Saturday, June 30, 2018

A couple of smiles

When my sister and I started a business together, we didn’t know if we would end up in cotton or wool, so we called our business The Ewe Tree. This was a time everything natural was so engulfing retail that we received offers not only to purchase the name, but to do business as, and use on the internet. When we retired weaving, Jan kept the name for her quilting business. It was twenty plus years old, known and respected, had great credit and accounts; why start over.

Now she has a lovely web site that features her work, and that would be the end of it. Oh, for years there were anguished emails begging for one more shirt, one more jacket. The occasional phone call did end when she relinquished the thirty year old phone number several years ago.

Recently she forwarded a lovely email:

Hello, Janice

I was in a thrift store outside Philadelphia today, shopping for interesting clothing, and came across this excellent sweater – I’m always drawn to clothing I can tell is unique or handmade. I’d just gotten rid of a number of sweaters and thought I had room in the closet for another, and noted the odd label – “The Ewe Tree, handwoven” it said. So I looked it up and found this site.

Just wanted to drop you a friendly line and tell you it’s strangely in the 50’s and raining tonight here in Philly and I’m really enjoying your sweater. It’s going to have a good second (or third or fourth or however-many) life with me! I’ve attached a pic if you want to see if you remember making this one.

Hope all is well, Joe

Awwwww. We made that style shirt from the mid-nineties until I retired in 2002. I remember putting on that tomato soup warp. We only wove it one time, and I have no recollection of when. I do recall two or three shows in Philly, but it could have come from anywhere. I’ll never forget the woman who found me in Virginia and called her husband in Boston: “I just found the weaver who made the shirts that your brothers took!” and bought half a dozen of that very shirt for her husband and his brothers.

Friday I saw the shoulder surgeon. After discussion, he recommended a “reverse” replacement. After cleanup of all the damaged goods, a new ball is placed in the shoulder blade, and a pad on a shaft in the upper arm bone is the new socket. Reverse of the old. I will have as much motion as now, more if I work at it, and no more pain.

Next week I’ll schedule out all the protocol to be able to meet the surgeon in the operating room.  It’s an overnight stay, and I was offered local anesthesia. I think I’ll do that. But first, we’re spending a week in Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Allergic, I’m telling you

Way back in the nineties, I sat in my booth at a show and watched a young woman openly coughed and sneezed her way through.  I intercepted her and asked her to leave. Her companion came in and cheerily said, “Oh, she’s just catching a cold!”

 It was October. We all know what you catch in October. I made an appointment for my first ever flu vaccination. For the next ten or twelve years, the minute flu season was announced, I went for the jab. The last time I had the flu was 1988, the year we all moved into the house together and began the business. I was so sick that year, I slept through the entire four day Thanksgiving holiday, and the following week.

About ten years in, I realized I’d begun sleeping away the subsequent three days after the shot. I paid attention that year, and it was true. Three days zonked. A few more days climbing from a well of foggy brain. I quit being vaccinated against flu virus. It was an annual argument with my PC, and too bad. I was through.

When the shingles vaccination was available a few years ago, my PC persuaded me to have it. I remembered my grandmother and my friend having shingles, and it was, as we said, a no-brainer. But in the drug store nurse’s office, the nurse and I discussed it, and we talked me out of it.

Last fall my persistent PC started in again, flu, pneumonia, shingles. The pneumonia was two shots, spaced some time apart. I elected to undertake the pneumonia and shingles a year apart. The pneumonia shot went off perfectly. Of course, it’s not grown in eggs.

I added shingles to the second pneumonia shot. Splat, out flat for three days. Not sick, merely unconscious.  The second shingles is six months later, or yesterday. I thought this time I’d try overpowering it. Sheer will, kick it to the curb.

First thing yesterday morning we were at the drug store. There were errands to run on the way home. Fortunately, Laura was riding shotgun. I would not let her drive; she had no breakfast and her judgment is extraordinarily bad without breakfast. Some targets were circled a few times. We never found the way into the gas station, though we passed it. At home, I fell into bed.

This morning we had a breakfast date with our friend, Linn. I ate my bowl of oatmeal; Laura and Linn talked. We came straight home; I went to bed. I’m sure Laura went to her library job; the day’s mail was on my desk when I got up for supper. The inside of my brain still has the shades pulled down. One more afternoon in bed, I think.

In other news, it has rained for three days. Here are three days of unemptied rain gauge:

Laura replanted the bulb that floated to the surface.

The rain makes everything happy.

Pig most of all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Small town, small news

Does anyone read Tom Degan? Take a look, put him on your list. He lives in Orange County, upstate. Some days he just goes and sits with FDR for the day. I'll probably go sit with the Methodists and play cards this afternoon. The inclusive Methodists.

We had places to go, things to do this morning, and passed our heron friend again. He gave us little more than his back, and crossed the pond. In the spring I saw him head to the rookery with a fish, and assumed he was feeding a family. But here he is again, alone. I must read up on the habits of herons!

I left Laura at the library for her Tuesday/Thursday stint with children and book club. She has a trumpet gig today.

And I stopped at the post office to mail dish towels. And tea towels. Tomato, tomatoe.

How small is my town, you wonder. This is Linnette, the boss of the stamps. She says they are charged with selling stamps, and she's made herself first in charge. She used a metered sticker for the difference between postage due and a sheet of national park stamps. Then she put national park stamps all over the envelope, And put on the National Park information from the center of the sheet AND cut out and put on the National Park name of the sheet. We have mailed the first envelope of tea towels.

Here's what I'm up to, and the rules. I copied my blog list to a spread sheet. I hope to send a couple of towels to every name on it. That will take a while. My blog list is as old as my blog. We know some blog names are now empty shells. I'll go by sadly, unless I've become acquainted with a child. Some are old, old friends we still check up on. Put up your hand if you remember Graham, One Stoned Crow.

If I don't have it, I'll ask for your address when I'm there on the list. If you don't want to divulge it, I am not offended, and will go quietly by.

Finally, from the lesson last time. Nothing is to come back. Pass it on, if you have a burning desire to reciprocate. I live an uncluttered life in under a thousand square feet. So, if you are happy, pass it on.

Monday, June 25, 2018

What if I owned The Red Hen

I’m sure by now we all know of the owner of this restaurant near the nation’s capital, who asked the president’s press secretary to leave the restaurant. The owner was morally opposed to serving the press secretary and her party. The owner described it as an uncomfortable decision and action to uphold her own morals.

What an awkward situation to face, unrehearsed.

Back in the day I owned a business, I had half a dozen occasions to send children and adults from my booth. Unescorted children generally were told publicly; they often needed additional instruction on where to find the exit and how far to go.

Invariably there would be a return call, a parent with a blubbering, wailing child, demanding to know what I had done to their child. I seldom addressed the parent, only the child. We went outside, and I said “Tell your mother what you did.” I would count off a few more loud wails, then say to the parent, “I think you should leave. When your child has calmed down and thought through the behavior, I’m sure they will tell you.”

Only once was there retribution. I did not know the mother of the child who thought she could stand on my spinning wheel was on the board of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I was never invited back to their art show. I’ve always felt the value of the story outweighed any personal loss on my part.

My technique was good, old fashioned shaming. It’s among the ways we teach children to understand the morals of the adults in their world. For better or for worse, it seems.

I believe I would have told my staff to continue service, though they could skip the small “I hope you’re having a good evening!” chat. On arriving, I would have invited Ms. Sanders into the hall and explained the staff was waiting on them as a courtesy, at her request. 

All of them find Ms. Sanders morally offensive. She and the staff consider Ms. Sanders contemptable for condoning the president’s behavior to immigrants and children.

Therefore, Ms. Sanders could consider tonight’s service and meal as their cake at a very gay wedding. They could have it, and eat it too, if they wished. And I would have led her back to the table and been gone.

In truth, the owner barely misstepped. She certainly was within the law of the land. I know from experience, you need practice dealing with these situations, and you must know how to turn the ball of anxiety churning in the pit of your stomach into a hardball.

When I returned to the booth after such an episode, invariably the other customers were discussing the incident loudly enough for the retreating parent to hear. I think the barrage of tweets and remarks on her return would have sent Ms. Sanders, etal, from The Red Hen.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Completely random notes on weaving

A one pound spool of dyed cotton yields six 24” towels. I would like a larger yield, but I cannot argue with the math. In the vernacular, it is what it is.

So far I’ve made very dark, jewel colors, and middle colors. Personally, the middle colors make me happier. I find the warp contrast too much for the jewel colors. Worse yet, my beat is no longer as even as the old days, and when I miss pics per inch, I see it jump out when the towels are fulled. It is what it is.

On a day I can devote to weaving, I can weave two hours in the morning, close to two in the afternoon, and sometimes another hour in the evening. I hoped to extend my back endurance, but the real problem is my shoulder. I found the perfect bench, a piano bench with extra long legs. My forearms are above the breast beam. Perfect!

This past week I finished eighteen towels. I could do more, but that might begin to resemble work. I do not hesitate to retire to my bed for a nap when I’ve pissed off my back or fuddled my head. Charlotte’s Web did make me cry, by the way. What are the odds I would reach into a library of books and for my solo read pick a book about spinning and weaving.

Some towels are off to new homes. They aren’t surprises, on the whole. I did surprise a couple of recipients last time, and will ask them this time. I had a fun email exchange with one blogger who declared a need for white, as she knows she will bleach any colored towel to that state. Hahaha. White is the bleached state of cotton.

When I do not have enough warp to weave six towels from a dyed cone of thread, I’ll finish up the warp in natural towels. They are creamy, the natural state of processed cotton. Bleaching them in every wash turns the towels white in time.

I’m half through another jewel tone pound of thread, royal blue. There’s room for another dozen colored towels after the royal, then natural. Then a new warp. However, “production” will slow and halt soon; Friday I finally come up on the appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, and then there will be MRI’s, I suppose, and then a trip to Wisconsin, and then the moment of reckoning over the shoulder.

Yesterday I fulled the yardage from two different pounds of thread. Today I cut it into 24” lengths, serged both ends of twenty four towels, to secure the threads. Then I sewed rolled hems on twenty four towels, and folded and stacked them, then packed up a few to ship tomorrow.

And now I have these left to send into the world.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Life tidbits

Physical training this morning was just fun. Greg, my trainer, is a serious young fellow. All we have in common, for chit-chat while I follow instructions, are my understanding of his month old fatherhood stint, and his vast repertoire of everything sports. Nora Grace still holds them sleep deprived, but that’s the price to be paid, so we moved into his comfort zone, sports.

I’m always curious for his take on LeBron James. As Shacq said, James should quit chasing rings and just play it out as the greatest player ever. We all know Shacq didn’t get into or out of that Buick gracefully, but when he sat behind the wheel and said it wasn’t your daddy’s Buick any more, we know he said the truth.  
Apparently the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted someone, and Greg started in on should the Cavs make a trade, or have LeBron tripping over the kid. I mentioned Shacq’s opinion, and training stopped. Greg knows my knowledge of basketball can be balanced on a finger. “You know who Shacq is?” Greg, he is way too easy on the eyes, and pleasantly fluffy. Of course I know Shacquile O’Neal.

After lunch we went grocery shopping. Little Miss Cook’s had a tough week. Last Friday, home from South Carolina, her shopping basket consisted primarily of snacks for Laura. I was curious, as I put the debit card into the slot, but it’s not my budget and not my job. It’s been a week of interesting meals from the child who never says “Uncle”.  Nor do her siblings or sires, you may recall, but not with Laura’s finesse. She concocted edible meals from an empty refrigerator. Fortunately for her, the freezer and the pantry still yielded, meagerly.

I wandered off in the grocery store, and found tomatillos. It’s been twenty or more years. I put some in a bag. At $1.49 a pound, it couldn’t be that big a mistake. Laura googled her way to reducing a couple of them to a salsa that she added to alfredo and served over her old standby, noodles. Pretty good. I think there will be more in the future.

Yesterday I succeeded, after innumerable false starts, to drag Overdrive to Windows 10, and download two books. I picked Charlotte’s Web and Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. 

As I’ve occasionally mentioned, I remember essentially nothing of every book I’ve ever read. I would have guessed with a straight face that a spider was involved in the former. Like the fifty percent chance of getting a True/False right. Rob Reiner wrote the intro to Inconceivable Tales, which I read on the library’s web page.  I think this book may be as good as the movie.

And last, my pastime of admiring my garden, and Laura’s contribution to the summertime art class she leads for library kids ("The Library Rocks"!). Oh, yes, all that rain in the west made it across to Ohio. I’ll put money on an inch in the rain gauge tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer rash

Windows 10 could really bother me. No checkbook; no problem. A blogger friend explained to me, simply be sure I had enough money in the bank before I spent any more. As an accountant in one of my former lives, I've found that to be all I really need.

The DNA site 23andMe has a service of matching relatives, and frequently sends me lists of new cousin matches. People who care to be contacted provide an email . I saw it as the perfect way to find some cousins from the Irish branch of the family that disowned my father. (That quest to see why my Presbyterian Irish grandfather married my Catholic Irish grandmother.)

This would be so simple to identify cousins, using the family tree I built through Another false trail, it turns out. Ancestry has no record, as it was jobbed out to a company called Family Tree Maker, when I did it in 2012. Family Tree Maker sells a plethora of programs to update the files on my computer to the current version, but will not answer my emails about what I need. They have no phone number.

And finally, I need to download new books for my MP3 player. But, now I have Windows 10. It recognizes my SanDisk, but I'll be damned if I can locate the correct version of Overdrive, to get the books I borrowed from the library. I can only find the version that plays the books on the computer, and a cryptic note to find a special version that actually transfers the files using Windows 10. My library tells Annie comes in after noon tomorrow, and is the only person there who can help me. The joys of small towns!

On the other hand, when Laura and I met in the kitchen this morning, we decided we needed a selfie before the day ended. And one of our card playing friends took the picture for us, this afternoon.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Broadcast to the wind

This is a collection of my thoughts on being an artisan. For all that I smiled and said “Thank you!” when customers raved about our ‘art,’ I’ve never lost track of Thoreau’s definition. Remember him, the fellow who wore his whiskers under his chin?

The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected. There has been no man of pure Genius; as there has been none wholly destitute of Genius.

I added the italics. I didn’t invent looms, thread or weaving, but I can make all three, and use them. I appreciate a great American genius has left me not wholly destitute of talent!

Several years ago I had the burning desire, to quote my grandson, to put a weaving studio back together, and I did. How satisfying to run the threads through my hands another time, thread up my trusty, utilitarian, towels, check tension, then sit and mindlessly weave, my ears tuned to music, books, lectures de jour.

How easily it all came together, how easily it all flew apart, as you may recall. But in the middle, stacks of towels. The kitchen towel drawer was topped off, as were children and friends.  And still the stack grew. What to do, what to do.

In a bit of genius, I sent them on the wind, into the universe.

One hallmark of the clothing we wove was folks’ reactions. They first would touch. That’s easy. Then wrap their arms around jackets. I really was selling “soft”. 

Towels would have stood the same test, but didn’t get it. They’re towels, for crying out loud. They live in a drawer, and are snatched out to dry dishes, wipe up counter messes, wipe the baby’s face, wipe the floor, dragged around by a foot. Towels are not sexy. They’re utilitarian.

Utility! Aha. My towels are the epitome of utility because they actually absorb moisture. I use ring spun cotton. That stuff I had to find all over again; sweater mills are gone, and the thread spun overseas is softened mechanically. Ring spun is stretched and compacted over and over. It is denser, and its ends are softened. It’s heavier than other spinning methods. It makes your best tee shirts. And the best towel.

Years ago I wove towels to experiment with weaving structure. Lots of open threads in the weave make towels super absorbent. But, they wear out too fast, or meet untimely ends in the washer or dryer. I came across and tried “draughts to increase journeyman ability” in old Dover reprints of fabric structure we barely know the names of these days. Plain, matt, rib, basket, twill.

Then I found the most clever structure, put together by the utilitarian genius of Shakers. It’s a plain, twill, grouped combination. I call it the Shaker Towel. All the action is in the railroad tracks that run the length. It’s a cord group, held together enough by the plain weave and twill sections. Then the plain weave, twill checks take over, and absorb more moisture. Or baby spit or kool aid. It’s just a damn fine towel.

But, no weaver would make towels to earn a living. Like everyone else, we set out to earn a fair return for our labor and material. Who would pay market value of a handwoven towel. They’re a loss leader, or a give away.

Those days are way behind me. I again can weave for the pure pleasure of watching the work unfold, the colors drift down the warp beam, the sunshine outlining the cat in the window. I cannot weave as fast, and I don’t care. I still can make piles of towels, then send them to the universe. It makes me happy. May we all live long enough.

Today I hemmed orange and garnet towels. I took the fabric from the loom, fulled it, cut it, hemmed it. I also gave some garnet towels to my card playing friends. Denim towels are on the loom now. See the difference between the woven fabric and the finished towel that has been fulled? Part of the magic. I think I’ll do purple next.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A wall bought with children

The price for denying the GOP a border wall is countless children. The justification grows feebler. Jeff Sessions truly is suffering the little children, though he is not among them. National outrage has not trumped this inhumanity. It can end only at the ballot box.

Twenty weeks left to midterm elections. Twenty weeks to changing the mindset of Congress; returning to principled actions, purging border patrol agents who say only citizens can ride a bus.

Please find something you can do to help. Google a local chapter of your congress representative’s office. Find where they stand on immigration, health care, drug cost, free trade, wages, DACA—all these issues that are our lives. 

If your representative does not represent your point of view, call the opposition’s office. Volunteer to do office work, maintain files, man the phones.

For the first time ever, I’ll be on the phone for my Senator, Sherrod Brown.

I think the most important thing we can do for this fall, though, is get high school children who are old enough registered to vote. I Googled that, too, read the possibilities, and picked the League of Women Voters as my best way to get to the eligible young people and get them registered.

Look into an organization called Spread the Vote. It takes ID to move around this country these days, and many states require ID to vote. My state does. Years ago Ohio accepted a current utility bill. Now it’s a driver’s license or state issued ID. I took some of my grandchildren for state issued ID’s, before they had driver’s licenses. See if you can help at Spread the Vote.

I think the best way to spend the next twenty weeks is to prepare. We are the rear guard. Only November will show how well we are prepared.

(John Moore/Getty Images)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

84 and partly cloudy

The weather has been near to perfect since school ended. Cool, rain overnight. Off to Seabrook Island and we took the weather with us. Cooling sprinkles, eighties (cool for South Carolina!).  Today, off to swim in The Quarry.

Laura and Annie

I watched two dives into the water and came up the hill and home.

Check the link for the cold, brown quarry Laura helped clean for spring.

Friday, June 15, 2018

In the event you've not been to Charleston

This is an unabashed plug for the Old South Carriage company, with the red sashes.
I asked the chatty carriage driver if he had to take a test of his knowledge of Charleston.
"Yes, m'am. Two hundred questions out of two hundred, right!"
It was a grand tour.

This woman filled the carriages with passengers.

 This friendly equine rested his head on my shoulder as I stood in line for the loo. The lav. You know.

Our hundred percent driver. Over his shoulder, the route assigner. There are five carriage routes, dispensed in order, to the next carriage company that sets out.

From here on in I know little.
An important old church.

Wrought iron work. Brick patio.

Church, cemetery, wrought iron, red umbrella in the cooling drizzle.

Pink tree.

Tree roots.

Arches and doors.

Wrought iron swords. Pretty cool house light, too.

Newly relaid driveway.

More wrought iron.

At last, a red door with the wrought iron.

Everywhere, the brick is covered by a plaster veneer. 

A tiny house. Street number is something like 100 1/4. I think it was a summer kitchen.

Wrought iron.

Same house, leaded glass.

Row houses.

A hawk. 

A selfie. The yellow shirt.

Laura had a good time, too.