Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LIbby...always searching

Another in my "family" of heads....Lib's search for her true self was never-ending....the new year, the new year she thought to herself....I will be who I really am in 2010 despite it all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I love my GIANT new buttons!

OMGosh...look at these humongous new buttons my wonderful brother got me for Christmas! They are the background on which I piled other colorful buttons! What you can't see here (photography misses so much!) is that they are textured and very light and the square ones are concave (well, convex if you turn then upside down from how I have them here)! Love em! Not sure what I'll do with them...make pins? Who knows? Who cares? They are just so huge and so colorful!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Meet Pat

And, here we have Pat, tense but tight-lipped :) Can't imagine feeling that way, can you?


I have a notebook of sketches which I drew with the intent of then painting each goofy character onto wooden switch plates; hence the odd, rectangular ears. I only ended up painting three into a real and colorful life, one for my hall bathroom, one for my sister-in-law's bedroom (when it was my husband's man-room), and one for my brother. Ron, here, surveys the new scene with extreme trepidation; spose we all do that at one time or another :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dolly Mamas

How cute are these? These red-lipped gals are from the "Bust Line" of "heads without bodies" which I guess does sound a little strange but they are pretty cute. Joey is a self-taught artist who makes and sells all kinds of silly things to laugh at. Check out these snappy ladies and some other goofy chicks called Poof Fairies (Poof...your house is clean!) on her website, Dolly Mama's,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa's Water Sleigh

How funny is this? I was fiddling around in the kitchen and happened to look out our patio window....and who on the water did I see? Santa without his reindeer, rowing down the river on Christmas Eve! Rock on Santa.

Happy Holidays!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Birdhouse Collector

My dear friend Celine collects birdhouses. I made this birdhouse tonight with several of my favorite materials, buttons and beautiful it! Hope she will :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Miss B with her paper doll family, well some of them. To your left is Daddy Gabe with a band aid on his face, a mustache under his nose and running shoes on his stubby little feet. In B's mouth (hey, there were a lot of family to get in the pic), is Grandpa Rusty, number 54. To the right is B, herself with cool shades, necklace, and basketball shoes. And, trailing down bottom is me, Grammie Joy, with hiking boots, fancy glasses, crazy earrings and my yellow bag...ready to go somewhere exciting!

B, now with snazzy hanging purse and a teddy bear attached to her left arm, mom with red dancing shoes, groovy yellow glasses, and a snappy red purse and daddy peeking around the corner with his watch on. Notice Fiona, the pug, in her stylin sandles...oh yah.
In this scene, B tells the story of how important it is to brush your teeth....otherwise they'll get all blue, shown above :P

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Just playing with combining glass pieces and using wire....

My husband thought the wire-work looked like a fishing lure. I hit him. My brother disliked it at first and then said, "Hey, it looks like Kandinsky. I love it." That made me happy. He's honest and critical and lives in New York so unlike me and my husband who are Mainers, he's definitely more hip. A woman who also makes jewelry, who I turned to for her opinion, said the first piece looked too much like two pendants just joined together. Yep, that's what it is I told her. She felt I needed to integrate the glass circle with the glass square in such a way that the two pieces looked like they belonged together. So...I fiddled with my glass necklace. I joined the two pieces with a rod in the back (actually it's a metal piece from a picture hanger!), edited some of the wire, and added some beads. And, here it is. Photography absolutely does this piece no justice. It is beautiful in the light but you cannot see that here. And, in retrospect, I'd make a little more movement between the two pieces but I have to fiddle more with wire to get that going on :) As it is, the movement is just in the "wing" piece that floats above the square.
My therapy :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peace, Joy, Noel

Here are my happy little containers and all their contents...ready to fly off to Georgia, Florida, New York, Michigan and Idaho. They are wine bottle tubes made out of stiff cardboard; ready to caretake all our chocolate gifts! We made chocolate-covered pretzels, Oreos, Graham crackers, marshmallows, pretzel sticks and 3 kinds of delicious truffles (Oolahlah Orange, Afterburn, and Mellow Mint). Yowza! Happy Holidays!
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Let's Think About These Christmas Crafts

My Grandma Joy had me over for a visit. Cool. We have these little sparkley circles as part of a craft project. Got it. But, so much to decide. What color is the surprise object going to be, blah, blah. Christmas. I love it but, boy, it's some work getting these handmade gifts for family ready!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ice Cometh

This morning it is around 17 degrees out...and windy. With windchill I'm guessing it's around 10 degrees. I have bus duty this morning. It's one of the aspects of my job I don't mind when the weather is beautiful and pretty much hate when it's freezing out. I have long underwear to put on at school, an extra jacket with a hood that goes under the wool coat. I have wool mittens to go over the glove liners and I have a hat. My feet have Smartwool socks on and boots and my guess is I will still be cold. Yesterday I had recess duty and complained to a student of mine how cold I was just standing there watching kids run around. He threw me the basketball and we dribbled and shot the entire recess. I was warm and had a blast! Maybe I should do jumping jacks while I stand in front of the buses this morning as students unload :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whatever is THIS?

Looks like an abstract piece of "art" maybe? It's actually what was left after I decorated our chocolate covered marshmallows and Oreos! "You gotta take a picture of that," my husband told me. Edible art :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Peace, Love, Zumba

Latin rhythms and merengue blast from the boom box as I try to follow the perky daycare worker by day, Zumba instructor by night! On the back of her shirt is written, "Peace, Love, Zumba!" This is THE new fitness craze so I had to try it. Beto Perez created it in the mid-90s while he was an aerobics instructor in Columbia. He moved to the US and by 2002 had developed Zumba training programs, Zumba fitness. These days there is Zumba Basics 1 and 2, Zumba Gold, Zumba Aqua Training, Zumba Toning and Zumbatomic. You can buy Zumba shoes, hats, exercise pants, key chains......I enjoyed the workout even though I was bumping into other physically and musically challenged women flailing about. I thought Zumba would be wildly different from any other fitness class I had taken, but it wasn't. It is really just good old high/low impact aerobics with a few dance moves thrown in and snappy, Latin music blasting in the background. At least it was a pretty good way to get a 50 minute workout without having to ride the boring elliptical machine!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spinning not Cruising

Sunday morning at 9:00 I drug my rear end out of bed and into a spinning class. Now, this is not to be confused with me riding my beach cruiser around town in the summer. That is lazy and fun. This was....scary! I have heard the stories about people not being able to finish a class, about instructors yelling at "riders", about how extremely exhausted you get. But, I am in pretty good shape these days so thought I'd give it a go. At first I thought I'd die. My thigh muscles were screaming in pain. When the instructor yelled, "Crank it up", meaning add more resistance and turn that red knob, I yelled, "No!" which made the woman next to me burst into laughter but I could see her think, "Hey, I don't have to do what this chick is telling me," which is the KEY to these classes. I have learned, at along last, to make these classes work for me so I do what works for my fitness level not his or hers. So, I slowly cranked the resistance up and sometimes not at all. And, after about 10 minutes, to my surprise, my legs warmed up and I really, really enjoyed the class. Up and down we went over the hills and through the valleys. Well, not really but I kept closing my eyes and imaging myself back on the Golden Gate Bridge when Ken and I rode across on Blazing Saddles bikes! Yes, it was completely exhausting and my face was as red as a ripe tomato when I finally hopped off the bike and I drained a huge bottle of water, but I was invigorated! I will definitely take another spinning class in the near future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Trifle

Once a year we have to bring food to our bi-weekly staff meeting. Last night I made this brownie trifle with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and red/green M&Ms. I'm thinking this is going to be yummy....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chocolate Covered!

For Christmas this year we are making a lot of food gifts...chocolate covered. Tonight we made mint chocolate covered Oreos and marshmallows. The marshmallows were heavenly. Tomorrow night we will decorate with red and green drizzles of chocolate (gotta get in the spirit of it all) and start on the chocolate covered pretzel sticks. Thanks, Jacki, for your expert chocolate dipping skills! Who knew you were so talented!

Gym Yoga

My first yoga experience was with my husband about 12 years ago. We were checking out yoga as a couple's activity. The instructor, who now runs a studio in town but didn't them, took us in for a private consult. Within minutes of our meeting, he commented, "Hm...this is a yoga teacher's nightmare. You are like a pretzel and you (pointing to my husband) can't bend at all!" That was it for our couples yoga! My second yoga experience was with a yoga teacher who came to my workplace at the end of the day. Unfortunately, that didn't last long but how important was that at work! My third experience with yoga was when I took up yoga teacher training. I am sure my yoga teacher/mentor was truly some sort of guru. She was warm, genuine, deeply spiritual, intelligent, kind and I really connected with her as did most of her students. Yesterday, after not having taken a yoga class in about 9 months, I was tentative but really excited to take yoga at my gym. Within seconds, I was wishing I had plugs to put in my ears to block out this yoga teacher's high pitched voice as it grated on and on. I wondered, "Where the guts of yoga?" There is so much more than, "OK, bend from your core." Where was yoga philosophy I thought as the buff instructor showed us how to power up out of Down Dog. When I left yoga yesterday my muscles were indeed stretched and more limber but I was neither more peaceful nor more connected to all living things. Goofy as that sounds, I see now why I enjoyed my yoga training because it was about stretching my body, opening my mind, and finding peace in my soul. As any good yogi would say, gym yoga is what it is :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ocean State Job Lot

You would think such a company is about finding jobs for the unemployed, right? Job Lot. OK that makes sense. And, Ocean State...they must be from Rhode Island. Well, that's 1/2 right. Turns out Ocean State Job Lot is a Rhone Island-based discount store packed to the ceiling with name-brand, close-out merchandise. Their logo reads, "Home of Adventure Shopping." OSJL, as they refer to themselves on their website, took over the recently vacated Circuit City building just down the road from where I work. On my first visit, one evening this past week, the place was packed. The sales people seemed...interesting. Many had piercings, colored hair, even teeth missing. But they seemed nice enough, though most appeared kind of confused as to where things were and how to help customers. And the aisles were just big enough to squeeze two carts by one another, scraping wheels as they pass, "Excuse me. Boy these aisles are tiny. Sorry." The place was jammed packed with junk and with quality stuff. I spent over $100 and felt like I got a good deal on my 2 "Italian" rugs and blue King-sized sheets for the condo, inexpensive math games for school, toys for the grand kids for Christmas and a giant purple calculator for $5. I will return and my husband is dying to go because "Don't you just love a bargain?" (hey, isn't that somebody else's logo?) but I still don't understand the name...Job Lots?

Friday, December 4, 2009


Art by Adults with Autism

"Help me! Help me!" Roberto (not this student's real name) screamed all the way down the hall after his substitute paraprofessional, unknowingly, took his stuffed animal away. Roberto is in Kindergarten and has made a nice adjustment to elementary school. His educational goals are mostly around socializing and communicating. At an update meeting I was interested to find that he knows all his upper case letters and most of the lower and can count to 37. That would make any Kindergarten parent proud. Mom told us that she has had to stop him from using her computer because he was resetting her computer programs. Roberto has language but generally doesn't express himself when the adults around him would like him to. He is often taken away and preoccupied with whatever images, sounds, feelings he has floating around in his own private world. The challenge of our job as educators is to help Roberto adjust to a world that seems so confusing and uninteresting to him. His mom pretty much accepts him for who he is. His class is very fond of him. He is learning. It is impossible to image his future at this point and that makes him so intriguing to me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And She Slept Like a Baby

Wow...9 hours of sleep last night. Nice warm bath. Glass of wine. Good conversations with family. Things are moving along as best they can. 9 hours of sleep after 3 relatively sleepless nights is heavenly......

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can't Sleep

The last couple of nights I have been laying awake in my cozy bed.......thinking. I think about all the paperwork I have to do at my job (and how I really dislike that). I think about my mom's birthday in a few days (and how sad I am that she is gone). I think about all I have to do for Christmas and how to make that more fun and enjoyable vs. chore-like. But I think what is really keeping me awake and laying wide-eyed in bed as my husband snores away is the recent news that a close relative was admitted to a mental hospital the day after Thanksgiving. "So and so was making coffee and forgot to put the pot under the dripping water," a family member tells me. "So and so was talking about the past one minute and then about the garden the next," I hear from another family member. "So and so would just walk away muttering when the words failed to come out in the right order," is the sad story. Was it a change in meds? I remember when my husband was in rehab and given a strong pain med that quickly scrambled his brain. One minute he was asleep and the next he was asking me how the experiment we were in was going. "The what?" I asked him. "The study we are in!" he repeated his crazy talk. And I'll never forget a mentally ill college student I once had who would ramble on incoherently in my Abnormal Psychology class. He had recently been released from a mental health hospital and decided he could live without his medication. I will never forget the bug-eyed look on my student's faces as he made a series of senseless and rambling comments during my lecture on schizophrenia, psychosis, and why people might carry on incoherently when they break from reality. Is it our family history of mental health issues? I think about Grandma Dixon who heard voices on the radio when she didn't have the right combination of meds. Who flew to Hawaii in search of Elvis when she stopped taking whatever concoction of drugs kept her sane. Was it the stress of life? New love, new career path, new training. Who knows at this point. It's what I wonder about as I lay in my cozy bed, wide awake past midnight......

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turning over the Rental

Every so often owning rentals is a pain in the ass. This Fall both sides of this two-unit rental became vacant. Tenants took advantage of Obama's $8000 incentive and moved into their first home. Having one rental vacant is manageable while my husband and I work full-time. Having two rentals vacant makes us mental. Advertise, show, advertise show, advertise, show. We must have shown this place 15 times and reduced the rent twice. The time of the year, the economy, who knows what made it really difficult to rent this unit this year. It is small, but it is a really great rental. So, that part is stressful to me. The part I enjoy is the renovation where we go in and paint and fix up. Last night my husband and I arrived at this unit at 4:30 and left around 8:30. My sister-in-law (THANK YOU JACKI) arrived around 7:30. We painted and painted and painted until I was covered in beige paint (I really get into it) and all the walls were clean and beautiful. I love how my effort pays off, immediately. I love doing physical labor. And I love that we have created a space that will become somebody's new home. Now if we had just remembered to leave the key in the mailbox Ken wouldn't have to run over there at noon!