Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In the News - Literally!

   OMG! My picture is on the front page 
(below the fold) of the Sainte Genevieve Herald
    I'm going back to read the article

    Sorry about the OMG-thing; it seemed appropriate.

Friday, December 7, 2012

My 108-year-old Ste Genevieve Home

Now that I can actually see the surface of my work table, I am going to post the photos I have been getting requests for.  My plan is to show a “before” and “after” picture of each area so there will be a frame of reference.  This will also help when people ask me what I’ve done to the house.  So, make sure you have your ticket where you can reach it because a conductor may be around soon to punch it.  Here we go…
This is the before picture of
my amazingly cute Queen Anne house.
The after picture has a few adjustments, like 
the shrubs I planted and the leaves, hanging
plants and realtors' sign are gone.
And there are more places to sit.
This is what was left from the previous
owner.  It’s okay, I just kept adding
to the pile until someone removed it.

Convenient and expeditious,
Like Powdermilk Biscuits.

And overnight, some weeks later, 
 the leaves turned.

The first thing we did…wait, I said “we” and it was.  I had the awesome help of woodworker extraordinaire, Masterful Mark “the Magnificent” Grither.  After I closed on the house I placed my new baby into the hands of Mark.  Because he is so kind and respected in the community, I was able to move into the house in two weeks! Yes, that’s another “M” word; miracle.  He continued to organize and work (including replacing the main beam under the house) after I moved in.  When he was not shaking his head at my questions, requests and suggestions, this was the look he most often directed at me:
Thank you, Mark, for lightening the load.
I know Mark didn't do it alone, but he's the only 
one I have a picture of.  I intend to have 
everyone over for adult beverages after Christmas
and will get a group photo.
Plasterers, Electrician, Plumber,
Painters, sundry helpers, and 
Terri and Logan Grither,

Before anyone chastises me for 
covering fireplaces, don’t. 
Neither was a real.
One was electric and the other 
was made from a 9’ door that 
Mark had to, um, adapt 
another door so all my nice, 
warm air would not escape
to the attic.

Ooooo! Pretty folded fabric
where an electric fireplace
used to be.

Living Room…ahh!

STUDIO! What’s wrong with this
picture? I know…I’m not in it
working. So, tata for now;
Keep those cards and letters
coming, and thank you for all the
positive energy you’ve sent this way.
I feel it and it feels warm and fuzzy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Promise You a Smile

If you can spare 18 minutes to watch this, I promise you a big grin...or your money back!  We must celebrate our generation's accomplishments and keep them fresh. I believe we can still change the world. This video, like us, gets better as it goes along.  I am now returning to the blog I was writing...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Have Learned the Hard Way This Week

Today, I give advice. (snort!) I have always given advice, requested or not.  I usually give it hoping to save someone else the pain of learning something the hard way.  For the first fifty years of my life, I insisted on learning things the hard way.  With age comes wisdom, right? (double snort!) After much "learning" I have been considering advice. No, I did not say I was always accepting advice.  Sorry, I'm off on another tangent. Back to the advice, given with love, to everyone as they mature (remember, I have learned this through trial and errorerrorerror)...
After all, in what I thought at the time was a political statement, Lily Tomlin wore a lanyard with a notepad attached in the movie 9 to 5.  I now conclude it was not a political statement, but a life lesson I was not yet ready to learn.  If you have too many plates to juggle at one time, write them all down.  I promise, it will be quite satisfying to mark them as complete with your favorite highlighter. You will also avoid the I-know-I-came-in-here-for-a-reason syndrome.  I could not find an image of the fabulous Ms Tomlin wearing the lanyard, but I have found the lanyard.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Rest of the Story (So Far)

I knew when I found my new home. There have been way too many coincidences to ignore; as a matter of fact, a few too many to believe, but I suppose sometimes those omnipotent beings need to hit us upside the head before we accept what's staring us in the face, you know?
I visited all four of my finalist cities twice, looking at houses each time. I had ruled out the Pennsylvania towns and was concentrating on Hannibal and Ste Genevieve, Missouri. I let my head lead my heart and had decided to settle in Hannibal because the arts community there was, by far, the most organized, progressive and successful of all that I had researched. So, off I drove to Hannibal again to find a house (I had only seen one on my first visit, and it was haunted, but not in a bad way). I revisited the haunted house (the ghost only showed herself on major holidays and then just as vision coming down the stairs as if to join the festivities) and a few others. They were all over my $100,000 limit, and I wasn't loving any of them. Honestly, the haunted one came closest...what does that tell you. It was 107 degrees when I got back to my motel room. I looked around at the shabby room in a town that was touching my head but not my heart and said out loud, "I HATE Hannibal." What a relief to admit it. I got back in my car and drove 3 hours south to Ste Genevieve, calling on the way to make an appointment to see "my" house again Sunday morning.

I had done a little more research and found an Episcopal mission (meaning no full time priest). Turns out there is a full time congregation and they meet in the cutest historic building that had been moved from somewhere to the grounds of Chaumette Winery. You gotta love the Episcopalians, we will get as close to alcohol as possible! So...

9:00 am: I walk in this house and all I can think is, why have I been looking anywhere else? Truly, I felt as if I could breathe for the first time in a month. It was as if the house, like a puppy, jumped up and said, "Where have you been? I have missed you!" Well crap! Just typing that has brought tears to my eyes. I still didn't write a contract because I still needed to be hit over the head, remember?

11:00: I drive out in the beautiful rolling hills to the sweetest little church.

Sidebar***I don't think I told you, but my realtor (another coincidental story for another day) on my first trip had arranged for me to have lunch with several of the local artists. It was perfect! Four vibrant, interesting, well spoken and welcoming women.*** Well, back to church; the service was nice and I decided I was going to have to go to coffee hour. I'm shy in that particular situation for some reason (maybe someone dropped a coffeepot on my head as a child?), but this was important, so off I the WINE TASTING ROOM! Hot diggity dog (refer to the previous note about Episcopalians and alcohol)! Wait, there's more. Lunch is served, prepared by the winery's fantastic chef. Wait, there's more (do you hear the pounding on my head yet?)...At this communal meal, everyone is as pleasant and welcoming as can be and they tell me I must talk to Barbara, who knows everything about Ste Gen's historic district. So, I wander around to find Barbara. Also a lovely lady. A woman joined our conversation, asking where I was from. "Kentucky," I said. Barbara asks, "Are you an artist?" "Yes, why?" I've heard all about you; you had lunch with my good friend Lulu a few weeks ago!"

Let's go back to that first checklist: 1. Community (Arts...check; church...check...small town...double check!) 

I know, this is long, but I'm on a roll. Sooo...wait, there's just a little more...When I returned home, I cranked up the computer and turned on Pandora. The first song I heard was by a group, Son Volt (never heard of them before I started this quest), singing a song titled "Tear Stained Eye" - here are some of the lyrics:

We'll hit the road, never looking behind
Can you deny, there's nothing greater
Nothing more than the traveling hands of time?
Sainte Genevieve can hold back the water
But saints don't bother with a tear stained eye

Cross my heart, it's true. Spooky and blessed at the same time, right?

“Coincidences” like these are why I know that if you open yourself up to the improbable, and listen to that "still, small voice" or, in my case, the bullhorn blaring in my ear, the answers do come. You just have to listen and believe what you think you hear. 

Okay, that's my story. I hope there weren't so many typos that this rambling story didn't make sense. It's the story of my little miracle. Since I've moved, every day holds another and when I go to bed at night all I can think is, Thank You.

And, oh yeah, thank you for these pictures because they're just so darn funny!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Good Elf is Hard to Find or What I Did This Morning

Things I Have Done Today
aka the "To-Done List"
1.     Made coffee for the first time in my new house; drank and added a 200-calorie    donut.  Yum.
2.     Watched a new, dark green, waste receptacle delivered
3.     Rolled receptacle to rear of house, put it next to bright blue receptacle.
4.     Called Republic Services for a how-come-why re: 2 (above)
5.     While listening to the Republic phone rep researching the surprising addition of a second trash bin, I attempted to open my email.  I have been experiencing a connectivity problem that seems to be with my router.  The Elf Geek Squad did not fix the problem last night, so I re-diagnose the problem and begin to reboot modem and router.
6.     Rolled my bright blue receptacle to curb.  No answer available for 4 (above), so I was allowed to choose which to return.  I kept the green in deference to my neighbors as it is camouflaged in the dark green back yard.  The blue? Not so much.
7.     During the last (very noisy) rolling, I decided to start this list so, at the end of the day, I’ll know how another day slipped through my fingers.
8.     Plugged modem in.  Waited for all the lights to start. I will now plug router in.
9.     Hung a few things on my peg board.
10.  Found laundry essentials brought from KY that I have not been able to locate. Needing to do laundry, I replaced the essentials last night.  Say it together, “Of course you did!”
11.  Dealt with email. Was sidetracked by email from the Met, watched their video, downloaded an app about altering photographs. HEY! It’s my job; I’m a visual artist!
12.  Spent 5 minutes with the app, which is cool and free.  It’s called “Faking It” and I recommend it for fascinating reading (after you take the quiz which, of course, is the hook), it’s the other photos and the how and why they were retouched is the most interesting part.  I had to stop myself of I would have read about each of them and frittered away more of the day.
13.  Opened snail mail.  YIKES!!!!! There is a letter from my insurance agent the Travelers has inspected (I haven’t seen any inspectors) my house and re-appraised the replacement value from $233,000 to $403,000, which will be an annual increase of about $700.  Let me say this again, YIKES!!!!! I called the  agency and reminded them that I paid $75,000 for  the house and it is not logical for my insurance premium to be higher than my  mortgage.  My representative was out, but she had already questioned the inspection.  I spoke with the head dudette and she agrees that $403,000 is too high.  She will request a copy of the inspection and get back to me.  I may canvass the neighborhood for comps. Someone must have told Travelers' that my house now looks like this:
I give!  It’s 10:00 am and I’m worn out from keeping this log.  Can we just concede that I am busy but not doing what I had intended to do.  This is why I am not unpacked. Phew! I’m glad I can show this to all the guys that have been working on the house and rolling their eyes every darn day at the unpacked boxes.  Oh! Here comes the FedEx man with another box!  Woo-diddly-hoo.  I’m back.  I asked if FedEx had gotten the Amazon contract and Mr FedEx said they had.  I am glad I solved that mystery.  Now, on to the mysterious MIA geek elves…AHA! Another mystery solved!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the words of Robert Hunter,

Sometimes the lights all shining on me,
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange trip it's been

Marketing Your City/Company/Organization

Because of my recent experiences researching many locations, at this point I’m going to make a few suggestions for this kind of marketing in general.  Tailor the information AND its presentation to your audience.  In the case of artists and engineers, if anything has a date on it, keep the date current.  A letter dated 2008 will be noticed, and you will be judged for “uncraftsman-like” behavior.  Also, if you are promoting opportunities, don’t include a brochure touting an annual event that is not current.  It makes one wonder.  One more thing: answer the questions you are asked.  If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification.  If asked the same question again, assume you did not answer sufficiently the first time, do not sigh and repeat the original answer.  Yes, this happened to me, several times.  As you can imagine, it is very frustrating to need information and not be able to get it.  Here’s an over-simplified example:

          A: Why is the sky blue?
          B: We often have rainbows here.
          A: Cool; why is the sky blue?
          B: Not that it rains here that much.

So, the arts group is not the best (YMMV), but the town and its residents are pretty darn cool.   Oil City lost most of its major industry in a very short time, so there are lots of buildings and houses available.  I started thinking that I might buy a storefront and make an apartment to go with it.  To cut to the chase, I put in an offer on a two-storey brick house that had been zoned commercial/residential.  It had a fantastic florida-type room facing the street and a huge adjacent dining area that could be combined as a studio/gallery/store.  The house needed a little work, but the asking price was $59,000.  I ended up withdrawing my offer for various reasons; it didn’t meet all of my listed needs.
Serendipity Raises its Hand
I drove to Oil City; it was about 6 hours, so it seemed reasonable.  The last town you pass through before Oil City is Franklin.  OMG! It is one of the cutest towns you have ever seen.  It is a little like the Truman Show town, but not creepy at all. 
The first person I planned to meet there was with the Chamber of Commerce.  As I walked up the steps to her office, she was escorting a visitor out.  I was introduced to the visitor who just happened to be the realtor, Dawn Beith-Caiarelli, I had an appointment with later in the day.  Dawn was a veritable fountain of information; she had grown up in Franklin and moved away to recently return, so she saw both sides of the town and, as almost everyone I met, was a grand supporter of Franklin.  BIG rivalry between Oil City and Franklin.  Huge.  We toured the town and a few houses I was interested in and she walked be a few blocks to City Hall to meet the one-woman force of nature that is Ronnie Beith.  Did I mention that Franklin is known as “a small town with great festivals?”
From what I understand, that is a result of the efforts of Ronnie and her late husband and their support of the arts.  Everyone I spoke with in the county (yes, even in Oil City) asked me if I’d met Ronnie Beith yet.  So, back to my check list; community? Check!
AND, the Episcopal churches in both cities have Tiffany windows.
Next, I research a few other places, just in case I might have missed something…


Friday, October 5, 2012

"Before Pictures"

Several folks have asked, so, if you'd like to see my new home before I started making it really "mine" here is a link:
The previous owner also owned a  bookstore; you'll understand why I tell you this when you see the photos.  He's now off to sail the world with his dog, Sophie. 
Everyone has a dream; what's yours?

Proverbs 24:27 Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

The Great Search

(Continued from my July 1 post)…As I made my many notes and lists, I narrowed and prioritized my list of “must-haves” so I could consistently judge the places I was taking a second look at.  Of course, everyone will have different criteria, but this ended up being mine:

1.    Community.  I want to live with others, not apart from.  You know what I mean; many places are gorgeous and fun with lots of things to do, but you would always be a visitor.  You might be a resident, but, without a lot of really hard work you would never be an “us” you would always be a “them.”  Every community has neighborhoods.  The neighborhoods I looked for were not geographic, but social: arts, town, and church.
2. Affordable housing.

3.    Artistic opportunity and acceptance.

4.    Within 2 hours of an ocean.

5.    Close to a major airport. 

You know how, when faced with a stack of resumes, your first pass is eliminating those that don’t meet your criteria?  I did it with locations, based on #2, affordable housing.  The list was based on artistic opportunity, so housing would cut the widest swath through the list, and boy, did it!  Truthfully, I did not expect “affordable” to be as affordable as it actually was.


I was browsing on Trulia when I input Oil City, PA.  Oil City has a well-publicized artists’ relocation program.  The program’s description includes low-interest loans and notes that there are many available inexpensive homes that need a little TLC.  This is an understatement; livable, sizable houses are available for less than $50,000.  Really!  If you move up to $75,000, you get more livability and less to do.  What’s the catch?  Bathrooms.  For this price you generally get one.  On the other hand, for this price, you can add a second.  More money, more house of course.

So, it was time for my first field trip.  I made contact with the artists’ relocation program and in a few days I got a package in the mail.  Stay tuned for the next installment and make sure you have your permission slip signed....


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Psalm 84:3, The swallow has found herself a nest

 Here I sit, in my new home, fascinated by the play of
colors I chose and architectural elements that are some
of the bones of the house.   It is unfortunate that in this view
I also see the fewest unpacked boxes.  I feel guilty that I have not
kept everyone informed, but I have realized that I have apparently
reached an age after which only one major thing can be done
at a time.  For instance, I can write or I can unpack.
For two days I have forced myself to unpack, not so you'd
 know it. I have a soon-to-be-glorious two-room studio:
I do have an excuse for the mess; the movers dropped my inexpensive
particle board cabinet that held all of my folded fabric.  BOOM.
No more cabinet (and no insurance because it had not reached
the truck).  The most challenging part of this episode is,
how do I arrange it all so that it works even better than before?
I really am just touching base with all of you.  I still intend to share most
of the adventure, but for now I must go to the kitchen and rearrange
stuff so the plasterers can finish.  The wall color is actually in the plaster,
and it is lovely.  Wow, I just looked at the second studio picture; it
looks like one of those find-the-urn or where's-waldo puzzles.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Aaron Sorkin

I love Aaron SorkinI and his new HBO show, The Newsroom. Tonight is the second (I think) episode and the opening now has music very similar to The West Wing. Hmmmm I suppose if you keep using the same actors (where are you Allison Janney?), familiar music is OK, too.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I researched.  Remember when you first found the internet and started clicking on all those underlined words and phrases, each of which led you somewhere new?  That’s how my research started.

I started with housing costs in cities I was interested in.  I thought I could afford $1000/month.  I started with areas I’ve been to and liked: Boston, other places in New England.  New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts.  Did you know heat must be included in the rent in Massachusetts?  I researched taxes (more good info from MA).  Real estate, sales, income; all different, all important.

About this time my BFF asked how wide I was casting my net (in so many words).  Great question; I cast wider.  Ireland; hamlets, cities, what the heck has happened to housing prices in Ireland?  They are UPUPUPUPUP!  Back to the US where I understand about the taxes I read about.  And I don’t have to calculate foreign currency into dollars and cents.

New research tack…google “artist relocation” shall I wait while you do it, too?  Okay, I’ll hit the highlights; Paducah, KY, several places in the western half of the US, Cumberland, Chattanooga, Covington, Cleveland, Collinwood, Oil City, Johnstown, Lowell…golly the list is long!   I throw out Paducah and Covington because they are in Kentucky and so am I.  Relocating means, to me, out of my current state (physical and mental).  Lowell leads the pack on so many points, not the least of which is that many fellow fiber artists put it on their short list.  And so, I started to look at each city/town, borough, hamlet...   
                                   Paducah Photos
This photo of Paducah is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Saturday, June 23, 2012

So, did you think about where you would move?  How you would start a new life?  Would you be careful, organize what you have and plan the rest?  Plan your life, live your plan?

I started at the end and worked backwards.  Where did I want to be at the end of my life?  What memories did I want to have?  I already have a spectacular collection of memories; I have had a great life!  I have been places and done things people write (and read) books about.

The memories are divided into two piles; before and after marriage.  I feel as if, looking back, I directed both.  The difference was the focus.  Before, I it was all about me.  Yes, I was self-centered and selfish, but my parents told me I could be anything and do anything I put my mind to, so I was and I did.  I was also independent and self-sufficient.  My father did buy my first car (a $400 Dodge Coronet), and my mother fed, clothed and sheltered me.  Thank you, Mama and Daddy.

Long story short (hahahahahaha),  I was born to be a politician or an artist.  Way too many skeletons in my closet for a political future.  Skeletons are, on the other hand, a firm foundation for any creative life.  Art, it is.  Now what?

Friday, June 15, 2012

I have been given an amazing gift; the opportunity to change the direction of my life.  If you had the chance, what would you do?   While you ponder this, come with me as I decide the what, where and how of it.  What will the soundtrack be?  I have already begun my BIG ADVENTURE (BA for short), but I am going to retrace most of my steps to catch you up.

I’ll start with a brief recap of the events leading up to the BA. 

   2/14/12 Dear husband of 32 years calls from another state to scream “I want a divorce!” This may seem harsh, but it was actually in response to my abruptly terminating a pretty contentious argument by pressing the “off” button on my phone.  I’m sure you can picture all the pain, anger, sadness, relief, surprise, blah blah blah, so we’ll skip that.  This is about my new life, not about how I got here.

  3/16/12  The divorce is final.  Really, couldn’t the court have moved a tad slower so that it would be St Patrick’s Day?  I mean, it started on one Saint’s day, a little symmetry would be poetic, don’t you think?  We’ll just have to find poetry somewhere else.

As Part 1 of the BA comes to a close, I suggest you listen to Gaelic Storm’s version of “Scalliwag” – Oh goodie! I found the YouTube video with the lyrics.  Enjoy if you have a mind to:  
I almost forgot - your homework assignment is to dream big; what would you do if you could?  No, winning the Lottery is not possible.  Work with what you have.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Four a.m.
Birdsong drifts in on a cool breeze
Through the open window

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hebrews 12:1

A cloud of witnesses
surrounds a race run.
Run with perseverance.

And Happy Derby Day from
sunny, hot and humid Kentucky!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Qur'an 40:36-37

Pharaoh asked for a tower to be built,
Saying he would look for God

He did not plan to find God,
He was sure
Moses was a liar

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Genesis 1:3

In one version of creation,
God said,
“Let there be Light”
And there is!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way


My last post hinted at the hubbub that has usurped my life. I'll be back when actual construction is underway.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Qur’an 4:128

Fearing high-handedness
              or alienation,
           settle peacefully

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Word for Today

                          I need to share a word for today:


 I yearn for justice.
 I yearn for peace.
    I yearn for a great romantic love. 

What do you yearn for?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1Kings 11:26-40

How’d trouble start?
Eleven tribes divided.
Jeroboam ruled ten,
Solomon but one