Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Halloween Concert is This Weekend!

I've been busy practicing and practicing. I'm almost ready for our annual Halloween Music Concert at church. I started it last year, performing several "dark" piano and organ pieces for Halloween. I also invited a guest organist, Dr. Richard Peak, to perform Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". It was lots of fun, and very successful. So, this year I'm doing it again.

I'll be starting off the concert with several fun pieces like themes from "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Then, we'll be dancing to "The Monster Mash". We also have a skit prepared with "Dracula" and our church's pastor having a conversation about blood.

After that, we'll be taking an offering. Half of the offering will go to Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief funds. The other half will be used by the church in our building fund. Our church is over 50 years old, and is in great need of repair.

After the offering is taken, we will continue the concert with more serious works, interspersed with true stories of Christian martyrs. It's amazing the suffering these martyrs had to endure for their faith. We take our faith for granted these days, not realizing how difficult it was in the foundation of our church. This musical tribute is our way of recognizing them for All Saints Day.

I'm looking forward to the concert. My fingers are ready!

If you want to come, the concert will be taking place at Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. The address is 4012 Central Avenue.

Why are Disasters "blamed" on the Government?

I tell you....I am so sick of hearing everyone cast blame on the establishment for the effects of disasters. I mean, it's called a "disaster" for a reason. If it was easy to fix, it would be called a "little problem".

Take Hurricane Katrina, for instance. I feel sorry for the plight of the people that endured that tragedy. I even gave money to The United Way to support the rebuilding of that area. But, it just amazed me to see everyone blaming the government for the way things turned out. Don't get me wrong.....I'm not downplaying the extent of the disaster. As I said before, it's called "disaster" for a reason. Utter turmoil and confusion go hand in hand with events such as these.

But why in the world did we expect it to all be fixed the very next day? This was a disaster unlike anything we had ever experienced before. No one knew how bad it would be. No one could have known. I would go so far as to say that if we HAD known, we STILL wouldn't have been able to handle it.

The crux of the problem was the fact that many of those people chose to stay instead of evacuating. They usually stick it out through these hurricanes, so they expected to do the same this time. But, when things went wrong, they started blaming everyone else! The disaster would not have been as bad if they had left before the storm. That's the real problem. People should not live under sea level in the path of hurricanes. It's just not smart.

Another thing....our society has gotten to the point that we expect everything to be fixed immediately if things go wrong. We watch movies and see tragedy corrected in a well-planned manner by the heroes of the story. We see soldiers and government officials and muscular civilians being "super heroes" in the face of disaster. Everything turns out perfectly in the movies.

Our society has developed a mindset that our real world functions the same way. Well, it doesn't. We are all human, including the government officials and soldiers and muscular civilians. I wouldn't expect any one of you to handle Hurricane Katrina any better than it was handled. Get real. There is no such thing as a real Rambo. Sure, there are brave men and women who overcome tremendous obstacles and live to tell the tale. But even if you combined all of them, they wouldn't have been able to fix Hurricane Katrina either. They would have all been crying like babies and wading through the waters too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Excitement in Sandy's Craft Room

I know, craft work doesn't sound exciting to you, but it is to me! If you've read other entries in my blog, you'll know that I spent quite a bit of time getting this craft room ready. After sorting crafts, choosing furniture, painting the walls (yech!), and setting it up, I am more than deserving to enjoy my craft room as much as I like.

A few nights ago, I made my little door decoration of a sheep saying, "Don't BAAAAAther me" from a t-shirt I got on eBay. The t-shirt is a size medium, and I am a few sizes bigger than that, so I can't imagine that I would ever be able to wear it. So, I cut out the design on the front, cut a similar sized piece from the back, but quilt batting between the layers, and sewed them together. Next, I added sequins and beads on the stars to make them twinkle. Then, I added a pretty lace border on the sides. Now, it is hanging on my craft room door, warning intruders to stay away. It sure is nice to have a sanctuary from the chaos.

Speaking of chaos, I think my craft room is beginning to fall into that category as well. lol

A-crafting I will go....A-crafting I will go.....Heigh Ho the Dairy Oh......A-crafting I will go!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Wonderful Day at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair!

Yesterday was such a wonderful day. I went to my very first fiber fair. The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is taking place in the mountains of North Carolina right now. I attended the opening day and they are continuing the fair today and tomorrow. I wanted to go every day, but my schedule would not allow it. I had to play the organ for a wedding today, and I also have to play for church tomorrow, so that keeps me home this weekend.

But, yesterday was free, so off I went to the mountains. The weather was absolutely perfect as I drove my little 4 cylinder car up and down the hills. It's a good thing I wasn't in a hurry, because my engine was struggling just to make it up those hills! I stayed in the right lane, along with all the slow moving trucks. I know one thing, if you want to see how good your car's engine is, just take it on a trip to the mountains! Some cars were just whizzing by....lucky ducks!

Since I was driving in unfamiliar territory, I ended up getting lost. So I stopped a couple times asking for directions. One wrong turn ended up giving me the most beautiful view of the hills I've ever seen. I was on Happy Springs Road - lovely!! As I was driving along, viewing the gorgeous scenery, I said out loud, "When I retire, I want to live right here!" Cabins, grazing animals, beautiful mountains, green grass, perfect skies, nice cool breezes. It really was a little bit of heaven.

Eventually, I arrived at my destination. The Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. Finally! I wasn't sure which building to go to first, so I pulled out the map I had printed from the website and perused the layout. I decided to go on into the main building. I was afraid to look at the animals first, because they might set off my allergies, which would make for a very long day. So, into the yarn and fiber displays I went.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with loads of handspun yarn. If I wasn't careful, I would spend every dime I had without taking another step. I decided to walk all around the entire arena before I bought anything. I wanted to see my options first!

I turned right at the top of the circular arena and looked at each display. Many of the vendors were just getting started setting up their wares, since I was there early on the first day. It turned out to be a blessing, because I was catching the sales before anyone else had even seen them. At one display, a lady was selling sock yarn for $2.00 a skein! I spent 10 dollars, and had 5 skeins of beautiful sock yarn as a reward. That stuff usually sells for about 8 dollars a skein! I was pleased.

I came upon one lady who had angora rabbits in cages. I was so taken with those rabbits, having never seen one up close before. They are so much bigger than I thought they would be! They looked like JUMBO rabbits to me.

I asked the lady if they like to be touched, and she said, "Go ahead, touch 'em all you want." So, I carefully put my hand forward and stroked the back of one rabbit. So soft! Like butter!! It took me a few minutes to take my hand away, because I was enraptured with the feel of it. If I wasn't careful, I would be walking out the door with a newly purchased angora rabbit! She told me all about the rabbits, how she takes care of them and how she shears their fur a few times each year.

As you know, I'm a new spinner, trying to master using my Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel. I noticed that she had a spinning wheel set up in her area, so I mentioned that I am trying to learn to spin, and I've never seen anyone do it in person before. She said, "Oh, let me show you!" She was so sweet. She sat right down and started spinning. I asked her some questions, and she gave me lots of good information. I'm feeling much better about my spinning education now.

Next, she showed me some angora blended yarn. Unbelievably soft. I thought that I would never buy any other type of yarn again. No wonder angora sweaters are so expensive. It felt like baby skin.

Next, she showed me the alpaca yarn. She said that she raises alpaca also. The alpaca was just as soft as the angora! She showed me the difference in the feel of a hat made with wool, and a hat made with alpaca. Amazing. I decided that I had to forego my earlier plan and purchase some alpaca fur from this lady. Besides, she had been so helpful to me already!

I bought 4 ounces of dark brown alpaca, and 3 large bags of hand-dyed cotton roving. (It was soft too!) Altogether, I spent 20 dollars at her display. So far, I had spent 30 dollars in one hour. I decided to just look for a while, to keep my dollars in my pocket. I needed to make sure that I had enough money to eat and buy gas for my trip home!

After looking at all the other displays, I glanced at my watch and noticed that it was already 12 noon. My knitting class would start at 1:00, so I chose to break for lunch. Unfortunately, they had no food vendors, so I drove down the road and bought a chicken salad sandwich at Arby's. Those sandwiches are so good. I also treated myself to a cherry turnover and a small Mountain Dew. It made for a nice lunch.

When I came back to the arena, it was almost time for my class to start. I found the class, and chose a seat near the back. The instructor asked what kind of projects we were knitting on our own, I waited for the others to talk, then admitted that I was making socks. She said, "Why are you in this class? You don't need to know anything I'm teaching today." I said that I've never taken a knitting class before, so I just wanted some reassurance that I was doing things properly. She agreed to let me stay, and then we started her project.

It was a cute little amulet bag that looks like an owl. It was fun to make. I did learn a few things, so it wasn't a waste of money. When the class was over, I asked her to show me a few other kinds of stitches I needed to understand better. She was very helpful. I was amazed to hear that she has been knitting for 50 years! I don't think I'll make it that far, unless I live to be 90.

When I left that class, I walked over to the animal buildings. I had saved this for last, because I was afraid that my allergies would act up. This way, I could leave and drive with my windows open to clear out my lungs.

The animals were so sweet. I saw the llamas first. They seemed so kind and gentle. I took some photos of them, and they didn't even flinch. One of them was standing close to his owner, and the man wrapped his arm around the llama's neck and gave him a hug. It was so darling.

Next, I walked over to the alpaca display. They were just as gentle, with the most beautiful doe eyes. I was in love. I imagined myself living in a little cabin with an angora rabbit to snuggle, and an alpaca to play with. Dreamy.

I learned a lot about yarn, spinning, fiber, roving, animals, and knitting. It was a very productive day. I would only change one thing about it all. I wish I could have stayed for all three days. Next year, I'm getting a substitute organist so I can get away for the whole event.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Here's my little teapot!

In order to avoid burning down my house, I have had to purchase a new tea kettle.

My very first teapot was beautiful, shiny, and copper. It was a gift from a sweet lady at my first wedding. The teapot was beautiful, and sat on our counter for about 2 years. Then, I had my first child, Joshua. He was a sweet quiet baby, but a little taxing sometimes (I later found out that he was autistic). So, one day when I was feeling a bit tired, I decided to try out my beautiful teapot and make a nice cup of hot tea. It was enjoyable, and helped me to relax.

Thereafter, I often would set the kettle boiling and make tea to help me make it through the day. Especially after my second was born (Noah). He was quite different from Josh in every aspect. Loud, silly, and fun-loving. He's still the same today. : )

One evening, I put the teapot on the stove, then went upstairs to change diapers, brush teeth, wash faces, read bedtime stories, etc. I completely forgot about the teapot, and discovered its charred remains the next morning. I was devastated, because it was such a beautiful pot - and I didn't have the money to replace it.

Over the years, I have bought other teapots and ruined them all. Bummer. I guess their whistle wasn't insistent enough for my hearing. So, I quit buying teapots, and just boiled water on the stove in a small saucepan. Big mistake. Now I have sent several small saucepans to an early grave.

After burning my last tiny metal saucepan (which was a nice pot from a set I received as a gift from my mother), I resolved to find a teapot with a good strong whistle that I could afford.

I chose Target as my target for a new teapot. Slowly and carefully, I perused the small aisles of kitchen appliances until I spotted the cheap teapots on the bottom shelf. I wasn't willing to pay more than 20 dollars for a pot I might end up burning. Luckily for me, Copco manufactured a small teapot (1.5 quart capacity) , and the best part was the price - 10 dollars! Well, I snatched up that puppy, and headed for the register.

Here is a photo that looks quite similar to it:

Cute, huh? I was pleased. I read the instruction leaflet in the box, just for fun. I was surprised to read that you should never turn the burner to high. You should only use a low or medium setting.

Well, I tried that out, and 10 minutes later, the water was not whistle or anything. So, I decided to forego the instructions and turn that bad boy up. Success! It was boiling and whistling like a steam train in about a minute. I walked down the hall to see if I could hear it from all reaches of the house. Being satisfied with the quality of whistle tone, I went back to make myself a cup of tea. It was excellent.

So now, I think I have finally found my perfect teapot. Unbelievable after so many years of burning metal.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Christmas Knitting

Since I have a craft room now, I MUST make myself do plenty of crafts for Christmas. My church usually has a craft bazaar, so I'm trying to make some things for that. See that huge box full of Christmas yarn? I have no excuse - I must be knitting. : )

I've made LOTS of scarves now, so at least I've gotten one thing accomplished. Hopefully, they'll all sell at the Christmas bazaar. I usually charge 15 to 20 dollars for each scarf. It was fun to make them the color I want, instead of trying to match a color request from a customer.
They'll say something like, "I want Vanilla, with Gold Flecks." So, I'll try several different combinations until I get it to look like what they asked for. It's a real pain sometimes, like when I had someone ask for a scarf with "purple, red, and yellow for my daughter". It took FOREVER to make a good combination with THOSE colors! Gladly, my customer was thrilled with the results, so I guess I got it right.

I've also been making some embroidered Christmas cards. I'm not sure if I want to sell those. I might decide to use them myself!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What Do You Call This Decade Anyway?

OK, I know what to call the past few decades. The 60's, the 70's, the 80's, the 90's. But what is THIS decade - The OO's? Oohs? Aughties? Zips? Ohs? Zeros?

I am so confused.

When VH1 looks back on the music of this decade, what will the title be? "I love the ooh's"?

Is there a way for us to see what they called it in the 1900's? Is there anything in old newspapers that refers to the decade from 1900 to 1910?

And while we're on the subject, what will we call NEXT decade? The Ten's? Teens?

Now, I'm more confused than I was before.