The rain didn't keep the crowds away from Artwalk in downtown Birmingham Friday night and it's always a fun event. People love to come downtown if you just give them a reason. I didn't set up this year but JD did and I was there and free to walk around and see all the artwork for a change. The thing about doing shows is you never get to see anything else, except in a just passing by kind of way. It's so nice to be able to visit with the other artists. I have to mention my friend and fellow artistGina Cochran; she's started a blog - art and autism - about her son, and if you or someone you know is facing that problem I'd highly recommend it. She's an excellent writer.
Next Sunday I have a show at Deerwood Lake in Shelby County, then we're going to North Carolina for a few days, then we have three shows in a row; Bluff Park in Birmingham, Mecca in Carrollton, Georgia, and finally Kentuck in Northport. With all that's been going on this year I am seriously short on work so I'm going to be very very busy. Times like this I tend to panic and develop serious creative blockage. It doesn't help that is raining and dark all the time either. Light, I need light.
She passed away in July and now my sister and I have all this....stuff to go through. Why? Why would someone keep a box of old socks? Or a box of plastic lids? Or boxes and boxes of magazines from the seventies? Broken knicknacks, broken furniture, broken appliances, all the leftovers of forty years in this house.
Now she's gone and all I feel is anger. The truth about my mother is she was a strong willed, domineering woman. And out of her grandchildren and great grandchildren she picked favorites and actively disliked others. For no reason. And the one she disliked the most stayed with her when she was bedridden and tenderly fed her and changed her every day. Her favorites took advantage of her all their lives. My sister and I told her they were taking advantage of her but she wouldn't listen. When she died all her money and valuables were gone and all that's left is a rundown house and all this broken stuff. We had to borrow money to bury her. I'm so angry, angry with her and angry with myself that I didn't do more to stop what she was doing.
It's a terrible thing when a grandparent plays favorites in such an obvious way. So much bitterness and hurt feelings tore the family apart.
I hesitate to post this, don't say bad things about the dead and all that, but I needed to say it so now I did.
Saturday I came in the gate to go in the downstairs back door and this is what was waiting for me, stretched out in front of the back door.
It was huge, about 4 feet long and I don't know my snakes that well and seeing dark blotches on it I thought it could be a copperhead. I screamed for JD who also thought it could be a copperhead. So I stood at the top of the retaining wall to watch it while he went in and checked the internet. We determined that it had round pupils and was thus not a poisonous snake and was in fact a gray rat snake. So we decided to live and let live and just watched it crawl back under the dog house where it has probably been living all year and is probably hatching babies right now. The fact is we have a LOT of mice and rats around here. Our two cats do a wonderful job of catching them but I guess they could always use some help. One of my chores every morning is to go out and shovel the dead rodents off the steps and out of the yard. Always several mice and sometimes rats, rats the size of squirrels. I think they're catching them in the bushes across the street; they couldn't possibly be living in the yard.
That was really gross, who admits to having rats?
The thing about the snake though; I THINK HE WAS TRYING TO GET IN THE HOUSE. Rat snakes will do that. They're often found in the rafters of barns and my sister found an enormous black one in her kitchen cabinets one day. They ended up tearing the cabinets out to get to him.
So he's still out there and now I am very very cautious when I open the back door.
I wasn't fast enough to get my own photo but I saw one of these yesterday in a flower container in the yard. I thought it was an earthworm until I saw its head. I went inside and googled it and found out it is a hammerhead worm, a type of planerian. It doesn't eat plants but one variety does eat earthworms and is capable of decimating an earthworm population. The one I saw was about 4 inches long but they can grow up to 10 inches. Thought to originate in Malaysia they are now spreading around the world, probably in imported potted plants. If you see one don't kill it by chopping it up; every piece will turn into another worm. Here's more information on Dave's Garden; you can see in the forum that 2009 is the first year they are reported in Alabama.
And here's one of the few plants that is happy in my yard - an evergreen wisteria I planted last year. It's not really evergreen in this zone but it did come back. This wisteria is not invasive at all and easily contained.
Mama was a strong willed woman. Jesus came to take her back in April when she was in the hospital but she said no. Really. That Friday when I saw her in the emergency room she looked like death. Later she would say that she saw Jesus, and she saw Jamie (her favorite who died three years ago) but she didn't want to go. But last week she said that she wanted to see Jesus, and Jamie, and go fishing, and early Monday morning she passed away quietly in her sleep.
It was an infection that sent her to the emergency room in April; that infection brought on terrible and complete dementia that took away her mind and cut her off from reality forever. They cured the infection but her mind was completely gone. They sent her home where hospice and family cared for her until the end. She talked nonstop 24 hours a day to people who weren't there. She ate well. She didn't suffer.
Someone stole our garden hose night before last. It was attached to a spigot at the shop, about 50 feet from the house, as it has been for six years, and now it's gone. Why? Why would someone steal an old worn out hose? It was full of holes patched with duct tape. Nothing else seems to be missing. In fact, and this is the real mystery and we can not figure this out, the culprits seem to have left something of theirs. I don't know what you call it but it's like a block and tackle,some pulleys and lots of heavy chains, that you might hook in the ceiling of your garage and use to lift an engine out of a car. It says on it that it has a two ton capacity. It would lift a whole car if you wanted to. It's an expensive, heavy thing and we can come up with no theories as to why someone would leave it in our yard. And take our hose.
So I guess we came out ahead if we can sell this pulley and chain thingy and get a decent hose but I really would like to know what was going on in this person's mind to do that.
I haven't even gotten up to writing about a couple of bad things that happened so far this year and then last week, last Tuesday my gallbladder attacked me and I went to the emergency room and they took it out and I came home Friday and here it is Tuesday a week later and I feel like crap. It doesn't hurt that much now, I'm just mad. I just so angry that I got sick when I had so much to do. Not to mention the cost but I don't want to talk about that right now. I'm not even supposed to drive for another week. I'm the one that never gets sick. I'm the one with the cast iron stomach who can eat anything. Not anymore. And Gallbladder. What a disgusting word. I don't even like to say it.
I don't have a picture to go with this post. I'm not sure what it would be.......maybe a bowl of jello as that's the most exciting thing I can eat right now.
Looking on the bright side, I am hoping to lose some weight real quickly since I'm really not able to eat for a while.
My daughter over at Who Knows What just got a red convertible and we took off yesterday with the top down, slathered in spf 55 sunscreen. We were going to Blountsville to find the daylilly farm which sells daylillies and fried pies and had a big ad in the local paper. "Go to Blountsville and follow the signs" it said. We never saw the first sign and no one in town had ever heard of it. It's OK though, the lady at the antique store said she had all kinds of daylillies and would bring me a big box full next weekend for five dollars. Don't you love small towns?
We bought some things at the grocery store and had a picnic in the park. The table was under a big tree and a soft breeze was blowing and it was really pleasant. We were so amazed at being able to sit outside in late June when it's in the nineties that we couldn't stop talking about it. Every few minutes, one of us would say incredulously, "Gee, this is really pleasant."
We came home a different way and everything is so beautiful and lush this year because of all the rain we had earlier in the year. It was a really good day.
As you know from my last post, we had a yard sale last weekend. Not such a hot idea. No, really it was a hot idea, as it was 97 in the shade that weekend. I don't think anybody wanted to leave their house. We live near a main road and I've never seen it so dead. I mean there was no traffic. It was almost eerie. We kept wondering if it was some holiday we'd forgotten about. It was torture to sit there and we all swore we would never ever do this again. So naturally we're going to do it again. Only we're moving it to Who Knows What's house because she lives in the Oneonta metro area and they have a newspaper we can advertise in but we are waiting until the weather is better.
Even though it seemed like a big failure while we were doing it, at the end of the day we had enough to get the Netflix box and a wireless router to watch movies instantly so it wasn't a totally wasted day.
We're having a yard sale Friday and Saturday. I haven't had one in ten years so it's kind of a big deal to me. I've always had a hard time letting go of stuff. One thing I learned from my Mom & Dad is never throw anything away, you might need it some day. The other thing I learned is Food is Love, but that's another story.
Anyway, the time has come that I realize I will never need a green & orange quilt or a cow cookie jar or a box of crocheted doilies so time to clean house.
We used to be in the antique business. By antique business I mean we rented booths in different antique malls. We made pretty good money at it. Let me tell you being an antique dealer is the best job in the world. The mall handles the business, you spend all your time going to garage sales and estate sales and auctions. It's so much fun, like a treasure hunt all the time. It's addictive, like gambling, and bidding at an auction is such a rush. Little country auctions are the best because the regulars get to know each other and it's like a party with your friends every Saturday night. Anywhere you travel you look for out of the way shops and flea markets and this is your work. When we first started twenty years ago it was so easy to find things you could make a profit on but more and more people started doing it and competition drove wholesale prices up and then China started copying any kind of antique or collectible you could think of and it got hard to make enough to pay the rent. I miss it terribly.
So we don't do it anymore but we still have a lot of stuff, good and bad. The bad is the result of a lot of box lots bought at auction, like the green and orange quilt. I didn't want you to think I deliberatly picked that out. Unless you like green and orange in which case come and get it. $2.00. Third Street by the Railroad Tracks.
Where do I begin? It's been a rough couple of months. We're OK but close family members are not. Between trying to work a temporary job I took and driving back and forth to the hospital in Birmingham, I haven't felt like writing. In fact I practically lived in my van for a couple of weeks coming home only to sleep and change clothes. I don't want to go into everything right now but I may in the future so my entries may be kind of morose for a while. I really would like to get back to normal and write about the weather (it's raining) and what's growing in the yard and how the decorating the house is coming along. I've missed my blogger friends and I hope I can re-connect and feel good again.
JD's beloved mother, Eleanor, passed away May 3rd, 2009, at the age of 93. She was a wonderful lady and will be sorely missed.
The big news around here is that we did have the electrical work done and now we have outlets and a switch for the bathroom light in the bathroom! I keep showing this switch and the outlets in the living room to people but oddly enough no one seems as impressed as we are. The electrical work was done by Geno's Electrical in Oneonta and they were great, very conscientious and so nice, and I would highly recommend them if you need anything in that area.
We painted the walls in the bedroom last weekend. Of course the paint we so carefully picked out was wrong, wrong, wrong. I cried. It was supposed to be khaki but it was more like dark white. Luckily I had some other paint that I mixed with it and it turned out just right and as soon as I put another coat on the woodwork we can start moving stuff back in, probably tonight. I can't believe it might finally be done. I can't believe it took so long to do one room.
I've been feeling a little blue lately so I haven't been writing much. I think Winter has just gone on a little too long. Anyway, I haven't posted in a month so here's a picture to illustrate the posts I was gonna do but didn't. The daffodils bloomed and Spring is here. Yea! We got snow. Yea!
I'm so excited. We finally got an actual electrician to come out to give us a price on adding some of that new-fangled e-lectricity upstairs! Not only did he come out, he showed up 10 minutes early! He said he would call back tonight with a price AND HE JUST DID! He could be the one!
About our electrical situation-here's what we have upstairs now: 4 outlets, all on the same circuit, and 4 overhead lights including the one in the bathroom, all controlled by one wall switch which is by the back door. That's it. We don't have any outlets in the living room which means if we entertain it's strictly by candlelight which has actually worked out pretty well so that's not all that bad. The refrigerator is downstairs which means I have a work triangle of approximately 74 feet. You know, you move in an old building and you just kinda get used to it's little quirks and hardly notice them anymore until, say, a guest asks where the bathroom light switch is and you reply it's down the hall by the back door.
We bought this place on an "as is" basis and didn't realize there was no electricity in the living room, which is about half the upstairs. There were plugs, turned out they been disconnected or something. They are in the ceiling so maybe that didn't work out as well as whoever put them in thought it would. I'm not sure how you would keep a plug in the socket - duct tape?
About the picture- I love these old kitschy plaster lamps and just thought I'd throw this picture in.
Our house was originally just two big rooms, one upstairs and one down. When it was divided into rooms later they just used paneling, the kind that is one 4 x 8 sheet with grooves. Nothing could look less like real wood. But here's what we doing with it. We're taking the paneling down and sawing it into 6" strips and putting it back up going across the wall, with the back side out, and painting it. It looks just like old board walls that you see in farmhouses.Any nail holes or imperfections just make it look authentic. Here's a picture of the stairwell - you can not tell that it's not old boards.
I just wanted to share this in case there is anyone else out there faced with a lot of ugly paneled walls they'd like to do something with.
We're doing the same in the bedroom. Every year we say we are going to get the house finished by Christmas but so far the living room and bathroom are the only rooms that come close to being finished. But it's a new year so we're trying again. This time for sure. So in January we moved everything out of our bedroom, thinking it would only take about a week, two at the most, to varnish the floor (they've been stripped for about two years now), fix the walls and paint. So we painted the ceiling (painting beadboard is a project), varnished the floors, took the paneling down - and then we both got whatever bug is going around. The mattress is in the living room, the bed and other furniture is scattered around the house and it looks like it will stay that way for a while. I never get sick, why now?
JD has just published his first book! JD is a talented photographer who began showing his work at art fairs around the south about a year and a half ago. Most of the images were taken within a ten mile radius of our house here in Blount County. I'm telling you about this not so much to sell the book (although that's always nice) but to say how great is self publishing? I'm sure everyone has heard about the online publishing companies by now and let me tell you the service was great and the finished book quality could not be any better. It's a book of photos and the color was spot on. He used Blurb because he had heard their color was good. If you've got a book in you, I'd highly recommend having it printed so you can hold it in your hands, and share it with friends and family. You can order one, or hundreds; the price per book stays the same. Very reasonable. Think of the possibilities!
I'm going to borrow a line from my daughter over at Who Knows What and say let's just pretend I haven't been absent for over a month. I don't know what happened. But here's what happened last week. Remember last weekend? The weekend it was so very very cold, everywhere? We picked that weekend to visit my daughter in North Carolina. We were going to leave her house Sunday morning, before the snow and cold weather came in, but guess what - we got up Sunday morning and there had been freezing rain Saturday night. And then snow on top of that. The road to their house is a narrow one lane road hanging on the side of the mountain which makes a couple of hairpin turns then goes almost straight up. Sunday it looked like a ski jump. So we weren't able to get out until Thursday afternoon when the temperature got above freezing. And we had put down 80 pounds of de-icer.
Once we accepted the fact that we weren't leaving for a few days, we had a wonderful time. We're from Alabama and snow is a big deal to us. We haven't even seen snow since Winter Storm '93 when Birmingham got an unheard of 16 inches. It's one of my fondest memories even though we had no power for seven days.
The woods and frozen streams and waterfalls in the mountains were beautiful and we walked and walked. We had plenty of groceries and satellite TV, what more could you ask for? I also got to spend extra time with my beautiful one year old grandson. So all in all I could not have planned a better winter vacation. Thank you so much Rob and Melanie for having us. I give your B&B five stars.