Tuesday, December 29, 2009

open letter to erethizon dorsatum


Dear Sir Porcupine, (or perhaps I should call you Madam Porcupine)--


Kindly refrain from eating my Hemlock Tree.

Last winter, I did not complain when you spent most of your time lounging in my tree.

I didn't even complain when I watched you throw branch after branch down to your friends (the deer) below. I understand completely that Hemlock is your favorite food, and that porcupines and whitetail need a meal just as much as we all do.


I admit that I was extremely annoyed at you this past spring as I raked up the branches of half of my Hemlock Tree and carted them off to the burn pile. It is true, you may have heard me muttering to myself about all the extra work you caused me, and how unsightly you have made my yard and my Hemlock Tree.

In spite of everything, I defended your existence to my neighbor, who has shot your kin in cold blood, and advised me to dispose of you in the same fashion.


I thought you would get the idea that you should move on when I constructed a blockade around my Hemlock tree. Your blatant disregard for my protective measures indicates that you do not realize that I mean business. I will not let you kill my Hemlock Tree.

btw, I am not afraid of your quills.


I work with fiber and I have a few sharp bits of my own..see?


(Not that I would ever use them on you.... I just want to make a point, ahem.)

In closing, I appreciate all the photos and the quills that you have donated to my art projects. I will miss seeing your silhouette against the sky, the funny way you use your tail to climb the trees and your adorable round button eyes.


But I love my Hemlocks as much as you do--and it is time for you to go. There are other Hemlock Trees in the forest. I suggest you chew on one of those and do not return to this one.

signed, caretaker of your favorite pair of Hemlocks near the ledges by the riverrim

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

soliloquy -center stage-

I have completed the first project using the fiber from Allspice.

Allspice is a huacaya alpaca who lives at Finca Alta Vista Farm. According to the Alpaca registry of colors, Allspice would be classified as beige.


The individual locks of her fiber reveal exceptional crimp with good architecture and a staple length of 4 inches. This translates to a yarn with loft, memory and an overall silky, soft handle.

For this project, the locks were washed individually, and hand combed, then pulled through a diz and spun and plied on a Canadian Production Spinning Wheel.

Finca Alta Vista commissioned this stole for sale through the Paco Fino collection. Listed below, are the project details.

"Centre Stage Stole"

64 inches long 25 inches wide


approx 800 yards handspun Alpaca

one ounce of spindle spun and plied natural tussah silk.


Copper, Silver and Gold tone seed beads



The simplicity of design and the luxurious silk and alpaca yarns combine in subtle harmony.


A center panel of feather lace stitch is flanked by 2 panels of modified cell and garter stitch.


The panels are joined together with a three-needle bind-off and trimmed with picot beaded edging in tones of copper, silver and gold.


The shimmer of silk, the softness of alpaca and the subtle sparkle of tiny beads: this elegant stole takes center stage.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

winter moments

Cold weather, snow and wind blown days bring the wild ones in from the wood.


Early in the morning hours, I count the hens. Most days I count 36 of them.

Their feet point the way. Can you tell if they are coming or going?


The whitetail come looking near the hen house and rabbit hutch for any dropped pieces of hay or corn.


The porcupine sits up high in the Hemlock, and drops branches to the deer below.


Movements are slow, now that the cold and ice are here.

Mostly, they don't mind when I use my camera.


But there are those moments when we startle each other.

Back inside -loose ends are being tied together as the clock begins to wind down on 2009.


Tomorrow brings the winter solstice, the shortest day will show the longest shadows.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

last haul

Photobucket Sweet Alyssum still blooms in the grow house

Winter has suddenly arrived! Not without warning. We knew a storm was coming. There was enough time to get out to the garden and pull the last of the harvest. There was not much..but enough to make it worth the effort.

Photobucket Brussel Sprouts stored on the stems

The soil was not frozen a few days ago when I pulled these carrots, but tonight the temperatures are expected to drop into the teens. This comes after the storm that dropped about 6 inches of snow/sleet/rain. The kind of storms the forecasters like to call "a wintry mix".

Photobucket a colander full of carrots

This last harvest is a late one. Are you ready for winter? I'm not. I just started to wear my hat and mittens.

Photobucket onions cleaned and stored in an open basket

Ready or not, winter is here. Meteorological winter, that is. Astronomical winter arrives on Dec. 21st this year. Do you know the difference?

Photobucket Axe or Maul?

The sound of the axe has already been replaced by the sound of coal buckets being filled.


Staying warm and cozy becomes a daily chore now. Oh yes, there are pictures of snow to show you...but I have a feeling that it is going to be around for awhile, and right now I'd rather sit by fire and warm up to winter..


..and finish up a few projects...

Monday, November 30, 2009

another kind of season


These winter squash from the garden were on my windowsill when we left for a few days to attend a Thanksgiving celebration south of here.

When we returned, the winter squash were gone! I suspect the whitetail took them all. The chickens and rabbits enjoy squash and pumpkins, but they wouldn't jump up to the windowsill to get to it. Besides, they are locked up. They will be locked up in the yard run for at least a week. I saw what I believe to be a Fisher Cat (or possibly a Pine Marten) prowling around.


I have long suspected that one (or more) have been around the riverrim..I see their tracks in the snow. This is the first time I have gotten a photograph of one (not a clear photo, but one that I can use for reference. Any help with identification would be appreciated.

Today is opening day of Deer season.


This eight point buck has been hanging around and he is beautiful. Early this morning I bid him fare-thee-well...and hope I will not be bidding him farewell! I have already been witness to a decapitated whitetail that was in the river just near the bridge. It appeared that someone had just tossed the carcass over the side of the bridge. I will spare you the photo.

Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

woodland wheels and wares

On Saturday last, The Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild had a meeting in Damascus. They invited Fred and Grace Hatton to speak about Antique Spinning Wheels...I was invited to do a demonstration on the Walking Wheel.


The guild members brought some of their own antique wheels to display and inquire after repairs etc. They also brought covered dishes and cookies.


There were two signed wheels in attendance. This first one is a Farnham...


it was decided that the distaff was not original to the wheel. Fred talked about how one could spot the differences between original pieces and those that have been reproduced.


This signed GW was made by a local wheelmaker, who was related by marriage to one of the guild members. It was in wonderful condition.


The head attached to the barrel tension is not original to the wheel. There is another wheel that lives in the Greene-Dreher Historical Society building and was signed by the same maker..I saw it when I did a demonstration over there- summer before last.


We were also invited to sell our wares after the meeting, so I made some thread hooks to go with the double hole tape looms that Fred makes.


I also made some of my Spindletree Spindles to sell for ornaments or package decorations. They are about as big as my middle finger. These are the prototypes for the larger versions I am working on.


I carved the shaft on the spindles from Spindletree wood. I spun some silk from mine, chain plyed it, and hung it around my neck, as a necklace. In the language of flowers, Spindletree means, "your charms are engraven upon my heart".

I plan to update the etsy shop with these items, but if you see something you like, feel free to email me to request a reserve.

The Woodland Weavers and Spinners are a great group of people, and I would like to thank them for their hospitality and an excellent Saturday afternoon!

Note: the spindle tree spindles are now sold out!! thanks everyone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

focus and distract

I've not been walking lately. For what seems like a myriad of reasons..(all of which I will not subject you to, dear reader)...I have not spent very much time outdoors.


Yesterday, I ventured out and saw the eagle. I almost didn't. I was on my way inside when he called to me. If he hadn't called, I would not have noticed. Have you ever heard an eagle call to you?


He called twice before I found him. His eyes were on me long before I met his gaze. I figured he must have seen me walk over the bridge and back before he called. The camera wants to focus on the branches in front of him. The auto digital focus is confused, and as a result, my photos are blurry. Times like this I want my old manual 35mm Minolta. With the zoom.


We looked at each other for a pretty long time.


Those eyes, oh my....what to say about those eyes. I was the one who broke the stare and left first.

Spare moments in the morning are spent with coffee and a wonderful book (Art on the Rocks- Stone Wonder, by Bruce Hucko) that Cathy sent my way. Tucked into the box I also found this lovely spindle that her husband made, along with a Shetland Silk blend--hand dyed "Desert Canyon". I am so enjoying working with this. I work slowly.... thinking, spinning,.... reading, spinning, thinking...


The combination fills my mind with inspiration--and the hours in the day don't provide enough time to devote to projects.

In order not to become frustrated by the menial business of the day..I allow my daydreams and project techniques to distract me from time to time. Diversionary tactics. That's my strategy, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

which comes first?

The sky was SO blue today, you would not know that we are in the month of November to look at it. The sky had the clear deep blue color of a May memory. Today I spent the afternoon cleaning up fallen leaves. We have had our first frost, but we have not seen the last of the harvest. There will be a few more weeks to gather a late summer sowing of carrots...


yummy Nantes and Danvers...

these are still small and oh. so. tender. Steamed and served with butter and herbs, they taste wonderful. The tops have been nibbled by the rabbits that have been slipping through the fence. That is OK, I'll share.

Another late harvest comes from the stalk...


I was never one to enjoy Brussel Sprouts as a child, but as my father used to tell me, "you will like them when you grow up." This also holds true for Eggplant. I guess I'm officially a grown up now.

My sister- has shared with me- a terrific recipe for brussel sprouts that involves garlic and hot pepper flakes with a lemon sauce. If you would like the recipe, let me know in the comment section. I'm sure she would not mind if I shared it with you.


Last harvests are as much fun as the first harvest of fresh peas or lettuce...but they are a reminder that soon I won't be able to go out to the garden and pick my supper time vegetables for much longer.

Collecting seeds - another autumn chore that takes my mind back to spring. Firsts and Lasts tend to overlap. As I collect the nasturtium seed, I think of the nasturtium seeds that I planted in May. We have come full circle. Is a season starting or ending? Is summer ending? Winter beginning? It is a sort of chicken and egg question..which comes first?


Our chicks are a month old...(oh my...they still don't have any names!) But they are healthy and strong and come running if you sing to them !


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