Thursday, October 23, 2008

9 years, but really 17

Today Husband and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage with dinner at French American Brasserie. It's located next to a condo in downtown Atlanta that we've considered moving to. This will give us a chance to see what the neighborhood is like at night.

In reality, we have been together 17.5 years, having met May 1991 and been an exclusive relationship since then. I certainly celebrate the May anniversary and in someways it means more to me. I count myself incredibly lucky to have found such a wonderful mate so early in life (I was 20 years old, almost 21. He was 21 already.) and to have such a great relationship together ever since.

So we have an anniversary to celebrate every 6 months!

ETA: When we ordered dessert at dinner, they wrote a little note for us on the rim. The dessert was good too, as you can see from the fact that we didn't notice the Happy Anniversary until after we finished off the chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. At least we did notice the lit candle in the ice cream.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Just saw Wicked. I read the book a long time ago because I liked the idea of reading the story of Oz from the Wicked Witch's point of view.

The book was kind of a slog and I liked the concept better than the book.
The play was just great. It focused on the relationship between Glinda (the Good Witch) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch). The costumes were interesting and the stage setting was pretty minimal. The songs were alright. It's not catchy like Cats or Les Miz, but they weren't bad.

I'm tempted to reread the book, to skim it, for comparison.

And to go to more plays.

On a completely different topic, I took this test and my tarot card is

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I would not have guessed. It took it again and told me this:

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Hmmmm. One more time.... and the answer was the Tower again. I don't really think I'm that destructive!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I make things, Part One: It's Genetic

My parents and grandparents were creative people, and so I grew up thinking that making things is a normal thing to do.

My mother's parents were tailors back in the early 20th century, in Taipei, Taiwan. They made school uniforms, engagement dresses, suits, etc. I remember a long, pale blue dress they made just for me when I was 8 or 10 years old. They came to visit us in the US and my grand mother took my measurements. After they went home to Taiwan, some time later a package came in the mail and there were the dresses they made for me and my sister. We have many pictures of my sister and me wearing matching handmade dresses that we adored.

As I grew older, I realized that after we kids went to bed, my parents would stay up and practice calligraphy and writing poetry. In Chinese, which I can't read, but still, it was evidence of the creative urge. During the day, my dad was a civil engineer and my mom was a housewife and mother of 4 kids, but during the day, they let their creativity loose.

Once my youngest siblings started school, my mother would take cake decorating classes one night a week at the community college. Those were the nights my dad would make what we called "Salvation Army stew." Basically, he would make a big pot of ramen noodles, throw in leftovers, and that was dinner.

I don't remember if it was good or bad, but I'm sure it was good. My mom's a great cook, like her mom was. My mom never used a recipe, that I can remember. She would just think about how flavors combine and make it work. That's another way her creativity expressed itself.

When we moved to Taiwan, she would take classes on flower arranging, how to make flowers and bas relief panels using modeling clay, etc. I remember a family project where all six of us made a clown out of the clay, glued it to a backing board, and each of us painted our clowns.

My dad was very creative too, and engineering requires some level of creativity. I'm not sure what all my dad did at work, but I know he designed and built a 2 story shed/playhouse with stairs and slide, and also did home improvement projects like laying pavers for a patio and building a portico out of wooden beams.

These days, shows like This Old House and all those shows on HGTV are all about how to do home improvement projects. But back in the 1980s, those shows weren't around and my dad did it all by himself.

I was conscious that we didn't have a ton of money, and now I realize, that a household of 6 with only one wage-earner living in the neighborhood we lived in at the time, we didn't have a ton of money. But my parents carved out the time and money so that my mom could take those cake decorating classes.

Because they make art, my parents buy art. Their home now holds large handcarved wooden panels depicting dragons, phoenixes, clouds. They have a wooden peacock that's at least 6 feet tall. The woodworking shop is down the block from their townhouse, so they know where the wood comes from, they know the artisan making their piece, and they can go see the artisan in action and see the many steps involved in making that one piece.

It's very similar to how my mom grew up watching her parents making a dress or suit, from measuring the client, to choosing the fabric, ironing, cutting, sewing, fitting, finishing, down to the buttons and zippers.

This was not sweatshop labor. It was artistic labor, skilled labor, that required not only capable hands, but a sharp and creative mind as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, how far we haven't come....

The more outrageous statement are highlighted in purple.

The South: For Some, Uncertainty Starts at Racial Identity

Published: October 14, 2008

MOBILE, Ala. — The McCain campaign’s depiction of Barack Obama as a mysterious “other” with an impenetrable background may not be resonating in the national polls, but it has found a receptive audience with many white Southern voters.
“He’s neither-nor. He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.” RICKY THOMPSON, in Mobile, Ala., speaking about Barack Obama.
In interviews here in the Deep South and in Virginia, white voters made it clear that they remain deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama — with his politics, his personality and his biracial background.
Being the son of a white mother and a black father has come to symbolize Mr. Obama’s larger mysteries for many voters. When asked about his background, a substantial number of people interviewed said they believed his racial heritage was unclear, giving them another reason to vote against him.
“He’s neither-nor,” said Ricky Thompson, a pipe fitter who works at a factory north of Mobile, while standing in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store just north of here. “He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.”
Whether Mr. Obama is black, half-black or half-white often seemed to overshadow the question of his exact stand on particular issues, and rough-edged comments on the subject flowed easily even from voters who said race should not be an issue in the campaign. Many voters seemed to have no difficulty criticizing the mixing of the races — and thus the product of such mixtures — even as they indignantly said a candidate’s color held no importance for them.
“I would think of him as I would of another of mixed race,” said Glenn Reynolds, 74, a retired textile worker in Martinsdale, Va., and a former supervisor at a Goodyear plant. “God taught the children of Israel not to intermarry. You should be proud of what you are, and not intermarry.”
Mr. Reynolds, standing outside a Kroger grocery store, described Mr. Obama as a “real charismatic person, in that he’s the type of person you can’t really hate, but you don’t really trust.”
Other voters swept past such ambiguities into old-fashioned racist gibes.
He’s going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch,” said James Halsey, chuckling, while standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with fellow workers in the environmental cleanup business. “I just don’t think we’ll ever have a black president.”
There is nothing unusual about mixed-race people in the South, although in decades past there was no ambiguity about the subject. Legally and socially, a person with any black blood was considered black when segregation was the law.
But the historic candidacy of Mr. Obama, who has said he considers himself black, has led some voters in the South to categorize him as neither black nor white. While many voters said that made them uncomfortable, others said they were pleased by Mr. Obama’s lack of connection to African-American politics.
“He doesn’t come from the African-American perspective — he’s not of that tradition,” said Kimi Oaks, a prominent community volunteer in the Mobile area, with apparent approval. Ms. Oaks, along with about 15 others, had gathered after Sunday services at Mobile’s leading Methodist church to discuss the presidential campaign. “He’s not a product of any ghetto,” Ms. Oaks added.
At the same time, however, she vigorously rejected the idea that race would be important in the election, a question met with general head-shaking from those assembled; Ms. Oaks said she was “terribly offended,” as a Southerner, at even being asked about this.
Jim Pagans, a retired software manager, interviewed in a strip mall parking lot in Roanoke, Va., said that while Mr. Obama was “half-Caucasian,” he had the characteristics of blacks.
“But you look at his background, you don’t think of that,” he said. “He’s more intelligent and a smarter person than McCain.”
Bud Rowell, a retired oil field worker interviewed at a Baptist church in Citronelle, Ala., north of Mobile, said he was uncertain about Mr. Obama’s racial identity, and was critical of him for being equivocal and indecisive.
But Mr. Rowell also said that personal experience had made him more sympathetic to biracial people.
“I’ve always been against the blacks,” said Mr. Rowell, who is in his 70s, recalling how he was arrested for throwing firecrackers in the black section of town. But now that he has three biracial grandchildren — “it was really rough on me” — he said he had “found out they were human beings, too.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy birthday to me....

Rather narcissistic to blog about one's own birthday, no? And yet the picture opportunities!

First of all, Husband sent me flowers at work one day early.Then the staff gave me flowers too the next day, with little cake and brownie snacks, which I shared of course, and a balloon, but best of all, a book:That would be The Big-Ass Book of Crafts by Mark Montano. Favorite projects from the book:

Tabletop covered with peel and stick laminate tile from the hardware store:Felt-applique quilt:There's totally kitchy and totally cool stuff so I'm looking forward to doing some of the projects.

And here's one project that belongs in that book but I did way back in, um, some time so long ago I don't even remember, but probably last fall, about a year ago:
This piece is 4 feet by 4 feet on a wooden base. I took scrapbooking paper, tore them up into irregular shapes and glued them onto the wood. Then I sketched a lotus flower onto a sheet of flipchart paper and glued more scraps of scrap book paper onto it. Sharpies bleed through paper pretty well, so once it dried, I could cut out the shapes from the back side.
Using ModPodge, I glued on the lotus flower pieces, and then also the little dragonflies in the 4 corners.
Began the project probably last fall and finished it, almost, today. Now I just need to get 16 feet of ribbon to glue onto the edge of the wood to give it a nice finish. And to figure out where to put it and how. It's pretty heavy. But that can wait until next year.
By the way, for dinner on my birthday, Husband took me to Bacchanalia, apparently the only 5 star restaurant in Atlanta. It was a prix fixe 4 course dinner (appetizer, entree, cheese, dessert) where I tried veal sweetbread -- brains -- for the first time. It was $75 per person base price. Then there were the wine pairings and some choices for each course carried extra charges, which they called supplements.
Each portion was tiny but oh, the flavors. And by the time dessert came around, I was full. Could barely finish my donut holes, I mean, bomboloni.
But I managed it. Leave no chocolate covered Italian donut holes behind, is my motto.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cross stitch show

Over the weekend The Sampler Guild of Georgia opened an exhibit of cross stitched pieces. They were lovely. I used to do cross stitch but haven't in years. This made me want to pick it up again.
On the face of it, this one seems easy enough to do. But just think of the counting you have to do to make sure each motif is nicely spaced apart from each other.
This long one was pretty cool.
The green at the bottom was achieve by stitching in a checkerboard pattern in green. Here's a close up. The intricacy of the border alone on this one is impressive. Again, each element, each letter, zig-zag, or swirle doesn't look hard, but each one needs to be done precisely to achieve the overall look.
These Santas aren't by cup of tea, but are done very well.
I love this red house. Apparently, the pattern for each room was mailed separately, like mystery shawl knitting patterns are done, and the entire picture doesn't emerge until end.
This one has a different feel, and I like the verse about the lady leave alone the fake flowers and enjoy the real roses instead. Which is ironic, considering the pattern is all about stitching fake flowers!
This last one uses all kinds of needlework, including pulled thread work.
Maybe one day I'll go back to cross stitch. I still have all the DMC floss....

First Face

In pottery class, we're learning how to make the human form. This is the first face I've made. Can of V8 for scale.

It's been fired once and the next step will be to glaze it and then fire again.
This guy will just be bald, but the next one, I'll poke holes for yarn hair afterwards. That's one way to use up left over yarn.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Aching Elbows

Last night, I laid in bed, feeling my elbows throbbing. But this was a price I was willing to pay for an afternoon throwing pottery.

It's been a while since I've done that, especially with large chunks of clay. I got really beat up from the wonky clay trying to center it. But in the end it was done. Now I have three pieces of a vase thrown. On Tuesday, when I go back for class, I'll cut them off the batts and join them.

I've done it before for Husband's 18 inch tall amphora so it shouldn't be too hard.

But I'm going to give the knitting a rest for today and tomorrow. I've been putting in some marathon knitting on the weekends which strains my elbows and wrists too.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


This is how exciting my weekend has started out. I reorganized my yarn stash. Last night I frogged my big oranged sweater and now had all this yarn to put away.

The stash is in a drawer/armoire thing from IKEA. The top section has one shelf dividing the space and closed with doors, the bottom is 6 drawers.

The entire top half are the wool yarns.
Top shelf: At the very top is the Bag of Malabrigo, resting on a box of brown yarn in the Amazon box, and a ziptop baggie of Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Sapphire Heather. I'm using it to make an Opulent Raglan sweater for myself.

Underneath that are 2 wicker baskets lined in cotton, standing on their ends. I like to be able to see all the yarn at once. The basket on the right holds the superwash wools, the basket on the left are non-machine washable blue and green wools. The blue yarn in the plastic bag is left over from the sweater I made Sister here.
Just realized that the top shelf yarns are majority worsted weight, with a few skeins of sock weight thrown in.

The yellow cone is cotton, but I put it here since I have no where else it fits.

Bottom shelf: The open box to the left are the Manos del Uruguay, Berroco Foliage, other varigated yarns, Cascade eco-wool, Lopi. Interestingly, those are the bulky weight yarns.
This is what's in the wicker baskets: pink wool on the left, mohair on the right. The mohair is for the Modern Quilt Wrap by Mags Kandis, from Folk Style. The yarns are mostly Kid Silk Haze and Aura and bought at 40% off at a going out of business sale. The colors are much more muted and earthy and sophisticated than my usual primary color brightness as evidenced by all my other yarn. Hmmm. I should think about that.
You may notice some red around the edges of some of the pictures. That's because the study where the computer and my craft things are has a red carpet. And blue walls. With white trim. See? I'm a bright, primary-color kind of gal.

In the first drawer below are the dyed and dyeable yarns. The orange and yellow are my dyed yarns, and Knit Picks Bare superwash on the left. In the middle is a big back of Rowan Felted Tweed that I got on sale. And some swatches. And some gift yarn, and some leftover red yarn.
I guess it's more than just the dyed and dyeable yarn. It must be my yarn equivalent of the junk/random drawer.

The next drawer are the machine washable yarns: cotton, linen, bamboo (that's the yellow half-finished scarf), synthetics, and my one lone skein on merino silk in the brown bowl half hidden in the back. Felted wool swatches on the far right.


Top shelf: no changes.Bottom shelf: Mohair in a clear container, ziptop bag of superwash wool afghan I started for Brother Two discussed here, and rearranged the wools for more visibility. The clear plastic box holds the mohairs and the top box is 8 skeins of Wool of the Andes in the Ivy green colorway for my mom's shawl.

And again with the stuff in front taken out. Purple Felted Tweed to the left, the mostly pink yarns in the middle, the bulky yarns on the right.

Top drawer: Dyeable yarns. Took out the purple Felted Tweed, put in the yarn from the giant orange sweater. Makes more sense, since one of the oranges I did dye, discussed here.
Drawer of Machine-Washable Yarns -- unchanged. The green, grey, and lavendar linen stitch thing is the middle of a baby blanket I started then abandoned. It was for a co-worker but then I ran out of time. I ended up buying her something off her registry instead.And a new drawer: The Drawer of Red Yarns. All that Lamb's Pride is for an Emerald Sweater for Best Friend, like I made for Sister. I'd like to make one for me too, from that orange-dyed yarn. Eventually.
Well, that's enough excitement for one day. It's a gorgeous day, sunny and near 80 degrees F. I'm going outside to play with clay. I'm taking a class on how to make the human figure and we're starting with heads. I'll post pictures as they come along. So far, everyone's heads are asymetrical, lumpy, and somewhat grotesque. Rather appropriate for the coming Halloween.

Husband wants a bust, complete with laurel leaves, so I better get working on it.


I ripped out the giant orange sweater last night and wound them into these huge yarn cakes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Headed for the frog pond

Since Sept 14, I've been working on an orange cardigan, based loosely on the Long Coat with Chevron Lace from Fitted Knits, pictured here (scroll down). It's a top down raglan sweater. I didn't know how much yarn I had, so I knitted both sleeves before finishing the body.

I bound off the bottom hem last night.

It's absolutely huge. I would felt it to shrink it, except one of the yarns (I held three together, discussed here) is superwash and won't felt.

I'm going to set it aside and finish my dad's vest. Then I'll probably end up frogging the orange sweater and starting over.