Monday, March 29, 2010

Godspeed Germaine.

Today we say goodbye to a special member of our rug hooking community, Germaine James.

As a relatively new hooker (it's kinda like dog years in this community), I don't have decades of history or memories of her. But I don't need them. She was incredible and it only took one weekend to know all I needed to know about her.

I had the pleasure of taking my Teacher Training wide cut training with Germaine, and that entailed a weekend of her and Terry's hospitality in their home. After a scary winter drive to get there, they greeted us with hugs and a glass of wine to take the edge off. The weekend was a little pot luck, but mostly their warm kindness in waves.

Not only did I get to tap into the immense wisdom of Germaine, I got to be enfolded in her soul. Both she and Terry have a kind of energy that is ageless. A little bit of a twinkle in nearly everything they do. And a quick laugh and a shared passion for life. They were definitely the salt to one another's pepper. Soul mates is an appropriate descriptor for them.

The rug that I designed and started hooking that weekend is one of my favourites. It has turned out to be the inspiration for many other pieces I have done. And it sits beside my side of the bed on the floor. So I can say goodnite to Germaine every night before I hit the pillow.

Everyone should have a chance to know a person like her in their lifetime. She was a "walking hug" and a smile at the ready -  always. Full of wisdom and mischief in equal measures, the stories about her will swirl today and for many years to come.

I will miss her very much.

Safe journey Germaine.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Mornings are a gift.

It's Friday morning and I'm sitting at the cottage kitchen table drinking my second cup of coffee. I have spent the last hour and a bit watching the sun come up while spending time on Rug Hooking Daily - something that I don't get to do very often at home. I'm looking forward to being able to do that more often, once we are moved in.

There is something wonderful about spending time admiring other people's work and leaving comments on their pages, to let them know how you feel. I know how much I love receiving comments, and this is another time when it is even better to give than to receive.

Today's picture is not of anything I'm working on, but of Mother Nature's tableau. The ice is out of the bay again and the sun is sparkling on the water - one of my all time favourite views. This time of year is a tumultuous time, when the temperature goes way up during the day - and way down during the night. Last night the logs in the building were cracking - sounding like gun shots - a wonderful characteristic of logs (once you get used to it).

The Canada Geese are returning in droves. As we made our way north last night, I saw them in pairs on nearly every open body of water - and in lots of farmers' fields too.  I wonder how they all know that this is THE weekend for them to come. Not last weekend - not next weekend, but this exact weekend.  Kind of like Pearson International on March break. Another example of just how amazing Mother Nature is in her programming as well as her visuals.

My contractor has still not appeared to work on the basement. Rick is a bit worried, but I think it's just another deadline-oriented decision. Clyde knows he still has a month - he knows how long the job will take and he's going to wait until the deadline is too close to ignore. Don't we all do that sometimes!

I will finish my coffee, make my grocery list and head into town in a bit. Jennifer Manuel is coming for a birthday dinner and a sleepover tomorrow - which will be so much fun. Having her just an hour away is a huge advantage to moving here. Hopefully we can get together way more often - and not just on MSN messenger.

Enjoy these early spring days. I plan to. At least until the black flies arrive, which I figure will totally coincide with the move.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Dog. Old Tricks.

This past week, I got a wonderful new gadget for my Mac. It's a Wacom Bamboo tablet, and I think it will have many applications for my rug hooking design, once I get better at it. Like everything else, it takes a lot of patience to get used to, but it reminded me of a couple of things.

First of all, everyone needs patience when learning a new skill. I think we get to a certain age and don't even go there anymore - we stop challenging ourselves to learn new things, or we stumble along with what we already know rather than trying something else.

This little gadget will eventually help with pattern design in my rug hooking. Because you can draw with it, and because it saves what you create in a jpeg format, it's already computer ready to can be sized up or down for whatever purpose you require. No scanning your sketch. No math required to figure out the scale to a pattern size. It should make all of this easier and everything is ready to go on your website, blog, email or whatever. (It won't replace the sketch book or doodle part of creativity, but it will make doing things with the final product much easier.) I did do a first little doodle to see how it worked and saved a very scary sketch to my computer. I was going to share, but decided I need a bit more practice first, so bear with me.

The other benefit of spending the morning learning about this new gadget is this is that I once again pondered the marvel of computers, the Internet, and all the things we can do (like this blog) that we were unable to do not so long ago - or at least not on such a scale.  It really does boggle the mind. And where will it go next?

I firmly believe that the brain is the biggest and best computer ever built - and here's a video you should watch to prove it.  I watched this last week and couldn't believe it!!!!

But, there are a few things that I wish we could do with the brain, like we can with a computer.

Can you imagine if we could upload a bunch of memories we don't need all the time and put them in storage for later use. Then we could re-visit all the vivid detail, not just the snippets that appear from time to time - those little socks in the grade 2 choir with the flowers on them, for instance. (As I sorted through 20 years of paid bills and papers from the house last nite, I had many tidbits of memories that flooded in. )

Then there are some software applications that would be great! My husband is such a worrier, I'd love to be able to install some Norton Anti-Worry software to help him sort through them. It could have a sorting program to put worries that he can't do anything about in a different folder than the small worries he can make "actionable".  Although I am not a chronic worrier like he is, I'd love to be able to load Anti-Worry lite, just for this move so that I could sleep at night without the never-ending lists. (such a dreamer, huh?)

The new tablet for my computer has taught me something else. That even in a time when I am feeling completely overwhelmed, my brain still welcomes something new and fresh to keep it stimulated. That's why there is a whole part of the brain that stays sane while the rest is crumbling. And that's the part that lets us create wonderful things like our hooked pieces (my SMILE challenge is done) and copy for websites, etc.

The new dog, old tricks adage is one that I don't adhere to. I am a firm believer that only when you stop learning the new tricks do you become an "old do". So I will plug little new tricks into my brain, no matter how croweded it gets. 

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today my son is moving into his first grown up apartment. Not a dorm. Not a disgusting slum-lord apartment off campus. But a real first home. He will be sharing with a fellow he’s known since high school and I think they will get along well. That’s definite progress in his life. And Rick and I will be happy to have him settled before our big move.
On the move front, there is progress too, although I am feeling a lot more like the tortoise than the hare at this point. Working full time and going to the cottage every weekend to do things there really puts a damper on big, noticeable change here at the city house, but I know we’ll get there. If this is still organizing month (or the month of the tortoise) April will be a lot more hare-y with lots of frenetic packing and tossing etc.

Re studio progress, I did pick out carpeting for the basement. And the contractor stopped by on Saturday with a 12 foot stack of subfloor tiles, so there are definitely signs of movement. The room is completely empty save for the huge bank of Rubbermaid containers, so nothing will be in the way of more (and hopefully faster) progress. This weekend, the Parry Sound weather was incredible. While Toronto was besieged with incessant rains, we had sun and wind Friday and Saturday and the snow literally disappeared before our eyes. This is the first spring since we’ve been there that the snow has left this early. Even if we get one more dump before it’s over, we will not have the huge melt-and-flood problem that usually accompanies spring.

Amid all this chaos, there is noticeable progress on the “calm” project fronts. I can share the sweater progress, since the moose is now knit in. I was worried there might not be enough contrast between the colours I chose for the background and the moose, but I’m very happy with the result. (He needs a good blocking, but otherwise, he is very handsome.)

And the “smile” challenge mat is nearing the home stretch. Sorry I can’t share anything yet, but I promise once the challenge is revealed on Rug Hooking Daily, I’ll post some progress shots and the final.

Hopefully next weekend there will be a studio shot or two to share. Fingers crossed (or whatever the equivalent appendage is on a tortoise).

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Comfort Zone

This weekend, I came to the conclusion that my move is much more than a matter of geography - more than leaving my house and going to my cottage. Oh, I always knew it meant putting a long drive between myself and special pieces of my past - and my many dear friends and family. But I realized that I am leaving something that I may miss just as much.  My comfort zone.

It came to a head on Saturday when I walked into a room filled with more than a hundred people - not one of whom I knew. Yikes. There have only been a handfull of times in my life when I have done that and I must confess to not having liked any of them. But this was a Women's Day celebration lunch for the members of the Georgian Bay Women's Network and I figured it was a good chance to meet some people in my new hood.

I had totally forgotten that feeling of complete and utter dread when you are the "stranger". Every head turns to look - nobody recognizes you - so they all go back to their chatter (which is hopefully not about that odd stranger in the midst). I had convinced myself that all I had to do was introduce myself to one person and then I wouldn't be a stranger anymore. But how to choose that individual upon whom I would inflict myself.

After walking more than halfway around the room, past the tables with no seats and some with all seats empty, I spied something that made me brave enough to approach. A "Wendy" nametag on a lovely looking person sitting at a table. It was a sign.  And without further ado, I introduced my Wendie with an "ie" self to this other Wendy and her friend Janice. And I had someone to talk to. They were friendly and although we didn't exchange phone numbers, I did feel that I had survived this excursion outside my comfort zone.

I started thinking about just how much the move has encouraged me to go "outside the zone" more than usual. Probably because I know I'm going to have to do that in order to meet new folks. But it's also affected non-people things. Like the mat I'm working on - which was a challenge on Rug Hooking Daily to incorporate a design element belonging to someone else into a rug of your own. It's not an element I would choose on my own, but it has pushed me into a design that is a stretch - that I would never have discovered without the challenge.

And the sweater on my needles - although started from a "moose" kit from The Purple Purl - is now a hybrid of two patterns to turn what would have been a cardigan into a long vest. Again, something that is outside the zone, and something I may not have done before. I'll keep you posted on the progress there. Here's one little sneak peak of the first bit I've knit. Right now, it looks a little post-Olympic, but the moose will begin in about 2")

In the end, I think moving a little bit outside is turning out to be a good thing. I'm not naive enough to think that being out there full time is going to be a fun thing at first. After all, I'm one of the most "people people" I know.

But it is interesting to watch myself reacting to it. And to see how far outside the "zone" my move will take me.

Knitting in Paradise

Every year when we come to Barbados, I pack a knitting project or two. Usually socks to knit on the plane and something to take to the ...