Saturday, October 31, 2015

She got wet, coming and going

Emily takes a community service class at school. I’ll skip the WTForks here; suffice it to say they now teach doing good. An aside, though—I once asked a gentleman caller to the house, to pass time waiting for his date, what he did around his house; did he mow the grass? The look was true deer in the headlights and finally he said “No.”  Dummy me; in Hudson the lawn services block the roads five days a week with huge trailers holding industrial riding mowers and crews of men who mow grass for a living.

But, I digress. Two half days a week Emily assists in an elementary school classroom. There’s something hinky about this, too. I paid a $400 class fee for Emily to learn to do good, on top of every other school fee and 49 mills of school property taxes, so the school district can take a pass on a teacher’s assistant for the equivalent of one day out of five.

And while I’m at it, there seems to be an unwritten rule in this school district: anyone old enough to drive a car may. I’m sure the parents pay the additional two grand a year for car insurance, as well as providing Johnny a car and gas money. The point is, almost every one of them has a car. Emily, however, has no license and no car. This was another problem, apparently never encountered before in this school district.

When Emily was registering for her classes last spring she explained the service class to me and asked if she could ride with someone. My rule is unchanged; if she could not walk, she needed to find a different class. The teacher called me. She would select a conscientious classmate who drives. 

“Think again, my dear; she can walk or find an alternate class.”

“But the elementary school is just over a mile from the high school.”

“Not too bad; she can be there in twenty minutes.”

“What if the weather is really bad.” At this point Emily had spent a season working ski lifts in blinding snow and below zero weather. I held my phone at arm’s length, tapped my head on my desk a couple of times, them responded, “We’ll deal with that when it happens. If I learn she ever gets in a car with another student, she will spend the remainder of your class in study hall.”

It rained on and off most of this past week, and Wednesday it was on, all day. I picked Emily up after school, from book club, and asked how it went getting to the elementary school.  The rain was in her face all the way there and the front of her jeans was wet, though they dried before she walked back to the high school. The backs of her legs were wet this time, and she sat through book club on wet jeans, though they seemed pretty dry by now.

We’re building character, here.

This is the class, by the way, in which her little charges are drawing quilt blocks for her to make. I went into the studio tonight to take a picture of the progress.

When she turned it over she said, “Darn, I sewed a row upside down.”

“How can you tell?”

“The names…….oh well.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The camera had an outing today

 Today I set out to take pictures,
after a stop at the gallery to get a sense of what to do next.

This is right in my own backyard; the place my brother-in-law used to split logs.
His first major purchase after a snow blower, twenty odd years ago,
was a log splitter.

The old place has developed its own ecosystem.

I stopped at the gallery first, but I'm saving it to the end.

I stopped in Boston Park.
One of the trustees keeps it planted or decorated in season.
I have not seen it this year. It must have been a stunner all summer,
and is pretty cool right now, with pumpkins and gords in the vines.

Spruce needles in the sandstone walks.

And a purple leaf in the needles.

This is an abandonded road I haven't been up in years.
Just taking a look, and I pulled off the road to take this in.

Another tree for my collection!

My section was completely rearranged when I went in.
Look how cozy!
Diane said she was pleased I was pleased.

And while I stood there I sold a triange mobeus wrap to a customer,
who turned and hugged me on learning I was "the artist!"
I'm just the weaver, who needs to make more of them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Things I never thought I’d have to not know how I know

I read a little piece on Facebook today, 47 things you didn’t know that ruined your life. I only remember one, so I’ll save it for the end.

It reminded me of a township learning experience I survived, and can now apply to being a modern grandmother in charge of two of them. Several years ago the township put up a website. It wasn’t the format I wanted or by the webmaster I preferred, but it’s a nice little thing and I have grown fond of it.

We have most of the books of record of the township, back to its founding in 1811. The oldest books are entirely handwritten in bound volumes, and were professionally scanned to upload. In 1935 the township had a typewriter, and books of record of minutes became typewritten documents that I could access one at a time and scan to upload.

So began my self imposed project of scanning seventy odd years of minutes for our website. I did this back in 2010, and the scanner I had treated the documents as photos. I used another program to save them to a file and another program to convert them to pdf’s, to upload. Until some Word version came along and let me make pdf’s of Word files, all the uploaded minutes are watermarked “created by pdffactory,” a free program I was too cheap to purchase the real version of.

I finished the project and thought no more of it until one missing book of minutes turned up recently and needed scanned and uploaded. In the interim, all programs, processes and equipment I knew were swapped out several times over. Try as I might, I could not figure out how to turn several pages into a pdf document, short of buying (and learning!) the Adobe program.

One day I noticed that all email correspondence with attachments, from our attorney, were in pdf format. “How do you do that, Ed,” I immediately wanted to know. Damned if he knew; he put the document in the scanner to be scanned to email and it came out in pdf. Magic.

A very short period of trial and error and I could scan a document to an email I would never send; open the document from the email and save it to a file. Bonanza! I scanned and uploaded the old minute book, and to celebrate, saved township documents that seemed to be misplaced often to flash drives. I had a moment of small triumph when Cuyahoga Falls couldn’t find an original of the now twelve year old JEDD agreement and they needed to see how House Bill xyz will affect our tax agreement. “Let me send you that. What email address should I use?”

Now Emily has begun applying for scholarships, and we are in the murky place my dad bitterly called “looking down the length of my pocketbook.”  For the first application, due November 3rd, I had to provide my 2012 and 2013 1099 only and 2014 complete tax package.  Don’t tell the IRS, but I already sent my 2012 tax return to the great god of shredding, so I turned to my long suffering accountant, George. It all came back, lickity split.

I saved 2012 and 13 to a file, and stared at 2014 in dismay. Page after page, one at a time, exactly as George sent to the great cloud. I tried putting them in a folder and attaching that, electronically. Of course it doesn’t work that way. Eventually I printed all the pages for an attempt at pdf-ing them today on our home printer/scanner. Jan and I sat down to the job after lunch—the scanner answers to her computer and I have no idea where she stashes its programs.

The first attempt obviously failed; the scanner sent all the papers straight through in a very disgusted “get these things out of my tray” fashion. I gathered them up, thinking where I could go to email them to me. “Wait, wait,” Jan said. “I hit the cancel button on that job, not start.”

The second time the papers went through exactly as scanned documents do, and the email program fired up and there was my attached document, awaiting only my instructions on the recipient—me. I hit send and went down to my computer to open it up and save my final document. It wasn’t there. Back to the other computer. I had overlooked Outlook’s picky little moment of needing the send/receive command on its site, too. Damn programs.

I have attached and sent the last bit of info required of me for this scholarship. Emily is still working on her part. If all is not there by November 3rd, won’t be my fault.

So, the 47 things I didn’t know that ruined my life and I only recall one of: the number on the toaster dial is not the degree of goodness you’re toasting to, it’s the minutes—a mini timer.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Still chasing autumn

I took my camera, yesterday, on the way to drop off a couple more things at the gallery.

The sun was shining on everything.

Across the lake.
We've lost so many trees to emerald ash borer.

More dead ash trees.
Our considerable stock of wood for the studio stove for the last couple of winters has been ash trees cleared out from neighboring properties.

Another stop, another maple.

 Pictures don't do this oak all its due.

My favorite over arching. I've presented it in all seasons. 

From the other side. The cable company has no idea how I despise that cable, especially knowing no one watches TV any more.

From the underside. There were twice as many leaves yesterday; however, the weather was half as lovely.

When I dropped off my two things at the gallery, Diane, the owner was there.
"Let me help you, what do you need?" she said.
"Just a couple of hangers. I can get them." (From my tub of empty hangers in the bin in the back room.)
"No, here, I got them. Look, two right on top, not put away from the last that was sold."

I may like the looks of my check at month's end.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Buy low, sell high

The chief part of weaving is the thread for the loom. When I started up again, it was not too difficult to round up the basic supplies. People who used to weave for us, like Ann and my daughters, still had boxes of the stuff. Not boxes and boxes, but boxes. Not a big palette, but enough.  I put it all on three or four shelves in the laundry room, and thought I had plenty to be getting on with.

In the old days, after I discovered thread jobbers, there was plenty of thread. I’d call and big boxes came in a few days. Beautiful mill ends from the cotton sweater factories, from the cotton afghan factories in the south, or in New England.  Always plenty for the imagination of my sister to put together to weave into beautiful cotton fabric.

Once at show in North Carolina I had a great conversation with an executive from a well known clothing manufacturer who had been “drug” to the show by his wife. Rather wistfully he showed his wife our different weaves and textures, telling her “we used to do this here.” He had just finished overseeing the move to Indonesia of a large spinning plant their company used.

As our weaving career wound down, so did American spinning and knitting mills, though there was no relationship one to the other.  Socks went to China. Ordinary fabric went to India. Poof, like dandelion fluff, cotton products left this country.  

One good thing about the stock of thread I have left, aside from the cost, is the conundrum I must solve every time I put together a new warp. In the old days Jan and I would go to the barn with our trash bins on wheels, put a range of shades in the bins, go back to the studio and wind a hundred pounds of thread onto the back of a loom. Now I need to make five or six pounds of thread look equally as fun, and there are only so many ways to shade a bunch of natural cotton.

Sourcing inexpensive cotton thread in this second decade of the twenty first century is close to impossible. I can buy it from India, thousand pound minimum order. Haha. The jobbers in this country have no cotton to sell. All the odds and ends we once bought for $2 a pound are no more!

The weaving supply houses in this country, who cater to hobby weavers, import thread they have dyed for them. The thousand pound minimum order stuff, which they put onto one pound cones in house and sell, starting at $18 a pound. I’ve bought a few cones and it’s not the beautiful ring spun of cotton sweaters or coverlets. I’m sure the beautiful stuff is still being spun somewhere, but out of my price range.

Trolling the internet for thread is amusing. I have EBay on a constant search. It mostly returns the $18 a pound stuff from the last paragraph, from the same shops, but for $12 a pound and $5 shipping. I won’t weave with that stuff, but I do have a great end game plan: trolling the internet for old weavers with left over stashes. 

I got a box today from Maine, from a retiring weaver (but younger than I!) who used to bring home car loads of cotton thread from the great New England mills. She sold for a hundred and fifty percent mark up, and I can live with $5 a pound thread. But not a penny more!

When all the thread is gone, I’ll retire for good.

The box from Maine. See that cone of  Delft blue, up in the left corner.Using my best flashlight illumination technique, I took a picture of the label.

The Cleveland Yarn Company, Thompsonville, North Carolina. I'll bet this cone is thirty years old. Cleveland Yarn is no more.

Does anyone remember having a Delft blue cotton sweater? This stuff is soft as a baby's butt.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Missing my nap

The only nap I've had in the last six weeks was last night; fifteen minutes between Emily's senior pictures and her induction into National Honor Society.

Tonight was a toss-up between taking Emily to a school camp, Laura to an appointment, or an internecine village council meeting where I would have been hard pressed to keep my lip zipped.

Jan took Emily to camp, I took Laura to her appointment and I suppose they're still arguing, down in the village.

Sunday there was a cousin get together at Beth's, and Caroline's school project of a plaster mask was accomplished.

Actually, there are two Caroline's on the table, a Laura and an Emily.

Yesterday I went looking for a new header.

Plenty of sunshine, though this long shot obliterates it.

I like this one. Up it goes.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Back to the gallery

A thicker shawl for fall.

A lime green dress.

I need to weave for more long sleeve shirts!

 There is so much more in the gallery.

A new trip around:

Windows and windows of glass and pottery.

A final touch.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A ploy too far

My phone is a smart phone. That is more technology than I ever thought I would need, until four or five years ago. I needed a recording device, and why carry a recorder in one pocket and a phone in another? It was not love at first sight; a smart phone is no flip phone.

I grew accustomed to it, one icon at a time, until the phone became more convenient to use than the computer. It’s easier to make arrangements via texts, for instance, than by email. I like finding the weather forecast for any place I might be visiting, using it to read a magazine while waiting in a doctor’s office, for access to the internet to resolve a point of dispute.

Earlier this year I was in the phone store to get help with square technology, and the enterprising young clerk tried to sell me a new phone; last year’s model of my phone, on sale for a hundred dollars with a hundred dollar rebate. I thought about it. It was shiny red, a big plus, but on consideration I did not want to learn the ins and outs of a new phone, and passed.

The last several weeks, though, my trusty phone has been on the fritz. Missed calls and messages. A grey screen and the tiny bar announcing I could only make an emergency phone call because I had no SIM card. I became the queen of soft reset, but drew the line at the minimum of two soft resets a day.

I went to the phone store today, ready to bite the bullet and learn a new phone. I fooled around with the current model, and it appeared I could tolerate the annoyance of the learning curve. My account was pulled up, and, hello, I was long overdue for an upgrade. I could even have the current model for one hundred dollars plus tax, and a mail in rebate of one hundred dollars. Six dollars and seventy five cents for a new phone! I’d paid two hundred for the one in my pocket.

“How much is a new SIM card?” I inquired. They were free, but they were on order. The clerk fished out my SIM card, blew off the pocket dust, put it back. The phone fired up without a soft reset. I considered, but the lure of a six dollar and seventy five cent phone won over. I’d take it.

The paperwork was humming through the printer; the clerk picked up his pen and began. “Now,” he said, “the rebate comes in the mail, a hundred dollar Visa card with your name on it.” My wallet simply snapped shut. “Well, that’s the deal breaker,” I said. “A prepaid Visa card is not a rebate; I cannot put it in the bank.”

I’ll go back in a week or two for a new SIM card. Beside, that new phone was black.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Take a peek

Emily is taking a service learning class this year.
She is so excited, working with second graders as her project.

Emily's "extra mile" participation in everything she does keeps me smiling, 
even if I often am the taxi service!

She decided her second graders each would color a block from one of my sister's book of 1000 quilt blocks,

And Emily will spend her weekends creating them in fabric.
The finished quilt will be donated to Akron Children's Hospital or to Children's Hospice.

Go read about it on my sister's blog,

It's a good story.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The responsibilities of an indoor cat

This is Purrl, our last indoor/outdoor cat.
He was fourteen years old when he departed last January.
Purrl was the last of a long line of indoor/outdoor cats who took the business of rodent eradication (and the occasional bird) seriously.

This is Toby.
He takes his job of surveillance equally seriously.
Like a general with no army.

Toby is not so sure about outdoors.
He two excursions between the legs of a grocery laden two footer coming in the door have been stopped short by "Where do you think you're going, young man! Get back in the house!"
And Toby obediently trotted back up the ramp and into the house.

Even the mice he has waylaid have not inflamed his desire for more from the outdoors, which they smell of. 
Toby simply comes into the living room with the butt and tail of the evidence protruding from his lips,
and a completely unharmed but greatly startled mouse is deposited on the railing when Toby is carried out and instructed, "Drop it."

Toby sits in the window watching my handicapped bird at the feeder.
The bird is not a sparrow, but a house finch. Watching it up close (and it lets me within a couple feet of it), the bird's wings are deformed, the cause of the hovercraft style of locomotion.

Toby keeps track of the finch through the studio window.
And the chipmunks, squirrels, and doves on the ground, and the incessent squadrons of birds at the feeders.

And then there are the chipmunks. 
Without Purrl, we have companies of chipmunks in residence.
They completely ignore Toby,

who, in retalliation, ignores them as completely.
Toby deigns to overtly betray his presence to the little intruders.

See how perfectly they understand each other!
The appearance of the "Neighborhood Cat" however,
and the chipmunk disappears 
and Toby flys from window to window to let Neighborhood Cat know this house is completely defended by the indoor cat.