Now, where did I leave that?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Day After

To all of you affected by Sandy, my heart goes out to you. What devastation is filling the news...and will for months, years to come. I hope each of you is safe and was spared the worst.  We were barely brushed by her up here, even though the forecasts were dire even in our neck of the woods. 

Because we knew Sandy would bring an abrupt end to the glorious riot of color that blessed us this Fall, this moody Sunday we took the dogs to Olana to say goodbye to what has been a rich and lush season. Here are the photos...

Please tell me how you all made out? Are you all okay?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Remember being young and spending gazillions of hours on the phone with your best friend? Passing notes in class? Those moments when a shared look spoke volumes about what you were thinking? Remember meeting that person--in a laundromat when you both had two year olds hanging on you, in that womyn's circle or book group, in that adult learning class--with whom you forged an instant connection and just knew you were sisters under the skin and would be friends forever? And forever included countless emails, laughter, tears, death-of parents, marriages, dreams, jobs. Forever was moments of deep connection, the voice always at the end of the telephone line no matter what time of day or night.

  Remember how good it felt to know there was someone in your corner--and whose corner you fully occupied?

  Lately, I'm aware of how many friends I've lost over the years, how many best friends & soul-sisters have vanished from my life. Some slipped away gently as our lives went in different directions, remaining as fond memories and bringing delight when our paths cross briefly & unexpectedly; we part again with promises to stay in touch but it rarely happens. You know how that goes, right? Some friends are the ones we see once or twice a year and it's wonderful & heartful, but you know deep in your heart that you're more...invested?...than they are, that if you didn't keep the candle lit it would simply sputter out. Some friendships go out with a bang--a fight, a mortal blow, a betrayal. It might take you years to recognize the part you played in it, to stop feeling like you were lucky to get out only singed and realize you lit the match, and to know it's too late to say "hey, you hurt me, but now I understand how much pain I caused you and really wish I'd done things differently." Some friendships reveal themselves to be of-the-moment or situation, not intended to last the long haul. Sometimes you just don't know where the bond has gone, or just know it's gone and miss it. And one's partner or spouse is different than a 'friend' even when they're the best friend you've ever had, ya know what I mean?

  I've always been an introvert, too shy to be comfortable in groups. I'm lousy at small talk (granted, some days this blog is nothing but small talk, but writing is different). It's tough to make friends, to put yourself out there when you just know you're boring & socially awkward and can't imagine why someone would particularly want to get to know you. I'm genuinely interested in others, and happy to ask them questions and learn about them, but never quite know where to go next. I think maybe it's easier when you're young. And so, lately I've realized I'm lonely. Lonely for that connection of laughing with someone else, sharing secrets and projects, discussing books and adventures, worries and joys, being able to trust that they'll tell you the truth and want  no less from you.

  I'm blessed to have a friend I reconnected with (thank you, cyberspace & her tenacity) a few years ago; she lives in another country and we haven't seen each other in about 37 years, but we wrote letters for two decades, and now that we're back in touch, there are emails and facebook. She's suggested I figure out skyping so we can actually talk over a cup of coffee together! I have a friend I see for a few hours two or three times a year, and it's always warm and wonderful, but other than those times, we don't really connect; emails are responded to warmly but briefly and impersonally; she's busy and I just don't factor in. There are a couple of people on facebook, but that's far too superficial for my taste. There's a sort-of coworker I think the world of, and always enjoy seeing, but we're both very busy and don't get much time to connect. And that's about it.

  Oh, I know how one is supposed to make friends, but I've not ever been comfortable or successful at it. And good Goddess, who wants to appear needy? Even this blog post is making me squirm! How about you? Am I alone in feeling more isolated as I get older? Alone in finding it ever harder to make friends as time flits past? Or are you blessed with an abundance of friends and by golly, how did you make it so?

Monday, October 22, 2012


Fellow blogger AkasaWolfsongwho I so wish lived in my neck of the woods so we could get together from time to time, commented on my last post (I love comments; makes me feel like I'm not out there muttering to myself...thank you to all those who take the time to share your thoughts!), and signed off on it with a typo (I assume it was a typo); she wrote blissings rather blessings. It made me smile, and decide that should totally be an actual word. The definition would be something like this: Blissings --1. (noun). Those things that bring one bliss, pure joy and peace. 2. (verb). The act of wishing someone an indeterminate supply of those things that bring them bliss. "A blessing of bliss".
Fresh off a 10 day 'staycation', I realized I'd experienced alot of blissings this past week and a half:
  • experiencing a radiantly colorful Fall
  • sharing new ideas and inspiration with Linda
  • critter cuddles with assorted dogs and cats
  • lazy snuggles with Linda by a dancing fire
  • absence of work stress
  • the pleasure of a crisp Fall day spent with Linda & my older son as we cleared out the veggie garden and made room to plant garlic for the first time
  • the scent of spices as apple butter simmered
  • knitting by the fire with spiced tea close at hand
  • the crisp, snappy sweetness of cider
  • mountaintop drives and wanderings with the dogs
  • watching the tiny survivor kitten grow and thrive
  • learning a new skill
  • my sweetie's generosity as she insisted on buying me an alpaca shawl for home
  • caressing and gathering rainbows of cloud-soft wool
  • sleeping under warm covers as cool Fall winds whisper in the windows
  • the first winter squashes and cozy soups of the season
  • having time to read and stocking up on fiction at the used book store
I could go on and on, but these will do for now. I wish I could keep them in a jar on my desk to pull out & caress, or wrapped around me like my alpaca shawl (I have one in my office too), but I'll have to settle for memories...and for being grateful for all the blissings that come my way.

What blissings have brightened your dark corners lately?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nuno Felting...With Bling!

It's here...NYS Sheep & Wool Festival! I'm psyched. The very same day the classes were posted back in May, I registered for the Nuno Felted Scarf with Swarovski Embellishment workshop, taught by Pat Riesenburger, whose felt work is just exquisite, fun, and imaginative. I'm not a blingy kind of person, but I really wanted to learn nuno felting, so decided this would be a good start. Today was the day! I drove down in a downpour whose heavy curtain couldn't obscure the foliage at the peak of perfection. I was tickled pink that, like last year, the first class registrants received free tote bags, and since I registered the very first day, I was lucky enough to receive this:

Rather vibrant, but very roomy, and I can always use more project bags! Thank you, Festival sponsors!

I made my way to the tent our class was in. They do a great job preparing the workshop tents; we had heaters, lights, tables & chairs, and a full fifteen students plus the instructor & her assistant fit reasonably well. After a brief introduction, we were invited to choose our wool for the scarf; It's Fall and I have a specific friend in mind for this scarf, so I went with the soft grays, golds and oranges that were all around us:

Nuno felting is relatively new (20 or so years), and essentially is using wool and fabric to create an entirely new fabric. So my background for this creation was a dark brown gauzy silk.

We began by applying the wool roving to the fabric. Some folks put their wool down the center, others (like me) used the most wool for the edging of the scarf. The amount of wool vs. silk affects the drape and airiness. After our main layer of wool was down, there was silk top, dyed locks, metallic yarns, etc. to use for creating our own pattern.

I wanted to keep it fairly simple; in retrospect, I wish I'd used a little more roving and more tactile embellishment so will needle felt more dyed locks onto it tomorrow and see how that works.

Once one is satisfied with the pattern, tulle gets laid over the whole thing, and we roll it up in bubble wrap (or in this case, solar spa cover) around a pool noodle:

There ensues a whole lotta rolling back & forth, massaging, whacking it, etc., to get the wool to fully infiltrate the silk. When the wool is felted and now part of the silk, part one is done:

Since today's workshop was all about incorporating Swarovski crystals, we were led to a virtual treasure trove of crystal beads in all sizes and colors and styles. Now here's the thing....I don't sew. I can attach a button in a pinch, and have even done the occasional pants' hem (badly), but was a little leery of beading with needle and thread in a group situation. Imagine my delight in Swarovski's Hot Fix beads, which we attached using a hot iron! I chose crystal beads in gold, amber and red, laid them out, and got busy.

The end result is organic-looking, with just enough shine to catch the eye. I wouldn't wear it, but it's a great accessory scarf for its intended recipient. I was blown away by the works of art some of the other students created, and that nasty little voice in my head wanted to engage in some disparaging comparisons. But I told it to shut up, and am taking pleasure in capturing this glorious Fall in a wearable scarf.

  The instructor and her assistant were great--humorous, encouraging, generous, laid back & helpful. I came away feeling like I could do this again on my own, which I think is the sign of a great instructor. Today's class also brought something fully home for me. While I might not use this particular felting technique often, it was pretty damn cool combining wool roving and a plain piece of brown silk gauze and creating this piece. I realized that, while I really enjoy my still-not-very-good attempts at spinning and knitting and find each of them soothing and pleasing in their own way (when I'm not caught up in my total ineptitude), it's felting that has stolen my heart. It began a year ago, but now I've named it. Whether using needles or water, there's a magic to creating felted objects that inspires me, makes me dream and imagine. Although it's an inaccurate description by literal definition, the word alchemy keeps coming to me. I truly feel like I'm creating. Is there anything more sacred than that?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As Promised

In this corner, weighing in at a whopping 4.9 ounces, eyes newly opened....the Scrapper!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Could Get Used To This!

At 4:00 Thursday afternoon, I turned on the auto-reply on my work email, turned off the lights in my office, and walked out the door, officially on vacation until 8:00 am Monday, 10/22. I have a long to-do list, but admit that so far not much of it has been done! But why do chores when one can take a gorgeous Fall afternoon to load dogs in the car, drive up Hunter Mountain and meander over to Windham Mountain, and come back down, stopping at the lookout whose view spans 5 states: New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut? It was a breezy, cool, brilliantly clear and colorful, flannel-shirt wearing, cider-drinking ride.

After the driveabout, Linda went upstairs to take a nap (she's feeding the foster baby every three hours and is so tired--photos to follow in another post,but Scrapper is thriving), I settled in with Martha Stewart Living, and the dogs opted to doze as well; Lola had company for her nap!

Since Linda keeps trying to share her cold with me, I'm opting for a woolly, lazy day, full of knitting & needle felting, spiced tea and a good book. Time enough to be a busy bee tomorrow. Wishing you a glorious Sunday, too!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sad Update

A very sad update...Callie didn't make it; she died in the wee hours this morning. Linda was up with her almost all night, but she was just too weak, and even with Linda feeding her every two hours around the clock, keeping her warm, and so on, she (or he) just didn't survive. Blackie is still going strong & gained 4/10ths of an ounce.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Revolving Doors

My sister recently commented that we had a regular revolving door here, and I can't argue that. The batch of four kittens (Bob, Oliver, Cleo & Twink) has grown by leaps and bounds. Late last week, Linda began weaning them...

Here they are, chowing down on a soupy mixture of kitten milk replacement & KMR-soaked kitten chow. The tub is the only place to do such feedings!

Friday night Linda got a plea from the shelter to take on the survivors of a litter found, cold and wet, only a couple of days old. So yesterday the crew of four got turned over to a shelter staff person who will raise them from this newly-weaned stage, right up to crunching dry kitten chow, and then they'll be ready to await adoption. Here they are getting ready to leave our house:

Bob & Oliver

Twink & Cleo (there's nothing wrong w/ Cleo's eyes; that's just a photographic weirdness I couldn't fix w/ photo shop)

And then she brought home the two survivors of this seven-kitten litter yesterday morning. They weigh 2.1 & 2.3 ounces, and it's a victory and relief (won by Linda's dedication & willpower, feeding them every 2 hours all day & night) they're alive this morning. With no further ado, please allow me to introduce



Callie is the weaker and smaller of the two; Linda keeps calling Blackie a 'scrapper' who has already figured out sucking. Callie hasn't figured that out yet, swallowing what Linda drips into her mouth but not sucking. They're so tiny they're being fed with an eye dropper. Before acquiescing to yet another batch of such tiny babies who would need every-two-hour feedings, I made Linda promise she would nap every afternoon. Those of us who had babies remember the exhaustion of getting up so frequently, and we were younger than she is!

Last week we said goodbye to Ms. Mot, whom Linda rescued from a storm drain as a feral kitten 15 1/2 years ago. She began losing weight rapidly, and the diagnosis was lung cancer. She was a gentle, skittish girl whose heart, once won, was yours. Okay, and liberal treats of chicken kept it yours!

She loved being outside, basking in the sun, although as she got older, Winter would find her nestled into a fleece-lined crate, happily hibernating. We knew Spring was truly here when she would appear on the porch rail. She's deeply missed.

So this is our revolving door. But some of those who enter climb into our hearts and stay forever. Pip was spayed last week, but is back home where she belongs, getting into trouble, laying claim to....everything...

including Yeti!

They come and they go. We laugh at them, mourn them, tear our hair out and then snuggle them. Life is more complicated with all the critters, but hard to imagine being without 'em! So go give your critters (or kids) a hug, and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weather in the News

Or.. A Rose By Any Other Name....

  Big weather news, folks! Those wild & woolly renegades at The Weather Channel have decided it's time Winter storms get their due, and beginning with the upcoming 2012-2013 Winter season, significant storms will be named. And these are storm-worthy names, kids. No Felix or Alice or Nicole here (great names, but hardly invoking visions of wild weather and cataclysm); these are names from Shakespeare, Tolkien, Mythology. We're taking Brutus, Gandolph, Zeus! These are names that foretell of Mother Nature's betrayal, rage, right-makes-might, weather that will stab you in the back and defeat evil.

  Most of 'em, anyway. There are a couple of issues with some of these names. For example, Yogi. Okay, a Yogi is one who practices yoga. I'm missing where peaceful connectedness to the Universe relates to stormy weather (although I am one of those people who never could embrace the whole shivasana thing; it made me edgy & tense). And when I saw that Yogi was going to be one of the storm names, I immediately wondered: if the storm ends up not producing as much snow as predicted, will it be downgraded to Boo-Boo? What if Yogi is the storm of the century at Yellowstone Park. Will we hear bad puns like "this storm won't be any picnic"? Okay, probably not since TWC is claiming the yoga connection, but it's definitely not a blizzard name to take seriously.

  And 'Q', which they're defining as a subway line on Broadway? Maybe that's the Weather Channel party line, but I think not...Star Trek: TNG fans can easily imagine the chaos wrought by a storm named 'Q', but seems like it would make for downright silly reporting. Xerxes? I hope Stephanie & Al on WUWA get pointers on pronounciation before airtime!

  I've always loved weather drama, until Tropical Storm Irene. Having visited towns like Prattsville and Schoharie in New York in the aftermath, I don't have the stomach for the terror and destruction storms can cause anymore. We've managed for many decades without needing to name Winter storms and blizzards, but TWC seems to think that in the social media age, we need the ability to follow them on Twitter with a single hash tag; they give their many reasons here. Hey, whatever waxes their skiis, but I think there should have been a tad more thought in choosing the names.

What would you name a Winter storm?