Sunday, May 28, 2006

Two prayer shawls given today

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm giving two prayer shawls today at church. The light blue one was like knitting a Muppet. It's a novelty yarn that is very hard to work with, but makes a thick, dense fabric. It's an eyelash type yarn, which means the body of the yarn is a very thin chain-stitched thread with fuzzy stuff attached to it to make it very bulky. The fuzzy stuff is like blue eyelashes caught up in the thread.

The second one, which is multicolored in shades of the ocean, is perhaps my favorite thus far. It's a scalloped lace called fish-tail lace. (Notice the watery theme going here?)

I made both of these specifically for the recipients, who are both on staff at my church.

Because I wanted to get them finished in time to present during first service this morning, I didn't get to bed until 5:30 a.m. and then got up again at 7 a.m. Dazed and confused? Yes, even more than usual. I'll be going to sleep as soon as I get home from church after second service, probably about 12:20 p.m. or so. For now, I must run.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A more casual summer outfit

Sometimes in the spring, PDAs just want something cute to wear. It's a shame the battery on mine is dead. She would have loved this because it fits her so well.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sometimes a girl just needs a new dress!

If one Palm dress is good, two has to be twice as good, right? This one is a little less refined, made in a bulkier yarn called "Red Sprinkles" (note the little color dots mixed in.) The flap on this one is a full-length, full width cover fastened with a gold button.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Today's creative exercise

Doesn't everyone need a hand-knitted cover for their Palm? This is a prototype which was requested as a commissioned job. I'd make some changes, but for making up the pattern as I went, I'm pretty happy with it.

This isn't the yarn I bought last weekend. I had this in my stash. This is also a deeper wine color than the photo shows. For some reason wine is a hard color to capture digitally.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

When I work out the bugs in the row with the buttonhole, I'll be able to do all kinds of small accessory pouches and bags. I'm pretty pleased with it, overall. It has a lace edge on the flap and a silver button closure.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Beware the badgering Mama Bird!

First she squawked at me from above. Every step I took was shadowed by her hopping among the branches, maintaining a position directly above my head. The longer I walked through the yard, the louder, more persistant and more rapid were her noises.

I glanced up and saw a certain, determined, hate-filled stare coming from the black Mama Bird.

This was Saturday afternoon and Mama Bird was guarding a fledgling baby who was on the ground, hiding in the garden, testing out its wings and trying to fly.

I was washing the porch furniture, taking off the winter's layer of dust that was thick enough to show cat's paw prints. Silently a neighborhood pup had slipped up behind me. I think it was at least part shar-pei, but it was not terribly wrinkly. My instincts told me his persistence was probably a result of the baby bird being nearby. I hadn't seen the baby bird but knew Mama Bird's noise indicated he was nearby.

Several times I shooed the dog away, finally having to clap my hands to get the attention of the man across the street. Apparently he was the dog's owner and called him home.

So I started investigating to see if I could tell where the baby was. This one seems to have a knack for getting tangled in my rose bush, which seems like it would be very painful. Finally I located him when he flopped his wings.

I caught an unflattering shot of him finally on the porch. He's right there at the corner behind the hose.

Today it has been quiet outside when I've opened the door. No flapping. No Mama Bird noise. I hope this means baby has gotten the knack of it and has flown away from my front door.

Unfortunately, as I was going out for a few minutes this evening, I spotted another bird in the yard, dead. It was one of the neighborhood doves. It was positioned as though it had flown beak-first into the ground, kind of like it was pecking for worms. I don't know what happened and I was too creeped out to go look at it very closely.

My yard is a dangerous place for birds, it seems.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Breathe and let it happen

Lately I've been pondering the concept of creativity in our everyday lives.

So often we are blind to the fact that virtually every thing we do every day is an expression of our creativity. The tasks have become mundane -- routine. But think about every little household chore, for a moment, as a creative act. How you make your bed is an act of artistry. It expresses the way you think of your personal sanctuary. Whether you smoothe the bedding, fluff the pillows, or just get up and walk away from it, your bed is the one place you know is YOURS. (Thinking about this has caused me to be more diligent about actually making my bed as an act of personal kindness for myself!)

Washing dishes is a sensual expression as well. The hot water, mixed with the detergent, is a nurturing environment that creates order from chaos. As much as I rebelled against being the family dishwasher all the years I was growing up, I've since come to appreciate that calming ritual. Just a few minutes of scrubbing, rinsing and wiping put things right again every evening. It propelled the rhythm of life forward and marked an end to the outside day and the beginning of the inside night at home.

And so it is with the daily chores. But few of us think of those things as "creative". Instead, we use that word when we talk about "making things" or "writing books."

And so I would refer all of you to a post on one of my new favorite blogs, Posie Gets Cozy. The author, Alicia, is an icon of my dream life. She lives in Portland, Ore., and makes beautiful things which she sells online and in a shop there. Beautiful things, like aprons (and y'all know how I loves me some aprons!)

In this post, she quotes Annie Dillard about the process of writing. Go and read it. It will be the best use of your next few minutes, trust me. And when you finish, GO DO IT! (OK, OK. Spend some time investigating her blog first. It's well worth it just for the beauty of it.)

Posie Gets Cozy

Saturday, May 13, 2006

2006 Fiber Rendezvous

No, no, no, not the kind of fiber that makes you regular! This was a festival of the kind of fiber that creates beautiful fabric. The kind from an animal's fleece!

This was a festival held at Fort Braxton, next door to Hillbilly's Cafe and Bed & Breakfast. It's across Highway 66 from the Round Barn in Arcadia. It was the perfect location for this experience.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There were alpacas there -- a 2-year-old brown one (obviously going through puberty...) and two of his herd mates. One is all white, with blue eyes. He is deaf. He's been neutered to stop the genetic anomoly. He's a great fleece animal.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There was also a baby lamb that the kids loved.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Lots of pretty yarns, rovings, fabrics and buttons.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There were lots of demonstrations showing how fiber comes from the animal, is carded, washed, dyed, spun and then woven, knitted or crocheted. The kids even were able to try out several techniques.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I had a blast and even came back home with my own addition to the yarn stash, purchased at a true bargain price. I picked up 11 balls of Phildar Pegase 206 for less than $2 a ball. That was the posted price, but it was the end of the day and I had $16 in my pocket. The vendor let me take the whole bag for that and then we counted and discovered there were 11 balls. She was happy and I was thrilled! It's a little more of a mulberry wine color than the photo shows; a little darker than it looks here.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, May 08, 2006

Creative pursuits

I've been away from my blog for several days because I've been busy with other things. Friday night I had a dinner for my singles group, so I was cooking and cleaning for that. Dinner was supposed to start at 7 p.m., at least for gathering and visiting. My friends are not punctual people, as I warned a man from church who had invited a couple of people to attend. My newcomers were there at 5 til 7. Ohhhhhh boyyyyy! I felt bad, unable to stop and visit with them since I was in the thick of final preparations of the food. I did offer them some tea and invited them to sit and visit in the living room while I finished up, hoping someone else would quickly join us and help with hospitality.

Next person to arrive was the associate pastor of my church. Unfortunately, that was about a half hour later, because her car was rear-ended by a massive utility truck at the major intersection near my house. Uh-oh. That will put a damper on an evening every time! But it did give the three of them something to talk about while I was desperately dodging raindrops as I finished grilling pork tenderloins outside. Agh!

Two more guests arrived -- at 8 p.m. One of my best friends and a friend of hers, whom I had not met. OK, let's tally the score: 6 people at my house for dinner, three of them strangers.

We enjoyed our meal and had a good conversation talking about jobs -- current job woes, most difficult or unusual jobs we've had -- and Famous People We Have Met.

One had met the actor who played Steppin' Fetchit when he was an old man on disability in Chicago. He never received any royalties from his film work and was impoverished. A sad commentary on our past.

A couple of my friends are accomplished musicians who have had great encounters. One had performed with Mason Williams and Vince Gill. Her fiance (who arrived at 9 p.m. and who I promptly forced to sit and eat) has played at the Grand Ol' Opry, on the Today Show on NBC (noting that he really liked Al Roker), had played with Tommy Newsom (of the Tonight Show band under Johnny Carson) and has had two tours with his band in Germany, where they are a pop favorite like David Hasselhoff.

My claim to fame for the discussion was receiving a Tiffany vase from Doc Severinsen as a wedding present many long years ago. He was a close friend of my former father-in-law.

It's a fun discussion and ice breaker. One of the newcomers relayed stories of his great-grandfather's escape from Hungary during World War I. He hopped a train and managed to get passage on a steamer to Canada. Later he entered the U.S. through Minnesota.

We talked until after midnight when the yawns finally took over and everyone gingerly headed for their cars through the rain. I stood on the porch for a while waving goodnight, smelling the rain and listening to the sounds of the night.

Saturday I slept until 4 p.m. Even when I accepted that's what the clock said, I couldn't get my bearings. I didn't know what day it was, even. I stayed up a few hours before going back to bed.

Sunday morning I had to be at church at 7:45 because my handbell choir was playing for both services. It's a rather acrobatic undertaking which is simply exhausting, in a good way. Most of the exercise comes from setting up the tables and trying to negotiate a place to stand and another place to sit in a very, very overcrowded choir loft. I hope some of the logistical problems will be solved in an upcoming building program which will include a redesign of the sanctuary.

Also on Sunday we had another dedication of prayer shawls. Two of mine were given, one to a man facing surgery today and another to a child with pneumonia. Here are some photos of what I've been working on:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Purple heather prayer shawl.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Closeup of fringe

I've also finished this baby blanket, which I started in 1979 when my childhood friend was expecting her first child. Um, when I found it in the closet stash this week, I realized just how large it was already, and decided it was time to finish it off. So I knitted three rows of garter stitch and bound it off -- it took me, oh, an hour... This is without question my longest unfinished project ever. And I've been knitting for 40 years (ohmygod) .

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It was one of the first lacy patterns I ever learned to knit. Here's a closeup of the detail -- it's a chevron design.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I have another special lace project under way right now. I can't wait to finish it and show it to you. I'm making it for a particular friend and I don't want to spoil the surprise -- it's someone at my church who has requested one of my pieces. I hope she will like it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

On my mind

Today is May 1, the date of the immigrant boycott. I am surprised my blogging circle has been mostly silent on this issue. Emotions, on the aggregate, have been pretty raw and high. The economic impact, as well as the human impact, is huge.

Did it help or hurt to hear an immigrants' version of the Star Spangled Banner? I have to admit to a moment of irony -- the first time I heard this rendition, I was in line at the drive-thru at Taco Mayo, where my (inauthentic) Mexican food was passed to me by a red-haired girl covered in freckles. Mmmm, is that my brain twisting?

I've had a hard time finding the translation of "Our Anthem," as the rendition is called. I understand there's a version due out in June with spoken inserts which absolutely will spark controversy and probably incite even more hostility in some areas.

Where do I stand? I'm still figuring it out. Illegal immigration from Mexico has been a hot-button issue for years. But it feels like things mushroomed very quickly with today's rallies across the U.S.

As I've been pondering this, a couple of things have come to mind. First, almost everyone here came from someplace else. Even those of us with white skin and freckles came here (our ancestors, that is) while this land was inhabited by someone else. I don't know what the native population's immigration policy was but I think they may have felt like they got the short end of the stick when the great-ancestors traded smallpox blankets for land. Anyway, to get back on track -- nearly all of us came from someplace else.

Yes, there are legal ways of entering this country and doing things the right way. But I have to wonder and think and pray about why it is so many people are risking everything to cross the border to come here. And why do we send mission teams to Mexico on spring break to try to build shelters and clean water supplies? I think there's a connection, don't you? People are starving and dying across the river.

Twice today I was in businesses where I discussed with the owners the impact of today's boycotts. I didn't bring it up either time. I was simply waiting for things to be done to my car when they brought up the topic. In both cases, the business owners were white men who were sympathetic to today's rallies.

"I wouldn't have blamed my guys if they had taken today off to rally," the muffler shop owner said. "I can't get any white guys in here to work because they're too lazy and they don't want to do things the way I tell them. These guys I hire are illegals, but they do good work and they treat my customers the way I want to be treated myself. But on the other hand, you can imagine what would happen if they hadn't been here working today. I'd have had to close the shop. And where would you be if I wasn't open to work on your car?"

Most of the rallies in my city were held after normal business and school hours, which I think added to the number of people who were able to participate. Restaurants and other Mexican-owned businesses did close, however.

Also in my thoughts on the topic: We could solve this whole issue by annexing Mexico. Take down the fence. Take over Mexico's resources and assets. Split up the country into new states. Find a way to combine our economies for the betterment of everyone.

If we want peace, we have to work for justice. Annexing Mexico is a flippant thought, I admit. But we can't keep pretending we're upset about starving people entering our country, when we rely on them to be such a big part of our economy.

Make them citizens, and then our gardeners and roofers and construction workers and muffler shop employees will be contributing to OUR national economy. Pretend offense contributes nothing to solving any problems.


In other thoughts:

I'm also more than a little surprised that my blog world has been largely silent on the issue of the genocide taking place in Darfur. How can we turn a blind eye to what's going on there? As a nation we need to step in immediately to stop the massacres. Thousands of Americans are rallying to stop the killings. Hundreds of thousands of people have died there in the past three years!

It is shameful that this issue is coming to the public's attention through the entertainment world. If that's what it takes, I'm glad that the likes of Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and NBC's "E.R." are raising awareness. But really, how sad is it that we depend on those channels to let us know about this modern Holocaust?

Bush has met with seven Darfur activists who are asking for a special envoy to the region. And finally, he has shown some receptivity to that idea.

It's only taken three years to notice?