I have the suspicion December will pass in a blur. Already the calendar is a-wash with notes.

  • Music practices for the town’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony this Thursday evening and the Friends church’s annual Bluegrass Christmas Sing-a-long the evening of the 16th.
  • Decorating the church on Saturday morning.
  • Celebration of Daniel’s life in the evening.
  • School winter programs are scheduled.
  • Helping pack Christmas boxes for those in need here in the community.
  • Extra events weaving in and out of regular weekly meetings and tasks.
    We’ll mark them off one at a time.

I’m very thankful that the majority of evenings  we’ll be home.

December is off to a good start with the spindles. Ed’s made some Larks, today he worked on Finches.  I’ve spun 20 grams: 10 grams of maroon were spun as fine laceweight with a 14 grams spindle made from a neighbor’s magnolia branch.

The Mulberry Egret is being used to spin the grey fiber.
Yesterday I started spinning the grey fiber which my daughter, Aurora, gave me for my 60th birthday last December. She bought it at OFFF last year but doesn’t remember exactly who she bought it from, nor did she keep anything that indicates the dyer or what the fiber is. It’s soft and there seems to be some fibers that are quite short. My guess is either baby camel down or yak blended with a long staple wool. There are 98 grams. Right now I’m planning to do some accent color work with the maroon with the grey. I may add another  colored fiber to the mix.

As the days turned to December I’m still choosing to practice gratitude each day. The hard news, the sad news, the grief we’ve dealt with these past two+ weeks has brought home the fact that gratitude is not just an emotion. Sometimes it’s not a feeling.

To choose to be grateful means sometimes checking those feelings that press negatives thoughts onto the heart. To rise above emotions and simply say, “thank you”.

As I have meaningfully practiced gratitude the hard emotions take a back seat. I’ve been grateful that I’ve been able to be far more calm and rational than expected. In cultivating gratitude perspectives have shifted.

It’s hard to explain. Concerns are there but not the worry. One huge difference is when I’ve been awake during the night. (Sunday night it seemed I was awake far more than asleep.)  My mind doesn’t race, anxiety or dread doesn’t take hold, instead I rather enjoyed the time to lie still knowing my body is at rest, the blankets and quiet dark enveloping me. It’s a good time to pray and think about spiritual things.

Grateful for
–  A quiet neighborhood with only an occasional sound.
–  The comfort of the Lord.
–  An unexpected word Sunday morning that was the thread which tied my sermon together. Though close to completion it seemed there was something more. Upon opening my personal email at 6am the Advent word for the day  was “Awaken”: “Awake my soul, awake harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn…!” Psalm 56:8
– Hope, the first Sunday of Advent is Hope. Because I hope in the Lord my soul is awake. And grateful!


Showing Support

The bumpy landscape of the chocolate cake didn’t put off the Wednesday dinner crew. The report was that they devoured it in record time.

Shortly before 8am the phone rang: the police contact for one of the families who considered themselves as Daniel’s parent had called to let them know he’d be canvasing the neighborhood today, passing out flyers, and talking to people. Could Daniel’s friends come help and be visible representatives that his life mattered.

Wednesday is normally a slower day. A day for contemplating, thinking, praying and being more than doing. I like to take an extra long walk with my neighbor before settling into any “must-do” work tasks followed by reading and preparing for Sunday, and taking time to be quiet all evening while Ed is away.  When the call came I immediately knew I needed to go. I called one of Daniel’s good friends and we headed up to Portland.

Arriving in the unfamiliar area of North Portland, there was already a number of people including the very kind, knowledgeable policeman who gave us an update on what they’ve determined so far, including that evidence showed the driver was traveling over 60 miles an hour when he swerved out of his lane, into the bike path hitting Daniel then continuing at high speed along the 35mph, 2-lane road.

Taking flyers to all the businesses of this mixed neighborhood full of mom-pop businesses and residential houses we encountered caring and kind people everywhere. One woman even rushed out of her house to ask for flyers to pass out too. She’d recognized Daniel’s girlfriend, Daria, from an interview she’d given on the news yesterday.

We were all thankful for a sunny day with no wind! Yesterday it poured a cold rain most of the day. Tomorrow another storm is moving in. Today was one of those jewels of an autumn day.

Thanks for reading these non-cheerful posts that I’ve been writing lately.
Tomorrow I plan to post some of the spinning I’ve been doing.

I had enough of the handspun yarn left to knit a headband/earwarmers to go with the fingerless mitts. I’m tempted to keep the set for morning walks. If the temps aren’t below 45F I like ear warmers rather than a hat which can get too hot.
Grateful for:
– a smooth trip to N Portland and back without any traffic delays
– warmth of the sun while walking the streets for almost 3 hours
– the cup of comforting cinnamon/vanilla tea beside me
– strangers who are kind and caring
-a time of serene spinning this evening

Kitchen Adventures

A cake is baked every Tuesday for Ed to take to the Wednesday Community Dinner work crew’s mid-morning snack.

The past two Wednesdays I’d baked an apple cake and a pumpkin apple cake, it was time for a chocolate cake: The Picnic Cake aka Sour Cream Chocolate Cake.

Picnic cake was Ed’s maternal grandmother’s standby cake recipe. It’s a sturdy cake that’s perfect for potlucks and, you guessed it, picnics. Ed grew up eating Picnic cake – it’s still a favorite of his.

I’ll share the recipe, when I have a picture of a normal one. I’m not sure what I did wrong today but when I peeked through the oven window the cake had giant bumps. It will be riddled with tunnels! I’m curious what it will look like after I pour the cooked frosting over it in the morning.

Right now? Chocolate Bump Cake!
Never mind the looks, it should still taste good, and that’s what counts. Right?

Last week my daughter set home a jar of Kombucha from her friend who has been making it for over a year. I suspiciously eyed the brown liquid with a SCOBY floating it in. Hmm, that stuff is what we drink?

Using the SCOBY and 1 cup from the kombucha tea I made a new batch to sit and ferment this week. The rest of the kombucha that Aurora gave us we’ve been drinking all week.

Today, the 6th day, my batch of kombucha looks like it’s doing its thing. Ed can hardly stand to look at it. Can’t say I blame him. The SCOBY mass doesn’t look like anything that should be in something I’m going to drink.
The top has a scuzzy, bubbly, cloudy sludge.
Searching online I was delighted to find that it’s the sign of a healthy and properly progressing kombucha. mmmm

SCOBY = Sybiotic Cultures of Bacteria and Yeast
And we consume this with delight! To our good health!

I can hardly wait to drink some tomorrow and make a new batch to keep it going.

Grateful for:
– the donation of the starter kombucha and SCOBY
– a cake recipe that’s been passed down several generations
– The 10 Bee Hummingbird spindles flying to new homes. I’d love to watch as the buyers unpack the container and spin with them.
– Rescuing a young bird from the jaws and paws of Snowflake.
– Plans for a celebration of life gathering that will be fitting for a young man who loved working on engines; exploring the back roads of the mountains; eating junk food; and quietly gathered friends with his kindness and gentleness.

Gratitude of Life

Contemplating about, and practicing gratitude has been timely. Focusing on being grateful has made life easier — that doesn’t sound right; it’s not easy, but there’s a difference perspective. Even when faced with sorrow there is hope and goodness.

Last night a young man from this town was killed. He and his girlfriend were in a crosswalk in Portland when a car struck him.
Miraculously she wasn’t hit.

Daniel was a quiet, reserved young man. He got by on his wits and determination. The thing I remember most about him was his shy smile, his courage and determination to rise above the circumstances of his childhood.

Life. We take it so for granted. One minute walking across a street in Portland to get a bite to eat, the next mowed down by a care-less driver.

People that took him into their homes when he was a couch-surfer, who gave him a bed, encouragement and support, who helped him with many of life’s challenges are grieving. They were his family, not through blood but through love. My heart aches for them today. They’re hurting not only for the tragic end to Daniel’s life but for his girlfriend who valiantly gave him CPR.
Grateful for:
– life
– peace in knowing Daniel is in heaven.
– that he knew Jesus the Shepherd King
– the friend who stopped by the church to pray at a time I happened to be there.
– the crisp, sunny day


I let a woman down this evening, I wish I could have avoided it.

Making reasonable, good decisions in life is sometimes so difficult.

Rarely do I take the time to look at Facebook on Sunday mornings but this morning I was up early. After reviewing my notes and feeling quite prepared for both the adult Bible study and the sermon, I checked Facebook to see about a friend who’s in a rehab facility following surgery. She’d just posted that she was out of fiber to spin, would someone please bring some.
I replied that between all her fiber friends we should be able to get some to her. I added that perhaps I could visit her tomorrow afternoon. Even as I posted I wondered at the wisdom. The drawings for the Bees are at noon. I’d have to be quick at notifying the winners then jump in the car to get there and back before the after school traffic which can be a bear on that 2 lane highway between 3 – 6pm.

At the back of my mind I thought for sure someone else would jump in to say they’d take her fiber today.

Next thing I knew a fiber dyer who lives about 8 miles, in the other direction, posted that she’d supply the fiber – could I please stop on the way to pick it up for her. Suddenly I felt obligated. My innocent, heartfelt suggestion had not gone as I’d imagined when I jumped in with both feet.

Look carefully before leaping!
I thought she was in a town only 23 miles away to the NE of us. When I checked back this evening to see if someone had taken fiber to her she’d posted the name of the rehab center in the west hills of Portland.

A good hour+ drive each way – when the traffic is decent. Add in extra time to pick up the fiber on the way, spinning and chatting with her, then coming back on I-5 after 3:30pm the odds are high that the traffic will be thick and slow.

The final nail in deciding that I couldn’t realistically go was looking on google maps only to find that the rehab is in area where I always got lost when we lived in Portland years ago. The roads are a maze winding up and down around the hills. I played A league softball at one of the big parks up there. I never did figure out a good way to get to the park without getting lost! After a couple of weeks I dropped to a B team category so I could play closer to home and not deal with roads in West Hills. That was in ’85, I haven’t been back up there since. I can only imagine how much worse it is now.

No, we don’t have GPS.                                  (son and grandson geocaching)

I don’t think I’d feel so bad if I knew her well. We know each other through chatting a few times at fiber festivals and at guild meetings. But I have a tender spot in my heart for her. I care that she’s feeling lonely and trying to be patient. Spinning has been a solace while there.  She did write she’s hoping the doctor will release her to go home on Tuesday when she next sees him. I read that post this evening.

It’s been a long day. I missed the quiet, non-scheduled afternoon. We had our first music practice this afternoon for the upcoming Christmas sing-along. We also be playing for the town’s Christmas tree lighting in the park. Outside. It’s interesting trying to play a string instrument with cold fingers.
I will hold her in my prayers especially that she will be able to go back home on Tuesday. It’s time to let go of feeling distressed at letting her down.

Instead, I’ll focus on what I have to be grateful for.
Grateful for:
– God understanding the intentions of my heart and He still loves me even when I blow it.
– a decent music practice even when I wasn’t prepared as I should have been.
– a good Sunday school/Bible study and service this morning
– this blog where I can spill some of my thoughts
– Snowflake laying across my shoulders, purring in my ear.

Family ties

Yikes! The final task before heading to bed tonight was filling the coffee pot in preparation for the morning. Spooning the coffee grounds into the filter my thoughts drifted to this evening and hanging out with two cousins, especially the younger sister whom I hadn’t seen a couple of years. Then it hit me: I hadn’t posted today!

My heart sank.
Briefly I considered letting the day pass without posting. I need to get to bed – Sunday mornings come early for me. I like to be up by 6 at the latest.

25 days into the month with only 5 left to go. No, this day can’t be skipped

Turned the living room light and the laptop back on, gathering thoughts.
Thoughts of gratitude:
I’m grateful for
–  the unexpected chance to meet up with my cousins!
– my daughter who willingly opened up her home, and ordered pizza, on the spur of the moment when my cousin called this afternoon.
– her home which is at ground level so we could easily maneuver Older Cousin’s wheelchair into her house. (Five stairs up to our porches – someday we need to build a wheelchair ramp.)
– shared memories of our loved ones, and of celebrating childhood Thanksgivings and fun together.

It wasn’t until we’d loaded Oldest Cousin into the car that we realized we’d forgotten to take a picture. We’d so quickly taken up conversation that we all completely spaced on getting a group photo. By then it was getting quite late and they needed to get on the road.

Instead of a picture with my cousins, here’s one my daughter took about a month ago of me with her two younger daughters, Rose and Violet.
Violet helped make a pizza while Rose learned to crochet.
My mother firmly believed that five year olds were old enough to learn to properly use sharp knives. It’s a tradition that continues. Most Delicious pizza, it was!