes me glad that flower bulbs only have to go down 6 inches!)

 They brought in framing boards in preparation for pouring the foundation.
At the end of the day they had to get the back hoe on the trailer.  Again there were times when it was about as graceful as a hippo out of water.  Its treads didn't look guaranteed to keep the machine balanced as it lumbered up the ramp.
 The operator got some help from the trailer driver so that he didn't drive off the trailer bed!

 The operator turned the top part of the back hoe 180 degrees and used the scoop to gently, VERY gently lift up the tread extensions.  The scoop that had been pounding into stoney soil was as gentle as a child stroking a kitten.

 Then he used the scoop to fold up the tread AND the extension.  (Think of Transformers doing origami...)


 I think it was the next day that they poured the cement.  (Cement trucks in New England look backwards to me! But for the operator to face the same direction as the cement is going makes a lot of sense!)



 In short order the foundation and footing was poured.  I've heard it takes 20 years for cement to harden completely.  But it got hard enough just sitting there over night.


I had that medical stuff going on while they were framing the walls.  And I slept too late to get pictures of them putting up the gable and framing the rafters.  The crew was only three people.  Two guys and a gal.  All were hard workers, strong and full of stamina. One of them brought his American Pit Bull with him.  That was on a hot day and the dog napped in the shade by the flower bed all day.  The dog was happy to let me scratch his ears though.  At one point the crew had used all the water they brought in their cooler.  We invited them to come in and get cold water from the refrigerator.  I got to see (most of) their tattoos up close.


 When it was time to put the shingles on, it was the sane two guys and a new fellow.  I guess the gal doesn't do shingles.
They were good to watch.
It wasn't just their expertise that made them good to watch. If they hadn't been playing top 40 on their radio, and if it had been Tchaikovsky, and they were wearing tights... it would have been like a ballet.
                 They put all the shingles on in just one day.
                 I think the next step is for the Newton Fire Department to come and flood the sub-floor so that the dirt settles before the Sheetrock and siding go up.
 Besides Siding, windows and a door, I'm not sure what all is left for them to do.  When they are done, DH will do the wiring, get the electrical inspection, install the heater and start MAKING STUFF.

I told him that if he doesn't use it more than once a week, I might just move all my painting and craft supplies into it.  I bet it would be better motivation if I bought him a coffee pot and a little refrigerator of his very own. He's already said he'll move our small love seat out there so he has a comfy place to read..  Talk about a man cave!
Ain't Nobody Happy if Daddy Ain't Happy!'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Over the river and through the woods... Grandma was on the go!

I couldn't wait to give my granddaughter the Chinese Pajamas I bought when I went to the Peabody Essex Museum last month.  She couldn't wait to wear them, either.  Even though most of our visiting time was spent eating lunch at a diner, we had a fun time teasing each other while she flirted with the camera.

 Isn't she pretty?

 She can be silly.

 I know she feels safe and protected by her dad.
 I wonder what she was seeing in the camera....



 Eventually, she realized she was hungry!  Yay for grilled cheese!








Friday, August 15, 2014

There's a difference!

I'm wondering how often I think I know what I'm saying or feeling when I don't.  And it can cause problems.

As I have been anticipating and worrying about upcoming radiation therapy, I realized that I wasn't sure if I knew the difference between depression and tiredness.  I know that tiredness is sometimes a symptom of depression, but what if one is "just" tired and need sleep?  It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to think that depression might also be a side effect of fatigue.

I took a linguistic side trip and discovered:
discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) discernment
to know true friends>. discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music>.  So apparently I need to improve both!  What is true?  What is accurate?
And being such a visual creature, I sketched 4 little drawings in which I tried to depict both experiences.
Later I scanned and elaborated on each one.

 Depression, for me, is like a horrendous dark cloud that prevents me from seeing hope, choice, or even any changes in the future.  Fatigue is more a sense of being run down, wrung out and maybe not caring what choices and changes might be in store for me.  I think fatigue might need to be taken care of more immediately than depression.  Take a nap!  Or, paradoxically; the opposite -- get some exercise and THEN take a nap.
 The red flare represents the anger that can hide under depression's cloak.  It's there... AND it seems to come as a result of outside influences or obstacles.  The blue pool represents the deep tiredness... and it seems to come from within.  Where they overlap, there can be emotional riptides, eddies and shoals.  But beyond them, there is brightness, and a new day.
 This is a side by side comparison.  Depression on the left; descending from above and pushing one down... like a great burden on ones shoulders, or a huge hat made of lead that keeps you down.  On the right, that little black dot is a swimmer-- too far out to sea.  Possibly too tired to get to shore.  Not trusting the natural ebb and flow of tides, time or even a possible rescuer.
And a more graphic interpretation.  The oppressive red arrow pushing DOWN in comparison to the dark arrow trying to rise UP.  With so many little bumps, seeds, bubbles (or something) needing to be present, noticed and contended with.

How would YOU draw fatigue?  Depression?
One thing  I noticed is that doing the drawings helped me disengage from the grip of both emotions;  writing about them helped me figure out a lot about how I let them get the upper hand.


Friday, August 08, 2014

JMW Turner, Salem without Witches and some decent tacos!

In my attempt to stay active and entertained, I took myself to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA on Tuesday.  I was particularly drawn by the promise of paintings by the inventive, bold, ahead-of-his-time, JMW Turner...(1775-1851)  and the fact that what use is a museum membership card if you don't use it?

 Unfortunately, most of the art was borrowed from elsewhere (primarily British museums) so I couldn't take my own pictures in the exhibit.  The website, is worth looking at, though.  (and maybe even the Tate).

How he managed to paint "the atmosphere"-- and making the painting look foggy, or humid,or snowy-- while still having just the right amount of definition of whatever was IN that fuzzy atmosphere boggled my mind.  From a distance, some of the paintings seemed almost photographic in the rendition of smoke, fog, etc.  And then from a different distance, it was all totally "unrecognizable" and impressionistic, or flat-out abstract.

I did figure out, though, that sometimes he used watercolor kinds of techniques when painting with oils and vice versa.  He also started his art career in a serious way when he was 14.  No wonder I feel behind.

I wish there had been more of Turner's paintings and less "dilution" of the exhibit with paintings by his influences, cohorts or those on whom he HAD influence.




Adjacent the PEM is a bricked plaza with benches, a fountain and street vendors.  Tuesday must not be their big day, which was fine with me.  Several lamp post had female figure heads as part of a Lady of Salem arts promotion. I only saw these three, but there are 20 more that you can see/find via their website.    (The Peabody's and Essexes were big traders in the dates of tall ships and their museum has always emphasized imports from Asia and Maritime art and objects.)  These figure heads, were sponsored by local enterprises.  I liked all of them, but I thought Lady Liberty with her I love Pizza shirt was particularly creative (sponsored by NY Pizza and Deli, which is inside the Museum Mall at the opposite side of the Plaza.



 I have seen this fountain/park feature when it was FULL of people and being wet seemed normal.  Since nobody but this toddler was in the water, it seemed like maybe it wasn't a good idea.  His parents were having a good time under the umbrella at a table, but they were unaware for too long that he'd climbed in.  There was quite a bit of ineffectual ranting and raving when they DID notice... but nobody seemed to care enough to a) get up or b) get wet in order to fish him out.  I've read about too many drownings this summer so it made me anxious.  Maybe he was smarter and wiser than his size led me to believe.

 After all that effort of avoiding the senior-er citizens at PEM (walkers, wheelchairs, canes and folks who moved at the speed of the glaciers), I was hungry. 

DH and I had gone to the Thai place last time we were in Salem, but I didn't want to go someplace with such large servings or prices.  So I took what I consider a "risk" and went to  i Taco.  I think of tacos as Mexican, but the flavors and accent were  not exactly "Tex-Mex."  Dominican?  South American?  Whatever it was, I got my quota of salsa, guacamole (for a $2.50 upcharge  :-( ), rice and cheese.  WAY better than Taco Bell!!

They also had banners of cut outs, which reminded me of my favorite "El Norte Mexican Grill" back in Plano, Texas!  Even if they are symmetrical (and many weren't)  I couldn't figure out how a crafty person would cut them  out without ending up with confetti!





Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Forging ahead: slowly and somewhat apologetically

     Can't believe how long it has been since I wrote something here.  In spite of my denial and reassurances-to-self, apparently my (second) breast cancer diagnosis has been distracting,  depressing and, in a way, debilitating.  
     It is more of a challenge than usual to keep to a routine, whether it be housekeeping, laundry, drawing or writing.
     But no REAL worries, either.  I've been down this road before and survived the trip.  In fact this trip should be easier because there isn't anybody who is recommending chemo!  "Yay!  She keeps her hair and the vanity about it!"
     I am going to try to fore go making any more excuses.  It is what it is and I am what I am, or as my adopted Latin motto has been for decades:  SUM QUOD SUM.
     The  day after I had my partial mastectomy was the start of Sketchbook Skool, an online sketching/art/drawing class.  I catch up only to find that I've fallen behind.  But here are most of the sketches I did in the last couple of weeks.

Brenda Swenson was the instructor one week.  She believes in decorative borders, watercolor over ink and continuous contour drawings.  I like this pitcher best when I am confident it is completely full of lemonade.  At least I tend to see it as half full rather than half empty... except of course, when it is TOTALLY empty like here... so that the cat won't try to drink out of it and tip it over or break it.  I think this pitcher is older than I am.  OMG:  An antique!  One of the few "treasures" I snatched from my childhood home when my father was disposing of his earthly goods....
 I drew while watching TV, too.  The cat failed to notice I was painting her.  When she DOES notice, she gets all squirmy or "cute," changing poses faster than a model in a gesture drawing class.  Hubby with a sleeping cat in his lap usually holds a pose for more than 10 minutes!!


We took a last minute trip to central New Hampshire and Vermont.  I took a ton of photos which need cropping and editing.  So all you get for now is this evening sketch of the hotel lobby seating area.  Can you identify the brand?









My stitch-n-bitch group meets on Sunday evenings at Starbucks.  I was the only one who showed up last week, so I sketched instead.  People waiting for service stand still ALMOST long enough to "capture."

 This week's Sketchbook Skool instructor wanted to emphasize that you don't need fancy materials to doodle and sketch, so she assigned us a ball-point pen drawing.  I started this at the eye doctor's office.  We were told unceremoniously that the doctor we've been seeing for two years moved to a different firm in Manchester, NH.  I'm upset.  Would you drive an extra 40 minutes to stay with a professional you really liked? 
Let me know your thinking in the comments.
My husband was sweet enough to read another few pages in his book while I finished the outline of the furniture.  It took several episodes of Hell on Wheels (AMC) for me to add the red cross-hatching and textures.


 I had more ambition today than usual... went to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the Turner and the Sea exhibit.  The Turner paintings ARE in a realm of their own... whether oils or watercolors.  My pencil sketches are hard to scan, but I learned a lot about atmosphere, lights, darks and composition from doing them.  I'll post more about the show soon.
 The museum store had some cool felted purses with beautifully gaudy jewelry sewn over the clasps.
I'm thinking that the materials probably cost about $5.00 (assuming the jewelry is from China/Walmart or Michaels), but they were priced at $155.00.  Granted, the craftsmanship was excellent... but the entrepreneurship was the most amazing part.  I bet they'll sell to the museum crowd, too.