March 22, 2015

A Woman’s Life Touches Many Other Lives

Recently I wrote a blog post urging people to join in the fight against extreme poverty. Helping just one woman achieve greater financial independence has a ripple effect through her family, her community and the ripples can extend even wider. This is one reason I support Trickle Up. I love the idea that empowering one person can cause lasting change across many lives.

Trickle Up provides women living on under $1.25/day with seed capital, business skills training, savings support, and coaching so they can build a brighter future for their families. Join our campaign with support at any level to help 150 women in Guatemala become financially independent, active members of their community.

There are few things one can do in just a couple minutes which can have as lasting an impact on lives as this. Women who gain financial sufficiency can feed their families, they gain self-respect, they gain the respect of their families, husbands and communities. It is beyond powerful what a small amount of money can do for someone at this level.

In honor of International Women’s Day two weeks ago, Trickle Up launched an Indiegogo campaign to transform the lives of 150 women (and their families and communities) in Lachua, Guatamala. The huge news is that in just that much time over $10,220 has been raised–40% of the total goal of $25,000! That is tremendous news, but that also means that 60% of the money is left to raise and it gets harder as time goes by.

If we have raised 40% of the goal, does that mean we can only hope to change 40% of the 150 women’s lives that we had hoped to change? Are those women simply out of luck? These are women who live on almost nothing each day and they worry how they can feed their families. They are living without any safety net between them and the people they love and disaster. Yet so little can do so much. Literally, for the cost of a cup of coffee at a fancy coffee store, one of those women can have a chance at an independent life.

Give today. Learn more and donate at http://igg.me/at/trickleup.

If you haven’t already, please join me in supporting Trickle Up’s amazing work helping families in Guatemala chart a new trajectory for their future. Please share this post with your friends and post to Facebook. Help us reach the goal of helping 150 women to a better life.

March 17, 2015

Pi to the Fourth Power

Jenny:

We celebrated Pi Day by buying an enormous Cherry Pie at Costco. Peter ate most of it. I am not a huge pie fan. I am, however, going to knit a Pi Shawl for next Pi Day. I already have spun the yarn and chosen my patterns so this is just the goal I need to get started and aim for completion. Thank you, Glenna C. Oh, and any reminder of the Great Elizabeth Zimmerman is all right by me, too.

Originally posted on Knitting to Stay Sane:

My fourth Pi shawl is done, I’m pleased to report, and it even made it just under the wire for Pi Day on Saturday. I cast off around lunchtime and laid it out for blocking that afternoon, and I am well pleased.

(It is also, I should mention, challenging to take full photos of a circular shawl without assistance, so in addition to these I may point out past Pi Shawl posts here and here)

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Having done a few of these, I get a lot of Pi Shawl questions. I thought I would go ahead and answer a few of them in a kind of Pi Shawl FAQ, if you will:

How long does it take to knit a Pi Shawl?

For me personally, it’s taken me between 3 months (this one) and 11 months (last one). I liked having the Pi Day deadline for this because I think…

View original 1,134 more words

March 9, 2015

A Winter’s Garden

A healthy yarn stash is like a garden. If we tend it well, with prudent

weeding and fertilizing, it will feed our creativity indefinitely. –Clara Parkes

Some things a woman just has to do on her own and this weekend was the moment. For weeks I have been half-itching, half-dreading getting all of my yarn out from its various hidey holes and storage places, spreading it across the room and seeing just exactly how much and what I have on hand. Is it as bad as I think? Could I truly open a yarn store with just what I have on hand? Is there yarn which was acquired at some point in time about which I have completely forgotten or do I have a good handle on my inventory? I always love the feeling of wanting to make something and finding just what I need on hand. Could I have that feeling even more often?

With Jim and all the kids away, I decided to find out. Quick before I could lose courage, I raced home Friday after work and like an industrious ant, I began pulling yarn out of drawers, plastic tubs, under the bed storage, plastic bags and before I went to bed, I had this:

001002The Green Room was almost impassable with yarn strewn from one end to the other. Dakota picked his way through the piles carefully and with some concern. You can see him in the photo to the right watching me to see what in the world was

going on. We went up to bed. I guess we were both wondering what I had gotten us into.

It was a tremendous relief Saturday morning to see that the kitties had not touched a thing in the maelstrom of fiber. Good kitties. You can tell they grew up in a house of strings. They know better.

I started tentatively picking at the piles. I tackled sock yarn first. In just a few minutes I had a gorgeous drawer filled neatly with all of my sock yarn. That was the trick. Just take one thing at a time. Soon I had a drawer devoted to lace weight yarn, a plastic bin just for bulky and semi-bulky and another filled with worsted weight. Two ridiculously large bins featured sweater kits–I will never freeze. Another bin held  odds and ends. Luckily, I had help in the form of my faithful hound. He knew just what to do. When you have a snout this long, you gotta rest. A ball of yarn is just what the doctor ordered.

007By the time Jim got home, the green room looked like this:

IMG_0461Not a trace of the disarray. The secret of my long term over-indulgence is safe and only you and I know how bad it really is…psst don’t tell.

March 7, 2015

For the price of a vente latte, a woman’s life can be changed…

3-2015-Indiegogo-Campaign-button_rollover

Please join me this International Women’s Day in the fight against extreme poverty. Trickle Up, an organization I have supported for several years, provides women living on under $1.25/day with seed capital, business skills training, savings support, and coaching so they can build a brighter future for their families. Join our campaign with support at any level to help 150 women in Guatemala become financially independent, active members of their community.

There are few things one can do in just a couple minutes which can have as lasting an impact on lives as this. Women who gain financial sufficiency can feed their families, they gain self-respect, they gain the respect of their families, husbands and communities. It is beyond powerful what a small amount of money can do for someone at this level.

Give today and your donation will be doubled by generous Trickle Up donors in honor of International Women’s Day. And to thank you for your support, Trickle Up is offering amazing perks. Learn more and donate at http://igg.me/at/trickleup.

I hope you can join me in supporting Trickle Up’s amazing work helping families in Guatemala chart a new trajectory for their future. Please forward this email on to your friends and acquaintances and help change lives!

September 21, 2014

The Return of the MEU

In April Alex was set to return from his deployment. The 13th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) would return from their almost nine month’s away. Of course, Alex wasn’t with his MEU for most of that time. He was on a special assignment in Djibouti which is just as well since he had no great desire to spend nine months on shipboard.

Jim and I wanted to be there to welcome Alex and his fellow Marines home from a successful expedition so we planned a holiday designed to get us on the West Coast with flexibility to be at Camp Pendleton when the MEU returned. The target date was April 24th.

The Marine Corps does a pretty darn good job with ceremony. They really like a good ceremony and all that it represents. The night before the ships were due to port, there was a Family Dinner on base. Jim and I arrived just in time for cocktails at the Officers and Enlisted Personnel Recreation Center. The building is perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a festive gathering of about 300 family members and friends of the returning personnel. Dinner was exceptionally bad chicken with frozen vegetables, but spirits were high. Most of the evening was a briefing from various officers and chaplains. There were video messages from Commanding Officers congratulating the MEU and the Continue reading

September 13, 2014

Up, Up and Away!!

What do you do when you find yourself celebrating a 31st wedding anniversary in the glorious wine country of Napa Valley?

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Cool Napa morning getting ready to soar!

It was still dark and quite cool when we met with the rest of the group for a quick bite to eat and the trip to the balloons. They were just beginning inflation when we arrived.

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The balloons were like colorful giants waking up in the cool morning air. We were not the only voyagers that morning.

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The valley was filled with the silent giants moving swiftly over the land. DSC03910

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Their passage afforded novel views and perspectives.

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Time was as altered as our perspective. We were moving at 13 miles per hour on the current of the air, but it felt like we were standing still. There was no wind and no sound, but the far off barking of a dog and sometimes the roar of the colorful giant.

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The air warmed and all the great balloons came back to earth. They landed with a thud and a rough slide over the earth. The graceful giants folded into the earth.

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September 6, 2014

Elizabeth Zimmerman Lives On!!

 

 

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That’s some pink yarn!! You probably couldn’t recognize this wool as belonging to Logan, my greatly beloved fleece which I washed, carded, spun and now dyed by hand. There is here just over 1400 yards of lace weight yarn which was specifically spun and dyed to make one of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawls. I have not yet attempted such an aggressive lace weight project and I have a warm up planned, but this is ready and waiting.

I actually dyed this yarn once and then re-dyed it. Yes, this is a crazy pink, but the first pink was over the top pink. It looked like a Mariachi band on LSD‘s idea of a pink. It had a purple cast to it which was so outrageous, emergency response vehicles flooded our cul de sac. It was simply too much even for me…

I re-dyed it with a simple pink dye which seems to have taken out the screaming meemie purples.

This is a demanding and difficult process for someone dedicated (although never achieving) perfection. My lace weight yarn is not perfect. The color is not perfect. The pattern may not prove to be perfect. Can I handle this amount of imperfection? Can I enjoy working with this yarn which I worked hard to spin and hard to dye and feel ownership of?

That remains to be seen. What I do know is that I have so many knitting projects lined up that it looks like the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour. A spaghetti-like mess of traffic with seemingly no rhyme or reason. But this has a rhyme and a reason. I want to follow in E. Zimmerman’s gifted footsteps and create an amazing lace shawl. It has taken weeks of spinning, some concerted dyeing and the knitting will be lengthy and demanding, but what else is there? We live to succeed in what matters to us. Maybe the concerted effort is as important as the ultimate product?

Nah. NFW. I want a perfect shawl. I will work to make that happen. this could take a couple years. Yee haw! Meaning in life!!

This pattern was designed by Mwaa Knit in honor of EZ’s 100th Anniversary. See more at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/mwaa-knit

September 3, 2014

The First Day of School

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Good looking teacher

September 1, 2014

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

St. Ignatius School, Bronx NY

It was a match made in heaven. Perhaps quite literally. The small, Jesuit-run Middle School in the South Bronx was looking for an 8th Grade ELA teacher and the incredibly gifted, natural born teacher with a resume 99% of the world would envy was looking for his first classroom. In August they met and this Wednesday will be their first day of school together.

This past month has been incredibly busy, full of excitement and perhaps a soupcon of nervousness for Jim. After two years of subbing and one extended leave replacement, he finally gets his own classroom. The setting seems ideal. St. Ignatius is a small school with 90 students. Supported almost entirely by private donations, they have a new school building (2006) and a dedicated staff. The classes are divided by gender and all of the children wear uniforms. The school is essentially tuition-free, but parents sign a contract requiring attendance and involvement. This is a school for kids from difficult backgrounds who want to succeed academically and head towards college. 97% of the students are Hispanic and the balance are African-American. Facts about Hunts Point, South Bronx and St. Ignatius (SIS):

  • The poorest of the 435 U.S. congressional districts
  • 49% of Hunts Point families live in poverty compared to 23% national average
  • 100% of SIS students graduate high school compared to local rate of 40%
  • 90% of SIS grads enroll in college compared to 37% of their local peers

As you can imagine this is a very mission-driven organization. Continue reading

July 13, 2014

Kicking Back on Vacation!

Doesn’t every vacation begin with a list? Several weeks before our planned ten days in Connecticut, I headed a sheet of paper with the word, “Vacation.” Jim seemed dismayed when I proceeded to add a good list of projects to be undertaken on vacation. 

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By the time we got to CT and began our ten days of bliss on July 3rd, the list was impressive. Jim seemed unhappy at first and then his energy source kicked in and he kicked it…

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Together we washed all the windows in the house. Boy, did they need it. They are kind of low-end windows and they get foggy between the divided lights and the removable inner storm. Sadly, the “removable” part means cleaning each window involves removing the sashes and dis-assembling each window in addition to removing the storms and screens. It takes a while, but the results are outstanding! We washed all the curtains, too. Our bedroom sparkled. 

photo (13)Jim also re-painted the back wall of the house. It was peeling in spots and we knew we could extend the life of our paint job, if we just cleaned it up. 

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Just look at that satisfied painter with his post-painting beer!

Also on the list was trimming the bushes. I just love to trim bushes. I am perhaps a more eager than skilled trimmer. Once again, I managed to trim the power cord. It is really great that that merely shuts the trimmer off rather than cutting off the life of the person trimming. When Jim went to the hardware store to get the thing that repairs the extension cord, the guy at the store said he had done it three times. Well, that  was only my second. Just look at these bushes…

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Next up garage doors which needed a new coat of paint and the garden which needed weeding. 

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While Jim cleaned the garage, top to bottom, I scrubbed and mopped the kitchen floor. 

By the end of the week, we had everything on the list complete. 

Now, you might think we were all work and no fun, but that would be far from the truth. Quitting time was about 5:30 and that meant we hit the showers and it was cocktail time. A nice woosie strength G&T for me and some craft beer for Jim. We got dinner prep under way and then selected from any number of delightful vistas from the gazebo view of the pond to the front porch or the back patio. 

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After dinner, we sat on the front porch and read or sometimes watched something on Netflix. It was a very congenial schedule. With such clean windows, the sun got us up early and the routine continued. Luckily, we had fantastic weather everyday. Of course, all tasks were balanced with copious amounts of knitting, spinning (for me) and reading (both of us). I began a gorgeous sweater designed by Kathryn Alexander which uses 48 different colors of her hand-dyed woolen yarns and I was also spinning lace weight yarn for a Pi Shawl based on a design based on Elizabeth Zimmerman designed by MWaa Knit on Ravelry. I’ll need 1400 yards so I have a bit of spinning to do. I am, of course, using Logan for it. I think I will dye the yarn blue.  

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The big excitement was Saturday morning about 3 am when a big black bear came and attacked the garbage bin. The noise of the falling bin woke us and we peered out as Mr. Bear took first one bad of garbage, abandoned it and took a second bag which we never did find. Wish I had a picture of the big black bear!

Of course all efforts were closely attended by our fellow vacationer. He might not be much for painting, trimming or cleaning, but he sure does enjoy every meal and he is awfully cute. 

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We were very sad to return to reality, but we left a well-tended home and we will enjoy the fruits of our labors in just five days when we head up again. 

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