Still Working On My Vulture Quilt

July 21st, 2016
Detail from my Vulture Quilt

The pieces I started sewing on my Vulture Quilt today.

I think this is the longest I’ve ever work on one piece.   It’s just slow going.  I know I’m just about finished with it now.  I placed what I believe are the last pieces on the quilt.  (although that can change tomorrow)  But I’ve not been feeling well the past couple of days.  My stomach has been off and I get tired at odd times during the day and have to stop and sleep.  I’m betting I caught it from Jon who had the same thing last week.

The good part about it is I only want to eat bread and sweet stuff.  I had a croissant for breakfast and a muffin for lunch with lots of tea in between.

So I didn’t get all the pieces sewn onto my quilt today.  I just didn’t have the energy to finish it.  But I’ll get at it tomorrow.  I’m already feeling much better than yesterday, so I think  tomorrow will be better than today.

“It’s not a house, It’s a home”

July 21st, 2016

shutters

There were a few old houses in the post WWII suburban neighborhood, on Long Island,  where I grew up.   Walking to school I loved peaking between the giant old trees and bushes that shaded and obscured the houses from view.  I’d make up stories about the people who lived there, how they’d invite me in.  The rooms would be big and dark, rambling on an on.  Just the right amount of spooky. They were always warm, with big fireplaces.  And there was always a wood-paneled library,  books from the floor to a ceiling that was so high it receded into shadow.  There was a big stuffed chair and lamp, just waiting for me.   Those old houses were safe places I could go in my mind, to escape my life.

Later, I got to know old houses in a different way.  By living in them and working on them.  I became a bit of an Old House snob.   I would drive by a Victorian house and scoff at it, if it was painted the wrong color to be historically correct.  “The trim isn’t supposed to be a lighter color than the body of the house.”  I’d quip.  I was annoyed, these people were doing it all wrong.

But I was the worst when it came to windows.  I gladly climbed the aluminum ladder to the second floor of the house carrying storm windows, almost as big as me,  replacing  the screens in the fall and doing the reverse in the spring.

The windows are the eyes, to the soul of the house was my mantra.  Aluminum storm windows repulsed me.  And replacement windows (especially with the fake mullions between the two panes of insulated glass) were even worse.  I had no sympathy for the occupants of the house.  I’d rather be cold in the winter and have insects infesting the house in the summer rather than have “fake” windows on my house.

And aesthetics won out over the environment every time.

I started to mellow a bit about such things when I moved upstate.  The farm houses I saw in Washington County were a hundred years older than the houses in the neighborhoods  where I lived on Long Island.  It wasn’t unusual to see a house with foam board insulation plastered on top of the clapboard.  How cold the house must be, how few choices, I thought,  people must have to do such a thing to an old farm house.

And I began to understand that to them it wasn’t an old historic farm house, it was their home.  And it got really cold in the winter.  Cold enough to stretch plastic over the windows the way pioneers used to use oil cloth instead of glass to let the light in.

Restoring houses,  as close to their historic condition as possible, and still being able to sell them, became the driving force in my first marriage.  For over 20 years we moved from house to house, sometimes owning two at a time, working on them simultaneously.  How much money we made fluctuated with the market.  The work was exhausting,mostly unfulfilling and endless.

When I think of it now I wonder that we weren’t unconsciously trying to fix a broken relationship by creating the “perfect” house.  Then, of course, when you get the perfect house, the only choice is to move on.  That, or look at the real problem,  which had nothing to do with where I lived.

Last year Jon and I put inexpensive aluminum storm windows on our 1840’s farm house.  I was so grateful to be able to open my widows in the summer without having to remove every wooden storm window. I no longer want to spend my time and energy removing and replacing storm windows.   And I’m just as grateful in the winter not to feel the breezes that blew through those ill fitted storms.

Yesterday, our friend and handyman, Jay came to take the last of the shutters off the front of the house.  Before we even lived here, I used to pass this house, driving on route 22, and think it so perfect, so sweet with its porches, attached woodshed and green shutters.

But honestly, shutters are a pain in the ass to maintain.  They’re awful to paint and ours began falling apart, it seems, the moment we moved in.

We got rid of most of the shutters when we had the house painted earlier in the summer.  We decided to put the shutters back on just the front of the house.  But when the person who painted the house put them back on, a couple of the shutters to the small windows on the second floor were broken beyond repair.  So he screwed two pairs of large shutters on the sides of the small windows.

I’m no longer a snob when it comes to old houses.  I understand that everyone who owns an old house may not want it to look historic.  They may want it to work for them.  And although I wouldn’t judge anyone else, there are still somethings I just can’t do.  And shutters that are too big, or too small for the window is one of those things.  I would cringe every time I drove up the drive way.  I actually stopped looking at the front of the house, it bothered me so much.

In a  perfect world I would have interior storm windows so the mullions  of the windows would be visible on the exterior of the house.  Making the windows once again the eyes to the soul of the house, something I still believe strongly in.  Then the shutters, which aren’t original anyway,  would be aesthetically obsolete.

But I don’t need a “perfect” house anymore.

What I want now, and maybe have always been looking for,  is a good and loving home.  And that’s about what goes on with the people inside inside the house,  not what it looks like on the outside.   That doesn’t mean I don’t want my house be look a certain way, I obviously do.  But my priorities have changed.  And I’ve found  I like not living in a “perfect” house.  It reflects who I really am.  Far from perfect.

 

 

Fate and The Bedlam Farm Tote Bag

July 20th, 2016

fate and tote

I made a few more Bedlam Farm Tote bags for some people who had asked for them.  Then I made a couple more, because I was so into it.  I put this one on the floor to take a picture of it and Fate came over and sat down right next to it.

I couldn’t resist.

This Tote is for sale and I have another one too, that I still need to photograph.  It’s $40 + $8 shipping.  If you’re interested in it, you can email me at maria@fullmoonfiberart.com.

 

Three Sister’s Garden, Making Sense of My World

July 20th, 2016

corn (1)

I have to keep a close eye on my Three Sister’s Garden, because there’s something new growing everyday.

The giant leafs of the corn plants brush against each other in the breeze making a soft swishing sound.  It’s like a gentle caress and I can’t help but imagine that because the plants are able to make physical contact in this way, they’re “happier” and growing better in each other’s company.

peas

This morning before breakfast I pick three pea pods and Jon and I shared them as we looked at the Dahlia gardens which is just beginning to flower.  They were so  sweet!

pumpkin

I  saw this pumpkin growing a couple of days ago.  At first I thought it was a zucchini, because it was so long,  but today I saw the zucchini, so I know this is a pumpkin.

zucchini

I could eat zucchini every day.  I like it simple, grilled or sautéed in a little olive oil.  It’s a good thing too, because I know how zucchini grows like weeds.

stringbean

For the past few days I’ve been picking the string beans and eating them off the vine.   I don’t have a lot of plants in my garden.  There won’t be enough for canning or freezing.  It’ more like the idea of a gentleman farmer.  A hobby not a living.

But even growing this small amount of vegetables has made me feel more connected to the earth and appreciate all she has to offer us.  It makes me want to be kinder to her.   Also, I think I’ve always appreciated the earth for her beauty , but now I’m experiencing  her life-giving powers in a more direct way.

It’s like eating my chickens eggs.  Somehow in witnessing directly  where my food comes from, living with it’s source and taking care of it,  the world around me makes more sense.

A Video of Rosemary, the Sheep, Coming to Bedlam Farm

July 19th, 2016

Rosemary, Another Romney, Comes to Bedlam Farm

July 19th, 2016
Rosemary, in Donna's car on her way to Bedlam Farm

Rosemary, in Donna’s car on her way to Bedlam Farm (those are clouds reflected in the window not Rosemary’s wool)

I didn’t expect to be shearing a sheep today.  Actually I never expected to shear a sheep.  But when we got to Donna’s farm to help her round up the Romney we’d be taking back to Bedlam Farm, Donna, said she wanted to clean her up first.

We called her Rosemary,  and Red, with Jon’s direction rounded her  up so Donna  could slip a lead rope around her neck.

Soon with help from some of Donna’s friends, we had her on the ground and the shearing began.  I was just watching until, Treasure, who was using the buzzer got up to stretch her back.  Donna handed me the buzzer, told me how to use it and I continued cutting the matted wool, cover in feces, from Rosemary’s hind quarters.   There was so much wool and it was so thick we didn’t know if Rosemary had a tail or not.
(we carefully discovered her tail was docked)

Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t doing the work a professional Shearer would.  I was just hacking off the dirty, matted wool as best as I could, being careful not to buzz too close to the skin.  When Treasure came back, I took the scissors and cut the wool around her face.    While Donna practically sat on Rosemary, Treasure buzzed and I clipped.

When I thought about it afterwards it was surprising to me how smoothly it went.  I’ve only met Donna and Treasure a couple of times, yet we worked together as if were old friends.  There was no tension, everyone just trusting each other to do their job.  And we all did.

It’s not the best shearing job I’ve ever seen, but we got the worst of the wool off of Rosemary.   Then we walked her out to the car,  picked her up and put her in.

Unlike Izzy there was nothing to salvage of her wool. ( I’ll won’t get Izzy’s wool back till next spring)  We’ll get her shorn again in the fall when we have the rest of the sheep done.  So I won’t have her wool till next fall.  From what I could see of the wool closest to her body, I know it’s going to be beautiful.

Once at Bedlam Farm, Rosemary jumped out of the car and found her new flock.  She’s been baaing on and off,  more than Izzy did.  Maybe looking for her old friends.  But she’s hanging around with Izzy and surprisingly, with Chloe too.

Rosemary has a presence about her.  She holds her head high and chest out and struts around.  I told her I thought she would like it here, once she got used to it.

Rosemary at Bedlam Farm with her new flock

Rosemary at Bedlam Farm with her new flock

 

 

Izzy’s Wool

July 18th, 2016

 

Izzy's wool

Izzy’s wool

Jay gave me Izzy’s fleece when he brought her back after having her shorn.  Turns out much of it is in good shape.  Jon and I skirted it yesterday.  We had to throw a lot out, some of it was matted or just too hard to pick the brambles out of.  But we got about seven pounds of good wool.

I’m getting in touch with Deb at the  Vermont Fiber Mill today to see if I can ship it to her and have it processed with the other wool we dropped off last weekend.  If so, I may decide to mix it with Socks’ wool as my friend Suzy suggested.  Then I’ll have a new  kind of yarn to sell in the fall.

Yesterday we cut a broken branch off the apple tree and gave it to the animals to munch on. The sheep especially liked it. That's Izzy to the right getting her fill.

Yesterday we cut a broken branch off the apple tree and gave it to the animals to munch on. The sheep especially liked it. That’s Izzy to the right getting her fill of leaves.

Good Monday Morning From Bedlam Farm 7/18/16

July 18th, 2016

A quiet morning on Bedlam Farm, everyone seems happy just to be.

Who My Children Are

July 17th, 2016
Jackie Thorne and her book of Poetry and Essay's Gone To Ground.

Jackie Thorne and her book of Poetry and Essay’s Gone To Ground.

I listened as Jackie prefaced her statement as I so often did,   “I don’t have children, but…”

As a fifty-two year old woman who has chosen not to have children, I find I’m reluctant to say anything much about children with the disclaimer. I’ve always felt like I don’t really have a right to even have opinions when it comes to children. Always, in the back of my mind is the voice saying, “how would you know?”  The only time I feel justified to have an opinion about children  is  if the conversation  relates to the fact that I once was a kid.

And as much as  I love all my animals,  I’ve never been one to think of them as children.  Maybe because I never wanted children, but I’ve always wanted animals.

If there’s one thing in my life that I come the closest to thinking about as my children, it’s my art.

The seeds of my art, ideas and feelings, gestate inside of me then are birthed in my studio.  We work together, sometimes me dictating what will happen next, sometimes the creation itself making the decisions.  And when it’s done,  I send it out into the world to live its life.

I’ve heard other  artists refer to their work in the same way.  Even artists who have children.  Of course,  it’s more symbolic, more metaphor than actual.  I mean, I sell my art, not something I would do with a kid.

So when Jackie sat at the table  in Jon’s writing class, with her first book of poetry,  surrounded my many women who had actual children,  and said, “I don’t have children, but my book is like a child to me.”  I knew just what she meant.  Not only the book/kid part, but the I don’t have children but,  part too.

And it’s strange, but ever since Jackie showed me a copy of her book a few days before, I had this really strong feeling that I was its godmother.  I have no idea where this feeling came from or  even what it meant.

I didn’t really have anything to do with the book, except in the form of encouragement.  When I asked Jackie to read some of her poems at the Bedlam Farm Open House, we both thought it was a good idea for her to have a book to sell there too.  And Jon and the writing class were as supportive and encouraging as I was.

Maybe it has something to do with me and Jackie both not having actual children, but both of us being able to  see our work as our children. That understanding between us.  But there’s also the fact that Jackie kept her writing to herself  for most of her life.  And I know know what it means to be silent for so long and then unleash your soul for all to see.

Jackie published her book in June, but I just told her my godmother thoughts a few days ago.  She didn’t laugh of think me presumptuous.  She seemed to like the idea enough that she encouraged me to write about it.

So what does it mean to be a godmother to a book?   I’m  not completely sure.  But I do think that part of my job is to help put it out into the world.  Share some of its words and encourage people to read it.

So here’s the last stanza from Jackie’s poem Bits of Stars, which is in her book Gone To Ground.  I hope it makes you think and feel and “shine darkly”, as it did me.

light and dark,
they meet within us
creating the spark
of life itself-
brains to bones,
all we are, is dirt
and bits of stars,
shining darkly

You can buy Jackie’s book of poems and essays Gone To Ground from Connie at Battenkill Books or on Amazon.

 

 

My Raptor/ Vulture Quilt

July 15th, 2016

raptor

My Raptor or as I’m now calling it, Vulture Quilt, when I left the studio today.