Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sometimes the mail delivery is not worth the walk to the mailbox, but this morning was different.  This morning there were TWO parcels!!!  O happy day!  Here's the group shot -
The Signature circulars have been on my mind for a long time, so I treated myself.  They are seriously awesome stilettos! The cable is so smooth and straight - the needles themselves are pointy and have 'lace' written all over them!  
Look at that pose - they seem to heart me back!  There were other needles that arrived earlier in the week - these are about as sensuous as needles can get - just a peek ...
If you go to The Panopticon you can read all about these DPN's.  Everything that Franklin says is true, and then some.  Back to the packages ...
I follow Katherine's blog religiously.  She is an artist, a farmer, a gardener, a baker, an apron maker!  Mostly, she is a power of example to me of how a person might live a meaningful life.  She rescues old donkeys and goats.  She provides a safe and comforting environment for them to live out their last days.  I made a tiny contribution and she sent a lovely bag of lavender buds - so fragrant, evoking high summer afternoon thoughts of the garden, with the bees at one's elbow - her reverence for life, for ALL life, inspires.

When I think of the good work that she is doing, this George Bernard Shaw poem comes to mind, and I hope that she is reading me - I'd like for her to know how much of a treasure she is, how much she and her work means to me.

This is the true joy of life
The being used for a purpose
Recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
The being a force of nature
Instead of a feverish, selfish 
Little clod of ailments and grievances
Complaining that the world will not
Devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life
Belongs to the whole community
And as long as I live,
It is my privilege to do for it
Whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly
Used up when I die,
For the harder I work the more I live.
I rejoice in life for its own sake.
Life is no brief candle to me.
It is a sort of splendid torch
Which I've got hold of
For the moment
And I want to make it burn
As brightly as possible before
Handing it on to future generations.

You are a Mighty One, Katherine!  Thank you for your kind and compassionate heart.  Thank you for your lavender pouch, I'll treasure it!
Before I go, I want to leave you with this guy ...
This is our old dog, Jack.  He has good days and not-so-good days.  Today he seemed to sense imminent spring in the air- he jumped and hopped like a youngster.  His needs are different now, slower and more measured movements, sometimes confusion in the middle of the night and disconnected barking.  But - he is loved and pampered and we moderate our steps to match his - we watch his diet, his weight, his intake, output.  And he always gets to ride in the truck to the deli on Sunday mornings with his beloved Scott.  When I think about the increased effort that one small dog requires, my mind reels at what Katherine at Apifera deals with on any given day.  Don't waste another moment - go read about Apifera Farm!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

jellybeans and jewels

The holiday candy aisle at the local Hannaford is awash in my fav candy;
Russell Stover jellybeans tell the story - that I have managed to survive Christmas, stumble through Valentine's Day, and am fast on the road to Easter!  I think that it's going to be all right.

My BFF Patty and I knitted together on Sunday.  We each started the Citron shawl in a breathtakingly beautiful yarn - it's Maple Creek Farm Norfolk - a silk, cashmere and woolen treasure.  The fiber is so soft and agreeable that it practically knits itself.  If you could have seen us trying to figure out the beginning of this pattern you would think that we were perfect morons.  It took about 15 to 20 minutes before we grasped the meaning of 'alternate' rows.  Duuuhhhh...  but once we GOT IT there was no turning back ...
The last two days have found us texting and calling one another to see who is finishing first!  At the moment we are neck in neck on round three -
But I have had to stop often to admire my beaded bracelet.  It looks so at home resting against this fiber with its pale pink and grey and pearl beads - as if these two were meant to be together.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

the blues

This may not be the CURE for the blues, but it surely makes me feel better.  Starting a new project is uplifting, no matter what.  Do you remember this cashmere?  It's off to the races - the 'Karen Shawl' has begun!  And Jodi, if you're following, zip it!  It's a secret.  Oh, and Jode?  Thank you for everything - you and Stephen warmed my heart with your goodness and concern.  I DO have the tupperware!  (the muffins were amazing AND demolished early on!)  I love you.  Always have, always will.
Karen's Shawl is the perennial 'Wing of the Moth' by Anne Hanson.  She is the only designer who can make me throw my conviction to the wind - the one in which I declare NEVER to knit the same piece twice.  This will be the (clears throat) third Wing.  The first two live at my house!  This pattern defines intuitive knitting which is a very good thing.  I do not wish to rip out cashmere mistakes.
Our house is filled with flowers.  Although I wish that the reason they came could be different, I am still very grateful for the beauty and fragrance of each bouquet.
This arrangement arrived early in the week from my coworkers.  After that, I kind of lost track.  We did ask for donations to the local SPCA, but some people march to their own drummer!  I like it and I'm not complaining.
How about a closer peek behind that lily?  There's a photo of Hilary and me when she was so small - precious.
The inlaws have a place on Candlewood Lake in Ct where we spent many summer days, bare footed and sun kissed.  Hilary never took to the life preserver!  Even at an early age she was declaring her freedom but, she always lost on that one - thus, the scowl.  (The rubber pig in the background belongs to Jack.  He becomes consumed - fierce with protection whenever Harley approaches it so we have to hide it).  
My sister forwarded this portion of an Emily Dickinson poem earlier in the week.  

The bustle in a house
The morning after death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon earth-
The sweeping up the heart,
and putting love away
We shall not want to use again
until Eternity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

last sunrise

Valentine's Day sunrise was exquisite.  I grabbed the camera without forethought.  I didn't know that it would be my father's final sunrise.  And what a show it was -
The Creator pulled from all corners of His palette.
Moments later-
We buried my father today.  We had Color Guard standing sentinel.  We had a military send off at the grave site.  We are patriotic people - stirred by service and love of country.  My father would have liked all of this - he would have approved of the arrangements that his wife and daughters put into place.  His heart would have been glad - so many came to say goodbye, to share stories, to laugh, to weep, to honor the man that they knew.  Good bye, father of mine.  I am so grateful that your suffering is over.  Alzheimer's stole so much of who you were from us that I have only my memories of the good old days, not of your last days when you no longer recognized your loved ones.  
I will miss you until we meet again.


Sunday, February 13, 2011


My friend Pauline adores chocolate.  It's hard to purchase this confection for her because her standards are so high!  But I've found something - something deliciously chocolate, something decidedly decadent.  Classic Elite Montera - 50% llama, 50% wool.
It is just the right weight for a Portland winter - I can envision it wrapped around her shoulders, protecting her from those maddening winters that boast rain with the snow!  Not to mention the wind.   It won't arrive for Valentine's Day, but that's ok.  She and I both understand that patience is a virtue - especially when one is waiting on Something Hand Knit.  
I have been spending a lot of time with my sister and my mother as we revolve our posts at the nursing facility.  My father is slipping away and we are standing (and sitting) sentinel.  Tomorrow we will have Hospice come for the first time.  Just in case I'm unable to pop back in here- wishing you all a loving and love-filled Valentine's Day! I'll want to hear all about your flowers and chocolates and dinners and gifts - I'll need your vicarious thrills!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

avoiding housework

Avoiding Housework is my forte.  I've transformed this discipline into a fine art!  I'm considering offering online lessons - free of charge!  One of the most valuable aids in avoidance is the Hobby/Craft/Fiber Obsession tool.  If you have it, you always have an excuse ace in the hole.  Do you love to sew?  To knit?  To bead or paint or draw - to write or quilt, etc?  You've just passed the course with flying colors! 
And one more tip - it always helps if you splurge on containers for your tools - baskets, plastic bins, boxes, shelves, etc.  You want to be able to SEE your tools if and when the housework calls to you!  Avoidance only works when you are properly equipped for dangerous moments!
Hoping to get to the quilt shop today to find a valentine-y backing for this piece.  My red collection is dangerously low and needs infusion.  Infusion is different than acquisition.  Don't ask.
I took this image the other day before I backed this little piece.  Love is like this - full of light and shadows and especially difficult at times to see.  If you believe in it, truly and fully, sometimes it comes into view.   I am learning  that love does not bend to demands or wagers, or any kind of trickery.  In its authentic form it never leaves - it dwells within and shows itself in its own time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

a new day

The sun is shining.  My cyber friends have talked me down from the ledge.  I thank you so very much.  I'm reassured that I don't have to apologize for expressing such raw feelings last post.  Thank you for that, too.  I have placed myself in the arms of the only people who 'get it' - my women friends.  You provide a soft cushion and the fall was not damaging because of your care and concern.  I am learning the things that I needed to know, again!

I have some closure to post!  Hilflowers is finished, finally.  Not blocked, but all ends tucked in.  I like to block outdoors, under the apple trees.  Currently, there is a 2 -3 foot wall of snow between the trees and the back door, so this piece may have to wait for blocking.  
It's so pretty - Anne Hanson is a brilliant designer.
This shawl took an awfully long time to complete, but it was a pleasure in every sense.  
I came across my old Rowen DK and Kidsilk cardigan and thought that they might like to meet -
After all, they'll both become part of my archival fiber trunk - pieces that have long outlived their usefulness, but are too special to be relegated to felted pot holders or draft keepers!  I can envision myself as an old crone, wobbling about in my gardens wearing this piece - frayed elbows, moth holes ...
I wonder if it will still fit me when I am stooped over with an old lady hump!  This sweater was a labor of love, inarguably my favorite and most expensive to knit -  I think that it was a Kaffe Fassett design - Wanda, does that design look familiar to you?  His quilt and knit designs are so interchangeable and timeless.  A back shot, just because...
My friends have suggested that I take it easy today and care for myself - to relax.  So I looked up the definition of the word relax and stumbled across THIS, which I think is quite interesting.  'RELAXIN' (ri-lak-sen) A female hormone secreted by the corpus luteum that helps soften the cervix and relax the pelvic ligaments in childbirth.  Women have always known - in fact, by nature we are in synch with what matters.  We are complete - we are ALL, contain ALL, that we need.  Now I can move toward forgiveness.
auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

no excuses

Today I decided not to make any excuses for myself.  This is an illuminating exercise- try it sometime.  I made it through the entire morning w/o one lousy excuse.  It wasn't until later in the afternoon that I found myself excusing my silence to my coworkers.  I informed them that it was due to a profound lack of sleep coming off the night before.  Once the first excuse rolled off my tongue (like butter, folks) there was a snowball effect ... one right after the other!  Bottom line - I left work early.  I'm home, tucked in, and silent again.  The blog beckons...

Something is happening here.  In the place where I have felt safest, an uneasiness has slipped in.  It occurs to me that I am no longer comfortable being alone for long stretches of time.  It isn't that I don't like my own company, I do.  I am a person who is rarely suspended or even remotely pit-stopped in 'nothing to do'.  I don't understand the expression 'idle'.  What does that mean?  Idle=death.  We'll have plenty of time for Idle in the Great Hereafter.  I am busy.  But I am also uncomfortably stalled with this new mystery.  This confusing place.  Perhaps my spiritual connection has been shattered.  I do feel like things are coming apart.  This deep longing that I have for safety and kindness and the absence of suffering is not exactly panning out in the ways that I'd hoped for.   Maybe I need some valium.  Maybe I need to pray.  Maybe I need a brilliant and funny companion.  Mostly, I need, I think, to stop waging war on this Enemy who seems to have taken up space in my head.  The Enemy informs me that I am weak and defenseless.  The Enemy makes things go bump in the night and then sits on the stoop, smoking a cigarette and laughing at my fear.  It tells me that it's ok to be Christian or Buddhist or Feminist, but never ever Afraid..   It tells me that I am going to end up alone, working the graveyard shift at the 711, lipstick on crooked, bad hair dye job.  Alone.  Maybe it's time to send the Enemy to St Bart's.  Or dump it off a pier into the Hudson River.

There was a time when possibilities existed in a perpetual way.  I remember being beautiful and smart and secure.  I remember when significance was somehow conjoined to the Chanel counter at Bloomingdales, the shoe section at Bergdorfs.  I drove a brand new Saab, I had an Important Job, most of my clothing came from Louis of Boston,(women's section) and Robert Todd,but I had a lovely Chinese taylor who made my three piece suits.  I was on the top of my game.  I was miserable.  I had a Job.  I wanted a Family. I longed for love.  I had no idea what that meant - what that looked like.

Maybe I am a malcontent, through and through.  What I know tonight is this; it is not ok to be sitting alone, at this time in life, while my 'companion' goes off to indulge himself on a road trip.  I am deeply unhappy with his choices - his ability to leave me behind to witness my father's imminent death alone, a passing which colors the landscape of my existence in all ways, preventing any possibility of joy, of wonder.  Is it wrong to need more - to expect the reciprocity of affection and devotion that one has showered over the other during THEIR time of need?  Am I just patently stupid to think or ASSUME that this is possible or just?

I have never bought into that "Women are from Venus ... blah blahBLAH.  Men KNOW.  And they know deeply, in their core, in their bones, what is right.  What is wrong.  Scott, you have abandoned me.  You have neglected me, my feelings.  You have, in your perennial self-serving way, taken care of yourself - followed your passion, your needs, scattering my fears, my hopes, to all corners of Nowhere.   I hope that it is  worth it.  Truly, I do.  If I am here when you return - you'll be the luckiest man alive.  Don't count on it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

maybe it will be alright

These last few days have presented some real challenges.  I feel sad and weary.  There are situations at work which have come to a head and need addressing.  There are issues at home which seem insurmountable.  And last, my father has a fever, is not eating and probably has pnemonia. Did I even spell that correctly?  I don't think so.

I worked in my sewing room this morning while the snow and freezing rain had their play date.  I knew that I would stop when the roads were passable so that I could pick up mom and take her to see my father.  Until then - I sewed.
I like the clean no-nonsense graphic of this print.  I like that I can wedge it in next to virtually ANY fabric and it will enhance; it will cause the union of fabrics to sing.  I had something in mind ...
And, as is always the case in piecing - one good fabric leads to another and before all is said and done, it becomes absolutely clear WHY I hoard build a substantial STASH!  Fabrics are like oil paints or colored pencils - it is impossible to have too many.  The same is true of yarn.  You all know it's true!
Everyone in the northeast is talking about snow and ice and the like.  It's been a banner year.  Here's a shot of our icy palace -
Harley has been struggling with the snow.  His weight makes it impossible to leave the paths without getting bogged down.  
Last night he left the path because the icy surface of the snow sneakily supported his weight - for at least 500 feet before he plunged through the snow.  I have no images because the camera was the last thing to consider - I had to make a path out to him to bring him back - he was totally incased in chest-high snow and powerless to go forward, sideways, or reverse!  It was frightening.  I was afraid that he would hurt himself while he struggled to find his footing (which did not happen!).
I am worried about my father's condition.  When we arrived at the nursing facility we found that he was placed on oxygen - a first.  One never has time to prepare for these changes, no matter how hard we try.  We make little jokes and call him Lazarus because he has defeated his odds, time and time again.  It's that good German/Dutch stock, we say, he's indestructible.  He'll outlive us all. 
But that is not going to be the case.  And I know it.  I feel this in my bones.

When I went out to the feeders this morning, my heart sank.
At first glance, there was one solitary feather.  But then, as my eyes focused in the dim morning light I realized that there had been an assault.

Mother Nature, I know that the hawks have to survive, just as the chickadees do.  But my cardinals?  My cardinals gather around the feeders in large numbers - sometimes tipping the scales at 14 or 15!  I am completely committed to feeding this community and I don't know how to assimilate this loss.

It breaks my heart.  The only consolation is that I offer safflower seed every day.  So, my cardinals have a hearty breakfast - a substantial lunch, and their scarlet beauty, which moves me beyond expression, is supported in the only way that I know how to care for them - by providing good seed and fresh water year round.
It occurs to me that my father's condition is somehow connected to this loss.  Don't ask me how.  I am unable to process feelings these days - I just go with the flow.  I have faith - I pray.  Maybe it will be alright.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

back to the grind

It's back to work for me today, after a day and a half off.  I enjoyed this time so much and especially because of the one thing I DID NOT DO ... housework!  There was reading -
There was a lot of cooking and baking - pot roast on Tuesday, chicken and dumplings on Wednesday and two loaves of honey oatmeal bread (mom will get her loaf today! Ours is almost gone.)
I pulled out my Magic Bullet and will make myself a smoothie to take to work this morning - blueberries, flaxseed oil, wheat germ, cranberry juice (watching Dr. Ox and talking to Patty again!)  I have resolved to eat more sensibly in 2011.  I probably could have cut out that third slice of homemade bread!  More than anything else, I worked in my sewing room and played with the dogs in the great white winter landscape.
My Valentine runner is coming along beautifully - the reds are very intoxicating to work with!  As I put these cottons together I think of how smashing it would be to have such a quilt on the bed, reserved for the dreary month of February.  I'm still on the self-imposed fabric diet.  This includes new projects.  (sigh)
I was about 300 rows short of finishing my Hanson Hilflowers shawl.  Something didn't look correct.  I checked the chart and dammit, I had left out rows 13 through 16 ... TWELVE ROWS BACK!  This is a first for me.  It is a humbling experience!  I have to go frogging -
I'm pretty sure that it's HIS fault.  It's difficult to keep count when the snoring factor is so loud!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

hand quilting and compensation

Snow, snow and tonight the illustrious cousin to snow - Freezing Rain!  woo-hoo, I LUV the northeast.  I hauled myself out of my warm nest this morning, thinking that the college would be on a delay.  No such luck.  SO I asked the Big Guy to drive me in, and he complied.  It was a treacherous trek.  But here's the part that really has me frosted - the college never called a delay. They closed down at 8:30 when 95% of the staff was already on the road, risking life and limb, to get to work.  This is just WRONG.  I am beyond pissed.  WAY beyond.  Compensation, folks - OVERTIME!  Show me the $$$$ - nothing else will do.

When I finally arrived back at the haciendo, I started a pot roast and pulled out the Boat quilt (Baby James is getting ready to make his debut.)  Suddenly, it occurred to me!  Why would I consider machine quilting when my thread box overflows with splendid colours made specifically for the symphony of needle and thread - nipping in and out of flannel and batting and quilt top in that lovely little rhyme ... 
I've MISSED my hand quilting - it's been such a long time since I engaged in what was once my favorite pastime.  I can remember when it was necessary to quilt 10 stitches to an inch.  LOL.  These days I am happy if the thread is gorgeous, doesn't knot, and my stitches follow each other in a semi straight row!
I'm enjoying this process very much.  OH!  A package arrived -
WEBS is having a grand sale.  That ethereal pink shade keeps finding its way to me -
Does anyone have a wonderful scarf pattern (cables preferred) for a delicious chunky weight yarn?  I might have to resort to my own design work!  
Harley DOES. NOT. CARE.  Knitting is not on his mind.  He wants to go outdoors and chase those big black crows away from the feeders.  Andrew gave him a bath this past weekend and he's still feeling peevish and cranky about it.  The new duck toy and chewie bone are pale compensation.  He prefers butter.