Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hey, Bing! We've got what you're dreamin' of!

The snow is falling again; 'snow on snow on snow!' We're having a White Christmas, for sure. I hope it lets up in time for our children and our childrens' children to arrive safely! We will have four generations of my family here. And a storybook landscape. Our neighborhood looks like Currier and Ives designed it.

Looking out toward the street lamp, the snow is falling so heavily, it looks like a hard rain. The snow is starting to bend the lighter branches down. My husband said the streets were as slick as he's ever seen them as he came home.

We are all tucked in for the night now. The dog has been walked. The snow will not be a worry to us until tomorrow.

I'll probably not post until after Christmas, so I do wish you and yours a lovely holiday, whatever you may be celebrating.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The first day of Winter...

The shortest day is here. Winter has begun, tho' it began for us when the Big Snowfall came... the one worthy of capital letters. It has been wintry cold since then, so our roads are an icy mess.

The birds sit in a queue under the feeder, waiting their turn, and reminding us to refill it on a regular basis. We are happy to oblige.

Gus lurks behind the curtain, waiting for some unsuspecting person to open an outside door so he can run out and pounce, sending them all in a lovely winged flurry off to other feeders. I think catching one of them is beyond his indoor imagination. He just dreams of scaring them away.

I'm sending warm thoughts out to you all on this winter solstice. Scarves and mittens and wooley caps are very much wardrobe necessities here. And winter has just now begun....

Friday, December 18, 2009

a LOVELY escape!

Make yourself a cup of coffee. Dress it up however you like. Then go here and sit back and relax while a delightful gentleman of your choosing reads to you....

What an amazing and perfect ad campaign! ... A simple fantasy come true, don't you think? I hope they keep it up!

(I listened to Jane Austen today, and look forward to more coffee escapes when moments of time come my way.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Heigh ho, heigh ho...

I have been frantically trying to clean house, decorate for the holidays, and catch up with laundry and errands before holiday guests come on Friday. With an attendant puppy at my heels since late summer, things have been piling up on me. So now, he is helpfully trying to keep me from catching up.

I can't blame all of my household neglect on Booker, though. I have also had a lot of painting and weaving, which I consider 'my work,' that has needed my attention since he came. For quite some time, I have put the studio work first. But now the housework, etc. has to come first, and I feel that I am neglecting my studio work! I have a tapestry design begging to be begun for the Enchanted Pathways exhibit, and I have several paintings that are partially done, plus several more I really want to begin.

Isn't it funny that one 'job' seems to make me have to ignore and neglect the other? I just can't seem to keep up with both at once. At least not now, with the 'help' that I have on my heels at all times. I'm sure this is probably a common conundrum for those of us who have in-home studios, and who often find ourselves running behind, trying to catch up with where we believe we should be.

I took the above photo in a main street diner. The man was doing business over coffee on his cell phone. Ah, if only I could get my cell phone to clean the house, while I sat and sipped coffee and watched shoppers trudge through the snow! But I clearly must have a cheaper cell phone than he has. I can do very little of my work with my cell phone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fa la la la la.... la la la la!

I am cleaning and decking and trying to get into some kind of spirit. I'm listening to some holiday music. I have to admit, though, that the old classic songs seem to be basically just to whistle along to in the malls, anymore. Whistling helps your family and friends find you. That's how we've always found my Dad in malls, and now it is also how I find my son, a certain friend, and how people find me. I don't realize I'm whistling, until someone says, "I knew it must be you; I heard you whistling." It is a fine family tradition. My grandfather could whistle in harmony with himself! It is a talent I aspire to.

The above video is of my very favorite all time holiday song. It cannot be beat in sentiment, and must also be sung along with - it's not a whistling song. I also really like The Weepies' new holiday song, "All That I Want." Other than that, I can tolerate the music for about a month, hearing each song a few times, then I'm glad to let it go for another year.

The tree is up, the mantle decorated, and my little cabins out for the grandkids. My parents are coming in a few days. 'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat...'
(Oh,yes, and I like any holiday song that the Muppets sing, including that one!)

ps. Speaking of holiday music, iTunes has a Holiday Sampler album free this week: 21 songs ranging from Mannheim Steamroller to David Archuleta to Aretha Franklin and Stephen Colbert. Go there. Get it. Sing or whistle along.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A quick warm-up...

It is warming up here, and the snow is turning to slush. It was supposed to warm up to the low thirty's (F), but it's already into the mid-forty's! And it has been raining. Quite a change in weather...

The little painting above is 4x4". It is in the miniatures show and sale at the Blue Pig Gallery. It was the same cup of cocoa and one of the same ornaments from the larger still life painting I did for our card.

Today I am finishing up the last sweater, so I can start cleaning for the holiday company tomorrow. We put the tree up, and it is still up, despite the fact that Gus is using it for a hide-out from Booker. Soon I expect Booker will figure that out, and the tree will be come a battle site. They love their battles, but there are frequent casualties, all being things that belong to me. I put very few ornaments on the tree, and none that are easily broken. I'm not as dumb as they think I am!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh, Christmas card...

Yesterday Booker was at the vet all day, getting that necessary surgery. Without his 'help' around, we tackled the big job of cleaning the living room, entryway, and stairways wood floors. (I know - it's a dumb thing to do when there's a foot of snow on the ground to be tracked in, footprint by pawprint, but I just couldn't stand them anymore.) I have this rule for myself when I decorate the house for the holidays: the house must be clean underneath all that 'decor.'

So now, I'm down to the last grandchild's sweater, and am ready to tackle the cleaning and decorating. I guess it's time! My parents will be arriving a week from today.

The above is a painting I did on masonite. It is 10x10", and I am also using it for our holiday cards this year. So, if you aren't on my mailing list, I give you permission to print it out and hang it with your cards, as my holiday greeting to you. Sign it for me, 'With Love from me to you!' I do appreciate all of my blog visitors and friends, and I wish you all a joyful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter magic...

"Our snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees;

...snow grew overnight on the roofs of houses like a pure and grandfather moss,

...minutely white-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunderstorm of white, torn Christmas cards."

The above was from my favorite Christmas book, in fact it is among my top few favorites books of all-time; A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. Get it. Read it. If possible, get the edition illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Thomas's words are pure delight.

What can one do when snowed in, but bake Maple cookies?

All that was yesterday. Today the sun is shining, but it is -6 degrees F outside, so I'm not going out today either! (Yes, that was a minus six!) I believe I'll make Spicy Chocolate Shortbread today (the spice is cayenne pepper.)

The sun is making beautiful shadows on the snow. But I am only taking photos right now from the backdoor, and those I am taking quickly. It is warm and toasty inside. Outside, it is not.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow update...

The snow kept coming all night, and in fact is still coming down. Officially there are 10-12 inches, which hasn't happened here for at least 20 years. I know there's a foot of snow on our picnic table in Booker's yard. Booker is loving it. It covered all his holes, so now he has something new to dig in.

I put my star in the window up, to help cheer neighbors who are shoveling and the few people who are out slogging by. Schools here have a snow day! I think my boys had only one snow day when they were in school here. Must've been that storm 20 years ago! It would be a lovely day to be at the loom, but I'll put some soup in the crockpot and finish up some holiday projects. Happy winter to you all from snowy Colorado! Today it actually looks like people think it always looks here in winter... like a Colorado postcard scene.

"The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow...

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below."

This is looking west from my sitting room window, at 4:00 this morning.

And this is looking east. Soon I'll need to get out in it and shovel, but for now, I'll just sip a cup of chamomile tea and enjoy the view!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beginning to deck... slowly, very slowly...

No, this beautifully arranged mantle is not in my house. It was in a shop in Maine. I took the photo to inspire me, but so far, I have not been brave enough to deck my own halls much. Booker is anticipating many new toys being put out, as he is quickly devouring all of his old ones.*

My husband put the lights on the outside of the house over the weekend. And this morning I went so far as to hang the holiday wreath. I made this wreath a few years ago, by taking all of the smaller ornaments that seemed to end up at the bottom of the storage box, and hot-gluing them on. I really love all of these ornaments. Some of them are vintage, some from friends, and some were on packages. They got lost on the tree, but decorate the large wreath very nicely. It has an old feel to it, I think.

* Speaking of Booker, he 'graduated' from his first eight-week obedience class yesterday. He was the youngest in the class, but he did pretty well. Here is what he is currently doing to all of his toys:

This is his giant squeaky rat, which he has always really liked. But one day he decided he would like it better without a head. It still squeaks. Makes me glad he still sleeps in his crate, as I can see him deciding he'd like me better headless at times, too. I could, after all, still feed him.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday and sick leave cancelled!

My muse has been trying very hard to walk out on me, requesting early holiday leave and even sick leave. I have decided I can't afford to give it to her this year - times being as they are.

Actually, I have had quite a rough week. I don't know if it's the seasonal storms passing through or the darkness coming on, but I have had a headache that has caused me to lose most of my sleep for the past week, and has resulted in a depression that doesn't want to lift. I realized yesterday that I also have not been spending any time in my studio or sitting room, which are the two brightest rooms in the house. Almost century old Arts and Crafts houses do not have a great deal of light, in spite of a having a lot of windows. We have very deep eaves, and darkness is the prevailing result. I decided this morning to sit in the brightest spots, with extra lighting on, to see if that will help. I also drug my muse back, kicking and screaming, so I could do something creative, even though it is a very small something.

One of my grand-daughters is getting a dollhouse from Santa. The dollhouses of today are sturdy and nice, but not very colorful. So I am on a mission to add some color to make it more of a 'doll HOME.' This morning in the sun, I crocheted a 'rag rug' for the house, and painted a 'portrait' of their family dog, to sit on a little easel. Keep in mind that the painting is about 2x3 inches, so is not terribly detailed. But the goal was to be colorful, not to be precise.

I will sit in the sun several times a day through this grey time, to try to avoid SAD-ness, and I will also try to keep my muse active, even though I won't have time for large projects for the next month or so. The holiday sweaters are still being knit, as well, and I think I'll move my knitting out of the basement (ultimate darkness!) up into the light, as well. The biggest reason for avoiding the two lightest rooms has been Booker, who always seemed to get in trouble in there. But he was pretty good this morning, so there may literally be light at the end of that tunnel, too!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The holly and the ivy....

Lest you think I am a total Scrooge, I am posting part of the Winter Seasons tapestry today. It is a bit from the lower border, which I've also put in the banner above. You can click on this detail to see the weaving better, if you like. One of the things I do when weaving a 'background' area is to choose slightly different yarn blends each time I have to add a new butterfly. It's not a big thing, but adds interest to the process for me, and I think it adds a bit of interest to the background, too. You can see the slight variation in this detail.

The song, "The Holly and the Ivy" sung by the Mediaeval Baebes is one of my favorite holiday songs. I got my monthly email update from The Metropolitan Museum today, making me want to go to the Cloisters to see their holiday decor, and to revisit the Unicorn tapestries there, which includes this one with the holly in the upper branches.

I'm probably silly to post my work with such an amazing piece, but I think it is a wonder that I am inspired by some of the things that inspired the designers and weavers of such work. Though I have yet to weave a unicorn.