Life, Flying By

At least that’s what it feels like lately.  This year I don’t have EfM, so my Wednesday evenings are dedicated to prepping for the Thursday docket with  reading and client visits, or, if I am a Very Good Girl and have my work done, I can do the Sip ‘n Knit thing.  I finally got enough things done so that this week I went not once but TWICE:) And the second time was a Yarn Swap this morning! I traded in a lot ‘o yarn and received back another ton to replace it:) – and some tools and old magazines and books! I now have a copy of yet another of Barbara G. Walker’s amazing books – this time of the knitting variety: Knitting from the Top.  (The other one of her books is The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power not a knitting book, but extremely interesting – think I will also get her Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets.) I have enough yarn for a small sweater or vest, another colorwork vest, and about four or five shawls. This will definitely supplement my Christmas knitting! I hope that whoever got what I brought will be able to put that yarn to good use.

Well, what’s been going on these past two weeks?

Work has been very busy, and the usual early fall busy-ness has set upon us. I’ve joined the Women’s Bar Association and am looking forward to the Meet and Greet in about two weeks. Choir and Bells are back in full force as is Stephen Min. This October, John and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and are going to go to Williamsburg for a long weekend.  I’ve always wanted to see Williamsburg and am looking forward to exploring whatever history I can find there.  During Veteran’s Day weekend, the Sip ‘n Knit group has a Knitting Retreat planned at Clagett Center out in Western Merlin – and I’m going!! Yippee:)!! Unfortunately, it falls on the very weekend of the Orchestra of St. John’s first concert of the season – and Nancy is playing an organ solo.  I will be able to make the concert, I think, but will be missing an opportunity to play tympani with them.  That’s a bummer, but I had made plans for the retreat before learning of the musical opportunity, and a deal’s a deal. Why is it that the great stuff all seems to happen at the same time?

Speaking of the OSJ, last Friday, the Howard County Arts Council presented them with their grant award.  A bunch of us went to the reception and then Nancy, Rennie and I went to dinner.  Had a great time. It’s so much fun to talk with them about those very things we are taught to avoid in polite company: religion and politics.  My only regret is that John had to work that night and couldn’t join us.

Yesterday evening, John and I joined our daughter S at her place in DC. It’s a decent neighborhood and she is working full tilt on that PhD program.  Her place was lovely, dinner delicious, and the conversation fun.  We actually got home at about 9 p.m.!  Then we spent the next few hours chatting with our daughter, B when she got home from work – so in spite of our early return to “Merlin,” we were up until 3.  Correction: John was up until 3.  I stayed up another hour and a half to steam block the Rivendell (see below)! You’d think I’d be sleepy now!

On the knitting front, I have all but finished one project and completely finished two others.

Sonny’s Dr. Who scarf just needs the ends woven in and the tassles. All but done.

I finally finished Romi’s Brandywine Shawl.  After blocking it to within an inch of its life, it actually turned out quite nicely.

Also finished a shorter version of Susan Pandorf’s Rivendell Smoke Ring.  It ended up being a rather pretty cowl.  My daughter, B, likes to use those in the cold months of winter – the color of this beautiful Madeline Tosh Merino (colorway: nutmeg) is perfect for her.

 

We have two of our grandangels spending the night with us so their mom and dad can have some fun with friends.  It was a rough day with them today.  I honestly think they both just really needed more of our attention than we could give them. When I finally decided to sit with them and give them a fairly small amount of time and effort, it made a huge difference.  Funny how we forget that sometimes.

Well, they are now safely snug in bed.  “Pop” is partaking of an exhausted sleep and I am typing this as the house is quiet. One daughter is driving the other home to DC and I am waiting up for her safe return.  So I will knit:)  It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Luckily, I will have a little bit of time to sleep tomorrow morning, since we sing the later service:)

Well, dear 2.5, God be with you ’til we meet again:)

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My Knitting is a Hydra

No sooner do I finish one project, at least two spring up to take its place:)

I have lost count. But here are a few things I’ve recently started and aim to finish.  Someday:)

The Dr. Who Scarf for my dear SIL who has been waiting patiently for two years for me to do it. I’ve now about doubled the progress shown in this picture.  It’s actually been a lot of fun.

Lace Shawl #21 from Vogue Knitting Fall 2011

This has been a lot of fun, too, now that I think I’ve gotten the hang of the lace pattern (It’s amazing what not drinking anymore  – well, nothing alcoholic anyway – can do for your lace knitting!) I’ve wanted to use the light grey yarn in stash for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

I’ve also made some progress (believe it or not) on the Aranmor for Danny (yes, in Red Heart acrylic “aran” color, so hit me).

And hey, S requested this hat which I started and finished in one night.  Who knew?

One of the things they warn you about when you go through weight loss surgery is cross addiction.  I thought I’d have to watch the red vino, but I really don’t miss it.  Crack isn’t my thing (thankfully!) I guess it’s this knitting thing. And there’s no cure.

Good:)!

I’ve also been working on a wrap for my daughter K (wife of the aforementioned SIL).  The thing is, I’ve been working on this wrap for her WEDDING three years ago.  It got far too hot that weekend, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it was a perfectly lovely pattern by Lucy Neatby and I didn’t see the point in stopping.  It was on hiatus for a time because I ran out of yarn (Cotton Fleece in white) and the LYS either didn’t carry it or didn’t have any more in white.  Well that changed recently and I’m back on the job.  Of course it does feel a little silly, since they now have two children, LOL!  The good news is, I believe this wrap will go with just about anything  – but it’s not machine washable.  Believe it or not, I actually made a bit ‘o progress on that, too!

 I really like this pattern – the Falling Leaves Scarf  – because it is quite variable and can be as large or small as you want it. I especially love that both sides of the fabric are quite nice.

This morning I woke up to babysit the grandgirls.  John got up around 3 to take the “second shift” so I could go to a small memorial service for the 9/11 victims and survivors. It was a lovely September day, a little hotter than usual. We were a small group, standing within the circles of the little labyrinth in front of the church.  It was a small outdoor service.  The children in the school and some adults had created a huge number of pennants to express their prayers for peace on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. One of the readings, about forgiveness was as follows:

Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done.  It means taking what happened seriously and not minimizing it; drawing out the sting in the memory that threates to poison our entire existence.  It involves trying to understand the perpetrators and so have empathy, to try to stand in their shoes and appreciate the sort of pressures and influences that might have conditioned them…By forgiveness we are saying here is a chance to make a new beginning.

Speaking of forgiveness in the wake of such an extraordinary act of inhuman cruelty is a difficult task.  But then I saw who wrote those words and was instantly silent: Desmond Tutu.

As a fellow worshiper said to me, “Seeing his name took me back a bit.” It was nice to meet some people at church I don’t ordinarily see – and to see someone I hadn’t seen since I joined this church. It was a quiet, unassuming little service and all the more moving for it.

Well, I’d better get to bed; it’s getting late and I’ve got to be up in 5 hours. Yikes….

God be with you ’til we meet again+

I Love New York

There used to be an ad campaign with this title. It always seemed so silly to me.

Until 9/11.

I was born in the New York metropolitan area.  My parents were both native New Yawkas, having grown up within just a few miles of each other.  My maternal relatives were from Brooklyn; my paternal grands were originally from Pittsburgh, then moved to Chicago, then finally settled in New York, my grandfather finding work as a musician that provided a salary, the majority of which was saved in the bank and that fed a family of four through the Depression, when work was scarce for about five years.

Going into “The City” was always a special time.  New York City is so big that it contains five NY Counties – known as “Boroughs.” Manhattan Island – or New York County – is the one we always thought of as “The City.” The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and other skyscrapers as they were called, brought a measure of awe to my young mind, even inspiring a level of fear.

As I said, it was usually a special occasion that brought us to “The City” – visiting Dad at work (and he had some really cool work as a top 40 DJ on WABC); or maybe catching dinner and a show at Radio City with grandma during that special weekend with her the summer between second and third grade. As time went on, trips to the City included sports events in Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, or concerts.  Or just a walk on Fifth Avenue around Christmas, enjoying the amazing window displays of stores like FAO Schwartz, Bloomingdales, and of course, Tiffany’s.

I remember having lunch one day at Tavern on the Green with our dad, and my brothers Dan and maybe Dave.  We had just gone with Dad to visit his workplace and for some unusual reason, he had taken us with him – most likely to give our Mom a break – the twins were probably only about a year old at the time. We had a great time and the lunch was delicious. I remember meeting a man who seemed very nice.  He was interviewing a baseball player who used to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The interviewer was a man named Howard Cosell.:) As we rode home, we drove past Flushing Meadows, where a sign told us it would be the future site of the World’s Fair in 1964.  1964 seemed so far off right then.

There were other trips – to the Circus where our grandfather played in the orchestra and arranged for three elephants to have our names chalked on their backs – a few months after our mother’s all-too-short life had ended in a car accident. There was dinner once at the Top of the Sixes; even the Copa Cabana once. Our father and stepmother once rented a bus to take us all to see the movie about George Harrison’s fund-raising concert for Bangla Desh, a generation before Feed the World or Farm Aid.  In the front row of the section where we all sat were Yoko Ono and John Lennon.

That kind of thing just happened in New York.   I’ve seen actors, actresses, musicians, newscasters, politicians and many others on the streets of New York and it never seemed unusual.   You never felt like you were out in the open when you are surrounded by all those tall protective giants disguised as buildings. Unfortunately, John Lennon found out that this isn’t necessarily true.

There were a lot of trips to the City with friends from school – at a time when a ride on the Long Island Railroad could cost as little as five bucks.  There were dates and dinners and fun.

New York represented the strength of the men in my life.  My Dad always seemed invincible.  He would laugh at thunderstorms, make fun of horror movies, drove like a bat out of hell.  Whenever I was scared in the skyscrapers and their inhuman heights, he would just laugh. Laugh. He was fearless – or at least he was to me. My grandfather worked at a lot of places in the City, playing his flute and sax for many venues.  John’s father worked there – so did John, not far from Grand Central one time and in the Essex House on Central Park South another.  This New York was the future, the result of the ingenuity of a generation that fought the Second World War and won it, that engineered their way out of a debilitating Depression and believed the future was theirs and that there was nothing science and Progress couldn’t fix.

The last thing they would have expected was that some fanatically angry man, whose mind was still in the fifth century, would use those very same symbols of strength to break our hearts. Thank all that’s really holy, he didn’t break our spirit!

This weekend, the media outlets are remembering what happened ten years ago on Sunday.  I’m not going to put any pictures here – there will be plenty to see and remember as the weekend progresses. There will be services to remember the dead and to pray for the living.  And for peace.

I won’t pray for peace at any price, though.  I can’t do that.

The thing is this.  New York is my home town and it still hurts to see and remember (in even greater detail now) the cruelty visited upon innocent people because of “religion.” Because some lunatics decided to play with the lives of people whom they didn’t know, people who never did a thing to harm them. Innocent people. My heart still hurts when I think of it.

But there’s something that still rises up out of the ashes.  The stories of all the people who risked their lives, many paying that ultimate price, trying to help others. The response of the world community to our suffering. The people who even now do everything they can to divorce the lunatic from his religion, faulting him, but not other adherents, for their beliefs – for how many Muslims died on 9/11 also? The stories of love, those last conversations that technology gave so many, a terrible gift no one would turn away.

John and I have lived in Merlin (about four hours away) since1980. Although there were tragedies not far from us that arose from 9/11, it was not there in your face like it was for our New York relatives.  We went for a visit at the end of November, shortly after Thanksgiving, for two disparate reasons: Our kids had given us tickets to see The Producers for our 25th wedding anniversary and a dear priest friend of the family had died and was lying in state in the Cathedral in Rockville Centre. One nephew, then a New York City policeman, now a firefighter (they relaxed the residency rules after they lost so many), was working at Ground Zero. Two and a half months later, the fires were still burning – and they were still looking for remains. A number of our relatives had lost friends and neighbors.  Months later, another nephew named his son after one of those friends. Our hearts broke for them.

There’s a part of the ride up to Manhattan through New Jersey, before you get to the George Washington Bridge.  As you travel north, look to your right and you will see downtown Manhattan.  On that trip, we had been talking and listening to CDs.  When we passed what used to be the World Trade Center, we were silent.

We arranged to visit with my Dad Saturday afternoon.  We had lunch at Tavern on the Green  – it had recently reopened.  Lunch was wonderful. Central park was wonderful, but as my Dad walked outside and looked around, he got a little catch in his voice as he said, “It’s just not the same, is it?”

No, it isn’t.  It’s better. Because it’s home and always will be.

God be with you ’til we meet again.

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Gently Ending

Summer seems to be ending on a gentle note after the havoc of earthquakes and hurricanes.  Labor Day weekend always used to signal the end of summer, harvest and the beginning of the academic year.  This summer flew by – as each one does year after year, taking less time (or so it seems) in the process. I’ve done quite a bit of driving, as I usually do, visiting clients.  Yesterday I decided (and thankfully the GPS agreed) not to use the Washington Beltway to get to Gaithersburg.  It was a very pleasant ride, filled with the greens that signal the end of summer – greens with just a hint of gold on the horizon. It’s still hot outside, but there’s a difference. Autumn is coming very soon.

Before I continue, I just want to express my gratitude for all the workers who came before us, who gave their energy, their resources (however limited) and for some, their reputation, freedom, and lives, so that the average worker has a chance at a decent way of life.  If not for them, I don’t know how many of us would even be in existence today, let alone having roofs over our heads and food in the pantry. So, thank you and Happy Labor Day for all of you who continue the fight (and you know who you are, Dad and Maureen!:)).

Prior to the weekend, in spite of the loss of electricity, I was able to get a bunch of work done.  There’s tons to do yet, but that’s the way it is. Saturday morning, we had the grandgirls over.  It was a lazy, lovely day and a continuation of the wonderful time I had Friday evening, knitting and watching Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg (and Chris) Swansen’s “Knitting Around” – a wonderful video collaboration.

I spent the greater part of that night and much of yesterday evening (once I was done with that visit in Montgomery County) working on the Westknits’ Mystery KAL Shawl.  I decided to work a little of my own whimsy with it.  Instead of intarsia or the two options presented in the last clue, I did a garter stitch, mosaic or slipped stitch pattern and finished with a picot bind-off. I finally got to use the blocking “puzzle pieces” from KnitPicks and their blocking pins.  I probably could have gotten a second set to make things easier, but the one set I got worked just fine.  It was great to block this shawl the way it needed to be blocked.  What difference from merely using an iron to press!

 I unpinned it when I got back from church this morning and was pleased with the result:

Try not to pay too much attention to the messy desk:)!

This morning was lovely – It’s so wonderful to get back into singing with the choir and generally misbehaving in the choir loft.  St. J’s has a great congregation and it’s fun to be back in touch with everyone after a long and somewhat eventful summer!

Also, had a wonderful phone call from Vicki in New Haven about a serious, yet hilarious subject I’m not talking about here:)!

Well, off to the grocery store – about 2/3 of our gang are coming to dinner and I am making my famous meatloaf:) (well, not exactly famous, but the gang likes it). Better get going – the house is its usual mess! Yikes!

Until next post, God (however you understand Her) be with you ’til we meet again.

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