Monday, August 23, 2010

Marvellous Monday!

Today in NOTL:  Lovely, cloudy, drizzly day!  Cool and damp, with noonish temps of 64F/18C and 90+% humidity, but temps will rise to a still-cool 72F/22C with a bit lower humidity.  Glorious!

A busy day!  We've already done our blogtalkradio show, and at 2 we have a distance conference with the participants in our Way of the Angels course.  Eeek!

I've been reading old literature since May - I started with the Five Little Peppers and then detoured to an old Trixie Belden, but then discovered, where many many out of print and public domain literature resides.  I reacquainted myself with the Bobbsey Twins, beginning with the first book, which I had read as a child.  I had to stop reading them, though, as Dinah and Sam, the black couple who worked for the Bobbseys, were depicted in such a buffoonish way that it bothered me.

Next, I looked for a book from my very early childhood I have longed to reread - The Merry Girls of England by L.T. Meade.  I read it when I was eight or nine, and it got lost over the years.  I remember loving it, though, and would like to see how I regard it as an adult.  I didn't find it on Gutenberg, though it is an 1896 book, unfortunately, so the search continues.

I did discover 'girl series books' though, books written for young girls back in the day.  Many, like the Merry Girls of England, were set in school, but others like the Ruth Fielding or Betty Gordon books, named for their heroines rather than their authors, were not.  Some books, forerunners of the Trixie Beldons, featured groups of girls and sometimes included brothers and friends. had a good many of these, and I enjoyed reading the Outdoor Girls books and the Motor Girls as well.  They are good for a chuckle, as times were certainly different back then, but I am really enjoying a glimpse into how people thought and what they valued back then.

For example, self-discipline was a major value.  Mrs. Pepper, upon seeing her son Joel's grades, is disappointed.  Joel explains that he intends to study harder but the lessons are boring and other things distract him and he just can't help himself.  Mrs. Pepper gives him a withering look.  "Well, I'd be master of myself [if nothing else]" she tells him.

This idea comes up repeatedly.  Crying, which we regard as healthy, is viewed as a sign of weakness.  In the book I am reading now, it is considered 'early Victorian' and scorned as old-fashioned.   Rule-following (in the school stories) is seen as placing the good of the group over the good of the individual, an idea which still held force when I was a schoolgirl.  Good manners - and kindness was considered part of good manners - were prized.

It was a very different time, and immersing myself in its literature has made me greatly conscious of how ungracious our own time is, when it appears that we celebrate all that is crude, crass, dark, and low-class.  I know that we've made strides in many ways since then - civil and women's rights being major steps in the right direction, but we've lost a lot, I think.

Artwork today is an angel card for a swap.  Her wings are pale blue and pink, which didn't come out in the scan; her halo has a gorgeous yellow mini-glitter, which also didn't show.  I'm working on faces....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Funday Friday!

Today in NOTL:  Glorious!  Deliciously warm, not hot, breezy, sunny...summer is outdoing itself!

Poor Jennifer Aniston.  First Bill O'Reilly lambasts her for making a movie which represents positively a family model *other* than dad/mom/kids.  How dare she?  Doesn't she know she's devaluing fathers by making a movie about a single mom?  She's making men look unnecessary.  Says O'Reilly, "Men get hosed all day long in the parental arena. The fathers that do try hard are under-appreciated and diminished by people like Jennifer Aniston."

I'm rolling on that one - seems deadbeat dads and cheating husbands and abusive husbands do a pretty good job of making men look bad without Jennifer Aniston's help.  Who doesn't know a single mom who's ex is not busy trying to lower child support or skipping it entirely?  Or a woman whose husband is cheating on her?  Or one whose husband is beating or emotionally/mentally abusing her or the kids?   Wonderful fathers, and they do exist, are hard to find, and I do not count dogmatic Bill among them since being open-minded is one quality a good dad needs.

Then, as if that isn't enough, doesn't she go and use the word 'retard' on a talk show!  Oh, horrors, she has disrespected people who are mentally challenged.  I'm sorry, but I grew up in a generation that, for better or worse, insulted each other with words like idiot and stupid and retard (though Mama forbade us to call anyone retarded).  I can understand how, on camera, under the pressure of an interview, it would be easy to slip into old patterns.  I can't fault her for making a mistake.  I don't believe for a minute that she meant any disrespect to anyone except herself.

But language is a funny thing.  Words exist, and just because they are disrespectful to someone they are suddenly anathema?  How many X-words are we going to declare?  And it appears we can't even use legitimate words that SOUND like it without offending people, as in 1999, a public servant in Washington resigned after people got upset because he used a word that *sounded* like a racial slur.  (The word was 'niggardly' which has absolutely no racial connotation at at, deriving from Middle English 'nigon' which means miser.) 

So now we have an R-word?  Will we need another word for 'retard,' which means to slow down?  Can I no longer say I feel like an idiot or did something stupid? 

Are people of colour and mentally/physically handicapped people somehow more worthy of respect than we fat women are?  I ask because I sure see and hear a lot of disrespectful fat jokes, none of which make me feel very much like laughing, but it seems to be acceptable to ridicule fat people. 

Nevertheless, people have the right to judge me, if they choose, on the basis of my appearance.  I can't force people to look beneath the surface any more than I can demand they use their intellect to its fullest extent or create art that uplifts and inspires rather than celebrates the artist's ugly attitude. 

And when people make fun of others who are fat or less mentally able or who wear glasses or speak a different language or look different, I am free to respond.  I can judge them as fools or bigots or racists or ignorant hicks.  I can speak up and point out the hurtfulness of the words they use.  I can ignore them.  I can recognize that their words reveal more about them and their background than they do about me.  I can let it go.  If I'm spiritually 'on' that day, I can even bless them to their good. 

It seems inconsistent to me that in a society in which people are free to say vile things about a duly elected president (something Dubya can't claim to be, either time), people are not free to,yes, insult each other and speak with disrespect to each other and to hold ideas that others think are just plain wrong.

Isn't that what it means to live in a free society?   

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Terrific Tuesday!

Today in NOTL:   At 12:30 p.m., we're at our high of only 82F/27C - with a glorious 50% humidity.  What a lovely day!  Puffy white clouds overhead, but no rain expected til the weekend.  THIS is what summer is supposed to be!

Another busy day!  Deb has a wedding, and I'm busy making more mini-watercolours for pendants.  They are really mini, too, with the longer side 7/8 inch and the width 9/16ths of an inch (22x15 mm)!  So far I've painted 37 of these mini-artworks, but sadly I only had 30 of the mini-frames, so the rest will have to wait till I can get more. 

I'm surprised by how much time they take.  There isn't much to them, size-wise, so I thought I'd be knocking out a dozen a day, but no.  It takes about an hour each for painting and then applying thin coatings of glaze - and that's after cutting the paper to fit neatly within the frame.  I made a template to make it faster, but I end up spending a long time trimming hair's-width snippets off the sides and then checking the fit. 

Deborah watched me trimming and checking, then trimming more and checking again, etc., and shook her head.  "Jeannie, nobody is going to notice that; they'll be looking at the painting!" I dunno, though.  I just have to get it as right as I can.  Deb says I'm a perfectionist.  I know she means 'picky' though!  LOLOL 

As I work, the tv is often on in the background.  I've been chuckling over a breakfast sausage commercial lately.  I really love the fellow who plays the Sun.  'You're *all* awesome' he says, and I just smile.  It's his manner - it just takes me right back to the days I spent teaching in an elementary school.  It's that kindergarten voice, lol. 

In other news, Deborah saw a video on youtube of a person vacuuming her dog.  She's talked about it ever since, and finally gave it a try.  Mr. Murphy wasn't toooo sure about it at first but got the idea very quickly.  He loves it!  Go figure.  Now if we could just get the cat to enjoy it - !! 

Hope your day is going wonderfully well!  Art today is...more pendants!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ahhhhh, Summertime!

Today in NOTL:  A glorious sunny day, with 11:30 a.m. temps only 75F/24C with nice low (below 70% humidity) and a sweet breeze outside.  Our high this afternoon is still in the fabulous range, only 77F/25C and that nice low humidity stays with us.  What a great day!

It was fun doing the BlogTalkRadio show this morning, but I think we're a bit punchy from late nights working.  Between Deb's bracelets and my miniature watercolour pendants, we've been busy - and we don't really want to stop.  Is creating always fun?  We're sure having fun, anyway.

I've been working on abstracts, I'll call them 'attempted abstracts,' lol.  I don't just want to splash paint around, though, so I've been working on themes.  I started with springtime and growth and worked in greens and yellows with bits of purple for spirit and pink for love...then thought about challenge and worked in deep dark blues with splashes of pale blue and vibrant red.  I'll try to upload one or two so you can see, but the blues are hard to scan.

Making the pendants has moved ATCs (artist trading cards, 2.5x3.5 artworks on heavy paper or cardstock) to the back burner a bit for me, but that took a left turn recently.  I sometimes get little bits and bobs in the mail, small gifts of artworks or pretty images to use on ATCs and so on.  I got a couple of playing cards a bit ago, and there is no way I would dream of sticking other images onto them or cutting them up to use in new ATCs - they're too cool!

Which got me started on yet another collection:  playing cards!  I've been looking all over for old playing cards with images on the reverse and have almost ten already!  The nice thing about cards is that you can fit a whole lotta decks in a suitcase - which is my criteria for collecting these days.  The last thing I need is a collection that takes up every shelf in every bookcase or curio in the house!

I'm asking for help to build my collection.  If you have unused playing cards - new, used, incomplete sets, whatever - with pictures on them, I'd love to have them!  Visit the website or email us for the mailing address!

And I hope your week is off to a great start (I have to keep reminding myself it's MONDAY - the weather is so lovely, it puts me into *such* a Friday mood that I keep forgetting!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Take a look!

Today in NOTL:  My kind of day in Niagara-on-the-Lake - not too warm, with our high of 82F/28C at just about 1 p.m. - with thunderstorms possible this aft and evening.  Heavy air, though, and feeling as though rain is imminent...mmm!

I've been going on about those pendants I've been working on.  Here are a few, to give you an idea.  They aren't finished yet, as they need a charm and cording to complete them, but you'll see what I mean.  They look really nice in the hand; the scans are so much bigger that the details that look so good on the pendant look like blobs, lol.  In reality, each pendant is about 1/2 by 1 inch in size, or juuuust about the size of the first joint of your thumb.   Hope you like them!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Later that Saturday...

So Deb and I are watching an old rerun of The Office on Peachtree TV.  Commercial comes on...some call service for elderly folks, those necklaces with a button the wearer can press if assistance is needed.  We're idly watching as I paint and Deb beads...

Some guy is talking about how lucky they were that their loved one had the necklace and service.  Something happened and she was lying on the floor for a long time or some such.  The scene shows a woman lying on the floor pressing a button on her necklace.  Voiceover:  Lying on the floor for a long time can have devastating consequences....

I look over at Deb.  I repeat, "Lying on the floor for a long time can have devastating consequences?"  Deb raises a brow at the idea.  I start to laugh.  She starts to laugh.

'Kids!  Kids!!  GET UP!  Don't you know lying on the floor can have devastating consequences?  For the love of God, SIT ON THE SOFA!"  Deb starts to laugh.  "OMG, the DOG!  Murphy!  GET UP!"  By this time we are both writhing with laughter.  'Someone get the baby!!!!  He's on the floor!  Ohhhhh noooooo!"  This last in a Mr. Bill voice.  "Poor Edna...she was too young to die...."  "Yes, but she *would* lie on the floor..."  "She knew that can have devastating consequences, but did she care?"

Dear God.  We have been working toooooo hard. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Days of Our Snides

Today in NOTL:  At just about 3:30 p.m., we're at our high of 84F/29, but will cool to a very comfortable 75F/24C this evening.

Goodness, already 3:30 and I'm just getting to the blog!  It has been that kind of day, though.  I've been very busy making tiny artworks to turn into pendants.  When I say tiny, I mean 15x22 mm or about 1/2x1 inch watercolours.  I have always wanted to try abstracts but been too afraid to go for it.  I must say, though, working this small really gives you a 'What have I got to lose?' attitude!  So I've been playing with watercolour and having a fine time.  I'll upload some when they glaze dries.

Confession:  I watch a soap opera, Days of Our Lives.  What can I say, my grandma started me on this path when I was a teeny one being babysat!  There aren't all that many characters left that Grandma would remember, but it's too late, I'm fairly hooked.

Of course, as in all soaps I imagine, there re the sterling characters and the darker ones, the 'good' people and those who are less so.  Increasingly, though, I notice how really nasty the good people are toward the others.  Snarky, rude comments seem to be ok if you're a 'good' person, which sort of seems to be the way we like to see things:  I'm nice and you aren't, so I will be nasty as can be to you and it's ok because I'm nice and you aren't.

 Is it just me, or is there something wrong with that line of reasoning? 

Sadly, though, it's not just on soap operas but in real life, too, that we see this kind of thing.  I'm Roman Catholic, but I'm liberal and favour both married and female clergy (which apparently excommunicates me as well).  Occasionally I visit RC sites...people send me links to things and then I browse the site or whatever.

I remember someone posting a link on Facebook to 'ugly' chasuables and other church vestments.  The modern, stylized ones were considered ugly in the opinion of the site owner while the old-fashioned, ornate ones were beautiful.  I like both, personally. 

Anyway, viewers were invited to comment, and I began reading.  Good grief!  Not content with ridiculing the modern garments, viewers condemned the churches who would dare welcome modern vestments into their sanctuaries.  Surely those churches must be - gasp!!! - liberal and the scourge of all that is good and holy!!!!!

Some of the photographs and catalogue photos featured female clergy and models.  OMG, anathema!  The rude terms used to describe women who dared seek ordination were just - unspeakable.  The judgment heaped on ordained women - like myself, btw, an ordained deacon - was harsh and far uglier than the ugliest vestment shown.

Such malice...from 'good Catholics' no less!  I don't know, but if you can be that malicious toward people simply because they hold a different belief from your own, are you really a 'good' Catholic or even a good Christian?

But it seems to be the way society is tending - divison, us/them and whoever the 'we' happen to be...well, 'we' are the good guys and the others don't merit our consideration, compassion, or even basic courtesy. 

I don't know, maybe I'm naive, but that doesn't seem to be a very happy way to live. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Tuesday??

Today in NOTL:  A sunny day in Niagara, with 11ish temps just abut at our high of 81F/27C though the humidity is making it feel quite muggy out.  No rain forecast, though we had some lovely rain yesterday.

Sometimes I speak of watching the birds, and people sort of roll their eyes as though they are wondering what could be more boring.  I have to chuckle myself, though, because I can't imagine how watching them could be anything but fun. 

Today it's a fresh group of newly-fledged sparrows on the lawn.  They aren't too steady when they come in for a landing, and occasionally one will misjudge the space available and end up on another's back or, as yesterday, head.  Then, oh, what a flapping of wings! 

After a very busy week, today is a play day.  I'm to do art while Deborah makes bracelets.  We'll see, as so far the phone hasn't stopped ringing. 

Art for today is a new piece, geraniums.  I'm thinking about adding a leaf to the bottom right...not sure yet. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Today in NOTL:  At 11ish a.m., it's a bit hazy and warm, with temps 79F/24C and high (for us) humidity of 84%.  Thunderstorms are possible later, as it warms up to 86F/30C, but the humidity will drop to a comfortable level later.

Y'all know I love birds.  I love pretty much all of them - cardinals, jays, mockingbirds,chickadees, the sweet sparrows - you name it, if it's a bird, I probably love it.  I won't say that crows are my favourite birds, since I can't name only one favourite, but they are right up there.

So I was really excited to see a young blackbird visit the front lawn feeder last week.  What a beauty he is!  (I'm calling it 'he' since ... well, he acts like a 'he'!)  I was wondering whether he was a raven since I see him alone, but no: his call is that of a crow and not a raven. 

This morning I got up-close and personal with him, as he sat on the little veranda railing and gave my windows a thorough examination.  He flew away all too soon, but I'm wondering what will happen if I tie a loop of sparkly ribbon onto the railing.  Think he'll come to investigate?  I'll let you know! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today in NOTL:  Muggy City today, with noonish temps at 84F/29C, rising to 86F/30C with fair humidity (75-80% range).  Thunderstorms on the way, I gather, this evening through tomorrow.  Yay!

Wow is all I have to say...  One of our friends came over yesterday for hypnosis -I love doing hypnosis and I'm good at it, if I say so as shouldn't ;) - and she said she was bringing Deb some costume jewellery she doesn't wear.  Sounded like fun, eh?

OMG.  I was thinking plastic or maybe glass beads, yay, to help with the jewellery making, but no.  Freshwater pearl strands and *hyperventillating*  Swarovski crystal bracelets, one of which is a gorgeous match for my 30" necklace of pear-shaped AB Swarovski beads.

I about fell off my chair.  "You can have them, Jean, or if you don't care for them, Deb can cut them up for bracelets..." said our dear friend.  "..don't care for them"???  I nearly had to do Lamaze breathing just to control myself! 

We've been on a quest to get old jewellery lately for Deb - and sometimes Jean! - to use in making bracelets and other jewellery (keep coming back for pics soon to be uploaded!), but this was no junk!  We love to get broken strands of things, out-of-fashion necklaces, old charm bracelets or charms and such...but Swarovski?!  Who could cut a gorgeous Swarovski bracelet?  Oh, no...this baby has come HOME! ;)

So I'm styling as I wrist sparkling as though it was wrapped in rainbows...  Thank you, Debbie!  You so totally rock it isn't even funny!  Mwah!

Update on Deb's computer which has made it tough for us lately re: Blogtalkradio.  Thanks to Deb's birthday coming and a gift from friend Jocy, she is having a rebuilt computer ready for pickup Friday!  Mwah to Jocy, too! ;)

Artwork today is from our Bright Spirit Etsy shop. 

Here's hoping that, regardless of the weather outside, you're having only sunny days! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yeah, yeah, it's Tuesday...

Today in Notl:   Overcast and hot today, with 10 a.m. temps at 79F/26C and humidity around 80%.  Muggy!  It'll warm up to 86F/30C, with continuing humidity - shades of a sauna!

Goodness, it was a busy weekend, and it didn't stop yesterday either.  It was a bit of a time crunch in the morning, with Deb rushing back from a meeting to do the morning Blogtalkradio show at 11.  She made it, just in the nick of time - I had signed in and was listening to the automatic produer counting the seconds to live while she was turning on her laptop and getting settled in her chair!  An aerobic moment, but it worked out well.  Our topic was personalities and types, and Deb is an expert on that, so it would be hard to get her flustered to the point that she couldn't discuss the MyersBriggs Personality Inventory types.

I'm a J on the MBPI, which stands for judging.  In MBPI, 'judging' means choosing and deciding, rather than being judgmental toward others.  J-types like to have things organized, like planning thing and following the plan, etc.  J-types use maps when traveling, for example, instead of 'finding their way.'  J-types like to be early for appointments and consider agreed-upon times and plans as rather inviolate.

I'm a J-type who is a bit technology-phobic.  I'm not actually afraid of technology, but I don't esp like it and am not comfortable with programs (like Blogtalkradio) with which I'm not really familiar. 

So yesterday morning was extremely aerobic for me and I think I'm just starting to relax now!!!  Whew, that was close.   I think I'll look at my relaxing scene and chant for a while!