Tuesday, November 29, 2011

feather collecting

chicken, turkey, hawk, turkey, duck, owl, peacock, woodpecker
I've been a real busy-body the past two weeks... doing my regular old waitress work, painting watercolors based on some ancient Islamic tile work and trying to compose a pattern from them for a lady's kitchen curtains, trying to re-create an out-of-print Moliere-themed fabric, making new pillow material for my own projects on Etsy, and getting ready to be a vendor at the Christmas Market that will be at the train station in Orange this Saturday.  I finally made bread (and already ate it up).  It has been magically warm the past few days.  The other night I had my door open for hours while I was at the sewing machine, listening to Chopin nocturnes, and I could even hear crickets singing outside in the darkness.  There were no bugs around to fly into the light, only a couple giant wolf spiders scampering across the floor, which don't bother me anymore... I got used to hundreds of them in my parents' basement during my childhood.  Yesterday while I was at my work table with the door open, I heard rustling and saw a flash of brown from the corner of my eye.  That scared me.  My impulse thought was 'rat'!  But the rustling was only the claws of a little bird on the floor, and he quickly excused himself back outside to the bushes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

good breakfast, good book

Most of the leaves have rattled down off the trees and it's getting pitch dark by five thirty.  It's almost time for pumpkin pies and snow and Christmas trees and parties where the fireplace is lit up and there's a great big pile of coats on the spare bed.  It's time to welcome winter and all the quiet and cold that comes with it, including rubbing globs of cream on chapped hands, getting used to going on walks when you can't hear very well because a hat or hood is rubbing your ears with the rhythm of your steps.  And in winter, warm food and good books become more important than ever.

Oatmeal is a common warm breakfast.  But I don't really like oatmeal very much.  Actually it's one of my least favorite foods.  I like thick slices of toast with butter melted into them in the mornings.  But since I have been lazy and haven't made bread, last week I put together pretty much the sum of all that was in my cupboard:  oatmeal (that I only had for the purpose of putting in bread dough), cinnamon, a granny smith apple, and maple syrup.  And I really liked it and have eaten it several times since.  Just boil the oatmeal on the stove top with a dash of sea salt (sorry, I don't measure or use timers... the oatmeal of course expands when it cooks and it looks mushy when it's done).  While the oatmeal is boiling, chop up any apple you like into little cubes and drop the cubes into a big bowl (that you would like to eat out of).  When the oatmeal is done, dump it over the apples, then sprinkle it with four or five big pinches of cinnamon, stir it with a spoon and then pour real maple syrup over it.  It is a good winter breakfast or afternoon snack and it sits just right in your belly.

And about the book... I have been reading Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay.  I found it by pure luck last time I was at the library.  It is not a very professional or intelligent practice, but I enjoy walking up and down the aisles of the library almost like a water witch, following my impulse.  I pull books off the shelves and open them to random pages and read passages.  If it feels right, I check it out and give it a whirl.  So I found Russian Winter like that, and it is the most beautiful novel I have read in a long time... it is not tedious or pretentious, nor is it formulaic or simple.  It is real and rich and of genuine, old-fashioned literary quality.  The characters are outstanding and the atmosphere and setting feel breathtakingly real.  If you are looking for a book to help ease you into a winter state of mind, and to make you feel completely content with a blanket and a cup of hot tea and nowhere to go, check it out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

William Morris

Daffodil Chintz 1891 furnishing textile by John Henry Dearle, who designed for William Morris
"The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make."
           - William Morris

Friday, November 4, 2011

one downy feather

Today is grey and windy.  A perfect day for naps with strange dreams, or thinking about the little boy in Roald Dahl's The Witches sitting with his Norwegian grandma in front of the fire telling stories and mending socks.  It's the kind of day when forgotten smells bring you vivid, unexpected memories and the past seems to want to lure you and wrap you up in a heavy fate-like blanket.  I  was so lost in these kinds of thoughts and feelings while I was out walking that I gasped when I heard the sound of a big old sycamore leaf rolling along the packed dirt behind me in the lane.  I'd expected to see a person or an animal when I turned around.  And I especially liked this feather caught in the leaves.  I wonder if it was from a hawk or an owl?