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!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall is Coming!

Louie says it's time to gather in your pumpkins...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yizkor - Remembrance

During Yom Kippur services (which took place this year on Saturday), Jewish communities around the world recite Yizkor, which means "remembrance" in Hebrew.  We pray for our individual loved ones whom we have lost and then we pray as a community for those who have no one to pray for them. I love this prayer, although it's intensely emotional to recite it.

The congregation reads together "Our generations are bound together as children now remember their parents. Love is strong as death as husbands and wives now remember their mates, as parents now remember their children. Memory conquers death's dominion as we now remember our brothers and sisters, grandparents and other relatives and friends.

"The death of those we now remember left gaping holes in our lives. But we are grateful for the gift of their lives. And we are strengthened by the blessings which they have left us, by precious memories which comfort and sustain us as we recall them this day."

The prayer for my mother "May God remember the soul of my mother who has gone to her eternal home. In loving testimony to her life I pledge charity to help perpetuate ideals important to her. Through such deeds, and through prayer and memory, is her soul bound up in this bond of life. May I prove myself worthy of the gift of life and the many other gifts with which she blessed me. May these moments of meditation link me more strongly with her memory and with our entire family. May she rest eternally in dignity and peace. Amen."

To all who have lost loved ones, may their memory endure as inspiration for deeds of charity and goodness in our lives. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Does This Look Like a Sick Kitty to You?

Gingy in command of Prince William Emergency Vet Hospital

This is how she's feeling more often...not very comfortable.
Poor Gingy wasn't feeling at all well today.She ate an o.k. breakfast but easily let Louie take over her food bowl and then went and spent the day in the basement. At one point she was lying comfortably on her back, but later she was in a dark corner with her head tucked into some boxes. She moved again to a throw rug and was lying on her side, seeming kind of tense and uncomfortable. She threw up once and also peed on the floor (although the latter is not that unusual for her). She had no interest at all in coming upstairs for a snack or supper...definitely a sign that she wasn't well!

I realized i'd either have to take off from work on Monday in order to take her to the vet, or take her to the emergency vet. I went to Prince William Emergency Vet Hospital since they're closer (25 miles) than the Leesburg hospital (45 miles)...which has moved to a new location since the last time i used them and i'm not even sure exactly where they are. Much to my pleasant surprise, the vet who i'd seen most often in Leesburg (back in the days when Louie was having terrible urinary tract problems) now works at the Prince William hospital and that's who Gingy saw. She took xrays of Gingy's tummy, gave her subcutaneous fluids, and gave her a shot of Pepcid to help ease her irritated tummy...with a possible diagnosis that she's got a hairball working its way through her lower digestive tract with gas caught above it causing Gingy's abdominal discomfort.

Unfortunately, Gingy's not feeling much better this morning. She did come upstairs while i was feeding the other cats and nibbled a teaspoon or two of canned food, but then immediately put herself back to bed in the basement. So i'm working from home and will take her to her regular vet as soon as they can work us in.

update: Thank you all for your expressions of concern. It seems that Gingy's white blood count is very high, so she's fighting an infection of some sort, and her kidney values are off. Dr S thinks it's possible that there are at least two things going on: the hairball/digestive blockage and a raging urinary tract infection which might possibly be up in her kidneys. (I feel so bad...this time those puddles of pee on the floor meant Gingy was feeling poorly, not just being "bad" as she often is.) Dr S gave Gingy another shot of Pepcid, more subQ fluids, and an injection of antibiotics (which i requested instead of pills, since if Gingy isn't interested in eating, i wouldn't be able to get her take pills in Pill Pockets [the only way i can pill her], plus Clavamox tends to make my kitties lose their appetites and that's not what we want with a kitty who's not eating). Gingy got some of her fur mats shaved and toenails trimmed...a tiny spa treatment while she was in their power. She was more alert than last night but still pretty lethargic.

I stopped at Starbucks drive-through on the way home to get a coffee and chicken sandwich to i set the sandwich down on top of Gingy's carrier, she meowed loudly. When we got home, she strolled out of her carrier and headed straight to her food bowl! She ate a couple of tablespoons of dry food and at least a tablespoon of canned food before settling down at the head of the stairs instead of retreating to the basement. It's amazing how quickly she's feeling better...i hope she continues to feel better and better with no setbacks.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Current Quilting Project

Last year i purchased a quilting pattern designed by Sheryl Mycroft called Cobblestone Crows from my friend Karen Sue's booth, maybe at the QU show. At any rate, it was one of those projects that really stuck in my imagination and i knew i was going to make it sooner rather than later. When i went to the Vermont Quilt Festival this summer (yes, i know, i still have to post stories and pictures from there!), i took a bunch of fabrics from my stash with me to see if i could pick the ones that would go in the quilt. I knew i wanted to change the color scheme and had the perfect print with metallic gold accents and moon-like patterns as the focus fabric. I found the perfect background fabric at Yankee Pride Quilts, picked up a few fat quarters of batiks at a few other booths, and got the high thread count black Kona cotton for the crows after i got home from my local quilt ship, Kelly Ann's Quilting.

It went together fairly fast, but now it needs to be machine quilted, so that i can embellish the heck out of it. It will finish approximately 28 inches square, and is actually fairly straight, but since it was blowing in the breeze, it looks like it's got a bit of a ripple.

The crow in the foreground will be holding a shell bead in its beak and there will be a line of four shell beads down the tallest strip in the background. I have some great assortments of small beads that should be perfect for the embellishing.

I find crows and ravens to be fascinating curious and observant, and living in complicated social communities. When i was walking around in Sitka, Alaska, i realized that a couple of ravens were following me all over town. Raven and Eagle are traditional adversaries in Northwest Coast Native American mythology, and Raven is the Trickster who stole the Sun from its guardian (but by so doing, brought light, and possibly even the miracle of human birth, to the world). Then, this Spring while i was avidly watching the eaglets at the Norfolk Botanical Garden grow from tiny chicks into healthy fledglings through the cam pointed at their nest, we got news that a raven had stolen an egg from the eagle's nest on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It was recorded on that nest's can see the mother eagle leaving the nest for a moment, the raven flies in, snatches one of the two eggs in its beak, and flies off! It was a devastating moment for fans of that pair of eagles. If the raven had any fans, they might possibly have been cheering it for outsmarting the eagle.

Front cover of The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris, available now from
Finally, with great synchronicity, Jackie Morris, one of my favorite authors and artists,  has just published The Ice Bear, about a raven who steals one of the Ice Bear's cubs and leaves it to be found by a childless hunter and his wife. Both the mother bear and the human parents suffer great loss, [spoiler alert!] the child bridges both worlds, so while it seems as if the raven has done a terrible thing, he sets in motion some very important events and relationships, and at least in this telling, he helps keep one side from killing the other.  

Summer lingers on

It's continued to be hot and dry here (although the last few days the temperatures have finally become more season-appropriate). I finally ate enough delicious fresh tomatoes that i was willing to cook a few, as in this okra-corn-tomato dish.

My own garden is nonexistent this year...just have catnip and mint that came back from last year. Even my compost heap shows signs of neglect...i don't think i've adequately turned it and moistened it so it can get hot and decompose efficiently. I went out the other day and found an avocado tree sprouting in the middle of the heap!

A few weeks ago, my father and i went to the wonderful, family-owned and -operated Hartland Orchard, where I picked two pecks of Redskin peaches in about 15 minutes...and a pint of raspberries in an hour (it was the end of a long Saturday and they had been very thoroughly picked over). My father scored all sorts of points with friends in his retirement community to whom he took back peaches. I didn't give nearly as many away...saved quite a few to make a peach pie for my father the following week and also to make peach liqueur following Sylvie Rowand's recipe (i have to pour off the liquid this weekend and i am really looking forward to tasting the tipsy peaches that result!).

The week after we picked peaches, i drove my father down to Waynesboro to visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia which is mostly a hospital for treating native wildlife, but offers tours to the public a few times a year. My pictures didn't come out very well...most of the raptors were in wooden-sided cages outside and were quite dark inside. However, this lovely kestrel was close to the front so i was able to get a good picture of her.

Edie, the American Kestrel, was found as an orphan when her nest tree was damaged in a storm. She imprinted on humans after being rescued, so she can not be released to lead a normal life in the wild.
The Wildlife Center does everything they can to heal their patients to the point where they can be released back to the wild. Some animals however have injuries that they recover from but which make them unable to fend for themselves in the wild. One of these is the cute little Screech Owl named Pignoli, shown below with education specialist Kelly. He is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other (it's possible that he was struck by a train while pursuing insects), so he wouldn't be able to hunt for food. He has a very sweet personality and has taken easily to a role as an Education Animal.

Education Specialist Kelly and Education Animal Pignoli

After our tour of the hospital and its grounds, we came back to my house to go out to dinner and then back to my house for peach pie for dessert and for my father to have a chance to spend some time with his grandcats. They all greeted him affectionately but we were disappointed that nobody hopped up on his lap (we probably weren't sitting long enough). He took home a funny souvenier of his visit....his navy blue shorts were covered with Fuzzy's fur from the couch!

Speaking of Fuzzy, here he is sprawled out on his back on the couch...summertime cat nap!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Late summer in small town Virginia

We've had an amazingly hot and dry summer this year. I think we had the hottest and driest June on record, quite a counterpoint to the snowy and cold winter! I believe we had something like 40 days in a row of above-90 degrees temperature. Thankfully, i have central air conditioning...i got it years ago because Lesley had feline asthma and her vet said she'd be much better off if the windows could be kept closed--and the only way it would be bearable to have the windows closed would be to have air conditioning. The cats have been feeling warm but pretty comfortable.
Fuzzy laying on the 3rd desk's book shelf, keeping me company while i telecommute

Sylvie checcking out Farmers Market bounty: peppers, Napa cabbage, corn, 2 different mixes of cherry tomatoes, new potatoes (in bag), radishes

Sylvie staking out my desk chair, which the cats have pretty thoroughly trashed. Why buy a new one if that'll get all shredded, too?

Louie snuggled into his "Hairy Blankie"

Gingy relazing on the kitchen doormat (yes, she's the one who has peed repeatedly on the back door)
Another fine part of summer here is my town's tradition of offering outdoor concerts every Saturday evening in a joint partnership with Bluemont Concerts. The musicians set up on the sidewalk across the street and everyone sets up blankets and lawn chairs on the lawn of the Warren Green building, a Civil War era building that now houses some County offices, next to the County courthouse complex. It's wonderful listening to all kinds of great musicians in such a family-friendly atmosphere. Different community groups provide the refreshments each week and get to keep the's like having a bake sale with a musical accompaniment!

Last week my quilt group provided the refreshments. We lucked was a gorgeous clear warm evening, not dreadfully hot and humid as so many other Saturday nights had been, and the music was fantastic--the Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra, a group of about 8 guys (from an ensemble of 16) playing swing and big band music.

Here's what it looked like from the back of the crowd, as the lights just started coming on.

Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra entertains as night falls
One thing that doesn't show in the picture are the bats and swallows flittering around overhead catching the bugs who are attracted to the lights.

Here are two of my friends from the quilt group with our table of goodies. In addition to the usual homemade cookies and brownies, bottled water, iced tea, and lemonade, we also had trail mix, pretzels, homemade caramel corn, spiced nuts and spicy popcorn both custom made by one of the group, and a peck of peaches picked that very day by a member who hadn't had time to bake. By the end of the evening we only had a few peaches and a few bags of trail mix and cookies left...a very successful evening for us. And so much fun, too!
Quilters and goodies for sale at the Bluemont concert

There are naked ladies in my garden!

Did i get your attention? *lol* Nope, not human ladies, but these interesting pink lily-like blooms that suddenly appear on long naked stems in late summer around here. They're otherwise known as Lycoris squamigera...and have other wonderful nicknames like "magic lilies," "surprise lilies," and "resurrection lilies" which all refer to the fact that they suddenly seem to appear out of nowhere. In spring, a huge clump of big green strap-like leaves appears, much like daffodils, except there are no flowers, and the leaves go dormant and disappear as soon as the weather starts to warm up. And then in late July, early August, suddenly stems appear and rapidly produce clusters of pink blooms.

They are a wonderful pass-along plant, since they are easy to dig up after blooming (big clumps of bulbs) and transplant to wherever the garden soil is halfway decent and they will get at least half a day of sun. I'd never seen them before i moved to Virginia. In fact, the first place i saw them was along a vanished fenceline in Turnbull, an historically Black community not far from here. I thought people had stuck hundreds of silk flowers in a line along the road in front of an old church. Then i saw them in people's yards. And then the summer after i bought my house, they popped up in my own yard, from where i thought a disappointing clump of daffodils had disappeared!

(Did you notice that they're surrounded by a mass of English ivy, poison ivy, and some other sort of wild viney groundcover thing? And then on the other side there's a nice neat bed of mulch? The mulch is my nextdoor neighbor's yard!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Guest appearance by another pair of felines

This is Travis (the orangish fellow) and Fortune (the calico gal) who live at my vet's office. In this picture, they're snuggling together on a bench in the waiting room.
Travis and Fortune
I don't remember now how Travis came to live at the vet's office, but he's a wonderful constant presence there. He especially likes to hop up on the high counter, where he has an unobstructed view of everyone coming in and going out, can keep out of reach of the many canines who also are patients, and can easily solicit petting from clients waiting to pay their bills. (He also likes to sit on the office paperwork and drapes his tail across the receptionist's keyboard.) Every once in a while, Travis has to earn his keep, as he's the blood donor cat.

Fortune was an SPCA cat...from time to time, the staff go to the SPCA and pick out a few cats and dogs and bring them back to the office, knowing that customers will see them and fall in love and adopt them. Fortune was a real sweetie, but didn't get adopted. At least not right away. And it's just as well...because Travis fell in love with her!  They can often by found together in the nest in the cat tree that a grateful client donated to the clinic or like this, curled up together on a bench or chair in the feline waiting room. (The only sad part of this story is that the other resident cat, Wink, was also in love with Travis. Now he doesn't get much time from Travis at all, and because he's a fairly antisocial cat, he now stays in the back part of the clinic, supervising the human staff.)

I took Louie to the vet right before I left on my Maine vacation...he needed his annual rabies shot and exam. Much to my surprise, the vet didn't yell at Louie and me about his weight, because he's lost a pound since last year. Admittedly he's still overweight, but at least he's losing rather than continuing to gain.

Speaking of the Maine vacation, i hope to finally catch up with my blog writing this weekend. As a prelude, here i am back at home with Gingy showing me that i could easily have taken her with me. Both Fuzzy and Louie were also checking out the suitcase.

Funny story about the suitcase--it's a big blue LLBean suitcase with wheels, external pockets, leather trim, etc. When i removed the bag from the luggage carousel in the Portland, Maine, airport, two women asked me if i was sure it was my bag. I was startled...of course it was my bag! Wasn't that my bag...and my cat's fur? (Having put the suitcase on the bed to fill it, it immediately picked up a fine glaze of cat hair from the bed.) I opened the luggage tag to show them my name on it. They told me they had a bag just like it, including the cat hair! Sure enough, sometime later when i was waiting for the rental car to be brought to me, the two women came up behind me, wheeling an identical suitcase..and laughingly pointing out the cat hair on it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ahhh blessed rain!

It's been sooo hot here...temperatures in the upper 90s and even 101, 102, 104 last week! On top of that, it hasn't rained in weeks, so everything is fried to a crisp. I've refilled the bird baths every day, and it's been marvelous watching the birds bathing and jays totally submerging themselves in water by flapping their wings to get it up over their backs and robins jumping in and fluttering joyfully. This morning, i awoke to the sound of rain on the roof and trickling into the rain gutters. What a wonderful sound!

The only drawback...i'm leaving this morning for Maine for a week's vacation with my father and sister, reprising family vacations last taken in 1998 when the (as yet undiagnosed) early stages of my mother's Alzheimers made her unable to cope with mixed weather and a new cook at the music camp. I hope the rain doesn't mess up our respective plane flights, but other than that, it's a welcome relief.

Hope everyone is well...when i get back, i hope to blog about the Vermont Quilt Festival that i attended at the end of June (and met sweet Karen LR from sew and sew life) and of course the cats (all well!) and catch up with my blogging friends. Be well!

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to Take a Shower While Wearing a Surgical Boot

The first few days after my recent foot surgery, i was content to take a sponge bath. But after a few more days, i really needed to wash my hair and the only alternative really is the shower. I tried looking for advice on the internet on how to manage a shower while keeping my foot dressings dry (the post-operative instructions very clearly say to keep the dressings "clean and dry.") Some merely said "keep foot elevated" with no clue how to keep the water from running down your leg. Others said "put a plastic bag around your foot" with no clue as to how to keep the water from running down your leg into the plastic bag! The orthopedic tech at my surgeon's office suggested wrapping a towel around my ankle first, so that any water that got in would be absorbed. She also suggested rubber bands or duct tape to hold the bag tight.

So here's what i did. First, begin with swollen foot in very bulky wrappings in surgical boot. 
Next, fold a hand towel in half length-wise and wrap it around the ankle firmly, tucking in the ends.
Finally, put foot into large (13-gallon) plastic trash bag. Pull bag up, place large rubber band around the leg, above the towel. Fold down the bag, place another rubber band around the top. (Notice "normal" toes to left for size comparison!)

Take shower...enjoy!! The only improvement was that once i was able to drive again, i went to the hardware store and got duct makes a nice tight seal around the top when applied to the top of the bag and the leg simultaneously, so you can take a nice long shower without worrying about springing a leak. The only drawback is that the duct tape sticks to the bag so well, it tears the bag when you go to remove it, so you only get one shower's worth per trash bag.

How to Recover from Foot Surgery

It's very important to spend a lot of time lying down on the couch, with your foot elevated. (Dr Sylvie behind the pillow, Dr Fuzzy on the pillow) (It turns out that icing the foot didn't work well...the wrapping is so thick, the coolness didn't really get through to my foot very well) (The weird orange stripe above my ankle is from the antiseptic stuff they use pre-operatively.)
It's especially important to spend a lot of time lying down while Dr Fuzzy administers purr therapy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Unexpected Blogcation!

Gingy enjoying a very carefully supervised visit to the sunshine on the front porch
The month of March just went by in a blur, and likewise April. Difficult winter turned into beautiful Spring, and i've been busy busy busy at work and getting ready for my quilt group's retreat (which happened last weekend and was a huge success). Now i'm about to have surgery on my foot and will have to be away from the 'puter for a few days lying down with sacks of frozen peas icing the incision. I have really good intentions of catching up with posting and visiting all my blog friends soon. See you!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lucky Me!

The kitties aren't the only ones to get wonderful surprise gifts in the mail! Last Tuesday I came home from work (as yet another snowstorm was starting) to find a mystery box on my front steps. The address was from nearby, but i didn't recognize it. I opened the big box and inside was an attractive kraft paper box from Valley Green Naturals. Hmm, i didn't recognize that name either. Food? Plants? Organic cat treats?

No, it was full of wonderful spa products, for me: bath and shower wash, organic soap and honey facial therapy mask (made with honey right from the Valley Green farm), sugar scrub with a scoop and washcloth, and bath and body oil.
There was a sweet note inside saying "Please enjoy a "Spa Day" on us!" and it was from Danica, Britta, Virginia, Trine and Tom--all of the wonderful cat parents who had gone in on the lovely "hairy blankie" that the kitties received the week before. Wow! And perfect timing, too, since i spent an hour or so the next day shovelling more snow and really enjoyed taking a warm soaking bath afterwards.

On Wednesday and Thursday, i was actually able to stay home because work finally joined the rest of the federal government in Washington in closing due to all the snow. However, mail service continued here, and my great letter carrier left a box on my porch on Thursday (so glad i had shovelled off the steps and the front path!). This was from an address that i recognized, my friend Karen from Sew and Sow Life. I read the enclosed note and knew that there was catnip inside for the cats, so i hurried off to get my camera in order to record their response. While i was in the other room, i heard a thump, and came back in the kitchen to find the box on the floor and Fuzzy halway into the box, searching out the catnip!
The catnip was in individual sachets in Valentine colors, each stamped with their initials so the kitties (or the mom) would know whose was whose.Here's a very sleepy Louie sniffing his:

And for me there was one of Karen's beautiful pillows (gorgeous colorful floral cotton squaress sewn into a bigger square and then appliqued to an elegant linen backgroud)and a handsome pouch full of balsam needles from their place in Vermont, smelling wonderfully of the deep woods. Lucky me!