Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Road hogs

This has been an interesting year for road encounters. I travel a winding and hilly road daily down into the valley, into the village. Significant improvements were made about six years ago that banked the curves such that the forty mile per hour speed limit could be stretched by fifteen or twenty under good conditions and especially when some fool behind thought he had more power. On the flip side, lagging behind some timid soul who braked for every curve and dip was payback.

The most road caution required, though, is not other motor vehicles, but for the majority users, the road hogs.

Bicycles. My little two lane county road to work and back every day runs primarily through a heavily wooded area of the national park. Once I thought the most obnoxious road hogs were the spandexed, two wheeling variety who defy traffic laws in general and rules of the road in particular. But their orange and lime green assault on the eyes notwithstanding, and their ability to detain a train of cars as a pair ignores the bicycle lane and labors two abreast uphill pales. I’ve encountered worse road hogs this summer.

Deer. Of course. I've rounded many a bend and encountered the generation of deer entitled to cross the road without looking. Honestly, caution seems bred out this year as groups, probably teenagers, stroll casually across two lanes.

Squirrels. I brake for animals. Deer of course, can put me and my car out of commission, so, certainly, stop. But where did the super abundance of squirrels come from? There is no dodging a squirrel; that’s only playing straight into their suicidal bent. (Or, is that lemmings? No matter.) I deserve a commendation for saving countless squirrel lives this summer by stopping my vehicle, waiting for a squirrel to make up its mind. Do you know squirrels run hesitantly forward and back until they make eye contact with the human, then they run like the wind, one way or the other off the road. The trick is to make eye contact with the squirrel in front before being rear ended by an enthusiastic driver behind.

Birds. Specifically, European Starlings. Most of us have looked up in awe at a murmuration of birds, dancing in waves across the sky. Not long ago I turned onto Truxell Road and stopped dead for a troupe of European Starlings, practicing, across a hundred square feet of golf course rough and two lanes of road. I could not drive through. Eventually I put the car in park and cut the engine and waited. Cars on the cross road stopped and some folks got out with cameras. I didn't. Up close and personal I found them as obnoxious as the colorful birds on bicycles.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I don’t know how this one ended

On the way to the bank in Hudson not too many years back I saw an accident. I was in the left lane, as the right lane was a turn only one block later. I stopped for the red light at the highway and the freeway exit. I was four or five cars back. A motorcycle policeman was stopped for the red light at the end of the expressway.

My eastbound light turned green and at the same time the policeman was lights and sirens; a westbound car sped through the red light I had stopped for.  In my lane brake lights went off, then on again as the policeman started into the intersection. Suddenly there was the screech of brakes from a high speed, a Jeep in the curb lane failed to stop, hit the policeman.

The officer and the bike went down in slow motion. An old biker myself, I knew the strength holding that bike as long as possible. Unbelievably, the policeman rose, began walking toward the Jeep and talking into his shoulder radio simultaneously.

There were enough able bodied adults around, I decided, they did not need a grandmother with a cane on the road too, so I followed my line of traffic on into Hudson and went to the bank. But when I got home I did call the police to say I’d seen the accident. Of the ten to fifteen drivers who saw it, except for the driver of the Jeep, I was the only witness who came forward.

I was interviewed by the State Highway Patrol, which investigates accidents between police and civilians. The questions were excellent; well presented. I believe everything I saw and answered was in the officer’s favor, except my statement about the officer stopping before he entered the intersection. I had no difficulty answering that one; I saw him pause long enough to be sure those of us in line did not start up. I could not swear his feet were on the ground, but to me it made no difference. I saw him pause and assess, and I was mighty fine myself at balancing my bike at a light, back in the day.

I asked an officer friend the outcome some time later, and learned both the officer and the Jeep driver were cited, the officer for not stopping in the intersection! Completely unfair in my estimation, but I don’t make the rules.

I assumed it was the end of the story, until several months later an insurance company called me, and began reviewing the transcript of my interview with the State Highway Patrol. It was the officer’s insurance company; the Jeep driver was suing him for pulling out in front, causing great bodily injury and damage to his Jeep.

Another business like interview, I was unable to interject any personal opinion. The insurance attorney was quickly wrapping it up, thanking me for confirming what I had seen.

“Wait, wait!” I finally was able to say. “You haven’t asked what I heard!”  I explained in conjunction with watching the officer I had heard a car accelerating rapidly, behind me. Twenty odd years experience on this road, I knew the unseen driver turned the corner onto the road, saw the line of traffic stopped at the light and floored it, intent on reaching the head of the line and moving into the through lane in the two block run before the right lane ran out. The next thing I heard after the revving engine was the screech of brakes from high speed, and then I saw the crash as the Jeep moved into my line of vision, one block before its lane ended.

I've never asked how this ended, because I just don’t want to know. There probably was a settlement, the insurance company probably paid out, the officer probably wakes up stiff and sore from his injuries and the lying piece of entitlement driving the Jeep probably is not rotting in prison.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Forlorn heron

I took an hour before the PT class this afternoon
to find a new header picture.

Leaves are beginning to turn color, 

But are disappointing to date.
Too much green.


Although the sky is a great blue.

I thought this shot of gold leaves in the sun
might look good in a header.

 I passed the willow at the end of the pond on my way to class,
and thought it might work,
although it's fallen from my favor due to its untidy appearance.

On the way home, bonanza!
This heron (I assume I am seeing the same bird, over and over),
stood his ground and watched me warily for at least two minutes
before he showed me his back and strolled around the end of the pond.

I've seen one heron at this pond over and over this summer.
Just guessing, but I think it's a youngster.
The two big rookeries are within five miles of here.

There are several sycamores at the other end of the pond,
which seems to be the nesting tree of preference in the valley.

I'll try to keep track of it.
It's a great blue heron, and they do not migrate,
although I have no idea what they do with themselves all winter.
Perhaps we'll see. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The colchium report

Only two years ago Dad's "air blooming lilies" were crowded in a weed infested bed by the porch.
Moving them was part of the great garden makeover.
They had multiplied so in thirty years that every shovel full brought up half a dozen bulbs.

We replanted hundreds, and gave away a hundred or two more.
They are all reported to be blooming now.
Some have been through adventures.

At least two friends set them aside
And later found the persistent little bulbs exploding from the bag!
One sent me a picture.

 This is the second year in the new home in the garden.
They get along well with the woolly thyme.

And the yuccas.
There is no stopping yuccas, either.

The chipmunk nibbled the first crocus up,
But now there are just too many to keep up.

Many of the bulbs have doubled.

A colchium abundance.

Pig still has his impatiens.

This week's towels. Natural.
I find I don't like them as well as I thought I would,
All texture and no tone.
So utilitarian. So Shaker.
But, it is what it is.

And I picked out a cone of colchium to finish the warp.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Guess what happened on the way to the prom

I asked Emily if she would like her hair trimmed;
She said actually, it would be a cut!
Skeptical sister.

A pleasant young hairdresser asked several times if Emily wanted it that short.

She did!

On to the florist to pick up her date's boutonniere.
Tonight is the homecoming dance.

"Keep it in the crisper section of the refrigerator."

The haircut, the boutonniere, the finger.

Her cousin Caitie, "doing makeup."

Skeptical sister.

I believe only one girlfriend was in on the haircut secret.
It will be a surprise appearance.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not the NFL, but…

Emily came in from school Tuesday and showed me her finger. The middle one.  She and her friends had hugged goodbye and were moving toward school busses. She hangs with an extraordinary bunch of huggers! A girl Emily knows from band asked for a hug, too. Moving in the line into the bus, Emily said no and the girl aimed a kick that Emily deflected with her hand. Bent the middle finger right back, Emily said.

Dr. Grandma diagnosed a well stoved finger. In addition to ice, we rounded up a finger splint so old the foam had dried and fallen away. The splint was resuscitated and applied, and I told Emily to go to the school nurse the next day and report the injury.

The report I received from Emily when she came in Wednesday night was completely unexpected. The nurse offered her pain meds and sent her along. She had a test in another class, explained her problem to the teacher and was told to do her best, writing with the injured digit. The same thing happened in another class.  In spite of complete information on the cause of the injury, three teachers and the nurse took a pass.

School is closed for the day by the time these end of the liners get off the bus. I knew I would be making a phone call first thing Thursday morning, but gave school a last chance. Emily had band practice Wednesday night and I told her to tell the band director, who had not been there during the day. The band director (you remember her!) sent Emily along, telling her she could just march with her flute at the game Friday.

Thursday morning I was on the school website looking for a counselor to call when I received a call from a principal. Emily had just left his office; her friends had convinced her she was doing all the heavy lifting over a damaged finger that wasn't her fault, she must see the principal.

The principal told me the staff involved would be retrained, the other girl would be disciplined and Emily should report any incidents in future to his office, even if it meant missing the school bus home. I told the principal I considered Emily’s teachers her first line of defense; I was not happy they did not come to her aid.

Emily filled in the details Thursday night. The other girl received two days in-school suspension and must play her instrument from the sidelines while the band marches at halftime tonight. Apparently playing your instrument from the sidelines with the band on the field is a mark of shame.

We saw the doctor today; x-rays show no break. Ice and routine finger flexing and a supporting splint is the protocol for recovery. Sadly, well stoved fingers recover slowly, and Emily will be paying the flute playing and class note and test taking price for some time.

I stopped at the drugstore tonight after I dropped Emily and Joe off to march at the football game and got her a new splint for the homecoming dance tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Current events

Another sign eating weed,
and a golf cart.

Looking down one of the irregular sandstone sidewalks in town.
Too bad it was trash day.

Laura started after school art lessons.
We "practiced" her ten minute walk from school
before the first lesson,

But of course Grandma showed up the very first time,
to be sure.

In future I won't embarrass her,
and only pick her up after class.

And Hazel and Tony are here for a two week visit.
We certainly need a bigger British flag!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The kitchen towel drawer

The kitchen was not large in the house where I grew up.  It was remodeled after I left; the refrigerator swapped with the stove, yielding counter and prep room.  But when I grew up no one thought about those kinds of things.  Mom cooked on a stove standing alone in a corner and the first refrigerator I remember was an ice box on the front porch.

We were put to work at an early age.  I remember sitting on the counter, drying dishes my mother put into the drainer at my right elbow and stacking them on the counter at my left.  Mom would put the dry dishes into the cupboard when she finished washing up.

All children in turn, then grandchildren, spent time sitting on the counter for a job.  Another counter job was to put peach halves face down in to a quart jar, my mother’s canning method.  The peaches spiraled around until the jar filled and the next jar started.  The years there were fork tine holes in the canned peaches were the years mom had no child available whose small hand fit into the quart jar and left a peach behind.  
The kitchen towel drawer was the last drawer before the back door.  Folding clothes was a job assigned at an early age, and there was only one way to fold towels in my mom’s kitchen.  In thirds.  The towel went on a flat surface, was folded in thirds lengthwise, then in thirds again; a compact little bundle that could be stacked two or three towels high, two towels across, four or five towels deep. 

We did not mess with the system.  Bad towel folding was among the few things that irritated mom. Shoving towels in the back to avoid the routine could have you folding towels long after bedtime, lifted from slumber and sent to the kitchen to correct the oversight.

When I kept my own house towels were not folded in thirds unless my mom was visiting and took it upon herself to redo the entire drawer.  When we all moved in together the subject came up again.  Jan and I both said towels could be folded in any manner that pleased the folder. You know how mom folded the kitchen towels she washed.

And then there were the sheets.  Mother owned more sheets than were in a department store and rotated them.  When we changed our beds, almost weekly as I remember, we had to take clean sheets from the bottom of the sheet stack in the linen closet.  When we folded and put away the laundry the clean sheets went on top of the stack. 

I always took my clean sheets from the top of the stack and mentally defied mom to figure it out.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tea towels, 201

Several blogging friends have referred to my common dish towels as tea towels, which means the same thing and is much more alliterative, so it is the title.

Dish towels are made from linen or cotton fabric. The former do not dry well, but also do not scratch, and make silver and glass sparkle. Cotton towels are far less expensive than linen, but sadly carry the reputation of drying poorly.

I wonder if this has been a common complaint the last seventy or eighty years, since non shrinking cotton fabrics were invented. Fabrics processed commercially not to shrink, and fabric softeners, which coat fibers chemically, have been the demise of the common dish towel.

The majority of the threads we bought to weave were siphoned from the great manufacturing process before any or many chemical alterations had occurred. We purchased from brokers, who bought of lots of unsold thread, and supplied it to third world economies. This was back in the day there still were spinning factories in this country. I just realize how little I know of current cotton thread manufacture. Probably the same as when the mills were in our south; now they are in India, Pakistan, Korea.

For various reasons the threads had not gone on to additional processing, such as mercerizing, a sodium hydroxide treatment that makes thread stronger and shiny. Of course I nosed into back stories with my brokers, knew which manufacturers had rejected a lot, or didn’t get it for want of paying a bill. So many stories. We bought great thread for weaving fabric on our hand looms. Buy low, sell high, as they say.

Highly processed pearl cotton. Lovely, doesn't absorb moisture.
Donated it to the Art Academy

Because the thread came from the front end of the manufacturing process, we could treat it however we wished, which was minimaly. We weren't out to own a weaving factory, just to make pretty fabrics for great clothing. We turned the web, the woven stuff off the loom, into fabric by fulling, a wetting and pounding operation as old as weaving. We used the washer and the dryer.

The cotton fabrics were back to basics; cool in the summer because they breathed, warm in the winter as an insulating layer. And because there were few or no added chemicals, the stuff absorbed water.

My youngest daughter downsized her storage unit bill and I was the recipient of a dozen cartons of thread she kept, to weave with some day. And the shelving they were on in storage. Bonanza. Emily, Laura and I sorted it out today. Lots of natural for the next towel warp; some variety of colors for more colored towels, and an entire shelf that looks like a fabric warp to me. There may be cotton jackets in my future.

A jumble out of the boxes

Which annoyed the two budding artists so much they had it unscrambled in short order.

This week's red towels, leaving two by two in tomorrow's post.
I do hope we will see pictures of where they live.

Next week's natural towels.

The warp is almost gone!

The director of the Art Academy asked me if I'd consider a workshop in sectional warping. I will. Another opportunity to ask the universe for a 36" LeClerc counterbalance, four harness, six treadle, please.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Picture of the Year

The girls are back in school, leaves are coming down, much of the flower garden looks ready to be put to bed, we're looking forward to a harder winter than last year and road salt ten dollars a ton higher. My mind is looking forward to the end of the year, and looking back for a picture of 2014 to post on my side bar.

I realize I don't have that picture. If I did, it would be Carly and me. But, I don't. Carly is my personal trainer, who looked at me and the black eye and the cane last February and informed me I simply needed my core back and she would see to that.

I've taken some pictures over the year, but not of the studio, or the twice weekly sessions. I started with one pound weights. Carly called them pacifiers. That's what she called my cane, too. It lives in my car now, and I do twenty five reps of whatever I'm doing with an eight pound weight in each hand.

We've met most of her goals, except for riding bicycles down the towpath trail. My head is still not ready. "Hmpfh," she snorts. "We will be riding next spring." I'm sure she's right.

If a picture of two old women shows up, and one of them is fit as a fiddle and the other is me, that will be the picture. In the meantime, here are some pictures I've taken since last February.

Carly's studio is on the left end of the building, the windows at the very top. The rest is apartments, businesses, and a luxury residential suite on the right. It was the apartment of the man who bought up much of Peninsula to save it from development and zoned it into a kind of Brigadoon while he was alive. His foundation rents the apartment as a sort of get away to people who can afford it.

The first fifteen steps. Plus two not photographed.
The spruce up there on the right is lovely to smell on the way by.

Seventeen steps to the first landing.

An elevator. But, you must find Artie, the building manager,
to activate it in the basement.

And the elevator stops at the top of the first flight.

There are still sixteen more stairs to the studio.
I've never taken the elevator.

Looking up at the ceiling and skylights from this staircase.

Looking down at someone's door.
That will be me tomorrow afternoon,
Climbing fifty stairs, 
Water bottle and gym shoes over my shoulder,
because Carly is determined we will ride bikes come spring.