Winter, Animal Kingdom & Downton

More winter, more animal kingdom, Downton and . . .  MUSICAspring!Not really, just kidding.


Conflicting reports on whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not, abound. So we better enjoy this winter of 2015 while we’ve got it, because we don’t know how long it will last. But we definitely have it now, and boy do we.  Boston got 40 inches of snow in the last seven days.  It’s not as bad here, but more than we remember having before.



So we stay hunkered down and enjoy the show . . . because around here it’s mostly animal kingdom. (In fact while I’m writing this, I just saw the turkeys go past the window on their way to the feeders!)


Yesterday there were three squirrels chasing each other around the feeders at the same time, up and down the wisteria trunks, over the top of the arbor, vying for space at the feeders, so cute. I could only get two in my lens at once . . .

squirrel play

Wet and snow spattered . . .

Jack watches

Jack’s right there, enjoying the show . . . I put my head right next to his and we watch together . . .

squirrel at feeders

It goes on all day . . .

squirrels on ice

Squirrels making themselves at home . . . 

did you see that?

Do you see that?  Are you just going to let them do that?

snow birds

And then, look at the birds waiting their turn on the branches in the background . . .


Love it when I catch them in mid air . . .



There are three feeders and a suet cage outside the kitchen windows  . . . the wall between the windows kind of gets in the way of photos . . . it’s like a giant fish tank for us while we cook or do dishes.  Highly entertaining.

path through the snow

Our house “sounds like an ant farm,” says Blog Daddy, from my description of the paths Joe has dug coming from every door, to the street, to the feeders, the trash area, the barn, and the wood pile . . .

Joe at the wood pile

Joe loves it out there . . . here he’s pulled back the plastic to fill his apple basket with dry firewood. . .

Helping Joe bring in wood

Of course Jack misses nothing . . .

Playtime for Jack

He has a well-rounded day . . .

He loves the fire

He LOVES the fire and will sit and stare at it for hours.  Like mother, like son. 


I sneak up on him . . .


working on new calendars

. . . and while all this nothing is going on here in Smallville, paint waterI’m working on the Calendars for 2016, asking myself, as usual, on every month, “what would the Girlfriends like to see?” I’m on September of the wall-calendar now . . .

I also have the mini calendar to do, the big blotter, the purse calendar and the little magnet.  I paint and write most of the day.


my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

wearing them out

I’m wearing out pencils with all the drawing I’m doing.  When they get low, they become “kitchen pencils” ~ they go into the jar in the kitchen ~ as opposed to drawing pencils.



You know how much Jack loves to retrieve pony-tail bands I shoot for him?


He deserves to live forever, one way or another, preferably both. This is me immortalizing Jack.

Jack on the stairs

Because this guy is an original.

He wants it so bad

He could play like this all day everyday.  But I have to get those calendars done!


Girl has found a new place to sleep.  On the red checked pillows I got at Ikea the last time we were off-island.  But as soon as I come with the camera, she leaves . . . so we are lucky to get this pose from Queen Victoria Girl Kitty.


And even though it is still like this outside (10 degrees this morning) . . .

hibiscus grows in winter

Upstairs the hibiscus is in full bloom in an east window of the “blue room” — which could also be called “the junk room” . . .


The flowers just keep coming. We don’t do anything but water, and I think this plant is happier here than it was on the porch during the summer.

life is good

And we have a fire everyday . . .  for the sound of crackling and hissing, because it’s warm . . . and to give Jack and me something to zone out on.

Downton Fireplace in the LibraryIf I couldn’t have my own fireplace, this would be my second drinkchoice ~ this one in the Library at Downton Abbey . . . It’s hard to have a favorite room at the Abbey (we’re now such good friends I feel I can call it “the Abbey”), but this and the dining room are my favorite. I think it’s because of the elegant carvings over the black fireplace, but there are also gorgeous red sofas in here, it’s dark and romantic and perfect for “cocktails.”

Mary and Tom and the kidsThis is why I like Lady Mary and Tom together. I know I won’t get my way, because Charles Blake is very charming and he and Mary do have chemistry ~ and maybe there is something wrong with marrying your sister’s widower who used to be the chauffeur.  But times are a’changing, as we are only too well aware, and how about for the children?  I think they would all be perfect together.  

Did you watch?  Goodbye Miss Bunting!  Hooray!  I thought maybe she wouldn’t go and screamed OH NO when Tom jumped up to go say goodbye; I hated it when they kissed but then, deep breath of relief, he let her go.  I loved it when Mary said, “Are you happy now?” at dinner. Bye-bye, Miss Bunting, you give Bunting a bad name.

Union Jack bunting

I don’t see why Julian Fellowes didn’t give Tom a perfectly lovely normal feminist to fall for, there had to be one in England at that time ~ they couldn’t all be dinner ruiners.  “Feminist-socialist” does not automatically equal “no manners.”

watercolory flowers

I haven’t mentioned it, but didn’t you love it when Violet was remembering where she met her Russian Prince, the Ball at the “Winter Palace,” and what she wore . . .  “powder-blue velvet with silver lace?”  Made tears in my eyes.  Would have loved to see Violet dancing in that.  Would love to see her being courted by a Prince too. What he might lack in hair laundering I’m sure he would make up for in manners.

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

I’m sure she was beautiful.

Downton Abbey Clothes

She still is, just like her granddaughter.   If nothing else, I would watch for these dresses and what they put in their hair, their jackets and hats.  I love this show!


Poor Edith.  Someone is going to see her making that phone call in Carson’s office.  Probably Mister dark-circles-under-his-eyes.  Have you noticed that no matter how sick Barrow makes himself, he stays mean and sneaky? No more, but no less than before.  He’s on an even keel when it comes to scheming. You’d think he wouldn’t have the energy for it.  One other thing.  Cora suddenly looks, and acts, like an all-American Girl. Golly!  Poor Robert is confused to the point of needing a time out.  OK, that’s enough, now you tell me, what did you think?


Bye from cold, icy, wintry, sunny, bright-white Martha’s Vineyard, from Joe, Girl, Jack and me . . . and Smallville, USA. I’m off to get my warm pair of shoes from in front of the furnace!  Be sure to try the Punxsutawney Pudding and Spareribs on the February page of the Calendar, I promise you deliciousness! 


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Part 2, Historic Storm, Martha’s Vineyard, Smallville, USA. MUSICA



The morning after, just before dawn . . .
isn't it romantic

storm door

Yesterday, the morning after/during the historic blizzard of 2015, the first thing I did when I got out of bed was pull back a curtain to look out the window.  The wind was still blowing wild outside and I was excited to see what had happened overnight. I should say I tried to look out the window, but I could see nothing, they were plastered with snow. When I got downstairs I tried again; I started laughing when I saw the storm door in the kitchen.  I tried to push it open, and was stopped by a wall of snow.

watercolor flowers


I couldn’t see what was happening at the bird feeders either . . .



As it started to get light, the view was a little better on the other side of the house.


from the window

But the storm was still going strong . . . terrible winds, blowing snow, cold, burrr…. just like it’s supposed to be this time of year, but hasn’t been.  We wanted it and we got it.



Pefectly wonderful, heat from the furnace streaming across the kitchen floor . . .

cozy at home

We were lucky, we kept our electricity . . .homeJack loves the fire

Inside Smallville, warm and quiet, home is paradise.

oatmeal with apples

Breakfast, Irish steel-cut oatmeal, blueberries, chopped apples & walnuts with cinnamon in my favorite breakfast bowl because it holds lots of milk.

The Duchess

While the storm continued to beat across the island, I painted all morning, glancing up at the TV from time to time to see The Duchess with Keira Knightley (it’s available on Netflix).  What a great movie, all about the amazing, sad, but interesting life The Duchessof Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, 1757-1806, who lived at Chatsworth (Go here for lots of photos of our visit to Chatsworth); it’s where Queen Victoria went to her first grown-up dinner party when she was a sixteen-year-old Princess and that’s where The Duchess was filmed ~ I recognized rooms. (P.S. SO much history here; Jane Austen visited Chatsworth and it’s believed that she used it as the model for Darcy’s estate Pemberly in Pride and Prejudice.) Amazing costumes in this movie too. 

neighborhood excitement

And while all that was going on, this is what went on outside my studio windows. The first intrepid souls were venturing out . . . getting stuck, digging themselves out. People drive around with snow shovels in the car.  They are smart, as one of our Girlfriends said, this is not their first rodeo. :-)


The birds had kicked off the wall of snow that was stuck to their feeders, and were going at it.


Don’t you just love red in the snow?

Daddy cardinal

So decorative!

wonderful bird cup

Time for more tea in my bird cup ♥

love birds!

I’m truly a bird person from way back. (Made fabric with letters at one time, I was designing a pillow with it.)


This is the female cardinal . . . she is pretty, but mostly reddish brown, not like her bright red husband ~ Cardinals mate for life,

cardinals kissing

Snow garden

country bootsSoon it was our turn to venture forth . . . I wore the tall cozy comfy “Toggi” boots I bought in England that are impervious to weather. Snow lands on them, they don’t stand for it, they repel it right off; I came in with no snow on my feet! It was 22° outside. Brrrr. I would say, “Girlfriends, you owe me one for this,” but in reality, I probably owe you.  Maybe I wouldn’t have done this if you hadn’t asked, and it was wonderful. So, thank you!  

feeding the birdsw

Look how pretty, I’m standing in front of the barn looking back at my kitchen door and windows.  See Joe’s little path on the porch?  See the red cardinal?

Joes handiwork

Joe did this, up to the barn and out to the street.

front of house

And here we are, in front of the house

fire hydrant

That’s a fire hydrant.

walk to town

The slippery walk to town  . . . It’s not an insurmountable amount of snow, but we do think it’s the most we’ve seen here.


Icicles make nice pictures, we took photos of every icicle in town.


So pretty, sparkly, drippy . . . magical forest type stuff.

downtown vineyard haven

And this is Main Street in The Haven. If you’re familiar with the island you know where we are, up at the end of the street, near the stone bank

Bunch of Grapes

And here is our bookstore, Bunch of Grapes, Smallville, USA, an island tradition since the early 1970’s.

shoveling snow

The guys are out shoveling in full force, like Joe, I think some guys love it.  Joe can’t wait to get out there after a storm — this one wasn’t wearing gloves!  While ME, my fingers are inside leather and on fire from how cold they are.

snow shoveling

I like to take pictures of snow in mid-air.


More snow, more mid-air.

snow plowing

We had to dodge these the whole way.  No one yelled at us, “Get home, get the #@!*% off the street, let us do our jobs,” but I’m sure some of them were thinking it. We ran when we saw them coming.

Main street The Haven

This is in front of Midnight Farm, the store Carly Simon started.

main street vineyard haven

Not too many people going to work!

Main street

Cheryl (Stark) owner of the jewelry store on the left, will have a bit of a struggle before she gets through her door.

drug store

They’ve dug a narrow path to the drug store entrance on the other side of this wall of snow.main street

Which is being moved away by one of our island heroes . . . 

women heroes

Or heroines.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these intrepid souls.  Late at night, while the wind is howling and the snow is coming down in weather not fit for man nor beast, we hear the muffled sound of snowplows going by, see the beam of their headlights bouncing off the wall, and get exactly the same feeling we had as children after we went to bed and were lulled to sleep by the comforting voices of our parents talking in the living room. Safe and protected under warm blankets because we know someone is up and taking care of things.  Someone brave and strong and selfless, like a hero.

Boston Marathon finish line

Speaking of which, did you see this?  It’s the finish line for the Boston Marathon.  Some unknown person has kept it clear of snow. When I see something like this, it makes me so happy . . .

what a wonderful world

new england in the snow

Walking home through the quintessential New England streets — these houses were all built in the 1800’s. Nothing very much changes around here.

the neighborhood

I had to move here; I was afraid I might never get a house like these and I could not live my life without one.

holly oak in the snow

My first house on the island . . . Little and perfect and all mine.

home sweet home

out and about

She’s going to dig out the Day Care Center at the church.  Look how happy she is!

picket fence

This, my darling girls, is a picket fence.  Upon which gladiolus grow wildly in the summer.

I'm glad for gladiolus

a shoveled walk

Some path-diggers cut through the snow like precision jewelers. They say we got 2½ ft. of snow . . . drifts make it deeper in some places, but looking at this, it seems about right.

path to town

Yes, slippery, we huffed and puffed.  It was hard work keeping on our feet!

our house

We walked around to the backside of the house to see what it looked like from the back driveway.

deep snow

For about two seconds we contemplated trying to get to the back door from here . . . but the snow was way too deep to walk through; some drifts would come over our knees . . . we had to trudge back around to the front to get in.

SB Border

me, the threat

This block of snow was lying in the street, I tested it by first kicking it . . . when it didn’t come apart, I thought:  Ooo, perfect snowball.  But of course I didn’t throw it at him, only threatened.

SB Border

having tea

No they are not. Some are just having fun.

Dancing teapots, who can resist!Time for tea

And home, for another cup of tea, more watercolors of clocks, lammies, flowers and written words of love.  All’s well in Smallville.

Home sweet Home

Nothing like coming in from the cold. Worth going out!  It’s cozy wintergorgeous this morning, the snow is so bright in the sun, people need sunglasses out there; still freezing, street still covered in snow, which seems like it may stay for awhile.  We have two more storms on the way.  It’s good.  I have work to do, and now I don’t have to suffer wishing to get into the garden.

flower-border  Oh yeah, almost forgot why I’m here:

Mr. adorable

. . . as cat-picture delivery system.  Everyone needs a purpose, their true calling. :-) This is my Raison d’être  (A very useful French phrase meaning “reason for existence.”)

Neatness counts

Other raison d’être. We are keeping busy. XOXO Bye for now, Girlfriends, hope you enjoyed the Blizzard of 2015! 

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