Monday, December 17, 2012

delivery route

One of the pleasures of having an Etsy site is mailing off orders.  I love post offices, and the one in Orange is especially nice.  And now that I live in town, I get to bike there regularly, with the parcels in my handy bike baskets....
 past the neighborhood cats....
 wrong way up (haven't gotten in trouble yet) the ramp in front of the library and behind the courthouse...
 over the crackly pavement...
 under the tree....
 that grows beside the church where my aunt & uncle got married...
and into the post office!  It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it smells wonderful... the sweet smell of ink and newspapers!
A man I met in line told me there is an identical post office to this in the small town he grew up in in Pennsylvania.  I should've written down the name of the town, but I didn't, and I've forgotten it.
Maybe one day I'll rent one of these boxes.  My grandma has one here, and when I was little, I used to come collect the mail here often with my Grandpa.  I've never had my own post office box key before.  There are tall wooden tables for finishing up addressing, packing and form-filling, and even a very old scale for weighing.
How many palms do you think have been on this doorknob over the years?  I have also forgotten to ask when this post office was built.  Sorry.  I will try to remember to ask next time I go.
And the upper far wall is decorated with a mural painted in 1937 by Arnold Friedman.  He titled it "Upland Pastures" and was paid by the Treasury Department under FDR's New Deal.  Not only is the ambiance of the post office lovely, but the ladies that work behind the counter are always kind and helpful.  One of them has two daughters that I used to baby-sit for... and she is so thoughtful that she even surprised me with occasional letters when I was in graduate school in Ireland.  She got the address from a card my grandma was sending to me.  These are the joys that come from small-town life!  I also really like spying on the set up behind the post office windows... canvas carts, wooden cubby shelves... I'm sure I wouldn't appreciate it as much if I worked there full time, but as an outsider it looks inspiring and inviting, and I would love to have my own workshop someday with similar tools and atmosphere.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'tis the season

I love the deep of winter, and think of Christmas as being its gateway.  A season of reflection... to re-calibrate your mind on principles of love, faith, generosity and positive energy.  The trees show their bare architecture, the frill of grass and bushes and ground cover die back to reveal the raw contours of  the land, and  the cold and dark allow you the space to get right to the essence of your heart and mind.  It's an ideal setting for savoring your thoughts and feelings, and shaping and nurturing plans based on them.  And then of course one of the most beautiful and simple pleasures of the winter is citrus.  I'm still enchanted by winter oranges, and think that a box of Florida oranges and grapefruits are one of the best Christmas presents you could ever get. 
And clementines are especially magical.  You can carry them in your pocket, they are quick and un-messy to eat, their smell is exquisitely uplifting, and when you get a good one, they are powerfully flavorful and juicy.  Plus, I'm definitely in the camp of people who believe that vitamin C can have miraculous effects on the human body.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Meet Louis!

It all started when I was in sixth grade and got obsessed with the idea of having my own pet dog.  I researched and researched and set my heart on a cocker spaniel.  I was especially inspired by stories about Snappy, the black cocker spaniel that my dad and uncle Nectar had when they were little... and who alerted my grandpa when my uncle fell through the floor of the house next door that was still under construction.   Anyway, about twenty years ago, I did get my own cocker spaniel named Winnie.  I had so much fun with her, roaming around the fields, lounging around talking to her, teaching her tricks.   Over the years we've had a constant succession of cocker spaniels... Eleanor, and Roly, and lastly Benny.  But we've been dog-less for over a year now, and my mom has been wanting a new puppy.  She had a birthday this past week, and we REALLY surprised her. My brother found the puppy on-line and I rode with my dad to Dillwyn to pick him up.  He rode on my lap all the way back to Orange.  He is perfect - velvety fur on his nose, sweet little eyelashes, skunky puppy breath, and he's very smart and affectionate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcome Christmas!

 I won't have a Christmas tree this year - not in my apartment - because construction on the ceiling is still pending.  I'm disappointed that the ceiling hasn't been fixed yet, but I'm not disappointed about the tree.  Trees are for sharing with people, and I don't think I would want one here by myself even if there weren't the trouble with the ceiling.  Like every year, I will help trim a wonderful tree in my mom & dad's living room.     No, their tree isn't up yet - it has to be done in my mom's time, which is usually at the last minute.  In the meantime, at my apartment, I spent a happy evening haphazardly stringing lights around my kitchen windows.  I have a little rosemary plant with a gold paper star pinned on top and little gold beads tied on... I have starry looking dried grass seeds, and I have porcelain NOEL letters that I found at the Goodwill a couple years ago.  Somebody lovingly glued the "E" back together after it'd been shattered, and I think it's just perfect.  So now I look forward to dusk falling in the evenings so I can plug in the Christmas lights... it's such a good feeling to walk into the glowing kitchen to put the kettle on for tea.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

past and present

Remember last October when my mom, sister and I went to Atlanta for the Country Living fair?  Well, finally, FINALLY after a whole year, I've been selected as one of the "Pitch Your Product" winners, and a snapshot of one of my pillows will be featured in the upcoming issue of the magazine, due to be on the newsstands around November 20.  I just wish my sister were here... but she is in the army, stationed in South Korea.  We've already decided that when she comes back home, in about a year, we will live next door to each other and cook up all kinds of artistic endeavors!  I miss her so much.  My mom is still here, thank goodness, and has been so nice to me as I go through a wild range of moods in preparing for the magazine to come out, and at the same time moving out of my bedroom/studio so that the ceiling can be torn down and repaired.  I've made bunches of new stuff for Christmas, and have updated my Etsy site.
Pillows are piling up! 

The good thing about moving is that it's great for material object evaluation and control.  If you don't love something, clear it out of your life and give it away to the Goodwill so someone else  might have a chance to discover and love it.  William Morris of course said it best: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  That is a real northern star of a principle... so basic and straightforward, makes so much sense, and is the foundation for anything you would ever need to think about in regards to creating a living space that can support and comfort you through life's trials, joys and in between times.  So many people don't give proper weight to the connection between our outer surroundings and inner emotions.  Anyway, having to consolidate my home from two rooms to one is allowing me to experience new combinations I'd otherwise have missed.  I've got a lemon tree in my bathroom...

along with rosemary and chocolate mint (growing on the toilet)!  And who knew that talking on the phone while sitting in the middle of a doorway could be so comfortable?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

after the storm

my old, non-working barometer
 I'm grateful to be able to say that I didn't suffer any negative consequences from the hurricane.  My houseplants and I woke up to a cozy home with foggy windows, and outside the kind of thick white cloud cover that makes for lovely soft daylight.

 There is just one minor thing.   The ceiling in my bedroom/studio has a terrible leak.  It dripped languorously throughout the night, and then around 10 this morning, the drip turned into a frantic, steady stream.  Thankfully it's stopped now, but the ceiling plaster is cracked and bowing, and my landlord came up to have a look.  He says he is going to have to cut a big hole in the ceiling to make the repairs.  This is going to be an interesting event - coinciding with my preparations for Christmas orders.  I may have to uproot my whole studio and temporarily transplant.  But I've already decided to make it as fun and fluid as possible.  I wish it could be otherwise, but things could be far, far worse.  So I may as well see it as an adventure, and go with the flow!
my leak-collecting pots!

Monday, October 22, 2012

kittens in the garden!

 Every Sunday after church, I go to my parents' house to visit and do laundry and spend the day.  This week, when I went out to the garden to get some lettuce for my sandwich, I found a litter of five fat kittens!!  Two grey and white, one solid grey, one tabby, and one black and white.  They made me feel like I was in elementary school again!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

fall, from a balcony

 One of my favorite things about my apartment is the little balcony off the kitchen.  It makes such a difference to be able to easily go outside with a cup of tea, or to eat breakfast or lunch or dinner plein air.   What more could I ask for on any morning than to be able to step into the treetops in my robe!  This first picture I took a couple weekends ago.  I had rushed home from the quilt show to change into my waitressing clothes and eat quickly before going to work at the restaurant.  I took a few minutes to sit and enjoy the cooler air and the leaves starting to let go one by one.  Today while gathering my thoughts, I had fun watching a group of doves preening and dozing and puffing up their breasts against the chilliness.

And here is the honey that I suited up the other week to witness being harvested.  I really wanted to help Hunter bottle it too, but I didn't get to do that.  But here it is - he kindly gave me a jar.  Beautiful... it almost looks as warm as a fire in the hearth.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Barn Sale!

entrance to the shabby love barn sale at 130 E. church street in orange!  8 a.m. - 5 p.m. this saturday and sunday!
All done setting up my booth at the barn sale!  I was up late into the night tagging, organizing, etc. and then hauling things around this morning... up and down lots of steps... but I managed to get everything there in one car load and one extra trip on my bike.  The 'barn' is one of the oldest buildings in town and it's a beautiful, rustic space.  I did stir up quite a bit of dirt in sweeping my spot before I set up, and another girl knocked away a wasp nest with the broom handle.  I smell like sweat and extra-old dust with a hint of cobweb... but it feels great that everything is in place.  I think it's going to be a wonderful event.  Now I have just enough time to take a shower and sit down for a few minutes to enjoy a celebratory glass of sparkling apple juice before my waitressing shift begins!

little owl heat therapy pillows for kids, made out of a bunch of fabric scraps I'd accumulated  over the years.   filled with u.s.a.-grown rice infused with pure lavender oil, and French lavender buds.  something warm for kids to take to bed on cold wintery nights!

note cards 

I've loved The Sound of Music since I was little.  Made this tiny pillow in honor of the excellent advice of Mother Superior!