Thursday, April 29, 2010

Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter ...

Hi friends! Thanks for all of your compliments on my paperless ATC, it was wonderful to receive such positive feedback. Sitting alone in my art studio/bedroom (except for the cats, of course), it's hard to tell if my crafty attempts are a) silly b) mediocre c) kind of beautiful. Thank goodness for supportive bloggy friends.

I am still obsessed with Pride & Prejudice. I'm not sure why some stories speak to the psyche in such a profound way, but that one has captivated me. I'm in the middle of watching the BBC television series from 1980 and getting a big kick out of it. It is sooooo low budget it's like watching a school play, but that adds to the charm. I like the actress who plays Elizabeth and the actor who is Darcy. So far it is extremely faithful to the book, even the dialogue.

Last weekend I made an important discovery at a used bookstore-- Pride & Prejudice is almost a genre on to itself. There are books that tell the story through Darcy's eyes, describe the early years of their marriage, relate stories of the Darcy's imagined children, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. There are even a couple versions with Darcy as a vampire! Did everyone know about this but me? I'm so happy to have a seemingly endless supply of P&P books to read.

In non-Darcy news, do you remember that I mentioned we have Barn Owl babies at my local park? I haven't seen them yet, but a kind blogger left a comment on that post with a link to the Barn Owl Box , streaming live video of a mama Barn Owl named Molly and her four babies. It is fascinating! (And sometimes kind of gross.) During the day it's mainly the babies alone in the box, but if you tune in between 8:30pm and 9:30pm PDT you might see mama Molly (or papa McGee) land on top of the owl box with a food delivery for their babies and toss it inside. It is almost as addictive as Pride & Prejudice.

Last but not least, pop over to GerryArt for a chance to win a cute tote and two wallets, handmade by Gerry. Tomorrow is the last day, so please hurry!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April ATC's

The theme for one of my April artist trading card swaps was paperless. It was quite a challenge! We weren't allowed to use any paper whatsoever, and I had a hard time figuring out what to do.

I experimented with metal, Fun Foam, Shrinky Dinks, and other materials before settling on needle felting.

The above ATC is for a different swap with a tree theme. We were allowed to use paper for that swap. I made the tree using a fused fiber technique from the book Artist Trading Card Workshop .

This last one is titled "Word Tree."

Next month's theme is a foreign city, which should be lots of fun.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day I went around the neighborhood taking pictures of flowers.

I love how the camera helps you appreciate the fine details of their beauty.

I didn't realize how many different types of flowers we have in the neighborhood until today.

Thank you, Pachamama!

"sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love"
-e.e. cummings

Monday, April 19, 2010

News from the nest

Things are pretty quiet around here, so a better title for this post might be "No news from the nest." We are still getting a few days of rain every week, which is unusual but very welcome. It keeps the hillsides green and overflowing with grass and wildflowers.

Last year the city installed Barn Owl boxes at my park, and we now have our first babies. I spent an evening trying to peek in to the box from a safe distance with my binoculars, and I thought I saw some little faces peering out from the hole, but I can't be sure. I wanted to see them so badly that I may have just imagined it.

I haven't been very ambitious with my knitting. There are several lace shawls I want to knit, but I can't bring myself to start anything that requires concentration. So instead I've been knitting a feather and fan scarf to give to a friend who had a birthday last month. I love that pattern in a variegated yarn.

I'm still on my Pride and Prejudice kick. As I mentioned previously, I've seen the 2005 movie with Keira Knightley and the 1995 mini-series with Colin Firth, and now I have read the book. Next stop, the BBC television series from 1980. If I'm not completely tired of it after that, I might check out the film from 1940. And if that doesn't do it, there's always
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies .

Any news from your nest?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear Cory,

Today is your birthday, and I want to tell you how much I cherish our friendship of the last 18 years.

Me & Cory at Yosemite in 1996

Your love of hiking and the outdoors introduced me to areas of California I had never seen before and sparked my love of wildlife and wilderness.

You have been there for me without fail through some of the most difficult times in my life, listening with an open-hearted compassion and always finding a way to make me laugh.

Your creativity inspired me to learn crafts I never would have attempted, like knitting and collage, and those activites have brought me tremendous joy.

Thank you for all of the unexpected gifts you have so generously given to me over the years. I hope we have many more years of outdoor adventures, holiday celebrations, creative explorations, and heart-to-heart talks.

Happy birthday!



PS. Cory is also known as Dogwood, and you can check out her blog at Pink Dogwood Blossom and also read more about her here .

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blooper Reel

I take lots of pictures of my kitties, but my camera never seems to be close by when they're doing something especially cute. By the time I fish it out of the bottom of my bag (my camera, not my cats), the moment has passed. And then there are other times when I think I'm about to get the perfect photograph, only to discover I pressed the button two seconds too late.

In this one, Charlie is *helping* me out with a close up. Or maybe he's about to attack the camera.

Apollo keeps one eye on me.

Sometimes Charlie will hide his face to avoid getting his picture taken.

Other times he simply plays dead.

He understands the words "treat" and "go outside," but doesn't get the concept of "hold still." Or maybe he does understand and just doesn't care to cooperate.

And then there are those little pink tongues ...

I'm sorry Charlie, am I boring you?

Oh, I see. Quit laughing at me!

* * *
Would you like to win some yarn? Check out
Dropped Stitches for a super delicious giveaway. Also, Yarnmarket is having a contest and the winner will receive $125 in Noro yarn (scroll down to the bottom of the page to read about the contest). Good luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quiet weekend

This is turning out to be a quiet weekend. I slept in this morning and then did housekeeping chores. It is cool and overcast today, and tomorrow it's supposed to rain. Nice stay-home-and-cuddle weather.

Charlie turned four years old earlier week. We celebrated with treats and toys. When he got in the laundry basket this morning, I picked it up with him inside and swung it around like he was on a carnival ride. Charlie liked it so much we did it a few more times. He is just the funniest, sweetest cat I've ever met.

I visited the wetlands close to my office on my lunch hour this week. I'm very interested in getting a new digital camera and learning how to photograph wildlife. I love my current camera, but can't seem to get the shots I want (which may be more my fault than the camera's). Since the photos I took at the wetlands came out rather boring, I played around with
Picnik to make them more interesting.

The California poppies are in bloom everywhere. It is our state flower and they are so lovely to photograph.

I watched all five hours of Pride & Prejudice last night and enjoyed it very much. I'm hoping to start a new and interesting knitting project this evening, but I'm not sure what it will be. How are you spending your weekend?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

That elusive bird (and movie talk)

You might remember in my last post I complained mentioned that I didn't have any luck getting a picture of a Great Blue Heron at the wildlife refuge on Saturday.
Well, I went back there the next morning after spending the night at a Best Western close to the refuge and finally got a photo of one. This guy was like, "Go ahead, take my picture, do you need me to turn to the left a bit? Shall I give you pouty?" It was a bit stunning after they'd been running (flying) away from me like crazy the previous day.

On a completely different subject, I recently watched Mrs. Henderson Presents on DVD and found Judi Dench to be adorable. As I watched the movie, it occurred to me I've never seen a Judi Dench movie I didn't like. She's the bee's knees. I'll admit Notes on a Scandal was kind of dark and creepy, but I didn't dislike it.

And then while I was at the Best Western, enjoying 10,000 cable channels (that's 9,990 more than I have at home), I caught Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley. It's been years since I saw it, and I was taken by surprise when Judi Dench made an appearance. This time she wasn't so adorable, but she was amazing. And I enjoyed watching that movie SO much that I wanted to go out and buy it the next day.

"You have bewitched me, body and soul ..." Shiver.

But instead I added the Pride & Prejudice mini-series from 1995 with Colin Firth to the top of my Netflix queue. I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it, and I absolutely love, love, love Colin Firth (and I know many of you do, too). It should arrive in the mail tomorrow and I can't wait to watch it.

Well, I guess that's it. Got a picture of a Great Blue Heron. Judi Dench is amazing. Love that Colin Firth. Jane Austen rocks.

Hope you're having a great week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A little adventure

I've been wanting to get away for a while now, so today I took off for a little adventure at the San Luis Wildlife Refuge , a couple hours from where I live.
The wildlife refuge is one of the best places I've ever found to go birding, but I've only been there in the winter, not in the spring. I tried not to get my hopes up about the birds I would see because it's much more enjoyable not to have any expectations, to just see what you see.

I knew the refuge would be very green and the wildflowers would be in bloom, and wasn't disappointed.

But there was one thing that surprised me ...
The refuge was empty. I had the entire place to myself. Well, okay, I did see a couple birders walking down the road, and one couple standing by their car taking pictures of an egret. But I was there for hours, and the refuge is huge! Why people weren't flocking to such a beautiful place is beyond me.

I drove through miles and miles of gorgeous grassland.

There were Great Egrets everywhere!

They are so beautiful in flight.

I lost count of the number of Great Blue Herons I saw. They are one of my top ten favorite birds, and today I decided if I were a bird, I'd be a Great Blue Heron. It was difficult getting a picture of one because they flew away the moment I came in to view, except for this one that let me get a snapshot of his head. I suspect he thought he was completely camouflaged.

On the drive to and from the refuge I listened to Committed , the new book by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love. I didn't think I would like it, but it's really good.

It was a wonderful day, and I loved having such a beautiful place almost all to myself. In addition to egrets, I saw lots of swallows, California Quail and another one of my favorite birds, Red-winged Blackbirds . I love hearing the sound of their call because it signifies that spring is here.

Hope you have a happy Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Itchin' for my knitting

My knitting kind of fizzled out over the last few weeks, but I'm hoping that will soon change. I only wanted to work on simple things, like my Lacy Baktus shown above. I made quite a few mistakes that resulted in unintentional lumps and bumps, but that's okay, I think I can live with it.

I'm itching to get back to my Ishbel. The stockinette portion is finished and the lacy section has begun. Every time I sit down to work on it I remember it's time to add a lifeline, and then my eyes glaze over and I tuck it away for "next time." I think "next time" might be now.

I received a newsletter from my LYS this morning and was excited to learn they are carrying new yarn in my favorite blend: pima cotton and silk. It is called Mirasol Wach'i and comes in eight colors. Mirasol is also offering a little book of Wach'i garments for women and girls. I have a twenty dollar gift certificate for this particular LYS, so my spidey sense tells me there will be a trip there in my immediate future.

TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association) is requesting feedback from knitters and other fiber artists. Please complete the 2010 Needle Arts Survey at . Whether you are a beginner or an expert, they need your input! This survey is only conducted every few years, and the findings will be published in a national report. You also have a chance to win one of five $100 needle arts gift certificates.

Please check out my sister's new blog, Adventures of a Mischief Maker. She is highly entertaining!