Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten OnTuesday

10 Favourite Games from Your Childhood

1. Jacks. Oh, my goodness - we girls played jacks every chance we got. We always had pockets full of jacks and rubber balls.  As a result, everyone had "jacks bruises" on the bottoms of their barefeet from walking on the strays that got away.

2. Tether Ball. There were 2 tether ball setups on our playground - they were always occupied and had a line of kids waiting to use them.

3. Red Rover. So much fun to try to break people's arms as you burst through the line. Well, not REALLY break their arms.

4. Parcheesi. This was my favourite board game - my cousin and I wore out several sets.

5. Rummy 500. Card game variant on Gin, this one was a favourite of kids and adults in our family.

6. Dominoes. My dad was the dominoes champion in our neighborhood. We liked playing too, but more often than not we were using his domino sets to build elaborate knock-em-down trails all over the house. Heh.

7. Yahtzee. We spent hours and hours playing this game - I've played it as an adult and didn't enjoy it at all. I guess you had to be there.

8. Scrabble. I was never defeated. Being a huge reader, my vocabulary was always the most expansive of all, including the adults in my circle. Eventually no one would play with me. Oh, the angst - and the gloating.

9. Checkers. While I lacked the strategy gene that would have allowed me to think ahead in chess, I could manage ok in Checkers. It was my brother's favourite game, so we played it a lot. I didn't enjoy it as much as he did, but I did like making him happy.

10. Chinese Checkers. SO MUCH FUN to 'accidentally' upset the board when someone else was winning. Ooops.

Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Carole! I wonder if I have a set of jacks in my junk drawer...

Monday, January 17, 2011


Sorry about the radio silence. I went on a lovely retreat with fiber friends for most of last week, and I've been waiting for a good time to take some rooster pictures for you. I headed out late this morning with camera in hand, and though it was a gloomy, overcast day, I think you can get a good look at my local park.

This is one of my favorite places on earth. Lafreniere Park, a half-mile from my front door by foot. It has small lakes, lots of trees, a 2-mile walking/running trail, a waterfowl sanctuary, and plenty of wildlife to fill it. Any given day you can see cranes, seagulls, geese, ducks, swans, chickens, songbirds, squirrels, nutria, rabbits, turtles, cats, and dogs.

As soon as I entered the park, I saw this little family. Mama was teaching the little ones to scratch for bugs, but also to take advantage of the occasional treat thrown by a passerby. In this case, someone had just thrown goldfish crackers on the walk.

The boys were showing off their colors - very handsome.

The seagulls (and various ducks and geese) congregate when they see people with bags of bread - they know they'll get treats. 

 The wildfowl are safe here - it's "posted" so there's no misunderstanding.

 Here's the BIG hill - it's the high point of the park. Remember, it's flatland swamp around here, so we're amazed by any elevation at all. (Having hiked in my beloved Rockies, I am no longer impressed.) You'll note green grass - this is mid-winter in New Orleans. My Canadian friends will recognize some of their geese, wintering here.

I love this place. I used to run 3 miles every morning before work, watching the sunrise on my way back home. That was before Katrina devastated the area (and the park, which was used for a dumping ground for all the refuse cleaned up out of the surrounded neighborhoods, and wasn't restored to its former use for a year). Vagrants moved in and made pre-dawn runs unsafe. Since I had to be at work shortly after dawn, my morning jaunts ended. I lost my focus, my fitness, and my sanctuary.

But now... I've got the time. I'm takin' the park back. I'm looking forward to spending an hour every morning in this place of peace and healing. Walking now, but soon I'll run freely again.

Earlier, though. Too many people at 10:00am.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Walkin' on Sunshine

Still walking - on the treadmill yesterday, because it rained buckets all morning. The Beatburn app for my phone gives me a good treadmill workout, though it has me change speeds and incline levels like a madwoman, every minute or so. I can tell I'm getting a good workout, because all the appropriate muscles are sore this morning.

No roosters in my bedroom where the treadmill lives, so no rooster pictures yet.

I participated in a fun contest on Hilary's Crazy As A Loom blog to name her Solmate Sock Rugs, and she chose my "Walking On Sunshine" name - my prize was one of her fantastic rugs! It arrived yesterday and I am thrilled. Just the thing to brighten a dreary winter - and it tickles me to have a textile from someone I admire so much. (She sells these rugs on her website - don't you want one???) One of my weaving dreams is to have a rug loom in production at all times. I'd love to hang out in her studio in the Adirondacks and watch her weave her many different rugs. She offers 'weaving weekends' and one day I just might go. Thank you so much, Hilary!!! I promised you a picture of me dancing to that song on your rug - you'll have to settle for this, as it's nigh near impossible to take a photo of yourself dancing.

"I'm walkin' on sunshine - oh, and don't it feel GOOD!"

In other sunshine happy news, my dear friend Sherie from Amarillo is on her way here RIGHT NOW. She's flying in for a fiber friends retreat at my weaving mentor Cheryl's studio - we're having a 4-day slumber party. We'll visit, spin, weave, laugh, and go to our Gulf Coast Roc Day celebration on Saturday in Lafayette. I haven't seen Sherie in a year (though we chat daily) and I can't wait to pick her up at the airport this morning. Good times!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rooster, and 10 Things on Tuesday

I was walking in the park this morning (yes, I was!) and I noticed a large number of roosters. We have a large chicken population in our local park, dumped by parents getting rid of Easter chicks who had the audacity to grow up, no doubt. The hens are beautiful in their own way - lovely variations of browns and creams - but the roosters steal the show. Their color palette is glorious. I wish I'd had my camera this morning so I could share them with you - I'll try to remember to bring it with me tomorrow.

The fiber I'm currently spinning is the December offering from Southern Cross Fibre called "Oasis" - its colors remind me of those roosters. A Southwestern palette, to my eye. I was spinning this up as a 2-ply sock yarn for the Etsy shop, but decided I like it too much to sell it, so it's for ME, ME, ME. I'll have some yummy southwestern socks soon. It's superwash BFL, and it spins up so nicely:

See what I mean? Roosters, I tell you.

Carole does a great job with Ten On Tuesday - her lists are always interesting. I'd like to play, too. This week’s Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without. Of course, family and friends are far above such a list - that goes without saying - but I think the spirit of it is intriguing, if only to give a better appreciation for what I have. Here goes:

1. My cats. I have 6 of them (well, 5 plus my daughter's cat who is in permanent residence with us) and they are my babies. My only grandkids so far (ahem). They are spoiled rotten, with little catbeds all over the house and toys underfoot. They give us great joy, and I never want to live my life without cats in the house again.

2. My glasses. I've been wearing them since I was 6. I'm severely nearsighted - I can't focus further than 6 inches from my face without them. They're the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I take off at night. I've worn contacts from time to time, but my correction is so strong that I need reading glasses to counteract them in order to see anything closer than 18 inches. I'd rather wear the glasses.

3. My laptop. It's my file cabinet, my photo album, my stereo, my diary, my dvd player, and my connection to the outside world via the internet. Knowledge at my fingertips - wow. I keep EVERYTHING on it, and yes, I do regular backups.

4. My iPhone. This is a new addition to my life - I got it 6 months ago, and I'm trying to figure out how I lived without it. It's a pocket laptop. I hardly ever make or receive calls, but I text a lot to family. It's a camera, an mp3 player, a game machine, a translator, a portable library, a mailbox, and a million other things.

5. My GPS. (I know, I'm going techie here, but remember, I'm married to an IT guy.) I have NO sense of direction. If you set me down in the middle of the city in which I was born, raised, and have lived all my life, I'd be lost as a ball in the weeds. My GPS is the only thing that enables me to venture out of my neighborhood - and get home again. Please don't talk to me about maps... I don't speak their language.

6. My foot warmer. I suffer from Reynaud's Syndrome, and my feet and hands lose their heat rapidly. At night, I can't get to or stay asleep if my feet are cold, and they're ALWAYS cold at night. This was the most thoughtful gift the husband ever bought me. It's like a heating pad, but it goes under the fitted sheet on the bed, and can be used all night. (It's similar to THIS one.) He turns it on 30 minutes before we go to bed, and it makes the foot of my bed toasty warm. Delightful. I take it with me when I travel, too.

7. My spinning wheels. Spinning brings me such a joy and a peace - how did I ever do without it? My Schacht Matchless is my dearest wheel - this wheel is my constant companion in the evenings. It sits in front of my chair in the living room and I spin for several hours each night - more on the weekends. I've added a Schacht-Reeves saxony, a Hansen miniSpinner, and a Majacraft Suzie Alpaca wheel to the fold, but the Matchless is my baby. (The Majacraft Suzie Alpaca isn't getting any lovin' anymore, and I put her up for sale on Ravelry yesterday  - check it out if you're in the market for one in good condition.) (EDIT: She's gone to a new home!)

8. My looms. I've not spent as much time with them this past year as I'd like, but I intend to remedy that. Weaving is fascinating - so many different structures and techniques to learn. I have a big floor loom and 3 rigid heddle looms - they usually have projects on them. My dream is to fill my house with textiles from my own hands.

9. National parks. We love them - such a  treasure. These are usually our vacation destinations. We've been to Yosemite, Great Smokey Mountains, Glacier, Carlsbad Caverns, Rocky Mountain, Rainier, Grand Teton, Mesa Verde (5 or 6 times), Yellowstone (3 times) and Grand Canyon (3 times). We love to do little short day hikes, and I am passionate about collecting waterfalls. I can sit by a waterfall for hours. Our favorite mountains are the Rockies - one day soon we'll live close enough to see them every morning.

10. The public library. Now this one is embarrassing - I used to spend hours reading library books. I took home 10 at a time, devoured them, and went back for more each week. Sadly, I've gotten out of that habit, and I am ashamed to say that my library card has EXPIRED. Egad. Getting it renewed is on my list of things to do next week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Spring In My Step, And Some Handspun

I, like many of us, don't do well with NY Resolutions. "Resolve" - it sounds so formal and dreary. Instead, I like "intentions" like Laurie's and "I want to" lists like Hilary's. So here's my "I Want To" list:

I WANT TO: spend part of each day walking in my beloved local park. The wildlife and the trees are so heart-warming. The aerobic benefits are great too. My park has a 2-mile walking trail, and it's exactly half a mile from my front door. So a round-trip gives me 3 miles of pleasant surroundings and refreshing exercise. The catch? I find that I only really enjoy the mornings there - the afternoons are too crowded and my energy level is low (and my procrastination level is high). Heading out the door with the husband in the morning is perfect. He leaves for work and I'll leave for the park.

I WANT TO: weave more. I have some mini-workshops lined up with local guild members, and I joined a tea-towel exchange on Ravelry. I love weaving, but I haven't set up a consistent plan for keeping my looms moving and learning new things. Now that I have my days free, I'm excited about having time each day set aside for passing the shuttles.

I WANT TO: spin more. It's no secret that spinning soothes my soul and brings me great joy. I want to do more of it. I'm happy to have more time to spend doing something I love so much. I sell most of it, otherwise I'd be knee-deep in yarn. I'm eager to increase my production, and see more activity in my little Etsy shop - I've met some great people through sales there, and I've set up some satisfying custom commission work, too.

I WANT TO: organize my space. I have enough space to do the things I love, but until now I haven't had the time to organize well enough (on a consistent basis) to keep clutter at bay.  I'm pondering a system of cataloging and inventory that will help me to have a place for everything and put everything in its place. This will free up more time that is currently spent hunting for supplies.

I WANT TO: spend more time with friends and family. Having my days free (do you sense a theme??) gives me that chance. I've got some "playdays" marked on the calendar for guild friends, and I'm planning lunch once a month with sisters.

I WANT TO: learn some new recipes and vary our meals. I'm in SUCH a rut. I really don't enjoy cooking - this year I gave away 3 nights a week to the daughters and to the husband, but the other 4 nights are mine. I struggle to come up with something that doesn't seem tired and old. I have many resources (the web, cookbooks, recipe cards) and I'd like to USE them to add some new meals to my boring repertoire.

Sounds good to me - all things that I would like to do, and none of it seems like a chore or "scolding". I'm eager to get started!

I downloaded a free app for my iPhone (BeatBurn) that gives me an interval workout to music, changing the beats-per-minute to vary the intensity of the walk. I used it this morning - I walked out the door with the husband as planned. I worked up quite a sweat this morning in 45F weather. 3 miles, and the time passed before I knew it. It was great - give me more!

So far this year (heh) I've spun two skeins of yarn. They're both chain-plied to preserve their color changes, and they're both Aran weight.

The first is 'Monet' - a luxury ultra-soft blend of merino superwash and cashmere, in colors evoking Monet's Waterlilies.

And this is 'Eat Your Greens' - a bouncy skein spun from 'lambkins' superwash merino from Enchanted Knoll Farm, in a riotous blend of green shades.