The raw energy and presence in this rendition of our national anthem will ever be etched into my memories of reports from Woodstock, NY in the summer of 1969. Was I there? Hell no! I was only 15 and my folks would’ve taken gas, LOL:)! But did I wish I were there? Probably not. I was just as happy to listen to and view the performances from the safety of a seat at the movies and later, at home watching TV and marveling how so many thousands of people, probably stoned out of their minds, managed to laugh and love and enjoy without killing each other. Besides, with my incredible insecurity about my physique, the nudity alone would have scared me off!!
Recently, I saw a documentary on our local public television station about Garrison Keillor – his humor, his writing and his music all brought to the forefront in his weekly radio show, The Prairie Home Companion. If I came away with one thing from that piece, it was something he said about Americans in general. That we are basically kind. I agree with him. Sure, we have issues (says she rolling her eyes significantly), but we really are kind. It’s in our genetics. I have experienced that kindness in many ways as a child, a teenager, a young adult and now as an older woman. Have we all experienced it in the same way and to the same extent? Probably not. But it’s there. Earlier this week, I had a conversation along these lines with a dear friend who came to this country as a young adult. This friend agreed with my assessment and believes that this essential kindness is part of our cultural makeup. There’s a story I’d like to share with you that I may have written here before. And I may have a few details incorrect, because I heard it second hand, but bear with me:
At the outbreak of the second World War, my high school German teacher was a very young teenager. His was not the typical German family of the time (if such a thing existed even then), in that, as he put it, his parents taught him to think for himself and didn’t make him stand and salute them when they walked in the door. He was not a fan of Hitler’s and as it soon proved to be, Hitler was not a fan of his. While still a teenager, he was caught committing some act of vandalism on the Nazi flag and was incarcerated. I don’t recall in which prison he remained for the next few years, but it was in Berlin and, on a 1970 trip to Germany with a number of fellow German students for which he was the accompanying teacher, we visited that prison. The ashen grey tone and the hard lines his face took while we toured the place were a silent testament to what he endured there. In fact, when he finally left there and sought out his mother at war’s end, he was about 19 years old, stunted in growth and very unhealthy. His own mother literally did not recognize him as he stood at her door. But I get ahead of myself.
The nights before last day our teacher was in this Berlin prison (Ploetzensee? Spandau?), Allied bombs were shelling the countryside, each night getting louder and closer, until they were sure they would die there, experiencing the same fate as those in Dresden (assuming they even knew about what had happened in Dresden at that point). After a particularly frightening night of bombing, he and his fellow prisoners awoke to a jail that had been left open. No guards were about. Fearfully, tentatively, they made their way out of their cells (still thinking that this could be a trick to “catch” them trying to escape) into the courtyard. Somewhere from across the street, someone shouted to them (in German of course) that the war was over – Berlin had fallen to the Allies and a surrender had been signed. Overwhelmed from months of deprivation, he fainted.
As he slowly came back to consciousness, the very first thing our teacher remembered seeing was the kindly face of an American soldier, saying, “It’s OK, buddy.” and offering him some chocolate (ah chocolate, a universal language all its own, isn’t it?:)).
After the war, he made his way through resettlement camps – his mother remained in Berlin until her death many years later, I believe – and there he met his wife (our other German teacher) and the two of them made their way to the U.S. where their two daughters were born. I used to babysit their girls when I was a senior in High School. They were nice kids and they seemed to be a close-knit and loving family. It was Herr M. who kindly wrote me a recommendation for Middlebury College where I was to major in German and Music. It was in the Catholic Church adjacent to which I was to marry four years later. As the wedding was over and we walked outside the Church to form a receiving line, who should be walking up the street right in front of St. Mary’s Assumption Church but the entire M. family!! One of our wedding pictures is of the bride, literally flying down the steps of the church to give them all a big handshake while exclaiming “Ich kann’s nit glauben!!”
His story is one of so many who came here to start a new life, to grow a family and to live free. But it’s that kind soldier who personifies what I love about my country. I am not naive enough to think Americans are perfect – seriously? We have our problems – politics in which one side demonizes the other in horrid imitation of a holy war; poverty for which there is no excuse; and a host of other problems. But I am naive enough to believe we shouldn’t give up trying to make it better. And we should never stop being kind.
So happy birthday to my country. If you are reading this and are from another country, I welcome hearing from you the things about your country that you love. That’s what makes us interesting, don’t you think?
So, 2.5, what’s been happening since last we met?
I have started a bunch o’ projects, finished a couple and John has finally FINALLY started to recover! A few days ago, he turned that corner – you know the one? – the one where you start to know that you’re getting better. For him it was when he could get rid of the pain pills and stop feeling drugged. The back surgeons did a fine job as did the abdominal surgeon. He went through a seriously rough patch, and we came to find out we could very easily have lost him to sepsis had we not gotten to the hospital when we did. As I said to him a little while ago, he must have more to do, since it’s not his time to go yet. Of course not far from any of our minds was Tom and his death at a FAR too young 65!
On the work front, I am cautiously optimistic. It appears I will have a job, barring unforeseen circumstances, for at least the next three years, thank goodness. I get to do what I love! Yippee!
On the home front, one of our daughters is preparing for her wedding in August, thanks to the voters of Merlin and the US Supremes, she and her fiancee will be able to do so. For some strange reason, I’ve been drafted to sing with the other mother at the nuptials. I hope my daughter will someday forgive me. Later this Fall, John’s sister and brother-in-law will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary – but they’re still kids – how’d they do that?! While we’re down in Florida, we will take the opportunity to go visit my parental units nearby. Hopefully at least one of our progeny and family will be able to join us.
On the knitting front, I have been all sorts of busy.
The crocheted cotton “bowl” on the right is being discarded for something a little less complex. for the rock holder I was designing last we met.
I finished Wendy D. Johnson’s Summer Mystery Shawl. I now can say without exaggeration that I now have completed TWO mystery shawls in the time the clues were given! The only other one I have done is Stephen West’s shawl from 2010.
Having knit this on size 4 needles, I expected it to be a wee bit too small and it was. But that’s OK. crochet hook and the remaining half ball of yarn to the rescue! Following the line of the bottom edge, I crocheted on two rows of single crochet, then two of double crochet, then a lacier treble crochet, chain 2, treble crochet edging, which I finished with a row of single crochet. That used up all but a few inches of the yarn and gave me just enough extra substance to the thing.
I have long been a fan of Wendy Johnson’s blog, and her books: Wendy Knits, Socks from the Toe Up and Wendy Knits Lace. In fact the only book of hers I don’t have is her sequel to her first sock book: Toe Up Socks for Every Body. Oh well, can’t have everything:) but I do want to go back to her lace book and knit everything in it! This was a lot of fun and helped to while away the time in hospital waiting rooms and sitting in with John as he slept. The construction of this shawl is exactly the way I like to knit – the arduous stuff at the beginning with the interesting bits getting you through to the end. Well done, Wendy:)!!
And she lives not far from me! She actually taught a knitting class to some members of my Columbia Sip ‘n Knit group a few years back during a knitting retreat on Merlin’s Eastern Shore. Speaking of Merlin and speaking of Lace, I recently downloaded Dee O’Keefe’s latest pattern on ravelry – Catoctin Shawl. It’s a lovely mix of lace and cables, reminiscent of the beautiful lacy overhead view of the foliage in the Catoctin Mountain region of Western Merlin. Hers was done in a beautiful Kelly green, and I have some lovely green sport weight, but about 400 yards worth. The amount of yardage needed for this beauty will likely be approximately 800 yards, so I need to do some serious stash diving among the lace and fingering weights to be sure I have enough. More to come in later posts.
I have also been working on the Craftsy-based Custom Yoke Sweater Sipsey’s Folly by Amy Detjen, renamed by me as “Fugue’s Folly” only because I’m a smarta$$. I bit the bullet, knit both sleeves and spent a long night knitting as I joined the sleeves to the yoke. Now I’m ready to chart out the yoke pattern I’d like to do. Hmmmm, looking forward to that this nice long holiday weekend (for some reason there are no hearings scheduled for tomorrow, unless of course a client of ours is sheltered for some reason – what a shame, more time to knit….).
And speaking of Miss Amy, here’s a better pic of my progress on the Norwegian Rose Jacket. You might recognize it from the cover of her book with Meg Swansen: Knitting With Two Colors I really like this pattern. Need to do one more pattern repeat of what I’ve just done and then on to the next color pattern :).
On the left is another colorwork piece – Debbie Bliss’ Fair Isle Jacket from the book Folk Chic. I made a MAJOR modification and decided to steek this thing. I tried knitting the fair isle flat, I really tried. Bleh. No. Not happening! More to come on this as I move further into the pattern.
This morning, I woke up at 7:00 a.m. with a cramp in my left foot. So, I jumped up out of bed and walked around. Because I am an old lady who has had numerous children (sorry, TMI), the call of nature hit. When I went to the bathroom, I noticed the handspun I had plied the other day hanging on the shower rod, drying. Easily distracted, I took the yarn into my workroom, put it on the swift and ballwinder and wound a ball of yarn. The long strip of knitting that looks suspiciously like a swatch at right is my first attempt at knitting my own patchwork of homespun. Yes homespun. I spun this little bit of yarn- on a spindle. Someday, maybe I will get myself a spinning wheel, but there are a few things I need to do before that happens. Some of the fiber is from Cloverhill Yarn Shop – one of my favoritest ever LYS’s – some of it came from leftover Unspun Icelandic Wool from schoolhousepress.com, and some came from some wool I spun in a class at Williamsburg, VA during a trip there for John’s and my 35th wedding anniversary back in 2011. I plied two strands together and came up with this small bit of “self-striping” yarn. It is just wide/long enough to be a neck warmer. Why not?:)
The Natalie Tank/Tee is moving along bit by bit. Much of this was also knitted during my time at St. Agnes Hospital. Inch by inch….
There are a few new shawls out by Romi (Rosemary Hill) from her Home is Where the Heart Is – the third in her Seven Small Shawls series. Am thinking of Desert Peach or a Lupine lace scarf. I think this might work as the yarn for it:
Well dear 2.5, back to the work room to enjoy this brief respite before the proverbial hits the fan.
Oh, and the yarn for the Catoctin Shawl? I think this might be a contender:
Hope all is well with you. Until next time, God be with you ’til we meet again.+