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Archive for May, 2011

Purple + Yellow = Green?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Simple kitchen/color math:

Red Cabbage (purple)  + Scrambled Eggs (yellow) = Green Eggs.

No Ham.

It was good. Sam was right.

(Prejudice comes in many, subtle forms. Love that book. Salute to the late Dr. Seuss.)

Portugese Knitted Rug? Inspiring.

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

(Apologies…  no photos in today’s post. I take my own photos, and in this case the project is someone else’s. In respect for their ownership of the images, I encourage you to click over to their site and see the multicolored glory!)

Memories of a Heady Fashion Time

Back in my “previous life,” I worked for a commercial interior design firm (circa 1985). We specialized in businesses but had a very few high-end residential clients. Beautiful things have always given me joy, and that job was full of visual delight.

I sat at the front desk. I got to open all the mail. In every day’s stack there were samples! There were rugs and catalogs of desks and chairs. But the best days were when the upholstery fabric sample books came in. Oh, the luxury!

At the time, my primary artform was sewing my own business attire. I made skirts and dresses, sometimes blouses, sometimes simple jackets (never a tailored blazer, I wasn’t interested).

These were the days of Norma Kamali and what seemed at the time “monster” shoulder pads. I loved the strong shoulders with the soft, wool fabrics flowing, draping, hanging softly from the shoulders. I wish I had photos of me in some of the clothes I had those days. I felt so alive, so vibrant, when I wore clothes which were totally unlike those of my childhood. They seemed geometric and urban.

During those days I discovered REALLY good wool, both at my job and for sewing. I was merely the front desk assistant (though I was learning how to use that new gizmo called an IBM personal computer which had something called DOS and something called WordStar on it for typing documents).

I didn’t have a glamor income. But I could figure out how to make an amazing fine wool flannel skirt for myself out of 1.25 yards of fabric and two Norwegian pewter buttons. I happened to luck out and live walking distance to The Fabric Gallery, a small but very high quality fabric store in Williamston, Michigan. She (Mesee Wilson, owner) had the finest wools I had ever seen, and the best collection of buttons I have seen in the Midwest. Oh, the delight! I had clothes better-made than those at any store I knew.

One Magnificent Handcrafted Wool Rug

At my work, we had one high-end residential client who got the most incredible rug I had ever seen. I don’t remember the details, but I remember it had pieces of fine wool cloth as its surface. It surely had its roots in a rag rug, but it was totally luxurious. I don’t remember if it maybe also had some pieces of good rug yarn in it as well, but the main effect was a fabric surface.

In the rug’s sample books I remember there were a few colorways for that rug style. I’m sure you could get it in a solid color or something with a more subdued look. I remember there was also a multicolored one which delighted me. And that was the one our client ordered.

As I recall (this was 25 years ago), something went really wrong with that rug order… it seems there was a fire on the ship and the rug got water damage if I remember right. It was one of those perfect items that took forever to custom-create and then deliver. I don’t remember many other Purchase Orders from that job (there were some custom-built tables that also stand out), but the rug has remained in my mind.

Memories Return, and Within Reach?

So today I was not feeling well and decided to catch up on my Sister-in-Love Diana’s Otterwise blog. And I found a link to a Portugese site about making knitted rugs with fabric strips as pile (link goes to English translation, if it doesn’t work for you, click the “Translate” button at the top of the page). I’m in HEAVEN!

(Note to knitters: In the photos on the linked page, she is purling with her yarn held around her neck, coming down on the left side. She’s making garter fabric by purling every stitch of every row. One could adjust this to knitting every stitch on every row but it would look a little different in the hands.

At first I guessed this was a lot like Thrummed Mittens from Scandinavia. However, I took a look at instructions and a thrum is more like a single stitch of stranded/Fairisle knitting where the smooth fluffy stitch looks like a knit stitch. This technique wraps a piece around a stitch in a two-move technique.)

How to Fit it In?

Oh, my. I have a bit of a to-do list already. Maybe I could start with an entryway mat? In August, after I get home from Sock Summit? Maybe. Meanwhile, my mind is happily concocting great ideas!

Being Gentle with Myself

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

I wrote recently about loving others, and saying so. Right now I’m preparing for the 5th funeral/memorial service in about 8 weeks. One service I did not attend… but loss is heavy on my mind right now.

I believe that every time you have a loss, you experience bits of previous losses. My most defining moment as a human, was the loss of my father. He was 40, I was 14. He loved me deeply. I say “I love you” a lot, because of that very sudden loss. (Photos: Daddy’s HS graduation photo, me in 3rd or 4th grade. Same eyes, same ears, although my eyes are brown like Mom’s.)

What I’ve Learned

I wish I did not know much about grief and mourning. What I have learned, is that grief is the set of feelings and memories we have inside us when we experience a loss. Mourning is the sharing of those feelings, memories, and the like… ideally with safe people who support you during the hard time. Without mourning, or the sharing with others, it’s easy for grief to stay a very long time.

When Daddy died, I didn’t sleep until the day of the funeral. I cried at the funeral. Then I felt I needed to get on with life and take care of my little brother, who had not even reached puberty yet.

Four years later, I cried for 4 months, in college. Nobody understood why I was so flipped out so long after the loss. My brother was in college, too, at that point, and I could finally let go. Grief does not go away when we ignore it.

Gentleness to Myself

Sunday I gave myself a “pajamas day” and it was good. I tend to feel guilty when I don’t work if I’m at home, but I did reasonably well with it.

Today I got out my fabric paints and fingernail polish, and decorated a camera-battery charger and a new tuner I got for my bass. A little color was a good idea on yet another rainy day.

(Thanks to blogger Ken Roberts who is @KenAndPaper on Twitter, who blogged today to just make stuff and not worry about how it works out! I needed a push. I find that I “doodle” best with paint rather than a pen or pencil. So be it.)

The charger was far too “vanilla,” just light gray and quite serious. The tuner? It’s a beautiful, intense blue. However, its name is “SNARK.” If you know me, that doesn’t work. I’m in the “snarky is clever but also mean” camp, and I work hard toward kindness in my life. In high school, we were all snarky to protect our egos. I’m done with that now.

So now the tuner’s name is: SPARK. Yeah. Much better.

Mighty Ukulele Day in Lansing, Michigan!

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Here is the last photo I took on Mighty Uke Day:

We crashed Emil’s Italian Restaurant on Lansing’s fine East Side. They were A-OK with us having a quiet jam session. It turned out that the other customers found us pleasant company, there were smiles galore throughout.

I grabbed my camera to take a photo, and I accidentally started a video. When I realized it, I kept the camera on. You can join us for the last chorus of “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” here:


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suggested a large group go to Emil’s late in the day (their kitchen closes at 11), and they always are welcoming. It was a very fun time. They even brought out a tray full of chocolate Mousse desserts on the house, which several people enjoyed.

The Day

We had a very fun time at Mighty Uke Day on Saturday, in Old Town Lansing. The Sir Pizza was absolutely packed, and there were many fine acts. We were honored to be on the calendar.

As seems to be the case, when music is involved we see all of Lansing. During that day I saw friends from Working Women Artists, #LoveLansing Twitter folks, Knitting, Kid Knitters, Allen Street Market, Contra Dancing… and even Brian’s family (his dad and brother came in from Grand Rapids). I even saw a belly dance friend on the way in to the pizza place. It was wonderful.

I must comment on the fine performance by Magdalen Fossum, age 10. Let me tell you… this young lady grew up in a performance space/cafe named after her. (Remember Magdalena’s Teahouse?)

She has been playing uke a long time. She loves playing music for crowds, and can be found at every outdoor festival she can find… dressed to perform, and singing her heart out all day long. She’s well-practiced and well-seasoned as a performer for real audiences, even at this age. Here’s a photo:

I loved her singing “Runaway,” it was magnificent. Her voice is much more expressive than some adults. And friends, she does a mouth trumpet. I’m impressed, and jealous. This young lady is going places.

We sang a well-received set, with a delightful surprise. Andy Wilson of Steppin’ in It was there (he and Juliana Tuell did a wonderful sort of 30’s-40’s jazzy set just before we went on). He joined us on our encore number, “Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine.” Brian has a YouTube Video of that song – click the link  if you want to hear it.

Here’s a photo of us with Andy from a hot summer’s day in August, 2007. That night we were at Dagwood’s (also on the East Side) for open mic night. One more oldie-goodie in my beloved Lansing!

Between the concert and the jam session, we viewed The Mighty Uke Movie. It was just incredible. Excellent. Funny… informative, and at times a tearjerker. We knew lots and lots of the people in the movie, from our travels to and from Ukulele Festivals all over the midwest & New York.

Mighty Uke Day: we sing 6:15

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

This is exciting! It is a full day of ukulele music.

We are at Sir Pizza in Old Town Lansing listening to a lot of fun and talented musicians. We (The Fabulous Heftones) will play at about 6:15 or 6:30 for about a half hour.

After our performance, we walk across the side street to 1210 Turner, to watch The Mighty Uke, a documentary about the resurgence of ukulele fans. It shows a lot of West Coast performers.

Movie admission is $10 but concert is free. Lansing, consider stopping out.

Grateful for Relationship

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Today I’m happy for a good relationship with my mother. We sure struggled with much after my father died. He was 40, Mom was 38, I was 14, Eric 12. Rough times. We learned to triumph over pain during those years, and many days were a struggle.

We almost lost mom about 15 years ago to lymph cancer. Now she wins ballroom dancing awards, rides her bicycle to exercise class and volunteers to teach kids to read.

At 76, she’s rocking life fully. Go, Mom. So glad we grew up long enough to appreciate each other. She’s  my best fan; attends our music concerts and my dance events. I’m grateful.

Images: Above, celebrating Mom’s 75th birthday. Me, Mom, Brother Eric Oscar, Mom’s beau Fred. At left, Mom modeling a shawl designed and knit by Eric Oscar’s wife, designer Diana Troldahl/Otterwise.

Say “I Love You,” if You Can

Friday, May 6th, 2011

We attended a funeral four weeks ago. Tomorrow, there is another. Saturday, a memorial service for a third person.

The tissue box below on the church pew is empty… I think it was the most poetic photo I took at the last one. If the tissue box is empty… well, that person was worthy of mourning.

I lost my father suddenly when he was 40 years old and I was 14. I’ve learned since then, that those you love are the most precious treasure of all.

I realize that some cultures don’t say “I Love You” out loud easily, or at all. Both Norwegians and Ethiopians are, as groups, more comfortable acting from love than saying it. I’m sure there are plenty others where this is just not comfortable… these are just a few I know.

Whatever your background, belief system, if you can… please say it, or at least show your love in the way you can. People can be gone in an instant. You don’t want to have regrets about what you did or did not say/do.

My life is happy, full and rich. I tell my own loved ones often, of my love for them. It’s one way I’ve grown since I had my own first loss… at such a young age.

Hugs to you. I appreciate you here, very much. I’ve written thousands of entries since 2002, and I’m delighted that you are listening.

Big hugs, LynnH