Category Archives: St Paul Stuff

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?

My Little Boy…

Still single, hm.

Still single, hmmm

…is not so little any more.

Max is 16 on January 31. And he’s tall.

He’s taller than I am, and shows every indication of growing taller. He was named (in part) after my uncle Jim Bob (his real name was Max Hurl) who was 6’6″, so he has a way to go!

I’m not sure what we did to get such a loving, funny, happy, easy-going, sometimes kind-of-lazy, brilliant, not-as-hard-working-as-his-sister (who is?), WONDERFUL son, but we did. And we’re proud and happy and absolutely joyous.

Max's First Birthday

Max’s First Birthday

When the American Cancer Society ran a series of ads a few years ago (“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”) I would cry every time I saw one (heck, I cry at coffee ads)

In our house we treasure Gerry’s birthdays (he has one next week, in fact!) but we treasure ALL of the milestones we didn’t think he’d be seeing – like Max’s 16th birthday!

Because we live in a city with good mass transit, not great parking in our immediate neighborhood, and a teeny-tiny garage, neither Hannah nor Max are driving (or has even taken driver’s ed.)

So this birthday isn’t the same milestone it might be for a driving kid. But it’s a milestone none-the-less.

Maybe, instead of a car, I’ll buy him a new bus pass?

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, a gallery of our beautiful boy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX LANDY!

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So Tired, So Happy!

Linarite in

Linarite in Worsted Weight

 

What an amazing week.  WOW.

I have a kind of heady exhaustion right now I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s the kind of post-show-opening buzz one feels the day after first night of a hard theatrical production.

A few things I did this week, each requiring varying amounts of mental and/or physical energy:

1. Dentist visit, where I discovered that I will have to have the end molar on my upper left side extracted. Stress level: 9 of 10

2. Skein rolling & tying, whereby I created 100 skeins of our two yarn bases (a sock weight and a worsted weight) to ready them for dyeing. Not terribly difficult, but repetitive and soreness causing. Energy expended: 6 of 10

3. Headache from hell day, when I felt like my head was going to explode due to the dual instances of a large low pressure system arriving in the twin cities, and the realization I’d skipped my hbp meds for a few days because I got them confused with a different med. Hilarity ensued. It was especially stressful because the headache arrived the night before THE BIG DYE. Stress level: 7 of 10

4. THE BIG DYE, where my partner Kathleen and I carried all of our dyeing stuff and the aforementioned 100 skeins of yarn to our rented dye room and proceeded to dye them in 4 colors: Tanzanite, Gilmarite, Chabazite and Mercury.

First Four Colors

It was a very hard day, physically. Mentally, it had challenges, but overall it was splendid. Kathleen and I both learned a lot (because it was her first time doing any large scale dyeing, her learning curve was steep, but she was a TROUPER!) and when Gerry came to pick me up at 7pm I had 100 skeins of beautifully dyed yarn in various states of finish ready to pack into our trusty Hyundai.  Energy level: 10 of 10.  Stress level: 7 of 10.

5. Huge ice/snow storm arrived in the area, causing driving to be difficult and throwing a wrench into everything. Kathleen kindly drove on Dye Day, but Friday I was the driver of choice down to the Mayo Clinic for our regular visit, then home again in some of the worst traffic I’ve seen in the TC (ice + Friday during holiday season = bad traffic!)  We didn’t just have to drive home, but I had to get out to Golden Valley to pick up our girl (I was 2 hours late) and bring her home for the weekend. Oy. Stress level: 8 of 10.

6. Mayo visit, which went very well.  Gerry’s numbers are good, holding steady and I love our oncologist/hematologist. She’s a gem, lovely, funny, kind and she almost feels like family. In fact, last year when we drove out to La Jolla, she invited us to stay at her aunt & uncle’s home in Sedona on the way. LOVE HER.

During the visit she told us a joke, prefacing it with, “You’re going to DIE laughing!”  Which struck me as hysterical because she’s one of the main reasons Gerry HASN’T died of Multiple Myeloma.  It was a week filled with Dyeing/Dieing talk. Stress level -3 of 10. Yay!

7. Book deal, which I’ve kept quiet. I didn’t intend to sign up with a publisher, but I was approached with pretty much carte blanche by a publisher I respect, and I realized this would be a great vehicle to promote our new yarn AND get some press for some other indy dyers. So I’ve requested that every project in my next book will be worked up using yarn from independent dyers, with notes (and perhaps even second samples) worked in a more commercially available yarn, too.  I’m in the process of contacting dyers whose work I know and love, or who I feel I owe some exposure to since they’ve been SO kind in allowing me to use their yarn for swatching and submitting.  More on this later, but it was ironic that it all happened this week!

The best part is I retain all rights for my design, the advance – while not huge – is adequate and I get to choose/arrange my own photographer & models (which makes me very happy!)  Stress level 4 of 10, but in a good way!

8. No Coast Craft Show, where My Friend London sells her beautifully hand dyed and spun fibers, is this weekend and I’ll be over there helping London out. Which means I’ll be sitting on my butt and schmoozing. C’mon on by if you’re in the twin cities, I won’t be there til after noon (I have to catch  my bus in 20 minutes!) I’m taking the bus because…

9. Crazy Kids Weekend, when Hannah has her SAT (again) this morning, and Max had to be at his all-day debate team event at 6:45 am. After getting home from it at 10pm last night. He LOVES it, he seems to excel at it, and we’re proud of him! Hannah’s not put the studying into the SAT that I would have wished, but it’s her third time taking it.  She’s taking it again because THIS time she was finally granted extra time for her ADHD, which should make a great deal of difference in her math scores.  Stress level 5 of 10, but Gerry’s dealing with it and the kids are taking the bus home.

So how was YOUR week?

 

 

DocU Camera SPNN

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

DocU ScreeningThis Summer was a departure for me in many ways, and I kept pretty mum about the biggest goal I embraced.

In addition to a pretty full design plate, I filmed & edited a short 10-minute documentary.

It was an adventure from start to finish, and I learned a TON about so many things (including—as always—about myself!)

I was part of DocU, a mentorship program our local public access TV station (SPNN) started last year.  I was one of twelve folks chosen to participate, and I was thrilled!

I wasn’t certain that my idea for a documentary about caregivers would pan out, would be worth watching, so I kept quiet about it.  I wanted to present caregivers not as heros, but as regular folks who do what they do because of love, and whose lives are equally enriched and complicated by the act of caregiving.

Essentially I wanted to examine how caregiving – giving CARE – translates into giving JOY.  And that’s the name of the doc – Giving Joy.

As of Sept 7th Giving Joy will be available to view online (link to come).

If you’re in the Twin Cities and would like to come to the screening on Sept 7th,
leave a comment and I’ll add you to the invitation list!

I was aided in the shooting by Gerry (who knows SO much about everything video) and Max (who worked at SPNN last Summer in the Youth Program, so was allowed to handle the camera and lights and was my ‘muscle’)  The filming went really well, I was able to get some great interviews with folks from Family Means in Stillwater, the Minnesota Board on Aging and a couple of other caregivers.

For B Roll (all of that footage in a doc that isn’t someone talking) I used quite a bit of still photography from our own family adventure with caregiving, and I also shot some great footage with Gerry and Max down at the Mayo clinic one sleepy Sunday.

But the part of the class I really loved was the editing.  I was in my element!
I’d taken an Avid editing class back in 1995 in NY, and at the time I loved my introduction to non-linear video editing.  Since then I’ve edited various knitting videos for my classes and websites, and a series of videos for Zealana Yarns highlighting some of my favorite techniques using their yarn.

But this was my first foray into Adobe Premiere, and it went very well.  I’m familiar with the Adobe ‘feel’, I use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign regularly and have my own keyboard shortcuts that I insert into each app to make them feel ‘right’ to me.

Premiere was not entirely intuitive, some of it felt a bit kludgy, but it soon began to feel better and, with the help of Lynda.com classes, I felt fairly accomplished in a short time.

Because I purchased InDesign last year to do the layout for History on Two Needles (yes, I wrote, knitted (most of) the garments, made the charts & schematics, photoshopped all of the images AND designed and laid out the pages of the book!) I was eligible to sign up for the Adobe Creative Cloud for $20/month, allowing me access to ALL of the Adobe Suite apps.  This is a crazy bargain, and I have been grateful ever since!

I tell my knitting students that there are two sure ways to really learn a new skill; make a mistake, or teach someone. Mistakes I made — plenty of mistakes! — and I volunteered to help a couple of students who had stronger filming & interviewing skills but were falling behind in the short time allowed for editing.

After all, I was so fortunate to be able to do much of my editing at home,
it was only fair I used some of my time to help other folks out.

Will this experience be the start of a new chapter in my life? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t mind if I could eventually work in that field. Aside from knitting, nothing has felt so — right — in my hands immediately.

I have plans for a few other video projects that I’m really excited about, I’ll talk about them more when the time is right!

Pain Identifies Me

It’s been a crazy, pain-filled few days and I don’t know why.

I’ve been living a relatively clean life; no gluten, biking as much as I can (in the heat), keeping the sweets & dairy to a minimum.  But the pain has been rather intense.

IMG_0004

Me, ostensibly working, in my sky chair in the backyard. Why do I always look drunk?

I’m beginning to wonder if one of the triggers for my Fibromyalgia may be heat? Who knows. Almost 4 years in and I’m still learning stuff.

When I was in my 20’s, my 30’s, even my 40’s, I had SO much more energy.

I could do anything – and many days I did!  I could bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pain, wash the pain (and the whole kitchen) PAINT the kitchen, remodel the kitchen, and THEN make you feel like a ma-a-a-an!

But I am utterly exhausted almost every day.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I am just drained. And I hate it.

Recently we spent a weekend with some friends, and the fact of my constant exhaustion was brought home when I needed to take not ONE but TWO naps one day. This is the kind of thing I can ignore within my own family, but it becomes noticeable (and noticed) when other folks are around.

IMG_0008

The sleeping doxy

The dogs were thrilled, both Jasper and another guest’s sweet little doxy crawled into bed with me, and we three tired pups slept the afternoon away.

I apologize if I sound whiney –  I didn’t used to be so worried about whining, but a few years ago a rather nasty blog commented on how odd it was that I was always “moaning about my health, but could ride my bike to the top of the Wallace monument”  Yeah, whatever. 

IMG_0033

My bike by a tiny Free Library in St. Paul

Some folks are always going to be nasty about something, and it shouldn’t matter.  Except the comment is trapped in my head like a wasp against a window and it buzzes every time the pain overwhelms. me.

 

I know my exhaustion comes from pain. Pain EATS energy for breakfast, then asks for more for lunch. If no energy is forthcoming, pain goes on a rampage and sets the garage on fire before fleeing the scene. Pain is a perp.

IMG_0029

My bike at the Lyndale Rose Garden

And, as I’ve related ad nauseam, I deal with the pain with my bike, with yoga (in the winter) and with stretching.

Usually I can beat the pain back.

Or at least I can reason with it and
distract it while I make my escape.

 

So today I took a pain pill – not something I do regularly (perhaps I should take one prophylactically when I know it’s going to be so hot) – and I’m feeling on top of the world right now.  Where’s that frying pan…?

IMG_0025

I offered a “Heat Wave” discount during my class last night, the current temp minus my ideal temp of 70º = 29% off on my books!

DARN KNIT ANYWAY

Last night I taught a lace class at Darn Knit Anyway, which is SUCH a lovely yarn shop in Stillwater, MN!  I love to visit there, I always find inspiration in the choice of yarns they carry (they have a good eye – or perhaps it’s that we share the same taste!)

The class was smallish, but that allowed me to really dig into the theory of lace, why stitches move the way they do, how to create scallops and waves in the edges of your work (intentionally!) and different ways to make a decrease / increase.  Overall, it was a very good class (and I sold a few books, too!)

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St. Paul Cathedral at 9pm, on my bike ride home from SPNN

I’m excited to be teaching the same class next Saturday, this time the class is full, 16 folks at last count.  Perhaps they’ll have me back to teach classes on some other topics, that would be great!

All in all, a really terrific experience on a hot, hot day!

My plans on this steamy day are to bike downtown, sit at an air conditioned Caribou Coffee and knit, then head over to SPNN and edit from 4-9 (it’s ALWAYS cool in the edit suite!)

Yes, I’m working on a project for a documentary class I’m taking at SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network), our local public access station.  It’s going very well, and I’m LOVING the editing portion.

More on this later as it transpires…

Cuff Bracelets

A Few Cool Things

Saturday I helped out My Friend London at Craftstravaganza in St. Paul at the MN State Fairgrounds. I biked there and home in a chilly wind, but it was worth it for the pain relief!

Sunday I spent Mother’s Day with my darling daughter and two great friends at Shepherd’s Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN, doing a book signing and making some fun purchases.

I also got to be part of the Homespun Journey Podcast, which was great fun!
It’s always great to meet a passionate fiber lover!

My friends Kathleen Pascuzzi and Karen Ryan are so great! As the four of us (Kathleen, Karen, Hannah & myself) sat at the Louisiana Cafe enjoying a delicious breakfast (Hannah’s intro to hollandaise sause!) I reflected on how fortunate our family has been in our Minnesota friendships.

Where were Gerry and Max on a lovely Mother’s Day? At the TWINS game! They were gifted tickets by another great St. Paul friend, Robin Mayfield

BTW, if you’re looking for a compassionate, respectful, brilliant and diligent divorce attorney, Robin’s your woman!

I misted up a bit thinking what  friendship like theirs, and London’s, has meant not just to me, but to our entire family. It’s been six years since we moved here, and the folks who have befriended our family have made our lives here VERY rich and full.

When I wander a craft fair or fiber show, I LOVE to connect with folks who make exceptional things, and I especially love to write about them later. Although, I must admit that I often feel badly when I post about cool makers, KNOWING that I’ve missed many folks who were also exceptional.

I hate that feeling that my oversight could be taken as a judgement. If you were at either show and I missed you, PLEASE feel free to add a link in my comments to your site!

So, with the caveat that there were probably folks who were doing AMAZING things and I may have missed them, here are some of the cool and beautiful things I’ve seen over the past two days!

Lovely Felted Scarf

Lovely Felted Scarf

Jill Lynn
Fiber Artist

Jilllynn.com

Jill works with felting, and sells finished items and materials to create your own beautiful felted items.

She was exhibiting at Shepherd’s Harvest, and I was in love with her skill, designs and her color choices!

A beautiful felted scarf by Jill Lynn

Another gorgeous felted scarf

One of her repeating themes was a lovely scarf which looked like leaves folded around a neck, with felted bobbles.

One version was double sided, with two colors and so much depth.

Jill’s work was skillful and joyful – it’s times like these that I wish I had an unlimited bank account to buy pretty things whenever I see them!

Devin Johnson
MakeShift Accessories

I couldn’t tear myself away from Devin’s booth at Craftstravaganza, and I wasn’t the ONLY one! Many folks recycle industrial items in their art, but I’ve seldom seen it done with more finesse than in Devin’s cuff bracelets.

Cuff Bracelets

Cuff Bracelets

I have SUCH a love for machined signs – I photograph them wherever I see them (there’s a terrific one in the elevator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art) and they make me smile. To me, work like this represents a love for your craft, no matter how pedestrian it may seem, which really resonates with this knitter.

More Cuffs

More Cuffs

Devin’s pieces are DEFINITELY going onto my “What to do with extra cash” pinterest board!

il_fullxfull.438970536_79pcCindy Lindgren
Illustrator

Cindy’s work is exceptional, and I’d seen it around in various Twin City gift shops without realizing it  was hers.  I was so happy to be able to meet her in person, and just sorry that my pocketbook didn’t allow me to indulge my love for her clear, precise, well colored and love-filled art.home_main

Visiting her website, I discovered that she ALSO designs fabric - WAHOO!!

I have placed my order, I’ll be wearing a skirt made of Cindy Lindgren fabric at TNNA, be warned!

After meeting Cindy, I realized that I had wandered onto her Etsy shop earlier and had favorited her – it was just lovely to meet her in person!

 

Boucle Earrings

Boucle Earrings

Jennifer Putzier
Isette

Delicate yet very strong, the lovely pieces crafted by Jennifer are lightweight and graphic, very compelling, and VERY wearable! Many of the pieces seem to be inspired by typography, used very effectively. These are not pieces that fade into the background, these are lovely pieces that make a statement!

In addition to the beautiful jewelry, Jennifer sells tiny lightweight wood cross stitch canvases which are exquisite (many were beautifully embroidered, and empty ones are also available for your own threaddy interpretation!)

il_570xN.239953488London Nelson
My Friend London

And, last but not least, my own good friend London was selling her exquisitely scented candles and beautiful hand-spun yarn.

If you didn’t get that skein you were hoping for this Mother’s Day, perhaps you’d like to pick up one of London’s beautiful fiber poems?

Assuming the Best

It’s busy season for me, I have (at last count) 14 designs which have been accepted in the past few weeks, most of which are due during the month of April (I’ve finished several already, and some of them are small pieces)

So that’s good – and that’s mortgage for a few months.  Mortgage is good!

I’m also trying to set up teaching gigs where/when I can, working in designs for another book, and doing the ‘taking care of family’ thing. Life is busy, which is better than the alternative!

I’ve also been doing some serious soul searching. I guess I do soul searching on a pretty regular basis, I tend to think a lot – assess my actions and words, try to understand how they impact others, and consider ways to change my words and deeds so that I leave as much peace in my wake as possible.

Obviously, I don’t always achieve this.

Misunderstandings happen. In my case they tend to revolve around miscommunication more than anything else; I’ve not explained something well, I’ve heard something incorrectly, or something I said was translated/related to someone erroneously.  One of my big goals in life is to catch those as soon as they happen, try to address them and offer my sincere apology / explanation for what might have gone wrong.

Taking responsibility and working to resolve an issue is, I am convinced, the hardest yet most worthwhile thing I need to do as a freelancer / small business owner.

There are times when I know there’s been a misunderstanding, but it’s been practically impossible to figure out what has actually happened.

For instance, a few years ago an event organizer – for no reason I could discover – recommended that I not be hired at the event again.  This kind of stuff happens in the knitting world, especially when someone is as outspoken as I can be, and I’ve long come to terms with the fact that not every teacher is every event’s perfect fit.  And, generally, when I don’t get asked back to teach somewhere it’s mutual and I understand why.

But I had no IDEA what had gone wrong in this case. I wrote to the organizer for clarification but didn’t hear back. I kept hitting brick walls. It was painful, and because it was such a mystery, and it seemed to strike at the very core of my identity as a hand knit teacher. I found that it actually impacted my willingness to reach out to new venues, I felt as though I had a bad smell.

A few years went by, I was still in the dark, but I was invited to give a talk at a sister event by the same organization. The talk went well, I didn’t wear my glasses so – blind as a bat – I evidently smiled and charmed and whooped it up from stage with the person who had been angry with me. And all was forgiven. And I still don’t know what I did in the first place.

Heaven knows that I have an – ahem – strong personality and I was more than willing to accept that I’d said or done something which had caused a riff (even if I was entirely oblivious to what I might have done.) But it remains a mystery, and all’s well that ends well.

I write this because I’ve learned that the world of knitting teachers / events / retreat / symposiums is a world of interesting stories. Sometimes these stories can cause folks to become upset with someone else, and it’s very possible that the tiny little nut at the center of the disagreement is something inconsequential, even neutral. I guess a lot of the world is like this – perhaps a bit like junior high school – where we pass stories and gossip around, because that’s the nature of being human beings in a society!

Every day I try to grow, to become a better person, or at least not to be a worse person than I was when I went to sleep the night before. It sounds so easy, but it’s very hard – we all know this, I think we all try to do the same thing.

Recently I visited a local business and was treated incredibly rudely. The manager of the business was so vitriolic that one of the other customers (a woman I’d never met) followed me to my car to express her sympathy with the manager’s outburst, and to say that she was as mystified as I was as to what had actually just happened.

It was silly, but this really bad experience stuck with me. I was already in a bad place from some other stuff that had happened, and I allowed this to push me into a spiral – taking me to a “I’m just a rotten human being!” self pity place that was NO help at all.

I talked about it to friends, I went over the experience in my mind, and finally I just let it go – I figured that the manager was having a very bad day I happened to wander into it.

I tried to do what my mother always asked me to do: Assume the best.

Mom would ask me to ‘assume the best’ whenever someone was mean to me.

“Assume that they’re really a nice person at heart, but today something terrible happened to them and they can’t help but be angry and you happen to be there.”

“Assume that last night they were up all night with a sick kid and they have NO energy left and allowed it to get the better of them.”

Because, as my mom said, “If you assume the best, the worst you’ll look is a fool.  If you assume the worst, you could look like a bitch. And I’d rather look like a fool than a bitch.”

And, as Al Franken says, “When you assume you make an ass out of Uma Thurman”

And then today a kind of miracle happened.

The store manager sent me chocolate. She wrote a note to apologize for her behavior, and she sent me a box of candy.  I’m blown away.

I love it when things like this happen; the chocolate, getting asked back to teach at an event that I love, someone reaching out to clarify something instead of allowing it to fester.

I’m trying hard to keep these GOOD things close to my soul and dwell on them instead of pulling out the bad/wrong/mean things that happen (which always seem to find a way to worm themselves into my heart when I’m at a low point…)

And I will eat some chocolate. And ponder to whom I should send a box…

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A Most Joyful Post

I wanted to wait until a month had passed before sharing our good news (which some of you already know) but we have a new addition to our family!

IMG_0385Meet JASPER!

He’s a Standard Poodle, a rescue, his background is sketchy but what we know is that he was with a breeder who may not have been as kind to him as they should have. He’s 3 years old, and when we first met him before Christmas he was calm but a little uneasy, he had kind eyes, but he wasn’t connecting in a joyful way with Gerry or myself.

IMG_0288I saw him on a rescue website, and on a fluke his foster mom happened to be in our neighborhood the day before we left for Southern CA and brought him by. We had to make our decision kind of quickly, I think I was more definite than Gerry was (although he wasn’t against the adoption, just not as certain as I was)

Jasper’s foster mom told us that he had been a bit nervous, had a few peeing accidents when he was scared or startled, and of course that was a concern. He even had a little ‘doggie-depends’ contraption to wear when I picked him up from the foster home on 1/4/13.

IMG_0346But what really sold me on Jasper were his eyes. He had incredibly kind and empathetic eyes. I feel that you can tell a lot from an animal if you listen with your heart (that sentence was a little maudlin, I apologize) and Jasper – who was called Chase by his foster family – seemed like a dog in search of someone to trust.

The kids reacted differently; Hannah was pretty upset that she learned about the possible adoption when I facebooked about it (totally understandable) and Max was neutral about the possibility.

IMG_0400During our 2 weeks away we discussed the dog a lot, and one thing that made the kids feel more engaged with the process was renaming him. Hannah hated the name Chase for some reason, we all have likes and dislikes that are hard to explain. Max suggested Jasper, and we all liked it. I felt it was close enough to Chase that it wouldn’t be too confusing, and as far as we knew he’d only been “Chase” for a few months.

I picked up Jasper alone, so it would be a calm situation. When I got home we realized that Jasper was scared of tall men and growled at Max when he first met him. It took about a week, but slowly Jasper and Max befriended each other (Max became “Mr. Walk” and “Mr. Food”, and that helped Jasper trust him).

IMG_0001 Hannah didn’t immediately bond with Jasper, I think she still felt a bit alienated from him because the process happened outside of her time at home, but slowly she, too, has come around and is loving Jasper.

The cats weren’t thrilled after having the run of the house for a few months, but it only took Ginger a little over a week to climb into bed and sleep next to Jasper. Nitro is longer coming around, but she’s definitely not afraid of him, and he’s not bothering her, so the path ahead looks clear.

IMG_2040Jasper is trusting us so much now, loving us, really becoming one of the family. One of the great joys of this dog is actually SEEING how his love for his new family is growing; it’s both touching and delightful. We are VERY lucky!

My friend London came over and Jasper fell head-over-heels in love with her! He wouldn’t get off her lap, just loving her, acting like a tiny poodle instead of a huge Standard. He also loves my friend Kathleen, he acts so excited and happy when she comes over. Loving our friends is a huge mark in Jasper’s favor!

We took Jasper to the vet and she gave him a clean bill of health. He was only fixed over New Year’s holiday, so he has a LOT more muscle mass than our last poodle, who was fixed as a pup.

He’s an unusual silvery-grey color with brown marks, really quite beautiful. His eyes are so soulful, he speaks volumes when he looks at us. We’ve trained him to do some small, silly tricks and also some helpful stuff like HEEL and STAY. He’s GREAT on walks, and never pulls when walking over ice (which is very important for both Gerry and I).

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa...

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa…

We took him for a family trip to our local dog run at Battle Creek Park and he was SO HAPPY! That really was a momentous event for all of us, it sealed the deal – emotionally – for both kids, and was the most joyful we’d seen our previously sad pup. We all felt very lucky to be part of that day, when Jasper let loose and showed how much he loves us.

So welcome to Jasper, our new love.

I was likin' the lichen...
(no, I didn't say licking)

I’m Not Supposed To Be Here

I was likin’ the lichen…
(no, I didn’t say licking)

I am supposed to be camping an hour East of St. Paul. But here I am.

Why?

It rained like a son-of-a-gun.

We set up our beautiful camp, everything was smashing! Max rode his bike to go get wood, we started a fire, then Max and Gerry left to go get marshmallows.

During the Deluge
(Oh the humanity, and our beautiful fire!)

And then there was a deluge.

We knew there was a 50% chance of rain, but we risked it.

WHAT A STORM. When Gerry and Max returned (after I’d stowed everything under the picnic table and in the tent, where I huddled with a VERY frightened Atticus who does NOT like thunder) they sat in the car for 30 minutes because the rain was SO hard that to get out would have been to get soaked for no reason.  Because of Gerry’s mobility issues, we chose a drive-in campsite.

Plus, we have satellite radio for another month. We got 3 months free when we got the car. So they just listened to funny stuff and watched me. Ha ha.

Working by the Campfire
(pre-deluge)

So when the rain subsided a bit we packed up the necessities, stowed everything else in the tent, locked up the bikes and skedaddled home.

At 9pm it’s still raining.

But it’s supposed to be GORGEOUS tomorrow & Sunday, so we’re heading back bright and early for canoeing fun (Gerry and Max will do that, I’ll hang out at the campsite and dry stuff off, and knit…)

Here are a few pics from today. Some lichen, a shot of me working BEFORE the storm, and a shot taken from the tent during the storm.

 Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet ~ Bob Marley

Did you miss me?

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet.  When weeks pass and I don’t post on my blog, I sometimes think, “Why do I even HAVE a blog…”

Then someone writes me, tells me how much they gained from reading back posts, and I realize that I won’t always be in this slow, slow period in my life.

I’ll speed up and post more regularly when I’m mentally and physically more in tune with everything.

Right now I’m just feeling a bit blah (perhaps Rick Santorum was speaking about me?) and at the same time a bit harried and confused.  An odd and unsettling mix.

I’ve been feeling exceptionally depressed some recent days, and I can’t help but feel it’s strongly tied to the fibro.  A rheumatologist I saw in Nov said that I was doing much better than many of her other patients, and I’ve been getting good light and taking my Vit D3 (although on her suggestion I cut back – maybe I need to increase it again?) 

It’s a silly kind of depressive feeling where I know I need help with some things, but I’m feeling just foolish and worthless enough to NOT ask for help.

Yes, I know how dopey that sounds, and unhelpful, please don’t scold me in the comments – you won’t tell me anything I don’t already know.

I think I also took a backspin on our weekend up to Camp Menogyn.  It was lovely, but physically it was so far beyond what I was capable of (the long walk across the lake in the dark upon our arrival winded me and cramped up my muscles in an odd way) 

I can do a long walk slowly, but dragging a sled of luggage and having no idea exactly how FAR we were walking was disorienting and unsettling.

Once at the lodge the folks were nice, but I had the feeling I’d wandered into someone else’s family reunion – and I wasn’t exactly part of the family.

A few other folks felt the same way (more knitters than I’d expected) so we made a small band of crafters in a very loud environment – what I wouldn’t have given for a smaller, quiet room with some decent light!

The cook was absolutely wonderful at creating something gluten free for me at each meal, so kind of her!

But I felt as if I were – useless?  Not able to keep up?  An outsider?  Most of those feeling sprang from within me, I know.  A lot of it was probably ‘first timer syndrome’, too!

So while I muse about a good blog post to put up in the next few days, here’s a short video about one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities – the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail.

As the temps will be hitting the high 40’s today (this is Minnesota, right?) I’m going out for a long ride today to try to clear my mind, relax my body and lose the cobwebs that have been clouding every part of my existence. 


Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway
by Streetfilms

Biking is SO much easier for me than walking.  I’d rather bike 10 miles than walk a block, the pain when I bike is negligible, but when I walk I feel sore all over.  And this, of course, makes me feel guilty in some niggling way.