Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day weekend already

Boy, don't know where these weeks have flown. I have been here three weeks today, or is it four?

I've gone into production mode. After a lifetime of sewing, for a multitude of reasons, I never touched a sewing machine after moving to NM in 1993. Back here for the summer, I've been loaned a machine and have started reacquainting myself with sewing and quilting.

Yesterday my good friend Annie came and helped me lay out this antique quilt top on its batting and backing. Its pattern is called Double Wedding Ring and it is all hand pieced. I bought it in the Arroyo Seco Mercantile some years ago, purchased from an estate, probably, and most likely from Oklahoma, where the owner of the Merc did a lot of her inventory shopping.

I have this really big thing about wanting to "rescue" hand work done by generations past and I can get almost weepy thinking about my stuff ending up under someone's dog or worse some day in the future. Anyhow...this top is in good condition and has never had its mission it's on its way now! We used this new (to me) stuff you can spray on the batting and then the fabrics adhere easily. No hours of pinning!!! Yay!

Because this went together so easily, I was able to start "quilting" it last night. I use that term gingerly, because I know there could be some real quilters reading this...I should probably say I've started stitching it together. I chose to use some red thread so I can see my work when it's finished.

Annie and I spent some reverent minutes trying to think about who might have made this quilt is most likely from the '30s or '40s, based on the fabrics...I am not the trained eye to know for sure. Perhaps if you are reading this, you can let me know if you know. I wish I could tell this person I love her work and appreciate what she did. I wish she could see it being loved. I wish she could know it will be finished. Here's to you, whoever you were. I wish we could have met. I wish I could have known what your life was, how long it took you to do all this, where the fabrics came from and what you thought about when you did this amazing piece of work.

Most of all...thanks for leaving me such a treasure.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A day at the ranch

Yesterday I hopped in the car and drove up into the foothills to visit a friend who has sheep and goats. It was nice to get out in some (relatively) open country and visit with an old friend.

First stop was the pen with the Boer goats...and low and behold, one of the kids had very enthusiastically inserted herself into the feeder and needed an assist out. My friend tells me that same kid does that at least once a day. Fun for me to see, but I'm guessing it gets pretty old to be constantly watching to make sure she doesn't get herself cooked in the sun while stuck.

The highlight of my visit was getting to bottle feed a couple of Angora goat kids. The close up photo I took with my left hand while feeding with my right. I held this little guy in my arms for quite a while, bouncing him like a baby, rubbing his neck, and kissing the top of his little head (where his little horns are just starting to pop up). He was easily lulled into relaxation. I told my friend it's a good thing I'm not around, I'd have a rocking chair out in the barn to rock the babies. I think she thought I was nuts. Whatever. Maybe I am, or maybe I'm just a sucker for a baby animal, so soft and sweet. You can be the judge.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Some while ago, I wrote that I had started poking around in my father's family tree. Almost immediately, I discovered a cousin I have never met, living in Northern California. Even more exciting than that, his wife turned out to be an avid genealogist with a fascinating family history of her own. We have connected via e-mails and one phone call. There is an immediate comfort in our relationship...we seem to share many similarities in our souls. It has been so cool to find family after all these years, and I feel like I've hit the lottery to find someone who holds so many keys to my otherwise foggy family history.

One of the few things I had to bring to the party with Linda is this photograph of my Great Grandmother, Adela. I have little knowledge of her, and her daughter, my father's mother, is all but a ghostly apparition to me in my own, distant, childhood memories. Adela's father was from France, her mother from Mexico. I wonder what her childhood was like...if she spoke English, or was multi-lingual. I once owned the wedding band she gave her husband on their wedding day, but it was stolen by a housecleaning service many years ago, and not discovered by me until long afterward. I grieved about this for years after the discovery. I do, however, own her little handkerchief, which has her name embroidered in the corner, in the tiniest of script. I guard it cautiously. I wonder if she could have ever imagined a world such as ours, and so many descendants, and an almost 6' great granddaughter, guarding her few remaining tangible (non human) proofs of life, and longing to know more about her?

She looks very young here, doesn't she? I wonder what the occasion was for this photograph. I wish we could magically transport through time and meet.

This photograph makes me wish I had an inclination for writing fiction...imagine the story I could weave around it.

(Note to all of us: write names, dates, and occasions on the backs of those photos! And what the heck is going to become of files of digital photographs, unlabeled?)

Friday, May 21, 2010


The past weeks have flown on the wings of happiness, sadness, uncertainty, certainty, pressure (always self-imposed), and change, to name a few...and in no particular order.

The truck was loaded and we had a beautiful drive to CA on May 7 & 8. For my trip project, I chose a project started 20 years ago: embroidering a pre-printed pillow case. I have been wanting to embroider for the last year (more like getting a message that I needed to start again) and this was a great way to start again. The work I did in the car, with bumps in the road and inadequate eye wear, will no doubt look like it was done by some feeble person when inspected by some unsuspecting family one day far into the future. I had so much fun doing it, I had to remind myself to look out the window at the vistas I love so much on that journey.

It has taken until now to catch up with myself...sleeping many hours each day and spending the others mostly wishing I could be sleeping. This last week I've started morning walks with my friend Liz, and her dogs. I have been paired with Dolly, who is a perfect walking partner...she keeps a brisk pace on the flats and slows down considerably on the uphill (my home is near the top of a steep street).

I am loving being near my family...knowing they are just a 5 minute walk away and that I don't have to try to crush lots of visits into a brief period of time. I am just a few breaths away from shopping, the library, restaurants...quite a change from Taos. I am content. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More on beef

A year or more ago, I posted about a movie called "King Corn". It was a study done by some young men who followed their families' histories to the heartland of our country, their combined backgrounds with the corn industry, their curiosity about how corn is grown and how far the final crops branch out into our society. It was quite fascinating.

I was upset to learn what many of you may have already known: cattle are not meant to eat corn, and if they weren't sent to slaughter when they are, their ulcerated stomachs would kill them anyway. I found this so particularly disgusting I vowed to find a source for grass fed beef even if it meant eating less beef than I'd like (and I am a lover of good beef). I was fortunate enough to find a ranch in southern Colorado, outside Durango, that grazes long horns in the national forests all summer and finishes them off on brewer's mash before slaughtering for their private market. Their brochure includes lots of information about how longhorns have a lower body fat percentage than regular cattle, and comparisons of their ranch's beef to the health benefits normally thought to come only from poultry or fish. If all of that wasn't wonderful enough, the taste of this meat is so amazing, we are now hooked.

Then, last night, my friend Sarah posted this information on grass fed beef on her Facebook page: 10 Reasons Not to Give Up Red Meat.

It's about the many health benefits of eating grass fed beef. Imagine that!

I know it's not easy for everyone to access grass fed beef, or it may be too expensive if you do...but I felt this needed to be shared. Caveat emptor, as I learned in that business law class all those decades ago...and shame on us if we're not paying attention while others are trying to poison us.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

One week from today

...I will be waking up in the La Posada hotel in Arizona and heading west to my (temporary) home in California. I feel like I'm going off to summer camp, which is something I never did as a kid, but I expect this is what it would have felt like.

The piles of projects that are going with me are growing. One pile is composed of quilting fabrics (purchased when I worked in a quilting store in 1992), antique linens, and embroidery projects either never started or finished. A pile at the shop includes wool I intend to spin or knit. Last to pack will be a few clothes, my hiking boots, and some books.

We've had snow the last couple of days. It was like being inside one of those snow globes. Last night it dropped into the teens. Spring doesn't relinquish easily to summer in this part of the world.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are...I'm headed out to dye some wool for my summer's spinning!