Tuesday, December 25, 2012

If you are going to eat, eat well.

RiverPoet's Lobster Chowder

2 large or 3 small stalks celery, sliced thin
3 skinny carrots, sliced thin
2 small potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
2 lobster tails
4 tbsp butter
1-1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 c. half-and-half

Bring the veggies, broth, parsley and basil to a boil in a large saucepan. Simmer 30 minutes, or until veggies are almost soft. Remove from heat.

Cut the lobster into small chunks. Melt the butter in a saute pan, and add the lobster, paprika and turmeric. Saute pieces until opaque - this usually only takes a couple of minutes.

Add the lobster and butter to the veggies. SLOWLY stir in the half-and-half. Turn the heat back on LOW, and slowly heat everything to just barely a simmer. Stir frequently and do not boil.

Once heated through, serve immediately. Serves... theoretically two, or one very hungry person. (Makes two good-sized bowls.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Back on the road

It appears that I've got my health problems sorted for the moment. Who knew that it would take $$$-worth of tests to equate trouble breathing to asthma. Anyway, what is done is done. I'm doing the running/walking catch-up in one post.

Sun., Sept. 23: 6.2 mi
Tues., Sept. 25: 5.15 mi
Fri., Sept. 28: 5.25 mi
Sun., Sept. 30: 6 mi

... and with that lousy 6-mi slog of a walk, I took a break while I met several nice doctors, nurses, technicians, and testing apperati. Fast forward to life on inhalers...

Sun., Nov. 4: 6.25 mi  (benchmark pre-medication... yep, exercise still sucks)

Fri., Nov. 16: 1.2 mi. dog walk
Sat.. Nov. 17: 5.5 mi walk
Wed., Nov. 21: 1.2 mi dog walk
Thu., Nov. 22: 5.5 mi Thanksgiving walk
Sun., Nov. 25: 3.65 at Bee Tree + 1.35 mi dog walk = 5 mi
Wed., Nov. 28: 4.25 mi on the dreadmill. Oh joy.
Fri., Nov. 30: 5.5 mi + 1.25 dog walk = 6.75 mi

And... back to The Program, which includes the 4:45 am alarm settings. Woot.
Sun., Dec. 2: 6.1 mi
Tues., Dec. 4: 4.5 mi dreadmill
Wed., Dec. 5: 4.3 mi walk
Fri., Dec. 7: 6.1 mi
Sat., Dec. 8: 5.5 mi
Sun., Dec. 9: 7 mi walk w/A and Kev

Tues., Dec. 11: 5 mi dreadmill
Wed., Dec. 12: total of 12K between dreadmill run, dog walk, and dreadmill walk.
  ... yes... 12K on 12-12-12, including the 12:12pm dog walk. :-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Recent Work

I've been busy with master spinner program homework lately, but have been sneaking in some turning time. Recently off the lathe...

Walnut natural-edged bowl
Cherry natural-edged bowl
Ambrosia Maple bowl
Bloodwood (also called Satine) nostepinne... in my Etsy shop
Rock Maple lidded box. That stuff is aptly named.

Friday, November 9, 2012

As the Lathe Turns: Bowl Edition

I signed up for another woodturning class at the Craft Alliance, with instructor Matt Keim. It's been a lot of fun - I hadn't turned bowls since the first class, and was quite out of practice. But I'm remembering how much I love it.

Class 1: Thin-walled bowls
L to R: Tulip Poplar; Sycamore (finished); Sycamore (unfinished)
I turned the bowl in the center in class, then practiced on the piece I brought home (on the right). The one on the left is Tulip Poplar, and a particularly dark piece at that. The two on the left have been finished with butcher-block oil.

Class 2: Natural-edge bowls
Cherry bowl, finished
In the second class, we tackled natural-edge bowls. I got a lovely piece of cherry to work on (above). It is also finished with butcher-block oil.

For practice: I tackled a piece I'd hacked at a few times over the summer - also cherry - but was destroying, rather than creating. I finally worked up the nerve to mount that, and finish it up. Far from perfect, but better than it was - and not a pile of wood chips.
Cherry bowl, finished
And - I had a neat piece of mimosa that had a lovely grain when turned. Yada yada, BB-oil.
Mimosa bowl, finished
Class 3 was a walnut bowl... I need to turn the foot off that this weekend, and get it sanded and finished.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Functional art, and a piece of history

I drove out to Wellsville, MO this morning for a farm auction. A photo of a small gypsy-style wheel, likely German, caught my eye. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one bidding on it, and it went for way more than I had budgeted. But I did snap some photos for my own edification.

It was a very small wheel - maybe a 10" drive wheel - with a small footprint. It would have needed a bit of work to get spinning again, mainly fixing the split whorl and adding new treadle leather. And the bobbin was fused to the whorl... a bit of elbow grease to loosen that up. It did come with an extra bobbin and a half, which is very rare for old wheels. It had been painted, too - in reds, yellows and blacks. Hopefully the couple that got it can restore it and keep the remaining paint intact.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Acrylic - Not My Favorite

Working with acrylic makes just about everything else seem like butter. It is hard on my tools and I'm not a fan of the smell. But when it's all nice and shiny... it's amazing.

Off the lathe recently...

Pacific Yew on left, blue acrylic (for Paul) on right
Bottom two - various laminated woods, top is acrylic
Shiny needle cases in acrylic (available on my Etsy site)
Quick rehash of recent run/walking... still trying to figure out why I can't run well recently:

Sat., Aug 25: 3.5mi walk during Clean Stream event
Sun., Aug: 26: 5.5 mi walk

Week of Aug. 27: 5.25 mi Tuesday, 5 mi Wednesday, 5.55 mi Friday, 5.25 mi Sunday
Week of Sept. 3: 4.3 mi Tuesday, 5.25 mi Wednesday, 5 mi Friday, 6.2 mi Sunday
Week of Sept. 10: 5.3 mi Tuesday, 5 mi Wednesday, 5.05 mi Saturday, 5.2 mi Sunday
Week of Sept. 17: 5.35 mi Tuesday, 5.25 mi Wednesday, 5 mi Friday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praise for Icelandic Sheep

At some point along the fiber-collecting road, I ended up with some commercial Icelandic roving. It was a pretty steel-wool gray color, and felt about the same. I wasn't so much impressed.

Fast-forward to working on my Master Spinner Program level-one homework. Part of it is a breed study, where you select 10 breeds, start with raw fleece, and work your way through scouring, prepping, spinning, and a small knitted sample. I tried to spread my breed selections out across a wide range of sheep (and fleece) types. One we had gotten samples of in class was Navajo Churro, and I knew I had more at home so I'd have enough to include that one. Except... my own stash of 4oz was nowhere to be found.

So. On to a substitution. To stay within the same type, I looked at other sheep with primitive or dual-coated fleeces, and decided on Icelandic. The sheep themselves are cute as all get-out, and I wanted to see if my initial impression of that commercial roving was correct or not.

Photo from ncwga.org

Icelandic sheep first ended up in Iceland thanks to the Vikings, who brought along sheep belonging to the Northern European short-tailed sheep family way back in the ninth and tenth century.  There has been little change or 'improvement' during the intervening years... intentionally. They are hardy, intelligent little sheep that apparently tend to exhibit a bit of personality.

In Iceland, most of the income from these sheep comes from the meat trade. But the wool fiber is highly valued too, both there and around the world.  The fleece has two layers... an outer coat called tog, which is longer and coarser. The undercoat, thel, is short and soft. They can be spun together, but often the coats are separated. The tog can be spun for stronger fiber needed for durable items, while the thel can be soft enough to use for next-to-skin items.

For class, I got both a lamb fleece and an adult fleece. The lamb fleece is incredibly soft, and I'll likely spin both coats together.

Lamb fleece

Staples from lamb fleece

The adult fleece has better definition between tog and thel and I'll be separating those coats out for spinning.

Adult fleece
Staples from adult fleece (those boards are 6" wide)

Both fleeces are from Sunrise Sheep and Wool, and I highly recommend them - they are in lovely shape.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Guess it Had to Happen...

If you own a lathe, you have to make a pen. I think that's written down somewhere. But, after making a bunch of spinning tools, I finally made pens. And a stylus with a pen inside.

Acrylic stylus/pen at top, then Canarywood, and Bois de Rose.
I also made some new needle holders, and additional stylus-pens - they're all up on my Etsy site, RiverPoet Fiber and Yarn.

Quilted Maple needle holder
Figured Pyinma stylus with telescoping pen

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Run for Your Lives

We went, we ran, we died.  :-)

The 'Run for Your Lives' 5K was billed as an obstacle course where you are also chased by zombies. Sounded fun! There was a steep entry fee, but seeing everything they had to bring in and set up, I can understand it better in hindsight. There was also a $10 parking fee, but... Subarus got to park for free. Heh.

The future undead.
Waves went off every half-hour, to spread the people out on the course. It was partly open fields (DUST), partly wooded trails that seemed to have recently been made or widened with a DR brush mower (DUST and root snags). Oh, and the obstacles and zombies. Some zombies just shuffled around, but others actively tried to grab one of the three flags on your flag-football-style belt. No flags at the end = dead and zombiefied after you cross the finish line.
Mah flags - now you see them, soon you won't.
The obstacles included sandwich-board-style walls to climb over, then wood beams to go under; a shack-type thing with a maze inside that also had zombies in it; a slimy mud pit; another shack-type thing you climbed into where it was dark inside... the piped-in "fog" didn't help... and electrified wires hanging from the ceiling. (I made it through that one OK, but Paul got zapped several times.) Near the end there was a large structure to climb with a water slide down the other side, little wooden things you had to crawl through on your knees in the mud, and then last you had to slide under, flat on your stomach, some horizontal chain link fence that they said was electrified, but I hit it twice with my head and nothing happened.

Live people are eligible for time-based awards, and dead aren't, but we all got the same medal. Theoretically there were "health packs" on the course with additional flags, but neither of us saw any sign of one. Not that I was in competition for an award anyway! So no matter. Stand in a long line for a cold shower with about 40 of your best friends, with water pumped direct from a tanker truck, and try to discreetly rinse out the mud that got INSIDE your shorts. Muddy shoes got dumped in a large pile - they'd be cleaned up and re-purposed through Project Sole.
See mine? They're right there... near the top...
All in all it was a lot of fun. I did pop my bad hamstring again... we'll see how long that takes to heal. Right now I have to lift my left leg to go up stairs and can't sit for very long - it's that spot right at the top where the hamstring attaches to your butt. Painful to sit at all. And my bad right shoulder is sore, probably from grabbing the tree to break my fall, when I dodged a zombie, caught a root with my toe, and torqued the hamstring.

But the zombies were all made up professionally by the race production company, and most of them looked pretty darn convincing. They did put a LOT of work into making the race happen. Advice to anyone who wants to do it, if they have it here again: take an early wave start.  :-)

Oh, and remember the rules:

1. Cardio
2. Doubletap
3. Beware of bathrooms

Since I probably will take a week or so off to let the hammie heal up...

Wed., 8/1: 5.5 mi
Friday: 5.5 mi
Sunday: 5.35 mi

Tues. 8/7: 5.5mi
Wednesday: 5 mi
Friday: 5.5 mi run, 1 mi dog-walk
Sunday: 7 mi

Tues., 8/14: 5.5 mi
Wednesday: 5.25 mi
Friday: 5.5 mi
Saturday: 5K zombie run, plus walking... total 5 mi

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back to School

I'm way overdue for a report, so... here it is!

The last week of July I was up in Michigan for spinner's camp... or more formally, the Olds College Master Spinner Program Level 1. Last fall, I heard that The Spinning Loft in Howell, MI was going to start hosting the classes. As that's about 30 minutes from Ann Arbor, I could stay with my family and drive up for class, getting a nice visit and some education all at the same time. I was able to get registered for it (there was quite the demand!), and made plans to head up.

Because of the extensive supply list, I was glad I was able to drive. Even though I have my cute new travel wheel, the rest of the gear would have needed to be shipped ahead if I had flown. For the record - it is 546 miles one-way from my house to Mom and Dad's.

Nope - still didn't step on it.
I went up early so we could pay homage to the Art Fair (three fairs in one,  and MUCH bigger than it used to be), and hang out with family. Then on Monday the 23rd, I drove up for my first day of class. We had instruction from 9am to 4pm all week, plus homework most nights, and rarely were we done by 4pm. Great classmates, wonderful instructor (Coleen Nimetz), lots to do and practice, and surrounded by raw fleece and fiber toys. What a great way to spend a 'vacation'!

Fleece drying outside the shop.

A bit chaotic, but that's half the fun! And that's Tess up front.

We sorted fleece, we spun different ways, we dyed many the things... and this was all to get us ready for our homework/self-study. I've got a big list of things to complete before I can sent my notebooks in for grading. (And I'm sure I'll be posting about it more as I complete assignments.) It will be a fun and busy autumn, and I'm already looking forward to continuing on to Level 2 some time next year - I'll be signing up as soon as it's posted.

The class of 2018 with Coleen!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quickie Running Update

It's been so bloody hot here - usually in the 70s at 5:30am, and humidity so thick it feels like breathing under water. But, still getting out there. I had a brief interruption when I went to Michigan last week and was in class all day and had homework at night. Oh, and some weird knee pain in my right leg. But plenty of rest has the knee better, even if the STL weather still sucks rocks.

Hey summer... are we done yet?

Sat., June 30: 5.3 mi walk in 1:14:31
Tues., July 3: 6.0 mi in 1:08:16
Wed.: 6.25 mi run/walk in 1:23:36
Fri.: 5.25 mi in 1:04:07
Sun.: 6.25 mi run/walk in 1:22:55

Tues., July 10: 6.0 mi in 1:08:11 (5 mi = 56:40)
Wed.: 5.55 mi in 1:04:59
Fri.: 6.0 mi in 1:08:40 (5 mi = 57:40)
Sat.: 5.5 mi walk in 1:18:49 (5 mi = 1:11:11)
Sun.: 3.1 mi (5K) on the ELM in 43:30

Tues., July 17: 5.5 mi in 1:05:40
Wed.: 5.2 mi in 1:02:29
Fri.: 5.0 mi in Ann Arbor
Sat.: walked 4.5 mi around Art Fair
Sun.: 7.0 mi run/walk at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor

Sat., July 28: 1.5 mi walk with Mom and Madi
Tues., July 31: 5.25 mi back in STL

Oh, you'll notice I stopped recording times. It's hot, and they suck, so no point!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Meet Tess

She is here! Meet Tess. She's a Carson Cooper Sabrina, a small folding travel wheel, made specially for me in birds-eye maple and camphor burl. She's a sweet little wheel.

Tess - a Carson Cooper Sabrina folding wheel
Front view
She's going to accompany me up to Michigan in July, when I head to The Spinning Loft in Howell, Michigan for the first level of the Master Spinner Program. We've already had fun getting to know each other. Again, I seem to default to spinning thing on every wheel.

Testing different fibers
Did I mention she's small but mighty?

Spinning on the deck
Despite the current record heat, I've been keeping to The Schedule. Catching up a bit...

Sunday, June 10: 5 mi on the Elliptical Machine of Death in 68:17
Tues., June 12: 5.5 mi in 5:03:37 (5 mi = 57:17)
Wed., June 13: 6 mi in 1:07:53
Fri., June 15: 6 mi in 1:07:50 (5 mi = 56:29)
Sat., June 16: 5.5 mi walk in 1:16:31
Sun., June 17: 5.5 mi run/walk in 1:08:19 (hot)

Tues., June 19: 6 mi in 1:09:58 (still hot)
Wed., June 20: 5 mi on the EMD in 71:51
Fri., June 22: 6 mi in 1:09:11 (5 mi = 57:03) ... still slowing down
Sat., June 23: 6.2 mi in 1:13:59 (5 mi = 59:30) ... still wfhot
Sun., June 24: 5.3 mi walk in 1:14:31

Tues.: 6 mi in 1:05:56 (5 mi = 55:10)
Wed.: 6 mi in 1:10:17
Fri.: 5.6 mi in 1:04:23

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Muddling Through

More fun at the lathe... I made some muddlers (those things you use to smash the heck out mint, in search of the perfect mojito).  And, while I was down there, I had a try at my first spindle. This one is a supported spindle, is 11" long, and weighs 27.5gm.

... so now I guess I need to get better at my supported-spindling.

All in blue mahoe wood from Puerto Rico:

Muddler, spindle, muddler
Spindle, muddler, muddler
Why I kept wanting to type "Mulder", as in X-Files, I have no idea.

Catching up on that avoiding-the-fat thing... running. I'm quite peeved that I'm getting slower rather than faster. So today I went out and walked - as in, WALKED - my Carondolet Park route. More muscle-tired, less overall-tired, which was fine since I spent the afternoon standing in front of the lathe. The summary since last time:

Tuesday, May 29: 5.5 mi in 1:03:22 (5 mi = 56:29)
Wed., May 30: 5.6 mi in ?? (watch fuckup)
Friday, June 1: 6 mi in 1:07:08 (5 mi = 56:03)
Sat., June 2: 6.2 mi in 1:11:21  (5 mi = 57:49)
Sun., June 3: did a 5.5mi run at CCL, then kayaked another 4 mi around the lake

Tue: 6 mi in 1:08:12 (5 mi = 56:44)
Wed: 5.5 mi in 1:03:30 (5 mi = 57:32)
Fri: 5.5 mi in 1:02:49 (5 mi = 57:01)
Sat: 6.25 mi power-walk in 1:24:55

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nostepinnes... get your nostepinnes...

The nostepinne test cases continue - and I think I've hit on a design I like. Up to now, I've completed four of various sizes:

From the top, that's honey locust, osage orange, purpleheart and flame birch. At first I thought the top two might be too large, but then I compared the winding end to my NKK ball winder, and... these are definitely still smaller.

Circumference of narrowest end and widest end of several winding tools.
And, yes, smaller than a Northern toilet paper roll tube, too. (Hey - those are useful for storing samples and small lots of yarn.) So today, I embarked on a quest to try and hit the perfect size. Work in progress...

Making a lot of wood shavings, definitely.
Nostepinne in progress
The final result - good proportions between a comfortable handle and good-sized winding end, along with the requisite yarn-notch for starting the ball, and a built-in half-inch WPI (wraps per inch) gauge just above the handle. And, I just love birdseye maple anyway.

Look at all of those eyes!
Birdseye Maple Nostepinne
I finally finished plying some yarn, too - this is Bugga! Fiber from Cephalopod Yarns in the Panoply of Heaven colorway. Ended up with 558 yds/115gm of 2-ply light fingering weight.

Latest handspun yarn - a superwash merino/cashmere/nylon blend.
 Running... I met Adrienne and Kevin at Queeny Park on Sunday, for a nice romp through the park in the heat. It was about 77F when we started, and when I finished my 8 miles, 90F. It was great to see them both again.

Sunday: 8 mi @ Queeny Park (with Kevin and A) - walk/run

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Butterfly Wings


On Friday, management said we could log off early for the holiday weekend. I decided to do just that (especially as I'd already gotten my 40 hrs in last week). While the computer was disconnecting from my remote session, I decided to take out some boxes to the bins in the alley.

Walking out, I happened to look over at the pond… and saw something odd. Dropped the boxes and went to take a look, and then realized - a baby bunny had somehow fallen in and was swimming for its life. It came around to me and I lifted it out. I have no idea how long it had been in there, or how much longer it would have been able to swim.

If I hadn’t decided to log off and take out some trash…

Baby bunny I rescued from the pond.
 I dried the poor thing off and made sure it was still breathing. I know bunnies can scare easily, especially palm-sized baby ones, so I tucked it under some plants in my neighbor’s yard (no dogs there), along with a few baby carrots.

About two hours later, I decided to check on it - if it was still there and alive, I'd offer up some of the broccoli leaves that the rabbits have been ravaging this spring. If it didn't make it, I'd be having a bunny burial. I went out, and it was not where I'd left it. I checked around the alley and garages, but no baby bunny. Hopefully it made its way back to its den, or better shelter. (I haven't seen the bunny-stealing crows lately, so I'm hoping it was safe from them, too.)

Catching up on that running stuff... most mornings have been great lately, but just recently it got hot again. I did manage to have Dr. Debbie ART away the glute pain I've been having. Turns out it was my right hip, and everything just went to hell from there.

Friday, May 11:  5.75 mi in 1:03:32 (5 mi = 55:19)
Sat., May 12: 7.0 mi at Queeny in 1:27
Sun., May 13: 4.5 mi in 52:56

Tues., May 15: 6.0 mi in 1:08:11 (5 mi = 56:58)
Wed., May 16: 5.25 mi in 59:00 (5 mi = 56:18)
Fri., May 18: 5.75 mi in 1:04:28 (5 mi = 55:52)
Sat., May 19: 5.5 mi in 1:14:34 w/Kevin @ Fenton City Park
Sun., May 20: 5.5 mi in 1:06:20 (HOT!)

Tuesday: 6.0 mi in 1:06:41 (5 mi = 55:48)
Wednesday: 5.5 mi in 1:02:08 (5 mi = 56:28)
Friday: 6.0 mi in 1:08:18 (5 = 58:48; 5.5 = 1:02:32) - hot and humid

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pretty AND Functional

The grinder is working great - sharp tools are sharp. And, I still feel like a badass every time I use it.

The sparks really don't hurt.
I roughed out a piece of osage orange, and made a nostepinne. Nostepinnes are an old-school way of winding yarn into center-pull balls for use. These days most people use ball winders where you just turn a handle, but nostepinnes are more portable. And it's fun to use one and confuse the muggles.

Osage Orange nostepinne

I'm using this one to refine the design and measurements. I like the handle and the winder-end length seems good. But I'll wind some yarn and see if I need to tweak the size at all.

Running... had a HORRIBLE run last week. Felt like my right hamstring had totally seized up. Got in to see Dr. Debbie, and she performed some ART magic on my right hip. I'm also using a foam roller and doing some new stretches. So far, not getting worse, so we'll see how it goes.

Friday, April 27: 5.5 mi in 1:03: 13
Saturday, April 28: 5.5 mi walk in 1:11:25
Sunday, April 29: 5.75 mi in 1:05:04 (5 mi = 56:42)

Tuesday, May 1: 5.25 mi dreadmiles in 1:07  (rain!!)
Wednesday, May 2: 5.25 mi in 1:06:05... the run from hamstring hell
Friday: 5.25 mi in 1:03:10 (5 mi = 57:20)
Saturday: took a kayak (Anna) up to Creve Coeur Lake for an hour + paddle
Sunday: 7.2 mi in 1:31:43 (hot and humid - walked about 2 mi total of that)

Tuesday: 5.75 mi in 1:05:15 (5 mi = 56:55)
Wednesday: 5.5 mi in 1:03:04