I'm still on the road back from Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon. It's quite the trip.
Since I needed to be in southern Oregon, I looked at the map and traced out the possibilities of getting into northern California to see spinner/weaver/dyer/multifiberist Stephenie Gaustad and master wheelmaker (among other things) Alden Amos. I haven't seen them in way too many years. I tried to get a visit in last year, but the mileage and timing didn't work at all. This time . . . well, what's a few hundred miles and another day?
These posts will continue to be long on photos and short on words. I've been doing a lot of looking. The constant variations in the landscape fascinate me.
Welcome to California. STOP: "Are you transporting any fresh fruit?"
Lovely rest stop:
(I should have taken a comparison one in Nevada two days later, but I didn't stick around long enough there.)
I've also been looking at a lot of this:
The driving has been amazingly pleasant, except for within a certain radius of Sacramento. Drivers became precipitous and rude. Wound way too tight. I was there about 3 in the afternoon but they acted like they had been dealing with both rush hour and construction zones indefinitely. I revamped my route on the spot and took a longer road that got me out of there faster.
It also took me past this:
I didn't know until I saw Alden that this is Rancho Seco, a nuclear plant that has been decommissioned. I found the sight of the cooling towers above the vineyards disturbing. Apparently, the area is now a park. (I also saw a pair of cooling towers while driving in southwest Washington, but I can't figure out what site they were. Washington's nuclear sites have been elsewhere in the state, and although I could have seen something that large in Oregon the Trojan site's single cooling tower was demolished in 2006.)
About then, I was wondering where the heck Stephenie and Alden lived, and why they lived there, and whether adding this piece to my trip was such a good idea. . . .
Fortunately, the Dragonfly Farms (Stephenie and Alden) part of the state of California is delightful.
I got a tour of the studios and workshops, where both Stephenie and Alden craft the tools to do fine textile work (and do a lot of fine textile work, and bookbinding as well). I got to watch Alden shape the accelerating wheel for a banjo charkha (lathe work, done freehand).
Supper was exquisite—a multi-bean soup with fresh garlic, a mix of zucchini and hominy, and pineapple-lime juice—and since the topic had come up we watched the 1935 Max Reinhardt version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (with James Cagney as Bottom, Mickey Rooney as Puck, and Olivia de Havilland as Hermia).
Then we stayed up later than any of us usually do, talking and spinning (I got to spin on Stephenie's bull-pup, and on two lovely little tahkli spindles, both of local fabrication). I was so tired I was drafting with the hand I don't usually use to draft and figured that I was just exhausted and haven't spun cotton in a while. . . . I figured out later, in the middle of sleeping, that I'd been drafting with my less agile hand. . . . Considering that, I'd done pretty well!
In the morning, we looked at textiles that required
magnification to be fully appreciated. I hope to have more posts on
that later, although I need to figure out how to get pictures of really
Anything I say about Stephenie and Alden is inadequate, except that I'm so glad I got to see them. Even after too many years, we picked up just where we'd been, or better. . . .