Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, blogistas, The Dollivers Bring you 2012

Before we'd got used to writing 2011 here it almost isn't any more.

Some readers have already seen in the New Year, some are close to it, and here in the eastern US it's morning and I'm planning on getting around to cooking a nice New Year's welcome lunch for HS. Mixed seafood chowder, with lovely garlic bread, then shortbread, German fruitcake, cheddar cheese, eggnog, possibly California white wine, an international spread, come to think of it.

Meanwhile, the Dollivers broke out the champagne and the pink ribbons, and with Porcelain Doll playing the part of Baby 2012 -- she had campaigned to be the baby in the manger and was all upset to find the part was already assigned, so this is her consolation prize -- they, and the Little Dolls and the Tinies and the Animals all wish you and your teddybears a lovely, healthy, happy, thrifty, joyful New Year!

Bells, whistles, sirens, singing...

And the Ds., pointed out I'd forgotten the most important wish of all, and insisted I come back and add it:

Lang may yer lum reek!

they want you to know this is Lowland Scots for long may your chimney smoke, which means long life, since you'll be stoking the fire in your fireplace!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Good Omen! the snow goose

Out walking today, feeling better and better now that Christmas is receding into history, and we did okay, and even enjoyed it, more than just getting through it. And I scored a wonderful freecycle receiving thing of clothes, some of which I passed on again in my turn, beautiful stuff but for a much younger wearer. I now have three pairs of dress pants, black, navyblue and brown, all of which fit and look fine, and several tops ditto.

I passed on some great stuff too, to other grateful freecyclers. I've had great experiences with other freeyclers, kindred spirits. Several of them wrote condolence notes after HP died, though they'd never met him, and even made calls on me at home. One man who just found out, said I was NOT to spend money on repairs to my car before consulting with him and his mechanic friends for a look at it, since they're all shade tree mechanics! Very protective group, I'd say.

That's the other part of the equation. To me thrifting and freecycling are not just about saving money and not just about sparing the earth, though they're important to me, it's also about living very well, finding friends in unlikely places, looking sharp, not as if I'm wearing old stuff! even if I am... sometimes when a friend likes my outfit and says so, I laugh inside since it usually cost me close to zero, other than a few minor alterations. Shopping for fresh food, cooking from scratch means eating well and cheaply at the same time. Giving plants from my garden to freecyclers and receiving some, too, makes a good community feeling. Anyway, I like this life.

Wonderful skies today

and there on the pond, busted! are hundreds of Canada geese who've been flying around in dramatic v shaped skeins, honking and bragging about migrating, yes, we're really migrating this year, we are, honest.

And here they are a mile away lolling about on the pond, walking distance from where they were flying.

Among them, calling their bluff, is a snow goose, one of the geese who really do migrate thousands of miles and just occasional stop over here for a couple of hours' rest and rec. before taking off again.

It's a good omen!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Art happens while you're making other plans

So what with one thing and another, I've been thinking a bit more longterm, things like is this place right for me, do I have too much house, leading to,well, the first thing to do is to continue organizing and clearing, including taking the parts of my lovely custom made platform bed down from the third floor studio to the second floor bedroom. Big decisions like housing are a bit further down the road.

Some back story here: when HP and I had separate homes, I had a lovely double size platform bed built, perfect because it breaks down into a number of very portable component parts, but is sturdy as a rock when assembled, clever engineering. However, it was too low for HP when we combined homes, impossible for him to get out of. So we adopted his bed, and I broke mine down and carted it up to the loft, which was now my studio.

And used the parts, the main base as worktops, the supporting bits as shelving, all very pragmatic and useful. But now I can think about bringing it down again as part of the general organizing principle. Soooooo, that meant moving a ton of stuff off the worktop, and the shelves and fighting off the cats who were anxious to help, and reuniting the parts ready for HS (he doesn't know this part yet) to bring down one floor to the bedroom and help me install it in place of the current bed. Which will involve taking the frame part out of the current one, but we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Anyway, in the course of doing this, I found all kinds of great stuff, including a few artpieces I'd put away and never found again, joyful reunion, and parts of future artist books, which is great because next week I'm doing a little presentation about artist books, specifically the sort we circulated around our Field and Fen group, since the local group is interested in taking a shot at this. I know where my complete books are, but now I have more interesting raw material in addition, to show people who probably haven't done artist books before. Your original art will be hugely admired, dear blogistas!

And I found a huge binder of ATCs (artist trading cards, for them as don't know about them, like baseball cards, but original art), and I can bring them in to share and show, too.

At this point, panting and dusty and wondering if I should have ever started on this, you know how you get halfway through a job like this, I realized that the newly cleared worktop (oh, I found all my mulberry paper and Arches lovely hotpress, too, yay, oh yes, and I found all the stencils and stamps and things I might use to teach the little girl scouts if they ever ask me to do it, and located the crate of kits I made for teaching monotypes, which I will be doing in February) anyway, where was I, oh yes, the worktop that was on top of the bits from the bed had seen yeoman use as I painted and printed,over the years, and I realized that accidental art had taken place there, too.

So, before it gets all filled up again with artwork and materials, I took a few quick pix. Thought you'd like this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reading, Writing and Other Dangerous Pursuits

I've scored a couple of Penelope Livelys from the used bookstore, the usual layered many sided narrative, wonderful sweep which simply picks up you and bears you forward. The Photograph is the latest, about the accidental discovery by a man in search of paperwork in his house, of a photograph of his late wife indicating that she may not have been as faithful as he assumed. That's the first shot in a rapidfire series of discoveries, rethinking, as the kaleidoscope of many lives hers intersected with is shaken and all the people fall down any old how in different places than they thought they were, staggering to their feet and trying to reorient themselves to this new world. Finally, she has power from the grave. Wonderful writing. She has all kinds of insight into the different forms of memory, and I'm very aware at the moment of how one gesture or picture or word can trigger vivid memories from many years ago, and the need to fathom some meaning in them, or to realize they're just random associations the brain has made. Everything doesn't have significance.

And the Victorian mystery, about a bumbling English police officer and his astute household staff who assist him constantly, thereby keeping him in a job and themselves in a good billet, funny, good for when you don't want to be seriously thinking.

Then there's my latest math discovery, about algebra. I was in the libe this morning and couldn't resist starting on this, complete with quizzes and little surprising things, ended up spending two hours studying it and had to bring it home to continue. I was even making notes and comparing my answers to the correct ones.

I love to explore the foothills of math, probably as far as I'm going to get at this point, without the pressure of the teachers I had in school many years ago,who I now realize were no good at all, sigh, and probably didn't like the subject themselves. This time I'm going to get further into algebra since this writer promises I'll actually understand not just how to work it, but why it works as it does, something they never teach you in school. The least I'll get is a new adventure.

I've already learned about ten new things about number patterns just from the introduction. At school I could do all this stuff, but my attempts to find out what was behind it, how the mechanics of it actually worked below the surface, were firmly rebuffed by teachers who, I'm now guessing in hindsight, had no idea themselves and were unwilling to look silly in class!

So, just to show how stubborn Yorkshire folk can be, here I am nearly 65 years later, still determined to find out! I expect my teachers have all gone to the great chalkboard in the sky by now. My parents, who never had the chance to learn algebra, used to pronounce it the historically correct way: alGEBra. Which is really how it is, since it's an Arabic word, the Arabs having taken it on, developed and codified it to very much where we understand it today. At some point the ALgebra pronunciation took over and that meaning was largely lost.

This evening my DVD shows continue, tonight with Secret Life of Bees, just to see how I like it. I did try the novel, couldn't seem to crack it, though, but here goes another way of trying.

Did I mention that I'm considering a new approach for the New Year: that I don't have to finish anything if I don't want to. This will be a seismic shift in my hellbent approach to life, and will be interesting to see what comes of it. Imagine: throwing down a book because I'm just tired of waiting for it to work for me. Switching off the music I have heard enough of for now. Coming home halfway through a walk because I don't feel like finishing. This will be a different world if I manage this.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve and Day to us all!

My modest Christmas prep complete, I was free to wander about the neighboring historic village, complete with historic markers and gravestones and preRevolutionary spots and all. Beautiful sunny cold day, much better in my book than snow...

So I thought you'd enjoy a Christmas bouquet of pictures. These same places are a riot of lights at night but you know how that is: your pictures come out looking like pinpricks in a card. So daytime worked better.

Note the nutcracker in place ready at this house

and this is a lawyer's office! bah humbug

but their neighbor is very optimistic

and Martha would be proud of this perfectly neat, orderly, restrained festive display

while down the street, Teddy's lunch cafe is invaded by a rowdy gang in the window

Once the walking and the clicking were done, I sloped into the local secondhand bookstore to shop for my own Christmas present to me, and emerged with a couple of Penelope Lively's, perfect for reading over and over.

Enjoy your holiday, and if Christmas isn't your thing,enjoy the weekend and look forward to the New Year. Unless you do Chinese New year which you have a bit more time to plan for. Late January this year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Festivus Time, and the Festivus Pole makes its annual appearance

It's time, among all the maelstrom of Solstice, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, for Festivus, the Festival for the Rest of Us, immortalized by George's father, on Seinfeld.

So the local population decided they could get behind today's Recital of the Grievances. You have to hold the Festivus Pole while you do this, it's like a talking stick. And it was useful in beating back the crowds in the household wanting to get their words in, and reducing the delegations to a representative manageable number.

Blondie Firstborn: Gimme that stick! I just want to say I was here first. Perfect, beautiful, blonde, even, and then what? all these other Dollivers showed up. Why, why? wasn't I enough? we had to get Call me Michelle, and Dreads and NameMe and Bette Davis, too, and share all the dresses? I could have five of these pink dresses right now, all mine, all different styles, if I didn't have to share, I could drive the clubhouse anywhere without a debate, I could have ALL the earrings at once, hey, where's my pole gone??

We took it. The housing situation in this neighborhood is just terrible. Far too many of us being asked to squash into one chair. We want more chairs. More furniture. Reading lights. Nightstands. Little bowls of candy.

Nemmind about that, give us that pole thing. We animals demand a greater say in the running of this blog. We're not just comic relief, you know. We have a role in the great circle of life. Which could include nicer fodder, while you're at it. Meanwhile, we stake our claim to this jungle, and here's the stake to prove it. Oh look out, that giant meat animal just took the pole away..

Listen, a feller can't get a quiet afternoon's sleep around here without marching and protests and slogans shouted all over, so cool it before I roll over on the lot of you.

And once again, Duncan the Peacemaker quiets the madding crowd and lets Boud have a nice winter cup of tea and a read at my ancient Nancy Mitford.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice from the Dollivers

After a lot of tedious pressure exerted by us, Boud finally got off the dime and made us our Solstice Dresses. All different. And golden bouquets. And hats. And we chose the picture we liked best after a lengthy photo opp. which Boud did not appreciate at all. Just because Marigold the cat kept on wanting to help with our hats. We think Boud's planning to flounce away any time now.

Anyway, never mind her, Happy Winter Solstice from us all! and here's to more daylight and more dresses.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy First Day of Hanukkah!

Dolliver BetteDavis won the scuffle to present the greetings for the first day of Hanukkah to blogistas who celebrate it. Some of you are in the time zone where it's already begun, some not, so this is an average posting time.

No dreidels around these days, though we were first introduced to them with HS came home from school with a little blue top thing which I didn't recognize, and I made sure it was a gift, evidently his whole class got a little dreidel. But I had no idea what it was about, so before I let him have it, I consulted with my friend at work, my guru on all things Jewish. Whereupon she burst out laughing and explained it's a TOY, doofus, give it to him to PLAY with! so I did.

The thing was that I didn't know how sacred it might be, and as a cradle Catholic I would have cringed if I'd seen a kid playing with, say, a rosary, as if it were a plaything. So all was well, he got to play with it, and he learned the dreidel song, and applied it at random to all kinds of other things at will. Oh teddy, teddy, teddy, etc., as little kids will.

Meanwhile, back at the Ds. clubhouse, there's a lot of loose talk about how Hanukkah means a new dress every day for eight days...we'll see how far that goes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Feathers, anyone?

This is a freezing cold bright day, the kind where you want to go out walking, but also think it would be good to have feathers. Anyone who has handled a bird knows how startlingly warm they are, in fact pet cockatoos who want to cuddle around your neck all the time can be too warm for comfort. Even a little parakeet is a warm passenger.

But big outdoor birds, I guess, are even better insulated, considering they never get under cover indoors. Here's a redtail hawk, yesterday, scoping out the possibilities for lunch

And he's found an unlucky bird.

One second after this shot, there was a flurry and a scream. Nature red in tooth and claw.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Dollivers and their Threads

Several items converged to trigger a frenzy of embroidery among the Dollivers this week. They discovered that there is a town of Dolliver in Iowa, and instantly needed to distance themselves from the notion that they might be country girls from Iowa, when everyone knows they are collateral members of the Royal family of England.

As they point out, their original notion was Clare Garland's book Knitted Babes,designs for Ds adapted by Boud. C and B both being Brits! great street cred. among the royal crowd. And the attention to clothes and jewels, of COURSE the Ds. must be royal, for pity's sake.

So Boud seized on the opportunity to get a sweatshop going, and explained that the attention to threads was indeed a way of proving their impeccable origins. They translated this as new clothes and agreed instantly.

Then found they were assigned to the embroidery assembly line to help with this wallhanging gig. Protests were smothered when Boud further pointed out that all true English persons embroider, I mean there's a ROYAL school of embroidery. English little girls are creweling away before they can read...She rested her case. And her hands, which were a bit tired with embroidering this morning.

And with fervent hopes from the Ds that her rest from embroidering will free her up to attend to holiday gear for them, they set to work with needle and thimble and brushpen, to continue the artwork, which they muttered is cruel work.

Speaking of artwork and timing, this is a picture of a wonderful gift in action

KH's silk and cashere bookmark, newly arrived in the mail, perfectly timed to help Boud read the book Indigo. I mean, it just belongs in there! book reviews of Indigo and Hunger Games at a later date.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Despatches from the Front. And the Inside

Yesterday was undoubtedly one of the best natal days I've had in years and years. I think there was a pent-up need among friends to do something nice and here was the perfect reason to do it! what with greetings via email, cards, notes, gifts from friends, wonderful sudden lunch invitation to lovely Girija's for lunch, indian foods cooked from scratch and perfectly great, bouquet from sister Irene, which arrived right after I got home after lunch, all was just excellent!

My plan to loll about had to wait till late afternoon, after a brisk walk to recover from the great lunch.

One birthday gift was Belgian chocolate truffles, rich and I was careful to have only a few of them with a glass of wine, which constituted dinner. And discovered later that my aging system rose up in anger against the assault on my innards! agonizing heartburn for half the night, just about able to tear open the little pink pills, encased in impregnable plastic, and fight back. Ow. So now I know. If you don't have chocolate for a long long time then have some, since I'm not a big chocolate person, it's much more of a challenge than you might have thought....or maybe the wine was too heady a combo!

All fine today, though, maybe I'm immunized now...we'll see. Nonetheless, still the best birthday for years and years, and thank you everyone who helped add to it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What do Beethoven, Jane Austen, Gary P., Tarang J., MaryAnn, Anthony and I all have in common? All hellbent Sagittarians, celebrating birthdays around now. I'm in good company as I welcome in my 73rd today.

Last evening Handsome Son came over complete with ingredients and tools to cook us both a terrific Birthday Eve dinner, he not being available today, and I provided a small chocolate cake. All was devoured in short order, and to candlelight provided by tealights in the fireplace, much easier than a fire going, we had a great time talking and watching Parks and Recreation, a sitcom I can't think how I missed first time around, too funny.

I plan on loafing today. And looking around idly and thinking of what to plant next season and watching the birds showing up for their meals on the patio. And reading Hunger Games and Indigo. And watching a DVD of Monk. And other such demanding plans.

All is just fine with my world!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A First in the Life of Boud

In all the adventures I've ever undertaken, I've never taken part in a bookclub. Heeding the warnings of various bookclub experts, I looked around, eliminated one whose leader I've known and oh well, for years, and moving right along, another one whose choices were a bit trite, some who met in private homes with no fixed leader, and finally have joined a local libe club.

It's yet another library. I now use three of them. I'm becoming a connoisseur of libes. anyway, this group is not only based in the library, which provides the meeting place and coffee and cookies, but two librarians who know the books, choose them, and are very good at running the meeting. I went to my first one today, a bit hesitant, but found it was great fun, friendly group, and really stayed on the subject of the book at hand which EVERYONE HAD READ! big deal right there. Intelligent discussion, too, not just oh, I loved it, oh I didn't.

And they arrange to have enough copies available for members to take the next month's selection home right away to get into. By the time I arrived home with my copy of the January book, there was an email with the listing for the whole of 2012 already in my mailbox. This is great. I feel very taken care of.

I think I could start to enjoy this. I kind of forced myself to go, feeling a bit down,and the weather and all that, just as I forced myself to go out to Recorder Society last night,and had a great time there, too.

Bit by bit, I'm building a new life. Sounds very dramatic put like that. Well, it is dramatic! I've sent in my signup for a daylong recorder workshop in March, first time in years I've been able to get there and have a natter with me mates.

So the new mantra: don't just sit there, go out to your group!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Secret Santa Part Two

Two of the Ds. decided to be the delivery folks when Pete the Penguin set off for his new owner, Barb P. at the libe, with Pete stuffed into their knitted carrying bag. A penguin fan, she had no idea what she was in for when the picture was taken, but did give Pete a great welcome once she'd unwrapped him.

The Ds. were admired and played with by the library staff, Barb making Michelle dance with joy, and their carrying bag even came in for some attention. So all was good in this orbit today.

Barb generously agreed to be photographed, though I'd come at her with no warning, this is a very nice lady, and also takes a good pic, as you see. I particularly like the way the rabbit ears on her shirt got attached to Dreads...who is quite unaware that she now looks more funny than dignified.

Barb's been such a friend for a long time to me as I've come and gone at the libe, a good listener and a good asker, too, all in the course of checking books in and out without a pause.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dollivers Play Secret Santa

The Dollivers did a bit of Christmas baking, gingerbread, to be exact and posed before the delivery was made to our friends at the libe. We snook it into their staff breakroom while nobody was there, and hope it goes over well. We did keep back a piece or two to make sure it was okay for giving..this was one trip the Animals couldn't be trusted with, since the chance of more than a few crumbs reaching their destination was fat to none. But our tasters assure us that this was up to snuff. Definitely Santaworthy.

Nothing like a bit of baking and delivery to cheer a person up who, truth be told, is struggling a bit with the season at the moment.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Ds. and their Christmas Amaryllis

Not to be outdone by all the cast of thousands, the two Gardening Ds took over the Planting of the Annual Amaryllis.

A quick trip to the market, pausing only to take part in a canned food drive for the local food bank

with girl scouts singing carols for cans, and we added to their collection of foods after a nice rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Jingle Bells, and home came the required amaryllis. It came in a kit

A white one, the Dollivers wanted red,

but Boud wanted white and for once she won, and they plan to pose beside it and maybe climb it, as it goes.

Now the Ds are bragging about their gardening expertise, and Boud is about to make a nice cup of tea and read an Agatha Christie.

The Holidays Are On, I Have Spoke

So I did my extensive Christmas decorating yesterday, which consists of getting the ceramic creche out, dusting it, and setting it up in the Ds and Tinies and Animals' territory. That's it for decorating. There may be one or two cards sent, very few this year, bear with me, not quite up to much. But this is My Bit, and I'm doing it.

Not easy to distribute the Halleluia cards equitably, without getting them bitten or scrunched, so I did it quick and got the pictures before they became confetti.

There may be a couple of expeditionary forces delivering goodies here and there, we'll see...the thing is that I have to get this done before I get too old, next week containing my birthday, how did I get here so fast?

The Animals had a brisk discussion with the Ds about who gets to go on trips this year, and after a few growls and demonstrations of teeth from the As, the Ds decided a dignified retreat to the clubhouse to make hot rum punch was in order. As they pointed out, it's the only kind of punch they can do.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Drama and comedy out of doors

In this afternoon's walk, a beautiful redtail hawk, sitting in the tree nearby, watching for her next meal -- look at those claws and her furry legs -- my alltime favorite bird. About a second after I took this picture, she took off with a huge swoop of wings and bore down on some poor little guy in the grass in the distance. These are fearless birds.

In the winter they will, when really hungry, because their small prey is underground, raid bird feeders to pick off small songbirds. One time I was filling a bird feeder in January, and a redtail swooped down, and literally parted my hair on her way to the feeder. She would never have hurt me, they're much too acrobatic for that, but it definitely got my attention. The only other bird who ever did that was a pet parrot, testing my nerves the first time I took care of him. Like a little kid, trying it on for size.

Then, just up the street a bit, squirrels, the comic relief of the outdoor world, sat playing bookends.

And Watching Movies

Since I yanked the tv service back in September, gladly, I use the tv set mainly as a DVD and CD player, and have not missed the awful tv programming, particularly the gloomy miserable PBS news and pontificating pundits.

What I do have is a great series of choices of DVD from the library, and have just finished watching a series based on stories of Henry James, Affairs of the Heart. Great production, brand name actors throughout, and I was riveted through all the episodes, wondering at the same time why on earth James ever got published. His take on women and their motivations is simply that of a dolt. I guess he was a well connected dolt, since he did get into the big literary time. I'm guessing that Americans figured he was a success in England, and the English thought he must be a success in the US, and he did just fine that way. In some circles he's considered Holy Writ, and you scorn him at your peril. Well, consider me imperiled.

Reminds me of a story about Lawrence Durrell told by a relative who knew him only as a press attache who wrote, and thought, while he was the worst press attache in history, he was probably a good writer. And the critic who knew him as a writer,whose day job was press attache, thought he was one of the worst writers in print, but was probably a good press attache..

And I've embarked on The Pallisers, an endless series based on Trollope's novels, equally riveting but the difference in perception is great. Not fair to James to watch Trollope right after him, I guess, but Trollope is so sly and funny and knows when he's being sly and funny, gives the best lines to the unlikely people, and is altogether worth it. I keep thinking I should read him again, since I remember liking Barchester Towers so much many years ago. If you want a read that will go on and on, he's your man. Maybe I'll make this a Trollope Winter!

Blogista takes on all these dogmatic opinions and reading choices, always welcome!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reading goes on, too!

A couple of writers I've just found and liked a lot.

One is William Deresiewicz, whose A Jane Austen Education is a nonfiction analysis of her novels and how they influenced his own life and maturing. Very appealingly written, very honest about his own shortcomings and how it took him a while to get the point of Austen, in the course of writing his doctoral diss. This is worthwhile reading, I'd say.

I just chanced on it, and usually I throw down any of those pretender books that take on her characters and pretend to write more about them, as some sort of freeze dried fiction or something, but he is different. He's a critic who loves books and knows how to convey it.

The pretender books remind me of people who take other people's photographs and make paintings from them, not realizing that the original person has done the actual art, the design, the decision making, the framing up of viewpoint, given it the reason the imitator wants to copy it in the first place, and all the imitator does is a kind of dull paint by numbers rendition. An artist who tries that quickly gets bored to bits, realizing it was dead on arrival. But an imitator, the oh I just LERV to paint sort of approach, keeps on touching up the corpse, innocently.

And, if you're up for mysteries set in England, which not only have a mystery puzzle going, but deal with issues of morality and responsibility in a readable and, oh, joy, literate, way, read anything, anything by Jill Paton Walsh.

I first came across her in Thrones, Dominations, where she took and completed, if I understand the process correctly, an unfinished novel of Dorothy Sayers. She's a Sayers-like writer herself, and her own novels that don't owe anything to Sayers, are as good as anything Sayers did write.

Her heroes are not the impossibly perfect and wellborn and privileged and urbane Wimsey types, but are flawed and recognizable as actual humans. Very good stuff. My only complaint is that I've quickly read everything I can find of her and I'm impatient for her to get on with it and write more!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mixed media, many decisions

This is a kind of running commentary on a fiberart piece I'm working on, or maybe it's working on me. It's one of the three silk panels that I dyed and showed you some time ago, using coffee.

After seeing them on the wall for a while, I've started to realize the next steps in getting this to be an actual artwork. It's going to be a mix of embroidery, using the natural forms the coffee dye created, and metallic brush pen work, together and separately. If you're interested in more musings from the artist, go here.

But for now, for general purposes, this is panel one, or maybe three, who knows,they're not joined yet. Some embroidery, some brush strokes, but in this color group. The other panels will be different color groups, but will probably work together because of the background. I zoomed in

on two major sections, about two thirds altogether of the panel.

I'm a bit limited in how long I can embroider, since my hands, though much better than a few months ago, are still a bit nervous about pushing a needle through a resistant fabric, but there's time.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dwarves are late to dinner again...

I ask you, working my tiny fingers to a nub taking care of this place, hanging the little curtains with the help of bluebirds, singing in that voice like a slate pencil on glass. Oh, maybe that's why they're late home..

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sweet Sixteen, Indian Style!

This evening I was invited to a colorful, noisy, joyful Sweet Sixteen celebration of the daughter of a friend, very honored to be included in this otherwise all Indian gathering of friends and family and dance groups -- daughter is not only an A student in high school, but an exhibition dancer -- and to be made very welcome. The family were very good about including me, and I knew another family, also friends of mine, who were there, and made big efforts to make sure I was entertained and fed and generally happy.

Which I must say I was. I wasn't feeling up to a party before, on account partly of Fluffy, partly the cold which will not go away no matter what remedies I apply, oh well, but I was so glad I went.

The food was excellent -- in an Indian restaurant, dishes specially chosen by the mom, all vegetarian because of their religion, and just excellent. No idea what I ate, but it was very very good. The company was fascinating to watch -- the older generation, meaning middle aged parents, in traditional fabulous saris, the younger generation, mainly girlfriends of the hostess, in tiny short tight dresses like fancy bandaids. Since most of them are dancers, they were slim and looked like models in these outfits. Including amazing high heeled sandals, no idea how they managed them.

The same girls reappeared more than once in different dance gear and barefoot, to do some amazing fast moves, they were really good, great to watch

dancer exiting after an amazing solo

And a young boy did a feature dance

and in the middle of the last group girls' dance, a little girl about five was brought in with them and busted some moves that stunned the place and caused a wild cheer! it was over too fast for a picture, but it was so cool. And the older dancers, only teens themselves, were so generous to the kids, giving them center stage and applause.

The scene's set. Note the throne for the birthday girl!

And the guests are arriving

The girl whose birthday it is really had to work this event! she danced with various groups, and ended the performance part of the evening with a solo

That was after the candle lighting ceremony, where she made a number of speeches.

First candle dedicated to God, then the first blue candle to her parents

There was also a ceremonial eating of cake after the whole company gathered to sing Happy Birthday

eating of the first slice by her and each parent in turn

cake brings out a crowd

and a ceremonial dance with her father, first a brisk Indian dance,

then a more sedate Western style waltz.

I had no idea how elaborate this event was to be, though I had heard a number of accounts of arrangements being made, and balloons being hunted down and centerpieces arranged and on and on...but it came off really well.

I lasted for several hours, but had cautioned my hostess that I might not last the whole evening, so she would know that I'd only slipped away because I was tired. Really not used to crowds and LOUD music, but it was fun anyway. Now I know what dancing goes with the music I hear from next door!