Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Monday, December 31, 2012


from Huntsville Botanical Gardens Galaxy of Lights drive-thru light display

 Hoping 2013 is a great year for everyone.

Here's a little fireworks display to celebrate (yep, it was from July 4th).

Sunday, December 30, 2012


My daughter saw this knit hat while we were kayak shopping at Bass Pro Shop in Nashville after Thanksgiving. We considered buying it, then decided it would be better if I knit her one.

I didn't have any of my handspun yarns in the colors she wanted, so we went to a local yarn shop where she chose yarns she liked.  We also decided to knit the entire thing in regular stockinette stitch. This is how it turned out.  She likes it. I'm happy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Mischief

Me: Pants, where did this tissue paper come from?

Pants: The rabbit did it.

Yogi: What tissue paper?

Lunar and Planetary Conjunction December 25, 2012

Wow! What an astronomical event. All the planets of our solar system and our moon in close proximity. And the world didn't even end. Here's a photo I made of the astronomical phenomenon. Be sure to click on the photo to see it in its entirety.

Our daughter gave her dad the solar system for Christmas. Here it is right here in her dad's lap.

In the small container on the right are Earth, Moon (no frosting), and Mercury. In the larger container are  Jupiter, Venus, Uranus (top row) and Mars, Saturn, Pluto, and Neptune (bottom row). Her dad ate Pluto first because he said it wasn't even a planet, anyway.

She made the planets  from yummy white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie dough and hand mixed the frosting colors to decorate them. We have tried to be good and not eat them all at one time, but only Neptune is left.

Nota bene:  I guess the world did end...somebody ate Earth!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peace on Earth

(photos 1 and 2 in the public domain, photo 3 courtesy Greg Skibinski)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More of Same

Here's more fluffy stuff waiting to be carded.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pretty Stuff

trying this phone app again)

Here are a few batts of wool from all the washing, gnat picking, carding, dyeing, and carding I've been doing for the fiber guild meeting on Saturday. Kool-aid and food coloring were used to dye the giber. It will be interesting to see what colors the other ladies bring.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Blessing

I'm sitting out here in back carding wool. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, especially this time of year when some folks in the fiber guild thought it would be a good idea to have the November program be washing fleeces in preparation for December's wool felting program. Washing a whole sheep fleece is great do in the hot summertime or when there is no rush about finishing and you haven't anything else to do. Winter months and the holidays do not lend themselves well to this sort of activity.  I have Christmas knitting to finish, too. I've probably washed 35-40 fleeces since I first learned to spin at the living history museum. I've had to demonstrate this delightful activity during all seasons and in all sorts of weather. I certainly have my preferences for when to process whole sheep fleeces.

 Someone in the guild was given eight or nine fleeces by a farmer who raises meat sheep and just throws the fleeces away after the spring shearing. Free fleece. Sometimes that can be a real deal. Sometimes it can be a real ordeal. These fleeces are in pretty good shape. Not too dirty. Not a huge amount of trash in the fiber. The idea was to wash as many as possible at the November meeting, then have the participants take home the washed fleeces to finish processing, including carding and dyeing, for use in the December meeting where we will make felted balls and other silly things. There were only about six of us at the meeting. The weather was mild, but we only got five fleeces washed. The washing was done outside with cold water in a baby swimming pool. Cold water is not the greatest thing even in summer if you want to remove lanolin, grease, and other ick from wool. For the most part, the fleeces would have to be washed again at home in hot water in order to remove enough greasy stuff for the dye to take. Not so bad if you do a little at a time and have nice, hot, sunny days for drying the wool. Sunny days we've mostly had. Temperatures have been mostly in the 60's and 70's, but it hasn't been hot enough for the water to evaporate quickly. And we have had some rainy days. I have done little else than mess with wet wool since November 17. I have tried all the tricks to speed things up, but nothing has helped to any great degree. I have to laugh when I read the newsletter because the editor thanked "Melissa Lehman for her expertise." I was wondering how the ladies who have little or no experience at processing fleeces were managing when I got a couple of WOOL 911 calls. I just hope I've been of help to the distraught callers, 'cause Baby, if it ain't working for me, it ain't working for nobody.

I have not been having fun. This particular fleece has tiny little gnats trapped in the fiber. At first look before washing, I thought they were grass seeds that would come out fairly easily. I shook out as much of the debris as I could before washing. After the stuff dried and I began picking out debris and carding the wool I discovered the little rascals. Their little legs are really hanging up in the fiber and they won't just shake out. I'm having to pick out every single little gnat. This is really slowing me down. Did I say I am not having fun?

Back to the topic of the title. I'm out here picking out gnats and grass and trash from this wool and carding it so that I can dye it and have colored wet wool everywhere instead of just plain ol' white wet wool. I'm not overly concerned that the dyed stuff doesn't get dry before the meeting next week. After all, we have to wet it in order to felt it. Progress is extremely slow. Ho hum. Pick and card on. And on. Suddenly I realize that the trees in back are filled with the sound of high pitched whistles, trills, and "tseeees." I look up and see small birds flitting around everywhere in the berry-laden cherry laurel trees that line a good portion of the back fence row. As I look closer, what I see takes my breath away. A huge flock of beautiful cedar waxwings are feasting on the berries. What a sight. I stopped carding and messing with wool and have just been sitting here enjoying this wonderful, sorely needed blessing. Sometimes when things don't seem all that great something happens to really lift the spirits.

Cedar waxwings in my backyard. I am blessed.

click on the link for cedar waxwing info and photos

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Still Here

 (a photo from an early post; sort of sums up things for me right now)

 Just an update to let all my blog friends know that we are still around. There's just a lot of stuff going on and I'm having time management issues. I've also been more than a little bummed out over the demise of our sweet, old PetCat.  I was previously doing some posts through the Blogger iPhone app, but after they updated it, everything went down the tubes. I downloaded the update and then couldn't even get the app to open. After reading the reviews of the new update, I find that I am not the only dissatisfied user. I put in my two cents and then deleted the app. I'm behind in reading blogs and want to apologize to everyone for the lack of comments.  Gosh, but I miss a lot when I can't keep up! Hoping to catch up soon. In the meantime, all of us at the Huntsville Bunstead wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and very Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Another Beloved Pet RIP

PetCat   1998-2012

Photo: RIP  PetCat. 1998-2012

Photo: RIP  PetCat. 1998-2012


He came to us in July 1999, a nine-month old kitten. He had belonged to John's dad who had passed away then. He was a farm kitty. Loved to be outside except during thunderstorms when he would beg to come in and hide or curl up near one of us. These last few years, as he got older, he did enjoy being inside more during the coldest weather. The rest of the time he was outside chasing leaves, bugs, sleeping in the sun on the porch.
 He crossed the Bridge sometime after midnight last night (11/5/12). Not sick. The victim of a predator.  Coyote or maybe a big hawk or owl.  He just would not stay in the house. I last saw him, petted, and talked to him sometime around midnight when I went out to do my routine late-night check. Please guard your beloved pets. 
Our little Pester, who has to be forced to come in the house, is also missing at this time. I don't know if she is also a victim or if she' s hiding out, but at least I haven't found any remains, so I'm guardedly hopeful at this time (Tuesday afternoon). Her tortoise shell coloring makes it easy for her to hide, so I can't always see her. She isn't in the shelter. Whatever got PetCat could have frightened her sufficiently to keep her away for a while. She's younger and agile and fast. I hope she's safe.

Pester update (Tuesday night): She's here. All curled up in her little shelter on the front porch. I might just have to go out there and drag her in shortly. Don't want whatever got PetCat to come back tonight--or ever.

Sweet old PetCat, you will be missed.
scroll down the right sidebar for two additional photos

Night of the Lepus

A 1972 sci-fi movie featuring folks being terrorized by giant mutant rabbits. More info at Wikipedia.

I used Instagram to play with this iPhone photo I made of Matilda.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Scenic North Alabama--Again

I used to try to do a post for this topic every now and then (some were a bit tongue-in-cheek with not-so-attractive shots from around this area), but I have not really done so in quite a while, with the exception of the autumn colors I recently posted. Here are a few more photos of another of the autumn colors commonly seen in this part of the country during October.

(as usual, click to enlarge photos and links appear in a different color from the regular text)

Cotton fields near Hazel Green, Alabama.

 Most of the fields around Huntsville have already been picked and baled, many of the bales already transported to cotton gins for processing. I was lucky to catch these unpicked fields on the way up to Fayetteville, Tennessee this morning.

This was taken in the parking lot of the gas station across the road from this cotton field. Sorry for the lack of clarity. I lose a bit when I zoom in with my cell phone camera. [I really need a good DSLR camera--oh, well--Have iPhone, Will photograph] As a spinner, I really would like to run over and pick a few bolls and take them home to spin. I generally do not pick field cotton because I have no idea about how long all the chemical residue lasts that is sprayed on the fields to defoliate the plants before picking. I do have a limited source for what I suppose you could term "organic" cotton  because the grower does not apply any herbicides, pesticides, or defoliants to her crop. She usually grows a small patch for school children to pick during the October Farm Days that they host. I got a whole Target bag full last year when I volunteered at the event. I was unable to volunteer this year due to family obligations.

I love the intense blue of the sky in this photo. You can see a little of the colors of the trees in the background. Had I been paying attention to the entire frame, I might have been able to compose a really nice photo with the autumn colors, the blue sky, and the white cotton, but I was mostly focused on the cotton. This is the same field as the one in the smaller photo above, made from the gas station.

I liked this shot of the farm structures in the background. I should have done some cropping before I added this photo, but I did part of the draft from my iPhone and didn't realize there was that much grassy foreground.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scenic North Alabama

Finally getting some colors down our way. This is a tree down the street that is looking good.

And a shot of the hills to the east.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ship Ahoy!

I was not familiar with Artist Trading Cards (ATC) when I was invited to join an ATC swap group through Ravelry, an online knit and crochet community, a few years ago. I had too many things going on at the time, so I didn't participate. One of the members recently contacted me and invited me to begin participating in the monthly swaps. Since I guess I have less going on these days, I decided to give it a shot.The size of these cards is the same as baseball and other trading cards, so you have to be able to think small. They can be done in any media and as creative as the artist wishes. The Ravelry ATC group members sign up each month if they want to participate, names are matched up (usually at least five per participant), then their finished cards are mailed out to the other participants. It is really fun to receive these little jewels in the mail.

Each month has a theme. Your cards should have something to do with the theme, but this is a rather laid-back group and there are theme options. The main purpose of the group is to have fun. One of the September themes was "Talk Like a Pirate" to commemorate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19. I decided on this Amazon parrot, inspired by a friend's longtime parrot companion, who might be saying "Ship Ahoy!" to the ship out on the water. Because of the small size, I had a little trouble keeping my hand still when I got around to trying to draw the ship in the distance. After practicing for a while, things got better and those are the ones I sent off to the other swappers this months. I kept this one as my example of this month's theme. (click on the red text for links for more information and on the photos because the cell phone format gets cropped on the right)

Here's the partially completed draft (I didn't get the full length of the card in the frame when I was making the pictures, so both edges got cut off)

And the finished card

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Lookout

This fellow was having a leisurely stroll on the fishing pier at Gulf Shores State Park when the wind picked up and he flew-hopped up onto the railing to get a look at the developing weather situation. Although fairly heavy rain was again headed our way, he did not seem concerned and just hopped down and continued strolling. The photo was made in July when we camped at the state park for a couple of days.

Monday, September 3, 2012

What We Have Here

is Yogi in full molt. I comb and comb and comb and comb. The other two buns make molting rather easy on me. Not so with Mr. Rexie. It brings back memories of all the years I saved Periwinkle's fur and blended it with wool for spinning. I called it Winkle Wool. Rex fur works like Angora, but is shorter. I believe that Yogi is producing a bumper crop of Yogi Wool.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Original Photo

Oops! I meant to include the photo I took of the heron in the last post, but didn't get around to it. Here it is.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Working on a watercolor from a photo I made at Gulf Shores, AL back in July.

 Backlit shot of a Great Blue Heron in a gnarly old Live Oak tree at sunset at the state park campground. Still have some work to do, but it's getting there. I guess.

I'm thinking I might like it better in oils or acrylic, so I might do another one.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Yogi says  "What's a bun gotta do around here to get some fresh grub and a treat or two? And how 'bout some housekeeping while you're at it? "

(the electrical outlet on the wall is not as close to his enclosure as it appears in the photo; with the angle of the shot, it looks like his pen is about a foot wide, but it's actually about 5' x 2')

Yogi is doing well. He and Pants amuse themselves by playing a bit of tag when Yog's door is open. Pants passes a good bit of time reclining beside the enclosure and ventures inside when  the door is open if Yogi will allow it. I think they might become buddies.

The girls are coming along, but are still not quite themselves since the loss of Mopsy. Matilda is nipping ankles less and is interacting with the cats a bit more. Today she stopped by Yogi's enclosure and had some dialogue with him that consisted mostly of grumping at each other through the wire.

Gabby's progress is somewhat slower. She is still shy and a bit grumpy. She keeps to herself and quickly runs back into her space whenever any folk approach, buns and humans alike.

They all seem to get along better with one another outside where they are less territorial. Unfortunately, it has been either too hot for the buns to go outside or it's been raining. I guess things are just going to take time. In the meantime, I'd better go refresh everyone's hay, bring out the treats, and tidy up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Watercolor Study

I'm trying watercolor again. It's been years since I've done any painting with it. The medium has always been difficult for me and I have been rather intimidated by it. I decided it's time for that to change. After working on a few paintings, I don't feel quite as uncomfortable with it, but I think it is no easier than before. After working on this study using a photo of a painting from an old artist's magazine, I could only say to my teacher "It's hard!" Her response would be a gentle chuckle and kind words of encouragement. I draw well when I practice, but have never felt competent as a painter.

Here's a photo of the original, a still life with a Roseville vase, fruit, and money plant (lunaria), 

and my version. [As usual, I've loaded these with the iPhone and the format cuts off part of the photo--click to view entire photo] Obviously, I changed the colors and the fruit. I also made some changes in the background because I did not want to attempt all that design in the drapery. I might continue to tweak it a little, but I think it's mostly finished--at least I am fairly happy with my version. Fairly happy.

Watercolor artists amaze me. These last few weeks have given me an even greater respect for their work.  I am fascinated by their skill and the way they manage the medium. I do not know if I will ever gain any proficiency with it, but working with it during this period of time in my classes has made me want to keep trying. I just hope that at some point in the course of these classes I will become more comfortable with my painting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I really, really do wish that Matilda would quit nipping my ankles!

That's all.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Yogi Update

Yogi is such a sweetie! He seems to be settling in and getting used to us. I know he misses his previous family, especially Ms. Ava, who was as good at spoiling buns as the rest of us. As he becomes more accustomed to his new home, his personality is coming out more. He is also beginning to cultivate a relationship with our big tabby cat, Pants (Pascal). Pants is still not quite sure what rabbits are and even though he weighs about 20 pounds, he is a little afraid of them. This has led to some humorous moments between him and Yogi, especially yesterday when Yogi hopped out of his enclosure and right onto the middle of Pants, who was sleeping belly-up beside the entrance.

I am still keeping Yogi separated from the girls. Since Mopsy died, Matilda and Gabby have not been themselves. Even though they were not what I would really call  bonded, Mopsy's absence has affected the behavior of the other two. The three of them were a bit grumpy when in close quarters, so they did not share living quarters, but they did enjoy being out in the playpens, both inside and out, where they had more space to hop around, socialize if they felt like it, or get away from each other. Now, Gabby has become very quiet and withdrawn, quite unlike her usual behavior. Matilda has become aggressive and belligerent, reverting to her old biting, boxing, and grumping actions and has bitten me on both hands and on one foot. Not nips, but honest-to-goodness bites which hasn't happened for a number of years. I have quite a bite on the fleshy part of the thumb of my left hand. I have been trying to give them extra attention, but I think it is just going to take time. I would have thought that maybe part of this is due to Yogi's presence, but they seem to mostly ignore him initially and are not housed in the same room with him at this time. Until their behavior gets a little more back to normal, I am not going to try to force anything.

(as usual, click on the photos if parts are cut off)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Scenic North Alabama

I haven't posted anything on this topic in quite some time. We went on a hike to the Madison County Nature Trail on Green Mountain today as part of our Fourth of July activities.

(click photo to enlarge if necessary

Interior of covered bridge over lake.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mopsy April 2002 - July 1, 2012

Mopsy, the retired museum bun. Five years spent at Burritt Museum educating school kids and general museum visitors about the relationship between domesticated animals and humans, then the last five here at the Huntsville Bunstead being spoiled and loved. Natural causes. She will be missed.

(click photos for full frame)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Introducing Yogi

What a handsome gentlebun has come to live at the Huntsville Bunstead. This is Yogi. He was the bun half of the bun and Guinea pig pair, Yogi and Boo Boo, who had been together for a number of years since 2006. Boo Boo departed this world some time ago, leaving Yogi with just his humans.

I had not planned to take anyone else's buns until we had less than three of our own, but Yogi's owners' children are all grown and in college or married with new grandbabies expected in August and October. Yogi's family mom is not going to be around much, so back in December we decided that he would come to live with us sometime before the new babies are born, especially since he no longer had Boo Boo for company.

He is a 6-year old neutered male Rex. Such a friendly bun, too, but a little shy right now. Reminds me so much of our beloved Periwinkle. I do hope he and I become special buddies. For right now, life is a little different for him with the new surroundings, the ladies, the cats, so we are taking it slow and trying to get him adjusted. He does enjoy the time outside in the playpens, a new experience for him.

(Now don't anyone be making comments about what a fat bunloaf he is--we're going to be working on that. Besides, back when I was a kid, gentlemen of his physique were called "portly.")

(as usual, click for full photo)

Monday, June 18, 2012


When you eat too much Father's Day dinner you lie down on the sofa.

When you lie down on the sofa you fall asleep.

When you fall asleep on the sofa you wake up with a cat in your face.

Don't wake up with a cat in your face.

(click on the photo for full size--if you dare)