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Archive for January, 2008

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Thursday, January 31st, 2008

magknitspeek1.jpgI guess I had the right sick day. It was so cold here, only 3 school districts within the radio station’s reach were open. Not a snow day, a cold day, which just almost never happens here in mid-Michigan.

I didn’t leave the house all day, and now today it’s warmer. Still too cold but better. My car will want a long warm up today.

OK, I don’t have as much time for a long blog, so you get a list today. I have been sleeping off the cold which takes a lot of time! Now I’m up late and I will have to work for 3 hours teaching at Rae’s tonight, and believe me there are things to do before leaving home (even though I am moving slower than usual).

I’m much, much better than I was, although I still need a pack of trusty Kleenex everywhere I go. I will sit to teach tonight instead of stand, I bet, but I will teach.

Here are some bits of information you might like to know:

  • I teach Sock Darning tonight (Thurs.) at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, 6-8pm. Merely $15 for one session. Bring your own wounded socks or I’ll have some you can practice with.
  • I will have a design in the MagKnits issue which comes available tomorrow. Woohoo! (See photo tease above.)
  • I put up six used knitting books on my shopping cart for sale, good pricing and $1 shipping.
  • I am dancing at New Aladdin’s Restaurant on Friday night, half-hour shows 6:30 and 8:00 (Outer Frandor in Lansing, near video store and Sparty’s) No cover, tips welcome.
  • Brian and I sing next Friday 2/8 at Foods for Living, 4-6pm, no cover
  • Paz of “The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz” also has a photo blog, pics of New York City, called “Paz’s New York Minute

And the World Turns

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

When you have to slow down, the natural world becomes apparent. Even sitting on an artificial chrome couch with Naugahyde cover, in a wood box built to protect me from the elements, I can see a lot of the outdoors. One of the advantages of a small house is that this living room has windows on three sides, it is a lot like the proverbial goldfish bowl.

The Natural World on My Block

wildabandon.jpgYesterday it rained. This is January in Michigan, and rain is not unheard of (my friend Mike Ross wrote a song called January Rain, about a particularly bad day he had).

However, this is usually the season of snow and cold. Lansing tends toward piling up snow for several weeks, than a short melt, then more snow. This last few weeks has had more melt and less snow than feels normal.

I worked on the computer (thank goodness for wireless internet and laptops) sitting on the couch. I kept being distracted by movement outside the window. It was that dratted squirrel again. He’s so cute to watch and I do like him much better when he is outside of my house.

Clearly that one nook in the front tree is his favorite spot, because I’ve showed you two photos of him there and again yesterday he’d go there, then run up and down the diagonal tree branch, then sit for a moment longer. He didn’t stay up the branch long enough to do anything. I assume he was out looking for food while it was warm enough to do so.

Of course, I also saw him in the rain gutter, his avenue to the hole he chewed under the shingles to get into our attic. Ick. That’s where he ceases to be cute.

A Short Breath of Fresh Air and a Dose of Reality

At 7:30pm I realized it was 45F degrees outside and rainy. Since I’m fighting a bug, I’m even more aware of air quality issues and the lack of open windows in the winter. So I turned down the thermostat, wrapped up in some blankets, and opened the door for a few hours. I am a huge fan of open windows and doors, and it felt so good to not be locked up so tight.

It rained peacefullly and there was no wind at all, so it took a long time for the house to feel colder inside. The humidity was a nice change, too.

But something threw a switch and it got mean out there. It sounded like Dorothy from Kansas was going to land her house in the street at any moment. The National Weather Service says it was 45 degrees F (7.2C) at 10pm, and 19 degrees F (-7.2C) at midnight. Whew!

More Small Potatoes

I remind myself that I’m human on earth and that means I’m not in charge, and that many things don’t fit in easy boxes. Getting this nasty cold is reminding me of this idea more intensely these few days. Sitting still and watching the weather (and the squirrel) go by, reminds me how little I am in charge of my life.

But I’m doing better at remembering my Gramma Illa’s theory that many things are small potatoes. Really, everyone gets a cold sometimes and they do go away. They slow us down, they make us uncomfortable, we don’t enjoy it. In the big scheme of things, though… it’s small potatoes and it will be over soon enough.

I observe little Isabel, the 3-1/2 yr old toddler in my life, and I see how she really still believes that the world revolves around her, which is normal for her age. When things go wrong we have to explain to her that it isn’t her fault, because as the center of the universe she would believe it was. Really, we all are the center of our own universe… which explains a lot of confusing behaviors in others at times. Yet, as adults we know our power is not all-encompassing.

I Don’t Think We are in Kansas Anymore, Toto

The wind is so strong outside that it is blowing through the cracks between windows in this old house. It is not extreme most of the time, and I’m not asking for advice since a little fresh air is excellent.

A little airflow does not upset me at all, and the house is small enough (and the furnace efficient enough) that it is just fine the way it is. Our windows are varnished hardwood, very beautiful, and I value them as an artform… just the way they are.

We have 8 small windows and a door in the small L-shaped area that is our living room and my office. I did take some of that thick not-too-sticky plastic weather tape a year or two ago, and taped the larger crack that is between the upper and lower moving window parts.

Yesterday, when we would get a huge gust of wind, we would both jump from a very loud noise. A whoopie cushion, but louder!

It was one of the windows in my office. I’d opened it for Brian when we were dealing with telephone-line issues near that window. The tape is still sealed on one side but it broke its bond on the other.

Then the wind blew so hard that it pushed quickly through the crack, and the loose side vibrated. Instant whoopie cushion! Quite amusing when you are fully awake.

So, How is Your World?

Nothing new in this corner of the world, really. The world turns, the sun sets, we sleep, we wake up, we have a cup of tea, we work for a while. How about you?

(The photo? Beats me. I downloaded a bunch of photos and this one was in the middle for no apparent reason. I thought it was beautiful so I didn’t delete it. I call it “Wild Abandon.” It is so sunny I hought it appropriate to a winter day.)


Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Dang. It’s not even done with January yet and I have a cold. Trust me, I’m counting my blessings… I didn’t feel crummy until just after our Friday concert was over with. First I had a doozy of a headache, then the cold set in but luckily without the headache… I’m all for a cold rather than a headache, personally.

We don’t perform again until February 8 (Foods For Living, 4pm-6pm). So I’ll surely be feeling fine in time for that performance. It’s a cold. They don’t last forever.

Meanwhile, I toughed it out through my classes Monday at Haslett Community Ed. What I do there is unusual enough that I know nobody who could substitute for me. My students were wonderful and understanding, and it went fine.

But when I got home I was so wiped out I just plopped down on the couch. Brian thawed us some dinner from the freezer. (I can not tell you how wonderful my crockpots are, we cook two full ones at a time and freeze, and then we need not cook some nights. Just like tonight.) A couple of Excedrin and dinner, and I already feel better.

Planning a Mostly-Lazy Day

ravzigbagzbig.jpgTuesday I don’t work at all, though I have 2 short appointments scheduled. I think I can cancel one but not the other.

I will work Tuesday with my feet up on the couch. Thank goodness for laptops, I can do email from there now.

I will also finish knitting a few straps on bags that are nearly ready to be shrunk/felted for my new ZigBagZ patterns. And I will go back to learning InDesign (computer program for laying out patterns and other documents).

The Dreaded Learning Curve

I spent Saturday diving in deep, with this new program. I do not enjoy learning curves for computer programs, but I have a list of projects all waiting for me to master this one. I played with a simple pattern first, so in case I really messed it up I wouldn’t have wrecked something big. I have a mitten pattern almost ready to roll.

In the end I will use this program for many purposes. Most of the documents will be my patterns, and probably some promo materials for The Fabulous Heftones. I’ll also use it on menus for Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine… and my mother’s incredible very-beginning-reader books.

I will talk about Mom’s books here more when they become available. Mom is totally brilliant at teaching reading, and these books are her life’s work… her Opus. So that will be the very coolest thing I’ll do with the program, and very soon at that.

Nearly-Ready Pattern… Finally(?)

The ZigBagZ are really five separate bags. I have been discussing the possibilities for them with friends (yarn shop owners, test knitter/proofreader/collaborator Diana, knitting buddies).

It looks like I may decide to split the bags into two patterns, one for the three smaller ones and one for the two larger carry-all bags. They are all zigzag with the same number of stitches in a repeat, but there are different charts, different handles, different button flaps. The big bagz are significantly different in many ways, from the smaller bagz.

With five designs, I had to say “start with section A then go to Section C then D & E” or the like, for each of the smaller bags, which made it a bit hard to navigate. And at 15 pages, I would have to price the pattern higher than my other patterns which could be a hassle as I (and shops) sold them.

The pattern idea started out as a plan for a large carry-all. I made the smaller bags basically as gauge swatches, and they were so fun and useful that I kept going with them. They are all tested and mostly ready to go (it’s the two big bagz that have taken so much work and time).

The photo above is of the first two large bagz knit… the front one I knit, zigbagbottlezigsmweb.jpgthe back one Karen knit. Mine was from prototype numbers. Diana just finished another from actual pattern specs and it should arrive here tomorrow for me to shrink. Cross fingers. (Photo at left is small bottle bag, this one I kept for myself and use frequently.)

February 7

I have announced on Ravelry that this pattern will be available February 7, and I bought an advertisement on Ravelry to run from Feb. 14-29, so everything that is looking good needs to proceed as planned at this point.

But I’m thinking that Linda and Diana and Rae are right, that things would work better for me and my shops and my customers, if things in this project were more streamlined than they seem to be right now. Fifteen pages is TOO LONG for a pattern. At that point we are in booklet territory.

I wish for folks to make these bags without wondering what I was thinking when I set up the pattern I have a reputation for easy-to-follow patterns. I want to keep that reputation.

Cooking Sweet Green Pea Soup

greenpeasoup.jpgAnyway… that was a digression but maybe it was interesting to my knitting readers. The point is that I can still work, at least when the Excedrin is doing its job. And I will be as horizontal as I can. I will even limit my cooking time to as little as possible. In the end, it’s just a cold, right? Irritating but temporary.

Green pea soup works well in a crockpot. And it’s SO good. Check out this recipe at Paz’ website for a recipe which was my inspiration. Yum!

Tapestry-Crocheted Mandalas (Circles)

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I met Sriyana (internet name) on my Ravelry ColorJoy group. She makes amazing Tapestry-Crocheted mandalas.

Tapestry Crochet is a way of doing colorwork in very firm single-crochet, where you carry the strands of the yarns you are not using inside the stitches of the yarn you are working. It makes great baskets and purses, doesn’t stretch much, is sort of all the things knitting is not (which makes me very interested in it for bags, backpacks, purses… things that are not easy to do well in knit fabric).

Mandalas are often done as drawings. They were discussed by Carl Jung as a sort of connection between the inner self and the outer self (this is a very rough one-phrase explanation, please forgive its inadequacy). I spent a year or so drawing at least one mandala a day as a self-awareness exercise and it was a wonderful practice.

Sriyana’s mandalas are spectactular. She has won awards, and now she is featured on Carol Ventura’s Tapestry Crochet blog. The article is very nice, and goes into a nice level of depth with a little personal history for perspective.

Please consider taking the time read this wonderful article and meet my new friend, Sriyana.

Flickr Slideshow of Friday Concert

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I have put up a Flickr photo set which you can view as a slideshow… of the Stage 1210 concert last Friday.

For those who were there (or wish they had been), this does not take a very long time to view and will give a very nice feel for the event.

Hanno M. took many of the photos and he’s a very artful photo-reporter. Thanks again, Hanno!

The Motor City Sidestrokers!

Sunday, January 27th, 2008


On Friday, Brian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) played a shared show with The Motor City Sidestrokers. We did not know about this band before Ben Hassenger of Stage 1210 paired us. Wow, what a perfect combination it was!


I was quite complimented by hearing that the members of this band had heard of us… we have only once played in the metro Detroit area, and that was for a Banjo festival. Yet musicians move around the state relatively freely and these folks had heard of us from musicians I regard highly… and have not yet met personally. Cool.


Why is it that folks thought we should meet? Why should it feel like a great match? Well, we really do music that is of the same era, the same country, but with different focus. Our music is the pop music from mostly the mid-to-late 1920’s, which came mostly from New York City. It was the music on the radio during that timeframe.

They play a lot of music that our other band (now mostly defunct), Abbott Brothers, played. It’s mostly jug band, speakeasy, back room sort of music. Also the late 1920s and also into the 30’s a bit. Of course, I’m generalizing here in a big way but this gives the general idea of how our two bands fit on stage.


It was fun to be in the audience during their set… the crowd really loved every minute. At one point toward the end of the set they sang “Minnie the Moocher” and the crowd stood up and did their “hidey-hidey-hidey-ho” response in total enthusiasm. It was a spectacular example of total entertainment.

They are great musicians… one particular thing I noticed was that Doc/Bob the fiddle player has the sweetest tone quality out of that violin… yet he was totally into the swing, losing no soul underneath that beautiful sound. There are 5 musicians total, all dressed in garb reminiscent of the 30’s. They interact with the audience, they engage fully rather than being distant from the crowd. They sing with expression and excellent harmonies. Several play multiple instruments. And the songs they chose were just right for them.

We have determined that we would like to play some more shows together. At this point we are not sure where that will be… if anyone reading this has good ideas in that realm, somewhere approximately in the lower half of lower Michigan, we are all ears. Fun this big must be repeated.

Oh, and if you folks within driving distance of Lansing have not tried Stage 1210 yet, do check it out. By day it is Banyan Gallery at 1210 Turner Street, not far from the corner of Grand River Ave. in Old Town Lansing.

Ben Hassenger is the guy who makes this concert series happen. He is a member of the band Mystic Shake, and the duo Blue Jell-O which will have a CD release party there I think next month. He is a great guy to do a bit of business with (we have played for him before at his “Music in the Pines” outdoor house concert series, and his duo plays for Altu’s restaurant. If Ben is involved, it will go well and it’s worth checking out.

Photos: I took the shots of the Sidestrokers, Hanno M. took the photo of us as The Fab Heftones. Aaaah, the fun comes back when I view these shots.

Uke Like the Wind

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Hanno took this photo of Brian playing uke Friday night:


It sounded like that at times, too. Thanks, Hanno.

CityKidz Knit!

Friday, January 25th, 2008


I have not had this much trouble posting a column every day, in years. I am busy and distracted, mostly in working my business in a more committed/focused way but also in doing my best to change my routine and habits.

The blog has been a pleasant routine for years (I tend to write columns after midnight, when Brian goes to bed) but I’ve been pushing so hard during the day that I’ve been crashing early and not posting.

I hope to get going on a new routine here yet this month, not just for the blog but for my business/ professional life. (My goal is 28 posts a month and I almost always make it, this month I’m so short I won’t be able to make it up any possible way.) And with that, I’ve said enough in the navel-pondering realm…

My Kidz

I have taken many photos of my CityKidz Knit! program this year and some I took just Wednesday but haven’t developed yet. This one is from two weeks ago, I think. Sometimes working with this many kids is a LOT of work, sometimes it is pure joy. In either case, I’m “in love” with teaching these children and it’s good for them and for me both.

I have much deskwork today, I am working on getting some of my delayed pattern projects actually laid out and sellable. We played a concert last night and I haven’t even looked at the photos but it was a wonderful time. Will talk about that when I can write more.

A Question

I appreciate each and every one of you out there. You like questions from me sometimes. So I’ll ask this:

I find that teaching children is one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had interacting with other people. I am clear that the time I spend with the kids goes with them into their future without me. (In particular, one child moved out of state. I know that she had never felt like an expert before she got to knitting class, and she really was an expert far beyond her peers in school when it came to knitting. It really helped her feel confident about herself and I am sure that will not diminish as she moves into her new life.)

Is there any experience in your own life, now or in the past, which prompts you to feel the same… that your effort will grow after you leave the environment where your experience happened?

Scene Metrospace Folk Festival Photos

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I posted a PhotoSet on Flickr of photos from the Scene Metrospace Folk Festival. There are photos from both Friday and Saturday, and they are not in the order they happened, but you can see the variety of people, the crowd, the spirit of the thing… and one photo of an almost-full moon we found on the way to the show from the alley, on Saturday.


Awww, Shucks!

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008


Leeanne/Wool & Chocolate put me on her short list of “10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland.” I am honored. I do my best to keep this cyber-place as upbeat as I can, at least 95% of the time, hopefully more.

It is interesting that Leeanne notes “The experience of reading her blog is really enhanced by the fact that she responds to blog comments with personal emails…” I do try to do just that, as much as my time will allow. It seems really important to me at this point in my life.

Thank goodness I don’t get hundreds of comments like Stephanie/Yarn Harlot does, though it clearly shows her popularity (and the comments there have somehow become a community of a unique type). I think sometimes I long for that many comments. Then I remember reading a book by Eleanor Roosevelt, about her life, and a huge portion of her time was spent tending to correspondence. She had no choice, really… she couldn’t say that she was just tired of people admiring her and seeking her advice or assistance.

But me? I value every single one of you who read this. I get excited every time I get a comment. And whenever I possibly can, I write with at least a thank you when you take the time to write to me. Thank you, Leeanne, for saying right there in print how much it means to you. I guess we have a mutual-admiration society going here and I’m delighted!

For the knitters who loyally tune in here, you have not seen many photos lately. I knit this hat off the cuff, starting on Saturday at Scene Metrospace Folk Festival. I finished it Monday, and I love it. Altu’s daughter who is a Junior in High School, also loves it. This feels good to me.

(No, there is no pattern. Maybe I will write it up, I hope I do, but the ZigBagz are top priority and I can not focus on a new thing until some of my old things are tucked safely into bed… Nevertheless, I do love this hat. Yarns are DiVe’ Autunno in teal-to-green with black and Cascade… can’t find the ball but it’s worsted-weight 50% Merino wool, 50% Angora… in a bright green. Very soft, I’m calling this my Soft Stripe Hat for now.)

Squirrel Appreciation Day? Hmmm…

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Well, Monday was one of my favorite holidays, right up there with Thanksgiving. We celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I did work, but I work teaching others and I think teaching/learning are reasonable pursuits on that sort of holiday. I have written long essays on this day in previous years. I am not writing about it today, but that is not to say that the holiday escaped me. It definitely did not.

However, I was reading the comments on Stephanie’s Yarn Harlot blog the other day, and someone mentioned a Squirrel Appreciation Day. And it’s on the same day as Dr. King’s day? Amazing. I admit that the date of Dr. King’s celebration changes because of Monday holidays, but I found it impossible to understand the idea of a Squirrel Appreciation Day at all, and to have it compete with MLK Day was surreal.

I remember a friend from New Zeeland who moved here for several years. She says the first few weeks they were here, they used up much photographic film trying to get good shots of those adorable squirrel creatures. They seemed so exotic!

But for me? If Dr. King is about peace, then squirrels are not. We have one spectacular tree, and from it a squirrel can get on our roof. From there, he/she can get into enough mischief to cause my house damage and me a bit of jangled nerves.

We had a squirrel when I moved here, who was fat and fearless. I think someone was feeding him and I was not amused. He would come up on the step and when you yelled at him to go away, he just looked at you. As in, are you bringing me food now? Quite spooky. They live near humans but they do not usually get along with us quite that well. They should rightfully be a bit afraid.

One day we found squished squirrel in the road and that one stopped coming around so we think it was him. As Kenny says, Curiosity Killed the Cat, and Indecision Killed the Squirrel. They are always trying to figure out which tree is closest to run up if they are startled, and sometimes they head to the closest but not safest tree (or phone pole). Maybe I’m a squirrel, I suffer from indecision myself, though it has never threatened my life at this point.

When I moved here there was a protected spot on the roof where a lot of angles came together, where the squirrels had gnawed a hole and were trying to get through to the attic on the other side. Our neighbor at the time, Marvin, put a metal plate there with a plywood board over it, and that ceased to be an issue.

Then this year I kept hearing “someone” up in the attic, at all hours of day or night. We have had birds before but this one seemed to be scurrying in a way a bird would not. I figured it was a squirrel. We found that one was going in and out the vents on the roof. We got new animal-proof vents. And the sounds did not stop.

So about a week ago I talked to friend/musician/woodsman Paul Bennett and mentioned the squirrels. He didn’t miss a beat. He said, they are traveling in the gutters of your roof, look for a low spot on the very edge, and they get in the attic by chewing a hole through the roof boards, underneath the very last bottom shingle.


So a few days ago, I heard it again. And I went outside. It was the perfect weather for the discovery… and sure enough, it was a piece of cake to find it once Paul had described the situation. On the front of the house where we added on the new porch several years ago, there is a side gutter. And there was clearly a little entry hole, and even squirrel tracks going from the gutter a foot or so from that hole up to the top of the roof. Wow.

Well, then I read about squirrel appreciation day. I personally am afraid for my house, that the rodent will gnaw through electrical wires or something. I’m a little less worried about the things stored in the attic, though no doubt it could become bedding for the furry little pest.

But I read the whole page written by the Founder of Squirrel Appreciation Day. And I read that the animals do not like the scent of mint, and if you put peppermint oil on a cottonball in the attic space, they will vacate. This sounded too good/simple to be true.

I had a cottonball, and I had some very strong Eucalyptus oil, which is to me even more obnoxious than peppermint. So I put some oil on the ball and put it in the one attic door I could reach easily. I can get Brian to help me go into the one other door near the squirrel area when he gets home.

I’m crossing my fingers. I am not one to put out bait, and closing up the hole could trap the dude inside which could be very bad. I really want this furry tenant to go his merry way without a formal eviction of any sort.

As I type this I can hear someone up there walking around. It’s really spooky. Let’s face it, we are humans on earth and we make little climate-controlled boxes to keep ourselves warm and protected. But we are not in charge of nature, and animals are much more resourceful than humans are in cases like this.

While researching this column, I found a web page that says in Council Bluffs, Iowa it may be illegal to do what I am doing.

City Attorney Richard Wade said roughly in the 1930s, the City Council adopted an ordinance barring people from bothering black squirrels.

According to the ordinance, it is illegal to annoy, worry, maim, injure or kill the squirrel.

My squirrel is red. Go, cottonball!

Author at Schuler Books, Eastwood (Lansing, MI)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

If you read here often, you know that I eat healthy (mostly because of a long list of food allergies and sensitivities). I buy fresh ingredients, very few canned or frozen items, and I make things myself so that I am very clear what I am eating. I feel well when I do this, and often if I give in and buy at a restaurant I regret the choice.

However, I learned to read labels on food when I was just a child, before my food sensitivities took over my life. I am discovering that many otherwise well-informed people in my life never really look at what is in their food, even though it is right there for the reading.

I am always on the lookout for foods with one or two ingredients in the package. I have written about this search before, if you want to read an archived column. The ones which come to mind are pumpkin (for pie, but not the pie filling version), and tomato paste.

Even tomato sauce usually has citric acid added, which is funny because tomatoes have some citric acid in them naturally. I am guessing they use it to regulate the exact level of acidity in each batch. At least one brand doesn’t use it so the theory it might be needed as preservative would not be valid.

Citric acid is not lemon juice (though it sometimes can come from citrus fruit, it can also come from fermented corn and I can’t have mold or corn). Bet you didn’t know that!

Just to illustrate how little most of us know (until health requires us to be informed), here’s one source supporting what I just said… according to a supplement-information web page by Ray Sahelian, MD:

How is Citric Acid made?
Citric and lactic acids are produced by fermentation which utilized a carbohydrate source such as corn based starch and sugar beet molasses… Fermentation yields a crude purity product which requires further refining. One refining technique utilities a precipitation process, this process first uses lime to produce calcium citrate solids, this is then contacted with sulfuric acid which produces a partially purified soluble citric acid and calcium sulfate by product. Another technique used is solvent extraction…

Citric acid can be extracted from the juice of citrus fruits by adding calcium oxide (lime) to form calcium citrate, an insoluble precipitate that can be collected by filtration; the citric acid can be recovered from its calcium salt by adding sulfuric acid… and can be obtained synthetically from acetone or glycerol.

Yum. Yum? Now, the point is that for most people this is not an issue, but if you make your own food you don’t get the synthetic citric acid made from acetone (fingernail polish remover). I don’t like making my own food, I do it kicking and screaming sometimes, but I am clear my system is happier when I do it.

(For the record, Eden Organic Foods has canned “crushed tomatoes” that contain tomatoes and nothing else. It is essentially thick, beautiful tomato sauce. They also have Buckwheat “Soba” noodles that are 100% buckwheat… which I order by the case through their website. I love Eden Foods!)

SO… I just was checking out the Schuler Books website (because I’m doing an in-house promotion on Designer One-Skein Wonders at Eastwood, on February 28 at 7:30pm). And what did I find? This Thursday, local author Kimberly Lord Stewart is doing a presentation on how to read food labels. It’s at 7:30pm. Here is what the Schuler books website says:

Learn to read food labels with Eating Between the Lines
Award winning journalist, natural foods expert, and Lansing native Kimberly Lord Stewart is returning to give us a lesson in reading food labels, a topic that is rapidly gaining importance through the rise of food allergies and genetically modified products.

Her new book, Eating Between the Lines: The Supermarket Shopper’s Guide to the Truth Behind Food Labels, tells readers how to be discerning shoppers by breaking down the mystery and the marketing behind the countless food labels touting the health benefits of every food from potatoes to potato chips. Learn the tricks of healthy grocery shopping and have your own questions about food labels answered by an expert!

Thursday. January 24. 7:30 p.m., Schuler Books, Eastwood Towne Center, Lansing

The photos are of foods I have made and shared with you readers over the last several years. All healthy and with as few ingredients as possible, yet still tasty. And beautiful, no?

Techie Issues and Belonging

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Tech Woes

I think my computer and I need to break up our relationship. However, it’s sort of like that Supertramp song “not much of a girlfriend (computer); she’s the only one I’ve got.”

I lost my Palm desktop (my calendar program that runs on the computer when I’m home… which synchronizes to my palm device which I use when I’m not home). It doesn’t know about any real appointments after November 2.

This happened as I was preparing for Rev’s visit and I did not have time to deal with it, including the required backups and careful proceedings in the right order to get the program back without losing what is on the palm device.

So last night I typed in at least the appointment name and date/time for everything on my calendar from now through the future. I will need to uninstall the desktop program and reinstall.

Cross fingers for me. I need to do it when I have time and a focused mind, which means not first thing and not just before bed… and some days all the rest of the time I’m out of the house. One day at a time. I’m probably ready to do that Monday.

But then on Sunday my Eudora email program decided to flip out when I sent press releases, and now I don’t know if anyone but me got the release (for Altu’s Restaurant’s music series). It only goes to a small handful of addresses (reporters and DJs) so it should not have looked like spam but I don’t know what happened.

So I spent time today checking out the status of the rest of my folders in Eudora and it looks like really I have one uncertain message. It should look like a message that went out, and should have the content of the message I sent. It looks like a message intended to go out (but it’s not in the outbasket) and when I open it, I see the text of a message almost a year old. The table of contents is toast, but even this former tech doesn’t know how to figure it out, other than to just move forward.

I used to do computer tech work for a living. Right now, though, I am out of practice. My tolerance for imperfection in this area is getting thin. I will do the calendar reinstall tomorrow, and I did spend a lot of time cleaning up my malboxes/folders in Eudora so that none of them have over 3000 messages in them any more. We will hope that cleans up the issue for now.

Belonging, Lansing, Music

I did not get any photos downloaded from my camera from this weekend’s Scene Metrospace Folk Festival. We went both Friday and Saturday, and then the second night we went down to Rendezvous by the Grand in Old Town to hear friends from Steppin’ in It, which was also wonderful.

I hope to bring you enough photos for a slideshow but for now I need to do business-related things. I am woefully behind on getting all my classes scheduled for this term we are already in. I have classes scheduled at two of the 5 shops where I teach… because they were the ones who basically cornered me and said “Schedule. Today. Now.”

But I do want to just say that the Folk Festival was one of the most wonderful belonging experiences I have ever had. I have spent a lot of my life not fitting in. Just notice what colors I wear, and what city I live in, and that will give you a small idea of how I don’t really fit… I am often loved and appreciated but I am usually still a bit of “that colorful girl over there.” Not quite part of the crowd, though accepted at this point in the game.

But at the Fox on a Hill shows at Scene Metrospace Folk Festival? These amazing other musicians played and they really feel like peers though we all are different in style (as it should be).

We played Friday and one of the other musicians who played was Jen Sygit, who I totally admire in every way. I am deeply honored by sharing her stage, though she pooh-poohs this idea when I say this out loud.

When we played our set, Laura Bates (who has, arguably, the most beautiful voice on the circuit) spent the entire half hour dancing to our music. That may be the biggest compliment we have ever received, really.

It just felt like home. It was a place where we belonged, where the comfort level backstage was really high. Even the listeners/audience? The best.

As an adult, I find lately that I quite often hang out with a lot of creative folks who are younger than me. I expect to not fit in. I expect that I’ll again be accepted but outside the group. Again this weekend I was proven wrong.

Lansing is really a great town for artful folks. I really appreciate this town in that way.

And with that I will go sleep and anticipate a new day, with a new calendar install. I start teaching my new term (computer classes for beginners) at Haslett Community Ed tomorrow. Yes, even though it is a very fine holiday, we will honor Dr. King’s spirit by learning.


Rev and Brian on YouTube (Me, too!)

Friday, January 18th, 2008

revataltus.jpgThe Lil’ Rev concert was really fun at Altu’s. We had a good crowd, and were very happy with a big photo of Rev and a nice writeup in Anne Erickson’s column in the Lansing State Journal’s What’s On section on Thursday. We love Anne! I hope sometime soon I can meet her in person.

I’m showing one photo of Rev in Concert (musicians are moving targets, and the lighting at Altu’s is great for mood lighting but not so for photos). I am also showing a photo of Rev and Brian jamming at our house.

This morning before Lil’ Rev went to Saginaw for his Friday concert, we jammed a bit on camera (digital video) in our living room. Brian posted them to YouTube so interested folks could enjoy it.

revandbrian.jpgBrian and Rev did the How Long Blues and then I got to join them on Shake That Thing. Perhaps you would enjoy viewing these videos… I tried to embed them so you could click here and watch, but apparently my blogging software does not want to cooperate. You will need to click on the links earlier in this paragraph to go hear them.

I know that I have a few loyal readers from the music community, though most are from the knitting/art community. My friends, today’s post is for you!