Monday, November 30, 2015

Folks Taking to Felting

When I started my volunteer gig as a fiber arts teacher at Hartford's Chrysalis Center,,  I had only vague ideas of what kinds of projects would interest the people there.  I started out with potholders (a sewing project) and pincushions (a felting and sewing project).  Folks took to felting.  And we were off.

Here's Nina, so happy with her felted piece from last week that she showed up this week eager to work on a second one.  That's TJ at the table with her, working on his first-ever felting project.   In the background, in the blue shirt, is Steve Projansky, my staff contact at Chrysalis, who at my request purchased an assortment of merino fibers and felting needles for the group.

Look at this yummy assortment of merino roving.  This is one aspect of the allure of felting.

Steve got it for the group from New England Felting Supply

 Below, Vivian, Sierra, and Andrew.  Vivian is hand-sewing a leaf applique to a quilt square, another potential project I brought with me today.  Sierra is felting and Andrew is signing his felted landscape.
Andrew has really taken to this medium.  He made several pieces this week.

Below, Lisa is holding another one.  On the left in that photo is Carolyn Cook, the lady who recruited me to this gig:

Sierra made the one below.

Gregory was going to give his felted project to his little girl:

Kenny, below, was planning to give this bear, Patches, to his granddaughter.

Kenny was so happy with Patches.  It's been wonderful seeing peoples' enjoyment of fiber arts, this most tactile and warm-and-fuzzy medium.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sisters, Daughters, and Repairing the Ragged Places

I'm missing my sister Jerol this Thanksgiving.  Just over a year ago, in mid-November 2014, she fell and hit her head, sustaining serious injuries and eventually dying about two months later as a result.

I miss her for so many reasons.   She and her husband Larry were always there when I needed them.  Like here, December 2012, helping me hang a show at the Farmington Public Library.

And besides that, Jerol was my home dec guru, and not only did she help me paint my dining room and bedroom, she also helped me paint and stencil a beguiling leaf and vine pattern on my stairs.  Then, when the leaf and vine pattern chipped, as it inevitably would, she coached me on mending it.

So  I know how to mend those raggedy places, but of course my efforts would never be official until I had her approval. Now, she's gone.  But the lovely vine and leaf pattern is chipped.

Repairing the stairs is fraught for me now, without Jerol's oversight and approval.

I so miss her.

But it's Thanksgiving, and guests are coming, and the raggedy chipped stairs are not aesthetically pleasing, and they had to be mended. 

It's sad, using these materials without Jerol.  These are the same ones we used when we originally painted the steps, and I can't believe I still have them, each and every one.

And it's not just the steps that need fixing.  It's the raggedy places on the dining room wall that Jerol originally helped me to paint a lovely Benjamin Moore color called Sea Star.  Because my work is constantly being switched on and off the wall,  there were places where the plaster was marred by nails.  Jerol told me how to fix those places and made me see that they weren't a big deal. 

I bought the paint and spackle months ago, when Jerol was still on earth.  I wanted her to coach me as I repaired the wall, but it was not to be.

I decided to start on the steps, so I gritted my teeth and sat down to fix them.

Meanwhile, my daughter Leah, home for the holiday, volunteered to make the apple cranberry crisp for Thanksgiving dinner, so that I could take the time to do what I had to do on the steps and the wall.

But guess what?  Leah had an abrasion injury on the palm of her hand, caused by--get this--doing pullups at CrossFit.  When she used the knife to cut apples, it hurt her hand.

So we switched jobs.  Leah sanded the steps and applied two coats of a taupe color called Ashley Gray.

When it was dry, she took a fine paintbrush and repaired the leaves.

She's the only righty among my children.  Julia and Lucia, her older and younger sisters, are both lefties like me.

Then, God bless her, she got up on the ladder and spackled the dining room wall and painted it with Sea Star.  I felt so blessed that there was someone there to do that sad job for me.

Meanwhile, I made the cranberry apple crisp for Thanksgiving dinner,

Not only that, but she helped me add new photos to the slideshow on this blog.  Unsuccessfully, as it turns out, but she spent hours on it.  Meanwhile, she spent a certain amount of time on the phone, both for work and with her partner Lindsey.  She was heard to utter the phrase "power lesbians."

I do miss Jerol so much, but I'm so glad I have Leah to help me smooth over the ragged places.

And I have to admit, I have taken advantage of Jerol's absence to shake up the Thanksgiving menu.  Jerol always insisted on certain dishes, like our Grandmother's French-Canadian stuffing, rich with salt pork and the alluring flavor of whole allspice.  She also insisted on nectar mince pie for dessert.

But the old fashioned turkey dinner had its inconveniences, such as the last half hour, when turkey was being sliced, gravy was being made, and fresh green vegetables were being steamed...while the hungry rest of the family sat at the table and asked what was taking so long.

This year, no last-minute food except the mashed potatoes and the steamed asparagus.  Everything else is made ahead and if necessary heated up before serving.

Smoked Salmon
Smoked Turkey Breast 
Caramelized Butternut Squash with Sherry, Maple and Bleu Cheese
Shaved Butternut Squash with Craisins
Nutted Wild Rice 
Steamed Asparagus
Cranberry Orange Dressing
Apple Cranberry Crisp

Jerol might not like it.  But she's not here to complain about  it.