Monday, February 28, 2011

crafternoon's a-comin'

It is, indeed, that time again... this Sunday will be my monthly Crafternoon, so all and sundry are welcome to drop in and enjoy talk and teatime from 1PM on. Handwork projects are encouraged but certainly not required. I'll have assorted tea and sweet and savory tea-snacks out, additional fingerfood potluck snack contributions are welcome. Directions to Acorn Cottage are available on request

As usual, in the later evening there will most probably be an excursion to Sushi Ichiban as well, for tasty Japanese treats
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

just to keep a bit of perspective...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

home again

I'm home, back from an adventurous three day trip, in which many new things were learned, the sound of snow falling on the river was heard, fuzzy giant puppy ears were rubbed, visiting friends was a delight, and my spirit was renewed.

All seems well here at home, and the hens look to be well and cozy in their house when I came back, thanks to the wonderful chicken-sitting help from R!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday musings + media

Have been still really exhausted from being sick, this dang virus is kicking my butt, every day wants to have afternoon naptime... Cough is easing off though, thankfully, which means that restful sleep is possible.

The weather forecast is still for a major influx of COLD northern air, with a strong possibility of snow of unknown amounts. Hence the current switch in my sewing: found two stashed lengths of true Polartec, which are in the process of becoming two pairs of leggings, and probably also a long-sleeved tunic. I plumb hate being cold, and barring some merino jersey showing up in my stashed fabric (it could happen) this will work quite well to keep my nethers warm! (the repaired rainjacket should work well to keep my upper half dry, and hence also warm, specially with the possum-merino sweater underneath)

Figured out what error I'd made in downloading music from the library - I'd neglected to "save" the file, and had merely opened it with iTunes, which had not been instructed to save files either... fortunately, there is I discovered an option with the Freegal program where if things go south with your download, you can re-do it the following week without it counting towards your three free downloads, so the lost two tunes are now safely ensconced in my computer, along with one new one. My intention is to cogitate on what next to add to my tiny library... Have also located the information about how to backup/save the music files, so I won't lose them if'n I end up needing to mindwipe the computer.

I snagged "Portland Woman" just because it makes me smile - "Life Gets Away" because a now-ist CW song just tickles me, and besides, I like the lyrics - and two Jorma Kaukonen songs: "Genesis" and "Song For The North Star". The last two are part of my history, coming-down songs, music like a softly rocking hug, that lets you know it is all right, and is going to be all right... Hoping to remember other songs that fill that category; I'd like to have a whole disc of that personal genre, (just like I'd like to have some other helpful categories like oh say, energising music to play while tidying the house)

This one, alas, is not in the library downloads, but I've loved it for long years; I've a few favorite songs that have this kind of ironic twist at the end, that just make me smile...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

make do and mend + Sunday snippets

Today's project, to repair and reconfigure my rain jacket... it is about ten years old, and was a pass-along rather than something bought specifically for me. I'm pretty sure that it is not a woman's jacket, as there are no hips, which has made it rather difficult to close the front zip.

Hard to believe that I've been wearing it that way for so long, but just a few days ago, it occurred to me... D'oh! I could fix this! A bit of Goretex, a bit of nylon lining fabric, and a couple of yards of seam seal tape...

Once the seam between the lining and the jacket face was open, it was possible to replace the failed seam-seals, as well as to add in triangular hip gores to reshape the jacket to cover my curvy parts. While the raincoat project will still eventually happen, my hope is that this repair will give me a few more years of service from this jacket as well.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Had a really fun visit with my friend C this weekend, we'd not been able to spend time together for years, so her visit here was a real treat! Lots of girl-talk-time, and the necessary trip to go eat sushi at Sushi Ichiban. Methinks the agedashi tofu might just have been the thing that has finally sent my sore throat away - hot broth with lots of ginger and green onions, piled high with tiny fried tofu cubes, yum!
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Sigh, my clumsy elbow knocked my big blue pitcher off the countertop, where it crashed and smashed on the concrete kitchen floor... in the hope of finding a replacement, C and I made a quick Ikea run, since it had originally been acquired there. Alas, not only was there nothing similar, but there were no big pitchers at all! Perhaps something suitable will turn up at Goodwill, or if not, there is always the chance that the spring pottery sale will surprise me with the perfect one (assuming there is anything left in the piggy-bank after paying taxes)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

The generosity of the blogworld is always so cheering. This week a japanese pattern book arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of Sigrid over at Analog Me. She had been running a contest for the most inspiring acronym, and I submitted YOMABOW :
"YOMABOW" (year of making a body of work) is my intent and hope for 2011. Last year I somehow managed to mostly ignore my artwork in favor of sewing and knitting, so this year I will be getting back into the workroom and returning to my metalworking and enameling artisanry. I've made a start on YOMABOW with this small talisman pendant. My goal is one small new piece each month.

a favorite acronym that I did not invent is "SMART" goals, which I ran across while reading The Greening of Gavin: SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Lastly, decided to go ahead and put my rug down on the living room floor. It has been rolled up under the bed for the last few years, and has been sorely missed. It originally was a wedding gift (in the 30's of last century) to my Nana, and I've very early memories of sitting on the floor at her house following the patterns along the bands of designs. Life is too short and uncertain to put things aside for "somedays when the time is right" - this way the rug will bring me joy every time I walk through the front door...

Friday, February 18, 2011

random Thursday thoughts...

Today, out walking to the post office and library, this vivid facade caught my eye...
and just a few blocks away, there is a carved stone hand, holding an open book ...
with the pages covered with relief carvings depicting aspects of the neighborhood...

(isn't it interesting that "relief" means at least two things, to ease, as in relief from pain, and a contoured texture as in creating a design in relief)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Last evening Khalja gave me a most useful small gift, a scissors condom! This small leather sheath will be a much classier way to protect my modern snips than the former iteration - stuffing the points into the middle of a discarded thread spool! Since there is a fair bit of handsewing happening currently here at Acorn Cottage, and more in the foreseeable future, this will see a lot of use.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Still with the gorram sore throat, very tiresome, plus the new delight "wake-up-coughing"... bah I say! Fortunately I don't get sick often, since I do it so very badly. Today oh-so-boringly, a three hour nap in the middle of the day (helping to make up for my in the middle of the late night online chat habit)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

The creativity keeps springing up in varied and unexpected ways, like random early springtime blossoms at the edges of the flower beds... not sure I remember planting this, but the beauty brings a smile to my day and warmth to my heart. Five new poems in the last month, and the seeds of new artwork are germinating, after the long drought this is very welcome. Doesn't mean that there will be no sewing or knitting happening here, but variety is good, in most all things.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

and here are some of the signs of springtime seen on my walks...




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

snow and sunshine

It was too quiet this morning, and looking out the window, fat snowflakes were falling. Fortunately it is too warm for snow to stick, as there is snow forecast on and off for the next few days. My hens are no fonder of snow than myself, so they were quite pleased when later in the day, the sunshine blanketed the backyard. Only getting a little more than one egg a day still, but every bit helps...
~  ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~  ~

Found out today that the library lets you download music for free, only three songs a week, but still, FREE!  I was able to find Quah by Jorma Kaukonen (which was a beloved coming-down album), downloaded "Genesis" (track 1) and look forward to finding other treats, (though it will take months to download even one album, and there are plenty of my old favorites that are far too obscure to be found there) I also snagged "Life Slips Away" by Clint Black, and "Portland Woman" by New Riders...

later edit : well that only sort of worked, I must not have done it correctly... though it appears to have downloaded the songs into iTunes, iTunes can't find them to play them. Humph! now will have to wait a week to try again... dang, was particularly looking forward to listening to the song from Quah, as it is most happy-calm-making...
~  ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~  ~

Still sick, gorram sore throat will not give up... got tested with the spiffy 6 minute strep test and I'm negative for strep-A, but golly I sure would like to feel like myself again. Not too bad in the mornings, but the later in the day it gets the worse my throat feels. grump grump grump

Monday, February 14, 2011

bestest ever + need help + zombie apocalypse

Well yesterday was by far the bestest ever Valentines Day I've ever had. Firstly I noticed how verymuch love there is in my life, though it does not look at all like the Disney version, but it is my life, and I'd seriously be horrified and appalled to have to live a disney life instead.

I got Valentines gifts too, a sparkley frog card, a drive-by fabric drop-off, sweet online words and pictures, and in the evening, this very Japanese bit of flower and foliage (now residing on my nightstand) My friends are awesome - I love you so much!!
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

I'm looking for uber-geeky help here in PDX, I may have some computer issues, and need help understanding and following the instructions S gave me to continue to diagnose and deal with... will trade my skills for yours... hoping I do not need to mindwipe my computer
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

I keep noticing all the zombie references in the last few years, keep seeing/hearing about the zombie apocalypse, books about the undead of various types... the "appeal" of all this has really baffled me. Two different comments on friends blogs yesterday and I'm now wondering if the term "Zombie Apocalypse" is actually a kind of code word for what we formerly called "when the shit hits the fan", back when we all had grab n go bags at the foot of our beds, and the fastest route on foot out of the city memorised. (Of course, back then it wasn't exactly clear what we would do once out of the city...)

But I'm really wondering if this term "Z-A" isn't a way to make taking steps towards independent living a little less frightening. Stocking a pantry, learning self defense (hand or weapons), growing neighborhood connections or whatever seems helpful; it isn't like we are really in the handbasket going to the hot place is it? The World As We Know It isn't really going to change that much, right? Maybe I'm just overimaginative, or maybe all of us sense a tectonic shift and are reacting each in our own way, and calling it out in different languages.

notice what is there

It is that day, the day of the year that in the past seemed to be a holiday for them, the other people... the start of hard springtime when not only did the happy trees spread their pollen making it hard for me to breathe, but the sight of others joy brought home to me how alone I was. Still somewhere in my heart lives that young young woman, riding on the bus to Boston, looking out the windows at the lovers on Cambridge Common. From this unimagined distant future, my nowself is holding her close and whispering to her "carry on, love is coming, love is coming to us all..."

*Somehow, over the years, my heart has softened (and my perception wider and maybe even a little wiser), the hard times and the sorrow and loss that life brings to us all, the cracks of heartbreak that "are how the light gets in" ** any love that we give one another is precious, whether fragments small or large, from a moments smile at a stranger on the street to a lifetime together... it all matters, it all helps, it all is real. Love is always there, if you pay attention...

Love isn't love till you give it away... my wish for today is openhearted and openhanded love to all my dear ones, my friends, and my family... may the day, and the year, and the lifetime bring you as much love as you can handle, and more...

* "Carry On", Crosby Stills Nash & Young, 1970
** "Anthem", Leonard Cohen, 1992?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

not fade away...

Once, long ago, there was a girl with a heart full of dreams... the music would carry her to places she might recognise, one day, far in the unknown future. Her heart is still my heart, though that youngself is lost in the mists of time...
≈ : ♥ : ≈

(Moody Blues, Visions of Paradise, 1968)

Friday, February 11, 2011

textile time

Has there been a dearth of fabric-related writing here lately? It is just a matter of time before my hands want to find their way back to the land of textiles...
Wait for it, and eventually, there will be more sewing - this news just in, in just over six weeks it will be "Me Made March - 2011". Yes, Zoe is back, inspiring stitchers worldwide to new heights. And how could I resist joining in once again, as last years challenges were so much fun. And with six weeks to prepare, as well as the clothing from last year, it should be doable and not onerous. Though I had been intending to do SWAP 2011, my enthusiasm just was not there somehow, but this (M3) will allow me to focus my sewing on filling in the gaps in my clothing choices for the year.

Looking in my closet, what is really missing is light summer dresses (yeah, I know, in March?!?) but they could be made now, and worn layered. The other thing I need is some new spiffy lingerie, (not that I'll be posting pictures of that online mind you!)

I, Alison, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March '11. I endeavor to wear all self-made clothing (except for shoes and socks) each day for the duration of March 2011. I will restock my lingerie drawer with new dainties to wear and update my closet with new summer dresses.
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Most of the time, photos of me look nothing like either the way I see myself in my mind's eye, or even what I see in the mirror; I'm really happy with these pictures, the congruence of both interesting lighting and a dear and clever friend with a good eye for imagery.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

tiny fragments

Another morning of fog, hard frost and frozen hen waterers. I know it was cold before emerging from the down puff cocoon, because the smoke alarm was chirping (when it gets really cold, it chirps just like it needs a new battery) Not a sound that encourages early rising, but the hens were waiting. And if this is the worst out winter gets this year, I won't complain at all. (Sorry all you snow lovers, I live here because I hate snowy weather and love grey rainy days)

Also woke up feeling like I'm fighting off a cold, a little sniffley and a little bit of a sore throat. (humph! that was not on my agenda for today at all!) Will do all the nice immune-support things like hot soup and ginger tea, in hopes of staving off anything worse.Maybe take a nap mid-day, since I've no away-from-home job today

Really had fun visiting Vandy's house on Tuesday project night, and was sorry that I left my camera at home. As it is a handbuilt home, there were many small intriguing details, as well as the large ones like the trapeze in the middle of the room. Her home is just next to her parents house, which is equally interesting, (the huge drill press!)(the hot glass shop!)(the walls of books!)(etc) I'd love to see it all in the daylight.

Lee Valley rocks! I lost the tiny part that holds the clock hands in place, just called them, and they will be sending me a new part gratis, so I don't have to buy a whole new clock movement for one tiny 1/8" end cap. They have world class customer service, as well as awesome products.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sunday randomness

The red velvet vegan beet cake is very red; the batter was an amazing color, somewhere between cerise and burgundy. The cake baked up quite red indeed...
with a texture remarkably cake-like, given that there is neither eggs or butter in the ingredient list
and was a surprisingly popular comestible at today's Crafternoon. The consensus was that it was not really chocolate-y, but that it also did not taste like beets, and would, in fact, be a good way to use up an excess of those magenta roots...
the cake contains 2c pureed steamed beets, and none of the pictures have had any processing other than cropping the edges, and really is that red, (closer to picture #3, not sure why the first two are somewhat more of an orange-red)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

Those who have been to Acorn Cottage know that there is a Goodwill on a nearby corner, which is rather handy for browsing. One of many things on the mental List of To-Find has been an iron with an uncoated metal sole plate. Last week my patient stalking was rewarded: a new-in-box vintage GE iron, old enough that the plug end was unpolarised! Not only does it have the desirable feature, but it weighs at least twice as much as my current iron. Why is this a good thing? A weighty iron can actually press fabric, without needing as much effort from the plucky seamstress herself. (It is all about letting the tool do the work)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

On the advice of Duchess Mari I ordered some linen from I must say, I am impressed. Ordered it on the 3rd, and by the middle of the day on the 5th, there was a box on my doorstep full of linen. Thinking it might now be necessary to revise my statement about fast and slow, as well as sewing machines and internet connection, postal delivery is better fast, though my preference in all else is still sweet and slow...

a winter smile

Long ago on a coast faraway, on a snowy evening, this song was on the turntable. funny how the wheel just keeps on turning round, and we never know where we will end up on the long and ever surprising pathway of our lives, who will keep us company, and what adventures are waiting round the bend...

somehow I ended up a Portland woman - was there ever a plan on my life having this shape? no, not really... is this a happy place to be? o yes...

Friday, February 4, 2011

on the unexpected

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
~ Joseph Campbell

Being a grownup means dealing with whatever comes, and moving forward from where, in actuality, you are standing at that moment. Not where you imagined you might be, or where wishes would have you, but the actual spot.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

valentines day

It's never really been my holiday. As a young adult, my parents sent me valentines from "a secret admirer", which were pretty much the only ones ever to grace my mailbox. Lest that sound too terribly sad, remember that my taste does not run to the conventionally romantic. The guy who gave me a box of candy didn't pay enough attention to realise that chocolate is not an Alison treat... On the other hand, the sweetie who gave me an electric drill as a gift noticed what would make my life better (and twenty-five years later I still use the drill, and remember him fondly).

That said, this little movie is so very whimsical, combining both stop-motion animation and a clever DIY idea... (plus cupcakes, which are almost as good as bacon for making everything a bit better).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday tidbits

The Scythian wolf applique panels are finished, and the final touch of adding a silver metallic bit of couched edging really helped. There are two panels, mirror imaged, mostly wool, with some metal studs in the corners, and the wolves cut from ultrasuede. I'm hoping that the recipient will be as happy with them as I am. Now it is time for another handwork project, hmmm, clothing for me?, something for the sekrit springtime kitchen swap?, another hat for the twelve donated hats project? Decisions decisions...
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~

two words: wind chill : The first bike ride of the year was such that my fingers turned a sickly yellow-white, that sunshine was a snare and a delusion... Fortunately the whole round trip was just a mile out and back; the paper recyling is now away where it belongs, and there are some giant beets on the countertop, waiting to be made into this (vegan) red-velvet-esque cake for Crafternoon this weekend.

Riding my bike for errands is fun, but the cold biting wind, not so much, really wishing that my gloves had been returned to the Tri-Met lost and found. Thinking about adding some fingers, and some flip-back covers for said fingers, to my fingerless mitts - would be faster than starting from scratch for a pair of woolly gloves. Gloves, even fingerless gloves, are even slower than socks for me to knit. Something about needing to use a really fine gauge yarn, and tiny needles. Not my favorite kind of knitting, but with my child sized paws, 'tis the only way to get something that will fit (other than those "magic gloves" one size fits everyone made-in-China ones from the big box stores, and they're not even wool)
~ ~ ~≈:::≈~ ~ ~