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Archive for May, 2004

Guild Sock Swap!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

Oh, how much fun can a group have in one day? Our Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild had their sock swap Tuesday. We often have over 30 people, perhaps 50, at guild meetings. I’d say at least a third of us participated.

The first picture is of as many feet/socks as we could fit in one picture. Fun, huh? And such variety!!!

The second picture is the pair I got from Sweatergirl/Tracy. She just became a mommy for the first time less than a month ago. Yet she got this pair done in plenty of time. I really like the way she used the short-row heel as a design element, with the stripes in the cuff.

This pair is dense and warm yarn, which is very soft. I am guessing it may be alpaca, or a blend of alpaca and wool perhaps. It looks hand-dyed. The bulk of the yarn is a sort of hot berry color, and the contrast has blueberry mixed with the pink berry as interest. It looks like she might have used a short-row toe as well as a short-row heel, something I’ve never done before. And the very top of the cuff is a variation on a rib that I don’t recognize. Maybe it was a special decorative cast on followed by just a few rows of 1-1 rib. Whatever it is, it doesn’t roll and it looks decorative without being lacy. I like these sox very, very much! I’m going to wear them a lot, I’m sure… there is no such thing as too many warm sox, as I’m sure you know.

The last picture is the sock (notice singular, not plural) that I gave to Handknitter/Sarah Peasley. I was knitting the toe (top down) for the second one when I had to leave for the meeting (all the knitting is done now, and I need to finish ends on that second sock… we are going to meet for tea so that she can have a whole pair).

Sarah was a very good sport about getting only one sock. She wrote me and said she wore the one sock to the grocery store on the way home from the guild meeting. OK, she convinced me she liked them! (I hope she’s not too upset with me for sharing that little bit of information… but it did make me feel good to hear it.)

As mentioned before, these are Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (the purple) and the contrast/variegated yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. The cashmerino is a thicker yarn than the other, but it worked out fine. I really like how my LynnH No-Purl heel (close stitch wide Dutch heel) shows off the multicolored yarn. I need to figure out something that is more compatible with that look, for toes. Today I just did the standard stockinette, which is pretty but there must be a slip stitch or something I can use on toes to mix up the colors more, yet that doesn’t pull the fabric in tightly from side to side. I haven’t played with that yet but I may.

The colors for Sarah’s socks just didn’t turn out very true this time. The purple is a bit periwinkle but more gray than blue, if that makes sense. This picture looks positively clear-pastel on my screen, not as subtle as in real life. The multicolor looks right on my screen, but not the solid. The pics on May 15 look more accurate if you wish to check that out.

In the end, I did like the almost-matching yarn in fairisle squares, once I added the heel and toe in the same multicolored yarn. Notice I also did a Knit 3/Purl 1 rib underneath the multicolored part of the leg. I get a bit nervous when I knit for folks I don’t know as well… I can knit for me, or Brian, or Mom, without a pattern and I can sort of tell when it will fit by looking at it. With other folks, I have learned that a little ribbing goes a long way to adapt for different sizes. Often I take the rib down the whole top of the instep, right to the toe. This one seemed OK with just the leg being ribbed. Sarah seemed to like the detail… or at least she noticed it.

I make things up on my needles as I go. This is not what I started out with in my head. However, I was scared of running out of cashmerino yarn and so I changed gears part way down the leg. I think it turned out just fine. Sarah is saying and doing the right things to make me think I did OK.

And the act of knitting for someone… well, it’s an act of love. I feel loved by Tracy’s work on my behalf (with a new baby, at that). And I very much enjoyed the chance to do loving work for my friend Sarah, who I just don’t see much any more.

A Tight Deadline… Again

Tuesday, May 18th, 2004

I’m spending Tuesday finishing the socks for my swap partner in the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild. Of course, I had plenty of time but I did my typical push-the-deadline thing and I’m cranking today. I could have a worse assignment, I think.

Back to the needles!

A Day that Flew By

Monday, May 17th, 2004

Monday flew by so fast! In the morning I had a client house call to fix an internet connection problem. Then I went to Yarn for Ewe, which is having a sale this week. I knew she had Debbie Bliss on sale, but the colors I love were not in stock. I’d have purchased some purple baby cashmerino if there was some, but it was gone. I did find one ball of raspberry Merino DK which I snatched up. I love the fibers in these yarns, but the colors are mostly too neutral for me. I guess that saved me some money.

I was determined to spend my $70 in gift certificates, but I just couldn’t feel inspired enough to buy anything there, on sale or not. Go figure. The closest I got was the possibility of knitting the vest/shell in Sally Melville’s purl stitch book (the one I like is shown in the book as a sleeveless shell in sage green, with beautiful silver clasps). I considered Cotton Classic or Cotton Twist (the yarn shown in the book, actually) but they didn’t have enough in stock for any of the colors I would enjoy knitting and wearing. I might order some later, but decided not to order when I was so unsure.

It was fun to be there, anyway. I just love going there, it’s like a little knitting party. While I was there, a huge downpour of rain hit, and we just enjoyed being safe and comfortable inside with all the yarn and one another.

I got the new Knitters magazine. Did you see the shell (sleeveless top) toward the back of the book, knit in Lion Brand Magic Stripes? (Design by Rick Mondragon.) It’s an entrelac, but knit in squares rather than diamonds or triangles. It looks fairly flattering as sleeveless styles go, but the orange and green colorway is even too much for this ColorJoy grrl.

Magic Stripes is sportweight, not fingering yarn… I wish the top were fingering, but then at least it isn’t one of those zillion styles these days knit at 4.5 st/inch. (Why do we knit bulky yarns without sleeves? It doesn’t make sense for climate control, even if a normal person could look good in that combination.) If *I* wear something that bulky, I’m going to look like a stuffed teddy bear. I need my fabrics to have some drape to them, unless we are talking about a coat.

Anyway, I may consider this top from the magazine. I still have a few weeks left at JoAnn and could buy the 3 skeins the top requires, with my small discount. I do like one of the colorways that has a sort of teal stripe. If I don’t like the colorway when I’m done, I can overdye the whole thing in a brighter turquoise, which would make it a monochromatic, multi-turquoise coloray. It’s a thought.

But I’m not inspired to do anything new right now, and I have plenty of projects to do for classes I’m teaching (once the guild sock swap is done) so I need to stay on track anyway. Sock swap, away!!!

A Nap in the Hammock

Sunday, May 16th, 2004

I had a lot of work this weekend. First I had a class at Foster on Saturday morning to early afternoon. Then I worked till close at JoAnn. Sunday I opened at JoAnn, which means I was bone tired going in.

Well, it was a gorgeous day in Lansing. On a gorgeous weekend day in this town, people go home and work in their yards. I sometimes say we are sort of a farming city, each yard is like a mini-farm and we go home and tend our tiny crops. I do it myself, and I mean it in the best way… I do notice that this is part of the personality of my city. I really adore the amazing gardens I get to see because of this tendency.

In Ann Arbor, you see a totally different dynamic. On a gorgeous day in Ann Arbor, if you go into the city you will see a lot of people milling about, and not just a block or two on one street. They have a meal, they have a cup of coffee at a sidewalk table. The young people dress up and walk around, looking at how other young people have dressed up. (This phenomenon happens in my town, but other than a few blocks in East Lansing you will see it more often at a mall than in an urban area.) I find Ann Arbor to be totally alive on a beautiful day, in a way that reminds me of Chicago or Toronto. In Lansing, you can drive through the neighborhoods and watch people tending to the magic of growing things. Also very alive, but very private rather than public or social.

Why do I write this? Because I was working at JoAnn today and it was slower than expected, no doubt because many folks were enjoying their yardwork. So I was asked if I wanted to go home early. I did not complain. It was 70 degrees F and sunny. I put up my hammock on the front porch, turned on a little music, and wrapped up in a thin blanket and took a nap for a full hour. I was so tired!!!

You know, hammocks are designed to have the ultimate cooling possible. I got sort of cold even with a cotton sweater and my blanket. The cold actually was what woke me. But at that point, I needed to go meet my friends at Emil’s Restaurant on the East Side, and knit.

It was four of us today at Emils. There were two women I know from JoAnn, and one of them brought her very fine and interesting daughter who is about 10 years old. I made sure to sit next to the child, I really enjoy her company (she sometimes comes to my knitting at Foster Center so we have a relationship beyond my friendship with her mother).

This child is pretty special, one of those young and wise people that are rare and wonderful. Saturday when I was teaching my retirees how to type letters using a word processor, she came into my classroom briefly (the door was open) and brought me a four-leaf clover. I have pressed it between pieces of paper so I can keep it a while. I was honored with her gift.

At Emil’s, we sat and talked, and ate great Italian food. One woman crocheted, two of us knit, and the little girl made red tassels for her mother, who is making a dance costume for Renaissance Festival which will look great with a few tassels. It was the best of ways to finish up my work week (Monday and Tuesday are typically my weekend). I do have a house call Monday morning (one of my retiree computer students wants me to set her up to connect to the internet). After that I am full-time finishing these swap sox for my partner, which are due on Tuesday night.

I’m ready to start the heels right now, so I’m in good shape to finish on time. My big concern is whether I’ll have enough yarn to finish. I know I have another half-skein of the cashmerino from making Mom’s hand warmers at Christmas. However, I did not find it the first time looking through my stash (which, although not particularly large, is quite disorganized right now). I would like to look during daylight hours when the light is better. Meanwhile, I will have to plan to finish without the extra yarn just in case. I guess I’m doing the heels and toes in 100% the contrast/multicolored yarn, which is not what I had planned originally. No big deal, they will look just great this way.

I didn’t do any yardwork at all today. OK, I pulled a few more seedling trees from the lawn but that was the extent of it all. I wonder… I planted some nasturtium seeds last Monday and they are supposed to take 7-8 days to germinate. Maybe I’ll see some little leaves pushing through the soil as early as tomorrow. That would be very exciting!

Photographs are gardens near my home in Lansing, from last summer.

Chilly Spring Morning

Saturday, May 15th, 2004

It did finally cool off with the wind and rain yesterday. Right now it is 48 degrees and we expect only a high of 58F today. The good news is that in the five-day forecast, there is only Monday night and Tuesday with a chance of thunderstorms. Last week I checked the forecast and every single day *and* night was chance of rain at best.

Today is supposed to be the only really cool day, and I will be indoors most of it anyway. It could be worse.

In knitting content, I’m making a pair of sox for my swap partner in the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild. I’m doing stranded colorwork on part of the sock. I wanted solid color with a variegated for the second strand. It’s harder than I thought.

I picked a soft purple (Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino) for the sock, and it has so much gray in it that it just looked totally wrong with the first contrast color I picked. The contrast looked garish because it was not muted at all, no gray at all. It was a Koigu, which also was more textured than the cashmerino.

Now I am using a Lorna’s Laces sock yarn. The colors are gorgeous and muted as with the purple, but not as much contrast. The texture is much closer to that of the first yarn. It makes for sort of a watercolor disappearing-motif look, but overall it looks much better. After doing polymer clay for years, I really like good, solid contrast. However, in this case I think this watercolor look will be lovely. Different for me, but that is good to stretch a bit.

Recycling Retained!

Friday, May 14th, 2004

(If you don’t like politics, skip to the Spring Report entry, OK?)

Well, I guess it is worth it to stand up and say what you believe. Monday night I went with two other members of the Mid-Michigan Freecycle Network, to Lansing City Hall, to speak in favor of keeping our Recycling programs in Lansing. They were considering several possible program cuts, including cutting the program in half, not picking up yard waste from mid-June to mid-September, and eliminating the Recycling coordinator position (not sure the official title).

I am not at all into politics. I do not *do* conflict. There were a million things I’d rather do than go speak on television to City Council. But I believe that in the USA I have the right to speak my truth. I often have little control over what happens after I speak, but I can at least do that.

Now there is an article in the Lansing State Journal, saying that they are not going to make cuts in the programs. They will be raising the fees to homeowners in order to do this, but it is a small amount when compared to the cost of a city which does not look good for lack of services… or a full landfill before its time.

Whew. I don’t wanna do that again, it was very stressful. The sock I was knitting the night I was at city hall, got knit so tightly that I had to rip out everything I did while I was there (it still made me feel better to knit rather than sit still while I waited my turn). My nerves made me knit vastly tighter than usual. But I said my piece, and in this case I am seeing the results of folks like me, speaking up for what we believe is good for our lovely city.

Spring Report

Friday, May 14th, 2004

It is warm and damp and very springlike. I did get out in the yard this morning before the rain started, and I did some more weeding. For someone who doesn’t like dirt on her hands, I sure am giving in to the needs of my yard.

Wowie, just as I am typing this, the weather went from a bare sprinkle of rain to a wild downpour with strong winds. I can’t even see the trees across the street clearly. I’m glad I did my gardening earlier today. I did plant some seeds Monday and I am hoping that this damp week will be really good for them.

It is sort of strange, it was almost 80 degrees, and even with the downpour it’s over 76. Normally it will cool off much more than that with this sort of rain, but it’s not over yet (although the wind has already calmed down and the rain is coming straight down now). I sort of wanted to bake some brownies or a cake or maybe rhubarb crisp today, and the kitchen was a bit warm for that, so maybe the rain will be a gift inside as well as out. I’m glad I don’t have to go out today if I do not choose. What a luxury days like this are. I’m trying to do my computer catching up and then the plan is to go down into the dyeing studio for the rest of the evening.

But I’m telling you, the computer work is enough to make a strong person weep. I am getting so much spam, both email and on this blog, that it takes a lot of time to clear it all out. I threw away over 2000 messages yesterday in my email, and last night I had to delete about 8 advertising comments (usually prescription drug sales) on the blog… and right now I have 5 more to delete in about half a day. And I’m up to almost 1200 email spams already and the day is not half over yet.

If you write to me and I don’t write back right away, please feel free to write to me again. I’ve got a good reputation for returning emails quickly (I’m not very good with phone messages, unfortunately), but right now I’m on overload… and sometimes I accidentally delete a good message thinking it looks a lot like spam.

Be sure to write a subject line that has at least two words in it. So many junk messages have no subject, or a random single word, that a message with a short or missing subject is sure to just get deleted without a second thought. If you were deleting around 100 messages an hour, you would delete some good ones, too. Sad, very sad. (Yes, I have some spam filtering in place, but because I receive all mail to purpletree.com, LynnH.com, and ColorJoy.com… even when the address is not a valid address, I’m getting drowned in messages to people who don’t exist.)

But enough of my troubles… look at the flowers in my yard! We have a pretty wild outdoor environment, as we don’t love spending most of our summer in the garden, and we choose to do without chemicals in the yard. Therefore, we plant as many perennials as we can, which will come up every year. The lilies of the valley, Brian planted a few years ago when we noticed that the neighbor across the street had an amazing abundance of them thriving on the north side of their house. Our house had almost nothing on the north side. They look more healthy this year than ever, and I’m delighted.

The other white flowers came with the house, they are in several places around the yard. I am not sure what they are, some sort of bulb (I’m sure I should dig them up and separate them, because in most places we have leaves but no flowers). Sometimes they are the first thing to bloom after the violets, but this year they waited a bit. Their leaves are tiny and thin, very dark green, and almost like grass. You see them here in a small batch of miscellaneous plants, including the one small patch of “Snow on the Mountain” that actually grows happily in our yard (I seem to be the only person on the earth who can put this plant in the soil and have it not thrive), and a bunch of what are probably very healthy weeds.

The last picture is our breakfast the other day. We are enjoying springlike foods, including Michigan asparagus the other night and this luscious plate full of fruit. It was just toaster waffles from the health food store, with California strawberries. I miss going to the Sugar Bowl restaurant (on Cedar Street south of Holmes, on the east side of the street near the Total station) and getting strawberry pancakes. I just can’t go there anymore… the pancakes have all sorts of ingredients I can’t eat any more. Absolutely delicious ingredients that most other folks can eat happily… just not me.

But that restaurant is the real thing, a family-owned diner… one guy (I think he’s the owner, by the way customers address him) in the kitchen cooking and a couple of career waitresses holding down the front end. Plenty of food, and almost always a few truck drivers or postal delivery folks there. The only downside is that it’s so tiny the nonsmoking section is two tables on the edge of the room, but plenty smoky.

My favorite memory of Sugar Bowl: there was one waitress there who would always put the whipped cream on my plate, in the shape of a smiley face. Gotta love that!!!

Happy springtime.

Susan’s Fast Florida Footie

Thursday, May 13th, 2004

Fast Florida Footie knit by Susan Aguirre of St. Paul, MNOK, we’re back to knitting content. Big sigh of relief there, I really need knitting to calm me after such a high-intensity few weeks. It seems that I haven’t slowed down much since the Habibi concert in Mid-April. It is time to mellow out a bit.

Susan from St. Paul, Minnesota writes that she enjoyed making a pair of my Fast Florida Footies. Here is a photo of her results. Don’t you love her colors? I particularly like how the colorway worked out in the LynnH No-Purl Heel. That heel stitch just does a great job with variegated yarns.

Susan has a couple of artful websites. One is ZenKnit and the other is Healing Beadwork. You may want to take a look at her work.

I was born in the Twin Cities of Minnesota (Golden Valley… I always felt very lucky to have been born in a town with such a beautiful name). So Susan is a bit of a home grrrl, never mind that I haven’t lived in that state since about 1960.

Just the same, I feel a real connection to folks in Minnesota. We spent every summer there, and I can talk like a real Minnesotan within about 5 minutes of starting a conversation there! I can’t put on the dialect on purpose, but as soon as I am surrounded with it, I go there without realizing it. My family is primarily of Norwegian descent (my Maiden name is Troldahl, you can’t get more Norwegian than that), and the softness of the vowels that comes with that heritage makes music to my ears. When they speak the vowel “O” they nearly sing it. Aaaahhh, home.

My mom is on the way to Minnesota right now, as we speak. Her small hometown, Hanska (about 400 residents), has a very big celebration of Norwegian Indepenence Day (Syttende Mai, or Seventeenth of May) and people bus in from all over the countryside to come to the festivities, particularly a variety/comedy show they do several nights. There are Norwegian dinners, and all sorts of ways to socialize. It’s a very big deal. Mom and Fred just got home to Michigan, so they considered not starting a new trip already… but the draw to home and the festivities was too much for them. (This article says “Hanska is arguably the Norwegian cultural hub of southern Minnesota” and I understand why.)

I am sure they will have a great time. I wish I could go. My friend Susan Hensel just moved to Minneapolis, and I have several cousins and second-cousins I would love to visit. Tony and I are talking about when we could maybe do a trip to visit Sue this year (we miss her already). I’m hoping to make a very big trip late this year or early next year, so funds will be tight in the travel department, but if we stay with friends, maybe we can keep the costs down enough to do it.

Meanwhile, everyone wave at Minnesota!! Hi, to the two artful Susans!!!

Our Two-Concert Weekend

Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

I took a while to get my photos ready, but finally I am ready to tell of the two-concert weekend we just finished. It was a wonderful time.

Friday we went to the Folk Society of Midland. The concert was at the library, in a wonderful auditorium built by the Dow family. Midland is a one-company town (Dow Chemical and associated companies) and the company makes sure this fairly small city is a pleasant place to work, so they can attract good talent to their employment rolls. I was amazed at the art museum next to the library. Lansing does not have an art museum, and we are the capitol city of the state, but Midland, a much smaller city, has a lovely one by the looks of it. Very impressive.

We were greeted by our Friend Carol, to whom I’d sent an email notice about the concert just a few days earlier. We only see Carol once or twice a year so that was a real treat. Then we went into the auditorium, and our friends Kathy and Jerry were there (they are the two original members of their band, Hoolie, which now has four members). It was great to see them, as well. They had a lot of instruments and microphones to set up so we left them alone and waited our turn.

Our sound check was uneventful, and we got to use a wonderful studio microphone between us that was strong enough to pick up both voices without leaning into the mike. Very nice.

Then, just as we were ready to go on, I found that the low-E string on my bass was not in tune. I turned the peg to try and tune it properly, and then it snapped. The string went limp and there was nothing I could do, because they were calling our names to perform.

It’s a good thing I don’t use that string very often (I have a five-stringed bass and I tend to use the four higher strings). The main reason I like it there, is that I sort of navigate my other strings by having that one there in place, where I rest between notes. So I was able to play all our tunes just fine, but I did not play as fancy as I might have… I played it a little more carefully so that I would not grab the wrong string by mistake!

Since we just have such a good time together on stage, and we really have some nice numbers, the concert went well. I think the audience did not realize I was missing one of my five strings.

We had a lovely time in Midland. Everyone was so welcoming! We loved it.

The first two photos are Brian and I doing our best to Moon/June/Spoon on stage in Midland. Third photo is Hoolie.

On Saturday, Brian and I both worked in the morning and early afternoon. I actually got up really early to take my friend Tony to the airport, so I didn’t get much sleep. I took a small nap after work and Brian bought strings for the bass when he was at work that day. When he got home he started to change the string, and then he realized that the problem was the tuning mechanism, not the string itself. He tried to fix it and he was almost successful, but in the end we just pulled the string off the bass entirely. At least that way I could rest my fingers on the fretboard below where the string normally would go. The night before I had a floppy string under my fingers and it was not a solid place to rest.

The good news was that once we got on stage at Banjorama, I did very well with the new string set up. It was probably the largest crowd we have ever sung to, a full house at a large church hall in Davison, 15 minutes east of Flint. I heard they had 350 tickets and they all sold.

The crowd at Banjorama was so welcoming, it was delightful. Even though the crowd was really big and we could not see many of the people because of the lighting, we could really feel that they were right with us. There was a different feel to this crowd, because they were sitting at tables and eating a meal, having some beer or a coke, and so it was more like a party than the formal concert the night before. They were quiet and paid attention, so it was not like a restaurant, but it was more like dinner theatre perhaps.

We did some of Brian’s instrumental numbers, with him playing banjo ukulele. We did “Singing in the Bathtub” which went over very well. That song is special for us, because we whistle one whole verse in harmony and I think it sounds just great. Let’s face it, most of us know that song from Tweety Bird, and so whistling goes right along with that idea.

I also sang “Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love” and “Tiptoe through the Tulips.” I’m telling you, when I sing Tulips the world wakes up. It has a long and beautiful introduction that apparently nobody has ever heard before (probably because Tiny Tim never sang it), which sets up the mood that the sun is setting and things are quiet in the garden. Then the main part of the song comes along (but I sing the words that were originally written, not the ones that our esteemed Mr. Tim, may he rest in peace, typically sang). And the minute I sing the chorus, the world wakes up! They loved it, and I loved singing it. What a high it was to sing for those lovely folks!

The other bands that night were The Cats and The Fiddler… a threesome of children who are pretty amazing musicians/vocalists (all elementary-aged kids), Mal Cooper and friends, and the Flint Banjo Club. We went on after the kids, so we didn’t hear them nearly as much as we would have liked.

Mal Cooper played a whole list of tunes that were favorites from my childhood. My mother would have really loved this concert. Then there was an intermission, followed by a long and wonderful set of 14 songs by the Flint Banjo Club.

Now, if all you know about banjo is bluegrass, you don’t know what this sounded like. It was more dixieland or old-timey. The folks were playing four-stringed banjos, either plectrum banjos or tenor banjos. Their set included: I’m Looking Over a Four Leafed Clover, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Georgia on My Mind, Beer Barrel Polka, Bill Bailey, and When I Lost You. Sing-along heaven! I made sure to get CDs from the banjo club and Mal Cooper… and the night before we traded CDs with Hoolie. I’m set for music for a good long while, I think!

Final photos are the Flint Banjo Club (all 30-plus banjos, and a tuba, piano, trumpet, bass, drums, and trombone), and Mal Cooper and friends (guitar, banjo, tuba). The photos just did not turn out very well, but you can at least see the vastness of that banjo band!

Article on Ft. Wayne Freecycle

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

There is a very nice article in the Fort Wayne, Indiana paper, about freecycling. What is very cool, is that the people interviewed for the article are the parents of someone in Jackson, Michigan. In fact, the person in Jackson and I had our own freecycle interchange. I got a large enameled pot from her, for dyeing wool.

Elderly Instruments/Stan Werbin Interview

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

Cool biz… the Lansing State Journal did an article on Brian’s boss, Stan Werbin. Stan founded Elderly Instruments with another partner or two in the early 1970’s, and now it does an excellent catalog/web-based music business worldwide.

I remember when they were in a little space in the lower level of a building not far from the MSU campus. It was probably around 1975, and I would buy my guitar strings and capos from them.

Now they are in Old Town, on the north side of Lansing. They are in an old red brick building, built originally as an Odd Fellows Hall. Brian has worked there for a long time, well over a decade anyway, maybe close to two decades by now. Funny how time flies.

Stan Werbin has been important to us as musicians recently… he plays ukulele as does Brian, and he told us about the Midwest Ukefest last October. We almost did not go. Stan kept pushing us and pushing, telling us we just could not miss it. And it really changed a lot for us. It exposed our act to many people we would otherwise not have met (including Uke Jackson of the Flying Ukulele Radio Hour), and we made some friends as well. I’m very grateful.

I think it’s a very nice article. I haven’t asked him yet how they did on quoting him properly, but knowing Stan, it sounds about right.

Go, Stan! I’m glad he’s been acknowledged in this way.

Spring Update

Monday, May 10th, 2004

The National Weather Service weather report for Lansing is predicting thunderstorms consistently from today through Thursday night. However, right now we have sunshine. My thermometer in the kitchen says it is 73.6F inside, and 73.6F outside. I can’t think of anything more perfect than that! Well, I like 80F but most people do not, and I surely won’t complain today.

I have a few days where I do not have any business appointments. I’m taking Mom to lunch today and dropping by Yarn for Ewe. If it stays nice out, I’ll plan to spend some time on the porch.

Then I’ll be going to city hall tonight, because they are talking about cutting recycling funds for my city (to save money?) and I believe that is shortsighted. At least three of us from the Freecycle list will be going. I really, really do not like politics or conflict. However, for once I feel strongly enough about something that I will speak my mind in spite of the discomfort. I am not in control of the results, but I can say what I believe and let go of the rest.

This afternoon if I have time, I may plant some flower seeds I bought a few weeks ago in a burst of optimism. I have Nasturtium seeds and Johnny Jump-ups. And some dill seeds, my favorite thing to grow. Last year Marlene Cameron gave me some nasturtium seeds but it was a little too late in the season and they did not get strong enough before the hot weather came. Nasturtiums are so pretty, even the leaves are beautiful. Marlene says the flowers are edible and good in salads, they are sort of peppery. When I was out in Vermont I saw them everywhere. I had not noticed them before. I’m hoping that this year they will do well here.

I’ve never even heard of Johnny Jump Up flowers before I bought the seeds, but they reseed themselves and come up every year, which is my favorite kind of plant. They are purple and yellow, and look like tiny pansies. Lili says she has them in her yard and they are wonderful. She told me to go ahead and plant them, a week ago. I’ve been far too busy this week to go outdoors but maybe I’ll do it today. I hope. If I do, the rain all week will be really good for them.

I slept until 11am (after going to bed at my typical 1:30am). It felt so good to sleep until I just could not stay in bed any longer. It was too much of a week last week, and I can’t stay with that pace no matter how fun it is! I’m going to do my best to really take it slowly today.

Mom Writes

Monday, May 10th, 2004

My mother read what I wrote for her yesterday, and she clarified a little:

… By the way, the other honors I received at the Polk County games were gold in the 50 and 100 meter dashes. I started those races to prove I was still alive after my cancer and never expected to win…

Mind you, I am pretty sure *I* could not dash for 100 meters. I get a stitch in my side when I do aerobic activities. I have tried many times, following advice to help me get through it. I still get a pain no matter how much I watch my sleep, water intake, caffeine intake and breathing patterns. But here goes my mom… running because she can. I’m proud.

My Mom, Lucky Me

Sunday, May 9th, 2004

Mom wearing stole I knit for herToday is Mother’s day. My mom and I had to grow until we could see each other as we really are, and appreciate one another. We had just started to have this new relationship about eight years ago… just before Brian and I got engaged… the same time she was diagnosed with cancer.

Mom went through her chemotherapy during the time Brian and I planned our wedding. I was very distracted by the nerves of planning a huge party for a large group of people I barely knew (Brian’s family is vast and mine is absolutely tiny). I was not very available to Mom during that time.

She was so thrilled with Brian and our impending marriage, I wonder how much that helped her stay focused on things other than her illness. I can’t help but think it was good medicine to know her only daughter was finally happy and being treated very well. So maybe even though I didn’t take her to any doctor’s appointments, maybe just being engaged was help to her during that hard time.

So now it is 7.5 years since our marriage. Mom has been done with her chemo treatments since just after the wedding. Her tests consistently come back as having no sign whatsoever of any recurrance of the cancer. Every time she has a birthday we celebrate that she’s been here on this earth one more year. But the truth is, she’s not just here… she is seizing each day with an enthusiasm that many people never know. That has always been her style, as far back as I can remember. She knows every day is a gift and always has. (Actually, she was born prematurely in a rural town in Minnesota, and the doctors did not expect her to live at all, so every day has truly been a gift for her.)

She just won the volunteer of the year award at her school in Florida. Her passion is to help kids who are falling behind, how to recognize the letters of the alphabet and prepare them for basic reading tasks and other basics (like how many pennies are the same as one dime).

Best yet, Mom has been dancing like a crazy woman (the good kind of crazy, of course) and winning ballroom dance medals left and right, with her partner, Fred. They did the jitterbug so well, Fred even pulls her through his legs still, something couples twenty years younger than they are, do not try to do. I’m not sure how many awards they won, but they got medals of Gold, Silver, and Bronze, ad I think they got at least 2 in each of those.

Mom also won a few other medals in some other events (this is the senior games in Polk County, Florida). In fact, she won the prize for more points than anyone else in her age category this year.

I’m so proud of her for that. She loves to dance, has always loved dancing and music. My father was not a very good dancer. He would go out there and try to mess her up, dancing incorrectly sometimes on purpose, and she could follow almost anything he could throw her way. He did love her very much, but I know she sometimes wished she had a dance partner that was up to her caliber. Fred is that sort of partner, and I’m happy for them.

Today I worked at JoAnn all day. I called Mom before I went to work. She decided she wanted a Mother’s day hug, so she came over to the store and waited until I was between customers for me to come over and give her as big a hug as I could in a tiny bit of time. Tomorrow I am taking her to lunch at the Coral Gables restaurant, a favorite haunt for many years (they cook a lot of their food from scratch, it’s a quality place at a good price, and Mom often knows other customers there which makes her happy).

But today I count my blessings, that I have my mom. That she’s here and happy and healthy. And pretty. Everyone mentions how pretty she is (just look at her lovely hair, in the second picture here… she was dancing with me and another Habibi Dancer last October). Mom and I are both very small people. I look a bit more like her sister than I do her, and I have my Daddy’s eyes, but mom and I both move alike. We both are dancers. We both are singers. We both integrate artfulness into our everyday lives. Last night at Banjorama I had a hard time sitting still to the music, and I knew Mom would have had the same challenge.

I remember when I was a child and Mom had ironing to do (she did not enjoy domestic chores… we’re alike there as well), she would put on a record pretty loud, and dance as she ironed. I’m a lot like that, though I almost never need to iron. Some of the music she listened to those days, is music we sang at the jam session after the concert on Saturday. Both my parents passed the love of music to me, and I’m really reaping the benefits of that, in very visible ways, right now.

Mom, you are one cool woman! Happy Mom’s day!