Two go and One arrives

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 was a sad day and a not so sad day.


Tessa Jane (December 31, 1999- September 22, 2015)



Tessa as a pup

Tessa was my first Border Collie ever.  Charlie and I had been married about 2 months and he had to go offshore for his very first trip offshore after we were married.  Being on my own was no big deal, however it was a bit different being that I was in Scotland and knew next to no one.  He was only gone for about five days that I recall but I got Tessa during that time.  She was just 8 weeks old.


Hector, Charlie’s da holding his Tessa

My sister Jessica came to visit later on when Tessa was a bit more grown and gave her the middle name of Jane, and Tessa Jane she was forever after know as.  Tessa was a blue smooth border collie.  She had blue eyes until she was about 5 months old when they finally settled to the darker color that they were the rest of her life.  We never got our next border collie, Abbey, until Tessa was 18 months old.  So she had Charlie and I all to herself for that time.

Hector, Charlie’s Da, adored Tessa.  He never really forgave us when we got Abbey our second border collie until we got our third border collie, Prue.  Than it was not so much that he forgave us, but that he gave us for lost.  Apparently we were crazy.  Charlie never figured out why he was so stand offish with Abbey until he saw a photo of Teddy, Hector’s child hood Border collie.  Abbey was the image of Hector’s Teddy.  Abbey of course is an intelligent border collie so she eventually won Hector over by bonding with him watching Aberdeen and Celtic footie game.  We had made a VCR tape for Abbey of bits of the game and bits of Animal Planet and she and Hector watched that tape for hours together.  The TV would be off and Abbey would find Hector in the sitting room.  She would go and sit pretty in front of the TV.  Pause and wait.  Turn and look at Hector.  Turn and look at the TV and repeat until he turned on the TV and popped her tape in.  Abbey trained Hector to turn on her tape and all was well between them.

Tessa at Aden Park, Mintlaw Scotland

Tessa never did watch Footie with Hector and Abbey.  She did have Hector wrapped around her paw equally but in a different area.  Tessa was afraid of heights, specifically bridges and horribly so with bridges she could see through.  When she stayed with Hector, they went for walks daily.  Upon coming to a bridge in Buckie on their walk, Hector would pick her up and carry her across so her paws didn’t have to touch that scary old bridge at all.

Charlie and I took Tessa frequently to Aden Park for walks and outings.  Aden Park is a stunning location in Mintlaw, Scotland.

She always enjoyed meeting new dogs and the bigger and stranger they were the more that she wanted to play with them.  We walked at the beach in Peterhead, Scotland or down at the dunes frequently.  Tessa never seemed to have much interest in small dogs, but those great big snarly boisterous tough dogs had her attention from first woof!

Rolling in dead seagulls was another favorite pastime of hers as well as drinking the sea water in order to throw up all the way home in the car.  You will be missed Tessa Jane.  She had reached 15.75 years old.  A ripe old age for a Scottish Border Collie.


Domino (? – September  22, 2015)

Domino, on the Colorado Ranch

Domino was a double merle Australian Shepherd, Aussie.  We adopted him in summer of 2006 but I first heard of him December 2005 where he had been dumped by his previous owner into a kill shelter in California.  I called the shelter from Scotland and they said the owner stated Domino was 7.5 years old.  He was adopted and returned the next day and later adopted by an Aussie rescue agency.  The agency foster homed him for about 6 months and we got him after moving back to the states summer of 2006.



Domino was with our family for a little over 9 years.  We know that he was probably at least 4 years old by the time that we got him but don’t know if he was really as old as 7.5 years.  Either way, he wasn’t a spring chicken when we let him go.

A double merle is a breeding that should never be done.  It breeds a merle to another merle in the mistaken hope that they will get a litter of all merle pups.  Usually this is done to try to get more money as Merle pups are in higher demand due to the public liking the color and pattern.  The problem with this is that you don’t necessarily get more merle pups in the litter.  You do have a 1 in 3 chance of getting a deaf pup that may also be blind and have a lot of other genetic mutations and abnormalities.  Domino was mostly blind and he was deaf.  Towards the end we had to do eye drops for him every day for over a year.  One morning he had woke up with his blue eye all yellow orange because it was bleeding inside the eye and I couldn’t even see the blue any longer.  Once we got the swelling down and the bleeding stopped after a few months, we did eye drops for maintenance to try to stop that every happening again. This was some of his genetic problems due to being a double merle.  One of his eyes was smaller than the other, had very little color and was his mostly blind eye.


Domino was all bull moose!  His idea of fun and play was to run over the border collies and he loved a good tussle.  He loved being outside as well as inside by the fire on a cold wintery day.  Oddly enough, Domino and I didn’t get on as much as I had hoped.  We did have an understanding and got on most times, but he decided from the off that he was Charlie’s dog. He loved Charlie through and through.

He sat many times next to Charlie and would drape his front paw over Charlie’s hand and just rest it there.  Or he draped his front paw over Charlie’s ankle if Charlie’s feet were up on the settee.  He was happy and content to just sit there with his paw draped over Charlie as if he was holding hands and that was all that he required.  Now if Charlie wanted to pet him, hold him tight in a death lock and love on him….who was Domino to ever say no.

Domino and I had quiet moments where he draped his paw over me as well when we were alone.  With no one around, I could give him a little treat and he took it from me ever so gentle.  I was always amazed at how white he was in color and how soft his fur was…superbly soft.  Many folks have bought some of Domino’s fiber to spin in their projects.

Domino you are missed and now you are free from pain.  Whatever age you were, you had a full and long life.


One Arrives (September 22, -?)

I did say that we had two that left us Tuesday and one arrived.  During the time that Charlie and I were letting Tessa and Domino go and burying them in the pet cemetery with our other dogs, we had a new arrival here on the ranch.

Llama Cria still wet

Glenda, our black llama mama, had an all black male cria.  He is ever so long legged and scrawny looking.  But look at all those curls stop those stilts for legs.  Baby is doing well so far and up and moving around this weekend.

Glenda seems to be settling into motherhood as this was her second cria.  She lost her first cria in CO a few years ago due to a dog interference.  We were unsure if she would bond with this baby after her last traumatic experience but she has done well.

Cria baby with mom and another llama

We still have a few llamas that we believe are pregnant but with no idea of their breeding date we won’t know when the crias will arrive until they are here.  The first cria lived for 10 days and that all happened while Charlie was offshore.  This is the first llama we have ever had born that Charlie was able to see.

Two left and One arrived.  What a surprise that made a very sad day just a little bit better.

“Antique Traditions” in the Journey to Golden Fleece Museum Show

I was one of the students two years ago in the very first Journey to the Golden Fleece Course.  Our final project was supposed to be completed around Christmas 2014.  I was up to date with my Module 1-7 yarns but stalled a bit in my Module 8 final project.  There was a second graduation at the later date of March 2015.

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part 2

Unfortunately, in Feb 2015, I had an accident on the ranch that involved about 40-50 pounds of snow, ice, wood, and my face and head that left me with a broken nose and head injury.  Believe me when I tell you that really stalled my final project. I am healing albeit slower than I like because as my husband says I was at the back of the queue when patience was passed out.  I generally tell him that is not true….I wasn’t even in the room when the patience was passed out!!!

I let Suzy and Arlene know that photos were on the way a few weeks prior when I got close to completion.  I had sort of given up the idea of my piece being considered for the museum showing, my ability to travel to the show, or even if Charlie would be available to be onshore at the ranch.  Imagine my surprise a few days later when I received an email from Arlene and Suzy that included the following information:


The Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania will be showing a collection of Journey to the Golden Fleece pieces from October 2, 2015 to November 22, 2015.

The collection being shown will contain approximately twenty pieces.  The museum has asked that we submit the pieces from the following artists for their final selection to be included:
Simone Broersma
Susan Bruck
Pam Crichton
Elysa Darling
Clare Des Bruyeres
Cari Jarman
Sandy Lyons
Jan Massie
Joelle McCarthy
Clare Chapman
Randi Winters
Arlene Thayer
Suzy Brown
Virginia Schlomiti
Silja Devine
Emma Nicholson
Esther Rodgers
Debra Lambert
Melissa Yoder Ricks
Melisa Morrison

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part One


My final project is in two parts.  Mod 1-6 is in Part One with Mod 7 being Part Two.  It is a mixed fiber medium piece.  All the yarn is hand spun during the course.  You can see all the Mod 1-7 yarns HERE.  Various parts are woven on a rigid heddle loom, woven on a circular loom, wet felted, dry needle felted, free form crochet, woven felt, and the backing was sewn on my vintage 1954 Singer 99K hand crank sewing machine.  I don’t really know how to sew so that was a fun experiment starting on such a large piece.  Most of it was pieced together with hand sewing or free form crochet.  Part One piece is approximately 5′ x 5′.

1954 Singer 99K Hand Crank Sewing Machine

I set myself the challenge to spin traditional yarns with architectural plies, to keep it all white, and to use the same fiber with the same prep through out the entire course.  All the yarn is spun from 15.5 micron merino in a commercial combed top preparation.  The only added bits are some white natural fresh water pearls strung on a white silk thread and Mod 6 yarn which includes garnet seed beads strung on a white silk thread.   There is some white silk hankies used in the felted parts but not in the spinning of the seven yarns.  I am excited to be included and very happy that I am going to be able to go to the exhibit.


Ran Away….

I woke up today and asked Charlie if he wanted to go to Grand Haven.  He said yes so we left the house in 20 minutes and were gone.  Ran away and threw the job list out the window.  We took the CJ 7 Jeep down and Chloe went with us.

Red Sun Flower

We walked along the Chinook Pier, stopped into a Celtic shop and bought a few fairies for the fairy gardens, looked at the boats and trains and wandered back.  We drove up and down the downtown shopping area and had a peek at what was there.  Stopped somewhere to grab something to eat and decided to take the top down off the Jeep.  Once it was folded down and tucked away it started to spit with rain.  I mean almost IMMEDIATELY.  I am not joking.  oh well.

We drove up to Muskegon and looked for Korina’s coffee place called the Brew House.  She has been bugging me to get down there and of course since it was totally unplanned we missed her by a short time as she had already left.  Sod’s law.  We meandered back along Business 31 instead of the express way and went through Whitehall and Montague to look for the location that has the farmers market and the artisan market.  I noticed that Dogs and Suds was open finally as every time I had been by they had been closed before.  We got something to eat and meandered home via the back roads.

Melisa and Chloe on the 2 new boulders

Melisa and Chloe on two new boulders

Charlie took photos of Chloe and I sitting on the two new boulders that I impulse bought for the stone circle in the woods project.  They were delivered last week and dumped by the front fence until we get a few more.  We have to decide where they will be place in the forest.  One is two ton and the other is 1.5 ton.

Charlie and the Sun Flowers

Charlie also wanted a photo of himself with the sunflowers to show them to scale.  These sun flowers were planted by the birds on top of my tatties!!  Sunflowers are doing great but I haven’t seen my tatties for some time now.


Red Sun Flower

I have been waiting for some time but finally the RED sunflowers that I planted just popped yesterday.  woohoo!

All in all it was an enjoyable day even if we didn’t get a thing done.  On a side note: my new short spikey hair cut really works well in the Jeep.  All that wind makes my hair stand straight up which is exactly what it is supposed to do!

a bit of a catch up……

It has been ages since I have posted to my blog.  There is a reason.  I had an accident in February that crushed my head between and beneath about 40-50 pounds of wood, ice and snow.  I dropped the wood box lid with all the snow and such on my head when my head was in the box.  It crushed my head in between, hitting me both in the back and front of the head, broke my nose, split my face open and required stitches and an emergency visit.  That has all healed up, but the head injury part did not heal as quickly.  It has been a long hard six months but I am starting to feel better and starting to create again.  Before this it was very hard to be on the computer, type, text, talk on the phone ect.  Just too much input causing too many headaches.  That is why I have been absent….along with a smart phone and internet that has refused to play nice….or smart!!

Dry laid stone dykes

This last week, we have been building stone dyke walls outside around the flower beds.  Dry stacking sand stone and doing some in round field stones.  It will make it much easier to strim and mow.  I have found that all my lovely plants do not always obey and stay in their beds.  Some of the plants like Lily of the Valley in particular, like to wander out of their beds all over the yard.

Beautiful Lilies

We have had some super fab lilies this last week pop their flowers.  I love my double and trumpet lilies.  For a week, every time I walked past the studio the scent in the evening was almost over whelming.  Their blooms are past now and I am finding I am missing their scent.


The Sunflowers have started to bloom.  I planted a lovely variety of RED sunflower that I am still anxiously awaiting to open.  They are sooooo close.  The birds however, planted loads of Black Oil Sunflower seeds absolutely everywhere and those have been blooming ….well…everywhere!!

I have been working on my final project and should have it finished shortly.  The Fiber Face piece is complete.  The backing is sew together, hemmed, pressed and sewn to the front Fiber Piece.  I have to add two more tabs to finish out the top and steam block it.  Than it is done and photos will follow.  I stitched the entire backing, tabs, and hems with my new to me 1954 Singer 99K.  I adore this sewing machine and with it being a hand crank, I can go as slow as I want to.  It is wonderful.  I have been afraid of sewing for years and avoided it since my childhood.  It is so good to be creating and making things that I want to.  Isn’t this machine gorgeous?

1954 Singer 99K

I found two lovely hand cranks.  This 1954 Singer 99K and also a 1957 Singer 15K-80. Charlie has used the 15K-80 to sew himself a felt quilt padded pouch for his new lap top that is too big for his old computer bag.  We went to the Hen House on the east side of the state and met a lovely group of ladies that were quilting.  One explained to Charlie how to do a “french seam” and he did it for his first piece.  I didn’t pay any attention to them as I was more focused on sewing a regular seam somewhat straight and not my fingers included.  I thought he could show off if he wanted to.

I did get several other sewing machines as well.  Five all total.  I already showed you and told you about the 1926Singer 31-15 treadle.  She is an industrial sewing machine.  I also got a 1941 Singer 66 treadle.  I will use these two once I want to go faster than my hand cranks allow.

Last but not least, I got a 1949 Singer 15-91 electric for when I want to go really fast.  All told I bought five vintage Singer machines and have plans to get my sewing, weaving, and spinning nook sorted soon.  Currently they are spread out all over the place and it looks like a fiber and sewing shop exploded in the house.

Good News: we finally located my brand new never been used Juki Serger and the box of all the threads.  We haven’t been able to locate it in the storage units or semi for the last two years.  I was convinced that it was in a specific storage unit which was the only one of our units that was broken into last fall.  I was correct and it was in that unit but was not stolen thank goodness.  It was just very well buried and hidden….enough so that in about 4-5 trips both Charlie and I couldn’t find it.  It is found now so more progress and learning is on my horizon.

Goat Kidding Spring Season was in May.  We had five kids total born this May, with three being sold to new homes.  Fall Kidding season is about upon us.  I have several goats getting ready to kid at the end of August and into September.  Sweet Pea had a single doe in June and it was a hard one for her.  Her milk didn’t come in as good as it should have and the doe kid was very weak.  I was out there when she delivered so I sat with the kid wrapped in a towel zipped inside my carhart for hours.

Aileen around a week old in the barn yard

She was so weak she would have died had I not taken her into the house for two days.  She is now fat, sassy and running around every where.  A blue eyed blue pinto roan off one of my best does.  Her name is Aileen, which is Gaelic for “sunbeam”.  She is Sweet Pea’s last kid as we will be retiring her and finding her a pet home for her golden years.

All the llamas that we gave away have all come back to the ranch.  We decided to get two of them back around Thanksgiving and let the other two go for good.  However, those two also recently came back to the ranch.  All of them we think may well be pregnant.  So we are watching them as certain ones are getting rather plump and heavy.

It has been very busy here on the ranch.  Trees coming down, walls going up, flowers being planted, weeds being dug up, goats coming and going, llamas coming back.  So much activity.

I have started to learn how to sew with a vintage hand crank machine.  I did my first quilt bit that I made to be a pad under the dog’s water dish for drips.  I have been spinning.  Finally I have made three scarves with the Broomstick stitch in Crochet.  I had planned on doing that several years ago but moving state and injuries got me side tracked a bit.  Now that stitch is super fun!  I have woven for the first time with a bulky weight single ply as my warp and silk hankies shredded and used for weft.  There has been so much going on I forgot to tell you all about it.  I know that this is a feeble catch up for so many months of silence but I will do better as I am able to put in more computer time.  Off for now…..

Singer 31-15 Treadle Sewing Machine

Here she is, and we don’t know her name yet.  I got a new to me, Singer 31-15 Treadle Sewing Machine from 1926.  She needs to be cleaned up, cleaned out and the cabinet cleaned, but everything works as is right now even without the polish.

1926 Singer 31-15 Treadle Sewing Machine

I bought it from a lady in Grand Rapids, MI who bought it from her husband’s uncle in the 1950′s when she first got married.  She told me that she took tailor and sewing classes and used it for years.  Her husband’s uncle bought it new from Singer in 1926 and he had a tailor shop on Plainfield in Grand Rapids making suits.  She belongs to me now.

I always wanted to learn to sew as a child but even though my family did sew, it did not make sense to me.  I remember taking one class with my mother and grandmother at the local high school and we had to make a blouse that had buttons down the front, a ruffled removable placket for the front, collar, cuffs, and was fitted.  I found it next to impossible.  I wasn’t able to sew straight lines, had to rip and tear out and redo so many times the end result was holes in the fabric everywhere….and worse yet it caused me to hate sewing and be terrified of sewing machines.  The machines went too fast and no amount of ridicule from my family made it any better for me.

1926 Singer 31-15 Treadle Sewing Machine

Fast forward about 35 years and I am stuck with many of my designs with my weaving of wearable art into too boxy of shapes and need something more fitted and tailored.  I decided to get a treadle sewing machine so that I can learn to sew slower speed and get past this childhood fear.

I remember that patterns did not make sense to me, cutting them out was hard on my hands even as a child, how they went together made zero sense and the instructions were even more gibberish to me.  None of these things were taught to me.  None of this was explained.  I was made to feel horrible, useless and stupid because I couldn’t “get” it.

I have decided that I don’t need patterns, don’t need electricity and don’t need speed.  I can learn to sew without all that my own way and be able to design what I want and how I want.  I can sew my hand spun, hand woven and felted fabrics together, put them on a backing, make quilts, bags and other assorted things without patterns if I so desire.  I may decide in time to give some simple patterns a try again, but this time I know I will succeed because my husband, Charlie does understand patterns and used to help his Mam make dresses on her treadle sewing machine.  He also has something I have never encountered before…..patience with my mind blocks that don’t make any logical sense.  So I know that he can teach me what I can’t figure out myself without giving me another complex for the next 35 years of my life.