Christmas Beginnings

The other evening was movie night. We saw Beverly Hills Cop and laughed a lot. Eddie Murphy is very funny to watch. I think the next movie will be the classic, A Christmas Story…then maybe Blazing Saddles. We seem to be into silly fun with our pizza and wine. Outside on the way home, the town and some of the neighbors have decorated for the holidays. I did not see this in the place I left.

The day before I went for a walk to the river. It was very cold and windy.

Lots of puddles to get around or through. I might ask Santa for a pair of boots! The special tree now has a hole all the way through the base of the trunk. I hope it hangs on.

I also worked on another of the stitched animals….bunnies.

Then yesterday I baked the Christmas cake. Very dark.  And I made two because it seemed too much batter for the one round pan. Next year I will not use blackstrap molasses. So in case the flavor is not how I expect, I drowned one in rum and the other in a honey liquor…then drizzled golden syrups into the poked holes. It may take more Madeira and sharp cheese than last year when serving this up to family.

I won’t serve it to friends in case I scare them off. Last night I had my first dinner here for a couple in town that have been very kind to me since the move. It was fun to bring out cloth napkins and make a special dinner with hors d’oeurves. It has been such a long time…before dementia compounded by Covid. I am going to their place this coming Thursday to meet some of their friends.

Other news is that I went to my second poetry meeting a few days ago and actually read one of my poems from Trusting the Tether Line. It was very well received and they encouraged me to keep writing and share more next month. The group is actually quite an education on the subject of poetry; the types, cadences, etc.  I feel so much more at home here in the company of people taking an interest in what I do. Very supportive area that is fun to live in.

Today, now that the washing and ironing are finished, I am going to sit by the fire with my cats and read Louise Penny’s latest book.

later I will bake savoury scones and something else to share with the men at the coffee meetings.

Dilly is exhausted trying to keep up.

Til later….

The Studio Is Ready For Some Action

I will catch you up on all the work in the studio to get it completely workable. I started with the two kitchen base cabinets from the hardware store and then stained them and put them on the old rug from our former office.

Patrick brought down the oak top he made to fit across…28″ by 68″. Then he and Marla got busy.

Shelves were added and the old unit Lee made for me to hold my pigments was brought in from the garage, stained and hung to the left to hold more things that I wanted in the studio. My small proofing press and the table made for it just fit to the right and holds all the books on or related to printmaking.

On the opposite wall the shelves are filled with more books, art supplies and small collections. The Cow Story now has a new home. It used to be in the guest room before.

All the characters are there with the book I wrote about them open in the background. Marla hung all the artwork, mostly egg temperas, in the room. She has an uncanny eye for where things fit.

An old drawer acts as a curio cabinet.

And the corner of the work table holds my most used tools. Now all my measuring devices are in one place.  At the end of the table standing on the floor is my large cutter….easy to lift to the table when needed.

And the wall between the door to the room and the closet that holds all the papers and cutting boards. Another large egg tempera, two small white line prints, an aboriginal basket and tapestry woven doll.

Below them is my old tool cabinet with all the small drawers sitting on a chest that holds threads. A small table is next to it with all my book binding threads and holds two bins of envelopes and carved stamps stacked one on the other.

The two bottom drawers on the right cabinet under the work table will hold interesting fabrics and the tools related to machine sewing. The machine fits under the work table. The left cabinet of one wide drawer and a door holds all printing inks, brayers and barons. Below behind the door is my XCut XPress with its two sets of bases and felts and all the carving tools.

I continue to add things to the shelves above that I like looking at.

Now on to the other rooms now filled with artwork.

The bathroom with the newly assembled bamboo medicine cabinet fixed over my bamboo clothes hamper.

And inside my closet over my Migun bed are the degrees where I can stare at them while being massaged and the autobiographical drawings of what Lee and enjoyed doing more than a few years ago.  Also my first wood engraving of a nest and a small painting of a child in a bath that was a gift a few years ago. We were bathed in a large galvanized tub when I was small and I loved her timid expression.

Once you start hanging art work, etc in the closet, you know the walls are full.

The last hanging job Marla and Patrick did before leaving early Saturday morning was placing the six fish I had left from the school outside my studio.

I can never look at these wine bottle fish without remembering the fun parties we had and actually drank this wine. I left a full bottle buried under a tree in my yard at the other house.

Just this morning I put together this floor lamp for the corner Marla said was in sore need of one. She was right. I moved my hand sewing baskets to this corner as well. I can sit by the fire, stitch, look at my garden and watch neighbors from this corner.

The old bamboo head went from my old porch to the new. I will wait til Spring to get two chairs and a table for the porch.

And the bark birdhouses now sit with the moss gardens below the tai chi figures.

Yesterday I sat at my new work table and addressed Christmas cards. I love being in this room!

The cats are snuggling on the bed.

And the new Louise Penny book with Inspector Gamache came yesterday so I will likely just go start it now.

Til later….

Staying In/Staying Busy

Last Saturday the shades for the porch were installed. Now that western sun can be held in check.

But the weather has changed to much cooler and the cats and I are appreciating the fireplace.

Still getting out for the walk to the river and keeping an eye out for the bear and interesting changes in the landscape.

Friday night I had a lovely dinner and visit with a neighbor here in Riverwalk. The food was very good and we had her favorite Chardonnay – Yellow Tail from Australia. Such a dependable and tasty wine to just have on hand to remember old friends and make new ones. Seeing the inside of another house here was so interesting. Our layouts are very similar and it was fun to see the difference in how we filled our spaces.

And last night I actually did go to the wine tasting night. I sat at the builder’s table with three of his workers, two young girls from the bank he does business with and a neighbor I met on a walk. It was a very enjoyable evening and I would gladly do it again. I will need to have some neighbors in to help drink the six bottles of wine I ordered. The sommelier made good choices for the hors d’oeurves served with each of the wines. It was a good place to get back into being social.

I redrew the bear on a stitchable paper. And just started right in with my scraps.

Finished….or so I think. But a walking stick seems a good idea.

Then I had to do another…..

I think he is almost there….

I draw and stitch while listening to books on tape from the library. British mysteries read by Timothy Dalton are especially good.

Not sure what the next animal will be. Rabbit? Raccoon? Something…maybe that owl…

Anyway I will think of something while I listen to another convoluted Victorian mystery before meeting the men for a movie this evening. We are each bringing our own dinner and drink. I might do a takeout and an old short bottle of wine I found in the cupboard of my former house and just had to bring along. Only one way to see if it is any good and I am likely the only one of the four of us tonight who drinks wine. We all agreed that the original Grumpy Old Men was a good choice.

Til later….

Very Good Few Days!

I woke at three to be ready at five for the lunar eclipse….another blood moon but with the fog preventing the warm glow of the previous moon trapped in the Earth’s shadow. I don’t know why I think it is so important that I watch this phenomenon. Maybe because it will not be til 2025 when this happens again.

A nice walk to the river a few days ago.

Five minute walk from my house and I am in the thick of it.

And yesterday the road past my house was paved.

Two days ago I had finished up my crow wood block. It was less than anticipated. So I have put carving aside for a bit until I get the studio set up.

But I needed to get caught up in something…SOMETHING! So settled down to drawing assorted animal heads to clothe in stitched cloth. I liked the bear best and decided to start with him.  Also a bear has been seen not far from my house coming down from the hills beyond.  I couldn’t resist a couple of paws coming out and a worried look on his face. He might not like that winter is coming and bundled up. The bits that are drawn cloth (shirt and scarf) will be finely stitched cloth to finish clothing him. He makes me smile and I am anxious to see what a fox might be worrying about. And on and on….

The drawing is on a six inch square of paper. Years ago I did a series of small owl heads with a partial moon in a deep blue sky behind. I am now thinking that I need to get those old wood blocks back out, print them and then clothe them from the neck down in finely stitched patchwork robes. A loosely tied cord around some fat middles. Anyway I am ready for some good fun and silliness coming off my pencils.

This morning I went to the big home supply store to get base cupboards for the studio that are counter height for the table top Patrick is making and will bring down at Thanksgiving. They are unfinished solid oak and I bought the side panels to cover that ugly board on the ends. One of the cupboards is 18″ wide and holds three drawers 24″ to the back. The other is 24″ wide and the same 24″ deep with one long drawer and a cupboard door down below. A great space for fitting the sewing machine and the XCut XPress die cut/etching press and beds. Marla will hang the pictures on the walls in the studio and we might add a shelf for artwork.

When I arrived home this morning a delivery person came shortly after. She had to hand deliver my package of a book shipped from Germany. It is the original woodcut images of Olesya Dzhurayeva in the Ukraine. She is a printmaker living in Kyiv. The images of her work through the printmaking groups I belong to on Facebook spoke to me like no others. These are from scraps of wood from her war torn surroundings inked with the black soil of her home.

When I saw there was going to be a small edition of this book, I contacted her to see if I could purchase one to not only help support her, but more importantly to have and hold these images.

It is hand bound in a clam shell box about 10″ by 13″. The colors of the Ukrainian flag are on the inside covers of the clam shell box and the book is covered in a “bitter chocolate” brown cover material from England. Three languages are opposite each of the six prints. The whole thing simply takes my breath away. I will say that Olesya has been in several printmaking exhibits in Europe since her work has become more public.

Here are some of the images of the book. The box.

The book cover with the image that first caught my eye.

And the English text between Ukrainian and German.

And how fitting that her words come today. The day Russians are routed from Kherson and the beleaguered Ukrainian soldiers are greeted so joyously.

Now I need to drop her a line to say that her inspirational work and words have arrived.

Til later….