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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The eggs celebrating Easter and Spring are done

This year's clutch of decorated eggs, blown and painted, are done, and can be seen if you go here: 

I have yet another camera problem!  after my great success in uploading software updates to get the thing working again, it has now started uploading at warp speed bypassing my photo software that enables me to brighten, crop, zoom, etc.  So the pix are a bit darker than I would have chosen, but better than nothing, until I solve this latest techie mystery!  if you click on them, you do see them better, though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Eggs and Astonishment

I haven't reviewed any books in a while, largely because of the Kindle incursion into my reading life,but I do tangentially, such as when the Lucia Victrix book, three volumes of the Mapp and Lucia saga of EF Benson, appears on my chaise, showing I think it's worth reading again.

But here are a couple that are amazing for different reasons:  the Knit Yourself a Zoo book, another Muir and Osborne joy, is one I just had to have, after I borrowed it from the library.  You only have to look inside to realize you absolutely need a knitted elephant, or a few meerkats, and maybe an orangutang.  Great fun.  I like their historical notes, slipped in at the beginning of the patterns, too.

Then there's Maggie Shipstead's second book, which amazing to the reader is maybe even better than her blockbusting first, which was wonderful already. That was Seating Arrangements, set in New England in what I think is a boring segment of society, but not in her hands.  She's so astute in her observation and weighing that you just give up and let it all flow over you in a great wave.

Her second, borrowed from a saying of Diaghilev, Astonish Me, goes into the life and times of a corps de ballet dancer, defecting Russian star dancers, private lives in and out of the ballet, again all places I have little interest in, but the power of her writing just grabs hold and you have no choice.  This is what happens when a story gets into the hands of a great writer.

In between being carried away by all this print material, I realized Easter is almost upon us, and it's time to blow and decorate the eggs.  Every year I do a limited number of them, individually painted and decorated, and going to Handsome Son, and to people who should have one this year!


So here's stage one: blown, rinsed and now drying ready to work on tomorrow.  And the contents to be cooked and eaten for several breakfasts this week. I only exploded one when I was blowing it, don't know my own strength!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Winning Dogs make a Command Performance

The authors of Knit your Own Dog, from which the purebreds you see here came, with my help, but not the shaggy dog and her pup, strictly sui generis, are having a book signing somewhere in England soon.

So I asked the people in Ravelry who will be there to give my personal thanks to them, and I linked  to the Westminster Dog Show entry in my blog, showing the winning dog and his friends.

But that was taken in rather poor evening light so I thought I should be fair and give them another whirl, waiting for a bus on top of my fence.  Left to right: Irish setter, whippet, wire haired terrier, shaggy mixed breed, shaggy mixed breed puppy.

It's windy today, causing many falls from the fence in the course of the photo shoot, and causing the Dollivers to refuse flatly to appear and get their hair all messed up.  I should know -- we've gone from Hat Hair weather right into Wind Hair weather. 

No awards for winning dogs today, they're all winners!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Great art opening

The solo show opening went wonderfully, and it was interesting to note how many parts of my life showed up!  students from the seventies, the chaplain who was so great after Handsome Partner's death, friends from the embroidery guild, artists I've shown with, friends and relatives of all the above, neighbors, all meeting and getting along instantly.  More than one of the participants is a blogger who plans to include this event on her upcoming blogposts. 

But the group did include people with no email nor cellphones, who wrote down numbers in little notebooks, very retro!  also very cool.  Considering the show included work based on medieval
 techniques all the way to a piece created on my ipod and exported to my computer and printed, it seemed appropriate that the people who came would be from a wide spectrum of the techie world.

for pix of this fun, go to

Now I'm off for more Lucia reading, and general collapse.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Signs of Spring

A walk on the Preserve, first since last fall, in sunshine, in the company of bees of all sizes, hurtling about, tree swallows suddenly everywhere, sounds of woodpeckers drumming and rattling, and best of all a redwing blackbird shouting somewhere on the lakeside. 

A lot of mud in the woods, but a great cluster of fox prints, too, looks like I was on their main street, many overlapping and multiple tracks, different size. Many deer tracks, too, some huge. There must be a many-point buck there.


Pix are of the view across the lake, where the trees are just starting to show red buds, before the green appears, and a tree overhanging the water with catkins.

Then there are other signs of spring: my friend's Ducati out for a spring airing.

And the chair on the patio, first time this year, set up with tea tray and Lucia book for me to sink into, as soon as I've done this!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Daffodils, finally!

The daffodils in the wood suddenly bust out all over, lovely sudden sight after such a long winter.  For new readers, this is a 9.11 tribute from our family, in honor of friends and colleagues who died that day, and it's a symbol of life going on no matter what.

It was Handsome Partner's idea

we all went to the garden center bought a giant bag of mixed daffodil bulbs, and came home to plant them.  It became a family joke, since he could walk but not dig at that point, that he pointed and Mike and I dug!  but we were happy with our project, and have been happy every spring since.  

It's the reason Handsome Partner requested daffodils be planted in his memory, rather than any other ceremonies, because he could see what pleasure as well as memory they bring back year after year. People in several countries have planted in his honor, and I get updates from them each year, which pleases me a lot.Several of my neighbors have daffodils blooming here in his honor, too.

So here they are, yay all of us and Spring!

Techie woes

So this week, I had to replace my printer, then had to replace my netbook, now have a lovely new laptop, and now find that my camera, which admittedly is a bit old, can not run on a Windows8 OS.  The software used to upload it won't run on anything beyond Windows7, which is not obtainable in new machines now, sigh.

Ed note: this is now history.....So, if any blogistas upload pix using Windows8, please tell me what camera you use, make and model.  That way I will be able to get a camera that will actually operate.  My Nikon Coolpix S50 is still perfectly functional and I like it a lot, but it won't work with the current setup.

If you know a workaround (Nikon says there isn't one, they just don't support that software beyond 7)  but sometimes smart owners know little tricks and tips to get around this sort of thing. I'm not counting the people on Amazon who said it's all about jpegs, not Windows!  clearly not grasping the situation.  Annoying at first, funny now, though.

The daffodils in our woods all came out in a lovely rush, and I'd love to show you.  Spring made it here, and I'm realizing more and more how vital my camera is to my life!  weaving this afternoon with no way of recording the progress.  Oh well, in the scheme of things not so awful.

And as you see, I did find a workaround, all by myself.  But I maintain that whining to all your friends first is the pathway to a solution, and I hereby, to prove I succeeded,  show you Handsome Son setting up the new laptop, with great pride in my cleverness at working through a forest of techie words to find the right thing to download, and succeed in so doing.  Yay me.   So disregard all the previous fussing, it seems to be history....heh.


And I'll devote a photo session to the daffodils, now that I can. Yay.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ds in unaccustomed finery

Speaking of awash, the Dollivers did manage to get some bling going, after rummaging in my new bead stash and finding the strings of beads. I explained that this is like the Oscars -- you borrow the jewelry, under guard, here in the persons of Marigold and Duncan, who briefly investigated the scene then decided it's not for cats --and return it right after the photo shoot.

They did mutter darkly about knowing where the beads were kept, in case I thought they might give them up so easily.  For now all is safe, beads back in the little bags, Dollivers back in their nook.

Freecycling for my neighbors goes on merrily.  Currently I have a highchair and a bouncy toy thing that looks like a giant ladybug in my kitchen, and an eager throng wanting them tomorrow when I put them out. Only the first in line has the address right now, so if she shows up as planned, it's done.  

This is for a friend, in case you wondered how the heck I came about this!  I have freecycled some amazing items over the last couple of years for freecycle-challenged friends, whose houses are looking a lot more shipshape now.  I don't know about the houses of the people who took on the items, though.

I'm merely hoarding little bags of beads, very space saving.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Beadorama extravaganza

So a fellow Raveler offered a destash opportunity, which I leapt at, and today a small and very very heavy parcel arrived.  Joy!  a wonderful trove of beads, many in colors I wouldn't have thought of, always good to have someone else jolt your color rut sometimes, because now I wonder why I hadn't thought of them.  Thanks, Kathie, for being a great person to transact with!

So here, before the Dollivers arrive on the scene, demanding new jewelry and doodads, and generally arguing and staking claims to various favorite colors, and before Elton barks up a storm wanting a new hat band, this is between you and me...

Playtime, with the new beads spread out in approximate color families on a tray, to be pushed about and admired and played with and imagined in future works. 

If little things please little minds, well, I admit to being a beadbrain at this moment!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh, we won't get up in the mooooooorning...

Call this St. Patrick's Day?  there's yet another fall of snow, and the Dollivers decided to hold their parade safely in bed, with accompanying serenades from Elton.  Whatever happened to those St. Patrick's Day when you planted potatoes and peas in this neighborhood, huh? huh?

Note the green surroundings, though...and Elton played Rose of Tralee, tra-la, Dolly Boy, and the Sleeping in the Green, with other seasonal selections.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The date? 3.14 Happy Pi Day!

The Dollivers leapt into pi formation today as soon as they checked the calendar, to wish you a Happy Pi Day.  And if your dating system doesn't read day/monthHappy Pie Day instead!

And while they posed, they sang along to this:  Thanks, Annie, for the link.

And of course Elton accompanied the whole performance.  With delegates from his gang of Minivers.   Given the limited keyboard range of his piano, this was just his speed.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Probably last Spring for dear friend K.

Just last week, my close friend K. and another friend came to the house together to break it to me that the weird little swelling in her midriff we'd been a bit worried about, and she'd finally agreed to see a doctor about, had thought for a couple of weeks it was an injury from digging out her icebound car, is in fact Stage IV of a very aggressive cancer.  

She is not quite aware of how little time she might have, and I'm doing all I can to help, be available, support her visiting sister, who is beside herself, naturally, keep tabs on house keys, phone numbers, whatever I can do, arrange for other friends to deliver edible items to her, after her sister has to go back home far away, all the things you think of.  Since she lives alone, I put together a neighborhood A team to be available, including several men who want to be called on to move stuff (thinking ahead to later at home).

But it's a huge weight of sadness over those of us who know what this probably means in terms of remaining time for her and for us to have her company.  I can't write more about that.

She has always been very much interested in natural remedies, ways of keeping calm, and so on, and I introduced her to our local labyrinth last year, which she took to very happily.  Since I doubt very much she can ever do that again, I printed out a finger labyrinth for her, enlarged it, and gave it to her yesterday.  She is pleased with it, will start the practice right away, and I think might take it with her into treatment, since it's just a piece of paper, very portable.

I made one for me, too, since I figured I needed a bit of support too. If you're interested, go here and enlarge and print it.  It needs to be followed slowly, doing the usual labyrinth practice.  

This means calming before you start, deciding on what issue you're bringing to the labyrinth, following slowly to the center, pausing, then leaving, but not rushing out, and allowing time afterwards to digest what you've learned.  It never fails me, never, and I walk it for friends in trouble, for funerals, for memorials, for happy stuff, all kinds of things.

Please keep her in your thoughts.  This neighborhood is like a family, and she's an important member of it.  She was so good to me during Andy's last days and after, and gave me wonderful advice right after.  One of the few people who was able to do that.  As far as I'm concerned, only the best for her, for whatever time there is.
That includes vibes from you, dear blogistas, all over the globe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring might have finally got here. It's true and I can prove it.

Warmer day today, first one in ages, high 50s.F, and I thought since the snow was vanishing off the deck I may as well sweep off some of the winter debris. 


Stepped out, and shrieked!  All the snowdrops had suddenly stood up and bloomed. Overnight.  All six of them!  Blazing away, two months late, locked under ice and snow for months,  but still there, yay them.  Hero flowers.  First sign of spring.
Two portraits.

Well, yes, I was a bit excited.   I celebrated by putting out a suet cake for the birds, since they'll soon need to keep up their strength for the nest building program.  Since the snowdrops have played the overture.

Couple of weeks ago I ran into a friend out walking her dog, in the teeth of a bitter wind, snow blowing, ice everywhere, and she said gallantly, just think how we'll appreciate the Spring if it ever gets here!  I bet her little dog takes her coat off today.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

All you ever wanted to know about tortoises

I found this blog almost by accident, and just want you to see it.  You can't help but get carried along by her enthusiasm and her knowledge.  I love an expert, particularly a good humored one like Katie.  The Dollivers are now demanding tortoises, with dresses to match theirs..

Go here

Friday, March 7, 2014

What I did on my Friday afternoon.

To take a look on how I improved the shining hour this Friday afternoon, take a look  here

Great fun!  so used to working alone that it was interesting to have onlookers and innocent bystanders.

Sunday we move the clocks forward or back, or up or down, or some such damn thing, and I just hope it results in better weather, that's all I have to say.  My car clock will then be right, since I can't be pestered to change it every five minutes, and the computer will fix itself.  So some things will be right anyway.  Forgotten what daffodils look like, though before the latest ten snowstorms, I did see little green leaves coming up.  I wonder if they'll manage to blossom.

But, just to show that some things are going on just fine, here's a link to an eagle cam, real time footage, watch the mom bald eagle feeding the babies, and cleaning up the nest, and the father swooping in too.  Just fly up here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Take at look at Art the Beautiful and what's up there

If you're interested in what's up over in the art side of my life, take a look:

Field and Fen has been a bit sparse lately,largely because of the intensity of what's up in the studio, but that will ease up in the next couple of months.  At least that's the plan! 

And I've spared you endless pix of snow and more snow, and ice, and wind and sad cold people, so there's that.  I have made some great soup and bread, though, always welcome in winter.  I like having soup in the freezer so I don't have to emerge from the studio and then have to start thinking what to eat.  Currently it's a big batch of potato leek.

Remember that lovely lady on BBC cooking shows many years ago, giving a recipe for a leek dish, and starting with:  "Ladies, first take a leek"!  Live tv, they couldn't bleep it, just had to keep calm and carry on.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Dollivers Strut Their Stuff for the Stitchers

Despite the exaggerations of the weathermen, the snow did not show up,but the stitchers and the Dollivers did.

The monthly meeting of the embroiderers' guild was hampered at intervals by the Ds trying their hands at the current perforated paper project, joining in, while the rest of us admired the marvelous many-parted needlework case being passed around, and the Thai stitched purses, brought back as gifts from family of one of our members in Thailand recently.

 If there's a nicer way to spend a Sunday afternoon among friends toward the end of a long grim winter, we're not sure what it would be.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dollivers anxiously following the weather patterns

The Dollivers, promised a first ever visit to the stitching guild's monthly meeting tomorrow, leapt into their best knitted gear, hatted, sweatered, best silk undies, the lot, jumped into the traveling bag and then we found that the snow may start during the meeting.

Another major snowstorm starting tomorrow, up to a foot of new snow.  So they refuse to get out of the traveling bag, now that they're gowned and bagged, or as they like to put it, bound and gagged, and Bette Davis insisted on checking online to see what was going to happen tomorrow.

The thing about living here in central NJ not far from a long coastline is that we tend to be in the middle of colliding weather systems.  Sandy was one giant collision of two big storms meeting right over our roof.  

So tomorrow's storm may be a foot or more of snow, or a mix with ice or rain, or gumdrops, I mean wintry mix, who knows. Anyway, we're ready, complete with tools, labels, needles, ref books promised to other stitchers and Dollivers anxious to get in there and  run the show.

Here we all are, ready, and wondering if skis might be the traveling mode tomorrow.  And wondering if the new format this post suddenly decided to go into after deleting half of itself, is a function of the weather patterns.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dolliver Kennels Triumphs at Westminster

Here victorious handler NameMe shows off new champion wire haired terrier, from the Dolliver Kennels.  His origin: Knit your own Dog knitting book by Sally Moore and Joanna Osborne.  

So he's now Grand Champion Kyod of Dolliver Kennels, showing his marble trophy, from both sides.  He has no bad side, proud NameMe tells me.  But he's wondering when we fill the trophy with champagne.

Once home from the talk shows NameMe and Knod are joined by the rest of the Kennels, see the whippet and the Irish setter, and the two fluffy mixed breeds, now welcome at Westminster, too, in agility.  And we had honored guests, Lenox King Charles Spaniel and Herend Afghan along with the Dalmatian, who dropped in for a swig of champagne.   And they all send their best to Sky, the Westminster winner this year.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Having your say

Up to now, I've rarely responded in the comments section of my blogs, largely because I feel as if I've had my say when I wrote the post, and that the comments are for readers to play in.  Like when people waiting to have their say on radio call in shows finally get on the air, I hate when the host keeps interrupting and challenging them, so I avoid that.

But it also occurs to me that a lot of bloggers nowadays do take part in the comments, and I wonder if that would be a welcome move to you, dear blogistas?  I don't like you to feel you commented and the commented landed on empty air, when in fact I devour and love comments of all kinds other than spam.

Would you please comment (!) and let me know?  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Westminster soon, dogs bringing their owners to the city

In a few days, the Westminster Kennel Club great big dog show will burst onto New York, complete with thousands of dogs bringing their owners to prance about the show rings, celebrities with their teeny tiny pocket dogs getting on camera, the excitement about whether the grand winner will be small enough to sit in the trophy for pictures, or big enough to give the judge a ride home.

When Andy and I had parallel petcare businesses, we were keen watchers, complete with special snacks for the two evenings of watching, and choices of favorites and hisses when yet again the Dalmatian didn't  win, much to KC (resident Dal)'s disappointment.  It was a kind of official bonding event all around.

And since the local Trenton AKC event, huge, in early May, is one of the major events the dogs have to succeed at on the way to Westminster, that was an official Staff Day Out, since it's in the county park usually in great weather and you can get in among the dogs and their handlers, all very cool.  Every breed you ever heard of and more.  All kinds of agility and fancy dancy events, great fun.

When you're self employed, you take your work fun where you can find it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January, all white and cold

Another big snowstorm today and cold temps to follow.  Its timing was very good, though, since I had to have the chimney people on the condo roof today (not where I live), and had to get over there to let them in.  They arrived promptly, first visit of their workday, got the work done promptly, left promptly, I got home safely, all is in order.  

A few minutes later the snow started and in minutes the roof was snow covered.  They don't go up on roofs in snow.  And since I'd been trying to get them since November, I was pretty happy that it finally got done, weather having put us off more than once already, way past the HOA deadline.  This is good.  The certificate is now in the mail.  If the mailman gets round in the snow, that is.

My snow prep yesterday included filling the bird feeder and the suet holder, so there's a mighty flock of juncoes out there feeding madly before the cold comes.  You can't detect them in pictures, because they blend in so well with the snow and branches, but there's at least a dozen around the tree.

So today, yet again, is homemade bread, veggie soup, blackberries with yogurt and brown sugar.  I've started baking my bread in a giant teflon casserole, and it works just great.  The entire recipe goes in the one container, I bake it at 450F. an hour and ten or so, and the crust is great.  Also it's big enough to make sandwiches, a big point in homemade bread.  It does look a bit Brobdingnagian, must admit.

Then there's stitching -- new piece in goldwork and other stuff on green linen -- and various DVDs from the libe.  White Queen on CD while I stitch.   All good.  Trying not to think about my neighbor who left this morning for three weeks in sunny Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year to us all!

Some of us have already seen in the New Year, and some are working up to it.  And some of us are planning a nice quiet evening with a movie and a glass of wine, and will probably not make it to midnight.

This morning brought one of those wonderful skies, with the ice particles high up in the air creating sundogs.  I saw one, they look like a very bright chunk of rainbow, which disappeared in a few seconds, then reappeared twice as bright, for just a few seconds, in the eastern sky.  We get these at sunset, usually, in clear cold weather.

I tried a picture, which involved stepping out onto the frigid patio, ow, but I think the camera didn't see what the eye did.  Anyway, this is this morning about 8.30, great last sunrise of the year with a sundog barking through the wild cherry branches. 

So, the hounds of spring on winter's traces, at least that's the plan for the new year!  HNY, all!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fifty years across the ocean!

Celebrate with me!  today marks fifty years, count them, since I set foot on these shores to live happily ever after.  

Still remember the excitement of approaching the harbor -- we came by ship, figuring it was a lifetime opportunity to actually travel, rather than cruise, on a ship, which it was -- seeing the Verrazano Narrows bridge still under construction, the Statue of Liberty, and then actually docking at the end of a street!  

So used to ships that docked far from city centers, in their own dockland, that it was amazing to look down and see traffic, and cabs waiting for people to disembark, and people waiting to greet passengers. As soon as I stepped ashore everything just felt right. It even smelled right, as if I'd come home.  I swear I was born in the wrong country!

And despite all the ups and downs life has handed out, not a moment of nostalgia for the UK, just gladness that we had the sense to do what we did, leave and carve out entirely new and better lives for us and Handsome Son, who was still several years into the future.

Indeed, it has been better, going from being wrong class (UK still rigid in the 60s) wrong sex (ditto) and wrong religion (ditto) to being an equal partner in whatever was going on, able to achieve practically every ambition I've ever had, and I've had a few!

Handsome Partner, then husband, was invited by a  number of institutions to do postdoctoral work, being an atom scientist in great demand after Sputnik, and I secured projects as a modern language person, also in demand because of the postwar realization that more languages were needed in the public schools.

Interestingly, members of both sides of my family emigrated from the UK to the US in the 1850s, arriving in the same New York harbor I did, and settling somewhere in New York state, not in touch, don't know more, Mom being the historian of that family lore. So I'm both first generation and possibly eighth, but who's counting.

Anyway, I now have to stop because the chimney sweeps are at the door, chop wood, carry water!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Cirque de Dolliver

Great good wishes from all of us, visiting friends, Handsome Son, Dollivers, Minivers and Marigold and Duncan. 

Outside the birds are noshing on their Christmas seed and the squirrels are having a great time banging and dragging on the container, like little dogs, really.

The ficus tree is acting the part of fir, complete with little ornaments.
Duncan is maintaining a low profile, not wishing to be part of the throng this morning. He notes that Marigold is skulking under the ficus, watching the antics outside.

Elton is celebrating upstairs with the rest of the minis, since his piano space is occupied by the creche, but joins us anyway, with a selection ranging from Good King Wenceslas to Jingle Dolls.

Merry Day, everyone, and if Christmas is not your festival, Merry Wednesday!