Saturday, July 31, 2010

Food, Inc.

During the middle of the crazy busy week that just flew past, I finally got around to watching this documentary. I had seen small portions of it on television, and discussions about its importance, much earlier this it's been around quite a while. Perhaps you've already seen it.

If you haven't, you might want to consider it. Some of what I saw was similar to information that was in King Corn (visit their website here). Some of it was about Monsanto, and how they have just about tied up our food from one end to the other, beginning with the seeds and including stories about private investigations they conduct to make sure farmers aren't saving and re-using seeds. It was a lot about how poorly many people eat in this country, either through lack of time, thought, education, or money. It painted, over all, a sad tale. It's no wonder there is so much obesity and illness. Our grocery stores are veritable mine fields of unhealthy products.

It's a cautionary tale, to be sure, and to my mind, one that needs to be seen be everyone.

WARNING: If you decide to watch it, it's probably not appropriate for smaller children, due to some fairly grisly footage taken in some farms, feedlots, and packing plants.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Owning myself

Turning 60 this spring was quite a big deal to me, even though I have not stressed over any of my other "milestone" birthdays. For the longest time, I didn't even realize it was eating away at me, and it reached a crescendo just as I was recognizing it. Now I've decided I like it, and I'd like to stay here for maybe twenty or so years. Finally, I am starting to accept the person in the mirror (operative word: starting). I have long eschewed the term "age appropriate", and probably won't sign up for entire program just yet...although it's clear my bikini days are ancient history, and it's probably wiser for me to stay off the roller skates. Compromises. It's all about compromises. I'm just thrilled I'm a) alive, b) healthy, and c) have such a great partner and wonderful life, family, friends, and the freedom to enjoy them all.

There is a beautiful quilt blog I've started following this summer: Postcards from Panama. A couple of weeks ago, the author, Carol, posted the following paragraphs. The author is unknown, and this has apparently been viral for a if you've read it already, you'll probably enjoy reading it again...and if you happen to know who the author is, that would be splendid, as well. We would love to give credit where credit is due. Feel free to share it, as I am. I think it speaks for many of us of a "certain age". Oh, and P.S.: if you're still lots younger, go for it, and enjoy all that you have now. All those years I hated having photos taken...I wish I'd had to sense to document that I didn't always look like I do now. Love yourself NOW.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don’t agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to overreact, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m, and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60′s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love . I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the bikini set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten and I have forgotten what the young are just learning and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when a beloved pet dies? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. I can say “no,” and mean it. I can say “yes.” and mean it.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Learning to quilt

I've been having a blast these last couple of months, playing with my old fabrics, buying new ones, and stacking them all over every flat surface available, waiting for them to tell me what they want to be.

I've also been the intrepid bargain hunter, and spending my fabric shopping time cruising the marked down fabrics at the Quilt in a Day store in San Marcos. They had a big sale in early July...30% off everything, including the bolts that were already marked down to $4 or 5 a yard.

One of those days, I found yardage designed by the Laguna Beach artist, Wyland, who is famous for his fabulous outdoor murals of whales. I found two other fabrics to accompany that reminds me of kelp, one that could be loosely imagined as bubbles in water. I didn't know where to start, so I cut the one yard panel apart in three sections and have started adding these two fabrics in. I'll update when I come up with the final product. For now, it's all so new, I'm just treading in uncharted waters, hoping for a decent outcome. P.S. The four year old who will receive this quilt will have little to no interest in my piecing or quilting ability...a real bonus.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Molly and her nest box

This spring, my friend Annie turned me on to a live camera that is placed inside a box, 15 ft. off the ground, in nearby San Marcos, California. By the time I started watching, Molly, the barn owl mom, had already had her eggs and they had hatched. I was able to watch as the babies grew, the parents delivered food, and finally, when they fledged. It was a mesmerizing experience and I only regret I didn't have more hours to devote to watching. seems Molly has more eggs, and we are all fortunate enough to have a chance to watch her raise another family. There are several options for watching her, I think...this is the one I've followed. Go to this link and on the upper right hand side of the screen, click on the link to visit the show page. Enjoy!

(PS Photo of Molly taken just a couple of minutes ago, as she rested.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The spinning nun

NO...not the flying nun...

I'd like you to meet Michelle Mueller. If you happen to know her already, or her yarns, then you probably don't need to read the rest of this posting. If you don't, well...she is someone you would love to know, and her yarns are some of the best you'll ever be fortunate enough to hold in your hands and knit with.

I met her years ago in Arroyo Seco, long before I had the shop. At that time, she was spinning for 10-12 hours a day in her yurt, high atop a mountain north of Taos in a location you'd practically have to be a scout or mountain goat to find. There she plied her magic on her fibers and left Taos only long enough to sell her yarns at the big consumer shows...Stitches East and West, to be specific...then back to her hideaway to make more.

Many of you may have heard of her yarns and purchased them at these shows under her business name: Widdershin Woolworks. Well, here's the good news...after a five year hiatus in India (where she became a Tibetan Buddhist nun), she's back, and has her dye pots going and her wheel flying. Instead of traveling to the shows right now, she has jumped into cyberspace with the rest of us...and has opened an Etsy shop to sell her wares. Please stop by and say hi to her, and cheer her on while she goes through this crash course in going from third world to learning computer skills, photography skills, etc.

In fact...she's having an introductory sale on her Etsy shop today...a great way to indulge in some top notch yarn at wholesale pricing. Go check it out!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There's a new wheel in town

About 4 or 5 years ago, on the trusted recommendation of my friend Michelle Mueller (more on her in my next posting), I ordered a Jensen D-30 production wheel. It took me a couple of years to take the time to really sit down and bond with it, and once I did, it made all my other wheels pale by comparison. Because Mr. Jensen will make his wheels with the flyer assembly on either the left or right hand side, I was able to order mine with the flyer on the right, to accommodate my left hand draw. Also because of the placement of the treadles and the flyer assembly, I am able to sit comfortably and spin for hours without having to scrunch up or lean over and cause back and neck pain. As much as I love my Kromski Sonata, it turns out I am just too tall for it, and the length of my legs from hip to knee puts the orifice so far away from me, I end up ready for the chiropractor after a long evening of spinning...big bummer, because I love it so.

OK, so much on that stuff. Last year I got all sentimental about Mr. Jensen, and how I would feel if I missed getting another wheel from him before he retires from wheel making, yada yada I ordered another of his 30" production wheels...this time, the Ashley. It arrived last month and is every bit as gorgeous and dreamy to spin on as the D-30. The original D-30 is back in Taos for Michelle to spin on while I'm in CA, so the timing is perfect...Ashley is living with me, here on the coast. If you are lucky enough to own one of these wheels, you already know what I'm talking about. If you aren't, well...I suggest you give it some serious consideration, especially if you love spinning finer yarns. I bought mine from Lois at Bountiful, my long time source for spinning wheels, carder, and fibers...if you visit with her, please tell her I sent you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


If you have any sort of fiber habit, you know what stash is. It's what happens when we're not looking...yarns, fabrics, and works in process seemingly multiply at night, and fill up our closets, drawers, and the ubiquitous plastic containers. It's what we do; we can't help ourselves.

This past weekend I was sorting through my quilting fabrics. I have now moved most of them here from NM. I found a stack of country prints I never used, things that haven't been available for years, probably. Pieces of yardage with replicas of feedsacks printed on them, panels to be framed in a quilt or made into pillows, and yardage with pictures of farms and cows happily grazing. They're pretty cool. I am, however, having to face the facts: I probably need to start letting go of all this fabric, and these are the first to go. If you have any interest, please let me know, or refer a friend to me if you'd like. I hope to be photographing them and listing them on Etsy this month, as time allows, but would rather sell them privately in one or two!

I'm still hand quilting the double wedding ring quilt. I got a bit side tracked when a new spinning wheel came to live with me, but am back on track now. I'm about half done. What's up after that? Not sure, but I found these antique Dresden plate blocks that need to be put into a top and hand quilted...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beach combing #3: what remains

The sea is amazing beyond words that I possess. It always reminds I am no larger or more important than any one of the grains of sand that guard it.

These are some things I found on my walk the other morning: remains of sea plants, remains of sea life, and a relic that was once a weight for a lobster trap. My son's grandfather, who did not live long enough to know my son grew into a knowledgeable waterman in his own right, was once a fisherman off this coast. A single man in his own, small, dory, he earned a living for his own family in these waters in this time honored occupation. Now my son free dives in these same waters to feed his own young more of life's cycles.

I doubt the person who made this weight and used it ever could have imagined it would roll to shore and be shared with people all around the world one day...isn't that cool.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beach combing #2

Many of our beaches in this area are accessible only by staircases. The bluffs have become extremely unstable and there are stories about people who've lost their lives while merely sitting on the beach, folks who've lost their homes, or suffered serious damage as a result of living right on the edge. I don't recall anyone thinking about all this when I was a kid, although I know it was a reality.

What I DO remember is that the bluffs didn't seem to be leaking so much water as they do these last many years. I can't help but wonder if this isn't a result of people over watering their yards and the resulting seepage. I think lots of people forget that this is a desert, not Hawaii.

Over the years, many measures have been taken to try to stabilize the bluffs. I suspect these large rocks are one such attempt. I have a question, if there's a geologist out there, reading this: what would have caused these very regular marks on these boulders? I took lots of photos, there are many more such examples, not all exactly identical. I am intensely curious. If anyone knows, please let me know!