Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Last Day of Class

The last day of my Advanced Book Arts Class. They decided to make The Pocket Tara for their final project. It was their idea to begin with. During the first few weeks of the semester someone was joking about needing the pocket reference guide to all of the little things they learned in my class. I suggested the idea as a group project for their final project - each chose something from the list and made a spread. I made the colophon, the title page and the cover.
The cover is dyed Tyvek with a magnetic clasp. The structure is the drum-leaf binding. It's quick and easy and they only have to print on one side.
It is incredibly flattering that they wanted to do this project with so much enthusiasm. It's funny and clever. I am really touched by this. By the end of the evening they had decided on two things: 1. I needed to be an app and 2. they wanted exclusive rights to the idea - they wanted to be the only class that ever made The Pocket Tara.

The project was a group effort at my house. Because we could use the guillotine:
There was a lot of food and fun and general good spirits. The seniors have their show opening tomorrow so they feel like they are almost done, and the rest are trying to slog through finals. Very little sleep had been had around the table. But pizza and chocolate and cookies makes everything better.
What did Jacques think of all of this? Are you kidding?! There were 12 women to pet him and talk to him and flatter him. He was in heaven.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A post for Aunt Lois

She asked me to post the orchids. Here they are! I bought these last year. They are little ones - the blooms aren't more than an inch and a quarter across, but they match the ceiling of the bathroom, and they seem to love where they are because they came back! I have one of those non-see-through windows in the bathroom, lets in lots of diffused light. I think that is what they like the most. That and the rain water.
So yeah, Aunt Lois and Uncle Ralph are on their road trip and they came to see me. It was so much fun.
We met up in Western PA so that Aunt Lois and I could go visit Falling Water. Wow - it is so beautiful! We had an excellent tour guide as well.
Its funny to be in a place I've talked about so many times in class and didn't really understand. I wish I could tell my students about it now. I could give them so much more insight. Ah well, in my next life maybe.
On my way out there I noticed that all the red bud trees were in full purple bloom. There was one between the house and the guest quarters, I tried to get it in as many shots as possible.
We stayed in a great little cabin in Maryland, nice and toasty warm, but no cell phone reception. The landscape around it was beautiful. All farmland, and not much else.
On Sunday we headed back to Philadelphia and did the grand driving tour.
Here's Aunt Lois in front of the Maxfield Parrish/Tiffany mural in the former Saturday Evening Post building. This mural seems to glow on it's own. It's quite beautiful.
Speaking of murals, we did the driving tour of as many of my favorites as possible. They really liked them. Had lunch at Sabrina's, yum, saw Ben Franklin's "house" and mailed things off from the first post office of the USA. The stamps are still canceled with Ben's signature.
And of course - the now standard Philadelphia photo:
How fun is that?
And before they left, Uncle Ralph taught me the Battista Chicken recipe. Oh boy is it good.
I'm pretty honored to have been allowed to learn this - seeing as I'm not Italian at all. :)
There's lots of garlic in it:
And red wine vinegar too:
And the rest is a secret!
I really enjoyed having them here - it was really fun to talk and hear family stories. I love that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gettin' ready for visitors

The bedroom is painted. My Aunt Lois and Uncle Ralph are coming this week and now they have a beautiful bedroom to sleep in! Not the ugly blue one. It looks so beautiful! I'm so happy I tackled that now. It only took four layers of primer and two layers of paint to make it look right. But it's done. So of course I had to start on the next thing. The ugly bathroom. But I didn't make it. That's mostly because I got really sidetracked by the skylight. I don't have a before picture of this thing and I wish I had. Someone had screwed a piece of plexiglass over the opening to the skylight. This spring I noticed that it had become a bit, um, "clouded." Stuff was accumilating on the glass and things were no longer clean and clear. I thought I better take the plexi down, clean it, and caulk the skylight. Well, I discovered that there is a vent there as well. And it still works. There is a chain hanging down. The chain gets pulled in one direction to open the vent - in another close and lock the vent. It's so much more beautiful and cooler (literally) with that thing open! I was just left with my perpetual question - who was allowed to "fix" so many things on this house?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A beautiful weekend

We had another beautiful weekend. It's amazing that it is always so short. I spent quite a bit of time in the garden (as seen from the previous post). I even got to spend some time yesterday and of course Jacques helped. Every weed I tossed onto the brick walkway he had to subdue with his paw. Apparently weekding is extremely interesting. Ants too. Every poor little ant that came across his path was halted with a paw plopped down on it. He sat by me for a good hour supervising and making sure that things didn't get away. I've still got more to do in the yard. I feel like I've done so much it should be perfect by now. Not so. Every time I turn around there's something new that needs attention. Right now, it's those blasted dandelions. There are far fewer than last year - but still plenty to be getting on with.
Today I finished the room upstairs! Yay!
It looks SOOOO much better than it did before. Oy - that blue was hideous.
I had plenty of supervision on this project as well. The inspector was in full force.

I had to patch where Lee left a hole when he installed the fan. Which I was patient about and let the spackle dry over night. You can't even tell there used to be a hole there now. The bright white room is light and airy. The fan Lee installed works really well too - it's not going to be sweltering in there. I just have to finish painting the trim - which I think I can manage before Aunt Lois and Uncle Ralph come to visit. And then voila!
I also fixed the running toilet on the third floor. This is thanks to Melanie when she was here a few weeks ago who said - hey your toilets running. I think the black rubber thingy is shot. So I picked up another one from Home Depot - it was a piece of cake to install and now, no more running water.
After I got finished painting upstairs, I had some left over primer and a dirty roller. Rather than wash it out, I thought I'd do some preventative maintenance. When I bought this house almost two years ago, the door to the basement was white. now all of that has been washed away due to weather.

Since I'm not interested in redoing a door - I thought I'd put a fresh layer of primer on it. It's nice and thick and blindly white. Hopefully that will protect the wood for a while.
I took a rather cool self portrait while I was up on the third floor. The light from the setting sun, reflected off some other windows into the apartment on the third floor. It was a beautiful orange light on the horrible army green. That will be the next big paint job. Can't wait until that is taken care of. Up next? The bathroom on the third floor. We'll see.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Time Gardening

I can hardly believe that yesterday it was almost 90 degrees and today it's only 60. Not that I'm complaining. It was a bit too hot, too soon. It's going to be a bit cooler this weekend which is a-okay with me because I'm going to be workin' in the garden and painting on the third floor.
I spent about 4 hours this afternoon outside - I feel like a barely made a dent. Everything is blooming beautifully. I have tulips, violets and a few daffodils left. Unfortunately I also have a ton of dandelions and the weeds are "blooming beautifully" too.
But I also spied my cardinal today! He was in the juniper tree piping away and didn't move. Unfortunately my camera kept focusing on the leaves in the way - but there he is! This juniper tree really has to go - but things like this really make it hard. The cardinals hide in there. Sigh.
I forgot I had put daffodil bulbs like this in the garden. They are a bit later than the bright yellow ones. Just as pretty though...
The violets are exploding everywhere! I moved a bunch last year in hopes that I wouldn't have to mow them when I needed to. It worked! I have violet clumps all over the garden in much more manageable places. I moved even more today. Unfortunately I also move some impostors last year. I had to yank them all out today before I could keep going. Those stinkers! The leaves look so similar to real violets and yet they have an absolute nothing flower. Boring. They all had to come out.
I decided to start at the front. I weeded, transplanted and generally cleaned. Raked under the hedge AND - the biggest deal.... I started the brick-replacement program.
See those two darker colored boarder bricks in the image above? They weren't there before. Put those back in. And then in the image below there are a ton of boarder bricks missing as well.
Fixed that up too.
It feels nice to have cleaned all of that up. There is a gutter spout right there as well. That corner of the bed was always flooded and nothing grew there. I'm interested to see if things can grow there now. Next task is to do the other side of the boarder. I just couldn't face it today.
Just a note that my raspberries are also doing very very well. There are little buds all over them!
How did I get on this gardening kick today? Well, Ann gave me a gift certificate to Home Depot. I was only going to buy more primer for upstairs, but then she said, "well, I was going to give you something for flowers" and I thought - maybe I should treat myself to some flowers. So I did buy painting supplies and then I also bought a TON of seeds. I'm super excited to start them and get them planted in the yard. I think I'll probably devote quite a bit of time to gardening this weekend. Okay - I'm off to paint and spackle on the third floor.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lots to post about

I hope you were all able to celebrate Easter Sunday however you wished and with the warmth and peace a cat must feel lying in a sunbeam. I had a beautiful day. It was the first weekend that West River Drive is closed to traffic on weekend mornings for cyclists and runners and ??? All of the flowering trees were in full bloom. It was absolutely glorious. I'm a bit out of shape - that's to be expected, but it was worth the sore muscles to be out there that morning.
I spent the rest of the day takin' care of business:
Enjoying everything about my house. I have a "host of golden daffodils" (that would be Longfellow for all of you literary people) a line I always think of when I see a bunch of daffodils. I planted 50 bulbs last fall and it was worth it. They are so beautiful. I think if I just keep adding 50 each year? My yard will be exploding. I don't think it's possible to have too many daffodils.
The tulips are just about there as well. I sprayed them all with garlic water. Let's hope that keeps the darn squirrels away this year! In addition to enjoying the garden, I mowed the lawn and did about a dozen loads of laundry. What a luxury to have your laundry dried by the sun. I love it.
While things were drying, I decided it was time to tackle the blue room. Ugh. This is one of the rooms on the third floor, which I hope to rent eventually. So - WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND PAINTS A ROOM TWO DIFFERENT COLORS OF DARK AWFUL BLUE!!! Oh it's just hideous. Here's a panorama of a sort of image of the room:
It doesn't look so bad with the sunlight shining in, but when the sun goes down that room is like a dungeon. And then seriously, at least take the blasted tape off! I'm not kidding - I bought the house with this cruddy blue tape still up. It's been there for almost two years.
But I yanked that down and started painting. It looks so much better already! I painted some more today. I think one more layer of primer will do it. Then I can start painting the real color paint on it.
Before I do that though - I have to fix the hole in the ceiling where the old light fixture used to be. Shouldn't be a big deal. I'm a pro now. I also have to Spackle in the bathroom which is painted the same nightmarish shade of blue. That will be the next battle.
Going backwards in time:
Saturday was pretty exciting. The show of OUTLOUD was held at The Print Center. This was a show my friend Katie curated. It was a show of performances based on books by artists committed to the book as their main format. (Don't' you love that?) I think now I'm pleased with the result. It sure was a production, let me tell ya! Thank goodness Mary knew an Electrical and Computer Engineering Masters Candidate at Drexel and I was lucky enough to convince him to help me. I'm going to try to upload the film here, wish me luck.
So you have to imagine a dark gallery, with this projection on the floor in front of a pedestal with the actual book on it. The viewer is invited to look through the book during the performance.
I got some nice feed back and I'm really glad I participated. The other artists were fantastic, and it was a real privilege to be part of that group.
And further back in time - April 1st is the annual edible book party. If I am smart enough - I will be able to load all of the images up on Flickr and post a link here. These projects get better and better every year. Can't wait to show them to you all.
Okay - It's late and I still have to try to load this film.
Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed-bugs bite!
PS - too tired to figure out how to upload the film. Will post within the week though.....

Friday, April 2, 2010

I used to be a ballerina

I caved today. I met with my new accountant, who is FABULOUS, by the way… and she told me how much I was getting back! Unfortunately I immediately had to spend it on new brakes and state car inspection etc. but there was enough left over to indulge in a little. So, I bought a new pair of point shoes.
You must understand, I used to be a ballerina.
Yep, when I was four I started taking ballet lessons. Serious ones. With Miss McClure. Watch out! Miss McClure took things very seriously. If your turnout wasn't quite what is should be - she would come over, take hold of your leg and in a sudden movement - put it into the position she felt it should be in. Never mind if the rest of you crumpled under the pain - your leg was now where it should be. And woe-be-tide you if she had to make it happen again. You didn't mess with her. If she said, you may not be on point until you are 11 or 12, that was that. And of course that was all we wanted. We wanted to be real ballerinas with point shoes. And eventually of course we were. But it really wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Point shoes are PAINFUL! There is no other way to put it.
And I bought season tickets to the ballet this year. Cheap ones, but still...I get to go. And I love it.
We have a wonderful choreographer in Philadelphia - I love his ballets. Whenever I've seen one, I just want to prance around my house the way I used-ta-could. So I try.
On 11th and Chestnut is a huge dancer supply store with lots of point shoes. I pass it all the time. I'd been in before too close to closing time to make a real decision. But today when I was there around noon - I had plenty of time to spend getting a new pair.
So I did.
The first thing the sales lady asked was what kind of inserts I used. Wool, Gel, or Foam.
What did she mean inserts?! - there was no such thing in my day - NOTHING was put into the shoe - save maybe masking tape as the older girls did. But that was considered scandalous - or even cheating somehow. Those rebels! - But when I was about 17, Miss McClure finally said in her unique way, "well if it hurts so much, cut off the end of a sock and use that as a buffer." Who knew we were allowed too!
At any rate - I looked them all over and chose the gel inserts. And wow. I don't know if I should be thrilled or guilty. I don't know if Miss McClure would approve or not! She might even be rolling in her grave if she new about these things.
I bought the gel things and they really make a difference. The gel just molds to your feet and your feet don't slide around so much in the shoes - no blisters on the toes. And lets face it, those damn shoes still hurt your feet no matter what! I don't know how we did it!? I remember having bloody blisters by the time I was finished with my classes. But you didn't complain. You wanted to be on point - and that was the price you paid. You would get huge calluses eventually, but every September when we re-started, the pain was amazing. I can only image - but if child birth is anything like this... I'll be just fine.
But I digress…I bought the shoes, and tonight I spent the evening prepping. I sewed the ribbons and elastic on. And probably spent no more than 10 minutes with them actually on . Despite the gel-thingies they really hurt. But it was so wonderful to be wearing them! I still have to darn the points - but once that is finished I'll be able to prance around the house any time I wish! Yeah!
While I was trying them on and remembering how to teeter around on them, Jacques sat on the top of a chair and watched me - totally fascinated. Humans must be so weird to his little brain.
And of course - he had to inspect:

And I can still do it. Turn-out not quite what it used to be, balance not quite there yet either - but I can still do. And worth the pain - anytime. :)
(This post isn't finished. Check in again for the complete version. :) - Tara) Sorry about posting an incomplete post - I was so tired my eyelids were drooping and I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the save as a draft button was. That's pretty bad, huh? (it's right next the the publish post button) At any rate - I hope this post makes more sense. :)