Friday, January 24, 2014


Good Grief. I think there was one year (back in the winter of aught-seven...) no really, back then there were two weeks where it wouldn't get out of the 20'sF. But it was 16°F on Wednesday. Cold.
Now, I know that there are people who are colder. But my brain is so frozen it can't even fathom that kind of cold. 
The snow storm on Tuesday dumped at least a foot of snow on us.  And it was beautiful. It still is. The snow was powdery and fluffy. Last night I walked through a park and it was still fluffy. It was kind of like walking on sand - cold sand.  And it's so cold that very little has melted. Some does in the sun, but it's so cold it freezes again just about immediately.  I have award winning icicles on my porch.   
Heaps of snow in the yard. The wind was blowing so hard while it snowed that I have a new geography back there. Parts of the yard only have an inch or two, while others have a foot and a half. 
No one was out on Wednesday except us poor people who had to clean our sidewalks, so the snow stayed white and untouched.
By Thursday though, little critters had wandered through the yard. But not Jacques. No way. He had the good sense NOT to go outside.  I figured after the storm on Tuesday he'd want out on Wednesday. When I went down stairs to start the shoveling project, he did come along, but he was not interested in going out. I opened the front doors for him.  He peeked his head around the studio door, took the measure of things and gave me a look which clearly said, you have got to be kidding me - I'm not going out there! He turned around and walked off to find some warmth.   But he did eventually decide on Thursday he wanted to go out. Here he is quickly slinking under the shed.  When I opened the door twenty minutes later he was more than ready to come back in. 
Jacques is my heat seeker. If there is any part of the house that is warmer than another part, that's where you'll find him. So when the radiant heat is on in the bathroom, that's where he is curled up, heat on full blast downstairs, he's in front of the vent. And when those places aren't enough, he wedges himself between the planter and the sunny window. 
Last night was kind of the last straw for me with the cold. As I sat in my studio I realized I was really cold even though the heater was running full blast. Why was this? Because I had not put the plastic up over the windows this year. I immediately set out to rectifying that situation. The first floor was 62°F and the second was 75°F. What does that tell you? Tells me I need to put the plastic up to keep the drafts out.  This morning things had evened out, 68° on 2 and 64° on 1. Much better. I also hung the drapes over the front windows in hopes of some more insulation. 
 And Swee'pea? Swee'pea is not my heat seaker, but he likes to be bundled up. In bags, in baskets, under blankets, even thin sheets, he just likes to be nestled I think.  Here he crawled under the unmade bed clothes. 
 And in a basket in the studio.
 My poor little Sweetie has worries. I'm not really sure what the issue is but last spring he started licking his tummy. Now he has licked all the fur off of his belly and has some sores. I have a prescription for happy pills for him, but I'm not sure they are working. The vet says it could just be habit now. So what do I do? I just try to distract him when I see he's liking away. Please send happy thoughts to Swee'pea, and if you have any idea how to help a cat break a habit, please let me know!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
It has been a whirl wind of a windup of 2013, let me tell you.  We got a lot of paid holidays at work so I took a few vacation days and have had two and a half glorious weeks off. The beginning of vacation was spent celebrating Christmas and birthday, and then on the 2nd I flew out in the nick of time to escape the big storm to California. I am currently writing on the airplane! And if I felt like dishing out $5 – I could even post this while in the air! But I find that a bit too extravagant. 
Christmas was new for Swee’pea. He has never had a tree before. It smelled very nice. Nice enough to eat, but not very good for kitty tummies. I found numerous little pine barfs all over the place. Note to self, Swee’pea needs some grass. I’ll have to grow some for him.  Jacques was blasé about the whole thing.  As long as there was a warm lap to sit on and yummy food and he was occasionally let outside (in spite of rain and cold) he has been a happy camper. 

Pedro and I did a lot of cooking for the holidays which was fun. Christmas Eve we made Garlic Doused Shrimp. These were supposed to be an appetizer, but was much more delicious as a salad.

 I also tried my hand at a banana tart!
 I’ve had this blow torch for a while, but never used it. It was fun to blast away with the fire.  The tart was pretty yummy too.  Pedro bought me a fabulous juicer for Christmas. I love it! It comes with a recipe book for a lot of things. One thing I like is recipes for using up the dry pulp of the veggies in muffins and such. I made some very yummy muffins. 
AnneMaree sent this gorgeous etching. I actually had a spare frame and decided it was perfect to hang in the bathroom.  I think the walls need more art. You’d think with all of my art I would have taken care of this by now – but for some reason.  I have neglected this part of house nesting. 

For my birthday I decided to gift myself two filing cabinets. These are LONG overdue. They will help clear up this mess:There is a place in Manayunk that sells used office furniture. I found two that I liked for a pretty good price.
I am very happy with my find. We hauled them home and I took care of the boring color.
I’ve transferred one set of filing items into one drawer, which leaves me three more to fill. Shouldn’t be too difficult. 

While we were in Manayunk we came across a wood furniture warehouse that was going out of business. They had the most AMAZING deals on teak garden furniture. Some birthday money bought a chaise lounge and an executive decision decided I could also get a “love seat” and a “corner chair.” They are safely inside at the moment. When I settle where they will go and how I will, ahem, secure them, I’ll post pictures of that. I also bought a really fun umbrella to shade everything.

And yes, I got out to California to visit family.  And I got out just in time. The big storm hit about two hours after I left. We did have to fly through a bit of it which wasn’t much fun, but then the flight smoothed out and I got to warm, sunny California.  It was lovely!
 I did a lot of walking, just looking at all the green and flowers. I also walked into the hills, which were not green and flowers due to lack of rain, but still very beautiful.
There was a Santa Ana condition over the weekend, which means the winds shift and come in from the east. From the high desert. They are hot and dry and blow all the gunk in the air out of the LA basin.  It was very clear so visibility was fantastic.  That view up there is probably about 30 miles of visibility. You can see down town LA and the Hollywood sign. (although not well in this low res image). 

My dad's birthday is also this time of year. I made another pair of socks for him this time using baby alpaca. Oh, they are so soft! and I decided to get fancy with the cuff and added a bit of a cabled twist. 
For his birthday, my dad wanted to go see the Watt’s Towers built by Simon Rodia. I had completely the wrong idea about this place for some reason. I thought it was a memorial for the Watts riots. Nope. It was build by a man who just had this obsession to build these towers. The neighborhood actually protected the towers during the riots.  There is an art center associated with it, and to get in you have to take a tour. The tour guide was fantastic. You could tell he had been doing this for a long time, knew more about this place and Simon Rodia and anyone and you could almost hear him self editing as he talk. He probably could have talked for hours. 
The towers remind me very much of the local Philadelphia artist, Isaiah Zagar and his magic gardens.  
From there we tried to get to the Griffith Observatory, but this was as close as we could get.  It seemed like the rest of Los Angeles was trying to do the same thing. Ah well, maybe next time. It sounds really spectacular. 

Instead we went over to the Norton Simon in Pasadena. I always forget about this little museum – and I don’t know why – it’s got some great stuff in it! There a special exhibition of Goya Prints and a nice show of sculpture inspired by Brancusi’s Bird in Space. I also reacquainted myself with a few of Van Gogh’s paintings. Some day, art history text books will have 3d images. The flat reproductions just cannot do his work justice. (And, of course, he is not the only one whose work suffers in reproduction.)

I also took this image of Kandinsky’s circles.
They reminded me Melanie’s work for some reason.

Leaving California is always bitter sweet. I will miss my Dad and Ann and their wonderful hospitality, the warmth, the good Mexican food, and that wine can be purchased at Trader Joe’s… but I am also looking forward to seeing all of my boys back home. By the way, Pedro is a Leo, so essentially I have three cats.