Friday, January 18, 2019

A Quick Trip To Palm Springs

On Wednesday, I decided to go see Jersey Boys again. I messaged my friend Danny, (the associate choreographer,) that I was coming. It was a last minute decision, and I had found one seat online. It was on the end,  in the very back row of the balcony. Danny suggested that we meet him in the lobby before the show. "I have a house seat and I'll switch with you," he told me. "I need to watch the show from the back, anyway." I thanked him and felt a rush of gratitude.  I'm on a budget, so I usually buy the cheapest seat available.  House seats are the most expensive in the theater.  They reserve a section of them  for the performers and creative team.  

The parking lot was packed. I couldn't find a spot, so they let me valet park. Since I had Lula with me, I parked myself. She slept in the car while I watched the show. She loves to travel. She just snoozes in the backseat. It only cost $20.00 to have her stay with me at the Best Western. They have special rooms for dog owners. Ours had a lovely balcony overlooking the garden.  You could sit out on the patio and have a cup of coffee. They have coffemakers in the room with delicious coffee. 

I really enjoyed the show. I always do. It was an exciting night. The actor playing Frankie Valli was out.  His understudy was on, and he did so well. They all did. When one of the understudies is on in a show, it has a domino effect. Several other people will have to cover multiple parts, and it's a huge opportunity as a performer. Everyone was so well prepared and rehearsed. I was very impressed.

My job as the dance captain for Anything Goes in Berlin was to swing all of the parts and to teach everyone the show. It's a big responsibility and can be very stressful.  I really appreciate what it takes to keep a show running smoothly. You just never know who is going to get sick or injured, and you have to be prepared for anything.

After the curtain came down,  Danny brought me backstage.  I got to meet several of the people involved in the show. It brought back so many memories. I gazed at all of the costumes preset on the chairs, the scenery, and the special floor. We looked out at the audience from the performers' point of view.  The seats that had been full earlier were now empty. The house lights were up, and it looked completely different from the way it had when we were out there sitting  in the dark, watching the show.

By the time we left, the performers had gone home. They had rehearsed that day, and had completed  a successful performance.  Danny told me that they had another rehearsal tomorrow. It's a hard life, being in show business.  You push your voice and your body to extremes.  It's also very thrilling and rewarding, though.

I drove back to the motel, spent the night, and then checked out the next morning. I was thinking that I needed to stop and buy more water, then remembered that Danny had given me a bottle. He handed it to me  when we met in the lobby. It was so thoughtful of him. It's the little details that make you comfortable on the road.  I had saved it in the car. I breathed a sigh of relief, took a sip,  and drove home in the pouring rain.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Carol Channing Obituary: Part One

Carol Channing died today. She was 97 years old, and lived a very full and vibrant life. I first met Carol when I was a Bluebell dancer in the Show "Hello Hollywood, Hello!" at the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, Nevada. She came in as the first headliner, and boy was she spectacular! I fell in love with her: her vivacity, charm, humor, and stage presence. She was electric and youthful. I would stand in the bathroom during her act, listening to her on the speaker. I studied her vocal inflections, her timing on the laughs, and the rhythm of her skits. She was hysterical. One of my favorite numbers was when she did "Tap Your Troubles Away."  She performed it in flat Mary Jane style tap shoes with huge bows on the feet, like a little girl would wear.  It was so funny, and  never failed to get a laugh. She made her costume changes behind a flimsy partition on stage, while chatting enthusiastically to the audience as she changed her clothes. She was so amusing and entertaining, all of the time.

I used to see her poised on her float before she made her entrance. She always got there about twenty minutes before her cue. It had a staircase, and after someone helped her up at the top, she would stand there, wide eyed, looking around and listening. It was as if she was talking to someone. There was energy streaming out of her body; she must have been rehearsing. I used to wave at her from my Robot costume as she made her exit. One day she came up to me and asked, "What is your name?" "Stephenie," I replied. "Stephenie!" she practically shouted, enthusiastically. From then on, she would always stop on her way to the dressing room and say "Hi Stephenie," in that imitable voice of hers. She was so kind and friendly.  More about Carol Channing tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

When You Don't Drink

I read an article today in The Guardian about how many of today's young people today are making the decision not to drink. It's called, "Time, please: is drinking becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking?" I perked up, as my lifestyle choice not to drink has made several people angry and defensive. Even at age 54, there can be a lot of pressure at social functions to have a glass of wine or a cocktail.

On a recent cruise, I ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri while others were getting margaritas to enjoy with our Mexican dinner. One of the men I had just met, and really liked, made fun of me for it. "Shirley Temple?" he mocked. I told him enthusiastically after a swallow how delicious it was. It was served in a huge glass, was a gorgeous shade of red, and topped with a generous helping of whipped cream. I ate and drank so many things on that cruise that I normally don't. It was a decadent time, and a  fun and exciting experience. Still, it bothered me that he had to make a crack about the fact that I don't drink. Having someone point it out in public makes you feel uncomfortable and bullied. I smiled and gulped down my fruity concoction.

While attending a reunion for one of the shows I did, one of the men asked me what I was drinking. "Oh, I don't drink," I answered, without thinking. I didn't mean it in a rude way, I just didn't know what to order. "She doesn't drink," he repeated to his friend, angrily.  His voice was rising. He said it to a man that I used to date. It was very uncomfortable, and I felt put on the spot. "Well I could have a coffee..." I suggested, trying to keep the conversation light and pleasant. These were two guys that I really like, and spent a lot of time with when I was young, but the tension was instantly intense. I thought it was strange, because just a few minutes earlier we had been having such a great time together.

A couple of women I know from a craft group looked at me recently and announced, "We like to party." When I saw the hatred and malice in their eyes, I immediately fled. It was a challenge.  I didn't expect it; I was just knitting. "Here we go again," I thought.  They are in their seventies and eighties. I have never been a partier. I love to see my friends, and enjoy going out to a nice dinner, but am not one to stay up all night, making noise, getting drunk, stoned, or wasted. I've never understood that behavior. I love a scrumptious meal, dessert, and great company, but I have always stayed sober. For whatever reason,  this seems to enrage certain people. These two women, in particular, were applying pressure.  I guess it's a choice that threatens some people. Have you ever been ostracized by your decision not to drink or do drugs?

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

An Excellent Book

Yesterday I downloaded an incredible story on  my Kindle. It's called, Nine Years Among The Indians 1870-1979, by Herman Lehmann. This is a gripping tale about a man who was captured by Native Americans as a young boy.  His parents had come to America from Germany.

It is difficult to read, due to the violence, cruelty, and abuse that he suffered. He became a respected warrior with the tribe, but it was a grueling process. I had always romanticized the lifestyle of the native people, being fascinated by their beauty, dress, culture, and spirituality. I even lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for three years, being drawn to the history, landscape,  and blue skies.  I visited historical areas, and attended a couple of pow wows. They were nothing like the tales in this book. It gave me quite an education.

Reading Herman's detailed account opened up an entirely different reality than what I had ever known. The lifestyle of daily murder, theft, and brutality  was pretty horrifying to digest, but also very educational. What I didn't realize was how much the tribes fought against each other. The antagonism and feuding was constant.  I saw many parallels between the behavior of these  people and the problems that we still have today.  He developed an intense hatred of whites, even though he was white. It was fascinating. He had to completely change his ways, in order to survive.

He was returned to his family as an adult, and later married and had children. It is a remarkable life story. I took a long hike today, imagining those times, when all of those pioneers and Indians were intent upon heading West, and felt thankful for my blessings. 

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Making Gauge On Your Hand Knit Sweater

How important is it to match the gauge of the designer when knitting a sweater? Very. A woman in one of the knitting groups I attend asked the ladies why the hat she had crocheted didn't fit. She had made two of them, designing as she went, and was disappointed in the result. "It's too small," she explained.

One of the women asked me what I thought. I answered that I always use a pattern, and make a gauge swatch before  starting to  knit the item. Each yarn will knit up differently. For Carbeth, for example, I made gauge on my first swatch. I used some dk weight yarn that I had in my stash, held double. The pattern is designed that way. The needles worked, the yarn worked, and I could get started immediately.

I loved the sweater so much that I decided to make another one with some bulky weight yarn from Iceland. I needed fourteen stitches in four inches. The first swatch I did on size 10.5 needles, which the pattern suggests. I got 12 stitches. I was two stitches short, so I tried a second swatch on size 10 needles. I ended up with 13 stitches. I switched to size 9 needles, and hit 14 stitches exactly. Phew! It took three tries, but was worth it.

When you are within the parameters of the pattern and its measurements, you will be much happier with the end result. Your sweater will look like the photo, it will fit you, and you will have enough yarn. (It helps to buy a skein of extra yarn, just in case.)

Although some knitters don't like to swatch, it really is worth the time and energy. You are not going to feel stressed and worried about the size of your sweater. You can just relax and knit. Following rules and guidelines in the beginning gives you freedom and confidence in the end.

I have known knitters who refuse to swatch. Some have exploded  into rage if I mention that I do it. I have never seen any of them wearing a hand knit item. It just makes all the difference. It's like laying your clothing on a piece of graph paper.  It insures that your garment will match the pattern. 

This morning I received a message from a gorgeous dancer who I worked with thirty years ago. She had seen a photo on Facebook and  wants to order one of my turtleneck sweaters. Fantastic! This is where swatching is super important- when you don't have the person in front of you to try on what you are making.  She is built like a Ford model, and will look fabulous in it. Still, I am getting her measurements. The length of the sleeves, body, and neck are so important. Everyone has a different shape.  It's more than just being a small, medium, or large. The details make it art. With careful planning, you will end up with a sweater with sleeves that come right to the ends of the wrists, your desired length, and a comfortable fit in the neck.

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Memory Issues

Have been getting lots of knitting done lately. It rained today.
In the past year, I've  been dealing with some memory issues. Is it age? Could it be side effects of the GA I had during my bilateral  hip replacement surgery? ( I was put under for over three hours.)  Is it due to  the concussion I incurred several years ago from a bicycle accident?  All I know is that  I have regularly been having trouble remembering simple things. It's strange, because I've always had an exceptional memory, especially in my work. I think part of it is trying to keep in touch with too many people. It's really not natural to communicate with friends and family constantly,  the way many of us do now.  It can be very stressful and overwhelming, and put you on overload.

Since introducing some of the dietary advice that I learned  in Medical Medium, I am feeling much clearer, physically and mentally. It's as if my brain fog has lifted. I've upped my fruit consumption, and have added blueberries, celery, and cilantro to my daily diet. I've noticed a huge difference in my elimination, as well.  It reminds me of when I was a teenager, and first became a vegetarian.   Roughage really cleans out the digestive tract.

Lula got a new bed/couch for Christmas

I started the new Carbeth sweater with the Alafosslopi yarn. It's such a pretty color! It feels completely different than the other yarns I've used. It's stiffer, and has excellent stitch definition. My hands are a bit sore from working with it. I thought the wool would be scratchy, but it feels nice and soft next to my skin. It's so durable and strong. How are you?

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Alafosslopi Icelandic Wool Arrived Today

As I sauntered  home from walking Lula this afternoon, I ran into my mail lady. She told me that she had left a package for me. I instantly knew what it was: my denim blue Alafosslopi yarn.  I had just ordered it online from Webs! I was thrilled. I tore open the envelope, and fell in love with the shade of blue.  This wool is just gorgeous! I quickly took a photo and sent it to my brother with a thank you. He bought me the gift certificate for Christmas.

I finished the first cabled green sock. I am over the moon  with the fit. You never know with a new sock pattern how it will feel. The softness is heavenly.  Here are a few photos of it as a work in progress. 

This  is a closeup of the heel. It's so much easier to knit socks on larger needles. I really enjoy it. I will probably just use these as bed socks, though. The yarn doesn't have any nylon in it, so it will wear through very quickly if I'm not careful. I may have to look into ordering some Icelandic sock wool. I am eager to learn stranded knitting.

Here is how it looks on; I haven't worn a knee sock in so many years! It has gotten chilly here in California. I am so happy and grateful to have so many warm, cozy, quality hand knits. They are very comforting and practical. I should have cleaned up my mess before taking this photograph. I have become the mad knitter again. I am in ecstacy with all of this knitting. Tomorrow I really must mop my floors, shop at Costco,  and do laundry.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Did You Start A Diet Today?

My hips were really out of whack in this photo. It was before my bilateral hip replacement surgery.

I didn't. Well, I did do a huge shop yesterday, and bought all kinds of wonderful fruits and vegetables. Sprouts had blueberries and blackberries on sale, so I splurged on four packages of them. I almost never buy berries, because of the cost, but have decided that they are worth it. They are so full of nutrients, and they taste incredible!  Maybe I can grow them...

My intuition has been steering me towards cilantro for the past few months. I have started adding about a half a cup of it to my salads. I learned that from the Medical Medium. It really is a wonderful aromatic herb. I plan to grow it in my windowsill this winter.

This afternoon I picked some rosemary, sage, and thyme from the potager garden. I added them to my bone broth that was simmering on the stove. I grow all kinds of herbs out front, but sometimes I forget to use them. I have also added celery and cucumbers to my daily salads, and it feels like a healthy and beneficial choice.

Are you making any changes to what you eat for the New Year? My plan is to enjoy much more fresh fruit, in place of baked goods. I love them both, but am just as happy with the fruit. My joints do much better this way, and I want to keep my original knees, if possible.  I'll just have breads and pies once in a while,  for a treat.    

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Afraid Of Food

Last week I listened to and watched  couple of different doctors on Youtube. One was a chiropractor, and the other was a medical doctor and chemist. I found what they were saying about diet to be very distressing. It seems like they believe that just about everything that we eat is causing cancer, arthritis, and other diseases. My impression was that they just want us eating vegetables, seeds, and nuts. It doesn't  make sense to me. 

I thought about how in my own life, the only time that I've had negative reactions to a balanced diet was when I had bone on bone osteoarthritis. It felt like an infection to me. I was shocked at how painful and debilitating it was. I dreaded going to bed, because my legs would start to shake. If I tried to move them the pain would cut through me like a knife. I had no idea what was wrong, and suffered with these symptoms for years. I thought it was caused by diet. I tried cutting out the foods that supposedly caused inflammation. I felt better, but eating that way really bored and depressed me. Life felt so flat and empty. 

Once I had the hip replacement surgery, I noticed that I could eat whatever I wanted again. I no longer experienced the flares of inflammation. I felt more like I did as a child. Growing up we enjoyed meat, potatoes, salads, casseroles, and desserts. I devoured fruit, and loved the different varieties and flavors that were available.

Some seniors that I talk to are afraid to eat fruit. They tell me that their doctors have told them they are pre- diabetic and can't have it. I have always eaten several pieces of fruit a day, and find it very energizing and satisfying. Others have stopped eating gluten, because they feel it is causing their painful arthritis.  It puzzles me that so many women I know can't eat much of anything after age fifty without having a severe reaction. I found my answers last night. They are in an incredible book called Medical Medium, by Anthony William.  I can so relate to him! As a yoga teacher, I was constantly diagnosing my students without realizing it. I would just repeat what my intuition told me. They often seemed so shocked. "I went to the doctor, and he told me the exact same thing you did," they would say. "Maybe I should have been a doctor," I would think to myself. "I would have made a lot more money."   It was always just a natural ability that I had. I read countless books on energy healing, emotions, chakras, and yoga. It fascinated me then, and it still does.

My personal feeling is that our body chemistry is key. If we are in an abusive situation, the body is flooded with cortisol. I was in some dead end jobs and relationships, and I could feel how toxic  it felt in my bloodstream. Many of us stay in horrible situations because we need the money, or are afraid to make a change. It isn't worth it. The body knows when it feels safe and secure, and it knows when we are in danger. If my body hurts, I know that I'm on the wrong track. Sometimes just getting away from someone can make all of the symptoms disappear.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Have A Holly Jolly Christmas...

Here's wishing all of you wonderful readers and bloggers a  delightful Christmas. I find that it can be a sad holiday, but  looking at old photographs from childhood helps. I found these shots from our younger days. This is my cousin from my mom's side of the family, Lindsey. What a sweetie. She looks like a little doll. I think I was about twenty years old  in this photograph.

My brothers and I on the night before Christmas. It looks like we all got new pajamas, (and me a nightgown,) for Christmas. My mom used to let us open one gift on Christmas Eve. I still love Lanz flannel nightgowns. My brothers look so cute.  We were all excited for Santa to come down our chimney...

I just got home from visiting my dad. He snapped a photo of me in my Carbeth sweater for you. You can see it much better than in the selfie that I posted. I wore it constantly! It was cold, and we had some lovely rain.  My youngest brother sent me a gift certificate for Webs, so I plan to make another one. I just love the comfort and simple lines of  Kate Davies' design.  Mine is not as cropped as the original version.  I wanted an over fifty, comfortable sweater. I'm wearing some new Boom make-up for older women by Cindy Joseph, and I really like it.  It's simple and natural. I find that if we aren't careful with make-up as seniors, we can look like clowns. (but I do like a little color.)

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Cabled Llama Socks

Knitting in the sunshine, out on the porch, with a cup of Christmas coffee

Today I started working on a pair of green cabled socks. I'm using some Llama Una yarn that I had in my stash. I purchased it last Christmas with a gift card from my brother. I had never knit socks out of worsted weight yarn until today. I absolutely love it!

I love my new cable needles and case

I received this sweet gift from a lady in my knitting group. It's a crocheted towel holder for dish towels, but I am using it to hold my curved cable needles. I needed a case for them, and am just wild about these colors. They speak to me.

Here come the cables! It's fun to watch them unfold.  My mother gave me those fairies.

The cable pattern on these is very simple. I love the effect. So often in art, less is more. You can find the  pattern here.  It's called Caron Cozy Knit Cabin Socks. Aren't the tweed ones  pretty?  There is also a video tutorial on the site that is very helpful. They come in all sorts of sizes, for children through adults. Who wants to make them with me?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Carbeth Completed

The stitches look so much smoother and more uniform after blocking

On Tuesday I finished my  Carbeth sweater. I wore it yesterday morning to Sprouts and Valley Produce. The two women behind the counter at Sprouts complimented me on it. When I thanked them and told them that I had made it, they went nuts. It was really sweet. They were so enthusiastic and impressed. It made my day.  This younger generation seems so passionate about fiber arts and the old fashioned ways.  It warms my heart.

The cashier asked me if I sell them. I do sell  sweaters and hand knits on Etsy. It takes a significant amount of time, energy, and yarn to make one, so they are expensive. The price for a raglan sweater like this one would be very high because the yarn is doubled. Sometimes you can find yarn on sale, though. It could also be knit in a single strand of a chunky yarn. I was so fortunate to be given such a large amount of this grey yarn; the hanks were huge!

Final fitting before blocking

After soaking the turtleneck in water for about an hour, I spun it dry in my Nina Spin Dryer. I then carefully laid it out on my Meyer Lemon Tree, avoiding the thorns.  I was amazed at how quickly it dried. It only took a few hours, out in the fresh air.  I was able to wear it to my knitting group that afternoon. I think this is my new favorite sweater. I've been living in it.  How are you? Is it cold where you live?  I hope you are staying warm and comfortable.

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