The State of Things

I'd like to just start this post out by pointing out the lovelies above. Have you ever seen such a lovely, colorful and fresh pile of wool in your life? I can't stop peeking into my fiber room to make sure this scene is still just as lovely as picture above.

I've had the house to myself since Wednesday. With the thought of having full control of the house for a few days came big plans to clean, put away, organize, dye wool, spin yarn, cook gourmet meals with seafood, watch the rest of Firefly, watch other things that the Sweet Boy isn't in love with, sleep in, and freshen this place up.

It is now Sunday afternoon and I've only managed to do the following - watch Firefly, dye wool, sleep in... and yeah, that's it. I am in the process of putting away piles of stuff and dusting so in another hour or so, I can add that to the list. Oh, and I opened the windows on the sunny side of the house. While it's a bit brisk outside, it is refreshing to get some fresh air in this place.

My biggest accomplishment today, and the reason I came here to blog, is the emptying of the last two boxes that have been hanging around since I moved here (in August of 2008). These boxes contained things that I wanted to put out, so they didn't belong in the basement. However, the things I wanted to put out weren't exactly important enough to uncover quickly. So they sat, they were moved around, they were hidden under a bed, they were pulled out, they were put back, and most importantly, they were ignored.

But I shall ignore them no more. They have been unpacked, books have been put away, pictures hung, and the boxes broken down. I feel like this might be my greatest accomplishment in a long time. I feel better knowing those boxes are no more. They were lurking and taunting me every time I laid eyes on them. You see, I've been a fairly neat and organized person since I was about 15. Clothes get put away as soon as I wash them, piles don't exist, and dishes always get cleaned. Well, that was the case until a few months ago.

Since August, things have piled up a bit. I've lost the drive to keep a neat and tidy space. I've not been interested in filing important papers. I've just been happy sitting in a state of equilibrium. All I can blame it on is the loss of my mom. While I haven't struggled with depression after that loss (trust me, I dealt with the grief for almost a year while watching my strong, independent mom rely on her children to take care of her), I have felt a bit apathetic towards many things. We all deal with things differently and I've dealt with it by being a bit messy. Maybe that's why going through the piles today has felt so good. In a way, I'm dealing with that loss. Perhaps Mom's been lurking, unseen, making me feel a bit guilty, albeit in a subtle way, about the messes. That would be just like her. She wasn't keen on messes.

Hopefully she doesn't go look at my flower garden, she'd be mortified. We'll discuss that later.


No, I didn't mean to break your heart...

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while (we're talking back when I had Ramblings of a Generic Female) know that I am a huge fan of Barenaked Ladies. Okay, okay - true, I'm a fan of quite a few groups and musicians, I won't deny that, but Barenaked Ladies is the band that I could go on a picnic with or shopping with or could skip across a field of wild flowers and end with all of us falling down, laughing uncontrollably and telling those "remember when" stories that so many of us are good at telling until the mosquitoes come out at night reminding us that it's time to go inside.

There is something personal, touchable, relatable about these guys. They reply to your comments on their fan pages, send you autographed CDs because you're worth it, and send you santa hats with the phrase "Barenaked for the Holidays" across the front because they are thinking of you that Christmas. In concert they connect with the audience by telling stories of their antics in town the night before. They always have a favorite place to eat in whatever town they are visiting and since you just ate dinner there the night before, it's almost as if you dined with Tyler, Ed, Jim and Kevin... right?

Okay, so perhaps all of that is a stretch (but they did send me a santa hat one year and I'm pretty sure they didn't send them to EVERYONE in their fan club... right? That hat was just for me... right?) but I can state that the Barenaked Ladies have probably provided the background music for every major milestone in my adult (and a year before my adult) life. Stunt provided the background music for early make out sessions in the car with that one boy (don't you judge me). Maroon got me through a couple of years in college and Pinch Me is still my fave BNL music video. And let's not forget that my mom went with me to see BNL when they toured after the release of Maroon - my mom was cool like that. Then Everything to Everyone came out right around the time the guy that I swore I was going to marry and grow old with dumped me. Other than that crazy chimpanzee song (not my favorite piece of theirs), I could almost match every song on that album to something in my life during that last semester of college.

With all of that said, I'm 98% certain that I could make a soundtrack to my life (well, the dramatic part of my life that started when I was about 17 years old) with only Barenaked Ladies songs. Hmmm... that actually sounds like a halfway interest project.

However, a little over a year ago, some tragic news fell upon my ears. One of their lead singers, Steven Page, would be leaving the band.



er, music life...

as I...


it had...


I was in shock. How could they do this to me? I mean, don't get me wrong, I adore the rest of the band, but I REALLY adored the band as a whole and as a whole included Steven Page. I even made a shirt for the last BNL concert I went to that said "I traveled XXXXX amount of miles to see Steven Dance" because I am that in love with him. How could he leave the band, how could he.

(go here, listen, and then tell me how you could NOT love that guy: Steven Page - "Break Your Heart")

I've mourned a bit over the past year (okay, I've mourned a lot - this was terrible news). And pretended to ignore whispers that they were doing a new album. I had decided that the band was dead to me. It ceased to exist without Steven Page. Then I accidentally stumbled upon a live video on an obscure Canadian bloggers site of their new song "You Run Away" (yes, I stumbled upon it on accident... it's not like I'm stalking them) and part of me woke up. Part of me started to bloom again. Could this new song really be that good? What was this feeling inside of me? Was it warmth? Was it possible to like, no love, this new some as much as I did after listening to it once?

(you can listen to it here... press play, you know you want to)

Yes, it was possible. I loved it. I love it still. Is it entirely possible that my life's soundtrack will continue in the fashion that it started, with the Barenaked Ladies leading the way? Yes, it is entirely possible and thank goodness because it was looking a bit rough otherwise.

Their new album comes out on March 30 (guess who's pre-ordered it) and I'm planning an entire trip to Austin entirely because they are performing there in May (and maybe because of the BBQ and Tex-Mex). I have my priorities, maybe you should find some too.

PS - any other BNL fans out there sing their Christmas version of "Deck the Halls" when you hear of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young? Yeah, me too.


Some say...

Some say that the difference between and rut and a grave is the depth. I heard this at work earlier this week and maybe I'm just not grasping it, but I'm left with a huge, cartoon question mark over my head when I think on this. Is saying that a rut is basically a grave suppose to motivate me to hoist myself out of the rut and find a new path? Is saying that suppose to make my rut feel full of doom? Is saying that making any sense to any of you?

Yeah, it didn't make sense to me either.

However, I will admit, I've been in a rut lately. A color rut. When buying wool, I tend to gravitate towards the same colors (usually warmer colors) and that translates all too well over to my carding tendencies. This would be all fine and dandy if I were only spinning and carding fibers for me, but let me be the first to tell you, spinning yarn for myself doesn't bring in the Benjamins. So, in order to add more colors to my shop pallet, I'm left forcing myself to buy something blue, or dye something purple, or card something with black in it. YES, I said forcing. I have to step away from my eyes and let the little spinning devil on my should tell me "perhaps someone would like a yarn with blue and purple... perhaps someone would pay you enough money for some new shoes if you'd spin that blue and green fiber... perhaps you need to snap out of your love for warmer colors and GET WITH IT".

Yes, this is the conversation that goes on inside my head every time I reach for red or orange or yellow. Crazy? Maybe.

Tonight started out no differently than any other night. I found myself standing in front of my tower of wool, scanning over colors and textures trying to find just...the...right...ones. Red? No. I've already done red. Orange? No. I've already done orange. Yellow? Heck no, I've already done yellow. I was at a loss. I just couldn't reach for the cooler colors without first considering the warmer tones. So what did I do? I pulled all of the colors down. Every blasted bit of color I had and I started carding. Some colors were omitted out of fear (some color combinations are better left to the imagination), some colors were resting at the bottom of the pile and were overlooked. But the colors that did make it on to the carder are breathtaking. Warm mingled with cool which all blended fabulously with a huge smack of sparkle 'cause I like it that way.

I'm happy. Sometimes the best way to get out of a rut is to just throw caution to the wind and see what happens.


New tricks

Warning - this post is strictly about fiber for spinning. If you don't spin or reading about my latest revelation in the fiber arts doesn't interest you, I suggest you move along.

I've been in a bit of a rut lately as far as my fiber has been concerned. In fact, this rut was more a ditch... a deep ravine of a ditch. Plain and simple, I was getting tired of carding fiber that always looked the same. I couldn't get a ton of texture from my drum carder (I knew that when I bought it - it's designed for finer fibers) and if I haven't been spinning thin singles to ply up, I've been spinning bulky batts full of locks, pieces of novelty yarn, and chunks of silk. I've either had to do this with piles of locks sitting around me in bags or I've had to buy batts blended by fiber artists with drum carders designed for such a thing.

Well - no more!

Thanks to Jazzturtle's tutorial she posted on Ravelry and her blog, I can now card chunkier, more textured batts.

I honestly feel like I just got a degree in carding chunky batts, and it only took a few minutes. I hope she knows how fabulous she is for posting a video like that. It was an awakening and my bank account will thank me when I can start carding these on my own (but really, if I'm honest, I know my bank account won't thank me because I'll still buy them from other people, I'll just be able to sell them myself!).


I keep telling myself...

I keep telling myself that spring is coming. Don't get me wrong, I adore the snow. In fact, my coworkers couldn't keep me in my office yesterday while it snowed. I was constantly heading up front to gaze out the window at the lovely, falling, white stuff. However, thoughts of gardening have been filling my head for a few days.

A few years ago I had an herb garden fit for television. It was gorgeous and if I were to see it on one of the Food Network shows, I would be jealous. But hey, it was my garden! No need to be jealous, I planted the seeds, I raised them, and I enjoyed the fruits of my labor. However, it's been three years and my poor garden hasn't looked the same since. Okay, okay - I have an excuse, NO - it's a good excuse, as to why it's been sad for a few years. I moved in the middle of summer 2 years ago and the plants just didn't survive the move and last summer was a bit hectic what with the cancer situation and all. Sure, my mom, who was the one with cancer, would have argued that you can deal with a sick family member and have a garden (she was the one who hated sitting still, even when recommended by her doctor) but I chose to deal with a sick family member and sit in a comatose state the rest of the time. It's how I dealt, gardening be darned.

But this season brings new hope for all things green (and some things purple, a good purple basil plant just warms my heart). I've already been stalking the gardening sites and making a list, very long list, of seeds I'll buy. My every thought is consumed with fragrant dill blossoms, fuzzy sage leaves, and square foot upon square foot of sweet and savory basil plants. I'm already salivating at the thought of fresh pestos of all kinds. Oh yes, I said all kinds. I don't discriminate when it comes to pesto - any herb is fair game. I'm checking, almost daily, for signs that my mint is sprouting and sun tea will once again be minty fresh instead of just Liptony good.

Yes folks, it won't be long until you can find me up to my elbows in the soil of my front yard.


Shiny and new... eventually

In case you haven't yet noticed, but I do hope you have, Idyll Hands is officially on vacation. Today I collected all of the necklaces that I'm pretty sure I won't put back in the shop and took them apart. I saved the chain and beads, and tossed gnarled wire, findings with kinks, pieces of turned metal, and broken pieces. Some of the necklaces have sat in bags for over a year because I decided long ago that I was finished with them.

Now I need to think... I need to find some creativity, reach out to the jewelry Gods and hope that they grant me grand designs. I just need to come up with something. I've got about 978 ideas in my head, but only want to work on a few. I want my "new" Idyll Hands to be a blend of my old style but with some new sprucing up. Oh, you remember me talking about this almost a year ago? Well, I changed it then and I can change it again. That is one of the many pleasures when it comes to running your own business. You can do whatever you want.

I did sit in front of my newly cleaned and organized work space, pliers in hand, bead boxes piled high, and eyes glazed over for about 2 hours today. It wasn't coming to me. So instead I made marinara sauce. At least that turned out with a finished product.
I'll try the jewelry thing again tomorrow.


Swaps and how they lead to stress

Since stepping into the fiber community almost 2 years ago, I've been introduced to the thrill of organized swaps. These really are wonderful little events. A group of like minded people sign up for a swap of some kind (maybe it involves fiber arts, maybe a general craft, or some quilting supplies, or kitchen goodies), they are sent a secret partner (well, secret to the partner, not to them, obviously) and they send some goodies to that secret partner.

It sounds fun. That's why I first joined a swap. It was a fiber swap, but not overly complicated. I just had to send a certain weight of spinning fiber to someone in my group. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I stressed over this. Swaps seem to have a history (not sure if it's a long history) of including clever goodies to go along with the main item. Perhaps some super fancy tea from a local tea shop. Maybe someone will find some amazing chocolate at a local candy shop to send with the swap goodies. Perhaps someone is into vintage cookware, so someone sends them something quirky from a mod kitchen. And here I was just finding the perfect fiber to put in a box. I scrambled, found lots of goodies, put together what I thought was the perfect package, added some things, finally had the perfect package and sent off my first swap box swearing that it would be my last.

But that was a lie. I shouldn't lie to myself, it creates trust issues.

I joined another swap and stressed over it. Then I decided to do another swap and guess what? Yeah, I stressed over that one too. I never seem to learn. You see, the problem is, swapping is so much fun! I get to pour my artistic, creative, fiber loving heart into a box of goodies for another fiberista, and someone does the same for me. The thought that goes into the boxes is amazing. Some swappers really stalk you (but not in a creepy way) to find out what makes you tick. They read your blog, email your friends, figure out what makes you tick and then they put it in a box and mail it off.

How could you say no to that?

I just packaged up 2 swap boxes this week. Both left me covered in angelina fiber, writhing on the floor in a pile of stress... but I couldn't be happier with the end result. Swaps are fun!

And shall I finish with a happy thought today? My sister made me some delicious chicken and rice soup because I've been homebound with the sick for a few days. She brought me the soup in a bright colored piece of Tupperware today at lunch. I can't think of anything better to cure my cold than homemade soup. I'm pretty lucky to have a sister like that within driving distance of me!


Less than a rant

My sister pointed me to a blog post about cancer and being happy earlier today (well, maybe not exactly like that, but that's what I took away from it). Those of you who have been following my blog any time in the past year and a half know that cancer hit very close to home in my world. It struck all to close to the world of a friend of mine just recently as well. Cancer is a bastard like that.

This blog post mentioned keeping a journal of happy things. We're all too quick to blog a rant, or about a complaint, or to stand on our soapbox because you can catch people's attention with that. Wouldn't you rather hear about my war with the local Chili's and the HORRIBLE service I receive every time I go there than a cute bunny I saw on my afternoon walk? Maybe. But who's to say you wouldn't want to hear about the way the breeze this morning smelled of a crisp, clean winters morning taking me back to a day on the side of a mountain in the Tetons when I was only 8 years old. That's pretty nice to read about as well, right? One of those topics leaves me simmering and one leaves me wistful and full of life.

Wouldn't we all rather be wistful and full of life (if you have to think about it, go eat some ice cream, take a bath and come back and read this again).

When I think back on the past year and a half, I come up with a lot of ugly, bad, sad, upsetting things. I think back on Christmas 2008 - my last Christmas with my mom. That is a bad thing. My 28th birthday - my last birthday with my mom. That is a bad thing. Last spring when we walked around my mom's yard to look at the daffodils - that was the last time that happened with my mom. That is a bad thing. Initially it is hard to come out of that thought with happy. However, there are hundreds, no, thousands of happy things that have come from the sad. There was the excitement I felt when my mom first looked to her left after her surgery in October 2008 (indicating the lack of left neglect). There was my drive out to her house on Christmas Eve when just a few months prior, one doctor didn't give us until Christmas. Those were happy moments. True, if the situation didn't involve cancer, it would have been happier, but the situation did involve it, so I'll find the happy where I can.

Why do I have to dig so deep to find those? Maybe it's because those weren't the highlights of my blog posts. They weren't the things I posted about on Twitter or on Facebook. I'm not going to say my way communicating via the internet is going to change tomorrow, but I am going to attempt to document more of the happy.

And if this is your first time to visit my blog, I'm not a negative person (you can read through my postings to see that) but maybe adding a weekly "happy moment" wouldn't be a bad idea.