Saturday, February 26, 2011

Florida part Deux

While visiting in Florida, I hopped on my friend's bike and rode around neighborhoods, poor, posh, old, new, small houses, smaller houses, messy, neat, cute, ugly. I love looking at architecture around the country and see how different we all live in this vast U. S. of A. Most of the houses in Gainesville sport a porch or if they're newer that 1950, a Florida room, which is off the back of the house.

There were cute little stone houses...

homes with a Spanish influence,

and the truly charming Victorian type houses. I love the double porches, the gingerbread and all the detailing.

These older homes were in an area called the 'Duck Pond' which is where the Sweetwater branch meanders through.

Can't you just see sipping lemonade on the porch in the summer?

Sunshine drove us out to Micanopy, a sleepy, artsy village just 10 miles from Gainesville. I picture myself spending a slow winter here, writing or knitting or felting or spinning...

taking strolls down the live oak lane...

stopping in for a late afternoon glass of wine with friends who live in this house. A girl can dream, can't I?!!

And if my car breaks down, I can take it this old garage to be repaired, except that now it's an antique store.

While walking down an alley, I spotted this old fan and window. Thought the fan looked just like a flower.

Back in Gainesville, I biked by the student ghetto. This was one side of the street..

and this was the other side of the street. The university bought an entire square block, razed all the shacks (giving the owners good money for their property, or so I hear) and put up these pretty stylish student apartments. I have to say that I like these a whole lot better than the fall-y down-y, messy hovels that they tore down. Sometimes progress is a good thing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Frolicking in Florida

It's always nice to get away in February, especially to somewhere warm. I used to live in Gainesville, Florida in the mid-70's and went back to visit friends last week. My girlfriend, Sunshine Plants (yep, that's her real name!) still lives there, right across the street from her daughter, Aowyn. Aowyn is nearly through growing her baby daughter, Satori, so I went down there for the shower.

Getting there was a bit of a problem as I got bumped from my flight. The ticket agent said I was so nice about it (I didn't feel very nice but I didn't yell and scream and carry on like I saw others do...what's the point?) that she gave me not one, but 2 round trip tickets and a meal voucher. Booyah! Instead of having a direct flight, arriving at 12:30, I arrived at 6:00 via Philadelphia. Oh well. But when I went to get the car I had reserved, they wouldn't let me have it because my credit card has a different name than my driver's license. (yea, I'm going to legally change my name now!) I had a little breakdown at the counter, tears, weeping, sobbing, then back on the shuttle to take me to the airport to try to lease a car from the big names like Alamo. Because it was Daytona 500 weekend (whoopdedoo), a car was going to cost me $200 a day. Yea, right. So after more tears and feeling really sorry for myself, I discovered there's a shuttle that will take me right to Gainesville, picking me up just out the doors of the airport. Smile! I even saved $120! Not too bad... 2 free flights, a free burrito and dollars saved. It was just me and the bus driver for 2 hours. Just a little scare when he got lost down a very dark road and had to pull over. I thought, well, this day is going from bad to worse and now they'll find me in a bag alongside the road. But he just needed to look at the map, turn around, and all was good again.

I moved to Florida in 1975 with 3 friends, 3 very large dogs, 10 very cute three-week old puppies, 3 cats and a whole lotta stuff (including 200 deer antlers, explanation to follow) packed into a VW bus (Sunshine's) and a 1964 International Harvester pickup truck (mine). We left Colorado in a blizzard in November, going over a 14,000-foot pass, losing my tire chains as we came down the pass. We went south to Texas and took a left. It was the first time I'd been to the south and my eyes were like saucers and my mouth was agape. I loved the big live oaks with Spanish moss dripping from them, the small 'cracker' houses in the country and rural blacks walking to church along the road in their Sunday hats. I'm not making it up, it was just like a movie. I was young and impressionable and I loved every minute.
We had just $900 between us and we were about to set up a business making deer antler jewelry, sawing the antler into sections and inlaying it with coral, turquoise and shells. At first we settled into a friend's field then found a house to rent (with electricity!). We went to craft festivals and made a go of it for awhile. But I soon found out I was pregnant and we needed just a bit more money for food and gas so my boyfriend and I got a job at a printing place. I started out sort of a faux hippie, but soon blossomed into a full blown hippie. I even had my baby at home, which was a rambling turn-of-the-century Victorian home with 5 porches, 6 bedrooms and vines growing in into the bathroom. I had no midwife as they were illegal at the time. I read books, gave the books to Sunshine and she was right there to catch my boy, Aramin. There were 12 people at the birth, the boys spent the afternoon playing cards and the girls helped a baby come into the world. Someone even made a butterfly 'birth-day' cake.

This is my sweet boy, Aramin who went everywhere with me. After he was born, I soon discovered that I didn't need two babies to take care of, and said sayonara to the father and became a single mom with lots of help from wonderful friends. Sunshine opened a natural foods breakfast restaurant, where I worked as a waitress, making pretty fair money and taking the occasional seashell and love note as tips.

A year later, Sunshine had her baby girl, Aowyn (I attended the birth along with a midwife) and Sunny was also a single mom. Remember, this was Florida and the 70's and we just walked around with bare bellies, full of baby or not. So now I'm celebrating Awoyn's baby, who is due in the next couple weeks. Her name is Satori Kai (Satori means 'enlightenment' and Kai means 'ocean').

Aowyn is just one big smile.

On Friday night some girlfriends hosted a 'Blessingway', a Native American ritual to give a blessing to the new mother to be. We had all brought beads that will be strung on a cord and worn at the birth. We gave a personal blessing/wish as we handed the bead to Aowyn. I had felted an aqua wool bead and embellished it with tiny green and turquoise beads, to symbolise the ocean.

Saturday was the shower/party with about 40 people (men and kids included) attending.

With the 40 people, came about 40 gifts. It took over 2 hours to open them all! She got so many cute clothes, including these little pink crocs. When one of the men would wonder in, I told them that when a gift is opened, the key words were "cute, adorable, darling, ahhhhhhh!" All in all, it was a fine time and even the kids had fun on the moon bounce in the back yard.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dual Deals

After taking some time off, I busted butt last week to catch up. I had two shows in two different places, Yarn on the Farm here at the studio and the other at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Fest. 'Val' greeted the customers while she sported her new heart bra. Ann and another friend, Colleen, ran the show at home. Thanks guys!

The shelves were stocked with color

and plenty of red yarn for Valentine's Day.

Looking forward to spring with new flower jewelry.

I finally finished a shawl out of 'Biggie', the yarn that has 6 different yarns, all dyed at the same time. Pattern available soon.

Drove up north of Pittsburgh Friday, set up the booth and went up to the room and drank wine and went to bed early. My trusty helper, Natalie, came along to sell, sell, sell and keep me company.

Sunday was my class on nuno felting a scarf. I laid out all the fiber, wool, glitz, silk, mohair, locks and the women chose the color of the scarf and the coordinating fiber. I had 18 in the class, which is my largest yet so even this took a bit of time.

The silk chiffon scarf is laid out on bubble wrap, the wool is put down...

...then the fun glitzy embellishments are sprinkled on throughout, wet it all down, roll it up and start rolling slowing then faster as it starts to felt.

and out comes some beautiful art-to-wear scarves!

The emcee for the fashion show was Steven Be (really Steven Berg but he dropped the 'rg'). Quite a character, sorta rock starish, bejeweled, knitter guy. He really pushes the idea of knitting with anything linear. This cardigan he's wearing is knit mostly with black cotton, but the neck, wrists and scattered throughout are old telephone cords and cable. There are also flat circles of foam knitted on as embellishments. I also saw a sweater made out of video tape. He caused quite a stir amongst the traditional knitters.
Arriving home Sunday night, I was glad it was all over, but also happy to meet more wonderful, creative women. Now for a little vacation!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Poconos Winter

Girl trip! Bev, Ann and I traveled up to Marie and Bob's farm ('Funny Farm') in the Poconos in Pennsylvania for 4 days this week. It was perfect timing as both travel days were bookends to the big winter storm that hit us. We were snuggled in, warm and toasty with all the food and wine that we brought and all the provisions that Marie and Bob make. The last time we made this trek we worked for a couple days helping with the maple sugaring. I blogged about it here.

Together again after nearly 3 years!

The road in front of their house was nearly impassable.

Marie and Bob are true homesteaders. They make all their own cheese and yogurt, raise all their meat and eggs, weave all their rugs and curtains, grow and can all their vegetables, make their own wine and beer (and moonshine!). I did see storebought coffee though.

An angel oversees the property, keeping all the critters safe.

Let me introduce you to some of the animals... This is Bruce, who has deemed himself an inside dog, in fact, a couch dog. I asked him to look happy for the photo, but he just looks pensive.

and Pecan, who I called Peanut the entire time, was trying to keep her eyes open for the pic. Marie has rescued both these dogs and given them the run of the house and property. Not exactly farm dogs, but they keep Marie and Bob company.

I thought all these ducks on their pond were wild and had just made their way to the bit of water that hadn't frozen. But they are all 'Funny Farm' ducks.

They have quite a menagerie of goats...

more goats...

and big guy goat

more goats outside

Seamus and Frank



Didn't catch the peacock's name.

and Penny the pea hen.

As I went on my little walkabout, Barn E Cat was ahead of me a bit.

Hey Barn E! How about going in and keepin' the couch warm?


Well, sure!

OK, I'm here...

How bout that couch?

Once inside, hot, shrimp and coconut soup awaited. mmmmm

I tore this recipe out just before leaving and thought I'd make it for us. Yea, sometimes I cook. I thought mine looked just like the picture.

We sat in Marie's kitchen/dining room overlooking the two ponds, the ducks, the grey barn and watched it snow. Bev worked on felt flowers, I worked on felt balls...

...and knit these child's bloomers. Ann knit handwarmers and organized her decades of recipes into a filing system and Marie told us funny stories and kept us company. She usually weaves but her big loom was in another room so she took a couple days off to entertain us.

Upon leaving, Marie and Bob sent us all home with smoked cheese, ricotta, cream, yogurt, cream cheese, blueberry jam, and hot pepper jelly, all lovingly made by them. We're planning on going back this summer for more cheese! Thanks guys, now get busy!