Monday, January 30, 2012


 We all value community and out here in the country, we seem to really rely on our neighbors and friends. We've been in this area since 1980, and in our house nearly 30 years. We've shopped at our local (local being 6 miles away in the town of Poolesville) market for that entire time. Selby's has been in business for 65 years and has been a small town grocery store and part of the coummunity for all those decades. We'd shop there weekly, visit with friends that we would see in the aisles, with Roy Selby greeting us as we came in and we always felt welcomed. There were times that I forgot my checkbook (remember those?!) and the cashier would just say, "Bring the money in the next time honey." Baggers would take your groceries to the car. If you wanted a special item, you'd just ask Roy and he would get it for you. Service with a smile.

 Sad to say though, Selby's has just closed as of Saturday. With more grocery stores opening closer to us and more folks commuting, Selby's couldn't keep up. We are all so sad to see them shutter and not have that personal and 'small town' feel any longer. I will really miss them.

Another change that recently happened is that our local veternarian, Chet Anderson, or 'Chet the vet' as we call him, has retired after 45 years. He's our own James Herriot, tending to our animals, both great and small, bright and beautiful. I don't know a family who hasn't owned an animal out here and everyone has had Chet as their vet. Even the animals liked going there! Chet knew everyone and  asked what your kids were up to and how your blind dog was getting on. I've had countless dogs, cats, sheep, goats, lizards, hamsters waiting in their reception area. When I couldn't get a big old sheep in the truck, Chet and an assistant would bring their gear and do a farm visit. They helped one of my ewes give birth after a long and troublesome time, soothing her with kind words. My first sheep I had got quite ill and spent a week at the clinic. Aramin and I would go in daily to visit and they'd take us to her room in the back where she was tucked in with fresh straw and update us on her condition along with her preferences. "She doesn't like us touching her rump, but she loves having her nose scratched."  Another time I had a bottle lamb that the mom had rejected and it had gotten bloat. They came right over and stuck a sharp object right in his side, creating a hole (yikes!) and squeezed the air out. He actually felt much better.

But best of all, Chet would come over to quietly put your loved furry member of your family down. I was so grateful for this service when I had to have Tasman put down. It was so hard, but the pain was eased somewhat by having him 'go to sleep' where he laid every day and night.
There was a big retirement party for Chet on Sunday, held at the Barnesville Pavillion. Nearly 1000 people came to wish Chet farewell. He touched so many lives in so many ways. A kind and gentle man, our animals were fortunate to have him working his magic on them. He has left the practice in capable hands though and it is still a pleasure to go to Peachtree Vet. Chet will keep busy bird watching, hiking and tending to his own animals. Happy retirement, Chet!

In our community we share a UPS man. His name is Joe and he's a special guy too. He brings wonderful packages to our door. Joe goes the extra mile (literally) and knows where to leave the large boxes from Montgomery Mills (down the outside basement steps) or Amazon boxes (inside the back door) or Knitting Fever (in the studio). I didn't ask him to do this, he just does it. In a small sign of thanks, I knit him a brown wool hat. Our last UPS man, Runnin' Ron (who delivered our packages for over 20 years) was our hero too. When he retired about 10 years ago, we held a huge retirement party for him too. Hundreds of people showed up at a local bank barn, with food, music and merriment. Little brown toy UPS  trucks were handed out. We miss Ron but Joe has definetly filled Ron's brown shoes.
All this just reminds me how lucky we are to live in such a caring community.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

India Girls

The last Monday of every month is our spinning meeting. This past Monday was a special treat as Marcia, Nancy and Beckie regaled us with their stories of their trip to India. Nancy's daughter is living in India for two years and arranged for the four of them to visit working artisans where they live and work.
They spent 3 weeks traveling around, gathering information on ancient dye techniques, watching people create beautiful things, and of course buying amazing goods.

Hand embroidered pillow

Beautiful quilts

cloth checkboard and seed stitched game pieces
Dyed silk scarf. Notice the tiny bluish dots. Those were made by gathering the material around very tiny seed beads and sewing them in. Then the fabric was dyed and the beads carefully removed. I cannot imagine the time this took and how they cut the seed beads out without cutting into the scarf.

Here is that technique again. wow, wow, wow!

This is all hand embroidered, black thread on white fabric.

The piece was covered with whimsical creatures.
hand dyed silk and hand embroidered

This type of stamping on material is called 'bandini' and is where our bandana fabric comes from.
hand woven silks

These rolling pins and spoons were coated in lac, which is a resinous secretion from various insects. The women watched the family make these by getting the lac hot, then spinning the wooden part while laying on the hot resin in these wonderful patterns.

We were called to lunch by these handcrafted bells.

And what a lunch it was! We were looking forward to this for weeks as Marsha and Becky are gourmet cooks and they whipped up about a dozen Indian dishes for us to try.

Indian food is my second favorite type of food (right behind Thai) and they did not disappoint.

We sampled their lasse, both sweet and spicy.
A slide show of the artisans, the scenery and some of the people they met showed us an insiders view of this amazing country. Thanks to the three of them for a very entertaining day and sharing their experiences with us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I am so lucky to have girlfriends around here (Barnesville) AND in Western Maryland. Because we have another home in Cumberland, I've met heaps of women up there. There's a huge artsy community and a well organized biking community so meeting folks was easy. But to have these women welcome you into their fold, is really special.

Last week we celebrated Macee's birthday by whisking her away to Garrett County for a fun day of visiting AnnaBellePetuniaHead's studio, going out for lunch, antiquing and gathering artisan cheeses from a new cottage industry in Accident, Maryland.  We spent hours on this rainy day at the foothills of the ski area Wisp. The folks there wish the rain would have been snow.  Canoe on the Run is a great little coffee/cafe house serving up frothy java and panini.

 I love, love, love coffee. A day without coffee would be a day in the ER. I am soooo addicted!

 It would be nice to sit here and watch the snow fall, sipping a grande espresso, half caf, soy, non-fat, latte, whip, extra hot! Oh, and with a crescent with organic strawberry/rhubarb jam with a bit of hand churned butter and pear tree honey. (But this isn't Portlandia!)
 The birthday girl, Macee, enjoyed the yarn bowl (even though she wore it as a hat here) and her hand knit handwarmers. The bowl was actually made from leftover yarn from the handwarmers.  Macee was formerly known as Mary, but that was much too plain for this lively girl, so Seal and I decided to change it to Macee and it stuck.

And this is Celeste, formerly another Mary. Too much personality for 'Mary' so now we call her Celeste. She's also modeling her new handwarmers and the same hat/bowl.

One of the guy artists in Cumberland got Seal, Celeste and me mixed up. We said that all us Curly Haired White Bitches look alike. I see a few differences but we all have that curly hair going on. What a great day with the girls. And more to come this weekend as my Barnesville girlfriends are coming to partay with the Cumberland girls. Crack open the wine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter White

 Since it hasn't snowed outside, I decided I needed some white stuff inside. Usually I'm all about the color, but white has its place. It's soothing, gives the eye a place of rest and is quite popular right now, according to some designers.
  So I did a 'Re-purpose Redesign' and went for a look-see around the farm, in the closets, in the basement and even outdoors. Our loft in the barn is stacked with doors, shutters and windows, collected from our local 'beauty spot' (dump), saved from our own renovations and some found.

 I found plenty of white stuff, actually way too much and had a good time arranging and rearranging.
I brought these windows, formerly in the sunroom, down from the loft and cleaned them up.
This angel is made out of old corrugated metal, by a rural artist north of Frederick.

 I spend way too much time on Pinterest, an amazing online pinboard, where you can see pretty things, get ideas and 'file' them onto boards. I searched 'white' and these were just a few of the images that came up.

 Love that mirror...

 See, a window on the mantle....that's cool!

 Next I'm putting together this centerpiece. It's an old chicken feeder (which I have and I don't even have to steal it from my hens) with pine cones and candles.
Enjoy your winter by doing some re-design. Ciao!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Resolution: More Fiber

More fiber, more better. I made this nuno shawl for a friend who had given me back a spinning wheel that she had bought from me nearly 15 years ago. She said she didn't use it, dropped it off and said "Merry Christmas!" 

To attempt to pay her back a little bit, I made this nuno felt shawl for her. 

She's a wee bit of a thing, very pretty and I picture her in these soft pastels.

Here it is laid out before the felting process. Wisps of mohair, wool, tencel, silk and sheep locks.

I included a felt brooch with it in. I'm taking it over today so I hope she likes it!

 A few months back I tried to arrange 'Craft Days' with my girlfriends. We'd take turns coming up with a project, getting the supplies and teaching it. Well, life got too busy and we didn't get around to it. Until last Friday.

Just three of us got together to have a 'Pinterest Challenge'. If you don't know what Pinterest is, go check it out. It's fabulous! My treat to myself every day is to spend some time on this site (usually before I go to bed so I can dream of new projects). I get so many ideas from all the clever people out there. And this was one of them.

Yarn bowls. Pick out a bowl, turn it upside down, wrap in plastic wrap, make a paper mache paste, dip yarn into paste and wrap the bowl. Easy peasy. I have quite a stash of yarn (duh!) but we didn't really use very much.

We let them dry overnight (it took a long time, even on the radiator) and I have to say, they turned out great! This would be a fun project with kids too. So now I want to do many more. They'd look cute with a bunch of felt balls in them.  So get crafting!