Friday, July 31, 2015

Day With Friends

Last night as we were winding down our day we had a knock on our door. It was the campground owner letting us know that a new campsite with full hookups was going to be available in the morning. Were we interested? Yes! The site we had only came with water and electric, while this new site also had sewer, cable, and was right across from the pool. Score!

So this morning we got up early and made the trek across the campground to our new site. It's very nice!

As soon as we got settled Bob and I headed out to my friend Jeen's house. Bob dropped me off and drove on to visit one of his former colleague at his summer home.

Jeen and I met through Ravelry several years ago, first making arrangements to take a Saori class together. Since then we have camped in her driveway with a travel trailer for a weekend and she has visited us in NJ. We were overdue for a visit.
We had a lot of fun catching up on family and weaving (two of my favorite subjects!)  I showed Jeen my new Seidel card loom and she showed me her Magic Dobby loom. That is quite an intimidating loom, but a real beauty. I think I'll stick with my rigid heddles, though. 

Jeen had prepared us a yummy lunch, and afterwards we talked the afternoon away. I showed her how to do a basic three loop braid and of course she picked it right up. She's a natural when it comes to any fiber technique.

Then it was time to head out. Jeen graciously offered to drive me to meet Bob, and we both got a chance to tour Bob's friend, Jesse's, house. What a spot he has, right on the lake!
Back at the new campsite we brought out KC the cat and Auggie doggy into the screen room (blessedly bug-free!) to enjoy our supper of sandwiches, broccoli salad, and cheese dip with Fritos, courtesy of Jeen.  A lovely end to a lovely day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Musings on the Berkshires and our Move in an Easterly Direction

We have really enjoyed our week here in the Berkshires. I haven't said much about our campground, Hidden Valley in Lanesboro, but it has been perfect for us. Our site feels so private and there was really only one day when we could even see another RV from our windows. It has been quiet, with only the sounds of birds. Our next door neighbor beyond the trees even reported seeing a black bear a couple of nights ago that was walking though his site. It stood up to look around. We had been sitting outside by the campfire maybe 20 feet away and probably missed a bear encounter by five minutes!

I'm ok with that.

We never did use the pool, but having grown up in New England I know that unheated pools never really get warn enough here for my comfort, because of all the cool (comfortable!) nights.

There were so many places we had no time to see, including Susan B. Anthony's birthplace, Natural Bridge State Park, Tanglewood, the Massachusetts Museum of Contempory Art, climbing Mt. greylock, the Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Williamsrown Theatre, and Chesterwood Museum, just to name a few. We could easily find a month's worth of things to do. It is one of the prettiest places on God's green earth, and we will be back.

We had a nice drive through Massachusetts and arrived at our new campground about 2:30. And guess what was waiting for us in the office?
A new screen room that pops up to open, and folds into a package about 30"x30"x3". I am so excited! The woods in New England tend to be a little buggy so now we can sit outdoors and enjoy the evenings without mosquitos crashing the party. Perfect for two people and a dog.

The pool is a warm 80 degrees so we will enjoy that, too. And best of all we are near family! It's going to be a fun 11days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Edith Wharton's Home

The Nature of Houses
"I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes; the drawing room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting room, where the members of the family come and go... but beyond that, there are other rooms, the handles of whose doors are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes." Edith Wharton, The Fulness of Life, 1892

Edith Wharton's beloved house, The Mount, in Lenox, Mass, was built in 1902. We visited it today and we're touched by its story. Edith was born Edith Jones, from the wealthy New York family for whom the expression "keeping up with the Joneses" was coined. She spent her childhood touring Europe with her family, and grew up fluent in French, German, and Italian. She married Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton and seventeen years later designed and built her dream home. Here we see the front entrance....
...and the house from the back.
We took a tour of the home and learned about Edith's marriage (not very happy,) her divorce, her affairs, and her writing. She was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times. Amazing for a woman of her era. The house is lovely and we walked through her library which contains 26,000 of her personal books...
...the sitting room...
The dining room ( note how small the table was--Edith only entertained 4-6 guests at a time...)
...and Edith's boudoir, where she did much of her writing as well as entertain close friends.
In many of the rooms there were large informational posters describing life in the house. Have you ever wondered how much the wealthy people of that era actually made?  Here's a poster that discloses Edith's money situation (click to embiggen):
 The servants' areas were much simpler but still beautiful.
Edith only lived in her beloved home for 9 years before her marriage dissolved and she moved to Paris, right before World War I.  Unlike others who fled Paris to avoid the difficulties of war, she became very active in charitable organizations and was an ardent supporter of the French war effort. After the war she received an honorary doctorate from Yale University and the Cross of the Legion of Honour from the French government. Her most famous novels were The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, and Ethan Frome. I had read Ethan Frome and skimmed through her book The Decoration of Houses but now I want to read them again.

It was very interesting to see the way that Edith lived as compared to the Shakers, whom we learned about yesterday. History is so fascinating.

Tomorrow is moving day--heading to eastern Massachusetts for 11 days to see family. Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hancock Shaker Village

Having lived for many years within a couple of hours of Lancaster, PA, we tend to compare people like the Shakers with the Amish. Their religions feature being separated from the world and stress a focus on community, hard work, and avoidance of ostentatious displays. That's where the similarities end. While the Amish believe in holding on to the ways of the past to eschew worldliness the Shakers strongly believed in progress.

Ironic that the Amish have survived and the Shakers have almost completely disappeared as a culture.  Until you recall that the Amish believe in marriage and large families while the Shakers were celibate. Such a seemingly small detail, but oh so important in the grand scheme of things!

Bob and I visited the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA today, and were swept into another world. The sheer beauty of our surroundings overwhelmed us.

We heard docents speak about the customs of the Shakers, whose men and women lived in one house but kept separate from each other with the women on one side of the house and the men on another. Even in worship they were segregated from each other. And yet they believed in equal rights; there were an equal number of male and females in decision-making roles.

Families often joined the movement. From the time they joined the husband and wife ceased to live as a married couple, and their children were taken to another building to be raised separately. Joining the Shakers was often a financial decision rather than a spiritual one. Times were hard in the late 1800's and a convert was fed, taught a trade, and given clothing to wear. Orphans were often sent to the Shakers, and were taught a trade and educated. When the children came of age they were offered the choice to stay or leave. At this point in the lecture someone in the audience piped up and said that the Shakers sounded like a cult. Perhaps it seems that way to modern folk, but people who joined the community were free to leave. Some became "winter Shakers," showing up each fall and staying through the hard winter before leaving in the warm spring! Click on the pictures to embiggen.
We saw the woodshop where running water is harnessed by a turbine to provide power to run various belt-driven saws and lathes.
 In another shop a craftsman demonstrated how a mortise and tenon were fashioned by hand.
And then came the weaving rooms. The rooms were filled with large and small looms, one of which caught my eye. It was a two harness tape loom that was used to weave the bands and tapes needed for chair seats, laces, clothing fasteners, and many other purposes. Cute as a bug, too.
If I had room for one of these I'd have Bob make me one. (Can you hear his sigh of relief from where you are?)

In another building, a room called the Discovery Room provided hands-on opportunities to dress in costume, card wool, and sit down at a loom to weave. The docent was not a weaver, and when I overheard a man express interest in the loom I asked if I might explain. I ended up giving a brief demonstration of the loom (a Harrisville Designs 22" 4 harness, 4 treadle loom) and how it works. Fun! The docent was appreciative.
 Other exhibits included old cars (the Shakers drove cars like these when they were available...)
 ...a cool ladder created by a visiting artist...
...and a round barn. There were sheep, goats, cows, chickens, and pigs on the farm to see.

And I don't think we even saw it all, although we did a pretty good job of seeing the highlights.  This is the kind of place you could return to often and keep learning.

The gift shop was filled with lovely objects, including a sewing table for over $3000, and Shaker chairs with woven seats.  I found one that had a machine-made woven seat but it was very pretty anyway.
We had lunch in the cafe and it was really good. Not overpriced, either. I'm sure we will return another time to this beautiful area and when we do, the Hancock Shaker Village will be on our list of places to revisit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Clark Museum

I love art museums, which is one of the reasons that I'm so excited about our new North American Reciprocal Museum pass. The other reason is that I'm cheap, of course. Being born and raised a Yankee rubbed off on me, big time.

So today Bob and I used the NARM pass to visit the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA. Sterling Clark (who was heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune) and his wife Francine started collecting art in the early 1900s. The collection includes a large number of Impressionist paintings and sculptures, including works by Degas, Monet, Manet, Gauguin, and others.
There was also a special Van Gogh exhibit that we enjoyed. A feast for our souls!

Afterwards we walked around the grounds a bit. The museum is set in a lovely estate with large water features.
Feeling a wee bit peckish, Bob and I drove into town for pizza at One Hot Tomato and enjoyed some of the best pizza we've ever had.

Have you ever had Tim Tams?

We found these at Target today. Tim Tam cookies are Australian, as popular in Australia as Oreos are here. I had to pick some up. Boy, were they good! You may want to keep your eyes open for them where you shop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weaving a Dishtowel and We Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum

Saturday morning Bob and I drove to Pittsfield, MA to a Saturday Farmers Market. Auggie came along and enjoyed the stroll around the Commons.
There is no other place in the U.S. That I have seen that can compare to a nice summers day in Massachusetts. Oh I know, there are hot days sometimes, and certainly miserable winter days, but yesterday we experienced a day like that of my childhood summer days. Low 70's, low humidity, and a very light breeze. Heaven.

We bought some purple string beans and some odd kind of zucchini, as well as blueberry muffins for a late morning snack, while people came up to us to ask what kind of dog Auggie is. He's becoming used to all the attention he gets in public.

Afterward we went to Home Depot for some plastic tubing and washers, and with a little drilling by Bob, I had myself some mini bobbins that will allow me to weave with two bobbins per 11" slim boat shuttle.  I put details on how I made them here, for those of you on Ravelry (and if you aren't, why not?)

I then spent the afternoon warping my 20" Ashford Knitters Loom in preparation to start weaving these Bronson Check dishtowels. There were 204 doubled ends and I used direct warping, getting my exercise as I walked 14 feet to put a loop of yarn on a peg, then back forteen feet to the loom for another loop. 204 times. The cloth is shown here with the mini bobbins in action.

This morning we fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine; to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. I have loved NR's work since I became interested in drawing in 6th grade. "He's not an artist, he's an illustrator," sniffed my artist friends, but I didn't care. I loved the way he told a story and often made me laugh through his depictions. So today, we went, we saw, and we had a great time.

NR's studio at the museum is set on a hill with a most gorgeous view.

We actually ended up joining the museum to get North American Reciprocal Museum privileges, which will get us into over 750 museums across the country! It should pay for itself in visits to about four museums, and we go to a lot of museums in our travels.  We may actually break even before we leave the Berkshires.  This is something that every traveler should sign up for.

Lunch was in a little place in Stockbridge next to the Red Lion Inn. The Red Lion Inn was our original lunch destination but it looked like it was a little too upscale for the way we were dressed.   We opted for Once Upon a Table next door, got to eat outdoors, and we were not disappointed. I had a Reuben sandwich and Bob ate a Salmon Burger. Both were super yummy.

Tomorrow looks like it may rain, so we'll be looking for an indoor activity.

Friday, July 24, 2015


What is Webs, you ask? Any knitter or weaver knows about Webs, a yarn Mecca for fiber enthusiasts. And by some strange coincidence it happens to be only a little over an hour from where we are staying.

Bob and I took the drive to Northampton this morning, traveling on back roads (some of which were not even paved) and highways across western Massachusetts. The weather was perfect with sunny skies and a gentle breeze. We arrived about 11:30 and decided to eat first, choosing this place out of the many restaurants in this college town.
Neither Bob nor I had ever tried Moroccan food and we thoroughly enjoyed the lamb shish kabob sandwich and shawerma (thin marinated slices of lamb and beef, broiled tomatoes, parsley, onions, lettuce and tahini sauces in thin flatbread called lavash.). We both agreed that this place was a great choice.

Then Bob dropped me off to shop in one of my favorite places on earth. I have been visiting this store for years, and always look forward to returning.

The store space is deceptive. The front looks like a typical yarn shop with a nice selection.

Then you discover that there is a whole other room that is even bigger, called the Warehouse. Today they were having a sidewalk sale in the back.

The room goes on and on and is filled with close outs and bargains. Webs has a lot of weaving yarn as well as fiber for spinning (and a place to sit down and try different wheels) plus a weaving room with looms and tools, tons of books and patterns, and friendly staff to help you find what you need. My sister Cheryl and I have been known to spend HOURS in Webs.

And one of the best things is their discounts. Ah yes, my knitting/weaving/spinning friend, if you spend $60 or more on yarn and books you get 20% off, and if you spend $120 on discountable yarn and books you get 25% off! Since I am a woman who loves a bargain, this is my cup of tea.

I picked up a book I have been wanting called Kismet (Weaving was Bound to Meet Knit & Crochet) and some yarn for dishtowels, and I got an Elizabeth Zimmermann book for Cheryl. It was such fun.

While I shopped Bob drove to Walmart and picked up some essentials. We managed to avoid unpaved roads on the way home and arrived at our campground in time to sit outside for a bit before we had some passing showers. We are both enjoying the beauty of this place.
Our view from the motorhome. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

North to Massachusetts

Yesterday was family farewell party #2 at daughter Emily's house, but without Bob (who was visiting his friend Kevin) or Tim and Bernie (who were doing some plastering on their house.) We had a lovely afternoon spending a few more hours together.

This morning I took Auggie into Kristen's fenced-in backyard for a few minutes and was startled to see her cat, Dobby, running across the yard. Dobby is not allowed outside. So I picked him up and put him back in the kitchen. A couple of minutes later I saw him shoving his fat self between the uprights of the railing that surrounds their patio area. He just barely fit.
They should call him Jabba the Hut!

Then it was time to pull in the slides and drive  the motorhome north to western Massachusetts.

It was a lovely day for a ride, with blue skies and puffy clouds. Even the temperatures were more comfortable than they had been the last week. Traffic was fine as we traveled through northern NJ along the congested part of the state. We had a little problem with the driver's side shade which kept lowering more and more as we went along. I stuck a chip clip on it to hold it to the seatbelt and keep it from lowering any further until we found a safe place to pull over and manually wind it up.
Just one of those little things that can happen when you are driving your house down the road!

Pretty soon we were in the Berkshire Mountains, a really nice area to spend some time in during the summer. There are pretty little towns, lakes, and of course, mountains.

It may rain tomorrow, and if it does, I'm going to Webs! Ok, even if it doesn't rain I'm probably going. ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Yum. Yum.

The weather has been hot and humid here. Time for an ice cream concoction! The family gathered at Kristen's house today, all but Emily and Michael who had to work. But that's ok, because we are going to do it again tomorrow at Emily's house, minus Tim and Michael who will be working. It's so hard to get everyone together.

I helped Kristen make this ice cream cake today.
It was made with layers of ice cream sandwiches, covered in melted peanut butter, with chopped Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, a drizzling of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, repeat the layers, then add a final layer of IC sandwiches, cover the top and sides with Cool Whip, then top with chopped Reece's and drizzled caramel and chocolate sauce.  Whew! It was yummy, as was the blueberry cake with vanilla bean icing Kristen also made. Bob grilled up chicken thighs and we enjoyed salad, Calico Beans, and raw veggies and dip. Such a feast!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Doctors' Appointments

I saw my ortho doc today to get steroid shots in my knees. I was diagnosed with patella-femoral disorder a few years back, which means that I get stiffness and pain in my knees when I go from sitting to standing. I also have pain going up or down stairs. The steroid injections work pretty well for me. The doctor recommended some specific exercises and told me to avoid stairs whenever possible. But walking, biking, and swimming were good. I can live with that!

His face lit up when I described our travel. I could see the envy in his eyes. Then came the questions: how do we get mail, pay our bills, do we stay only in resorts? (Answers: we have a mail service that sends our mail whenever and wherever we tell them to, we pay our bills online, and we like resorts and like them for longer stays but also use more humble campgrounds.) Perhaps we will meet him on the road one day.

The way we handled our annual doctor visits worked well this year. Back around March Bob and I made a list of all our doctors and decided what weeks we wanted to set aside for appointments. We each called our own doctors and made appointments, writing them down on a master calendar page so there would be no conflicts. We only have one vehicle, so that was important. I kept a list on the computer and wrote down results of each appointment with recommendations so we could follow up. It was actually easier having all checkups in a short period of time, so none would get missed.

The clock is ticking down for our visit here in NJ. It went so quickly! We are saying goodbye to some of our family tomorrow, others on Wednesday. We head out Thursday for a week in western Massachusetts, then another week in eastern MA, possibly RI and CT next month. And Bob said we could stop at Webs in Northampton on the way! Luckily they have a large parking lot for the MH. That's the plan anyway!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


When we first went on the road I was terrified that Bob's pension would not be enough. It's been almost a year now and I thought I would do a short post on how much this lifestyle costs us.
We are averaging about $3100/ month in overall costs. Campground costs (including extra electric costs at some places) plus diesel fuel per month average about $1000, and the rest is gas for the car, groceries, clothing, motorhome maintenance, repairs and upgrades, life insurance, vehicle insurance, vet bills and medical co-pays, the occasional going out to dinner, rallies, memberships, courses, and our phone and data plans. I don't spend a lot on my hobbies, but I do spend some, and much of what I craft becomes a gift I'd have to buy anyway. We stopped giving and receiving birthday and Christmas gifts but I like to make special things for the grandkids and for new babies in the family. We have a very small motorhome payment per month, and no car payment.

Where we save money includes the following: Eating 99% of our meals at home, limiting gifts, home haircuts, limited clothing purchases, and no buying "stuff" we don't need. It's amazing when I think about how much I used to spend when I worked; most of the stuff I bought ended up being given away. We think long and hard before deciding to buy something new. Do we have room for it? Do we really need it? I used to stock up on food items but now I just get what we need for now.

There are also a lot of ways to save on camping costs. We can spend longer times at a campground to take advantage of lower rates, use Harvest Hosts and Passport America to reduce the cost at a one or two night stay, stay at Escapees parks whenever possible, and choose electric only sites when staying  a week or less (filling up our water tanks before hand and dumping as we leave.) Some people stay at a spot for 3-6 months, which further reduces costs, but we aren't ready to do that yet. There's still so much to see! There are some who boondock for months at a time in BLM land for very little money, but we do like our amenities so we haven't done much boondocking. Campgrounds in the Southwest are typically lower costs than in the East, with the exception of California of course.

Do we have any regrets that we sold the house and went on the road?  NO!  We are having the time of our lives!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A New Loom

There is not much that can tempt me these days in fiber equipment, but recently I purchased a new loom and I wanted to show it off. It is a card loom made by a man named Jonathan Seidel, and his looms are pieces of art. His website may be seen here.

Allow me to introduce you to my new card loom.  Crafted in walnut with cherry accents, it is a real beauty. I contacted Jonathan and described the loom, and he told me it was a special order made last year, identified by the straight ends rather than one straight and one pointed end.

This card loom is a "folding" loom, so it takes up little space when compacted (a good thing when you have limited storage space.)  Actually it has two main parts that are held together with little brass hooks. The folded loom also clips together with the brass hooks as well.

Note the round inkle band that I was weaving last week and have now used in place of the nylon cord that arrived with the loom. I think it's a big improvement. I have ordered a heddle from Jonathan that will match the loom, but it will be probably 4 or 5 months until he is able to make it and ship it to me.

Card weaving is an ancient form of band weaving that may be used to create very complex designs. I have woven basic bands with this method and look forward to doing more.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Three Days of Fun

Wednesday was a rainy day, and Rob decided he wanted to stay at the motorhome to watch movies, so that's what we did. We rented a movie from Redbox which was a new experience for me. I'm sure we'll use that again on the road.

Yesterday dawned clear and sunny, a perfect day for miniature golf. We went to Avalon to play. This time we kept score. Rob played his best game yet and I almost beat Bob, tieing him foe first place.
 Afterwards we went to the sea wall and looked out at the ocean. There was quite a surf out there with lots of whitecaps.

We topped off our time with an ice cream cone. It was a nice day.

Today was our last full day in Cape May and we drove to the Cape May Lookout Tower not far from the lighthouse.

The Tower was used during WWII to watch for enemy ships in the shipping lanes between Cape May and Delaware. Not many people realize that German submarines patrolled the waters off the coast of NJ and actually sank 26 U.S. ships. A docent at the top of the Tower regaled us with stories of that scary time in American history.

After our visit to the Tower we drove to the Lobster House for lunch. Bob had a really tasty lobster salad and Rob enjoyed his burger with fries. I was disappointed in my fried clams. And service was really slow. But we enjoyed our meal anyway.

One last long swim in the pool and our day was done, and it was time to get ready for the trip back to Cherry Hill. It has been a nice twelve days here.