Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's time to take down the Christmas Santas and the tree.  I might have a struggle on my hands -  

Bella seems to think that any December conifer which finds its way indoors belongs to her. . . so she has been displaced - she was pretty vocal about it.

It's always hard to say goodbye to Christmas - but we have something quite wonderful to look forward to in the new year.  It's a secret and I can't let the cat out of the bottle box bag just yet.  Soon.

It might have something to do with one of these three characters ...  (is anybody out there?)

Knitting and quilting progress tomorrow!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I hope that you all had a wonderful peace-filled holiday.  We were lucky enough to have my son and my partner's daughters here for dinner.  The girls feasted on steamed clams and huge crab legs, while my son, the carnivore, was treated to not one, but TWO gorgeous filet mignon!  Earlier in the day we took breakfast to my mom - french toast made with that thick Texas Toast bread and homemade sausage patties.  Yum.  This holiday has always been about the food and it was excellent.  We missed the Bean - she had spent Christmas Eve in the Emergency Room - diagnosed with pneumonia.  That poor child.  Tomorrow is her birthday and although she is not feeling well, she did receive a large parcel from her mom which should make her smile.  She had some important news that I am eager to share, but have not been given the green light - yet.

The biggest surprise, for me, was the gift that my sister sent to me.  My sister joins the ranks of women who raise needlepoint to an art form.  Forget any pre-conceived notion you might have about pre-stamped designs stretched over unruly thick plastic canvas - you know, that stuff you walk past (quickly) at Michael's.  She uses the finest materials and she doesn't limit herself to the basic continental stitch.  When you look at her work, you are viewing a potpourri of experience.  Over the years she has created canvases that are truly drool-worthy.  Canvases that you want to grab and race out of her house with!  Canvases that you just have to hold in your lap and sit and pat.  One of my new year's resolutions will be to get over to Connecticut to photograph some of her staggeringly gorgeous work.       

Some time ago I had sent one of my canvases (yes, I went through a SERIOUS needlepoint phase) to her because I thought that it would make a nice addition to her collection.  She and I share the love of the sea, so the motif was right as were the colors.  In the past, she has generously accepted my canvases and taken them to a shop that finishes in extraordinary ways, and then given them back as gifts - that's a post for another day!  So the big surprise was that she sent this piece back to me, when, in fact, it had been created for her! What had gone to Connecticut as a humble decorative textile returned in the form of an elegant little foot stool.  God help the person who tries to put their feet on it!

I feel strange accepting this back, as it has lived in her home for quite some time.  I'm sure that this will pass!  I am amazed that after all of these years, this piece appears as pristine as the day it was completed.  Needlepoint may very well outlive all of us - providing, of course, that we shelter it from its enemy - the moth.

This image doesn't quite cut it - you cannot see the little wooden ball feet that raise the cushion up and off of the floor.  Have any of you knitters and quilters needlepoint pasts that you can share?  I'd love to hear about them.

I don't have to work today and we woke up to icy conditions, so it's going to be a sewing/cooking kind of day.  I'm planning a huge batch of snowball cookies and after I clean up my sewing room, I have a special project to get busy with.  See you later!

Adding a post script on this day - Mr. Harley stole and eat 1/2 pound of unsalted butter, wrappers included, while I was in my sewing room.  The snowball cookies may have to wait for another day!  As for Mr. Butter Butt - I'm sure that there will be repercussions ... Good Lord!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


My dearest Pauline,
No, I did not receive a parcel from you.  We had a hellacious storm which hit south of us - exactly where the US Postal service gathers packages - perhaps they are still digging out from under...

But wait!  When I pulled into the driveway this evening,(having gotten out of work early) there was enough light to see that unusual box lying against the front door!  Since there are no steps leading to the porch or the front door, the UPS man and the FedEx guy never leave a package there.  But now I am remembering - we had rain or snow last weekend and one of those lovely couriers was looking out for you and I.  They decided against leaving your package in the open, and instead,  pitched it under cover of the front porch.  Where it rested, undisturbed, for days.  

But then it gets even more complicated.  

The Can-do-Guy always boards up the front door with cotton batting after we put the Christmas tree up.  This means that there is no access to the porch at all - the batting prevents the north wind from whistling through this old house and we are cozy and forgetful - the front porch no longer exists for us until spring arrives; we just do not open it at all - not to shake out a quilt or a rug, not to empty a dust pan, not to allow the dogs a trot back and forth in the fresh air!  

Oh, Pauline - you really are amazing.

Dupioni silk - with a hand appliqued batik ribbon .... the most elegant bag, the stitches so unbelievably tiny and perfectly spaced - how can one woman create such perfection ...

As if this bag were not enough to lift the spirits - there was a gift inside -

My dear friend, you made me the most elegant wrap that I have ever seen - the generous cut and contour completely enfold me - there are no words that can express the wonder and appreciation and LOVE that I feel when I am engulfed in your work.  Thank you.  Thank you.  You remembered that I am completely smitten with anything paisley.  Your lovely stitches and color choices and this wool- is it Italian viyella?  Dreamy.  And back to the packaging ... oh my.  I can totally envision ALL of my lace shawls and sweaters tucked away in your delicious bags.  Imagine opening the cedar chest to find these lovelies stacked, each cocooning one of my creations. 

What I think is that you MUST begin to offer your magic to the world.  What do you think? Would you mind if I linked you?  Are you ready to present your silk confections to an admiring crowd?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's been really hard to get excited about Christmas this year.  I had to face up to something that I never noticed before - when you move forward into the unknown future, the memories fade, but traces linger and it is that resin, that deposit, that holds you back and makes you hesitate.  I'm not sure how to honor this season without my children and my father present.  We're in a holding pattern.  But I am happy to say that I accomplished two things today: the tree was trimmed with lights, and I placed the Christmas quilt over my bed.

I'm ready to move forward.  Baby steps.

This is my Christmas Wish - Peace. On. Earth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


When my upstate cousin (you remember her - the Gravel-Pit-Gurl) and I were children, we were often brought together because of our common age.  Most of our enormous clan lived in Westchester, before it was fashionable to do so, while my immediate family lived in the Hudson River Valley - an hour north.   Our mothers-who-are-sisters, would sit in the kitchen at Mamie's house, catching up over cups of coffee while we ran off together in pursuit of all things wild. 

  We would ford untamed Yorktown streams near the Croton Reservoir,  searching for crawdads.  We knew which dark wet crevices to quietly approach, where the water flowed over flat rocks and emptied into still shallow pools.  We learned to turn these rocks over swiftly, holding our rusty coffee cans in the path of the speedy crustaceans who faithfully scooted in reverse, right smack into our traps.  After we collected and compared our captives, we released them, arguing over whose crawfish were bigger and faster.  On the way back to Mamie's house we would snap off tender sassafras branches that grew wild and chew them for that root-beery flavor - better than any soda pop.

 Growing bored, we might press ourselves into the crotch of a pear tree and snack on the hard green fruit, pelting our younger and unsuspecting cousins as they passed under us with the spent cores.  Life was good.  My memories of my cousin are always like playing hookey - stolen and treasured moments.  Most people spend their lives trying to leave home.  Then they spend the rest of their lives trying to get home.  When I am with my cousin, I always feel as though I have come home.

She is, as I have mentioned, an artist and a rebel.  She's been using her art to question authority and promote reform for as long as I can remember.  Like that time she carved a 14 foot totem out of a log, using a chain saw.  She strategically placed this painted behemoth to straddle the curb of the road where motorists were endangering her child with their massively inappropriate speeds.  It got their attention, that's for certain.  They. Slowed. Down.
When I am asked to define my cousin's work the term 'outsider art' comes to mind.  Not that she's ever been incarcerated!  Just that hers is not mainstream anything -  comprised as it is of found objects, childhood dreams, passionate views and the belief in everything.  Like elves and fairies.  Heaven and hell.  Mermaids and unicorns and certainly Santa Claus.

So I share this piece of holiday magic that she made for me several years ago.  It is partly carved, partly sculpted, purely magical.  One half is covered in an organic moss, the other in tacky silk flowers (SORRY cuz, you know how I feel about artificial flowers!) If you look closely you will see that the carved Santa is blowing a Christmas bubble.  She's something else, that cousin of mine.

And then this ...

Is this a riot, or what?  My daughter finds it frightening!  She refuses to look at it.

Monday, December 14, 2009


These are the first socks that I ever made.  I measured Can-Do-Guy's feet and bought some Morehouse merino (thinking that $48 was a lot of money for socks, but ... never mind!) and here you have them!  He never wore them, claiming that they were too warm for work boots.  I pointed out that he could wear them indoors - like TV socks and immediately realized, by the expression on his face, that we were from different planets.  Guys just don't wear "bed socks"!!!  So, these wonderfully crude, yet warm creatures will probably never see the inside of an arch.  But it's ok.  I gained some confidence and decided that socks were not my favorite knit.

There was a lot baking going on over the weekend.  I had a helper ...

He waited so patiently to have a go at that spatula!

This is the best cheesecake in the country, paws down.

It has never failed me - it has always supported my kitchen prowess.  I'm willing to share it - send me a note if you'd like the recipe.  It's strictly New York Cheesecake - in its best form.  I also made a banana cake, a big vat of chicken and dumplings, and prepared the way for a shrimp scampi - tonight's feast.  It was a foodie kind of weekend.  I don't think that anyone minded!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Can-Do-Guy is in charge of holiday lights.  Some years he throws caution to the wind and creates the kind of beauty that causes drivers to slam on their brakes.  One season, the December following 911, he created a miniature lighted twin towers on the face of the barn.  It was solemn and beautiful, a righteous testimony that needed expression.  Yesterday he came in, rosy cheeked, flapping his arms, declaring that he was finished.  It was too cold to stay outdoors for long and I think that our recent electric bill was still a shadow in the back of his cheque book!  Needless to say, the lighting this season is modest, but beautiful.

Dammit - I wish that I'd removed that broom!

I'm kind of hoping that he lights up the potting shed today - it always adds so much to his display.  

My daughter is here for a few days - she has a surgical procedure tomorrow.  I'm hoping that I can interest her in trimming the indoor tree.  She wants to go through my beads today and make some bracelets.  You didn't know about the beading, did you?  I've mentioned my favorite local bead shop, but probably didn't reveal the extent to which I fell under its subtle addictive spell.  I used to bead weekly, for hours at a time, so intensely that new prescription lens AND Ott lights became part of the equipment!  No regrets.  But I think that I am ready to pass the torch, or, the beads down to daughter!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


We mailed today.  This means that several hundred eager students will discover where they will, or will not be attending college for the next four years.  I know at least one household in Connecticut where there will be great celebration!  Congratulations to those of you who worked so hard to realize your dream of attending Vassar!

So, what do WE do after all of those letters go out?  

 Speaking only for myself....

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A resolution was made to avoid purchasing new yarn. . . a ban put firmly in place.  How in the world did this scrumptious cloud of pink make it through the picket line?  The postwoman did it - she delivered it in the rain and no knitter worth her wool could leave it out on the stoop.  To face the elements alone.  All wet.  And soggy. Possibly ruined. Right?

My mother made me do it.  She asked if I would knit something wonderful for her favorite nurse at the Care Center.  She offered to pay for it.  What could I say?  What could I do?  What would YOU do?  You would turn to WEBS to find the softest, most dreamy baby alpaca and ORDER IT!  Which is exactly what I did.  It was on sale, nearly 50% reduced.  My bad.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Bea, over at BAA BAA BLACKSHEEP just did a blog that allowed her readers an intro, or glimpse into who she is.  I liked it a lot.  I've been reading her for a time now, yet was pleasantly surprised to learn some new aspects of Herself!  So I thought, hmmm.  Good idea.  Let's give this a whirl.

First of all, it's 5:30 in the morning, and I'm baking corn muffins for a co-worker's birthday today.  This would be the first hint that I am a person who puts her feet down in the morning and is already behind!  I should have baked last night, but we had company and I was DONE.  Stick-a-fork-in-me-done!

I've drawn and painted since I was a child - and always thought that I would become a working artist.  As in - selling my paintings and living grandly by the sea!  My mother reminds me that I used to sing myself to sleep every night.  I'm guessing that parts of my childhood were blessed.  I don't always remember the good times.  I'm a worrier.  I went through a period where I experienced debilitating anxiety or panic attacks.  I like my own company best, as long as my family is nearby and I have my faithful four-legged companions afoot.

I am happy when time is not a factor and I can lose myself in some kind of fiber-y creation.  I have too many projects started - not enough finished, (I tell myself that this is the painter in me - canvases in various stages of completion would be acceptable in that profession!)  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color orange.  A few years back a friend asked when I might be coming to the end of my 'orange phase'.  I cannot answer that - orange and saffron projects fill my head.  Cheddar is part of my sub conscience palate - appearing everywhere, any season, all occasions.  Fiber, in its many forms, is a passion.  It has replaced the linseed oil and turpentine and linen canvas that I used to love.

Rural living is essential to my spirit.  I am a keen observer, keeping my eyes open to the evidence that "earth is a great place from which to view the heavens".  My connection to nature is key to my well being and I feel that I shepherd this small place that I call home consistently, and well, and lovingly.  In short, I've finally, after all of these years, put down roots.  I feel as though I belong somewhere.  Here.  Cloudwalk.

I want to write.  My dream is to publish something meaningful one day.  The greatest love in my life is the love that I hold for my children. I would raise hell and crawl under for either of them.  There is no limit to my devotion and they are, on most days, worthy of it!  They have fulfilled and expanded my life in ways that I cannot express.

This is an old photo - at least two Christmas holidays ago -I really need to find some updates!  That's my son in the grey shirt and my daughter in the brown.  Aren't they great looking kids?  They both, in my estimation, have hung the moon!  Sometimes I catch them exchanging glances with one another, as if to say - what IS it with this old mother of ours?  Simple, children.  I love you in a place where there's no space or time.  

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We waited for the snow to begin all afternoon.

Even the nonchalant Bella got in on the act - casting an apathetic eye toward the back yard from time to time:

Those of you who are owned by black cats know how difficult it is to capture a decent shot where one can actually SEE the cat.  She's more interested in what the birds are up to than what kind of weather is coming.  It was time to get some Christmas decorations out so I scrambled around and came up with these placemats.  My dear friend Amy from Michigan (who is an AMAZING quilter) did the machine work on these for me -  she is the BEST!  I love these mats, but confess - they've never seen food or spillage.  

This guy is missing his embroidered eyes and arms - I'll have to take care of that situation today.  Here's a detail of the Christmas bell - how I love paper piecing!  I'm thinking beaded corners too ....

These beauties spend most of the season waving from a basket on the hutch.  I just don't think that I could bear to see gravy on the front of my snowman or dotting the holiday bell!

I found two of the knitted stockings that have been waiting for their brothers and sisters to join them.  Every year I vow that I will finish this project - an entire mantle of knitted Christmas stockings, but somehow, I just never seem to get it together to finish!!  Also, each year I have a different color scheme in mind.  Hopeless.

OH!  Wait!  It's starting ....

Each year Harley behaves as if it's his first snow, ever.  It's impossible to get him back inside once he's discovered that cold white freedom.  I think that most long-haired dogs appreciate the snow and this one is no exception.

I have a ton of things to do  - we're having company for dinner.  I'm leaving you with images taken this morning, as the sun was rising - silent and spectacular - almost like being in an outdoor cathedral.  One suspects that the Great Artist is leaning on his easel and smiling.  Perfection.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Selfishly, this blog revolves around what I create, what I'm thinking about, how I feel.  But there IS another half to this Cloudwalk equation.  And he is mighty creative and often resourceful - HIS weekend was about installing a wood stove in his barn.  At first I thought - oh oh, this is a BAD idea.  Wood stoves attract men who drive trucks and like to stand around drinking brewskis frosty beverages while shooting the bull and basically wasting, squandering whiling away the afternoon.  

What's going on in there guys?

Someone is awfully focused and I'm not seeing the trucks and the frosty beverages!

He loves his barn - it's his palace.  He got tired of heating it with the salamanders - those heavy kerosene fumes and horrendous engine noises can bring on a migraine ... not an environment conducive to creating unspeakably beautiful furniture...

Watch out for my Fairy roses!  Those ladders are carefully placed - he didn't harm a single twig.

This is a craftsman who knows the meaning of doing things the 'right' way - the best tools and equipment, 'cobbing' is not in his vocabulary.  Still, I liked the barn better before that big smokestack appeared.  I can't really complain - did you notice the beautiful color of this barn?  He let me pick it out - I chose "Hollyberry" and the first two coats went on leaning  toward a shocking pink!  Still, he had faith in my color sense and persevered and it all worked out - it's really very lovely.   Back inside the barn there are all kinds of treasures - Can-Do-Guy is a hoarder collector.

Even the sawdust and cobwebs cannot hide the delicacy of this old fixture.  I'd like to see it find feet and walk into the house!  I know exactly where it would shine.

This was undoubtedly one of the BEST treasures he ever dragged home.  When we have a party or are hosting a  holiday dinner, I never have to worry about food storage.  This cooler works like a dream and it lives a few hundred feet from the house!  How did we ever manage the Labor Day party without this bad boy?!