I Dyed!

Or, Kool-Aid is Fun!

Yesterday was the big Kool-Aid dyeing project, courtesy of Kristen. Check out this post for a rundown of what she sent me a couple of weeks ago. I finally got around to making a mess in my kitchen yesterday with this.

Knitty has the instructions here for doing this. Check that out for details; what I’ve written here is just a brief rundown. If you do a Google search for “kool-aid dyeing” you will get other resources as well. John helped me with the photo shoot.


First I washed the yarn in mild soap and water, then rinsed and left it to soak in water while I was getting everything else ready. Kristen was nice enough to put the yarn in two separate skeins and tie them for me. I decided to do one color rather than a handpainted look.  After a little experimenting on bits of yarn, I chose Strawberry.


I actually added a bit of red food coloring, as I had a very vibrant strawberry in mind. You can use the dyes that are made for cake decorating as well, and these come in a wider variety of colors.


After you get the yarn in the Kool-Aid, you either put it in the microwave or on the stove and heat not quite to the boiling point, stirring a couple of times to make sure all the yarn is under the water.


Take it out of the microwave and let it cool, again stirring a few times. Wash again in mild soapy water, rinse, and dry. Be careful not to manhandle the yarn too much, or to shock it with different temperatures of water, or you will have a big felted wet strawberry.


Here is the finished yarn, ready to knit when my fingers start to cooperate.


You might notice something missing in this photo. Yes, the splint is gone, as of yesterday. I got a good report card from both my OT and my surgeon, and am now starting to work on range of motion and strengthening in earnest.

I also received some lovely gifts in the mail from my sister Diane today. You can tell that a warped sense of humor obviously runs in our family. The glasses are plastic, of course, to prevent further injury the next time we head off over the hills to the neighbors’ house to share wine.


And a closeup of the authentic crown:


Yes, that’s Riley licking her butt in the background. I didn’t notice it until it was up here, and I’m not doing it over. At least I have a puppy picture, so I won’t get kicked out of the Purling Puppy Webring.

What’s On Your Ipod?

As Laurie from Etherknitter pointed out in her post today, health complaints tend to have a short half-life. While my tendon saga is no doubt endlessly fascinating to some of you, even I am getting sick of hearing about it. But I can’t knit, so what to write about? (And John has this insane idea that I shouldn’t buy yet more yarn that I am unable to knit. He has a point.)

And yes, I have tried to knit. Amy the OT, if by some chance you’ve found my blog, this would be the time to take a break and get a cup of coffee. You don’t want to know, trust me. I very carefully picked up my needles and gave it a try. I guess I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. And I couldn’t, of course. My muscles are way too weak, the tendons feel a little iffy when I try it, and I don’t have the fine motor control. Hell, I don’t even have gross motor control. Yet.

I’ve made very good use of my Ipod during this time. Which brings me to the subject of this post. Our local paper ran an article over the weekend about our president and what’s on his Ipod. (Originally published in the New York Times). I was rather impressed at his techological savvy until I got to the part that said he only has 250 songs on his 40 gigabyte player, and he has an aide that loads it up for him. And one of his songs is “My Sharona”. When I got to that part, any lingering respect I might have had for the man was shot down. I don’t necessarily think that his George Jones is a bad choice; I’m a traditional country music fan myself, though my taste runs more towards Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Lefty Frizzell. Conway Twitty singing “It’s Only Make Believe”.  Floyd Cramer playing “Last Date”. And Vern Gosdin, the greatest country singer of all time. Makes me want to break out the bourbon just thinking about it.

So, what is on my Ipod? For starters, I have 5421 songs currently loaded. And 25 audio books. And the latest broadcast of Car Talk, one of the funniest shows on public radio. My musical taste would best be described as insanely eclectic. There is almost always music going on at our house. We have an extensive CD collection, though these days we mostly listen to Rhapsody; with our computer wired to the stereo we can listen to almost anything we want, anytime. And they have to put the CDs back in the cases, not me. We also listen to Folk Alley and KPIG.

About 1500 of those Ipod tunes are bluegrass or Appalachian style music, stretching over a wide range of bluegrass styles. About 600 are country or cowboy music (Wylie & The Wild West, Ian Tyson, Tom Russell). There are a couple hundred songs in the pop/rock/classic rock/oldies categories. There are 350 or so folk songs,about 180 blues tunes, a couple hundred jazz and swing tunes, another couple hundred or so songs by Texas artists…Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Freddy Fender, Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore. (Texas is about the only state that has its own music.) There is some Cajun and zydeco music, about 30 of my favorite classical pieces, and 5 or 6 opera albums. Though they’re not loaded yet, I have the complete Beethoven string quartets (7 CD’s worth) on deck to load next time I sync the thing. I have a few Hawaiian tunes (the other state with its own music), by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. No Ipod is complete without Sousa tunes, and I have 15 of them. Try it on the treadmill before you laugh. There are a dozen polka tunes (don’t ask, I grew up in North Dakota and was raised on Lawrence Welk and Myron Floren). I have 31 songs categorized as “surf”, by Dick Dale, the Hellecasters, and the Aqua Velvets. Listen to the Aqua Velvets’ “Smoking Panatelas on the Blue Mediterranean Sea”, from their “Nomad” album for a taste of what they’re like. And then there are a bunch of miscellaneous tracks that are hard to classify in any one genre.

Maybe George needs to borrow my Ipod for awhile. I think I like my song selection better than his. It might broaden his horizons considerably.

I Passed!

My tendons passed, that is. Thursday I had the tendons tested, which was a hell of an excitement, let me tell you. I actually had a dream about it the night before. In my dream I had taken my splint off to show somebody how it worked, then couldn’t get it back on correctly. I showed up at my “test” and Amy was none too happy with me. Any of you who have been through “higher education” would probably recognize this as a variant of the dream where you realize that the final is today and you forgot to go to class all semester.

The actual test took about ten seconds, then I was on my way to doing active exercises. This has been a rather distressing few days. I’ve lost a lot more power and range of motion in my hand and wrist than I would have thought possible in a month. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not supposed to be at full strength for another two months.

The real surprise was that my splint was revised yet again. Amy replaced the tape that straps it to my wrist with velcro straps so I can TAKE IT OFF to do exercises, and to wash my hand to get the gunk off. Hooray! In case you think this less than thrilling, let me just say that a lot of gunk builds up when you can’t wash your hand for a month. I’m exfoliating the skin off my whole hand and leaving my DNA all over the house. Guess I can’t commit any crimes for awhile; Gil on CSI would identify me in a minute.

I got a great surprise package in the mail this week from Kristen. Check out her blog here. Here is a picture.


Though I can’t knit, she figured I could manage Kool-Aid dyeing. There is a ball of Patons wool, which she skeined and tied for me so it’s ready to go. She included the Kool-Aid as well as gloves; a regular one for my regular hand, and a plastic bag to go over the splint. There are treats as well: chocolate for me, a knit catnip mouse for the cats, and a cookie for Riley. Here’s Willie’s verdict. He’s been trying to kill that mouse ever since he got it.


And Riley’s thoughts on the matter:


The chocolate is long gone, so no pictures. Thanks Kristen!

One more tip for any of you who unexpectedly find yourself unable to wash your own hair for three months. I got a little tired of looking like Phyllis Diller after the first week and went to my salon for a shampoo and style. It was wonderful, but a little spendy to do very often. John called his barber to see what they charge. The barber that owns the shop is a woman, and she charges $8 for a wash and dry. So I’m splurging and going every week.

3 Weeks Down,

Only 9 more to go. This week has been about maintaining my sense of humor. The first two weeks I was all gung ho, with an “I can lick this” attitude. I think the reality hit this week. I’m better now, but at the beginning of this week I wasn’t a happy camper about any part of this experience. Then to add insult to injury, I was in my surgeon’s office yesterday morning. He looked at my hand and said “you’re missing one of the stones from your ring”. This would be my wedding ring he was referring to, and neither I or John had noticed it. The ring has one larger diamond in the center with a smaller one on each side, and it was one of the smaller ones that was gone.

I managed to keep it together until we got to the car and then burst into tears, crying all the way home. I figured we’d look all over and never find it. I reached down to unhook the seat belt, and whacked my hand yet again on the center console, as I have been doing every time because it’s so f-ing awkward to do the seat belt with your left hand. Just for the heck of it I looked down between the seats to see if by some miracle it was there, and it WAS. So now the ring is at the jeweler’s to get fixed, and I’ve got three weeks of this under my belt, and I feel much better, thank you.

After this week, if all is going well with the tendons, I get to start doing what Amy my OT calls “baby bird” exercises. It apparently goes something like this: I passively move my fingers into my palm, then let them go and pretend like I’m holding a baby bird. I have to hold tight enough to cradle the bird in my hand, but not hard enough to squish it. I’ve never been so excited to start an exercise program in my life. Not this week though. That would be next week, if all goes well. This week is still another of the boring passive-range-of-motion-exercises weeks.

I can’t thank all of you enough for the kind words of support. Ryan, of Mossy Cottage Knits, and Margene, of Zeneedle, think I’m an inspiration. And Dorothy of Missouri Star fame sent me this after I whined about having trouble holding paperback books open.



Very cool. And it works amazingly well! Thanks, Dorothy! This might mean no more books lobbed across the room in frustration.

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

Today is the first anniversary of The Knitting Doctor. Unfortunately I won’t be doing any knitting to celebrate. It’s been a fun year. I started this as a way to document what I’m knitting, but it has turned into a wonderful way to “meet” a lot of other knitters. I’ve learned a few things about computers, and a lot of things about knitting. I like to look at anniversaries as opportunities for reflection; a time to set new goals, perhaps drop old ones that are no longer useful.

Julia from Moth Heaven wrote an interesting post last week about what she chooses to knit and why. I think one of the few disadvantages of blogging, and reading other blogs, is that I get very distracted from my knitting. “Oooohhh, I want to knit THAT!” “No no, THAT needs to be next.” Once my fingers get working again, I want to finish up some old projects that have been languishing, then work on some of the projects buried in those eight tubs of yarn lurking behind me. (OK, ten.) So much yarn, so little time.

I promised a list of the positive benefits of my hand injury. I have combined this with a list of things I can and can’t do with one hand, as well as just a few random things I’ve discovered. In no particular order, here goes. Some of these might qualify as “too much information” for some of you. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve learned that “they” make dental floss thingies that can be used with one hand.

I am able to wash my right armpit with ease.

I need assistance with the left armpit.

I’ve mastered one-handed makeup.

I can take my bra off with one hand.

I can’t get it back on.

Let me just say that “feminine hygiene products” can indeed be managed with one hand when one has to do so.

I’ve learned to butter toast with one hand. (If you are thinking “Ha, I can do that”, just try it.)

I can still drink a glass of wine with one hand. I can’t get the bottle open alone, but once it’s open, I’m set.

I have a lot of free time to read books. I’ve even gotten caught up on some medical reading.

Paperbacks are harder to read with one hand. Hardback books stay open better by themselves. Fortunately there is no shortage of books in this house.

I have lots of time to play on the computer.

My husband and I have had lots of time together. As long as he remembers that he has to help me wash my left armpit and then hook my bra before he goes anyplace, we’ll get along fine.

Life is much easier when people leave my bathroom counter the way I have it. Especially people who seem to think it’s funny to go in and put the caps and lids back on everything.

I finally will have time to read through June Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting. Of course, it’s a big enough book that I might not be able to balance it one-handed.

I’m able to go to the park with John to walk the dog a lot more than I ever was before.

You learn the value of little milestones. My stitches came out this week.

I’m learning the value of patience when you are a patient. I’ve only lobbed a couple of things across the room in frustration this week because I couldn’t get them open.

My splint has a rubber band that hooks one part to another part. Cats appear to find this endlessly fascinating. I’ve discovered that it’s just better if I don’t fall asleep with my splint exposed while Willie is pretending to sleep on my chest.

I can pet the cat with one hand. I can just as easily knock him four feet across the room one-handed.

That’s enough for one day. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, with all the free time on my hands. Well, hand, I guess.

I Deserve Only The Best


I received this little doctored-up photo from our good friends with whom we are supposed to be on vacation in Spain. If you don’t get the significance, read the last few posts. Yes, they both have a sick sense of humor, which is probably why we love them.

And yes, it was one of our Riedel wine glasses, just to add insult to injury. To answer another question from the comments, the wine was a nice sauvignon blanc from South Africa.

My next post will be a discussion of the positive implications of my hand injury. It’s taking me a while to come up with the list…

Hand Update

I had my first hand therapy session yesterday. Let me just say that occupational therapists are way under-appreciated. I knew that they were going to put me in a different splint; I had this vision of the OT picking one off a shelf and strapping it on my hand. Not so. She built it from scratch based on my hand measurements and my specific injury.  It ended up being made out of a moldable plastic material, velcro, fishing line, Barge cement, and a rubber band. Here’s a photo. Click on it to get an appreciation for the fishing line part.

I also have to start exercises hourly while I’m not asleep. I’m sure it’s the exercises and not just the splint, but the pain in my hand has gotten kicked up a notch.

I also found out yesterday just how limited I will be with the use of my hand for the next 3 months. Basically all the exercises are passive stretching, and she said that I won’t be allowed to do any active movements of any of my right hand fingers for that time frame. Obviously that means no knitting, but more significantly, no work for the next three months.  That means there won’t be any yarn deliveries around here for awhile. The UPS man might just forget where I live in three months. He’ll probably think I died or something.

I did buy myself one little self-pitying girlie item yesterday. Nothing cheers you up like springy makeup colors. The eyeliner might be a little optimistic, though. I have been able to get my makeup on with one hand otherwise.

I’ve decided I’ll still be blogging. Obviously it won’t be about new knitting, and I’m not quite sure just what this space will hold for the next few months. I will get back to knitting eventually!


First, I would like to thank everybody who sent good wishes about my hand. I can’t type well enough to respond to each of you individually, so this will have to do for now. Things seem to be going as well as I’d expect, though I’m still relatively drugged up on narcotics for the pain, so who knows.

Damn it. DAMN IT, I said. You just don’t realize all the things that require two hands until you lose the use of one of them. I am fortunate to have a husband who is quite accustomed already to waiting on me, so he hasn’t really had to act much differently. I have learned how to brush my teeth with my left hand, and managed to eat spaghetti last night, after a fashion. Try buttering your toast with one hand, and see how that goes. Getting a bra on turns out to be a two person job, and I have to say that John was quite a good sport about trying to wield the flatiron and tame my hair this morning.

I dreamed about knitting last night. Looking at knitting books and patterns is no help, I just get more frustrated. I have my first physical/occupational therapy appointment on Tuesday, and should have a better idea at that point how long this will all take.

I did get a little package in the mail yesterday:


Go to Patternworks if you want your very own.

Back to reading. I’m trying very hard not to behave like a spoiled two-year old with a temper tantrum.

Things Could Be Worse…

I guess I won’t be knitting for awhile. I did one of those “wide world of sports” falls two nights ago, and trashed my hand. We were going across the yard to the neighbors after dinner to socialize for a bit. We had part of a bottle of wine left, and I was carrying that and my wine glass. I miscalculated where the rock retaining wall was, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground with a bloody hand, and the broken off stem of the wine glass sticking out of my palm. I couldn’t flex my index finger so I was pretty sure that I’d either gotten a nerve or a tendon, or both. After a couple of hours in ER, it appeared to be tendon. I had semi-emergency surgery last night, and spent the night in the hospital afterwards. The good news is that the plastic/hand surgeon was able to repair the two severed tendons, and if all goes well I should have a good chance of regaining full function.

I’ll spare you the bloody hand photos…actually we didn’t wait around long enough to take them before racing off to the ER. Here’s what it looks like this morning.


Yes, it’s my right hand, and yes, I’m very right hand dominant. I’m not much of a one-hand typist, either.

To add insult to injury, our trip to Spain is postponed for the time being. We may try to reschedule for the fall, but the surgeon didn’t think leaving the country for three weeks was a very good idea. It’s a good thing I have lots of audio books on my Ipod.

Oh yes, though I broke the wine glass, I did manage to save the bottle of wine. I have my priorities, after all.

Still More Rogue

I finished the body of the Rogue sweater last night. I have a question for anybody who has made this sweater. What’s with the lone stitch on a holder at the front of the v-neck? I was just going to knit it together with the next stitch on one side, but I figured there must be some reason for this. The directions say to keep it on a holder till you are doing the finishing, then tack it down in the back. Hmmm. I am to the point of picking up all the stitches around the neckline to start the hood. I am also assuming that you need to pick up the wraps that are done on the throat cabling shaping, though it doesn’t specify this in the pattern. There is a lot of cabling on that hood, is all I have to say.

We leave for vacation in a week, and I probably won’t get much knitting done in the meantime, so I’m trying to decide whether to pack this along or not. I doubt that I’ll finish the hood before we go, and it is pretty bulky for travelling purposes. Bummer. I really want to finish this soon. Maybe I’ll just put the hood on a holder and start a sleeve…that won’t weigh so much.

We are going to Spain for about two weeks, and part of the trip involves train travel, so we’re planning (hoping) to travel light. Actually my husband is planning to travel light. Travelling light to me means only one steamer trunk. I start out packing with good intentions, and by the time we’re ready to leave I have everything I own in bags by the door. I’m already negotiating to purchase part of his suitcase space allottment.

Here are pictures of the Rogue progress.


That throat bit is actually a split v-neck, though the picture doesn’t show it well. The markers are on those wrapped stitches so I don’t forget about them.


The pattern also called for short row shaping on the shoulders, which I’ve done before. But then she has you bind off the shoulder stitches and seam them later instead of doing a three needle bind off. I did it the way the pattern is written as I thought that there might be some reason for this, but I believe you could do a three needle bind off easily without changing anything.

Last but not least, here is a gratuitous dog picture for your amusement. We all went to the park again yesterday. Daisie’s ears just make me laugh.


The Book Thing

The Rock Chick tagged me to do this one. Hoo-ray! The only thing I like to collect more than yarn and knitting gadgets is books, books and more books. I can’t pass a bookshop without falling in, then stumbling out hours later with my arms loaded down.  One of these days the ceiling of the dining room is going to collapse from the sheer weight of all the books in the loft above. At least when that happens I won’t have to get up from dinner to get a book to read with my tea.

Last book read: Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, for the Knit One, Read Too group.

Where it came from: Amazon

Books read per year: It’s hard to know.  I usually have multiple books going at any one time, so it’s hard to keep track. I sometimes dip in and out of books; read part, move to something else, especially with non-fiction. I also listen to books on my Ipod. Probably in the 15-25 range, not counting medical reading.

Favorite genre: That’s a little like asking a parent which one is their favorite of their children. In fiction, I like the obvious: memorable characters, difficult situations, great scene descriptions. But I love writers who are able to do this in a fresh way; who write the kind of scenes that make you stop and re-read, and go back even years later to find just that perfect passage that brought a character or place alive. In non-fiction I am a sucker for history books. I’m not much into traditional romance novels or spy stories. Or horror. I can live without Stephen King quite happily.

Five favorite books: This is another difficult one. It shifts with time and life-changes. Only five??

Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin. I keep buying this book and giving it away to people to read; I’m like an evangelist coming to your door pushing religious tracts with this one.

Undaunted Courage; Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose. This is the story of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, but told in a way that makes you feel like a part of the adventure, except no bugs and sand in your food.

Young Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean. Though the subject matter is depressing (the Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949 that killed thirteen smoke jumpers), this is written in such a riveting fashion that you can’t put it down. It’s even more eerie when you hike up to the site of the fire after reading the book. Maclean also wrote A River Runs Through It.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. I love everything she has written, but this is my favorite.

Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner. Anything of his could be on this list.

The Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett. Now this is really cheating. Not only is this number six, it’s actually a series of six books. If you like historical fiction, pick up the first of these novels and settle in for the winter. Or summer, whatever. These books have adventure, romance, history, great characters, and are whole flights of stairs above what passes for historical romance by most writers. Maddeningly addicting!

Who’s tagged now?
Laurie, Kristen, Kerstin and Margene. Just because I don’t think they’ve been tagged, and I want to see what they’re reading!

Lavender Sweater


Started: September 04
Finished: January 05
Yarn: Elann Sonata, 100% mercerized cotton
Pattern: cardigan pattern created with Sweater Wizard software
Edging on cuffs and bottom from Knitting on the Edge, by Nicky Epstein

What I learned:
This was the first big thing I designed with Sweater Wizard. This is a nice software package, and the software developer has a Yahoo group with excellent support. I will definitely make other sweaters with this.

This was a relatively easy sweater to knit. The lace on the cuffs rolls a bit, and because it’s cotton it doesn’t hold the shape when blocked very well. With some serious steaming before wearing, it behaves relatively well. Next time I put a lace border on something I’ll experiment a bit first to find a lace pattern that stays flat.

One of the nice things about a blog is that you can keep track of your projects as you go along. One of the bad things about a blog is that everyone else can keep track of your projects as well, and they know full well that it takes you four months to knit a freaking sweater that has little shaping and is mostly stockinette stitch. It’s the process, it’s the process.

More Rogue

I’m back from the land of bluegrass. Wintergrass this year was wonderful, as usual. It was capped off by a truly marvelous performance by the Bluebirds as the closing act. The Bluebirds are Linda Ronstadt, Laurie Lewis, and Maria Muldaur, in their first and perhaps only performance. They packed the Pavilion at the Sheraton, and for good reason. I only hope that somebody thought to record it for a future CD.

The top name acts were wonderful as usual. There are always one or two bands that I haven’t heard of that turn out to be fantastic. This year it was the Grascals, and the Wilders. You can see the Wilders live over the internet…click on the “listen” link, and then the video link. They really do have that much energy in person. Both were dynamite groups, and I will look for them again. I’m already ready to get my tickets for next year!

The hours spent at the festival made for some good knitting time. I worked a little bit on John’s sock, but mostly on Rogue. Other than the cable bits, this made for good concert knitting. I finished the back last night, and am ready to work on the front.


Here is a photo of the cable detail up the side.


I’m a bit nervous about doing the front with the throat cabling extending into the hood, but will forge ahead. So far this pattern has had very explicit instructions, so I have no reason to believe that this won’t be the case for the next section.

In my blog travels this morning, I found two links that amused me. Of course it doesn’t take much to amuse me. They are both from Smatterings, a relatively new knitting blog. Check it out!

The first is the Numa Numa video. (Click on the “watch this movie” link on the right side of the screen.) I’m probably the last person in Internet-land to have seen this.

The second link is a medical one. Don’t try these things at home.


Tacoma has an annual bluegrass festival that I haven’t missed since moving here. Much to my spouse’s chagrin, I buy festival passes for every last day of it as soon as they go on sale. His musical taste, though somewhat eclectic, runs more to what I would call “music to drool by”. (Sorry dear, it’s true.) Wintergrass starts tonight, goes tomorrow night, Saturday from about noon to midnight or whenever, then Sunday all day. I get totally bluegrassed out, even for me. I have the pocket schedule printed out from their website, and have my game plan in place. I have my bluegrass knitting picked out. I have a sock in progress, but also that King Cole Mohair stole, which I’m doing in just plain garter stitch. The last time I tried knitting a sock at Wintergrass my gauge changed a bunch. Must have been the exciting music.

Here are my favorite artists from past Wintergrass festivals:

Country Current; the Navy Bluegrass Band. The Navy only hires the best, and these guys are no exception. I will travel long distances to see these guys. Keith Arneson is the best banjo player around.
Reeltime Travelers; back again this year.
Robin and Linda Williams; folk/bluegrass, great vocal harmonies.
Doyle Lawson and his band. Pretty much straight ahead bluegrass, but a lot of fun in person.
Rhonda Vincent; supposed to be back again this year, but cancelled due to illness.
Old & In the Way, minus Jerry, of course.
Blue Highway; their dobro player Rob Ickes is one of the best
Darol Anger, one of the world’s more innovative fiddlers.
Dry Branch Fire Squad; traditional Appalachain style bluegrass, the lead singer is a hoot.
Misty River, a local Portland based girl group. With an accordion, no less. Back this year.
Seldom Scene, back again this year.
Tim O’Brien; one of the best all around musicians I’ve seen.
Waybacks; play jamgrass that is definitely NOT traditional.

Besides the folks on that list that are  back this year, I’m looking forward to David Grisman, Tony Rice, and the Bluebirds (Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, and Laurie Lewis). But it frequently turns out to be the groups I’ve never heard of that I love the best. If you haven’t already got your tickets, you are out of luck. Weekend passes, and Saturday and Sunday are sold out. Come next year, and buy early!!

I’ll be back later, if I don’t run off with the banjo player.

Grandpa Tony

I’ve gotten several comments on my chair photo from yesterday. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, as he died a few years before I was born. He was from all accounts quite a character, however. My mother gave me that chair one time when I was home visiting after I had gotten out of school and finally had a home of my own. We had an old Subaru station wagon at the time, and the thing barely wedged into the back end, but we drove across a couple of states with it to get it home. I have a framed photo of my Grandpa Tony; this was when he was quite young, probably early 20’s, if that.


Doesn’t he look like he owns the world?

He emigrated from Poland just before the turn of the century (the last one, not this one!), when he was barely 13. His older sister, Agnes, had been the first to arrive in the US, two years  before my grandfather. She came over at age 22 to be a housekeeper in North Dakota for someone that somebody in the family knew. She worked and saved money, and eventually brought the rest of the family over (and married the man!). Grandpa settled first in South Dakota for a short time, which is where this photo was taken. He was a bachelor at the time, and eventually married my grandmother and homesteaded land in North Dakota, where he farmed and raised 8 children. My parents moved back to the farm when my grandfather was dying so my mom could help take care of him, and just stayed on.

Here is a photo of Great-Aunt Agnes in her heyday.


I covet that hat more than I can say. Apparently she had quite a collection of hats, but unfortunately nobody thought to save them when she died.

One of my favorite songs is Emigrant Eyes, by Dolores Keane. It never fails to make me cry. In it, she sings about her “father’s own father” emigrating to the US from Ireland at the turn of the century, arriving at Ellis Island in a swarm of other Europeans, “decked out in the colors of Europe…turn of the century pilgrims… bound by the dream that they shared”.

“Through this sprawling tower of Babel, came a young man confused and alone. Determined and bound for America; carrying everything that he owned. Sometimes when I look in my grandfather’s emigrant eyes, I see that day reflected; I can’t hold my feelings inside. I see starting with nothing, and working hard all of his life. So don’t take it for granted, say Grandfather’s emigrant eyes.”

This is on her Solid Ground album. Give it a listen if you’ve never heard of her. I keep Grandpa Tony’s photo on my wall to remind me where I came from, and not to take any of it for granted.