Posts filed in: Pets

Parks and Playdates

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Oh my, the busy days! A lot of these photos were on my phone. We've been busy around town and busy at home. Amelia went to a week of pottery camp and is doing tennis camp this week. In between there have been lots of visits to parks with friends and having friends over and swimming with friends and just generally having a lot of fun. It's wonderful. I try to take these big vertical photos to show you the big trees at our playgrounds. At least the playgrounds that this mama prefers! (Some playgrounds literally have no trees and no shade, and I honestly cannot handle those.) It's hot today — 97 degrees forecasted — but really, until today, the weather has been absolutely perfect this summer. Eighty degrees and sunny, sometimes cloudy (yay!). Once it stopped raining, the sun came out (mostly) and the local gardens absolutely exploded with joy. We needed that rain so, so much. A few months of spring rain has made summer living just blissful. Absolutely blissful. I'd forgotten that the grass could be green, the plants could survive, the trees could look quenched in July. Well, I am loving it.

Next week is Andy's and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Egads!!! That means we've been together for thirty years now. Silver anniversary. Instead of getting a silver present, we bought three little gardens to plant in our raised beds. We got one August Afternoons and two Summer Dreams pre-planned gardens, all from High Country Gardens. They shipped to us back in May and we planted them then. The plants were very small and a few did not make it. But all of the rain we had this spring — oh man. What a lucky, lucky break for us and these little gardens. Everything got watered in so well and now it is just lush and growing beautifully. The above picture is from the day last week when Andy planted a few of the replacement plants I bought at Portland Nursery and Amelia was helping him dig and tidy. We weeded everything, trimmed the vinca and clover, and fixed the willow fences, and everything is looking so pretty now. (In the picture there are a lot of oak leaves on the ground, and I'm now remembering that in the days before it was really windy one night and a ton of leaves blew down from the neighbor's trees — that was weird, because they usually don't do that.) But anyway, that area looks better in real life now than it does in that picture and I will take another one to show you how nice. I think I really recommend these gardens. We have replanted that areas so many times. Over the past twenty years it has been a rose garden, many failed vegetable gardens, a random wildflower garden, a random flower seed garden, and kind of a messy dahlia garden. BUT NOW it is going to be an August Afternoons and Summer Dreams garden and I am absolutely determined to take care of it and not replant this area again.

The tree to the left of Amelia in the picture is a gnarly old plum tree that dies more every year. I'm fairly certain it's almost a hundred years old and it has had so many large limbs that have died and then been trimmed that it just looks horrendous. It also drops cherry-sized plums all over the sidewalk which explode upon landing and make such a mess that people actually cross the street rather than walk past our house (like right now — they're falling now). We are going to apply for a permit to have it removed and replace it with an Eddie's White Wonder dogwood I think it is. Or a Venus dogwood or a Starlight — any opinions on these? (There's a list of approved parkway trees under power lines that we have to choose from.) I hope our permit gets approved. You can't really see the tree in this picture but it has a large, low-hanging limb that hangs over the driveway into our neighbor's parkway and it is dead now. There are sooooo many of these plum trees around Portland and they all look to be really ancient and just totally gnarly. The plums are sour as anything (and are super tiny to boot) and the trees just get so covered in lichen and suckers and, I don't know. They're pretty gross. I wonder if they were all planted at the time these neighborhoods were built in the 1920s. I have no idea how much it is going to cost to remove the tree, or plant a new one. I'm scared. I hope it's not a huge amount of money. We've been putting this off for a while. We were told the last time we got the tree trimmed (maybe four years ago) that it needed to be 50% dead to be removed, and ours was only 40% dead. Pah!

Anyway, mid-July. I'm taking a pottery class at the community college down the road. I went to my first class on Friday, having completely missed the actual first class the week before because I read the date wrong. I literally almost cried. I was just sitting around doing nothing, anxiously awaiting the start of my pottery class!!! Hello! I threw two pots in the class. Well, in open studios, too. The class is from about 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and then open studios (where you get to just practice on your own) is from 1:30 until 4:30. My second pot took me two hours, I do know that. The clay (B mix?) was so, I don't know, sturdy? I couldn't get the pot "open." I didn't want to mess it up! Which was just silly. But I mean . . . let me just say . . . how unbelievably awesome it is to just sit there for two hours and throw one pot. I didn't even care. The music was on, the other students were so sweet and friendly, the teachers were just great. And I just sat and centered the clay and then opened the clay and then pulled up the sides. For two hours. One pot. Me to teacher, at 3:30: "Paul, I want to throw another pot but we only have an hour!" Paul, drily: "I could throw an entire dinner set in an hour." Hah! Paul. Gahhhh, it was so amazing. I was there from 9:30 until 4:30, all by myself! I don't know the actual last time I spent seven entire hours away from either Andy or Amelia. It's been years, guys. Y e a r s. It felt like the most ridiculous luxury. Throwing pots! Listening to non-Minecraft music! Not rushing because no one needed me to do something other than what I was doing, and nothing had to be cooked or cleaned there, and no one was crying about anything, or needed to be driven somewhere! Oh have mercy it was an exquisite indulgence, and to think I missed the first class!!!!!!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the orders these past few weeks, as well. I am so grateful for your orders and your interest and enthusiasm — thank you so much! The Stitcher's RSVP kit is almost sold out and I haven't decided if we will re-issue it. I have some extra evenweave fabric from kits over the years that I am going to try to use up before buying more. The minimum amounts I need to order from the distributor have increased (for certain fabrics) and I just don't have the numbers that I used to to make doing large quantities of kits an absolute no-brainer like it used to be. 2022 was the year I was supposed to be getting my patterns ready for wholesale (along with, you know, 2021, and 2020, blurgh) and I am going to focus on that when Amelia goes back to school in the fall. I swear I am going to! That said, I have lots of new ideas, so I will have lots of new patterns — they just might not all make it into kit form. We'll see. It's been a long few years and I've been doing my best not to just get . . . lost in space. Like everyone else, I'm sure. One foot in front of the other. That said, A Tender Year: July hasn't even been designed yet. It'll all get done eventually, I hope. Maybe just not during this actual tender year. But when I have more help from Portland Public Schools.

Some good shows: The Great Pottery Throwdown (obbbbbviously). We've watched it two or three times now (and the most recent season is so great). We really liked Signora Volpe (kind of a cross between Miss Marple and Under the Tuscan Sun). I just finished bingeing all of the seasons of Line of Duty on the recommendation of a friend and that was intense! If you have a child, we all really liked Just Add Magic. I also really liked Redemption, though Andy didn't see it. I love television.

This Was May

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This was May, though there were a lot more necklaces, paintings, flowers, books, getting cats out of trees, worry, and tears for the state of the world. A lot more tears. And helpless, seething anger and fear for our children's futures. Every night I fall asleep to a sleep story (right now, Humphrey in Rio) on my Calm app, taking big, deep breaths and listening to the traffic outside. In my head, when the story finishes and I'm not yet asleep, I throw imaginary pots on the potter's wheel, slowly centering clay, feeling it push against my hands, feeling myself attempt to steady and control it. I'm terrible at it, in fact. The clay spins and slumps.

The weather has been warm but still very rainy, generally speaking.  The sweetest thing is watching Agatha learn how to be outside. At times we're still unsure about this decision we've made to let her Out. But she, mostly with great caution, has been going outside for about a month or two now, ever since the weather has warmed up. The backyard is fenced and she mostly stays in it (though we did find her in the driveway a few weeks ago, which is why I say "mostly"). But mostly she literally creeps around the backyard, trying to move so no predators see her, apparently. She listens to the birds and sniffs the air and lays on the warm bricks in the sunshine, watching little bugs crawl in and out of the cracks. She sits on the back porch and tilts her face up toward the sun. She runs over to me, meowing loudly — it's genuinely like she's trying to talk to me, and tell me things about Outside — whenever I come out. She sits under the thick hood of climbing hydrangea against the wall when it rains. Three times she's run straight up the trees — twice up the apple and once up the dogwood, each time going way too high. Making the choice to run up a tree gets you a swift trip back into the house. (Andy and I look at each other, grimacing, picturing ladders and balancing and trying to grab a cat that is trying to stick every claw into you while you teeter precariously. Great.) We bring her in whenever we are done worrying about it for the day, or whenever we leave the house. But her joy — her absolute wonder and pure delight as she sprawls out, furry belly splayed on the hot wooden stair, listening to birdsong — you can literally sense it, and it makes me so happy. I wish you similar, simple joys.

Amelia and I have been spending several hours every week in the children's department at a suburban library. She gets her homework done and I sit in a big chair and read and read. I don't know why we didn't do this all year, but we only started a few weeks ago. It's really nice. She's motivated to finish the homework so she can go play on the library computer. I'm thrilled to have several hours of enforced reading time that I don't normally get/take. I've finished two books there since we started going (one was Northern Spy and one was The Secret Place; not sure I recommend either, actually). Not sure what I will read today.

Thank you very much for all the feedback about the books that Amelia is reading/listening to. I really appreciated the discussion about Anne with an E (and Harry Potter). I think I will watch that Anne myself sometime and save the Megan Follows version for Meems this summer. We are almost finished with reading Anne. And now I really have no idea what we should read this summer! I like reading the classics out loud to her because I know she probably wouldn't pick these up herself. But she really likes listening. Hrmmm. What next?

Last (and late): A Tender Year: May is finally now available. Thank you so much for all of the sweet ideas for this, and I'm so sorry for the delay. Hoping to have June finished before July, I swear.

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** Thank You **

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Thank you so much for all your kind words about Clover. We read every comment and were moved to tears several times. I am so touched that there are still so many of you who remembered when we got her back in 2007 (and even those of you who remembered Audrey). I find it just so touching that people take a little moment to think about a little dog they've never met in real life, and wish her well on the next part of her journey. Thank you for doing that, and sharing that with our family. It really helped me and I am grateful for your gentle kindnesses here. Thank you.

We have been working like crazy on our yard. I was sitting in the hot tub a few mornings ago just staring out at the backyard, feeling proud of what we have done. I realized that both the front and back yards felt a bit like the secret garden. We had kind of neglected the back yard, especially. Dead leaves, dead plants in pots, yucky hydrangeas covered in old brown blossoms, broken pots. A very gnarly porch rug covered in black stuff. Empty planter boxes on the porch. A ton of crabgrass in the front borders. Almost nothing but strawberries, a few calendulas, and a forget-me-not in the raised beds in the hellstrip. I mean, it happens, over the winter. This is all pretty standard. But it had been a while since we'd really done a thorough accounting of our plants, and really tried to get nice stuff (even a few perennials) into our many pots (I counted a total of 31), and had bought compost to mulch the beds. So we started cleaning out old pots, going to the nursery to get a few things every week to plant in them, moving strawberries from the raised bed into pots in the backyard, planting the planters with stuff that will be pretty in a month or two. We ordered two yards of compost and had it delivered to the driveway, and Andy spent the weekend covering the beds in brown paper bags to keep down the weeds and topping it all off with several inches of compost. Trimming back the ornamental grasses, which have grown monstrous and probably need to be divided. Planting a few clematises to replace our big one that looks mostly dead. (They often looks mostly dead in spring before they leaf out, but this one looks particularly dead.) Amelia and I started a new hobby of constantly checking NextDoor (neighborhood app) for new postings of free plants and, when we saw something good, jumping into the car and hauling across the neighborhood to be there first (and, we often are!) So far we've gotten a clump of pink phlox, a bleeding heart, and, yesterday, a whole bunch of purple alliums! That said, you get what you pay for sometimes — by the time we got to the bleeding hearts, the plant had been completely run over by a car and was smashed to smithereens. We still took it home and planted it. I even got that darling green table for twenty dollars! So, everything was looking so pretty. The apple and dogwood trees were about to bloom. The tulips were in full flush, the daffodils were finished, the magnolia was flowering, the hydrangeas are fully leafed out. And then at 3:30 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and look at this:

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SOB! Noooooooo! Oh my stars. Absolute chaos. I had heard rumors of this in the forecast but never thought it'd hit us here on the valley floor. It was literally 76 degrees three days ago! And now it's 36! We hardly get this much snow even in the middle of winter, let alone almost mid-April. So, school is canceled today, even online school for us, due to many power outages around town, and I know there are many downed big trees from the pictures I'm seeing on the news. I mean, many trees are fully leafed out or heavy with cherry blossoms or other blossoms right now so, oh my. They say we haven't seen this kind of thing in eighty years here. Quite unusual and I won't lie, I want it to melt immediately. I was absolutely and totally ready for and indulging in spring.

I have my April design for A Tender Year ready, and I just need to proofread it and then post it. I will do that tomorrow or Wednesday, I promise. I got behind in my work and Amelia got really behind in hers while Andy and I were busy with Clover, and it was a unique kind of challenge (I don't want to repeat) trying to get her caught back up. She was about eleven or twelve assignments behind and wow, that was a first. Do not recommend. Anyway, my April design is ready and has been photographed and I just need to get back in my swing. I was able to send another check (for $110 this time) to the Ukrainian Bible Church last week, so we altogether sent $360 to Ukraine for the month of March. The war continues to rage on in a horrendous way. It's just terrible. I pray for peace daily and it's just . . . absolutely heartbreaking.  I can't even find words.

I am reading The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman and it is very compelling. I am only about halfway through it. At night, I've been watching a lot of Monty and Gardener's World and also these two very light shows that I just absolutely love: One is Baby Ballroom, about little kids (and some tweens) who do ballroom dancing in England, and Old Enough!, about toddlers running their first errands in Japan. I think they are both on Netflix. If you can get a chance to watch Old Enough!, try to watch Season 1, Episode 7. Or also Episode 4. I'm only on Episode 16 myself (they're short, probably fifteen or twenty minutes each). Oh my gosssssh. I am fascinated.

XOX

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It hurts my heart to write this and tell you that Clover Meadow passed away last week. Andy took this picture of her and Agatha on the occasion of Agatha's first time in the yard just a few days before. Clover was almost fifteen years old. I know that some of you have been reading this blog that long and will remember when she was a puppy. Honestly, this is so hard to write. Amelia is sitting behind me at her desk about to start school and I'm afraid I am going to start crying again. I've been putting this off for days, hoping I won't. I am inadequate. She was the sweetest dog. The end was hard. Clover. I miss and love you. Rest in peace, my darling, sweet friend.

Autumn Skies

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The weather has certainly changed and fall is here here here. The yellows are vibrant, the skies are gray. Amelia and I found a glorious patch of cosmos flowers near the muddy soccer fields near Reed College. Purple and pink, glowing in the rain. She doesn't have any Zoom meetings on Wednesdays and I just love that. The wet woods receive us, their slippery, leaf-covered paths slick with shining maple leaves as big as your head. We stop and get chai and hot cocoa on the way, and Amelia desperately wants to carry her cup into the canyon. She has visions. I try to accommodate if they don't mean that you fall down a flight of stairs (there's a flight of stairs) into the pond. The days while the leaves will still be hanging on the trees are drawing to a close. Soon the black branches will be bare, and it will rain more, and it will be colder, and wetter, and harder. Goodbye, social life! It was nice knowing you!

At home, I work while she's in school. This week I've been making a database of all of the brick-and-mortar cross-stitch stores around the United States. It's taking me a long time, but I like this type of torpid busywork. When I get tired of that I go back to reformatting my patterns for eventual wholesaling. By "reformatting" I mean a couple of things. They need some text changes and omissions; my patterns tend to be pretty beginner-friendly, and people who shop at cross-stitch stores generally don't need instructions about how to, say, press their fabric, or use a cross-stitch chart, or frame their work, etc. I also made an executive decision, based on some discussions we had here around this issue, to only offer wholesale printed patterns with black-and-white, not color, charts. Black-and-white charts are also (from the anecdotal evidence I've found and the pros I've asked) the industry standard. For almost two years, since we had those chart-y conversations, I've offered black-and-white charts in my PDF patterns, but I still print only color for my kits (and I will continue to do that). But printed patterns for shops will only be available in black-and-white. And before I get them all printed, I have to do a lot of reformatting of my files — re-exporting new charts and redoing the color-chip lists. I had my graphic designer, Greta, make new product line sheets and an order form and stationery for me, and it's all so pretty (she always gets where I'm trying to go, even better than I do).

I'm stitching on my winter design and am almost done. Next year I've decided not to do as many seasonal designs, mostly because they really lock you in to the calendar! And I need more freedom right now. I have some other design ideas. It probably won't work but we'll see. I really want to be a part of the cross-stitch community but I don't think I'll ever have a floss-tube (i.e.: a YouTube channel where you talk about cross stitch). I just don't have time to watch it and I definitely don't have time to do videos. But I think it's great that they have such a vibrant community when so much of blogging has fallen away (personally heartbreaking to me, but hopefully it will come back — if you have a blog, please comment here so I can check it out!).

I've been trying to buy some new lamps for our home. Almost all of our lamps are the same ones — simple stick lamps from Ikea, over ten years old by now. We have at least ten of them that I can count offhand. The problem with these (I'm sure I've mentioned this, I am obsessed with it) is that they use chandelier bulbs and you can only use Ikea shades with them. (You can't use clip-ons because, chandelier bulbs.) Well, Ikea makes only one shade for these lamps right now and they are dark gray. So, blah. I would cover the shades I have but they are all made out of basket-woven wicker. :| Except for the kitchen ones, which are black, and with a bunch of pleated fabric on them they would be completely opaque. So I've been surfing Wayfair (I need matched pairs and have joy for retiring) for hours, looking for new lamps. I've been doing this for like a year. I can't seem to commit! Ah, silly obsessions. Thank goodness for them!

Chit-chatting about the little things here. Tell me yours.

I'm kind of taking the rest of the day off. Andy is home to run homework this afternoon and I've ordered some lunch (banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese coffees, my weaknesses) and I'm about to start the colorwork on my Soorik tunic. (I still need to make an entry for that, sorry.) Amelia is going to be a "vampire queen" (her idea) for Halloween (I did not make this costume, I just bought it online) and she and Andy will carve pumpkins tonight. It's supposed to be sunny on Sunday which is really wonderful. Halloween on a sunny Sunday, wow!

***Her sweater is here. It still fits, yay.

It’s A New Year

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Happy New Year, guys.

Eeeee-yipes, am I ever lazy. That's January. I usually lay around. The other day I stayed in my nap dress and got back into bed and put my computer on my lap to work on my cross-stitch pattern and watched TV all day. It was glorious. Andy busted out laughing when he came upstairs and saw me, a stack of dirty dishes next to me on the nightstand. I'm finally starting to get into lockdown. Nowhere to go, no one coming over, nothing to do, no guilt about that! I did feel vaguely guilty about not even getting dressed. I only get to do things like this when Andy is home, of course. Generally he works four 12-hour days in a row, and yes, I am almost shrieking by the end of Day Four, especially when Amelia decides to throw a wobbly right at bedtime. Why is it only at bedtime?! It only seems to happen on Day Four. It's only Day Two today, so hopefully we're good. . . . I can’t take it.

Last night Agatha Kitten was just attacking me relentlessly for an hour! Biting my hands, stalking then lunging at me, and trying to jump up from the side of the bed to get under the covers and claw my feet. What is her problem! She was possessed. She just wouldn't stop. I put her in the hallway and shut the door and then she howled and banged on the door. I'm not kidding. I got up and let her in and she just started biting me again. She is a very bitey cat. It's been so long since I had a baby cat that I can't remember how long this attack-stage lasts. I remember Violet when she was little attacking my feet under the covers, too. That's very annoying. I'm ready for her to start acting a little more mature instead of like a rabid goblin. (And, BTW, she did very well with the Christmas tree and couldn't have cared less about it, but she was absolutely obsessed with the decorated mantel and went up there almost every day and tried to throw things off of it and knocked everything over regularly.) She has no fear and is utterly indifferent to our displeasure. But then she can be such a little lover! Agatha is like a Garbage Patch Kid. First she's sour, then she's sweet. Currently napping sweetly and adorably on the sofa next to me.

I cleaned the house for several hours yesterday. It was so messy. We put all of the Christmas stuff away and I redid my mantel with nothing but a few fake candles, a fake snowy owl, a little vase of fake eucalyptus, and two baskets. I ordered new curtains to cover the shelves on either side of the fireplace (they hold nothing but all of our photo album and old VHS tapes that we can't part with on one side, and a bunch of toys and junk on the other side). I used to have two matching curtains for those shelves but apparently one is lost. I might get two new lamps for the tops of those shelves. We just really need a change. I have two little Ikea lamps up there right now and I've probably had them for twelve or thirteen years. I don't like Ikea lamps because you can really only use Ikea lampshades with them (unless you want to do a clip-on, on the lightbulb). Ikea lampshades are kind of lame. I enjoy surfing Wayfair and maybe I'll do that later.

Andy got his first vaccine on December 26. He gets the booster in ten days or so, depending on his work schedule; I can't remember. So grateful for this. Beyond words.

I got a plug-and-play hot tub for my birthday! It's absolutely awesome. We go in it almost every day. It's really, really good. We need a cover lifter. I don’t enjoy staggering through the mud trying to heft a giant cover onto the table so we can get in when I’m here alone with Amelia.

Currently obsessed with documentaries and reality shows about polygamous cults and other cults. Naturally. Andy was mildly disapproving every time he came in and saw me watching Escaping Polygamy again, goggle-eyed, munching on my lemon cupcake in my nightgown and pointing at the TV like I can’t believe this! But then he'd sit down for one second and start watching it and couldn't look away! I told him! And have you watched Wild Wild Country? Rajneeshees in Oregon. Andy and I are glued. We have one episode left. Incredible story. Well worth watching this. ***Finished it: WOW. What a film. I highly recommend it.

Good times!

I have three embroidery kits I am working on. One is a new 6"x8" seasonal cross stitch (to fit an 8"x10" frame), one is another little hooped wreath (for spring), and one is the embroidered jewelry I was making last year. I'm trying to source everything for that now. I've never done this kind of kit. It will include four pendants with jump-rings and chains, and one pin. I think it's going to be really cool. I am happy with my cross stitch design; I was inspired by woodcuts and I think I have pretty good ideas for all of the upcoming seasons, too.

I hope you are all well and cozy. Tell me what January is like for you.

School Is Cool!

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We made it! We made it through the first week of school, and it was seriously awesome. I could not be happier, and Amelia is over the moon. She's asking to do school on Saturday and Sunday. How sweet is that. It's so much better than I expected. I haven't felt this much peace in ages. Our teacher came over on Wednesday. I could've sat and talked to her for hours. She's just so cool. Amelia can definitely stay enrolled in her school and participate in the school's distance learning, and this was such a huge relief to me. I didn't even know how big of a relief it would be until the moment of confirmation, and then I literally felt a weight lift. Her teacher said that they would have a Zoom meeting every morning and then have both computer assignments and assignments that she could do in an actual notebook. Group cheer! Let me just say, and those of you who have computer experience and small children right now know, it is trippy to watch them navigate the mouse and, like, place and resize objects (like stars and hearts) on their selfies, and write with pen tools, and just do stuff like that. I mean — does that not totally blow your mind? I definitely didn't teach her to do that. I think it's wonderful. Watching her morning meetings, seeing all the little kids on the screen wiggling, falling off their chairs, looking so much older, with their sweet little bedheads and their kittens and their bowls of breakfast cereal, my heart overflows with love for all of them, and I realize that I have missed seeing them all so much. I used read with many of them as a volunteer in the classroom every week. Since Mimi is in a 1st/2nd grade split class, half of the kids are the same from last year and I know them. The other half are new first graders, and we know some of them, too. They're all just so sweet and cute and wonderful. The teacher asks them to un-mute themselves, one by one, and tell everyone their favorite color. The second kid to go says "turquoise" and then at least half of the class follows by also saying turquoise. :) I text Andy as I'm watching, See, this is why they need this. They need each other, even if it's only on-screen right now. This is real, these windows of life, too. They are in this together.

After her class meets at 8:30 every morning, we then go into the dining room and do circle time, and then we start Queen Anne's Lace Homeschool. We've been drawing, printing, doing cursive, playing the recorder, painting, reading, and learning to crochet. Today Andy did social studies and science with her. Math starts next week. Also French (were using Muzzy BBC).  We worked on crochet for the first time yesterday. It's part of the Oak Meadow curriculum. It was your basic disaster. She got super angry when she couldn't make a foundation chain. I watched her hands and thought, "Hmmm, yeah, this is too hard. Her left hand is not coordinated enough to hold the chains and the working yarn, and she can't make her right hand manipulate the hook at the same time. It's okay. We'll try again another time, maybe in a few months." She was so mad she threw the hook across the room and then sobbed. I was cool — it's okay, honey, it's hard, it takes a lot of practice — and we put it away and went on with the day. And then last night after I got back downstairs after putting her to bed I found on the sofa her yarn and hook and a foundation chain of about seventy-five chains that she had done quietly while I was making dinner. She didn't even say anything. I couldn't believe it! And that moment was a gift that I'll never forget, and I think it will be a good metaphor for this year. Note to self: Don't underestimate this kiddo. She will surprise you!

Took the kitten to the vet today. The way they do it is that you come to the office, call when you get to the parking lot, they come out and get your animal and take it in, and then the doctor calls you after the exam. The doctor was adorable. I don't remember his name but I've never met him. He was gushing about Agatha: "Oh my gosh, she is adorable! She's just so cute, she has such a cute face, I mean it's like round, but fluffy, and it's just so cute! Everyone was freaking out she was so sweet. She let me do my whole exam without any problem. She's adorable!" I was laughing. He gave me the report (she's healthy, but has a slight heart murmur). At the end he goes, "Okay, they'll bring her out soon. The girls are taking selfies with her right now." Ha!

Such a proud mama of all my little girls!

* Meet Agatha *

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We got a new kitten. Her name is Agatha. Isn't she adorable?????

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We love her so much! She is so utterly adorable and sweet! I've never had a kitten like this. You can turn her over onto her back and she'll just lay in your arms and let you rub her tummy. You can pet her anywhere on her body and she loves it. You can pick up each of her paws and play with her little pads with your fingers and she doesn't even flinch. She is so totally relaxed. She wants to sit on one of us all the time and her purring is intense. She is so cute and sweet and adorable and loving, and the most chilled out cat I have ever seen and I can't believe she's ours!

Goodbye Bee

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We lost our little cat Bridget this weekend. We'd known it was coming for a while but, even knowing that, it was still so hard. She was twenty years old this spring. We found her when she was a baby kitten. She was always pretty feral. I kept thinking back to the one time she'd ever sat on me in all the years we lived together. It was that first morning she lived with us. At the crack of dawn that morning I'd crept into the guest room (guest room because Violet was stressing) to visit her. I was so excited. I laid down on the floor on my stomach and rested my head on my arms. She came over and climbed up onto the back of my legs and tucked her little feet under her like a tiny roosting hen. She sat there for ages. I didn't move a muscle. I remember just having the biggest smile on my face — a kitten! Sitting on me! We had a new kitten! She was sitting on me! Everyone else was asleep.

She was such a cute kitten, all fluffy and wide-eyed. It was early spring when she came, just after St. Patrick's Day, and we named her Bridget. She was gray, white, and peach, and for some reason she always reminded me of a feisty little Irish girl. She was really feisty. That first morning when she came and sat on me just because she felt like it? Never to be repeated. Ever. She did not like to be picked up, she never sat on our laps, she hissed at everybody (hissing kitten!), and you could only pet her on the forehead or behind the ears while not looking at her. You could pet her if you looked at something else, like something across the room or to your side. But if you pet her "wrong," especially while looking at her, she would punch you right in the face. It was clear after those first few days that she had never been handled by people, and had probably been born outside and had spent the first six or so weeks of her life before she came to us outside. Neither Violet (who was five when we came to Portland from Missoula) nor Bridget could be kept indoors. (When Violet was still a kitten in Missoula she actually jumped out of a second-floor bathroom skylight and got out onto the roof [which she fell off of, into a bunch of hosta plants in the side yard]. We weren't home at the time. I remember that when we'd left the house, she was there in it. When we got home, she was nowhere to be found, and not a single door or window was open. We could not find her and we literally looked in every single place she could be. Eventually, after exhausting all rational options, I noticed that the skylight in the bathroom ceiling was open. It was sort of a flat plane of glass that was like a casement window that you could push open a few inches; one of our roommates had probably taken a shower and left it open, never thinking it would be a problem. She must have literally jumped eight feet straight into the air to get to it, or somehow vaulted from the sink and grabbed the trim with her claws. We ran outside and standing looking around the perimeter of the house, and there she was, sitting in a big plant.) She just wanted out. All the time. And Bridget was the same. So from very early days our cats always went outside. Violet was almost eighteen when she passed away in 2012. Both of those good girls spent most of their time outside and still came home every single night of their lives. They were so good about always coming home. I really appreciated that about both of them. They were so reliable in that way.

The Bee spent most of her days lounging, or hunting, or running off any other cats that came anywhere near the house. She had a funny little trilling, chirrup-y meow that I can still hear in my mind. She was light as a feather and quick as a whip. She would sting you if you weren't careful. If she ever walked across someone's lap, all of us, the whole family, would freeze and hold our breath. She made Clover nervous every single day. She enjoyed the neighbors' yards more than ours, and we frequently got reports from our neighbors on either side that she was sunning herself on their patio tables. The goal of her life since about 2015 was to walk across all my stuff (knitting pattern/counter/embroidery floss/pattern papers/scissors, etc.) on the sofa and knock it on the floor and then come around behind me and drink out of my ice-water glass. Every single night. She'd also, before the days of the sheep fleece (see below), stalk and harass me until I finally got off the sofa to go to bed and then she'd be in my spot so fast; I would literally still be scooching toward the end of the chaise lounge in my nightgown and she'd already be in the warm depression I'd left behind. She brought in probably a half-dozen birds over the years, which was so distressing I can't even tell you. She lost every collar and every bell that we tried to put on her. Every single one. She was free and she wanted to be free. I know she loved us in her Bridget way and we loved her in ours.

She had been mostly inside for the past couple of years, but she'd still go out on the back porch and lay in the sun during the day when it was nice. Slowly, as she got more and more arthritic, her territory shrunk, and since this past autumn she'd been mostly sleeping on a pile of handmade quilts in her basket (which was originally baby Amelia's gorgeous Amish basket, with the wool-stuffed cushion) under the sideboard. A few months ago I found our sheep fleece that we'd gotten at the flock and fiber festival in the basement for some reason. Amelia had taken it outside and it had some little pieces of sticks and grass in it, and I'd been meaning to brush it out. We brought it up and put it on Clover's bed, and Clover Meadow absolutely loved it.

And so did Bridget. :))) The picture above was taken a few weeks ago by Amelia with my phone. Clover's face makes me laugh so hard. She is so nervous because she's literally about to get run off by Bridget. Which she was. Repeatedly. Within seconds of that photo, The Bee was on the fleece. Eventually we just gave the fleece to her and put it in her basket and then she hardly ever, ever came out of her basket. And for these last few weeks I think she was just about as comfy and cozy as a creature could possibly be, and that brings peace to my heart.

She was such a little fighter girl until her dying day. Andy and I counted at least two separate times — once about four years ago, when she had an infection behind her right eye, and again about five months ago, when she had a seizure that messed up her back permanently — that she literally fought her way back from the very edge. This time, this last seizure she had on Thursday was too much, and it broke her tiny, fragile body.

We buried her in the front border, very near the driveway where we had found her all those years ago. It's a nice place, under the plum tree with a view of the birdbath, and we'll be able to see the spot from the dining-room window. I know she is at peace, and so is Violet, out there, too, just a few yards away. And so is our beloved first dog, Audrey, who we lost so long ago now. All of them such good friends to us, for so many years of our lives.

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Goodbye, dear little Bee. I love you and miss you. Rest now, and be well, little darling. Be well. XO

Sweater Weather!

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Good day! Hello! How are you? Hellooooooooo! It's me. I've been bonkers busy and I'm so happy I finally have time to sit and write. Hello! [I'm waving.]

* * * T H A N K   Y O U   S O o o o o o   M U C H * * *

lovely, lovely people for all of your orders over the past couple of weeks. I'm so excited about the new kits and lotion bars and it's always just so nice to get your feedback after scurrying away behind the scenes for so long. Things are coming together and it feels great! Kady (new assistant) is sitting across the room writing postcards to go into orders in the next weeks, and yesterday she packed up our little business card packages, and Andy is about halfway done pulling floss. Next he'll start cutting fabric. Kelsey has an infant so she's at home in her kitchen making hundreds of lotion bars for me. Amy's darling daughters are wrapping and date-stamping mini-skeins for the advent calendar at their house. Kady and I dyed thirty new skeins of yarn on Monday, and those will be mini-skeins for the advent calendars soon. It's truly like a hive of activity around here, and I like it. It feels as if we are squirrels ourselves, industriously preparing for first frost. School has been awesome. At home, there are new railings on the front stairs and new scents being tested in the kitchen. Yarn is being wound, and there is lots of knitting, and I'm teaching myself to make candles. Amelia has been drawing and writing and creating little books constantly. Andy's been cooking for us and there have been park visits and neighborhood adventures. We're getting ready for his parents to visit, and for Amelia's big family birthday party in a few weeks. Everyone is excited! I'm doing that embroidery (from this pattern from Florals and Floss) on a bodice for Amelia's birthday dress that I need to finish. It's go-time.

Pictured above is the Sorbet Mini sweater I'm knitting for Amelia. The kid's pattern is only in Danish, so I'm using the English version of the adult pattern (which I made for myself but apparently haven't photographed yet; I will do that) and plugging the kid's numbers in. She saw my sweater and wanted a mini version, so I had to cast on immediately, as you will when your child shows even the slightest interest in your knitting. I have so many things I need to get up on Ravelry that I haven't yet, so don't bother looking for this from me there. But I will do that soon. I have a basket full of WIPs, it's crazy. All I want to do is knit. I splurged on some yarn from Churchmouse Yarns (along with a candle and a bar of soap) and I'm planning to make Amelia a Volo sweater with that after seeing Kyrie's on Instagram the other day. (That picture just literally destroys me. It is so gorgeous.)

Amelia was home with the sniffles yesterday so we made applesauce muffins, which is one of my mom's recipes from my childhood. They are so delightful.

Applesauce Muffins

2 cups Bisquik*
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

*If you don't have Bisquik (I don't have it but my mother always did, and this is her recipe) you can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder and then add in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, as well.

Mix ingredients together until just combined. Fill 12 muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let cool a bit then dip top in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar.

And here is the recipe for applesauce that Andy always makes for us and it is wonderful. I know it seems odd to use the microwave but this applesauce has a really fresh taste that is so much nicer than cooked applesauce on the stove top, in my opinion:

Applesauce
from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

2 McIntosh apples
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Halve and core the apples: peel them if you like. Cut each one into 6 wedges or 1-inch chunks. Combine the apples, water, and lemon juice in a deep microwave-safe 2 1/2-quart casserole. Toss the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and add to apple mixture. Cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir, pressing apples into liquid and return to microwave. Cook for another 5 minutes. Using a hand blender, mix apples into applesauce.

Would you also like to make carnitas? We used this recipe from The New York Times and it was absolutely scrumptious.

Pictured above is the rainy afternoon bath I was taking last weekend. I was in the happiest spot — perfect water temperature, vanilla bubble bath, bath pillow that my dear mother-in-law gave me for my birthday, reading Little Women — right before Andy almost cut the tip of his thumb off (thank you for saving it, fingernail) and Amelia went outside to talk to some people (?!?!?) and the dog started barking her head off and running down the front steps to the sidewalk (never, ever does she do this, but naturally she picked that time to do it, and it turns out she was talking to/barking at a fellow neighborhood Cardigan corgi named Mulberry). Andy howling, then wandering out with a bloody dishtowel on his thumb and his face white as a sheet and not explaining anything, Clover losing her mind, Amelia talking to strangers. It was full-on Donnybrook. Naturally, by the time I had hauled myself out of the tub and dried off and put my clothes on the situation came back under Mr. Paulson's control (he's okay, and Clover came back up the stairs, nonchalant, as if nothing had ever happened). I should've gotten back in the water but I didn't. Nevertheless, that tub and that book and I are going to need to reschedule. I want to make my own soap and bubble bath, too. I got one of those things that covers the drain on the tub and lets the water get really, really high and it is literally life-changing.

Oh, and also thank you so much for all of the kind words and inquiries about Amelia's portrait from a few weeks ago. I painted it myself. It was a total fluke, I literally don't know how I did it, and I'm pretty convinced it was magic, so naturally I haven't tried to paint or even thought any more about it since.

***The cowl is an advent calendar sneak peek . . . :))) More on this soon!

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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