Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hummingbird Card Giveaway

I've been away from this blog for way too long! I started a new job last August which has kept me busier than ever, the cats have had some health problems, i've spent more time watching eaglets on a webcam than you can imagine, i went to Vermont and to Maine this summer for two separate one-week vacations....etc.!

I almost made my first return post on July 8, when my dear Fuzzy died, but instead of starting that way, i'd like to start with a giveaway to (i hope) welcome back my friendly readers...i made a card celebrating seeing a female rubythroat hummingbird in my backyard last week, and i'd like to give it to a randomly selected commenter on the blog. So please leave a comment by midnight Friday, September 16, and you might be the winner of the card.

I don't have hummingbird feeders up, so i was delighted to see the hummingbird in my backyard. My old privet hadge in the back of the house has been getting pretty thin and patchy looking, but some spots are being filled in by volunteer Rose of Sharon seedlings, and the hummingbird i think was attracted by one of the Rose of Sharon's blossoms....its first this year!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nekkid cat pics (Gingy got a haircut)

Poor Gingy's lovely long fur became very matted in late summer. I could brush her a little but not nearly enough. She had to make numerous trips to the vet because she had a urinary tract infection, which then also affected her kidneys. Her fur around her back end was really matted...not good. So i called around and found a place nearby to get her groomed. Suffice it to say that it cost more than i've paid in my life for a haircut!

Her cut is called a "lion cut"...they leave the fur on the face, a little bit of the ruff, anklets on the feet, and the tip of the tail...the rest is trimmed right down to the skin. Here she is, right after her haircut.
Poor naked kitty! The one upside...Gingy has been more willing to sleep near the boys
Now, four months later, her fur has grown out to about an inch long all over...and in the meantime, Gingy has taken over the prime "spot between the pillows" as her personal napping zone.
After a couple of months of medication, weekly subcutaneous fluids, and a change in diet, she has started to feel a whole lot better. I should probably take her in for another round of tests, just to make sure her kidneys are doing o.k.

But in the meantime, Fuzzy has been unwell...he's been very constipated. I'll spare you the details (which don't involve an enema, yet) but he's felt very miserable. However, his vet prescribed Lactulose, which is a stool softener, on the off chance that he might agree to take it (most internet citations say cats hate it). It's a sticky liquid and he's been taking it from a syringe with no fuss. It seems to be helping, although there's still a whole lot of "stuff" that needs to move out.

In the meantime, he inexplicably has lost several pounds, maybe because he was just picking at his food... All of his bloodwork is good, and now that he's feeling better, he's started eating and drinking and snuggling regularly again. I'm so relieved. Hate to see my big guy be so uncomfortable, missed his snuggles when he spent the night hunched uncomfortably in his nest box instead of in bed, and even worse, hate the reminder that he's at least 16 years old and is becoming an old cat.

I've started him on a very palatable canned food to get more liquid into his diet and every few hours he comes to get me to tell me he'd like another teaspoon or two of food. I am soooo happy to oblige!

Cold weather is for snuggling

Louie and Fuzzy on the couch the other evening.
Louie enjoying his "hairy blankie," and soliciting a tummy rub

This picture makes me laugh...Gingy helping me telecommute by standing on the computer desk directly in front of me. She's fine with me reaching around her on both sides to reach the keyboard. She still isn't comfortable sitting or lying on my lap, but maybe she will be's only taken her 5 years to get to this point!
This is how a professional snuggler helps me telecommute.

Stay warm and safe, everybody!

Snow in the forecast? Bring it on!

Or at least that's what Fuzzy and Louie seem to be saying! We've had a relatively mild winter in terms of snowfall compared to last year, although it's been quite cold, with several days last week when the temperature didn't get above freezing and got down to 11F at night. Today the forecast was for heavy snow in this area starting about the time of the evening rush hour, so my carpool buddy and i decided to work from home today.

The day began with drizzle, since it was above freezing, then changed to ice pellets, and sleet...and the moment the temperature dropped below freezing, it started snowing heavily. It's a very wet, heavy snow and sticking everywhere. It may be a real hassle trying to move it the meantime, i'm content to stay indoors with the kitties.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And then at last it was Christmas

Louie, Fuzzy, Sylvie, Gingy, and i wish everyone the best of the season...the crispness of winter air, the fluffiness of fresh snow, the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and spicy woodsmoke, peace, plenty, good health, and the comfort of friends and family.

Getting ready to make merry

Our Combined Federal Campaign at work scheduled an arts and crafts silent auction on December 15, so i made two little zippered quilted bags and two embellished grapevine wreaths. Here are the bodies of the bags...they're tiny crazy quilts that i made with fabrics from my stash and some of the cool fancy stitches on my sewing machine.
And here are the two finished little bags. There was a "bidding war" over one of them which was very gratifying! (and sort of amusing, because there was only one bid on the other bag, and they look so similar, you'd think the bids would have been spread between the two bags)

Here's one of the wreaths...purchased grapevine wreath, with paper punched snowflakes, satin ribbon, chipboard letters, and a few rhinestone brads. I loved how they came out...yet neither of them was bid on. Oh well, will just have to give them to friends!

Here's the second annual card i made for the Red Truck Bakery, our local purveryor of everything delicious, from hearty Harvest Bread to sinfully delicious Double Chocolate Moonshine cakes. They have such delicious baked goods (all baked from scratch on the premises) and they are really nice folks...a great addition to Main Street.
My quilt group's annual holiday party was this past Tuesday. I've been working very full days at work, plus taking work home on evenings and weekends, so have fallen even farther behind than usual in holiday preparations. So i took annual leave on Monday and Tuesday and quilted like crazy. I made a miniature table runner for my Secret Santa, which i was so pleased to actually finish, i forgot to take a picture of it!

Each year we have a challenge block for the party, with the design chosen by the previous year's winner. (Each person who wants to, makes a block and then at the party we put our names into a basket, with one chance to win for each block that we've made. The winner gets all of the blocks!) This year the theme was "Christmas tree ornament" and the club provided an 8" square of fabric to use as the background, so all of the blocks that everyone makes will have that in common. I knew i wanted to make a ball-shaped ornament, and of course it had to have a cat on it. I found the perfect pattern in Quilting Arts Gifts magazine for actual ornaments made out of fabric. They didn't show them made up with cat fabrics, but the "cathedral window" construction was perfect to make a kitty peek out of. I made two and appliqued each one to a background block. I was so thrilled with how they came out, i made two just to be actual ornaments.

Chanukah was early this year!

Chanukah began during the first week of December this year...Thanksgiving was barely over and suddenly it was upon us! Our congregation's party was held on Sunday, December 5. Sometimes our services are poorly attended...but this year, more than 70 people came to the party, including several new families with young children. It was thrilling having such a big group of people together. Each family brought its own menorah and we lit them all together, so the room was ablaze with light and full of the sound of music and laughter.

I missed getting a picture of Louie sitting on the living room floor, looking up in apparent wonder at the menorah's flickering candles, but here he's sitting on the couch and you can sort of see the candlelight flickering in his eyes.
And here's an unfortunately dark photo of this year's Chanukah card, which i barely got made on time, and many of which i didn't mail on time (but at least i mailed a few them this year...last year i made a whole batch and never got a chance to address and mail them!)

"Chairs: A Conversation"... Quilts and Paintings in October

I heard about this fascinating quilt show from my friend Sue, who has a family tie to the family that owns the  RH Ballard Gallery in Washington, VA...paintings of chairs by Robert Ballard, which inspired his quiltmaker daughter Alethea Ballard to begin her own series of quilts of chairs. Her approach to quilting is unconventional, painterly, exuberant, and fun. C&T Publishing have actually just come out with a book of her chair quilt patterns (i'm waiting for my copy to arrive). Here's the postcard that the gallery sent out to invite people to the show, plus a special handmade, chair-shaped sugar cookie that was one of the goodies served at the show's opening.
I wasn't able to attend the opening but went the next day and spent a couple of delightful hours talking to Alethea, getting a great running narration about each of her quilts. I'm looking forward to getting my book next week!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Catching up -- Sully Quilt Show (September 2010)

On September 12, i went to the annual Sully Quilt Show, on the grounds of historic Sully Plantation, which is now a county park. We'd had much needed rain the night before and early in the morning, so some of the vendors had to set up in the drizzle. Also, the usual exhibit of antique quilts for sale, hanging up on clotheslines, was missing, probably because the vendors didn't want to risk their quilts getting dripped on by the trees or actually rained on.

I knew in advance that i wasn't going to buy much in the way of stash is already overflowing my sewing room, spilling out of baskets in the living room, and piling up by the washing machine, and i already bought more fabric than i intended to this summer at the Vermont Quilt Festival. However, some interesting fabrics still followed me home and i found some interesting patterns and fell for a couple of new books. And i bought a gorgeous basket from Ghana from a Ghanaian gentleman who's sold baskets at my town's Farmer's Market before.

Here are some of my goodies proudly displayed on my garden bench
I couldn't resist a fun new book "It's Quilting Cats and Dogs" by Lynette Anderson, with lots of fun projects incorporating a lot of embroidery plus piecing and applique.

I got two patterns (and the accompanying fabric packs) for Helene Knotts' continuing hilarious series of "Garden Patch Cats." These two are "Mushkit" (kitty as a big mushroom) and "Catus Romanus" (kitty as a Roman emperor...and head of Romaine lettuce!).

I got an interesting self-published pattern from a local quilter, Barbara Wise, under her "Aunt Lilly's Attic"'s a pattern for making a market bag from a calendar tea towel. More clever quilters than me could probably figure out how to do it themselves, but i really like the security of having someone else's pattern at least as a jumping off place. Her booth had all sorts of things, especially bags and purses, made from repurposed linens of all kinds and i really thought the reuse of old calendar towels was especially cool. Inside the pattern envelope are some cool old shell buttons that i also bought from her.

The other book i bought is "500 Art Quilts" edited by Ray Hemachandra and Karey Bresenham. It's great "eye candy" of 500 contemporary art quilts from 1989 to 2008. Not much technical information on any of the quilts, but great selections and good photography. I'm enjoying leafing through it at leisure. It's pretty amusing that about half the reviews on are from quilters proudly proclaiming that they have a quilt in the book. They're all worth seeing!

The last item on the bench is a "potato chip bag" that i made from Paula Hughes' pattern of that name. These are really fun little bags to make...i first got the pattern and a striking batik fabric kit from the nice people at Traditions at the White Swan at the Sully show last year. I made one for the mystery gift exchange at quilt retreat this Spring and people practically fought over it...the woman who managed to hold onto it is my quilt guild's program chair and (easily) talked me into teaching the group how to make them. This one is the one I made as a class sample.

And this one I made as a teaching sample as well, and then completed it as a gift for my sister's birthday in October. I added the three decorative buttons in honor of the new mama kitty and her two little orange kittens who my sister rescued from a life of dumpster-diving.


I'm so grateful for my family and friends, near and far, including those of you who i've met only through this blog or your own blogs...and those of you who i've had the pleasure of meeting in person. As winter approaches, i'm increasingly grateful for a roof over my head, a well-paying job with health care benefits, and the unwavering comfort of my cats.

I went to visit my father at Thanksgiving...the place where he lives does a very nice buffet, combining tradtional Thanksgiving dishes with regular breakfast buffet items. The dining room was full of people from the oldest residents (there's one gentleman who's 101, still plays tennis, sings in the choir, and plays flute) to the youngest visitors (there were quite a few babies, toddlers, and even some teens). My father was telling the people who we were seated with that the day was something of an anniversary for him--it was at Thanksgiving dinner two years ago at my uncle's retirement community in southern New Jersey that my father realized he might actually consider moving to such a place. And not long after that that i told him if he was planning on moving, he might as well move closer to my sister or me...and that i happened to know that there were two similar retirement communities right here in northern Virginia. I'm so grateful he made that decision! It's nice knowing that he's safe, comfortable, happy...and nearby.

The weather on Thanksgiving Day was typical of late November...chilly, gusty winds, with dark grey rippled skies. Most but not all of the leaves are off the trees now. I saw lots of turkey vultures and black vultures soaring and kettling in the wind...think they were making up for lost time because it had been rainy and bleak the day before. And there in between two big turkey vultures was an adult bald eagle! I thought i could tell the two kinds of big birds apart, and then the three birds drifted over the intersection where i was stopped at a red light, and sure enough, there were the unmistakeable white head and tail of an adult bald eagle. Thrilling!

I've got oodles of pictures in the cameras and few stories to tell...will try to catch up on the blogging before work and holiday preparations close in on me again.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A different kind of rescue

I was at a gas station on a major road near my home on a late summer weekend and saw a mother and daughter intently looking at the trash bin next to gas pump. The daughter was reaching out tentatively and the mother was anxiously saying "now don't squish it" but the daughter didn't quite want to make was a praying mantis! I held out my hand, it promptly walked up onto my hand (the daughter drew back even further), and i said "i'll be glad to take it home to a life in the country." I put the mantis up on the headrest of the seat behind me, drove home, opened the car door and looked in the back seat. Where did he/she go? Oh, still on the headrest!

This isn't a particularly good picture (taken with the camera on my cell phone), but the best i could do at the time. I held my hand out, mantis walked onto my hand, and i promptly deposited him/her in the bushes by the driveway, where there should be plenty to eat (and a lot nicer environment than a gas station!).

What a difference 6 weeks--and a lot of loving--makes!

This is my friend Sue's kitten Waldo on August 21, just a few days after being rescued...she came upon him being rescued from under a parked car in a grocery store parking lot. He was filthy, frightened, skinny, and had a bubbly nose and dripping eyes. The sheriff's deputy who managed to get the kitten out from under the car also became filthy and dripping with sweat. He brought the kitten to Sue's vet, to make sure he was handing the kitten over to a good person. The vet gave the kitten a checkup and much needed bath, and determined he was about 4 months old. In this picture, he's still looking quite dingy and pretty miserable (the first few days he kept hiding, hence his eventual name!).

And here Waldo is yesterday, having supper with his "big sister" Zella...she's a year old and you can see that Waldo has become about 3/4 her size, fluffy, clean, and definitely not hiding! He still has a goopy thinks his tear duct might be blocked, and will explore when Waldo goes in for neutering soon...but he's sure one happy healthy growing boy.

One last was supposed to be Zella and Waldo wrestling but she dashed off just as the flashy box went off. Look at those muscles and that incipient floof!