Bonne Amie's Unraveling

knitting and knabbing

where I am now...
you can find me at

I do more than knit ...

I haven't been happy with the free option here on Live Journal for a while. Posting is difficult and putting in photos cumbersome. I haven't even tried to do videos for a long time.

I am now to be found on Wordpress at bonneamieknits.

it will be pretty much the same content.

Please come visit me at Wordpress!

A Tale of Two Detroits, Parte deux
belle isle
Today was a real Detroit day, what with our bike excursion and the Marche du Nain Rouge* (did not attend, alas, not hipster enough). So our second outing of the day was to give Joe the Matty Maroun Depredation Tour. Most of the outrages can't be captured on camera. Mr. M is one of the most wealthy persons in Michigan or maybe the whole country. He's got a finger in a lot of pies. One of his money-makers is the Ambassador Bridge, which goes between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. A lot of trucks and business go over that span everyday.

Where to start... Immediately next to the bridge is a public park. After 9/11/01, Mr. M decided that the bridge was unsecure with a public park next to it, so he fenced off the park and put up a sign that said because of homeland security the park was closed. It took 10 years to get the fence down.
He was contracted by the State to rebuild the entrance to the Bridge, which is right off I-75, so instead of building according to the plans he submitted to the state and federal government, he built what he wanted and took over several city streets, closing access.

Then he decided that he wanted a second bridge. We want a second bridge too, Windsor wants a second bridge. But where Mr. M wants it and where Windsor, Detroit, the State of Michigan, and the federal government want the second bridge are two different places. He wants the second bridge right next to the first one. Everyone else wants it a ways away. The big difference, besides location, is of course, ownership. The second bridge would not be owned by him. Notwithstanding, he started building his second bridge.

The neighborhood where this all plays out is one of the oldest in Detroit. The oldest (Catholic) parish is located there, St. Anne de Detroit. It's also very close to Mexican Town, and an up-and-coming night club scene.

And it's also the location of the infamous Michigan Central Railroad station, which is featured in any film or music video set in Detroit. So of course, here's my shot of the place, from behind.

We ended our tour with a stop at our favorite downtown local, Foran's Grand Trunk Pub.

*look it up.

A Tale of Two Detroits, parte une
belle isle
Today Pete and I did something that I've been wanting to do for a while. We tossed the bikes in the back of the car and went downtown to ride the Dequindre Cut. What, you may ask, is that? It is a former railroad right-of-way that has been converted into a bike/walk-way. There used to be a commuter train that went from the northern suburbs (my dad took it on occasion) to downtown Detroit. But commuter trains are antithetical to Motown, so they don't exist here anymore. Instead we have a sunken park surrounded by the city, including lots of abandoned buildings. Voila, the entryway to the park:

We also enjoyed the riverfront where there were lots more people strolling and biking.

My impressions from the trip.
Sight: lots of people of all ages and races. Lots of dogs too. Along the cut, graffiti is encouraged

Smell: slightly fishy fresh water smell, one of my favorites (see all the fishing poles).

Sound: heard a pheasant, red wing black birds, and bagpipes.
Touch: my butt gets sore after bike riding for a while
Taste: we had some ice cream as a Sunday in Lent treat while sitting outside the RenCen.

We also rode around the neighborhood a little. It's a combination of old buildings, many abandoned warehouses, and some more modern buildings. There are even old brick streets.

Here's a picture that captures the dual nature of the area (old/new, abandoned/thriving)

More knitting.
knitting hands
As I said before, inspired by Melanie, I decided to knit for length. So with the 4 skeins of yarn I bought at the Santa Katarina market in Rivoli last fall, I made a wrap, selecting a pattern from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker. This particular book is her first book of knitting patterns and it is just knitting--no directions on how to make sweaters or other objects, just knitting patterns and it is up to you, the knitter, to figure out how to use these patterns. So I picked a nice looking pattern and made it into a wrap, which in my mind is a wide, long scarf.

Here is the wrap when it's all knit but not blocked:

Here it is after blocking:

Since I finished it and blocked it, however, the weather has been in the 70s and 80s. Not really suitable for wool. Fortunately, the temperature has gone back down to something more normal for this time of year!

Query for any knitters out there: when you're doing a cable pattern where do you put the cable needle in between cable stitches?

knitting hands

I finished the socks I started in March 2009. it wasn't a difficult pattern, just kinda boring.

Still knitting
knitting hands
It's hard to squeeze in with everything else going on, but I am still knitting too. I just finished a pair of nordic style men's socks, started and finished within a month. They turned out pretty good. I am more than half done with a pair of socks that I-ahem-started in 2009 on my trip to Israel. The bag with the unfinished sock reproached me everytime I saw it, so I finally got my nerve up to look at how much was left to do--basically one whole sock. It's doable!!
In the spring I started a lace scarf with laceweight wool. The problem with lace is that it requires a lot of concentration, so I can't do it with company present or often even with the tv on. So that got set aside. I looked at it the other day. I really like the pattern, so I hope to get that one going again.
While in Italy, I was inspired by my sister's massive knitting output. I bought some yarn there and decided to make a wrap out of it, basically an extra wide scarf. I was going along pretty well with that, then made a mistake in the pattern and at the time, couldn't figure out how to correct it, so that got set aside.
With my collection of unfinished projects, I take after my mother. She recently gave me a bag with a sweater that she started several years ago that she finally decided she would never finish. On the other hand, I'd like to emulate my sister in Italy who cranks out LOTS of knit stuff. One of her secrets is podcasts. I'm gonna try that--I think I could knit lace and listen to podcasts.

Home Sweet Home
Campus Martius

Detroit, the Renaissance City. The City’s motto is incredibly apt: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus. (Roughly, we hope for better things, they will rise from the ashes).

I have been reading various blogs that are written by young hipsters with families who are “urban pioneers.”* They write about their adventures in the City, about how it’s not that bad, about how things will get better (vid. Motto). They are amusing blogs to read, many are well written, and many have excellent photography.** I applaud the attempts by these bloggers to raise awareness of life in the City, but sometimes their pioneering spirit gets on my nerves. Some of us just go ahead and do it.

I did have that enthusiasm once, though. Detroit was known as the Renaissance City back then too. I raised my sons in this city, they graduated from high school in the city, one graduated from college in the city. I have worked my whole life in the city. Somewhere in that time, though, I lost that loving feeling. Yes, most of downtown is better now than it was 20 or 30 years ago (in some aspects). But stray too far off the main streets of downtown and you’re back in a wasteland.

I just don’t think a handful of hipsters living near downtown is going to change the city. Sorry. The “business as usual” mentality here is too entrenched. It’s always been my belief, too, that this city will only attract large numbers of productive, tax-paying residents (i.e., middle class families) if the schools are fixed. The public schools in this city are a disgrace and have been, despite repeated, drastic attempts to fix them for many, many, many years.***

When my kids were pre-school age, there were several families living on our block with kids the same age. One parent suggested that if we all sent our kids to the neighborhood school, we could make a difference. She was probably right, but when push came to shove, no one wanted to put their child’s education in jeopardy sending him or her to a substandard school. (One parent did and her son only lasted through kindergarten.) The parent who initially advocated public school ended up sending her sons to a very expensive private school in the Pointes. By mid-grade school, most of those families had moved to the suburbs. My sons graduated from high school in Detroit, but it was from a private school less than 2 miles from our house.

I visit other major cities like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Indianapolis and I see what city life could be like and I despair. I have given up hope that Detroit will rise from the ashes.

*and white. If you’re a black hipster raising a family in Detroit it’s not pioneering.

**I don’t want to put in links, but if you’re interested you can look for a blog about a Belle Isle home, one about Detroit being the next Hamptons, junipers that are sweet, and links from those blogs.

***Schools, obviously, are not the ONLY problem. There are many other problems that sociologists and urban planners have been wringing their hands over for years. Maybe fixing the other problems would fix the schools. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

New Year's Day Plus One

Yesterday, 1-1-12, was kinda dreary and ugly, raining most of the day. Today we went out and enjoyed the last day of vacation taking a walk at Cranbrook, one of my favorite places to walk in the city. It was cold and snowing lightly, and there were very few people there. We had a good walk (and then a great lunch at Lockhart BBQ).

Whatsamatta U?
End of the old year reflections and beginning of the new year reflections.

2011 was a difficult year for many of my friends. Some got unwelcome medical diagnoses; some had work issues; some had deaths in the family. It was a hard year for many people around the world. i think in particular of those living in Japan and dealing with the huge disruptions in everyday life from the earthquakes and tsunami. For me it was just another year with ups and downs. Another year of going to a job I don't particularly like, another year of violin lessons; another year of yoga (on the plus side, 2 times a week!). A year of helping friends deal with losses and unwelcome medical diagnoses. I hope that I have been of some help to my friends in need. I lost a little weight (yay), gained a little back, but less than I lost, so that's good. I played the violin in church a few times, notably all by myself for part of the prelude on Christmas eve. On the other hand, my husband's work situation is bad and not getting any better, unemployed and not looking for work while still dealing with the fall-out from his last job. My job in family court is depressing and unrewarding. It's a paycheck and health benefits. And I get vacation time at the job, so I spent a week in Italy, a good trip!

What about 2012? I will continue to pray for the health and safety of myself, my family, and my friends. My doctor wants me to lose more weight. I'll try but I don't want to be so focussed on weight that I lose sight of living. I will continue to help my friends to the extent possible. I don't foresee any major changes in my life in the next year, and that's good! Generally, it's a quiet and undramatic life and there's nothing wrong with that.


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