Friday, February 29, 2008

My Favorite Things

"Black cats and witches and strange apparitions, Midnight and moonbeams and magical visions, Pumpkins and potions and bats on the wing, These are a few of my favorite things".....

(There - now you'll have the tune in your head all day just like I do!)

With limited time to paint this week, I wanted to create something with all Halloween's magical elements rolled into one; something that literally SCREAMS "Halloween", and hope I've succeeded. It's listed now on eBay, but I accidentally listed it to end on a Monday MORNING - eek! My listings generally end in the afternoon or evening, but my head being elsewhere these days, I clicked the "list your item" button too soon, so there it is. Painting this one was a cheerful respite in an otherwise challenging week, but then, painting is always a respite; a sort of food for the soul, and much cheaper than therapy or a day at the spa. ;)

At any rate, I hope it brings a smile.

On the home front, John is still suffering from complications following heart surgery, so please keep those prayers and good thoughts coming. And many, many thanks to all those who've sent messages and emails - your support and encouragement lifts both our spirits, and really helps us get though this difficult time.

That's about it for now.....Look for an ornament giveaway very soon, something to mark my 100th blog post, and look for a very special black cat piece in the next few days. :)

Artful Blessings,
~ Carolee

Monday, February 25, 2008

One Step Forward....

Two steps back...

Just a quick update. After a difficult episode yesterday morning, John is back in ICU with fluid on both lungs and around the heart, and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). They're treating it, and say he's "moving in the right direction" but it's still scary.

Continued prayers are appreciated.

Love to all,
~ Carolee

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What a Week!

It's been quite an eventful week....

John's heart surgery on Tuesday was followed by a couple of days spent exactly as I'd expected, traveling to and from the hospital and spending time at his bedside.

Then came Thursday.....

After a nice long visit, most of which was spent knitting as John caught up on some much needed sleep, I ran a couple of errands, picked Cadie and Cosmo (our crazy Australian Shepherds) up at Doggie Daycare, and headed home. Getting a pair of sixty five pound dogs out of a Volkswagon Beetle is a trick under the best of circumstances, and my neighbor's son bursting out of their front door at that exact moment was NOT the best. The Aussies went nuts, barking and circling, winding their leashes around my ankles, knocking me to the pavement, spraining my left wrist, and bruising me in places I didn't know I had. The worst part was that that with my left arm in incredible pain, and my right holding on to the dogs, I was unable to rise.

No, I take that back. That wasn't the worst part. The worst part was this same neighbor and her son sitting in their van as it warmed up, watching me struggle for a full five minutes in 26 degree weather, injured, my purse strewn all over the pavement, trying desperately to hold on to two large dogs....and....NOTHING. Just watched, then when the car was warmed up, she drove right past me. Nice, eh?

I eventually managed (thankful it was my left and not my right hand that suffered the damage) but couldn't help but wonder who in the heck would shovel all the snow we were expecting the next day? Thankfully, another far more considerate neighbor came to my rescue and did the digging out. More ice and snow was expected today, so at John's insistence, I stayed home again.

The good news is that I managed to paint something, the tea tray shown above, titled "Stargazers", listed now on eBay. I hope it brings a smile. :)

I also painted a little ornament, a sparkly jack-o-lantern, which I'll post tomorrow or the next day as that giveaway I've been promising - so do check back.

Right now I'm off to make a pot of tea and call John. I miss him like crazy and can't wait until he's home again, although they're now talking about the possibility of rehab for a few days first.

Many thanks again to all of you who've been so helpful and supportive during this time, and for all those sending prayers and encouragement - it means a lot, and I love you all!

Until next time....

~ Carolee

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Affairs of the Heart, continued......

I'm happy to report that John's surgery was a huge success, and to quote the surgeon we "couldn't have asked for a better outcome". The surgery took considerably longer than expected because they found the damage to be more extensive than the ultrasounds originally indicated, but the surgeon was nevertheless able to repair, rather than replace the valve. So no coumadin (yay!)

I saw him last night in ICU, about two hours after surgery, and he was semi-conscious, although in quite a lot of pain as they couldn't give him any pain meds due to a blood pressure drop. He's much better today, although still extremely uncomfortable, as they're administering painkillers very cautiously. He's still in ICU and is expected to stay there until at least tomorrow.

Thanks very much for the calls and emails, the prayers and good thoughts, and thanks again to local friends for respecting John's wish not to receive visitors. He should be home in a few days, and will answer emails and calls then.

That's it for now.....It's been a LONG couple of days, and I'm hugely releived, but also completely fried. Off to take care of a few things around the house, and then collapse. :)

Love to all,
~ Carolee

Monday, February 18, 2008

Affairs of the Heart

Just a quick update....

Assuming there are no last minute changes, the surgery to repair or replace John's damaged mitral valve is scheduled for tomorrow morning down in Bryn Mawr. We're told it's about a 5 hour operation, after which he'll be in ICU for a couple of days, then moved to a regular room. I'll be spending most of the week there, and leaving the furkids to the capable hands of friends and doggie daycare, but do hope to pop in here periodically with progress reports. Apologies in advance if I don't get to personal emails as promptly as usual during this time.

He's expected to stay in the hospital all week, with recovery at home taking several more weeks, and has been teasing me that he needs to get a bell. I'm not sure he understands just how quickly they're going to want him up and around, lol. Not to mention the necessity of it when you live in a house with only one bathroom, and that on the second floor. ;)

On the art front, I'll have just one item listed this week, but it is, as my father used to say, a doozy; a children's Halloween chair which is shaping up to be quite the magical piece. I found an Amish woodworker recently who handmakes the most wonderful children's furniture, and after purchasing one of these chairs for a commission, I just had to paint one for eBay as well. I really struggled with whether to participate in the eBay seller boycott in progress, and whether to add one more thing to manage in the midst of everything else this week, but the bottom line is that the income needs to continue....I may add a "buy it now" option to this one though, so anyone interested, please stay tuned later today.

That's about for now, other than thanks, as always, to those of you who've sent prayers and positive thoughts for John, and please keep them coming. When they stop his heart tomorrow morning, I feel as though they'll be stopping mine as well, and it won't start again until I see him tomorrow afternoon or evening. Whoever coined the phrases "my heart" and "my better half" wasn't kidding. He's both, and I'm counting on this surgery to give us many more happy years together.

~ Carolee

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Approaching Anniversary!

It's hard to believe this is my 48th blogspot post, and added to the previous 46 posts to my website under the old format (back in the days I needed the web designer to add them) that makes 94 posts. Just six more and I'll have a "bloggiversary" (I think that's what they call it, anyway). :)

What to do?

A giveaway of course! Assuming I can squeeze one more piece in this week (no small feat with John's heart surgery also approaching) I'll post a photo this weekend. Probably a Halloween ornament or small box, not sure exactly.

So please check back for details....

Off to finish a commission now, and begin work on another ebay offering. Have a happy and CREATIVE Thursday, all. :)

~ Carolee

Monday, February 11, 2008

To Everything There is a Season

When we moved east eleven years ago, one of the things I was most excited about was the chance to live "in season" again. Not that the opportunity wasn't there during our years in southern California - seasons change everywhere. But without the obvious and drastic climate change, it didn't really feel like much of a cycle...And while living by the ocean had it's perks (I still miss strolling the Seal Beach Pier, watching the sun set), it always felt a little strange to see people in shorts out buying Christmas trees, or celebrating Valentine's Day in eighty degree weather.

Seasonal living, for me, is filled with not only an appreciation of the current cycle, but also looking forward to the next one. Not a bad way to live a life - completely connected to one moment, but eagerly anticipating the next.

We're deep into winter here (although not nearly as drastically as our friends in the midwest!) and I must say I'm enjoying every bit of it; the shorter days and slower pace, the snuggling in; burning candles, baking bread, reading good books, and of course always creating....

But the seed catalogs are arriving in the mail, my neighbor's garden has a few bulbs popping up, the fish in the koi pond can be seen near the surface occasionally, and my thoughts (and work) are turning to spring. The anticipation was so strong yesterday, it found it's way into a new "Enchanted Garden" sign, shown above and listed now on eBay. I was thinking of my own garden as I painted, imagining which herbs I'll plant this year, wondering if last year's lavender will return, considering the relative merits of planting catnip, and so on.

Look for more spring inspired work soon, and for photos of my herb garden once the danger of frost has passed, and I can begin planting. And enjoy the blessings each season has to offer....

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Until next time,
~ Carolee

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wicked Good Pie

The perfect recipe for the new pie plate, listed now on eBay.....

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 - 2 cups pecan halves
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
Beat eggs slightly in medium bowl. Beat in sugar, and then blend in syrup, butter or margarine, vanilla, salt, and pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
Bake on the lower rack of a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking 35 to 45 minutes; the pie will be brown and slightly puffed. Let cool to room temperature. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream....Enjoy!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


John's new heart surgery date is Tuesday, February 19th, unless there's an opening sooner, in which case they'll call us. Thanks so much to everyone for all the prayers and positive thoughts, and please keep them coming. He's increasingly tired, sleeping 16+ hours a day now, and we're both more than a little upset that last weekend's events made this postponement necessary. But it is what it is, and the best we can do is stay positive, and know that he'll be feeling better very soon.

Love to all,
~ Carolee

Monday, February 4, 2008

When It Rains.....

It pours. Or to quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"......

We live in what is commonly called a "twin" here on the east coast, also known as a "shotgun house"; one of those long, narrow dwellings built over a century ago (1892 to be exact), with a wall adjoining the other half of the dwelling, and set very close to the street. Our next door neighbors are renters, and apparently their landlord hasn't cleaned their furnace in about five years. Predictably, it quit working. Yesterday. When repairmen were finally called in to fix it, it backfired badly, kicking smoke all over their house and - via the basement and return ducts - ours. LOTS of smoke. At which point the repair guys left, refusing to complete the repair because it would necessitate paying someone overtime.

Now, said neighbor is a kind soul, but assertiveness is not a word that leaps to mind when describing him. So....rather than see them remain without heat for several days, I called their property management company (also hired by their landlord) and threatened to call the fire department and the EPA if they didn't fix my neighbor's furnace. They assured me they'd take care of it. In the meantime, I developed a very bad sore throat, and John became dizzy. So we called the fire department anyway, just to be on the safe side.

Which turned out to be a good call. They told us to get outside immediately, showed up with fire trucks, police, etc., shut down the street, took carbon monoxide readings (which were positive), set up huge fans and blew out both houses. After which (and after explaining John's upcoming heart surgery) they sent us to the emergency room to be tested, and we BOTH tested with carbon monoxide levels equivilent to that of heavy smokers - NOT GOOD, and we spent several hours in the ER wearing oxygen masks. No clue where our neighbor went, but we didn't see him at the hospital.

Big fun.

Fast forward to today, when at the request of the ER doc, we informed John's surgeon of yesterday's doings. And guess what?

The surgery which was scheduled tomorrow morning is now postponed until next week. They want to give it time for everything to "clear".

We are NOT happy campers. John was soooooooo ready to get this over and done.....

So thank you all for the thoughts and prayers and please keep them coming. I'll post updates and send emails as we find out anything new. We may have a new surgery date as soon as tomorrow, not sure. Stay tuned....

~ Carolee

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Happy Valloween!

Just have to share my sparkly little offering for the EHAG "Valloween" challenge. I had a lot of fun with this one. For more Halloween/Valentine's Day crossover art and eye candy, just search ebay for "EHAG". :)

~ Carolee

Friday, February 1, 2008


I'll keep this fairly short today, as there's much to do....TWO of the eBay groups of which I'm a member have "challenge" deadlines fast approaching, and I need to rise to the occasion and finish some work.

The first is the EHAG (Eclectic Halloween Artists' Group) "Valloween" challenge, wherein members are asked to create something combining Halloween and Valentines Day. Look for a sexy "Wicked" witch box to be listed later today. :)

The second is the AHAO (American Holiday Artists Ornaments) "Star" challenge, asking members to create a Valentine's Day ornament incorporating a star. Strangely enough, look for a pair of kitty cats to be listed on Sunday for this one. :)

It's a good day for creating here - dark and dismal out, with freezing rain falling and making the trees look like glass. If time allows I'm thinking a big kettle of homemade soup may be in order later this afternoon....minestrone maybe? Yep - with a dollop of pesto and hot italian bread...the perfect rainy day supper.

In the meantime, I'm off to light some candles, brew a pot of tea, and paint that witch....

Back with photos tomorrow!

~ Carolee