Sunday, April 26, 2009

Restful Sunday!

I have new neighbors. They've been too busy driving trucks and cars all over their lawn, packed with boxes, for me to lean over the fence and say hello. Their first impression of me is probably: lazy. Argh!

I had such a to-do list for this weekend. The only thing I got done was to read two excellent books (MINE!!! and Liz Jasper's Underdead in Denial) and cement in my new archway. (See "before" pic above.) Oh, and I bought some stuff for the yard, including a shed (to be delivered Wednesday), cement, and a bunch of plants that I shouldn't have, but will look so good!

Bran and Obi (L to R) supervised my cement-mixing. They're strict task masters.

The back yard still needs a little work.

The shed will go in over to your far, far left, the patio in front of the pergola maybe next year, the waterfall and filters will go into the pond (just beyond the dogwood) sometime maybe late June, the lawn will go in before the middle of June, the huge pile of debris (back there beyond the miniature grape arbor) will be burned when I darned well feel like burning (and when the wind cooperates).

Etc. Etc. And oh yeah, about that mountain of mulch... (Note circus-tied tree in background.) Did I mention that there was a baby mound in the backyard that's been sitting there for a year?

I need a husband.

Any help others could provide in that department would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Phew! Vacation's almost over!

No, really, I am planning on taking a real, relax-and-don't-think-about-work vacation later in the year. Maybe.

But this week's been busy, busy, busy, to the point where the guys working fixing up the house next door must be wondering why I'm wandering around my yard like Frankenstein, groaning and moaning. I'm sore! But the yard's looking three million times better than it did, though it's still got a loooong way to go.

Took the new cordless electric mower out for its first run this morning. The noise level is about half that of my dishwasher, but then again my dishwasher is pretty noisy. The mower's heavy as heck, which makes lugging it up and down the house steps (it must be on constant charge during the growing season) (guess I'll be buying that shed a year early so I can keep it there and run an extension cord from it to my outside outlet), but otherwise seems quite nice. Glad I bought it. It makes me feel superior.

While I was buying edging at the home improvement center (Home Depot's cost $3 less than Lowe's for 20 feet), I also took away a mountain of 2/99¢ daffodils, which may be on their last legs right now but will look spectacular next year. Got them all planted, along with the 99¢ hyacinths. Don't have the day lilies planted yet (Tuesday) and the hydrangeas haven't arrived yet (but I have their locations marked), but we're on our way.

Was able to pay some attention to ye kitties as well, though they do like to sleep.

Sometimes Obi gets a little tired of Bran bothering him. Bran's got a lot more energy than Obi (he's two years younger), but Obi has his subtle ways...

Got a lot of work done on ye wip, contacted Cerridwen YET AGAIN asking what kind of PR they're doing (no answer yet) (they have the worst email! I always have to send multiple times to them! How odd, considering that they're e-pubs). Sent "Star-Crossed" to them and it only took two tries before they said they got it. Will hear back within 4 months about if they want it or not. Don't really feel like complaining because THEY SENT ME A COPY OF MY BOOK!! Of course it was .pdf format and such -- they sent about five different versions -- but there it is! It's real! It's real! (And it comes out for the rest of you on the 7th.) I was so excited I ordered a Kindle so I could take it to work and show everyone.

And if that wasn't enough excitement, the week ended... Well, if you don't count today... with the annual Raleigh Plein Air Paint Out. I'd scouted the area we were painting six weeks ago but when I showed up Saturday morning the light was all wrong, so I cruised and cruised and painters were camped out at the more interesting spots (Boylan Heights is full of Victorian houses, which I think are interesting), but I finally found a couple of houses that seemed like they'd make a good composition.

Didn't catch exactly the composition I wanted, but I figured: good enough. Funny thing: the white house is some kind of Christian fellowship something, and the first guy who came out of it to look around at the morning, let out a great curse involving God. How appropriate!

Anyway, I painted as fast as I could. Panic sets in quickly with plein air, and it's not just because the light changes so much every ten minutes. This was my first time painting outside with acrylics, which wanted to dry out as soon as I gooshed them out of their tubes, and instead of my usual 8x10 canvas, I tried a 16 x 20 with finished sides. Made the mistake of NOT bringing my "good" white, the one that's opaque. Instead I'd brought a bottle of Gesso, the cheap alternative. My opaque whites are all in gigantor jars, and I didn't want to lug them around. I had to fake it by doing layer after layer of transparent white until it started covering up stuff like it was supposed to.

I worked on the left side of the painting -- probably because guys kept going in and out of the white house and I didn't want them to think I was staring or anything, especially since they were doing their best to ignore me -- for far too long. Finally I got to the right side and one of the many folks, artists and residents, who kept strolling up to check my progress informed me that it was 2:00. I'd started at 9:30. I was hungry. I figured one more hour's work after lunch would finish the painting and so packed up (you do NOT leave your stuff laying around for people to take!) and took off to find the tavern that Local Color Gallery had recommended us all to eat at. There were supposedly other artists set up there finishing their paintings as well.

No parking. None. Every place was filled. The tavern patio had zero shade. I didn't feel like getting sunburn on my eyeballs.

So I found a grill with fair hamburgers (Weight Watchers was off for the day!) and excellent fries, as well as a gigantic, lovely iced tea (I'm very particular about my ice tea) that kept me awake until midnight, and then went back to the neighborhood to try to find a shady piece of sidewalk that wasn't taken by an artist or in an artist's sight lines to finish.

Meh. I'd even had a nightmare the previous night about this event and had finally decided that I wouldn't approach this as (a) a competition and (b) some kind of punishment that I inflict upon myself to make myself miserable. Instead I'd (a) appreciate the gorgeous day, lovely weather, hardly any wind, beautiful neighborhood, and (b) celebrate the joy of painting. Okay, so I got a little angsty in there, but all in all, well... I learned a bit more in completing this painting. People who came up to talk were very nice. Who knows? Someone might actually want to buy it while it hangs in a gallery for the next month (maybe plus, if it's chosen to be in an extended exhibit somewhere else in Raleigh, I forget). If not, I can fix this thing so it'll look good.

That bush/tree in the foreground -- it was a really peculiar color, or rather, combination of colors, but I NAILED that sucker. Until the value pattern didn't look right. Which it tends to do as the light completely changes as the day goes by. So I'm anxious to correct that, as well as the red and spring-green growth on the background line of bushes. And of course there's all the architectural details that need to be straightened up. (One of the other artists who was working near my car chose to paint a flat orange wall with some vines growing on it. When she came down to my area to check my stuff out, she said, "Architecture. Man, you're brave!")

As I was packing everything up to return to the gallery and turn my entry in, I discovered a section of side that hadn't been painted. Whoops! So I still had some white left that was wet, some red, and even a teeny tiny dab of yellow. I stuck my thumb in them all, mooshed them together, thought, "good enough," and filled in the area without dirtying a brush. Whew!

So: busy week. Sore back and ankles. Mountain of mulch in drive. Book in progress: in progress in a new program and better organized than it was. Book at publisher: definitely coming out. Didn't get through that Netflix movie that I've had for six weeks, but did discover that it was defective and so have asked for a replacement. Read some excellent books and one yuck one. Cats okay.

All is well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Hummingbird sighting!!! Already???

Tax man hasn't called me yet to tell me to come over to sign everything. When I visit him today I'll be sure to pick up some hummingbird food. I mean, this hummer was hovering over the hummingbird feeder that I never got around to taking down last fall.

Catching up! Catching up!!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Taking a week off from "work." The paying kind, that is.

Sometimes when your life gets too chaotic you've got to devote some time to it in order to lay out foundations and organize.

What, organize my house? Later, man. LATER.

This week I'm dealing with the yard. Spring has sprung and I just couldn't stand the condition the yard was in. Oh, it's lightyears better than last year, which was mega-lightyears better than the year before. But it's time it got to the point so other people can look at it and say, "I see what you're trying to do here," if not "Pretty!" It'd be nice if I could sit outside for a few moments and relax in its peace without being bothered by all the work to be done.

So I've had guys moving trees (one of which fell in the first wind we had. It has since been trussed up like a circus tent). Guys painting the porches and pergola (the one I put in last fall). Guys fixing the roof where it suddenly developed a serious leak last Friday.

I've started on the piles of topsoil that have been sitting out there for a year now and have worn away to great clumps of clay. They will soon be a fine lawn, filling in the spots where backhoes have scraped away all the good dirt over the years. I will mow that lawn with my new cordless electric mower.

Inside, I've been mostly working on ye wip, using a FAB new program called "Scrivener." There's a PC sorta-version of it out there as well. It lets one split up the work into individual scenes while keeping them linked for print purposes. You can also key-word the scenes as to what's happening, who's in them, etc. It's all very organized, which is exactly what my wip was missing!

Why, it even inspired me to create a chart of various plot elements!

Later in the week I want to go out and paint. Not only are the azaleas and dogwoods coming out but the annual Raleigh Plein Air Paint-Out is this Saturday, and since I'm switching mediums to acrylic this year, I need to practice so I'm sure I have all required equipment at hand. Paint-Out starts at 9 AM but Jerry's Art-a-Rama across town doesn't open until 10, so they won't be visited until it's time for me to buy a frame for the finished picture (assuming I don't have a properly-sized frame already).

Oh-- speaking of dogwoods, we had a vendor come by last week who'd never heard of them. He's from Chicago. He treated some of us to a veddy veddy expensive new Italian place in downtown Hillsborough (Panciuto. ) and my oh my, it was one of the top five dinners I've ever had in my life! Worth every penny. Well, except the tea. Who serves ice tea in a tiny glass in which the slice of lemon takes up more space than the tea? Everything else was yummy to the max.

So I'm sitting here and working on this instead of everything else on my to-do list or in preparing for the release of Ye Book, which is some three weeks from now. At least my accountant finally called me that my stuff is almost done. That means I won't have to file for an extension! I was beginning to worry...

But it's all nothing that a wad o' money can't take care of. Isn't money grand to have? Tax time is wonderful for money because my stock stuff comes in in two checks that I have a tendency to go through rather quickly. But with everything underway I can just sit here, procrastinate, and wonder if that allergic reaction I'm having to the meds I'm taking for [insert slightly embarrassing medical sitch here] is ever going to go away. (Along with said medical sitch.)

Must. Get back. To. Work. Or is it lunchtime yet?