Monday, January 26, 2009

We have had the pleasure of entertaining a friend's new kitten recently, so I can't resist these "children and kittens" photographs. Very high on the cuteness scale. They could also be called "The Anatomy of A Nap".

In between the extreme cuteness and final yoga projects, I managed to find my lovely spindle and practice using it in preparation for my Spindle 7 project....coming soon to a #7 train near you! Helen came up with a nice idea, which is to invite other spinners to come and spin at the same time. I think it would be pretty cool to have a subway car filled with people spinning. Are you interested? Let me know. I will keep you posted about dates and times. I know sometime in March I will be videotaping the project for a couple of days with a friend who is a film maker. It might be the best time for a subway Spin-In.

The fleece is from Carol Lee, who sells mill ends from Brown Sheep. It is a dream to spin. You know, because I NEEDED ten more pounds of fleece...

Here is a sneak preview of a late Christmas present for my brother-in-law. It is a sleeve of Veronik Avery's His/Hers Llama Cardigan from Knitting Classic Style.

People with long memories may remember that mother is working on Veronik's Marcel's Sweater for me and having a very rough time of it. She is almost finished....nearly a year later! Now, taking year to knit a sweater is not so outrageous for some of us, but my mother has been working on this steadily for a year. The pattern has been kicking her butt (not to put too fine a point on it). When I mentioned I was making this particular cardigan to her, I could hear her shaking her head over the phone. She was trying to be supportive but I could hear a certain amount of bitterness in her "good luck." My experience so far reveals this to be a pretty simple pattern but, for my mother's sake, I won't dwell on it too much.

But, as usual, functional knitting takes a back seat to other efforts.

Lion Brand Yarns was so happy about the Water Tower Cozy project that they invited me to make their next window display for their fancy new store, Lion Brand Yarn Studio on 15th Street. Maybe I will keep the concept a secret so it will be a surprise, but look at what arrived last Friday...

A big box of Lion Brand yarn! And I had only just gotten rid of the big box of Lion Brand Yarn that has been sitting in our living room since November. Only this box contains almost no yellow...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moving Right Along

It seemed like it would never arrive but of course it has. We finally say good-bye (and some other things) to the Bushes and hello to the Obamas. Will we be glad to be rid of them in four or eight years time? Perhaps. There is much hard work ahead. Yesterday I ran into an old friend who delights in shocking people with his very provocative views. When asked if he wasn't a little bit happy at the change in administration, he kept saying no. No, not because he will miss Bush but because the problems Bush is leaving behind will infect us, as a country, for years to come and even a smarty like Obama will not be able to fix them easily or quickly. He compared the current state of the US to Romania after Nicolae Ceauşescu was removed from office - a country devastated by the greed, corruption and megalomania of its leader. A comparison that is a bit heavy-handed but I got his point, which is that is does matter who the president is and a lot of damage can be done very quickly under the right circumstances.

I don't think we are quite in a state similar to post-Ceauşescu Romania, but things are pretty well screwed up. We are celebrating today that a thoughful, even-tempered, brilliant person has taken charge. But I think it needs to be a very short celebration. There's too much work to do.

And speaking of work...I am in my last couple of weeks of yoga teacher training (how quickly we can go from saving the country to downward dog!) and they have piled on the assignments and final projects and exams and class observations. I have a bunch of things to share but they may have to wait until this crunch time passes.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Taste of Old New York

During the boom years in New York, the city became somewhat unrecognizable to those of us who arrived in the very early 80s when it was just starting to climb out of its 1970s "Prez to City: Drop Dead" period. The trains were terrible - late, dirty, always breaking down. I remember the conductor of the N train saying "This is an N train, N like in Nicotine", which did  seem the most appropriate way to describe it at the time. There were many homeless people living on the streets and the neighborhood around my school was dangerous in a way that seemed thrilling to my 19 year old self - full of squatters and drug dealers but also of underground clubs, cheap bars and restaurants and store front galleries. It was a grubby, run down place but it was a place that had possibilities.

With the financial boom, those possibilities became realities, I suppose, to some, but they were people who had lots of money and their ideas about what was possible were different from mine. The Bowery, where my school is located, has become a glitzy avenue of wealth, amazingly enough. The East Village and Lower East Side have become a playground for young and wealthy Europeans. Or, they were that before it all fell apart. In a rather shockingly quick amount of time, I have been seeing glimpses of "old New York". I'm not saying this a good thing or that it isn't revealing of a high level of human suffering. No, I know the economic collapse is hitting the most vulnerable among us first and hardest so it is nothing to cheer about. But I would be lying if I said it didn't bring out a wee bit of nostalgia in me.

So, with a hat tip to Marilee for bringing this to my attention, I offer up this optimistic bit of old, pre-AIDS, pre-crack cocaine, pre-boom New York, with all the possibilities it inspired among the rubble.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Do You Live in Minneapolis?

If so, then please go see the following exhibition at the American Swedish Instituteand tell me all about it.

Radiant Knits: The Bohus Tradition
January 23rd – March 29th, 2009

The exhibit Radiant Knits: The Bohus Tradition will be on display at the American Swedish Institute from Friday, January 23rd through Sunday, March 29, 2009. The exhibit focuses on the history of the Swedish Bohus knitting style and the Bohus Stickning industry (1939–1969), and will feature original garments knitted in the Bohus style. This will be the first time that Bohus couture garments have been on exclusive exhibit in the U.S. since the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The Bohus Stickning organization came into existence in the province of Bohuslän, Sweden, during the Depression era of the 1930s. During this time of financial hardship, a group of women—most married to unemployed quarry workers—sought out Emma Jacobsson, the wife of the governor of Bohuslän, hoping to find a means of supporting their struggling families.

Bohus Sticking was thus born out of need and produced beautiful hand-knitted garments while helping the women support their families financially. From Sweden, the fine knitwear designs spread internationally, including to the U.S., before the operation ended in 1969. Bohus Stickning had grown from the home-based industry of its origin to become a successful business of international reputation.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The World Upside Down

It was back to yoga teacher training this weekend after a lovely break for the holidays. Unfortunately I came down with the same nasty cold that plagued me at Christmas so I was not up to snuff, especially on Saturday. But I soldiered on, mainly because I had no choice - between the Sheep and Wool Festival and the water tower cozy, I have used up all my time off.

On Sunday we were working on inversions in asana training. I freely admit that inversions are the weakest part of my practice. Even in advanced classes it is easy enough to chose alternate poses and avoid the dreaded headstand and so I found myself on the verge of teacher certification without ever, ever in my life, doing a headstand. That is, until last Sunday when (in an advanced class), I thought of how ridiculous this situation was and I forced myself to do it up against the wall. And I did it! Later that week, I did it again in a class. And yesterday, the instructor singled me out for purposes of illustrating How to Teach Headstand to Someone Who is Afraid of Inversions.

To his credit, he has a healthy respect for the benefits of that fear and only used me as an example because I had spoken to him about wanting to improve my inversions. And my fellow classmates were lovely and supportive and so happy for me because - lo - I did balance in the middle of the room in headstand for about 3 whole seconds!

But you know, each time I went back up, I felt less afraid. I am still a long way away from doing headstand away from the wall with confidence and safety but now I know I can do it. I will do it!

And if an old lady like me can do can too!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

DIY Public Art

Like all things internets-related, I have mixed feelings about facebook. I joined up about a year ago to join the Bay of Islands Freecycle group but never did anything else with it. Lately, I have been more into it, finding long, lost high school friends, staying in touch with some people in Newfoundland, etc.. It has been fun but I always have a weird sense of guilt around it. Does it feed a negative kind of self-involvement? I am not sure. I have similar feelings about this blog - so much public airing of personal thoughts! Can it really be a good thing?

Today, in my trolling around facebook, I found a link to a website started by an artist called Eve Mosher. She makes public art projects that "have actions built into them" as she says in her statement. Her works are usually encountered in unexpected ways on city streets or elsewhere. She is largely interested in ecological issues and how they affect our social/cultural life. One recent project is called HighWaterLine. To quote from that project description: HighWaterLine was a public artwork on the New York city waterfront that created an immediate visual and local understanding of the affects of climate change. I marked the 10-feet above sea level line by drawing a blue chalk line and installing illuminated beacons in parks. The line marks the extent of increased flooding brought on by stronger and more frequent storms as a result of climate change.

Beyond really enjoying Eve's work, I am intrigued and even feel a little relieved to find that she not only has a presence on facebook, but maintains a blog, has several websites and even twitters (I really don't know what that is, but it seems very now). It occurred to me that it made sense for her to have this strong online presence since her work is all about engaging with a broad public, provoking dialogue, and acting as a catalyst for further actions- the sort of thing that the internets is perfect for (will we have to stop saying "internets" once W is out?). Here is one of her websites that I especially like: DIYPublicArt.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Tech Help

Has everyone seen this already? If not, please look. No assistance required.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Favourite Websites

Occasionally I check into the Canadian Weather Service to see what's happening in Corner Brook. It gives me a small sense of connection to my favourite place that I miss so much. The other day I noticed that they had a new feature on the website. Webcams! Now I not only can read about 5-10cm of snow, I can see it!

Check it out: the Trans-Canada Highway just outside of Port aux Basques and looking west from Pynn's Brook.

I could watch for hours.

PS. Please join me in welcoming baby Finn in to this crazy, wonderful world. His Nan is right proud!

Friday, January 02, 2009

For the past couple of years I have set some very deliberate new year resolutions, and to a large extent, have been fairly successful in keeping them.  This year I feel less certain about what needs to be done.  I feel a little like I am emerging from a haze and my eyes are still adjusting to the bright light and clear shapes.  The haze, or perhaps blur is a better word, was caused by activity.  Someone suggested to me over the holidays that I have been in a "manic phase."  I was slightly insulted but it had the sad ring of truth to it, too.  And what goes up must come down. One is bound to have a crash after working at that pace and filling up the hours with enough activity for half a dozen people.

In this life I continually feel a pull between wanting a life of quiet contemplation and loving a life crammed full of everything.

When I was a first year art student, my drawing professor introduced me to the work of Giorgio Morandi. I was fresh out of my rural Massachusetts town and knew nothing about art history beyond Georgia O'Keefe (for some strange reason her's was the only work that my high school art teacher showed us images of). Each day of art school brought with it new revelations but especially memorable was the time when the class was shown images of Morandi's still life paintings. It was the first time that I understood that the whole world could be seen in the simplest, most mundane objects.

Morandi spent most of his adult life living in a couple of rooms in Bologna, Italy. His daily needs were largely cared for by his mother and sisters. He painted, drew and etched the same bottles and jars on the same table for decades. Through that, he gave us everything we need to know.

His work had and has a profound affect on my thoughts about art and about life. The Metropolitan Museum just had a rare exhibition of his work and in the frantic level of activity, I missed it. It seems slightly unbelievable that I allowed that to happen, yet it did. Obviously I didn't truly realize the lessons that Morandi has to offer us.

But you see, I also love the work of Annette Messenger. Annette Messenger leaves nothing out. She collects and saves and makes things at a rapid pace. I actually don't know that for sure, but seeing her work, one feels the activity of it. The first piece I ever saw of her work was one in which she collected little, dead sparrows after accidently stepping on one. She collected them and then knit little sweaters and sometimes booties for them. It was so unbelievably touching and funny and beautiful.

Her exhibition at MoMA in the mid-1990s was like receiving permission to make art from exactly what you have and about exactly what you think and feel. Forget all that art school clap trap - go for it!

So, while I was tempted to make my new year resolution the ability to say "no" more often, I have decided not to set that as a goal. My resolution this year is not make any resolutions whatsoever. Mindful like a cat dozing outside a mouse hole, just let it happen.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009

Let me respectfully remind you, 
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed! 
Do not squander your lives....