Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay.
~Ralph Blane~

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Confession time... The felted failure.

This morning we had a strange, but beautiful, sunrise.
 Low clouds, heavy with rain, letting the sun peek through for just a few minutes. It didn't last long. The dark clouds won again and the rain came upon us for a third day.

It occurred to me that this was one of those strange but beautiful days when I had the time to show all of you my dark side and that Farmlady can really botch up one of her artistic endeavours. She doesn't like to talk about her mistakes. I don't think she is alone in this.
(She's going to tell this story in the third person so it doesn't hurt so much.)

Over a week ago Farmlady decided to try making a large Nuno felted scarf. She read quite a few websites on the subject. She had taken a class last fall and successfully completed a beautiful scarf, with the help of a wonderful artist named Lorri Scott.  Farmlady had done lots of felting and thought that she knew the in's and outs of putting one together.
So, that morning, Farmlady laid out the bubble wrap on top of an old towel and meticulously choose the fabric. She ironed the pieces and, laying them upside down on bubble wrap to form the design of the scarf.
When she got it just the way she wanted it, Farmlady began to "glue" the pieces together with small amounts of roving.
When the felting process is completed, the wool will hold onto the fabric and bind everything together. She made sure that every piece of fabric was overlapped and had the wool roving in between.
Then she covered all of it except for the middle and the ends, with a thin layer of the wool roving and covered the whole scarf with a piece of nylon tulle. She got a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water and some liquid soap and sprayed the whole scarf, using a plastic bag, over her hand to pat and smooth all the wool down. This is a long process. The tulle would be removed later when the wool started to stick to the fabric.
When the fabric and wool were thoroughly saturated, she put another piece of bubble wrap on top and rolled the "scarf" up on a piece of a yellow pool tube that kids like to float on when they go swimming.

 Farmlady tied it with some fabric strips  and then she began to ROLL. She rolled it for quite a while, stopped and opened it, checked... nope , no adhesion yet. So she rolled it up from the other end and ROLLED it again. Checked,.. nope.. nothing.
Rolled some more. Checked...
NO... NOTHING.
She finally went out on the porch and ROLLED the whole thing with her feet... always an alternative if your arms get tired.
NO>>> NOTHING.
Farmlady was getting tired .
Finally, after quite a few times, ROLLING and UNROLLING, she laid the "scarf out on the table and check to see if the fabric and the wool were going to "become one".
Was this a fruitless endeavor for some unknown reason, or was she just tired? It was starting to stick and she knew that she should continue the ROLLING longer, but... she didn't.
 As soon as she thought it was sticking at all, she filled a plastic bag with very hot, almost boiling water and dumped the scarf into the bag. She shook it. Rolled it... slapped it around in the sink for a while. CHECKED IT....
NOTHING!
 She pulled the scarf out of the bag. The ends didn't stick. She had to take them off.... The lovely eyelet fabric in the middle too.
Still, nothing happen... so she threw the whole thing into a mesh bag and into a small soapy load in her washing machine. YEP! She just did it. She was tired of messing with it.
After more that 5 or 6 five minute intervals, the fabric started  to "scrunch". and within about 30 to 40 minutes the scarf was finished felting.
Farmlady was finished too. She rinsed out the scarf and rolled it in her hands. She realizing that she had made a mistake. She wasn't sure what the mistake was. The cotton fabric maybe?... although it did finally "scrunch" up and do what it was suppose to do. The wool?... that she had ordered from a farm and was not the cleanest roving she had ever used. Or, and this was probably the real "confessional" reason, HER OWN IMPATIENCES.
So she ended up with a very funny looking "scarf".
With a hole in the middle.
Did she hear laughter in the air?  Probably.
Will she try to remedy the situation?... Of course.
She realized that it could become the summer blouse for Miss Gray, a rather lovely mannequin that belongs to a friend of hers.
Or, she could make a new bodice for Bear.
Bear only has a heavy sweater to wear and summer is coming.

The felting process is a strange one and you cannot be impatient with it. Farmlady thinks that she could also hang this felted failure in front of her the next time she attempts a Nuno felted scarf....
  ...as a reminder that some things take time and patience... and a large amount of effort.
 "ART", as in life, requires making mistakes and doing things over and over until you get them right.
Farmlady slept many nights on this. She had dreams of making a scarf that held together and looked beautiful. She will try again and if she gives herself another chance, she may learn a bit more about the process of things and having to reconcile oneself to the way something is accomplished.
PATIENCE is of great importance.... Farmlady really did learn a lesson from this.
If you have an opinion on any of this, she would love to hear it.
.... She is listening.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Have you ever heard a donkey bray?

Yesterday I drove up to Volcano, CA... and then further up to Daffodil Hill. I wanted to take some pictures of the beautiful valley of daffodils and its surroundings before the rain and snow arrived today.
I thought the park was open... but it wasn't. Luckily, the caretaker said I could walk around and take some photos as long as I didn't walk out on the slippery trails. It's was an insurance thing. I was fine with that so I stuck close to the barnyard and gravel areas.
It was overcast and cold, but I got some great photos.

The daffodils were shivering in the cold wind and I didn't get many good photos of the thousands of flowers that were blooming.
 This was one section of "the hill" where they have  planted daffodils.

And looking up into this small valley I remembered what William Wordsworth wrote .
I though of his words...
"I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
  That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,        
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."

"They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
Have you ever heard a donkey bray? It is truly a "He (breath in) ha(breath out), he ha, he ha." only very high pitched and loud. They knew that the care taker had given me some bread (for another reason) and they wanted some too. The horse was quieter about it. He just waited and watched.

Because, it seems, the donkeys are the ones who "put on the show"
... and they did.
They are real attention getter's.
I wanted to take this one home with me.

The really reason for the bread was to attract these birds.
This is a Peacock.
 A beautiful pure white one.
And the more traditional ones.
I was told to throw small pieces of bread and call out, "Pretty bird."
It worked like magic. 
These birds were conditioned to follow the bread.
They came to me like I was a Pied Piper.

And then a huge male arrived...

...in all his glory.
He was magnificent!
When I threw some bread at him, he chased the others away and then he gave me a special performance.



I was honored. Not being a peacock... I wondered if this was just for a piece of bread or did he , because this was mating season, look at me as... well, you know.

Later, when I was in my car, changing lenses, he appeared again.
Is this one of the most beautiful birds in existence?
This time he wasn't that interested in me. He had his eye on a female pea hen in the garden.
and off he went to pursue her.
When he came back to the driveway he gave me one more "dance"...

 He "Do see do'ed".
He turned around , spread his feathers and looked at me as if he was the PRINCE of his kingdom.
He surely was. No doubt about it.
Finally, I said goodbye to the donkeys.
 And the beautiful horse.
I got into my car and drove about a mile down the road to a friend's house.
We lived up here for three years before we built our house, down near the river, in Jackson.
(This is part of her backyard with its little Lowe's potting shed in it.) 
She fixed me lunch and we had tea together. We talked about all kinds of things...gardening, quilting, husbands, women stuff... you know... and how the years seemed to go by so fast since we were neighbors.  We talked about the good times and the bad... and "Where did all those years go?"
And then I had to leave.
 I drove home and passed the school, in Pine Grove, where I first got a job, and then drove west, down highway 88, as I had done for so many years.
This is beautiful country up here. We came when we were 50 years old. It was hard to leave the town we raised our boys in and the friends that we knew, but we had a "vision".
 We wanted to live in the "Gold country". 
We wanted property, forty acres with a gold mine (yes, we have one!) and a place where we could find a rivers and creeks to pan for gold, swim in and enjoy "mother nature". 
We wanted peace, clean air and a place for our children and grandchildren to come when the world became too hectic.
We found it.
 We have been here almost eighteen years, now, and a lot has happen. 
We should have built a bigger house but... oh well.
I have few regrets.
I love this place. 
It's my home. 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dick and Jane's farm... A reprive from my felting fiasco

I drove down to the valley for the goat club meeting yesterday.
I love driving through the "flatland" in the Spring. It's very green and most of the roads are long and straight. The wildflowers were starting to bloom which makes the road side look even nicer. This is Sloughhouse Rd. It's a short cut that I always take to avoid heavier traffic on the major roads. It's filled with cows, old houses, farms and horses. If I were to move down from the foothills it would probably be out here somewhere.
The meeting was in Sheldon, a community that is a part of Elk Grove.
Jane's farm is on the main highway through town and she raises Alpine goats. After our potluck-meeting I walked out to visit with some of the residents.
"Hello" I said and one rather important goat walked over to me.
This goat was not about to let a stranger just walk up, lean over the fence and take pictures.
It had that "And just what is it you want, stranger." look on its face.
This look said, "Are you a goat person?"

I assured this goat that I was.
Jane said that they have five does that are almost ready to kid, so they are all a little on edge.
Five of the goats did look a little like they were walking with their back legs further apart than some of the others.
I remember the feeling. That one on the left above made me feel uncomfortable. 
Poor thing. I hope all goes well... and soon. 
It's such a waiting game and you are so ... heavy... unwieldy... off balance and... expectant in those last days.  Oh, yes, how I remember.
Jane will call me when the kidding begins. I will take more photos and have a post about all of the new babies. It will be an overload of cuteness.

"Bye. See you in a few weeks." I said,
"I will be the Farmlady with the camera. Don't forget."
They just looked at me.

Then the pig, named Piggy, came over to say goodbye.
Jane took this pig in as a favor to a friend. I think it's old. 
It's definitely a bit scary. Look at that tusk and those teeth. 
Now that's what I call a "guard dog". 
No respectable coyote would mess with this pig.
Me neither.