Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We can learn a lot about people from the games they favored in childhood.  These games create deep and abiding interests in the real world through the skills they teach…. And the pursuits they inspire.  Of course the generalizations I am about to propose are as fallible as ANY generalization:  A great deal more than childhood games goes into the development of psyche and political disposition… family and peer influence are the most predictable determinants…. And yet, I still see a correlation between childhood games and political affiliation.
I was a dismal failure at Monopoly…. My socialist leanings are understandable.  While my family joyfully built hotels, I mortgaged every property until, destitute, I left the others to play that game.  I never felt great motivation to get better….I was already VERY good at Scrabble, so felt no really deep need to explore the world of wealth, banking, finance and … well, I am no stranger to debt.  I suspect that many successful Republicans …those members of the 1% who did or DIDN’T inherit their wealth…began at their kitchen tables playing Monopoly with their families.  There is a keen, heartless demeanor required to impoverish family members, even in a game.  To win all seems to be the ULTRA-Con Republican imperative today… the ULTIMATE game of Monopoly.
Which brings me to Scrabble.  Lovers of words, no less competitive than Monopoly players, but favoring a different sort of intellectual challenge and skill.  Words were my playground… books the icons, and keys to unlimited worlds of fantasy and fact… the public library the SHRINE of this love.  Scrabble players hope to solve all problems with words.  They endlessly shift letters into permutations of words, hoping to find the largest, the most deliberate…. And to PLACE it where it will do the most good.  I propose that scrabble players succeed as diplomats or debaters, people who parse words to their greatest advantage, and, while hoping to win, have more focus on the deftness of skill than on the bankruptcy of their opponent, than on the aptitude that gave them the win.  I suspect that this is the game of many Democrats, of people who depend on their intellect to reason each next move, each debate, each Congressional challenge.  When Monopoly players and Scrabble players enter a game together… any game…. It is as though two different worlds are at play.
Chess, Risk, Stratego…… these are games where strategy is everything.  These games are more covert than Scrabble:  there are LONG TERM GOALS at play, using visual/spatial perception and prediction to confound the opponent and win through long term, and neither financial nor linguistic skill.  These are the people who read their opponent well, who predict future moves on the basis of past moves, who sacrifice pawns… for Queens…. Or that same Queen…. To save the king.  These are the people who might find friends who play either Monopoly or Scrabble… who hope that THEIR skill will guide the other players through political conquest.  They are Democrats of Republicans, more because of past family allegiance or happenstance than deep affiliation.  More keyed to the strategic win than to the ideals of the Republican Monopoly player, or to the Democrat Scrabble champ, they are the planners, the manipulators who focus on the ways to sway the will of the people in a Democracy to bring about their desired end.
None of these game players is a better person than the other…. One understands commerce, one conversation, one, human nature.  Of course, there are those who play…. And win… at more than one game.  That politics can be distilled to childhood games is unsurprising:  Childhood is that time when children are encouraged to learn, in pleasant ways, about the adult world.  It is also a time for individual skills and preferences to be developed.  I repeat:  these childhood games write NOTHING in stone of the future political affiliations of children…. But they hone certain skills, which are often re-interpreted in the political world as adults.
I still enjoy games of Scrabble…. Avoid games of Monopoly where possible, and am intrigued by games of chess… although I have never been better than an average player.  I see my politics in these competitions and achievements (some dubious) of childhood.   Even then I was becoming a generally socialistic Democrat…

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Lorene came to visit, and took this picture, it was a blessing in more ways than I realized at the time.... Oh, I was grateful, to say the least: Judi and I have known each other for years, but this was our first opportunity to meet Lorene, an internet friend who, until recently lived down south.... this year she moved to Rochester, and came, this day, to visit, to shop, to meet, talk and hug..... and what a pleasure it was to meet her in person.

She took this photo, and that brings me to another blessing. I will be downsizing the shop. The economy has downsized my wallet, and my stock, and Bob, my friend and landlord needs space to do his woodworking, and to market it (and, likely, other things.) The center aisle of my shop will be the entryway, the blue-carpeted side will become the woodworking zone, and the side that I now stand in front of will be opened through to the back (instead of remaining a small room) and will be a cozier, more useful space. I look forward to these changes, both because my friend Bob will be doing what HE wants, and because downsizing is a FAR better option than ... disappearing, a real threat in this economy.

I have resolved to post more often: Much to say, little discipline with computer interfacing (other than lexulous and words with friends.)

I look forward to a new year filled with greater self-discipline, ever-growing creativity.... and wishes of love, peace, health and fulfillment to all my friends.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Last night Perry and I had a mini-Seder. We sang the traditional songs, drank the wine, read the verses (most of them, anyway) and joined millions of other Jews in remembering the importance of freedom from bondage. In our Haggadah it is emphasized that it is the responsibility of Jews to do the work of caring for those less fortunate. I fear that in our country today we are ALL becoming less fortunate, due to the drive by a minority to put the greatest wealth in the hands of the fewest: those who already hold the greatest wealth.

I have said it before, and will say it again: MY personal wealth has never been economic. I am grateful for all of the friends I have, and have had, for the opportunities to learn, to work, to sing, spin, knit...

I remember with great fondness Seders of the past, when good friends gathered at our table. Perhaps someday we will celebrate in that way again, with friends and my daughter seated at the table with Perry and I....This is one of my fondest wishes: to sing the old songs, say the old words, and drink four glasses of wine in the company of friends and family united.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This is the guardian of my garden. She is a "junkie" made by a young man who was ten at the time (now twelve) who has been welding since the age of seven. He will be burning off some of the rust, and sealing her this year, so she can stand guard over my weeds, flowers and veggies for years to come. She silently watches as butterflies, birds, cats and, sadly, woodchucks come and go.... and sometimes sees the deer and turkeys. She watches the hawks silently, and the mother cats taking their kittens to and fro, worrying about their safety. She will be joined by other totems and works of art this year.... planning a garden loom, and likely to spend a great deal of time weeding errant black raspberry plants, "Tree of life" and bishop's goutweed from the garden. She is a treasured gift, and I am inspired to bring beauty where there is chaos, in her company! For today she watches over the potatos I planted yesterday, encouraging them to grow despite the cold and dreary day!
These are the guardians of my shop. Sadie, the queen, is black and white, and adjusted well to the interlopers. Purl, the grey longer haired kitty is flighty, and belongs to cats, not to people. She prefers to be invisible, despite her obvious beauty. Mojo is, like the athletes I remember from high school, a better athlete than intellectual. He doesn't care: he loves to protect Sadie and Purl, and loves his life!

I took the wheel outside today to photograph the alpaca I am carding and spinning today. The alpaca's name is Catwoman, and the richness of her greys, browns and silvers is only exceded by the richness of the luxurious softness of her fleece. The white fiber below hers is from the same farm, from an alpaca named Diamonds are Forever. Below that is a bag of Cormo/Romney. On all of these the crimp and the staple are beautiful for spinning, and I will be busy and happy for WEEKS.

This is Cormo/Romney, a gift from Laurie (Thank you SO much!) That I look forward to spinning, dyeing and possibly knitting for sale in the shop. It has BEAUTIFUL crimp, and the staple is lovely... When the weather is nicer I will scour it, dry it, and get ready to card.

This is fleece from an alpaca named catwoman. I will spin a pound, keep a pound.... in my possession right now is over a pound of this lovely grey, and four pounds of beautiful white... lovely to spin and card, just a wee bit more vegetable matter than I prefer, but more than compensated by the luxurious feel of this fleece!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Im halfway there to getting the hang of this blogging thing: I'll be all the way there when I am posting pictures that aren't dark and barely visible... but I want to talk on about the joys of today.

Lately Saturdays haven't been very good business days... (along with most other days, in this harsh economy) but today was different. It began with a couple of drop-in knitters.... Julie and Jan... and delightful conversation. Then an alpaca farmer brought me two fleeeces with a pleasant arrangement. I will spin a pound, take a pound, spin a pound, and so on. There is some lovely white that should take dye beautifully: hand-dyed for the summer, perhaps to match the Romney/Cormo from Wednesday. The fleeces are lovely... he wants the dark grey... and will get some of the white as well... no money trading hands, and each of us satisfied with the arrangement. (sigh of contentment.)

Two customers came in, one from Hamburg, one from Fredonia, delightful women who forgave the messiness of the shop (kids, spinning, cats.. oy!) each finding yarn and accessories to delight them. YAY! My good friend and landlord was in, and I was able to give him an installation of rent, and engage in delightful conversation. He trimmed the fur on Purl, who, although not delighted during, seemed rather pleased afterward. She is a beautiful cat, but NOT particularly sociable. She thinks she smells sulphur in my presence.

Finally, I was able to return home to a good cup of brewed coffee (Thanks to husband Perry) and to get outside between raindrops to plant a couple of dozen potato plants. I've never had luck with potatos, but this could be the year!

This has been a long harsh winter. Three deaths, Dick, an old friend, Greg, a former student, and Terry, another old friend.... passed on, most recently Terry. Another friend lost a daughter, and still others I know are dealing with difficult illnesses. I struggle myself trying to break old habits to deal with Type 2 Diabetes. The two surest signs of spring, Pesach and Easter are imminent, and with them I hope to feel the rejuvenation of spring: To watch the natural world bursting through the dirt, fighting off the stagnation of winter. I hope to match them in energy and enthusiasm: To mourn the dead, attend to the ailments, and move forward in joy. On, today, to carding, spinning, knitting, and singing, to prepare to sing tomorrow at UU. I will celebrate the sound of rain on the windows, knowing that it is the catalyst of spring. Joy to all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'd like to have a LONG talk with the person who named that hairy invader "Tree of Heaven." Obviously it would be a theological conversation predicated on the question: just how do you imagine heaven if you believe an invasive, aesthetically weak hairy branched introduced species (thanks, Japan.... i believe knotweed and kudzu were gifts from you as well)heavenly?? I think it is more illustrative of Satan's minions, ever multiplying, ever appearing in unwanted places, invading (of all places) MY GARDEN. Isn't it bad enough that Bishop's goutweed (not the pretty, variegated form) and gopher spurge come to the party unbidden? Wasn't I blessed with a colony of glossy-coated veggie eating, ground disrupting woodchucks? They practically held hands and SKIPPED through my gardens last year, devouring great quantities of veggies intended for my freezer..... and now.... Tree of Heaven? Many years ago a high school chum suggested that the first such tree was Tree of Heaven.... no, I insisted, it's sumac. I like sumac..... the lovely red spires, the flaming leaves of autumn.... I was wrong. HEAVENLY? i think not.

I am drinking my new "health beverage," and am trying to incorporate it daily. A tablespoon of honey (local is best) is stirred into a quarter cup of hot water and stirred to dissolve. Half a lemon is squeezed in, and a half-inch piece of ginger is added straight through my garlic press, which keeps the tough fibrous parts, and allows the juice and bits of digestible ginger through. It is topped off with cold or warm water.... never hot... heat is said to kill the inflammation soothing enzymes.... to fill a sixteen ounce glass or mug. It is tasty, the local honey is good for allergy issues, the lemon helps balance the alkalinity that's good for the body, and the ginger... antibacterial, anti-inflammatory... just GOOD. I am acclimating to this daily, to hydrate and promote good health. It is the first of many changes to come.

I am waiting impatiently for the advent of sprouting. My peas, and my chard are not yet peeking above the soil. I will wait. My onions are looking good, and I'm hoping that what I see are lettuces coming up and not just weeds.... still waiting, time will tell.

I was given a fleece yesterday.... Romney/Cormo cross. I'm delighted (thanks, Laurie!) and will photograph the scouring, drying, spinning, plying and dyeing. I unrolled an alpaca felt batt that i began last fall, and set out through the winter.... it's LOVELY. I felted the curls, uncarded, and it reminds me of the lovely bark composite paper that came, painted, from Mexico in my childhood. I haven't seen them in years, but taking my cue from that, the tree of life will be the theme for this, and It will be needlefelted and highly decorated. I am eager to begin.... likely this afternoon! I am still spinning the white alpaca, and am dreaming of dye... alpaca, finn/dorsett, romney/ cormo..... onion skins and various weeds? or... commercial acid dyes for vivid color? I will decide. My little matryoshka babushka pattern has been popular in the shop.... but a customer came to me with errata. I am humbled. I always try to avoid error, but sometimes I need test knitters to help me see what i miss on my own. Thanks again, Laurie.... you've been a good friend with both generosity AND valuable criticism.

Finally, politics. Last night President Obama gave his speech proposing his budget intentions. How lovely it is having a president who speaks like a grownup, to a grownup audience. He has my vote in 2012.... as do ANY Democrats who run. I believe a Socialist Democrat (non-Marxist) agenda is the best this country could offer. I am both disgusted by the anti-union, anti-woman behavior of the tea party, and encouraged by the response: They will not be likely to maintain a House majority with the kind of miserable behavior they've demonstrated. I guess, sadly, we just needed to see.

The day is glorious, the sun is shining.... and I am on to making the best of the day!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Early Garden

I toyed with the idea of posting today's effort.... but seemingly barren dirt is no joy to view. Newborn photos will follow when sprouting occurs. I planted lettuces in pots today... endive, Mesclun mix, and arugala. I'm hoping for baby lettuce salads in two or three weeks..... I also planted red mustard and sugar snap peas this morning, hoeing, preparing the space in the beds, and trying to teach Cinnamon and Raffi that the beds are NOT play space... They have tilled where I planted the peas and the chard with their romping.... so far nothing growing there, but I know that growth happens where it can't be seen before it happens visibly.... and that it's on ITS timetable, not mine... so I am patiently waiting, and trusting that the dogs have not disturbed the growth too terribly. This, also, was my excercise today.

I am drinking ginger tea daily. It has a reputation for being healing for inflammation, and recent evidence supports the idea that type 2 diabetes is an inflammatory disease... so.....it is important NOT to heat the ginger above 140 degrees, to keep the effect of the enzymes intact.... so, with lemon (rumored to be alkalyzing... who knew?) and a bit of honey, i indulge in ginger tea, hoping that it is a wonderful addition to achieve good health.

An important part of my health is my intent to Spin, Dye, and Promote "Grown and Made in Chautauqua county" this summer. To that end, I have LOVELY white alpaca on the wheel.... although this picture is a bit dark (why was I awake at 5AM?) it clearly shows some of the second bobbbin.... so, this weekend, I will ply.... and continue carding. I'm waiting to hear about some Corriedale and Cormo... my drum carder will have a workout! I will chronicle it's processing to post here and in the shop!

Today we will find out if the government shuts down.... I pray that the Democrats do not cave in to unreasonable expectations of the Republicans.