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I’m Back!

It sure has been a long time since I have put up a blog post. I decided to give myself a break because the “every Wednesday without fail” thing had started to feel like a burden. I was having trouble coming up with things to write about and I wanted to give it a rest for a while. I was just about ready to get back to it when we had a little election in America and I didn’t want to talk about that, so I prolonged my break. I had no heart for blogging, but time kept moving on and, suddenly, I have reached another blogiversary. I don’t want to let one of those pass without posting something.

I started this blog four years ago because I wanted to motivate myself to do creative things. I was arriving at my fifty-ninth birthday, which meant I was about to begin my sixtieth year and I didn’t want it to be another year of procrastination. I wanted to give creativity a chance. I promised myself that I would do fifty creative things before my sixtieth birthday. I also promised myself that these would include at least one art doll, one art quilt and one 16” x 20” painting. These were the creative pursuits that most called to me, but that first year was, otherwise, wide open. I did all kinds of creative things and, of course, put off the “Big Three” until very near the end of my blog year.

I met my goal that year and then I started thinking about a goal for the next year. I surprised myself by enjoying painting more than any other creative pursuit I tried that year. My second blog year goal was to create fifty paintings. I procrastinated on that one, too, but I met my goal. Then it was time to pick another one. Painting was still fun for me, but I had spent that second blog year painting almost exclusively indoors. I wanted to push myself into a larger world, so I set a new goal that I knew would be more challenging than any I had set before. I decided to do fifty paintings en plein air. I hoped and prayed that I would not procrastinate, since that would mean painting outdoors in the coldest weeks of the year but, of course, that is exactly what I ended up doing. I finished my fifty plein air paintings just in time for my birthday. Most of them were tiny, but I did paint fifty of them. I was happy, but I was exhausted. I decided not to set a new painting goal for my fourth blog year. I did keep up with the blog itself for another eight months. Then I hit a wall. I was out of town, on a wonderful vacation that turned scary when my husband had a health crisis far from home. I just didn’t want to write about that. I didn’t want to write about anything. I was only going to take a short break, but I couldn’t make myself go back to blogging.

Until today, that is. Today, I am starting a new blog year. I haven’t painted lately, but I find myself itching to set up my palette again and get started. It’s a Sta-wet palette that has been sitting closed up all this time, so I will be tossing all the contents and airing it out for a while. I am ready for a fresh start.

About the Blog

My regular followers probably noticed that I didn’t publish a post last Wednesday. I was in a hotel that night and being in a hotel that night was not the original plan. According to the original plan, I should have been home by then. I was not prepared to write another blog post on the road. I did try, but when it got to be 10:20 pm and I saw that I was just getting a good start, I decided to let it go.

I decided to let this one go, too, but then I realized I wanted to explain why, so here I am. I chose to keep up the Wednesday blog posts because I was enjoying them. I looked forward to Wednesdays because they were my blog days. I’m not sure when that sense of anticipation turned into a sense of obligation, but it did. It made me think of my favorite quote from Ghostbusters II, “The joyfulness is over.”

I want blogging to be joyful. If it’s not joyful for me, it can’t possibly be joyful for my readers. I’m tired. I was on the road for a solid month and being home is both a relief and a disappointment. I saw so many wonders on my vacation that it’s a little hard to adjust to daily life again. Still, I missed this house. I missed my children and grandchildren. I missed my fellow singers in the Don Thompson Chorale.

It is good to be home. It is good to be back in my comfy chair. It is good to be singing again. I’m sure it will be good, eventually, to be blogging again. Just not every single Wednesday without fail. That’s not fun any more.

Even More Vacation

Last week, we made it to Portland, Oregon and Voodoo Doughnut. Today, we are still in Oregon. I’m pretty sure we will be in California later today, but Oregon is making it hard to leave. We spent several days on the coast. We camped at Lookout Point, where we could hear the ocean from our campsite. The sunset was gorgeous.
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We spent three nights in Tillamook, at the Western Royal Inn. That was not our original plan, but my husband had a health problem that cropped up on Friday and we needed to hang around until Monday for a follow-up appointment. He was okay after treatment and we took advantage of the extra time in Tillamook to see some more of the Oregon coast. We saw the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast, on Cape Meares, and the tallest one in Yaquina Head State Park.
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We saw two Oregon Heritage trees, Big Spruce (the largest Sitka Spruce in Oregon) and the Octopus Tree.
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We saw trees so mossy, they looked as if they had soft green fur coats. Forests here are deep and wet. We haven’t seen a Sasquatch yet, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised to run into one among these endless tall trees.
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Yesterday, we made it to Crater Lake, which was fogged in and surrounded by snow-covered evergreens. We stayed there quite a while, throwing snowballs at each other and marveling at the view. Our patience was rewarded when the wind picked up a bit and cleared enough of the fog that we could actually see the lake. I have never seen water such a deep shade of blue. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I will add some anyway. We took dozens.
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When we finally pulled ourselves away from Crater Lake and got back on the road, our journey was blessed with a beautiful rainbow.
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Oregon, how can we leave you?

More Vacation

Too many wonders. Not enough words. I took hundreds of pictures in Yellowstone. Here’s one:
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We camped there, in the Norris Campground, for two nights. We saw as much as we could, but you could spend a lifetime exploring that place and never see all there is to see. Old Faithful is a must, of course.
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My favorite place in the park was the Norris Geyser Basin. It was full of spitting geysers and pearlescent pools.
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When we left Yellowstone, we went straight to Grand Teton National Park, which was breathtaking in a whole different way.
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We saw potato fields in Idaho and onion fields in Oregon. We saw beautiful parks and waterfalls. Today, we landed in Portland, Oregon. My one goal was to make it to Voodoo Doughnut, but first, we needed to find a parking spot. Portland is a busy city and it wasn’t looking good. We were almost about to give up in despair, when my husband spied it — a spot on the curb, just a few blocks from Voodoo Doughnut.
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Success!

Vacation

We are on vacation and I am seeing marvelous things. I’ve already crossed two things off my bucket list: Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.
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They were both impressive, but it was easier to leave Mt. Rushmore than it was to leave Devil’s Tower. Mt. Rushmore is a wonderful work of art, but Devil’s Tower has a natural spirit that is more ancient and more sacred. As long as there have been people living within sight of Devil’s Tower, they have considered It a holy place. It is breathtaking, even from a distance. I gasped the first time it came into view. I kept marveling at it all the way to the visitor center, where we got out of the car so we could get even closer. We thought we might just get a good look and move on, but there was a trail we just couldn’t resist. It goes all the way around the tower. It’s just 1.3 miles, so we thought it wouldn’t take long, but we were wrong about that. Progress is slow when you stop every few feet to take a picture.

We changed our minds about getting back on the road and making some progress towards Yellowstone. We decided to stay in the Devil’s Tower campground.
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We wanted to spend more time with this view.

Vacation Time

This is going to be one of those, “I don’t have time to blog today and I just came here to tell you that” blog posts. I have spent the last few days trying to do all the things I absolutely had to do to before my husband and I could go on vacation. We start that vacation tomorrow morning and I need to pack up my netbook, so I need to make this short and sweet.

Short, anyway. I’m excited about my trip but exhausted from getting ready for it, so I don’t think I will start feeling relaxed until I get out of the state of Florida. That doesn’t take long when we’re heading north. Jacksonville is only about forty minutes from the Georgia border. It takes a lot longer when we’re heading west, which is what we’re doing tomorrow morning. The Florida panhandle is long, but we will jog north into Alabama at some point. We might even be catching part of Georgia. My husband has probably told me exactly where we’re going, but I’ve been stressing out over preparations, so I don’t remember.

I let him plan our whole route last September and we had the best vacation of our lives, so I have no qualms about trusting him with this trip, too. He has retired from his office job, so this journey will be more open-ended than the last one. I told him I would like to see Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower and giant redwoods if we have enough time. I’m the one who needs to be back. There are tie-dye things that need to be done.

I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with this blog while we’re on the road. We will be camping in our Little Blue Teardrop Trailer and some of the campgrounds may not have wifi or even a phone signal. I just don’t know, but I will keep up if I can. We will be seeing some beautiful scenery, so I know I will want to share pictures.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the load-up.
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Once I add this netbook, I think we’ll be done for tonight.

An Evening Walk

My husband spoke up at seven-thirty this evening and said, “Do you want to take a walk?”

“A walk?” I said, “It’s seven-thirty on Wednesday and I haven’t written a blog post yet. I don’t even know what I’m going to write about. I don’t have time for a walk.”

“You could take pictures on the walk and write about that,” he said.

I didn’t have a better plan and he really wanted to go on a walk, so I gave in at that point and we headed out the door. The first thing I saw was our little garden patch in the back yard. The oregano had been wilted and bedraggled after our most recent heat wave but then Tropical Storm Hermine passed by and gave us rain. It looks perky now.
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Next was our neighbor’s small citrus tree. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you may remember seeing a small painting of this tree during last year’s landscape challenge. It’s still pretty cute. I may have to paint it again.
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After that, we noticed something we have to watch out for or we end up bringing them home on our shoes – hitchhiker burrs.
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This passion flower was spectacular. It was very near the sidewalk so I could get a good shot of it without zooming or trespassing.
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I love this white picket fence with flowers at its feet.
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We wandered on and came to a cactus garden in full bloom.
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We often see bald eagles on this phone tower, but you’ll have to take my word for it. They didn’t show up this time.
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We never know what we might see when we’re walking through our neighborhood. We have no idea why there was a dead mop in the road, but we can all make up interesting stories about it now that we have a picture.
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We could have turned toward home at that point and had a short walk, but if I was going to walk at all, I wanted to hit the one and only Pokestop within reasonable walking distance of my house, so we continued on until we arrived at the community garden. This was the first time I had ever seen a lure on this Pokestop.
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Even with the lure, I only got a Pidgey and a Rattata before we walked on. I don’t think the young man who placed the lure even got those two. He was involved in a heated telephone conversation as we passed by.

Once I hit the Pokestop, I noticed that it was getting dark, but it was too late to take the short route home, so we kept going around the two neighborhood schools. I had to use the flash to get this pretty shrimp plant.
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There’s a retention pond between the two schools and I couldn’t resist trying to get a picture of all the ducks settling in amid the reflections of the schoolyard lights.
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There was barely any light left in the sky as we hurried back to our house. I wish I could have taken a picture of the owl that swooped over us as we neared our driveway, but it happened too fast for me to capture it.
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I did get this oddish, though.

New Hair Color

I’ve been conducting a little hair color experiment lately. I guess most of you know that I tend to keep my hair a color not found in nature. Well, not in hair, anyway. Birds, maybe, but not hair. My natural color is kind of mousy and I may have put up with it when I was an all-natural hippie wanna-be in high school, but I’m a grown-up now and I can have blue hair if I want to. Or pink or bright red or purple or any combination of those colors. It was bright pink back in May, but it had faded badly between May and early August, so I was starting to look more like a bleached blonde than a quirky artist. Bleached blonde may work for some people, but it’s not a good look for me, so I needed to choose a new color.

I decided to go for turquoise. My daughter has used a lot of different brands of quirky hair color and she recommends Punky Colours, so that’s what we were looking for when we went to a local beauty supply store. A nice employee said they did have some and pointed to it on the shelf. They did, indeed, have some Punky Colours, but there was not a single shade of blue on that shelf. I wanted blue and I didn’t know of any other store in town that carried Punky Colours, so I started looking at the other brands. My daughter ruled some out immediately, but there was one there that neither of us had tried before. The brand was “Adore” and it had some pretty shades of blue.

The one I chose was actually called “Emerald” but the hair swatch beside it was definitely not green. It appeared to be the color I was looking for, so I decided to give it a try. My daughter, God bless her, is always willing to apply hair color for me. This is a good thing. The last time I tried to do it by myself, I got dye all over my bathroom. I was using bright red that time, so it looked as if someone had been murdered in there. My daughter doesn’t need a mirror, so she can apply the dye outdoors.

As careful as she is, there are always drips that must be cleaned up along the way. My daughter became concerned because the drips were way too easy to clean off my ears and scalp. She figured that meant the dye was not going to last very long on my hair. It was too late to make a different decision at that point, so she carried on, but we decided that if it washed out too quickly, we would just try another brand the next time. Live and learn, right?

So here’s how the color looked when I first dyed it:
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A week went by and then I took this selfie:
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Another week, another selfie:
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One more week, and it was still blue:
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That was Friday and this was today:
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I highly recommend Adore brand hair color to anyone who wants their crazy color to last more than a day or two. Did you notice the new glasses? I picked those up today. I’m still adjusting to them but I can definitely read the dates on coupons now. And here’s a close-up, for those who read my post last week and wanted to see the skull and crossbones.
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Am I a cool grandmommy or what?

Time For New Glasses

Wednesday has rolled around again and there are a few people who will actually notice if I don’t put up a blog post. They might even worry about me a little, so I intend to save them that worry, even though I don’t have any brilliant ideas for a blog post. What have I been doing this past week? Well, I took my daughter to get new glasses and while I was at the Target Optical Shop, I decided to make an appointment for myself as well. They wanted to know how long it had been since I’d had my eyes examined and I couldn’t remember. I vaguely recalled that I was still working my last cubicle job at the time and I quit that job ten years ago. All I knew for sure was that it was getting harder and harder for me to see the expiration dates on my coupons.

My appointment was yesterday and my daughter rode out to Target with me because she wanted to get her new nose pads checked. She also wanted to hit all the Pokestops between our neighborhood and the Target Optical Shop. I was glad to have her along because I couldn’t drive and hit Pokestops at the same time. I was nervous about my eye exam because it had been so long and I had fuzzy memories of some parts of an eye exam being uncomfortable. My own nerves were far more uncomfortable than the eye exam. I was dreading the glaucoma test. It was nothing. The doctor wanted to dilate my pupils and warned me that the drops would sting. I got all worried and then they didn’t sting at all.

Whew! The exam took some time, but it was not difficult or scary, and soon I will have new glasses that will help me read those expiration dates on my coupons. I had spent a long time looking at frames while my daughter was having her exam last week and I was a bit worried about that because the only frames I liked were children’s frames and I wasn’t sure they would work with my prescription. I looked again at women’s frames and tried to like some of them, but even the lady who was helping me agreed that they were not flattering. I tried and tried, but I kept going back to the children’s frames and finally, the nice lady took measurements and said those frames would work. My daughter said my grandsons would think they were cool because they had little skull and crossbones designs on the sides. I hadn’t noticed that but I’m okay with it. I’m just happy I’m going to be able to read fine print again.

Driving home was a little tricky with the silly little plastic shades they gave me to put under my glasses, but I made it. On the way home, my daughter hit all the Pokestops for both of us. And she caught this:

Vileplume

Vileplume


It’s my first Pokemon with more than 1,000 CP.

More Words

Have I done anything worth blogging about lately? I haven’t painted. I haven’t filed my taxes. I haven’t finished any tie-dye. I started some tie-dye. I watched the weather forecast for weeks, waiting for a good day to put some Rayons into pre-soak. Our favorite customer ordered several dresses and we wanted to get started on them, but Florida is wet in the summer. It rains almost every day and it’s hard to tell, just based on a forecast, which days might be the rare ones without rain.

Day after day, I would see a forecast that called for a twenty percent chance of rain and I would decide not to put anything on the line. The rain did not materialize, or it came late in the afternoon. Finally, I decided to risk it, because Rayon is thin and doesn’t take all day to get dry. On a hot day, it can take as little as two hours. I made my lists, I gathered my Rayons into bags according to color palettes, and I brought in my five-gallon bucket so I could mix up a soda ash solution.

I carried the heavy bucket out to the clothesline and I put the first batch of Rayons into the solution. Once that batch was up on the line, I did the same with the other three bags, one at a time, until all four clotheslines were full of blanks. It was about 9:30 in the morning when I put up the last of them and I thought that would give them plenty of time to dry out before the afternoon thunderstorms could roll in.

I went into the house and sat down to get caught up on Words With Friends and Facebook. From Facebook, I always go right back to Words With Friends because solo play gives me a turn every two minutes. As I mentioned last week, it patronizes me like crazy but I love words, so I keep playing. I have still won every single game. The solo play knows all kinds of words it can’t even find a definition for, but it still loses each and every game. It gives itself all the ten-point letters and gives me mostly vowels and it still loses. It is incredibly good at losing. I was busy putting vowels together in interesting ways when I got a text from my daughter, asking me to take her to the grocery store to get some milk. It was still well before noon, so I had no qualms about leaving the blanks on the line while I took my daughter to Publix. She did her usual shotgun chore of hitting Pokestops along the way and then we caught a couple of Pidgeys in the parking lot before we went inside to get milk.

We were on our way back to my daughter’s house when I started to notice the black clouds gathering. She dropped the milk off at her house and then came back to my house because she needed to do some laundry. It was still morning, but those clouds just kept piling up. Then the sprinkling started. When we got to my house, we went out to the clotheslines and pulled the lighter-weight things that were already done. My daughter brought up a weather map on her phone and we saw a big blob of orange and yellow heading, apparently, straight for my back yard.

The blanks were not dry enough, but if we let them get seriously rained on, the soda ash would rinse out. We needed the soda ash to stay in – that was the whole point – so we quickly pulled everything off the line and brought it in the house. We plunked the bags down and started heating water for coffee, relieved that our blanks were not going through a Mother Nature rinse cycle.

Of course, the storm clouds just broke up and blew away while we were drinking our coffee but it was too late for us to put everything back up. We no longer trusted the sky.