doing. all. the things…

October 2nd, 2014

So the big five oh has come and gone pretty uneventfully, other than it having been a year of doing. all. the things…In January, I tried a new (to me) yoga space and while I was committed to going, it just wasn’t the space for me. The teacher was great. Her method was a bit too athletic for the practice I want to re-establish, so I am once again back to trying to cultivate a home based practice. Just a sun salutation in the morning and maybe a pose or two as needed throughout the day. It’s a start.

There was the annual spinning retreat at Mo Ranch in the TX Hill Country. It is nearly everything a retreat should be. I am going again in 2015, which will be my 3rd year. It is with Judith McKenzie and an invaluable source of inspiration and knowledge. It totally re-centers my energy and I look forward to it immensely.

In May was the Yarnorama retreat. Also rejuvenating on a smaller scale. That was closely followed by a trip to the Estes Park Wool Market and visiting Denver. The elevation was a bit much for it to be as enjoyable as I had hoped, but I scored an awesome fleece (or two).

In July, there was 11 days in NJ and NY with my bestest cousin…secrets abound…and in Sept for my actual birthday, I was in Portland and then Seattle with my one of my besties, and went to Taylored Fibers farm event as part of the Olympic Peninsula fiber farm tour, where I also got to visit (though entirely too briefly) with Judith again and get some luscious fiber which I will be spinning up next week during Spinzilla. Also on the farm tour, I visited Finn River Farm Cidery and shipped home a few bottles of their fine spirits.

Still to come is Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp in November in NC. November was also supposed to take us back to Denver for Thanksgiving, but those plans have changed ad we will have a  quiet holiday at home.

We saw a few concerts this year, too…Sting and Paul Simon (at least I think that was this year), Joan Osborne, and Louden Wainwright III, and still to come, Kim Richey at the Mucky Duck

Sketchbook Skool has been a nice adventure this year with a new semester beginning tomorrow. The first semester Beginnings, and the second semester Seeing are both still available, or, you could start with the new semester, Storytelling. It is a very approachable way to develop a sketchbook habit and well worth the tuition.

The only thing I set out to do as part of the 50th celebration which has yet to happen is to get a bike. That is still planned, and will likely happen this month (now that the weather seems more conducive). I am mostly decided on an Electra Women’s 7D but could still be swayed. This seems a reasonable investment for the casual riding I will be doing in the neighborhood.

 

slowing down

July 1st, 2014

My desk is cleared and I am ready for vacation. I am beyond. Ready.

Life at the office over the last few weeks has been something less than pleasant. Or maybe just a series of curious unpleasantness. It is much the same as it always is, and perhaps my sensitivity to the less-than-pleasantness is solely due to the fact that vacation starts tomorrow. That is all well and good benefit-of-the-doubt thinking, but really I can’t escape soon enough.

A couple of weeks ago we came in one morning to a glade plug-in having been installed in the outer office, the reception area we all have to walk through when we arrive. It’s the office manager’s office and it used to be my office many moons ago, so I can appreciate her wanting it to feel like her office and have it all good-smelly. But it is also a public throughway. The scent was either fresh linen or clean cotton, and while this doesn’t normally bother me, it sort of caught in my throat in a most unpleasant way and triggered a serious allergic-type reaction that sent me coughing. She commented that I should have my bronchitis checked out. I was not sick. The plug-in was not removed. The coughing continued. Eventually I got an email from the boss about not going to the doc and how he just had dinner with someone whose allergist called in an oncologist and that person won’t make it to xmas…I. Am. Not. Sick…I took half of the email day and the following day off purely because I was so pissed off.

We came in following all this one morning, to the entire office having been lysol bombed. My office in particular was heavily sprayed and I was lucky to make it through the day, having to work through a lysol induced migraine. It wasn’t pleasant and I emailed the office mgr asking if she sprayed and explaining (a second time) my scent sensitivities, and how I was working via the migraine and please…please…please…do not spray again in or near my office…her reply was brief and apologetic (barely) saying she was thinking prevention. I. Am. Not. sick!

This morning, I came in to find a box of baking soda spilled near my feet under my desk. It had been poorly taped behind my computer. What the fuck is that about? Oh. And we don’t have a broom and dust pan in the office, nor do we have a vacuum that has a hose attachment. I vacuumed up what I could, but there is a lovely pile of baking soda and the carpet/plastic mat beneath my feet is all baking soda gritty.

Less. Than. Pleasant.

I now get to basically watch the clock until 4 pm when vacation time will officially be here. It seems that everything has slowed down recently, all my online distractions. I think this is just due to summer time offering everyone else other distractions. Unplugging and all that in the name of fresh air and sunshine. A few minor to-do things to keep me from going crazy between now and 4…the countdown’s on…

Summer reading and then some…

June 16th, 2014

Last month, we went to Austin to see Joan Osborne. The show was nothing short of fabulous, and of course, we can’t go to Austin without a visit to Book Woman. It just isn’t going to happen. I don’t usually have any books in mind before going, but I always manage to find a few that pique my interest. This trip was no exception and I picked up the following:

Secrets was an excellent read and a lesson in the courage to own your history. The blatant telling of delicate secrets in this short book kept me reading until it was finished, cover to cover. Definitely worth the time and energy, and totally making me want this woman as a friend.

I am currently reading She Matters and have not yet read enough to have an idea of what I think about it. It is a bit challenging for me to get into, but I am not yet close to giving up. The other three are still to come and I am looking forward to each of them.

Snooze002 loresSketchbook Skool was a wonderful experience. I haven’t been sketching daily since, but I have been sketching. This is my most recent effort from our trip to Denver last week. I highly recommend the course to anyone even remotely interested. The materials are top notch and there are a lot of friends to be made. In fact, I am meeting up with a woman from class tonight for a sketch date at one of our favorite cafes.

Denver was also a most excellent trip. We went to visit with Irene and also to go to the Estes Park Wool Market. I don’t have any pictures yet, but I got a CVM fleece (2 pounds), and a Bond fleece (3 pounds). These are the first fleeces I was able to choose for myself in person and I am anticipating some awesome fibery goodness in the results. While in Denver, we ate breakfast at Snooze two mornings. Irene took us there on our first visit and now it has become a regular must go on each return. I brought home a bag of their Guatemalan coffee. Very delicious.

In knitting news, I am still working on many projects (quelle surprise), but no pics to share. The knitting continues to be rather challenge free out of necessity, but I like it that way, too. I haven’t been spinning all that much since I went on a weekend spinning retreat (great fun but what happens in LaGrange, stays in LaGrange) last month. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I haven’t been spinning on the wheel that much, but i am making efforts to find some level of competency with a Russian spindle, and I am also working on finishing the never ending pin-drafted Surino (alpaca/merino 70/30) I got in Kentucky last year.

Somehow, I feel as if I am forgetting something big in this update, which if the case, I will just have to post again.

Thoughts from some meditative knitting…

April 29th, 2014

In between the work I have to do today, I have been knitting a few stitches here and there on a scarf that I have knit a time or eight before, the Traveling Woman, by Liz Abinante. I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but there is something very soothing about knitting it that turns me toward total relaxation. My brain engages, but it isn’t terribly complex. There is a palpable rhythm to it that is pleasing and brings calm. As I said, I have knit it eight times before.

The one I am currently knitting is from some of my early handspun. I had been spinning a few months when I went to  a week-long retreat with Judith MacKenzie (Judith’s bio from one of her teaching gigs). It was at this retreat that I was first exposed to drum carding as a means of blending fibers to spin more unique yarns. I carded up several small batches from the fibers available to us, and got to spinning. I was pleased to be learning new things and delighted with the yarn I had made.

now that I am knitting with it, more than a year later, let me say, this particular yarn is crap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine blend of lovely merino and mohair and some silk and who knows what other luxurious fibers. but my spinning is total crap. It could be equally true that my first attempts at carding were crap. Yet I continue to knit with it because I can feel myself learning something. Whether I am learning about the feel of fiber too tightly spun or plied, or the optical blending of color and how that is successful or not for various reasons, or that it is sometimes not possible to count past five, I can’t say. but I am learning something, that much is clear.

Whether I am learning something about my spinning or my knitting, I can’t quite grasp. But it is very likely something about both of these, and how they can and do work together. As I knit, the pattern is totally familiar in a muscle memory sort of fashion. just another layer of soothing going on during the process. The thought that continually comes to the forefront of my brain is that it is time to again read The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice, by Susan Gordon Lydon. It’s a book that will have something new to tell me each time I read it.

SS week 2001 loresAlso going on around these parts, is some sketching. I am taking an online class called Sketchbook Skool. Totally worth the time and dollars. I can’t speak highly enough about it and I feel that there is something there for everyone.  I learned about it because I follow Danny Gregory’s blog  (linked right) and decided to jump in. the next semester begins in July and there is room enough for everyone, so c’mon…let’s do this! This spread was done a few weeks ago at Barnaby’s. The first semester group has well over 1000 people enrolled and there is a range of abilities from beginner to expert. There is a classroom and fb group to post work in and discuss (or not, no pressure), and plenty of people beyond the instructors to learn from. The art that is being made in sketchbooks globally is something pretty amazing to be a part of via this class.

Okay, enough jabbering on. I feel like there is more to say, but I also feel the grasp I have on exactly what is slipping away. More soon…

 

Gratitude Project progress

March 13th, 2014

russiandolls005I have been working on some of my gratitude projects. I have 10 this year, five from an offer I made via fb, anf 5 via an offer I accepted from my neice (also via fb and a slightly different offer. Technically I only had 4 responses to the first offer, so I went and chose a fifth to be grateful for. I will do much the same for the second offer, given that ir received no response, but I can certainly find gratitude for five more peeps.

I can’t say that this is the beginning of one of those projects because I just don’t know yet. My dear wife was recently in Chicago without me and since he had been to Knot Just Knits on our previous visit to Oak Park, she knew exactly where to go to soothe her loneliness. She bought me the kit for Leftie which included a base yarn and an assortment pack of leaf colors and the pattern. I got the pattern delivered via email as soon as she bought it. I can imagine the conversation:

E: Hi! I want to get my wife a present because she couldn’t come with me on this trip and I mimss her terribly and she is a knitter and will love this!
Clerk: What does she like to knit?

E: yarn!
Clerk: okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay…what colors does she like?

E: yes! she likes colors…

The conversation I imagine just goes on and on, and really, E should just give the clerk a dollar amount and tell her to pick a project out.

russiandolls004I also got this lovely Russian doll box style project bag. It all fits nice and neat insode and I have been a good girl about putting it away when i am done for the night because we have more than one dog (umm, three) with a history of hosting yarn parties. It’s great stuff and I am sure they just can’t help themselves.

So I will be knitting away on the Leftie shawl (so named for its fun use of leftovers, not for left-handedness, which I posess) and see where it ends up, whether as a keeper or a gifter.

 

30 day challenge

March 8th, 2014

I have joined in a 30 day challenge where you purge the number of things for what day it is, so day 1, 1 thing goes…day 2, 2 tthings go and so on and by the end of the month your things will be 465 less. I can’t believe I am putting this in writing, but accountability, even if only to myself, is helpful with this. Here’s where I am at the moment:

Day 1: deleted my yahoo account
Day 2: 2 shirts (donated)
Day 3: 3 shirts (donated)
Day 4: 5 books sent to my mother (who is amazed how much one can read (at 81) when one can no longer afford cable)
Day 5: 5 purses/bags
Day 6: 3 pair of shoes and 3 knitting bags
Day 7: OMG…7…seven…S E V E N…bags of clothes donated (plus one bag to the trash)

I sent 5 books on day 4 because last night I also went to see The Minimalists at a local bookstore and knew I would be bringing their book home with me. I will mail it on to the first person who claims an interest in it once I finish it…

My friend Kathryn came over today after work yesterday and we did a major clothes purge, and I had already recently purged. She was brutal in the most supportive and loving way and she took the bags with her to drop off on her way home so I won’t be having any donaters remorse. Temptation has been removed, and I still feel like too much remains. Kathryn agrees, especially as it pertains to t-shirts.

Kathryn recommended I do a 90 day challenge of turning all my hangers backwards. As an item is word, it can be rehung with the hanger forward. At the end of 90 days, anything not turned around goes. I am not fully committed to this yet, but I will take everything not turned around out of the closet and give it an honest evaluation. I am also going to be compulsive about one in/one out going forward.

In part this was inspired by seeing The Minimalists and reading their new book(which I have already sent on to someone else). I have been reading their blog for a while now and I like their easy approach to it all. Joshua Took the time to sort through and purge over a longer period of time. Ryan packed up everything he owned and only kept the things he took out and used over a 21 day period (plus seasonal use items). I am considering a combination of the two. I like their main premise that something must add value to be granted space in their life.

I don’t quite know how to apply this to all my stuff, but I feel good about trying as fifty approaches. It seems a defining time in my life in a way that still remains undefined. It will happen how it is supposed to in its own time.

 

Still playing catch-up…

February 10th, 2014

52 lists003I had hoped to get some lists caught up while I was working registration for a work conference the last week of January, but that just didn’t happen. I am going to keep plugging away and will eventually be in the groove with it…or not…whatever the outcome, at least for the moment it is still holding my attention. I really had a hard time with the week 3 topic of listing things you should be proud of so more sort of babbled on about it. It is what it is.

A few weeks before the conference, early in January, things at the office always get a little stressful in general. I know this is happening when I see(or feel) a disease flare coming on. I made efforts to diffuse this one day with a little online retail therapy. This usually means fleece or fiber of some sort these days, but Elizabeth and I had talked about going to see my man Sting, who just happens to be touring with her man Paul Simon. We talked about it on two separate occasions and basically decided not to go. Then I started thinking about my regrets at not seeing Sting when he toured with Annie Lennox. Then I started feeling the stress of work. Somehow, I needed to exhale in a major way.

I went to look up the concert again and rather than looking at the pricey floor seats none of which were two together, I looked to see if there were 2 cheapo seats together. There were, and a click or two later, we had tickets. I marked the office wall calendar for last Saturday with bog bold letters that said “YOU HAVE PLANS” and even boxed it heavily in red. True testament to how chaotic work has been, Elizabeth didn’t even see this until Friday, just a day before the concert.

It was like being in church. Once I unclenched my grip on the handrail that led me down the steep steps to our nose bleed seats, I settled in and totally had a near religious experience. It didn’t really matter who was performing, Sting, Paul Simon, or both of them together, I had the most soothing sense of well being. I am glad I didn’t let not being in the middle of it all stop me from getting tickets. As I was looking for tickets, I really thought about it and considering these aging rockers we were going to see, I truly felt the music was going to be the show and hearing it was the only consideration. Again, very glad I decided to get tickets. They might be coming to a city near you and it was definitely worth the price of admission.

Fundraiser art

February 5th, 2014

adogandhisbone004My friend Patti Digh announced a fundraiser for the Richmond Animal League because her friend Amy McCracken asked for her help. She is doing this for her friend, I am doing this for my friend…who knows why my brain makes the connections it does, but it did, and I emailed to be included and forgot about it. I know instantly I would use this photo of my dad from the collection I have, but then I pretty much forgot about it.

Soon enough, the small five inch canvas came in the mail and I left it on my desk so I wouldn’t forget it, and promptly forgot about it. Sometimes I think I work better under the gun, but I wanted to give this more time than I did. I wanted to make a little rubber stamp of a bone to embellish this further. I wanted to seal some mini milkbones (the one inch ones) with something and glue them around the edge to make a frame. All in all, I am pleased with what I did, and like all the pieces I have made using my dad’s images, I want to keep it, but it is off in the mail, scheduled to arrive before deadline.

I reason with myself that I don’t have to keep these pieces because I can recreate them, but I never do. I consider it lucky when I remember to at the very least take a photograph to securely file away, but even on this piece I forgot that, but remembered to scan it before sealing it away in it’s package. I hope Arnold is amused.

The chaos is abating

January 24th, 2014

Today brings an end to preparations (at work) for our annual conference. The conference itself is next week, an entirely different chaos, but the planning and doing are over. If it isn’t ready now, it just won’t be happening…but I am pretty sure everything is ready. I get so stressed leading up to this very moment right now. It happens every year. And the steam is now releasing.

I started the release process last night by going for a much needed pedicure. Oh, and a hair cut (just shy of a buzz), and it’s been a while, maybe 6 or 7 years, but my hair is once again red. It remains to be seen how long it stays red, as I am totally not invested, but for this moment right now, it just feels right.

We had a severe cold warning last night and mother nature didn’t disappoint. It seemed wise at 530 this morning to cancel my yoga class, and also at the time I didn’t know if we would be going to work. We only live 4 miles away so it seemed silly to not at least try, but we took the leisurely morning approach and went to breakfast, and got in at around 930. Respectably early in relation to the rest of the staff.

52Lists002This is week 2 for the 52 Lists Project. Since the project host is starting this by using her efforts from last year(when she didn’t make it through 52 weeks), the first 20 list topics are available. I have entered the topic lines ahead in my list journal and will work on a few at a time in an effort to get caught up. As with Week 1, I still don’t know if this one is finished, but want to get it posted. I will work on weeks 3 and 4 while I sit at registration next week, which might go a long way toward diffusing the next round of chaos. Maybe.

52 Lists: Week 1

January 15th, 2014

52 Lists001I am not yet sure if I am finished with week 1 of the 52 Lists Project, but I am calling it finished to get on with it. The topic for week one is words that touch your soul. I started a list on scrap paper and it felt so very cliche, so I just opened up the small sketch book I had in my office drawer, perfect for this project, and got to it. Also at my desk, there is a glue stick, a box of cut out words, and a tin of  120 Prismacolor pencils.

The sketch book is one I bought when I was visiting my friend Patti Digh while we met up for tea at Malaprops book store in Asheville. It is 4×6 when closed and I can already tell the small size will keep me from getting overwhelmed by this project. It is the perfect diversion when my eyes or my brain need a break from the computer screen at work.

I also posted another round of The Gratitude Project on my facebook page. Here is the offer I made:

Feels like it is time for another round of The Gratitude Project. The first 5 people to post a comment to this post will receive something handmade (by me) by the end of 2014. The only requirement is that you post the same offer and follow through with your intention to do this. No, I won’t be checking. It’s all about having some integrity in what you are putting out into the universe.

If you have participated in the past, it is fine to do so again…I was going to say as long as you followed through with the commitment in the past, but that is tha past and I am trying to stay focused on the present…so let’s say instead it is okay to participate again as long as you fully intend to follow through with your part of the bargain.

Now, if you are thinking you aren’t artistic or crafty enough to participate, well let’s just shut that down right now. Handmade doesn’t have to be by you. There are wonderful opportunities to support a plethora of artists (etsy anyone?) and everyone is encouraged to take this on and put your best self out there just a little.

I had four sign ups the first day, My cousins Donna and Jaye, my sister-in-law Yvonne, and my friend Deborah. there is still an opening for one more and if it isn’t filled by the end of the week I will randomly assign someone. If you want to sign up and can’t find the fb post, just leave a comment here.