And the road goes on forever...

Friday, December 13, 2019

I'm Off and Running With a New Avocation

First, let me make it perfectly clear I am by no means any kind of “artist”, nor do I have any training. Somehow, I managed to muddle through strengthening a creative streak with my jewelry and then my fabric basket making and have enjoyed some local success at selling these items. I do it primarily as a support for the Humane Society I volunteer for, as a stress reliever, a time-consumer and because I like things that are unique and made by hand.
Just within the past year though, I was having enough problem and pain with the thumb joint of my left hand that I finally saw a hand specialist the first part of December. The outlook is not good. I have late stage 3 (out of 4) osteoarthritis and the joint is not only bone-on-bone but has also grown and thrown off two large bone spurs. The doctor recommends surgery but the recovery time from that, 12 weeks, is so extensive there is no way I can ever consider it until Marc retires and can take over running the household for that period of time. So, for now, I wear a brace and will most likely suck up a cortisone shot soon.
The upshot of all this is that certain movements have almost become prohibitive and wrapping the fabric around the cord to make my baskets is one of them. Although I managed to make quite a few baskets and jewelry for the Fall sale, it was an arduous task.
I was looking for other endeavors I might pursue and have intensely grown an interest in fiber arts. Especially, trying my hand at landscape wall hangings and needle felting. I use applique technique, embellish things with yarns, Sari silk, buttons, embroidery, beading—anything I think can add interest and whimsy to a piece.

Pinterest and You Tube are wonderful things when one is trying to learn new skills on a self-taught basis! My attempts are amateur at best but it is a highly engaging activity that can suck up an entire day in pursuing an idea and bringing it to some sort of form. I lack quilting skills so need to take time to study and practice, practice, practice, free form stitching (an art in itself) and maybe one day I’ll produce items good enough to be sold for the shelter.

My very first attempt with its inspiration photo:

And a special one for Rachael of a highland cow named Ballow, that we met at Loch Ness in Scotland long ago, and one for my son and his wife on their favorite sport, crabbing on the Oregon coast.
Since those, my latest creations have been centered around needle felting or a combination of that with applique. It's all great fun!

To finish off, this is today's creation using vintage handkerchief and hand embroidered applique some long ago person painstakingly and meticulously threaded onto linen. I added some slight beading and Sari silk ribbon. I try to upcycle as many old materials as I can where appropriate as half the fun is scouring them out.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Hideout at the Shore

October 25th to the 27th became our final camp out of the year as we headed towards Lake Michigan’s shoreline just north of Two Rivers at Point Beach State Forest. This property runs amid miles of shoreline and older growth forest and is one of WI’s most popular, staying full most weekends through October. Since we arrived before noon on a Friday there were a handful of 30-amp hookup spaces still available that hadn’t been reserved. Also, because temp’s lakeshore run a few degrees warmer and the trees were later to turn, the area was just peaking in terms of its fall color. I’m a sucker for Fall, so enjoyed this tremendously. An all-night Saturday evening rain brought an end to the peak and by the time we left Sunday, many more leaves lay on the ground.
This park is renowned for its paved trail, open to bikes and hikers, which runs all the way into Manitowoc, a distance of about 12 miles. In addition, there are many off-road trails in the park, which loop in various directions and along the shoreline. We took off on one and ended up at the kayak site camping area. These sites allow for one night’s stay for those kayakers who are traversing or traveling along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
We hiked about 3 miles on various terrain, taking in the views, lighthouse, pond swales, fall colors and towering trees. The CCC built much of this area (and others, see last photo) during the late 1930’s and planted over 650,000 trees. It’s all very natural in appearance and lacks the plantation look that so many forests in WI express. The large building now houses a Nature Center and small restaurant. It would have been nice to hike further but I think I am developing arthritis in my right hip and it was expressing itself quite liberally for me to call a halt to what I was doing!
It was Sunday just before we left that I found Lake Michigan with the waves I had come to enjoy. It brought back the sound if not the smell, of the great Pacific, which we’ve both missed immensely. 
By the time this trip rolled around, we had made the furniture changes to the RV we were hoping to do and it provided so much more comfort! Huge dinette, gone; in its place my re-stained round table with two chairs still in need of matching stain. The hideabed and two barrel chairs also gone, and two full size recliners now reside whichever way we choose to position them, still leaving room for the kitty condo. Marc replaced all the overhead 12V lights with LED lighting which brightened up the interior considerably and also greatly reduced battery draw. We have one more LED flush mount fancier fixture to install over the dining table. We’ll also be taking the Fantastic fans from the TS to install in this trailer.
One thing we are continuing to assess is the poor performance we have right now towing with the Chevy. Marc is unsure if the trailer needs larger axles/tires or the truck needs heavier springs, etc. It is classified as an HD truck and came complete with all the tow mode paraphernalia but it continues to be a wiggle wagon and feels unsafe going down the highway, especially in winds. We are waiting for next Spring to try it out with the Freightliner to decide if that will be our permanent tow vehicle. 

Now, our attention will turn to the interior of our house, which we hope to make further progress with completing now that Marc is home for good. He’s sorting out his workshop in the basement in anticipation of many long, cold, snowy days when there’s nothing for us outdoors.