Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tender 2020

Honore' invites us to post about the word we chose for 2020. Thank you to her for hosting this year's reminders and link-ups. I chose tender. Today is the wrap up of a tender and difficult year.

Tender derives from several root words. First I think of "tenere" - to hold firm, to endure.  Many words evolved from this stem: tender, tend, tenable, tenacious.  And so as the year closes, we endure as we hold firm to what sustains us.  What sustained me this year isn't much different than previous years. Although we are way behind on hugs and meals shared around a table, my family remains as dear as ever to me. Connections to friends near and far are precious. Making and creating with yarn, words, fabric, or thread brings a quiet joy. Being outdoors is critical to my body and soul. The silver lining of this year is a tender but clear focus on what I value.

Another related root for tender is "tendere" meaning to stretch. I would add that in 2020 we stretched in order to tend to ourselves and others. I stretched into creative thinking facilitated by technology. My book group didn't miss a beat as we gathered via Zoom. I watched my Texas grandson play football and my Montana niece play her flute and sing in a socially distanced concert. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I read "The Night Before Christmas" to our grandchildren in Connecticut. My yarn stretches south to Texas and east to Connecticut and to a few other locations.

Questions about tender remain. How to best respond with tenderness to others? I do not know what burdens they may carry. Today the snow falls. At times the flakes are large and tender, yet they find their place. I am home sheltered in a shawl of wool and alpaca and the prairie is snow covered. Still I know the roots of grass and wildflowers rest with tenacious tenderness. They wait patiently for the coming year and a new season. 



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December 23

This morning the sky is gray and the west wind blusters. The landscape is winter brown but now and then a flake of snow blows by the window. Except for the wind, the neighborhood is quiet. Today will be a day in the kitchen. Even for the two of us, I like to bake and cook for Christmas. I plan to make rolls from a recipe for Seven Grain Bread. Using the seven or eight grain cereal is a way to add a variety of grains to bread without buying specialty flours. I also decrease the seeds on top and bottom by quite a bit. That amount just fell off - everywhere. A warm kitchen on a cold day is a comfort. Walking today will require layers of wool and a will to face the wind.   

Late in August a Carolina Wren appeared in our yard. I first heard her beautiful but unfamiliar song in the back yard. I couldn't see the bird but knew I had never heard the song. A few days later the wren visited the bird feeder and I identified it. This little wren hung around through the autumn and because the species isn't usually seen in southeast Nebraska, her presence seemed like a gift. Eventually I wrote this poem for my Christmas cards. (Poetic license lets me identify the bird as a female. The markings for male and female are similar.)

And so, to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a better new year, I post it here. 

Carolina Wren *

November 24, 2020 

A dusty bit of fluff in a striped

mask shelters in the birch.

A warbler from the old world, this little bird,

a Carolina wren, even her name a melody.

Rusted weathered wings

the color of tea in my Mother’s cup.

Pert tail lifted against the wind

that blew her off course, off kilter.

I cannot ask her to stay,

this summer song.

The way forward is far. But

at the edge of the horizon,

a change in the wind, 

a glimpse of hope. 

*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cold Morning

Snow fell over the weekend and the lingering cold means the tree branches are outlined in white. The temperatures rise to the low twenties in the afternoon. Winter is a few days early. Yesterday I watched a bird holiday outside the window. Four pairs of cardinals flitted with robins. Blue jays, two white breasted nuthatches, three red breasted nuthatches, two chickadees and a flock of sparrows visited the birch. The juncos prefer the backyard feeders. The birds are good companions. Today they have flown for a quieter space. We are having new windows installed. We've been on the list since early August. Supplies are tricky due to Covid. The house is noisy and I am dressed in layers of wool. Forgive me if my post is a bit disjointed. 

In knitting news, I finished the fingerless mitts for my daughter. I have enough yarn leftover to make a pair for myself. The yarn is so lovely I want to use it all. Three generations will have the same yarn in mitts. I continue to knit on the poncho. Stitch by stitch I am getting near the finish line. Today would be a good day for a poncho - indoors. Soon. If I am counting correctly, I need about five more cable repeats. My phone is currently working on an update so I don't have a photo. 

I created a Ravelry page for swatch information. I often knit a swatch and then write down the gauge in one of several notebooks floating around the house or in knitting bags. Unless I immediately cast on a project with said yarn, the swatch gets buried in the stash. I hope having information on Ravelry page will make it easy to locate, especially when in a yarn shop. (2021 I have big plans for you.) Anyway I thought I'd give this a try with any new information. 

The yarn for Micah's hat and mittens arrived yesterday so that is my next project. And in the words of Brenda Dayne, I will "knit, knit like the wind." Connecticut is expecting a big snowstorm this week and those grands need their new winter gear. Although I am sure they are not without, I like to think about my hand-knit mittens warming their fingers until I can hold their hands. See plans for 2021.

I am currently reading Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik and enjoying every page. This is a sweet story told through the newspaper columns of a older woman who has had a stroke. Although a character looking back on life is a much used trope, the newspaper columns give it a slight twist. The rest of the story, set in a small Minnesota town, revolves around the characters in the newspaper and community. The characters thoughtfully and sometimes irreverently comment about the large and small events of the day. It's poignant and funny without being syrupy sweet. If you are looking for a light read this may be the story. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers. I hope this week finds you warm and snug at home. 

Ravelery Links

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Small Shifts

Early December and this day is beautiful. The sky is blue and the temperatures continue to be warm. Today's high is forecast for 64 degrees. One of these evenings we plan to walk at sundown to look at the outdoor holiday lights. Since this is such an odd year, I am making some small shifts in our traditions. Small is the key word as we are two oldsters who like our routine (and may be a little set in our ways, ok a lot set in our ways.) Since we won't be at our usual gatherings, I took time to sort through all the Christmas decor and donated some things to a thrift store. We haven't had the big artificial tree out for several years so we got it out. The middle section of lights didn't come on so we improvised. This tree sheds more than a real one. It's a Charlie Brown tree but this feels like a Charlie Brown kind of year. My husband voted to decorate it one more year so we did. I put out a few favorite pieces and left some things in the storage bins. We are going to have a meal of appetizers on Christmas Eve instead of the usual soup. Who knows what other unexpected shifts might happen. Gasp!

Knitting is not going to change though. I finished the third mitten and hat set and am waiting for yarn for the last one. I talked with Micah on FaceTime and he requested a particular shade of blue. I knit his things from the KnitPicks Swish yarn because his very sensitive skin tolerates that yarn. What's a Grammy to do but order two more skeins of yarn in the "right blue?" While waiting for it to arrive, I cast on a pair of fingerless mitts for their Mama. The leaf thumb gusset would show up better in a solid yarn but this is the same yarn I used for Norah's set. I think it will be fun for their mittens to match. Kate can definitely use fingerless mitts in her busy life.  

I finished the first sock of a pair and cast on the second. The stripes aren't going to match exactly (my error) but that doesn't bother me. They'll be another reminder of this off kilter autumn and winter. They make good Zoom knitting. I knit on the poncho now and again. I continue to enjoy it but have reached the "black hole of knitting" stage. In the meantime, I'm looking at sweater patterns and yarn. Santa is set to bring me yarn for Christmas if I can decide on a sweater. Maybe it will be a Happy New Year gift. 

Last night I finished listening to All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. Oh my, what a great story. Even though a mystery has predictable elements, Penny's plots have interesting details with several twists and turns. They are well researched. I enjoyed hearing the French pronunciation of names and places and learned more about Paris. As always, Penny's description of food is mouth-watering and the character development continues. I missed the daily life of the Three Pines crew, in particular Merna and Ruth, but number sixteen was worth the Overdrive wait. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you well and safe. 

Ravelry Links

Emmett's Hat and Mittens 

Striped Socks

Mitts for the Mama

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Tender Holiday

Thanksgiving was quiet but delicious. I talked to my children. On Sunday, we zoomed with my siblings and spouses. It was nice to see everyone's face together on the screen. Thursday afternoon was warm enough for a brisk walk with my husband. As we say, we did the best we could to celebrate the day and remember our blessings.

Each month Honore' invites us to write about the word we chose for 2020. My word is "tender." On this first day of December, I turn toward Advent and Christmas. For me, the turmoil and losses of this long year do not suggest a season spent in search of constant merriment. Instead I am looking for a tender kind of holiday season. Call me the Grinch if you like. 

Candles in various numbers and configurations symbolize the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Light, love, and hope are the heart of all of these celebrations. This year I am setting an intention to honor traditions of the spirit:  kindness, peace, grace, comfort, and memory. I hope to extend and create tenderness.  I plan to light a candle. I hope to enjoy a cup of tea, a warm kitchen, writing notes, reading a Christmas story over FaceTime, and eventually, sitting down with a piece of chocolate to wind a skein of yarn.

Onward into December. A NewYear and a new season is around the corner. 


Candles and the light that comes from them are common to the winter holidays, Advent, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Kwanza, and Hannukkah. 

So as I settle into Advent to prepare for Christmas while others celebrate the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah. 

Holiday traditions create joy. I am thinking this year the traditions will be those of the spirit.