My Friend Connie

November 17th, 2017

The mittens Connie crocheted for me.

When Jon first started taking Red to do therapy work  at The Mansion, the assisted living facility in our town, I didn’t usually go with him.   He works at keeping boundaries between him and the people he visits.  He thinks and  writes about it all the time on his blog, figuring out what his role is and what it isn’t.

The first time I visited the Mansion, I was really uncomfortable.  It reminded me too much of visiting my grandmother, which was an obligation imposed on me as a child, something I had to do everyday that was difficult.  She was not the warm and loving stereotype of a grandmother.

When Jon told me about Connie, a resident at the Mansion, and how she loved to knit, I wanted to meet her.  I don’t remember the first time I talked to her.  But I do remember that I immediately felt comfortable with her.

Because of back problems Connie had a hard time lifting her head, but it was the most natural thing in the world for me to squat down in front of her so we could talk more easily, usually with Red between us, Connie scratching his back as we talked.

That’s how we became friends.

My visits to Connie became a regular thing.  I didn’t think of my time visiting her as volunteer work.  Connie was my friend.  For about a year I would see her about once a week.

We didn’t talk about everything in our lives.  There’s a lot I don’t know about Connie.   She told me about how she used to sell her knitting and some of the bigger projects she worked on.  She talked little about her work as a nurse or her family.  I told her what I was working on and about the things happening at the farm.

Sometimes we would go through the  letters that all the people from Jon’s blog had written her.  Some of them I knew too and we would share the friendship.

Connie was sharp and tough and although she had a hard time moving around because of her many health problems, she had a wicked sense of humor , an impish smile and self-determination that was inspiring.  She knew what she wanted from her life and what she didn’t want and she let everyone else know too.

She was also a caregiver.  Once all those people on Jon’s blog started sending her wool, she didn’t stop knitting until it became physically impossible for her to do.

She made mittens for everyone on the staff at the Mansion who wanted a pair and then she knit hats for babies and Kidney patients in local Hospitals.

Connie also helped me feel comfortable enough to spend more time at the mansion with the other residents.  So this place that used to bring back bad childhood memories now became a place that felt inviting and warm.  It was filled with people I came to  know by name, people I have come to care about.

I don’t know if that would have happened if Connie didn’t welcome me into her life the way she did.

I’ve known Connie for about a year.  And I knew in the past few months that she was dying, because she told me. Not in a self-pitying way but honestly, as a statement of fact.   And I would sit and hold her hand and listen and let her know I wish I could help and was sorry for all she was going through.

Connie taught me how to do that too.  How to hear what she was saying and not try to make it better with meaningless platitudes.

Connie also showed me how a person, even with little means, can die well.  She continued to make decisions about her life and her death until the end.  The people around her knew how she wanted to die and respected her wishes.

It seems to me, she knew when it was time for her to let go  and was able to.

The last time I saw Connie she was as alert and sharp as I have ever seen her.  She cuddled with Red and  whispered to  me that she had a jacket for Gus in her room that she bought for him.  She didn’t want Jon to know, it was a surprise.  Even then, she was thinking of us.

Connie died on Tuesday night.

There’s an ache in my heart and a sadness behind my eyes.  I will miss Connie.  But it  brings me comfort to know that she didn’t spend a long time suffering in a nursing home.  She always told me she was ready to go when God was ready to take her.  And I believe that’s just what happened.

 

 

 

 

 

Rainy Bedlam Morning

November 16th, 2017

Do Not Put Your Tree Stand On My Tree

November 15th, 2017

The Tree Stand after I took it down.

I haven’t been in our back woods since the weeds grew taller than me, over growing the path this summer.

But this morning seemed like the perfect time to return, since the grasses are beginning to die back.  They were still way over my head, but not as thick and easy to push down under my feet.

The dogs ran head of me.  Gus didn’t pause going over the Gulley Bridge for the first time and tunneling thought the tall weeds.

We came to the little waterfall, with barely a trickle of water sliding down the rocks and sat on the bench by the stream.  Then I went to the place where last spring I took down the big metal tree stand that a hunter had put on our property without our permission.

The last thing I expected to see was the same Tree Stand back on the tree.

But there it was.

In the spring, when we first took the Tree Stand down and left it in the woods,  I learned from our neighbors and friends, who are hunters, that since it was put on our property without our permission, it essentially became ours.  It’s a small town and Jon had written about it on his blog, so I assumed whoever put the Tree Stand up  heard that we took it down and would come and get it. Or at least when they came back to hunt again and saw it lying on the ground they would take it away.

We even had one hunter knock on  our door saying he took the Tree Stand and apologized for putting it up. (Apparently there were two Tree Stands on the property)

When I saw the Tree Stand this morning, I felt my heart start to pound and a heat rise up in my body.   I was furious.

I texted Jon, who was on his way to the eye doctor, that the Tree Stand was back and I was going to take it down.  He said I could wait for him to come home and he’d help.

But I couldn’t wait.  I was like the mother who lifts up her car to save her kid who’s trapped underneath it.

I had done it once before,  I knew just how to take the Tree Stand down.

I called the dogs and walked quickly through the woods and back to the house.  I put the cable cutters and a knife in a bag, put the 16-foot aluminum extension ladder on my shoulder and called for Fate to come with me.

Once in the woods, I extended the ladder all the way and leaned it against the tree behind the Tree Stand.   I had the bag with the knife and the cable cutters on my should.  From the top of the ladder I called down to Fate and had her lie down between the tree and the ladder so she would be out of the way when the Tree Stand fell.

I snipped the cable which locked the Tree Stand to the tree and cut the ratchet straps with the knife.

The Tree Stand was an elaborate one.  At the top it had  a four-foot long metal seat with a cushion, surrounded on three sides by more metal with enough room for two men to sit and/or stand.  It was skirted with heavy camouflage material.  A long metal ladder led up to it.

The tree stand didn’t fall away from the tree when I released it.  I had to push it as I stood on the top of the ladder.  It took me a few tries before it toppled to the ground.  It was loud and heavy, but Fate didn’t move an inch, until I told her it was okay.

The Tree Stand was four separate pieces, held together by pins.   I used the cable cutters as a hammer to separate the sections, three four-foot pieces of ladder and the seat and it’s surrounds.

The seat area probably  weighed as much as me.  It was big and cumbersome.  So I rolled it head over heals, down the hill and through the woods, across the pastures through the gate and into the backyard.

As I made two more trips back into the woods to get the rest of the Tree Stand and my tools, my angry energy kept pace with me.

I thought of the anger that flared up in me two days ago, that anger of a life time of putting up with the sexist, verbal and emotional abuse of so many men.  And in protecting and defending my tree and my woods from this trespass, it was as if I was finally protecting and defending myself too.

And the action of doing it all, the spent energy was healing and empowering at the same time.

Back at the house, I took the seat and surround apart so  I could fit it into the hatchback of my Toyota Yaris.  I somehow got the whole Tree Stand in my car and took it to the dump.

When Jon got home we put Posted signs on the tree where the Tree Stand was and along the perimeter of the property.

I don’t have a problem with hunters, as long as they’re ethical.  And I know the signs won’t keep most of  them off our property.  But as I was hanging them,  I felt a little like Gus  when he lifted his leg and peed on the stone wall that is our property line.

I was being very clear about what’s mine and what can’t be done without my permission.

 

Looking For Jon

November 15th, 2017

Jon left for an appointment early this morning.  I was surprised, when I took this video that Red, who is always hyper-focused on the sheep when he’s herding, was looking behind him.  Then I realized he was looking for Jon.

The Ironing Board Cover of My Dreams

November 14th, 2017

 

My Frankenstein sewing job on my “new” ironing board cover.

My grandmother’s ironing board always had a series of safety pins and stings holding the cover on. I don’t know why I remember that, but every once in a while the image of it comes back to me.

And it’s that image that came to mind the last couple of times I changed my ironing board cover.  Because the new ones  just never fit  right.  And the longer I had them, the worse they got.  Also,  the fabric on the cover seems to be thinner than tissue paper.  Fraying and ripping mcuh too easily.

I was done with buying a new cover and hoping it would be different.

So this afternoon, thinking of my grandmother’s ironing board, I pulled out a big piece of canvas I had in my stash and stretched it over my ironing board.  I thought about using safety pins and stings,  but decided sewing it on, with a needle and some strong yarn, would be easier.

It took me about 15 minutes and now I have the ironing board cover of my dreams.   I can’t wait to try it out.

 

Circle Woman

November 14th, 2017

Sometimes I find myself arranging and rearranging some of the things in my studio.  Yesterday I created this simple design on my table with the dolls Antoinette sent me, one of Jane McMillen’s pincushions, some yarn that Sue Smith gave me and the “not white” underpants I made.

Minnie in the Barn

November 14th, 2017

The cats have started coming in at night.  They stay in the basement and in the morning they want to go right back outside.  They both spend the day on the back porch when the sun is out.  If not, Minnie likes the hay barn and Flo the wood shed.

Bedlam Farm Wool For Sale. Winter Special….

November 13th, 2017

 

Izzy, Suzy and Griselle, Pumpkin, Rosemary, Zelda, Liam and Kim, Socks and Biddy

I’m having a Winter Special Bedlam Farm Wool Sale.   Buy 4 or more skeins of yarn you get a 10% discount.

This year, I’ve combined some of the wool from different sheep together and have a new mix of yarn.

Each skein is 200 yards and they are $25 each, with 10% off if you buy 4 skeins or more, plus shipping.

Shipping is $5 for one skein, $8 for 2-3 skeins and $10 for 5 or more.  Shipping is a bit more outside the US.

If you’d like to buy some Bedlam Farm wool, you can email me here at [email protected].

I take checks (made out and sent to Full Moon Fiber Art 2502 State Route 22 Cambridge NY 12816)  or I can email you a paypal invoice.

Here’s what I have for sale:

Izzy

I have 8  6 – 200 yard skeins of  Izzy’s wool.  It’s 3 ply worsted and 100% Romney.

Suzy and Griselle

I have 16  8 – 200 yard skeins of Suzy and Griselle’s Wool.  It’s 3 ply DK and a mix of Border Leicester and Romney.

Pumpkin

I have 16  7 – 200 yard skeins of Pumpkins wool.  It’s 3 ply worsted and a mix of Border Leicester and Cheviot.

Rosemary, Zelda, Liam and Kim

The white wool is Sold Out.    I have 18  9 – 200 yard skeins of White wool.  It’s 3 ply worsted and  a mix of all my white sheep, Romney, Karakul, Cheviot and Border Leicester.

Socks and Biddy

I have 19 4 – 200 yard skeins of Socks and Biddy’s wool.  It’s 3 ply worsted and is a mix of Romney and Border Leicester.

Rosemary, Zelda, Liam and Kim

I also have 5 – 8oz  and one 10.4 oz bumps of white roving.    It’s a mix of Romney, Karakul, Cheviot and Border Leicester.  The 8oz bumps are $25 each and the 10.4 oz bump is $30.  Shipping for the bumps is $15.

Sampler

I also have a Sampler of Pumpkin, Izzy and the white wool.  It’s Sold $30 + $6 shipping.

 

Good Monday Morning From Bedlam Farm 11/13/17

November 13th, 2017

Picking Up and Dropping Off Bedlam Farm Wool

November 12th, 2017

We dropped off nine bags of wool at the Vermont Fiber Mill this afternoon. Gus came along for the ride and after barking at the Alpacas, he settled right into the place.

Deb brought out a book of color swatches for dying the yarn.  There were so many choices, but I decided on a coral and a teal.  I thought they’d work nicely with the natural gray and brown wool.

I mixed all the white wool together, Romney, Karakul and Cheviot.  For the browns and greys I mixed the Border Leicester with Romney.

I also picked up two boxes of yarn made from last winter’s wool.

I was once again surprised at the change in the colors.   Suzy and Griselle’s wool came out a beautiful light gray and Izzy’s a deep brown.  Pumpkin’s is a deeper shade of gray, his wool gets lighter every shearing.

I’ll put the yarn and some white roving up for sale on my blog tomorrow.

Last winters wool, I’ll be selling here on my blog tomorrow.