It Snowed All Day

close up of snowflakes on the metal pasture gate.

Snowflakes were drifting around the farm long before I got up this morning.

While I fed the animals it seemed a snowfall, later, while I worked in my studio they were more like seeds on the wind. Spare and singular they floated on invisible air currants, shy compared to the downy woodpecker at the feeder.

All day it snowed in varying amounts,  yet there are only  odd speckled shapes on the ground, where the sun couldn’t reach, to show for it.  And, I suppose, the mud it left when it melted.

The Woods Came To Me

The seed on my sewing machine.

First it was a half inch Poly Nose on the dining room table.  Then I found one of those seeds that grab on and don’t let go on my sewing machine.

I don’t know where all these small seeds came from.  But I felt like they were visiting me from the woods.

It’s what they made me think of, walking in the woods. I could have used a walk in the woods today.  I was struggling with the kind of self-doubt that I haven’t felt in a long time.  And walking in the woods is always grounding to me.

I though of walking on the road since it’s hunting season, but then I got caught up in finishing my quilt.  Anyway, it isn’t the same.

But in a way, the woods came to me.

In our dining room and then in my studio.  And when I went to put a log in the fire this evening, I saw the tiny squiggle of orange, like a flower,  growing on the branch that fell last year from our Paper Birch.

A tiny curl of bright orange fungi growing on a piece of firewood that came from our paper birch tree.

Winter Lights

I never got around to putting up the lights on the house last winter.   But today I had the urge to light up the night.

Two stands on the front porch and one on the back.  Not only does it warm things up this time of year, but it makes it easy to find the farmhouse when we drive home at night.

Taking Care of Business

Getting my quilt Dancing With The Dragonflies read to be mailed off to its new home.  I especially like the way this quilt looks on the bed.

It was a day of getting business done.

I made two batches of Spirit Owl Potholders, but only had three still available to post for sale in my Etsy Shop.  That makes me happy it means they spoke to a lot of people.   I also got my second order of Zip Magnets so I had some preorders on those to fill.  When I was done I  boxed up my quilt Dancing With The Dragonflies which I will send off to its new home tomorrow.

After that it was the dreaded paperwork.  I really don’t mind it much once I’m doing it.  It’s the thought of it that keeps me away.  I’d just rather being doing something else.

But my October and November receipts were in a messy pile and needed to be sorted and recorded.  I I can only put it off for so long before it starts to nag at me.

It feels good to get all that work done and now I can look forward to getting back to my studio on Monday.

Send Your Unwanted “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” To The Mansion

Paryese with the first “ugly Christmas Sweater” That Kathy sent to The Mansion

As I was packing up my markers after my class  at The Mansion this morning when a package was delivered to Paryese, the Activities Director.

We were discussing the next Mansion class I will be a part of which is making “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” for everyone to wear to the Christmas Party in December.

Last week Jon put a call out for “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” and Paryese received the first one today from Kathy.

Paryese’s plan is to take old sweaters and add decorations to them.  But if the sweaters already have the Christmas theme, we have a head start.

So if you have an old Ugly Christmas Sweater that you don’t want anymore you can send it to The Mansion C/O Paryese Bates Becker 11 SouthUnion Ave.  Cambridge NY 12816.

Tomorrow Jon and I will visit a couple of thrift shops in town to see what sweaters we can find then head to the Dollar Store to get some Christmas decoration to add to them.

Mushrooms On The Paper Birch

Mushrooms growing on the birch tree

These dinner plate sized mushrooms are growing bigger all the time.  The last time mushrooms like this grew on the Paper Birch in the side yard, the branch came down in a snowstorm.

I know our Paper Birch and old and dying.  Each year the leaves get small and less grow.  Branches fall throughout the seasons, most are partially if not completely rotted.

But she’s still a glorious tree, holding her arms up in a welcoming hug to anyone who comes up the driveway.

I collect the smaller branches she drops for kindling, but this years we’re also burning the wood from the big branch that came down last winter.  It’s piled in the woodshed with the rest of the wood that we get delivered.

The birch is easy to recognize because of the white bark.  It’s good to use for starting the fires, the papery bark catches and burns like newspaper.  But there is one split piece I keep putting at the bottom of the pile.

The  wood is wavy like Rapunzel’s hair or the wind on water.  It’s a cross section of the layers of the earth, and a mountain range.

I don’ t know what makes a tree’s wood do this.  It’s probably not a sign of a healthy tree.  But it is beautiful to me.

As beautiful as the dinner plate mushrooms that are an indication of decaying wood.

The Maple Syrup Crystal

The maple syrup crystal

I squeezed out the last of the maple syrup into my cereal.  The bottom of the bottle was hard with syrup.  So I filled the bottle with hot water and when I dumped it in the sink,  out came a crystal.

Small, only half an inch round, the cluster of maple syrup was as clear as, well, a crystal.

I had never seen or heard of such a thing.  I though it might melt.  So I quickly took a picture of it, but when I saw it wasn’t getting any smaller, I put it in my bowl of cereal to sweeten it.

But even then it didn’t dissolve.  It came up in a spoonful of bran and milk, and I didn’t dare eat it.

Now the maple syrup crystal is on the kitchen windowsill keeping the Ganesha statue I got in India company.

Since eating it didn’t feel like an option, it seemed making it an  offering was the best use of the crystal.

Putting My Dahlia’s To Bed For The Winter

My Dahlia Garden when I began digging it up this afternoon.

My dahlias didn’t survive last weeks hard frost.   But before it happened, I tied colored yarn around the stems of the plants so I could  tell the flowers apart.  Because after they die, they all look too similar to me.

This afternoon I dug up each plant, cut the stem from the bulbs, put the bulbs in paper bags and  labeled them with a description of the flower.

The dahlia bulbs in their bags in the basement

Then I put them back in the cold storage room in the basement for the winter.

The bulbs multiply every year, so I’ll be giving some away to friends who want them.  I’ll send a few to Suzy and give some to my neighbor Kim.

I’ve had so many red dahlia bulbs in the past I’ve put them out in the front of the house for free.  This spring I planted the extra bulbs in my gardens and in the front lawn.  When so many of the flowers died back in the fall, they filled the yard with red.

But those bulbs I won’t dig up.  I have more than enough from my garden.

Zinnia waiting at the top of the basement steps for me.

There was one flower that didn’t die in the frost.   A purple pansy in the cement planter between my dahlia and shade garden survived.

Every year when I put  my dahlia bulbs to sleep in the basement I marvel at the thought of them coming back in the spring.  Digging up and planting my dahlia bulbs has become a tradition for me.  It marks the seasons and speaks to the continuity of a life that is dependent on me.

These bulbs can’t live through a winter in Upstate NY.  It was Jon who started the dahlia garden and when he lost interest I took it over.  I never wanted to plant dahlias for just the reason I love having them now.

I get to go through the cycles of the seasons with them. As if we have a pact.  I dig them up up and plant them every year and they bring me the joy of their flowers.

The surviving pansy

A Visit To The Bennington Museum’s “Haunted Vermont” Exhibit

Shirley Jackson’s books, and her Poe Award at the Bennington Museum.

Two museums in one week.  I feel blessed.

I wanted to get to the Bennington Museum while their Haunted Vermont exhibit was still up.  It runs through December, so there was plenty time, but I often miss an exhibit thinking just that.

What I mostly wanted to see was the Shirley Jackson exhibit included in the show.

It was small, a collection of her books both hardcover and paperback, a letter she had written saying at the end that the cat took her pen.  Some of her cat sculptures, an old phonograph that she claimed played a certain song by itself and the typed pages of one of her stories.

One of Jackson’s typed pages from a story with corrections.

We were teenagers when my sister who told me about Shirley Jackson’s book We Have Always Lived In The Castle.  After that I started reading her short stories.  I’ve read The Haunting Of Hill House at different times in my life and every time I see something about myself in it that I hadn’t before.  It was only a few years ago that I discovered Jackson’s writings about family and her own life.

Her stories seem timeless to me even though they are often set in a particular time and place. Her writing is simple and direct, yet her ideas complex and insightful.

Victorian Hair Jewelry

One of my favorite galleries in the  Museum is the room filled with glass cases and small artifacts from everyday life.

I am always stunned by the intricacy and detail of the Victorian hair jewelry.  And I never get tired of looking at the sewing notions from the same period.

A tape measure, thimble and needle holder.

I don’t know how practical the pin cushion is, but it’s pretty sweet.

Pin cushion

Every time I’ve visited the museum, the gallery on the first floor has an exhibit about present day Vermont.  That’s where I saw the needlework by Ray Materson which speaks to the public image of Vermont as  a wholesome place compared to the reality of it’s problems with drugs and poverty.

As small as it is, (only about 2 inch high), it makes a big impact.  It pulled me out of the past into the true horrors of today.

Vermont Mother In Turmoil By Ray Materson

A Better Reality

It was cold enough last night to kill all the plants that didn’t die the night before. Not even the mum that is growing in my garden survived.  The only thing that lived was a geranium in a pot on the porch.  I dug it up and brought it inside this afternoon.

It was cold enough to leave the car in a layer of frost.

Jon and I left the farm early this morning to go to an appointment with his foot surgeon.  A one month check-up after the surgery on his toe.  We sat in the car waiting for the windshield to defrost.  As it did I took the picture above.

To me it had the feeling of coming out of a dream.

We’ve been doing this routine for years, seeing Dr Daly who treats Jon’s feet.  Every time we thought he his foot was healing it turned out that it actually wasn’t.  It wasn’t until Jon suggested amputating his toe and getting a brace that things began to get better.

Today, Dr Daly had big smiles.  She said Jon’s foot looks great and he doesn’t have to come back for another three months.

This time we knew it was all fine, but it was even better to hear her say it.

In a way, it’s like that picture I took this morning, like we’re emerging from one reality to another.  And this one feels better.

Full Moon Fiber Art