Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree ...

Just a table top this year. Not sure why I didn't feel like floor to ceiling; table top seems to fit my current lifestyle better I suppose. More manageable and just as beautiful.

I've been doing some work on the organ since that little video was made. The keys are now all much whiter, some dust has been removed from inside, and the Vox Humana stop has been fixed. After the holidays I will align the keys so they are all the same height and make some minor (I hope) cabinet repairs.

So far (knock on wood) this winter has been easier than last though I did get some fish-tail practice in a week ago driving back from the bus station, returning from NY. We have less snow (so far) and the temps have been manageable. The blue jays are back and they're ever so pretty to watch at the bird feeder. I absolutely delight in the chick-a-dees of the black-capped variety which also visit. Their sweet song brings pings of happiness across the cold landscape. I answer them back and like to think that their next exclamation is a response but I can't be sure it is. But it's a nice dream. Maybe, you know. Yes, maybe they are responding. There were also some mourning doves by the feeder this week. Theirs is a gentle and reassuring lullaby to my ears.

There are tracks in the snow but I don't know if they are deer or moose or something else on the loose. My neighbors have seen bobcat.

Oh!... the trip to NY. I lost my knitting! Haha, I did. Left it on the bus. I remember getting up to use the restroom and noticed that the plastic bag with my knitting in it was hard to see against the dark floor and I made a note that I'd better pick it up. Well even though I looked around my seat carefully before disembarking it was left behind. Good thing I hadn't made much progress on it yet. I called lost & found but nothing there. Oh well. On to some slippers which I need! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Is there anything more magical and beautiful than an almost full moon's rays on a snow-covered landscape? Perfect lighting, blue and black, misty highlights, artful shadows. Sigh. The spectacle hints at the depths of nature, and the perfectness of it all; oh joy in it's beauty. Debussy comes to mind. Perhaps I will record Clair de Lune soon.

Temps in the teens tonight. The crisp chilliness adds to the sensual delight of the out-of-doors. One desires to witness an apparition--a wolf perhaps, a fox, or a moose. Spirits of these woods. Speaking of which, I spotted my third in a week just the other day. As I was on my way into Plymouth on Thanksgiving day I encountered 2 moose: One very large, and one younger lolling about Halls Brook Road. Saw another one Tuesday. My goodness! What a thrill to see them in person. I had to slow down quite a lot so as not to hit the larger one and I did fear it would try to attack my car, but no, it just wanted to cross the road I guess. Oh how majestic they are.

Changing the subject, last night was my first experience rehearsing in a string orchestra. As you know, I'm pretty new to cello--it was 4 years ago in November that I started at the ripe young age of 54. So my sight reading ability is not up to reading much beyond basics. I had prepared for the night by downloading the sheet music from the Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP)--can you believe such a glorious resource exists!!--and had started to go over bowings and fingerings with my teacher. We focused most of our attention on the Schubert (Symphony #5), and wouldn't you know, last night we spent the entire rehearsal on Brahms! (Variations on a Theme by Haydn) I did my best. Which is to say that the movements in Bb major were somewhat doable, but the minor movements (5 flats) gave me an opportunity to listen and follow along, playing a few bits here and there. They will require some practice time alone.

It was very enjoyable. I'm glad I broke the ice. It had me a little nervous coming into it--had an anxiety dream about it over the weekend, but it's a nice group and I think I'll be able to learn a lot from participating.

Such beautiful music. Worth looking up if you're not familiar with these two pieces.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This and that and a lull

Just a slight one. It's such a busy time of year and the past week has been full. Too full to do much knitting; probably 6 rows at most. But I'll catch up when the frenzy dies down.

Car inspection, registration, start the snow blower, use the snow blower, clean a bit, re-arrange a bit in preparation for the upcoming holidays, finish some home projects such as painting the upstairs bathroom, put a shelf in above my desk, and find ways to make housekeeping easier. But not too easy, joy is in the doing, after all. Just a little easier like moving the toaster oven to a more convenient location and cleaning the cast iron cookware.

I'm not worried about the knitting taking a rest. It's a good thing now and then. I must say I've been on quite a lace kick since mid-summer.

Discovered some new to me music recently. I find it enormously exciting to discover an artist I've never heard of before, even though they may have been around for some time. Such are the two recent musicians whose music I recently stumbled upon. Absolutely love their music.

A young man who goes by the name Passenger:

And a man named Jose Gonzalez:

Part of the recent home improvements has been an effort to make my Christmas cactus happier. It's in its second year with me and is blossoming just beautifully. I've had it resting on a wooden board protruding from the window sill, so on Sunday I made a brand new macramé holder for it. I'm happy because it looks so much nicer than the board it replaces, and I think the cactus is happy to have a brand new house.

Did I mention the beloved snow blower? Yes I did. I started it up this afternoon for it's first run of the season. Snow started falling around 1pm and has been going non-stop. Several inches already. So absolutely gorgeous up in these hills, and when the snow blower is not running there's a most soothing silence and stillness. Luckily I was able to get one last walkabout the labyrinth yesterday and I suspect that will be the last until spring thaw. It felt really good to walk it after a week-and-a-half, like a breath of fresh air, a bath for the soul.

I picked up some Balsam Fir incense over the weekend. Do you remember it? I love the stuff (brings back memories) and what a atmosphere it creates inside the house. In the high days of summer the sense is of wanting the outdoors to flow in, around, and out of the house--blurring the lines between inside and out. Now, approaching the depths of winter, these walls are a solid barrier creating very distinct inside and outside spaces, thankfully. Indoor heating. Now there's something I'm thankful for on this eve of Thanksgiving. And modern medicine, and transportation, and convenience. So much to be thankful for. And I, personally, have much to be thankful for.

Tomorrow I'll join some homeless students at Plymouth State Univ, along with a few professors, and my neighbor (who invited me) and her college-aged children for a Thanksgiving dinner. I think it's going to be quite lovely.

Last but not least, I'm joining a community orchestra with my cello. First rehearsal will be next Wednesday evening. I'll report back.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Slight interruption ...

Golly, 2 weeks since my last post!

I've been taking stock of all the recent changes. Long gone are the green leaves of summer. Their kaleidoscopic display is fallen and the earthy-toned remains are now covered by an inch of frozen water molecules, like frosted flakes.

The outdoor decor is under cover, the dead garden remains heaped upon the compost pile. A goodly amount of wild blackberry bushes have been pulled out by the roots and the task will resume next spring. The spring bulbs made it into beds and the dahlias and gladiolus are tucked in for the winter, down stairs. The gasoline powered machinery is drained of fuel and secured for the next 4 (or so) months. I wrapped a wire cage around the Buddleia and half filled it with some spent leaves; hoping it will do more than just survive the cold months ahead.

I like the light at this time of year (what little there is of it). I like the way it reflects off the snow and makes my rooms brighter. I like the winter sky, the greys, the blues shining through the trunks of trees now unimpeded by foliage. I can see clear through the woods from here to the road. It makes for a cinematic background.

The spring yellow shawl was interrupted so I could make a scarf to go with the Aran vest I made earlier this year. I wanted to have a "Christmas outfit". The scarf was fast to knit up and not very taxing. It's called "Stained Glass Lace Scarf" and the pattern is by Anna Dalvi. Available through Ravelry. I think it's a nice companion to the vest:

Changes ...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stole finished ...

The stole I began 2 years ago is done. This is the one I found in a box at the back of the closet back in July. A box from the move, full of items I'd plum forgot about! It feels good to have it finished after all this time; there's so much satisfaction in finishing a project.

It came out OK. It has had a series of issues which I've had to contend with. First there was the big color pool which became noticeable shortly after it was started. That pool is not as visible now that the shawl has been blocked and I think I'm going to simply leave it be. Then, while it sat in the closet, it provided a snack one night for a moth after a quick nosh. It was only 2 small holes and luckily it's easy to hide the patch up in the lace. It's almost impossible to see where the moth left it's mark. And, of course, there are the odd mistakes here and there, again all but impossible to find.

The pattern is called "Print O' The Wave Stole" designed by Eunny Jang. A nice, nice pattern.

I have slight misgivings about using a variegated yarn. The pattern would be clearer without the distraction of color. But still, it's not bad looking.

I bought a new skein of Italian Merino while in NYC last week and yet another shawl is in the works. This one is called Echo Flower and in my opinion, it's a real looker. I'm going to make the shawlette version in this gorgeous, spring color (great color to be working with at this time of year!):

I worked on it last night and we had knitting group this afternoon so I have a little to show, but it's not looking like much yet:

Speaking of this time of year... It was 30 degrees this morning, howling winds, power outage, and the clocks turned back. What happened? It was August just a few weeks ago! Thankfully, power was restored after a couple hours.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A sad day ...

It's been a difficult 4 days. Had to bury Pumpkin today. I found her on the floor of the bird room last Thursday morning, having gone during the night.

She was an inspiration, and like all other birds I've ever known, sweet sweet sweet. For the last several years she was blind in one eye. I believe her injury was the result of a fight with another bird, but I'm not sure. Found her bloody and injured one night after work. She healed slowly but surely and pulled through. Her flight was not as strong after the injury as before it, but she managed quite well within the confines of the bird rooms, both here and in NY. And she held her ground well.

I will miss her. Her 'home' was one corner of the seed platform, a place she found more comfortable than a perch, most assuredly attributable to her previous injury. There she has been every day for the last 5 years (maybe more, I've lost track) as I enter to change the seed and bring fresh water. Never one to let on that she may be a little weaker, she'd feign ruffled feathers and fly over to the window perch while I replenished their food.

Sweet Pumpkin.

Death is hard. The day I lost Pumpkin I was scheduled for a day long class at the quilt shop and almost didn't go. It took me the whole hour of changing the bird's food and doing dishes and getting ready, to decide that my best bet was to go, and if it became too much I could gracefully leave early. It was good that I went. ...

There was a dear woman working at the shop when I first arrived last year. She was always a pleasure to greet when I went in, helpful and congenial. A sweet soul. I saw her last this summer after she had had a heart attack and by all appearances was on the mend. Only last month I went into the shop to learn that she had passed away, having suffered a series of grave health problems. She wasn't very old. It seemed that one moment she was with us, and then she was gone, so suddenly and unexpectedly.

I discovered her portrait hanging on the wall of the workroom last Thursday morning as I walked in for the class, along with some of her quilting work. It was a memorial and tribute. As soon as I saw it I knew, and asked her to greet Pumpkin as she arrived. It brought some deep sadness, but a bit of peace.

Pumpkin is buried up near the trees by the stone wall.

A hard week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Estonian Lace ...

The Estonian lace crescent shawl is done. Blocked it yesterday. It was my first crescent shawl and the first time I've ever done nupps. They were a source of frustration for a while but eventually the technique evened out. Not until I was over half way through did I think to confer with YouTube for some videos showing how they may be accomplished. It appears to me they are probably easier when executed using the Continental knitting style. I usually knit English style and found it difficult to knit the nupps loose enough--and they do need to be loose--to manage purling all 7 stitches together on the return row. I resorted to using a small crochet hook, yet that look a while to master as well. What can I say? It was worth it:

The pattern is called "Minarets and Lace" by Mary-Anne Mace, available on Ravelry: Minarets and Lace

In spite of the nupp learning curve--and other than the nupps--the shawl is not terribly difficult and I managed it in 2 weeks, start to finish.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vermont Sheep & Wool ...

Last weekend was the Sheep and Wool festival of Vermont, held in Tunbridge. I almost didn't go because the car hasn't been up to snuff, but the mechanic told me it should hold up ok so I decided to go for it on Sunday. We made it over and back, but it was apparently a close call. The following day I drove the car into the garage and it was discovered that my radiator had a leak. So a new radiator, plus a new block sensor, and new A/C pulley and gas cap adjustment and tire stud has left my wallet blowin' in the wind. But it needs to pass inspection next month, so there it is.

It was a brilliant day, very much a contrast to the downpours of Saturday. The festival was lovely, not quite a large as NH, but lovely, and well run. It's a wholesome feeling to attend one of these festivals, and just thrilling to do so in the autumn months. The animals, farmers, country folk, hand crafts, beautiful yarns and wool, fleeces, crispy air and earthiness. Oh, I do love it.

My stash enhancement:

Mosaic shawl... an FO

The mosaic shawl (it's the New Caesar - Triangular Shawl by Stitchnerd Designs) was finished last Saturday. It had been a most enjoyable knit. There is something about mosaic technique that really appeals to me, not to mention the fabulous results one can achieve with it. I think it's the fact that there's so much slipping of stitches; it makes the work seem to go fast.

It turned out 61" across the long edge and 34" down the center of the triangle. I just barely ran out of the green yarn and substituted a different one for casting off, which gives it just a hint of glimmer along that edge. I like it that way.

My new project is another shawl: An Estonian lace and I'm very excited. Can't wait to show it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wildlife ....

I witnessed half a dozen robins this morning across the yard from the music room window. They were picking berries from the bush that has turned most gloriously red. Through the binoculars it was a beautiful sight and I ran to fetch the camera hoping to get a few good pics.

My camera is not an expensive piece of apparatus and there is only so much it can do, but I zoomed in a far as it would go and managed to snap one shot of one of the gorgeous birds. In the photo-processing software, I cropped down to the area surrounding the bird and then re-sized the picture. To give a tiny bit more of a focus point to the bird I slightly blurred the edges, just a tiny bit--as they were already well blurred from the zooming in. I love the colorful results.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Indian Summer ...

It was in the 80s today, forecast of 79 tomorrow; barely dipping below 60 tonight. Positively balmy. I'm sitting here at my 2nd floor desk feeling the sweet cool breeze waft in through the window. Ahhhhhh.

Outside, the surroundings are a spectacle of color. The vibrancy has deepend over the past week and I dare say we may have peaked already. It is truly a wonderland out there, just magical and I'm loving it to the hilt.

I was in NY earlier last week. It was my first trip down on public transportation (a bus), since moving here. I was absolutely astounded by the amount of energy I had the nights of my journey. I was aware of feeling tired on my drives down and back but did not realize how much of the fatigue was caused by driving. Oh my word, the difference between driving and riding is night and day. Needless to say, it was a pleasant change and I did a lot of knitting on the bus. No parking to worry about either and that felt just great.

The day after my arrival home I took a walk by myself on the trail above my house. I'd made the hike once before with my neighbors, but this was my first time alone. I took a big stick and kept in mind what everyone has told me about encountering wildlife. It was without incident. It is so perfectly peaceful up here in these hills and the trail is nice. It's good enough for logging trucks; in fact the 500 acres there is owned by a timber company. This foliage greeted me at the end of the driveway on my way up to the trail:

The beautiful trail:

I took the triangular shawl off the needles this evening so I could measure it. At 50" wide I'm more than just tempted to say that's it, so I'll start casting off and start on the edging.

The $4 scrap quilt top is finished. I changed my mind about the border and ended up with something simpler---and probably more in keeping with the character of the quilt.

I'm quite gobsmacked by this quilt. Can't believe the material cost $4! The actual quilting might be done by an outside service. I haven't made up my mind yet. Last night I laid out the bird top with it's backing and filling and basted it, having made the decision to hand quilt it. Yes, I suspect it will take me a while, hence the possibility that the scrap quilt--since it was practically free--might get sent out.

The checkered border that I had commenced working on has become two pillow fronts. Aren't they sweet?