Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dark days are here again

Alexia’s sweater is on the needles.  I started a larger size and realized that it wasn’t going to fit her for years!  This is the smallest size and will probably be snug but that’s in now instead of the sweatshirt baggy fit.  Even with the setback, I’m confident I’ll have it completed in time for Christmas.  The color is growing on me.

I sold 16 more towels through Facebook after the guild holiday sale so am once again trying to make more towels.  This is my busiest time for sales and I only have about a dozen left with nothing in my favorite color ways, so I thought I’d do another neutral fall palette.  It got a miserably slow start when I realized how deficient I am in cones of those colors and completely out of chocolate brown!

It’s hard to judge color on dark days and I finally had to admit that these two bouts are dogs and pulled them out.  Both of the greens have too much blue so may end up in the landfill.

I’m on the third towel but they’re so lackluster, I’m having a hard time wanting to sit down and weave.

Meanwhile I have these waiting in the wings.  I participated in a group buy of Brassard yarns from Canada through my guild.  Enough of us shared the order that the cost came out to about $7 for an 8 ounce cone which is $14 a pound.  The yarn is every bit as nice as Valley Cotton from Webs and the colors make me weak in the knees.

I bought seven colors and will use six of them in my next warp.  They remind me of zinnias.  Such happy colors.

I’m down to about a half dozen pairs of shoes and that’s because in the past couple of years my shoe size has gone from 40 to 41.  I think of shoes as an investment and keep them for years and years.  The two pair of Danskos that I just had to part with were 20 years old and still had at least another 20 years of wear.  But I digress.  I picked these up at Macy’s this week.  They’re a new line from Clarkes called Cloudsteppers, so named for the cushiony insole.  I’ve wanted some multi-purpose winter shoes and I’ve got them.  My tall boots still fit but after two years of tai chi, my calves have grown and they’re too tight!  I’ve been feeling besieged!  Ian suggested I take them to the shoe guy and see if the calf can be stretched since they’re leather.  It’s worth a try.

Meanwhile with the shorter and colder days I have turned once again to relief printing and just started this Lino cut today.  It’s part of a challenge to create a piece inspired by myself and from the list of thoughts I chose this one.  What best describes your comfort zone?  That’s easy.  Reading in my overstuff chair!

And speaking of books, I came across this in the latest BookPage while eating breakfast this morning.  I finished “Seven Days of Us” just yesterday and absolutely loved.  The setting is a family of four who are quarantined for a week at Christmas.  The holidays are a notorious challenge for most families under the best of circumstances, right?  This family hasn’t had a Christmas together for quite some time and the hope was that this one would be special.  It’s special all right.  To ensure nothing goes wrong, each has a secret that they feel they can’t share, to ensure that nothing spoils the holiday.  But the secrets have a way of leaking and finding each other.  It was absolutely delightful and I was so sorry when it ended.  Two thumbs up!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Holiday show and sale

I finished Heidi Kirrmaier’s Fine Sand sweater pattern in sport weight yarn from Bartlett’s in Maine.  It’s just the right weight to wear in the house and I’m really pleased with it.  The pattern called for 3/4 length sleeves but I made them full length.  Now it’s time to start the sweater my granddaughter requested for Christmas.

The yarn arrived and I’m glad to see that the Electric Blue she chose isn’t as electric as it looked online.  Kraemer’s doesn’t do the shipping.  They job it out to yarn stores that carry their yarn.  Mine came from The Skein Shop in Cincinnati and was here in four days.  The yard is cotton/acrylic and goes in the washer and dryer, perfect for a 13-year-old girl.

I was down to the wire, getting that last set of towels completed in time for the guild’s show yesterday.  I took my stuff in Friday night to the Environmental Center and helped Mary set up our booth.  She has all the wire walls and hangers and I was glad she freely shared.

I used the fruit boxes to show off the towels and also to conserve table space.

I even managed to make a bunch of dryer balls.  Because they were so small I ended up selling them at 4 for $10.00.

It was a beautiful day, crisp but sunny.

Business was brisk all day which meant no chance to sit down and somehow I managed to eat my sandwich, a bite here and a bite there.  I looked at my Fitbit sleep record for last night.  It shows that I got up to go the bathroom twice and apparently I didn’t even turn over all night.  I was exhausted!

It was a one-day show, from 10:00–4:00 and it was already busy when Ian came by about 10:30.  I made that bag years ago to hold my cash and phone with the PayPal scanner.  I know I should make more because I keep getting asked for them but I just don’t like to sew anymore.

Mary arranged this unit by color.  It drew people in but they the only thing I sold from this area was a table runner.

The two scarves I sold were from here on the coat rack.  These were heavily browsed but it’s the towels that were the star.  I only have a couple dozen left which means I need to get right back to work since I often sell through Facebook at this time of year.  I moved the Christmas tree and mini-sweater ornaments to this end of the table but even so sales were underwhelming.  Nevertheless, they drew people in and that was the point.  I’m glad it wasn’t any longer than it was because it was busy and loud - not complaining, mind you.  People even came after 4:00 when we were tearing down.  We sure didn’t expect that!

We awoke to snow this morning. Weather is really just a lottery over which we have no influence.  I am grateful for yesterdays sunshine.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

And another month bites the dust

I’ve been working like a mad woman to get another set of dish towels woven in the two weeks before the guild’s holiday show this coming Saturday.

It’s the other things that get in the way.  The art center was a flurry of activities Tuesday evening during my volunteer shift, in preparation for the big fundraiser Friday night.  Ana has set-making experience and turned two cardboard boxes into a fortune tellers booth.  I who do not have set-making experience spent the evening making pinwheels.

Alexis meanwhile worked on creating dumbbells for the strongman out of styrofoam balls and dowels.  The theme was Big Top Extravaganza and tied in with the current gallery exhibit of Dawn Emerson’s astonishingly beautiful circus prints.  I was picking up Melissa from the airport on Thursday and knew I’d have to miss it, but the excitement was palpable.

We ate lunch at Bethlynn’s Global Fusion and from there drove to Tumalo Falls, only 12 minutes from town.  I was trying to squeeze in as much as possible in her short three-day visit.

I suggested that Friday we see Despicable Me 3, McMenamin’s matinee movie.  She was game, loves the minions but we got there much too soon - the previous showing was still playing.  It was a beautiful day so we took a stroll through Drake Park on Mirror Pond which is aptly named for it’s gorgeous reflections of the huge willow trees along the banks.

McMenamin’s is a Portland-based company that buys historic properties for their brewpubs.  In Bend they bought the old St Francis school and created this small theater out of an old classroom.  The room next to it is a music venue.  We ordered lunch and settled down to watch.

Saturday was another beautiful autumn day, perfect for the High Desert Museum.  We didn’t realize it but Saturday night was the holiday party night for Bend businesses.  We were told that Deschutes Brewery sold 500 tickets for their party at the brewery.  The HDM was a flurry of activity, getting their Spirit of the West exhibit transformed into a spooky, haunted walk through time.

Sunday wasn’t quite as nice as Saturday.  The air was more brisk and clearly beginning to turn.  Nevertheless, there was evidence all over that a good time was had by all the night before.  I had watched the weather all week though and knew it would still be nice enough to walk around Bend and along the river, but first lunch at Wild Rose, our absolute favorite eatery in Bend.

Followed by a walk along the Deschutes River.  There was a definite nip in the air so the walk was much shorter than we had planned.

Melissa had been looking for a book bag everywhere we went but nothing we saw was sturdy enough for books.  We browsed through the cute shops and boutiques, planning to end our afternoon at Dudley’s bookstore, the cutest bookstore in the world.  It’s in an old brick two-story space downtown and advertises itself as a carefully curated collection of new and used books.  The last shop before we turned the corner for the bookstore had one lonely book bag, this one, and it was exactly what she had been looking for.  At $35, it was by far the cheapest.  It’s funny how that works.
Time for Dudley’s.  We took our time browsing and finally settled on a book each - Unbroken for Melissa and Hillbilly Elegy for me.  She ordered a glass of red wine and I ordered a beer, then we settled down on a sofa and read until we were satisfied.  Two of the things I had wanted to do, Dudley’s and Wild Rose, we managed to fit into a single day.  The World Series was on each evening and Ian, bless his heart, wanting us to have the best visit possible, took care of the evening meals except the one we ate out.
The last time Melissa and I got together was 3 1/ years ago, but we are lucky to live in the age of electronics where it’s easy to stay in touch.    It seemed like we had only seen each other the week before.  The temperature outside was 20 degrees when the cab came to pick her up for the airport at 4:30 in the morning.  Clearly we had a perfect window of time.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Road trip, part 2

The route from Rosburg, WA to Tacoma on Hwy 101 is much more scenic than I-5 and the drive was easy.  We were back to Rochelle’s house in plenty of time to pick up the cake and get to the skating rink.  The kids had the time of their lives - what a great idea for a family birthday.  As for me, I was glad it was only two hours.  I had already just celebrated my own birthday and was worn out, but the cake was great.

We piled into the car Sunday morning for a Quaker meeting, my first, in Olympia followed by breakfast in Steilacoom, the oldest incorporated town in Washington, established in 1854.  It’s right on the Puget Sound with the Olympic Penninsula in the distance.  It’s meant a lot to me to put places to names I’ve heard all my life.

I was eager to visit Fort Nisqually and compare their living history reinactment to ours at the High Desert Museum, however, Allison had just concluded an exhausting candlelit fundraiser, had just said goodbye to house guests and was looking forward to some downtime.  The next thing I knew we were all in the car, destination Point Defiance Park and the Fort.  I was so glad she changed her mind and came with us as her explanations were really insightful.

Fort Nisqually, named for a local tribe, is a stockade set in 1854 and completely different from the HDM’s Miller Ranch and Sawmill set in 1904 where we’re talking about the train and the Sears & Roebuck catalog.  Here the men married local Indian women called Metis which created a whole new culture of mixed-race descendants.  The women’s clothing is a blend of Indian and European. Like HDM the facility is only possible by dedicated volunteers.
All Hudson’s Bay facilities were on waterways to facilitate the movement of heavy bales of beaver pelts to the Eastern and European markets, so I was confused by the Fort’s location on a promontory.  But it was originally on the Sound, and in fact, the log structure on the right is one of two that were relocated.  When the property was purchased by DuPont, the stockade was recreated in Point Defiance Park, next to the zoo.

Monday morning Rochelle took us to Vashon Island, a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since reading Betty MacDonald’s book Onions in the Stew. (She’s better known for her children’s Miss Piggle Wiggle series.)  We hurried up to get near the front of the line and then visited while we waited.  The ferry is not a quick afterthought.  It runs every 40 minutes so if you miss it, it can completely throw off your day.

We walked down to the Point Robinson lighthouse and the lighthouse keepers Victorian buildings.  The five Campbell/Loans spent a picturebook week here this summer and want to plan a return visit with us next year.  I’m in!!

We wandered through shops, I bought another book and otherwise resisted temptation to buy because art is for sale everywhere.  Rochelle’s theory is that people create all through the dark winter months and then sell in the adorable shops all summer.
She took us to this quaint trail and the bike in the tree.  The story goes that a man laid his bike against the trunk of this tree and then was shipped off to the war.  The bike was forgotten and the tree grew around it.  There’s probably a less romantic true story but I like this one.  
We ate lunch at The Hardware Store in Vashon which earned all it’s stars and then it was time to line up again for the ferry.  It was a perfect day!

We were even treated to the appearance of Mt Rainer, another place I’m finally able to put a face to.  The colloquial expression is “the mountain came out.”  I didn’t notice it at first until later when I was asked if the mountain came out for us.  Well, yes she did!  Rochelle loves Tacoma and especially her northern location where can park her car for days on end. She walks to the grocery store, the library, her hair place and the elementary school where she picks up her grandkids after school. The two families live three blocks apart, close enough for convenience but not too close. What’s not to love?!

We packed in a lot in just a few days, so I’ll just say ate a lot, saw a lot and laughed a lot.  And we drank a lot of coffee (sign from the Raymond coffee shop.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Birthday Week

Ian and I drove up to Tacoma last Tuesday, spent the night and left with his sister-in-law for Rosburg, Washington to celebrate my birthday with my sister-in-law.  It’s confusing because they’re both my sister-in-laws, but Rochelle was Ian’s brother’s wife and Georg was my brother’s wife.

They don’t get any fresher than this!  I drove to Raymond where we all ate fried oyster sandwiches (from Goosepoint) at the Pitchwood Alehouse which had just opened.  It was 11:05 and they were just lighting the fireplace to take the chill off when we stumbled in the door.  It was Ian’s turn to drive and there was no way we were going to drive by the plant and miss a chance at the freshest oysters available to have that evening on the half shell, knowing how much Georg loves oysters.

The next day was Thursday and my birthday, and I wanted to celebrate it in Astoria.  It’s almost four miles across the Columbia River and the restaurant we had wanted to eat at was closed.  Even better, a Mo’s had opened in July and was right on the river.

They seated us at a corner table where we could watch the ships and seals in the river.  I had pan blackened fish tacos and I know, I know, it’s a chain with a simply menu but I still love Mo’s.  Rochelle is behind me and Georg is straight across.

Ian suggested we drive home the “scenic” route and detour to the Port of Ilwako to get fish for dinner.

To my surprise there was a very cute independent bookstore on the harbor called Little Time Books.  It took me a day to realize the name is from the saying “so many books, so little time.”  Anyway, it was my birthday and I bought myself a present.  I’ve heard that I’m in for a literary treat.

We took Rochelle for a drive around the Grays Harbor area which included a historic marker for the point where Lewis and Clark found the river and discovered they weren’t at the ocean yet, hence the name “Cape Disappointment.”  This littlest island was at the end of Altoona Road and the river is so huge that it looks like an ocean!

Next stop, the Grays River covered bridge, the only functioning covered bridge in Washington.  According to the historical marker it was built by the Ahlsburg family who owned the property on both sides of the river.  They built a bridge so they could drive their cattle from one side to the other but it was too wet and mucky to be functional - so they covered it!  It’s maintained by a local interest group and the weekend prior had been the venue for a 4H fundraiser, with cloth-covered tables and chairs and a catered meal inside instead of cars.

This is the Grays River from Georg’s front yard.

I love this place!  Saturday morning we piled back in the car and headed back for the Loan/Campbell birthday celebration.  Rochelle’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren have birthdays within six weeks of each other so they rented the roller rink for two hours and invited all their friends.  Next stop Tacoma!