Monday, July 30, 2007

More FO's for your amusement

I've always admired those knit sacks that make it easy for you to carry your knitting around, but I didn't feel like shelling out the money for something I'm pretty sure I could make myself.

I looked on my forgotten UFO shelf and found a felted bag, needing nothing but handles. I got out the scissors, cut the handles, and attached a ribbon loop to the inside to thread the yarn through. Voila!

And the white ball is a contribution to my friend's new home decor...I'll have to explain that later! (Ah, the suspense...)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Living your own life

I will be away from my computer for a little while, living life unplugged for a time, so I'm leaving you a quote to think about, courtesy of Jason at

"Driving a car versus riding a bike is on par with watching television rather than living your own life."( Bruce MacAlister)

I'm hoping to put a couple of posts "in the can" which will post while I'm away, about such exciting news as a garden update and more FO's!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I am generally an optimistic person. For example, my approach to balancing the checkbook is, "Why bother? I'm sure it will all work out." I suppose you can guess how that goes over in our household (and who balances the checkbook!).

My optimism has its advantages. For example, I think it is perfectly reasonable to work full-time, be a relatively competent and loving parent, pursue a Ph.D., work on causes important to me in the community, and have a great intimate relationship and a life rich with meaningful friendships. Oh, and finish 45 hand-made objects, bike 45 miles, and do a 45-hour retreat all in one year.

By and large, I'm mostly successful at the above list, which, of course, only feeds my optimism and makes me think I can do more and more. Thus, occasionally, my optimism turns to hubris. I have recently been reminded of this in the most indelicate way.

Case in point--my seat.

I've been thinking...45-mile bike big deal. To any of the Serious Cyclists out there, you're saying, "Yeah, NOT a big deal!" But I am not a Serious Cyclist. No, I am a mere dilettante...I actually bike for mostly practical purposes, commuting to work and around the city, to reduce my own contribution to climate change, to see some new scenery on the weekend, to get a decent workout, and to have fun.

Notice, I said to have FUN. Things I do not find fun include: biking huge hills, biking on roads likely to hold enraged Hummer-drivers, or, truly, any kind of exercise-induced pain.

Which takes me back to my seat. T. and I biked 20 miles this past weekend, through Genesee Valley Park and on to the Erie Canal Trail to Schoen Place in Pittsford, then back home. Great ride! Really beautiful and with a break for ice cream in the middle.

On the way back, and I know some of you cyclists have done this, I occasionally had to stand on my pedals just to relieve the know where. Yes, I have a comfy seat, and yes, I have cycling pants with extra padding so I feel like I'm wearing a diaper.

But nothing makes up for the fact that, since I haven't been cycling that far at a time, my seat endurance, so to speak, is not what it could be.

Ah, the hubris...sure, 45 miles, no big deal. What, do you expect me to actually TRAIN for that?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Needed a tune-up

A couple of years ago I inherited a sewing machine from a friend who was moving to England. It had belonged to her mother, but had sat unused for quite some time. Her mother was a skilled quiltmaker, so I knew it had to be a quality machine, but the last time I had an encounter with a sewing machine was in seventh grade home economics (while the boys were in "shop"). That encounter ended badly and I hadn't tried sewing since.

So I've been struggling along, sewing a few things here and there. (Remember the pillows? Those are my biggest project thus far.) Finally, some thread got stuck in the bobbin and I decided it was time for a tune-up.

I just got it back, and can I tell you....I now LOVE this sewing machine! I never knew what I was missing! It feeds like a dream. I can't WAIT to play with it some more.

I have gotten three more FO's out of it, all in one day. They're small, but they were very much needed, and it felt great to get them done.

First, a new cover for our coffee table, to match the pillows.

Second, a laptop sleeve for the new laptop.

And third, a sewing machine cover to keep the dirt out of my new and improved machine. (I used this pattern, minus the piping.)

I worked on those the same day I kicked T. out of the house for a few hours. I NEEDED my own space. She was gracious about it, and by the end of the day, it was as though I had had a tune-up as well.

Sometimes you don't know how much need it until you get it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Less than 6 degrees of separation

Jason over at RocBike asked me a few days ago to write a guest essay.

I sent it to him, wondering if he might find it a little too much of a downer since it talks about some serious cycling accidents in my life.

Come to find out, Jason had actually witnessed and assisted in the most significant accident.

Read about it here and be sure to click on Jason's comment for the full story.

I should say I have known Jason in "real" (i.e. non-blog) life for several years now, as a local activist, radio host, and caregiver of one of my favorite young people.

But I didn't know him at the time of the accident, and we never put 2+2 together until the blog-o-sphere connection!

Jason does a great service to Rochester cyclists, especially commuters, and obviously he did a great thing for me and my family. Thanks, Jason!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Reasons not to move away from Rochester

For several years, T. and I imagined the places we might move to after the kids left home, or at the least by retirement...they all happened to be in Massachusetts...first it was Northampton, then the Berkshires, then Cape Cod.

But as the time has gotten closer when we might actually be able to move, the prospect has gotten less and less appealing. So much so that we were just saying that we can't imagine moving from Rochester.

There are some great reasons for living in Rochester...go see what Rachael has to say about the art and culture scene, then come back here for more.

1. Lots of great fiber art and resources for fiber artists. I've visited at least half the stops on the Finger Lakes Fiber Tour and I highly recommend it.

2. Speaking of the Finger Lakes...the Finger Lakes National Forest is only two hours away. This incredible resource offers great hiking, biking, and secluded camping. We spent a week there this June, which included a beautiful sunset over the horizon and a full moon through the branches. And an incredible dinner, as always, at The Red Newt . They have the best Gewurtzraminner going!

3. We have wonderful natural resources right here in Rochester. The Genesee River, offering kayaking right downtown. The Erie Canal with miles of trails for walking, biking, skating, kayaking, boating.

Mt. Hope Cemetery full of history, and a peaceful sanctuary.

Highland Park designed by noted landscape designer Frederick Olmsted, where yesterday DD and I viewed a local production of Romeo and Juliet.

Just yesterday we discovered some new hiking trails in Victor.

4. We have found spiritual and political communities that feel right to us. Places like Springwater Center, Rochester Zen Center, Metro Justice, and our neighborhood, the South Wedge.

So there are a few reasons...I'll add more throughout the year.

What do YOU appreciate about Rochester, or wherever you happen to live?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Headlines from W's presidency

Warrantless wire-tapping.

Hurricane Katrina.

Torture of prisoners.

CIA operative's name leaked.

Daily American and Iraqi casualties.

Libby's sentence commuted.

Refusal to comply with Congressional investigations.

The vice-president's office no longer a function of the executive branch of government.

Scientific evidence squelched in favor of theology and ideology.

It all begs the question...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Twenty-five pounds a whole lot of cherries. Especially if you picked them yourself (which I did, once again at Hurd Orchards ).

All twenty-five pounds came from this tree. That took about two hours.

Then of course, there's the pitting of the cherries. Fortunately I have a double action pitter which I got from Lehman's . So that took about four hours.

Finally, there's the freezing of most of them and the making of cherry topping. That's probably another two hours. I would show you a picture but frankly it would look just like the strawberry rhubarb jam pictures.

Instead you can just lose yourself in the cherries.

The eight or so hours were totally worth it.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Biking makes you good-looking

I just left a comment for Jason over at Rocbike, a blog about bike commuting in Rochester, in which I said that my blog has a bicycling aspect to it. Then I realized, I have not posted ANYTHING about bicycling, even though that is one of my 45th year goals!

So, yes, I have been biking. I bike almost every day to work. It's only about 2 miles, but it is such an invigorating way to start the day! I bike along the Erie Canal, and this is my view as I head into downtown.

I also bike around the city to a lot of my errands. Those little trips add up, but they don't really prepare me for 45 miles in one day. So, I've started doing longer trips, mostly at various points along the Erie Canal. First 8 miles, then 12, then 15. I have a fair amount of endurance, although not a lot of speed. My bike is a Specialized CrossRoads, which is a perfect commuting bike, but heavier and slower than a road bike. That's okay, I'm not really in a hurry. My goal is to complete my 45-miler in early October.

There are all kinds of good purely recreational reasons to gets your body moving, it connects you with your neighborhood, it reminds you that you are a part of the natural world, it's a time to de-compress from the everyday.

And you already know the environmental reasons, I'm know, global warming, peak oil, yada yada...You have heard of a little movie called Inconvenient Truth? Made by someone we elected president?

Okay, if you're not convinced yet, I send you to the powers of the Yarn Harlot. She mentions the most important part about makes you feel "pretty good-looking"!

Go ahead, just try to resist getting out on your bike.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Strawbaby Season

Most of the time I call them strawberries, but for one summer when he was around four, DS called them "strawbabies." And since I'm still in "weepy mom whose son has left the nest" mode, I couldn't resist the nostalgia.

This year I picked strawberries at Hurd Orchards with my four-year old friend Katie. (While Katie seems to like me just fine, she has the four-year old equivalent of a teen rock-star crush on my DD, constantly saying, "I love your daughter. She's the best one." Of course, I'm not about to argue with that!)

The day of our picking was the same day that DS left for the summer (see previous post). I rode with Katie, her sister, and her parents, who had organized a strawberry picking outing for the local gay families group.

I was totally unprepared for my emotional reaction. There were several kids there, all under the age of four. As I pushed Katie on the swing and watched all the others running around, I teared up. Believe me, not because I want more kids! I can't really even explain it...something about knowing that I'll never have that experience again, to see my little ones running around with such abandon.

Even stranger, my conversations over the next several days included the word "grandchildren"! No, kids, don't start yet!! But wow, talk about a primeval start thinking about grandchildren the day DS leaves!!

Anyway, the good news is that I got another FO out of the day! A lot of my free time in the summer is spent picking and/or preserving fruits and veggies, and I've decided to count a day's worth of preserving as one finished object. That seems fair, right?

I made some strawberry-rhubarb preserves (rhubarb from Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture).

Don't you love those jars? Finding them at Wegman's made me unreasonably happy, particularly striking since, although most Rochesterians love Wegman's, to me they epitomize America as the land of free consumer choice. Give me small scale food stores and farmer's markets, like Abundance Co-op or South Wedge Green Grocer's or the South Wedge Farmer's Market. I don't need twenty brands of potato chips and soda. I need good, nutritious food that is no more well-traveled than I am and has ingredients which I can pronounce.

Sad to say, as of yesterday on my sweet cherry-picking trip to Hurd, strawbaby season is already four-year olds and grandchildren, every living thing has its time, and that time always seems too short to those who love them.