Sunday, May 14, 2017

And then, this happened!

I awoke a little earlier this morning, as it had been my intention to drive down to Deefield for the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. I lounged in bed a bit before arising, enjoying the splendor of a comfy mattress and the warmth of one of my quilts, while pondering this and that. Clouded daylight, which had dispelled the darkness at least an hour already, spread coolness into the room. I figured it was raining--it was forecast to. I heard it rain during the night.

So I finally shoved myself over the edge and got up on my feet. Out of the bed's clothes and into my own, I turned around, and to my utter astonishment saw snow laden trees, whose branches wept so low they about touched the ground! For a moment, there was weeping all around. I couldn't believe my eyes. This is how the yard looked:



My poor rhododendron was weighted down in a most exasperated gesture, flopped over in utter disbelief. Me too.

I went to the Sheep and Wool anyway, and it turns out to have been the perfect antidote to the weather. In the valleys and points south, the snow had already disappeared, and most of the morning at the festival was enjoyed in a moderate drizzle. Refreshing, really, as it wasn't terribly cold. Not the sort of cold that drives one indoors, at any rate.

The sheep were lovely, the yarns colorful and ever so tempting, the wool so enticing. I snapped a few pics and made a few purchases...

Halls Brook road: Spring green under a winter blanket


The sheep


I picked up some wool and silk to spin, some yarn with which to make something, a new hand woven towel, a felted needle case, and a small cardinal felt kit


By the time I got home the snow was mostly gone and the rhododendron was it's beautiful self again.

Workmen are coming in the morning to start working on the side entry room. Yes, it's happening!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Then this happened ...

What's to say? The car went kaput. Last week.

It had been acting in bizarre ways ever since my trip to NY a few months ago. Odd noises under carriage, squeaks from the tires?, a wobbling steering wheel--but only intermittently. I had to pull over 3 times over the past month due to uncontrollable wobbling. Pulling over for a brief moment was enough to shake it of it's chills. But the last time it happened--before the mechanic saw it--it took longer to set itself straight.

So it was at the mechanic's last Friday morning. He was supposed to get it in shape so I could travel to CT for a weekend-long gender-free dance camp later in the day. As is my usual routine when the car needs to see the doctor, I dropped it off early in Holderness, just across the river from Plymouth, and proceeded to walk over to downtown Plymouth for breakfast. I had no sooner finished breakfast when my mechanic phoned. Well, that was quick! I was expecting a couple hours.

The news was grave. The transmission bearings were going. They weren't entirely gone yet, but I was informed they could break at any time and there was no way of knowing when that would happen. My mechanic advised me that it was not worth sinking more money into the car; and it would be an expensive fix. I'm glad he was honest with me about it. I'd asked him to tell me when he thought we'd reached the end. So I left wondering whether luck would be with me for a while yet?

I had to drive 13 miles to the bank and 13 miles back in the afternoon and the car was splendid. That was the odd thing: It would run smoothly and wonderfully--until it didn't. There was no predicting when the wobbling would start. Well, it started 1.5 miles from my house on the way back and this time, pulling over didn't seem to right things: It just kept wobbling, and wobbling. I stopped several times, putting it in park then back in drive. The wobbling persisted. I almost thought it was going to make me walk the rest of the way home, but I pulled into the driveway after many fits and stops, and it hadn't overcome the wobbles. Kaput.

It was 15 years old and had 210,000 miles on it. It had been around the block more than a few times. It was a good car. It was my first--ever--car. It got me from Brooklyn to NH almost exactly 4 years to the day (April 27th), and it made some important errands for me. I was fond it, workhorse that it was. When I bought it I was hoping it would last me 5 years. Short by 1, but I'm not quibbling. It settled me here and I'm grateful for that.

I hitched a ride into Plymouth Monday this week with my neighbor who dropped me off at the car rental. After breakfast at my favorite diner in Plymouth, I headed straight for the Subaru dealer in Tilton where this happened:



Yes, it's my new car. A 2014 Subaru Forester; an up-to-date version of my old car. It's in great shape; it had only one previous owner and all the work done on it was done at the dealership where I bought it. Very clean inside and out; like new, really. I like the color--can't be too picky when buying used. I had my mechanic look at it before I bought it and he gave it his stamp of approval.

It feels so classy with it's humongous moon roof, rear view camera, bluetooth, and so on. My cello fits comfortably within and the kayak will fit comfortably above.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brightening up the music room ... spring visitor ... another project ...

My music room walls are pale blue, the ceiling is white. The wall behind the piano is dark blue, but there is little of it that is painted as there is a double-door closet in the middle of the wall. All the art in this room is one of two themes: winter/snow or birds. I'd been thinking that having looked at the blue walls for 4 years (yes! almost exactly... just a few more days to the anniversary) I wanted to brighten it up a little bit. So I visited my stash of finished quilts and found just the one; it works perfectly! All the color I could want now drapes the corner of the room I look at when practicing piano...



Happy, happy!

The snow is gone. There has been goodly amounts of water flowing down the mountain sides and Halls Brook has been roaringly alive the past few weeks.



Well! March seemed to take an eternity this year, but it is past and we are now enjoying April showers. There has been a good deal of mud around, but the glimse of greenery--and even some flowers!--shooting up out the ground tempers one's feeling about the dirt. The Fritillaria are coming up for their second year! I remember reading that they had trouble surviving our New England winters, but some bit of luck has sustained these two. Also seen peeping above ground are daffodils and crocuses. The crocuses have bloomed, the daffodils are a ways off still.



The ritual of bringing the bird feeders in at evening time has begun. A clamor on the deck last week alerted me that the winter pajama party is over for the bears. She (or he) has grown this past year--if this is the same bear that was around last spring. It was drizzling rain when I went out to take a few pictures: I was on the deck, she was below, enjoying the contents of what used to be a bird feeder. It made me a little nervous that she went around to the other side of the house and poked her head into the kitchen entry room. Oh dear. I opened the kitchen door and made some sound; they don't like hearing human voices. She backed out quickly and went along her way.



I have started another quilt, and truth be told, I don't like to have multiple projects (of the same type) going at the same time. I like to bring a project to completion before taking on another. However, this quilt will be made of wool applique and the technique is totally unlike piecing cotton, and lends itself to being worked on at a different time of day than piecing. Therefore, I consider it a good idea to get started. I like piecing in the morning or afternoon when there is plenty of light. I like hand sewing in the evening, when it is quiet and the day's labors are done. The wool applique will all be hand sewn. I'm following a pattern; there will be multiple blocks in the finished quilt, including one large central block. This is my first block in progress:



You can see the basting thread (white) on the pieces I have not yet button-hole stitched into place. This is a large project and will take some time. I found the pattern at a quilt show over the weekend. A very inspiring show, it was.

Work will begin soon on the kitchen entry and it's only 4 days away from my 4 year anniversary moving here. Another post on that to come.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Secret Message ...

J&B I am unable to send email to your address! Will investigate to see if I can discover what's behind this mystery!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Progress ...

Many good things are happening. Music wise, I've made much technical progress with my left shoulder, ergo, my left hand is better positioned these days to execute musical requirements both at the piano and cello. It makes me happy to progress... at least to feel--subjectively--that I am progressing. It's such a joy, and yet at times so gruelling. They go hand in hand these two. I'm currently on a Debussy kick at the piano. I do love his music so. I have 2 of the 4 pieces in Suite Bergamasque pretty much down: The Prelude and Clair de Lune. Now to get the other 2 in my hands.

Suite Bergamasque played by one of my very favorite pianists of all time, Claudio Arrau:


Speaking of Debussy, we had a lovely Debussy sort of day yesterday... very atmospheric. I love these dreamy, fantastic, real yet almost illusory days:


[I'm expecting a bear to walk out of the mist any day now. Temps rose to the low 70s the other day!!! Their hibernation must be almost over. Many turkeys around the place this week (present company excepted!), and many, many birds making an appearance in the yard. Saw my first robin of the year!]

New topic. I attended my first quilter's guild meeting this evening. The Heartfelt Quilter's Guild based in Rumney, the town adjoining ours to the north. It was great! The guest speaker was Linda Baxter Lasco and she spoke of her journey and the many quilts she's made over the years. There was a show-and-tell from other members who have recently completed quilts; all the usual structured meeting points of address: treasurer's report, old business, new business, etc.; and pizza and a variety of delectable desserts. I'm very happy to have finally joined.

New topic again. Several wash cloths finished and a face towel under way on the knitting needles:


Oh! And the 8-shaft loom is almost all threaded for my next project. This picture was taken the other day shortly after I had started threading. Well under way now.


So I took several (four, to be exact) tumbles (fell flat on my back to be exact) the past 3 weeks. Ever since we passed the equinox, yet continued with winter weather activity! Twice, while shoveling and they were OK because I slipped on ice that was under the snow and my fall was padded by the snow. Once at the top of the deck stairs which was fine--more or less except that I hit my head against the rail post. Haven't done that since I was a kid, so the trip to nostalgia was nice. Finally, once again at the top of the deck stairs. This slip on the slush--which compacted when I stepped on it and made a most slippery surface--caused me to land on my back against the stair tread. I knew when I fell that something about it had a little more "umph" than the other falls. I didn't land squarely against my spine, it was a fall to the right side of my back. Now that the general discomfort and, yes, pain has subsided, I am left thinking that I might have cracked my lowest rib, in the back. I've had broken ribs before (doctors did it, not me!) so I'm familiar with the feeling. Will be making a visit to the doctor's soon just to confirm and to make sure all my bits and pieces are on the right track!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lot's of quilt activity ....

I had sent the scrappy, basic but utilitarian top off to the long-arm quilter's a few weeks ago. That happens to be my local quilt shop: North Country Quilters. They have a very long long-arm quilting machine and I've been more than happy with the results. (There is a picture of the long-arm machine on their web site.) For this quilt I chose a pattern called "Aspen Leaf" and it worked out very nicely. The top's piecing is all rectangular, angular, and straight lines, but "Aspen Leaf" has curves and they create a wonderful contrast. I chose to fill the quilt with wool--utilitarian requirement for the winters up here. I like cotton filling for spring/fall quilts but since I made this one quite large (80"x100") I want to get good use of it during the frigid months between November and--as present weather can attest: March! Indeed, any notion that March might be a spring month up here really needs to be dismissed. We may have reached the equinox, but there is some lag in play which keeps spring at bay. We are expecting another snow storm tomorrow into Saturday!

It's OK, rather. I am content to know that the day lilies, which I bred and raised into what will be their 3rd year this summer, are safe and sound (I hope) under the protective coat of snow. This should be the year I discover what sort of blossoms my handy dabbing between stamens and pistils has produced. I went on this hemerocallis sexcapade at the urging of my dear friend Bobbie--a day lily hybridizer on Cape Ann--whose garden is a glimpse of heaven. I can't remember the parents-to-be of my babies, but I'm pretty sure it's written down somewhere around here. If I get good blossoms, it will be my honor and privilege to name the new hybrid. But that's jumping the gun... it won't be known until mid summer if indeed I'll be handing out cigars.

Oh that's right, I was talking about the basic, scrappy quilt that is now quilted and bound. I recall the day I brought it into the shop to pick out a quilting pattern, filler, backing material, and thread. Another customer in the store, upon seeing the top, exclaimed that the colors "popped". They popped. I remember when colors didn't "pop", and seem to think this usage of the word came into being on television arts and crafts programs within the last few decades. The word in this context makes me cringe. Understatement. It makes me want to pop someone ... well never mind. I shall not allow violent thoughts to intrude on my blog! But the sentiment was kind and I appreciate it; and she got away unscathed.

It took well nigh 400" of binding to finish the quilt. I make my own. A nice, uncomplicated, relaxing endeavor. I sew the first edge of the binding onto the quilt with the machine, but then fold it over and finish the second side by hand using an invisible "ladder" stitch. I enjoy this bit of hand sewing. I leave it till late evening when the day's work is done, turn on a creative television program or put on a video and stitch away. It took 4 evenings to finish.

I'm very much pleased with the result. It's going to be a useful quilt; it wasn't hard to piece; and the yellow/orange/red warm colors create vibrancy with the green/blue/purple colors. They ... No! I shall not use dreaded "p" word! ... they create striking contrast.



The "Aspen Leaf" quilting pattern is a nice contrast to the lines of the piecing:


I am currently binding another quilt, one that was finished and quilted some time ago but for some reason and another never got it's binding. When that's done, I have still another quilt to bind.

Progress is proceeding well on the "Celtic Solstice" quilt and I expect to finish piecing it sometime next month. I am hoping. Another post to come on that.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Moving right along ...

The scrap quilt--the diversion--was finished last week. It's off to the long arm quilters at the moment. Since I forgot to snap a picture of it all sewn together with it's borders, it'll have to wait till it comes back. The Celtic quilt is now back in play. I don't think I ever showed any progress pictures, so here's a few pics of some pieces and believe me, there are a lot more pieces to go.



I think I'm ready to tackle it once again. Making the large, not too difficult scrap quilt has put me in the mood.

The "big honkin' shawl' is done! (Except for some loose ends which I'll weave in this weekend). The time has come to stop referring to it as the "big honkin' shawl'. The word "honkin'" isn't suitable now that it has been blocked into it's fine finished state. "honkin'" worked when it was a mass of unruly stitches; now it's a refined shawl. There were close to 900 stitches around the last row. Holy moly, those rows took time to knit! Much pleased with the result. It measures approximately 62" square.

(Click pictures to make them bigger.)



The beads that I wanted to use for the edge did not work out, so instead I used small seed beads. But they are red. I'm just as happy with this result. Now that I see it, I think the original beads would have been too large. I'll save them for another project.

With that massive amount of knitting off the needles, I've decided to take it easy for a bit and I'm knitting up some simple, yet elegant, wash cloths. I'm planning to make soap again soon (my neighbor and her friend want to learn so we're going to make a fun project of it) and isn't it nice to have lovely new wash cloths to go with some lovely new soaps? I bought new scents this week: "Sweet Pea and Ivy", "Sandalwood", and "Jean Paul Gaultier" (A spin off of the pricey cologne. I bought a bottle some years back; one of my favorite modern colognes.)



This is an inexpensive cotton I found at Walmart. Perfect for wash cloths, on size 7 needles, knit corner-to-corner.