Sunday, May 19, 2019

Can you see me now?

Here's my latest CBC article:
Can you see me now? Time to stop judging each other and value middle-age women
(Note: This ridiculous photo from the article is it's exactly how I don't want to look!)
Also? Happy May Long Weekend, Canadians!  We're getting in a lot of dog walks and play time...but it's definitely not warm enough yet to plant a garden in Winnipeg or anything crazy like that.  Maybe in June...

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Taking care

The last few weeks have been frenetic around here.  Since before Passover, a month ago, I have been super busy--first with all the household preparations, as my husband, the professor, was out of town before the holiday, and then afterwards, with catching up on all the work that seemed to fall between the cracks.  I've been doing some editing, writing, and even some designing. 
Then, the news (shootings, floods, wars) has been fairly daunting, too--and after a while, a person feels run down.  My piece last week for the Vancouver paper, The Jewish Independent, as about this issue and how to do a little self-care in order to cope.  It's called Staying calm amid bad news.
One thing that kept me busy was getting ready to teach a handspinning class in our local fibre arts community.  I both love teaching and feel a bit out of practice...I started my career teaching full time, but now work almost entirely by myself.  That transition from 'extrovert' job to an introverted lifestyle has meant that sometimes I have to really psych myself up and prepare to do a teaching job.  I still love doing it, but I don't get to do it as often now.  
On Mother's Day, I joined five women who seemed as determined as I was to take time to enjoy themselves and learn something new--and the break did us all good!  
This first photo is of the bags of samples I created for the class: eight different kinds of silk, mohair and alpaca, all weighed and measured in a cheerful and reusable bag in spring time patterns, complete with lists of where to buy resources and more.  I also brought along my books to share for those who were interested in a signed copy.  
These days, many of my students seem surprised to hear that I did actually write books on these topics!  (Alas, although they are still for sale, fame is so fleeting!)  If you missed your chance to take a class on Mother's Day, you can, of course, always order the books online.  Here's a link to Fiber Gathering and Knit Green for good measure...If you live locally, I can also sign your books if you're interested.  (If you live far away, postage may be prohibitive.) 
Meanwhile, back at our household, the Professor and my twins did piano lessons, grocery shopping, and playing with our dogs on their own...and surprised me with flowers and a sushi dinner as a treat.  Sometimes a break from routine, some learning, and some time spent doing something you love... is a good thing! 

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Friday, May 03, 2019

Goats and vulnerability

Here is my latest article from the Jewish Independent.  It's called:

Goats out in the wilderness
I wrote it just before the synagogue shooting in Poway, but with only a couple of edits, it was sadly still relevant.  It's about people, goats like Azazel --and vulnerability.

The piece surprisingly, owes a lot to the research I did for Fiber Gathering, where I met a lot of goatherds, fibre goats, and learned a lot about how they raised them.

The first two photos here are from Crete, where people raise many goats in somewhat free range conditions.  At bottom, there's a photo of me making friends with a goat at a festival.  My husband, the professor, caught me talking to the goat and took my photo...about 12 years ago now!

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

lead in the soil

If you've been reading my blog for a long, long time, you may remember this post back in 2006, where I mentioned lead contamination in our yard in Kentucky.  This is a snapshot of our yard, including my Professor husband, setting out the paths in our very 'fancy' lead remediation so we could have a garden.

Around this time, in March 2006, I'd written a long, detailed article explaining how to deal with this lead contamination issue and what it meant for safety.  I could not get anyone to buy it!  However, I tucked it away. For years it bugged me because I really did want people to know about these issues.

Sad to say, heavy metal contamination isn't's relevant to Winnipeg, too.  My article came out today on the CBC-Manitoba website:
Time to stop kicking the can down the road on lead levels in Winnipeg's soil

I'm hoping someone in power will read it.  There's somebody at the U. of Manitoba in the School of the Environment who has the right equipment to test lead. There's plenty of public interest and people want to fix this problem so school kids can play during recess.  If they must sample more, they could dig samples, cover the costs of running the tests at the U of M, and have the answers very quickly.  If they can't afford a real remediation team with diggers?  I bet if you gave concerned citizens a chance, well, we'd be out there with our shovels to start the digging and we'd wear masks to avoid ingesting it.  This is just an unacceptable thing, to keep children from playing on their school field and to leave for someone else to deal with later.

In other, happier topics:  The sun was shining for a moment and we caught photos of a new design today!  I am excited about beginning to write it up.  No big reveal yet, but it solves the problem of portable knitting for those on the go but who want to make sweaters.  Hint: It is knit in seven (totally portable) pieces. There is sewing up at the end, but I don't mind sewing, so it works out ok!

Last but not least--please don't forget:
the Pembina Fibreshed is sponsoring my Spinners' Tasting class--it's a chance to sample mohair, silk and alpaca (and maybe more...)!  It's on Mother's Day, in the afternoon.
  Please consider signing up if you're a spinner in Winnipeg!

I'll leave you with a photo from Fiber Gathering so you can think about camelids (alpacas and llamas are camelids!) while you rush to sign up!

Here's a cashmere buck (that's a boy goat!), for good measure....

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Busy week!-a class, and more

Yes, it's true!  I am teaching a spinning class in conjunction with the Pembina Fibreshed on Mother's day.  (Take yourself out and learn something new as a gift this year!)

Here's the info in case you'd like to sign up.  It's one of my "Spinner's Tasting" classes, only this one is non-wool fibres: Alpaca, Silk and Mohair.  You need to be a hand spinner to take this class--
Click here to learn more and sign up!  

Also in the news, today my piece on gender inequity ran on the CBC.  This ends my "drought," for which I'm grateful...apparently there were changes going on behind the scenes at my local CBC, but for months, nothing I wrote ran there.  -Also, maybe nothing I pitched suited them, but I kept trying about twice a month anyhow.  I've been writing as a freelancer for the CBC since about 2014.  This piece seems to be eliciting a lot of comment, which sometimes means: a) I hit a nerve or b) I'm wrong or c) not enough people are working today.  (Who knows which!? Everyone has an opinion though.)

Key to this is the idea that when powerful women speak up, sometimes folks don't want to hear it. (and even women in power have to prove their points without a doubt before being believed.) I've also seen that Canadians seem to value caucus unity more than the thorough or public airing of reasoned debate and the building of consensus among equals.  It illustrates the real differences in how Parliamentary democracies run..other countries don't worry nearly so much about party unity.  Some countries air all the political conflicts, others keep it behind closed doors at caucus meetings and insist on privacy or secrecy.  What's better for good government and transparency?

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Make & Hue's Tradition issue

My article, Made by Anonymous, has gone live in Sweet Georgia's Make & Hue Tradition issue!

Do you sign everything you make?  Put your initials in one corner?  Sew in a label?  Here's an exploration of the pros and cons....why we do what we do.  It's a quick survey of how women have historically labelled their needlework (or not) and how.

It's finally sunny and warmer here in Winnipeg today, so I'm off to walk dogs and bask in the sunshine's rays without a hat.  If you'd like to knit one of these mitts (it's never too early to get ready for winter in Canada...), here's a link to many of the mitten patterns featured in this photo.

Article spoiler: ...while I don't tend to label my knitwear, I am really proud of all the effort that goes into my design work/writing/intellectual property.  I'm a "sometimes anonymous, sometimes not" kinda person!

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Together on path to freedom-& cleaning

My piece on Passover and Reconciliation came out on the Jewish Independent's website on Friday.  Please read it! 
Together on path to freedom

On household topics:
So, I wanted to post a cheerful photo here or some knitting, but honestly, it is snowing here today, right around freezing, and very mucky. (we had bright sunshine and lots of playtime on the weekend though I forgot to shoot photos then.  Oops)  I could see nothing outside today that would be inspirational.  Inside, well, I have been very busy with kids and Passover/spring cleaning preparations.  Knitting opportunities have been limited.  With the springtime muck outside, it does feel like two steps forward, one step back.  Or in more specific terms, I clean up the muddy paw prints from the hallway, and then someone goes outside (kid or dog) and I have to do it all over again!

One thing that has helped?  OK, this is a little strange, but I'm just going with it.  A very small, portable vacuum.  I think ours looks most like the photo here, but here's a cheaper option, if you're shopping.  I believe ours is a Bissell. (Note, ours is a different color, but I am really not sure that matters in terms of function!) We have always had an old style, heavy duty Hoover which really works...but it is heavy and big.  This little stick vacuum doesn't clean up everything, but it sure has helped with the endless dog fluff and kid detritus that seems to accumulate.  Best yet, it is very lightweight and one of my twins likes to use it.

In the middle of this, we have quietly celebrated Sadie the dog's one year anniversary with us.  She has added such joy into our lives...along with a lot of muddy paws!

I'm not into cleaning as a rule, but it does has to be done to stay healthy and I feel calmer when things are not totally chaotic.  I'm making slow inroads into cleaning up at home, but the emphasis is on slow since I am fitting it around taking care of kids, dogs, and my work life.  I think the key is to get buy in from everyone in the family to help. (...and when the Professor is away for a work trip right before a holiday, it means everyone else needs to help.)  As soon as I figure out how to get the dogs to help out more, I'll be sure to let you know!

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