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Last weekend we went swimming at a small pond nearby. Another of my “discoveries” of well-known places I had not known before.

Swimming in fresh water felt funny – much different to what I know, but still fun and refreshing despite the muddy bottom of the pond. I admit that stepping on the rather slimy ground wasn’t enjoyable, but since there was no fear of sea-urchins or other dangers lurking below, I didn’t mind it all that much.

I did enjoy how far you can go with one stroke, and most of all the fact that you can see trees above your head while you swim. That was a real treat! Some people were jumping from the top of that rock in the photo above, but that seemed to add extra work to the unfortunate grounds guard, who had to come and tell them it is not allowed. Lots of splashes and laughter was the overall verdict.

Swimming in a small pond still pales to swimming in the Mediterranean (tough competition, I know), but doing so for longer than the initial surprise would only take away from the experience itself in its own right. The truth is that I had fun, it was refreshing and relaxing, and I am certainly planning to do it again as soon as I get the chance!

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Last weekend we went to this exhibition at the Met. Ever since I first laid eyes on the manuscript, my mind has been filled with the tiny, superb images. Looking at them truly gave me a feeling of peace and focus. I must have been ready to be amazed, a mental state that gets constant and immense satisfaction in a museum. Indeed, everywhere I looked, I felt inspired and awed by the beauty, hard work and attention put into the creation of practically every item on display, as well as its presentation, conservation, and care by everyone in their path through history.

At last, with this weekend just rolling in, and ‘assisted’ by the insomnia that has been a constant reality of late, I took out my childish tools and began copying some of the simplest designs on the manuscript.

Remembering my art history lessons, and the basic principle of learning through copying from the masters, I also wondered about the thoughts that may have crossed the minds of those whose work I copied. I have no drawing skills myself, but copying helped me look closer, and understand the flow of the design much better than I ‘d ever have done by just looking.  And of course, it was fun playing with paper and my coloring pencils, drawing whimsical little swirls almost as if they appeared suddenly off the stems of the vine design. I am not sure I will have the time to fill a whole book (those guys had the financial backing of a Duke and 3 years at their disposal), but I can still try to imagine the joy of generating so much patience, so much perseverance in order to complete even a page of such a masterpiece!

Going left on the sparkling path, we found a swamp! Who knew! … well, okay, pretty much everyone in town knows, except for myself. Because walking there would have taken hours. And although I work with maps, I haven’t yet bothered to consult one for the area. But now, with my new bike to take me places, my life has already improved!

Following the boys, who always like to push themselves, meant we drove past it very fast. Good exercise, but not much time to stop and take photos leisurely. Next time I ‘ll go by myself, and stop as much as I want.

In book-related news, I have been reading the delightful 44 Scotland Street, by Alexander McCall Smith. I enjoy the language and the characters as much as I enjoy the fact that it takes place in Edinburgh, which I know and love so much. I am looking forward to the rest of the books in the series, and the traces of a smile that I am left with when I think of them.

The sun was shining, we knew weather would take a turn to the worse in the next few days. The time was ripe for buying a new bicycle. The used bikes store had many options, but I immediately fell in love with this superb specimen. Add a front-loading basket, and off we went for the first ride of the year.

We arranged to meet with some friends, and decided to ride down the sparkling path all the way to the bridge over the river. The path was really sparkling, the wind was warm and fresh, the light soft, the view exquisite. We crossed the bridge and had some dried cherries and some wine, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. On the way back we stopped at a farm store and got dinner ingredients (asparagus alfredo over linguini. yum!)

I hear plans being made for today’s bike ride, involving stops for a snack and a beer. I love my new bike, and all the adventures it will lead me to!

All week long, since I saw this great tutorial for kids-friendly batik with glue by That artist woman, I have been thinking about making something like that myself. Friday after work was the only time I could make the trip to the closest craft store. I stocked up on brushes and glue, and bought some acrylic craft paint. I already have lots of fabric paint, but for the bulk of the fabrics I thought something cheaper will take away the fear of messing up.

Last night I made my glue design and left it overnight to dry.

Painting over the fabric was a new experience for me. I haven’t played with colors much ever since I was a kid, and it took me a while to figure out what I want to do with them.

My first try wasn’t as sophisticated as I would have liked it, but it was incredibly fun, and my impatience over rinsing out the glue turned out good, because it cleared off some of the excess color from the fabric, which I like.

After I was done, I was nowhere near ready to stop playing with the colors and brushes. There was plenty of fabric (IKEA white roll, I think it was sold as a cheap sheet), colors, and of course wax paper – very important to avoid ruining your work surface below. The colors bled immediately, as the fabric was so thin.

I made a couple of pillow tops, which I am very happy with. I had yet more color mixed after I was done, so I played a little with some smaller pieces of fabric, that will probably end up as zippered pouches. I am still tentative with my painting, but I am enjoying myself very much, and I know that the more I do it the better I will get in both ideas and execution.

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