Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Clapotis Finished; Another Clapotis Begun

Silk and wool, a 50/50 blend from Lorna's Laces, was used to complete the Clapotis Scarf begun in August. I added a crocheted edging, and the scarf/shawl finished off in an 18" x 70" size. 

Since the clapotis pattern was a fun one to knit, I started another one, decreasing the width.  This time I'm using the very affordable Hand Dyed Knit Picks Lace Weight Shimmer Yarn (70% baby alpaca wool/30% silk) and will add beads to the perimeter of the scarf.  This is what Knit Picks says about the lace weight Shimmer yarn:
From subtle to striking, Shimmer takes lace knitting to the top of the statement-making meter. The silk adds a luxurious sheen to the softest baby alpaca, and the hand dyed colors are a visual treat. The alpaca and silk blend provides a level of warmth that disregards the feather light quality of the finished garment. A scarf in Shimmer will add a punch of color to your outfit, but a shawl could be the dramatic focal point of any ensemble.

This is the first lace weight yarn I've purchased. I am using two strands of the yarn while knitting, increasing the diameter of the yarn by 100% with this method, but the stitches are still light weight. The baby alpaca wool and silk blend has a nice feel to it: very soft!  The beads shown in the picture are 8 mm seed beads in blues, lavender and turquoise and will be added as a finishing embellishment.

The Clapotis Scarf pattern can be found by clicking on the highlighted text.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why I Oppose the Current Health Care Reform Bill

Generally, this blog has been a stage for writing about things that are important to me. Obvious topics have been arts, crafts, eclectic writings and things I would like to keep categorized and saved on the web for ready accessibility.

Because I spent over twenty years in the business of health care administration and was the first Executive Director for a managed care plan in Denver in 1982, I believe it is time to put down a few personal thoughts on what our government may be doing to change the way in which health care will be delivered in the future to its citizens. I have the credibility of also having obtained a Master's Degree from the University of Colorado in Health Administration.  I have also owned and operated a private business for physical therapists statewide in the administration of services to clients. (With all those "I" pronouns, it sounds like our current President expounding, doesn't it?)

In researching a bit on health care reform under the Democratic plan, I came across a few interesting tidbits of political talk regarding health coverage for the disabled, quoted at this site from an August address by President Obama in Montana:
If you currently qualify for Medicaid — your son currently qualifies for Medicaid, he would continue to qualify for Medicaid. So it would not have an impact on his benefit levels and his ability to get the care that he needs.
My response to this comment, with the encounter glowingly reported by Easter Seals, was something like "what is said and what is accomplished are two different things; wait for it in writing."

Credit goes to The National Ledger and US Senator Kyl (AZ) who said it well today:
National Ledger - How Much Will Government Health Care Cost? Meet Dr. Government

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making a Yarn Cake, Courtesy of Gnat

Because part of my reason for blogging is to keep things readily organized while doing craft projects, here is one idea I am cataloguing for the next time I make a ball of yarn from a purchased skein.  This quick process is called a center pull yarn cake, and allows you to pull yarn from the center of the ball rather than from the outside.  This will eliminate that pesky ball from rolling around on the floor and creating chaos, and resulting in a dog or cat toy when you really just wanted to knit!

This website, hosted by Gnat, has an excellent tutorial worth a read;  I am keeping it handy on my blog because it looks a lot easier than how I have been laboriously performing the maneuver of getting yarn skeins ready for knitting.

At this same website, you can listen to her podcast (I just downloaded it to iTunes for listening on my walk today).  The podcast is called BarknKnit.  She likes dogs, can you tell from the title of her podcast?  I might let Libby and Mercy listen to her on the computer today while she barks and knits and I play internet Scrabble.  woof!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Take the Flower Test :o)

What does your birth flower say about you?

My Quiz Result: Carnation is the birth flower for people who are born in January.
The Carnation symbolizes deep love, a friend in need, distinction, beauty, and fascination.
If your birth flower is Carnation: You are a sensitive person. You are very protective towards your family and friends. You are very ambitious and aim to achieve big things in life. You are a very helpful friend.

Take more quizzes, myspace quizzes and fun quizzes on personality, love and other topics.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spiced Tea that Keeps Forever (low calorie)

Edible gifts are usually appreciated, and it is always a good idea to keep a bit back for your own survival purposes.  More jarred mixes were previous posted here for cocoa, risotto rice and peanut butter cookies.

This is a recipe I found on the internet at the Cook Site that calls for:
2 c. Tang
2/3 cup instant tea
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. lemonade mix
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. cloves
The "old recipes" that I had from back in the day called for Tang (not an easy product to find these days on grocery shelves...and expensive!) and presweetened Kool-Aid, also not available at the three major grocery chains in our neighborhood.  The old recipes also called for lots of sugar.

This as about the closest I could come up with for a general mix to use for gifts to give our produce laden neighbors who were generous to share with us their summer squashes and tomatoes. In rough proportions, this will yield a spiced tea mix for about 8 cups of dry spiced tea, using aspertain sweetened products:
1 can of pre-sweetend instant tea with lemon flavor
2 small cans of Tang ( you really have to look for this product at your local grocery)
1/2 can of pre-sweetened lemonade (or several little packs of Crystal Lite lemonade)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon (no cloves for me)
Add about two tsp. of the mix to a cup of hot water, and the taste of fall is on your tastebuds!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Always Go to the Funeral

Dierdre Sullivan wrote the following which was read on This I Believe on August 8, 2005:
I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that.

The first time he said it directly to me, I was 16 and trying to get out of going to calling hours for Miss Emerson, my old fifth grade math teacher. I did not want to go. My father was unequivocal. “Dee,” he said, “you’re going. Always go to the funeral. Do it for the family.”
So my dad waited outside while I went in. It was worse than I thought it would be: I was the only kid there. When the condolence line deposited me in front of Miss Emerson’s shell-shocked parents, I stammered out, “Sorry about all this,” and stalked away. But, for that deeply weird expression of sympathy delivered 20 years ago, Miss Emerson’s mother still remembers my name and always says hello with tearing eyes.
That was the first time I went un-chaperoned, but my parents had been taking us kids to funerals and calling hours as a matter of course for years. By the time I was 16, I had been to five or six funerals. I remember two things from the funeral circuit: bottomless dishes of free mints and my father saying on the ride home, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”
Sounds simple — when someone dies, get in your car and go to calling hours or the funeral. That, I can do. But I think a personal philosophy of going to funerals means more than that.
“Always go to the funeral” means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The Shiva call for one of my ex’s uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.
In going to funerals, I’ve come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life’s inevitable, occasional calamity.
On a cold April night three years ago, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful and humbling thing I’ve ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.
.......As a child Deirdre Sullivan’s father told her to always pay her respects at funerals. Now, the Brooklyn attorney believes those simple acts of human kindness are as important as the grand heroic gestures....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eye Staining on White Dogs: Using Systane Eye Drops

In conversation with a patient at our local hospital with therapy dog Libby Sweetpea, the gentleman we spoke with gave me a great tip. Surprising what great ideas crop up in conversations with new people in different situations! This patient had formerly bred Pomeranian puppies and was familiar with eye staining problems, especially on dogs with white fur.

He suggested that I buy an over-the-counter lubricating eye drop called Systane and place a few drops of this product into the corners of Libby's eyes. His ophthalmologist had recommended it for humans with dry eyes AND for dogs. (I bought a two pack, one for my dry eyes and one for Libby's stained eyes.)
Well, it works! I have tried using baking soda mixed with water for a paste and Angel Eyes, but this solution seems an easier tact to follow to keep the pup's eyes clear of stain. Just saying...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Faux Pearls, Satin Ribbon and Lace Bible for Brides

Are you looking for a unique bridal gift? Try using your embroidery and beading skills to embellish a Bible for use in the wedding ceremony.

If you would like to design a personalized Bible covering, here is a website where standardized sizes for Bible slip covers can be found for purchase. You can use this type base for cross-stitch, embroidery and beading to create a unique and beautifully crafted keepsake.

Aunt Mary George made me this Bible cover back in the 60's when I married my children's father. As you can see, I could not bear to discard it. Perhaps it can be repurposed for another wedding years later, if the bride cares to use it as a "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" sentiment to be carried for the ceremony.

The yellowing of the white lace adds to the vintage look, so perhaps only a touch of new ivory lace is all that will be added for a later bride.

Then again, if the bride and groom trade vows while skydiving or wearing hiking boots on an Australian walkabout adventure, this sentimental touch would be a bit anachronistic.

Maybe I'll just hang on to this vintage decorated Bible as a touch of the past.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Big Waa! Magical Thinking Does Not Work when Knitting

Oh, my. Another boo-boo on the knitting front. If I knew how the mistake first happened, maybe I could learn from it and avoid its repetition.

Alas, I was 1/3 through with the project before I saw that an extra stitch had been added into a knitting row on the clapotis scarf. This one little extra stitch put a halt to the planned drop stitch row that is purposefully unravelled, actually making the unique design in the shawl.

After having ripped out at least fifty rows of the shawl prior to noticing this big mistake, I was not willing to again do more frogging ... rip, rip. So I took the scissors to that one extra stitch and snipped it, thinking it would magically eliminate the problem. Yes, it was magical thinking, but one can always just click her ruby red slippers and wish hard, believing that the outcome will transpire into the desired result.

But after clipping the stitch, clicking my heels and looking down to see the "fixed" problem, it still remained, with further glitches resulting from the cut yarns. Sigh.

So I took some extra yarn, started weaving and came up with this half-hearted solution at the half way mark on the completion of the clapotis (corrected mistake on lower right side of picture):

Perhaps this is not the best fix, but I did learn to never take scissors to knitted yarn again in hopes of fixing that one added stitch inadvertently put into the pattern. Short of starting all over, do you have another suggestion to make this look better?

I am trying to learn to embrace the beauty of the mistake, and will ensure that the knitting snafu is disguised with a knot when wearing the scarf. Another wabi-sabi under my belt. I must embrace this project in its total harmony and keep this Japanese concept in mind when looking at this little mistake.

Another wabi-sabi mistake in felting wool can be found here posted over a year ago.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cause and Effect- Karma? Reaping What is Sown

Our neighbors complained for two years about a healthy elm tree in our back yard. Its branches reached over the fence between the Hatfields and McCoys (i.e., them vs. us). The biggest complaint was that this tree allowed its seeds to fall onto their lawn and created unsightly new elm growth in the middle of their manicured masterpiece of green grass. The neighbors went to the extreme of writing a nasty note about this situation, publishing it in the local newspaper, and sending us a copy to be sure we had seen it. And one day, an envelope was mailed to us with seeds from an elm tree tucked inside the package, apparently gleaned from the offensive tree in our yard.

Yes, obviously, these people had way too much time on their hands.

Long story short, the healthy, shady and lovely elm tree was removed from our yard.

Moving on to the summer of 2009, it is ironic that a dead tree (five times as large as our offending elm) just happens to create an unsightly nuisance for our neighborhood. And it is on their property. The cost to remove the tree will be around $4,000 since access to the tree is limited.

Although this is not the particular tree, here is a representative picture of the huge cottonwood now residing in their back area, creating a nuisance for them:
Which brings up this thought from What You Receive is What You Give ...

In both Hinduism and Buddhism, every action has consequences. When a pebble falls into a pool, it produces rings that spread throughout the whole pool. A butterfly fluttering its wings can produce a typhoon, under the right conditions.

In the same way, our actions cause cosmic vibrations that affect not only this life but our lives to come. What we do not learn in this life must be learned in the next. Harm we cause in this life will come back to us in the next. The universe is relentless. It will not let us get away with anything.

To read more about the poor little elm and its demise in 2007, go to my husband's posting about the elm tree ruthlessly yanked from the ground.

Moral of the story: one living tree demolished two years ago, replaced by one dead tree whose removal will require a huge financial outlay for the neighbors.

What you reap, that shall you sow gives an insightful look into this proverb.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Affirmation Journal - Keeping Centered

Over thirty years ago, my mother was making affirmation journals, although that term would never have come to her mind. In looking over one such book she had compiled, and wondering if others had made similar journals, it took me on a search to find information about an Affirmation Journal.

Keeping positive thoughts and quotations cut out from newspapers and magazines was mom's forte - remember that was in the day prior to computers when we actually held books in our hands for reading. Whenever she came across a written thought or even a paragraph that she knew she would like to re-read in the future, she would clip it from Sunday morning church bulletins, newsletters or even copy by hand her favorite scripture passages. Then she would paste these little snippets into a blank book for further pondering. She also illustrated portions of the books she put together with her own artwork. It was an activity from which she gained much benefit, as she battled depression her entire lifetime.

Looking through her journals today and seeing her signature watercolors makes me smile long after she has died. While working on a psychiatric hospital mental health team a few years ago, I used this form of "paper and reading craft" in helping severely depressed clients. Giving each patient the knowledge that positive affirmations kept in the forefront of our spirits is an aid to better mental health, and then teaching this simple act of clipping and pasting, proved to be a valuable teaching activity. Call it occupational therapy if you wish; affirmation journal making was engaging and helpful in channeling innermost thoughts toward a higher plane of purpose.

One client told me it was the most helpful thing she learned in her seeking solutions for greater well being. In gratitude, she showed me her newly begun personal clip-and-paste book that she had started while hospitalized. What a humbling satisfaction it was for me to learn this particular activity passed on by my mother was yet helping someone else a third generation later.

Above are some pictures of the pages of Ann McCarroll's journal. I hope you enjoy them, and perhaps this simple idea may set you on your own personal journey of seeking, saving and reviewing affirmations. of my favorite affirmations: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me". Philippians 4:13

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Foliage Centerpiece inside Centerpiece

Back in the spring, this centerpiece was begun by purchasing a large container at a Big Box Store, and embedding a bowl inside the container. Then the inner bowl was surrounded by an inch of potting soil tamped around it, making a circular ring of soil.

After the soil was watered, transplantation of blooming grape hyacinths and ajuga ground cover completed the task. Then it was time for Mother Nature to take over, helping roots to establish and the plants to begin flourishing.

In the middle of the container, I placed this plant to take up the negative space:

Then all that was needed to finish off the project were some silk fall foliage.

Supply list: One large decorative container; one smaller container to fit inside the decorative one; potting soil, perennial plants and silk flowers to dress up the project

It is outside on the patio table, still blooming and looking "fallish". It was an easy project and fun to complete. The plastic pot inside the larger teacup container is a bit too high for this particular centerpiece, but you get the idea of how this can be finished off.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stapleton Planned Community

The past weekend was spent in Denver with a side trip to Vail on the way over the mountain. Stapleton Community was the final destination.

Here are a few pictures of Vail and the area around Stapleton, including friend Kathy who did not want her picture taken: