Still Alive:) and well and kicking

Wow – this summer is flying by! It feels sometimes like I have done virtually nothing, yet there have been some wonderful moments! To highlight some of the big news in our lives, “[Great] Uncle Dan” is still with us and we are very happy to have him. The grandchildren are growing like weeds.  J, our youngest, got a job in an immigration law firm as a paralegal.  S, the penultimate offspring, just found out that she will be working for one of the District Courts here in Central Merlin. Gainful, interesting employment is a good thing:) In the extended family, new babies abound:) Our own Littlest Person is getting his own personality and finding his voice – no introvert he!

Our third daughter, B, has done amazingly on her most recent grades – this while working a very full-time management job!

As usual, political arguments abound  at home and in the community-  this has been a summer of (for me) activism. I have been so vocal on the issue of same-sex marriage , Prop 8, and gay rights on Facebook. the internet, and in other public forums (fora?), that our local politicians are sending mail to the member of our family of that persuasion and me on the same envelope! Glad to see they’re saving on paper!  Interestingly, I had an opportunity to canvass people in a local park just before a children’s concert started on the issue of same-sex marriage for a group here called Equality Maryland.  We were quite a diverse group in terms of gender, age, sexual orientation and other ways we all define ourselves [i.e. put ourselves into boxes].  Anyway, it felt a little odd, asking people what they thought.  There was only one openly hostile person who glared at me as if I had been a child who behaved very badly.  Although she was not amused, I found it very amusing, since at 56 plus, I am well past the age of being thought of as a rebel, LOL! Although I was flattered, LOL!

I did get a miniscule – and I mean miniscule – view of how it must be for GLBT people trying to simply live in this world and participate in our society. For a brief moment it was quite uncomfortable. Thankfully, it wasn’t in a dark alley with a bunch of homophobes. Here’s my feeling about religious belief and gay marriage: If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t do it. Live and let live.  Believe me, you’ll feel better about yourself and your God if you do.

Other wonderful things happened this summer – nothing earth shattering, but lovely nonetheless.  In July, I attended a carillon concert on the grounds of the McDonough School in Baltimore County.  Though it was July, and we have been having our nether-regions kicked with temperatures in the 100s (F) and drought, thaeevening was cool and lovely and there was a breeze going that was almost as beautiful as the  father and son -generated carillon music emanating from the chapel tower.  The conversation was fun and the company – Nancy and Rennie S. along with Jan and Jeffrey S. – was terrific!

Other friends, Charles O and his sister Yvonne, visiting from the other side of the pond, came to dinner.  What a delightful evening! The conversation was never awkward, nor was it ever insipid – the talk ranged from comments on the Rector’s homily the previous Sunday to the implementation of Communism in the former Soviet Republic – with just about everything in between, all of it funny! John, Dan and I had a great evening and by all accounts so did Charles and Yvonne.

A few weeks later, I went to dinner with friends and then a movie – a modern re-make of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, complete with special effects and the obligatory scene with the brooms that don’t obey. The movie was ok, but the company was of course wonderful – and I ran into another dear friend at the restaurant where we had dinner – Ellen S! She looked MAHVELOUS! It was sooo good to see her healthy and smiling after a long bout with heart surgeries! In fact she came out the other side looking BETTER than when she went in!

On the work front, although it has been fairly quiet this summer, what with the various Masters taking their vacations and a watermain break at the courthouse that stopped all activities in their tracks for three days, it seems that things are busier in other ways – between visits, briefs due on appeals, meetings regarding clients and a pro bono case I took, it’s been pretty crazy.

Speaking of crazy, the strangest thing happened a few weeks ago.  I was visiting a client who was hospitalized in the pediatric psych unit of  a city hospital.  The hospital was terrific – I have such respect for that staff.  The client was beginning to improve, but still had some way to go. On my way home from this visit, we had a brief sun shower.  I took pictures from my car window, using the cellphone. I was stopped at in traffic, and the view out of my left driver’s side window was the rather wet one you see.  The light changed and I had to continue driving, so I took a picture out of what I thought would be my right passenger side window without really looking (eyes on the road of course!).  The result was the picture you see with what looks to be a red sweatshirt without a wearer to my right. The problem was, I was wearing a navy blue skirt, a navy blue T-shirt, and NO sweatshirt (it was HOT outside!).  There was nothing in the car with me other than my purse, my files, a notebook and the GPS.  No red sweatshirt or blanket, or even knitting. WTF??

I see red people…… Or at least my cellphone camera does.

On to more crazy things:

With the increased heat this summer, we have had more than the usual share of thunderstorms.  And tornadoes. Oh, and did I mention the earthquake tremors? Yeah, it’s been an interesting summer.  But getting back to the twisters.  One Sunday evening, after all the adult kids who have their own places had left after Sunday dinner, a really big storm whipped up.  Quickly.  Nancy,  a dear friend of mine about whom anyone who has read this blog hears a good deal, is from the upper Midwest.  Wisconsin to be exact.  They have tornadoes there.  Real ones.  Apparently so does Merlin now.  She once told me that if you hear what sounds like a locomotive heading for you, get your butt to the basement because it means the tornado is coming NOW. Well, that Sunday night, everyone had left, John went to bed early as he usually does after working night shift all week and not getting much on Sunday during the day.  The three “kids” who are still at home were all upstairs, getting ready for the week, and I, having finished the dishes and put away the leftovers, was seated in my favorite chair in the den, watching Hercule Poirot and Murder on the Orient Express on PBS. Suddenly, there was a huge flash of lightenting, a  CRASH of thunder, followed by the sounds of pouring rain.  And wind. LOUD wind! Wind that sounded strangely like…a locomotive! It happened so fast, and was over so fast, that it didn’t have time to register with me how loud that wind was – and how loud that BOOM was. We didn’t even lose electricity.  It was one of those “nah… couldn’t be” moments – and it could have killed us all.

To this day, my “kids” think I’m being overly dramatic.  But about an hour after this happened, the next door neighbors came knocking on my door.  They invited me outside and asked if I noticed anything missing.

At first, I couldn’t see anything.  And then I saw it. What you see in the picture is a mature black walnut tree literally pulled out by its roots.  Note the proximity to the cars and note the large branch on the bottom, holding the tree up a bit.  It was that large branch that saved our neighbors life.  She had been sitting in the den in their home when the top of that tree hit their roof – the roof of that den.  Luckily, that large branch kept it from crashing right through the roof and killing her. The red car you see in this picture was parked right where you see it – as were the blue one and four or five others nearby.  Lest you think this was the only place this twister touched down, there were three other spots in the woods surrounding the three houses back here that were broken and twisted – a total of four trees.  It seems the thing touched down, came up three or four times in a large arc.  Not one person was hurt and the only damage was to the roof of our neighbors’ home – not cheap but not really terrible.

We were extremely lucky. Three other people further southwest of us in the DC metro area were killed – two of them little boys, one a woman out walking her dogs.

It just wasn’t our time.

On the knitting front, (and a less somber note) I now have about 38 projects on the needles (that I’m admitting to, LOL). But I usually alternate among five at a time.  I know that sounds crazy, but it works for me. I finished the Mondo Cable shell/vest and actually wore it as a shell under a jacket one day to court.  It looked great and fit me fine, but it was too heavy for the weather that day – I think it went up to 105 (F) in the shade! Not a good choice, but I looked good, LOL! I actually finished it at a day of nothing but knitting at the home of our Sip ‘n Knit organizer.  And the picture does not do the color or the wonderful yarn justice! It’s Lavold’s Silky Wool and it is soft and just lovely! Lynn and everybody made sure there were good food, good company and a lot of knitting.  We even had a crafts project in which I made my own stitch markers! Thank you Lynn for letting us invade your home that Saturday and lose ourselves in our knitting projects (as we admired the projects of the others in the group).  And thank you Ellen, for saving us gobs of money by

organizing a big order of Namaste knitting bags!

I am still working on two other Bonne Marie Burns projects: Sandrine (the red thing at right – no it does not look like the “hoodie” in the spooky picture). I am almost finished with this. Am on the sleeves and have ordered a few more balls from KnitPicks of the CotLin – a nice yarn.

The lovely pattern in the grey/blue is her Cassidy hoodie sweater.  The cabling is very easy (note the lovely stitch markers made by moi, LOL). I decided to knit this in (GASP) acrylic worsted weight yarn on size 10 needles, first because I needed to get a larger gauge if I was going  to upsize the sweater and second because I wanted something I could just throw into the wash.  It’s Bernat Super Saver Harvest Color in sort of a grey-blue denim color. I’m getting really nice stitch definition even though the acrylic feels a little rough.  It’s knitting up fairly quickly.  I got this far in just a day or two and I’m not complaining!After blocking and a few washes, it will probably be something good to get me through the fall.

Another Bonne Marie Burns pattern is the Mondo Cable Cardi.  I will be working on that from time to time also.  I’m not as far along with this one, but the yarn is lovely – Cascade 220 wool in a green heather and a pleasure to knit. As is evident, it will be a while before this one is done. This is a great pattern, but I have to agree with Elizabeth Zimmerman in that I really prefer to knit sweaters from the bottom up in the round rather than top town.  When I start a project, I’m more enthusiastic about knitting all those rounds of stockinette and looking forward to the interesting bit of shaping and decreasing on less stitches at the end.

This seems to have been the summer of the lace shawl for me.  I started a number of them in the last couple of weeks and anticipated starting yet another one.  I’m doing another one of Renee Leverington’s shawls – Mystery Shawl #18. No picture yet, but one to come soon.  I’ve also started the Seeds of Change Shawl by Wendy Neal – from ravelry.  It’s on this Cascade Heritage sock yarn in the wild blues, greens and purples you see here.  And, lest I find myself with nothing to do, I’m also in the very early stages of a lace scarf called Oiseau de Feu (“Firebird”)  by Caoua Coffe.

Finally, I have also made some serious inroads into the Miralda’s Triangular Shawl by Nancy Bush from her book, Estonian Lace.  It is a truly beautiful pattern and I am enjoying every minute of it. The construction is terrific – you start with the larger number of stitches and then, by means of a center double decrease and decreases on either half of the triangle, you fill the center in until you end up in the middle of the stitches which end up on the shoulders.  Brilliant, really, and again, easier to finish since you are doing the bulk of the knitting at the beginning when your enthusiasm is at its best.

The pattern changes stitch patterns just when you are getting sick of the one you’re doing, but  enough so  you’ve had a chance to really establish the pattern. This, too, keeps you interested and you are more likely to finish rather than have it sit in the back of a closet somewhere.

Before I go, dear 2.5 readers, I want to add one more sweater: the Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.  I’ve upsized it a bit and intend to make the front sides wider to accomodate my wider self. – and longer to accomodate my thick waist.  I’m using that Lyra silk/cotton blend that I got at the Sheep and Wool Festival this May and it is knitting up quite nicely.  It’s a top-down construction, as you now know, not my favorite, but it’s a nice simple cardigan and sometimes those are the most beautiful in their simplicity. The picture I’m showing here is just to give you an idea of how lovely this yarn is and what great stitch definition I am getting  for the raglan shaping – even in navy blue yarn (the yarn is actually a lot darker than it appears here).

Well, that’s all I have for this episode, dear 2.5 readers.  Hopefully I will have more of substance to report in future posts! Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again!