Morning Ritual Redux

I planted morning glory seeds a few months back. In this neck of the woods, we don’t see any blooms until sometime in August. There are about 6 or 7 leafy stems throughout the chicken wire fence garden. The one stem that seemed to be the most spindly, that probably wouldn’t amount to anything, surprised me this morning.

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Behold: the first morning glory of the summer. A thing of beauty. It rained a bit last night, so there’s an added bonus of water droplets. And, as you can see, there are more buds on this stem. Yay!

I love my morning glories.

It’s been fairly quiet around here. I read a lot yesterday. In the days before personal computers, I used to get up every morning, make some coffee, and read. Usually the reading matter was a novel of some sort, sometimes I thumbed through a magazine in the days when magazines were chock-full of information we had yet to be able to see online. Remember those days? Seems like ancient history now.

I’ve started reading with my first cup of coffee. Not blogs, not the latest headlines online, not my email – no, I’m reading a book. I’ve gone back to my life before my laptop. It’s so lovely. Simply lovely.

It’s quiet, the aroma of coffee is in the air, my book is in my hands. In the early morning, my sleepy brain is not distracted by a long list of things that must be done. Scout, who needs a lot of hands-on care, is usually sleeping. My mind is completely receptive to the words on the page; open, ready to soak up all the images and descriptions, ready to enter into the world of the imagination.

It’s so simple. I did it for years. But when I started blogging, I developed the habit of cracking open the laptop first thing in the morning. Had to go through my email. Had to check out other blogs. Had to immediately start in thinking about what I was going to blog about that day, and what photos I was going to use in the post. Had to edit the photos.

There’s nothing at all wrong with any of that.

But reading is one of my lifelong passions. I read a lot. I also review books and am committed to sharing my discoveries with you. Grabbing a half-hour to read before I go to sleep just doesn’t cut it. I have to carve out more time in the day to read. And that, really, is no sacrifice at all.

I’ve found it’s all too easy to let the online world take over. Though it’s wonderful and valuable and the source of a lot of information, and I, of course, use that world to write my blogs, it doesn’t hold a candle to being transported into a world made real by the words on a page.

So, I’m going back to my morning ritual pre-blogging, pre-convenient and nearby laptop. Coffee. A book. It’s a wonderful and peaceful way to start the day. I’m currently reading Murder in the Bastille  by Cara Black, number 4 in the Aimée Leduc series – ordered though my local library. A great series by the way, with rich, vivid descriptions of Paris, both old and beautiful and gritty and urban Paris.

And see? I’m even finding time to write my daily blog post. Yesterday, even after taking an hour or so to read my book, I found the time to write two  posts. Nothing lost, everything gained.

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Happy Tuesday.

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And It’s Monday

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We’re grabbing the advantage of some early morning coolish weather to open all the windows and air out the house. Thank goodness for air conditioning, but there’s nothing like fresh air. Today promises to be very hot and humid, so we’re enjoying it while we can.

Don and his friend decided to drive back a little earlier than they’d originally planned, so I had to scurry to clean up my temporary work space in the kitchen and move the Top Secret Project back upstairs.

If You’re Don: Stop Reading Here.

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I managed to install the sliding doors and the trim around them, as well as the window over the doors. I’m happy to say they work. Insert sigh of relief here.

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I’ve had to contact HBS because the roof came with some damage on one corner and I don’t think I can correct it. They have great customer service, so I know they’ll take care of it for me. I’ve plenty to do in the meantime.

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It’s not every Top Secret Project that gets its own bark cloth cover, now is it?

I’ve just finished reading a great police thriller by Jane Casey – After the Fire – that I’m going to review today on Just Let Me Finish This Page. Casey is a British author and a well-known one. I hadn’t read any of her books and, since we’ve actually had some Twitter conversations, my interest was piqued. This book is part of a series centering around Maeve Kerrigan, who works as a policewoman in London. I was so impressed that I’m going to go back and read the rest of the series. Here’s the link to the review.

Don had a fabulous time at the Festival. He’s tired but happy.

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New blooms every day on the hollyhock – my 2015 Surprise Plant.

Happy Monday.

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Top Secret Project Progress

Don: Don’t read this post!!

I will be issuing these warnings as I work on the Top Secret Project. I’m trusting that Don will be sleep deprived when he gets back – goodness knows, I certainly am – and won’t see this post. But, he is entirely capable of surprising me, so I will have to resort to the occasional warning.

Okay. Time for a piece of humble pie. I have remarked before on this blog about the way my dollhouse was put together, that the seams didn’t always meet, that it wasn’t assembled as well as I thought it should have been.

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I’m here to tell you that I am now on the other end of this process and it’s hard. To the unknown family that put together Hummingbird Cottage: you have my apologies. I have made a couple of bone-headed mistakes in this process. That I’ve been able to fix them is nothing short of a miracle. Yesterday, my immediate thought upon making one of these mistakes, was “I’ll have to order another kit and start over.” I was not happy at that prospect. I was frustrated; with myself and with an entirely new-to-me process.

It seems simple and in some ways it is. But one little error can throw everything off. It reminds me of making a quilt – one inaccurate measurement can throw the entire thing out of whack.

Oh, that’s happened to me, as well.

Then I get obsessed with trying to fix it. And I did.

Blood, sweat, and tears, Don. Blood, sweat, and tears.

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I got the rafters installed, but learned a valuable lesson. The thickness of paint can also throw everything off – we’re talking miniatures here and everything  is tiny – even the paint layers. I also painted the windows, very fiddly work for someone like me who does not enjoy painting. But the windows are neat; they slide open.

I added the two front walls and the framework for the sliding door. There’s more to be done before the basic construction is finished. Then I have to paint the outside. And the inside.

I have a vision, of course, for what I want to create inside  the studio. I’ve always envisioned the furniture in a more modern style. In the course of my endless reading of miniature blogs, I saw a couple of references to a Japanese company called Reac. They have a line of miniature 1:12 furniture based on famous furniture designs. They’re not easy to find, but they’re out there.

Though my personal tastes tend to run toward vintage, comfy, and cottage, I have always loved the furniture designs of Charles and Ray Eames. If I could own a few of those pieces in real life, I’d be thrilled. One in particular, the Lounge Chair, has always been a favorite. I owned a sort of knock-off several years ago when living in Boston – at least, it was inspired by the Eames chair – and it was comfy, but it wasn’t nearly as beautiful.

Look what came in the mail yesterday (conveniently while Don was away):

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Oooh, let’s open up the box.

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Eeek!

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Behold the first piece of furniture for Don’s studio.

I am in love. I want to collect all of the mini pieces in this line.

There’s another mini manufacturer who makes this chair but after countless comparison shots, I think the base of the chair/ottoman is better in this version. The other version has much thicker legs – they look out of scale. I like the detail on the Reac version better. Both were about the same price, so I went for this one.

Very exciting!

There’s a long road ahead on this build and design. And budget constraints, of course. So I’m going to try to make some of the ‘recording studio’ pieces. Wish me luck. I have no idea how to do any of it.

Oh, yesterday afternoon, I was about to go out on the porch to get the watering can and who did I see? None other than Amber, the cat-in-heat. At that point in my frustrating day, I was not about to deal with her writhing endlessly on my porch, so I called my neighbors and once again, they came over to get her. They didn’t know she’d escaped. I have to admit, Amber is quick. And she’s in heat. So that makes her even more desperate to take matters into her own hands.

I hope she soon emerges from this state of frenzy. Though she’s adorable, she needs to stay home.

Happy Sunday.

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Sleepy Saturday

Yesterday, I dropped Don off in a neighboring town around dinner time, where he caught a ride to the music festival with a fellow musician friend. When Don called me around 10 pm, he described a place where people were camped everywhere, where music was playing on three different stages, and where he most likely won’t get much sleep. But he’s around music and musicians and is looking forward to listening and learning and meeting new friends. It’s rather a big folk festival and it culminates with a performance from Judy Collins tomorrow evening. Both Don and I are big fans of her music and both of us have met her at different points in her career; I met her in the early seventies, Don met her more recently. She has the voice of an angel.

As always seems to be the case on the first night Don is away, it took me a long time to get to sleep last night, but I woke up at the same time I do every morning – early. So I’m a little bit sleep deprived.

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The butterfly bush is in bloom.

But I got up, made some coffee, let Dame Scout out, and saw the male cat race off into the woods. Ever hopeful is that boy.

And then, instead of immediately turning my laptop on, I sat here and read for a couple of hours. Ahhh. It was simply wonderful. Windows open, birds chirping, the dull sound of traffic on our road, Scoutie in the tunnel, and words making a whole new world come alive for me.

A good start to the day.

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A tiny, tiny bee near the coneflowers.

A slow, laid-back day lies ahead, with reading, perhaps some work on the Top Secret Project (depends on my ‘tired’ level), and of course, taking care of Scout.

The other day, I stopped at the post office to check my mailbox there, something I hadn’t done in a while. There was a package waiting for me, and I thought to myself, “Ooooh! Someone sent me a present!”

And then I did a double-take. It was addressed to none other than Scout. Oh, it was sent in care of Don and me, but it was definitely for the Dame. When I told the guy behind the desk at the Post Office that is was for my dog, he laughed.

It was from a wonderful reader of this blog, Kathy.

So I brought the package home and helped Scout open it.

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Oh boy! Well, Scout simply had to sample one right away. The verdict is in, Kathy. She loves them.

Scout took it upon herself to email Kathy and thank her. I don’t know how she manages to get on my computer, but that girl has some serious skills, so I put nothing past her.

I’ll say it officially here, as well. Thank you, Kathy! Scout loves her present and she was quite taken with the fact that the box had her name on it. xoxo.

I’m off to sip some more coffee.

Happy Saturday.

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As We Head Into The Weekend

For those of you who didn’t see my updates in yesterday’s comment section: the latest on the cat story. Late in the morning, Don remarked that he saw a big male cat headed toward the orange tabby in heat (who was, once again, on our porch). I jumped up, scared him off, and watched our girl continue to rub and writhe and present her hind end as an enticement to our visitor.

I scared the intruder off a second time. And then I called my neighbor, all the while trying to keep their cat on our porch, and told her what was going on. She came over and managed to grab the cat. I didn’t see little Amber the rest of the day, so I assume they’re keeping her indoors. Meanwhile, the male cat came back twice, each time calling for her.

He finally gave up.

Two cats on our property are two cats too many. I don’t want them near our birds.

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The hens and chicks in the garden bed in front of the porch blooms every year. I had to get down to ground level to get this photo. Pretty, don’t you think?

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Don is headed out to spend the weekend at a music festival. This is the kind of festival where there are musicians performing 24 hours a day. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. He’s slotted at 12:15 am – early Sunday morning. He’s taking a sleeping bag, as everyone is camping on site. I can only hope the temperatures drop a bit, so he can sleep well. I’m driving him to a neighboring town this afternoon, where he’s going to meet up with a friend who’s giving him a ride. We’ve only got one car and I can’t be without a car for a whole weekend!

I hope he has a great time!

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This will be a good opportunity to work on the Top Secret Project. Some paint choices need to be made and some more construction needs to be done. I’m really looking forward to learning new techniques as I go about creating the interior.

Today is my mom’s birthday. I miss you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

Happy Friday.

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