Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I can remember, when I was little, my dad wearing a paper poppy on Veterans Day, once called Armistice Day.

Armistice Day commemorates the day World War I ending on the Western Front - November 11th, 1918. The Armistice took place at eleven o'clock in the morning on November 11th, 1918, the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." The first Armistice Day was November 11th, 1919, memorializing the freedom achieved through the sacrifices of countless millions.

I didn't really understood the symbolism of the poppy until I was a bit older, but now I can't see a red poppy without thinking of the selfless sacrifice made by countless soldiers throughout our nation's history. Brave men and women who have been willing to give everything to further the cause of freedom.

Why poppies? Because of the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. McCrae, a battle surgeon, wrote out the poem in a few minutes the day after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. It was written by McCrae during a short break in bombing on May 3, 1915.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

McCrae would never see the Armistice, dying on January 28, 1918 of pneumonia in Boulogne, but his poem lives on to remind us of the ultimate sacrifice.

If you're out on Armistice Day and see veteran's groups selling poppies, please consider buying one. The money goes to veteran's causes, which are historically underfunded in the United States and rely heavily on private donations.

I made a few today just in case. Red felt, black seed beads, black embroidery floss. I didn't use a pattern, instead folding a piece of paper into quarters, then cutting an "almost heart" into the unfolded side of some; a simple 4-petal design in others.

Have a blessed Veteran's/Armistice Day. We owe those who serve and have served, especially those who paid the ultimate price, our undying appreciation and deep gratitude for their brave, selfless service. We should all find a way to say "Thank you".


Sunday, June 14, 2009

This is a test... sort of...

The stuff below is a bit of code to put my blog with my account on Technorati (^). I think it will link to my Technorati profile, which will be mostly empty, because I need to scoot off to bed directly since I have an early morning knitting lesson on tomorrow morning. Yes, you can take knitting lessons.

And because it's late and I'm too tired and sunburned to write, here's a photo of Manitou Springs, Colorado at night that will have to fill in for content till I can provide the real stuff:

From Moon over Manitou

I took this several days ago on the way to get water from Twin Springs on Ruxton Ave. The water comes from the ground cold, and naturally carbonated. It's full of Lithium and has the effect of being dehydrating if you drink too much.

Technorati Profile

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plinky Tumblr Twitter

What does that mean?

Are those even words?

First, Plinky

I've been answering the writing prompts from Plinky (^) for the last several days. I've been really busy with (in no particular order): knitting, quilting, polymer clay, felting, friends, family, life, etc.; it's hard to find time to write extensively at the moment, so its been nice to be able to commit to something brief and fun that I can follow through with.

Every day, Plinky asks a question and you answer it on their website, where it is archived with previous answers. Sort of like a guided Twitter stream (my tweets), I guess.

Anyway, here is today's question and my answers:

I've left out so many songs. Like... the entire Ramones catalog :)

Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

The ultimate Southern Rock song, awesome guitar solo.

Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen

It's a sweet, happy song that never fails to make me smile.

And the intro is bitchin'

One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead

I met a girl there and she almost knocked me dead

Wild Wild Life by Talking Heads

I'm wearin'

Fur pyjamas...

Could there be a catchier intro?

Plus, the song is featured in one scene in one of my favorite movies (True Stories). The video for Wild Wild Life is essentially an entire scene in the movie..

And because Chris Frantz has nice teeth.

So, that's Plinky. I plan to post my Plinky responses here occasionally.


Tumblr is an aggregator that collects your feeds and puts them (your blog, Plinky, Twitter, etc. all in one continuous timeline. Mine is here (^). You can add other media as well (photos, websites, snippets of text, etc.).


Finally, Twitter. Is there anyone who doesn't know what Twitter is? Called microblogging, it asks the question: What are you doing? and requires that you answer it in 140 characters or less. The answers are called Tweets. Mine are here (^).



Sunday, May 03, 2009

Buggy with Joy

I was reading my RSS feed before turning in for the night a few minutes ago, and there, in Craft Gossip's Polymer Clay (^) feed, by Julie Leir-Van Sickle was a photo that included two of my bugs (^)!

How spiffy is that? I'm grinning from ear to ear here.

My bugs were included in a photo along with wonderful bugs by many talented craftspeople, in an article about clay artist Connie Pelkey's (^) Bug Swap, which I am thrilled to have been able to have taken part in.

Click through the photo in the column at Craft Gossip (^) to see the rest of the bugs, and to appreciate so many accomplished and imaginative individuals.

Connie Pelkey's website, which features her own gorgeous creations is here (^), and her Etsy shop can be found here (^).



Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's a wrap!

This as been a ridiculously busy week so far.

Busy, but for the most part, it was a nice sort of busy, in between Dan being sick (sinus infection), the SuperCat being sick (she's much better now), and coming down with a sinus infection myself (I'm getting there slowly myself).

Last Sunday I joined my knitting group at a local tea shop for tea and knitting. I actually belong to two different groups. Both are full of wonderfully talented, funny, smart women.

After tea and knitting, one of my friends (she's the one who organizes the group) and I went to Jo-Anns to look at yarn.

Quilters, seamstresses and needle workers tend to collect the tools of their crafts - fabric and yarn, mainly. I do all three, and have a ridiculous amount of both.

There is probably enough yarn in my stash to knit for at least a year and never buy a single new skein. I probably have enough fabric to make quilts for all of the beds, too. Still, it's so much fun to go look at yarn and fabric, and chat with a friend.

I brought the fuzzy wrap I've been working on for the last couple of months, knitting and talking, drinking tea. and. It's made with a super bulky yarn in seemingly strange colors, which I found at Hobby Lobby. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not at first, but I knew who would; silky wisps of riotous orange and turquoise, with shades of green twine around a fat butter yellow core. It was normally almost $10.00 a skein, but was on clearance for a few dollars.

Yarn Bee Soft Illusion Serenade

The wrap didn't have a pattern, really. I cast on 30 stitches with size 15 needles, knit through three skeins of yarn, then bound off using the knit method. And with that, it was done, completed.

Normally, I bind off using the crochet method. Someone at tea asked about binding off, and I said that I use a crochet needle. This is how I've always done it: Knit Tutorial - Crochet Hook Bind Off (^)

Crochet bind off has always seemed easiest to me; it's how I was taught. When I got close to finishing the wrap, I decided to use the knit method, and it was equally simple. I'm not sure which I like better now or why I I was so attached to the way I was taught or why it even matters. Such a small thing, yet interesting - why do we get so attached to the familiar, even the smallest things?

As I mentioned, I finally finished the wrap, and am happy with how it turned out.

The end result is around 18 inches wide and five and a half feet long or so. By the time I was done with it, I had really come to like the colors and textures a lot. So soft and cuddly, the colors vivid and bright. It reminds me of walking home from school as a child in the fall before the grass turns brown, with leaves swirling around. Warm and brisk at the same time. It reminded me of other things, too...

It's going to my oldest daughter. The yarn reminded me of her the first time I saw it & I hope she likes it.

She turned 21 this week; she's an adult now, done with her childhood. I was happy and sad in turns, every time I thought of her this week. In my mind, part of her will always be that darling toddler, wearing black patent shoes, taking her first steps on a sunny late autumn porch in South Carolina, on the sort of day that reminds me of the yarn in her wrap - warm and cool, sunny and crisp.

Part of her will always be that fiercely independent little girl, a blur one moment, soft and calm the next.

And part of her will always be the stunningly beautiful, talented, intelligent, well-reasoned, accomplished adult she is today. I could not be prouder of her. I love her for all that she is, all that she's been, and all that she'll become.

the completed wrap

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser...

'Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!'
The White Rabbit, to himself
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

I'm late. Really late.
When last I blogged I was planning on writing the next day. Which I did. But for whatever reason (one I can't fully explain), I didn't feel like publishing anything that day. Or the next. Or any other. Right up until today, right now.

Right now, I'm feeling as though I should, though, so I will.

Since the last time I posted, we've cooked quite a bit, practicing several new gluten free dishes. We've made GF bread several times, and Dan seems to have perfected the GF sandwich bread loaf. Occasionally, we'll pick up a loaf of GF bread at Whole Foods, but both of us enjoy baking, and store-bought never really compares to homemade, does it?
Fresh gluten-free French toast made with homemade bread by Dan,
& fresh butter (collaborative).

As you can see above, we made butter, which SuperCat found amazing - she wasn't sure how we were going to get butter from whipped cream, but we did and she loved it, staring into the mixer as it 'churned'. It was incredibly easy, and I'm working on a tutorial to explain the process.
Homemade butter in the KitchenAid mixer

I took a class with the Division of Wildlife, and earned my Hunter Safety Certificate, so that I could apply for a hunting license in my state. I applied for my first license a few weeks ago; pronghorn (aka, "antelope", the ones that play with the deer on the range in the song), but won't know if I get one for several more weeks. Quite a bit of the meat we eat ( which is organic, very low fat, hormone & antibiotic-free) comes from antelope/elk hunted by Dan, so it will be nice to have another try at the tag lottery every year.

I've played endlessly with my favorite three year old, who is beginning to blossom wonderfully when she draws, and who has the most vivid imagination of anyone I've ever seen. Like most afternoons, we listened to her play in her toy kitchen today, making food and drinks for her dolls. She is a joy to listen and talk to.

She's taking swim lessons now, since we joined the YMCA after the first of the year. I'm trying to exercise, but still finding it pretty difficult. I start physical therapy this week, so we'll see if that helps any. Here's to hoping that it will :)

I've sewn and crafted quite a bit. I made seven skirts in one day for the SuperCat. She helped choose the fabric (mostly 1930's repro designs), and she chose all of the notions (thread color, buttons, and ribbon trim). I've discovered that her eye for matching colors and textures is much better than mine is, even at her young age, which is wonderful, since a natural eye for colors and textures is invaluable.

Supercat's new blue skirt made with reproduction 1930's fabric.

Detail of blue skirt made with reproduction 1930's fabric.

I joined a knitting group, and I've all but finished a large fuzzy knit wrap for someone (don't know who yet), plus a scarf I'd been working on forever for our oldest. I started some bright pink amigurumi rabbits (crocheted), which just need to be stitched together and stuffed. I've recently become interested in drop spindle spinning, after seeing a lady at knitting using one, and Dan got the materials this weekend to make one for me (doweling, wooden disk, and a cup hook - easy peasy). He got enough to make more than one, so we'll end up with a low whorl (the disk thingy) and a high whorl. High or low refers to the position of the whorl on the shaft (the dowdle rod). Here's are illustrative photos and a description: Types of Drop Spindles (^)

Last week, I joined a quilting group, and am working on eight squares in the Broken Plate pattern, "cut loose", meaning that they were cut in an imprecise way. It was liberating to make something that is perfect in not being perfect, as all of the quilting I've done in the past has been as straight as I could make it. I learned more in the first quilting class than then sum total of what I previously knew about quilting, mostly due to a very patient friend who is a natural teacher. Like: how to properly use a rotary cutter and mat (there's a right way and a wrong way?!?!?). And: iron on the front of the pieced fabric, not the back (makes a huge difference in how the fabric lays). And so on.

I designed, made, and completed around two dozen butterflies for Connie Pelkey's (^) polymer clay Bug Swap, picked the twelve I liked the best, and mailed them off well before the deadline. Yay!

Simply putting the Bug Swap on my list of activities doesn't really give it the weight it deserves. It has occupied a place front-and-center in my mind from the time the email arrived saying I'd been accepted into the swap, until the morning I put my butterflies in the mail.

One of my butterflies before shipping.
My hands are pink because I'd been working with Pysanky dye the day before.

I'm always nervous about sharing my work, and often feel conflicted over it. I tell myself that I could have done better "if only" (if only there were more time, better planning, different materials, a different design, etc). The swap was a leap of faith; happy I took it.
Another of my swap butterflies.
These are from the first batch.

A learning experience, for sure.

That's it for now. As I finish this, I have no idea what kept me away for so long; I promise it won't be such a long absence next time.

This is the place where I thank John for reminding me several times that I need to write :)
Thank you, John!

'Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop'
The King to the White Rabbit
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll