Friday, July 31, 2020

High Summer in Arizona

We have always feared summer in the greater Phoenix area, so it has been surprising that we truly are not miserable here. Yes, we’ve had high temperatures...
...but since July is the hottest month and we are ready to step into August, it looks like we’ll survive it. Bob still spends some time outside with his power tools yet as long as he can duck inside to cool down every so often, he says it’s fine. And I’m happy as long as I have my hobbies! We still swim once or twice a week in the park’s pool. The water is like bath water and at about 5:00 pm we have the place to ourselves. It’s divine!

Bob has been building on his wood turning skills and this month he made me a beautiful rolling pin.
This is bloodwood and maple, with a little purpleheart for the inlay swirls. He made the holder, too, so the pin could be displayed. Isn’t it gorgeous?
He also made this candleholder from a piece of the bloodwood using maple inlay.

I’ve been working on my freehand quilting skills this month and have finished this panel quilt as a practice piece.
It will come with us in the motorhome when we travel. I like having maps around.

I’ve been knitting lots, too. I made this family set of dolls for Jillian...
...and this Cinderella set for Quinn and Eve...
...while Silas got this dinosaur to play with.
I also appliqu├ęd a little onesie for a soon-to-be-born great nephew.
Plus I’m still working on weaving dish towels on my Macomber loom and lots of masks continue to go out!

We have another month until people start to make their way back to the park here. Most seasonal folks return around October but the season officially starts in September so things will start to change. For one thing, we won’t be the only ones on our block anymore! Half of the park is typically made up of Canadians but it does not look like they’ll be back for a while because of Covid-19. The heat will start to dissipate but activities probably won’t resume for a while. No one knows what fall will be like here. We’ll take it as it comes.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

And Now its July

It’s July already. I can’t believe I let a whole month pass without a new blog post. Bob and I are fine here in Arizona, despite the alarming reports on the skyrocketing number of Covid-19 cases here. We are staying away from people and wearing masks whenever we go anywhere, which is a rare occasion. We still have some friends in the park, too. Last week we ran into Becky and her dog, Ace.
Since we don’t feel safe getting our hair cut, we’ve had to become creative. I got tired of feeling so shaggy so I asked Bob to trim my hair. He did a really good job, too! I’ve been cutting his hair for years, off and on, but this is the first time he has given me a trim.
Speaking of “trim,” Bob has been painting the trim on the house and the silver looks much better than the dated brown we had. Here’s the before and after. What do you think?
I have finished a few sewing projects, one being a new slipcover for the porch glider using some heavy denim I purchased last year in Tucson.
A while back I bought some cones of cottolin yarn and I decided it was high time I tackled my dish towel project. So I set up my loom and started weaving. Haha, I just made that sound so easy, didn’t I? It actually took me quite a few days to measure out the 6 yard warp, wind the yarn onto the warp beam, thread all 451 threads into their own individual heddles, pull each thread through a particular slot in the reed, tie onto the front of the loom, make the tie ups under the loom, check everything for mistakes, and then finally start to weave. I took my time because it’s been a while since I’ve put a warp on this loom. And I only had a couple of easy-to-fix errors! I must say, the WeaveIt app with threading and treadle tracking is a pretty inexpensive way to prevent errors when you are weaving with more than two harnesses! I love it. And here is the start of my first towel (there will be five towels from this warp and all will be different.)
Bob has been staying busy, too. He has finished the fourth salad bowl and it’s beautiful (#4 is the bottom one.)
Now he is on to rolling pins and is enjoying figuring out the Celtic Knot pattern. I’ll post a step by step of that process next time because it’s pretty interesting.

Friday, May 29, 2020

End of May, 2020

Do your days seem to run into each other now? Life moves on and we are coping just fine, staying busy sometimes (well, Bob is ALWAYS busy) and other times just reading. We aren’t big daytime TV watchers; both of us are products of our childhood when our parents limited television to after-dinner hours.

Our park has opened the pool and Bob and I have started swimming each evening after dinner. Well, floating, to be honest. We float on a pool noodle and talk with friends or make new friends...there are rarely more than a half dozen people in the pool at a time. We maintain social distancing, wear masks when entering or leaving the patio area, and enjoy a warm dip as the sun starts to set. It’s a lovely way to end a hot day.

Other than that, we have started to spruce up the place on the outside. Bob has been painting over the brown stripe that dates this house so much with a light gray. A big improvement. I’ll post a photo when it’s all finished. Plus, we have purchased some desert-hardy plants for the “front yard,” a 6 x 11’ gravel area in front of the house. We have a new little burro as a lawn decoration, and Bob built a miniature fence section over which the burro can hang his head.
I’ve done a little weaving and have just finished this inkle band. The gray really tones down the Pepto Bismal pink, doesn’t it?

Bob has finished salad bowl #2 out of what will be a 4-bowl series. A lot of people have been amazed  at his bowl making and have asked how this is done, so here are the steps.
First Bob chooses his woods.
Next the wood is cut into segments, 12 per ring.
This bowl will have three rings in graduated sizes, plus a base. They are glued together and clamped for drying.
The rings are ready to be sanded, using Bob’s handy-dandy ring-holder.

The HDRH holds the rings flat against the lathe’s orbital sander, also made by Bob.
The rings are glued together, then are turned on the lathe.
The finished bowl.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Early Summer Temperatures

It’s only April and temperatures this week have been in the triple digits, as high as 105 degrees. On the good side, though, because we replaced our AC system last year we are nice and cool inside. Bob has also been working outside, though, and I’ve been getting use out of our little “pool,” while I keep him company. It’s heated only by the air temperature and so far the water gets up to about 85 degrees.
Bob spent a few days insulating the ceiling of his workshop and is using a swamp cooler to manage the temperature in it. While not as good as an air conditioner, the cooler does make working in the workshop bearable. Especially when Bob sits directly in front of the blower.

A lot of his work is outside, though, and this is what he just finished.
It’s a yarn bowl! Isn’t it gorgeous? Bob had been wanting to turn a bowl on his lathe for a while now so this is his “practice piece.” Made of clear pine with a band of cherry, this bowl is so pretty and practical, too. He’s already started designing a set of individual salad bowls to try out some different patterns. Here he is working on the yarn bowl.
We had planned to visit Idaho and see our daughter Emily and her family this fall. Those plans are now on hold (as, of course, are the plans to visit Kristen, Catherine, and Tim and their families in NJ) but I had promised to make little amigurumi figures for Em’s children. Well, I finished crocheting the figures and sent them off with some masks to keep the whole family safe.

The mask project continues and so far I’ve made over seventy masks, donated to friends, family, and to the park’s mask project.

I also knitted some birds to brighten up our home.
So as you can see, we are staying busy and healthy, and are enjoying our days. We look forward, of course, to the world getting back to some semblance of normal but understand that it will most likely be a long time before that happens. We’re prepared to wait it out.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Life in Isolation

Life has gone on here in Arizona. I’ve kept myself busy sewing masks for friends and family.

I’m still working on weaving my pickup band but it’s almost done. It’s a slow but pleasant weave and I’m really in no hurry. I’m tickled pink about the heddle frame I’m using; Bob made it for me and I made string heddles for it.  It has regular heddles with little eyes and pattern ones, too, so I can do pickup patterns easily. It works so well, and the best thing is that I can have any configuration of slots, holes, and pattern slots that I want, just by adding more heddles.
I’ve made a dust cover for my sewing machine using fabric I purchased a year ago.
The motorhome has been moved to the site across the street and next to us. It’s good to have it nearby so we can keep an eye on it. Bob has been fixing little things on it and is in the process of washing it down. 
I’ve got a little garden growing on my windowsill, and I’m also growing sunflower sprouts and mung bean sprouts.
We have gotten to the grocery store once since April 6 (with the help of some neighbors who have picked things up for us when they went) and are prepared to stay away for at least another week.

We are able to see friends every day, too, as we stay six feet away. We gather each morning for the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the clubhouse. Then we sing the national anthem and say a prayer for our country. A few minutes of chitchat and we are on our way. We enjoy this little ritual.

Hoping you all are well and hanging in there!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Social Distancing in Arizona

It’s interesting how much our life has NOT changed since we’ve been self isolating. This is a typical day now:
Up between 6:00 and 7:00, a bit earlier than before for some reason (our minds won’t let us relax as much, I suspect.) We surf the Web, eat breakfast, and relax until 9:00 am. Then Auggie gets walked, showers are taken, we exercise and take a walk, and do little chores until mid day. A fair amount of my time goes into food preparation which is not much of a chore for me. After lunch Bob pulls out his workshop onto the driveway which is covered so he can work despite strong sun or rain. I’ve been sitting on the deck more now that the temperatures are so perfect and set up my loom or marudai to create something pretty. Neighbors walk by and chit chat, staying six feet away. There’s no pressure to finish a task quickly. Sometimes I read or connect with friends and family by phone.

In the evening we eat dinner, maybe watch a little TV (Bob enjoys war movies so he watches those in the bedroom) or I’ll read my book. We’re in bed by 10:00.

I find this to be a pretty productive time. Bob has made me some new tools to play with:
A simplified version of the Better Loom that I’m using for inkle weaving and may use in my weaving classes. I’m using one of my Handywoman Miniature Backstrap Heddles for making my sheds.
A special heddle frame that I’m using for Baltic weaving. I made string heddles for it that have a combination of regular string heddles and pattern slots that are 1 5/8” long. This allows me to easily add any number of border threads and pattern threads. Details are on my Ravelry project page. A real game changer! Now I just have to figure how to make them easily and inexpensively so that my weaving students can use them.

In the meantime, I really like the ribbon I’m weaving using 10/2 cotton and just 5 pattern threads.
I’ve been using my Schacht old style RH loom to make a fluffy blanket.
I braided a cord on my marudai, half is which was a round spiral braid and for the other half I switched patterns to make a square spiral braid. Just because I can! An interesting experiment.
Hoping you are all safe and healthy, dear reader.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A New World

Life has changed so much since I last posted only six days ago. All activities at our park have been cancelled and the pool is closed. Area restaurants, movie theaters, schools, museums, and libraries are closed. Grocery shelves are empty.

Bob and I are fine, though. I had stocked up on dried beans and grains and I’ve been sprouting seeds. The freezer is stocked with frozen veggies. I’m making soy milk and continue to make bread as needed. Bob is remodeling our utility closet, painting it and adding moveable shelves, and I’ve been weaving. I finished this bracelet the other day.
Now I’m working on weaving a baby blanket for a soon-to-be-born niece.

We are practicing social distancing and washing our hands all the time. The Canadians who winter here in the park have been recalled to Canada and there’s a mad scramble for many of them to return by March 22 when the borders will close. The recall will effect their health insurance so there is real incentive not to dawdle.

The news we hear is that the Coronavirus will most likely still be on the upswing for at least the next seven weeks, so we are assuming that we won’t be going anywhere for at least that long and most likely much longer. There aren’t a lot of people spending the summer here but we have friends who will be here for several months anyway so we won’t be alone. And I’m guessing that once everyone leaves we may be allowed to use the pool, but who knows? We will get through this.

Stay healthy, stay inside, and wash your hands often.