Friday, September 15, 2017

My Father Never Talked About the War

     I was invited to speak about my father at the 6th Army Group Historical Seminar Commemorating WWII's forgotten D-Day and Operation Dragoon yesterday in DC. What a wonderful group of people, both army and civilian, who are keeping history alive. We learned so much during our day at the seminar. It was also an honor to meet two WWII veterans there, both in their 90's : )

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Summer Days Are Gone

     The calendar has turned to September and summer days are gone. The nights are cool, the A/C is turned off and we finally got some much needed rain. These are bittersweet days. I'm content to bid farewell to the heat and humidity that cause my body so much misery. I embrace the cooler days of autumn and I love the heightened activity it brings to our lives. However, I will miss the laid back feeling of summer, the lazy, barefoot days reading on the porch and the way life somehow just feels easier in the summer.
     My plans for today are bust. I was going to work out in the garden but, the rain continues. Henri-the-Schnoodle and I both have sleep issues lately so we came into the kitchen early this morning, made the coffee and sat by the window to work on my rug. This pattern is called New England Twist. It is destined for the floor in front of our kitchen sink. I put my Karen Kahle "Vermont" pattern on hold because I want to dye some wool in certain colors for it.
     I received a wonderful and generous gift of wool this week from two elderly ladies who can no longer work on their craft. They were prolific hookers and had amassed bins and bins of wool over the years. The method of distribution appears to be to offer it to the newer hookers first, those of us who are building a wool stash. After that, it's made available to other hookers in the group. It felt like Christmas morning when Nancy and I sat on Eleanor's living room floor and opened bin after bin of beautiful wool. There were several gradation sets (strips of wool dyed in six or seven grades of a particular color, from light to dark) of wool and one was pinned with a tag dated 9/23/1976. What a precious item! A lot of the wool is recycled from 100% wool garments gleaned from thrift stores. These are getting harder and harder to find as women don't wear beautiful wool skirts anymore or 100% wool in general. Eleanor knew I planned to dye my own wool, so she gave me the bin full of all white wool. Before it can be used, all the wool must be washed. We can't take any changes of introducing moths into our wool stash so even wool that has been properly stored and appears clean will need to be washed and dried before it can be brought into the house. I had it piled on the basement floor waiting for laundering. I'm excited to think of the projects ahead.

A hooker's dream

New England Twist in progress

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Connection With the Infinite

     Like millions of folks who stepped outside at the appointed hour last Monday to view the eclipse, I stepped outside with my special glasses and looked up. It was a marvel to see the moon pass in front of the sun. What I found more exciting, however, was the dimmed, eerie light of the landscape at that appointed moment in time. Maybe it was my imagination, but everything sounded hushed for about half an hour. The crickets were quieter, the cicadas toned it down, and the birds chirped only a little. When Tess, Ian, and I returned inside we looked down at the floor and saw little eclipse shadows filtering through the window. It was a pretty sight and we began to marvel all over again at this little unexpected surprise. Henri plopped down right in the midst of it because, well... he's just a little dog and he was oblivious to stellar occurrences like solar eclipses.
     The excitement and shared experience of the eclipse last week was something rare and wonderful. It was an event entirely out of the hands of man and I think we could all appreciate the beauty in that. Our pastor mentioned something Tim Keller said. He said, "There is a hunger for intimacy with the infinite."And this is true. There is another quote by Blaise Pascal,  a seventeenth century mathematician and theologian. “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” I love this. Something to think about...
     Steve, Tess and Sky played the Revelation Song at church last week and this week the congregation all sang it together. The lyrics are going around in my head. "With all creation I sing, praise to the King of Kings." Whenever I see something beautiful or marvelous in nature, I think of God. Everything from the whorls on a tiny sea shell to a celestial occurrence like an eclipse points to our Creator.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Welcome, Violet!

 We welcomed Audrey and Jared's first baby into the family yesterday. Her name is Violet and she is the sweetest little thing. She is our sixth grandchild, but each one born feels like our first. Like our own children, each grandchild is unique and a pure joy to meet and to know. Holding a newborn baby is akin to holding a miracle. We marvel at each tiny feature and our emotions soar with joy. We wonder at the perfection of God's creation and think far ahead into the future about what He might have in store for this child's life. In our humanness we cradle their frailty with a protectiveness that startles even ourselves. It is no small thing to say they are loved. So, "Welcome Violet! Oh what fun we shall have!"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'Tis the Season and Back to School

     'Tis the season of red and green! Our little garden is producing exactly the right amount for our enjoyment. We didn't plant a lot of variety this year because I decided to cut back on canning and preserving. So, we either eat or give away what we harvest. I even gave away a box of canning jars to daughter #2. It's a tiny bit sad to let go of that chapter in life when I did so much vegetable gardening and preserving but, it's for a good exchange of time toward other projects that I enjoy for now.
     Every summer I look forward to four particular dishes that use tomatoes and basil- Panzanella, Tomato Pie, Ratatouille, and any variety of Stuffed Tomatoes. Another item I must add to this list, but one that is not exactly a recipe, is a tomato sandwich. A low-gluten diet during tomato season is rather difficult. A tomato sandwich can only be enjoyed when it's made with a good quality white bread. There's just no way around that. I slather both slices of bread with mayonnaise, top with freshly sliced tomatoes, and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mmm mmm, good!

     Yes, we are back to school! Classes begin tomorrow and I have been back in the office since last week. The staff and teachers make our elementary school an enjoyable place to work and I don't mind having summer cut short at this point. We have a record number of four hundred and eleven students attending this year. I'm sure we'll be kept busy. The tag in the picture was tied to a little bag of Tootsie Rolls and left on my desk by the principal. : )

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Way We Were Is the Way We Are

I am swing. He is jazz.
I'm sweet white. He's dry red.
I am loud. He is quiet.
I am Felix. He is Oscar.
I am motion. He is rest.
I'm New England. He's Miami.
I run. He walks.
I like mild. He likes hot.
He imbibes. I rarely do.
I am an early bird. He is a night owl.
I am words. He is numbers.
I am antique. He is modern.
I say, "Turn it off." He says, "Leave it on." 
He can remember. I can not.
Thirty-six years.
Not always easy, yet always perfection. 


Friday, July 28, 2017

Hooking Projects

     I finished two hooked rugs before we went on vacation. The first rug was a gift for Chelsea and her boys. Chelsea has had pet rabbits for many years, so I hooked the pattern, "Spring Delight" by Mary Johnson. I fell in love with all of Mary's whimsical patterns and the color palette of this rug. Hooked rugs are very soft and comfortable to walk on; they feel great underfoot. Our grandson Hugo discovered this as soon as we placed the rug on the floor. : )

     The next rug I hooked was a small 16" square from a pattern I saw in a library book titled, "Wool Rug Hooking" by Tara Darr. On this rug, I wanted to try a binding technique by wrapping cording with wool to form piping, then hand sewing it around the edge. I was pleased with the finished appearance of this binding. The only drawback is that it's a little thick around the edges.

     I signed up for a rug hooking class that took place the week we returned from vacation. Our local Roanoke rug hooking group collectively hired Lisanne Miller of W. Cushing & Co. in Wells, Maine to come for four days and provide us with a workshop. We each brought a rug of our choosing to work on. Lisanne provided assistance in technique and color planning. Lisanne was great and I learned a lot. This was the first class I ever took and I would love to take more some day. I especially enjoyed the quiet, social aspect of the days, sitting side by side with other women all working on our projects. Lunches were catered each day and this was also a nice treat.
     I decided to begin a pattern called, "Vermont" by Karen Kahle. For this pattern, I wanted to stretch my comfort zone and explore a more freestyle design, blending colors and creating a landscape that appears both like a primitive folk design and an impressionist painting. So... I took on quite the challenge. I find the most frustrating task for me is acquiring the right color wool. Unlike painting, I can't mix two paint colors to get the desired shade. I need to find wool that already exists in the colors I want to use. Karen Kahle, who designed this pattern, dyes her own wool to create the exact shades she wants. I'm inspired to try dyeing wool one day, but I'm still far from there. In the meantime, I have to hunt down, beg and buy my wool. Otherwise, I'm having a grand time working on this rug. Household chores have gone by the wayside because I'm so focused on this project and I want to make use of every minute that I'm able. I'm the only person bothered about the pile of ironing  and the unswept floor, so it's not a big deal for now.
     School (thus work) begins in ten short days. Sigh. I cannot believe how quickly summer break flew by. Here's a peek at the "Vermont" rug as of today. Hooked rugs look raggedy when they're first started with all the loose ends and no background color. But, we'll get there. Give it a couple more months. I'm feeling optimistic.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Traveling to Points North and Favorite Places

     I love my home, but it sure is hard to return from vacation. I've coined the term, PVFRS or "Peevers". It stands for, "Post Vacation Facing Reality Syndrome". We were away for two weeks in the upper parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. It was perfect.
     We visited Chelsea and her family. Her newest baby, Charlie, who was born six weeks premature in May and weighed about 4 1/2 pounds, has since doubled his weight and is thriving. We sincerely thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! Big brother, Hugo is eighteen months old and he is lovable and entertaining. After ten days with Chelsea in New Hampshire and Maine, we spent time with Steve's family and my sister and her family in New York. There was much to consider in attempting to write about our trip, so here are some highlights in photos that I would particularly like to remember.

The Vegetable Ranch
The organic farm in New Hampshire that our son-in-law manages is called, The Vegetable Ranch. From farm to table, it is a labor of love. To say Simon is a meticulous organic farmer is an understatement. His work is simply beautiful. The entire family is involved and Chelsea and the boys are frequently at the farm. Even Steve helped out a little bit on two mornings.

Cherry Tomatoes

Off to the farmer's market on Saturday morning, Concord, NH 
Simon trucks their produce to the farmer's market as well as restaurants, the hospital, and individual farm shares.
There's Steve : )
 Warner, NH
     Warner, NH is a quintessential, small New England town. Everything one could need or want is within walking distance. I was surprised to learn that even includes a small lake and beach. Another fun highlight is the author series the town hosts. Chelsea and I attended one of these at the town hall featuring Anita Shreve, author of The Red Tent among other novels and non-fiction. On Friday nights, the town offers free concerts in the courtyard and amphitheater. We were lucky enough to catch the drum performance while we were there. Then we walked to the ice cream parlor and Hugo had his first ice cream cone. Steve walked over to the amphitheater one afternoon and played his saxophone. A few neighborhood children ran over to listen. Haha! 
     I can't say enough about how I have fallen in love with this little town. About fifteen miles straight up the road is Lake Sunapee. We spent one day there sailing with Chelsea and Simon's friends. When you gaze across this lake, you can see Sunapee Mountain and the ski slopes there. A ninety minute drive took us over and up the coast of Maine to Wells where we enjoyed the beach.This area seems to have it all.
Silver Lake Recreation Area, Warner, NH
I really enjoyed our evening walks. The town hall has spotlights and we had loads of fun playing in them.

A Friday night concert featured drums and plenty of percussion instruments so folks, young and old could join in.
Hugo's instruments of choice... plus a scarf.

Chelsea wears Charlie

Strawberry ice cream from the Velvet Moose. Mess? What mess?

Let me re-introduce Charlie. He's come a long way!
Wells, Maine.

When the tide goes out

Sailing on Lake Sunapee, NH
     Last, but not least, we drove west to New York to finish our vacation with a visit to parents and siblings. We managed to see everyone! It was great to sit and visit with Pete and Jane (Steve's parents) whom I have now known for thirty-eight years. Can that be?! We also had a blast with my sister and her husband and daughter on their boat on Lake George in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack State Park was our childhood playground. Every summer we picnicked and boated there. Steve lived at his family's summer camp on Brant Lake whenever school was out. It felt so good to be back. I am thankful for all the memories we made on this trip. May they carry us over until next time.

Opened in 1961. We rode our bikes here as kids, before there were strip malls, Walmart and tons of traffic. Summer time meant Gene's fish fry.
I'm still craving another fish fry. I sure missed my mom, dad, and sister, when I was sitting there, though.
Lake George, NY. Thirty-two miles long with beautiful mountain views.

John reserved an island for us! It was about halfway up the lake where it was private and quiet.

Rock ledges stretch out into the water. When I wasn't doing a happy dance, I was spending the day just like this : )

I'm having this picture printed along with one from Maine. I'll place them where we can longingly look at them every day.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Favorite Places

 The coast of Maine. My favorite, happy place.

One of my favorite activities is playing in the little tide pools and rock puddles, looking for treasures. When the grandchildren were napping, I played alone and sat in the sand and dug with rocks and shells, plucking up tiny sea shells and a piece or two of sea glass. The most wonderful realization came when it occurred to me that I didn't care what anyone might have thought about this (way) over fifty lady sitting and digging in the sand. It's going to be very hard to go home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In the Garden and On the Windowsill

Our property is overrun with Mockingbirds and we now experiencing the annual "Hatching of the Mockingbirds". The babies have flown the nests and call for food from all parts of the yard... even at 2:30 in the morning. We rescued one baby fluff ball from the basement window well. Its mother screeched at us from a nearby tree all the while we were trying to catch it. This youngster was on one of the raised vegetable beds. It's at the leggy teenager stage. 

The bunny and the Mockingbird were in the garden at the same time. The bunnies are not shy and they let me get pretty close. We've noticed a spike in rabbits, moles, and ticks this year. Perhaps deer, too. (There's always a lot of deer so sometimes it's hard to tell.) We haven't heard any coyote, though. Two friends told me about encounters with rattlesnakes on their property two weeks ago. Now I'm on high alert when I go for walks. I'd much rather see baby birds and bunnies. : )

Tess picked the chamomile and lemon verbena for the windowsill.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Caraway Rug Camp 2017

     On any given day, I would bet there is a rug hooking camp going on somewhere. These camps are an opportunity for rug hookers to gather together under the tutelage of an experienced teacher in order to perfect their craft. It's also an opportunity to share ideas, display rugs, purchase supplies, and have a good time. The Caraway Rug Hooking Camp takes place about half an hour south of Greensboro, NC. It seems to be a well known and popular camp here in the southeast. It's an annual affair and it features some well known and respected teachers. I was happy to have the opportunity to drive down for one day with my friend and fellow hooker, Eleanor. We met up with another friend and fellow hooker, Georganna, along with other acquaintances who were attending the camp. Wednesday was an open house of sorts and anyone is welcome to come view the beautiful rugs on display,visit the classrooms, meet the teachers, buy supplies, and join everyone for lunch. Below is a small sampling of some of the rugs on display. I neglected to write down the name of the person who made the first rug pictured, which was spectacular. As soon as I can find out who made it, I will give him/her full credit. That person is truly an outstanding artist, as are all that had rugs on display, including our own Georganna!.
     Next month our Wooly Sheep Farm Rug Hookers group will have a mini workshop here in the Roanoke area. One of the teachers and the organizer of Caraway, Lisanne Miller, will spend four days working with a group of us who have pooled our resources together to have her come and work with us. I've chosen a large, challenging (for me) pattern for the workshop because I will have the rare opportunity of a teacher to guide me to get is started.

"Mushroom Patch" hooked by Verana Barron

"Will He Come" hooked by Becky Vickary
Beautiful detail

Hooked by Nancy Parcels

This is my favorite piece! It is very small, perhaps 10"x12" and was not labeled with the artist's name
This rug is very old by an unknown artist. It's simplicity makes it so beautiful.