Revisiting Old Books

I’ve been slowly going through my old PieceWork magazines. Today I’m back visiting January/February 2005, reading “Frocks, Cloaks, and Pumpkin Hoods: Dressing for Winter in Nineteenth-Century New England”. It’s a great article. However, I’m amazed women survived going out wearing thin stockings, silk shoes that look like ballet flats, and low-necked coats. Most of the article’s clothing examples are from the early-19th century. And yes, there is an illustration of a pumpkin hood made of quilted black silk.

I’m inspired to re-read some of my Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, or Dickens novels. Will I feel like I can “see” the pictures created by the authors if I know what a pelisse looks like? Maybe not, but that time period may feel a bit more solid to me.

There are some great knitting patterns: an Old Shale shawl designed by Evelyn A. Clark, Danish wristlets designed by Nancy Bush, a bead-knit tank top designed by Lily M. Chin (daunting), and Selbu mittens that you knit and embroider, adapted from a design by Heidi Fossnes (not listed in Ravelry). I’ve been working on a red version of the Danish wristlets. Now that I’m on the second wristlet, the pattern seems easier. I may end up making a bunch of these for holiday gifting. If you do cross-stitch, the site has a free pattern of a heart with Quaker motifs for the month of February. Maybe a little late for Valentine’s Day planning, but something to consider for next year.

This edition of the magazine is still available for digital download, according to the Long Threads website.

It’s 2021

Orange cat with paw almost obscuring the lens of the camera. White and black whiskers, pink nose, amber eyes.

All I can think of doing right now is tapping the metaphorical mic and ask, “Is this thing on?” A global pandemic has made every celebration a bit odd. We’ve been reading the news, about infection spikes in different countries’ populations. I have fingers crossed for family, friends, and former and current work colleagues. Hopefully we can squeak through to a world where visiting a museum or traveling to see parents is worry-free.

So, how is it going in your neck of the woods / corner of the world / sleepy burgh / oddly quiet city? There is more peace and quiet now that the fireworks on random evenings have stopped. Christmas catalogs from 2020, as well as Christmas letters have arrived. Maybe the last of these will show up by Valentine’s Day? Who knows?

An old house thing

Some of those things they never tell you about old houses:

  • Sometimes you need to kill off trees that grow into the basement.
  • No room will ever have walls that are straight.
  • There is no such thing as quiet AC.
  • There may be ghosts, but you won’t hear them over the AC.
  • There’s a hall light switch in the linen cupboard.

It’s been a week of maintenance, mostly by outdoor experts. And while I love having higher ceilings, nicer views, and a stairwell for the cats to romp on, there are days I would trade it all for a house with modern fixtures.

Not a creature was stirring

… not even a mouse.

So wrong. After observing lots of enthusiastic hunting by my furry assistants, I’m baiting the catch and release trap again. Raphael will be sad when his interactive toys are gone. Last night’s toy sat meekly in the trap with an expression that said “choices were made, and I regret all of them. Do you have any more peanut butter?”.

Advent Calendar – Christmas Day

The last day on an Advent calendar normally has double doors. If it’s a religious calendar, it normally shows the holy family and the babe, etc. etc. If it’s a secular calendar, it might be a scene from inside a candy store, or looking at a hearth with stockings hanging from the mantel. I had thought, originally, that I might make this an art calendar. And then, 2020 being what it is, I settled for sharing favorite photos.

So here, for Christmas day, is a photo of glorious stained glass from Sixth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Stained glass, predominantly in greens and yellows, with a trefoil shape at the top of the bottom rung of panels and then arches above those.
Photograph of a stained glass triptych, with arched windows.

And one of the entryways to the Kolner-Dom (Cologne Cathedral: Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus). More information on the Cathedral is at this link:

Gothic entranceway with a statue of mother and child in between two banks of doors, with an ornate arch with many carvings above them.
I love this archway, with Mary and the baby, flanked by robed people (possibly from the Bible) and the rows of scenes from the bible in the archway (Adam and Eve at the top, then Abraham, and others).

And an art installation from the Burning Man exhibition that came to Washington, DC. So glad I got to see that before it closed. It was very interesting.

Photo of folded paper statue lit from within. The statue is larger than a person, and moves.
Folding mushrooms from Burning Man.

Happy holidays, and here’s to a better, and healthier new year!

Advent Calendar – 26

Koln city lights
Christmas lights in Koln / Cologne, Germany

It’s Christmas Eve, and hopefully if you exchange gifts with family and friends, you’ve managed to either have things shipped from you or have made plans for a safe tradeoff. Things here, due to cutbacks on postal service, are a bit muddled. We’ve decided to celebrate anything that gets through as “hurrah! just in time for New Years / Groundhog’s Day / Valentine’s Day!”

We’ll be celebrating quietly by ourselves, reading books and listening to choral concerts from last year. For my friends who don’t celebrate Christmas: don’t worry, I’ll go back to normal posts after the advent season is over.

Advent Calendar – Day 25

Photo of an orange cat with stripes and big paws. He is looking directly at the viewer with big amber eyes. He is sitting on a table in front of a window with a paper shade.
I’ve been a good boy, and Santa should bring me a box of tissues to destroy. And cheese. Have you heard the gospel of cheese?

It’s little Christmas Eve. Time for rice pudding and more of the Lucia bread. Raphael votes for cheese (sheep or goat cheese would be the best).

Advent Calendar – Day 24

Shelf fungus seen in a Christmas Eve walk.

Sometimes you see beautiful Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve when you visit your family and go for a walk. Other times you see amazing fungi. I’m assuming these are some type of bracket fungus or shelf fungus. This Christmas Eve will be different than others, and any walks will need to include masks because in the city social distancing can be tricky. Hope you’re finding something beautiful near you.

Advent Calendar – Day 23

Photo showing the Washington Monument in Baltimore, MD, with purple Christmas lights strung up it. Ciy night scene, fog.
From a walk back in 2018 in Baltimore, MD

Remember the pre-pandemic days when you could just go downtown in a city, and walk around and not worry about how many people there were? Good times. We’ll get there again. It’s just going to take a while.

Meanwhile: happy Solstice. Here’s to the increase of the light.

Advent Calendar – Day 22

I know it looks like I’ve done the Advent calendar wrong, because I started in November (with the first Sunday in Advent). But this was one of those vagaries of American Advent calendars (25 days only beginning with December) and some of the European ones we got (it was an extra surprise when there were only 3 Sundays prior to Christmas on the December calendar, so there’d be extra days of chocolate…. or pictures). I’d rather have more pleasant surprises this year.

Photo of an orange cat with olive-amber eyes and en extreme closeup of his right front paw gesturing at the camera. Lots of toe floof.
This is a view I often see from my work computer. Look: toe beans!