Crazy as a Loom

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life lessons

This is the look I got from Gabby when I told her it was time to go home.
Disbelief. Silence. It couldn't possibly be true.

OK, I understand, but I DON'T like it.

Life isn't always easy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A different angle.

As you can see, the labyrinth is open,the ground has totally dried up. The girls were enthralled with it, they don't ever seem to get tired of it. I am hoping that I can keep it mowed and keep the weeds down around the rocks. I wanted the paths to be grassy, but we'll see how that goes. I thought of planting some sedums and other ground cover types around the rocks.

This apple tree has seen better days..........half of it has fallen off. I loved this angle with the sun right behind it. Looks like the end of a long day.
I love gates. This one caught my eye. Weathered wood has always intrigued me.
Nothing is as soothing as the sound of a babbling stream, and this one was no exception.
Of all the photos I took this weekend, this one was my favorite. Not sure why, it probably wouldn't win any contests. But something about the angle moves me, the world from over Gabby's shoulder. It makes me want to look at it over and over again. So that is success, I guess.

Red barns. They always feel like home to me.
And there is nothing like home.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Little girls and lambs


Here is Yoda, the perpetrator. Nancy said that this is his Lyle Lovett look, must have wooed all the girls with this.






Yesterday was another day spent with granddaughters. I've been doing a lot more of that lately. It is my commitment to actually take time for important things, to enjoy my "retirement" years, and not to work every single minute, as I am wont to do. (love that phrase, "wont to do")
Anyway, my friend Sheila was having a sheep shearing day at her farm, and she lives 20 miles over hill and dale, so I promised the girls we would go. And they have been asking about it all week.
One thing in particular made this a very appealing event......little lambs. Ten of them.



Which is a story in itself. Sheila may tell this story on her blog, someday, but since she is swamped with life at this point, and she hasn't blogged in weeks......... and I am learning to take it slower, I will tell you about it here. It is a pretty funny story.
Two years ago, she had this little black lamb, and she had to bottle feed him. I didn't know this, but sometimes ewes just don't make great mothers, and his wasn't. So Sheila and Nancy bottle fed him, kept him in the house.......he was SO tiny. And when she came to the studio, or anywhere she could bring him, she did. With diapers on him. He would wander around the studio, tripping over things, baa-ing loudly in every room. They called him Yoda.
Well, he did grow up, he still isn't very big, but he thrived.
And last year, when the shearer came, he tied his testicles. Apparently, if they tie them, the cords die, and they are thus neutered.
But last autumn, Nancy looked out the window one fine day, and noticed that little Yoda was trying to be amorous with sheep that were twice his size.
So they called the vet, who came and said that one testicle did look somewhat suspicious, but she still thought that the probability was very, very miniscule. But just to be on the safe side, they gave the "morning after pill" to one ewe that pregnancy would be disastrous for.
They still didn't really think anything of this. Until several weeks ago. And it became very apparent that one ewe was producing milk, getting ready to give birth. Sheila called me in a panic. She told me all the reasons she had decided last year NOT to have lambs every spring, that the sheep themselves were enough work in her life.
Then another sheep's udder started to fill, and another.
And another.
Yup, Yoda, little Yoda, got them all. Everyone who could get pregnant, except the one they gave the pill to, had a little lamb.
Which is why Ava and Gabby were so excited to go to Sheila's yesterday.
We had a great day. The weather was outstanding, warm and sunny, calm. The shearer, Fred, who has been doing this for 40+ years came about noon. The girls had a wonderful time, as only little girls can on a spring day outside on the farm. Everyone started calling Gabby the "sheep whisperer". It amazed me, and pleased me, very much, that they were so contented, without toys, without any concern whatever for sheep manure, or getting dirty.
Proof positive that kids are kids, they don't need computers, electronics, game boys, or any of that stuff 24/7. They are happiest when they are making up stuff of their own, in a world that is interesting all by itself.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Making memories

A few years ago, I did a show in Philadelphia. It turned out to be a bust as far as sales went. But I had never been there, and my husband and I got to spend a little time walking around the city, and together, so it was good.
And I met a lady who was selling dog collars, really beautiful and unique, who I spent quite a bit of time talking to. It turned out that she lived not far from the show, and commuted to it each day. And she had tons of fabric that she bought to make her dog collars, and she periodically cleaned out the stuff that she found wasn't working........cut to Sunday, last day of the show, she and I are loading BOLTS and BOLTS of fabric into the back of my Isuzu Trooper. My husband, who was watching my booth while I did this, cautioned me......."now don't fill the Trooper too full.....leave room for us".......well, there was room, not overly much room, I mean, how much room do you actually need???
He only grumbled for a little while.
So now a couple of times a year, she sends me her outdated fabric, I am an eager buyer, because I love her taste in colors and prints, and I make wonderful rugs and placemats out of it.
But this time, a few of the fabrics caught my eye, and with a 4 and a 5 year old granddaughter, I found myself at the kitchen table making dresses.
Now, in days past, when my own children were young, I used to sew for them all the time. I had a production line set up every spring, to pump out "Bermuda" shorts...my term, not theirs.
And I made dresses on occasion, and dolls, and quilts.
But to be honest, since I have thrown myself into weaving, I don't sew much, other than to sew strips of blue jeans and fabric together to weave into rugs.
So this was a learning curve for my over 50 brain. I struggled with the first dress a bit....what the H------ were they talking about??? Then after a bit, I got it, and with the help of my mother........who was seamtress extraordinaire in her lifetime, here they are. My mother turned the straps right side out, pressed pieces for me, pinned the bodices of them.......and voila, three new sundresses! I actually did three more after these......a red one, and two blue prints, all for the 5 year old.
Now I have to do SIX more in a smaller size for the other granddaughter. Better than seeing the finished product, was the feeling of camaraderie, having my mother out in the kitchen all evening, working with me to get them done.

My mother, who unbelievably is 84, just loves her great granddaughters. Here she is with Gabs, who is 5. My mom has two rooms of her own in the back of the house, but the doors are always open, and it is like one big family home. The kids run back and forth from one living room to the other, and they thoroughly enjoy the attention they get in both places.
My mother and Gabby were laughing hysterically the other night, while I was finishing up sewing in the kitchen. My mother goes through her drawers, where she has all kinds of treasures stashed, and next thing you know, Gabby has a little goody bag all her own, one that will make her mother ROLL her eyes when she sees it.
When I hear these two at it, and the same is true when it is Ava and my mother, I think of that commercial......
the one that always ends with "priceless".
How many little girls get their doting grandmother, AND their doting great grandmother, in the same house, showering them with unconditional love and affection?

And I am so grateful to have my mother in my life still. She has been a steady source of support and love my entire life. I swear I can do no wrong in her eyes. She has been encouraging me in spite of myself.
She grew up poor, in England. She joined the army in WWII, she met my father, and came to America. We have a video clip of the first boat load of war brides coming down the gangplank in NYC, in 1946, and there she is, young, smiling, ready to start her new life.
I am her only child. Along with my children, and our husbands, and their children, we are her family. All the rest of her family is still in England. I can't even imagine that sometimes. How did that feel, at 21 years old, to leave your entire family and immigrate to be with your new husband? Back when making a telephone call to England was unheard of, because your family there didn't have phones, and air fare was too expensive to even consider?

My father and she were not always happy with each other, but they were faithful to each other til the day he died four years ago.
I love watching her with my grandchildren, because when they grow up, and look at pictures of themselves with her, they will have memories that noone can ever take away. Maybe Gab will laugh when she sees this one, of her under my mother's legs, and my mother laughing.
Does it get any sweeter than this?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chicken Broccoli Crepes

Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was about 11 years old, and we lived in China, Maine, I used to make crepes a lot. I bought a very nice crepe pan, and fancied myself to be quite evolved in the cooking world. That's a joke.
Anyway, I found this recipe for Chicken Broccoli Crepes, and I made them. My oldest daughter fell in love with them, and I made them for her quite often. As years went by, the crepe pan was forgotten, and the recipe as well. We got talking about it not long ago, and she and her sister both remembered the recipe, and how much they liked it as kids. So since today was my oldest daughter's birthday, I searched google til I found a recipe that sounded like it, and went shopping.
It isn't a difficult recipe, so I don't understand why I dirtied every dish in the house, but it did take quite a while.
I faintly remembered there being a learning curve about the crepe, and the temperature of the pan, and success.
The first crepe was awful, and I began to worry that maybe it had been too long. But the second crepe turned out awesome, and I was inspired. The crepes were flying out of the pan in no time.
Then I cooked chicken, and cut it up, cooked broccoli and cut that up. I made a white sauce, and added cheddar cheese to it, and some seasonings, and saved some to put over the top of the crepes before I added the the chicken and broccoli to it. They only go in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and they were a big hit.

My husband made lasagna for the meat lovers/veggie haters in our family. And of course it was wonderful.
And we had a loaf of locally baked Italian bread, which was devoured.
And of course CAKE.

I had intentions of taking pictures at this birthday get together, but between the good food, screaming kids, laughing, talking and generally spending time with my family, I forgot all about the camera.
Next time.

I am off to dream land.........good night all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My New Career.......kidding!!!


Last November, I got a call asking me if I would give a talk at the Fort Ann Rescue Lady's Auxiliary, in March. I don't remember what I was doing, but for some reason, I said, "sure.......I would be happy to". Then I promptly forgot about it.
Several days ago, there was a message on my machine at the studio, reminding me of my commitment. Holy cow. Did I say I would do that???? What WAS I thinking?
I had a moment of panic. What would I talk about? What if they fell asleep? What if? What if? What if?
Well, you know that goes.
My husband, dry as usual, said......."just open your mouth and talk, you'll be fine"...........my friend, Sheila said,"you'll be wonderful". None of this made me feel warm and fuzzy, but I knew I had to figure it out. The first thing I did was get some rugs together, a blue jean rug, an Adirondack Lodge rug, a few different Solmate Sock rugs, a Mimi's vintage rag rugs, some place mats, and some totes. Then I made up a basket of the stuff I use to make the rugs, to make it easier to explain.......a ball of prepared blue jean strips, the socks and toe clips used to make the sock rugs, strips of the upholstery selvedge used to make the Adirondack Lodge rugs.
I decided to just wing it, and take my husband's advice.
Most of the ladies there were my mother's age, and actually I felt very comfortable with them. I just told them my story, how I started weaving, how it turned into a business, and how I found the house in Kingsbury that became Crazy as a Loom Weaving Studio.



I guess I talked about an hour, and they were all very attentive, and interested. Afterwards, they all came up to tell me how much they enjoyed it. In the course of the talk, I said that I was happy to be 62, and done with nursing. They told me that they were SO surprised at my age, they thought I was in my LATE 40's.........imagine that??? Well, even if it is not true.....it was nice of them to say.
Does anyone ever mind having someone think they are younger than they really are????

So I came home, and told my husband I was going to be a motivational speaker in my spare time.
He is used to my antics, so his answer was no surprise.
"What spare time?"
But actually, I was thinking about it, and what better way to promote yourself, than to tell groups of people about what you do? And especially groups that have actually ASKED you to be there.
So I have to think about that one.


Tomorrow it's back to work on custom orders.
And I have to make chicken broccoli crepes for my daughter's birthday dinner. I haven't made them in donkey years, so I hope I remember how.

You notice that all the pictures I put up hide my extra 20 lbs?
I was pretty pleased with that maneuver.
But not so pleased with the 20 lbs.
I have to get serious about losing it. Unfortunately, I love to eat, and I hate the cold, so I don't go out and walk as much as I should.
Thank goodness, spring appears to be imminent.
So I need to get moving. So if I DO become a motivational speaker, I won't have to hold rugs up in front of me.
:)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is it spring yet?


Kizzy does not look all that inspired, does he? I was weaving placemats today, and he wanted my attention every minute........this is him after I put him down for about the fifth time. Now he is going to just keep his eye on me.
Placemats are very time consuming. I like making them, I love the way they turn out. But I have to be in the mood for them. These are made from previously sewn strips of fabric, wound into balls. They are very popular, and I never have them around long. I just made 3 sets, and they are all sold.

Tomorrow I am giving a talk at the Fort Ann Lady's Auxiliary, about Crazy as a Loom, how I got started, and what I do there. I have rugs and other stuff ready to go, but as much as I have tried to rehearse what I want to say, I think the best way to go is just to start. After all, it is my story, I should know it by heart. I just hope that they find it interesting, and don't fall asleep.

Like Miss Puss is about to do, in one of her favorite sunny window spots. Sometimes I watch her, and Kizzy, and I think about how comfortable they are in their little world......that is a gift, to be happy where you are.











My Eddie, at 12, doesn't see so well any more......unless you throw his tennis ball, and then he will amaze you. He is getting a little gray, and he is deaf as a stone........but he is still a very sweet boy. As you can see.



Have you ever heard about stratifying seeds???? I bought some heirloom seeds, and read the back of the package, and it said they have to be "stratified". Great. So I went to google.....and it said that the seeds had to be mixed in damp peat moss, and kept in the refrigerator, to mimic winter, for 4 weeks, then planted inside. So that is where they are, and I hope it works........I am supposed to check them periodically to see if any sprout, if they do, I need to plant them right away.
I bought a bunch of seeds, not sure what I was thinking.......a lot of them need to be planted inside. I have no idea where to do that. If I put them downstairs, the cats will tip them over, no doubt. I can't put them upstairs because there is no heat up there. I am tempted to plant the hollyhocks outside. How about a cold frame??? Hmm. There's an idea.

I am going to be in the local weekly newspaper this week. Twice a year, the Chronicle does a "Women in Business" issue. I missed it last time, but this time I made the deadline and made out the questionaire. I even sent them a picture of myself.
Small town girl makes good.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Husband of the Year.


My husband is always saying that I never write about him on my blog.........it is true, I take him for granted. And I shouldn't. I guess it is just because I am so comfortable, and feel so safe, and that is a wonderful thing. I never imagined a relationship could be like taking a breath. Just that normal.
My husband is a good man. I mean it. He is. He makes my life easier every day, and he is always interested in what I am doing, and what I am about.
He is also an honest politician. He really does say what he thinks, and what he means, and he never backs down, even if it isn't popular. I really love that about him.
He also makes great spagetti and meatballs, and the BEST chicken parm ever.
We may not be young, but he is the love of my life. And even better, he is my best friend.
So here's to you, Mr. Bill, you really are "still the one".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Simple moments

Finally warm weather, and the snow melted enough on the bike path, so Eddie and I could walk our favorite route.
This is the dam across the Hudson River. I love the sound of the roaring water.
My husband says this is a power plant, but I have never seen any activity there. It is a neat brick building, nonetheless.

Eddie loves to walk down here. As soon as we head down the road towards the river, he gets excited. It is a great walk. We occasionally meet other people walking their dogs, but not often.
And when we do, Ed is almost a perfect gentleman.







































My daughter and her boyfriend are vacationing in the Florida Keys. They sent me these pictures.
Aren't they fantastic? I want to swim with dolphins.....it looks like an incredible experience.
Isn't it amazing that the simplest things make us so very happy. And most often, they happen when we least expect them to.


When I spent a couple of days with my middle daughter this past week, we went to an organic restaurant for lunch. It was an unusual occurrence, for the two of us to be alone together, without children. We talked, and I told her about a memory I had, of a few moments in time that for some reason stuck in my head. Several years ago, my husband to be and I were working on an apartment we were getting ready to rent. We were plastering the upstairs, and making an awful mess. Sometime during the day, I went down to the house, and brought back a cardboard box, with hot dogs, rolls, mustard, relish, chips, and drinks. We sat together on the floor, eating this lunch. For some reason, with the sun streaming through the windows, sharing this simple fare, I realized that my life had changed. After some tough times, I was happy, and content. I knew my life was going to be OK.
Today I got an email from my daughter. She said that having lunch with me the other day at Everybody's Cafe, was a "hotdog moment in Putnam" for her.
Wow.





























































Thursday, March 19, 2009

The labyrinth.


Finally, today, I walked the labyrinth. I can't believe how much I have been looking forward to this, waiting for just enough snow to melt so I could see the rocks. I walked it with my camera, and I walked very, very slowly. I love slowing my brain down and waiting to see what impressions pop up while I am walking. Taking pictures of it gave me lots of different perspectives.
The one thought that occurred to me was this. There are so many times in life when you think you are so close to the answers you are looking for, and yet they are out of reach. You go in all different directions, but try as you might, you just can't quite get there. Like the center of the labyrinth, it looks so close, and yet the path takes you away, then close again, then further away.
The labyrinth is really simple. There is one way in, and one way out. The only thing to do is to decide to enter. That's it. So simple, and yet, it seems, while you are doing it, so circuitous. Kind of like life. If you just take that first step, and trust the process, you will get there. I love the labyrinth, and I want a sign that says "where you might find the center of your heart". That's what my grandson told me it was for, and I think he is right. While I haven't advertised the labyrinth, anyone who comes to the studio is welcome to walk it. It is too good not to share.
This is the stair runner......all 240" of it, resting til next week. Then I will measure it, wind it on again, and finish it.

This red and yellow warp is for placemats. I actually rethreaded it after I wove this, so that the stripe on the right, is matched by another stripe on the left. The fabric I am using is a pale, butter yellow, with roses. I have enough warp to make 6 or 7 sets of placemats. Then I need to make some in neutral colors. I have kind of been stuck on warm colors of late.

I can't say that I have accomplished much this week. But strangely enough, I don't feel guilty about it, like I usually would. I think that age has its benefits. I am coming to think that it is not going to be as hard as I thought to manage my "retirement". As a bona fide workaholic, I have been known to have trouble taking days off. But I am committed to changing that this year.........at last. There are other things to do besides work. Really.
For starters:
I am making sun dresses for the granddaughters this week.
I am starting flower seeds.
Getting the kayaks out of the basement, and putting the racks back on my car.
Walking the dog down by the river, taking pictures.
Reading a book on photography, playing scrabble. Making plans to take some day trips with my grandchildren.
Hopefully, a weekend trip with my husband.
Yes, I have plans.
Not all work.
And it's OK.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where we want to be.


Back to the studio today......after taking a couple of days to be with my daughter and her family. It was beautiful yesterday, but today the sunshine didn't last long, and it was raining by lunch time. A lot of the snow is gone, replaced by mud, which is OK with me, I prefer mud.
I had visitors today.....first my best friend, Sheila, then my cousin, Joan, and then my friend, Alice. Some days I weave away all day and see no one, so it was nice today to have company, and catch up.
I worked on a stair runner all day, and will probably finish it tomorrow. I won't take it off the loom though, instead I will just unwind it from the front beam, and let it rest on the floor under the loom, for about a week. During that time, it will "find" its desired length, and then I will measure it with the tension off, and wind it back on the loom, and either add some, or un-weave some, til it is just right.
I am pretty tired, I think emotionally charged times wear you down..........so I came home and went in the hot tub, and put my pj's on. It seemed like the right thing to do. My pup.....Eddie, who is 12 years old this year, is glued to me from the moment I walk through the front door. He loves me. In this picture, he is lying on the couch, one of his favorite places, gazing adoringly at me. His ears are flat back to his head, which means he is very happy. My husband and I both tell him that he gives pit bulls a bad name......he is such a baby, but he pays no attention.
Eddie was one of two puppies being used as bowling balls by a group of deviant teenagers. A friend of my daughter's happened to be in the bowling alley, and she bravely confronted them, and threatened them with the police. Rather than get arrested, they gave her both dogs, Eddie, a brindle pit bull, and a Rottweiler puppy. She kept the Rottweiler, and my daughter took Eddie with her to California. A year later, when they came back to NY, she couldn't keep him where she was living, so she brought him to my house, where he has been ever since. He loves to swim, and as soon as it is warm enough I will take a video of him leaping into the pool, and swimming in circles. He sleeps on the bed, and he is a big bed hog. He has babies, stuffed animals, all over the house. He loves his tennis ball, but when he was 3 years old, after my other pit, his best friend, died, he tore it apart, and swallowed a big chunk of it, and he ended up with a bowel obstruction. Emergency surgery saved his life, and boiled chicken fed by hand gave him back his strength.
Contrary to all the negative press, Eddie has never bitten one person, he is a total love bunny.
Last October, he had pancreatitis, and was very, very sick. He spent 5 days in the animal hospital. Thankfully, he made a full recovery. He doesn't hear very well anymore, and he has cataracts, and he doesn't see very well either. So we don't move the furniture, and we are very careful about the fat content of what he eats.
He has lots of other names besides Ed. We call him Eddie, Edgar, Baby boy, sweet boy, Edhead, Eddie head, puppy boy, pitbull........the list goes on.
We are pathetic.
I know he is not long for this world....pit bulls live to be about 12, and he has aged a lot this last year.....I am hoping he has another summer to swim. For now, I continue to be grateful for his loyalty and love. When he settles next to me for the night, he takes a deep breath, and sighs. I reach over and pat him. He is right where he wants to be.
Isn't that what makes us all happy?
Welcome to my world.

Because every thread counts

Because every thread counts