Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Renaissance art?

This pencil portrait was based on a photograph taken in the last few years in the United States to show the sweater the subject was wearing--her very first knitted project.

I tried doing it in colour, but so far the only decent one I've been able to produce is this one, in black and white. Some of us are just better at black and white!



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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ever wonder what volume of unspun wool it takes to spin 200 g of yarn? I wondered--so I decided to check it out. I weighed one of my finished skeins of homespun, then started carding the washed Tunis fleece I've been spinning from and piled up rolags on the scale...and more rolags...and more... (a rolag being a soft tube of wool, the product of brushing a lock of washed or unwashed fleece with wooden "cards" set with bent metal teeth--something like dog brushes--until the fibers are straightened out, then rolling it up).

Unfortunately, it was hard piling even half that amount on the styrofoam carry-out box which I eventually substituted for the little plastic tray on my kitchen scale. This is 100 g of carded rolags:
One rolag is roughly 4 g of wool. They can't all be the same size, though, because if they were, that 100 g of wool would have 25 rolags in it. It actually has 28.

I will need 2 of these mountains of rolags to fill my spinning-wheel bobbin once.

So now you know!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My new desk

As of the week after Christmas I have a real desk. In the living room. On the table that held our 4-ft. tall Christmas tree this year. It is now My Desk. It has wire shelves on top of it, against the wall, to hold things such as stationery, reference books, and writing tools.

My Desk is awesome. Much work with words goes on there--mostly letter-writing, reading, journaling, and the keeping of authorised loose notes such as grocery, menu, and to-do lists. I often check and update my Events calendar at My Desk. Other things happen there too (such as prayer, small sewing and knitting jobs, and occasionally even a bit of sleeping).

I might not know till next November (well...April, for Script Frenzy) whether any "real" writing will happen at My Desk--anything that doesn't have to do with money, food, the immediate furthering of personal relationships, or the organising of time and priorities--but it is a great place to hang out. I find myself gravitating there and taking a deep, slow breath as I sit down. I am tempted to eat meals at My Desk but have resisted the urge on all but the most appropriate occasions.

I have firmly resisted all efforts on the part of family members to colonise My Desk with their own belongings. It's not that I blame them for catching a glimpse of an empty horizontal surface as they hurtle past on their way to more interesting parts of the house, and thinking it would be a good place to deposit whatever books, papers and tools are burdening them at the moment. I sympathise; I myself often search the house for an empty horizontal surface on which to set something I don't need at the moment. But they may not use My Desk!

This is the first Desk I have ever successfully used for any appreciable length of time, without seeing it become a depository for my own miscellaneous paraphernalia. My first memory of hearing the word "paraphernalia" was, now that I think of it, when I was about 10 years old and a student teacher applied it to the collection of useful or at least interesting items that was stored on top of my fourth-grade classroom desk and left me little room for doing schoolwork, and until now any Desk I have attempted to set up and use has invariably become just another failed storage system rather than a functional working surface. Perhaps I have finally grown up enough to be able to have a Desk. Perhaps something has, finally, changed.

Either way, it's a nice place to be.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 is just like 2011, only the numbers are different

So who was it who decided that it's a big deal when the numbers change to the next year? Today has been pretty much like yesterday so far, except no big party in the evening, and that's OK; one big party per weekend (year) is fairly close to being enough.

The New Year is shaping up to be relatively busy so far. I have some orders for art carried over from 2011 (last week) and am looking toward two art shows in the next couple of months, revising and editing my 2009 and 2011 NaNoWriMo novels into one seamless story, getting my studio sorted and cleaned so it can double as a guest room (possibly as soon as mid-February), and just generally keeping up with things.

Being busy is not, in itself, a bad thing. As long as one takes time to be quiet and reflective and to continue to have conversations with those one loves, being busy is not necessarily the same as being stressed out.

Note to self: remember these things in 2012.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hand-worked outfit for 18" doll



The doll is Gotz "Precious Days" Alicia.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The King and Queen Game

This exciting novel, written (rough draft only) in November 2010 during National Novel Writing Month and edited throughout at least half of 2011, is now available online for your reading pleasure.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Real or staged mess?


Checking one of my email accounts today, I saw a link to this video. I've had a few children of my own, and have cleaned up some spectacular disasters in my time, so I decided to "waste" several minutes watching the film.

Just for clarification, the story behind the movie is as follows. A young mother, Mary Napoli of some city in Michigan, emerged from the bathroom the other day, having been absent from her two toddlers' immediate presence for no more than 5 minutes (she had not been feeling well) to discover the little boys, aged 1 and 3, happily playing in 5 lb. of flour they had just finishing dumping all over the living room. She filmed the scene of the crime and then posted it on YouTube.

It was intriguing  how many people commenting on this video insisted that there was NO way two children as young as this could make this kind of a mess on their own. I'd say the overwhelming majority used the words "fake" or "staged."

A second and slightly smaller contingent, allowing grudgingly that kids could be pretty awful sometimes, chose to let fly at the mother's parenting skills for having failed to prevent them from doing so.

An even smaller group criticised her for not swearing at and then punishing the kids before (or instead of) filming them as they finished gleefully distributing the flour around the room and proceeded to wallow in it. To them, this either proved that the movie was staged (what real-life mother would NOT swear at her children and whale the tar out of them, faced with such an appalling mess?) or gave incriminating evidence that she was an ineffectual parent (see paragraph above.)

Those who took a more moderate view, saying things such as, "I believe it; I can remember my own mother acting exactly like this," or "You wanna hear my story of what MY kids did one day??" were the smallest group of all. My guess is that they could easily be counted on the fingers of one hand. Or, possibly, two. And that probably includes the comments I posted myself.

Summing it up, the conclusion of the majority seems to be that, obviously, the video is a fake; the mother is a publicity-seeking idiot who trashed her own living room and made her
innocent toddlers look like the culprits, in order to get worldwide attention. As one person observed, "i guess these days people will use their kids for almost anything to receive attention or their 15 seconds of fame. Pathatic." (sic)

(The above quote is taken directly from the Yahoo! page. Just for the record: the following "quotes" are not cut and pasted verbatim, but have been combined from a good many comments in the same vein. If you want to read the actual comments, you're welcome to visit the YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1noY1NTiF0 or the Yahoo! page: http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/video--boys-dump-flour-all-over-house-in-an-unusually-uniformly-messy-way.html)

The "bad parenting" comments were particularly revealing. According to her admiring public, the occurrence of such a disaster indicates this mom was either too permissive with her kids ("My dad would have beat me black and blue if I'd tried a stunt like this!"--hopefully a severe or perhaps a humorous exaggeration) or criminally negligent ("She's a terrible mother if she left them alone long enough for them to make this kind of a mess!"--translation: "good" moms never use the bathroom during their children's waking hours, even when ill, unless they chain the kids to their high chairs first.) However, if a poll were taken, it would show that most people simply dismiss this video as having been staged by the mother.

Well...whether or not this was "staged"--and I will admit, it could have been staged--I have no problem believing such a thing could also, in fact, actually happen. I've known enough kids over the years to have heard some hair-raisingly similar stories.

To those who said, "Obviously staged--she sounds so phony, just repeating the same phrase in a monotone over and over"--well, she sounds pretty realistic to me. She's not a bad mother, or even a bad actor. To me, she sounds like a woman in shock.  Not every woman screams, yells and becomes violent when faced with the kind of mess the nicest kids can get into in those few minutes when your back is turned. Sometimes when it's really horrible you just get really, really quiet......
The flour on the walls and pictures could have drifted there from the way the kids were tossing that bag around. Comments stated that, among other things, there was no way there could have been flour on the picture frames and the molding over the door, from children that small. Here's another criticism: "The flour is so uniformly spread around the room--obviously the mom herself did it just for the video." (In which case the mother is not just publicity-hungry--she's crazy. Have you ever tried to clean up flour that has been rubbed into upholstery?) Followed by, "Hey! Look! She missed the back of the rocking chair! HA!" I can imagine these kids were enchanted by the effect they were getting, and scattered it as far as possible. It's what I--er, I mean, lots of kids--would have done, at that age. 
And no, maybe the kids didn't realise right away what big trouble they were in. ("Kids know when they've been bad, and freak out when Mom catches them at it; these kids are perfectly calm.") However, if you listen, you can hear it beginning to register..."What's the matter, Mommy?...What's the matter?..." They were having LOTS of fun before she walked in, but they are beginning to pick up from her reaction that All Is Not Well. Doesn't anyone remember what it was like, being a kid, doing something awful and not realising till it's, well, just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit too late that you have really pulled a bad one?
Others said it was unlikely that any adult would simply walk around filming the mess before punishing the kids and getting it all cleaned up as fast as possible. Try this scenario instead: Mom opened the door, took a few steps, saw what was going on, and realised she had a decision to make:
a) She could scream, yell, confine the kids behind a baby gate in the bedroom or somewhere (maybe at a neighbour's house would be better, now that I think of it―or, let’s see, how far away does Grandma live, and would she keep the little darlings overnight?) and clean everything up, and then have people say to her, "There's no way it could have been that bad. My, you do make up some amazing stories!" All she would have is the memory of that day.
b) Or, being a young mother of the 21st century with access to the latest technology, she could put her emotions on hold for a minute or two longer (hey, the bag is almost empty, the damage has been done...) and then calmly fetch her camcorder or her cell phone, retrace her steps to the bathroom door, push the button and start walking. Showing the world just what SHE saw at that first moment. Carefully going around the whole room filming, leaving out no detail--not the flour splashed on the lampshade, not the sprinkles on the framed pictures, not the kids joyfully making patterns in the flour with their hands or emptying the last of the bag over their heads. I'll bet she wasn't even aware that she was moaning "Oh. My gosh. Oh, my gosh..." over and over again. But somewhere deep inside all that shock, she still had a sense of humour. Already she was laying plans for what she would do AFTER she filmed it all (and then screamed, yelled, confined the kids outside the disaster area--I suggest that depending on her assessment of the level of their accountability, there might also be some disciplinary procedures at this point-- and, finally, cleaned everything up.)
"First I'll show it to Daddy when he gets home. Then, I'll email it to Grandma. After that, I'll post it for everyone else I know on Facebook. And then, fifteen or twenty years from now--the kids probably won't even remember this day!--I'll get it out and share it at their graduations...wait, how about their weddings?"
I wish she lived in my neighbourhood. I'd like to get to know her as she raises those little boys. She has a sense of humour, AND she keeps her temper in desperate circumstances. Modern technology aside, this is just the way many of the best of mothers have behaved through the ages. There is yet hope for the younger generation. You go, girl!
Meanwhile, she has posted the day of her disaster on the Internet so others could get a kick out of it, and everyone is saying "There's no way it could have been that bad. My, you do make up some amazing stories." Ha ha.