On cold days like this after doing his business and before he comes back into the house, Bud goes into the dog house. Since we’ve had the dog house, the only dogs who use it are the ones who have lived outside for some part of their life. They seem to have an instinct or maybe it’s experience, to find shelter.
First Izzy, then Frieda and now Bud.
Today Bud sat in the doorway, the sun keeping him warm and Zinnia keeping him company.
Sun streamed through the window into the kitchen, I sat on one of the wrought iron chairs, with the plastic-covered seats, around the table. Usually, we sat in the only lived-in room in the house, where my grandmother spent most of her day, watching TV, talking on the phone and mending her stockings.
When we sat in the kitchen it was because my grandmother was making something special, like the Sicilian pizza or sfinge (fried dough balls rolled in sugar) she made once a year.
My sister and I visited my grandmother, who lived upstairs from us, every day after school. Not because we wanted to, but because we had to. My grandmother was not the kindly old woman that the word “grandmother” usually evokes.
I was shy around her and intimidated by her. Sometimes she would tell us stories about the children of friends, or the soap operas she was watching, but we didn’t talk to each other. The whole time I was there I’d be trying to think up an excuse to leave as quickly as possible.
But sometimes, my sister and I would be alone in my grandmother’s living room.
It was one of those rooms that were only used when company visited. The Baroque style furniture was covered in plastic. A glass chandelier hung from the ceiling and on one end of the room was a huge credenza. Behind the doors, which rolled into the piece of furniture, was a black and white TV that I don’t remember anyone every watching. On top of it was an oversized porcelain figurine of a 17th-century man, down on one knee holding the hand of a sitting woman in a beautiful gown, her white hair piled high on her head.
I don’t know what the circumstances were that my sister and I got to play in that room by ourselves, I only remember acting out the scene that was going on in the porcelain figurine. One of us sitting on the couch while the other kneeled before her proposing marriage or whatever story we came up with.
Actually every room in my grandmother’s house, except the sitting room, was kind of magical.
In the dining room one wall was covered in mirrors. Even her bathroom, though the exact same set up as ours downstairs, seemed more elegant. It smelled like powder, the fixtures were blue instead of pink, the extra toilet paper covered with a crocheted doll, a soft fluffy cover on the toilet seat.
And even the kitchen, though well used, had one wall, papered in a scene from an Italian Villa.
In the mural there was an archway with a birdcage hanging from it and wrought iron chairs leading to a garden. Like the wardrobe that led to Narnia, I could imagine stepping into the scene while my grandmother talked and cooked. It was a magical place to go to. An escape while never leaving my chair.
Although it’s very different, when I look at my quilt “Botanical“, that’s what I think of. The other side of my grandmother. The one I only knew from the rooms in her house that I usually wasn’t allowed in. The ones that transformed her upstairs apartment into a Venetian Palace.
Botanical is a magical place to go when you can’t leave, but need to get away.
This is it, the weekend of our Snail Party. We’ve moved the day from Saturday to Sunday night because we’re expecting snow on Saturday.
All week the snails were sluggish. They were staying inside their shells, not moving around a lot. But yesterday they started to come to life.
Below is a video of my Mystery Snail Pearl from this morning making her way over one of my nerite snails. I’m calling her Pearl because of the pearly stripe around her spiral. She’s the biggest snail I’ve ever had, you can really see her elegant body and antenna as she moves.
I also have a new ivory Mystery Snail, who I’m calling Ivory and Socrates, my blue Mystery Snail. Not to mention all the nerite snails and the new addition of shrimp to the tank, who are also interesting to watch.
I’m not surprised that I woke up early this morning thinking about my shipping envelopes.
For a while, I’ve been trying to find new envelopes to mail my potholders and wool in. Something lighter than the padded ones I’ve been using which are all paper, but add unnecessary weight (which is an environmental concern) when shipping them.
When I tried to find a new kind of envelope a while back all I found were Tyvek envelopes which Dupont and claims are recyclable. But the only way to recycle them is to send them back to Dupont. Not something I can imagine anyone really doing.
But this time I found so many different options, I was having a hard time figuring out which would be best for me.
Most of the envelopes I found are made from recycled paper and are just a lightweight kind of cardboard which can be recycled with other kinds of paper or cardboard. And even if they were to end up in a landfill, it’s not like dumping plastic.
But then I found a company called noIssue. who makes shipping envelopes that are corn-based and can be composted with your other organic matter. They biodegrade in just six months. And even if people aren’t composting them in their backyards, they won’t add anything toxic to a landfill.
They do need to be stored in a cool dark place and have a shelf life of 9 months, which all work fine for me.
So I ordered some and got an email saying they’d get to me on February 21st.
That’s when I started to look around for more envelopes that I could get quicker since I’m just about out of my padded ones. And that’s why I couldn’t fall back to sleep this morning thinking about which envelopes to buy.
Then, this afternoon, I came into the house from my studio and sitting on the dining room table was a small box filled with my new compostable envelopes.
Tomorrow I’m planning on finishing up the batch of potholders I made last week and putting the ones I haven’t already sold up for sale in my Etsy Shop. And when I ship them out, they’ll go in my new environmentally friendly envelopes.
It’s Bellydancing day, so a short workday for me. I meant to stop working on my new quilt earlier so I could blog, but I got caught up in it and now I have only a few minutes before I have to feed the animals and get ready for my class.
But I did get a lot done on my quilt, I’m almost all done…
I still need a thin strip of fabric on the top of the quilt and the piece I sewed on the bottom might be a bit too heavy. But I can’t make that decision now. I look at it tomorrow and figure out what to do.
When I look at this quilt, I keep thinking of it as a place to go. Like a Trompe-l’oeil wallpaper, that just takes you away for a moment or two.
Maybe it’s the little bit of snow on the ground that got the donkey’s annoyed this morning. But they were back to pushing all the sheep away from their feeder. After I took the video, I moved some of the hay into the donkey feeder so they sheep could have enough to eat.
Although it’s only the second time that Fate and Zinnia and I have walked in the woods together, it feels like it’s become a regular thing already. Fate, who often snarls at Zinnia in the house (although less than she had been) seems to completely accept her on our walks. And Zinnia seems to get that the walks aren’t about playing.
Zinnia did some sniffing around and even when she found something good to eat, she still came back to me when I called her. I guess the treats I had were tastier than what she found under the leaves.
I’m not sure how long that will last, but I’ll be sure to keep carrying treats with me and reinforce what she’s already doing.
I started my day by undoing. A while back I sewed a border around the fabric with the tree on it in the photo above. It’s been hanging on my studio wall since then. But today I removed that border and started over.
When I was cleaning up my studio I put aside some fabric that I thought would work well with the tree and today I started working on making it into a quilt. Not only did the tree call to me, but the colors did too.
I don’t remember who sent me that gorgeous piece of fabric with the flowers and their roots. They all seem to be ascending to me.
This is as far as I got today.
I didn’t get to sew that panel on the right and still have to find a small piece for the bottom of it. As much as I wanted to keep working on it, by the time I got this far, I was just too tired, in body and mind to do more.
Maybe it’s this warm weather that got the donkey’s going today. Usually, they save their donkey madness for the spring and summer.
I saw them running around outside my studio window and ran out to get a video. That’s Lulu braying like crazy. The sheep always seem stunned when the donkeys get wild like this. And I always love to watch them prance around and kick up their heels.
As we reach the rise in the woods that dips down to the stream and the farm, Fate usually runs ahead of me. When I get to the gate leading into the back pasture, she is always waiting on the other side, her Border Collie intensity back as she waits for me to tell her to “get the sheep”.
These past few January days are warm enough for the ticks to come out and for the donkeys and sheep to do some winter grazing.