Category Archives: animals

Critters only — studio tour

I went looking for the gift of wooden African beads from Sage Ann Hawk and could not find them. Arg! But here are congeries of critters just dying to say hello.


Well, not everyone. This guy wants you to skedaddle and fast. Perhaps he’s witnessed some worrisome antics — or maybe, he was just born with a suspicious nature. Increasingly, I’m inclined to the latter view.


Panda bears and tuxedo cats have an obvious affinity for one another! Dopey and sublime seem to like to keep company, too.Mr. Moose has taken on the thankless task of paperwork. I hope he’s up to it!

Can you find all four kinds of critters, above?
Speaking of butterflies, the top WIP was inspired by Hazel‘s word quilt and the indigo scrap was made during one of Jude’s classes – both from some years back.

Shifting layers around in the studio equals personal archeology.

There’s my beloved cat, Cindy, who lived to be 20 years old and died while I was in Dublin (having just turned 20 myself). She graciously came to me in a dream before the letter bearing the sad news arrived (although as I recall, she bore a trident and issued a warning with a very deep voice, not unlike the movie dragon Saphira from Eragon).

Aside: this pet and her years of affectionate company are why, for a spell, I resisted Hazel’s name change.

Another aside: Vineyard on the left, orthodontist’s office on the right.

Everything is a collage, really, not least of all, life itself. Bulletin boards evidence collage by their very nature, with variations afforded by cropping. “Live beautifully” might well have served as my mother’s motto (she stands in a dark sweater next to her sister). Had I snapped the picture a little to the right, I’d have captured my father, too, with each of the trio spouting a palm tree out of their heads.

I have a long and silly history with rhinos dating back to middle school, something my sister references often in a way that never feels quite neutral, but forget that. Just know — this rhino hasn’t got the time of day for you. He’s a taskmaster. Honking and snorting, “wind the goddamned bobbin, already!” (Confession:  I often stop a sewing session when the bobbin runs out. Just walk away. Often).

Oh, the things I’ve learned about alligators! Did you know that they kill their victims by pulling their limbs off and not by biting them the way sharks would?Well, even though I couldn’t find the African beads, here’s a woven belt that Sage Ann Hawk also gave me. Look how it keeps the pedestrian tape measures company, and dare I say, lends a little dignity?

* * *

P.S. Four days sugar-free and my feet were pain-free this morning. Four days!

P.P.S. Did anyone else read the New York Times magazine story about Gwyneth Paltrow? Even though I ascribe to many of the “kooky” things she peddles, I can’t stand her whole brand. The only thing that made me warm to her even a little was the mention of how awful it was to work with Harvey Weinstein — made me wonder if she might still be acting if it weren’t for him.

Sheila makes her own season

Meet Sheila. She is all pepped up about the coming of gift giving season. Ribbons! Tissue paper! Specially printed boxes! She loves them all — and those are just the wrappers! Unlike Walgreen’s or Macy’s, Sheila’s festive mood arises from joy. Not greed.

She wears a recycled blouse & sweater and a cute pink button. Part of a wool challis scarf that belonged to my mother wraps her neck. It’s one of my “good luck cloths” and I hope it lasts forever, because when I include a scrap, it feels like a blessing for the recipient. Her pipe cleaner arms make a loop in the back for hanging, but she’s very versatile (it’s one of her charms) and will stand on her own.

Sheila is rather proud of her crocheted tail and insisted that I include this shot. The harsh shadows made it a “no go” in my book, but she is very persuasive. Must be that charm!

Because she keeps singing “I’m going to Texas“, I gave her a peace amulet. But when I came downstairs this morning, peace was hanging by a thread. I didn’t like the look or sound of that, so I dug up a festive woodland branch for her instead. She is so at home everywhere she goes — whether it’s among the ferns or next to a toadstool. In that regard, I want to be more like her!
Her holiday cheer must be contagious for I finished one of the starched doily snowflakes using cotton string and a few crystal beads. Sshhh! It will be a gift!
It’s windy today, making the black walnuts fall in waves of bombing that sound like artillery. I was lucky to survive filming. Although, I didn’t look up. Maybe all the nuts have fallen now.​

​This week I’ll be going to Salem. I hope there’s time to take a few pictures before or after visiting my sister, because the place goes absolutely ga-ga for Halloween.

And just to get us back to October, here’s a page from an old Ranger Rick magazine that I found while sorting downstairs (today, I tackled the file cabinets).

Vibrations

A Short Tale of Transformation

I was taking a selfie to illustrate the kind of snarky talk siblings sometimes share. Moments earlier I put on the pants that my sister says ‘make me look like white trash’. Then I donned a shirt the same color as the one that inspired her to say recently, “We’ve gotta get you out of dirt colors.” As I dressed, there was nasty self satisfaction and full authorship of my own oppositional nature.

I continued this unpleasantness (really) by taking a picture to illustrate the outfit. And something happened. A halo of sparkles appeared in the background around a recently finished felt critter. Just look at those sparkles! They’re inexplicable, though given the mirrors, windows, and other reflective surfaces nearby, probably not miraculous. Nevertheless, the sight of them did something to me. They changed my mind. Isn’t that a little miraculous, the effortless shift from brute rehash to wonder at the nature of light?

I was reminded of a podcast about a researcher from MIT who was able to record his voice with high powered video off of a BAG of POTATO chips. No surprise (but total surprise) — it’s all about vibrations. (And by the way, all you have to do is google “MIT” and “potato chips” and you’ll find the story — which is another kind of miracle, one made no less spectacular by our taking such things for granted these days).

Using a blurry picture of Miss Mousy and the app PRIMSA, I fooled around to get a sense of her vibrations.She’s rather divine, don’t you think? She’s going to the ballet! She wears a tulle skirt in solidarity with the dancers, revealing an attitude of celebratory participation. You won’t find a hint of bitter defeat about our Miss Mousy, even though at one time she wanted to be a ballerina herself. More than anything in the world, in fact.Look at her polka dot pocketbook! Her anticipatory smile!

Look at her long legs — all the better for being unnaturalistic and sourced from New Hampshire woods.

So yeah, I’m wearing unflattering  jeans and a shirt my sister might condemn in irrational terms, but how comfortable I am! It’s a day I’ve claimed for myself! I’ve cracked one puzzle and another awaits. And do you want to hear the big decision of the day: what shall I make for lunch? Homemade mushroom soup or chicken salad with pecans, shallots, and dried cranberries?

Thank you for the cheer alert, Miss Mousy! What a sweet reminder! She’d never preach, but if she did, she might say something like: focus on polka dots and stripes, my friend — they make you smile.

  Blood and money

The other night, I clipped one of Finn’s nails too short and it bled. And bled. Oh, and it bled some more! The special powder had turned to rock, so while K held a paper towel on our poor alarmed pup’s paw, I whipped up a concoction of corn starch and baking powder.

The bleeding stopped, as bleeding usually does. But later, after settling on the pillow that he sleeps in at the end of our bed, Finn worried at it some. I didn’t know it then, but the nail bled again. The next day while making the bed (or what I call ‘making the bed’), I was astonished to find a perfect heart of his blood on our coverlet.In writing class last week (and weirdly, I can’t remember if it was before or after this nail incident), I wrote (and wrote) about blood. Oh how I wrote! If this is the year for making myself uncomfortable with risk-taking, then I ought to share it, oughtn’t I?

img_1256Meanwhile, I lost my progressive lenses two days ago (my $600 progressive lenses!) It’s disorienting and distressing to say the least. I have tons of three dollar reading glasses which I lose all the time with little consequence. But these? Until two days ago, I had considered my successful tracking a function of respect for the price tag.

(That’s $600 with insurance, by the way. If St. Anthony doesn’t come to my aid, I’ll be looking to Warby Parker for cheaper replacements).

Coincidentally, I recently recommitted to a babysitting job that kinda ruins my Thursdays. I didn’t want to say ‘No’ and I didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ either. In the aftermath of saying ‘Yes’, I decided that earmarking my modest earnings as ‘mad money’ might ease the ambivalence.

And then I go and lose my glasses. I lose my glasses something like ten minutes after the ‘mad money’ idea — glasses that cost almost to the dollar what the babysitting will produce in income.

Maybe they’ll turn up. Certainly, I won’t spend $600 to replace them. But correlations like this make me pay attention and ask questions.

Questions like: don’t I deserve to spend $600 on myself? (this from a woman who recently purchased a sweet grass basket in Charleston for $270 and considered it a deal). Or, is the designation ridiculous, given the amount of our resources spent to keep me nicely clothed and in bath salts?

Could it be an old lesson — that old, old one about the dangers of saying ‘Yes’ when I want to say ‘No’ (I thought I was done with this one).

Or maybe it’s about losing focus. Pure and simple (although, what’s simple about that?)

Such first world issues I leave you with today.

UPDaTE: I re-thought the Thursday commitment. Relief. ‘Hear that glasses? You can show up now!’

 

 

A crowd gathering on the mantel

These creations have a way of taking over. Are they gifts? One or two. Do I plan to sell them any time soon? Nah. Never mind — they demand to be made.

I machine stitched that pink and white kitty head and soft mauve body (below). She’s going to be a gift for the girl I babysit one day a week. I love that her ears are different colors and that her face has that triangle of pink. Soft, old wools help. I was hoping she would wear that pink satin skirt (to the right), but she has other ideas. More sporty.


Today we went to a Big Box store primarily to buy nuts for baking (yes! Christmas IS happening) and (somehow) managed to buy $450 worth of other stuff while we were at it (not counting booze).

A case of wine and bourbon fell out of the hatchback and landed on my foot in the parking lot. Incredibly, five bottles survived the crash and luckily, one of them was the bourbon. Ironically, fifty dollars worth of wine met the pavement while I was making sure they hadn’t overcharged us $16 on a package of meat (still agog at the $500 total. I mean, seriously — batteries, men’s shirts, and frozen shrimp notwithstanding).

Last weekend, we gathered with K’s cousins. It was a surprise birthday party for two 60 year olds. Yes, it’s come to this — gag gifts for extra hair and bad joints, jokes about Medicare, and actually wanting to be in bed by nine. Here’s C with H. She moved to the West Coast at the end of the summer and C is moving there at month’s end.

Everything will be LESS this year. Less cookies. Less shopping. I may not even bring in the nutcracker collection this year. Fortunately I gave up card writing more than ten years ago.

This doll no longer looks quite so forlorn. I added more hair, closed up the sides of her head, hemmed her cowl. She’s being shaped and auditioned on a bottle, with a chop stick for stability. I am considering keeping the bottle, instead of creating a cloth body with gravel at bottom for ballast the way I usually do. These are not kids’ toys, after all.

These two felt doggies (below) are whispering behind the curtain. I’d love to know what they’re so giddy about.


I gave the Red Bell Pup to my sister on Wednesday. Her cat may think it’s for her.

Tomorrow, we get our tree. “Less” will govern there as well. We have high ceilings and have typically had gorgeous 8-9 footers gracing our living room. Not this year. I’m thinking small — not table top small, but maybe six feet, max. It’s not just that I continue to feel done in, anxious, and lost. It’s that LESS truly feels like enough.

A little happy cloth

In the spirit of finishing things, in the spirit of working with sweet themes, I finished a half-worked patchwork yesterday. I love it –  not because a thing has to be sweet to be loveable, but because I do.

This one I think I will add batting, backing, hand quilt and offer for sale. It could serve as a baby cloth (to be tucked into diaper bag, say) or as a hanging.

(The house is appliqué. The rest, pieced).