Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Magic Mega Blanket!

 One large idea........three very full bags of balled wool, MacAusland's, Briggs & Little and who knows what else.
Point of order shall prevail, other than.....this is a double woven blanket, ie...width on loom is 44" and when done it can be opened up to cover twice that, or a little less after fulling. And so the balls were lined up like colourful beads on the floor and the trapeze was engaged for the 4 meters of rainbow dreams.

The waterfilled bottles were hung for tension and the warp wound on, centimeter by centimeter, or yard by yard, meter by meter, layers of bristolboard placed strategically so no warp collapse would take place. Many times during the setup Virve (the most dedicated student) said - oh, this is taking a long time - and it did - for weaving takes time when you have to work your way through the planning, setup and execution of preliminaries....nothing takes just two mins.
Then the weaving began, randomly picking colours out of one bag.

 Once a spool was made, this colour was put aside so as not to be used in the weft again until all the initial colours used in the warp had been randomly woven into the blanket - the warp stripes were 1", 2" and 3" wide and the weft stripes were wider or narrower as Virve pleased. And she played, wondered and smiled bobbing along on the rainbow of colourful intersections she created throwing the shuttle, watching the weft move along from side to side, visible magic in the top layer, hidden wonders in the bottom layer.

And then the end was near.
It took  longer to create this piece than we had expected. I hadn't really thought about a time frame in depth, but knew as the setup progressed would not be done in two hours! We added a couple of extra weaving days on our first time estimation and I had the privilege of weaving along on one of the other looms in the studio as Virve worked her way one pick at a time. Great was her joy when the last piece of bristol board fell away and we could see the loops at the end of the warp.

It was time to roll off the whole beautiful exciting piece......3 meters and 10 centimeters is what it measured right off the loom......and in a double weave that equals the number of picks you would have put into more than 6 meters of cloth woven in a 44" width!
On top of that I have to congratulate Virve....she had only one thread where the bottom had tangled into the top layer......she looked pleased and I was impressed with her stamina and determination.

And here it is...full width, the one glitch cut loose so the blanket could be opened up, all fringes and other tidbits got to be fixed in front of the Olympics.......and as it is, on cold days all 5 members of Virve's  family fits under the blanket on the couch........not to mention that she has found vibrant combinations in the blanket that she really loves and thus she can use this for a  colour sampler for future projects......Congratulations Virve on a wonderful piece of weaving!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kale Princes and Princesses

 The day came when in my bag of unsprayed kale from a local green house I found one leaf completely covered in aphids! How joyful a moment that was..... as you perhaps saw in previous posts I had been wondering what to feed those no-longer-hibernating-in-the-wall-cracks energetic ladybugs that helped me cook every day......

One leaf full of goodness...... and not one little red black spotted bug in sight...solution was to return the leaf to the fridge and hope that the aphids would stay as fresh as the leaf in those cool conditions.

Preparing breakfast and looking out the window to the bird feeders I realized that there were 3 of my spotted guests wandering around on each their window pane.

I scooped them up, gently, gently and ..... produced the leaf from the fridge..... aphids were still intact....... but not for long........the ferocious aphid fighters went to work immediately and by evening the aphids were gone and the leaf had shrivelled up, the red coated workers had gone to rest in some obscure corner and I have been looking for aphids ever since, but have been plain out of luck!

So for the occasional ladybug I once again produce a piece of pepper, red or yellow or orange, strictly vegetarian for the next little while

Back to the loom, where there are still Andean Stars and slow moving leather back turtles in the warp - such a pleasure.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

guineapigs and llama meals/orno!

I am still weaving, mostly on my big looms but in my head and heart I am also practicing the weaving skills I learned in Calca. Soon two years will have passed since I spent 10 weeks in Peru studying and learning with the kind and knowledgeable people at Apulaya. These photos are from a meal we had just a few days before my stay was over.

The food is going into the 'orno', an outdoor clay oven which is filled with wood and left to burn until there are only large embers left.
Then the potatoes that grew behind the studio
and the sweet potatoes from the market (i think) went into the orno and the front opening and the side air hole was closed off with rocks and clay. The two roasting pans shared space with ...........
The guinea pigs which had been butchered and prepared that same morning,
The salad which came from the garden, with a fresh green taste and a smooth vinaigrette.
And finally my plate.... I did not get a full guineapig, but about half of one on my plate. It tasted deliciously - the 6 year old daughter of the house finished her guinea pig off in minutes and was she ever happy and hungry! I had seconds and ....... as it is I am looking forward to going back to Peru in the fall, again to spend time at Apulaya, and will bring my spouse this time.... he won't be weaving but I will, and he will be learning language (quechua with me) and looking at agricultural practices, music and enveloping himself in this new to us culture of food, language, laughter and people.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Visitors

It is Winter still and in an old house there are lots of nooks and crannies for small beings to hide out. These past few weeks I have never been all alone when cooking at any time, day or night.
I figured if I wanted to keep the company happy I had better put something nutritious on the table - the stub of a cauliflower was my choice and I even added a drop of honey and a drop of water
And there they sat..... content (I think) or confused......they would fly off and come back later
Sharing a meal or a snack is also not out of the way for a ladybug, these two quite enjoyed a piece of orange pepper

And then there is the clean up mode... did you know that a Ladybug washes her face just like a fly, a squirrel or a little mouse, one foot flies up over the face and touches the whole surface, this was one busy cleaning creature for a while. 
And finally..... another yoga position, one hind leg sliding out under the other.... is this perhaps some version of pigeon?  I do love creatures, big and small and it is wondrous to get to take the time to observe.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Winter visitor

When cooler weather prevails creatures hide in the wood stack and get carried inside the house by the wood stove fodder we bring by the armloads or they come in on the dog when she has been out rolling and frolicking - sometime before Christmas this little dude met me in the middle of the kitchen floor and we had our first conversation, which..... caused the bear to curl up on itself and pretend to not be present.

I could not feed my new friend to the chickens and I didn't want to just dump it, after all, it was almost Christmas and so I found a little plastic container to slip the lovely one into. I added some lettuce and some cabbage, some of it slightly damp.

I have to admit that I did not yet notice signs that there was a lot of eating going on and this morning I looked at my guest and thought for sure that it was the end of the line for this little guy. However, I was wrong. As soon as I brought the container into a slightly warmer part of the house movement was seen. Slow movement and enough movement that I thought I had better dry the little one off, I think in my un-wisdom a few days earlier I had plopped a few wet lettuce leaves into the bowl and ..... now my friend was wearing a rather wet furcoat, at least on one side.

So the creature was moved around gently on the toilet paper and in just a few mins there were wet spots where the dampness had been sucked out of the furcoat. I felt quite relieved. Since movement was not at any time going along with that rapid eagerness these littly wooly bears show on the hot asphalt in the summer I also had some fun foto opportunities - those little legs, such stout limbs for fast forward when the weather is warm and the world is easy to explore.
One final photo - looking at it and hearing my yoga teacher's voice, now engage your belly muscles and lift your head and your shoulders of the floor, keep your legs straight,  do you feel it, if you need to hold your head up gently with one of your hands..... ha, I had had the most wonderful yoga lesson just 30 mins before all these events of resurrection and joy took place!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Friendy Raven

I have not worked here on my blog for a very long time...... there is no real explanation, I got caught up in a (time) warp of some kind.....however, as I pondered what I did last on the blog I found this..... enjoy, and happy New Year 2014 to one and all!

We live in a rural yet quite populated area, new houses are shooting up everywhere.  Putting pressure on wild life of all kinds - and also putting them closer to us for a little further observation. As a kid in another country seeing a raven was a rare and special thing - also probably because I grew up in Copenhagen,  a big city perhaps not as desirable a territory for ravens.

Raven enjoying a smoked eel head!

Here in the boonies on the funny farm one of the nicest signs/sounds of spring are the ravens starting to cluck and do their spring songs - we do of course see them during the winter months too but not as often. The top of the barn has an excellent spot with a view to the compost bins and so sometimes allows me to enjoy the experience of one of the ravens, as he /she waits for me to fill the compost bin with delicacies.

Recently I found smoked eel at the Wolfville Farmers' Market, the fish man (Eric Publicover and his wife Sandra) along side with some smoked salmon and lots of fresh haddock, rainbow trouth and other such delicacies on that day also had brought ... a few packages of smoked eel from this Nova Scotian Company, Willy Krauch.
And so for a few days Søren and I enjoyed a special treat which was part of our child hoods but is now rarely ingested. 

The raven seemed very happy with the scraps and leftovers from our treat and spent some good times in the compost balancing and snacking before ..... I got too close with the camera and ....

 It was necessary to spread the wings and take off. My job is to work on getting faster with the camera - the only way to ensure that I do not end up with eerie half photos of flying raven's wings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My first visit to an SOS children's village

One of the first days in Peru the friend I was traveling with was going to visit her 'daughter' at an SOS Children's Village  My friend and her family supports several kids through different organizations here in Peru. I asked if I might join her to visit with the family her 'daughter' lives with.

My interest in going along for this family visit stems from the fact that since I was myself in my late teens I have always supported a kid somewhere in the world - India, Rwanda, Tanzania and at the moment a child in Bolivia.

For the first child I was active and wrote letters and noted birthdays etc. When this girl graduated and got a scholarship to go to university we no longer kept in touch. I was given a chance to support another child and I did, and so once one little person moved out of the system I welcomed the next. I am not very active any longer on the correspondence side other than in always making sure the monthly payments are done.

However the visit at the SOS village in Peru has given me some food for thought.

The village is in the middle of a very urban area - and there is a 'cluster' of houses all belonging to different families of the SOS organization.

The family I had the good fortune to visit consisted of 9 children from around 10 to 21 - the 21 year old has chosen to stay on with the family whilst she finishes her university studies.

In this particular house two of the kids were blood siblings  .....  often though  'family' does not mean there are blood relations,  it means that the children and young people live together as a family would, sharing house, cleaning, shopping, cooking, fun and tears, they become each others sisters and brothers. They create their own family. There is a designated paid housemother - as I understood it in this case the housemother has been with the kids for many many years - watched them all grow up and is guiding and helping them along within a system which can be pretty rough on children if there are no family members to look after them or if their original family is so poverty stricken that they have given up hope looking after the child.

My friend goes to visit this family every time she travels in the area - they all know her well - and she knows them well. There is a lovely connection between them all. The connection that helps a child remember that someone outside or far away cares about..... his/her well-being, the efforts to do the best he/she can in school, in life in general - through a foster parent plan a child or young person does feel their worth and they are given hope that they will themselves be able to move on and up and become the best person they can hope to be!

I had not thought that deeply about why and how and what the real impact would be - really, it is often hard to know and understand things and events fully until one has seen with ones own eyes or felt it on ones own body the true colour of the situation. There are always sponsorship drives going on from many different aid groups. The children I have sponsored over the years have been through Christian Children's Fund - the reason for this being that at the time I sponsored my first kid this to my knowledge was the only sponsor organization available in Denmark.

I have continued on with this Fund. Must say though that I do question the need to mix religion into bringing up children of other cultures - should I choose today I would choose a non-denominational organization like for instance SOS Children's villages - or another organization Foster Parents Plan. I am sure there are many others out there. The fact is that an amount of $50 or less a month is enough to get a kid to school, to provide food and clothes. In many cases there is money for the rest of his/her family as well for improved living conditions, more animals for better nutrition etc. It takes so little and I highly recommend it. In some cases one can even go visit with the kid(s) like we had the chance to do. It is a learning experience.

I have not put up any photos of the village and the children for privacy reasons - only the sheep which were part of a small flock which this family of children and young adults had to look after -  for food and wool - there was a vegetable garden, and hens for eggs and roosters for soup (I am sure) shared fruit trees of different kinds. For the kids who  enjoy sports there was a nice paved sports field and there was a community house close by for bigger mixed family gatherings. Truly an impressive spot. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to go and visit and talk and laugh and discover the happy family feel that was very evident within this group of children and their caretaker.