Archive | November, 2007

Googling old friends…

22 Nov

Have you ever had a few minutes and wondered what happened to a former lover, childhood friend, teacher? As I’m sure most people have, I’ve been ‘googled’ by a few people in the past and have, on occasion, tried to look up old friends to see what they are up to.

One of these friends was Brian, someone who I had spent my year and a half in Slovakia with. We started out as enemies — we went to college together and for various reasons, did not get along for the 2 years we knew each other in school. But, somehow as fate would have it, we wound up as neighbors living in East Slovakia. Being stuck together at the edge of the then ‘free world’ and our love of the Slovak language culture and people made us the best of friends.

I had kept up with Brian for a few years after leaving Slovakia and unfortunately lost touch with him when I left for Japan. I did hear from some friends in Slovakia that he had become a father and was working on his PhD, but aside from that, I was left to my own devices to see how he was doing.

Each year since I’ve been back from Japan, I google Brian. It’s always around the middle of November, because that’s when I came back from Slovakia and feel the most nostalgic for my time there. This year in particular I really wanted to contact him because I’ve started going through my memories of that year and writing essays that may eventually make their way into a book someday. Almost every essay includes Brian in some way or another.

I typed his name into the search engine box and finally had success.

I felt so happy to come across him! I found out that he’d won a Fulbright Scholarship and was doing well in his career. I was so excited to see that there was an article about him in a professional newsletter, that is, until I started reading more closely….

It turns out that 11 months ago Brian passed away.

The article was a tribute to his memory and contributions to his field of study. I don’t know the specifics of his passing, but when I found out, I spent the whole afternoon in tears. It’s so sad that I just when I finally had found him, Brian was already gone.

I haven’t yet figured out how to contact his wife and kids to let them know how great there dad was and how sorry I am for their loss. But now I have become more determined than ever to write down those Slovak stories…

I dedicate this post in honor of a dear friend who — even though I haven’t seen him for over ten years — impacted my life so greatly.


Where am I gonna put…

8 Nov

All this fiber!

See, all I wanted was a niddy noddy.

It began last week when Doug had asked me why I hadn’t taken my wheel out yet. (It’s only made one appearance since I’ve moved — for a brief 2-day spinning run.) I figured that in 3 months I won’t have the time or energy to get to know my wheel, so, since there’s no time like the present, the wheel came out of closet-hiding.

All of my bobbins were full of bits and pieces of wool or silk that I had spun. There was a bit of the parrot crock-pot dyed singles (which I hated and, after spinning a few yards, decided to over-dye with purple). A whole bobbin-full of the over-dyed yarn. Some silk on 2 bobbins that I naively thought I would spin to make a shawl for the wedding (with 106 degree temps, didn’t miss the fact that I didn’t get anywhere near done…).

The first thing to do was to clean up a few bobbins. Even though I haven’t spun more than two bobbins’ worth of singles, I decided to learn how to navajo/chain ply (see Spin Off for a great article on how to do this). First I practiced with the parrot singles. Then with some singles from a round with the spindle that had been sitting in my stash. And finally with the purple parrot over-dye.

Navajo 3-ply
Bottom to Top – Parrot, Old Singles, Overdye

Now I had two bobbins ready to start on a bigger project — I want to spin enough to design a sweater. My mom’s friend, Helene, had graciously given me tons of roving. The last batch contained 2 bags of brown combed top (about 1/2 lb. each). Since brown is not usually a color I’m excited about, I thought that I would use this wool to practice spinning with on the wheel. I got out the fiber and realized that I had gotten a pound of spinning gold. Not only is it super soft (maybe has some mohair or down carded into it) but that it is a dream to spin.

First Skein Brown Roving
First Skein Brown Top

Initially I wanted a worsted weight for knitting but decided to just let the yarn speak for itself. I wound up with a skein of semi-worsted bulky weight yarn that really works well for this fiber.

But, since this was my first foray into spinning 2 full bobbins, I had a problem. To date my niddy noddy has been my lower leg (knee to foot). It’s worked well for small bits and pieces on the spindle, but for more? (Not to mention that it’s getting harder to reach my leg these days.) I needed a real niddy noddy…

This was Saturday, so on Sunday, I was going to head on over to my local fiber store, Stick and Stone Fiberarts. I was surfing their site when I noticed that they’d be closed. They were going to have a booth at the Southern California Handweavers Guild which was having their annual Fiber Fest!!!

It was incredible! Three large rooms full of fiber vendors, yarns and books. What was a fiberholic to do?

I decided to take it slow. I knew I wanted a niddy noddy. There was a book I wanted as well and I was hoping to get some bamboo to play with on my spindle. I made a pass around all the rooms and decided to sit down, breathe (well, by then honestly I was slightly out of breath carrying little one around inside of me — I don’t think it was all due to the fiber…) and eat lunch.

When I made my rounds I found that within 20 minutes a lot of the place had already been cleared out. Yep, it was like those other fiberholics had descended onto the goodies like a swarm of locusts. And saddest of all…

The bamboo I had been longing for was gone!

Oh well. Never one to let something like this completely get me down, I decided on a budget and to get just a few things…

schg goodies
SCHG Goodies

I got my niddy noddy (realized when I got home that it’s metric, though…) A pound of wool, mohair, tussah roving from Nancy’s Custom Weaving, the book Teach Yourself Visually Spinning (lots of hints not in my other books) and some really soft cotton roving from Stick and Stone.

There was also a vendor who had everything marked at $4 — cones and yarns. They had some of the softest cotton imaginable! I must say I restrained myself and only picked up 4 320 yard skeins.

$4 yarn
Newton’s Cotton Yarn

All in all not a bad day’s take. I restrained myself quite well. Found some interesting fibers to spin.

And, I got my niddy noddy.

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Weighty Matters

5 Nov

It all began with my dad calling me plump and juicy when I was little. Until I hit puberty, I was chubby (unlike most of the other girls who seemed to lose their baby fat once they hit third grade). Then, the opposite happened – at age 13 all those curves melted away (except for my hips) and I was the short, flat-chested girl with straight lines. Then, instead of saying how nice I looked my dad would say “You look like a boy. You’re not supposed to see ribs on a girl!

These conflicting messages ensured that I would probably never be comfortable inside of my own body. How I longed for the day when I thought things would change and that I would feel happy to be whatever shape I was.

This has yet to happen.

Even pregnant, the body image issues I have battled all my life seem to magically rear their ugly heads (or in my case, hips!). I always thought that it would be so wonderful to have a socially-approved-of-belly and that I wouldn’t have to worry about how much I weighed or how big I was.

This still has yet to happen.

Maybe it is because I got pregnant just before getting married and my fears of showing in my dress (which I of course, did – I was showing quite early). Maybe it was because we wanted to wait to tell people we were expecting until after the wedding. Whatever it was for the first 3 months of my pregnancy I felt heavy, fat and bloated.

Something inside of me, though, told me that my issues would probably pass once I hit the second trimester. Showing would be wonderful. This would’ve been the case if I hadn’t of had gestational diabetes and had to go see the dietician (who just so happens to be a very small middle-aged Chinese lady with a slight build).

Our conversation went something like this:

Her: Oh, you are overweight.

Me: I know I’ve gained weight in the past few years because of stress, but I’m well within the parameters for my height.

Her (checking off the Overweight box on my intake form): Oh no. You are overweight. I am the same height, and even though I have smaller bones, you should weigh 120 lbs. pre-pregnancy.

Me: I have weighed that much before. I was anorexic and size 3 clothes hung on me. I’m not genetically wired to weigh that little.

Her (ignoring my comment about an eating disorder): That is your ideal weight.

This is a medical professional? Every time I go into this office to have my glucose levels evaluated, it’s a similar conversation. I’m almost in my sixth month, and have only gained about 5-6 pounds so far. How on earth — if all my pregnancy books say I should have gained about 11 — can that be too much?

I also love the fact that her scale magically reads my weight as being 2 lbs. heavier than my OBGYN’s. I had an appointment with both of them the same day – the dietician being right after the doctor. I asked her how I could’ve gained 2 lbs. in the course of an hour. Part of me wonders if their scale is off just to be able to lord their non-pregnant, genetically-predispositioned-to-be-thin figures over me and make their patients feel bad.

There is little positive about these visits.

Trying to ignore this does take some energy and hard work, though.

In truth, I unless I have an appointment with these nurses, I feel happy with my belly and size. I am eating well and exercising. I know that I’m carrying high and that my belly will show a little more than some other women.

And that’s just the way it is.

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