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Archive for April, 2004

Handspun Coordinates

Friday, April 30th, 2004

I washed my yarn that I spun this week, to go with my “sherbet” yarn I spun a few weeks ago. I’ve been calling it hot purple. Right now I want to call it electric magenta. The pic is showing it too light and not quite intense enough. On my laptop monitor, the multicolor is dead-on for color, but the solid is not quite right.

I think I spun it thinner than the multicolor, not sure. I sure got more yardage than the other. It’s more thick/thin anyway. I spun it a little more tightly than the first yarn because it does not have mohair for reinforcement (it’s Romney from New Zeeland, a strong wool used often for socks).

It’s almost dry and I’m distracted by other things besides measuring wraps per inch to see if they are the same. When I do check that out, if the solid looks too thin, I may wind off enough of it for toes/heels and ply it with some sewing thread. Or who knows, maybe I will knit with two strands of the solid… this one and the tiny yarn I found on the bobbin when I re-found the unspun fiber. The tiny yarn that was no fun at all to spin. Might as well use it up, huh?

For now I’m hoping that plying is not necessary. My promise to myself about spinning is that it will remain fun. I am not going to push for perfection in that arena of my life… at least not this year. Just fun. Spinning is fiber but not my job. I love that, because so much of my knitting is for work these days.

Marlene Osborn, the owner of Yarn for Ewe in Okemos, once told me that she also started spinning (I think it was last year) as a way to have something fibery that was not work. It seems that when you run a yarn shop, most of your knitting is for samples to be shown in the store, and other obligations. I really relate. There has to be something you can do just for the joy of it, you know?

Don’t the colors here look nice together? I totally love magenta with hot yellow-green. Funny how we are about combinations, really. I also do not like turquoise and red together… at all. And others really love that combination. Color is so intensely personal, it makes sense.

My friend Mary S. keeps encouraging me to knit with my homespun yarn. What is interesting, is that since I chose to spin this relatively fast, and relatively imperfectly, I feel more willing to use it. The sox I envision will be mostly the multicolor. I have too much knitting for work right now for me to start these, and I still can not find my ballwinder so I’ll wait a while and just enjoy the yarn in skeins. Petting them off and on will be a great joy. I can go for that. For a loooong while! But then I will knit with it. Because my friend Mary is right. What good is spinning if I don’t let myself knit with it? I need to allow myself the luxury of handspun sox. I will do it… but it needs to wait a bit longer.

It was a gorgeous day. I had only a handful of knitting kidz and they were great. When I got home, Brian and I recorded two more songs for our CD. Our big shows coming up are next Friday and Saturday. We are in Midland on Friday the 7th, and Davison (near Flint) on Saturday the 8th. We sure hope the CD will be ready then!!! He’s really doing a great job, so for now we are proceeding as though it will work out. Cross fingers for us!

Sunny and 80 Degrees!

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

Well, the weather is an artform today. It’s 80 degrees F and mostly sunny. There is quite a breeze, but who cares? I’ll be able to open windows in my classroom today. It will be wonderful!

I’m hoping to get on the porch for a short while today. I get out of work at Foster at 6pm so maybe we can eat dinner out there.

Brian is working like crazy on cleaning up our recordings so that we can have a CD to release soon. It is just amazing to me how much you can do to make things sound different once it is already recorded, just by making a voice sing notes a little sooner or later. And I swear, I had a phrase I needed to re-record (I didn’t think I hit the notes as straight-on as I wanted) but I can’t find it any more. He makes me sound so good!

Off to teach knitting. Thursday is the slow knitting day and I really enjoy my time with my kidz. I am there for 3 hours. Two of those hours are officially computer time but I often have more knitters than computer kids. They come and go so it can be like four one-on-one sessions by the time I’m done. I love those times when it is just me and one child. They need time with adults and I love time with them. It’s a mutual-admiration society of a sort.

Off to work.

A Finished Baby Hat

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

I made a hat for April’s baby. It’s a 6 month size, but that will be perfect when it gets cool this fall. It’s the eggplant color I used for Anne’s baby last fall (darker than shown here), but with a different green. I love this green, it’s very yellow and sunny. The yarn is Tahki Cotton Classic.

This pattern is the Ann Norling pattern so many people use. I tell you what, the pattern is written so perfectly I am amazed. She could have made it a LOT harder, a lot more fussy, but she made it simple. It looks great, and the pattern is simple.

One great thing about this pattern is that it is so fast, and looks so great when it’s done. I started the hat last night after dinner. I finished it tonight before dinner. Less than 24 hours, with sleep and 5 hours of work in there as well. It’s at 5st/inch which is sweater gauge, rather than my sock gauges. I love this pattern!

One of my knitting girls at Foster today wants to make it. I told her dad where she could buy the pattern (I’m not giving mine up and I explained to her… a sixth grader… why I could not make copies). She has already knit on double points, is working on a top down hat right now, and is OK with knitting and purling, although this hat is just knit stitches. She has never done two color knitting, but it’s only something like 4 rows. Easy!!! She doesn’t know it’s supposed to be hard, you know???

I think the dad will probably go ahead and get her the pattern. She really does knit at home and they really support her in this. A childhood friend of her mom picks her up and brings her to Foster, and then either that friend or Dad picks her up when she leaves. They really want her to enjoy it. It would be great fun to have her do this, I think she is ready to finish something. She tends to have multiple projects, and some are pretty big. For a sixth grader that is hard stuff, they tend to like finishing things. She plugs right away, though. I’m proud of her.

Got more needles from you folks, thanks so much!!! Again, the secretary has names and I just have the needles, but thanks a bunch.

Guilt? Not me. Not about Yarn, Anyway!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004

Sharon P. writes (at her blog, Knitknacks), about guilt and knitters. It’s sort of an interesting thought to me.

I feel guilty about a lot of things. Mostly I feel guilty I am not currently willing to work a “regular job” which would make many things less worrysome. But here I am, working a lot of small jobs (I had six income sources in January 2004), and having a heck of a great time! I need to be a lot more desperate before I’ll go back to doing the same thing all day, five days a week.

But guilt about yarn? Guilt about projects? Maybe I should. (Should is a word that is about other people, not me, anyway.) But I don’t feel guilty at all about buying yarn… because it gives me pleasure, or entertainment value if you will, multiple times. I get pleasure dreaming about what it might be, in the store. I get pleasure looking at it, planning for it, showing it to friends. If I knit it right away I have the pleasure of touching it, looking at it, seeing it become something I dreamed. If I don’t knit it right away, it stays in my storage bins where I see it almost every day. I get to touch it again, dream again, smile and exclaim how beautiful yarn can be… and repeat in a day or two.

Maybe if I was going into debt for yarn I would be concerned. I choose to live on a cash basis, have not used unsecured credit for about 14 years. So if I don’t have money this week, I don’t buy yarn this week. If I have funds, I might go ahead. It’s hard to feel too bad about that.

I used to sew a lot. I figured the cost of some garments by the cost per wearing. If I was going to wear a skirt at work once a week for half the year, for at least two years, then I could spend a good bit on the fabric for that skirt and not feel bad at all. Ironically, that means that a gown for a fancy event reasonably should cost less than something for work… which is really hard to do in practice. It was a good concept, though, and I get it out from time to time as it applies to other places in my life.

So if I figure cost per minute of pleasure, for my yarn? It is pennies per touch. I touch it so much before, during and after knitting it… and even if I don’t knit it up right away I get pleasure from just having it and seeing it.

I don’t go to movies at all, I just don’t like them. The last movie I saw in the theatre was the Lion King, and that was before I met Brian about 8 years ago. I have never owned a VCR. I do sometimes turn on the TV, but only to watch the Olympics (figure skating), watch the ball fall at Times Square on New Year’s eve, and a few times a year in search of the Teletubbies, if I remember to turn it on when I’m at home in the mornings.

Why do I mention that? The money that others spend on movies, videos, rentals, cable TV, satellite dishes… I spend much less than that on yarn. It’s a good thing I like knitting sox best, because that means many of my splurges are only two balls of yarn. That helps a person with an unsteady income like me, still have the pleasure of acquisition.

My only guilt, if you can call it that, is that I want to knit it up faster. I want to create more, finish more projects. I’m very end-product oriented. I finish most of what I start. I have never felt competitive in my life, but I’m sort of competitive with myself to see how much I can get finished within so many waking hours in a week.

I did start a Sigma Tank from Knitty (and Matt) last August and I have not finished it. That’s not because it was the wrong thing, but because Sarah Peasley was right, and I should have WASHED the cotton/wool yarn after swatching it (I did make a swatch but didn’t wash it and it really really changed gauges… like from 4 st/in to 3 st/in or something about that extreme). So now I need to either make it into something different than it started out to be, or rip it out. It only took 3 days to knit what I have but I’m waiting for the inspiration to feel OK with the ripping. Some ripping is harder than others. I can rip a sock without hassle, but I do so few sweaters I am waiting on this one for a confident day. Or some inspiration on how to make that size of a tube look good as a different style. The tank will not work on my small body in that large gauge, it just will not work.

But hey, I’ve done 92 pair of sox in about 3 years. On top of that I’ve done I think 4 pair legwarmers, at least a half-dozen hats, a pair of fingerless gloves, a small handful of wrist/handwamers, two adult sweaters, a teddy bear sweater, a baby lace sweater, and maybe things I’ve forgotten. All those by hand. And I’ve done a few dozen scarves on the knitting machine/frame and one baby sweater (which I have not sewed up, mostly because it doesn’t fit any baby I know… so there is no point in hurrying).

So I really do crank out knitting. I knit almost every day, mostly when I’m out in public. I would love to crank even more, but when I really look at my output I’m OK with it.

Maybe I *should* feel guilty about the yarn I buy. Much of it is for my business… teaching and designing for publication. Much of it is for pleasure, and it may turn into business later. My spending plan category for yarn is much larger than percentages would indicate was balanced… but my focus on knitting is also a higher percentage than most other people. I mean, I wake up dreaming I was knitting. I dream sock patterns in my sleep! So it seems reasonable that my spending would be proportional to my focus.

Guilt… yeah, I have a lot of it, more in my personal relationships/work arena. But I have very little of it in the knitting arena, for some reason.

I have a ton of unfinished projects and that doesn’t make me feel guilty. Most of them are stalled because something is really wrong and either they need ripping out or re-designing (I make up most of my projects on the needles rather than knitting from patterns). And maybe, as Sally Melville might say, I started them to learn something and I learned it before I finished the project.

And I have a moderate stash for someone who spends as much time as I do, knitting. I have two units that were designed for the back of a truck, intended to hold tools, but holding wool. I am in those bins almost every day. I also have about 4 rubbermaid-type clear bins of spinning fiber and sweater yarns, which I visit less frequently. And then there is some yarn for dyeing (a box or two right now), which is my business. I don’t get to knit from that most of the time. I think that amount of yarn is pretty reasonable for my lifestyle, personally.

The first time someone on Socknitters asked the sizes of people’s stash (the first time I read it) I had enough yarn for 13 pair of sox. Now I have more than that, I’m not counting tonight (of course, now I knit things besides socks). I do have enough yarn for 3 or 4 sweaters which is a 2-4 year supply at my current speed (I’m hoping the knitting machine will help in that department). But the sweater yarn I got on huge sales, or buying from other folks’ stashes, or in one case was from a friend who had been born in Germany and knew I loved turquoise (it’s absolutely gorgeous cotton yarn she brought back from a trip home, begging to be a sweater with Monet trim).

I started two projects today, and also knit on my ever-present sock project from the knitting bag/purse when out and about. I’m making an Ann Norling fruit hat for April’s baby (it’s already half-done, and she won’t be able to wear it until fall anyway), and then I made a swatch for my Summer Socks with LynnH class that Heritage Knitting & Spinning is offering on June 5 (it’s based on my Fast Florida Footies pattern). That yarn is gorgeous… Cascade Fixation in apricot. Gorgeous.

But I finished 2 sock projects last week, and a replacement wristwarmer. So starting two small projects today sounds right to me!!!

Photos today: Wristwarmer like the one I knit to replace one lost at Kroger a few weeks back; Socks (pair #80) I knit for my friend Rikki last August, but I never posted here. I dyed the yarn and designed the sock as well.

Drat! Snow.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2004

Wow. I woke up a little earlier than usual today. And it’s snowing.

I tried to take pictures, and there are not enough flakes in the air for a picture. There is nothing accumulating on the ground, probably because it is 35 degrees F (freezing is 32F, for you Celsius folks).

I know that I have never met an April that did not have some snow in it. Honestly, often it is this late in the month. But we had a good solid cover of snow on April 3 and I was really hoping that was the last time.

I’m glad I got out on the porch yesterday when it was in the 60s.

A Day Off

Monday, April 26th, 2004

I slept in today (Monday), it was such a luxury! I woke up slowly with a cup of English Breakfast Tea, and decided to bake my Crusty Pumpkin Loaf as a treat (for what might have been breakfast if I had eaten it before noon).

Less than half way through baking the quick bread, Tony called. Tony, for those of you who don’t tune in here often, is my best knitting buddy. Lately we don’t see one another nearly enough. He works a full time job at MSU plus works at a bookstore on the weekends. I am busy Wed-Sun with different jobs. Fortunately, he works long days and thus gets a long weekend every other week. Today he had a day off. Of course, I invited him over for tea and pumpkin bread.

We had a great time. I am trying to solve a bit of a knitting dilemma… trying to make something look the same whether it is knit top down or toe up. Tony is great company for problem-solving, and I was happy to have his input.

I think the design goal I’m working on is very close to impossible, but we figured out a close match. Unfortunately, the solution we found requires sewing two tiny seams in a sock, and I am not very happy with that idea. It would not be where the foot would feel it, but who wants to sew a seam in a sock? One of the joys of socknitting is the seamless construction. I think I came up with a second solution that does not look exactly the same but is historically in the ballpark. We’ll see what my publisher thinks.

After Tony left, I spent some time outdoors weeding the yard (pulling the tiny tree seedlings which cause much trouble if allowed to grow). It was sunny and about 65 degrees F, warm enough in the sun to be pleasant.

When I tired of leaning over, I decided to look once more for that purple romney roving I wanted to spin, to knit along with the yarn I made a few weeks ago. I found it (last time I looked I was just too distracted by tasks to look completely).

I took my wheel out on the porch and spun about 2 oz of it, about a half of a bobbin. What is interesting is that when I found the roving, I found a 2/3 full bobbin of very thin single ply yarn in this fiber. I did not remember spinning that much of it. I do remember I worked on it several evenings and it felt as though I had spun forever without any reduction in the wool still to be spun. I’m not sure what I will do with that tiny ply, I”m sure I’ll ply it with something else one of these months, but it was far too small to work with the other yarn I wanted to match (even if I made it 2-ply).

It was a bit chilly with the wind blowing on my east-facing porch in the evening, but I put my handwarmers on (tubes with a thumbhole, they are warm without being in the way of fingers). I was a lot warmer, and the handwarmers only were in my way a couple of times.

Another spring first: I heard the sound of an ice-cream truck when I was on the porch. I ran to get my camera, but alas! The truck never came by our corner. It was the same song playing as last year, so maybe we will have the same guy again. I never buy from him but there are plenty of children in this area who do.

Before Brian got home, I took a lovely nap. I went to our bedroom where the sun streams in as it sets. I felt like a very contented cat, curled up on that bed in the sunshine!

This evening Brian and I are recording again. It may be the final song for this CD. He has a lot of editing to do, to make the CD polished and final, but it is sort of exciting to be at this stage of the game.

Tomorrow I meet my friend Marlene Cameron to fold and mail the Working Women Artists newsletters for the month. We really enjoy doing this task together, it makes sure we meet at a coffee shop once a month and we can chat while we fold. After I meet her I may meet another knitter for lunch at Altus.

And at 3pm Tuesday afternoon, I will be listening to the Flying Ukulele Radio Hour again. Brian went to a tenor banjo (4 strings) event this weekend and met two guys who play in a band with the DJ of that show, Uke Jackson (who we met last October in Indianapolis). It’s so fun to have a connection, a human touch, when we use the internet. I think it’s so cool we can listen to Uke’s show online. He records it in Pennsylvania if I remember right, then it’s broadcast in New Jersey, and there were a couple of hundred people logged on and listening to the show last week via internet. Brian and I were two of those.

It was a great day off, and tomorrow should be another good day as well! I hope yours is just as fine.

(Pictures today: Garden across the street from Foster Center… notice how green and lush the grass is getting; Goodie box from Heritage Spinning, in preparation for a ColorJoy Stole class I’m going to be teaching for her… I need to knit a sample stole. How will I choose from all these wonderful yarns?)

Sock Pair #91

Sunday, April 25th, 2004

What a busy weekend I had! I have not worked at JoAnn in two weeks but they had a sale this weekend so I worked there three days in a row. I am rethinking how this job, which I intended to be a 6 week committment, impacts the rest of my life. I may not be able to keep it up much longer, but it sure is fun while I’m there!

Last week, perhaps a week ago, I finished two pair of sox in the course of about 2 days. I started them at least a week apart but I finally had time to knit at home and I finished two pair. They are both toe-up, afterthought heel sox. I love this design, it just feels good on my feet and is super easy to knit in public for the most part. Gotta love that! In fact, my pair on the needles right now is another of the same style. I may tire of this someday but it’s just perfect for knitting on the road.

This pair, my 91st pair since I started knitting sox, is knit from the yarn I got in Florida when visiting my mom. Eric (my brother) and I were hoping to make it to a nature sanctuary but it started pouring buckets of rain before we got there. We got into the yarn shop just as the downpour began, so we stayed and I looked at the vast yarn stock much more in depth than I expected.

I really did not need afghan or sweater yarn, and I already had so much novelty yarn I didn’t know what to do with it all. I ended up with a ball of turquoise eyelash yarn and two balls of this sort of confetti type colorway from Regia.

This pair got a lot of attention when I was knitting it in public. I thought I’d grow to like it more, but I think I just don’t like white socks. I expect that I’ll wear them a few times with the white background and then do some sort of overdyeing of them when I get time in the studio. I have not decided yet what color might best work for the overdye, but I’m considering my usual suspects, fuschia and turquoise.

One of these days I’ll take a picture of pair #92, perhaps tomorrow or Tuesday. They are the same basic design but look very different. They are green and blue Eroica, a sportweight acrylic/wool yarn I got at Yarn for Ewe. They look great and feel good to the hand. I hope they are absorbent enough when I actually wear them. I haven’t worn them yet, but I will report back on that when I get a chance.

A Kente Cloth Link

Saturday, April 24th, 2004

Someone on the Socknitters email list posted a link to a website about Kente Cloth today. It’s a new one for me. I have another link to a page about this incredible artform on my sidebar, but I just clicked it and it is not working. Drat!

(I guess it is long overdue to work on that sidebar. I’ve known that for a while, but it is such a hassle to do in Moveable Type, the program I use for my weblog, that I have put off that task too long. Sigh… one more assignment, I guess.)

If you have shockwave installed on your computer, you can even design your own virtual Kente Cloth at this site. I surf with a slow connection, so I didn’t play with that feature. However, it sounds fun.

I saw some authentic African Kente Cloth in February 2001, at a museum in New York City that highlighted African themes (I am going blank on the name of that museum, but if I remember right it was not far from Washington Square). What struck me about the fabric, was that it was woven in very thin strips and then sewn together into a larger whole. I had not figured that out from the trickle-down printed Kente-type-patterned fabrics I’d seen here in Michigan.

The real thing had such texture and depth, that I wanted to look at it for a long time. I would have loved to touch it as well, though I do understand why they would not permit that.

I tried weaving with a loom a few times and I just don’t enjoy it much. I had more fun with the tapestry/Navajo type weaving where I could sit on the floor, and push the yarn/wool/whatever through the warp with my fingers. I don’t like all that sitting on a wood bench and touching wood shuttles… I really prefer knitting while lounging on a couch or hammock, and feeling the wool flow through my fingers. I don’t like the feel of wood, and I did not like the sound of the loom rattling and clunking either, for some reason. I love the idea of Kente in strips, and it’s sort of sad that I did not like weaving enough to do something with that construction method.

Maybe sometime I’ll do something knitted into strips. I learned how to do that in my Anna Zilboorg class about a year ago. She had us actually connect the strips as we knit, so we would not have to sew at the end. It made some very handsome garments but it required a lot more purling than I enjoy, and a whole lot more thinking than I usually do when I knit stockinette tubes for socks.

Anyway… I really loved that site, maybe you will as well.

Foster Center in Spring

Friday, April 23rd, 2004

It is the gorgeous, but sneezy, part of spring here now. Every tree is blossoming, whether in pink or white, or just green pollen hiding in wait. It is beautiful, the perfect example of spring in Michigan. Yet at the same time, it is a big allergy time, and that makes it hard for me to be my fully enthusiastic self. I want to sleep all day, but that is just not going to work!

I took pictures of Foster Center on Thursday. I love the blossoming trees around the front entrance. It’s hard to see, but there are also red tulips blooming on the left of the entry as well.

I’m trying to catch up with all my old pics that never got posted. Here are two pics of my knitting kidz this week. On Wednesday, I had 21 kids and that was so many I did not think to take pictures while I tried to meet their needs. Thursday, however, is my slow day. It is only kids who bring themselves, by walking or by bike. I think I even had 9 kids this week on Thursday at one point or another, but it felt really quiet after the crowd I had taught the day before.

Here are the three who were there at the end of one of my days this week. The little boy had been cranking out crocheted wristbands in multiple colors of yarn that session. I think he finished three, and one was so big he could not wear it without pushing it up on his upper arm.

The girl standing in back rode her bike. She has been with me for over a year. She had a hard time getting knitting with needles, so I got her started with yarn by finger-crocheting, then finger-knitting, then a knitting spool, and then one day she asked to knit with regular needles. When she doesn’t feel like concentrating or I don’t have a lot of time for her, she goes back to finger-crocheted chains. She made me that necklace you see her playing with, by putting four strands, four different colors together. She gave it to me as a necklace after measuring carefully so I could tie it in a knot but get it over my head. I love the colors. I actually wore the necklace two days this week.

The girl who is seated, is knitting with the wool yarn we dyed with Kool-Aid during spring break. There is a close up of the project here as well. She is one of my regulars, and although she is fairly young, she is really doing very well. She knits at home sometimes as well. Actually, all of these kids come pretty regularly. They are “My Kids!!!” I really, truly love these children. I don’t say that to them, I just try to act it in every way. They know.

By the way, thanks to those who have sent packages and the one check (bless you, that is beyond what I asked or expected). I show the packages to the kids and they know things come from you folks. They know these are gifts to them, and I think it does make them feel special. I make sure they are reminded to be good stewards of the gifts they have received.

Earth Day Event

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004

Thursday I went to the WRAP (Waste Reduction Awards Program) luncheon. I met Marie V. from the Freecycle list and we accepted the award for Aaron, the founder of MMFN (Mid-Michigan Freecycle Network). It was a pleasant event. Jane Aldrich, anchor on Channel 6 WLNS, was the master of ceremonies, and the main speaker was Dave Dempsey, from Michigan Environmental Council and author of two books on the Great Lakes and this area’s history of environmental action.

It was not as large of an event as I would have liked, it was sort of preaching to the converted. However, the folks in the room were interested in Freecycle. And one of the men who was there to accept an award (I think for Sparrow Hospital) said his daughter is one of my kids at Foster. Her name is Ashley… and I have several Ashleys, but of course now that he’s not staring at me I think I know which one is his. I go blank on names sometimes when it really matters. Sigh…

The awards were made of tin cans from the landfill at Granger, and were quite well-done. The artwork on the tables was made by children with scrap lumber pieces, and I really liked them. They remind me of the “Animalitos” made near Oaxaca, Mexico.

Marie’s Stole

Wednesday, April 21st, 2004

It was supposed to rain today but it was only nasty out early in the morning. We even had sun a few times, although it is much colder now (lower 50’s F).

The best spring news today is that the fruit trees appear to be blooming all over town. I’m seeing the ornamental crabapple trees all over. To me, this is the essence of spring in Michigan. The trees are so soft and feminine, and it is a totally different sort of beauty than other spots I’ve been in spring. Lovely and delicate, not in your face at all but full of creatiive energy, creating the beginning of a fruit harvest.

Here is a picture of my friend Marie’s ColorJoy stole. She started with my pattern and then lost the paper so had to go by her instincts. I think that her instinct worked great. The stole is for her grandmother, and I think it’s a perfect gift, a sort of hug.

By the way, the cool news tonight is that Marie and three other dancers auditioned to be Habibi Dancers… and they all got in! Four new Habibis. It’s very exciting! These women have been performing as students at our concerts for a few years, and have been doing some local performances at nursing homes to get experience working as a troupe. They also have taken enough classes from our troupe leader, to learn a good handful of dances they can jump in and perform for our upcoming summer performances. I’m very happy for them, and for us, that it all worked out so well.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I’m going to a luncheon at the Clarion Hotel. Two of us from the Freecycle list are accepting an award on behalf of the man who started the list, Aaron. He is getting an award for reducing the amount of solid waste, in a very real way. Cool biz. He has insisted that the award should have been given to the group, that it takes us all to make it work.

However, we would not be there if he had not taken action to make the list exist. It is wildly active these days, and I surely have participated in somewhere between a half-dozen and a dozen transactions myself. My last acquisition was a knitting book. My last contribution, I think, was a pair of inline skates. And of course, I received, on behalf of the citizens of Lansing, the donation to my classroom of something around 15-18 computers (depending on if you count the ones that didn’t work and were for parts).

The extra benefit of going to this award ceremony, is that I get to meet another Freecycler and actually chat for a while. Usually you meet long enough to transfer whatever it is you are giving away/getting, and then folks are back on to their own lives. The woman I’m meeting is named Marie (not my knitting/dancing friend) and she, too, has been on the Freecycle list since the beginning. I think we will have much in common. It promises to be a very pleasant socaial event.

Do something special for earth day, OK? Recycle something, plant a tree, or perhaps donate your extra “stuff” to a thrift shop rather than tossing it out. I may plant some seeds in my big red clay pot, if I feel optimistic about the frost not bothering it too much. (I guess I can cover the pot if it gets cold, right? I’m not much of a gardener, I am more of a voyeur, enjoying the gardens of other folks… but I love flowers so much I bought seeds this year in a burst of optimism. We’ll see if I actually plant them.)

Our Recording on the Airwaves!

Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

Wow, I’m still reeling with excitement! A week ago I got an email from Uke Jackson, the DJ of a show called the “Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour.” He asked for a CD of our music (The Fabulous Heftones, that is). Of course we got right on it!

We have had a low-recording-quality demo CD for a while (we made it originally as a Christmas present for my mother), but it is not broadcast quality. However, we sent him Brian’s two Heftone Banjo Orchestra albums, some of which feature ukulele. And we had one piece put together for one of the two albums we are putting together as The Fabulous Heftones. So we made a CD-single and sent it along.

I had just heard of his show only a week before he sent the email. It is broadcast out east (New Jersey) on Tuesdays at 3pm local time, but they stream the audio over their website so all online ukulele fans can listen. I was too booked last week to listen but today I did.

And what do you know? He played the theme song, “A Flaming Ukulele in the Sky” and then two songs by the esteemed Jim Beloff who I have mentioned here before. And then he played our version of the song, “Ain’t that a Grand and Glorious Feelin’?”

I was surprised at how emotional I was, hearing myself sing on the radio. It was so exciting! I spent my childhood singing along to records, into the mirror, for hours on end. I told everyone I was going to be a singer when I grew up, like Julie Andrews. OK, so when I was in early elementary school, her movies Mary Poppins and Sound of Music came out, and I loved her voice.

But today I had a little flashback to the years of singing into the mirror. Except today I was singing into a radio show (thank you, Uke Jackson!) and it could be heard all over the world… at least to those who love ukulele enough to listen in.

Then after our song played, Uke said about us, that we are “…a very talented husband and wife duo out there in Michigan.” Awww, flattery will get you everywhere!!!

From the chatter on Jim Beloff’s online ukulele bulletin board, it sounds like the show may be re-broadcast from wnti.org at 11pm Eastern Time (New York City time) on Wednesday/tomorrow. I hope it’s true, because my mom hasn’t heard this song yet and she will want to listen. Let’s hope her computer can do streaming audio properly. We’ve been warned that there is no guarantee the show will be repeated, but the word is to tune in tomorrow in case it works out. Let’s hope that we can create the right energy for it to come true, by acting as if it will happen!

Here is a pretty nice article in the San Francisco Chronicle about ukuleles… and another from USA Today.

Pictures today are more flowers my father planted about 33 years ago, a few years before his death. Thanks, Daddy!!! They sure are pretty.

Oh, and last but not least… My Godson, Michael (I call him my firstborn since I never had children of my own) turns 21 today. That is such a big deal. His mother and I went to first grade together!

I remember when Michael was just home from the hospital after being born. I held him and wondered what he would be like when he grew up. He’s a fine young man, likeable and friendly. He goes to Central Michigan University, where I went when I was his age. I’m proud of that kid!!!

Dance, Dance, Dance!

Monday, April 19th, 2004

Catching up a little: Saturday we had a dance workshop with MoMo Kadous, at the Hannah center in East Lansing. Here is a shot of some folks in the process of learning a dance. I really liked his dance, but I don’t remember dances until I’ve repeated a lot. I know some of the girls tried to write it down, so we will hope we can perform this someday.

Saturday night we had our Habibi Dancers’ 20th Annual Dance Concert! It was exciting. Our main feature dance was called “The Resurrection of Osiris” but it did not have any of the juicy parts, if you ever read the myth. The piece was choreographed by our troupe leader, Yasmina Amal. Here is a picture of our lead dancer for that piece, Amirah, with MoMo in his Osiris costume.

Brian took a lot of photos that day, but I haven’t had a chance to ask him where he stored them, so I can share them with you.

Two Days Old!

Sunday, April 18th, 2004

Absolute, total spring today! It got up to 83F! There were long lines at the Tate’s Freeze soft serve “ice cream” shop in Old Town, when I went to Working Women Artists. I saw a pre-adolescent boy practicing riding his bike without his hands. I got my first glimpse of dandelions. At this time of year they don’t seem like weeds at all!

But here is the ultimate: April came home with baby Isabel today. She caught me outside on my way to the Habibi workshop this morning. I stopped the car right on the side of the street, grabbed my camera and took a photo right away. I went into the house, printed it out and gave it to April in a matter of minutes. Aren’t digital photos handy?

So here she is: Baby Isabel, age 2 days. Isn’t she just as beautiful as a spring flower???