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Archive for May, 2009

Happy Birthday to The Love of My Life!

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

What can I say? It’s my beloved Brian’s birthday today. Birthdays are for celebrating the person, really… not the day but the loved one who was brought forth on that day, years ago.

I went to a 50th anniversary in Brian’s family Saturday. One of Brian’s aunts asked me how I was. My honest but impulsive reply was… “Things are great… I’m married to Brian, what else could I want?”

Brian is a man of fewer words than me. He does have opinions, but does not need to spout them off to the world. He is thoughtful and courteous, sometimes when I am bouncing off the walls emotionally. He is not flashy, but he is as good a person as I have ever met.

I still am delighted and amazed that we have this incredible life together. Our surroundings are nothing fancy, our home is small but cute; our newest car is 11 years old but both are paid in full; we live simply. Our most frequent luxury is good food. Brian rides a bike for fun, I dance or knit, and we sing together. Things are simple but satisfying.

Brian found me when we were in our late ’30s. We have been married 12-1/2 years, and they have been definitely the nicest years in my life. What is really great, is that he is just as happy about this as I am. He sometimes says “This is the life.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Today Brian will spend his daylight hours on the bicycle. I will teach. We will come home by dusk and we will go out for sushi dinner together. Afterward we will go home to eat a homemade rhubarb crisp as his “birthday cake.”

We are not big on gifts here, but I’ll make that rhubarb dessert and I’ll darn a pair of his well-loved/well-worn handknit socks, so that he can have them back in his drawer to wear again.

Brian, the happiest birthday ever, to you!

Photos: At Niagara Falls, Creole Gallery, Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival.

Swamped

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

resflamm300sqknit.jpgCan I Get it Together?

I have too much to do, and posting here makes me feel a bit guilty. My to-do list today has 10 things on it and some will take days to accomplish. Ack!

Good Distractions, Anyway

We are truly into the summer celebration season. I’ve skipped some I would have very much enjoyed. I went to the ones that seemed essential: one graduation, one music party, one wedding, one 50th anniversary celebration. In just over a week.

No wonder I am not home as much. And when I sleep I pass out… waking up is really difficult. I don’t drink alcohol at the parties (I’m boring that way), and I am not eating foods I should not eat. I still am really tired after social days. This is what I call a “High-Class Problem.”

Job #1, Teaching Knitters

Work is wonderful, when I have people to teach. Warm weather brings good gardening, and in Lansing that means fewer knitters for a while. I am grateful for spring students. Thank every one of you for signing up when gardening or sitting outside might be more enjoyable (at least on some level).

Friday I taught needlefelting at Threadbear. Tomorrow I teach Polymer Clay Free-for-All at Rae’s. I have a non-knitter in the class tomorrow. I wonder which direction we will head in that class? It should be fun.

Job #2, Singing with Brian

Brian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) are doing a number of private musical performances lately, so that is keeping me away from my desk as well. It is SO much fun!resflammegarnblueberry600.jpg

In my Knitting Bag

Knitting? I’m swatching in this yarn. It’s Resonance Flammegarn (a very soft standard sockyarn with 75% wool and 25% nylon), which I dyed myself. I knit it on large (4US) needles and put it in washer/dryer which made a soft, flowy fabric. We will see if my dreaming happens to become something lovely. It is lovely in my mind’s eye, anyway.

I also am reworking two old sock patterns of mine. I’m lucky in that Brian drives when we head out of town. I’ve had four hours of knitting in the car in the last two days, and at least during those times I am getting some stitching accomplished.

Back to work… have a great weekend!

Portland, Here I Come!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

socksummitlogobutton.jpgIt’s official. A week or two ago I purchased a round-trip ticket to Portland, Oregon, the first week of August. Today I registered for Sock Summit.

I will attend two talks, one by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts about Ethnic Socks and Stockings; and one by Anna Zilboorg on Turkish sock stitches. I have met Anna (say “ahna” as in Spanish) but not Priscilla. Looking forward to this event is very exciting for me.

Meeting My Friend

I will also meet my online friend, Deborah Robson/The Independent Stitch. We somehow connected when she started reading this blog (and commenting).

I just naturally click with self-employed women of many industries, and since we are in the same realm it was easy to connect. We write often, but since I am in Michigan and she is in Colorado, this will be our first face-to-face meeting. She will be busy teaching and speaking, but we will sneak in a bit of chat there, somehow.

Why this Matters

A favorite saying of mine bears repeating: You can not buy passion. When you find it, run with it like the wind, with a smile on your face. I love socknitting. I don’t ask why, I just enjoy it.

You see, I have a very unusual career. I teach knitting and I design patterns, for the most part. I am very interested in colorwork and ethnic knitting. In particular, I am focused on Turkish socks. I have published 3 patterns inspired by this tradition (two pictured here) and an article on my experiences with the subject.

So not only am I a knitter, I am a socknitter, and I am sometimes focused on Turkish Socks. I was hired to fly to Dallas in 2007 to teach about Turkish sock design/structure. This, I admit, is a niche of a niche of a niche.

And Priscilla and Anna are the only two people I know of, who have published modern books on the subject of ethnic/Turkish/”eastern style” socknitting. They are both important teachers to me.

I learned about Turkish socks initially when a friend loaned me her copy of Anna’s book Fancy Feet (later re-issued in softcover as Simply Socks). Later, I acquired 4 pair of authentic socks from Turkey (with the assistance of a Turkish family I had befriended). I was able to look up the heel structure of one (which was different than those in Anna’s Book) by reading its details in Priscilla’s book Ethnic Socks and Stockings.

Luminaries (no light bulbs needed)

I also will attend the opening dinner event, and the “Luminary Panel.” Now, understand that socknitters will blow ukulele fanatics out of the water with their enthusiasm (I know that is hard to imagine) and Sock Summit is not in any sense exaggerating by using the word “Luminary.”

For those in the knitting realm, here is the roster for the panel:

  • Cat Bordhi
  • Nancy Bush
  • Priscilla Gibson-Roberts
  • Judith MacKenzie-McCuin
  • Lucy Neatby
  • Deborah Robson
  • Meg Swansen
  • Barbara Walker
  • Anna Zilboorg

And the Emcees? Stephanie Pearl-McPhee/Yarn Harlot, and Tina of Blue Moon Fiber Arts/Socks that Rock.

This list of names might be the contemporary socknitting equivalent of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Kathryn Hepburn, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe, all in one room. Really. HUGE names. And they earned their reputation in all cases, over time.

True Fanatics, in a Constructive Field

Here is an illustration of the level of enthusiasm in this realm. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has a blog. She writes funny books and delivers funny speeches, and people buy airplane tickets and hotel rooms to be where she is signing her books. She had a New York Times bestseller, a funny book about being a knitter.

When Stephanie did her US book release a few books back, she spoke in New York City. Something like 750 people showed up. We are talking large auditorium, folks. Serious enthusiasm, group happiness, much merriment.

Rae and I went to the Canadian launch for that book. We drove 5 hours one way to Toronto and stayed the night in a hotel. We met other people who love doing what we love, saw the city, ate good food, visited five yarn shops (photo of yarn crawl group in front of Lettuce Knit below), and drove home.

Stephanie once asked her blog readers to help her decide what yarn to use for a project. There were 3 choices. I swear there were 1200 replies in 3 days. I swear I saw it. I can’t find it in her archives, but I swear this is true. Incredible.

A Bit of a Rush

I feel like it’s Christmas and I am 4 years old. But being an adult, and choosing my own gift to myself, and earning the funds to make it possible? Well, that makes it even better than a child’s fantasy day. It’s a real, tangible thing. Yes, “adrenaline rush” is the order of my day, but one I planned for and scrimped for. And it looks like it is really happening.

WooHoo! Anybody out there going? Anybody out there live near Portland? I sense some meet-ups in my future!

A Recipe for Buckwheat Quick Bread

Monday, May 25th, 2009

One recurring theme here at ColorJoy, is that food can be art. In addition, if you are me, and you have a list of allergies longer than your arm, food is sometimes a challenge. Trying different ingredient combinations dozens of times until you come up with a winner, is not only an art but a magnificent success on a personal level.

Breads and desserts are the most difficult for me, because wheat really does work better for baking than any other flour. Many gluten-free recipes use corn or potato starches, which don’t work for me. Therefore, I have been on my own… making a lot of bad breads on the way to the successes. This one is truly a winner.

The Process of Discovery

I started with a base recipe called “Country-Style Quick Bread” from the book The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, written by Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N. (There seem to be two versions of this book, I’ve linked to the one I own.)

Her version of Quick Bread using rye flour and maple sugar in addition to maple syrup, is wonderful. Rye has gluten, though… and that leaves it out for many folks. (She does suggest buckwheat as one alternative… her recipe is full of options, much more than mine.)

buckwheatrecipebook.jpg

I have layers and layers of sticky notes on that recipe’s page in that cookbook, with different variations I’ve tried. The sticky note experiments include rice flour, chickpea flour, teff flour, oat flour, arrowroot, rye, kamut (which does contain gluten), even barley flour. I have used agave nectar, white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup; no salt, no milk.

I have tried ingredients she lists, some she never suggested. I have left out ingredients, changed quantities a bit, changed the preparation method. So far, the combination of ingredients I have listed below is best (for my purposes) by far.

The Current Result

This recipe is something like a sweet cornbread, or a little like a firm gingerbread without the spices. It is dark and almost looks like chocolate cake, but has maple syrup and molasses for sweetener (and binder) so has a warm “brown” flavor.

It is more firm than a cake, so it can be cut in very small squares without it falling apart. This is an unusual attribute for no-wheat/gluten breads. It is not good for sandwiches but still has a texture I might miss otherwise.

I like it with salted butter as a bread substitute, or it can also be used under ice cream and strawberries for a variation on strawberry shortcake. I took it to a party Sunday, and went home with an empty pan. I didn’t get photos, so sorry.

Who Can Eat This?

This is an allergy-friendly, wheat-free, egg-free, gluten-free recipe, though it is so tasty that folks who do not have restrictions dig right in. In this realm, the brand of flour you use makes a difference in the final texture. Also in this realm, there are many possible alternative ingredient options, which makes the recipe layout a little clumsy.

I’ve made this bread dozens of times, never the same twice (the version below is the one I took to the party). It is very flexible about alternative sweeteners and liquids; and you can ignore the milk if you have none of the options available. A milk ingredient of any sort does hold the bread together a bit better, if you can use it.

Buckwheat Quick Bread by LynnH

Dry Ingredients:
1-1/2 c Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Flour (Hodgson Mills will probably work, too… Bob’s has a different texture entirely)
Optional: 2 Tbsp Goat Milk powder (or sub powdered cow’s milk if you have that and are not allergic)
1-1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 pkg Emergen-C (or 1/4tsp unbuffered vitamin C crystals, or 1/2tsp cream of tartar; or 1Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice in a pinch, but reduce water by 1Tbsp if you do)
1/8tsp salt (optional)

Wet Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Maple Syrup (could sub agave nectar or brown rice syrup)
1 Tbsp Blackstrap Molasses (or more maple syrup, or standard molasses)
3 Tbsp Oil (I used olive)
2/3 C water (or sub any sort of milk product, such as soy, if you didn’t use a powdered milk and you are not allergic)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Oil a 9″/22.8cm glass pie pan (baking time may vary with a different size/material).

In mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and mix well with wire whisk. Goat milk powder may leave small clumps but this is not a problem.

Add all wet ingredients to bowl. Using whisk, blend all ingredients as quickly as possible, and stop mixing the moment all flour is wet. More mixing will hurt the texture of the bread.

Pour batter into prepared pan, bake about 18 minutes depending on your oven and type of pan. It is done when a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean.

Cool as long as you can stand to wait (5-10 minutes on a wire rack). Cut, eat, enjoy!

An Awareness which Changed My Life

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

A Real Friend

I had a friend I first met on an email discussion group on the Internet, at least 13 years ago. We met in person a few times over many years, but mostly we emailed and very occasionally talked by phone. In fact, we have not connected in a good while now. However, he helped me see something about myself, which really changed my life.

My friend was wise in areas I was not, and he was more an advisor than anything else. When we knew each other best, I was struggling with why I was in pain about human interactions in my life. It seemed whether I knew someone well or not at all, things were more difficult than they needed to be.

A Life-Changing Phone Call

We had a long phone call (years ago). He listened to me for a long time, and asked me questions. He actually listened to my answers.

One of the issues at that time for me, was the need for justice… not only in law and society, but on a small scale, even one-on-one. I had started to realize that life is not always fair. I was very clear that “sometimes we do not get what we want,” in part because I had friends with toddlers who thought that “I want this” meant “the world must provide this for me.”

Now, I realize that all people are “the star of their own show.” That’s a paraphrase of something my friend Cynthia said just today. In more blunt language, we all are self-focused, self-centered.

Now, it’s important that we do look after ourselves, because in the end our survival depends on it. And yes, I realize this is true of me as well. I’m not pointing fingers at others at all, and I’m not saying this is inherently bad (or good). It just *is.*

So my friend/advisor listened well for a long time, until it was his time to reflect back to me what he saw, from outside of my perspective. And at first what he said seemed wrong to me. However, the longer I live, the more I find his wisdom in that talk. And it continues to shape my life, in helpful ways.

Not ME!

He said in so many words, “Lynn, you use the word justice but you could instead use the phrase self-righteous. In order to determine who is right and wrong, you are deciding that you alone are the one who knows the ultimate answers.

“You are human. Can you just picture that sometimes two people who disagree, could perhaps both be right at the same time?”

This was too hard to process in one phone conversation. However, the longer I live with this idea, the more I see how true this is.

For one person, a medication may be lifesaving. For another, it might be life-threatening. When dealing with opinions, they are just that. One person thinks a small college is best, the other thinks a large University is the answer. Each has their own situation in which those answers might fit.

Yes, my own life is “all about LynnH.” But any of my neighbors will be all about himself/herself. My students, those who pay me, those who serve me in customer service positions… they all are first taking care of themselves. And this is as it should be.

A Memory/Illustration

I remember once getting very upset when my credit union would not process my deposit in the way I wanted them to do it. I spent the rest of the day running around being right. Being angry, indignant, just driving around doing my errands.

In retrospect, I think that I felt powerless and unheard. Many of us have big “hot buttons” about feeling unheard, I ‘m not alone. In this case, I told the teller what I wanted and she was not allowed to do it that way. She did hear me. She couldn’t help me as I wished. I was sure that I was right, and she was wrong.

(Mind you, I don’t even remember what it was that upset me any more, but I really remember feeling that my way was the way it should be done.)

Hours later, the teller was on to other things: she went home, ate dinner, slept. I was still upset about what had happened. And what I now realize is that if that teller had done it any other way (this was policy), she might have lost her job. She could not do her work the way I, a person who has never been a teller, wanted her to do it.

Right Answers

In the end, my own “right answer” is not necessarily the right answer for someone else. But more important: Being right keeps me from connecting with others. The need to be right can lose me friends.

Ever since my father died when I was 14, I live my life with the full awareness of how precious people are. Those I love are the biggest treasure of my life. Nothing is more meaningful to me, than someone with whom I can connect.

Therefore, I can not afford the luxury of being right. Relationship is more important.

(Continued in post below/May 23, for those who want more… I could not find a way to do a “continued” or “more” section in my blogging software, and I have already written enough for one post.)

The images today are: 1) framed drawings from children who love me. Relationship at its purest, perhaps. 2) graffiti from a train in Florida.

Of course, you are right. (continued from above…)

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Not in Charge

When I went to Africa, I had a mantra. It was “I am not in charge.” In that 5 weeks, it was literally true. I did not speak the languages of the countries we visited. I had to trust others to make sure I was in the right place, got food and sleep, had basic safety taken care of. Trying to control anything, when I could not understand what was being said around me, would have been crazy-making.

There is a prayer (which can work for nearly any belief system) called The Serenity Prayer. The short, modern version goes like this:

(G-d,) grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I have also heard a longer version which includes a line something like “acceptance of those with different struggles.” I like that, but can not find it using Google right now.

In my mind, “I’m not in charge” is sort of the Serenity Prayer in four secular words. It allows me to let go of anything other than those things I can actually change. And let go of the self-focused notion that if only the world would do what I said, that it would run better. Honestly, there are very few moments in my life when I’m really in charge, anyway (teaching is the biggest one, but without the student doing some effort, I can do nothing alone).

Who really wants to be King/Queen of the world anyway? They pretty much never get a day off, and more people than not will blame them for all the problems in their realm.

In the 1970’s play Pippin, a young man kills his father who is the king, and tries to be a good king himself. He can not please everybody and there is dissent. So he asks his dad for forgiveness, the dad “un-dies,” (it’s a play… whatever) and young Pippin gives the headaches, of being king, back to his father.

The Essence, at Least as I See it Today

I say: Life is short. It is VERY short. My own father died at 40. My brother’s first wife died at 27. I’m already at the lovely, not-old, age of 50, which I love. I’m in what I call “the gravy years” (years Daddio did not have) already. Every day is a gift, and perhaps I know this better than those who have never lost a loved one young.

The Motto of this Chapter of My Journey:
I can’t afford to be right all the time. It costs me potential relationships, and hurts ones I already have. Relationship is more important to me than other things, today.

I’m glad I lived long enough to learn this lesson. I’m glad I had a wise friend willing to say things I needed to hear, when I did not really want to know.

So now most times when someone comes at me with their own need to be right, I concede that it is true. They *ARE* right. No tug of war, No hassles, just peace. What a change this has made in my life! It has been quite worth letting that one go.

An Unusual Subject

I realize this is not my typical post. However, relationships are one of the most important creative endeavors a human can ever attempt.

I am really reaping the benefits recently, of this change in mindset. I am seeing how my life is just plain better now. It seemed time to share that lesson with my readers, in case they might benefit from the concept themselves.

Or not. I can’t know what you need, but I can share what helped me. I hope it’s helpful to someone out there as well.

(There is a related post on Christine Kane’s blog, called “Why your ego loves airplane delays.” This entry spurred my own columns here. Her column reminds me of the day I got mad at that teller. Recommended reading.)

I’m in Greater Lansing Woman Magazine!

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Thanks to the wonderful Anne Erickson of Gannett papers, you can find an article about me (and this ColorJoy blog) in the June issue of Greater Lansing Woman. The issue came out yesterday.

I am just delighted with the way Anne distilled a 45-minute phone interview into a concise article. It really does reflect who I am… all the best bits, I must admit, but she got a good sense of what I expressed to her in our chat.

Anne has been an incredible support already, to The Fabulous Heftones and the music events at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine (for which I do the publicity). She writes a column on local music in the Thursday “What’s On” section of the Lansing State Journal, and has highlighted Altus’ performers more regularly than I might have expected. We have never met in person, yet. (Soon, I hope?)

I have really appreciated Anne’s enthusiasm and work in the local music realm many times. Now she has done a great job writing about my artwork and knitting career. I am deeply appreciative.

The photographer (Becky Shink) did a great job, too… with a photo of me on my purple porch steps, in front of our purple front door, wearing my most colorful legwarmers (the ones I knit for Dallas-Ft. Worth Fiberfest, see above). She also took a closeup of a pile of the most colorful socks I’ve knit, very fun.

In any case, I am delighted with this honor. Anne makes me sound interesting, and what else could I want? I never imagined I’d be in the magazine, so that is quite enough, I’d say. Thanks, Anne!

(The photo here is one Brian took of me wearing the same legwarmers… in front of another purple door in our house. If you are interested, click to see the online version of the article, for both text and the actual photos that go with the real article.)

Woohoo! Summer!!!

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

kenyacaftanlynn.jpgHappy Warm Season

Nobody can be as happy as me today! It was really warm yesterday and it’s repeating today. Right now it’s 82F. Love it!

I think I’m a child inside. No, I know it. I remember living next door to 3-year-old twins back in the late 60’s, and those girls changed clothes a minimum of 3 times a day. My big excitement of the day is “what will I wear today?” And sometimes I end my day with “What will I wear tomorrow?”

One Non-Standard Artform

kenyadresslynn.jpgI maintain that costuming is an artform. I love clothing… colors, fabrics, shapes. I love putting pieces together. Since I am partial to four main colors (turquoise, fuschia, purple and hot green), mostly everything in my closet goes together as far as colors go.

When I decide what I will wear, I get to think about what the day holds (classes, errands) I also think of what weather we are expecting, and put together silhouettes that please my eye and feel comfortable to wear.

For me, choosing clothing for the day is usually a joy. I know that many other folks just want to be comfortable and not think much about what to wear. For me, the process of choosing makes my life more full.

Sometimes I don’t look like I planned much, I tend to put things together that others would not. There are also days when I have less time to plan ahead.

However, when it hits 82F, I wear clothes from Africa and India, for the most part. There is nothing more beautiful than flowing fabric on a warm day, if you ask me. (Flowing caftans are much more comfy in heat than too-tight shorts clinging to the body, anyway.)

Yesterday I wore a dress from Egypt during the day and a dress from Democratic Republic of Congo for dinner/concert. Today it’s a two-piece outfit from India. It is so exciting to find that the weather is warm enough again, for these favorites.

Lovely African Clothing, Fair Trade

Yesterday night, I wore my new dress/caftan from Shona. This is a group of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who make clothing one piece at a time for export. It is a unique organization because the woman who does the web work volunteers 100% of her time, and the women spend their time on sewing.

It is also unique in that all the craftspeople at Shona are handicapped in some way. Their legs do not work properly and they need crutches or braces to get around. And yet I tell you, the dress I wore yesterday was top notch and the woman who made it can be proud.

The stories of the women are online, you can read what they have gone through to become self-supporting businesswomen. They often support another family member, or more than one. In much of Africa, often a person with legs that do not work, is expected to scoot around using their hands, and they are expected to beg.

When I was in Ethiopia, these people would wear “flip flops” on their hands to make scooting around more comfortable. I wished I had brought several dozen pairs of flip flops on my trip.

I suggest you take a look at this amazing group’s website. When there was war in their area, they had to go to another place briefly, to keep working. They had to rent space in that second location until it was safe to return home. I admire these women for “keeping on keeping on,” as they say.

Please check out their site. The prices are good and the quality is also very good. I just love my caftan.

Shona Crafts from Congo -Fair Trade, Excellent Products, Good Prices

The photos above are some garments I purchased in Africa in 2004-2005. The first I found in Mombasa, Kenya and it is cotton with embroidery (probably rayon thread). The second I found in Nairobi, Kenya, and it is hand-dyed rayon with embroidery. The clothing from Shona is different, but every bit as lovely.

Buildings can be art…

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

The premise of my ColorJoy blog, for those who may be new here, is this: Art can be found almost anywhere, if one looks.

We need not frame a flat object and put it on the wall, for something to be art. You may disagree with my specific examples, but I hope that my premise might open up the concept that perhaps art is more accessible than this society typically believes.

Gardens, good food, comfy/happy gatherings, costuming (either for stage or just as choices we make getting dressed), music, dance, poetry, other writing, even raising a child, are all creative acts that I propose might be called art in one way or another. Or so I propose.

In our society, we like to make the concept of “Art” so big and unattainable, that we limit our minds and our own expression. This concept held me back, personally. I did not call myself “artist” until I was 32 years old, mostly because I do not draw or paint (I have typically worked in 3 dimensions, or in performance). It makes me sad that the idea might still be holding back others.

eastownbuildingwithsky400.jpg

I could spend a week writing about that idea. However, what I want to show you today, would be two photos of a wonderful old building. It is in the East Town area of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We visited Grand Rapids on Mother’s Day and stopped in East Town on the way back home.

This building, Brian tells me, was once used by the Zondervan Publishing company. Right now it appears to be something else, but there is merely a small sign by a side door and something I could not read on the face of the clock.

eastownbuildingwithclock400.jpg

We walked around this building, which takes up much of a city block. Somehow the original cornerstone with the date on it, is no longer visible from the street.

I wish I knew exactly when it was built. I’m guessing early in the 1900s, given the style… depending on whether it was cutting edge or current style when it was built.

Isn’t the building lovely? Yes, buildings can be art. This building sure does perk up the streets upon which it sits.

Spring is Fully Sprung!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

twoducksoldtown.jpgIt is incredible to see the changes in the plants here between a week ago and today. Last week we had trees where they were starting to have tiny leaves. Now, more trees than not are so full you can not see through them. The leaves are thick and green, and healthy.

I walked with friend Cynthia a week ago in Old Town. One block from Grand River and Washington, a step and a half from the curb, was a duck just resting, curled up with her head under part of a wing.

She had one eye peering at us making sure we were not a threat, but she never moved at all. Her partner can be seen in the background, and he was not any more worried about us than she was.

woldumarlogcabinmay09-25.jpgMind you, we were chatting in our typical animated way as we walked. This duck was not threatened. It is so odd to see wildlife not scared by loud humans! They are truly city ducks, I figure.

On Mother’s Day, I met my own Mom at Woldumar Nature Center. Brian was performing with the Scarlet Runner String Band, and it turned out a number of folks we knew were also performing. First I have a photo of the log cabin on the property.

lacloggersb25.jpgThen I show Trina (front) and her friend from LA Cloggers. Trina used to practice and teach at Foster Community Center, when I also worked in the building. It is fun to run into her, from time to time, at events like this.

Finally, I show a photo of our dear friend Art Cameron. Notice the little girl peeking out through the doorway. She enjoyed his set.

artcameronatwoldumar400.jpg

Warm-Weather Treat

Monday, May 18th, 2009

watermelon.jpgI bought a very small watermelon last week. It was much larger than a grapefruit, but a fraction of the size of a typical watermelon. (The photo was taken on a small salad plate, for scale.)

I cut it into four wedges. Each wedge was the perfect size for snacktime, for one adult. As a bonus, it was some of the most tasty melon I have tried in a very long time.

I tried to eat my treat on the porch, as you can see in this photo. However, afternoon shade and a bit of a breeze made it not quite warm enough for outdoor snacking.

I brought my snack inside to finish. The fruit alone was enough for me to have a wonderful experience, really. The warmth of summer is not far away!

Aaah, food is art… enjoying life is an art… and just being part of nature when there is no snow anymore, feels like an art to me. I find it so remarkable to again enjoy the touch of a breeze on my face. This past winter was so mean that I believe everything about spring/summer will be even more wonderful this year. Starting with watermelon in May!

Postscript
This truly is “the good life…” right here and now. Drink in the good and do what you can to let the rough bits just flow on by you… not always easy, but always worth the effort.

I am doing what I can to let go of the need to be right, and to walk away from conflict as often as I can. I let others who enjoy debate, debate without me. If taking a stand is the only answer, I can do it. If I can make things work without determining right and wrong, things just flow more pleasantly.

Letting go of the need to be the ONLY person who was right, has given me a higher quality life. I imagined myself a crusader for Justice, but that assumed that I was the only one who knew what “just” was? Besides, sometimes more than one person has a good point.

If we focus on the little-but-good things in our lives, we can create an extra-special existence. For me these days, turquoise plates, purple and salmon paint trim on my house, good food, good yarn and good friends are some of the small (and large) gifts I have given myself. These gifts make my life extra-special.

If I were waiting to win the lotto or live in Barcelona for a year before I thought I could be happy, I would still be waiting. Since I’m living in this moment, my life is “just right,” as Goldilocks would say.

What are the little things in your life, which move you toward “just right?”

Spring in Michigan

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Spring in Michigan is very soft and feminine. I noticed this after visiting Houston, Texas in April, and then returning to the soft, almost foam-like flowering of trees and bushes in soft colors here in Lansing, Michigan.

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I will be at the East Lansing Art Festival again today, helping my friend Altu in her food booth. Although I did not even leave the booth yesterday, I heard music from the main stage, and many friends came by to say hello. This is the first outdoor festival of our year, and it was a celebration that we finally made it through snow season again. This year was harder than many, and the celebration feels big.

I took a photo of a typical Michigan flowering fruit tree a week ago. It was Mother’s Day and I was at Woldumar Nature Center listening to Brian and other friends play music for a special event. Enjoy the flowers as I serve up the best food in Lansing…

Oh… and today is Norwegian Independence Day. Happy Day to all Norwegians and those of Norwegian descent!

East Lansing Art Fair

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I will be working for Altu’s Food Tent at the East Lansing Art Festival (Michigan), both Saturday/Sunday this weekend. Hours on Saturday are 10-6. Local folks, if you come down to the fair, do take a minute to wave or say hello.

There is lots of incredible music at this event, in addition to the artist booths and good food. See you there?

Pics of My Sweet Isabel

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

My friend April gave me one of the best gifts in my life… her daughter, Isabel. I adore this child so much… and it is good for all three of us!

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We went out for “tea” the other day. She wore her new socks that I’d knit for her, and insisted on rolling up her pant legs. She needed everyone to see the socks!

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She also brought along her green Sassy Summer Handbag purse that I’d given her for Christmas. Mom/April brought the cherry red one I gave her for her wedding.

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I took the photo of Isabel’s feet. April took the photo of me with Isabel. Anna took the photo of April and Isabel with their purses. (Thanks, Anna.)