Good Times

My Idaho granddaughter, Feather, called this morning.  Just to chat.

We visited them in August. After dinner the first evening, Feather and young brother Gus took us around the block to show us the small park with a stream running through it.
Next to the park live a small herd of goats which the kids love to feed. They have permission to give the goat veggie clippings from the kitchen and willow trimmings.

Remember when you were nine and almost eleven and the world was full of good things to do and experience?The three days we were with them passed in a blur of being together, doing stuff together. Having fun. Eating. Hanging out. Talking.

I miss seeing the Idaho grands. Being able to watch them change with growth as the world around them expands.

A week ago we celebrated our son-in-law’s birthday at their new place along with two of their best couple friends. Their place might be smaller than the old farmhouse but it was warm with barbecue, kids, talk and laughter.

Granddaughter Violet on the right with her cousin.

Middle granddaughter, Adora and another young cousin.

After supper the three little girls played dress up while the two little cousin brothers thought it get fun to be, well, little brothers!

As the phone call with Feather was coming to a close I asked her what she was grateful for.
Feather: (long pause) I don’t know.
Me: Are you grateful there’s no school?
Feather: (giggle) Yes!
I asked her a few more leading questions, her “yes” becoming more enthusiastic as we played a new game. A new door opened in her thinking.

Grateful for:
– Grandchildren, and their friends.
– Family
– Good food
– Good friends
– The simple joy being grateful brings.


Volleyball Continuity

A couple weeks ago our soon to be 12 year old granddaughter had a volleyball game against our local elementary school. We jumped at the close proximity to go see her play as well as cheer on the home team.

Ed and I had fun cheering for both teams. He’s always had the mindset of cheering for whichever team has a good play, a philosophy we would all do well to emulate. It can be loads of fun attending a game with him and have a riot cheering everyone on — when he’s in the mood to watch a sport, although, on the whole he’s never been keen on sports. (that’s putting it mildly!)

During the years our kids attended this school I was the volleyball coach. The K-8 student body is relatively small so often the team consists of kids 5th – 8th grade. I loved coaching and teaching the basic foundations of the sport. Watching the kids play made me itch to sign up to coach again. Stepping back in time: the gym, the Jaguar that was made by the librarian’s husband and painted by some of the kids right before we moved here in the late 80’s, the same officiator – a wonderful teacher with a passion for the kids who also taught both of my kids when they were in 6th grade. Our back yard neighbor’s daughter was playing so I searched out her mom. There she was sitting up in the bleaches with her mom. I went up to say Hello and mention the collapse of years. Was it really that long ago that I was coaching her while her mom was cheering on for her in that same spot on the bleachers, and now here we are cheering on her daughter.
Blurry picture of Abigail on the visiting team.
dsc04247Meanwhile, my own daughter who also played on the school team is sitting there cheering on her step-daughter. (Not looking too thrilled here, the days are tiring when a game is tacked on to the end of an already long work day). Violet was contentedly entertained with her little toys.
At the end of the game, set & match the local coach gave all of the eighth graders flowers in celebration of the season and their last elementary volleyball game. One of the joys of a small school!

Just down the bleacher from my daughter was a grandmother animatedly interacting with a couple young children and loudly cheering on some of the kids from the visiting team. Something seemed familiar about her and I’d find myself glancing down the row to study her face. How did I know her? Looking at the kids on the court, aware of the rapid passage of time I wondered if she could be someone I’d gone to school with when I was in 6th, 7th grade attending the very school that Abigail now attended. Another small country school up in the hills about 20 miles away near where we lived for two years before moving to Northern Arizona.

She laughed loudly and suddenly I knew. She was the older sister of my best friend when I was 12, 13! I hadn’t seen her in about 40 years but hadn’t forgotten her laugh. After the game I approached her, “Lorraine? I’m Waffle.” At the mention of my old nickname her face lit up in astonishment then she grabbed me in a big hug. What a great reconnection, as well as a fun event that ended up providing so many rich, living memories.  As a child my family moved fairly often; I attended six different schools between 1st – 12th grades. Each time we’d start over in establishing our place and making new friends. To have stayed here while our kids went from K through high school seems a marvel. To put down roots that sink a bit deeper with each passing year is a blessing.

Our granddaughter, Abigail, was thrilled that we came. We’ll be sure to watch her play basketball when her school comes for a game. Have you ever watched 6th – 8th graders play basketball? It can be a wild, fun experience. I’m already looking forward to that time!

A Child Surprise Jacket

In November I put out pleas here and in Ravalry for a certain color and dye lot of a green Cascade 220 sport yarn that I’d run out of a ball short of finishing the Child Surprise Jacket I was knitting for my grandson. After searching a few weeks I ended up buying all new skeins of the new lots of green, now dyed in China instead of Peru where Cascade yarns had been sourced and dyed for years.

The disaster took a positive turn: once I’d removed the needles from the original and I was able to lay it out flat I realized that I should go down a needle size but cast on more stitches to allow for the growth spurt my grandson was going through during the intervening months. Instead of #6 / 4mm needles I used #5 / 3.75mm 40″ circulars with the knit count of 24(k). That is one of the wonderful things about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Surprise Jackets: you get to figure out the right numbers of stitches for the correct size.

In January we got the news that our son and family was to be transferred to the warm part of the Southwest. I devoted more evenings to knitting, racing against the time they’d leave cold snow country. Then Gus called asking us to fly to Boise to stay a few days with the kids while he and MJ looked for a house in the new city.

The night before we were to fly it was finished, except for the i-cord seaming of the sleeves to bring it all together. By bedtime there were still several inches  left to do and I knew that I didn’t want to wrestle with the technique while flying so I tucked it, yarn and needles into the suitcase that would be checked in, which also contained beads and beading tools – items Ed didn’t want to risk having confiscated if we took it as carry-on. I grabbed a ball of yarn from the bag that Ed had given me for Christmas, copied the first page of the pattern from the book he’d bought that has the sweater pattern he liked, found the right needles and put them in a project bag that fit into my purse.

Between several good people praying for my nerves and brain to be calm, taking the drowsy form of Demeral and knitting rows of K1, P1 for the beginning of the back, it was a good flight on a turbo-prop plane. When we saw it taxi up to the terminal Ed casually made a remark about its size to the older gentleman waiting next to us. He launched into glowing details about what great, sturdy planes these were; he’d rather fly through storms in them than a larger plane. What comfort hearing those words gave my trembling nerves! I know that God brought him to sit beside us just so I could have wonderful reassurance from a guy who had been a navy pilot towards the end of the Vietnam war.

That evening Wes tried on the sweater, trying not to mind the bristling needles and hanging ball of yarn. DSC_0012
Sunday afternoon Ed got out the beads for them to make make necklaces for mom.

DSC_0052By the time they’d finished making necklaces the sweater was dry.

Wes posing in his superhero stance. The black band slightly above his elbows was the original cast on edge. The first sweater that I’d almost finished had upper arms that seemed like they’d be too tight for this sturdy fellow so I cast on 10 additional stitches before marking the increase points. The additional on the arm part set the shoulder slightly behind the center shoulder line but doing so made for ample room in the upper sleeves. I wish I’d thought to do the two rows of blue around the perimeter of the sweater as I did at the last minute on the sleeve cuff. But the body was already cast off (and all the ends woven in) before I picked up the stitches along the cast on edge of the black sleeve band to lengthen the arms.
Monday Feathers had gymnastic class, an event that enthralled both Ed and I in that gym bustling with activity everywhere we looked. Groups of boys and girls ranging from kindergarten through high school in moving through stations of various apparatus and mats.
DSC_0089Feathers likes the balance beam best but she was sandwiched between two girls blocking her from our view.

More shots of the sweater and kids in action.
DSC_0146Here’s a back view of it.DSC_0150Wesley wanted to wear it all the time. Seeing his joy and enthusiasm for it makes me want to cast on another one.
Oh wait, first a sweater for Ed.

Food, Knitting and A trip to the Zoo

That nasty flu bug was far more stubborn than I’d realized. There are still days when I don’t feel very well. I certainly have not yet come up to speed, as much as I desperately wish to be.

Originally I’d planned to spend most of the weekend hanging out at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF) spinning and chatting with people but I’m so far behind that I’ll only be going over there for a few hours Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I’ll be delivering spindles to Carolina Homespun and Herndon Creek Farms tomorrow afternoon and maybe look around a bit but the festival doesn’t officially open until Saturday (except for workshops). Ed and Aurora want to go with me on Sunday so that should be fun.

There are still some gravenstein apples from our tree to make a last batch of applesauce. The tree produced the best and biggest crop this year. So tasty! I made numerous pies – mmm, gravensteins make delicious apple pie! (Pictured, one huge apple with a 1 cup measure.)

The last of the corn needs to be picked and preserved, and all the green tomatoes to be picked to let ripen indoors. It’s crazy but I never transferred the knowledge that tomatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated (they lose flavor) to picking them before the temperatures dip into the forties. Makes sense! The temps have been in the low forties several nights though we’ve had wonderfully sunny warm days, until today when it only reached about 70 after morning clouds burned off. The beets, squash and potatoes will stay in the garden for now.

Our poor garden. It was shaping up to be a bumper year but we were gone during the peak harvest time for the green beans. If I hadn’t gotten sick I still could have put up a decent amount of beans but by the time I had enough energy to deal with canning them (with the help of Aurora) lots of the beans were too big and woody so we only got 8 pints. We’ve had several more small pickings for supper and there are still a few young ones coming on. The corn also went beyond their peak so we’ve been letting them dry on the stalk, picking an occasional cob and using the kernels in soups. (Lots of homemade soup the past three weeks, plus juicing fruits and vegetables to consume every evening.) We are determined to never take a lengthy trip again during the end of August into the first few weeks of September, not after putting all that time and water into a garden.

A picture of the Pikku-Lilli making the piping at the back, knitting the two rows together around the back circle. This took four sets of 16″ circulars since the circle was smaller than 16″.

I love the cute back details.

Sadly I didn’t get a picture of it on the tiny recipient – a wee granddaughter of a neighbor who was born late August.

The day after it was off the needles and blocked I weighed it, 25 grams, and determined that the 31 grams of left over Cherry Tree Hill yarn would be enough to make one for Violet so I cast on with #3 / 3.25mm needles instead of the 2.5mm needles I’d used for the yellow one.

There were a number of days that the needles didn’t see much action but the bonnet is now only 8 rows short of working the piping for the back. At about the eighth set of the four row pattern repeat I started to get a sinking feeling. Weighing the ball of yarn and figuring the amount left to be knit I was optimistic so kept knitting. Last night after finishing the 11th repeat set I looked at the tiny ball of yarn. The sinking feeling settled into the depths of my gut. The remaining yarn hit the scale. Only 10 grams. Instead of making I-chord ties I could use matching ribbons. Even so it’s going to be very close. The bigger needles are using up more than I’d anticipated. This morning I knit a couple more rows in grim determination that there will be enough. Ha, not likely. Sadly it’s destined for the frog pond. argh So much wasted time. It wouldn’t be so bad if three weeks hadn’t elapsed.

Spinning has been fun and cumulative. Two more bobbins are filled and plying commenced today. We’re now watching Violet on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. After her mid-day bottle I’ve been putting her on a blanket under the tree and spinning alongside her. She loves watching the action and tries to grab the yarn. Sometimes she sits on my lap and watches the spinning from that vantage point. Maybe she’ll be the one who loves playing with string. She turned 6 months on Monday and is almost able to hold her sitting position alone but topples over after a few moments of a swaying balance.


We took Feathers and Gus to the zoo while in Idaho and had a great time there with them watching the tigers playing in their water pit.


Spending time in the butterfly hothouse having thousands of them flutter all around us, and hitch rides on us. Feathers said the little feet hurt her skin! She had a number of them attached to her at different times.


Lunch time while waiting our turn to go into the butterfly hothouse.



Before we’d left for Idaho Ed bought us some shirts at an Arts Festival.   

The words don’t show up but Feathers’ and my shirt have the words, “Never trust a sheep in wolves clothing.”  Gus’s reads, “Just hanging around”


Last, but not least, the sunset our first evening in Idaho.

Thanks to all who’ve left comments. I do love getting them!

Trip to Idaho

Woke up this morning finally feeling almost back to normal after a bad bout with a stomach virus. I can’t remember the last time I was so sick – decades ago. Too miserable to do anything but sleep and lie around. No energy to even read until last Saturday and then it was only very light reading. Mind candy.

At 2:30 I looked out the office window at the slanting sun. It slides southward at an alarming rate these days, getting closer to the south ridge every afternoon. Not wanting to waste an entire fine day working inside knowing these warm days are numbered, I grabbed my keys, spindle and pepper spray then headed out the door.

For several weeks in August I’d daily taken a fast mile walk/run before drinking the first cup of morning coffee. It felt great to slowly be getting back in shap; to be able to run more than a hundred steps before my body shouted to walk and to work at quickening my walking pace. I’d love to get back down to 13 minute miles, though I might be content with 14 minute miles if I’m spinning at the same time. 🙂

Our son and daughter-in-law have been preparing to bow hunt for elk and they were eager to be in the mountains on opening morning and through the weekend if they didn’t get an elk right away. Knowing that Feather would have started school by then I offered to come and stay with the kids since we hadn’t had the opportunity to spend significant time with them in months. Originally I’d over drive on Tuesday but son phoned wanting Ed to go fishing with him on Monday. Suddenly we were both going to be away from work for an entire week. The second to last week of August was a blur of getting ready, trying to get as much work finished as possible, a house-sitter lined up, things packed and celebrating Ed’s birthday the day before we left.

We had a great time with the grandkids, but found ourselves exhausted before the end of the week. Crazy how much non-stop energy little kids have. They both learned to ride bikes earlier this summer and that is their favorite activity. I lost count of how many times we rode bikes round and round the block, up and down side streets in their housing development.

MJ wanted to get in more target practice so we loaded up and headed to the Dead-On Archery place. I was able to rent a bow (!) and had a blast trying to bring back some rusty skills, only this time with a 25lb compound bow.  Gracious, archery used to be a semi-inexpensive pastime. Ed and I used to shoot at a park in East Portland that had a bow range. When we were alone we’d walk the grass lawn behind the targets shuffling our feet feeling for buried arrows which kept us in good arrow supply.  Another happy memory is riding my horse bareback, bow in hand trying to shoot various targets as we’d race along the canyon bottom where I lived as a teen.

On Tuesday JJ joined MJ for the final outdoor tune-ups on their fancy bows and to work at their accuracy at 40 yards from the target.

Everyone else had to use the indoor range.

Ed managed to capture the arrow in flight just as I released it!

I took my spinning wheel with some Picperfic rovings with high hopes for doing lots of spinning. May as well have left it at home. By the time the kids were read to and tucked in bed at 8 Ed and I were both so tired we soon followed. I did get some knitting done, mostly during the 8+ hour road trip, each way, when Ed took over the driving for long sections. Normally Ed doesn’t do much driving in my car since it can painfully stir up his sciatica but this trip he seemed to do fine. A couple days ago I had the energy to finish the Pikku-Lilli baby cap, pattern by Lene Alve, which I cast on for during the trip. It was so much fun I immediately cast on for a bigger one for Violet. In going through all the pictures from the trip this evening I was chagrined to find I haven’t taken any photos yet of the cap. Until then here’s a picture of the grandkids that I took shortly after we arrived at their house and we’d just given them each a slinky.

And now I’d like to direct your attention to a friend of mine, Ellie, whom I wrote about three years ago when she set out to tackle the Appalachian Trail. She’s taken on another huge challenge this coming Saturday, The Savageman Triathlon. The 2012 Savageman is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Joanna M Nicolay Melanoma Foundation. It seems as though we all hear of Breast Cancer awareness and fundraising but rarely the other deadly cancers that affect so many of our friends. (I have 3 friends who’ve battled it.) Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in the US with Melanoma the most deadly form!

Ellie is 60 and taking on one of the toughest triathlons out there! She’s been an inspiration to me when I get the doldrums and want to stop working at trying to be more physically fit. I’d love to have you take a look at her page, and if possible make a donation to such a worthy effort. 🙂

Best Laid Plans…

Remember the baby cocoon that I mentioned making with my handspun yarn a few weeks ago, followed the next week by making a hat for Gus and beginning another hat for Feathers with the remaining yarn? The day before Aurora went into labor I stayed up late finishing Feather’s hat so I could give it to her the next day.

She too loved her hat. I’m sure it’s the crochet butterfly that won her over. (Sorry for the blurry pictures – my camera has been dropped a few too many times; it’s getting increasingly harder to take a sharp image without a tripod.)

Sadly Gus hadn’t worn his hate to the hospital that morning so I wasn’t able to take a picture of them together wearing their matching hats. Here’s the picture from the previous week.

When making the hats I deliberately used more of the blue/grey sections of the handspun yarn for Gus’s hat and the red/orange sections predominately in Feather’s hat.  I had grand plans of a picture of these three grandchildren in their matching handspun wools. Alas, it was not to be. Unexpected circumstances had made MJ come to Oregon two weeks earlier than she’s originally planned and by the time Aurora had Violet our son had flown out here so he could drive back with MJ on Saturday. They only had a  brief time Saturday morning with Aurora and Violet before they headed for the long trip back home. Aurora hadn’t packed the cocoon for the hospital and I wasn’t about to make a big deal out of trying to make it work.


Try to picture the two children above wearing their hats, sitting together with Violet/

The Baby Cocoon, officially known as the Eskimo Kiss Hooded Cocoon, pg 94 of Welcoming Baby Home by Tricia Drake. I used a N/10mm Knook that Ed made for me for the Cocoon and a J/6mm Knook for both hats.

When Violet was five days old Aurora put her into the Cocoon. She loved it! She’d been a bit fussy but as soon as she was snuggled into the cocoon she relaxed and fell asleep.

That afternoon friends stopped by to see Violet and visit. Nine month old Baby Ava was very intrigued by this real doll.
I modified the pattern with an opening at the bottom and the drawstring for quick diaper changing. We also found it easier to slip the cocoon over Violet’s head.

In the early stages of Aurora’s labor I spent some time with my newest spindle, a cunning sweet Sycamore Aegean. The plan is the spun Newhuehandspun Bamhuey, Moon Beams colorway, fiber will be made into something to give to Aurora. I have no idea what it’s to be though I’m spinning quite fine.