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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

For some reason, I cannot get the umlaut into my title.  So I apologize for starting this post off with a technical error.

I am not really a food blogger, so I am not going to regale you with the amazing food that we found to eat, all within easy walking distance of our Airbnb apartment.  Let me just say that Barcelona is much like Seville:  every where you turn there is a little hole in the wall that will sate you with wonderful food and great wine and beer.   Finding a place to eat is not a problem.   Deciding which one of dozens of options you are going to patronize IS the problem.

That being said, we had a wonderful dinner after our adventures at the Maritime Museum, and the next day was the day chosen to visit Park Güell.  We had purchased our tickets to this attraction on line, weeks before our trip.

A little history is in order.  Güell was a wealthy industrialist who admired Gaudí’s vision.  Together they decided to establish a planned community in the hills outside Barcelona.  Gaudí designed the whole place, including innovative ideas like separating vehicular traffic from pedestrians.   He envisioned a central market place, where the inhabitants could shop without having to go downtown.   This market place, called the Colonnade, was completely covered so the vendors could be in the shade.  On top of it was a large flat square for public gatherings, games, fairs and the like, that was completely surrounded by a structure known as the Undulating Bench.   There were public gardens planned.

Unfortunately, the idea did not take off.   Güell had a house constructed in the community, and so did Gaudi.  But they didn’t sell enough lots and ultimately Güell donated the entire property to the city of Barcelona for a public park.

The above photos are taken of the outer wall that surrounds Park Güell.  Alternating along the whole wall are these mosaics.   It really pretty much tells you in a nutshell what you are going to find inside.  There are fantastic walls and constructs of unworked native stone, and fabulous mosaics made of porcelain and glass.

We decided that since the park was only about a mile from our apartment, we would walk there.  We started out giving ourselves plenty of time just in case we got lost (we did not even though we have NO [gasp] GPS and rely completely on maps printed on paper [second gasp]).

It was a very pleasant walk along streets that were NOT choked with traffic.   The transports of choice seem to be either feet combined with public transit, or scooters.   Most of the streets in the area we were walking through were one lane, and one way.   It was quite wonderful and peaceful.   Along the way I spent quite a while admiring the brick work that was ubiquitous.

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Every structure in this part of town seemed to display gorgeous examples of the mason’s art.  Of course there were plenty of people who felt that they needed street side security for their windows.   But it also seemed that if you felt like you needed security you didn’t necessarily want to uglify your building.

I liked this one, where the barbed wire of the security grill was woven into a spider web.

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I also really liked this ironwork grill.

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So much so that I had to put my camera through its paces to get some art shots of it, while my very patient husband waited.   He was not feeling any urgency at that point.   We were within a couple of blocks of the entrance to the  park and we were about 45 minutes early for our appointed time of entry.   So he admired the view of Barcelona while I clicked away.

We enjoyed the view of the iconic entry to Park Güell as we descended the staircase that led to it.

We were still quite early, and so in no rush to join the queue at the entrance.   Along the way we paused to admire the fantasy of palms that were visible inside the park.

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They were inhabited by parrots who were busy eating the tiny fruits the trees were bearing.  Later on, within the park, we came across a colony of the same parrots who had chicks in nests, anxiously awaiting their parents’ return from foraging.

Finally the time arrived, and we entered the park.   Before you get to the famous sculptural section that we had paid to see, we walked past very plain stone retaining walls.   These were inhabited by an impressive selection of lizards, who were availing themselves of the drain holes the masons had left in the walls.

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These are just a couple of the different species sunning themselves.  As I was standing there taking the portraits of these reptiles, the crowds that were streaming by in their rush to view the work of Gaudí paused to try to see what I might be photographing.   They seemed to be concerned that they might be missing something that wasn’t in their guidebooks, which of course they were!   But to a person, not one of them “got” what I was interested in.  I know, I’m fairly weird.

Presently we proceeded along in the wake of the crowd, and were immediately surrounded by the mosaic work that Park Güell is noted for.

Believe me, there are dozens of shots I took of this artistry.  Everywhere you turned, there was color covering organic forms in concrete.   The blue tiles above are a good image of Gaudí’s artistic vision.   He haunted the porcelain factories of Barcelona, buying up their seconds and broken pieces.  The square tiles above were probably seconds, which he brought to the site and then had broken so they could be laid around the curves of the concrete structures.

I also like the white ceramic tile with its border of raw stone.   The juxtapositions of these materials happened over and over throughout the park.

Once we had sufficiently admired the mosaic walls, we proceeded to the main staircase where the Salamander resides.  This mosaic fountain is probably one of the most famous images of Gaudí’s sculpture.  You can find “Draco” everywhere in Barcelona: on tea towels, trivets, coffee cups, etc. etc.  A few years ago some madman attacked him with a sledge hammer, but he is fully restored now.

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I don’t want you to think that it was EASY to get this shot.  It required quite a lot of patience, because most of the time the fountain and its surroundings look like this:

We continued on our pilgrimage, past more amazing rock work and mosaics.  The Colonnade itself is a wonderful sculptural place, and I can imagine how pleasant it must have been to be able to set up your market stall in this deep shade in the summer, and out of the rain during the winter.

The ceiling of the colonnade is decorated with numerous medallions.  These installations epitomize the way Gaudí scavenged for mosaic material.  I believe he may have been the original recycler.

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This is one of the central medallions in the ceiling of the Colonnade.  Take a close look at it before you move on.   Notice the bottoms of cups and saucers around the central flower.   Notice that the arm of the flower at 12 o’clock appears to have been formed in part by a broken porcelain figurine.  You can see its chest and arm, and you can also see the bottoms of bottles elsewhere in the form.

Oh here.   Just take a look at a series of shots I took of the medallions in the ceiling.  I was fascinated.

Above the Colonnade is the square with the Undulating Bench.   This bench was also decorated with mosaics made from porcelain, bottles, and broken tiles.

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On the back side there were drains and gutters.   I loved the fact that where the water was draining from the square the details in the concrete were water drops.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the buildings where Güell and Gaudí lived.   But here is a detail of the windows of the home built for Güell.

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One of the other features of the park is the road/walkway system.   This was specifically designed to keep the pedestrians safe.  The walkways were under and shaded by the roads.

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Here is another one of the walkways.  The rock work was designed to mimic the bark of the local trees.

In another area, there were spectacular spirals worked into the pillars.

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By this time, we were overcome by the crowds and were suffering from sensory overload, so we decided to leave the park and have some lunch.    We walked back to our little apartment, enjoying the sights of the residential streets of Barcelona along the way.

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It is hard to believe that the last time I posted here was before Thanksgiving.  I have been on line, too.  But somehow I have been sucked into Facebook and have found myself putting up little blips here and there rather than making a blog post.   I wonder how many other bloggers have been seduced by social media?

Since I posted, it has snowed and thawed several times.   I did get some pretty nifty snow shots during all those events.

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We had a real cold snap before Thanksgiving, and the little pond froze with beautiful hoarfrost crystals.

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We also had a small ice storm, no big damage although we did have a couple of elm trees that dropped a lot of branches.   The day after the ice covered stuff it was a lovely day and things were already starting to melt.   I took Ruby for a walk and the ice was positively magical.   Everywhere I looked the woods sparkled in rainbow colors.   This phenomenon proved to be shockingly difficult to photograph, but I did get one image that almost conveys how amazing it was out there.

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During all this harsh weather, my neighborhood has been living up to its name.   All kinds of little birds, and big birds too, have been enjoying the shelter, food and water The Havens provides.  Actually, there are plenty of mammals also enjoying The Havens along with the avian population.

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We had a sumptuous Thanksgiving repast.

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At Christmas, Jesse and Lynette were able to get away from their Army duties and bring James to visit us.   They were here for far too short a time, and we loved every minute of it.

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I saved The Quilt for a Christmas presentation, even though the kids knew I had made it and had enjoyed hots of it during all stages of creation.   They did not know about the pillow cases or the matching throw pillow, though.   Honestly, I think it makes a pretty impressive bed.

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James approved, I believe.

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One of my dear friends gave me an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift.   This week it started to open.

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Today it looks like this:

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So now you are somewhat up to date.

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It seems like the garden goes through color phases each year, starting yellow and transitioning to blue before bursting into the hot reds and oranges.  Of course, this falls into the category of “glittering generalities” that we were warned against severely during high school English essay production.  Needless to say, with my eclectic taste in flowers, there is never a time when there is only one color showing at The Havens.

Once I toyed with the idea of creating a “Moon Garden'” having been enticed toward the idea by a lavishly illustrated article in some gardening magazine or other.   But when I started trying to plan the thing, I realized that I am constitutionally unable to make a garden that only sports silvery foliage and white flowers.  Heck, I couldn’t even plan it without feeling the need for “just a touch of color.” (Afficionados of “The Bird Cage” will get that reference.)

Last year my method of dealing with my unruly wisteria vine (is there any other kind?) was to walk around the pergola with my pruning shears and whack back anything that dared to hang over the edge and intrude on my personal space.   Apparently this was just the treatment it needed, because this year it is absolutely stunning in bloom.

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Getting this photograph illustrates a problem in The Havens yard vis-a-vis photography.   Frankly, this place would drive a professional photographer stark raving mad, since it is never properly prepped for a photo op.  Right now the area near the pergola is a construction zone as we work on the barbecue/wood fired bread oven area.   So my initial attempt at getting the glorious wisteria looked like this:

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Even careful cropping cannot rescue this version.   However, it does add a note of realism to the image.

Another part of the yard that is very blue right now is the front.   The peonies are still only buds, so the pink that will become prominent soon is not evident.   Also, the redbud is finished blooming.   Instead, we have lots of wood hyacinths and veronica.

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Okay, okay.  Yes, there is an iris in there.   I told you I couldn’t do monochrome!  Actually, that is a reblooming iris that shows up again in the fall.   I believe she deserves a closer look.

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Actually, there is more than one iris out there, and in short order there will be many more.   Then the Blue Period will be only a memory.

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But I digress.   The Stroll Garden has quite a lot of blue showing right now, especially the Scree Slope and Rain Garden areas.   The main blues here are the ajuga and veronica, but the foliage of the dianthus back there definitely falls into the blue category.

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You really need to have a look at that bank of candytuft closer up.   It is really “on” right now.

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The very last daffodils are still out there, but they will be gone soon.   This is a late blooming minature (she’s about 4 cm in diamter) called “Chiva”.

Cat owners will appreciate the fact that I got up from my computer chair for about 2 minutes to go look up “Chiva’s” name and when I got back Mallory had established herself in the chair and was studiously engaged in washing.   “I’ve been here all morning, what do you want?” was the look she directed at me when I sat down.   Not on her, mind  you, no matter how tempting it was.

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Just behind “Chiva” you can see the blue of a stem of camassia, also referred to as quamash.   This is a plant the Midwest Native Americans used for food.   Since it is a native of the area, I have it liberally scattered all through the Stroll Garden.   Here it is setting off the Japanese kerria bush, which is in full not-blue bloom right now.

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Here is a drift of it sharing space with the day lilies.

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You will note evidence of the lack of photo op preparation here if you look closely at this shot.   It includes such various weeds as white violets, lady’s bedstraw, and henbit.   When I was shooting the Scree Slope for the veronica and candytuft, I pulled out a few errant wild lettuces before I took the picture.   But this area requires more attention than I was willing to devote before I made a blog post.

Actually, I am on my way there.   I started over by the swing and worked my way along under the pine trees, removing hen bit and wild oats for the most part.   I had to make a detour past my large clumps of miscanthus grass, which I neglected to burn off this spring, and remove all the old stalks and foliage that were suffocating the new growth.   While I was back in that corner I worked myself into an emotional tizzy as I weeded Mike’s grave.     What a gorgeous boy he was.

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I still miss him.  I had a little blue period about him….  But I’m better now.   After all, I have Impy and Mallory now.  And they are wonderful cats too.

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It finally stopped raining today.    It’s a darned good thing too; the grass was starting to look more like a hay field than a lawn.   We were really starting to think that we might have to bale it if the weather didn’t cooperate and give us a few dry days.

Not that we are complaining.   After last year’s droughty conditions, all water from the sky is welcome.   But a little moderation once in a while isn’t a bad thing.

In spite of the fact that the weather guessers were SURE that it was going to be a sunny day, the early morning was grey and cloudy.   I decided to go to Bennet Spring and  enjoy the Savanna Ridge Trail anyway.   I figured I would be largely undisturbed since it HAS been raining and all the creeks are up.   I contemplated taking my rubber boots with me, but I didn’t want to carry them along and I knew I didn’t wish to walk three miles in them either.   I thought maybe the water at the slab that is at the beginning of the trail might have gone down during the night.

Not so much:

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I had prepared myself by donning my spectacular high tech army socks, so I waded across and proceeded on my way.   Although my trainers were very wet, my feet became more or less dry in short order due to the wicking action of the above mentioned socks, which showed me quickly that they were well worth the $10 a pair we forked over for them.   I completed my walk with no chafing or discomfort, thanks to these items of apparel.

The path was beautiful.   It wound up the hill, spangled with buttercups.

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Later on, higher up the ridge, the gold spangles changed to blue, almost as if the sky had broken and fallen to the path.   The Bird-foot violets (some folks call them Johnny jump-ups)(Viola pedata) were blooming profusely.

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Off to the side of the path a fern was unfolding its fronds.

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Behind it, the Rue Anemonne (Anemonella thalictroides) was blooming profusely.   It made me think of flecks of foam on the sea of last year’s leaves as they broke against the tree trunks.

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As I rounded the top of the ridge, I could hear the creek chuckling along merrily.    Most of last summer its voice was silent, but today it was vociferous behind the fog of redbud blossoms obscuring it from view.

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It didn’t take us long to descend below the pink fog and discover just how full the little creek was.   No wonder it was talking so loudly.  My favorite waterfall was actually a waterfall rather than a trickle of drops.

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Nearby Mother Nature’s graffiti artist had painted all over a log.

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I discovered another shy spring beauty (Uvularia sessifolia) hiding below the waterfall.   This is called “Wild oats”, which is a misnomer indeed, as it is not even a member of the grass family but a lily instead.   The other thing people call it is “Sessile bellwort”.

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At this point, my camera started telling me that its batteries were getting low.   Hoping that letting it rest would allow it to find some more juice in the depths of the batteries, I turned it off and continued on my way.

The clouds burned off as we walked and it turned into a spectacular day, all blue sky and bird song.  The whitened skull of one of last year’s deer casualties enticed me from the path, and led me to a woodland pond that included frogs in its decor.   We saw a live deer moving through the woods; I was hoping for a new fawn but was disappointed.

As we continued on our way over the ridge I heard a sound in the valley below that I was so rare I almost couldn’t believe it.   The wash of dry gravel bars where I find so many wonderful rocks while walking along them was full of water.

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Above the creek bank a lone dogwood bloomed.

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I was very glad to see it.  Dogwood blossoms are few and far between this spring.   The heat of the summer and the long dry fall caused most of the dogwood trees in our area to drop their flower buds in order to conserve their strength.   The only ones I saw today were in the cooler north-facing hollows where the water runs when it rains.  Usually they make drifts of white all through the woods, a magical thing that is nearly impossible to capture in a photograph.

I turned back to retrace my steps, rejoicing in the creek valley floor.  It was covered with millions of chickweed flowers forming a lacy back drop for the red trillium, yellow violets, Jacob’s ladder and other woodland flowers.   I refrained from turning the camera on in case something really cool showed up.

Of course it did, and I was glad I had saved the batteries.  An amazing blue flower caught my eye, begging to be photographed.   It was even bluer than the Bird’s-foot violets that had so captivated me earlier.   I had no idea what it was, but I made its portrait anyway,

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When I got home, I looked it up.   This is “Blue-eyed Mary” (Collinsia verna), a member of the snapdragon family.  She is an annual flower, and I suppose that accounts for the fact that I had never met her before.   I know where she is blooming, and I intend to go back there and collect a few seeds in a few weeks.   I think this would make a splendid addition to the gardens.

On the way back home I discovered goldenseal (Hydrastis candensis) blooming in the creek bottom.

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By this time, the newly holy church goers had made it out into the woods, and I started meeting groups of people as I neared the car park.   None of them surprised me at all, as I could hear them long before I could see them.   I was glad I had started off early, so I got to see deer and hear many birds, which tend to shut up and become very quiet when the chatting hordes of hikers take over my usual haunts.   This is why I usually go out in the middle of the week, when they are all at work.

But I was glad the promise of clouds burning off had enticed me out early to enjoy the beauty around me undisturbed.

Hope you enjoyed the tour….

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It’s a grey day here at The Havens.   The gold finches are turning yellow, the robins are building nests, the daffodils are in full display and a light mist is drizzling.

As I worked on sewing strips together on the quilt, laying them out on the dining room table, I saw the opportunity to feature two of my passions in life together in one photo.   Fabric and Daffodils.   Is there any better combination?

Okay, maybe coffee and chocolate.

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An example of the magic of the internet.   I was running over to the place where you can purchase terrible things like donuts, which seemed to be the breakfast of choice this morning.   As I went past the freeway interchange, I saw a semi truck pulling onto I-44 heading east.  Emblazoned proudly on both sides, it advertised the San Marcos High School Marching Band from Santa Barbara, California.   Smaller, but no less proud, lettering let you know that this was carrying the equipment for the marching band, flag drill team and percussion performance art department.

My first reaction was, “Wow!   They have a semi truck!”   Our local marching band is the proud possessor of an enclosed utility trailer which can be towed by a large pickup truck.  The high school I attended in Colorado was lucky to have a band at all, let alone a marching band.   I looked at pictures in the yearbook from 1970 and our band had about two dozen members.   Since many of them were also members of the various sporting teams and the Pep club, even a small marching contingent would be hard to gather together.

Anyway, the next thought  that crossed my mind (yes, I admit I was driving distracted, but at least I wasn’t texting) was “What in the world is the San Marcos High School Band of Santa Barbara, California doing in Lebanon, Missouri?”

When I got home I marched straight to the iPad and Googled the San Marcos High School.  There, on their website, under the Performing Arts department, I found the answer.    There, announced prominently, was the news that the Drum Line had earned a place in the WGI World Championships to be held in Dayton, Ohio, and soliciting contributions to get them there.  (I then looked up WGI, which stands for Winter Guard International, a group dedicated to drill teams, flag teams and drum lines.   Who knew.)

I guess they got enough money, because the equipment is quite obviously on its way to Ohio, and I imagine the members of the drum line are not far away.

And so, the magic of the internet answers random questions once again.

 

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I’m so glad that the mini ice storm we had yesterday was just that, very mini.   It is so odd to go outside and hear the trees rattling in the breeze.  It all sounds so different, but NOTHING like the last time when we felt like we were listening to the war as the trees cracked and broke and smashed to the ground.

Instead, the string of LED lights we have on the back porch provided us with something stunning to look out in the early morning.

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It’s really hard to photograph such bright lights in the dawn’s early light.   But you can see how the little icicles that formed on the string pick up the glow of light from the light they are hanging off.   So very very cool.   I think that this is the effect that the “icicle lights” would like to give and don’t.

By the way, I hasten to explain that these are not Christmas decorations in this application.   Many years ago we discovered that if we strung mini lights up around the back porch they were even more effective than a bug light as a porch light.   Each individual light is small enough that it doesn’t attract swarms of bugs.   They are all away from the door.   So when you go out at night, you get plenty of illumination and you don’t have 900,000 moths and mosquitoes following you in.

I have had a most amusing morning indeed.   My email contained numerous items that made me laugh heartily.   Laughter is always good.   Jim is watching the 49ers game, which he does not know how turns out (although I do)(Tee hee).   I am completing a couple of potholders I created a couple of days ago and then I will address myself to the little quilted piece I made yesterday in my quilting class.  It needs to be backed, quilted and bound.  Later on we will go visit some of our good friends and Jim will learn to smoke cheese and we and the group of people we are spending the afternoon with will have a very good time.

May all your ice storms be small and beautiful, and may your day be amusing and pleasant.

 

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Moon I and Moon II

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