A Year of Cow Pigeon

Today is a very special day.

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of my first sighting of Cow Pigeon.

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(Don’t know who Cow Pigeon is? Click here.)

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I learned about this bird about a year and a half ago, but I didn’t see him myself until September 25, 2018. And boy was that an exciting day.

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Since then, I have seen Cow Pigeon 25 times, and have even written a blog post for my university about him. They actually featured me on the university Facebook page for my post about CP, which was delightful, an honor, and exactly how I want to be known.

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So here’s to Cow Pigeon. For helping remind me to keep my eyes open, because you never know when a spotted pigeon can wander into your life and change the way you look at the world.

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Here’s to Cow Pigeon, for helping me get excited over the little things in life.

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Here’s to Cow Pigeon, for helping me connect with complete strangers when I answer their questions about the mysterious bird we’re both gawking at.

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Here’s to Cow Pigeon, for helping me be less self-conscious. I don’t care if people give me weird looks when I get excited about seeing CP. I’m just happy to see my friend!

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Here’s to Cow Pigeon, for making me feel like a National Geographic wildlife photographer when I spend an hour following him around to get pictures like this. (Thank you, iPhone “burst” feature.)

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And most of all, here’s to Cow Pigeon for making the world more beautiful.

The Cow Pigeon Agenda

What? You mean to tell me this little pigeon has an agenda?

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To spread beauty and love throughout the world!

Who knows, he very well might have one. But if he does, I’m not privy to that knowledge. Maybe all pigeons have a collective agenda, because there certainly are enough of them. Now there’s an idea. Pigeon-pocalypse…

But no, this post is simply to share my new writing job, which is a student blogger at PSU Chronicles. I’m super excited to be part of the blogging team. My first post is about none other than Cow Pigeon, and I wished to share it here because I’m so excited about it.

Life Lessons from Cow Pigeon

I can’t describe how good it feels to be earning income from writing (ironic, right, to not be able to describe that?) I’ve been blogging since I was 14 and all that time and practice has been so valuable, owing in large part to your kindness and support. It really is a dream job and I’m so lucky.

So I guess I actually can describe myself as a writer, between Crochet Spot and PSU Chronicles. Man, what an amazing year it’s been and it’s only June!

Is my agenda to tell the entire world about Cow Pigeon? Maybe. 🙂 But what I really want to do is encourage people to get excited about the little things in life – because then every day can be filled with Cow Pigeon levels of happiness. What do you want to tell the world? ❤

Gallbladder-Friendly Vegan Mac & Cheese

Yes, that’s a very specific title, but it’s because I had a very specific need. Last month I was diagnosed with gallstones and, consequently, am limited to a low-fat diet. The good news is that it stopped the debilitating gallstone pain. The bad news is that nearly all my favorite foods are now off-limits (like cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter). So I’ve had to completely change the way I eat. I share this with you not for pity or to regale the internet with my medical woes, but in hopes of helping somebody else with an angry gallbladder!

My mom found a recipe for vegan mac & cheese (it might have been this one) that used pretty much just dijon mustard and nutritional yeast. But I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste, so I messed around with the recipe and came up with this. Since it’s so heavily modified I’m sharing it with you, but I don’t wish to claim any credit.

Gallbladder-Friendly Vegan Mac & Cheese

Serving Size: 1 person
Nutritional Facts: 325 calories and 4.5 grams of fat (all my ingredients are the lowest possible fat content, so make sure you check that)
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz dry macaroni
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegan butter (mine is Earth Balance Natural Butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
  • 1-ish teaspoon water

Directions

  1. Boil water and dump in macaroni. Sprinkle with salt. Let it cook for 7 minutes.
  2. While that’s going, add vegan butter to a bowl so it can start melting.
  3. Drain cooked pasta and dump it into the bowl you’re going to eat it in. (Save some dishes.)
  4. Add dijon mustard and stir until butter is melted and mustard is distributed.
  5. Add nutritional yeast and breadcrumbs. Stir until evenly distributed.
  6. Stir in water so it isn’t so dry.
  7. Optional: Put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm up all the cold ingredients. Serve immediately.

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The weird bit of this recipe is the nutritional yeast, which I guess is the vegan substitute for cheese. It doesn’t taste at all like cheese, but it does have the same texture as powdered parmesan cheese and it helps pasta get all gooey and melty. It has a nutty sort of taste. Be warned that it can trigger migraines in people who are predisposed to that sort of thing, but most people won’t have a problem with it. Basically, just don’t expect nutritional yeast to be cheese and appreciate it for what it is – a different taste sensation.

I have been known to dump this pasta into a Tupperware container before dashing off to the bus stop. College, you guys. Feels like I’m always running late. This pasta only takes about 15 minutes to make, though, which I love.

If any of you guys have experience with gallstones, your expertise would be much appreciated! You better believe a crochet gallbladder is on the way. 😉

The Feminist Knitter

Last year I had my second piece ever, “The Feminist Knitter,” published in my college’s literary magazine. Now that the publication has run, I’m free to share it with you here! I wrote this in response to the Women’s March 2018 and felt today was good timing to share it with you. 🙂

I don’t have a picture handy of the Pussyhat I made, but I’ll edit this post when I get one. Instead, have a colorful crochet divider:

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The Feminist Knitter

It’s January 20, and women across the country are protesting a year of the Trump presidency. My mom, who was stuck in traffic because of the protests, describes it to me that evening. “There were pink hats everywhere,” she says, busily knitting away on her latest sock project. “This dad and his little boy were wearing them, too!”

We agree that this is the cutest thing. He’s raising him right.

“The hats are cool,” I say. They’re called “pussyhats,” based off a remark that Trump made about grabbing women by that body part. “I can’t believe I haven’t knitted one yet.”

“Me neither,” says my mom.

I decide that needs to change. I was too timid to join the knitting rebellion last year, but now I’m ready to take a stand.

***

The Pussyhat was designed by a group of knitters who wanted to create a visual protest at the Women’s March on Washington. It’s a pink hat with cat ears, hence the name “pussy” hat. The pattern is knitted, and I am a crocheter. It would be easier to adapt the pattern to crochet, and there are in fact designers who have done just that. But I want to challenge myself and make the original knit design.

I scrounge through my yarn drawer and produce a ball of pink yarn. The pattern calls for size 5 needles. I have size 4 and size 6, and am far too cheap to buy another pair. I figure that a bigger hat is better than a too-small hat, so I gamble on the size 6 needles.

The pattern says to cast on 50 stitches. I pull out three arm’s lengths of yarn and begin my long-tail cast on, counting under my breath to the click-clickof the plastic needles. When I reach the end, I survey my handiwork and sigh. It took me ten minutes to accomplish the first row. I could have crocheted that in ten seconds.

But, I remind myself, crocheting was slow at first too. I will never improve if I keep giving up.

***

Nobody thinks of knitters as particularly rebellious. The stereotype is that only old women knit, and for hundreds of years it was “women’s work.” It makes it all the more powerful to have a knit hat be the symbol of the 2016 Women’s March.

I taught myself to crochet when I was 14 years old and quickly fell in love with it. It’s my creative outlet and my comfort zone. When people find out I crochet, they will inevitably tell me: “You should sell what you make!” They don’t realize it’s nearly impossible to make a profit from selling your crafts because nobody is willing to pay for all the time spent. Is our time really worth that little?

The Pussyhat is a way for yarn crafters to say: Our work is worth something.

The Pussyhat is, essentially, a knitted rectangle folded in half and seamed up the sides. This makes it the perfect pattern for a beginning knitter. And I am certainly a beginner.

The first four inches of the hat are ribbed. I am happy to finish this stitch pattern and move onto stockinette stitch, but it only takes me two rows before I realize just how long this is going to take. Each row is barely a centimeter long. I’m going to have to knit hundreds of rows before this hat is complete.

I groan and stretch the fabric to see if it will magically grow.

Then I pick up the needles and keep going – knit one row, purl the next…

***

This hat has become more than just a knitting project for me. I wanted so badly to be part of the Women’s March, but my anxiety kept me inside. Crowds make me panic, which prevents me from marching, but the Pussyhat allows me to be a part of the protest anyway. I can’t be on the front lines of feminism, but I can still make a stand, however small. The world needs all kinds of feminists.

The hat comes together in a series of moments. A few rows knit before bed, a few more between assignments. I finish a book for my English class and pick up my knitting. Critique a classmate’s piece, back to the hat. Since the knitting is so monotonous, I watch the entire first season of Friends. Slowly but surely the fabric grows, and I am delighted.

I notice a twisted stitch twenty rows back, and my inner perfectionist wakes from its slumber. I gingerly drop the stitch until I reach the mistake, untwist it, and ravel it back up again.

My mom finishes her first pair of knit socks, and I cheer with her. We are two crocheters learning to knit – a task that once seemed insurmountable. But a little at a time, we are learning.

I have my first French exam of the term, and the knitting takes a backseat as I frantically review interrogative pronouns. Quand est-ce que je finirai ce chapeau? When will I finish this hat?

***

I finish the last stitch and cut the yarn triumphantly. It is full of imperfections that no one but me will ever notice, yet it still quickly becomes my favorite hat. It is my quiet form of feminism.

My French teacher compliments my hat and asks: Est-ce que vous l’avez tricoté?Yes, I reply, I did indeed knit it myself. And I smile.

I have a long way to go on my knitting journey, just as women have a long way to go to achieve equality. But I have faith that one day we’ll get there, one knit stitch at a time.

Originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Portland Community College’s Letter and Line. © Claire G.

College Crafting

I remember the good ole days when I posted here all the time. Then I started college. Now my hobbies are pretty much watching Netflix and sleeping. I just finished my first week of fall classes and thought I would share a college-related craft project.

I’ve been doing more paper-crafting than crochet lately; my thumb is giving me some problems so I’m resting it for a while, and I’ve been having a sticker obsession these past few months. I got bored having plain dividers in my binder so I dressed it up a bit.

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I decorated pieces of scrapbook paper and then stole borrowed my mom’s laminator to laminate it. This one has postcards from Canoe Island French Camp, where I went as a camper and also worked at a few summers ago. The feathers are from Harriet, my chicken, and were collected after she molted them. This one is currently housing my notes for Gender & Sexualities, which is a class I’ve been excited for for months.

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This one is for my French class stuff, if you didn’t guess already. I’ve been taking French since sixth grade (about age 11 for my non-American friends), so it’s been a regular part of my life for quite awhile now! I’m taking a French film class this term with my favorite professor ever, so I’m excited about that. Although the French definitely have different standards when it comes to content, haha.

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I’m using this one for my writing class. The tarot card is from Collage, a really cool craft store with lots of random things – buttons, cards, charms, stuff like that. Or tchotchke, to pull out my $100 word of the day. I don’t do tarot but I really liked how it looks, plus the message seems to fit for a school binder.

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I learned while making this one that if you laminate bus tickets, they turn interesting colors. Thermal paper or something. Although this was a surprise, I still like how it turned out. I take the bus all over the place, so I’ve gotten pretty fond of it. The stickers are also from Collage and they’re my favorite thing ever…it’s Alice in Wonderland!

It makes a nice change having something new to look at. I especially like having Harriet feathers with me. In a future post I can show you my bullet journal/notebook if you’re interested – I use it for taking notes and it has a fair share of doodles and stickers within. I might be a little obsessed with school supplies. 🙂

Thank you for reading! Do you like school supplies? What’s your favorite thing to get for back-to-school shopping?