Friday, April 29, 2005

"Mendocino" cardigan in Peruvian Collection alpaca. Design from Pacific Coast Highway by Alice Starmore. Just finished. Posted by Hello

And that's all the knitting news for now.

Turning to the voluntary simplicity section of this blog, the topic foremost on my mind in recent weeks is peak oil. Probably most of you are familiar with this phenom, which is not about the end of oil but rather the end of cheap oil. If this term is new to you, I urge you to get acquainted with it as soon as possible. There are dozens of websites and I won't recommend any in particular at the moment; a simple google search will keep you busy for hours.

Well, actually, start with this recent article by James Howard Kunstler that was published in Rolling Stone. It's getting a lot of attention. Perhaps it's a bit alarmist, but if you check around the internet a bit, you'll find equally alarming reports from the likes of Goldman Sachs and T. Boone Pickens, as well as Bush energy advisor Matthew Simmons.

So what are you doing to prepare for a future of rising energy prices? If (or, more likely, when) gas hits $3/gallon, what will the impact be on your life? What about $4/gallon? Or $5/gallon?

It's easy for me to say, "Hey, I rarely drive, and our one family car gets about 30mpg, so why should I worry?" But energy costs impact almost everything. So while I'm not sweating bullets at the gas pump, and I'm not a big shopper or consumer of imported goods, I'm quite concerned about keeping food on the table and a reasonable level of comfort in our house. I don't feel entirely secure about food because we don't have a place to grow our own, but I'm happy we're at least long-time members in a local CSA.

The house is a bigger concern. Recently I had a friend, who is an expert on alternative energy, do an audit. The bad news is that our walls are basically paper -- R3 -- as the blown-in insulation has all settled. Our attic also needs more insulation. The good news is that despite the draftiness of our 115-year-old house, we don't have a huge problem. My friend was shocked that we manage to heat our house in frosty northern Michigan for about $850/year. Apparently our habits have reduced our heating bills by at least half of what they should be. We turn the heat all the way down at night and sleep under thick down comforters. We also turn the heat off when we leave the house for more than a few hours. And we keep the heat set to a level (our thermostat isn't accurate, so I can't be more specific) that is comfortable with those thick wool sweaters (Ha! There was more knitting content after all! Knitting pays for itself by lowering our heat bills!) My friend told me that only about 1 person in 100 is willing to turn back the thermostat (surely he exaggerates!) Our furnace and hot water operate on natural gas.

Our electricity bills are also fairly reasonable at about $35/month. The refrigerator is our biggest electric drain, and we have a modest one without an automatic ice maker or any special features. We don't have a hot tub, and we use compact fluorescents in most of our light fixtures. We also don't have, or need, air conditioning.

Still, I don't want to kick in another $1000/year or so if energy prices double, so I have to figure out how we can be even more efficient. My friend recommended doubling our attic insulation, replacing the weather stripping on our doors, installing storms on the windows that don't currently have them, and consider putting window quilts in the bedrooms. He says just the attic insulation alone will probably drop $200/year off our heat bill.

My other focus of action is volunteering with our local currency initiative, Bay Bucks. While the link to surviving in a post-peak oil era may not seem obvious at first, I believe that community-building activities will prove crucial. The communities that are most self-reliant will be those that can best adapt.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Beaded shawl in Turkish mohair. Unfortunately, it's hard to see the beads in the photo. Posted by Hello

I thought it was time for some knitting-related content, since this is supposedly a knitting blog. And yes, that's snow in the background. Still. (sigh)

In joint knitting-and-politics content, Leslie of NakeidKnits (one of my favorite blogs), has started a KnitIn in protest of the outrageous Senate vote to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (I can still barely type this because my blood boils whenever I think of it!). Leslie has an inspired, brilliant idea to knit with qiviut to show our solidarity with the residents of the Arctic. Read the details on her blog.

Yes, luxury yarn can be used to save the world. Absolutely. Why didn't I think of making the qiviut-ANWR link? Well, I'm grateful to Leslie and eager to order a skein or two from Folknits.

March Madness Update

After Round 1, the ACC is 5-0. Yep. And the Big East? Not so good.

Go, go Vermont Catamounts! Thanks for taking out Syracuse, who was supposed to offer Duke its toughest battle for the Final Four. Catamounts, I wish I could have seen your game, or more than the last .4 seconds, but unfortunately, I live in the Midwest, where CBS apparently believed viewers were more interested in time-outs and conversations at the scorers' table in the Wisconsin-Northern Iowa game. Boo, CBS. But yay, Catamounts. I hope you beat Michigan State tomorrow so you can get one more win before falling to Duke next weekend.

That last sentence will likely get me run out of northern Michigan. After 13 years in Michigan, I have yet to warm up to any of the local sports teams. Maybe that's because it's hard to warm up at all here!! (And it could be because I've only recently started paying attention.) I was surprised yesterday to see the Carolina game on TV because I assumed its opponent, Oakland, was from California. Nope, it's a Detroit-area school. I had never heard of it! I think Michigan State is the only other Michigan school in the tournament. North Carolina, my native state, has five teams, three with a very good chance to get in the Final Four.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wilderness -- Who Needs It?

So the Senate voted yesterday to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I do not have sufficient words to express my contempt for those 51 senators. I hope that all across the land today, people who live in the states of those 51 senators are recruiting and funding serious opponents for them in their next election and that they will all lose their jobs because of this. My senators, I'm happy to say, were not part of the dark side.

I tried, but could not find through googling, a letter Michael Moore had written during the 2000 presidential campaign in which he assured Nader supporters that bad things would not happen if they voted for Nader and Bush got elected instead of Gore. The letter was primarily about Roe v. Wade and how Moore would not be lured into voting for Gore because of dire predictions about Bush getting Roe v. Wade overturned. Moore assured his readers that such a thing could never happen. He listed several dire predictions about a Bush win and called them "scare tactics." I can't remember if he mentioned ANWR. As it seems that the Bush administration is successfully dismantling many of the things we cherish, I'd love to find that letter from 2000 and make a scorecard from it.

Oops! It might sound like I'm blaming Michael Moore for this. Not at all. Well, not much. There are a lot of people who deserve more blame than Moore and Nader. I suggest we all look in the mirror to see who to blame. Anyone who uses oil has a share of the blame. Why don't we all resolve, in addition to calling our senators and imploring them to stop this crime at the next step of the legislative process, to reduce our fossil fuel use, even fractionally.

Those who are willing to make a big, bold move might consider getting rid of their cars. Others might try converting one trip a week from car to bike or other alternative. Still too much? How about this -- when driving to the mall, park at the first open space you encounter. That will save the gas required to drive another 50 ft. for a closer space, plus you will get a little exercise.

One of my pet peeves is seeing vehicles -- usually large, gas-guzzling SUVs -- idling for minutes in a parking lot in wait for a closer space that someone is vacating when an open space is not more than 20 ft. away! It is absolutely senseless. Another pet peeve is parked vehicles with engines running. I see this every day when I'm walking my kids to school. Sometimes cars will be parked outside a house for many minutes (15 from the time I first pass to the return pass) with engines running, presumably so the driver will not have to get in a cold vehicle. Then around the school in the afternoon, almost every parent waiting for pickup has the engine running, even if they are 10 minutes early. Rule of thumb: if more than one minute will lapse before you will move the car, then turn the engine off! Do this and you might save one of the last pristine wildernesses on the planet!

March Madness

It's time to return to my winning horse. Duke's opener is tomorrow night. In my new role as obsessed fan, I've made a bracket and plan to be closely following all the action for the next three weeks. I have Duke beating Louisville in the national championship game, which will be karmic payback for Louisville beating Duke in the same game my senior year, thus denying the best basketball class ever (Mark Alarie, Johnny Dawkins, Jay Bilas, David Henderson, Weldon Williams) a deserved national championship. I doubt anyone else has Duke and Louisville playing for the national championship this year, but as I said, I'm in a time warp, so there you have it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The leprechauns visited our house last night and left the kids little chocolate coins wrapped in gold. My 8-year-old was delighted.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yep, life really is like a roller coaster ride

I will start this blog entry on a happy note because I must end it with sad news.

Sometime last week, my usual bout with Seasonal Affective Disorder took a turn from the February hide-in-bed-watching-movies-and-knitting-with-a-2lb.-box-of-SeesCandies-at-my-side stage to the coming-out-of-it-with-manic-energy stage. That is good news. I've been singing and dancing and otherwise jamming to spend all of this pent-up winter blues energy. (My favorite new song on my iTunes lineup is Chely Wright's energetic rockabilly remake of "You Never Can Tell.")

But the good news doesn't stop there. Back in January, still reeling from the November elections when my side got its butt emphatically kicked to the curb, and then learning of the school board's nefarious plan to shut down my daughter's elementary school, I decided I had had enough of always being on the losing side of everything. It was time to find a winning horse. What could it be? The answer came one day when I observed my hubby listening to yet another sporting event on the internet radio. Hmm. I seemed to remember that my alma mater had a pretty good basketball team. "Hey honey, do you know what's up with Duke this year?" "Oh, the usual. They're loaded as always, in the top 10, of course." A winning horse.

So I decided to become a fan. I googled the Duke basketball schedule and nearly every game would be televised, most on ESPN. I started watching. It was hard at first because I didn't really have a clue what was going on. I was a typical Cameron Crazy during my student years, but that was two decades ago. Since then, I have been worried about other things, such as trying to get people to stop driving so much (another losing horse). I didn't know the name of a single Duke player. But thanks to ESPN, I got up to speed in the past two months.

One thing I immediately noticed when tuning in was that Duke, despite its top 10 ranking, seemed to be the underdog in almost every game, according to the sportscasters. Even Dick Vitale (why is he at every Duke game?), who had previously given the impression of liking the Blue Devils, was very uncomplimentary about this year's team, except for J.J. Redick, who he keeps calling "the best shooter who has ever lived!" So I wondered if I had picked the wrong year to become a fan.

My doubts were answered this past weekend when I got to cheer as my team beat my hubby's team in the ACC Tourney semi-finals and then hung on to cut the nets down the next afternoon as ACC champion. Woo woo woo woo woo!!! As for the incredible J.J., everytime he makes one of those impossible 3-pointers, I want to start humming, "hey, hey look at me, I'm Mrs. Robinson." What a hottie!

So now my team has a surprise number one berth in the big show. Even if the Devils don't make it all the way, it feels great to be along for the ride as long as it lasts.

I have recently discovered another surprising aspect to this. Apparently, in the years in which I was completely ignoring sports, Duke turned into Carolina. How did that happen? Back in my day, Carolina was the most hated team in the world. It was ABC. Duke was loved! Now it's ABD. Apparently, the only place in which the Devils are cheered now is Cameron. Well, I may in a time warp, but I still remember how to hate Carolina. May they go down in Round 1!!!

Devastatingly Sad News

Even since I've been doing this blog, I've had a link to my friend's blog, The Cornered Curmudgeon. If you click that link, you'll see that there will be no more brilliant insights from the curmudgeon, now revealed as Bob Conn. Bob's death is a deep, personal and grievous loss to those of us who were blessed to know him personally, but it is also a loss for humanity. He was an uncommonly wise man. Our world was richer with his presence and it will be poorer with his absence. But I am resolved to do as a friend suggested at last night's memorial service -- that those of us who knew him live the rest of our lives as a tribute to him. It will be no easy task.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is stash reduction possible? Ever?

I'm finally getting over what must have been the flu. I've spent a significant chunk of the past week and a half in bed, knitting and watching movies. I started another beaded shawl and Mendocino, a longish cardigan from Alice Starmore's Pacific Coast Highway. I have a couple of finished projects, too, but I'm too tired to get the camera out now. Maybe tomorrow.

Before the flu hit, I was able to stop in at the annual sale at my favorite local yarn shop, Lost Art. Despite the fact that I already have enough yarn to keep me knitting for the rest of my life, I bought more. I am basically an anti-consumer; I don't shop for leisure and rarely go into any store that doesn't sell food. But I have a weakness for yarn. I plan more projects than I can possibly start. Now I'm starting to fear that the boxes of yarn stashed in my closet will become a source of guilt and stress. Except for the leftovers, every skein is attached to a planned project. Some have been on hold for years.

What I would like to do is resolve to purchase no more yarn until I'm completely out, both of commercial yarn and fiber to spin. I would like to force myself to get creative with leftover bits of yarn. At the very least, I would like to shrink the stash down to the four plastic bins designated for yarn. So back to knitting. Completing Mendocino will get rid of almost two bags of Peruvian Collection Uros.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gandhi and Spinning

My recent hiatus from blogging was also a hiatus from blog reading. Imagine my surprise to come back and discover that the spinning bug had captured even Wendy, arguably one of the most popular and influential knitters on-line! (I am envious, but not surprised, that she is already more accomplished at spinning than I likely ever will be.)

I haven't yet had the leisure to check all 600 or so sites on the knitting blogs webring (from which mine has apparently been booted, with good reason), but I'm curious ... how many other knitters have taken up spinning? What are your motivations?

I'm an occasional spinner, but primarily a knitter. I became interested in spinning long before I took up knitting, but I lacked the opportunity to learn. A few years ago, I noticed an ad in the classifieds for a used spinning wheel and went to check it out. For $100, I purchased an Ashford Traditional, two large bags of raw fleece, a set of drum carders, and three extra bobbins. I ordered the "Hands On Spinning" book and attempted to teach myself. I couldn't get the hang of it. Then good fortune intervened. Our recent year in Colorado brought me into the orbit of the magnificent fiber shop, Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, and its co-owner and gifted spinning teacher, Maggie Casey. Voila! I finally became a spinner.

My initial interest in spinning was spurred by my admiration of Gandhi. This originated during college, when I wrote a paper in a public policy and ethics class analyzing themes in Salman Rushdie's brilliant masterpiece, Midnight's Children. Researching background on the caste system and the religious struggles featured in this novel led me to the writings of Gandhi. This encounter with Gandhi's life and teachings was perhaps the key turning point of my life. It awakened me to different thinking and banished forever my previous goals of serving only the needs of my pocketbook by pursuing a lucrative career in something like corporate law.

Anyone who knows anything about Gandhi knows that the spinning wheel was the foundation of his plan for India's political and economic independence. He also advocated spinning on moral grounds. One of the most fascinating sections in the Gandhi Reader, (ed. Homer A. Jack) is a published exchange between the Mahatma and the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore questioned the value of burning foreign cloth when it could be used to clothe the poor, calling it a "magical formula" instead of the "precise thinking" of economic science that he believed India required (yes, it is odd that a poet would make this argument). Gandhi replied:

"I venture to suggest to the Poet that the clothes I ask him to burn must be and are his. If they had to his knowledge belonged to the poor or the ill-clad, he would long ago have restored to the poor what was theirs. In burning my foreign clothes I burn my shame. I must refuse to insult the naked by giving them clothes they do not need, instead of giving them work which they sorely need. I will not commit the sin of becoming their patron, but on learning that I had assisted in impoverishing them, I would give them a privileged position and give them neither crumbs nor cast off clothing, but the best of my food and clothes and associate myself with them in work."

Gandhi urged all of the people of India, rich and poor alike, to spend at least one hour a day spinning. In addition to the political, economic and moral benefits, he believed that spinning was a deeply meditative act. Of course, he was right. Sadly, I don't spin on most days and it is a rare day indeed that I spin for an entire hour. However, I have sometimes become so relaxed at the spinning wheel that I actually caught myself snoring, while fully awake and still spinning!

(Warning... I'm about to get on my soapbox!)

I'm thrilled that spinning is catching on. While our western industrialized nations are not the India of the British Raj, we are not so different, either. Very few of us, if any, live independently from the sufferings of the poor. Sweatshop labor clothes us, toxic chemicals endanger the agricultural workers who harvest our cheap food, and oligarchs enrich themselves while oppressing the poor in the countries that fuel our vehicles. Even if comfortable Americans, such as myself, are spinning cashmere and silk just for fun (actually, I haven't the confidence to try cashmere or silk yet; I'm still working on basic wool), perhaps we might slightly, even if only for a moment, spin the solidarity that Gandhi envisioned.

At the risk of making this much too long, I leave you with one other influential passage from another novel I read in that same college class. In Robert Stone's A Flag for Sunrise, a party of comfortable North Americans is traveling by car through an impoverished Central American country. Their conversation:

"What I wonder," Bob Cole said in his strange tremulous voice, "is whether the people down here have to live this way so that we can live the way we do."
"I'm just a soldier," Zeccca said. "But I think the answer to that is no. It sounds too simple to me."
"But it's not a simple question," Marie said brightly. "It's a really complicated one."
Cole turned to Holliwell.
"How about you, sir? You're something of an expert. What do you think the answer is?"
"I have to confess," Holliwell said, "that I haven't figured that out. There are lots of gaps in my expertise. I don't know what the answer is."
"We have to believe it's no, don't we?" Cole asked. "We couldn't face up to it otherwise. Because if most of the world lives in this kind of poverty so that we can have our goodies and our extra protein ration -- what does that make us?"
"It makes us vampires," Holliwell said. "It makes us all the cartoon figures in the Communist press."
"What if you found out it were true?"
"Me? What I do doesn't matter. I'd go on doing what I'm doing."
"How about you, Captain?"
Zecca took one hand from the wheel and turned partway around toward Cole. Marie kept her eyes on the road.
"What are you, Mr. Cole?" Captain Zecca asked. "Some kind of an agitator?" He asked the question humorously, with more of the Toledo in his voice that he usually permitted.
"Not at all," Cole said.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

As promised, the photo of my only finished knitting project of 2005:

A Peruvian-style hat, made with Peruvian Collection pure alpaca, from a pattern in Sue Bradley's 1991 book, Around the World in 80 Sweaters. Posted by Hello

That's it for the fiber content for this blog today. Tomorrow I will bring you musings on spinning and Gandhi. But for today, I have ...


If you haven't yet seen Sideways, by all means, go. Immediately. It certainly deserves its Oscar nomination, and I'm thrilled that for the first time in, oh, about 15 years, I've actually seen one of the Oscar-nominated movies before the big ceremony. Usually, my grown-up movie backlog allows me to happily mine the $1-for-7-days section at the neighborhood rental store. Actually, to be quite honest, I have enough titles on my "must see" list that cable TV is a "good deal" because so many of those films have a decent chance of being shown on TCM!

Anyway, an impromptu girls-night-out thing Sunday took me and two pals to the local cineplex. We eliminated the slasher and action movies, as well as the movies our kids might want to see, and finally those with inconvenient start or finish times. We were left with Sideways and Phantom of the Opera. One of my pals had read a lukewarm review of Phantom, so Sideways it was. We did not regret our choice. Not only is this movie very, very funny, it's beautifully filmed and it has something to say. I won't divulge more. The only possibly negative aspect, at least for me, was going back into the dreary northern Michigan winter after spending two hours enjoying the California wine country scenery. We all wanted to go to dinner in Solvang afterwards.

and restaurants

Unfortunately, we were left with the neighborhood pretentious-but-poorly-prepared-food place. While I appreciate the owners' intent of trying something hip and urban in Traverse City, I think it would work out better if they hired kitchen staff who actually know how to prepare ponzu sauce. Or at least lowered the prices to compensate.

I generally eat out for two reasons. The most prevalent is to avoid cooking and cleaning. When that is the motivation, almost any restaurant will suffice as long as the bill is reasonably representative of the quality. The other motivation is to taste something I could not have prepared at home. If I'm spending more than $30 for dinner for two, the second motivation is in play and I'm not easily satisfied. I would rather spend $100 for an exceptional meal than $40 for a mediocre meal.

Fortunately, we have a few very, very good $40 places in the area. We also have some exceptional restaurants. My favorite is Tapawingo, which is one of the best restaurants I've been to anywhere in the world. It's about an hour's drive and quite expensive (at least $150 for dinner for two with wine and tip), so consequently we only eat there for very special occasions (such as 5-year anniversary increments), but I would be happy to blow our entire dining budget there and make do with beans and rice at home every other night.

On the other end of my fantasy restaurant scale is Kathmandu, a small Nepalese-East Indian eatery in Nederland, Colo. During the year we spent in the Boulder area, I was a frequent diner at Kathmandu and I sorely wished I could have packed the place in my bags and taken it back to Traverse City. Besides having the best saag I have ever tasted, it was friendly and affordable. My daughter was in half-day kindergarten then, and about once a week, we would stop in for lunch after school. They never charged Leah, who only ate rice and a bit of fruit from the lunch buffet. Generally, I hate buffets; when I pay to eat out, I prefer to stay at the table and have someone bring food directly from the kitchen. Yet I could find no quibble with Kathmandu's $6.95 lunch buffet. I would always eat almost an entire plate of saag, a little rice, some of the yummy rice salad, a bit of the curry dish, and some of the other vegetable special. Naan hot from the oven was delivered to my table. It was perfect. I miss it dearly.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

We interrupt this blog to bring you a technical message:

I'm working on getting photos up. Apparently the MSN thing was not successful (thanks for the heads-up, Janet). Until the ISP techies can figure out what's wrong with my webspace, I'm trying Blogger's Hello thing. But I'm still figuring it out, so keep checking back if it's not working yet.

Scroll down to the January 24 entry and you should be able to see the photos now without the annoying request for a MSN groups account. Sorry about that! To compensate you all for your trouble, I will post a brand new photo of the recently-completed Peruvian hat tomorrow. (Remember: tomorrow=maƱana)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Better late than never, and because I'm procrastinating once again, I'll play Leslie's "what's my stuff" game. Here's my list:

Grooming Products
Shampoo--Aubrey Organics Blue Chamomile
Moisturizer--Aubrey Organics Green Tea SPF10
Razor--none in winter, my husband's in summer
Toothpaste--Jason's Seafresh

Cell phone--none. Really.
Computer--Dell Dimension 4600
Television--Old 19"
Stereo--Old JVC with a newer Sony DVD player

Sheets--various. Right now L.L. Bean flannel
Coffee-maker--French press and a Braun automatic
Car--none. Hubby has a Ford Escort wagon that I drive when necessary.
Stationery--?? Probably a good idea. I'll think about getting some.

Bottled water--Tap
Coffee--a dark roast from Higher Grounds, a local fair trade importer
Vodka--almost never
Beer--occasionally at the local brewpub

Jeans--various, purchased at local thrift store
T-shirt--freebies from local orgs
Briefcase or tote--none
Sneakers--Saucony running shoes
Watch--none. I never know what time it is, but I'm rarely late.

Favorite Places
Santa Fe, North Carolina, Montreal, Paris, California, National Parks, any public library but especially my local one and Duke University's Perkins Library, and my local food co-op

Necessary Extravagance
Travel, quality chocolate, expensive olive oil, organic food in general, and maintaining a large personal library when the public library is less than half a mile from my house. (I don't consider yarn an extravagance. Well, maybe the cashmere.)

Now if I were to make the list, mine would be somewhat different from Vanity Fair's. Here's what I would like to ask (and I'll answer for myself -- feel free to chime in or do your own):

Book(s) currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
Best book read in the past year: I'm only half way through, but I think the current one might be
Favorite book ever: Pride and Prejudice
Can't miss TV: The Amazing Race
Last movie rented: Spiderman (it was family night)
Best movie seen in the past year: hmmm. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.. Spring. But always, every year, the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. I watch it frequently.
Magazine subscriptions: The Atlantic Monthly. Interweave Knits. Spin-Off. Rowan.
On the radio: NPR. The Diane Rehm Show.
Newspaper: The Traverse City Record-Eagle, sadly. The New York Times on the web.
1st five daily clicks:,,,
Partner: John, husband of 15 years
Children: two, Dylan (11) and Leah (8)
Siblings: two younger, Susan and Bill
Parents: David and Lorraine, still kicking down in North Carolina
Extended family: Semi-large. Four sets of uncles and aunts (some deceased), 10 first cousins, numerous 2nd and 3rd cousins. Regular get-togethers, although most take place in North Carolina and are infrequently attended by me.
People who are like family: Many of my neighbors and other friends in Traverse City.
House size and style: about 1800sq ft, 110-year-old Victorian
Neighborhood: downtown Traverse City
Sidewalks?: yes, of course
Relationships with neighbors: Excellent
Favorite hobbies and activities
Well, since this is a knitting blog, one will be obvious. Also spinning, reading, watching movies, walking, and traveling at every opportunity.
Secret vices (and obviously they won't be a secret once they're on the blog)
SimCity 4. Technically, it was my son's Christmas present. He's had few minutes with it, though, since I'm hogging it.
Dreaded chores
Cleaning the litter box. Laundry. Cleaning anything really.
What gets you out of bed in the morning
Technically, getting the kids to school. But in the broader sense, I suppose it's the anticipation that the day will have joy. Thankfully, it usually does.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I'm so tickled to have two readers (thanks Dianne and Salt) that I've spent most of the morning trying to figure out how to get those darn photos on this blog. Unfortunately, I can't seem to access my ISP webspace on this new computer, so I'm temporarily trying out MSN.

I've also been busy lately trying to save my daughter's elementary school from closing. We have a lovely school at the end of our street and we enjoy walking to school every day. Sadly, demographic changes and bad GOP-sponsored funding policies have damaged the district's budget to the point that the board has opted to close an elementary school. Ours is on the short list and obviously I disagree with that. So I've spent most of the past two weeks since this outrageous proposal was announced writing letters to the superintendent. I can't believe they would even consider closing a walkable school! I'm running out of words on this topic.

So on to photos. Here is the gorgeous Donegal, which my husband is enjoying:

Donegal Posted by Hello

and the afghan from the Tierra Wools yarn:

afghan Posted by Hello

and the kitty sweater from Norsk Strikkedesign:

The kitten sweater from Norsk Strikkedesign Posted by Hello

and the gansey:

gansey Posted by Hello

and the socks:

socks Posted by Hello

So that is the end of the 2004 knitting.

I already have a completed 2005 project -- a Peruvian-style hat in supersoft alpaca -- but I haven't photographed it yet. Several other things are on the needles. I'm actually knitting a dress for a doll. Silly, yes. I won't describe the doll because I do have the words "voluntary simplicity" in this blog title and this doll is definitely not consistent with that philosophy. In my defense, I will say that I'm at least making clothes for the doll and not buying them from the catalog (where they cost more than the clothes worn by the doll's owner).

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Return from blogging hiatus

I was never a very regular blogger, but I admit that a 5-month lapse is extreme even by my standards. This is what happened: the kids went back to school, and while that technically should have freed up more time for blogging, it also freed up time for other things that were more compelling than blogging, at the time. Then the computer crashed and I had to get a new one and I still haven't gotten around to re-installing the ftp, so consequently, I have no photos to include. I always felt like I had to post a picture with my blog entry or else no one would want to read it. Obviously, I'm overcoming that mental handicap because here I am posting without photos.

If I did have the ftp installed, I could post some great photos. I will have to do that, maybe tomorrow (that means probably sometime next month -- I'm spiritually on Mexican time, although a quick glance out my window confirms that I'm physically nowhere near Mexico, unless Mexico has suddenly relocated to the Arctic).

The photos I would show you -- if anyone is actually reading this; I really don't know why anyone would -- would be of spectacular finished knitting projects. Since August, I have completed three sweaters, two pairs of socks and an afghan. The "Donegal" celtic-swirl fair isle-type thing went to my hubby as an anniversary present. It is gorgeous and I'm sad to say that there are few men of our acquaintance who own such a beautiful sweater. Most of the men I see are in dreadfully ugly sweaters but they unfortunately do not have me to knit for them. Sigh.

Both of my children received sweaters for Christmas. My daughter's was the cat sweater that some of you (I don't know who since I'm certain no one is reading this) may have seen in Norsk Strikkedesign. My son's sweater was a simple gansey. I finished it at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 25.

I finished the afghan just after midnight on New Year's Eve (so technically it was finished in 2005, but I'm counting it as a completed 2004 project), which would imply that festivities were somewhat limited at my house. That would be correct. I believe I rang in the New Year upstairs in bed with crochet hook in hand and a movie in the VCR while my hubby was downstairs reading sports stories on the Internet. That's 15 years of marriage for ya!

The afghan is gorgeous, of course. Recall that it was the crochet project using the Tierra Wools yarn (I still write like I think someone might be reading). I will post a photo eventually, maybe.

And the afghan is an interesting tie-in to my sudden inspiration to blog again. Tierra Wools, as you will recall, is in northern New Mexico and I purchased the yarn there during spring break two years ago. Just minutes ago I read this blog from a carfree dad in Santa Fe. I may have mentioned this before, but Santa Fe is the place I would most like to live. It is the setting of many of my favorite fantasies, some involving Val Kilmer, who reportedly has a ranch in the neighborhood.

So that's the connection. Now if anyone reads this blog, I may be tempted to post again! With photos!