Chasing rainbows

Sometimes the most beautiful images occur on the dreariest days.  Rainbows don’t appear on sunny days.  Yesterday was gray with freezing rain predicted.  I went for a run and minutes after I got home, it started pouring with a little sun peaking through.  I got the camera out because I thought for sure a rainbow would form and wasn’t disappointed.

First a dull, double rainbow emerged.

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Then one dissolved and the other became more vivid.

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Finally, it widened across the sky.

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If it had been a sunny day, I wouldn’t have this to talk about.  I followed the rainbow all the way to work and when I got there, found the pot of gold.  Apparently, I have been accruing vacation time and don’t take enough time off!!  Lighthouses and sailing, here I come. And more rainbows to chase.



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Tim hiked a High Peak today and I was left home alone. It’s a good thing because it was cold outside and I had plenty to do. I wanted to finish my two rainbow blankets. Naturally there’s a problem. First I didn’t have enough yarn to keep weaving and took a trip to the not big city (mostly small haven) 45 minutes a way and bought one skein of eight colors to finish my project. Oops. So much for my weaving calculations. Then I became so enthusiastic about the first blanket, I didn’t leave enough warp for the second blanket. So the first blanket is 46 or 48 inches long and the second is 21″. Good for a newborn baby for a few days. I now have to bind it to make it. They are beautiful though. One is a twill and the other is plain weave.




While I wove, I had another project to keep me busy (in addition to keep the wood stove going). I am converting my VHS tapes to digital format. To do it, I bought a video converter, the Diamond One Touch.
After working through a couple of kinks, it worked great. I plugged RCA wires into the VHS player and connected to Tim’s computer with a USB. Not exactly one touch, but close to it. I had a couple of glitches. Tim’s computer kept not quite going to sleep, but would lock down despite power settings, which said never sleep. After a search, I found the solutions. I had to disable the setting which said, on resume, display the unlock screen. Voila. I no longer had to sit at the computer swiping the touch pad every five minutes. There was initially some terrible audio static, which went away, perhaps because I moved the VHS and computer apart.

I had a chance to watch my old family videos in the process. First let me say I have the absolute cutest and sweetest kids in the world. Just sayin’. We were mostly a Christmas, birthday and sports video family. I learned a few things I the process. My kids got way too much stuff for Christmas, or I let them down big time this year with only a white elephant exchange. Audio recording should not be on during football games. I have a 90 minute graduation film, bought from the school, with about 10 minutes of footage I really want to see. My son’s swimming coach critique gave me a few pointers I may incorporate.

What really struck me though, was the responsibility I have to my family. At some point, my father converted all his old 8mm tapes affectionately known as the Lynne Bahlkow story, to VHS and gave the tapes to his three kids. As the oldest, I had the most footage by far. My younger sister was a newborn, next she graduated from high school and then became a parent herself. Now it’s my job to get the VHS to a format that my kids can use and look at in the future and then ultimately convert to the next generation to keep our family film history alive. I’m going with MPEG 4 for now.

Whoa, what just happened?

First of all, Christmas has already come and gone in my house. Kids live afar, families are complicated, so we celebrated with the whole famn damily thus weekend. It was a blast.

But, how did this weekend pop up so fast? I look forward to it all year long and suddenly it was here. It arrived in the middle of an ice storm, during which our county was in a state of emergency and travel was strongly discouraged due to iced roads and fallen trees and power lines.

As a result, we stayed inside for 36 hours before we broke out and went skeet shooting and sledding, wearing microspikes and snowshoes. And a good time was had by all.


To keep things simple we had our first white elephant gift exchange. I supplemented it with a white elephant knitting exchange. I included four hats, two woven scarves and a rope trivet. Gifts were stolen, trades were made, everyone was happy and it warmed my heart.

We spent three nights (short for me since I went to bed after 2) in the cabin to make room in the house and I slept like a baby. The wood stove kept us warm in the loft, while I heard trees cracking outside and coyotes howling in the woods.

And now they’ve headed off to other family gatherings, the house is quiet and only the ice remains.


I’m happy I received a digital photo frame, which already has this year’s pictures to make me smile.

Counting the miles

In the Pool and on the loom. I am hanging in there with Master Swimming. I may still be the worst swimmer in the pool but I am also the most improved. I’m able to swim at least a mile already, doing the freestyle, without gasping for air, but still with a few cramps. I may grow to love this. As I learn to relax, I get the sense of floating in the pool. Just wait until I wear my handmade red bathing suit!

I decided I needed to make a few towels for gifts for this weekend. I haven’t been on the loom for ages! I set it up to make about six towels at once. It took 508 strands of 7.5 yards of cotton which ran through my fingers at least twice: when I measured it on the warping board; and when I threaded it and wound it on the loom. That’s more than two miles of thread.! My arms are tired this morning from swimming a mile and weaving two. I may even be getting exercise at the loom. My exercise ball is the perfect height seat when I sit inside the loom for hours fiddling with it. It took me at least eight and maybe ten hours to measure the warp and dress the loom. Then it took about an hour to weave each towel. Six towels may take 16 hours. But as with socks, there’s nothing like hand knit or woven.






Looking up

The day began slowly. Neither one of us wanted to face the prospect of a dead stove. We found the culprit in a faulty electrical box, found a not-so faulty box and rewired it. Then a master electrician came ashore to do weekly volunteer work and gave our repair a thumbs up! It will do the job (bake my bread) and will be up for replacement in the Spring.

For tonight it cooked a couple of beautiful lobsters – I couldn’t do that in the microwave!

Tim’s clothes are almost dry but he looked so good in my yoga pants – tough to explain to island visitors!

But my binoculars were still missing. I went down to the cove this afternoon but didn’t see them on the shore. As our lobsters were cooking tonight there was a knock and a call, “Are you there? We found a pair of binoculars in the cove.”! Two weathered sailors were at the door.


They were very humble, when they saw us getting dinner ready, and said they would clean my, hopefully, waterproof binoculars in fresh water and bring them up in the morning. They’re spending the night here on a sailboat and will visit the tower tomorrow. I plan to use the stove to bake them fresh scones first thing in the am.

Once again the universe delivers.


What is a vacation from vacations?

Work! I have to confess I complained a little to Tim about all this travel and packing. We’ve been home from Alaska for 6 weeks and during that time, I’ve taken 4 trips, all of which required some degree of planning. And here we go again.

I had a chance to discuss my fiber planning and travels with Kelley Petkun on the Knitpicks podcast last week. You can find the episode here

This weekend, I’m getting ready to head to Seguin Island again.

Friends stay at our house and watch the cats, which is great, but I have to get the house ready. The fridge is almost empty, a little prematurely.

We’ve taken our last sail on Boreas for the season.

I’ve been trying to spin an hour a day. Here is some alpaca fiber I am spinning straight from the locks.

Yesterday, I wound several skeins of my handspun, wool-mohair blend for socks and kool aid dyed corriedale for a child’s hat.

My clothes are packed, I’ll spend some time working on projects I am leaving behind today and, oh yes, plan our food. Tomorrow I take a vacation from vacation before my next vacation.


Sewing with assistants

I learned to sew from the best surgeons. I entered medical school with knowledge of and some experience with embroidery but emerged from residency with a bounty of useful stitches and techniques.

My teachers’ words came to me yesterday as I was sewing a blanket stitch (known as the mattress stitch in medical parlance) on a rug I am trying to salvage.

The mattress stitch is used to approximate tissue (skin, fascia) that is bleeding. Tissue is actually easier to sew than a rug because it is alive and does most of the work on its own.

I wove my first rug with a cotton warp and wool weft and fulled it a bit too long in the washer. It shrunk to a strange size and list all the warp colors. So now, I have folded it in half, woven a tablet band and applied it on top, to remind me of the colors I lost in the wash. Next I evened up the edges, and embellished it, with a blanket stitch border.

My technique felt awkward. I quickly realized why. I needed an assistant. In the operating room, someone always held the trailing thread and wrapped it around my needle as I sewed the mattress stitch ( and swabbed away blood).

In addition, it wasn’t going smoothly until I remembered the words, “always sew towards yourself”. I may have been slow to learn; one of my mentors once head butt me when he didn’t like my work. I’m still learning.

The perspective of the rug photo isn’t good. In reality, it’s almost square.

Best knitter pickup line

For the love of family I was back on the road – or took to the skies – again to visit my darling daughter in DC (DD in DC).


She received an award at work and took ME out to dinner to a very chi chi, DC restaurant where I ate Alaskan Halibut. Imagine that!

I got to see her new home since she moved while I was away. Then we ate and partied some more and even hatched out the idea for a possible business venture. More to come.

But I digress. Travel time is knitting time and I was working on a second sock to match the one I knit last week during my 12 hours of flights. I happily knit away during the brief flight. When it was time to get my backpack out of the overhead compartment, a man nearby brought it down for me, which was a help but I would have been happy to do it myself. Then a woman a row behind me commented, “You turn a nice heel.”

I was confused and gave her a questioning look because I thought she was referring to why the man helped me with my bag. I may have even blushed. Then I remembered I had spent the flight working on my favorite magical moment of knitting a sock: turning the heel and knitting the gusset.

She had watched the whole process from behind me and was impressed. She confessed she only ever knit one sock and it remains single.

DD loved the sock and I finished it during the return trip, without an audience.


My most important kitchen gadget

My kitchen is 36 square feet and I have to be very discerning about equipment I bring into it. Generally I am not a fan of single use gadgets because they have to earn their storage space. Presently my bread maker, pasta maker and soda machine reside outside of the kitchen! I rely mainly on manual labor. I don’t own an electric mixer, dough hook, fryer or toaster oven.

I’m a fan of, the critically acclaimed, Downton Abbey and am keeping current with the episodes as they are aired here. (My daughter has already finished Season 3 on the British Network.) Anyway, no spoilers here, but in this week’s episode, Mrs. Patmar advised Ethel to set timers while she prepared a meal. That got me to thinking. When did they invent timers? The hourglass had been in use since possibly the 8th century and was downsized to be used in the kitchen as an egg timer. But it was entirely visual and required the cook’s attention to realize time had run out. The only egg timers in my house are associated with board games.
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They wouldn’t work for me in the kitchen. I’m sure I would miss the end. I would look at the timer and wonder how much time had passed since the last grain of sand fell to the bottom. I rely entirely on bells and whistles. Is that a function of the our lifestyle? I generally multitask and get easily distracted by shiny things. I need multiple types of stimuli to follow time and this seems to be common. Bells ring, buzzers buzz and my iPhone does both. Even with timers, I forget things in the kitchen.

Mechanical timers were invented in 1926 by Thomas Norman Hicks and I think this is later than the third season of Downton Abbey. I don’t want to read too much about the season because I might find spoilers. This means Ethel prepared her delicious meal while watching sand fall. I couldn’t do it. Despite the gadgets and quality cookware I do own, without multiple timers ringing, my kitchen endeavors would be a disaster.

Timers 001Yesterday my timers were set to help me make a curried butternut squash apple soup and to roast a bunch of butternut squash in the oven. I wonder what I will have time for today?