When I look back on this year, one of the most interesting things for me personally has been the number of small changes that have occurred in recent months. When one considers such changes individually they don’t seem like much – but when I think of them collectively, their impact on me has really been pretty huge.

I had to deal with a few health-related changes (and challenges) this year. These were nothing in comparison to what I’ve previously experienced – which perhaps makes me quite sanguine about such matters – but such things still have their downsides – not least among which was the cancelation of various travel plans. Because of this, and a few other issues, towards the middle of the year, I found myself feeling at quite a low ebb both mentally and physically. A few changes helped me to work through my fug and come out the other side – not least among which was discovering open-water swimming.

It’s quite a simple thing – reminding yourself of what you can do, and making the effort to do it. But it can make all the difference.

Getting out in the water was a small change with big positive effects on me. And then – thanks not least to the supportive and encouraging comments that so many of you left here – I got over my fear and reticence, and I found a pool and gym I liked. I worked with a helpful trainer who developed a simple programme to help me, and, after just a few months of going to the gym a couple of times a week, I noticed that I was able to close a car door with my left arm for the first time since my stroke, and pick up a pan or plate with my left hand without worrying about dropping it. Wow! I also found that simply taking a couple of mornings or afternoons out from work, moving away from my desk, spending a few hours each week on my own, swimming, or working out, or simply relaxing in a fantastic hydrotherapy pool, has made a huge difference to my head space as well as my physical health. Small changes, big effects.

Another not insignificant change (though perhaps not the one that some of you were expecting, ho ho) was cutting off my hair, and going grey.

I’m not sure what I anticipated when I took Tom’s clippers to my head, and cut away my old, ratty dyed-brown bouffe.

I certainly didn’t expect to like it as much as I do.

I’d go so far as to say I love it.

Weirdly, and completely unexpectedly, this short grey hair just feels like me.

I’ve found I’m really enjoying seeing how the hair works with lots of different colours (yellow, orange, two-tone black and white) and it’s also really easy to manage (I just buzz it off every 3 or 4 weeks with Tom’s clippers on a number 7, then cut into it myself to make it a bit more ‘interesting’).

The meanings of hair – its care, its styling – are, as I’m sure you realise, not remotely frivolous. I wrote about the rich cultural significance of braids, and of my own braided hair at length in Handywoman, so it’s something of a shock to me to find that I enjoy this radically different hairstyle so much, and to discover that this new heid of hair has already shaped my identity in some way. For among its many other benefits of simplicity and ease of management, this inch of grey has somehow released me from any niggling concerns I might have harboured about my changing appearance and my ageing, wonky post-stroke body. And certainly, this feeling of contented ease in ones own (older) skin is not to be underestimated.

Finally, among all the other positive changes this year has wrought, I can’t not mention the arrival of this little guy.

Bobby is a very different puppy to Bruce (who now seems almost zen-like and philosophical in comparison) and there have certainly been a few interesting chewy moments (Bobby himself might tell you about those another time). But any predictable puppy-related challenges have been outweighed tenfold by the companionship of a dog with an extraordinarily sweet and affectionate nature. Bobby is now an integral part of the household, bringing much joy and laughter in his wake, and even great uncle Bruce (yes, the two of them share a ‘line’) has warmed to his unruly relative.

So from Bobby, Bruce, Tom and myself, thanks for being here with us through 2018. Here’s to a relaxing festive season, and another year of small, positive change.

93 thoughts on “positive change

  1. I loved reading this particular blog of yours. I too have gone through some challenges this past year, remaining positive is the key. I love that you are swimming, a sport which gives me great joy but I hardly do anymore. I am going to rethink how I can get that back intomylife. I love your hair, it sparkles just like you do. And I love Bruce and was hoping that he and Bobby would be mates. I wish you the best New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the year 2018 and sharing the patterns and your thoughts here on the blog. I cannot express what a joy it is to receive your books. The pictures are so beautiful and relaxing and everything is well made with high quality. I’m serious when I say that I always reserve a moment for myself when opening a new book from you. When the mailman brought Milarrochy Heids I had to wait a couple of days to have enough time to make some coffee and cake and then spend a looong moment simply enjoying the book. That’s my ritual when I open a new Kate Davies book! :)

    Have a happy holiday season and a very happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your reminders to yourself on self care are heard by some of us out here, too, so thanks for sharing them. Beautiful dogs – everyone loves a puppy photo, but I’ll always be a Bruce fan.

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  4. I started ‘working out’ a number of years ago when undergoing a family crisis and knew that I had to do something for myself. The family crisis has passed but working out continues and has made all the difference in my mental and physical well-being. I have also developed a number of close friendships with others who work out at the same time (6 a.m.) and we have formed a wonderful supportive community.

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  5. I’ve come to think of you as a very brave person. And very inspiring. Thank you for the clear, interesting, humorous and thought provoking way you share your thoughts, decisions, creative processes, the beautiful place where you live, your dogs… I love to read what you write, whatever the subject. And I love the p-e-r-f-e-c-t way you posts are punctuated and illustrated by Tom’s (outstanding) photos.
    Thank you Kate! Wishing you many blessings for the upcoming year

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing your creative output and some of your personal ups and downs in such a thoughtful way. Along with the amazing landscape and your beautiful dogs, it always makes for an uplifting and thought-provoking read. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a fantastic 2019.

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  7. Great post Kate, full of positivity. I am often accused of being irritatingly positive in the face of adversity to which I hold my hands up and say “mea culpa” but it’s helped me get through some challenging times! Loving the Christmassy doggies – my horses used to wear Reindeer ears and jingle bells at Christmas. Thanks for a great year and may 2019 be a happy, healthy and productive/creative year for you and Tom xxx

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  8. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a most wonderful 2019. I love your comments about your hair and your beautiful dogs.
    Please never leave the dogs alone in their lovely Christmas collars and consider removing the bells from them. I know it won’t be the same but the bells are dangerous. I had a dog wearing a Christmas collar just like the one shown in the first picture and he scratched at his neck and got a claw caught in the opening in the bell and really injured himself. The screeching was horrible! Luckily we were home at the time and were able to help him.

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    1. the dogs are never left alone in their collars. They wear them only briefly, for the purposes of photographs, like these, and to occasionally cheer friends and neighbours during the festive season.

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    2. Well done, Kate, for going forward in such a positive way all the time!
      Like you Ihad a Stroke, left side , a year ago; when I add up all my achievements, I see
      how much I have achieved! They all add up!
      Think I’ll work on my hair next . . . !

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  9. Thank you for letting us into your world! Merry Christmas to you and Tom and the pups. May 2019 bring continued health and happiness. ❤️

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  10. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I always get inspired by reading your blog. Bruce is getting greyer, our 2 girls are getting greyer, I am getting greyer but we all age and change and always finding the positive is the best approach to life!

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  11. Love the hair on you. Just happened on your blog and it immediately captured my interest. Just started my own blog myself. I have been thinking about it now for a year and finally made the plunge. I love real life experiences, especially positive ones, so I look forward to reading your posts. Have a great 2019 and a very blessed Christmas.

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  12. Happy holidays! I haven’t commented in a long while but I’ve been reading along. I’m happy that you are noticing the changes and improvements- I followed that same path after my stroke (at age 47) . Now 20 yrs. later I am still enjoying small improvements. Keep working on it. I love your new hair do. It makes life much easier to have maintenance free hair.

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  13. It’s interesting to observe how your beautiful pictures convey none of your heath problems or difficulties. I follow you on IG and every single post is just beauty, joy and natural wonders. I guess it would be easy for you to hide the darker aspects of your life and I admire that you share your personal struggles here on your blog. I wish you all the best for 2019. Love your designs, of couse, and the artistic quality of your photos.

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  14. A very positive, small, but not at all small, change in my life this year has been reading Handywoman and your posts. How can I express what you mean to me? Empowering, inspiring, comforting, challenging – to be and do better in the world and for myself and the people I care about. Love Bobby and Bruce. And what a sensible guy Bruce is!
    Thank you, Kate.

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  15. I used to dye my hair until chemo took it all and then it came back grey – and it is now white and I still like it. So I know how you feel. Yours is lovely.

    Thank you for letting us share in your life – it is a pleasure.

    love from Kate to Kate (and Tom and the hounds).

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  16. Dear Kate,

    Thank you for your most amazing posts.

    I have had a difficult 4 years and am trying to refocus my life.

    As a multi skilled artist/crafter I have enjoyed the fact that I can jump from one thing to another and do what I feel like.

    Sadly that the result of this is that I am a jack of all trades and master of none!

    I also find that things get started and not finished.🙄

    So I now realise that I need to specialise.

    Yarn has always been a part of my life, my grandmother and mother aways knitted and from a very young age I have loved knitting. Now going to be 52 next week and trying to be positive about the future. I want to focus on yarn.

    I am learning to spin it on a spinning wheel and educating myself about the different sheep.

    I have subscribed to your 12week knit program too.

    Kate I am so inspired with what you have done following your stroke. My issues seem so small compared to what you have had and are experiencing.

    You have inspired me to go back to the swimming pool next week too!

    I want to design but just need a course on how to get me from idea to creating a pattern. Do you know of any course?

    I which you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Thank you

    Regards Samantha Terry Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  17. Thank you Kate. You are an inspiration to me as I make my own way step by step through this life. Much love to you and your team,
    Kathryn

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  18. What a year you have had, and thank you for sharing your challenges and changes. Watching someone else go through life’s passages helps us go through our own. Oddly, I kept my hair very short for the two decades when my kids were growing up, but after menopause I went in the opposite direction and let if grow out. Being able to put my grey-streaked hair up in a messy bun is so simple, and because this is Canada and hats are de rigeur for many months, I don’t have to contend with flattened “hat hair”. Each to her own. Happy New Year.

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  19. Dear Kate
    Blessed Holidays to you and your sweet family.
    I have enjoyed the intimate and creative sharings here…you a true gem and an inspiration.
    May 2019 come with ease, grace and utter delight in the gift of life… for us all.
    Many thanks for the beauty you and those near create.
    Elyzabeth

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  20. Thank you for all the wisdom you impart, both knitwise and life-related. Best wishes for a festive holiday season and a wonderful New Year! (and hugs to B+B)

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  21. Kate,
    You have inspired me to count my blessings. I love your silver hair and watching Bobby grow brings me joy (and yearning for my own Black Lab). Happy Christmas and New Years.
    Barbara

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  22. Dear Kate
    such a precious creative soul so glad to hear you are finally taking time out just to …… be!
    It’s the begining middle and end of everything a little spaciousness. You may love some of Marion Woodman’s books on the conscious feminine, they have captured me!

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  23. What an amazing and wonderful post. Wishing all of you a merry holiday season, and a happy new year…. sending love and good wishes to all of you.

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  24. Bravo to you and your ongoing strength and courage in 2018. Your hair is wonderful, as is the exercise and swimming, but, those pups! They are beautiful ! Happy Christmas and I’m really looking forward to your new adventures in 2019. You inspire me with every post — thank you for your help

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  25. Such a wonderful and positive post! It’s the small changes over time that always seem to make the most difference in the long run, and some self care is never wasted! I love you hair, too, although I went an opposite route and dyed mine silver and turquoise and purple and blue. I embrace growing old disgracefully! My husband just muttered that I had finally joined the blue-rinse set!

    Enjoy the festive season and internet hugs to you and Tom, and pats to the boys. They are gorgeous!

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  26. More love and admiration for you. Bobby is adorable and Bruce is such an adult about his arrival it seems. We lost a dog this year leaving us a younger (but getting older) pet. We our too old to replace our love and so feel emptiness.

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  27. Sharing the fruits of your creativity have been a joy over this year, and sharing some of the more challenging aspects of your post-stroke life have been thought-provoking to say the least. Wishing you all a brilliant 2019.

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  28. I just recently discovered you, and I’m sorry it took me so long! I love your gray, short hair. I am a short-haired person, too, with curl that is unruly if it is more than a few inches long. I wish mine were totally gray, like yours! I think short hair really allows people’s eyes to be a major focus, and yours are so pretty.
    I so love your designs, and feel I should practice a bit before attempting one of the Heid patterns. They are absolutely luscious! Thank you for your amazing designs and spirit. You are an example, and a lucky dog for having Bruce and Bobby!

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  29. In your new-hair pictures you do look very happy, confident, and at home in your skin. Huzzah for sustainable life improvements!

    I myself am working up the courage for a big chop. Not yet.

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  30. Es hermoso cuando aceptamos nuestros cambios. Creo que allí radica que luzcamos hermosas, aún con nuestros cabellos grises.
    Eres un ejemplo para mí. Yo sufrí un AIT, ataque isquémico transitorio, en marzo de este año, producto del stress. Encontré en el tejido, la mejor manera de lidiar con ello. Felices fiestas!. Gracias por estar!!😘💖🙏

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  31. What a shining example you are to us all. I have loved following your posts, and this one is a lovely piece of positive reflection. Bruce and Bobby are just gorgeous….they’ll provide friendship for life to you both, without question. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I think your grey hair suits you so well, and I love the buzz! My hair has grown increasingly difficult to manage (thinning, curly, stringy) as I’ve gotten older and hormones are somewhat responsible. I cut mine off years ago like yours but it didn’t look nearly so well as it does on you! I’m tempted to try it again except for the fact that my husband might just drop dead of a heart attack from the shock. (He took my last much more minor hair change pretty badly!)

    You look peaceful and happy, and it is a good thing to see. Thanks for sharing these things.

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  33. It’s so interesting to see you wrap up the year with a post about small changes adding up to an overall substantial change. I have been on the same journey myself, although in my case it has been profound grief which was the catalyst for needing to make those changes. I want to say a huge thank you for your blog posts, and for your wonderful books, yarn, clubs and patterns. They have brought me joy in the midst of sorrow this past year. All the best to you, Tom, Bruce and Bobby this holiday season!

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  34. Kate, I think you and your new hair are beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your journey, which I find inspiring, and your creativity which never fails to spark my own imagination with a whole spectrum of future knitting projects and possibilities!!

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  35. Your sharing of life journeys you are living is wonderful to read. I also thank you for opening up Scotland to my husband and me. We have now travelled to Islay, the West Highland Way and lovely points in between. Best wishes for a lovely holiday season.

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  36. Thank you so much Kate, Tom, Bruce and Bobby for a wondrous, informed year of posts, patterns, books, and lovely photos from Tom.
    Your new Club is my third to join and I’m really looking forward to it!!

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  37. Seasons greetings Kate! Just over a year since I picked up one of your books in a wool shop and have really enjoyed learning from your designs, history and stories about knitting, been moved by your reflections on your life and loved Tom’s photos. Delighted for your business success too. More power to your elbow(s), as they say, for the coming year!

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  38. Thank you, Kate, for your honesty, your writing and your knitting ideas and patterns. I have been reading your blog for many years, and I admire your courage in addressing so many challenges. I enjoy thinking about knitting your patterns and finally do get down to it. Tom’s photos of you (Bruce and Bobby) and Scotland are awe inspiring. Many many thanks again for your blog.
    I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. And may the New Year continue to bring you joy and energy.
    Jan

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  39. I stopped the perms and occasional color/frost treatments years ago. Grey/white/peppered hair rocks.
    Thanks for the inspiration about self-care through gym time. Something I needed to hear, and something I will heed.
    Happy Christmas and good New Year to you and your and your merry band.

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    1. I’ve been going regularly to the gym for the last 10 years or so, and I will be 60 next birthday. I go early in the morning, long before the scary beefy boys (the ones who exercise in front of the mirror) and just do my workout. It becomes a habit! We older women need to look after our bones: 10 years ago I was in the verge of osteoporosis but managed, with weight training a part of the process, to improve my numbers. I’m heading backwards again now but I’ve delayed the inevitable and won’t stop exercising as long as I’m breathing. Just do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. What a lovely post! I think your hair looks great. I had a similar experience of feeling more like me when I stopped coloring my hair. I was spinning so many beautiful shades of wool, and I wondered why I was covering up the variations of gray on my own head when I thought the sheep colors were so beautiful. It was refreshing just to let my hair be.

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  41. All I can say is a big THANK YOU to you, for everything, I could witter on for a goodly while listing all the things. I hope you know how much you are loved.

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  42. I loved reading this, and I especially loved the photo of you in your swimming costume, waving back across the water. Such enjoyment of life in that image! I am delighted that you have found trying different exercise so beneficial including with your arm strength, that must have been thrilling. Your last post was an amazing list of achievements in 2018; I wish you all good health, happiness and continued creativity for 2019 – along with opportunities to relax and recharge! Oh, and Bruce and Bobby are so, so gorgeous :-)

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  43. Happy holidays to all of you too! I have very much enjoyed discovering your work and blog (and Tom’s) this year. You have inspired me to try thinking about my world differently next year, and I’m looking forward to the knitting club xx

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  44. What a lovely read and recollection of some key moments and events from the past year – feels like we’ve been on the journey with you 🙂.

    Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you and all at KDD.

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  45. Sláinte! Kate,
    So glad you discovered swimming and you are getting your mojo back. Your silver hair is lovely and besides marking an important transformation, rocks! 🧜🏼‍♀️
    (Disclaimer: I’ve been swimming and sporting silver braids for 30 years 🤩)
    Looking forward to getting to know you and your knitting community this Knitting Season 🎄🐏
    Cheers-Tracey

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  46. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones….Your fur-faces are so adorable…I too cut my hair very short this year….it has been life changing for me….I am much more kind to myself for some reason because of this change. Never expected that, but am happy happy happy for it all.

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  47. During a year of daunting challenges for myself, I have found your blog to be a source of insight and comfort. As I traveled through a dibilitating condition, surgery, and recovery, I found myself reflecting on your courage and sense of adventure. I am so thankful that you have been willing to share your journey with us. I can’t express my gratitude enough.

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  48. Dear Kate,

    I want to subscribe to the limited edition subscription bundle (£ 100,-)

    Can you let me know how to pay ? Visa ?

    Greetings and thank you for all your information and books.

    Martine Vermeire
    Krielweg 1
    9980 SINT-LAUREINS
    Belgium

    Like

  49. Kate, you look swimmingly beautiful! Especially wearing your doocot sweater. I bought the patter for it and I am hoping that it will look as good on me ☺ I love reading your blog and admire your courage and strength. All the way from Canada, I wish a Merry Christmas to you all and all the very best for 2019 🎉

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  50. Inspiring and awesome!! Just reading Handywoman and love it. Having experienced my own health related issues and limitations, it really struck a chord. Thank you xx

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  51. If I can think of exercise as something I am giving myself rather than something on my ‘must-do’ list, I have an easier time not only doing it, but I find I enjoy it so much more. And kudos to you for being able to appreciate what your body can do, rather than what it can’t. That’s a journey I’m on as well, but each step forward seems like quite a struggle.
    This has been an exciting and wonderful knitting year for me as I’ve stopped putting knits for myself last. I’ve also tried to focus on what I’ll wear, rather than just what I like the looks of. So, when I saw Coinneach, I knew it would be just the right thing to add to my wardrobe. I ordered the book, the kit, and knit it at once. I’m now in danger of being asked if I actually own any other sweaters!
    Next up, several new heids, at least one of them for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There you go – see – you are a whole unique person!!! And – you are making a difference in the world – not just creatively – but by being such an exemplary life model. Such a pleasure to receive your musings
      Maureen

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  52. Well hello Kate my name is Sarah and I have followed the exploits and achievements of you, Tom and Bruce for quite a few years now. It is great to hear that you have turned your year around and I wish you a grand and ‘positive’ 2019. I live on a narrow boat with my husband David and our two elderly border terriers Teasel and Tansy. I greatly enjoy your publications and knitting up a storm with your patterns. So have a lovely Yuletide. Oh and a big welcome to young Bobby. Sarah

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  53. At 47, my longish hair is mostly the same color it always was (dark blonde), although there are plenty of white hairs hidden in there. I haven’t dyed it— I don’t look good with anything above a below-the-chin bob, but I mostly have just below shoulder-length, and dyeing all that hair sounds like a pain. My 16-year-old daughter thinks that older women with long grey hair are, to put it indelicately, badasses. :) She does have a point. And you definitely rock the grey hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. What very festive doggies! I was hoping that we would soon hear from Bobby, once he learns to write, of course. Thank you, Kate, for a wonderful year of your designs and thoughts, for Tom’s beautiful photography, and for your sharing your world with us. Merry Christmas to you all & a Happy New Year!

    Like

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