Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Grandpuppy Came to Visit

This lovely spot is a horse farm in the county. The Bradford pears are stunning in fall and spring.
Look who came to visit grandmummy and grandpappy for Thanksgiving!!
He brought his parents too.
Philip and Kara swung by Julia's college and picked her up, so we had those three for Thanksgiving. We had the big dinner at church with a table full of friends. It was a very jovial, delicious afternoon!
Beyond dinner with all the trimmings ... this was all the trimmings and then tons of extras!
Julia got to see old friends ~
And Philip deep-friend the turkey!!
The moistest turkey I've ever tasted -- there were no leftovers.
Don't believe the deceptive calm of this photo; Charlie and Trixie wrestled and played and wore each other out straight for four days.
Yes, he is just as adorable and downright beautiful as he seems.
I pestered everybody until at last we drove down for Philip and Kara to see the Vandemere Waterfront Park. Charlie chased his frisbee.

This park is quiet, hardly used, and immaculately designed. It's Pamlico County's best kept secret.
I'd better add a photo of Trixie for my mother, who wants to see more of the newest pup. Mother, she has "Cleopatra eyes" like Katie the Dog used to have. She's getting taller.
At Philip's suggestion, Adam bought Trixie a set of bells. Charlie learned quickly to ring them when he needs to go outside. 
Will Trixie learn that fast?

I've slowly kept illustrating my story about Punkin and the baby mouse. Here are a few more pages.

That's the end of the first half of the story. Wait till you see what happens next! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

To the Morning

The kids have left after Thanksgiving break, and the house returns to its quiet state. I'm in my little studio; Adam is outside gathering mown grass. Philip brought me a turn table. We've listened to Christmas music from old albums I've not heard in decades, L.P.s my parents had when I was very young.

But this morning the house is mine alone, and I pulled out the music I've been longing to hear.
I've studied the older generations, and now I study the younger ones, and I'm convinced we folk who grew up in the 1970's have a slightly different view of life. Neither my parents nor my children seem to understand my love of folk music, its gentle voices and strings and heart-wrenching lyrics. I miss Dan Fogelberg. My favorite of his albums is his first, Home Free. My favorite song on it is the first, "To the Morning." The thin violins fading in like the glow before sunrise. The simplest of melodies, the most innocent of lyrics.
And it's going to be a day,
There is really no way to say no to the morning.
Come on morning.

As I lowered the needle onto the vinyl and heard the scratchiness meld into the violins, and then his voice, it brought back my youth, and I missed it in spite of its unhappiness. In the midst of the unhappiness, and helping to overcome its emotions, was the music of my youth. With my friends I listened to Abba or Barry Manilow or Chicago. But in the privacy of my room I listened to Fogelberg and Joni Mitchell, sometimes Art Garfunkel. From them I learned all my complicated harmonizing abilities.

Dan Fogelberg is dead now, dead in this dead world at least, but I think very alive in the next. He was only 21 years old when his first album came out. He died of prostrate cancer at age 56. His words seep in and grow deeper as I age.
And maybe there are seasons,
And maybe they change,
And maybe to love is not so strange.

The sounds of the day, now they hurry away,
Now they are gone until tomorrow,
When day will break, and you will wake,
And you will rake your hands across your eyes,
And realize that it's going to be a day.

Perhaps that's as good as description of death as any -- a new sunrise, a new beginning, inescapable. Not the ending sunset but a new day with its brightness.

Christmas music will have to wait until I've reunited with these old friends. 
And a few others. I know my parents will remember these covers:


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Giving Thanks

 The photo above shows the Oriental Methodist Church communion table, laden with harvest beauty. Below is the overflowing cornucopia from St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church. They added twinkle lights!!!
 Our community Thanksgiving service was Sunday evening at the Catholic church. Such a lovely service, lots of music and scripture reading. Below are more decorations from that sanctuary.

I've been negligent in my autumn journal. Here's a new page. I attempted some lettering in the style of Susan Branch and discovered how very HARD it is. She must have endless patience and amazing skill, not to mention years of practice.
 And this page below is just a silliness I put in my journal. The ink ran a little; it's hard to read.
 I distressed the page to make it look old and tattered, as if from some ancient traveler. It says:
"I swear it is true. I boarded the train, began to read 
this strange book that lay on the seat beside me, fell into sleep, 
and woke in a place and time foreign to me. 
The only object that transported with me is the book."

I showed you the lovely, deep red coverlet and pillow shams I bought at the thrift store. Suddenly, the lamp in that bedroom no longer seemed to suit (on the left).

I covered the shade with some fabric samples I've had for a coon's age. Now I think I need to paint the base, yes?

 On Sunday afternoon Adam and I visited a friend nearby who hatches chicks and loves to swap things. A lady wanted chicks from her and offered some raw alpaca fleece. My friend had no need for alpaca, but she likes my soap ... so we had a giant 3-way swap, and in the end, I received 3 bags of fleece -- two bags of white and one bag of gorgeous dark brown.
I long to learn to spin, but I don't have money for a spinning wheel. Spinning can be a pricey hobby. I don't want to buy cards either, but I have two nit combs, the kind you use to remove lice from a child's head. I've been combing small amounts of fleece with them while watching T.V. It's so relaxing!
raw alpace fleece
combed fleece

 Here's a nice ball of alpaca fluff!
Here's a youtube video of a beginner like me, who found cheaper ways to process your fleece.

Last night Philip, Kara, and Julia arrived for Thanksgiving, so we're busy and cooking and playing with dogs and all manner of family things right now, so I'll sign off, wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are spending it, and with whomever you are eating. May you benefit from a thankful heart and contentment in what God has given you!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fruitcake from Afar and Christmas in a Jar

 Adam's mother is a wonderful cook, and each year she sends various goodies to family and friends. Today a package arrived with a moist, delicious fruitcake, plus some beef jerky (which Adam has asked me to hide most of, so he doesn't eat it all right away), lots of her homemade caramels, and a fun book too! I'm looking forward to the fruitcake.
It came all the way from central Nebraska to the North Carolina coast.

Henny Penny posted a Christmas jam recipe on her blog, and I made a batch this afternoon. I'll put the recipe at the bottom of this post.
 See the space in the bottom of the jars? I did the "upside-down" method of sealing, and this jam is so thick, it didn't want to come down after I righted the jars. It's very yummy -- cranberries and strawberries.
Bless my hubby's heart, he's been working SO HARD to repair our roof. The entire roof is old and honestly needs to be replaced. However, only this edge (shown below) was causing leaks inside the house. He repaired it once, but it still leaked.
So he removed his repair, removed the gutter, and inspected -- he found a mess!
 Above you see new flashing he put on. The edge of the metal roof was rusted and crumbling to bits. Previous owner had applied more roofing, several layers, but it was a soggy mess. Adam removed all the bad metal, shoved new metal flashing way up underneath, put a second layer under that and wrapped it under the fascia board. He sealed it all with tar and other things I know not of. (He had tar all over his hands.) Then today he painted that roofing paint over it all -- two layers.
I'm quite proud of him. It's been a long, discouraging repair. He did his best job, and he did a thorough job, and it was a pain in the neck, using only an extension ladder by himself. We have rain coming tonight; we shall see if the house responds well to this treatment!

Christmas Jam

In a large non-aluminum pot:
12 oz. fresh cranberries
20 oz. frozen strawberries, thawed
4 cups sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
Combine berries and sugar in pot over medium/med.high heat, stirring often, until boiling. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add pectin. Return to a high boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Immediately put into sterilized jars and seal.
Makes seven 1/2 pint jars.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I wrote a short, simple children's story, one designed to be read aloud, perhaps as a good-night story. Nothing fancy -- the story of Punkin, a hen, and a mouse that she befriends. I typed the story, copied it into a homemade book (made with mixed media paper), leaving room on most pages to add illustrations later.
It's later. I finally bit the bullet and started coloring with pencils and painting with watercolors. Here's what I have so far.

The little red mushroom seems rather out of place, but there it is.
I added text around it to make it fit in better.
I sketched Punkin first, to get her right.
I wanted this first picture of her to give a perfect impression to the child seeing the story.

Here's Punkin, or "Punky," as I call her.
I did some watercolors and some sketches. 
Since the book is just for me and the grandkids, 
I figure I can do what I please.

The mouse below I sketched from studying
a mouse Julia drew for me. Hers is so good.
I cannot sketch animals from my mind;
I must have a photo or other image to copy.

This is the real rat hole in our coop.
This baby mouse I compiled from images on google.
That's it so far. Let no one think that we have a grandbaby on the way yet -- we do not! But I will be ready when we do!
I've been working on herbal teas. These are two I've put in tins so far. I also did some peppermint today. The one on the right is dried leaves, so they're rather crumbly. The thyme leaves are green.
I've been drinking thyme tea for 24 hours, and I believe it's helping me keep a cold at bay.
I went to the thrift store today looking for a book I'd seen there. (Drat!! It was gone! It was Susan Branch's Christmas book.) Instead I found this lovely bed spread and two shams, all for $8.
Isn't it lovely? I adore that deep red color. This is on the guest room bed. It cost less because the edges are a bit worn, but otherwise it's in beautiful condition. I will donate two other blankets, attempting to keep from being a hoarder.
That's it from me today! 
I'm loving this painting activity. 
It's very relaxing. I'll never be a real"illustrator," but if I have fun and make books for little grandies, that is all I want :)
Eight pages down; about 22 to go.

All artwork, images, and text are copyrighted by M.K. Christiansen