Stasia's Place Of Grace


Saturday, August 10, 2002

Thankful To Live In An Ethnically-Diverse City

Okay, so, maybe the place where I live isn't all that ethnically-diverse. I mean, out here where I live, everybody is Caucasian, and most everybody is Lutheran. I'm definitely the only Buddhist on the block. But I'm grateful that we don't live all that far from Milwaukee, a city known for its ethnic festivals and ethnic neighborhoods!

Today we took a trip to our favorite market - A & J Polish Deli on 12th and Lincoln. This deli is authentic - whenever we go, neither the customers nor the staff are speaking in English. They are able to speak English with us, but just barely, and most of our ordering is done with a lot of pantomiming and smiling. The little, old Polish ladies, always arriving early on Saturdays, will shove you out of the way good-naturedly, as they would in "the old country," and then, their order safely placed after they've received a slice of meat to sample first, they'll turn and smile at you. They can afford to be friendly now that they've had first choice of the best cuts. You wait for them to reach out and pinch your cheek...

What, I ask you, is interesting about supermarkets with computerized checkouts, and bored employees who mumble, "Have a nice day," with no inflection, their glazed eyes already looking towards the next customer? It is so much more fun to go to a small shop where the owner works along with his wife and relatives; where they all look you in the eye and give you a genuine smile and a nod, even if they don't speak your language; where the prices are written in pencil on white butcher's paper; and where the food is as unique as the people. Sometimes it is good to step outside one's comfort zone - whether tasting a new food, or shopping in an ethnic neighborhood, or meeting someone from a different country - to broaden one's horizons.

Unfortunately, now that the folks at the Polish deli have become old friends, the only thing that's currently being broadened are my hips!

A&J Polish Deli
1215 W. Lincoln Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53215
Gift certificates available - they have the BEST pierogies!

The usual long lines on Saturday morning. Everyone is speaking in Polish or Russian. By afternoon, the sausages on the wall will all be sold.

Yummy sausages, pork loin, ham.

Strange delights like head cheese...

The girls slice the meat while chocolate-covered gingerbread and other goodies tempt us from the countertop.

What Else I Did Today

After the trip to the deli, I...

  • Knit on the Lorna's Laces "Vera" socks (actually in the van on the way to the deli).
  • Visited Jeff's grandfather and brought him some chocolate and sausage. We got him a cordless phone and an answering machine, as now he's in a wheelchair with a broken ankle and can't get to the phone quickly. He was happy and said it was, " Christmas!"
  • Helped Jeff clip the dogs' coats and their toenails. The toenails look good, but their haircuts are truly awful. I'm hoping it'll all grow back by fall. They look so tiny without their curls and fuzz!
  • Clipped my angora rabbit, Sophie. I was too tired to finish and Sophie was too crabby. Will do more in a couple of days.
  • Ate zakuski - that's Russian for a kind of dinner that's made up of little appetizers - smoked sausage and gypsy ham, fresh tomatoes and a veggie salad, a sourdough baguette.
  • Looked at my Gem. Too tired to spin. That's ok, I like looking at it.

I'm exhausted - this was a lot in one day for me and my body is complaining. So it's off to bed, with visions of making better knitting and spinning progress tomorrow, as Jeff is pushing for his Qiviut/Navajo-Churro/Bison Down hunting socks, the yarn for which has yet to be spun. I have finished the Regia socks but just need to weave in the ends... hope to have a photo for you tomorrow.

Good night!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Friday, August 09, 2002

Thankful For Some Little Things

Today I am grateful that Spray'N'Wash Stain Stick got out the bike grease I'd gotten on my biking outfit yesterday. Having clean laundry is like starting with a clean slate every day. Stain Stick gets out just about anything!

Jeff teases me that I "need" every accessory for whatever I'm undertaking - biking, spinning, meditating, etc. But I really feel that the proper tools encourage and inspire me to do my best. Having a bright and comfortable outfit to put on when exercising is something that makes me keep at it... and I'll take whatever help and motivation I can get! (Maybe Belleruth should do an exercise motivation CD?) Plus I feel guilty if I spend money on something and then don't use it. I either need to pass it on to someone who will use it, or get off my patootie and use it myself!

I am grateful for rechargeable batteries. I was reminded of that last night while listening to Belleruth's FMS cassette in my Walkman. I like the freedom from cords and the lower impact on the environment. They're worth the extra cost.

I am thankful for the smell of a roast "beast" in the slow cooker today. It is permeating the house. I'm cooking it with salt, pepper, and garlic and it's becoming intoxicating! We intend to shred it up later to make burritos. But, knowing us, we'll just stand there at the counter and eat the meet as we shred it. It's that good - wonderfully tender. I am not a big meat eater, but once in a while I do love an all-natural, free-range beef (or bison) pot roast. My body is craving it - must be the biking - so I will listen to that.

I am thankful that I didn't let my day fall apart after it didn't start off too well. It used to be that I'd chalk a day up to being a "failure" and mope around for the rest of it, beginning anew the next day. But now I can give myself permission to not achieve all I'd set out to do, especially when circumstances intervene. I just stop, take a breath, rearrange my goals, and start over right then. I don't push myself so hard. I listen to where the Day wants to take me instead.

I am thankful for this little fellow who visited my yard this morning! Enjoy!

Tiger Swallowtail, Pterourus glaucus

Tiger Swallowtail, Honeybee on Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)

Animal Breed Zip Code
Late Night Gratitude

Tonight I am grateful for...

Tracy's Blog This is a wonderful journal of spinning and knitting in progress by a great gal. I am in awe of her Blogging and goal-setting abilities! Her site has really motivated me. I stayed off the computer for most of the day (unfortunately spent most of it sleeping) but now I must check Tracy's page out in more depth! Thanks, Tracy!

Biking with Dianna I had a lunch of Indian food, after which I succumbed to what Jeff called "curry euphoria" and I ended up napping for the afternoon. I think a fibro-flare is on the horizon, but I'm covering my ears and not listening to it's nagging whisper! I didn't want to go riding, and felt a horrible lethargy and was grumpy. But I put on my "sausage casing pantaloons" and stuck my bike on the van's carrier, and Di and I were off for a ride on the resurfaced, unused railroad grade which goes through the woods, past ponds, and over rivers.

We were rewarded with a view of a literal pile of teenage ducks in a pond, all feathered and almost full-size, but still too young to leave the overcrowded nest, which they completely covered. This trail is really special, as few roads cross it but it crosses several scenic, miniature, wooden bridges. We passed cattails, stands of Birch and Larch, shaded spots canopied by trees, and open areas bordering grasslands. Very few buildings are visible from this path. It passes through a lovely park, and ends in the little town of Merton, at the Merton Mill Pond which has a very small waterfall next to an antiques shop. The scenery alone is enough to make me put on those padded pantaloons.

I got another bug in my eye, but the adrenaline and endorphins kicked in and kicked my lethargy's butt! Of course, I'm still up at 12:16 a.m., but... what else is new? I rode eleven miles, in about an hour... it was all flat but was still a good workout. And workouts make me less prone to pain the next day. Yay! I'm doin' it! I will not let FMS keep me down, even if I have to spend all my time doing what's necessary to control it.

Belleruth Naparstek Belleruth creates these fantastic guided imagery tapes. She has a new one out for FMS/Chronic Fatigue and it's wonderful. I'm going to listen to it tonight and tomorrow, so I can nip this flare in the bud before it hits. At the least, that'll minimize it if it does arrive. At best, it (and my biking) may prevent it completely, and I'll only need a few days of reduced activity and rest, instead of suffering a week or more without being able to function.

Belleruth is a wonderful person and recently donated free CDs for a giveaway for the FibroKnitters Yahoo! Group. She has recordings for many illnesses, for general health, and for stress reduction. I can't recommend them, or thank her, strongly enough.

Fiber Arts Today I spun a bit on the new Gem. I think we're going to be great friends! My Maine Coon kitty, Abby Tabby, sat on my lap and we had a nice cuddle and chat while the wheel whirred. After my bike ride, Jeff and I watched a bit of the "Lord Of The Rings" DVD's special features, and I knit on my Regia Jacquard socks in progress (photo below... no, lower than that.) The first sock is ready for the ribbing, and this one is catching up fast. They should be completed by tomorrow... then just two pair of socks in progress left to complete, and then my gray cable sweater, and then spinning yarn for, and knitting up, Jeff's socks... and then I can tackle the "one project at a time" goal and start making a dent in my stash!

Chi I am also grateful for the Chi Essentials kit from Gaiam. I know of nothing better for alleviating pain and for balancing my mind, body and soul than the self-massage-by-exercise that these videos help me achieve. If you are hitting "overwhelm", give these a try. They will get your body and soul aligned.

You Thank you for visiting! Please sign my Tag Board - when they get it working again, that is.

Have a lovely Friday! Don't put off until tomorrow what you can enjoy today!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Thursday, August 08, 2002


Up late, as usual. I'm vowing to stay off the computer tomorrow, as I'm achy from using it too much today. I thought that leaving Spindlers would give me more time, but it's getting used up getting caught up on things that fell by the wayside because of Spindlers!

For my health and sanity, no computer tomorrow! So I'll update now, before I go to bed.

I am grateful for abundance in my life. Jeff made a delicious meal for me tonight. At first, I turned up my nose at having fish for dinner. But then I realized how many people there are in the world who would give anything to haveany fish for dinner - let alone fresh fish expertly prepared by Jeff.

Poached golden Tilapia with fresh parsley and red onions; sauteed leeks in heavy cream; fried zucchini with onions... all organic. Gundlach Bundschu Gewertzraminer wine.

It was an amazing dinner. And it made me ashamed to think about how much I take for granted - that I would have thought to prefer something else than fabulous food prepared lovingly for me.

So I am going to be more mindful of the abundance in my life. I will appreciate the healthy, organic veggies we get from our farm subscription, and not tell Jeff I'd rather have a cheeseburger. I will be thankful for the fact that I have a computer, which allows me to connect with others now that my social life is restricted by my abilities, and not complain that it makes my wrists hurt.

I have so much that I often forget to appreciate it. I appreciate that I am reminded to be appreciative! Bon appetit!

Animal Breed Zip Code

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

New Arrivals

I was going to wait until tomorrow to share these, but I'm too excited! I received a couple deliveries today and they're really neat!

My Knit Knack Sack In Red Chenille

This is a Knit Knack Sack from Nancy's Knit Knacks. I can now knit while out and about! I can wear it around my waist or hanging from my shoulder. (I could wear it looped over my head and across my chest and side, but it's kind of tight that way. They do make them with extra long bands if required.)

Inside, there are holders for circular needles and for two complete sets of double-pointed needles. There is a little loop with a snap closure, so that you can run your working yarn up through it and out the top of the sack, so it doesn't get tangled inside. It is big enough for socks, mittens, a hat, a scarf, or even a piece of a flat-knit sweater. The fabric is simply luxurious, and the sack is very well-made.

There's even a little ring attached to the outside, from which you could hang your keys. It comes with a Knit-Card attached - they're little, laminated "cheat sheets" for various techniques, and are also available at the site.

Now I'm all set to knit while touring an art museum or the zoo; walking in the park; in a restaurant or in the car. I don't go out often, but when I do, I'll be prepared!

I love my Knit Knack Sack! The service was great - really fast. Thanks, Nancy!

Here is my other new arrival!

Majacraft Gem Spinning Wheel With Chester Wussow.
Carrying sack to right of speaker.

My Majacraft Gem, which I purchased from Uncommon Threads, was dropshipped to me from New Zealand and arrived today, just a couple weeks after I'd ordered it. This was a big surprise, as I didn't expect it for four to six weeks!

The wheel is adorable. I chose it because I have difficulty using an orifice hook and changing the yarn in the flyer hooks on my other spinning wheels. I also liked that it weighs only 10 pounds and has a carrying sack that apparently can fit in the overhead bin of an airplane (look out Grafton Fibers Spin-In, March 22, 2003 - here I come!) It's also very easy to treadle, and spins very quickly having an accelerated drive set-up.

Some spinning friends have expressed worry that the head would be too low for them. I like to spin with my arms in a very relaxed position, and I use the long draw. I don't like to hold my hands up in front of my nose while I'm spinning. So though I'm 5' 7", this wheel is an excellent height for me! It's also great if you don't have a special spinning chair - if you like to spin in a recliner, on a futon, or in a rocking chair - anything with a lower seat... like the folding chairs one finds so often at guild meetings or spin-ins.

It came all finished, and requires only a very little, very easy assembly to get it up and running from its collapsed position in its carrier - I didn't even need the instructions (though I checked them over when I was through). And the tensioned Lazy Kate (purchased separately) is the best I've seen.

Thanks, Rosemary!

Animal Breed Zip Code
To Quote...

I have come across several quotes that touched my heart recently. I'd like to share them with you.

"If we compare the mental and physical levels of happiness, we find that the experiences of pain and pleasure that take place mentally are actually more powerful. For example, though we may find ourselves in a very pleasant environment, if we are mentally depresseed or if something is causing us profound concern, we will hardly notice our surroundings. On the other hand, if we have inner, mental happiness, we find it easier to face our challenges or other adversity. This suggests that our experiences of pain and pleasure at the level of our thoughts and emotions are more powerful than those felt on a physical level."

    ~ His Holiness The Dalai Lama

This quote reminded me of how I am learning to ignore the physical pain of necessary exercise, by living in the moment and noticing my surroundings as I bike.

I like the Dalai Lama. He's cute. His smile is completely infectious.

"...[T]he conditions for peace and happiness are already present. When we walk mindfully and touch the Earth with our feet, when we drink tea with friends and touch the tea and our friendship, we get healed, and we can bring this healing to society. The more we have suffered in the past, the stronger a healer we can become. We can learn to transform our suffering into the kind of insight that will help our friends and society."

    ~Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh

I like that one, too. It makes me feel like there is a reason for the hardships we endure in life. We take our pain and put it to use. That's better than being overwhelmed by it.

My wise friend Linda says we choose our parents, our life lessons, our experiences, so that we can grow and evolve over many lifetimes. I hope that by choosing to use my experiences for the good of others, and to learn from them rather than succumbing to their sorrow, I am growing like a good "Human Bean," as Kary would call me!

Here is a cute one: "Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

And here's a new favorite: "The most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind and washed by the waters and polished to brilliance by Life's strongest storms." I must be pretty darned sparkly by now, if that's the case!

This one is nice for when I either feel like I know it all and need a reminder that I don't, or when I feel insecure about not knowing it all. It's a good reminder about not worrying, and just being:

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

    ~ Artist Vincent van Gogh

This most beautiful quote came not from a human, but from Nature:

Click Here

~ Katydids, The Wussow Yard
You'll need QuickTime to play it in its new window.

Sometimes it is easier to memorize the quote of another, rather than coming up with your own words to live by. I encourage you to find the words that embody your particular outlook on life... because your words are just as important as anyone else's!

What is your quote?

Animal Breed Zip Code

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I thought that maybe you'd like to see me. Here I am, in a Klaudette the Knotty Sheep hat by Kary Miksis.

Kary is a wonderfully creative and inspiring person. I'm so glad to have her for a friend! (I'm so glad to have a Klaudette cap, because some days I'd rather get out and enjoy the sunshine and blue skies than worry about washing my hair!)

Animal Breed Zip Code
Blue Skies

"Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long."

~ Words and music by Irving Berlin

Today I'm grateful for the bluest of blue skies! The temperature was about 68 degrees, with 44% humidity, and some fresh, northeast winds blew the puffy clouds about. Perfection! What a glorious, energy-giving day!

There's a hint of fall in the air, as the apples are beginning to ripen in the orchard. Some leaves on the Hawthorn tree are starting to change color and even fall to the ground, crisping as I step on them.

These are no longer the humid, lazy days of summer. The sun slants from the south, casting long shadows on the seeding grasses in the field. The wind now feels cool, raising goosebumps on my arms and making me long for a flannel shirt. The birds and animals and insects notice the change - the fullness of the harvest about to arrive, the warning to prepare for the coolness that's coming - and they hurry about with renewed vigor.

Shops are full of school supplies, and warm cider with cinnamon is starting to sound really good!

Today I bring you blue skies as seen from my cedar-shaded deck, on which tonight I'll make a litttle fire in the firepit and sip some warm cider. I'll take a last, long look at the fireflies flitting, as I'm serenaded by those last few katydids who have not yet found their true love...

Animal Breed Zip Code

Monday, August 05, 2002

Doing Things By Heart


I forgot to mention yesterday that the socks I'm working on are the first ones I've knit by heart, without having to refer to my pattern, which is found here.

I'm really excited about this, because it means I can:

  • Knit wherever I may find myself, as long as I have needles and yarn, or a place to purchase them.
  • Knit socks for folks I may meet, or folks back at home, knowing only their shoe size.
  • Knit when I am old and gray and blind and in a nursing home.
  • Knit under times of severe stress, to relax myself, without getting bogged down with instructions.
  • Knit at Starbucks without being too obvious.
  • Knit in the car with no obvious place to set a pattern sheet.


Today I signed off as ListMom of the Spindlers Yahoo! discussion group.

I created the group 17 months ago. It has grown to 700 members, with a full volunteer staff of people who dedicate a lot of time to running it. (Theresa, over there in my messages box, is one of the wonderful helpers! XOX Theresa!)

Spindlers has contests, events, and volunteer projects. It has a sub-group, the FiberFairies, which sends stuff to needy or deserving members. It has lots of vendors who are featured on the List in return for offering members prizes or discounts. It was a LOT of work for me to lead.

In one day, I'd get messages from members saying, "Thanks so much for the List! It is like a family and it means the world to me!" to others that said, "You suck, your rules suck, and I'm outta' here!" I'd get compliments on my diplomatic handling of problems, and five minutes later I'd get messages calling my corrective measures "flames" (usually when the person being corrected was receiving a reprimand for flaming on the List).

I like to think I gave the project the best of what was in my heart. It makes my heart sing to know that the group helped a small farmer whose barn burned down, by sending their family generous financial donations... that we helped disadvantaged members learn to spin by sending them free supplies... that we put socks made of handspun yarn on the feet of orphans, and hats made of handspun yarn on the heads of U.S. veterans... that we congratulated members on significant achievements by sending them what they loved most - a new handspindle! And I love that we created a safe place and a family of support for people who didn't have either.

I'd wanted to "retire" a month ago but Nan, the new and wonderful ListMom, was in the process of moving, so I couldn't. Unfortunately, the last few weeks were spent dealing with a few unkind people, and a couple of problems I didn't need, healthwise, to have to handle. I could've dealt with things better, I know... but I was tired. In the future, I'll listen to my heart when it tells me, "Your time here has ended," and I'll get a substitute to take my place if necessary.

Though it's weary, my heart rejoices that Spirit inspired me to create Spindlers, and that some people were helped because it existed.


I haven't spoken to my parents in... well, longer than the past two Christmases, I know that. And they have made little effort to contact me. Trying to deal with people who aren't well was making me unwell. A therapist "gave me permission" to allow myself not to feel guilty for not wanting them in my life anymore, and I began to make great strides forward in terms of achieving happiness in life.

My mother is now attempting to contact me. She left a letter in my mailbox, driving it up here instead of mailing it, and then calling afterwards to tell me it was there. Then she e-mailed, asking if we could get together.

My heart is telling me, "Look at how you feel before you decide what to do. You are full of anxiety again, just thinking about having to deal with her. You are stressed, knowing she was driving past your house and thinking of how you would have reacted had you run into her on the street. You are not happy. You have no evidence that she has changed, and judging from her letter, she hasn't."

Do I miss things about her? Well, yes, I miss the parties she would have where my husband and I would have great conversations with very interesting, artistic and multicultural folks... but good cocktail parties are hardly a sound reason to spend time with someone who makes you feel like a slug, and a dried out slug on a hot sidewalk at that.

I think I'll "do this by heart," too. You can forgive, and you can try to forget, but that doesn't mean you have to dive right into the whirlpool again.

The heart is wise. It can memorize, it can rejoice, and it can protect you when you are quiet and take the time to listen to it. I hope you will live your life by heart.

Animal Breed Zip Code

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Jobs Well Done

This evening, ignoring overcast skies, I biked 6.08 miles. My average speed was 10.6 mph, and my fastest speed (downhill, of course!) was 23 mph. It took me 34:08 minutes.

Considering that two years ago I couldn't stand up, and that this past April I ended up in the ER after a serious motorcycle accident, I think this is pretty good!

I have been biking for about a month, and it is one exercise which doesn't cause me so much pain that I have to stop doing it. This does not mean that it doesn't hurt (especially when a bug flew into my eye tonight.) But I am learning to ignore the pain and "sweat out my demons."

I biked around Lake Five. I have no idea where Lakes One through Four are, but Lake Five is about a mile down the road, past a little farm that has one horse, who just had a foal. He was grazing beside his mother in the pasture as I biked past. They are both Palominos and are a lovely golden color, with pale manes and tails. Seeing them was one of my rewards for ignoring pain.

There is something one notices while biking up hills and having to go slowly - the sounds. The wind isn't rushing past you, so you can hear the wrens warbling their evensong while hidden in the trees... the "sskkkkkkkrt-chk-chk-chk-chk-chk" of a lawn sprinkler that sprays you as you hurriedly pump your legs while in the lowest gear, getting nowhere fast... the chirp of the crickets in the damp, leafy forest litter.

And the smell... the immediately-recognizable scent of a fresh, inland lake - a combination of eau de worm and moss - is gulped thirstily by aching, straining lungs. These, too, are gifts in exchange for putting the pain out of one's mind. They make it easier.

Today was an extremely lazy day for us. I wasted most of it. (Well, not wasted, but I constantly felt like I needed to be doing something, yet didn't have the energy to attempt much.) But at 7 p.m., I installed my new bike computer, and went out to give it a test run. I'm proud that I turned my lethargy around.

Socks in Lorna's Laces "Vera"; Regia Jacquard "#5270"

I am also proud that in the last 24 hours, I turned four sock heels. I am working to get caught up on my knitting- and spinning-in-progress, and to thereafter limit myself to a single project at a time. I hope that by concentrating my efforts in a single area, I will remain more focused, less pressured, and gain a greater feeling of accomplishment by finishing creations more quickly.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

Today I didn't do much, but I did do these things, and for that I'm grateful.

Animal Breed Zip Code

Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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