Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jackson, Michigan (continued) I was saying:   I found this wonderful artisan at Jackson!   Picked up a dozen of her fabulous sock skeins, and she is going to send me a dozen more, once the show is over.  With small producers like Cakewalk Yarns, it's often best for the artisan to try to sell materials at full price during the festival and then to deal with people like me, who need to buy at some kind of discount.  Here she is -- we will see more of her.  She's talented.

In addition, I found a pile of gorgeous yarn made by a woman from Fort Wayne, Indiana, under the name Hippie Penguin (!), who is leaving the business.   This isn't a recession story really.  She says she can't do both -- raise a family and dye yarn.  So, really, it's a story about women's lives.  I wish her luck.  I bought a LOT of what she had left.

After a delightful lunch in the winery's newly spacious tasting rooms, a big fat egg-salad sandwich on Zingerman's fabulous rye bread with some watermelon on the side -- all for five bucks -- I took off, or at least would have liked to take off. 

The difficulty was this:  When I came west to Jackson, it was hard not to notice that the entire eastern side of Interstate 94 was completely choked with single-file traffic moving at about 10 miles an hour.  The geniuses in charge of road construction have apparently decided not to pay attention to weekends.  It used to be that, when lanes were not actively under construction, people took down the barricades and dreaded Orange Cones over the weekend so people could move about.  No more.  Now when there are no workmen anywhere, the cones remain, even though work is only prospective.  So I couldn't get home the easiest way.

The solution, of course, was Matilda:  Larry suggested that I set her (she's my GPS) for Lansing and do what she said until I ran into I-96.  So I did.  She took me through the wilds of rural Michigan for a long time.  It was gorgeous.  Finally, I ended up on state road 127, which leads to I-96, but NOT before I went through Mason, Michigan, and noticed signs that said ANTIQUE DISTRICT.  You KNOW that I can't resist that kind of sign.

So I went into Mason.  The district turned out to be a series of antique shops and 'malls' (not big enough to be malls, but never mind) occupying a square block.  The first one, which was otherwise interesting enough, had no vintage buttons.  The second one had no antiques!!!  This, too, reflects our economy.  So much of the texture of America is simply vanishing.  BUT.  This weekend the building provided a home for a craft festival.  I found some DARLING brooches made by a woman I'd never met before, Linda Maxwell, from vintage zippers, buttons, and silk neckties.  The prices were, shall we say, ridiculous (someday women will learn to value their labor, but I'm tired of delivering lectures everywhere I go, so increasingly I'm just rolling with it).  I bought about 20 of them.  They will be wondrous on hats, coats, and god knows where else....our clients have good imaginations!

Here is the porch area of the no-antiques antique mall containing the craft show -- The lovely person sitting at the table had been handing out pie samples all day and was just plain exhausted.  It was VERY hot, with humidity matching the temperature.

I forgot to mention the amazing Suri Alpaca handspun yarn that I bought from a Michigan producer at the festival, and the root beer float procured at a genuine old-fashioned A and W root beer stand (shades of childhood).  (I will never be thin, I guess).   Got home in one piece and dumped everything on the lounge coffee table, much to Lois' and Larry's astonishment.  More soon.    I'm going to be home now for awhile, the better to get some scholarship done!!!!!


Wine and Wool?

Yesterday, I visited Sandhill Creek Winery's annual, modestly sized fiber festival -- one day only, maybe a dozen vendors.  It's a wonderful spot -- close enough to Jackson, Michigan, to be near a grocery store and espresso shop, but far enough away to be well and truly in the wilds of rural Michigan.  At the very end of this photograph, you can see the start of the festival -- the driveway is VERY narrow, the booths drawn along in a medieval string until you get to the winery's wonderful tasting rooms. 

Before I was done, I should say in advance, I had found more truly fresh, engaging wool than I sometimes find at some of the big, better established and better-known shows.  There are reasons for this:  The brand new people often choose to show their work first at small shows, where table costs are relatively low.  So -- in search of new blood, I go to such places, and find WONDERFUL yarns and buttons -- it's SOOOOO exciting.  The great find for this trip was Cakewalk Yarns (see the next posting). 

....and here are some of the vines and scattered picnic tables that make things so pleasant:

I visited with Ann Ryan of Color Bug Yarns at long last.  We have been missing one another for quite some time.  She is a Detroiter -- I want her to come to the studio with her yarns, which are unusual and quite beautiful (colorways that are surprising and deftly painted, particularly in fingering weight), but she has two kids, ages 3 and 5, and both parents told me that I do NOT want the kids in the studio at this stage in their development.   Too bad.   Maybe later.  In the meantime, I bought a boatload of her yarns in a wide array of colors.  Here's Ann from the back, standing behind her booth.  I know.  An odd photograph.  But -- I couldn't find her later when I could have shot her booth from the front!

....and then, of course, there was Riin Gill (Happy Fuzzy Yarns) -- Riin of the delightful purple-y hair and stunning yarns, woven pieces, roving, and so on.  I bought only a handful of her skeins and then some gorgeous green-toned rovings for our spinners.  But -- it was great to see her, and, right next door, also to see Barb Lambrecht (Winding Creek Wool), from whom I secured lovely sheepy-y pendants and glass buttons.  Barb is the one who does NOT have purple hair.  The third photograph shows the back side of Barb's booth with its cool baskets -- Riin's booth off to the right.

The new find for the day was this gorgeous woman -- the owner of Cakewalk Yarns.  She makes truly delectable sock yarns with speckles in two dyeing stages, and at a reasonable price -- has only been doing it for six months or so.  What a gifted person!  But Blogspot won't let me download more photos, so on to the next entry.  Two can play this game!!!!!!!!!!!!   I've got a Ph.D., and Blogspot does NOT.     smiling...........  svb

Thursday, July 28, 2011

....and now a reduction in force....

Just now, the faculty and staff at Wayne State got a message from our president (A. Gilmour) which said (a) that the budget has been reduced by 22 million dollars, the largest loss in the university's history, (b) tuition would go up almost 7 percent for undergrads and more than 7 percent for graduate students; and (c) that after cutting out all kinds of inessential services, the only recourse is now to "reduce the force" of support staff and, presumably, untenured part-time people.  So here we go.  We now bear the fruits of recent shifts in the nation's political preferences.  "Liberty" now means freedom from public employees, good roads, first-class education at public universities, police, fire fighters, and social safety.  Public employees means people like me -- with our huge salaries,our swollen pensions, etc.  What a dark, bleak joke.  Our pensions and other benefits pale when compared to those provided by major corporations to their middle-management people, much less to those at the helm.  I truly despair.  And I wonder why people aren't rebelling in the streets.  We protest, but it's as if we are protesting in a black hole.   Time to knit.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The City People Never See....

For some reason, I'm thinking tonight about Detroit -- the misconceptions beyond its borders, the physical disarray and collapse within its borders, the perpetual optimism and courage of its citizens, the gallantry of Mayor Dave Bing, the city's cultural tapestry (Albania!  Africa!  China!  Korea!  Lebanon!  Syria!  Iran!  All of Europe!  India!  Lithuania!  on and on, and with restaurants for each and every one).  I do wish the NY Times, which seems to revel in trashing the city, could see what we see when we look a little closer.

To be sure, driving through the city engenders enormous sadness.  But what resilience!  The new Chrysler ads are real jewels for exactly that reason:  IN YOUR FACE, everyone -- here's a city that can find beauty and possibilities in the face of grinding poverty and rank injustice.  There are FARMS springing up along Jefferson Avenue, for heaven's sake!!  Here are some of Larry's photographs, now a bit old.  I love the fractured flag, which flies in spite of it all; the arch on Hart Plaza, just enough of it to catch the light; the rugged stone face (also from Hart Plaza); and a mysterious woman in a gray trenchcoat -- can you find her? who is she? -- pretending to be part of the Underground Railroad crowd in the River Walk memorial statute.    svb

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Up North...!

Where I grew up, in that most intemperate of all American climates, Minnesota, we used to talk about Going Up North -- by which we meant that we were going to take a drive to Duluth or Grand Marais (there's more than one!) or Lake Mille Lacs (yes, I know -- I can't help it if Americans don't know French) or even Brainerd and Bemidji.  Bemidji is the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  I understand that people from other states think that Paul and Babe belong to them.  Wrong.  Babe and her owner hailed from Minnesota.

Minnesota really does have over 10,000 lakes, and Brainerd is a resort community situated smack in the middle of a half-dozen of them.  Duluth (in the early 20th century, home to the dread Finnish Socialists -- how scary is THAT?) is now one of the most entirely delightful small cities in America, with a splendid array of old Victorian B and B's, a gallery district near the waterfront, and a spectacular walkway from the B and B district along the water to downtown.  I was shocked during a visit a few years ago to see how sophisticated Duluth had become.  It used to be imagined as an outpost of human civilization, as if everyone lived in igloos.  And of course part of that reputation is well-earned, given the fact of temperatures so low in winter that you can't even think about taking a long walk.  In fact, throughout Minnesota, from about November through March, people look a lot like pillows moving along on two sticks.

In Michigan, Up North means Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island or, short of that magical place (marred only a bit by endless fudge shops and too much hawking), towns like Traverse City and Charlevoix and Petoskey.  It's a true wonderland.  To get there from Detroit, you drive through some quite ordinary, if lovely, farmland (flat, green) and then, increasingly, the woodlands encroach until you are moving through a long, green tunnel.....miles and miles of it.   It can be mesmerizing.  I had to turn on the radio at one point to stay awake.  Then, when you finally get to leave Interstate 75, the tunnel gives way to charming small towns, collectible shops, rolling farmland, and glimpses of the bay, with roads running along the lake shore like curly ribbon.  In July, there are plots of corn, lots of cherry vendors ("Washed Sweet Cherries!"), and potato patches.  It's candy for both eyes and mind.  I also bought a truckload of cherries, of course.  Ambrosia for the tummy and a reminder of simpler times in life, when all it took was a bag of farm-fresh SOMETHING to rescue a bad day.  Wanna see some pretty Michigan flowers?

Up North can be extremely wild and scary.  Some years ago, in 2001, when I decided to run away from home for a month or so in my VW (my first husband had died and I had to think long and hard about the future), I crossed the bridge into the upper peninsula and promptly got lost in the woods -- not on purpose.  It was terrifying.  You can actually run out of gas and starve to death.  But if you do NOT get lost in the woods, northern Michigan has dunes and woods and cliffs and soaring flocks of waterbirds and woods and walkways along gorgeous lakes and woods ...  Did I mention the woods?

I stayed at a particularly dreadful Day's Inn.  Never, ever book a room at the Day's Inn in Petoskey, Michigan.  The beds were both swayback, as if doing an imitation of old horses -- the toilet didn't flush -- the sink didn't drain -- and when I mentioned these things in the morning, the manager said without cracking a smile, "Well it doesn't cost much, does it?"  But it did.  It cost more than 130 bucks with tax.  What kind of management style is that???

I skipped the so-called breakfast, for which in any case there were no available seats.  Instead,  I went downtown in Petsokey, which is a charming place to go -- found a woman who looked friendly, described myself as a Day's Inn Refugee, and asked her where I could find breakfast.  She recommended a great place called the Bistro on a side street, where I found a lovely, ungreasy tomato-basil omelet, fresh fruit, and good coffee -- not to mention a really nice wait person who didn't keep asking me if everything was all right -- and, most important, didn't tell me everything she was about to do ("Now I"m going to pour water," "Here's more coffee..."  or my all time favorite, "How is everything?" after only a bite and every two minutes thereafter.....)(this from an ex-waitress who was trained in the good old days to just DO it).

On the positive side:  On Friday night, I set out in search of a decent dinner and found myself in an area of Petoskey called Bay View, which of course wanders along the water.  Bay View is a dazzling collection of Victoriana.  There, I took a chance on Stafford's Bay View Hotel, a rambling place built in the late 19th century and apparently operating at a high level ever since.  After a truly savory, well-prepared cedar plank of whitefish, I went on a short tour of the place.  It has 30+ rooms, all different, marvelous views of the bay with seating, nice gardens, a sun room, gathering rooms -- just the thing for a fiber arts retreat.  And it only costs about 250 (with meals) for a weekend.  This bears thought.  I need to find a visitor willing to teach an intensive workshop in the woods!

The Charlevoix fiber festival, held each year in mid-July, occupies a place called The Castle.  To get there from Petoskey, you need to drive THROUGH Charlevoix, which can be a disaster.  The fiber fest is held during the so-called Venetian Festival, the name for which someone had better explain to me someday, and it's simply impossible to get through the town, particularly if there is a foot race -- as there was yesterday.  So I waited with everyone else and finally took a side road to get around the snarl.  What some people won't do for YARN!  Next time, I'll lay better plans.

The Castle is (how can I say this?) a bit weird.  Why would such a thing exist in upper Michigan?

It was a fun time, well-organized, and possessed as usual of the world's best caramel corn vendor on the castle green.  But as compared to the last time I was there, I think the number of non-yarn offerings has expanded (that's GOOD for non-yarn people -- really good for spinners and rug hookers -- not so good for me).  That's not to say I came away empty-handed.  Oh no.  Deb McDermott of Stonehedge Fiber Mills -- the maker of the incomparable Shepherd's Wool in East Jordan, just down the road from Charlevoix -- had experimented with hand-dyed sock and sweater yarns, so I snapped up almost all the fingering yarn.  She has some kettle-dyed wool-silk that I also will snap up if she esn't sell it (no point in selling at a discount if you can sell it full price).  I found Barb Lambrecht of Winding Creek Wool, from whom I've bought yarn and scarves and hats in the past -- and grabbed some really spectacular handspun wool made basically from scraps.  I even bought several bags of the raw materials so that our spinners can replicate what she's done.

And of course I found the gifted and delightful Kim Leach.  Kim is from Palmira (Palmyra?), Wisconsin, a town I've never visited, nor do I know exactly where it is.....despite my fairly close knowledge of the Wisconsin landscape.  (I adore Wisconsin).  Kim's yarn line is Happy Hands.  She makes Toe Jamz sock yarn (good for more than socks) as well as other gorgeous yarns.  She has a great-and-getting-greater color eye -- what a talent!  Just eccentric enough to be fascinating, never dull, and always technically first-class.  No muddy borders in Kim's offerings.  I bought a fairly large stack of Toe Jamz in colorways like Brown Eyed Girl...and walked off with some pretty amazing alpaca-wool in a watery colorway.  Here's Kim (who is about 5 feet tall!!!)!

Kim says she could be talked into holding a trunk show in the studio in late autumn -- I surely hope so.  She is someone worth meeting, a joy to know, and one of the forces of nature that make life a little better when you see the smile, hear the optimism in her voice, touch the beautiful yarn.

I drove home amidst hundreds of people who decided to beat the traffic by coming home early (!) and suffered mightily from road construction and a car accident that left grizzly images in my brain -- but it was great fun to get to the studio before closing and dump all of the  yarn on the floor, to the amazement of customers enjoying the Saturday Knit-Together.   It's become a kind of custom:  When I am on the road and apt to return before closing, people hang around.  What a delight.

More later.   svb

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off to Charlevoix...

I haven't gone north (it's a long way!) to the Charlevoix. Michigan, fiber festival for the past two years -- I see most of the vendors at other festivals anyway, and gas has been VERY expensive (in case you haven't noticed!  Last time I filled my wee little VW, it was almost fifty bucks!!!!!!!!).  But I need a road trip.  Really need one.   So I have rented a sedan (to save wear and tear on the aforementioned Bug, which is aging:  One of my students asked, somewhat incredulously, whether I really DID have duct tape on the front of my car holding a chunk of facia in place.....answer was Yes).  (The poor thing also lost a big chunk of something plastic underneath in the front, some kind of mud shield, and I haven't had the time to drive it to the very distant dealership).

It feels like an uncommonly difficult time.  I've been contemplating the many things that have conspired to produce that feeling.  First, I am trying to sell the big, expensive house to clear the deck for retirement, and of course there is some worry about whether ANYTHING will sell in this dreadful market, much less an idiosyncratic big ol' thing built in stages (1896, 1911, 1967, 2004).  It looks a lot like a beached ship, complete with a pointy prow.  But someone will LIKE that kind of house, you'd think.  I did.  It doesn't look like other homes in this area.  It's asymmetrical.  It's not safe or predictable.  It has a California carport instead of the ubiquitous (and boring) garage.  It has acres of parking.  It has no real  yard, only beautiful patios and gardens.  We'll see.  It's a quirky urban home stuck incongruously in a conservative suburb.

Second, and more important, I am experiencing real desperation about the state of the world, helplessness as I think about what individuals can do to change American politics, to make the "my way or the highway" Tea Party either fade away or blow up (I'd prefer the former, but at this point, I wouldn't mind a little well-placed rough-housing -- I'm thinking of the way they used to throw unpopular speakers off the stage bodily in the mid-19th century).   The United States seems to me to be fracturing, atomizing, ceasing to resemble its better self.  I am deeply worried about my country and its people, who seem to me to be affirming the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson's many pleas for solid, ongoing education (Only an "educated citizenry" could ensure the future of republics, he insisted, and look how right he was!).

On one side of the political aisle, we have a huge number of people pitted against laboratory science (no global warming?????)  as well as fact (if a liberal says it's true, you can disregard it -- 'facts' are liberal constructs -- etc. -- so you can make up your own 'facts').  There is an unprecedentedly purist defense of cowboy capitalism afoot as well.  On the other side, we have a bunch of Democrats who apparently  had group surgery recently to eliminate their spines.  If you hold majorities in the Senate and hold the White House, why on earth do you need to be the only party continually giving ground?  Bad enough that insurance companies still hold the nation in thrall.  Now we are going to whittle away at social security programs to make sure the wealthiest Americans can have huge tax deductions for private jets?

Taken together, nothing could be more distressing.  If we don't have the ability to reason together based upon agreed-on facts, we are lost.  We are a diverse people, incapable of being entirely homogenous no matter how hard we try (and the right wing wants to continue trying, it seems).  The only way to pull off a mutt republic is to embrace science and informed conversations and compromise.  We also need to figure out that sharing excess wealth is a good thing -- when people die for lack of health care, that's both immoral and unethical for a people who can afford to build multi-million dollar fighter jets and 24-million-dollar mansions, not to mention Hoover Dam.  So here we are.  Congress is hamstrung over one of the stupidest disputes imaginable.  It defies logic, doesn't it, to insist that you can just keep cutting programs and never, ever gather in more revenue?  NEVER MIND that we are the least seriously taxed of ALL developed nations, or that we are now taxed at levels lower than we were fifty years ago.  I know.  I'm raving.  Somebody has to do it.  The Democrats aren't.  And that's part of the problem.  Republicans have always been much better at political maneuvering than Democrats have been.  It's as if it's beneath us.  So we lose.

The greed, the self-regarding infatuation with wealth and its unregulated pursuit, make me stay awake at night.  And then there is the overt racism that has bubbled up like some kind of nasty tarpit in the wake of Obama's election.  He's a constitutional law professor, for god's sake, the fruit of the nation's finest universities, the smartest person in the room at any given moment.  Yet complete fools feel qualified, not just to call him wrong -- we all have the ability to do that, if we can make our point -- but to call him stupid.  I have never seen such presumption, such insult to accomplishment, such rhetorical and intellectual vulgarity, in all of my 66 years.  I've wished, more than once, that he'd turn to some of these people and say, in a rude voice, "Don't you have work to do?"

The odds are against the USA at the moment, and what's different is that I am not entirely sure we will be the same optimistic, insanely up-beat people on the other side of the crisis.  I really hate that kind of uncertainty about what the nation will be in a decade or two.  It's foreign to me, and I hope to hell it's a false alarm.

Third, and important to me, if not to everyone:   We are headed now toward a new school year; I am not done with the book ms. that lurks in my upstairs computer.  I should be; yet I am continually diverted from it, and probably more than a little depressed by all of the aforementioned situations, which work against a clear focus and the necessary stretches of uninterrupted time in the study.  I need to finish a review essay for the Women's Review of Books by August 1 (the book is not as good as it should have been), and I confess that I find the prospect exhausting -- I'm at a low ebb.  

So tomorrow in the afternoon I'll drive north, up Interstate 75, blissfully free of ringing telephones, words on the page, student essays on the screen, and so on.  I will take only knitting (well, I'll also take a chapter that an ex-student sent to me from Indiana -- a book chapter I've promised to read for awhile now).  

Kim Leach (Happy Hands Yarn) will be there -- I'll pick up two skeins of yarn she has custom-dyed for one of my customers, and she wants to show me something wonderful that she just got from a new mill in New Zealand.  We badly need sock-weight yarn, so I'll be looking especially for fingering weight lovelies, semi-solid and variegated.  Also wonderful buttons.

Then there is a small show at Sandhill Crane Winery near Jackson, MI, on the last day of the month; there, I'll find Color Bug Yarns, who promised me a long time ago they'd do a trunk show (I'll have to remind them) and our good friend Rita Petteys, who has to be talked into another trunk show (the last one was a roaring success).

And, right now, there's a trunk show in the studio courtesy of FloraFil Cotton, a really lovely plump and juicy (!) American-made cotton.  It's really NICE stuff. 

This entry didn't start out to be about trunk shows.  You never know what'll develop, do you?   Love to all of you.  Over and Out.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Wonderful Riin Gill Trunk Show...

Today was the big Riin Gill Trunk Show -- from which a number of people carried away quantities of Riin's brilliantly dyed fingering, sport and worsted-weight wools.  The middle room was jammed with evidence of her growing creativity:  We had not only the handspun and handpainted skeins that she was making when I first met her some years she has handframed and handknitted hats, scarves, felted jewelry, sock flats, roving, and her own patterns (a nifty modular-topped sock, e.g., and a modular-knit hat).  I grabbed some of the patterns and of course some yarn -- though not as much as I will grab from her when summer doldrums begin to ebb and the cash supply increases.

Here is what the middle room looked like today, for those of you who will live to regret not coming!

Riin and I (and her great friend Robert) also talked about collaborating on some designs.  I am going to use four of her handspun colorways, mixed with some marvelous new semi-solid Michigan Romney wool she has added to her line, to work up a side-to-side vest I've had on paper for quite some time.  People who come into the studio often admire handspun but don't quite know what to do with it.  I have meant to work on a pattern series aimed exclusively at handspun -- designs that would take advantage of the amazing texture and color (but especially the texture) that only handspun yarn delivers.  But of course there is the small problem of my day job.  With luck, I can use this trunk show and the GORGEOUS pile of yarn I bought for the purpose to actually knit the vest design and work on a pattern (in sizes 36 through about 56) in regular and tunic length.   I also want to use Terrie Voigt's dichroic glass buttons.

If all of this works out as planned, the result will be an All-Michigan Vest -- we'll be working on a really good name -- and both of us can sell it with her yarns.  Then I can move on to another design.  Here is what the pile of yarn AND buttons looks like at present.   I will be posting photographs as the piece progresses.

Riin will be at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which always coincides with the hottest day of the year -- this coming weekend.  Look for her in the fiber booth!!!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Doldrums... if at sea with no wind and only a sail:  The house is on the market, which required a thousand hours on the third floor sorting, cleaning, making decisions about which yarns ought to go to the studio and be put on the block as "Stash," our all-purpose category for yarns that I no longer want or yarns that I buy at a steep discount (many of them discontinued).  Friends helped.  Without Lois, Katie, Ava, Ann, et al, I doubt that anybody could have navigated the stairs to the third floor, much less found it habitable.  So now it's presentable -- vacuumed, for heaven's sake, and possessed of a fully clothed dress form to suggest 'fiber studio' instead of attic.  I had the place re-insulated a couple of years ago to hedge against the chill of winter and heat of summer.  But, while the air conditioner and furnace are more than adequate, the ductwork up there is NOT adequate.  So there is still heat in summer and cold in winter, though less of each.  Were I to stay here, I'd spend time finding a company willing to redo the ducts.  As it is, people mostly want to stick an expensive separate air unit in a wall and be done with it.  A shocking lack of gumption and imagination.  The problem with my third floor is that some complete fool put the intake register in the main room and the exhaust register (which spews out heat and cold) in the hallway.   DUHHHHH. 

My real estate agent, Patti Bargnes, who is wondrous and recommendable -- we have worked together on three buying and selling projects over the years -- tells me that people are just sitting around on the showing and viewing schtick because they're used to sellers not getting offers and think they don't need to act.  I hope nobody will be disappointed when I abruptly take the thing off the market in a couple of months.  It can go back on the market next year.  Or maybe Chase would like it back!!!!!!  I am SO sick of house nonsense.

At the studio:  We are experiencing the summer doldrums, made more insufferable by invading swarms of smelly, aggressive fish flies.  The outdoor sign, the windows, the walls of the building are covered with them, and this year, unlike in past years, we had at least two separate generations of them.  They crunch underfoot and under automobile tires.  When brushed off of windows, they leave oily smears.  The whole thing is ghastly.   And because the house is close to the water, we have them at the house as well -- indeed, during the broker's open house last week, people complained about an odd smell near the entrance, which Larry and I now think had to do with piles of dead, fishy fish flies all around the house.  

With any luck at all, local artisans will rediscover Artisan Knitworks' collection of hand-crafted yarn and vintage buttons, and so on, SOON so that we can pay rent!!!!!!!!   I hate summer in that respect.  I am working on financial matters, to make it worse, and not crocheting or knitting very much -- this will change.

Thanks for slogging through this vacant entry to the bitter end!