Friday, June 30, 2017

For another day

June 21st was Josh and Missy's 20th anniversary and we wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate.  We've saved our bottle deposit refund money all year thinking we'd take ourselves out for our anniversary this year but it was much more fun to take the kids out instead.  We chose the Blacksmith, a rather swanky place, but they did it up right including the roses.
They ordered the Tomahawk steak for two which I thought was quite the romantic choice.  It was a work night and they said they raced into the house, threw off their work clothes and threw on their dinner clothes.  That's what their life has been like though Missy just finished her masters degree and will have that monkey off her back in the future.  And a good time was had by all.
We have acquired quite the social agenda this year.  This was the Brian Copeland Band at McMenamins.  David and Joanie asked if we might like to come hear their niece Kat sing backup in this Portland group so we said sure but we only lasted to the break. We had gone with them to see Rent last Sunday, a firecracker day, and those poor actors, dressed up for winter on the hottest day of the year so far.  We had so much fun that we're thinking about getting season tickets for the theater next year.
Meanwhile I'm thinking about this soaking pool.  McMennamins is in the old St Francis School, a whole complex of entertainment opportunities including a theater that runs classic movies.  The concert was in the Father Luke's room and the events there are free.  I'm not sure I have the energy to enjoy all that they offer!
Meanwhile, I continue tackling yard work in the cool of the mornings. Yesterday I was doing laundry and yard work in shifts.  I checked my Fitbit for the time and came in at 10:06 to pull partially wet clothes from the dryer to hang.  I realized my Fitbit was no longer on my wrist and checked the time on my phone - 10:33.  Where had I been in those 25 minutes?  Everywhere!!  I had moved compost and raked mulch, pulled grass and clipped dead blossoms from the lilac tree.

I spent more time looking for the Fitbit than I did on yard work.  A friend suggested I open the bluetooth on my phone and see if I could get them to pair.  Still no luck.  I finally googled "how to find a lost Fitbit" and discovered there's an app for just that.
I walked around with it scanning and realized the only place that I hadn't checked was the yard waste dumpster which Ian had already taken out to the curb for pick-up in the morning.
Bingo!  I had to walk all the way back up our long driveway for a yard basket and my gloves so I could unload the waste without just dumping it on the ground and make yet more work for myself.  My iPhone activity monitor gave  me 11,000 steps for the day.  It's fallen off my wrist before so now I've ordered two replacement bands with safety fasteners.
Niece Allison put me in touch with Linda Evans of the High Desert Museum who apparently is looking for spinners to participate in character and interact with the public.  I went down this morning to meet with her and to clarify what she was expecting.  Allison mentioned a week-long program called Frontier Days. She took me to the storage area where they had various articles she thought I might be able to employ.
By the time we were done talking, I had committed to being a regular volunteer on Fridays from 11:00-4:00.  This is my costume, she is going to fit me for a corset later and I've ordered boots online from eBay.  I think the weekly gig is primarily for the summer tourist months so it shouldn't interfere with the SMART kindergarten reading program during the school year.  My spinning wheel and I start July 14th.

Meanwhile I finished my placemats from Suzie Liles' pattern in the latest Handwoven.  She used linen and I substituted 8/2 cotton.  I love the colors but they're just too thin in my opinion.  I'm going to try to create the pattern in Fiberworks substituting 3/2 cotton instead or else just use Turned Taquete which is double thick.  I'll have to substitute different colors as I used up the last of these cones.  Actually, in looking at the picture I think I would actually like the squares instead of stripes.  For another day.

Fireworks are going off as I type.  The 4th of July is just four days away and its legal to sell fireworks in this state.  Temporary tents are set up everywhere and even Costco has some for sale.  It's going to be a noisy night.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Books, Books, Books

Once again, my reading has been interrupted by other things.  I'm trying something new to ensure that reading doesn't get lost during these summer months.  I have a 90-minute date with a book before bedtime every night and I find that by keeping to a specific bedtime and not reading in bed, the quality of my sleep has improved.

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

This was Lisa See's best book yet. In the past we read about California with a China backstory, but the tables were turned this time. This was set in China with a California backstory and as we knew from the press release, it was a story of a Chinese mother and her daughter adopted by a California couple, so I expected a predictable story told in two voices. Not so! We read about the Hill People and their cultural and economic struggles to survive. We read about their minority status and the problem with opium. We read about Pu'er tea, all about Pu'er tea. I was introduced to Pu'er tea through my Tai Chi school, plus two of my friends are adoptive mothers of Korean babies, now grown. This book felt very personal. I loved the ending.

Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman

The setting is a Levittown-type of community where all houses are uniformly the same, yet the living is not. Couldn't anyone please love, listen to and appreciate someone else?! These neighbors were anything but neighborly, just going through the motions. As for the children, it was Lord of the Flies meets Long Island.

The writing was so compelling that I kept reading in spite of liking just about no one. The community was manufactured out of a potato field and the people who moved into it tried to create community from scratch. They were going through the motions of living the life they thought they were supposed to live and when they gave up, the solution seemed to be to leave. Nora was a breath of fresh air as she fought to not drown in the community's rejection and to give her sons more than she had grown up with.  Hoffman's choice of title is pure irony since these people were not living in that state.

A Piece of the World by Christine Baker Kline

The story is based on Andrew Wyeth's painting by the same name and unfolds with Christina as a young girl. A childhood illness left her with difficulty walking and no cure for her bone disease. As she grew older, the effects worsened leaving her crippled making her farm chores difficult. A bright student, the opportunity to further her studies to become a teacher were dismissed early by her parents. Her future only left her with two choices, to marry or maintain the farm. Sadly, she had very few opportunities to make romantic connections leaving her with no escape. Christina is not the most likable character, but by reading the book you become sympathetic to her disposition. Andrew Wyeth developed a relationship with her over many years and was able to capture a different side of her in his painting.  I gave it five stars.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

After reading two of this author's earlier books I received this one up from NetGalley, expecting some light reading but instead found myself in a layered tale of a struggling small town and doing what's right. I'm unfamiliar with hockey and have never seen a game so I found it hard to get into the book at first because hockey is one of the major characters!

Beartown is struggling to hang on to it's ever-shrinking existence. The major employer "efectivized it's personnel" for the past three years in a row and residents were moving away, leaving those remaining to pin their hopes on a successful season for their hockey team - a winning season. If they lost their hockey club, would they next lose their remaining school? People in desperate situations resort to desperate means. That's what this book is about. It's "all" for the hockey club, but what is "all?"

These students and hockey players have been friends since kindergarten, but at a drunken celebratory party something happens that changes everything. How quickly hockey club supporters convince themselves of a lie and turn against Maya, the victim, and throw her under the bus because they're desperate to win. Sune, the team's coach, watches helplessly, knowing that "we love winners even when they're very rarely particularly likable people." And how quickly the lie turns to hatred which seeps through their town all the way down to the children. Anyone who questions their personal actions reminds themselves that it is for the good of the club - they believe that a winning star player means a winning team and a winning town. The beginning was slow for me, but it turned into a page turner, right up to the end.  Another five start book for me.

Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik

Tall, slender Violet Mathers is growing up in the Great Depression, which could just as well define her state of mind. Abandoned by her mother as a child, mistreated by her father, and teased by her schoolmates (“Hey, Olive Oyl, where’s Popeye?”), the lonely girl finds solace in artistic pursuits. Only when she’s hired by the town’s sole feminist to work the night shift in the local thread factory does Violet come into her name, and bloom. Accepted by her co-workers, the teenager enters the happiest phase of her life, until a terrible accident causes her to retreat once again into her lonely shell. I can't believe I gave a mystery five stars. I always say that I don't like the mystery genre and than I have to qualify that by adding, except for Tony Hillerman. He had an uncanny way of placing me in the story, the sounds, the vistas, the culture - I overlooked the formulaic pacing. After a stretch of years I went back and read them all again.

Oh My Stars is Lorna Landvik’s most ambitious novel yet, with a cast of characters whose travails and triumphs you’ll long remember. It is a tale of love and hope, bigotry and betrayal, loss and discovery–as Violet, who’s always considered herself a minor character in her own life story, emerges as a heroine you’ll laugh with, cry with, and, most important, cheer for all the way.

This is from the publishers review but it was the dose of chick lit I was looking for.

Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

I can't believe I gave a mystery five stars. I always say that I don't like the mystery genre and than I have to qualify that by adding, except for Tony Hillerman. He had an uncanny way of placing me in the story, the sounds, the vistas, the culture - I overlooked the formulaic pacing. After a stretch of years I went back and read them all again.

And then along comes his daughter, writing the things I had enjoyed so much but from a woman's perspective. Her writing is literary while holding true to the mystery who dunnit expectations. As a weaver I am especially excited about the culture she weaves into her stories, pun intended. I know for a fact that this is first mystery I've concluded choked up with sentimental tears. I'm a fan.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I have to write reviews of the books I receive through NetGalley so I rarely write for other books.  Once again, this review is from the publisher.  It's my favorite book so far this year and when I finished reading, I felt like I knew Alma, that she was a real person.  She was very real to me. This is a six star book!

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who — born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution — bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert's wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?  Not very quickly, I can tell you that! Saturday morning I picked up a couple of my prints from the studio to work on here at the house and I got caught up by a sign that said Plant Sale, so like Hansel and Gretel, I followed the signs until I arrived at this residence about a mile from our house.  I put up no resistance.
The plants are hearty and local and sold for $6 per gallon plants.  I bought six and came home to plant them.
They sure look a lot smaller when they're in the ground.  It's been overcast and in the mid-60s for most of June, with yesterday being the first nice day.  It's now in the 80s as though someone turned a temperature knob.  I said I was done planting, but this time I mean it.
This is my favorite outside sitting area and where I like to drink my morning coffee.
My work is beginning to pay off though most of the summer color is from annuals.  The perennials have some more growing to do before they'll flash their pretty colors.  I'm hoping for a showy display next summer.

We have a lot of overgrown junipers that I've decided to turn my attention to now.  They dominate four areas and I've going to just focus on one at time, this being the first.
This is all the further I got after about an hour of hand trimming this morning. Ian is going to have to make quite a few dump runs and it's a good thing it's only a mile from here.  I think if I work a bit each morning that I can make this an attractive plant.
This is what I don't want to have happen.  Our subdivision was built and planted about 1990 and we're not the only house struggling with overgrown junipers.  This is ugly!
I was anxious to finish these two scarves and in my hurry gave no thought to beat.  Never has "haste makes waste" but more appropriate.  I beat these much to hard, and while they're pretty to look at, they're stiff.  I've decided to take a break from weaving for a couple months this summer.  I'm feeling pulled in too many directions.
I think rather I'll focus on printmaking for a while, especially since I can do my relief block carving at home.  The right is a wood block I did a couple of months ago and I did it again in linoleum last week, so Friday took both blocks into the studio to print and proof.  Linocut is much easier to cut but I clearly don't have a feel yet for removing background chatter.  I'll clean up the block and print again.

I've been experimenting with my monoprints and at the present I prefer nonrepresentational abstractionism.  I'm spending about eight hours a week at the studio between my volunteer shift and studio time and feel a lot of relief from my decision to take a weaving break.  I had gotten into a mindset that I "should" weave instead of I "want" to weave.  I have enough inventory that picking back up at the end of summer I'll still have time to weave for the holiday sales.  Weaving pays for my arts supplies on top of the yarn!  I'll be back.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Getting in the Summer Groove

I made a momentous decision this week.  I've put my spinning wheel into it's carrying bag, not to go somewhere but to be stored in the closet.  I've spun almost every day for the past 20 years, that is, until we moved here and there's just not enough time in the day.  Maybe later.
This Wednesday was the first day of the downtown farmers market and we were eager to shop.
The only thing we got this time was salad greens and this $5 bouquet of flowers.  Later in the summer we will need two bags to carry all our haul, especially when the melons are in season.
And this week is also kickoff for the Bend Elks, a college summer league.  Wednesday night is Seniors night so we got in for a buck each.  The kids met up with us after work and it was great - lots of laughter, stadium food and beer, and the game was good too.  This year one of the players is from Bend, a hometown boy which makes it extra special.  Cal played in Little League with grandson Logan and his dad was the team coach.  We happened to sit next to his parents so it was fun for Missy and Josh, visiting with their friends.  It's fun for me to "know" someone on the team.
The planting of the hostas was the easiest part.  Last year Ian pulled up two huge root systems from the Frankenplant that is still vexing us with residual runners.  Think twice before planting Honeysuckle Bush Copper!  The last unwanted plant to come out of this shady bed was a spindly forsythia.  Ian finished that on Monday so Tuesday I bought two bags of compost to replace the missing roots and finished pulling out the weeds and native yarrow.  It's been rainy for the past two days and these guys are loving it.  The timing is perfect to help them get established before the heat hits.  The work was worth it!
I'm still weaving, just not as often as I was during the winter months.  This is from the third of the workshop painted warps and looks like a sunset to me.
I used red weft on the second scarf.  I really like it, but I'm concerned that the curious color combination will be a tough sell.  I'd like to weave the last warp soon, as my granddaughter Alexia is coming in July to stay for a month.  She says she wants to come weave and knit with me and I'd like this loom to be for her use while she's here.
I'm knitting Heidi Kirrmaier's Quick Sand pattern again, but this time in Malabrigos Rios, colorway Bobby Blue.  I had one skein left after Owen's cardigan and when Diane Soucy visited last summer, she offered to send me the two extras she had so I ordered two more from Yarn Barn, for a total of five skeins.  The problem is that one of the skeins from Diane is substantially darker than the rest.  I've spent months trying to figure out how to make this work and finally decided to knit the sleeves first and knit the last 3" in the dark yarn.  I'll do the same with the body and also knit the bands with it.  The gauge isn't right for the pattern so I've done a little fudging but my math-challenged brain believes that it will fit in the end.  So that's what I do in the mornings instead of spinning.  I knit on the patio and have my coffee.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Another day in Bend

Spring just doesn't want to let go this year.  I had to wear a sweatshirt on my walk this morning though there's a rumor that summer-like weather is coming tomorrow.
I put the cucumber seedlings in yesterday and should have waited a couple more days.  It's supposed to be close to freezing tonight.  Grrrrr.

Ian planted the tomato seedlings a week ago and probably should have left the cover on for a while.  This is my first try with planting my own seeds.  As in everything I learned how to do it better next time.
I pruned and cleaned the lilacs last year and am excited to have cut flowers in the house!  They smell as pretty as they look.
Yardwork is a huge priority right now.  Last year was our first summer here and while we planted some flowers, we mostly performed maintenance, cutting back overgrown shrubs and removing dead ones.  This year is much more rewarding.  We're still pulling up grasses and native yarrow but we're starting establish beds.  It's still early so there's not much to see.  This trip to the nursery we bought hosta which I have wanted to grow forever but have never had the conditions for them.  I naively thought we'd go home and pop them into the ground.  Wrong!  We're pulling up root systems and cleaning up years of neglect.
About the time I get discouraged with our progress, I have a moment like this.  Poor guy.  He was taking a nap under the tree and I woke him up to take his picture.  He saundered off but a couple hours later was back with a couple of friends.  We welcome their grazing on all the native plants in our front yard.
Or I have a moment like this morning.  I heard the scrub jay squawking like mad and it took me a while to figure out why he continued his tirade outside our door.  The bird feeder is empty and I think he's figured out that Ian comes out of the door and fills it up.  He even jumped up on the fence outside our kitchen window and continued his tantrum there.  Maddie was very amused.
I finished three scarves this week, all disappointing.  I need to get back to dishtowels which are far more rewarding.  Ian and I met up with friends for lunch downtown on Friday.  This sticker was on a car that we passed on our way out of the parking garage where parking is free.  Oh wait, Bend sucks.