Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Well, I'm betting some of you are looking for the next installment of "The Memoir". I have to admit I've run out of gas on it. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out what sort of sordid event would make Mr Snitterton be in hiding, and there were already a couple of flaws with it. But it was an interesting experiment. I hope you enjoyed what there was. With the failure of the story there was also the failure of my keeping up with the blog on a daily basis. Some things distracted me and others required my attention. So it goes.

I came home to a "love note" from the city saying I need to repair my sidewalk. A more formal request will come from them later. It's not a good time for me to have this happen but it just means that what monies I can pull together from commissions and such will have to be earmarked for that. In the meantime I'm going to be looking at options. I have one option cooking right now with the credit union which I'm hoping comes through. It will make settling things easier.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Memoir, continued

The day of the airship demonstration was clear and brisk but not too windy. Mr Sandhurst had speaking mirrors set up so that he could convey his orders to the crew in the hangar and in the airship itself. We had started preparations before sunrise. By the time Mr Sandhurst had arrived with the others we had been at it for several hours. The vehicle hovered over us, its gondola and engines gleaming beneath the creamy gasbag.

Penderking came up to me as the crew was preparing to bring out the airship and drew me aside. "I need you to go onboard the ship and make sure everything is running smoothly," he said. "The Duke of Moonrose is here and I want you up there to make sure nothing goes wrong."

I nodded but felt my stomach go into a knot. The Duke of Moonrose was a very powerful man in the ruling halls of Ashkaroth. We had heard he had had some interest in Mr Sandhurst's company but his presence meant something more. The Duke held the ear of the King and decided who and what the King's money would buy. That he was here to view the airship made me wonder for what purpose he wanted it. A contract from the Duke meant good fortune for all of us.

Even more it meant that I would fly for the first time. I had never gone up in the airship for any of the tests. It would be a challenge for me to keep my head and pay attention to what needed to be done.

I geared up for the flight, donning a canvas airsuit, leather helmet, and gloves before trotting out with the crew as they guided the airship to its launching platform. As I climbed into the gondola, I glanced back at Penderking. He gave me a smile but I could tell it wasn't fully heartfelt. I nodded and climbed in.

Greenfeldt, the pilot, and Hendon, the navigator, climbed in soon after and began the pre-flight. I strapped myself in the mechanic's seat set behind Hendon. When I looked out the window I could see one of the great engines overhead. The murmuring of Greenfeldt and Hendon as they went down the checklist served to make my blood thrill with excitement as we prepared the ship for takeoff. I heard Greenfeldt call out, "Engine 1 start up," followed with Hendon's reply, "Engine 1 start up aye," then the growl of the first engine at our front left as it began. It followed with the engine by me coming to life, its propeller whizzing around at first reluctantly then enthusiastically. The third and fourth engines came to life behind us and the whole ship hummed.

"Chrysanthe to Tower, permission for lift off," called out Greenfeldt.

"Tower to Chrysanthe, permission granted. You're clear," came the reply from the radio speaker.

Greenfeldt pushed the throttle and effortlessly the airship Chrysanthe rose from the ground.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Altogether ooky

This past week I've been playing with a story idea that starts with the finding of a partial manuscript. I'm not sure what direction it's going to go. I'm going to let it play itself out. Unlike some writers, I don't have a plan written out on what happens in the end. It's a rough draft, so if there are inconsistencies and unexplained things (which can happen in a story written this way) please bear with me. My intention was to write on it every day but this weekend I've had to focus on other things and I can't write and crochet at the same time. So the next entry should come in tomorrow.

The extra strain I had put on my right knee over my vacation caused me to rely on driving again to work for a while, but I will be putting in the attempt again this week. You may think I'm crazy to get back to walking when it's getting to be stormy season in the Pacific Northwest. But the rain and wind doesn't faze me. I'd rather walk in that kind of weather than in the heat of summer. There's nothing so soothing as the patter of rain on the umbrella. One thing I won't have though is my favorite folding umbrella. Somehow over time the wires that held the gasket over the handle to the spokes came undone and during my trip to the dentist last Wednesday the umbrella imploded as I was trying to fold it closed. It was a good umbrella, a folding one that could open up to almost as large as a golf umbrella but close small enough to be tucked into a backpack or totebag. I have umbrellas on hand -- a true Oregonian never fails to have one or two for emergencies -- but I'll have to be on the hunt for a replacement for that one.

There hasn't been much else going on this week. I'm finishing up the crocheted washcloths I'm going to sell at the employee craft fair on Tuesday. The holidays will be quiet -- mostly breaks from the year end duties at work -- so I don't have plans for those. I sent off a package yesterday to the recipient of a yarn swap we're participating so I'm waiting for her to receive her package and hoping she likes what she receives. The gal who hired me last year to knit a couple of Harry Potteresque scarves for her has hired me to knit another.

Over the weekend I've been revisiting an old TV series I used to watch when I was a little kid. The Addams Family, the lovely ghoulish tribe of various characters, originated in cartoons drawn by Charles Addams and appeared in various publications like The New Yorker. In 1964 they were brought to life in a tv series that lasted 2 years. The reruns ran in the afternoon and I would watch it religiously. For being a family of macabre characters, they were good-natured, kind, and considerate. Guests are always welcome with open hospitality and they seemed oblivious to the discomfort of their more "normal" houseguests at the sight of boiling tea, a swordfish with a leg sticking out of its mouth, and a pet lion. Everyone had their favorite character. Mine was Thing, the hand that appeared in various locations around the house to assist in whatever needed to be done, such as dialing a telephone, pouring tea, or lighting a cigar. It's been delightful watching it over Netflix Instant while working on my washcloths. Gomez may have been the master of the house, but Morticia was definitely the moderating voice, suggesting in many instances more reasonable solutions to whatever problem they were dealing with in that episode.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Memoir, continued

I won't dwell on my 3 years at the Academy. Suffice it is to say that what education I failed to get at home I obtained there in addition to the training I would need for my future position with Mr Sandhurst's company. If I am able at a later time, I'll tell about those exciting and soul-pushing days, but I want to make sure I had my story out before it was lost.

After my time in the Academy, I was sent to work under an engineer named Charles Penderking in Mr Sandhurst's West Highborough division. He set me to work on various problems he was working on to help me get a feel for real work as opposed to projects at the Academy. "You'll find, Snitterton," said Penderking, "that the forces of nature cannot be predicted accurately, no matter how precise you are. Always prepare for the unexpected." I learned quickly and worked well with him, feeling with him a natural flow of things. Pieces fell together easily when we worked together, as if the forces that we were dealing with realized that with the two of us there was no point in fighting us. I wasn't sure if he felt it like I did, but one day he asked me to help him on the project he was busy with. It was an engine for a new kind of airship, and he had been working on it with two other engineers, Thorpe and Duncastle. They had done a prototype but it kept failing. "The engine will run for seven minutes then fail," he told me. "We've made adjustments and tried different formulas, but once it gets warm it quits on us. I want you to take a look at this."

Thorpe and Duncastle, two fellows who were relatively amiable but a little cold, weren't too happy with this apprentice looking at the plans then observing the engine. It took me some time to figure it out. It was a subtle change and I could see and sense it, but it took about a dozen tries before I was able to really nail it and confirm it on the plans. "See here?" I said, pointing out the offending valve. "When this gets warm, this valve seats properly and holds a seal. But when the heat makes it expands it creates a leak. That's what's shutting it down." When we made adjustments to that valve and nearby cams the seal held and the engine growled contentedly.

That was what it was like in those days I spent at West Highborough. Most of the time I'd be working on small projects that helped me learn but occasionally I'd be called in to help out on the engine or another portion of the airship. Duncastle warmed to me but Thorpe stayed relatively cool. He was a little older than me and I could sense his resentment of my presence. But as long as I was Penderking's man, I encountered no difficulties.

The days when the airship was to come together and go through the flight tests were nerve-wracking. The airship was a beauty of design and power, driven by 4 engines and clad with a tough but flexible skin over its frame. After the final test, we received word that Mr Sandhurst was anxious to know if the airship was ready for demonstration. Penderking, Thorpe, and Duncastle conferred with the other technicians, mechanics, and pilots. There were some who felt we needed to do more testing, but others felt we were ready and could work out the minor problems later in production. Penderking was the most anxious and Thorpe the most insistent on moving ahead. Finally after wrangling over an hour, it was agreed to notify Mr Sandhurst that the airship was ready for demonstration.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Memoir, continued

I left the town I had grown up in on the Great Valley train. Mr Sandhurst gave me instructions, tickets, and some pocket money for meals for the trip. I had never traveled on the train and I saw all sorts of people on board. There were some like my mother and father -- somewhat poor and worn with having to struggle to live -- but there were more like the men who traveled with Mr Sandhurst. Their clothes were immaculate and their auras murmuring of power. They could see I was poor and would pass me like I was a clod of dirt on the ground. But it didn't matter to me. I was more fascinated by the places we were passing and the things I saw.

The most fascinating thing though to me was the engine. When we stopped at a station where we would be sitting for a while, I was curious to see the engine. I could sense the power that ran the train for it flowed the whole length of it. But when I got close to the engine, its power nearly knocked me over. It took all I had to approach it.

"Beauty, ain't she?" said a man to me.

I looked over and saw a man in a stained coverall with a patch bearing the railroad's emblem over his heart. He looked as old as my father, his short stringy hair streaked with gray. He was wiping his hands of grease. I looked back at the engine. It gleamed with the polish of hours of care enhanced with the power it could generate. I wanted to touch it but didn't dare.

"She's a Carmichael 32-H400," said the man. "Weren't many of these built. Shame, really. It was the best engine Carmichael made."

"How fast can she go?" I asked.

"Under full steam she can fly as fast as the River Runner if not faster."

I had heard of the River Runner. It was the express train that crossed the country in a day. At top speed it could do 185. I stared in awe.

"Yep. Great machine." His ears perked and he walked away.

My final destination was to be the town of Clearwater but in order to get there we had to pass through the largest city of the country: Ashkaroth. It was called the City of Lights and that evening as the train curved around the great bay it rested by one could see why. The buildings were ablaze in magnificent colors and shimmering rays of luminescence. I stared at it until I couldn't see it for the train's bulk in the way. The few buildings we passed soon multiplied in number until we were flying down a canyon of structures. The train dove into a tunnel to get to the station where we stopped for an hour.

By the time we reached Clearwater, it was late and I was tired from the long ride. I fetched my trunk but when I left the station I wasn't sure how I was to get to my next destination. I looked at the directions Mr Sandhurst had given me. When you reach Clearwater, send the enclosed message ball to Mr Arrhenius Pond. Then wait.

In the office of the shop, Mr Sandhurst had given me an envelope that had all the things I needed for my journey. I pulled it out of my jacket pocket and rifled through it. My fingers fell upon a hard round object and pulled it out: a message ball. Inside the gumball-sized plain container would be a paper that bore the message. I tucked the envelope back in my jacket, then I rubbed the ball between my hands and breathed on it. "Go to Mr Arrhenius Pond," I commanded, then I threw it up in the air. The ball fell a foot, then flew upward quickly out of the light of the lamps.

It was all a matter of waiting then. I put my trunk so that I could sit on it but had no idea how long it would take for something or someone to appear. Mr Sandhurst had been vague about where I was to be going. The Clearwater station emptied and with the train and people gone the place was lonely and growing cold. There was nothing to do but play with the light a little and wait.

It seemed after a while that I was pretty much left there to spend the night when I heard a rushing from a distance. A wind gust threw my hair all over and cast dust everywhere, making me cough. "Sorry," I heard a youngish voice say some feet away. "Still trying to get a handle of this one."

I wiped my face and looked at the speaker. It was a fellow my age dressed in a green brocade jacket and purple trousers getting up from a Turkish carpet that hovered a foot from the ground. His chestnut brown curly hair was a terrible mess but his eyes had a gleam of fun. "Are you Arrhenius Pond?"

"Me?" said the fellow. "Oh, no, I'm not old Pond. I'm John. Pondy sent me to fetch you. Hand with your trunk?"

"Um, sure." I lifted one end and John picked up the other. Together we placed it on the carpet, causing it to dip a little then even out. I climbed aboard the carpet and sat with my back to the trunk.

"Old Pond's the housemaster," said John, settling in next to me and gripping the carpet's tufts. I did the same as the carpet suddenly rose into the air and flew over the treetops. "He'd rather be in bed at this time of night. But he was expecting you and had me out when the ball arrived."

"Where are we going?"

"Seven Oaks Academy. On the outside looks like a stodgy old place where they send peers and such to study all sorts of awful things."

"What is it then?"

"You don't know?"


John grinned. "It's only the best school for engineers. You can't get into it without invitation. Who sent you? Mr Sandhurst?"

"Yes," I said.

"You must be good then. The best ones have been the ones Mr Sandhurst sends."

We went over a rise and in the light of lamps set along paths stood a group of stone and plaster buildings. It looked intimidating and I shrank a little, wondering if I would be able to pass muster. I glanced at John, who was blithely grinning as he steered the carpet to the lawn near a set of arched wood doors on one of the side buildings. I clambered off the carpet and ran my hands through my windblown hair as I looked up at the place. "Go on in," said John. "I'll take care of your trunk."

I opened a door and stepped into an arched hall of polished wood and worn carpets. I walked further, seeing paintings of men and women in various robes and gowns. I heard John bring in my trunk then say, "Good evening, Mr Pond."

I turned and saw an old man in a plain shirt and trousers stepping up to me. "Edmund Snitterton?" he said in a voice that reminded me of my father when he was annoyed at me.

"Yes, sir," I replied nervously.

He smiled warmly. "Welcome to Seven Oaks, Mr Snitterton. Your new life begins now."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Memoir, continued

When I went to the office, Mr Sandhurst told me he had intentions for me. He needed people to train for a project, one that would be even more incredible than any he had already devised. If I was studious and persistent, I would be greatly rewarded. He would have me schooled in the skills I needed to do the job.

I thought about it. I had never heard of anyone doing such a thing for just a worker. But the look on the foreman's face told me that this opportunity was even more of an amazing thing and I would be very foolish to turn it down. I thought of my mother and father and my siblings. What would my absence mean to the rest of the family? I asked Mr Sandhurst and he assured me they would be taken care of. I would have to leave them though so if I decided to go, I would have to go home and pack and leave right away. He would not have any relatives get in the way of who he wanted on this project.

I said yes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Memoir

I have a blank page before me and don't know how to begin. I know I need to tell someone about some of the things that happened but I have to be reasonably careful, because I don't want others to get hurt. The people who have taken me in have been very kind, but I dare not tell them anything of what happened. Fortunately they have accepted my story as an actor who is down on his luck. I've also been helping around the house at repairing things and earning my keep, so they're not likely to notice anything.

For starters, I'm in my late thirties. I grew up in a household where you fixed things and made do with what you had. My father was quite adroit at mechanical objects so while we didn't have much he made it work so that my mother didn't have to work so hard.

Of the four of us siblings I took to doing things like my father did very readily, so often he had me as his assistant. Later, when I was old enough, he had me at the shop he worked at. The other mechanics weren't sure of having a kid hanging around where there was heavy machinery that could easily take off an arm or leg. But I proved to be sensible and alert, not prone to fooling around. I knew that when I had my cap and work overall on that I was to be serious and pay attention because one never knew for certain what Dad needed. Soon the other mechanics grew fond of my being there and I was soon running errands and helping them out when they needed an extra hand.

You probably wonder why a kid like me was allowed in such a place. At the time, it wasn't unusual for a kid or two to be there. They did the grunt work: fetching coffee or rags; carrying parts; holding tools ready for mechanics. But it was tough to be there. The shop was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Grease and dirt was everywhere and the place stank of old oil, sweat, and metal shavings. When I showed up there was a kid there who was nearly apprentice age that later on was thrown out because he had been caught stealing cast off metal to sell at the scrap yard. It was awful to see him being dragged out, beaten, then left out on the street to make his way. I never knew what happened to him, but I suspected that he found his way somewhere else to steal, because times were hard and we knew he had no family.

I worked at the shop diligently though the work was hard. I was earning a few extra kuleks for the family, which meant that we could have better food. When I was made an apprentice, we celebrated with a feast of roast chicken, potatoes, greens, and fresh milk. Milk! It was so good. I saved some to go with the dessert I had chosen: apple pie. It was a rare meal for us. I remember my brother and sisters wolfing theirs down and my mother being so proud of me.

My years as apprentice were not long. The shop foreman saw how well I did and how quickly I learned. When there was a call for a new job, he made sure I was with the crew. I did not always work beside my father, but he was proud of how well I did because he knew that I could go further than he. One night on the walk home he said, "Son, someday you will find your ship and it will take you to your dreams. Stay true to what you have learned from your mother and me, trust your heart, and you will go far."

I had little idea of where it would take me. One day the owner, Rupert H. D. Sandhurst, came through the shop. We had no idea he was coming. He was well known to the world as a man of adventure but very shrewd. When he spoke to others his ideas, often they would respond that they were impossible. But he would make them possible and it made him very rich. Our shop was but one of many he owned, but he felt it was important to meet the people who worked for him. "It is easy to lose sight of the world," he once said, "when you don't walk beyond the halls of your office." Mr Sandhurst walked through the shop and all work came to a standstill until he said, "Don't stop on account of me." "Get back at it!" shouted the foreman, and we bent to our jobs.

While I worked at grinding a part, Mr Sandhurst and the foreman came by. It made me nervous having him there and I fumbled the piece a little. "It's okay, boy," said Mr Sandhurst. "Don't mind my watching. I want to see how you do it."

"Sorry," I murmured, noticing the foreman looking anxious.

"If you like, sir," said the foreman, "there's a fella who can show ya how it's done."

"No," said Mr Sandhurst. "I've heard of this one. I want to see his work."

I gulped and nodded a little, turning back to grind the piece. It was a gear for the mainshaft of the ship we were building and my job was to clean up the piece before it went to the next man. It didn't take long when I forgot that Mr Sandhurst and the foreman were there. I took off the rough edges and polished the surface to the right consistency. I was about to pick up the next piece when the clean hand of Mr Sandhurst stopped me. I looked at him.

"You're Edmund Snitterton," asked Mr Sandhurst.

"Yes, sir," I said.

"Um hmm. How old are you, Snitterton?"

"Seventeen next Rose Day, sir."

"How long have you been prenticed here?"

I tried to think but the foreman blurted out the answer before I could speak. "Two and a half years, Mr Sandhurst."

"Really?" Mr Sandhurst smiled. "You started quite early, Snitterton. Remarkable."

"He's been quite the hand, sir," said the foreman. "You can thank his dad for that."

"Really? And who is his dad? Does he work here?"

"Yes, sir," said the foreman. "Roger Snitterton's his name."

Mr Sandhurst looked thoughful, then he shook my hand. "We will be talking soon, Snitterton. I have a few things I must take care of first. Borling, where is this other Snitterton?"

I watched as Mr Sandhurst and the foreman went to talk with my father. I had no idea what to think. What did Mr Sandhurst want with me? As I watched them talk, my father's grease-smudged face went from wary to pride to surprise. He looked at me then back at Mr Sandhurst, then he slowly nodded. When Mr Sandhurst and the foreman walked away, my father didn't look up at me. One of the mechanics went up to him, but he said nothing.

"Snitterton!" shouted the foreman. "Clean up and come to the office."

Monday, November 08, 2010

The box

During some cleaning I was doing in the attic I came across a small wooden box. It didn't look familiar so I pulled it out. A simple hook held it closed so I opened it. Inside was a sheaf of papers covered in writing. Further investigation revealed them to be the remnants of a memoir someone had intended on writing but never finished. The papers were fairly old, maybe from the sixties, but the tone of the writing made me think that the writer was well educated and somewhat well-to-do. I made some inquiries but nothing turned up any indication as to who the writer was. I can only speculate on the identity being a relative that had stayed at the house for some time but suddenly became too ill to continue the memoir.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The week as we know it

The glorious days of October have shifted to the changing weather of November. We were teased here this week with a couple of days of unusually warm temperatures then a storm came through with the usual fall rain and chill. The walks through the city are punctuated with the rustle of fallen leaves and the streets have a golden cast under the changing canopy. When I crossed the highest bridge in the city into downtown I could see the brilliant trees peeping through the concrete and steel. It makes me love this city even more.

On the knitting front, the Haruni shawl made the rounds and is on display at Cindy's shop window to help promote Sharon's yarn. A few people asked if it was for sale. When I quoted the price, the askers blanched. It was all dependent upon my getting the yarn again in the color I got for the original and I was not going to shortchange myself for the labor I put into the shawl.

With that project completed my focus is now on getting more things done for the upcoming employee craft fair being held in two weeks. My focus this year is on washcloths out of kitchen cotton and cat sock toys. The cloths are popular and cheap to make. The toys are fun and easy. It won't be a big money maker but it will give me some extra cash that I need to take care of some things around the house.

I have other things planned when the craft show is done. Christmas projects are nearly completed. The carder is waiting to be used for good. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Pretty Kitty Saturday

Sunny days are fewer. The chance to revel in its warmth is lesser. So the sunbath is more treasured.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fey Friday

1. Only because at the end of the day my brain is not functioning well. It's particularly more difficult at the beginning of the month because work's more intense.

2. I want to knit another sweater.

3. The Kauni sweater still languishes in my UFO pile. I'm working on the body and it's a hell of a lot of work. After a session on that sweater my hands are falling asleep because of the amount of tension I need to put on the yarns to do the color work. I know I should relax but the yarn is fingering weight and my continental knitting gauge has fewer stitches per inch than my English knitting gauge which would throw off the math.

6. I'm a big woman. The Kauni has lots of stitches. Throwing off the math is not an option.

7. I could be working on the Kauni but I have a craft fair in two weeks and more washcloths to crochet. My weekend will be devoted to crocheting and laundry.

8. It's supposed to rain this weekend. That's perfect weather for crafting. The radio will be on, I'll be crocheting away on washcloths. Or sewing up cat toys.

9. At least I won't be tempted to work on the Haruni shawl because it's done. It's beautiful, knit in StitchJones' Titanium Sock. I don't have other projects to lure me away from the washcloths. Maybe. I do have some fiber for making batts for Cindy's shop. Maybe when my hands need a break from the crocheting all the cotton.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I'm involved in a project with several of the PDX Knitbloggers where we all knit the Haruni shawl out of StitchJones Titanium Sock yarn. I finished mine last night and released it from its blocking wires and pins.

This could easily be set up to be a square tablecloth. I can see this done up in white yarn and draped over the tea table for afternoon tea.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The sentinels of the street have been touched by the coming chill

They dress in yellow, in gold, in copper
Never the same dress as the year before.
They wait, knowing as in years past, that soon the time to sleep will come.
The day has given them a chance to show their glory in the light of the afternoon sun.

In a brief moment, they flash themselves in a symphony of radiance.
The young, bearing only a few shreds of fabric, vie for
attention but are swallowed by the giants in their vast ensembles.
The wind pulls at the hems. Patches open and seams burst.
Soon the colors will fade, their memory burned only in the eyes of those who saw them.
All drop their raiment, building a carpet of fringe and sequins and embellishments tarnished by rain.

A walk under the skirts shuffles the tufts and shreds along the pavement.
The pageant comes to a close.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Rhinebeck Day 2

(warning: heavy photo content) Sunday I didn't set an alarm to go off so I slept in. Considering how tired I was the previous night it was good to get the rest. As it was I was up by 9 am and on my way back to the Dutchess County fairgrounds. I expected to be parking some ways from the entrance, but Asphalta, the goddess of parking, was very generous and gave me a place right next to the path that led to the entrance. The day before I had had a good spot but finding my vehicle when I was done was awful. Thank goodness for the horn button on the remote, else I would have been there for over an hour looking for it.

My focus on Sunday was taking pictures. I had no obligations so I was free to wander about and see what people had to offer. There were fewer people so it was much easier to see things and get around. Breakfast was one of the yummy chicken pot pies and coffee at the 4H booth. The wind wasn't as fierce as the day before but while I ate I still needed to wear my shawl. And there was plenty of people to watch walk by in their knits.

My first stop was at the farm implement museum. In a fenced off section stood a number of steam powered machines all fired up and running. There was a conveyor belt, a couple of water pumps, a planing saw, and a finishing saw. One man was taking logs of wood and running them through the planer then finishing off the edges to make planks. I was able to take one as a souvenir for Rod aka ToolMan to see if he could make some shawl pins out of it. The place was noisy with popping, farting, and hissing as the machines chugged away.

I worked my way through several buildings, fondling fiber, asking questions, and observing. I found a vendor who was selling custom made wheels using a Majacraft-type flyer. I found another vendor who was needlefelting fiber inside a cookie cutter. The range of colors available of fiber was dazzling. I snagged business cards from those vendors and others I wanted to follow up with later when I was more flush with cash and because the crowds were smaller I was able to talk with vendors about their products.

I made a stop at the livestock arena to see the sheep that were waiting their turn at the judging. Another building had been set aside to display different breeds of sheep. I took photos of the different breeds and most I can identify now but foolish me didn't take notes. There were certainly more breeds than I've seen here in the NW but there were also a few missing. Considering how many breeds of sheep there are there's a limit in how many you can show. The breed of the show was the Oxford, a breed I'm not familiar with, and the sheep there were quite nice.

After all the wandering around I decided to take a break. I found a bench set at a crossing of several paths and sat down to spin for a while on my new handspindle, the music of the Peruvian band wafting from nearby. It was a great fit for the fiber I had brought to play with, so I was churning out my single without any effort at all. Occasionally someone would slow down to watch and little kids were fascinated. A few people came up to me and asked me questions about spinning which I did my best to answer. The most interesting person was a woman who came to me and had me feel some white fiber in a baggie. It turned out to be Samoyed fur. I can see why people would spin it – it's so soft and has no smell at all.

I ended my day with a nice dinner and an early bedtime. The following day I wasn't going to leave until late in the afternoon, giving me time to visit my friend Sadelle and drive through the countryside to enjoy the fall colors. It was an exhausting but very enjoyable weekend. Would I go back? Not likely what with the crowds. If I do I'd most likely visit one of the other fiber festivals in the area and focus on meeting up with my friends. But Rhinebeck is still an experience I'll remember and say, "Yep, I've done it."

Monday, November 01, 2010

An exercise in interesting persistence

There's an event that occurs during November called National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. The goal of the endeavor is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month's time. Last year I thought about it but when the month came I was still too caught up in the details of my story to be able to begin it, so I quit. This year I'm not doing it but will try my hand at a similar exercise called National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). The goal is to write a blog post every day, which is easy. Writing a blog post every day and have the blog remain interesting is more difficult. So how does one try to do this?

Planning. Like any writing exercise, planning is vital to the success of the exercise. Like taking a trip you are making for the first time, you need to have some sort of map available to make sure you don't make a wrong turn somewhere or end up at a dead end. With blog writing, the tendency is for some folks to compose a diary of daily routines which for blog reading gets to be quite dull rather quickly. I want to push myself to 1) come up with an interesting set of subjects, 2) add variety to the postings (serious one day, silly another, interesting a third, etc.), and 3) explore deeper into areas that are part of my life.

I know I'm behind in my blog posting about Rhinebeck (I still have Day 2 to post) and that will be done soon. There will be days when my schedule dictates that I put in a short entry. I will have a picture day and a day of randomness. Sunday will still be my weekly roundup day. I will have some postings of my own musings on various subjects--nothing horribly controversial. I only hope that by the end of the month I will still have interesting things to say and share.

A blog is a personal thing. It's a public platform for a writer to share information. When you post something you take the risk of getting a response that you may not like. For some people that's not a risk they like to take and after a while the blog becomes staid or not updated for periods of time. But a blog doesn't have to arouse debate to be interesting. Fresh ideas and experiences lead readers to areas they were not aware of. A blog can be a window to a person's spirit but it can also be an ego-stroking device if carried too far. It's the challenge I have, and I hope I succeed in keeping it from being that.