Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

Squirrel Traps! (& other things to worry about on the 6th anniversary of our wedding)

To celebrate six years of being wed, we decided to take a walk in the woods. Or perhaps we decided to take a walk in the woods & what do you know, it was our anniversary! Either way, there we were sitting down eating a snack when Martin fell asleep. Mom believes this tendency is located on the Y chromosome.




While he was resting, Iris invented squirrel traps. As you might suspect, squirrel traps are meant to trap squirrels. Anything meant to trap squirrels should somehow employ nuts. It is quite possible that the idea was inspired by a video that Dad sent us by Mark Rober, “Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.” Iris’s resources were a bit more limited than Mr. Rober’s. She dug a hole with a large stick, surrounded it by small sticks, placed a leaf on the bottom, and would bait the leaf at the proper time. This particular squirrel trap, just so you are aware, is not meant to physically trap a squirrel. It is meant to mentally trap their focus for a moment, distracting them from whatever they were concentrating on, enticing them into the hole to eat the nut. Then the squirrel would be free to go.




After much longer than you might think it would take to engineer such a trap, the work was done. Either because she figured it wouldn’t take much to distract a squirrel or because she didn’t particularly want to share her snack, Iris chose the smallest nut she could find then woke Martin for the celebratory baiting of the trap.




When we reached the place of the grandfather trees, Iris resumed building. First, she experimented with building tripods. She tried very hard. What she learned is that it is difficult to lean three sticks together and have them stay just so.




Meanwhile, Akiva continued to play toss-the-spike with an iron spike that we found in an old junk pile. He had been playing it the whole way’s down the path since the junk pile. It’s played like this: toss the spike. Walk forward. Pick up the spike. Repeat. Usually, the spike lands sideways, bounces, then spins.




In this photograph, I have managed to capture the moment the spike landed point-down in the ground. Pine needles splash like water drops.




While this is going on, I play with the panorama feature on my camera. I have never used it before. Upon developing the photos, I see that, when taking a horizontal panorama, it would be a good idea to have a long depth of field. My favorite panorama captures Martin once again enjoying the activity of woodland resting.




Having given up on building a tripod, Iris built a common four-sided gnome house with a bark roof. She chose a nice forked stick to set off the front door so that the gnomes would know how to enter properly.




Finally, I took some portraits of my children. Mom says I should just take some nice photos of them now and again. Aside from the days when I take lots and lots of photos at once, I hardly seem to be taking many photos at all lately. But the woods are lovely for portraits. Here are some regular-ol’ photos of my kiddos, so’s you can go on and admire their cuteness. Or at least so I can admire their cuteness. That’s why I take photos, really: not for you: for me.




































Sunday, June 28th, 2020

Circle Skirt 2

I wanted to make Iris a new dress. First I picked a fabric from my stash. Hmm. Yellow with green leaves. Three yards. That should be good. Then I picked an idea. I wanted to make a new version of a dress I made two years ago. Seeing as Iris was playing happily, in lieu of measuring anything (my first mistake), I decided just to go maybe two sizes up, lengthen the bodice a bit, and make the skirt a bit longer.




I made the bodice first. Lovely. Then I made the skirt. Oops. Not enough fabric. Fortunately, I’m great at piecing & I was able to piece together the circle skirt in a rather unusual, unnoticeable manner. I didn’t have any scraps large enough to cut pockets, so I cut them from a plain yellow, seeing as they would not be seen. Only the smallest, most useless scraps of fabric were left over.




I placed the pockets without measuring how long Iris’s arms are. I knew logically they should go at the top of the skirt, but I didn’t know if my circle skirt would exactly match the bodice, in terms of circumference. I wanted to leave room for possible miscalculation. My method for calculating the opening for the circle skirt is to do a bunch of math and then decrease the opening by one centimeter. I don’t know what the centimeter does, but last time, I wish I decreased the opening by one centimeter. I figured I’d better put the pockets too low instead of too high. If I put them too high, they might get cut in half if the diameter of the circle skirt is too small in diameter for the bodice due to my random one centimeter alteration. So I put them on the skirt, about three inches from the top. Things I do in a calculated manner I do in centimeters; things I do haphazardly I do in inches.




I used the rolled-hem foot for the first time on the bottom of the circle skirt. It turned out perfect, thank you. Then I attached the bodice to the skirt. That was also perfect! Thus, my random pocket placement is about 2.5 inches too low. Ugh. Useless! Finally, I went through the button box. I absconded with approximately 15,429 buttons from my mother’s house, so I always have the perfect button for every occasion*. In this case, I chose a pair of matching carved vintage mother-of-pearl buttons. Magnificent! I will not allow her to wear the dress anywhere.




For a photo shoot, we went to our new favorite spot on the Massawippi River. I discovered it one day when our old favorite spot had been just been shat upon. The shitter was still there. His shit was covered in flies and surrounded by toilet paper. He had shat right in the middle of the trail. Disgusting! I could tell it was him. He had stayed there a while, unpacked all his bike bags, eaten, and pooped in the middle of the trail. We biked up past him, right to the spot he used for a toilet, and he quickly got packing and left. Disgusting. So we had to leave, too, seeing as the spot was now ruined. The new favorite spot is lovely, tho.




I really don’t know what kind of occasion this dress is good for. Although I generally just let her wear the dresses I make anywhere, this one is a bit much and a bit more easily stained, due to its color, than the others. I suppose she can wear it to school, should school start up again in the spring. It should fit her for a couple of years. We will see if she still likes circle skirts and mama dresses when she is ten.







*NOTE: My mother does not have the perfect button for any occasion. In fact, she is no longer an owner-of-buttons. Sorry, Mom. I took them while you were plastering the ceiling. I thought you wouldn’t notice.**


**NOTE: Actually, Mom, you gave them to me saying that you probably wouldn’t use them any time soon. You would have been right had it not been for the completely unforeseeable global pandemic. The simple precaution of leaving you six plain buttons to make straps on which to hook your ear elastics to would certainly have prevented the pandemic in the same manner that carrying an umbrella keeps away the rain and that hanging the laundry is sure to induce a downpour. What I mean to say is, thank you for the buttons.

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Grotto, again

I took a photograph of my children here on October 19, 2017.

They have grown!



I love them so.


Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Iris & a New Doll

I finished a new doll.

Iris said, “You used to take pictures of me holding dolls.”

And so I did, again. This one will be going to France.











Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Massawippi River

We ride the cargo bike down to the bike path on the Massawippi.




We get wet.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

We walk upstream from the school

We walk down through the school woods then turn left, back up the hill, where the stream goes under the culvert.

The children practice crossing and re-crossing a log.











There are many people footprints here. There are also raccoon footprints, ‘possom footprints, mouse footprints, and various bird footprints. Akiva finds snails to be the easiest animal to track and spends some time judging a snail race.





Upstream, we find many bones of a long-dead horse. Iris takes home some teeth.

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

More Rabbits







Six kits were born on April 26, 2020.

One died the next day.

One was paralyzed in its hind legs and had to be put down.

Four bunnies remain.





Even Martin thinks they’re cute.



Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Train Engine at the Station (Unit Blocks)

Akiva asked Martin to play with blocks. Martin wanted to build something new: I started building parking garages for Akiva’s cars a few years ago, & although it’s not getting old for Akiva, who is four, Martin who is 48, is a bit more ambitious. He took out his phone for inspiration. A few hours later, one engine and one coal car stood on a slightly-elevated track at a train station. Fantastic!





The engineer climbs into the engine.





The rest of the people get off the orange bus. They wait to board the platform.





Slowly, slowly they climb a great staircase where one single rise is higher than their shoulder.





The people at the top of the platform mill about,

discussing where they will sit.





“There is an engine and a coal car,” one person says.

“The engineer won’t let us ride with him, and the conductor won’t let us ride in the coal car!”

“Where does this train go, anyway?” says another person.





An angry mob debarks the platform. One person is trampled in the rush.





Infuriated by the inconvenience, they storm back to their bus.





Still, the train waits at the station. Where does this train go?



Friday, April 24th, 2020

Akiva throws rocks in the stream.

I find it interesting that he throws rocks with his left hand:

he does everything else I can think of with his right hand.



Monday, April 20th, 2020

How Clothing Wears


I bought the train pyjamas at a thrift store in Vermont two years ago. What a find! Perfect condition, and only two dollars. “Let’s not wear them until they fit you,” I said. He was three. They were size seven. He slept one night with the pyjamas under his pillow and did not sleep one cool night without them after that.





Last night he saw the holes in the knees and elbows and cried. “Take a photograph of me in them. I will never wear them again.” He does not want to wear them out. He wants me to make them into something else, something to keep forever. I dare not cut something so precious.





Iris has never particularly liked the upcycled sweater dress I made when she was not-yet-two, but I still did not want to get rid of it. It is what freed me from the confinement of patterns and got me sewing again. This morning, she put it on. “It is so snuggly and soft,” she said, “and it still fits.”





The pants that I made a little while later, on the other hand, are no longer snuggly and soft, nor would they still fit, if they existed. They were worn to rags. The woolen rags were cut into strips. The strips were rolled to make the tight inner heads for wool-stuffed dolls. What do  you make of that?