Friday, August 28, 2009

Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art. (don Miguel Ruiz)

We get a lot of interesting graffiti in my neighborhood. There are some pieces that I would love to take pictures of, but I don't. Mostly because I know enough of the surrounding gangs to know that I don't know enough. And my photography really isn't good enough to chance offending a graffiti artist.

Lately, though, there's been a different sort of graffiti popping up in the area. These pictures were taken in the parking lot of Wendy's. But I've seen similar work in the parking lot of Starbucks and CVS. I say similar because while the style is the same, each portrait appears to be of a different person. It's all very cool.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've learned that you can't have everything and do everything at the same time. (Oprah Winfrey)

I know I'm a day late with the Wednesday WIPs, but I was out of commission yesterday with some type of bug. Sorry. But see what monoknitomy will get you? I'm already at the lace border of my Spun in the City shawl. Just thirty more rows and I'm finished. I was told that the Ulmus pattern was an easy, quick knit and Charity was absolutely correct. I really like this pattern alot. Provided, of course, that it blocks out properly and doesn't remain a tiny scarf instead of the comfortable shawl I'm anticipating. (I really hate blocking things! Almost as much as I dislike felting. In a perfect world, I would be able to knit things the actual size they are, instead of hoping they end up the right size in the end.)

I've also gotten back into reading full time. It's helped that I figured out how to hold a book open so that I can knit and read at the same time. (I really can't help being the way I am. I tried therapy, but it didn't help.) You may have noticed my book blog on the sidebar. If you click on it, you can see all the books I've read lately. I'm not so sure that it's a good idea sharing this, since I'm currently in a junk-romance rut (well, that and the Stephanie Plum series). But I'd love some ideas of readable literature. And if anyone knows of a good book discussion group (or wants to form one, maybe on facebook), I'm all for it! I did start a lending library for staff at work. I set up a corner of the supply room with about 30 paperback novels that I've finished. Anyone who wants a book can take it, simply by leaving another book in its place. Staff wasn't too sure, at first, if they were interested. I think they thought I'd only bring in stuffy classics or maybe some nerdy science fiction. But I have a pretty good selection, and my "graphic" romances shocked the heck out of them. (I may have trashed my reputation, but it was totally worth the look on some faces!)

My other big accomplishment was getting internet back into my home. I lost it when our PC crashed, so I've been trying to get by with going online at work, Starbucks, and whenever I could grab a hotspot from the neighbors. But its back, and I celebrated by watching a couple of episodes of Dr. Who. I love the doctor! I have one more episode of season two left, and then I'll start the first season of Torchwood (thanks, Cari!).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reading is no substitution for action. (Colleen Wainwright)

Today's been fairly quiet. At least in the sense that there's been no major excitements either for the good or bad. Part of me is relieved. There's been so much stress lately that a quiet day is long overdue. On the other hand, I'm bored out of my mind!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spare no expense to save money on this one. (Samuel Goldwyn)

Cathy and Orlando, 1984

It doesn't seem possible that my little sister will have been married for 25 years in October. I spent the afternoon with Cathy and my mom, helping her plan out the celebration. Not that Cathy really needed our help; once again she's surprised us by having everything under control. (You would think by now that we would expect her to be fully competent, but unfortunately for her she'll always be my baby sister.)

I think I'm also surprised that I won't be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary. And even more surprised that that fact no longer upsets me.

Which means that even though I might feel a slight tinge of envy, it's going to be wonderful watching my sister and her husband repeat the vows that they made back in 1984. So let's party!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. (Mark Twain)

For today's Friday Favorites, I thought I would share my top ten favorite books of childhood. I can't take credit for this idea; I read the post by Laurie on her blog, Crazy Aunt Purl, and thought it was wonderful. Of course, as a lifelong bookworm, my "Top Ten" is actually closer to a list of twenty. And that's only if I count "all the books by..." as just one. My list would have been much longer, but I put a two minute limit when writing it out in order to keep it reasonable.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. Meg was the coolest, ever! Although I kept hoping a little of her brother's intelligence would sink in.

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. You can read these for the fun of it, or read them again for deeper meanings. Either way, I loved the series.

Anne McCaffrey. Everything she wrote, but especially the Pern series and the Talent series.

The Blue Lagoon, by Henry De Vere Stocpoole. I read, and reread, the book long before the movie (with Brooke Shields) ever came out. The book was much better than the movie.

The Bobbsey Twins books, by Laura Lee Hope. Actually, I think this was a favorite only because my grandmother nicknamed my cousin and me the Bobbsey Twins. So of course I had to read the entire series. We were nothing like the characters, of course. And we're not the Bobbsey Twins any longer. But I still think it's they're wonderful books.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. This book has become family legend, thanks to my story-telling abilities and gullible young cousins.

Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel. Of course, the entire series is included. And it wasn't strictly a childhood favorite, since some of the books came out after I was married. But still. I've read these over and over and over, until I had to buy a second edition of the books because the first was so tattered.

Dr. Suess. I still read these, with the excuse that they're for work. After all, who can resist Green Eggs and Ham, or The Cat in the Hat. I can even quote my favorites from rote!

Erma Bombeck. Okay, I was in love with her columns more than her book (If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I doing in the Pits?). I wanted to be Erma Bombeck when I grew up; her writing was funny, easy to read, and real.

The Family Nobody Wanted, by Helen Doss. This is my all-time favorite book. I wish I could find a copy of it; I'd love to read it again as an adult.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg. I wanted to hide in a museum.

Georgette Heyer. I was a very romantically-minded teenager, and these were like candy. They're probably the reason why I still adore romance novels.

Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous. I think this must have been mandatory reading for teenage girls back then because we all read it. It was exotic and threatening, and our parents would have had a fit if they realized we knew anything about it. At least, that was the impression I had.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. I adore all five books in this triology. Douglas Adams' work is absolutely brilliant.

The Jungle Books
, by Rudyard Kipling. Classic. And the first bedtime stories that I remember hearing.

Louisa May Alcott. I loved everything she wrote, from Little Women (I wanted to be Joe) to her poetry (I'm nobody, who are you?).

Watership Down, by Richard Adams. An absolutely amazing story. I have an urge to reread it, just to see if it is as good as I remember.

Zane Grey. All of his books, although Stairs of Sand was my favorite. I was given a complete set of his works as a gift one year, and they turned out to be much better than I had expected. Not great works of literature, by definitely appealing to a romantically-minded teenager.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Persig. The first time I read this, it was only because I was trying to impress a guy. The next time I picked it up was because there wasn't anything better around to read and I was desperate. I've been reading it annually ever since.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make new friends, but keep the old. (Traditional Round)

One of the Friends that I'm still looking for.
This was taken in August 1980.

I have developed a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Quite frankly, the whole thing surprises me. I didn’t need Facebook, and I didn’t want Facebook. After all, I had Ravelry which fulfilled my need for both organization and socialization.

Then I learned a friend that I had been searching for was on Facebook. So I joined, just so that I could talk with her. (Ironically, we’ve had only a couple of quick messages; nothing like the long, intense heart-to-hearts that I had envisioned.) By the end of the first day, I had become friends with several family members. By the end of the first week, I was friends with a dozen people I hadn’t seen since high school. I’m continuing to renew lost friendships as well as finding it easier to keep in touch with current ones. Facebook provides an even easier internet media than emails, my previous communication preference (being almost phone-phobic).

I’ve learned that it is easy to become addicted to Facebook. I find myself sneaking quick peaks throughout the day (even at work!) to see the latest status updates. Recently one group of my Friends held forth against another, lamenting against the constant moment-by-moment updates. While I can agree that it may not be necessary to mention what you’re doing every step of the way, I’m firmly in the camp that enjoys regular updates. I especially enjoy status updates that are cleverly written. For instance, one Friend recently posted that she thought “today was the tomorrow of yesterday.” (Although I did feel duty-bound to correct her, since today is obviously tomorrow’s yesterday). Another Friend frequently posts a line from an appropriate song lyric; I don’t always catch the song, but I enjoy trying to puzzle it out.

I also enjoy seeing everyone’s photos. I may not have talked to someone in over 25 years (I still can’t believe that it’s been that long!), but I will ooh and aah over pictures of their family and their vacation travels. And sometimes, I just sit and stare in amazement at the talent – I’m referring to an extremely talented artist Friend that if I wasn’t in love with him in high school, I certainly am now; wow!

But that also leads to the hate part of my relationship with Facebook. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I find myself almost jealous of the Friends I have online. I read about their jobs, and their families, and the wonderful things that they’re doing and it makes me feel inadequate. I have a Friend who fulfilled her dream to be an actress, and has even written a play that was produced off Broadway in NYC. I have a Friend who just came back from a fishing trip in Alaska, and who manages to spend a good part of his time (at least according to the status updates) fishing. (I love to fish, but I don’t get out nearly as often.) I have another Friend who is a belly-dancer. (She’s much closer to being a gypsy than I am.) My Friends all seem happy, well adjusted, and relatively stress-free. And it takes a lot of reminders to myself to remember that, online at least, so am I.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spinning in the City

I've been very remiss in posting pictures and details of my trip to NYC. It's not because I haven't wanted to -- I had a wonderful time, learned way more than I was prepared to, and totally enjoyed visiting with my daughter. But life has been, let's just say "interesting" since I've been home (and I mean that sincerely -- for starters, I was filing a police report at 11:00 pm Tuesday after flying in, late!, at 10:00 pm).

Insubordiknit's Workshop was fantastic. Jacey is amazing, both as an instructor and as a person. She's planning a workshop in Sarasota next spring, and I plan on going back just because I can. She was that good. For me, the best part was her emphasis on making balance, knittable yarns. I love the look of an art yarn, but what do you do with it? Jacey showed us how to do the art techniques so that the produced yarn can be used in normal knitting. For instance, she had us spin 20-30 yards normal before starting a technique in order to cast on when knitting. (This was a major concept for me!)

These are the first two yarns I made at the workshop. They're not perfect, but I'm extemely proud of them. Especially since I thought I was finished after the first yarn -- spinning thick and thin almost did me in! But Jacey was very patient with me, and made sure that I understood what to do before moving me along with the others.

Core spinning, using fancy batts, was my favorite technique. It was a total ah-hah! moment, and I love the smoochy result.

I have a lot more pictures from the trip. Since I've already posted them on Facebook, I'll just share this link and you can go check them out if you want. They'll probably also show up in bits and dabs in future posts as well.

On the knitting side, I'm trying to be monogymys. I've just worked on my souvineer Ulmus in the City shawl. The light blue is handspun that I plied just before my trip. The navy is 'J. Knits Superwash Me' from my last visit to NYC, bought because the colorway is 'New York.' I love the pattern, and I have to remember to thank Charity from the Boca Knitting Group for recommending it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Food is the most primitive form of comfort. (Sheila Graham)

I decided I had done enough talking about once a month cooking. So I finally took the plunge. Now my freezer has over 20 meals ready to eat...

For quite a while I've been talking about starting a once-a-month-cooking program. There are a lot of great resources on this online. My favorite is 30 Day Gourmet. It takes a little bit of planning, but you buy in bulk and cook in quantity. Since it's just as easy to put together two (or three) pans of lasagna or casserole as it is to do just one, you save time by freezing extra meals. The trick is to sit down and do the planning.

This weekend, I finally took the plunge. I'm tired of picking up fast food almost every day. But a hectic schedule and a demanding job just doesn't leave enough energy at the end of the day to even think about fixing a meal. The sad thing is that I actually enjoy cooking. So Sunday I made out a two week menu, including several freezer meals from Fix, Feeze, Fix (another wonderful resource and my latest "favorite" cookbook) and went shopping. I spent just under $200 and managed to cook up over 20 dinners plus enough planned leftovers for lunches. The savings alone was worth the effort!

Tonight as I was heating up spagetti (one of our favorite recipes, One-Pot) I finished bagging up the last of the meals. My freezer is full, and life is good.

Of course, Taco Bell may be forced to go out of business now...