A Long Weekend

What a weekend!
Friday morning Violet and I attempted to make divinity for the band members. Instead, it turned into concrete. It took several kettles of boiling water and clipping away at the hardened stuff before the mixing bowl was finally freed of the stuck mess. I haven’t a clue as to what went wrong and hope that the next try will be successful. Divinity was one of my Christmas candy standbys until our kids left home, then I gravitated to making holiday bread for gifting instead.

Then Jeanne and I drove over to Newberg for a called meeting of Representatives from each church in the organization of Friends that our church belongs to. Friday afternoon and evening and all of Saturday was spent in discussion with all the other representations, and listening to each other and the holy spirit as we worked through a situation in which one of the member churches no longer wishes to honor our Faith and Practices, (Friends’, aka Quakers, legal document) but still wants to remain an active part of the organization. No decisive resolution was made but excellent progress was made. When we adjourned about 4:30 the atmosphere was peaceful and we had the sense that things are moving in the right direction.

Jeanne and I sped home as quickly as the speed limits and dark country roads allowed, with little time to spare in grabbing a bite to eat and rushing up to the church to set up for the Annual Christmas Sing-Along which was scheduled to start at 7. People started arriving before 6:30, as the musicians were finishing up sound checks, making sure instruments were all tuned, and shuffling our chairs to make room near a music stand for a couple more instrumentalists who joined in the fun.

I was thrilled when a young cowboy came in with his fiddle and settled in where he could share my music. Feeling exhausted and run down I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to play but having another fiddler was energizing. He didn’t read music notation but played by ear and knew chords (much of my “music” is the lyrics with chords). Having another fiddler was wonderful. Usually there are four or five guitars, a couple banjos, and mandolins. One of the banjo players brings a container of 12 harmonicas – one for each key – and a mountain dulcimer. He does have fun making music!

I forgot to take my camera. 😦

Someone said it was the biggest turnout we’ve had. The building was packed upstairs and downstairs, where all the food was laid out on tables. People congregated in classrooms and corners visiting and catching up with friends and making new connections. Scott from the scout ranch brought his crew of “cowboys”, young people from 12 on up who help almost every weekend with the cub scouts and horse program. They have a vibrant program with about 70 head of horses at the ranch. The young man who brought his fiddle is this year’s intern at the ranch learning administration skills along with running a horse camp. I hope he’ll join us if we have any jam sessions.

People enthusiastically sang themselves hoarse as they chose from over 50 songs that we have printed up in our Christmas books. People write the song they’d like to sing on a big whiteboard and as the list is sung it’s erased with more songs continually added so that anyone who wants to request one has ample chance. I have no idea how many songs we went through in those 2 hours as we sang and played non-stop.

By the time we’d said our goodbyes, straightened up the church and cleaned up the kitchen I didn’t crawl into bed until after 10:30. Within an hour I woke up to a pounding heart, tingling arms, nausea and malaise. Dysautonomia strikes again. I got up and drank some water with electrolytes hoping that would calm things down. It was a very long night with lots of praying.

I was able to teach Sunday School, while sitting down. I’m so thankful that early in October I was approached by another woman who enjoys preaching from time to time asking if she could preach in December saying that God had given her a Christmas message on Joy. The third Sunday in Advent centers on joy so we agreed that would be the perfect Sunday for her. So, not only did I not have to preach yesterday, I got to hear a good message about the joy that God gives, a message that was balm to my soul. Even when things feel out of control God is at work behind the scenes.

Between drinking over 100 ounces of water yesterday and getting 10 hours of sleep last night, today has been much better. Drinking plenty of water is key to keeping my blood pressure at a decent level (low blood pressure is one of the problems with autonomic dysfunction aka dysautonomia). I try to drink at least 90 ounces every day but with the long representative meetings Friday and Saturday I wasn’t able to drink as much water and must have gotten a bit dehydrated.

One great thing about the long discussions was having ample knitting time! I finished the hat for my son as well as some spinning with a kuchulu. I think only about five people in the same pew knew that I was doing something with my hands. 🙂

The hat is currently drying. I’ll take a picture of it tomorrow.

I’m very grateful to those who comment on these posts. Thank you! They are encouraging and help me to continue to post, even if sporadically. There are a number of comments that I plan to catch up with and reply to, hopefully tomorrow. For now, I need to get to bed.
Last Thursday this flower was blooming in the garden. The freeze that we had between Thursday night and Saturday put an end to the late autumn blooms.

dsc04643Thankful that even when life seems askew, God’s got me.

Early December

I have the feeling this month will fly past too quickly. The first four days were already filled with activities. Lots of people came to the town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the city park Thursday evening. This year the band decided to use one group mic rather than dealing with several as we have in the past. We had more people compliment us than before telling us that they could hear everyone. The best part was having all the kids from the Bible club jam onto the small covered bridge “stage”, to lustily sing with us. During Jingle Bells they got to stomping their feet in rhythm on the wooden floor. So much enthusiasm and fun! Lots of parents recording the kids on their phones.

The mayor of the town (a professional chef) made a huge pot of delicious chili as well as pans of cornbread, plus there were homemade chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. Perfect food for a cold evening. First year in several that it didn’t rain, or even threaten to rain, nor was it as cold as some years have been. Santa and Mrs arrived in their shiny black wagon decorated in lights pulled by two huge draft horses decked out with big jingle bells. This year they sat next to the bridge to greet the children (and parents) while we played music and people sang.
dsc04620This is a small town with, as is typical of most places, a few people doing most of the work but there is plenty of wonderful enthusiasm and support for this annual event.
The picnic structure were the food was served.
dsc04622The covered bridge and the picnic structure face each other. The tree has been lit, Santa and wife have driven off on the horse-drawn wagon and most people have returned to their homes.
dsc04624Friday was our Violet Day. She’d had extremely busy days since the day before Thanksgiving and was quite tuckered. Often she loves to go shopping with Papa but not Friday, not even to the wood store up near Portland where she likes to help Papa pick out pretty woods.

Instead we measured Papa’s feet to make Christmas slippers for him and made his duct tape foot forms (lasts). Then she and Papa painted while I worked in the office packing up twenty spindles to send to a store in Pittsburg, PA: Dyed in the Wool. (DITW) I’m not sure if they plan to sell online for just through their brick and mortar store.
dsc04632Yesterday morning Ed drove up to the wood store while I worked some more on today’s sermon, finalized the Advent Candle passage for the responsive reading and selected  hymns. (The song leader prefers for me to choose them.) I also managed to practice a few of the tricky songs that have violin breaks.  We decorated the church in the afternoon then went back up there at six for a three-hour practice for next Saturday’s Christmas sing-along.
dsc04633The picture was taken before most of the instrumentalists arrived. After this I was too focused on playing to think about more pictures.

The piano has a brand new quilt cover sewn together by one of our women who has more energy and drive than most of us put together. The blue flannel is the inside, I need to get a picture of the outside of the quilt. See the advent candle and wreath with the pink flower next to the white Christ Child candle? While decorating the outside railing one of the twins discovered the camellia bush has some blooms so she picked on for the candle. In December! Tonight’s first freeze of this winter will be hard on them.

I hope you all had a good weekend and aren’t stressing about this oft too busy month!

Thirty day success

Whew! Thirty days of posting has been accomplished. A number of days it was hard making the time or finding the words to write. An outline of a subject plan at the beginning of November would have helped but that’s not the way my brain tends to work. Organization has never been a strength, I love organized environments but I’m sadly lacking in the knowing how to get organized. Both my mom and dad were orderly, organized people. How did I miss out?

When our kids were in elementary school I was the 1st grade classroom assistant for a couple of years. The teacher was a very organized person whom I enjoyed working with, not just for her pleasant, easy going personality, but because she was masterful in keeping a tidy, well-organized, user-friendly classroom. During that time I realized that inside I’m an organized person who can’t figure out how to get organized.

My office is a quite chaotic. I’ve tried to reorganize it only to end up spinning my wheels. (Not in the fiber sense.) I’d like to take the time in December to work my way all around it starting in one corner and get it organized so I’m more efficient. (Which will take organizing my time – another deficiency in my life.) Then I need to tackle the filing cabinet. My methods are too scattered. I need an organizational coach! As a 50th birthday gift a dear friend from Texas came for a visit and to help me to organize my cabinets and office. She arrived with printed labels ready and a master sheet to work from. We ended up running off to the coast to play. Considering that we hadn’t seen each other in about 10 years who could blame us!

December tends to be a very busy month, starting already with our band playing for the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the city park tomorrow evening. Saturday afternoon we’ll decorate the church for and have a long rehearsal/practice for the sing-along on the 10th. I’ve been terrible at practicing for it this year and must buckle down to some serious work on a few of the trickier songs that I don’t have music for, which we’ve transposed to more singable keys.

I’m still hoping to spin and knit hats for the grandkids in time for Christmas. It’ll be interesting to see how far I get. Lately all I’ve wanted to do is spin. My knitting mojo has disappeared.

Rather than posting every day I’d like to continue posting two or three times per week. We’ll see. The blog is a wonderful way of keeping track of what’s happening and I’d like to keep it up more consistently.

Meanwhile, this happened in November:
dsc04505 dsc04506Just as the odometer moved across the 100,000 mile mark and keeps rolling steadily along I can keep moving forward with my goals.

Posting daily has proven that I can do something when I set my mind to it, am disciplined and make the effort. I need to keep applying that determined focus to the areas in my life / house that need to be organized. Here’s to a productive December!

Thank you for reading along through these 30 days of November!

Spinning Alpaca

The fifth skein of the alpaca project has been spun, soaked and dried. This latest one is the colorway is called Midnight; it’s the second from from the right.dsc04589April ’15 I bought some alpaca/silk roving from Upstream Alpacas at a daylong, local spin-in where Christine had a table. As soon as the roving began slipping through my hands I feel in love and ordered another 4 ounces. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to spin enough to weave material for a skirt, perhaps a matching short jacket ensemble.  So far there are over 3200 yards. I’m not sure about the skein on the right. That roving was ordered online and turned out brighter than I’d anticipated. Yet, it might be interesting to have a pop of color in the cloth.

At times my plan is to use a black alpaca yarn (yet to be spun) for the weft, but that idea gets shoved aside in favor of a plaid scheme. It’ll be good to weave samples of various colors layouts and design. There’s still the 4 ounce braid of black  roving to be spun up. I might get another final braid before I call it enough, probably another Midnight so the dark will be dominant. These have all been spun using my Louet Victoria.

A different color sequence. This layout seems more pleasing to my eye. I’m open to thoughts and opinions.
dsc04591Ed and I had read about drinking a banana blended with hot water and cinnamon for a good night’s sleep. Not crazy about the weak taste of the hot banana water I’ve been adding hot milk to the blender, as well as some vanilla, ginger, turmeric and a bit of black pepper for an all around healthy bedtime drink. Rather tasty and it does seem to help. 
dsc04521Today I’m thankful for the blessing and comforts of home.

A New Journey

Today would have been my dad’s 104 birthday. Even after these more than 32 years since he went home to heaven those moments of a deep aching for him can still sweep over me. I wrote a tribute to him three years ago here.

In some ways he was far ahead of his time. While always courteous to woman; holding doors open, letting them go through first, etc. it wasn’t because he viewed women as weaker. His mom had been a feisty auburn with a backbone of steel who expected respect, manners, and for her boys to help out with the kitchen chores. Dad expected both of his two girls to follow our hearts even if called into non-traditional roles.

He would be pleased as punch and bursting his buttons at one of my present roles: the preacher in our small local Quaker (Friends) church.

If someone had told me a dozen years ago that I’d be a preacher I probably would have laughed. I didn’t have an inkling. Nor was it one I actively pursued.

Over a year ago I began teaching the adult Sunday School class, leading us week by week on an overview of each book in the Bible, in order. What an experience it proved to be! I found out that I loved digging, studying, praying and pulling together each lesson week by week.

Our church had been without a pastor for two years since a fire in the parsonage had rendered it inhabitable. Without the house to offer a pastor, and our small numbers, we couldn’t afford to hire pastor. As a meeting we weren’t worried; God brought in a retired husband and wife pastor team, and a woman who is a hospital chaplain. All three of them were willing to periodically preach, as did one of our previous pastors who still loved coming to preach when he was able. Between those four people and occasionally an outside guest preacher there was usually someone to preach, if not we’d have a Sunday of open, unprogrammed worship praising God and seeking to listen to the Holy Spirit. Most of all, our meeting desired God’s will for us.

A few times during this past Spring I was asked to preach, and found to my astonishment that I enjoyed it. During the long drive to Moscow in June Ed brought up the possibility that I might be called to be the preacher. And if so, we needed to free up time for me to study. He knew that I was already in the habit of waking up early in the morning to study for Sunday School and the weeks that I’d preached I’d often be up by 4am.

Ed suggested we transition from direct, online sales to wholesaling the spindles. The transition has been slow, mostly due to my not wanting to let our wonderful customers down. So many whom I’ve felt a kinship towards even though we’ve never met. I’m still working to find the best balance between being able to continue to sell direct and sell wholesale.

By mid-August I was asked to be the preacher. It’s been a wonderful time of personal growth and challenge figuring out what all this entails. I still have so much to learn! And at times the responsibility is sobering, and daunting. Almost always I feel inadequate and wonder at how it is that God has chosen to use me.

We desire to be living for God to the best that we are able. I seriously love digging into God’s word, praying and earnestly seeking the direction on where He’s leading me each week in preparing a message. It’s an honor to  equip people with knowledge of God’s Word, to an understanding of our need for Him that leads us to the place of yearning for God, to yielding to Him which bring about a relationship with the living Creator who loves each of us beyond what we can grasp on earth.

At the same time, I’m not one to shout my faith from the rooftop, to get into people’s faces. I’m not the type to stand on a street corner and preach. Oh, how that thought makes me shudder! Instead I want live my life treating people with respect, dignity, love and trying to come alongside, to understand where they’re coming from, as God wants me to. To let God’s great love draw them to Him.

I’ll not use this blog as a platform to preach, unless I’m strongly compelled by the Holy Spirit to do so. It’ll still be the place where I mainly focus on fiber stuff and the periodic meanderings of my simple life. Periodically stuff of my heart and thoughts are bound to come out here for writing is a good way of examining and making sense of thoughts.

Today I am thankful for a dad who lived his deep faith in actions more than words, a dad who encouraged me to follow my heart and who expressed complete confidence in me.
I’m thankful for the people of our meeting who have encouraged me to take on the responsibility of preaching and are giving me time, and space, to grow into the position.
I’m thankful for Ed’s valuable support.
I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this new journey.
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Walking Spinning

The turtle singles and plyed balls that I posted about on the 24th, now skeined and pictured below, came to approximately 393 yards.

Here they are before the warm soapy bath to set the twist.

dsc04593

Fresh from the bath, wrung out and laid next to previously skeined spindle-spun-while-walking yarn that have been accumulating over the course of several years, spun using two of Ed’s early standard Turkish spindles. (What we call Swans.) I don’t spin when it’s raining during our walks – a common occurrence in NW Oregon, and I’ve been quite sporadic about taking my spindle and wool with me.
All together now there are approximately 860 yards. There is still have another turtle waiting for a last spindle full to ply it with which might take the yardage close to 1000. Instead of the sweater I’d originally set out to make this yarn might be used for a vest.

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The three skeins hanging to dry.

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Thankful for the satisfaction of being able to spin yarn that will eventually be a piece of clothing.