Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Secret to "Looking" Younger

Well the use of quotation marks gives away that this post will not really give you information to turn back time on your face or body. But the truth of how people respond to how we look is mostly about the self-image we carry in our heads. Now humor me here for a moment. Do we agree that it is a given that how we feel we look is not dead on the reality mark?
(Moving ahead with the assurance of a majority vote in my favor here.) So, if we are not right why not carry a "better" or fantasy image? Sometimes you will see me out and not realize that I am my alterbody, Lupe the Latina based on any number of woman from the pop culture. What truly counts to people ( who are not shallow twits and who wants them as friends anyway?) is how you carry yourself and the confidence behind all that. So, since it won't cost you anything to try this, take your alterbody out for a test drive and let me know how it works for you.
Blog On!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pets of Christmas Past

Santa, baby, bring me some of that bird sushi for Christmas.

Maureen here. Leaving to go to my sister Peggy's for Christmas dinner and jocularity soon. Leslie's cats got treats after breakfast today, although Nefertiti, the beauty in the photo, even today seems to be more interested in the birdies she can see from the window.

I got thinking of how I miss my old Joon Bug, my late great mini bull terrier. They call BT's "a three-year-old in a dog suit" and that certainly fit Joon when she was young. I remember Christmases at my dad's house when Joon would be so wound up she'd race from room to room, especially when she'd hear the rattle of wrappping paper. The only person who could calm her down was my teenage nephew Ryan. We didn't have the term "dog whisperer" then, but that certainly fit Ryan. He'd put the Bug on his lap and rub her ears and she'd lapse into quiet contentment. To think this is now his first Christmas as a newlywed with his beautiful bride Katie - and a CAT, of all things.

My dad had a chair in the living room that was HIS chair - we daughters called it the Archie Bunker chair. The only one who dared fight him for it was Joon. Dad would go into the living room to settle down comfortably in the Chair, and Joon would be perched there, grinning at him. Dad would pretend to be exasperated, but the next thing you'd know, the two of them would be in the chair together, watching some sappy Christmas thing on TV or football.

Before Joon, I had a cat, Tiger the Terrible. I can still remember the very distinct sound of Tiger eating needles off the bottom branches of the Christmas tree. It sounded like a tiny elf eating wee potato chips. I also remember the very distinct sound of the spruce needles coming back up a couple of hours later.

One Christmas, I brought Tiger home with me because I was going to stay a few days. Mom was doing laundry, and the weather was so bad she was actually using the dryer. This was quite an occasion, as Mom much prefered to hang clothes outside because they smelled so nice from the fresh air and it saved electricity. (Mom was green before it was cool.) Anyway, she finished loading the clothes in the dryer, closed the door, and turned in on.

"Ka-Bang! Ka-Bang!"

I came running in and Mom opened the dryer door as quickly as she could. Out sprang Tiger. He must have leapt six feet straight out from the dryer before his paws hit the floor. Mom was horrified and I was so laughing so hard I couldn't talk. Tiger raced to the other end of the house, dashed up the stairs, and pouted under my parents' bed for hours. Mom couldn't stop apologizing.

Going back even farther, when I was in grad school at Syracuse, I took care of my friend Rita's cat Zelda over Christmas break while Rita was away. Mom, who had never let us have pets, said I could bring Zelda home. She was a very well-behaved guest for the most part. We had one of those big old color TV's that got really warm on top. Zelda loved the heat and would lie on the TV on her back, with her head hanging down over the top of the screen. Given the state of network television at the time, Zelda was indoubitably more amusing that what we were watching.

I believe it was New Year's Day, not Christmas, when Zelda made her move. We were at the dining room table, enjoying a delicious turkey dinner (having had ham at Christmas) when we heard a distinct thump! from the kitchen. We all looked at each other quizzically, and then I went racing into the kitchen. There on the counter was Zelda, stalking the turkey as though she were a lioness on the savanna, stalking a gazelle. Despite the poetry of the image, Zelda got no turkey that day.

I see it's time for me to go to Peggy's for this year's Christmas ham. For all of you and your pets today, I wish all the best. As always,

"May your days be merry and bright,

And may all your Christmases be white."

- Maureen

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maureen's Lunch

We were out to celebrate Maureen's new job at Alchemy, in Gloucester, MA. The previous summer I had taken my Aunt Martha there and she had pronnounced the Cobb Salad to be the best she had ever eaten. Since my Aunt Martha was over 90 years of age I thought that was a pretty strong endorsement! Maureen is particular about food and this was a celebration in her honor. I knew I could trust Alchemy to do it up right. After a wonderful lunch the four of us decided to split a Strawberry Shortcake. The square plate, the oval spoons like metal petals amid the smear of remains ....well I had to preserve the moment. So, to the left is the evidence of a great desert: all the memories and none of the calories.
Blog On!
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Friday, November 28, 2008

The Ageless Joy of Learning

Almost three weeks ago my friend Rose Ann Hunter, , and I got to teach at The Gathering in Wakefield, MA. I knew I would be surrounded by over a hundred avid spinners. My plan was to learn on the wheel Ann Banks had loaned me and quietly sit in their ranks but lack of organization precluded that happening. So I packed the wheel determined to bring it out on Saturday night after the workshops and find a kind teaching soul. Laura had tried to teach me at spa a few years ago but that was in a bar and before I gave myself permission to enjoy rather than fight the learning curve. I decided that I had to learn to spin after someone told me that the year her father died spinning was the only thing that helped calm her. That sure got my attention. I was definitely in search of a legal route to calmness that came without calories.
So, carrying the wheel I search for a friendly group to insert myself. Finding a small group with an empty chair I am welcomed in and introduce myself to Ellen Thesoulofpatience* on my left. Within a few hours I am sitting in the main room with who knows how many pro handspinners and enjoying , really enjoying myself. That woman was right! There is a centering, calming, meditative quality to holding a fluffy, colorful natural substance with no solid form or strength and feeling it transform in your fingers to yarn. Now, don't quote me, but I think Rumpelstiltskin was an unnecessary overachiever.
Blog On!
*not her real last name

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Better in Black and White, Part 3

Back with my ruminations on black and white "monster" movies. That's what we called them then, even though now some are considered Sci-Fi and some horror. Here are just a few of my favorites from the 50's and early 60's.

First, a movie that was made in the wonderful year of 1951, the year I was born. It's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and starred Michael Rennie as a handsome, debonair yet saddened alien and Patricia Neal as the beautiful terrestrial who gently loved him. He came in peace; we answered with violence. This was a surprisingly leftist view in an era when movies consistently portrayed the scientists who begged for understanding of the unknown as misguided at best and criminally stupid at worst. (It was a long cultural way to Captain Jean Luc Picard.) It is also a really good movie, as you might be able to judge from the casting of the leads. Favorite quote: "Klaatu barada nicto."

Another film made in 1951 was more typical of the times. "The Thing" starred James Arness as a carrot-like alien found frozen in the Arctic by a US Air Force expedition. It's the scientist who wants to keep the Thing around for scientific examination, and he's meddling in things best left alone. He says, "There are no enemies in science, only phenomena to be studied." Of course, he's wrong. The carrot unthaws and goes on a killing rampage. This Thing is dealt with (later to become Marshall Dillon), but the military men fear that more murderous veggies are on their way to Earth. Famous quote: "Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!" Paranoid, much?

In 1954, the year my wonderful sister Pat was born, we were graced with the 50's take on the King Kong myth. The poor "Creature from the Black Lagoon" was perfectly happy in his murky Amazonian swamp. Then those pesky American scientists disturbed him and that dumb Julie Adams riled him up with her slinky, one-piece, white bathing suit. Gillman's hormones went wild, the scientists had the weapons, and the beast was captured to be taken back to be displayed like a curiosity. This movie looks like it cost about as much as a '54 Nash Rambler. I swear when I saw it on Syracuse TV, I could see the zipper in the back of the Gillman's costume.

Next is a movie made in the same year my fabulous sister Sheila was born. I saw it years later on the Baron Daemon show when the Baron regaled central New York late Saturday nights. Dad watched it with me, and we laughed so hard we woke Mom up who had to shush us. The Giant Claw was an extraterrestrial buzzard composed (I almost wrote "composted") of antimatter. You can see in the photo the straggly feathers that looked as thought they had been pulled from some old lady's Sunday hat. The plot was the usual mishmash of brave military battling against the rampaging beast; it was the sight of the pitiful puppet that would set me off into helpless snorting. At the very end, our Boys in Air Force blue manage to shoot the thing down over New York Harbor and that last thing you see is a giant claw (what else) sinking into the pollution. It looked for all the world like it was waving bye-bye. Typical quote: "A bird. A bird as big as a Battleship!"

Before I go off to bed to dream of giant buzzards, rampaging carrots, and handsome aliens with English accents, I'd like to list a couple of honorable mention Vincent Price movies from this time period. There was the infamous Tingler, that was sort of gross on TV - some giant cockroach that crawled out of your spine when you were afraid and couldn't scream. Supposedly it was great in the theaters when it opened; the producer William Castle had the seats wired to vibrate or something and had uniformed nurses there in case you were overcome. Then there was The Fly - the 1950s version, NOT the overwrought Jeff Goldblum remake. An entire generation of schoolchildren grew up chanting "Help Me!" in falsetto because of the man who somehow got his head stuck on a fly's body. Don't you hate when that happens? You guesssed it - another scientist who had meddled with things best left alone.

And finally, there are Ed Wood's immortal epics, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and "Night of the Ghouls." I left them off my main list because I didn't see them until I was an adult. "Night of the Ghouls" wasn't even released until 1987, and trust me, if you enjoyed "Plan 9", "Night of the Ghouls" is even worse. My friend Eric got it on VHS and the first time I saw it, he had to stop the tape. When I heard the main character's name, Dr. Acula, I got an attack of the unstoppable giggles. I could only gasp, "That's so third grade." Dr. Acula is a fake psychic and his seances feature a couple of unique items flying through the air: a trumpet on visible wires, and the head of a black man with a flowerpot for a hat who keeps uttering, "Woaw woaw woaw." We never know why.

My next blog is going to be about the greatest black and white monster movie ever made. And I will brook no arguments on my choice. (Hint, hint.)

- Maureen

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Black and White will be back after this Brief Interruption

I have been happily gathering information for my next post about black and white movies - this one about monster movies of the 50's. What a shock! Some of the movies I wanted to discuss, such as The Blob, were actually color movies. Was my memory so faulty?

No. It's because we had only black and white TV at 613 Parry St. until 1965. While the movies may have been in color, I saw them in black and white. So now I'm researching my list of movies to find out which were originally b+w and which color.

So who among you knows what the above graphic is and under what conditions would you have seen it?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You, Veterans

Omaha Beach, Normandy Invasion, June 1944

Thank you today to our veterans. Thanks to the farmers and tradesmen who faced down the redcoats in Lexington and Concord on that April morning. Thanks to the 1st Minnesota Regiment that lost 215 of its 262 men in one charge at Gettysburg. Thanks to the doughboys of Word War I, who thought they had fought the war to end all wars - if only that were true. Thanks to Ted Williams, not only a Red Sox immortal, but a real hero of Korea. Thanks to all the men and women of my generation who went to Vietnam; sadly, the ones I knew then came back asking "Why?" Thanks to the Gulf War vets who suffered not just the adversities of war, but the haunting souvenir of mysterious illness. Thanks to the veterans and current service men and women of Afghanistan and Iraq. You deserve so much better than you have been given.

And finally, thanks to all the men and women who served for our country in World War II. A special remembrance to John J. McMahon, my late father, who was a Chief Gunner's Mate in the US Navy. He was at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

- Maureen

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Better in Black and White. Part 2

I am Maureen and I approved this message.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Better in Black and White. Part 1

Last night (Halloween), my sister Peggy and I watched a show about what one network considered to be the 100 scariest movies ever made. The list was heavy on slasher films which I find more disgusting than scary. My friends and I grew up watching black and white classics on two of the Syracuse TV stations. Channel 3 had Monster Movie Matinee on Saturday afternoons and Channel 9 had Baron Daemon, a really hokey vampire, late Saturday night. My dad and I didn't agree about much, but we did watch Baron Daemon together - sometimes in enjoyment of the craft of a classic film and sometimes laughing at the camp of a "Godzilla Meets Mothra" type movie.

One of the beauties of the Internet is that we can all make our own lists. So here is the first half of my list of favorite black and white horror movies.

The Classics

Dracula - 1931. Yes, the effects are far the other side of primitive. No, we don't consider Lugosi a particularly handsome man today. But the story of Dracula created an archetype of horror film and fiction; while this movie doesn't follow Bram Stoker's novel too closely, it does tell the story simply and chillingly. To me, every color version since has seemed an unnecessary attempt to tart up a story of night terror. Doesn't every kid fear what might come at them in the dark? Favorite quote: "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make. "

Frankenstein - 1931. Oh, those atmospheric sets in that creepy castle laboratory (pronounced lah-BORE-ah-toree). The make-up and costuming on the monster were magnificent. What really makes this movie for me are two things. First, Boris Karloff's ability to communicate the pathos and terror of that monster from underneath all that makeup. Second, a theme that Mary Shelley wrote about in the early 19th century resonated even more clearly in the 20th: man taking to himself powers that should be left only to God. From that theme, how many mad scientists in monster movies have we had? Favorite quote: "It's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!"

The Mummy - 1932. It's Karloff again, as the immortal Im-Ho Tep (yeah, the Mummy). I found him particulary creepy because I could just imagine the odor of centuries drifting off him while he was pursuing the modern girl who was his reincarnated love. And his wrinkled skin - guy could have used a good moisturizer. Generations of American kids learned that you don't desecrate ancient tombs, so this movie has that going for it. Favorite quote: "Death... eternal punishment for anyone who opens this casket. In the name of Amon-Ra the king of the gods."

The Invisible Man - 1933. To a kid in a strict home who went to a strict Catholic school, the thought of being invisible was most enticing. You could do ANYTHING and get away with it! Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Take that, Sister Anna! But I digress. As the Invisible Man, Claude Rains (mostly by voice alone) showed how that experience could drive a man insane. Favorite quote: "I meddled in things that man must leave alone."

King Kong - 1933. Poor Kong. Kidnapped from his home environment on Skull Island (No Greenpeace then!), hounded to death; as a kid, I rooted for him - not the humans. He was a tragic hero who never learned to avoid trashy bleached blondes. Favorite quote: "It was beauty killed the beast."

Bride of Frankenstein - 1935. Poor Elsa Lanchester. Worst hair day ever. Favorite quote: "Alone: bad. Friend: good! "

The Wolf Man - 1941. Just at the end of the classic horror movie era. Lon Chaney, Jr. touchingly portrayed the tragic Larry Talbot, unwilling werewolf, haunted by what he had become. Oooh, the terrors of that spooky forest. Favorite quote: "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

The rest of the 1940's didn't see too much of this genre. The real horrors were happening in the war. But then, in the 1950's, people regained their tastes for monsters. Some critics have said it was a response to the atom bomb. Who knows? All I know is, the 50's gave us some real camp classics. But that's a story for my next blog.

- Maureen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can Recycling Undermine My Image?

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I have recycled before it was called that. My recycling of gold came from my inability to give up on a ring that was reduced to melted lumps. Since that was not the look I was going for and I was determined not to buy more gold (at the time it was $35) I grabbed some tweezers and started pushing around the gold while heating it.
Another great moment in saving the planet came when I discovered that cats can easily adapt to newspaper instead of kitty litter. This also saves enough money to pay for the subscription.
Now I find that I am shipping allot of packages. I put my shawl pins and Cable Needle necklaces in beautiful jeweled tone silk zippered pouches. I hand write a personal note. I include a few brochures from friends' businesses. And then I take the whole shebang and wrap it in a ...oh my God, plastic bag from the local grocery chain. Besides being free, they are light, water proof and keep everything safe and rattle free. I imagine that the recipient uses the bag for a further purpose till the end of time. But what kind of first impression am I making? I gag at the thought of buying (gag motivator #1) fancy colored tissue which I would crumple up (gag motivator #2) to fill the box and cushion the enclosed item.
I have used newspaper which serves the same purpose but feels like a lateral move. My goal is to use something that is free and classy. Any suggestions?
Blog On!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You Know It's Fall On Cape Ann When...

Photo by Kate Glass, Gloucester Daily Times

...political signs crowd the Halloween lawn displays
...the wind shifts to the northwest and roars right down the funnel that is Folly Cove.
...the Dairy Train closes until spring.
...the fall foliage display at the Rockport dump is spectacular.
...whale watch season comes to an end.
...Christmas displays appear in the local stores by Columbus Day.'s cool enough to crochet a mohair shawl and be grateful for its warmth as you work.
...there is no more baseball.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Red Sox Winter

Rain at Fenway: Photo by BBC News

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.
The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.
You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Today, a day of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone."
--A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind"

Thank you, 2008 Red Sox. You did your best with what you had this year.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fiber-Craft Day, October 4

These are nurses, not nuns. Don't be scared!

If anyone will be in the area this weekend, we are having the second annual Fiber-Craft Day at the Rockport Community House at 58 Broadway Saturday, October 4th from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Mapquest directions here.

The event is free to the public and we encourage all ages to participate to explore and learn about the fiber arts and artists. Try your hand at knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet, observe new techniques in designer rug making, and more. There will be exhibitors selling yarn (Rob and Laurel from Coveted Yarn with yarn from $2 to $50 a skein) and other items. People will also be demonstrating their craft, for example, Leslie will be demonstrating metalwork. You can watch, learn, socialize, sit and work on your craft or whatever. While you are there, please cross the street and say hello to Helen at Helen Parker Textiles at 67 Broadway. My Pumpkin Hats are in the window there!

If you’d like, please bring something for the pot luck lunch. (I will be demonstrating eating during this part of the event.)

This event is hosted by several members of the Essex County Needlecraft Guild under the auspices of the Rockport Community League. For additional information, just email Leslie.

Be there or be square!

- Maureen

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Avast, me hearties!

Arrr, September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Get yer pirate name. Then talk like a pirate or yer a stinkin' blige rat. Swill some grog and caper to the hornpipe. Shiver me timbers!
- Captain Mary Bonney (Maureen the other 364 days)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy International Crochet Day!

Sept. 12 is International Crochet Day. To celebrate, I'm doing a couple of things. First, I'm showing off my latest Finished Object. This is a scarf from a CAL (Crochetalong) on Ravelry. The pattern is called the Sweet Loopy Scarf, and the yarn is the astonishingly gorgeous Rayon Metallic from Blue Heron. This photo does not do the yarn justice. It has subtle sparkle from gold to complement the Raspberry colorway, and the scarf actually has a little more magenta in the mix than shown here. I got the yarn from Coveted Yarn, an online store owned by friends Rob and Laurel Porter of Gloucester. Rob is adding new yarns every week and really growing the business. It's exciting to see it happen and because I live nearby, I get to see some of the new yarns "in person."

I'm also meeting my friend Helane at the Barnes and Noble in Burlington, MA today for coffee. I told Helane that I'm bringing crocheting with me. So, to celebrate the day - I'll be hooking in public.
- Maureen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Michael Phelps, the Red Sox, and Barack Obama

That title sounds like the punch line to a joke, doesn't it? I will now explain how I got 8 ravelympics medals to equal Phelps.

The tote bag surprised me by only taking 8 days. I had 9 days left in the Ravelympics, so I decided to challenge myself by doing a lot of little projects instead of another big one.

The five baby hats were done in my identity as part of Team Red Sox Nation. These baby hats are for charity. My friend Rob Porter owns, a website with many amazing yarns in varying price ranges (as well as lovely Leslie Wind shawl pins). Rob found out that Beverly (MA) Hospital didn't always have hats for the newborns. Thus was born his quarterly contest. If you donate any knit or crocheted hats to him for the hospital, each hat entered will be counted as an entry into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to his website. There is no limit on the number of hats you can send in. Please make them newborn or preemie size; the hospital will accept any type of yarn. To be eligible for this quarter's contest, all hats must be received by end of day on September 30. All hats should be sent to: Coveted Yarn, PO BOX 6015, Gloucester, MA 01930. Please include contact info so Rob can let you know if you win!! (If you include your e-mail he will include you in mini sales he runs for entrants.) Oh, and you do not have to use yarn purchased from Coveted Yarn. Rob says, "I'm not that guy."

So anyway, I got 5 gold medals for the hats. 2 more to go.

I then did two washcloths for Team Obama. We are part of another Ravelry group, Knitters for Obama, that is knitting and crocheting items for homeless veterans. The shelters told our organizers of the need for hats, washcloths, scarves, fingerless mitts, lap robes. With very little time to go in the Ravelympics, I just did the two washcloths. Only one is pictured above, because, really, do I need to take up bandwidth to show you another crocheted square? The Knitters for Obama are continuing on, and right now I'm working on a hat.

So that's the end of my story of the eight gold medals. What I really won was newfound knowledge about Kool-Aid dyeing, a beautiful tote bag, the satisfaction of charity work, and positive messages on Ravelry from the US, Canada, and Japan.

Sounds like a cute little event for crocheters and knitters, right? We got the final statistics from Ravelry yesterday and they are mind-blowing. During the Ravelympics, participants completed 6,764 finished objects using almost 2 million meters/1,240+ miles/2,183,131 yards of yarn in 56 countries.

- Maureen (known on Ravelry as RockportMo)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Michael Phelps and Me - Part 3

Yesterday, I left you with the agony of defeat. Today - the thrill of victory.

The night of the peas and carrots I went to bed discouraged. This bag was pledged on a deadline! Then, just before I woke in the morning, I had a dream. I dreamt I was walking through a palace in India. I was admiring all the beautiful textiles - curtains, bedspreads, pillows - in those brilliant, Bollywood colors. As soon as I woke up, I knew what to do. Before I'd even had my coffee, I dug out some polymer clay beads I'd made two years ago to match a skein of sari silk yarn. There was that same orange, along with the other colors you see in the bag above.

The red is Jamaica Kool-Aid which is a hibiscus flavor, the yellow is Mango (another ebay obtained color), and the pink is Slammin' Strawberry Kiwi mixed with a little Cherry to make it more intense. The Mango is a bit more saturated than you see in the photo, and it smells divine when in the crockpot.

Once I had the yarn dyed, the rest was a lot of work but relatively easy. I am a blazing fast crocheter and the design itself was simple. I made a 4" X 17" rectangle for the bottom of the bag in single stitch (it's the orange thing at the bottom of the bag in the photo). The rest of the bag was simply a single stitched tube sewn to that bottom rectangle. I changed colors when I felt like it. The handles are knitted I-cord sewn to the inside of the bag. The top row of the bag has metallic gold thread crocheted along with the Jamaica yarn. The gold was to honor Phelps as well as my other Olympics favs, the men's and women's US beach volleyball teams.

When the bag was sewn together, Helen Brown at Helen Parker Textiles let me felt the bag in her shop's washing machine. The Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool felted beautifully in just one cycle through the machine which is NOT the case for every wool. When it was dry, I posted it on Ravelry at the Bag'NTote Backstroke Finish Line. I had done it in 8 days.

But that's only 1 of my 8 medals! And what do the Red Sox and Barack Obama have to do with the other seven? You'll see next week. I'm off to house and cat sit until Monday. If you are very, very lucky, I'll get a photo of that cat I'm taking care of. He's so gorgeous he was named Romeo.

- Maureen

Michael Phelps and Me - Part 2

If you're of a certain age, you'll remember the intro to the ABC Wide World of Sports: "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat." Defeat was definitely in the air when I came up with this dye job.

My plan had changed, so the project needed brown yarn. I dyed a nice big skein with the odiferous Tamarindo Kool-Aid and got rust instead of brown - a faded rust that would never go with the bright orange. What to do with this skein? Back to the internet I went and found a reference to mixing Tamarindo with Lemon-Lime to get a forest green. OK, evergreens are still part of the autumn forest, right? Back to the crock pot with all the precious Lemon-Lime I had, only to be found at a supermarket about 20 miles from home (Hannaford's in West Peabody).

The above photo is what I got - faded rust with blotches of green. This disaster is known on Ravelry as the "peas and carrots" yarn. Hideous. My fault - I had misread the post about the colors. You don't overdye Tamarindo with Lemon-Lime - you mix the two flavors together in the initial dye bath. Knowledgeable people also said that if you want a good brown, you should mix together Orange and Grape. Have not tried that yet.

Kool-Aid dyeing fact: Kool-Aid is an acid dye. If you read the ingredients on the label, the first ingredient is citric acid. To remove Kool-Aid dye from yarn, you need a base to counteract the acid. Baking soda in water is the gentle, accessible base recommended. Have not tried that yet either, although one of these days, the peas and carrots are going for a baking soda bath.

As you can see, Kool-Aid is rich in food coloring. Hence its use as a dye. If you stick a hand into the dye bath to push the yarn down so that it's completely submerged, you will have an instantly dyed hand. For example, a person in Rockport possibly might have had a bright orange hand. (Useful to know if you want to be an Oompa-Loompa for Halloween.) To remove the dye from your skin, you can simply rub it with baking soda. Yes, I have tried that and it works.

So now I have normal colored skin, overcooked peas and carrots yarn that I can't use, and bright orange yarn that I have to use. But with what?

Believe it or not, the answer came to me in a dream.

- Maureen

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michael Phelps and Me - Part 1

Maureen here. What does an AARP-eligible non-swimmer from Rockport have in common with Michael Phelps? We both got 8 gold medals. His you know about. Mine were from the Ravelympics. Ravelry is a website for knitters and crocheters. The Ravelympics were held during the actual Olympics. We were to begin our projects during the actual Opening Ceremonies and finish them by the end of the actual Closing Ceremonies. We posted our planned projects on Ravelry, and the idea was that the project(s) were to be a challenge.

Medal #1: Boy, was my tote bag a challenge. I decided to Kool-Aid dye yarn, crochet a large tote bag, knit the I-cord handle, and felt the whole shebang, all during the 17 days of the Olympics. Mind you, I had only Kool-Aid dyed yarn once before. I found information about
the color orange being used as a protest against China's continuing repression of human rights. So I decided on orange. First I had to skein all my yarn (Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool) on a yarn swift so that it would dye evenly. This was permissible before the Opening Ceremonies, so off I went to Roseann Hunter's inn to use her swift. I spent 3 and a half hours doing it and came away with my first event injury - muscle spasms in my back. Good thing Advil is not considered a performance enhancing drug by the Ravelympics Testing Lab.

Next, I completed my dyeing research with the help of some very nice people on Ravelry and started my Kool-Aid dyeing in the crockpot as Leslie had previously blogged.

I used the Mandarina-Tangerine Kool-Aid and my yarn came out construction cone orange. That was NOT going to go with the pale peach and coral I had planned. After I let it dry for a day, the color did not mellow at all. I then tried overdyeing the orange with some Tamarindo Kool-Aid, a Latin flavor that I could only get on ebay. It's a brownish color with an odd odor when combined with the water and white vinegar in the crockpot. Alas, it didn't have much effect. So bright orange I had.

Plan B: I decided to do orange, brown and red. I still had the orange as my blue state, liberal protest and the colors would be nicely autumnal. Ha! That's what I thought.

Part 2 of this story tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yarn in the Crockpot, Jewelry in the Steamer

Being a Taurus is appeals to my practical nature to find another use for something that I already own. It appeals to my cheap side too.
I used to have an ultrasonic cleaner that heated the water and then vibrated to clean off any buffing compound left in the nooks and crannies (hard not to picture an English muffin). Most days it was on for eight hours or more. Then I discovered that I could buff something, put it in a heat proof mug or bowl COVERED in water with a squish of Dawn detergent (trust me on the brand choice)) and microwave for about one minute. At this point I do some stretching exercise. Using an old toothbrush I gently dislodge any stubborn compound. If I do that ten times a day the equation is something like; eight plus hours of electricity vs ten minutes of electricity.
OK, now let's talk steamers and crock pots. As I write, Maureen has yarn lounging in a bath of Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid in the crock pot. She is overdyeing a skein that was previously dyed with Tamarindo Kool-Aid. Evidently you need the crock pot for the heat to set the color better. Nearby, on the stove is the beautiful steamer my Uncle Herbert gave my mom many holidays ago. Inside are shawl pins and Cable Needle Necklaces. The steamer basket allows me to agitate the hot water to clean everything at once. I always laugh to myself when I visualize the response if my New Your City living uncle who rarely cooked saw his gift being used in this manner.
Anyone have any blender suggestions?
Blog On!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Backpack, Sweet Backpack

At first I couldn't explain this new pattern of my repeated visits to eBay in search of black backpacks. I had bought several. Some made me reasonably happy. Some furthered the learning curve down "What I Don't Want Street". Going down that road helped me to discover my preference for backpacks with lots of obvious and accessible compartments. Then I realized that since I was travelling for work more than I ever had before and since I am a Taurus, (a home centered sign), a backpack has become an extension of home to me. Compartments are rooms. A central compartment that is able to hold my massive planner equals a large family room. An area with loops to hold pens and pencils plus a notebook is the office. No matter the size, it sure is easier to clean.
Blog On!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time In Another Dimension

That is what house sitting is like. There I am in a space that has no emotional hold on me. In my case it was only a few miles down the road and yet I felt light years away. The first thing I noticed was the instant calmness of mind. At home everywhere I looked sparked some thought that started with an "ought to", as in " Oh, I ought to clean that, organize that, attend to that." I watched movies, read or visited with the upstairs neighbor, my friend Grace. I would get up and head home to work. Each time I returned to the studio I was aware of the jarring feeling of coming into such a chaotic mess. I referred to my workspace as "studio verite". Now I am thinking that a little faking the level of organization and cleanliness might be better for business not to mention my own peace of mind.
Two weeks of living like that have made me promise myself that August is the month to devote to making the change. I just have to change my motto from "If in doubt don't throw it out"
Gracie, I owe you big time!
Blog On!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Motivation By Osmosis

Recently I went to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem to show Lynn, the gift shop buyer, some new designs. Their current show, "Wedded Bliss" (oxymoron?) inspired several new designs despite my cynical view on that topic.
After the meeting I sat in the atrium while waiting for my friend, Alexander. I just sat and felt the energy of the place, the warmth of the sun and the people around me. More a "human doing" than a "human being", sitting still is not easy for me but I was powerless to do otherwise in this setting. That was last week and the motivation that I soaked up is still powering me.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Redo- A New Concept

My friend, Lauren came by the other day. I was friends with her mom, Suzanne first, but Lauren and I have developed our own friendship of equals. I remember when she was born that it took her parents three months to name her. And Lauren was the first of the next generation to pass me on her outgrown clothing. She is now twenty six and living the kind of life that you would want for someone you love. Sitting in my studio with her mom and I, Lauren tells how her long term boyfriend asked her to marry him. It seems as though his first attempt, undermined by his runaway enthusiasm, was a bit lacking. Lauren offered him a "redo". And so, the next day he asks as if for the first time, perfectly.
What if we all did this for the people in our own lives? What if we had that option ourselves?
What harm would there be in saying, "This did not work out as I envisioned. May I have a "redo' "? We could then go on to undo the negative action and leave a more positive one in it's place. I have seen the future and it includes "redo's" for all!
Blog On!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Someone Gave Me A Man For My Birthday

But he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Gosh, I'll miss him

Blog On!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

59! Who me!

Today is my birthday and the whole thing feels surreal. How can I be this age? How could so much time have passed since my 40th birthday when older friends said that forty is so young and I thought they were crazy? How could I have changed so much in some ways and remain so stuck in others? How could it be that I am just starting to feel like I am getting the hang of what living is all about?
Since my last birthday I have lost two family members. That does kind of change my perspective on getting older. Gratitude reshapes a lot of perspectives. And choices. This is definitely the year to recalibrate. Everything, from who I let into my life and why to attitudes that need to be updated is open for examination. This is going to take constant mindfulness, but hey, I've got the rest of my life to do it.
Blog On!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spinning Off the Bunny

My booth at the Jamaica Fiber Festival had the advantage of being in the perfect spot to see Bella, short for Portabella, sit contentedly in Ruth's lap as Ruth "spun off the bun".

I love this show for the small town factor. The sense of community is strong enough for even those of us not living there to feel. And then there is the display of fiber and fiber related items. I was also in the perfect position to see Green Mountain Spinnery's booth which was filled with beautiful yarns and sweaters and other items made from the yarn.

Lunch was a varied selection of sandwiches plus a fabulous corn chowder. Despite the too good a price of $1 for two deserts (home made) I resisted.

Thank you Margi's Muse, , for making this happen.

Blog On!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pirate Sheep!?

One of the drawbacks to being a vendor at a sheep and wool show is that I miss some unique events that I would never get to see in the day to day world. This event at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Show was documented by my friend, Alexander. I got to know him through our weekly Sea Shanty nights at Cameron's Restaurant in Gloucester, MA. Under the auspices of the Schooner Adventure,
the group has been singing together on a regular basis for a few years.
Long before I knew he was a talented photographer,
I was attracted to his singing. Not just his voice, but his comfortable delivery and choice of material made me curious how he got to that point while I still hung back.
Discovering that his longtime friend, Richard lived close to the fair and was willing to put us up made a road trip possible. So for two days I "personed" my booth while Alexander roamed his first sheep and wool festival. How I wished I could have put a video camera on him so I could see all the events that he was photographing. His photo of two children in costumes that co-ordinated with their lambs is a good example.
Richard's house was way neater than mine and very comfortable. The biggest hint that a single guy lived there was the array of remotes lined up on the arm of the spacious couch in front of the high tech TV. Were it in my house I would get no work done. Since both men are open conversationalists, our topics were wide ranging and interesting. The only downside was that I find myself recovering from an overdose of second hand testosterone.
Blog On!,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother - Daughter Socks

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Show was a joy for me this year . First of all the weather was cool but mostly sunny and no rain unlike the flood of two years ago.
Secondly I got to share my booth with Judy,

which meant I could run to visit Chris Morgan, the ladies' room and get food (oh those cookies from the Rolling in the Dough booth. (I think I remembered the name correctly). Making and keeping the connections at these events is key to our "close knit" community.

And then there is the parade of fashions! The top jacket stopped me in my tracks. I sadly forgot to get her name, but the jacket looked like she had such fun!

The sock story was a sweet Mother's Day discovery. Mom, Denise
eight pairs of socks for her birthday! The rust orange pair on the left is one of those eight. The striped sock on the right, modeled by Denise, is knitted from the remainders of those eight pairs. Those are the kinds of gifts really show caring.
Blog On!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Three Shows, in Three States, in Three Weeks

This time of year is a polar opposite Christmas season for me. It is that insane over the top activity but I don't just stay home and let the world come to me. One of the biggest surprises is that I actually like all the aspects of it. Well, that is assuming that I have made and brought enough items in the right categories and the right styles to feel confident.
This will be my third New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Show ( http://http// ). I know to bring things to make while I sit there. I know to bring healthy snacks as the booth with huge wonderful cookies is just a few places away.
The best part of these shows is seeing the response to new designs. The Internet is wonderful for selling but nothing beats hearing the response from knitters and other fiber artists who are motivated to come to these shows.
I will post pictures and stories next week.
Blog On!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Further Down The Cable Needle Road

The best part of the creative process is that many times I come up with something that surprises me. It was reading about the Yarn Harlot's cable needle disaster that made me think of the necklace idea. That done, I got to thinking that knitters use different size cable needles and we wouldn't want to have to wear more than one necklace and ...............the two needle pendant idea asserted itself.
Blog and Stitch On!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Now I Know

Many years ago I received this sweater as a gift from my friend, Suzanne. I wore it to "A Knitter's Fantasy" in Ohio and received so many compliments and requests to see the back side. So, years and years later I would like to reissue my gratitude.
Thanks, Suzanne LeVerte!
I love this sweater.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

And the Cable Stitch Holder Necklace Is Born!

I was reading the the Yarn Harlot,
a bit ago as she was knitting the Vintage Sock pattern from the Tsarina of Tsocks
Things were going along great until she dropped the sock with a cable needle in place and watched as the portion that was coming out to perfection, unraveled. In a flash the idea for this design came to mind. The tubular sterling top can be threaded with a chain, piece of leather or yarn and worn around the neck as jewelry. The switchback "needle" is made of bronze that is hammered slightly and polished. My theory was that the curves would hold the cable stitches securely. Having been a jeweler for many years I know there is a difference between theory and reality. I would be interested in feedback from the other knitters out there, please.
Blog (and cable) On!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fiber Fellowship at Lariviere House in Richford, VT

So here I am in a strange place with time on my hands. I had brought yarn and crochet hooks with me to make Linda's grandchildren each a hat. Hats are pretty quick to make and so I started some baby hats for my friend, Rob's baby hat contest hosted from his site All the hats are then donated to the Beverly hospital (MA). Having packed in a frenzy, I had stuffed all the yarn I could fit into one bag, but I wasn't thinking color at the time. I asked Linda where there was a yarn shop and she points me down the street to Lariviere House. Shirley Jewett opened her shop in 1994. She had just what I needed to round out my color options. But knitting and crochet were just two of the ten options Shirley offered. Lessons and materials to do Tole painting, basket making, beading, jewelry making, sewing, quilting, smocking and etching were also available. What ever interested Shirley she learned and was willing to pass on her knowledge. It was a great relief to sit in her shop surrounded by all the ingredients to go in ten different directions and just talk. Here was a woman who I had just dropped in on in the middle of her work day who gave me me what I needed most: a quiet place to focus on the joy of creating.
Blog On!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Richford, Vermont

Remember when you were a kid and you marveled at being able to stand on a boundary line and be in two states at once? Here is the view from Linda Pigeon's house looking out from the USA and seeing Canada.
The first morning I met Jill and Porky, owners of the River Street House of Pizza. Besides their pizza, it was the only place in town for breakfast. Think of it as "Cheers" with eggs, toast and coffee and no beer. (Well, none that I saw.) The center table was always filled with an ever changing cast of hungry characters. By day two it was my seating of choice. Thanks to Linda, who made sure I met everbody, I understood how easy it must have been for my brother to fit in.
Throughout my five days there I kept thinking how sorry I was for not making the trip to visit him sooner. How much fun it would have been to sit at the Riverside's center table with him and see his comfort in this community. That sense of belonging was not evident in our family and I wonder if this may have been the first time he experienced it so fully.
Blogging On..........

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Off to Richford, VT

Instead of getting to visit Jon, my other brother, Rick and I head today to Richford, VT to meet the people and see the town where he had been the happiest in his life. I look foreword especially to meeting Linda Pigeon who helped my brother with his photographic submissions and made it possible for his work to appear in Vermont Life. I know that was one his proudest achievements.
More upon my return.
Blog On!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Back in the Real World

OK, I am back home to my normal local but nothing is normal. I have lived the last few days on cold cuts, Cadbury Malted Milk Easter Eggs and coffee feeling like a hypocrite after my eulogy referred to Jon's poor eating habits. Plans have been made, weather permitting for a gathering in Richford to meet his friends and see the place where he had been the happiest.
Still blogging hanging on for the ride,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Healing Through Humor

It is the saddest of days. What is left of my biological core family and those who are "core by reality" are gathered in a small room to say goodbye to Jon. As tough as this is I know it will not be real to me until I had actually see him. I quietly wait at the far end out of a need to brace myself. Finally I move to the side of the casket and look down. My hope that a mistake had been made and that it was another person found in his apartment is gone. He is wearing a suit and tie. He hated wearing clothes like that. I would have dressed him in his favorite old jeans and a sweatshirt or Tee shirt. On his feet would have been the very sneakers that tramped for miles on his endless photo quests. Merri had picked these clothes and since he would now spend eternity next to his mother I think she did him a favor to make sure he was wearing clothing that would have her vote of approval. I notice the tie. I lean down to look again. My brother is wearing a tie with the subtle pattern of horse's asses, tails swept to the side and no one had noticed but me. In that darkest of moments the room is suddenly filled with laughter. I know in my heart that Jon had really picked the tie.
Slogging, Blogging On,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Another Step in the Process

Today I received a call from the Vermont State office that did the autopsy. Dr Bundock told me that although he had never had a previous heart attack, he did have severe heart disease, severe coronary artery disease, emphysema and high blood pressure. Perhaps he had symptoms. He did mention to someone that he was thinking about going to the doctor. Anyone who knew Jon could never imagine him living with the limitations that all this was capable of dispensing. It is an odd comfort, but a comfort none the less.
Bravely Blogging On!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Brother's Keeper ?

If someone is a danger to another the decision for intervention is clear cut. But if the person makes life choices that undermine their own life how do we justify judgement? My brother smoked, ate unhealthy food and was lax in his health care. If I had treated him like Rapunzel he might be here today but he probably would not be speaking to me and rightly so. I have been on the receiving and giving end of judgements and no good comes from either position. The toughest part is to accept that I have and deserve no power in this situation.
Working through the process.......
and still Blogging On!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jon Wind 1951 - 2008

How can this be? In my mind I thought we would have years to work through our "stuff". We'd get to be buddies. Surely we would get to that point where we could laugh about the weird growing up we had with an undercurrent of knowing. My worst fear was that his smoking would cause lung cancer. I accepted there was nothing I could do or say (having tried both) to change his viewpoint or actions.
This morning I received a call saying he had been found by friends. He had not shown up for breakfast at a restaurant. Our dad had years of that long, slow slide into home plate and our brother had but minutes of that process.
This is nothing like the the death of my Dad on November, 13th. Unexpected and too soon, it feels like riding a bucking bronco.
Trying to Blog On,

Monday, February 25, 2008

Guitar PIcks from Credit Cards!

It is my inability to throw things out that is the essence of my creativity and housekeeping, such as it is. Everything can be something else useful and fun given the time and focus. I have bags of wine corks waiting to be bulletin boards. At the time when I was collecting them from friends I remember thinking they were on the endangered list due to the new impostures that pretended to be corks. So I have the corks but not the focus (which leads to the time). So today I renewed my AAA membership and was holding the outdated card. Need I say more.
Blog On!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Housecat Vs. Bloodhound, or "Who's The Boss?"

This noble face belongs to Rufus who visited yesterday with his owner Sara. He has a gentle, sensitive disposition and the talented nose of bloodhound legend.

While Sara was in the studio with Leslie, Rufus went exploring. He immediately discovered the mini garbage can containing the cat food and flipped the top off. He immersed his whole snout in the food to chow down and had to be dragged away. Not deterred, he trotted around, gathering scents. The cats, especially Shug, were generally displeased with this intruder, although Nefertiti seemed more fascinated than scared. Shug was emitting operatic cat growls, like a feline version of Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni.

After Rufus was given several dog biscuits, he unsuccessfully tried to get into the litter boxes, compost container, and (again) the cat food can. He discovered the cats' water bowl under a small table and slurped up a drink enthusiastically. Guess all that cat food gave him a powerful thirst. Alas, Shug saw her chance. She crouched on top of the table, silently. When Rufus pulled his big noggin from under the table, Shug smacked him with her left paw right on top of his crown.

"AWOOOOOOO!" bawled the hound. Humiliated, Rufus ran off to his mom in the studio.

Shug posed on top of the table, puffed out to a most impressive size. In her view, the proper hierarchy of beings had been enforced.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vagina Mono-blog

I can't let the situation with Jane Fonda and the Vagina Monologues go by without a comment.
Several years ago I auditioned for a part in that play that was being put on by a local HAWK group at the West End Theater in Gloucester, MA. I'd seen the show and thought it would be great fun except for one monologue. It had made a strong impression on me for it's heavy use of one word that I never liked: the "C" word. That part did go to Sara Slifer who was young and edgy with a lithe and strong dancer's build. She more than did it justice. Watching her perform nightly definately shifted me past a long held view point to a less charged place. I got "The Village" which is the voice of a young woman who had been gang raped by soldiers. I cried when I read it cold for the audition. Of the several times I performed it I always had a strong reaction. It was one of the few monologues that did not elicit laughter and wild applause. At the end of the monologue I'd walk back to my chair while the audience sat in shocked silence. I felt uncomfortable but I wanted to do that part to honor the woman and her words. During the run of the show I performed about five different parts. The lighter ones were fun to do but they lacked the satisfaction of The Village. I loved every aspect of that experience. Directed by and thanks to Lynda Robinson, the group of local women pulled together in a short time. The sum of the parts was definately greater than the (w)hole. A few years later the process was repeated with another run and a slightly different cast with the same positive connections. I never performed The Village again.
Just when I believe that this current generation has the benefit of all those hard won changes, I see that some things persist. I guess I assumed that due to the openness of all kinds of language being used that the shock value of some words has been muffled. This morning Meredith Vieira is interviewing Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologues and Jane Fonda who was asked to perform the very monologue that I had dreaded. My guess is that she just said the name of the monologue knowing it would draw attention but knowing that in this context there was no pussy footing around the subject. Later Meredith Vieira apologises for causing anyone discomfort. But in the context of the subject which is more important, imparting the power and purpose of this play while educating the viewers or making sure no one is uncomfortable? It is through examining what makes us uncomfortable and why that helps difuse out dated responses. By skirting discomfort growth is curtailed.
Blog On!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Sanity (Such as it is), One Stitch at a Time

I have never been someone who liked meetings. Put me in a room where I have to sit still, listen to lots of discussion that I may or may not find relevent and monitor the other channels of thought that are running like stock quotes at the bottom of my mental screen is a stretch for me. Until I discovered the calming power of fiber flowing through my fingers on the way to a crochet hook or a knitting needle. Part of it is the softness passing over my fingers. Another calming component is the the repetitive motion needed for each stitch. The only variable is the color that the mood of the moment craves. This morning's choice was a multi-jewel toned mohair blend with a thin synthetic strand of sparkle riding shotgun. Each saturated hue blotted out exstraneouss thought. I sat quietly knitting, listening, absorbing.
School would have been so different had I known this sooner.
Blog On!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rest in Peace

Ch. Genesis Flashback to Nana, CGC
AKA, Joon Bugg
July 27, 1993 - February 5, 2008

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us." Robert Louis Stevenson

- Maureen

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The Recipe is Just a Launching Pad"

The minute I heard Abby Austin say that line I knew it would be my blog launching pad. In the spirit of my New Year's resolution to lead a more ballanced life, I had stopped at Annie B's house to say hi. Many months ago she had loaned my a spinning wheel and told me to come for lessons (resolution #3) and yet the time never seemed to open up for me. So seeing that I had some time to spare on my way home from an errand I dropped in. Sitting near a wood stove, at the sunny table, the three of us each pull out a current fiber project (two knitting, one crochet) and talk. Abby lives way up in NH and is living the sustainable life many of us talk. I try one of her healthy and delicious (no, that is not an oxymoron ) muffins. That leads to a discussion about recipes and the two types of people who cook: those that follow the recipe and those for whom it is just a suggestion. Yes, I belong to the latter group and proud of it, though I may not always be proud of the results of my efforts. Remember my motto, "If it is not brain surgery or sky diving, the outcome doesn't have to be perfect."
Blog On!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Serverus Snape, Jean-Luc Picard, the Outlaw Josey Wales, and a Lifeguard

Maureen here being totally silly and shallow.

I have been inspired by my friend Kathleen Valentine's blog about gorgeous men who could play the character of Baptiste from her novel The Old Mermaid's Tale. I got thinking about what makes men attractive, and one of those attributes for me is the voice. Here's part of my "Gee, I wish I could be awakened by that voice on the pillow next to me" list. I'm limiting myself to actors this time (that means no Barry White) and I'm sure I'll think of more as soon as I publish this blog.

  1. Alan Rickman. Yeah, I know Severus Snape has greasy hair and a tendency to bully our hero Harry. But whether he's playing the lovelorn Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee and Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility or the totally evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard, that silky, insinuating voice hypnotises me. My rental recommendation is Truly, Madly, Deeply.

  2. Patrick Stewart. He'll always be Jean-Luc Picard to me, the thinking woman's starship captain. Even when he was Locutus the Borg, the resonant voice held the promise of his inner humanity. Stewart is also on my list of Men Who Look Great Bald or the Yul Brynner Legacy. My rental recommendation is I, Claudius where Stewart is part of a magnificent cast - and I forgive him the hair.

  3. Clint Eastwood. The young Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide was, actually, sort of raw. Once he matured. he developed that slow, measured delivery that is quintessentially American and incredibly sexy in its control of its power. I prefer the Westerns to the Dirty Harry series. My rental recommendation is Eastwood's first directorial effort: Play Misty for Me.

  4. Sam Elliott - another American cowboy. Here's another man who entrances me with his deep drawl even when he plays a black-hearted villian like Dr. John Hill in Murder in Texas. He's more known for his cowboy roles in The Sacketts, Conagher or The Shadow Riders. My offbeat recommendation is The Big Lebowski where he's billed as "The Stranger."

That's all I can think of for now. Feel free to add your own!

Monday, January 21, 2008

In Praise of the Ballanced LIfe

One of my New Year's resolutions was to lead a more balanced life. People who have never been self employed think that those of us who are can just put a "gone fishing" sign out and head for the door with an unencumbered heart and mind. That is not my experience. Too many times I find that wherever I may be I am running a stream of ought to's, have to's and should of's through my mind. It feels like my time is divided between social and business efforts with no clear boundary between the two. What I have almost none of is just be and recharge time. And so today I spent the afternoon at my friend, Sheila's house sitting with a group of women knitting, talking and eating. More than I am normally, I am invested in the moment. Maybe because I have allowed myself to slow down. Maybe because all my senses are fully engaged by the good conversation, the wonderful food ( a special thanks to Ginney for the killer brownies and knitting pointers) or maybe it is the calming quallity of feeling and seeing yarn pass through my hands as a single strand on it's way to a worthy end. At this day's end I am like a car with a full tank. I like this resolution.
Blog On!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Haiku for a Nor'easter

Lacy apple tree

Our marsh has misplaced its birds

January storm.

- Maureen

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thank You, Osram Sylvania

I don't think of myself as cheap. I like to think of myself as having smart money values. So, I am standing in Shaw's the other night holding a $1o* light bulb and I am thinking that this bulb will last for five years, save me money and make it possible to easily knit and crochet this time of year after 4:00 PM. Put in that "light", $10 is cheap. I head home with the bulb and who cares what else where, once in the door I put my bags down and reach for the the bulb that will change my life. Fort Knox might be easier to open than this package. I employ some mighty scissors to start the process. To be safe I use my hands to slowly ease off the plastic, form fitting package. (Here I start having flashbacks to sixth grade and my first experience with stockings and a girdle.) The packaging gives in an unpredictable way that launches the bulb toward it's date with destiny. I am left in the dim with the equivalent of $10 in a thousand pieces on the floor. I sweep. I piss and moan. I call the free number on the package for no reason and am told that the office is open in the morning.
Bright and early the next morning I call the office to explain my difficulty and am told they are redoing the packaging. I ask if perhaps I might get a coupon or something.........please.
They are sending me (as in direct, to my home) a new bulb.
It really helps to speak up in a nice way.
I have seen the light!
*ok, it was really $9.99. $10 is more dramatic.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Start the New Year Singing

For as far back as I can remember, I have always loved music and singing. For some reason I could never let myself relax and sing in pubic. For years I would go to Chick and Ellen's music parties and go home, kicking myself with no note solo sung. I did start sitting closer and closer to the middle of the room where all the action began. As my knowledge of the lyrics and melodies increased, I sang more often and louder. Sheila Jones approached me and said she was getting a group of woman together to just sing for fun. We'd do doo wop, oldies and Christmas carols when the time came. My love for the material pushed me past my fear. Each time I went to the bathroom I imagined a conversation that went something like, "Well, she's not very good. Who wants to tell her?" By then I knew enough to know I was thinking down a road that did not exist. (a belated thank you to all my therapists)
Over time, I discovered that singing was a natural antidepressant no matter how lacking in confidence I might feel. Was that due to the extra oxygen? The camaraderie of the group?
I just knew I had to find an on-going singing group. Enter "Three Sheets to the Wind". Loosely steered by Peter and Joanne Sousa, the group meets most Tuesday nights at Cameron's for singing and pizza. The rules are loose. I guess it boils down to waiting until the current song is finished and keeping the songs sea-oriented. First I joined in on the easily learned choruses. Depending on who I was sitting near, I took notice of the harmonies and experimented with some myself. I felt like one tine on a giant tuning fork. It felt great! But I wanted to contribute more to the group and that demanded learning my "own song" Enter the Johnson Girls , a woman's A Capella group that does sea shanties. Here was a whole CD of songs that I liked enough to learn.
Because of Peter and Joanne's association with the Schooner Adventure, the group sings publicly to foster awareness for both the Adventure and the music. The group was singing at Rockport's New Years Eve celebration. As one of my New Year's resolutions was to be more daring in my creativity, I knew I had to pick a song and just do it. I had to just focus on "doing" and let go of the "great" part. And I did just that. My level of nervousness was much less than the level of self-recrimination I knew I would feel if I didn't sing. Now I have to let go the image of the group needing a hook to get me off stage next year.
Blog (and sing) On!