Friday, February 26, 2010

New beginnings, the Great American Tapestry...

Yeah, right. Anyway, pausing only to create a door snake, about which I'll tell you in a minute, I have started warping up a new bigger tapestry, and have picked out the yarns and strings and ribbons and other stuff that will go into it. At least that's the plan as of this writing. Things tend to change once an artwork is under way. Tentative title, since it's all about reds and pinks, hot colors, is Blaze. Many meanings in that word. I'm still receiving wonderful suggestions for titles for the first group, by the way.

Since we were on the cusp of another snowstorm, I had HP's respite person come anyway, yesterday as scheduled, even though I wasn't going out -- he lives in walking distance, no trouble to get home -- and I spent the time in the studio, wonderful time, no concern about HP two floors down being lonely or needing something, so I was able to just work, and it was such a great idea I must repeat it! in just a couple of hours I did a whole lot of thinking and work on the upcoming tapestry.

You'll notice the wonderful skein of red variegated yarn, thanks to a gift from Heather, which will be an important element in this work. This is from Shepherd Susie's flock, you remember the Lambcam last spring? we probably saw the sheep this came from! and SS's outfit did all the work of shearing, cleaning, carding, spinning and plying and dyeing and skeining, which will cause this tapestry to move a lot faster than the last group, where the artist did all the above.

So it's like Calvin and Hobbes seeing a virgin snowcovered hillside! appropriately enough since we are snowed in AGAIN. Anyway, all is potential at this point. Once I get the rest of the warp yarn, once I get out to the hardware store where I get my art supplies, once they plow us out and dig our paths.

The family that runs our local Ace Hardware is used to my weird searches and really gets into it when I explain that I'm looking for wire or foam or rope or something for art purposes. Makes a change from customers coming in to say this little screw thing fell out of the widget that holds that other thing onto the door and now it won't open.

Meanwhile, back at the front door, see my new door snake?

she does look a bit lumpy, as if she'd swallowed a few mice in quick succession, but she works fine. It's a freecycled scarf, stitched into three channels, outer ones stuffed with batting, inner one empty, so as to slide under the door. This way the door pushes the snake with it so you're not forever tripping on it or putting it back in place. I had seen this concept in a catalog, but they wanted actual money for theirs, and I thought this wasn't too hard to make for myself. Took all of half an hour. I used crochet thread and a tapestry needle to do the stitching, just a simple running stitch. This was the craft portion of the day!

The cashmere lace scarf continues unabated, too. Crafty stuff that only needs following instructions or simple figuring out are fine for keeping HP company. The creative need is pretty low in these cases, and can stand interruptions.

And then there's food, another interesting thing, which I can do with interruptions, too. I fit it into a lot of HP's morning care, and have got pretty adept at changing gears while doing his toothcare and shaving and upper body washing, and other stuff that happens after breakfast, in his chair. Our setup here is very good, since from the kitchen, I can see through the passthrough what he needs help with next, whip into there to help with it, and return to cooking right away. This means he does as much for himself as he can manage, but things still move along well for him.

Today lunch is seafood pasta, lovely seafood mixture from the Asian store with a lot of mussels along with other little sea animals, over linguine, big shake of Parmesan, seafood sauteed in olive oil on a bed of leeks, garlic, onions, with turmeric, black pepper, shake of salt, some flour to thicken the sauce the liquid from the fish creates, and my new favorite spice mix, Chana Masala, which I now add to everything except sliced bread and it might be good there, too.

It adds a bit of heat, and a lot of lovely depth to flavors. Thanks to Mary-Carol for introducing me to this great addition to my repertoire. She is a fabulous cook, currently compiling a cookbook even, so any recommendation from her is taken very seriously around here.

Except the time I called her to ask what the heck is pancetta? I had heard of it on the radio, but nobody explained it, and she said, oh you know, it's like lardon!!!! Well, I ask you, is this an expert or what. I had to admit I didn't know what lardon was, either, so she sort of spelled it out a bit more, heh. It's like a chunk of fat stuff you use on the pan to grease and flavor it. I think.

This is the same MC who plays piano and was the other half of the Floot Piano duo last year before life sort of overtook both of us. AND she paints. Loaded with talent. AND she can write. Lucky me to know her, really.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The joy of freecycle!

As a fervent recycler from decades back, and thrift shopper and maker and inventor, anything is more interesting than just buying at retail -- Woody Allen's family sin -- I have taken to our local Freecycle with great vigor.

I've shed a lot of good stuff that we simply don't use any more and rather than eventually leave HS with a ton of good but useless stuff after we both shuffle off this mortal coil, it seems better all around to share the goods while I can.

Crow on lookout duty for incoming Freecyclers.

And it brings great new ideas and people and options into your life, too. Such as a large box of bed linens, much better quality than the ones I have, and anyway I had too many, plus a box of clothing, small and medium size, which to my amazement almost all fitted. To wit: two designers blazers, which HS tells me look good, numerous tops of various colors I don't usually go for but now like, and three cardigans, and running pants, and pjs and there were a few items that didn't fit, so I freecycled them on in my turn.

Then I overhauled our bedlinens and replaced with the new stuff, and freecycled on a lot I never used plus a few of the incoming items that didn't work for me. Except that I also kept a nice toile bedcover, and a designer top sheet, and an interesting animal print sheer which now hangs over the laundry area to replace the doors I took off years ago, too dangerous for HP when he was falling a lot.

And a scarf, the tubular sort which is colors I don't like to wear, but will make a great door snake, draft excluder thing when I stuff it with batting and stitch it up the middle, to make that shape where half of it is one side of the door, half the other, opens and closes with the door instead of tripping people all the time.

So the outgoing stuff took up its departure position on the bench outside the door, and was swooped on by a number of applicants, there was a waiting list.

This is all good. There is however the flake element in freecycling, which I ran into this time around.

Usually I take people in the order they get to me, since I figure if they're that needy, they should get in line first! so I did this, for a nice lady who said she had a large family, could she take the whole lot, and I agreed that would work fine.

I asked her to tell me a day and time she would swing by, giving her the address, since the weather's bad and I didn't want the stuff out in the elements any longer than necessary. So she writes back asking me when she should come. And where I live. Figuring that the email had gone astray I repeated all the stuff but asked for a time, etc., since the mom of a large family can't fit into my schedule very well.

So she writes and says oh this will be great, when shall I come. Whereupon I said, okay, it's outside NOW, why not come over asap before it rains. So she writes and says, oh, actually I didn't mention that I'm across the river in Pennsylvania, about an hour away, and I can't get there before March 15 when I have another appointment in that area, is that okay?

So I politely said, no, not okay, going to the next person on the list.. which I did and the whole transaction was completed in about two hours start to finish! I love people who know what they want and go ahead. And especially when they email back after they've got home with their haul to say they're happy!

I just have this amused sense that stuff is traveling in small circles all the time, not getting into the landfill till all else is exhausted.

Receiving Freecycling is a little excursion/adventure, too, since you go to new places (safe addresses around here, and people put stuff out in a designated spot to pick up), find streets you never knew existed, and make armslength acquaintance with new and interesting people.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pix for Painters Part the Second

Just for your continuing viewing delight, or use as screensaver or raw material for painting, printmaking, carving, knitting, weaving etc., here are a few nice pix from today's walks.

Winter sun over the sunflower field in Cranbury, growing snow and ice right now.

Cropped picture of the field, sun sliding down the sky.

Plainsboro Pond seen through the gazebo

Winter sun reflected in the pond.

Another time I'll tell you about my incredible haul via Freecycle today!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Scenes for painters coming up, aka This One's for You, Maureen!

Artist friend Maureen recently asked if I would mind her using some of my landscape pix, printed out from this blog, as raw material for paintings, and I said that would be fine, and thank you so much for asking first. Can't tell you how many people have swiped my work as a screensaver or to copy from, and been quite miffed when I pointed out that they need to ask first, since it's my property! that's not always fully understood.

I usually explain that if they admired my car, that doesn't give them the right to drive off in it! I might lend it to them if they ask, heck, I might even give it to them, but it's still my property.

Artist Maureen of course fully knows about copyright, and all of that, and I was happy to agree.

So it occurred to me while I was out walking today, wonderful late winter day, cold but not bitter, bright blue sky with little clouds scudding across, windy but the birds still out and getting active and starting their spring songs because of the lengthening daylight, anyway, it occurred to me that I could post pix in here specifically for people who might like to swipe and paint from them, or carve sumpin, or knit from them, or whatever.

So feel free to do so, and let us all know if you made something wonderful based on any of them!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Completed tapestry and friends

I can now declare the tapestry to be completed. It's all finished, backed onto a kind of ecru canvas that doesn't draw attention to itself, slotted with a dowel at the top and hung in place in the living room awaiting an exhibit opportunity, as soon as the new gallery opens, which will be at some point, not exactly known yet, since it's part of a new library under construction and almost finished.

As usual it's hard for me to apply words to my work in the form of a title, but if anyone has any cool ideas, please feel free to offer them. When I show this work, I plan to acknowledge Carol Q. who turned me onto spinning with a spindle, Paula L. who gave me the fleece, and friends on Ravelry who taught me how to use KoolAid to dye the resulting yarns I spun, dyed, and wove into these three related pieces. And if anyone comes up with an irresistible title, I will duly credit you with that, too.

The big monotype next to the tapestry is one I made years and years ago, and which has earned a good bit of recognition, nice to say.

What amuses me is that I still, as you see, like that long narrow configuration. I also love short wide paintings, too. Just do not at ALL like squares or circles.

Squares are too, um, static for me, despite Albers' Homage to the Square, and circles are too suffocating, no exit sort of deals. I know people make wonderful mandalas and rondels and there's a long honorable tradition of the circle, perfect form and all that, it's just that I would have to hold my breath the whole time and I can't face working in the circle.

I also took a pic to show you the new work and her friends -- bits of glassware I like on the shelves, and a fibre piece hanging from the ceiling which I made a couple of years ago when I was first fooling with string and freeform knitting.

Oddly enough, exactly as I can never explain or remember all the processes of painting or mixed media work I've done, I can't remember exactly what stitches I used in this piece.

There's knotting and netting and trinity stitch and massive increase/decrease things to make the folds, but I would have a hard time explaining it further! the armature is a bird's perch. Relic of my lovely cockatiel, so this is partly a tribute to her. She would have loved to take part, yanking on the strings, and generally creating a lot of new knots and frayed bits.

The string is regular mason's twine, from the hardware store, my favorite art shop.

So do give me the benefit of your creative title ideas, blogista friends! all ideas happily received and examined.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still points, various

Time for a little reading matter.

What with various stresses going on in life, I figured it was time to revive my meditation practice, using a really helpful little book which comes with its own CD. I was a bit delayed by my inability to lay hands on the helpful little book and CD which had been put away when we did the Great Book Move for the Beautiful Floor, and found I was starting to get all mad and huffy over it. After I cracked up laughing at the notion of losing my temper because I couldn't get my meditation started, all the mad went away.

The reason the CD is useful is that it gives you, aside from comments, a couple of periods of silence (yes, I see the irony of buying a silent CD) where a gong strikes to start your meditation and another one ends it.

This helps me a whole lot, since I can stop looking over at the clock anxiously, and just do it. Also, this man has a great method of counting, so that you count one exhale, two inhale, three exhale, etc., up to ten. But if stray thoughts come jostling in, which they always do, you simply let them drift off and start over at one exhale, two inhale. It's good.

I notice that when you do this, all the surrounding animals also calm down, must be the vibes.

So that's for nonreading nonknitting nonmaking tapestry (backing is now ON and drying up in the studio) times. Distractible? me? oh look, a bird, no not me...

Poetry also keeps breaking in, and I want to mention Ted Kooser, Lights on a Ground of Darkness, a wonderfully evocative title. And the lead poem, about his mother, has this passage which is the most totally musical, carry the reader along in good hands, passage I've read in ages:

Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass and the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches.

What an opener! I stopped in the middle of a stanza, because this is the bit I wanted to say, oh, look, listen, read it, it's a great ride. The way it tapers off to the end. It's a memory of his mother near his own birthday, the gift she gave him of birth, and her own recent death, and well you just might want to read this whole collection.

Then Alison Lurie, not a novel this time, but a series of essays about classic children's stories, very interesting insights. Dr Seuss does not escape her laser beam -- she really explained to me why I hate Oh The Places You'll Go. I hadn't grasped that it's really a yuppie, acquisitive, bigger is better, famous is even better, rich is best of all, sort of ode. I just knew I hated it. She mourns the early Seuss who didn't think much of following the rules and getting rich, was more subversive.

And she is worth following for her accounts of Grimm, Anderson and various other children's myth and fairy tale and morality tale writers.

And my latest detective story discovery, by a wonderful writer, now a TV series, too, I notice locally, her Sergeant Murdoch, a Victorian policeman in Toronto. Apparently very authentic settings and historical accounts, but mainly rattlin good mystery stories. Maureen Jennings wrote them. And I'm very glad she did. All the elements to like: Victorian historical settings, great story, good mystery, appealing hero, strong women. All you need is a cup of tea and you're set.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to us all!

Since Valentine's Day is about friendship and love of all kinds, happy VDay to us all, dear blogistas, and remember that the paired thing is only a sidebar issue. We don't live in Noah's Ark....

Handsome Partner and Handsome son came through handsomely for this blogwriter, with one giving shopping requests and the other fulfilling them, then joining forces to write the card and envelope.

Major effort for HP to write at all, and I treasure his writing an entire wish inside the card, which I show not to brag, but to admire and be glad about. Thinking back to last year at this time and the total crisis we were all in, it's wonderful to be able to just celebrate like this.

The cats were very interested in the new box and card and the strange smell coming from the box when I opened it, and Duncan appointed himself Chief Inspector, just in case it was something good like tuna or ham, then shook his head to Marigold and they both strolled casually away, like, oh we knew it was something rotten like chocolate, all the time...

This is a multiple festival time, what with Chinese New Year, the year of the Tiger, and Mardi Gras, and Valentine's Day and in the US Presidents' Day, which I think is written that way since it celebrates plural Presidents. All happening right now. Gosh, the mandatory shopping alone gives you pause...

Anyway, enjoy the day, especially if you get to just not do much. People involved in the Knitting Olympics or the Ravelympics are no doubt already clicking away, but me, nah, knitting not being a competitive event, heh. Profanity in the course of knitting, now I could medal in that, easy.

I notice they've added another newly invented verb, having established medalling as a verb. The new one I notice is to podium!!! meaning get at least some medal or other. Well, he may yet podium on that one, I quote.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Big Snows make Good Neighbors

View out onto the patio before the storm was completely over with.

View out front -- those white elephantine shapes have cars under them..

Or rather big snows give generous people the opportunity to plunge in and help. This blogpost is a paean of praise to our good neighbors, who the day after record breaking snow, close to two feet fell, helped get my car out without being asked.

Day after we'd been socked in, the doorbell rang while I was giving HP breakfast, a neighbor asking for my car keys and saying they were about to dig my car out! I looked out and there were Bill B., Fumiko B and three year old Ken B., all dressed, armed with snow shovels, and ready to get to work. They not only shoveled out the car all around and behind it, a huge labor, if you look at the pix I posted which were taken BEFORE all the snow finished falling, but then warmed it up, backed out and turned it facing outward. As Bill explained, in case you need to get out in a hurry, you can.

I had barely recovered from this generosity when I got a call from another neighbor who reported she'd sent her son (this is the young man who sits with HP twice a week to let me get out for a while) down the street with a shovel to dig me out and he'd reported, hey, it was done already, Mom! then when I got out to take out garbage which I had dug out from the snow on my porch, yet another neighbor said he'd got togged up to come out and dig my car, then found it was done. Do I live in a good place or what?

All these friends know our situation and are simply not waiting to be asked for help. They'd give it gladly if I asked, but I didn't need to. The last big snowstorm we had, another couple of neighbors stopped me from trying to dig, and said, no, stop, go in the house, we'll do it. And one of them stopped by later to get my car keys and move my car out of the way of the plow so they could clear out all the parking spaces.

HS couldn't help, since he was totally snowed in and digging out of his own home miles away during all this activity. He made sure we were okay, though.

See, this is why we don't live in a retirement community! neighbors half your age and willing and kind are irreplaceable. Not to mention interesting, since there's a huge range of ages, occupations, races, nationalities just in this little block. Musicians, IT guys, accountants, graduate students, ferret rescuers, from the US, Japan, China, India, heck even NEW YORK!!!

Anyway, we're blessed and I just thought I'd like to say so.

And on the subject of people who come through, I offer you the first of the pictures of the miniature needleworks you adopted.

This is courtesy of Hali D, who also sent a lovely image of the rest of that wall o' stuff, but for some reason I couldn't get it to come in here! nemmind, she did a wonderful job of getting the Tudor Rose pieces framed and I love it.

How's the Round Robin Journal coming? is it on its way to Ontario yet?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tangrams and taxes

Today seems to be Numbers Day.

Now that I've assembled all the federal tax info for HP and for me, two separate productions, not being a married pair, I decided to do a rough draft of the taxes, knowing we both have something coming back, and managed to get both done, whipping back and forward between last year's copies and this year's forms and the massive volume of instructions and ending up finding yes, indeed, we will get some $$ back.

In earlier years, HP used to make a huge production out of Doing His Taxes, involving days of calculations and sharpened pencils and lined yellow pads, and muttering and trying out this way and that to see what would work best, and generally driving me bananas over what is a comparatively simple matter. Particularly in view of the small numbers of $ involved.

Then last year at this time, HP was in the rehab, and HS and I made an executive decision to do his taxes, HS would recheck, just in case, since I was in crisis and gosh I might make mistakes, can't think why, and we did get it done, and presented to HP, took him through it and got his signature. Total time elapsed: less than two hours.

Today my own took about half an hour, his took about the same. This beats the heck out of paying a preparer to make the same mistakes I would make anyway. In fact I don't mind taxes at all, even in the years when mine have been very complex, with depreciation and interest and dividends and 1099s and all that.

Not that I've ever had any money to speak of, in fact what I've earned barely rates a whisper, despite how hard I worked and, immodestly, how much good I really did do. The complications don't decrease with the actual dollar value, sigh.

Doing important work for people in need and for animals and making art and creating art workshops for adults and for homeless children, and a lot of other stuff I've done isn't rewarded with a lot of $, but the psychic rewards are great. Except it's hard to present psychic money at the supermarket.

Anyway, I did this on me tod (UK slang, Tod Sloan, on my own, you know, rhyming stuff) for years and a tax accountant friend said he was worried that I was doing this and maybe missing out on valuable advantages and could have have a free of charge look over it, and let me know if he thought he should help, or refer me.

So I thought what the heck, okay, here, take a look. He came back after a couple of days and said, well, you certainly seem to know what you're doing. I couldn't find anything I would have changed. So that was nice,and I was very nice to him considering I could have jeered and said, ah ye of little faith, and mean stuff like that. But taxes, if you don't panic, and have all the stuff organized are not that awful. It's the organization of the paper and numbers ahead of time that kills you.

On a sadder note, I also celebrated Numbers Day by filling in the first of what will be a few Financial Disclosure forms for a local nursing home that may become HP's home, at least to get him on the waiting list. He's on board with this, knows it's inevitable probably, and is only concerned that I keep my hands on it all to make sure it goes well. Which is both a vote of confidence and a huge burden, when you think of it!

But numbers and shapes have happy sides, too, and I discovered Tangrams this week, too. I'd heard of them, but didn't know much about them. They're a set of shapes that fit together to make a double square, but then the parts can be rearranged, using all the seven pieces, to make all kinds of funky images, great fun, endlessly silly.

Originally a Chinese furniture designer made use of the concept to build tables that could be arranged according to need, and I found nice pix of this in modern form.

And you can prove Pythagoras' famous theorem using tangram pieces.

And, best of all I plan to make a set of my own using cardstock or something, just to play with, and best of allest, I realized that that lovely handmade box with the footcare stuff I showed you a while back is a perfect square, so will be a good home for my homemade tangram when I get it cut out.

So that's us! now for tea and snoozing while the blizzard roars on out there, all the places that were plowed this morning are all filled in again. But this snow is so good for the garden. At least that's what I keep saying.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yarns, and other tales.

I decided that I needed to get on with using the lovely pale green cashmere yarn I unraveled from a thrift store sweater, and for reasons unknown to me, chose a lace scarf pattern to test it on. Well, I did warn my resident observers that knitters have a large and colorful vocabulary, most of it unprintable in this civilized blog, and I certainly justified that claim.

However, it's started, finally, after six different unsuccessful runs at it...starting with reading line one of the pattern instead of line three, and line five instead of line one, etc., even after I'd made my own little chart, check here if you've finished this line....the problem with lace knitting is that you really have to look back and forth between the stitches on the needles and the written pattern, and lemme tell you, with progressive lenses this is not so easy.

You tend to get the ssks and yos and k2togs kind of out of order as you glance back and forth. Then you tend to find you knitted one half of line one of the pattern and followed it up with a second half of line three because a kitty pushed the pattern aside to get on your lap in midknit.

Then you get desperate and get a big bulldog clip and clip the whole shebang open at the actual line you're supposed to be on. And remember to put in lifelines (those black threads are lifelines). You thread them through at intervals so if something awful happens you only rip back to the line, not to the beginning yet again.

Anyway, the scarf is now officially launched and I'm really liking it. Cashmere is lovely to work with, just slips gently through your fingers without taking off like a maniac or dragging back. Of course my observers are lying down quietly with a cool cloth on their foreheads.

Then there are the results of other recently harvested sweaters, one a cotton sort of wheaty blend color, which will be something for summer, the other a seagreen 100 per cent wool.

The arms of the seagreen sweater are now legwarmers for HP, perfectly warm and cosy in our recently ghastly weather, and the body part you see awaiting brilliant ideas, probably not involving lace.

The other two sweaters are going to be a mixture of legwarmers and hats and mittens and warm stuff for HS as well as HP.

They're MANLY colors, don't look like candy...and one is a lovely cashmere/merino mix, the other lambswool.

Which all raises the question, why, why, do all this? answer comes there right away: have you priced cashmere or good lambswool in the retail yarn stores lately? also these are sweaters that don't fit any of us or that nobody likes the style, or something very picky gang around here. But the materials are lovely.

And there's the thrill of the hunt...tantivy!

Speaking of which, I'm reading a massive biography of Queen Eliz. the Queen Mum, who lived to 102, hence the size of the book, I guess. I wonder if the bio writer knew what he would be in for when he agreed to it years and years ago...anyway, it's pretty good as a history of the UK during her lifetime as well as hers. And the PBS tv movie about her and King G. VI was pretty accurate, it turns out, many quotes directly from the research shown in this book, well done, too.

I'm the least monarchy loving of people, think it really never should have been and should be gone, and yet I'm still a fan of royal stuff! the Queen looking at horses, the Queen with herds of corgis biting her footmen, Princess Anne falling off her horse (actually she was on the Olympic jumping team, she's very good but everyone falls off sometimes), etc. etc. And the hats!!!! OMG the hats...anyway, it's a guilty pleasure.

And now I have to have a nice cup of afternoon tea with HP, Lapsang Souchong for him, fruit teas for me. Very civilized, very little profanity to be heard.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chinese New Year soon, art celebration

At the library I use there's an exciting exhibit, small but lovely, of Chinese calligraphy and images, carved into wood and inked. It's a stunning notion, and apparently not a new one in Chinese art, to carve calligraphy into wood as well as onto paper, and this local artist is sharing a terrific output.

The largest piece, the horizontal one which does not show up well in the picture, because the incision is not inked, just left natural, took two years to carve -- it's a classic Chinese poem, written in political exile, about the simple beauty of everyday life and sights.

My favorites are the plum blossom/bamboo piece

and the small really flying exciting calligraphy. It hardly matters if you can translate, since the work itself is so visually exciting to see.

I've taken a picture of the explanatory text meant to tell us nonChinese readers about the tradition and meaning of the pieces.

Remember you can usually click on pix to enlarge them. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Candlemas. And Ground Hog.

Candlemas Day today, officially the day you can stop using the candles in the evening because the nights are getting lighter. Or something.

I believe it also replaced some earlier celebration, which no doubt knowledgeable blogistas will comment on to tell us, with a Christian version of it! and it's the Catholic Feast of the Purification, has to do with Mary recovering from the birth, you know the one, on December 25.

Six weeks on, and there is a Catholic ceremony for new mothers called Churching, where she goes to the church and trails about after the priest holding onto the end of his stole (long purple scarfy thing) praying together. Officially a ceremony of thanksgiving for a safe birth, unofficially a cleansing ceremony, sexist anyone....but I digress.

Getting out into the countryside, Groundhog Day and our local groundhog, Punxsatawney Phil gets to tell us whether there will be six more weeks of winter. Well, I suspect there will be, no matter what Phil has to say or squeak on the subject.

And Marigold the Burmese kitty, celebrated by abandoning her new favorite afghan, the one you saw in rough draft, now an FO (finished object, you have to be on knitting site Ravelry to get these terms).

So anyway, it left the afghan free to show you without a cat covering half of the design up.

It's a magic afghan, all lambswool and other fluffy stuff, guaranteed nap within minutes of getting under it.

Keep warm, everyone!