17 October 2014

Lego Americana Roadshow at the Natick Mall

Our nation's capitol.

While shopping at the Natick Mall, DH and I ran into something completely unexpected: the Lego Americana Roadshow.  For a short period of time, October 19 through November 2, rather amazing models of historic buildings and structures made with Lego bricks are on display.   So, if you are a Lego fan, don't delay. Stop by the Lego play area on the Lower Level Infinity Pool Court and pick up a map so you don't miss any of the creations.

I'll let the images speak for themselves.  (On view but not shown: Jefferson Memorial. Not a political statement; just didn't get a good shot.)

Capitol model from above.

Lego play area, on the upper level.

Play area.

Supreme Court.

Supreme Court from above.

White House.

Statue of Liberty.

Independence Hall.

Old North Church, bathed in sunlight.

Old North Church, detail.

Right, Lincoln Memorial, detail. Left, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

Farms, fabric and cheese - a day in Vermont

Taylor Farm, Londonderry, Vermont.

Over Columbus Day week-end, in mid-October, DH and I went in search of cheese.  Yes, I know this is supposed to be a blog about textiles, but cloth will make an appearance, never fear, and we need fuel to energize our textile treks, don't we?

While the Vermont Cheese Trail has 45 participating members, we had only one Saturday, so restricted ourselves to the Manchester area, in southern Vermont. After our 3-hour drive from the Boston area, we were ready for lunch, brunch or anything on a plate. Fortunately for us, a familiar breakfast favorite was still open. Upstairs we went, to join the queue for a seat at Up for Breakfast. After 15 minutes or so, during which a friendly waitress offered us coffee, we climbed onto seats at the counter, with a view of the kitchen, a compact area where people engaged in cooking, serving and cleaning-up maneuver in an enthralling kind of culinary choreography. 

Favorite spot for pancakes.

With the advent of the railroad in the 19th century, Manchester became a resort area for affluent New Yorkers.  With the rise of skiing, tourists journeyed north to enjoy winter recreation at nearby Stratton and Bromley mountains. Summer, as well as spring - also known as "mud season" - could be a difficult time for local businesses, so Manchester re-invented itself yet again as an outlet shopping magnet.  It's a New England variant of the outlet mall, though - shoppers remain outdoors, walking to and from free-standing shops with outdoor parking.   No Muzak, no parking garage hassles.  As an alternative to designer fashion acquisition, there is also a very good independent book store, Northshire Bookstore, and of course the mother ship of the Orvis chain is located here.

Relatively new to the line-up of retail is a Marimekko outlet, and this was my special destination.  I scored yardage at a good price, particularly since the fabrics come in the home decorating standard width of 54," not the apparel/quilt fabric width of 44"-45." I find the weight of the fabric perfectly fine for both piecing and hand or machine quilting. It frustrates me that sometimes women short-change themselves and their work by using inferior materials. When we use our time to make things, our efforts merit quality materials.

Lower right, salesperson in colorful Marimekko leggings and top.

Fabric by a favorite designer, Fujiwo Ishimoto.

Batten Kill River, Manchester center.

Another highlight of Manchester is Hildene, the estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, who made his fortune as Chairman of the Pullman Company, which manufactured railroad cars during the heyday of rail transport.  Hildene, with its house, gardens and cheese-making operation, deserves a day all on its own, but we only had time to dash into the visitor's center and buy some of the delicious goat milk cheese. The Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene, where the cheeses are crafted, pasteurizes its cheese, unlike most of the farmsteads on the cheese tour which sell raw milk products.  While Vermont has very stringent dairy inspections, pasteurization is still recommended for cheese-loving mothers-to-be or nursing moms.

From Hildene, we drove to another stop on the cheese trail, Taylor Farm. This is a real old-fashioned family farm, with mixed livestock including dairy cows, chickens, goats and turkeys. While the ultimate fate of animals like pigs and turkeys is never in question, during their lives they enjoy fresh air, sunshine and the sights and smells of pasture and field.

In addition to its own delicious gouda varieties, Taylor Farm also sells cheese from Plymouth Artisan Cheese and Crowley Cheese, a boon for us as we didn't have time to visit these facilities during our day trip but could still add to our cheese stash. We didn't sample the ice cream, but it looked awfully good.

Sights at Taylor Farm.

On Route 30, while driving back to Boston along the pretty Winhall River, we stopped at a safe pull-off spot to admire the many mini-cairns folks had constructed from river stones.  With the first big blizzard - Vermonters know better than anyone in Westeros that "Winter is Coming" - most of these rock piles will return once more to the river.  An ephemeral art installation, built by many contributors, the landscape of gathered and stacked stone is delightful. 

Stone cairns.

Busy artisan almost was left behind by impatient companions.

Last look.
More information about the Vermont Cheese Trail in Southern Vermont can be found at this article from the Boston Globe newspaper: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2014/05/31/walk-this-whey-vermont-cheese-trail-has-much-see/aUisiz0toLgrPmZiX5zerI/story.html