Donnerstag, 30. Juni 2016

A Villa

An Italian Villa

This where the wedding party stayed (but not me). One entered the property through large gates, and a pretty garden.

The entrance hall

The kitchen where we ladies made pizzas for the pool side "Meet and Greet party."  There were no pizza pans, so we improvised.

looking out from the breakfast room to a deck

The library looking out to the yard and pool

the other side of the Library

An alcove off the breakfast room. That is a stone and tile fountain on the back wall.

the living room

-in case one need tea while in the living room -

That was nice to see, but it is not how I live. Back to busy....

Mittwoch, 29. Juni 2016

More Coast

Onward in Italy

These are more views along the Amalfi coast road.

Looking over the edge of the road.

All the fishing villages used to look like this some decades ago. This one has not been touched by the "progress."

Our driver told us that this hotel was the site of an important meeting and Hillary Clinton was there. My nephew replied, "I'm sorry."

The road and view

We stopped here on a tiny turn out, dashed across the road, went down some stairs, descended through the cliff wall....

......and came out here. Then we went into the cave entrance straight ahead......

.....and clambered into these little boats to be rowed around this cavern....

..... which is called "The Green Grotto" for the sunlight that filters in here through the underwater hole in the cave wall.

At some time someone submerged a Baby Jesus figure here and He is one of the attractions the boatman points out.

Then on we went. Passing busses gets tricky. The mirror is us, the big thing the bus. Only very few inches separated them.
Scooters and yachts and aerial perspective

Coastal town

And more

We were told the hole in the rock has a fancy restaurant in it and a marvellous view.

Busy summer days here. I hope yours are pleasant and productive.

Dienstag, 28. Juni 2016

Crocheted Baby Sandals

So, I don't remember if I found this pattern on Pinterest, or if my grandma shared the link on Facebook and I saved it to my Pinterest, but I definitely like that I met it. Haha.

Baby sandals. They were surprisingly easy, and took a miniscule amount of yarn to make them. See the tiny balls of yarn I used? I didn't even use them up.

Okay. The pattern was free, off this site:

So, here's the first round of the sole,

And the second round.

But then I forgot to take pictures of the progress until I got to...Well, this stage, where it was almost done. Haha, sorry.

After the white sole, you worked in the back loops to do the sides and top, then did a round of trim on the edge. The bottom sole was a duplicate of the first sole, slip stitched to the slipper.

They turned out a little crooked... And they looked a little plain. The ones in the pattern had these cute little star buttons on the front for decoration. I had no cute star buttons. So I improvised. I designed a tiny star motif to sew on the shoes. I don't know if there's already a pattern like this out there, but I took this off the top of my head. It was way easier than I expected. I was half asleep at the time, so maybe my hands just know crochet all by themselves. Haha.

Here's the steps (in US terms):

In a magic ring, (sc, ch3, sl st into first ch) 5 times.

Sl st into first sc of rnd. Fasten off.

SO EASY, right?

And it was fun, too. :)

I sewed the stars onto the sandals, and wove the yarn ends in.

Now they are all ready to give to my niece!

Sonntag, 26. Juni 2016

This and That and Thoughts


After a couple of days "away" - meaning too much going on to think about blogs - I have returned to see some delightful posts. from others of you. I think I should be away more.

Italy will return here at some point, but for today - first summer color, some projects and goings on, then a thought for you to give your comments to.

OK, tutor is back - from Paris! - and re-sized these pictures. Very handy to have a fixer of problems. Thanks, Daria.


New life in the fields.

A pretty little dogwood, that I showed here all snowy in the winter, now covered in white blooms.

White profusion


Some of our goings on this past week include an early birthday party for a son going away, but he wasn't able to be home for this either. He worked until after midnight, so we partied for him, sang "Happy Birthday" over the phone to him, and then his siblings took him some food (he asked for Kebabs and only ate one - shocking!) to his workplace. He left for distant shores the next day. Other young people left for closer ports this weekend. Another set is heading out next weekend. 



Betwixt the flurries of family life, I am trying to slip in some moments on my summer on-line craft classes. That is not entirely successful, the summer having become much more eventful than I had  anticipated. But I have done a little and am squeezing in bits of more, including this jointed bear project in progress.


The thought in this regard has to do with "usefulness." 
The question is, how useful does something have to be to be worthwhile. 
This point has come up in a couple of quarters recently and needs addressing, I believe. Maybe I am looking for self-justification for myself, because not a one of any of the projects I am currently working on, or most of what I have made in the last year, has been immediately useful, in the sense it could be eaten, worn, used for protection from elements or predators, or could be helpful for the tasks of daily life. Have I been then wasting my time? I think not.

Thesis:  Something can be eminently worthwhile without being obviously useful. 
 Note bene: What I am not saying: that a useful item cannot be both art and utilitarian, for it can be. And it should be. Why have a plastic contsiner from Walmart made with nearly-slave labor in a far off land, when any number of artisans in ones own land are happy to make and supply you with beautifully crafted woven baskets? As Katie's posts showed, handcrafted daily items of use are wonderful enhancements to life, worth preserving and admiring in their own right.

That being established, we go back to the original question. does something have to be useful, in the common sense of participating in the basic needs of life, to be worth spending ones time or resources on it, especially when both time and resources are in limited supply? 

Recently a nephew told me that he would get his daughters a steer, but not a pony, precisely because one would be eaten and not the other.
Others in our circle here have mentioned feeling guilty or selfish for "wasting" valuable time on artistic pursuits at the expense of practical labors. Or making something that just takes up space afterward is not justifiable. I would heartily disagree with all those reasons. Not that they cannot sometimes be justified and perhaps be the occasional best use of resources, but in general te concept of pragmatic utilitarianism is wrong.

Why? Because we are humans created in God's image. Because we have direct divine orders to follow His example- not to create from nothing as He did, for we cannot, but to create from the Lego sets (so to speak) that He gave us. 

God could have made a single model human and replicated it six billion times. He did not. He could have made all hair black, or blue, and all eyes brown, or pink, but He did not. He could have made one kind of flower to fill all the functions of flower-ness, but He did not. He could have ordered the Tenple to be Bauhaus style, totally blocky and plain. He did not; He commanded that it be ornamented and beautiful, for totally non-utilitarian reasons and at great expense of time and resources. He even made certain people to be born and raised to be able to do the job well. So then.....Who are we to argue that art for art's sake, or beauty just because, or making to be making is not then wholly defensible? (Obviously, everything has to be in proportion and balanced with other good things like duties and resources, but we are referring to the principle.)

As I wrote to one of you recently, animals only are utilitarian. You won't see gorillas making flower wreathed for their heads. Animals live to eat, find protection, and reproduce. When those things are accomplished, they rest, done, fertig, no more to do, until more of the same. Humans on the other hand endeavor to be as efficient as possible on the basic necessities precisely for the reason of having leisure time then to be able to do higher order activities like creating beautiful things, learning new truths, or engaging in good works. That is what sets apart from animal life. That is how we live in God' image. That is the essence of civilization as opposed to barbarism. And that is why each of us, as ndividusls, needs to take time and make time to do more than the essential useful tasks life, like mere animals. 

That is one point, but there is another. Every argument needs to define terms. Here also. What exactly does one mean by useful? Being involved in Keeping body and soul together is the normal understanding, rightly so, most of the time. But here we need to look beyond that because of the reasons just give above relating to our humanity and the image of God. Something can be very useful in an abstract or an invisible or a spiritual or a psychological sense, without contributing in a direct way to ones food, clothes, shelter or reproduction. The nourishment of mind and spirit and soul is as vital as that of the body, and here endeth  all defenses. So art and crafting is useful, just not in an animal way, but in a human way. So too, taking time for oneself to accomplish that nourishment can, and likely will make all the bodily activities more productive in the long run. So too, ponies can be as useful as steers for little people. 

Now, it is your turn. Agree or disagree?
Now I go back to making a little bear, just because I want to, and because for umpteen years I gave my all to so many other (wholly worthwhile) tasks, but at the expense, usually , of my own tank-filling, that now I have no problem trying to do some catch up and fill up. At least I am trying.
I think you should too.


Samstag, 25. Juni 2016

Sauder Village, Part 2

So many beautiful quilts at the Sauder quilt shop!

I just adore the colors in that one, above, as well as the wavy quilting.

The intricate piecing on these makes me dizzy to think about.

Evan begged and begged to go the the grist mill.

All the kids were mesmerized by the water wheel turning to power the grinding stones.  Inside, the kids could try grinding some corn with a mortar and pestle like the Native Americans did it, and then they could watch the corn being ground in the water-powered mill.

Baby Levi was enthralled with the sheep in the pasture behind the mill and was quite angered at being moved away from where he could see them.  So I parked his stroller in view of the pasture while we explored the mill.

I noticed this beautiful hinge in the door of the mill.

These yarn skeins are homespun and dyed with natural dyes and alum and cream of tartar for mordants.

Spinning that yarn takes a lot of practice, but was an absolutely essential skill.  I, for one, am extremely thankful that I don't have to spin or, above all, wear that homespun wool.  I don't think I would ever get used to the feeling of that on my skin.  I'm kinda wimpy that way.

A pioneer, I am not.

We went into a house that had actually belonged to a settler family.  It was 172 years old, and even the floor bricks were original.  The woman who lived there had 6 children when her husband died in a farm accident.  She married again, and went on to have 9 more children.  When she died in her 80's, she had out lived two husbands and two of her sons.  She had 101 grandchildren and more than 300 great-grandchildren!  The house was quite a small space for that family of 11 to live and work in all day, every day.  I have felt like my house is small for the 7 of us, but it's all perspective.

We went into the replica school house where the children worked long desks along the two side walls that had only grease-paper on the windows.  They went to school for 3 months in the winter, only, so I imagine it could get chilly.  (They could continue those 3 months per year until they turned 21.) They had these little oil lamps hanging along to help lighten the dim interior.

The school house had a fire-place, of course.  Again, in the absence of ample stone and brick, they used what they had-- wood.  The chimney was made of wood and propped up with a long log.  When the wooden chimney inevitably dried out and caught fire, the biggest boys were sent out the kick over the log prop so the chimney would fall down and spare the rest of the school building.

This little garden has a "waddle fence" made of woven sticks and branches.  Even the pioneers had trouble with their fowl making a mess of the gardens.

This garden had a slightly more sturdy fence.  Cow-proof, I guess.

I always like interesting metal things and I thought this door handle was quite unique.

For sale in the General Store were lots of interesting metal things.

This weather vane needs to be in my yard, or on my barn...

The whole day was fun and interesting.  The kids also played in the "Little Pioneer" settlement where they could play at farm work in the barn and pretend to cook stew or wash and iron clothes in the house.

We came home tired, and plan to go back again soon.