Friday, March 16, 2012


There is progress.  The tartan is coming along.  The first picture I showed you implied that more was woven than had been woven; that is, the cloth just went around the breast beam at the front of the loom but now it is much farther along and headed toward the cloth storage beam at the back of the loom.  Not quite a yard yet but close:
If you look closely (or click on the picture for a closer look) you can see a narrow strip of heavy cardstock on which I have marked the color sequence using colored pencils.  I use that strip to be sure that the plaid is truly woven to square.  I have used this method for decades now to be sure that plaids can be sewn without problems matching at seams.

There is progress in the garden, too.  Yesterday afternoon, when the light wasn't good enough for a photo, I noticed that one of the early daffodils was nearly ready to open.  You can imagine my surprise this morning when instead of just one, I saw this:
It was a warm night and that was all it took.  Now, it will be warm tonight, too, they say, before the storm blows in tomorrow with lots of rain which will turn to snow.  These sweet flower faces are likely to be plastered to the ground by heavy snow.  If that happens, I will rescue some to enjoy on my kitchen table.
Along with the daffodils, there are new things blooming, more tiny, early bulbs:
This is blue pearl crocus, an extremely early variety and quite small (less than an inch across).  The trace of blue is on the outside of their petals.
Additionally, I noticed another early arriva (pushkinia or striped squill):
It's pretty breezy outside right now so they are very slightly out of focus.  What appears to be pale blue petals are actually white with a narrow blue line that leads to the tiny, pale yellow cup where the pollen is.  Seen under ultrviolet light the blue line is very bright and is sometimes called a pollen guide.  I think of it as landing lights for bees so that the can see right where to go.  Unlike us, bees see into the ultraviolet.  For two or three years after I first planted them, I thought the petals were pale blue--until I took a closer look.  This little plant convinced me to look more closely ALL the time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wonderful things!

There are three wonderful things I want to tell you about today.  First, is the fact that the tartan weaving is finally underway.  I have been so sick for so long that I have lost nearly a month which means it will be delivered a lot later than I had planned.  But here is is:
The weaving is going smoothly so far.  There are six (6!) colors which adds to the work.  Most tartans have just five colors, a few have fewer.  But it is what it is and now you can see it.  It's 37" in the reed and I have yet to weave one yard so there is a long way to go.

 The second wonderful thing is a book that arrived in the mail yesterday from England.  It is a copy of Ann Richard's book.  Here is the cover:
Because of the third thing I have to tell you, I have not had time to go through the book well and certainly no time to read it.  But, from the limited look I have had it is just what I expected from Ann:  it is beautiful, quiet in its design, gorgeous and very, very well done.  I am going to enjoy this book very much!  It won't be available in this country for a while yet.

The third thing was the performance I attended last night.  The Utah Symphony and Opera is putting on Donizetti's The Elixir of Love now and it is lovely.

The sort of singing required (bel canto--and what a good name because it is "beautiiful singing") is very exacting particularly for the main characters, Adina and Nemorino.  As you probably know the story is set in a small town (for us an American town in the mid-west in the decade right after the turn of the 20th century) where there is a naive young man, Nemorino, who is madly in love with the prettiest, smartest girl in town, Adina.  He isn't subtle about his interest in her and moons over her;  she scorns him.  A travelling patent medicine salesman blows into town selling bottles of cure-alls.  Because Adina had been reading to everyone about Tristan and Isolde where a love potion figures in, Nemorino thinks his only chance is a magic elixir.  Do you see where this is going?

An army recruiter comes to town and sweeps Adina off her feet and a wedding is set up for the same evening.  Meanwhile, Nemorino has taken the elixir (actually Burgundy) and confident that it will work, relaxes, flirts with the other girls and waits for results.  Adina is cat-like in that solicited she walks away, but ignored she comes around our of curiosity with the inevitable result:  In the end the two young people realize their love for each other and all ends well.

The sets were completely charming, with the action taking place in the town square in a gazebo structure, the kind used then for band concerts.  Costumes were pretty.  It always interests me to notice how the colors are chosen so that our attention is directed to where it ought to go. 

Our Adina was played by Arya Matanovic and Nemorino was Aaron Blake.  Both were definitely up to their vocally demanding roles and acted convincingly as well.  Rod Nelman was the travelling medicine man, Dr. Dulcamara.

The opera is in start contrast to the last.  There is nothing light or cheerful about Rigoletto, a truly horrifying tale, but Elixir was just lovely in all kinds of ways.

So, three wonderful things to report this fortunate am I?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home again!

It is always a joy to come home again, even if I have had a wonderful time while I was away.  I suppose that simply means I live in the right place for me.  I was in Portland, Oregon from the middle of last week until late last night presenting programs (day meeting and evening meeting) and a two day workshop on weave structures for the Portland Weavers Guild.

It was a joy to see folks I know from past years there and then there was the surprise of several weavers whom I met in other places (Hi, Linda, Carol and Judy).  It was a great class and I enjoyed every member of it.

Sad to say, the cough that had followed me for two weeks resumed on Tuesday so I missed my exercise class, choosing to lie low to conseerve energy for the trip the next day.   Good thing I did.

Today is my first day back and I've been to buy groceries and to see if there is anything that will boost my immune system.  I am rarely ill, so the last three weeks have been very discouraging.

I noticed last weekend that some of the very early bulbs I plant had come up and are blooming.  Today they weren't too far gone to photograph.  Here are the yellow winter aconites and the green and white of the snow drops.  I plant them because they bring encouragement at this time of year!
This little flower is only about one inch (2.5 cm) across.  The petals in the right light are so shiny that they appear to be enameled.
The snow drops are so tiny that I have included my fingertip to give a sense of scale.  They are such a bright white that they almost seem to be a light source.
Let's hear it for the signs of spring to come.  My weather woman says we will have snow a week from today....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

There's always something, right?

It seems that when things are moving along, something comes up.  I fought the respiratory illness for close to two weeks and had, piecemeal, measured out the warp for the tartan.  I got it beamed and then sighed with pleasure.  I really enjoy and look forward to the threading process.  For me, it is almost a meditation.
But to thread the AVL on which I had beamed the tartan warp, I have to take it apart enough so that I can put my threading bench (Thanks, Jim Hocket!) inside.  And that is where the "something" showed up.  To pivot the bench to make room for sitting, the carriage bolts that fasten the bottom of the bench supports so that the bench can be rotated from roughly horizontal to vertical must be removed.
The carriage bolt had rounded the hole on the right side so that I could not loosen it to remove it.  No matter what I did, the bolt just turned.  Hmmm. 
I decided that if I could score the rounded head to make it more like a slot-head screw, perhaps I could gain purchse on it and unfasten it.  I made a trip to buy files and worked on that for nearly a day.  No good.  I couldn't make a nice, snug slot nor could I hold the bolt still with any screwdriver I own to unfasten it.
The next day I decided that I needed to cut it off.  I had to buy a new hacksaw that would fit into the space and a stouter blade.  I sawed and sawed, turned the bolt a little, sawed more and repeated that all the way around until I had cut through the nut and into the bolt a little.  You can imagine my relief when I was able to remove the nut and then the bolt!

By then it was time for me to stop and prepare for the lectures and the workshop I am to present this week in Portland, OR.  The sorting process, as usual, took almost the entire day today but the bag is packed full to bursting and ready to go.

This evening I have rewarded myself by getting into the loom and starting to thread:
You will recognize the colors from the photo of the tartan sample I showed you a few days ago. 

I had hoped to be this far along almost two weeks ago but sometimes life interferes with the best of plans!