Archive for February, 2012

SPA, etc.

February 29, 2012

So, my friend, Vicky, and I got back from SPA on Sunday at 5.  We had planned to go on Friday but bad weather was predicted, so we left on Thursday instead, staying Thursday night in a cheap motel, and moving to the Harraseeket Inn on Friday.  I think I liked the cheap motel better. At least it had hot water in the morning, which the Harraseeket was decidedly lacking in, not only in our room, but several others as well.  I have mixed feelings about SPA in general.  800 women, all over enthusiastic about fiber, so that they want to know if you spun the yarn, knit the sweater, how, when, where the fiber came from, etc.  gets old fast for me.  I understand they are enthused, but it is as if because they are at SPA, they have permission to ask way too many questions about stuff of total strangers.  The people we have sat with for the past two years, friends of Sherry’s, are perfectly nice people, but I don’t feel that I really know them, and I’m not good at casual, meaningless conversation, so I am probably more of a minus than a plus, in terms of their enjoying themselves, with a lump sitting in their midst silently glowering and wondering when she can possibly leave and retire to her room, so as to be relieved of being there and so to relieve them of the lump in their midst.  I’m not into shopping.  I hate outlets and find, in general, that they are filled with stuff they couldn’t sell at regular prices…for no one is going to sell stuff cheaper if they can sell it at regular prices!  The fiber market is filled with beautiful things, but I find it sad that out of all the vendors, perhaps two, maybe three, had New England fiber. The rest were commercial; people didn’t have animals; they imported fiber, probably from other countries, and hand painted them, which is okay, it is one world, after all, BUT I would like to have seen more local fiber.  We did stop at Friends’ Folly Farm on the way home, about 40 minutes north.  Pogo, who does my fiber processing for my jacob fiber, is an amazing person. Her shop is a yurt, which was fascinating, and she showed us around the mill, explaining how each machine worked. I dropped off a lot of fiber to be processed for Sue, and picked up my jacob, absolutely beautifully done. Pogo used to have a vendor space at SPA, selling her incomparable wool and mohair mix, dyed beautiful colors, but for some reason, she wasn’t invited back one year, and so one more local fiber artist is replaced with imported yarn.  It was lovely to see the folks from the Maine Island sheep there with their wool.  And there was a guy with alpaca fiber, which holds no interest for me, but at least it was New England fiber. And one more booth where the woman tending it THOUGHT the fiber was from local sheep, but didn’t know for sure; she was just tending the booth for a friend.  Anyway, Pogo’s was a real treat. So was a side trip out in the country five minutes from Freeport, to a farm shop called “Bessie’ Place” owned by two friends of Pogo’s, whereat I bought quite a few things, locally made or designed.

I’m thinking perhaps next year I’ll skip SPA.  I like having a weekend with no chores to do, no meals to make, able to just sit and knit and spin all weekend, but I’m thinking SPA isn’t doing it for me.  Having to make small talk with strangers I seem to have very little in common with is just too stressful.

It was good to see Vicky and Sherry and so many people enjoying themselves, however, even if it wasn’t my thing.



February 22, 2012

It snowed last night, not a lot, but enough to cover the ground, anyway, so it’s rather beautiful out there this morning. It is supposed to hit 49, so I will have to enjoy it while I can, for, by mid-day, I suspect it will be gone.





A quiet day…

February 18, 2012

Well, I did go to Donald’s yesterday, arriving by 9 a.m. when he was considering what to do with a weak lamb.  My being there made it a bit easier, for it is hard to hold a ewe who doesn’t wish to be held, and graft a lamb onto her teat, when the lamb is weak, hasn’t got a strong sucking instinct and also doesn’t want to be held.  So, I held the mama, and Donald grafted her on, or tried to.  That didn’t work very well, so he milked out mama and then fed baby.  Later, he went to the grain store, bought some pritchard teats, excellent nipples for small lambs, and fed her a couple other times. By this morning she was nursing on her own. Victory!  I forgot my camera.  Not very clever, I know, but I had my spinning wheel, a change of clothes, purse, and a bag of fiber, plus some skeined up yarn and plastic bags to contain skeined up yarn to remember aside from the camera, and the camera just didn’t get remembered.  When I left Donald’s, I went on to Sue’s store, Hodge Podge, in Newport, and sat there visiting and spinning til about 1 p.m., then came home.  I did some baking, made a simple dinner, and then we watched two episodes of Downton Abbey, which we are thoroughly enjoying.

Today, I baked another cake, read some in the Sparrowhawk, Volume II, which I started earlier in the week, and took a nap, an easy day.  Nine eggs today so far!  They are starting to lay again with gusto.  Another sign of spring.  Donald’s lambs were very cute, all four that had been born so far, and it was good to see them.  It was a reminder that I need to give CDT boosters to my ewes sometime very soon.

And next weekend is SPA in Freeport, Maine.  I have some fiber put aside to bring.  I will spend the most of three days spinning and knitting and relaxing with 800 other women who converge on the town, filling all the inns and hotels and motels and b and b’s.  I will not do much shopping.  I’m not a recreational shopper.  Some women go out twice a day and return with bags and bags of “bargains” from LL Bean and other outlet stores.  I really seldom found anything in outlet stores that I’d want.  I’m content to sit and spin or knit.

I’ve finished the body of the Einstein jacket and will start on the sleeves tonight while we watch yet two more episodes of Downton Abbey.  I have a cake to frost, but first need to run around the corner to the Downers’ Corner (not to be confused with Downton!) Store, to get some cream cheese with which to make the frosting.  Or maybe I’ll just use butter and forget the cream cheese!

All in all, it’s been a lazy and restful day.

Ah, the joy…

February 17, 2012

…of not having a sermon or a presentation pending, to just be able to do what I want to do.  I’ve put aside all that stuff about emerging church.  I’ve put aside commentaries.  And now, I am pondering what things I want to do today.

For starters, I have three balls of yarn to skein up.  Then, excitement!, Donald called last night to say his lambs have started popping.  One ritual I follow every year is to go to Donald’s to see the first lambs of the season.  Mine aren’t due for another month or more, so seeing his will spur me on to get the things done I need to get done before lambing.  After tea with Donald, I will head to Sue’s to spin a bit more of the jacob I’m spinning for Mila.  Three skeins finished, three more to go.  Then, stop on the way home at the market to pick up a few things I forgot Tuesday.  Home later this afternoon, after a satisfying day with friends. I will take my camera to snap some photos of Donald’s lambs, so you can all get a quick dose of cute to last you until my lambs show up.

It feels and smells like Spring out there, but not a Vermont Spring, a New Jersey spring.  It’s way too early for Spring to be settling in Vermont.  Still, there is part of me that loves it.  The part of me that doesn’t love it is the part that is involved in allergies!  Wow, they’re awful this year.  I’m supposed to get a respite when all that leaf mold is covered with 2 feet of snow!  Well, there is no snow, so nose run, post nasal dripping, asthmatic coughing…blech!  And the trees haven’t started blooming yet.  It’s going to be a doozy of a Spring allergy season, I’m guessing.  But hey, I”m healthy other than that.  Life is good.  What’s there to complain about? (Knock on wood!)

The “Emerging Church”

February 15, 2012

Okay, tonight I am presenting some information and leading a conversation on the Emerging Church, which seems like a label put on stuff I’ve been doing for years, but hey…I promise after tonight, I’ll move onto some other, less churchy subject, but preparing for this has been taking up every spare minute.  I’ve read articles, watched videos, read books, taken notes, posed questions for tonight, AND made beef stew, for the context of the conversation is a pot luck dinner.  (Biblical characters from Genesis through the letters of Paul really knew that if something important was to be discussed, FEED the participants!)

It is still way too warm for this time of year, which makes the woodstove heat way too much, so I’m spending more time in the back room than the front room where it is.  It’s about 44 right now, instead of the 24 I’d expect for this time of year in this place.  The sheep are managing, for 44 is still cool enough for a nice long wool coat.  The way things work, probably, the day they are shorn it will turn abruptly ice cold and they’ll be very unhappy.

The hens have begun to lay more regularly, so I’m getting about 8 eggs a day.  In another month, it should increase to 12-14 eggs a day.  I hope…

The younger goat has jumped out of their pen twice now, into the sheep yard.  She runs around and then seems to jump right back in.  She has not attempted to jump the higher electric fence.  Good!

I’ve been working on my Einstein jacket, have finished the “skirt”, the back and the right front, am halfway through the left front. THe big question now is whether to make the sleeves the blue of the body or the variegated of the skirt.  Hmm…I have another 20 rows to decide.  I’ll do that later.

Time to go…

Onward and Upward, trudging along…

February 9, 2012

Well, on Sunday, I am taking over for our priest who is going away, or is away…and I have to come up with a sermon that won’t bore peeople! The lesson is particularly difficult in that if researched carefully, shows an angry, indignant Jesus at the idea of healing a leper.  At the leper? At his quiet time interrupted.  Who knows!  In any case it is NOT the sweet, caring Jesus the Church expects us to buy outright.

And I’m trudging along preparing for the “emerging church” conversation on next WEdnesday.  Found a great book by Alan Jones. (whom I love, generally).  However, it started with him self absorbed and making me crazy. Finally, I’m through that to the normally brilliant and introspective Jones I know and love.  I’m learning a lot.  One interesting thing I’m observing is that when Episcopalians (who are Anglicans: read, ideas about religion developed in the fog of London!) talk about emergence, it has to do with bible stories having no fixed meaning, lots of layers and lots of “unknowing”.  When Richard Rohr, who is a Roman CAtholic and someone I admire, talks about emergence, he seems to focus on Jesus’ non-negociables versus the church’s non-negociables. (Rules?, absolutes?  More in the vein of the philosophy within Roman Catholicism…or is that fair?  No idea…still have more to study, but in any case, there probably ought to be balance between rules and no rules.  I had a friend once who called the Episcopal Church, “the great big church with no rules”.  I replied, “But, no, you’re wrong: there is one very big rule: “there are no rules!” I was exaggerating, as was he, but we seem to live in fog and are comfortable there.  Finding absolutes isn’t our gift as Episcopalians.  I find that does exasperate some people. Oh, well…)  Now, I have to read Brian McLaren, and Evangelical non-denominational type, to see what he focuses on.  I think we all seem to identify with some characteristics of this emerging church thing, and avoid others that make us uncomfortable.

Anyway, doing this reading is taking up some of my time, but not all. In the last 3 weeks I’ve spun and plied about 8 pounds of yarn, all skeined up and taken to Hodge Podge to be sold, or to reside til I decide to make something with some of it. I’ve also washed one fleece. One more to go. Then send those two off to be processed.  I’m down to 3 pounds of fleece to spin before March 20th, shearing day.  (MY rule!)

I got an email from a friend in Germany about how cold it is there: basically what it SHOULD be here: lots of snow and temperatures hovering around zero, dipping down or rising up a bt on some days.  We have so little snow cover. I really wonder how this will effect grass, crops, bugs, etc.  People have told me they’ve found flies outside.  And mosquitoes.  And I wonder about ticks?  It has been cold a bit, so hopefully, the lack of snow cover has meant more ticks are killed but then the warmer times might mean they are reproducing more, who knows.

I found some CDT vaccine yesterday at the Tractor Supply. For basics, I will still go to the locally owned grain store, where they know my name and where local economy is supported, but this is something they don’t carry, and since my vet decided there’s more money in being a pet vet, neither does he. To send away for it would cost me twice what I paid for it, since it has to be kept cold, so they send it overnight mail in fancy, insulated cases.  So, I bought it at Tractor Supply.  Other than that, there wasn’t all that much in this new addition to Claremont’s skyline that impressed me.

Not much else going on…while John is at choir this evening, I’ll continue with my “McLeod’s Daughters” DVD’s, though in reading through synopses online, I came across one that spoke of Claire, the main character, dying.  WHAT!???And they carry on for 3 more seasons after that.  I think I’m feeling very betrayed by their killing her off, despite my rational self saying she probably asked to leave and that was how they wrote her out.  I’m thinking I’m not going to watch any after that episode…if I make it that far.  Silly to get so involved in a series like that, but she’s a shepherd, a spunky woman, and one I identify with to some extent.  Meanwhile, together we’ve been watching “To Serve Them All our DAys” about a Welsh soldier who is mustered out and goes to work at a posh British school.  It’s been intense at times, but very well done.  One more DVD to go.  AND, my “Downton Abbey” series 2 arrived yesterday.  They say “delayed gratification” is a sign of adulthood. I’m trying to wait until we finish this other series, but it isn’t easy. I want to tear it open and go watch the whole thing in one felled swoop.  Not smart…though I would get lots of knitting done.

Have a great day.  I’ve noticed they are increasing in hours of sunlight, which is cheering and a sign that spring, shearing, and lambing is right around the corner. Better get to giving those ewes and does their CDT shots soon!

Slow winter; obsessing on religion…

February 3, 2012

Okay, that’s your warning!  Skip the rest if you don’t want to hear me ranting and raving about religion.

I agreed to lead a conversation about the “emerging church” in two weeks, so, since I know little or nothing about the thing, I need to be researching…and I have been. It is interesting.  The emerging church movement is apparently hard to define, in that it is a reformation of sorts that is happening across the board in all denominations, not from the top down, but in small ways in congregations, from the bottom up.  It’s the realization that somehow Christianity got on the wrong track.  Apparently, now scholars and just plain folks are getting together across denominational lines to take another look at who Jesus is, and what they’re coming up with is not stuff that has been at the forefront of most congregational agendas.  It’s been there, given lip service and a little bit of action, but it isn’t the guiding force behind the existence of the community…that is, inclusivity, feeding the hungry, welcoming the outcast, social justice…that kind of thing.  Instead of serving the members of the club, which is, sometimes, crassly put, what goes on in churches, the whole point of the church should be to alleviate suffering, to love as God loves, or try to come somewhat close to it, however much we fail, anyway.  One example in one book was a guy’s story about visiting a church to speak with them about something.  He showed up at the time ofthe weekday eucharist, which was advertised as being there for the whole community, to welcome people into the church, but the front door was locked. He went around back, found the back door open, and said, “UH?” to a member, who said, “Oh, well, we all know to use the back door.”  And how does that welcome strangers?  What is the message sent?

It appears this movement has been going on for several decades as people question their faith and how it is lived out in churches, and have left churches because there’s a disconnect between what the churches say they believe and what is actually going on in the church.  Makes sense to me.  Now, there are authors, church leaders, and scholars who have named this movement the “emerging church” and are exploring it and celebrating it.  The idea is not to form new denominations, but to re-examine where a particular congregation IS in terms of Jesus’ teachings, prayer, outreach, authentic community…and with one foot in the tradition of that church, and one firmly set on new ground, to find ways to re-form the church to be the CHURCH, the community of followers of Jesus’ teachings.  There is less emphasis on the cross, more emphasis on the incarnation: if God became human, being human can’t be all that bad.  The movement is non-judgemental, is more both/and instead of either/or, sees all religious endeavors as having good in them and possibilities in them, doesn’t define itself in negatives or defensive “we don’t do that” kind of statements, but rather positive statements about themselves.  I’ve just ordered two new books, one by Episcopal priest, Alan Jones, whose stuff I have admired over the years, the other by Richard Rohr, RC priest/Franciscan whom I’ve also admired.  There is also a book by one Brian McLaren, an evangelical minister, that I want to read as well. And I’ve googled “emerging church” and found a wealth of information on line, including some condemnatory articles written by apparently terrified fundamentalists, afraid of this new stuff and what it will do to their pure churches.  Interestingly, I found one site which had a , “READ this stuff, and see the horrors they’re encouraging…” sort of attitude.  I read their list of supposedly dastardly quotes and fell more and more in love with the ’emerging church’!!! It backfired!  I so want to tell them that!  So, now I’m reading the stuff they’ve quoted from as being horrible and loving it.

The real question, of course, is how can I get this boiled down to a 10 minute presentation which is catalytic and ends with one or two pithy questions to get the folks who come excited about the subject, pro or con, so we can have an interesting evening batting around possibilities and seeing what, if anything, in the mix, is helpful to the growth of our church and the people in it.  Part of the trick, of course, is to get a significant number of people to come, which means pithy announcements for two weeks which will intrigue them.   We shall see.

Meanwhile, on the farm, things are just kind of on hold, as the ewes and Hazel Goatie girl get ever wider and the new hens begin laying with more frequency. I’m up to about 5 eggs a day, but would have thought by now I’d be up to 8 or 9 a day, given the number of hens out there.  I do have to put some vaseline on my big ol’ roo, who has leg issues, mites which need to be smothered.  Other than that, all seem healthy.  With so little snow cover and melting temps regularly, however, my sinuses and allergies (and those of everyone I’ve spoken with) are acting up…leaf mold and such, I assume.  Not fun waking up every morning all “glommy” in the nose and then, as it drains, all coughy.  Luckily, it only lasts a short time and then all is well during the day.  Still, I hate it.

I’m off to a funeral later today.  The husband of a sheep friend had cancer on his tongue, which spread into his throat and mouth very rapidly and, unresponsive to the chemo, unable to be totally cut out, George very quickly got weaker and died. It’s been a hard few months for Cindy and the kids, but George is no longer in pain, didn’t linger in pain, and that’s something to be thankful for.  Now I have to go make some pies for a dinner tomorrow evening in his honor.

Hope your day is as sunny as the sky appears this morning…