Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another nighttime trip to Phipps.

The same night as the art show, we took in the winter show at Phipps Conservatory. I love going to Phipps at night. It's magical. It's a beautiful enough place in the daytime with the flowers and plants in the way it smells and feels inside. At night it takes on a whole new dimension. As usual, I took a lot of pictures.


There were indoor and outdoor displays.


We were hoping they would have some of these in the gift shop, but they didn't.


Here's Bob in the tunnel, sort of.


As always the orchids were my favorite.





The train set was very elaborate and well done as always. The theme this year appeared to be Jurassic Park. There were dinosaurs sprinkled throughout the whole display. There were a lot of amusing interactive features as well. You could blow up the mineshaft, or make the volcano erupt.




Phipps Conservatory continues to be one of my favorite places, especially during the darkest part of the year.






Monday, January 13, 2014

Time isn't always on my side.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the waiting room of my car dealer's service center. I made an appointment a couple of weeks ago to get my "auto butler" service done and get an estimate on getting my door seals replaced. 

Normally I would have dropped the car off and made arrangements to have a ride so I would not have to wait. I didn't do that this time because I was told I would get a loaner car from the dealership. 

I bought my car last year, used, from an outfit that prides itself on customer service or so they say. I have a lot of things I need to do today, including prepare a dinner for six. I was told I in fact cannot get a loaner because they don't do that for auto butler. Despite explaining this is what I was told. Despite having about a million things to do today. Had I known this, I would have made other arrangements, but silly me, believing what I was told. 

So here I sit, in the waiting room of #1 Cochran Automotive, crap TV blaring in my ear, caffeine deprived, enraged, feeling frustrated and devalued. I can't cook from here. Their wifi sucks and blocks half the things I could accomplish while waiting. And while all of this sounds somewhat spoiled and whiny, this is part of what I paid for when I bought this car. It comes down to my time not being considered valuable. It comes down to honoring what I was told when I made the appointment. And I am very dissatisfied with it. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Not that I'd be biased or anything.

As the very proud parent of two fantastic daughters, it's difficult for me to be objective about things that they do. Last night, I was lucky enough to attend an opening night celebration for my daughter Lena's most recent art show. It took place at the salon/spa where she works, Tula Organic.

The show was well attended. I only stayed about an hour, but when I left there were probably about 30 to 40 people still in the salon. Everyone seemed very enthusiastic about her artwork, which was amazing!

I took many pictures and I'll show some of them here. Here are some of the crowd.




She had some prints for sale; I brought two of them home with me.



The show was called "Children of Dust".

Her statement about the show:

My oil and watercolor paintings for this show are based on a series of interviews I conducted throughout the year. I intentionally chose very introverted people to model for me. For each interview, I asked the participants if I could photograph them for references for my paintings. During the photo shoot, I asked intense personal questions. Both the questions and answers remain confidential. I changed the photographs depending on what the participants said, and used their answers to create my compositions, color choices, and titles. The pieces also contain information about the emotional aspects of the interview, both what I felt and what I sensed the participant felt during the photo shoot.

I was shocked by the openness of the models. This body of work is something of a confession, and a description of the complexities of communication and brokenness. I chose the title, "Children of Dust," as a reflection of the tension in which we live: the interviewees were strong and filled with shame, angry while pursuing peace, had high goals yet paralyzed by fear.
All of the pieces are incredibly expressive. Her subjects all seem to be searching for something. Perhaps something that would benefit all of us, should they find it. The overarching theme that I noticed in most of the faces was a sense of heroism. They struck me like the grand propaganda pictures from old Soviet posters. It doesn't quite sum up what I felt when I looked at them, but that's the closest I can come to describing it. I will let you make up your own mind about it.









Lena has accomplished much in her just under 30 years. Most recently she graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a double major in art and art history. She worked as hard as I've ever seen anyone work to achieve anything. For that reason alone I'm incredibly proud of her. But when I look at her artwork I am amazed at her talent and vision. I hope her work will soon get the exposure it deserves.

Lena has an Etsy shop at gift of amnesia etsy

and a tumblr blog dedicated to her artwork at gift of amnesia

Her show will be hanging at Tula through the end of January. Stop and see it if you can!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Welcome to Buttercupia Mark 2

I know, it's been a long time since I've blogged. There are a number of pretty good reasons for this. Probably, the most significant reason is that my hands are bad. As my work responsibilities have changed, I've had to use the mouse more often, type more, and generally wear out my hands before I have a chance to blog. All that has changed now, because a generous friend helped me get speech recognition software that I can use to blog, post on Facebook, write e-mails, and many many many other things. So great thanks to Brea for that.

It's a process. It's going to be difficult for me to stop muttering under my breath while I type. I do that a lot. Even with this short amount of dictation, I've had some pretty amusing things pop up in the box.

I'll have lots and lots of pictures, knitting updates, spinning updates, and food, with the occasional kitten thrown in for balance, and perhaps a more frequent presence. At least, that's the plan.

Wish me luck!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Belgium on Bryant

Last night, Bob and I went on a date to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the day we moved in together. I keep a pretty sizable wish list on Urbanspoon, and after consulting it, we decided on Park Bruges. We had been to the sister restaurant, Point Brugge, in the past, and had never been disappointed, so this seemed like a safe bet.

I was kind of surprised at how much Bryant Street in Highland Park has developed. Last time I was in that neck of the woods, there was a small mini-mart that sold good hummus and tabbouli, and a coffee shop. Now there are quite a few highly regarded restaurants in a three block area, most of which are on my wish list too. I have to wonder how the people who live in the neighborhood feel about all the traffic, and how long it will be before parking becomes a major headache.

7PM on a Sunday night was not a problem for parking or seating. The restaurant itself is a tad bigger than Point Brugge and the menu is also bigger and more varied, with some of the same staples. It's cozy without being overcrowded and is not at all loud, a problem with so many newer places. The decor is simple and pleasing to the eye.


The staff is friendly and unpretentious. With so many appetizer options to choose from, we opted to get two classics, Tarte Flambe (a kind of flatbread) and Poutine (which is actually Canadian, but who is counting?).


The Poutine was amazing. The cheese curds were fresh and flavorful. The gravy was perfectly tasty without being overwhelming. The frites were some of the best I've ever had. We could have just ordered this and been happy. But there was more.


The Tarte Flambe was crispy and delicious, with sweet onions, mild cheese, and generous slices of lean ham. I look forward to trying other varieties available on our next visit.

The beer selection was excellent, as expected, but rather expensive, also expected. We only had one beer each but both were superlative.


I had a really hard time deciding on a main course. So many great choices!

We moved on to the Flemish Four Onion Soup, since onion soup is one of my Good Restaurant Indicators (along with Reuben sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and meatloaf). It was nice and cheesy, and the onions had a satisfying degree of firmness, unusual for an onion soup. The broth could have used a greater depth of flavor, but all in all it was quite delicious.


Bob ordered the Mediterranean Seafood Stew and in a real departure for me, I ordered the Moules Frites in the classic white wine/beurre blanc preparation. I have never ordered mussels or any kind of bivalve as a main entree before, and was a little worried. I needn't have, they were delicious. My only problem was how large the portion was. It was truly more than I expected and Bob ended up eating quite a bit of them.


Park Bruges was added to my list of favorites before we even paid our check for the evening. I look forward to returning again and again, and working our way through their impressive and varied menu.

After dinner, we went to a local pub to sing Karaoke (fun!) and then hit a deer on the way home. (not fun!) The deer ran off, so it was probably ok, but Bob's car now needs $2500 worth of body work. We are fortunate that it wasn't worse and that neither of us were hurt.

Park Bruges on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 02, 2013

Hello again

I'm going to try to post here occasionally via the mobile app. I know I've been slacking so maybe the occasional low content post will help me get actual content posted more often. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Learning Curves

This past weekend, I took my first solo road trip in a very long time, to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I felt confident about the drive since I no longer have to drive a stick shift and a kind friend offered long ago to let me stay with her, so this time I took her up on it. I left early Saturday morning, arriving just before the festival opened. The weather was perfect and while it was very crowded, I kept things much lower-key this year and went with the flow. As a result, I was almost completely unstressed and relaxed. It was wonderful. That was learning curve number one. I took pictures of nothing but sheep, which was fun. I love sheep so much, they have amazing personalities and just exude weird and wacky friendliness.


I saw two Facebook/ravelry friends and met a third, and figured out a few important things that had been bothering me for a long time. Mostly, that a great effort to force myself to fit in to a group was never going to work, and that I was uninterested in fitting in anyway. I would rather be lonely than untrue to myself. This was a huge leap, precipitated by some behaviors by others and something I'd been approaching for some time anyway. So I did some culling and deleting of social network acquaintances and groups. It felt good and bad at the same time, but I am confident it was the right decision for me. I have made friends through these groups and acquaintances that I fervently hope will be friends for the rest of my life, but the ongoing baggage was more than I could handle, and my own insecurities and self doubt made it no longer possible to be happy with what was going on and how it made me feel. In some ways I am very sad, and in some ways I feel very free.

The third part of the learning curve came home with me from Maryland.


This is a Country Craftsman saxony spinning wheel. It was probably made in the late 80s or early 90s. I won it at the auction for just $175, an incredible deal for the condition it's in. It's no longer manufactured, and it is in impeccable working order. Not only that, it came with two bobbins in perfect shape, which I understand is quite a rarity. I had it spinning about two hours after getting it in the front door and it felt really good to be able to do that.

The wheel is very different from either of my other two wheels, the Babe Production wheel (which needs repairs AGAIN) and the Kromski Mazurka, which is a lovely wheel but takes a lot of foot power to use. I have to learn to treadle slower, and draft faster. There is much less effort involved in using this wheel once you have it set up. And I really only had to rig up a fake pin (knitting needle, hello), oil the wheel, and futz with the tension before it was off to the races. I'm trying to find a source for more bobbins, I would like two more, and I will eventually have to create a lazy kate out of a shoebox and some knitting needles, but that'll be a snap.

All in all it was a good weekend, full of opportunities to grow both as a crafter and as a person. You can't really ask for more than that.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring stash toss and sort

I had some time with no motivation to knit or spin today so I decided to do my annual stash toss and sort. Mostly.

I have a lot of yarn and spinning fiber. Seven bins and a cedar chest. Five bins of yarn and two bins and a cedar chest of fiber. I didn't toss the cedar chest, I need to go through that soon but not today. If I'm doing the spinning class again over Labor Day weekend, I need to find fiber to teach with and most of my basic fibers are in there. So I just sorted the fancy/handpaint stuff today.

So this is where I started.
Fingering weight yarn on the left into the middle, handspun on the right.

These two bins are the start of everything that isn't sock yarn or handspun, and weaving yarns.

I took a picture of the fiber but I deleted it because it was blurry. I got everything neatly boxed back up (two bins of sock yarn, two bins of fiber, one bin of handspun) and a nice bag of yarn to donate to my friend Alice who is sending yarn to knitting soldiers overseas.


Some handspun alpaca and some nice sock yarns that have just been in my stash too long.


Not much new. Finishing a mystery shawl, finished a pair of socks,
The sweater is on hold until the weather is cooler, and trying to spin some fiber for another shawl. And despite the stash photos, planning to go to MDSW next weekend, but mostly to see the sheep and to see some friends, and also to take Delphine on a road trip. I'll be going down early Saturday morning and staying with a friend who lives in the area, and coming back home after the festival on Sunday. It's less than a 4 hour drive so I shouldn't have any trouble making it.

This happened today, too.

I hope her life is everything she wants it to be.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Admiration diminished

I was in an interesting and rather disheartening email exchange with a local newspaper opinion writer. This guy is someone I've admired for years. He has a great writing style. He's almost as liberal/progressive as I am. He's sensible and forthright and does not suffer fools. And today, he called me a fool, in not so many words.

This editorial started like most of his others that I've read. Interesting, self-deprecating to a degree, humorous, informed. Then I got to the last sentence.

Maybe my feminism is lame, but I'd like to think I'm moving in the right direction.

Since I've always seen this gentleman as an informed and sensible advocate, I did not feel anger or offense or anything but mild surprise at his use of the word "lame" as a derogatory term. I figured he would probably want to know that many disabled people take issue with this usage, so I sent him the following email, thinking he'd appreciate the word-up.

You'd be moving further in the right direction if you did not use
"lame" as a derogatory statement. It's similar to saying "that's so
gay!" or calling someone "retarded". As a person with disabilities,
including permanent structural leg damage, lameness is my default
state. It does not make me less.

Maybe I was too terse, I was in the middle of a highly frantic work day, but I could not have been more wrong about how he was going to take it. I got this in return.

Hmmmm. Considering that I have never heard the term "lame" applied to a physically handicapped person, I doubt very seriously it can be equated with "that's so say (sic)" or "retarded," Jamie. It doesn't have that currency. Could it be that you're being extraordinarily touchy today? You're choosing to find offense where there is none. That's just silly, don't you think? I've heard from all sorts of PC-oriented folks today, but no one has raised my use of the term "lame" as an offense against people with disabilities. That's just a stretch, dude.
Still, I will bring this up with several disability advocates I know.
If they agree with you, then I will have learned something. I suspect you're overreacting, though. In a way, I hope you're exaggerating for the sake of droll comic relief.
Thanks for the note (and the uncomfortable bout of laughter) ;)

I replied that I was not offended but contemptuous, as at that point, I was quite contemptuous. I think he got the Derailing for Dummies bingo on the first try. I then PS'd to say

PS, if you are interested in educating yourself instead of being defensive, you might read this.

He then replied that he might read it one of these days, but that right now he just wanted to be rid of me.

I was saddened by this. I thought this fellow was someone who could handle a gentle callout but apparently not.

Something similar happened to me a few years ago when a friend of ours made some comment about French kindergarteners being taught how to surrender. He also stated at that time that stereotypes existed because there was truth in them. It's ok though. I hold his wife in very high regard so I can ignore how far he fell in my estimation that day. Maybe it's best to have people we admire fall off their pedestals from time to time. And I hope that someday, Tony will read that link at Amptoons and learn something. Sometimes, we push back hardest when our unacknowledged privilege and prejudice is pointed out. I know I resisted the concept of white privilege for a bit. But I got over it.

On a happier note, look what finally turned up in our yard today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring asleepening.

I'm tired but I feel incredibly guilty for not blogging in so long, so here's a bit of an update.

I got back together with my old doctor. I could not be more happy about that. She's trying me on a low dose of elavil for my neuropathy and it's working a bit. Not great, but better than nothing, and so far minimal side effects. Lyrica sent me spinning, so no good there. I've had to fend off vertigo a couple of times but it's nowhere near as bad as it was on the lyrica.

Knitting-yes, I've been doing some.

Finished older daughter's sweater.


Made a pair of mittens for my bus friend Dianne. I don't have a picture of them finished though. I thought I did. Here they are in progress.
The yarn...
Photo Feb 16, 2 32 31 PM

and the mitten.

Photo Feb 25, 3 54 04 PM

Here is the completed "insomnia mittens" and hat too, I never posted this when I finished them. They went to my younger daughter as the mittens were a tad too small for me.
Photo Jan 26, 11 35 41 AM
Currently working on another sweater, this one for me.


The color's a bit more intense than it looks. The pattern is "Arm Candy" and can be found on Ravelry. The yarn is Malabrigo worsted weight in Emerald Blue. It's great to work with but I fear it will pill frightfully. Oh well. I will love it regardless.

I decided on the greens for the mystery knitalong and finished the first clue Monday morning.


I spun a couple more yarns. This is from a fun Good Karma Farm batt I got at Rhinebeck.
Three ply, worsted weight, about 300 yards.

This is BMFA BFL/silk.
Photo Feb 23, 3 43 55 PM
Three ply again, sportish weight, about 500 yards I think.

Other than that, work has been very busy and my hands have been hurting pretty badly. I think the data entry at work is mostly at fault because I never had this kind of pain from knitting. We recently changed interfaces to one that requires a lot more "mousing" and the pain started after that change.

My mom went to Vietnam and Thailand for two weeks, she had a blast but lost her camera. My older daughter is currently in Japan-she gets back in a week. She's been posting pictures here. She also posts photos of her art there so I highly recommend perusing it as she is quite talented. Younger daughter is finishing up grad school and student teaching so I don't see her much. Bob's job ends in a couple of weeks and we are not sure what will happen after that other than he should be eligible for unemployment until he finds something else. I'm trying not to panic.

That's about it. I'm not making any promises but I'll try to update more often.