Monterey    |    12 Comments »

09 Jun 2014

Not in California, but here:

Monterey cohousing

Monterey Cohousing Community. It’s in Saint Louis Park (half a mile west of the Minneapolis border, but there’s no visible delineation, it’s still full-on city). The old mansion used to be a retirement home for Christian Scientists, but now it houses eight apartments, and there are a further seven townhouses on the property. It’s set up to be an “intentional neighborhood;” not a commune, but a community. All residents are autonomous (apartments are owned separately), but you really get to know your neighbors. People are friends, everyone helps with the running of the house and grounds, there are (optional) community dinners a couple of times a week and everyone serves on committees. There’s more to read on the website, if you’re curious, and an old article here as well.

There are several units open right now, and we’re falling in love with a gorgeous three bedroom apartment on the third floor. Like I said yesterday, lots of Big Conversations are going on, but we have plenty of time to hash it all out, because the process of joining the community is a long one. We’ve been to a dinner and a meet-and-greet, Michael’s been to one Board meeting, and we spent a night in one of the guest rooms on Saturday. We got to talk to several other residents, and everyone is friendly. (And extra-enthusiastic when we mention the possibility of having kids. All of their kids have grown up, so they’re really interested in getting some younger people back in residence.)

We’re going to another dinner tomorrow night, where we’re going to discuss taking the next steps. We’d join as Associate members, sign up for a work team (I’d love to get my hands on their internet presence, so hopefully there’s room on their PR team), and get on the email list. I love that they’re so deliberate; living in close quarters, you really want to make sure you can get along with everyone. This also gives us the time to finish making the decision for real, get our finances in order for the down payment and line up a mortgage, and gives our landlords now time to find a new renter so we don’t have a big lease-breaking fee.

(Reading back over this, it kind of sounds like I’ve already made up my mind. Hmm.)

Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures. The grounds are gorgeous, but I apologize in advance for the quality of the indoor shots. It was dark in there. We’ll do better next time we get in to see the actual apartment.

Monterey cohousingThis is  the view of the house through the trees from the guest parking area.

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousing

Monterey cohousingThey call this the “Oak Knoll,” out by the driveway.

Monterey cohousingThe sweetest little bench.

Monterey cohousingThe west side of the main building. The apartment we want has the three rectangular windows (though everyone has access to the little balcony on the 2nd floor).

Monterey cohousingMore gorgeous landscaping as you round the corner to the south side of the building.

Monterey cohousingThis isn’t used as the main entrance, but it’s fancy and I like it.

Monterey cohousingThe big lawn out front (dirt rectangle is where they’re experimenting with different vegetation).

Monterey cohousingA local beekeeper has settled some hives here; Mococo will get 10% of their yield in return for the real estate.

Monterey cohousingThe vegetable gardens, including both community and individual plots.

Monterey cohousingThe giant maple at the southeast corner is quite friendly, but it misses kids playing on the lawn.

Monterey cohousingThe east side of the building. Kitchen below, dancing porch above.

Monterey cohousingDown into the lovely woods behind the big house.

Monterey cohousingUp from below. It’s a steep hillside, five switchbacks to the bottom, down a woodchip lined path.

Monterey cohousingKen told us that the kids built this twig igloo. There are large rocks inside for seats.

Monterey cohousingInvasive…something. (Garlic mustard?) Pretty, but kind of disconcertingly omnipresent. They worked hard to rid the hillside of poison ivy, and now that’s done, this is the next target.

Monterey cohousingFrom behind the garage, back up to the townhouses.

Monterey cohousingThe courtyard.

Monterey cohousingPoor lonely playground.

Monterey cohousingThe north side of the building. If I’m not mistaken, the very top two windows on the right would be our bedroom.

Monterey cohousingHaving circumnavigated the property, we see the townhouses on the left.

Monterey cohousingAnd back at the west side.

Monterey cohousingThe common living room reminds me of the parlor at Columbia College.

Monterey cohousingYou can see that Michael made himself right at home.

Monterey cohousingThe big community kitchen is downstairs.

Monterey cohousingAnd the community dining room.

Monterey cohousingThe fancy dance floor on the porch.

Monterey cohousingI think the big bay window would be my favorite reading spot.

So do you guys have any thoughts? Any questions? Do you have a psychic insight you’d like to share?

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Sweden or Spawn?    |    4 Comments »

08 Jun 2014

Monterey cohousing

Our household has been full of Deep Conversations for the last couple of months. Since we’re settled and working toward getting out of debt, we’ve been trying to figure out some capital-g Goals. Michael, who has researched other places to live as a hobby since he moved to Oklahoma in 1998, told me that he’d decided that he wanted to live in Europe and that he wanted us to have babies.

I balked at this double bombshell, and freaked out quietly for a week or so. Eventually I came up for air and shared with him the conclusion that I would be willing to try for babies or move to Europe, but not both. My ability to cope with stress and change is somewhere below average, so either one will be a challenge, but the combo pack would certainly come with a ticket to madness.

I just don’t want to have kids without a solid community around us. Three years in, I feel like I have enough of a support system in Minnesota that it wouldn’t be out of the question. Michael’s Europe vision includes places like Denmark and Sweden; countries that are full of notoriously reticent citizens. I’m 36. I don’t have another six years to build up a network of friends before getting on the spawn train.

Michael was disappointed and I felt guilty, but we are, among other things, best friends, so we were eventually able to talk about things without my bursting into tears. (Eventually.) It’s a Big Deal, obviously, so there have been LOTS of conversations. Long ones, short ones, gchats and emails. Pro and con lists. Suggestions from friends. No conclusions have been reached, though I’m leaning toward staying in Minnesota and attempting to put my uterus to work. 60/40, though if Michael woke up tomorrow certain that he was meant to be an expat, I’d be able to get my head right with that, too.

Another factor has inserted itself into the equation, in the form of a very interesting apartment coming on to the market. Last night, we stayed over at the Monterey Cohousing Community to get a better feel for it – but more on that tomorrow.

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#YesAllWomen    |    2 Comments »

29 May 2014

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Of late, I have been avoiding the news. My respite from depression is fragile, and I protect it where I can. But I pulled my head out of the sand for a little while this afternoon to get a little more context on the #YesAllWomen hashtag. And then I remembered.

When I was a senior in high school, during lunch period, a boy I didn’t know slapped my ass and scampered away. My favorite teacher saw and reported it. Today I am immeasurably grateful for her contribution to justice in the world, but at the time I was mortified. I was called to the office to confirm what had happened, but other than saying “yes that happened, no I didn’t recognize him,” I wasn’t involved in any proceedings or punishments. I do know he suffered some sort of consequence, because I spent considerable time over the next few weeks defending myself to classmates who wanted me to know “he was just playing” and “you shouldn’t have gotten him in trouble.”

I was fat and ashamed of my body. I was seventeen years old and in a constant state of humiliation and loneliness, and instead of saying “Your friend should have kept his damn hands to himself” I could only try to fend off their anger with a response of “I didn’t even say anything.” As far as I was concerned I had done everything right. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t complain, but I was still at fault because I had a female body, and an imperfect one at that. Hell, I suspected I should just have been grateful for the attention.

And I am without doubt one of the luckiest women I know. I live in an area where I feel safe 90% of the time, in a state where I can identify as a liberal and a feminist without fear of violent reprisal, in a country where my having sex before marriage was unlikely to have me killed by my own family. On top of having a feminist for a father, and another for a husband, I get to work in an organization that has empowering women as part of its foundation. Other than my (male, white) college professor who dismissed another (female, black) student’s questions about the possibility of dealing with racist or sexist patients, saying “We live in a post-racist, post-sexist society,” the above story is my personal worst in this area.

But.

My friend M. who was held down and nearly raped in her own bed because her mother thought his persistence was an attractive quality. My friend T. who lost her virginity at fourteen to a neighborhood boy who said he’d kill her little sister if T. didn’t let him fuck her in the abandoned house down the street. My friend R. who at fifteen had to sit on the lap of the creepy grown man next door because she knew if she complained her mom would call her a slut. My friend J. who married a man she didn’t love because he could protect her from the man who’d started beating her after he got her pregnant. My sister, who was told last month at a job interview that she’d look great in a bikini on the interviewer’s boat. Listening from the next room as L.’s husband slapped her around for wearing shorts he deemed inappropriate. S., who awoke from anesthesia to find herself being groped by the dentist, and was too ashamed to tell anyone until she was in her fifties.

I don’t have a conclusion here. We are half of the human race, yet our needs, opinions, desires are treated as a special category. We are expected to “keep sweet,” smile, let him down easy. I can’t object when someone calls me an angry feminist, because yeah, we have a lot to be angry about.

To those guys who get offended at talk of the patriarchy, of women being afraid, who say “we’re not all like that,” I have an invitation for you. Stand over here on our side. We’d be happy for the help. If you aren’t in solidarity with the men being assholes, how about you expend your energy on shutting them down instead of us?

Oh, and thanks, Dr. Harrison, wherever you are.

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Broken/Fixed    |    2 Comments »

05 May 2014
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(Blog is mostly fixed now, if slow. Wrote the following when my eye started twitching from lack of access.)
I am writing this with a BROKEN BLOG. I know I’ve been light on the posting, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you, Photojournal!  Yes, yes, I’ve managed to do better with Instagram what I always wanted to do with you, but you still have a very important place in my life, don’t leave me!
Our seven year old Mac Mini, which has hosted my blog (and the SLF site, btw, ahem), died in the middle of an episode of Game of Thrones last week. Michael took it to the Mac store where they graciously fixed it for free, but then it died again four days later, which I’m told means the hard drive is toast.* We have everything (well, almost everything, see previous parenthetical) backed up so I am not in a state of deep mourning at the moment, but I am agitated and uncomfortable knowing that it’s all in an inaccessible internet oubliette. I also harbor a fear that some old long-lost internet friend will try to access the page while it’s down and think it’s gone forever and never try to access it again, because I am a drama queen and apparently need to panic about everything.
Of course, by the time you read this, the crisis will have passed and I’ll be on to another predicament. Maybe I’ll be complaining about this foot that’s been out-of-order since last summer. Or I could be worrying about the Pagan Unity Festival I’m signed up to attend next month. Grumbling about my commute? Vacillating on whether to buy an apartment in a cohousing community? Wondering if Michael’s going to decide we need to move to Sweden?  Who can say?
Only Future Me knows. Who is Present Me, now. I bet I will have be liking to know things.
____
*but like toast.
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Knits of 2013 – Best Of    |    2 Comments »

28 Feb 2014

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I got excited during the MN House debate for marriage equality and had to knit something appropriate to the occasion. Mandy was kind enough to model.

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Stephen West is a lot of fun. His designs seem to be more art than wearables lately, but Michelle seemed to really like her Color Craving. I enjoyed the knitting of it, but just could not figure a way to wear it well.

IMG_0525I made these for Mary because I loves her. Vancouver Fog is only meant to be a short mitt, but Mary is much more interesting than that.

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IMG_0598Driftwood is a simple pullover with great fit. It’s amazing how something so straightforward can have such flattering results. (Bright pink buttons don’t hurt, either.)

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IMG_1151It is a true measure of how much I love Mandy, and how many great things I expect of her baby daughter Miri that I was able to part with Penelope. I am rarely a fan of knitting toys; they are so fussy, with so much finishing. But this monster is more worth it than I’d dreamed. I put lots of hugs into her so she could share them with the baby. (They can share the sweater, too.)

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IMG_1371Michael’s epic pullover was the crowning glory of the year. So much refiguring, such a great result. (Lots of notes on my project page, if you’re curious.)

IMG_1391It was a hard year in a lot of ways, but it certainly had its high points.

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Knits of 2013 – Part Two    |    4 Comments »

23 Feb 2014

I just realized I have less than I week to wrap this up before I’m well and truly embarrassed for doing a 2013 related anything. I’m going to save the best for last, so we’ll start with the least impressive.

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A Good, Plain Sock for Michael’s Xmas socks, from the yarn he picked out in Canada. I think this was my last YOTS project.

fleshandstone

Flesh and Stone socks, also for Michael. The stitch pattern is mean to evoke the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, but I think the screaming orange kind of ruins the effect.

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I started these Scylla when Mandy was here for Yarnover. Turns out I really like cotton sock yarn, but there’s so little in the way of variety and colorway.

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The Grind Mitten was a kit from the Darn Yarn Club. The pattern is pretty good and the yarn is very soft – too soft, I think, for something hard-used like mittens. I am getting lots of wear out of them, though.

Neil's Layette

I got all three of these pieces out of only two skeins of the only acrylic-containing yarn I have ever loved, Simpliworsted. The hat was fine, the sweater was a great pattern, and the tiger is adorable but is…not a great pattern. Why would you knit that tail flat? Why??

miri

This was my second Baby Bolero. It’s a great tiny sweater pattern, unisex, goes very quickly and has a cute little detail on the back.

My creation

I made three Tulips cardigans; one for Neil, one for Miriam, and one for Micah. I have enough DiC Classy to make at least three more. Not that I want to, but I will.

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My third Clapotis was made for Hope, in a crafting exchange. She painted this triptych for me:

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I’m pretty sure I got the better end of that deal.

Next post will be the best knits of the year.

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I fear that actually posting something when I said I would is going to set a dangerous precedent. But I have all of these tabs open, I can’t let them go to waste, right?

I lost my glasses on the 26th so my eyes are crazy tired, so we’re going to break this up into installments. First, hats!

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 These guys were two different sizes of Wooly Wormhead’s Dylan’s Beanie. That woman is a hat savant, I swear. For Christmas, Becky told me that Nik wanted a knit hat in the blue of Sporting Kansas City. I’ve been itching to knit something for that boy for years, and now that he has a boy of his own, it just had to be a set. I got to do a Google Hangout with Nik and Neil today, and I was gleeful all out of proportion to see both of them in their hats.

I found the right blue at Three Kittens, Debbie Bliss Rialto. I’m not usually a big fan of the mass-produced yarns, but this stuff was splendid, and with the top-down pattern I was able to eke out the two hats from two skeins.

One MonthNeil graciously models his Basic Hat from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd. This yarn was another surprise, Simpliworsted by Hikoo/Skacel. 28% acrylic and I’m a big fan, if you can believe it. I’m a terrible yarn snob – I can’t even handle working with Berroco Vintage, the acrylic-haters’ acrylic. Sweaters with acrylic in them set my teeth on edge, which makes thrift shopping terribly disappointing.  I was shocked at how much I enjoyed working with this. I wasn’t even aware of the acrylic content until I’d been working with it for a couple of days. Nik picked out the colors at Darn Knit Anyway and I bought them without looking. Two skeins made a newborn-sized hat, a baby cardigan and a stuffed tiger.

IMG_1357This hat was an accident. I had wanted to knit a hat to match the Encompass I made from Rain’s yarn, but I pulled the wrong blue chunky yarn out of stash. My mistake went unnoticed until I was done (two hour hat!). The New Quick and Easy Ribbed Hat is a stretchy pattern so Michael got a surprise hat. When I asked him if he wanted it, he said “But…I already have a hat!” I laughed at him, but I laugh with love. It’s gotten a lot more wear this winter than his beloved Amanda Hat. So there.

IMG_1398So then I knit a Hemlock Bough with the yarn I’d meant to use in the first place. This was a fun and very quick pattern (three hours!), but I discovered that I don’t like the way earflap hats frame my face, so I let a coworker buy it from me.

IMG_0618I made the Soda Shoppe Hoodlet for my sweet friend Lori. I adore the ridiculous tassel.

mysteryhat2013This was Wooly Wormhead’s 2013 mystery hat, which is now called Erica. It was a lot of fun, one of the most successful mysteries I’ve participated in. I used up my leftovers from my Traveling Woman, so it’s both pretty and virtuous. The brim is cut from a soda bottle, as suggested in the pattern, but I wish I’d used a flatter/sturdier material. Still, it’s gotten lots of wear this winter.

IMG_0624Encircle has been my go-to hat this season, since I lost my Snail Hat in a snowbank last year. (I still miss that little guy.) It’s really comfortable and the crown is juuust the right amount of poofy that I like. I call it my Women’s Health hat, since the cables look like little vulvae. (Rachel, is that the correct pluralization?) Word to the wise: Glass buttons don’t appreciate being thrown around like their sturdier brethren. That’s just a little piece of advice for free.

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