How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I live near an elementary school. Like many buildings in San Francisco the school is built into a hill. Its a sort of woodsy hill at the back of the school and there are trails going down the hill through the woods to the playground. Every weekday morning when Lily and I are out for our walk we see the smallies on their way to school.

 Oh yeah! A stick! Sweet. So glad I got up today.

Oh yeah! A stick! Sweet. So glad I got up today.

Along our route we see the kids usually take the trails to the schoolyard. I love watching the morning rituals that the families have. The trails present these families with what I'd consider to be milestone moments in child rearing. Sometimes I can tell that its really hard for the moms or dads to let that little one walk down the hill alone. Sometimes you can tell that lessons in independence and separation are being learned. Sometimes you can tell that the child has passed the time when its cool for mom or dad to walk down the hill with them ("Stay there! You're embarrassing me.") And sometimes you see a parent walk just out of their child's line of sight and watch them get all the way down to the school. Its a great and affirming to see these acts of love first thing in the morning. I have to admit that I sort of miss them when they're gone for the summer even though its a quieter morning when they're gone.

This week they returned and with them came the nice weather. Kids in San Francisco get a foggy, windy summer. The nice weather comes in late August and September. I was thinking that if I were a kid I'd be really bummed out if the nice weather finally returned and I have to spend the day in a classroom. I can say this because I'm bummed that I have to spend these nice days in a windowless office. Yes, windowless. Such are the tender mercies that keep me from knowing what I'm missing outside.

Its been a long time since I was a kid the ages these children are but I do remember that summer vacation was the absolute best time of year. It seems to me that today's children don't get as much summer vacation as I did and I find that a little sad. What could have been sweeter than sleeping in late on a summer morning after staying up late the night before. On a "school night" thank you very much!

We as a culture do not seem to value rest. We're driven to be productive and some how that got translated into meaning you can't have any down time. An ergonomic dilemma! Being productive is fine but it comes at a cost which seems to not enter the equation sufficiently. Our muscles, brains, and mind need to rest so that they can recharge for the next event. Failing to allow this rest compromises personal health and safety because our bodies regenerate during our rest cycle. Our muscle tissue regeneration requires a cycle of inactivity. During this cycle cellular damage is repaired. The repair process is catalyzed by inflammation within the tissue. Its important to let the tissue complete the full cycle so that its ready for new work and physical challenge. If it doesn't get the full cycle we are setting ourselves up for injury. Its a little like sending an injured athlete back into the game before she's fully healed. Odds are pretty good that she'll be injured further and perhaps more severely.

I know this stuff and yet I must admit that I'm really not good at taking time off. I work full time at my day job.When I get home from that I work on writing projects, class development, pattern design, and other things that allow me to bring classes and information to you. I'm not saying this to sound like a martyr but just to say that there's not a lot of down time in my house. Even my vacation time from the day job is spent teaching throughout the year. So its was a big deal for me to say that I was going to take some time off this summer and just relax. Not once, but twice.

Some friends of mine told me about a spinning retreat that Judith McKenzie was teaching at a beautiful and secluded area just outside of Portland, Oregon. The event was all about spinning "luxury fibers". How could you go wrong? I was totally on board, To really gild the lily I decided that I'd crash for a few days with my Bestie, Madam Huff and her family on both ends of the trip. I should tell you that I had made a vow at the start of the year that I wouldn't buy any fiber this year because my little apartment is about to burst with what I have already. But how could anyone resist these?

 Baby camel, Merino, and silk. Two bumps, please.

Baby camel, Merino, and silk. Two bumps, please.

Or how about this?

 Cobalt and teal angora and merino blend. I spun a sample of self-striping yarn which you see around it.

Cobalt and teal angora and merino blend. I spun a sample of self-striping yarn which you see around it.

But wait, there's more!

 50/50 baby alpaca and silk. 3 bumps artfully put up to look like flowers by Mary Reynolds.

50/50 baby alpaca and silk. 3 bumps artfully put up to look like flowers by Mary Reynolds.

Judith dyed all of these except the angora. Her colors are always so beautiful I could weep. I've become beyond smitten with this sort of acid green-yellow lately and I'm working on a cowl that I'll show you soon of the same color. Fortunately it's happy with my go-to blues which I don't think I'll ever get tired of.

Just so you don't think it was just a shopping event here are some samples I spun.

 Luxury fiber sample skeins -everything from silk, suri, and yak to camel, cashmere and quivut.

Luxury fiber sample skeins -everything from silk, suri, and yak to camel, cashmere and quivut.

If that wasn't fun enough I got to hang with the Huffs again after the spinning retreat. We took a trip to Mt. St. Helens which was nothing short of breath taking.

 You can imagine the once-upon-a-time peak fitting atop Mt. St. Helens.

You can imagine the once-upon-a-time peak fitting atop Mt. St. Helens.

This is an inspiring and beautiful place. So many colors and textures that I'd love to see in a sweater design (check out my "Inspiration" page for more photos). Mary and I saw a new butterfly that had just emerged from its chrysalis.

 Newly emerged and drying its wings. Welcome, butterfly!

Newly emerged and drying its wings. Welcome, butterfly!

And what trip would be complete without an elk burger?

 No thanks, but the Hufflets enjoyed one.

No thanks, but the Hufflets enjoyed one.

I love summer! And best of all, I'm taking another trip!

 A perfect summer day spent with dear friends.

A perfect summer day spent with dear friends.

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