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Apr. 9th, 2014

More music

So Monday night, I went to see Todd Rundgren in concert. He was at the Carolina Theater in Durham, with three band members and no opening act. He was great, but the sound was bad way up in the nosebleed seats where I was. That's okay, we all sang along anyway. I spent the night at my mom's house and drove home early Tuesday morning. I don't enjoy getting up that early, but I do like seeing the sun rise.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Durham for the Food Truck Rodeo, and to see a NYC band, PitchBlak Brass Band. Here's a video for their single, Virus. Warning, this performance contains rap, but also a smoking-hot horn section. Don't give up. I am not much for rap, but the band is fantastic. I saw a post on Facebook from an arts center in Durham about PitchBlak and the rodeo, and loved the music. I met up with Renee and her daughter Alix at the rodeo. The food I had was okay, but the music and the company were excellent.

A few months ago, I told my cousin Andrew that I didn't like new music. Of course, since then, I've found all kinds of stuff that I like. I just can't find it on the radio, that's all. I get most of my new music via recommendations and links from my imaginary internet friends, and mostly from Columbine. (Those who know him know who I mean.) One thing I got from NPR was Pharrell William's Happy. I guess I'm about the last person in the world to hear that tune. It's a great song, but a terrible earworm - it's almost impossible to get it out of my head. So far, I have managed to avoid hearing "Let It Go," from the movie Frozen. I'm sure it will get me eventually.

Other than that, there's not too much going on. I've been walking Jake and cooking, and sitting around. I've hardly touched my looms, and I haven't been in my kayak in ages. I've signed up for a paddle trip on the Cape Fear River in two weeks. I have no plans for this weekend, and I'm hoping that I can find the motivation to get my loom warped and try doubleweave. Last Friday, I took a spinning class at the Carolina Fiber Festival, where I learned a very important lesson: I don't need to spin. It's bad enough that I use thread to make cloth. I don't need to make my own thread. I'm glad I learned that before I bought a spinning wheel. (I got a flax wheel at an antique store last fall, but it's strictly decorative.) Apparently, there is a limit to my love of string. Who knew?

Mar. 24th, 2014

small, medium, large

On Saturday night, I drove out to Saxapahaw, NC to see Jonathan Byrd. He was the opening act for The Duhks. I'd never heard of 'em, but I figured if Jonathan was opening for them, they must be pretty good.


And so they were. Jonathan's my guy, of course, and I really enjoyed his show. The Duhks, despite the terrible name, are a great band, very Celtic/bluegrass/foot-stomping reels and jigs. There were probably 400 people there. I guess The Duhks had been off the circuit for a while, so their return was a big deal. Still, a pretty small show.

I left before the very end, as I'm leery of driving on the two lane back roads on a Saturday night, especially as it gets closer to closing time. Saxapahaw is just under two hours away. It was a pleasant and uneventful drive both ways.

Sunday, I went to see Asleep at the Wheel play at the Poplar Knight Spot in Aberdeen. This is the third time I've seen them there. The band line up has changed a little bit, but the show was just as great as ever. Here's a photo:


My apologies for the terrible photo - I was way off to the side. Feel free to click through to the full size photo, such as it is. The cowboy hat on the right is Ray Benson, founder and mainstay. The cowboy hat on the right is Eddie Rivers, on the steel guitar. The woman in the center is Katie Holmes, on the fiddle. The bass player is behind Ray. I didn't catch the drummer's name, but he didn't fall asleep once (despite what my dad always days). The piano man, Dan Walters, is hidden behind Ray. They are all great musicians, and they put on a a terrific show.

Asleep at the Wheel has been recording and touring since 1962. They're really big in Texas, but sort of a medium sized musical act. The Poplar Knight Spot only holds 100 people who really like each other, so it was a pleasantly intimate show.

Tonight, I'm going to see Crosby, Stills, and Nash with my dad and his aide. This show is at a stadium, so it's a big one. It's funny to go to these shows - everyone there is my age and older. I've been going to concerts with the same group of people since the 70s. Only these days, I wear hearing protection, and I remember the whole show the next day. Hah!

Mar. 12th, 2014

Buster (Brown)

We are dog-sitting these days. My stepson and his girlfriend/fiancee have a puggle named Buster. She's out of town for three days, and Aiden works 14 hour days out of town, so I volunteered to keep him.

Here he is with Jake:


and in the yard:


He's been to the house a couple of times, but last night was the first overnight. We had a little pandemonium, and it took a while to get everyone to settle down. Then David came to bed after midnight, and that woke all the dogs up again. So I took everyone outside, and then we (me & the dogs) slept in the family room. I laid down on the couch, and Buster popped right up to join me. That couch is not big enough for me, much less me and a 30 pound dog, but we made do.


Buster was overfed by Abby's mom, and he's on a strict diet these days.

Today, David's out of the house all day at a job fair, so I've gone home twice to make sure the dogs are okay and empty. Everyone seems fine, although Dolly is NOT amused at a third dog in the house. There was much huffing and puffing yesterday, but she seems resigned now.

Dolly has taken to leaving the back yard lately. She pushes through the gate and strolls out to the front yard. She never goes far, so it's not a big deal for her, but now Jake is out there too, and he bolts. Three times in the past few days, we've left them out there for 10 minutes or so, only to notice Dolly walking past the kitchen window. The first two times, Jake came right back, and got praise and a cookie for a prompt return. This morning at 7:30, he did not come right back. I whistled, called, nothing. Finally, I got in my car and drove around a bit, and found him a few houses down. I put the car in park and opened the back door where he rides, and he ran and jumped in the car. Phew. So now we can't leave Dolly in the back yard, and I guess it's just a matter of time before Jake figures out that if she can push her way out, he can too. I'm going to try a bungee cord on the gate, and see if that helps. Even if Dolly gets out, if the gate closes up behind her, Jake will be in.

By the way, this morning, Buster let me know something was wrong. I heard him barking, so I went to the door and there he was, a few feet from the open gate. Good boy, Buster! If he'd run off, I would have lost my mind. Buster's a little skittish, but he's a good dog over all. (I had to explain to Abby why I call him Buster Brown - she's 19 and had never heard of Buster Brown and His Dog Tige. Just a baby, that one.)

This whole event is another earthquake in the generational shift: it used to be that Mom and Phil were the Kids going to see his folks, then David and I were the Kids going to visit my folks. Now we have the Kids coming to see us, and we get to babysit the grand-dog. This is both delightful and frightening, together.

Mar. 7th, 2014

cold, cold rain

Since forever, it seems. I'm so over it. It's supposed to clear up tomorrow and hurray for that. Yuck.

Yesterday, David started training a new recruiter for his company, at our house. He's a nice guy, who was in the Army with David. Well, David bought some big fat steaks for dinner, but it turns out the guy doesn't eat red meat. Good thing he mentioned it before cooking. Anyway, I pulled together a big spaghetti dinner out of the cupboard and freezer, with salad, garlic bread and dessert. Shazaam!

I took an online seminar yesterday on the business of being a fiber artist, and here are my takeaways: don't quit your day job; practice, practice, practice; think about bang versus buck; and it's okay to make a profit on your work. That is, weaving scarves can be great, but the warping and finishing work are very time-consuming: can I charge enough for the item to pay for that time? Making fabric and sewing it into something might be great, if you like to sew. Sometimes you can find something small and easy to make, spend one day a week making those in bulk, and spend your other hours working on something more intricate. A thought-provoking talk, and well worth the investment, I thought. It's one thing to daydream about weaving and another thing entirely to make a business plan, weave for production, and market your wares.

This weekend, I'm starting an eight week series of seminars on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. (That title needs some stress reduction, sheesh.) I'm the type who falls asleep at meditation sessions, but I'm hopeful that I'll learn some useful techniques for focusing on the good in my life. I hope that this training will help me to live more peacefully, at work, home, and meetings. I have a hunch that stress is related to being mad about things I can't control. It's just a hunch.

And in a move that should surprise exactly no one, I've signed up for an all-day spinning class at the next Carolina Fiber Festival. I have maintained for years that I don't need to make my own yarn, there's plenty for sale, and yet here I am. No self-restraint, that's me. I got a small flax wheel from a local antique store last fall, on the grounds that it was pretty and I liked it, but had no plans to do anything but gaze at it admiringly.

Flax wheel
Wouldn't you?

I'd say I'd lost my mind, but really, that sucker took off years ago.

Feb. 25th, 2014

Catching up

Last week, I spent a couple of days at the McKimmon Center at NC State University, in Raleigh. The program and the building were all the brainchild of Jane McKimmon, a Home Ec teacher who used to travel around the state for the Cooperative Extension Service, teaching rural folks home economics. She felt there was a great need for this type of education. The program and the building came long after she'd gone on, but her example was so great, they named the building after her.

They had various crafts on display, but I found this remarkable needlepoint collage:


A panel from each of NC's 100 counties, plus a few for larger regions. Those of you who have been on the Blue Ridge Parkway will probably recognize this design:


And those who love the beaches will recognize this:


The panel from Cumberland County shows the Market Building, located downtown. Why needlepoint a building when the town boasts the 82nd Airborne and the Special Forces? I ask you. I'd much rather see paratroopers floating down out of the sky any day. ("It's raining men!")

This weekend, I took Jake to the dog park on Saturday, where we both got filthy in the mud (which is not just mud), and to the woods on Sunday. He's much better behaved when he gets a little exercise. In fact, he's a pain in the butt when he doesn't. Dolly is holding up well. It takes her longer to get up from the floor, but she's in good spirits and eating well, so on we go. Incidentally, Jake's new food seems to be working: I haven't noticed him farting as much lately. And we are grateful!

I've been daydreaming about getting a little dog, but I don't think that's wise. We'll see - I may fall in love, but I'm trying to keep my head. There were Shih Tzu puppies in the paper for two weeks and I managed to hold out. (Breathe.) And I was able to withstand a cairn terrier at the pound. I know better - terriers ought to be called terrorists. Resist! Resist!

Second point against another dog: I picked up all the dog poop in the yard on Saturday afternoon. Wow, two big dogs make a serious mess. I've gone out every day since to stay ahead of the game. My glamorous life!

Feb. 19th, 2014

If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute...

So after three snow days last week, it was 70F yesterday afternoon. There are still snow piles in store parking lots, but we had thunderstorms early this morning and it's supposed to rain until noon, so I expect those will be melted soon enough. It's almost March - the redbuds should be blooming soon.

I finally got my hair cut yesterday, first time since Thanksgiving. I had an appointment in early January, but my hairstylist had a baby on New Year's Eve, which is an excellent reason to miss an appointment. Anyway, I just dealt with it for a few more weeks, until she came back to work. I did insist on seeing some baby pictures, though. Cute little thing.

We're having a big conference in Raleigh on Thursday and Friday, so we are getting everything ready today. I'll go by myself and stay with my parents. There's no reason to stay in a hotel and eat at restaurants when I can hang out with my parents, eat Mom's cooking, and play with the dogs. No contest. My (poor beleaguered) officemate is in charge of this monstrosity conference, and she's doing a great job. I'll be on hand to help her wherever possible and to work the exhibit booth. This means tons of knitting time, too.

Poor Jake has not gotten enough exercise this week, at all. I'm planning to leave work early today so I can take him over to the golf course and throw the ball for him. That dog needs exercise like he needs air. I also bought some grain-free dog food for him. He has a lot of gas, and I understand that switching to grain-free food is often helpful for that. It's worth a try.

So, as usual, not too much excitement around here. I've been winding a warp for a doubleweave project, and I'm working up the energy to thread it this weekend. It's a very simple thing, and two color, so it will be easy to see if it's misthreaded: it should have one color on top, one on bottom. If it works like it's supposed to, I'll have a piece of cloth that's white on the left and orange on the right, and no big seam in the middle. Fingers crossed.

Feb. 13th, 2014

Snow Day #3

Tuesday morning at 9 am:

2014-02-11 09.21.11

The snow continued all day, but didn't coat the roads. We got about 2-3 inches. Wednesday morning, the roads were still clear. The snow started again at 10 am. I walked Dolly around the block (half a mile!) and by the time we got back, our tracks were obliterated. I took Jake out for an hour and the snow was falling fast enough to reduce visibility. Kids were sledding. At 1, the snow turned to rain, and now we have 6 inches of snow coated with ice. Dolly can barely walk on it, and falls at least once every time she goes out. Jake is heavy enough that he crunches through it, but he sure was startled by this odd phenomenon. He sprang around the yard looking behind him in surprise for a few minutes and gave up on the whole enterprise. After that, he was no longer surprised so he just goes out in it. I have to take Dolly out front and stay with her so I can pick her up when she stumbles. Poor kid.

This morning, we have frozen yuck out there, and it's supposed to start raining again at noon. Naturally, the snow shovel is in the shed, and the shed keys are missing, so I can't even shovel the front steps. That's just (rant deleted) typical. I walked both dogs Tuesday and Wednesday, but I don't think I'll try it with the ice. It's really ugly out there. I'll throw a ball in the back yard for Jake to work off some of his energy.

I cut the pink and sparkly thing off the table loom. I still need to zigzag the hems and tie the fringes, then wash and dry it to see how it turned out. It's very bright. Yesterday, I warped the table for a new scarf. This one is wool and a very sedate dark shade, so a very different weave than that ribbon yarn. This one has a pick-up pattern, something I haven't tried before. Should be interesting.

If the rain melts a lot of the snow, we might be back at work on Friday, but I doubt it. We've had more snow days in the past three weeks than in the past eight years. Craziness.

Feb. 10th, 2014

Marching (and standing)

Saturday, I drove up to Raleigh to join the Moral March at the state capitol. I found out about it through Planned Parenthood, and signed up. There were a lot of people there. News reports offer conflicting numbers, of course - I read one in today that claimed 80,000 people. It really didn't seem like that, but then again, I've never been in such a large crowd before.

I got there about 9:30, and we didn't start moving until 10:30. It took us until 11:00 to go about 50 yards, but once we got through the first intersection, it was clear sailing. There was plenty of speechifying before and after, but by the time I got to the end of the march, my hips were putting up a protest of their own, so I headed back home.

About an hour before the march began.

The roving reproductive system says "Vote."

Singing "Forward Together, Not One Step Back," to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Another damn hippie chimes in.

There were people of all ages and races there, representing churches, unions, teachers, and plain old common decency. One guy had a Solidarity flag - I hadn't seen one of those in 30 years. Another guy had an American flag with corporate logos instead of stars. The Unitarian Universalist churches were well represented, along with Methodists, all of whom had impressively made banners. I grabbed two signs to carry - one said "I March for Women's Health" and the other side said "We Won't Go Back." If I'd made my own sign, it would have said, "I'm not your Goddamn aquarium," so that's probably just as well. No need to be testy.

The real deal in Raleigh (and many other places) is that the wholly-owned corporate shills in the legislature and the governor's office pass these regressive policies as a cynical ploy to keep the evangelicals and Tea Party voting for them, while they busily dismantle the government for as long as they are in power.

I have no faith that marching helped, but damn, I had to.

Feb. 6th, 2014

Procrastination, my ancient enemy

I really ought to be teaching myself Dreamweaver right now, but I'm putting it off. Sigh.

So, I went to water aerobics class on Monday for the first time in two months. The gym was upgrading the showers, and I am unwilling to swim in a chlorinated pool if I can't rinse it off afterward. My poor skin is dry enough as it is. Anyway, the work is done, so I returned to my usual Monday night class. I overdid it, and my hips are not happy with me this week. I don't care: I'm going again on Friday. I simply have to get more exercise. And do my stretches every day!

I also managed to overdo it with my left wrist this past weekend. I couldn't pick up a coffee cup by Monday morning, so I've been wearing my wrist braces overnight, and wearing a short brace at work on my left wrist. It's not carpal tunnel, it's more like tendonitis, but the only thing that helps is rest. Wearing the brace keeps me from overdoing it again.

Old age ain't for sissies!

Feb. 3rd, 2014

February already

First, a glamour shot of my handsome boy:

My handsome boy

Also, he likes to get up front with me in the car:


He's too big to ride in the front passenger seat - I already tried that. Hey, at least he doesn't try to drive. He loves riding in the car, and jumps right in. He's a sweet boy.

We went to the running trails on post yesterday afternoon. It's was lovely out, shirtsleeve weather. I also cooked a lot yesterday: beef stew, sourdough bread, couscous salad, salsa verde. I took a jar of the latter to Aiden & Abby for their Super Bowl party. (Sadly, they are Broncos fans, so I expect it wasn't a very fun party after the first quarter.)

Now it's back to work, and I'll probably have to work every day this week, oh the strain.

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April 2014



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