Monday, October 26, 2009

Things You Don't Tell Prospective Cat Owners

Last night when i went to take my shower i discovered a small puddle of urine on the bathroom floor. It appeared "normal" so i don't think it was a cry for help from a kitty with urinary tract problems. I assume it was left by either Gingy or Sylvie, who from time to time have been caught squatting over the heat register in the bathroom floor! (presumably letting each other know that they're still around) (in case the growling and hissing wasn't enough of a reminder)

As if that wasn't bad enough, after i got out of the shower, i dried off, put on my clean long flannel nightie and slippers and sat down at the computer for a bit, then wandered into the kitchen to get my stuff ready to go to work Monday a.m. ...Louie came over to me and leaned companionably against me while sniffing interestedly at the hem of my nightie. He was giving it waaaaay too much attention for just an ordinary clean nightie. I grabbed the hem with my hand, noticed it was wet (could be, i just got out of the shower) but was damp with cat pee! Blecch! Not sure how or when that happened, but...yuck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cool Weather = Snuggly Kitties

It's really funny, as the temperature outside (and inside) drops, the cats adopt some new favorite places to nap.

First, Louie has returned to my lap. I never notice him avoiding me during the summer, but i suddenly notice in the fall that he spends a lot more time snuggling with me! Here he is helping me proofread a document.

Fuzzy is spending more time tucked into the bookshelf on the desk after he finishes snuggling with me at the computer. (The desk is 30" across and as you can see, Fuzzy just barely fits...that's a long kitty!)
Sylvie has been reclaiming the boogie mat, and also the couch, when she knows Gingy's tucked away somewhere else (sorry that the picture is blurry and her eyes look weird...took the camera with flash and it was too dark for me to focus well).

Here's Louie and Fuzzy at the start of a little friendly whapping. It looks like Louie's starting this round, but he'll never win...Fuzzy's arms are longer than his, so he's kept at arm's length.

Gingy absolutely adores these Priority Mail boxes to sit on or to lay on or to push around and claw at and try to crawl into!

I had to take Fuzzy to the vet last Friday when his sneezles seemed to be turning into an upper respiratory infection (he's on Baytril and seems to be doing much better). Ever since then, Gingy has been very interested in nesting in the cat carrier.

Snow in the Mountains

There is something so beautiful about snow. I think partly it's the way that it blankets everything, hiding all the imperfections like mud and unfinished garden chores, and revealing new shapes and silhouettes. And often when it's snowing a hush falls over everything, as little birds and animals hunker down for shelter and the sounds of car tires are muffled by the blanketing whiteness.

I love snow, but here in northern Virginia we mostly get that dreaded "frozen mix" which is neither snow nor rain...and is dreadful for commuters to drive in. This weekend, the cats and i hunkered down because it was raw and rainy. I visited my friends at the Farmers Market, bought a gyro sandwich in town, and did the grocery shopping...but otherwise i stayed indoors mostly at the sewing machine.

Meanwhile, little more than 35 miles away in the Blue Ridge mountains, the cold rain turned to big flakes of snow and my friend Joy captured this wonderful scene on her way to work along Skyline Drive.


Here There Be Dragons

Two of my favorite children's book illustrators who have very different styles and very different approaches recently each published a book about dragons. And what different approaches to dragons they took!
On the left is Tell Me a Dragon by Jackie Morris and on the right is Dragon's Dinner written by Susannah Corbett and illustrated by Lynne Chapman. Jackie's book like most of her writing and drawing is very deep and mystical (here's Jackie's wonderful cats' blog and here's her main web page; Lynne's book is very funny and slapstick (see Lynne's blog here, for great insight into her work as an illustrator). Yet both books speak about the power of the individual's imagination! Wonderful additions to the home library, or at the very least, check them out of your local library. If you haven't been in the children's section of your library lately, you may find a whole new set of books to bring home and dream over.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sewing Projects and the Miracle of the Internet

My sister's birthday is the first week in October, so i made her this tote bag, modeled by Louie. (Her cat Stanley was *extremely* interested in sniffing the bag when it arrived.) I also sent her a copy of Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper...i love that book so much, i'm sharing it with all of my cat-loving friends!

And here's the card i made for her (all Stampin' Up! except for the package stamp), which of course includes my favorite Stampin' Up! cat stamp. Can you guess that she likes cats, flowers, and the color blue?!

My quilt group is participating in the Holiday House craft fair at Sky Meadows State Park at the end of November and we're all busily making items for sale. I found a nice pattern for lavender sachets in The Impatient Patchworker, which my friend Karen recommended.

I made a prototype sachet--from this book that i ordered on the internet that i learned about from a friend on the internet--to give to another friend from the internet!

First here's the sachet front and back. I needed a "neutral" background in a hurry for this picture and grabbed the closest thing at hand, a copy of the (soon to be late, lamented) Gourmet magazine.

And here's my friend Annabell, visiting from Australia, for whom i made the sachet. I met her through an online quilt group quite a few years ago. Since the end of August, she and her husband have been traveling across the United States, for the most part staying with friends from that same quilting group. Almost none of us has met in person before, but through the wonder of the internet, we've become close friends. Here she's showing her hostess (yet another friend from the internet) and me the quilt she made for her 50th wedding anniversary. Each star has the signature of their four children, nine grandchildren, and numerous other friends and relations. It was so much fun meeting this lovely couple in person!

Early Fall Colors

Suddenly last week it went from feeling like early fall to feeling like winter! And on Saturday, while it was a chilly 39 degrees and raining at my house, snow was falling only 25 miles away on Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge moutains!

Last Monday i finally decided to turn the heat on in the house because it was chilly and getting chillier...but there was no heat! The pilot light in the furnace was still lit, but the furnace wasn't responding to the thermostat. I diagnosed that the thermostat needed replacing. A technician came out the next day and confirmed my diagnosis, but also said the heat exchanger in the furnace was shot, and he refused to turn the furnace back on because he said it could fail at any time and there was a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sigh.

Next day they came and installed a new furnace...that was one huge unplanned-for expense! But at least i didn't have to wait days and days for them to do the work. There's still a bit of finishing up to do...such as moving the thermostat so that i can see it! It's a programmable thermostat with an LED display...and it's too high up on the wall for me to see it without standing on the couch.

I have a few pictures from the warm sunny days in early October that i should post before it's too late (also have a summer flower and food post that never got up...maybe i'll wait 'til November for that one? *g*)

A dwarf solidago cultivar (goldenrod) looking happy in the mostly-shade bed.
A wild aster blooming happily in the gravel next to the driveway.

This is a new (to me) aster cultivar, Bluebird. I've seen its wild relatives along the roadsides. It's amazing to me how covered with blooms this plant is, and how many native pollinators were busily (bizzzily) buzzing around it on a chilly October day.

A close-up of Bluebird aster and busy pollinators.

A wild goldenrod next to a dogwood in fall color with ripening "berries." The dogwood was a gift from the birds.
Another dogwood, which seeded itself in front of the f0undation looking out my bedroom window through its leaves in summer and early fall. That cats have been very attentive since the squirrels have been stripping the tree of its berries.

Virginia Red Cedar (which is not really a cedar, it's a juniper: Juniperus virginiana) growing in the perennial bed in the front. The birds keep depositing seeds which become little cedars, which i keep removing or mowing down...except i finally left this one because it was nicely placed. It's probably 12 feet tall now and has about a five foot spread, which means it's taking over some space where tulips and day lilies used to grow. But it's home to at least one nest of mockingbirds, shelter for doves and other birds, and provider of these luscious berries...which among other things add a fantastic flavor to lamb...or gin.
I just made this dish Saturday it's a cold weather dish...but it's made with the last of the summer vegetables from the Farmer's Market--yellow squash, red onion, yellow and green peppers, garlic, herbes de Provence, and mushrooms (forgot that i had shiitakes in the fridge, so these are store-bought white mushrooms). The whole house smelled heavenly of onions and herbs.
The last of the tomatoes. I didn't have much luck with tomatoes all season, and then suddenly the silly plant was covered with fruit. I figured i'd better bring them in because we may get frost any day now, and even if we don't, it's too chilly for them to do any ripening on the vine.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Around the house--cats

One of my friends from quilting who is a very talented artist made me the cat on the left...she took a ceramic cat and then covered him with little bits of fabric, painted on features, and sealed the whole thing, resulting in this fabulous patchwork cat. She also gave me the porcelain cat on the right...just brought him back for me from a trip to Texas!

Gingy quite smugly taking over the pillows.

Louie showing that even mancats like pink cat towels to snuggle on.

Sleepy Fuzzy.

The super snuggler.

Sully Quilt Show and Sale

Another Fall ritual is the Sully Quilt Show and Sale, which always falls on a Saturday in early September. Unlike most quilt shows that i go to where almost all of the quilts are new, the quilts at Sully for the most part are antiques, and they're there to be sold. Some vendors have piles of quilts at their booths. Others have quilts draped over quilt racks or hanging on a clothesline...the show is outside, on the grounds of historic Sully plantation, and the weather can range from beastly to chilly and damp. This year we lucked out--it rained enough on Friday to slake the dust, while on Saturday it was lovely warm, dry, and breezy. Interesting mushrooms on a tree stump on the Plantation grounds.

You can take a tour of the plantation house, and there are usually people in Colonial-era garb doing some a group of women are carding, spinning, and weaving wool.

I'm always interested in the old quilts from an academic point of view, but i've never seen one that i liked well enough to buy...well, the couple that i have liked that well have been outside my price range! I've learned that i'm much more of a quilt maker (and fabric collector) than a quilt collector. So i'm always somewhat disappointed in the antique quilts on display...they earn my respect or i pity the ones that are faded and worn but they don't trigger my creative juices and most of them don't have any history with them as far as where they were made or when nor certainly who made them. I just ran across a blog with very nice pictures of some of the quilts that were at this year's show...

What i end up spending most of my time doing is wandering from booth to booth, looking at all the new fabric, tools, patterns, notions, and books. For some reason this year i wasn't in a very acquisitive mood, maybe because my sewing room is already bursting at the seams and i've been spending money on Stampin' Up! supplies that i might previously have spent on my quilting hobby.

One of my favorite booth's was this one...she had lovely necklaces and earrings that she had made from antique buttons. She did a very nice job of displaying her jewelry, using antique or antiqued picture frames, mirrors, and windows as frames to highlight individual pieces. I spent a long time in there, just admiring and enjoying everything.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Festivals

The month of September just flew by! I went to a women's spiritual retreat in preparation for the Jewish High Holidays, which was really wonderful. The peaceful spiritual feeling didn't last very long, though, when faced with the logistical difficulties of setting up a borrowed space for services, making sure there was enough food for the potluck dinner, cleaning up afterwards, etc.

The wonderful Red Truck Bakery graciously consented to make challah for Rosh Hashanah, and then even more graciously consented to make the loaves round when told that that was traditional for this holiday. We had a couple of loaves leftover after the Saturday morning service, so i brought them home to put in my freezer 'til the following week.

Gingy as some of you might know belonged to our previous part-time Rabbi and she's sometimes referred to as "The Rabbi's Cat." Her upbringing certainly came to light...i had set my market basket on the floor with the two loaves of challah in it side by side, one in a plastic bag, the other in plastic wrap. Gingy savaged the whole end of one loaf when i temporarily went to another was the superb Red Truck challah that she nommed, not the fine-but-not-nearly-as-good grocery store one.

Practically as soon as the High Holidays were over came the holiday of Sukkot, which is a harvest festival and also recalls when the Israelites were wandering in the desert for 40 years and living in temporary shelters. I had my own personal harvest to celebrate...harvested my first tomato! I didn't get the plants in the ground until Memorial Day, the woodchucks or squirrels made off with the first couple of minimally ripe tomatoes, the plants struggled with too much rain in June and none in July, they are growing in my garden spot that over the years has gotten more and more shaded by the trees so they don't get as much sun as they really need, etc. etc.
The tomatoes aren't as redolent as mid-summer tomatoes, but i figured i'd better bring them in before we have a frost.

Here's a few tomatoes on the second plant that will probably end up as fried green tomatoes.