Monday, November 30, 2009

Show and tell

I haven't had time in weeks to sit down at my wheel, but that doesn't mean yarn isn't being spun. I am totally blaming Sara for a new hobby for which there is not enough time! Not only am I filling up this "Punkin's Patch" spindle with singles, I decided I really need a lace-weight spindle for finer yarns. But how does a complete beginner to spindles go about choosing a good lace-weight spindle? There's a guy on the Yahoo Spinning list who makes spindles; since he is a "regular," getting one from him seemed less of a risk than buying from a complete stranger. So I emailed him, asking if by chance he would be open to a trade of fiber. He emailed back and said he has plenty of fiber but is interested in natural dyestuffs; did I have access to black walnut hulls or other plant materials? I do, in fact!

Last week on a beautiful afternoonI drove over to this treeon a friend's farm, donned my rubber gloves, collected over 12 pounds of black walnut hulls,and sent them off in the mail. In exchange, I got this lovely little tool:

I do intend to get back to my wheel soon; I would love to hand over another eight ounces of two-ply pure alpaca yarn by Christmas to the alpaca farm owner who is trading me spinning for fiber. Isn't bartering wonderful?

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our Thanksgiving weekend

"On the first day of Thanksgiving, I served my family . . .
Baby carrots and pickled beets,
Curried butternut soup,
"Turkey" Almondine,
Fresh steamed cauliflower,
Cranberry Jello salad,
Homemade crescent rolls (with homemade strawberry-pineapple-rhubarb jam)
and Pumpkin Pie Cake (with Breyer's vanilla ice cream)!"
(Sung roughly to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas")

After my dad and his wife Louise arrived on Thanksgiving day but before we could eat, Rick's pager went off - twice. My dad offered to drive Rick to his emergencies since Rick still hadn't attempted a stick shift since being cleared to drive, so dinner waited. After dinner there was another emergency to attend to before we could settle in for some real visiting - and yes, Sharon, there was a violin solo or two. :-)

On the second day of Thanksgiving (I always think of Thanksgiving as Thursday-Sunday), the guys and I spent the morning target shooting before heading to the Evergreen Air and Space Museums. Dad and Louise haven't been here since the space museum was built or the firearms collection went on display, so there was lots of new things for them to see. (Rick met us there because he had yet another emergency; but that time he drove himself - and did fine.)(ACK! I look pregnant standing there like that! Rick told me he almost said something about my stance before taking the picture, but thought better of it since I WAS holding a loaded gun - and am a pretty fair shot. ;-)

On the third day of Thanksgiving, Rick, Brian and I went to church while Dad and Louise visited the museums again, then we all met back at the house for Thanksgiving dinner leftovers (and some baklava) before our guests headed north for a brief visit with other family before heading back to Spokane on Sunday. We sure enjoyed the visit - and that went for EVERYone, including the dogs! Dad and Louise brought their year-old dachshund along, and oh, how the dogs played!
On the fourth day of Thanksgiving (today) we tackled leaves. Got the arena all cleaned up; then I turned Russell out. Talk about being pent up - too bad my camera batteries were in the house charging! After the fireworks subsided I put Russell away and turned the other three horses out. They were just as full of beans. It's been a long, dry spell for turn-out around here; so glad to have the arena available again!

After a late lunch, we went on our annual "tree hunt." I'll admit it, after the Kentucky trip, a busy week following our return including Rick's surgery, and out-of-town company, I had no enthusiasm for the task, but we didn't think Brian could stand to wait two more weeks (Rick is going to be out of town next Sunday). We had a dry day on which to hunt, and came to a relatively quick consensus on the best tree. We got it up, but not decorated - yet.
Speaking of hunting, Rick and Brian had to go on a frog hunt this morning. Brian brought in a plastic truck and horse trailer from outside, and out hopped a tiny tree frog! Rick finally got the wee creature out from under the piano; it was still and dusty and we weren't sure if it was okay. Then it perked up and hopped off Rick's hand into my front flower bed full of candytuft foliage. Live long, little leaper!
That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes Dozer, you are one of the blessings we'll be counting tomorrow!

We've been rather absorbed since returning from Kentucky with the usual catching up after a trip, Rick's surgery and recovery (he wasn't allowed to drive until today), and getting ready for a Thanksgiving celebration with family who arrives tomorrow. When it's all over but the digesting, I'll have news to share, and comings and goings to document!

Giving thanks at . . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

History class

We couldn't visit Boonesborough to see how Rick's great-great-great . . . uncle Daniel lived, since it was closed for the season, so for edification we visited Mary Todd Lincoln's teenage home in Lexington. Abraham Lincoln is Brian's favorite president (probably Rick's and mine, too), so we looked forward to a glimpse into related history. (No photography is allowed inside, or I would show you the two spinning wheels I spied.) It was interesting to learn about the drastic contrast in upbringing between Mary Todd and her future statesman husband, and tragic to think of her as a widow who had lost three of her four sons, and was then committed to a mental hospital by her sole living offspring. I added several books to my reading bucket list thanks to this very interesting part of our trip.

Our tour of the Mary Todd Lincoln house completed, we had just enough time to grab a quick bite before heading to the airport. Fortunately for us, the landmark was only a couple blocks away from an eatery Deb had recommended, Stella's Kentucky Deli. Deb didn't steer us wrong; the fresh-and-local food was very tasty and the venue was all charm!

As we headed to our car, it started raining - perhaps to ease us from "perfect vacation" to "reality at home"? Oregon is a long, long way from bluegrass country, where horses are everywhereand tobacco fills barnsand overflows onto outdoor racks.

Thanks for the memories, Kentucky and friends. We love you!

Not into horses? Just move along, then.

Kentucky is famous for its bluegrass and fine horseflesh, and we wanted to see some of that horseflesh in action this trip. We thought about going to Churchill Downs to catch some races, but when we learned that we could watch horses being breezed at Keeneland and take in the November Breeding Stock Sale, that won out. So our last morning in Kentucky we packed up early and headed out to see some blue-bloods doing what they are born and bred to do - RUN!

At first we didn't see much action, but it was still a beautiful sight:
Then the horses started coming by, first in one direction, slowly:
Then from the other direction.
I could have watched them "fly without wings" forever, but our stomachs started complaining so we drove down to the "greasy spoon" Track Kitchen and ate with the locals. Then it was time to head over to the sale barn. There were beautiful horses everywhere.Too bad this black stallion wouldn't fit into my suitcase! Hubba hubba!

This was the covered walking area attached to the auction barn. Broodmares, racing prospects and weanlings were kept moving until it was each one's turn to head into the ring.

We were told by the veterinarian we met on Saturday that we would likely see a record-breaking sale - record-breaking LOW prices, that is. The referral practice she works for is down 50%, and the thoroughbred industry is really hurting. We heard Keeneland was the only Kentucky track that didn't cut their racing schedule this year.

This lovely mare was the first horse in Tuesday's sale, and brought by far the highest price of any of the auctions we watched. Some went for as little as $1000; quite a few sold for $3000. Hard to market the "sport of kings" in a suffering economy!

Since nothing in the sale was in our budget, even at such depressed prices, we headed back through the grounds to the grandstand to visit the gift shop and Christmas shop before leaving Keeneland.
We took one last look at the track:and headed into Lexington for our last destination before flying home to . . .