Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions...


It is time. The time of year when many of us are thinking of next year, and of what our New Year's resolution will be. The promise that we will make to ourselves and try to keep. Something that will enhance our lives. Do you have one yet? Were you able to keep the one that you made last year? The year before that? Do you remember those resolutions? I thought I would share my New Years resolution with you. I have had the same resolution since I was a teenager...more than 30 years. And I have kept it every year. Curious? It is very simple. Each year I resolve to learn one new thing and make the effort to learn as much as I can about it during the year. For most of the years I have chosen to focus on a new craft. That is what I like to do...make things...be creative...experiment. For you it might be about books, or history, or the computer or even sports. You are free to choose anything you want to learn about. You don't have to select your topic at the beginning of the year. Many years I have not seen the spark of what I wanted to learn until the middle of the summer. But I still had time to focus on my choice and learn. I can often find a class on something interesting at evening adult education classes, or even on the internet or through a book. Often my friends have taught me something that they know...and are pleased at my interest in their activities.

Over the years I have tried things and enjoyed them. I chose to pursue them and continue learning about them now. Knitting, quilting, making penny rugs, applique, woodworking, making baskets, rug hooking and dying wool are all things that I resolved to learn about and continue to enjoy.

Other things I have tried but either wasn't very good at them or just stopped doing them to pursue other things. But I still have that knowledge. Cross stitch, needlepoint, latch hook, pottery, playing guitar, woodburning, needlefelting, punchneedle. Those lessons have fallen by the wayside, but at any time I could still pick them up. And sometimes I do!
Photography was one of the first things that I resolved to learn, and continue to enjoy (as you can tell by all the pictures that I take!). I did not have to spend a lot of time on it...just the basics. I cannot develop film and am not adept at changing the aperature on a camera. But I can compose a simple shot that will capture my image. I learned about lighting and shadows. I read about numerous photographers and feel I can carry on a semi-knowledgable conversation about the subject. This past year I learned about spinning. I am not very good at it!!! But I have leaned about ratios and types of fiber and breeds of sheep from Romneys to Corriedale to Lincolns. I know how to put together a spinning wheel and can name all the parts. I need to practice, and perhaps someday I will be adept at spinning. But for now I can say that in the past year I have learned something and have kept my resolution from last year.Again this year my New Years resolution will be to learn something. I don't know what it will be...that's in my future. Perhaps it will be to learn more about designing. I love to build and create, and there is a lot to learn on that subject. It would also work nicely with the things I already like to do. Last year this silly mat design came about from a Challenge called "New Life". I fondly call it the Sperm Mat (what was I thinking!?!). I learned to design a tongue penny rug in an internet group, and find relaxing pleasure in playing with circles of wool to make penny rugs. I designed a pattern for a class but the hooked rug is still "in progress". I like to design but find it intimidating. There is a lot to learn about creating a good design.
Perhaps what I choose to learn will go off in another direction entirely. One year I learned all about MS because of some friends who were diagnosed at the same time. Another year I learned about cancer...more than I wanted to know. It can be about anything. But I can tell you this. At the end of your year when you are looking back, it feels good to be able to say that you have learned a lot about one particular thing. And you have kept your New Years resolution...once again. I hope the coming year brings you Gods blessings, good health, and daily hugs. Happy New Year everyone!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Home Tour


Since some of you seem to have liked the photos I have shown, I thought I would torture you with my own tour. It won't take long...it's all one room with the fireplace structure in the center!!! And after all, it is semi clean right now and has a few Christmas decorations up. So here goes my tour of our 1860's Cape.
It was a flea filled shack when we moved in...with unfinished walls and subflooring under our feet. No one had taken care of it in any way for at least 50 years. The top photo was taken with my back to the front door, looking a bit to the right into the living room. You can see our woodstove that is our primary heat source. Our little telephone table is on the right, and further to the right out of view is my bookcase-hutch. The next picture is what you see as you enter (looking slightly left) to the kitchen side of the massive brick fireplace structure.Standing in the kitchen with my back to the cabinets I'll show a few shots. The kitchen side has a small fireplace that we never use but it does function. That hearth is our dog's eating area. The crock is full of dog food, and the antique specimen jar is for his bones. You can see the front door that is never used. Good friends always use the back door.At this point I will tell you that the people who owned the home before us felt it had spirits that would visit them. That's one of the reasons that they moved. We laughed it off, although I have had some strange experiences in my life that I won't tell now. I will tell you that the house and barn had places where you would feel as though you were being watched, and you would feel chilled...even in the summer. Creepy...and we both felt it. Over time as we fixed up the place those sensations subsided. If there were spirits I think they are happy that there are people who are fixing up their old home and taking care of the place. But when I see my pictures come out with swirls of grey that don't exist in the room (like the above shot) I kinda wonder. There was no light or anything in the room that would cause that.The above shot is taken looking slightly right, with my back still against the cabinets. The painted bunny chest holds VCR tapes, and the old green bucket holds all those plastic bags that we get at the grocery store.The copper coal hod holds our dishtowels. Since it is an old house it only has one closet upstairs...for everything! So you will see a variety of crocks, chests and objects that disguise our "stuff". The chimney has it's original bee hive oven with cast iron door, and it's a great place to let bread rise when the woodstove is going. The woodstove is just to the right around the corner.
The next photo is looking slightly left and shows our tree, and 8' long table. The table top is 3" thick and was made of old floorboards from a building in Georgia. I actually have 8 old ladderback chairs that can go around the table and look lovely. But they are incredibly uncomfortable! So we have a mix of chairs for now until I see a nice (comfortable) set at auction for a fair price. If we had taller ceilings I would probably have baskets and herbs hanging all over the place. But with low ceilings you have to be selective where you hang your collections. Above the kitchen fireplace (and dog eating area) is a collection of old mashers. My hubby has to have mashed potatoes with every meal, even pizza. So I started collecting old mashers.
From the from door shot you could see the following at a distance. This is my...well...studio. I have my corner of the living room with all my crafty stuff within reach. To the right out of sight is the couch. That's the hubby's spot. It's currently covered with winter coats that were on the back of the kitchen chairs before I began taking pictures. I'll put them back on the chairs before he gets home!I have an old tool tray behind my chair that sits upon a very old stand that formerly was used for "booking" wallpaper. That tray holds a lot, and under the stand are a couple of old crates that hold some wool and UFO's. Hooks, needles, punchneedle items, spools for spinning...it's all here!
This shot is taken from the top of the stairs looking down (you can see the Christmas tree in the kitchen). There is a huge beam that goes across the space where I hang some of my larger baskets. (Storage, remember?)
And as you go down the stairs and look straight across this is what you see. Did I tell you everyone has to duck to get down the stairs because there is a big 'ol beam there? The chest and other items provides protection for us (and the dog) as there is no railing on that side. I will refrain from showing you the upstairs today as it is quite messy. And I don't feel like dealing with it today. I think I'll start a fire in the woodstove and sit back with a cuppa tea that my Secret Santa Susan sent. I'll read my new issue of Wool Street Journal that just arrived, and think about a project I have been wanting to make...with moose antlers. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone!

I am enjoying a relaxing day. My better half and I exchanged gifts this morning, and had planned for a visit from our grandaughters. But it seems that the flu has struck their family and we will not be seeing them today. Such a shame, as it is a beautiful sunny and almost warm day that would be nice for the drive. Perhaps later in the week they will feel better. As I have said before...the spirit of Christmas shouldn't be reserved for only one day.
I gave my man a new receiver for his T.V. surround system as he constantly had to get up and "thwack" the old one in order to get the speakers to work. So for several hours I have seen nothing of him except his backside behind the T.V. as he attempts to set up the speakers, TIVO, VCR, DVD and satellite sound so everything works. He almost has it, and I'm proud of him as it's only taken 3 beers and very little swearing! I almost took a picture of his butt for you to see how hard he was working, but decided against it.
Above is another amusing shot of a sign in our home. I found it shortly after we moved in 13 years ago, and the time is pretty accurate for when the house was built and also for the condition of the house. It was so appropriate that I had to get it.I am always trying to get a nice picture of our old dog Brutus. Since he is all black, his pictures often turn up as a shadow. But he was sitting near the tree this morning watching me patiently as I prepared the prime rib for dinner. Whenever he smells garlic or horseradish he knows that something wonderful is going to happen. Good dog Bruty!!!This is our Rascal cat. I got her 10 years ago at a yard sale of all places...free with papers! She is a purebred 'coon cat, although this picture doesn't show her fluffy tail. She is small for a 'coon...about 12 pounds. As with all 'coon cats she is a bit naughty much of the time and shows bad manners by going on the counter or sleeping where she shouldn't. She is wondering why her stocking is empty! I'll treat her to some catnip later. Since my afternoon plans have gone astray I believe I will head off to do some reverse hooking on a rug, and then start several parts again with new colors. Ahhh...crafting time. Thank you God...and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent night...

Christmas will be here in a few hours and it is a quiet and peaceful night in the North East. At our home the holidays are usually quiet, as we enjoy spending the day at home and letting people come to us if they wish. Our door is always open. Dick's son and two of our grandaughters will spend the afternoon with us and enjoy a hearty dinner. With our friends and family...Christmas lasts until Valentines Day. We will see the other two grandaughters in January, and I will visit my family in S.C. in January also. Whenever our friends show up or we see them, we will celebrate and exchange gifts. It really relieves a lot of stress for everyone to not be expected to have everything perfect on one day. After all, we should treat every day as a gift from God and as a holiday in it's own right. This past week I received several packages in the mail. One was a large box from Ginger. She awarded a gift to someone who had visited her blog, and I was the lucky winner! The box was full of a generous variety of items as you can see in the picture. Thank you SO much Ginger...you gave me a huge smile as I opened everything! Of course I encourage everyone reading this to check out Ginger's blog, as well as the other blogs that I have on my list. Here is Ginger's entertaining blog about her farm and crafts: http://primitivesbythelightofthemoon.blogspot.com/
There are some very talented fiber artists on my list so please visit them! I also received a totally unexpected package from my friend Lynn in Australia. It contained a calendar with beautiful aboriginal artwork. I love the way the calendar is set up with plenty of room to write appointments. She also sent a sweet stitchery pattern of girlfriends doing their crafts over tea. It would make a perfect punchneedle piece and is already on the backing. Thank you Lynn!
Dud to all the wintery weather we have had lately, I did minimal decorating this year. I pulled out my Santa collection, but instead of grouping them I spread them out around the house. My blue goose is out year round, but I added a penny tree that was made by my internet friend Delores and given to me as a swap. I added another Santa and the twiggy star that I made years ago.
This wool stocking is one of my favorites and was made by Cee up in Nova Scotia. She has an incredible talent for taking bits of old blankets and recycled wool and creating penny mats that look as if they were made a hundred years ago. Even her threads are often vintage or recycled from linen or monks cloth. http://www.earlystylepennyrugs.com/index.html
As I have said before we live in a small home built in the 1760's. The entire center of the home is the brick structure for the chimney. We have a small fireplace on the kitchen side, one on the living room side, and a woodstove on the third side. Our stairway is on the fourth side and as you can see it has no risers. This picture was taken from the corner where I do my crafting. Our home is one room downstairs (except for the bathroom) and one room upstairs with the brick structure in the center. Our ceilings are 6'7" at their highest point. They are all hand hewn beams except for the white ceiling you might be able to see to the left of the picture. Many years ago the previous owners had a fire escape from their woodstove. One of the local firefighters said our home was the only home they had ever saved!Here is one of the strange vintage items that I found, framed and hung on the wall.
I loved all your comments about the ice storm pictures. Shortly after we got our power back last week we had a snowstorm, about 6". Then last Sunday we got 18" of snow. So there is plenty of snow on the ground (and everything else) and it will be a beautiful white Christmas. I hope that you all stay safe and warm surrounded by your families tomorrow, and enjoy the love. I'll end today with a picture of part of our backyard.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice Storm...back to basics

We knew it was coming. We had filled our entry with wood for the stove, and filled buckets with water in anticipation of a power outage. We had filled our bathtub with water. We have a well, so if we lose power we also lose the ability to pump water. We went to bed Thursday 12-11 feeling prepared. We were awakened at 3:00 in the morning by ominous crashing outside. I went downstairs to investigate by flashlight as the power had indeed gone out. I couldn't see anything outside, but could tell the rain was heavy and the wind was high. I settled on the couch with a book as I had to get up in another hour for work and knew I would never get back to sleep so I might as well stay up. A short while later there was a very loud crash near the house. I feared that one of our large trees had fallen in our driveway (on our vehicles?), so I put my winter coat on over my bathrobe. The closest boots were knee high rubber waders, and I grabbed my jumbo golf umbrella and headed outside into the cold pouring rain with a beacon flashlight. I'm sure I looked quite fashionable!I could see through the sleet and darkness that one of the crashing sounds was my peach tree falling apart. Another was a stand of birches in our yard. As I came around the corner of the house there was another crash and suddenly there were electrical wires in front of me. I should tell you at this point that God and I have a quiet and peaceful relationship. I don't ask much of him and he doesn't put too much on me. He doesn't speak to me directly as He does with some people, but I know He's always there. That night he yelled at me "Get back in your house!!!" Yes, Sir!!! I bolted away from the wires and into the warm house! Shortly after I entered the house there was another crash. That one was our favorite crabapple tree that we sit under every day during the summer. It had crashed in front of our door. Each Spring it has the most glorious magenta blossoms, and the birds love the fruit.
At this point my better half was downstairs wondering what all the ruckus was and laughing at my outfit. When it was light we realized that we had lost a lot of trees. A large tree had fallen across the road and the end of our driveway, pulling down the power lines and pulling the lines right off of our house. I called work and let them know I wasn't coming in. That is the first time in 18 years that I have stayed home due to weather. I've braved blizzards, ice storms and hurricanes, but I wasn't going anywhere that day. I couldn't!Late that afternoon a tree company came to take the tree off of the road so we could pass, but they wouldn't touch the wires. The transformer was down (along with 2 poles) and they told us the wires weren't "live". By Sunday we had seen several trucks drive over the wires and they survived, so on Monday I went to work. Almost everyone was still without power at that point, and stores, banks and post offices were all closed because they didn't have electricity. I had to drive over the wires and was terrified even though I knew they were "dead". We have spent the past week returning to the basics of life and ignoring the fact that it is almost Christmas and there is shopping to do and cards and gifts to mail. We were focused on keeping our small generator running as it kept our freezer in the basement cold, our sump pump running and our refrigerator running. We have over 500 pounds of moose, cow and fish in the basement freezer. I collect hurricane lamps and they provided light. Not enough light to rug hook or needlepunch, so I knit as you can knit in very low light. I brought water home from my workplace each day so we could bathe and flush the toilet. We were also able to cook as we have a gas stove, but had no oven. The woodstove kept us warm.

It is now a week later, and we had our power restored this afternoon. Thank you God! I know we were blessed that none of the trees came down on our house, barn, vehicles or cabin. Or me!!! We were luckier than many people who had to go to shelters, or they had severe damage to their homes.
We are intensely thankful to all the workers who spent 16 hour days working on clearing roads and getting power restored to the many thousands of people that this storm affected. Many tree and power companies came from as far away as Michigan and New Jersey to aid, as well as neighbors from Canada, Nova Scotia and Vermont. They said our people have been there for them in the past when disaster struck, so they felt it was the least they could do. The Salvation Army lost their toys due to flooding, and a local radio station campaigned on their behalf and raised over $15,000 within a few days so the children would have toys for the holidays. The people in this area checked on neighbors and took friends and family into their homes so that they wouldn't have to go to shelters. This storm really brought out the best in humanity and once again showed us that the most important thing is how we treat each other in times of need.
I have received several presents in the mail during the past few days from swap partners, and I must admit that I am behind on mailing things due to this storm. I will try to catch up shortly, although we are about to get a few big snowstorme (10" or better) tomorrow, Sunday and again on Christmas eve. So my gifts and cards, when finally received, should be considered "Happy New Year" gifts and cards. Then perhaps they won't be considered late! And to those who were missing me and helped fill my in-box with worried notes...no worries...we're fine. Thank you!