Tag Archives: friendship

Surprise Opportunities

Each year on this weekend in February, one of the spinning retreats dear to me occurs.  About a month ago, the group received an email from the organizer with the news that the state park facility where it is held had a major equipment failure affected the heating system and the lodge had to close for a couple of months.  The event offered rescheduling in May if enough participants were interested.  Of course we are interested, but it still left a hollow spot for this weekend.  I am not a social butterfly and attended this the first time only after being welcomed into the local spinning group and knowing what part of this group attended the retreat.  Friends have been made there, friends that are only seen a few times each year, but friends that are treasured.

HN group

This is from last year.

Unexpectedly, late Friday evening, I received a text from a number I didn’t recognize, but the info was.  Once established who was on the other end of the exchange, I found out that 4 of my friends from the retreat and had already arranged time off from work and/or care for their critters back home had come for the weekend to the mountain top lodge 4 miles from our house.

Yesterday winter had returned to our mountain with cold rain and wind.  We did our weekly Saturday breakfast out and got to the Farmers’ Market half an hour before they opened.  After waiting the time with a cup of coffee from the local coffee barista, the market goodies brought home and put away, and a quick vacuuming and dusting of dog and cat hair, I packed my sturdy contemporary wheel and a basket of fiber and drove up the mountain for an afternoon with friends.  We enjoyed a late lunch in the lodge dining facility, sat in the sitting room of the suite reserved by one couple, spun, knitted, talked and told tales.

When we are at the retreat, each day winds down with a happy hour at 5 and though we ate late, Jim and I invited them down for cheese and crackers and a beverage from a list of choices.  Three of the friends drove down the mountain to our house and got to meet Jim, the household dog and cat pack, saw our farm, visited for an hour or so and then headed back up for their last evening of the weekend at the Lodge.  Though the retreat was postponed until May, these friends helped fill the void that the postponement had left in my heart.


Two years ago.

Until our next meeting, safe travel home my friends.

Where do you write?

One of my blogging friends, https://thekitchensgarden.com/ posted a challenge this morning to show where you write and encouraged each of her readers to share the challenge.


This is my space in the loft, a reclining loveseat.  This is where I knit, spin, blog, garden plan, and mend.  Sometimes it is also my reading spot.  The Ott light on the table allows me to see what I am doing day or night.  My desk is a beautiful handmade walnut table tucked in the dormer in our bedroom where I sew and write with pen and paper.  It is also the area where I have shelves with my fiber and yarn, my sewing basket, and most of my crafting books.


As you can see, I share this space with one of the pups, the German Shepherd.  And I store the gift wrap station in here too.

Now share where you write in the comments on the blog or wherever you read this with a link to your blog as well, so my readers can find you too.  Let’s remember to play nice.

Retreat. Refresh, Renew

On Thursday morning, after another night of snow and little sleep fretting about whether I would be able to leave, I put my little CRV in low and crept up the drive and road in about 6 inches of new snow, not knowing what the paved road down the mountain would reveal.  I left more than an hour before I was to pick up my friend who was riding with me, just in case I had trouble.

The paved road was covered in snow with only tracks from a couple of vehicles but it was drive-able and when I safely reached the main road into town, they had pretreated it the day before and it was wet but not covered.  Since I had time, I stopped at a local coffee shop and bought a bagel sandwich and a cup of coffee to go and made my way to her house.  Though my friend’s address is a town address and she lives on a street with suburban type lots lining both sides, the lots are large and the street surrounded by farm fields, so the road to her was similar to ours snow covered, but flatter.  Friend was retrieved, suitcases, her product to vend and spinning wheels loaded and off we went to the retreat that is in a lodge in a state park near the New River Gorge in West Virginia.  We had stopped and lunched at Tamarack, a cafe run by the Greenbrier Hotel in a large ring shaped building around snow covered gardens with hand made crafts and food items displayed throughout.  A great place to eat and browse for gifts and crafts.  As I had walked out and left my tea mug on the counter at home, I indulged in the purchase of a pottery mug to take with me.

imageOur room on the 4th floor looked down on the frozen snow coated section of the New River.  The retreat is held in the Lodge conference room and lobby.  It is a gathering of fiber artists, spinners, knitters, weavers, and crocheters.  Many are vendors as well as participants with displays of fibers to buy, jams and jellies, jewelry, and hand made woven or knitted articles for sale.

Spinners, weavers and knitters, socializing and making yarn.
Roving from an abandoned flock of sheep, rescued and 20% of the price of the sale goes back to the rescuer to help her feed and have them sheered. This one in daughter preferred colors, so purchased to spin into yarn for her to knit.
Felted wool dryer balls from one vendor at a good price, so added to our collection.

The Lodge provides us with a complimentary breakfast, specials at a good price for lunch and dinner and even made Red Velvet cupcakes and coffee as a mid day snack at a low price.

We visit, watch each other spin for new techniques, shop at the vendors, chat, eat and have a nightly cocktail party catered by delicious food offerings from each retreat participant.  As many folks leave on Saturday, the door prizes, donated by the vendors and some participants and a gift exchange drawing occur around check out time. I won two bags of coordinated roving to spin and received two skeins of beautiful sock weight yarn to knit.  Wonderful prizes and gifts.  Some folks come for a day, others for a couple and some for the three days.

I have made new friends at the two retreats I have attended, come home with new recipes, fiber to spin that came from the farms of some of the participants or from the door prize drawing.  My big purchase at this retreat was a pound and a half of Coopsworth over dyed roving, enough for me to spin into yarn to make myself a sweater, the first time I will have enough to make a significant project spun and knit by me.  I will share photos of it when I have daylight and begin to spin it.  It took me both days there to fill a bobbin with 4 ounces of fine Dorset Lamb that I bought last retreat and now home, I will spin the other half to ply.  It is natural creamy white and may become my first dyeing project.

I miss my family when away, but the retreat refreshes and rejuvenates me so I come back relaxed and renewed to them.  As a treat, I also returned to a clean refrigerator and a vacuumed and dusted house and clean kitchen, thanks to my daughter.  Glad I bought her the gift.

My friend and I reserved our room for the fall retreat before we left today.

Printed Goodness

Several years ago I joined the eBook populous and either rent ebooks (did you know you don’t actually buy them!  And they can be withdrawn from your library on the whim of the publisher!); or check real books out of the library and rarely buy a print book, but yesterday an exception was made.
A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger sent me a link to another blog for a recipe. The recipe author has penned two cookbooks.

Before I bought either, I wanted to preview them and couldn’t find them in the library so I looked for them in our local Barnes and Noble retailer but they didn’t have either in stock. They special ordered them for me to preview and they arrived just prior to my leaving for the retreat so I couldn’t go look at them. Tonight, after dinner we traveled the two towns over so I could preview them before they were returned or put in their stock.

I couldn’t decide between them, both containing many interesting recipes for putting by garden and Farmers’ Market goodies and I left with both books.  I don’t know whether to thank my blogging friend or not, but I have added to my library and have many, many new ideas for preserving garden goodness, so thank you Yanic for the linky.

Planting Day, Spring at Last

My first seed start of this year was an epic fail.  First, I got anxious and started them way too early, knowing that I can’t plant any tender plants until at least Mother’s Day, and as usual, I gave them at least 8 weeks head start, knowing from past experience that they would get pale and leggy before planting time.  Second, I planted them and put the grow light and heat mat in a back bedroom, not out where I would see them and remember them.  Third, I planted them just as my 91 year old Dad came to visit, we took a day trip to meet some friends, and I spent a week in Northern Virginia babysitting the eldest grand.  Sure enough, I monitored them until just about the time they sprouted, then promptly forgot they were there, so no grow light, no removal of the moisture cap, no watering.  I remembered them while I was in away and by then it was too late to salvage anything.  The tray had dried out planting cubes and 4 to 6 inch long dry threads of plant stems.  My decision was to just go to the nursery and buy pepper and tomato plants this year.  Today as I was running other errands, I looked at the plants.  They wanted more than $3.50 each for them.  The selection was terrible.  Instead, figuring I still have about 4 weeks before they can go out, I started over at home.


Started are 8 Jalapeno, 4 Habanero, 4 Anaheim, 4 Cayenne, 4 Bull nose Bell peppers.  Also 8 Hungarian paste, 4 Brandywine, and 4 Heinz canning tomatoes.  In pots, I started ginger, tall basil, and spicy globe basil.


When the basil sprouts and gets a few inches of size on it, I will transplant some of the seedlings to peat pots and once warm enough, I will put them in the garden, the pots will contain a plant or two and stay on the deck for a quick cutting when I am cooking or making a salad.  The ginger looks pretty in a pot on the deck and it does enlarge the root, so that you can dig part of it for household use.  Unfortunately, the one I started last year stayed outside a bit too long before I brought it in and it didn’t survive.

All of these efforts were set up in spaces where I will see them and remember them this time.


The grow warmer and light are on the kitchen counter below my daily dishes.  The pots are in the south facing window in the laundry room where we feed the dogs and through which I pass each time I go to deal with chickens or to put garbage or recycling in the containers in the garage.

Also on this beautiful day, I enjoyed lunch with a special friend to celebrate her birthday which was yesterday and then once home, I mowed about a half acre around the house and over to the chickens so that I don’t have to wade through nearly knee high grass that seems to have grown almost overnight.

In checking out my garden, the peas that I planted a few weeks ago are about 2″ tall, but the paths are quickly getting overtaken by weeds.  I think within the next couple of days, I will attack the paths with thick layers of newspaper and a thicker layer of hay.  Most of the beds were heavily mulched with hay over the winter and except for the berry beds, they look pretty good.

The spring and summer garden season is beginning, I love it.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.


Neglecting friends

As I have posted before, we don’t travel much, but somehow have found ourselves away from home as a couple for more than 40 days this past year, plus another couple of weeks where I alone went to help out one or the other of our kids for a few days to a week.  This has cut into my friend time.  My friend time is going to Knit Night on Wednesday night or Spunsters (my spinning group) on Thursday afternoon.  This week we aren’t snowed in, we aren’t away from home and I committed to going to both groups and enjoying the company of those friends.

On Knit Night, we meet at a local coffee shop, they kindly let us take over a huge table from about 5 pm until we go home.  Most of us buy dinner, we sit and socialize, share patterns, trade yarn, tell tales and knit.  The core group is the same with assorted others that come when they can and we always have a good time.  A couple of the husbands will come and sit off at another table and read or if our group isn’t too big or too naughty, may sit with us for a while.

The Spunsters, meet in a conference room at the local library.  Some bring their wheels, some knit or crochet, do finish work on weaving projects or just sit and visit.  This group is at the mercy of the conference room use and sometimes we convene at someone’s home for a potluck.

Both groups challenge me to keep learning the fiber crafts and to improve my skills and socialize.  The spinning group has many fiber raisers and we help out during shearing times which is a season that is starting.


My current spinning project is a full pound of undyed Sheltland Wool.  I don’t know what it will become.  We will have to see how many yards of yarn it becomes then I will decide and dye it for a handknit, homespun project.



My current knitting project is a cardigan sweater for me, the pattern is Estelle from Quince and Co. with their Lark yarn in Delft blue.  This is a cute pattern with a ribbed empire waist and feather and fan bands down the front and as a bottom band.  Their yarn is a delight to knit.



Then queued up is a cowl, either the Honey Cowl or the Basic Lace Cowl from this Unplanned Peacock dk weight in Botanical colorway which I bought after one of my knitting friends and I saw a very colorful weather map of the potential winter storm aimed at us.  We enjoyed a playful banter with Natasha, the owner/dyer of the yarn about the beautiful colors.

It is great to reconnect after a fall and winter of absence and sporadic opportunities to see these friends.

A Passing

This morning I lost a friend who was lost from me and then found again through Facebook.  In reconnecting with him, I learned how parallel our lives had been, yet how different they were.

We both became educators, married about the same time for the second time each.  Had children near the same age.  Both built our own homes.  When I reconnected with him, one of the first questions I asked was whether he still played the guitar and learned that treatment for Hodkins disease his senior college year had robbed him of the use and feeling of his left arm and that it had also caused other damage that ultimately caused other difficulties with his health.

He loved his teaching at Utica College where he had been since completing his PhD.  He adored his wife and daughters and a grandson that he got to share only two years.  He was well traveled and had many stories that he told in blogposts.  He was planning on retiring at the end of this school term.  Most of his posts he ended with, “I am a fortunate man,” and I believe that he, in spite of his disabilities he was a fortunate man.

I am going to miss his blog posts, his humor on facebook and his friendship.  I was a fortunate woman to have known him.  He will be missed.