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October 24, 2009

The Pictures You Don't See

There are bloggers that follow themes for different days of the week. Which actually works out a lot better than you might think. I have a hard time being that disciplined because my schedule isn't always set and time isn't always set aside to blog on specific days of the week.

For example, Follow Friday. I like those posts. I've found some great posts from those and discovered blogs that I would never have otherwise stumbled across.

I cross a lot of categories of blogs because I'm interested in so much. I read gardening blogs, genealogy blogs, cooking blogs, knitting blogs, sewing blogs, firefighting, etc. You name it. Because a good writer is a good writer and there are some good writers out there in blogland. I think the proof is in how many of them are published authors. I don't mean authors who started blogging (although I know there are many of those out there), I'm talking about bloggers whose blog resulted in a book.

Today I selected my "lifestyle" blogs to share. That sounds strange but it is the best description I could think of because these women are artistic in so many things. Cooking, painting, photography, writing, etc. I'm in awe of these women. They inspire me to look at what I do in my everyday life. I don't know if it is a coincidence that most of them live in Portland or if Portland is a hotbed for fantastically creative people.

The Portland bloggers are friends and what I wouldn't give to tag around with them. I realize I would be like the pesky little sister following behind but I don't even care.

Angry Chicken sews beautiful clothes one day and paints the most lovely paintings the next. She is frequently doing fun activities with her kids which, on more than one occasion, has given me a great idea for activities and gifts for my nephews. She has two wonderful books out, I made sure I got the first one as soon as it came off the presses and I put her second one on my wishlist. I want to sew. I need to learn more. I'm hoping she will offer workshops at some point.

Inside a Black Apple is the blog of a truly gifted artist. She works in several mediums but painting seems to be her love. I think my favorite part of all her enchanting paintings are the wonderful little backstories she gives each of them. She did compile the stories of the characters into a book recently and they all sold out before I could even blink.

Posie Gets Cozy is personally responsible for getting me neck deep into many projects. She is a talented photographer so everything she is working on or doing looks amazing. I've followed along in her wake and purchased many books just based on what she is doing. It might almost qualify as a kind of craft stalking. Alicia also has an amazing book and she IS holding a workshop in the near future. Fingers crossed I'm not moving the beach house at that time.

The last blogger on this list is actually in England but her blog fits the category and I often forget she is in England because her climate and garden plants tend to align with Portland. So her roses are blooming when my roses are blooming and I swear we get rain at the same time. Yarnstorm is another talented photographer that gets me in a lot of trouble. Something that might look like a garage sale reject in my home somehow looks charming in hers. I don't know how she does it. Jane also has several books, one of which is next to me right now and inspired this post. I'm planning Halloween weekend with the grandparents and I just can't resist making some lovely things from this book.

There is something really special in all of these blogs. I think it is how they view the world around them. Everything is beautiful and special and has its purpose. It's about enjoying the little things. The mug of sweet tea next to me, scritching the soft head of Frankie who has his nose smooshed into my leg and is groaning happily as he sleeps, and the birds splashing happily in the bird bath out back.

Of course, my life doesn't seem quite as picturesque. The couch Frankie and I are on is also covered in muddy footprints (this time of year, the easiest thing to do is wait for the mud to dry and brush it off rather than wash the covers every single day) and the bird bath is actually the lid to my garbage can that is holding rainwater. It all has its own special charm.

October 06, 2009

All Within the Past 24 Hours

How I know the universe is conspiring to make me nuts:

Scenario 1 - I notice a credit to my bank account from my cell phone company. "That's odd," I thought. I tried to use my phone this afternoon only to be hijacked into my cell phone's customer service who asked what they could do for me today. "You tell me, I went to make a call and was sent here instead." She came back to tell me I owed them too much money. I would need to make a payment of...about the exact amount they just credited back to me. I told her this fact. She looked it up and confirmed she could see this had happened but still went on a schpeel about making a payment like I needed to be convinced to do this.. I had to interrupt her to point out again, they had the money and they gave it back. If I made another payment would they promise not to send it back and leave my cell service alone? You could tell she felt stupid but she couldn't make sense of what happened. Neither can I honey. Neither can I.

Scenario 2 - A rather nasty sounding letter from the cable company being very stern and threatening me that if I didn't immediately pay the amount of .00 then they would interrupt my service. I'm tempted to send a check.

Scenario 3 - I placed two separate orders with one yarn company in Canada (the orders were placed about two days apart). Each order was just a few skeins of yarn. Yesterday I had a card in my mailbox telling me I had to go to the post office to pick up one of the boxes. The other one was left at my door. *sigh*

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot one of the best parts of Scenario 1. The customer service rep telling me that they tried to notify me that they were suspending service on my cell phone but the only number they had for me was the cell number. As soon as it came out of her mouth you could tell she felt stupid.

October 04, 2009

Then and Now

Many changes in the backyard this summer. All of them made me exceedingly happy. Lets begin with the shed. I hate the shed.

It was the view outside my bedroom window. Lovely.

It is too large for my backyard (what would ANYONE need to keep in there except lots of crap?) so it ended up being a focal point. An ugly, white, metal shed as the focal point. And because I refused to use it much it ended up being a safe haven for spiders. Big spiders. Spiders that often looked over at my house and decided to visit. *shudder*

I managed to talk someone into taking it. Now I just need to get rid of the concrete base it sat on. This will entail me renting a jackhammer. Stay tuned. This could be funny.

In the meantime it just makes me so happy to look out my window and see the pretty willow tree or to look over and see my spiffy new fence. I had that whole fence rebuilt which just looks fantastic. The old one was falling apart. Literally. Pieces of wood just falling down.

There also were the laurel bushes. The yard was completely dominated on two sides by laurel bushes (actually there were laurel bushes on all three sides but that stupid shed kept the third side from being dominated). They weren't bad looking bushes but they took up so much space and just looked so untidy. The research I did had laurel bushes as borders and trimmed into tidy shapes. What was growing in my yard did not resemble this in any way.

These have all been cleaned out. For much of the month I just enjoyed the bareness. I will be planting a hydrangea along the fence between the purple plum and the mystery plant..

Along the back fence, next to another bank of laurels was a big 'ole stump. A gigantic tree had fallen over at some point and the stump was still sitting catywumpus in the ground. It was way too big a job for just me. There were still roots in the ground and my ground is nearly solid clay so darn near impossible to dig these out. The dogs tried. I can't imagine a tree this big so close to my giant willow.

I actually put a dog toy in this picture for scale. The black and white thing is a tennis ball. This was a really big tree.

For more scale, here is a picture from last winter of the laurels along the fence. They are so big and overgrown they are actually hiding that gigantic stump on the right of this "hedge."

Here is that area today. Most of the laurels gone (don't ask me why the lawn guy left that last one. He works on very strange logic) and the stump is gone. I didn't know what kind of tree it was until it got cut up. The smell of pine is almost overwhelming. I'll bet it was a beautiful tree.

and the stump cut up and ready for the fireplace.

That is two out of three projects. I'll share the third project later this week. It will also be a picture heavy post so I'll pace myself.