on knitting and healing and other stuff

Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Knitter Discovers Ancient, Buried Blog

Posted by Janis on June 24, 2008

Sheesh – ignore the blog for a couple of months and WordPress goes and changes EVERYTHING! I barely recognize this old place… except for the yarn everywhere.

So where to begin? I’m just going to try to throw out all the stuff I’ve been busy with since I haven’t been busy writing here. I left off with spring break…

We have been on the verge of a kitchen remodel for a very long time now and it’s finally happening this summer! Here’s a picture of my darling Dad masterminding the demolition of our old back porch, which will now be part of the new kitchen. Orestes and I raise hammer and crowbar in salute to his genius. We did the demolition, but our good friends at Kohnen Craftsmanship are doing the building. They start Monday – hooray!

It has taken an incredible amount of time to make all the choices necessary here — what kind of cabinets, flooring, countertops, appliances? What kind of lighting? A ceiling fan? What type of windows, sink, faucet? It has all become a very BIG DEAL because I know I will be living with it for the rest of my life. More on that project as it progresses.

On the knitting front, a couple of great meet-ups have occurred this spring/early summer: Stitch n’ Pitch in late May, and the Knitters Connection in Columbus the 2nd weekend in June. My friend Jill and I hit Stitch n’ Pitch sporting our t-shirts designed by Ravelry gal PinkTiburon:

We met a bunch of fun knitters, had hot dogs and beer (OK, and some nachos)(but we DIDN’T get the Ben & Jerry’s), and the Cardinals won. OH – and we KNITTED! I got most of the way through a little stocking cap I was making for charity – goes to one of the Lakota Sioux reservations in South Dakota. It was a gorgeous night at the ballpark. Our St. Louis LYS owners outdid themselves in putting together very generous goody bags — thanks, everyone!

Though I couldn’t attend the entire line-up of Knitters Connection, the all-day class I took with Cat Bordhi (yes, THE Cat Bordhi!) was well worth the trip. I met up with my Ravelry pal Darcy there and we had a great time talking, knitting, learning, and munching our way through Columbus’ North Market! I’m pretty impressed with Columbus, Ohio, I gotta say. They’ve really got their downtown area happening. We also made a pilgrimage to the Knitters Mercantile shop, the one that sponsored the whole Knitters Connection thing. It is a wonderful yarn shop — fantastic selection, incredibly warm and friendly staff. Here are Darcy and I in Columbus:

I’ve been getting some knitting done in and around all this other crazy stuff. Well, not “done” meaning “finished,” but I have several WIP’s on the needles: the Daydream baby sweater for baby Clementine (in an orange-y color, of course), a Phiaro Scarf for my friend Chris who just started chemo this month, and the Pink Mimosa top for myself, which is miles of mindless stockinette for the most part. The baby sweater is a welcome relief from the other two, as it has little lace borders and eyelet trim on the raglan decreases. How I look forward to that k2tog, yo, k2tog sequence!

OK, that’s quite enough for a re-entry into blogland.


Posted in Random | 3 Comments »

O Canada!

Posted by Janis on July 30, 2007

ocanada.jpgNeed to catch up a bit with my summer gallivanting, as my mother used to call it. Great word, huh? — “gallivanting.” One of my little projects I never quite got to before she passed was making a little book of “Mom-isms” for her. She had all these funny phrases and words, some of them from her Oklahoma upbringing (like “sweet patootie” – I think that’s a Southern thing), and some she may have just made up. (Like when we’d lose a tooth when we were little, she called us “Fanny Snaggle-tooth” – how great is that? Anyone who’s heard these before and can help track them, please let me know.)

Oh, but I digress… A couple of weekends ago we took our first real trip to Canada, besides for changing planes. OK, we were only in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, which isn’t too far into the great country of Canada, but we were impressed. Besides the obvious attractions like a national anthem that kicks butt, prettier money, and national health care, the place is gorgeous and the people are great. (You can afford to be kind and friendly when you know you won’t be homeless next month because of unforeseen medical bills.)

We went to take in the Shaw Festival — just had to see their “Saint Joan” and it was worth the whole trip, stunning! — and I was able to meet up with my sock swap Knitty friend, Lisa (click on “purlthis” under blogroll), who’s now based in Toronto. She came bearing gifts: an absolutely edible skein of Fleece Artist SeaWool (no, you may NOT taste my yarn! I know it looks delicious, but you can’t have it), and a very cool raku-fired ceramic apple. (That description does NOT do it justice – it’s one of the most aesthetically appealing things I’ve held in a long time — besides yarn. See photo for better idea of its beauty and inherent holdability). I’m so glad Lisa thought of bringing yarn, as it was incredibly difficult to be in Canada, which = Yarnland, and not be within striking distance of a LYS. Left to my own devices, I’d have assumed there would be one on every corner, in every village, no matter how small… lisagifts.jpg

We took an afternoon to see Niagara Falls, and I must say I was completely clueless as to what to expect. It is spectacular (duh) and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, we came into town a dumbass way and were subjected to major touro-trash before getting to the object of great natural beauty. Yes, that’s right, we encountered Frankenstein yomping a Whopperburgerfrank.jpg before we got to this:fallsrbow.jpg

Alas… ’twas a shock, to be sure. Did we ride the Maid of the Mist? Oh yes, we did — I may be critical of Clifton Hill tourist traps, but I know an authentic tourist attraction when I see it. This was the real deal. maidomist.jpg (And I was so glad we went on the Canadian side, with the blue ponchos — I look terrible in yellow.)

[I’m thinking maybe I should rename this blog “travel*therapy” — I seem to be doing a lot of that this summer.]

Posted in In the Stash, Random | 2 Comments »

Knit 1, Travel, Too…

Posted by Janis on June 23, 2007

Knitting news first: I finished my friend Jen’s sweater (Christmas present ’06). It’s a basic V-neck raglan, knit in the round (I’m in love), from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. And, gosh, kids! It really is handy! Worked like a charm… The yarn is Lamb’s Pride Bulky in Winter Blue, in case you’re wondering… I had a little yarn left, so knit up a little matching beanie to go with the sweater. I thought this was a huge step toward keeping the stash at bay. (Smug smile of self-congratulation.) jensweater.jpg

I cast on right away for the last undone Christmas gift of ’06, a sweater for my pal Gloria. (You may recall that I’m determined to finish last Christmas’ knitting by July 4, 2007.) I’m almost finished with the back, and already I’m pining for the ease of knitting in the round. It’s going to be a nice piece, though — the Poinsettia sweater from Knitscene awhile back, but I’m making it all one color – coral. Also on the needles are Hedera socks from Knitty, in Panda Cotton, Strawberries and Limes colorway (yum).

On to the travel section — Orestes and I took a little anniversary trip to Grand Cayman Island over Memorial Day weekend. We were there for four nights and what a lovely place it is! We stayed at the wonderful Turtle Nest Inn, right on the beach in a quiet area of the island. Four nights of pure relaxation: snorkelling by day, finding great fish restaurants by night. Ahhhhh! Despite the tremendous hit the island took from Hurricane Ivan in 2006, things have been rebuilt on land, and in the sea the coral is growing back. We had amazing biodiversity in the reef right off our inn’s beach. One morning I swam with a school of about 100 blue tangs, Orestes swam with a ray one day. I saw a baby octopus and swam along with him for a bit, and there were dozens and dozens of beautiful fish and a variety of coral, including huge brain coral. Awesome, in the truest sense of the word. We did the Stingray City boat trip — I can’t believe how warmly I feel toward these strange creatures! It’s the second time we’ve swum with them and they are just remarkable animals. (I prefer to swim with and around them, not pick them up. Orestes, on the other hand, must hold and cuddle them. They do seem to like it, and come back for more, even if you’re not feeding them.) I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “But isn’t one of these the thing that killed the Crocodile Hunter?” They are so gentle, it is hard to imagine what went wrong… Here are a few pix from the trip: our inn and its beach, Orestes in the water (no, it’s not a swimming pool, it’s the sea – so clear!).


Trip #2: The first weekend in June, my friend Jan and I took off for a little getaway in the beautiful Arcadia Valley of southeastern Missouri. We stayed in a great B&B – had a whole suite – (the Plain & Fancy B&B, if you ever get to Ironton, Missouri) – the highlight of which is a large outdoor hot tub which faces a pretty creek lined by beautiful trees (oh, and the yum breakfasts). We hiked and talked, ate amazing BBQ at BayleeJo’s, talked some more, shopped at a very cool pottery works (Chanticleer Pottery), and even saw a cowboy music show at Bobby Powell’s Country Jamboree (how could we resist?). The show was terrific — the house band at the club had worked up an entire evening of classic cowboy songs, all done in gorgeous harmonies.

Hmmm… I seem to be plugging a lot of businesses in this post. I hope it’s not too tiresome, but I really want to support the independent businesses in the area who’ve been hit so hard by the Johnson’s Shut-Ins area being closed for 2 seasons. (Thank you, AmerenUE – you’ve done a fine job of nearly destroying one of our most beautiful natural areas in the state. I hope Jay Nixon sues your ass off.)

Well, I’m feeling better now. Nothing like a little vent to get your blood going on a Saturday morningjantaumsauk.jpg. A couple of pix from Arcadia Valley: Jan worshipping nature at Taum Sauk Mountain and the sign for BayleeJo’s, just so you know what you’re looking for.bjsbbq.jpg

Trip #3 For Father’s Day we headed down to visit Dad at the Boy Scout camp where he works as quartermaster. Dad has been involved in scouting since my brother was a Cub, which makes about 40+ years of volunteering for that great organization. He’s the chairman of the camp committee that helps take care of facility maintenance (has been for a loooooong time), and does the summer job just for fun. He gave us a tour of the camp, which I hadn’t seen since I was about 9 or 10 years old — it’s grown and developed so much! It really looks great. We were so proud to see the building with Dad’s name on it. Now you can see it, too, plus a pic of Dad in full regalia.dadlake.jpg


Posted in On the Needles, Random, Therapy | 5 Comments »

Time Off for Good Behavior

Posted by Janis on February 28, 2007

kionfloor.jpgMeet Kiowa, special guest blog dog for this week. Ki is an exotic mix of — what? — maybe some shepherd, some husky, some wolf? We’re not sure, but we love him. He belongs to one of my oldest friends, Jen.

Jen and I were having coffee the other day, bemoaning the havoc that winter has wreaked on our over-40 faces and skin. Jen came up with a great idea, one that will surely take off if we can just get everyone behind it. Here it is: As you go through life, you only get lines and wrinkles and dark spots and flakies if you’re a rotten person. If you are a virtuous person, good to others and yourself, follow the Golden Rule and the Boy Scout motto — you age gracefully and stay timelessly lovely forever. As it stands now, the rich stay lovely because they can afford to have the work done. In the future, good souls will stay lovely and money won’t be able to buy you doodah.

What’s really appealing is that everyone has the raw materials to compete, it’s a level playing field. (Well, sociopaths might have a rough go of it.) The rules are simple and we learn them as children. We can take responsibility from the get-go. And before anyone is offended that I am being ageist, let me say this: On a good day, I feel I’ve earned every line and wrinkle and don’t mind the silver strands and extra pounds. (OK, OK, so I never don’t mind the extra pounds, but that’s all my bad.) On a not-so-good day, I can feel pretty invisible in the youth culture at large. It’s a macro-level thing: when I’m teaching college or middle school students, I’m engaged with inviduals and it’s all good. Out in the world is where it gets dodgy. I wouldn’t walk into a record store if you paid me. I can walk through any store in the mall except the Williams-Sonoma without being asked if I need help. There’s a certain freedom to it, really.

But I’d still go with Jen’s plan any day. As long as it would start immediately and not retroactively — if my college years counted, I’d probably look a lot worse than I do now.

Posted in Random, The Blog Dogs | 5 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Janis Rae!

Posted by Janis on February 22, 2007

Today is the birthday of my namesake, Janis Rae. It’s about the coolest thing in the world to have your best friend from growing up name her little girl after you. It’s even better when the little one is growing into an amazing young person. Happy birthday, JR!

* And happy birthday to Kay on the 18th. What a friend, what a mom!

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »


Posted by Janis on February 22, 2007

deskritus, n., knit*therapese Useless bits of crap that can’t be knit with, found in a desk or bureau.

There’s gotta be a special word for all the weird things that get pushed to the back of your desk. Or to be more precise, my desk. These are little scraps and tchotchkes, oddments picked up along the way that have just never found a permanent home. (Like the garbage can.) Here’s what I’m talkin’ about: deskdet.JPG . From left to right: a miniature cell phone kimono (Chinatown, Chicago, 2004), an unidentified package of negatives, a floppy disk with theatre reviews I wrote in 1998, the jump drive I bought as a gift for my summer teaching assistant in 2005 — but never gave her, apparently, though I thought I had, a perpetual calendar my grandparents brought back from when they lived in Aruba (1966-67) that’s perpetual only until 1986. Oh, and another one of my name labels. I only got those in October (2006).

This is the result of my Mercury-in-retrograde retro-activity. A mess of deskritus, and not a skein of yarn in the lot.

Posted in Random | 3 Comments »

Happy (Lunar) New Year

Posted by Janis on February 17, 2007


It’s the Year of the Pig. And not only the Year of the Pig, but the Year of the Golden Pig, an especially auspicious event which only happens either once every 60 years or once every 600 years, depending on the source. (It certainly seems to me that something that rolls around only once every 600 years trumps a measly 60 any day, but that’s just me.) Being a Pig myself (born in 1959), I’m thinking this could be a great year. I’m also thinking, “Yeah, I’m up for a great year, after last year.” So we’ll see. So far so good, anyway — we stayed home and ordered in Chinese for dinner. (Before you excited — no, it’s not carry-out Cracker Jacks, with a prize in every package. I added Pucca and Garu at home, for visual effect. But it would be cool if the Wok would put little figures in each container. Collect the whole set…)

Happy New Year, everyone. May the Golden Pig bring you much happiness and prosperity this year.

porkypig1.gif That’s all, folks.

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »

Mercury’s in Retrograde

Posted by Janis on February 16, 2007

mercury.jpgFrom now until March 7, the planet Mercury is in retrograde. Never mind the astronomy involved in understanding that — this is big news for anyone who needs to communicate clearly, catch a plane, bus, or train, email a boss, or start a new project in the next 3 weeks.

I am no expert on astrology, but I know from personal experience what a wrench Mercury in retrograde can throw into the works. In my former life as a touring player in the Omaha Magic Theatre (no rabbits out of hats), if Mercury was in retrograde when we set out on a tour, we’d double and triple check every list we had. (I realize this is normal behavior for the Virgos among us — bully for you.) If we didn’t, we’d leave behind half the costumes or the set or, worse yet, the per diem cash. I’ve had bills mysteriously disappear somewhere between my mailbox and Palatine, Illinois (where all credit card bills seem to be paid), phone messages eaten by wayward machines, and comments made in jest terribly misinterpreted. (OK, I’m a Sagittarius, so that can happen anytime.)

Here’s a hint to get through these retrograde times. I didn’t think this up, but once I learned it, it made things a ton easier. Here goes:

1) This is a great time to clean off your desk, organize your stash, your closets, your life. In other words, go retro. Tidy up your past so you’re ready to move forward.

2) That said, you may already realize this is not the best time to start new projects, if you can keep from it. If you gotta, make lots of lists. Check ’em twice. Explain yourself thoroughly. Keep your fingers crossed.

3) You might want to follow up on any very important correspondence sent during these times. Just sayin’…

I am now removing my tall, pointy hat with the stars and moon on it, snuffing out the patchouli incense, and turning off the New Age music. It’s time to clean my freakin’ desk.mercurywithwings.jpg

Posted in Random | 2 Comments »