Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter is icumin in!

On the way to Easter, which as usual took me by surprise, how can I be expected to remember all that about the Spring equinox and the full moon and the Sunday after it being Easter, when we had 12 inches of rain in March, and moon's entire journey was eclipsed by drenching rain...anyway, it's about to be here.

So I have done my main form of celebration, which is more about celebrating spring and life in general, very nonsectarian stuff. I blow eggs, enough for HP, HS and me and one eggstra, sorry, in case of disasters, and decorate them differently each year. It's one of the few times I venture into the third dimension of painting, and I have to remember it all over again each time.

This year here are the blown eggs (blowing eggs is no doubt very good for your lungs and patience and you need to sit down afterwards..) and the contents in the pitcher next to it.

And the resulting omelet, we always eat the contents, was a particularly nice omelet as it turned out, with ham and tofu and cheese and scallions, quite popular, along with roast potatoes.

Finally, this year's eggs are rolled out:

then another view, other end, other side:

These were painted watercolor fashion, allowing colors to mix and blend. Then a coat of nail polish to seal them and make them stronger, then decorating with gold and silver pens. All this with the eager assistance of two kitties, resulting in cat hairs having to be carefully removed from the artwork.

And they will join the complete collection, eggs, not cats, after HS has chosen which of this year's crop he wants to keep.

This collection includes a Boehm bunny guarding the eggs, a Wedgwood miniature cup and saucer containing miniature eggs, from my long gone but never forgotten lutino cockatiel, a little Lenox kitten playing with a ball, cats get in everywhere, and the eggs are resting on a collection of rocks and shells with memories of Cape May for HP and me, some of the shells being of more recent vintage, coming from wonderful take out Italian seafood for various birthdays.

Happy Oestre, all! and Happy Spring and good Passover and Great Equinox and just good days all around.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


(Please note new Blogspot thing: you used to be able to click once on my pix to enlarge them. Now you click once, the pic appears same size in its own screen, then you click again, and it will finally enlarge! I think this is supposed to be one of those improvements...)

WIP means either Work in Progress or War in Personality, and in this case, it's both.

It's that time of year when the days get longer and lighter and I have that annual urgent need to paint watercolors, and it struck today. So I show you a Watercolor in Progress, probably nearly finished. You do know the old joke about how an artist needs an assistant with a mallet, ready to hit her on the head and say, STOP, it's FINISHED..

The other Work in Progress, and War in Personality, is that I have an equal and opposite urge at exactly the same time, to knit and crochet stuff at this time of year. So here you see the front and back of the lovely pullover thingie I designed for The Great Me. It's all about varying blocks of garter and stockinette and seed stitch.

This is made from the undyed yarn Heather's fiber farm share brought to me, what a wonderful gift it is, and may or may not end up being dyed with Koolaid, we'll see how it goes. What happens next is that I stitch together front and back and crochet the neck and arm edges to give them a bit of body, this yarn being very very soft and wonderful to handle and knit.

Next time I will use bamboo needles, though, since the aluminum ones I had in the right size were like knitting on a skating rink, the yarn being so soft and biddable that it would fly off the needles at the slightest move, needs to be lodged firmly on wood needles, I guess. A special feature of this yarn is that I probably saw the owner of the fleece last spring on Lambcam, frisking about with her fleece ready to go.

So today ended up being productive despite one of the most totally hopeless shopping expeditions of all time. The thrift store has NO SWEATERS!!!!! I was all ready to get one to unravel for my first foray into knitting a sweater from the top down, all systems ready, instructions marked in the Knitting Outside the Lines book, even stopped at the store to get some circular needles, since I don't use them and need them for this poipose. It was supposed to be the Next Big Project on the Needles.

I also wanted some frisket (masking liquid) for use in watercolor painting, you apply it to areas you particularly want to have sharp white edges, couldn't get that either, so painted without it, and it worked okay anyway....but I digress...and there was the thrift store, jumping the season, and all about shirts and tshirts and useless garments of that kind that you can't unravel..dangit. I hadn't realized there were seasons to the Unraveling Cult. So now I know. I guess I should have known that the Yarn Harvest would take place at the normal harvest time. What was I thinking???

Or, since it was 32 degrees today, what were they thinking at the thrift good thing about the weather was that it prevented me from acting on the third overwhelming urge at this time of year, to go out and chuck potting soil and containers and spades and stuff around and lug stuff here and there in the garden.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No breaking news, just Spring pictures, enjoy!

I went for a walk today to collect images to show HP since it's sunny, the trees are breaking out into bloom, and he wanted to see them.

I thought I'd pick just or two for in here, but then couldn't bear to leave anyone out! I like the moon and cherry blossom ones pretty much. Very Japanese!

So instead of a select one or two, here's a collection.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Milkweed Project, late breaking wonderful news...

Right after I wrote my blog this morning, I checked into the Ravelry website and found that the Milkweek Project group installation is being assembled, wonderful work, created by about 200 artists, including this one.

Please follow (you may have to cut and paste, I don't think I can make hotlinks in here) to see the very latest pix, just taken and posted about an hour ago.

If you scroll down, you'll see a twirly piece, and there behind it is the ladder piece I made! looking very happy in such good company.

She kept me going, being my knitting in the operating room waiting area, the ICU, the telemetry unit, the hospital lunchroom, and now she's getting the credit for it!

I was able to stay in the art life designing and making this piece, through one of the most awful years of our joint and several lives, thanks to the Milkweed Project.

So, please, cut, paste, click, scroll, and enjoy!

Meanwhile, Spring continues...

Back in business again, energy returning, but I keep on sneezing since my poor old beezer thinks it's congested. Actually it's bruised inside, ow, but if that's all I have to whine about, well, poor me!

Meanwhile, wonderful Hali D. sent me an Alaskan care package, not related to the recent medical adventures (though she's had a few of her own, which she related with great good nature and poise, very Her!) but in relation to another transaction.

Anyway, you see part of my bounty in place on the bookcase, one of the few places the cats don't venture onto.

The ceramic dish, courtesy of her motheroutlaw, and two lovely rocks, one hematite, the other picked out by a two year old participant in this venture, is a lovely tablescape.

And nearby is the first daffodil of the year, which I brought in as a tightly furled bud, so that HP could see it progress, he being unable to see the daffodils out front. But the patio ones are coming along a treat, and we spent hours out there yesterday, lovely mild day, which he enjoyed a lot, bird watching, daffodil spotting and breathing in fresh air.

I also walked over to the woods out back to get him some pictures of our 9/11 memorial daffodils that he and HS and I all planted right after the attack, as our family's tribute. We got a huge sack of mixed varieties, HP pointed, HS and I dug (!) and they come up year after year. So I give you a picture of the first clump out there in bloom.

When he and I shuffle off this mortal coil, neither of us wants a funeral. But since we know friends like to have Something to Do, we both (and these are plans we hope will not be in action for years and years!) want friends to go out and plant daffodils if they work in their climate, or any other perennial that works better, so that life comes back year after year and reminds us of the great cycle we are all involved in at different places on the wheel. Also to give money to foodbanks and to animal rescue. There, that's about it. Make a note!!!

And the bigger tapestry is under way, with Heather's wonderful variegated yarn in evidence.

What you see here is the beginning, where I'm parting the segments, so that I will tighten up the right one to shape it differently, while the left part goes up straight. Later I will redivide them and create more openings and different shapes, but the red is the foundation yarn, before I go on to other kinds of fibers.

This is great fun, and as usual a joint effort: red areas courtesy of Heather, loom which is a set of canvas stretchers, courtesy of Stefi M., progress in spite of helpful Duncan who is determined to have that red yarn to play with. I did manage to get a picture of the work in progress without him pushing his head into the frame.

He was busy drinking milk out of a lovely Chinese ricegrain bowl, talk about spoiled. This is a kitten who started life in an open field! but he has come into his own.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Humans make plans, God says HA!

This blog first appeared on paper, you'll see why if you read on. It's written from notes and drawings I did yesterday.

Since last I blogged, was it only a couple of days ago? I had a rollercoaster 24 hours starting yesterday morning, which kicked off when I fainted dramatically upstairs, on my way down to see to HP's morning care.

Blessedly I had not reached the head of the stairs when it happened. Ublessedly, I hit the side of the washing machine with my head, on the way down, which will show up in the form of a great shiner and swollen nose for a few days. Blessedly, I have been carrying my cellphone in that little purse I showed you, the crocheted thing, around my neck at all times, so I could call HS while still lying on the floor, to come as soon as he could. Unblessedly, I could not call 911 since I could not leave HP with morning care undone, alone, in bed, and had to wait till HS got here, which he did as fast as he could. Blessedly, meanwhile I called my own doctor, whose nurse got back to me twice to get the story and insist I get in to the ER for evaluation.

So Plainsboro's Finest Rescue Squad ambulance with two angels in human form, took me into the Princeton Medical Center, yes I know the name's different now, I can't keep up with this incessant changing of names every ten years, ER where I was evaluated for: stroke, heart attack, lung cancer (don't know how that got in, but it did), concussion, and signs of life.

Many many tests, 24 hour heart monitoring in the hospital's fancy telemetry wing, which HP was in this time last year, echocardiograms, CAT scans, Xrays, EKGs much blood drawing and vital sign taking, visits from ER doctor, own doctor and cardio.

conclusion: after all the fear and boredom -- nothing to read, no ability to sleep because of all the tests, hence the note taking and drawing on nasty little pad with nasty little pen from Patient's Welcoming Folder, and fear of the outcomes -- they all concluded I had just fainted. Possibly from the pain of a cramp in my leg when I woke up, which was possibly caused by my statin meds, though I doubt this, since I've been having cramps for years and years before statins were in my life.

Machine at left is the brilliant heart monitor, weighs about a pound, sends wireless pix of the heart's shenanigans continually to a screen at the desk outside.

Seen right ahead, by patient in bed, exciting view of patient belongings bag all crumpled up, next to some machine whose function is unknown to me.

Artist's shaky gnarly old hand holding nasty pen.

Meanwhile, wonderful neighbors literally ran to help, one getting into the ambulance with me before I left to ask what I wanted him to do! I referred him to HS who was at the house by now, and a couple of other neighbors showed up, too. HS did wonderful work, taking care of every bit of HP's nursing care, with neighbors sitting with HP to let him do things like go home for overnight stuff, and then come in today to get me from the hospital, once they booted me out.

So it all comes down to: I now know what it is like to faint, never did it before, now know warning signs, now know that every part of my body that was checked is just fiiiiiine. Heart ticking just fine, no stroke signs, not even concussion.

Home now, quite tired, having been interrupted all night with more and more tests, but happy that the outcome seems to be okay.

It was a terrific dry run for HS of taking over in an emergency, and he used all the notes I'd created for him a few weeks ago to keep track.

When he left today to go off to work, he amused me hugely by turning and saying Mom, remember Dad has medication at three p.m., don't sleep through it....he really has taken this on!

So we both feel better about my trip planned for May, a huge three days at the shore, Cape May to be exact, now, since he's already done nearly everything, including transfer into the chair, much trickier than chair to bed. The catheter stayed on, so he wisely left it there, and still has to learn how to apply a new one, but that's fine for now.

Heck, he even fed and watered the bird and cats and cleaned litterboxes. He said he didn't know what to do for the plants so he didn't do anything, wise move. did dishes and laundry, too.

So, to my surprise,things are okay here. HP is very happy I'm back, but I think it's good for him, too,to see that I'm not the only person who can take good care of him.

I did these few little drawings in my hospital room, desperate attempt to pass the time, and wrote notes and thoughts, including this blog entry, fearing it might be my last, dramatic thought. Heck I even did a Sudoku printed on the side of the milk carton.

So here's wishing all of us an uneventful weekend!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring is definitely on the cusp. The crocuses suddenly appeared, with the obligatory dandelion shoving its way in there, too, reminding us to eat dark green leafy things in spring. I managed to snap the flowers before the robins got to work ripping them apart. They love the pollen in them and take them apart in their eagerness.

And the other sign of spring every ten years, is the appearance in our (dried out now) mailbox of the Census form. Which is pretty much a comic turn on its own, if you read it without a straight face.

I mean, folks, first thing they tell you to do is count the people in the house, and get this, "including babies, who live and sleep here most of the time." These people have no kids in the house, I guess. What do you do about that little hellion who refuses to sleep, but screams eighteen hours a day instead? not count them? give them a special weighted factor given that they take up the bandwidth of several people? offer them to one of these "institutions and other places" the Census darkly goes on to talk about?

Then you start counting, having established all that, and you name the first person you count Person One. I'm planning to be Person One around here, heck it's about time I took up my proper designation, and I'm filling out the form, so I rate.

There seems to be no provision for counting pets, though. Now wouldn't you think they'd like to know that, in view of the numbers of vets that might be trained to attend them? groomers who could expect employment? petfood manufacturers who would like to know the estimated size of their audience? pastors who run church services where pets are blessed? legislators needed to protect us from angry cats and goldfish who might bite? future petcare providers needing to know their clientele?

I have in fact been bitten by a fish, a little known feat, dating from my home petcare days, when I was feeding a pondful of koi, who got to know me and would stick their heads out of the water on my approach with the goods. One of them was even eager to grab the food before I let go, and got my fingers in quite a powerful grip before I could shake him off.

This added to the list of Animals Who Have Bitten Liz, a proud band. A rabbit, a ferret, numerous parrots, several parakeets, one cockatiel, several cats who added in clawmarks, too, several dogs, one Maltese three pound nutjob who nearly crippled my hands before I could get her off. And a rabbit -- did you know rabbits make a v shaped bite?

But they were balanced by the lovely Rottweiler who wanted a kiss and a hug before she would go in her crate, and one year tried to save me from Santa Claus, and the huge black Great Dane, mother of many show winners, named Sweetheart, who required a little chat and a kiss likewise, and kitties whose main ambition was to attach themselves permanently to me with plans to come home, including the one who hid in the sleeve of my jacket, much to my surprise when I put it on to leave.

And the unforgettable German Shepherd, Molly, who would play tricks on me and laugh, shepherd style when I fell for them...and the Bernese Mountain Dog, 120 lbs, who when a hot air balloon passed over the back yard where we were out taking the air, wrestled me to the ground and threw himself like an FBI handler over my body to protect me, nearly suffocating me in the process..dear Shenandoah, much missed.

But I digress. Back to the Census. The form allows for up to eight people. So, what about families like that one in Arkansas with 19 children (whose names all start with J, how confusing). I mean do they have to add in extra postage to take up all the extra thirteen pages they'll have to glue onto the form?

I really have to fill in the form promptly, though, or we'll be visited by the local Census in-person counting people, who have some very impressive title, like enumeratorologist or something. Our nearest counters happen to be our respite care person and his mother! who will give me a terrible hard time and point and laugh if I don't get this done.

Or maybe refer me to a college, nursing home, jail, prison or detention facility, as the Census seems to threaten...

Back to springtime and Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone who plans to celebrate it tomorrow. Erin go bragh!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My turn

Finally, after making scarves for umpteen friends, two with the lovely green cashmere I was so wild about, I made a scarf for the Great Me. This will go with a nice white cardi I acquired via Freecycle....

See here: two stages, one a couple of days ago, just started, with the new tapestry juuuuust getting under way, the tapestry alternating as my hands can hold up

and here, as of yesterday, finished.

This is a one line lace pattern, which if you fancy getting into lace knitting, is just about one of the simplest, though it looks interesting when finished. It's so fast that if you want a nice piece of work to settle into, this is not it! before you know it, it's leapt off the needles and around your neck. But if you are a slower knitter and like to take your time, this might work for you.

The pattern is: cast on 24 stitches, knit two rows, then forever after: knit four, yo, k 2 tog, k 2. That's it, the whole thing. Just do that until you run out of yarn or interest, whichever comes first. Then do one row of knit, then cast off. Done! Use a big needle, bigger than you normally would for the yarn you choose, so that the lacy effect works.

This always seems to happen: I get a nice pattern, or some nice yarn, and plan to make something for me, then I end up making presents for other people and finally get around to me. When I got that nice simple slipper pattern, I made at least four pairs for other people before I got my own pair.

On other more stormy fronts, we survived the big nor'easter, with massive winds and rain for a couple of days, flooding all around. But we were among the few who did not lose power, a big deal, since HP's mattress is power operated to keep it inflated, and his bed works with the ole electric.

The only problem, aside from my inability to battle the wind and rain to get the garbage out of the house for two days, another big deal, a lot of it being invalid waste, better out of the house fast, was that the supermarket computers were very very slow, and it took minutes for each card transaction to work, but they did work eventually, and all was well.

We did have serious winds, with trees down all over the place, bringing down power wires, and no, we can't bury them, since the water table is less than 24 inches from the surface over much of this region. We live in fact on the largest freshwater aquifer in the Western hemisphere, a huge reason to preserve the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which grow over it. Did you know that even now there are unmapped areas of the Pine Barrens? hard to believe in such an industrialized busy state with more cars per highway mile than any other in the union, but 'tis so.

And the other effect felt chez Adams was that the few little ants that always show up in March in my kitchen were joined by thousands of brothers and sisters, all clamoring to get in out of the rain, let us in, we're DROWNING out here. I didn't notice a big influx on the kitchen floor, other than the opportunists crunching up the cat food, until I opened the dishwasher this morning and found a revival meeting of ants in progress...and the cats refuse to hunt them down. They prefer to hunt drinking straws and pens, which is why I never have a pen to hand at the phone. They're all under the fridge or the sofa. Pens, not cats.

I nearly forgot the other effect: the wind and rain ripped open the back of the mailbox cluster, you know, the kind on the street where there are 16 boxes with keys on the sidewalk side for the people, and two great big doors onto the street side for the mailman to open and stuff all the junk mail in.

So I retrieved two sodden little heaps from the box yesterday, from the day before, dried them out and found one was actually okay, well packed and the contents, a friend's journal, were intact, phew. But I have no idea if any other mail just blew away in the wind....

Then today, the box was still locked, but rain had still poured in again, and all the mail from yesterday was like papier mache, including my copy of FiberArts, sigh, AND my tax refund check. I trust that HP's refund check did not arrive when the boxes were wide open....but I will wait a day or two before panicking over that.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hats ahoy!

I have finished making a family of knitted gifts,

had a terrific time making them, and hope the recipients like them! it's a watch cap for the guy, a neckwarmer for the mom, and a watchette cap for the little boy (and there's a little item inside that one as a surprise which will fall out when he opens it, and might just fit into his current enterprise, which seems to consist of digging and playing in the dirt and making roads, right outside his front door!). Hats are 100 per cent wool, neckwarmer is 100 per cent cashmere, and were all fun to make.

The neckwarmer has a slot that one end slips through and it stays in place. I tested it out and think this might be a wonderful gift item for other people, too.

I saw it on the great Mason Dixon blog, go google it (two women, one in Manhattan, one in Tennessee, hence the title, both screamingly funny writers and skit makers via video as well as expert knitters and writers of knitting books, which are worth the price of admission even if you don't knit, they're that well written).

Anyway, panting a little from that lengthy sentence, this is what comes of studying Latin and Greek at an early age, there. And it seems that Martha Stewart had put it in her mag, evidently letting readers imagine it as an original design by her talent team, but not so fast, a lot of knitters pointed out that it was created years ago and named the actual designer, and if I can find her name, I will credit her! as Martha should have back then.

As to the designer of the hats, that was me. K2P2 rib throughout, with decreases after 9 inches or so to fit the crown. I had HS test the smaller one to make sure it was a bit too snug for a man with short hair, which would make it okay for a small kid. They do have bigger heads than you think, but not as big as a man's. Then I increased the size of the man's and tested it on me, and it works, so that's the extent of the test panel's efforts.

Then came the hard part. Finding wrapping paper and wrapping it and finding a nice presentation bag to hang it on their doorknob to surprise them when they come home.

I swear, all my talent is in other directions than that of wrapping and presenting stuff. Honestly, I can make all kinds of things just by thinking a while then Just Doing It. Wrapping gifts? I'd be fired in a nanosecond from one of those gift wrap counters in the retail stores I never go into. Just can't get the paper, after the lengthy search for it, it to do what I want, then I forget to put names on and have to go back, then I forget to put in a card of explanation, the recipients not being mind readers, and have to go back.

Then I need a cup of tea to recover from the Wrapping Toils. Speaking of which, I have been directed by friends who think I need tranquillizing, can't think why they ttttttthink tttttthis, anyway, to Holy Basil, an Indian herb. I found it in tea form, Tulsi Tea, certified organic and all that, Tulsi being the real name of Holy Basil.

Had the first cup yesterday, these come in teabags, much to my surprise, I was expecting little wooden boxes of loose leaves or something, and I don't know how tranquillizing it is exactly, since I nodded off within a couple of minutes of the first few has that wonderful smell that I associate with Indian textiles and homes, warm and sort of deep, and before you even drink it, you feel calmer. Highly recommend it.

So while HP has his afternoon Lapsang Souchong, or Eau de Asphalt, as Rhonda put it, not a fan, I sip my Tulsi. He's in China, I'm in India. Works for us!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Nautilus and other adventures

It strikes me that Once is Not Enough, at least in the realm of round robin journals, so I'm sending off a sister journal, starting at a different person, but following the same sequence of people we already set up. This way you have a second bite! First recipient is Irene, known in comments on this blog as Dogonart, and we'll go from there. Then we'll have two, count them, two, journals circulating.

This one's different, as you'll see from the pix, also handmade, but with loose leaves tied in a cover, so you can mix and match, please try not to mislay any pages (!) and generally have a good time playing.

Again the inner pages are Arches Hot Press, lovely paper to write, draw, print, glue, stamp on, whatever strikes you.

And this time the invitation is a bit different too: it asks you to examine a good thing, any good thing, and I suggest a list of categories, but you're not stuck with my ideas, and use that thing to work your page, drawing or painting, writing, whatever you like to do. Or you can cut and weave into your page, if you like that. Or sew into it. or knit a bookmark...

The back cover has a woven and stamped paper piece I made and mounted, of the nautilus.

This is a wildly interesting form of sea life which, as it outgrows each segment of its shell, seals it after her and moves on into a bigger section, never looks back, no regrets, just ready for the new adventure.

The woven paper is about the fabric of our lives, which I guess is pretty obvious, but it was nonetheless fun to make. I had a whole solo exhibit a couple of years ago on the subject of the nautilus, because I was ready to start being a Mature Person, cough, cough.

So look forward to this, and please let me know as you receive and send on your journal, the original Day in the Life and this one, Nautilus.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

One Bluebird, Spring Everywhere!

To mangle an old Zen quotation, one bluebird, spring everywhere! seen yesterday at the Preserve.

Sean G. the naturalist who was around yesterday told me a couple of them winter over, even. But this is my first sighting of the year, wonderful sight in the sunlight; this one's a male with the brilliant blue back which you can sort of see.

Yesterday was the first day of gardening at home, too, pulling out old dead foliage and finding the Autumn Joy sedum already has its little green rosettes coming bravely through. I love sedum, which goes and goes, something to show you in all four seasons, just gets on with its life without human intervention at all, my kind of plant. And I started this year's garden journal in one of my libe sale books, the green one with the waterproof cover. Bought a few packets of seeds, too, just in celebration, basil and two kinds of chives.

And, in the spirit of Field and Fen, I used the afternoon that HS was in attendance on HP, to nip over to the Preserve on the first really mild day of the year, temps in the high 40s., to do a bit of nature observation.

First sight was Sean G at the Preserve building, holding a mourning dove in his hands and talking gently to her, the bird's tail whipping up and down, all distressed and breathless. Turns out she'd hit the big window at the building, despite all the decals they have there, because a hawk came zooming around and panicked all the birds at the feeders.

We have sharpshins and Cooper's hawks, both of which prey on other birds and are very active right now. The redwings which also divebomb other birds, earlier in the year, are busy mating now, very much in evidence doing courtship dance circles in the sky, but leaving the other birds alone.

The decals on the Preserve building windows look transparent to humans, but Sean told me they show brilliant blue to birds, as a warning about glass. But when panic sets in all bets are off, and this little guy hit the window and fell. He put her in a sheltered area to recover, and later I stopped back and found she'd gone, so evidently she managed okay.

He showed me bird prints all across the big windows, where birds had hit the glass, and the dust from their wings had imprinted the glass, some places where he showed me an eyeball had hit, ow, and beak outlines. These prints are pretty much not noticeable unless a naturalist points them out in the sunshine, but show up right away once he explains which shapes mean what. Evidently quite a few collisions lately.

I saw a sharpie yesterday, actively hunting. They're wonderful athletes, with long tails they use like a rudder so that they zoom at top speed steering through trees and branches unerringly, terrifying for the small birds scrambling to escape. They're not much bigger than their prey, but a lot more hellbent.

And out on the lake a bunch of common mergansers which I was not able to pic, since they dive at the crucial moment and reappear yards away, out of focus...

But the ice melting from the lake (this lake is hundreds of feet deep, was a quarry), was like a natural watercolor not to be resisted.

And the vernal pond close to the lake.

And the last strip of snow seen across the field, drawing a line under the woods.

Probably not the last of the snow, since we specialize in heartbreaking spring storms with zero temps and massive snowfall just when you thought it was safe, but I'll take the mild weather now, gladly.

And throw in the star formation of clouds from yesterday, too, for cloud collectors.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sign of spring -- library book sale

I use two different libraries, different purposes, different collections. One is a hugely ambitious and wonderful library where my art has flourished and I've had the chance to take a big hand on what goes on in the art world of the town, yay, including helping shepherd a dedicated art galley, not a shared room, not a hallway, into the new library building which we hope will be finished at some time. Tapestry will hang there as soon as it can be accommodated! and many terrific programs happen there, from astronomy to art to robotics to math challenges to Anything That Floats, you name it.

They have booksales all the time, see what I mean about ambitious, and now and then I donate to them, and they fund Sunday opening hours if I remember correctly, with the proceeds, a huge accomplishment in view of the libes that just can't run to Sunday hours any more.

Then there's the other one, where I borrow books and DVDs and music from and hang out, and they, much less ambitious, but nonetheless nice, have an annual booksale, right now, in March, which I treasure.

Mainly I don't buy printed books, got enough of them for current purposes, but I do find lovely blank books, the kind that people got for Christmas, made one entry in then decided it wasn't for them, and send them to the sale.

I usually find some great ones for garden journals and other kinds of uses, often beautiful handmade ones. Some I use as visitor books for art exhibits. This year no handmade, but several spiral bound nice quality, one with perfectly blank unlined and beautiful pages, perfect for ink drawing, AND a book of postcards of Amish quilts, great stuff, which will definitely get into the mail from Boud to lucky recipients.

So I took a pic of my latest haul for your viewing pleasure, and note that the reason for the blotchy effect is that the sun came out and you got shadows of houseplants on them.

And then there's the latest knitting on the needles, using harvested yarn, lovely dark green wool with flecks of blue and other colors, very warm. The sleeves of this sweater became legwarmers for HP.

This is the first of three watchcaps which I plan to give to a local family as a little thank you for services rendered. This is the man's cap, then I'll make the woman's cap in the pale green cashmere you've seen, and their little boy will probably get some bright color yet to be chosen from my stash. Same design, see the unity, but different colors and yarns to suit the recipient. Great fun. I think they'll like them. And there's still enough winter to go to get some use out of them right away. We do specialize in the April freeze and snowstorm around here before winter finally surrenders.

HP has a wonderful new physio, sent by his home visiting doctor, who diagnosed the endless trouble, despite all my care, of the pressure ulcers on his lower back, on his mattress -- nearly a year old, not enough support, letting too much weight rest in one area, despite the alternating pressure mattress cover and the tilting and wedging I do endlessly. He examined the bed, the chair, everything, did some upper body work with HP and left him with exercises to do on his own, since I do the leg ones for him each morning. Excellent session, I'd say.

So HP's doctor has written the Rx for a special air chamber mattress, same principle as the alternating airflow thing we have, also powered by a pump, and since she has Rxed it, Medicare will spring for it, saving us several thousand dollars of out of pocket costs.

Every time something like this happens, I bless LBJ who forced the Medicare system into existence, basically. It has a lot of faults, mainly that you have to be in trouble before it will kick in, so that prevention is not funded at all, a shortsighted thing in my rarely humble opinion, but gosh when you get it, it's wonderful. So much of what a chronic situation needs, supplies, etc., are not covered by any insurance at all, so when a big item is covered, it's great stuff.

No pix of the mattress! hasn't arrived yet. Coming today. But it won't be a scintillating sight, just take my word that we're quite excited about it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March, in like a lamb

White rabbits from yesterday. It's March, and the weather is amazingly milder. Big coat already back in closet, sleeveless puffy vest now the approved outerwear for this coat-hater.

And the snows receded far enough on the patio to reveal brave little snowdrops battling through the ice and blooming like mad, all four of them. Look closely, they're there.

This time last year I was taking them into an intensive care hospital room for HP to enjoy, and it's so great that I can just show him them outside the living room window.

The cashmere scarf is finished, and all the profanity is forgotten and has floated away into the ether, while I admire the finished product.

So soft, such a nice drape.

She's posing here (I have a recipient in mind for this one, but since I think she or her SO reads in here, I shan't give it away, since it will be a surprise), along with the crocheted purse I made for my cellphone, to hang it around my neck at all times, just in case. In our situation, better always have a means of notifying people if something isn't in order around here.

It's a simple single crochet stitch, with the strap just a single chain, which is started at the bottom of each side, so that it can't come adrift. Since a lot of my clothes don't have pockets, this is a Good Thing to have. And I plan to resist the urge to stuff hankies and keys and wallet gear etc., in there...

On the subject of security precautions, I set up a system with HS where I call him daily early morning, leave a message on his voicemail, if he doesn't hear by about 10 a.m. he calls me, if he gets no answer on my cell he comes over (three minutes by car) to check. Which all sounds fine.

Except that last Monday, the first day of our system, I eventually found a message on the landline, HS patiently saying, Mom, I left a message on your cell. I think you forgot to call me. And you forgot to switch on the cell, so if you don't get back to me in a few minutes from now, I'll come over.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I had remembered I should have called, used the landline to leave a message, and finally, finally remembered to check my cell, found it was off, switched on and listened to his message.....we've done a bit better since then. Any eye rolling was kept strictly away from me, this is the most tactful son on the planet.