Monday, November 30, 2009


Tractor Supply was having a sale!  We get pretty excited about these kinds of things, especially when they offer 12 seedcakes for $8!!!  We have a lot of hungry birds to feed around here.

Although we feed year round, we really pop it up a few notches when the winter comes.  Sitting knitting or quilting in front of the french doors is so enhanced by the feathered entertainment that goes on at the feeders.  First, you have to prepare the shepherd's hooks with this  -  good old fashioned Crisco.

I grease about halfway up - this is more than enough to prevent the squirrels from sitting in the feeders and devouring every last seed.  It doesn't matter to them that they are fed on the ground and away from the bird population.  They are greedy and relentless and downright destructive so they have to be 'schooled'.  Ha!  Plus, it is really amusing to watch their antics - they jump on the pole and then S L O W L Y slide down....
After we've cleaned the glass doors inside and out, we start sorting the Tractor Supply haul - putting it into storage in the potting shed.  The summer feeders get put away too - these are the ones that tend to gum up and freeze when the snow comes.

The Buddha keeps a benevolent eye on the comings and goings in the potting shed.  I always leave a little something for the inhabitants and their families.

The new feeders are set out and filled and the dining begins!

If you are wondering where the birds are, I can tell you - they are perched in the New Dawn rose, waiting for me to go inside!

I've been checking the Duncraft catalogue and I think that this year I will spring for one of those deluxe feeders which feature a wide dome to protect the birds on snowy days.  I love my birds.  When I come outdoors to feed them in the morning there is a rustle and a whirring and the call goes up, beginning with the bluejays, the raconteurs of the bird world.  The announcement spreads quickly and suddenly the still air is filled with birdsong.  Yes, you did notice safflower seed with the others.  I hold back on that, dolling it out like precious stones.  It is my one indulgence - I use it to persuade the shy cardinals to return.  They are a selective group, but I always win out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It's The Bean's boyfriend's birthday - CM! Phew - this protecting of the family's anonymity is tiresome!  Anyway - HAPPY BIRTHDAY C!  We all hope that you have a wonderful day - that you don't have to work, and that you get to spend at least some of it eating lactose-free cake and enjoying the beach!  We'll be finishing up that carrot cake that you used to love - but don't worry - it wasn't that great this year (NOT!)

This image was taken last Thanksgiving - before you had to get off, and stay off, the dairy altogether.  You are amazing.  And not just because you have great muscles willpower.  You are a genuinely good person and your existence gives me hope.  You are funny and kind and extraordinarily patient and considerate.  You are smart and resourceful and have amazing work ethic.  And you love, and are good to my daughter.  So that makes you a PRINCE in my book.  We love you and we miss you.  HAPPY 25th!

Did I mention those muscles?

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It's been a quiet few days around here - blessedly so.  I love the long Thanksgiving weekend - it's sights and sounds and quiet tempo.  Oh, and the smells - the aroma of the turkey carcass boiling down with fresh herbs - the extra casserole of cornbread stuffing baking in a dish filled with water - the corn chowder coming to a simmer - its shrimp and crab swirling in the cream.  We've been eating a lot of really excellent homemade food.  

Can-Do-Guy installed a woodstove in the barn while I sewed the binding on my daughter's new comforter.  He also installed motion detector lights on the potting shed so that, in his words, when I pull into the darkened drive, the lights will come on like a prison yard and I may be blinded!  Enough so that I could possibly drive THROUGH the potting shed!  He's funny.  I'll take my chances, thank you.  It's been a struggle these last few weeks of daylight savings time - we have no street lights on our country road and when I tell you that it's dark out there, believe me, it is PITCH BLACK!  It's not the two-legged intruder that I fear in the dark - it's more the four legged, black and white striped one that I have no interest in stumbling over!!!

There was blocking ...

Love that picot edge, but this sweater is SMALL - although the photo makes it appear huge. The front bands need to be knitted and applied after blocking occurs, and according to my calculations - it will end up being somewhere between a small and a medium.  Neither of those sizes describe me.   Someone is going to receive a really pretty holiday gift this year!  But I'd like one for myself, so I cast on Briar Rose's 'Fourth of July' and combined that with a few silk noro skeins - I'm liking this creation A LOT...

I try not to gush when describing Chris's fibers, but really - if you haven't had the pleasure of her dye pot and lovely fiber, well, you NEED to score some - you'll never regret it, not ever.  I can hardly wait to finish this knit so that I can hurry over to the Anne Hanson 'Hillflowers' shawl that I have on the needles in Briar Rose's  'Grandmother's Blessing'.  I know that once I finish this shawl it will become an extremely functional part of my wardrobe.  I'm thinking about wearing it to bed.

I've started to pull out the Christmas decorations.  I like this gourd-made-into-a-night-light very much.  It serves two purposes - one is to get the holiday juices flowing, the other  - a bit more diabolical.....

The Can-Do-Guy and I have some issues.  I want you to look at the backdrop of the image above.  Notice the plaster and lathe (complete with horsehair which you may or may not see).  THREE years ago in February, on the coldest damn night of the year, I came home to find Can-Do-Guy's work crew SHOVELING the plaster walls of my hallway out the front door.  I shit kid you not!!!!  To say that I was alarmed would be putting it lightly.  I asked - why?  He replied that the 180 year plaster walls had the consistency of cheesecake and that they HAD TO GO!  Ok.

But as I mentioned - it's been nearly three long years, three long years WITHOUT CEILINGS AND WALLS IN THE HALLWAY.   When are they coming back?   Every time I bring this up, a fight ensues.  I am lost.  I have no idea how to steer this train wreck back on track - and I would appreciate any and all comments - does anyone out there have a tried and true formula for getting home improvement projects up and running?  

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I wish you all a blessed bountiful Thanksgiving.  We rose with the dawn to rinse the brine off of Thomasina Turkey and pack Harley into the truck - off to try our luck again.  This time we had to wait for the Gatekeeper, but I think that it was worth it.

There were a few other brave souls waiting to gain access.  Harley was joined to Can-Do-Guy, keeping close at heel.  I think that the strangeness of the bridge, coupled with company on our morning walk confused him a bit!  He liked who was at the other end of his leash

As we neared the Poughkeepsie side, we could see Can-Do-Guy's old neighborhood, including the elementary school that he and his brothers attended.

There was such a dreamy quality up there, engulfed as we were in soft grayness, ethereal, other worldly. 

As we started back, the fog began to lift a bit.  Did I mention my fear of height?  I was happy with the fog, happy not to have to see the distance from the rail to the water!  I might have not had the courage I needed to make the crossing if it were clear!

This fine fellow was very determined, but he agreed to pause to have his photo taken.  He reminded of of an urchin - the kind you might see in the street 50 years ago (theme of the Godfather in the background!)  

On the way home we talked about the last time that we went to a lofty lookout. It was in September of 2001.  Family had come in from Colorado and we took the train to the city.  We went, by boat, out to see the Statue of Liberty.

We went, by foot, through the financial district, strolling without purpose or plan.  It was one of those perfect autumn days - an extended Labor Day weekend and the city was so deserted.  

We went, by elevator, to the top of the world - the twin towers, where on top we wandered and enjoyed the balmy day and each other's company.  We stayed on that perch for nearly an hour - marveling at the sights below and beyond.  

Three days later it was all gone.  Destroyed.

Hug your loved ones especially tightly today.  Remember those that cannot join you.  Keep gratitude in your heart - give thanks for the gift of this day, every single moment.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Last year this little wonder arrived in time for Christmas:

Maybe a clearer image -

It is an exquisitely embroidered felt piece that my friend Pauline made for me.  The details are astonishing - one bajillion times more impressive than my photography of it!  And then - another parcel last month ...

Again, my images are quite pathetic compared to the splendor of Pauline's hand work.  She takes silk thread to another dimension.  That's just the beginning of what she can do - over the years I have collected her treasures - objects that mean the world to me.  

This was made from vintage kimono silk and stuffed with pine needles - even after all of these years you can press your nose into it and inhale a piney forest.

This was the first doll that I received as an adult - Pauline intuitively knew that I needed this small gem.  She has graced every guest room bed for the last 15 years or so.  Her silk dupioni (sp) dress is as brilliant today as it was when she arrived.

Anyway - getting back to the felted embroidered pieces, Pauline.  I have the 'partridge', I have the 'pear tree'.  Next Christmas I'll be hoping for the turtle doves!!

Monday, November 23, 2009


She tink dis new toy make it ok.  It not.  Look at head - Rod Stewart.  Look at ear - girley ear.

Look at feet - all even and toes sharp pointy.  Smell bad - dumb ting on neck - dumb, hates it.  Got to go in big store to get toy, dat fun.  Everyone like me, pat me head and make goo goo noises.

Dis new toy ok, keeps it.

Person Post Script:  He smells divine and he is squeaky clean - to the tune of $48 (plus big tip) and worth every penny.  He does not like going to the groomer, but let me tell you - he is just irresistible when he is finished!  His groomer, wonderful Debby, tells me that he is the only one who didn't bark and carry on - SUCH a good boy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It's been a vanilla kind of weekend around here.  

Bringing the good woolens - the tried and true sweaters out of hibernation.  I loved making this sweater 15 years ago and I STILL look forward to wearing it.

'Bella's Mittens; by Marielle Henault - brilliant - get over there -  These lovelies were inspired by mittens worn in the movie "Twilight" by Kristen Stewart.  I cannot even pretend that I am interested or following that phenomena, but I was swept away by the beauty and function of this pattern.  I'm using Cascade's Ecological Wool, size 8 dpns.   Absolutely LOVE these mittens!

Getting ready for the Turkey day.  I'm going to brine the bird this year.  If anyone out there has suggestions -I am all ears!  In the spirit of the holidays I took one small piece out today - my wonderful quilt and pie shop that my lovely friend Susie gave to me.  It is one of the first boxes that I reach for every single year.

The Bean is struggling with a particularly nasty flu and staff infection.  She spent the entire day in the hospital ER yesterday and is feeling pretty low.  If you have extras - please send good wishes her way.  

Saturday, November 21, 2009


All week I planned and schemed and plotted - I had grandiose ideas about ALL of the UFO's I would complete this weekend.  With time to spare.  (clears throat) Well.  My trusty old electrolux decided that it was time to hang up its hoses.  As in - Saturday morning DOA.  Now, in a household such as ours, where terrier hair competes with retriever hair competes with skanky cat hair - one cannot be without a vacuum cleaner.  So .. I did what any red blooded knitter/quilter hater-of-housework would do - I sent the Can-Do-Guy off to Lowes and he returned with this:

Check out its pedigree:

Can-Do-Guy assembled this bad boy and ran it back and forth over the dining room carpet and let me be the first to say - Mr. Dyson, I adore you.  You are my Hero.  That's all I have.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When I arrive home at 5:00pm the light is already gone.  There's not a trace of sunset's brilliance left in the western sky, or a slant of light filtering through our pretty stained glass windows.  Darkness.  I take the dogs out with a flashlight and pray that the coyotes haven't crept onto the property.  This weekend I plan to campaign for motion sensor lights.  I don't like surprises in the dark - especially the kind that have the potential to hurt my good dogs.

One of the other annoying things about this early nightfall is the limitation that it places upon taking decent photographs!  I have nothing to show - lots of work, no images.  I have a little something on the needles which involves Briar Rose coupled with silk Noro .... it is pleasing in its early stages.  I am not knitting monogamously, but I AM holding true to the commitment I made toward finishing old projects.  Really.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This is my sewing table - I cleaned it off so as to impress those of you who might actually believe I work in a tidy environment!  It only takes about 3 seconds for this to become unmanageable.  I've spent a lot of time in this space over the weekend.  I've done a good deal of soul searching.

 I think that I have substantial gypsy blood moving through my veins because I've been considering a move.  I've become too sedentary, too resistant to change.  I'd like to see more of this world, meet new people and I'm serious about seeing the Serengeti before it and I both disappear!  For the immediate moment, I am tied to this area due to family obligation.  But it's never too soon to start to formulate a plan.  Sometimes dreams, lofty or slight,can be the force that move you through your day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


You left, You saw, You conquered.  Now come home, please.

 Missing The Bean.  The holidays are coming and nothing feels good this year.  A warning - this will NOT be a chirper entry!  I had strange and unsettling dreams all night and woke with a grievous and despondent attitude.  My family feels disconnected - my father is dying, my mother is depressed (that's putting it mildly) my son is insulating, my sister - I don't talk about her.  And as you know, my daughter moved about 1500 miles away in January.  How can Christmas arrive without The Bean here?  I know, this is the talk of a selfish mother.  But I miss my oldest child in ways that words cannot express.

I woke to the sound of rain on the roof.  All of the leaves are on the ground.  Grey skies.  As I sit here, I am fighting the impulse to pack up the car and head north toward Cooperstown where my cousin lives.  There's an open invitation waiting for me there, that, and her good heart, her wicked sense of humor, and multiple cups of tea.  We can walk the dogs for uninterrupted miles and she will point out the old Huron burial sites. We can ride the horses, or go to her husband's multiple gravel pits and look for fossils (it's fun, really).  There is always an astonishingly eclectic auction to attend where they practically GIVE the goods away - really, you'll keep looking over your shoulder as you walk your treasures out of the building!  We can walk along Glimmer Lake and pretend that we are Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook (no one wants to be Wah-to-Wah because of her unfortunate young demise!).  We can do what we always do when we are together - dream of creating some unspeakably beautiful and valuable art that the entire world will recognize and embrace and pay millions of dollars to view.  And then we'll skip off to Nantucket or Block Island to fill our days with art and kids and dogs and the ocean.  All of this involves wearing great hand-knitted sweaters.  Of course.

Cancel that order.  I have a weekend unfolding in front of me.  It was what I waited for, what kept me going at the day job all week long.  Escaping is not in the plans.  Maybe another cup of coffee and upstairs I go.  I'm pretty sure that I hear the Christmas Tree piece calling my name.  If anyone is out there - how do YOU combat the seasonal blues?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The new avatar is a piece that was nicknamed LAPCATS by Linda Hibbert whose quilting signature is all over it!  This quilt was created to raise money for a local animal shelter.  It hasn't been auctioned yet, but I suspect that it will be instrumental in the fund drive as it is quite remarkable (if I do say so myself!).  The patterns are all Linda's and can be purchased through her site.  Two of my quilter friends each did a block and I embellished the borders with hundreds of drop beads.  It was really difficult to let this one go!

It received a little attention at a local quilt show.  For the most part, my quilts are not well received locally.  It's a mystery to me.  There are so few people doing the paper piecing in this area - the judges just skim over my entries.  Maybe they don't consider mine to be "real" quilting - what IS real quiltmaking?  Would these older blocks qualify?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It's Bubbha's birthday - he's given his family seven years of absolute joy and delight.  (May we have MANY more!) You've never met such a fine fellow - he embodies all that is good about the canine world.  Mostly, he teaches his humans about unconditional love - a lesson that we need to relearn, over and over again. He is a patient teacher.  He never writes us off when we have a 'moment' over the dirty clothing on the bathroom floor.  He doesn't think less of us when we have a hissy fit upon reaching the automated messenger at the doctor's office.  When we stay away too long and forget to leave a light on, when we inadvertently leave him outdoors and it begins to rain (and he has to throw himself against the door to remind us to GET HIM!) - he never holds our less than noble moments against us.  He is cheerful and glad to see his people, No. Matter. What.  Let's be more like Bubbha.

Happy Birthday, you wonderful gentle soul.  Thank you for your love and your light in the world.