A Busy Saturday

I try to not schedule anything out of the ordinary on Saturdays for I need the day to finish preparing for Sunday service and rest.

Today was an anomaly.

Sure, a basic house cleaning is normal. I did get in a couple hours of studying this afternoon and a couple more this evening but I’m not nearly as settled with the lesson and sermon as I like. I have confidence that it will all work out, after all, I have the best Teacher/Guide possible!

Today was fun!

Baked a couple pies this morning then a spinning / knitting friend drove down from Portland to deliver chunks of crabapple trunk and limbs that her neighbor had cut down this week. Afterwards we went to Silverton to hang out awhile at Apples to Oranges, the fabulous yarn store, where we met up with another fiber friend, and bought goodies. I resisted fiber, bought a set of needed dpns and caved on some stitch markers. Afterward we trooped up the street to a restaurant to have lunch and chat.

Suddenly it was almost 2pm, time to scurry back home before leaving again, at 4, with pie, for a birthday barbecue with family and friends.  We got there early so I could help set up. While waiting for everyone to arrive I was able to get several more rows knitted on the hand warmers that will be a Christmas gift. The fun part? Knitting them in front of her and she has no idea. 🙂

This first go-round on Wednesday turned out too big.
That one, above, was frogged. Size US5 / 3.75mm  needles were exchanged for US3 / 3.25mm. The first mitt is now to the point of starting the gusset. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll take a picture to post here.


Toastmaster Friday

Preparing my Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual early this morning I realized that this was my fourth formal speech. In less than seven months. One of the speeches was spur of the moment, given when one of the scheduled speakers called in sick.

All speeches have time parameters. One of the goals of Toastmasters is to learn to give your talk in the allotted time, give or take 30 seconds.

The speech I’d prepared was originally way too long at about 15 minutes. Researching brought up gems of history that seemed important to omit. It was the Persuasive Speech Project in the manual with the time allotment of 5 – 7 minutes. I’d taken on a behemoth of a topic that didn’t want to be easily tamed.

Signal lights are used to alert the speaker when time is running short. When the green light turned to yellow I panicked: 6 minutes had already passed and I wasn’t nearly to the end. Only one minute, plus that extra 30 seconds cushion, left to go. No way! I tried to wrap it up as quickly as possible while still getting my point across with a concluding statement.

It was way too long, 9 minutes, 27 seconds. Two minutes over! I have no idea how many votes I received, the other two speakers took the 1st and 2nd ribbons.

The woman assigned to evaluate my speech gave excellent feedback which I’ll implement next time.

Several told me to keep working on that same speech and give it again.  One of the great things about the program is that people are encouraged to give the same speech as many times as needed to polish it, to make it into a good speech.

Now that I’ve given it I have a much better grasp of how to improve it. Not only in condensing the content but use of space, and eye contact. Usually I remember to engage each person at least once during the speech. Not today. I realized that I hadn’t looked at several who I suspect would not appreciate, or understand my stance. None of them spoke to me after the meeting, not that I expected them too. Most have to rush off to work and don’t have time to hang around chatting when it finishes.

That early 7:30 – 8:30 meeting really is at a good time: our brains aren’t tired from a long day. Only two of the members are retired, everyone else works. Toastmasters focuses on self-disciple, not only in talking, listening, evaluating but in time management.

It is like a neatly trimmed, well managed tree.

What have I gotten myself in to?

On a whim this past May I attended a Toastmaster’s open-house event. Years ago we had a friend who encouraged us to join as he thought it was the best experience for helping people not only with talking but in listening. A friend’s name was on the list of the current Toastmaster, knowing someone there made it easier to take that deep breath and walk in the door where I was immediately and warmly greeted.

I loved the vibe, the people, the enthusiasm and the positive feedback people gave to those who gave speeches. After the second week I became a member.

Every week I dream of quitting, to drop this weekly obligation of being in town before 7:30 on Friday mornings. It doesn’t take long after the meeting begins to remember why I continue.

Someone put my name in one of the googledoc slots as a speaker tomorrow. I’d noticed it over two weeks ago. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare. In fact, I was scheduled to speak in August but cancelled the night before due to not feeling confident and prepared. I’ve given two other speeches, the introductory “Ice Breaker” and one I called “The Original Intentional Spinner”.  But the topic that’s been bumping around in my thoughts for a number of months is personal, and controversial. I do not feel prepared
with a passionate, informed, well reasoned speech.

This is short. I need to get a good night’s sleep, wake up early in the morning to finalize the last bits into place.

Michelle asked to see a picture of my neighbor’s wolfhound, Shayna.
Here’s a picture that I posted a year ago, she was not quite 3 years old:I’ll try to get a better, updated picture of her next time we walk.

Wednesday Walk

Thank you to all who’ve shared the story and link to Jenjoyce Design and purchased her patterns! Every one sold will go to helping her rebuild her life after the wildfires destroyed everything. A few dollars might not seem like much but they can add up given the collective power of the fiber community!

Come walk with me this Wednesday!

Frosty cold air nipped my cheeks as I headed down the road to meet my neighbor for our morning walk. We were both bundled up with hats and scarfs. Until just over a week ago the temperatures were still balmy, the sun shining. Today frost covered the ground and the skies were grey with drifting clouds of assorted greys. There seemed to be the feel of snow in the air though it’s certainly not in the forecast for our lower elevation.

Walking up the hill we passed the place where Silent Dog lives. He’s always outside watching us as we walk past his ears alert, keenly following our progress. Not JG or I so much as her elegant Wolfhound. For the longest time we contemplated if he was part Basenji for he never made a sound. We always talk to him as he calmly waves his tail, regally seated on the ground. Dignified and self-contained.

Then a few weeks ago when he seemed to think we hadn’t acknowledged him properly, he gave one quick, sharp bark, stood up and walked a bit towards us.

Today Silent Dog wasn’t in his normal spot. Movement caught my eye. He had his head through slats of an open window, watching us. Isn’t he a handsome, intelligent looking dog?
On up the hill, a block beyond the church a splash of color drew my attention to a plant I’d never noticed before. On closer look I felt sad that I’d missed the display of flowers that it must have had earlier this year.
When we got to 7th St we decided to turn up that direction instead of continuing up the long, steep hill. Today, rugs hung out where the knitted blanket had been. Much to our delight a rocking chair was in the yard as though someone was so eager for the return of a loved one that they had to sit outside watching for that first glimpse.
The picture below was taken yesterday when we walked to the top of the hill to see the fresh snow across the way on the Cascade Mountains.

Patterns and a Designer

Sunday I went through all my patterns for hats, scarves and fingerless gloves noting those that could be done with less than 140 yards. The list was weeded down to two: Selah’s Zig Zag Hat, by Susan Black, and  Amanda’s Christmas Wristlets. I had thought one of these would at least be cast on and a good start made today.

This morning an email notifying of a “Like” by Nothingbutknit2. A link to one of her post titles caught me attention so I clicked on Sunday Suggestion.

Am I glad I did! Blog author, Karen had written about a knitter/designer/spinner, Jenjoyce who’d lost her house, and everything, escaping with only her husband, dog and a few possessions, in the horrific firestorm that swept through Santa Rosa and the mountains of that area in N. California.

It’s hard to know how to help when these types of disasters happen. We can give to responsible, reputable organizations that are already in place but it seems more personal when we can directly help someone, even a little bit. Friends had reached out to Jen to ask what they could do, how they could help.  I encourage you to read for yourself Jen’s posts about the fire; see the pictures of the land she called home, her knitting/walking trails, the house that she and her husband built. They built, themselves over years of weekends and vacations.

The answer? Support her by buying one (or many!) of Jenjoyce Design patterns.

Jen has designed many lovely patterns to choose from! Jen has designed mittens, socks, cowls, scarves, leg warmers, hats, cardigans, sweaters, t-shirts, vests…I did use some restraint.
Tomorrow I’ll cast on for the first one, either the Altitude Mitts – Lace, or the Altitude Mitts – Ridges. These aren’t the only patterns I fell in love with and purchased. I hope numerous people will step up, buy some patterns; to give her a measure of hope for the future.

Mystery Blanket

One morning my walking partner and I were both low on energy so when we decided to turn off just before the road turns to gravel for the last long stretch of the uphill route we often take.

Coming to the last house before the road bends around a corner I suddenly stopped. A blanket airing out on the porch railing had caught my attention. The bright, cheerful colors called me to come closer.

As I approached astonishment and admiration grew. It drew me nearer. Was it really what it appeared to be?

The sun skimming around the side of the house cast a halo around it, dazzling me even more.

Throwing some caution to the wind I had to see it up close, never mind if someone inside was watching via a security camera!

Do you see those squares? The details? It had to be a hand knit blanket! In complete awe of this masterpiece I threw all caution to the wind and mounted the porch steps determined to ring the doorbell and get information. Had it been made by a resident knitter?

Aside from the monthly spinning group, and the Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild meetings in a different town it’s rare that I get together with other spinners or knitters. I’ve thought about trying to start a weekly or even bi-weekly knitting / spinning group here in town but have been reluctant at the idea of adding another weekly obligation to my schedule. I’d love a casual, local group that I didn’t have to be in charge of or anyone have the expectation that I’d always be there.

Two dogs ferociously barked behind the closed door. To no avail. The door stayed closed between us. I turned to admire the blanket, longing to hold it so I could really examine the stitches and patterns.
In the end I resisted out of respect for the people of the house. The blanket hasn’t been hung over the railing on the days that we’ve walked by since that late September day.

Someday I might feel bold enough to knock at the door again to have a chat about a knitted blanket that captured my admiration.