bits and pieces

news about a sunny weekend – probably similar to yours if yours involved bonnets

It was a gorgeous weekend, wasn’t it. I ate my annual box of Peeps (I am a traditionalist and don’t cotton to Halloween and Christmas peeps….the horror!). I trucked out to Astoria to have Sunday mid-afternoon lunch at my favorite Greek restaurant, only to find it closed, for Easter, I assume. Shoulda thought about that one. But who cares, it was a beautiful drive, and a very nice walk. And when I came home, I had Greek salad.

Saturday brought the annual pillow fight, in Union Square —

pillow fight with an ironic arched eyebrow and cameras everywhere

And Sunday brought the annual Easter Parade up Fifth Avenue —

so very dandy!

I got out and about, in Riverside Park and then back up Broadway – so beautiful, gauzy springy blossomy yumminess:

Riverside Park, coming back to life
tulip tree in bloom, Broadway & ~107th

And I saw this Saturday – maybe you’ve already seen it, but it was new to me. I always thought Mary Poppins was just a little bit creepy:

And I’ll leave you with a musical recommendation: Honey Honey, by Feist. Eerie and beautiful, and the video is kind of awesome. I can’t get unstuck from Telephone – Gaga strikes me again – but this song is such a different mood it does have its moments in my earworm list.

Homing in on the toe of my Kai-Mei sock, will post a pic when it’s done. I have to say, that Cookie A is one clever sock designer. Her patterns are such fun, and make you feel like a clever knitter.

today’s mission(s):

spring has sprung and the air is sweet (and yeasty!)

Baking some bread

Making pizza for tonight’s dinner

pizza

Since I’ve been dying for cake: yellow cake with chocolate frosting

AND cutting out a linen dress, cleaning the floors, doing some knitting — because it’s so springy outside, and tomorrow we’re heading out to Astoria, to our favorite Greek restaurant for a leisurely afternoon.

Happy happy spring!

sticks and stones

is it aaaaart? or craft?

Back in the years when I was sewing all the time, making my and my kids’ clothes and sewing quilts, that’s what I said. I sew. Yeah, I sew. Now, apparently, I’d refer to myself as a sewist. The first time I read that online, it hit my ear so badly I couldn’t read further. I thought, “sewist? that’s dumb.” But what’s the alternative? Sewer? oops. You’d have to put a hyphen in there so people didn’t think you were describing yourself as a receptacle for human waste. Sew-er. But that just looks dumb.

It’s not dumb, finding a way to transfer something to an identity statement. For physical health, it represents an important psychologist shift to move from “I have diabetes” to “I am a diabetic.” The American Psychological Association requires researchers to name the participants in their experiments as “people with X” so as not to reduce them to a condition. So it’s not dumb! I get it!

But sewist?

And then this morning I read a post on whipup.net that described specific people as makers.  “On the front cover appears the work of three makers…”  Some of those featured are called stitchers, and of course there are quilters and knitters and artists. The word crafters has something of a shoddy reputation (maybe that’s just me, part of my generation, speaking to glue guns and large plastic canvas stitched with gaudy acrylic yarn fashioned into kleenex box holders hello my dear former mother-in-law).

Which then, inexorably, leads to the debate between art and craft. And by craft, I mean very fine craft, not the plastic canvas craft. Craft as in American Craft. Craft that overlaps quite heavily with art. One of my pet phrases seems to be “overlapping Venn diagrams” — I’ve noticed I say it at least a few times a week, for one reason or another. There is clearly a category of handwork that stays on the crafty side of craft, whose practitioners like to shop at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, and who undoubtedly get so much pleasure from their handwork….and that’s the point! And there is another clear category of work that stays on the art side of art – work that’s about expressing an idea, presenting a project. Work that can’t exist without highly skilled specific talents, but that is much more about expressing an idea. I adore that category. (And have you seen Art:21 on PBS? YOU SHOULD! Right! Away! You can watch it online, too, for free. I just stumbled upon it last night on streaming Netflix, already in its 5th season.)

And then there’s the larger category of the muddy middle. I adore that category too. The category of breathtaking skill and care. The category that encompasses very fine handwork in quilts, woodworking, needlework, glass, metalwork, printmaking. The category that would include Kellie Wulfsohn‘s quilts:

amazing - double-click to see the detail

The category that would include handmade chairs and tables made with the most incredible attention to detail – I’m blanking on the name of a man who recently died, one of the very best there was. Dang it. Getting old is the pits.  The category also includes this: a toilet made of horse dung:

created by Virginia Gardiner

It’s not accidental that she uses poop to make a toilet – it’s part of her project. Is it art? No, but it sure isn’t craft(y) either.

Anyway. Names matter, even if they represent very slippery and porous categories. I have a daughter who is an artist – I’m not an artist. I aspire to Craft. BUT p.s., I am not a sewist. I sew.

To close on a different and hilarious note, this ad from the 1950s:

double-click to see it full size

Here’s what it says in the copy:

Does any man really understand you?
Who knows you as you really are? Does he?
Who knows the secret hopes that warm your heart?
Who knows the dreams you dream, the words you’ve left unspoken?
Who knows the black-lace thoughts you think while shopping in a gingham frock?
Who knows you sometimes long to sleep in pure-silk sheets?
Who knows you’d love to meet a man who’d hold your hand and listen … while you say nothing at all?
Who knows there was a morning when your orange juice sparkled like champagne? [what?]
Who knows the secret, siren side of you that’s female as a silken cat?

WOWIE.

i seem to be on some kind of roll

do it anyway.

I was cleaning up my computer desktop at work and found a little text file curiously named “z.txt”. When I opened it, I found this:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

awww.

oh the humanity

you’re really no worse than anyone else – give yourself a break, man.

I miss David Foster Wallace. A lot. I find myself thinking about him, about his way of being in the world (and of course the fact that he’s not here). There is a new book coming out titled Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, written by Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky, and this little DFW quote is used in a number of feature articles about the book:

“If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it. I know that sounds a little pious.”

It’s coming out in paper, and in Kindle, and I just preordered the Kindle edition which will release April 13.

It is hard to do that, to be as gentle and compassionate with ourselves as we are with others. (Well, for most people anyway – discounting the truly mean and sadistic.) Of course we know our own true hearts, our own sometimes cruel and mean-spirited thoughts about other people or the world. We know those things about ourselves, and I believe we would be stunned to be let in on the internal dialogue of people we know…..we’d be stunned to learn the things they think, the things they think about us, even though we know we have the same types of thoughts. But we think we are the mean-spirited one, we know that about ourselves. There is a saying in AA (I think?) that goes something like “don’t judge your insides by other peoples’ outsides.” That’s brilliant! We do that, all the time. We struggle, but it looks like other people don’t so we must be failures.

I have a friend who was trying to learn how to knit – to offer a very simple example – and she made mistakes in her first scarf. She had to rip out rows. Her work was flawed and didn’t look all that great. And she thought there was something wrong, she didn’t have the makings of a knitter. But we all make mistakes, and rip out rows, and are aware of that weird place under the arm where we had too many stitches and tried to fix it by doing some strange decreases that really don’t look all that good but if we keep our arm at our side maybe no one will notice and anyway I don’t feel like ripping back so many rows I just want to get the damned thing done.

Of course there’s a fine line between being compassionate with ourselves and excusing ourselves a little too easily. I usually err on the side of keeping myself on the hook, flaying myself with recrimination for every lazy thing, every uncaring thing, I shouldn’t be so harsh, I should’ve I could’ve I would’ve. I don’t want to fail to take responsibility for what I do and say, probably to a pathological extent. But compassion….I could think about how I try so hard, and how I mean well and struggle with my own difficult places just as others do.

All at once, spring appeared in the trees and flowers in my city – it sure helps. The pale greens and bright yellows and pinks make me feel expansive, compassionate, open – even with myself. I wish I’d had my camera with me this morning to  show you, but someone else’s photo will suffice for now:

[photo courtesy of newyork808]

self-perception theory

gee, I guess I’m really a sock knitter!

I am a social psychologist; most people think ‘psychologist’ means therapist, but clinical psychology is only one subdiscipline. There are cognitive psychologists, who do research to understand the way we think (and other stuff), developmental psychologists, who do research to understand….um…. human development across the lifespan, industrial/organizational psychologists who apply psychology to work, health psychologists who study mind-body stuff and health communication etc. Social psychologists do research on all kinds of things, but the bottom line is that humans are social animals, and our behavior is affected by that fact, whether we like it or not. Social psychologists have done some really fascinating studies – some quite controversial, like Zimbardo’s prison studies at Stanford in the 1970s, and Milgram’s obedience studies at Yale in the 1950s.

One very interesting line of research concerns how we understand and learn who we are. We observe ourselves! We don’t realize we know something, or like something, or do something, until we notice that we do it a lot. This is primarily a knitting blog, believe it or not, so let me put this all together: Apparently I’m a sock knitter! I didn’t know that, and if asked to describe myself as a knitter, I don’t think I’d ever say that I’m a sock knitter. (Note, I could also say that I’m a cowl knitter and that would be true…. maybe it’s that I’m an accessory knitter.)

I just noticed that all the posts showing on this page feature socks. And if I look at my ravelry project page – the sock edition – I see 9 pairs of socks.

Hi. My name is Lori and I’m a sock knitter. What do you know about yourself from observing?

lucky duck

amen, brutha. amen.

[via the essential man]

I am among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy (and obviously therefore richer than 75% of the world); I am more blessed than a million people this week; and I am more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world. Lucky much, me?

EDIT: I followed all the retweeting, retumbling, etc., and think I found the originator of the poster, here. She said she didn’t write the piece, she just created the poster. Check her out via the link.