Saturday, November 18, 2017

Monday, June 29, 2015

The obligatory post

This is Hazel Robinson.

Who is Hazel Robinson? Well, if you live near Asheville NC and have ever trekked over to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre in the past 35 years or so to see the Montford Park Players performing Shakespeare in the Park, you, like me, may have wondered who this Hazel Robinson was. I had always imagined her as a wealthy, intellectually snobbish and probably deceased benefactress whose interest in the arts had led her to include in her will the bequeathing of a sizeable portion of her considerable financial assets to have an amphitheatre built just outside Asheville for the performing of Shakespeare. Unless, of course, she never really existed. She might have been legendary. Or she might have been someone's auntie who loved Shakespeare and would have loved to watch regular performances thereof, had she lived to see the establishment of a free outdoor theatre in her neighbourhood.

We went to our favourite nearly-local Shakespeare in the Park amphitheatre a week ago to participate in the Montford Midsummer Faire...a kind of mini-Renaissance fair held on June 20, at which various vendors represented the SCA. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was performed in the amphitheatre that evening and we were able to stay to watch that too. A chat with one of the actors (also a member of the Montford Park town council) revealed that not only was there a real Hazel Robinson, but there IS a real Hazel Robinson. Not only that, but she still lives just a few blocks from "her" amphitheatre. And to top it all off, she was going to be coming to the Midsummer Faire that very day.

What a treat it was to invite Mrs. Robinson to sit down in one of my folding rockers and share with us the vision she had in the early 1970s for the future of Asheville's community theatre, and how it led eventually to the rearranging of a small local venue (the original Montford Park--yes, there really is one of those, too) for the performing of Shakespeare for the public at no charge, and, some ten years later, to the building of the amphitheatre nearby which bears her name.

Hoping to eventually post the notes my husband and I took during our conversation with this very interesting lady. If you live within driving distance of Asheville and it's between May and September as you read this, check out for a list of plays being performed this summer. All performances in the Amphitheatre are free (actors in costume pass the hat during intermission--contributions strictly voluntary). There are concessions available onsite. There are nice washrooms. Parking can be a bit difficult on the more popular evenings, so come early...the show starts at 7:30 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so try to make it before 7 pm for a better chance at finding a spot. The setting is relaxed and informal, and you are welcome to bring your own picnic supper/snacks, some comfortable folding chairs and blankets or whatever you prefer to sit on, and a nice portable crib for the baby to fall asleep in, should you have one (a baby or a portable crib). We've been going to see these productions for maybe 8 years and have only been actually rained out twice, although of course this is a possibility...and we were also told last week that some money was recently donated to the Amphitheatre for the building of a "visitor centre" which will have large CCTV screens and space for rained-out audience members to view the rest of the play in peace and relative dryness. What about the actors, you say? Well, the money is slated to put a roof over their stage, as well.

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!


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.