Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Break

The loom is dressed and a sample is being woven.Right now I'm just playing around with hand manipulating the warp a bit along the lines of tapestry weaving. I dream of having a tapestry loom and returning to my roots in weaving. I need to dig through a box that's buried in the storage closet for proper tapestry bobbins that Ed made years ago. They'd be more efficient than using the stick shuttle for the dark yarn.

This isn't a true sample in that I'm not using the yarn to be used in the project, and there most likely won't be any wandering yarn.

This was Spring Break week in Oregon. Which mean kids who depend on eating at school were possibly going hungry. The Marion Polk Food Share set up a lunch program throughout the Marion and Polk counties. Daily coolers loaded with ice, partially bagged lunches, sandwiches and milk were delivered to schools. Volunteers bagged the meat and cheese sandwiches, and milk, as kids came in the doors.

Ed and I agreed to help out a couple months ago. We're home all week and live only .5 mile from the school. It made for a very pleasant daily walk. We averaged 65 kids a day. We didn't ask any questions, the main point was to make sure anyone who wanted food would get it. Every day there were a few lunches left which were delivered to kids who weren't able to get to the school and to some of the needy elderly people in town. There was always a meat and cheese sandwich, raw vegetables, a fruit which was different every single day. Kiwi fruit today!

The door was open from 11am to 1pm giving kids plenty of time to pick up lunches. Ed was the counting man, I helped stuff bags. There was lots of time between kids for spinning and talking with the other people who were helping.

We were all bummed that the school only allowed us access to the gym rather than the cafeteria. But you see, the school district doesn't care about the kids of Scotts Mills.

Until 12 years ago the school was owned and operated by the people of this community. We had a very strong, solid school board with people who knew how to make good use of tax and timber monies. There were 11 full time teachers for this K - 8th grade school with 185 students, including a special ed teacher, and an excelerated teacher/counselor. Three teacher's aids helped in the classrooms, lunch room and playgrounds. There was a full time librarian, full time cook with a part time assistant (Mrs D was a fantastic cook who believed with all her heart in cooking from scratch. She was written up a couple of times in The Oregonian for her wizardry in the kitchen.) And we had a part time PhD (agriculture and mathematics) from Chile who helped with ESL and math. Oscar was a compassionate gentleman who was retired but wanted to make a difference. Rounding out the staff was the Principal/Superintendent, Janitor, and Secretary. Staff loved working here, and the school had very adequete funding to meet the needs.

In the early 1990s state legislature decided that small schools would be better served if they were consolidated into bigger school districts operated from the closest town.What a joke. We had no choice, most small schools were merged kicking and screaming into the consolidations. There went our ability to manage our community school. The new district does not care about Scotts Mills Elementary and they seem intent on shutting it down by downsizing and cutting back. They cut the librarian, counselor, ESL teacher and made the special ed a part time position. Grades have been combined so there are now only six full time teachers. And one of the worst moves was to take away our principal/superintendent. Now we have a part time principal who also oversees another small school about 7 miles away. It's the pits. Newer families to the area are encouraged by the district to send their kids to other larger schools. The irony is that our community has grown with many more families but there are only 125 students attending SM school. It is very sad to see what was once a proud vital part of our community ripped out of our hands and treated like a despised stepchild.

I had planned to write about the hungry among us. But it seems there have been enough words pouring from my thoughts. Hungry people are all around, feeding takes care of an immediate need but it is not the solution. The problem is systemic of a deeper, graver problem.

As we walked home Wednesday (Ha, you'd thought I'd forgotten!) we spotted kids in the city park eating their bagged lunches under the oak and fir trees.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Recent Books

Are you ever suddenly struck by the realization that there's an unconscious pattern to your reading?

For a person who used to read voraciously there's been a noticable lack of books in my life until recently. I've missed their companionship. Since the new year began some time has been devoted to reading.

This book caught my eye shortly before Christmas. I bought it rationalizing I'd give it to someone. I end up with it.

Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag was written by Margaret's son, Karl Tobien, just a few years before her death in the late 1990's. It was a quick read, one I could hardly put down.

Persian Girls: A Memoir by Nashid Rachlin was a birthday gift from my daughter. I read it in February. It's a fascinating look into a young girl's life as she grew up in the 1950 - 60's in Iran; a strong willed girl who was expected to unquestioningly follow her parent's wishes.

This book on the New Book display shelf at the public library caught my eye.

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza

Immaculee spent 90 days hidden inside the small bathroom while the holocaust was rampaging just beyond the wall.

Two of the books are autobiographies, the other a biography by the woman's son. These are the stories of women who lived through tragedy and hardship. But what struck me is the fact that all three women were optimists who tended to view others in the best light possible, inspite of some horrendous conditions. Nashid's strong determination and focus of breaking free from the stifling domination lead her towards freedom.

Margaret and Immaculee were thrust into circumstances where the only thing they had control over was how they reacted to their individual situations. Margaret, an American citizen, spent almost 10 years in a Siberian Gulag on trumped up charges. She refused to give up the hope of someday returning to her mother, and ultimately to America. (Margaret's story is a fast read with almost a Pollyanna feel.)

All the people in Immaculee's immediate family, except her eldest brother who was attending school in a different country, were brutally murdered within a few miles of where she hid.
Throughout their ordeals these two women maintained a strong faith that God would protect them. Both developed a great capacity for love and forgiveness, understanding that evilness is not overcome by fighting back in anger but by seeking to bring out the best in people. The Quakers call it, "Seeing the Christ Light in every person." Don't get me wrong, I know there are some people who have are ruled by evil.

Strong women living their lives the best they know how, always looking forward with hope, and expectation, maintaining their faith in God, reaching out in love and never giving up.

Sorry about the lousy picture; red is hard to take at night but I wanted to get it while the needles were still in the stitches.
The body of the Red Sweater is finished!!! Remember the sweater that started back in November? The bottom was ripped back when it suddenly dawned on me, after determinedly knitting away for a couple hours, that it was too long, and sloppy. Four inches were ripped out and I dropped a size to #8 circs found in my stash. These blue aluminum circs have a story of their own, but that's for another day. The bottom is knit in seed stitch to tie in with the seed stitch at the neck. There's about 3 inches left on the right sleeves then down the length of the left sleeve and the sweater will be done. Perhaps in time for summer? :-)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Good Day

Do you see the elephant trumpeting the news?

Natalie of The Yarn Yard encouraged me to set up a blogspot for weekend spinners. What Have I Done? Check it out The Weekend Whirl Anyone who loves to spin can sign up and blog about their spinning on The Weekend Whirls blog. Even if you have no desire for a regular blog of your own this is will be a great place for you to be part of the blogging community. Just send me an email letting me know you'd like to be "invited" to be a Participant.
One ounce of Merino/tencel singles muffin taken off the Turkish Spindle last night.

It has been a good day. The air was chilly but the sun warm and bird song filled the air. Temptation called me to talk another long walk (Wednesday's Walk posted below) but priority number one was work on the first stage of bookwork in preparation for doom tax day. No more procrastination, blog surfing, or even fiddling allowed!

I worked diligently until midmorning break. Coming back into the office The apple Ladakh spindle with the ball of singles next to it caught my eye. Amazing how quickly half an hour will pass. (The poster? Ed's a huge fan of the triology.) Back to the computer for several more hours and that stage is finished. :-)

When I returned from the PO Ed was on the mower in the back, so I got out the push mower and took care of the front yard. Then I got down on my knees and weeded the sadly neglected weed flower bed.

Yesterday's Walk With Me Wednesday took me up the hill to see the Cascades. We'd some cold torrential rains on Tuesday and I knew the air would be clear for good mountain veiwing. I walked about 1.5 miles then along a favorite trail. Facing directly east.
Mt Hood with a cloud cap.

The tree at the top is along the road up the hill. It used to be a grand, trident tree with three huge trunks lifting high overhead. The windstorm in January snapped two of the small trunks leaving an elephant baring his tusks.

Time to finish plying the merino/tencel so I can set the twist and hang it to dry. I'm eager to find out how many yards are in this ounce.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

And the Winners Are>>>

The drawing ended at 6pm Pacific Time. Thanks everyone who entered!

I had ensemble practice that meets every other Friday at 4:30. Usually I'm home by six but we're scheduled to play a concert the end of April and with only three practice sessions left we worked a bit longer than normal. We warmed up with Vivaldi's Spring. An appropriate start with the temperature hovering at 70F, birds singing and the grass growing before our eyes. Next we breezed through the Baroque piece, Two Italian Dances before settling into a piece we need to brush up on: Grieg's Holberg Suite. Then we tackled Beethoven's Scherzo from the Pasteral (?) which we took up to tempo. Hang onto your hats! It's a fast, lively tune that you'd better keep your timing wits about you. Sadly that's the area wherein I struggle the most.

Hats? OH! You want to know about the drawings? Hint: I'll be sending packages to pratically all points of the compass! Fun!

I wrote each person's name on the inside of a tag labelled with the item they were hoping to win.
By folding the tag over the name was covered then tossed into the waiting hat.

Ed was the lucky fellow who reached into each hat.

The order of the drawing is reversed, starting with Hat #4. (Everyone likes suspense.)

Hat #3 Tunisian Hook with Extension, Size P:

Hat #2 contains names for the Circulars. Ed decided it'd be fun to put his hand into that hat twice:
Drum roll..... The hot item was the Spindle which had by far the most enteries.

Ed was so totally into the spirit of the drawing by this time that he decided one spindle just wasn't enough so there are now two more lucky winners to this contest. (Don't be fooled by his expression - that's the problem with the bushy beard, it hids his smile.
Prizes will be heading for Australia, Canada, East Coast USA and Scotland on Monday. And no, there was no peeking or jury rigging the hats! I really wish we could give something to everyone who entered, and to those faithful readers (You know who you are) that didn't enter to give others a chance. I'll be emailing the winners to let them know and to get their mailing address.

It was a fun drawing, even better was receiving so many emails from around the world.

Tomorrow I get to pretend I'm Irish and try to play a half convincing Irish fiddle, have succulent slow-roasted Corned beef with side servings of tender sweet cabbage, and potatoes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Last Chance for the Drawing

Thanks to everyone who has responded with comments and emails!

The Blogversary drawing takes place Friday evening, March 16th at 6pm Pacific Time. Anyone who reads my blog can enter. I will ship anywhere that regular mail can go in this world. Because these items all weigh under 13 ounces, they do not need to have the customs form filled out. For overseas they travel via Airletter Post and most packages I've sent arrive anywhere from 5 days to two weeks depending on if it's the UK or Australia.

The Prizes are listed in the Post below, take a look and send me an email with the item you'd like!

Several comments about the kickspinning prompted me to take a couple pictures:

The lower part of the shaft is placed between my feet, then the right foot brushes the shaft against the left foot, which sets it to spinning. It's not a hard, jerky motion. Rather a moderate, straight-back swinging of the leg. The back kick motion spins the spindle clockwise, you may also kick forward with your left foot for the clockwise spin, depending on if you're right or left footed. :-)

Another ounce of dark yarn has been spun. What I'd claimed was Rombouillet in the last post is in truth the Cormo my cousin recently gave me. The nighttime lighting in this house made me think it was the chocolate Rombouillet. (Yes, I feel a bit sheepish) It's spinning up very nicely. After a bit of a rough start getting used to the different fibers, and the heavy Ladakh spindle (3.1 ounce), spinning has smoothed out considerably this week. It's much more consistent and of finer guage. I'm looking forward to plying and measuring to see how many yards this ounce will yield. Last week's one ounce ball measured out to 28 yards - not enough for the project in mind. And another ounce of the merino/tencel blend was spun on the 1.4oz Australian Myrtle spindle this week, it will also be plyed and measured tomorrow. The last mer/ten ounce measured out to 288 yards.

The loom has been dusted in anticipation of warping but just when the week's schedule was humming smoothly with visions of weaving, I got that always untimely call from the magazine saying the articles and music are ready for proofing.

But look at what was waiting in the PO Box today!!! I'm so thrilled with these, my first proper stitch markers, and ruby red. The gifter knows I love red.A huge Thank You to the special ray of Sunshine!

And St Patrick's Day is this Saturday which means hours "woodshedding" with the fiddle. Does any other instrument player call serious practicing woodshedding? I suspect the term was coined when violinist were baned to the woodshed to practice by those whose ears couldn't take anymore listening to the same measures hammered out over and over. I don't go to the woodshed but Ed always shuts the office door in the evenings. He also likes it when I use the mute. But these last days of preparation call for unhindered strings.

Anyone in the Milwaukee/Portland OR area this Saturday evening looking for a great Irish Dinner and live music? Just drop me an email. :-)

I didn't get out for the Walk With Me Wednesday yesterday though the day was bright and mild. Instead I walked around the yard a bit admiring the buds forming on the fruit trees. Cherry.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Anniversary, and Andean Plying

While spinning this evening it occured to me that one year ago today I started this blog. Thanks to Celtic Jo my mind then took a joyful inventory of the delightful blogging friends that encourage me to continue. I'm very thankful for the interesting glimpses allowed into corners of your lives and so often find myself wishing we could sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and some warm scones or brownies and chat to our hearts' content.

In honor of this small milestone I'll be having a drawing in one week.
Send me an email with your name & email address, and the prize hat you'd like your name tossed in. You have until 6pm Pacific Time March 16th to get your name to me.
wjjenkins1 AT yahoo DOT com (replace capitalized words with proper symbols)

The prizes? All handmade by Ed who loves to give:

#1. 1-Turkish Spindle made from Osage Orange (a type of wood grown in the midwest of the United States) and a copy of my Turkish Spinning tutorial.

#2. 1 - Your choice of Circular maple knitting needles either size US#19/15.75mm or US#50/25mm in either 24"Length or 32"L

#3. 1 - Maple Tunisian Crochet Hook with 24" cord Extension Size P/12.75mm

#4. 1 - Walnut Hairpin Lace Loom

Please visit our website Jenkins Woodworking for information & pictures about our products.

Why did Celtic Jo trigger my memory? Remember the weaving ideas perculating in my head? I want a bit of dark yarn for part of the project. Some dark brown Rombouillet had been spun on the Ladakhi spindle Ed had made for me after Jo asked if he could duplicate one from a picture she'd taken while visiting the Ladakh region tucked up against the Himalayas, above Pakistan and Indian, near the Kashmire region. It is not a place for the faint of heart! You must read Dervla Murphy's book, "Where the Indus is Young" for a fascinating journey into the heart of this land and its people. In that corner of the world, the men are often found with large spindles in their hands making yarn. Dervla also writes of seeing Pakistani soldiers in the north knitting while on guard duty.

I spun up half an ounce of the Rambouillet on the Ladakhi spindle for my sample piece. There will also be this merino/tencel yarn I've been spindling. At the Vancouver, WA Yarn-In a couple weeks ago, Carol showed me how to ply by the method known as "Andean Plying".

The spun single is taken directly from the spindle, pinching the end with thumb and index finger, and wrapped in a figure eight around the palm, behind the little finger and around the middle finger before heading back around the little finger and across the base of the palm.

From there it journeys behind the thumb and makes another loop around the middle finger then back down around the thumb. As the single is wound around and around the hand merely flips back and forth in a rhythm. The worst potential problem is that circulation to the middle finger tends to be cut off after while.
When all the single is in place on the hand, move the wrist wrappings up the hand just far enough to be able to ease the middle finger loops off of the finger moving it to the back of the hand. The loop then simply rests on top of the "bracelet" that is slipped down to the wrist. Take the two ends and secure them to the spindle and ply directly from your wrist. It's amazing how quickly and easily this works. I had no problems at all with kinking or twistbacks.

In fact it was plying so quickly that I decided to try something else I'd read about; Suspending the yarn through a ceiling hook and kick-spinning the spindle. Whoa, the Ladakh spindle works super with kick-spinning!

Don't forget to send me an email to be placed in the drawing, and what you'd like to win!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wednesday Walk

There're so many people who I've been wanting to email, unfortunately the transmitter carrying our high speed internet isn't working. A new one is in transit. Meanwhile internet useage is limited to quick checks of emails and replying to those that need immediate attention. Please forgive my silence. Except for blogging which is the quickest way to communicate broadly. I do very much appreciate all of you who read this blog, and comment. :-) Comments warm the heart, leave a smile on the face, and give a bit of nourishment to the soul. It's been almost excruciating not being able to freely cruise through cyberspace reading all my friend's blogs. I'm feeling real withdrawals from so many of you... I started listing all the blogs I love reading but shoot, that's taking too long. Please check on my list of friends in the side bar and drop by their blogs for some wonderful reads and pictures. My life is enriched by all of you!

Yes! It's Walk With Me Wednesday. After three days of warm, almost 70 degree temps with lots of sunshine, the rain moved back in last night. By midafternoon the skies were clearing and everything sparkled in the sun. Please walk with me, starting in our back yard where the willows are showing their new finery. Soon sparrows will be taking up residence in their apartments.

This was one of those days where a feeling of hollowness settled at waking. The longing to stay in bed and read, or just vegetate in the old armchair that I loved to snuggle in as a child with a book, cat, and an apple. Molasses movements slowed work, while bookwork stirred up a duststorm in my brain. There's so much bookwork to be done. This past month has put me woefully behind. Tax bookwork keeps tapping my brain in the middle of the night asking when it's going to be tackled. How can I even think of weaving?

My mood took me up the road to the cemetery which is just above this field. Curious, the tractor tracks across the grass field. No clue why they're there, except that the pattern is one to file away for a possible weaving design. My loom is pleading, begging, on it's knees desperately wanting to be warped. Ideas are perking for some quick projects.

A walk was needed to sort through some thoughts and feelings. Breathe deeply the rain cleaned air, and get back on track. Heading back towards home the sight of these daffodiles gathered around the oak tree with its embrace of wisteria vines gladdened the day.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Walk with Me Wednesday

The following was written on Wednesday but wouldn't you know it, just as the last words were being written last night, the computer crashed. Of course, nothing had been saved.

Earlier yesterday I almost tread on these tiny harbingers of spring. Two brave violets weathering the blasts of snowy rain.
Heavy omnious clouds shuddered in the icey winds threatening to dump torrents at any moment. But a bit of weather wasn't going to dampen a celebration walk. The last of the sale items had been sent out on Tuesday (minus one which will go out tomorrow). There's still many other orders to catch up on but a walk was needed to clear the cobwebs.

Across the bridge into the next county, around a corner and up a hill, this dog ran parallel keeping a watchful eye lest I intrude into his pasture.

See how high the water is behind the retaining wall where in the summer kids wade?

Not long past the falls a slushy snow began falling but the walk was feeling very good so I continued up the road for a mile. By then snow/rain was coming down hard and continuing the next half mile suddenly didn't seem so prudent. I hadn't realized how much wind had been at my back until turning around. Pushing through the pelting wet, wet snow my sturdy winter jacket and hood did its job. Knitted hats are fine for places that have cold, dry snow but here the best protection is a hooded jacket, or umbrella. Buy hey, as a die-hard Oregonian I despise umbrellas which exposes a hand to the elements. And how many people battle the wind with umbrellas? Umbrella folks are usually those from other states.

No dog barking at me this time. Just sheets of snow drowning the wood, washing the road.

The sign mocks my mileage.
Back across the bridge, out of one county, and into town.

Wouldn't you know it? Arriving home the sky lightens in the west.

It was a good walk.
Photo by Edward.