Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas week 2014

And the sky turns to fire, December 22, 2014 sunset, out my front door

Christmas was very low key around here, and thankfully it is over.  I got really sad the few days
leading up to Christmas.  December 24th is/was my parents wedding anniversary.  It was a sad day for all of us, Mom especially.  But, she consoled her kidlets like she always has, and with a few tears and lots of happy, laughing memories, we made it through.

We've had a few days of really chilly weather, for Texas anyhow.  Rain, wind and dark days.  Hubby and I spent the week-end hunkered down in the house, reading and watching a few bowl games and a movie or two. Just being cozy.  Today it was starting to look like we might be getting low on food supplies, so we trekked out in the rain this morning to replenish the larder and get ready for the onslaught of more bowl games this coming week.

Christmas week also brought me an introduction to my new orthopedist, 2 cortisone injections, and a schedule for physical therapy.   Yikes! I found out I have bursitis in both hips and osteoarthritis in both knees.  The knee that had been hurting the worst was actually in better shape than the other one. Well of course I knew something was wrong, so the diagnosis was not really a surprise, more a shock since my Dr. in the past had always told me I showed no signs of arthritis.  Up to now that is... Well, some of it can be fixed or at least alleviated. He says the physical therapy will help my hips.  The knee...well, when he explained how the cushioning cartilage was gone...he said "the train has left the station, the horse is out of the barn, that bridge has burned, that ship has sailed, etc. etc.  Yes, he did, and a lot more of those that I can't remember.  He told me he will give me cortisone shots as often as is allowed, but that in a couple of years I would be begging him for a knee replacement. ????   I start physical therapy tomorrow, no time will be wasted.

Did I ever show you or tell you about the cute little garland I made a few years ago, using candy papers? These are the paper cups from the Ferrero Rocher candies.  I always save them, they make me laugh, and have such possibilities. The gold paper wrapping is nice to recycle too.  Fortunately, I did not buy any of those candies this year, I like them too much.  I did hang a wreath on the front door and put up a tiny table tree, but that was the extent of decorating around here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice yesterday, the shortest day of the year.  It's been grey/gray for several days. I was thinking of something, I don't know why I spell it grey, I just like it better than gray. I think I may have seen it spelled grey on a Martha Stewart paint chip...or some other paint chip at some point in time. I had to do a little research and found out, gray is the American way, and grey is the English way.  When I say "a little research"...I mean very little, just ask Google. Ha Ha

Anyhow, here is me yesterday, sitting on the porch with a cuppa joe, when the temperature was 54 and the sky was oh so grey.  Grey nails, grey clothes, grey day, grey mood.  My ensemble was not planned, just happened that way. These were in my stack of what I call "throw on clothes".
And I really had the blues, which I can't seem to shake, and it's more than the holiday blues.  Feeling physically worn out doesn't help.
Tomorrow I'm off to see the orthopedist for x-rays and evaluation of my hips and knees, which have been bothering me off and on for several months. I hope to get some news of things that can be done, other than knee replacement.  It seems, from what I've been told, that most Drs. take that approach pretty rapidly. So will see what comes of it.  My regular physician moved so I had to find a new one.  All my blood tests for everything they could test me for came back as normal range.  When I mentioned my joint and muscle pain, she said I just needed to lose weight and dismissed the issue.  So I decided to try and get some answers besides, "just lose weight". That wouldn't hurt of course, and I know that, but I'm pretty sure there is something else going on. The entire visit with this particular physician was really disappointing.  For every issue I brought up, she was ready to write another prescription. This was before any blood work at all.  I left with NO prescriptions, as I declined them all.   So she was probably as disappointed with me as a patient as I am with her as a Dr.  So I am still on a quest for answers, and I don't believe they lie within traditional medicine entirely. I'm very interested in integrative medicine, even alternatives, but the problem with that is, no insurance company will cover any of that.  So we are on our own in seeking any choice other than the traditional.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Coming on Christmas

Well, here I am again, same time, same channel...Bah Humbug.  Listening to the only Christmas song I like to hear, River, by Joni Mitchell. It's drab and sad, and some of it doesn't even apply to me, but it matches my mood regarding Christmas.  I wish I had a river I could skate away on.  In addition to the blues I feel regarding the holidays anyhow, this year it is coupled with the fact that last Christmas and New Years we spent with my parents.  This will be the first holiday without my father, and that is hard in itself.

But I am so turned off by the crazed consumerism that goes on this time of year, that I just choose not to participate at all.   Very few gifts are purchased, and if need be, we use the ubiquitous gift card. Hubby and I usually make gifts for each other, but we haven't even managed that this year.  At least I have not, and I have not seen any evidence that he has been working on anything. It's okay though, we may find something at the Armadillo bazaar next week. If we do, at least it will be handmade. If we don't that's okay too, as we are running out of room for anymore artwork of any kind.

We have only had to go to one Christmas party, it was work related and also a charity event.  This was held in traditional fashion, keeping with Texas tradition anyhow, at this famous local place.  Not being a native Texan, I still struggle at times with the fascination with B-B-Q.  I did not partake of the ribs, brisket and sausage, but managed to work my way through a pretty big helping of delicious smoked turkey. Was hoping for pecan pie for dessert, but they gave us all a cup of their also famous vanilla ice cream. It was pretty darn good. It was the proper size serving, but Hub said, is this all we get?  I told him it was not like what he calls serving size at home, which probably equals 4 scoops.

If wondering what the weird looking hand in the photo is, it's the Hook 'em Horns sign for the Texas Longhorn football team.
Here at home, the soup making marathon continues.  I am not getting tired of it, and don't know if hubby is or not. I made corn chowder earlier in the week.  Yesterday my friend Pat came over with cream of broccoli and tomato soup from her work, and we had the tomato for lunch.  It was delicious.  I do fear, however, that we are consuming a bit more "cream" than anyone should have.  There has been no attempt to make these soups low calorie, I can assure you.  I have never made tomato soup from scratch, but plan to look online for a recipe and do that pretty soon.  I have never liked canned tomato soup, but homemade now that's a different story.
Having a slow relaxing week-end here, where it is dark and drizzly, just the perfect kind of soup weather.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Make up your mind

Dear Mother Nature, please make up your mind.  I leave the house at 8 a.m. and it is 62 degrees, then two hours later it is 35 and the wind has blown the remaining leaves off the trees, and there I am in a sweater that the wind blows through!  Enough.  I know how the weather is in Texas, but doggone it, I still wish it would get cold and stay cold. I have gotten the boots out, and scarves and gloves and I want to wear them more than one day a week for 3 hours.  The past few weeks that is what we have had, several days in the high 60s then a huge cold front and its almost freezing. First part of the week, it was soup making time.  All the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone and we had no food in the house.  Hubby had a cold he picked up somewhere before Thanksgiving, and I was just tired (as usual it seems), so neither of us felt like going to the grocery.  So we scraped together what we had, he chopped and I sautéed and made a big pot of split pea soup.  Oh, it was so tasty and that's pretty much all we had for dinner.  I had forgotten we had some ham so it is just plain, no meat.  We were so hungry I even forgot to put out bread, but sprinkled croutons on top. Nothing like a big pot of soup on a cold night, plus the comfort of knowing there will be enough for a few more meals.  I have this quirk, of really wanting a beer when I have split pea soup. But we had none so I settled for a small glass of wine.  It was a passable substitute and the soup was just as yummy.  Hubby drinks milk with everything, just as good a combo.

It's back up to almost 70 today and supposed to stay through the week end and into next week.  I'm seeing Christmas lights already on some of the neighbors houses, but it's a little too soon for me. I like to leave my tree up till New Years, so I can wait another week to put it up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

East Austin Studio tour 2014

Another busy week-end with East Austin Art Studio tour. We went out both days, but we did take it a little bit easy on ourselves. Me especially, since I have been having hip and knee issues and they tend to get worse with cold damp weather.  It was cold and rainy both days, and windy.  We chose locations where there were multiple artists to cut down on being out in the weather so much. Several places we went had big fire bowls or pits burning, so we ended up smelling like woodsmoke, but we didn't mind. Every place we went was very crowded so I guess the weather didn't keep people away. The tour has gotten so big they now have it two week-ends. And guess what, the forecast says there will be rain again this week-end. We need all the rain we can get, so no one complains about it.  I still feel bad for some of the artists who are outside in a tent, trying to keep their wares dry or from blowing away.

Pump Project building.  At least 30 artists here, I lost count.

Art on fence at Pump Project

Quilt in one of the hallways.  Not pieced, all one fabric, quilted.  I love the colors and the birds. It is not cool to take photos of peoples artwork, but the quilter told me this is just the way the fabric came, she just quilted it.
Keeping with my love of gray and of texture, I shot this photo out one of the upstairs windows, of the wet and worn tarpaper roof.

In another neighborhood, I love the colors they used on this house, and the hanging metal on the porch.

Friday, November 14, 2014

All my week-ends crashing together

Hubby says when we get our lives sorted out, we will live 6 months in Idaho and 6 months in Texas, and he wants to do so forever. Hands down the 6 in Texas will start with October...  That is when the serious festivals begin. The ones we like anyhow.  There are festivals of some sort here year round, but the ones we go to all happen in October and November.  The main reason for that is that it is starting to cool off. 

But this year, October has plain flat worn me out.  Every week-end we have had something to do.  Sometimes I just want to stay home.  Hubby keeps saying, but we have always done this or that or whatever it may be.  It's tradition.  Well here are some of our traditions.  October 11th we went to a mask making workshop at the Mexic-Arte museum for the masks and large bat float.

The following week-end was the actual parade.

Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead
Parade and Festival October 18th

Next up, the 35th Anniversary celebration of a store we have been shopping at for about 20 years. The owner Marcia leads trips to Mexico and also imports wonderful arts and crafts from there.
We usually buy at least one important piece from her each year on our Anniversary.  I admired a couple of things when I was there, and later saw Hubby sneak by with a package and take it to the car. It is in the living room now, and I haven't peeked once. Our anniversary is on Monday.
The lovely lady in the center photo and with the mariachis is Marcia Lucas. You can read her story and see some of the kind of folk art she carries in the store.  The blurry photo of the lady in the pink skirt and cowboy boots, is Lucinda Hutson, local cookbook author. She was moving about so fast I never did get a good photo of her.  She has the coolest clothes, jewelry and cowboy boots.
Same week-end, (25th and 26th) we also attended the Texas Book Festival, at the capitol grounds. I was too busy shopping to take many photos.

Hubby with capitol in background
Looking down one row of tents with books, authors, music, merchandise, food.
Next up...beautiful cool fall day for the Grand Prix of the Americas. If you've been reading for awhile you've seen my race car photos, so I'll keep these to a minimum.  Just some highlights. Like the Navy skydivers, and when my favored to win driver led the race for 24 laps and then his team mate, Hubbys favored to win overtook him on lap 25 and stayed in 1st place to the end. The two guys in the photo are Alberto and Hernando, they are from Mexico City, but live in Austin now.  I've decided doing the collages on Picasa is the best way to go when I have several photos instead of stringing them out.  
Almost forgot to mention, after the races Kid Rock was playing in the 360 Ampitheatre stage. We walked over and listened for awhile.  There were a few other concerts going on in the area, so there were a lot of competing sounds.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sometimes the best thing to do....

Is to do nothing at all.
One view of the backyard at my little retreat in Idaho..
I arrived there on August 31st, my birthday.  I spent almost the entire month of September there. Every morning I chose a different window to sit by and drink my coffee/tea/chai and gaze out at the garden. In the early evening, I wandered out to the deck or one of those weathered chairs and sat there, looking back towards the house. It is truly a retreat for me, and I enjoy being there so much, for a variety of reasons.   This is not to say that is all I did while there.  I ran around with family and spent time with my Mom. Saw the Aunts and Uncles.  Went to a football game with Hubby, went to several art fairs.  But my best times while there, have become just hanging out with Hubby at the house and relaxing, or even working in the yard.  I know it will feel different when we move there for good, but for now, I see it as a little escape from the real world and I relish it so much. September was truly vacation month for me.

When I get back to Austin, everything is so hectic, with a million things to do, and being pulled in so many directions.  I've been really busy since I got home and here we are the middle of October already.  I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed so I'm trying to focus on taking care of myself instead of just slipping back into the rut I usually do.  Part of taking care of oneself is setting time aside to create, instead of planning to create when everything else is taken care of.  It never happens.  So that is where I am at, and where I will be for awhile, with my head down...trying once again to find some balance.  Maybe even some finished artwork.  Don't know why that is so difficult for me, but all I can do is continue to keep trying.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Delicious and nutritious Saturday lunch


My friend Pat called mid-morning and said she was bringing lunch over. She arrived with all manner of "green, raw stuff".  I am not quite as adventurous with food as she is, but I do like a lot of what she likes.  After determining there was no "seaweed" in any of the dishes, I relaxed and set the table. 
We gobbled up the spinach dip with crudités, not much left to take photos of.  Here's what we had.
This is golden beets, spiral sliced into noodles, with arugula pesto, with pine nuts.  Hubby came by and asked us why we were eating worms! This was very delicious. There were a few veggies left from the spinach dip, carrots, red peppers, cauliflower, pea pods.
This is arugula salad, with red onions, sundried tomatoes, sunflower sprouts and toasted buckwheat sprouts. The dressing was tart and delicious, it had honey, cashews, and citrus juice.
There was also a loaf of sourdough bread which we toasted. So everything we ate except the bread was "Raw". We were feeling very virtuous after eating this delicious and nutritious lunch, but we weren't finished yet. 
I had been hearing about the new Dreyer's fruit with veggie bars, so bought some so we could try them out.  Besides Apple, these have kale, spinach, mango, pineapple, kiwi, and pumpkin.  Well.....  about the only thing I can say is they were cold and refreshing.  But not something I would try again. So my friend will have to eat them when she is over.  I talked Hubby into trying a bite, and he kind of turned his nose up.  He likes the plain old Raspberry ones, and my favorite ones are the Coconut Water with Pineapple.  I may try some of the other veggie varieties, but then again I may not.  They did have a carrot/tangerine one that sounded like it might be good.  I wonder what the theory behind these treats is...for Mothers to get veggies into their kids in yet another way except real veggies?  I can't imagine most kids liking these as they aren't very sweet.
I do believe we got our recommended daily allowance of vegetables, not only for today, but tomorrow as well.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Live in Austin Texas

I won't complain about the heat in this post, really I won't.  Just to tell you that it was 98 at 5 p.m. the other evening when we walked into Waterloo Records, downtown Austin.  We went to a CD release party for one of the old timer Texas artists.  Billy Joe Shaver is a legend around here, well loved by many people.  The place was packed full of folks, to capacity in fact. A very mixed crowd, young and old.  A lot of people were standing outside in front peering in through the windows.  Hard to get photos, because it was so crowded, but we got a few.
Billy and Casper before the show
Me, getting a hug from Billy Joe before the show. I was talking as usual, so I'm blurry.
Sometimes it's best to just go and not even attempt to take photos.  But, the point of this post, really is to tell you, that as much as I complain about the weather here in the summertime, this is the other side of living in Austin.  Live music every where you go, and an atmosphere that just can't be beat.  What you have heard about Austin really is true, that it is an awesome city.  The latest statistics show that 140 people move here every day. Because of that, it is losing some of its ease of getting around, but still has not lost its flavor.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st in Austin Texas

We had a cool front today...Ha Ha.  It was only 72 when I got up, and I sat on the front porch with a cup of coffee.  Went out around 10:30 and it was only 82, was very nice.  Went to the stone yard with hubby, and to the garden center next door to look at plants.  Walked around for awhile.  I'm not saying it wasn't HOT...but it only got up to 91 today, the coolest August 1 since 1998.  Weather guy says we will be in the low 90's this week-end.  Likely the coolest temps we will have until October. 

I love this front porch at the stone yard..very Texas looking, it just needs an armadillo.

The garden center next door, which we drive by weekly, but have never stopped in before, has the kind of local plants you don't find at Lowe's or Home Depot.  We only bought a creeping rosemary for the side yard and one of those lovely chartreuse green sweet potato vines.  But found the Mexican Bird of Paradise, they just didn't have the ones with the yellow blooms that I want. The one with the yellow blooms is actually called Caesalpinia Mexicana and the blooms look like this. 

 We ordered these cute fountain grasses, called Little Bunny. They had already sold every one they had today.
They had these lovely wooden arches and a lot of statuary, but I only looked.  I cannot bring home anymore things for the yard, that will eventually have to be moved.  Hard to resist though.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Barometric Pressure Blues

Lately I have become sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  Yeah, I know, that's an old one..but very apropos. I dislike summers in Texas, and every year attempt coming up with better ways to deal with it, since I can't always run away to my other home.  We have hovered around 100 degrees for a week and a half, with occasional thunderstorms that only drop the temps a bit for awhile. But the constant change is enough to throw me off kilter.

The past week has been pretty rough.  This is giving me fits to no end. I spent 4 solid days with a headache that never quite went away.  Sinus pressure, always verging on migraine, or feeling like I was recovering from one.  Medication did no good, except to remove the intense migraine issues, but the nagging headache lingered on.  Went to bed with it, woke up with it, it hung around all day.  Finally on Tuesday it seemed to clear, and I felt much better on Wednesday.  Then yesterday, I had an eye appointment and after the series of  bright lights in my eyes, guess the time I got out of there I had another migraine! Fortunately it didn't last long and I was fine by bedtime.

Needless to say, I have been spending a lot of time with the shades drawn and resting.  When I have felt better I've been sketching and painting a little bit, trying to keep up with the class I am taking, from the fabulous Mary Ann Moss.  Her classes are a riot, and I am behind, but still enjoying it.  I have my supplies strung all over my work table and stop and do a bit each time I pass by. Watercolor is hard, but teacher assures us that, as with anything, practice and you get better. Her approach is a lot more relaxed than the "traditional" type watercolor classes I have attempted before. I say attempted, because I never really completed them.  I could never learn to render accurate sketches that seem to be required, so gave up.  Some of my sketches are pretty laughable, in fact most of them I won't be sharing any just yet...but soon...soon.   Well..okay, just one, and it's okay if you laugh along with me.  In fact, I insist that you do!  After I had it finished and painted, I noticed that I had 5 pods and 6 stems.... So you can easily tell which pod I added in last.   Back to the drawing board!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day Week-end

Out to the Circuit of The Americas racetrack for the Austin Symphony concert and the 4th of July Fireworks.  The track is only 20 minutes from our house, so it is much easier to get to than other places they have had events at before.  It is a redundant statement to say it was really Texas, this time of year. was really hot and I wilted the moment I stepped out the door.  Thankfully, because we are season ticket holders, we had VIP passes so our parking lot was right across from the front entrance.  It only took us about 15 minutes to get to the area that was reserved for us. But it was still out in the direct sun and it was 4 p.m.  There were two areas we could use, one, seating down in front of the stage, or behind the stage on a grassy area facing turn one.  That is where the fireworks were being shot off from, behind turn one.  I was already exhausted....Ha Ha.  But we picked a place and sat our cooler and bags down, while Hubby went back to the car and hauled our chairs and umbrella over.  There was a nice hot breeze blowing, so it was not too bad.  I did find a spot to stand in the shade and visit awhile with the staff who were guarding the VIP area, to make sure the folks without passes didn't get in.  Ha Ha.  Believe me, the whole place is really nice, and every area was great, ours was just up higher and better for viewing the fireworks.  Or so we were told, but actually, they were pretty visible from everywhere.

Side view of the top of the 360 ampitheatre.

Selfie with Officers Brenmer and Tank.  Yes, I do look like Bo Peep in that hat.  It was not intentional.
In the direct sun with the tower behind us.  Around 98 degree temperature.

These two little girls kept our section entertained, by running up and down the slope to the fence then pulling one another back up, taking their shoes off, putting them back on, etc. They only fell down one time, laughed and got up and kept going.
 Seating area in front of the stage
 The orchestra

The Mayor, introducing some of the World War II veterans who had just returned from an Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

The end of the evening.
I had to spend a lot of time yesterday just recovering from being out in the heat for so many hours.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I will hang the Prayer Flag

While I was spending time in Idaho, when I was not watching the birds, or watching the garden change daily and cutting flowers, I did some stitching.  I sat by a window in the sun room where the light was natural and with the window open, I could hear the fountain in the pond, and the birds chirping.  I free form stitched a few things.  I practiced my French knots on a small banner, and I did this prayer flag, in honor of my Father.  I used denim from an old pair of my husbands jeans, and bits that I had cut from a few of my Dads' well worn western shirts. On the back is a blue plaid panel from a different shirt than the piece on the front. The buttons are from an old vest that his sister had made him, and the deer was embroidered on the vest.  I cut around it and attached it to the flag.  The other fabrics are recycled as well.  As I stitched, I thought about long ago memories of my Dad and how well he took care of me and my siblings, how hard he worked, how his sense of humor kept everyone who knew him smiling.  It was very meditative, sometimes emotional, but it was healing for me. On the 19th, it will have been 5 months since his passing.  I've been avoiding thinking about Fathers Day this year. However, tomorrow, I will find a suitable place to hang this flag outside where we can see it every day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Well, Yes indeed, those birds did fly

I had watched and taken so many photos of those robins, and I was so hoping I would get to see them leave the nest and fly.  I was scheduled to leave on the 30th and was getting nervous.  They all three looked so crowded in the nest, and kept standing up and flexing their wings.  A couple of times, it looked as if one might "fall" out, or take off any minute. I would go to the window every morning when I woke up, and on the 29th, two were sitting up very tall in the nest, and the third looked like it was smashed under the weight of the others.  I always left the camera right on the window sill so it would be ready.  That morning I turned and walked across the room to get my coffee and when I came back the two were GONE!!!  All that time watching and waiting, and I missed it, drats!!!  I looked around on the ground and did not see them, not on the fence, nowhere.  Anyhow, the third one was sitting there alone, and I was determined not to miss his leaving.  So I camped out by the window, and waited and waited some more.  I took several videos of him standing, wobbling, settling back down, Mama coming to feed him, still he stayed there. I got a lot of photos of him, my arms were hurting from the long sessions of holding my phone and/or camera up to the window.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, I was on the phone talking to hubby and lamenting the fact that I had missed the first two leaving.  Lo and behold the last one took off.  I got to SEE it but no photo.  He,( I had been calling him he,) but don't know.  Anyhow, he flew about 20 feet to the fence. He kind of glided, did not really flap his wings.  There he sat for at least 15 minutes.  I could imagine his little bird brain thinking, well what do I do now.  Mama sat above on the tall birdhouse a few feet away.  After a very long time, he flew off the fence down on the other side, where I could not see. The end of the bird saga, but I was so happy they flew the day before I had to leave.

I have finished sorting through hundreds of photos, most very blurry, since I was using cell phone mostly, and through the window.  Anyhow, I have put together a progression of photos, some of them are clearer than others.  Enjoy. I certainly did enjoy watching these robins, and hope to repeat it next spring.

May 21st
May 25th feed us!
May 27th getting ready
May 27th 12pm
May 28th 4pm

May 28th 5pm

May 29th 10am. 2 have flown, last one left

Mama waiting and watching
Sitting on fence looking up at Mama

The End