The Places In My Neighborhood

In 2016 we decided to downsize from our lovely home over in the Crocus Hill area of St. Paul to the East Side, by Lake Phalen.

It’s a different neighborhood — slightly less ‘well off’ — but dynamic and beautiful.  It’s an area where folks have lived for generations, and new folks are moving in and starting their own traditions.  We really love it, and love the neighbors we’ve met along the way!

I’m supposed to try to get out and do some walking each day, to keep my strength up and make it easier to transition back to ‘healthy person’ when this cancer thing is over.  For years WALKING has been so terribly difficult for me, it’s one of the reasons I’ve become an avid cyclist. But with my walker, it’s much easier to get around.

Hopefully I won’t be walker-bound forever, but right now it makes life much easier.

So each morning as soon as the sun’s up I get out for a nice walk in the cool of the morning.  Here are some of the sights I see on one of my daily walks:

Big Beautiful Sunflower With A Bee, Down The Block

Hmong Neighbors Mean Nice Pho!

I’m attached to my pump through my port

My Chemo Pump Is My Constant Companion

I LOVE This Tidy Bungalow!

Lovely, Shady House With Happy Fence

 

Strategizing

When Gerry was diagnosed wth his OWN blood cancer (Multiple Myeloma) in April, 2007, we were new folks in a new state (Minnesota!) with a couple of great kids who were newly placed in their brand new schools.

Max was a 4th grader at Randolph Heights elementary, where he quickly found a place with new friends (our neighborhood was LOADED with boys just his age, and he created some wonderful friendships right off the bat.)

Gerry Gazes at Scotland

We felt lucky to get Andy a place at the Linwood A+ school, which had an arts focus, and she did okay there.  Few things are perfect, but it was a lovely school at a tough time in all of our lives, and it was nearby and filled with active, caring parents and teachers.  Really, what more could one really need?

Giving Care
And me? I felt like was running, running, running.  Every day more running, never finished with what needed to be finished, learning to let things go that simply didn’t matter as much as what might be on the horizon.

And THAT was our default mode for years.

Trying to find joy and opportunities for growth for the kids, seeking as little pain and as much hope for Gerry, and me? Just chasing down freelance gigs and jobs that would dovetail with my own duties as Gerry’s caregiver and pay our mortgage was enough of a daily grind for me.

The spotlight that I knowingly focused on my family at this time has been debated online, folks have opinions about the wisdom/good taste of me writing and blogging about Gerry’s illness.

I took heart from the fact that Gerry seemed to love the blog, he was very happy with the book I wrote (basically the blog, plus extra bits) and I think he was proud of me.

We haven’t discussed it in so many words, but after 25 years of marriage, you have a sense of how your partner is accepting something, if you allow yourself to hear with your whole being.

Giving Joy
I was dedicated to not just getting THROUGH Gerry’s cancer journey, but to doing it with love and growth, passion and, yes, Joy.

A few years into our St. Paul adventure I signed up for a workshop at our local Public Access TV Station.  Max had been involved with them through an after-school-work program that the City of St. Paul had set up. Have I mentioned yet today JUST how livable and amazing our adopted town is?

Meta Max

SPNN, St. Paul Neighborhood Network, is an amazing resource, and given Max’s Television DNA* a perfect fit for him.  Watching him grow, and then seeing him learning to lead and teach other young people, THAT was the most amazing part of being a Mom during Max’s journey.

Andy moved in a direction totally new to any of us, which is exactly as it should be!  Once we were able to get both kids involved in the Breakthrough  Program, they found their places and just continued to grow.  We had to FIGHT to get Andy in, her teacher at the time was under the assumption that because, quite frankly, we were white, we had no place in the program.

So she withheld Andy’s application, and didn’t even send it in.  When we discovered this, I spent a few busy afternoons chasing down signatures and talking with program directors, and they promised that Andy would definitely be considered for the program.  Then we heard she was in, and we were so grateful!  It was the start of a very good chapter for both Max AND Andy, setting them up for success in high school and college.

Andy Draws On Her Love of Nature

At it’s heart, Breakthrough St. Paul (BSP) is a program designed to help kids who might fall through the cracks get on the right track and get into college.  Because of the topsy-turvey cancer life we’d been living, some days just feeling BARELY able to keep it together, the assistance that BSP lent us made a huge difference.

For Andy, perhaps the biggest milestone was a week-long canoe trip in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.  This was arranged through BSP, the kids left from YMCA Camp Menogyn and happily paddled about for a week.

If I’d previously thought of Andy-and-the-outdoors at all, it was taking a bike ride, or a walk through the South Mountain Reservation (back in NJ.)  I did not expect the strong, formidable, brave and beautiful canoe goddess that began to emerge in place of my child.

Beautiful, Fierce Becca!

Each year Andy’s canoeing exploits grew longer, until by high school’s end Andy and 4 other women embarked on an amazing 52-day, 2-canoe trip through the Canadian Arctic, led by brave and resourceful Becca (who eventually became our first “payroll” Part Time Dyer at ModeKnit Yarn!  We’re one big family!)

Each child growing so differently.  So much joy that brings.  Andy went to canoe camp, Max went to debate camp, and life is always an adventure.

Care Taker?
In the same way our kids grow independent, part of a family but also vastly different, Gerry and I have cancer journeys that seem to diverge into a yellow wood.

We’d debated the term—and kicked about the role—of caregiver between us.  When Gerry was at his low point, I was there.  But a few years later when I seemed struck with Fibromyalgia** our story turned inside out a bit and he cared for me SO beautifully.

Now that I’m fighting my OWN blood cancer (Stage 4 B-Cell Lymphoma) my ability to be a care giver is in question, and with the return of Gerry’s cancer last Fall (and the complications from his latest drug therapy, 2 heart attacks in March) Gerry caring for anyone other than Gerry is out of the question.

Gerry’s caring strength rests in comprehending and explaining the ins and outs of our insurance, and he does that VERY well. Ever family should be so lucky to have a steward like him watching out for the asshattery of Insurance Companies as they try to find ways to screw us maximize profits.

<Rant>
We are DAMNED FORTUNATE to be living in Minnesota, where the government really DOES care whether it’s citizens have decent health coverage and, for the most part, refuse to play political games with our health.

This means that I don’t just have insurance, I have DAMNED GOOD insurance. When a state will allow it, the ACA WORKS!  When folks try to throw wrenches in the works simply to prove how much they hate Barack Obama, they do nothing but hurt their own citizens.  What on earth could be LESS patriotic that hurting American Citizens simply to win a political argument?

What I have is what EVERY AMERICAN deserves.  Freedom to pursue the healing plan that my doctor feels is right for me, and the right to question that, augment it, or change it.
</Rant>

But back to our family’s strategy for CANCER II, MOM’S TURN.  We’re still figuring it out.

Enter Andy
Fortunately I have a loving and willing caregiver in the form of Andy, just out of college, not yet employed, filled with love and capability!

In my condition, requiring help with several personal, intimate duties, I will most likely be permitted a PCA (Personal Care Assistant) and, if possible, I’m hoping we can make Andy that person.  I’ll get the help I need, Andy’ll have a paying job, and the school loans can start to get paid back!

It's ALIVE!

Time To Care For Me, Now!

Max will be returning to college soon, and I will miss him.  But at the same time, it’s got to be impossibly difficult for a young man to see his mom in such a physically debilitated state.  Moms & Sons, such a wonderful, yet delicate dance we do.

I don’t have a ton of pride, I’m more of a self-respect type of woman.  The nurses at my various procedures are constantly trying to tie up my gown, or throw another robe on me, scandalized by my milky white rear end  floating like a moon around my bed.

But I will cop to a certain pridefulness in front of my kids when I want to appear to be strong.  Once Max is back at school, I think I’ll be able to relax the standards a bit, not hold myself up quite so high, and I’m glad he won’t be here every day to see my fight through the chemo.

It’s a sad day when simply being CLOTHED is considered a high standard.

Tears
And now, just because I think it’s important for YOU to have a good, relaxing cry this Sunday morning, I bring you a lovely TV ad which features dogs, knitted dolls and love.  You’re welcome.

*Gerry and I have both worked in television, he as a producer-director, me in art & wardrobe departments. It seems we’ve passed this love on to Maxie.

**Did I have Fibromyalgia? DO I have it? Or was it this nascent tumor making itself known EVER THEN?

Moving In

Home, Sweet Home!

NEW Home, Sweet Home!

I feel like this Summer I’ve been a distracted, busy, active, aching, hot mess.

I’m always hot in the Summer, but I’m not usually so confused by simple things (which is the washer, and which is the dryer?) and more focused on daily tasks.  But this has been THE SUMMER OF THE MOVE, and if you’ve moved, you know what that’s like.

From March-June we were cleaning, packing, storing, painting, repairing, planting – just basically getting our house ready to put on the market.

I started the hashtag #HomeSaleFixup if you want to see the pictures from our transformation on social media.

That was exhausting, but we had a plan.  With Max leaving for college, and Andy a Junior at Earlham, we realized it was time to downsize in some respects.

We wanted to move into a home that would make mobility easier for Gerry and myself, would have rooms for Andy & Max (but not huge ones…) and would afford me a better space from which to run the dye operations for ModeKnit Yarn.

Vanity is painted!

Vanity is painted in the old house! SO MUCH WORK!

Early in our search we had included, “Garage workspace” or “Heated garage” in our search criteria on all of the real estate sites, but after finding NOTHING with a workable garage I decided to just give up and look for a functioning basement with a walk-out so I could easily transport yarn to and from our trailer for shows.

I REALLY wanted a stand-alone space like a garage, but I didn’t think I’d find it.  The business is growing beautifully, and my business partner Kathleen Pascuzzi and I realized that we would have to move to a larger space, so I was just hoping somehow I could roll that all into our home search.

The double bay is the new dye studio!

The double bay is the new dye studio!

After the house was on the market we discovered that Gerry’s cancer was raising it’s ugly head again, as it seems to do every 3 years or so, and that added a sense of urgency to the move.  Gerry always enters a new chemo phase by trying to organize things, I think it’s how he deals with the uncertainty of Multiple Myeloma. So this time he seemed determined to get us into a good space before his chemo starts in September, and I was happy to use that time frame.

Our new neighborhood

Our new Pokemon neighborhood

We were VERY fortunate in our agent, Claudia Assell from Home Avenue (a flat rate broker)  She was a wonderful asset as we put our house on the market!  Unfortunately, her long planned vacation coincided with the weekend we accepted a bid and so NEEDED to get out and FIND A HOME very quickly.

Sheep Dog Trials at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

Sheep Dog Trials at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

Enter Natasha Cejudo from Edina Realty.  We’d met with a few other realtors while looking for our listing agent, but none of them seemed to ‘gel’ with us.

We’d met Natasha by accident, and we really clicked!  She was excellent at showing us things that suited us, and we tried to make her job easier by checking out homes and neighborhoods (and thus eliminating a number of homes) before dragging her along to show us the interiors.

She’d heard of a home that was going on the market through her agency, so we were able to see it on the first day it was available for showings.  We arrived at 9:30 and we weren’t the first buyers to see it – THAT’S how hot the current real estate market is here in the Twin Cities.

Unpacking will be a BITCH.

Unpacking will be a BITCH.

The home was beautiful; it was essentially a smaller version of the house we were selling! Similar layout, architecture and era (1910’s bungalow with loads of lovely Arts & Craft wood)  We liked it, although we were hoping for something with a bedroom on the main floor.

Then we walked outside and saw The Garage.  The seller was a fine woodworker, and had built the garage to his specs in 2012.  It’s modern, heated, has an attic and is HUGE! Two of the bays in this 3-car garage will be the new dye studio for ModeKnit Yarn, the third will be where we keep our solo car.

After several fiber shows in a row, and a TON of teaching, I’ve spent most of this week dragging boxes up and down stairs and putting together shelves, tables and work area items for the dye studio.

Setting Up The Studio

Setting Up The Studio

It’s nowhere NEAR ready, but it should be usable by next week so I can start dyeing again!  And just in time!  We have a bunch of wholesale orders and some pretty large special orders coming up, along with two dye clubs Kathleen and I are cooking up and the regular dyeing I need to do for upcoming fiber shows.

While I deal with getting the business going again, Gerry is unpacking, putting stuff away, and dreaming of the things we need to get for the home to store our electronics.

Family Picnic at Lake Phalen

Family Picnic at Lake Phalen

We have a fence guy coming tomorrow so we can get that put in (and the dog will be happy to be running free!) Gerry’s made it a point of walking to the lake every day with Jasper, but as the days get colder and the chemo makes his days harder, we’ll be very glad for the fence!

I’ve been working so hard, I think today I’ll stop and take a break and go for a nice bike ride, I deserve it, and so does my mind and my body!

There’s a big lake a few blocks away that looks as though it needs to be circled a few times!  Maybe I’ll catch a few Pokemon!

End of Summer Wrap Up

The Family Picnics at Phalen Park, near our new home

A Family Picnic at Phalen Park, near our new home

In Minnesota, the last weeks of August have a crispness, especially in the morning, that is so delicious, it’s as if you could drink the air. It’s the start of my favorite season!

Since we first married Gerry’s said that as late Summer rolls around I start getting geared up for something different, NEW, to happen.  He says I always seem happier when there’s a change happening in the Fall, so this year should make me VERY happy!

New Status

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

The first main change is that Gerry and I are officially empty-nesters.

Both kids are firmly ensconced in their respective colleges, settled into dorms and preparing to start classes.

My business partner Kathleen and I drove Andy back to Earlham College in RIchmond, IN on our way to the Michigan Fiber Festival, where we’ll be returning next year, we loved it SO MUCH!

Every time I drop Andy off at college, I can’t believe how much I miss her – you’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.  I’m proud of her, I love her so much, and I’m happy that she’s happy at college.  But dang, I miss her.

ModeKnit Yarn; On The Road Again!

ModeKnit Yarn; On The Road Again!

While we were in Michigan enjoying an AMAZING fiber show (if you haven’t been to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, you should put it on your ‘fiber shows to visit’ list – it’s just wonderful), and avoiding tornados (we spent an hour in a basement waiting for the all clear), Gerry was driving Max up to U of Minnesota, Morris for his Freshman year.

This was something I was pretty shattered to miss.  I really wanted to take Max to college for his first year, but circumstances made that impossible.

Apparently he’s doing well, enjoying dorm life, and making friends.  I’m hoping to get a chance to drive up to Morris before I leave on our next fiber-related journey to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival on Sept 6th.

New House

Our new home, strikingly similar to our old home.

Our new home, strikingly similar to our old home.

We’ve sold our house (about a month ago) and found a new one over by Lake Phalen that is a perfect size for us!  Three bedrooms, but not huge ones, so it will be great for a kid home for the Summer.

The rooms are small enough to be temporary, large enough to be guest bedrooms/offices.

I may even have a sewing room for the first time, which would be amazing!

Our new home is actually a LOT like our current home; the layout is very similar, it’s a craftsman bungalow, approx the same age.

New House Stairway

New House Stairway

Although we were hoping to find a home with bedrooms on the ground floor, the stairs in our new home are wide and not deep, thus easy to walk up.

This hasn’t always been the case in our current home (I’m SO tired of ducking as I go down stairs!) so we’re very happy.  The decision, ultimately, was up to Gerry, who said he liked this house quite a bit and felt good in it.

New Studio

The GARAGE! Double bay is my new workspace!

The GARAGE! Double bay is my new workspace! More pics after the move in!

The most AMAZING part of the house, though, is outside.  Although the house is around 100 years old, the garage was just built in 2012 and it’s huge.  It has three bays, two of which are currently being used as a workspace for the current owner, a skilled furniture craftsman.  The garage is heated, and it will be an amazing workspace for ModeKnit Yarn!

The idea that I can dye yarn in a large, well-lit space (NOT in a basement!) just steps from my back door will be game changing!  Right now our dye studio is, essentially, my basement.  It’s been great for the first few years, but we’re growing now, and having more space is exactly what we need!  I’m looking into used restaurant kitchen tables (metal topped) for the dyeing, we’ll be putting in a sink and we’re also looking into a portable water heater so we don’t have to run a hot water line to the garage.

The Move

FRECKLES! Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti & Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

FRECKLES! Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti & Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

It’s been a Summer of work; painting, packing, showing the house, and now more packing and a final push of throwing things out!  We’ll be getting a dumpster to rid ourselves of large items we’ve amassed over the past 10 years.

I won’t be in town for the actual closing on our houses, Gerry will have to get by with a Power of Attorney, acting on my behalf.   Once again, I’ll be away at a fiber show, feeling as if I’m ignoring my domestic responsibilities, but knowing that business obligations are important, too.  It’s been a season of feeling torn.

We'll be in Wisconsin, Teaching & Vending Sept 8-11.

We’ll be in Wisconsin, Teaching & Vending Sept 8-11.

It worries me that I won’t be here.  Gerry’s been working hard, packing smaller stuff all over the house, but the larger stuff in the basement and garage will require more muscle than he has available, so we’re hiring the movers to come out a few days early to do some basement and garage packing.

Fortunately Jack, a good friend whose wife, Robin, is one of the most amazing knitters I know, will be hanging out with Gerry on the day.  Jack will accompany him to the closes and PREVENT him from jumping in and trying to do what we’re paying the movers to do.  Thank heaven for friends – have I mentioned how guilty I feel about not being here on the day?

So for the next two weeks I’ll be dying up yarn to fill orders (we’re getting more and more wholesale customers, bringing them in as we feel able to accommodate them) and packing up all the tools of the dye studio.

If you’re in St. Paul and will be around over the Labor Day holiday, we may just have a “packing party” and barbeque, clean out the fridge and get some final items packed up!

The Holiday Cycle

andy_alison_inside_lav

So wonderful to have the girl home, even if only for a few days!

I generally feel some kind of let-down on the day after a big day, and Thanksgiving is no different.

I think it’s all the cooking, cleaning, organizing and trying to get the troops sitting at the table at the same time that is so wearying. I also think I’m afflicted with an early case of empty next syndrome. I realize that this time next year both kids will be away at college – and after that, who knows?

Coming from an incredibly disfunctional (and at times absolutely toxic) family environment, I’ve worked hard to keep my own family holidays as low key and – well – small as possible.

It always seemed to be at the larger family events that someone would take joy in pushing someone else’s buttons; I’m afraid I got a lifetime’s worth of that at a young age.

Small and quiet works well for us.

And then I worry that our holiday will be TOO small next year.

Someone's been helping me with the skeining...

Someone’s been helping me with the skeining…

I love my family, and they love me, but somehow during the holidays there generally comes a blue period when I foolishly begin to doubt my abilities as a parent.

It makes me wonder if my own mom (and her mom, etc.) felt the same at the holidays. I miss my mom (and cousin Jan) all through the year, holidays are one of the hardest times, though.

And, as it’s been a bit colder (after a LOVELY early November) I haven’t had a chance to get out on my bike for the past week.  Astounding how that rocks my world. I know a good amount of the ‘blues’ is due to inactivity. So it’s time to do something about it.

This guy would like a walk, too!

This guy would like a walk, too!

We’re incredibly lucky here in St. Paul, we have a wonderful network of Rec Centers, and for the low cost of $30/year we can visit ANY of them whenever we want for gym time, pool time, or to take a yoga or zumba class (those last have an additional fee, but it’s pretty low!)

So I’m setting out to renew my membership again, so I can try to get some regular exercise to take the place of my daily bike rides.

I’m lucky that right up the street, about a mile away, is a great rec center with a pool and a sauna. Kathleen and I have discussed finding a Zumba class, so maybe we’ll be doing that, too!

My mom used to say, “When you feel blue, take a walk or take a nap.” and I think right now I need the equivalent of a nice long walk every day. Maybe a nice, long walk down to the Jimmy Lee Rec Center?

red yarn settingIn working news, I have SO much yarn to dye in the coming months.

The good part is that I’ve been scheduling the dye sessions, so I’m not working haphazardly (as I might have last year with smaller orders).

I’m trying to work in a very planned way to dye all the yarn that is required for a some pretty big orders, (and the nonstop fiber shows in the late Spring & early Summer of 2016 we have coming up!)

A New Year

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

I always think of Autumn as the REAL start of the new year. It’s not a Jewish thing, it’s a school thing.

When Gerry and I had been married for a few years, he pointed this out to me. “Every September it’s like you always want to start a new project!”  And that’s been the case.

The past year has been incredibly rough. So rough, I didn’t want to talk about it much to anyone, I just wanted to keep my head down and get through it.

It wasn’t a bad year – in many ways it’s been a pretty sensational year! But it’s been an incredibly taxing and difficult year.  So I’m hoping my Autumn mojo will kick in and Sept/Oct 2015 will mark a departure from some of the rough patches of Sept 2014.

Max masquerading as Ed Sheeran

Max (on right) masquerading as Ed Sheeran (on left)

Maybe it’s having a new business begin to take off, at the same time as I have one kid getting used to college and the other going through the whole testing/application/grant seeking treadmill. Maybe it’s the ups and downs of Gerry’s health (which is miraculously good considering no one thought he would be here) but still takes a lot of physical and mental energy from both of us to stay on top of.

Maybe it was having one computer crash (thus losing a bunch of stuff that carbonite didn’t back up) then having another one stolen a few months later (thus losing even MORE stuff that carbonite didn’t back up – I’m finished with Carbonite – I’m doing my own backing up using DropBox now!) 

That kind of thing can really mess with your mind – thinking that you know where a file is, then realizing that it’s gone forever is a kind of small mourning that happens over and over again.

Andy gets a tattoo!

Andy gets a tattoo!

Whatever the reason for this difficult, messed up year (and there is no single reason, it’s just … life) I doubt it will be changing any time soon.  So I’m going to try to make a change myself.

I used to blog all the time, as I went for bike rides (another thing that I am not doing as often as I’d like) I would ponder blog content. I’d take a bunch of photos so I’d have ‘blog-fodder’, it was something that grounded me.  When I look back on this past year I’m struck by how little I blogged, which is understandable, but I don’t think it helped.  Blogging helps me keep a handle on what’s bubbling under the surface.  Sometimes when I write it’s as if I turn my mind off and my hands are on auto-pilot, and I miss that feeling.

My bike, my man, my dog and my new haircut!

My bike, my man, my dog and my new haircut!

So I’m going to make an October resolution; I’m going to blog more. I’m going to find a use for all those photos I take, I’m going to pick up the online thread of my life with the accompanying cast of characters popping in.

Who knows, I may even do a podcast every now or then…

Brioche Winner!

0ly8d0nZNG1meuMegKlhD91lsWsRXpMn4s0Ms4dMmR8The winner of Mercedes Tarasovich Clark’s book, Brioche Chic, is Ellen P.

Congratulations, Ellen! I hope you enjoy the book and knit MANY beautiful things from it! If you would care to email me with anything you make from the book, I’d love to post it here in the future!

Autumn Biking & Voting

Bike path along the Mississippi

Bike path along the Mississippi

I got more cycling in this week than I have in a long time, it’s because of the beautiful warm Fall we’re having here in MN (warm being 50’s, which is just about PERFECT for biking!)

Last week I hopped on my bike to scoot over to Minneapolis to see President Clinton and Senator Franken speak at a Get Out The Vote rally, and I made it in 25 minutes (a record for me!)

Politics Alert

The former President & our current Senator

The former President & our current Senator

It’s no secret that I’m a big ol’ lefty, so if that bothers you, you might want to skip the next section!

Voting is sacred to me. I believe in Democracy the way some folks believe in organized religion.

To my mind Democracy is the driving force behind the greatest positive changes the world has seen in terms of how humans relate to each other. Democracy allows us to participate in, and take responsibility for, the governing of our lives. It’s not always perfect, nothing created by humans could be, but it’s the best thing going.

Anything that tries to prevent citizens from voting is anathema to me, which is why the many voter supression laws that have been proposed make me so angry. We should make election day a HOLIDAY and strive for 100% voter turnout.

2014-10-11 14.57.49So get out there and be PART of this 200 year old experiment in allowing human beings to police OURSELVES. I honestly get shivers when I go in to vote, even when I’m not happy with the array of candidates.

This time, however, I’m VERY happy with the candidates I have in front of me in Minneapolis. The positive change our state’s seen since the election of Mark Dayton as Governor is astounding (we were on SUCH a downward spiral with Pawlenty, the same spiral we see Wisconsin in right now, which makes me very sad for them!)

Stealth Knitting

Stealth Knitting

Seeing money invested in infrastructure and education is the best way to see our government invest in the future, which Gov Dayton has championed since his election.

Voting for Al Franken is an easy call for me. He’s been such an excellent Senator, reaching across the aisle on many issues but retaining the populist, progressive stances that make him a hero to many Minnesotans. With him and Amy Klobuchar leading our state in DC, we’re on a VERY good path!

Cycling Season

More 'secret' knitting

More ‘secret’ knitting

I rode home more slowly from the rally, taking photos along the way.

I got in a short ride yesterday, doing some stealth knitting and enjoying the beautiful October sky and falling leaves.

Geeze, how I love the fall!

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?