Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had such a nice weekend. On Wednesday we went over to Friday Harbor to set up for the annual Island Artisans crafts fair that is held at the elementary school. Joel put up the lattice walls and set up the tables for me.

On Thanksgiving Day we slept in late on the boat, took a nap, joined friends at the Grange for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, went back to the boat and went to bed early. For the self employed that is a rare kind of day. We loved it. One of our daughters came up from Seattle on Friday, went to the crafts fair and then back to Waldron with Joel.
Meanwhile I stayed behind and peddled my wares. I always start my own Christmas shopping at this fair as I love getting as many gifts as I can from fellow artists.
This year was no exception. A new vendor in the booth right next to mine had the most wonderful dolls for sale and I bought one for my 3 year old granddaughter. The doll is almost as big as she is. She found the booth at once and Mom had to keep taking her away from the dolls. I hope she remembers that when she gets hers for Christmas.
This morning when we started for home it was really foggy. The water was still and calm and most of the time the fog was just above the waterline so we could actually see where we were going. I love fog. It makes everything so mysterious. This is Pt. Disney in the fog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Finished at Last

These are the last of the potholders still on the loom. Today I wove for 5 hours almost straight finishing up 2 1/2 boas. I feel like I have run a marathon! But it is all done. Everything is woven, hemmed and the labels are on. I'm going to go soak in a hot bathtub. Let's hope the crafts fair is remunerative. This community is good at supporting local enterprises and the organization that puts it on gives art scholarships to Friday Harobr High School students. Our daughter, Siri was a recipient her last year in high school so we have a special reason for supporting them with our booth fees. I'll be gone until Sunday and will hopefully have pictures and a report of the sale.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter Market at the high school

Yesterday was the second winter Farmers Market of the season. This year it is being held at the Friday Harbor High School cafeteria. The school is participating in the Experience Food project this year which involves getting local foods into the school. I can swear that the lunches at school are delicious. I look forward to subbing just for the food this year. And the length of the lines at lunch time testify to the success of the program. For more information check the Land and Sea Slow Food club link at the right.

One of the high school Land and Sea Slow Food club members came to give us a hand and experience the market from behind the counter. He was a great help keeping the baskets filled with produce during the first hours rush when Joel and I have all we can do to keep up with the customers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sewing Hems

I'm basically finished with the weaving part of getting ready for the Thanksgiving crafts fair. I've added a link to the organization, Island Artisans, who puts on the show. They offer a scholarship to a high school students each year and Siri won one her year of graduation. But I still have all the hems on 60 potholders, 7 new rugs and 28 placemats to sew. Sewing at my house involves sitting on my bed and treadling my sewing machine as I don't at present have any better place to put it in this small house. It is actually an old black cast iron Singer straight needle machine that belonged to my mother who I believe bought it during WWII. I inherited it and as it has an external belt I can hook it up to a treadle base. Any non electronic sewing machine with an external belt drive can be hooked up to a treadle. This is another of my non electric choices. It does everything I need it to do and I get good exercise while using it. Now, I have to admit that I am a bit envious of a friend's new Pfaff machine that will embroider designs from her computer. She is a watercolor artist and wants to take details from her paintings and embroider them. I plan on hanging over her should and vicariously enjoying her machine.

And as the piles of of finished products grew Fang came to supervise. (Fang came by his name when as a 6 week old barn kitten that I was trying to catch, he bit me really hard. He turned out to be a big soft wuss of a cat but the name has stuck).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Diplomacy or War

The wood pile is one of the favorite hibernation sites of yellow jacket queens. They crawl in between pieces of wood hoping to be able to spend the winter there. We have learned to check each piece carefully before bringing wood into the house. Otherwise the queen warms up, figures spring has come and starts flying and buzzing around the house. When she figures out that spring hasn't come she looks for another place to overwinter and boots, sleeves of jackets and under pillows are favorite sites.

Now, I am not a sentamentalist where animals are concerned. These things have nasty stings. I'm not allergic and neither is anyone in our family, but those stings still hurt so we try and avoid them. But I have learned over the years to have a huge lot of respect for these small creatures. These queens carry in their bodies all the eggs for an entire colony for next season. They have to stay alive not only for themselves but for 4000 or 5000 members of their colony. In the spring she will come out of hibernation and make a small paper nest in a tree or in a hollow space in the ground. She will lay enough eggs to get a corp of workers going and will feed them until they are ready to take over the jobs of making a bigger nest and feeding the rest of the young.

As long as her nest isn't on a major traffic path or in the wall of the house (that happened one year) we leave them alone. They are major predators of cabbage worms and aphids and in the years when there aren't a lot of yellow jackets around we immediately notice an increase in those two garden pests. So we don't engage in an all out war against them but try diplomatically to not harm them when they are in situations where they aren't going to harm us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Land and Sea Slow Food Club at the High School

We spent the day in Friday Harbor with the Friday Harbor High School Land and Sea Slow Food club (see link at right). They met at Steps restaurant where chef Madden Surbaugh showed them how to make a wonderful winter squash soup from local ingredients grown on San Juan Island and scones from our wheat. We donated 3 pounds to the project and then joined them to see what they did with it. Above one of the students is mixing the flour they ground from the wheat with butter they made from local cream and a bit of locally made goat cheese.
And lunch is ready. The soup was delicious as were the scones.

We had a lovely ride home on a flat calm sea. Now, this evening, it is foggy out in the channel though it is clear here and we can hear ships' horns from the shipping channel just to the north of us. I love that sound.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smells Like Coffee?

Joel planted lettuce seedlings in one of our hoophouses yesterday and the place smells Last year's lettuce crop in the hoophouse was seriously damaged by wireworms. These are small, stiff, yellow grubs, the larva of the click beetle, that burrow into the stem of the plant and eat it out from the inside. All you see is a suddenly totally wilted, dying lettuce. If you pull it up and check the soil right around the stem you can sometimes find the culprit and dispatch it. We had been unable to find a successful organic solution for the pest until we talked to our friend who brought us all those potatoes a while back. Seems he was gathering up coffee grounds from a number of local restaurants as something to add humus to his soil. But as he grows several acres of potatoes he never had enough coffee grounds to treat the whole place. He noticed that he had no wireworm damage to his potatoes in the places where he had put the coffee grounds. Potatoes are another crop that we have had a lot of wireworm trouble with, so we are trying it, first on this lettuce bed and hopefully next spring on some potato plantings if we can gather up enough grounds by then.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More and More Rugs

I wove the last three on the blue and green warp and am treating myself to a sit down at the computer. Joel is making curry for dinner and there is a third batch of apple butter simmering on the stove for me to can this evening. I'm on a roll. I'm ahead of my schedule. I'll spend the next couple of days finishing off two warps of potholders and making a few more boas and knitting hats in the evenings. I could have an office job, I know. I like this much better.

I've started listing my rugs on a new online crafts market, 1000 Markets. The link is to the left. I would like to sell more online and less away from home, but even if I can't give up the fairs I can give my customers a link to my online shops when they ask. And it is also true that I love the social aspect of the fairs. It's where I get to see my friends in the local artist community.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Bread and New Hats

Joel baked the first batch of bread this season. He doesn't have time to bake bread during the summer when the farm takes over our lives, so it is a special treat in the fall when he finally finds time to do it. He'll bake bread for us every week until spring. He makes such GOOD bread. Toast for breakfast!!
Meanwhile I've been making lots of new hats for the Thanksgiving sale, for Island Studios in Friday Harbor and for a friend who has two galleries in LaConner. I set them out on the sofa to start figuring out which flowers went on which hats. James thought they looked cozy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Loom Parts

A comment on my last blog reminds me that I often use weaving terms that are not going to be familiar to the general public. So now and again I will try and remember to define my terms as I use them. Above is a picture of the warp going through the reed. It's called a reed because the little narrow slats were once made from reeds. The reed determines how many threads, or ends, per inch (epi) you want for the density of the cloth and holds the warps out to the desired width of the piece. Above is a twelve dent reed (12 slots per inch). They come in a variety of sizes and you can put one or two or three or more threads in each slot or skip dents for a wider spacing of your threads.

Next the threads go through the heddles. Heddles are long pieces of metal with an eye in the center. They are hung on the shafts. This is a 4 shaft loom. Each thread goes through one heddle on shaft 1, 2, 3, or 4 depending on the pattern I am threading. This is how you thread the weaving pattern that you have chosen for your piece. The shafts move up and down as you push on the treadles to create the pattern.
This is a closeup of the threads going through the eyes of the heddles.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Rugs

I finished the second batch of placemats this morning and am in the process of putting on another warp for rag rugs. This one will be in dark colors. The warp is navy blue and dark green. I have been collecting a whole lot of plaid flannel sheets and solid colored ones in blues and greens. So the first step is to toss them all out on the bed and start making up combinations. Each rug uses at least two different sheets and I usually use one plaid or printed and one solid. Not always, but that is where I usually start my planning. I can make 7 rugs on a warp with the equipment I am using so that means 14 sheets. Above are a few of my choices. As it was sunny today, although not particularly warm, I went out on the back porch to start tearing up the sheets. This is a rather linty process so I like to do it outside. After my fingers started to get too cold I came back in and started threading the loom. I have the threads all through the reed and will start threading the heddles tomorrow morning. I hope to start the first rug by tomorrow afternoon. I have two and half weeks until the big crafts fair so I am trying to hustle.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Brussels Sprouts

The dark wet days of fall and winter are also the days I get to eat as much as I want of my favorite vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. Last winter we lived on Brussels Sprouts and winter squash. I think I bought one head of lettuce and a few red peppers from the grocery store before spring greens were available. I love these little cabbages. My oldest daughter got our middle daughter to eat them when the latter was about 5 by calling them Fairy Cabbages and Fairy Cabbages they have remained for us ever since (about 30 years ago?). We tell our customers at market that that is what we call them. They are really popular and always sell out fast.
My favorite way to cook them is to simply steam them until tender but last Christmas Siri introduced us to roasted Brussels Sprouts that she had gotten in a deli in New York. You just put them in roasting pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper and roast until tender and just a bit browned on top. Delicious.

We serve all our brassicas with Ginger Tamari, a recipe I originally got from Kate Stone of Katrina's Restaurant in Friday Harbor. When Kate closed down her business and moved to New Zealand she gave me the recipe as I mourned the loss of one of my favorite condiments. I've changed the recipe a bit over the years and here is my current version.

Ginger Tamari
1/3 c water
1/3 c rice vinegar
1/3 c soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar*
1Tbsp sesame oil, hot or not*
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger root*
* to taste
Pour into a bottle and shake well before serving. To serve pour over Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, whatever.

Friday, November 7, 2008

November is Recharge Month

It's been pouring for the last two days, so hard that our satellite internet connection has been down. You know you are an internet junkie when you're unhappy when you can't get to your email and blogs.

In the islands, where unlike the mainland we don't look to the Cascade Mountains snowpack for our water supply, we have to depend entirely on rainfall to recharge the wells and ponds and underground aquifers. Studies have shown that if we don't get a normal amount of rain in November we usually can't make it up before March when the trees and grass start to grown again and suck up most of the water as fast as it falls. Then if we get a dry summer we start running out of water in August. This year we didn't have to start watering until July so our little pond which supplies most of our irrigation water, wasn't pumped totally dry as it often is. With all the rain of the last two days, close to 2 inches I understand, the water is muddy from running down the banks. When it is full the island in the middle disappears.

So although fretting about no internet I have been spending the rainy days knitting more hats and weaving more placemats and potholders for the big Thanksgiving weekend sale in Friday Harbor and making a big batch of apple catsup while listening to the rain fall on the roof. There is something so very cozy about being warm and dry and listening to the rain and being grateful for all the water that will be available next season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can


Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be

Shel Silverstein

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

We have never had trick or treating on Waldron for Halloween. There is usually a party at the school but since we no longer have kids in school we don't usually go. But we do love to put lighted jack-o-lanterns out at the end of the driveway for anyone driving by to enjoy. But this Halloween we were going to be in Friday Harbor as we go over to market the night before and stay on the boat in the port. We still wanted to put up at least one jack-o-lantern but weren't sure that if we lit it at 3:30 when we left that the candle would last until dark. So we put our LED light head lamp flashlight in it hoping the batteries would last long enough. Well, when we got home this evening it was still going strong. Those LED lights take so little electricity.
On our way out from the dock we noticed that the Caleb Haley, a 60' fish buying boat that was tied up to the dock, had a jack-o-lantern on its mast.


On the way to market yesterday I stopped every quarter mile or so to take a picture of the fall foliage along the road because it was so beautiful with the light coming through the yellow maple leaves. These are about the best of the bunch. It is so hard to capture that light and color. I think painters can do it more readily.
On the way home we saw these amazing streaks of light exactly opposite the sun. I've seen sights like this in the morning with the sun coming up, but this sun was behind me and going down. I tweaked the photo a bit to make the streaks stand out more which is closer to the way it actually looked although the water wasn't that dark.

Now we're home, and the wind is blowing and it's raining, but all the boats are in and people home, the fire is warm and cozy, so let it blow and let it rain.