Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sky Blue Pink

An absolutely glorious sunrise was happening on my drive in to work this morning. There were all sorts of bands of blue and pink and sky blue pink and almost-orange. I finally took a picture with the camera in my cellphone when traffic slowed a bit (i was driving...). The camera quality isn't very good and the colors seem much less bright and saturated than the real thing, but the picture gives a hint of the wonderful panorama of color stretching from horizon to horizon and on up ahead.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kitty Amusements

This is my next door neighbor's young cat "Oreo" pretending to be invisible while watching the birdfeeder.
A Gingy-in-the-box.
A Gingy-in-the-basket.
This is Louie last night. He was being a real wild man, attacking the handle on the basket, clawing at the basket, and then galumphing off like a THoE (thundering herd of elephants) to attack the scratching post in the bedroom. You can see his wonderful variety of pink, black, and bi-colored paw pads (in addition to the tempting tummy).

Stay Tuned to this Spot for a Miracle Named Spring

Three wonderful signs of Spring this weekend, despite the below freezing Viburnum carlesii 'Mohawk' is preparing to bloom. (I didn't realize until i went to upload it that the picture is blurry...a breeze moved the blossoms as i tried to photograph them.) They've gone from little nubs, to what you see here showing a little bit of color, and within a month they will open into extravagant panicles of spicy fragrant blooms.

And i found a chickadee nest! I was just looking out the back door and noticed a lot of activity in one of the maple trees....a male Downy woodpecker scooting around the branches stopping here and there to peck, and then a pair of chickadees flying back and forth to the same spot on the tree. I looked closely and realized it's a place where a branch broke off years ago (this tree is fairly brittle) and it must have left a little cavity. Reading on the internet, it seems what the birds were doing was enlarging the cavity and carrying the wood chips away from the nest hole. Chickadees are amongst my favorite little birds and i'm so thrilled that they've found a perfect natural nesting place. Take a look at the tree...the nest opening is right below the big V of branches at the center of the picture.
My hardy pansies, last seen blooming in the snow, are now blooming their heads off. I had better water them, can see how terribly dry the soil is.
C'mon, Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Last Trip to Childhood

As i mentioned earlier, my father is moving to Virginia. In fact, he's moving the second week in May. Part of getting ready for the move from a family house to a 2-bedroom apartment is having to get rid of a lot of stuff. My parents always teased that they were going to rent my room out to boarders but in fact it stayed pretty much the same as when i was living at home, so each time i came back to visit, it was like stepping back into my childhood. Now that room has to dissolve so that my father can move.

I first started getting rid of stuff at my house to make room for stuff i knew that i would be bringing back. With a great deal of angst, i threw away 4 wonderful 1/8 scale car models i had assembled as a teenager, including a 1965 Corvette and a 1965 Jaguar XKE. They had functioning steering, windows that rolled up and down, hoods that opened to reveal gleaming engines with tiny plastic tubing as spark plug wires, and so on. The years haven't been kind to the cars as they got shuttled from here to there, especially after i brought them to Virginia and dust settled on them and cats occasionally walked across them. But it still felt like i was throwing part of my childhood away.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Even though my room was quite neat, it still was full of papers (think high school term papers, old scrapbooks with yellowing newspaper articles about archaeology and the space program), books, several boxes of letters, and a few toys. I thought i could cull through the letters, keeping some and tossing others. The best i was able to do was toss old birthday cards and Christmas cards (after convincing myself that no, i probably really would never get around to repurposing them in a collage, even though that seemed like a great idea). Oh, and i was able to toss some letters from friends from 2nd grade who i got in touch with again in junior high and then fell out of touch with.
But letters from my mother, my sister, my French pen pal, my Polish pen pal...each of these had so many gems in them that i couldn't throw them away, and i finally realized that i would just keep them all and re-read them at my leisure at some distant future date.
I did get rid of a few toys. Here's an autograph dog that i think i got for my 12th birthday. Pretty much all of the signatures are faded, so out he went, after posing for one last picture.
I did keep my 3 autograph books from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Fun to read friends and teachers telling me they expected great things from me in the future...i'm not sure if i've quite lived up to their or my expectations. I might be able to read these one more time and toss 'em.
Here's a good pal from childhood that i was going to keep for purely sentimental reasons (and maybe it would be worth something on eBay someday) first camera! -- a Kodak Brownie camera that my parents gave me for my 8th birthday and which i used consistently until my father bought me a great Minolta SLR as a college graduation present 14 years later. Unfortunately, something in it self-destructed and the camera is all corroded and the leather case crumbled to smithereens. I thought some of you young-uns out there might be interested to see what a camera, a flash gun, flashbulbs, and a box of film looked like back in the paleolithic!

Some things that i did bring back include my original teddy bear, Butterscotch. You might remember that i posted about my second teddy bear, Freeto Cheeps, who sort of was supposed to take Butterscotch's place. I guess Butterscotch fairly early on lost an eye and later got his nose squashed (by me...having a tantrum...) but i still love him and had to bring him back with me.

I also brought back my father's favorite toy from his childhood, a pull-toy horse. This little guy has mohair "fur" and is in surprisingly good condition considering he's probably 75 years old. He used to have a leather bridle, reins, and saddle but those dry rotted years ago. (Back then, i offered to make new ones, but my father wouldn't hear of it. Now at least he's grudgingly let me hold onto the horse.)

I also had to keep my favorite toy from childhood. (The white fur kitty named Katrinka is long gone. So i guess this was my second favorite toy.) A cargo ship, complete with opening hatches and operating crane!

What the Letter Carrier Brought

I am so thrilled...i discovered Sandy Mastroni's blog and Etsy shop after another artist mentioned a giveaway Sandy was doing in honor of her 200th Etsy sale. I didn't win the drawing, but i fell in love with one of Sandy's hand painted pillows, and shortly after i selected it from her Etsy site and made payment, the letter carrier brought it to my door. Isn't that the sweetest kitty angel, hovering over a snoozing Fuzzy?

I really wanted one of her great painted pillows of tuxedo kitties, and i returned from my trip last night to find it waiting for me:If you biggify the picture you can see the kitty's sweet features as he watches over Louie.

Bunch o' Kitty Pics

These are from last Friday (telecommuting with cats as usual!) and Saturday. I was getting ready to go on a trip, so tried to give the kitties as much snuggling time as possible while still getting ready.

Here's Sylvie in the hammock nest in the study. It's exclusively hers now and she's loving it!

Then there's the requisite shot of Louie and Fuzzy snuggling together:

Because Gingy was sound asleep in her bed in the basement, Sylvie got some rare computer-lap time, which she took full advantage of. Here she's getting scritches:

Oh, and here's "the tail"...bearing an unfortunate resemblance to an opossum's tail since the fur is still growing back, but it's definitely all healed up now.

Saturday night i heard some weird scratching noises in the living room and went to investigate--Sylvie had leaped into a box and was making herself comfortable (and invisible).
All was quiet on the Gingy front on Saturday night because she discovered a new favorite nest. This probably started off life as a big dog kennel. My vet at the time loaned it to me when i first "caught" Louie for him to stay in over a weekend until i could bring him in for tests and neutering. I "caught" his brother a week later and this was his temporary quarters overnight. I asked the vet if she wanted the kennel back, and she said no hurry...and about 5 years later she just left town unannounced, so now i've got the kennel and it's in the basement as a sort of run-in shed for whichever kitty wants to use it. Both Fuzzy and Gingy like it because they can feel comfortable and secure while keeping on eye on me while i do stamping stuff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Pause on the Way to Spring

There was a forecast of a possibility of snow flurries for the morning of Friday the 13th, and sure enough, we had snow with a bit of accumulation, enough to coat everything with some decorative white icing. It was a funny snow, because unlike the silent heavy snows of winter where all you hear sometimes is the faint hiss of the snow failing and the distant sounds of shoveling or tires whirring in the snow, this was a noisy snow...the birds didn't seem to miss a beat in their spring singing. The cardinals and tufted titmice were especially loud but i also heard robins, grackles, wrens, bluebirds, and white throated sparrows when i went out to brush the snow off my vehicle.
Here's the first of my early daffodils: And some beautiful crocuses in the lawn (i think the squirrels brought these):

My poor hardy pansies survived the winter, just started to bloom, and now their pretty flower faces are covered with snow:

Here's the forsythia, also just starting to bloom:

By the time our lunch n' learn group got together at 11:30, all the snow was gone. The lunch n' learn gang met at Ruby Tuesday's this time. It worked out that all 12 of us could sit at a couple of tables pushed together, but it was really hard to hear from one end of the table to the other. Rabbi Rose asked us each to bring in a few photos that were at least 10 years old of ourselves. We passed them around, and it was a great conversation starter!

Not all the women knew each other before this, so sharing the pictures really enabled us to learn more about each other in a hurry. One of our members won a prize in a biblical literary magazine and we were going to discuss her story, a unique way of looking at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from the point of view of Lot's wife. However, the acoustics in the restaurant were really challenging and we weren't able to hear each other well. In fact, after i left to go back to work, it was generally agreed that we would have to do the "learn" component in some other setting, and just keep this as a social group that gets together for lunch. (This was only our third meeting so the group is still in its infancy.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Signs of Spring in Washington DC

1. The flowering plum trees in the landscaped traffic island over by the Mandarin Oriental hotel are all showing wonderful pink color in their buds.
2. The magnolia soulangeana in the Smithsonian's Enid Haupt garden are foolishly opening their blossoms.
3. The forsythia planted against the sound barrier along Interstate 66 are starting to bloom.
4. The big clumps of early daffodils planted in the same place are blooming.
5. The buds on the maple trees are turning red and swelling, so that the stark winter tree silhouettes are softening.
6. People are starting to talk about the Cherry Blossom festival and the city is full of tourist buses and tourists.
6. A chance of snow is forecast for tonight....

Card Challenge--"Getting Sentimental"

Flourishes makes extraordinary clear acrylic stamps. Their artwork is of the highest quality, and goes beautifully with all the Stampin' Up! products that i've got like paper, ink, and ribbon. They periodically have challenges and i mostly am uninspired or too much of a beginning stamper to be able to settle on a design in response.

This time, though, the challenge was "Simply make a card with a sentiment, word or quote as the focal point for your card!" Flourishes has a lovely quote from Monet that i immediately decided had to be the center, and it called out for a spring green (SU's kiwi kiss), which i found on a Stampin' Up! designer series paper from the Bella Rose collection, and then perfect flourishes to complement it in Flourishes autumn set that i stamped in chocolate chip ink, adhered to kiwi kiss cardstock. The ribbon is SU!'s luscious kiwi kiss double-sided ribbon. The sentiment is stamped in kiwi kiss ink on whisper white, sponged with kiwi kiss around the edges. The little blingy flower embellishments are Queen & Company's "sassy sequins" from, my favorite source of all sorts of embellishments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cat Sleeping Styles

Last week, Goldie and Banshee over at Sumac Stories wrote
about their preferences for sprawled versus curled or cluttered sleeping. This evening i was experimenting with the card reader on the front of my computer...finally got it to work!...and found some great pictures from fall/winter 2006-2007 of my cats' assorted sleeping styles.

Here Gingy is curled very small onto one of the cardboard trays, while Louie is sprawled on a flattened one:

And shortly thereafter, Louie reallly sprawled:

However, Louie can do the curl, too. Here he and Sylvie both demonstrate the pillbug sleeping position (note the carefully sculpted edges on the boxes):

Not to leave Fuzzy out, here he and Louie do a modified curled snuggle (on my pillow, of course):

Time to go off and snuggle a kitty or two!


As usual the alarm clock woke me up for work at 5 o'clock this morning. I opened my eyes...and there was the big round full moon, shining brightly right in my window. Fuzzy was on the pillow next to me, purring mightily, and Louie woke up from sleeping against my lower leg. Both cats looked so wise and ancient in the moonlight. The moon was getting ready to set... and since it was nearing the horizon, it seemed especially large and yellowish, and the light bathed my front yard and the hills across the street.

There's a streetlight across the street that i find annoying (although in recent years they've changed the kind of bulb and fitted it with a different shade, so the light isn't as glaring) , but who could be annoyed at cool moonlight pouring in? Certainly not me!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What a Difference a Few Days Make

Monday this week i didn't go to work. When i got up before 5 a.m., it was snowing very heavily. We hadn't had anywhere near the 4 to 10 inches they had predicted, but it seemed possible that it could easily end up being that much snow, or more. (I can hear the kitties in Maine and Canada and Connecticut snickering about this insignificant amount of snow.) I really could have made it to the bus...but i didn't relish getting stuck in the city if the bus couldn't make it back to pick me i called in for a day of unscheduled leave.

Instead of going back to bed, i stayed up and had a really really productive day. I did some seriously overdue straightening in my sewing room. One of the things i found was the stash of patterns i acquired on my trip to Alaska in 2002. I hadn't really wanted to buy fabric since it takes up so much room, and besides, most places had the same fabric i could get back home. However, i was able to get some great patterns by local designers or with Alaska themes. One shop in Skagway even had very clever little kits that included everything a quilter on a cruise ship might need to make a little quilted something, if she were silly enough to be traveling without her own handwork. (Front row, right hand side, next to the little felt pieces with Native American beading designs on them).

And then i made our March exchange block. Here's Sylvie helpfully pointing out the center of the block:.

Late in the afternoon, the snow stopped and i went out to shovel, even though the wind was whipping and it was barely 20 degrees out there, not counting the wind chill factor. I guess we had about 4 inches total. On the far side of the patio i saw something purple in the snow...a little clump of crocuses bravely poking up through the snow! The wind had blown a lot of the snow away from them, plus it looks like they were generating enough heat (like skunk cabbages do) to melt the snow around themselves a little.

Tuesday it was back to work. It was still just barely in the 20s. It got progressively warmer all week, yesterday it stayed above freezing, and today it got up to 65 and look what the same clump of crocuses was doing! And tonight when i went in to town, i heard choruses of spring peepers! What a difference a few days make!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

5th Photo Meme

Cute little Angel, from, tagged me with the fifth photo meme. Here are the rules:
  1. Open a document or file folder.

  2. Click on the fifth folder.

  3. Click on the fifth photo.

  4. Post the photo and describe it.

  5. Tag five other bloggers for the Meme.
I'm going to bypass rule five because i don't want to wear out my welcome with my blogging friends...let me just say that if you would like to partipate in the 5th photo meme and haven't done so yet, please consider yourself tagged!

I had to fudge a little bit...the fifth folder i opened only had one picture in it! So this is from the fifth folder that had enough pictures in it. It's a quilt that was displayed at the Quilters Unlimited show about 3 years ago, and i'm so pleased that this particular quilt is by a friend of mine who also belongs to my local quilt group so we get to see her creative work and smiling face all the time.

An Award

First off, i'd like to thank seriously amused for the lovely Kreativ award. She's the mom of Cinza and Ms. P who have their own blog and takes very interesting photographs that she pairs with thought-provoking captions and quotations.

Here's the award. Isn't it beautiful?!

So here are the rules. List six things that make you happy. Pass the award on to six bloggers for Kreativ. Link to the blogger who gave you this award. Link to the blogs receiving the award. Notify the recipients.
1. Happy kitties--warm, well fed, snuggling kitties make me very happy.

2. Kitties who love each other--almost every day i am just overwhelmed with feelings of happiness when i see how much Louie and Fuzzy love each other. They are unrelated male cats who are about 4 years apart in age and came into the household several years apart, but they treat each other like siblings. They can often be found snuggled up together on the bed or couch and Fuzzy helps Louie wash a very important area that he can't reach well. They are the two cats most likely to play together, and watching "middle aged" 16-pound cats wrestling and chasing each other is enough to cheer the most dour soul!

3. Listening to music--almost any kind of music makes me happy, but especially music made by small numbers of people who clearly enjoy playing together and sparking each other to greatness. That holds as true for Bach as for bluegrass!

4. Working with my hands--quilting, cross stitch, baking bread, gardening...all make me happy as i can put things together and make something pretty or edible (or pretty and edible *g*). I get the joy of making something...and then the joy of giving it to someone or feeding it to someone. And i really do like being outdoors, in the sun, smelling the good earth, and listening to the birds sing.

5. Helping other people--it makes me so happy to be able to find the answers to any kind of question, to point people to the right resource, to put people together who can help each other accomplish the same goal, to provide resources people need to live better.

6. Reading--apparently i had some trouble learning to read. I don't remember that! I've become a lifelong learner, and my most successful way of learning something is to read the instructions (i also edit instructions to make them easier for other non-technical types to understand!). And reading for sheer pleasure is one of my greatest joys, sinking into another place and time.

I'd like to present this award to lots and lots of people, but narrowed it down to the following who i hope haven't been swamped with awards already (interestingly, and not surprisingly, they almost all love cats, gardens, and make some kind of art):

1. Katie Jane at who is working on a very interesting art journal despite a demanding full time job (and is a cat lover).

2. Liz at who does some of the cutest illustrations you've ever seen, including a great illustrated version of the Owl and the Pussycat (and is a cat lover).

3. Glenna at who does beautiful counted cross-stitch and is the mom of 6 cats and 3 house rabbits.

4. Karen at who is a lovely spiritual person who is an art quilter (and cat lover)

5. Nan at who is a very talented artist making wonderful watercolors, including cats.

6. Milo and Alfie's mom at for doing such a great job of telling the story in pictures and words of her two charming cat boys.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not Exactly Signs of Spring

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, i saw "my" woodchuck running across the backyard, the first i've seen him (or her) since the fall. He still looks fairly plump, which is good, it means he made it through the winter in good condition.

I heard all sorts of birds singing, and a flock of grackles and redwing blackbirds landed at the feeder and made musical metallic noises while strutting around and eating. I have two tiny crocuses open. Once again, my snowdrops have disappeared. They either don't like the spot i insist on planting them in, or else a vole or squirrel is getting them.

Then i heard the weather forecast...yikes, anywhere from four to ten (or more) inches of snow forecast! This morning, we had a light pretty snow fall. There was a Cooper's hawk in the maple tree right near my back door. I hoped she wasn't going to stay around to pick off birds off the feeder, but it was still wonderful to see this powerful raptor up close.

Now it's snowing.

The Tale of Sylvie's Tail

Poor Sylvie. She and Gingy have not gotten along for as long as Gingy has lived here (2 1/2 years). Each thinks she should be queen, and neither is willing to yield. Sylvie growls and hisses whenever she sees Gingy; sometimes Gingy is just peacefully walking by on her way to get a drink of water, but other times, she pounces at Sylvie. A couple of months ago, Sylvie had an injury on her tail, and while i suspected that it was Gingy's fault, it was a single puncture on top of the base of Sylvie's tail and it was possible that she could have gotten snagged on a nail or something sticking out somewhere. I had to take Sylvie in to the vet to get the wound cleaned and antibiotics prescribed.

A few weeks ago Sylvie had another tail injury but i was able to clean the wound (despite much yelling from Sylvie) and it started healing by itself. And then two weeks ago, early on a busy Saturday morning, i heard the cat girls yelling and screaming in the basement so i ran down to break it up. Sylvie was crouched on a carpet remnant in her typical defensive posture...laying partially on her side, ears back and eyes slitted, and tail arched on the ground behind her. Gingy was hiding behind a box. Sylvie quickly ran upstairs. She had one puncture wound on top of her tail that was dripping blood and two more underneath her tail. This is the one on top (after it stopped bleeding.)I probably should have taken her to the vet right then but was so busy all weekend...and hoped my first aid treatment would be enough.

I tried keeping the wounds clean, but by the end of the week, one of the under tail ones was looking puffy and the tail was still very sensitive to the touch. I got a Saturday appointment for Sylvie. Her doctor shaved the fur off the top and bottom of her tail, gave her a penicillin shot, put her on a strong dose of Clavamox, and said that if it wasn't looking better by Monday, to bring her in first thing so they could open up the puffy wound and put in a surgical drain if need be.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what had to be done. I dropped Sylvie off at the vet's as soon as they opened, and picked her up on my way home from work. Here's the poor little tail with drain in place (don't biggify the picture if you're at all squeamish!).
As ugly as it looks, it was 100% effective. The infection cleared up right away. I took Sylvie in on Thursday morning, and the vet removed the drain, and that was that. Now....if only i keep this from happening again!!
(By the way, Cliff has started a tail chaser's club for kitties who chase their tails. Sylvie used to be a tail chaser much more when she was younger...she'd get up on a kitchen chair and circle around rapidly chasing her tail with quite a thumpa thumpa thumpa. Gingy's specialty is to chase her tail in the tub...she gets in the empty tub and uses the tub's contours to help bring her floofy tail closer!)

Another Tough Day Telecommuting

Fuzzy: Mom, what's with the camera?
Please resume providing a pillow for my head with your hand!thank you!

Later that day, Louie and Fuzzy indulged in a little double-decker napping. The picture was cuter about one second earlier before Louie picked up his head to see what i was up to...but was too sleepy to open his eyes.
It was a more interrupted telecommuting day for me than usual...i had a dentist appointment at 8:30 to have a cavity in one of my molars filled and then at 11:30 our women's lunch and learn group met at a local restaurant. The idea is for them to meet on Friday so that i can join them but i can really only stay an hour before i have to go back to work. Last time that plan was foiled because it was the first meeting and we had so much to talk about... Luckily i didn't have any teleconferences scheduled so i just made up the time at the end of the day. This time...this time there were 9 of us, we all ordered fairly simple things off the menu...and an hour later the food hadn't come yet! If they had so much trouble getting our food out in an almost empty restaurant, i wonder how they handle a busy dinner hour?!