Archive for July, 2007

A Winged Jewel

ruby-throated hummingbirdI finally got my hummingbird feeder filled and up. I’ve been watching for a few days, looking for takers. Well, yesterday they came… a pair, it looks like. The male even did some acrobatic display diving for us (actually probably for his special friend, but we got to watch). He perched in the birch tree off the porch today and I took his picture. I’m excited they’ve come. They’re so fun to watch.

Published in the The Bee

A piece of my work made the old hometown newspaper, The Newtown Bee. When we lived there, I belonged to an art quilting group that met weekly to share work and inspiration. Every year we chose a theme to make quilts for a show at the local library. This year was Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales and my quilt is called “The Selfish Giant”. It is based on a scene from Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name. You can read the article here and more pix can be seen here. Of course, they spelled my name wrong under the picture but it’s right in the body of the article.

Progress 13

Tile! While we were in MD settling on the house, the tile was installed in the upstairs bathroom. It is lovely even though the photos don’t represent it very well.

tiletile

The trim carpenters are here installing doors and all the trim molding. It’s looking good and we’re excited about deciding how we want all our creative closets configured.

It’s official…

We are second-home owners… again. It’s a long story, but we have purchased a beautiful stone home in Maryland. No, we’re not moving from our Vermont hillside. The home will be occupied by our daughter and son-in-law. Ellen will be starting nursing school in Baltimore and Doug has gotten a teaching position. And they needed a place to live. So here are pictures:

MD houseMD houseMD houseMD house

There are goldfish and Koi in the pond and the yard is planted with perennials and flowering shrubs. It won’t afford the vegetable garden that Ellen had hoped for because of too much shade from the mature trees, but she is excited about all the flowers and the fish (and about the idea that they’ll be in one place for more than a year).

Pillows

I’ve been making pillows lately. Several months ago, I was shopping at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD. I found some cute monkey fabric – little bust portraits of sock monkeys in colored blocks – and red background sock monkey fabric. Ellie likes monkeys so I bought enough to make 3 pillows – block portraits on the front and sock monkeys on the back. They came out fun and I gave them to Ellie for her birthday. Did I take any photos so I could post them here? Nope. So you’ll just have to imagine.

On the same shopping foray, I found a bin of imported African prints, and I chose 3 different ones with the intent to make 3 pillows for Doug and Ellen. Did I remember to take photos? Yep. Hooray! And here they are:

African Fabric pillows

Progress 12

For those of you besides Ellen who want to see the interior as well as the exterior, I’ve included some shots, though it is difficult to get a sense of the space, especially upstairs. This is what the “barn” looks like today. The painters are done for now. When the trim is done, they’ll be back to finish up.

exterior 7/9/07exterior 7/9/07garage interiorworkshop interiorview from office, through living space to the studiostudio storage under the eaves

About that back-packing trip…

It all started with Ellie. She wanted to go back packing. So did I and when I mentioned it (ever so casually) to my brother, before we knew it, we were planning a trip. After considering several options, we settled on a 3 day, 2 night trek with optional day hike from Camel’s Hump to Mount Mansfield in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was a fairly ambitious undertaking, eight of us going, with 7 – 10 mile days planned between lodges for spending the nights. At the last minute we decided to hike from north to south – “down hill” – instead of the other way round (still a good idea, I think). This meant a steep 2.4 mile ascent first thing and then hopefully easier going the rest of the way. We had no idea.

rock scramble up the chin of Mt MansfieldWe arranged to leave a car at the hike out point and to have our friend Colleen take us to the trail head but this involved 3 vehicles because of logistics. The plan was that 2 vehicles would go to the hike out point in Jonesville, and one to the trail head in Smuggler’s Notch to wait. We agreed on a meeting point in Jonesville but somehow ended up waiting for each other at two different spots. After a significant delay, we found each other and all got to the trail head where we sent off the main group of 6 and my brother and I took the two trucks to Colleen’s. She graciously ferried us back to Smuggler’s Notch where we started up exactly one hour after the main group.

fog on the ridgeIt was steep and slow going and towards the top, lots of rock scramble. John and I met the rest of the group near the tree line. As we approached the “chin”, the clouds came in and we hiked the ridge in fog. If you’re not familiar with Mt Mansfield, it is portrayed as a man’s face, chin to the north, forehead to the south. The chin is the highest point and the entire face is barren and exposed, supporting a beautiful alpine biome. While Roger and James continued to make their way up the rock face, the rest of us posed for a picture at the top near the Geological survey marker. Group shot at the chinAs we made our way across the ridge, the clouds came and went, giving us little glimpses of the incredible views. After several miles in the fog, we headed down the far side of the forehead. The book never mentioned how very rough the terrain was going down, so difficult in places as to require ladders, but we were troopers all. The rocks and roots were slippery, especially with the mist. The scrub pines were our friends – strong and reliable hand holds.Ladders going down the forehead

The view south from the forehead

We finally reached our “hotel” for the night – Butler Lodge. Butler LodgeWood platforms for sleeping and plank tables and benches served us well. It was a full house – 1 caretaker plus the 8 of us, 3 brothers, a lady with a big black dog and the caretaker’s boyfriend. We were warm and dry, especially nice with the thunder and lightning storm that broke about midnight.

We set out early the next morning on relatively level terrain. I had rubbed 2 nasty blisters, one on each heel and was working on a third on the ball of my foot (thanks, I think, to the 38 pound pack I carried). The pace for day 2 was still slow and Roger and Linda were quite spent from the day before. We stopped at Taylor Lodge to eat and refill our water at the spring there. The choice was made to leave 3 of of us there for the night, since the most challenging part of the hike was still ahead and the day was fast speeding along. We abandoned our Camel’s Hump option which would have come at the end after hiking out to the car. We three would spend the night and hike out to the access road the next morning, waiting in the parking lot at the bottom to be picked up by the rest of the group when they hiked out to the car. The other 5 set off for Buchanan Lodge about 7 miles away.

While we waited for nightfall, we watched 2 chipmunks investigate our shelter for any little tidbit left behind by hikers, saw beautiful birds (rose-breasted grosbeak, wood thrush, robin, cedar waxwings) enjoying the bright red berries of a nearby shrub, watched red efts negotiate the rocky terrain, played “I’m thinking of something…” and watched a storm roll over the mountains. We made ourselves wait until 5 pm to start dinner and were in bed by 8.

Meanwhile, the rest of our group was struggling over the very rough terrain, hiking through the downpour and lightning, making their way into camp about 8pm. The next morning they were out early to hike out to the car. The terrain here was easier and they said they saw a very large bull moose. It rose out of the bushes in front of them as they rounded a corner and headed off into the woods. I’m posting one of the pictures they took – you decide. moose?!But they all swear it was really there and just camera shy.

After waiting at the parking lot for about 2 hours, the three of us got tired of sitting and began to walk out the road. It was the only way in so we had no way of missing our ride. We walked about 4 miles before they came along at 2 pm. They had been to Colleen’s to pick up the vehicles and we were all set to continue on home to Ludlow. It sure felt good to get cleaned up with showers and clean clothes and a nice spaghetti dinner.

It was very nice to spend the time together as a family, to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, to stretch ourselves physically and to pull together. I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish the planned 22.9 miles that we set out to do but I made a prudent choice for the sake of my feet and the speed of the rest of the group.

Looking north toward Mt MansfieldThis last photo was taken halfway through day 2, looking back towards Mt Mansfield. In the distance you can see the chin, high and exposed. The radio towers are on the forehead; there’s a weather station there also. And Butler Lodge is somewhere between the towers and the vantage point.

Photo credits to Ellie, our official chronicler – Thanks!


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