Postcards from the Ledge – 10

Hello in there…

Bless you John Prine and Bette Midler for piercing my 20 year old heart with that song.
It pulled me by the teeth to the other side of a gripping depression and became a touchstone along the way for the next 40 years. I have always worn my fried egg on the outside…proudly because of you.

Me at 20 -1978

Etching from college portfolio  –  1978

So I just got off the phone with my pal Peter Follansbee. I’m throwing a link to his website here …click… so that you can spend some of that extra screen time that we all have these days to visit with him and his woodworking. He, like most of us creative types, is able to continue plying his craft and is producing some fabulous new work.

Both Peter and his wife Maureen are historians who worked at Plymoth Plantation so they have a unique perspective on the 17th century. Peter’s focus was primarily on all things wood while Maureen was the textile expert. So it was that today, when we were comparing quarantine notes in our social distancing phone chat, and I brought up my own next woodworking project… Peter said Maureen wrote an article about that. He’s gonna dig it up for me… and I’m all ears…because…

Laundry.

As I sat in the studio kitchen one morning last week…looking out at the same view I’ve been greeted with for over a decade…the Muses lit a match.

Spark…at the end of the walkway…the centerpiece of the Morag Gamble bed…were the washtubs that Susan gave me years ago for a planter. Deb’s begonias and a few annuals  bloom there every summer and brighten that corner. And the extra light that now shines there in the wake of the giant ash tree removal last year…was apparently just what the Muses needed.

Because…wait for it…they are WASH tubs.

This was the beginning of what turned out to be Olde Timey Sunday.

Well the true beginning was actually the two hours it took me to repair the hose faucet and run a line out to the tubs. But after that …well after I had to whittle a couple stoppers out of our stash of wine corks. But THEN we got it going.

The washing part was made so much easier with those tubs. But the next stage…wringing…eh not so much. My hands aren’t strong enough any more to do that. So I did some research. Of course there is a youtube video on that…and with that help I’ve figured out a way to build a wringer. Hopefully Maureen’s article about doing laundry in the 1600’s will give me a few other pointers. I’ll keep you posted on the making of the wringer…for now you can ponder on the parts list…a rolling pin and bungy cords were ordered from Amazon and the garage will need to be cleared out enough to get to the wood stack and the tools.

It always gives me an energy boost to have a new problem to solve and a project to build, and while the clothes were drying in the sunny breeze, Herself began clearing out the greenhouse…so we could get to the spinning wheel.

Because I scored two brand new fleece to spin !!!

Snowball…and Calico…

Beautiful fleece I found on Etsy from Aspendale Farm . 

A small farm in Idaho where Romney Sheep are raised and where they are kind enough to send an extra gift bag for safe storage…

One of the best days of our year is the trip in May to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and one of the first dominoes to fall in our corner of this pandemic was the early cancellation of that festival. Having had to miss the last two years I was doubly sad. But social media came to the rescue and, after putting a query out to our resourceful peeps, I had several leads on where I might procure some spinning fleece.

One of the best parts of that side trip was reconnecting with Tom Knisely. A wonderful weaver friend of old who lives just over the hill from the studio and we have only now discovered that he has a new weaving/spinning retreat and workshop with his daughter Sara Bixler…oh the excitement as I get to anticipate the day when the vaccine arrives and we can go back out into the world …the very first place I will go is…

So now I’m all set.

The old wheel got some new grease.
When the weather gets just a bit warmer I’ll be out there in my most peaceful place with soft silky fiber steadily spinning onto the bobbin.

The pioneering theme closed out the day with a simple quiet rise…

And there is no better way to illustrate the way that all this hand work soothes the soul …

The Long Draw  –  2018

Stay frosty out there.


The Long Draw

The Long Draw  –  18″ x 60″

Now We Are Six

By A. A. Milne

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

Now We Are Sixty…

When I take stock

of all the steps
along the road

the people and places
the lessons and loves

the pleasures
and the pains

wanderlusts
and home comings all

what seems to
have most defined my life

the whisper of a wake
in this world that has

so far
been me

it is the things
my hands have made.

I am leaving spoons
and chairs

drawings
and paintings

sweaters
and shawls

journals
and quilts

garden beds
and compost piles

scattered along the road
like breadcrumbs

not to find my way home
but to say
I was here.

There is something in spinning called the long draw.
It can be defined as a technique, but spinners will
understand it better as a Zen-like goal that embodies
both skill and soul.
You aim to pull the carded wool as far as your arms
will stretch, while maintaining a steady rhythm to the
wheel, and a gently tapering thinness to the yarn.
It requires practice, and patience, and when achieved
one is truly balanced with the universe and beyond.

My hands know that place well…
and always get there long before my heart does.