March 21, 2012


Nine Buttons

Nine years ago today, I started blogging. In those many years I’ve ebbed and flowed with my words and images, sometimes feeling more inspired than others. One thing that has remained constant is how blogging has given me a reason to write, goaded and stretched and reminded me of the art of composing words. When I started, blogging was so trendy, so cutting-edge, now it is seen by many as washed-up, too wordy and something undertaken by women with cats. Others have moved on to twitter or tumblr or even solely facebook.

The beauty of my personal blog is that it lives on my domain, on a site I created and designed. It isn’t hosted by a company that wants to sell ads to my friends. There is no hidden agenda of commerce here. I create and own the content, the site, the space and I keep it open for anyone who wants to stop in. I guess that is a little old-school.

After all these years, I continue to be surprised and flattered when various friends mention something from these pages. It is a true compliment to have readers. Thank you.

2012 Music Count
March: Caravan of Thieves and David Wax Museum at High Noon
March Bonus: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at Wisconsin Union Theater
February: Ghost Town Council at High Noon
January: Polica at High Noon, part of the FRZN Festival

March 12, 2012

The Trouble with Stuff

Books to go

Since meeting SB, I’ve moved six times, twice across the country and five of those times after we combined our household stuff. Through every move I’ve thought about the volume and weight of all this stuff. Every time we set up house in a new place, I’m faced once more with organizing, sorting and storing.

At every move we’ve left stuff on the curb, thrown things away and donated select items, but there continue to be those things that while no longer needed, seem to have some value. As I try to become more frugal, thrifty and organized, I decided that I needed to start selling some of this “valuable” stuff. After sitting on this idea for a year and researching the many options for liquidation, I started to sell late last fall.

My stuff to sell fell into two categories, books and objects. For the books I first sorted all my books into piles based on the average used book price on Amazon. The books that sold for $1 or less, I boxed up and took to a local used bookstore. There I made around $6 for most of the books. Those that the bookstore wouldn’t take I dropped off at a local library branch. Public libraries re-sell used books and also sell bulk paper for recycling, so even if the books are not worth anything, the library can still make a little money on the paper.

For the books that sold for more than $1, I created a sellers account on Amazon. So far I’ve only listed a few, see my storefront, and sold one for a profit of $10. The books in the photo above still need to be listed on Amazon. My plan is to let them sit on Amazon for a while and then downgrade them to the used bookstore and then the library.

The objects came in three categories, large tools, kitchen gadgets and light fixtures. The light fixtures came from our house in Atlanta and our house here in Madison, where we replaced these lights with ceiling-fans or more modern fixtures. Rather than try to sell the fixtures, I decided to donate them to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I was able to claim the donation on my taxes and also give back to group that has helped us out with some great home deals.

The kitchen gadgets came out of the final stages of combining households. We still had some multiples of certain things and they simply did not fit in our small kitchen. These things I donated to Goodwill for a small tax write-off.

Finally, for the large, more valuable items, tools and appliances, I created a re-seller blog, for photographs and longer descriptions. Then I created a sellers account on craigslist and posted the items there. This has generated the most income and also helped me set-up and organize my wood shop.

Selling the books has been the most difficult part of the liquidation. The books I want to get rid of still hold more personal value than monetary value, so off-loading them for little money is hard. However, having them sit around in boxes or on shelves, just taking up space doesn’t make sense either. I guess it is time to add more books to my Amazon store.

March 6, 2012


Retro Mod Cardi

Since I started crocheting and then knitting, I’ve completed five sweaters. The first sweater was too big (no photos taken), the second sweater was too small. Then I learned how to create a swatch and test my gauge. The tricky thing with knitting clothes, that need to be a certain size, is that there are three factors that can greatly change the size of a stitch. The first is the size of the strand of yarn. Yarn comes in “standard” sizes the same way that women’s clothes do, which is to say, broad estimates of size, but a huge range within each estimate. The second factor is the size of the needle. Needle sizes are more standard than yarn sizes, but different needle lines will vary. Finally, and most varied, is the tension of the yarn. Tension is solely determined by the individual knitter. The more you knit, the more you learn what type of knitter you are from loose to tight. Also, depending on your mood, the time of day and where you are knitting, your own tension can change.

With these three factors, it is amazing that it is even possible to make something in a certain size. When someone designs a knitting pattern they are using a specific yarn, a specific needle and they themselves are holding the yarn at their own tension. Knitting a test swatch helps to determine if the instructions in the knitting pattern will match-up with the knitting size you are creating. I still don’t really like to swatch, but swatching is the reason I’ve had sweater success.

I finished my first, well fitting sweater about a year ago, just in time for our trip to Europe. Here I am wearing it in Paris. The yarn came from a local yarn producer and the sweater has a hood.

Central Park Hoodie

This fall I finished my second, well fitting sweater. This time I used more mass produced yarn. It has a large collar and fun textured knit work.

Jacket Cardi

Finally, I recently completed the more modern sweater pictured at the top of the post. This pattern reminds me of something you could buy at H&M, only nicer. The buttons run at a diagonal and it has a massive collar. Again, I used a more mass produced yarn.

Now I feel like I’m on a sweater roll. Next up I’m working on a summer weight sweater to wear with summer dresses. Ah summer dresses. I can’t wait!

  • Eating salted avocados with a spoon in Madison.
  • Blogging since 2003.