Sunday, April 30, 2006

car show

So after 7 hours (yay!) of sleep Friday night, and an early Saturday morning at the prosthetist, I then went with my folks to that winery event.

It turns out that it wasn't reallllllllllllly an ARt was a cAR show. Actually to be more specific it was The CAR-ni-val (complete with shiny beads and everything...well, not flashing).

And how cute is this??

awwww! totally damn cute. not even my own kid I'm gushing over, either.

Did some wine tasting...bought some vino....

I also found out that my mom realllllllly does not read my blog---MY DAD DOES. When he told me that, you should have seen the smoke coming out of my ears as my gears spun a fast rewind through my blog posts to see if I've blogged myself right out of being Daddy's Little Girl. Oh yeah. Too late. I'm sure I blew that title years ago. Screw it.

Turns out my blog is in my dad's regular rotation, and when he finds something of interest, he prints it out for my mom to read. Hahahaha.

Anyhow...we had fun. In fact, my dad posted in a the comments that he had a reallllly great time.

And on the way home, MyFK and I stopped off at a big craft store. The other day asked me to teach him how to knit with more than one color, and he wasn't talking variegated yarn. You aren't going to see this mommy passing up that opporunity. Besides, knitting needles were on sale 40% off, plus we had a 50% off coupon for the yarn....we scored.

Let's see if you can guess what we're knitting:

Washcloths (warshcloths?).

MyFK chose an orange background with green and blue stripes. Mine is a pink background and I'm using the variegated stuff for the stripes. I'm pretty sure we've got enough to make more than just the two.

Going to go cast-on now....

Friday, April 28, 2006


My mommy just called and said, "Ya' know, if you reallllllllllly dont want to go to the winery thing tomorrow, you reallllllllllllly dont have to....I didn't even say I realllllllllly wanted you to go actually, I just offered, ya'know?"

And I didn't even know she reallllllllllllly reads my blog.

Guess I threw my own perceptions all over that invite! Sheesh. I wonder what other "old tapes" I have running!
I'm glad I have the type of folks that can share a chuckle over shit like that.
Thanks, Mom. Love You.

And Sara comments:
Now, if you're knitting, one-legged AND wearing the "swallows" T-shirt all at the same time, out in public, well, I think if somebody gets into a car accident you might have some arguable liability there...

Actually, I didn't even THINK about that...but I was wearing my zippered hoodie that says:
Leg Story



Dudes, I'm fried. It's finally caught up with me.
I've ran right past tired, whizzed by fatigue, and thrown myself headlong into exhaustion.

Many things are contributing to this state.

Lots of daily physical activity in the last week and a half. Intense dancing and auditioning 5 days straight Wednesday through Sunday. Monday night off, but the party Tuesday...and right back to dancing Wednesday and Thursday....and guess what? Another long, challenging rehearsal today, too! Yay!

Add to that the fact that I've also spent the last several days going up and down the hills I live on in a wheelchair because my car was in the shop.

But most importantly, for the first time in my life, I am experiencing continuous problems with sleep. It's not just one sleep's taking several different forms. I've had some version or another pretty much every night for weeks.

Here's my sleep issue menu:
* I can't fall asleep and I'm up well past 1am.
* I do fall asleep, but toss and turn the whole night, waking every 45 minutes or so.
* I crash out and sleep like rock for 4 hours, but wake at 3am and cant get back to sleep.
* I'm capable of sleep, but someone else in my world is not; ie MyFK with "mommy can you... (insert the variable: tuck me in, get me water, etc etc)"...and if it isn't MyFK, it's my crankly old cat meowing his head off, or it's the racoons that occasionally come onto the front porch at 4am to lick the cat food bowl, making the dogs competely hysterical.

I used to really be amazing on no sleep. Before the accident, I was a caterer and I totally kicked ass. Historically I'm golden with 7 hours of sleep, but back in those days, I could pull a 10-12 hour shift running around like an efficient madwoman...sleep for 4 hours...then get up at the crack of dawn to do it all over again.

But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
I'm not sure if it's a bi-prodcut of my new physicality or if it's just because, well...let's just say I'm older now ;-)

All I know is that I'm so tired I actually started getting weepy for no reason at all this morning...something about slicing strawberries for breakfast and running out of cream for my coffee is truly a sad thing, I guess.

HA. I was about to type that I'm not even pms-ing and I'm crying for no reason, but I just looked at the calendar...and ummmmm....I'm probably pms-ing.
Mix one-part pms, two parts exhaustion, top with salty snacks, sprinkle with a little caffeine and a dusting of chocolate...and viola! This girl is holding a Molitoff Cocktail. Grand. Must go warn TheMIG to run for cover.

I wish I could tell you that I get to sleep in Saturday morning. What I would love more than anything in the whole world is to just stay in bed all day watching cooking shows on PBS (one of my favorite things in the world to do)...but I can't. I have an appointment with the prosthetist at 9am to get a new socket mounted, and then my parents realllllly want me to go with them to some bar-b-que/art-show/whatever at some winery after the appointment. *sigh*

I'm hoping for a lazy Sunday.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

just a few facts

Fact: People in cars like to gawk at people waiting at bus stops.

Fact: People glance quickly, then look away, at people in wheelchairs.

Fact: People glance quickly, then look away, at people missing a body part; once they get past you, they often turn back for a double-take when they think you aren’t looking.
(note: dancers have exceptional peripheral vision)

Fact: People like to stare at, and sometimes chat up, people that are knitting.

Fact: If you are missing one leg, and are knitting while sitting in a wheelchair waiting at a bus stop…it makes people do a very funny dance of stops and starts with their eyeballs.
(note: dancers have exceptional peripheral vision)

Yesterday was a bit of a shuffle.
Started up my trusty steed "Volvo", and he made a very loud metal clanking noise.

It ends up that the exhaust system just needed a little welding...all the rain here is creating a landmine-like field of potholes with new ones sinking in every day. What I usually do is memorize a maze-like driving pattern to avoid them. But a new one snuck up on me Monday, and I had hit it pretty damn good.

I spent a lot of time on the bus yesterday, getting back home from the auto shop and then back out again to dance rehearsal. The East Bay bus system sucks. Our transit systems are not federally supported like they are in San Francisco (I had so many options for transportation when I lived in SF, the most I drove my car some weeks was to move it for street cleaning).

These days I am usually wearing my prosthetic leg when I'm out and about, but not for dancing yet…I am often dancing in, or from, a wheelchair. When I’m headed out for a dance class or rehearsal, I usually leave the leg at home (need a nickname for the leg…any thoughts?). In taking a bus to dance class to rehearsal yesterday, I was not going to bring the wheelchair along while wearing the leg, too. Just too many mechanical parts for me to deal with.

I swear, if I can find a way to make it work on the bus, though, I’d really like to use it more often. It doesn't stop very close to my house, and it only runs about once an hour.
But at $.85 bus ride (gimp rate) it saved me 10.6 miles in sky-high gas prices….
I got to do my little part to get off the roadway and spare the air…
Plus I got half a sock knitted yesterday (2nd in the pair)…

The bonus of course, was that I got to be entertained the entire one hour bus ride by watching people trying to figure out which part of my "freakness" to stare at.

I know I'm a weirdo, but I like making people a tad bit uncomfortable. This came long before being a fact, it's got nothing at all to do with being a gimp. I've done some interesting things to make people uncomfortable, and I'd much rather make people uncomfortable around me for reasons other than my slightly uniquely shaped body.

I even like it when I'm the uncomfortable one (actually, I probably even prefer that more...but I think that's why I like doing it to others).

I like discomfort because being unsettled in ones self makes one have to respond.
THAT is what I like about it.
I like having to work that out for myself, and I like watching other people squirm around and work their processes to ease their unsettled-ness, too. Kind of like the way I used to like playing (and watching people play) Twister when I was a kid. This is my grown-up version. It's a little side-hobby/life-study of mine.

Like I said. I know. I'm a weirdo. Don't waste your time telling me so.
It just think it's kinda funny how it's turned out that I can make someone uncomfortable without even trying.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The other day I said that I didn't have anyone in my life to knit baby things for.
My friend Erin is due with her 2nd munchkin in June.
I guess I just didn't put her pregnancy together with the new yarn because:
a) she gave me the good news while she was sitting there knitting a baby blanket. Yes, it's lame, but I don't often think about knitting gifts for people who are pefectly capable of knitting things for themselves and have them be exactly the way they want them (as if knitters don't like to be knit for?? silly.)
b) I've been on the lookout for people in my life with a little girl because I keep associating the "Purple Pansies" yarn I just scored with all things girlie (Erin is waiting until the baby is born to find out)
c) even though she's due in June, I only just found out she was pregnant three weeks ago.

Erin is a casual acquaintance. I met her a couple of years ago at my local Stitch-N-Bitch, and I think she's really neato. For awhile, we had a parent+kids extension of the SnB thing happening on a weekday in addition to our regular gig and I got to know her a little bit more. We've talked about hooking up just to hang out and/or get the kids together, but it's never happened. We're both pretty busy I think (which makes me is it I get so frickin' busy that I dont have time to be with friends?? This has got to stop. Life is too short. Must fix that. Now.) Erin came to see me peform last summer, and left me this awesome emotional voicemail as she was leaving the performance, thanking me for the dancing. That made me so happy.

Anyhow. I haven't been to SnB consistently (if at all) in probably a year. It's on the same night of the week that I have dance rehearsals for one project or another. But I've had a lucky streak the past couple of weeks. The director of the current project has only been running certain sections, so I've been free in some cases to leave early or come in late.

Three weeks ago (April 5) was my first time at SnB in a long time...and there was Erin knitting her blankie, an that is when I first I got the news about her little pending bundle o'joy. I was so happy for her. I wasn't able to go to SnB the following week, but last Wednesday (April 19th) I was able to pop in again. Erin was there, but she left early, and the second she walked out the door, there was this flurry of activity as knitters started pulling out yarn and swatches. The group had secretly been knitting squares to put together a blanket for Erin & Co. behind her back (and apparently under the cafe tables, too)... and yay!...there was still room left for one more square, so I was able to join in at the last minute.

I had to have it done by the following Tuesday though, for the Sewing Up Party. I needed to make a 10" x 10" square, and the yarn had already been purchased so we'd all be using the same stuff. I was handed a ziplock bag with a few people's remnants, and I had 6 days to whip out a little something special.

Seems simple enough, right?

That was Wednesday.
Thursday I swatched for gauge, because, you know...showing up with a 9" x 11" rectangle for this kind of thing instead of a 10" x 10" square can really make a mess. The gauge check was all the knitting I had time to do on Thursday. The rest of Thursday was spent doing household stuff so that I would not have to worry about the Emminent Decline of the Household during the intense dance audition weekend.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday was all about the dancing...

I'd reserved Monday for knitting the square, Monday night for blocking, and then Tuesday I'd show up at the party with my square.
Still seems simple enough, right?

Well, let's talk about my square, kids. For starters, I didn't have enough of any one color to do a solid colored square and just use an interesting textured stitch. My contribution was going to have to be at least two colors, and from the looks of things, proabably three...because I was guessing with just two colors I'd be running on fumes. It was hard for me to visually estimate because it was Lamb's Pride Bulky we were knitting with, and I don't have much experience with bulky yarns.

Here's what was going on in my ziplock:

So now I had to decide what the heck I wanted to put on this square. I remembered that a few weeks earlier, while volunteering at the elementary school library, my fellow librarian (also a knitter) was working on a child's top-down raglan, and I'd snapped pics:

I became obsessed with the idea of doing the bear thing.

But I also had to use three colors.

Looking at what yarn I had, I crafted a plan to knit the background of the square in the sage green, do up purple seed stitch border as I was going, and knit up the bear in the forest green.

Hmmm. Maybe this is where I should let you know that I've only done cables once (sometime in my 20's and it looked like crap)...I've only done stranded color-work maybe twice, and while at this stage I feel I am capable of both...speed knitting it is not going to be. Oh. And let's not forget: I don't have a pattern for the bear, just a photo, and I've never graphed anything before, either.

Ok. So off we go. To boldly go where this knitter has not gone before.....

I knit the square, and I knit in Little Intarsia Bear Dude, dead center stage. Turns out he's more of a bauble than a cable. But changing colors next to a bauble is a pretty big drag.

I run out of sage green yarn three rows from being able to make a 10" square. All I have left is the forest green, and I realllly dont want to throw in rows of the dark green on top of BearDude's head and make it look like there is some dark foreboding sky looming in baby-land getting ready to rain on his parade.

So I rip it all out and start over. I still need to get this thing done and blocked same day, mind you.

I come up with the idea to reknit BearDude into the corner and use a couple of yards of the red we were permitted to use as an accent, and make him holding a red balloon. Viola. It worked.

I ended up with this:

but get a load of this: that's what was left of the yarn when I was finished.

So last night was the Sew-Up, and it reminded me of being back in culinary school. Awesome space (I could move into Marianne's sewing studio). Totally fun bunch of people. Totally creative project. And the knitter's equivalent of too many cooks in the kitchen.

I was doing my best to stay out of the way (although I'm not often successful because I came into the project so late and I was also going to have to leave the party early, too... I didn't have enough notice for this one for me to work out a babysitting plan. MyFK came along with me, and he was actually fitting in just fine. He even sat and knit a bit on my Hello-The-Olympics-Are-Way-Over-By-Now-Shawl. He really liked looking at the different squares everyone made for the blanket, and on the way to the car even asked me if I would teach him how to change colors next. But it was a school night, and tomorrow is Day2 of state testing, so it wasn't the night for MyFK to be allowed a late one.

It was really a hoot watching everyone trying to settle on what method to use to piece the blanket together, how to deal with the inevitable 9" x 11" square that always seem to show up (dont look at me), how to arrange the colors and the directions of pattersnstripes, what color to use as the border yadda yadda yadda.

It all seemed to be coming togehter and it was a great time. I'm hoping someone will send me a pic of the finished blanket!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

money shot

Super-duper busy the next two days, gang (I'll tell you all about it...with photos!...when I get back).

But I wanted to make a very quick post. For Ragnar.

This would be the t-shirt I am wearing here this morning, whilst reading your comment from yesterday....

Like I said. Wee bit offensive ;-)

I am not, however, the Creatrix of this shirt. This one came from T-Shirt Hell. If I was rich, I'd have a closet full of their stuff.

To see the shirts that TheMIG and I make, there's a link in the sidebar. The shirts were really just designed so that I could order them for myself (but then we left them up to see if other folks would buy them, and they actually do). The two most recent designs are "25% Off" (TheMIG made that one..I get lots of laughs when I wear it), and "lucky for me he's an ass man" (that's one of mine). I've had a few ideas for more shirts, but neither one of us has had the time to pour our attention into the maintennance of the Cafe Press site :-(


I wish I could show y'all the shirt that TheMIG was wearing the night I met him. It came from T-Shirt Hell also...but they no longer offer it (at first I thought maybe because it wasn't a hot item and they were making room for new shirts). As it turns out, it was pulled because it was in the "Worse Than Hell" category, and there was too much whinin' and controversy about it's content. I did google a bit to find one image of a person wearing it, but the photo was more offensive than the actual shirt! I'm not even going to bother telling y'all which one it is, but it was one of these.

I'd already been nibbling at his bait....but the humor of his shirt hooked me. It didn't take him much longer after that to completely reel me in :-)


I actually started updating my sidebar yesterday to update the links to the blogs I read, and was including a section to list the places on the internet that I buy my t-shirts. Got it all nice and organzied, then pressed the I-Am-So-Not-A-Geek-Button and somehow erased it all *sigh*.

If at first you don't succeed..........

Sunday, April 23, 2006

done dancing everywhere

After the Axis Auditions concluded this afternoon, I scooted on over to 8th Street Studios to see Dance-A-Rama (an event for National Dance Week). I hung out for about 4-hours worth of performances and saw Modern, Persian, Bellydance, Aerial, Authentic Movement, Improv, Goddess/Native American Inspired… name it.

As the admirer, wearer, and creatrix of t-shirts that often include a twist of humor (or are actually just outright twisted) or are occasionally a wee bit offensive (*cough cough*)…I am quick to spot them in a crowd.

Today I saw a shirt on an audience member that was quick to point out that National Dance Week had overlooked an entire genre:

Totally hilarious.
(you too can have your very own )

I’m trashed.
I’ve basically been doing the dance thang for three days straight, and feel like I've been hit by a truck.

Nighty night.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

danced everywhere

My day of dance yesterday began with Dance Anywhere:

Eric led us in a structured improvisation, structure being: dancers stand in stillness on each street corner…one person covers the other person's eyes and the couple could begin to move together…roles can shift, between who’s eyes were covered or not, but someone's eyes need always be closed…dancers can make transitions to another street corner.

At some point, some of us just got the urge to move, even if alone and eyes open. Hey, it's just a structure right?!

After that, rehearsals for Anicca began with a celebration for our Maestro.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce to you........
PROFESSOR Eric Kupers.

Eric was just hired this week for a tenure track position at Cal State University East Bay/Hayward for a full time position. (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!) There is no one more deserving of this positon. Eric is an amazing dancer, and gifted choreographer, and I can tell you from personal experience, a genius as a teacher. He's extremely attentive to each individual person he works with and somehow seems to give them whatever guidance they need to expand into their fullness. As a person....and I do not throw this phrase around lightly (I think I've only said this about someone 3 or 4 times in my life): He has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. This man is pure love, personified.

What’s important to note, is that the CSU dance department has never had a tenure track position. Even more amazing, is that although they interviewed for one position, they ended up hiring two (Nina Haft). Seeing the arts being supported and cultivated in this way in the Bay Area makes me get goosebumps. This news feels extremely magical to me.


Rehearsal itself was interesting.

While I was there, I felt pretty scattered and ungrounded. One of the dancers has difficulty finding daycare for her 6-year old. She often arrives late or leaves early, which is distracting enough....and she often brings her son with her. If he's not being his adorably distracting cute self, then he is actually walking in and amongst us while we are working (killing dinosaurs with his sword), or he is watching cartoons and we are dancing to the soundtrack from LoonyTunes.

Now, I don't have huge problem with tuning stuff out....I have an 8-year old boy in my home, remember (but most of the company does not have kids, and tuning children out when neccessary is a skill one develops with time and exposure). I think most of us dancers are getting a wee bit distracted by this kid's presence, and I think when you put all of our wee moments of distraction together, it snowballs because we are dancing and exchanging eneregy. The energetic snowball o' tension gets bigger.

Most days I don't care too much. I don't even mind sitting out a segment to do a little babysitting so that the other dancers can have a small chunk of quiet time (although it never realllly gets totally quiet). It kind of trips me out that the mom isn't understanding the impact it is having. Well, maybe she understands and is just trying to ignore it. I dunno. My parenting style is a bit different. You will never hear me say that children are to be seen and not heard....EVER. But that's why I get a babysitter when I need one.

Yesterday I felt the need to stay focused because I had the Axis Orientation coming up after rehearsal...and the whole dynamic that was being generated during rehearsal was pretty ungrounding to me.

I left rehearsal and got to Oakland for the Axis meeting sat in my car with my thermos of herbal tea and my journal, and I was fine in no time flat. Once I cleared away the snowballed distracted energy stuff, I understood that the rest of me had a really good rehearsal. I'm feeling so good about the work we are doing.

It feels to me like the piece is still being birthed, which is one of my favorite parts of the process. Considerring how many weeks we have left before show time, it feels to me like this is a little bit late to be birthing we should be more in the deepening and polishing stage at this point. We have several sections that are basically "done" but they aren't strung together yet....the transitions haven't been worked out. But it feels like several pieces are still being created, too. The interesting thing for me, is that normally, if I was still "birthing" this close to performance time, I would be stressed about it. I am totally not sweating it (maybe because I'm not the director!). But seriously...I trust Eric's genius so much, that I have no doubt in my mind that he will fit the pieces together, and that it will be a profound piece of work. I'm having no problem just kind of hanging out and watching his version of orchestrating things. I just try to pay attention, follow instructions, sink into the emotional quality of the work, and do my best manifest his vision.

So back to sitting in the car....once I was able to let go of peeling tangerines and having to read Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the corner....I was able to really enjoy the happiness I am feeling about working with Dandelion. In fact, during the course of the evening chatting with the people I knew at the Axis event, I was describing what we're up to, describing my excitement about working with Dandelion and the watching the piece unfold, and people commented that I looked really lit up and happy. Gooooood.

I'd like to tell you about the Axis thing...but I've just run out of time.

The bumped the call time from 1230 up to 1130, so I need to use this last hour to get my sheeeeit together. If I'm not totally trashed tonight, I'll try to write later.

I'll leave you with some of the affirmations I've been giving myself since last night:

I am a focused.
I am capable.
I am creative.
I can follow instructions.
I can break all the rules.
I can take risks.
If I am dancing with someone who I'm not connecting with, I can use that lack of connection as dance fodder.
If I am dancing with someone I am connecting with, I can allow myself go deep with it.

I am a dancer.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Merde. This is how you wish a dancer good luck.
(you dont say "break a leg" to a dancer...especially when she only has one leg)

Lots of dancing for me this weekend.

I start today at 12-noon with Dance Anywhere, doing an improvisation with Dandelion Dancetheater.

Then onto a 4-5 hour rehearsal with Dandelion for the upcoming performances of Annica.

After that, I begin (and this is where you need to wish me "shit") a weekend long interview process for a part-time dance position in Axis Dance Company. They are seeking more dancers with disabilities.

We start with a 3-hour meet & greet tonight with the company and auditioning dancers. We have a 6-hour dance workshop/in-process interview on Saturday. We have 3 more hours of workshop dancing/auditioning on Sunday, and then we hang around for one-on-one interviews, I assume with the creative director and a few others.

I'm pretty nervous. I've been googling a bit, and some of the other dancers auditioning have far more modern dance experience than I do, and some (but not all) have had a bit more time than I have had adjusting to changed bodies and how to adapt movement.

Besides, all of's the kick off of National Dance Week, and I'm trying to squeeze in seeing some important performances on Sunday afternoon.
I need a clone.

Have a great weekend, all. XO

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

knit....knit like the wind

My last post about knitting was about a month or so ago, and I've had a whole lot of fiber activity going on since then (well, a whole lot for me, at least).

Most of it was done while listening to Brenda Dayne's podcast, Cast-On.

A few weeks ago, Franklin noted on his blog that he would be a guest host for an episode. I was immediately bummed, as I dont have an ipod, but I clicked on the link anyhow so I could rub salt in my lack-of-material-things wound. When I got there, I found out that you dont need an ipod to listen to a podcast. Hoorah!

So the past few weeks I've been downloading back episodes and listening to them here and there. It's absolutely the coolest thing ever. Podcasts are like listening to a radio show (but you get to pick the topic, so in my case, so far...knitting!). I can listen to it "on-demand," playing it back when I want to. I don't need to remember to set a timer to record it. It's like an audiobook, only free....and I dont need to remember to return it, either.

I'd say that Cast-On is basically like an audio knitting magazine with music. It's made knitting alone when I don't neccessarily want to be alone not so lonely (if that makes any sense). And it's made it alot easier to put down the knitting so that I can tend to other chores.
I can listen to a podcast about knitting and organize things like this:

and still feel like I'm at least engaged in knitting while I'm stuck doing the poopy chore (nobody get used to this chore business, though--I much prefer to be knitting while I listen to a knitting podcast, thank you very much).

Pretty lame of me for not taking a before picture...sorry. Must be my very embarrassed subconsious trying to hide from you the nightmare that used to live in that drawer. And no, the rest of my house is not this me.

So Thank You Brenda! Love your show :-)

She links to other knitting podcasts on her blog. I haven't listened to any others yet because I'm still catching up on the back episodes of Cast-On, but I have bookmarked a couple for when I run out and get lonely. Next in my queue to check out is KnitCast.

Knitting Show and Tell

I’ve got more than I can cram into one post without driving us all nuts: A few FO’s (aka "finished objects" for the non-knitter contingency), some new stuff went on the needles, some other stuff is still stuck on my needles, I reclaimed/recycled some yarn, did some swatching, and made several new acquisitions to the stash and my knitting library.

I’m going to show you the FO’s and just one (of the many) new purchases. Hopefully I'll share the rest later in another post. You know. Later.
Like that dance post. Ugh.

Ok. Here we go.


Alrighty. So after my last knitting entry, I finished that little dishcloth we all talked about.

And then I made two more to keep it company.

(yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream)
I love these even more than I did the last time I prattled on about them. Everyone I have time to knit these for is getting them as holiday gifts in a little basket with some handmade soap.
I'm on a mission.
I might even make the soap myself. I've been wanting to try that out for awhile. But no promises (I need another project right now like I need a hole in my head).

Fingerless Gloves
Then I knit up (and more importantly, seamed up) the companion fingerless glove.

(Koigu-KPPPM) compliments of MyFK
I love these. They fit great. They keep that part of my arm warm that has all the plates and screws in it. One little problem though....I can't wear them while knitting with double pointed needles. The opposite ends of my pointy sticks get stuck in the palm of my knit covered hand. I have to roll the glove up my arm and wear it like a wrist warmer. No biggey, but I can see more knitted cuffs on my horizon.

The lesson I learned with this project:KNIT IN THE ROUND WHEREVER POSSIBLE.

The designer wrote the pattern for these to be knitted flat. I assume it was designed flat so as to not scare off newbie knitters who are intimidated by more than two pointy sticks. Looking at the pattern, there is not one good reason for them not to be in the round.

This is the second time I have knit something flat before realizing how totally lame the pattern is (given I'm able to knit socks, and look at the writstwarmers, I mean, basically socks with no heel or toe...duh). I'm such a space cadet that I didn't figure it out until I was at the thumb gusset, and was really cursing myself once I finished the first one and started seaming up it's 90-something little rows. I almost said "screw it" and knit the second one in the round, but I'm anal about things matching, so I submitted myself to torture again on the second one by knitting it flat, too.

I think I've finally learned my lesson about converting things to the round wherever possible. I don't mind seaming so much, and in fact, I'm surprisingly good at it. But I have a bad habit of finishing the knitting of an item and then letting it sit unseamed for a weeks, and I just hate that. It's my version of second sock syndrome.

The next thing I finished was Latifa.

(Elsbeth Lavold, Silky Wool & Silky Tweed...Koigu KPPPM ruffles)
I was about six color blocks into this scarf when it starting calling my best friend's name, even though I'd intended it to be mine when I cast-on. Her birthday is next week, but I gave it to her early because it really is a "just because" gift rather than a "birthday gift". It looks great on her. She's tall, and it's long, and she has this super curly/spirally hair that totally plays off the ruffles.
But let me tell you a little bit about Latifa.
Love her.
I love the colors, the way the soft curve of the ruffles plays off the linear garter stitch. It's really a nice scarf.

This Latifa I made has:
750 rows of just garter stitch (for the non-knitter, read as = meditative, but very boring).
108 ends to weave in.
2772 increases to be made, one after the other (K1FB).
3729 stitches to bind off.
(see, this is why knitting should be taught in school...when you have that much time with repetitive knitting, you can do algebra while you knit)

It was tedious.
And it was hard on my bum writst.
And it came out so nicely, I'd would not avoid doing it again.

More Fingerless Gloves
The next thing off my needles were some fingerless gloves to go with Latifa, using the left-over yarn.

My own design, if you could even call it that. Honestly, they really are quite the silly little things. Just a garter stitch square sewn up leaving a hole in it where the thumb goes. Then I picked up around the edge and knit the double ruffle that matches the scarf. I made them so they could be worn like a glove or turned around and worn like a little cuff poking out of the sleeve (nothing as nifty as Mrs.Beeton, but that's where the inspiration came from). Try to ignore the fact they clearly dont work with a red sweater. I know that.

It turns out that they fit me great (how thoughtful of me), but are a wee bit too small for the recipient. I offered to reknit them, but she admitted (thankfully--what a waste that would have been) that she's not sure she'd wear them anyhow. She's not a glove person. So they’re mine, I guess....although this shade of green is not my color (it's hers) and there is still that little issue with not being able to wear them while knitting with dpn's. Maybe I'll just keep them for by the computer or something.


I've been a bad girl.

I had an unexpected influx of cash from 4 different sources. FOUR. Seeings that I'm already really entrenched in the noodle soup routine, I figured why not just buy knitting stuff instead of steak. Go figure.
(To tell you the truth, the noodle soups are great. I add steamed veggies and baked tofu. With all the rain we've been having, cozying up with a bowl of this stuff while reading the book I bought with the $ I saved has been workin' just fine by me)

But like I said, influx o' cash.

The very first thing I did was visit Carol's etsy shop, Black Bunny Fibers. Didn't even waste a minute. I'd been eyeing her hand dyed yarns for a few weeks, but every time I was about to buy something, it would be gone before I could do anything about it. The morning after some money landed in my lap I went straight to her shop...saw it, loved it, bought fast she didn't even have time to blog about it. I remember that she described the yarn as periwinkle and plum, and added that the photo was doing capturing the yarn color and justice. I can't get a decent picture of it either, actually. Poo.

(added: I just noticed that the etsy shop has a link you can click so that you can see what you've been of items sold along with their descriptions. Congrats, Carol--you've been a busy gal over there!)

Anyhow, here's the best my camera would allow.... one with flash, one without flash, one in daylight...none of them really capture the color, though.

and here it is swatched up.....

The yarn was listed as fingering weight, but this swatch is on US#6 at 5.25 st to the 1", and I'm liking the drape I'm getting. I'm thinking it's feeling closer to a sport weight. It's very soft and yummy and wonderful to knit with.

I was pretty sure I was going to makes something like Ella (from Knitty) out of it. And I may still do that. I love the shape of that shawl. Then I was kind of eyeing the concept of Convertible.

But now that I've swatched the yarn, it is totally screaming baby sweater. Or maybe baby blanket. Except I don't have anyone with a baby (or anyone expecting) in my life right now. So I dunno. I'm going to sleep on it for a day or two. I am sure inspiration will strike. It always does.

(just added more: I've been emailing with Carol, and apparently there was a small mix-up and this yarn is more than likely a sport weight and not the fingering weight she thought it was. She's kindly offered to correct the situation...but I actually like the yarn a lot and cant wait to see what it wants to be when it grows up!)


That's it from me for now. MyFK is out of school this week for spring break, so I'm ultra-busy on mommy-duty.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

100 years ago today, 5:12am

…was the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

Every year around this time (but especially this year, being the centennial), the local news programming airs historical perspectives. Then after they take us on a trip down memory lane, they launch into the earthquake preparedness schpeel, because well…we are pretty much waiting for next “big one” out here.

Today I went and checked my stash of earthquake supplies…water, radio, canned food, sterno, etc etc….and guess what I added to it.

A couple of skeins of Sugar & Cream cotton and some knitting needles.

Don't laugh.
I’m figuring I’m going to be mighty stressed already, so why make it worse by not having stash around.

At least I can knit a dishcloth or two.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

treespirit project

Ooooooooooooooo lookie lookie.........

I was leaving dance class Thursday night when I saw the cover of April's Common Ground magazine.

Please check out the artist's website...the images are stunningly beautiful.

Tea Tree Tangle, Jack Gescheidt

I'm drawn to the images out in full blown nature, but I'm finding myself having those wonderful unsettled reactions to the shots of naked bodies in the city trees, too.

Ficus Friends, jack Gescheidt

If you will be in the SF Bay Area, there's an upcoming opportunity to work with the artist:

Doff Your Duds and Hug a Tree
You can participate in the world's biggest TreeSpirit photo, which will be staged in Marin, on Sunday, April 23rd from 2-5pm. At least 100 participants are expected and all body types, sizes, ages, races, and physical ablilities are appreciated. For details, contact jack Gescheidt at: TreeSpirit photographs are on display at the Frantoio restaurant in Mill Valley ( through April 30. For more information, visit

I'm super bummed I cant participate in this. It's a busy day for me...our dance studio has the Dance-a-Rama event for National Dance Week, plus I am in the weekend long interview for a slot in Axis Dance Company. I've emailed Jack and asked to be added to his mailing list, though!

Friday, April 14, 2006

look clouds

What a day yesterday.
And this time, I knew where my sunglasses were.
I think it's supposed to rain most of the weekend again, though...poo.

I took a bunch of my knitted FO's (finished objects) and new yarn purchases outside for a photo shoot under natural light, and I'll get those posted soon.

But not right now.
Gotta go.

Busy day of rehearsing with Dandelion Dancetheater. Five hours on-site at the location where the performances will take place this summer in San Francisco (which means Friday commute traffic in and out of TheCity, both directions. Lovely).

(not a view from my house, btw...I wish)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

dance calendar (finally)

Ok,'s only half the calendar.
But still, it's better than nothing.
The rain has stopped for a bit, and I see sunlight outside, so I'm out of here.

This is Dance Calendar-Part One, which contains dates of specific events and showings that I am involved with.
Part Two will have detailed listings of events for Dandelion Dancetheater and Axis Dance Company, as they both have a whooooole lotta stuff going on.

Firday, April 21st at 12-noon (pdt)
A Kick-Off Event for National Dance Week

A calling for dancers to break out into movement, all at the same time, everywhere.

"Want to dance? You are invited to dance anywhere you choose...a simple phrase / an improvisation / a choreographed dance...anywhere: a street corner / a park / an office / a school"

If you like to dance, please get out there and do yer thang. If you know other people that like to dance, please link them to this invitation. If you aren't into dancing yourself but like to watch dance performances, see who has rsvp'd and go check them out.

note: As it turns out, I have dance rehearsal with Dandelion Dancetheater that day starting at 12-noon. I've asked the director if our "warm-up" can be a structured improv outside. I also asked him to understand that if a group dance isnt going to pan out, that I'll be doing a solo and coming to rehearsal 15 minutes late. From the rsvp list, it looks like we're dancing! Yay! We will be up in the College/Claremont area near Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, and it looks like we will be in the in the company of many. Can't wait!

April 21 - April 30
A Week of Free Dance Classes and Performances

In the Bay Area I think we are well over 2,000 events/classes listed. Check here for details.

My co-teacher, the lovely Karen, will be representing our class by performing a solo bellydance as part of Dance-A-Rama (a collective peformance with other artists in our complex). Dance-a-Rama is Sunday, April 23rd from 1pm-5pm. Karen will be performing in the 1pm-2pm time slot. Also performing that day in the 4pm-5pm slot is The Deborah Parker Ensemble, who will do an encore performance of a piece chorepgraphed in honor on my late teacher, Jamie Miller. Click here for details....scroll down to East Bay/Terrain/ Dance-a-Rama

The class I co-teach will be offering a free bellydance class Thursday, April 27th at 7:45pm.
Click here for details...scroll down to East Bay/Berkeley Moving Arts/Bellydance From The Inside Out

Wednesday, May 3 at 7:30pm (free)
An Evening of Contemporary Jewish Dance/Theater

Cal State University, East Bay
258000 Carlos Bee Blvd, Hayward, CA

Performance and Discussion:
Dandelion Dancetheater, Deborah Slater Dance Theater, Ellen Bromberg, Nancy Karp + Dancers, Nina Haft & Company, special guests

note: I'll be performing with Dandelion Dancetheater

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

knitted ark

Does anyone out there know which knitting book it was that had the knitted boat??
It was really just a little bowl shaped thing, and I would guess it was a project that included felting.

I think I might need to cast on.

Last time I wrote about the weather, I was reporting March rain stats.
In March, it rained 25 out of 31 days here.
As of today, April 12th, it has rained 11 out of 12 days.
More rain is expected.
Mudslides, floodwatches and small creek advisories, homes being yellow or red tagged for evacuation. An elderly man gone missing this morning when the hillside behind his house came down. They're digging for him now with 5-gallon buckets.

Here's how one of my pupperdoodles spent the one sunny day in April.

I have a permanent pile of muddied towels near the back door for wiping muddy puppy toes every time the dogs come in from potty excursions (the one above is Roxy, her sister is Lily). Even when it stops raining my backyard is a mudpit. The topsoil has washed away, the clay underneath has become this tarry black substance that sticks between the dog toes. I should put up a ring and set the place up for mud wrestling.

I spent that one sunny day looking for my sunglasses, which of course, I didn't find until it started getting overcast again. I also spent most of the day feeling like I was walking on the moon or something....I hadn't seen shadows in so long that once the sun came out to create them it added this surreal feeling of depth and texture to the environment. The sun felt so good I actually almost wept.

I know this still isn't the dance calendar.
But I'm feeling too poopy and seasonally affected to get that assembled and posted.

I am getting a whole lot of knitting done, though....some of which I can post about, but most of which I can't. Most of what is on my needles is super-secret birthday stuff for all of the April and June folks in my life. But I'll take some pics before I wrap the gifts and show you later, after I give them ;-)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

(not the dance) links

Just before sleep last night, TheMIG told me that he'd heard a discussion on the radio about a program that had aired the night before on one of the major TV networks. He said that sometime (this past week--missed it, dang it) they'd aired a program about folks who "wanna-be" amputees. We agreed to see if we could find a link to the show this morning.

A good dance buddy of mine just emailed it to me, saving me some google-time.

What drives people to want to be amputees?

I'm not in the mood the say anything more about this really. I've done some of that in other posts. This discussion usually makes me pretty flippin' emotional. I'll just point out two quotes.

Reading this literally gave me a huge full body shudder:
"When these people see an amputee, they see … a person of strength being able to overcome hardship, someone to be admired," First said.

And reading this gave me the rocks-in-the-tummy feeling:
For a man remarkably at home in his wheelchair, there is a hint of regret. There are places the wheelchair can't take him, like to the beach to feel the sand under his feet.
"It's all those little things, like that," Karl said. "What the hell was I thinking?"


A few weeks ago, another dance friend sent me a link to this:
Whole: A Documentary
Haven't seen it.

Ok. I lied. I guess I actually do I have one thing to say about this.
I'm just kinda sitting here wondering how the heck the health insurance business deals with this. TheMIG pointed out that the ABC article is referring to folks in countries such as France, where healthcare coverage is probably vastly different than what we have here in the USA.

My amputation has drained me financially (understatement), and mine was "covered". Maybe while good ol' Karl is (not) running his toes through the sand, he is also pondering how he's going to pay his medical bills.

Dance links coming soon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

private place (dance post number two)

I’ve been dilly dallying in responding to Jodi’s comment regarding this post from over a month ago:
When you say that you improvise movements in response to ideas, I can't really get my head around that at all.

It turns out that, boiled down to it's essence, there is a really simple way to explain this movement concept....but to understand the succinct explanation, I think one also needs the longer detailed version.

And because I am who I am, I of course have to offer both versions.

The day after I got Jodi's comment, it was time for our weekly bellydance class. That night, after class, a few of us embarked on the tradition of going to Lenny’s (which is really “Denny’s," but Lenny's refers to a joke from an old TV commercial and probably dates us big time). Anyhow, Lenny’s is the only place open that late in our area. We don’t do this every week, but when we do go there to catch up, there are usually four of us. There is myself, my co-teacher Karen (who recently de-lurked), Michelle (who used to co-teach with Karen and I, is on hiatus as a formal teacher, but still comes to class and contributes), and Sharon (who has been a special guest teacher, and is a highly accomplished dancer/performer/teacher, which is putting it lightly).

Sitting there at the diner looking around the table, I had this idea to ask each one of us to state the number of years that we’d been dancing. Between the four of us, we exceeded One Hundred Years of combined dance experience.

Given that total, you’d think we’d be able to put our heads together and come up with a pat response to Jodi’s comment. But no dice. We all had thoughts, but I dont recall we ever came up with a firm definition that would explain this segment of the work we do.

I thought for sure Karen would come up with something useful for Jodi because aside from being a talented dancer/performer, she is also a talented artist/painter.

I rolled out of Lenny’s (by rolled I mean: it's midnight and I have belly full of cheesyfries and rootbeer float, so maybe I didn’t retain details well), and I tool the mental notes from that night and came up with my "boiled down to the essence" description of this movement concept:
Private Place work is a tool for transitioning from ordinary life into a place ripe for creative-work, and is also a tool for grounding yourself.

Here's the long explanation.

This is my definition of the dance technique we use called "Private Place". I’m going to give some examples of how it has worked for ME, but it may work with my other troupe members and students differently.

Private Place is basically a guided imagery meditation. Like many tools I have in my dance toolbox, I learned this from my bellydance teacher, Jamie Miller. If a student of Jamie’s was preparing for a solo performance, it was basically a given that you would have at least one (if not more) private lesson with her as part of your rehearsal process. Usually one session included Private Place work. If we were working on a troupe piece, we would usually do Private Place together. I don’t know how Jamie managed to both lead the process and simultaneously participate in the process (guiding herself to find her own Private Place), but when we do it in our class today, the person doing the guiding usually gets at turn to be led through the process separately, at a later time.

Ok. So here's how we do it. The dancer lies down in an open space (with a little room to move), and is first guided through some sort of physical relaxation process (imagining each body part filling with sand and becoming heavy is a popular one). The leader then uses really open dialog to encourage the dancer to let their mind open/wander to a “place”. By open dialog, what I mean is that if I’m leading I’m going to try not to say any words that “suggest” where the dancer will go. I keep the language so that it's not specific and riddled with details. I dont want to constrict the possibilites by saying, "You are going to a private place on a beach near a mountain, it is cold...blah blah blah." I know we have at least one student that picks where they are going before they even close their eyes…but in my opinion, that’s really not the idea. The idea is just be open to the process and just end up wherever you end up.

To give you and idea of what a “place” can be, here’s a list of a few places some of us have ended up in:
Me personally: I’ve been on the rooftop of some kind of ancient temple in a jungle. I’ve been near a waterfall. I’ve been on the very edge of an oasis with one side of my body always being next to lushness and the other side being next to the dry desert. I’ve been inside of some big dark gooey viscous blob of I-don’t-know-what. I’ve been laying on a rock in the middle of river. I’ve been in the woods where my car crashed.
I have troupe members who have been: Swimming in a lake. Laying in a rowboat on a lake. Actually being a tornado. Being a tree. Standing on the very edge of a cliff. Being and organism living in a tide-pool. Moving amongst large blobs of colors floating around them . Under a bed of decomposing leaves in a forest.

Once you find your place, then you explore it. You are then guided to explore it as deeply as possible while still within the meditative state. Noticing what is around you (again, the leader uses open dialog). Are you alone? Is there a temperature? Can you tell if there is a time of day, a season, etc. Are there any smells? I think you get the idea. As the dancer, you are basically being aware and noticing.

And once the dancer has explored a bit while laying in stillness, they are then encourage to begin to move physically about the open space, but to remain mentally and spiritually “within” their private place. Just moving around…not actually dancing (although depending on the place, I suppose that could happen). And as you explore your private place through movement, you have your private place feed your movement, and you have your movement feed your private place. The play off each other.

Once the person leading feels like there is some sort of “resolution” or full exploration of the place (which can be interesting when we are working in a group), the leader eases the dancer back into the room.

Sometimes we give the dancer something to write with to jot notes or draw images, and often we share about our experience (not required, but we usually do), both as the dancer and as the leader/witness. Sometimes the one watching sees things that the dancer may not have been aware of because they are a bit “tranced out”, so to speak. Things like a repetitive movement or gesture. Or a quality of movement.

The neatest thing about Private Place sometimes, is that of all the places you can end up in, your psyche usually does a pretty damn good job of creating a place for you that lines up exactly with current issues you are working through on a personal level. Through the weeks of rehearsing, as you use your private place to enrich your dance experience, you have an opportunity (at least this is how it works for me) to also work through your personal issues via movement. And as you work through some of your personal issues from your life outside of the dance studio, it in turn has an effect on your dance rehearsal. Your private place feeds your movement, your movement feeds your private place.

In terms of the actual rehearsal times, private place is this tool you can use, this place you can go, pretty quickly, that will ground you so you are ready to dance. Kind of the way some people meditate with a candle, and when they focus on a flame, it reminds them quickly of the calm state they’ve visited before.
Private place, in my experience, also makes the dance movements themselves really rich, for lack of a better term, and often there have been movements specifically representative of and relevant to the private place itself that actually make it into the choreography. It’s usually these choreographed movements that leave an audience member commenting that they felt there was a “story” they were discovering as part of watching the performance. For me, it’s this kind of choreography that turns bellydance from just entertainment to an art form. A vehicle for creative expression. The audience usually knows I’m trying to say “something”, and as with other arts, it is up to the viewer to find the meaning within themselves.

What private place does for a dancer on the actual performance day is also a big gift. You hit the stage, close your eyes and center yourself for even just a few seconds, and if you imagine yourself in your private place, it almost matters not at all that you are now in front of a bunch of people watching you, or that the stage isn’t the same size as your rehearsal space, or that the surface you are dancing on is different than your studio floor. I mean, those things do matter, and you do notice them, but your private place basically keeps you from tripping over details. It keeps you in the core of yourself, and with your movement. It keeps you grounded.

I tell you who I’d REALLY like to talk to about this a student we had for a long time named Bruce. He never really wanted to bellydance. He was a piano player, and he was mostly coming to our class for the first half of our class, which is the body alignment segment. He always stayed for the second half of class though and danced, and I what I remember was him talking about how Private Place work was feeding his playing piano playing.

Karen also offered up some additional information. She feels like Private Place is similar to when she walks into her studio to paint, she starts by drawing in a sketchbook as a way to make a transition and get grounded.

Maybe it’s like the way a knitter settles into a nice long chunk of knitting time, when we have those. Maybe it’s like deciding to create a knitted garment. You get a deep detailed image of what you want to create, and then every time you work on the your project, you have the image of the finished item in your mind, and it is with you as you work.

Hope that helps.
I'm actually off to dance class, it's Thursday Night!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

comments on comments

I'm actually sitting here working on the dance post about Private Place work (no, really--I am), but I just have to say something about the comments lately, because y'all are cracking me up.

Number One--I cannot believe that out of all the months spent lurking on this blog, that my beloved co-teacher Karen (who not only dances, but knits), comes out of hiding not to comment about the dancing or the knitting...but about the tiny little ice-creams. Hahahaha. HILARIOUS.

Number Two--Sara. You know, last night I was reading that new book I bought, and the entire first chapter is about what makes a knitter versus a non-knitter...and I thought about you several times over. Especially the excuses you come up with for not knitting (you coveter of kitty hats). That made it really funny to wake up and see your comments from yesterday. So if you ever get your hands on the book, just go read the examination of a non-knitter part and get back to me. Then I'll either send you some needles and yarn or a completed kitty hat. It's your call ;-)

You also wrote about my being "naughty (knotty?)", and shortly after reading that, I was doing my morning internet trolling and I ended up at The Panopticon (Franklin's the guy I bought the Venus de Knitting shirt from). His most recent post is "Knaughty" and he has a new shirt that I. Must. Have. (after I finish these noodle bowls). Being a core member The Undressed Project who sometimes knits betweens sets at rehearsals, it's basically a must have.

Oh...and I haven't actually "met" Annie Chun "in person" yet. This is my first time inviting her over. We're having lunch together today. Heehee.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


The things an addict will do for a rush are fairly pathetic.

Especially this knitting addict.

I went to my favorite LocalYarnStore (Skein Lane) today for the little workshop thing I love to go to whenever I can (they let me pay as a drop-in). So I figured that if I was going to "window shop" (*ahem*) while in the store, looking at the knitting books was probably a safer bet than fondling the wall of sock yarn (which of course, I also did anyway). I have no dinero to put towards any kind of knitting anything right now...and no, not even a certain paperback book, I'm embarrassed to say.

So like I said, usually the books are the safe bet.
Except the little devil on my shoulder was whispering in my ear that I needed to try to find Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's new book Knitting Rules! (just to look, you know)....and the angel on the other shoulder was wiping her foreheard in relief when I couldn't find a copy.

So I went to the counter to pay for the drop-in class, and damn...
Wouldn't you know it.
The last copy was out the counter.

Which clearly I couldn't resist.

No matter how hard I tried (which obvioulsy wasn't very hard).

the lovely floral fabric background is a gorgeous scarf one of my dance students, Judy, passed along to me last week...LOVE IT. It's been a scarf, a shawl, a hip scarf sarong thing, a something to lay down on, and now the background for a photo shoot.

My next stop after the yarn store, was at TraderJoe's for less important things like (*ahem*) FOOD, and I couldn't even get out of my car without first sitting and reading the entire chapter on socks.

THEN I finally go in and buy all the little special foods my picky eater needs to be happy, and a little something for myself. My dinner for the rest of the week:

Cup O'Noodles, basically (if you can't make that out or it's unfamilar to you).


for those concerned, by the way...I'm exaggerating....a little bit. ;-)

Monday, April 03, 2006

cute alert

Looky what I found this weekend:

It even came with the little plastic spoon.
Probably not the best deal (price per ounce), but I'm hoping the portion size will stunt the "secretary spread" I've developed over the past year.

And it's just. Cute.

Except now I need to knit mini-cozy/snood-thingys.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

first of the dance posts

Welcome to my “This is Not a Review of the Rakkasah” Review....
which is really just a few notes about what I found interesting there this year.

So for the uninitiated, the Rakkasah is the largest bellydance festival in the United States (actually, if the claim is true, which it probably is, it's the biggest bellydance festival in the world). It's always held right around the Spring Equiniox (so it came and went last weekend). And it just so happens that it's held right here in the San Francisco Bay Area (East)…which is my 'hood.

It’s basically a week-long event of workshops and classes. At the end of the week, the whole shebang culminates with a 3-day festival just dripping with shopping opportunities. Two separate stages also run non-stop with bellydance performances. For those who shimmy (or want to) it's pretty much an annual pilgrimage to Bellydance Mecca.

For you knitters out there, picture something like Stitches, only a whole lot sparklier and covered with body glitter. Oh, and it's noisier. A lot noiser. Aside from the ooohs and ahhhs of ecstatic shoppers, there is music being played for the dancers to perform to, and onlookers are zagareeting (the bellydance version of “woohoo!”). There are merchants playing the cd’s and dvd’s they are selling. Other booths have people playing and selling Middle Eastern drums and zils (finger cymbals). Even most of the costumes for sale make noise, and dancers are picking things up and playing with them like kids in a candy store (and even sometimes like grabby bargain hunters on sale day at Macy's).

Here’s a picture of just one corner of the main floor, taken from the rafters.

The market/bazaar is also set up in both the upper and lower lobbies, down five separate side hallways, and into two side rooms. I’d say if you look at this picture and multipy by maybe 12 or so, that’s about what you are dealing with when you walk into the place. It’s pretty overwhelming, to tell you the truth. And it’s very easy to buy stuff you then bring home and can't figure out how to incorporate into your next costume. I personally didn't get it right until my fourth or fifth time going. Those with experience know that when you start feeling a bit nutzo and get glassy eyed, it's time to sit up in the balcony and watch everything from above for a little bit.

I didn’t buy one damn thing this year…which never happens…but that's because I actually had the “pleasure” of going broke. To tell you the truth, it actually made for an interesting day because I looked at things differently. Here's a few things that caught my eye....

I was completely blown away by the amount of yarn I saw going into costumes.
There was fun-fur everywhere. It was knitted or crocheted and then sewn onto things. It was tacked onto cuffs and collars. It was the fringe hanging from belts and hair ties.

A good portion of what I saw in yarn, was pretty crappy looking.
Here’s a (blurry, sorry) photo of my co-teacher holding up a belt covered in knitted fun-fur. The blur actually makes it look better than it really was...I would have felt like I was wearing a muppet if I had this thing on.

But some of it was not crap. There were a couple of extremely crafty girls at Tribal Source that really had it figured out. They were hand sewing belts out of fabric and attaching yarn fringe. Lots of ladder, ribbon, and chenille yarns, or even just wool. Some of the belts and bras were adorned with what at first glace appeared to be shells and coins...but upon closer inspection, they actually turned out to be buttons and metal washers.
And the costumes were beautiful.

Googling around on chat boards this week, I see that the tribal clan has got some awesome ideas about all kinds of trinkets to costume with:
"I was totally into making a 'mirror' belt with piece of motherboard instead of mirrors, and computer wires for yarn."
"...more chains, using recycled computer parts as sparklies (i.e., "shisha" mirrors out of old CD's), etc. Think Mad Max bellydance. :)"

The other place I saw alot of yarn was in people's hair. Lots of "hair extensions" and "falls" made out of yarn. Basically what's going on is that people are attaching different kinds of yarns to hair ties, clips, and barettes. Some folks then braided the yarn or tied in beads and baubles, etc.

Now, I guess this has been around for awhile, especially in the world of tribal-style bellydance, and that must be why I missed the boat. I'm not tribal.

<--there's me in one of my costumes (old photo/two legs)

there's some ladies in their tribal costumes (or one version of tribal, at least), including the yarn hair falls-->

Now, like I said, I love the concept. Given the right yarn and dingle-dangles to tie on them, and some artistic flair, I think that yarn hair accessories have real potential for endless self entertainment.

In my not so distant past, I've had blonde streaks in my hair that I could dye over in different colors like purple an red. And although I'm itching to have my funky hair colors back, my life doesn't permit me to do have something that permanent right I'm enthralled with the notion of tying in something like my left over wine colored Koigu.

Unfortunately 90% of what I saw out there in this category scared me to death...

...or lacked proper execution.

(I know it looks like I kidnapped this woman and have her bound and gagged with duct tape, but I swear this is my compasstionate attempt to protect the poor soul's anonymity)

And guess what?!! You can even make a hair fall that is felted "dread locks".

I know, I picked out something ugly to show I said, given the right yarn, this could actually be some big time fun.

Bell bottom jazz pants are all the rage in the bellydance world.

I think these are awesome, and would wear them for practicing in dance class even though I'd lose half my swish (because I dance one legged and would consider lopping a pant leg off so as not to get tangled up in it). I might even wear these pants as an acutal costume piece under a skirt instead of harem pants.
I saw someone perform in them just with no overskirt though, just a coin belt hip scarf (like above), and I didn’t like the way it worked for the performance setting.

One of the things that makes bellydance appear the way it does is that there is a whole lot going on with the knees that the public just doesn’t need to know about. It's mysteeeeeeerious. And sometimes unattractive. Our skrits and harem pants keep all of that underwraps. Jazz pants do not. Great for class though, because it definitely helps to see legs while you are learning.

Has to go to Uberkuchi.
I realize they mean "Kuchi" and not "coochie"...but when you put an Uber in front of it...well, my mind just goes where it goes. Their logo gave me a huge giggle, and if I would have had money to spend on one thing at the show this year, I would have bought one of their t-shirts.



Maybe I just missed them in all the chaos, but I think maybe they've just moved on:

Saroyan Mastercrafts and the best zils on the planet, Gilded Serpent Magazine (second year on the blacksheep list?), Mary Ellen Donald and her drumming tapes/cd's (not to mention her wonderful presence), Dalia Carella and her booth companion that made her gorgeous costumes, Delilah and the opportunity to fantasize about dancing under a waterfall in Hawaii during one of her workshops, and Hahbi'ru (if they were on the bill, I missed them...darn).



edit to this blog post: I just discovered that the Rakkasah organizers have issued a formal apology for one of the performances I'm about to describe

Ok, now this is indirect feedback. It comes from my best friend, and at one time co-dance teacher. I went on Saturday she went on Sunday.

She was watching peformances on the main stage with her daughters, one of whom is in 1st grade. A troupe came out wearing skirts that were about 4-inches long in the front, about 6-inches in the back. Apparently they were talented, which is grand...but at one point buff male bellydancers came out donning their version of the mini skirt, faced the girls, butt to audience, and the girls jumped onto the guys, wrapped their legs around the guys' waists and gyrated on them, and then writhed in and out of backbends. Apparently 5 or so families with kids in the audience fled the building. And that's the part that bugs me.

So my friend left and took her daughter over to the smaller Cabaret Stage, where two women were doing a "sword dance" with the addition of modern dance and dramatic theater mixed into the bellydance medium. Grand again. Until they staged a fight about something, had a fencing match, and one of them ceremoniously sliced the other's throat. Two male bellydancers came onstage to drag their dead "bloodied" bodies away. Families with kids fled. And that's the part that bugs me.

So my friend takes a break, probably to debrief her daughter, and eventually makes her way back to main stage to watch Suhaila Dance Company. I love Suhaila's dancing. True artist and entertainer, ALWAYS pushes the creative envelope, precise skilled execution of movement, and very sexy...but professional. I guess during this performance piece, at one point she has a guy come out with an electric guitar and she performs a solo to his hard rock guitar....and a good porotion of the solo is spent with her playing with this guy's hair and stroking him. More than likely, Suhaila was not obscene...I have hunch my girlfriend just had the last straw at that point. But at least one more family fled, because my friend's sure did. And that's the part that bugs me.

Now, I wasn't even there on Sunday. I have no idea how accurate of a description I am giving, so please dont blast me if you are googling around and end up here. I'm not here to critique the dancing. My point is not about what was ON the stage, but rather about what was happening as an audience experience. At least one family (and probably more), with young children had several experiences of feeling like this year's Rakkasah was not a family venue. And it's always been a family venue. And I am disappointed.

I dont believe the Rakkasah organizers have ever issued a statment about what you can or cannot do during your dance. And I hope they dont ever have to. I'm a big fan of creative freedom. I just wish dancers would consider who their audience is when they choreograph. I'm not saying you shouldnt be allowed to explore your choreographic options, just consider saving the more risque performances for other venues. I've seen bellydance used as a medium to choreograph peices about anger and rage and violence and teacher did groundbreaking work using bellydance in that way herself (so have her troupe members)....but it was always peformed in a concert setting. Not a festival venue.

The other thing that occurred to me is (and I know I'm going to get shit for even pointing this out,'s just making me think, that's all...) all of these acts do share one common theme: there were men in them. And some of them weren't dancers. They were "props."

Now hush, y'all. I have seen many a male bellydancer. Professionals and amateurs. There are several out there that are completely talented and have totally rocked my world. My own dance teacher's teacher was a male bellydancer (the one and only Roman (Bert) Balladine, who I consider my Bellydance GrandPapa), and I've studied with him on several occasions. I have taught a male student in my own class, as well.

I just think it is interesting that as more male dancers enter the into the current stream of modern bellydance, that there is an increase of this dance form being used to portray sex and voilence. I have no idea if there is a connection or not, if what I'm observing is merely a coincidence, and honestly, I haven't formed any opinions (yet). To tell you the truth, I am willing to bet that the bulk of the choreography in these questionable dances were created by women, not by men. And so what is that saying? For me, it's giving me some food for thought.

One of the things that I truly adore about bellydance is it's rich and multifaceted history. In ages past, women and men bellydanced together to celebrate the harvest and fertility. Women of the harem used it as a way to entertain each other during long hours of seclusion, not just dances for a sultan. There is a lot of joy, and ritual, and comradeship in this danceform. I have spent way too many years trying to explain this to people who think that bellydance is one step away from doing a striptease (and I think stripping can be an art, too...but bellydance is not intended to be a striptease, and several in the bellydance community have tried to correct the misconception so that it can viewed for what it is--an art form). I understand that one way the message got there is because early performance venues (at least here in SF in the 60's) were at places like "Bimbo's" and "The ChiChi Club". I get it. But I think today, decades later, it's hard to change the message when some of us are prancing around in 4-inch skirts doing clothed versions of live sex shows.



Here's who gets to dance on stage at the Rakkasah:


The performance slots are filled on a first come/first served basis that takes place one fine Sunday morning in January when we all dial in by phone for hours, waiting to be the lucky ones to get a ring instead of a busy signal. Our troupe didn’t get a slot this year, but we usually do. Because the dance slots are filled lottery style, you get to see alllllll sorts of styles of bellydancing and different skill levels. It's really neat.

After 12 years of going to Rakkasah, I will never in my life forget this story. One year our troupe was getting ready in the shared dressing room backstage and this reallllly nerdy girl with very thick eye distorting glasses asks one us in this very nasal mousy voice if her rouge looked okay. After we danced, I made my way to the audience to watch for awhile, and out came our backstage friend, who took center stage, eyes closed (sans glasses), and the music started...Phantom of the Opera's "Music of the Night." She performed the most gorgeous double veil routine that I have ever seen anywhere. She looked like a goddess. It was very emotive, and my hair is standing up on my arms right now just thinking about it years later. I ran into her later that day while shopping and told her how wonderful it was, and she nudged her glasses back onto her nose and kind of squeeked out a little "thank you."

Anyhow. Sorry. I digress. The most moving performance I saw this year, on Saturday, was the esteemed Suhaila Salimpour dancing with both her daughter and her mother as part of the performance with Bal Anat (yes, the same Suhaila that twiddled her rockstar guitar dude).

Suhaila's daughter (I'm sorry, I dont know her name) is probably 7 or 8 by now, I'm guessing. We've seen her onstage almost every year since she could's been fun watching the progression. This year she wasn't her usual shy thing....she came out of the ranks of Troupe Bal Anat and took center stage to perform solo. Then slowly her mom, Suhaila (who has also bellydanced since a baby herself) came out to join her in a duet. And then slowly her mom, the famed Jamilla Salimpour came out to join them in the matriachal line spanning three generations. And then slowly grandma left, then mom left, and the little one held center stage, in a way that for me celebrated the way this dance is passed down from generation to generation. It touched me deeply, and when I looked around, maybe people besides myself had the watery eye thing going on.


There's my (very long--sheesh!) non-review of The Rakkasah....stay tuned for more about dancing in "private place" and an announcment of upcoming dance events.