Wednesday, November 30, 2011

another dreary morning. a day to build a few quilt tops. and then migrate upstairs to my beloved, underused paper room. it sits in the trees, above the lake that is whipping wildly. the bare horseshoe pits. and edgar's personal peripherique. he has worn a path around the edge of the side yard that sits beside the studio and our house. he rarely ventures into the middle of the yard, but prefers his little path. i always think of paris and her encircling highway.
the last couple of months, the allure for paint has been building. and my need to start piecing yellowed images together to form new edge-y little collage pictures is strong too. and i'm prepping photos. they are all conspiring and demanding attention.
but now a shift has happened since i started writing this. i'll build the quilts this afternoon. off i go on a little spur of the moment road trip this morning to clear my head. to my parents to hunt for wood. and then home to concentrate on all the goodness coming forth!

Monday, November 28, 2011

the twisting splashy sounds of the laundry washing upstairs. edgar is stretching his head into my hand and i run my finger along the standing up cowlick between his eyes and along the bridge of his nose. the morning school bus just rattled past and i mutter to myself...'oh, it's 10 to 9 already'. i tell time by the school bus, morning and afternoon. tom brought me coffee. my hair is still wet and heavy. i'm on the sofa in the library poring over the photos on my laptop. i have decided to print photographs to sell in the studio. it's a long and tedious task. but i love it. i love making lists of maybes and then making folders and then sending them to be printed and then picking them up and holding them in my hands. i'm a sucker for the process. i can't enjoy the end result of anything if i don't enjoy the process.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

it seems almost like i've lost a couple of weeks. lost in the tenor of each day. all of it too swift. work slicing away my daily choices. with nothing in the reserves. i had to cut out the necessities. like cleaning and cooking and at times, bathing and sleeping. but today i've been able to stay away from the studio. granted, i worked at the bookstore all morning and part of the afternoon. but i'm home, and starting to feel that i can decide the direction of the rest of my day without thinking i should instead be at the studio. i'll finish my tea and start in the kitchen. and if the storm that appears to be brewing does arrive, the house will be cozy and almost clean. but cozy is what matters most. edgar has been walked among the ducks and the high, white-capped waves. we have dvds to relax with tonight.....all is well in our little cave.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

it was a dreamy sort of underlit day. gray and soft with warmth lifting up out of the earth. we had picked my parents up at their house and drove through charming towns for a little more than an hour. we drove along winding roads, beside little lakes, through farms and stands of white birch. we saw an owl. we saw an eagle. we saw 2 deer lunching in a field. and we ate a peaceful, relaxing lunch as our thanksgiving meal. it was exactly the break my mind needed. we took my parents home and headed home to watch football. but i took tom home to feed and walk edgar while i had to run errands....the fabric store. thread. muslin. unbleached canvas. i started to get all into the studio headspace again although i'd promised tom a real thanksgiving football watching evening.
and then i arrived home to the most lovely surprise of a package on the dining room table. i gave a little yelp and squealed "is it from norway?" of course it was. a package from my lovely demie. demie of the fabulous blog paraphernalia. check out her new shop. i love it. i had ordered a little packet of the loveliest ethereal cards (top image) and she included this wonderful limited edition print (below) that sits perfectly in my red kitchen against the raw stone wall. my day is complete. my smile is true. i have the energy to take it all on. and demie, you are like a dove sending a limitless fluttering of kindness. and i kept my promise to tom and we've had a lovely evening without studio interuptions!...happy thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

my house is inside out. it's messy and dirty and dusty and unkempt. tomorrow is thanksgiving and my parents are supposed to be coming to dinner. but i only have motivation for the studio. my mind is tired along with my body, but when i find myself surrounded with my work, i feel the drive take over. when my hands are moving in the fabric, there is an energy swell. and when i stop, i droop. this will be my reality for the next weeks as the holiday season moves into full swing. so i give myself over to the mess in my house. i have to allow it until i have the energy and time to devote to cleaning. i hope that happens next week. but we'll go out for our thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. it disappoints me yes, to lose the cozy evening by the fire with football and family. but the studio is careening along and i'm riding along with it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the rain is freezing when it hits the ground. wet and icy. yesterday tom replaced our screens with the storm windows. and the extra layer of glass leaves me feeling a bit trapped. the storm windows act a little like a cage, stealing my breath. but when icy rain is slapping on the panes, there is also a sense of safety and cozy protection. while i was dashing in from the car after work, ellsworth was waiting in the yard crying at the horrible conditions. he slipped on the icy porch scurrying to the house. and i smile opening the door into the kitchen, warm and bright and messy. home. into our safe little double-paned world.

Monday, November 21, 2011

enter november. today i can feel the november-ness in the air. chill and stark. cats finding their indoor spots to curl up near a heat vent or fireplace or pile of quilts.(i woke in the night with my arm wrapped around stella's warm little gray body, under the duvet. she had arranged herself into the maximum comfort and warmth position in the house) the lake looks like steel. trees are lines on the sky. my skin feels dry and stiff from the dry furnace air. i wrap my throat in a scarf now. and socks are surfacing again. and the christmas cactus is in full dramatic bloom. the shift has happened. we are on our way to winter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

i just discovered that my holiday napkins were featured in one of the hgtv blogs. this particular pair that they featured is sold, but there are certainly more in the studio. and i'm working away, making many more sets. check out the blog to see other delightful items from etsy and elsewhere to make your holiday season festively vintage. my online sales are through etsy. but i also sell from my studio and various local retail shops.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

my sweet edgar has been ill. i came home from my evening with naomi last night to find edgar unwell. diarrhea that he couldn't control and couldn't get himself up and outside before there was a mess. this happened every half hour or so until 5 a.m.
although the mess was horrible, the worst part of the sleepless, stressful night was the worry about bloat. great danes often die from stomach torsion, a condition where gas and bloat cause the stomach to twist, cut off blood supply and create a gangrenous mess in their gut. all night i was checking his stomach, his color, his discomfort level. diarrhea isn't usually associated with bloat, but i'd never seen anything like this. and i didn't want him to sense my worry and stress. he didn't sleep. i didn't sleep. i called the emergency vet at 1.30 but since the hardness in his belly would come and go, i felt better waiting until my wonderful vets opened at 8 a.m. and although we showed up at 8 a.m. without an appointment, they were wonderful, bringing us right in, getting a bag of iv fluid into him, giving him an anti-gas treatment, and we were assured that he had a virus of some sort. so we are home. he is finally sleeping. heavily asleep. and i'm lying on the couch while we wash loads of laundry full of his soiled quilts and bedcovers. it sure is a sleepy house today. and relieved. happily sleepy and relieved.

Friday, November 18, 2011

tonight we are lounging about with sweet naomi. sneaking halloween candy from her stash. playing wii. telling stories. watching the borrowers on netflix. it's a cozy little evening. i told her she's in charge. i'm just the adult that is around for convenience sake. we're having a great time of it.
outdoors the wind is wild. i'm sure the lavender tree will be naked in the morning. the cats of the neighborhood (of which there are so very many) have all scuttled into their homes. winter is indeed in the air and i wouldn't be surprised if there was a scattering of snow in the morning. we must get our storm windows on in the next few days. and get some wood in from my parents farm. and then, well, after that winter might as well get on with it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

today was my grandmother's birthday. i thought of her all day. today she would be 106 years old. i can't believe it's been 14 years since she died. her presence is still so wonderfully strong. i feel her pull me along every day as i sew. i have wonderful heirlooms from her. a quilt that she made me when i was 14 sits in the studio with me. and this lap throw she made for my grandfather is on the settee in our bedroom. crocheted granny squares (i love that part) that she made just large enough to cover my grandpa's legs when he was sitting in his recliner. i love this. the colors. the touch of her hand. i can see them sitting in their chairs together. i can feel their presence. there was always a gentleness in the air around them. gentleness with a pulse of energy and electricity. happy birthday grammy.
my kitchen smells of the ymca pool. humid and echo-y. the 1970s. a child standing under a weak shower surrounded by naked women of all ages and sizes. heavy wet hair hanging down my back. and the huge windowless room full of pool and tile and tepid water, soaked in the scent of chlorine. my kitchen carries it all back to me in a rush this morning. i washed the floor with bleach and the scent is just strong enough to take me back to my 10 year old self, swimming at the ymca.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

sleep has been uneven this week. and my mind is swamped with piles of ideas for things i need to make before december 1st. at least tom forced me out of the studio yesterday to go with him to buy groceries. fresh fruit in the house always makes the day more energetic.
my favorite tree (the lavender tree) is still in full leaf. i call it the lavender tree because before chasing lightning bugs took every spare second and i still allotted time to gardening, my front
garden was a swirl of lavender around this lovely tree. the lavender is still under there somewhere, but not really recognizable anymore. anyhow, the lavender tree clutches it's leaves longer than any other tree in the neighborhood. until inevitably, i wake up one morning in november and she's naked. naked branches tapping at the bedroom window without the rustle of leaves. it always happens overnight. this morning i looked out thinking it might be the day. but no, she's still wrapped in leaves. i'll let you know when it happens. this photo is from yesterday morning. and she will shed everyone of these leaves at once. she's quite dramatic, the lavender tree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

yesterday morning we walked along with the sun and the lake. a beautiful bright and warm morning. but midway through the day, i had no choice but to succombe to whatever this sickness was leaving me aching and exhausted and light-headed. so i left the studio, fabric still sitting in the sewing machine and came home to my bed. tom had been doing laundry and vacuuming with the windows open wide. so i curled into bed with quilts and the bedroom curtain moving gently from the november breeze. i sipped perrier. i slept. the tv was a groggy background. i craved a roast that my mother always makes. there was one in the freezer, so tom put it in the oven for me before he left for work. i dragged myself downstairs for a couple of slices of roast, that i took back up to bed to eat while half watching 'hoarders'.
and now, after 18 hours of sleep and laziness, i hope today i'll get back to work and find my energy again. geese just flew over the house. crabby is drinking from edgar's water. edgar is watching her, unbothered. i will have a hot steamy bath full of healing essential oils and try to make up for yesterday's lost hours. and hopefully find something more interesting than my sickness to write about later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

the wind is wild. my favorite tree that sits outside our library window, and our bedroom window above, is being shaken and torn by it's force. i am lying in the dark, covered with a knitted wool blanket, listening to the lonely sounds of a wheezing night. the windows shudder, the sound of glass and wood doing a dark shimmy. i haven't been alone in days. so in the middle of this groaning night, i am groggy and snuffly and happy to listen to the gusts of silence around me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

welcome to the studio

photos you asked you shall have. the studio is all primped and prettied and ready for visitors.
napkins prettily seated on easels,

along with the festive christmas variety, ready for a holiday table.

a wall of moleskines,

and tea towels on the stairs.

cozy mittens,

and quilted sleeping bags for lucky babydolls.

double-sided cotton pillowslips, bright and fresh and beautiful.

a little tour to share the studio with you all. we are opening again tomorrow, on sunday the 13th from noon until 5.

Friday, November 11, 2011

today is edgar's birthday. he's 7. and this is him being annoyed as i woke him up to give him birthday hugs. and adding insult to injury, taking a flash photo of the moment. poor boy. but i think we made up for it. first with a lovely walk at 11 o'clock with wonderful tracy. tracy set her alarm as a reminder. brilliant. i'd wanted to walk edgar at 11. but would never have known when it actually reached 11. thankfully tracy and i were together at the studio preparing for our open studio (more on that later).
we took edgar and walked along the lake and up around the stone buildings. and we marveled at the ducks. and enjoyed the crisp november air.
edgar's birthday this year is 11.11.11 and my birthday last year was 10.10.10. i love stuff like that. tom tried to buy him a special birthday cake bone.....but we had to make do with a happy holidays one instead. he loves it.
so, now we are having pizza, curled on the sofa with the birthday boy, watching '(500)days of summer', trying to rest up for the weekend. we are opening the studio for the weekend. tomorrow, saturday the 12th we are open from 10 until 4. come by if you're in the area. 55 mowat avenue, in lovely portsmouth village. and then sunday from noon until 5. i just found out i'm scheduled at the book store until 2.3o on sunday, so i'm hoping trisha is free to cover the first half....otherwise....well, i'll let you know.
it's been a good day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

what a rare november week this has been. soft warm sunlit days. laundry on the line. un-coated walks. edgar was bathed on the porch yesterday. and little miss crabapple returned home after her sojourn at the vet's. it's been a busy and often chaotic few days. and the moon will be full tonight, although it has appeared full all week.
crabapple just wandered into the library where i'm sitting with the laptop. she seems content and so much healthier, settled under her favorite chair, staring at edgar. steroids to soothe her inflamed bowel and anti-biotics to chase away the cocktail of bacteria. our uncle d'arcy and his wonderful care brought back our quirky odd and cranky kitty to us.
if you are a local reader, our little studio is planning to have an open studio this weekend. the local spinners and weavers are having an event in the neighborhood, so we thought we'd put our sign out as well.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

our walk was so lovely that i must update my groggy post from this morning to reflect the wonderful day this is. soft warm air in november. a bright new rose blooming in the bird feeder garden by the lake. foggy and dreamy. with fat squirrels in the branches and the grass. fluffier and slower than the fast bright summer squirrels. 2 groups of geese flew over, low enough that they were flying between the trees instead of above them. but still in their vee formation, loudly honking. they must have come to the lake for a while and were heading back to the lawns where they eat. (a third is flying over the house this very second). there was also a mottled white and gray dove among the pigeons. a lady with a bag of bread feeding the ducks off the bridge. neighbors calling hello to us across the harbor. a beautiful beginning......
the sun will be up soon. edgar is restless this morning, ready to wander around the lake. but i'm waiting for the sun. i was happy to get the morning sun earlier this week. it found my face as i was getting ready by the mirror yesterday. a perfect little dissection, bouncing through the triangle of windows until it landed softly on my eye. it felt special enough to take photos.
the studio was busy yesterday. my parents came to clear up the gardens while i kept the sewing room humming. my father snuck up to the roof (he's almost 74 and i hate him on the roof, but thankfully he still has his surgeon's steadiness) to clean the eavestroughs and secure a loose shingle. i can't complain about the wonderful clean up they did, but i also can't really look at the yard. the abrupt change is too much for me. it's naked and bare and stripped and empty. i love the wildness that happens in my gardens, and i miss the tangle of growth that weaves all along the little white house. and now it's shorn and tidy for the winter.
crabby is still with uncle d'arcy. yesterday morning he thought we should take another day to see if we could find a way for her issues to improve. so this morning we will wrestle with the decision.
and the day is an early morning gray now, so edgar and i will soon head out.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

i started making quilts in 2oo4. i had always collected fabric, and i'd noticed the cotton quilting batting at the fabric store. i was drawn to it. so i bought a little packet. my aunt lent me her sewing machine, i sewed squares together for a top and sandwiched it all with a piece of fabric on the back. i had to play around with the edging, sorting out what worked and what didn't. but i had figured it out. i made a few baby quilts, but the large bed-sized ones started in october. gala, our great dane, had died in july. and after a search we'd found a puppy (edgar) and i needed to pay for him. i started making quilts all day. i had little sales from my living room. my friend and i drove around to little gift shops and b&b's selling them. and that was the start. i only have a few of the early quilts. but, i'm exceedingly hard on them.....they stay out on the porch swing all summer. in fact, there are two out there still, in november. they get washed almost daily because of edgar slobber or kitty puke. so the early ones have faded. some of my favorite fabrics were in them, fabrics from the beginnings of my fabric collection that i bought purely because i loved them, not ever thinking i'd make anything with them.....i didn't think i knew how.
last summer i was doing a little tour of suburban garage sales, scoping from the car and moving on if all i saw was baby clothes and plastic toys. i stopped at one that turned out to be disappointing, until....i started to hyper-ventilate. literally. i thought my heart was going to explode. i couldn't talk. i don't think i've felt this way since i was 14 and the cute boy i liked was walking towards me in the hall. there was one of my very first quilts. never been washed. with the original little paper tag i'd hung on them. with my original price of $175. this was one of the quilts we'd sold to a little gift/antique shop. i usually take $60 as a garage sale was all untouched in my pocket. there wasn't a garage sale price on the quilt, just my original price, in my hand-writing. but i lost my head. i found the proprietess, offered her $60, told her it was all i had. and she accepted. and i ran to the car, shaking.
this is a photo of our bed this morning.....the old/new quilt smiling in the sun, with all my favorite old fabrics looking fresh and bright and new. i love this quilt, even though it wasn't one of my favorites then, it still gives me butterflies now when i see it. and i smile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

i don't think there is a better vet in the world than ours. uncle d'arcy. he's supposed to be retired....his daughter and son-in-law took over the practice years ago. but he's still there a couple days a week and when we're lucky, he's there. we were lucky this morning.
before this morning's story comes out, i'll tell you a few earlier examples of uncle d'arcy's extraordinary kindness. my first great dane, dora was my everything. i hadn't learned the heartbreak of losing a great dane yet. i was 29 and dora and i had been together since i was 21. when i lived in paris, she was the main purpose for return visits home and finally staying home for good because i couldn't bear the distance between us. on christmas eve, i noticed she was limping. i phoned in the afternoon, but the answering service didn't get the message to the vet until later in the evening. he called immediately and asked if we could bring her in at 8.30 the next morning. christmas morning! remember, it was just a limp. we took her in and he took xrays. and he let us know she must have just slipped on the snow and ice and twisted it. that all was fine. he hugged me and wished me a merry christmas. and then 2 days later on the 27th, phoned the house to talk with my dad to tell him that there was actually a malignant tumor in the bone and he didn't want to ruin my christmas and wanted my father to break it to me. even then, when i was so shocked and sad, i was warmed by his kindness, always thinking of the animals and their humans. dora lived for another 11 months because of the wonderful care and advice he provided.
our next great dane, gala, was as dear to me as dora. she was a bit of a wild child, but her last 8 months she was unable to walk. she had a cart and we got along pretty well. except, that although she was fairly immobile, her stomach twisted. this is often fatal for large barrel chested dogs and great dane owners live in fear of it. i recognized the signs very early. again, i called late in the evening and we were told to bring her right in. the operation lasted four hours as they cleaned food from her stomach, and repaired all the damage. this time it was his son-in-law who worked through the night and then had a full clinic the next day. they let me be at her side constantly the next couple of days. and when she was somewhat stable but refusing to eat, they let me take her home with an iv. we worked for days to find something she would eat. but her kidneys and bowels weren't responding either and the fluid we were giving her through iv was not effective. so, i woke up after a week of doing all we could and knew there was really only one choice. i phoned the clinic, and uncle d'arcy was at our house an hour later (the clinic is half an hour away). he put her quietly to sleep on her own bed in the front living room window.
this morning when we walked in with little crabby, coated with diarhea and smelling disgusting, he understood immediately what we've been dealing with. and in his gentle and professional way examined her and soothed her. and offered wonderful advice. i'd been bathing her every couple days, but it upsets her terribly. and i thought last night was our last one together and wanted to just leave her be. but uncle d'arcy gave us options. she appears otherwise healthy, so he suggested we leave her with him over the weekend. he will give different treatments to see if he can improve her food absorption. and then on monday morning, we will discuss her options. he said he will be brutally honest with us monday morning. once again, approaching a difficult situation with kindness and warmth and making it much better than either tom or i expected it could possibly be.
so thanks to our wonderful uncle d'arcy, crabby may be coming home with us on monday. but if she doesn't, we know that she has had the kindest man trying everything to give her comfort.

Friday, November 4, 2011

my mother gave me a christmas cactus. such a charming old-fashioned plant. it was blooming magnificently when she gave it to me. last year, or maybe the year before. and once the blooms were finished i neglected it terribly. it stayed in the living room window next to a horse skull and a jar of shells and beach glass. but now it's miraculously blooming again. all the tips are bursting into red flowers. i remember my grandmother had a christmas cactus in a planter in her living room. and she would share cuttings. remember women giving each other cuttings from their favorite plants?
tonight, crabby has been sitting on the table behind the sofa with her head in my hand. she just wanted me to hold her little face. we still aren't sure what the future holds for her, but we can't imagine that she'll be with us much longer. i think tomorrow's appointment with our wonderful vet will make our decision. so it's been a quiet little night for our family. tom playing guitar while i list items on etsy, sharing the sofa with edgar, and holding crabby's head. but in my heart, i think it's our little farewell evening.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the presses!!!!

i've been given the liebster award by 2 lovely women....lisa from in my wild eden and demie at paraphernalia. i'm honored and smiling and thinking of all the lovely blogs i want to give it to in turn.

the liebster blog award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.
liebster is german and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, loveliest, cutest . . .
the rules for the liebster award are:
1. thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. reveal your five personal nominations and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

i am passing this award on to five blogs that i look forward to reading....

tracy at beautiful day. her beautiful spirit comes through in every post. her love of life and all that makes it artful comes tumbling out of her amazing photographs and words.

angy at brown paper packages. i love the energy that comes from her posts about her day to day life. warm and fun and i always look forward to her comments on my own blog.

petra at indivisualism. not only do i love her blog name. and her given name. but i love her eye. her photographs are magnificent and she is wise and perceptive

lilli at mothwise. i've only recently found this lovely blog full of ethereal photographs and bursting with emotion and authentic sincerity.

carol at ophelia unraveling. this blog is filled with carol's gripping poetry and witty observations. i find myself going back to read and re-read these poems. and carol....well she's just plain awesome.

jen at country weekend. a wonderful woman with a lovely little shop in the catskills and a blog full of wonderful observations.

emilie's daughter
. i've just recently discovered this great little spot full of recipes, design ideas, photographs. i had to add it.

yep, i chose a couple of extra people. i never can quite follow directions. thanks again....enjoy these wonderful blogs!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

i used to have a little flood of joy every time i turned on the tap. the water gurgled out like it was falling from an old kitchen hand-pump. it tumbled and rolled out of the spigot. and it was a soft little movement that caught me emotionally every time. one of the simple little things that would make my day. everyday.
i knew johnny was coming over to change the kitchen tap with tom that night. and i knew that changing it was truly necessary. i was at the bookstore. and suddenly i wondered if changing the tap would change my beautiful tendril of a waterfall from the old spigot.
i went straight to the kitchen when i got home. tom was proud of their work. for it was a major job, taking out cast iron pipes, working from the old cistern under the kitchen, along the limestone walls to bring in new pipes. and when i turned on the tap, the water rushed out in a pressurized chute. tom knew before he saw the disappointment in my eyes. he'd tried to find a way to make it tumble. but it wouldn't. so i'll try to always remember the way it used to be.
we had a busy weekend. i had more things on my schedule than i usually commit to. and by 7 pm sunday night, tom found edgar, stella and me fast asleep in this little grouping. he said we were like this for more than an hour. i love naps.