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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Good News For Once

It seems like so much of my blog has been bad news lately, with family illnesses and so many struggling with cancer.  So I wanted to share my good news.....

Mammo time: 

Spring is finally trying to poke it's head around the corner and take a peek at us.  Although this morning it is bitterly cold, complete with sleet pellets.  Brrrrrr We had high winds last night that shook the house, but the weathermen are promising that we WILL get up in the mid fifties by the weekend.  Hmmmmm

Three years ago we planted this weeping cherry tree as my Mother's Day present.  The first two years we some had blossoms on it and even some small cherries.  This year, despite a cracked trunk from the winter cold, we have an abundance of blossoms!

The cascading blooms are so thick on the branches,
and the tree is just buzzing with honeybees! 

On the topic of Steve's new cuckoo clock hobby, well---- he has one completely working already and is awaiting some ordered parts on the other one. So much for waiting for retirement to work on them??? He has this one proudly displayed in the front porch. It can stay out there for the spring, summer and fall months.  In the winter months we will relocate it back inside to a spot on the landing of the staircase in the foyer.

This one chimes on the half hour with one bong and one cuckoo.  But then on the full hour it will sound off with the cuckoos and the bongs for the number of the hour.  Then as a special surprise, a music box kicks in with a lovely tune while four little dancing couples come out and twirl around!  It's delightful and I can not wait until the grandkids come to see it!

Steve figures we will keep rotating cuckoo clocks as he finds them, fixes them, and then sells them again.  Someday we will inherit my mother's cuckoo clock that she brought back from Germany.  That will have a permanent place in our home.

I am working on five different rug orders here...  some are in multi colors with random striping. I achieve this look by weaving in two strands of thin rags in the same opening, with starting and stopping various patterns and colors mid stream.

I like using a multi-colored weft (string) that matches with any rug I choose to weave.  Since I wind on enough string for 50 rugs at a time, it's nice to have an all-purpose colorway.  Next, I am going to sew up the red, white and blue rags today for the last rug on the order list.

I picked up new sash cord the auction loom I bought last weekend. I have not had time yet to tie it all on and snug everything up. Perhaps next week.  For now it's fully assembled in the loom room in front of the window, kinda blocking up the open area.  Once I weave on it, I will decide to keep it, relocate it, or sell it as a fully functional weaving rug loom. 

In between the other stuff, I have been working on a quilt for the front porch.  It's all together now, I sandwich quilted each square, then joined the blocks and sewed in between rows called sashing.  All of it is free motion quilted and completed except for the border.  When finished, it will be queen/king sized.  But I want it to cuddle up on the front porch together.  Maybe later today I can get to that part and finish it up?

Oh... on the RVing front:  the motorhome water pump repair, Steve and I are heading to the Cat dealer in Green Bay after work today to pick up the new gasket and O rings.  Hopefully that will fix it up and we can be ready to roll in 2 weeks for Mother's Day weekend. We are heading down to my friend Juanita's Vavning Studio in Shopiere and then to our friends Jim and Norma's wedding anniversary party in Beloit.  Nice to have the motorhome as our mobile hotel room, a place to keep the doggies, and have comfort in travelling there and back without hotels, restaurants and all that hassle.

Here's to hoping we don't get any more

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Birthday Boy and a new loom!

OH yes, my Birthday Boy celebrated his very young 58 years.  He was born in 1958, so turning 58 should be a kind of Golden Birthday, right?

He woke up Friday morning to a nice hot breakfast before he had to trudge off to work.  He is in a countdown mode now to retirement, 36 weeks and counting.  YAY!  He loves the park very much, but it's a good financial decision time to retire by the end of the year, but still find some part time things to keep him busy.

He was showered with cards and gifts from family earlier in the week, but I waited until he got home from work to give him my gifts.  There were a few ummm "personal" gifts we won't talk about, also some special treats he likes. Then his last present was a big big box....

I had decided to help him find a "hobby" for retirement.  I knew he had enjoyed fixing my mom's cuckoo clock (twice now) and seemed to like the intricate workings of the clock.  Soooo I found a great deal on the local Buy/Sell/Trade pages of a woman with TWO cuckoo clocks she wanted to sell.  She said neither one worked, and she didn't know much about them. They had been gifted to her some time ago and never got used.

Steveio was quite excited to get his new "hobby" .... and darned if he didn't go RIGHT TO WORK on them!  Argghhhh!!!!   It was supposed to be a pleasant hobby to do sometime when he retired!  Nope, not my Steveio!

In ten minutes he had one fully operational and set and working and hanging on the wall.  The other one is almost workable, just needs one small part (a bellows for the cuckoo sound) and new pinecone weights for the chains.  Both parts are ordered off Ebay and should arrive next week.

 They are both valued in the $150 range, so he can now sell them and make some pocket change.

After I pried him away from his cuckoo clocks (unwillingly for sure) he chose the spot to go out to eat.  We have heard for three years now to go to a nice little steak house just a bit south of Chilton in a tiny village called Charlesburg.  It's called Roepke's Village Inn and features steaks, seafood, German cuisine and has a cocktail bar.  Off we went for a great dinner, and even better yet, a surprise dessert for the birthday boy!

 (we had told the bartender it was his birthday in hopes of a free drink.. 
and he must have passed on the word to our waitress!) 

Saturday morning Steve got up early and headed over to the Calumet County Historical Museum. We volunteer there in the summer months when the museum is open on Sundays.  The spring cleanup crew needed some help with a big Black Walnut tree.  Last week Steve went there and helped cut it down.  This week they cleaned up and chipped up all the branches and cut the wood into usable chunks.

He was done by 9:30 and rushed back home to me.  We had seen an auction in the paper with listings of many many farm tools and commercial machinery items. Hidden down in the fine print, Steve had spotted the word "loom"  and we decided to go have a look-see.

Like I really need another loom, eh?

We got there and saw lots of farmers, very few woman, and a lot of eager beavers perusing the shotguns, tools and farm machinery.  I found a pallet of assorted old wood and wires and rusty stuff.. Yup.. it was a LOOM, alright!

One elderly gal was poking at the pile, as well as a Mennonite gentleman.  She asked him if he fixed those kind of things. He replied that he had one at home that nobody used.   I jumped in and said it was missing parts and had broken pieces.  (which it did, I don't lie)   They turned away from it and never looked at it again.

We hung around the auction most of the morning....  Steve bid on a group of electric appliances, and he won them for $3.00   It was a commercial ice crusher worth over $100 new and a four piece waffle iron like new that retails for $39.00  Not bad for $1.50 each!  Margaritas and waffles???

I placed a bid on a long Rubbermaid box of quilting fabrics, which I won for $10.  The auctioneer threw in a big box of a dozen or more flannel-backed red polka dot picnic tablecloths and a dog bed and a seat cover.

Oh vey!  All I wanted was the fabric! LOL .....  heck, even the Rubbermaid container was worth the $10 and will go nicely in the basement storage compartment of the motorhome.

We sat patiently on our lawn chairs till noon... while people bid on farm stuff, lawn stuff, crazy stuff and junk stuff.  We bought a burger from the little cook in the motorhome who vendors for the auctions.  Soon they were coming up towards my little pile of pitiful lumber that constituted a loom, warping rack and spindle rack... with assorted tools in a box marked "Grandma Vetting's Old Rug Loom".

I looked to the sky and said to Grandma Vetting, now undoubtedly in heaven... "If you want someone to use that loom again, you can put in a good word for me, okay??"   I whispered to Steve that my top dollar budget was going to be $50 bucks.  He said I could go higher if I wanted to. Awwwww see what buying a guy a couple cuckoo clocks can accomplish???

Normally for our area of the country, a 2 harness rug loom goes for about $200 if it's in good working condition.  This one wasn't.

I held my breath as the auctioneer opened the bidding   
I raised my little number 74 card up high!   

"SOLD ... 

We got what we came for, and loaded up the car. Steve's appliances, my fabric and the LOOM!  We loaded up the car to the hilt, and didn't need to run back home for our Tracker SUV.  It all fit!

The loom is called The Little Dandy, and was made probably in the earlier 1900's by the looks of it.  It has been used a LOT but made of solid hard rock maple and made to withstand the tests of time.

We got it home and laid out the pieces 
in the last available spot in my Loom Room studio. 

I quickly moved the coleus plants to the front porch to make more room.
I winter them over indoors and wait till May before I plant them outside again.

(Dont'cha love the rainbows from the leaded glass window overhead?) 

As much fun as it was getting the loom, also it was a lot of fun exploring the box of "go withs" that I won too. These are tools used by some long ago weaver named Grandma Vetting. This is a hand carved shuttle that was used to weave in the headers on each end of the rag rug.  There were assorted rag shuttles too, but I prefer using longer shuttle sticks for my rugs.

I wonder how many miles that thing traveled back and forth
 in the open shed of the loom warp, 
year after year, 
making more and more rugs? 

This is a very creative tension box!  
I have a nice newer one, but I think I will give this one a try. 
It's used to group all 24 threads from a rack of individual spools,
 and load the threads carefully onto the loom, 
one section at a time,  under correct even tension. 

Steveio helped me set up the loom.  I found out that a weaving friend in New York, Hilary, of www.crazyasaloom.com had once owned the exact same loom.  She had since sold it to a student.  She asked the student to take some quick digital pics and forwarded them on to me.  Ain't technology great?  In less than an hour, we had the loom totally together!!!

I want to replace the red and white poly ropes with some proper sash cord (no stretching)  and even out the harnesses after putting on new heddles.  The original ones are so rusty they will mark up the rugs during the weaving.  I just need to have Steve cut off one of my longer reeds to fit the beater, and we will be ready to wind on some warp thread and try this thing out.

I know it's kinda in the way here, and not a lot of room. 

I have to weave on it first and decide if I want to keep it,
or finish restoring it and make it work 
and maybe then sell it to some other weaver.

Maybe it's small enough to fit out on the front porch?
(Steveio would nix that idea!) 

Oh... as another bright item of our day: 
the poor weeping cherry tree 
with the trunk that split over winter has blossomed!!!!

What an exciting day! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mammo Wednesday and Fibery Tuesday

Oooh today is my mammo day.  I approach the day with trepidation, since I had a tumor removed when I was 15. With all of the cancer issues cropping up in our family, this is necessary.  My younger sister deals with cysts and lumps all the time, and had repeated surgeries to keep her healthy and safe and alive!

I go regularly, but always seem to get called back for a second scanning due to the scar tissue.  No matter how many times I tell them of the previous surgery, and they mark the spots with an arrow, there always seems to be some new radiologist reading the scans. Erring on the side of caution, they insist on calling me back for a second imaging. Of course, I go.  I breathe a HUGE sigh of relief when the results come back as okay, just old scar tissue.

So that is my public service announcement for today.  
Go get a mammo! 

Yesterday was cold and damp in Wisconsin.  We had a cloudy day with no sunshine at all. I opted to stay inside and work on weaving some rugs.  I am doing these in a neutral theme of beiges, creams and browns.  I cut up recycled fabric, sew into strips and then weave them up into rugs.  This is one of my favorite patterns, "random stripes" I call it.

I weave my rugs on my Newcomb Studio Rug Loom. I have two of these looms, identical to each other that I love the way they work.  I have had so many looms over the years, but these are my choice for doing rugs.

My Etsy store ( http://kareninthewoods.etsy.com/ ) where I sell my rugs and other things, recently offered a new shadowing program called "Pattern".  This feature will update my own separate standalone www.kareninthewoods.com website with my current inventory.  So anytime I add something, sell something, or change info on the Etsy store, it will change it automatically on my own website. It has a shopping cart too. But the most exciting part is that there is also a spot that I can add a video clip of myself weaving and explaining how I weave rugs.  So ---- my brain is thinking I might do up a video clip one of these days.  

As it is, I have videotaped myself in two different instructional DVD's that I sell online.  One is the complicated process of warping up a sectional loom for weaving.  The other is how to run those frustrating, futzy, finicky antique sockknitting machines!   And it even ends up with a finished sock!

I self-produced and self-duplicate those DVDS and sell those on my etsy site too.  I would think that making a little video clip of myself weaving for the website should be a breeze. Maybe if I have a Good Hair Day and a clean studio, I can set up my video camera and make a clip of my weaving process.

After lunch, I decided to go upstairs to my sewing room and work on my newest quilt.  I don't make quilts to sell, because you can never recover enough financially to cover your basic materials and time per hour put into making a quilt.  This is one that will go out on my front porch.  

It started like this: 

It has now evolved into this so far....

(those are numbered stickers in the centers to keep them in proper order) 

It will be queen sized when completed.

All of the blocks are stitched, 
sandwiched with batting and backing, 
and free-motion quilted.
 I am now joining them with "sashing" 

My last blog talked about the 20 year old bird house which Steve built for me, that came back into our possession in a roundabout way.  I decided to clean it up and coat it with some clear poly.  For now.  

But first I had to vacuum out the "innards"   ---  Steve had never made a clean-out trap door on this birdhouse so I had to stick in the shop vac hose and hope for the best.  I had no idea it was packed that full inside!  It took quite a while of alternating the vac hose nozzle, along with stick-poking and pliers-pulling out the contents.  This birdhouse accumulated a LOT of stuff over the last 20 years!  

Besides the traditional grass used in nest building, I found fishing line, Xmas decor tinsel, birthday balloon ribbons, clumps of dog hair, pieces of plastic bags, and amazingly parts of children's toys like Legos and Barbie shoes and puzzle pieces!  I think those might have been from my own kids back in the 1990's because they were at the bottom of the birdhouse????   

I can just about visualize them playing in the backyard and stuffing small things in the birdhouse hole because it was within reach of the during those years.  Silly kids! 

One other thing I want to clear up was in the last blog, I might have left the impression that Steve had painted the birdhouse prior to giving it to me.  Nope... he hates painting.  He only built it in the shape and form of my home I owned while we were dating. It was up to me to paint it he said.  LOL So I was the one that painted it 20 years ago.  Now that it has a good sealed surface, I might just spruce it up with new paint again.  

One of my readers, Linda Sand, comment was: "It looks well weathered--just like we are. But, I have some newer body parts and new clothes so why shouldn't it get the same treatment? Oh, dear. I don't think I helped, did I?"

I think it is going to remain indoors and protected the rest of it's lifetime.  Perhaps out in my front porch.  Soooo I might just spruce it up with new paint afterall.  It's the structure that is the memory of Steve's thoughtfulness, not the paint job so much... because that was from me.

For now I will look at it and enjoy it.  

And smile.  

Well, off to get ready for the mammo! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sunny Sunday!

Oh my.... clear blue skies. 
High temps in the mid 70's. 
I think Spring might be here?  

It was time to catch up a few things 
around Our Old House 
now that the temps are cooperating.

I had this wonderful old enamel wash pan that was out in the garage when we bought the house.  I had a bunch of succulent plants that I had wintered over inside.  Time to put the two together.....   I think this will sit out on my cute red patio table as a centerpiece, but it can be moved if need be for meals outside.

We have signs of spring cropping up all around the house and yard.  Yup, all of the snow is gone and we are reveling in the warm rays of sunshine, chirping birds, and a few open windows on the house.

The flowers are all poking up their leaves around the house....  and soon we will be having tulips!

So far we have some star brites and daffodils (or narcissis?)

Duke and Ducky's new headstones we bought last year 
made it through the winter cold and didn't crack.

Steve was able to start working on the motorhome.  As you recall, we had a bad coolant leak all the way home from Florida.  Every 100 miles we had to stop and add gallons of water to the system.  He knew the leak was near the water pump, but not sure exactly until he could get under there and check.  Since the weather was finally cooperating, he got the water pump off.  Happily, it only looks like it's an O ring at a inlet hose connection that appears corroded, kinda hard and possibly the problem.  No leaks from the end of the shaft, so the seal is holding.  He will change the O rings, and probably the gasket too.  Better than replacing the entire waterpump at $500 or more!

Once that was done, we were ready to tackle the garage!  SPRING CLEANING!!!!  We cranked up the radio, got out the gloves and went to work.

Here are the "before" shots.....

He serviced the snow blower to stow it away for summer, and got the lawnmower ready for the upcoming season.  I sorted and cleaned and stacked and threw away a lot of stuff.  We called a metal recyling guy to come get some old pipes and fittings.  Chilton is not having their annual bulky item pickup this year, so we would have to dispose of everything ourselves.

I have a large number of shipping boxes stacked up, as well as clutter and junk and things that have accumulated over the last three and half years in this house. We started out with a clean garage back then.  What happened? 

We brought out our supervisor and district manager to check up on us.  They cracked the whip and told us to get that clutter cleaned up and find their TOYS!!!

We managed to locate their frisbees, tennis balls, tie out ropes and outdoor doggie dishes.  Lucky dogs!   We even set up the lawn chairs for a coffee break and tossed the ball for them a few times.  Happy dogs.

It didn't take too long....

Steve erected my new shelves over in the far corner of the garage for organizing my shipping boxes.  They are made from an old set of shelves that had been down in the root cellar room of the house. The unneeded shelves were over on the far left and he took them down.  (we kept the shelves on the right for my canning jars)  I love the old stone and brick walls in our basement.

Soooo why am I blathering on and on about some stupid shelves?  Well... because they have a history connected with the house and the family that lived here for four generations.

The boards are from a piano packing crate from many many years ago....   probably salvaged after the family bought this piano in this photo below.  The company is a local business just down the block where the piano was shipped to.  How cool is that?  Here is young Joan Kopf Baldock at the piano.

 And here is George Baldock Jr. along with his sister Joan at the piano. 
This room is now my Loom Room for my studio.  

The piano is gone, but the crate remained in the basement,
recycled as shelves all these years. 

Now it's getting a new use out in the garage, 
nailed up in the corner to organize my shipping boxes! 

and... before you know it,
 the garage was clean! 

The kids gave Steve some gift cards for his upcoming birthday this Thursday,  so he is going to head to Home Depot and pick out some new bench building materials and legs and supports to make his work area spiffy. He has to have a place to hang out once he retires, right? 

My last project involves something I came across a year ago....  and now I will finish it up. 

Background story:
 20 years ago, I owned a cool old English Tudor home in Green Bay. 

It was a two family home, which I had an apartment in the upstairs for rental income.  I loved this house with it's old original woodwork, classic charm, and style that I have come to appreciate in older homes.  I used to sell real estate, and this type of home excited me, rather than cookie cutter boxes in rows and rows in new developments.  But I digress.... 

This is when I first met Steve.   He built me a wonderful birdhouse to match my house.... and I just loved it.  What a sweet thing for a guy to do.  He lived on a very very tight budget while we dated.  Many of the gifts he bestowed on me were handmade.  So Precious!   (plus he got a crew of guys together to replace my roof, but that is another story) 

When I sold the house 2 years later (because we built our new home together up in Oconto)  I left the birdhouse behind in the yard, thinking it belonged with the house.  Steve said he would build me a new birdhouse, and leave this one for the new owners.

Last year, I was heading up to Green Bay for a doc appointment, and had extra time to drive around.  As I was driving past my old house, I thought I would stop and take a few pics.  A renting tenant lady stuck her head out the window and asked if she could help me?  I told her I was just snapping a few pics because I used to live there.  She came out to chat a bit.  We had a nice visit, and I mentioned a few queries if the backyard was still the same, with my gazebo I built, the trees I planted, and the birdhouse Steve made.  The birdhouse can be seen in the foreground in this pic from long ago. 

She said "funny you should mention that birdhouse... my son just bumped into it last week, and the post was rotted down at the ground level.  So it fell over!  I put it in the garage and notified the landlord.  He said it was okay to toss it out because the roof broke.  I had missed putting it out for garbage pick up this morning so it's still laying the garage! Do you want it?" 

I replied:
"DO I WANT IT????  OF COURSE!!!!"  

I loaded it up in the trunk of the car and went home with a treasure more precious to me than anything I could think of!  Here is a video clip of when I got it home and notified Steve that I had something in my trunk: 

I took the birdhouse yesterday and repaired the broken roof pieces.  Then I cleaned it up in the afternoon and let it dry.
Here it is all scrubbed up

I am not going to put it back outside. 
I am going to keep it indoors, probably out in our front porch.
To look at it. Smile. Remember. 

Now I have to decide if I want to repaint all the faded details,
 making it all spiffy and good looking? 

 Or should I just seal it in well with poly
 and keep it in it's original paint to preserve the memory? 

What would you do?