The house has felt empty since Wink was put to sleep. I made the decision to have her cremated so that I could hold her memory in an urn in my home. I knew that at some point during the next week or so the phone would ring and I’d be notified her cremains are waiting for me at the vet’s office.
On Tuesday, that happened.
The next day, I went back and forth trying to determine when I would go pick up her cremains [this is the correct term for cremated remains, often called ashes], and today, I decided it was time. I made a plan (take public transportation to the park, and then enjoy a walk through the neighborhood to the Vet). There was something comforting about the idea of having her cremains and being able to bring my Wink back home.
I walked into the lobby of the vet and waited my turn to be greeted. It’s just after 11 in the morning, and little worried pets surrounded me, along with their concerned parents… I studied the bulletin board full of community pet-related activities and looked at the collection of photos until it was my turn at the desk:
“I’m here to pick up Wink.”
“Wink?” A look of confusion…
“Yes. Wink’s ashes.” A moment of silence happened here where she processed the fact that I was picking up the remains of my dead pet…
“Oh. Just a minute.”
She went to the back and returned a few minutes later with a little wood box and a small heart shaped ornament. The ornament had Wink’s paw print, and her name stamped on it. These items were placed in front of me.
As I looked at the box and this little ornament (which she was now explaining to me) I asked “are the cremains in a bag inside the box?” She said she thought so, but hadn’t ever opened one of these boxes before. “Let’s do it” I said… and we proceeded to unhook the latch and lift the lid.
Inside was a small clear plastic bag filled with ashes and a little piece of paper that said: Name: Claude
“Claude”, not “Wink”. Confused.
“Who is Claude?” I asked.
She glanced at the little note, gently closed the box, and said “I’ll be right back.” A few minutes later, she returned, explaining to me that Wink’s cremains were returned to the facility so that they could correct the spelling of my name on the box. After apologizing for the mix-up, she let me know that they’d be in touch in the next day or so to let me know when they were ready to pick up.
Now, I realize mistakes happen, and that things can be mixed up. I also know that this will get sorted out. The people who provide these services are obviously careful with the remains (exemplified by the name of the pet being included in the bag), and in time it’ll get sorted out.
What I don’t understand is why someone didn’t call to tell me there was going to be a delay in my being able to pick up the cremains because a mistake had been made in the spelling of my name. The service I ordered was a private cremation (which results in the delivery of your own pet’s cremains), and the encounter left me confused and unsure of what pet’s cremains will find their way home with me. I just have to believe that my name really was spelled wrong on the box, and that it’s a simple mix-up that will be easily resolved. I did a little research and found that the pet cemetery allows in-person cremation, meaning the actual cremation can be attended. Now this might be a bit morbid, but it seems to me the only way to be 100% certain that the cremains you get are of your beloved pet.
But beyond the mix-up and sadness and shock of losing her, I know that Wink had an incredibly wonderful life and gave so much love and laughter to me and my family. I was able to be with her in her last moments, and was able to hold her paw, kiss her head, and tell her goodbye in the very moment she passed.
Do I miss Wink? Yes. Every second. My heart breaks knowing she’s gone. But as time moves forward, I find myself smiling; knowing that she shared 9 love-filled years with me. I’m lucky to have had her in my life and the cremains that I receive (eventually) will take residence in the urn that will be used to remember and honor her life.
For those who have been friends with me for a while, you'll note this is spinning wheel #2. The first one was a Kromski Mazurka from years ago that I loved... bought., brought home, treadled on, and quickly realized that it wasn't right. It wasn't "My" wheel... so I let it go; sent it off to a friend across the country, and focused my fibery passions on things that didn't need to be spun.
Fast forward a few years, and with becoming more and more interested in spinning, my circle of friends began to bring their wheels around when we would gather to knit or crochet. I looked on, envious. I wanted to spin too! They offered to let me try their wheels, but in my heart, I realized what must be done. I must buy a wheel. The time had come.
But wheels are expensive! After careful consideration, I decided to make a list of the elements that would be important to me when selecting my wheel:
1. It needed to function. I dont want to spend a bunch of money on a wheel that's flimsy or might not hold up for years... It needed to "speak" to me...
2. It needed to be flexible. I wanted a wheel where parts could be ordered/added as needed or wanted...
3. It need to travel. When I got a wheel, I'd want to be able to bring it to where the other spinners were... That might mean on public transit or on a plane.
4. It needed to be beautiful. I did love the Mazurka - it was walnut and gorgeous. But beauty comes in many forms.
So, I started to save. OK, let's back up a bit and I'll share something with you: I don't have credit card debt. That's right, I don't owe a credit card company anything. (and it feels amazing) - but that didn't happen overnight or easily. I have worked really REALLY hard to get to this point. I opened a savings account just for my wheel and when I got money for something that was "free" money (money that was NOT part of my monthly budget) it went into the spinning wheel savings fund. I pay careful attention to what I buy and record every purchase. I think hard about what I am spending money for and do my best to consider if I REALLY want/need whatever it is I'm eyeing at the time... this helps me save up! And, with the publication of my Corydon sweater in Knitter's magazine, I had enough in that account to be serious about my wheel search!
Then the research. I checked out wheels at Madrona and Stitches West. I continued to look and ask questions of others... and at Stitches, in the Purlescence Yarns booth, I fell in LOVE with the Schacht Sidekick! More time was spent considering if this was the wheel for me... and it was. It IS functional. It is a workhorse wheel, sturdy and strong. It promises to give me years of happy spinning. It IS flexible. parts can be ordered and added on as needed. It WILL travel. It folds up to a size small enough to carry-on an airplane (or easily put in luggage)... and it IS beautiful. The design is clever (with the spinning wheel turned like a bicycle wheel)... and most of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way it feels. It fits me and it's MY wheel.
What don't I love?
The bobbins. They're plastic and wood. I think they look cheap and I want them to be all wood. No Problem-o! Wood bobbins from Schacht fit the Sidekick and I can use them instead... hooray!
I didn't like the idea that I'd have to check the wheel if I fly - (in a case it'll be a bit too big for a carry-on) -- but after much thought I decided if I'm flying somewhere and taking my wheel, chances are I'm checking a bag anyway... it's not that big of a deal!
Last thing I don't love? There's no bag. It comes with a strap (which is nice) - but I want a bag. I know there are a few out there but I'm waiting... considering my options, just like I did with my wheel... and I'll make my decision, save up for my purchase and buy when the time is right.
With no serious complaints, the decision had been made.
I went last night to Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale and worked with the AMAZING staff there. I wanted to buy my wheel but still tried out others to be sure. They gave me pointers about posture, seat height, etc. and questioned me thoughtfully. They are informed about their product, excited for the new spinner, and welcoming EVERY time I walk through the door. After about an hour of evaluation and chatting, I bought my new baby and brought it home safe to San Francisco.
It was assembled last night, oiled, treadled for a good while and then I started to spin on it. I am looking forward to lots of practice and lessons and pointers from my fiber friends as I learn this new craft. Purlescence offers a good amount of "practice fiber" and a free lesson with purchase (which is great because I am always looking for an excuse to go visit them!) If you are considering a wheel, check out the sidekick. I know it's not the right wheel for everyone - but it is perfect for me and it has found a comfortable home in San Francisco!
Knitting is my "go-to" activity whenever I have a few free minutes. I knit on my lunch break at work, I knit during down time when volunteering, I knit when riding with friends places... at the beach, at the movies... it's the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning (after checking email and ravelry) and the last thing I do usually before going to bed every night.
Recently, I have been doing some design work for publication and it has taken a lot of my time away from some of the other things I like to do (like my goal of posting more frequently on the blog about knitting).
Those who have designed for publication know what it's like... coming up with an idea, swatching, swatching, swatching and then swatching some more... figuring out what the stitch pattern wants to be, then spending hours and hours knitting, ripping, knitting, ripping and knitting some more until a knitted item is born. LOTS of notes are made and revised, and once the piece is complete, knitting becomes a sort of math "word problem" where the goal is to calculate the various sizing requirements for the project.
All of this takes so much time, and the publication process takes a few months more... so in the end, there's LOTS of knitting that becomes secret and takes up time and can't be talked about... what that means is sometimes I am working like crazy on projects and while I want to post about them I can't.
I have also been working on a commission project that I prefer not to talk about until it's complete... (It's a fun knitting project and I can't wait to share the finished item with you!)
I have to get back to knitting - but that's what's going on right now. Thanks for reading, subscribing to the newsletter, adding my blog to your blog reader of choice, and for sharing my website and link on your blog!
Have a fantastic week!
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I wanted to share this photo of Willow and Wink taking an afternoon nap and tell you there's a LOT of great stuff coming here at www.kylewilliam.com! While the blog may seem a bit quiet, rest assured that I'm hard at work behind the scenes preparing all kinds of goodies!
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Siem Reap, Cambodia
Next we headed to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I know a lot of people were a bit apprehensive about my traveling to Cambodia - mostly because of the problems they have had (they only recently ended a civil war and with the death of Pol Pot came freedom) - basically from 1976 - 1997 Cambodia was under the Khmer Rouge rule - and an estimated 1.7 - 2.5 million people were killed.
The people are amazing here. Loving, smiling, and full of energy; working hard to re-capture their traditions. The first night in Cambodia, we went to dinner where a children's troupe performed first a shadow puppet show, then a series of traditional dance. The music is also performed by the children. I made a small video of one of the dances to show everyone what the traditional Khmer dance is like. The costumes were Thai in style, because traditional Khmer costumes would have been topless:
To get prepared for the visit to this country, I read When Broken Glass Floats and learned the story of one family and their struggle during this time. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the human struggle and real life story of those who lived the horrors. I finished the book while in Siem Reap, and felt quite connected to the culture.
This is the first place I have ever traveled that the people literally thanked us for visiting. They were genuinely grateful for our visit, our faith in their new freedoms and (let's be honest) our spending money there and investing in their economy. I was thanked from every tour guide, shop keeper, hotel attendant, driver... it made me feel really wonderful and welcomed to their country!
While in Siem Reap, we visited around 10 of the thousands of ancient temples - places built around a thousand years ago with no cement or reinforcement; simply stone on top of stone. These temples were by far the most amazing thing I have witnessed - their sheer size - the moats surrounding some of them... the carvings were beyond description. I included a link to a youtube video showcasing the history of one of the temples, and it notes a few of the others as well. The slideshow of the temples is not in any particular order (sorry) - but watching through all of them you might be able to discern one temple from another. The original Hindu temples are multi-level, while the Buddhist temples are one level. It was an honor to get to walk through these true wonders!
To see the rest of the segments of the above video featuring the temples of Cambodia, please visit this LINK. (it's very much worth the time!)
Cambodian Landmine Museum
One day we took a hour-long ride in a tuk-tuk to the Cambodian Landmine Museum. Created by Aki Ra, his mission has evolved from the de-mining of Cambodia to helping injured and orphaned youth with his school. We watched a video about how he responds to calls by villages to deactivate mines they discover, and saw through the exhibit the terrors of these devastating weapons. Thousands of deactivated mines are on display, and they even have some in a outdoor setting showing how hard it is to spot a mine. Honestly, if I hadn't known to look for mines, and stood for a while to scan the ground, I would have never noticed them and it was at that moment I realized how impossible the efforts to clean up the millions of remaining mines seems. I visited their gift shop and made a donation to the museum's relief fund.
On the road to the landmine museum (and a few of the temples), we saw stand after stand of villagers with these large metal pots boiling something; the steam billowing off and up into the sky. Upon closer inspection, we were educated on the process of creating my favorite Cambodian treat - palm sugar! Basically, village men climb up the palm tree and squeeze the cut buds to massage the nectar out. This drains into bamboo buckets that are then carefully carried down to be boiled in the metal pots. After a long time cooking, the melted sugar is poured into small rings made out of palm fronds and left to cool. The result is something similar to brown sugar, with caramel and butterscotch notes. We bought some of this and I have to say it was one of my favorite guilty pleasures in Cambodia! This sugar was unprocessed, chemical free, and seeing how it was made made it a real treat!
Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village
We took a boat adventure to Tonle Sap Lake's floating village. Chong Kneas is a village at the edge of the lake, and its location changes based on the migration of the lake itself. Around 20-30 minutes from Siem Reap, the trip took us past many houses on stilts, and white sheets that were hung out in the fields. I thought that perhaps they were bleaching the sheets, but a quick answer from the driver corrected my assumption. Crickets. The sheets are lit up at night, and the crickets jump to the white sheet, then fall to a trough full of water below and are trapped. These are a source of food for the villagers, or used as bait to catch fish.
As soon as you enter the village, you’ll see rows of tourist boats docked closely together. You’ll also start smelling that fishy smell that seems to be present with river villages. One look at the water and you realize that it’s muddy muddy muddy. But such is life. People in the village still use it for cooking, drinking, washing and bathing.
The floating village is rather small. After about 20 minutes of going slowly on the boat, you’ll reach the large Tonle Sap lake. On the way there, however, you’ll see many interesting sights. As we were being informed about the village and the residents, one of the many boats approached the side of our boat, and a small (maybe 3 year old) boy popped his head up over the edge of our craft. His mother begged for money while he smiled, then jumped back into his boat to get his pet. Wrapping it around his neck, he assumed his position at the edge of our boat again. All this time, my friend Chuck was sitting with his back to the experience - so I calmly told him...
"I don't want to alarm you but behind you is a baby with a snake!"
It was quite the surreal experience to say the least. The villagers are poor, but seem pretty happy. We saw a crocodile farm while there, and I got a few gifts for friends back in the states.
We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon at the Angkor Pottery Center, managed by Hann Paruth - I tried my hand (foot) at a Khmer kick wheel and (thanks to Melody Cooper, my Woodland Hills, CA ceramics instructor) made a respectable bowl. We heard her story and some of the history of the Khmer artists who were all but obliterated during the previous years. I'd provide a website for her but alas, there is no website.
I did take a lot of photos... what I didn't do was make any video during the visit to the pottery center. I found this wonderful youtube video from another visitor earlier in 2010 and wanted to share it... Hann Paruth was a wonderful host - she goes into some detail about where the clay is from and through this video you'll see some of the in process works she is doing. Pay attention to the Khmer kick wheel - it's not as difficult as you'd think.... If you ever find yourself in Siem Reap, it is imperative that you visit her pottery studio!
The silk farm was a wonderful educational experience that taught us the process of how silk is made. From the life cycle of the silk worm to the reeling of silk, to the dyeing, and weaving, the process is labor intensive. The most amazing style is ikat, where the weft (the fibers that go from right to left on the loom) are dyed in an intricate process. Here is a video from youtube (not from the place we visited; note it's in Thailand!) that explains ikat silk weaving. Spend the 5 minutes watching this video to have an idea of what the process is like:
OK, back to the silk farm! We took a short ride to this place, part of the Artisans d'Angkor NGO - they are working to preserve and restore the arts and crafts of the Khmer people. At the end of the tour, we were able to purchase items made by these artisans. HERE you can see some of the items for sale - they were quite reasonable and every item was beautifully crafted.
I didn't do any filming at the silk factory - I was too enamored with the process and so busy taking photos I forgot! Here's a video from youtube showing the actual farm we visited - witnesing the artistry and steps involves made me have a new appreciation for handwoven silk!!
The same NGO that trains the weavers also trains sculpters, metalsmiths and painters. The women who are taught silk painting are deaf and mute, and all the artist students come from villages where they would otherwise have no training (or future). They are brought to the school where they apprentice and learn their specific craft. After months of study, they eventually return to their village with materials to continue their work. These items are sold by the NGO and the artist makes money... it's a wonderful arrangement saving a culture that would have otherwise disappeared.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Resort / Island Life
The island is a true paradise. There are only a handful of resorts in the area we stayed. There are NO roads (OK, there are pathways) and no cars - no trucks. The only real transportation is boat, tractor or golf cart. People smile here, the air is soft and light and salty, and it's one of the few places in the world where I don't see a huge pidgeon infestation!
We slept pretty well, although the beds at each hotel were pretty darn firm - and each day it was a wonderful feeling to think the only thing I had to do was get up, brush my teeth, put on my swim trunks and go sit by the pool. I have said before I loved this trip - but really - really - hear me when I say - I LOVED this trip!
OK. Truth be told, I was very excited about snorkling. The ocean was warm and clear, and despite my fear of stepping on glass or something else that would rip a crater in my foot, it was an adventure I was ready to experience. We went on our first snorkling adventure one day near bamboo island and mosquito island; about 20 minutes by longtail boat away from Koh Phi Phi. We climbed into the ocean carefully after putting on our snorkel goggles and fins. For a few moments I was OK - looking around at the ocean floor, and immediately I saw schools of yellow fish! Beautiful tropical fish that made me smile!
It only took 2 minutes or less before I saw a jellyfish. These things scare me because they sting (and some kinds can really injure a person, even kill them)! I panicked because I couldn't get turned around and to the boat - and I was afraid that I was going to swim into another one... After taking a few breaths and talking myself out of the nervous breakdown I was having, I found my way to the boat, climbed in and realized that the temple on the left side of my head was STINGING. I guess in my swim at some point, I had actually encountered a jellyfish - (the spot stung for a few days!)
John and Chuck spent a while snorkling and I watched from the boat. We ended up snorkling one more time during our trip - in a small cove where I could stand on the reef if I needed to, and where it didn't feel like I was going to float away from the boat. We spent an hour or so in this quiet little spot, feeding the fish, and marveling in the awesome beauty of the life in the water. It was a real treat to get to snorkel and not be terrified.
Who knows if I'l ever be over my small fear of the ocean and snorkeling - but the second snorkel adventure on this trip definately gave me some good memories of the sport, and might even be enough to talk me into trying it again sometime!
Christmas on Koh Phi Phi
There was a Christmas tree farm on Koh Phi Phi! (OK, it wasn't a tree farm - it was more like the landscape area for the resort we were staying in, but Chuck and I decided to make the best of it - and found a plant there and brought it to our room). We decorated the tree and surrounding area with shells and flowers, cut a paper snowflake for the top of the tree out of the coasters in the room, and wrapped up some small gifts we had gotten for each other using whatever we could find. It was a "figure it out" kind of holiday, and it made me think of those who get creative using what they have to be festive instead of buying all the decorations and other things that make the holiday commercial.
It was one of the best holidays I have ever had - spending time with my wonderful friends, and being allowed the opportunity to sit back and really spend time to think of how very very lucky I am to have amazing people in my life. I have been fortunate (even though sometimes it didn't feel like it) and never went a day without eating, have always had a soft place to sleep, and have been brought up in a country where for the most part I can be whatever I want...
Christmas was different than usual for me this year, for many reasons. It was a different season than I expect for the holiday, I was in Southeast Asia, and I had recently made some big changes in my life. The trip allowed me to reflect on what I had been doing and where I was going... and what I realized is that we are alive for a relatively short time - the days are numbered, and if you are interested in doing something, you should just dive in and do it. That being said, since our return, I have designed 3 hat patterns, I have completed a number of knit items, and I am working on a few writing projects as well. I have registered for classes at the local city college, discovered (and signed up for) a free tapestry class, and even been accepted into the HIV counselor training program by AIDS Health Project! Things are moving along these first few weeks of 2011 - and I am certain that the year will be full of good things!
To get off the island, we chartered a speedboat to take us the 45km to Phuket, where we were to take a taxi to the airport. John did the arrangements, and had us leave the island 30 minutes or so earlier than the hotel recommended, so that we would have plenty of time at the airport before our flight to Bangkok later that day. We boarded our boat 45 minutes or so before the hotel suggested time, and bid farewell to our island home.
Or so we thought.
The driver brought us to the other side of the island (the more commercial side that reminded me a lot of what it might be like if it were spring break) and parked the boat... they told us that they needed to get something and they'd only be a moment. About 20 minutes later we were trying to figure out what the captain of the boat needed (he had brought a jug from the boat with him) - and it turns out that he RAN OUT OF GAS! - lucky for us we weren't in the middle of the ocean, right?! About 30 minutes later the other escort who was accompanying us to our destination finally reached another boat and we changed from one boat to another and started our trip to Phuket. This should be the end of the frustrations, right?
As we are speeding along, we hear some sputtering and choking of the engine - we have been boating right along at a good pace - and we are within site of Phuket and the bay where we are to dock and get our taxi when the engine shuts off. The captain and the escort talk to each other, hop back and forth and fiddle with the engine - guess what?
We are out of gas. Again. (Seriously? twice in one day? On the way to the airport? Is this really how our amazing vacation is going to end?!) -
Anyway, the captain nurses the boat to a dock (not the right dock) and we do get to a taxi who tells us we are about 40 minutes away from the airport. We are also exactly 40 minutes from the cutoff time to check our bags for the flight to Bangkok! The driver does his best to get us to the airport (slowing down the 3 times he answers his cell phone while driving) - and in the end, we arrived at the ticket counter to find out our flight had been delayed. We made it just fine to Bangkok, where we stayed the night at an airport hotel. The next morning, we got up WAY too early, trodded through the security and found our way to our flight home to Tokyo then San Francisco. The flights were uneventful and long.
I am now happy to be home, settled into the start of my new life here in San Francisco, and looking forward to the adventures I will have here in this amazing city!
Thank you for taking time to read about the trip - I hope that it was as fun for you as it was for me to share!
Happy New Year everyone!
I apologize for the big lapse between posts - but the latest delay comes with good reason. Before I begin I want to note that I do have some knitting content to share but needs its own posts. Those will come shortly after the trip recap is published. I was out of town from December 9 - 30, 2010 traveling Southeast Asia with 2 of my good friends! We visited Thailand and Cambodia over the almost 3 week trip and I came back with literally thousands of photographs, more inspiration than I can explain, and a refreshed outlook on life, seeing how others live firsthand in other parts of the world. Because of the sheer volume of photos from this trip I decided instead of showing each individual photos from the trip that I would just speak in general about some highlights. This will also be a two-part post because it's just so much information to read and share, I think giving you a break in reading might make it easier to digest. (I also want to get part 1 out ASAP so that people can relish in the warm heat of Southeast Asia while it's chilly and wintery at home!) Enjoy the trip!
Wats in Bangkok
Before I went to Bangkok, all I knew about it was the sont "One Night In Bangkok" - I thought it was seedy, racy, and full of bars with back rooms that featured strippers or worse... When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful bustling city full of culture and history! We stayed on the river in a beautiful hotel, and took a water taxi almost everywhere we went! I have lots of favorite things to mention about Bangkok, but one of my favorites would be the wats - or Buddhist temples. We went to a lot of them, including Wat Pho, the home of the huge reclining Buddha. We saw the Emerald Buddha as well (it's one of the most important Buddhas in the history of the religion). I also really appreciated that the wats were almost all being renovated or restored... go through a doorway and there's an artist lacquering a giant centuries old Buddha image - through another doorway or around a corner in a different wat and someone is restoring a mural... the preservation efforts made me smile. I like when people do their best to preserve amazing spaces such as these! Enjoy a few of the photos I took while visiting these amazing spaces:
Jim Thompson's House
We had a wonderful adventure at Jim Thompson's House - after the adventure trying to find it, we were led on a tour of what was his home (he took a number of traditional Thai houses and reassembled them to make one large home with two outbuildings - one for his gardener and the other was for his housekeeper.
Jim went on an excursion in the Cameron highlandsin Malaysia in 1967 and never returned - his house is now a museum showcasing this brilliant businessman and his passion for the silk industry. He's the guy who revitalized the Thai silk world, and his name still hangs on shops around the world. I thought about buying a bag from the Jim Thompson shop, but decided that I have many bags as it is, and that the photographs and experience of being in this place were enough souveniers. There was also a small museum at the property, and theyon exhibit some of the silk items from one of Jim's collections. I really liked some of the fashions, but have no idea where I'd wear a fancy silk long coat like the one in the show... We were not allowed to photograph inside the home (except in certain areas) so I can only offer you these peeks into the world of Jim Thompson:
Markets, Waterways and Streets of Bangkok
Bangkok is a land full of sights and smells - there are markets everywhere you turn (but no yarn shops that we could find!) and commodities are divided into areas... if you want car parts, you head to that area of town. Need a new rubber stamp or embosser for your business? There's probably a street for that as well...
Everywhere you go in Thailand (and Cambodia) in the big cities, the way to get around quickly is by a little two stroke engine motorcycle with a cart behind it - they call this a Tuk-Tuk. They are cheap and they are everywhere! On one of the days, Chuck and I took a field trip to try to find a certain area of town, and while searching came across the flower market - this is where they make the floral adornments for the temples and Buddha's. Here are some of my favorite photos showing daily life in Bangkok, Thailand:
Monk Bowl Village, Bangkok
After our long walking journey through the city, we were starting to get a little frustrated. When visiting a country, it's good to have a guide or someone who can read the language. I'm not ashamed to say that Thai (and other languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) when written, make absolutely no sense to me! This can be problematic when you're looking for a place and the only way to find it is to follow Thai street signs. Chuck and I were really at the end of our rope, and stopped at a corner to examine our tourist map to see if we could figure out which direction was which... when a lady approached Chuck and asked where we were trying to go... (most people there are eager to help you find your way, which is nice) - we explained we were looking for a certain Wat that sells Monk Bowls. Monk bowls are used by Thai monks to collect alms in town each morning--being pounded into shape out of eight strips of steel, one for each stage of the Buddhists' eightfold path. She told us that the village was just down the street we had stopped at - and pointed the way to where we really wanted to go; monk bowl village!
As we got closer, we were greeted by the ambassador of Monk Bowl Village - one of the residents who speaks great English - he showed us to the "store" (it was no more than a pile of bowls and a glass case) - We pondered the bowls, but I wanted to see where they were made. He obliged, and took us on a tour of their village - and eveywhere we went, we heard "tap tap tap"... That metallic tap you hear is the sound of the bowls being smashed into shape by the artists. The village was cute, and everyone seemed happy there... they are very poor people, but they do good work making something that they love - we were impressed by their work - it would take an artist one full day to make a bowl. Chuck and I each bought one bowl (about U.S. $30) and they are proudly displayed on a shelf at home in San Francisco now. When I brought my bowl back to the hotel, one of the hotel porters warned me that it was more than a souvenier. The bowls are sacred, and should never be put on the ground. I promised him I'd safeguard this bowl, and I'm honored to have it as a momento from this amazing adventure. Here are photos from Monk Bowl Village:
Are you hanging in there with me? I told you - it's a long trip! I hope you're enjoying the 5 day adventure in Bangkok, Thailand. Stay tuned; I will be posting a part 2 to this trip, featuring 7 days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and 7 more on the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand!
November has been a month full of changes. I made many life altering choices, including the one to say farewell to my home in Los Angeles and head north to San Francisco! Change is not always easy, but often these differences in location and change of scenery offer more good than we can imagine! On Sunday November 20, 2010 I headed north with a friend after loading my (cute) little 10' Uhaul truck. As we drove it rained softly and we were presented with rainbow after rainbow after rainbow...
We drove about halfway and stopped near Fresno for the night, and woke up the next morning to a clear, crisp day... clean roads and postcard-perfect views all the way into the bay area...
We kept getting closer and closer to HOME - and I finally decided to post on Facebook that I was making the move - messages from all over poured in congratulating me on the decision - it wasn't easy - we often face crossroads in our lives (insert violin music here) and the opportunities we have should be seized! I am moving to this wonderful new city, leaving my previous job (and career) with the goal of entering into the non profit sector. Initially I will be seeking work as a voulenteer as an HIV counselor - administering tests and offering information to clients. In time I will find the right job for me... one that makes a difference in the lives of those in my community.
I thought for a while if I might want to work in a fiber-related field, and I am still undecided about that - I think that I prefer doing something else that I love, and leaving the knitting and fiber fun as a passion - I may change my mind at some point, but for now, that's the road I chose.
We arrived safe and sound around lunchtime - John parked the Uhaul carefully and it only took around 10 minutes to unload into the lobby of the condo. As the Uhaul was returned I hauled as much as I could up the stairs. a few days have passed now and almost everything is put away, and the kitties are acclimating to their new home. They have discovered the wall heaters, and the pidgeons outside the windows. I think they like both.
Here's Willow sharing Dewey's bed in front of the wall heater - they love the heaters early in the morning, but really prefer the sunbeams... San Francisco is a gorgeous town full of character and interesting people. I look forward to the adventure here and learning as much as I can about this glorious city!
p.s. Winky is safe in SF too but didn't want to be photographed :)
Wait... what am I doing SEWING?! - you'll see... - just keep in mind I was doing this for a number of weekends.. secretly working on this project and not telling many folks...
It's all in the past now... but wow - STILL reveling in the fun we had preparing for (and experiencing "Kenny's Wicked Weekend!" - let's get one thing out of the way... no, I didn't spell the title wrong ... bear with me - you'll see why it's important in good time! haha
First, I'll tell you - I had traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco each weekend for a month preparing with my best friend John for this weekend. Kenny Chua had mentioned that he wanted to see Wicked - he wanted the gang to join him in Houston to see the show for the 4th of July. No offense to those who live in TX, but have you ever BEEN to TX in the summer? eek. HOT. so... we started planning... some of that planning took lots of sewing (and surging and embroidering!) - we made magic happen. (John and I are also running - we're going to do a marathon; my 2nd, John's 1st! at some point this year!)... so we worked on our secret project, and ran at least once each weekend (except for one!)
Kenny, Gregg, Chuck and I flew to San Francisco for the 4th of July weekend - and among all the other fun things we got to do, we spent some time visiting yarn shops...
Here we are at A Verb for Keeping Warm - it was a true treat to meet the owner Kristine and see her shop - I never thought I would have the pleasure of seeing this space... it's worth visiting, and if you have ever pondered the idea of buying from her, I can't give you a higher recommendation. She was kind, informative and honest about all my questions relating to owning a fiber business (my dream!) - we were also lucky enough to be hosted to our tour of Berkeley by none other than wondermike of Fiber Beat ... he took photos of us, toured us around the town and shared lunch with him.. it was a real adventure!
We also visited the "T Cozy" - some knit taggers did this bit of public yarn bombing... on a public art installation of "HERE" and "THERE" referencing a famous poem.. "there is no 'there' there..."
We went to Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles - my favorite part of this place was it's overwhelming selection of gorgeous vintage (style) scissors!
OK OK... so now it's time for WICKED! - we dressed up in our black pants, white shirts, green argyle socks, official "Wicked" green glasses, top hats and CUSTOM MADE Opera Capes!
Here they are... hand made by John and me... black crepe, lined in black satin... the interior of each cape has the San Francisco skyline in green sequin fabric embroidered along the base - and on one side of the cape there's the Golden Gate Bridge with "Kenny's Wicked Weekend" and the details of the weekend memorialized under the roadway.
It was an incredible weekend - and the show is amazing - we were 5th row CENTER - we went around back and met some of the cast, got Kenny's grimmerie (souvenier book) signed by some of the actors... and in the end, everyone appreciated the capes - other patrons took our photos, the crew laughed and pointed us out as "crazy fans" and we all learned a valuable lesson - if you really LOVE something and dive in with all your heart, most people will be supportive...
We love Kenny - and now I'm pretty sure he's OK with the idea of parading downtown San Francisco in capes.. as long as he's with his friends.
For the actual 4th of July - we had a picnic in Dolores park... and unveiled the cake we had made for Kenny... the Asian bakery that made it for us (who also make the amazingly yummy pork buns I have to eat every morning when visiting) spelled "Wicked" wrong... but what were we going to do but laugh and take the cake... in the end, it was perfect... even if it wasn't.
Memories... these crazy life changing wacky weekends are some of the best type... and if there's a typo in them, then so be it - the cake was YUMMY.. the weekend perfect.... in every way - weather, friends, atmosphere... we are lucky boys to know each other... and it's all because of knitting.
Happy Birthday, Kenny (a few months late!)
Here are some of the photos from the weekend-- in no particular order (bear with them - lots of photos from the yarn shops, the Laci's museum, and our fun adventures with WonderMike... hang tight... there are fun photos of the cake... us in our capes...
A week from tomorrow (on March 21, 2010) I will be FINALLY running the 25th Los Angeles Marathon - joining 25,000 other runners on the path from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier -
I must send a big THANK YOU to all those who have donated! With your help, I have been able to raise (to date) $3718.92!! I am just over $1,300.00 short of the goal of $5,000.00 - it'd be AMAZING to reach that goal, but I am proud of getting this far, and currently being one of the TOP TEN FUNDRAISERS in the program!!
Now comes the fun part - running 26.2 miles! -
For those of you who might want to keep track of my time and pace during the marathon, you can go HERE - and sign up... Search for me (Kyle Kunnecke) as the runner you'll track during the event. Once signed up, as I progress through the race, they will send you updates as to my time! Cool, huh!!
Let me know if you are tracking me - I am curious how many people actually want to follow my time! - You can also watch the marathon on KTLA Channel 5 - from 7AM - 10AM (I won't have finished by this time!) haaha
You can choose to receive updates via pager, email or text message. This is the coolest thing and I'm SUPER excited to be able to share my time with you. Keep in mind as you discover my pace, I'm not a "real" runner... I'll be slow, but two things I will promise:
1. I WILL finish the marathon!
2. I will NOT be the last person to cross the finish line!
If you are still able to make a donation and want to help me get to the $5,000 goal, please make one more trip to the donation site - give what you can, and share the link with your friends -
I'll be thinking of all of you while approaching the finishin line at the end of this long journey - it really is true: you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it!
Holy cow. It's December. Cold outside. Near the end of the semester in school... frighteningly close to the holidays and I am not ready!
Don't get me wrong... I love the holidays - but this year, with finances being tight and the somber mood of our country, for some reason, I'm just not "into" it... we might or might not put up a tree... we will probably light the candles for Hanukkuh... but much more than that will be a feat -
Last weekend was the Winter Arts Festival at Pierce College. It was the first time I showed my knitting... the first time that I sold any. And I was amazed that I sold quite a few scarves... a shawl, even a felted bag! I was asked to sell my knitting in a local shop, and to do another charity show in April. I didn't commit to anything - as you probably know, my life is busy with wonderful things.
Including the training for the Los Angeles Marathon. This past Sunday, I ran 12 miles! - I am amazed that I am doing this... that I have the ability to somehow wake myself up and crawl into my car - to drive to the training site and run every Sunday morning! It's not easy.
Of course, I am still raising money for AIDS Project Los Angeles. I appreciate every dollar that is donated. Currently, I have been able to raise $2581.00 with a goal of $5,000.00 - if you're interested in donating (even $5 would be a big help!) please click this LINK - and give. It's tax deductible and feels amazing.
I'm finishing up a number of ceramic pieces soon and will post about those once they're ready. I am also about to release the second wave of cast metal yarn bowls - the first set sold QUICKLY and I am thankful for every purchase made. If you know someone interested, please remind them to keep an eye on my etsy shop.
That's it for now - sorry, no photos, no amazing news - just some notes and a hug to each of you!