Friday, June 29, 2007

There's One Embarrassed Goldfinch around here...

When we were walking up to Mark's parent's house today we saw something very strange at the birdfeeder. Usually all of the birds quickly fly away, but this time there was only one. He didn't fly away. In fact, we weren't sure if he was alive. He had his head stuck in the bottom hole of the feeder and had long since given up fighting to get it out. There were a few seeds still left underneath the edge of the hole and he had apparently twisted his head trying to get them and then thought 'Uh Oh - now what?'

He was really wedged in, so much that at first we weren't sure what we were going to do at all. After some assessment and goldfinch mockery Mark was able to get him out. He flew away, without harming Mark at all - just embarrassed and wanting to get away FAST. Well, no matter how worried he is about his reputation, he is one lucky birdie at the same time ;)

If we hadn't seen him - there are two hungry hunting cats up at Mark's parent's house that might have found him and not worried about getting the rest out! Eep!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pogo Swim and Proud Mama Alien

Be sure to see our custom color cute alien softies at The KnitOwl Toy Shop

Pogo 'swim'

A close up of those back feet

Alien Monster Dolls: They're breeding!
Babies stick to Mom with velcro ;)

Ahh.. aren't their 'baby eyes' cute? They'll bud more later.

Browsing today:
Little owl dpn case from Loveoneworldzero
Fishy Wishy in a Dishy Yarn from See Jane Knit Yarns
Grace Giraffe from Thistletown
Little Fawn from cornflakegirl
Useful Little Things shop with marbled notecards and journals

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sleeping is getting to be an adventure

Sleeping is getting to be an adventure in creative pillow use lately. I've read online that there are all sorts of 'pregnancy pillows' they make to provide all-in-one solutions. They look like modified body pillows that curl up between your knees and back to support your spine. The only one I thought looked interesting was out of stock :( So I recommissioned one of the really beaten up regular pillows we have for extra support between my knees and under my hip bones. I think that will work for a while until my belly gets bigger :)

I've been sewing some more creatures - here is one that didn't quite make the cut. She is a prototype, and if you look closely her arms are sort of mismatched. I don't like opening the seams of my toys after they're done, so I'll save her for a while.

We also have some female alien monster dolls arriving. It appears the males were just scouts. I'll be working them up here and there. Last year I would push myself to stay up all night and sew a batch - now there is so much else to do, work and non-work.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Alien Invasion and Pogo Tigers

Eek! What Have we Here?
Stay Tuned for more information...

Pogo is preparing for the invasion by attacking those pesky packing peanuts (say that ten times fast).

Enlarge this picture and you can see her white toes on her back feet! She has two toes on different feet that are entirely white!


Blurry, but look at that tiger paw action!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Achy Knees

Thanks for all the nice birthday wishes everyone!

Not enough change on the belly chart this week to make a new line - but the baby has been kicking stronger and at more regular intervals.

While I escaped morning sickness, the 'pregnancy achy joints' has hit me. I wake up three or more times at night with my hips and knees aching and feeling creaky. Sometimes turning over is enough to go back to sleep, but this morning I got up at 4 am and didn't go back to bed. Being still for hours at a time really does a number on them. I looked at some other mothers on pregnancy bulletin boards and apparently there is no exact 'right amount of activity', too much makes them hurt, too little makes them hurt.

I've also been working on a few new toys for the softie shop. I haven't had a stuffed creature to put up there for so long - and I still have some that need good homes.

We got one tomato out of the garden today! There will be more in about a week.

More Baby News

And now some good news! My brother and his wife are also going to be having a baby, next spring. Before their son was born they lost a little girl - so they are hoping . Of course, their little boy (8 years old) is definitely wanting a little brother. So, we'll see ;)

The somewhat-good or I'm-not-sure news... My mom is buying a Winnebago to come down here with when I have the baby. She said on the phone 'I can come down when you have the baby and stay as long as you want because we'll have our own place to stay.' I'm not sure what to say to this - because yes I probably will appreciate some help the first week back from the hospital, but my Mom living out in our front yard?

Does it make me a bad daughter if that situation scares me? (She doesn't use computers) When I go to visit her in Minnesota it is an all-or-nothing affair, usually. In January Mark and I left for Fargo after one day of visiting, which was unheard of in my family. Usually at least two or three subsequent visits, (morning, night, the next morning etc...) are required at my Mom's house. Even when I get off the phone with her, it is usually 'Will you call me back tomorrow?, or 'Should I call you back tonight after dinner?' She really really misses me. And, because her memory is failing some, we usually go over the same 'new' things several times during a conversation or visit and she will say 'Oh, I didn't know we already talked about that. I forget sometimes.'

So yes, I like to help my mom, and to talk to her, but how do I say 'If you live in the front yard in a Winnebago for a month we might all go nuts' without really hurting her feelings? I'll also have to write her a letter about it... having it on paper makes her remember better and is a reminder when she forgets.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

I usually get up at dawn to watch the sunrise on the Solstice, because I was born around 7:30. However, this morning I didn't feel a need to go sit in the sun and ask for 'answers'... I woke up with the sun coming in our windows and across the trees in the yard - and Mark asleep across from me. I had a soft pillow drawn up under my stomach, and our baby nestled there (not kicking, although she had been moving actively just before I went to sleep). I didn't need to go look for answers - because this feels sweet and right. I smiled and went back to sleep for a while.

About nine I went for a walk down to the lake. I sat on the big sandstone rock there and looked out over the mirror surface of the water. The sun was warm, and the blue of the sky was reflected with all the greens of the trees. There are a myriad of grasses, mosses and other life at the lake. I watched fish jump and swim just under the surface, small spiders build their webs betweeen blades of grass, and dragonflies danced out over the lake, fishing for smaller bugs. A mockingbird flew in from a tree to snatch a dragonfly right out of the air. A blue heron took flight across the lake.

Instead of looking for answers I was just soaking in all of the experience. The structure of life, and its many forms, all of what I could see from one small spot on Earth. The colors, and sounds and warmth of that place was alive yet serene. Instead of looking within for a birthday mediatation, I was looking outward and letting it come in.

I'll still be looking for messages, if not expecting them to answer anything. The universe is full of messages and experiences to contemplate on and interpret. It's just part of what I've been exploring all of my life - the journey of being human and stopping to try to understand the moment as well as the destination.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Still working on the dream bag weaving. It is now 8.5 of 13 inches. The summer solstice is in two days, and it probably won't be done in time. But, at least it has spurred me to work on it some more. It has gotten noticeably narrower as I go up. In past weavings I've taken a 'guide-string' out from the sides and stretched the weaving taut across the frame here and there as I go up. This is such a large frame and such a small weaving, it didn't seem plausible. I'll have to get a small lap-frame later to make small weavings and save this large frame for vertical belts and larger pieces.

I've been feeling our baby move more and more - and Mark has been able to feel what he called a 'squidge' or 'squirming' at one point when I felt she was being really active. We are twenty weeks today and it's about time for others to be able to feel her movements besides me! She really doesn't like it when I put dishes in the dishwasher - she starts to squirm a lot (for something so small) and then calms down when I finish. I guess that is because there is a lot of bending down and getting back up and that must be rocking her 'apartment' walls so bad she can't sleep ;)

The little 'tickles' and 'swishes' I was feeling during the last month are giving way to taps and tiny thumps, especially towards the lower part of my belly. Up on the top of my belly (where I first felt her) it still feels like little twinges and swishes under the surface.

Also, we still have orchids blooming! This is the last one to bloom so far.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Knitting and Kitten

Pogo is growing so much! Mouse is a saint to put up with the amount of 'kittening' she gets.

I've got you now big cat!

Spider monkey attack!

An experimental striped bag I'm working on knitting.

Salt is Bad for you.. they say.

I was always told salt was bad for me. My mom was a diabetic, and for her an overdose of sodium meant swollen hands and feet. So, she avoided salt in all of her cooking - and generally discouraged its use at the table.

When I was about fifteen, I began to have dizzy spells. They would come on quickly and suddenly, sometimes well after I had gotten up and started to walk. It was as if I was suddenly on a merry-go-round and the rest of the world was moving but I wasn't. My vision would fog, with small white 'pinpoints' coming up from nowhere and eventually filling my entire vision like the static on an old television. Usually at this point my hearing would become distant and I would either catch myself on something or fall flat to the floor. Everything would equalize slowly and I would be able to see and balance myself again within seconds.

At the doctor, I was told it was 'growing pains', and to take more time getting up. For a fifteen-year old kid, that is not a good thing to hear. 'Whenever you get up, pump your legs a little to get the blood flowing. Always get up slowly and take time deciding where you are going in case you need to fall.'

I felt like an invalid, and my mom was scared that her little girl was dying of some strange disease. Her already tight reign of control on me (she was always scared I was going to be hurt) became even closer to house arrest. She began to insist that if I went anywhere it all, it be with someone who could 'take care of me.' I love my mom, but she was reacting with fear because we had no clue what was causing this. She didn't want me to move away from home, go to college, or even drive. I did put my foot down and get my learner's permit, and I did go to our community college, often by bike. I worked two jobs at times just to get out of the house, and had another job monitoring an online bulletin board on 3D computer modelling. I drank a lot of coffee to keep awake, and was always on the move. At times I learned to walk 'sideways' against the flow of the dizzyness until it became strong enough to require a rest.

In January of 1998 I had the worst fainting spell I have had to date. I slit the back of my head open on a sharp object on the wall and required 17 stitches. My own physician sewed me up at our small town ER. He started more tests. He found nothing. He told me the same things he had before. I asked for a new doctor.

The new doctor, also from our small town, had a different theory. He started with my heart - and ruled out all chances that it was slowing or speeding up on its own. Either of those could cause a fainting spell. I had come in to the ER once more displaying symptoms of wild blood pressure changes and obvious disorientation. My new doctor knew a friend at the Mayo clinic who he wanted to ask about this, and it just happened he was going to make a visit to our hospital soon. I was signed up for a new test.

The clinic doctor took my blood pressure when I was lying down, then when I was sitting up, then right after I stood up. I didn't have a dizzy spell, but my blood pressure dropped, drastically, upon the change of position. It dropped much more than twenty points, and it was 'low' (around 110) to begin with. During my dizzy spells the pressure must have dropped even lower, to 80 or so, which would definitely cause physical symptoms.

Usually low blood pressure is 'healthy.' However, when it drops below a certain point, especially quickly, the body can't adjust. He had found why I was fainting, and no, it was not 'growing pains.' This was called orthostatic hypotension, a fancy name for the blood was rushing out of my brain in an upright position quicker than it could compensate to pump it back up.

Usually this condition is found in older people, which was why my doctor never looked for it. It has become much more common in young people, especially tall, thin people who are very active. It also didn't help that like most American kids I liked caffeine. Caffeine aggravates the condition. It is a diuretic, which removes more water from your system than it puts in. The answer was for me to reduce the amount of caffeine I took in (ouch!) and increase the amount of water and salt in my diet.

I haven't been able to give up the coffee, except when other things really press it. I still have about a half-cup a day, mixed with milk. However, at the time of my fainting spell, I was up to about a 2-liter of Mountain Dew over the course of the day plus 4-6 cups of coffee - so yes, there needed to be an intervention there.

Now I liberally put salt on things when it tastes good. What had been a 'always bad for you' thing in our house became my alternative to a medication. (I tried the medication for a short time, it gave me the shakes) When I don't eat right and lose weight the dizzy spells become more frequent. Since I began eating better again in January I haven't had a major dizzy spell. During pregnancy, which is notorious for dizziness, I haven't had one.

The blood volume of a woman increases greatly with pregnancy, so it is something I was initially worried about. Drinking lots of water helps that blood volume expand, and about 20% of it is now going through our baby as well as through me. Most women are worried about high blood pressure in their pregnancies, but my blood pressure amounts have been within normal ranges and everything seems to be going fine. I am very very thirsty though, and this too, is right on track ;)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Miscellaneous Progressions

A pregnant belly can't grow that much in a week, right? Hmm... well it depends on what 'much' is ;o)

The thin blue area is one week's 'progression.'
The first silhouette was made on June 8th.

The doctor told me at the last appointment that this is the month of great expansion... Our baby is growing much faster now and starting to put on her weight for being born. Almost everything else about her has developed and just needs to grow stronger and more ready for the 'outside world.' For reference, I had a ~29 inch waist (smallest girth) - and now the widest part of my belly is just about 36".

Some other little progressions I've been making ;) Some knit pouches for my Etsy shop, a handsewn quilt block, and (not pictured) some more weaving on my dream bag.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Antique Silver Acorn Ring

This ring has a history. It is sterling silver, and has the motif of an acorn with two leaves on it. It is one of the two 'family jewelry' items I brought with me when I came to Mark's.

According to my mother, her mother (my grandmother) gave this ring to her when she was a little girl. However, it soon did not fit her, and it went away in a jewelry box. She gave it to me when I was a teenager, because it fit me then. It stayed in my jewelry box for a long time too. Last December I began wearing it - with the acorn as a personal symbol of change, growth and potential. I had also lost a lot of weight at that time and it was one of the few rings in my jewelry box that DID still fit. Most of my other rings were so loose they would fall off at the slightest shake of my hand. So, that morning in January, this ring was on my finger.

When Mark and I went on our trip to Minnesota, a small crack had appeared in one side of the ring, right next to the acorn. Being that it is over 50 years old (reportedly) that is no surprise. Also, I recently found out that sterling silver rings may become more brittle with wear. The ring had hardly ever been worn before that month. When the crack went all the way through I started keeping it in my dream bag instead of wearing it.

Apparently fixing sterling silver isn't easy - and there wasn't a single shop in our area that could work on it. Sterling silver has a certain coating over it that requires special equipment. When we went to Dayton last month, I found a small shop in Yellow Springs, Ohio (Rita Caz Jewerly Studio in King's Yard courtyard) that
could fix it. I left it with them and it came back from their studio yesterday by registered mail.

They have done an amazing job fixing this family heirloom! And - it still fits perfectly. The repair is very hard to see - unless you know where to look.

I will be wearing it, but I hope to keep it in good condition for our daughter one day. And I'll know where to try the next time it may need a repair.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Modeling Clay figures

*philosophy, psychology and art meet here in a personal mythology. Kind of difficult reading*
A modelling clay figure of Cosmic Bear.

Cosmic Bear modelling clay figure

These are the kind of figures and deep ideas I presented in my art show in 2004. I don't really expect others to get the same meaning and realizations out of them as I do. Perhaps they will see something else in the symbols. The worst fears I had at expressing these mythological ideas is that they are not in line with 'religious' ideas. There were those people I knew who couldn't see the difference between talking about these creatures in a mythological sense and believing in them religiously. I feel these 'spirits' or personifications have nothing to do with religion - it is much closer to psychology and examining the very nature of human thought.

'Cosmic Bear and Fox': These are two 'archetype' characters developed from my automatic drawings. I was drawing and forming Cosmic bear for almost a year before I realized that his story was partially a mythologized version my own history.

Cosmic Bear is brought into the world by Fox, a half-seen spirit who, by her curiosity, created the World Tree out of the dust and dreams of a Sleeping Dragon. The dragon sleeps forever, although not peacefully, and the world grows on his back. If he wakes, the world will be shaken off.

Fox is wise and at the same time irresponsible. She is in possession of Great Knowledge, but never keeps her mind on one thing long enough. She is always whirling, toying with humans and other spirits. She's actually always trying to help, but is often leaving things undone in a Chaotic state.

Cosmic Bear is just one of the things she created. She forms him out of a leaf growing out of herself. She sings to him and tells him all of the great knowledge she has, but he is too young to understand. He is a child, playing and amazed at being alive. Then, she is gone - and he is plunged into a despair. Finally he brings himself out of the cave he was born in and sees the Silver Forest - part of the base of the World Tree that Fox accidently created. He goes to the Silver Forest where he goes through many trials and adventures.

There are several 'myths' I had written that involve Cosmic Bear. Some of them he is a child learning, others he is the advisor or the doer of great things (such as bringing the stars into the sky). He grows to be a great Protector and a 'Wise One' himself. He remembers more and more bits of the Song Fox had sung, and they make even more sense to him as he discovers other things. Then he comes to understand the nature of Fox and takes new perspective on both his creation and childhood and what he has done since.

I see the Cosmic Bear archetype and the Fox archetype in myself. It is by seeing those archetypes we can take their good points of their personality and take warning from their bad ones. Eerily, I can also see elements of my childhood re-expressed through the Cosmic Bear creation myth.


Another figure. A bit more strange and needing more explanation. This 'creature' is not a representation of an actual living object - but of an internal process. The idea portrayed is that there is something within all of us that brings knowledge from somewhere subconscious, or spiritual.

The bird is a symbol of the messenger or bridge between that other source of knowledge and our conscious selves. There are many myths where the bird is a messenger between the Spirit World and our own world.

This figure has a piece of yarn stretched through the top of the head (knowledge) through the beak of the "inner bird" mask and out the mouth of a human mask which represents the exterior, what others see and what we choose to show them. It represents the receiving, channeling and expressing of deep thoughts, philosophy and myth to bring greater understanding.

This figure is my expression of how the complex and strange exploration of dreams, psychology and myth can feel almost like a temporary transformation. The yarn is the message received and interpreted.

Channeling messages from the subconscious

Other articles:
Pre-socratic philosophy
The Hero with a Thousand Faces book by Joseph Campbell
Use of masks for transformation and mythological retelling
The concept of the myth and psychocultural evolution

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cute Animal Pictures and progress

The other day it rained, and we got a very dirty Pixie puppy. She is getting quite big now too! Pixie: 'Dirt is Tasty!'

Pogo and Puck steal some zzz's together on my blanket.

We started a 'belly chart' the other day. I'll keep adding the changes in the silhouette in different colors as time goes by.

Comic: click to enlarge.

Considering what Mark and I both were like as little kids, way back when, this might be a good interpretation of our daughter-to-be! :) Alas, I didn't have access to a chemistry set, or it may well have been me at that age too. We fully anticipate lots of imagination and a twisted sense of 'geek' to come shining through.

New artwork up in KnitOwl Etsy shop

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An Announcement

Some of you have heard this in private email, but here is the public announcement and more.

Mark and I are having a little girl in Novemeber.

We were told today that our baby due in November is most likely a little girl. We were able to see the face, all ten toes and fingers and watch her squirm and turn around inside my uterus like a gymnast. The ultrasound tech said she was getting a remarkably clear picture and that the baby was VERY active.

I asked the tech to show me where my uterus was, as that can vary from woman to woman. It turns out the baby is lying across my stomach with her head towards my appendix and her feet just above and to the left of my belly button.

The little bumps, pokes and swishes I've felt along the left side of my belly button coincide perfectly with where she found the baby's feet. Just before we left for Ohio, and since, I've been feeling the majority of 'tiny movements' there and wondered if it could be the baby or something else. Most women don't feel those movements that high up on their stomach, or so I've been told.

We are excited and amazed!
We have some names in mind, but will wait until we actually see her to choose one of them. Meanwhile, Mark is already wondering what to tell her first date when he comes to call.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Busy Projects and Schedule

It seems things just keep moving along here, has time sped up? Our shops (Ebay and Etsy) are keeping us busy!

The other day Vleeptron informed me of a cryptography challenge. I'm working on it! So much about eels.. I'm thinking...

Mark says Vleeptron must see this and fear.
It's a neat book!

A Spirit Bird 'compass.'
It will hang from a hook in one of our windows.

I had one of these 'spiritual compasses' sitting just inside the door at the Paris apartment, except it was made from an embroidery hoop with cloth sewn over it and painted. This one is made out of wire with a bit of cloth sewn over the middle of it. I enjoy working with the wire, even though it doesn't give 'perfect' results - it is an interesting material to manipulate in the hands and satisfying to see the shape form. The four colored dots at N, E, S and W are representative of the four cardinal directions by Navajo color symbolism. The bird and the rest of the symbols are my own design.

An extremely nice set of colored pencils purchased for a bargain off of Ebay.

These Derwent Studio pencils, imho, are the best type of colored pencil an artist can work with. They aren't as crumbly as Crayola or Prismacolor and yet are vibrant and create great details (because they keep their tips longer!) I can't wait to see what drawings they become!

Hopefully there will be wonderful news tomorrow.