For this author, creative endeavors have been sorely tested by motherhood. But also transformed, and in ways she wouldn’t have imagined – couldn’t have, without her life “rewritten” as it has been, by her children. So linger here, to read all things weaverly, writerly and motherly.


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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sleepless Nights

So tired today. Sleepless nights. It’s become a pattern and I contemplate what over-the-counter meds to try. There’s Tylenol PM that knocks you dead. Or more “natural” herbal remedies which make you vaguely drowsy, left to drift in and out of restless dreams.

The wakeful nights started when my son came down with a stomach virus over the weekend. He was up nights afraid he would throw up (he never did).  Eventually he would go back to sleep. Then I would lay in bed. And what do I lie there thinking about? I don’t think. I worry. I’m a chronic worrier. I worry about all the things that could happen that haven’t happened, that possibly could never happen in our neck of the woods, like a tsunami washing away our house.  Well, we do live on Long Island, a peninsula out in the ocean…

I think about the empty house next door, where our neighbor died last month. I imagine her home alone, one evening, dying in her favorite chair. Better yet, in a sound sleep, in the middle of a great dream, one of my favorites, about flying. I’m always disappointed when I wake up from dreams about flying – especially the ones when I’m soaring high above tree tops, and a sudden breeze drops me gently down into a cool jet stream.  In some of these dreams, I am a child flapping  my arms in the hope of flying, and I actually am able to lift myself up off the ground. I am in control of wide open, airy spaces.

There are days when I would like to take flight from it all. From my son whining all the way to school because he can’t have the goody bag he knows his brother is going to get at a birthday party; when the washing machine overflows. Again; when the credit card company calls to tell me my account has been breached by some small town in the Middle East, and I continue to make dinner, feeling violated; when I take my mother to doctor appointments and find myself talking over her to the doctors about symptoms she may have failed to mention; in the next moment, I am angry as if I am twelve again, when I didn’t want her telling me what to do; when I’m too tired at night to reciprocate my husband’s gentle, loving caress; when I regret firing the house cleaner, when the sun falls a certain way, and I see the accumulation of bacon grease on the stove; when my “clutter” baskets are overflowing, and every closet I open reminds me of my total neglect of household organization; when my children won’t eat their dinner, and I remind them of all the starving children in the world, as  I make them scrape their own full plates into the garbage. When I feel far less than the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect wife that I shouldn’t aspire to be.

When I’m this tired and this sleepless, I contemplate standing out on the front lawn and flapping my arms wildly, in the hope of taking flight. If I could only go to sleep and at least dream about it.  That. Flying. Soaring.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Triangle Loom

I've received some nice comments on my shawls which is encouraging! But a lot of people assume that they are knitted, which is ironic since I'm a TERRIBLE knitter! So am posting here a picture of the triangle loom that I weave the shawls on. Each shawl is five triangles sewn together. Sometimes I add a sixth triangle down the back, but haven't decided which style I prefer. They're fun to weave with these fuzzy cozy yarns, so soft and also washable.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Our Quaking Earth and Spring's First Bug

I don’t remember the earth ever seeming quite this fragile.  Of course, we are contaminating it with all our plastic and cast-off-old-electronics etc. wastes. Still, I have always thought of our planet as essentially impervious, a solid stable mass suspended in space.

But with all these natural disasters seeming to come at once, this solid sphere has begun to seem as precarious as an egg. Threatening to crack open and fragment. There was the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Then the one in New Zealand – I have a relative there who says the aftershocks occur every ten minutes. As bad as that quake was, especially as she is in the midst of it, the damage there is minimal compared to the devastation in Japan. Then came the tsunami. A huge wave washing in and sweeping away thousands of lives, is beyond comprehension, and I find myself trying to envision it. Much like the replayed YouTube videos of cars being tumbled around like so much ocean flotsam. Bits of seaweed. At the mercy of Mother Nature who has turned mean.

Those thousands who didn’t die along Japan’s coast are left stranded, and in the shadow of a nuclear disaster.  One mother interviewed wished only for a chance to bathe. She couldn’t think much past that.  I think about all this, as I go about my daily routines, grateful for the mundane, getting the mail and bringing in the garbage pails.

One afternoon, when I was doing just that, my seven year old called to me. I’d just picked the boys up from school and it was an unusually warm March day. They lingered slowly up the walkway.

Ryan had dropped his backpack to peer at something in the grass. “Mom, a bug! Spring’s first bug!”

“Yeah?” I called distractedly, replacing the garbage pails and picking up Ryan’s stray scooter from the driveway, wondering why I didn’t tell him to do it; I was tired and it was easier just to do it myself, so my husband wouldn’t run over it when he came home.

“MOM!” He yelled, knowing my tone, the one when he knows I’m not paying attention. “Spring’s first BUG!”

I was thumbing through the mail. All junk mail, catalogues I refuse to open because I don’t want to buy anything we don’t need. Solicitations. Nothing ever personal anymore, except birthday party invitations for the boys.


His excitement was genuine, and I realized he really thought he’d discovered the very first bug of the season. He was grinning from ear to ear. “You have to see!”

I knelt down. It was hard to see the bug, black against the brownish grass. But I wanted to get closer.  “I see it.”

Spring’s first bug. I was grateful for this moment. I was grateful for the escape from the world, from my worries, into a small safe haven, however fleeting.

And I was glad that my son so easily could escape into such moments, still too young to know life’s real risks. At the same time, this innocence breaks my heart; there is finally no fool-proof shield against these risks. We all live on the same vulnerable planet.

Now I think about that, what my own desire to escape into that small moment meant, my guilt in this desire to turn my back on the misery of all these earthly devastations.  To not even want to read the news anymore.

But in that moment of watching spring’s “first bug,” I did find a short reprieve. The afternoon sun was on our backs. We peered down into our own shadows, at a tiny creature in the grass. A creature most miraculously it seemed, oblivious to all the earth’s perils.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Shawl Just Finished

Just finished my lavender/purple shawl. Experimenting with different drapes and closures. So soft and cozy, just love working with this yarn!  Trying to turn out quite a few of these, for a craft show I signed up for in June. Hope these are a good spring seller, as they are just enough warmth on a cool day over a T-shirt:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Washing Machine Woes

Recently, I had to have our washing machine fixed.  Not the first time. The repairman told me I do too much laundry.

Too much laundry? It’s a washing machine. It’s supposed to wash and spin. Its reason for being. To wash dirty clothes so I don’t have to wash them by hand. I’m considering investing an old fashioned washboard.

The first time this machine began to ail, the repairman warned me that these machines aren’t made the way they used to be – that is, to do loads and loads of laundry, which is the reason I bought it six years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child. So I expected to get what I was sold, a “heavy duty” huge-capacity washing machine, that would churn and spin for years to come without ailing (I never buy the extended warrantees…)

The second time I had the machine fixed, we must have invested close to what we paid for it, as the motor or something or other had actually burned out. The machine had to work too hard to pump the water up the pipes.

So on top of the repair cost, we had to invest $1000 to reroute the water DOWN, into a sink with a pump that was stronger than the machine to pump the water back UP the pipes; as well as less durable, today’s machines are not made powerful enough to pump water up pipes higher than four feet – which is what our machine had to do, and what the VERY old machine was able to accomplish ten years ago, when we first moved in; I bet the life of that machine was a good twenty years. Don’t think you can even measure a washing machine’s life in dog years. Maybe closer to a rat’s or a Betta fish's.

The third time I had the repairman come, the timer was broken and had to be replaced. Fine. Seemed simple enough. At least total cost less than $200.

Exactly, only, one week later, I went down to the basement to find that the machine had stopped mid cycle and the clothes were just sitting in water. So I tried to set it to re-spin, went about my business back upstairs – only to come back down later, to a flooded basement.

By resetting the machine, it had actually refilled with water, on top of the old water, so that it overflowed. I've developed a mental block and cannot even remember what the issue finally was, only what it cost: close to $400. Mr. Repairman and I deliberated back and forth, whether it wouldn’t be better to just buy a new one. Nice enough guy.

Psychologically, I couldn’t just give up on the machine after all the money we had now invested in the damn thing, and took my husband’s attitude about his old Saturn car, that I would “run it into the ground.”  Mr. Repairman agreed, there was still “life” in the machine – that is, if I don’t load the machines (as fully as the salesman told me I could); don’t do too many jeans or towels at once; don’t do so many LOADS – he seemed shocked that I admitted to doing at least one load a day. (Either he’s not married, doesn’t have children, or has no clue about the laundry his own wife has to do…)

So now I don’t do laundry every day. Sometimes not even every OTHER day. I used to throw all my boys’ clothes in the hamper as soon as they came off, especially when they were smaller and every shirt inevitably was covered in encrusted food. Now I let the boys wear their jeans a good three times before they go in the basket, shirts as often, if I can get by without too many blatant stains. I wear my own clothes even longer, as long as they don’t stink.

Towels still get washed.

It’s my husband who fills the machine: this is a man who cannot wear a pair of pants twice. I can understand the shirts, as well, men sweat more profusely perhaps. But the pants? He says he spills on them at lunch time, and I think about suggesting napkins. . . . Hopefully he’s not reading this, because he will know then that sometimes I dish out those pants from the hamper, and hang them back up. I mean, he even throws wool SWEATERS in the hamper; I wash sweaters once a season before storing them away in the cedar trunk.

In any case, we’re all a lot dirtier, but  for good economical reason, to prolong the life of a machine I refuse to call old; at best, it is middle-aged and should get at least six more years of life, as far as I’m concerned.

Oh, here was Mr. Repairman’s final suggestion: next time, don’t buy a machine with so many dials – the more options a machine has, for knits, delicate, semi-delicate, handwashables etc., the more chance you have of problems. Truthfully, I don’t use any of those precise settings. I didn’t even consider that I would. I bought the machine because it was just that, so-called, heavy duty. Huge-capacity. Sure.

Maybe I’ll forget dials and washers all together. There are plenty of those washboards being sold on line. You might see me out back with a big wash bin next time, instead of buying a new machine. Certainly, instead of calling the repairman again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Should Have, Could Have....

There are many nights when I go to bed thinking I could have handled things differently with my children.  By the end of some days, when my nerves are raw, after the washing machine overflows and floods the basement, or after a visit to my elderly mother who is now finding it hard even to open a bottle of juice, I can snap. And at the end of one of such day, I found my five year old playing at my studio table.

He was spinning on my ergonomic chair, which I tolerate, especially since my fiber table is in the playroom – hard for momentarily bored child to resist. But then I found him strumming on my latest weaving . My new triangle loom, on which I’ve been weaving the shawls that I’ve blogged about here.

I had the loom flat on the table, with the next-to-last triangle for a shawl just about finished. Kenny was strumming on it. Strumming the warps like the strings of a harp.

And there I was in his face, with a spatula in my hand from mixing the rice for dinner: “That’s MOMMY’S. I worked HARD on that. Don’t TOUCH. What are you THINKING?!”

His little face crumbled. He mumbled a tiny crumpled “sorry,” and headed to the couch to sulk.  Then he was crying.

I went back to making dinner, madly stirring the rice.

I had to think about this, even though annoyance was bubbling like lava in my gut. I had to figure out, frankly, whether I wasn’t more annoyed and angry with myself than with him, for acting no better than he could, when he would be the one to fly into a rage because his brother “touched” something of his, even some dried-up pen left on the floor, the cap long since lost. I mean, the fact was,  he’d “strummed” the warps once or twice and gently. It had been a brief moment of daydreaming, of spinning on my chair, of reaching out curiously, to touch something enticing on a loom that was as knew to him as it was to me. But he’d touched something of MINE.

I knew I’d overreacted.  I had to apologize.  And I did.  And he calmed down, and we were ok.

 Still, that night, I went to bed thinking I could have handled the situation differently. Better. In my mind, I replayed the moment correctly, as the calm mother who would have more lightly, simply, asked my son to please get off my chair and not touch my weavings. On days when life goes as planned, when there aren’t the smaller and sometimes bigger surprise crises, maybe that is exactly how I would have reacted.

I draw some comfort from other moms who admit to this, that there are nights when they go to bed and reenact situations they wish they’d handled better. At least there is this: in that reenacting, we are reminding ourselves of how much we love our children. That we care deeply enough to deeply regret.

But perhaps we can regret too deeply – there is no good lesson in our over-reacting to our children. But perhaps there is in our apology; when we veer off course from our perfect behavioral instincts towards our children, our having to apologize can be a reminder to them that parents are not perfect. And in that reminder is perhaps a seed of responsibility that we can pass onto our children, even at the tender age of five – that they need to learn how to be as patient and forgiving of others and their imperfections, as we are expected to be patient and forgiving of them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Rope Bracelet

Now that I've been making rope necklaces with beads, decided to branch out into the bracelets -- I really enjoy sculpting the wire around the beads, to see what kinds of designs I can come up with:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Second Shawl!

Just finished my second shawl on my two-foot triangle – this one uses five triangles, and drapes a bit differently from the last one (see in an earlier blog). I left out the last triangle that I'd attached down the back. And reversed the actual hang drape of this one. And this one has an actual closure button with a bit of fringe which I rather like:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Etsy Weavers: Interview with Sandra Tyler

Etsy Weavers: Interview with Sandra Tyler

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Writer Weaves a Tale...: New display now up in Sandra's Fiber Cybershop!

A Writer Weaves a Tale...: New display now up in Sandra's Fiber Cybershop!: "On a monthly basis, I rotate a display of fiber folk's work that I admire -- fiber artists submit their links so I can browse their ow..."

New display now up in Sandra's Fiber Cybershop!

On a monthly basis, I rotate a display of fiber folk's work that I admire -- fiber artists submit their links so  I can browse their own shops, for items  to exhibit in my cybershop, on my own little cyber street (I like to imagine that next door is a cyber coffee shop...) No consigment fees, 100% profit is theirs if they happen to sell!

So come in and browse, and if you like what you see click on their links to see more of their creative treasures. Fun and a great way to promote fellow fiber folk:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is it Safe for Your Child Eat Food off the Floor?

As if I don't have enough to worry about. Like my son's food allergies, and my other son possibly having to have a front baby tooth extracted. 

Of course, all the worrying began from the day I brought my first born home from the hospital, and was instructed by his pediatrician to boil all his bottles. I'd watch them bob on the surface of my spaghetti pot, wondering, hoping, I was boiling away every last microscopic trace of nasty bacteria. Later, when he was a toddler, I'd fret  about any tiny scratch, and just to stem the dramatic tears, I'd freely dole out Diego Band-Aids.

But as my first born and his brother have gotten older, I'm perhaps less attentive to such little things as scratches, as well as  perfectly-timed bi or tri-weekly baths. And I don't wash their clothes after one wear (especially after the repairman told me that, to extend the life of the washing machine, I needed to do less laundry).
I've become less obsessive about proving myself  the perfect mom, a little more impatient, more apt to vacuum up a tiny Star Wars lego than stoop to dig it out of the carpet. Band-Aids had become far too popular in this house, and now I only resort to Batman or Spiderman ones if our boys are truly bleeding. Gushing. And if they drop a cookie on the floor, and ask if they can still eat it, I say yes.

So the other day, during my tri-weekly escape onto the treadmill, I read on my little compact  iphone this little New York Times article about how children should never eat food dropped on the floor. That we should forget the five-second rule for how long it has been on the floor, a rule I never heard of, anyway.

"So can I still eat it?"  my seven-year-old often has asked warily, after dropping a Oreo on the floor. Because he has food allergies, he IS cautious, but I always thought perhaps too cautious as to this issue; I'm sure countless times as a child I myself ate more than just dropped food off the floor...

"YES..."I call out to him impatiently, from wherever I am, emptying the garbage or catching up on the morning's dishes before starting dinner. I'm not throwing away a perfectly good Oreo, just because it fell on our carpet, which I DO vacuum once a week. 

I suppose my rule of thumb is – though, frankly, I never stopped to actually CONSIDER my rule of thumb on this issue, until now –  that if it falls on the floor in our house, it's ok to eat it. If it falls on the ground outside, throw it out. Then again, I'm sure that in summer when they have snacks outside and they drop a cookie in the grass, I'm not running inside to get another fresh, spotlessly clean cookie.

On the other hand, "Well, it really IS dirty," my husband might answer. I might roll my eyes. My son might then toss a perfectly good cookie into the garbage. 

Now that our boys are seven and almost six, as every year passes, I drop a bit more of my overly-cautious-have-to-boil-baby-bottles perspective, as if shedding pounds. Just as I've stopped washing their clothes after only one wear, and doling out Band-Aids. Sometimes I even forget when they last had a bath, especially since it has become torture to get them into the tub, and then torture to get them out...

But according to this New York TImes article, it not only doesn't matter where food is dropped, inside or outside. It doesn't matter for how long, as long as it's longer than a second. Harmful bacteria are savvy and ready to pounce, just waiting there, crouching like tiny hungry cats in your carpet. They wait for that dropped Oreo: 

"In a study published in 2006 in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, Clemson University researchers tested salmonella placed on wood, tile or carpet, and dropped bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30 or 60 seconds. With both wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria were transferred nearly immediately, and there was no difference by the time of contact. Carpet transferred a smaller number of bacteria, again with no difference by contact time. The amount transferred decreased over hours, but there were still thousands of the bacteria per square centimeter on the surfaces after 24 hours, and hundreds survived on the surfaces for as long as four weeks. "

So it's about time to go pick up the kids from school, and when they come home, they will ask for their afternoon cookie snack. And one will drop it on the floor. I'm already sweating my answer. Maybe I've become too underly-cautious the older I grow as a mommy? Maybe my husband is right, as he was right about the tiny pustule being more than what I tossed off as a cold-sore on my son's gum.

 "That's no cold sore," the dentist said, looking up from my son's mouth, but down at me, over his glasses. It was a possible tooth infection, the only solution an extraction.

So if I was wrong about the tooth, am I wrong about eating cookies off the floor? Or is this second-guessing just part of  being a mom? Or is life, like bacteria in your carpet, being examined too up close under too many microscopes?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rope necklaces with beads

I'm on a ROLL with these necklaces...really fun and rewarding to make, as they are simple but bright, multi-colored. Exciting to see what kind of color combinations I can come up with my rope machine. I'll have to include a picture of that with my next blog. Anyway, this is one I just completed this morning, a choker of yarn and railroad ribbon, that makes for a pearly and elegant feel, with one sweet clear glass bead wrapped in wire:

This one  is of rose salmon and black tones, richly colored -- would look great with a black T!
I really enjoy the sculpting I seem to be doing, as I wrap the beads in wire. New for me, wire!

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