Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Miss You, Mom

Ruth Jean Perry, seated in front, with her family.

Ruth Jean Perry, high school graduation photo. 

Ruth Jean Perry, wedding photo, October 2, 1948.

Ruth Jean and Olaf J. Helgestad

This is a small tribute to my mother, Ruth Jean (Flint) Perry Helgestad.  She was diagnosed June 22, 2011, with pancreatic cancer, told she had three weeks to live, and to go home and call hospice.  This was a shock to her, my dad, and my sister, brother, and myself.  My dad had been caring for her for the past couple years, primarily because of never-ending pain from shingles several years before.  After the diagnosis, I went to visit for a few days, returned home for a week or so, then went back.  My dad and I cared for her around the clock until she passed away very early on July 22, 2011.  It was her wish to be at home with her family.

Mom loved her family, her home, grandchildren, and new granddaughter, Hazel.  She was a talented, creative person, loved watercolor painting, crocheting, photography, gardening, and genealogy.  I am sharing a few photos here of her work.  She loved getting new painting books, and I expect those shown here came from patterns (so I am not able to attribute them to designer), but it gave her great pleasure to learn.

I like to think perhaps my creative bent came from her, and ability to work with my hands, from my father.

For 20 years or so, I would often pick her up and drive us to fabric shops, yarn shops, art/craft shows, and to towns like New Glarus, Mineral Point.  We had wonderful days out together, with lots of talk and laughter.  Then I had to move away, and for 20 years have missed those good times, except when I drove down to visit.  I had hoped after moving back, we would have more fun times together, but it is not to be.  I miss our frequent phone conversations to catch up on family and what we had each been doing.  Life has become emptier without her, yet has now given me the opportunity to spend time with my dad.  We miss you, Mom.  I thank God you are at peace and no longer in pain.  I will love you forever, and never forget you.  

A favorite watercolor.

She also painted with acrylics, painting birdhouses, ornaments, and Christmas balls.

Even the shed received her gifts, she could see this from the dining room and kitchen windows.

She enjoyed crocheting pillows with fine cotton.  Ripple afghans (not shown) were also a favorite. 

In addition to losing my mother, there have been other losses over the past 13 months.  I wrote of losing my pet cat Mokey last November.  In mid-December 2010 I lost Mitzi (below), then in October 2011, Muffin, followed by Keesha about three weeks ago.  When you have lost your husband and your kids are grown and gone, your pets tend to become even closer companions.

Mitzi, lounging by the woodburning range, her favorite spot in winter.

Muffin (left) and Moses, napping.

Keesha, summer 2011.
 I am looking forward to the New Year, and spending much more time weaving.  I plan to get back to blogging somewhat regularly, with my first post of 2012 about my week at VavStuga in November.  If we don't lose power from the snowstorm and wind, I hope to have that one posted tomorrow, January 1st.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Long Good-Bye

As I write, I am at my parent's home, helping my father care for my mother, who is in the end stage of pancreatic cancer.  She is weaker each day, and tonight asked me to pray to God to let her die in her sleep.  She is ending her journey in this life, and close to beginning a new one in the next life.  We are on a journey, too, in letting go of someone we love.  Though life has its blessings, at times it is hard.  We are taking this one day, one hour at a time.

Eventually I will be back in my studio, I'm just not sure when, so hope you will check back occasionally.  In the meantime, I hope you are all weaving and doing your creative work.  To stay awake all night, so my father can get some sleep, I look in on Facebook, blogs, and websites.  Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sock Season in the Studio

A few weeks ago I was asked if I would like to take part again in "Art In The Yard" with the Art Gypsies, and would I please demo on the sock machine.  On Saturday, June 18th, the Art Gypsies will be celebrating the Summer Solstice outdoors at Fir Tree Cottage, in Land O' Lakes, WI. 

People really enjoy watching a sock machine in action, and will stand for 25-30 minutes to watch a sock being made, often asking questions the entire time.  Although most people have never seen an antique sock machine before, occasionally an older person will recall one from their childhood, and tell me a story about it, always fascinating to hear.    

I'll also have socks available for purchase, and this is something I accept custom orders for, particularly if they are for someone who's feet are not my typical S-M-L-XL, or they want particular colors.  These demos always make for a fun day.    

I'll have socks available again (and sock machine demos) at both the September 24th "Art In The Yard," when the Art Gypsies celebrate the Autumn Equinox, and again Saturday, October 1st when the Lake Country Weavers & Fiber Artists will have their annual sale at the UCC Church in Eagle River, WI, during CranberryFest weekend.  I will also have weaving for sale at both of these events.

This particular color combination is one of my favorites.  I name each pair of socks, sometimes coming up with a name and choosing colors to fit the idea, other times starting with colors, making the socks, then choosing a name.  This particular pair was called "Signs of Autumn," for the color of the fall sky and brilliant colored leaves.

Detail of "Signs of Autumn."

If you've watched this blog for very long, you'll recognize this rug.  I needed photos for an application I was considering sending in, so took the rug out onto the lakeside porch for a quick photo.  Both the hummingbirds and I are enjoying the flowers in this hanging pot, so I thought it would be a nice addition to the photo.

Up until a few days ago, I was enjoying these blossoms on my dwarf apple tree.  Once the heat arrived, the flowers disappeared.  I am hopeful there will be a few apples again this autumn, if the deer leave the tree alone.  Last fall, while staining the house, I had to remove part of the fence around a small garden area so we could try to get the lift around to the front corner of the house.  I was undecided about the fence, it was quite unattractive, though it did keep the deer out.  Having injured my knee before I was finished with the staining, I left the fence half up, half down, over the winter.  This spring, under cover of night, deer mowed down the tiger lilies and chives that were coming up.  I'm going to remove the rest of the fence and either replace it with something better, or wish the tree luck!

It was a long winter, and with an empty nest, was feeling more than a little lonely after living with husband and children for 32 years.  I am aware I have much to be thankful for, and when spring days and sunshine arrived I was feeling much better.  This banner spoke to me one day, and it now hangs near my home, and I see it everytime I go in or out.  Enjoy Life!  And that is what I am doing!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Tech-y Step Forward

I'll be back soon with fibers and photos.  First, though, I've had a bit of a new learning curve, by choice, to deal with.  

It started with a phone call from the Raptor Education Group (REGI) in Antigo, asking if I could check on an eagle that was down.  In that phone conversation came the request that if I would be driving down with the eagle, could I call as they could probably meet me part-way.  Call???  I no longer had a working cell phone.
A couple days after the call from REGI, I stopped in to look at Verizon cell phones, wanting one that would be good for a couple years.  That day, after years of very basic cell phones, I bought a new Verizon Thunderbolt HTC.  I've picked up the basics of my new phone, and am also sure there is a lot to learn yet.  I also signed up for wireless internet, and though there is a limit on the amount of data I am allowed per month on my computer, I am enjoying something faster than dial-up!  

I also decided to purchase a new laptop computer as my desktop computer is seven years old.  I'd asked for Microsoft Office (home edition), and am finding the new Microsoft Word more challenging than the old version in my desktop computer.  I haven't yet peeked at Excel, Power Point, and anything else that might be there.  One step at a time.

I've had a landline since moving up here, and dial-up internet for 16 years or so. Homes less than five minutes from where I live have had high speed internet for years, and for years, I've begged Frontier (and before them, Verizon) to make high speed internet available here. Each time, they declined.  In one week, I'll be calling Frontier to end my relationship with them.
The outcome of all this?  I have a cell phone again, about to be my only phone.  The phone has unlmited data internet access so I can use it to check Facebook, Twitter, news, etc.  This allows me to save the computer internet data limit for things I need to do or research on a computer.  Camera and video capabilities are also nice to have on-the-go. 

Bonuses of the new phone, laptop, and faster internet speed?  I am spending far less time on the computer (no waiting long periods or going off to do other tasks while waiting for pages to load in), which will give me more time for weaving, making socks, and working on the house.  The new software opens up all kinds of possibilities.

I'm starting to think about weaving software, and considering WeavePoint.  Any opinions?

P.S.  What happened to the eagle?  When I arrived, despite a slightly injured wing, likely due to collision with a car, it flew up to a tree.  I observed it from 10 AM to nearly 1 PM that day.  Checking in on it again the next day at 1:10 PM, it was still sitting on the same branch.  At 3 PM, it was gone.  I searched nearby trees and the ground, but did not see it again.  I wish it well.  As a result of that call, the Raptor Education Group has a new volunteer driver.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Beginnings

Yes, I've been away from my blog for far too long, and yes, this is the same warp that has been on this loom for a long, long time.  I am happy to write that this warp is nearing the end, and this possible last rug is underway.  I love the effect from the graphics on this sheet, giving a nice random effect with the colors.  This rug will be navy, the print, wine, and hunter green, it is all laid out on graph paper, the sketch laying in my loom basket for easy access.  Strips are being divided up so I don't run out of enough of a color at the other end of the rug.  The rug will have sewn hems.   

 Soon,.. a new warp, in the form of an 8/2 cotton navy warp for towels.  I have 8/2 cotton variegated blues for the weft.  I plan to keep several of these towels for my kitchen.  Although a 92 year old woman I know recently mentioned she needs some rag rugs for her kitchen, I really want to weave these towels before warping up for rugs again.  I won't allow myself to order anymore cotton, cottolin etc. until I use up some of what I have on hand. 

Louise, a weaving friend of mine, will be here two days from now to help wind a cottolin warp on a loom.  She will return to help warp the Glimakra Standard as soon as the rug warp is done and a new warp made.  Louise and I are going to help each other warp our looms.  I helped her with a couple looms two or three weeks ago, and now she'll help me out.  Nothing like good weaving friends!

Another new beginning, or rather re-new, is I'll be participating in Art in the Yard again, both in June and September, so in addition to working on my home, I need to make time again for weaving and sock-cranking.  I am way behind on getting my work done on the house due to both procrastination and dealing with life issues.  Now, though, the days are sometimes sunny, I'm feeling more energetic, the urge to spring clean is hitting me.  I'm anxious to start scrubbing walls and ceilings (all log and/or wood) then treat them with linseed oil.  After a much needed break, I'm ready to get back to work, both in and out of the studio. 

This morning I received a phone call from the Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI) in Antigo, WI.  Could I go get an eagle that was on the ground?  Yes.  However, when I arrived, the eagle decided it would rather be in a tree than in the back of my Honda, so I sat observing it for two hours, followed by nearly another hour after it moved to another tree.  I believe it was hit by a car, as it has a slightly drooping wing.  The tree the eagle moved to is not as close to the highway, and has fuller branches so I believe the eagle feels safer, more protected.  It was still high up on its branch at 4:15 PM this afternoon.  The one thing it could not do today was hunt and eat.  I'll go back and check on it again in the morning, sending updates to REGI.  

Also this afternoon, yet another new beginning, I became a volunteer rescue driver for the Raptor Education Group, which takes in sick/injured birds from eagles and other raptors down to hummingbirds.  I was invited to come visit and be given a tour, and I fully intend to take that offer some nice day when I need to get away for a bit.       

It is nearly Spring in the Northwoods of WI.  There are buds coming out on the lilac tree, and tiny buds on my little apple tree. The yard needs raking and general cleanup, and I'm looking forward to my herbs appearing and greening up.

Most of the snow is gone, thanks to recent rains.  The snow that is left is mostly in areas of shadow in the woods.  The ice on the lake is turning gray, definitely not safe to be out on, and before long we'll have open water.  I heard a couple mallard ducks quacking as they flew over a couple days ago.  After the lakes are open, the loons and Great Blue Herons will return.

I am choosing to ignore what I heard on the radio today, the "s__w" word in a possible forecast for the coming weekend.  "Think Spring!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011


A favorite Huck variation runner.
This year, I thought I would choose a focus word for the coming year.  For 2011, my word is "transitions," which perfectly fits what is coming in both my personal/home life as well as my weaving life.

As with most people, there have been many transitions in my life, school to work; single to married; childless to motherhood; southern Wisconsin to the Northwoods of WI; wife and mother to widow and single mother; from family needs to self-determined purpose; and hopefully in 2011, moving back to southern WI, though I'm not yet exactly sure where. 

This year my life will be full of transitions, some having already begun.  After 31 years, I am learning to live alone again.  After a rather lonely start, I now find I like having no schedules other than my own, and now creating a new life for myself. 

You may remember this fall I was working on the exterior of my home.  Now, work has begun on the interior, with major decluttering, to be followed by scrubbing, oiling log walls and wood ceilings, and hopefully refinishing floors.

With the new year, and with help from a daughter staying for another two weeks, I have begun decluttering and letting go of life as it was over the past 31 years,... family, homeschooling, community activities, and so on.  So far, letting go of things has been easier than I'd anticipated.  I am busy letting go things I will not need in my new life, and loving the empty spaces created from each cleaned out room, closet, drawer, and box.    

I do have my priorities straight,... I am keeping most of the looms, weaving equipment, spinning wheels, yarns, fibers, fabrics, and of course, BOOKS!

I've gotten a preliminary quote from a moving company; they will do an in-person visit and quote when I'm closer to putting my home up for sale.  Occasionally I go online to look at house listings in the towns I am considering. 

I want so badly to have weaving/studio time, but am trying to get as much done as possible while my daughter is here.  If I can make a LOT of progress now, I'll be able to work in weaving time very soon.

New "slim" Christmas tree with garland lights.
Evenings, I'm still enjoying my Christmas tree, while looking back at 2010 and ahead to 2011 and all the changes in store.  I've also been setting new goals for myself and my weaving.  While I will continue to weave towels and runners, at least for awhile (stash to use up), I'll also be venturing into a couple new areas of weaving this year. 

Long-loved ornaments with happy memories.
The New Year 2011 is here, and I am looking forward to many positive changes!