Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I was first introduced to the Art of Spinning in Scotland. Staying with an amazing couple in Penicuik, they introduced me to a family friend that spun so much wool that the shelf lining the entire living room was full of spindles of beautifully spun fiber. literally hundreds of spindles. Over the course of an afternoon I got the crash course on how to prep the fiber;  washing, picking, carding and drafting. And then came the best part, the spinning. She loaned me a hand spindle "to learn on" while I stayed in Penicuik. Well....I learned that the art of spinning is quite a challenging one. And at the end of my day, 11pm would find me standing as high as I could possibly get on a chair or table or bed, the higher I could get, the less I had to stop my handspindle; I could let the yarn keep growing and growing. BUT I learned that it sure is disappointing when your yarn busts off at the mid-section  and then all the rest of it uncoils itself. Yes it is truly an art. So in leaving Scotland, I took something like 40 feet of yarn with me, only that forty feet took me almost a week to produce.

I really think that sometimes in life you're just supposed to learn things. And life will just keep pitching those opportunities at you until either A.) you accept or B.) you throw your arms up in the air and run like a bat out of hell. So a year later found me living at the the end of the road, deep in the heart of the Chugach Mountains. A winter care taker at the Eagle River Nature Center. Alaska is different in the winter. It is not like the summer where every place you look there are visitors. No, the people that survive the winter really want to be there, especially those that are willing to make the drive back into the valley in the depths of January. we would get the fire started early. At 10am they would come, a guild  of lovely ladies (and sometimes a fella or two) to spin wool. Bags of fiber in tow they would daintily position their wheels in a semi-circle around the fire.  For two hours, their hands would pull and turn. They welcomed me into their circle and taught me the beginning ropes to the wheel. Now I thought my hand spindle was impressive, but damn if the wheel didn't spin out yarn 50 times faster than my own hands could do it. And so it went, one weekend every month they came and each time I would learn something new.  "Someday" I told myself.

I got a phone call from my mom about 2 weeks ago. She had returned from an amazing trip into the mountains of Colorado. "I got you the best gift ever" but she wouldn't tell me. She left me hanging, I'd just have to see it the next time I came through Colorado. And circumstances played out, Colorado came sooner rather than later and I found myself there this last weekend. I walked into my old room and what sat in the corner? Well a spinning wheel of course. An antique wheel that fits me just perfectly. It's going to require a little doctors visit (I think there has got to be spinning wheel doctors, right?) I'm in love. another hobby. the going joke around these parts is that I need a "dork shed." Yes it is going to contain all my strange hobbies- growing mushrooms, microscopes, my baking experiments........ and now the spinning wheel. I think the dork shed is just going to have to be a yurt.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In Passing

When your footsteps walk a path day in and day out, changing that path can be the most challenging of times. We are learning this. The learning process is hard. But, I think in passing we are also learning what it means to lean on others especially when your legs don't quite feel as sturdy as they always have. We are learning the importance of stories; and the importance of listening.  Who ever claimed that "laughter is sometimes the best medicine" really was onto something. Still, I think it is also important to remember that medicine also comes in the form of letting your eyes rain, especially when you can let them rain with others. Nothing would grow if it never rained. And with the close of a day brings the changing of seasons, and of chapters, and of times. You never know what you'll find when you leave the beaten path.                                           

Monday, October 10, 2011


Four years ago found me deep in the Sierra foothills of  California, not far from Murphys. Here I believe fostered my appreciation for wines. Murphys is a quaint town which offers some of the most amazing small scale vineyards, shops and beautiful surroundings. It was here that I discovered my liking for port, and have not since discovered one I like as fondly as the small lots produced by Zucca Mountain Vineyards. But now, as life has moved further north, my palate has shifted to pinots, and rightly so as it is the heart of the Willamette Valley. A whole new perspective has been blessed upon my dinner table, a diversity in a single varietal that I never could have wrapped my mind around any other way than living in just this place. This past weekend, in fine celebration of M's engagement, we brushed the surface of the local wineries, a craftily chosen five of over 400 located here in this region. A favorite of the bunch, Brooks, which bestowed upon us a private tasting, an amazing host and a flight of wines that would please any connoisseur. A Lovely way to celebrate, enjoy and experience....