Thursday, May 28, 2009


It is hard for me to imagine getting to be 85.  It is actually hard for me to imagine the years I have already lived as I usually think I am who I am and do not even notice age unless it is brought up to me or my bones ache too much.

My mother will be 85 on May 31st.  When she was 65 my sister and I threw her a surprise party in her home in Brooklyn.   We had a blast coordinating the invitations, invite list and all the food and drink.  We each brought part of the food and wine and such with us from RI and upstate NY.  I think if we lived closer we could make this a great family business.

Once that gala event was past my mother kinda expected another bash every 5 years.  We did not disappoint. For some reason I cannot remember what we did for 70. Once she moved to Heritage Village in CT we had a more difficult time figuring out what to do as neither of us lives near her but we have managed quite well.   I do recall 75 being at Carol Peck's Good News Cafe with a radio theme and then 80 being at the Mayflower Inn with a floral theme.

I get to make the invitations and my sister often thinks up the theme or the place to hold the event.  So this year we wanted to go a bit simpler and less upscale than the past two.  Ellen is amazing at ferreting out information, especially if it is on the internet.  She passed a few ideas by me and we settled on a movie at the Bethel Cinema with lunch to follow at the Cadiz Cafe.

One can rent the entire theatre, supply the DVD and have a private showing anytime it is not open to the public.  Cool.   Ellen already had a movie in mind which I completely agreed to.  The name will not mentioned it here though because some of the invitees may read this and we want to keep that a surprise.

Once it was all decided and the theatre and cafe booked we spent an entire day avoiding our respective work by emailing back and forth until we both liked this invitation cover.

The Cafe is a Tapas restaurant serving appetizers and small plates of delicious food. With difficulty we picked out the dishes and soups. The cafe volunteered to type up a special menu once we decided on the dessert.  All good.  Out went the invitations and the RSVP's  (or Can can's - that's a hint) came rolling in.  I got to hear many of them while I was in RI.

We then did not hear from the theatre people for too many weeks.  A week ago Ellen contacted the manager about the last minute details. She did not get a response until Tuesday of this week. We thought that was cutting the time a bit short but, hey........there really was not much more to decide on anyway.

On Tuesday Ellen got a phone message telling her that the cafe chef had gone in for emergency gall bladder surgery and would not be back on his feet in time. Would we like to reserve the pizza/Italian place down the street?
   Um, no.  We really did not think pizza down the street was in keeping with our party plans. Plus the cafe has movie themed walls and such.

Ellen asked what about the weekend chef or the back up chef? Evidently they are already busy next Monday.  Why was there such a delay in telling us?   It seems the cafe manager quit last week on top of the chef going into the hospital.  argghhhhh.

Saying we were in a panic is putting things mildly. All I could think of was unpleasant thoughts of calling all those people to explain the cancellation.   Hours of explaining to disappointed elders.

What about a caterer using the cafe?  I went online and within minutes found several near Bethel.  Ellen, meanwhile, talked with the manager who said she was really upset for us, would certainly let us use the cafe if we could find a caterer on such short notice.  

Wednesday early, Ellen left the first choice, Loree, a message with her assistant telling her the bind we were in and spent a restless morning trying to float her boat downstream.  I tried to do the same.

About 1pm mvos let me know she had a great conversation with Loree and we were still ON!  A very simple buffet menu is planned but we actually get to offer our mother's favorite dessert -- make your own ice cream sundaes.

So back to CT I go in the morning.  May 31 is our mom's actual birthday. We are converging there tomorrow afternoon but saving the big celebration for the June 1 party.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I just love how wisteria flowers look hanging so majestically off balconies, sides of homes and on trellises.  I first noticed them many years ago while driving the back way over the hill to Danby and was floored by the glorious blooms hanging from trees in a woods to the side of the road.  After several passes I realized the plants must have come from a dwelling that no longer existed.  Sure enough there are old foundations in those woods.

Of course once our deck was built I wanted one of my own.  Agway had them so one was purchased, brought home and dutifully planted so the vine could climb up the deck support and grace the railing.  It grew nicely that first year, the second too but with no flowers.  I figured it was getting itself established.   After the third year without flowers I told the plant I was disappointed in it and cut it back a bit.   After the fourth year with no blooms I told the plant it had one more year to bloom or "Off with its head".  Year 5 came and we saw maybe 5 or 6 clusters of blossoms.  That was nice and acceptable enough so that I just pruned it in the fall.

And this year

Can you smell them?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fingerlicious Purse in Progress

I woke up the other morning with a bright idea for a fingering weight purse.  Eventually we are going to get a bit tired of always making socks.  We still will want a portable project but maybe a friend has enough socks. I don't know how but it could happen.   Or we just might want to try something different.  Then I saw a sock yarn purse in the latest Knitter's mag but once I looked at the directions thought I could come up with something different that was knit in the round instead of flat.

I looked at the purses I have that I like best. What were the parts I liked, why?  What about the ones hanging that are rarely used?  hmmmmnnnn
I thought and thought about what might look fun and be fun to knit, took some stash sock yarn out of the storage container and started looking through my Barbara Walker Books. Aren't they like eating candy?   Then  s l o w l y   several swatches were made to see how a stitch pattern might look on size 4 needles. 

The middle swatch is actually 'knit one below'.  I finally understood the directions and very much enjoyed the process but it is too elastic for this project.  However I know my brain will come up with something soon for that neat stitch.
The bottom one won out, giving the most dense fabric but on size 3 needles.

Now for the prototype base.
Yes there are a few trials and errors down in the starting rows but by the last 1.25 inches this pattern was settled.  You are seeing the beginning of a smallish purse - 6-7 inches wide for the prototype - but I think it may become a pattern in and of itself as this one will take only a single skein of yarn.
Once the base was established and I could no longer avoid the factoid that the row gauge is 16 rows per inch I blanched. ONE SIXTEENTH OF AN INCH PER ROW, ARGHHHH!!!! Who is going to finish that?  OK how could the purse go a bit faster yet still have enough body?  Really, 9 sts per inch with 16 rows per inch is plenty dense but plenty slow too.

So for the bottom we keep that gauge as it should be extra sturdy. BUT the bag is going to be lined anyway allowing for a slightly less dense body fabric.

We are now on size 4's getting 12 rows per inch. This is very acceptable and the larger needle gives the bit of billowing out I wanted without adding stitches.  However the book I was listening to on my ipod is done so another selection needs to be made.  Yup, I have found that listening to a book allows me to knit along and make much more progress than just knitting to music or my own thoughts.

Oh and the Wee Baby Bonnet from Piecework started in RI is now done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Middletown Report

There are Middletowns in 17 states.

New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More RI

or as my sister suggests:
A Gastronomic Tour of RI with a few asides.

As you may remember my reason for coming to the coast was the Coggeshall Fiber Festival yesterday and a good excuse to visit with my sister.
Last year we got up early to go set up but it was raining so hard we had to wait until after 7 to leave.  This year we had a space under the big tent therefore could get there by 6:30 as planned, even with all the fog.
Jim usually puts my cubes together so gave me a lesson the week before I left.  I then passed the lesson on to my sister and we did it together.  It took over an hour but was sturdy and we were very pleased with ourselves.

The SUV was off the field before 8:30 and we were completely set up by 9:15 or so with few bouts of indecision.  We had early customers which set the pace for the entire day.  

One person even commented on how great a team Ellen and I make at a vending.   We completely concur.

Ellen does not knit or spin but she is excellent with people and record keeping.  She handled check out, leaving me room to answer questions, do any needed explaining and teach a bit of spindling.   I just love meeting online customers in real time and also finding new people to send home with my hand dyeds.   Thank you to everyone who helped to make the Fair a success, organizers, volunteers and visitors alike.

This year there were 30 vendors including one with rock buttons, two with angora rabbits (I got my fix), one with angora goats and some huacaya alpaca.  Oh and a food vendor that had clamcakes, real clam chowda (clear broth) and stuffies.   I had my first ever stuffie -- a quahog clam shell filled with the clam chopped up and mixed with a bread stuffing then broiled.   Quite tasty.

We were probably the last booth packed up and out of there but Ellen had made reservations at the Lobster Pot so we had a reward waiting for us.

  We decided to order only what we loved.

Steamers (well, these are the leftover shells)

Onion Loaf and wine

Lobster stuffed with lobster and scallops

Lobster Stew (creamy lobster soup to you non Ro Dyelanders)
Plus apple crisp with chocolate ice cream for dessert which we ate too fast to take a picture.

Once home we changed into jammies and relaxed.  It was a delightful fast paced eleven hour day of wool, wool and more wool.  The accumulated breathing of fumes finally doing us in.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I believe I have an innate affinity to water. Have I told you that before?  As evidence you may have noticed the plethora of water pictures this past week.

More evidence:
1-  I grew up in Brooklyn about a block from Mill Basin Bay and 
2-  spent many summer hours soaking up the rays on Brighton Beach.  
3- When I went to camp I loved swimming and canoeing. 
4- The cottage we go to in the Adirondacks is on 5th Lake.  
5- Our home is on land that contains a pond plus 
6- We live only 12 miles from Cayuga Lake.

I think my sister may have the same affinity.  
1- She grew up in Brooklyn about a block from Mill Basin Bay and 
2-  spent many summer hours soaking up the rays on Brighton Beach.
3-  She attended URI and after graduating stayed in Rhode Island, usually living near or on the coast.  
4-  Her house in Jamestown was a short walk from the bay and 
5-  Her home in Portsmouth backed onto the Sakonnet River.  
6-  Now, in Newport, she is only a few minutes from the wharf or the beach. 
7-  And she has a lovely koi pond in her side yarn.

Yesterday I took a drive the length of Aquidneck Island, then over a bridge (there are a lot of them around here)
to the mainland and drove down the east side of the Sakonnet River to Tiverton.  I was looking for Sakonnet Purls.  Yup, a yarn shop, but I had a few things in mind to look for.  Plus they were having a 20% off Sale.  How could I not go?  It was rather rainy so a good day for a LYS visit. I have lots of supplies of all kinds of my own and in my shop but had a few special things to look for.

  This shop has many many rooms, each one filled with a different type or weight of yarn.   I asked for the Blue Sky Alpacas Chicken pattern.   The woman looked at me oddly and then said they did not carry Blue Sky Alpaca, neither yarn nor patterns.  I asked for a Philosopher's Wool Kit (They are pricey kits so I was looking forward to the 20% off).  Neither woman had ever heard of Philosopher's Wool.   Two strikes.   Major darn as with that discount I really wanted to buy something.  Finally I found some Regia Stopper für Socken and got 2 sets to put on the bottom of slipper socks. They look like paws.  The drive was nice, but the middle results were disappointing.

For a guaranteed better experience, last night we decided to go to Flo's Clam Shack for dinner.  This place has been right there on the beach since 1936.  We ordered clam chowda, clam strips, clam cakes (which are really frittas) and Lobsta roll, paid, then was handed rock #100.  We went into the front room to find a table, wait for the food and look at the view.
 The plates came quickly, were huge and the food delicious.   Lobsta roll is traditionally chunks of lobster in mayo with a lettuce leaf lying in a white bread hot dog roll.   This one had the mayo on the side. Purer and much much better.

It's May on the North Atlantic coast.  This is as close to a bathing suit we are going to get for quite some time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

to Newport

On Tuesday, after a late breakfast with my mother, I headed east.  Actually, first I headed a few miles west to Starbucks where I got myself a very large coffee and some of my sister's favorite rice crispy marshmallow squares to bring her.   Then on to I84 east to exit 27 where I turned onto the road to Middletown (in my travels I have encountered 3 Middletowns, one in NY, one in CT and the third in RI which leaves me wondering how many more states have a town by this name.)  Wesleyan University is in Middletown, CT so the shops are interesting to see as I drive by.   Here I began to encounter the front coming in and actually drove a bit in front of it the rest of the way.

Once reaching the coast, continuing to enjoy the Dog On It CD's all the way (growing quite fond of Chet with each succeeding chapter), I turned north onto I95, past Mystic, CT where I stopped at a Scenic Overlook.

Then soon after was in RI, taking it easy and enjoying the ride on 138 which goes through the heart of RI, past URI, stone walls, fields of rocks and cows, windy old roads and several garden shops.  I finally stopped at The Farmer's Daughter where I could have blown quite a bit, but since my car is packed to bursting already, I just mosied into every greenhouse think marking what I want to stop and buy on my way home next week (uh oh).

Then across the bay to Jamestown and then the Newport Bridge 
which heralds almost each and every visit to my sister.   She has lived on Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth and Newport for more years than I can remember, and before that on Jamestown. 

Now I get to enjoy her fishies, her cat and her laid back hospitality.   Respite and a bit of vacation before the Fiber Fair on Saturday.  I'll be taking some photos of Newport to show you in the next few days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

This afternoon we went for a late lunch at Carol Peck's Good News Cafe.   This unusual restaurant had free range chicken long before anyone else thought it was a good idea.  They have increased the fare to organic fish and other free range meats plus organic or clean veggies.
There is always a great display of original artwork on the brightly colored walls and smaller works in a cabinet along with old time radios and TV's sitting high up on shelves above the diners.

We got there a few minutes early and were seated on time.  While we were sitting down at least 3 people came over to add napkins, fill the water glasses and ask for drink orders.   These came in relatively short order considering every table in and out of the place was more than filled. Our 4 top was a 5 today.  The 6 tops were 7's.  Moms, kids, grandmoms, fathers and grandfathers all over the place.  Waitstaff, bussers, runners all moving at top speed.  The kitchen must have been something else to behold.   

We ate and ate and ate, but slowly as there was at least a half hour wait between courses.  We started with fried onion strings, flat pepper bread and big slices of peasant bread with olive oil, then a while later lobster bisque and paté with a yummy salad. Quite a while later we were served adult mac and cheese (with lobster and many cheeses); shrimp with baby green beans, peas, fingerling potatoes in aioli sauce; fresh tuna steak on risotto and free range chicken with veggies.

l->r Nancy, Rae, Barbara, Mom and me

Maybe because the kitchen was so slow we might have digested a bunch during the between waits, but at any rate we actually ordered and ate dessert along with coffee and tea --   Tahitian vanilla cake, coconut cake, plum tart with caramel sauce and, I just could not resist --- Blueberry Pavlova.   This Pavlova was good but nowhere near as good as the recipe sent out in April for High Fiber Desserts.  All in all we were there from 2 - 4:40.  No dinner for us tonight.

Here's Mom in her new sweater.

I'm gonna go lie down and finish digesting a week's worth of food.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Today was a perfect day for a drive, high 60's/low 70's with light clouds, little sun.   Perfect.

On Route 17E, near Roscoe, is a Rest Stop right at the beginning of the Catskill Preserve.
I stopped to pee and take a walk down to the Willowemoc Creeek.

The creek was roaring by 

while the wildflowers just sat there waving in the light breeze.
Strawberries, meadow rue, violets and red trillium.
Then I continued on my way through the Catskill Mountains, across the Hudson River and eventually into CT.   All the while listening and laughing to Dog On It.   If you love dogs and like mysteries this is a hoot.  The entire story is told by the dog, from a dog's point of view.   

As I drove further east the greens became even more full and intense.  Glorious!

Tonight I am completing a Toiletry Bag.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Is it enough?

I am going to be gone for 10 days. 
 2.5 of them driving many many hours from here

to CT (~4.5 hrs)

Thence to RI (~2.5 hrs) 

and back again (add em up).  

Then we have Mother's Day so the afternoon is an early dinner/late lunch with some of my mother's friends plus a day of Fiber Fairing (5/16) in RI. That leaves about 6 knitting days if I do nothing else.  I am so concerned I will finish my shawl collared vest to the steeking point, then without a sewing machine and the collar yarn not yet spun will not have enough to knit upon.

Shawl collared vest on the left and some spindling for socks on the right.

Then for back up I have cotton for Toiletry Bags that my Service Knitting Group is making for local Women's Shelters.  And the Alice Starmore baby bonnet I have been drooling over for months.  I want to make 2 - one for the Service Knitting stockpile for next winter and one for the Mattaponi Project knitting through Knitters for Obama on Ravelry.

So whaddya think?   Will these projects hold me?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flopsy Mopsy Topsy Turvy

Char came over this morning to show me how to pluck the buns.
First she demonstrated how to hold Keeper firmly but not too tight and then flip the little girl between her knees. BTW I was so excited that I forgot to get pics of Gumdrop doing the same.

Seems this between the legs thing has a reassuring feeling to a bunny who naturally does not lie on her back.

Then we proceeded to literally pluck out the loose wool in small pinches.  
Those are Keeper's wooly rear legs.

This is the result of about 20 minutes worth of plucking (all that Keeper would allow today).

And here they are all fluffed and back to munching.