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Archive for October, 2006

Brian is the Best

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

You have heard me tell of my roommate/husband Brian, before. We have been married a few weeks more than 10 years. He just keeps getting better. Me, I keep getting more eccentric and forgetful (at age 47, too young for excuses), but he somehow loves me consistently, in spite of my warts.

Now, you’ve also heard me tell about how much I dislike cooking. Yet fate has determined that most of the food I eat must be made in my kitchen, because of all the zillion ingredients commonly found in this culture’s food that make me feel crummy. When I can control the ingredients, I feel great. It makes sense to do just that.

So I’m stuck in the kitchen a lot these days. I’m getting more used to the routine but I’ll never like touching, eating or even thinking about meat. Ugh. The crock pot is my friend!!! I can cook four turkey breasts or two cornish game hens or a dozen chicken drumsticks all at once, and then not have to cook more meat for several days. (Yes, I’d prefer to be a vegetarian but if you can’t eat cheese/dairy, eggs, nuts or tofu, it’s pretty difficult to get enough protein to thrive without meat. Pout.)

So late last week Brian and I hit a bunch of different markets/grocery stores and collected as many root vegetables as possible. I was craving parsnips for some reason, wanted some in a soup. (Kathy inspired me a while ago and I finally was ready to take action on that idea.) I’ve only eaten parsnips a few times in my life but they just sounded right. So I tried 3 places with no luck, and Brian went to Goodrich Shop Rite and brought home a whole lot of parsnips. Yeah!

Sunday I did my rounds and picked up/dropped off things at Threadbear and Little Red Schoolhouse on the west side of Lansing. While I was off and running, Brian not only fixed our faucet (it would leak everywhere when we ran the water, didn’t drip at all when shut off)… but he chopped so many vegetables that there was no more room on the counter.

I joined him when I got home. We ended up making TWO soups. One (in a pressure cooker) used some of the turkey breast I cooked earlier that week, and ginger/garlic and cabbage, sweet red bell pepper, turnip, and kohlrabi (one of my favorite vegetables of all time). The other was parsnips, sweet potatoes, sauteed onions, a touch of fresh organic spinach, and fava beans (an excellent meaty bean often used for a breakfast dip in Egypt, but is great in tomato sauce on pasta and even in salads).

I left that soup in the crockpot overnight and it is SO good!!! It’s good cold, it’s good hot, it’s hard to not eat the whole pot in one serving. Because trust me, when I cook, I make lots of leftovers so I don’t have to cook for a while.

I can’t tell you how great it is to come home and have more than half the prep for dinner already done. I guess my sweetie doesn’t mind doing it (he has a good attitude about everything, really) but this is the first year he has done much in the kitchen. I totally am loving the results.

I’m feeling happy and loved. And full!!!

Letting Go Again

Monday, October 30th, 2006

frogger.jpgI knit this piece in Africa, nearly two years ago. It was intended to be the bottom of a felted backpack that I had wanted to knit *before* I left, but it took all I had to just get ready for a trip I couldn’t plan. (How do you plan for something you can’t imagine?)

I tried to knit it while I was there. It’s from a pattern. I can’t knit from a pattern when I’m with other people, especially if they are bringing me into their home as family and talking to me in a language they don’t use very much (I understood them well, but I know it was work for them to talk with me for very long).

They did a lot of stretching to make me comfortable and I wanted to pay attention to them and everything around me. When I did knit in Africa, I knit socks. I can knit socks without looking at my hands, for the most part. I do have to peek when I do a heel or toe but most of it is just worry-bead knitting, repetitive motion for comfort. It helps me sit still, and I did a lot of waiting when I was on that trip.

addisstreetscene.jpgSo this piece was relegated to after everyone else went to bed. I spent a lot of that time writing in a journal, and as you know I tend to write a lot. I did knit but the bottom of the bag was all I accomplished.

I had intended it to be a neutral bag while on the trip. It is lighter in real life than it looks on my screen… that cream/light taupe marl that is sometimes called “Ragg Wool” color. I intended to dye it somehow when I got home. I’m clearly not going to do either, now. So Sunday I ripped it out.

I now have a ball of yarn weighing something like 85gm of yarn. I’m not sure where the rest of the 100gm skein went (or for that matter the other skeins I bought for the project). I am thinking I may use this for a Sassy Summer bag.

But I think this simple act of ripping is a continuation of my “throw away 10 things” day I had a week ago. I threw away more than 10 things, and I’m still looking at stuff around me with a more careful eye.

addiscoke.jpgToday I found the lid to a saucepan I have not owned since I moved to Brian’s house 10 years ago. Dang. Every day a new discovery. Maybe someday we’ll be able to move around here without dealing with all the clutter. I have seen the changes my brother Eric and his wife Diana have done in a relatively few years. It’s a miracle, the change that is really working for them every day now. They don’t buy if they don’t know where it will go before they make the purchase. I’m not there (Brian thinks that way but I never have). I can get there, one day at a time.

Meanwhile I let go of a fragment of knitting I never loved in the first place. Sassy Bag, here we come.

Photos: Fragment which is now history; two street scenes in Ethiopia. It’s such a blend of past, present and future. I think both were taken in/near Addis Ababa, the Coke stand may have been on the way out of town toward Nazret (Nazareth) which is in the rift valley area. I will never run out of photos of africa to show you here… I took 1400 and I think I’ve ever shown maybe 125 between this blog and a PowerPoint presentation I’ve given a few times.

Fleetwood Diner, Lansing, Michigan, Oct. 29, 2006

Monday, October 30th, 2006

diner1.jpgBrian and I had breakfast on Sunday at the diner down the street. Their first location was in Ann Arbor, about an hour away from us. This building was closed for a while and we’re very happy the Fleetwood folks bought it. It’s thriving… teeming on Sunday mornings.

diner3.jpgWe took a lot of photos when we were there. These struck me as the most interesting. Brian took the pictures of me and of the teacup. I believe I took the rest, with the possible exception of the photo at left (or just above, depending on your monitor settings).

diner2.jpgThe place is very city-like, more than most places in Lansing. It reminds me of places I’ve been in Chicago (but it’s much newer, the building is less than 10 years old). It attracts a great cross-section of Lansing cultural/social groups. You see old and young, affluent and working class, artful folk and business folk. I love that.

diner4.jpgBrian goes to the Fleetwood about once a week. I don’t go there much because of my food allergies… I can eat a salad or order tea, and that’s all I can eat there. However, the waitstaff are always willing to accommodate whatever I want or need, whether it is on the menu or a custom order.

diner5.jpgI’ll let the photos talk for me now. I did not crop anything. I did color-correct and feather the edges, but they are otherwise as taken from my point- and- shoot digital camera.






Sunday, October 29th, 2006

skyoctober282006.jpgIt is “Sun-day” and the sun shines in Lansing. The wind is wild, and though the walk to the Fleetwood Diner from our house is merely 5 blocks, we felt chilled as we approached their building. Good coats are essential on these days, snow or no.

Yesterday the sky was gorgeous around 6pm as we drove to Grosse Pointe (east of Detroit, on the waterfront, a 1.75hr drive from Lansing) to sing for a 75th birthday party. We had a blast at the party, where they sang with every song and danced to several.

I knit in the car to and from the gig. I knit when we got home. The comfort/hug/wrap is halfway done now, not bad since I started knitting on Friday night. It feels really soft and that was my goal. Looks are not as important as feel for this particular item, though I do really love the colors with which I’m working.

It is interesting, though… Today I’ve knit on size 0 needles (socks at the diner) and size 15 circular needles (wrap). Boy, do I knit faster on tiny double-pointed needles! Circs always slow me down, I knit tightly enough that I have to stop and push stitches from the thin cable up onto the fatter needle part on the left, before I can knit for a while… then stop and push, then knit. And just the bulk of the needle slows me down quite a bit. Double points don’t have a thin part so I can just zip along.

The fabric I’m building is worth the clunkiness of the process, though. I enjoy every stitch because of the fibers under my fingers.

Here is a photo of the sky last night. Brian was driving and I took photos out the window on the way southeast.

Knitting Does Heal

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

potterparksidetrees.jpgI’m knitting with the softest, most comforting yarns I can find in my stash. It does my heart good.

Green for life. For growth, and thus hope…

Knitting photos when appropriate. Meanwhile, back to the knitting.

Photo: More from the Potter Park/Grand River series I took on Wednesday.


Friday, October 27th, 2006

Kristi has the saddest news I can think of. I feel kicked in the gut. She’s such a great person, but “I am not in charge,” I can’t make her life different right now. I only wonder if I have any power at all to make her feel better… to at least know she’s loved.

Off to knit. Knitting heals some pain, so that’s what I do have power over at a time like this.

Autumn is winding down.

Friday, October 27th, 2006

potterparkgrandriver12.jpgWednesday on the way home from Foster Center (for a quick break) around dinnertime, I glimpsed a beautiful view of the Grand River near Potter Park. (This is somewhere around a mile from my house, closer to downtown.)

I found a deserted parking lot, pulled in, stopped the car, and potterparkoct25.jpgcrossed Pennsylvania Avenue by foot so that I could take some photos. I took maybe two dozen photos and I promise you, they are all wonderful. I just do not want to bore you with that many facets of the same jewel… so you get two.

This is facing east, standing on the Penn. Ave. bridge half a block from the entrance to Potter Park/Zoo. Can you see that we have lost almost all of the color except yellow around here? The grass is unusually green for this time of year, and in these photos the sky is uncharacteristically blue. It makes a great photograph!

At least the colors make the Fall season more pleasant. Earlier in the season we have a lot of electric orange, because we have a lot of sugar maples which turn to flame early in the season. Right now the only intense color is from “burning bushes” which turn a hot red. They are particularly intense this year, or so it seems.

fallingleaves.jpgThe last photo is from Thursday morning. We got a hard frost for the first time that night. I don’t usually get up that early but here I was outside around 8:30am or so. The first hard frost puts all the “iffy” leaves on the ground in a split second! I stood there and watched the leaves fall on (almost bury) these cars across the street, like it was a blizzard with flakes falling. It was amazing how fast they came down.

I’ve been wearing my longjohns to keep my legs warm, plus legwarmers on top. I tell you, sometimes I just can’t get warm no matter what I do. I wore angora gloves with alpaca/wool wristwarmers out on my errands Thursday. The thickest socks were not quite warm enough.

Eventually my body will get used to heating up more, and I will be more comfortable in late December than I am right now. Until then, I’m layering wool clothing on myself like crazy. Thursday I even wore my super-thick sweater I made for camping at Wheatland, but I wore it indoors and it did not feel too warm at all!

Still thinking of Stephanie’s point…

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Stephanie/Yarn Harlot has been on my mind all day (see previous post). Because of that, I remembered a wonderful and inspiring quotation by Martha Graham, modern dance pioneer.

Ms. Graham was a fierce and determined artist, and she fascinates me. I think I would have been afraid of her in person, perhaps… but those who danced for her knew they were changing history in one lifetime. I’m glad they did it, though it was not an easy life.

Here’s the quote (written to Agnes DeMille, another choreographer and friend, in a letter). These words got me through a lot of doubting moments when I first started calling myself an artist (having been one my whole life but not knowing it). In fact, most recently they helped me through the knitting/planning of my intarsia-knitted self portrait.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium…. It will be lost…. The world will never have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
—Martha Graham

(For the record, I added spacing in the middle of the block of text to make it easier to read.)

I love quotations. Many years ago I put together a website with poetry, quotes and lyrics that meant something to me at that time. If you like quotes also, you might be interested in my “Quotes on Creativity” web page.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says it well. Again.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Stephanie (also known as Yarn Harlot) has an amazing post today. She finished her wedding shawl (after the wedding, unfortunately) and considers how difficult it was. She ponders how difficult it is for us sometimes to admit to others (and maybe ourselves) when we do something extra special.

Her shawl is amazing. She designed it herself, knit every stitch. She had help blocking it, which still took hours. It is really really beautiful.

And there are many photos… up close, and from a distance. Even one with Stephanie, flying in the wind with her creation. Do go read what she has to say.

I Give In

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

The sun is shining, Lansing is truly beautiful today. I really wanted to take photos *outdoors* of my TipToe Sockyarn before the sun went down, but my day is too packed for me to stop now and take photos.

tiptoenumbered.jpgTherefore, I give in. I took a quick photo of a table full of the colorways I dyed, on the way to the Threadbear sale a few Saturdays ago. I’ve done a quick edit to try and adjust it properly, though blue tends to disappear and purple always looks like dark blue. I’ve always said if you got a skein where the colors didn’t look as you liked when it arrived, I’d swap it for something else. (I know that turquoise does not do well on a monitor, it’s caused me trouble buying yarn myself.)

Usually people like my yarn colors even better in person… although it’s good for you to remember that I’m known as ColorJoy for a reason. All the colorways are more intense in person than they appear on my screen.

Here’s a photo of the yarn colorways I have in stock right now. Some I have only one skein, some I have piles of skeins. First come, first served.

They are 440 yards/100gm approximately, and will make a normal ribbed or stockinette sock up to about a man’s medium or bigger. Of course, the more cables/texture, smaller needles, taller cuff, the more yarn you need, but I’ve not seen anyone run out of my sockyarn yet.

The price is $24.99 per skein at this time. I ship priority with free tracking, so getting several skeins means you pay the same $4.05 shipping fee no matter. Three skeins for sure fits in one priority envelope for no extra fee, maybe four would also work but I haven’t tried it.

If you send me an email to Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com saying what you’d like, it’s first come first served. Colorways are (updated 11/3 for sold-out colorways):

1. Girly-Girl. Very hot pink and intense purple, with bits of white.

2. Seaside. Bold turquoise and bold purple, soft blue, and a little white.

3. (Sorry, sold Out) Peachy Flammegarn. Mostly solid with small (one or two stitch) blips of white for depth.

4. Oh, Wow! Hot green, soft yellow, medium but intense turquoise, and creamy white. Maybe my favorite.

5. Spring Sunshine. Pale yellow, pale purple, soft blue and spring green.

6. Sunny Side. Warm yellow with pale peach and blips of creamy white (half-flammegarn).

7. Butterfly. Mostly soft yellow with tiny blips of blue green and tinier white blips.

8. This color is sold out.

9. (Sorry, sold out) Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues. Turquoise, purple, white. Bold!

10. (Woohoo, found one more skein…) Lilac Flammegarn. Blips of white. Purple with lots of blue in it. Old Scandinavian dye style, modern color.

Thanks for your continuing support.

A Whirlwind

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Wow, I sure stayed busy on Tuesday! I threw away several clothing items including some commercially-produced wool socks which had holes in them. They don’t even fit me that well, but at one time those were my only wool sox and I’d darn them. Now I realize I have many of my own handknits which are more worthy of the time it takes to darn. Off they went into the trash!

I put aside a few items to take to charity, and I recycled a bunch of things that had been waiting for me to have the energy to recycle them. Our recycle bin was full today on the curb, even though this family of 2 already put the bin out last week as well (it usually takes at least a month to fill the bin). In the last *two* days I ran three dishwasher loads (we have a half-sized dishwasher, usually perfect for this size household) and about eight loads of laundry.

One thing I made a priority was to eliminate as much dust as I could from the bedroom. This time of year when we have to close the windows and deal with furnace air from the basement (while outdoor air has mildewing leaves making it thick), is the hardest time of year for my breathing allergies. Brian has been sneezing lately, too (dust bothers him but not much else). So I stripped the bed down to the mattress, and I washed the comforter, the sheets/pillowcases, and the mattress pad. I dusted the floor (thank goodness we have a wood floor up there, it’s so much easier to clean well).

There is still much to de-clutter in the bedroom, but I’m thinking I gave our bodies a little rest last night as we slept. Or that is the thought that kept me going when I was working up there yesterday.

I also did some cooking. I made four boneless turkey breasts in the crockpot with some sliced carrots and a sort of long white radish I’d never tried before. It worked just fine. I swear, any root vegetable is good in a crockpot.

I can’t believe how huge those turkey breasts are! The good part was that they had no trimming to do, I could just rinse them and put ’em in the pot. I don’t like the look, feel or idea of meat, so the less I have to “bond” with it before cooking, the better. My body is insisting on a lot of protein these days. With milk/egg allergies (and possible issues with some beans), that leaves me eating poultry and fish these days anyway.

I also made a batch of granola bars. Every time I make them, I change something. They are just getting better each time. This time I split the bars into three bread pans and I tried three different baking times, to see how much they would change from 25 minutes to 30 to 35. It was an interesting experiment. I like them all but the middle one I liked best, and they were indeed distinctly different. I’ve been putting unsweetened coconut in them lately and that is such a treat for me! Yum. Coconut is one of the flavors I sometimes crave… even though I could not tolerate its texture as a child.

At 5pm I picked up my helper and she stayed with me a little longer than usual. She is still working on re-skeining all my sockyarn from the latest dyeing session. I have been trying to get the photos in order for the yarn webpage. Then last night as she was here, I was editing photographs and my Photoshop crashed. My hard drive was complaining, it is divided into two sections and one was too full. Dang. I knew it was coming but I didn’t want to lose that work. I hadn’t done tons of work but any time I have for things like that is precious. Fortunately my helper will be back on Friday (she skeins yarn and stuffs patterns into page protectors for me, for the most part) and when she’s here I try to do admin. work related to the yarn dyeing business. Maybe we’ll get this going!

After my helper went home, I continued to be the “white tornado” as Brian puts it. More recycling happened, as did more laundry. I finally stopped cleaning around 11:30 and we rehearsed for an hour. Brian crashed, I dealt with a bit of email, and then I also crashed.

It was a good day. The house still looks cluttered and messy, but I filled a large garbage bag and a full recycle bin that are already out of the house for good. I have a few boxes of “stuff” that will go with me to Foster Center today. The laundry I washed is already put away, and anything else will have to wait for another whirlwind day.

Thanks to those of you who wrote in encouragement. It’s clear to me I’m not alone but it feels that way when I’m trying to “shovel” myself out of the mess.

Wednesday is a busy one for me. I have a class that rescheduled for today at Rae’s (Fair Isle Socks), and CityKidz Knit! and three hours of dance. There is SO much yet to do, my car needs a muffler (pout) and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get it in this week. Things that take me from my home office always throw me for a loop, as much as I like this life of mine (and all the people I get to see when I’m gone from home).

OK… I’ve printed all the handouts for my class today. Now I need to get on with my day.

Take Back Your Time Day

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Karla writes:

This morning on the Today Show they mentioned that today is Take Back Your Time Day and I couldn’t help but think of your day. You might want to check the web site, www.timeday.org and go to the Four Windows of Time. They even have posters to print to help promote it.

Letting Go

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Today is “Lynn lets go of 10 things” day. Here are some options I have given myself:

Toss in trash (if at all reasonable, this is simplest).
Give away to friend (put in mail or deliver quickly).
Give to charity.
Put on curb and let neighbor or passer-by take it away.

At least 10 things.

Send me good vibes. We’re really drowning in stuff we don’t use (mostly my clothing) and I must turn this around. I bought at least 10 things just yesterday at Target (wool/cashmere berets in raspberry are hard to resist and berets of any sort are only typically available before the snow flies). At least the new items were small things. Now I must get rid of more than I brought in.

Why is this so hard? I’m not close to destitute, never have been. Yes, I’ve worried about cashflow (bills on time) but never physical things. I do remember the days when I could move everything I owned, including a sewing machine, bicycle and bean bag chair, in my 1975 AMC Gremlin. I’ll never be able to do that again but I would like to head back toward that direction a bit.

I live without unsecured credit which means I pay as I go, don’t promise that I’ll have money tomorrow to pay something tomorrow. For someone in my lifestyle this is absolutely sane. Live in the moment, and all that. When I want something, I wait until I can buy it or I do without. Obviously, I don’t do without very much!

I have more than enough stuff to take care of my immediate needs and even my emotional longings, for the most part. There must be some inner thing in some of us that echos “scarcity” when we prepare to let go of (lose) something. Maybe it’s the hunter-gatherer deep in the cells that makes me afraid to let go.

It’s time to be clear about my real situation and not be controlled with vague fears of not enough. It is true that I’m self employed and some times of the year are better than others. However, I’ve never gone hungry for lack of food and I’ve never had a scarcity of clothing. I’ve always had a roof over my head. And I’ve had a car since I was 15 years old. My immediate needs (and many of my frivolous wants) are close at hand.

Off to see what abundance I can find. If I give up the extra “stuff” I can get extra space instead. I’m ready for some elbow room today.

Photos Added

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I just added 2 photos to the previous post. They show us singing and a closer shot of the shawl, if from a side view.

Thanks to Joe Sundell for taking the photos for us. He’s in the Ban-Joes of Michigan, and was our contact person for this event.