Sunday, April 30, 2006

This Past Week

I accomplished quite a bit this week. I made shutters for my bedroom and am almost finished. All that is left is the painting and mounting them on the nailing strips I also made. I made a mounting board for 2 swing-arm lights that is now put up over our bed. We have been meaning to get those lights since we moved here and just never got to it before.

The weather was good enough to get out and get my landscape lights back up and running. A lot of the bulbs burned out during the winter and I just didn't feel like getting my hands cold replacing them back then. I had to buy 7 new bulbs, that adds up quickly!

Yesterday we took a break and my husband took me out on a drive to Westfield, NY. We went through the antique shops and an art gallery. They have a very nice art gallery with quite a good selection at a little shop called "Surroundings" there on the main street. We stopped and had lunch at a little cafe there in town and then bought a nice big antique frame. It was too big for my picture so I'll just have to paint one that fits because the frame is very old and very nice. I believe (I'm quite sure) it is carved walnut. It doesn't have any of that gesso decorations on it.

We stopped at the new rest stop (westbound) on 90 on the way back to Erie. It is beautiful. It has a gorgeous view of the lake with picnic tables and a vending machine area. The bathrooms are wonderful. It's almost all glass and just clean as a whistle!

This morning my husband was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by one of our cats. He was doing the "Lassie" thing. Running into the other room and back like he was telling him to follow him. He did and the cat showed him his prize. He ran to the prize and batted it a few times and would look up at my husband. Sure enough if that little rascal didn't catch a mouse. The first mouse we've seen in all the 6 years we have been here. The cats were congregated near the dishwasher for the past few days and my husband thought maybe there was a mouse because they all were watching the bottom of the dishwasher. But I said they'd be evidence somewhere (their little calling cards so to speak) and there wasn't any anywhere. But I was wrong.

What surprises me most is that little cat caught that mouse and he didn't even have claws. He's declawed and I figured without them they'd never be able to catch a mouse. What else surprised me was how proud that cat was. He was strutting around so proud of his himself. Then he sulked when my husband disposed of it. I'm glad he caught something finally because he chases a little red lazer light constantly and can't ever catch it, of couse. That has to be so frustrating to him but he still plays the game. My husband loves playing with him with the lazer light.

I suppose I'll have to get some sticky traps just to make sure we don't get another one. I don't want to use the poison with the cats around in case they catch a poisoned mouse that is half dead.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

No Time For This

Now that spring is here the projects are piling up. My computer time is going to be cut back to an extreme except for finding instructions on how to do my projects. Things just don't get done otherwise. I'll probably still post some of my completed projects but I'm going to treat blogging pretty much as a bad-weather or winter sport. I also need to fish. Priorities.

I'm going to replace our front stairs. They are 6 foot wide but the length is not one that I can buy at the home stores. So I'll try and be careful to not ruin the old stairs when I take them apart and just use it as a template for the new ones. I have to find some wood that I want to use. I don't like the pressure treated because it splits and splinters a bit when it dries and I want a smooth, painted surface. I may use the pressure treated for the stringers with yellow pine (if I can find it in the 2 in thickness) on the treads as they will be kept painted. I don't think I can find heart redwood around here. Ipe costs too much. I thought of using Trex for the treads but they don't come in 12 inch widths and I don't like the look of running two boards for each tread.

I would like to get flagstone into the backyard this year. I didn't get to it last year.

I just finished a shelf (art-deco black that I silver leafed and sealed on top) for over our toilet the other day. I made it with cleats underneath that would surround the tank lid (to hold it in place) to fit right on top of the toilet tank. I made it to extend out on each side to give us more shelf space. We have ceramic tile behind it and didn't want to drill holes in it to mount a shelf.

I hadn't planned on it sticking out so far as to not let the toilet seat go back far enough to stay up on it's own.

I had to use the table saw to cut it down to size so the toilet seat would go back and stay up. I had a lot of trouble making it feed through the table saw (I was having to push it so hard the table was moving) and when I was done I realized I had the waste cut between the fence and the blade. It was pinching, a no no in woodworking. When I realized it, it scared me because I know the injury that kick back can do. I also saw sparks flying and realized when I was done that I cut through a finishing nail I used to mount the molding to the surround. Not good for the blade and shows my brain wasn't all there.

It has been a while since I used many of my tools so I better refresh my memory on how to use all my power tools before I get going again. I scare myself.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Driftwood Horses

I was emailed a picture of some drifwood horses that are just amazing!! You can see them at this link Scroll down on that website to see some real art work.

Well, we got up early and headed to Pittsburgh to get our car back. They said it was just low transmission fluid. We had the oil changed and the other fluids checked just two weeks ago and they said they were fine. The tow truck driver checked the trans fluid and said it looked OK, too. But then I take what he said with a grain of salt being he couldn't find the dipstick for the transmission and we had to show him where it was at. There has been no evidence of a leak. Not a spot on the driveway. But, OK, I have to accept that that is what was wrong because it does work now. So it comes down to the fact that it took 6 days to fill the transmission fluid up. But at least it only cost about $100 for repairs, about 1/5 the cost of the total expenses of this breakdown.

The trees are in blossom as well as tulips and daffodils everywhere in Pittsburgh and it was the nicest day down there. The leaves are already sprouting a beautiful spring green on the countryside as you go south. It was a gorgeous day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Goodness, We're Still Renting a Car

Our car broke down Thursday night/Friday morning in Pittsburgh (Mellon Arena parking lot after the Penguin's game). The Subaru dealership still hasn't given us an estimate. My husband called them yesterday morning when we didn't hear from them, after all they have had our car for 5 days. They said they would get to it yesterday but we never heard back. My husband called later in the day and they didn't answer. We are renting a Jeep all this time and it is getting really expensive now plus the $100 hotel bill from staying over in Pittsburgh when we broke down. Perhaps they are partners or have stock in the car rental company they recommended to us. Maybe it would have been cheaper to tow it back to Erie but we figured they'd get to it by Monday but it is Wednesday and we don't even have an estimate.

I'm thinking about the money clicking away each day for that rental car. I could have bought 50 bird houses, or a great chandelier for the living room, a super dooper easel for painting, or that great hi-tech kitchen faucet that is way to extravagant to even wish for (the kind that can water your plants).

Well, I'm just thankful we broke down where we did and not in some dangerous place. Can you imagine getting caught in "the tube tunnel" in Pittsburgh? or stuck on one of the bridges, or out in the middle of nowhere where your cell phone doesn't even work in the middle of the night?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Stuck in Lodi?

No, been there, done that. Stuck in Pittsburgh? you betcha! Thursday we went to see the Carnegie Art Museum, go out to dinner and then to a Pittsburgh Penguins game. We had a great time. I love the art museum! For dinner we decided to walk over to a restaurant near the museum. We got to the Mellon Arena and had a great time watching the Penguins beat the Rangers. I love Jagr from the Rangers and Crosby is awesome from the Penguins. I was thrilled to see them play in person. Kevin Weeks was the goal tender on the Rangers team. He had a run-in with the maintenance guy during the period breaks when the zamboni cleans the crease. It was pretty funny.

Kevin Weeks lays his goalie stick on top of the goal net. The maintenance guy bends down to sweep up around the posts and stood up and hit his head on the end of the stick hanging over the net. He gives it a little push back. Kevin Weeks slowly reaches out and pulls his stick back into position a bit irritated but didn't do anything. At the next break the maintenance guy comes out and before you goes down to sweep the crease, he gives Kevin Weeks stick a good push and knocks it back behind the net. That made Kevin Weeks furious and he starts yelling at the maintenance guy who starts yelling back at him. Kevin Weeks skates out to the officials and starts complaining about this maintenance guy. The official goes over there the hear the story but the maintenance guy starts off the ice to the approving roar of the crowd. After all, Kevin Weeks is on the opposing team so anything to frustrate him the crowd loves. But really, you should never touch a goalie's stick. They have to have everything just so. They are superstitious, too. They go through specific routines and everything is placed perfectly how they want it. The crowd would be outraged had the maintenance guy done that to the Penguin goalie's stick.

Anyway, the crowd boo'ed every time Jagr touched the puck. It was a good-natured boo, though. The Penguins won the game, hoorah.

All happy that we had such a good day, we went out to our Subaru Outback to leave but the transmission wouldn't kick into drive. There was transmission fluid in it and it would go into reverse but not any forward gears. There we are stranded in the Mellon Arena parking lot to well past midnight. The tow truck driver drove us all over town looking for a Subaru dealership. He thought he knew where one was but it had turned into a Volvo dealership. Luckily, he didn't charge us for the 2 trips through the "tube tunnel" and drives across the bridges. We finally found a dealership on Shadyside/Bloomfield area, unloaded the car in their parking lot with a note on it at about 1 AM. The tow truck driver left. We walked with everything we came with until we came upon a Marriots hotel. Luckily it wasn't too far. They had a room open and we even got a "distressed" discount. The next day my husband went to the dealership. Because it Good Friday and Easter Weekend, the dealership said they couldn't even look at the car until Monday. So we rented a Jeep. We still don't know what is wrong with the car, how much it will cost or when it will be ready. But in the meantime we are enjoying the new Jeep we rented. There are some really good things we like about it and some things we don't.

We are in the market to replace my little Geo. It isn't big enough for me to haul my "renovation" materials in. I really want a Honda Odyssey. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bird House

Since last fall I have been keeping my eye out for a really colorful bird house. I see many generic-looking ones that have been painted by some foreign country's work force on an assembly line but I couldn't find something priced decent for some original-looking art. Michaels had a coupon sale last weekend and I went in and bought some art boards. I saw an unpainted pine bird house that looked nice and solid for $6.99. The last one I bought at a crafts store turned out to be made out of something like balsa wood. It sucked up any paint I put on it. (I may try again on that one).

I primed this bird house with gesso and spent a few hours this morning painting this bird house (I'm suppose to be out working on my garden but the birds are starting to nest and I need it now). I decided on plenty of shocking complementary colors and pure colors to really lighten up the garden. I'm hoping to attract some hummingbirds and maybe some orioles to my yard and feeders. So I painted the sides a bright cadmium orange. I used cobalt blue and Winsor violet on the edges (the picture makes the sides and edges look blue but it is purple.) Using the theme of children (or people) as flowers I painted the pictures. It may be gaudy and bright to some people but it is exactly what I was looking for when I was out shopping for bird houses.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Oh, Boy, Pittsburgh

I'm excited. My husband came home from work yesterday and said he'll take a day off next week and we'll go to Pittsburgh. I'm really looking forward to getting out of this city (no offense, Erie, but sometimes you just have to get away from here.) We are going to the Carnegie Art Museum and then out to a nice dinner. I don't know where yet, we'll have to figure that out. When my husband went to Pitt he knew all the great places to eat but now that we are "salad people", we may have to skip those places and find the best salad in Pittsburgh. Any suggestions?

The Carnegie Art Museum has an exhibit called, The Impressionist Era: Works on Paper from the Collection. I look forward to seeing it.

We are spending our long vacation in Maine this year. We made our reservations at a bed and breakfast on the coast. I can't wait until I can sketch, paint and take pictures of the lobster and sail boats and rocky coastline. I need to practice painting rocks! They have some great art museums up there, too.

I have lived here almost 7 years and I haven't even made it to the local Erie Art Museum yet. We have gone a few times to find them closed. That seems to be a common happening with us. We tend to do things spur of the moment. We may be driving around and just decide, "Let's go to...." and many of the times the places are closed. We enjoy the drives anyway.

Last weekend we went out to buy a couple of salad bowls. I wanted those nice larger, wooden ones, because some of our meals are giant, delicious salads. Our search took us first to Waterford to that kitchen store. Closed. Oh, well. Maybe Campbell's Pottery would have some pretty ceramic ones. $30+ was too much to spend on a salad bowl even if it was gorgeous, so we left. The mall, Target, Pier 1 Imports and nothing. The one gadget store in the mall had a wooden bowl but it was too thick and heavy looking. I may have to order them online.

I am going to try to make it out to Elements in North East before the 17th of April to see Toni Kelly's artwork that is displayed there.

I almost finished my little boy painting that was on my last posting. I added the fishing pole which I'm really pleased with but the fishing line looks like a bright white line down the middle of the picture. Oh, oh. It isn't like I can paint it out because there are so many different colors behind it. Too bad, too, because it was a really nice straight line. I'll have to really take my time trying to tone it way down. They didn't have monofilament line back in the early 20th century that would catch the light like that. The photo looks like it was a piece of string.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I'm not done with my painting and I don't want to rush the end. Friday they will have a new subject so this is my only chance to upload it.

I have an antique photo of a boy fishing. We think the boy is my husbands grandfather so that would put the area in NY state. the photo is a 12 x 14? I'm guessing. My painting is 16 x 20 inches. I don't have the darks and lights all the way in near the boy and I have some red dots that I attempted to make look like flowers but they don't and have to come out. I still have to do a lot of work on the foreground rocks, the boy's sleeves and I haven't even put in the fishing pole! Oh, well. Now I'll take my time and finish it. A week isn't long enough for me, ha. Below is the photo of the boy (about 1900s) and my painting. I didn't make the painting exactly like the picture, I took liberties. I'm going to try for a dappled sunlight effect on the boy and surrounding dirt with some light reflections on his face from below. I have started the fishing pole over his hand in his lap. I'm not sure how I'll do the pole yet. The face isn't even completed but I'm getting there.

Click to enlarge and see details. I'm not done yet!
Acrylic on stretched canvas.
16 by 20 inches.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Statue of a Fool

Listening to some old songs today the song, Statue of a Fool, came on. Instantly I was taken back in time to when I was a carhop at A&W in a little foothill town in California during my high school years.

My boss, Mr. D (as he was called) was a gruff, large, older man with a deeply creviced face that I suspect wasn't from hard work as much as it was from hard drinking, smoking, and what I believe was a past that best not be delved into. He had a booming voice that scared you with language to match. He'd say I was like a daughter he never had and he was more civil to me than he was to many others. I liked him but very much disliked him at the same time.

I'd often close up at night and after the receipts were added up I would go out and clear tables, wash the mugs and vacuum the carpet. He'd come out and sit at a cafe table next to the juke box and pinball machines and punch in "Statue of a Fool". He'd sit there, staring out the window into the darkness, smoking, his eyes squinted until the song ended. Then he would just sit there in silence. I'd say goodnight and give a wave as I pulled out of the parking lot.

He played that song every night. He would have the jukebox company change the other songs but made them keep that one.

That lonely, unhappy man must have had some memories from a time long past that must have haunted him. I think the song lyrics must say it all.

Statue of a Fool
By Jack Green
Somewhere there should be for all the world to see a statue of a fool made of stone
An image of a man who let love slip through his hands
And then just let him stand there all alone
And there on his face a gold tear should be placed
To honor the million tears he's cried
And the hurt in his eyes would show so everyone would know
Concealed is a broken heart inside
So build a statue and oh build it high so that all can see
Then inscribe the World's Greatest Fool and name it after me
midi file here so you can recognize the tune for anyone who doesn't know this "oldie".