Monday, October 27, 2008

Old Hallow's Eve

This year Halloween came a little early, our family hosted a wonderous Halloween celebration on the eve of October 25th. I didn't get the ideal photo of Ava in her costume, but it was a rush, rush situation as Chris came home from work and I tended to people in and out of the hair and makeup chair, ending with Chris at Home Depot 10 minutes before we left, to get rivets for his mask...The need for a flash in the dark conditions left me with less than desirable photos, forgive me!
Ahh, my "leave it until the last minute" husband and I can clack horns. I am a "do it as far in advance as possible" type and he is the opposite...I guess opposites attract. Getting ready for this party tested that theory though!
I was impressed with his creation, he sculpted the mask from clay, made an Ultra-Cal mold and then cast it in fiberglass, before hand trimming and painting it.
He applied a black mesh to the insides of the eyes for added mystery...
I sewed the suit, after much deliberation and several trips to the fabric store over the color of the fur... "We are doing this once and we are doing it right!" was the quote from my husband. He struggles with perfectionism a bit sometimes...
I would like to never work with faux fur fabric again, especially in the creation of a full body suit and hood for a 6'3" man. Fuzzy, sheddy, whole house needed dusting.
We arrived at the "cemetery" to my father in law in full regalia, ushering folks into the backyard circus tent for the party. Some haunts met us along the way-some too gruesome to show!
My Dad and my sister arrived, bedecked in some Halloween finery. I think my sister's lacrosse socks really complete her pumpkin ensemble. Ava couldn't contain herself over the sight of her Auntie Poopkins as a pumpkin-2 of her favorite things in one!!
Anyone still wondering what became of that sheep hair?!?
Behold, we fashioned it into headpieces and a cape for a white witch, from the Chronicles of Narnia. My sister-in-law did a great job with the rest of her costume and she really looked the part-the dark contact lenses never fail to disturb!
Well here is Ava's first Halloween suit: a tiny little garden Gnome! She was so cute with those ears and cheeks. Just a little fleece tunic and hat I whipped up from my stash, some buttons, ric rac and a pair of leggings.
Ava ended up on my back in, you guessed it, the backpack, festooned with burlap and all of my garden implements-you know because I was a garden Gnome as well, and what good is a garden Gnome without her watering can, trowel and tiny rake?!?
Ava carried her little pumpkin flashlight her dad gave her, all night. She wouldn't put it down. It illuminated her little face in a bewitching way.
We didn't stay too long, we had to get this little Elf to bed, but we enjoyed seeing every one's costumes, a bit of light dancing and the sour-sweet wind that started howling as the night wore on...A nice preview to the real Halloween.
Ava carried her little flashlight all the way home in her car seat, illuminating the back seat with warm light and the sound of her astonished coos.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few More of My Favorite Things...

A few of my favorite things aren't things. They are people. People like my sister and my daughter. These two extraordinarily special people are extra special when wrapped in fleece, boots and in the company of one super precious canine pal. They are all triple special when gathered together for a long, leisurely, warm & sunny walk in the crisp autumn Maine woods.
Though most of the leaves have fallen in the past few days, there were a few stubborn beauties, hanging on to their youthful colors. Kind of reminded me of my sister and I-you know, not giving in to aging-not succumbing. Not yet anyway!
Beech trees wearing yellow...
Alders going to seed...
Oaks donning a red blush...
Birches going for the minimalist look...Ghosty and Halloweeny-it's what all the birches are wearing this season...
My recent doctor ordered Lyme disease lab test just came back negative yesterday-so what do I do to celebrate?!? Head into the woods of course and wade blissfully through the tall marshy grass, just where the ticks roam! I mean really, can someone tell whoever is in charge-Mother Nature perhaps-that the planet really doesn't need ticks!?! I am no biologist, but I am pretty sure they don't really positively impact any eco -system enough to be beneficial!! Hideous creatures.
My outdoor savvy, wildlife biologist sister checked that I had tucked my jeans into my socks and offered me her sassy Kelley green "rubbah" boots to wear, to protect me. They even have a hot pink lining! What a woman she is.
We spent a few hours soaking it in, being led by our official scout, Nuala-the bionic dog. Really. This gal has more metal in her new knees than a robot. Or is it her hips? Elbows? I am not clear on the anatomical labels for the canine species... My sister will be ashamed that I can't recall this very important detail of her child's life experience...
Here she is, sniffing ahead, just to make sure the coast is clear.
My sister has been keeping tabs on the resident beaver(s) in these parts-making sure they don't get into trouble. She showed us many signs of their industrious work.
She even went so far as to do a little work on one of the dams the beavers have built. Never one to shirk getting dirty, she got right in there. With purpose. With passion. I thought we might lose her in the current. Her camera was gingerly extracted from her coat pocket by a branch she had employed as a tool-luckily it narrowly escaped certain doom by a tiny side branch. What an adventure!
All this and we were treading dangerously into nap time for Ava, who all the while rode on my back in her new best friend (and my back's new foe!), the backpack.
I can't remember the last time I wasn't ginger around a mud puddle-the last time I waded right in...
It was a throw back to our childhood in the O-O land. (You had to be there-a few of you may have visited, but for those of you who haven't had the distinct privilege, the experience involved a stream on our childhood home's property, an inordinate amount of skunk cabbage and a few strong sticks...)
My grown sister and I standing in rubbah boots, in a puddle, with my daughter on my back. How often does that happen? A sweet thing, I think.
Upon return to my sister's house, we sat in a leaf pile to reflect on our travels.
Someday, these will be our old days. Let's make them worth remembering...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy...

I have been busy, busy, busy. Sewing, knitting, cooking, cleaning, reading, mothering..Have we discussed that the holidays are coming?!? That means many a gift to make!! According to strict Santa policies of confidentiality and "no peeking", I cannot disclose the recipients of some of these items, or the purpose of others, of course Halloween is the first holiday to arrive and one of these pictures reveals a secret portion of an un-named someone's costume... The pumpkin hat finally is finished, and it fits the head of a special 11 month old-not the pumpkin outside, not the cat, but the actual baby!! The ribbing is a bit off, I must have lost my paying attention skills, but it is even all along the edge, and it fits. I didn't use a pattern, I kind of made it up as I went along-it went something like this:use a size 6 or 7 US circular needle and any orange yarn you have in your stash. To start:k1p1 for 4inches, then work in st st for an inch or so, until the measurement from the CO edge will reach the top of the intended wearers' forehead. (approximately!) Start decreasing: k6 k2tog, to end. Next row: k1p1 to end. Next row:k5 k2tog to end, next row:k1p1 to end, next row: k4 k2tog until end, next row:k1p1 to end, next row:k3k2tog, next row:k1p1, next row:k1p1 to end, next row:k2 k2tog to end, (I switched to green yarn somewhere here, I think there is an actual term for this?!?) one more row of k1p1, next row:k1 k2tog, to end. You may have to wing it at the end-I ended up slip knotting, or working the last green stitch repeatedly until I had a little tail. (I am sure there is a term for this as well!) I cut the ball end of the yarn a bit long and tied some knots in the end. Turn hat inside out and sew up the back seam, roll the green stem in half and sew that up too, so it is a bit more stiff. Disclaimer: I am really in no position to give out knitting advice-I am a very beginning knitress and am still mostly struggling myself. Please consult a more experienced knitter, or your better judgement prior to using my pattern notes!! I wouldn't want anyone to have their hat not meet their expectations on account of my inexperience!! Ava actually loves this one-she doesn't tear it off immediately. She "asks" for it during meal times. So okay, my daughter now wears a pumpkin hat in her high chair at lunch. Not the vision I had for meal time attire, but I will pick my battles. Let's just say that a very hairy Icelandic sheep was sheared for this project-stay tuned for the reveal. Of course the sheep was not harmed in the collection of it's wool-an actual sheep farmer did the shearing. Okay, I am off-no time to chat, there are scarves to knit, hats to sew, cookies to bake, costumes to finish, a wood stove to hook up, a vintage camper to finish re-building (we will talk about this later) and laundry piling up! My dad and step-mom are coming home from England and I will need to bring Ava over for a catch up visit. I have to go "fastah", I gotta go!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Maine Island Wedding-Part Two

We were also guests of the wedding on Peaks Island, the bride and groom being old friends of ours, and the groom was in Chris' last band. So back on the ferry we went, this time without the car but with Chris and a bit prettier than the day before.
The wedding was great fun and we saw many folks whom we hadn't seen in a while-it was good to see people from our "old" life.
I must admit I enjoyed donning a gold strappy heel, a sparkly necklace and floaty gold silk shirt for the occasion. It sure sassed up my usual jeans or yoga pants with tank and sweater uniform! I felt the vestiges of my old self sighing with relief and glee, every time I glanced down at my sparkly shoes. "I am still in here!" she whispered...
The tent was cozy and warm when the sun went down and all the candles were lit. Ava stayed up late and enjoyed playing peek -a -boo with a dinner napkin and her aunties and uncles. Chris may have had a bit too much to drink, but I don't think anyone noticed but me.
We raced to catch the 7:40 p.m. ferry back to the main land in order to get Ava to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour. This time we stood outside on the ferry, with Ava all bundled up in a fleece cape and hat, me with my scarf and Chris handsome in his wool suit. We watched the night water slide by, Ava looked up and caught sight of the moon, for the second time in her life. She started shaking and frantically grunting to us. "Mooo!" she squealed, pointing to the sky. Her third official word, we'll count it. "Yes, that is the moon" we replied. Ava's moon.
We changed her into her jammies back in the parking garage at the ferry terminal-before I could even buckle her into her car seat, she was fast asleep.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Maine Island Wedding-Part One

I did the flowers for a wedding on Peaks Island over Columbus Day weekend-with some of my favorite flowers and colors. It was a Quaker wedding ceremony and the Meeting house needed a few bittersweet wreaths for the doors, tied with grosgrain sage green ribbon. Here they are waiting on my "hand made" wreath holder during assembly. Okay, it was more like, "Where can I possibly put these while I finish the other floral arrangements!?!"My "workshop"-otherwise known as the garage, was a bit full. Well it is always full, I had to carve out a strip of workspace among the zillion other things going on in there...
The groom's boutonniere turned out just right, hypericum berries, a sprig of juniper and seeded eucalyptus. The bride's bouquet was the stunner of all the flowers, and the one thing I didn't get a picture of...perhaps someone else got a good one and will send it along to me?!? It had cockscomb in cranberry color, juniper with blue berries, green and red variegated begonia leaves, red roses, bittersweet, dahlias, mums and seeded eucalyptus, so pretty, textural and unusual. I grew the begonia plants all summer to make sure we would have just the leaves the bride wanted.Ava wasn't too thrilled about the ferry ride to the island on Friday to deliver the flowers, but we made it. It was her first ferry ride, but does it count if you are in the car?!? We had to stay in our car, perhaps she would have rather been out in the salty air...
I was able to cut the quince from my yard and use in the centerpieces, luckily, I was able to cut a lot of things, bittersweet, hydrangeas, rose hips, ornamental grass (thanks to my garden, my neighbor's garden and her assistance on a commando bittersweet run!), crab apple branches, choke berries and apple branches.
The centerpieces were in vintage ironstone soup tureens the bride gathered at flea markets, antique shops and yard sales all summer. They were sumptuous, spriggy, wild and so fun to make.

Once on the tables, under the tent on the island, the flowers really made an impact, I was so pleased with how they came out. Best of all, the bride was elated, and that is always my main goal, to surprise and delight the client. They were just what she wanted, she told me-and a happy bride makes me happy. Each table was named after a different beer that is made by the brewery where the groom is a master brewer-clever!

Ava was a sweet trooper, riding on my back for 5 hours (interrupted by diaper changes, tasty meals and play breaks), squealing with delight and "singing" while I ironed table cloths, set out candles and centerpieces and put favors on tables.

I was a bit unclear on just how I was going to accomplish this delivery and set up day with a baby...It boosts my mama confidence when I figure it out and it goes really well...a little confirmation that I can be my old self and be a mommy too. A very good thing indeed. Did I mention that life is sweet!?!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fryeburg Fair Adventure

We recently took Ava to the Fryeburg Fair-we usually miss it because we are in Quebec for our anniversary. This year we opted to stay closer to home, what with a mobile baby and all. The cobble stone streets and hilly landscape of Quebec is so endearing to us, but logistically not so compatible with a trying to walk (all the time) baby and a stroller. I don't think either of us is up to carrying around a 22 pound human in a backpack or front pack for 8 hours a day either. (I admire those who hike the Appalachian Trail with babes in tow-I know, it can be done...)
After this outing, when asked what a sheep says, Ava does her best rendition of, "Baaa" which sounds a bit more like "Ahhh" or a coffee maker finishing it's brewing. We of course, think it is just perfect.
Really we knew our little owl would love the livestock at the fair more than the steak and frite in Quebec, so we geared up for a day in western Maine, some old stomping grounds from when we were just the two of us.
Behold! A smorgasbord of delight!
I love the view, the smell of this place-look at their pumpkins! My former visual merchandising self loves the way they are displayed, all stacked by type-I usually don't see them so organized. My crazy self likes boundaries, tidiness, definition-this pumpkin display soothed my soul!
A few sweet goats, all snuggled up-reminds me that we are 3 now too.
This little lonely dollop of a piglet reminded me of how small Ava still is and how big a world this is for her...
And the mama pig with her other babes just nearby, makes me proud of that little pig on it's own. It reminded me that it is really important to strike out on your own, break away from the pack and follow your heart. This pigpen of life is our oyster, we only have to harness the bravery to crack it open to get the treasure.