Monday, February 16, 2015

Cabins ....

... of the log variety.

On a whim, I stopped at an estate sale on my way back from the bank Friday (have to pay the mortgage, after all). It was a house I'd always wondered about when passing. I wonder about a lot of houses, "I wonder what it looks like inside?", "I wonder what the floor plan is, It looks so big from the street?" Etc., etc. So I stopped. I'd seen an ad in the paper earlier stating that the entire contents of the house would be for sale. By the time I arrived the furniture was all spoken for. I picked up 2 books on weaving (!), and a large box of quilting scraps that I found in the attic. $20 for the scraps, $5 for the books! $20 may seem like a lot for scraps, but when considering the cost of new cotton (upwards of $10/yd.), a box of scraps does seem a bargain at twenty.

Wonder of wonders when I got home and quickly set to unpacking the box. Hidden within the tangle of accumulated discards were 2 completed quilt tops. The first one is large--very large, it will fit my queen size bed with ease and it is entirely hand stitched. Someone put a lot of time into piecing this bit of eye candy together. There are a few squares--near the edge, thankfully--that I will need to replace because they've deteriorated, but otherwise it's in good shape. As soon as I get the repairs made I'll have it quilted. It's quite an heirloom I think. The other top is smaller, just the right size to use as a cloth for the kitchen table. It's machine sewn.

I love making scrap quilts. I find them infinitely exciting to work on; they're an adventure based on only the sparest of plans and are full of wonderful surprises with every square. I decided to make log cabin (the title of this post) squares. They're a classic and hugely fun to make. No intense planning required, simply cutting 1.5" strips and getting them under the presser foot.

I managed to make 11 squares this weekend. (I should go off now and make it an even dozen!) Saturday and Sunday were hibernating days--snow and wind like crazy! It was pretty wild sounding last night. I love it. Most thankful the electric stayed on and heat was produced throughout the duration. It was not snowing today, still a bit windy but very sunny and bright. If it hadn't been for the cold temperature (just above 0) it would have been just like an early summer day, a kite day! I got most of the drive cleared of drifting mounds before running out of gas and finished the rest off by hand. My old shovel fell apart last week (however could it be!?) so I had to purchase a new one and it's an ergonomic design. What a difference that makes! I'm amazed at how the design takes so much stress off the lower back. How very wonderful--and relieving!!

Unpacking the box of scraps:

The large hand-stitched top:

The smaller top:

The living room floor looking like laundry:

The 11 squares I managed over the weekend:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quiet time ...

... around here. In fact, the reason for so little activity is I'm out straight with activity!

We are into our 6th week of rehearsal (once a week) for Schubert and Beethoven with 4 more rehearsals before the concert. Joining the orchestra has been absolutely wonderful for my progress. It gives me an opportunity to explore cello positions that I haven't yet encountered much in my solo works, and since it requires a wide range of sound and techniques it's just a great all-around exercise. I've been enjoying the rehearsals to the hilt.

In a few weeks I'll be participating in an afternoon of chamber music at the piano. An informal affair at the same music school where we rehearse: A pot-luck chamber sight-reading workshop--only as a pianist I won't be sight-reading brand new music. In filling out the application I mentioned Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata for violin and piano, and Arvo Pärt's "Spiegel im Spiegel"--also for violin and piano--as being two pieces I'd most love to play with someone.

There's a lot of practicing going on, and I can sense progress in both instruments so, of course, that makes me happy--overjoyed, really. But in reality, the progress is in me, isn't it? I mentioned it recently somewhere else: One never struggles with an instrument; one struggles with oneself. The instrument doesn't change, I have to change.

Ciello is doing wonderfully. A sweet, happy little bird. We spend most of the day together, sharing lunch and peeves and joy. He's anxious to be flying around with my other birds, I can tell. But in the meantime he sleeps in their room in his luxury condo--a very nice, floor-sized cage--one of two I brought up from New York. To think that I was almost ready to leave them behind! Glad I kept them, after all.

I AM making progress on the pheasant, pleasant reveries. Ciello loves to get hold of the needle and roll it around his tongue! Most helpful is he! So it's now a collaboration.

There is something about the color of sky this time of year that is most striking. The blues!! The sky is so many shades of blue, most vividly!

Those pictures are taken on the road to Rumney, Halls Brook Road--my link to civilization on this side of the mountain. So beautiful!

Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

With a little help from my friend ...

To be honest, it's not all that helpful. But it is fun and he's just so adorable and sweet.

At rehearsal last night we read through Schubert's 5th symphony. I've had the music for a bit and worked over it with my teacher so it wasn't a cold reading for me. Ever so beautiful.

Last week we read through Beethoven's 4th symphony and it was an utter and complete joy. I found myself tearing up occasionally over the exquisite beauty of it, and the realization that there I was, playing along and contributing to this glorious music. Oh what a joy it is to play a stringed instrument in an orchestra. I can say I know no other experience like it. Sure indeed, I dropped out a few measures here and there -- it was, after all, a cold read and I've only been playing four years -- but for great chunks of it I was there. Such a happy experience.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Red cloth ...

The cloth that stood still. Honestly, it was on the loom for months and I simply was not making progress. It was a most uninteresting material to weave, for reasons I cannot quite fathom. My suspicion falls on the fact that every row was doubled, in other words, every treadle was used two times in a row with a shot of tabby in between. The effect was to make it seem twice as slow to weave as would be otherwise. That's the only thing I can think of.

At any rate, it's off the loom and I made enough for a vest. Indeed, it's an attractive material. Shown here draped over my Pfaff sitting on my prized 1910 Singer. (Thank you Aunties. :))

On a New Year's Eve visit to my neighbor (the woman I purchased my house from) I was introduced to a program called Local Foods Plymouth, an ingenious set up whereby we can browse the web site and place an order for locally raised and grown produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, confections, etc. The window for ordering is Sun. to Wed. and pickup day is Thurs. at the local UPS store (in the summer, pickup is at the farmer's market). I'm calling it "armchair farmer's market" and it's fabulous! I just love it.

I placed my first order last week, and seeing how the meat is locally and humanely raised, I requested a pound each of ground beef and pork (also on my list was some delicious granola, a dozen eggs, and some cheese). Today I made tourtiere. Yes, it's post-holiday but "better late than never" couldn't be more true! Oh my my, the house smelled good while it was simmering down over the course of 3 hours. The pie is delicious of course. Ooooh, I do love these.

The day ends on a good note seeing how I got the kitchen sink unclogged earlier in the evening. It clogged up last night and I couldn't budge it. Very hot water, baking soda, vinegar, and a plunger finally did the trick.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not knitting ...

Being on a short break from the needles doesn't mean I'm void of projects to work on. Au contraire.

I've picked up the third of the medieval needlepoints by Candice Bahouth. This one is a pheasant (squirrel and rabbit are done) but in fact, there is no pattern for it in the book. There is a picture of a finished canvas on the cover of the book and it's just clear enough that I can follow it. Since it's in the same series as the other three patterns that are in the book, the palette is similar and I don't have to guess too much. It's quite a nice looking pheasant and in my opinion, it's a little bit more challenging than either the squirrel or rabbit:

My favorite time-of-day to needlepoint are in the morning, either with, or just after coffee; and also at night after the day's work is done. Ciello has shown a keen interest in every task I pick up and the needlepoint is no exception. I'm becoming smitten with the adorable little creature.

Also in the works are a couple of scarves using some yarn I spun up last summer. The fiber is wool/silk from Ashland Bay. The weaving pattern is called "Gothic Cross". There are a few versions of the draft based on the order of treadling one uses. The one I chose is more open and less condensed than the others I've seen. It's difficult to distinguish the pattern in pictures of the unfinished cloth:

But progress has been a tad slow since Ciello's arrival due to the fact that it's considerably cooler upstairs where the loom is. I can't take him up there and I'm not keen on having him sit in a cage all alone while there's a flock of birds in one room and me in another. Poor little thing. But I have a plan: Some years ago I purchased 2 very large and beautiful bird cages. They are meant for large parrots to give you an idea. They almost went up for sale when I made the move but I ended up taking them with me and now I'm glad I did. I'm going to move one of them into the bird room and Ciello will be able to spend time in it whilst being protected from the other bird's possible aggression. When his feathers are grown in I'll slowly start to introduce him to the flock.

Since it is so cool upstairs but nice and cosy down here with the thermo set a little higher for Ciello, I moved my work equipment down to the kitchen table for the duration. It's quite nice to work without a blanket over my legs! Especially seeing how it was -16 degrees this morning when I got up. It was 10 this afternoon, a full 26 degrees warmer, and it felt positively balmy!!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winded ...

... seems the best word to describe my feelings coming out of the holiday season this year. Coping and adjusting to some new realities, and feeling a bit, well, winded. In the meantime,

Onward ...

I spent a lovely Christmas at one of my few surviving Aunts. She's 92 years old and I hadn't seen her in decades. She's my aunt through marriage, having married one of my father's brothers. She helped one of her daughters cook a lovely meal; several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there too. I brought her one of the shawls I knit this autumn. She looks lovely in it:

Looking back on it, it really was a lovely day.

New Years was good for me for very personal reasons. I've continued my inward journey since my psychotherapy ended some years ago. The search for answers has not lapsed, and some of you will know by now that my search involves music making, body awareness, and what Thich Nhat Hanh calls "observation meditation". In truth, I work pretty hard at it, and in earnest. New Years morning delivered an answer to a problem going back more than 50 years. It left me feeling euphoric all day. The journey and the breakthroughs continue. Happy.

An unexpected development over the weekend. A quilting acquaintance of mine wrote and asked if I'd be interested in taking her tamed lovebird. She has recently acquired a new puppy and it's apparently a bit too aggressive for little Ciello. How could I refuse? For the second time in my life I'm caring for a sweet, charming, friendly, tame little bird. He's been perched on my shoulder almost the entire day today. His wings were clipped (not a practice I condone, by the way) so he needs quite a bit of attention until his feathers grow in again. I hope to eventually introduce him to the "flock", when he can fly again.

Since I can't place him in the bird room right now I've had to turn the heat up. For the next little while I'll enjoy it at 68 in here. Up to now, 62 has been suiting me quite well. Work at the piano and cello usually keep me feeling comfortable at that temp.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree ...

Just a table top this year. Not sure why I didn't feel like floor to ceiling; table top seems to fit my current lifestyle better I suppose. More manageable and just as beautiful.

I've been doing some work on the organ since that little video was made. The keys are now all much whiter, some dust has been removed from inside, and the Vox Humana stop has been fixed. After the holidays I will align the keys so they are all the same height and make some minor (I hope) cabinet repairs.

So far (knock on wood) this winter has been easier than last though I did get some fish-tail practice in a week ago driving back from the bus station, returning from NY. We have less snow (so far) and the temps have been manageable. The blue jays are back and they're ever so pretty to watch at the bird feeder. I absolutely delight in the chick-a-dees of the black-capped variety which also visit. Their sweet song brings pings of happiness across the cold landscape. I answer them back and like to think that their next exclamation is a response but I can't be sure it is. But it's a nice dream. Maybe, you know. Yes, maybe they are responding. There were also some mourning doves by the feeder this week. Theirs is a gentle and reassuring lullaby to my ears.

There are tracks in the snow but I don't know if they are deer or moose or something else on the loose. My neighbors have seen bobcat.

Oh!... the trip to NY. I lost my knitting! Haha, I did. Left it on the bus. I remember getting up to use the restroom and noticed that the plastic bag with my knitting in it was hard to see against the dark floor and I made a note that I'd better pick it up. Well even though I looked around my seat carefully before disembarking it was left behind. Good thing I hadn't made much progress on it yet. I called lost & found but nothing there. Oh well. On to some slippers which I need! :)