Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring is Sprung, the eggs are blown...

Ready for the annual Decorating of the Eggs! several candidates drying out after being blown and washed through yesterday. Today I'll decorate, ready to give to various people I'll be seeing early next week. Blown eggs become permanent decorations, so they're nice to give out as little Spring gifts, or Easter ones to people who observe Easter.

Late-breaking addition: if you're interested in the latest drawing and bit of embroidery, go here and thank you very much for doing so!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CSA More Alphabet Soup, literally

So I've invested in a half-share at our newly opened CSA, Community Supported Ag., place, which is the very farm where I've been going for years and years for produce newly pulled out of the ground -- heck, the corn is picked every hour and delivered to the farmstand that way.

They finally joined the CSA movement, which for blogistas unfamiliar with this, is a scheme where you pay upfront a fee for the entire growing season, here nearly 25 weeks, and each week on a given day, show up and receive a bag of this week's fresh produce, whatever is ripe now. And this CSA also does handmade soap, courtesy of the daughter of the place, and cut flowers. corn is a staple of their produce, so once corn is in, it will probably show up every week, yay, in addition to all kinds of veggies and soft fruits.

This is too cool, because I do eat largely produce, so this way I will have someone else pick and pack, and get a surprise every week when I pick up my share. If it's too large, Handsome Son gallantly offered to take up the slack, and I have vegetarian friends in the neighborhood who wouldn't mind, either. But I'm hoping for unfamiliar vegetables which I can figure out how to cook and eat. They grow Indian vegs. now and I have built in friends to consult on them.

Pickup starts in late May, and I already have my official Pickup Number and Day. All that remains is for the Dollivers to settle who will come on the farm run each week. I pointed out that with 25 weeks, everyone will get at least one turn. I might have to run a lottery.

I drew the line at Elton, who's been around the Ds too much, if you ask me, and I flatly refused to load his piano into the car to do the run. Also all the dogs started barking up a storm of requests and I had to tell them No Dogs on the Farm, unless they live there. So they subsided with many a mutter and a growl, and they have not given up on ways to stow away and make the trip.

But I'm chuffed at the new CSA, which if it's organized the way that farm is run, will go like oiled clockwork. I like supporting this family, three generations currently working the farm, and I mean working. And they have a huge wide range of produce and fruits, many varieties, so I doubt if I will be bored with my share.

Support Your Local Farmer! I do.

Monday, March 26, 2012

She's baaaaack, one wall at a time

I have finally recovered my housepainting strength, yay, and a couple of days ago repainted the front door an exciting dark green (required color by HOA, sigh), and today repainted a big living room wall that had had a nonmatching closet door (old one tossed, replacement brought down from upstairs, happened to match the bedroom, oh well) and many bumps and bangs from HP's wheelchair.

So a new lease of life happened all around. The one wall at a time philosophy enables me to get the house done without moving everything and dislocating life and having a big cleanup. It's how I did a condo with a soaring cathedral ceiling, and how I did this three story townhouse.

I had thought the paint, which has been waiting patiently for years to be used, was a kind of peachy pale color and when I opened the can of course you couldn't tell the color, since it had separated, so much stirring later I found, oh, this is interesting, it's a kind of buttery yellow, nice and warm but then I had to paint the door because it still won't match. These things happen to amateur housepainters. I notice that though it looks yellowy peach in life, it looks a lot more peach in the photo, hm, must be the red coming through. Cameras are traitors when it comes to red, even red undertones.

Thrilling to find that I can still climb up the little step thing and still have a nice steady hand for the edges, and that I'm strong enough to wield the roller without getting all tired, yay for strength training. Anyway,I'm unbearably smug about this, and feeling very well.

Last evening I also did a little bit of drawing sitting up in bed, still need to get out and find Pilot pens, but I'm using what's to hand anyway.

Then today I thought I'd take a pic from (very) approximately the same vantage point, just for interest.

As usual, the drawing had to be edited from life, since this is not household inventory, it's drawing! you will notice quite different shadows, since last night the lamp on my left was the light source, and this morning sunshine from a large window on the right is the source.

No wash into this one, since I thought it would be chancing my arm a bit far to be working with a glass of water balanced precariously around the bed, since Burmese kitty Marigold had decided that what I needed was a studio assistant, darting at my book and my pen as I worked.

She thinks we did a fairly okay job, all in all.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great Reading lately

I've just discovered Lucy Worsley, brilliant historian, curator of all kinds of palaces and castles in England, and very funny woman, who traces the history of various political and noble movers and shakers in history through their buildings, including St. James Palace, and all the old familiar places.

She's a great researcher who doesn't throw all her info at you at once,and has a conversational style which is in fact very much the way she speaks. I heard her on public radio and followed up on that. Unusual for a good writer to be a good speaker too, so often you get one or t'other.

She actually tests her theories by living them too, such as when she went for about a week bathing or not bathing, washing, etc., as people did in Tudor times, when they believed that immersing the body in water would dangerously unbalance the humors of the bod and cause great weakness and susceptibility to disease.

And she has tried on the clothing of the period, laid in the beds, and so on. Beds were not meant to be laid quite flat in in Tudor times, and the way a feather bed kind of bowed when you lay on it made you sort of sleep sitting up, which accounts for all those portraits of people on their deathbeds where you wonder why they didn't spring for a longer bed.

"Cavalier" is the first book I've finished and I really recommend it as a Good Read. She hits on all kinds of interesting facts and factettes, which keep you going. Such as the information that newly dug sandstone, from the quarry, is a lot easier to work and carve into right away before the air gets at it and it hardens. It also changes color in the process, from a kind of cheese like appearance to a sort of pinker effect that we see in buildings. And she explains how various architectural ideas get passed around new buildings by the architects and the skilled masons who have their patterns to use.

And there's stuff like did you know a buttery, that room beloved of cosy detective fiction based in colleges, has nothing to do with butter? me neither. It used to be the place where beer was stored, in butts, i.e. big casks. And the early butler was just the humble disher out of the beer to the servants and others who drank it. The snooty attitude and uniform and prestige came much later.

Lucy is packed with info like this, and can describe the costumes of the day, how they were worn, who made them, how expensive they were, who wore what when and why, and altogether this is Good Stuff. I'm now deep into "The Courtiers" and am finally unraveling the facts around the period after the restoration of the monarchy, post Cromwell times, and the political shenanigans involved there, with the rise of the Whigs. And the wigs! she knows all about wigs, and Evelyn's opinion of them, and Pepys's too, for that matter.

So there you are, my latest happy discovery.

If you're interested in seeing a bit of drawing, go here

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

BD parades the Best Dogs in the Blogs

This morning, Bette Davis, Acting CEO of Dolliver Kennels, in charge of showing, hired by NameMe as the press of kennel business gets hectic, presents the full complement of the Kennels, with the welcome arrival of Irish Setter Ch.Padraic O'Dolliver of Dolliver Kennels

joining Ch.Whippet Tere Swiftson of DK and Ch.Wire Haired Terrier Sir Crispin Denham Twignibble of DK.

Also featured are Oliver, Large Shaggy Mixed Breed, and Olivier, Small Shaggy Mixed Breed.

All the denizens of Dolliver Kennels, and BD, would like to remind us all that if we're planning on getting a new puppy in the springtime, popular time to be thinking of this, that we be sure to research the sort of dog that will work in our households, and that we remember volunteer pet rescue societies, where dogs and cats and other animals are cared for in people's homes until they're ready for a permanent home.

Two of our blogistas, maybe more, but these two I know of, are heroines of that movement! Take a bow, Carol Q. and KH. Also, May's often a big kitten month, but please remember that adult cats are lovely, too, and will repay you all their lives with thanks for taking them home.

Though three of our canine crew are purebred, they pose together to show you that dogs don't care, and that the right dog for you is the right dog, papers or no papers. And that puppy mill dogs are rarely the right dog for anyone, particularly a first time owner, and that unfortunately that's where a lot of pet stores get their animals. Please research the origins before you buy heartbreak.

Marigold and Duncan, our feline wing, both taken off the streets and now living on velvet, applaud these sentiments, in a languid kind of way, not wishing to take part in any vulgar display of enthusiasm. In fact they declined to be in the pix, since the quilt upstairs was so much more appropriate on a damp day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Drawing the Evanescent

Well, one of the drawings I made today was a vanishing act -- I was at the auto dealership waiting for them to service my car, midst shot, shell and renovation, did the drawing in what passes for a temporary waiting room, and right after I'd finished, a couple of renovators took it all away. If you want the rest of the story, go here but don't say I didn't warn you..

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shamrocks! Dollivers! Erin go Bear!

The Ds. have now given Elton the idea that each occasion involves a new outfit for him, too, so, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, he requested a replica of his Irish grandmother's shoulder shawl, and here he is, a proud Irish bear. One being told there aren't bears in Ireland he insisted this is not so, it was the SNAKES St. Patrick drove out, not the bears. There are plenty of genuine bears. And he liked the crocheted shawl.

The Dollivers, rising above this dialog, got dolled up in their satin evening St. Patrick outfits, since they plan on dancing later, and in their photo shoot set, got up to look like the Mountains of Mourne, send their best greetings to all Irishmen, whether permanent or temporary just for the day, and to all well dressed dolls everywhere. The Little Dolls allowed as how they'd had their moment in the sun when the Irish Christmas card came,so they bowed out of the photo shoot on condition that their card make an appearance, which it did.

Elton played the first fifty-two verses of Docherty's Duck, to celebrate the day, followed by Mother Machree and, special request of Boud,the Salley Gardens.

Note the traveling shamrock motif.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Squirrels will outlast us all

The squirrels love the suet feeder, and have not yet succeeded in breaking it open,but they are totally on it with scooping out the good bits and swinging upside down, or overhead swings, if necessary, to get them.

The blue flowers,I think speedwells, not sure about that, are coming out all over. And HP's daffodils are blazing away in the woods! the ones we put in last Fall are later, and the stems are a few inches up,but that's good, since they'll extend the season.

Another piece of altered fabric embroidery, this time traditional Japanese design, which I overembroidered to take the design in different directions, can be seen here if you are into embroidery!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Short shrift for shortbread

Dolliver Bette Davis decided she'd better settle on a specialty, since NameMe is the dog wrangler, Call me Michelle is the fashionista, Dreads has seized the music scene, and Blondie is the prima donna of the group.

Bette D. points out that when the group requested candy outfits for Valentine's Day, she actually said candy MAKING outfit, and that's why she got the special cook's hair-covering kerchief. Now she tells me.

So BD is now the chef of the household, with special attention to baked goods. She took this on this morning when, in a fit of energy, I decided, after thinking about it for maybe fifteen years, to bake shortbread. The thing is that once in a while I like to have a guest to tea, little cake things, choice of tea, etc., and it's nice to make the stuff myself. That way I enjoy the party twice.

BD pointed out bitterly that I would do better if I focused and didn't get all listening to The Car Guys, that way I would have noticed before I tipped the sugar in with the flour, then went for the butter softening in the microwave, that the sugar and butter were to be creamed before meeting up with the flour. Oh. So I soldiered on, as my mom would have said, all good ingredients, and added in a bunch of crushed walnuts, since I do like texture in baked goods. And will put a dab of lemon glaze on top after the shortbread has cooled. Now, it may well be quite, um, sturdy, but I suspect still quite edible.

BD has some doubts, as you see.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Drumroll please...Dolliver Kennels presents...

Here Tere Swiftson presents the new arrival at Dolliver Kennels: Ch. yet to be named, Wire Haired Terrier

Two views, in case he ever gets into police custody, knowing the temperament of these guys. Note that his collar matches the cape of Elton, special request from Elton, who found that TS wasn't such a bad guy after all, and why not try to make friends with these new life forms.

Blogistas, can you Name that Dog, please?

And the local booksale at the library yielded the usual trove of blank books and what can I say, next thing I knew they were coming home with me.

The little kitty notebook is now in my purse, the address book awaits my sticking all my file cards with vital info into it, the woman's book has wonderful drawings of flowers and leaves, and killer quotations, and the jeans book is a really a teen thing, but has all kinds of nice ideas in it. It's only once a year..

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Scheduled Spring surgery, plant kingdom, that is

Today being warm, sunny, windy, far too good to be foofling around indoors, was the scheduled surgery date for the boston fern, found in a dumpster several years ago and now totally outgrowing her second pot, and the dracaena, found in the dumpster by my neighbor a few months ago, and brought to me as the official Local Plant Rescuer.

The fern needed radical (literally!) surgery, and here she is on the operating table on the patio. This picture may be too graphic for sensitive viewers.

Then the post-separation picture showing the potential of two lovely plants from one

And here the recovery room, in new pots, after half a gallon each of intravenous fluid known in the trade as aitchtoowoh (TM).

Next patient on the surgeon's list was the misshapen dracaena, here presenting all the symptoms of a plant whose original owner didn't attend to its pruning needs, but let it grow any old how, bent and unhappy, then when the family moved, despite the d's devotion to them, tossed her aside. Gardeners Without Borders see these heartbreaking sights all the time.

The actual surgery was simply too graphic for a family oriented blog, but here is the recovery room for what may now be a new life for three plants

One best hope, the top of the original

Two fond hopes, outlook uncertain, but they will be under close observation and rest

And here are the ferns and the main hope of the dracaena caper, reunited with their peeps in the living room, Elton playing peaceful music in the background while they come round from the experience.

He fancied trying therapeutic music, and I persuaded him that Claire de Lune was a better choice than Waltzing Matilda.

Meanwhile, the daffodils continued blazing away, despite the terrible sights they saw this morning on the patio, smug in the knowledge that they know exactly how to grow and need no tips nor surgery.

We won't mention to them that sometimes you do have to dig and separate daffodils, no, not just now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Return of the Minis!

I needed to populate those empty bookcases, so today I unwrapped and set up a collection of Limoges porcelain miniature pieces, some netsuke (belonged to HP via me!) various little animals

and a tableau of miniature furniture pieces I built, some from scratch, others adapted, plus a bunch of miniature rugs and pillows and pictures, most of which I designed and stitched.

On the dresser at the far right is a group of miniature mudmen, antique handmade clay figures depicting various activities, a great flea market find! they're less than half an inch tall. The book you see at the back is hand stitched, a 16 page signature, all done like a fullsize book, suede cover, leather corner covers and spine. Near the book is a pair of glasses, made from wire, with lenses! I can't tell you how excited people get when I show them how to do this.

I also unearthed various items of foods and other things, which I put back away so that I can teach the skills to kids (or adults, I've done both) at some time. The miniature furniture and rugs are all one twelfth scale, the standard dollhouse scale, that is. Some blogistas own a rug from me, so you know the scale.

The interesting thing about making miniature needlework is that you quickly find you have to miniaturize the colors, too, so that they look natural at this scale. No use stitching a cobalt and white Pa. Dutch rug in cobalt and white, since it looks stiff and artificial. But a dusty midrange blue and a shade of cream do the job just fine.

The pillows you see here are about one inch square, backed with cotton. The rocker and tall red stool I carved from toothpicks and balsa wood.

It was fun to revisit all these items, and no doubt to play with them rearranging them over the next few days. In case you were wondering, there is a substance you can use to anchor tiny pieces safely on the furniture, so that a vase doesn't fall over in a draft, or the little glasses suddenly get lost if a window is opened. You put a little dot of it, anchor the piece and it doesn't stain the furniture or the piece. But before I do that I have to finish playing!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Planets in Alignment Much?

The two pictures do relate, though it's probably a bit hard to see how without footnotes.

Several things happened today a couple by chance, one by arrangement. I had offered HPs large book collection,his personal books, not the research related ones which went to various students and scholars, but his own collection of history, archaeology, astronomy, Egyptology, science fiction, wide range, to the local public library. The idea is that they can add any they want to their permanent collection, and put the rest in the booksale. Dear Carol Q understood this was a big deal for me, to do this, and agreed to come asap, and just do it in one trip, bringing a helper to make sure nobody's back lived to regret it.

So she offered me today, which I was fine with. That was the arranged part.

The nonarranged parts are that I realized that today's my mom's birthday, she long gone, but very bright in my memory. Then, after the books had gone, I had a sudden need for sleep and cake! figuring cake had a priority, I pulled out a recipe book with a great coffee cake recipe in it. Then I realized it was HPs favorite book, the one he taught himself to cook from.

And when I set out my eagerly awaited helping, it ended up next to some pix of HP I'm in the process of sending to Bre, the ever reliable student, much loved by HP, who came by a couple of hours a week to let me get out on my own for a little while.

I've given pictures of HP to various special people who were with us all along, and who really like to have images of HP before his long illness, the person he was before then, cooking and reading the paper and sitting with his animals, and giving his dog a treat, the sort of thing that tells you a lot about a person that the usual grinning into the camera doesn't convey so well.

It just seemed today that everything was full of echoes and reminders, not all sad, though, just such a lot of significant stuff that blended into one day.

I have plans for the space in the bookcases, thought that would be wise, to get past the emptiness.

So that was today. Yesterday was all about forward movement, plans for art, plans for music playing, plans for joining the embroiderers' company.

Then today was about dealing with the present and letting it happen. Chop wood, carry water.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Embroidery Heaven and Clatterford

In reverse order, Clatterford, three seasons, has been my ROTFL DVD watching the last few days. Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, need I say more. It's about a women's guild (pretty clearly the WI, but not specified) in a small village in Devon, and the personality collisions and effin growth experiences therein. And it is very very good, if you can live with missing a lot of the English throwaway lines, unless you live there now and are still au fait (or as one of the characters says, oy vey!) with the current language. The bits I could get were still wonderful.

Such as the village Guild show, with various categories of flower arrangements, cakes, and novelty challenges such as my favorite: Global Warming in a Biscuit Tin. Or the self proclaimed Chair, always looking out for likely speakers, so any casual remark could be taken up with, oh that would make a lovely talk, why not work it up, dear? and the lady dragooned into talking on Sex Traffic, reluctantly agrees and sets up her slideshow, announcing, Yes, Sex Traffic. Well, first let's talk about the traffic. here's a wonderful view of the new bridge across the Tey (or some such river) and the resulting traffic flow. She also has a riveting series on behind the scenes at the supermarket, with the exciting loading dock in action.

And, with these hilarious characters, easily recognizable in any women's group you've ever been in, still firmly in mind, I went to my first meeting of the local Embroiderers' Guild. A great choice for a first meeting for me, since it was a field trip to a private house of a collector of antique stitchery, many samplers, stitching on silk paintings, all kinds of treasures, in a house crammed with American antique furniture and porcelain and oh well, it was like being in heaven for an afternoon. No pix, no, because it was a private tour, of a private house, and I thought his security and general sense of safety with the group precluded anything like that. And I noticed none of the group whipped out her phone to take pix,either, all very civilized of us! But these wonderful works, many created here where we live, with recognizable place names and family names in them, were amazing, particularly since the collector did his research and could tell us many back stories.

That said, watching the group, a wonderful and very disparate bunch, arguing and chatting and observing each other and generally being a very benevolent form of Clatterford Guild, was a quiet joy in itself. I'm definitely going to join this group, just have to get my Guild fix! A new group of kindred spirits.

Meanwhile,the pictures are of a nice winter-into-spring walk,with the sky brightening as spring gets nearer, the moon showing in the daytime, the wild flowers starting to come up despite the black walnuts around, and my favorite little stone bunny, now a bit battered, but still upright.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

TAST Week Nine Couching

I skipped last week's challenge, running chain, since I'd already shown that a while back in the course of other stitches, so I thought I'd just work on whatever came next. Which turned out to be couching. It's really interesting to check my Tuesday email and see what my secret agent instructions are from Sharon! She's the blogger at Pintangle, very prolific stitcher and interesting blog, too.

Anyway, if you'd like to see what trouble I got into this week, go here