Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not So Neetzy's Cleaning Kwerks

Poetikat challenged me to write about my cleaning quirks. Well Kat, the truth is.... I HATE to clean house.

I will explain.

My mother was an absolute, impeccable housekeeper. We had, (no lie) the neatest, cleanest house in the neighborhood. If one of us were to leave our sneakers in the living room, Mom would put them away before we could. (Shazza will attest to this).

I was born with a rebellious nature.

To justify my messy house, I say I am fighting traditional gender stereotypes.

At one point in my life I tried to fit the traditional stay-at-home, perfect housekeeper type. I failed. I really TRIED but I failed. I became exhausted. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law criticised my housekeeping abilities. They criticised my parenting abilities, they criticized the clothing I chose for my children. They criticized the fact that I bought my kids' clothing and toys from yard sales and consignment shops to save money. When I decided to go back to school to get my teaching degree, they criticized that too. They wouldn't let me play any reindeer games.

That was the one time in my life when I experienced true depression. That was the one time in my life that I was prescribed happy pills.

After I completed my teaching degree I decided that the first thing I would do when I got a full time job was to hire a housekeeper. I did exactly that.

She only comes every other week, but she cleans the things that I hate to clean. I do clean the every day stuff, like dishes and counters and clutter clearing, etc. Jackie does the heavy tub scrubbing, toilet scrubbing, floor washing, dust bunny round-up etc.

Husband does the laundry. He didn't like the way I washed his clothes, so he got the job.

Daughters help with daily cleaning, dishes, clutter cleaning, wiping counters, taking out the trash, etc.

So my house is "lived in". We have two kids, two dogs, one cat and we live in the country. We have lots of mud around the house. We get mud in the house.

We are extremely busy. Husband and I both work full time, we are both taking grad classes, and we both have "businesses" on the side. Our kids are in music lessons, junior symphony, riding lessons, musical practice, etc. Our kitchen island is usually buried under papers at the end of a typical "work week". On the weekends, if I have time off, I do not want to "clean". Besides, after enduring the criticism of my in-laws, I realized that I am not good at cleaning. My mother-in- law used to brag that her mother would make her daughters wash the kitchen floor every morning before school. Why?

I do not want to be remembered for my immaculate housekeeping abilities.

Several years ago, I decided that time was more valuable than money. I also realized that my catty sister-in-laws were not worth worrying about. Besides, Jackie needs the money.


Because I hired Jackie, I can paint when I have a free Saturday.

I do my best cleaning when I'm expecting company. So, if any of you plan to visit, I will clean for you. (If it is not to your standards, I'm sorry. I'm not very good at it).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Uilleann Pipes, the Mighty Quinn and the Legendary Leo Reilly

Thanks to my good blogging friends, Kat and Dive, I began to reminisce about some of the sights and sounds of Ireland. I thought I photographed an Uilleann Piper and here he is, playing his pipes on the streets of Galway. He had a fiddler friend and they made lovely music. The daughters contributed a few Euros and they played a few tunes. Here's a closer view. It fascinates me to watch these pipers piping with their "armpits"! I guess it's really the elbows they're working, but it looks extremely difficult.

But, alas, here is the mighty "Quinn", not an eskimo, but a wonderful old salt we found playing accordian along the trail coming down from Dun Aengus in Inishmore. Quinn had a lot of stories to tell. He was 71 years old. He spent years traveling the world over to play his accordian with traditional Irish bands.
So I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick's "week". I took a full week to celebrate my Irish heritage. I started with Kat's wonderful Colcannon recipe. I ended it with a couple of pints of Guinness at a little pub in Gettysburg. You should all know that we haven't had alcohol (in the Williams' house) at the request of the husband. (He was trying to cut down and needed my moral support). He said he didn't mind if I had a few drinks outside of the house.
Well, this was the week to take advantage of that offer! According to my old, dearly departed, Philadelphia friend, Leo D. Reilly, we Irish have what he called "Ethnic responsibility". (in other words, we're expected to drink, so we shouldn't disappoint). Leo was a juvenile diabetic, who lost his leg and his sight, and had an uncanny ability to navigate his way around the back roads of Roxborough and Manayunk from the backseat of a car. In the end the diabetes didn't kill him, but a brain aneurism did. He died at the tender age of 39. So here's to Leo, Quinn, my Irish family and to the many Irish "characters" I've come to know. To all of my friends of all ethnicities, this was just another excuse to celebrate life. I hope you enjoyed your week in your own way. If nothing else, celebrate the fact that spring has sprung!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Painting Start - Fall Fencerow (Work in Progress)

Well, it's post a painting start again. As you all can see, I haven't been exactly diligent with my painting habit. It's that grad school, teaching full time, chauffering the kids about, etc. (Oh, and I was sick with one of those annoying head colds this week). This little painting was started during a beautiful fall day. I was standing out on my deck, trying to capture the fleeting feel of the day. I have this wonderful fencerow of twisted trees, a combination of cherry, sassafras, dogwood and cedar. Soon the fencerow will be white with blossoms - first the cherries and then the dogwoods!

Anyway, this painting is far from complete. I would say it is more of a color sketch. I will add many more layers of paint. I will have to figure out the direction of the light. If I remember, it was quite changeable that day. I tried to capture some of the obvious value changes near the ground. You can see the field beyond the trees. It's kind of at a sloppy stage but I'm posting it anyway. (I realize that if I wait for something to be completely ready, I will never post).

This is typical of the way I work. I take a canvas out. I paint a bit. (I think I took this into my shed and screwed it up a bit). I then stuck it in with a bunch of unfinished, unresolved paintings. Now I will post it. I will hopefully get a few ideas while looking at it on my blog. Some day I may post the "finished" product.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Behind the Barn (Work in Progress)

I'm ready to paint again. When I say paint I mean "oil paint". I have been enjoying my little foray into experimental water media (acrylics, inks, collage, etc). I have a few more techniques to use, but I truly missed by oils and my easel. It occurred to me one day when I walked into my neighboring art teacher's room. I smelled the delightful aroma of linseed oil and realized that the Art 4 students started painting!

I finished my Experimental Painting Class on Wednesday. I think I started to "get it", but I also "got into it" with my teacher "George". For weeks I've been listening to George rant about how Obama is ruining the economy. His dwindling 401K plan is all because of Obama. (It turns out that my esteemed teacher is an avowed dittohead; a Rush Limbaugh loyalist who apparently has nothing better to do than listen to Limbaugh's daily three hour hatefest). When George insisted he enjoyed enjoyed seven years of prosperity under Dubya I almost lost it. I challenged George. George insisted that Rush was a brilliant man. To which I responded he was a pompous, oxycontin addicted arse (you get the picture).

Anyways, the rest of the evening was a bit awkward and silent. I played some Miles Davis for the good of the class and I painted better than I had in a while. I don't know if it was Miles' magic or my freedom of expression! (I have to touch up that particular painting but I'll post it eventually).

In retrospect, I felt like I didn't particularly "belong" in this class. George is an excellent artist. But George has his particular style of teaching that attracts a certain type of student. Should I dare to entertain the word "groupie"? These "women" and sometimes men seem to hover around George and beg for his opinions and cherish every "pearl of artistic wisdom" that dropped from his mouth. In all fairness, some of his followers have come into their own and have made it quite well in the "local" art scene.

Anyway, I took advantage of our wonderful warm weather and walked out to my little studio (the shed) to find a few works in progress. I started this one in the fall. Some of you remember some of the fall photos I posted. This was a from a photo I took in that series. For those purists out there, I work from photos and plein air. While plein air is preferred, it is not always possible. Generally, I use my plein air beginning or photo as a "point of departure". I do not consider myself a "realist". While my subject matter may start out realistic, there are other elements that I add to personalize my work. I remember why I like painting the way I do. I may not be killing in the gallery scene, but I'm painting!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Almost Spring?

Hopefully this is the "beginning of the end" of winter. Old March is coming in like a lion. While I'm quite tired of winter, I enjoyed the surprise snow day. (I needed a rest after two full days of weekend class). So here's my attempt to catch some of those beautiful late afternoon shadows on our snow covered landscape. I took my camera and the dogs to see what I could find. The shadows were a little "softer" than I expected but still beautiful. These are some photos of our little reforested area. We let about a quarter of an acre grow wild. The red cedar trees have gotten quite tall. It has become quite the little habitat for all sorts of creatures.

More reforestation.

Our Flying Scot looking quite cold and lonely in the snow. The tarp keeps getting blown off. We took this up to the Finger Lakes for a couple of summers. We will probably put it up for sale. This is a nice little "day sailer" but we miss the Chrysler.

Fiona and Freja frolicking. I had a sillier picture, but uploaded this one twice. (I'm a digital immigrant you know).
I promised I wouldn't go on another tirade.
That's all for our little piece of the storm. We didn't get too much snow here. Shazza got about a foot in Jersey.