Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sleep on It . . . or Not


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.  ~Fran Lebowitz

It's 4 AM, and I've been up for about half an hour -- I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  When I first looked at the clock, I misread it and thought it said 4:40, and I thought well, it's almost 5 AM, I can get up.  But when I did get up and turned on the coffee and looked at the clock again, it was 3:40 . . . It was.  I checked all the clocks to be sure.

So here I am, up with the little kitty, who of course wanted to get up too, the minute she heard some action happening in the kitchen.  

[Linkup to Color Splash Sunday]

I feel as if I haven't had a decent night's sleep since I was pregnant, 27 years ago.  Of course I know that's not strictly true, but that's how it feels.  It's hard to sleep when you're pregnant, and then when you have a child you never get any sleep, what with getting up to make sure they're still breathing, getting up to nurse, getting up to walk a toddler back to bed, getting up with a child who's sick . . . on and on.  And then, if you came to motherhood late, as I did, before you know it, you're heading toward menopause, and then you can never sleep.  And of course we know that seniors live on about 3 hours of sleep.  So there you have it.

I wish I could nap, but I can't, generally.  My Loved One, who spends most of his working day in the car, can pull over to the side of the road and nap for a refreshing 10 minutes, or take a quick nap before dinner (or after dinner), and when he goes to bed at night can fall asleep almost immediately, while I'm left staring at the ceiling.  I, on the other hand, have to go through a ritual to get to sleep in the daytime -- set the alarm for 90 minutes, turn on a fan for white noise, turn on a babbling brook for relaxation, read for half an hour, catch myself at just the right sleepy moment to close the book and close my eyes . . . and then half the time I don't actually sleep.  Sigh.

More and more, researchers are finding that sleep is critical to our well-being.  I'd like the opportunity to find out if that's true, but it's now 4:18 and I don't think I'm going to get that chance today.  How do you get to sleep -- and stay asleep?

Oh, by the way, here's the fellow who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat -- he looks pretty well rested, no?

[Linkup to Texture Tuesday]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Everybody, have you heard?


You have to be a certain age to understand the title . . . 

For the last two days, I've been awakened sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 by a mockingbird.  My neighbor across the street wants to shoot it, but I really like it and don't mind being awakened so early by the beautiful song (and it's light outside, anyway).  I love how in the animal kingdom, males have to strut their stuff in order to get a mate, and the mockingbird certainly has developed an attractive lure.  

The song of the one hanging out in our neck of the woods is extremely long.  I don't hear any of the sounds other people report, though -- cell phones ringing, car alarms, etc.  It's just beautiful bird calls, on and on.

 [Linkup to Quotography]

[The quote is from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which is another blast from the past.  My past, anyway.]

I don't have a picture of the mockingbird, so you'll have to make do with flower pictures.  Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What I have been up to . . .


Hi everyone -- I've been so busy!  I had to do the final for my pastels class, and then I started a watercolor class, and the kitten has kept us hopping -- 

So here are the first two things I've done in watercolor -- 

This is an African sunset that the teacher had us do in class.  It was pretty easy -- we copied it (with our own spin on it)Then I started something on my own -- I have a book of botanical illustrations from the 1600's called "Mr. Marshall's Flower Book."  I love botanical illustration and would love to be able to do it, myself.  So I copied a sunflower -- 

I think it came out okay, and I learned a lot from doing it about mixing colors, and which brushes to use and so on.  I am terrible at doing washes, however -- I've been starting each day by doing a couple of washes, and they're awful.  Anyone have any advice on that?  (By the way, the teeny bird, smaller than a sunflower leaf, was in the original.)

Then I bought a bunch of peonies at Trader Joe's and I loved them so much that I went back and got some more.  I love peonies but they don't grow here, and I hardly ever see them in the stores.  They smell heavenly and they're so beautiful, of course I had to take pictures.

[Linkup to Texture Twist]

Is it too dark, do you think?  Here's another one.

[Linkup to Show Off Your Shot]
I have a lot more to look at, but it's a start.

I also have been having terrible pains in my thumb, which the doctor thinks is tendinitis.  It's been well over a week and it's been very difficult to 1) type, 2) paint, 3) lift anything, e.g. my camera, so I haven't been having fun.  But now I have a thumb splint, finally, and am taking Naproxin regularly, so it's getting a little better each day.

How is everyone else?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Heaven on Earth


Every now and then, you find a place that surely must be a little bit of heaven on earth . . . to me, that place is Big Sur, on the California Coast.  I've been going to Big Sur for 40 years, much more often in the last fifteen or so, as a place to just relax and recharge my batteries.  It was practically the first place my husband and I went, after we met, and we would have been married there, if we hadn't gone to Florida to be with his mother.  There's pretty much nothing to do there besides walk in the woods or go down to the beach or sit on the deck at Nepenthe, a restaurant that has been there since 1949 and that has one of the most spectacular views in the world.

View from Nepenthe [Link to Scenic Sunday]

It was a pretty hazy day, but you get the idea.  We drove way south to Lime Kiln Park (below Lucia), and went for a walk in the redwoods, to some old lime kilns from the 1800's.  The ranger said it was a "stroll through the woods," but the Loved One and I for various reasons found it challenging -- the ranger didn't mention it was uphill all the way there, and for those with knee problems, downhill on the way back is harder.  But we did it, and were treated to a very beautiful time in the forest and an interesting visit to the historical site.

This is one of the kilns -- evidently a company dug out all the lime in the area and purified it in these wood ovens -- deforesting the trees for fuel in the process.  They ran out of lime very quickly and closed the operation down, so now it's returned to its pristine state, 100+ years later (except for the kiln ruins).

We walked along a creek the whole way and the sound of the rushing water was lovely and relaxing.

I took a lot of pictures, but very few of them came out -- photographing in the redwoods is difficult, because you have a lot of darkness, interspersed with extremely high contrast situations where the sun is coming through.  Sometimes that can make for very nice effects, when some bit of something is lit up in the darkness, but often when I think "ooh, that would be a nice pic," it somehow doesn't come out.  But I like these tree roots.

[Linkup to Your Sunday Best]

Another thing I like about Big Sur is that in a number of places, there are wonderful flowers -- we always stop at the River Inn and I take a bunch of pics of the flowers there.  I won't put them all in this post, but here are a couple I like:

[Linkup to The Simple Things]

All in all, it was a lovely day.  Okay, at one point during our hike, I said "I hate you," but then a minute later, I didn't hate him again.  :)  It was fun.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our new family member --


It's been such a busy week, I haven't had time to post.  I'm working on the final for my pastels class, I started a watercolor class, and I've been spending time with the little kitty.  Yesterday, she had to go back to the shelter to be spayed, and she was supposed to stay there after that and be put up for adoption.

We were at the point where we really wanted to keep her, but in the fostering agreement I signed, it said that foster parents are discouraged from adopting their animals.  I tried to talk to the volunteer director when I brought the kitty in, but she wasn't there that day.  I was so nervous that she'd be put into the kennels for adoption and someone would snap her up . . . so I was there first thing in the morning today, begging to talk to her . . . .  And she said, of course you can have her, that's in the agreement because some people foster six kittens and then say they want to keep all of them. 

[Linkup to Texture Thursday]  

So she's home, her new home.  She seems to not be suffering ill effects from the surgery -- she's been playing up a storm, enjoying the new toys I got her to celebrate her new status.  And a nice soft pillow for her to sleep on.  Little Buttercup is ours!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Kitties


Well, the ice has been broken with our old cat, October -- for the second morning in a row, he marched over to Buttercup's crate and stood there looking in, as if to say, "What are you up to?"  I let her out and they have been playing ever since.

Not a great picture, but it gives you the idea.  I got the scratching post yesterday, and Buttercup likes it a lot, especially sitting on top of the post.  She also loves the little toys, as does October.  My biggest complaint at this point is that she's hopping up on the dining room table at every opportunity, so I'm trying the "time out" method, which worked when my son was a toddler, but I don't know if it works with cats.

Not that my son got up on the dining room table, but when he was about a year old, he discovered that he could turn the volume on the TV waaay up.  Unfortunately, we laughed the first time he did it, giving him the impression that this was a good trick to entertain Mom and Dad.  Since this was in the days before remotes came with TVs, around the 10th time we had to get up and turn it down while  watching The Cosby Show, it wasn't quite as funny any more.  All the "no-no!"s in the world didn't seem to make any difference, so finally I just started scooping him up, every time he did it, and putting him in his crib, just for a minute or two, saying "time out!" in a cheerful voice.  It took about 24 hours of doing that, but finally he put his hand out to crank that knob and stopped, as if to say, "Ah, maybe not . . . " and the problem was solved.

Do you think it will work with an 8-week-old kitty?  Put her in the crate for two minutes?  She is quite the aerial artiste, somehow getting herself onto a high shelf in the bookcase, and then becoming quite perplexed about how she's going to get down . . .

Saturday, June 4, 2011



Congratulations to the winners of my May giveaway:

Ms. Becky

Thanks for participating, and I hope you enjoy your prizes!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kitty Love


Gosh, I haven't posted since Sunday!  That's what fostering a kitty and art journaling simultaneously will do to you.  I will continue this post a little later, but wanted to get this going -- I took a picture of the kitty last night (we think her name is Little Buttercup now but she hasn't confirmed it) and wound up texturing it -- first time I've textured a portrait (as you know, I usually do flowers . . . ).

Anyway, I'll be back in a bit to tell you more about Buttercup and show some more journal pages.  Just wanted to link up to TT -- 

[Later] Back again -- I needed to sneak out to the store while she was asleep.  She is the most playful kitten, climbing and leaping and doing somersaults and chasing her little mousie around the living room -- oh, and making sneak attacks on our 25-lb black cat (the previously blogged about October) . . . who runs away from her.  First time we've ever seen him run.

So, my daughter and I are volunteers at the local animal shelter.  For a while we went every week, with the job of taking dogs out and playing with them -- a tough gig, but someone's got to do it.  Then it just got to be too much (what with my 150-mile commute to work), so we took a leave of absence.  But now we're helping out in other ways -- fostering kitties, taking dogs home for "sleepovers" (you pick a dog up on Sunday night when they close and bring it back Tuesday morning when they open again, to give the dog some socialization, family time, all that), helping out at events like showing potential adoptees at PetSmart and so on.  It's fun and I recommend it, especially if you like animals but can't have one permanently.

We've had kittens before, but they were skittish and hissy and not fond of being held.  Buttercup is completely different -- totally people focused, loves to be with you (her favorite spot is on the keyboard of my laptop -- while I'm trying to use it), is extremely funny, sleeps all night quietly in her crate -- she is just adorable.  I may have a hard time giving this one up . . . You'll notice on this one that she has a scrape on her nose -- she came that way!  It didn't happen on our watch.  I tidied her up in Photoshop for the portrait.