Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter Comes to Kalamazoo (Finally!)

What a winter this has not been. I'm looking at the snowfall records, for this season so far. By Christmas day, the total for the season was a mere .8 inches. We got several inches over the week following Christmas, and then it was scarce again til this past week. Finally, hurrah! Real snow: 2 inches on Monday; 1.3 inches on Tuesday; 4.2 on Wednesday; 3.1 on Friday.

It was also bitter cold this week - the max temps from Monday to Friday were 19, 11, 17, 17, 24 (Friday felt really warm!).

But look at the beauty:

Wednesday - looking at the park,
after shoveling the driveway

Friday - when Bonnie and I finally ventured out again.
This was on Highgate, I think...

Saturday - when it warmed up to
28, and the sun came out

Saturday, on Highgate

I love winter, and will enjoy this snowy weather while it lasts (although I do prefer temps in the 20's, rather than the teens!).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Would You Like a Hand-Knit Scarf?

Updated 3/4/13: the websites for donating to GOTR are no longer available. But you can still donate by cash or check (made out to Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run) - contact me at RobinVanderRoest @ gmail dot com to coordinate payment. Thanks!

Today, I attended a beading workshop, sponsored by the Kalamazoo Knitting Guild, and taught by Jill June, of Studio June Yarns. (Jill is a local dyer, based here in Kalamazoo!) The workshop fee included yarn, beads, a crochet hook, and a pattern. The yarn is really yummy - 100% superwash merino - and my skein is a lovely caramel color, in subtle tonal shades.

We started with this

The pattern is the Kal-Haven Trail Scarf. From the pattern description:
The pattern is named for a 33 mile hiking/biking trail in Southwest Michigan, built on an old railroad bed. The trail runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven and is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts.
The scarf suggests the old railroad, and its ties, and features a lace edge and decorative beads. You can go to this link to see pictures of the completed scarf.

Here is what I accomplished today on my not-yet-completed scarf:

When I finish knitting this scarf, I will give it away, randomly choosing the recipient from a list of folks who contribute to Girls on the Run. For each $5 you contribute, you'll have one chance of winning the scarf.

Why Girls on the Run?

My friend Jess and her daughter are raising funds for the Girls on the Run organization here in Kalamazoo. Here's what Jess has to say:
Girls on the Run is an amazing organization that works with girls in third through fifth grade. It is a program that teaches healthy living, goal setting, and most importantly it teaches girls to be happy with who they are. [My daughter] had the opportunity to participate in Girls on the Run when she was in third, fourth, and fifth grade, and participated in Girls on Track (for middle schoolers) last year in sixth grade. This year she decided that instead of participating in the program, she would run her first half-marathon to raise money for this organization that she loves so much. In Kalamazoo, the goal is to allow every girl to have the opportunity to participate regardless of their ability to pay; most of the participants in Kalamazoo receive a scholarship for part or all of the program. We are committed to raise $600 total ($300 each) and this is enough money to sponsor four girls through the program.
They completed their goal of running the half-marathon together, but are still working to reach their fund-raising goal.

After running the Grand Rapids half-marathon
Please consider making a donation (and maybe winning the Kal-Haven Trail Scarf). If you want to send a check, send me a message at RobinVanderRoest @ gmail dot com, and we'll sort out the details. Sorry - the online sites are no longer available. But you can still donate via check!  To donate online, you can use these links:

Jessica's donation page

Jessica's daughter's donation page

Thanks for supporting this worthwhile cause. I haven't decided when I'll give the scarf away - but you can donate today!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Morgantown in November

I'm still playing blog catch-up, so today's post will be about my trip to visit Lori, back in November (if I can ignore the whining and pleading from Bonnie, who wants to Go For A Walk RIGHT NOW).

It's been two months since my trip to West Virginia, so I'm sure my recap will be limited and incomplete and (possibly) inaccurate. Hopefully, Lori will correct and clarify and amend in the comments.

My drives there and back were uneventful. I had good weather, and plenty of podcasts on my iPod, so I was well entertained.

(My most eventful trip was in November 2008, when I got a flat tire driving home, and had to wait while it was repaired. Then, as I was finally back on the road, I realized I'd forgotten my laptop at Lori's house. I headed back toward Lori's, and she met me halfway, at a Starbucks.  We shared a brief snack (hot chocolate! cake!) before I started for home again. What a long day that was!)

I love my visits with Lori - pleasant, relaxing, low-stress. We play Scrabble (Lori always wins), and eat pizza from the bakery down the hill from her. (We did have pizza this time, right?)

We always do lots of walking (and talking). This time, we walked a trail along the river on Saturday, and just around her neighborhood on Sunday. (A walk around Lori's neighborhood really is a bit of a workout, owing to the rather steep landscape.)

Before we could head out for our walk on Saturday, we had to wait for the high school marching band - they were practicing, and just happened to pass by Lori's house as we were leaving:

Here are some photos from the walk along the river. It was a beautiful day, and we didn't need much in the way of coats (my recollection is that we each wore a sweater, and ended up carrying them).


I took this picture in Lori's neighborhood.


Our visits also include adventures. After resting from our walk, we drove down to Bridgeport, where we visited The Nest, a yarn store that Lori had discovered. Of course I bought some souvenir yarn:

Madeline Tosh Sport

I only bought one skein, which probably was a mistake. I should never buy just one skein. But I'll find something to do with this yumminess, even so. (Perhaps a delicious hat....)

They also had some wonderful shop samples. Lori admired their Clapotis shawl, and I was attracted by a cabled scarf (I first wrote 'attacked by a scarf,' by mistake, but maybe that is an apt word when talking about yarn shops and yarn). The woman working there, however, didn't know what the pattern was, and since it was near closing time, and since they'd had an open house all day, and since she seemed to be holding the fort alone, I didn't want to make her track it down. But I did take a photo, and recently tried to email the shop to ask about it.

Alas, the email bounced back to me, and I thought all was lost. I decided to check their blog, even though my last perusal had indicated it was pretty inactive. But look! they must have a made a New Year's Resolution, because when I checked their blog, not only did they have a new entry, but it featured The Scarf, and listed both the yarn and the pattern:

(I've since tracked down and bought the pattern, and added the Elbaite scarf to my rather lengthy to-knit list.)

Back to my visit with Lori... We had dinner at the Provence Market, right next to The Nest. As I recall, we had the special, which was a delicious salmon dinner. I think we even had dessert, though it's the salmon that sticks in my memory (so good...).

We decided, on a whim, to stop at Barnes and Nobles on the way home. It was fun to look at books together, sharing notes about what we'd read and what we wanted to read. We each bought a book, which we've since read and traded. Lori bought An Invisible Thread, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski; I bought The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Both were good reads. (I need to do a book review blog entry; I have a stack of books on the table in front of me, just waiting...)

Of course, with all the time sitting and chatting, knitting happened as well. I finished the shawl I'd been working on:

This is the just-finished, still-unblocked version;
there are more photos on Ravelry

I'm thinking it's about time to start planning my next visit with Lori.

But first, there's this beagle still begging for her walk...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Time for a Change

As many do at the year-end, I was thinking about resolutions. I have felt recently that while I am busy, I am busy with the wrong things. Trivial things take up my time, at the expense of things that really matter.

While walking Bonnie, and considering this things, I was listening to The Writer's Almanac on my iPod, and heard this poem.
New Year Resolve
by May Sarton

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water. 

I think May Sarton was speaking of mental clutter, of her own thoughts and self-talk. For me, her poem said "Your life is full of clutter. Get rid of stuff. Make room for silence and for thinking, for things that matter." 

With that thought motivating me, I identified just a handful of goals -- guidelines, really -- that will help improve the balance between clutter and substance in my life.

1. Get up early.  The corollary to this, of course, is to go to bed at an appropriate time. And the benefit will be having more time to devote to things of substance.

2. Declutter computer time.  Of course, if I manage to roll out of bed early, and then spend my time reading Facebook and blogs and Ravelry forums, things of substance will still go by the wayside. So I've resolved to mostly give up the Ravelry forums; to strictly limit my time spent browsing Facebook; and to reduce my blog reading (no more trying to catch up on every single blog) (except for family blogs). (You, Dear Reader, should, of course, continue to read my blog!)

3. Eat wisely. This doesn't really fit my decluttering theme, but I'm keeping it anyway. I've been following Weight Watchers for a couple months now, and have consistently been dropping pounds. I still have days where I apparently believe that chocolate is a vegetable; clearly, this part of my life needs continued attention.

4. Spend 15 minutes decluttering, each day. Anyone who has visited our home knows there is plenty of decluttering to be done. I've tried this small-dose approach before; I think it's worth trying again.

5. Complete the essentials before the likes. This means that things like gospel study, exercising, and basic housekeeping need to come before knitting, blogging, and leisure reading. Sigh.

Will these guidelines survive past Groundhog Day? 

The other thing I need to do is stop obsessing over my blog posts. I wrote this Friday night, and have been tweaking it since then, trying to decide if I should hit <Publish>. Enough already!