Sunday, December 30, 2007

Peace of Mind

It's just a gate, right?

No, it is so much more.

This gate is peace of mind.

No more worrying that Mom would slip out of the house and into the night, or into one of the corn fields surrounding the house. I can actually sleep now.

Friends from my spinning group came and helped me put up fence all the way around my property, and installed the gate.

Have I mentioned how much I love the friends in my spinning group?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Llamas are curious

I was out doing chores yesterday, scrubbing water buckets and hauling water, when I noticed this rainbow like thingy next to the sun. I kept scrubbing and hauling, thinking, "Eh, how many pictures of the sun and snow do I need?" Apparently more, because I gave in and fetched the camera.

The rainbow like thingy.

Then Tieck had to come see what I was doing.

I moved to get Tieck out of the way,

when here comes Nikita.


"Whatcha doin'?"

"No, really, whatcha doin'?"

"Oh, you're taking a picture of that? That's it? Just the stupid ol' sun?"

"Wouldn't you rather take a picture of me? This is my sexy, over the shoulder look. In profile, you can see my beautiful long lashes."

"If I hold my head just so, my ear will block the sun so it doesn't go in your eyes."

I also realized I have some nails to pound down in the spring.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Art of Alzheimer's

A coin flower.
Mom likes to always have coins in her pockets.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How I spent my Christmas vacation

A few finished items, and some works in progress.
Finished items first, ok?

Fingerless mitts called "A little twist". This was my first experience with cabling, and I used the cabling without a cable needle method. This is a lovely pattern, I just might make a pair for myself. This pair was made from leftover yarn from the shawl I showed in an earlier post, and was intended to go to the same recipient. The box containing that shawl, another 7 ft tri-shawl, two pairs of socks and a neckwarmer seems to have gone astray in the mail system. I insured it, but all that about makes me cry. I hope that whoever has it needed the warmth it provides.

This is woven on an 18 inch tri-loom. It is just the right size to fit around the neck and tuck into the coat. This is one ply of brown alpaca (Wooly Bear) and one ply of a commercial yarn.

The fabric up close.

Here is another. This yarn is an alpaca/merino wool/silk/mohair blend that I called "Stormy sky". I think this will look great worn with a jean jacket.

This is the finished skein of the llama/wool/silk blend shown in an earlier post. It may decide to become an Irish Walking Scarf.

Some dyeing has been done too.

Mohair locks from a friend's flock of angora goats. She always has a booth at Shepherd's Harvest, (a wool/fiber festival held in the spring) and has invited me to join her this year. I may take her up on that.

This is a blend of alpaca/wool/silk/nylon that I got back from the mill recently. It is intended as a sock yarn blend.

Here it is being spun up.

Here it is in my favorite blues/purples colorway. I never seem to tire of this combination.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Self-portrait, "A Christmas Carol" style

This is Mom with her great granddaughter Alex.

I see my Ghosts of Christmas Future and of Christmas Past in this photo. I looked uncannily like Alex 39 years ago. Will I look like Mom 36 years from now? I look into their eyes, and somehow see myself.

On a lighter note.

Literally seconds after the above photo, and you can sort of see the start of it in her expression above, Mom thumbed her nose at me. This one makes me laugh.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Maple Corners.
This was the sky just a couple of minutes ago.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Fiber porn

Peach Boy, my one true love.

Aries, my other true love. (Natural rose gray)

Elvis, my true love! Your dark beauty astounds me. (Bay black) Yes, I am fickle, I love them all.

Ely, you remind me of butterscotch pudding!

Wooly Bear, you match the middle of your namesake!

An experiment gone terribly right! Natural gray llama (Stewie and Kiwi) carded together with blues and purples merino/silk, (app 50% llama, 25% merino, 25% silk)

A bit of this spun up.

I'm off to spin some more!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here comes the sun, do n do do, here comes the sun

These are sundogs (left and right), actually, but you get the point. Happy Winter Solstice.

On a fiber forum I frequent, a poster got squished for remarking that working with a good fleece is orgasmic. Actually, I think all the fiber people on the forum agreed, it was the administrator that deleted/edited the post.

But this is my blog, and I'll say whatever I want to. Working with a good fleece is orgasmic. There. (Think of the google hits that one might conjure up.)

There really is something very sensual and tactile about working with fiber, whether that be as it slips through your fingers while spinning it into yarn, or having it magically turn into felt under your fingertips. That last is something that thrills me every single time.

Why do I bring this up? I don't know, really. I got an e-mail from the mill, my fiber is ready. If all goes well (weather) I'll be picking it up today on the way to my sister's for our Christmas potluck. The anticipation is like when your pulse quickens at the thought of your hot date tonight.

There might be some touching, and fondling going on at Maple Corners tonight.

If you're lucky, I'll take pictures.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My friends rock!

I've had the flu the past few days, no complications, just your run of the mill, make you feel like crap kind of flu.

My friend Mary Lou, (of sheep shearing in the kitchen fame) just happened to call today, and could tell from my voice that I was sick. She said that she had just started a big pot of chicken soup, and would bring some over for Mom and I, don't make supper!

She arrived tonight with the whole pot of soup. She also brought several bags of groceries, including a roast, ham steak, milk, apple juice, tp, lavender soap, chamomile tea, butter, a big basket of fruit, a tin of Christmas cookies, brownie mix, just add water soup mixes, bread, cough drops, a hot watter bottle, a cough syrup her family swears by that doesn't knock you out (since I can't risk not hearing Mom get up at night) and, to top it all off, an incredibly soft, cuddly throw.

We might be in for a storm this weekend depending on how it tracks, so she didn't want me to have to go out. I am the luckiest person in the world to have such friends.

It may be icy outside, but it sure is warm in my heart.

Garbage mittens

Last year I gave my then 4 year old nephew a pair of denim blue felted alpaca mittens for Christmas. When he opened the present, he took one look at them, sort of shook them, said "Stupid garbage mittens!" threw them down, and stormed off. He was so mad!

My sister was mortified, and kept apologizing for her "ungrateful" son. No big deal, I knew that mittens are not what a four year old wants for Christmas, they want toys. More and more toys! I knew he needed the mittens, though.

A couple weeks later, my sister called. She had discovered the reason for the outburst.

She was doing laundry, and was emptying the lint trap of her dryer. Her son was standing there, and said, "See, that's garbage, right Mom?" She said, "Well, yes, we'll put the lint in the garbage. " He ran and got his mittens, and stood there comparing them to the lint she had pulled out. "See, garbage mittens."

The poor kid thought his aunt had given him mittens made out of garbage! They wear a lot of jeans, so their lint is usually the exact color of the mittens I had made. My sister explained to him that I had made the mittens out of fiber from the animals I have especially for him. "They're not garbage?" No, honey, not garbage. He got a big smile on his face, immediately put them on, and now wears them all the time, in the house and out.

I just might be giving him a "garbage" hat for Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pheasants are funny. Turkeys are too.

Pheasants in the distance running across a field look like little "v"s. It always reminds me of that commercial for some sleep aid where there are "z"s with legs running around.

When you come upon them on the road, if you slow down, they will just run along in front of you. Turkeys do this to. Hello! Get off the road! If there happens to be ice patches on the road, they might take a spill. It's kind of funny. I kind of enjoy watching turkeys fall down. Does that make me a bad person?

The other day, from inside the house, I was watching several pheasants near the road. I kept cringing because there were cars on the road, and I didn't want them to get hit.

One truck actually stopped. I thought maybe they had hit one. A man got out, dressed in an orange vest, went to the back of his truck, and pulled out a rifle. I immediately started yelling obscenities at him, perhaps casting aspersions on his mother and questioning his virility. The problem was, I was still in the house, and he was far away. He took a few steps away from his truck, and either the pheasants flew away, (likely) or he realized that he had no clear sight lines to shoot, he would have been aiming for my house or the neighbor's house. Since he was idiot enough to stop and get out his gun in the first place, I don't think not having a safe shot would have stopped him. As far as I know, it is illegal to shoot from a roadway in Minnesota. If he would have stepped onto my land, he certainly didn't have permission to hunt on it. Idiot!

I generally don't have a problem with the concept of hunting, as long as the person actually eats what he/she has hunted, is respectful of the animal, and is sportsmanlike in methods. Baiting, shining or spotlighting, or hunting from the road? No. Hunting purely for sport, for that trophy, I also have a problem with.

If you are in the least bit squeamish, do not read on!

You know what else makes me laugh? The label on some organic eggs stating that their chickens are fed an all-natural, vegetarian diet. Chickens are not vegetarians! Mine eat thousands of crickets and grasshoppers, and frogs, and toads, and even mice if they can catch them. I was cleaning out some old hay one day and uncovered a mouse nest full of babies. Those chickens were on it so fast, I couldn't have saved them.

I debated whether I should tell this next story. If you are squeamish, or a guy, or a squeamish guy, you definitely don't want to read this. Stop now, go back, save yourself!

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Ok, so one day I had the vet out to geld a few llamas. With llamas, this involves an actual operation, putting the llama under, and removing the testicles. We had three to do, so we finished with one, and moved on to the next. Once removing them, the vet had just put the, shall we say, nut sacks, in a little pile.

We were working on the next llama, when out of the corner of my eye, I see the chickens chasing each other. What the? One of chickens had a hold of the nut sack, the nut swinging to and fro under her beak, while the others would chase her. She would drop it, and another chicken would pick it up, and the chase would begin again. Chicken nutsack football, my friends! Who needs professional football when you have this kind of entertainment in the back yard! (Yes, the chickens eventually ate them.) The vet was probably wondering why I was crying. (Laughing so hard!)

So, when are you all coming over for breakfast? HAHAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dog Tired

I was going to try for an actual post, but doing chores just wiped me out. I'm sick, feverish, slightly dizzy (no comments that that is normal for me please), and if whoever is sitting on my lungs would get the hell off I would appreciate it. Whine whine whine.
I'm tired as Ursa up there. Going to head to the couch and hope that Mom doesn't get it, and will continue to do some coloring so I can rest.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advice to spinners

Don't spin while listening to smokin' bluegrass. Unless you want a lot of overtwist.

Much more conducive to dyeing.

Turn it up!


P.S. This public service post brought to you by the colors Indigo and Silver Birch!

P.S.S. Dye fumes may have also contributed to this post.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Art of Alzheimer's-Christmas edition

Snapped this one last night. I have a cupboard for Mom, where I leave measured portions of her favorite snacks. (If I left the whole bag, the whole bag would be gone.) Her favorite is marshmallows. These are marshmallow stars. Big whup, right, a little pile of stars. Until you realize that they are carefully interconnected. And there are green evergreen tree marshmallows in the bag too, so if this were truly random, there would be little trees in the pile.

I lied before. If I were to send out Christmas cards, this would be the shot I'd use.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Soybean quilt

The last year my neighbor rented my front field, he used it as a soybean demonstration plot. You can see that each variety yielded a slightly different shade of golden brown. (Probably more visible if you click for big.) I wish I was better at quilting, because in my mind I envision a quilt wall hanging when I see this.

When the neighbor planted this that spring, he parked in my driveway to load the seed. Mom walked down the driveway to see what was going on, and talked to him for a bit. The neighbor hadn't met Mom before, so I walked down after her to explain that she had AD, so if whatever she had said didn't make sense (and it probably didn't), that was why. She continued on to the mailbox, checked it, and then walked back to the house.

I spoke to the neighbor for a bit. He said that he and his brothers had started to wonder (worry?) about their Mom. I implored him, rather emotionally, and passionately, and forcefully, I think, to please, please get it checked out. Don't be like my family and be in denial for so long and heaven forbid actually talk about it. That is one guilt I will carry with me all of my days.

Fast forward to late November. It was an abnormally warm day, and Mom was out walking to the mailbox, as usual. She usually walked to the mailbox, looked inside, and then walked back to the house. Sometimes she forgot to make the turn, and kept walking down the road, so I always watched from the yard to make sure she was coming back. This time, there was somebody pushing a stroller up the road, and Mom started walking with them. I assumed it was the neighbor girl (she had a small baby) that sat with Mom, because she just waved when she saw me in the yard. I figured, ok, she doesn't mind Mom tagging along, that's great. They walked up the road a bit, turned around, and started walking back. I walked out the driveway to meet them, because Mom probably would want to just continue walking with her, and wouldn't understand to come down the driveway. As I got closer, I realized it wasn't the neighbor girl at all, but the wife of the neighbor that rents the field. (She had her little yorkie in the stroller!)

I apologized, and explained who I thought she was. She just laughed and said she didn't mind at all, she enjoyed having Mom with her.

Then, she thanked me. She said that the family had talked it all out, got their Mom to the doctor, and she had started on Aricept. It had made the world of difference for her. She said that the wives of all the brothers had been pushing for them to do something, but it took hearing it from an experienced, non-interested third-party for them to take action. My impassioned plea to her husband had really sunk in. So, she thanked me.

I was happy to hear that at least some good had come from my family's experience.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Sick of them yet? Too bad. The hoarfrost looked so pretty falling off the trees this morning I couldn't resist. Really, click for big on this one. If I sent out Christmas cards, this might be the shot I'd use.

A real post one of these days, perhaps.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chicks and Walks to the Mailbox

The most recent batch of chicks seems more intelligent than previous ones. They have figured out that I bring the food and water, and they start chirping as soon as they hear me crunching through the snow to the coop. Then, when I get in the coop, they come running and stand on my feet. That makes it difficult to walk when you're carrying a five gallon bucket of water, let me tell you! My prediction, based on their combs, there are four pullets and two cockerels. I can never actually tell until they crow.

We had three inches of very light fluffy snow fall on Saturday night. I walked out to get the mail Sunday morning. There was no wind, and everything was absolutely silent.

Yesterday was bright and sunny, and a slight breeze had picked up. That slight breeze set to resculpting the landscape. The fluffy blanket of snow now kept shifting and reforming new drifts. There is a slight ridge on the field to the south. It looked like the ground was moving, the snow ebbing and flowing in the breeze, and being reflected by the bright sun. It makes me wonder how far it has come since it first touched the ground. The snow making this drift...did it first touch the ground a mile away, and then the wind carried it here? Where will it be tomorrow? Anyway, I love watching it. I have found it impossible to capture on camera. Sometimes you just have to experience things.

Yesterday's walk to the mailbox:

I enjoy walking to the mailbox.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Art of Alzheimer's, and your opinion needed!

You may have to look very closely to even see this one, the colors match so closely.

Now, I need your help.

Some of you may have seen the felted neckwarmers I've been making. I have one that I thought was in more masculine colors, so might appeal as a gift for a guy. This one.

Is the felted button closure still too feminine looking for a guy? I had my suspicions, so was trying to figure out an alternative. I have tried Velcro, but fiber gets caught in it, so it doesn't work.

Then I thought of magnetic snaps. Here is the prototype, showing the snap:


And on:

The closure could also be worn in the back. What do you think, button or snap for guys?

ETA: So that you can actually see what I'm talking about, here is a lightened and larger photo of the Art photo. (Thanks for your assistance with this, Rick!)