Misc. Updates – Painting, Crochet and Weather

It seems we are ready for some misc. updates. I’ve been doing better keeping this updated in general this year, but I am lacking on the postcards. I’ll have to work on that.

We’ve had our first major frost, and it’s been colder than average the past week or so. It is supposed to warm up in the next two days before dropping down again so maybe I will get two final bike rides in. I sure hope so.

Mom and I went up to clean up the cemeteries on the 13th, and took the back way home to take some photos for later painting inspiration. I think this has been the most beautiful autumn I ever remember. It’s so lovely, it fuels my neuroses and makes me wonder if the beauty is to make up for a horror that will arrive soon. Do you ever feel that way? Anyhow, I pulled over at Goldies Motel to snap #10. This photo has not been retouched. The colors were that amazing.

Goldies Motel

I’ve been doing website updates at work. The shelter is closed to the public through the end of the year, except by appointment. It’s more peaceful this way, and we’ve still been doing fine with adoptions. I do miss the Trail of Terror though, and dressing up for Halloween, even though it is a ton of work. Donna and Jerry Castleberry died from COVID-19 this past weekend. Cases are climbing in Calhoun County.

crochet blanket

I’ve been watching streaming and crocheting in the evenings. This blanket is for a relative. The colors reminded me of water…that of the ocean and of the great lakes. It’s Lion Brand Mandala which is self striping, and I’m doing my old trusty repeating HDC using an L hook. I watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 which was quite good. And the Haunting of Bly Manor. Just started Deadwater Fell.

When I am not painting, it seems I am always thinking of painting. I’m taking an online class to build my skills now. I’ve been working on color swatches which is helping me to pick colors I guess. So I have learned something new from the class. It is cool we live in a time when we can take classes and learn so much online. This is my latest piece, which was inspired by a photo in an old Sunset magazine. It’s in gouache and is piece #22. It serves as a reminder that you absolutely need a ruler to draw your horizon line. But I think the rocks are pretty good.

painting #22

I got my flu vaccine and have been having nightmares and bad headaches again. Not because of the vaccine, but just because. I’m finding it somewhat hard to concentrate on writing snail mail letters and impossible to read.

Crocheting and Biking

crochet

I finished the third of three baby blankets. This was a really soft, fuzzy yarn that was hard to work with, but the nursery color needed is coral and it fit that perfectly. It’s my standard, continuous rows of half double crochet. On this one, I did a border of rows of half double crochet as well because the yarn is so thick and fuzzy you’d never be able to see a scallop pattern. My friend liked it, and I’ve moved on to another blanket, this one using mandala yarn. Expect an update.

As I’ve been crocheting, I’ve also continued watching documentaries. A Secret Love on Netflix was excellent. Such a heartwarming love story. Athlete A on Netflix was a horrific look in to Larry Nassar and the US Women’s Gymnastics program. A good watch just the same. I started watching Dick Johnson is Dead and honestly I couldn’t get past about 12 minutes of it. Life is too short to watch uninspiring tv or movies. Anyhow, I’m making pretty good progress on the available likely nominees for 2021 Best Documentary Oscars. I have also started the next season of Great British Baking Show, which is balm for my sore and aching heart, and the Haunting of Bly Manor which I am enjoying. We’ll watch the West Wing reunion this week, and have one more episode to go of Raised by Wolves.

I’ve put on 954 miles on the bike this year. Over the weekend I pulled my back gardening and it is supposed to get quite cold this week. I’d like to think I can still get out a few more rides and break 1,000 miles. It’s easier to do it on a sunny day, because at least the sun is warming. Coming up with a replacement exercise plan for winter is going to be challenging.

Kindness is the Most Flattering Thing to Wear

Friday, August 14, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an interesting post on The Fold Line group. Anna Forsaeus wrote: “A little OT, but here goes: How do you guys feel about “flattering” when it comes to clothing? I have started to loathe the word, because I feel it restricts me. It wasn’t up until I turned 50 a few years ago that I started to try and rid myself of the concept. I am a plus size (another concept to discuss…) woman with an hourglass figure, and I’ve always been told, and thought, that I should emphasize my waist. BUT I HATE WEARING CLOTHES THAT EMPHASIZES MY WAIST! (Sorry, didn’t mean to scream). I find them uncomfortable and not at all my style. My style icons are fierce women with an androgynous take on their outfits. However, I still struggle with this. Anyone else?” Ms Forsaeus linked to this story in the Guardian, and her post on Facebook received a lot of feedback. It made me think of my own clothing, as well as how I judge others.

This point is generally where I have a conversation with myself about body autonomy. Other people are in charge of their bodies, and I am in charge of mine. It’s not for me to judge other people for how they look, what they wear, or how they decide to present themselves physically to the world. If someone is overweight, it’s simply not my business. I am dieting and exercising like crazy these days. But that’s my concern. I’m not dieting and exercising because people like Bill Maher think I need to as a civic duty.

To make mental comments about what others wear can be a dangerous step into making mental comments about what others can and can’t do. Judging can lead to ableist, sexist, racist, ageist, and transphobic thoughts. You know what I mean:

“She’s too old to wear that”
“Is that a man wearing a dress”
“No man is going to find her attractive in that”
“He’s too lazy to put on anything but sweatpants”

Don’t be that person. Don’t be that person to yourself, either. Celebrate yourself! Ask yourself, do I wear clothing for myself, or for other people? I think I’d like to be the person who wears what I want to wear because I love it. Full length cape? Ok! Sequins? Absolutely! I’m sewing a dress (above photo) and I’m not sure what it will look like on me when I’m done. But that will be for me to decide. Do I like it, or do I not? Does it make me feel good when I wear it? Forget “flattering” and focus on being kind to yourself and others. Kindness is the most important thing you can wear.

Latest Paintings and Misc. Updates

Monday, April 13, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

Apparently there’s an entirely new version of WordPress, with blocks, and I will need to get used to it. Fine. At least the website is back up, after having some issues on the transition from Lunarpages to Host Papa or whatever it is now. The techs were great though. I’ve continued painting. The above acrylic is from a photo I took several years ago when Kirsten, Mom and I went up to Mackinaw City. I’m fairly pleased with the way it turned out.

This above squirrel image is a study in gouache, from a photo I took last year in Boston. I’m still doing every other painting in acrylic and gouache. Last night I sketched the next gouache study, from a photo I took many years ago in North Carolina. My only regret in my painting is not having the energy/time to paint. If there’s the time, I seldom have the energy.

March and April 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19. Facemasks, scary grocery shopping trips where there aren’t enough goods like dried beans, yeast, canned goods and toilet paper. Not making eye contact with anyone as they are seen as disease carriers. “Social Distancing” and staying a minimum of 6 feet apart. Non-essential services shut down. The shelter closed to the public on March 17 and we laid off front desk staff members on March 24. All meetings are conducted via Zoom. My schedule is close to normal, and the kennel techs are working normal schedules. I FaceTime with Mom each night and Bob talks to his Dad on the phone. We had to cancel our spring Martini event for work and greenhouses are shut down. As of yesterday, there were 71 cases of coronavirus in Calhoun County, 23,993 cases in Michigan and 1,392 deaths in Michigan. 558,999 total US cases and 22,154 US deaths. Worldwise, there have been 1,872,073 cases and 116,098 deaths. Who knows when things will go back to ‘normal’ or what normal will even look like.

Misc. Updates

In 2020, I decided that I would take up painting with acrylics. Thought it could work a different part of my brain. I have started my first painting, which is based on a photograph I took of a sunrise at the shelter. It’s not quite done yet, but it is coming closer.

If you know you will be sending international mail over the next year (say, you write holiday greeting cards on behalf of the homeless cats in the Humane Society shelter, and those cats have an international following), you’ll want to note that some postal rates including international stamps go up in price on January 26. First class forever stamps are unaffected. It’s only 5 cents a stamp, and I’m happy to support USPS. February is International Correspondence Writing Month – InCoWriMo. So hopefully friends and family will receive some snail mail. I’m not committing to a letter every day, but hopefully those with whom I regularly send letters will receive one during the month.

So far, we’ve had a little bit of snow in November, December, and January but lots of more reasonable temperatures in between. I know a lot of people don’t like the freeze/thaw cycle, but I find it nice to have snow and cold and then have it all go away. I can’t personally do much to change the weather anyhow, so I might as well enjoy it when I can. I am not quite counting down the days until spring, but I am looking forward to the day the sun rises before 8:00am.

2019 Bullet Journal

Thursday, February 14, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

It’s a new year, and I just started on my third bullet journal. You can read the original post here. I really enjoy the creative process of putting the journal together, and I enjoy tracking things like the weather and the amount of sunshine we receive here in Michigan in the winter (not much). I understand my Grandpa used to keep track of the weather as well, so it must run in families or something. My monthly goal pages look just about the same as in the original post I made, as is the monthly tracking log. The weekly spreads are also pretty much the same. I have added some new overall tracking pages though, and I think doing it for so long, it looks a little cleaner.

Weekly Spread:

2019 Monthly Plans:

Sun Tracker:

Bullet Journal

Thursday, February 16, 2017 0 No tags Permalink

Bullet Journal

It seems like everyone these days has a bullet journal. I first read about it in Buzzfeed last May. And then I started seeing them all over in Instagram and Pinterest. Touted as “The Analog System for the Digital Age” (see the details here), there have been countless articles written about the Bullet Journal, or BuJo. A lot of people use them for productivity. Some people use them as calendars. If you know me, you know I maintain a series of lists of work tasks already, and update them weekly. I also have a big House of Doolittle calendar that I buy yearly and drag with me everywhere:

calendar

Additionally, I keep my hours and a short task list of what I’ve done during the work day in an excel chart. Did I really need a third way of tracking all of this information? I mean, there are a lot of nice things about the journals. I love a nice notebook, don’t you? And I have a good sized collection of fountain pens, washi tape and different colors of inks. I often find myself scrolling back through my Instagram photos to see what I was doing or what the weather was like a year ago, but I don’t take photos every day so that’s kind of hit or miss on what I will find. Ultimately, I decided to start a Bullet Journal to track things outside of work that have meaning, and use the BuJo as a bit of a creative outlet as well.

Now, there are a million ways to set these up, and I encourage you to look around online, especially on pinterest, if you are looking for ideas. But here’s my set-up.

Monthly Goal Pages

bujo2

Each month I set up a goal page. It has a tiny calendar on the top so I can see how the weeks flow, a quote about the weather or the month or something inspirational, and three boxes for tasks, joy and resolutions. The task box is stuff I need to accomplish or projects I want to get done. March is National Crochet Month, so I need to keep that in mind and make sure I have goals set for those projects. I also want to finish sewing a purse I cut out months ago. I just started working on this page for next month, so I haven’t added all of my tasks…honestly, I’m likely going to add some of the February tasks that I might not get done this month. The joy section is a small list of things I can look forward to in the upcoming month for when I’m feeling a bit blue. These are not big things, just small things that could bring a bit of daily joy (did you know a small Shamrock Shake only has 150 MG of sodium?). The resolutions aren’t really big new years resolutions, but things I resolve to do/track/work on during the month.

Monthly Tracking Log

Bullet Journal

Next to the monthly goal page I keep a monthly tracking log. The top portion are good things that I want to track (doing a great job on the daily letters!) and the bottom portion are things I don’t want to or shouldn’t do (like take ibuprofen every day). In an ideal world, at the end of the month the whole top portion would be filled in and the whole bottom portion would be blank. I don’t necessarily track the same things every month, and normally the items on my ‘resolutions’ box from the monthly goal page are in the tracker.

Weekly Spreads

bujo4

Next up are my weekly spreads. I tried a number of formats before I settled on this. And every week is different…that’s where the creative outlet comes in. I try different hand-drawn fonts, or add different washi tape bits or stickers. Sometimes I try drawing something. I always put the sunrise/sunset times (right below the weekday), and the average and actual temperatures (at the bottom of the day). At the end of each day, I draw an indication of the weather…partly sunny, rain, snow, etc. I do note in the meetings I have for the week, as I now wind up taking the BuJo home to work on at night instead of dragging the calendar along. I don’t really write my task list for work, though. I also have a section where I write something I’m grateful for each day, and then there’s a small note section as well. Here’s next week’s page spread, themed for Twin Peaks Day:

bujo5

Special Pages

I have a number of other special pages for things I want to track over time. There is one for my stand-up paddleboarding and one for crochet projects. I have a page for craft project ideas and a list of birthdays so I can remember to buy cards. I have a sun seeker page where I track days with some measurable sun, and a page for garden and nature observations (thunderstorm on January 17, the starlings returned to their nest on January 30). I have a page where I am keeping track of who I write to each day, so I don’t seem like a nut and write to the same person twice in a week.

Supplies

There’s not much to a Bullet Journal…a notebook and a pen would work. But if you go to Michaels or follow boards on Pinterest, you’ll quickly learn that there are a ton of supplies you can use for your BuJo. Here’s what I use:

  • Rhodia notebook, dot grid, 5.5 x 8.3 inches. I have a number of Leuchtturm notebooks as well, but I find that some of the inks show some shadowing or even a bit of bleed through. The Rhodia doesn’t.
  • Pens/Ink – this is another area where I can use my fountain pens and ink. Since I first do the designs in pencil and erase after inking, it’s always helpful to test on something else if the ink will smear. The Noodler’s ink always smears no matter how long it sits. All of the black is done with Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pens (2 Pack from Amazon). They don’t smear, they don’t bleed and they have a nice bit of flex. Love them and at $8 for the set, it’s totally worth it.
  • Markers – I have the Kuretake Pocket color brush set in 12 colors. Sometimes I want more colors, but I deal with what I have.
  • Colored Pencils – I use a large Crayola set. They aren’t great, but it’s what I had and I don’t hand draw much. You could probably get a better set.
  • Washi Tape – At first, I didn’t understand it. Now, it’s an addiction. I use it on the BuJo. I use it on my envelopes for letter writing. I love it, and have many rolls in many different themes.

So that’s it. Are you thinking of starting a Bullet Journal? I’d love to hear about it!

February Update

Friday, February 3, 2017 0 No tags Permalink

February Update

After sporadic posting altogether, and only postcards in months, it is time for a February Update. One of my goals is to post two times a week in February, so you should be seeing a few update posts not related to postcards in addition to the regular postcard posts.

Now that we are past Groundhog Day, we have 45 days until the official start of spring. We have not seen much sun lately, and February is supposed to be a bit colder than average. The starlings at the shelter did return to the nest earlier in the week, which is a good sign. We have one robin sticking around, but I saw him in December so I am thinking he just lives here year-round. Still, I have heard the male chickadees singing their spring song a few times. I am still hoping I can be out on the paddle board April 1, but that may be a bit early.

December Updates

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

Misc. December Updates

xmasheads
Here we are, at year-end, and I haven’t done a good job of posting anything other than postcards. Today’s a good day for Misc. December Updates. First, it’s been unseasonably warm this year. Freakishly warm. 60 degrees on Thanksgiving. Bob and I took two walks downtown that day, and had a wonderful dinner with all our family at Mom’s house. That’s the Elizabeth Building above. It was built in 1912 and named for the builder’s wife, according to this. For as long as I remember, The Hair Shed has decorated this window with their wigs. I’ve always found it fascinating.

xmaslights

It’s supposed to be warm this week, too. How warm? According to Accuweather:

weather

 

We’ve had some amazing sunrises:

sunrise

And fantastic sunsets, too:

sunset

Bob installed my cat weathervane on the new shelter pole barn. Don’t you love it? I do!

Last night, the winter solstice came at 11:49pm. We are celebrating the first day of the return to the light tonight, with taco soup, cheddar jalapeno bread and a steamed pudding. I’ll be sure to take a photo of the pudding if it turns out. I’m posting regularly on Instagram if you want to see what I’m doing on a regular basis. I’m sitting on a ton of new postcards for the new year. Wishing you and yours much joy in the year ahead.

Misc. Monday

moon

Wooooo dog, this post has it all. It’s been months since I’ve done a general, non-postcard update. So here it is, the fruits of the summer.

tomatillos

Our veggie garden did great this year. I made two batches of salsa verde (tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno).

tomatos

In addition to tomatoes for eating, I made a batch of sauce and cooked down two batches of tomato paste (boil and peel tomatoes, puree, cook down, put in pan in 350 degree oven and bake until paste).

cabbage

And I made a batch of sauerkraut. We got a fair amount of radishes. Three heads of cabbage. Lots of tomatoes. A few carrots. Good lettuce and arugula. Next year we’re planting more green beans and more peppers. This year we also got a compost barrel (and inside bucket) and we’re composting our kitchen waste. Right now I also have a batch of hard cider cooking. It’s exciting!

crochetblanket

I’ve been crocheting up a storm. I made a mint lap blanket for a friend. Then I made this lap blanket with a ruffled edge. LOVE the ruffled edge. The yarn is Simply Soft Paints Yarn in Rose Garden.

crochetscarf

I loved the yarn so much (and overbought), so I made a scarf and sent it to a friend who needed a scarf. Now I’m working on another scarf for another friend.

I’ve been reading, too. Just finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (very good) and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (excellent). Here’s how I turned out with the Summer Reads 2015:

 

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Wishing Thread: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

All but two done, but I made up with two others. Not bad.

I’m getting ready to start sewing again. I have to make my Halloween costume for Howl-O-Ween at the shelter. And I have a new pattern to make a dress. Just need to pick up the fabric and I’m ready to go.

How about you? Can you believe summer is over and we’re well into autumn already?