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Archive for March, 2004

Teacher, Teacher!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Have I ever mentioned how much I love teaching? How I enjoy the energy of a focused class? I just was born to explain, I think. I’m at least a third-generation instructor/teacher on my mother’s side, second-generation on my father’s side. I tried very hard to avoid my destiny. I’m glad I didn’t avoid it forever, because teaching is very rewarding for me.

Today was the first day of my new term at Foster Center. I started my day with a computer class of 7, six of them retirement age, learning the very basics (one woman specifically requested a lesson in how to turn the computer on and off). I love teaching this sort of group! They are smart, but they *feel* dumb because they have not been trained yet. They are motivated to learn when nobody makes them take a class. Loved getting to know them.

Then I had computer lab time, and one adult from class stayed to practice a little. She played solitaire on the computer. She learned about “drag and drop” and she even learned about my favorite command: Undo!

After lab was CityKidz Knit! I totally forgot it was a new term. I had a lot of new kids. I had so many kids that a few felt crowded around my table so they sat on the floor. I think I had eight kids who had been there before at least three times, one who had been one or two times, and five who had never knit with me before. One of the new kids had tried to knit with a friend… a neighbor who learned to knit from me! She said she had not been able to make it work before, but clearly she had tried enough times, because I only had to show her how to make 2 stitches and she was off and running.

I tell you, it’s very exciting to have that many kids. However, I get plain exhausted when I have that much to do. It takes at least 5 minutes per child to teach brand new knitters. That makes things pretty boring for the child who is last. The kids, especially those who needed to wait, were very good.

My Knitting
In my own knitting news, I’m really close to finishing two different pair of toe-up afterthought heel socks but I just have too many things going to actually spend time on those.

I am working on the very last phase of a sock design for publication, as well. I’m pleased, for many reasons. One of the reasons is that I got to do this sock in my own favorite colors. Often I have to go with a theme for an issue, and that means I work in colors I normally would not touch. But this one is all me and I am very pleased.

Of course, I can’t show the whole design before it hits the press. However, here is a very tiny teaser of my colorway.

My Classes This Week
Tomorrow I have CityKidz Knit! again, and in the evening I teach Toe-Up Socks at Foster Center. That will be much fun! Saturday I teach Polymer Clay at Heritage Spinning in Lake Orion (north of Pontiac, not that far from the Silverdome). It looks like we have 7 people in the polymer class. In that class, the more people we have, the more creative energy happens. I’m very happy that we have that number. It will be a wonderful time!

Sunday I teach beginning knitting at JoAnn, our project is a simple bag in bulky Wool-Ease. I actually like that yarn more than I expected. I don’t like the thinner Wool-Ease yarns but for some reason the feel of the bulkier yarn is pleasing to me. I’m not much for the beige/natural color, though.

That is one thing about teaching for a large organization. They tell you what to do, down to the project and the yarn. I don’t love that part, but I really want to reach knitters anywhere, any way… and I am very good with beginners, who I think I may reach more easily through JoAnn than through community education.

Once I meet new knitters, it should be easy to connect them with other knitters (in our guild, for example) and they will be exposed to yarns that (personally) I love better than the one required in this corporate class. And they will find the good life, where we spend our free time and days off, at good Local Yarn Shops (even Not-Quite-Local Yarn Shops, perhaps). Our beloved LYS’s, where the *Wonderful Stuff* can be found, and good instruction, and quality knitting tools, and many other things I don’t know what I would do without!

I’m staying busy! And I’m staying happy. It’s a good life.

A Rainy Day in Ann Arbor

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

Well I spent the day in Ann Arbor again, but this time I drove alone. It was sunny when I left but it was cloudy when I got there and sprinkling rain by mid-afternoon.

First thing, I was trying to meet up with some Michigan knitters from online, but they had children with them, and I was running late… so they left before I got there. I guess there were 4 of them so they did have a good time. I’ll try to meet with them some other time.

After that I spent some time in downtown Ann Arbor, walking quite a distance (before the rain hit) and really enjoyed it. (See picture of a tiny, artful, red hot dog booth that has been there a very long time.) I ended up at Zingerman’s Deli (again, my all time favorite haunt in Ann Arbor) with a pot of good Organic Hojicha tea from Japan, and my laptop. I did some boring but easy number-crunching on my laptop in preparation for taxes (I’m much later than I wanted to be this year), but enjoyed being in that environment and really enjoyed my tea.

Why did I hang out in town so long? Because there was another knit in at night! The crew that meets at Arborland Borders books on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday nights, meets at a little asian tea/coffee house on 4th Street, when there happens to be a 5th Tuesday. So once I finished my tea at Zingerman’s, I went to Eastern Accent and had a small pot of Genmaicha… green tea with toasted rice in it. It’s very satisfying on a cold day.

I talked to friends until 10pm and then my cell phone rang. It was People Magazine (yes, really) wanting to interview me about Freecycling. I was expecting the call, as we sent one another emails yesterday.

My story is more interesting than other stories about Freecycling, because it reaches further than my personal life. Most stories either say: I wanted something, I posted that I needed it, someone offered theirs to me, we worked out how to transfer the item(s). Or… Someone posted something I could use, I asked for it, we transferred the item.

However… for me, it is “I posted on the freecycle list that I could use functional computers for my community center computer room. Somehow the word got out, and about 6 weeks later I got a call from Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, saying they had heard that I could use some older computers.” The guy at the law firm is not on Freecycle, but somehow the word got to him anyway.

In the end, I got about 15 functioning computers and a lot of useful parts for my computer room. The machines are significantly better than those I had before. And the whole community benefits, not just two individuals transferring ownership of something. So I’m a good interview. (Mind you, I’ve given away rollerblades through Freecycle, and acquired fake fireplace logs and a large microwave for dyeing wool, in addition to the computer gift, but those stories are not interesting enough to make a national publication.)

We’ll see… maybe Lansing will make it into People magazine. I can’t spend time thinking about it… if I do, I just worry about getting quoted properly. I need to remember that the main point of her article is how Freecycling started… especially, she is focusing on the person who got the freecycling movement rolling. I’m a tiny speck of lint in the big picture.

After being interviewed on my new cellphone (thank goodness I had one today), I drove home. I have a pair of toe-up, afterthought heel socks ready for a ribbed 1-2″ top and then heels. Actually, I have another pair done the same way, that just needs a tiny bit more done on the heels themselves and they are done. It’s just that heels take a bit of thinking. Maybe at the allergist on Thursday…

Toe-up Sox Class, Anyone?

Monday, March 29th, 2004

Hi, all. What a fine spring day it is here in Lansing, today. There are folks pushing strollers and walking dogs (and rollerblading, see picture) everywhere on every street I can see from my window. I have the front door open right now… yes, it’s a little chilly but I don’t care!

I took a little stroll through the neighborhood looking for flowers. I found some yellow crocus a half a block from here, but the picture didn’t turn out well. The guy at that yard told me about some blue crocus a block or two from him, so I went down there. Not only were there crocus, but some small iris in purple. So pretty! I was so happy! I was even warm enough in my leggings, wool sox and mohair sweater… without a coat or my trademark beret. I did wish I had gloves, so I hid my hands in the sleeves of my big sweater. What a lovely short walk I had.

On top of that, I’m just thoroughly enjoying the ability to sing here alone in my house with my Annette Hanshaw music. I have had over four months where I could not sing at full strength, and I was missing several notes from my range. However, just since about last Friday, I can sing with my “real” voice. I’m so relieved! It was just great to sing on Saturday with Abbott Brothers and not worry whether I could do this or that song.

I have had a good handful of songs (mostly 1920’s tunes sung by Ms. Hanshaw) I have wanted to learn since fall. Unfortunately, I was afraid to pursue learning them. I have been practicing the words over and over but I couldn’t actually sing them much. Poor Brian, I may detour his plans for the evening and insist that he play some music with me!!! I’m so happy!

Now for the business of the day: I have a Toe-Up Socks class offered at Foster Center starting this Thursday. The class is 6:00pm to 8:30, on Thursday April 1, Thursday April 8, and Tuesday April 13. Is anyone out there waiting until the last minute to register? I have a few but not enough for it to “go,” yet several folks told me they were interested. If you are interested, it costs $33 for City of Lansing residents, $49 for out of the city. Register by calling 517/483-4233, if you wish. I know not everyone is interested, but I hate to let down those who signed up well in advance. We have to cancel on Wednesday if we don’t have enough folks, because we need time to call people. We hate for someone to show up and be surprised that their class is not happening.

Spring is here!!! Spring is here!!! Oh, I’m ready to sing a million songs! Earlier I was singing “Tiptoe through the Tulips” although a song about violets might be more appropriate today! Right now I am singing “If you want the Rainbow, you Must Have the Rain.” It fits, doesn’t it?

Spring has Sprung, a Little

Sunday, March 28th, 2004

Well, the first daffodil has opened. I took the picture with flash, in the dark, when I got home from my knit-in at Emils. It’s not any official event, just some people I know who knit or want to learn, so I invited them to join me.

We had 4 people today and one was a beau (a man who came with my friend) who didn’t knit but was very good company in spite of it! That friend (the one with the beau) is retired, the other is a Junior in High School. It was a great group. I love mixing up social circles like that. It seems so artificial to have people all the same age/gender/cultural background, you know? The world is so varied. I love celebrating that.

I just love Emil’s restaurant. Good food, good service, locally owned. Our waitress was great. She even moved us to a bigger table after we ate, so that we’d have more room to knit. Very cool.

I showed the younger knitter how to bind off in rib and cast on in rib. I also showed her how to pick up stitches in rib once she’d ripped out a bit (her scarf was much longer than she liked, when she tried it out, so she ripped it out and was much happier with it).

The other friend, who had not knit in a while (she did cables once upon a time), started a toe-up sock with Cascade Fixation yarn. She hopes her sister will like them. I hope so, too!!! This friend is a dance friend, and it was great to have her at a fiber hangout!

I was indoors away from windows all day except for 5 minutes of sunny bliss! I was glad to have that five minutes. I think the daffodil liked the sun too!!! Let us hope for more sunshine tomorrow, when I can sit next to a window much of the time.

Margaret Radcliffe and Abbott Brothers

Saturday, March 27th, 2004

Well, what a Saturday I had. I took the day off from working at Foster Center. I did have a dance rehearsal in the morning, and then I went to a knitting workshop sponsored by our local knitting guild.

What a great time that was! The class was taught by Margaret Radcliffe of Maggie’s Rags. It was on novelty/luxury/designer yarns. I’ve been using all these novelty yarns for my ColorJoy Stoles, and enjoying them. I was interested to see her take on the same thing.

Well, as usual I was surprised (I don’t know why) that the class focused a lot on using all these yarns for sweaters. I know that nearly everyone else who knits seems to knit sweaters if not most of the time, a good portion of the time. I have knit 80 pair of sox and 2 adult sweaters. I have done many other smaller items: four pair legwarmers, perhaps a dozen hats, a handful of handwarmers/wristwarmers/fingerless gloves, some cellphone holders/eyeglass holders, and a good handful of ColorJoy Stoles.

But even though most of the students in class were focused on sweaters, I learned a great deal. I learned why one of my ColorJoy stoles is not as satisfying to touch than the others. I learned that one of my eyelash yarns (microfiber) was horrible to knit alone, but just lovely when knit as a second strand with some Dale Baby Ull in a lighter color. I learned more about the inherent strengths and weaknesses of several different types of fibers… alpaca, silk, mohair, wool, cotton, even quiviut.

I learned some of the tricks sweater knitters can use to accommodate the weaknesses of these fibers. I learned a little about the structure of yarn and how that influences the behavior of the knitted fabric. I learned that often times, going down several needle sizes creates a much more stable fabric in these yarns. I learned a little about other things they had learned in the morning class about knitting shapes, when Maggie related the lesson to the morning session as well as just by talking to those who took the class, during our breaks.

I would really recommend any workshop you can get, taught by Maggie. It was more than worth my entry fee.

After the workshop, a good handful of knitters (some met by their spouses) convened at Altu’s restaurant for dinner. Many folks had never been there before, many had not tried Ethiopian food before. I was very pleased they came out. We had 14 folks in our group. Some of the folks stayed around for the Abbott Brothers’ performance. That meant a lot to me.

I took two photographs but the second one just did not work out well at all. Sorry to Sarah Peasley and Margaret Radcliffe, who were just beautiful that day but the photograph as a whole did not work. This other photo is a lot of folks, some of whom were from out of town (two from Ann Arbor, one from the Grand Rapids area) and some spouses whose names I don’t know… so I am not going to name everyone. Suffice it to say we had a great group!

Thank you to Tracy A/Sweatergirl for being the coordinator of the workshop weekend (they had classes Friday/Saturday/Sunday, though I took just a half-day workshop myself). Tracy has enough to do already (she is expecting her first child in early May) and yet she was cheerful and efficient in her scheduling work for this workshop. Go, Sweatergirl!!!

Poetry for a Gloomy Day

Friday, March 26th, 2004

Well, I’m on a roll with poetry and quotations this week, I guess. It is 2:45 and the sun has been hiding all day. It’s so dark it feels like dusk. It’s 63 degrees F, actually nice and warm.

However, it has been raining off and on for enough days now that there are little streams of water flowing over the floor in my basement. This is the type of house and basement we have (the house was originally built in 1904). It is definitely utility rather than luxury, and that is actually why I have room to dye wool… I can just hose off the floor when I am done, if need be. It’s perfect in a lot of ways. But when the water just keeps coming from the sky… well, it has to go somewhere and a little of it makes itself comfy indoors, long enough to make its way to the drain in the floor.

Today will be a dyeing day but it is getting started late. I need a lot of sleep when it’s rainy season, because of my allergies. I went to bed late, got up late. Now I’m getting my act together and will be making some pretties in a few hours.

Meanwhile, I’d love to share a poem with you. This book is long out of print but it can often be found on the used market. There is even a cassette tape of the poems being read aloud by some esteemed actor whose name I can not remember right now. The book is full of excellent poetry by children, compiled in the 1960s. Here is one of my favorites:

©1966 by Adrian Keith Smith
Age 4
New Zealand

From the Book:
Miracles, Poems by children of the English-speaking world
Collected by Richard Lewis
Simon and Schuster, 1966

The rain screws up its face

and falls to bits.

Then it makes itself again.

Only the rain can make itself again.


I’m so glad somebody valued this child’s words so much, they took the time to write them down. What a gift!

First Flowers of Spring

Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Aaaaaaaahhh…. It was 71 degrees F today for a few minutes, and the sun shone for a short while. It’s already down to 66 again, and it’s only 2:30pm, but I will be sure to appreciate what I had for a moment.

I went out on the side yard looking for violets. The violets are weeds, but we make sure not to put any weed killer on the lawn, as they give me more pleasure than the grass they co-exist with (you will notice that the grass is not yet green, but the violets are). I found two flowers in bloom and one bud ready to pop. We also have two daffodils that are showing yellow in their buds.

Someone wrote me today that they found my (very old but still valid) poetry and quotations website, and the quotation by Martha Graham was helpful to them. The note made me go back and read a little more of the quotations again. I rediscovered a quote from Maya Angelou, a woman I’ve heard speak twice and who has really influenced me. I was delighted that she talks about life being art. So I offer you this today:

“Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. We leave our homes for work, acting and even believing that we will reach our destinations with no unusual event startling us out of our set expectations. The truth is we know nothing, not where our cars will fail or when our buses will stall, whether our places of employment will be there when we arrive, or whether, in fact, we ourselves will arrive whole and alive at the end of our journeys. Life is pure adventure and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.
— Maya Angelou
Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Not-Quite-April Showers

Thursday, March 25th, 2004

It was a barely-spring sort of day Wednesday. It rained off and on, sometimes quite hard. Nothing is blooming, but I did notice that the tulips at Foster Center have some strong leaves coming up.

I had 11 knitters if I remember right. Several I had not seen for a long while, a few were new. They had the giggles (I think they had a half day of school today) which did not help their knitting much but at least they were happy.

A sort of wonderful thing happened when I was teaching an adult class. Due to some circumstances, I had only one adult student in the room Wednesday noon, and so it looked as though my room were open for computer lab. Twice, a child came into my room, saying hello first and then asking for a hug. How sweet! These days you can not approach a child for a hug, it must be the child’s idea. I mean, these kids came in (one with her mother), kids I’ve worked with for a few years now, and for some reason… be it the rain or the day off or just a mood they had… they wanted a little reassurance. I know I have a special place in their lives… I’m not a teacher and I’m not a parent, but I’m old enough to be an authority rather than a teen activity leader. I work hard to treat them with respect. I want the love I feel for them to show, through my actions rather than saying it out loud. Apparently I’ve done it right at least for a few of my kids. It makes me feel good.

Brian is really focused on recording some songs which were written between the late 1800s and 1923. His project is really zipping right along. It seems every night by the time I get home, he has recorded at least three tracks of a new song. I love listening to him, he is a very fine ukulele player. It’s wonderful to my ears, his work.

Tuesday night I didn’t sleep well, I kept waking up afraid I had overslept. I am ready to crash tonight. Brian is taking a day off tomorrow. We plan to go out for breakfast or lunch together, before I go to Foster Center. That should be delightful.

As for my creative self, I’m working slowly on finishing some afterthought-heel socks for myself. I’m also excited about my knitting workshop I’m taking on Saturday. I love my local knit guild… we got Margaret Radcliffe of Maggies Rags to come in and teach us this weekend. I’m just taking the Saturday afternoon class, about using all sorts of types of what she calls luxury yarns (includes unusual fibers such as alpaca, as well as novelty yarns). I will enjoy hearing how she approaches the subject. I’ve been working with novelty yarns for a while, but there is always something to learn. I love taking classes.

After our workshop, it looks like we are going as a group to Altu’s restaurant for dinner. I’m excited, not only because I love to share my favorite restaurant with friends, but also because at 6:30 our band, Abbott Brothers, is performing. Maybe some of my knitting friends will stay to hear us play. I really hope they do. It would mean a lot to me if it did happen.

However, right now it is time to be off to bed…

A Bit of Business

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

I am in the midst of doing publicity for our Abbott Brothers band and other “Appearances,” from The Fabulous Heftones to Habibi Dancers’ annual concert, to several knitting/polymer clay/art classes and workshops I am offering.

It occurs to me that maybe some of you would be interested in one or the other of these. If this is not true for you, forgive the interruption. I will return tomorrow with life as art and art as life!

For those who *are* interested, here is a schedule as it stands today:

March 27 (Sat.)
& May 22 (Sat.)
6:30 – 8:30pm
No Cover
Abbott Brothers Band
Good Time Music
Altus Ethiopian Cuisine
312 Michigan Ave.,
East Lansing
(near The Dollar)
March 29
5:30pm – 8:30pm

Socknitting Class:
Peasant Heels for Self-Striping Yarns
Foster Community Center
Lansing, MI
200 N. Foster Avenue
483-4233 for Registration
April 1, 8 (Thursdays),
& April 13 (Tuesday)
6:00 – 8:30pm
Socks – Toe Up
Knitting Class
Foster Community Center
Lansing, MI
See above
April 3
9:00am – 4:00pm
Buttons & Beads:
Polymer Clay for Fiberartists
Heritage Spinning & Weaving
Lake Orion, MI
(248) 693-3690
April 10 (Sat.)
& June 25 (Sat.)
6:30 – 8:30pm
No Cover
The Fabulous Heftones
Brian & Lynn
Singing the Ditties of
the 20’s & ’30’s
Altus Ethiopian Cuisine
1312 Michigan Ave.,
East Lansing
(Near The Dollar)
April 12, 19, 26 (Mondays)
6:00 – 8:00pm
Beyond the Lonely Knit Stitch:
Reading Standard Knitting Patterns
Foster Community Center
Lansing, MI
See above
April 17 (Sat.)
8:00pm, $17 at Door
Habibi Dancers‘ Annual Concert Hannah Center Auditorium
819 Abbott Road, East Lansing
May 2 (Sun.)
1:00 – 4:00pm
Show continues through 5/28
Working Women Artists
Group Show Opening
East Lansing Public Library
950 Abbott Road, East Lansing
May 8 (Sat.)
7:00 – 7:20pm
The Fabulous Heftones,
at Banjorama
(Flint Banjo Clubs)
St. John’s Parish Hall, Davison, MI
(Take I-69 East of Flint to M-15/Davison, go north a few miles to Flint St., turn left, then turn left on Dayton St.)
August 19 & 20
Full Day Sessions
Polymer Clay – Thursday
Novelty Yarns – Friday
MI Fiber Festival, Allegan MI

A Day with My Friend

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004

Oh, what a wonderful Monday I had. Altu and I went to Ann Arbor, just for a change of pace and an excuse to talk for an extended length of time. Considering we are both self-employed, we don’t get long stretches like this very often.

We met late morning and drove down, found a parking spot on Main Street and just walked around downtown in the sunny but cold and windy weather, ducking into this and that store, mostly window-shopping. Here is a picture of Altu (standing at left) in what is called the Arcade, a sort of alley with wonderful architecture that goes west from State Street near the “Diag” on campus. It is wonderful to see that this architecture has been preserved. I can not help but wonder if it was there when my Grandma Illa went to school there in the early 1920’s. I don’t know my architecture styles very well, but I am betting this is at least that old.

We got pretty cold walking around, so after discussing a dozen or so possible places to eat lunch, we decided to go to Zingerman’s Deli. It was very close to where my car was, and the food is just top-notch in all ways. An extra plus is the quality of teas and coffees at Zingerman’s. Altu loves good coffee, and she was not disappointed.

After lunch we looked around Kerrytown for a while. Kerrytown is an area that used to be a mill, I think a fabric mill, long ago. Now it is a huge set of buildings made into little shops. There are boutiques upstairs, and Hollanders, a book arts store where Susan Hensel teaches, and Kitchen Port, a large and excellent cooking store. I found a few gadgets in Kitchen port, and the people were fun to talk to there.

Of course, a long day in Ann Arbor would not be complete without a parking ticket. I had put my coins in the wrong meter, so we proceeded to the police department to pay the requisite $5. Then we drove to Plymouth Road, to the Knit A Round yarn shop.

It was good to be there again today. Both Sue and Elizabeth were there working, ladies I’d met at the Sally Melville and Lucy Neatby workshops in the last few years, in Ann Arbor and Marshall. They were so helpful to Altu while she was deciding what to get today.

Altu ended up with a ball of Crystal Palace Splash, a sort of feather-like eyelash yarn, in shades of browns and copper. She got some large needles and proceeded to cast on right there in the shop, while I was still petting all the yarns.

We got out of the knit shop just as rush hour was in full bloom. We decided to go to the closest coffee shop and drink tea and knit. I had Irish Breakfast tea, Altu had Jasmine Green, and we talked and knit and relaxed.

I wish I had a picture, but by the time I dropped Altu off at her house, she had knit maybe 14″ on a 16-stitch scarf. It looks great, I think she will really wear this beautiful thing. It’s not my color, I’m not a brown person, but she will look wonderful in it.

After I took Altu home, I took myself to Taj, a local Indian restaurant. I knit and ate my Channa Masala (chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce with onions) and garlic nan (flat bread, freshly baked) and read my Vogue Knitting magazine and knitted more on my socks. I’m almost to the point of casting off the cuff of my toe-up afterthought heel sox, and then all I need to do is knit the heels. Whee!!!

Oh, the other picture is the yarn I bought for myself today. It’s called Crystal Palace Squiggle, colorway 9291. What an odd thing this is! It has a very thin binder, with large bits as eyelashes. it has good yardage… 100 yards for 50 grams, which means there is no core to it at all. I will have to find another yarn to knit with it (at the store there was a scarf knit with this and Eros, which made it sparkly). I envision a collar and cuffs… where I just add them to a sweater I already have, if possible. Such fun!!!

Today I Love Lansing

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

I feel so satisfied right now. My Sunday started with a good night’s sleep, and then I got to work at JoAnn with some folks I really enjoy and who I had not seen in a long time. I had some wonderful customers today, as well, and that also made the day pleasant.

I didn’t have to close, so I went home at 5:30 or so. I stopped at the corner Quality Dairy store for their excellent orange juice and a few other groceries (they carry some canned beans I can not get at the regular grocery stores). I love going to QD, I love the people who work there. They are so pleasant, in a somewhat challenging job. They make me feel special when I see them. It’s just not the same as a 7-11, it’s a neighborhood place and I enjoy it.

Then I decided to go two doors down to the little asian grocery. There used to be another asian (Vietnamese) grocery there years ago, and this one is smaller yet. I think these folks are Thai or Laotian or Hmong, but I haven’t asked yet. The last time I went there, it was their first week and they didn’t have much I was interested in getting. They didn’t even have any tea at that time.

Today, though… well, I found a bunch of things I wanted. I got some coconut milk for making pudding, and some noodles, and some toothpicks, and a good-sized baggie of fresh basil leaves for $1.99. And the most wonderful find of all: a can of white pepper from Thailand. It has a logo of a thumb’s-up sign… on the front, on the cap, and even embossed in the metal bottom of the tin. Isn’t this thing just wonderful to look at? I was so pleased that I actually use white pepper (it’s wonderful in most soups and in bean salads), so that I could get it without hesitation. The cost was merely $1.25, worth it for the decorative value alone. I’m just delighted with this find!

After I rested at home for a little bit, I went to Emil’s Italian restaurant and had a meal and did some knitting with my friend Marie. Marie and I both dance together. She works full-time for JoAnn’s… until recently she was at Lansing, and now she is training at a nearby town for a higher management position. I miss seeing her at the store on weekends, though we still see each other at Foster Center, where we dance.

We really enjoyed our meals tonight at Emils. It was sort of wonderful just being in that space there tonight. Emil’s is truly a classic, the oldest family-run restaurant in Lansing. Great from-scratch Italian food, nothing there is straight from a can out of a foodservice truck. And it’s just a great neighborhood spot. There is a little bar in the back, like a neighborhood pub, but the nonsmoking section is big enough, and far enough away, to make everyone happy. The service is much better than most places in town. This place actually has good decor, service, and food, a threesome rarely found in this city. And the prices, they are quite reasonable as well. If you live here and haven’t checked this out, please put it on your list of things to do!

Now, I’m just enjoying the peace and quiet of the house. Brian has been recording himself singing/playing songs which were written before 1923, and so he is sitting with headphones on editing his musical tracks. It’s really quiet here other than the click of two keyboards. As soon as I post this note, I’m off to laze on the couch and either knit or read about knitting, until I fall asleep. Aaaah, the life!

An Hour Alone and 90 Pair of Sox

Sunday, March 21st, 2004

Well, I’ve had a wild few weeks. I’ve been nonstop dyeing, then labeling/pricing, hauling to Illinois and back, and then the required follow-ups when I got home. And of course I had to get this pattern written sooner than later, in whatever spare time I could free up.

Then all things got complicated by the springtime weather. I love the departure of snow, sleet and frost. But I have a big mildew allergy, and the rain and thaw make me miserable. Friday morning I got a headache from it. The pain was so severe it woke me at 7am, after only 4 hours of sleep. Thankfully, some minor pain relievers got me back on the road, but it was like I had a sick day on Friday. That is, a sort of sick day… while I was doing the calculations for a sock in four sizes for publication. I did it. Yippee!

Saturday I had no headache, and I did not take that for granted. Therefore, a meeting with my knitter, a dance rehearsal, work at Foster’s computer lab, and a five-hour shift at JoAnn, seemed a piece of cake, actually a lovely time. Funny how we are, isn’t it? One small setback and we start seeing the simple things as blessings, at least if we are fortunate.

And now here I am at home, alone for about an hour. Brian is playing music for a contra dance, with the Scarlet Runner String Band. I got off work, bought some groceries, then went home and now I’m just sitting in a quiet house. I’m going to knit until he gets home. Aaaah, this is the life!

Picture is my 90th pair of socks to date, afterthought heel slouch sox from Mountain Colors/Bearfoot wool and mohair. I got the yarn around December, at Yarn for Ewe.

Tag, She’s It!

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

I finished the draft of my next pattern for publication, and it went to a friend (she does professional knitting) for knitting today. I’m excited to be mostly done with it, I’m excited to not be working totally alone this time, and I am very happy with the design, as it looks on paper.

Tribute to Bob Blackman’s 20 Years on the Air

Friday, March 19th, 2004

Friday night the Ten Pound Fiddle coffeehouse had a tribute concert for Bob Blackman. He has had a folk program on the air on WKAR now for 20 years. Bob also works with Brian so we know him pretty well. It was great that he was honored so publicly.

The performers were Pat Donohue and Peter Oustrushko. What a great lineup that was! The show was at LCC’s Dart Auditorium, a first for this organization. It was jam packed with all sorts of great people. I saw people from church, from knitting (Hi, Sharon P!) and from Working Women Artists, among other places. It was a grand event.