Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Suddenly . . . September

There was a bite of autumn in the breeze on the beach this morning when Cairo and I took our walk.  It is a glorious day here.  The osprey have left their nest at the end of our street.  I was used to their screeching when we walked too close to them, but all was quiet this morning.   Soon it will be September and the tourists will go home and the children will go back to school.  Cairo and I will once again spend our morning walks in quiet contemplation.

Clara left our nest on Sunday morning at 4:30 am.  She'll be making her own in Seattle in a matter of days.  She was jubilant, even though it was the middle of the night.  I was sad and couldn't keep from crying.  I am so happy that she is running head first into her future, loosening the apron strings, but I will miss her terribly.  She spent just about every weekend with us this summer.  I'm rattling around the house by myself, finding it hard to settle.  Pete is riding shotgun for the trip across the country.  They are camping and hiking whenever possible.  I believe they are in Wyoming right now, in Bighorn National Forest, and they spent a day in the Badlands.  Pete will fly home sometime this weekend after Clara is safely enconsed in her new home.

Now its time for me to get to work in earnest.  I have seven shows in eleven weeks, starting with the Peconic Ruggers Rug Show/Hallockville Fall Festival September 15 and 16.  Two weeks and counting . . . . 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On the Table Tonight

All of our dinners have been "farm to table" the last few weeks.  Pete's garden has been so plentiful.  A friend is coming to dinner tonight and what's in the picture above, plus a couple of ears of corn and grilled salmon, is what I'm serving.  Pete's  Slovenian heritage makes him crave lots of salads with vinegar.  He makes a tomato salad with thinly sliced onions, basil, and oil and vinegar, just like his mother and grandmother use to make.  He likes to do the green beans like that, too, minus the basil.  His new salad this year is an Asian cucumber salad.  He slices the cukes and onions on a mandolin and tosses them with oil and rice wine vinegar and a tiny pinch of sugar.  All a variation on a single Slovenian theme.  They are all delicious.

I am a little more adventurous in the kitchen.  I made us bruschetta one night -- chopped Brandywine tomatoes, chopped red onion, basil, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil -- on slabs of bread I toasted in a cast iron pan on the stove top with some olive oil.  I rubbed the grilled bread with a clove of raw garlic before putting the tomato topping on.  Lord, was that delicious.

I used the zucchini to make what Pete calls "Zucchini Boats."  These are great, especially left over for lunch the next day.  I take four or five 6 inch zucchinis and halve them horizontally.  Then I scoop out the innards and chop them up and set them aside.  I chop up a nice big onion and sauté it in a little love oil. I add to that one chopped red pepper and one chopped fennel bulb and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. (The fennel really makes this -- so don't leave it out.)  Cook those up with the onions until they start to wilt.  Add the zucchini innards, salt, pepper, and some chopped herbs -- oregano is good or basil -- whatever you have fresh.  Cook it until it is all wilted and the flavors have melded together.  Let this mixture cool a little and add half a cup of freshly grated romano or parmesan cheese.  Stuff into the hollowed out zucchini halves.  Mix another half a cup of grated cheese with a half cup of bread crumbs and a tiny drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle on top of the boats.  Place in a pan with at least two inch sides.  Pour about a half inch of water in the pan with the boats.  Bake at 350 for about half an hour.  Yummy.

Are you hungry yet?  Come on over -- we have enough veggies for everyone!

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm a Little Punchy Today

I've been experimenting with rug punching using wool strips.  Thought perhaps I could produce more stuff faster for the fall shows and add a new technique to my repertoire. I think this pumpkin looks like I was punch drunk when I made it!  The loops are all higgledy piggeldy, which makes me a little crazy.  I like things nice and neat.  And I find the process rather wasteful -- punching leaves lots of long ends that end up as waste, as you can see in the photo.  No verdict yet, but I don't think I'll be doing this very often.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What I'm Working On

This rug is the pride of my antique rug collection.  It came from the collection of William Winthrop Kent, who wrote three fabulous books about hooked rugs and rug hooking: The Hooked Rug (1930),   Rare Hooked Rugs (1949), and Hooked Rug Design (1949).  He was, in many ways, a counterpoint to the teachings of Pearl McGown.  Kent discusses the history of hooked rugs in his first book, in the second he analyses North American hooked rugs, and in the last, he encourages rug hookers to create original designs.

I was lucky enough to attend the sale of the contents of his home a decade or so ago, when his last living relative passed away.  Jessie Turbayne was there, talking about the rugs, and this one is pictured in her book Hooked Rug Treasury.  When I created my two sets of note cards featuring my collection of old rugs, I was sure to include this one.

When I send orders out to customers, I always include a personal note on one of my note cards.  I also use the cards to invite people to my guild's shows, classes and hook ins.  Imagine my surprise when I received a call from Naomi, who received one of the cards, asking me if I sold a pattern of this rug.  The answer was, of course, no, but I told her I could probably do that for her.  We met at the Long Island Fiber Festival last year, and I brought the rug along to show her.  She loved it, and asked for a pattern, but larger.  Okay, no problem, I thought.  And please put it on rug warp.  Okay.  I don't use rug warp for my patterns, but I can order some.  We're all ready to go.

It's now a year and some months later and I am still at it.  I admit to a large amount of procrastination, partly because Naomi said she wasn't in a hurry and because this is a real challenge for me.  The final measurement will be 4 1/2 feet by 4 1/2 feet.  That's pretty big for a hand hooked rug.  The only spot I have big enough to draw it out is on the cement floor of my studio.  It's a little tough on the knees and the back, and watching me get up after a sketching session is not a pretty sight.

Just getting a large enough piece of paper was a task.  I like to draw my patterns out on giant graph paper that comes in pads from Staples.  I had to tape four sheets together to get 54 inches square.  I've drawn and redrawn and erased so many times the paper is getting thin.  I am having to be careful.  Getting the proportions right is not as easy as I thought it would be.  Thankfully, I am just about finished with the drawing.  Now it will be interesting to get the pattern on the light box in sections to transfer it to the rug warp.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Julia!

Today would have been Julia Childs' 100th birthday.  What a woman!  Click HERE to see Public Television's tribute to her.

The Best No-Cook Summer Supper Ever

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cosmos in the Kitchen

A quiet but sparkling afternoon all to myself.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

I spent yesterday in the kitchen with the dye pots going full force.  I ran out of pumpkin colored wool.  I use a lot of it when getting ready for the fall shows and I've sold a lot of it lately.  I guess everybody else is getting ready for fall, too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Windy Day on Peconic Bay

We had a lovely afternoon swimming in Widows Hole, with the sun shining and the wind blowing fiercely. Such fun visiting friends, splashing around with the dogs and the kids. Came home to clams on the half shell, cold beer and small naps. The wind brought in much needed rain and it's back to work this morning.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Sheep's in the Meadow

How sweet is this sewing box my sister Barb made?  It is for sale in her etsy shop right now, though I bet it won't be there for long!  Click here for Barb's etsy shop: thimblefolk

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Already? I am having a hard time focusing; a hard time not wanting to wish the days away. I've been trying to figure out what is making me feel so out of sorts and I realized last night it is a stultifying sense of impending loss.

It started with my computer. My beloved MacBook Pro is dying a long, slow, death. It is almost seven years old, way past its estimated life of three years. (Laptops have much shorter lives than desktops.) The screen is slowly fading, the battery (its second) won't hold a charge so I am tethered to my desk, which totally defeats the purpose of having a laptop. If I accidentally knock the power cord I lose whatever I am working on. It is slow as molasses in January (which sounds great to me right now, as I fight the urge to turn on the air conditioner yet again). My friend and computer guru Seth has been urging me to get a new computer for almost a year. So tonight he and his son Kai, an almost nine-year-old computer whiz, are coming over for the grand un-boxing of the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I was thinking of naming it Tilly (why? I have no idea), then realized that it is a machine with a very short lifespan and I had better not get too attached . . .

Next in line: Poor Cairo, my million dollar mutt, is not doing well. Although he will always look like a puppy, he will turn ten in February. That's not so old for a little dog, but his health issues keep growing and there's not much to be done about them. I found a lump on his chest last month, which, thankfully, is a fatty growth and not cancerous. The real trouble is his cough. The vet thought he might have a collapsed trachea, but that's not the case. Turns out that his allergies are making the spot where his windpipe meets his lungs swell and he is not getting enough air. His lungs don't look good. He's been on steroids for two weeks now, but as soon as I started weening him off them, the cough came back. We've tried and tried to find a treatment for the allergies, which make his nose produce gobs and gobs of mucous, to no avail. He's had x-rays and cat scans, inhalers and steroids, expensive hypoallergenic food, a rhinoscopy, allergy testing -- I even put him on a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet for several months. Nothing helps. 

I thought my wool might be an allergen, even though the allergy testing said not, so I spent two weeks moving my studio from the attic, which has wall-to-wall carpeting and holds the wool dust, to the basement in the addition we put on a few years ago. The floor down here is cement, with radiant heating, and much easier to keep dust free. I have a vacuum with a HEPA filter and am planning on getting an air purifier.  The vet says Cairo could be allergic to me . . . I am worried that the stress on his system will shorten his life span and the thought of that is heartbreaking. 

Lastly, and most importantly, my lovely daughter Clara has decided to move to the west coast to study Biological Oceanography. I am, intellectually, proud of her for deciding to follow her dream, but, emotionally, I am a wreck. She has chosen a difficult path: she must take many undergraduate math and science classes and get a post-baccalaureate degree in Marine Biology before she can get the graduate degree she wants. It will be years of hard work and thousands of dollars and it will happen on the other side of the country. We are exceptionally close and I don't know how either of us will deal with the change. I know it will be good for her, but it is just so very hard to not be distressed about her upcoming move . . . I know from past experience (sending her off to college and on trips all over the world) that once she leaves, I will be fine. It's just getting through the next few weeks . . .