Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last Day of April

Today is the last day of April and the temper-
ature this morning is 28. I can see my breath as I take this picture. It blew furiously all day yesterday, bringing yet another cold front. My day lilies are prostrate - again. We ran out of firewood over the weekend but Ian was able to scrounge some downed trees so we have a fire in the woodstove this morning.
This appears to be another year where we will skip Spring entirely. I need to get tomatoes planted even so, and will put them in Walls of Water this weekend. Otherwise, the growing season will be too short.
On the good news front, I stopped to snap this shot - no, the place isn't on fire. Our neighbor, Joe Winter, is a potter who participates in a community wood-kiln firing, and clearly today is the day they're firing for the Spring show this weekend. Joe saw me, waved and started walking down the driveway, so already late for work anyway, I walked to meet him. He reminded me that the show is this weekend and asked me to bring soap down. I sold enough soap at his Christmas sale to pay for part of this computer. This is very good news. More good news is that the quakes seem to dimishing.

Check out this Palette Generator, sent to me by a friend in California. I tried it on my photos of Nevada, using a variety of seasons, settings and times of day, including sunsets. The palettes are really exciting and I think will be a wonderful took when I plan my next dye day. Warning, once you start, it's pretty hard to stop - just one more photo, okay, just one more...

I realized as I was ready to his Publish Post, that it was two years ago sometime during this month that I posted my first blog. I've made so many wonderful friends in that two years. How quickly that time has gone.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring in Nevada

It's starting to look like spring. I know, I know. I've said that before. But this morning when I took the dogs for their walk, I didn't have to bundle up and it sure was nice for a change.

The desert peach is now in blossom; it's a front runner of blooming things here. This color will last another couple of weeks and I can already see the bitter brush queueing up behind it with yellow bud nubs.

We walked to where the folks raise the wolves before turning around. Mim says she can always tell where I have taken my pictures. I'm sure she'll weigh in on desert peach too, since her farm is named for it, but she is still in the middle of the lambing season from hell.
Ian discovered that we have a new wildflower growing just inside the gate and had me walk up with him to see it a couple of weeks ago. It's been so cold, it has been in a semi-wilted state, huddling while waiting for warm. Today I could see the bracts had opened into flowers so I could identify it.
It's a shy wild flower, the blossoms hang their heads. It's called Brown's Peony, or paeonia brownii, and it appears there is more to come from this plant. Our book says, "As striking as the flowers may be in bloom, they are even more so in seed, for the pistils enlarge and enlarge until they're 2-4" swollen sausages. The weight of these amazing seedpods, even with the petals and stamens having fallen off the plant, is enough to pull the pods and sepals almost all the way to the ground." It's always exciting when a new-to-us wild flower appears. The California poppies that had seeded themselves up on the road didn't survive the winter. I was disappointed.
Look at my poor day lilies. They have wanted so badly to grow and they give it the collegiate effort, to be slapped back down by another cold spell. And they're supposed to get slapped down again over the next couple of days. We are so close to being out of firewood and now it looks like we'll be using our last twigs.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

House/Studio Cleaning

I was pretty tired this weekend after all the energy spent on our San Francisco visit and four days of work. I had "plans" but realized that I didn't have the umph to carry them out for decided to spend a little time organizing my studio. I have bags of stuff that I have shuffled from spot to space for literally years. I decided that I'd identify what was in the bags and either do something with them or move them on. I have eliminated all but these three on the floor and there are still another half dozen little ones in the closet.
One bag had some stuff from over five years ago at least. When I blended them up and spun them, that obnoxious bag turned into these two skeins of yarn. I'm on a mission.
And another bag contained clots of Border Leicester that I had felted when trying to dye the locks with lupin a couple of years ago. I patiently picked through the locks and ran the good stuff through my drum carder to get these batts of yellow fluff. Laura had said to me when I was so enthralled with natural dyes that it's pretty straight forward. Most all plants dye up yellow.

And in answer to Birdsong's question, the Turkoman rug exhibit was thrilling. I had seen one of Silk Road bags at the Textile Museum in Washington DC and I had also seen an Ikat weaving exhibit at the Met in New York. Both had supplementary educational information, about the region and the peoples. My disappointment in this exhibit, and it was absolutely spectacular, was the lack of supplementary information.

It's a been unsettling, pun intended, in Reno as of late- you may have heard the news. We are experiencing an epidemic of earthquakes as reported by the USGS, and they are keeping people pretty shook up. Ian and I are 35 miles north of Reno and our house is on bed rock so we haven't been feeling them here. Amy said one of her collectible sheep feel last night and broke his legs in an unglueable way. If you look at the site I linked to, below the map is a list of quakes, the date and time and magnitude. Folks in Reno are pretty jittery right now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

San Francisco

In San Francisco, the city of self expres-
sion, you get this. It's the door to a flat that we walked by on our way home.

And you get this - the new DeYoung art museum. I wanted to see the exhibit of historic Turkmen-
istan weavings. We took the bus and had a transfer pass that would have allowed up to also visit the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which had a photographic exhibit that I wanted to see. By the time we left, I wasn't so keen on catching it after all.

I think my favorite exhibit was the city, as seen in the observa-
tion tower. This view catches the natural history museum, which will reopen in September. Sharon has already bought passes and I think it's symbolic that the hospital where Noah was born in right behind it.
Of course I could never do the museum justice, but I wanted to share this quilt, cum wall hanging. It's made from the aluminum caps from twist off wine bottles. You'll have to click for big to believe me.
And I do apologize that I don't have picture editing software, because this George Washing-
ton image is created from sewn dollar bills. I hope click for big will do him justice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Recent Acquisitions

This the Schaeffer's Elaine that I chose for our new grand niece or nephew. Since we still don't know what Allison is expecting, this seemed safe, but there were a couple of other color pathways that were really calling to me. I also want to knit that great baby sweater pattern that Jodi sent me. She comes up with the greatest baby sweaters.

Noah's hat was so much fun. I have to admit that it was great having him right there while the hat was growing. He kept checking on its progress. For you who haven't seen me knit, I'm a Continental knitter - it's the way my mother taught me - and its really fast. Only Hermi Hiatt knits faster than I do. I'm not saying that I'm a good knitter, but I am fast. That said, I went back to the shop and bought more balls.

ImaginKint had these hats in the window so I bought the pattern. I wanted to get a hat made while we were there - no muss, no fuss. I asked the guy in the shop (notice I said guy) what yarn he would recomend and he directed me to the Karabella Aurora 8. It's a washable wool and really lovely and really spendy, but it's my grandkids so that doesn't count. Alexia's berry hat is finished and I have enough for at least three more hats.
We stopped at Ikeda's in upper Auburn on the way. It's a fruit stand on steroids and it's been there ever since I moved to the foothills in 1972. They've added a bakery, local honey, nuts and it's hard to escape for under $50. Speaking of steroids, will you look at this artichoke. It is no more - I ate it for lunch yesterday.

I added the dinner fork for perspective.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Ian and Mission High School, from Dolores Park. Please indulge me. We took a four-day weekend to spend with our kids in San Francisco. Can I help it that the weather was absolutely perfect - for one day and just this day only?!
Noah is pre-
occupied with the bandaid on his hand, but Mom has a smile for us. This day, this moment in this park is the only spring that we have had this year. I'm feeling pretty giddy.

He's such a boy. But he's still got plenty of room from Grandma. We started this day with a visit to the yarn store, and continental knitter that I am, we ended up with what he calls his "blueberry."
And had has plenty of room for Papa. The racket is so he can hit balls for Papa to chase - or so he thinks.

Noah's "blueberry."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Multimedia message

I love this yarn store- it is huge and has tons of atmosphere, not to mention all the different yarns to chose from. I left with only one bag and spent more than I had expected, but I did get some really pretty baby sweater yarn!

Multimedia message

This is the Flood building and our view from Nordstroms where we took Little Sharon and baby Noah for lunch today. San Francisco is all about food. Beryl is right - we are staying in the Mission District and my tree picture was a block from Dolores Street and a block from the historic Mission. Life is good.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Multimedia message

When in San Francisco one must eat ethnic, as part of the experience. This is Sushi Boat. You sit around the island with the chef in the middle, who keeps the sushi coming around on little floating boats. You take what you want. Who knew you could overeat sushi?!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Multimedia message

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now We Are Three

Our small hand spinners flock just got a little smaller this morning. For the last three years, our black wether George, has bloated and been lethargic with the small amounts of grass that manage to survive long enough to be eaten. The other boys don't seem to be affected. Ian thought George was close to being back on his feet last night, but a cold front blew through yesterday, dropping temps this morning into the low 20s. I just don't think George had the stamina to weather the weather. When Ian checked on him this morning, he had just died. I had to help Ian load George into the truck. He took him up into the hills to a spot that he likes and gave him back to the earth. I know it means the coyotes will eat him, but somehow, it seems right.

I grew up on a farm and thought I was good with the whole thing. I mean, we knew it might happen. But within an hour I was physically sick. I have lots of sick leave and I decided that using a day of it today was prudent, since we're headed to San Francisco to see our kids in two days. I'm also hoping to be able to hook up with Sylvia. We've swapped cell phones numbers and just need to see what transpires.

I was feeling restless and blah so decided that the best medicine would be to go up and clean my studio. I blended some fiber to spin for bags, threw more stuff out, put stuff away and shelved magazines and books. Charlie was happy to keep me company and I was happy to have his company.

Charlie often will stay with me in the studio. Not so much Buster. He must have sensed my feelings because here is, not actually in with me, but still with me. I decided to wind a solid color warp and try to weave a couple of tea towels in a twill pattern. I've never done it and it's about time. There's nothing quite so zen as winding a warp. It was the prefect activity.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Where we live

If you leave Reno, Nevada and drive north toward Susanville, California, thirteen miles after you pass Hallelujah Junction, you'll see a sign for Red Rock. That's where we live. Red Rock Valley is a geographic designation on a USGS map, and it's home to us. We are on the cusp of California and Nevada - so we get pretty without having to pay California state taxes.

The closer you get to our turn-off from Highway 395, the more red the rocks appear. This was an acknowledged route to overland travelers, dating back to the westward migration over 150 years ago.
The loveliness of these out-
croppings thrills me even yet, but the road scares me to death. I still quail at driving on a two-lane road, 70 miles an hour into oncoming traffic and I get passed all the time, like I'm driving too slow.
This is a partial view of Red Rock Valley - it's really big - but it's the view westward that we have from our living room. Sometimes when I'm at the gas pump, I wonder what on earth we were thinking when we moved so far away from our jobs. But then I think about how short life is, and I ask my myself what I lost when I gave up disposable income for meals out after work. We live in vacation land every day. What did we lose??

I'm absolutely thrilled - my neighbor Mim has started blogging. She says she was driven to it by my blog of Zephie, her little lamb born in a great Nevada wind. Another Shetland shepherd!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring Flounders, I Think

Mornings are clear and cold. We still need a fire to make ourselves com-
fortable. We are getting low on firewood. This morning the llamas seemed to be happily kushed, but they did have frost on their backs. The calendar says it's spring, but my eyes aren't seeing spring.
By the time I drive home from work, this is what I see. This has been an unusual year - to stay so cold, con-
sistently for so long. We're going to San Francisco next week for a couple of days to see our youngest grandson, and his parents, and when we get home I'm planting tomatoes in Walls-of-Water, and they will grow because I say so. I've had enough.

As for the indigo dye bath, I realized that I didn't tell Sara that I have freeze dried indigo when I asked for her advice. I think I only need lye, and as a soap maker, I have plenty of that. I took an indigo dye workshop from Judith MacKenzie at Black Sheep Gathering a number of years ago. She told us that we needed an electric pot to keep the bath at a consistent temperature. That's how I plan to use the turkey roaster. The rest of the plan is rather nebulous but I expect blue.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Full Weekend

Feeding the sourdough starter every day for the three days prior to baking has made bread a whole new game. Yesterday I added four cups of white flour to the starter and then stopped to pour the new bag of whole wheat into its cannister. By the time I was ready to start adding the wheat flour, the dough was already bubbling. Look at the size of this bubble. I've never had energetic bread dough this this before. It truly is a living thing.

And yesterday I finally finished these socks that I started before New Years so I'd have something to knit on the plane. This is my first purple article of clothing, and I wore them today with my purple clogs. They're Little Arrowhead from the Harmony Guide of pattern stitches. I did so much ripping and reknitting that I should have four socks. I have decided that I am *not* a lace knitter.
Allison invited a couple of us over to celebrate Amy's birthday, birthday girl on the right. At first I looked at what was on the agenda for today, thought about the two hour round trip and then thought about how much these friends mean to me. Allison was teaching at Jimmy Beans until 12:30 so the invitation was for 1:30. Ian and I had friends coming for dinner at 4:00 and the grandkids were getting dropped off at 6:00 (date night for Mom and Dad). I am so glad I went - short as the visit was - there's nothing are rich as as old friends. Okay, *one* of us are old.
An unex-
pected bonus today - it's a turkey roaster. I asked Sara's advice on an indigo bath. I'd like to take one to the St. Mary's Fiber Retreat in June. She told me where to get Thiox and told me pick up a turkey roaster. She said they're cheap at box stores. Well, maybe in November, but I couldn't find one to save my life in Spring. I've been everywhere, so today I went to town a couple hours before the party and tried more obscure places, like thrift stores and Twin City Surplus. I was running out of time but tried one last thrift store. Bingo - here's the prize for $15.00 and no tax.

I got home before our friends - actually, I passed them on our 22 miles of two-lane road. They shoveled llama guano into the back of their truck for their organic garden before we had an early dinner, the last of the lamb chops from Mim's locker lamb. We had lost touch with each somehow and it was a great visit. Grandchildren were delivered on time. I took a walk with the kids - their requirement - and I read them five books before bed. Everyone is sleeping now but me, and I'm going to sit back, relax and see what you all have to say. It's been quite a weekend, full to the nth and I feel very satisfied - and tired.