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Nearby is a monastery.  Rather than go on and on about what an interesting and spiritual place this is, you can read about it here Mount Saviour Monastery.  I will say that regardless of where you come from, denomination, race, etc., the chapel is a wonderful place to sit and pray.  And the surrounding area with the sheep is very restful.  The photo is of a 14th century statue in the crypt.

While visiting last week, I saw a sign announcing the day they would be shearing their sheep.  So early on Saturday I drove to a friend’s house who is fortunate enough to live about a mile from the monastery and we walked uphill to the barn. 

 You know you’ve entered the Monastery grounds when you see a large crucifix on the side of the road, looks old and what you’d expect to find. I forgot to take a photo of it.  But, I did take a photo of what I saw next, part of an electric fence.  Not a very interesting photo, but it struck me that it was such a modern contrast to the old wood hand crafted crucifix and an example of the modern monastic life, some things done as they always have been, but others things done in a modern way.

 A view of the barn uphill in the distance, you can barely see a part of one of the Casas on the left. The Casas are where guests stay.

 A little bit closer …

Approaching the barn we could see lots of cars parked around it and people walking in and out of the barn and over to the chapel and gift shop.

 Inside the barn… Watching this gentleman working, it was easy to see he had a lot of experience with sheep. He worked very quickly, carefully, handling the sheep firmly but kindly so as not to injure them or cause them much stress.  A young woman was also shearing and while not quite as quick and neat as the man, she was pretty darn good.  Note:  I don’t know what most people envision when they think of a Monk.  When working with sheep, here they wear a type of coverall.  I noticed Bro. Bruno and Bro. Pierre wearing them and so I’m guessing that the man in coveralls in the photo below is a monk.

 

 There was a man standing near me taking lots of photos, smiling as he did.  By the way he was talking to the monks I could tell he knew them well.  Curious, I struck up a conversation with him and found out that the two teen girls in the photo are his daughters.  They travel from D.C.  every year for shearing weekend and other retreats.  The girls help every year and this year they were ‘throwing the sheep’, which basically means flipping them over onto their backs and sliding them over to the shearer to save him some work.  Behind the girls you can see more sheep waiting to be shorn, hundreds were done that day.  The sheep was herded into the barn the day before (the monks ride 4 wheelers ) avoiding a thunderstorm and wet sheep.  A lot of people come to help herding and shearing and so it goes very quickly.  

 A very large, shorn fleece on the skirting table.  All but a ewe named Poodle and a lamb, are white.  Poodle and the lamb are black.  While normally they send all the fleeces off to be processed and spun into yarn, batting and such, when I asked they were pleased to sell me a fleece or two for a workshop.   I picked out a large white fleece and asked for Poodle’s fleece to be set aside for me in case I missed her being shorn while taking a lunch break.

  Sure enough I missed Poodle being shorn. For some reason I thought Poodle was a ram and would be done last, but Poodle is a ewe.. duh…. And she was too far when I came back to get a close up shot of her. This was taken with the zoom feature on the camera and you still can barely see her.  She is the lone black sheep in the center of the photo.  What you don’t see in the photo is a glider  in the sky from the nearby national glider museum, a post for another day.

 

After the sheep are shorn, they are checked very carefully for any cuts or signs of illness and such.  They are then released and immediately go out to look for their lambs which have been waiting, impatiently and very noisily for their moms.   Here are a few waiting and behind them a Ewe is nursing her lambs.  We watched as she was released and ran right over to her lambs which looked to us, exactly like many of the other lambs.  While she knew exactly which lambs were hers, the lambs at first were not sure this was mom.

The matriarch of the sheep, an older ewe was creating quite a fuss.  Very upset that some of her flock was still in the barn, she would come in from the pasture and complain very loudly.  Every time she did so, all the lambs waiting for their moms would run to her and follow her also complaining, making for a lot of noise.  Eventually she would leave, still baa-ing loudly, calling the sheep to follow her.   I tried to take a photo of her, but she was pretty upset and moving faster than  I was.

 Here are the fleeces I brought back home with me.  The white is actually much larger than the dark fleece. When I unrolled the fleeces I could see that although Poodle looks black when shorn, her fleece is varying shades of gray.. very pretty.  The spinners that meet at my house regularly will be helping me skirt the fleeces a bit more, wash and process these fleeces so that they can experience the entire process from start to finish. 

Close up of fleeces…

   

Before coming home I stopped in the gift shop to pay for the fleeces… big mistake… I came home with a dvd about the monastery that received 3 Emmy award nominations and I came home with this painting.  An artist comes and paints scenes of everyday life here and donates them to the monastery.   This one I’ve named ‘The Good Shepherd’.  It is Brother Pierre, who is in charge of the sheep, in a winter scene, Poodle being the dark sheep.  Bro. Pierre is a small, slim but strong older man who physically reminds me a lot of my Dad. I saw this painting last week and when I saw it again this week, I knew it had to come home with me.  Not a traditional sheep scene, but I like it very much.  There is a little glare in the photo but you get an idea of the painting.

  

I meant to do a Mother’s Day post but the weekend just got away from me.  Between granddaughter Jessica’s ballgame, clearing out the 3rd bay of the garage, so I can use it as a workshop/studio in mild weather, and garden work, I just don’t seem to sit down in front of the pc long enough to do a post. 

On Mother’s day I received some phone calls and gifts and was treated to dinner out to a restaurant where my son-in-law is the chef, all very much appreciated.  But, what I want to share are a couple of cards, one from daughter Tina, very sweet and lacy.  She wore the wedding shawl I made for her, to dinner, so the card was just perfect and I love the sentiment.  The card from her son Connor caused me to chuckle… It’s a little boy kitty holding handfuls of blooms. 

 What is so funny it is that Connor is absolutely fascinated by the flowers in my garden and is determined to pick every single one of them.  Ok, so sometimes it isn’t funny, but I know they will grow back next year and he will only be a toddler for a little while.. so I’m trying to not cringe when he manages to grab a flower or two.. or three…  We are working on teaching him to ask before he picks a flower and how to pick one properly.

 Just a few of Connor’s flowers in a vase … notice they have little or no stems.. *G* . Today he snagged another purple tulip and a red one…

And a little something sent to me by a friend.. I don’t know if she wrote this or not… but I like it a lot…

Whether your MOM is with you or not!!!

 

 

 

Your Mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you
walk down the street, she’s the smell of certain foods you remember,
flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she’s the cool hand on your
brow when you’re not feeling well, she’s your breath in the air on a
Cold winter’s day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep,
the colors of a rainbow, she is Christmas morning. Your Mother lives
inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop. A mother
shows every emotion……….. Happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love,
hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow…..and all the while,
hoping and praying you will only know the
Good feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home,
and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first
love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can
separate you.
Not time, not space…….not even death!

A while ago I posted a photo of an oops yarn on my studio blog (link in the sidebar).   I kept the yarn for myself and am knitting a pair of socks with.  I’m once again using the 2 socks on 2 needles method, this time starting at the toe.   Not happy with heels on previous toe up socks, I decided to try a short row heel in garter stitch for better wear.

 

The heel looks like it will wear well and it can be used for toe up or cuff down socks.   My next pair of socks will be a cotton blend.

And the tease… if you like cherry blossoms colors in the header on this page…  check out the Custom Blended Spinning Fibers page on my studio blog…

Once a month a group of spinners get together at my house to sit and spin and sometimes learn something new.   With the warmer days, we have less people meeting as they are busy with gardening chores, family events, outdoor actvities.  It also means that we are able to work on some things outdoors. 

This week it was requested that I demonstrate how to use a drum carder.  I set up some tables and chairs in the yard before going to pick up Jessica for her morning ball game.  When I got home a little before spinners were to arrive, I started blending a pansy batt .  No sooner did I pull out my fibers when the wind gusted and sent purple fiber sailing away out of my reach.    I moved everything into the garage and we were able to work there.     Jessica was still around, playing in the yard and I could hear neighborhood kids laughing as they rode by the cherry trees on their bikes because it was “snowing pink snow”!  The wind was blowing cherry blossoms off the trees in drifts of soft pink.

The spinners learned a few new things,  they shared home cooked goodies with me,  and at the end of the day we had a glass of wine and a bite to eat.   Nice way to end the day.

I left my equipment in the garage as we don’t need it for the cars in the summer and I can work out there.   Just a little while ago, I went out and finished what I started yesterday.  This is a photo of a previous batch… there is a little over 4 ounces in this one.  It is a blend of several breeds of wool, generous amount of silk and just a little mohair, all blended enough to distribute the different colors and will result in a lightly textured yarn with a little sheen.  yes.. it is available.  $16.00 for the lot, email me or leave a message if you are interested.   I plan to start working on blends again on a regular basis, but I make no promises as to how often or how many, and I won’t take orders, I don’t want my shoulder flaring up again.  

Snow Pansies

  

I signed granddaughter Jessica up to play ball this year, thought she would enjoy being on a team, learning some new skills.   She’s only had a couple of practice sessions and hasn’t played ball otherwise, but she’s doing really well and most importantly having a great time.  

Yesterday was the first game and  I took a few photos.

Here she is on first base,  waiting for the game to start.   Most of the girls have no clue what they are doing so it is all very comical.  Their shirts are too big, socks too long, but they don’t care.  Jessica tagged out two players without realizing what she was doing, simply did what I along with the other parents and grandparents were screaming for her to do.  

 

Here she is trying to bat off a tee, later the coach threw the ball to them so they could learn to bat both ways.   After I snapped this photo, I realized she was holding the bat wrong, called out to the coach that Jessica was left handed.  Jess looked up at me and gave that exact same look my kids would give me when they were little and playing sports… ‘MOM, you’re embarrassing me!’… hee hee.    But, when the coach said “thanks for reminding me”, she smiled and got down to business, smacked that ball.  The next time up, she reminded the coach that she was left handed and held the bat properly.  I can see her becoming a little more confident and poised with each practice.

Running into home base ….. Yay!  Since she’s wearing her jacket, I think this photo was taken the first time she was up.. the photo of her batting was of her batting the second time. 

The parents on our team are all great sports, cheer all the girls on without being too aggresive or taking it all too seriously.  The biggest challenge to all is remembering all the girls names.  Everyone knows Jessica, she is the only dark skinned, dark haired girl on the team, easy to remember and so everyone cheers for her by name and when they do, she smiles a great big smile!  Is there a better way to spend a Saturday morning?

In case you are wondering… no one won the game… no score is kept at this level. The girls are meant to have fun, learn the sport, make friends. 

Here are a few photos of Connor helping me in the garden on Thursdays.  He discovered flowers, first noticing the dandelions.  I tried to show him the proper way to pick a flower so that it would have a stem, but he was more interested in sniffing it and then thought about tasting it. Since I do have things in the garden that can’t be eaten, I discouraged him from tasting and so he just carried them around, proud of himself, looking for more things to pluck.. yikes..  By the time mommy came to pick him up, he had a very sad looking flower that Mommy was delighted to get..   He  learned the word flower, bee (he tired to catch a bumble bee) and that a bee says.. bzzzzz….       Check out his outfit… love the safari hat which has snaps to pull up one side or the other.

Another grandbaby who is a good helper…  Catalina, just a month younger than her cousin Connor.  I was talking to my son on the phone the other day and Catalina was holding the phone and then decided to run off with it.   My son emailed me these photos of her just yesterday….  I get to see Catalina soon..   While Connor is very fair, blue eyes and curly hair, Catalina looks a lot like her dad, big dark eyes, dark hair… a real sweetie who loves her dolly.   She is all girly with her cute jeans with ruffles,  Dora sneakers and Dora doll.  I wish she lived closer….  

It is yearly tree trimming time in our town.  Once a year the town crews go around and trim up the many huge trees in our town. Even if a tree is on your property, if it looks like it has to be trimmed and within a certain distance from the middle of the road (which varies in some areas that have no curbs or sidewalks ) they will mark it for trimming or removing.  If you don’t want it gone, you have to fight them to leave it.

The fact that they will remove a tree on private property is sometimes good sometimes bad.  Our home sits on 2 town lots and while there were only a couple of plants growing, there were 14 trees large old trees here in varying state of decay.  The town removed all the ones closest to the street and that left us to remove 6 maples, several pine trees and an apple tree.   We’d actually planned to leave one of the pine trees but it was damaged by one of the other trees and had to go.. And the apple tree went a few years after the others. I tried to save it, but it was too far gone.   When the trees were taken down, a neighbor from across the street came over and told us she never realized that there was a 3 bay garage sitting behind the trees.  She’s lived here since 1954, visited the home many times, but always used the front door, never visiting the back yard.  The fact that she couldn’t see the garage when it sits directly across from her house, gives you an idea of how crowded this was with trees.   

Taking down the trees was not something we did without a lot of thought.  I love trees.  Big, small, I like them all… well maybe I can do without the sumacs growing  too close too our fence, they do make such a mess and can be so invasive, spreading on their own very quickly.   But, I do know that eventually a tree will die and these were dead or dying trees dropping branches on windy days, a dangerous situation.

I felt a little sad when we removed those great giants and felt bad again when a maple tree across the street was removed a couple of days ago.  Why they didn’t just remove the damaged limbs and try to save the tree, I don’t know.  The owner of the property didn’t seem to mind, he may have asked them to do it.  Some of the it was indeed in bad shape, but most of the tree was fine.  When I saw the sections of the tree on the ground bleeding sap, I had to turn away.

Then when walking up the stairs I looked out the window and saw this….  My Cherry trees …

We planted the Yoshino Cherries about 11 years ago after the large maples were removed.  We never thought they’d get this big.   They have pale pink blooms and can be seen as soon as you turn the corner way down the street, makes me smile when I come home.   The  Weeping Cherry is a later addition and it’s not supposed to get any bigger. I had better not since it is planted between the Yoshinos and the River Birch we added to replace the maples along the side when our neighbors complained we’d removed their source of shade.   As the weeping Cherry matures it puts out more blooms, this year is the most we’ve seen, love the color.  

Most of the other trees we planted since these have been more of the tall shrub variety, but last year we planted a Bing Cherry tree and a Gala Apple tree.  They both survived the winter and I almost did a Happy Dance when I saw that the Bing Cherry trees had blossoms!   

We are considering moving some day.. just so many stairs in this house…  but… when I think of leaving behind the trees and the many plants we’ve put in… shudder.

Pretty sad, eh?    

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