Friday, December 3, 2021

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

I donated my well-loved and well-used Ashford spinning wheel to the thrift shop today. I seemed to have lost the knack for spinning and my kids--although they had fond memories of this wheel--had no place for it. Besides, it really needed a home where it would be used for spinning, and not just for display. 

My favorite local thrift/charity shop, Rock of Ages, agreed to take the wheel, all my spinning tools, and three large bags of wool, silk, angora, llama, and alpaca fibers. I hope that someone will buy it all and will use the wheel for many years. It would be a wonderful Christmas gift for the right person.

I ordered the wheel in 1975 from the Ashford Company in New Zealand. It came as a kit which I put together myself. It was a great learning experience and I was always glad that I knew every part of my wheel, its name and function and how everything went together. I kept the directions all these many years. 

Here I am, back in the day, spinning with a group in a park in Sumner, Washington. At that time, I was an early member of The Moonspinners, a spinning guild that met in the evenings. I also co-owned (with my friend, Marj) a spinning and weaving shop in Sumner called The Country Weaver.

This shawl was my last big project--hand spun, hand dyed, and knit of soft wool. You can follow the whole process in this post, From Sheep to Shawl. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Thank You For Your Kindness

As I was lacing up my sneakers for my morning walk today, I realized that the very people who had helped me so much had last seen me in severe pain, but had never heard the rest of the story--the story that they had set in motion through an act of kindness. This post is a thank you to them and a reminder to us all that what might seem like a small kindness can change someone else's life.

Back in 2007 when I was 62 and still working, I was in so much foot and knee pain that walking was becoming more and more difficult. I had even cancelled out on our proposed 25th anniversary trip to Italy the year before--we had a family trip to Yellowstone instead, where I was wheeled around in a rented wheelchair by my cheerful son, Ben, who made wheelchairing fun. 

I had come to believe that joint pain was a part of growing older. As I limped through each day, I was resigned but sad to be missing out on so much.

One day, while walking down the hall at the school where I was librarian, I was hit with such severe knee pain that I grabbed at the wall for support. I hadn't realized that one of my fellow teachers was walking behind me and saw my agony. Di, an occupational therapist, took me by the elbow, saying "You are going to the principal's office with me, NOW."

It turned out that the principal had a wonderful orthopedic surgeon. She handed me the phone number and these two good samaritans stood over me while I phoned and made an appointment. I will thank both of these women to the end of my days!

Within a week, I got a shot in my knee that gave instant relief that lasted several months. I met with my own doctor and we mapped out a plan to deal with my bad joints starting with the ground up. I had foot surgery as soon as it could be scheduled, which meant that I had to retire before the end of the year as originally planned. 

Once I had healed, we moved cross country to New Mexico. I had my right knee replaced in April 2008 and the left one replaced on November 8th of the same year. 

People talk about life-changing events, and now I know just what they mean. Because of the kindness of two women (and the expertise of medical specialists) I can walk without pain. I'm 76 now and, since those surgeries, have been to France and Iceland. I've hiked in many amazing places around New Mexico and the Southwest. I walk six days a week through pecan orchards and along irrigation canals with my friend Florence, who is five years older than me and who inspires me every day. 

Thank you to the friends who saw me in pain and found a way to help. You made such a difference in my life.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

July Morning

This is that morning, the one where there is some indefinable something in the air that promises that autumn will come. Is it the coolness, the dew (so rare in the desert), the sound of the owls hunting in the orchard? Autumn is still months away and the day will soon be blazing. But, still. This is that morning.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Thinking About San Francisco

I'm working on this puzzle and it's bringing back so many memories of my childhood in San Francisco--waking up to the sound of foghorns and seagulls, riding my bike around the block in the fog, going by streetcar to the children's room in the big library on 19th Ave., getting lost in Golden Gate Park, going to Fisherman's Wharf with my parents for fresh crabs (and later sneaking the stinky shells into the trash cans down by Ocean Beach).

We lived in San Francisco from 1945 to 1956. I arrived as an infant in a little Ford with my parents who had driven cross country from Maine. At first we lived in housing for naval workers at Hunter's Point. At some point my parents were able to purchase a house on 48th Ave., just one block from the beach. When I was five, my little sister was born. (Note: My parents sold that house in 1956 for $11,000. Houses in that neighborhood are priced in the $750K's now!).

It was such a different time for a child. I rode my bike anywhere on the block as long as I didn't cross any streets. There were three taverns on that block and I would hold my breath as I passed to avoid the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke. There was also a lady who lured children into her house to teach us Bible stories with a felt board. I went for the felt board, which fascinated me. I don't think I ever mentioned this adventure at home--not because I was being naughty, but just because kids' activities weren't generally a part of our dinner table conversations. 

A neighborhood friend and I took her doddering old grandpa on a walk to nearby Golden Gate Park where we all got turned around for a bit before finding our way home again. I wonder if my parents even knew we had gone. We were probably around seven at the time.

Francis Scott Key Elementary School, opened in 1908. In the late 1930s a more modern FSK school opened, but this old building, known as "The Annex" when I attended K-3, was still in use in the late 1940s 

When I was ready to go to kindergarten, my bachelor uncle (unfamiliar with children, I imagine) walked me there on the first day--down 48th Ave. to Judah Street, then up Judah to 43rd Ave. The second day he sent me to walk there on my own. To my credit, when they eventually found me, I was standing in front a big house painted in the same brown and yellow colors, but many blocks away.

I walked a couple of blocks down 48th Ave. when I was probably in 4th grade, to a skating rink to take ice skating lessons. Once again, by myself. No one hovered in those days, and the term "helicopter parent" had yet to be invented. 

Eventually I was allowed to go on the streetcar by myself to the library--what an adventure! I would take out as many books as the librarians would let me pile up and would start reading on the way home. 

Going back to work on my puzzle now.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Audrey Gets Dressed Up For the New Year

Here is Audrey on November 1

She is a Turken or Naked Neck chicken, but when she is molting she is naked all over in patches. 

What a mess!


By November 18, you can see that Audrey has begun the (painful-looking) process of growing out new feathers. 

Here is a graphic illustration of what is happening. The whole technical explanation that goes with it can be found on the Cornell University Bird Academy's page "Everything You Need to Know About Feathers." It's really worth your time to look at this beautifully illustrated article.

And here is Audrey today, January 14, in all her iridescent splendor. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Books Read in 2021

This list will be added to during the year.

Backman: Anxious People Audio

Bharara: Doing Justice; A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law

Box: Dark Sky (Joe Pickett #21) Audio

Brown: Inferno (Robert Langdon #4)

Brown: The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon #3)

Brown: Origin (Robert Langdon #5)

Cameron: Bone Rattle (Arliss Cutter #3)

Cameron: Open Carry (Arliss Cutter #1) Audio

Cameron: Stone Cross (Arliss Cutter #3)

Church: The House at Otowi Bridge

Cleeves: The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope #1)

Cleeves: The Darkest Evening (Vera Stanhope #9)

Cleeves: The Glass Room (Vera Stanhope #5)

Cleeves: Harbour Street (Vera Stanhope #6)

Cleeves: The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope #7)

Cleeves: Raven Black 9 (Shetland Island #1) Audio

Cleeves: Red Bones (Shetland Island #3)

Cleeves: Silent Voices (Vera Stanhope #4)

Cleeves: White Nights (Shetland Island #2)

Clinton: The President is Missing. Audio

Conroy: The Water is Wide

Doerr: Cloud Cuckoo Land

Evanovich: Eleven on Top (Stephanie Plum #11) Audio

Evanovich: Fortune and Glory (Stephanie Plum #27) Audio

Evanovich: Hard Core Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24) Audio

Evanovich: Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #26) Audio

Evanovich: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) Audio

Evanovich: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) Audio

Evanovich: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) Audio

Grafton: W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone #23)

Grafton: Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25)

Grisham, J.: Camino Island (Camino Island #1)

Grisham, J.: Camino Winds (Camino Island #2)

Grisham, J.: The Chamber

Grisham, J.: The Confession

Grisham, J.: The Firm

Grisham, J.: The Guardians

Grisham, J.: A Painted House

Grisham, J.: The Pelican Brief

Grisham, J.: The Racketeer

Grisham, J.: The Reckoning

Grisham, J.: Rogue Lawyer

Grisham, J.: The Rooster Bar

Grisham, J.: Sycamore Row (Jake Brigance #2)

Grisham, J.: A Time for Mercy (Jake Brigance #3)

Grisham, J.: A Time to Kill (Jake Brigance #1)

Grisham, J.: The Whistler (The Whistler #1)

Grisham, J.: Witness to a Trial (The Whistler #0.5)

Grisham, S.: I'll Take Your Questions Now

Haig: The Midnight Library Audio

Hamilton: Blood is the Sky (Alex McKnight #5)

Hamilton: A Cold Day in Paradise (Alex McKnight #1)

Hamilton: Die a Stranger (Alex McKnight #9)

Hamilton: The Hunting Wind (Alex McKnight #3)

Hamilton: Ice Run (Alex McKnight #6)

Hamilton: Let it Burn (Alex McKnight #10)

Hamilton: Misery Bay (Alex McKnight #8)

Hamilton: North of Nowhere (Alex McKnight #4)

Hamilton: The Second Life of Nick Mason (Nick Mason #1) Audio

Hamilton: A Stolen Season (Alex McKnight #7)

Hamilton: Winter of the Wolf Moon (Alex McKnight #2)

Hannah: The Four Winds

Hiaasen: Strip Tease. Audio

Hoffman: Magic Lessons (Practical Magic #0.1)

Johnson: Daughter of the Morning Star (Walt Longmire #17)

Johnson: Next to Last Stand (Walt Longmire #16)

Johnson: Now in November

Mandel: Station Eleven. Audio

McCall Smith: Chance Developments Audio

McCall Smith: The Colors of All the Cattle (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #19)

McCall Smith: The Department of Sensitive Crimes (Detective Varg #1) Audio

McCall Smith: The House of Unexpected Sisters (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #18) Audio

McCall Smith: How to Raise an Elephant (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #21)

McCall Smith: The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #9). Audio

McCall Smith: To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #20) Audio

Meltzer: The Escape Artist (Escape Artist #1) Audio

Millet: The Children's Bible

Montgomery: The Soul of an Octopus

Morgenstern: The Starless Sea. Audio

Moriarty: The Husband's Secret

Newman: Falling. Audio

O'Farrell:  Hamnet. Audio

Patchett: The Dutch House. Audio

Patterson: Cross My Heart (Alex Cross #21)

Patterson: 1st Case 

Patterson: The Summer House

Pears: Arcadia

Pears: The Raphael Affair ((Jonathan Argyll #1) Audio

Picoult: The Book of Two Ways. Audio

Raden: The Truth About Lies; The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit

Shipman: The Charm Bracelet

Smiley: At Paradise Gate Audio

Smiley: Some Luck (Last Hundred Years, A Family Saga #1) Audio

Waters: The Woman at Otowi Crossing

Winton: Dirt Music

Winton: The Riders

Wolff: Landslide; The Final Days of the Trump Presidency

Woodward: Peril