Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Traditions Old and New

     Everyone arrived into town on Friday morning and we settled in for a five day long celebration of Christmas. The four daughters look forward to our Christmas traditions each year but, with the addition of husbands and children into the family, some of those old traditions are gradually being set aside to accommodate the masses. And that is perfectly fine.
     This year, there would be no waking during the night for the sisters to secretly open their Christmas stockings together. The young parents were too tired to think about an extra waking during the night. There was no fine china or silverware on the table for Christmas dinner. Two new words were introduced into our 2017 Christmas: paper plates. We prepared and consumed so much good food over the course of five days with one third of our populous now being young children, that no one minded the paper ware. There was also no silent, contemplative Christmas Eve. I had imagined an evening of lessons and carols with the family and quiet moments of joy and wonder with the children. Instead, it was about comings and goings, quieting over-tired little ones, walking fussy babies to sleep, and watching the clock for bedtime. I expect those shared quiet moments will come again one day. For now, the wondrous birth of our Savior and the reason for our celebration remained in my thoughts each day and night. I hummed and sang Christmas carols to the children. In the quiet, early mornings I read the scriptures and listened to the corresponding carols (thanks to youtube) and embraced the love that was given to us through the birth of Christ all those millennia ago. We shared it in bits and pieces and that was okay, too.
     I'm sure almost everyone in the family had their own expectations of what the holiday weekend would include. I certainly had my expectations. But part of being in a family, large or small, requires some to compromise for others. Some of our traditions began when there were two or three or four of us. Now we are sixteen! So, rather than gather 'round the Christmas tree sipping eggnog and listening to carols as I had imagined, the men kept a fire going out in the field and we ushered in the shortest day of the year with a fire. Neither rain nor cold prevented the fire from burning. During the day, the men cut down dead trees to fuel the fire. The wives laughed at the boyish nature of the men with their forts and fire. The men came inside for meals, bringing with them the smell of fresh air and smoke. The women ushered children out to play and back in for naps.
     Amidst all the hubbub, some of us attended church, some of us went out to visit other family in the area, two went on a thirteen mile hike, one slept out in the field in a tent, one caught poison ivy, two had runny noses, two were teething, several cooked and cleaned, a few did laundry, several spent many, many hours driving to get here and back, three took a meal to Mrs. C., everyone hugged and kissed and laughed, one burned his little fingers in the fire, one little guy ate a lot of oranges, and all the adults gained three pounds each. And finally, one cried on Wednesday afternoon after everyone departed and she was left all alone.
Six grands with Tess and Chelsea

Violet aka Doll Baby

Marian, Charlie and Nonni

The hobo shelter in times of rain.
Chelsea and Audrey with Charlie and Violet


Daniel and Claire

Matthew. Those boots : )
Audrey, Violet, and Jared

Simon, Ian, and Jared among the poison ivy

Pop the overseer
Fueling the fire.

Hugo and Marian

Charlie takes a shot.


Matthew (in Aunt Audrey's twenty two year old Cozy Coupe)

Chelsea, Steve, Audrey, and Tess (Sadly, Claire was out visiting and missed the photo)
 Look at that fire!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Angels We Have Heard on High Sweetly Singing O'r the Land

     I was quite taken by the beautiful angel Mari drew for me. Mari and Jack often give or mail drawings to us and they are all special. I especially enjoy the interpretations their mom writes on some if them to explain the floating shapes or to put the picture into context. Mari presented this angel as a special gift to me when she and Jack came for a sleepover last night. I'm glad we have these opportunities for one-on-one time with the grandchildren as they grow older. We are getting to know each other better with each visit and there is a special trust and love that has formed between us. I'm still surprised by the revelations of this grandparent 'thing'. It's an interesting journey of love that is entirely different than any other.
    We had old friends come and stay the night last weekend on their way from New York to Louisiana. We hadn't seen or spoken with them in thirteen years but, it made no difference at all. We remain the same at heart and it felt like barely any time had passed since we last saw each other. They have three daughters and we have four, all of whom were friends in childhood and remain friends to this day. Back then, we shared the commonality of home schooling, 4H, and more play dates and sleepovers than I can count. It was great fun to catch up and reminisce with these friends from back home who were an integral part of our past.
     In between house guests and work I've been getting ready for Christmas in fits and spurts. A little decorating here, a little baking there. I'm a horribly distracted personality type and trying to both work and keep the home life I enjoy is a challenge. It takes a lot of solitary time to keep my thoughts straight these days and it just isn't happening. Everyone agrees that it helps to maintain a sense of humor and I have no trouble doing that. The kids at school/work are hilarious at times and there's plenty to laugh about each and every day.
     In order to keep the holiday baking interesting, I mixed in some new items with the traditional ones. I made an Italian cookie that I recall from childhood, but it wasn't one that my own mother made. They were something we had on my dad's side of the family and also from the Italian bakery. They would traditionally be flavored with anise but, my family isn't crazy about anise, so I flavored these with almond. To form these cookies, you pinch off the dough and roll it into snakes about the size of a pencil. Then you shape it however you like; pretzels, S-shapes, twists, etc. I chose to roll them upon themselves and form what looked like little poo piles. I wanted a shape that would grab the icing into little crevasses. They turned out great!


Monday, December 4, 2017

Better Late Than Never

    How many of us did counted cross stitch in the 1980's and 90's? Raise your hand! It was quite the thing back then and I've run into several women working on beautiful samplers now. I recall it being a relaxing hobby... until my eyesight got so poor that I couldn't see the threads anymore. I recently found this precious snowman stashed away in my closet. He's traveled with us all the way from New York to Alabama and Virginia. This piece was all stitched except for three alphabet letters. I finally  determined to finish him because I like the sampler pattern with the letters forming the snow and the snowman makes me smile. Originally, I stitched one for my mother-in-law way back in 1995 or so. I had it framed and gave it to her as a gift. I started to make this one for myself and I never finished it. Until today.
     It's stitched on a linen background using one individual strand of embroidery floss crossing over two strands of linen for each cross stitch. It was a difficult task to finish those last three letters. I couldn't see the threads even with my glasses on. I asked Steve to hold a magnifying glass over my work for me. I only had three measly letters to stitch, how hard could this be?! He got impatient with my impatience so, he taped the magnifying glass to his music stand and walked away. A friend asked if I would be adding the finish date at the bottom: 1999-2017. Nah. We'll leave it at 1999. Now I just need to find the right frame and he can be hung this Christmas.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Girls Get the Tree

    Audrey, Baby Violet, Angus-the-dog, Tess and I went to get the Christmas tree today. They walked up the hill and across the road to the tree farm and I drove the truck so we'd have it to haul the tree home. Steve stayed behind because he was in the middle of a project. He helped carry the tree into the house and he secured it into the tree stand for us when we got back. While we had our hearts set on a skinny tree, it was tempting to purchase one of the beautiful Balsam firs the owner showed us. I told the girls that we were looking for the least worst tree. We were going to rescue an ugly tree and make it beautiful. We held firm and found the skinniest tree without too many dead needles. There were two more appealing, skinnier ones that I would have preferred, but they had vines and too many dead needles around the trunk. We strolled all around the upper and back fields just for fun before we settled on the right tree for us. Of course, it was one of the first trees we saw when we first arrived. Tess had fun taking pictures and Violet loved the fresh air.
     After we had the tree loaded into the truck, I put it in four-wheel-drive and drove through the back entrance of our property and down the hill. I once tried growing evergreen saplings on this hill as a mini tree farm of our own. They all died that year. I had the thought that maybe I should try it one more time. The little hillside field is the perfect spot for a crop of trees. In ten years or so, we could cut our first tree. Hmmm. I see another spring project in the making
     When we got home, Tess put on some Christmas music and we got busy placing the lights and beaded garland. We took an eggnog and stolen break and before we knew it, it was time for Tess to go to work and for Audrey to head back home. I did some clean up around the tree and realized all the ornaments still needed to be hung. I went to see what Steve was doing and he was dozing in his chair. His suggestion for us was that we drop everything and go out to an afternoon movie. So we did. "Thor: Ragnarok" was fun.
     Finally, around 7:30 this evening, I handled all the individually wrapped ornaments and found the perfect placement for each one on the tree. What seemed like a chore was no chore at all. The room was dim, the old ornaments were a treasure to handle, and the final result was beautiful and peaceful. It was a good day.
I was talking to Violet. Tess said we reminded her of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Discussing the options for a tabletop tree.

Pulling vines off the trunk of the least worst tree. Our tree!

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Final Farewell to Autumn

     ♫ Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat... ♪ Before the Thanksgiving turkey is even out of the oven, folks are gearing up for Christmas. I stubbornly leave all our fall decor up until Thanksgiving weekend is completely over. One thing I was sad to part with were the leaves I collected in New Hampshire last month. They won't keep forever and the Christmas tree is certainly coming into the house on Saturday so, the leaves must go. I gently gathered them off the bookshelves and carried them outside to the sunshine and let the breeze scatter them into the yard. It was a fitting good-bye to autumn.

     These little hands will accompany us to the tree farm to hunt for a tree on Saturday. I've been keeping my eye on a couple of trees throughout the year when we go for walks past the field of trees. I like skinny trees that I don't think anyone else will want. For some odd reason they appeal to me and I think they would be very pretty all decorated. Of course, any tree is beautiful once it's all decorated, no? The family is in agreement that we should have a skinny tree. We'll see how well we can all agree when we actually get there to cut one down. Audrey and Tess are taking over the decorating this year. They've shown me a lot of Pinterest ideas and they are all pretty. My rule is, however, that we have to use items we already have or items found outside in nature. We'll see what they come up with. I'm sure they'll stick close to the tried and true fancifuls that we've enjoyed throughout the years.
     Steve and I were in Lowe's last weekend and something Christmasy made me stop and exclaim, "Christmas is coming!" I think it's time to have our annual viewing of "Elf".

Friday, November 24, 2017

Resting, Restorative November and Revolving Doors


     November is a vastly changing month here in Virginia. It starts out on the mild side with colorful leaves still on the trees and green grass in the fields. Then it whisks up frosty mornings and wind that blows the trees bare and brings the smell of winter at its back. In between, it fluctuates between days that are bright and mild and others that are bleak and gray with cold rain that seeps into our bones.November prepares us for winter.
     Knowing that snowflakes may fly anytime now, I feel an urgency to prepare the yard for winter. I mowed the lawn for the final time last weekend and emptied the dead flowers from their pots. In unceremonious fashion, I ate the last holdover tomato from the garden. (The poor tomato didn't taste like summer as I expected it might. I think the cold weather shocked all the flavor out of it.) We try and hold onto fall as long as we can but, Steve has begun to feed the wood stove in the basement and we're talking about Christmas dinner menus.
     Our diet has changed to fall harvested foods with an occasional grilled hamburger as the weather allows. There are two recipes that I have particularly enjoyed this season. The first is a Butternut Squash Soup recipe that Chelsea made for us in New Hampshire. It comes out of a Martha Stewart Food magazine and it uses fresh butternut squash and fresh ginger. We topped it with roasted, spicy pumpkin seeds as the recipe recommends. It is outstanding (if you like butternut squash and ginger) and super healthy. I have used other recipes for butternut squash soup that call for apples and chicken stock. While those are equally as good, I love the ginger in this recipe. The second recipe is for Maple Dijon Cream Dressing . It is fabulous on salads of greens with apple slices, crumbled Camembert cheese and toasted walnuts. Click on the recipe names and it will take you to the website with the recipes. Enjoy!
     We enjoyed these Thanksgiving days of rest from the regular routine. Even though the long weekend was busy, busy, it still felt restorative by being off of the usual routine. We have big changes coming up for December and January. There will be a crowd here for Christmas, thus the push to finish the basement project, which I will post about separately. Tess will be moving out of state for college and I will have to end the denial phase in which I currently reside. With her move out, we may have three more bodies moving in, temporarily. Audrey and her little family are selling their home and plan to purchase land and build a new place for themselves. So, we offered them the newly emptying upstairs as a layover instead of them renting a place. It's a regular, revolving door around here. As long as bodies don't mind sleeping on the floor, we have no problem.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Happiness Is Rubber Boots and Incredibles Suits

     Having grandchildren who live far away is made more bearable by modern technology. These two photos are a very small example of the many that brighten our day.
     As I was falling asleep the other night, these images popped into my mind. I went on to have a wide range of thoughts and emotions as I thought about our grandchildren and prayed for all of them and their parents. At some point I must have fallen asleep, but these images have remained with me and have continued to make me smile through the following days. The locations are almost eight hundred miles apart but the children they represent all reside in the same tender spot in my heart.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


There can never be too many maples. I think Virginia needs more maples. Even on this rainy day the maples in the front yard are bright. 

Earlier in the week, it was sunny and mild. Here are things around the yard from those sunnier days. 

Oh those maples! This is the maple in the side yard with the sun filtering through the leaves. : ) 

 The begonias and ivy geranium are still happily blooming. We did have a hard frost, but these are close to the house, so they weren't touched by it yet. I'm sure they won't be with us much longer.

     I have my usual reading chair in the corner of the dining area. There's a window next to it with a view of the maples. Besides reading, I daydream and nap in that chair. Recently, when I looked out the window at everything colorful and growing, I pictured all the cells that make up each leaf and blade of grass grass and bark; the cells in the dahlias, the birds and the insects that are hidden from sight. I imagined the dirt under the grass and how it teems with organisms, worms and bugs. All of these things our eyes scan every day and we glance over all of it without a second thought. I thought about how every type of cell is different, every one unique in its function, yet all working together. Maple leaf cells, earthworm cells, geranium flower cells, brain cells, how complex yet beautifully simple and perfect.
     I look out the window at the mind boggling, smallness and bigness of it all and it's impossible not to see God. Whatever more proof could man need. If life, simple or complex, can spontaneously create itself, then I seriously need to see that happen. I am confident it can never be. All of the patterns in nature are bound by the laws of nature to follow a pattern. Physics and chemistry and math allow us to see a stability and order to the universe. A leaf cell will never grow a pig's heart and an earthworm will never grow a human brain. It's thoughtful and planned and very much under control. Just for grins, I read some discussion boards on quantum mechanics and the subject of randomness. ("Randomness" is slightly off subject, but I couldn't help it.) It's like hanging out with Spock and Sheldon at the same time.
"Randomness is just a word to compensate our lack of proper understanding. It's logical that actions cause reaction. Everywhere and always." 

     And this is why the house isn't dusted... I need to stop looking at the maple trees.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Flying High With Mixed Emotions

     It was such glorious weather again today! After I got home from work, I ate a quick lunch, changed into work clothes and went outside to clean up the garden. I collected the last bowlful of cherry tomatoes, then began pulling up the dead vines and doing a general cleaning up. I towed the lawn cart behind the mower up the hill to the gully behind the tree with the fort and swing. This is where we dump our yard waste and it composts down nicely. The big tree's leaves had fallen, but the branches provided a little shade so I sat there for a while, taking a break and enjoying the view. None of the neighbors were around this afternoon and the whole area was very quiet. It was just me and the breeze and a couple of crows off in the distance.
     Before long, I heard the sound of a small engine plane approaching from the northeast. I spotted it in the sky and noticed it was a biplane. It's not often we see these and I eagerly watched it approach. For some reason I expected to see an old looking plane. It was actually painted a bright shiny blue and yellow and it looked right smart in its shininess. On the underside it was marked, "Army" with a star on the under wing. It was very pretty and it was flying fairly low. As it passed overhead and went behind the tree line, it made a gentle turn to head back the way from which it came, over the vineyard. I stood up and walked out into the open to watch it depart. maybe the pilot saw me because he turned and came back around. What a treat! I was happy to watch this pretty plane circle around again. When he left for the second time, I gave him a big wave. Surprisingly, he turned and came around a third time and tipped his wings at me. Then climbed vertically for a few seconds before dipping back down right over our house. I was thrilled at this little show, yet perplexed at this exchange between total strangers. I felt solitary, standing in the open on the hill with no one to share this experience with, not even a phone with which to capture an image. It was a completely random occurrence but my mind was filled with its own interpretations of the exchange.
     My father came immediately to mind when I saw the Army insignia on the plane. I have been debating with myself between keeping my father's army memories alive with requests for information and forms to complete on his behalf vs. letting it all be buried and put to final rest and closing that chapter of our lives. Just this morning, I was filling out another form and struggling with myself on this topic. Emotions of grief are still fresh even after all these years and each time I revisit my parents' past, it's like reopening a wound. I want to honor my father but it comes at an emotional expense. It's difficult to keep the past alive and still live in the present and future. So, when this plane came from the northeast, the direction of my parents' home, and performed for me with "Army" written on the underside, I took it as a sign for something. Who knows what. I'm sure I'm being overly emotional about it, so I'll let the topic rest and it will sort itself out. I'll never forget that pretty plane, though. Whoever the pilot was, "Thank you!"


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Making Connections

     When you care for a place, as in physically take care of a place, you become intimately familiar with it and connected to it. When we were young, we knew the details and nuances of our toys. I knew my Barbie's bad knee, each grass stain on her party dress (from throwing her in the air), the dent in my bicycle fender where I hit it with a hammer, and the place where my baby doll lacked proper stuffing. Touching and playing with our toys each day made us intimate with them. Later, in our first apartments or homes, we knew the few belongings we owned very intimately. We were too familiar with the one and only saucepan we had to cook with, we knew which chair wasn't safe for guests, and which floor boards creaked when we walked a fussy baby back and forth at night. By dusting and carefully handling our few knick knacks, we were reminded of their origins and gently placed them just so in order to enjoy them in our home. There was the porcelain bird from grandmother and the pottery from summer vacation. We cleaned and handled them week after week, every time we dusted, over and over again, year after year until we knew them with our eyes closed. Even in the nightly routine of absentmindedly washing our dishes, we connected with these inanimate plates and cups by handling them just so every day. It's easy to own "stuff". It's the caring for it that makes or breaks the relationship we have with our stuff.
     I find this same thing to be true of our yards and outdoor property. We've owned a few houses over the course of our marriage. Some have had small yards and others had acres and we always cared for them ourselves.  We landscaped them and groomed them, season after season. I learned each swell and contour of the lawns, each dip and tree root, each soggy or rocky area, and what would or wouldn't grow in any given spot. I've connected with each property but one and enjoyed making improvements on most. I love planting and growing things even when challenged by failure. I also enjoy the regular maintenance and grooming of the gardens. (Except when it's hot and muggy.) We are fortunate to live in a geography where we have four seasons. The changing landscape makes it new and beautiful with each changing season and we get to know and appreciate its beauty all over again.
     I was happy to have the time and good weather to mow the lawn today. I decided to mow not only the yard but the front and side field as well. We usually leave it uncut for the farmer to make hay but, in the fall I like to mow the field grass short in case we have snow later on. The short grass makes for better snow cover. and there's a nice gentle slope on the field that makes a good sledding hill. So, on this beautiful fall day, I connected with our yard and land by mowing up one side of it and down the other, around and around. I felt the dips and gullies, the rocks and soggy spots. With each turn of the mower, a new vista opened before me and I fell in love with this land all over again. I felt like I had been apart from it for a while and I was greeting it anew. I took in the aromas of cut grass and dried leaves. I felt the sun on my face and watched sun patches light up the distant mountains. I loved our property today and it loved me back. I groomed it and cared for it and in return it renewed my spirit. I recalled the day we bought it and how I felt it was a generous gift from God, much more than I deserved. It belongs to us only for a short while, and today, for this moment, I was so glad.

 The Maple and Viburnum
         In April...

...and October 

Across the field toward the neighbor's

The sky was amazing today. All photos are unaltered and naturally beautiful : ).

Monday, October 23, 2017

An Autumn Visit in New England

     I'm disappointed in myself for not writing more. I don't know what happened. I'm also disappointed in myself for not keeping up with my housecleaning. I keep trying to figure out what's wrong and why I've let these things go but, I have no answers. I need to spend less time trying to figure out why I'm not writing and cleaning the house and just do it.
     We were away for a week up north, so there's one excuse for neglecting things at home. Steve helped his brothers install hardwood floors in their parents' house. I visited with his mom and my sister. We also stopped in NH for a little visit with Chelsea and her family. The weather was amazingly mild for October and the entire week was a real treat. I spent every day outside, taking walks. Everyone said the colors were not vivid this year, but for this Virginian, they were spectacular.

Simon grew many different kinds of peppers

Fall crops in the greenhouse. To stand in the doorway and breathe the moist, sweet earth brought intense memories of spring. Only to turn around and look outside to see fall.
Hugo loves to walk with sticks.
A view of the Hudson River Valley and Albany, NY from the Thatcher park overlook at the Helderberg escarpment. My sister and spent the day together visiting apple stands, and driving around the countryside. The city of Albany is a speck to the right of center in this photo.

We lunched at the Home Front Cafe in Altamont, NY. It was a time capsule of a place with good Americana type food. The place is filled to the brim with WWII memorabilia. We had no idea about this place. A girl at Altamont Orchards recommended it and we were pleasantly surprised. The waitresses were not friendly, but the place was large and bustling and the food was very good.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Welcome, Welcome Fall

     At last. Summer smothered and smouldered us long past her welcome. As if to make up for making us suffer, Autumn treated us to The Most Beautiful weekend. Fall is that perfect season in Virginia when the fields bloom with both asters and clover. There's a bit of Queen Anne's lace still blooming along with dandelion fluff balls. Summer and autumn intermingle as one passes on to the other. 
     There seems to be a bumper crop of black walnuts and hazelnuts falling from the trees. I can hear the large nuts hitting Mrs. Cahoon's barn and house roofs from over here. Inside her house, the sound of the drumming nuts onto her metal roof startle us while we visit, even though we know to expect them. Those black walnuts are so big that I worry about twisting an ankle when walking certain paths. I'll need to bring a rake up there and get them out of the way. The farmers cut their hay and the shorn fields now lay wide open to the sky. I invite Henri to walk more often than usual and he is happy to oblige. We aren't forced to follow a mowed path now that the fields are cut and we can explore more. Maybe wandering is a better word than explore. We wander. The air is certainly cooler and it's tempting to lie down on the grass where the breeze doesn't reach and soak up the sun's warmth. 
     We fed William's animals this weekend. This can either be a treat or a chore depending on the weather. This weekend it was a treat. The ducks are the most comical lot and it's easy to imagine Beatrix Potter's inspiration for writing her amusing animal stories just by watching those ducks. The sheep will follow anywhere for grain and the cows were behaving nicely, although the newest bull is a little stand offish. He looks like Ferdinand the Bull. He's black and his bony haunches are high and he carries himself the the Ferdinand character is drawn. He didn't want to follow the other bull and cows along the path to their dinner or breakfast so I suggested to Steve that he take the riding crop and shoo him in. Surprisingly, Steve did just that, except that the bull kept evading him and it turned into a chase game. Steve was having none of that nonsense and quickly gave up. How I wished I had my phone or camera to capture Steve chasing the bull around the field.
    Somehow the days flow busily along with work and chores and play... in that order. There's still more canning to be done, rug hooking continues, and we have a project Steve is working on in the basement, semi-finishing a space where the grandchildren can play indoors. It's a dusty, messy job that created a lot of fine cement dust all over everything, even with plastic put up. Thankfully we're past that part now and it's almost time to paint. We gave ourselves a Christmas deadline when we expect everyone to be here. I think we're on schedule, however keeping this perspective is challenging in light of the book I'm currently reading,  "Living Life Backwards" by David Gibson. (Thanks to a friend for the recommendation.) 

"The seasons and natural cycles of the world are content to come and go, but we sweat and toil to make believe that it will not be so with us."   


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