Sunday, April 30, 2017

Opening Celebration

The Jewish Artists Lab of Madison held the opening for our show this afternoon.
The theme for this year was: Outside/Inside: Exploring Boundaries and Otherness. My quilt is about how my grandfather was American on the outside, but carried a lot of feelings from his roots in the shtetl.

If you're interested, here is what I wrote about it:

As I thought about the theme in the early months of the cycle, my mind fixed on my paternal grandfather, Charles Kades (formerly Kadesevitz). He came to the United States from Lithuania in 1906 and grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill. He never got over the shame of his father’s refusal to assimilate. Charles himself spoke flawless English, graduated from UW-Madison, owned a successful auto parts store in Beloit, Wis., fished, and golfed. He is one of the kindest, most sensitive men I have ever known, and I was always touched by the stories he told of his childhood poverty. He spoke of how embarrassed he was that his father signed things for school with his signature in Yiddish because he refused to learn to write in English. Even though he was a prosperous American by any standard, the shtetl had made its mark on my grandfather.

The photo behind his head is a photo of downtown Beloit in the 1950s. The embroidered shtetl is based on a photo of the shtetl where Charles (then Chaskell) came from, Taureg, also known as Tavrik.

The Beloit Country Club did not admit Jews until the mid-1970s. My grandfather joined immediately.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Season, New Project

Yes, I'll use pretty much anything as an excuse to cast on. I am indeed shameless!
My friend Ilana is pregnant with her second baby. Ilana's mom, Lisa, told me that hats would be appreciated. Here's the funny thing: I met Lisa in Lamaze when I was pregnant with Seth, so I've known Ilana since she was a pre-born! It makes knitting for her extra special.

Today it rained and rained, which was fine because I had a ton of work to do. But yesterday was gorgeous, so I came home on time and found Naji enjoying porch weather:
Or was he keeping an eye on Daddy in case Keith forgot about dinner?

I appreciate a husband who weeds!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Finally Spring

I swear winter gets longer every year. Or does it just feel that way?
But spring is here, the end of the school year is on the horizon, and I'm still working on my Summer Camp shawl.
The shawl at the point were it's just miles and miles of garter stitch. I got through some of it by listening to S Town, the new podcast spinoff from This American Life. It seemed a bit slow at first, but hang in there. The plot thickens and it draws you in.
I can hardly stand to put down my Year of Stitches project. I'm not sure if it's wild and beautiful or a total mess -- and I'm not sure that I care. It's just fun to make it up as I go.

I hope that the weather wherever you are is sunny and beautiful, especially if you are marching today!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Pretty Awesome Week in Miami

I flew home from Miami today, and as good as it is to be home, I miss my daughter! Even though she has her comprehensive exams next month, she found time to to show me a lot of the city.

One morning we headed south from Miami to the agricultural area around Homestead, where I spent $21 on one piece of fruit:
It wasn't fully ripe before I left, but it was developing a texture like cotton candy and tasted very good.

We toured the home and estate of Villa Vizcaya, built in the early 20th century by an agricultural industrialist.
I snapped this photo of Rachel there. It's right in Coconut Grove, which is where she is living. It is an incredibly adorable neighborhood with lots of restaurants and boutiques. Not to mention a great bookstore.
The other very posh place we visited was the Biltmore Hotel, where Rachel had made reservations for us to have high tea. Isn't that sweet?
The tea (as in the drink) was the best we've ever had, and the food was amazing. It was the first time I've had Devonshire cream, but I hope it won't be the last.
It was a lot of food, fortunately, because we then headed off to one of Rachel's seminars. The 2 1/2 hour class flew by because her professor is so brilliant. A Cuban immigrant himself, he was discussing current attitudes toward immigrants in America. I am so touched that she brings me to her classes when I visit.

On my last day, we went to Little Haiti, which is definitely not a bastion of luxury.
It's a fascinating area. We visited the famous Liberi Mapou Creole and French Bookstore, and wandered around the neighborhood, which has the feel of a Caribbean island. Rachel was brave and ordered goat for lunch. She said it was good!

I know that many of you understand that feeling of loss when you say good-bye to one of your children. But, as long as she is happy and flourishing, I am OK.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Taking the Sad with the Good

It's Monday of spring break and a pretty busy day. For one thing, I am packing because I leave very early tomorrow for Miami, where I'll be spending a few days with my daughter.  I'm alternating packing with cooking for Passover, which begins this evening.
Among other things, I'm making Chocolate Caramel Crackers (with matzoh). It's a Smitten Kitchen recipe, so you know it's delicious.
Also delicious: Valdani embroidery thread. I blame Kat for this new obsession. She turned me on to Bonnie Sennott, who is an accomplished embroiderer and a wonderful knit designer, too. Bonnie mentioned that she used this "gourmet" thread, so I, of course, had to try it. It is indeed lovely.

Those are some good things. Here is the sad:
Keith had to put down Weeko a few days ago. She'd had renal failure for over a year and took a turn for the worse a couple weeks ago. Even after six days with the vet, she was lethargic and refused to eat. Weeko was a very anxious cat who hated the vet, so he had a vet come to the house. She passed in his arms. She was his cat. Even after living with me for a decade, she hissed at me. Still, I do feel her absence. She was just 12, so Keith wasn't ready to say good-bye.

And speaking of veterinarians ... Last weekend Seth received his official lab coat in the Blue Coat Ceremony, which marks the near-end of the third year of vet school. For a long time, he didn't think he'd go to college, so I am still amazed by how much he has accomplished.
In a few weeks he'll be done with classwork and begin his year of rotations. I was pretty darn proud. I may have even shed a tear or two. It's hard to believe that a year from now he'll be a real dog doctor.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hugs to All of You

I am so blessed to have you all as friends. I actually cried -- in a good way! -- as I read your comments on my last post. Thanks you all so much for helping me chase away the blues. And for sharing your own struggles.
I have picked up my Vodka Lemonade sweater again, and it feels good to make progress on it. The actual color is much more yellow than this photo shows.
When I look at the large numbers of people taking anti-depressants and the long lists of titles of books to help people with depression and anxiety, I can't help but think that there is something terribly wrong with our society. For one thing, Americans work far more hours than people in any other industrialized country, and we take far less vacation. I know that this 13-week slog between breaks wore down not only me, but my colleagues and students, too.
My Year of Stitches project has been a source of joy and comfort these last few months.
Knitting -- along with our other creative ventures -- is one way to escape the high-pressure world we live in, don't you think? It's no accident that DIY and hand-made have become movements. Nor that a knit hat became the symbol of the women's march in Washington. Every stitch is a protest of the hyper-pressures of today's world.

They also bind us to other people. Another group of people who keep me afloat is the Jewish Artists Lab. You may remember that I painted a portrait of Judy Chicago as part of a project launched by my friend Pam, in which we are assembling a "dinner party" of Jewish artists. We got together last weekend for a painting round, and I did this one:
It's Diane Arbus, who is famous for photographing "outsiders." It doesn't look as much like her as I'd like, but it's close enough!

Again, my heart-felt thanks to all of you!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Bit of the Blues

Well, maybe more than a bit. I haven't blogged or even read blogs for a while because I've been flat-out depressed. I've always been an anxious person, but these bouts of the blues started after the surgery to fix my broken leg in 2013. I had a pretty serious post-surgical depression, and ever since then, I've had the blues periodically.

Yes, I have a doctor and a therapist, so I'm not alone in this, but still. My mother and my friends have been very supportive, too. Coffee with friends has helped.
This episode started with insomnia, and after a week of that, I found myself spiraling downward.  But today I'm feeling a little better, which is a relief.

I have been quite a homebody through this, so I have one completed sock to show:
And you can see my Summer Camp shawl in the first photo. It's a very relaxing knit.
But mostly I've been working on the quilt for the Jewish Artists Lab show, which is April 30. Clearly I'm not working fast enough.

One more week until spring break. It has been a long haul since winter break! So, I'm hoping things are just going to get better.