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Archive for July, 2006

Home Again!

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

We got home past midnight, I teach Sunday noonish at Threadbear so there’s little time to write now. We played lots of music, sold a good number of CDs, had a good time. It was hot hot hot with a monster thunderstorm around dinnertime Friday. Tunes were hot hot hot, too.

I’m behind, tried to connect to the internet but Evart is just too small a town or something… the McDonalds and Super 8 supposedly both offered wireless internet but neither could offer access to a soul when we actually got there. The library had their own slow computers but by the time we got there, it was 15 minutes to closing time. Such is life. I’ve never expected to get online while camping before, but I did try. Then I just gave in and camped and sang. It was fine.

I’ll catch up on the Minnesota travelogue and tell of the dulcimer festival when I get home from work. Thanks for hanging in with me while I was incommunicado.

Midwest Tour, Wisconsin/Illinois/Michigan

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Miller Park, Milwaukee, WisconsinAfter lunch in Madison we had to decide what to do next. Should we visit Milwaukee just because it was not too much out of the way? Even if it meant we would surely be fighting rush hour traffic there or Chicago depending on how our timing went? We decided to go for it. It was fine. I don’t mind driving at all, and the traffice was crowded but not stopped so that was OK for me.

Hyatt Hotel, Milwaukee, WisconsinThere was incredible construction downtown in Milwaukee, whole bridges taken out. We wanted to go downtown by the water and the way we came in didn’t really allow for that. We actually went slightly south, got off the highway, turned around and went back. I mean, if you are going to go to a city, taking photos from a construction site in rush hour traffic does not really count as a visit.

Historical Building Interior, MilwaukeeOn the way in, Brian got a photo of the baseball stadium: Miller Park. It’s impressive from a distance. It seems every city we hit, I take photos of the baseball stadium… except for Chicago where it just is not easy to photograph from the highway… the passenger taking photos is on the wrong side of the car for a good photo and there are bridges in the way.

We wandered around the city a bit in our car, and got a photo of the Hyatt with a round (maybe rotating?) room on top. There were people still downtown walking around even though businesses were done for the day. We decided to go looking for a cup of good tea before going on. We saw a sign for a Borders Books which surely had a cafe, so parked near that… but ended up at a locally owned spot instead.

Street Scene, MilwaukeeOn the way to finding the coffee house, between the car and the tea, we wandered into a lovely renovated old building with a sculpture of a prominent early-1900s Milwaukee citizen. The building was erected in his honor by his descendants, a decade or two after his death. It was a gorgeous building which is a sort of city mall, with a TJ Maxx as one of the shops. It was a gorgeous detour, indeed.

Baha'i Temple, Evanston, IllinoisWe were not downtown all of 20 minutes but enjoyed walking around a bit and seeing the city from ground level. I’m glad we took the detour. If only we’d known we were going to be there, and could have stayed a while, we might have looked up our friend “Lil Rev” who is a very fine ukulele musician (and who will be playing at Altu’s on a Wednesday in September). As it was, we got tea and headed south to Chicago.

We knew from the trip north, that the main highway near downtown Chicago was under major construction. We decided to pop off the highway again and work through the local streets. We got off at Evanston, north of Chicago, because I wanted to show Brian the magnificent building and gardens of the Baha’i Temple there. I’ve been there a few times, it’s a wonderful, peaceful, beautiful place. We did find it but did not stop. I got a pretty good photo considering we were in a moving car!

Condos, 5700 block Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IllinoisWe found our way through Chicago via Sheridan Road and Lakeshore Drive, down through southern Chicago again. On the way down Sheridan I took a photo of the twin towers of condos where I once nearly purchased a home for myself. Fourth floor, view of Lake Michigan, back yard a public park but with no parking so lightly populated. The kitchen was brushed stainless steel, and the windows had deep marble sills where you could sit and see Lake Michigan (which is more like a small sea, you can not see across it). It was not expensive in 1991 but I am sure I could not afford it now.

Skyline from North Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, IllinoisIf I had found work in Chicago I would have bought the place and never looked back. As it is, I stayed in Lansing, bought a house on the East Side and found Brian. I have no regrets.

Once we got on Lakeshore Drive, I had the opportunity I’ve never had, to take photos of the skyline. I almost always go to Chicago alone and driving Lakeshore is a full-attention experience with no stoplights at which to take photos. I am very pleased with the photos I got this time.

I guess I could have taken more photos between Chicago and Lansing, as we did in fact see a bit of Michigan before the sun went down. However, I guess I’ve traveled that route enough times that I don’t feel a tourist there. Suffice it to say that it’s wine and fruit territory around the southeast corner of Lake Michigan, and if you get there the right time of day you can stop at some magnificent fruit stands this time of year.

We got home past midnight. It was a wonderful time… but I was very happy to be home again.

Photos: 1) Miller Park from highway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 2) Hyatt Hotel, Milwaukee. 3) Interior of Historical commerce building, downtown Milwaukee. 4) Streetscape, downtown Milwaukee. 5) Baha’i Temple, Evanston, Illinois. 6) Condos at 5700 block of Sheridan Road (at point where Lakeshore drive ends on the north side of Chicago), where I had an opportunity to live once. 7) Chicago Skyline from North, on Lakeshore Drive.

Midwest Tour, Minnesota/Wisconsin

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Moonrise in Rural Southeastern MinnesotaWe left Minnesota while the sun was still up, and determined to get as far as we could before turning in for the night. We did not get very far. It had been an exausting trip, never mind that the two weeks before the trip were intense for me while I knit my self-portrait. And the two weeks before that, I spent promoting our CD release party.

That is to say that yours truly had not had much sleep in a good long while. And tired is not the way to drive! My brother and I have a pact, that we will not drive with our eyes closed. It’s a serious pact, though it sounds funny. That means being willing to stop short of the goal in order to stay safe.

It was a beautiful drive, especially as the sun was setting. The part of Minnesota where we were is quite flat, and you can see a long distance over farmland as you drive. Very pretty, and I was able to catch a photo of the moon rising over the fields.

Wisconsin DellsWe got to LaCrosse, Wisconsin (on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, at the Mississippi River. We had stayed there on our honeymoon ten years ago and so it felt welcoming and familiar to us. We fell asleep early and slept late. Aaah!

The next day (Monday) we had decisions to make. Brian and I like to collect cities. Should we have lunch in Madison? (We love Madison, we stayed there on our Honeymoon as well, and it’s a town with very good international cuisine.) Should we take the time to detour to Milwaukee, a city we both had never seen before? If we did that detour, would we regret it by hitting Chicago at a bad traffic time?

State Street, Madison, WisconsinSince I had not found food for breakfast in LaCrosse, I was eager to eat. And since I know there is much food I can eat in Madison even with my allergies, I lobbied for that as our lunch spot.

Wisconsin Dells was even closer, but it’s more of a regular American-Fare sort of town and I was afraid we’d spend a lot of time looking and not find any food I could eat. (Wisconsin Dells has been a vacation spot since my Grandma Illa was young, it’s in a natural beauty area… but it’s more what my dad once called a “Tourist Trap” although it’s nicer now… but they are more likely to have Perkins Pancakes and McDonalds than Indian or Ethiopian food.)

Nepalese Food as ArtWe stopped for gasoline and juice in the Dells and headed on to Madison. You can see in the photo there is a roller coaster in the background… you can also find boat rides and Jellystone Park and water parks, miniature golfing, you name it. On our honeymoon we found the Flamingo Motel (which was closed for the season given that it was October) and had our photos taken under the two-story fiberglass flamingo out front. It’s total Americana. I love it for being true to itself. But it’s not food heaven for Lynn.

So we pressed on to Madison. I just adore Madison. It reminds me of Ann Arbor although smaller. I looked on the Internet for international food there before we left. There is Turkish, Indian, Japanese, Nepalese, all sorts of other nationalities I can’t remember. I was actually interested in finding the Turkish place when we arrived, but we ended up at a Nepalese restaurant where I’d eaten before so I knew it was good. We sure don’t have that cuisine in Lansing!

Restaurant InteriorMadison was welcoming even though of course in the middle of construction season. We got stopped by a long train at one point (Brian took photos of the graffiti, I’ll get back to that someday when I’m not so behind on postiings). But when we got down to State Street, all was well. Yes, they were tearing up many spots but we could walk the sidewalks just fine. We had several good choices for lunch but I’m glad we had food from Nepal. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Street with Cow Sculpture in Madison, WIThe restaurant has large storefront glass windows allowing sunshine into the place. They have painted the front wall’s arched detail with several colors to accent the shapes. Very nice indeed. Tables were close enough together that patrons talked to one another even if they had not met before. The waitress was enthusiastic and helpful. It was a good experience.

On the way back we enjoyed looking at the fiberglass dairy cows that had been decorated by various artists. One I got a photo of, was decorated by abstract cheese slices. Very cheerful and very Wisconsin indeed.

1) Moonrise over Southeastern Minnesota. 2) Wisconsin Dells near the highway exit. 3) State Street, Madison Wisconsin. 4) Nepalese Food as Art. 5) Interior of Nepalese restaurant. 6) Cow Sculpture and streetscape in Madison.

From Minneapolis to Small Town, Minnesota

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Japanese FoodWell, good times do end and we had to leave Minneapolis. The gallery opening ended at 9 and we found our way to a good Japanese restaurant just before they closed at 10pm. The food was good and the waitstaff pleasant, even at that late hour. Of course, I took their business card but don’t know where it is now that I’m writing, but it was only a mile or two from the gallery.

We made our way out of town and found a hotel in a more rural area, just outside of “the cities.” We were tired!!!

FamilySunday we got up a bit early and found our way to Janesville, MN, population 2,100. It was a whirlwind… relatives I had not seen in years and years. It was the 50th anniversary of my father’s brother and his wife, but Mom and Dad grew up in the same town (Hanska, MN, population around 430) and so a handful of my Mom’s cousins and spouses came as well.

Wedding PhotoThere are eight of my cousins on that side of the family, and seven of us made it for at least a short while (my brother could not come). Two live in Florida now, one in Georgia, three in Minnesota and two of us are in Michigan. It was great to see everyone if only for a little chat.

Mom and cousinsMy uncle is a very social man (we both take after his mother, my Gramma Ruthie), so it seemed the whole town of Janesville and half the state of Minnesota was there. There were folks in the house, the garage, front and back yards. There were two bands… first The Fendermen from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul), a great danceable band… and then Brian and I as The Fabulous Heftones for more mellow entertainment.

FamilyThere was much food, as well. Since I was not raised in Minnesota, what I notice is a type of treat they call “bars.” Sometimes it’s like cookies cut into squares, sometimes it’s almost candy bars, and at least for this event it was cakes baked in jelly roll pans, about half the height of a regular cake, with frosting, which you then eat with your fingers. In the church cookbook from the town my mom was raised, there is a whole section of the book devoted only to “bars.” You go to someone’s home and they typically will ask if you want some bars. If you asked that in Lansing, you would get a puzzled look.

The FendermenIt’s funny, because when my Aunt Harriet arrived, she announced “I’m the bar lady.” She was carrying a stack of cake trays full of baked goods and had even more in the car. If you were not from Minnesota, you might interpret that statement differently! I found it amusing, but the Minnesotans didn’t notice at all.

The Fabulous HeftonesIn all fairness, Harriet is the hostess type and always is helping in the kitchen and baking, baking, baking. She really contributed a lot to the spread on the main food table. It was very good for this event that she’s so into baking bars!

LynnH holding cousin as a childA big treat at the party was seeing a lot of family photos. They had collages of photos up on the walls, and photo albums on tables, framed photos on more tables. Brian took charge of my camera for a while and took photos of the photos so we can keep them for posterity, maybe add them to the CD we made for the family which holds Grandpa’s photograph album.

Plate of BarsPhotos: 1) Beautiful presentation of Japanese food in Minneapolis, 2) My Uncle OT, Aunt Ann and most of their family (I love the grin on my Uncle’s face here), 3) My Uncle and Aunt on their wedding day, 4) My mother (in pink) and her cousins, 5) My cousin Dawn, me, and Mom, 6) The Fendermen in concert on the patio, 7) The Fabulous Heftones in concert in lovely back yard, 8) Photo of me holding my cousin, Kim… see how blonde I was back then? 9) Plate full of bars, no doubt most of them baked by my Aunt Harriet.

Threads In Space Showtime

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

Susan Hensel Gallery(Please forgive the delay in this post, I’m a week behind for the first time since I started this blog in 2002. I’m back-dating it though I’m writing it a week later than the date, to keep my posts in chronological order.

Saturday night. Showtime. The Susan Hensel Gallery opened the Threads in Space show. Susan and I had been anticipating this day for nearly a year. It was very exciting.

Threads in SpaceIt was essentially a show to exhibit fiberart that was not practical, not wearable, was art for art’s sake. There was knitted work, crochet, handspinning, weaving, paper, bookmaking, an assemblage with found objects including a lot of yarn glued on for texture, a piece that reminded me of my days in mail art with what looked like letters and envelopes but with the “writing” sewn on in a cryptic non-language.

There was a video about knitting as art. There was a tent made of ripped fabric pieces out in the garden. There was also a performance art piece that involved sewing.

Threads in SpaceIt was/is a strong show. It made me think. Some pieces beckoned from across the room, some invited intimate examination from inches away. All inspired.

Somehow my piece got finished and hung with time to spare. We changed into art-show-opening clothes (it was extremely hot and sunny so we wore African clothing) and we waited for the crowd. And they came.

Threads in Space with Self PortraitAt some point during preparations, I told Sue that Brian and I had our instruments in the car and we would be delighted to play background music if she would like. She was delighted. So we played three different sets with talking time allowed between them… first indoors, then in the garden and on the sidewalk outside the gallery (before the performance art piece began) then again inside just before closing time.

I especially enjoyed meeting the other artists. One woman, Karen Searle, knits on large needles with wire, and makes sculptural pieces you can see through. She did a wonderful dress and then shoes that dangled below.

Threads in SpaceAnother woman, Carla Mantel, did a piece including unfinished socks she’d started and stalled for some reason. It also included a sort of spiral that looked like a striped scarf, using remaining yarns from projects she had finished over the years. It hung from the ceiling and the spiral spun around and around. I really enjoyed talking with Carla, we have much in common. It’s too bad she’s in Minnesota and I’m here in Michigan or we’d be friends for sure.

Gail Wagner crochets highly colorful sculptures that hang from the wall in a picture frame, but do not behave themselves in the rectangular space, growing and drooping at times into the room closer to the viewer. I loved these pieces! They sort of act like deep sea creatures. Wonderful.

Threads in SpaceRosie Casey did a woven piece where she dyed yarn in an ikat technique, where she had several different shapes of buffalo, with stars on their sides. Some of the buffalo had printed stars on top of the dyed-in stars, and in front of the full floor-to-ceiling weaving on the floor was a pile of what looked like buffalo horns perhaps. She was not at the show so I could not ask her about the piece, but clearly she put in a huge amount of time, thought and work into that piece.

Sue Hensel’s piece was a huge, lumpy-bumpy ball of yarn she spun herself, about waist high. On top of the ball was a book she made with a poem she wrote (about hair and how it does not behave at times) inside.

Threads in SpaceThe piece outside in the garden was intriguing. It was tall enough for adults but reminded me of the forts we would make as children with blankets over a folding table. Much prettier, of course, but that was the idea. It must have been about the size of one of those tents people would change clothes in at the beach during the late 1800s-early 1900s. However, at times I’d see three sets of feet showing from folks inside. For some reason I never went inside. Hmmm, surely that means something deep but I don’t know what!

The performance piece was Laura Lewis’ brainchild. She went out into the garden where we all could see her, having changed from her party dress into a pair of jeans and standard shirt. The jeans had a hole in the knee and she started sewing the knee together but soon started sewing her pant legs together, and then kneeled and sewed the thigh of the jeans to the calf of the jeans on both sides, then worked up to sew her arms as well until she could not move much.

Threads in SpaceIt took a good long time even with loose stitches, and for one my feet hurt just looking at her perched on the balls of her feet for so long. (Later she said that she was not in any discomfort through the process.) In the end she freed herself from the bonds of the sewing thread. It caused a lot of talk afterward… one woman felt compelled to help her sew parts on her back where she could not have reached herself. I felt sad that she was restraining herself, it sort of pushed my buttons from a previous part of my life when I really did tie myself down in many ways. It was quite thought-provoking, as performance art almost always is.

We had such a wonderful time! I know I’m leaving people out… the cool guy who assembled a piece starting with a wood headboard and a ceramic head he found… the woman who did some felt pieces based on a trip she took to Iceland… so much to say but it was all good, really good.

Threads in SpaceThanks to Susan Hensel for encouraging me to push myself into true artist territory. You know, for years I was sure I was not an artist because I don’t draw. I sewed as my artful outlet for many, many years. Then I did polymer clay for 10 years and nothing else. I called myself “a one-song canary.” I had images of several pieces I made into a book, while I was focused on polymer.

Then I got bored of that and did mailart and soft-block printmaking (sometimes called eraser carving). I got in another book with a self portrait I did in printmaking. I will have to post a photo of that print here sometime… someone remind me in a week, and I’ll do that. (Added much later… here is the same self-portrait block, printed on a sheet of polymer clay rather than on paper.)

Threads in SpaceThen I got bored again and started working with wool, first feltmaking and then knitting. And I can’t imagine ever getting bored again!!! But Sue has been with me since my polymer clay days. She encouraged me to go to my first feltmaking workshop where I remembered my love of wool, and that lead me quickly to socknitting.

During every step of the way Sue has encouraged me. When I have doubts, I can call her and she understands. When I’m bogged down, she pulls me out. And when I’m too busy she understands and does not feel ignored. She’s really a perfect friend. Thanks a million, Sue!!!

Photos: 1)Exterior of Susan Hensel Gallery with me in African dress talking to Mike Elko and his wife whose business card I’ve lost in the shuffle. 2) Visitors viewing the show just inside the front door to the right. 3) Show inside door on left side. 4) Straight ahead as you opened the front door, with view into second room. Notice my self-portrait is in back on the left. 5) Carla Mantel showing a child visitor how she spins yarn with a drop spindle. She also described to the child how she made the knitting needles used in the scupture.

6) Another view of child in front of Carla’s sculpture which included unfinished socks. 7) Performance Artist Laura Lewis between Karen Searle’s wire knit dress and Susan Hensel’s ball of handspun yarn with book/poem on top. 8 ) Garden beside gallery, where tent and performance art took place. 9) Folks near tent in back of garden. 10) Performance, early in procedure, starting to sew legs of jeans together.

Recipe: Granola Bars sans Allergies

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

(OK, I’m not at all done with my travelogue but I haven’t had time to process all the photos and write the text yet… here is a post I wrote earlier, it has been waiting for its own day in the sun. You may need to wait to actually bake these if your weather is as hot as ours right now! Travelogue to be continued soon…)


Granola BarsHi, friends. Finally I have experimented enough to bring you two granola bar recipes that I really like. The second version you can make with ingredients in your kitchen even if you do not go to health food stores. The first I can eat, even with a list of allergies longer than a phone book… it’s more adventurous as far as ingredients, but perhaps a bit more tasty.They both hold together well and they do not feel in any way as if they are compromises. However, what I love is that you can make the first version without wheat, egg, soy, potato, yeast, corn, dairy, or nuts. (It is not a recipe for celiac patients, who do not typically tolerate oats well.)

Granola Bars Sans Allergies: Lynn’s Version for Herself

Egg Substitute:
1 Rounded Tbsp of Flax Seed Meal (or grind flax seeds in food proc.)
scant 1/3 c Boiling Water

Dry Ingredients
2-1/2 c Rolled Oats (if you don’t tolerate gluten, be sure to get labeled “gluten free” oats)
1/4 c Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 c Flax Seeds (I like golden if you can get them)
1/4 c Buckwheat Flour
1/4 c Rice Flour (white or brown)
1/2 c Oat Flour (can grind rolled oats in food processor if you can not find in stores)
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1/4 t Ground Allspice (optional)
1/4 t Ground Ginger (optional)
1/4 t Ground Cloves (optional)
1/4 t Salt
Optional: 2 Tbsp Soy Protein Powder if not allergic (adds protein, not flavor or texture)

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c Sorghum (find at farmer’s market, or sub half and half molasses and honey)
1/2 c “Light” Olive Oil (or sub mild-tasting vegetable oil if not allergic)
1 Tbsp Vanilla (use good Mexican Vanilla if you can get it)

Optional: May add 3/4c of dried fruit and/or 1/4-1/2 c nuts if not allergic.

– Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
– Thoroughly grease either 3 bread pans (my preference) or one 9″x13″ large cake pan (I use glass, you may need to adjust temperature up a little if you use metal).
– Prepare Egg Substitute: Boil water. Place flaxseed meal in pyrex measuring cup, and add boiling water until the mixture measures 1/3 c. Whip with fork or small whisk and set aside. (Can sub one egg if not allergic.)
– In a *large* bowl (this stuff can be messy), mix together the dry ingredients.
– Add wet ingredients and egg substitute (or egg). Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon, fork or hands.
– Divide into three bread pans or place in one large cake pan, and press the bar mixture as flat as possible with rubber spatula or oiled hands.
– Bake 25 minutes for bread pans or 35 minutes for large cake pan (should start to look lightly browned on edges). Cool for 5-10 minutes and cut into 12 bars before they are totally cooled to room temperature.
– Enjoy!

Granola Bars for Normal Kitchens

Dry Ingredients
2-1/2 c Rolled Oats (may not be gluten free depending on brand)
1/2 c Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 c Wheat Flour or Spelt Flour (contains gluten)
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1/4 t Ground Allspice (optional)
1/4 t Ground Ginger (optional)
1/4 t Ground Cloves (optional)
1/4 t Salt

Wet Ingredients
1/4 c Molasses
1/4 c Honey
1/2 c Vegetable Oil
1 egg
1 Tbsp Vanilla (use good Mexican Vanilla if you can get it)

Optional: May add 3/4c of dried fruit and/or 1/4-1/2 c nuts.

Follow directions listed for first version, omitting directions for making egg substitute. Enjoy.

Preparing for Threads in Space Show

Monday, July 10th, 2006

Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MNThis starts part 2 of a travelogue, where Brian and I traveled from Michigan to Minnesota and back over 4 days, for the Threads in Space art show at the Susan Hensel Gallery… followed by a family 50th anniversary gathering.

Brian and I got to Sue Hensel’s gallery early Saturday afternoon, desperately in need of some food. We also needed to find (if at all possible) some bamboo or wooden knitting needles, at least 11 inches long, in size 1 US (2.25mm). One more reason to love big cities, my friends. It was a cinch.

Sue directed us to a block not terribly far from her (same street, even), where there was a lovely yarn shop (Depth of Field) and a good number of possible lunch spots. We proceeded immediately.

Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MNDepth of field was not disappointing, I wish I’d had more time to really enjoy it. I got bamboo needles that were exactly what I wanted. Then I took a quick circle through the shop (not wanting to delay Brian much). I was looking for anything I’d not seen before. I guess I live in such a great place for yarn that I didn’t find much in that vein, but I did find 2 balls of Berrocco Foliage to finish a project I’d started with merely a single ball (which turned out to be significantly not enough). Very good.

Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MNI started to pay and realized that above me was a sort of mezzanine floor with sale items. Brian suggested I go peek. I ended up with two skeins of Rio de la Plata yarn in pale pink with an overdye of hot fuschia in a few spots. It will make a nice sample for my new shawl pattern.

Two transactions later, we were on the look out for good food. Someone in the shop said the Thai place directly across the street was really good. We went into an african place but it seemed to have fried food which was not promising with my food allergies so we left. We contemplated a few of the middle eastern places but decided in the end to try the Thai. We were not disappointed. Oh, my! Very tasty.

Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis, MNI had my usual Pad Siew (spelled differently sometimes). It’s thick rice noodles with broccoli and a thick brown/soy sauce that is a bit sweet, then usually eggs and some sort of meat or tofu. It was very nice. Brian got a spicy duck dish which was also very tasty. And it was all presented so beautifully! Asian food is often a work of art when it arrives at the table, and this was more so than most.

I loved this neighborhood. It wasn’t just a business district, clearly people lived there. There was a good mixture of cultures and many women passing by were dressed in African clothing. Sue said that there are a lot of Somali people in that area. I love seeing women float down the street wrapped in beautiful fabrics, whether they be African or Indian or some other culture. When I was in Africa I noticed that nobody seemed afraid of color. School uniforms for either girls or boys might be purple, turquoise, mauve-pink, you name it. And the fabrics!

If I had not been on a deadline, I would have gone looking for African clothing to buy and wear. As a matter of fact, I was wearing my Senegalese dress at the time… perfect summer clothing. It doesn’t cling, allows the breezes to cool the body while creating shade. Perfect.

To be continued…

Photos: 1) My little blue New Beetle in front of “Depth of Field” yarn shop on Cedar Ave. 2&3) Women in African dress on the same block. 4) Our lunch, a work of art.

Please do not sit on the chicken!

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Minnesota TripWell, we did a weekend trip, and it was a blast. Here’s a bit of a travelogue for you.

Day 1 was Friday. We left early afternoon from Lansing, despite Brian’s best attempts to get me organized earlier. This put us in Chicago at 5:01pm their time. Yup. Rush hour.

Minnesota TripNot only that, but Chicago is tearing up huge parts of the main artery from the skyway (a toll road south from Indiana to Illinois) to downtown (the loop) and perhaps beyond. We decided as soon as we got stuck in traffic, that we would just get off the highway and head toward the waterfront. Lakeshore Drive is a pleasant view and if you must be slow in traffic, Lakeshore Drive would be a lovely place for that to happen.

So we got off the highway just south of the Museum of Science and Industry, made our way through some neighborhoods and got to Lakeshore. It was really easy going until we hit the spot where the crowd could take an exit called “Lakeshore Drive.” Then it slowed down (this is just south of McCormick Place and Soldier Field stadium).

Minnesota TripBut by then I was in love again, in love with Chicago and its magnificent skyline, its gentle energy, its architecture and friendly spaces for cityfolk. They have beaches and parks up and down the waterfront for miles and miles, the park system there is really fabulous.

So we would stop and go, and when we were at red lights we would take photographs. It made me happy. I don’t mind traffic at all when it’s like this. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before how much I love big cities, right?)

My favorite place in the midwest is Devon Avenue, the section where you find Indian and Pakistani groceries, restaurants, and apparel stores. There are multiple sari houses for beautiful clothes and fabrics, and jewelry stores where the gold is that incredible yellow color we don’t typically see in the USA. And the food! Oh, the food.

Minnesota TripI’ve written here more than once about eating at Udupi Palace, a few times when Sara (my goddaughter) and I took our trip to Chicago and at least once when visiting my friend Iris who lives in Chicago. We went back there for dinner on Friday. After all, by the time we got there it was still rush hour. Might as well eat some of your favorite food ever, while waiting for the traffic to die down!

We headed out of town toward Minneapolis and settled somewhere in Wisconsin for the night. Unfortunately, we drove in the dark most of the time in Wisconsin so we missed a lot of the beautiful scenery. It’s truly a beautiful place with rolling green hills. (We did get to see them on the way back home.)

Minnesota TripThe next morning we found our way to a diner near the exit. It was a style that was old fashioned but I’m betting it’s a modern structure in an old style. I’m thinking it was “Moe’s Almost-Famous Diner” if I remember right.

We had our honeymoon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin, and halfway through we wished we’d photo-documented all the large fiberglass animals that are roadside, mostly to attract business traffic. I remember on that trip there was a huge mouse by a cheese store in Wisconsin, and lots of large deer, sometimes as yard ornaments. Well, this diner had a steer on the sign nearest the highway, and a huge chicken, taller than me, out front. I got a photo of them both in one shot… and while I went by the chicken I noticed a sign on its back: “Please do not sit on the chicken.” I bet there are not too many signs saying that!

Minnesota TripWe made good time on the road Saturday morning and then again found ourselves with construction traffic. We got off the highway and headed through downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota (twin city to Minneapolis).

I had not been in downtown before, though I have a cousin we visited in a St. Paul neighborhood on our honeymoon almost ten years ago. It was a quite lovely downtown, which reminded me a little bit of the photos I just showed you I took in Indianapolis. They had wonderful flower beds everywhere, and people actually downtown. (Lansing does not have much activity downtown on a Saturday afternoon except at/near the ball park).

Minnesota TripMore to be continued later… remember, these photos were taken out windows of cars by Brian and I, so they aren’t horizontal but they are just as we took them.

Photos: 1) Me driving my blue bug, with another blue bug next to me… about 5:20pm Chicago rush hour traffic, with the most beautiful skyline I know in the background. 2) Devon Avenue, my favorite spot in Chicago, the Midwest, any city. Just one corner, but there are friends chatting on a bench as you see on almost every corner. It’s a bustling place, very alive. 3) Saturday morning’s diner, inside, with Brian center stage. 4) View of diner with fiberglass chicken in foreground and fiberglass steer up in the sky, top right, with signs. 5) Street scene in downtown St. Paul, noon or not long after that on a Saturday. 6) Flowers and green area with benches underneath and lots of folks gathered there, also downtown St. Paul. 7) Worn doors on street which was our entryway back to the highway, St. Paul. Not shiny but beautiful in their own way.

A Self-Portrait, an Art Show Opening

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

(Note: To read all 6 entries about my Self Portrait and the Threads in Space show, click here.)

I did it. Not only did I actually finish the knitting, I embroidered for several hours (duplicate stitch, it looks just like knit stitches but I did it in very fine laceweight yarn on top of the base sockweight yarns to slightly change color in a few areas).

LynnH/Lynn Hershberger Self Portrait in yarnI blocked it in the hotel room on Friday night. Then when I got to Sue’s, we steamed the heck out of it with her Scuncii steamer and I went looking for the closest yarn shop that had size 1 knitting needles. I decided I really wanted to hang the piece with a straight knitting needle at top and another at bottom, sort of as if it were unfinished. Because it is about me, and I am certainly unfinished myself.

We found our way to Depth of Field yarn shop (more on the Minneapolis adventure later) and they had size 1 (2.25mm?) bamboo needles (about 11″ long), perfect! We proceeded back to Sue’s shop, where the piece was mostly dry and after inserting the two needles at top and bottom of the piece, we hung the thing.

It worked, my friends. It really worked. I’m sort of in shock after all that rollercoaster emotional stuff I felt while I was “attempting” a self portrait. Well, I am here to tell you it’s not an attempt. It looks like me.

LynnH/Lynn Hershberger and Susan HenselIn 10,374 stitches. Officially using 11 or so yarn colors, but then I blended different yarns together in different ways and so who knows how many “virtual” colors actually ended up in the piece? I’m not sure I want to know how many color changes I made in one 91-stitch row, either. It was a lot of work. But as often is the case, now that it’s over I can tell you the effort was worth it.

Whew. I need a vacation! Oh, yeah. I’m sort of on one. Or that is to say I’m out of state seeing people I really like.

Photos: 1) My self portrait in yarn… wool and alpaca and wool blend yarns, with bamboo needles. Yes, the ends are dangling. The back looks like a rug. I’m smooth on the outside and frayed inside at times, and so this felt like Self Portrait: good day (front) and bad day (back). 2) Me at left, and my beloved artist friend Sue Hensel. Who pushes me harder than anyone else I know but without trying. Some of my biggest projects have been in concert with her creative and networking energies. Sue, you are the best!

The Pursuit of Absurd Goals

Friday, July 7th, 2006

I have been beating around the bush about my big project until now. Actually, I’m doing two projects, both in anticipation of a trip to Minnesota. We leave Friday. I guess I might as well talk about it now.

I don’t know how many other artists are like me, but I tend to try to do things that are either a little or a great deal out of reach. I sometimes know they are absurd goals and I figure I’ll try anyway, and sometimes I don’t realize the project really is… until I’m far enough into it that it would be a shame to quit.

A First Too-Big Project
The first project I’ve been working on is not absurdly out of the question, but since I’m sort of a sequential-deadline girl, I didn’t start on it until it was a sprint to the finish. (For some reason I can do this repeatedly without regretting it enough to stop such nonsense.) My beloved, on the other hand, both has the ability to see the full scope of a project and a way of starting things when other things are not yet wrapped up. So of course he gets dizzy watching me.

And this time he actually knew more about the first project than I did, and he ended up doing a good deal of the work because it was just faster for him to do it than to explain it to me.

He has done a lot of genealogy work in his own family, especially with going to folks’ homes and photographing the family picture albums. So our family had a special picture album everyone wanted to see, and we live from Minnesota to Michigan to Georgia, Florida, Alabama. So how could we share? Take digital photos of all the pages (the photos are glued in) and make a “web” page on a CD that people can run on their own computers. Even if they are not connected to the Internet. Cool, huh?

So Brian already knew he had a computer program that takes a folder full of images and makes a website from it. Not a perfect program, but one which did enough of the programming work that we could do something with over 900 images and not go nuts. (He has Linux, not Windows or Mac, so the program is not commonly used.)

Of course we had to take the photos and then either crop or rotate or enhance many of them before they were ready to go. Then we needed to make captions for at least some of the photos we knew information about.

Brian and I both worked on taking photos, he did most of the taking and the editing of the photos. I did captions, he ran the program to make the web page. I made covers and label/stickers for the CDs, printed them, cut them out and assembled the covers. We shared duties of burning the CDs. It was a team effort, which worked pretty darned well in the end.

We tried to put the photos on a photo website, too. With over 900 photos, we really were stretching the possibilities. We had to give up that idea for the moment.

But Brian figured out how to make a CD an auto-starting one (doesn’t require an icon on most Windows computers), and I figured out how to make a picture for an icon so that if someone looks at this CD in “My Computer” they will see a tiny sweet face of my Grandma Ruthie in the 1920s. Trust me, she was a dynamo but she looked sweet while she packed that power. An amazing woman. And lucky me, I take after her personality more than anyone. Her sons also took after her in great part. We’re enthusiastic and loud and socal, always on the go. And at least speaking for myself, I can’t be anything else if I try.

A Second Too-Big Project
But what is my other project? Um… Susan Hensel, my artist friend who moved to Minneapolis, is having an art exhibit entitled “Threads in Space.” It opens Saturday. It’s all about using knitting and other needlework to make things not expected of the realm of fiberarts/needlework. I called her enough times about cool non-wearable knitted things, that she said, “OK, let’s do a show!” In the end, she did the show almost totally without me, but I will have one piece in it. And I sort of started the idea in the first place, or at least shared the idea early on.

My piece? Oh… now this is where you find out how disconnected from reality I can be. I’m knitting a self-portrait from a photograph. Well, Brian took the photo and I scanned it in, spent hours and days and weeks manipulating it and saving it in a zillion ways, and then chose one graph of many to knit from. Then I had to go find as many variations of cream/tan/taupe/brown as I could, which could be knitted together (mostly sockyarns, and a few lace yarns used in three or four strands held together). Changing yarns sometimes every stitch for a dozen or so stitches in a row.

It’s 91 stitches wide, and 114 rows high. That’s 10,374 stitches. I worked on the computer part of it in 2005. I bought the yarns in June. And I started knitting after the CD release party, not two weeks ago.

The bad news is that I think for me every big project has a day at least, where I hate it. I want to give up, throw it away, say I never wanted to really do that. This is why I did not say much about it here. I needed to save my energy to get through the blue days. And they did come.

Last week when I got sick, I would work and space/doze and make mistakes, then the slow work had to be taken out. It took way too long to make progress, for someone like me who really does feel colorwork is not generally as difficult as lace or knit/purl patterns. But I sort of forgot that this project was essentially intarsia. Again, no big deal except that means that half the stitches are purls. And I just am not as fast at purling (especially with 20 color changes in one row) as I am at knitting. So that slowed me down.

Well, yesterday I took it to Altu’s restaurant. And of course I’m working up close on beige stuff. It looked to me a bit like the shroud of Turin but not holy at all. But Altu exclaimed “I see it, that’s my Lynnie!”

Susan Hensel's pieceI hadn’t looked at it from enough of a distance. It does in fact look like me. It’s spooky, actually, how as you step back all of a sudden the eye can see what I have been doing on faith, one stitch at a time.

I do have two areas where the color I used is the wrong saturation. I will spend some time in the car (we leave Friday morning on our Minnesota trip) doing embroidery, duplicate stitch with lace yarn to sort of damp out the intensity of the somewhat bright pinkish-brown. I also intend to intensify/darken a shadow in my hair. But generally, this thing is working. And I have worked my way through the “I hate it, why did I start this?” phase of the project. Which, by the way, happens to me with dance concerts and new CD releases as well. In the end I’m glad. And thank goodness while I was working on this last week, I kept going because I knew that I could not have a chance to work through that phase if I didn’t keep proceeding to the goal.

I will do photos of the installation when I get to Sue’s gallery on Saturday. Well, I’ll take photos anyway. I don’t know when I’ll have internet access on the trip.

OK, time to sleep. It’s a long haul to Minnesota from here.

Photos: 1)My grandma Ruthie. Grandpa Oscar wrote below this one in the book: “My Ruthie” (makes me choke up just thinking of it). 2) Susan Hensel’s entry in Threads in Space. She learned to spin for this show… and it’s no surprise to me that it includes words as well as fiber. She’s done book arts and writing for years.

In the Garden: CD Review in “What’s On”

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Wowie. Chris Reitz, who works at Elderly Instruments with Brian, also writes music reviews for the Lansing State Journal’s Thursday “What’s On” section. Today he took up a good part of a page reviewing our In the Garden CD.

What can I say? He did not have to choose our CD at all, yet he did it with much gusto. He says in part (after describing how unusual our early-1900’s music, instruments and presentation are):

Ah, but the Heftones are not a novelty act. They genuinely love this stuff, and it’s that quality that makes them so winning…”

Chris has heard us perform live, he knows our stuff. He knows songs we sing on stage that we have never recorded. And he sure did make us sound good today, surely to some folks who have not heard of us before.

He also mentions that our next public local performance will be Thursday, July 20. We will be opening for Ukulele great Travis Harrelson at the Creole Gallery, show time 7:30pm, tickets $14 (call 487-9549 for reservations).

Thanks a bunch, Chris!

Parade Photos

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Habibi Dancers of Lansing MichiganWell, here you have it, a few photos of the Habibi Dancers at the Fourth of July (Independence Day) Parade in Lansing, Michigan, USA. Actually, photos before the parade started, when we were relatively rested and refreshed. It was impossible to take photos while dancing, of course, so there is no photo of the actual parade. I’m sure you understand.

First is a photo of the ten dancers who participated (it’s bigger than my usual photos so that the dancers can download a photo for themselves). We also had several men/partners involved but only one of them dressed the part and walked the parade… the others did tech duty driving the truck and taking photos, etc. Thanks to those who helped, visible ot not.

Habibi Dancers of Lansing MichiganSecond you see a photo of Brandi showing how well she can balance a cane on her head even when the wind is blowing. Excellent job!

Next is Ari warming up with her flame fan. How pretty is that? She is so talented with this prop, and I promise you it’s a rough one to master.

Habibi Dancers of Lansing MichiganLast is Ari and Molly posing as we dance divas love to do. They look great together.

By the way, notice the background shots. Lansing is a very green city, very liveable. The cross street you see behind us is Capitol Avenue, the very street where the State Capitol building is. We are all of 3 or 4 blocks from that building, if you just went to that street and turned right for a while.

Habibi Dancers of Lansing MichiganYet right behind us you see a residential area with grass and trees. And yes, some office buildings as well. But this town sure looks beautiful and green and liveable, on a sunny summer day in July!

If you are curious about Lansing at all, Wikipedia has a great entry on Lansing, Michigan. For example, I learned there that our city has a population just over 119,000 as of year 2000 and it is the only state capital city that extends into three counties. Around here “Tri-County Area” has significant meaning.

Recipe: Blackeyed Pea Salad

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Blackeye SaladAs much as I think of my weblog as a primarily-knitting adventure, I do try to mix it up, and include as many creative artforms as I can. My theme is “Art as an everyday attitude” and this can include music, dance, knitting, performing arts such as theatre, poetry (which can be both writing/word arts and performance), gardening, and food. (And more, of course… don’t limit art.)

I think I talk about food less than most of my other subjects. But let me tell you, I get the most response out of my recipe entries than anything else.

So… yes, I could write about we dancers at the Fourth of July parade. (I did go, it was my first venture out of the house for more than an hour since Saturday… got totally wiped out from the heat after being wiped out by that virus for several days, but had a great time. It was especially great to see my mom there waving to us from the sidelines!) I will share photos of this at another time.

Or I could tell you about the two wonderful music parties we attended on the Tuesday holiday. And they were truly wonderful, with totally different music and different friends, all great musicians. I forgot my camera during the party phase of the day, which is a crying shame since there were some very photogenic moments.

But I think I know what you want more than that. You’d like a recipe. Yes, Teri, I do have a granola bar recipe in the works and it’s looking really good… but today I’ll give you the Blackeyed Pea Salad that I took to the pot luck dinner at the first party. It’s really tasty, a lot like a pasta/macaroni type salad but with mild-tasting, smooth-textured canned blackeyed peas.

If you have not tried blackeyes yet, they are much nicer than many of the beans that I grew up with. You can not know how good they might be unless you try, right? And let me tell you, canned beans are instant food… no cooking, no soaking, no preparation. Gotta love that!

Friends who measure in metric… I always include metric in my patterns and when I talk temperature here… please forgive me not translating my recipes. In the case of this recipe, imagine a teacup as a cup and teaspoon and soup spoon as tsp and Tbsp respectively. Since this is a sort of make-it-as-you-go recipe, estimating will still create you a great product without exact translation.

LynnH’s Blackeyed Pea 4th of July Salad

Dressing Ingredients
2 Tbsp Orange Juice (sub half/half Lime or Lemon Juice & water if necessary)
1/4 c Good Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
(if you really don’t like this flavor, try walnut oil)
1/8 tsp Coarsely-Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Celery Seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp Dry Dill Weed (or a sprig of fresh dill if you have it)

Salad Ingredients
2 cans Vegetarian Blackeyed Peas, Chilled
(Bush’s brand is the best, in my opinion, they can from fresh & the texture is smooth)
1 can Small Black California Olives, pitted, chilled
1-1/4c (or more) Chopped Crunchy Vegetables (more color is better)
(I used carrots and orange bell peppers today, but try celery or kohlrabi or anything fresh and local that looks good at the market.)

Optional Garnish
Small Leaf Lettuce or Spinach Leaves
Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

Instructions
Combine orange juice with seasonings. Blend together with fork or small whisk. Set aside to reconstitute spices while assembling salad.

Rinse blackeyed peas in cold water, allow to drain. Drain olives. Chop vegetables. Place peas and vegetables in 2-1/2 qt serving bowl (it’s more fun if you use a colorful or retro bowl, but that’s totally optional). Crush olives with your fingers and place in the same bowl.

Add oil to juice/seasoning combination, and blend together with fork or whisk. Pour over bean/veggie/olive combination, and toss until fully coated.

If you wish, embellish/garnish the bowl with small greens, cherry tomatoes, or anything else edible and colorful that sounds beautiful to you.

If you started with chilled cans of beans and olives, you can dig in and eat right away. If not, chill for an hour or more before garnishing the bowl and taking it to the gathering of your choice.

Now, my friends… you must know if you read here much, that I’m a folk-knitter and a folk-cook. In other words, I change things, I do them differently each time, I make things up as I go. So please… if you don’t like black olives, leave them out or substitute more veggies instead. If you like spicy, double the black pepper or add jalapeño juice. If you love another certain seasoning in your salads, consider trying that. Add pine nuts, perhaps, or sun-dried tomatoes, or something else I could never imagine. Take the idea and run with it. I never make it the same way twice, so why should you?

But I promise, I really did measure and make it exactly this way today. I know this version is lovely, if you don’t feel like being adventurous.

Enjoy!

Brian’s on UkeCast Today!

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Brian Hefferan and his UkuleleThis post is for the ukulele-playing friends I have out there reading this blog. (Hi, Hobbit!)

Brian came home today to tell me that he was listening to UkeCast and he was on the show! How cool is that? Howling Hobbit is mentioned in the podcast, too!

I asked him to send me a link for you all. Here are three (well, four if you count two links to essentially the same thing as two):

UkeCast Episode 18 (This is the one Brian is on, guest host is Nipper.) I had to go to that page and wait a minute or so while the “play” bar showed up at the very bottm of the large center photograph. I then clicked the little triangle “play” button and it worked fine. (Clicking the words “Episode Eighteen” gave me an error message.)

If you have trouble with getting there my way, maybe you can get there with the Enhanced Podcast Episode 18). This seems to need a different version of QuickTime than my computer has, though.

Ukecast

Ukeland

It’s a delight to have this sort of surprise. Remember, you can listen to a podcast like this from your computer. You don’t have to have an Ipod or similar portable gizmo. Just click the link and for most computers, the right player will just start up automatically and you’ll be listening in no time. (Assuming your connection is cooperative, that is.)