Remember when….A Wordless Wednesday.


Common sense and good nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult”
– William Somerset Maugham

Sophie, you are not a duck...

Sophie, you are not a duck…

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

dogs,chickens, and llammas oh my 5

Andy today

remember when...

a song

remembering

lovins

duo

Breez

girls

jenni .3

Andys

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.”
– Robert Frost, Two Roads

Be Well,
Jess

In Winter’s Cold Shadow…There is Gold.


I find that I am not as patient as I once was; sometimes, I feel as though I am attempting to strain the mud puddle rather than patiently waiting for the mud to settle and the water to clear….Do you ever feel as though you are treading water, when you should be swimming?
Feeling over whelmed, me? “Why”, I ask myself. I know there is no easy road, no magic bullet. I am well aware the frustration I feel is of my own making. . . yet as I concentrate so much energy on my objectives, my world, …stumbling through endless lists.
I have always had lists. That can’t be it; am I just getting older and grumpier? Is this what mid-life, what 50 feels like? If it is I don’t like it one bit. Is it just the solitude that winter brings? Could it be I just need to idle my motor, wait for things to happen as they should, when they should?
Or maybe, just maybe; I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these that let me savor a bad mood….until the afternoon sun turns it to gold.

shadow
Mercedes’ shadow cast on the barn wall.

butts
Intent on supper…”oh, are you still there?”

Mercedes

Mercedes, always so graceful , never in the front, never pushy, or needing to be the first…always patient and full of grace. I want to be like her.

Andy 13

Andy, is so frail; he did not have the benefit of his mother’s milk and nutrients pat the age of 2 months. I worry about him in the cold; he is wearing 2 polar fleece vest, a goose down vest, and a rain jacket with the arms cut off, ( all zipped up across his back) to protect him from the frigid temperatures. He sleeps, always, between KatDoll and Camille…they keep him warm.
I am going to have him gelded, so that he never has to leave them.

the crew
Even the chickens head to the llama barn for warmth and protection.

The winter blues. How do you deal with this issue? Or is it not an issue for you? Where do you find your patience?

Be Well,
Jess

Are you and Alchemist?


Well, never-mind; you don’t need to be. It is all quite simple once you know the basics…we MUST know the basics.

Let’s talk mordants (just for a moment). Mordants are what I call binders..sort of like an egg in baking (right?) it holds the whole wretched mess together… a cohesive whole…if you will. If care is not taken to do this correctly…precious fibers/yarn could be ruined – or your barn, studio, garage…an explosive ending is not what we are after here.

Most dyes require a mordant; the mordant allows them to chemically bond to the fiber. Without them,the dye would simply sit on top of the fiber, rinsing off with each wash. The mordant chemically prepares and opens up the fiber to bond with the dye.

If you’re going to take the time to learn the basics of natural dying; be aware – this is not a quick project. Don’t rush, take your time (dare I say, enjoy the process) Don’t skip steps, as tempting as this may be, we are after quality results here…when the basics are conquered, results become more predictable, and the final results; well worth your efforts.

This is not a process to be shared with children, (there are kool-aid dyes for that) oh, and they are fun too; just be sure to use the kool-aid packet with out sugar.(no need to attract unwanted guests to the party..insects)

madder-sage- Photo from [Fleece on the duck]
The green shade was achieved by simmering sage with red basil. The liquid in the pot was purplish-red yet produced a khaki colored fiber. When lime juice was added the fiber brightened and became a soft sage green.

Take care not to breaht in the mordants whilst adding them to your pots…and for heaven’s sake; don’t directly breathe in the steam as it is processes. A little common sense goes a long way; so, gather your gloves, and find a mask some where. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

a llama run to CT

Toxicity vs. amount used = low ratio – for a pound of fiber, you’re going to want to dilute around only 1/2 an OUNCE of mordant (with the exception of alum, which you’re going to need around 1-2 ounces. (although, Alum isn’t toxic ) Once the mordant bath is used up or weakened, it is pretty harmless.

A list of commonly used mordants ( not exhaustive by any means):

Alum (Aluminum Potassium Sulfate): Pretty much, alum is the easiest to find and use, it is less toxic, and it gives what we will call the “base” color. It doesn’t change the base color of your fiber. You can find alum, made by McCormick, in the canning or spice section at most grocery stores.
THis is a good option if you are dyeing by solar power.
You want to dissolve your alum in lots of hot water, put it in your chosen vessel (pot,enamel is best), crock-pot, whatever, place your fiber in the pot*, simple- dimple.

Copper (Copper Sulfate): Copper will turn your fiber a light aqua-to-greenish color. That could be fun. It can be used with yellows to get soft greens, to make blues and greens more turquoise, and to make warm tones.

Iron (Ferrous Sulfate): Ehhhhh, some people class this as a “color modifier” not a true mordant. Makes stuff greyer/darker. Used with indigo or logwood, or even sometimes walnut, to get black. Known in medieval dyeing recipes as “copperas”, SO DON’T ASSUME COPPERAS MEANS COPPER. You can pre-mordant with this like you normally would, but a lot of folks just use it after dyeing to grey it up. Used alone, iron will darken your fiber. I don’t ever use it by itself as a pre-mordant. I only use it with something else, or afterwards to modify.

And some less common, but still widely used ones are:

Chrome (Potassium Dichromate): *TOXIC* I don’t use it; but some dyers love the effects it can cause…(color me chicken)

Tin (Stannous Chloride): Brightens colors. Tin does not change the base color of your fiber. Tin will give you the brightest, clearest reds/yellows/oranges, and can be used with cochineal to give hot pink. It’s my most favoritest mordant ever because I like the bright shinies, and it turns the mordant bath opalescent. Oooooohhhhh, pretty.

a shiny sheep

HOW TO MORDANT

ALWAYS! ALWAYS! – have dedicated mordanting pots. NEVER EVER USE them for cooking after! Nod, that you understand. Might I also recommend that you work outside. Most of the natural dyes, I’m not terribly concerned about allowing in my home, many of them are herbs and spices that we already have in our home. I will not allow mordant in the house.

The basic method is this:

Dissolve your mordant in a pot of warm water(think room temperature), LOTS of water, you need to let your fiber have plenty of space to move around, or the mordant can’t attach everywhere, Use a non-reactive pot—enamel, no chips please, or stainless steel. Keep in mind metals are mordants, so using a cast iron, copper, aluminum will alter your results…you understand the dilemma. Now, set it on the burner,( I have a burner on the side of my gas grill, but they do sell propane burners) and add (presoaked, wet)fiber. Turn the heat source to medium, and let it sit for about 1/2 hour, (if you are like me, you will find it hard to wait, I wanna see it now!) Stir occasionally; oh, so gently, with a non-metal utensil of course…don’t agitate..no felting allowed here. Let the pot cool. Ok, now you can remove the fiber and RINSE (keep rinsing til you are sick of it) rinse some more. Keep in mind, the mordant has made a chemical change,rinsing won’t hurt it. Having excess mordant will. Those pesky molecules of mordant will dance about, holding on in all the wrong places…causing havoc with your color and finished results. Rinse people. It is ready to be dyed or it may be stored wet or dry, for later dyeing – if yo can wait. If possible, let it sit over night.

onion-skins
Fleece on the Duck ~ onion skins to dye fiber.

***If you use crockpots. Allow them to preheat. Water should be good and hot BEFORE you add fiber, and then leave it on the high setting for 1/2 an hour, just like on the stove. Always, rinse out your crockpots well. You do not want to allow deposits of metal salts to build up. This can cause crockpot explosions. If a crack appears..ditch it. If mordants get into the metal base the pot may shatter. Kind of neat to explode a crockpot, but nonetheless, a bad idea.

PREPARATION OF DYE-BATH
Place dyes (what ever dye medium you have chosen) into cold water and heat slowly. the smaller the particles- the better results…so break things up as best you can.
Most dyes need to be brought to a boil before color is extracted. Dissolve powders. Heat till color is drawn out…cool.(both physically,and metaphorically).Strain twigs, bark or other matter;you probably don’t want all that in your finished project.

DYEING
Enter wet wool into a tepid bath. Heat slowly. Gradual temperature changes, and gentle stirring prevent shrinkage and felting. keep the fiber or yarn in the dye bath until you are happy with the color. Or until the dye bath is exhausted, ( and hopefully, you are not) Do remember;colors are darker on wet fiber. Decide accordingly.
Allow the dye bath to cool before removing the fiber you have just dyed beautifully. Use care to gently, , I say, gently,squeeze fiber to remove dye liquids. Let’s rinse yet again…til it runs clear. Allow the fiber or yarn to dry.
Behold your creation!

So, now you know!
Be well,
Jess

Wordless Wednesday…Spring Today Gone Tomorrow


Llamas Llove snow! (and dogs do too)

winter 2012 041

winter 2012 040

winter run

Be Well,
Jess
ps,I just noticed I posted the same picture x2…uggh.

Here, Here!


2013

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min’,
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

girls 12 31 12

And here’s a hand, my trusty fierce,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak’ a right guid willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,

boyz

We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint stowpt,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
-Robert Burns

fence

Whatever you resolve to do,
On any New Year’s Day,
Resolve to yourself to be true
And live-the same old way

toast

I wish you Love,
I wish you cheer,
I wish you Peace
throughout the year!

Be Well,
Jess

Don’t be afraid of the darkness; Shine!


Stand Up! You must shine your light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about the darkness, that’s when the stars shine brightest.
LLaLLa
LlaLla, (Shangrala), I just love this girl!

Be Well,
Jess
It seems, I can post simple posts from my phone: hurrah!

Let that little light of yours shine, shine, shine…


I have just one wish, or maybe we should call it a my hope; to matter, to make a difference.

You know what’s interesting? We all seem to be chasing something, don’t we? At this time of year,”The Holiday Season”; so many families are scrambling for the perfect gift. Maybe you have deep pockets; buying for the guy/girl who has everything. Maybe you have nothing, trying to bring a gift home for the child who has little to nothing, knowing you still have to feed her. I am willing t bet you the little girl who receives just one gift will cherish that gift more than the fella who has everything. I know, I was that girl.

I am searching; searching for the perfect gift for just such a child…I will buy two; one for a girl, and one for a boy. The Local Fire Department (my husband is a volunteer fire fighter)has an annual event; they use money collected from fundraisers, such as middle school dances to purchase new and lightly used toys for children…then they invite families(parents, to shop – for FREE! they can choose gifts they hope their little ones will love; even though they have no funds to purchase these. How awesome is that!

… I’m sure of only one thing. If you leave this world, this life; having touched just one person’s life, you have made a difference!

Live like you mean it.

dynamic duo
Andy and Dolly…always together…as I went out this morning to begin chores, this is how I saw them. He, my little Andy, Loves her endlessly.

Miels
Camille, one of my older girls, past her breeding age, so she just lolls about looking pretty.

LaLa
Shangrala, I call her LaLa…always regal in appearance…always.

duo and princess
Andy and Dolly, think they are missing something…racing up the hill; Princess seems to be hinking…Oh, no…here they come!

duo on the run
Kick up your heels!

optical illusion
This shot of Phantom is an optical illusion, this is really 2 llamas…Jubilee is just behind Phantom ( he is brown and cream)

Gio
Gio…aah, Gio.

Life won’t work out exactly as we had planned, it just won’t. How did you envision your life when you were a child? No where in my childhood fantasy’s did I see myself on Llama farm in Upstate NY. Life does not work out the way you expect. But sometimes it works out even better.
So SHINE, Don’t stand in the light of your convictions? Shine?….it just means to go for what you believe in with all that you have…
Own it, be it, do it and then, when it is your time to exit — depart knowing that you truly lived and boy , did you Shine!

Be well,
Jess

Say YES!


Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.
Stephen Colbert

Be Well,
Jess

Do you ever wonder…?


Do you ever wonder?

The morning’s hustle and bustle has come and gone, leaving the house quiet and warm. Warmth brought not only by the wood fire crackling but by the love shared, dreams chased, full with beautiful moments that make up our life.

Snow was falling, as the dogs and I set out for our morning ramble about this small farm…it is a wet snow and wont last long; just long enough to coat the llamas in a sparkling frosty icing. The snow is giving this grey gloomy November day just the boost it needed, I think.
Do you ever wonder what is really valuable to you, what is beautiful, what inspires you? What keeps you going?
I think, this question is why I blog..it helps me sort things out, to reminisce, to smile about the days, weeks, or even years past’s misadventures and sweet moments.

I look at my life differently, ordinary things take on a new meaning when looked at through the lens of my camera or the words of my blog. Snippets of life brought into focus more thoroughly enjoyed, moments not lost in the flurry of our lives, moments we can now go back to. Moments to smile, laugh, or let the tears fall.

It seems as though I have my camera in my hand no matter where I go; capturing moments, moments in nature, moments in our lives, moments of simple beauty.

I wonder… now, how I could have passed by so much inspiration, so much beauty and not capture it to be shared and enjoyed later, later, when we thought we had forgotten. Blogging affords me an outlet, a community of sharing – if you will – a wonderful place to connect with others. Others, from distant lands, different cultures, with different languages and different time.

Blogs.
Our visual journals, our creative outlets; joys shared, sorrows softened, inspiration found…feelings validated and kindness received; a beginning of something new and exciting. My blog, a place where I open up more than I ever thought possible.

I wonder.
I wonder where this journey will take me and where your journey will take you?
My blog has led me, with your compassion and support to reach for dreams that once felt impossible.

I wonder; I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Courtney is home; she and her Mom are staying with us, getting stronger and enjoying family while she awaits her transplant.
Be well,
Jess

evening…the day exhales


Inspiration found. With the setting sun comes evening chores; the water, the grain mixed with the appropriate amount of beet/soy mixture; chickens fed, their eaters filled (and de-mudded – thank you dear ducks), hay carried, barns floors mucked, and wheel barrows pushed…yet, last night the evening sky was full of color and vibrancy. We lingered, the dogs and I; sitting at the edge of a pasture.

The llamas seemed in no particular hurry to be fed. They milled about eyeing us, and nibbling on any persistent grass leaves that dare to brave the frost and snow showers. Llamas silhouetted against the setting sun.

It was one of those nights..where you feel as though everything will be ok. There was no reason to be afraid – of anything. It helped me remember—and I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, and despite all of the uncertainty in our lives and the lives of those we love – it will be ok.

While it may look different for all of us, I suppose this is the feeling we wait for in life: a sense that there’s boundless beauty out there, and we have the capacity to feel, channel, explore, and express it. We just have to slow down, open up, step outside of ourselves long enough to see it.

Notice what really matters…

Sing out loud! Although, at my house, I would dole out ear plugs first..to the humans. My animals don’t seem to mind that I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Let go! Sometimes.

Tomorrow, My husband and I are traveling to NYC to bring my Sister and Courtney home. If all goes well her transplant can happen after Christmas. Thank you for all of your good thoughts and prayers!

Be Well,
Jess