Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Weather has Turned

I got a phone call late last Saturday afternoon from Laura.  Her sister Mary had driven up from Gardnerville and they had spent the day in Bend but were on their way home - would we like a visit?  Yes please.  Mary had decided to go home a day early because a snowstorm was in the forecast for Tuesday and she wasn't taking any chances. 
And it came as promised, beginning about 7:00 Tuesday morning.  Make a note of that 18" plant stand to the right of center. (Click for big)
Now take a look at it as it appeared the next morning - just a spot in the snow.  
And this is what it looked like on the other side of the yard.  We figure about 14" of snow fell in a 24-hour period.  Mary was so happy she left a day early.
Check out Buster being his own snow plow.
Ian dug paths and areas for them to do their business. 
Josh came over that afternoon to dig us out after he had already spent five hours digging himself and his street out.  Bend plowed and sanded round-abouts and roads but people were pretty much on their own for residential snow removal.  We're hearing that this storm is early and heavier than expected.  Ian is shopping for a snowblower but there are a lot of factors to consider like size and usage.  He's still looking.
It's pretty from inside.  Easy for me to say..
I felt bad to eat and run but Thanksgiving was quick, quiet and delicious - just the eight of us.  We wanted to leave by 4:00 as Ian was concerned about driving on the icy roads in the dark, and it's getting dark at 4:00 this far north.  I took this last night to prove my point and then it was below zero by this morning. 
While Ian was shoveling snow I was finishing up my towels.  We weren't contributing much in the way of food this year so I wanted to take Missy and her mother Julie (the cooks) each a dish towel.
They really turned out pretty and were much appreciated by the cooks.
I finished blending my fiber on the drum carder.
When I got ready to ply I realized they were the same colors as in my Tidepool towels.  I've got the towel here so I can wipe the dogs off when they come in covered in snow and they like it.
So next I've started carding on this stuff but the felted silk is proving to be a challenge.  It's not going to spin well but should make interesting yarn.
I've also started working on a towel warp with these colors.
And I finally got this warp on the loom and started weaving.  It's just a sampler.  The Shadow Weave draft is from a recent Handwoven and I chose the six-shaft option.  The threading was extremely complex and I had to count, count again and then recount, yet I think there's an error because it doesn't look like the picture.  The treadling is also complex and I have to count aloud to myself, move my ruler every few pics and then recheck.  I already know I won't do this again but I feel the need to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself..
Maddie likes to lie on the back of the chair when I am reading, then steals my seat when I get up.  I just finished Louise Penny's latest book, The Nature of the Beast.  I really enjoyed it until the last 50 pages or so.  When the pace should have amped up, she threw in mountains of details and tedious conversations that slowed it way down, plus I found the "threat" unconvincing.  I was disappointed as I wanted to love it.  Ian just came home with my new library book, JoJo Moyes' After You, the sequel to Me before You.  Move over Maddie.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Books, Books, Books

I did a lot of reading during our transition from Reno to Bend but I'll only list my top favorites.  My reading time is greatly diminished since we've moved into our house.  Yesterday marked one month in our new home!

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride -
I simply could not put this book down. McBride's characters are full and her tales of unbearable sadness are authentic. In her portrait of Las Vegas she says, "and in Vegas, murderers become patriarchs, card sharks become benefactors, the unredeemed become the redeemers" - I couldn't help think that this is in American tradition of Robber Barons. Do we never learn? The true indictment is the cavalier deployment of our young people to war zones, knowing that when they come back, if they come back, the VA system is woefully underfunded and treatment of war wounded is sketchy. It's been a long time since a book made me cry.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's dystopian literature is like a voice crying out in the wilderness - beware the endangerment of the world as we know it and the changes that will ensue!! This book felt like a hybrid of Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid's Tale - both focus on what will happen when capitalists run amuck and what occurs when obsessive sex replaces love. This is loaded with discussion topics and book groups are going to have a hay day with it. I would have given it five stars but Charmaine's many flashbacks to when life with Stan was good became tedious and something to be skimmed through

Slade House by David Mitchell
I stumbled onto this book through NetGalley and didn't realize I was reading outside of my usual comfort zone. That said, if you've ever read Roald Dahl or Neil Gaiman, pull up a sofa and settle down for some entainment. This is a collection of five interrelated stories in the British tradition of tales of the supernatural. I was gobsmacked - it's a fun and thoughtful page turner. I found myself thinking about it days later and would nominate this for my book club.

The Art Forger by Barbara A. Shapiro
I found this on my Kindle, probably a Daily Deal offer, and I started it to see if it was a keeper or not. Keeper! It's a historically grounded suspense, though I didn't realize the suspense part until the book was well under way. A young student compromises herself for a teacher/art dealer, but the devil is in the details and the details are what makes this book a page turner. Every time I thought - predicatable! It wasn't and I kept reading. There are a few lame elements like Aiden's count-down, but I forgive them for the fun of the read.

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks -
I have been a avid reader and fan of Oliver Sacks for years so was delighted to see that he had written a final book, an autobiography at that. I was conflicted about giving a four-star rating instead of five but truly the last couple of chapters where he jumped around in time were extremely difficult to follow. I am still an avid fan and happy that he concluded his story on such a positive note. His work and writings are truly a gift to laypeople.  I've decided to reread of couple of my old favorites of his starting with Island of the Colorblind.   

And that brings me pretty much up to date.  We are getting increasingly busy with the holidays upon us so reading time will be at a minimum.  This is my last book post of 2015.  Can you believe it's been 15 years since the Y2K scare?!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Getting It On

I was so inspired by the NWRSA meeting that I came home and pulled out the bag of Romeldale/Rambouillet roving that Sue Flynn gave me a couple years ago.  I had no plans for it so my spinning has been intermittent.  I took care of that - it's done!
I have done very little spinning with fine crimpy wool and was really surprised at how much shrinkage occurred when I fulled a skein.  It's really lovely yarn and I'm knitting a swatch to determine what happens next.

We had two 6th grade basketball games this week, there will be no games during Thanksgiving week, and then two games a week for three more weeks.  It's a really short season and Evan (#2) just started playing a couple weeks ago.  He really likes it and we're having fun watching the games with other parents and grandparents. (Click for big)
Wednesday was the last meeting of the Central Oregon Spinners and Weavers Guild (COSW) until February because of winter weather so they call this their Christmas meeting.  Laura and I went together and several of the ladies from the NWRSA meeting were there. I'm already signed up for a Overshot weave/study group and a Crackle Weave workshop in March taught by Susie Wilson.  I can tell by their Show-and-Tell that this is an active creative group, yet not a competitive one - bonus.
I decided today that it's time to card some fiber together to spin a scarf warp.  I've got three bins of stuff to chose from.
I selected about 4 ounces of fiber and I divided it into four groups since my drum carder is pretty full with just 1 ounce of fiber.  I'll card it tomorrow.
Next time I think I'll just use these two instead of so many short bits.  The bright stuff is felted silk that a friend gave me.  She dyed it but didn't want to fool with it so I'm going to fool with it instead.
I'm weaving a set of dish towels on Maudie Mae - two more and I'll be done with this warp.  Arthur still just has the sample warp that I put on in Reno.  Maddie found my balls of weft yarn for the sample and hid them both, but I found the second one on Wednesday when Laura was looking at my studio space - clever cat.
These are the "dusk" colors I'm working with and while I'd like something brighter next time I still haven't placed a yarn order so will have to do another muted palette, yet undetermined.  There's still too much to do to spend much time in the studio yet.  

Sunday marks one month in our house and we've settled in quite well.  Now it's about the details, like hanging pictures.  I picked up the reframed prints from Michael's yesterday but when I got them home, was disappointed to see that three of the four mats had been mismeasured.  I am meeting son Matt tomorrow afternoon to look at bathroom tile and since the place is near Michael's will take them back then.  I've been really looking forward to hanging them in our nekkid bedroom so I'm  pretty disappointed.
Speaking of disapointment, this is the master bath.  Ian calls the shower the "time machine" from the movie.  It's the smallest shower I've ever used and Melissa said it's like the one in their RV.  To the left of the scale is a short pink spa tub.  The counter is only 29.5" high so you have to bow to the sink to brush your teeth.  Matt has plans to tear this out and make a real bathroom, hence the tile shopping.

The hot tub was serviced Monday, drained and filled.  Ian had his very first hot tub experience in his life on Wednesday while I was at the guild meeting.  I've used a hot tub a half-dozen times in my life and we've never owned one so this is new new new.  The corner seat has neck jets that pummel my shoulders and lower neck.  It feels great, though I had Ian turn down the temp as I was getting cooked.  My old bathing suit is going to require replacement as it's pretty worn out, like me :)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fitting In

Wednesday we met Josh and Missy downtown for the Veterans Day parade.  Grandson Logan was playing in the combined high school marching band and Josh just walked the couple blocks over from work.  Ian and I walked over to Le Margi for breakfast afterwards.  It has a reputation and a price tag to go with it.
Then on Thursday night we all met at Pacific Pizza and Brew to celebrate Evan's 12th birthday (click for big to see the birthday boy).  The tradition is that the birthday person gets to pick the dinner place so the next one will be Josh's on December 1st.  At this point Ian and I have just been in our house three weeks and we already feel at home.
I got my studio sorted out and put a towel warp on to get started.  I haven't woven in two months and cannot believe how many sleying and threading errors I managed to create.  It's just nice to be able to sit down at the loom again.  I know I'm going to love this space.
The fiber arts community here is vibrant and I attended my first meeting today of the NWRSA (Northwest Regional Spinners Association).  Cindie Kitchens send me the email of Molly, a contact person whom she has worked with in NWRSA but never met.  I drove up to Redmond today which is 20 miles from here, allowing an hour because I'm still conditioned to long drive times.  I was 25 minutes early.  The meeting felt chaotic but I also felt right at home.
I randomly sat next to Cindy Wasner (on the right), a Norwegian knitwear designer.  And yes, she speaks the language.  It was like we had been friends for years.  She asked me to take a picture of her with Molly who has modeled so many of her knitted garments that she gave her this cap, a mate to the one she is wearing.
Another of the ladies showed the sweater that she has almost finished - she is one of Cindy's students and used one of her patterns.  This group is for spinners and knitters.  The weavers have yet a different guild and I'm planning to attend that meeting next Wednesday.  Reno had the same division of guilds.  I had hoped for one guild like Foothill Fiber Guild in Nevada City that encompasses all the fiber arts but today I was just glad to be with my kind of people - fiber folk.

The plastic bags are leftovers.  Someone brought a bale, yes a true bale of Dorset fleece and these are the residuals.  I hope I am disciplined enough to never say yes to another fleece.  I said no.  No thank you.
This is the brand new wheel the previous knitter just bought.  She's a seasoned knitter and a brand new spinner.  I had forgotten how white the Lendrum wheels are when they're new.  I left the meeting today, reaffirmed that we made the right decision when five months ago we spontaneously decided to move here.  If I didn't miss my daughter so much it would be perfect.

Monday, November 09, 2015

We're Home!

Saturday was our first family dinner.  We all said from the get-go that we wanted to make sure that at least once a month we picked a date for dinner together and with Thanksgiving looming, we just did it.  I cooked the spaghetti sauce I've made since the kids were little, Josh and Missy brought salad and Matt and Julia brought the bread and desert.  After an easy and informal dinner we played 1,000, our favorite dice game, followed by the hot tub.  That is followed by the hot tub for Josh and the boys - they loved it.  Ian and I still haven't gotten in it and we need to.  

This will be our third week in our house and we're already feeling at home.  I picked up the newsletter for the Deschutes Public Library when I went to book club last month and saw the terrific line-up of author visits for this year - yet to come, Elisabeth Gilbert, Lisa See and Alice Hoffman.
I bought tickets for James McBride, author of The Color of Water which I've read twice.  The information said he was coming, along with his band - the Good Lord Bird Band.  I soon learned that he named the band for his Nataional Book Award winning book and I knew that to have the best experience from the program I needed to read the book which I put on hold at the library.  I got it several days ago and read like mad, finishing it at lunch yesterday - the program was at 4:00.  What a wonderful experience and hands down the best author visit I've ever experienced, including those from The New Yorker Festival.  And since it was dinnertime, we ate out yet again.  I've gained six pounds since we got here which is a pound a week!

Meanwhile, I've picked some cones of yarn and am starting another set of towels which I call "Dusk."  I'm out of the several of the colors I like for my bright towels.  Since my studio is a loft and we heat with wood, I really need to do my work in the morning before it gets roasty toasty.
The weather is chilly with snow in the forecast but since it's not here yet, I took the time to clear out some of the undergrowth in our back yard.  The aspen tree was hidden in a jungle of aspen volunteers and tall grass.  I ripped and cut until at least I have it clear enough to enjoy.  It needs some additonal pruning; maybe a limb or two need to come off but for now it's really pretty.
This is the kitchen window and I was really frustrated that they had let this vine maple grow up so tall that I couldn't see the yard.  I took care of that today.
This is the dining area window - same thing.  The view was completely occluded and I was worried that I was over-cutting but now I think it needs a second visit with the clippers.
I piked my heap of trimmings from my assault against the fence, some bagged, most not.  We're supposed to get our truck back tomorrow from the mechanic.  We can take yard trimmings to the dump for half price until the 14th so I might need to add a few more clippings before the weather turns.

It's colder here and the higher humidity makes it feel colder.  It rained last night so when I took the dogs for our walk this morning, as soon as I left our driveway and stepped into the street I was on ice, something I never had to deal with on our dirt roads.  We're still in the Great Basin and it's almost the same here, only different.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Almost Settled

I threw myself into a frenzy of unpacking, knowing that when the weather is gray for days on end, I'm asking for depression if I don't establish some semblance of home, at least in the great room.  
And Ian found my spinning wheel.   It wasn't identified in the inventory necause the movers didn't know what it is.  Spinning is a settling and centering activity, very zen, and I've missed it.
The pavement ends and it's open land just a quarter mile from our driveway   It's actually privately owned by a developer but currently it's popular with walkers.
And it's very popular with dogs, especially mine!
There were five deer in a neighbor's front yard yesterday morning.  They taught us in dog obedience class to loop the leash over your wrist so your dog can't bolt and pull the leash right out of your hand and boy am I glad I still do that or I would have lost control of the dogs.  Buster wanted a piece of this guy really bad but when he lowered his head and approached us menacingly I knew it was time to move on.
The studio is pretty much in order and ready for weaving but there are still many things left to do before I can settle down and devote my thoughts to a project.
Like hanging pictures.  We have lots left to hang but we decided while we're still hemorrhaging money, we might as well get these Associated American Artist prints redone in archival quality mats and frames.  Associated American Artists existed from 1934-1981 and these prints were done around 1970.  The program was developed about the time of the WPA Federal Art Project, but where their work was donated (mostly to schools),  AAA offered artists a set price of around $200 for a limited edition of prints which they then sold for $5 a print.  Their stated goal was to bring art to the middle classes but they made a nice sum for themselves in the process :)

These have yellowed and degraded a bit.  They were Ian's mothers who participated in the AAA subscription program for a while.  We're spending our children's inheritance so I hope they like them.  We're supposed to get them back in two weeks and will probably hang them at the head of our bed.  I chose cobalt blue for the accent mat color, either a great or terrible idea.  We shall see.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Adjustments and Trade-Offs

The skylights were one of the things that attracted me to this house.  Because Bend has 100 fewer sunny days than Reno, I knew that winter would be long and dark.  You can imagine my frustration when we "possessed" our house to find that the occupants left a mess behind but took the time to close the skylight shades.
No one knew how to open them and we couldn't find information online.  We had the seller's phone number but when Ian called, the wife was terse and suspicious.  Imagine our surprise when three days later the husband called and proved to be talkative and informative - very.  He told Ian to put a cuphook on the end the end of a garden stake and explained how to use it.  Let there be light!
He also explained how to use this wood stove.  It's called Sunrise and was made by a small company that later went bankrupt so there's just no information available.  They wanted to create the perfectly efficient wood stove so it draws air from under the house and recycles the heat through baffles on the side, but to start it you keep the damper closed, the opposite of our old Jotul.
It's so efficient that a single morning fire was sufficient for the whole day.  And the brass door is gorgeous.  The house is 2 x 6 construction and so well insulated that we can't hear each other from room to room.  I was worried about a massive power bill but the house really maintains its heat.
I have thrown myself into unpacking boxes so my upper back is pretty sore today, but I was delighted to make space for Jane in the garage.  That's all the space we need for now because unfortunately after we spent $3,000 on our old truck, two weeks after we got here it blew a head gasket.  We haven't decided what to do since we need a truck but can't afford a new one.  Ian is having it towed on Monday to Josh's mechanic.

On top of that, it turns out that the dryer left behind was kaput so we bought a new one online from Sears which was delivered and installed yesterday.  The skinny guy who attached the vent hose slid out and cautioned us to not move it!  I don't like this hobbit laundry room stashed under the stairs and it almost turned me off on the house.
The dogs are still confused even though we've been here for a week now.  Sammie was really excited when we found her basket of toys.  She pulled them out and then laid on them.  She has huge "separation anxiety" so these were especially comforting to her.
DIL Missy's mom Julie comes up for a week after school is in session to see the boys play their sports.  This past Sunday was Evan's last 6th grade football game and we all went.  Josh told me that the rain in Bend just falls straight down and it truly does.  After rain in Reno being accompaned by fierce wind, this kind of rain is just fine and dandy.  And what do you know?  An umbrella works well without wind.  Evan's next sport is basketball - indoors!
There are trade-offs to anything.  Alexia has become very serious about the flute and is now taking private lessons.  My heart aches with missing her.  This is daughter Chris's flute that we bought for her in 4th grade.  She played it all the way through high school and even played it for weddings after she graduated.  Josh's sons have also picked up his instruments.  Logan is playing his trumpet, Evan is playing his trombone, and we're looking forward to school concerts in December..  What great investments those instruments were!.