Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Cheer

We babysat five-
year-old Alexia last night. We watched Mama Mia and she danced all through it. Afterwards I read her two stories - she collapsed into sleep at 9:30 and slept until the same this morning when our lab Sammie licked her in the face.

We made cookies after breakfast. These are Snickerdoodles with sprinkles. We waited until Mommy could come because Snickerdoodles require cream of tarter and someone's grandmother ran out.

It's so hard to wait until cookies cool. All that work to form the cookies into exact balls, roll the balls in sugar, smoosh into sprinkles - and then, sigh. Wait. They passed the test - phew. Grandmother skills were on the line.

Papa put up the tree and we began to get out the Christmas boxes. We have a small collection of Woof n'Poofs - Christmas stuffed characters, mostly Santas. They're handmade in Chico. Lex is straightening out Santa's mohair beard. She got them all out and then carefully wound all their music boxes.

We've given into Alexia's enthu-
siastic and artistic directions. Why not - isn't this about kids? And we have a little help from the first floor, though it's not clear where center is. We have an open house on Christmas Eve. I asked Ian if we should fix this but he likes the Lexie Shrine.

Checked and approved by the artistic director.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving plus Christmas Trees

We had a wonderful Thanks-
giving and followed it up the next day with the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. This year we are five vehicles, eight Forest Service permits and 14 people, including four small children. Our tradition is now in it's 7th year.

Ian has our tree, and while I know he's disap-
pointed that I picked a smaller tree, I think it will be nice not to have it dominate our house for the whole month of December. It's in the garage, dripping - coming inside house tomorrow.

SIL Paul, DS Josh and grandson Logan were going down to saw another tree. I begged for a pose and this is what I got. Goof balls. Ian and I have had the surprise and joy of seeing our adult children become really good friends. These two boys are just silly, or in the words of one grandson, "thilly."
DD Marji and DIL Missy are hauling up one of two trees that will be going back to Redding. Paul and Margi cut an extra tree for his parents. We have the permit, of course, and while no one is checking, we think it's important to buy a permit for every tree - support your local sheriff.
Because I'm the photo-
grapher I'm never in pictures, I asked Ian to shoot me. Why is my right hand in my pocket? Because I don't know where that glove is - I shoot pictures with my right hand. Also, notice that my coat is open from the bottom. That's because I hide our Nikon DSLR camera inside my coat. I'm oh-so-wet.
We are all so wet and we are so cold and we are having so much fun. One of the things that Ian and I give thanks for is that our combined families are now genuine family. Christmas present? This is it. DIL Missy is with "cousins" Elise and Evan. Our grandkids know each other as cousins and that makes my heart soar.

This is our group. Thanks to our neighbor Liz, I get to be in the group shot - at least my yellow coat does. She took a great shot and I'm glad because we had a great time. We went down to Chilcoot and had a meal at the only eatery - and that was great fun too. Great~

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Frustration. I thought today was going to be a chill day before cooking for Thanksgiving but when I turned on my computer this morning, I had a message from Joe Winter - Pottery sale this weekend, bring soap. Gotta go back to glazing.

I thought it was next weekend and I was going to stop by Office Depot to print more soap labels *next* week after my haircut. Since I needed to update labels to match new stickers I ordered - two hours on the computer. Then walk dog to mailbox to send letter. I'm not exercising the dog - it's me.

Drive to town, buy five books - University bookstore having a 40% booksale today only. Get home at near dusk.

More frustra-
tion. I knitted this pair of socks from Tofutsies yarn and have probably worn this pair a dozen times. I was stunned to find this one in the laundry, minus the sole. I have knitted and worn dozens of pairs of socks. I have never worn out the sole, more likely the heel. I checked the soles of other socks and I find a felted web, probably from heat and friction. Not happy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

Ian and I drove the ten miles up to Doyle, California today to mail some packages at the post office. Here's a little Doyle humor. To give some perspective, Doyle is located 40 miles southeast of Susanville in Long Valley at an elevation of 4275 feet - our house is at 5,000 feet. It's 45 miles northwest of Reno and has a population of 1,175. In other words, there isn't much Doyle in Doyle, other than the gas station and post office.

This is another once upon a time place in the high desert. The area is highly agri-
cultural, mostly beef cattle and hay, no boom and too much bust.

Once a thriving church, this structure is now the lonely sentinel of the local cemetery.

We drove into a ranch on the way home because a roadside sign advertised hay for sale. They've been in the hay business for a long time, by the look of things. We wrote down the phone number on their sign to call from home.

Since there's no place to eat in Doyle, we decided to drive down to Chilcoot. We snagged friend and Chilcoot denizen Toni, who was cleaning llama poo and took her with us the local and only eatery. She forgot that she had her house phone in her pocket so got some interesting noises. Have I mentioned how much I love retirement?

We got home to a phone message about a great hay deal and ended up ordering a ton. How about them apples?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Early in November I dyed up a pound of yarn in my oven, using four related color pathways which I blogged about here. I hadn't planned any colors when I started but apparently my mind was stuck in a violet mode. I'll look for ideas outside my head when I dye the next batch.

I finished spinning, washing and fulling the skeins yesterday. The good news is that they all can be used together. The bad news is that they really aren't very different. I have Deb Menz's Color Works book on the sofa with me and am thinking about color, color color, but different color. I'll be looking at my Photoshop results too.

For years I've been asked if I sell my handspun and I have emphatically said no. I've decided to put these skeins in my Etsy store and see what happens, because I have one guaranted customer. Me.

Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. We always go up here the day after to cut Christmas trees, and this year it appears that we will have to deal with mud and snow. That's five days from now!

Afterwards we go to a small cafe in Chilcoot for breakfast, but it's going to be bittersweet. It's the last year for DS Josh and his family as the moving van cometh on December 1st.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

It was a Good Day

I had to make soap this more morning and after that, went upstairs to tie on my warp - all solitary endeavors. I called Mim. Can I come over and play at your house? We visited in her fiber room and I played on her Patrick Green's Super Card with merino, silk, angora and sari silk. This is what how my blended merino batts ended up.
What has Sammie and Buster looking out the window with such longing? You can see that they want something. I just realized that next month it will be a year since Sammie adopted herself to us.

They want to go outside but they don't want to go outside in this. It started to fall while I was at Mim's and by the time I opened and closed two gates, I got home like a wet dog myself.

I spent the rest of the afternoon updating my Etsy site and have finally uploaded some soap sales. The link in at the top of my blog. It was a good day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Texsolv Heddles

I got the Texsolv heddles installed on my LeClerc loom and finished threading the warp this afternoon. I wound this warp over a year ago after Leigh was experimenting with Ms and Os. I made a set of towels and really like how absorbent the weave is. I decided to see what I would get with a white warp and bright weft but I hate to change the tie-up on my Gilmore so didn't do anything more with it. I certainly had no idea that I would be threading through white heddles.
The eye is really big and really easy to thread. However, the heddles don't slide well and are maybe even worse than the wire heddles that I replaced. I had a hard time getting them spaced evenly after they were threaded. I've been phishing on the Internet this evening to see if anyone talks about them. I've read all kinds of information but nothing is said about sliding on the bars. I'm sure they're the right size. Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A River Runs through It

I carefully plan trips to town and select days when I can pack several things in. I tend to favor Tuesdays since that's the day of my monthly book group and also the day that Allison has knitters in her home for a noon knit-in. This is a picture of the Truckee River which runs from Lake Tahoe, through Reno and ends in Pyramid Lake in Paiute land.

I impul-
sively pulled into the park which is just before the turn off to Allison's. The river is really low this time of year but I love to hear it, no matter what time of year. My little camera urged me to walk a little further and so I did.
I have many fond memories of this river and this route. My running partner Pam and I ran along here lo those many years and knees ago. We had a 12 mile week-end route and this was a part of it. I hadn't planned to drive our old route but due to errands, that's how I ended up going.

Upon closer look, I see a mallard duck. He is blissfully unaware of global warming and lower river flow - just floating in this river, from a mountain lake to a high desert lake. I get really irritated and frustrated with Reno and Nevada government, but geographically this is a remarkable place.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Perfect Time Waster

I bought Photoshop Elements 6 and never put it to use. It's so out of date that I had to buy a used book in order to learn how to use it. One day I'll open it and see if I can understand how it works.

Meanwhile, I started fooling around in it with the photos I took in New York and I was smitten. Some people play Mafia Wars, some people play Farmville, I play at Photoshop. It's almost like painting but not. You build a picture, save it and then start to build again. I have massaged just four pictures so far and each one has taken me about an hour.

I'm not sure how or why it works, but before I know it - the hour is gone. Wasted!

I'm sucked into the - what if I try this set of colors. It's not totally unrelated to dyeing, spinning or weaving since it does involve the interrelationship of color. One friend asked me if I need an intervention. Yes please. For each image I have posted, I have a dozen variations. They are all so cool and I love every one I make. I finish one and then I think - what if...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's on My Nightstand

We have been up to our eyeballs in grandkids, starting with a birthday party at noon yesterday for our six-year-
old grandson Evan and his last one in Reno since the move to Bend, Oregon is schedule for December 1st. We came home with two more, who are finally eating breakfast after watching Hotel for Dogs on HBO this morning - cute mobie, Lexie says. Mommy picked them up this afternoon and I'm enjoying the quiet, thinking about what to read - because I can.

Giving myself permission to read at odd hours of the day has been a tug-of-war between the years of conditioning that I should be something and realizing that I can do nothing. I am having to learn how to be retired, a new form of job training.

I don't really like the book I'm reading and went to look at the stack on my nightstand for a replacement, when I thought of Theresa's blog about what she is going to read. Leigh has since posted a list and I am taking this opportunity to make one too. This is what's on my nightstand - it does have a shelf underneath.

Gift from the Sea. Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Ali and Nino: a love story Kurban Said
The Thing around Your Neck. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Talk Talk. T.C. Boyle
Housekeeping. Marilynne Robinson
Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town. Paul Theroux
The Women. T.C. Boyle
Cause Celeb. Helen Fielding
Loving Frank. Nancy Horan
Love Walked In. Marisa de los Santos
New American Bible. Lots of guys
Unaccustomed Earth. Jhumpa Lahiri
This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western mind. Ivan Doig
How Green was my Valley. Richard Llewellyn
Beyond Belief. Elaine Pagels
The Rest of Us. Stephen Birmingham
Guns, Germs, and Steel. Jared Diamond
Library: an unquiet history. Matthew Battles
The Look of Architecture. Witold Rybczynski

I'm going to give Loving Frank another try tonight but I'm already over a hundred pages into it and I am just not loving Frank. It's like the Titanic. I know how the story ends. Anyone who has read a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright knows how this story ends and it doesn't end well.

I always love to know what people are reading and I am always looking for book recommendations. I hope to come across your lists in future posts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meet Goldie

I long ago lost interest in this sampler. The warp dates back when my friend Nancy came out and helped me warp from back to front. Since I didn't use an interesting threading, I was limited. So I only put a floating selvage on one side to see what it looks like, with and without. I did tabby, 1/3, 2/2 and 3/1 twill and found that it didn't make much difference in 2/2 or 3/1 but it was horrible without one on 1/3.

I also lashed onto the apron rod. I've always tied on in the past and several people told me that lashing on was the only way to go. I never was able to get a completely even tension, so now I can say that I prefer tying on.

I would have cut the project from the warp and started over except that I just couldn't face warping with those wire heddles. And then the Texsolv heddles that I ordered from Woodland Woolworks came. They've been here a month and I just didn't get to it, that's all.

Today was the day. I found instructions online, no problem. I brought my sheds downstairs and compared them to the computer screen. I couldn't understand the pictures so I went to Google images. I learned today that I've been regularly misspelling this because when I typed in "texolv heddles," the fourth hit was my profile picture from a comment I had made on Sue's blog. Yikes! However, when I spelled it correctly, I found pictures to work by.
Here they are. I think they're beautiful. I was so nervous in the beginning because of all the cautions and warnings in the instructions, but I even got the courage to clip them apart. I did it first as a sample but when I realized that they slide more easily, clipped them all. I only had four sheds to snip. I can't imagine doing this on eight or more. I must have a thousand wire heddles leftover!

I didn't have time to start anything today so decided rather to orange oil the wood. It looks great and is ready to go. Unfortunately, I am not. We babysit this weekend so it needs to fold up and go back in the dormer.

I took the dogs for a walk afterwards and thought about a name for this loom. I think it needs a name. It has a nice history, good action, wide open shed and is just a little worn these days with a couple of pieces missing. Goldie strikes me as the right name. I think I'll call her Goldie.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Practice

This is my bag from Mood. I hadn't even thought about going until we were in the Super Shuttle from the airport and everyone was talking about what they were going to do in New York. It suddenly occurred to me - I could go to Mood. Our shuttle mates were all Project Runway fans and so jealous. You are not! Shut up!!

These are all about a yard and a half of 60" wide single knit cotton. I fell in love with the colors. I'm not cutting into them until I have a little sewing practice under my belt and a better understanding of what size pattern will accommodate my matronly body since if I were to buy the size recommended for my waist, I would be in a size 18.
When we were in Washing-
ton in September my SIL asked me if could use a cotton shower curtain. I took it, thinking I'd use it as a shower curtain. Instead I cut it into pajamas and when I saw the tie-ons, decided to use them instead of buttons.
I used to love to sew but haven't made a garment in 20 years. I bought my sewing machine to make sofa cushion covers since our crazy dog Cody had chewed up the old ones. My old sewing machine had broken. I figured the price of a new machine was less than a new sofa. I haven't used it in the ten years since then. This is my first project and boy have I forgotten a lot. I made a lot of mistakes and that's the point - to learn on a shower curtain, not on the handwoven, which is my eventual goal.
I drove into town yesterday for a spin-in at Heidi's. She knits felted beds for all her cats and was laughing at this one which she over felted and turned into a fruit bowl. I thought - hmm, Charlie is only 8 pounds - and the fruit bowl bed ended up coming home with me.

Charlie spent a half hour carefully and methodically sniffing the bed, another half hour just sitting in it, and then he finally curled up and went to sleep. I wonder if he'll ever sleep in it again. He's very fond of sneaking into the dogs beds and the fruit bowl won't generate any jealousy.

While in town, I caught this photo of stacked wind clouds, which usually are harbingers of a storm since they indicate the presence of high winds aloft. It's been so long since we've had a storm, that I just thought they were pretty.
The clouds were telling the truth - a storm was coming and I woke up to this this morning. It's my first post-
retirement snow and significant because - I didn't have to drive to work in it!!!!!