Friday, July 31, 2009

Inspiration

My friend, Michelle, at Boulderneigh, has given my blog another award, and this one is particularly meaningful to me. It's the Bella Sinclair Award. I was not familiar with Bella Sinclair until now.

This, from Michelle's blog:
The history behind this award is powerfully emotional. The designer, Ces,
said, "I designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the
value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded
to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and
influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she
epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us." (If you click on the Bella link, you will learn of the great tragedy in her life, and hopefully count and recount the blessings in your own.)

Ces also says this - "I have chosen to symbolize this award with the Quercus lobata, or Valley Oak. It is a simple and unadorned award but heavy on meaning. The Valley Oak is a large handsome tree with a stout and sturdy trunk and widely spreading branches that form a broad open crown. It can reach up to a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 4 feet, sometimes much greater. It is the largest of the western deciduous oaks and is a handsome and graceful shade tree."

I'm not a fine artist like Ces and Bella Sinclair. I'm not a graphic and photographic artist like Michelle. I'm a writer and a fiber artist. I write about my wacky life and the knitting and yarn that I create, and about the path I have been taking back to myself. Michelle, thank you so very much for this. It means a great deal to me. And it's interesting, because in the past few months, a number of people have told me that I have inspired them in some way in some area of their life, and I find that to be just so amazing.

It's also amazing to me how the fiber arts seem to bring very disparate groups of people together. I would venture to guess that if Michelle and I had met on the street somewhere, we might not have become friends, for we lead very different lives, she and I. But I'm not so sure that we, ourselves, are all that different. I'm wilder than she is, and have been known to curse like a sailor (which horrifies her ;-)), and she is a vegetarian (OK - really, can you imagine me not eating red meat? I didn't think so.), and lives on a ranch/farm - but I think we both know and sense in each other that we share a lot of the same thoughts, beliefs and generosity of spirit.

The same is true with my dear friend Joyce - we could not be more different, but we delight in each other's company and laugh until we cry pretty much every time we get to catch up with each other (which because we live in different states is, regrettably, not often enough).

So we're not the same. Who cares? After all, as my late mom used to say, we are each just as God made us - and really, how boring would life be if we were all the same? I don't think it's ever up to us to judge in matters of the spirit, and isn't that what friendship and art and sharing are all about? We meet each other where we are at any given point in time, and share what we can of ourselves and accept what is offered from another.

It doesn't matter that we're different - We each bring our uniqueness to the table, and if what I have brought has inspired any of the rest of you in any small way, well Hot Dog! I think that's wonderful.

And Ces and Bella, I don't know that you'll ever find yourself here, but if you do, Ces, your love for your friend is so clear. And Bella, I'm so sincerely sorry for your devastating loss - I hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Crisis Averted . . .


This took 2+ hours at the salon, and three separate processes to fix. It's still a little . . . um . . . bright - but at least it looks like my coppery hair again, and bonus: it's a color that appears in nature and looks like it could have actually grown out of my head, unlike the hot mess on the left :-D

Glad you all got a laugh on me, my friends - I don't mind. It's good for the spirit :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There's Been an Incident With my Hair . . .

As my mom used to say, I . . . um . . . "encourage" my hair. "Encourage" was her word for doing her roots. This goes along with "A woman who will tell her age will tell anything." It's an Irish thing I think. Anyway, it was way past time for my hair's latest encouragement; plus, I've been saving some money by encouraging it myself for the past 8 months or so. In fact, I've encouraged it myself off and on for decades.

The only problem I've ever had was not of my own hand - it was at a very pricey salon and entailed THREE processes all in one day. I was not amused. But I digress.

Last night was the night and I did what I normally do, with what I thought were the colors that I usually use - because I've always mixed two colors every since they quit making the color that was my best color. I've always done this and there's never been a problem. So, imagine my horror when after the rinsing and the drying, my hair was not its normal beautiful shade of copper, but was F-ing FIRE ENGINE RED. CANDY APPLE RED. RONALD McDONALD RED.

ELMO RED.

HolyMotherofGod. I was panic stricken. I mean, what was I going to do???? This was not a rinse, it was permanent color, but I managed to calm myself down, and it was late and I was sleepy, so I convinced myself that by this morning, after I worked out and sweated a bunch and washed it five or six times, that it would probably have already faded enough to look OK, or at least not look as bad as I thought it did.

No.

HELL No.

No to infinity and beyond No.

I worked out. I sweated like a Big Dog, and I washed it multiple times, but it was quite clear to me that I could not go out looking like the local fire department. Plus, I was was running out of time. I need to get on the 10:07 train to get to my 12:30 class in time. So, I grabbed another box of color out of the linen closet, which was probably the shade I should have used in the first place and processed it again in the hope that it would tone down some and lighten it up and not make all my hair fall out in the process.

It didn't really do much - but I talked myself into thinking that it did enough that I actually went to the class I was signed up for this weekend. I figured that no one knew me there, and I had my cover story ready ("I lost a bet"), but, thankfully, they all had the good grace to not stare and did not have the bad manners to ask any embarrassing questions, although I'm sure they were wondering (as were a number of guys who were checking me out as I was walking back to the train after class - I mean, I'm reasonably sure they were not checking out my ass).

I took my White Sox hat with me, but had no desire to sit in class all day long with a hat on, so I braved it. Then, the train was 20 minutes late getting into downtown so I had to jump in a cab. And in the cab on my way to class, I rang my local salon, which is actually open on Sundays (thank you Jesus) and asked did they have a colorist there tomorrow who could see me early in the day and hopefully fix this. I must be living right, because they did, and I got an appointment at 9:00 a.m., with a guy that my cousin ME has used and likes.








The first photo was of me last week, and although it's quite faded, it's pretty close to my normal coppery color. The middle one (and yes, I got a haircut on Wednesday and don't I look like hell in this photo? I can't even believe I'm showing it to you - clearly it's been a very long day) is with a flash here in the office. It's about this dark, but it's way way brighter. In fact, the last one is what it looks like in the sunshine and is much closer to what it actually does look like. No wonder people were looking at me weird. And this is AFTER my attempted color correction. I mean, if I was 20, I probably could have gotten away with this as a fashion statement. But I'm not 20. OH. MY. GOD. How could I have done this?!?!?!?!?!?

So now, I'm waiting for tomorrow morning, and hoping my hair doesn't all fall out in the meantime, because, as you can see from the last photo, I don't have very much hair anyway (yes, that's my scalp- all those white spots are my head). Usually people can't really tell because I'm so tall that they generally can't see the top of my head unless I'm sitting down, but my hair is prematurely thinning. It's hereditary - my mom had it too - hence the really short haircut - all the better to camouflage it (really).


The ONLY positive about this is that I didn't do it on Sunday night, because I would have had to take a day off to get it fixed. There's no way I could have gone to work like this.

I'll take another photo tomorrow - please please please let this guy be able to fix this and condition the hell out of it so it doesn't break off like straw.

I guess I'll not be doing this again . . .

The Hair Incident. To quote one of my favorite authors, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Restless . . .

Is it that summer is more than half over? Is it the weather? I don't know, but I'm restless.

How amazing is this? My cousins, ME and R came over on Tuesday and trimmed all my front and side shrubs. I've been trying to do this for three weeks, now, and they wanted to borrow my hedge trimmer anyway, so they came over and did my shrubs before they went home to do theirs. And here's what's funny - when I came home from work on Tuesday night, I didn't even notice. I'm usually wiped by the time I get home and want nothing more than to just get inside and get changed and have some dinner and crash, but you'd think I'd notice something that major, wouldn't you?

But when I left the house yesterday morning - it was immediately clear to me that the shrub I call the Don King Viburnum had received a perfect haircut. I looked around and realized that they had done the entire front of the house (and the South side!). I thought I would cry I was so happy. You really have to prune the shrubs in July or you risk cutting off all the blossoms that will set by August for the next year, and I just haven't had the energy to do much yard stuff lately for some reason, so this was an amazing gift.

But I'm restless (now I have that Jennifer Warnes song in my head! :-D). Maybe it's that I haven't really had any days off this summer. I've been saving the majority of my leave to go overseas again this fall, and it's making for some very long summer weeks. I do have a little weekend jaunt planned for August, though - I'm going to Heartland. I have always wanted to go there, and it's only about an hour or two South of me. So, I booked a weekend and I'm going!

The City seems to be at its best this summer - with no major stretches of 90+ degree days and plenty of rain, it even smells good. There's something magical about this City. So aware. So vital. Yesterday, the breeze was coming off the lake, and I could smell the water all the way to Clark Street. It was wonderful - felt like I was stepping onto the beach instead of stepping off the curb.

I've had a really good summer, but I'm already thinking about fall - maybe because it's my favorite time of year. I'm not wishing away my days - but I'm thinking that because we've had such a cool summer (which totally rocks, BTW) that I have fall on the brain. Case in point: I cast on for a zippered vest last night while watching Torchwood (a guilty pleasure ;-))(and yes, I still have two other sweaters on the needles :-D). The blue fingering weight sweater is moving right along, and I'm blocking the Noro sweater today - I even did a few rows on my St. Bridget, but that's going to take some focus to get back into the cable pattern. Thankfully the inside rows are pretty easy on that one. Oh, and I have a new pair of socks on the needles as train knitting. So, there's plenty to keep me busy on the fiber front.

Anyone else getting that hankering for crisp mornings and sweater-worthy nights?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair . . .

It could not have been a more perfect day to go to the fair yesterday. Darthknitter was up for the weekend, on her way to school for a week, so she stayed with me and went up to the fair! Ooo - she took me out to dinner, too, at Fresh Starts. Can I just say YUM?! Thank you very much :-)

KniftyRed came with us, and we hit the road early to get to the fair just about when it opened at 10 a.m. Although the fair seemed to me to be smaller this year than in the past two years, it was still lovely, and there were a lot of favorites there. Linda, Jamie and Rachel (with me, the usual gang of four :-) ) met us there, and they brought their friend, Chris! AND we got to see some of our friends from The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling! It was a very fun day :-)

I think I'm just going to pop the photos in and go from there . . .


Pretty much at the front door, a bear named Frank - that's me, on the right :-D OK - I'm sort of crouched down - he wasn't really as tall as I am :-)



I know I've said this before, but who doesn't like Briar Rose?! It was great to see Chris of Briar Rose again! And this time, I fell in love with a particular skein of her Abundance (the worsted weight), but there was only one. So, lucky me, she's going to dye some up for me that I'll pick up at the Michigan Fiber Festival!! This photo got sort of washed out with my flash (in fact, my camera is acting a little cranky and I'm not sure why :-S). I have tried to adjust the color, but it's even darker than it shows here - it's destined to become "Two Hearts," from Lisa Lloyd's book, A Fine Fleece :-)

Who's that woman behind the Foster Grants?! Why, it's Tammy, the DarthKnitter! She of travel and Knit Together podcast fame. She fell in love with some Brooks Farm Primero yarn when she saw one of my Clapotis shawls made with it. Much to our surprise, Brooks Farm did not have ANY Primero with them at the Fair! Wow! But never fear, I destashed a little, and Tammy went home with two skeins of some darker blue that I had and had not used :-) Yay!


And here are two people I always love to see at the Fair - Janet and Leslie from JWRAYCO. They have some of the most amazing colorways - Leslie is the main dyer (I think), and her eye for color is so spot on. There's never a chance of what I am wont to call "clown barf" with anything she has touched. I picked up a beautiful skein of their sock yarn called "Scottish Garden," and I can hardly wait to knit it up. I know, I know - I said no more variegated sock yarn for me - wait until you see it. You'll know why it came home with me :-) I was also able to pick up some Addi Turbo needles from them - size 4's in the 47" length - I have a sweater button band to make :-) And, I wanted to introduce Tammy to them as they belong to guild not too far from where she lives. Yay!

OK, would be a fiber event if I didn't have a photo of Linda, the Chicken Lady and KniftyRed? I think not! Here they are modeling some of their beautiful handiwork. I forgot to ask Linda what vest she was wearing, but Kris is wearing her newly completed Celtic Icon. Cables, a hoodie, and a zip up the front - how perfect is that?!


Here's the majority of the gang (just minus Jamie and Chris - don't know where they got off to!) L to R, in the back, Rachel, Kris, Linda, Pat, Tammy, Janet and Ana. In front, Janet's daughter and friend of hers :-)


Here are Rachel, Jamie, Chris (doing the hair flip :-D) and Linda. They are laughing because I just told them to stick their "girls" out :-D


So - at just about the end of the day - and Kris decides she has to have a drop spindle called a "Trindle." Gale Rogers at the Gale's Art booth was selling them. I think Tammy got one too!


And speaking of Tammy - she was the biggest shopper of the day, at least in my car :-D Here's Kris, trying to make off with Tammy's haul!

And what did I get? Well, I was positively restrained! I'm serious! Tammy helped me make a list (GodLoveHer) the night before, and the woman has a photographic memory! So other than the Briar Rose and two skeins of sock yarn (I'm so serious - you HAVE to get some Briar Rose!) I pretty much stuck to my list, which was mostly yarn for a series of shawls I want to knit. Yay me!

Let's see - L to R, in the back, there are three skeins of Socks That Rock lightweight, in the Muckity Muck colorway, for a shawl (purchased from Toni from The Fold - it's always so good to see her!!). A little 2 oz. bump of Merino from JWRAYCO to play with, a Marudai for the Japanese braiding class I'm taking at Stitches in September. A beautiful pottery dish, and two braids of Gale's Art, Black Blue-Faced Leicester Roving in the Deep Blue Sea colorway. (I already had one that I spun up and was thrilled to get two more.). Then in the front, there's that skein of Scottish Garden - a little washed out with the flash (sorry), and a skein of Socks That Rock, lightweight, in the Carbon Dating colorway. Some Bergschultz buttons for the sweater I'm working on, and two skeins of Touch 2ply, from Touch Yarns in New Zealand - again, for a shawl.

We headed home at about 3 o'clock. I dropped KniftyRed off, and then Tammy and I made a stop at the Sports Authority so she could get some shoes, and then went to dinner and home. And after all that walking (and we both worked out in the a.m. before we even left for the fair), we were both beat! I subjected her to some Bollywood music videos (I'm not so sure she shares my and Linda's love of them, however :-D but she was a pretty good sport about it). :-)

Slept in today, and Tammy headed out on her way to her class this morning. I finished up the sleeve on a sweater I've been working on, and now just need to block it and do the button band - but I'm pretty much just relaxing, and figuring out what to knit next. It's just that kind of day.

Next month's fiber "event" for me will be the Michigan Fiber Festival - I'm already looking forward to it! :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Furniture!

Before I tell you about my new furniture, I would just like to thank you all for your amazing and compassionate comments on my last post. Thank you very much - I clearly struck a nerve for many, and I was really touched by everything you guys wrote.

My mom was still on my mind today because I bought new furniture! She would have loved the trip :-)

A couple of weeks ago, I realized how disreputable the sunroom furniture actually looks. This, of course, coincided with the Church Ladies coming over to knit that afternoon. My hair was standing on end way more than usual when I realized that the old blue sofa and chair - which were my mom's - really had to go.

So, I started looking. And today, I took a road trip out to Good's, in Kewanee. It's always worth the drive. Good's is a destination furniture store (no kidding). They have a German restaurant, which my mom always liked because it reminded her of our days overseas. Well, now they even have a B and B! It's about a 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive, and pretty much a straight shot West on I-80.

I planned to get cracking really early, but I must have needed to rest because I slept way longer than usual :-D I got on the road at 11 and was there by 1:30. Had a light snack in the restaurant, found a sales person and started the process. The poor woman. I pretty much made her show me the entire store. This is no mean task - there are about three buildings with multiple floors each, filled with pretty much every conceivable stick of furniture you could ever want in a million years.

Now - the color will be different - but here, after literally hours of searching is the chair that fits my ass perfectly. Yay! This furniture is for the sunroom, which is a sort of cottage style, I guess (for lack of a better description). The walls are a creamy shade called linen (with white trim), and the floor is white ceramic tile. The rug is a blue Chinese floral, and the tables are a sort of French Provincial color (not style) - antiqued, I guess you would call them. And the sofa and chairs are blue. My mom's old living room furniture. Well, I'm sticking with the blue theme. This chair will be dark blue leather. The ottoman will be the fabric that the sofa pillows will be made out of.

Speaking of which, here's the sofa. It's a sleeper (kind of deal-breaker for me - I really wanted another sleeper in this room). Again, it will be dark blue leather, with two fabric pillows. Not those exact two pillows - well, the same style, just different fabric :-) The feet on both the sofa and chair will be "distressed" cream/linen, in keeping with the rest of the off white/cream/etc. cottage style decor (foremost being the gigundous armoire that conceals the majority of my fiber stash).

So, that's how some of the money from the closing of my mom's little condo was spent, and I think it's money well-spent. I'm also spending a little on myself for a weekend getaway in early August (more about that another time). The rest stays in the bank.

It was a long day, but fruitful, and I'm pretty excited about getting these new additions to the house!

Last weekend I started ANOTHER sweater. I'm a maniac, but the two I have on the needles already are both blue, and I wanted something completely different. Plus, those horrid people at Webs sent me another sale email not too long ago . . . and really, they twisted my arm. Both arms. I ended up with two huge amounts of Noro Silk Garden Lite, and it wasn't even on sale. It's so unfair. ;-)

Anywho - I started on Basic Black, a simple cardigan. Of course, mine will not be black - and I realized, once I had finished the back, that it will not match up at all because of the way the Noro stripes. But I'm going with it and I'm going pretty fast - I already have the back and the left front complete, and am about a third of the way into the right front (just since yesterday). It's simple stockinette, but the yarn is knitting up nicely. Should be a pretty interesting sweater when it's done. At least I hope it will be.

Tomorrow - I have a date with my electric hedge trimmer . . . I'll see about documenting it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Place in the Heart . . .

OK - does time really compress the older I get? I don't know, but sometimes it really feels like it does. But can I just say that I'm kind of glad that June is over.

The stress of the never-ending real estate closing took more out of me than I realized - and I didn't handle it well at all, turning to food (one of my old coping strategies) instead of figuring out what was really up with me.

Turns out I like to be in control. :-D Those of you who know me in person can stop snickering now, thank you very much. But really - who doesn't like to be in control? Who doesn't like to have some sort of operating plan that keeps thing in some semblance of order? I mean, how else can you function?

I'm a very creative person - and you probably know that most people create out of chaos. That's how it works - and that's why my office at home pretty much always looks like a bomb went off. My sunroom, where most of my fiber art happens is much the same way - all kinds of fiber all over. But I still need to have some daily order in my life to allow me to abandon myself to the creative process, and June effed that up for me royally.

So - here I sit - and I'm so thankful it's July :-D I'm heavier than I was at the beginning of June, so that's my first priority, and my exercise schedule was totally off for most of the month. Too many nights of not getting to bed in time to get up to work out properly - including last night, actually, although Thursdays are my normal "day off" from working out, so I'm not having guilt about blogging instead of sweating this morning :-)

My second priority seems to be to divest myself of some more "stuff." I have some bags for the Second Chance Shop in the car, and this long weekend is going to have some time built in to it for sorting books. This is always a hard one for me. I'm of the opinion that you can never have too many books. Except I'm running out of shelf space - and I have a LOT of shelf space. So, it's time to take a good, hard look at what I have and make some decisions on what can stay and what needs to enrich someone else's home :-)

So - back to the business at hand this morning. I like to be in control. And sometimes I have a hard time letting go of the past. I wanted to be done with the condo I sold this week. It's been vacant for more than a year, and was on the market for just short of a year. That means I've been paying the assessment and the utilities for it as well as the mortgage and utilities for my own home for more than a year. I'm quite relieved to be done with that. But this was my mom's first "home" that was hers. We lived in a house for a short while when I was a child, but for pretty much as long as I can remember, we lived in apartments.

My mom bought this little condo and then set about making it perfect. She was like that - always of the opinion that you should fix something up to live in it, not to sell it. So, it became a very nice little place.

There are many, many happy memories there - and they flashed through my mind when I was sitting at that closing table. Like the Christmas that Linda the Chicken Lady came out. My mom made her a stocking and there were presents for all, and much laughter and wearing of bows and eating of Christmas food. Like the award my mom got from the village for the garden she created just outside her front door. Like her dog, Gigi, flinging herself at the mail coming through the mail slot in the front door (it was hilarious - I can't even describe it properly - but suffice it to say that there would be a mad scramble to grab Geege when the mailman got there every day :-D). Like the time my mom was ironing in the living room, and decided to put her sunglasses on. I have a picture of that one - ironing in her sunglasses. Like the fruit trees she planted out back by the parking lot that now give peaches every year.

This condo was the last thing that was really hers. She's been gone for a little over five years now. So maybe this was what they call closure. But I'm here to tell you that it doesn't matter how old you are, you never "get over" losing your mom. You just don't. You learn to live with it. You make a place in your heart for it so that you can go on. And go on I do. Every day. I'll be smaller by the beginning of August (hell, I'll be smaller by next week). My treadmill will get plenty of use this month. I'll get enough sleep. I'll have a little more control of my daily schedule again. And life will go on. That's how it works.

If you still have your mom, call her up and tell her you love her. And if your mom is gone, check that place in your heart. I imagine you'll find her there . . .