Friday, August 18, 2017

Odds and Ends

Yesterday we spent our afternoon at the race track for our once-a-year day at the track.  I lost more than I have in the past (under $10), and D came home the modest winner of an Exacta.

Today it's pouring, and we were scheduled to take our daughter and grandson to a local baseball game.  But when we talked with them this morning, we suggested they visit next weekend.  Grandson just got home from a trip to D.C., and when the rain came down as it did when we were at the Yankees' game, they decided to stay home.  Smart move!

However, as this game and the picnic before hand is a fundraiser for our local library, since we have already bought the tickets, we will go anyway.  At least for the picnic (as soon as I finished that sentence, the skies opened up again!) . . .

Reporting in on my list of six things I need to accomplish:  One more bin for the dining room was emptied and contents put away this morning.  Now there is just a small bin (of the size one can put under a bed) to tackle and the dining room will be back in order.

This afternoon, I planned to work on the painting side of the studio.  Planned to but didn't do.  I was lured to the fabric side (it's much prettier than paint brushes and easels!) and spent a couple of hours in more organizing.  Actually, I was looking for some stencils I had purchased to use as embroidery designs for dish towels, but I couldn't find them.  At least not yet!  I did find a small box of items I had set aside to use on the crazy quilt block I'm working on that honors my sister.  It will be fun to check that out tonight when we return from the ballpark (though it's beginning to look more doubtful that we'll go).

Another day on the plus side of getting the studio organized!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Progress Made

Another day of following my plan to get some things done that have been hanging fire for too long.  First I took a look at the yarn I had recently purchased.  That reminded me that I had yarn downstairs that needed to be sorted through also.  One of the problems I face, with the yarn I have, is that there is lovely yarn bought for specific projects, but I can't remember what the projects are!  So I took the time to find the patterns and match it to the yarn.  Once matched up, I put the yarn in a bag with the pattern or (if the pattern was going to be used with other yarn also) with a note with the specific pattern's name.  That took over an hour but was not on my list so I can't really count it.

Then after lunch, I went back to the studio where I spent almost three hours.  I could get more done in more quickly if I merely put things away without bothering to organize, to figure how items were going to be used, and most importantly, to decide whether I really wanted/needed the objects I was sorting through. I did fill a garbage bag with things that I didn't want and that could not, for a variety of reasons, be given to others.  Other things were organized and will be ready to be either put in a bin (if it isn't going to be used soon) or put on a shelf.

All this time is being spent on only the first item on my list of things I want to do.  If I merely work around the disorder to sew or paint, the mess will not only stay in the same place, it's more likely that it will grow.  

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sharing a List of Chores

All right, I have to admit it; my phone and I are at cross purposes simply because I don't know how to upload photos from my phone directly onto my computer.  Well, I knew I needed to attach my phone's cord to the computer, but then?  I thought it would be simple - that I would receive a prompt or icon to click on and presto! my photos would be uploaded and easy to use.  Not so! and I still haven't figured it out so I'll have to trek back to the phone store and humbly admit my ignorance.  Until then, the photos I promised from my phone will remain among the missing.

Instead today I took photos using my camera which I do know how to use (okay, I know a little!) and took photographs that I will share shortly.  First though, the background to this story.  Since we started our most recent renovation, I have exclaimed and complained about the untidiness that goes along with such an endeavor.  So much of my time has been spent re-organizing that I haven't had time to do much else.  Enter Best Friend (known hereafter as BF). She also was having some trouble getting things done.  Putting our heads together, we decided that by joining forces we might conquer the problem.

Last night we exchanged lists of what we wanted to accomplish and thought we might be able to do in one month's time - give or take a bit (the amount of time was not critical, completion of listed tasks is the focus).  First on BF's list was a particular quilt, and first on mine was tidying my studio.  Today she and I met to run an errand and promised that we would check in on our progress daily.  As I left her, she reminded my that I had to do an hour (a manageable and reasonable period of time) of work in the studio while I reminded her that she had to focus on her first project.

Shortly after arriving home, I repaired to the studio and put in two hours of tidying/organizing.  Much of that time was spent putting fabrics in a bin but . . . keeping in mind that my task had to be organized in such a way that I could locate the fabrics easily in the future.  Usually I type out a list of contents and put 2 copies facing out on the inside of the bin - one copy in the front and one on a side. While this has been helpful in the past, I thought I'd try something new today.

So I took photographs of the fabrics and will add them to the list of contents.  Remembering the fabric line a year later by name alone or by proposed use doesn't always work.  

Here are a some of those photos:

When you look at these few pictures of fabrics and see how different the fabrics are, you can understand how hard it might be to describe them briefly but succinctly enough for recognition after the passage of time.

Yet, the real point is that something was accomplished today that had been so overwhelming to me that I had been unable to get started on it before now.  I'll bet that some of you have experienced the same issue.  My advice?  Ask a friend like my BF who will encourage you and/or nag you when necessary to share a list of projects you want to do. 

Believe me, it's working so far.  I'll keep you posted about my progress.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Summer Time"

Do you ever find yourself singing the song "Summer Time"?  Well, the living may be easy, but it is also busy, isn't it!   This past week D and I had a super time with SiL A in Corning and in Austerlitz, NY.  No photos, alas; my phone and I aren't on speaking terms right now.

We went to Corning to go to the glass museum where we took a guided tour that was absolutely top notch with a docent who not only knew her "stuff" but was truly enthusiastic and happy to be there sharing her knowledge.  Taking that tour allowed us to hone in on areas that we wanted to re-visit the next day which was a good thing because it is a large museum with many different areas that appeal to different interests.  

We also went to two demonstrations of glassblowing and of how Tiffany glass is made.  Wow!  If you go, you absolutely have to go to the demonstrations.  First, we learned a lot, and second, the demos were fascinating!!!

We also took a "glass class".  That, too, proved to be fun.    More about that in good time.

The next morning we took the free bus from the glass museum to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in downtown Corning first.  What a surprise that turned out to be!  None of us expected the wealth of fine works (from early to contemporary) that took our breath away!  The museum store is small but had some fine items.  Don't worry; I think I spent under $20.  Oh, and fabulous building, too.  We highly recommend that museum!

From there we climbed back on the bus (not a long ride but welcome transportation on a hot summer day) and returned to the glass museum.  Once there we returned to some of our favorite displays and found many new ones to amaze us.  And of course, we also visited the HUGE museum store there, too, where I picked up a few small gifts).  We had lunch, and visited some more displays before leaving for home.

And of course, among all those activities, we did pick up the results of our glass class the previous day.  By unanimous acclaim, SiL A won!  She made a picture frame that is really good - bright colored squares on a white background - very eye-catching.  D came in second with his night-light; we plugged it in when we returned home, and it is a happy scene with shining sun, trees and grass.  We all agreed that the less said about my attempt at glass design the better.  Frankly, it was downright UGGG-ly!

Don't worry; I swallowed my chagrin with Brooks barbecued chicken that we bought as we passed through Oneonta on our way home.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August Update

It is truly August - already!  We have had a terrific time with daughter and grandson at a Yankee vs Tiger game in NYC (Tigers won - D happy; daughter and grandson good sports) despite the absolute deluge at the end of the 7th inning. Didn't get home until after 1:00 a.m. - groans all around. Company in the late afternoon today for quiet drinks in the backyard.  Painter to come Monday to work on more odds and ends, and (we hope) start on the front porch.  Next up?  SiL coming this week for a trip to Corning to visit the glassworks and take a class!  Then on to visit the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay (a favorite of mine since my teen years).

In between those busy and happy times, we have been managing to find and gradually return various items that had been put away during laying wood floors, painting, and carpeting.  Lovely jobs like locating the bins with the china cabinet's contents and putting all that away while deciding which things could be passed on to charities.  Finding lamps and vacuuming their shades, putting new ones together, and trying to remember where we wanted to put them!  Realizing that closet doors can't be put up because new carpet is too high and having to call construction guys back to shave doors.  Cleaning the garage where construction guys had to cut floor boards on rainy days (and they all were rainy!), dusting every inch of every piece of furniture stored in garage so floor could be put in, and then carrying everything back into the house.

But hey, the car is back in the garage, the house is a little closer to habitable, and D and I are still married!

Monday, July 31, 2017


Visitors, laundry, and more visitors for baseball . . .  all that adds up to a busy several days leaving little time for writing.

But . . . I did have time to snip a few lilies and roses

Lovely and fragrant and evidence of garden fighting its way back from neglect.

Have a good several days!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Our Last Meal in Hong Kong

Hooray!  We've made it to the very last entry with photos from our Asian trip but the first with some photographs of us and the people with whom we had such a rousing good time.

We wanted to have lunch at a place where we could get dim sum, and the concierge at our hotel recommended this restaurant which was run by primarily Chinese-only speakers.  Because most of us were not familiar with dim sum menus, we relied on the expertise of one couple because no one else could help us.  First the couple told us to look closely at the menu. David and Tom followed directions:

That started the hilarity that ensued throughout the entire meal.  The three you see below are merely attempting to look like serious and normal Americans-in-a-strange-land.  From left to right they are Lori, Dave, and Inge. There will be a test later.

This couple has been our bonsai-couple-friends-of-longest-standing since we joined the bonsai club 15 to 20 years ago (D is wrong; it's closer to 20 but I'm being diplomatic).  Tom was behind David in the "taking a close look" photo.  Sandy is very smart and didn't bother.

Then there is this couple who tagged along.  Oh yes, one is the closer-look guy.

Okay, now Sandy is perplexed.  We ordered as instructed by the members-of-our-group-who-will-remain-nameless but are probably in witness protection by now.  They told us that in the US when one orders in this kind of a restaurant, one places an order for ONE and receives ONE dumpling.
So each person went through the menu and ordered ONE of whatever struck her/his fancy.  Keep that in mind.  Sandy is perplexed because we seem to have SEVERAL baskets of MANY items, and this is only the first part of our order.

Notice the table behind us.  They were having a great celebration of some kind and were full of laughter although they may look quiet and subdued in this photo.  Remember the test.

The baskets kept coming and coming and coming.  There would be a pause but then more baskets would come.  By the time this next photo was taken we had realized that ONE order meant we received ONE tower of baskets for that particular item.  We had ordered enough to feed the entire bonsai club had they gone with us to this restaurant as well as those members who didn't take the trip!  Finally, one of the smart members of our dinner party got an idea (someone had to - the rest of us were crippled by laughter), grabbed piles of the baskets and took them to the party goers at the table behind us.  One of that party spoke English well enough that he was able to explain to the rest what had happened, and they immediately joined our hilarity while graciously accepting the extra food.  They thanked us profusely and laughed and laughed and eventually came over to join us for various photo opportunities.

By this time, everyone in the restaurant was aware that the crazy Americans had done something singularly foolish but were having such a good time about it that they could also share the joke without being rude.

It's hard to write this so you can understand what was so funny so the test is:

Who was with us at the restaurant?
How much did we think we were ordering?
How much did we actually get?
Who ate the food?
Did we have a good time in Asia?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Painting Day

While there are still some photos yet to show from Hong Kong, today was painting day.  Unlike last week's sketches in my sketchbook, today I worked on a study.  What's the difference?  In my mind, those sketches were one way to try out something that I liked but didn't like enough to make a finished painting.  Today's subject is something I like enough to take it from study to finished work.

The bamboo forest we visited in Japan provided me with many possibilities for a watercolor painting, but there was one that talked to me from the first time I saw it.  I certainly hope it shows up better on the blue background of my blog than it does on the white background I have while writing!  Not that it's really much to look at on either color.

First I worked on the background to get a feel for the brush strokes needed and to try out the paint colors.  Didn't have time to go back to making the bands that mark bamboo stalks because I thought I'd do it once the trunks were dry. I had done only that much when Sharon walked by to help out.  She gave me quite a bit of advice that should help with the next attempt.  

Then I just decided to paint in the two young kimono-clad women.  That was fun even though I didn't have time to finish them.  Playing with the colors and figuring out how to handle the obis (sash and big roll of fabric) kept me busy until it was time to go.  That's when I realized that I had the proportions of women to forest all wrong.  They are much too small.  Sharon laughed and told me to cut the lower corner away from the larger surface and use the women as a note card.  Something to think about; it is a way to salvage it!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Victoria Peak and Aberdeen Fishing Village: Hong Kong

Nearing the close of our Asian jaunt we left the city itself and drove up to Victoria Peak for the views.  While it was a very cloudy morning, we didn't mind as the previous day it had rained quite a bit.  We considered ourselves fortunate to be there when we were.

But before showing show those photos, I want to share a picture of Asian scaffolding - made from bamboo!  While I knew that bamboo was strong, I had no idea it wa this strong!

Back to Victoria Peak.  Since is was such a foggy day, I played a bit with black and white photos.  In this one, I tinted it blue so the harbor might be a bit more apparent.

And in this one of a look-out spot, I emphasized the structure and the people (taking photos) with red.

Leaving the Peak we went to Aberdeen Fishing Village for a "voyage" on a sampan.

While the men are out fishing, the women provide tourists with rides through the harbor.  It's very much a business for those women; taking a photo of our pilot would have cost me money.  Can't say I blamed her, but she didn't inspire me.  So what you see in the photographs below are the views we saw as we motored around the harbor.

And then we returned to our starting place.

Our return to dry land was through a wooden structure where I saw a dragon Hong Kong style.

This one of the harbor from land.  I love the juxtaposition of the old harbor-side structures with the modern buildings on the other side of the harbor.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hong Kong's Night Market

The Night Market of Hong Kong was a lot of fun to stroll through - as long as you keep your eyes open!  It was a crowded place full of color, patterns, sound, and people.  I took quite a few photos of booth interiors that had something appealing - at least to my eyes. 

Like these framed prints:

Colorful clothing:

More prints of various kinds of art:

A longer view through the market with the "flags" overhead (marking the location of the market):


Children's clothing:

The Night Market was something I had read about but never dreamed I'd be walking through it.  What an experience!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hong Kong

Hong Kong was the final destination of the bonsai trip.  It was a short stay, but worth every minute of it as I can't imagine we'll ever have another opportunity to go there again.

The first picture was taken from our hotel room.

One of the first things we did was visit the Jade Market.  At first I thought I wouldn't buy anything, but . . . well, when would we ever have this chance again?  But oh my, how to choose?

While I have a dark green necklace already (it's malachite), I didn't have one in what I call celadon green.   I do now!  Below is a pile of bracelets in all kinds of colors.

There were other articles made from jade, other minerals, and even a bit of porcelain.

There were also pearls being sold here, and that was an even greater temptation.  But again I remained strong.  Only one pair of earrings to wear with a pink pearl necklace that I was given several years ago made its way into my purse.

I kept taking photos because the colors were so lovely.

On our way back from the Jade Market we wandered through a local food market.  Again the site with its colors and people appealed to me not only as reminders of a great trip but also as possible painting material - both the booths and the people.

Some of the lanes we wandered through were also intriguing.

Finally, to warm up we stopped at one of my favorite places to get a latte.  I was fascinated with a flavored latte (yes, I'm one of those happy lovers of flavored coffees) I'd never seen in the States (and still haven't) so I had to try it.  

It was called "Pop-zel" and was a combination of caramel popcorn and pretzels.  Sound weird?  Oh yes.  But as odd as it may seem, it was delicious!

 Later we took a walk to find a place for lunch and on the way passed some incredible trees lining the street.

 Nighttime saw us at the Night Market, but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gyeongbukgung Palace: Traditional Dress Day

 The title of this entry says it all.  It was clear to us after this particular morning's tour that the South Koreans take Golden Week and its traditional base to dress in traditional dress.  Believe me, I didn't argue with that idea!  The possibilities for sketches, paintings, and quilt designs was multiplied by, well, five? ten? a lot anyway.

In the palace, we found this woman in the "kitchen".  Note the shoes - that gave me a giggle, but we all know what happens if your feet hurt!

 This is just a lovely area that I included here for painting purposes.  Imagine how the landscape would look with some of the locales in their traditional garb.  Well, not in the pond, of course!

These three ladies, for example could be walking beside the pond to the right where I would add a path (that was really there though it wasn't included in my photo).  Actually, they reminded me of Monet's "Women in the Garden" (find it on-line to see what I mean).  It's because of the shape of the skirts, I think.  Anyway, I think combining the two might work as a painting.


 Next there is this couple in gorgeous costume posing by the same pond.  Look how her skirt billows just beautifully in the wind.

Another couple.  You may wonder why most of the photos are taken from behind.  First, I didn't want to be rude or to make people self-conscious. Even though dressed as they were, they must have expected people like me who couldn't and wouldn't resist snapping away.

And viewed inside a Palace courtyard.

 Okay, here are some people viewed from the front.  Don't you just love their clothes and head coverings - and their smiles!

And that's the end of this tour!