Saturday, January 31, 2009

Miss Em goes Dancing

Miss Em had a good time dancing the night away with a BAR. WooHoo!!

Since Miss Em is from Brooklyn, maybe this would be a better link - it's one of her all time favs.
( I just wanted the music, but don't know how to do only a music link...and blogger was NO help)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Creative every day

I'm laughing out loud tonight as I tried on my first attempt at a sweater. It was an easy pattern, but as usual, I think of myself as much bigger than I really am, so I went for the larger size pattern. It's ENORMOUS! Yes, it needs blocking but also needs 2 inches off the arms and about 6 inches around the body. But I'm not going to do any of that. I'm going to wash and dry it and block it or whatever you're supposed to do. And then I'm going to enjoy it and try again.

Maybe I should sign up for those knitting classes.....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We had a very busy Christmas/New Year season this year - what with snowstorms, and ice storms and travel and colds, and Dad's 95th birthday and business travel, I never knew if I was coming or going. I still have laundry to do (but it takes a back seat to blogging, knitting and drawing). So I haven' t had the time to thank my friends for their wonderful surprises.

The talented Laurel of Studio Lolo sent me this wonderful signed 8x10 print - after I bought one tiny little card on line at her etsy store. I just love this image, I found it so refreshing and delightful. This is going in a special spot in my house. Thanks Lolo - it really means a lot to me.

Kerstin had a wonderful giveaway where you wished for something and your wish came true. I wished for a good night sleep - and received this beautiful, lavender filled, wonderfully scented pillow and have had deep dreamless refreshing sleeps since then. It's so wonderfully made and delicate. Kerstin, you are such an imaginative friend - thank you SO much for this pillow.

And my buddy Lynn sent me a relaxing tape, which really works! Her voice is calm and soothing and somewhat magical. I use it during the day to relax and refresh - and it also helps put me to sleep (on my magic pillow). Funny thing is that I go to sleep with the iPod buds in my ears and when DH takes them out - I sleepily protest "I like that tape!".

So, very belated thank you Laurel, Kerstin and Lynn - you made my crazy holiday very special!

Animal Wednesday - continuation of the pink puppy story

Remember Miss Em was finding new homes for her puppies? In our last installment, two of the pups were carefully watching alligators in Florida.

The second set of pups were adopted by an older couple who loved to play golf. Mama dog went along with them to make sure they settled in well, and to teach the pups that there is a time and a place to chase balls...and the golf course in NOT a place to do this.
Here is a sketch for the third set of pups who ended up with a young couple who love dogs and opera and will be teaching the pups how to enjoy music.

Happy Animal Wednesday!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dancing Dog Video

Laurel sent me the link to this video and it made me cry, but good cry.

There are some dogs in this world, usually your own dog, who have such a link with their human, such empathy, and what appears to be love and devotion that it completely transcends understanding. I can't explain it, probably no one can...but when you have it - you know that this is the lifetime dog.

I've had many dogs. Dogs I love, and who loved me and we kept each other company. But I had one dog who was just so special, so doggy and so human, such a companion and a friend - that I haven't been able to even try to replace him. I don't know if I could settle for just another dog/human relationship knowing what that lifetime dog relationship can be.

An I over the top? Maybe...but it's unexplainable.

Early Morning Kitchen musings

I was just emptying the dishwasher and one has time to think while doing this mundane chore. And I chose not to think deep thoughts but instead started thinking about kitchen facts. My kitchen(s) to be exact.

0) our first kitchen together was in a walk up flat in Boston. Old apartment building from the Boston mill area (no - not a fancy loft - these were the workers cold water flats - really nasty). We wanted to "fix it up" so we wallpapered the floor! Lot's of polyurethane and we had a new floor. It held up well and looked better than the 20 year old linoleum. The stove had a heater on one side, which is how we heated the back half of the house. If you got really cold you could stand over the stove with your hands over the heater and feel warm. Good thing we were young. No dishwasher in this house, only a tiny cast iron sink.

1) In Stow, we lived in an old house for over 20 years - it was built in 1795 and the kitchen "upgraded" in the "60's sometime. It had awful - truly awful knotty pine cabinets. I kept the cracks in the cabinets stuffed with steel wool to keep the mice out. It was a big kitchen - maybe 15x15 feet but only had about 2 sq feet of counter space. We wanted to redo it, but always put it last on the list because it was so much money.

2) I had no dishwasher in that old house and didn't want one, so for 20 years I washed dishes while all my friends thought I was crazy. I actually liked washing dishes and remembered hating to empty the dishwasher when I was a kid. We finally gave in and took Mom's old dishwasher and installed it so that it would be easier to sell the house. I still washed by hand. The microwave was an old one that was an oven also. But if I turned on the oven part, the fuses blew - so I never used it.

3) That old kitchen was so huge that we had a corner for sitting and reading, with a comfy chair. No fireplace but all the windows faced south and it was sunny all day. We needed the sun because all the windows in the house were single pane and cold as ice.

4) I cooked alot in that kitchen - you could be as messy as you'd like since it never showed.

So what I remember about that kitchen is: lousy kitchen space, terrible design, cold, great place to read, sunny, great hanging out space.

4) New kitchen - has all the latest and greatest amenities. Dishwasher and microwave and cooktop and stove. Maple cabinets and tons of storage space. Huge 'fridge. TV cabinet and an actual walk in pantry.

5) New kitchen is/was SO clean that I was scared to cook. Took me a long time to get up the nerve to make a mess in that kitchen.

6) no reading space in new kitchen which is too bad.

7) Dishwasher is now used all the time. I am hooked now on how clean it gets everything. I still sort of "wash" the dishes and then put them in this contraption and let them get really clean. I still hate emptying it out but it's less of a chore now that I enjoy the uber-clean dishes.

8) I finally figured out that this kitchen is easy to work in, and easy to clean and efficient. I have space for everything. The floors are tile and the counter tops are granite. Its so easy to be in that I forget how nice it is - does that make any sense?

It occurs to me that when things are tough and old I spend a lot of time figuring out how to make them better, but when things are just about perfect, I file them and don't think about them any more.

Perhaps this is a message to myself. Yes...I think it is. Enjoy the good. Relish the just-about-perfect. Don't look for things to fix. Enjoy the now. Enjoy and treasure what I have, who I am with, my friends, family, house.....

Let me know what you think about this

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Illustration Friday - Climbing

Sometimes I have the oddest inclination to climb out onto the airplane wing and become one of those daring wing walkers - seen in old films from the barnstormer days. or current crazies

It's not easy for the pilot either - they really have to know what they're doing - read this article.

Thank goodness the plane doors are firmly locked.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How do you like my new look???

Genevieve designed my new blog header and new look. She's an amazing artist - and knew just what I was looking for. I'm thrilled with it... let me know what you think - and go visit her blog and get her to design one for you!!! (there's a link to her site also under my books list)

Or you can just click on the sun~

Random art work

This was going to be part of the triptych - but just didn't work out. I like this funny little guy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

emotional and analytical...and a wall

Note that one is studiously avoiding the other. According to some experts - this is not healthy. According to others it is a good method for survival

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Animal Wednesday - Alligators

After Miss Em showed all the puppies for sale; Two of the puppies were adoped by a couple from Florida, where the two pups were amazed at the strange big animals that they saw everywhere. What kind of animals are these? They have NO leashes - what lucky pups they are.

HAW friends!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Creative Every Day

Snowing outside - a great excuse for nesting and drawing at home. Two versions of the flying fish fleet - I decided to do a larger version for a friend who is both a pilot and a fisherman. Hope he likes one of these.

More of Miss Em and the pink spotted puppy

When we last saw Miss Em (in this story) she was standing with her two black haired dogs - one was obviously filled with pups (obvious to me anyways)

Later on, the pups were born, and surprise - there were 6 black pups and one who was black with pink spots.

Miss Em couldn't keep all the puppies no matter how much she enjoyed them so she began to look for good homes for all the pups - including the one with the pink spots.

to be continued.....

I love my alter ego and her adventures and emotions. Drawing her challenges me to learn to draw other things - such as dogs - which I am getting better at but still need work. Question - do you like the black and white (with a bit of pink) drawing or the colored in one. I'm partial to the black and white - maybe with a touch more color but DH thinks they look flat.

( I decided to post this for Animal Wednesday but then hit "publish" and then tried to retract but blogger says NO - so I'll just have to finish the next installment by Wednesday)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Finally home - trying to be somewhat creative every day

Delayed planes. Running thru customs. Last row on the plane. No car service waiting. Happy taxi driver. Hot shower. Jammies.

I started the drawing below on my trip up to PEI - just got thinking about flying fish and felt that they needed some structure. I swear it had nothing to do with a plane landing in the water.

Not so sure about this one, I don't like this animal too well. Maybe it's the lips. Maybe it's not finished.

Glad to be home on a cold night, all warm and cozy and thankful.

two days ago post, saved as draft and forgotten! plus random stuff

I started this post while in PEI - and got distracted so stopped - italics below

Thank goodness I am in a lovely little PEI hotel with gas fireplaces and lots of heat because it is -20 degrees F outside. Yup - read that again - it's "bitterly" cold (as the news is saying). I didn't appreciate all the business trips I used to take to San Diego during the winter - I'd call home and hear about the snow and cold and would commiserate and then go outside by the hotel pool. I am just hoping that I can leave today and that it isn't too cold for the tiny little plane to leave.

Suki was talking about moving to North Dakota and I think it is -50 there. I'd rethink that option!

The only good thing about traveling is that I can spend the nights in the hotel room and knit or draw or surf. I've been reading different blogs, looking at people's layouts and wanting to redesign mine - something a bit more me.

I do want to redesign the look of my blog - I'm getting a bit tired of only the blogger options and might even go for one of those professional headers. I think Teri did that, and I've seen a few others that I like. I just might try it.

I just finished reading this - fun read, quick but entertaining. I had another book on the plane that was such awful trash (but of course I had to finish reading it) that I wanted to leave it on the plane for someone else to find. So I stuck it in the pocket of the seat and slunk off the plane (tiny little 10 row plane) and of course, the steward came running after me with the book - all helpful and sweet about it. And of course, I took it. One of my biggest problems is carrying books around with me when I travel. I'm a terrifically fast reader (will discuss that later) and I have to carry a few books to take me thru a plane ride. OR draw on the plane and listen to a book, which is fun also but sometimes not really do-able. Has anyone tried a "kindle" - one of those electronic books where you can keep a few hundred books on the device? I'd be interested if you've used one - did you like it?

Reading fast - a talent that I have. I think that I don't read like everyone else. I read patterns, not words. Does that make any sense? But I've finally figured out that is why I have had trouble in the past reading Dickens and other older writers. Sentences were different, word patterns were different. I do much better listening to Dickens than reading him. And once someone gave me a book called Riddley Walker, with strange spelling and I simply couldn't get past the first page. I felt bad about that cause the friend who gave it to me just loved the book.

Off for the day. Belated Christmas with the twins.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The strange inhabitants of Miss Em's world

Here are some of them.

I am pre-posting. I am either: (1) stuck in Boston cause of snow (vote now for this option); (2) stuck in Toronto; (3) arrived in Prince Edward Island or: (4) somewhere in between.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Animal Wednesday - Alligators

They were lounging at Myakka state forest outside of Sarasota. I don't think they were mating or anything like that - probably just trying to steal each others heat.

I am facinated and terrified of alligators. But one of my favorite water colors is John Singer Sargent's painting of alligators. This is in the Worcester Art museum and I saw it once (it's not on permanent display) - I remember almost feeling the heat of the sun on their backs.

HAW everyone - alligators and all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dad's 95th birthday celebration.

Dad's 95th birthday was this past weekend - we had about 20 people over - mostly family and close friends. Catered - fairly easy.

Dad has the greatest hair doesn't he?

Dad at 95 - wow.
Getting ready for the party - not fancy dressed yet.

Isabella (2 years - great grand-daughter) helps take the candles off the cake. Clever child.

Okay - all the candles are finally off!!

Thank you for helping kiddo!

My brother - in -law looking on.

Isabella enjoying her cake in private. Not a sharing moment.

Elvia started out as a house cleaner for the folks and has rapidly progressed to family friend. She got the wonderful Mexican cake (3 milk cake) and gave that to Dad as a present.

He adores her - and she him.

Elvie's sister helped out - these two were dynamo's and made the whole party possible. How lucky are we to have these wonderful women in our lives.

It was a great weekend - busy and tiring but fun to all be together.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Workday

Back from Florida last night - not a bad trip except that they guy I sat next to on the plane had his OWN seat belt extender (that means he was BIG) and he farted. Can you f***in believe that? I had that air thing on but it was probably blowing mold in my face.

Anyway, I survived. Stories and photos to follow but I wanted to show my 'creative every day" stuff. First up above, is some sea dinosaur that was in National Geographic - I liked it.
Secondly some strange faces drawn on the plane last night. I was trying to focus.
I figured that perhaps if I DREW flowers I could think I was smelling flowers.

It didn't work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Packing, repacking, unpacking, repacking

I don't know how I travel with one suitcase, I really don't. I pack..and repack, and then unpack to another suitcase and repack again. Hate to leave home even if I like where I'm going. Knitting instead of clothes. Drawing implements instead of an extra bra.

A few more "creative every day's" pictures and then a creative story.

ATC Alligator

ATC bubblesAnother magazine green faced beauty.

Creative Story -

Did you know that if you have cobwebs on your front porch and you take a long stick to get them down you can create a sort of grab all utensil? Take the long stick and knock down one cobweb wrapping the web around the end of the stick. Then do another cobweb. Then try to get some leaves down and lo and behold, the cobweb stick has become a nice sticky cleaning stick that get's everything down from the corners of the porch. I never knew cobwebs were such a good cleaning tool.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dad's 95th; more ice and Knitting

I'm off again this weekend for Dad's 95th birthday - about 20 family members getting together to drink his health.

Dad as a young kid - note the black dog. This was NOT the dog that got rabies - that was a chow dog that Dad had when he was about 10 years old. Dad's father called the vet (of course) to put the dog down, the vet was young and inexperienced and got bit (as did Dad). Both had to go thru the painful anti rabies injections - two weeks in the abdomen. When I was 20, and Dad was 60 something - I got my first dog from the ASPCA in NYC (more about that story some other time) and Dad and I took the dog to a local vet for a checkup. The vet was about 70 years old, still practicing in Brooklyn - and he took one look at dad, and at our name, and asked if he was the Stella that "had that damn rabid dog". Yup, Brooklyn can still be a small town.

Dad in high the brilliantine in his hair, but ain't he cute?

Dad in his 20's or so. He was a very good looking man - a tall, slim Italian with blond hair (even tho' it looks dark in these pictures, he was blond until his 40's). Family stories say that all the Stella men are over 6 feet tall, and blond - strange for Sicilians who are often thought of as dark. Another family story is that we had a Norman ancestress - who - when they had to move her grave for some gruesome reason, was found to have had long blond hair. I don't know how much I believe this story - what were they doing opening her casket but I like the story so I'm keeping it. My brother is tall and blond; his son is blond but only 12 and he has alot of growing to do.

Dad and Mom dancing at some "affaire". This was a few years ago - he's gotten much thinner since then.

Dad and I are rather kindred spirits in our family - I truely think that he is the only one who really understands me, we are very alike.

Ah well... onto the ice storm!

We have had another ice storm - not as bad as the first one last month, but still difficult driving - scary roads. I was glad to get home, snuggled up in front of the fire with my knitting - only to have poor DH call with a dead car. He had to have it towed and I went to pick him up on some slippery slidey roads.

I am reteaching myself how to knit. Here is a picture of my first real project - an "easy to knit" sweater. I'm having fun with it, knitting and then ripping out - very therapeutic in a way.
What I like about this is the flexibility and ability to change a pattern, adjust where necessary. What I haven't gotten the hang of yet is getting it to be the right size. This one looks enormous, but I did follow the pattern and got the right stitch gauge for the yarn etc. Well I figure if it's too big, it'll be more comfortable!

Of course - I've had to indulge my passion for bags, found this at a local store and its a funny bag with a zipper. It's a bag to hold yarn, but it also turns inside out to become a sort of backpack - it has long zippers that allow it to turn inside out. Only sold in bright pink and green - rather preppy for me but the usefulness outweighted the bright green. (on a side note - see the table the bag is on? Mom, Dad and I bought that table and the chairs around it at an antique store sometime in the 60's. I think we paid $5.00 chair and $10.00 for the table. Dad refinished the table and it has never had to be redone since he first did it. I think it's the only piece of furniture that he's refinished in his life - the man has never been handy. But he did a good job on this one - it's a wonderful table)

This bag I just bought on Etsy - the side pockets hold yarn and have grommets for the yarn to go thru. Not big enough for my long needles, but who really cares. My grandma taught me to knit with the needles under my arm so I have to use long 12" to 14 " needles. I've always used Grandma's old aluminum needles, but have bought some bamboo ones which are so light and flexible!
Here is what the sweater is supposed to look like. Perhaps a solid color might have shown the checkerboard pattern more but the yarn I am using is so soft and I love the color. I wasn't actually looking for something that knit up in stripes but live and learn....

I'm really being good about projects and not overwhelming myself, but I do enjoy a new challenge occasionally, like this sweater. Plus it's creative (every day).

What a funny rambling post. I'm getting a bit nostalgic I think - thinking about such a highlight of a birthday. But the truth really is that old age really ain't for sissies. Dad now has macular degeneration, and uses a walker but he still enjoys having us all around and giving me grief about stuff. I know he can't go on forever, he's getting so tired...but no matter how much I rationalize it to myself - I will never be ready for him to leave.
Ah well again. Ah well.