Friday, December 30, 2011

on the shelf

in which our plucky heroine acquires some additional storage space...

It has been worky-week here at Acorn Cottage, my schedule is one intense week alternating with one household week, and this week had me out of the house working on all five days. Am spending a goodly chunk of every day on the phone dealing with med-foo, and a goodly chunk of most evenings in the workroom. In the midst of all this, dear Gryphon came down here, to help me get new shelves on the wall above the futon couch.

Such projects are ever-so-much easier with more than one set of hands, and over the course of the two days, the pieces of cut plywood from last weekend had their corners rounded, a trip to the big orange box garnered more brackets, and now there is space for a lot more of my fabrics to have a home. I've been thinking (when not totally freaked) of what will help with my convalescence; I want the bedroom to be serene, which it certainly is not right now, and I really want to get the guest room/sewing room into a more organised state as well. While the shelving will not solve that, getting the fabric more condensed will make it possible to figure out what all else is in there...

new storage shelves, futon couch, and
piles of random craft supplies + fabric

Monday, December 26, 2011


...not the buttercream sort, but a most unusual sort, that I've never seen before... While woods-walking last week, here and there were these most unusual looking sticks down amidst the leaf litter.

My thought was that it was some sort of fungal growth, since the long fuzzy bits were well over an inch long, and the fuzzy-fur stuff was all along the raw wood. But when we touched a bit of it, it disappeared!

Was hoarfrost, and somehow the weather conditions were such that the moisture being squeezed out of the pores in the wood was able to form these long shaggy patches. The world is full of remarkable things, if only we pay attention...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry merry random bits

in which our plucky heroine ponders continuity...

Another wonderful gift, from my Sekrit Santa pal (actually opening this one early, but I am so grateful for the "looking-forward-ness" of it - HRM Dagmaer gifted me with a certificate for a new baby apple tree! The words she sent brought tears to my eyes. There will be, as the luck holds, many more years ahead, for the tree to grow and bear apples and for me to care for it and enjoy the harvest. Shall be hard to choose which variety to bring home to Acorn Cottage...

a bit of animated whimsey...


...and a couple of holiday tunes

Old Hippie Christmas - Bellamy Brothers

Jingle Bells - Jerry Garcia

I am finding Rima's "Wayfarers Nativity" so very appealing, something about the light on the snow, the folk all working together, just speaks to me. I have been reading her blog The Hermitage for several years, and there are so many many artists living in that little corner of the world, Terry Windling is a neighbor there too...

Wouldn't you like to read about fierce candy cane-eating outlaw girls."? *

dog is restless
will not sleep

*"A Crow Girls Christmas" - by Charles de Lint & MaryAnn Harris

Saturday, December 24, 2011

squee !! which our plucky heroine recieves an unexpected special gift

I have for many many years been a great fan of the woodcut artist Mary Azarian, her life and art are an inspiration to me. Scattered about Acorn Cottage are small bits cut and colored from one of her sale catalogs from long ago; the chore angels that hang above my kitchen window my kitchen are hers, and Snowflake Bentley is on my shelves of childrens books.

An surprise visit from B & R this evening found me in the living room with a large flat parcel wrapped in newsprint and tape, which when uncovered turned out to be this:

My happy noise* on seeing this came as quite the shock to my pals, as R had chosen the gift as something she thought would be a lovely addition to my home, not realised that I never expected to own one of the actual hand-colored woodcuts, or even that I was a particular fan of the artist... the print is quite large, at about 18 x 11, and I will be wanting to re-frame it in a solid frame, as I plan on hanging it in the kitchen. I am filled with humble gratitude at the knowledgeable generosity of my pals.

*"I knew it would be good, but I didn't know it would be that good..." (the words of my dear friend R, after being subjected to my loud squee of delight)

The Cornish Wassail

dog is resting now
saving strength

Friday, December 23, 2011

back to work

in which our plucky heroine heads back to the studio, hoping to make at least one persons 12th Night a happy one...

Not certain how much work will be able to fit into the time between now and the next bend in the path, but will be doing what I can. The studio has been sadly neglected for the last segment, and I am certain that by letting my hands back to work, that my heart will also find more peace. After all, the work of my hands is my legacy to the bright world, and the children that will live when I am long gone to dust. I so love to see the work of our ancestors, the glass colors still so bright, and the marks of those distant folks still visible in their makings; I like to think that the small things that come from my workroom may someday brighten the life of a future artisan.

The Boars Head Carol - Steeleye Span

Thursday, December 22, 2011

days later

in which our plucky heroine celebrates another trip around the sun, and comes home again...

Solstice Bells ~ Jethro Tull

Home again home again I am, this has been a wonderful birthday week indeed. Took some very much needed time away to spend with my dear Gryphon, and have returned with more equanimity than I have had in weeks. Was a chance to spend time with good friends old and new, as well as an opportunity to have fun making Sudden Loud Noises (and thank you darling for the excellent and thoughtful birthday gift!) As is suitable for birthdays, there were chances to eat some very tasty food, and a chance visit to the menagerie at FjordsEnd included the very first time ever I'd been at table and served food on FIRE! Whiskey-flamed homemade halloumi is both impressive and delicious.

Once back at Acorn Cottage, there's a necessary stack of tasks and projects for the next three weeks longer than my arm, and bearing up under that will actually ease the time, useful busyness being a good antidote to my unlikely recent response of being immobilised and gibbering uselessly. After a muchness of rejuvenation and rest, there is studio work to be jumped back into, and a vast pile of fabric to be sorted through, there are shelves to be put up on the guestroom walls, to hold said fabric, and, and, and...

The knowledge is getting through to me that really-o truly-o I am cared about, that as I have been saying for long time now, I am so blessed with the love of both family-of-origin and family-of-choice, and that for almost a year now have been even more blessed to have a sweetheart who sees me clearly and loves me nonetheless. As I walk forward into the uncertain future, this certainty is what sustains me...

I Will Stand Fast ~ Fred Small

Thursday, December 15, 2011

hand pies

in which our plucky heroine tries an experiment...

I have made Icelandic Chicken a number of times, the small pies are very useful as pickup food when busy with other tasks, and the combination of chicken and bacon and sage is well loved by most folks of the carnivorous persuasion. In OlyWa, the enclosing crust was often a bread dough, as the local bakery sold convinient balls of frozen dough. Away from there, I find it easier to simply make up renaissance pie crust (piecrust with an egg yoke mixed in; adds flexible durability in forming, without making it tough) Up till now, I always made the crust with butter, but since New Seasons sells small tubs of their own rendered lard, I wanted to try it out in this application, having read that it makes for the best sort of pie crust...
Oh my word, it certainly does! If making standard piecrust (rather than the renaissance variety) it would be even more flaky, but the texture is noticeably different lighter than a butter crust, and without the greasy feel of a shortening crust. It will be a bit difficult to resist any more "sampling" of these little wodgey bits; I had to try one just to find out how it worked, after all, it would never do to serve them to guests if they were less than wonderful!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


in which our plucky heroine quests for the opening door...

Surgery is scheduled for January. I teeter between calm equanimity and a sort of gibbering numbness. Moving steadily forward with an eye to the past is my logo, is in many ways my way of life. Is somehow appropriate in this situation as well... This is not a journey I would have chosen to take. I long to have my former life back, where I had the amount of uncertainty that I was comfortable with, rather than this open-ended and exponentially increasing need to become at ease with not-knowing.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

lookit what they can do with tiny waldos

~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

~ Alexander Graham Bell

dog is restless
will not sleep

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the ur-pattern

I may have gone completely off the deep end here... I found this pattern on Etsy, and could not resist buying it. Was a favorite of mine back in high school, but long lost in the myriad moves and households formed and dissolved since those days. Back in high school I made several of these, in various fabrics, mostly denim or corduroy, they were a wardrobe staple at the time, for me, and could be again...

In some ways this pattern is a kind of ur-pattern, that many of my jumpers over the years have wanted to be, or hearken back to...while I am no way now or ever or even back then a size 5, my pattern alteration/grading skill is hopefully equal to the task of upgrading the size to fit me. Will be a fun project, and will most likely become part of SWAP 2012. I am amused that my personal style has shown rather remarkable areas of consistency over forty years...

dog is on watch

Monday, December 12, 2011

sparkle on the hard world

in which our plucky heroine walks with care, 'twas hard winter this morning...

Yesterday we had our gift sale, experimenting with having a one day sale on a Sunday... the good news is that we seem to have got out from under the "snow curse", and the weather was quite cooperative. But for a number of reasons, there was fairly modest traffic, and sales were not as good as in previous years. We are hoping to get together during the year to work on both planning and on creating more goods to sell; it is fun to craft in company at times. Next year we hope to have two sales on different weekends, one here and one in Wilsonville, and we also plan on starting a ManyHands Marketplace blog...
. .

The other benefit of hosting the gift sale, is that preparatory to it requires really clearing out the living room of all the random boxes, and knitting bags of yarn, and stacks of inspiring magazines, and random detritus. So at the end, once everyone was packed up and the actual furnishings returned to their places, it looked ever-so-much better than before we turned it into a boutique. (though I do love how it looks all chock-a-block with gifty goodness) It is much more peaceful without all the partial projects hanging about, and am currently filled with a great desire to do the same thing to my bedroom!

It would be lovely to convalesce in a space that did not look like a mad textile rubbish tip; this probably means that MORE SHELVING is necessary. The most cost effective way to proceed will probably involve a trip to Mr Plywood, and the magic saw. "Brackets and boards, brackets and boards, I'm gonna get me some brackets and boards..."

As part of the decorating for the sale, added a new string of LED fairy lights to the front window, and then realised that the partially non-functioning original strand actually had spare tiny LED bulbs, so now the front porch windows are twice as sparkly. I also rearranged the mushrooms and the Dala horses that normally live up there, and moved the remaining frost sprites over there as well. Looks most merry midwinter-ish now, and the wintertime Dala horse ornament is now hanging from the oakleaf door knocker.


Tomorrow I meet with the new doctor, and hope to have some of the myriad questions answered, at least the ones that can be answered... This is being a definite lesson in maintaining calm in the face of uncertainty, and so far, is not an easy lesson at all; will be a continuing opportunity to practice equanimity (practice makes progress, sigh and alas)

dog is on watch

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Manyhands Marketplace 2011

Pincushions and needlebooks and owls and brooches oh my! Not to mention lovely glass and felted whimseys, and cards and bags and more things than I can describe...

Our annual gift sale is Sunday December 11th, do come and check out all the wonderful local handicrafted goodness, of which this is only a small sample...

Friday, December 9, 2011

a few Friday fragments

Completed a few new ornaments for the sale that is happening here this Sunday (day after tomorrow). I thought that these owls were a nice balance between retro and current. They are really quite large, maybe four inches across, and made from a combination of new felt and recycled felted wool. The ear tufts make me smile, and their vintage button eyes have been in the button box since I was a child, waiting for the perfect use.

I so enjoy doing these kinds of simple handwork projects; more than most anything else they are soothing and relaxing, taking just enough mental concentration to keep the mind from dwelling in less felicitous places. Moderately complicated knitting does the same thing, and I need to remember that I can knit again without pain, after not being able to for so long.

Maybe after the winter holidays I will gather up all the worsted weight yarn and start on a sweater. While an all one color cardigan would be more my style, it will be an interesting challenge to create something from all the myriad random single skeins. I'm thinking Philosophers Wool / Kaffe Fassett style patterning, as a very simple cardigan. Maybe see about running some of the patterning from side to side, which would give me more vertical lines rather than horizontal... Hmmm is pleasant to think about, which beats the alternative.

My remaining two hens are doing okay, and there has been no sign of the return of the Monstrous Marsupial.

Have not started any sewing clothing for me yet, am still gathering Useful Fabrics together. This afternoon when talking to my mother, she mentioned clearing away extra sheets from her linen closet... "I can give them a good home", says I, immediately envisioning being able to create fitting muslins for some of the altered patterns I am hoping to use for SWAP this year.

I know this is really an advert, but it is terribly cute nonetheless
and should you want more info, here is the "making-of" video

dog is on watch

Thursday, December 8, 2011

R.I.P. Sparkley...

In which our plucky heroine says enough already!...

I got home after dusk, and while putting groceries away, and starting to cook dinner, I heard a terrible bad racket in the yard, hen noises, which is never good... I'd not yet shut the hens in their house, and will be feeling horrible about that, for when I went out in the yard, there were two very freaked out hens... and in the chicken house was one very dead hen, and one very live possum! I was SO ANGRY! I tried banging on the side of the henhouse, and that made the possum angry, it opened its mouth full of big nasty teeth and hissed at me.

I called my friend Rois, and she asked her husband what to do - his suggestion, turn the hose on it. Well, I do not have a hose, so I took a bucket full of water and threw it at the possum, which made it mad, and wet, and made the chicken house all wet and gross on the inside. It still wouldn't leave, so I got a LONG metal tent pole, and poked at it till it ran out of the henhouse. Then I chased it around the yard like a madwoman. (now mind you, if I lived out in the countryside, instead of in the middle of Portland, there would have been an entirely different and much more final way of dealing with the situation)

So now I have two freaked out but sleepy hens in a cage in the backyard, and a chicken house that is full of soggy slightly dirty somewhat bloody bedding, with internal walls that look like the scene of a horror movie: "Marsupial Madhouse"... I was not going to try and deal with that in the middle of a cold December night, and fortunately my pals just got home from their trip and will help me tomorrow.

I know better than to say "how much worse can it get" but instead will say "I've had enough of this already, time for something good, something pleasant, something nifty for a change...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday musings - n - music

Another sunny morning, with crunchy steps down the side yard path to open the henhouse door, every bit of ground is covered with frost, henwater is frozen...

An unexpected day off from work, but with errands to run and phone calls to make, not to mention cats to sit, it looks like yet another day when I might actually be able to do a spot of leaf-raking got put off again; the poor front yard looks like it is covered with a burgundy and yellow carpet, and while am not terribly fond of lawn, the hens would enjoy the leaves...

A new online friend has reminded me of the usefulness of the wishlist, that sometimes all it takes for wishes to come true is to ask....

Step One
  • Write a post (public, friends locked, filtered...whatever you're comfortable with). The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple ("I'd love a custom icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.
  • If you wish for real life things (not fics or icons), make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.
  • Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ so that the holiday joy will spread.
Step Two
  • Surf around your friendslist (or friends friends, or just random journals, or [info]holiday_wishes/[info]wish_list) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:
  • If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--or even know where you could get someone's dream purebred Basset Hound for free--do it.
You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.
There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.

Gave this one a bit of thought, seems like most of what I wish for, that can be given, involves more the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual stuff.
  1. company while sorting/organising supplies - the sewing room, and the workroom both need attention, and I make much better progress with someone else there to keep me company, is a lot more fun to sort fabric etc with the option for tea and chat...
  2. garden beds built/load of garden soil & compost acquired - a truck with an open bed, or money for a dumptruck load, and a number of strong shovel wielding folks. I have a plan, just need helpers.
  3. debris hauled away - this involves someone with a truck, and help going all round the outdoors of the homeplace, to remove everything that needs to not live here
  4. massage - for many years I had an ongoing every other week massage trade, housecleaning for bodywork; I miss that. Even a modest amount of attention paid to sorting out the knots and such that have accumulated in the last six years would help me a lot
  5. bicycle maintenance and tuneup - I have no experience with how to care for my bike, having only fairly recently started riding again. Would love to learn more, and know that the useful tool of bicycle will be adjusted and cared for properly
  6. standard concrete block - in sets of four or six... why, 'cos I have a number of plastic barrels destined for rainwater collection, and they work a lot better if they are elevated. Concrete is damn heavy to cart home on the bus.
  7. wooden kitchen cart - to add additional counter space here, will make having more than one cook in the kitchen a lot easier. FORHOJA has drawers for storage
  8. install the hard flooring - this is a big project only because it involves removing the entire contents of each of the two bedrooms before the flooring can go down. Probably a weekend for each room, one day to move stuff out, one day to put flooring down and move stuff back in (just a guess, the rooms are pretty small, but there is a lot of stuff. Or...
  9. wooden shelves on the walls in bedroom and sewing room - more shelving will allow better storage of fabrics and other supplies, as well as guest bedding
  10. cross country train trip in a sleeper car - I want to visit my friends and family in New England, I love train travel, and it would be an adventure instead of an ordeal.

Is interesting... last time I bought hen food, was feeling a bit thin in the pocketbook, so rather than buy the spendy organic or local food, I got the standard non-organic layer rations which cost a lot less. Well, the hens eat them a lot less too, somewhat desultorily pecking at their rations before heading off to hang out under the arborvitae out of the wind.

It seems perhaps foolish to buy the cheaper food if the hens will not eat it, I have no intention of feeding the wild birds, or worse... It might be also that a lesser quality of nutrition may be why they are taking so long to get their feathers back in from moulting. The question is, should I keep working through this mostly full bag of chicken chow, or go ahead and get a new bag of better food? If I do get new food, then what to do with the rest of the bag that they don't like?

Med-foo progresses fairly smoothly, the referral approval has happened already! and today a call from the NewDoc office to set up an appointment next week. This is all moving very fast. Not sure how I feel about that. 'Tis kinda scary, even if necessary. CrankyKnee is pretty cranky, since I tripped yesterday over my own feet and the edge of the carpet, and caught myself from falling by landing hard on that leg. Almost fainted, I think, everything got a little grey for a moment, and it hurt like the dickens!


Am thinking about a calendar for 2012 that is photographs rather than sketches, would cost more to print, but might be a fun change?? opinions anyone?

dog is on watch

Friday, December 2, 2011

a few fragments

In which our plucky heroine reconnects with the benefits of good cast iron, among other things...
Bit by bit, mostly while riding the bus, I've been working on my contribution to the artisans ornament swap. It's a bit informal, but several pals and I decided it would be fun to do this year - in fact, several of the same folks that will be part of the ManyHands Marketplace which will be happening here in two weeks. The handicraft is strong here; my little hands have been busy: skyblue wool felt, and DMC wool floss, and blue sequins, and eventually some multicolor blue-ish handspun, will be turned into ornamental horses, not for sale, but for gifting, for the fun of trading with other artists, to get other pretties to brighten the wintertime... Oh there will be things to buy, things for sale at our annual holiday market, but for these, I need not concern myself with how many hours it takes to make each one, just how much fun it is to embroider and embellish.

Saturday breakfast for four was a comestible success, I made aebleskiver! (described by one of my houseguests as "Norse frybread") I was inspired by this recipe posted by Bridget, and was very grateful that (rather than my last attempt at breakfast baking; ex-waffle-iron makes a better target than it ever did waffles) I actually have on my cookware shelves a lovely vintage cast iron aebleskiver pan, which my parents bought decades ago in Solvang, and which occasionally made the delectable spherical cakes when I was still a child. My mom sent it to me a while back, but I'd never used it for the intended purpose until now...

Once I figured out the right amount of butter to add to each indentation, the tasty toasty balls were no trouble to turn, and soon were on the table, along with an assortment of homemade jam. Was very tasty, especially with the meyer lemon and blood orange marmalade that was the January project that my sister and I made. Yay for a well stocked pantry, tasty food, and good friends!

Whist out and about this week, I suddenly remembered "paperwhites"! I stopped in at ink and peat, the shop of lovely artifacts and flowers, and sure enough, there were still a few bulbs left... If set up properly, they will bring a bit of flowery sweetness in midwinter, after only a relatively few weeks of waiting. I don't always remember every year, but the individual bulbs are not terribly spendy, being around a dollar and a half each, which is a pretty frugal bit of fun.

I first experimented in 2009 with adding alcohol to their water*, and now would not force paperwhites in plain water ever again, instead of long floppy foliage that tries to tip over, the small amount of alcohol seems to have a kind of homeopathic effect, the paperwhites no longer lean drunkenly tipsy, but stand solidly upright...

*1 part alcohol to 7 parts water, I have a small bottle of ordinary inexpensive local vodka used for various kinds of "science experiments" round the house...

dog is on watch