Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring . . .

I don't know - can you tell how hard it's raining? The flash sort of makes it look weird, catching the drops mid-fall. But it's pounding down here, and has been for hours - and it's only 6 a.m.

Still - rain makes me happy. Always has, and now that the basement usually stays dry through storms, it makes me even happier.

There is a lot on tap this weekend. I had a lovely dinner with my cousin, ME on Thursday night. She and I might as well be sisters. We've been close our entire lives and even though we now live close to each other, we don't see each other enough. But we made time to have dinner this week, and went to one of our favorite places, Fresh Starts and had a nice girl's night out. The topic of being overwhelmed and not doing those things that nurture and feed the soul and spirit came up, and because we talk so much about pretty much everything, I didn't give it further thought, until we were talking on the phone yesterday and ME said, "so what are you doing this weekend to nurture your spirit?"

Both of our Sundays had freed up and I said that in my quest to divest stuff that I would like to get a really good start on my office - the place were I do most of my writing. Since she seemed so interested, I asked her if she would like to help me, fully expecting a quick, "No Way!" But she said yes, she would like to help me. (OMG WHAT LUCK!!!!!). You probably don't know my cousin ME, but she's in charge. She's the oldest of five children, and although she's younger than I, she's always been pretty much in charge. Of everything :-D And she's far more minimalist than I have ever been. This means that I'm going to have a pretty spotless office in pretty short order.

She's already figured out that we're going to need staging space ("what about the living room?" (we settled on the guest room)), and levels ("do you have some plastic shelves we can put in there?" (I'm looking to see if there are some in the garage that are clean enough to use)), and that pretty much EVERYTHING should come out of the room (oh no - I think I talked her out of that - the closet, yes, the major furniture, not so much). I managed to get out that I like the furniture placement, there's just too much of everything else in there.

See what I mean? Yeah - no one's ever really sat on that sofa (and it's looking pretty good in this photo - how sad is that? :-D) and I continually lose things on it (multiple iPods, books, whatever - if I can't find something, it's the first place I look).



And the yarn is taking up two shelves here in the closet that I really need for other stuff.

And the magazines - made unmanageable by the LOAD of old Spin-Off's that I picked up for a buck a piece at Missouri this year. I need magazine storage.

The books are over flowing . . . (those are mostly knitting and spinning and beading books)


And, um . . . my desk is pretty much non-functional. And those filing cabinets are pretty full.

And there's just paper EVERYWHERE, mating and making MORE paper. (And yes, that IS my Girl Scout sash - why do you ask?)

I mean, I'm an artist. I create out of chaos. But things are now, obviously, out of hand.

I have turned in to my mother.

God help me.

And so, on Sunday, we tackle the office. There will be stuff on eBay. There will be yarn on Ravelry. Check back for photos. It promises to be a pretty hilarious day, and I will get to spend it with ME, which is always good for the spirit :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

All the Things I've Always Wanted to Do . . .

My friend, Michelle at Boulderneigh wrote about bucket lists this week. She wrote about them in a different way - how she had seen notes about them on a blog; notes about dreams deferred and dreams lost, and decisions regretted, and that she found it very sad.

I never called my list a bucket list, and I'm not sure I ever wrote it down - most likely because I've had one since long before there was a film of that name. And frankly, I kind of find the term "bucket list" to be almost offensive. Like one is racing to do stuff before dying, like you waited until the last minute to live your life and then had to cram it all in - what a horrible way to live that would be.

No - one of my best friends died in his early 30's, and I learned, at a relatively young age, that I had better start doing all the things I wanted to do - that life is short - that life is meant to be lived - because I didn't want to be a person filled with regret (a person with a bucket list). As mentioned, I'm not sure I ever actually made a list, but forever ago I started doing all the things I've always wanted to do. Some of them have included:
  1. Driving all of Old Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica (what an awesome trip that was!)
  2. Getting a tattoo. . . ;-)
  3. Buying a Gucci scarf (it's so beautiful - an extravagance I have never regretted)
  4. Learning to play the bagpipes (oh yeah)
  5. Reading most of the great books that I somehow got out of college without having read (Ernest Hemingway - awesome; Henry Miller - not so much)
And as my life has gone on, there have been things that have occurred to me - not necessarily on a list - that I knew were for me, that I knew I wanted to do, like
  1. Learning to spin
  2. Traveling to Morocco
  3. Retreating to Iona
  4. Writing a blog
  5. Getting physically stronger
I learned at a young age to dance like no one is watching. And somehow, recently, I feel like I have lost sight of that. My life is filled with so much that I am exhausted most of the time, and I find myself not doing the very things that nurture my soul and spirit so that I can face the world every day. Maybe it's months of physical therapy that I've just gone through (and that have taken nearly all my available time). Maybe I'm still trying to do too many things. I don't know, but I'd better figure it out because I've come to the conclusion that I cannot continue as I've been. And so, these next months on the path to myself look to be filled with decisions. Decisions on what to keep and what to toss, both metaphorically and literally. More than half this year is gone (Christmas is closer rather than farther ===:-O), and as the dog days of summer arrive, I'm looking at my life . . .

To begin with, it's time to go through the house and see what needs to go. What can benefit someone else now. Clearing my space has always been uplifting for me. It's time to carve out the time to make music again. To read other than just on the train on the way to work. To explore all my avenues of creativity, and to have time to just "be" rather than constantly "do." How this is going to work, I'm not quite sure yet - but I know that it will be a mistake to not rein in the craziness that seems to have become my life. I've always wanted control over my life and it doesn't feel that way to me any longer - it feels like outside forces are controlling me and dictating my time and schedule. I would prefer to do that myself, thank you very much.

I've learned that at each stage of life stuff comes up - stuff you thought you worked through and dealt with comes back again to be examined and worked through. Again. (It's bothersome. Really.) And so, here I go - continuing on my path, figuring it out as I go along.

I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe I just don't have the energy I had at 25, that maybe I'm not physically capable of doing everything I might want to do. I feel sad when I think about that possibility, because I have never liked to feel limited in any way. My mom raised me to believe that I could do anything - that I could compete on any level with anyone (man or woman) and that's how I have lived my life. And now - well, now I'm not so sure that I want to continue to compete all the time for every effing thing. Not sure exactly what that means . . . but I guess I'm going to find out.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Hot Here . . .

I had what Julia Cameron calls an "Artist Date" this weekend.

What's that, you say? Artist Date. It's a real thing :-) It's when you spend time with yourself doing something you love to do. In my busy world, too often I don't allow myself time to just play. Remember when you were little and the whole day stretched out before you? You could do anything, or be anyone, and all you had to do was make it home before dark (or, as they say here, "come in when the street lights go on").

I don't always have the luxury of playing all day any more, and Ms. Cameron says they only "require" an hour. You don't have to spend any money - I've had some pretty great artist dates with origami paper and an hour of time :-D But this weekend was the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair - now in its 4th year. The first year was truly awesome - the second a little wibbly wobbly, but has gotten consistently better each of the successive years. This year, new location, all air conditioned. Yay! Because, as I mentioned, it's hot here . . . sweat through your pants hot. Yeah, I bet you loved that visual ;-)

I decided to take some classes this year. I signed up for two mini-classes on continuous strand weaving. I've taken class for this before, and I actually have two looms already - a 3' triangle, and a 3' rectangle - but these classes were for a 3.5" diamond and a 7" square. Jane Grogan was the instructor and she was very good. I really enjoyed it - in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I spent part of my afternoon weaving more diamonds and made a little amulet bag that is just about ready to felt! I made a woven dish rag, which is really interesting (I wove another one today). Since I have knit my share of them, I was intrigued to weave them - they are thinner in weight - and are in the dryer now :-) We'll see how they come out. (They came out great!)

Anyway - I drove up on Thursday night and got myself settled in the hotel, which was very nice, and the bed was very comfy. I figured that if I was going to get up at the butt crack of dawn, I could at least already be up there and could go to the gym rather than fighting morning traffic on the tollway. It was an excellent plan. Franklin Habit and I were both in the gym Friday a.m., sweating like mad!

Class on Friday morning, with a break for some quick shopping, and then more shopping after lunch. The food this year - not so great . . . oh well, you can't have everything :-)

You (and my stashbusting compatriots) will be happy to know that I only bought 4 skeins of sock yarn, one of which I've been trying to get for a year! I did buy some New England Shetland because it appeared to be a very good substitute for Rowan Donegal Lambswool Tweed and I needed just one more color in that for that Kaffe Fassett coat I'm going to make. I fell for a braid of green 100% Targhee top (I can never resist Targhee - or green it would appear), but that's all the yarn/fiber that came home with me. And really - I think I deserve props for that!

I did, however, find an AWESOME hat that FITS MY HEAD. I have a really big head (lotta brains ;-)). Seriously, my mom's head was 23" and mine is 22 7/8" When I find a hat that actually fits my head, I'm a happy camper. When I find one that fits and is in my colors, well, that's amazing- and when I find one that fits, in my colors, that looks way cute on me, well, that's just awesome, and cause for serious celebration!

Picked up two Lucets for making I-cord (those trident looking things in the upper photo), and got another necklace from Carrie Notari - This one on a domino, with a picture of Klimt's The Kiss - he's one of my favorite painters. And how kewl is it that she custom made it for me. It's a design she's had in the past and I wanted one. Thanks Carrie! I'm jonesing for some of her Route 66 stuff, too. The turquoise bag is the little bag I wove on my diamond loom! And there are some sawdust buttons and a kewl key ring with an exploded diagram of a sock. Everything is sitting in a beautiful ash wood bowl.

I guess what I got the most of this year, were books and patterns. Stuff to break down this stash of mine :-) Plus, the books I got were anywhere from 15% to 30% off, and who can resist a book sale? Not me :-)

There's one other thing I got - it's in that blue bag. It's a rug hooking kit. Everything you need to hook a small star. I have wanted to learn this technique for a long time, and this is a beginner's kit - everything I need is inside except for a frame or hoop, and I have hoops here at the house. I wanted to take class in this technique, but it was at the same time as my other two classes. Maybe next year :-)

My heels and feet gave out around 3:30 or so, and so I sat down and worked further on the diamond loom. It was such a great way to spend my Friday. Plus, it was not nearly as crowded on Friday as it was on Saturday.

I headed back to the hotel when everything shut down around 6. I had dinner and then curled up to finish The Girl Who Played With Fire. I highly recommend this Millenium series by Stieg Larsson - I'm tardy to the party with them, but they are just riveting.

An entire day-long Artist Date. Yay Me!

On Saturday, I spent most of the day hanging with Linda the Chicken Lady and Jamie the Yarnsnob. Ran in to a few more friends there - it's almost impossible not to run into people you know :-) We all headed for home around 3, and I made it back out to my house by about 4:30.

And now, the laundry is finishing and I should already be in bed - sometimes I like to draw out my Sunday nights. This is my last 3-day weekend for awhile, and I wanted to make the most of it. I hope yours was as much fun as mine :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summertime Blues . . .

I feel like I'm humming along just under the radar lately.

More than a month of never having a weeknight free really has taken its toll on me. Now, however, it's looking like I might be released from physical therapy next week! Yay! I have a followup with the foot doc, and although I'm not pain free yet, I actually got to walk on the treadmill a little (as mentioned before) and that's pretty major.

I've been spinning - tried to do the "Tour de Fleece" (that's where you spin every day of the Tour de France), but although I did get a few days in a row in, work, working out, PT, life - those things took precedence this week. Oh well - I'll know next year to join the Lantern Rouge team (those who can't spin every day). I did finish some merino - it's got major twist but I like it . . . This is wool that I picked up a couple of years ago at Missouri. I bought it to spin up to do some continuous strand weaving. I've got some other bumps that go with it that will be next on the Saxony when I finish the giant bag of fiber I'm spinning for Tour de Fleece. I've been working with the Saxony wheel to get to know it better - and then I plied this on the Lendrum ST. Maybe not the brightest idea . . . also it's not a good idea to ply at night. The light just isn't good enough in my sunroom then.

I also had to finish off this before I put another Tour de Fleece fiber to finish back on the Lendrum ST - This is Fiber Optics Merino/Nylon superwash pencil roving in the Sunset Colorway. I got it from Toni, at The Fold - but not at the shop, last summer at the Michigan Fiber Festival. I think I have about 309 yards . . . not sure if that's enough for socks, but I managed to spin it thinner than usual so I'm going to give it a try - probably a short cuff ;-) This was done all on the Lendrum ST. I like to spin the kind of yarn that I like to knit with, which means high twist, worsted style spinning. It also means that I'm not sure I'll ever get 400 yards out of a 4 oz. bump of fiber. The twist takes it up. I suppose, however, that practice makes perfect ;-) So I'll keep on keepin' on.

But I'm restless and exhausted at the same time . . .I'm trying to cut back on all the stuff I keep seeming to do, and trying to listen to my body in all areas . . . today I stayed in my jams all day. I'm thinking some of this is residual travel backlash - does that happen to you? When I take a trip of the awesome proportions of my Morocco trip, there's sort of let down that lasts awhile . . . if you ever worked in the theatre, it's like when the run ends and all of a sudden you don't have to be there every night. It takes awhile to decompress from that.

And there are things and I want to be doing that I'm not right now - the universe seems to be doing its best to teach me patience. I'm not the best student . . .

But I had a quiet day today and I guess I really needed it - I was scheduled to go to a NASCAR race with my friend, C (she loves it!), but the ticket situation did not work out, and so although it would have been awesome to see her, when it didn't come together, I blocked off the day to just spend with myself. I did manage to put down leaves this morning. I ordered some from Bluebird Greenhouse - and Libby is always so generous, sending me a couple of gift leaves along with the stuff I paid for. I did put probably 14 of these down on Tuesday (and there's a plantlet of Champagne Pink in there that needs the shelter of the dome until the leaves get a little more chlorophyll), but all the rest I did this morning. Took me about an hour. That's going to be a LOT of plantlets . . .

Decided to make an absolutely awesome coat by Kaffe Fassett - and of course the Rowan yarn is all discontinued. If you have any Rowan Light Weight D.K. lying around that you want to destash, PLEASE let me know how to contact you :-) I managed to get quite a few of the yarns already - which was pretty amazing - but a number of shades of the Light Weight D.K. are proving a little more difficult. I'm actually thinking that once I have a skein of it in hand that I might be able to replicate/approximate it and spin it myself - PatsyZ's class in Decoding Designer Yarns that I took in Missouri could come in handy after all!

What is it? Is it that the summer's on the downward trend? I never even got my hammock or gazebo furniture out . . . nor the grill . . . all are still resting in the garage - and it seems sort of fruitless to mess around with them now. Normally I would have done all that during the time I was in Morocco, and then when I got home, it was cold and rainy for weeks, and now, as an old friend of mine used to say, "it ain't hardly worth it." Wow - I'm thinking I'm just kind of blue . . . it will pass. It always does :-)

Oh - my last wonderful thing came from Morocco - an amazing, inlaid box. I think I might have mentioned that it was damaged in transit, but a little bit of wood glue fixed it right up. I'm handy that way :-) It's sitting on the dining room table on some amazing fabric I bought in a Meknes souk until I figure out the best place for it.



Here is the inside of the box. I guess it's sort of a jewelry box, but I'm thinking of it as a kind of memory box - you know, where you keep your personal treasures - stuff that means nothing to anyone but you, pictures of your old lovers, souvenirs of days gone by - you know, stuff like that . . . ;-)



I'm figuring out a Moroccan corner in my living room, but for the time being, the lantern continues its residence on the potrack in the kitchen. Amazingly, it looks totally at home there - not out of place at all - maybe I'm just used to it :-D Still, I'm looking forward to having it hanging in the corner in the living room, and having it electrified to cast its shadowy light through all those cutouts . . . going to be awesome!

I'm looking forward to next weekend - I'm headed up to the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. Last year, Darthknitter came up on her way to a class, and she and Knifty Red drove up with me and we had big fun meeting up with other friends and, of course, shopping.

This year, I'm going by myself. I signed up for two classes on Friday morning, so I'm taking the day off, and I'm going to stay up there overnight to have a little more time on Saturday to stroll around their new digs at the new Lake County Fairgrounds. I'm really looking forward to it. Kind of a mini retreat for me :-) It's not like I need yarn - but I so enjoy going, and I think it's important to support the fair. We just don't have many of these types of events in Illinois and I want it to stick around!

Guess that brings me up to date. The content here has been a little prosaic lately - I guess there ain't no cure for the summertime blues . . .

Friday, July 2, 2010

Holiday Randomness . . .

Hmmmm, there's a lot to tell - and the last of the Morocco photos to share, and it's Friday and I have a FOUR-day weekend! Wahooo!!!

1. I got some exciting news yesterday - I'm going to be teaching at the Missouri Fiber Retreat in March 2011! Yes! It's true! And I couldn't be more excited. I put a proposal in to teach knitting socks on two circulars (top-down). This year they had only a few knitting classes, and people often ask me about knitting socks on circulars - and I've knit a million of them (only a slight exaggeration ;-D), and I've taught plenty of people how to knit and even taught beginning spinning. They are taking a chance on me! And I'm just hopping from foot to foot in anticipation, and it's MONTHS away :-D So - if you're going to Missouri next year, and you're tired of double-points, there is room for 8 students in my class (OMG - I LOVE saying that :-D)!!!

2. I managed to score a little bit of Wollmeise today in the grab bag listing. That was pretty wild. Have no idea how long it takes to get here - probably a few weeks. And some will be in its way to me courtesy of my friend, Karen, at The Knitting Patch, who hit the jackpot a few weeks ago and shared. She rocks :-)

3. I got off work early today :-)

4. I have great hope that my feet have turned the corner, so to speak. Yesterday was the first day in about a year that I had an amazing foot day. Even my physical therapist commented on my walking in to the facility and then while doing some deep tissue work on my heels. Plus, I got to walk for 8 minutes at 2.0 mph on the treadmill yesterday. Probably seems like nothing to you, but to me it's the serious light at the end of a brutally long tunnel. Please keep a good thought for me. My feet might finally be healing.

5. I broke my party fan. . . this is very disturbing. I had to buy a new on on eBay.

6. A week or so ago I got caught in the tornado that whipped through the Southland. It was WILD!

7. I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece this year - photographic evidence will appear here :-D

I'll leave you with this:

Come with me to the Kasbah . . .