Monday, December 31, 2018

the last morning of 2018

On this morning of the final day of the year,
I'm doing a bit of thinking back and thinking ahead.

While I'm doing all this thinking, what task could be more appropriate
than cleaning the seeds saved from this year's gardens?

Do you have any special plans for this New Year's Eve?
Or, depending on your place in the world, New Year's Day?

Monday, December 24, 2018

being there

While I was doing a second round of chores today, snow began to fall. 

First, just a scattering of flakes.

 Then a bit more.

The goats moved between the barns and paddocks,
eating their hay, as bigger flakes began to fall.

 Beautiful flakes. Falling slowly. Falling densely.

I brushed melting snowflakes from the paddock chair
and sat to watch for a while.

It was that rare, lovely snowfall that looks the way
I imagine people who do not live in snowy climates think all snow looks -
almost unbelievably perfect.

 I exhausted one camera battery and switched to a second.
By the time that battery was nearly done,
my clothes were wet through with melted snow.
It was time to head inside.  

For all the snow that fell, what remained later in the day was not much more than a dusting. Just enough to make everything look very pretty. If I hadn't been out in it as it was falling, I could not have guessed the way it looked coming down.

Isn't it a gift to be there, eyes open, for beauty?


early on the eve

Not yet daylight and I heard an odd little rattling sound I could not identify.
Switched on the lamp to see the innocent face of Moxie, who clearly was not just whacking at the strings of lights on the tree. Would never dream of doing such a thing.

Five minutes later:

Happy Christmas Eve morning, everyone.
May all your trees remain upright!

Friday, December 21, 2018

a winter tree

It was becoming a bit of a Christmas Eve morning tradition to drive to my "local" feed store in search of a tree. There are sometimes one or two left and I feel sorry for them. Also - and I admit this is important - the prices are reduced. It's a bit of a stretch for me to spend a considerable amount of money on a tree I can't plant.

2014: The Little Green Sportswagon

I also like waiting til late December because it means January - perhaps even part of February - will be a little festival of lights here every night. It really helps my, well, "spirit" would be the right word I think, to see those multicolored gems glowing in the house when I am out in the barns at night. And I love catching the scent of balsam when I come inside.

Coming in from the barn

Last year and the year before, I didn't put up a tree. Partly because the cats were kittens in 2016, and partly because there was so much mayhem here with construction projects in December 2017. On Christmas Eve last year I did put up a swag of lights between the workshop and barn, and even that little bit of cheer was very enjoyable in the weeks that followed.

But this year, I decided weeks ago that I want to put up a tree. I really really want to. Even if the cats try to climb it. Even if the cats DO climb it. I budgeted for a tree, and decided that instead of taking a chance and waiting til Christmas Eve, I'd get the tree in time for Winter Solstice, which is today.

This is a bittersweet twig and a fern.
But it could be holly berries and a balsam branch :)

Yesterday was a whirlwind of chores, but in the afternoon I visited the local florist shop and chose a tree. Brought it home, trimmed the trunk so it will be able to drink again, and pulled it carefully through the sliding glass door onto the porch.

Phase Two of Winter Tree complete! The tree is on the porch!

Phase One is "make room for a tree on the porch."
I'll be doing Phase One today.

Then comes Phase Three: adding the tiny lights.

At 5:23 PM, the moment of Solstice in my neck of the woods, I will light the tree. And breathe a sigh of happiness that the wheel of the seasons has turned once again and days will now be growing longer.

What a joyous thought!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

a little announcement

In the upper righthand sidebar, there is a new item.
Under "Pages" there is a link for Cloud Harvest Cashmere.

I thought for a long while about this, and had reservations about making this blog in any way a "commercial" entity. But it also seemed quite silly to not have an option for anyone who might actually want to see whatever little items I might be making in an effort to support my goats' habit of eating.

I finally decided to make a separate page, so readers can choose to visit if they wish. That seems about as low-key as it can possibly be. I hope you'll agree.

And now, in a completely unrelated theme:

how about this sky?

For about three minutes, the view from my Massachusetts window made me feel like I'm living high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

better late

Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes! You will laugh when I tell you that I fell asleep after chores last night before eating any lemon meringue pie, but I had a slice for breakfast this morning. And this evening, I finally opened my presents.

Have I mentioned my approach to the "Black Friday"-type mayhem? It's got nothing to do with Christmas for me - indeed, it has nothing to do with Christmas in any way, period - but I use it as a practical way to plan ahead.

All year I keep a list of "needed/wanted, but can wait" items for the animals, myself, the house. Come November, I shop from that list during the sales, almost entirely online. It can mean a whacking great bill to pay in December, but considerably less than the same purchases would have cost if spread out over the year; things like a replacement router, a pair of prescription reading glasses, a humidifier for the porch, a nice cotton workshirt for next Spring, and a pair of insulated walking boots for winter Piper-rambles.

This year, I added a little fun by making some birthday "surprise gift" purchases as well. The first was from a small New Hampshire online yarn shop that imports yarns from the UK.

Look, it's a hat and two pairs of socks!
(Some assembly required.)

I also placed an order with Blick Art Supplies. I'll tell you what: a fifty-dollar "surprise gift" budget can buy a whole lot of fun when there's a sale going on and free shipping for a $45 order.

I say "surprise" because it seemed likely that between mid-November and mid-December, I would forget at least part of what I ordered. Every time I visit the Blick website, dozens of items catch my imagination. Ordering just a few things from that treasure trove and then putting it out of my mind meant that I genuinely forgot all but one item. When I opened the box from Blick this evening, it was as if this gift had truly dropped unexpected out of thin air.

I said, "Oooh!"

Out loud.

And then I laughed like a loon.

 I've been wanting a pocket sketchbook for a while now.
This is a very, very good one.
In fact, "It's just what I wanted!"
I'm pretty excited about it.

This waterbrush is a brand I haven't tried before.
Every year I buy one - maybe two - new ones, figuring out what works for me.
This one is labelled "1 mm" - quite tiny.

Then, in order to embrace the ongoing adventure that is watercolor,
I went to the other extreme:

Fun ahead :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


It's my birthday
and I have big plans:

It's a quiet life, but a happy one.
And sometimes there is pie!

Monday, December 10, 2018

monday meander

Piper and I went for a ramble in one of our favorite areas today. You've seen bits of it before, in photographs and various sketches - it's one of the places we visited repeatedly during our first outdoor drawing adventures.

And speaking of drawing, thank you very much for all the kind words about the iris watercolor. I'm so glad you liked it!

Today was crisply cold and very bright.
While Piper examined dozens of enticing aromas,
I took dozens of ice portraits.

I took a few photographs of stones that I usually see from a different perspective.
To give you an idea of scale, when I'm standing next to this one, the ferns growing atop it are at eye-level.

I also managed to sneak in a few snaps of Ms. Piper.

But mostly:


More clear, cold weather is predicted this week,
and I am looking forward to it!
How are things in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

saturday sketch

This watercolor sketch is from a few days ago.
I wish I had taken a better photograph, during daylight,
but you get the idea.

Daily Markmaking continues...
hard to believe tonight will be #342.

What will it be?
And will I fall asleep in the middle of making it?
There have been some very close calls.
Daylight hours are so short and there is always so much to be done.
I almost never get out the sketchpad til nighttime, after chores are done and everyone has been fed. Most of the recent drawings and painting have been done while I'm snugged up in bed, with Moxie and Della anchoring me in place, and Piper within reach curled up in her new nest.

That's exactly the situation right now, in fact.
I'm the only one still awake, and I am very tired,
so I'd better get cracking.

I hope your weekend is going well!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

delivering the stars

The entrants in the giveaway for handmade felt stars
from the Snow Leopard Trust were:

4 KB
5 JO

The winner, determined once again by Random.Org,

is #3 Salty Pumpkin Art! 


Please email your mailing address to q dot piper at hotmail dot com within 3 days,
so I can get your colorful little constellation in the post right away!

Oh, and please put Comptonia in the subject line so your email will jump out from the literally hundreds of "offers" that are filling my email box this month.