Friday, January 31, 2014

gold scallops all around

A year ago I made a skirt from some fairly heavy weight cotton velvet. I wore it once. 

The problem was, because of the thickness, I didn't know how to go about hemming it. I didn't want a lump at the bottom.  I was able to wear it once because I just cut it and wore it that way. But the nature of velvet is that you can't iron out any wrinkles, so I knew I'd have to always wear it once and then wash it. But, it wasn't hemmed, so I couldn't wash it! A dilemma.

That thing has sat at the bottom of my hamper for a whole year. Oh, I've had all sorts of ideas for hemming it. I really wanted to attach another weighty fabric at the bottom, but didn't know what. I thought of making a quilted piece, a wide section, to be attached there. But, even though it is almost an upholstery weight it still has a nice drape - anything quilted would have spoiled it. I pondered the situation I can't tell you how many times, coming up with nothing. Until yesterday.

My sewing machine isn't fancy, but it does have two or three decorative stitches, and I decided to try one at the hem. A small scallop - I practiced first on a scrap, of course. Found a full spool of some vintage gold thread, and did it today. I know vintage thread is supposed to be weak and they say don't use it. But older thread often has a wonderful sheen and this makes a pretty, shiny scallop all around. There is no seam here which is depending on a strong thread to keep it together. 

I can wash it now, and we'll see what happens. I'll trim it near to the sewing, and hope for the best. It really is pretty, and I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

knitting with Gladys Taber

I'm joining Ginny this week with another pair (the sixth!) of these handwarmers which are so appealing and easy to knit. I'm reading another from Gladys Taber, Amber being her five-pound Abyssinian cat. Gladys was an animal and nature lover and had many cocker spaniels, Irish setters and cats.

"Amber hears it [the Canada geese flying over] and it means something to her, although I cannot explain what. She listens, she watches, her tail comments.

The geese are going over, I say. I pray for happy landings."

She talks to Amber, explains things to her and on the whole, seems to understand her cat pretty well. Apparently Gladys Taber wrote quite a few books, and I am happy to look forward to reading them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"the mind's tenderness toward the heart"

I used to be in the habit of writing quotes on paper scraps - things which seemed like truth to me and which I knew I'd forget unless I wrote them down. Yesterday I came across one, and today I found another.

What wisdom is acquired during the course of a life is a result of the mind's tenderness toward the heart.

There it was on a piece of paper, without a source. Looking it up, it is attributed to James Cowan, but since I haven't read his work, I guess I saw it quoted in another place.

Worth sharing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

real life

"The reward of the unhurried is the real life."

                              -   Ann Voskamp

Saturday, January 25, 2014

robins in winter

I'm going to have to call the Audubon Society, I think. Who else?

A week ago I looked out the back door and saw a robin right there. Over the past few years I've heard some say that some robins stay around all winter; but I never saw any. Today there were three together in a backyard tree.

Here are two of them; I couldn't get them all in the picture without them looking like dots. 

My brother says he's heard that there are black-headed ones who stay - they are Canadian robins. 
Well, these don't have black heads.

I hope they have something to eat - robins don't eat sunflower seeds, which is what's in our feeder. They like bugs and worms. But this guy looks pretty plump, doesn't he? 

I know the mockingbird used to be a southern bird, but now they stay up here all the time. I suppose robins could do the same. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

a "remarkable episode" in cat observation

"Seaweed is an interesting person, competent, sure of himself...His own house is across the road and up a short distance, but he can be seen as soon as he appears around the bushes...he reminds me of a bank president on the way to a conference. His markings are somewhat like a patchwork quilt, but his dignity is Fifth Avenue.

The incident that established Seaweed on our special list was the day last week when he took his usual route home, skipped across the road because a car went by, crossed the back yard, planted his stocky body at the glass door and was let in. Whereupon he marched to the hall, went down the cellar stairs and used the litter box. Then he came back upstairs and went back out.

I consider this one of the most remarkable episodes in my cat observations...How was he so sure just where that litter box was, since he had obviously never spent a night in this house?..And, practically speaking, why did he travel so far without stopping on the lawn, since he is an outdoor cat much of the time?

In the end I decided any normal, ordinary cat can keep any human being in a state of frustration."

                                          -   Gladys Taber,   Conversations with Amber

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

snow and cold

We haven't had much snow this winter. But today - it's a snowy day.

After work I walked up to my neighbor's for a brief visit, and on my way watched the sparkles here and there glittering in the dark ahead of me. Magical stuff.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

order, beauty

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."

                 -    Pearl Buck   (from Simple Abundance)

Monday, January 13, 2014

blue and gold

Our house faces westish, and yesterday after an early dinner when the sun was getting lower, the sky behind the house got that darkish deep blue and the golden light was all over the trees and everything out there.

 I don't really like putting up pictures of my neighbors' houses, so I used a filter called smudge stick, but you can still get the idea of the brightness.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

a thing for hankies

My mother sang in the church choir and I'd usually go up with her.  A nice lady up there once gave me a set of three machine-embroidered handkerchiefs, and I haven't looked back since.  Years later while working in the nursing home, a patient brought out stacks of hankies she'd made years before, some with tatted edges and some with crocheted. She let me take a big stack. 

Those are all gone, but meanwhile I found that one of the fabric companies had printed some to be used for crafts.  I use them for my runny nose.

I also have three beautiful Christmas hankies my mother gave me.  Yes, I'm ironing. I'm ironing anyway.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

dear tree

Our beloved ornamental cherry tree, which sits in front of the house and blooms so magnificently every spring -

Our dear tree which was so weighed down by snow two years ago -


has a split right down the length of the trunk, and I was the one to discover it (with a shock) this morning.

I was very surprised two years ago when there seemed to be nothing wrong, after the big snow. But maybe that caused a weakening, and together with temperatures in single digits yesterday, this crack developed.

I called the nursery where we got it - she said when it's getting warmer to paint it with that black tree stuff. I thought she'd say we should wrap it up! Bind the wound! Put it in swaddling clothes like a baby! She didn't seem to think so.

My brother knows an arborist - we're going to see what he thinks. It's heartbreaking.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

one more

Christmas present to give, that is.

I'm in no hurry.

May each Christmas, as it comes, find us more and more like Him who at this time became a little child, for our sake, more simple-minded, more humble, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God.

-  Cardinal John Newman (from Miss Read's Christmas Book) 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

winter cold from the past

With reports of such cold temperatures around the country, I offer this from Miss Read's Christmas Book:

Sunday, Christmas Day, 1870

As I lay awake praying in the early morning I thought I heard a sound of distant bells. It was an intense frost. I sat down in my bath upon a sheet of thick ice which broke in the middle into large pieces whilst sharp points and jagged edges stuck all round the sides of the tub like chevaux de frise, not particularly comforting to the naked thighs and loins, for the keen ice cut like broken glass. The ice water stung and scorched like fire. I had to collect the floating pieces of ice and pile them on a chair before I could use the sponge and then I had to thaw the sponge in my hands for it was a mass of ice. The morning was most brilliant. Walked to the Sunday School with Gibbins and the road sparkled with millions of rainbows, the seven colours gleaming in every glittering point of hoar frost. The Church was very cold in spite of two roaring stove fires.

                                     -   Francis Kilvert,  Diary, 1870-1879

Now that's something I could never do.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

on the eleventh day of Christmas...

one friar piping?  Well, it is a bit cold for sandals, so I guess I shouldn't expect the other ten.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

a chocolate memory

Cyndi brought me some Fanny Farmer chocolates for Christmas. She had a reason for it.

When I was a child, before the days of shopping malls, my mother would dress me up and bring me into the city, where we'd go to my absolute favorite department store; a place with brightly-lit make-up counters, escalators, a large ladies' lounge, dining room with Victorian wallpaper, and, at the top of one of the escalators, a little spot where they sold chocolates. I have a memory of a box of milk chocolates all in the shape of wooden shoes.

About twenty years later, Aunt Helen and Uncle Tony came by for one of their monthly visits. These were always very pleasant - they'd come around lunchtime on a weekday and Aunt Helen would usually bring a small box of chocolates. This time it was Fanny Farmer, which I hadn't had. Or I thought I hadn't. I chose a solid milk chocolate piece, and was instantly transported back to my childhood at that wonderful department store. So, at last I knew what brand those chocolates were! There was no doubt in my mind - that taste memory was a certainty.

I didn't know Cyndi when I was little, but I've been friends with her a long time and she knows the story, so when she saw these she remembered. Thanks, Cyndi!   mmmm

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year yarnalong

I finished my cowl finally. I do like it! I wasn't sure - I've never had one before. I guess I need to block it.

Thought I must try a selfie, since it was just named the most annoying word of the past year but I couldn't get it right; still, it looks passable in black and white.

I'm kind of in between books right now, but have been looking through these two:

The Christmas one is from another library, recommended by Anne. The other was a present, and is very interesting, with much about ancient times.  Glad I don't live in that era, though.

Thanks to Ginny, and yarnalong.