We have returned. You may now recommence pilgrimages to the Queen's court.

I got a couple nice pictures from our visit to Nana and Peepaw's, where they have sunshine. We have to import ours at this time of the year. I'll put them in a new post late tonight.

I'm also almost finished with the current commission (that I should've done ages ago). It's a custom notebook, this one with spiral rings and acid-free paper. (Go to my Flickr account to see the first commission, on which I used the same kind of notebook.) That's what I was working on this morning.

I'm finally getting a chance to use this plastic rosary, and I've painted it to look like it's copper. Part of it turned out almost exactly the way I wanted it to; it's the color of an old penny. (Thanks, Michael.) But another part was darker, like a pretty grimy penny. And the rosary beads look more like black pearls than copper beads. It still works, but I wish I could remember how much of each color I layered onto the plastic, so I can get the same color every time. I'd repaint it, but I'm afraid to layer on more paint and then quick-dry it with my heat gun. The rosary bits are small, and I'm sure I've already melted some of the detail work. So I'm officially Quitting While I'm Ahead on that portion of the project.

In other news, I made a few calls to distant relatives to try to find out more information about my family tree. I started these conversations early this year, because I was feeling like my brother and I were the Last Mohicans. Both my parents are dead, and nearly all my direct relations are back East. So I'm filling a little of the void this way.

My brother's mother-in-law has done most of the heavy lifting. She's quite the expert. She's extracted individual information from the US Census and other public records into several reference books for genealogical societies. When my first niece was born, she decided to research our side of the family so Number One Niece would know as much as possible about both her mother and father's families.

But I think I'll wait until after the new year to make any more calls. I called one cousin on my mom's side, and his mother is in hospice (might have passed away by now). Then I emailed one of my father's cousins, to ask if her 93-year-old father could remember something -- and it turns out he died on Thanksgiving. I recklessly made a third call to another paternal cousin, and broke my streak. She and her father, who's had a few strokes but is okay, are trying to jog his memory by talking to a third cousin.

More on the art later.