Thursday, November 30, 2006

Colors in the Snow

This is what greated me as I edged out the door for an early morning Walk with me Wednesday. The snow started falling Tuesday and continued off and on through the night. We were in a white world with splashes of color.

Walking to the Post Office.

This brave, small shrub stopped me as I walked by, and called for a picture to be taken.

Stand beside me on the bridge and gaze at the monochromatic scene of water, rocks and snow.

Further along four geese honked at me as I approached their yard. They didn't hiss but two flapped their wings, lowered their heads and ran towards me. Respectfully I backed away from the fence then stood a bit and talked with them. Unfortunately the camera batteries gave out so I have no picture to share of their soft brown and white feathers and regal heads. Humming softly seemed to soothe them.

It was good to get back into our warm home.

Red Sweater UpDate

I'm working on a sleeve and the body. I bought double-end Addis for the sleeve, while I'm still using the circs Ed made on the body. Working on the two areas helps break the monotony. The only downfall is manuvering 4 yarns. The Sonoma Red came in to different colorway hanks, meant to blend together by alternating yarns each row. It is making a beautiful garment. The woman at the shop raved about the bamboo Addis and they are nice but I'm partial; I like the sharper points Ed puts on his needles. (I took a picture comparing the different needles but it turned out fuzzy.)

The kids stopped by for awhile this afternoon. Faith is 6 weeks old tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I will write of fiber things tomorrow, and at post least one picture of my Red Sweater which is slowly coming along. Today is a special day for good memories...

Huge flakes of snow are quickly drifting from the sky. Not exactly the makings for a trip to the Portland airport this evening to pick up our son and family. To make matters worse, most people in this part of Oregon don't know how to drive on snow. I learned during my teen years living in N. Arizona where winter snow was normal. It was a dry snow with little danger of ice. Besides, some thirty some years have passed since those days.

My dad would have been delighted. Snow did not faze him. Bring it on. He grew up in Minnesota and loved to drive in the stuff. I remember a snowy Christmas here in the valley when I was about 7. He piled us kids onto the sled he'd hooked to the back of his VW bug and drove all around our small farm while we shouted with laughter.

Dad was a hard worker who loved people and exuded a quiet, confident personality. Animals and children were drawn to him. It's been said by many that he didn't know a stranger. He was born the fourth boy of six children on a farm in 1912. His baby sister was born on his birthday four years later, the same date as their parent's anniversary! They had a traditional, self-sustaining family farm where they raised various animals and crops, everything interconnected and interdependent. Since it was a family of boys with a tag-a-long baby sister, the boys were expected to help with house chores and meals. Can you visualize your dad scooting back his chair at the end of a large dinner and declaring that the women fixed the dinner, the men would clean up. He'd tie on a large white apron and cheerfully get to work. I grew up thinking that it was normal for the men to do the dishes whenever there were guests.

Farm responsibilities forced him to drop out of school in tenth grade, to his great regret, though he never stopped reading and learning.

He married the woman he loved at age 38, she was 34. (Mom and Dad in their early sixties. My mom's pants? Hey, it was the mid-70's!)

For both it was their first love, and only love. We four children were blessed to have older parents in that small things just didn't bother them. Dad worked with farm animals, mostly dairy cows, often as a veterinary assistant. He was able to communicate well through his gentle personality. With his ability to quiet an anxious, struggling cow -- a child seldom could ruffle his feathers, though naturally, we found ways to push his button. Dad was calm and affirming in his steadfast love. His love for us ran almost as strong as his love for his wife, and his abiding love in God. He rarely talked about his belief and faith but we knew his relationship with his Creator was his firm foundation in life.

He loved to sing. As a young man he'd sung on the radio and continued to sing in church choirs whenever his work schedule allowed him. Singing was about as natural as talking. As the youngest I often went on his routes to check on milk cows, his rich baritone melting the miles away making me feel very special.

Maybe because his own mother was a lady who had a spine of steel, he treated women with a great deal of respect, and he figured we could handle anything a man could. He was way ahead of his time! He taught me to work on cars, put new roofs on buildings (Dad & I reroofed two buildings one summer), chop wood, make fires, shoot guns. He was a bit disappointed that I didn't become a doctor. (Life does take unexpected side jogs)

By the time my kids came along, Dad's health was poor. He'd sit for hours holding one or both of them on his lap. J in particular would snuggle into grandpa's shoulder, stick a couple fingers in his mouth and sit contently for a long time. A deep sadness fills me when I think that my kids never had the chance to really know this warm, loving man. He would have been 94 today, November 28th. I will always miss him.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Memory Walk

Another Walk With me Wednesday, just like last week - wind tangled rains trying hard to cast all things in grey. Looking out the window, I groaned. The outdoors did not beckon. Coffee did. Still with a car journey ahead a walk was in order.

Striding down the road the I sniffed the sweet, tangy scent of cottonwood. I love this smell. It almost always swirls me to the distant rose colored canyon of my youth where cottonwoods held sway outside the trading post down canyon from my home.

Rounding the corner the gleaming lamp posts seemed out of place. Marion berry vines strung along posts use to dominate the field. (Click for bigger pictures) Years past I'd get up early and gallop my horse several times around this field exercising him before heading off to work at the school.

Walk with me the half mile along the road to the school at the end. For years the kids and I daily walked this stretch of road in wind, rain, snow, and sun. One lucky, snowy year I strapped on my cross-country skis and skied to work. (Don't laugh - a person has to take advantage of those rare inches of snow.) In those days (Do I sound old!) the school bus did not pick up any town kids who lived within a mile of school so we almost always walked. A good slicker and walking briskly kept us kept us mostly dry.

Changes have come in the last three years. What's missing in this picture?

Sheep! Twenty-five sheep used to graze under these oak trees. A pleasant sight on any school day, especially in February when lambs were born. The sheep are gone, homes have been built along the edges of the old pasture.

See the bell tower? Kids in fourth grade still take turns ringing it every day at 9am. Quick, best take your seat if you don't want to be counted tardy. The bell tolls loud enough that it can be heard around the hollow that snuggles my town.

Turning back to home, walking along the empty sheep pasture, I hear a frog loudly croaking from the ditch. Stopping to see if I can spot him, I see instead a good leather basketball visiting the tree and rock. If kids still walked to school it would not stay here long.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Windy Walk

(I started this yesterday but the storm moved back in before it was finished.)

The storms backed off for a day, gathering strength over the Pacific to sweep through again. Heavy wind gust and more drenching rains. (An area about 30 miles away-as the bird flies-clocked a gust at 122!!) The air was still, almost warm at daybreak. Constant winds through the night had dried the grass – time to hustle out and rake up
the leaves. The Catalpa tree in the front yard had been full of green leaves until two mornings of below freezing killed them. They bravely clung through the first day but at the second freezing dawn the green rapidly turned a muddy brown and within hours almost every single leaf had dropped to the ground obliterating the grass. The sound of hundreds of leaves falling at the same time was the sound of rain.

Between storms lashing the Pacific Northwest the day was quiet enough to rake the leaves, then head for a quick walk as the wind picked up tempo.

Please Walk with me:

The willows, planted at the back of our place about 25 years old, bowing to the wind.

See what's snagged in the tree? It wasn't there before the torrential rainstorms of last week raised the creek to new heights.

Snuggly sheltered low to the ground.

This morning I fell in love with a picture.

The Spinner

I printed out a copy and showed it to Ed. Around noon he came into the house carrying this newly made spindle. Hank approves of it too.

The Red Sweater, using Briar Rose Sonoma, as it looked yesterday morning. Alas! I've been bit by the Frog's ripit. So many of you have written recently about the valour of frogging when a piece isn't up to standards. How could I keep knitting a sweater knowing that the imperfections would eventually drive me crazy. Starting over tonight.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Faith's Joy

Isn't that the cutest smile you have even seen on a two week old? It's amazing to see a true expression of joy by such a young baby. She's doing well, and thriving. So far I'm restraining myself from running to the kids' for a visit and holding. Yesterday I just couldn't resist any longer. She's a happy, contented little girl who is surrounded by much love. Both of her parents have parental leave from work for about six weeks. They take turns bathing her, and feeding her, and all the other duties of a parent. It's neat to see them both so involved. Everytime I've gone for a visit, our son is the one holding her. :-)

Yesterday was "Walk with Me Wednesday", my first. Wouldn't you know it we've had a computer connection slower than a slug's run since Sunday. We've wondered if it has something to do with the Pineapple Express which blustered and drowned us fromThursday until late Tuesday. In that time period there were 5" of rain in the Salem area and 30" in the Cascade foothills. Since we live about 25 miles NE of Salem right at the base of the foothills, tucked in at the mouth of a basin descending from high up, how much rain do you reckon we may have gotten over the five days of hard, non-stop rains? Yesterday's walk lead me along the creek to this point near where the picture of J was taken (See the Oct 3rd post). No swimming now.

I was the fortunate winner of the Briar Rose Drawing at the Sweater KAL and yesterday a box arrived at the PO containing this wonderful yarn.colorways of Chris's Briar Rose Fibers I love the feel and deep rich Handpainted Sonoma Reds! I love that it's a worsted weight yarn. The pattern will be a simple neck down, raglan sleeve, knit on the circular #9/5.5mm Ed made for me. I may add a bit of seed stitch here and there to break the monotony. It's time to walk to the P.O. to mail some packages, and then home to my comfy chair, and a cup of Earl Grey Tea, to do some swatching.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fingerless gloves for fiddling

Bed is beckoning. To be tucked cozily in the blankets listening to the heavy wind and rain, hearing music in my head.

After a week of preparing and stressing about this day, I'm vibrating with fulfillment and happiness.

My violin worlds sometimes collide: classical and bluegrass. They're not easy companions to practice side by side and yet there are times I need to concentrate equally on each. This autumn the small ensemble I'm in is playing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, No. 4. This is stuff I loved playing from the very first read-through. It's a joy to practice and work through! After a week of working to nail the harder passages I so looked forward to putting it all together at yesterday's practice session. To my dismay, we didn't touch it! The director decided to spend the session working on our sight reading skill. So, she trotted out Beethoven's Scherzo. Yikes, that seriously tests my timing skills - or rather, the lack of them. (The playlist on the left is the music we did today, as well as for some previous gigs.)

Meanwhile, I had to seriously practice bluegrass, and knit a pair of fingerless gloves for tonight's gig. Black Silk from Debbie Bliss. Wonderful smooth, glossy stuff that's extremely hard to knit in the evening light, which is knitting time. I didn't like any one pattern so combined different things from several differnt patterns ending up with a left hand glove with a 9 stitch lace pattern. My very first lace! :-)We'd heard that the place we were playing in this evening would be cold and it's hard to play fast fiddle when fingers are freezing so I wanted a pair of fingerless gloves that stopped at the crease in the palm of my hand so there's no bunching when playing. (It's hard to see the lace but it's there.) This was a very satisfying project in a couple of ways: The lace turned out great - remembering the pattern and understanding why the yo and k2t were where they were was exhilarating; And basically working up my own fingerless glove pattern felt rather empowering.

Crooked Finger Band had a double-booking today. Take it on the road folks! The first was a two hour gig at the nearby retirement center. The folks were friendly and enthusiatic and the pay good. :-)My d-i-l is in the band so she was there with Faith, and her mom who used to work at the Towers and knows most of the residents. She showed Faith off to one and all. Immmediately afterwards we packed up and headed into the blustery hills for an evening gig, up Crooked Finger Rd. One of the locals has an annual get together of all the neighbors along Crooked Finger. We began with one of our standard fiddle tunes, a favourite with most audiences. Looking out at the people I recognized most of them and my heart sang with happiness. What a thrill and honor to play for people who've kind of heard of the band but had never heard us play together. When members of a band are in sync and hitting the notes together it is an amazing high, a tremendous reward for all the hours of practicing. So many times I'm close to quitting the violin - she's a demanding taskmaster who isn't often kind. But then a day comes along like today where most of the notes are easily found by the fingers and it all feels so right and good.