Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Rich Autumn Days

On the last golden days of October, Micah and his Dad visited us. We played in the leaves, drew pictures, made pizza, and read stories. We had a wonderful time. They flew safely home yesterday. The house is quieter as I tuck crayons into the drawer to wait for the next visit. 

Monday, the light shifted a few degrees, tilting the northern hemisphere toward shorter days. Yesterday the wind blew and the trees in our yard let go of all their leaves. Nearby, red and red/orange maples show their colors a while longer. Today is Halloween. The sky is a bright gray and November is around the corner. Autumn rhythms are rich with grace.  

Chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, juncos and downy woodpeckers are in the midst of a feeding frenzy this morning. Since migration patterns are based on changes in light, the birds probably sense this turn toward deeper autumn or maybe they are just hungry. The small red-breasted nuthatches are a new addition to our yard so I wanted to know more about them. More petite than their white-breasted cousins, their light cinnamon colored breasts are just right for autumn. The white-breasted species has a white face with a black cap while these tiny birds sport a white eyebrow stripe above a black stripe that runs across their eye. Each morning, the small birds visiting the birch and feeders are my faithful writing companions. 

I join Kat and the Unravelers although neither my knitting projects or reading has changed. I put the Christmas stocking away while I had company. That project requires quiet knitting time. While watching the early innings of the World Series, I knit the heel flap and turned the heel on a second sock so that is quite ready for car knitting. Click on over to see what other makers are crafting and reading. I recommend both Pachinko  and A Warrior of the People. Both are keeping my interest - one audio and one a hard copy. 

Happy Haunting, Happy Harvest, Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Unraveled is a good description for how I feel this a.m. Yesterday, I picked the last summer flowers and then went to the pharmacy for the first of two Shingles vaccines. Generally I have little trouble with vaccines other than a sore arm, a small price to pay for being less susceptible to illness. I planned to clean house and get groceries but may be taking it easy for a few hours. I was up during the night and don't feel well this morning. Oh boy, I try hard to keep medical issues to myself as there isn't much worse than an old lady complaining about aches and pains. I am just being honest here. We all prefer to be well and I am NOT suggesting that anyone avoid vaccines. Shingles and/or influenza are no laughing matter.

Maybe while sitting on the couch, I will finish volunteer work on a letter campaign to get out the vote. Through an organization called Vote Forward, I adopted twenty five registered voters and agreed to send a form letter along with a short personal message encouraging citizens to vote. The instructions state not to advocate for any candidate or party but to stress the importance of every vote. The goal is to communicate through a personal connection. Other than the occasional yard sign and visiting with local candidates who knock on my door, I have never campaigned. This effort seems important and something to counter the sometimes overwhelming feelings I have about the state of political affairs in this country. If I finish the first twenty five letters, I'll pick up another list. All it costs me is a little bit of time and postage.

I have a little unraveling to do on Norah's Christmas stocking. The stitch count of the yellow stitches is not correct. I was sailing along, managing all the yarn and bobbins. Then last night at 9:45 p.m. when my head began to ache, I noticed a mistake. I know I need to set this project aside about 9:30 p.m. but alas I wanted to get started on the horn. I have three or four rows to unpick, one stitch at a time. If I pulled these stitches off the needle I would make a mess. Since this is a slow-going project you will be seeing plenty of it here. These stockings are knit flat and upside down so that is the way I photographed it. My goal is to have it finished with all ends woven in, lining sewed and tacked in place in order to do a gentle steam blocking by the first of December. Time will tell. I am not quite half way through the knitting.

I am reading two good stories, Pachinko and A Warrior for her People, a work of nonfiction about Susan LaFleche who, in the late 1800's over came gender and racial prejudice to become a Native American woman physician. I've had the book since last December but put off reading it because I knew it was this month's selection for my book group. LaFleche's story and family are remarkable. The author, Joe Starita, was an investigative reporter for the Miami Herald before becoming a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska. He writes a compelling, well researched story. LaFleche kept detailed journals most of her life so he had a lot of primary source material. Starita donates all proceeds and honorariums from his talks and books about Native Americans to a foundation he created. The foundation provides scholarships to young Native Americans. I heard him speak last year and he told wonderful success stories. Reading Pachinko makes me realize how little I know of the history of Korea. The story of hard working women persisting through poverty and political upheaval as they create and sustain their family is engaging. I'm about half way through. 

Bright yellow leaves fall from the birch as I write. Two small nuthatches, dressed in delicate gray blue and light rust are feeding on safflower seeds and storing them in the birch bark. I don't often see this species in my yard so I am enjoying their company. Yesterday I noticed juncos in the neighborhood. They return for winter but I'd rather not think about that today. Tomorrow, one Connecticut grandson and his Dad are flying in for a long weekend on Thursday. My son-in-law is officiating at a wedding so the five year old, not yet in elementary school, is coming to spend some time with us. I told Micah we should rake a big pile of leaves and jump into them. We will also roll out crust and sauce up some pizza. This weekend is going to be fun.

Click to visit Kat and the Unravelers for stories from knitters across the country and then go enjoy this golden October day.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Home to Autumn

I have been away for a bit. We traveled to Connecticut and had the best week with our daughter and son-in-law and their busy family. While visiting I put my phone on silent and used it to take some photos and sent a few to our son and my sister. We shared pictures among ourselves so I wasn't behind the camera as often. Instead of checking the news and fuming over the latest event, I spent more time reading to my grandchildren, holding little Norah, playing ball, and walking a bit with my daughter and the children. I savored every extraordinary day.

We met our newborn granddaughter, Norah and once again marveled at this beautiful new little one - so welcomed and so loved. I played catch with Micah and read to his preschool class. 

We played"diggers" with Jonah and read to him for an hour at a time. We walked Emmett to and from school and played with all them on the playground and indoors on a rainy day. I hoped we helped more than upset their new routine. 

After two weeks of rainy gray weather in Nebraska, I loved seeing the sun above the cloud cover. The travel angels shepherded us out to Connecticut. We encountered no flight delays even though our connection was in Atlanta the day Hurricane Michael swept ashore. Our hearts go out to those picking up the pieces in Florida and elsewhere. 

Perhaps it was a good omen when my knitting matched the color of the sky during the early morning take-off. I cast on socks just before we left. The free pattern with the easy mock cable motif down the leg is a nice uncomplicated diversion from plain stockinette. The sock yarn has a great hand and comes with generous yardage. I knit a sock and a half so this project will go with me to Texas in a week or so.

We arrived home to gorgeous autumn days. The Connecticut foliage was just beginning to turn, a little unusual for October in the Northeast. Today in Nebraska, the crimson maples, the rich golds and bright yellows against a bright blue sky lift my spirits as I miss the hugs and shoulder to shoulder time with Kate and her family. 

After the usual returning home chores and errands, I picked up Norah's Christmas stocking. She doesn't need the Christmas quilt until she is out of her crib but should have a stocking on the mantel this year. I ordered some new-to-me bobbins called E-Z Bobs. As long as I don't make them heavy with too much yarn, they work better. The plastic sides flip open and closed keeping the yarn securely wound. The old-style bobbins constantly unwound creating even more tangled yarn.

I must go out and enjoy this crisp fall day. We are going to pull the tomato and zinnia plants that froze while we were gone. The tomato party is over but the pumpkin spice season is in full swing. To everything there is a season . . .

Have a good weekend. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Ordinary Days

Last night as I drifted off to sleep, the wind began to blow. Today promises to be warm, windy, and sunny. The wind matches my unsettled spirit. Although I try to separate from the cacophony of news coverage, I find it hard to ignore undercurrents of wide division. My feeble answer is to smile and offer courtesy to fellow citizens while savoring ordinary days. This week I joined good friends for coffee and dinner in addition to completing chores, errands, knitting, walking, and reading. Monday I came out of a store and noticed a large flock of migrating birds, perhaps sandhill cranes. I waited for them to pass overhead, hoping to hear their calls. The noise of vehicles and construction across the parking lot made that impossible. Somehow in spite of our strife, the birds respond to patterns of light and darkness in each season.

Late one night, I pulled an old favorite from my bookshelf. Louise Erdrich's Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, published in 2003, is an account of a trip to Lake of the Woods in Southern Ontario. Traveling with her baby and the baby's father, an Ojibwe spiritual leader and guide, she "reads the islands like a book." (Erdrich, 2003) They also visit a fragile island housing Ojibwe artifacts and the large library of Ernest Oberholtzer. In 1912, Oberholtzer, an immigrant of German heritage and an Ojibwe man, Billy Magee, canoed and mapped an area bounded by Lake Winnipeg, Hudson Bay, and Reindeer Lake. As Erdrich reads the island paintings and visits the Oberholtzer cabin lined with books, she explores the question, "Books: why?" as well as the importance of language to the Ojibwe culture. Small beautiful illustrations by Erdrich accompany the text. Although I have read this book previously, I am enjoying her meditation on the North Woods, language, and Ojibwe culture.

Last week I cast on Norah's Christmas stocking but am waiting for another skein of red yarn. I am not interested in playing yarn chicken while knitting a good sized intarsia Christmas stocking. Even though the yarn will be a different dye lot, I plan to use it for knitting her name and the red parts of other small motifs. I found several yarn shops with an online presence still selling the Brown Sheep Lana Loft in sport weight. Now I wonder if it might have been better to order three skeins and just knit the entire stocking in the same dye lot. Time will tell.

While I wait for the yarn to arrive, I picked up scraps of Cotlin, the cotton linen yarn I use for wash cloths. Garter stitch is always a good idea. After knitting blanket squares, I am giving in to the siren call of mitered squares. I have used this yarn enough to be fairly certain it isn't going to fade. Fading and color bleeding has kept me from knitting a sock yarn blanket. That and the amount of knitting such projects require. I admire those of you who do make those blankets. Now I wonder if my leftovers of Chickadee by Quince and Co. would knit up into a scarf or small lap blanket of mitered squares. These squares are a rabbit hole but first I have some gift knitting to do. I plan to savor autumn but as sure as cranes fly south, Christmas will come. 

Today, I join Kat and the Unravelers. What do you read and make on an ordinary day?