Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Aftermath

I was looking forward to a white Christmas and I got it -- along with some undesired repercussions!

The snow was beautiful while it lasted.  The little tree in the back yard looked like a marzipan treat.  Pete and Clara did some cross country skiing through the streets of Greenport.  The streets were clear enough by Monday to get out and about and finish all the last minute Christmas shopping, but . . . 

On Monday evening I was sitting in the dining room and heard a noise that every homeowner dreads -- the slow drip, drip, drip of a leak in the roof -- the brand new roof on the brand new addition!  I couldn't believe it.  I turned off the light, put a bowl under the fixture and yelled to Pete to come down.  There was an ice dam -- what had melted during the day froze up and backed up under the shingles.

Our contractor (the fabulous Dan Finne) came first thing in the morning and had a crew shoveling off the snow, breaking the ice and putting down a new roof -- a torch down, I think they call it -- and the whole thing was sealed and safe by 3 pm on Wednesday.  Turns out the pitch of the roof on the addition is a 1 1/2, and shingles should not be used on a pitch that is less than a 4.  This is just the last in a long list of mistakes made by the architectural firm (Fairweather-Brown) we hired for the project.  (I'll write a long post about the many mistakes and inadequacies of this firm at a later date -- after I submit the $3,000 bill for the new roof to them.)

So now we have the ugliest, but driest, roof in Greenport.  The whole experience made for an extraordianarily stressful few days leading up to Christmas.  My sister Barb joined us Thursday afternoon and stayed until Saturday.  Paula and Ann celebrated Christmas Eve with us, and our old friends Anne-Marie and Mike and their daughters Natalie and Charlotte arrived on Christmas day and stayed over until Monday.  I was so exhausted from the stress by Christmas morning I could barely keep my eyes open. It took me days to recover.  I am looking forward to 2010 -- we won't be renovating a thing!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day!

The snow finally arrived in full force.  By 11 pm the snow was so deep on the back porch that Cairo struggled to get out and about.  This morning Pete had to shovel a path for him.  We have all been up and out in the snow since before 6.  What fun to have a snow day!

Our House

Seth & Valerie's House

Bittersweet by the Front Door

Saturday, December 19, 2009

9 PM

First Flakes

2:45 pm -- the first flakes of snow are falling.  Will we really have a blizzard?  It's taking forever to get here . . .

Waiting for Snow, Waiting for Christmas

This time tomorrow we should be buried in 12 inches of snow.  That's a lot of snow for an area as temperate as the North Fork.  We eat tomatoes off the vine all the way through November and we can almost always pick a rose on Thanksgiving day.  So this is a big weather event for us. 

Cairo and I had a very cold and short walk on the beach this morning.  The neighbors are hitting the IGA for extra milk and parking their cars in the driveway to make way for the snowplows.  Pete unearthed our snow shovel yesterday and put away the bicycles and rakes in preparation for 40 mile-an-hour winds.   I'm about to get started on some cookie dough -- there's nothing like fresh cookies when snow is flying -- after my own quick trip to the grocery and the library.  I plan on snuggling up on the sofa this afternoon with a mystery.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I've been getting ready.  We got the tree up last Friday, just in time for my rug hooking guild's Christmas lunch on Sunday.  I've been cooking and baking and wrapping gifts.  Clara took her last final yesterday and drove home.  It's very festive around here!

We are expecting a blizzard tomorrow -- a real nor'easter with up to 12 inches of snow and 45 mile an hour winds.  I'm thinking of baking spritz cookies and meringue mushrooms, and curried chicken for dinner while the snow is flying! Maybe we'll have a white Christmas after all . . .

Seafood Wontons


Curry Bows

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peconic Ruggers Raffle Rug 2009

I have been a member of the Peconic Ruggers since its inception more than a dozen years ago. It is a great group. The monthly meetings give me a chance to catch up with people I rarely see otherwise. I'd like to say I catch up on my hooking, but I never seem to get any hooking done at meetings. I'm too busy chatting!

I am hosting our yearly Christmas party this week (sorry . . . only paid members are invited!). We will be drawing the winning ticket for our annual raffle rug and I wanted to give readers a chance to buy some raffle tickets should they want to. You'll have to act fast, however!

This year's rug was designed by the multi-talented Jennifer Schordine of Mojo's Place. Jen is an awarding-winning painter of folk art. Her work is collected by celebrities and average joes alike. She recently turned her hand to designing rug hooking and punch needle patterns. The guild is incredibly lucky that Jen decided to lend her talents to the raffle rug this year.  Many guild members did the actual hooking.

If you would like to buy a raffle ticket or two and have a paypal account, contact me asap at and I'll get your name in the drawing. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. If you win, the guild will mail your rug to you, no matter where you live! Good luck!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Snow

I got all dressed up in my rain gear in order to walk Cairo this morning, and he wouldn't leave the porch! It's not fit for man nor beast outside today -- the wind is howling and it's pouring rain. There's snow west of here, but our proximity to the Atlantic often keeps the snow at bay. I'm actually a little sad about this. I'm planning on putting some Christmas music on and making some cookies today and some snow flurries would be just the right accessory.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Arrived Today

We woke to frost this morning, and sun, at long last.  I just turned on some Christmas music and finished the shopping list for my guild's Christmas party which I am hosting next Sunday.  I have a few presents to wrap and then Pete and I will have lunch at North Fork Table and Inn. (This is the current home of pastry chef Claudia Fleming, formerly of Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan and a winner of the James Beard Award.  I can't wait for dessert!)  It's going to be a good day.

My thanks to everyone who called, emailed and commented about Simon's death.  Your thoughts and words are all much appreciated.  Cairo, who viewed Simon as his primary source of competition, and rightly so, is actually missing him.  It was my habit to feed Simon just before I went to bed, so we wouldn't have to smell the stinky stuff, and I always let Cairo lick the spoon.  Now that there is no spoon to lick, Cairo won't come to bed.  He sits by the kitchen counter waiting to lick the spoon.  The first night I had to pick him up and bring him upstairs.  He certainly is a creature of habit.

Though waiting for Simon to go was painful and I really miss him, I have to say I do not miss opening the stinky cat food and cleaning the kitty litter, daily chores for 15 years.  And last night, when I looked at the living room couch and matching chair with matching cat scratches on the left arms, I realized I could buy new furniture and it would remain intact.  Scratching the furniture was Simon's one foible: no matter how many scratching posts or boxes I bought, he always sharpened his claws on the furniture.

So we are all looking forward: to new furniture, to Christmas, to a healthy and prosperous New Year -- except for Cairo, who is still looking for the cat food.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So Long, Sweet Simon

All Clara wanted for Christmas when she was five was a kitten. I was determined to make it happen. I called around -- no kittens. I finally saw an ad in the paper for animals at a shelter about an hour's drive away. I called and the woman claimed to have lots of kittens -- for free even, and she'd give me a case of cat food if I adopted one. I dropped Clara off at school and headed to the North Shore Animal Welfare League, thinking I'd be back in time to pick her up from school. Ha.

I started the day battling scores of other people trying to find pets to give as Christmas presents. The woman on the phone had lied to me. They had lots of cats, but only four kittens -- two sets of siblings -- and they wouldn't separate them. If you took one, you had to take the other. One pair was an adorable set of tiny little marmalade kittens -- they were feral and attacked anyone who walked by their kennel. The other pair consisted of two tuxedo kitties -- mostly black with a touch of white on the chest, and the male had 2 white toes on his left rear paw. They were nine weeks old and were named Sylvester and Tweety. Ugh.

I knew I couldn't bring home two cats without asking Pete if it was okay, so I went in search of a pay phone (this was long before cell phones). There weren't any at the shelter, because they did background checks on prospective adopters and didn't want them warning people they would be calling. So I got in the car and found a pay phone. Pete said okay, and it was back to the shelter, where I started filling out lots of forms. Oy.

By this time I knew I wouldn't make it back to Greenport in time to pick Clara up from school, so I drove back to the pay phone and arranged for someone to babysit. At the shelter they were processing my application and calling my references. They had me sign all sorts of papers that made me promise to raise the cats indoors, get all their shots and have them neutered when they came of age. That done, they sent me off to the cashier. Huh?

The cashier asked me for a $25 donation. Okay, I said, but the ad says the cats are free -- what if I can't afford $25? All she said was, "we'd like a $25 donation." So I wrote out the check and handed it to her. She handed it back. "$25 for each cat, please." (Isn't this called "Bait and Switch?") I tore up the check and wrote a new one, hoisted the case of free cat food (free my you-know-what!), took my kittens and headed home. Whew.

A friend kept the kittens for me for two nights. I picked them up on Christmas Eve after Clara was asleep. My sister Barb made a big tag that read: To Clara From Santa. Open Me First" and had a big paw print on it. Clara woke up on Christmas with the worst cold ever, but she tore the lid off the box (it had air holes!) and squealed with delight. She carried both cats under her arms all morning and kept saying, "I can't believe I got two kitties!" which in reality sounded like "I can't believe I got two titties!" because her nose was so stuffed up. We still laugh about that.

Clara renamed the cats Lily and Simon, aka Lillehammer (the winter Olympics were held there that year) and Simon Two-Toes (he had two white toes). Lily was a cat's cat -- aloof but affectionate when she chose to be and a little bit wild. She was Clara's cat through and through. Simon was more like a puppy -- he aimed to please and would let Clara dress him up, turn him upside down -- whatever -- as long as he was fed and petted. Barb said she thought he was just grateful to have been rescued from the shelter. Simon was my cat. Every morning he would sit on my lap as I drank my first cup of coffee. On cold nights he'd paw at the blankets so I'd lift them and he'd curl up behind my knees. He had long legs and his tail curled into a question mark when he held it upright. I loved him.

Lily developed thyroid problems several years ago and we had to have her put to sleep. We scattered her ashes across the front yard, where she escaped to whenever she could sneak out of the house. Simon remained as strong and healthy and graceful as ever -- until a few weeks ago.

I knew his time was drawing near, and made the decision to not take heroic measures and to keep him as comfortable as I could at home. He hated the car and he hated the vet and I didn't want to put him through the trauma all that entailed. The only place he wanted to be was on the newly recovered sofa, so I covered it with plastic and towels and made a nest with an old fleecy blanket. I brought him food and water and carried him to the litter box. Yesterday he kept meowing for me and would only be quieted if I stroked his chin and ears. When I left the room, he crawled to the edge of the couch, dropped to the floor and yowled. I picked him up and held him and he died in my arms.

Pete buried Simon in the back yard, not far from where he buried our Jack Russell Ruby (aka Sweet Ruby Beets), who was Cairo's aunt, and our angora rabbit, Ash, whose only nickname was the uninspired "Ashes", and the myriad number of gerbils and hamsters and mice and fish and frogs and turtles that have populated our home over the years. They all enriched our lives in one way or another -- even the white mouse who stunk to high heaven -- but Simon was the pet with whom I felt the strongest connection and it is Simon I will miss the most.

So long, sweet Simon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Turkey Leftovers

Here's an update on my use of leftovers:

Turkey Soup:  Fabulous -- and I have about 10 quarts of it in the freezer for cold winter days.

Turkey Enchiladas: The best turkey leftovers ever!  I used this recipe:
Aunt Rebecca's Red Enchiladas from Good Morning America's website. I made 2 batches and put one in the freezer -- they freeze really well.

Turkey Tetrazzini: Blech. I found this recipe on someone else's blog and their photo made it look so good -- but I hate it. It is too pale and too heavy and I will probably toss what is left of it. It reminds of Tuna Noodle Casserole, which is a big no no in my recipe book. Peter was good about eating it, but I'll never make it again.

The turkey is gone now, but if you have some good uses for left over turkey, let me know. I'll try anything once.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American Folk Art

American Folk Art did a themed update yesterday at noon -- Holiday Cheer.  To visit and purchase some lovely items, click here: American Folk Art.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

I am thankful last week is over! Actually, I am thankful for many things, but I made so many silly demands of myself last week, that I couldn't even think about being thankful until today.  I learned a big lesson this holiday -- my friends and family love me even if my house isn't completely finished.  Our guests didn't notice what was missing or what wasn't perfect.  They were just happy to be here.

We had a massive meal on Thanksgiving.  I planned on 20, but we ended up with 16 (see some of them above).  I cooked a 22 pound turkey, most of which is still here . . .    We started with an assortment of nuts (smoked almonds, pistachios, and mixed nuts to open yourself) and hummus with pita bread triangles.  Paul and Linda brought an assortment of cheeses and crackers, tortilla chips and guacamole, and more hummus! We had lots of vegetarians so I made lots of side dishes.

Baked Wisconsin Wild Rice (from the Odena Reservation -- a gift from Pete's parents)
Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Truffles (my favorite dish of the day)
Cippolini Onions Roasted with Thyme and Sea Salt
Swiss Chard (home grown by Pete) with Tomatoes and White Beans
Cranberry Pecan Dressing
Roasted Butternut Squash
Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic
Cranberry Relish
Spinach Salad

Claire brought:
Beet Salad
Sweet Potatoe Casserole
Sauteed Mix Greens

Tamir brought:

For dessert: 2 pumpkin pies, 2 apple pies, and vanilla ice cream

We were stuffed to the gills, but managed to play a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit with questions from 1984, the year I bought the game.  The young'uns couldn't answer most of the very old school questions.

It was wonderful to be together with Pete's cousins again, although we missed Joe and Spencer, and Max and Ros and their families.  We spent many summer weekends together at their parent's home in Southampton when we were younger.  The day brought brought back fond memories for all of us.

Now I am off to make Turkey Soup, Turkey Enchiladas, and maybe Turkey Tetrazini.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Means Too Much on My Plate

and I don't mean my dinner plate . . .

We've invited four of Pete's cousins and their families for Thanksgiving dinner. That means there will be about 18 at the table. We thought we were serving at 2 pm, so those who live in Manhattan get home at a reasonable hour. Turns out nobody received that email. So dinner is moved to 4 pm, so the Connecticut contingent can take the ferry over. Some are sleeping here, too, so we are turning the attic (formerly Clara's room) into a bunk house for the boys (there are a lot of boys -- although they really are men now), and moving Clara to a little room she covets in the new basement with radiant heat in the floor.

This would not be so much to handle if I didn't have a three-day show starting the day after Thanksgiving, and if our newly renovated house was completely decorated. I've done a lot in the last two weeks, but in my haste I have made some bad choices, like the rug I bought for the family room, which is going to be hidden in the basement really soon.

 We've turned it around and angled the chair and put a new coffee table in and tried to hide it with plants and baskets, but it is just wrong.   But with so much else to do -- including babysitting for the neighbor's little boy today and helping with show set up again tomorrow and more grocery shopping to do, I am going to live with it for awhile, even if it means wearing sunglasses every time I go into the room . . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Country Parlor Holiday Home Show

It's almost time! Check out the Country Parlor blog!

Country Parlor Holiday Home Show
Thanksgiving Weekend 2009
Friday, November 27 9 am to 3 pm
Saturday, November 28 9 am to 3 pm
Sunday, November 29 10 am to 2 pm

How to get there:
Route 58 Riverhead, New York to Northville Turnpike (3.5 miles east of Tanger Outlets)
Turn left onto Northville Turnpike to end at Sound Avenue
Turn right onto Sound Avenue and head east
Hallockville's Naugles Barn wil be approximately 2 miles east on the left

Simply the best Holiday Show on Long Island!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

thimblefolk on The Primitive Gathering

Barb has some new seasonal treats on The Primitive gathering -- update today!Why not visit? Click here: thimblefolk on The Primitive Gathering

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For the Birds

The North Fork branch of the National Audobon Society is having its Holiday Bazaar and Indoor Yard Sale this Saturday, from 10 am until 4 pm, at the Red House nature Center on the North Road (Route 58 in Greenport, New York. I'll have a table there with hooked rugs and Christmas Stockings, rolled wool and needle punched pins, and a few other things. Join us if you can.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


We've had some remarkably warm and sunny days this past week and I actually remembered to bring my camera along when I walked the dog.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christmas TEA

The Eclectic Artisans Christmas Sale
Opening: Saturday November, 7, 2009
7 pm

We are excited to bring you the most splendid handmade folk art, primitives, early American, and whimsical style artwork. Stop by and shop and join in our scavenger hunt to win hand-crafted prizes!

Monday, November 2, 2009

You Know You're Procrastinating When . . .

. . . you spend an hour trying to unroll the thread and wool caught in the wheels of your desk chair.

. . . you spend another hour cleaning the felted wool out from under the keys of your laptop -- and then try to figure out how to use it in your hooking.

. . . you spend an hour taking pictures of your dog because your blog readers think he's cute.

. . . you blog about how bad a procrastinator you are believing people will think its funny.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We're Working on Reds Today

Well, I'm working on reds today . . . Cairo is working on his beauty rest.

It's a quiet first day of November here. Pete left on Friday to go hunting with his brothers and his 92-year-old father. I think they are going after ruffed grouse and I'm hoping Pete doesn't bring any home . . .

I was left on my own to tend to the trick-or-treaters, who wiped me out of candy by 7:30. I talked to Clara, who was dressing for the Morbid Ball at Skidmore. She went as Darth Vader on a Caribbean vacation. Picture her in a wetsuit, a Darth Vader Mask and a snorkel. I'd like to see a picture of that . . .

I watched Hannibal for awhile (the very bad sequel to The Silence of the Lambs) because it takes place in Florence and the street scenes transported me back to our trip last April . . . I just looked away during the really gory parts.

Today I'm in the studio, folding red wool when Cairo will get off of it, and working on finishing some small things for my upcoming shows. It's only 5 and the sun is setting . . .

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Progress Report

I'm making progress on the studio. Cairo isn't helping -- he's just sits in that basket of scraps, no matter where I put it!

I'm still washing wool, and still carting things in from the garage. I'm hoping to be finished by the end of the weekend. Ha! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving Day(s)

I'm moving my studio. I am a little sad, because I love the light in the garage, and the amount of space and storage options. But the building sits on a slab and it is getting too moist in there, and in the winter, it is too cold for my aging bones. I struggled with the wood stove and the mess the ash made daily, and I'm tired of people at rug shows asking why our booth smelled like a campfire. Pete, who is both a painter and a sculptor, will be moving into the garage (he loves playing with the wood stove), and I am moving to the basement in the new addition, which has radiant heat in the floor.

The move is taking me forever. I am washing every bit of wool I own (which is considerable, I must say). I want to get the wood smoke smell out, and make sure there are no critters brought into the new room. Every time I bring in another pile of wool, Cairo tries to find a way to sit on it. Here he is in a basket of scraps:

And here he is sitting in the wire cubes I'll be using for wool storage:

I'm going through every scrap of fabric, every piece of paper, every button, in an attempt to have a neat an orderly new studio. I'll let you know if I succeed. Needless to say, I'm not taking any bets . . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zippy Pins

One of the funnest things about the Sheep and Wool Festival is meeting new people. An energetic and creative mother and daughter team stopped by our booth on Saturday to tell us about their new business venture: Zippy Pins. They are manufacturing all manner of buttons with cute and clever sayings on them.

They have several pins aimed at the fiber fanatic market, but they'll create almost any button you could want -- for yourself, or to sell. (Yes, they do wholesale!) I saw scads of people with buttons all over their backpacks, camera straps, tote bags, hats -- you name it, people covered it in buttons. Jamie and Jenna gave us some samples to sell. We sold four within minutes of displaying them in our booth.

Their website has an artists' gallery, as well as a page for creating your own designs. They make key chains, zipper pulls and magnets, too. They're both very friendly, and I'm sure they're easy to work with. I plan on ordering a bunch soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back from Rhinebeck!

Last week was tough -- I hooked long and hard on the dog rug and ended up with pain in my shoulder, and I spent hours worrying about the bad weather predicted for the weekend. I was sure this would be our worst show ever. Wrong! Fiber fanatics obviously don't care about rain and snow, because they showed up in record numbers and nearly wiped out our booth on Saturday.

Here's our booth early Saturday morning before the gates opened. See my red, white and black dog rug? I love it.

Other views of the booth:

We shared our spot with our friend Susan Borger, who has given up lavender to start the buttonshow -- a collection of her own needlepunched and vintage buttons and shawl pins. I neglected to get a photo of her always charming booth, but I am sure she will have a picture on her blog, susanbmade.

I sent Susan up the hill (man, I walked that sucker more times than I can count!) to Barn 36 to see the fabulous work of Julia Hilbrandt. She creates very sophisticated purses and pillows from industrial felt. Susan came back to our booth sporting a beautiful purse. When I spoke to Julia, she was sporting a big smile. She had a successful weekend, too.

Our friend Linda Repasky of Woolen Whimsies once again occupied horse stall H in Building 26. It sparkled with Kevin's clever lighting fixture and all the beautiful Gloriana Lorikeet wool thread Linda stocks for needle punching. Linda's work -- including the frames she so carefully paints -- is just magical. Here's a somewhat blurry photo of Linda's smiling face.

Linda's partner, Kevin Cooke, made that wonderful set of nesting Shaker boxes piled on the table. He also made the teeniest tiniest shaker box I've ever seen -- just about an inch long!

My baby Clara -- now a senior at Skidmore -- came down from Saratoga to visit me and her Aunty Barb on Saturday afternoon. Skidmore's Parent's Weekend always coincides with the Sheep and Wool Festival, so I have to miss it. I was really pleased she made the effort. We left Barb in charge of the booth and went in search of furry things that we could pet.

Every year we see this fellow with one of his flock on his lap. This is Vasey, a very friendly angora goat.

I am always happy to see Toni of The Fold, who sells the famous Socks that Rock yarn. She moved from Building A to a bigger booth in Building B this year, which helped to accomodate the hoards of knitters waiting for a skein of that delicious stuff. Her friend Thor joined her team this year. It's great to see a 6'2" Viking who loves to knit!

We had a great time. We always have a great time. We're already getting ready for next year: October 16 & 17. Hope to see you there!