3KCBWDAY4- Keeping The Cactus Warm

I’m going to be frank with all of you. Its fucking hot here in Arizona. I mean, this is the place Satan goes to for vacation when he wants to get a nice tan. Now, I hear you people on the east coast going, “Hot? You don’t know what hot is. Come here in the summer and see what hot is.” Well, I’ll challenge you in saying that my place is hotter than yours. Where the east coast has the type of hot that leaves your clothes sticking to your skin and enough water dripping off of you that you can actually take a bath in your own sweat, here,  its different.

Want to know what it feels like to live in Arizona during the summer? Here’s how. Go to your oven and turn it to 475 degrees fahrenheit. Wait about 20 minutes. Now open the oven door, stick your head in and take in one deep breath. That, my friends, is how it feels to live in Arizona in the summer. Instead of  ‘sauna’ heat that the east coast experiences, we get what is fondly called a ‘dry heat’. This basically means that instead of stewing in our own juices we shrivel up like pieces of meat that slowly becomes jerky. In fact, you walk around here and see some of the old-timers and you’ll be convinced that their skin has been jerky-rized.

So, why on Earth would someone living in this rotisserie oven ever want to knit? Well, even in the middle of a desert a cactus can still get the chills. Though its home to the fifth largest growing city in the US, Arizona is still a desert and just like any true desert we get the cold frosty nights and the desert monsoons.

But besides the occasional cool weather, there is another reason we desert rats pick up needles and hooks. We enjoy any activity that doesn’t require us to leave our air-conditioned homes. As the temperatures go up, we start going inside. Like our neighbors on the east coast do in the winter, we bunker down for the long hot days ahead. To avoid getting cabin fever, we’ve taken a cue from the early settlers here and we get crafty. Spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet and quilting. If it can be done indoors, we Arizonians are experts at it.

While the tempureture is 115 degrees outside, we’re happy to say that all is cozy and cool as we knit our woolen mittens, wishing blissfully for a  freak snow storm to pass our way.

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Black Girl Picks Cotton

(On an ordinary Saturday afternoon, Liver Chick and Boy Toy are walking the neighborhood, enjoying the wonderful weather in the valley. They suddenly walk by a cotton field close to their home.)

Liver Chick: I should pick some cotton.

Boy Toy: What did you just say?

Liver Chick: I said I should pick some cotton. I want to spin some into yarn. The harvest is over, so what’s left is free for the taking.

(Boy Toy takes Liver Chick by the arm and holds her hand up to her face.)

Boy Toy: Honey, do you see what color you are?

Liver Chick: Yes. I’m black. So?

Boy Toy: Right. Which means you can’t pick cotton.

Liver Chick: Well that’s not fair. It shouldn’t matter what color I am. I’m allowed to pick cotton.

Boy Toy: Yes dear. And I’m sure your ancestors who went through 500 years of slavery being forced to pick cotton would be so proud to see you picking cotton now.

Liver Chick: Just because I’m black doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed to pick cotton.

Boy Toy: I bet there is some confederate slave owner rolling in his grave right now hearing you say that.

Liver Chick: Why should I have to order my cotton from some online company when there is some perfectly good and free cotton right around the corner from my house?

(Boy Toy stops and puts his hands on Liver Chick’s shoulders)

Boy Toy: Honey, you can’t pick cotton. Remember, then whole slavery thing? The civil rights movement? We shall overcome? Free at last, free at last, thank God almight we are free at last? Blacks don’t pick cotton anymore.

Liver Chick: So, if I was any other color but black, I could pick cotton?

Boy Toy: Yes.

Liver Chick: Well that’s just racist.

Boy Toy: I seriously doubt the NAACP would support you in fighting that case. Sorry honey, but you just can’t pick cotton.

Liver Chick: But I want to pick it!  You can just stand here and watch while I pick some.

Boy Toy: Are you crazy!?! Yes honey, let’s have me, the Hitler-baby-looking-white-boy stand here and watch a black girl pick cotton. Every civil rights group will be at our door tomorrow ready to kick my ass. I can see the front page of Yahoo.com now- White man makes his black wife pick cotton, Slavery alive and well in Arizona.

Liver Chick: Just be my look-out. No one will find out. I’ll just take a little. Please honey. Please!

(Boy Toy looks around and checks to make sure no one is looking)

Boy Toy: Okay, pick some quick.

(Liver Chick snatches a few pieces of cotton off the broken cotton plants and admires the pieces in her hands)

Boy Toy: Don’t stop to look at it, hurry up and hide it before someone sees you. I swear woman, if I get lynched for this I’m coming back as a ghost and haunting you.

(Liver Chick gives Boy Toy a hug and a kiss on the lips)

Liver Chick: Thank you honey. I love you.

Boy Toy: Great, when the guys ask me at work what I did this weekend I can tell them I took my wife out cotton picking.

Liver Chick: Just tell then we were roll-playing.

Boy Toy: Oh yes, we like to play slave and master all the time. It really turns my wife on.

Liver Chick: Yeah, we’re kinky like that.

(Liver Chick and Boy Toy continue there walk. Liver Chick makes a mental note to start taking night walks in order to pick more cotton.)

The TNNA is Coming! The TNNA is Coming!!

Yes, The National Needlearts Association, (TNNA), is coming to Phoenix, Arizona!

From January 21st to 23rd, my humble town will be taken over by a swarm of knitters, crocheters and other craft artist as they descend upon the Phoenix Convention Center.

Unfortunately, I am 3 wholesale member letters of introduction away from being able to qualify as a member of the association.  So, even though I’ll be passing by the event on my daily outings, I will not actually be able to attend. (After years of complaining that knitting events never come to my town, one is finally here and I can’t go. The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife.)

But I’ve got TNNA spirit and I feel the it is my duty as a local knitter to welcome all of you who will be attending the TNNA convention here in Phoenix.

Survey says that there are only two things that knitters and crocheters love more than crafting and that is eating and drinking. So, I’ll be dedicating the next few blog posts to highlighting some of the places to eat and drink while in town. I will give some great tips on getting around the valley and where to get good deals. I’ll also point the way to some great places to be inspired and learn about our great city.

(Maybe all this goodwill will get me invited to a knitting after-party? Hint, hint.)

If you plan on going and want some qustions answered by a local, please feel free to contact me by leaving a comment.

Where The Air Is Clear

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Spent this weekend in Forest Lakes, Arizona, which is right outside Payson. We stayed at the Arizona Highway Patrol Association’s cabin. It is cabin that my Boy Toy’s family has been coming to for years. A wonderful perk from my father-in-law being a retired DPS officer.

It’s been chilly up here. True sweater weather. Thankfully there is a working fireplace with plenty of chopped wood to keep the fire going. Even in this month of May, there is still snow on the ground in many places. The last frost of winter trying to hold on.

I’ve spent my time up here trying to detox from the stress of moving and other personal issues that usually plague a woman’s good eight hours of sleep.

One of the highlights for me on this trip was sitting on the banks of the Black Forest Lake knitting and watching the fathers with their sons sharing in the time honored tradition of fishing.

It has been almost four years since the last time I was at this cabin. The cabin itself has changed- new paint job, updated flooring and new bricks around the fireplace. But one thing I’m happy for that hasn’t changed is the peacefulness of being surrounded by nature.

In the middle of a forest, away from the cares of everyday life, one can renew their purpose. You not only recharge, you also learn what you are truely recharging for. As Oprah would say, you experince an, ‘Ah!’, moment when things start to make sense.

I believe that everyone should be allowed a time to step away from the world, smell only the scent of ceder and pine, and wake up only to the sound of one’s heartbeat.

If for a week or just a day, escape from your life and rediscover what you are living for.

Dude, Where’s My Yarn?

I’m here in California, packing up what use to be my home for the last three years. Now my entire house is being wrapped up in butcher paper and stuffed into uniform brown cardboard boxes.

It is fascinating to watch complete strangers tear down in a matter of hours what took you years to put together. My life here is now over.

The hard part for me was trying to figure out what to do with my yarn. We couldn’t personally drive it back to Arizona as I was hoping to do. Those of you with a signficant yarn stash would understand the need for your yarn to have personal protection. As much as I tried, the driver of the moving truck refused to keep my yarn securely buckled in the seat next to him and my Boy Toy put his foot down on shipping my stash express mail with $1,000 insurance on it. Instead, I was reduced to shoving it all into a suitcase and having the moving guys toss it into the back of the truck along with the rest of my household goods.

I was shocked to find out that the driver would not be driving straight to the storage place we had selected. Instead, he would be making a few stops along the way- loading and unloading cargo. What if the tag on my bag of yarn falls off and he leaves it at the wrong location? What if one of his stops is at the home of another knitter whose keen noise can sniff out the scent of wool and takes my stash for her own use? What if the truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the only way the driver can get some help from the locals is to barter my precious yarn for water and a phone call?

These are serious scenarios that seemed lost on everyone but me. With sad eyes, I watched as the truck started it’s engine and rolled away with my yarn. I don’t know where my yarn is going or if it will reach its final destination. The last comforting thought I had as the truck drove out of sight, “Well, at least I was able to sneak the rest of my knitting needles into my purse”.

Knitting With Nature

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We knit in our homes. We knit at the local Starbucks. And for those of us daring enough- we even knit in church. But how many of us take the time to knit in Nature? Usually, when we think of camping, we picture ourselves leaving any reminders of the city life behind. And for many people this includes their knitting.

Yet, has not knitting been our way of revolting against our current society? Have we not taken up needles and yarn as protest to the fast and easy life technology tries to tell us we need? Knitting has always been an icon for protest and a calling to go back to a simpler time. So why should it be left behind with the IPad, IPhone and MP3 player?

I brought my knitting and my spinning with me on a recent trip to the Mountain Ridge Cabins in Payson, Arizona. As I sat outside our cabin one morning knitting I found myself closer to nature then I had ever been before. The soft clicking of my needles matched the trickling sound of the brook nearby. My content stillness attracted butterflies and even then breeze seemed to brush by with welcoming warmth.

What is being labled as the “slow movement”, goes hand in hand with Nature. Mainly because this movement is not some new eco-hippie fad, but an authintic desire to reconnect with the land around us.

We may have lost most of our humanity, but no amount of technology and mega marts can wipe out our natural instintic to return to the Earth. So, knit in the woods. Spin in the forest. Crochet in the medows. Weave among wildlife. Reconnect with Nature, least we forget we are only animals after all.