Sunday, April 15, 2007
This is my last day here (wahh!) for awhile anyway. I'm flying back to Dancing Leaf Farm tomorrow to get ready for the April studio tour and the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I'll be back for 3 weeks and will cram every minute in with dyeing, printing, skeining, shearing, cleaning, yard work, gardening, biking, hiking, catching up with friends, seeing my boys, animals, sunsets and working by butt off. I am really looking forward to it too.
On the table are most of the felting that I've done here in Cambridge. I also almost finished 2 sweaters (will have to finish next week) a few hats and a sock. See, I haven't been a total slacker!
After I needle felt the balls, I put them in hot water, then remove and roll vigorously into a firm ball.
After drying, they get gussied up with seed beeds. These are the finished pendants.
A perfect day for me is when I'm on my bike. If we're around Cambridge for the weekend, we hop on our bikes and pedal out to the countryside. There are charming villages about every 2 miles (and at least one pub in each village). The mustard is in full bloom right now. It looks just like our wild mustard but it's planted on purpose. It really is beautiful, but it smells bad when biking through it.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Our friends from Virginia visited Friday and Saturday. Steve and Karen lived in London a couple years ago for 2 years and are seeing their old friends back in London. With them is their friend, Jean, also from Virginia (now our friend too).
Saw this man on King's Parade, the main tourist street in Cambridge. He was alone so had to take his own pictures of himself. He'd look through the viewfinder, set the camera up on the tripod, then go stand in front of it (with beautiful King's College in the background), smile, pack up the tripod and camera, walk about 10 paces and repeat.
This is our living room. That whacky thing above the chair is clips on spokes coming out of a center ball. It's supposed to hold photos but we don't have a printer so I got paint chip samples at the local DIY store and clipped them to it. I splashed color on 4 canvases to hang over the couch.
Who says you can't have a garden in a 5'x3' patio? In with the pansies is cress and the other holds salad greens. When I was 'planting' this garden, I saw the handyman and ran out to see about getting a shelf put in the closet. My hands were totally covered in dirt and he said, " Your hands sure are dirty". I told him I was planting a garden and he said "There's no garden in flat 10. " And I said, "There is now!"
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Houston and I went to Ireland over Easter weekend. Flew into Shannon and drove south to Killarney, then the Ring of Kerry, up to Doolin for the fabulous music scene, ferried out to an Aran island and just soaked up the culture. Heard plenty of Irish being spoken, which is very similar to Gaelic and is making a comeback. It's a beautiful language and the further out we traveled, the more prolific the language.
We took the ferry from Doolin, Ireland to Inisheer (East Island), one of the three Aran Islands. Inishmaan (Middle Island) and Inishmore (Big Island) make up the other two. This 2 x 2 mile island is covered with miles of stone fences. I was in awe of these fences, all dry stacked by hand. They went on and on and each area that was walled in was only about 50' across.
"This is the rapidly vanishing and hidden Ireland, of "boreens" or tiny roads often passable only on foot; of fishermen who go to sea in canvas and lathe "currachs"; and farmers whose fields often seem no bigger than a living room but produce potatoes from soil made from sand and seaweed."
Aran Island is really known for it Aran sweaters, or gansey. There were plenty of Aran sweaters in the shops in Doolin, but they are now made in China by 'Aran knitters'. The wool comes from Australia. They are warm, soft and very nice, just not from the Aran islands any longer.
We saw so many different ways of laying rock. I particularly liked this one, helter skelter but built to last. Families have their own pattern. I just couldn't believe the miles and miles of walls on this tiny island. It must've taken decades to make all these walls. Each paddock was only about 50 feet across and the walls were usually 6' tall. This was to prevent the salt water from coming in and killing the grass. Rocks were used for so many purposes. Some of these walled areas had no gate but the farmer would move rocks aside, let the cattle in and rebuild the wall. Large, flat rocks were used for tables, smaller ones for benches or stools.
I love rocks and I just couldn't get over the multitude of them and how they were arranged.
"Firstly when the land was cleared by extreme physical labour, the rock pavements that had to be broken up and moved by hand became the walls around these 'fields'. Each farmer has his own method of dry stone wall building, and it is amazing that his handiwork can be distinguished from someone else's. This art is passed down generation to generation. The stone walls are also remarkable in their strength, given the high winds and storms that hit the islands - and this is taken into account during construction. remember no concrete or binding material is used. the structure is all important, and this allows wind to pass through the walls easily, giving them stability in gales.
The walls have no gates but will have one area in a lot of cases where some rounder stones are placed, that can be rolled to one side to let cattle in or out, and then easily rolled back.
There are over 1000 miles of stone walls on Inis Mor (not bad for an island that isn't even 10 miles long!)."