Now, where did I leave that?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Neighbor

Last week we were savoring our first out-on-the-porch dinner of the season, and suddenly heard an astonishing racket coming from the direction of a stone wall known to be the residence of a chipmunk or two.  But this wasn't the high-pitched sound of chipmunks; it was as insistent as a cat-spying squirrel, and similar, but not quite....a pair of binoculars and some patient vigilance exposed the culprit--an Eastern Red Squirrel.  First, it's astonishing that something so small can be SO loud (but then, I said that about my kids, too).  Second, they make Speedy Gonzalez appear to be in slow motion. As we've discovered in watching this newcomer to the neighborhood, they are also fearless and have delusions of grandeur that they try mightily to live up to.  Last night a tiny flash of foxy red went streaking across the porch carrying a black walnut nearly the size of its head; fortunately the chilly day had convinced the girls to stay inside, but most days there's a cat or four roaming the porch.  We were absolutely tickled when we went out front to get the baking pan Linda had used earlier for fish and popped outside to cool down and discovered a black walnut on it!  The walnut tree is at the far end of our property, nowhere near the front door; this nut had to have been left there (momentary safekeeping? a trade for salmon remnants?) by our little visitor.  Just now s/he was back, this time on the porch rail, drinking from empty plant flats, racing back and forth along the rail....very red tail and ears, gray-red body, white belly....tiny, bigger than a chipmunk but noticeably smaller than the ubiquitous gray squirrel, and far too cute.  I'm a bit worried; the girls may be getting older but they still think they're hunters as the occasional mouse body will attest...Red is speedy but if caught unaware, could be awfully sad.  I'm just amazed because I've never had one in the neighborhood; other viewings have been in uninhabited (by people) woods....and there Red goes again!  Up the flowering quince with a red-squirrel-head-sized walnut...and over to the porch where it has just carefully tucked its treasure in the tightly packed top branches of Albert (the shrubby potted evergreen shrub that we inherited when we bought the house and have left there because, well, it seems happy)....and off again!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Awakenings

Very often, the sweetest pleasures are the simplest ones; done too often they might become ordinary, but savored just once or twice a year, they melt on your tongue and linger even after you've moved on.  Sunday morning we pulled up the bedroom shades and had the windows open....we propped up pillows, sipped rich, dark coffee from the upstairs coffeemaker (what?  you mean everyone doesn't keep a coffeemaker in the kitchen AND in or near the bedroom?), piled seed & plant catalogs on the bed, and spent a couple of hours planning, thinking out loud, discussing, taking notes, ooohing & ahhing.  We planned our two most immediate garden projects--a cold frame and fencing in the vegetable raised beds that have become viewed as giant litter boxes by three members of the gang o' five--agreed to be disciplined and portion out this year's garden $$$ in specific, planned  directions (can one really have TOO many coneflowers?) and dreamed of happy honeybees and long dinners on the porch admiring our handiwork. 

Industrious little worker bees that we are, the cold frame is already built.  We wandered the property and discovered lilacs and wild raspberries starting to bud, wild ginger spreading under its blanket of leaves, and evidence that someone(s) made fine use of all the fallen hickory nuts.  We visited the future home of Linda's bees and made a slight alteration that will better suit their needs (they'll get morning sun but during the hottest part of the day will be somewhat sheltered, and are out of the way of any potential falling branches/twigs from thunderstorms and winter snows).  Saturday had been quite productive as we did the clean-up out front that we neglected in Fall.  September is, hands down, my busiest time at work; yard work pales in comparison to lying on the couch zombielike on weekends, or taking drives with Linda to admire the Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountain tapestries.  We remedied that Saturday, moving several spirea--planted before we moved here--into the sunlight it's been reaching and begging for, collecting pots that held jewels like caladium and freesia and so on.  It was a weekend long ritualistic celebration of Spring, and every moment was delicious.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Spring is nearly here!  Crocus and daffodil shoots are reaching for warmth and light, I heard red-winged blackbirds at work this morning, and before I left the house this morning, Linda and I made Saturday plans to work in the yard and grill dinner outside....I'm ready, and more than a little excited to welcome the new season!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Many years ago two friends & I had past life readings done.  I absolutely believe in reincarnation; in fact I can remember arguing the point with my 6th grade teacher, Sister Cyrill, and  one of the parish priests, Father Sullivan. was one of many times they called my mother into school.  That said, the reading was intended to be a lark.  Apparently I was stabbed in the stomach during the French Revolution in one life, and in another I was Amelia, one of Noel Coward's scullery maids.  No Cleopatra or Guinivere for me!  A few weeks later, I encountered a womon who had also had a past life reading with the same 'reader';  she became very excited because "we must have a deep bond or have been sisters" because she also had been stabbed in the stomach during the French Revolution.  The skeptic in me was pretty sure our only bond was paying money to the same charlatan....who in fairness was probably not a charlatan so much as a confused soul who was a pretty darn good psychic, picking up mental snippets like someone's chronic stomach pain, or that they were writing a short story whose main character was named Amelia.

Yeah...okay..."so what's your point?" I can hear you thinking.  The point is that, while I believe in reincarnation, I rarely think about the details of past lives, just the lessons I may or may not have learned along the way.  But yesterday I had an experience that almost makes me wonder if I haven't stumbled onto the tiniest shard of a tangible memory from some other time and place.  I took a long-awaited class on spinning, and while I was there primarily to get further instruction on how to use a drop spindle, I also got to use a spinning wheel. Once I got the hang of getting the wheel to turn clockwise (no need to laugh, thank you), I 'remembered' the rhythm, the feel of the wheel spinning, the mesmerizing revolutions of the wheel that turned fluffy, fuzzy roving into yarn, the speed, the movements of foot and hands.  I'm not saying I remembered the details of how to do it, and of course as soon as I caught myself in this remembering, I lost the rhythm; the next thing I knew, the yarn had tangled off the bobbin.  Was this a fragment of some long ago time?  A cellular memory of a primitive task done by countless womyn over hundreds of years?  Did I psych myself into it because I wanted to love it? 

I truly don't know how to explain what I felt, but for that minute or so, the other womyn at their wheels faded to just the murmuring brook of their voices, the room around me retreated, I remembered, and it was....coming home.

Monday, March 8, 2010

That's What Weekends Are For

It's Monday morning already, even though it feels like it should only still be last Friday.  It was a good weekend, and a savored one, even though the house is still in disarray, and the last load of laundry is going through its 6th wash since an unfortunate accident involving a bottle of aroma diffuser (allegedly nag champa-scented but yeah, not so much) and the already loaded, open washing machine.  It was a weekend of learning and loving, the high points being a class on Saturday and a date on Sunday.

I took a class on "Learning to Knit with Wool", taught by Claudia of Countrywool.  It was a beginners' class but because there were only two students, she did a wonderful job of working with what we didn't know rather than rehashing what we were both comfortable with.  I'm proud to say I now know how to increase stitches, maybe fix a mistake or two, am far more comfortable binding off, got to work with a different yarn than my 'usual' alpaca--Brown Sheep Company's Lamb's Pride which is a merino/mohair blend that is soft and springy, learned about 'spit splicing', (although I assure you, no spit was--or will ever be--involved) which joins yarns together with nary a trace, and no weaving in of ends to be done later, and....drumroll to cable stitch!!!!!  What a glorious feeling to create a cable stitch, to add dimension and an actual desigm where there would otherwise be...flatness.  Claudia referred to it as 'magic', and it felt that way.  I only did a swatch, but I'm ridiculously tickled by it:
How cool is this?????
Her teaching style was patient, skillful, matter-of-fact, and thorough, and I came home feeling less intimidated than I have been by knitting.  I came home and worked on the cable stitch a while longer and then began finishing off the shawl.  A few loose ends remain to be woven in, but it's just about done.  Turns out to be much wider than needed, but it's soft and functional and I'm longing for a few chilly evenings so that I can knit while wrapped in its embracing warmth.

And then there was Sunday.  We ventured to Windham and Hunter to see what 5' and 7' of snow look like.  While a week's worth of melting took away some of the awe factor, seeing the guy using the front end loader to dig out his driveway, and the house whose entire walkway to the door was flanked by snow walls taller than us gave us deep respect for the people dealing with that mess!  And then.....Linda's been working long and hard, so I asked her on a date without telling her details.  She's been wanting to see Alice in Wonderland, and after a consultation with my sister, I decided to REALLY surprise my beloved with an IMAX 3D version.  I'd never seen anything 3D,and it had been decades since she had.  Wow.  If one is going to splurge on movie tickets, one gets her money's worth with this version.  The storyline was a tad slow, but the expected favorite aspects were present.  Some reviews called Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter a 'manic Carrottop', but we found him restrained and touching.  There was humor and the visuals were intense, and while it would have been lackluster at a regular theatre, it was quite the ride seen this way.  Our date continued with an Italian-style dinner and...well....we both were sound asleep about 20 minutes after we got home.  Hey--romance means different things at different times; last night it meant falling asleep snuggled up after a very sweet day. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reluctant Endings

Does anyone else find themselves almost finished with a wool project and dragging their feet because they don't want it to end?  Back in January I started the was a basic knit stitch, two colors (because there wasn't enough of the forest green alpaca to complete it, I got black as well).  I just wanted an extremely simple, relaxing project because it was one of my two craziest times at work and I needed to de-stress at night.  And now, a month later, the end is nigh....another two or three rows and it'll be finished, and I'm so sad to see it go.

Earlier today I was thinking about how much I have to credit this newfound 'love affair' with helping me deal with my job and its stresses, which I think I'm handling better lately. It really seems Goddess-sent to give me peace and a place to be creative in the most literal sense--creating something with a use and purpose out of almost 'nothing', a single strand of yarn; that strand can become almost anything!  And before becoming that single strand, there is shaggy, greasy fleece still warming the sheep it belongs to.  Just got the latest Spinoff e-newsletter (which is mostly a sales tool, but that's okay), and there's a book mentioned,  The Intentional Spinner: a Holistic Approach to Making Yarn, and for some reason the title just speaks to me...the concept, the 'feeling' of taking raw fleece off a sheep and ending up with...say, a shawl to warm me on a chilly evening, or Linda's jewel-colored scarf. Holistic--wholistic, to make whole...It's the wool version of planting a seed and getting tomatoes a few months later.....There's something so deeply grounding and...pure....about it.

But I digress, and should suck it up and finish that shawl while there's still a few Winter evenings left to snuggle in its warmth. Next up?  Mittens...I think!  Or somebody's scarf for next xmas, perhaps....