Category Archives: family

On the Road Again….

We have slipped our land moorings and are on the road to our vagabond life on Pandora.  I will miss my looms over the next few months, but I’ve brought some fun projects to keep me company….knitting (of course!), and this time some embroidery and a small tapestry loom. I’m intrigued with this image, and hope to play with it a bit.  It will give me lots of practice with circles, won’t it?  Circles are considered the hardest shape to weave…..I’ll deliberate on that while I weave a few dozen of them!


As you can imagine I’ve brought just about every color imaginable….small loom, big bin of yarn.  I really wanted to design something with minimal colors, but my time was spent elsewhere over the past few months….and I’ve always been a sucker for color! It has been such a hectic fall and winter, and I have struggled to find a balance between weaving and designing while also enjoying the holidays and spending precious time with my husband’s parents during our last wonderful month’s with Bob’s dad.  It was a tremendously moving time for both Bob and me. One week ago we moved Bob’s mother to her new assisted living facility, into a one bedroom apartment with magificent views of Long Island Sound.  It was one of those days with gale force winter winds, and the views of the Sound were quite dramatic.  She likes it!  Her belongings look very pretty in her new place, and it already has a nice sense of home. On Saturday she told Bob that he has taken wonderful care of her since his father died, that she loves her new place, and that she felt he should take a well deserved, long vacation. So, although we hated to leave her so soon after such big changes in her life, we have hit the road for Florida where our boat Pandora has been waiting for us since November. Honestly, I was in no big hurry to return.  I have grown quite complacent to be home in our quiet little town on the Connecticut River, even with the single digit temperatures and the snow.  I got a fair amount of work done over the summer, and this most recent project is finished pretty much to my liking.  Surprisingly, the first painted warp is the one I prefer.  I could not have known this until I did the second one.  I have made two braids that the piece will hang from, and I am happy with them as well. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a detail of the braid….a fiddly process of making a tiny braid in the middle of the strands of silk, and then closing the braid into a loop and adding in more silk to continue with a bigger braid.


We have rushed down the East Coast in order to stay ahead of the ice and snow that has shut down Georgia and the Carolinas.  We spent a wonderful night with Rob and Kandice in Baltimore before we hightailed it for Florida.  We are in St. Augustine now, and although it is a nippy 40 degrees F with wind and drizzle, we don’t dare complain!

We are staying in this pretty little inn right in the historic district.  Our balcony overlooks the Lightner Museum.  We managed to sit out and enjoy the view for a few minutes before the chill drove us back inside.  Here is a shot of our room with the railing outside of the large window and the little balcony for sitting just off to the right of it.

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I am looking forward to dinner in the cozy, intimate dining room later today.  Yesterday we enjoyed a glass of wine in the bar.  A cocktail in the evening and a full breakfast in the mornings comes with the room.

old city house dining room

Stocking up on a few luxuries for our time onboard, like blood orange infused olive oil and some good books from the used book shop!

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 Later we will visit the Lightner Museum and tomorrow we will do a little more touring before heading down to Ft. Pierce where Pandora awaits.


The word journey has been foremost in my mind for months now…. my father in law’s major journey (his life) has just ended.  He led a beautiful life, and he was as much a father to me as he was to his three biological children.  He was a great man in all the best ways possible…. devoted to his wife, his children, and a consumate volunteer which means he was devoted to all the causes he he championed.

Lately my own journey seems fraut with anxiety, too many deadlines, too many places to be in such a short time.  I feel like I’ve just returned from our long journey down the Eastern seaboard of the US and across to the Bahamas, and now we are to leave again in just a couple of weeks.  Where has the time gone?

Well, mostly we’ve been spending some very special time with Bob’s father.  It hurts to know you are losing someone, but in the long run I feel it has been a gift to help Bob, Sr. through the last months and a gift that we could be with him as much as possible for our own needs…. I think this is far better than losing someone you love without any warning at all.

During this last summer/fall/winter of my father in law’s journey I’ve been thinking about the Moirae, whose names are Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the measurer), and Atropos (the one who holds the scissors and cuts the thread of life).

I love Sarah Swett’s rendition of these fates “The River Wyrd.”  She has done a great job portraying them having a laugh at our small lives, our loves, our passions. At this moment in the grieving process, I’m much too bogged down in the sadness of missing him, and wonderful memories, and nostalgia and schmaltz…. to treat this subject with humor.  And I am searching for a way to find voice for the respect and love I have for my father in law’s life.

So I’ve been rather focused on images of the thread of life.   My father in law, the original “Bob” in the Osborn family, had a wonderfully long life, although not nearly long enough for all of us who loved him.  He was connected to many people, a life long best friend with his brother who died just weeks ahead of him, and a life long friend of a surprising number of others.  How many people do any of us know who can get together regularly with friends they’ve known since before a marriage of 60 years?

Anyway…. my own recent journey has been in trying to depict images of a beautiful, long life.  I’m not there yet, but impatience led me to attempt a less than fully developed idea, with a technique I learned a couple of decades ago from Betty Vera and revisited this summer with Sarah Saulson.

The technique involves dressing a loom with a warp, then pulling out the warp onto a flat surface, under tension, and painting the warp with dyes thickened with printers’ paste, or  sodium alginate.  Here are some photos of my first attempt at this.

My warp is silk crepe which I wound onto two spools for easier handling.

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I made a stencil of my design on a manilla folder.

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 Here is the warp after painting.  The dye is ProChem blue #402 mixed for full saturation with a little “New Black” added.  You can see the stencil brush I used in the lower left.  It is a wonderful tool that I found at Long Ridge Farm’s booth at Rhinebeck one year.  It is made of very tightly packed natural bristles, but I don’t know anything else about it since the attached tag is in Japanese, and Nancy Zeller did not have the information on her when I bought it.

The dye required four hours to set with moisture at a temperature of 70 degrees F.  After that the plastic film is removed to allow the warp to dry before being wound back on to the loom.

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In my haste to work on this project (I had envisioned this piece hanging from the lectern during Bob, Sr’s. funeral…pipe dream!) I did not take any photographs of the weaving process.  My 8 shaft Baby Wolf was threaded with an undulating twill, and I used a natural colored, smoothly spun silk thread for the weft.  I think both warp and weft are in the range of 20/2 silk, but neither of these silks, in my stash for decades, were labeled.  I threaded the undulating twill at 30 ends per inch. The seredipitous surprise after weaving and wet finishing was the amazing sheen of the silk crepe!  It glows.

Here is the finished piece.  It shifted more than I expected when I wound it back on to the loom, which is when I discovered that some of the heddles were not oriented properly on the shafts.  A number of heddles were upside down, and I think this opposite orientation caused a bit more drag on the threads which resulted in significant shifting.  I tried repositioning these threads by adding a bar at the back of the loom with these threads pulled around it….but as you can see from my photo, it did not help.

This is not what I had envisioned for the finished piece, but I am not unhappy with it!  Yesterday I made a new warp (and used up all the rest of my silk crepe!) and dressed the loom so that I will probably be ready to paint again tomorrow.

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In a Funk !!

It’s shocking to me to see that I haven’t posted since Hallowe’en, and that post doesn’t even count.  It was just a funny photo….

I’ve been home now for more than two weeks, getting lots done, but not feeling terribly good about anything.  Bob and I are in the throes of worries about our aging parents, and it’s an emotional and stressful time.  Weaving and knitting…and spinning!….help me get through these times, but this time around things are pretty serious, and even my favorite activities cannot take away the sadness and the fear of what is coming.

Baking is another activity that soothes me during stress, so yesterday I spent some of the day baking toward our early Thanksgiving which we’ll celebrate this Thursday as well as next Thursday in order to see all of the family.  I always make Julia Child’s croissants at some point during the holidays for those who will be sleeping over.  I have to admit I stole one when they came out of the oven.  Someone had to make sure they turned out well!

This morning is a glorious November day.  There is always at least one late blooming rose after the first hard frost….a rose that blooms among the hips.

Most of the trees are bare now, but along our walk we saw one still bright yellow, and another that is still bright red!

Deep blue sky, red berries against the tan field, a spot of green from a rhody…and a lovely river make for a wonderful morning walk.

In a day or so I’ll update my current projects and write a little about the various events I’ve managed to attend since I returned home.

Chilly Nights, Warm Days

The weather has moderated in the last few days so that we are no longer freezing to death!  I know, I’m just a bit of an exaggerator!  But it’s no fun being cold all day and then painfully cold at night.  We made a very poor choice to take our sleeping bags off the boat and to skip bringing any serious winter clothes.  It’s always colder when you are exposed outside all day while also on the water.  Those sleeping bags are in my car in Annapolis, and they would have made all the difference in getting some sleep the past week or so….

This is yesterday’s pre-sunset.  I think you can feel how soft and warm the day was.  Just moments after taking this photo, Bob and I each got a text from my sister, wishing us a happy anniversary of our first date, 41 years ago.  This is a landmark date we always celebrate, and if not for her text we would have missed it for the very first time.  We are both wondering if this is our first big sign of getting older….

So we sat in the cockpit of Pandora, enjoying this view all the way through sunset.  We blew the conch shell to herald the night, and headed out to dinner ashore in Belhaven, North Carolina.

Luckily we had already planned to go out to dinner.  Boy, did we choose a fun spot!  The Spoon River Artworks and Market….interesting name since I saw neither artworks or market, but only a restaurant!  And a very nice one too.  Here is a view from our table… it’s lovely, isn’t it?  For the first time ever we chose to sit facing inward from a window table, instead of facing outward.

 And walking around lovely Belhaven before dinner I spotted this pretty cottage garden that look out to the harbor.

Today we are headed to Oriental, North Carolina, then on to my final destination in Beaufort.  I will get a few days there to relax before Bob’s crew delivers my car to me to head home while they get onboard to head offshore to Florida.

Project Hiatus…

Life, again.  You never know when life is going to take over and make all your plans seem positively ridiculous… impermanent as a shadow in fading light.

So Bob and I have been at a standstill for the past few weeks.  He’s behind on getting Pandora ready for its next season of long distance sailing, and I’m behind in using my precious land time to fulfill my own projects.

In honor of Labor Day we are having a quiet day at home (it’s raining so there is no pressure to be out at a picnic or parade this year).  I am returning to my silk warp from the NEWS conference.  I have prepared my folding table and loom with drop cloths to protect everything from dye, and I have been looking at my MX dye charts from decades ago…  Unfortunately, today is not serving up the best light for choosing colors.  Hence, I’m taking a break here to document this project!

What is left of my warp is not long enough for a scarf.  I would have bet money on this being the case, so all along I’ve imagined this last piece being a narrow wall hanging.  My design choices are limited by the threading I’ve already established which is an advancing twill.  I can weave it in sharp advancing points or in undulating advancing hills.  I want to try separating out an inch of warp at each side for an ikat-effect black and white block design to frame the main design in the center.

Now I will begin mixing colors.  I am considering several reds, from a cool cherry red to burgundy to a plum type of red/purple and a deep dull orange in the pumpkin range.  I also want black, and I’ve got the ‘new’ black….hoping it is deep and true as advertised!

And here is a gift from my not so friendly weaving cohort that greeted me on my morning walk.  She also waited out the onslaught of life (in the form of a violent thunderstorm and heavy rains last night) before creating her glorious web sometime early this morning.  I hope I will be as successful!

There’s No Place Like Home…

There really isn’t.  And to top it off it’s May in New England.

My sister had offered to meet me at the airport.  It would just be the two of us; we’d have dinner afterward so she could catch me up on her family and her long solo stint of taking care of our aging and difficult mother.

Instead, she and my sons planned a larger family gathering to greet me.  Seven  family members were waiting for me when I arrived, and because my flight was late all the other people waiting for loved ones had gotten in on the act.  So, I arrived to a crowd of clapping bystanders, who were shouting, “Welcome home, Mom!”  I was completely confused, which is a very good thing, because otherwise I would have cried…

Mother’s Day weekend was about as perfect as possible.  The kids and I went to the annual Garden Club sale at the little park in the center of town, and we worked in the garden cleaning up the debris from winter and planting my purchases from the sale.  It was a wonderful homecoming!

Today I plied the brilliant saffron mohair that I spun in the Bahamas.  Here it is with the mohair skeins from Persimmon Tree that I plan to use with it.  I’m envisioning a fall jacket….




When the boys traveled down here to visit us they were battling the biggest snow storm of the winter at home.  Our neighbor at home, who is watching our house, sent us this photo.  He can’t even get into our house right now to check on things since the front door is blocked!

And our stone wall is completely buried!

Such a contrast that while our house remains blanketed in snow we are hanging out in places like this!

Thinking about all that snow at home as put me in the mood to work on next year’s Christmas projects.  Here’s my progress several days ago on my Santa bell pull.  I’ve now finished that first Santa and am working on the second of three.  The design is by Prairie Schooler.

Today we say farewell to our good friends on Sea Schell and Kalunamoo who have been so supportive and nurturing to us on our first trip down to these waters.  Sea Schell is off to farther shores in the Caribbean, and hopefully we’ll continue to cross paths with Kalunamoo as winter turns to spring and we both head back into northern waters.

Family Fun!

The past week with our kids on board rates as the best family vacation ever!  We celebrated all three kids’ birthdays, coming up in March and April, as well as Valentine’s Day while we were all together.

I can’t believe how much fun Rob and I had cooking together in a galley that is probably smaller than most people’s powder rooms!  We managed some great meals in our small space, including filet of lion fish with herbed panko crust one evening! Here is one of the lion fish still on the spear!

We all have conch shells now….and Chris was the only one who could successfully herald the sunset.

On our way to the beach with rum punch and homemade mango salsa!

Chris went swimming with the dolphins while wearing the go-pro!  We don’t have enough bandwidth to post of the footage.

The kids at the monument on Stocking Island

The ocean side of Stocking Island, where we collected some great shells! Rob is wearing his specially made harness with the go-pro attached.

Getting underwater videos with the go-pro!

Beautiful sunsets each evening….

So now the kids have returned home, and the howling winds have returned to us.  We are hunkered down in Red Shank cove, awaiting calmer weather before heading out to Long Island (Bahamas that is!  …not New York!)


Farewell Winter

Our last day in winter white New England was quite a memorable one! While doing a few last minute errands in town we noticed that our little museum has an annual train show over the holidays and that it was still on display.  We had the entire exhibit to ourselves on a Tuesday morning.

Bags packed, rental car on hand for the next morning’s early ride to the airport, we decided to spend our last evening in Connecticut in the pub of the Griswold Inn with a burger and a beer.  I swear that pub has live music every single night of the year, and while it’s always great fun and great music, I really wanted an early evening.  The music venues usually start around 7.30.  When we arrived, well before music should start, a wonderful glee club from Ohio was about halfway through an impromptu performance that had been arranged to precede the regular Tuesday night banjo group.

The glee club were the KoKos from Kenyon College, who were passing through the area on their January tour of concerts on the East Coast.  Since they were staying at the house of a glee club alumnus who happened to be the local Anglican priest, the priest had arranged for the last minute performance at the pub.

Bob and I love a capella men’s groups.  The songs were wonderful… “Sentimental Journey,”  “Stand by Me”…… a couple of fun, bawdy songs.

As the singers were gathering their things the priest came over to introduce himself.  I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why.  Did he see how much we liked the group?? Did he think we might become new parishioners?  Whatever his reasons, he introduced himself to us and even invited us back to his house for dinner.  He promised the group would sing a few more songs….  what can I say?  We couldn’t resist!

As we were settling up a friend of the priest walked over to say he’d be going back to the rectory for dinner as well.  I kind of thought I recognized this younger man.  The priest introduced us as “Bob and Brenda” and the young man’s face shifted with something like recognition.  “Were you ever members of Fayerweather Yacht Club?” he asked.  Well, yes we were….about a million eons ago in a distant time before children….  this young man is the son of a couple we used to sail with fairly often.  Our friends, the parents of this young man, died over 15 years ago, within a couple of years of each other.  We haven’t seen their son “Roddy” since he was about 12 years old, back in the early 1980s.  That feels like ancient history…

What a world!  Roddy remembers a particular long weekend in Great Salt Pond on Block Island, when he and his dad came aboard our little catboat Tao for an afternoon sail, while I went on board Lark to help Roddy’s mother to cook up a mess of mussels for dinner.  What I remember is coming across our very first log book last summer as we were unpacking things in our new house, and reading about Roddy and his parents and some of our escapades together.  When I read these passages, I realized what distant memories these are… long Bob and I have been making memories together and how rediscovering this brief period in our newly married lives helped me recognize Rod the adult when our paths crossed again.  Amazing…..

….and now we’re off to make more memories on this sailing adventure to the Bahamas….. (I hope they will be mostly good ones)

A Sailor’s Thanksgiving

Like American ex-pats the world over, sailors also get together to celebrate our Thanksgiving tradition.

St. Marys, Georgia, is well known for bringing sailors together for a Thanksgiving festival.  The local Riverview Hotel opens its dining room to hundreds of cruisers, and locals volunteer to roast enough turkeys and hams to feed this army of transients.

Hotel owners Jerry and Gayla Brandon started our morning off with a bang by mixing up a large cooler of Bloody Marys while Charlie Jacobs delivered them by dinghy to every boat in the harbor!  I’ve never had a drink at 8.30 am, but I do highly recommend it!

The sailors arrive at the hotel from late morning through noon bearing all the side dishes and desserts.  Three long tables are set up in the hotel lobby to hold all the platters of food.

It almost felt like family, and it was a wonderful gathering.  Everyone was a bit homesick for loved ones, but we were a rag tag family to each other… and that was okay!

Missing my family and friends quite a bit this weekend….but I’m also  thankful for the generosity of St. Marys’ community and the newly made connections to very friendly cruisers.

I did wear my sleeve-less “Ann Jacket.”   And at the end of the day I picked up stitches and started the first sleeve.