November 1, 2015

Teatown Reservation Fall Foray

It is the first of November. The weather is incredibly mild and the skies are a bit grey and gloomy. Peter was itching for a hike (fairly uncommon for him) so he, Dakota and I headed to Teatown Lake Reservation.

IMG_0788Here are the active hikers preparing to hit the trail.

IMG_0795Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close up. A reference which went right over Peter’s head.

Dakota really enjoyed the scents and exciting discoveries on the trail.


There were some very pretty sights on the trail. But none better looking than my hiking mates.


October 18, 2015

New York Sheep and Wool 2015

The third weekend in October is the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and for as long as I can remember, I have spent most of the year anticipating the joys of those few brief hours and then, as soon as they are over, wishing they would come again faster and sooner! If they did, it would probably ruin the joy, but that doesn’t make “the day after” any easier.

Yesterday was gorgeous, Brave and patient Jim arose at 5 with me and we got layered up for the usual cold and windy, almost always sunny with a few clouds, patented Sheep and Wool weather. The drive up to Rhinebeck is an autumn delight. We take the windy, twisty Taconic Parkway and as the sky lightens, the colorful leaves punctuate the valleys shrouded in mist and the hills lit by the morning sun. We take turns exclaiming over one bit of scenery or another and repeating how beautiful it is.

We got to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds just past 8:30 and got in line with the other eager fiber-enthusiasts for a timely entry. Aware that part of the day is a fashion show, Jim wore a special hat for the occasion.

IMG_0731The last two years our behavior has shifted at NYSW. No longer do we roam the barns searching out new yarns and beloved vendors. Now the aim is to get there first thing, before the gates open at 9, and to be poised for a determined march to the long tables filled with bags of unprocessed wool that is the Fleece Sale.


This year there were 700 fleeces in the sale. Believe it or not, the best were gone in under 30 minutes. The air at the fleece sale smells wonderfully of lanolin and sheep. Spinners are a fairly orderly crowd. There is no pushing or jostling and there is much kibitzing and conversation, but, make no mistake, each bag of fleece chosen is carefully guarded and I will confess that I have looked most keenly at a beguiling bag as another spinner has considered it and pounced the second their hand moved away. I can be a lady, but I am no fool.


The fleece ration for Jenny for the day was three–last year’s tally. This is the really tough part. If you only can choose three, how can you revisit beloved fleece, like Romney, and still forge new ground? It requires a great deal of careful thought and patient selection. Luckily, I have my own bag man to watch over treasures while I continue to peruse.

Oddly, as I considered the bags of fleece gathered at Jim’s feet, there were four, not three. Jim, wise man, suggested that perhaps four was the correct number after all. This is why I love that man. He has such good sense.

Fleece #1: the must-have Romney.


They say you never forget your first fleece and my first was a Romney. I still have some of Logan and I will always remember him with great pleasure. This year’s Romney weighed in at 6 lbs. 4 ounces. The sheep was 2 years and 8 months old so this was not his first offering. This fleece was sheared on December 20th, 2014. It seems awfully late in the year for a shearing. He must have been very cold. If you look closely you can see it had almost straight fives with just a slight nick for handle. This is going to be a lot of fun. Romney is just a great all-purpose longwool.

Fleece #2: Coopworth

Coopworth is a cross between Romney and Border Leicester. They are good for both meat and fleece. The fleece looks a lot like a Romney but perhaps with a longer staple. You can see the crimp is a little less pronounced as well. This will be my first time spinning Coopworth. My fleece weighed n impressive 8 lbs 13 ounces and was sheared on April 6th. The sheep is 4 years and 4 months old. This fleece also had 5’s except for a lower grade for evenness of crimp. IMG_0734IMG_0735

Fleece #3: Cotswold

Cotswold is another longwool. The long locks on this fleece are gorgeous. Long and lustrous. I must confess I bought a fleece from this same farm last year and tried to process it myself. I got it all washed and fine, but didn’t have the equipment to deal with the long fleece. I am very curious to see how the roving turns out and maybe I’ll use the locks I have from last year’s fleece in the spinning. This fleece was much smaller weighing 2 lbs 3 ounces and the sheep was only 4 months old so this is his first fleece. He was shorn on June 8th.

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Fleece #4: Corriedale

I saved the best for last. I have also never spun Corriedale but this fleece took Second Prize and is a hefty 7 lbs 8 ounces of future fun. The coolest thing was the shepherdess checked us out and I got to speak with her. I asked her the sheep’s name and she said she hadn’t named it, it was just #146 and she was up in the barns as she was going to the sales. (Hopefully for fleece and not meat). This fleece was sheared on April 29th and the sheep is 1-year-old.



As you can see, #146 got straight 5’s and the crimp is gorgeous. And, the best yet, we got to meet her and pet her. We looked all over the barns and, of course, she was the last sheep we looked at.

The next stop was the area where the fleece processors are set up back where the vendors park.

IMG_0741 IMG_0742 IMG_0746

Long about January my fleece will be ready. Until then, I have bits of each fleece and I can dream my way through the cold weeks to come. We headed home in the afternoon’s darkening clouds. I fell asleep, exhausted from so much excitement. Brave and patient Jim retraced our morning steps and now we must wait another 364 days for NYSW.

October 18, 2015

Autumn Goodies=Apple Butter

IMG_0755It is a rather cool, but lovely fall weekend. Slowly, I am moving from mourning the loss of summer to remembering the beauties of fall. The crisp air, scent of fallen leaves and the different crops of vegetables and fruit which will sustain through the winter. A great joy are the tart, juicy honey crisp apples which we buy from Migliorelli Farms.

While upstate yesterday, we bought a nice lot of apples. Today I have apple butter cooking in my slow cooker and the delightful odor of stewing apples is permeating the house. Soon we will have apple butter to put on toast, oatmeal, cottage cheese, pancakes or most anything. First time with this recipe, but it is sworn by. Go apple picking and make some, too!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

August 29, 2015

Our Own “That Girl” Takes On Brooklyn

This is the first year since 1997 that we haven’t had a first day of school for Ellie. Instead, last Sunday I took Her Highness and a car load of items in to Brooklyn. Ellie’s first apartment.

IMG_0645She is just outside of Brooklyn Heights on Union Street. Up the block is a Dino’s Barbeque and the scent pervades the street. Also up the block is the Union Street “R” Subway stop. Only 11 stops to my office.

This is the view up and down her block. And, most important, the building in which she lives…

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She has one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment which she shares with two other Smith grads–both in finance. It is pretty ideal. The block is a little gritty, but the apartment and building are well maintained.

Of course, we still have one student left in the family and Peter heads back to Pace for his senior year on Monday. With both Peter and Ellie just a few subway stops downtown, I have visions of meeting up for lunch on weekdays when Ellie’s schedule and Peter’s classes permit. It sounds like great fun to me.

March 22, 2015

A Woman’s Life Touches Many Other Lives

Recently I wrote a blog post urging people to join in the fight against extreme poverty. Helping just one woman achieve greater financial independence has a ripple effect through her family, her community and the ripples can extend even wider. This is one reason I support Trickle Up. I love the idea that empowering one person can cause lasting change across many lives.

Trickle Up provides women living on under $1.25/day with seed capital, business skills training, savings support, and coaching so they can build a brighter future for their families. Join our campaign with support at any level to help 150 women in Guatemala become financially independent, active members of their community.

There are few things one can do in just a couple minutes which can have as lasting an impact on lives as this. Women who gain financial sufficiency can feed their families, they gain self-respect, they gain the respect of their families, husbands and communities. It is beyond powerful what a small amount of money can do for someone at this level.

In honor of International Women’s Day two weeks ago, Trickle Up launched an Indiegogo campaign to transform the lives of 150 women (and their families and communities) in Lachua, Guatamala. The huge news is that in just that much time over $10,220 has been raised–40% of the total goal of $25,000! That is tremendous news, but that also means that 60% of the money is left to raise and it gets harder as time goes by.

If we have raised 40% of the goal, does that mean we can only hope to change 40% of the 150 women’s lives that we had hoped to change? Are those women simply out of luck? These are women who live on almost nothing each day and they worry how they can feed their families. They are living without any safety net between them and the people they love and disaster. Yet so little can do so much. Literally, for the cost of a cup of coffee at a fancy coffee store, one of those women can have a chance at an independent life.

Give today. Learn more and donate at

If you haven’t already, please join me in supporting Trickle Up’s amazing work helping families in Guatemala chart a new trajectory for their future. Please share this post with your friends and post to Facebook. Help us reach the goal of helping 150 women to a better life.

March 17, 2015

Pi to the Fourth Power

We celebrated Pi Day by buying an enormous Cherry Pie at Costco. Peter ate most of it. I am not a huge pie fan. I am, however, going to knit a Pi Shawl for next Pi Day. I already have spun the yarn and chosen my patterns so this is just the goal I need to get started and aim for completion. Thank you, Glenna C. Oh, and any reminder of the Great Elizabeth Zimmerman is all right by me, too.

Glenna Knits

My fourth Pi shawl is done, I’m pleased to report, and it even made it just under the wire for Pi Day on Saturday. I cast off around lunchtime and laid it out for blocking that afternoon, and I am well pleased.

(It is also, I should mention, challenging to take full photos of a circular shawl without assistance, so in addition to these I may point out past Pi Shawl posts here and here)


Having done a few of these, I get a lot of Pi Shawl questions. I thought I would go ahead and answer a few of them in a kind of Pi Shawl FAQ, if you will:

How long does it take to knit a Pi Shawl?

For me personally, it’s taken me between 3 months (this one) and 11 months (last one). I liked having the Pi Day deadline for this because I think…

View original post 1,134 more words

March 9, 2015

A Winter’s Garden

A healthy yarn stash is like a garden. If we tend it well, with prudent

weeding and fertilizing, it will feed our creativity indefinitely. –Clara Parkes

Some things a woman just has to do on her own and this weekend was the moment. For weeks I have been half-itching, half-dreading getting all of my yarn out from its various hidey holes and storage places, spreading it across the room and seeing just exactly how much and what I have on hand. Is it as bad as I think? Could I truly open a yarn store with just what I have on hand? Is there yarn which was acquired at some point in time about which I have completely forgotten or do I have a good handle on my inventory? I always love the feeling of wanting to make something and finding just what I need on hand. Could I have that feeling even more often?

With Jim and all the kids away, I decided to find out. Quick before I could lose courage, I raced home Friday after work and like an industrious ant, I began pulling yarn out of drawers, plastic tubs, under the bed storage, plastic bags and before I went to bed, I had this:

001002The Green Room was almost impassable with yarn strewn from one end to the other. Dakota picked his way through the piles carefully and with some concern. You can see him in the photo to the right watching me to see what in the world was

going on. We went up to bed. I guess we were both wondering what I had gotten us into.

It was a tremendous relief Saturday morning to see that the kitties had not touched a thing in the maelstrom of fiber. Good kitties. You can tell they grew up in a house of strings. They know better.

I started tentatively picking at the piles. I tackled sock yarn first. In just a few minutes I had a gorgeous drawer filled neatly with all of my sock yarn. That was the trick. Just take one thing at a time. Soon I had a drawer devoted to lace weight yarn, a plastic bin just for bulky and semi-bulky and another filled with worsted weight. Two ridiculously large bins featured sweater kits–I will never freeze. Another bin held  odds and ends. Luckily, I had help in the form of my faithful hound. He knew just what to do. When you have a snout this long, you gotta rest. A ball of yarn is just what the doctor ordered.

007By the time Jim got home, the green room looked like this:

IMG_0461Not a trace of the disarray. The secret of my long term over-indulgence is safe and only you and I know how bad it really is…psst don’t tell.

March 7, 2015

For the price of a vente latte, a woman’s life can be changed…


Please join me this International Women’s Day in the fight against extreme poverty. Trickle Up, an organization I have supported for several years, provides women living on under $1.25/day with seed capital, business skills training, savings support, and coaching so they can build a brighter future for their families. Join our campaign with support at any level to help 150 women in Guatemala become financially independent, active members of their community.

There are few things one can do in just a couple minutes which can have as lasting an impact on lives as this. Women who gain financial sufficiency can feed their families, they gain self-respect, they gain the respect of their families, husbands and communities. It is beyond powerful what a small amount of money can do for someone at this level.

Give today and your donation will be doubled by generous Trickle Up donors in honor of International Women’s Day. And to thank you for your support, Trickle Up is offering amazing perks. Learn more and donate at

I hope you can join me in supporting Trickle Up’s amazing work helping families in Guatemala chart a new trajectory for their future. Please forward this email on to your friends and acquaintances and help change lives!

September 21, 2014

The Return of the MEU

In April Alex was set to return from his deployment. The 13th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) would return from their almost nine month’s away. Of course, Alex wasn’t with his MEU for most of that time. He was on a special assignment in Djibouti which is just as well since he had no great desire to spend nine months on shipboard.

Jim and I wanted to be there to welcome Alex and his fellow Marines home from a successful expedition so we planned a holiday designed to get us on the West Coast with flexibility to be at Camp Pendleton when the MEU returned. The target date was April 24th.

The Marine Corps does a pretty darn good job with ceremony. They really like a good ceremony and all that it represents. The night before the ships were due to port, there was a Family Dinner on base. Jim and I arrived just in time for cocktails at the Officers and Enlisted Personnel Recreation Center. The building is perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a festive gathering of about 300 family members and friends of the returning personnel. Dinner was exceptionally bad chicken with frozen vegetables, but spirits were high. Most of the evening was a briefing from various officers and chaplains. There were video messages from Commanding Officers congratulating the MEU and the Continue reading

September 13, 2014

Up, Up and Away!!

What do you do when you find yourself celebrating a 31st wedding anniversary in the glorious wine country of Napa Valley?


Cool Napa morning getting ready to soar!

It was still dark and quite cool when we met with the rest of the group for a quick bite to eat and the trip to the balloons. They were just beginning inflation when we arrived.







The balloons were like colorful giants waking up in the cool morning air. We were not the only voyagers that morning.







The valley was filled with the silent giants moving swiftly over the land. DSC03910






Their passage afforded novel views and perspectives.








Time was as altered as our perspective. We were moving at 13 miles per hour on the current of the air, but it felt like we were standing still. There was no wind and no sound, but the far off barking of a dog and sometimes the roar of the colorful giant.












The air warmed and all the great balloons came back to earth. They landed with a thud and a rough slide over the earth. The graceful giants folded into the earth.








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