Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Eve

On this Thanksgiving Eve day, the ground is covered with light snow. Early this morning, streets were coated with the wintry mix that fell between yesterday's snow showers. More snow and wintry mix is forecast for tomorrow.

I wonder if we will travel to Omaha for Thanksgiving with my sister's family or stay tucked in at home. Yesterday I picked up a few Thanksgiving menu items should we stay home due to weather. Regardless, our reasons to give thanks are the same: warm home, knitting, books, health, friends, family, safe community, clean water, and an abundance of food. The list could go on.

This hymn comes to mind, "For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born clean water and bread." I wonder how we create such a world.

My sweater is coming along swimmingly. It is a joy to knit. I finished yo-yo-ing up and down the first sleeve. I wonder if I have ever knit a sleeve as specified in a pattern. Last night I cast on the second sleeve which will go more quickly. I am looking forward to wearing this sweater. Sometimes stockinette in the round is the perfect knitting.

I read some familiar and some new-to me poems in Ask Me by William Stafford. What makes the rhythmic cadence of words so peaceful? I wonder about the relationship between the rhythm of poetry and the rhythm of quiet breath?

I wonder if all these green dry leaves will fall before winter.

I never wear a cardigan I knit years ago but the wool yarn is lovely. I bought the yarn in a shop in New Hampshire a trip celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary so it has some sentimental value. Could I reclaim the yarn to knit a different sweater? I wonder if I have enough yarn to knit a top-down sweater. Do I want to tackle this project?

Words and how they are used make such a difference. I wonder how anyone can think otherwise.

A bully of a robin chases all the finches feeding on berries in an ornamental pear tree. Why? Isn't there enough for all? I can't imagine the robin could eat all of them.

On a blustery November day, a blue jay clings to a small branch at the top of a full grown locust tree. Why doesn't he seek better shelter?

I wonder if I really spotted a Carolina wren? If I correctly identified the bird, it was north of its usual habitat.

I wonder if I'll find an idea for a Christmas poem. Every year I have similiar doubts but eventually an image or thought comes to me. As my daughter sometimes says to her children, "patience grasshopper." A little more faith would also be a good thing.

If as my teabag tag says, "The voice of your soul is breath," is wind the soul of the earth?

As I read After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet., I wonder if women (in first world countries) choose better life partners than they did in the 19th century. Do today's women have more agency in their work and/or choice about vocation? I marvel at the persistence of Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter Millicent Todd Bingham. How many stories have been lost because powerful institutions took advantage of work done by women or men without status? This tangled history of the publication of Dickinson's poems and letters is fascinating and well written. The author does a remarkable job of sorting and presenting facts and documentation. She clearly identifies speculation and inference. In my opinion, this book is excellent nonfiction.

My seven year old computer has been in the shop being cleaned and tuned up. I wonder if I can get six more months of use from it. This weekend I'll catch up with blog reading and perusing Ravelry.

I'll link this journal of wonder to Juliann's site about Just One Word - 2019 and Kat and the Unravelers. Stay warm and safe if you travel this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November Skies

Now it is November and the sky changes from day to day. Yesterday's sunset was glorious. This morning chickadees play in the birch. A few days ago, I might have seen a carolina wren. I used the Cornell website to identify the bird. Although a marsh or house wren is more likely in southeast Nebraska, the coloring didn't match. Besides I don't live near wetlands or a marsh unless you count the city pond surrounded by grass a few blocks away. The juncos are back for winter and as I walk bird nests are visible in the trees.

Hooray! The hat and mitten sets are on the way to Connecticut. Sunday I knit the neckband on this sweater. Pardon the unglamorous "at home, no make-up, in old jeans" photo. The designer provides instructions for a scooped or cowled neckline. I wanted neither, preferring a less scooped neckline. Using three sets of Ravelry notes, I crafted a neckline that lays flat and makes me happy. (Method is specified on the project page for this sweater.) I so appreciate Ravelry.

Now I am fiddling around with the needle size for the sleeves. Different needles, wood as opposed to metal and double points instead of circular, change my gauge. The size 7 DPNs made a somewhat tighter gauge then the body and the 8's make a slightly looser gauge. Last night it seemed like the tighter gauge was more noticeable than the looser one. So which sleeve gauge would you choose - slightly looser or a little tighter? If I magic looped the sleeves I could use the same needle I used on the body but magic looping drives me crazy. I forget to pull the cable and end up having to reset the stitches most of the time.

If you are looking for a seasonal/gratitude themed picture book for a child, I recommend The Greatest Table. The artwork is beautiful and inclusive of people around the world. The metaphor in the poem/text is about the connections between human beings around a table as well as the notion that there is enough for all. The poem begins: "The greatest table isn't set/ inside a single home-/ oh no, it spans the continents,/and no one eats alone." The book is a thoughtful way to walk into Thanksgiving week. Cranberry Thanksgiving is an old favorite and In November is also lovely and warm.

Today is our 42nd wedding anniversary. We were married on a cold clear November day - the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We had a Sunday wedding to avoid the University of Nebraska/University of Oklahoma football game the previous day. I wasn't coming down the aisle to "There is no place like Nebraska." The date made the father of the bride, the best man, and the groom happy. Only in Nebraska. We are grateful for all the years - through thick and thin - together. I am grateful for a loving supportive, steady spouse. Being who we are, we are going out for a nice quiet dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I link with Kat and the Unravelers on this Wednesday post. Enjoy the November skies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

November Days

November weather blew in this week. Monday we woke to light snow on the ground and flurries in the air. The November winds mean business. The blustery gusty cold wind makes me thankful to be a knitter. I have worn a hat, cowl, and mittens for walking and it is definitely wool sock weather. I am grateful to be warm on these November days. I am also grateful for memories of my Mom. Her birthday is November 7 so on that morning I picked up a latte in her honor. She preferred good black coffee but now and then on a holiday she stirred in a little whipped cream. Here we are in our younger days. 

Mom was a registered nurse, a lover of her family, friends, dogs, autumn, and ordinary days. She was a grandmother and mother extraordinaire as well as a lifelong learner. I am the oldest of her four children. Whatever positive things any of us wanted to pursue were wonderful in her eyes. As a volunteer for the American Heart Association, she taught CPR classes for years. In those days, she needed a life-sized manikin, Recussa-Annie, for her classes. The manikin she used was owned and housed by the fire/police department. Before class, she would pick up Annie, stand her up in the red VW Beetle. Then with Annie's head and upper chest sticking out of the sunroof, off Mom would go -  through the streets of Norfolk, Nebraska to class. In the 1960's as a college nurse, Mom taught sex education, first aid, and organized a Wellness Week. When she discovered Ms. magazine, she subscribed for herself, my sister, and I. When she passed away, many women told my siblings and I that she was their best friend. She was also our best friend. She died at 72 of multiple myeloma. This last illness was terribly sad for someone who had been healthy all of her life. Now the good memories of her seem more present than the sad ones. I am grateful for those many memories.

I love this photo of her with one of her dogs. She had just picked the last of the autumn mums in her yard and then given Zeus a drink. She didn't care that he splashed water on her pants and was licking her face. In fact she probably knelt down do he could do so. Although she never would have left the house in pink pants and a red coat, she just grabbed the red jacket for warmth on the November day. 

I think of her as I knit hats and mittens for my grandchildren. She often suggested we wear a hat to keep warm. Whenever we arrived with a dog in tow, she asked if we had given that dog a drink of water. She would have loved all of her great grandchildren. I am knitting the fourth and last pair of mittens and then off to Connecticut they go. I am anxious to get back to my sweater because it will be warm on these cold days. And I have lovely shawl and cowl yarns calling my name. 

I am listening to Time After Time, a novel set in the 1920's and 30's. Most of the story takes place in NYC with a brief Paris sojourn by one character. The history of Grand Central Station is an integral part of the story. Having this book come in on my library holds after recently having been there is a nice unplanned coincidence. The story is based on a touch of magical realism, a good thing on a cold November evening. I am about to give up on Savage Beauty, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. It reads like a long list of events and excerpts from letters that would have benefited from more editing. I thought I wanted to read about Millay because Mary Oliver was influenced by her poetry. I wonder if Millay's poetry might be a better way to learn about the connection. Live and learn, there is always another book. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you a little magic under the November sky. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wednesday Unraveled

I walk under the November sky. I find the light exquisite, grays and blues that stretch the autumn season. Outside my window this morning, I watch the dusty green leaves fall in a blustery breeze. Not all of them turned. This year the local colors are subtle. However we were treated to the bright colors of Connecticut over a week ago. Time with our daughter and son-in-law and four lively grandchildren was glorious. Spending entire days with them is a luxury. We walked the older boys to and from school, read, played, attended flag-football. I read to Jonah's preschool class. We shared meals and read bedtime stories. We missed Halloween but did attend "Trunk or Treat." The evening was beautiful and the car trunks/ hatchbacks were decorated to the hilt. The event sponsored by the church raised a good donation for a new children's theatre that will be open to participation free of charge. My daughter and her family went as "Norah for President." Norah was dressed up with two brothers and parents as her Secret Service entourage. Micah opted out of the Secret Service and went as a flag football player which was ok too. Every family needs an individualist with a strong will. Right? The stickers read "Vote for Norah." And isn't that what we do? Vote for all the children of the next generation.

My daughter, husband, and I spent one day in New York City. We rode the train into Grand Central and then walked and walked. We went into the iconic public library (the lions are being rehabbed so we might have to return some day) and St. Patrick's Cathedral. We stuck our noses into the corner of Central Park. My favorite part of being in the city was the diversity of faces and languages being spoken around us. Beautiful. We also had a few chocolates from a little shop in Rockefeller Center. We didn't plan the matching outfits but it helped my husband keep tabs on us.

And now we are home. Any day I cross the Platte and Hudson Rivers in the same day is a good day. We love to go see them and we are happy to be home.

All of this is to say my knitting feels a little scattered if not unraveled. Still I am joining Kat's meetup for Unraveled Wednesday. I took a sock project with me to Connecticut and managed to finish one sock. I kitchenered a toe in the airport gate coming home and and cast on the second sock. The yarn color way, Nor'easter, proved not to be prophetic - thank goodness. I was too tired and the flight was too bumpy to knit as we made our way home. Monday I washed the raspberry sweater and pinned out the neck. When it is dry, I'll pick up the neck stitches. In the meantime I'm working on the hat and mitten sets for the kids. Last night I knit the top and little i-cord topknot on Norah's hat. I'm not sure I like the top knot. I plan to add a leaf so maybe that will help. I have Norah's mittens and Emmett's hat and mittens to go. I'd like to get them in the mail soon. November winds are blowing and winter is coming.

I enjoyed The Downstairs Girl for its wit, plucky heroine and story about an unknown (to me) piece of history. The ending is a little optimistic but it was a good read. I am currently reading the latest Bess Crawford mystery, A Cruel Deception. I like the Charles Todd ( a mother son writing team) mystery series set during and after World War One. A familiar set of characters is a nice way to return home. I am also reading Ask Me, a centennial collection of William Stafford's best known poems. I admire his thoughtful work and life. I purchased the book from the Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita. It seemed appropriate as Stafford was born and grew up in Kansas. Jonah and I frequently read his current favorite, If you Take A Mouse to School, via FaceTime. He loves to see the familiar cubby, blocks, and science experiments. "We have those at my school." he tells me.

Take a peek at the blog links listed in Wednesday Unraveled for reading and knitting inspiration. In the meantime, I hope the November wind blows good things your way.

Friday, November 1, 2019

October Journal of Wonder

What would happen is we all made a cup of tea and read a poem?

From Tracy K. Smith's Wade in the Water : "What is the soul allowed to keep?" (poem - Landscape)
I wonder how to answer this question - the feel of the wind, the mauve at sunset, the moments with dear ones, . . . 

I wonder what sort of shawl this yarn wants to be? I wonder about creating my own design.

Why do the birds lift my spirits? How shall I care for them?

What will become of scraps of paper and yarns when I am gone?

I wonder if my Montana niece has ever tasted semmel (the family hard roll)?

I wonder what word I will choose for 2020?

What do I choose to attend to? How does my attention affect the way I see a blue October sky?

Where are the chickadees? Am I seeing fewer birds or is it the power of suggestion from reading articles?

Why is diversity so disconcerting to some?

I wonder what I could learn from the leaves? Perhaps letting go is as important as holding on.

I wonder if it is possible to outgrow friendships? or do they just change?

I wonder why I've only now learned that peppermint oil is a balm for some mild tension headaches.

I wonder when I will see the first measurable snowfall.

Although I am a little late to the party, I'm linking with Juliann of Chasing Stories to post October's Journal of Wonder.  And into November we go.