Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tender April Days

Today Honore' asks "How has (your 2020) word shown up in your days? From these tender April days, I pulled a few scattered thoughts.

Words spin webs of multiple perspectives. A strand of the web branches to reconnect with a day or a thought elsewhere. In January, I chose the word, tender. Tend is embedded in that word. To tend is to gently consider. Whatever I tend to shapes my hours and days. What am I tending during these days in the pandemic?

Webs are sometimes blown by the wind and torn apart. Some days I feel a deep sadness at the number of deaths and loss of health. Each number on a graph represents a life and the totals are overwhelming. I am very sad about the way this disease disproportionally affects people not fortunate enough to have a safety net. Even though Nebraska has low numbers compared to other states, I read (tend to) the statistics because I want to honor the loss.

As restrictions are loosened, what is my tender, my currency? What do I value? That is, what are we, what am I willing to risk/exchange for the health and safety of my community?  There are no easy answers.

The spider repairs a web over and over. As I tend to loss, I nurture hope found in the dandelion and wild violet growing through landscaping ties. Spring days, warm sunshine, and changing skies all turn the earth toward summer and abundant growth. As I hold the sadness, I also tend a wild unreasonable hope that this season is a doorway to a more just society. As my daughter says, "after the storm comes the rainbow."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Knitting and Reading

After 4.5 inches of snow last Thursday, Spring reappeared. The snow was a beautiful wet fluffy variety that melted the next day. The reappearance of green was glorious. Slowly but surely I'm cleaning winter debris from the garden and flower bed areas. I don't have elaborate or large garden areas, just enough dirt to keep me happy. Today I hope to tackle the strip along the fence where I grow perennials. Earlier this week I pulled the weeds out of the vegetable patches. I can almost taste a fresh tomato warmed by the sun.

Yesterday I wove in the ends on Kate's shawl. I'm going to take a deep breath and send it off to her. The yarn worked beautifully for the shawl. I'm sending it with hugs and love across the long miles.

Knitting with scraps feels like play. Since my winter walking leg warmers are old and saggy, I am randomly striping these scraps to make a new pair. It took three times to cast on the right number of stitches in the circumference but now the project is easy car knitting. Where might we go, you ask? Last week we drove out to a lake/recreation area about 40 minutes from our home. Once there we took a walk and watched pelicans on the lake. We have been attending the Saturday evening Carillon in the Car concerts. Last Saturday it was a beautiful slightly warm evening in the neighborhood. The fifty seven bell tower, originally dedicated on Memorial Day 1931, stands as a symbol of hope and endurance. It has quite a history. I took this photo last Saturday.

I'm enjoying knitting on the gray sweater but too much time with it makes my shoulder and neck tight. I pace myself. The shaping along the sides has a nice look. I like the meditative quality of this pattern with this yarn. I hoped to finish at least the body before summer arrives but maybe I'll have to change my plan.

I am reading and enjoying The Secrets We Kept. I was a young child during the 1950's and remember hearing about the cold war and civil defense measures of the day. We did bomb drills at school where we hid under our desks. In hindsight, that probably was as useful as hoarding food and toilet paper during a pandemic. Each time and place has it's own misguided actions. I just finished reading A Divided Loyalty, a mystery in one of my favorite series. Reading about familiar characters in a familiar setting and structure is soothing even in a murder mystery. This one had some interesting twists and turns. I did miss the protagonist's strong willed, well connected Aunt Melinda.

Thank you for your suggestions regarding coiled knitting needles. The boiling water method worked well for the Addi needle I was using. I just looked back at a blog post and noticed many photographs do not display. I'll see if I can figure out what is happening. Blogger is not the most reliable platform and technology is challenging for my aging brain.

Now I will link with Kat and the other Unravelers and later see what I can learn about posting photos. It might be time for a change.

I hope you are well and safe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Safe Passage

A heron could teach me something about patience and waiting. Often she stands perfectly still for long periods of time at the edge of a wetland, stalking her prey. These days I am less than patient and often restless with the unknowns. The best medicine for me is to limit my news intake and go outdoors. Every morning I step out onto the deck and take a few deep breaths and remind myself of my good fortune. Sunday morning I stepped around the hail and mess of a storm that drastically changed the weather and offered Easter snow flurries. This week is cold and windy in Nebraska so I bundle up in my winter coat and warm woolens. I am glad I procrastinated with the washing prior to summer storage.

I finished Kate's shawl and will block it this week. I hope to make some progress on this sweater while the days are cool and a blob of wool still feels good in my lap. The shaping is interesting. A designer who can transform an idea into a pattern is a marvel. This photo shows the beginning of the A-line shaping of the body.

In her book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, Terry Tempest Williams wrote about the tradition of a container for tears to honor grief. Several years ago, I wrote a group of poems about containers. I publish this one in honor of poetry month.

I Would Craft a Container*

I would craft a container to honor empty and full,
     dark and light, summer and winter:

A cradle for space between stitches,
     caesura between lines, windbreak in the grass

An envelope for words fragile as the tiny white
     feather lost in a prairie gale

A basket to shelter postcards carried by the wind
     or messages from earthworm and tiny dry leaf

An empty nest for gray sky and bright sunshine,
     a container for safe passage through ordinary days.

*copyright Jane A. Wolfe

As I link to Kat and the other Unravelers, I wish you a safe passage to ordinary days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

This Week

During this hard week, the world turns toward Spring. The daffodils bloom and the grass grows. The tulips and iris send up green spears. Easter and Passover will be celebrated. Yesterday was a gloriously warm day. My husband mowed for the first time this season as I cleaned out the herb garden. Cutting back last year's lavender, sage, and oregano, I caught the scent of summer and what I hope will be better days.

My knitting is much the same and I am not complaining. I finished the last baby hat. This week I added a couple of lace sections to Kate's shawl. Last night I tinked back two rows to correct a mistake while listening to an On Being podcast. The fix was relatively simple and predictable. I love the perfect patterns of lace so I was happy to take out the rows.

I don't know if you can see it, but this needle is quite springy. It's an old Addi that has been stored in the packaging for quite awhile. If anyone has a remedy that relaxes the cable, I'd love to hear from you. Once I noticed a local yarn shop owner stored circular needles in a fabric case supported on a wire clothes hanger. The needles slid through fabric sleeves with tips hanging from either side. I imagine gravity kept the cables from becoming springy. However it was messy looking and the needles weren't labeled by size although I suppose that problem could be solved with a permanent marker. Any ideas?

I finished Virginia Woolf's, A Writer's Diary. Her comments about own reading and her contemporary writers are interesting. She also often wrote about being "headache - y." I know about bad headaches and am thankful mine aren't terribly frequent and can be treated with modern meds. Woolf lived through World War One and died in 1941. During the early years of WWII, the Woolf home in London was bombed. The couple also dodged bombs at a home outside of London. Of course they were fortunate to have somewhere else to live but watching a second world war develop and having bad headaches without modern medicine must have felt overwhelming. Those things combined with other health concerns, briefly noted now and then, must have become unbearable. All of this gives me a better understanding of her life and death. Sometime soon I am going to read one of her novels and pair it with diary entries about the specific book.

In lighter reading, Jonah and I read Kitten's First Full Moon in honor of the last night's spectacular full moon. My daughter took the three boys out to look at the moon and we looked at it here at the same time. It was a sweet moment.

I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers this week. Thank you to the emergency responders, the medical personnel, the grocery store and drug store staffs, and everyone else who keeps this upside down world from unraveling.  I hope you are safe and that Spring brings you comfort and peace.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


Hello April. Hello to warmer days, sunshine, daffodils and a walk on the prairie. Yesterday I took a long walk on the Spring Creek Prairie. Temperatures were in the mid sixties and the wind blew gently across this timeless land. The tall grass is just waking up under the gold and brown of last year. The green of late spring and summer is yet to come. Yesterday I was surrounded by sound. In a low spot near the pond, I heard peepers. Water in the pond rippled under the wind. The meadowlarks are back from their winter range and they were singing. The familiar five note melody rang out from every direction. I never did see one but their music will fill the prairie until autumn. Once onto the prairie and over a ridge, I sat down on the ground. Traffic noise from the nearby highway receded. I listened to the soft rattle of wind blowing through dry grasses. I walked and sat on a bench or rock to listen and then walked some more. Those few hours were glorious. As I walked out of the prairie toward my car, I saw one eastern bluebird before he took flight.

In real time, today is Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and the Unravelers. My projects remain mostly the same. I am making steady progress on this shawl and the above sweater.  The next time I sit down with the Coast sweater, I will put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and set up the side body detail. I am waiting for daylight knitting hours so I put the stitch markers in the correct places. I considered putting the yoke on and taking a photo but I now officially have pandemic hair. I am not complaining just being truthful. 

In honor of my new great nephew, I am knitting a few preemie hats to donate at a later date. He arrived earlier than his due date but is gaining weight and doing well in the NICU. So far so good.I can't imagine the unit would accept anything from the outside right now and I heartily support that policy. 

Since April is poetry month, I ordered a copy of an anthology, Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems. Poems by familiar and lesser known poets are included. It's a treasure for these days.    

Today and always, my grandchildren bring me joy. This is the sign they made last week to hang in their window.  Love is also timeless and it will carry us through. Take good care. Happy April.