Complication is an Understatement


It has been quite a summer, I don’t feel as though I am any further ahead than when I began.

I do suppose, our crazy, busy, complicated lives are very different, though much the same.

IDSC_7197

We try to keep it simple; life is a lot.

A lot of dreams. A lot of work. A lot of family and friends. A lot of expectations and a lot responsibilities.

Inevitably there is a lot of juggling.

DSC_7200

The juggling game changes from time to time, it moves from juggling your own needs with the needs of sick family member; their needs take momentary precedence.

DSC_7192

The juggling changes when a loved one enters your life anew. You welcome the ball changes.

DSC_7242

Life is never enough.

DSC_7205

Never enough time.

It flies by, try as  you might to capture it, holding it close so that it doesn’t slip through your fingers…then it’s gone.

Years pass, you hardly notice.

Wish as you might, they are gone.

DSC_7063

Never enough energy. There is always one more task to be completed.

Just when you think you’ve reached capacity, another undertaking manifests. You find a new spark.

You do.

DSC_7190

Would it be conjecture to say you feel the same?

DSC_7195

Accomplishing more than you ever thought possible.

Daring to dream of that which should be unattainable.

Be well,

Jess

 

 

Rocket Surgery


Do you ever say things, but they didn’t come out exactly as you had planned? One of my daughters, Jenn (actually both) did often as a child, she mixed 2 sayings into one – often. Rocket surgery was but one; still makes me chuckle.

169543_3752999826687_280588781_o

 

Usually used when I was helping with math homework. “It’s not rocket surgery, Momma”;. Immediately followed by, “When will Daddy be home”?

 

My other daughter, Juli; well,  if she didn’t know the words, she would just make up her own.  Once she officiated a marriage, she “married” my husband and I, at age 4. Complete with a gown she hand crafted, a very creative soul she is.

582552_4381632262105_1475978992_n

 

It went something like this:

Howie, do you take Jessica to be your awfully bledded wife? As long as she lives.

Precious she was. (still is)

10412010_10202510435505283_3964744716424043517_n

When our youngest was born, she was certain we should watch her “extension cord” carefully. Always the caring sister.

Juli & Jenn

Juli & Jenn

As I was driving home from the dental hygiene clinic today (Jenn is a student hygienist), I was thinking how fast she has grown; and how funny she was as a child, though she was sure she wasn’t funny at all. She would try to memorize jokes, from the elephant joke book bought at the school book sale, in  an effort to be as funny as her older siblings.

10002980_10202510436705313_88313514300851792_n

 

Juli was a natural princess actress and wasn’t about to lose her crown, she didn’t find Jenn amusing most days…on the other hand, Juli’s rendition of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President ‘ was a hard act to follow.

10402454_10202510445785540_3205049931847287655_n

Aah, the memories they provided.

Be well,

Jess

 

 

Portland


Press Publish ~ Portland. Celi’s there you know. Hers was the first blog I followed when first starting mine in May of 2011. Her blog is a treat. If you haven’t already you should check it out. Some sessions will be live streamed, you have to register for tickets. Her session will begin at 1:45. There will also be so many helpful sessions, I hope to catch this one, as I am new to WordPress Premium.  I am a little excited. crab apples in a bunch Here is my very first post, have you read it? It seems so long ago, so much has happened since that day in May. There have been failures and unexpected successes. Moments to embrace and lessons in letting go. Through it all, I have laughed, cried, and learned. Delightfully alive. Be well, Jess

Comfort.


Do you sometimes feel too comfortable, like you need to shake things up a bit to keep from standing still? DSC_5236

Is there some deep down craving, a story left untold, a path grown over from lack of treading? Or is it just me that has to push, to find detours, over mountainous obstacles, brought to a dead end; only to turn around, catch my breath only to be propelled forward yet again.

DSC_5203

Its only human, I suppose, to want to hide from change. To stay snugged in your box of contentment.  Why venture out; it’s warm and cozy there.

DSC_5506

We should leave our lives open to serendipity; creative souls are not meant to be boxed in. There are discoveries out there that may make our hearts quiver, or shake us to our souls.

DSC_4198

(Howie is so cute in his hat.) You only have to take the chance. Bring a friend, or go it alone. DSC_4580

Come out from behind your self imposed barriers, (yes, you Sidney) DSC_5044

We have dreams, we have fears to conquer. (Well, Sidney; I do)

DSC_4607

We have an adventure ahead. Let’s not waste a moment. (You’re not coming with me, are you Sidney?)

DSC_4552

How does the saying go? ” “I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way!” (No wonder Sidney doesn’t wanna come.)

DSC_4890

Maybe Cicely will come? Maybe not.

Be well,

Jess

Leprechauns. Do you believe in fairies?


First let’s just say, Leprechauns are sharp dressers. One account tells us that he has a red coat with seven rows of buttons and seven buttons on each row. Dapper indeed.

Another says he wears a gold embroidered tunic, a scarlet coat, his hair in yellow ringlets. ( prefer him in red hair, thank you) His skin, whiter than foam of wave and… cheeks redder than the forest’s scarlet berry. That doesn’t sound very menacing, does it?

Leprechaun can be found above all in the Irish Midlands and Connaugh, though in more recent sightings, they have been spotted in England. There was the Liverpool Episode in the 1960’s. This city, you say, is an unlikely place for a rash of wee people sightings?

Well, I hear, they were being seen by children at night in the city’s parks near schools and libraries,as well as, houses and garden walls. So intense was the excitement, that on one occasion a crowd of people gathered near the bowling green in Edge Hill during the summer of 1964; all hoping to see fairies, children were armed and ready with their jam jars and nets.The frenzy built until police were brought in to contain the curious.

Later the same decade, a woman living in Wavertree claimed that three little men in green clothes had been sitting on her backyard wall, throwing stones at her dog, and other women saw them climbing a tree in Wavetree Park. 

The leprechaun (aka leithbrágan) is quickly told: ‘The Leprecaun, a solitary Irish fairy … they may be seen sitting under a hedge mending a shoe, and if you are quick enough to capture him (keep your eyes on him) you can make him hand over his pot of gold, he is a rich little skinflint.  

If you do take your eyes off him, he will vanish. Making a fool of you for trying to contain him. 

leprechaun

A solitary fairy, which is somewhat strange as he spends his time drinking, smoking his pipe, and making shoes for others fairies.   Have they always been so disinterested in the company of others? I wonder.

An early medieval text describes how King Fergus (no, not the race horse) was taken by a group of Leprechaun to the sea. Fergus awakens and grabs three of his captors, sparing their lives in return for a wish.  Fergus’ demand for a wish ~ money, (they are very wealthy little shoe makers indeed). This might explain their recluse type behavior.

You decide; coincidence or fact filled lore?

I, for one, am on the hunt, (I could use the money). I think I should add some shamrock to my garden, I think they’d like that.

Be well,

Jess

A Handwritten Letter


When was the least time you wrote, received, or even thought about writing a letter to a friend or loved one? Not an e-mail, nor text, no, a real pen to paper letter.

DSC_5957

There are few things more cherished in my box of saves; collected moments of my life, held in my hand as only a written page sent can be. A tangible gift written with care, bringing back the day young lives intertwined not to be forgotten as lives moved on.

ptg00981530

This young love will remain as new as the first kiss, relived each time the note is unwrapped and aged eyes are set upon it.

Letter from a dear friend, sent to bring comfort on your saddest day.

I remember the days when they were penned and sent to our hand in celebration, passion, sorrow and hope ~ like photos of the past a moment of time is captured on the page.

DSC_5960

A thing of the past. Am I forced to accept this truth?

My Husband is half way across the globe for some weeks, I think I will pen him a note today. It will fly across the sea on ly to return home in his work weary hand.

Perhaps, I’ll write a note for you.

Be well,

Jess

A Meandering, Winding Path


Where will life take us? Or is the question where will we take our life?

Chilly morning

It’s a question I have been pondering as of late. You see, one of my long time dreams was to open a cafe; not just any cafe, but a cafe with healthy choices and welcoming homey vibe.

I did!

I worked as hard at it as humanly possible, and used every cent I had. I loved being there and loved our regular customers. I met wonderful people from all walks of life.

As much as folks and patrons loved it, and spoke of our delicious food; it couldn’t sustain itself. The Community could not support it, and we were not on a road traveled by tourists, nothing in town to pull them off the main road and into our quaint village.(well, that will be another post, another time)

snowy-morning-in-december-81.jpg

Grateful, for having the chance to try my wings and live that dream; to try, to step out in faith.

I am left with the question, what now? This question weighs heavy. Surely, I am not alone in questioning life’s path.

What is my plan B? Or C-Z for that matter? Is this a mid-life crisis, e-gad! Surely not. 50(ish) is the new twenty,right?

Everyone I meet now is at least ten years younger than me. I feel like Rip van Winkle with breasts!

Now to find where I left that path of mine…or should I let it find me?

Cambridge Valley 2

Be Well,
Jess

Just One Tiny Seed…


Spring, opportunity, hope, I think these three words belong together. It all starts with one tiny seed, sown with hope, and if by magic, it becomes a towering sunflower, a a clambering vine of beans, a 40 pound pumpkin, or a sweet smelling sweet pea, isn’t that hard to believe?
garden peony

Yet, it happens; reminding us with hope, and determination anything is possible. Nurture your even the tiniest seed of a dream, and with work and perseverance it can be. I still have to pinch myself at times as I look around this Shoppe. It was a lot of work, and many, many hours of work; it still is, but, is worth it.
NYC bud
If a seed can burst into life in NYC, it can grown anywhere!

Following your dreams is not for the faint of heart, if your want it, really, really, want it. You must put in the work. Some folks, think if you dream hard enough, it will fall into your lap. Nope, that’s not how this works. [Well, I guess you can dream of winning the lottery. That’s not much work..] But, you get what I’m saying right?
llama sky

Right now, I’m dreaming of making a really fresh sweet dessert. I noticed this morning there are lots of rhubarb stalks ready to be picked. So, I’m thinking Strawberry- Rhubarb Squares, a shortbread type of dough… I will work on the recipe today, pick the stalks tomorrow…and I am a little excited now. I will share photos tomorrow.

Be Well,
Jess

Pint Sized Gardening.


I was asked a few days back for ideas around children’s gardens and gardening with children. Do reserve a space for “their” garden, do they help with small parts of the whole shebang, or do they have specific tasks? time to pull

My children helped with the whole thing. they helped start the seeds, they helped plant; well until they got tired. or hot, or thirsty, or hungry, or a butterfly fluttered past. You get the way things worked, right?
072.1

downMy eldest daughter adored sunflowers, many were planted at our home and in her Poppa’s garden. She could not wait to pose for a picture with the humongous flowers towering over her diminutive, but oh so coordinated person. She was all of about 26 pounds upon entering kindergarten. Tiny but make no mistake – there is not a person or thing she was afraid of and she had a patented mad-walk to prove it.I think she could have registered that, holeh.

berrilicious
Justin loved the berries, luckily they grew wild, I could never have planted enough for him. WHen we went pay per pound berry picking at a nearby field, I always thought they should weigh him as he entered and disregard the basket he carried. The blue smile and belly clutching upon exiting was a tell tale sign.

garden carrots Jenn’s favorite was carrots, and we rarely had a carrot grow to maturity, she checked them so often to see if they were ready for her soup creations. These soups [and keep in mind at this point in time she was 4 – 5 years of age], contained any number of things, though not very much of anything, an underdeveloped string bean, a carrot the size of a pen cap, a few peas, some water, and maybe some lettuce. I always was granted a taste. You can only imagine the look of guarded enthusiasm as I partook of this culinary delight.

I think my point here is ,isn’t every garden a child’s garden if we let it be. If we let go of the controls for a bit, let them dig in, as little or as much as they wish. No your rows won’t be as straight, your harvest may not be the envy of the neighborhood; heck you may have tomatoes in your squash! Sometimes I stressed more than now I think prudent..with age comes wisdom so they say. I will be planting many raised beds her at the PIcasso’s , and I am yearning for those eager little hands to help. Childhood passes so quickly,but, I don’t wanna grow up!
Will

We did have some child-like structures in our gardens over the years, like sunflower forts, pole bean tee-pees, and plants to attract butterflies, there was one year this was particularly important. 097
Fairy gardens would be fun for little ones to create, I think. Or brightly painted tires, filled with salad or salsa fix ins; easy to weed and fun to do!

100.1

I am eager to start spring specials, put the soup pots up to rest; fill our plates with spring’s fresh bright culinary delights. Peas anyone?

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