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Archive for June, 2009

Photos: Dearborn Arab International Festival

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

A few Saturdays ago, I danced with the Habibi Dancers in Dearborn, Michigan. The event is my favorite of the year, the Dearborn Arab International Festival. Love it! The crowd is so alive, and they know our music and sing and clap along. I look forward to it every year.

Here are some photos taken by young friends of the troupe, Deb and Laura. They used my cameras, since I had no way to photograph while I was dancing. Thanks, girls!

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(That’s me in the final photo, five from right, with black scarf in hair and glasses on. This photo is missing at least one dancer from that show, our troupe director, Yasmina Amal.)

Lucky Ending

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

It’s a miracle. I pinched my right index finger badly last night. The experience was quite dramatic, but it seems barely inflammed this morning and that’s all. I could have crushed it or worse. Whew!

We have been doing a major letting-go week, giving to charity and throwing away, which allows for change in how we store things. I gave away 12 grocery bags full last week, and perhaps a half dozen this week. We have three city garbage bags full of trash already and we’ll have at least one more before the truck goes by tomorrow morning.

We have one of those fold-up units in our closet room, that they use at university events to hold coats. If you do just the right thing, they go up in the middle and down at the sides, and roll around on heavy rolling casters for low-profile storage. They are designed to fold up when empty and be stable when evenly loaded.

We have had this unit for at least ten years, and it has been great. Our “closet” is the landing at the top of our stairs (many old houses in this area have these) which holds this rack and two other smaller ones, all jam packed with goodies. The other two racks are not as heavy-duty as this one.

Our folding unit is about 8 feet long (245cm). Knowing me, you can imagine it was heavily loaded with clothing. Clothing is one of the biggest joys in my life, and one of the largest categories of “stuff” in my house.

I gave away a LOT of clothes including much from this rack. (Yes, I finally let go of the many expensive business suits I had not worn since 1999) I moved certain clothing from another rack to this one, and apparently it changed the balance enough to make it unstable.

I was on the outside edge of this rack with my hand on a vertical support, and I rolled the unit just a few inches. We’ve been doing so much work cleaning and putting away, that the balance of clothing had shifted to lots of weight on the very side edges and not as much in the center. It went up to fold itself, and my finger was pinched between three square metal supports.

I lucked out, because what got pinched was merely the skin pad of my right index finger. My 2nd finger got a little pinch but nothing serious. Had I been holding it differently, I could have bruised the bone or worse.

But here I was, with the metal folding thing weighted down by many pounds of clothing. I couldn’t push it back myself, with only my left arm.

I yelled for Brian (thank heaven he was here, or I may have had to pull my finger out and damage the skin of the finger). He ran so fast I can’t tell you, and pushed it up just enough for me to pull out my finger.

It stayed folded until Brian pulled the clothes off it, bound the middle two supports together with belts, and then put the clothing back, heavy sweaters and Brian’s stage tuxedos at center and lightweight caftans and dress shirts at the edge.

I spent several hours with ice on my finger, and this morning it merely feels puffed up. It’s very mildly sore, and mildly red. I really lucked out this time. I was pretty scared there when I was trapped and alone for those few moments.

Gratitude. That’s me today.

What a Difference a Week Makes

Monday, June 29th, 2009

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Oh, well. Indoor work this week, I guess. I hope it lets up at times, so I can go on my daily walk without a downpour.

Sigh. I loved that sun while it was here.

ColorJoy on Twitter

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

I Give In!

twitterbuttoncolorjoy.gifWell, I have been assimilated, as Brian says it. I swore I could not “do” Twitter because of its distraction-creating capabilities. However, Rae convinced me that I could send outgoing messages which would benefit my customers and friends, without following other folks’ messages myself.

It is perhaps unfairly unbalanced doing it this way, but if I spend time reading what others are doing, I won’t be doing anything myself. I know how easily I can be distracted.

However, sometimes I have a last-minute knitting class or musical performance to announce. Twitter is a sort of quick, in-the-moment way to announce those things. And when I dye a small handful of yarns which are one of a kind, a Twitter announcement may be just the way to catch those most interested in my work, quickly.

What is Twitter? What’s a Tweet?

For those who ask me what Twitter is, basically it’s a way for people to send out very short text messages (140 or fewer characters) about “what are you doing?” Some people will announce they are going to the grocery store, and assume those following them are friends and family. In my case, I think I will not use the feature unless I have a class, performance, or new product to announce.

You can follow someone on Twitter without getting an account, by going to their Twitter home page. My Twitter username is ColorJoy (or colorjoy, it seems to not care about upper/lower case). If you wanted to read my updates, you could go to www.twitter.com/colorjoy and read what I had posted most recently. OR you could get a twitter account and follow me on your computer or on your cell phone.

An individual message sent on Twitter is called a “tweet.” I have posted three tweets as of right now.

More to Come

When I get a chance, I will see what I can do to put my twitter updates right here on my blog, in the right-hand column. For now, I continue to have a to-do list with over a dozen items on it. Back to work.

Miter Mania

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I did it. I fell into the mitered square frenzy, and I have no regrets thus far.

(A miter is a diagonal line at the corner of a rectangle, like the join you find at the corner of a wood picture frame. Right now it seems half the knitters I know are making sock yarn squares with a mitered diagonal pattern. They are joining them together into a throw or blanket… often buying new yarn to augment their “yarn collection” leftovers to make the piece large enough and colorful enough.)

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I have knit 170 pairs of socks (visit my LynnH SockTour to see some of them). Yes, that’s an incredible amount of scrap leftovers (especially when Brian and I both have small feet). I have LOTS of leftover sockyarn. Much of it is in cool colors or cool neutrals (gray).

For this project, I consciously chose to leave out the scraps I’ve got in pinks and plums, reds and yellows. This yarn collection starts at yellow-green and goes to a blue-purple, with mostly grays and turquoises in the middle. I’m liking it very much.

(For the record, colors next to one another on the color wheel are called “analogous” colors. The human eye tends to be attracted to analogous color schemes.)

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I have some lovely blankets already (two handspun/handwoven cotton from Ethiopia, two handwoven wool from Mexico, and a squishy handknit LynnH-sized wrap knit by Diana/Otterwise). I have no need for a sockyarn blanket, which is what most others are knitting when they say “miters.”

The blankets typically have squares starting with 31 stitches in the longest edge. Mine have 15, and they measure about 1.5″ (3.8cm) diagonally. It takes about 3 yards of yarn and about 10 minutes for me to knit a square on my project. It’s very clear when I have finished one puzzle piece, so I feel like I really am making progress, even when I only knit 1 or two squares in a sitting.

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I hope my project will become something other than a blanket (smaller). We will see if I can make my idea happen, before I talk too much here about dreams which are not yet reality.

Meanwhile, look at my pile of yarns. All of these were purchased by me, and in stash already. All but 3 of the skeins were previously used at least a little for another project.

Look at my starting piece of fabric. I love it!!!

Sad (not Bad)

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I didn’t post anything when the news was fresh, but leaving this unmentioned would be a bit dishonest with you, my readers. Belated is no less authentic…

Drat. Michael Jackson is gone. You might say he was the Elvis of my generation. I’m 50, he was 50, both born in 1958. The tail end of the baby boom kids, we were. I do not tend to be fanatic about celebrities, but as a dancer/musician/singer myself, I never ceased to be amazed.

Brilliant creative person. Singer/performer. Dancer/choreographer. Composer. Brilliant.

And clearly unhappy. I’m so sad for him. He gave many of us joy and pleasure, and how much of that was he able to feel for himself?

I’ve been sad for him a long while, for his obvious unhappiness. Now I’m sad for the loss, another brilliant creative person who has burned out far too early.

One day I was driving in an unfamilar city, and a radio station played 123, a very early, Jackson-5 recording. I had never heard it on good speakers before, as I had a little portable record player/radio with one speaker, when that came out.

I was just astounded at the quality and overall focus of the musical arrangement and performance. It did not show off just Michael, but it showed off the quality that continued to be the hallmark of his work.

MySpace has a page where you can listen to that number (and a few others from that era, including Ben, Got to be There, Rockin’ Robin and Never Can Say Goodbye), right here:

MySpace Page with Michael Jackson Early Recordings

Michael, may you rest in peace.

Two Performances Today (Wednesday)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

fabheftonesbarndoor.jpgBrian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) are excited to perform for two neighborly events today, both in Greater Lansing, Michigan.

At 4:00pm to approximately 5:30, we will sing at Allen Street Farm Market on the near East Side of Lansing. This is on Kalamazoo between Allen Street (across from the old school) and Shepard.

I drive past this building any day I work at Rae’s, it’s in the neighborhood between where I live and where I work. It is important to me, to be part of our community. Never mind, that it is a really fun crowd!

They have good, fresh, locally-grown produce and baked goods here. It is a wonderful spot, and today they have their Strawberry Festival!!! Woohoo! I am looking forward to this occasion.

At 7:00pm to approximately 7:45, we will sing at Meridian Historical Village, at Marsh Road and Central Park Drive, behind the Meridian Mall in Okemos. We open for Scarlet Runner Stringband (Brian is in both bands tonight).

I grew up in pre-mall Okemos, we moved there in 1962. I remember several of these buildings from when they stood in their original locations. It is always a pleasure to return to my “old stomping grounds,” as Brian would say. There are a lot of my mother’s friends who will be there tonight, and that will be fun.

If you are local and can make it work, please consider joining us. (If you go to Meridian, bring a chair and some bug spray, and you will be all set.) We would love to see you!

(Photo is us performing at Meridian Historical Village last year for the 4th of July event.)

A Baby Butterfly, Escalating Heat

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

When I went to Foods for Living (to buy organic ice cream, what an oxymoron) on Monday, another shopper stopped me outside the store. She told me that a butterfly had just emerged from its case, and showed me where.

I am so grateful that this “stranger” took the time to share her discovery. I would have missed it. What a wonderful sight. It was velvety, nearly black, and stood absolutely still as I took its portrait.

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Yesterday it was hot, but the sun hid behind thin clouds off and on. I was able to take a walk under the shaded sidewalks in my neighborhood in mid-afternoon, and be relatively comfortable.

Today it is 87F indoors and 92F outdoors (33.3c) and it’s just past noon. I think a walk should wait until after dinner this time.

We had watermelon last night. Today is all about iced tea! I like hot weather, but I do know how to slow down and find the shade when it gets this high.

Have a miraculous day. Maybe you will see a butterfly, too.

Summer!!!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

(Photos were taken several weeks ago in my neighborhood. Pure Spring Beauty. Yesterday the daylilies bloomed for the first time, and the “snowball bush” was full of white blossoms. The climbing roses started blooming Friday. In just a few weeks we have gone from glorious spring to hot summer. I am thrilled.)

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I wished for “true, pure Summer” in this blog on June 17. I got it Saturday. It has been warm enough to wear my beloved African caftans. Saturday, Sunday, Monday and now Tuesday, I wake up anticipating the choice of wonderful, colorful African clothing and iced tea.

Some days the heat is more difficult than others. On Saturday, we danced in Dearborn for a festival, and the heat made our polyester stretch costumes rather uncomfortable. Sunday, I drove to Grand Rapids to visit my Father in Law for Father’s Day, and since my car does not do well with the Air Conditioning running, it was a little warm in that car.

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But Monday I spent time with friends sitting outdoors, knitting, chatting and drinking iced tea. At twilight, Brian and I took a walk through the neighborhoods surrounding our home. Today (Tuesday) I expect to take another walk (alone, though usually I walk with friend Cynthia on Tuesdays). I hope I will be able to work from my porch/hammock for a while in the afternoon, before I go to Rae’s to teach my 6pm class on Scribble Lace.

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I feel sorry for the guys who are filling in the potholes on my street. That is hot work, and here it is noonish and 87.8F (31C) in my back yard. I like the heat, in the shade, on my hammock. Those guys do not experience this weather as happily as I do, I expect.

Yesterday as I drove past them (slowly), I rolled down my window and shouted “You guys rock!” They liked it, and shouted back. Driving down my street for the last many months, was something like playing a difficult video game, with no clear path to safety. You could hurt your car hitting the wrong hole. I wanted the guys fixing it to have at least a tiny bit of happy in their own too-warm-for-construction-work summer day.

neighborspring1.jpgI have zillions of photos still on my two cameras, and a to-do list that is unstoppable. There are things I can only do at home, and I need to get back to those.

I hope you have a good day, yourself. To my friends in torrential-rain areas, please keep safe and do what you can to keep yourself in as good a mood as you can. I hear that somewhere not far from here got seven inches (17.78cm) of rain! Let us hope the flooding does not hit too many homes and businesses.

Helen’s Garden

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I took these photos weeks ago, when the tulips just would not quit. Though things look different in the neighborhood now, I hated to let these photos go.

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Helen is a helensgarden4sm.jpgwoman who lives just a few doors down. She is in her late 80’s or even 90’s, but is a spunky one.

Just a handful of years ago I saw her out shoveling snow and being interviewed by the local television station after a big downfall. Her son lives with her now, and I don’t see her in winter any more, but I see her out in good weather from time to time.

Helen has probably lived in this house her full adult life. In a neighborhood where the lots are only as wide as a city bus is long, she has two lots side by side. One holds the house and driveway, and the other is a lovely garden.

Over the years, she has planted poppies, flowering shrubs, many bulbs, and other things that take turns flowering from the beginning of the growing season to the end. I love walking by her home, there is always a new surprise.

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My favorite feature, though, is Helen’s version of a Japanese garden. On the far right side of her garden, the neighbor put up a fence. Along that fence, Helen put down gravel and some large rocks. Upon the large rocks are smaller ones.

I understand that the rocks in the Japanese gardens she admired, are balanced upon one another only by gravity. Helen did not trust chance, and she cemented her rocks together. Go, Helen!

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I want to be like Helen when I grow up.

Celebrating Loving Fathers

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I find Father’s day to be a rough one. I lost my father when I was 14, and he was 40. He loved me deeply. He lived life with full passion, and I clearly take after him in that way. I still think of him often. I am glad I am clear of the love he held for me, and I try to hold that thought on this day.

My Father-in-Law is the only father in my life at this time. My husband is not a father, and my only brother is not a father, either. Brian’s father is a very good man. He is as different from my father as I can imagine, but also full of love, and a very quiet passion for living a life surrounded by those he loves.

I know I confuse my poor Father-in-Law often. I’m as up and down as Brian is grounded. I cry more often than other people and he is so compassionate I know he would like to fix it. I think, though, that he is delighted for Brian that he found a life partner who makes him happy.

Brian waited to age 36 to marry, and I’m pretty sure his parents were worried he would spend his life alone. We are so happy together, that both of Brian’s folks are delighted for him. I’ll never make full sense to them, I imagine, but they are accepting of my warts because Brian loves me.

I appreciate them fully, because they brought this wonderful man into the world and raised him up as a confident individual who is just the right partner for me. It’s great to find a parent who is accepting of, and happy for your life just as you have created it.

I want to mention one more story, a music friend who just makes me happy. When his son was born, his wife had a job which would be hard to return to if she took time off for the child. He, however, was self-employed in work that would be there any time he wanted to go back to it. He did the Mr. Mom thing and was home with his son while he was not yet in school.

When I ask this friend how his kid is, he just lights up like a Christmas Tree. His smile could not be bigger. He always tells me how well his child is doing, what he’s up to, what the child is passionate about learning at the time. I just adore asking him how the kid is. I come away with faith for humankind.

So here, today, I celebrate Fathers with glowing love inside them for their children. Whether it comes out explosively passionate like my own Father’s, thoughtful, joyful, quiet, any way at all… here I salute the fathers who do not seem to get enough press. The papers tend to focus on the rare bad case, and today I focus on the many who continue quietly enough to never make a news story.

I toast you all!

Purple Victorian House in Ohio

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

On the way back home from the TNNA trade show last Monday, I took some back roads and found myself looking at this magnificent home. It was on the corner of two minor highways in the middle of farm territory, somewhere between Columbus and Toledo. (Which is to admit I’m not much of a map person. I noticed the purple paint, not where I was!)

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The trip was a blur, but the photos, thank goodness, are not. I’m always happy to collect photos of yet one more purple house.

If you want to see a handful of other purple-painted homes I’ve photographed over time, I’ve put them in their own archive category: Purple Houses

Look what Brian Found!

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Fridays, often Brian and I both do not work during the day. Today we worked on some tidying up of the basement (ugh). He went outside for something and came back in having found this (and arranged it for the kitchen table):

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This is the first day of blossoms from our climbing roses, originally planted circa 1920-25. They are a pain for 11 months of the year, but we get about 4 weeks of glorious notice-on-the-next-block color. And that is all they need to do, to convince us that they can stay in our yard one more year.

Dinnertime, we are singing for a Fathers’ Day weekend event at a nursing home north of town. We have worked with this organization before, and it is sure to be a great time. They will have a barbecue and we will create a fun atmosphere.

I hope you have some sense of summer in your day today. (Australian readers, take heart… at least you can look at the roses while waiting for your own turn. And make summer in your heart, until then.)

Smoke Tree in Riverfront Park

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

On Tuesday, Cynthia and I went for a walk down the River Trail (AKA Riverwalk). As we passed by the east side of the Grand River in Riverfront park, we came upon this amazing sight:

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It looked like the tree had super-fluffy hair or something. It was positively soft, colorful and gorgeous.

I am sure I’ve never seen anything like this before. Cynthia recognized it as a “smoke tree.” It’s a pretty unusual one, however. There is one of these in front of Elderly Instruments, but it’s more green and does not have extreme puffs like this… the flowers are more sedate on that one.

Just to the left of this photo is another smoke tree. Its leaves are much more green than red/purple, and though it is flowering, it almost looks like a different plant altogether. The leaf shape is the only thing really identifying them as related. I never would have noticed the similarities without Cynthia’s assistance.

The Weather Report

Thursday it was warm and muggy after a day of rain and a bit of a chill. We had expected rain again and we did not get any, which pleased me. In the car I was a little too warm, in Rae’s yarn shop (where she has air conditioning) I was a bit too chilly. I’m all for problems with temperature that do not involve snow and ice!!!

I will never tire of summery weather. I hope you all had a great day, too.