Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I went to a Bonsai for Beginners class a week ago. It was in the greenhouse at the IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art). The IMA is one of my very favorite places, and the greenhouse is one of my very favorite parts of the campus. Plus, it's January. I need to be in a greenhouse in January.

This is what a bonsai can look like after 20 years.

This is what mine looked like before I started. It's a Barbados Cherry. The instructor had us use tropical plants since they grow more quickly.

Mine had clearly been in its pot for a very long time.

Here's what it looked like once I was finished. Since this time, it's been dropping leaves like crazy. I sat it down after watering it one day last week, and there was the gentle tink, tink, tink sound of leaves falling. It reminded me of the scene in which Charlie Brown thinks he's killed the Christmas tree when its needles all fall off. 

I'm hoping it's just very stressed from having most of its roots whacked off and being transplanted, and that it will pull out of it. Time will tell.

I didn't learn nearly as much as I had hoped in the class, but that's probably the nature of having a hands-on experience when the instructor hasn't figured out how to clone himself. I've requested a book from the library on bonsai. I can do anything with the correct library book.

I don't think I'll become a bonsai enthusiast. I am making a gross generalization, but it seems to me that bonsai is about inflicting my will upon the plant. I had hoped it was much more about releasing the inner beauty of the plant.* Of course, this impression might have something to do with the fact that the person I was sitting next to in the class was a bonsai enthusiast and his plant looked like something out of a horticulture S & M publication when he was finished. Maybe the library book will teach me about beauty and respecting the inner form of the plant and so forth.

Whatever happens, I got to hang out in a greenhouse in January, learn a little bit about a new field, and spend the days between making my reservation and the actual class** randomly shouting, "BONSAI!!!!" in my best Karate Kid fashion.

It's a win.

*Wow. That sounds rather hippie, even to me.
**Okay, FINE. Add, "and several days following" to that sentence.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Problem With Finishing

I'm knitting myself a Farmer's Market Cardigan. When I look at the photos of completed ones on Ravelry, I can nearly feel my hands snuggling in the pockets as I hug it around me. The best word for this cardigan is cozy.*

I'm using Juniper Moon Farm's Moonshine yarn, a delicious blend of 40% alpaca, 40% wool, and 20% silk. The whole thing is going along just swimmingly.


The finishing section of this pattern is approximately 1/3 of the pattern. Once the front and back (which are knit as one piece to the armholes), the pockets, and the sleeves are knit, it's all blocked. Then there's sewing. So much sewing.**

And the lovely edging--the most distinctive piece of the design--is knit in pieces and sewn to the body of the sweater a bit at a time.

It's a lot of sewing, to be sure. More than that though, it's discouraging to reach the portion of the pattern marked "finishing" and see that clearly you are miles away from actually finishing. As Inigo Montoya would say, "I do not think this word means what you think that it means."

Finishing in knitting can be a lot--seaming, button bands, zippers, sewing on buttons, adding a shawl collar, etc., etc., etc.

So, I'll keep going--my eyes on the prize of a snuggly sweater at the end of all this. But in my head, I reserve the word "finishing" for washing, blocking, and maybe a tiny bit of seaming. The section I'm hoping to start in a few days? I'm going to call it 


It's going to catch on with designers. I'm confident of it.

*It's a testament to how many British books I read that I had to really think about whether that was spelled with a "z" or a "s".

**Is there ever a good reason for sleeves to be knit flat instead of in the round? Do they really grow that much that it is a concern? I don't know, which is why I'm knitting them flat as directed, but I resent it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Today, I will remember that there is beauty in all circumstances. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm Not Sure What to Think...

Dexter and Nocturne

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Some friends have been talking about decluttering, I've been reading about it on Rachael Herron's blog, and I read an article in Real Simple as well. It seems the Universe was encouraging me to think a bit on that, and that's how I found myself Sunday evening standing in front of my bookshelf.

The magazine article recommends breaking a job into small pieces so as to avoid being overwhelmed. I thought that was a good idea and worked on the bottom two shelves. It was nearly all books and notes from college and grad school.

One shelf was almost entirely notes from classes and papers I'd written. I recycled everything. I have copies of my master's thesis somewhere else, and vanity will probably always require me to keep that. Everything else went into the recycling bin.

As I pulled the books off the shelf, I was prepared to feel nostalgia. Instead, I felt disdain. Why in the name of all things holy was I keeping Kant and Kierkegaard? I didn't like reading them the first time. Was I keeping them as some badge of honor? I read this, and it is a testament to my nerdiness? I kept a few of the books, but most of them went into three boxes. Yesterday I took the books to the bookstore. As is my way, I kept reminding myself to view this as a donation rather than a sale. They would offer me fifty cents, and I would happily take it because it meant those books were out of my life. Instead, they offered me $11, which I immediately gave back to them to purchase two gifts for a friend. I left feeling like a goddess who had just transformed something worthless to me into something that will be valued by someone else.

When I finished with the recycling and boxing, I moved binders containing programs from shows we've seen--and we do love live theater quite a bit and have a ton of them--to one of the empty shelves. The rest of the books seemed to exhale, and there was once more no real empty space.

The Real Simple article suggests that as you weed out books that aren't important to you, you'll get a little thrill to look at the books you kept and how they say things about who you are as a person. My shelves say I love theater, gardening, children's books, fantasty/sci-fi, Buddhism, and knitting. Those shelves speak the truth.

That night, as I was lying in bed, I tried to quiet my mind and see what I was feeling. Did I feel lighter somehow? Did I feel sad?

I felt nothing. No relief, no sadness, nothing. I think those things had been irrelevant to my life and happiness for so long that their presence or absence made no difference. A song from Chorus Line ran through my head.

They all felt something, but I felt nothing except the feeling that this bullshit was absurd.
-Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tiny Socks Everywhere

In our family, Santa Mouse comes along with Santa. He leaves a present in the tree for each family member. Each is tied with yellow ribbon. The tradition started when my oldest sister read about him in a library book years ago.

The tradition is important to me, and I've introduced it to Andrew's family and some friends. This year, Mom had little wooden sock blockers made, and I told her I'd help her knit socks for them. These became our Santa Mouse gifts.

It ended up that Mom didn't have time to knit the socks, and since I have scrap sock yarn from now until eternity forever and ever amen, I knit them.

It would be fine with me if I never knit another tiny sock again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas in the Circle City

I feel the need to hit pause. Christmas is happening, and the days seem to be speeding up. We're careening toward the 25th and the moment when I realize I have to undecorate the house and put all that glittery stuff back in boxes. I'm working hard to slow down and enjoy this season where we work to light up the darkness.

I'm trying to squeeze in the important stuff. Last Saturday, we saw Yuletide, the holiday show put on by the Indianapolis Symphony, or, as I like to call it, "my friend, Brandy." Bran is the Line Producer for the show, and the woman knows how to PUT ON A SHOW.

After the show, we walked out to see the lights on the Circle.

I have been lucky enough to watch two other live Christmas shows in addition to Yuletide: The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at Theatre on the Square and Elf at the Murat. The only things those shows have in common is that they're musicals, and they use the word "Christmas" in the dialogue, and I enjoyed them both. (A keg of spiked eggnog that has gone bad plays a prominent role in Trailer Park, as does a song titled, "Fuck It, It's Christmas.") 

I have a list of nostalgic shows I want to rewatch this season. Thus far I've only managed to watch White Christmas and Twas the Night Before Christmas, but I hope to remedy this soon.

Knitting time has decreased, as it always does this time of year. I do have one project I can show you--well, half of it anyway. I didn't get a photo of the whole project before I wrapped them and gave them away.

Fightin' Words (mine ravelled here),
knit in Felici in Rainbow and Stroll Glimmer in Black

I knit these for Bran as a Yuletide present, a yarny declaration that she will make it through the show successfully and soon be eating mushroom dip with me and the rest of our little group.

Mmm, mushroom dip. Now I'm distracted.

Anyway, I've made two pairs of Fightin' Words mitts now, and I'm considering knitting myself a pair of mittens with the same pattern... and probably these same yarns. I love the way these turned out.

Speaking of yarn, Knitpicks brought back a few colors of Felici for a limited time. I assume it was just to taunt me.

I regret nothing.

I hope your holiday season is full of good things, but not so full that you're unable to enjoy it. May we all find a way to hit pause and enjoy the season.