Other items of interest

April Sandwich

white dogwood blossoms in full bloom

My April felt like a sandwich.  The first week and the last days of the month were sliced treats of delicious, hand crafted sourdough bread filled by almost three weeks of a slimy, slightly off-tasting, maybe even salmonella contaminated filling.

Week 1 – A Tennessee trip and time spent with family, flowering trees in full bloom, and a mountaintop wedding.  For a flavor of that week, check my two April blog posts highlighting wedding presents and travel souvenirs.

The last days of April – A whirlwind of warp speed activities as the church building team performed due diligence exploring zoning and building codes, attaining soil boring reports, performing environmental testing and, peculiar to our southeastern corner of Minnesota, conducting Dakota Edge delineation.  When we submitted our Letter of Intent to Purchase land for a new church, we proposed a 90-day timeline for all of this work.  After back-and-forth negotiations, the seller accepted our financial offer but would allow only four weeks for study.  Unbelievably, the myriad of required professionals were able to find time in busy schedules to accomplish the numerous inspections of the property including all the relevant tests.  The stars aligned and not just “in a galaxy far, far away…”

The middle of my month is a sea of days lost to Covid.  After three years of careful sequestration, masks, and practical activities (as well as not so practical actions like wiping groceries) Richard and I were both sick.  Even after the specific symptoms– fever, congestion, cough, and tiredness – subsided, I felt my brain was Covid-addled to the point I worried I might adversely affect building team decisions.  But, not to fear, my trusted colleagues persevered and double checked my work so that we close on this unique parcel of nearly 40 wooded acres on May 10.

Knitting · Travel

The Best Souvenirs

four skeins of multi-colored varigated yarn
The four seasons of the Smoky Mountain Collection: spring, summer, autumn, winter

I received the first skeins of travel yarn in 2016 from a friend who attended a destination wedding in Iceland.  She gifted three skeins of Léttlopi in a deep dark blue that, in turn, became a travel gift for a Swiss cousin.  But, even though I had been knitting for years, I did not purchase any yarn on our 2017 retirement road trip – Minnesota to Spokane to Seattle to Vancouver and home again via the trans-Canadian highway.  I am sure there must have been yarn stores along the way but none made our travel itinerary.

I corrected this omission during our 2018 European adventure – Amsterdam to Spa-Francorpschamps in Stavelot, Belgium to Ingolstadt, Germany to Switzerland and Italy – with purchases our first day in Amsterdam and on our last day in Zurich.  Now I make a stop at a local yarn store as a planned part of our travels, whether I am in Arizona for Cubs spring training (2019) or just two weeks ago while in Tennessee for a mountain top wedding. 

These most recent acquisitions to my stash were handdyed exclusively for Smoky Mountain Spinnery in Gatlinburg and represent the four seasons in their Smoky Mountain Collection.  Each colorway is based on a photograph that captures the location’s natural beauty:  delicate spring flora, the vibrant colors of summer twilight, cascading water amidst fall’s changing leaves, or the bright blue winter canopy over frosty hillsides.  With two skeins of each, the possibilities for future knitting projects are endless.


Wedding Presents

four multicolored pottery bowls with dragonfly motifs on a gray background

For years, Richard and I have given unique hand thrown bowls as wedding presents. There is nothing wrong with purchasing from a couple’s gift registry and we do that too. I remember how excited we were 40 years ago to receive, plate-by-plate, the Dansk Christianshaven Blue dishes we still use today. We give the bowls knowing our gift is something both practical and a work of art; a functional piece that may be hugged as a popcorn bowl on movie night or simply displayed on the table for its beauty.

The merits of a good LYS (local yarn store) are a frequent discussion topic among fiber enthusiasts and I realize Caradori Pottery is my LPS (local pottery store.) The key attributes are very similar: a showcase of intriguing shapes, in a multiplicity of colors, knowledgeable staff, fun accessories, and lively conversations with the potter and proprietor, David Caradori.

For the mountaintop wedding of our great-niece earlier this month, we selected a large bowl similar to those pictured. The light earth-toned background with coral accented petals and dark dragonfly motifs will complement the couple’s lightly speckled charcoal gray everyday stoneware.

Photo credit: © David Caradori


Not so new art installed

After a four month wait, we were quite excited to experience supply chain improvements with a November rather than a February delivery of our Stressless™ recliner.  But then came the real challenge – what art to hang where as the seating configuration in that corner of the living room no longer resembled what had been.  Having quickly discovered the comfy leisureliness of an afternoon nap, the empty space necessary for the recliner to do its thing – that is recline – simply demanded to be filled.  As it turns out, the right piece of art was hanging in the closet.

In September 2006, we drove to Knoxville, Tennessee to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary.  This family occasion also included a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art located in the World’s Fair Park.  With a diverse collection, the museum “focuses on the rich culture, old and new, of the Southern Appalachians” and the museum’s perquisite gallery shop provided an eclectic sampling of local artists’ work.  While I had packed appropriately for all of the various anniversary festivities, I found a beautiful woven stole –the perfect wardrobe upgrade for the celebratory dinner.  The loosely woven wool shawl includes shimmering gold thread, a trio of silk ribbons running the entire length, and Czech crystal bead embellishments.  

Due to its size (21 inches x 96 inches) and its elegant structure, I tended to save it for special occasions like my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary, Minnesota’s sesquicentennial celebrations at the Capitol when I presented Governor Pawlenty with two sesquicentennial flags that had flown over the state’s public libraries or library meetings when power dressing sent the correct message.  I never imagined my 2006 purchase would offer a complementary color palette in our renovated space, as well as provide an acoustical benefit in a room with a new red birch hardwood floor.  The shawl that was safely tucked away amidst layers of tissue paper is now installed as art.