Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boogie Nights

The weather has been uncooperative from a photography point of view. I had several new skeins of yarn and a new hat to photograph for my etsy shop but it wasn't happening until the sky lightened just a bit. There is beautiful light today so I have been snapping pictures left and right.

Here is a skein of yarn that started as an antidote to the economic woes. One of the groups I belong to on etsy is the craftivist group and the current challenge is "debt relief". I was thinking this skein would cause the grey skies to clear up and people would put on a happy face, but somewhere along the line it started looking less recession special and more boogie nights. Oh well. If it has the funk, so be it.

But as a true believer in sharing the love, I recently also bought some gorgeous yarn from islandsweet who has just started to sell her yarns. Talk about sharing the love - thanks Shawn for letting the rest of us have fun too! I already started a hat with one skein she called Papaya. Yum!

And etsy had other bounty to share (well, if you paid for it). I had some labels made up for my hats. I like 'em.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Welcome Interruption

Several weeks ago, I pulled over my spinning wheel and decided I wanted to make something that didn't involve a lot of blending on the drum carder. I just wanted to spin and I wanted to make something in high contrast: black and white. So I grabbed some luscious organic merino and my bag of black icelandic uncarded locks and set to work. After I made the single, I decided to ply it with some thin singles that I had spun earlier -also merino but this time ever so slightly handpainted with a pale pink. The result was at once subtle and shocking:

I wasn't even sure I should try to sell it since it was, well, so unusual. In any case, I took some pictures, called it "Interruption" and put it in my etsy shop, and indeed, it did sell. It sold to a fellow etsy-ian Charte Chic.

Yesterday she sent me a note and a link to her shop.

Nice, eh?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Straight Outta Brooklyn

Every Thursday we head to Brooklyn for the day. F&L have what passes for a school day - they spend the day with five other children and a variety of teachers learning all sorts of things: Japanese, painting, games, writing, zoology, cooking. They were suspicious at first of this homeschooling school but it seems to be working out quite nicely.

At the same time, I have a nice little chunk of time to do with what I please. Mostly what pleases me is to spend some time at my Zen Center, which is right near by. This isn't a time for zazen but time to simply help out around the place with whatever needs doing. One day I clean bathrooms, the next time I mend some cushions that have split open, sometimes I make lunch. It hardly matters what I do. I am just happy to be allowed to spend some time there, among people who share an interest and commitment to the dharma. Plus, it has been quite fascinating to be around my teacher in his everyday life. Did I see him talking on the phone and typing on the computer at the same time? Yes I did. Take that to your zafu and sit on it!

Last week, as we drove down Flatbush Avenue heading for our day of activities, I happened to glance over and noticed something:

Yes! Etsy has it's headquarters right off Flatbush! All this time, there it is, so close by...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sweet Relief

Yesterday we blew off all our regularly scheduled activities and stayed home all day. It was a much-needed rest for all of us. I caught up on all sorts of things that had been lingering in the background waiting for attention. It always feels like a good thing to clear up that kind of stuff. And finally, at about 6 p.m., while soup simmered on the stove, I dug into my new wool and started spinning.


The merino/silk combo with some uncarded locks.

This one makes me laugh every time I look at it! It is some of the icelandic from Rhinebeck as well as some icelandic from a fleece I washed but haven't carded, and some green locks (not sure what breed they are from). The moose I purchased at Leisure World in Corner Brook. They were too large even for my wild flyer, so I had to (gasp!) cut the yarn after I spun in the moose, slip them onto the bobbin and tie it back up. I know - totally against every rule in the book! But this may be my absolute favourite yarn yet. I think I will call it "Moose, Undressed".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Some new additions via Rhinebeck:

Icelandic lamb, alpaca, and silk.

Icelandic and alpaca. Both from Frelsi Farm. A dream to spin.

Merino from The Sheep Shed. Lucy got a delicious red blend.

Merino and silk blend.

Merino. How could I resist this colour?

Lots of locks!

And this:

Patti brought this to me from the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. Thank you, thank you, thank you Patti!

All in all, some nice additions to my current inventory. Now I just need some time to spin this treasure!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's All Good


- Helen arrives in her sporty car, and in a brilliant parking maneuver, gets a spot for herself and holds a spot for us upon our return. Lucy, Helen and I head north in bright sunshine and lovely fall colours while Helen keeps us entertained with her vast knowledge of just about everything under the sun.

- We arrive just around 10 am hook up with Patti almost immediately. Hooray!

- Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere are Obama buttons, bags, t-shirt, stickers. Is it the wool that makes people so smart? And further, is it my imagination or is John McCain starting to have the stink of Bob Dole about him?

- Um....I forgot my camera. Sorry Shawn! I am an idiot.

- The sheep! They are the best part of the whole thing. I just can't get enough of hanging out with sheep.

- There seemed to be more natural colours available this year, less handpainted fleeces.

- Ravelry has been a revolution among knitters, as evidenced by the fact nearly everyone was wearing a ravelry button with their name on it.

- One of my favourite parts of Rhinebeck (after hanging out with Patti and sheep) is seeing all the amazing sweaters and shawls and scarves that people are wearing. I love these people.

- At about 4 p.m., we sat down for a warm cup of tea next to a large group of men who knit and spin. A LARGE group. It was pretty cool.

- At 5 p.m., we said our farewells to Patti, reunited with Helen and headed back to the city.

It was a good day.

Now I have to go take a quiz on Vedic chanting...but what I really want to do is dip my paw into my bags of yummy wool.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Calling Dr. Freud

Several years ago I found myself in a very unpleasant relationship with someone who I had thought of as a friend. Unfortunately, she began to use things I had told her in confidence against me and to do something that I found astounding at the time but have subsequently seen that it is not so unusual. She would do all sorts of mean things to me - send very angry, mean emails, try to publicly humiliate me, etc., and then she would turn around and accuse me of doing that exact thing to her. I guess I have been lucky that it took me nearly forty years to encounter someone like that but it was quite a learning experience for me.

I am thinking about that relationship after watching last night's debate. When John McCain self righteously tried to extract an apology from Barak Obama for the terrible slurs that his supporters have been saying about him, I had visions of my "friend". Even as he was spewing more of the same garbage about "paling around with terrorists" he was demanding a repudiation of something one - ONE - Obama supporter said. Same goes for the way some die-hards are managing to blame the Democrats for the financial mess. What? You didn't know that it was all their fault despite being the minority party for eight years? Where have you been? The Republicans are the victims, not the perpetrators. Isn't it obvious?

When I think of those confusing days of trying to understand what was happening with a friendship-gone-sour, I have worked hard to see how this person's unhappiness was the real cause of her sudden and vicious turnabout towards me. Someone that unhappy deserves better than petty anger, although at the time, I had plenty of petty anger to go around. But what about when it is a group movement? A group neurosis?

Over to you on this one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Bright Future

This is my new favourite shirt. It says it all.

Today also is a day of hope because it is Lucy's 10th birthday. Lucy truly embodies her name - the light. She has a kindness towards others that is innate and natural (except occasionally for her brother: she is kind but not a saint!). Her very first word was "thanks". Now I could be lying about that except that I had a witness who was just as amazed as I was. When she was about two years old, Lucy told me about what it was like to be born. She said, with all the conviction and clarity of a two year old who can't invent this kind of stuff, "I went down, down toward the light." Lucy is an excellent knitter and spinner and the drawings and stories seem to just flow out of her. I am very happy to know this ray of light who brightens up everything she touches. Happy Birthday Lucy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Practice Makes....More Practice

The yoga teacher training I am taking follows the yoga tradition as it has been shaped by Krishnamacharya and his students, especially his son and student, T.K.V. Desikachar and his two most well-known students, Sri B.K.S. Iyengar (creator of Iyengar yoga) and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (creator of Ashtanga yoga). One requirement of our training is that we must take a minimum of three classes in Iyengar and Ashtanga style (as well as ten classes in Vinyasa style, which is a kind of very Americanized version of what Krishnamacharya taught).

The process is reminding me of exploring the traditions within Buddhism. If, at first, a person gains an interest in "Buddhism", it isn't too long before they realize that they need to follow a tradition and find a teacher. If they are serious about it, they can't keep shopping around: they have to commit to one tradition. And that the traditions don't always agree or get along with each other. It becomes a little bit of a personality match-up test.

Yesterday, I went in early to practice Mysore style Ashtanga (a self-led series of asanas done independently but with assistance from a teacher who goes around the room helping each student where ever they may be in the series). I am just a beginner so I am slowly working my way through the primary series, each time memorizing a few more asanas and improving on the ones that I have already memorized. It is a very challenging tradition, both physically and mentally, and I imagine spiritually too, although I am such a beginner that I don't have much time for any moments of enlightenment in between trying to remember to breathe and trying to remember what my hands and legs and eyes are supposed to be doing as I flow through the movements. It is quite a workout of the whole self, which is why I really like it.

Later that day, as part of our training, we had a 2.5 hour Iyengar workshop. Iyengar could not be more different from Ashtanga. Deliberate and slow, there is almost no flowing movement. It is all about get good alignment and holding it. Although I see how it greatly improves my understanding of the asanas, it doesn't quite speak to me like the Ashtanga tradition. And vinyasa, well, it is starting to seem like neither here nor there (although fun).

But it is all a practice. We get to a place only to find there is another place waiting for us, and so it goes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Has the whole world gone crazy?

Am I the only who keeps wondering when McCain will put a stop to the lynch mobs calling out "terrorist" and "kill him" at his rallies? This is a strategy? They are unleashing something very ugly that will have repercussions beyond the election if they don't make it clear that it must stop now. But maybe they don't want it to stop?

I occasionally read a couple right wing blogs to keep myself in touch with what others might be thinking out there (strangely, moving between artsy communities in Queens and Newfoundland doesn't give one a complete picture). I keep waiting for these two to disavow the craziness, but not so far. Is the sacrifice of common human decency worth it for keeping right wingers in the White House?

In my peek into the brains of two people who lean further right than I do, I have read a lot about how the scary thing about Bill Ayers isn't his bomb throwing days but his current work as an educational reformer. Did you know that advocating for small class sizes and against standardized tests is part of a Stalinist plot against all that is right in America? Seriously! Somebody tell that to my brother-in-law! Actually, he also knows Bill Ayers, like anyone who has worked in educational reform over the past couple of decades. Wait....if my b-i-l pals around with terrorists and I pal around with my b-i-l, then am I one of those people who hate America so much that I would pal around with terrorists?

Can I move to Canada now?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thoughts are objects too

The Board of Directors of the building where we have proposed that the water tower cozy will go met last night to decide if they will allow us to use their water tower. We sent them a proposal about the project and now we are waiting to hear if they accepted it.

On one hand, my life is quite full. If the building refuses, the project may not happen and that might not be such a bad thing from the perspective of my schedule and my sanity. On the other hand, if they refuse, it will reflect badly on me since I had the contact at this building and suggested that they would go for the idea.

So I sit here, feeling my heart beating rapidly, sitting with a feeling of nervousness about the outcome. Then sitting with how it feels to imagine people of some power over my reputation really angry at me - a very queasy feeling. Remarkable really, how a thought can manifest in a physical reaction. Watch it, feel it, become it. STOP IT! No, no. Watch it, feel it.....

Monday, October 06, 2008


Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, student of Krishnamacharya and creator of Ashtanga Yoga.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

We four watched the VP debate last night, eagerly setting up the television and getting some snacks to carry us through the 90 minutes. Finn and Lucy have become political junkies (awh, just like their mom and dad) so we were all raring to go when it started.

As we watched, all I could think was "you're kidding, right?". Joe Biden, who can tend to blather and who is not personally one of my favourites, had a very tough job not to come off in a negative light given who he was up against, but he sounded very smart and very respectful. He hammered home some good points (ones that I wish Obama would make occasionally). As for Mrs. Winkin' I-may-not-answer-the questions-you-ask-me.... (did I actually see her wink at the camera THREE times???) felt painful to watch. She seemed so scripted and lightweight. Heaven help us, do we need another four years of a gosh, golly gee, folksy, droppin' my "g"s kinda person who says nothing, answers no question directly, and speaks as a puppet for the people really running the show?

After it was finally over, I thought Ok David Brooks! What can you possibly say to THAT? But I shudda known. Expectations were that Tina Fey would be on stage tonight, so when it was more of Tina Fey channeling Karl Rove, this was called success. Only one of the post-debate talking heads said the truth - that Biden was obviously better, knew what he was talking about and spoke in specifics. You could tell the other commentators were looking at him like: ix-nay on the iden-bay aise-pray. That guy obviously didn't get the memo.

It is hard to know if people really want more of this la la land stuff. Aw heck, that must be just my darn ole East Coast liberal elitism talkin'.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Objects in Blog May Be Larger Than They Appear

My desktop is covered in photographs because I have been trying to re-do my website (well, paying someone to re-do my website since I made such a mess of it) and trying to apply for a couple of grants. I thought that, amidst all the mess, there must be a couple of pictures to share here but most of them are of old projects that seem a little ho-hum to me now. I'm a fair weather friend to my past work, I guess. If it is not right there, giving me the shivers, then I tend to lose its phone number and cross the street to avoid having to say hello. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

But here is something that has been simmering on the desktop, calling out for my attention:

That's the water tower that may receive a custom made cozy. The board of directors of the building will decide on Monday evening if they are up for it. We'll see if I have cases of yellow yarn in my future (again).