Friday, March 6, 2009

Screen Time vs. Page Time

A few weeks ago, I purchased a few books that I've been wanting to read for awhile that I couldn't find at my local libraries. I've been reading them voraciously! Made it through one, when I started getting that "blah" feeling partway through the next one. You know that feeling, sorta like you need to take a shower but you know you are technically clean, or perhaps like a jolt of caffeine will move you out of that zoney space. Or a jog. But you can't get moving. A wee bit of funk going on in your head where nothing sounds quite satisfying and you're headed towards grumpsville. I noticed it, but wasn't sure how to get out of it. Reading more sounded like it would leave me in more of the same space. But circumstances being what they were with my life (i.e., attending to my son) other forms of diversion didn't seem available, and quite frankly, I was hooked on my book, so I kept reading. The book I was reading at the time is called The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving this book, but I was basically stuffed on the written word. Yet there I was reading Chapter 4, when Cameron calls for you to submit to a week of reading deprivation. A-ha! Of course, that's exactly what I need right now. So while part of me is hankering to find out all the other ideas in the book, I know what I really need is some quiet time.
"Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill with new words - long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist's inspiration, above the static. "
So, I'm picking up my meditative knitting, eyeing my spinning, observing my breath, getting into my sewing studio, playing chess. Soduko anyone?

Playing chess?! That's actually a part of my screen time lately. My husband and I are playing chess. I learned to play chess as a child but never really played as an adult. But somehow my MMORPGing, Sacred-loving, husband has gotten into the game. First as a way to connect with distant family members and now me, his not so distant family. Its nice to play electronically with a toddler tornado in the house. I don't have to worry if my little guy has stolen my knight or if my husband has "accidentally" moved my rook. I'm enjoying relaxing into the game (I tend to get riled up into looking at every possible move and I'm a wee bit competitive with my husband sometimes) and to just play. One game will last days, but that's ok. Its a nice speed. My husband has also discovered that several of his bachelor friends have a chess client for their iPhones. So he's been playing them as well. He's been walking around the house with his phone in his hand, playing chess and describing what's unfolding over at his friends' place. One of them will play Grand Theft Auto 4, while the other 3 guys are all playing chess with everyone else. Then the Playstation dude will hand off the controller and give some one else a chance and get his chess moves in. A groan will go up as someone looses their queen. An ancient two player turn based game has become a social connectivity tool.

I find it interesting to look at my experiences with books vs. video games the past few weeks. The conventional view is that books are somehow higher culturally than video games. Video games are bad and books are good. Especially if you are a child. As parents we need to make sure that our children are getting the good stuff and we need to limit the bad stuff. As an unschooler and, dare I say, as a Buddhist, that's not my world view. They are ways to occupy my time, nothing more and nothing less. And its interesting to see an example turned on its head. Not good, not bad but rather what's working and what's not working for me. I've obviously OD'ed on the written word and have been exercising other parts of my brain via the internet, even connecting with my husband between parenting duties. Rejecting the conventional view, ditching the cultural values surrounding acceptable pastimes as they are doing me little good, and tuning in to my own knowledge of what is helpful to me right now.

I think I will try to sew a bit more tonight and give Cameron another shot in a few days after my brain has been given some space to breath. In. Out. Always there.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February Bloom Day

So apparently there is a tradition (well just two years old now, which in blogging circles means a tradition) of posting pictures of what is blooming in your garden on the 15th of every month. I say apparently because only recently have I started perusing the garden blogs out there and so I'm still getting the lay of the land so to speak. But I find it a lovely tradition started by Carol at May Dreams Garden blog and would like to give it a go, despite the fact that I don't consider this a gardening blog, just a sorta, sometimes wannabe gardening blog. And to confound the situation even further, for this go around I'm not even going to show case my own garden (not because I don't have anything blooming - I do! at rough count there are 7 things in bloom) but I went on a walk recently on Mt. Davidson, my local open space, and thought I would show what's blooming in a semi-native urban park in the middle of San Francisco. Plus that's what I have pictures of as the middle of the month approached (these were taken on the 9th). So here you go and sorry I don't know the names, let alone the latin names or most of these. And my knowledge of natives vs. exotics while not non-existent, leaves much to be desired. If you recognize something pipe up! I'm just speculating on many of these.

Something in the nightshade family.
small 3

I have no idea. They looked like they had been hit with a yellow spray paint can from a distance.
small 9

Perhaps a native Vaccinum (V. ovatum?)
small 8

A ribes - R. sanguineum?
small 4

Natives? Exotics? The pink one? The yellow one?
small 10

Three flowers - the pink flower again, plus something legumacea like and a blackberry flower.

I saw perhaps 3 other plants blooming that I didn't get pictures of. This was definitely a casual perusal, not an exhaustive search. But here are a few more pictures without flowers (that I can see) but I like them nonetheless.
small 7

small 6

small 5

small 2

small 1

And one last one - the view from Mt. Davidson of my house. Can you see it?

View From Here

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What I Would Make If I Had Time

I was flipping through a Gardener's Supply catalog before tossing it into the blue bin thinking I might find something of interest if I was going to be starting seeds (which I'm not) but stumbled across two items that were interesting. Interesting to make but not interesting enough to buy (sorry Gardener's Supply). I think they've probably been carry these items forever, but this is the first time they actually caught my eye. The first is a Garden Gear Organizer. Like so:

This would come in very handy for me. We live in an attached house (think townhouse although nobody ever calls them that in San Francisco so I can't tell you if there is a subtle difference between a real town house and what we live in). So no side yards and an itty bitty (although it feels spacious to me by city standards- approx. 30'x30') back yard. All my gardening supplies are stored in the garage and I bring them into the backyard via a hallway. However, I'm always forgetting something and then go running back into the garage to pull out my gloves or trowel or pruning shears, etc. I could hang one of these in my hallway and have it just inside the back door. Currently, things have a way of making their way out of the garage and then hanging out just inside and outside the door, so something to stash the small things would be nice. Plus, and this is the best part, I'm pretty sure I could actually sew one o these things myself. When you could conceivably actually make something, it starts seeming a lot more handy :)

The other item is a "Living Wall":

Basically a planter that you can hang on a vertical surface. I would love to have something like this for some of my external walls, either in a central patio/courtyard or on the north side of my house (a.k.a. the backyard). A way to green up some space with an tiny footprint. Some of the house plants that survive here when grown outdoors might work well in that we know they do ok in pots and can take the low light conditions of indoors (so north facing walls are a similar situation). The only difference being that instead of 70 degrees, the more typical temperature is 50 to 60 degrees, although being next to the house it would get the protection of the coldest nights. And I almost think I could make one of these, despite having little woodworking experience.

But for now I think both of these are going to be filed under if I ever have the time. So I'll let you know how they work out in about twenty years :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Goings On

Grrr, accidentally posted over an old post! Reposting to get it right.

February Check In

  • On my needles: EC Skirt. An easy knit I can do without using my frontal lobe, so should go fairly quickly.

  • On my spindle: Almost done with the final (third) play of coopsworth so I should be able to start plying soon. However, I also purchased a new spindle! Woot! It's a Maggie 0.8 oz (from the top of my head so don't quote me) hi top with a pretty curved top. I'm working on some Targhee on it. Pictures soon.

  • On my nightstand: I've got scores of half finished books lying around but nothing has really grabbed me lately exceptThe Noble Eightfold Path by Bhikkhu Bodhi. I've read it before but its oh so intense and worth reading scores of times.

  • Screentime: Connections a BBC series (10 episodes in 1978, and 30 more in the 90's) takes an "interdisciplinary approach to the history of science and invention and demonstrates how various discoveries, scientific achievements, and historical world events built off one another in an interconnected way to bring about particular aspects of modern technology". Only on episode two but so digging it. Geeking out big time!

  • In my garden: I'm working on removing a few large roots from one of my beds and then lining it with gopher proofing. It makes me nervous to cut up the roots of the tree, but I think we'll be ok. I'm also resetting the raised bed and starting to dig a trench for my irrigation system (to run beneath the garden path). I've signed up at the Garden Registry, which is tracking edible/Victory gardens in the city. It looks like an interesting app, although I'm wishing it had social networking capabilities.

  • In my studio: Nothing but a big ole mess :) My son really needs some more pants, so perhaps soon, I'll break down and clean up, get organized and sew.

  • In the kitchen: Nothing but a clean kitchen :) Haven't been able to get out to farmer's market lately, since the household has been running on a p.m. schedule lately and I think most markets are winding down early afternoon.

  • This and that: Nothing here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I recently finished these infant longies (link is for Ravelry users only) (longies being wool pants that cover a cloth diaper) for a friend (who had this blessingway). Her son is still a bit too small to wear them so no "sportin" pictures yet. I love these. I hadn't meant to fall in love with them, but I did. I love the colors and and love the stripes and I did a wee bit of stranded work on them as well. The stripes and stranded work are more or less random (or random within a mental set of rules I made up, but then as I went down the legs I realized I was running out of green so started using more brown and blue. And if you look closely you'll see some snafus.). I wasn't sure how to handle the short rows with stripes, so I just included the short rows within one stripes. This pictures shows the back of the pants and how the two green fat green stripes on the butt get wider.
They are the picky pants pattern and I chose to use a seed stitch cuff, happy/dreamy sigh. I used Cascade Yarns Pastaza (50% llama, 50% wool) which was a joy to work with. The orangey/brown color is actually red and yellow fibers blended together so that from a distance it looks brown (see color 071 here). So subtle but made me happy while I was knitting it. Its a single ply so I hope it wears well enough and isn't too pilly.

Friday, January 30, 2009


As I mentioned in my New Year's post, I'm getting interested in preserving summer's bounty and in my neck of the wood's its really any time of year's bounty. I'm not sure I can pinpoint any one reason why it interests me, but all sorts of things seem to be conspiring to say, "this just makes sense". Environmental reasons, self sufficiency, health benefits of homegrown food, frugality, preserving quality ingredients for cooking. Heck, even novelty! So with winter in Northern California we have Meyer lemons! Now, I don't actually have meyer lemons, despite the fact that I have a meyer lemon tree. Its sadly neglected from being in a pot and not receiving suitable attention. I have plans of putting it in the ground, but haven't done it yet. No, my in-laws in Chico have come through with LOADS of beautiful lemons. So good. If I'm going to be processing foods in bulk for preserving I need to find out what exactly a bushel is, because I suspect I had one of lemons. If not one then at least a large fraction of one. So I cut these guys in half, juiced 'em by hand and then froze them in ice cube trays to create 1 tablespoon servings or approximately half a lemon. And then stored them in a ziploc bag. I have 8 dozen cubes which should last me for quite some time. I'm not sure what my lemon using frequency is, but 8 dozen is roughly equal to 1 lemon a week. Not too shabby. They will probably get freezer burned before then, so I'll try to use them up a bit faster.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making Me Happy

I recently bought one of these:
It's a part that screws to the bottom of my camera creating a quick release to attach the camera to my tripod. I lost the last one before I got my digital camera and then I found it again, but promptly forgot where I found it. A few day ago it occurred to me that there might be a chance of finding a replacement part, even if the tripod was twenty years old. A quick search on Amazon found one for twelve dollars with shipping - that sold me plus there were many comments from people saying they would get multiple ones because they were losing them as well, which made me feel a bit better as well. So now I can take pictures like this (my street at dusk):
I'm very happy right now - I really love how this tripod works - you know when you actually enjoy using something as opposed to just enjoying the results? I'd really like to take some horticultural photos soon. Maybe even some to share!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year's Thoughts

I know. I'm so behind on this one. But Happy New Year and what are my resolutions for 2009? I'm not one for making resolutions. I used to make them because on some level they appealed to me (the list making aspect of my persona, I dare say), but they never lasted more than a week. And being a different person since becoming a mother, I still like the idea of them but changed a bit to fit with my change in personality. Some people talk about intentions and that's a bit more my speed. Not hard and fast rules, nobody gets beaten up with guilt when I'm less than perfect; lots of flexibility built in since things can change. More like an evaluation on perspective - what's important? what do I like doing? what can I realistically do? what do I want to do that I'm not doing much on now? So what things am I thinking about with regards to how to spend my hobby and spare time? Well let's see...

In general. I was involved in planning two blessingways that took place about a month apart. I really loved doing that. I loved the creative process around it and I loved making new traditions. I loved doing something special for people who are special to me. And when it was over, I loved not feeling like I had any more obligations. I realize now that since my son was born, I haven't taken on many "have-to's" or "need-to's", instead playing it slow. I really like this lifestyle. So whenever possible I would like to keep that openness. Already there are several opportunities that are popping up that I would love to take advantage of, but am hesitant to add more appointments to my calendar, so it will be a balancing act.

Knitting. I have a few project on the immediate horizon, mainly gifts and requests people have made. Someone in my family wants a knitted item? Hell yeah, I'm there! Beyond that, I don't have any goals, like learn to knit intarsia, for example. However, I do have some thoughts on what I should be doing with my knitting time. I think I will be more productive if I stick to simple and portable projects. I got hung up on a few projects because I wasn't in love with them or they weren't practical with the realities of chasing a little boy wherever he wanted to go. So no stranded knitting (too many balls of yarn to tote around and get tangled) even though I loved how my last project turned out. And definitely no lace since its so hard to concentrate on - well very little lace and I'll have to think hard and long about that because some of my hand spun is calling out to be knitted in lace, so if I do knit lace it will be after hours knitting. Smaller to medium projects in patterns I can keep in my head are good (say k2, p2). Things that come in two's aren't ideal since I tend to lose speed but in general things that come in twos are smaller so I'll have to balance those two ideas. So baby things, toddler clothes, scarves, cowls, hats, and in twos, gloves, socks and fingerless mitts.

Spinning. I love spinning. I really do. I want a wheel and hand carders and other toys and fun stuff. But I honestly don't have the time and if I got a wheel I could only use it after hours when little fingers didn't want to play with it and I just don't have the time for special projects when my son is sleeping. Spindle spinning makes so much more sense, since I can spin in the living room, playroom, garden or bathroom. So no gadgets this year, I'm thinking. And while I'm at it no classes either, since I'll just end up buying gadgets or fiber if I take a class. Meeting up with other spinners may fit in there some where since it takes little time and it might help my spindle spinning. Getting more spindles is definitely in order, since I'm learning to spin finer and dropping my 2.2 oz spindle a lot in the process, which I believe means I'm spinning too fine for it. Plus most spindles are dirt cheap compared to a new wheel.

I have approximately 52 oz of fiber in my stash (and I've spun only about 7 oz on top of that EVER so yes, I'm still very much a novice). AND I signed up for the Wooly Wonders fiber club at A Verb For Keeping Warm, which will bring me an addition 4 oz of wool fiber every month. I would like to stay on top of my stash so spinning 2 oz a week seems like a reasonable way to do this. It remains to be seen if this is feasible considering how much time I'm putting into it. Perhaps budgeting for 1 oz a week with the expectation that my stash won't grow by much is more in line with reality.

Reading & screen time. I have no particular thoughts on intention or objectives with regard to reading or screen time but figured I would follow my status reports format and include it here. Reading and gaming interests wax and wane. I would like to work on archiving my blogs into a print on demand service like blurb. So I guess I can add that to my wish list. And what's on my reading list reflects what my current interests are, mostly since I'm not a big fiction reader.

Sewing. I have several projects I would like to work in with sewing. Some pants for my son and placemats and napkins for the kitchen. Perhaps some cushions and pillows for the house. But sewing is a tough one since in general it requires my complete attention and that's being heavily rationed lately. But I haven't felt a strong urge to embroider like I did last year. I suspect the time to reward ratio isn't good for me.

Cooking. So I've been reading Local Flavors by Deborah Madison and that has me all fired up on local food again or perhaps I should say more. I would like to try to shop at farmer's markets and give up grocery store produce as much as possible, including our delivery box which is somewhat local. I'm interested in learning what is truly seasonal and fresh from the field vs. taken from cold storage and learning more about who is farming my food. So, one, I want to try to visit all the farmer's markets in the city. I've already been to the Tuesday morning Ferry Building Market (I know, I know so behind the curve on this! but I'm learning!) and Heart of the City Wednesday market. Its nice to get outside and shop in the middle of winter - true its been sunny on the days I shopped, but hey, I'm trying! Two, I also want to try new and perhaps exotic to me produce. I bought a bunch of nettles earlier this week. I think Buddha's Hand might be up next. Three, I'm on a "storing food from when its at its peak" kick. In other words, putting food by - canning, freezing, drying, pickling, etc. So I'm reading quite a bit about it now, but trying to imagine how this will be implemented. It only makes sense to store foods that we'll actually eat. So on the canning front that pretty much means tomato and tomato products (tomato sauce, salsa?, chopped tomatoes). Canned fruits and vegetables don't have any appeal to me, nor does sugar loaded jams. And we don't have much room in the freezer. I could probably elucidate this idea a bit more.

Gardening. The weather has been gorgeous here and I'm fired up again about vegetable gardening after reading Local Flavors and any time I read anything by Pollan. So what's it going to take to make a productive garden? I think infrastructure will be the watchword for 2009. 2007 was about dreaming and removing the old pond. 2008 was making the beds and learning about pest management. That make improvements based on what learned in 2009 - lining beds with wire to help gopher proof (mostly done), low fencing to keep marauding toddlers and dogs out of the beds (purchased but not installed), and installing drip irrigation (big project with many trips to the store, I'm guessing). And if I have time, planting all of the raised beds with edibles, fill in central beds with edibles and organics, plant my lemon tree and look into limes, pineapple guavas, and other fruit trees. And if I'm still needing things to do, look at redoing my perimeter beds and starting on a compost pile. Although as important as that compost pile is it will take a bit of thought because it really is a compost system (how to gather scraps, how to turn the pile, etc.). So might be a 2010 intention.

Mindfulness - This is my big intention for the year. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself last month about my lack of crafting and I started thinking about 2009... What do I want 2009 to look like? And I realized that what's most important to me is my meditation practice of which I've been very sporadic this past year. I've never really gotten it firmly established and when it comes time at the end of the day, when I'm waiting for that opening to sit, I'm too tired and haven't found the initiative to make the time. But I know that this is what's important to me. I've signed up for a class(? for lack of a better word) to help me get going. Its a bit scary since some of the meetings are long (like 8 hours) and I haven't been away from my son like that before. But it seems like a good kind of scary. Honestly, I think the hardest part will be making time to sit.

So there it is! 2009 all laid out.

Have I mentioned how much I love planning even when moving at a snail's pace? Just keep plunking away at it, brings a smile to my face.
It sounds almost pathetic really to think about it - spinning only 1 oz a week?? But in a really weird way it makes me happy. I have so little free time and I'm still able to blog and take photos, sew and read, cook and garden, knit and spin! Such a lucky woman! I'm looking forward to reading this post in a year and see how much (or little) I've done and whether my thoughts on the subject have changed. How fun!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Status report

  • On my needles: Longies. Still. Yes, taking a back seat to spinning. Apparently this isn't uncommon in new spinners.

  • On my spindle: Working on my third spinning project. A natural colored coopsworth wool in brown. finished one single and I'm going to try to do two more to make a three ply.

  • On my nightstand: Color in Spinning, Hold Onto Your Kids

  • Screentime: Kung Fu Panda got some serious play when my son was sick and I didn't immediately get totally sick of it. Probably my favorite Dreamworks movie to date; they aren't batting very well in my park.

  • In my garden: Nothin! Well nothing that I'm involved in. I'm sure it keeps doing what nature intended for it to do.

  • In my studio: I recently made a little bag for the bleggingway. I love simple little pretty sewing projects.

  • In the kitchen: Made some plain ordinary choco chip cookies recently, didn't even use whole grains, but nothing to blog about (oops, too late)

  • This and that: For the blessingway, a friend and I made these paraffin luminaries in blue and white. That was fun.

Let's Try This...

So I had this bone deep realization the other day that my days are numbered. Perhaps its part of being a mother, but I think it was the first time that I applied it to my craft production. I think I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn't getting much done. Sort of, a poor me, attitude. When I realized I will never get it all done. Ever. And that was a bit liberating. And a bit trying. And somehow appropriate. I mean if you got all your crafting done, that means you ran out of ideas, which means alot, alot alot.

I've always considered myself a more process oriented person, but realized there is room for improvement on that front. As the year winds down and I start thinking about next year and beyond, I realize there are areas of my world where I would like to spend more time (*cough* zafu *cough*) and that there are so many hours in the day. More crafting isn't going to get me any closer to ... what exactly? But less doing and more being? Well, that sounds about right. Challenging, to be sure, but right.

So, I thought I would try out a periodic status report of hobby goodness, like I used to have on the sidebar, but then removed because it wasn't tied into rss feeds, and then I was going to make it into a blog entry, but sorta forgot, because i get caught up in "oh it needs a photo" perfectionist thinking. So the form might look a little like this and quite possibly won't have photos, but it will be quick to update (good when you don't know how long you have at the computer before your little one wakes up) and I think I will enjoy seeing what I've made and things I've read or eaten. It satisfies the former (now mostly gone) list maker in me, but the focus is on what's happening now - not is it a FO or not AND not what still needs to be done.

  • On my needles: (this is for knitting)
  • On my spindle: (this is for yarn I'm spinning)
  • On my nightstand: (books I'm reading)
  • Screentime: (movies, tv and videogames)
  • In my garden: (current projects, ongoing maintenance, and what the veggies are up to)
  • In my studio: (sewing projects)
  • In the kitchen: (things i'm planning on or recently made)
  • This and that: (misc crafting that's probably not a regular feature)

So, I'll try to update this when I can and count my breaths when I can and share with you, at least one little photo series for this post. Yes, I started spinning. Coopsworth into a single which I hope to make into a three ply.