Monday, March 20, 2023

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and (Wo)Men

I am out of practice with all things social.

Hermitage does that.

Yet, in anticipation of welcoming a new little crow to the nest, I came out of hiding and attempted to plan a baby shower (emphasis on attempted).  (And you were wondering where I was?)

I surrendered early on and enlisted the magic of my friend Mel (from Back Forty) who brought the whole thing to life.

{Setup photo - the "clouds" had fairy lights in them that were lit on the day of the shower.}

{Centerpieces by Mom-to-be....}

Invites - check; decorations - check; centerpieces - check; food/cake - check. 
But, so much for plans.

Enter the Mouse:
{Mia on her way from delivery to NICU}

...The newest member of the Crow family - our little changeling, Mia.

She arrived - all 3lbs. 12oz. of her  - 8 weeks early...and one week and one day before her momma's baby shower.

She is still in the NICU and will be for some time, but is making great progress.
While she is still on a feeding tube, she can now maintain her own body heat and breathe on her own without a ventilator or oxygen.  She has also started to gain weight and, as of today, weighs 3 lbs. 14.9oz.

She has a long journey ahead, but I am sure that corner of my heart she stole when I first laid eyes on her will only grow in the days and years to come.

Sometimes, it's the littlest things that take up the biggest corners of your heart.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Lull Between Storms...

 The sun is dancing off the icicles making a fairy-tale light, but the light and the allure are deceiving.  

We are just digging out from a major storm that dropped ~15" of snow Wednesday afternoon and Thursday (ALL day Thursday)...and another 3-4" on Friday.

The ubiquitous turkeys who aren't graceful enough to fly to a tree for left-over fruit and seeds are left scavenging the gravel in the drive. (And they seem none to happy about it.  Then again, turkeys never seem to be happy.)

And there is another storm moving in tonight - this one promising to bring more snow...and ice. 

Yup, that's exactly what I'm thinking.

Storms, like pregnancy, bring out a nesting instinct in me...which, inevitably, leads to comfort food.

The consumate comfort food - mac n' cheese...on the decadent side.
 Then I made some bordelaise sauce and the smell of it simmering all day was like a blanket wrapped around me.

The wait was so worth it.
{Pommes Alligot, Asparagus, and Strip Steaks with Sauce Bordelaise}

And I baked some bread...

...and cheesecake.
{It may look a bit "naked"...I did add homemade caramel topping and fresh whipped cream eventually...but couldn't resist a taste test. Trust me, no one would have missed the caramel and whipped cream.}

If the storms keep coming, I will need a new wardrobe.

Nesting, at least for me, also involves some sort of handwork. Since my hooking mojo is still on its walkabout, I took solace in my needle and thread.

I think I am pleased with both the linen and floss choices on this piece.
Perhaps the fog is beginning to lift?

And since no proper hibernation is complete without a book, of course, I've been reading.

This author is new to me, but she captivated me with this tale with her beautiful and melodic prose.
The tale begins with a little girl who is brought into an ancient inn on the river Thames on a dark midsummer's night, most surely dead.
But, by magic or miracle, she lives.
Three families stand at the ready to claim her as their own but, she being mute and amnesic, cannot explain what happened or to whom she belongs.
The book is a mix of fiction and fairy-tale - of just the right kind in "my book."
I enjoyed it more than I initially thought I would, and its messages, like many rivers, run deeper than one first believes.

Lulls are a good thing....

Saturday, February 18, 2023

I'm Here...

...and so is the funk.

Hence, there is little noteworthy to share with you and, further hence, why long time, no post.

Thinking a change of scenery might be the antidote, I took a road trip with the Cat down the road (i.e., Cathy Stephan from Red Barn Rugs).  
I spent 2-1/2 days hooking with 4 incredibly talented artists thinking, surely, I would find at least a morsel of mojo but, no...I just ended up feeling like the red-headed stepsister.

I think, therefore, that the hooking project I started at the workshop in January is going to be banished to the Isle of the Unfinished (which is growing as quickly as the Isle of Misfits and Castaways) and I will pick up my needle for a bit - although my stitching mojo hasn't fared much better than my hooking mojo of late.

I did finish the hooking on my Simple Santa.

The above photo is reading washed-out on my screen, but the colors are, in person, more vibrant. 

Now I have a whole year to get it bound.  😬

In other news, this little guy has given me several scares. 
He had 2 emergency surgical procedures within 8 days of each other.

It was the same issue he had surgery for almost 2 years ago:
He gets a blockage in his colon and starts shutting down.
He had been on medications previously and put on a prescription diet -
but, apparently, neither worked.
Given that it had reoccurred so quickly this last time, they are concerned that his colon is not working properly.  Unfortunately, the only permanent "fix" is a specialized surgery in which they remove the non-functioning portion of his colon.
It is not a common procedure and would require many pre-surgery tests.
For now, he is on yet another medication (fun times for a cat with claws).

While my mojo is out on its walkabout, I continue to read - books were my first love and they never abandon me.
I have fallen woefully behind on my posting of recent reads, but will attempt to get back to it soon.  But, in the meantime, I treated myself to this:

{"Records of the Salem Witch Hunt," Bernard Rosenthal editor}

It is a comprehensive record of all the legal documents pertaining to the Salem witch trials, in chronological order.  I had been holding out in the hopes of some day getting the hardcover version, but it is no longer available except on the secondary market at crazy prices.
(The paperback version is just shy of 1000 pages, so the hardcover version is in two volumes.)
Since it will be used primarily as a reference book, I suppose it doesn't matter - and I will feel less guilty should I be unable to resist making notes.

Of all the documents within the covers of this book, I was humbled to see that the editor chose a portion of my grandmother's petition as the preface page.

Hope all is well in your worlds.
Thoughts and prayers to the residents of Palestine.
I can't even imagine.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Flights of Angels and Turkeys...

I'm in another one of those funks.
This funk, though, is different than my other funks.
Who'd'a thunk there could be so many kinds of funks?

My "typical" funk is that I don't feel compelled in the least to pick up a needle, a hook, or anything of that ilk.
This funk, however, is, as I said, unique: I want to create and I actually pick up my needle and hook and such, and I start...but then careen quickly off the rails.

Nothing...and I mean absolutely nothing, pleases me.
The linen choice is wrong, the floss colors are wrong for the linen (and, often, both the linen and the floss are wrong), the color plan doesn't work as I thought for the hooking, the finishing technique isn't suiting me...
You name it, I will count the way it displeases me.

So, I have accomplished nothing - other than add to the land mass of the ever-expanding Isle of Misfits and Castaways.
Start over you say?
Oh, but I have...over and over and over.
Colors changed, fabrics changed, techniques changed, projects changed...until I reach "that point" - the one I call the Marly Point of Inflection:
I have gone too far to rip everything out and start over - or I have started over too many times to start over again - and I start to seriously consider a bonfire in the backyard.

I really can't remember anything I've completed in the past 6 months or more so I have little to share with you in that regard.
But...I did force myself to finish this piece even though, again, I am not pleased. 
I will not tell you how many different floss choices were started and frogged, replaced (often with ones I had already tried and ripped out), and I am still not happy but I did not want to risk weakening the linen further.

It is called "Flight of Angels" by MommaLovesYouGB, a designer from the UK.
Her original design had crowns where the angels are on mine to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's passing, but I loved the verse and stitched the modified version as a remembrance of my mom.

{Stitched on 40 count "Natural Brown" linen by Wichelt, 1 over 2, except dates, which are 1 over 1.}

The back is based on a portion of a design called "Handprint On My Heart" by Heartstring Samplery.

It's done and that's all I'm going to say.

In other "flight" news, I have been invaded by turkeys.
Flocks and herds of turkeys.
Snowdog used to keep them at bay, but now they have free and unfettered range.

This is just a small fraction of them.  
They have taken up residence in copse of pines that borders our property line, venturing out many times during the day to overwhelm the front and side yards.

It is disconcerting as I can hear them walking on the hardened snow even when I can't see and an invisible army marching endlessly to battle.

It is even more disconcerting when I absent-mindedly walk outside realizing too late they have paused their eternal march and taken up foraging operations and they then take flight...the whole company of them.

The airborne division they are not - I am certain there are not many other birds more ungainly or noisy in flight than the turkey 

And someone really should tell them they need to work on their camouflage routines.

* * * * * * * * * * *
I hope those in the grips of winter storms and bitter temps stay safe and out of harm's way.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Oh, The Things That Can Be Hooked!

 Oh, the things that can be 3 Marilyn's, 2 Mary's, a Kim, a Pat, a Cat and a Crow....

Well, by the Crow, not so much.
I was there for the food and entertainment.

Where's "there?"
"There" is "the farm"...
a/k/a "Red Barn Rugs"...
...You know, that place just down the lane here in Nod.

More specifically, a three-day hooking workshop hosted (hostessed?) by
Cathy (proprietress and mistress of the red barn at the farm) and
attended by some very talented hookers.

I have no clue how I ended up in this group.
Talk about over-achievers.


Let's start with the three Marilyns...

{A hooked rendition by ("Good"*) Marilyn of her grandson, Meisha.  Hooked in threads.  Ok, not really...but a 3-cut is pretty much the same IMO.}

{("Good") Marilyn's reindeer}

{("Bad"*) Marilyn's contemporary abstract...also hooked in threads.}

{("Bad") Marilyn's punch needle and hooked combination.}

{("Other"*) Marilyn's turkeys...her original design, of course.}

{Black Squirrels...another of "Other" Marilyn's originals.}

And moving on to the Mary's (ok...a Mary and a Mary Jo...but still.)

{Mary's "Pumpkin Runner" (with (awesome) creative liberties taken).}

{Mary Jo's "Turkey Tyme" (a Red Barn Rugs pattern).}

"The Kim:"

{Kim's "The Gleaners"...another Red Barn Rugs pattern.}

And "The Pat:"

{Pat's "Flower Power" red truck.}

And the Cat and the Crow?
Well, that amazing "Barn Owl" in the first photo is Cat's and her original Red Barn Rug design.

The Crow?
The Crow got nothing accomplished.

Like I said, I was there for the food and the entertainment....
Whether to partake of the entertainment or provide it is something I am still trying to figure out.  🤔

(*The "good," "bad," and "other" descriptors for the 3 Marilyn's was NOT my doing...they were designated as such long before I came into their lair.  But, they fit...oh, they fit.)

Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Blackbird's Visit

Winter has reclaimed Nod as its own...ensconcing it in ice and snow...and endless whiteness. 
I think Nod has always belonged to Winter.

Winter is a taker.
It steals the light from our days, the warmth from our nights, the color from our world.

And this year it also took my beloved mum.

It's been a year of loss for me and Winter has nothing to offer in exchange.

The week before Christmas was spent planning a funeral and the one after, licking already-raw wounds.
No one knew me like my one ever believed in me like she did...and no one ever loved me like she did.

Of all my siblings, I caused her the most grief and worry.  And while I was perhaps more "independent" than my other siblings, I think, in many ways, I needed her more than the others did.

{Letters I wrote to my mom from Spain that I never knew she saved....}

It should not have surprised me, therefore, when the blackbird came.

I do not believe in coincidences and I do believe our souls live on, yet I was not expecting a message nor a messenger - particularly such an unusual one.

Yet here she was...perched precariously on a mound of snow directly outside my back patio doors while my kitties watched.  In fact, it was the cats' prolonged attention that drew my attention and as I approached the door to look more closely, the blackbird cocked her little head to the side and looked directly at me.

Had it been the proverbial red cardinal that is commonly regarded as heavenly messengers of departed loved ones, I may have made a more immediate connection. Then, again, perhaps not as cardinals are regular visitors here.
But the mysterious blackbird and her unassuming stillness caught me unawares. 

Although blackbirds have not been viewed particularly favorably by Christianity and Judaism, in other cultures (e.g., Egyptian and Japanese), the blackbird is seen as a symbol of the cycle of life and represents rebirth and regeneration.
(On rare occasion, my background in Egyptology has served me well.)

In the spirtual realm, blackbirds are viewed as symbols of transition and transformation, balancing darkness and light.  One can call upon the blackbird when they need spiritual guidance and the blackbird can remind us to use our senses and inner wisdom to understand and adapt to the different aspects of life.  They may appear to prepare us for changes so that we may adapt to those changes and allow us to find happiness in them.  And the blackbird can warn us of the dangers of our past entrapping us.

The blackbird stayed on her mound of snow for a considerable amount of time and only the cats know how long she had been there before I noticed her.
She was not ruffled by kitties, and patiently waited as the unusualness of event slowly sunk in and while I got my glasses and phone and took her photo.
And still she stayed.
Fearing she may be injured, I finally opened the double doors to go out.
Only then did she lift her wings and flit away into the whiteness.

Of course my mother would not choose an ostentatious or common cardinal.

She knew me well.

I love you the most....the end.