I think I’ll journey out some day to wondrous lands afar,
Or even chart a journey to a distant blazing star.
But rest assured that when my journey begs to take its cue,
Always know that when I go, this journey takes you too...
And in the winding route, this journey's bound to bide content,
But most of all take heed - let's make our journey life's event.

from JOURNEY TO BE, by Mark Slaughter

Monday, August 9, 2010

Little Blessings

It has been an interesting two days, basically in the form of a sewing marathon! A friend's cousin asked me to make a purse for her. Seemingly simple, it turned out to be very complicated, but very special! She had recently lost her husband and had saved his favorite jeans and button down shirt for a potential project. Although she sews, she didn't feel she could manage to make her vision become reality. So she asked me. I found a wonderful free pattern for a stylish hobo bag, and we got together yesterday morning to talk about what she envisioned and what I thought I would be able to incorporate from the jeans into the purse. After a field trip to the fabric store for notions, thread, and heavy-duty needles, she went home and I embarked upon what turned out to be a 9 hour creative adventure. I had to deconstruct the jeans and the shirt and turn them into bag parts. The front and back of the bag had to be pieced in 3 parts from the leg fabric, which really turned out to look nice and jeans-ey after I top-stitched them in gold jeans thread.

Here's a breakdown of what all the parts became in the bag:

leg fabric - body of the bag
belt loops - stitched 3 together to make loop closure
frayed bottom 8"of one leg turned upside down - inside pocket the width of the bag
back pocket with Levi's tag - front outside pocket of bag
other back pocket lined with shirt fabric - eyeglass case
small key pocket from right front pocket of jeans - attached to inside pocket for small change
waistband with button and buttonhole - shoulder strap
shirt - bag lining, zippered inner pocket, and scarf bow

 And here's the finished product:

Eyeglass Case
Zippered pocket in lining
Upside down leg hem pocket with small key pocket attached to other side of lining. Isn't the shirt fabric fun?
Completed bag (the Levi's tag on the pocket is hiding under the bow)

It was, to me, a labor of love for my friend's cousin. As I created it, I hoped it would bring her joy and comfort, and perhaps ease some of the loneliness I know she has been feeling. I took it to her home this morning, and judging from her reaction, I knew it was going to contribute to her healing in a special way. Grateful for all the blessings in my life, I feel like I was truly fortunate to be able to do this for her.

So when you reflect on your blessings, do something to bless someone else. You never know how positive an impact you might make on them for even just that moment!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

I love roses...obviously! I usually can't grow them successfully, but I do have three ever-increasing climbing rose bushes in my backyard. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that, sadly, they only bloom in June, and then they are done for the season.

One of the highlights of my trip to Portland, Oregon this July was a visit to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. Spread over four acres of land, the seemingly never-ending beauty of hundreds of varieties of rose bushes, paired with the perfumed fragrance in the air, makes for a delightful treat for the senses. One can spend hours there, wandering peacefully through the rows of proud blossoms.

Aren't they gorgeous? I don't know the varieties, unfortunately, but the view of the acres of roses was spectacular. I can't wait to browse the garden again next summer...this time with pen and notebook in hand to write down the varieties!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sheepy Fun and Llama Kisses

There is a lovely sheep farm in Estacada, Oregon called Cedar Haven Farm. It is the home to about 30 sheep, a delightful llama, peacocks, hens and roosters, and a variety of cats, including two gorgeous Maine Coons. While I was in Portland this summer, I was interested in purchasing some Shetland fiber for spinning on my spinning wheel to incorporate into a geometric knitted design technique, called Fair Isle, for a handspun, handknitted cardigan for me.

Cardigan for teaching colleague's little boy...the geometric pattern is the Fair Isle technique.
It was just my luck that the owners had some beautiful natural caramel-tan Shetland lambswool spinning fiber from a sweet sheep named Dove, and a lovely silvery gray Shetland wool from another sweetie named Dahlia. I plan to use the tan lambswool with a dark brown handspun alpaca yarn, from an alpaca in Ohio named Olivia, and a white handspun Corriedale from  a sheep named Theo at Homestead Wool and Gift Farm, a rescue farm in Munroe,Wisconsin.
Dove (brown face) and Dahlia

Olivia the alpaca (and her new baby)

Spinning fiber and my handspun yarn from Theo
It was such fun to visit Cedar Haven Farm, and probably one of the most memorable experiences was being sniffed by Haley, the llama guardian of the sheep. She would practically rub her soft furry muzzle on my face, sniffing gently out of curiosity to see who this intruder might be. The other memorable experience was the opportunity to hear the owner of the farm, Lynne, play her harp for us. Such a beautiful, haunting melody and a truly special experience.

Haley the llama

Spinning is an earthy pleasure for me, the ultimate in relaxation (other than a massage!). It is very soothing, and I become one with the rhythm of the treadling of the wheel, the whir of the flyer, and the feel of the fiber twisting between my fingers. Stress drops away for a while, and I end up with a beautiful, one of a kind yarn with which to knit something lovely or gift to my knitting friends. I love to spin on my Ashford Traditional, Rosie. For those of you who know spinning wheels, she is pictured here without the flyer since she had just been transported back from my mom's house. Mom had painted the beautiful roses on Rosie and I still needed to let them dry.


Science Rocks!

Thanks to the talent of our technology team, I learned how to create a web site last school year. I was pretty proud of it, and it was fun to find Earth pictures that corresponded with my lab activities. If you want to take a look, then click here to go to my Science Website. Enjoy!

Summer Musings

Summer vacation! How I always loved it as a kid, even though being in school was usually not unpleasant for me. I still love it, and I am blessed that it is a perk of my chosen career as a middle school teacher. It was wonderful to be able to spend the summer with my kids when they were very young, since they were in day care before they started school. Even after they started school, it was such fun to be able to hang out with them during the summer. Their grandparents lived behind Geauga Lake and Sea World, just 20 minutes from us, and they would receive complimentary passes every year for about 5 years due to the inconvenience of the noise and increased traffic of the parks. They would generously bestow the passes on us, and we would take short trips to both parks often. I always had to ride the roller coasters in the front seat with my son with my eyes squeezed tightly shut and a white-knuckled grip on the handlebars! Once, we went on a ride that he assured me did not go upside down. HAH! I quickly learned not to trust his perception of  rides! His maniacal laughter as I was screaming and hanging upside down in this car-thing let me know he had planned to fool me, not maliciously, but in his own rascally way!

Now that my kids are adults and on their own, I fill my summer days with knitting, crocheting, spinning, gardening, sewing, and traveling. With a daughter and new son-in-law in San Antonio, I travel to Texas at least three times a year. I LOVE getting off the plane in 75 degree weather in December when I have left 25 degrees and 2 feet of snow behind.  Having dinner on a balmy evening at an outdoor table next to the colorfully lit Riverwalk at Christmas was truly a treat! The Riverwalk is also lined with softly glowing luminaries during the holiday season.
Holiday lights on the Riverwalk
This June, San Antonio was really hot, but it was a dry heat without the exhausting humidity at home. It felt great after the cold, rainy spring we experienced in Northeastern Ohio! This June marked my 7th  trip to San Antonio in 2 1/2 years, and I finally got up the nerve to take my daughter to work in order to use her car and actually DRIVE alone in that crazy traffic. I thought Akron traffic was bad!

For a change in scenery, I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Portland, Oregon in mid July. Such amazing geography there is in the Pacific Northwest! We went to the Pacific coast, to Mount Hood, and up to Astoria. Astoria is the northwestern-most point in Oregon, where you can see the meeting of the Pacific Ocean and the mighty Columbia River. If you turn around from that scene, you view the Cascade Range with its snow-capped mountain peaks spreading out along the whole horizon. It is a breathtaking sight! Astoria is also the location for the filming of many movies, such as Goonies and Kindergarten Cop, which I didn't know until this visit.

Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean - Washington is on the other side of the bridge.

One of the highlights of Astoria is the observation tower called the Astoria Column, which shows a pictoral timeline of the history of Astoria from the arrival of the Clatsop Indians, through the explorations by Lewis and Clark, finishing with the arrival of the pioneers. One can climb the 164 spiraling steps inside the column to reach the observation deck at the top. Well, YOU can! I only made it up 36 steps before I froze and had to go back down...the risers on the steps were open and I could see to the bottom of the column as I got higher. I have a problem with heights, and I REALLY thought I could climb that tower since the steps were enclosed in the interior of the column. No such luck! Even if I had made it to the top, I would have had to plaster myself against the wall of the observation deck. I was even shaking while taking the picture of my sister and brother-in-law waving from the deck, and I was standing with my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Astoria Column

Another highlight of the trip was seeing Mt. Hood from different perspectives. The majestic 11,250 foot mountain can be seen from the top of my sister's street, and it is a breathtaking sight especially during a beautiful sunset! We drove an hour and a half to set foot at the timberline (6000 feet above sea level) of the snowy towering peak. What an incredible sight!

Mt. Hood from my sister's street at sunset

Upper 5200 feet of Mt. Hood from the timberline

They were great trips, and I plan to return to San Antonio and Oregon next summer for another visit! Now summer vacation is drawing to a close, and I am eagerly anticipating the start of a new school year.