23 July 2014

Music in My Life (an essay)

I have stage fright.  It's part of the reason I am much happier being backstage in the theatre world.  It's also something I want to overcome, at least to some extent, so I have started telling stories.  This involves standing up in front of people, mostly strangers, and talking and not fainting.  There are a lot of storytelling events in the Hartford area - Other People's Stories, The MOuTH, Speak Up, and Syllable Series, where I read the following essay.  The theme for July was "Music" and featured a mini-concert by Bandshes.
Music in My Life
© 2014 Margo Lynn Hablutzel

Music has always been a part of my life, although I am incapable (despite lessons in the standard instruments - piano, flute, violin, and guitar – and some less-standard ones like recorder) to create any myself.  I don’t sing well, and appreciate the fact that when there are a lot of us making “a joyful noise unto the Lord” She doesn’t seem to hear the off notes.  There are times when I can’t even follow a clapping pattern that the rest of the audience seems to reproduce as easily as breathing.  But I enjoy music, have found myself singing in the shower or when alone, and can’t imagine life without my own personal soundtrack.
Most of the rest of my family plays music – classical, jazz, ragtime, Christmas carols which we learn to sing (or approximately so) in languages ranging from English and Spanish to German and Latin and Hawai’ian.  As a child I went to local pubs to hear folksingers and Irish musicians, enjoying a bowl of stew or pint of rootbeer and feeling very grown up because my rootbeer came in a real pint mug, until the owner announced that family hours were over and all underaged persons had to go home.  My brother’s first photography jobs, when he was in junior high, were in those pubs, taking publicity photos of the performers.
My mother also raised us with musical theatre.  A performer from a young age, she could sing and even when I didn’t know the musical itself, I knew the songs, even lesser ones such as “Buckle Down, Winsocki” which I thought was our local NFL team’s other theme song.  As I grew into a theatre rat on my own terms, safely backstage where I didn’t have to remember lines or wear makeup, directors found it odd that I knew the score to musicals but not the book, or script.  Scripts are not on the cast recordings.
I learned about pop in high school and about rock in college.  My mother hated that, calling rock music “noise” and “unmelodic” as if we were twenty years in the past.  I was surprised to find out recently that she liked the Beatles and ABBA.  OK, I’m also a little embarrassed about the ABBA part.  I inherited most of my father’s record collection – although I’m not sure he knows about it – which includes The Rolling Stones and the Who and Lynyrd Skynrd and sometimes I wonder if my mother would enjoy the folkie sounds of The Band.
I’ve sampled most other genres.  There are those with little more than a beat you can dance to; those you can whistle while you work; and the ones that require you to roll down the windows and crank the car stereo and peel out of the parking lot and hope for a long stretch of highway ahead.  I learned that sea shanties are perfect for calming a fussy baby, who luckily doesn’t care how badly you sing as long as you don’t hit too many clinkers.  I’ve looked at how music and art intersect, and music and science, and how people make music out of everything from volcanic eruption patterns to birds sitting on overhead wires.  Music took me abroad, as I accompanied a choir (my Spanish language and herding skills more valued than anything musical) to Argentina and New Zealand.
One of my friends, who is a movie reviewer, jokes about pocket orchestras that are responsible for music in movies when there is no other obvious source, especially when a character seems to have a leit motif.  If you know Anna Russell’s summary of theRing Cycle, she translates that as “signature tune.”  I sometimes wish I had a pocket orchestra, so I don’t have to change a CD, jump over a track, or change radio stations when ads come on.  My pocket orchestra would know my moods and when to change from one genre to another, or would surprise me by following Chumbawumba and Bruce Springsteen with Ravel or Scott Joplin as my brain sometimes does when I am roller skating as a way of blowing some carbon off the plugs when my brain needs a rest.  Music rests my brain.  And music charges my heart, giving me energy, hope, joy.  “Pictures at an Exhibition,” “Yfory”, “Oye Como Va,” “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Young”.  I can’t play a Chopin etude, but I can make one my ringtone.
Some of my family members play or sing professionally, others only for the pleasure of family and friends.  I will always appreciate my aunt, who performed with symphonies and opera house orchestras around the world, assuring me many years ago that audience members are essential to the musicians’ life and my inability to create music of my own was no mar on my personality.  So I’ll happily stay in the audience, appreciate the music, buy CDs, support the musicians, and try to keep my volume down when I cannot help singing along.

Testing - testing - checking in

So much for my resolution to keep up the blog!  I kept thinking that I needed to write up what I was doing in June, and then I got busy doing it, or something else, and never got around to writeups.  Now it's the second half of July, and it's been two months since I wrote.  I'll try to do a bit of catching-up.

I've been a bit better about doing new things, though.  I cannot talk about the May one as it's in progress and not ready for public consumption.  June was a mixture and more of taking things I had done in the past into new directions.  My favourite thing in June was a road trip I took to Dallas, Missouri, and Kansas.  Well, I flew to Dallas, then between Dallas and Kansas City, but I put a lot of mileage onto rental cars in between.

My new July thing would be a bad fall off a bike, but I recovered (still a bit scabby) and went on the Real Ride, which was my first long bike ride that I can remember.  I did not do particularly well, definitely at the end of the pack most of the time, but I had fun and did not fail.  I walked in a few places, but rode at the end, completing the whole course.  And I turned out to be a photo op because to joke at myself and the fall I had taken, I built a costume of pool inflatables and pool noodles (complete with roll bars) and had a light-up warning sign on the back:
As you can see, I became a photo opportunity.
It was too awkward to ride in the costume, but I took the sign and attached it to my backpack so I could wear it, especially as the bike had no lights.  After the ride I promptly donated the bike I was using to a local Free Bike project, where they will work on the bike to make it more rideable (it was secondhand and not in as great shape as I'd been assured at the bike shop), and they said they would give me a credit against a bike that comes in and doesn't meet their standards for the ones in their system.  The organizers try to keep a certain type of bike on the road, but they accept almost anything and trade or sell the others.

Since then I've been on a ride around Hartford as part of the Colt 200 activities, and that was a lot of fun. By that time I was on a Schwinn, and even though it's a bit small I've decided I love Schwinns.  Well, I've always loved Schwinns.  Maybe it's a mental thing, but when I decided I needed to get a bike, a friend let me ride on a Schwinn Hollywood and I fell in love.  I wasn't sure about buying it, and then he sold it to someone else.  [Insert sad face here.]  I fell off a Raleigh that I had on loan, and the secondhand one is a Jamis, and a bike shop tried to get me to buy a Trek that just felt uncomfortably big to me (I think it has to do with the handlebars), and the one I have now is another Schwinn and despite the size (20") I am happy again.

Another new thing for July - going up into the cupola of the Colt Armory, on one of the Colt 200 tours:
I was on the tour with my friend Rayah and her friends the Berriens.
You can see what the armory looks like in this area - dicey.

Because it is in one of the less-well-kept areas of the complex, you can't just wander in, and tours are rare.

Views up there are great.  That's the Connecticut River behind me.  In 1854 it flooded, including the then-present factory, so Sam Colt built a series of dikes to hold back the water in the future to protect his equipment.  You can see a panorama of the flood at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the panel with the Colt factory includes a tiny rowboat with people in it who are factory workers being rescued.

18 May 2014

Four sweaters in two weeks

The timeperiod wasn't that short overall, but some serious procrastinating made it seem so.  I had two sweaters partially done, but the prospect of finishing all four in time was daunting.

Why did I have such a deadline?  There is a group called Mittens for Akkol that makes warm items for the children in orphanages from which a number of the women have adopted children.  The orphanages are in Kazahkstan, so it gets COLD there.  I have posted about knitting for this group before, and this year thought it would be easy to get four sweaters done and I could do some extra items.

Then I went overseas for a couple of weeks and wanted to take something smaller and more meaningful to work on whilst traveling (ditto DFW Fiber Fest, mostly a small item so that I could save space in luggage for yarn, of course!), and came back straight into a very intense play rehearsal and performance schedule, on top of which I was involved in a couple other events, such as SWAN DAY for which I wanted to make a number of items to sell (I sold one, which made me think it wasn't worth the time but others sold zero,and they will go into my Etsy shop), including helping to build the set items for Trashion Fashion 2014 which involved a couple near-allnighters.  The stuff looked really cool in the end.  But that brought me to midmonth and not much further ahead - two sweaters half-done.

It was clear that the only way I could get these done by the beginning-of-May deadline, although friends will tell you I am a fast knitter (one emailed that when I mentioned using a machine, he thought I was referring to the fact that I can knit without paying attention - plain knitting, anyway), was to pull out a knitting machine.  Mine is an older model and I used it last year when asked at almost the last minute whether I could do a replacement sweater for one that was promised and not made.  Which I did.

Could I do two, plus finish the ones that required handwork, and get them to Nanci before she travels so they can be packed, without having to take time off work and being able to get some sleep?

Apparently, with the help of the machine, and not a lot of sleep - yes.

Sweater for Dima - machine knit
Sweater for Sasha - hand-knit
Sweater for Ramil - machine knit
Sweater for Vlad - crocheted body
I waited to post until I was sure the second box arrived.  Forty minutes earlier and I would have sent it by Priority Mail, but I had to use UPS, which is slightly more trustworthy but cost about twice as much.  Oh, well, part of the penalty I paid for not working on these more diligently earlier.

As I said, to get the sweaters done, I did two on the machine. And I ended up doing the tweed sleeves on the machine - body crocheted, so I didn't need to put ribbing on the hem, with handknit ribbing on the sleeves and neckline.  Out of curiosity, I timed the making of the last sweater.  Here's how it went:

First, set up the machine.  I have five balls of black worsted-weight wool and three of light grey (Patons Classic Wool), plus a large ball of multicoloured cotton that is the waste yarn.  I used all five of the black wool and a bit less than two of the light grey.  The teens get to choose up to three colours for the items (sweater, hat, scarf, mittens, and two pairs of socks) they receive, and all four boys asked for black/white/light grey items.  Apologies that some of the colour levels are weird - black is a difficult colour to photograph, especially at night with limited indoor lights.
Ready to start.

Setting up for 96 stitches across.
Ready-to-knit, first with cotton waste yarn.
Changing to the black wool - and error!
You start by setting up the machine for a certain number of stitches per row - 96 in this case, because Ramil is a large guy.Chest 38.5" and neck-to-waist (so sweater has to be longer) is 26".

A few rows of the waste yarn, then I switched to the wool.  Every so often I had stitches "pop" as shown in the picture on the right, and I had to fix those manually or get holes in the knitting - or worse, it fell off the machine entirely!

It took me about 1h30 to knit the back and 1hr50 to do the front - I think I was more tired and not as careful about getting the tension correctly, as I had more manual repairs to do.  The back has about 16,320 stitches in it and the front about 14,400 because you shape the shoulders to allow for the collar to fit better.  I did this part - shaping and adding the collar after sewing the shoulders together - I did the manual knitting in about 2h30.
Taking the piece off the machine.

Shoulders and collar done by hand.
Next the sleeves get added.  Instead of waste yarn, you do the pickup directly into the sides of the sweater body.  This means rolling up the body around the weight - and re-rolling it when the sleeve gets long enough to reach the floor.  The sides are rectangles but the sleeves are more triangular, every few rows I decreased a stitch on each side.

Getting ready to knit the sleeve.

FUBAR!  Remember what I said about
dropping stitches?  FROG TIME.
The righthand picture shows what happened to the first sleeve.  I didn't check when I knit the first row, and as you can see a number of stitches were dropped, then picked up about two rows later.  Of course I frogged this (after using some of my extensive and multilingual vocabulary of bad words) and restarted it.  Later.

The sleeves took about 2h15 total, not counting the restart due to the holes.  So total machine knitting time was a little under six hours - more, of course, if you count the re-doing.

Going on a needle to handknit ribbing.
I matched stripes pretty well.
Once that was done, all I needed to do was sew the side seams and add the ribbing for cuffs and at the bottom of the sweater.  I was a big chuffed that I did such a neat job matching stripes, as seaming is NOT something I enjoy and one reason I tend to knit sweaters (such as Sasha's) in the round.  His is the icelandic-style (round yoke) one, with ridges of white alpaca separating the grey/black tweed from the black main body, and done at a somewhat chunky gauge for speed.  The final sewing-together and ribbing was another 2.5-3 hours, so the handknitting, although much less in terms of number of stitches, took as long as or longer than the machine knitting.

By the way, the stripes on Dima's and Ramil's sweaters are not just to make them more interesting.  They helped me to count how many rows were done so that I knew how many more to go for the length needed. I didn't want the sweaters to look exactly alike so I gave them different stripe patterns.

It felt very funny when these were all gone, and I didn't have knitting sitting right next to me.  I'd put all the in-progress projects away so I would not be distracted.  Time to get them out - you'd think I'd want some time without yarn in my hands, but it doesn't feel like me!

22 April 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Things I Like To Do Outside

My friend Mary Kay periodically posts her lists, and every so often I am inclined to as well.  This is actually from last week, but I didn't see it then and last week wasn't very good for outdoors (due to us getting a snowstorm, yes, in mid-April), so since Carole is on vacation this week thus did not post a new list, I think it is OK for me to use this theme.  My blog, my rules.

Ten Things I Like To Do Outside

  1. Hike
  2. Concerts
  3. Sailing, canoeing, and other boating
  4. Reading
  5. Movies (drive-ins, in the park, someone's back yard)
  6. Baseball
  7. Fair rides (essential part of going to a fair, like fried food)
  8. Ziplines and flying squirrels
  9. Picnics and cookouts
  10. Knitting, crocheting, and suchlike

OK, some of these are things you can ONLY do outside.  And you can add to that list things like flying kites (I am thinking of running some workshops and possibly hosting a kite-flying contest at the Hartford Makerspace this summer), riding horses, climbing trees, and so forth.  There are other things, like swimming, that I couldn't figure out how to fit onto the list but I'll do them inside or outside - like reading, knitting, crocheting, concerts, .....

Some of these I have not done in much too long.  I think I'll be glad I am not stage managing a show this summer!

I'll add another photo from Sunday's hike, just because I can:

21 April 2014

Taking a Hike after Doing Art

I've been a bit overwhelmed lately, mostly because I have over-committed myself.  I was stage managing a play, which included having to provide transportation to two of the actresses and creating props, and a friend was creating the set for this year's Trashion Fashion event, and I wanted to help her.  Well, I like doing art, even though I'm not creative, I do have good construction skills and can follow directions.  Months ago I volunteered to knit four wool sweaters for the Motherless Child Foundation Mittens for Akkol collection, but I put my yarny time to making things to sell at SWAN DAY CT 2014, at which I sold a grand total of one hat.  Even with the extended winter we've had, April wasn't a good time to sell warm things.

This was all after work hours, or sometimes between work hours as March is the end of our fiscal year and we had some heavy deadlines that took up enough hours for two jobs.  In addition to my main responsibilities, I am covering for a colleague who suddenly went out on a Family Medical Leave, and was providing support for a new business bid.  My weeks were already well over forty hours, without the extracurricular activities!

So I am behind in the sweaters.  I should have been doing some catch-up on Sunday, and had planned to work up one on my knitting machine during the day.  But it was lovely weather.  Really lovely.  And although I'd stolen a few hours a couple weekends ago when the weather was truly nice, I haven't had breathing time of my own since the middle of March.  Every weekend was taken up, and of course weekdays were more than absorbed with work and the play - rehearsals, tech, performances.

Instead of meeting obligations, I went for a hike.

There are trails near me.  Really near, such as up the road a bit.  But in all the time I have lived here, I have not taken advantage of them.  Part of them is caution about hiking alone, part is laziness, part is that I always seem overwhelmed on good-weather days.  I decided that excuses were not going to cut it, and after studying maps to figure out the nearest trailhead, I packed a backpack (water, snacks, yarn and hook in case I decided to sit a while, camera) and headed out.

After a bit of getting lost and finally finding an entrance to the trail proper, I headed up the hill.  Up is easier when fresh, after all.  I hadn't planned to do anything in particular, just followed the path.  Taking pictures as I went, whenever something struck me.  Like all the little growing things:

Of course, with our long winter - including snow at the beginning of the week, there many dead things on view:
I found the bleached-white
leaves fascinating.

And most of the trees were playing it safe and remaining dormant, which gave some nice lace patterns against the sky:

Then I spotted blazes, and followed those.  I don't usually do tough bits when I am alone, but the verticals didn't look too tough, and the view was worth the small risk:

Advantage of hiking - bikes had to stay down there:

I also got to see a number of small waterfalls, and a pretty little bit of swamp:

It was tempting to sit and listen to the falls for a while, but I wanted to keep moving, as I wasn't sure how long the trail was or if I would end up doing parts of it again, or getting distracted by a different set of blazes (it's happened!).  I did record a few, here's a very small one.

I found this particular deadfall interesting, it brought to mind a line from a poem I learned in high school ~ "Lying together like lovers in kemmer":


One thing that disappointed me was all the trash along the road I walked to reach the trailhead.  Technically the road is also part of the trail, and parallels the trail which is inside a fence.  The next time I plan to take that road on the way home I will take gloves and two bags, one for trash and one for recycling.  It won't be a huge help, and it won't be permanent, but it will be something.  I picked up some small bits of trash on the trail, and two plastic beverage bottles (one water, one sports drink) and carried them out.  The water bottle might have been dropped, but the sports drink was clearly emptied and left - apparently whatever was in it went to the drinker's arm muscles more than his (or her) brain muscle.

These led to an interesting experience at the end.  I had to walk back of course, since I'd walked to the trail.  I ended up coming out at a different spot and headed up the road to the road off which I live.  I was carrying the trash and bottled, and figured I'd dump them at home, when I remembered a petrol station on the road.  I realized that even if it were closed, there would be a trashbin of some kind, and maybe recycling.

It happened to be open, and there was trashbins but no recycling.  So I opened my pack and dropped the garbage into the bin, then headed on my way again.

As I walked past a packky and bike shop further along the road, a station wagon pulled in ahead of me and the driver called to me.  I recognized him as someone I'd seen at the gas station, walking out of the building to his car as I headed to the trash.  He offered me a few dollars.  Confused, I asked why.

He seemed confused.  "I thought I saw you taking cans out of the trash back at the station.  I wanted to help."

How nice of him!  No, I explained with a smile, I'd picked up some trash on the trail while hiking and needed a place to dump it.  He smiled back at me.

"I just wanted to be sure you have a nice Easter," he explained.

"No worries!" I assured him, and thanked him for his kind intentions.  Then we wished each other well, and he pulled back onto the road, while I continued my walk home.

I'll add to this a new thing I did in April:  I abandoned art.  There is a group that focuses on doing Art Abandonment with the goal of "encourag[ing] random acts of art, left in various locations around the globe. The idea is that folks can make something and leave it for a lucky unsuspecting person to find. Artists can then post locations and photos of abandoned goodies…and finders can let everyone know that they are the lucky finder! O' sweet abandon!"  I'm not much of an artist, as I said above.  I can't draw (I've tried! I've tried to learn!) or paint (ditto!) but I can do structured things.  I plan to do some crocheted or knitted items later, but this weekend needed to do fast things.  So before I went on the hike, I made a few, with packaging I'd picked up earlier in the week.

The bead at left became my inspiration, it was so spring-evoking!  The packaging is easter-printed bags, which have a clear side through which the Art Abandonment tag shows.  The beaded items go into the carrot-shaped egg, which I thought is really cute, then into the plastic bag.

I abandoned two around the building where we did the play, and four others on the trail in places like these:

The weather is supposed stay good, so hopefully they will be found before rain, since I'm not completely confident about the water tightness of the packaging.  Maybe someone will think they are left over from Easter - and maybe some have been found and the Art Abandonment email hasn't been notified.  Every so often, the website posts emails from finders.  Even if I never hear about these, I'll keep abandoning art, just to make the world a little more fun and art-filled.  And even if my art isn't what people generally think of as "art", it will be decorative.  I posted some of the pictures, and several persons said that what I do is art, even if it's not painting - we all do different art.  That makes me feel better.

I'm working on another "new to me" thing that I'll report on later.  It's an all-month thing, and I suppose I should be posting as an ongoing event, but with everything else happening (see above), I've been doing it in spurts and catch-ups and may not be fully done until May.

15 April 2014

Giving it up for Easter & Passover

I don't make a big deal of religion.  I think it is a personal decision for each person, no matter how you are raised, and in some ways I consider what people call "spirituality" to be more important than formal religion.  To quote Abraham Lincoln:  "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion."

That said, organized religion can provide one with a community and support group, which I have found important when moving to places where I know nobody, or almost nobody.  It's the main reason I joined congregations when I moved to the Dallas area and then to Hartford.  However, while most people identify me as Jewish, I don't exclusively follow that religion, and when in Dallas I ended up spending more time at a friend's church - which has a stronger social justice streak then the synagogue I joined, and those who know me know how important that is to me - plus interesting adult learning and a really nice pastor.  I haven't found a church I like as well here, so I just participate in the Jewish community, at both the Reform congregation I consider my main home, and a friend's Orthodox congregation, as well as organizer of some of our community events.

It might inform you to know that in addition to being raised with Christian influences (my mother went to Jewish Sunday school, Catholic mass, and a Chicago Bears game every Sunday during the season, so those are the three religions primarily acknowledged in my family) including the Jesuits from whom my mother received one of her degrees and among whom she taught for a couple decades, I had three sets of godparents, none of whom are Jewish - one each of Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Methodist.  My parents chose based upon who would raise us the way they would want us to be raised, which included continuing education and to be good people.  My parents don't see this being limited to one religion.

This explanation is important because every year I give up something for Lent.  I try to make it different every year.  One year it was cookies, which is tough because this is Girl Scout Cooky season.  Another year it was candy, tough because I tend to have some always at hand as a nervous thing (I substituted almonds); another year, it was crackers that I have in my desk for a similar purpose.  And so forth.

This year, I couldn't think of what to give up, and then realized I was almost out of bread, so I decided to give up that.  Also no related baked goods.  This makes it tough at my weekly morning bible study, which usually offers bagels or bread of some kind, with spreads.  (I always take the Passover date, and bring in a noodle kugel made with Passover noodles, which people seem to love because it's not the expected matzoh with spreads.)  It's harder for me because so often when busy I grab a sandwich, and this year I have been quite busy with a play and other activities.  I've eaten a lot of nut/fruit bars and yoghurt!

I did get asked by someone why I gave up bread when you're supposed to give up meat. Part of the reason is that I don't eat a lot of meat on a day-to-day basis, so it wouldn't be a real sacrifice to me.  The reason I do this is almost as a test of myself, to see if I can follow through for the full forty days.  I know some people who take the money they would spend on whatever they give up and give it to charity, and I don't do that (I did give all my Girl Scout Cookies to the troops that year, instead of buying any for myself - usually I do that for most of my order and just get a couple boxes for me), but I do like the mindfulness of having to remember "no, I don't; no, I can't."  It also helps to think about people who have to avoid certain foods all the time, or who don't have certain foods available to them for various reasons.

Now it is Passover, on top of Lent.  This means, if you want to be really observant in the Ashkenazic (Eastern European Jewish) sense, no beans or rice or other whole grains. (Sephardic Jews, from the Mediterranean, can eat them because it's the majority of their diet and their rabbis said it's OK.)  I've heard two reasons for this:  One, that because they swell when cooking, they look leavened, which is forbidden at Passover; and two, because they might have been stored in a warehouse with forbidden items and gotten contaminated. I think the latter is the reason that some won't eat peanut butter - the peanuts might have been in a warehouse with flour.  Since peanut butter didn't exist in 19th-Century Easter Europe, maybe it's just too foreign to their way of observance?

I had a friend who, when I mentioned giving up bread for Lent, asked how I expect to perform the required Passover Seder observances with matzoh?  I said that the small amount required for the ceremonials would be OK to me (to borrow from George Carlin, "my observance, my rules") but I wouldn't eat matzoh otherwise until Easter.  I've done something similar a few years ago, when I had an abscess in my jaw and major surgery with bone grafting just before Passover, and wasn't allowed anything crunchy or crumby.  There are a LOT of ways to cook potatoes, believe me!

These few overlapping days will be tough because often I would eat matzoh for meals when I would usually have rice, or pasta, or cereal.  Not possible until Sunday.  My diet is more limited, but in a way this frees me to be creative with what I do allow myself.  And those who know me know how much I love a cooking challenge!  Luckily I also love fruits and veggies, and I am not obsessive about eating only kosher-for-Passover items.  As long as it doesn't contain the forbidden items - grains, beans, rice - and nothing treyf (pork, shellfish, meat with dairy - I'll eat them the rest of the year, but not during Passover or the High Holy Days) I'm OK to eat it.  My meals may include some less-standard items, such as roasted squash (olive oil, slivered onion, and sage) for breakfast, but there's nothing wrong with that.  Think outside the cereal box.

I've dealt with this conjunction many times in the past.  The most interesting was the time I was asked to cook a meal for a group in Oklahoma, about 100 persons, with a medieval theme.  I knew that even if there were not observant Catholics in the group, some would be very observant as part of the character they played.  So I developed a multi-course meal that included Lent-appropriate vegetarian and vegan items; plenty of meat; and not many baked goods.  We ended up with very little leftover, other than the chicken liver pate that was on the first course platters (silly people!), salad (although all the rainbow assortment of Peeps® bunnies and chicks I'd used to decorate it did manage to vanish), and some of the lamb stew that was the third course.  I actually heard that people were surprised to see multiple meat courses come out given the ticket price, meaning they had not read the menus I'd placed at the tables.  I shopped well and can plan well, which is why the lamb was the third course instead of appearing earlier, so that people were stuffed with chicken cooked with grapes and herbs, and beef brisket with dried fruit and root vegetables, and didn't need to eat as much of it.  Dessert was strawberries with optional almond cream - edible by everybody except those with nut allergies, who had to make do with plain strawberries.  Awww.

I just saw strawberries on sale at the grocery, come to think of it.  As is asparagus, so there will definitely be an omelet or souffle on my menu this week, possibly on Saturday.  Yum!

02 April 2014

Three things for March

I tried to get a post up at the end of March, but the laptop I have been using was not cooperative.  I'll add it in a few days, and then complete a link.  This is just a quick post to tell you the three new things I did in March - as you can see, I'm still working on the "update the blog more often" part of my resolutions.  Still, this has been done more often than in 2013.

The new things I did in March were small:
  • March (really, dance) in a Mardi Gras parade.
  • Go dancing at a local club - really, I cannot remember ever dancing at a club, so even though I have gone out dancing many a time, I count this.  They have a monthly "Zodiac Night" and someone I've met recently teased me into going, and I'm glad I went.
  • Hands-on for silk from cocoon to knitting.
I did have fun with the Mawata class, which was at DFW Fiber Fest.  I got to spend one day in classes and one day shopping and visiting with friends, and then had to come home for the start of tech week.  They yarnbombed the convention centre, here are a few of my favourite pictures:
This one is my absolute favourite.

I want the pattern - and to know what yarn she used!

Someone made a LOT of these butterflies!

More pictures when I write about my adventures.