Friday, December 28, 2018


Esme has started putting her own hair back in a ponytail, which is progress we've tried for years.  She said the new smaller string-like hair ties with her brush set for Christmas was easier for her hands.  I've never bought those for us before because they look so weak.  But, good!

She has also made progress initiating cooking her own meals, and not jut microwave stuff.  She made rice out of a package the other day and has made eggs and peppers and onions etc etc. 

She is really enjoying the art box we got for Christmas, took it into her room and up into her 'nest' in the loft bed.  I've kind of lost all those supplies now maybe for a while - but she promised to let me borrow them when I want to *heh* and she is following instructions out of her drawing books.

We went to the library last night and she completely found her own books and I just hung out in the adult fiction section keeping an eye on her.  I found a new Paul Auster book, 'Timbuktu'.. which is about a homeless man trying to find a new home for his dog and someone to give all of his writing to before he dies.  I read 'In the Country of Last Things' more than twenty years ago, which apparently, is not his 'usual work', and it stuck like a dart through my psyche ever since.  I bought a new copy a few years ago and have slowly worked my way through reading it (if you have ever read it, you know how it can be a whirlpool of dreamlike quicksand sucking at your temples) and have not brought myself to read the end of it again, yet. 

I'm hoping this book will be happier.. but it already has a bit of the same 'I'm running through a life with shards of glass at many corners but we don't look at the cuts because our eyes are on the future because that is all we can do, keep going on'... the poor character...  The story is told from the viewpoint of the dog, though... I'm about a quarter of the way in.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas 2018

 a soft blue blanket she loved at the store

 Kif and Tansy and Hazel (in the chair) are with Grandma and Esme mugging for attention and ear scratches

 The art easel box that we bought from Grandma this year, Esme loves it!  It was empty but I filled it up with all of my art supplies that she can't usually find but it allowed to use.

 A spitting Minecraft llama

 Minecraft Lego and a keeper case (also from Grandma), we also bought her some Minecraft pajamas and a t-shirt from us this year.. so it was a very Minecraft Christmas as well as a Dinosaur one.

Rex is growing!

 A  very Dino Christmas!

 refrigerator art

 Mark and Esme looking over the art box.  I braided her hair last night wet and took it out this morning and it really looked pretty, as well.

 A few weeks ago we sent the letter to 'Sion Corn', the Welsh Santa Claus, since I am learning the Welsh language.  I jokingly asked Esme what she wanted to ask Sion Corn for Christmas, and she jokingly returned (while in the produce department at the grocery store), a watermelon.  So, the night before Christmas Eve I bought a watermelon and wrapped it up in the middle of the table from 'Sion Corn'.  She was surprised - thought it was a bowling ball!,.. but also she really liked it and the chickens loved the scraps, too.

These are the 'Tea Rex' and 'Tea-ceratops' tea caddies I designed on SCAD and Mark helped me print on our 3D printer.  I really wanted a little caddy that would hold a few of each flavor out to see on the counter.  Esme said to put the silhouettes facing each other, so they could say 'RAR' at each other all day long.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Spice and Pastel

 This is the pastel chalk drawing done by a local Paris, TN artist, Patsy Parks.  Esme bought it with her allowance at the art fair earlier this month, and I put it up on the wall today.  She chose a place she will see it every day :)

The spice holder on the left has a fork and column to hold onto the pepper grinder to keep it from falling onto our glass stovetop at every little tremor and movement.  The red holder was going to be the same thing, but with four slots for other spices next to it -- that is still a good plan, but the big printer was down so I printed the redesign on the little printer in three pieces (it has only half the space of the other one).

I go back to work tomorrow, closing shift.  Esme is still off until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Vacation Bits

I've accomplished some of the things I had set out to do this vacation... not big things, but I've been putting some of it off for a week or more.

 I dyed my hair and started a book, sewed two projects, and designed a 3D printer item that we will try to print out tomorrow.  I did the laundry, and took Esme Christmas shopping, decorated the mailbox with decorations I had bought but had been procrastinating putting on.. and then took Miss Irene for her monthly shopping trip.  The girls have been on a sleepover here and they have fought tooth and nail twice... but hopefully they will go to sleep now (sigh) and we can start again tomorrow.  I might have to bake something tomorrow.. and that would be the last thing I had really thought of doing.. cinnamon donuts again?

Here is the pepper grinder holder spice rack thing I've spent a few days designing.
The base is separate from the spire in the print queue and will be glued in.

This is not our grinder - but it is very similar.  The handle sticks out like this one and causes big problems with keeping it upright.  It is always clattering to the stovetop or the floor and sometimes takes other things with it.  The base should fit in the bottom of one of the depressions and the fork will hold the handle - if I get the height just right...

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Ice Crystal Beauty, dogs and chickens

The netted chicken yard is surviving the ice storm - the netting is pulled way down but the chickens are all there and there doesn't seem to be any holes in the enclosure.  They have food and water and fresh pine chip bedding under their shelter.  We will have to use a bungee cord on the door for a bit as the ice has warped the door out of the frame and the latch clasp will not shut now.

 I caught some ice crystal beauty on the tree next to the yard - I love the mathematical structures inside each frozen drop and the way they look like crystal baubles with the light shining through them.

And the dogs were playing out in the yard.  I asked them to 'say cheese'.. and I think they did (the second shot).  Kif is on the left, Rex in the middle and Spud on the right.  Lucy is standing off in the background.

The viburnum (snowball bush) was also frozen in ice.. caught a couple of pictures of it, too.

Esme was at a sleepover last night, and Lucy was so insistent that I needed to find her so she could have the bedtime routine.. such a nose!  She circled the room every half hour or so for hours until she finally settled down with Minerva.  (her blue eyes really reflect the light weird, but Mark says she has a pupil shape disorder as well that only would show up in a picture like this - her pupils are oval not round)

Esme and I also went to the Lee School art bazaar in Paris on Saturday morning.. we saw a lot but couldn't buy much.  Esme did buy a beautiful pastel drawing by a local artist which is now in a glass box in her room.  We also were given a small black fish pottery  spoon rest which I put by our sink for Esme to put her egg washing sponge on.  She said the fish had a 'gentle line' which she loved.  I really loved some art by Donna Revelee, and Esme wanted me to buy a fox painting she had made - but it was a bit higher than we could swing with Christmas spending already a bit over budget.  I got her card and will try to see if there is anything we can support in the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Meet Kif, and Dinosaur Christmas Tree

We dug out our Christmas tree tonight and had fun making a Dinosaur Extravaganza of it... all of these little ornaments are things we have made or collected in the past few years, and of course, our collection of plastic and vinyl dinosaurs.  I bought a new one tonight and tied it to the top of the tree as a tree topper!

It was a Spinosaurus.. so I had to get it and couldn't call it a Christmas Present to anyone but myself, so up on the tree it went!

We have not found our dog Freckles.  But, somehow, this skinny dog was in our garden the other night and Mark left food out for him as he wouldn't come to us.  Then the next day Mark convinced him to come inside to the warmth and more food.. and now it has been a week or more and he has a name and is in the routine with the other dogs.  We've called him Kif... after the green space alien guy on Futurama.  For one reason, I said 'poor kid' when Mark told me he was having a hard time getting around the house and then had crashed solid on the couch for hours.. but my phone keyboard came out 'poor kif'... but also, the other reason - it fits him.. he is very polite and worried about things and slinks around most of the time until he is right next to you being very much in your personal space, and then again, he is slinking away to a corner again to make sure he doesn't offend.  He is looking much better than this, already - having gained enough weight back so his ribs don't show.  Rex is doing a good job as a 'big little brother', showing him the ropes, taking him outside (which he needed, as he would rather hunker down and not get up until he needs to, and doesn't really like the stairs, so the first couple of days he had accidents because he was afraid to barrel down the stairs with the other dogs and would rather 'just rest up here' until it was too late.. )  He 's gotten quite a bit better, now.. although he is still hesitant.

We did report him to the shelter as he had a stain of a collar around his neck, but no one has said they were missing him... so, he's staying with us as long as he continues to be a good kid.  We guess he is 1 to 2 years old, and the cats like him but he is getting a little pushy with them now - he must have had a cat at his previous home, because he thinks it is nothing to come up and push them with his nose and sniff them all over and then bark at them if they get hissy about it... and the cats are like 'Wait a Minute - WHO are YOU?'  What do you think you're doing with that Nose?'... That is another habit of his, he likes to put his nose ON you to sniff you.. and snuffle at things like our keyboards and chairs and shoes and etc... he and Rex have gotten in a little trouble pulling some cloth items down to lay and chew on.... taking liberties, but overall for a stray adult dog and one that was starved he is doing very well.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

11th birthday at Grandpa and Grandma's house in South Carolina

I've been very late at reporting this, but earlier this month Esme and I took a serious trip - out to South Carolina, to visit my father and stepmother, Grandpa Harvey and Grandma Gale.

Esme's birthday was the fourth, and we went a little before that, to have time to visit the ocean at Myrtle Beach, something even I had never done before.  So, it was a pretty special occasion.

We flew on a plane to get to Columbia, South Carolina - changing over at Atlanta, one of the busiest airports in the United States.  It was an adventure there, too.  Esme was quite nervous about flying but she did really good (there still might be some fingerprint marks in the seat armrests on those planes, though!  kidding).

Esme got to see Mom at my 'most lost' when the rental car wouldn't start in the parking garage - but they gave us a different car and it was all good from there.  I also admit I lost the rental car in the parking lot of a Walmart we went to for groceries one time -- but we found it just as the parking lot police were about to come help us.  I also got lost a few times and had to work my way back with the Google Maps on my phone.  But I think she also saw that you don't have to panic and freak out - you can get out of these situations and learn something.

The day we went to Myrtle Beach Grandpa still wasn't feeling very well, and his oxygen tanks were low.. it was a Sunday, so I put on my brave face and Esme and I took the hour and a half drive to Myrtle Beach by ourselves, arriving just a bit after eleven in the morning.  We went to the boardwalk by the SkyWheel and then on to the ocean to gather shells.  I think we were out there up to our knees for a little over two hours ,then I made her come in, and eat something, and buy some souvenirs.. including a towel and a sweatshirt.  She really wanted a boogie board - and of course, to take it to the ocean and get completely submerged in the waves.  It was a 60 degree day at best.. with nice sunshine but a cold wind.  But armed with towel and sweatshirt I took her down to the beach again (after depositing like fifteen pounds of shells in the trunk of the car) and she rode waves for another 45 minutes.  Then it was quick put on the dry things and get to the car to make the drive home.

 on the beach near the Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach, SC

 Collecting seashells

 Trying to push over the leaning tree at the Visitor's Center

  Boogie boarding at the beach 

 Boogie boarding at the beach

 At the Swan Lake Iris Park in Sumter, SC

 Grandpa and Grandma giggle at a toy hermit crab

on the plane with her birthday gifts
tired and headed home!

Esme and her Grandma Gale made cupcakes together and Esme and I decorated them, and then they watched the Garfield movies.  The next day, we went to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens park and Grandpa came with us to see the swans.  Esme did get a headache halfway through there - but enjoyed seeing the swans and some turtles.  We grabbed some chicken and went home, and then Esme and I got a few more things at a craft store.  Later that night she opened her 11th birthday Owl, Harry Potter books and a sand dollar silver necklace I had gotten for her to commemorate the beach.  Grandma Gale gave her a souvenir net with shells that says 'Myrtle Beach' across the top which now hangs in her bedroom on the wall.

We had a great stay at Grandpa and Grandma's house.  Esme wishes she could have gone back for another day on the beach.. but she is happy with the shells and the boogie board and souvenirs and maybe a chance to go back in a few years (during a warmer time of the year!).  Grandpa said we probably got as good of a haul of shells as we did because it was the off-season for beachcombers.  When I finally asked Esme to come get in her towel to leave a six inch long blue conch shell (almost complete) washed up right by her elbow and I told her it was the Ocean telling her to listen to her Mother and it was time to go ;)  heh.

We made all the connecting flights back (although I got off at one wrong exit on the way back to the airport, backtracked and got back on) and Daddy picked us up at the Nashville Airport for a long drive home in the pouring rain.  We were so glad to be home and to have everyone together again.

One bad thing happened while we were gone - our dog Freckles ran out into the woods, maybe looking for us because we were gone, and she has not come back.  We have to expect the worst.  She was an excellent little dog, and we miss her.  Her sister Lucy, especially, misses her.  I got a sinus infection after getting home, as well, and that took up all the rest of my vacation time trying to get human again.


I'm putting together a 16 by 20 poster frame of some of the pictures and ephemera we collected on our trip.  I'm going to hang it in the hallway beside the crayon drawing of the beach (and oddly, a plane overhead!) that Esme had made years ago 'in case we ever went to the beach it would be like this..'

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 28th

We're getting almost entirely done with the new chicken yard.  There is just a little finishing up around the entryway to do.  Mark and Esme got most of the netting up today over the top of the cables. 

Esme and I did a test-pack for South Carolina, and I've looked at maps and tried to see what our best routes are when we get there.  I asked if Dad was ready to have an eleven year old in the house this week.. and Grandma Gale said she isn't sure.  They have confirmed that the packages arrived.. and Esme is really looking forward to the beach, but not the plane.  She asks me every day morning and night if I think the plane will be okay.. that she now thinks the plane will be okay,.. that she's thought about it and maybe the plane will be okay. etc etc.  My more realistic fear is getting separated or jostled around in the big airports.

Our washer bit the dust last night - and we had to go into Lowe's today to buy a new one.  We'll be setting it up in the morning.  I bought the one the specialist said he would have bought for his wife - and I know the guy, so I know he likes his wife ;)  It has a stainless steel drum, which Mark is amazed by.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

October twenty first

We're getting closer on our chicken yard upgrade.  It is going to be an actual 'aviary' with an enclosed top.  Here is Mark looking like a sea captain checking the lines and smoking his pipe.

And I made some sour cream donuts today, they could have been better - but it was worth a try.
I used the recipe here at  Baking a Moment Glazed Donuts

The dragon's breath pink celosia was on fire tonight with the light of the setting sun.  I had to go catch a picture of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

carvng pumpkins


We each carved a pumpkin yesterday, Mark's on the left, Esme's is the little one!

photographic evidence that we both smile the exact same way when we're not sure we want our picture taken *heh*

Thursday, October 04, 2018

chicken condos

These are the chicken condos for nesting boxes in the new coop.  Mark made the gate and is working on putting it up on the posts Esme and I dug holes for last week.  We have eight chickens so someone has to share, but it will be so much more space than they have now.  Hopefully they can learn to lay their eggs in these instead of just on the floor in front of them.  We will put them in the rebuilt chicken house in the next few days.

I bought a set of donut pans for baked donuts to try the recipe for egg bread in - since it was basically a donut recipe with alterations to begin with.  The pans get here next Tuesday!  Weird to buy such a specific item but they were actually not expensive and I plan to use them like muffin tins.   I also began knitting my pair of winter gloves - and got one thumb done so far, working on the hand up to the fingers.

Watched two episodes of Welsh-only tv today, and talked a bit on a Welsh chat board.  I'm understanding enough that the lack of subtitles on the tv player (new site) is not a terrible loss - I can understand so much of what is going on without them.  The chat board helps me see what people actually say to each other in short conversational Welsh.

Got to go finish up some laundry.. long day starting early tomorrow.

Esme had finished her book and we took her to the library to stack up a few more.  I tried out my smartphone and tried to get a picture.. and it worked.

Rex is getting bigger.  Spud wishes the puppy would grow dignity instead of just bigger.  Rex is also growing into his 'spectacles' markings around his eyes.. but his feet are still huge.