February Update

February Update weather

Today’s high is supposed to be 57 degrees. That’s unusual for the first week of February in Michigan. In fact, today’s normal high/low should be 34/16. It will drop back down and there’s word of a potential winter storm for Valentine’s Day. With 40 days left until the official start of spring, we do have a fair amount of time remaining for cold and snow. Even though it has been a very, very mild winter so far, and we’ve had more sunshine in the first few days of February than in the entire month of January combined, I admit I’m growing weary of winter.

February Update painting

I did complete one painting for January. One of the folks who signed up to do the Humane Society pet portrait punked out, so I painted these two parakeets in gouache. I’m working on a zine now for February also painted with gouache. Hopefully it will turn out well and will be completed this month.

February Update cats

January was a bad month for cats. Cass, above, had a health emergency and spent 48 hours at the vet with IV antibiotics. I really thought we were going to lose him. Bob went with me to take Cass, which really made a big difference to me. I went the next day to visit him at the vet as well, so he knew I didn’t abandon him. Cass is also featured in my Cats zine I created last month. That little cat has my heart, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. We also have ringworm in our kitten population at the shelter, and two different illegal cat drops. The first one included a FIV+ cat which thankfully we were able to transfer to a sanctuary, and the second one involved the police.

Summer in April

summer in April

This week feels like summer in April! The temperatures have been near 80 degrees. The violets and forsythia are in bloom, and there are little leaves on the invasive honeysuckle and willows. The birds are all singing a merry song, and the air just feels different. Now, April 19th is next week and we always have snow right around then. And sure enough, snow is predicted for next Monday. But you know it won’t last. It will be too early to plant for awhile, but it’s time enough to start getting excited!

Mom is going in for knee replacement surgery coming up. I’ll be taking a week off to stay with her. I haven’t had that much time off straight in awhile now.

The new location for Horrocks opened at the mall. Honestly, it’s a nice store than Battle Creek deserves. We don’t deserve good things here. I expect someone will be shot in the parking lot there, as that is what Battle Creek represents. If you live here, you know.

I finished the prose poetry class, and have started up a private facebook group for our class. I hope to keep the interaction going. I’m working on a little side project for prose poetry as well.

I’m starting to get in a panic about the Whisker Mixer event. I’ve really screwed myself this time with what I said I’d do and the time left to do it in. Maybe the world will end before the event?

March Update

March Update Cass in a Hat

It’s mid-month already, and time for a March Update. I would have to look back at previous bullet journals, but I suspect that perhaps my feelings of ennui are normal for the time before the official start of spring. It doesn’t feel or look like spring yet. There’s still snow on the ground, with more on the way. It doesn’t even really feel like there is the promise of spring, and yet the calendar shows otherwise. There’s more grayness than sunshine, and everyone seems a bit unhappy. Another two weeks or a month, and everything will feel different.

I’ve been typing letters on the 1965 Olympia SM9. It is delightful to work on. I continue to struggle with creativity, but letter writing always feels good. I’m taking an online class on writing prose poetry. It is a four-week class. If you haven’t heard of prose poetry, check out Charles Simic’s work. Some of his poems are included in the bottom of that article. My Grandma wrote and enjoyed poetry. I wish I could discuss this class with her.

I’ve been crocheting a lot of infinity scarves. Nothing is selling on Etsy, but maybe they will sell at the craft booth for the Canine Carnival in August. I have two baby blankets and a special comfort blanket to make, with yarn due in today to get started.

February Storm

February storm

We are on the edge of a February storm. This month has been odd for weather, with five days so far 15 degrees or more above average. We are expecting snow, then ice today into tomorrow, and then maybe temperatures at 50 degrees Thursday before plummeting to the 20s for the weekend. Hopefully we won’t lose power and we will be able to get to and from wherever it is we need to go. Cass, above, shows a nod to spring wishes while staying warm with a hat. He is a good office mate and brings me much joy at work. The daffodils in the CWBP are just poking up, but no pussy willows yet. There are flocks of robins at the shelter. It feels more like March weather than February at this point. I am not freaking out so much for the start of spring. Maybe it’s because when it’s cold, all of the idiots are inside instead of outside making noise. Or maybe it’s because we haven’t had much snow and the grass has been mostly visible and winter altogether hasn’t been as harsh as normal.

Typewriter

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of vintage typewriters. Quite often when I write on a computer, I get distracted with other things on the internet (Reddit). I cleaned up my arts space some to make room for a new hobby. So far I’ve written one letter with this 1966 Royal Safari typewriter. It has an interesting script typeface. I used a typewriter a little when I was younger to type papers for school, but we moved into the computer age by high school. This is a lovely machine, and it’s a fun tactile feeling to type on. I’ve got a small stack of letters to catch up on if I ever have time. It seems I never have much time. Then, after that, writing prompts, short stories, and maybe a screenplay? Who knows.

Cats

Mom has a guest at her house. Phantom, or Fanny, is staying with Mom for an unknown amount of time – either when Mom gets tired of her, or she gets a good application for adoption. Fanny was found as a stray, and the woman who found her tried to keep her but her own cats beat on Fanny. Then she came to the shelter, where the cats in the cat room beat on her. She had spent the last several months in a cage alone for her protection. She is becoming more brave and wandering around Mom’s house. She has found her way to the counter tops and everywhere else. We’ve had some cat challenges at the shelter lately. In fact, everything just seems to be kind of difficult at work these days.

Valentine Gifts

This year’s staff Valentines were handmade crochet washcloths with soap paired, lavender sachets, and chocolate. The bags had a lavender sprig attached with a heart wax seal. Right now, I’m crocheting up some cat blankets for Companion Cats for their adoptions. I hope to have two more done before I drop them off. No new sales on Etsy. Anyhow, here is hoping the February storm is lighter on the snow and ice than predicted, with no power outages. Stay safe and warm!

January Blues

january blues

My goodness, the January blues are here and they’ve hit hard. We are down to the last week of the month. Yesterday we had a tiny bit of sunshine, and we really haven’t had much sun at all this winter, but today is a dump of snow. The polar vortex is on the way next week, and it will be super cold again. It always seems to correspond that the January blues happen and we have a bunch of sick or stressed cats at work. I am counting down the days until spring, and I know time is passing, but there’s nothing I’d rather do more than curl up in bed. Fortunately for everyone around me, I am somehow able to get up and remain a productive human being.

january blues

I haven’t managed to get my latest scarves up on Etsy. Maybe I can muster the energy this weekend? Since the start of the new year, I’ve finished four scarves or cowls and I’m working on a fifth. My next one after the one on the hook will be Tunisian crochet for sure. Mom got me some hooks for my birthday and I’m anxious to give it a try.

january blues zine making

The sun briefly came out for Mom’s birthday. We had lunch and made some zines. That’s right, I’m back on my zine making and zine collecting. I even forced a bunch of Girl Scouts to make zines.

Yesterday was also the Oscar Nomination ceremony. I’ve seen three of the ten nominees for best picture already, one of the documentary shorts (plus five on the short list that weren’t nominated), one of the animated shorts, and none of the international, feature documentary, or live-action documentary. I’m going to have to get busy.

It’s Gonna Be May

It's Gonna Be May

It’s Gonna Be May? No, it already IS May, and well into it. This week May feel more like July though, with highs predicted in the 80s. I saw a meme the other day that said something like Summer? No, Outdoor Depression. With the state of the world, it’s hard to look positively on things outside your own home. I’m lucky to have happiness there.

It's Gonna Be May

While I did not manage to create my own postcards to send this year for National Postcard Week 2022, I purchased some cards from amazing artist MN John (check out her website here, postcards and stickers and all amazing!). I didn’t send out many, just enough to feel like I sort of participated this year.

It's Gonna Be May

The flower beds have been all cleaned up, though I haven’t started on the vegetable garden. I did install our tiny water feature, and this Thursday will be putting in the water plants. I’m super excited to see how it turns out. The perennials are coming right up and looking good, but nowhere like they will be in a few weeks. It’s an exciting time of year for gardeners. Just over two weeks until greenhouse day.

It's Gonna Be May - Cass

Work has generally been a giant dumpster fire of stress. Not enough staff, unhappy staff, not enough money. Typical nonprofit stuff, I suppose. Kitten season has started, and as I’ve said before, you should never give your heart to a kitten. Cass here has spend some time in my office helping me work. He’s a good boy.

Ideas on the horizon? More linocut printing, book nooks, more YouTube videos and follow up on My Michigan Garden. Gardening, reading Nature is a Human Right, and waiting for my sleep test. Hope you are having a decent spring, or at least enjoying better weather.

Mid April Misc.

Monday, April 18, 2022 0 No tags Permalink
mid april misc snow

Weather & Garden Update

It’s time for some mid April misc. thoughts. This morning we had snow, enough to coat the grass, but the rain later in the afternoon took care of that. With today’s high at 41 degrees and tomorrow at 43 degrees, we’re about 20 degrees below average for this time of year. Our daffodils at home are at least a week behind. The crocuses in the woodland garden did bloom, though the ones closest to the house were eaten by deer.

The gardening group started some spring clean-up at the shelter, and I cut back two bunches of tall grasses, mulched and caged the baby trees near the paw, and put down some plastic to kill the grass under some new beds. I have yet to do any garden clean up at home. You can see progress on my garden at the My Michigan Garden YouTube channel here.

mid april misc. crocus

50th Wedding Anniversary

On Friday for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary, I took breakfast over and Mom and I ate and looked through her wedding albums. It was a lovely morning. On Sunday, Easter, Bob and I went over for a delicious dinner. The rest of the weekend, we had a plumbing project in the laundry room that took up a good deal of time. Having a washer and dryer in your home really makes a difference.

Art

In my recent Plein Air magazine, there was an article entitled ‘Painting New Mexico’s High Desert’ by John Meister. Sometimes, I’ll read something that will just have me feel in my mind’s eye the description the author paints in words. This article contained such a description:

“Some people get why it’s called the Land of Enchantment the minute they step out of the airport; others spend years here before they realize it’s part of them. For the visitor, the history, sights, and cultural diversity provide a host of experiences. This is a place where stories are born. This is New Mexico.

Santa Fe, one of the top art markets in the country, sits a 50-minute drive north of the state’s largest airport in Albuquerque. The city’s warm adobe walls cast shadows and pitch light in every direction; bright floral gates and windows trimmed in color provide alluring subject matter for visiting plein air painters. At this elevation, the zenith of the sky is a deep ultramarine, and an outdoor painter doesn’t need much training to see this blue clearly reflected in the shaded areas below.

mid april misc. art

I’ve continued to work on some linocut printing. I’ve turned out a fox that was ok, and I’m using this bee to print on notecards for inclusion in my Little Bee Basket for the shelter’s upcoming auction May 5th, Cinco de Meow. My friend and previous boss Tina Slayton passed away. Though she’s been away from the shelter for some time, she helped me through a really rough period where I wasn’t sure if I could continue to work at the organization. She made things better for me, for the staff members, and for the animals. If there is a rainbow bridge where the animals wait, I know Tina’s Gracie will be there. But there will be so many other dogs and cats from the shelter that will be there too, to thank her for caring for them.

Oil Pastels

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
oil pastels seascape

I’ve been spending a little time on oil pastels, and I am so pleased with how the one above turned out. I’m using a Sennelier¬†oil pastel set. They blend beautifully, and there’s something nice about just being able to grab them and get to work on the couch without water and brushes. I did a little quartet of pieces below. I am anxious to do some more painting for sure, especially with the oil pastels. I like the soft pastels, but I haven’t figured out how to blend them without rubbing a hole in my finger tip. There seems to never be enough time to do everything I’d like to do.

oil pastels quartet

Our garden is reaching the end. We have some cherry tomatoes that I’m not sure will ripen. And we’ve had these monstrous cucumbers.

Honestly I don’t even like cucumbers. They are slimy. But I did make three jars of refrigerator pickles and I think they turned out ok. It won’t be long before I start cleaning up the gardens. Some of the asters are still in bloom, but everything else is starting to look kind of dead. The temperatures have been in the 70s during the day and it’s been sunny and lovely out. It seems hard to believe that it’s nearly October already.

No More Amazon

I’m done with Amazon. Their refusal to pay corporate taxes, the way they treat their staff members, and the horror that is Amazon Prime delivery services has finally ended it for me. So for me, it’s no more amazon. I’ll be paying more to place orders at independent stores and will be supporting hopefully the USPS (even UPS and FedEx are better than Amazon Prime deliveries). Today I ordered a book from The Book Beat in Oak Park, Michigan. Last week I ordered two from Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately we don’t have any great independent art supply stores around here, so I usually order from Blick. My favorite peanut butter is cheaper on Amazon, but I ordered directly from the company. And don’t even get me started on Etsy:

Favorite Soap: Pie Town
Watercolor Paint: Ruby Mountain Paint Co.
Washi Tape: my friend Michele at Goat Girl

Anyhow, in July please consider shopping local or supporting independent sellers online. It can really make a difference in their lives! Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite local or online independent retailer.

It’s been raining a crap ton (over four inches in the past week). Everything is wet, inside and outside the house. Ants have moved into my office. But at least we haven’t had to water? Consumer’s Energy gouged electric rates daily from 2:00 – 7:00pm. That’s not an exaggeration. It was literally a 50 percent increase. When it rains forever, it’s pretty humid. And the only way to beat it back is using air conditioning. Which is now much more expensive. At least it’s not as hot as it is in the west right now.

No More Amazon. The rest of my summer reads will be purchased through independent retailers!

I did start the summer reads with Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time. It’s pretty good so far. Lots going on this week, and at this point I’m not sure how everything is going to shake out. In the meanwhile, try to breathe deep and appreciate the little things.

Summer Painting

summer painting #42 - gouache pet portrait

The painting of Star for the Pet Portrait FUNdraiser for the Humane Society is done. Or, at least as done as it’s going to get. It’s framed, too, which should help. I hope the owner is pleased with it. This is painting #42 in gouache, and the first summer painting completed. I enjoyed working on it. As I’ve been doing donation letters at work, I’ve had YouTube painting videos on in the background. For whatever reason, I decided maybe I should try watercolor as well.

summer painting #43 watercolor landscape

So here’s painting #43, my first attempt at watercolor. The sky is good, I think. The rest still needs work. It’s an interesting medium and feels a bit more loose than either gouache or acrylic. I think maybe it also is more of a celebration of color over line?

We had more rain and storms last weekend, but fortunately no power loss or damage. We’re due in for rain every day this week, which will give me back time spent watering. I hate to think of the weeds once the sun comes out again! In Portland temperatures are nearing 110 degrees. Once again, the west is so dry. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the wildfires start. Our arugula is pretty much shot. No green beans or tomatoes yet. The flowers look pretty good though.

News is starting to really come up about the danger of the COVID Delta variant. Michigan is now completely open and I doubt very much if it will close again, no matter the numbers or deaths. Right now we are planning in-person events for the shelter in the fall. Hard to know what that will actually look like. I’ve been working on a variant of the Whole 30 diet plan to get rid of inflammation. It might be starting to work? Giving up sugar is a killer, though. Worse than bread, pasta, salt, or alcohol.