We had a great Salt Bay Treadler’s holiday party yesterday in Brunswick. Chris provided an amazing spread of food which was augmented by all the we brought, and then we did a lot of spinning, knitting and crocheting all afternoon while a very soft snow was falling outside. It was perfect and wonderful!
The tradition at this party is to wrap a gift and then while music plays we pass the gifts around and when Chris’ Santa hat stops singing, whichever gift we have in our hands is ours. I prefer this to the usual Yankee swap, and we each opened our gift one at a time so we could all enjoy it. It was lovely! I am hoping that Christine of Maine Fiber Arts enjoys the cowl I spun, knit and adorned with buttons! She got it! And I got a beautiful pair of crocheted fingerless mitts and a bottle of red wine from Crystal the massage therapist! Lovely all around. It was a memorable day and I hope that we can manage it every year!
(The cowl pattern I found as a free download on Ravelry. The pattern is by Verbascum and it’s called the Button Row Cowl)
Most of us grew up in a household that had a button box or bag. We had a very large, old tin filled to overload proportions. When I was in first grade my grandfather, a tailor, taught me how to sew buttons onto fabric. He was recuperating from cataract surgeries at our house, and we used to sit in the sunroom and sew. I had all different kinds of fabric scraps, and after he taught me how to do a running stitch and hem the material, he taught me how to get buttons on. I happily sewed buttons onto fabric in all different designs, and then just as happily cut them off and did it all over again. I was a very bad asthmatic as a child and I was used to doing quiet activities, particularly in the spring, and in my memory it was spring (although I have no one to corroborate that!). My troll doll collection all got new clothing that was adorned with many buttons the year after that!
I have no idea where my mother’s button tin ended up. Suffice it to say, I don’t have it. Every once in awhile I pick up some buttons, and when I anticipate a knitting project that will need them, I begin looking. I must have been moaning about not having a button box one day to our friend Chris, and a few months later, she showed up with this really wonderful gift: an old glass milk bottle filled to the brim with buttons! I just love that bottle, and for many months have had it sitting on our coffee table as it is so colorful. I love looking at it. My husband also appreciates the milk bottle, coming from a dairying family as he does, and it’s nice that molded into the glass is the name “Drew’s Dairy Inc, Augusta, Maine.” We have collected old milk bottles for many years, and the ones that my husband loves best are the ones that have the name of the dairy molded right into the glass.
So as I was finishing up a knitting project yesterday during the bad weather, I tipped out the button bottle and had a lot of fun picking through the little jewels. I happily took a lot of time to choose the correct combination of buttons for my project. The project was finished up this morning, and unfortunately I cannot put a photo in here as it is a gift that will accompany me to our yearly spinner’s group Christmas/Solstice/New Year’s party tomorrow. I will post a photo after that. Maybe whoever gets the gift will let me photograph them in it :*)
We had quite the eventful Solstice evening. We were looking forward to going to a friend’s house for a Solstice celebration around a bonfire. The weather definitely did not cooperate, and we found ourselves with winds higher and more persistent than we saw during Hurricane Sandy. And buckets of rain came along with it. I had a harrowing drive to do an errand that could not be put off (read here: pick up a hand-made gift for my husband from friends who were about to get on the road out of town on Friday directly from school. There were moments on Route 1 when I really thought my little Subaru was going to get blown right off the road). When I got home, chores were about as much fun as I had imagined they would be, and I came in chilled to the bone and ready for something hot to drink. We began getting ready to go to the party and my husband was listening to the police scanner and saying that he didn’t think it would be a safe trip anywhere. The wind by this time was absolutely howling, our greenhouses were flapping in the wind, and if it hadn’t been so late in the day, I would have thought that the Mayan calendar might be right! Limbs were coming down all over the place and we heard that a transformer blew a few houses down from our son and his family, and that lines were dangling and sparking there. I was just about ready to call our friend and say that I was hesitant about coming out, and was on the phone with our friend Pam, when the lights went out. And that was it for Solstice eve!
We waited for awhile and eventually got the generator running, but sitting in the living room with the winds howling around and the trees going nuts in the gale, it was almost spooky-scary. And it’s funny that our our friends over at Henbogle had the same thought that I had: I immediately had visions of the series of books by Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising in particular. It’s all about the darkness and the light, and the constant fight of good to hold the evil back. Solstice night is a main part of this first book and it is a very dramatic and very suspenseful read. The BBC made the book into a movie and they actually did quite a good job with it, particularly in catching the mood. It’s usually aired once or twice around Christmas, and if you catch it it’s worth the hour and a half. I get a shiver every time I think about the book and it really speaks to a more primal, and yes, pagan, side of humanity. The fear of the the darkness and the evil that is part of our physical world, is truly just as much a part of our spiritual and emotional world as is the tangible. And I guess the whole Mayan calendar thing coming so close on the heels of the Newtown massacre as well as the Solstice, just made the night that much more dramatic and more intense. John and I ended up turning off the generator and just hitting the sack before 9. The electricity came back on early the next morning and we learned then that there were multiple trees down on our street. I am glad that we sat tight in our little house.
Our lambing greenhouse didn’t fare as well as the house. We lost some of the ballast pipes on one side and it flipped over the ridgepost. At least the other side held. Tonight the moon is shining among some quickly moving clouds and all is quiet. I am guessing that the goodness and light has pushed back the darkness for another year. And so the seasons go. We now are looking forward (obsessively) to a few more moments of light each day. Happy belated Solstice!
We finished getting the 14′ monstrous tree up and decorated early in the week. It took a lot of shifting and ladder work, but in spite of its Charlie Brown shape, it looks really nice. My husband declared that we would never put up such a large tree again (after our son dragged in a 17 footer a few years back). But he brought this one in and we decided to give it a try!
I came home one afternoon this week to find that he had broken out his Lionel train set. I don’t know how old it is, but it must be from the mid fifties. It’s larger than HO scale, but I am not sure what it is. It’s lovely! We need a little more track, but we have it running around the base of the tree and we have been having some fun with it. It’s a slightly tight fit, but it should work for the moment.
Our grandson came to visit today and we had it running for him. He asked me to sit on the floor together with him and his little friends who were also enjoying the train. We had some cookies and juice and watched that little engine chug around for quite awhile. Paddington Bear, the Fawn, Sock doll and Winnie the Pooh apparently decided that they liked the view and stayed put. Nice fun for a dreary day.
Are a very traditional Maine confection. They are delicious! A wonderful chocolate-covered coconut candy. The first time I had them we had not been living here for very long, and I was totally shocked at the secret ingredient in them. They are close in flavor to a Mounds candy bar, but better.
I always try and send my inlaws something for the holidays that is typical to New England, and particularly to Maine. So this year I decided that I would make some Needhams for them. One of my work colleagues offered me her family recipe, which I thought was extremely generous. So last weekend I went to work, and figured that it would be a fun afternoon. I used to make candy when we lived in NJ, so I figured it would be a snap. Wrong!!! I think the secret ingredient makes it more possible to have a mess when dipping into the chocolate… and I certainly made a mess!
It got better as I went, and when I chilled the filling a little more and then dipped it, it began to look a little more acceptable. But the first efforts were not very pretty! Needless to say, I did not send the ugly Needhams to New Jersey. The prettier ones took that trip. And the secret ingredient is: mashed potato!
Snow day! Went to bed not expecting one today. I thought there might be a delay, but after the delay was called, the day was cancelled. It’s really coming down right now and the trees are lovely, offering us a very wintery picture. For the moment. I hate to be an Eeyore, but it’s going to turn to rain by tomorrow and that will really be a mess. Grumble, grumble, growl, growl.
Difficult to think about holidays with all that has happened in the last few days. I was all set for a rousing weekend of cheery Christmas prep, and of course, it isn’t jolly at all. Newtown, CT’s tragedy is a teacher’s worst nightmare. We train for it regularly and pray that it never happens.
After the horror of Friday we got home to a call from our son that he was in the emergency room with his significant other, and would we mind having our grandson for the night at the last minute. It was such a blessing to have him with us, and at the very least we were able to cherish him and appreciate how lucky we are to have our two sons, our grandson, as well as some wonderful step-grandchildren. And not to be cliched, but it is another reminder of how much we need to appreciate every day.
The storm that is bringing a lot of bad weather to the northeast hit us sometime during the night. With ice, to begin with, and then pretty steady rain. Cold rain, which was just a lovely addition to the mud in the paddocks. Running a little late this morning, I decided that I would not collect milk as usual and instead of my stainless buckets, use a plastic one and discard the milk, so I could save some time and get to work without having a heart attack, or an accident. Doe number two got onto the milk stand and proceeded to Hoover her grain and when she was finished, stepped in the bucket. Well, aside from wearing the milk, no loss I guess. Then doe number three refused to come out of the shelter greenhouse and cross the paddock to be milked in the other greenhouse. (Doe #3, aka SnowPea, hates the bad weather in a big way. Can’t really blame her, it was nasty). Part way through her milking I got the text message that our school district had a one-hour delay due to the icy roads in some parts of our district. Would have been nice to have had that info a little earlier, maybe I could have waited a few minutes and had a calm chore time with a little more daylight!
Ah well, it was a stolen moment for an extra cup of coffee. And I was able to prevent my pet peeve: coming home in the afternoon to an unmade bed! And tonight things were supposed to be calmer, but Zelda (one of the does that just came back to the farm) was out and about when I got out there for evening chores. Not sure what she was looking for, but she seemed happy to get back in with her friends when I grabbed her. It’s always something!
And it was a great party. Lots of wonderful food and laughter. We get so stuck in our usual ruts that it’s difficult for me to switch gears and pull it together enough to have people over in a group. (Read here, I am not a very dedicated housekeeper!). So it’s really nice when we do take the time to spiff things up a little and make the effort. I don’t usually stay up that late, and I woke up at the usual time, a little after 4, so I am dragging today. I went back to bed for a little while, but I am thinking that I should sleep quite well tonight!
I roasted a leg of lamb and instead of making potato latkes, made scalloped potatoes (latkes are messy and they are much better if made and eaten immediately). Other folks brought some lovely squash and lentils, homegrown kale, meatloaf, baked carrots, and we had goat cheese and John’s delicious semolina bread. And a bit of wine!
Jim of Hatchtown Farm brought a gift as well. He makes beautiful hand-turned hand spindles and other wooden tools for spinners and he made a gorgeous dreidl. We did not engage in a game of dreidl, but we had some fun spinning it across the table.
Today I did a leisurely clean-up and took the opportunity to make some lamb stock with the gigantor lamb bone and some good greens and onions. There weren’t a lot of pan dripping from the roast and I would really like to make some shepherd’s pie soon, so the stock will come in handy.
I forgot to take a photo of the menorah last night, so I took one this afternoon for day #2! Happy Hanukkah!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!