December 20th, How can that BE? Time is rushing by . . . we need to catch up!
38° this morning Girlfriends, still dark around the edges out there! Listening to my favorite MUSICA, and thinking of you. ♥
It’s been relatively quiet at our house . . . especially after Yankee Magazine left! The good kind of quiet. I’ve been working hard on our book, painting new bits of art for the English Diary. This Union Jack bunting was hanging all over England where we were there, crossing over the streets of every little town, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. I had to paint it into our book; it would not be complete without it!
In case you are new to my blog, I’ve been working on a diary of the trip Joe and I took through the English countryside last spring . . .
And you know what? I have 130 pages done! I think it’s going to be around 200 pages, so we are getting there! It’s fat, heavy, exciting to flip through and see it coming true. I love waking up in the morning and going into my studio to paint. Here’s the page I’m doing now . . . not quite finished! That’s Alice, my English girlfriend Rachel’s dog (below) . . . we stayed with them while we were there.
Every day I get to wallow in the memories of this wonderful trip. Did I tell you there will be an Index in the back of the book with links to everything? Oh yes, to places we went, bookstores and pubs, places we stayed, tips for what to bring, how to drive, what to wear; all kinds of things. So that’s how I spend these wintry days, wrapped in a shawl, hovering over an art table with my pen or my two-haired paint brush, thinking, what do they want to know next? And in-between time… I’ve been taking pictures around the house!
When I make tea or lunch, I keep my eye on the windows over the kitchen sink, not to miss the daily Cardinal gathering on our driveway. Look close, there are two males, and four female Cardinals there! Notice that the boys are guarding the area while the girls eat? Look how stand-up brave they are!
The girl’s feathers are so much more subtle than the boys; no wonder they fall in love with these handsome guys and mate for life. Wouldn’t you? They are wonderful husbands.
Here’s our kitchen door; Joe has finished putting up all his lights, roping and wreaths. We are decked!
And because of Yankee Magazine coming last week (to photograph the house for next November’s issue of the magazine), we are CLEAN and shiny.
Some of you have asked me to post photos of our pantry . . . I suppose this is about as good as it will ever look, just don’t look too close! That is Jack’s regular bird-watching post. My niece, Holly, painted the “Friends” sign for me when she was twelve. It was supposed to hang on my garden fence, it did for one summer, but I was afraid the weather would wear it out too soon. So in it came and there it will stay. Holly is twenty-four now and just about to graduate from college. ♥
Everything is neatly folded, more or less — on the pantry shelves! I had no idea what they might want to photograph so I needed to make everything at least passable!
Before they came, I washed all the “red” dish towels and hung them on the wooden drying rack in the pantry.
Jack likes the ironing board too, another good bird viewing position in the pantry.
This is sort of how our living room looks most of the time … empty, peaceful, clean. All I would need to do to have a party is add food and flowers. All I would have to do to redecorate completely is to remove the red, change the pillows and quilt for some other color (except I like the red too much!); that room is like a prop, really easy to change. Those slip covers are all washable, so don’t worry, come on in and bring your cranberry juice! The carpet has been there for almost twenty years!
And here it is, not quite as peaceful anymore, all the little bits and pieces that turn it into “Christmas” have been added, pillows, flowers, stockings, wreaths, roping, Christmas books, sugared fruit, a tree . . . . . . And Joe, the honey on the floor.
There he is, a contented man, cozy in front of the fire. Lately he is asking why we need to have a coffee table. Maybe you can explain it to him. He isn’t listening to me.
And here’s the mantle at night, and the clock ticking.
Was just thinking, I’m not sure if I showed you this chain idea — if so, ignore me. It’s so simple and easy … you pop a couple of thin nails into a hutch or bookcase, and then . . .
You hang a chain and fill the holes with greens and decorations. Jack, of course, helps.
Speaking of Jack, we brought our deer down from the attic, which was a bit of a surprise for Jack. He was full of questions: “What is this? Is this an animal? Have I seen this before? Why is there an animal on the table?”
“Hmmm, it has a bow. I like bows. I like to eat the skinny ones. But this one, maybe if I smell it, I will know what this thing is.”
“Or touch it. Those, the sticky-uppy things, what are they? They aren’t ears. Horns? This thing has Horns? Why? I think I’ll bat it, see what happens.”
“I’m leaving, this feels a little bit embarrassing in fact. To have a human who puts horned items on the table, why? It’s stupid. I need quiet time. “
“I need time to myself to ponder the reasons behind things. Like, what is life? Why can’t I go out there.”
and why is that thing behind me.
Because we love it when our little neighbor Iris comes to visit . . .
So all is settled down at Branch Hall. And last, I thought you might like to see one of my favorite decorations . . . for every year . . . I may be a little bit jerky with the camera, but I love the bells, and everyone who comes in here says … Oh, I used to have those … so guess what? Next year we will have them in our web store, just in case yours slipped away from you.
It’s a most wonderful time of year. ♥
I’m putting together a surprise Give-Away for next time Girlfriends, something very very homey . . . have a wonderful day! JOY to the WORLD! ♥ xoxo