Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dreamers to Doers!!! Terry Needs your vote

Hello Bloggedy Buddies -- this is from the land of Martha Stewart who is running a contest of some pretty terrific business women who are making their dreams come true. Some of these spectacular women are building their business for themselves, by themselves, which is no small thing. But one special contestant is building her design business while she significantly helps women in shelters feel... well, more homey, less needy

Terry Grahl designs and decorates women's shelters. Imagine being in a situation where you have no place to go... or rather the only place to go is cold and gray and scary, furnished entirely with castoffs and leftovers. You've gone from a bad situation to a bleak one -- a further burden standing between you and normal life.

Enter Terry Grahl who designs cheerful and charming rooms and public areas via her non-profit business, Enchanted Makeovers. Terry transforms women's shelters into places of peace and possibilities. Her rooms are designed to lift the spirit and to help a woman feel whole and valued, less like a second class castoff herself. What could be better than that?

If you believe in the work Terry is providing, follow this link and vote for this wonderful woman:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where in the World has Jenny Been?

Hello, hello Blog Buddies -- I do apologize for disappearing for a while. It's been a kind of crazy summer. I did not disappear for any real good reason other than I had nothing much to say.

Well, it has been busy-ish, sort of. Early in the summer my son and his wife bought a dear little house. This took what felt like forever to close and then another big chunk of forever for them to paint, pack and move. It's a very dear house... with a darling yard... in which reside the most vicious chiggers! I offered up a spreader and the meanest chigger killer I know -- you haven't lived till all your public and private parts have been bitten up by chiggers. Eek! You will thank me for not documenting that bit of news on my wee blog.

At some time over the summer we started the Great Porch Project. If you recall I took the porch down last spring -- not this past spring but rather spring of 2008! It's been a tragedy of architects. The project is frankly too small to be bothered with, although a flurry of architects and plan drawers promised to squeeze it in on the side. They never did. One after another promised, though none delivered till finally I tracked down a woman architect who kept her word. Her drawings passed the building permit process. Hooray. So now I have a building permit. We have dug and poured the footers, which passed inspection. The framing for the floor is now complete and is awaiting inspection. This has been such a slow laborious, frustrating process that I'd just as soon not blog about it.

Other little odd things have included finding a cousin who has been missing for most of 40 years. We were very very close as children and then... life happened. I saw him once for a few minutes, at a family funeral some 15 years ago. And then poof, gone again. It was wonderful finding him again, finding him safe and sound and living very nearby. This would have been an eventful blog post... if not for the tangle of emotions that come with it. People don't make themselves scarce for no reason...

Here's another not so fun tidbit -- I've been sidling up to a diet, unsuccessfully for several months. Do you know how Oprah announces that we should not spend another summer fat. Well I did and I am not real happy about it. In fact today I feel very fat. Harrumph.

There are projects going on, but nothing ready to show. The beginning stages, fiddling with designs and colors, even deciding which projects are going to stay and which will never see the light of day... hardly worth a blog post.

So, I have been sort of busy, I have been at wit's end and largely witless. I didn't mean to slip away... I just didn't have anything much to say. I'm hoping all of you have had a much more fascinating and productive summer than I have... this can not have been hard.

I am here now, waving happily and cheerfully to all of you. Now that autumn is upon us... I'm hoping that a change of season will bring about a change of attitude and momentum. A girl can dream.

There we are, Dear Blog Buddies -- I am back.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back from another Polo Weekend

I Love polo. I have been around polo for all of my adult life. It was entirely by accident. I grew up on a small farm. Surrounded by big farms. One of the big farms included a polo field and a family who was very involved in polo. Their youngest daughter is my age -- I've known her since before kindergarten. This is how I came to polo. Polo involves a lot of work, a lot of hands. Mowing the field, taking gate fees, hiring goalies, finding grooms, finding an announcer, preparing food for the refreshment stand, preparing food for the after game picnic. One does not even have to see a polo game to be thoroughly wiped out with the work required so other people can see the game. But if you actually do get to see the game it is very exciting -- like football and golf... on horseback.

It is loads of fun. You meet the nicest people. There is lots of food and an endless stream of interesting drinks.

This adorable Castle Cake is for a very lucky Princess whose 1st birthday happened to fall on game day. I'm guessing that someday, if she asks very nicely, she will get her very own pony. And why not?

As often happens polo games center on some charity or another.

This particular game supported an Indianapolis program called HELPING HER HEAL. It is a very cool charity that supplies the needs of women who are undergoing cancer treatment. (I say women because this program focuses on women's cancers -- breast cancer, ovarian, cervical -- women's cancers.) And what needs are provided, you ask. Any need. If the a woman needs her electric bill paid, Done. If a woman needs school clothes for her child, Done. If a woman needs transportation to her treatment, Done. Is that the right kind of charity, or what? Over the last several years polo teams have diminished somewhat -- once upon a time there were more than 300 teams nationwide. Cincinnati, where I live, used to play Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Darlington and Sewickly. Of these the only Team I know remaining is in Indianpolis. So every year my boyfriend is asked by the people who own the Indianapolis team to come announce their two biggest charity games. By association I get to come too. Lucky me. He announces and I schmooze, even though he is a much better schmoozer than I am.

So there we are, at the polo game again this weekend -- I hope they raised a whole bunch of money for a really worthwhile charity. I know there were a bunch of people who certainly had a terrific time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gift

Have you seen this book? THE GIFT OF A YEAR. It's lovely. It's a book club selection of an on- line women's business group I belong to. I never would have thought of this on my own. The Gift of a Year... to me... Oh My Goodness, just like you, I have so many things to do for so many other people each and every day, how could I possibly give myself a year?

Um, but wait... how could I not? Whose life is this? And how much time are we talkin' here? Every waking moment of every single day devoted entirely to me. (All me -- all the time?Frankly I am not that interesting. By the middle of the second day after a very long nap I would be bored smack out of my mind.)

But all me in small doses... I think I like that. According to the book everybody's gift to themselves is as individual as they are. One woman gives herself a year to redecorate her house. Another one admits she's sick to pieces of where she lives, where she works and who she's involved with and that this year she plans to remedy all of that. One woman simply wants a year of naps and catching up on reading -- essentially to slow the crazy-making pace she's been on.

And me? What do I want from a year?

I want to take care of myself. It isn't just about dieting, getting skinny or looking good in cute clothes, although that would be great. But what I want, down to the core, is to energize my body in ways that will result in my body energizing me.

I've hired a trainer, I've restocked my pantry and my fridge. I work out. I plan my meals. I think about what I'm doing. Wine, yes. Buttered popcorn, no. I need every brain cell and every muscle I've got left. I'm not interested in getting older and grayer and slower. What I want to do is get older and busier and to go go go in ways I could not when I was younger, child-encumbered, work-buried.

Did it ever occur to you to give yourself the gift of a year? What would you give you? Foreign language? Foreign travel, belly dancing classes? A great yard? I might give myself some of that too -- but I am thinking, first things first -- who knows what getting in shape might lead to. And by way of a small me, this could be the start of something big.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just for Giggles

You know it's a good day when it starts with a bucket on your head...

And if life doesn't hand you enough obstacles, make your own.

I'm just sayin'... it's a choice... cry over spilled milk or party like it's 1993.

So, Yo Dude, rock on

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grace Loses Her Hens

I haven't any photos for this one -- only that link to our local paper -- The Cincinnati Enquirer -- which ran a story regarding Grace Harpen being forced by her township to get rid of her three backyard hens.

Please check it out -- this is so unfair, and frankly just plain crazy. People can keep potbelly pigs, pythons and dangerous dogs... but a hen is a nusance! I am outraged. It isn't that Grace lives in the center of Manhattan -- she lives in an ordinary neighborhood of ordinary houses. There are no sidewalks. The neighborhood is neither grand nor pitiful. And yet the township considers hens to be "livestock" (though not pot belly pigs) and there is an ordinace against livestock.

I am not sure how, but I'd oh-so-much like to help change this ordinace -- whether at the township level or at the state level. If anyone has any ideas, please share. I'm not yet ready to organize a letter-writing campaigne, but at some point I may beg for letter-writers.

Please read Grace's story. I've known her since we were 12 -- she's my oldest friend in the whole world and the the most inoffensive person I've ever met.

Thank you so much Blog Neighbors -- if you have any ideas, spill them.

I was at the pet store, see...

I am tickled and delighted to announce the newest member of our family -- Little Miss No Name!!

The acquisition of this dear little baby girl is entirely a blog phenomenon... Some weeks back I was showing off my new and improved dining room, with the pretty plaid drapes and the inspired china rack designed by me... where tucked in the back corner was an old fashioned bird cage, a decorative thing, an after-thought really. But someone (Dori) asked if anyone lived there.

Live there? A bird? Me, a bird keeper? I am planning to get chickens (the rule is I can not get chickens till after I get the blessed front porch restored... if it were up to me I'd have the hens, a hen house, a hen run and phooey on the porch, so i have to put in place rules designed to keep me in line.) But I'd never really thought about a bird. Not the way I'd once thought about a kitten. When I got my first indoor cat some thirty years ago I was 6,000 miles from home, pregnant and if I didn't get something in my arms to mother soon I liketa died! I desperately wanted that kitten. I sought her out, carried her home, named her Gillian and she was my right-hand man, er, cat, for 18 years. But a bird? I'd never really thought about... not till someone (Dori) merely queried if someone lived in that bird cage.

My Boyfriend wondered the same thing... was I ever going to get a bird for that cage? Silly Boyfriend doesn't know the difference between someone wanting a bird and someone wanting a bird cage. He understood the former... but the latter blew his little male mind.

But then we went to the pet shop to get water conditioner for the pond... and as long as the parakeets are right there, we could at least look... Oh my heavens. That is always my swan song... just a peek.

So now I have this dear wee bird who has no name. I have a little list going... but I'm really kind of stuck. Wee Birdy needs a name -- so would you be so kind as to make suggestions and help me name this little nameless bird?

(Isn't this better than a dead fish story? Yes, a live bird trumps dead fish every time.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Of course it had to come to this -- spring cleaning of the pond. Personally I am a little ho-hum about real spring cleaning. Frankly I don't have a week to dismantle my house. sort through all the linens, repair tattered edges, discard everything that's beyond repair, beat rugs, scrub ceilings -- good grief, does anybody do any of this any more? In my own house I give everything a good vaccum, spray all the corners with Renuzit and call it a day.

But the one thing that could not be neglected, ignored, overlooked or dispensed with was the pond. After a long winter of battling leaves and algae and other icky stuff, my fishies were much in need of fresh and clean digs. Despite their protests to the contrary I am only guessing that they do not really love that dirty water. I certainly could not stand to look at it another minute.

Not to be too hasty, before I could empty out and clean the pond, what I needed to do first was move the fishies to temporary quarters. Let's see, with all the new babies there are roughly 30 fish in all... these storage tubs filled with their own familiar brackish water would fill the bill.

And then to catch the fishies... you'd be surprised how unwilling these fishies were to be caught. Despite the sludge and mess in their home, despite the promise of better things to come, they were really very happy where they, thank you very much.

Just to catch fishies and empty the pond ended up being an all-day event.

Here I've taped the pump hose to the garden hose so's the water could be drained down the driveway and not flood my yard -- it's a good thing.

By the time the fishies were caught and the water was drained the sun was setting oh-so-low in the sky. Boy were my muscles aching. Catching fish is brutal, bending, swishing, missing, bending swishing, catching, carry to the holding tank, back to bending. And a couple of these guys held out till the very bitter end.

The plan for the next day, Sunday, was to remove the liner, scrub it of all traces of algae, replace it into the pond, shore up in sagging spots, fill it again and return all thirty or so fishies to the fresh clean home. The Boyfriend had agreed to help and there is nothing more fun than working with him -- he makes great suggestions and he makes me laugh -- how good a day is that?

Imagine the horror the next morning when I went outside in my jammies to check onmy fishies to find some 7 fishies, including my very biggest fantail, lying dead on the pavement around the temporary tank. OMG, had they leapt to their doom. Was the trauma too much? Had they hoped to leap back home? I hadn't thought to screen it in any way. I was worried about oxygen getting in, not fishies leaping out.

Oh, but wait! The big fantail blinked. Was that a blink? Was it possible she was still alive? I picked her up and slipped her back into the tank. Holy Smokes and blesssed be -- she was still alive.

The rest of the day was a worry and a concern. I was too upset to even think about taking more photos. The Boyfriend helped me remove the liner. We dragged it out to my driveway, scrubbed off all the algae, without slipping on our fannies even once. The low sagging spots around the back perimeter of the pond edging were shored up and the liner was replaced. Whilst the hose pumped fresh water into the pond I made us a nice lunch and we watched Bullwinkle. How nice a day is that.

To replace the fishies from the holding tank back into the big clean pond I needed to dechlorinate with water conditioner and I needed to float the fishies in plastic bags, so the temperature change would gradually acclimate and the fishies would suffer less trauma. So little by little I caught the fishies in the holding tank and shifted them into big plastic bags to float in the fresh pond.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the last of the fishies and hadn't yet transferred my two very biggest -- a very large bronze fish and a very large calico. How does one loose 7 inch fish?

And then the whole picture of my fishies that morning having leapt to their doom came clearer. They'd been invaded... something snatched them. A cat or a raccoon had gone fishing and hit the jackpot.

I am trying to not be too devastated... but I feel I failed to protect them. I hadn't guessed there might be danger. What I am grateful for is that whatever marrauder snatched up the bigger fish and laid waste to the half dozen others didn't entirely knock over the hold tank and kill them all.

There are now 26 fishies, all the more wary and wiser for it, swimming in the fresh clean pond.

Whew! The ugly part is done!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Difference a Door Makes!!!

The question isn't whether I have Too. Much. Stuff! The fact of it is I have a very tiny house and no place to put the stuff I have -- which makes me wonder why I bother ever to buy anything new.

See... clutter gone wild!

I built this cabinet, heretofore referred to as the Mother Of All Cabinets (MOAC), because all that stuff you see living in it now had previously no place to live at all. There are cleaning supplies on the right and office supplies on the left. If it weren't here it would be... everywhere. Piled, stacked, shoved into corners, spilling out of drawers. The upper left houses excess baking pans (like I bake!!! ROFLMAO!!) The center is Command Central -- TV- computer-printer. What more could a person need? Not to see it all hanging out all the time would be nice.

Even with the MOAC built and in place and filled there is clutter spilling out everywhere. Aaaaaaaaagggghhhh. There I am, still in a complete shambles all of the time. I am not built for this kind of mayhem. At this stage of the game, and I am loathe to admit this, who I am is a "place for everything and everything in it's place" kind of girl. There, I've said it. My name is Jenny and I like, no, I require, an organized life.

When I moved into this house there were exactly two closets. Neither one of them in the master bedroom. One was a coat closet in the dining room -- an afterthought of a thing wedged into a corner built for the primary purpose of hiding a radiator pipe. The other "closet" was tucked under the eaves of a second bedroom. It is what normal people in normal houses would call a cubby hole.

Before moving into this house I never before thought about stuff, excess or otherwise. If I needed a new pair of pants I simply went out and bought them. I didn't stand in the store and wonder what on earth I would do with them once I got them home. But in this house, everything has to be thought out. Printer paper? Ammonia? Dog leashes? Where, oh where, am I going to put it?

And there I was with this big expanse of wall... standing there doing nothing. Eight feet of blank space...

Building the cabinets themselves was not particularly tricky. Any four-year-old understands the concept of a box, which is what every cabinet is. Other than the lumber being very unwieldy -- a concept not at all understood by the people at the lumberyard who sell it to you. "Little lady, wouldn't you really rather have 3/4" ply?" Well, yes, the Little Lady would but the Little Lady can't freakin' lift it, so we'll just muddle along with 1/2", thank you very much.

The tricky part was the doors. But they are the most essential part too. I don't have the right tools -- or the wherewithall -- to build doors. Oh, thank heaven for brothers. My brother has not only the right tools, but the know-how. Hooray! Hooray for brothers. Hooray for doors.

There. Isn't that better? All nice and tidy and tucked away. A person can walk through the room without being assaulted by a barrage of stuff.

Clearly I am still deciding on color.... Black? White? Medium glazed amber beige? I will think about color tomorrow. Today I will open my little TV/computer cabinet and simply breathe, calmly, in and out. Ahhhhh.

Doors. Don't you just love them?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Support Your Local PBS Station!!!

I've been watching PBS forever -- haven't you? I know, I know, some folks think this is strictly a high brow thing to do, like yachting or joining the Junior League. Well, maybe other folks don't watch PBS the way I do. I started watching PBS when it featured the indomitable Julia Child -- and not because she made a first rate coq au vin. I watched her because I was nine years old and she talked funny. I had a secret private my very own TV and I was the only one in the house who could get the "UHF" stations and so I watched. I watched Julia and Big Bird. I watched Alistair Cooke and there was nothing high brow about it.

PBS took me to China and Alaska, it explained things the president said and it brought me Kukla, Fran and Ollie. I LOVED Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

And so I do this tiny little thing of donating to their Action Auction. The thing I have in abundance are doggie accoutrements -- a bed, a carry-bag, a water bowl, a collar and leash. This year the bed is paisley. Pink. And green. Last year it was red plaid.

Isn't the bed cute?

It's even cuter with Talia in it... but I draw the line at donating Talia. She's mine all mine.

See, the stuff I watch on PBS isn't high brow at all. In fact, I watch a lot of dumb stuff -- bad mysteries, old movies, woodworkers, seamstresses, painters. I once spent an entire rainy Saturday watching ANNE OF GREEN GABLES from beginning to end. The wonderful thing about donating to our local PBS is that when I am watching my favorites (or parking my grandson in front of Big Bird exactly the way I once parked his father, my son, in front of Big Bird) I don't feel one bit guilty the way I would if I didn't offer up so much as one thin dime.

Talia likes donating to PBS too -- she'll gladly trade in this bed and settle instead for a place on my bed. It's big of her.

So what's your favorite can't miss PBS show?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bloom Where You're Planted

Surely, I am delighted to have laid not one, not two, but three lengths of fabric cloth in the Children's Garden. That's 150 feet of garden fabric stretched, overlapped, pegged and trimmed. This is the garden fabric so carefully fitted so's errant plants and weeds don't come bursting through...

And yet, how to complain about Daffodils... I should be thanking my lucky stars that they were determined enough to bother.
And these little daffodils popped unexpectedly in the lilly bed

My guess is this is the work of an industrious squirrel who must be thinking this compost bin is sort of an outdoor pantry.

However they got here, wherever they grew, I've gathered daffies from all over my yard for a beautiful indoor bouquet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sick, Sick, Sick!

I can't tell you how much fun this has been...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Endless Entertainment

I could watch this for hours - the cat grabs the dog and the dog grabs the cat and the cat grabs the dog, on and on it goes, round and round, day after day. Are they fighting? Are they dancing? Who's to say... all that's for sure is that I am the cheapest of cheap dates. I could watch Bailey and the Beloved Talia square off and spar endlessly.

I'm not sure precisely when this started... but it started with a whole different cat. It started with Maggie who was black and white and practically perfect in every way. My current two cats have issues, as do many cats... with a capital I. But Maggie was a text book perfect cat. Charming pleasant, didn't tear up mail, pee on carpets (or shoes or the stove -- I once knew a woman whose cat regularly peed on her stove!!!!) Maggie was perfect. And she played a perfect little game of "Poke" with Talia. With her nose Talia would poke Maggie before hurriedly darting backward before Maggie could liesurely grab her. Then Talia would dart in for another quick nose poke to which Maggie would calmly stretch and reach out for another grab. It was a sweet game - kind of quiet and charming, like watching two little kids taking turns to play jacks.

Suddenly one weekend Maggie sickened. She was gone before we knew it. Our Practically Perfect Maggie. We missed her terribly -- none of us missed her more so than Talia. For weeks Talia had that lost look, a little sad, a little confused. But I give Talia huge credit for her attempts to rally. She first tried to play the game with Molly. I should say that Molly is 16... you can only guess how little Molly was up for a game of Poke!

Talia then tried Poke with Bailey... who was NOT amused. "Poke me, will you?" Bailey hissed. Talia's face was priceless. She had offered her greatest gift -- the invitation to play Poke and the snotty haughty Bailey had the nerve to hiss! Harrumph!

But maybe hissing wasn't so bad. It wasn't the way Maggie had played the game... maybe Talia could teach Bailey the rules. Maybe they could take the game of Poke and make it their own. Maybe.

Poke has evolved into a game of Grab-n-Snatch. It is not a quiet little parlor game. It's a tumble-bumble raucus good time. Talia pounces on Bailey, Bailey pounces back. It is anybody's game. There's an object lesson in here about resiliencey and evolution and blah, blah, blah... but mostly it's about the little white dog and the big black cat making splendid good fun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Big Reveal!

For most of us we are never truly DONE with home decor -- we're forever adding, a plate here, a throw there... or taking away, the vase that doesn't work, the print that misses it's mark. So I can't say I am done.... but what I was shooting for is "livable". (My secret dream was for my rooms to feel like a jewel box. From the sub-standard, less than humble beginnings, what I had were HIGH HOPES!)

That was then:

This is now:

Notice the picture on the wall above the pitiful blue chair never changed.

It started with removing this wretched radiator! My problem with the radiator is that it extends beyond the window (read drapes) by several inches. My second problem with the radiator is that even an attractive cover would have resulted in a large "dead zone" in an already small room. Clearly the radiator HAD to go.
Here's the radiator:

Here it's gone:

Here's the result:

Finally, this shot of my living room, is from the space between those dark cabinets (where the radiator used to be) looking squarely across the room.

The dining room was another "Project". Initially when I moved into this house I did not want a "Full Time Dining Room". Thinking that we use a dining room twice a year and I use a work room on a daily basis, what I wanted was a Full Time Work Room and a Part-Time Dining Room. But it did not work out...

It wasn't a bad idea... the problem was that I did not take this room seriously. I didn't really "decorate" it. I kept the ratty old carpet, I did nothing to disguise or gussy up the lower cabinets. I did not consciously worry about storage or edit my projects and materials. The room quickly grew into an Unmanageable Monster Mess.

So I took it apart -- moved the work room upstairs...

And reclaimed the dining room...

It has been a very long process -- it started with having the radiator removed and baseboard radiators to replace them. Then there was installing the carpet. Both were projects I hired outside contractors to do. Everything else was all me. From painting the walls to dyeing fabric for the drapes, sewing the drapes, upholstering the furniture... oh, I did have my boyfriend build the china rack. I even learned to matt my art -- not because I am such a stickler for details... though maybe I am, but because of "creative differences" with the frame girl at Michael's (let's not go there).

One of the cabinets in the living room had to be, shall we say, rescued. It feels like a baby's bottom now, and I've turned it into a first rate liquor cabinet with a wine fridge and all, but when I first suggested bringing it in the house the looks I received were shock and horror.

It's been a lot of work and there are still things to do... but we've gone from a frightful chaotic mess to pretty and presentable.

And during the process there were birthdays and holidays. I did the kitchen too. And the occassional time off for good behavior or to prevent bad behavior. So I hope you can understand why there were weeks, even months, when I was silent here... there just wasn't much to report... there were often things I'd rather not mention... But finally, finally, I have what feels like a home. Ahhhh.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Looky!!! It's done, it's DONE, it's DONE!!!! Lest you think I've been lounging about popping bon-bons... shall I say, I've been indispoed. I could not be happier or more thrilled!!!! My beautiful, wonderful, spectacular chair is DONE!

Remember where it started!?! This is my shame, my embarrassment -- worse even than the Heartbreak of Psoriasis!!. This chair was loved. A LOT.

The Naked Truth.

It looks way better with Talia in it, don't you think?

Best to rip it up and renew it's dignity. I like this part -- it's satisfying and already the ugly chair looks better.

This part, though, I especially HATE. This is the cushion getting it's piping. Of all the things I sew, and I've sewn everything including dog collars and leashes, velvet capes, a Batman suit, pillows, drapes, dust ruffles, duvets -- all the usual suspects, prom dresses, baby clothes, hands down a seat cushion is the absolute most hateful hardest. All those fiddly corners, fitting the final ending of the piping... or maybe I am just a whiner.

But Tah-Da!!! Let's look at it again!!! Ain't it purty!?!