A Whole Lotta Treading Water Going On…

As far as the knitting goes, that is;)! That Ashby shawl continued to come in handy last week as we dealt with record snowfalls.  Have made a wee bit of progress on the Dryad for John, and, because we had a bunch of snow days off from work around here, decided to cast on two more projects and will likely cast on a third.  We’ll see…. Decided to finally use that Zooey on another shawl.  Yep, and a Brooklyn Tweed one as well:): Stonecrop by Jared Flood. I am doing the smaller version of the wrap. It’s actually quite an interesting pattern.  Sadly, no pictures yet.  Will post one or two as soon as I can.

Having seen my progress on the Dryad, and wishing to preserve it for John, S (the one who appropriated the Guernsey Wrap for herself after “borrowing” it from her father) talked me into knitting her the Elfreide scarf (another Brooklyn Tweed pattern by Lucy Sweetland I’ve been wanting to knit for ages). Oh dear. I had the yarn. I just had to cast on.  No pictures yet of this, either, but there will be.

So there it is. Not much to talk about on the knitting front – at least not much to photograph.

However, in other news….

I spent pretty much all of January alternating between  recovering from an upper respiratory infection  – that kept on visiting me since September –  and work.  I missed a LOT of choir rehearsals and I think I only went to one bell practice, due to the above and snow. However, this week things changed:). For four days straight I have been enjoying playing and singing with some of my favorite people.  On Friday, we had Mardi Gras practice.  My dear son helped me get the drums out of the basement and my fellow musicians of the “Lassez les bon temps roulez” group helped me get them to St. Pete’s.  Then two hours of wonderful practice and home.  Saturday: Diane L from choir gave me a lift to Barry E’s home for an extra rehearsal of the Durante (not the Jimmy variety, though plenty of jokes have happened) Magnificat and a wee bit of Bach.  We had a pot luck lunch for which I ended up taking more food home than having contributed.  No worries – with my crew, we will make short work of it:)!

The best news in choir is a budding romance between two truly good people, both of whom have experienced terrible losses in their =lives.  It does my heart good to see love win out.  As I said to a good high school friend a few years back – everybody loves a lover:). And not for nothing, but another lovely friend has found love as well.  She had spent decades in a loveless marriage full of verbal cruelty and now she is hearing and experience sweetness and love.  That makes me so happy!

The fourth day was today  – the early service at St. J’s, followed by another rehearsal of the Durante Magnificat:) and the unselfish talents of our dear Nancy and the (ever so kind) Barry.

As the beloved Ina Garten says, “How bad can that be?”:)

God be with you ’til we meet again+

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Productive? Or no?

I got up in time to sing with the choir this morning, got showered, dressed, and, armed with my bag of music and purse, purposefully headed out the door to my car and then…. decided to stay home. You may wonder why. I hadn’t been to rehearsal Thursday evening and felt so unprepared. And there was bacon cooking in the kitchen (didn’t say I was proud of my decision..) and I thought, I could get so much done at home without mucking up my part in church. I played around with my planner, thinking if I worked now, I’d really have a day off tomorrow. Selfish? Yes, most likely.

I learned that the littlest grandangels would not be gracing us with their presence;(.  Their Daddy had custody earlier than usual this weekend.  And that’s ok.

So what’s an old grandma knitter/lawyer to do?  Well, I thought of heading back to Cloverhill Yarn to knit with my friends, but then I saw the snow heading our way and figured. Uh. Nope. I do not like driving in the snow when the road gets slick and icy under the little snowy bits. So I stayed home.

I worked on hubby’s scarf and made a wee bit of progress.  I’d say I was 52 percent done, since I’ve made my way into the second of two skeins for the project. It’s Jared Flood’s Dryad – and I’ve been working on it on and off since the summer of 2012. I knitted another wide scarf for John by Jared Flood – that within a year was appropriated by our daughter, S.

I’ve also been working on a couple of sock projects.  For some reason, I don’t really post my sock projects on ravelry.  Perhaps I should.

More to come later.

One thing for which I am grateful: the Ashby shawl came in very handy today. It is large enough to keep this chubby grandma warm in the midst of a sudden decrease in temperature this afternoon.:)

Not much more to add, dear readers. Back soon. Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again+

Review: Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio version of this book via a Christmas gift subscription to Scribd. It’s the kind of book for which the reward of getting to the second half far outweighs any impatience one might feel about the plot at the beginning (I had no such impatience, but have read the reviews of others who as a result had not finished the book). Fates and Furies depicts the realities in one marriage – in effect teaching us that one never knows another perfectly, lifelong love notwithstanding. Lauren Groff’s portrayal of the husband, Lotto, is practically two-dimensional; though I suppose the incredible depth, darkness, and complexity of Matthilde’s character as shown in the second half of the book is meant to stand in stark contrast to Lotto’s almost infantile simplicity. I would like to now buy a Kindle or hard copy of the book, because it is the kind of book one wants to re-read to gain a better understanding of the beautifully drawn characters who fill its pages. Well done.
Oh, and the narration was very well done in the audiobook.

View all my reviews

Interrupting this program to bring you…

Am working from home today.  The rest of the family are working and I have this lovely bit of quiet to get paperwork, scheduling and other organizational tasks completed.  One of the things I was doing was of course reading emails, updating calendars and the like. But a post from Mason-Dixon Knitting drew me up short for some reason. My really cool grandson, Gram (all my grands are cool – don’t ever disabuse me of that notion!) has recently expressed a desire to learn to knit. Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon knitting fame are having a book giveaway contest on their blog.  I frankly do not care about winning that book, although it looks like a wonderful book to have, but I did post a comment because I figured there would be a lot of folks who might have some ideas for me.  Here’s what I wrote:

I had a rather wicked stepmother – or with the advantage of hindsight – a stepmother with a lot of issues and a lot on her plate. But there is one thing she did for which I will be forever grateful. She taught my two stepsisters and me to knit. Now that I have been a wicked mother and am now a wicked grandmother, I recently completed five sweaters – one for each of our five grandchildren. My grandson, Gram, was so intrigued by the sweater I knit him (he loves it, bless his heart) that he has asked me to teach him to knit. He has ADHD. His parents and his doctor are trying to figure out which meds work and how much he needs. He is learning to feel his feelings and on top of everything else is dealing with the stress of going back and forth between two divorced parents’ households with his older brother and younger sister.
He will be 5 years old on Valentine’s Day.
I so want to teach him, but I so want to do it right. What a comfort and blessing and brain healer knitting could be for him!
If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears. Sorry if this is TMI, but your post really resonated with me today.
Happy knitting, everyone!

– See more at: http://www.masondixonknitting.com/our-favorite-things/contests/teach-some-kids-to-knit-a-book-and-yarn-giveaway/#comment-118492

Last Sunday, Gram, along with his mom and sibs, stopped by to say hello on their way back from a birthday party.   I was at the concert having a great time, but to have missed this is just heartbreaking! Hopefully, I will be ready for him this coming Sunday, two little chubby knitting needles and some nice yarn for him. I keep thinking of  Elizabeth Zimmerman’s recounting of how she learned to knit at this age and wondering if perhaps that’s the way to go.  Cast on, teach him to knit a stitch or two and then that’s it. It’s the “teach him to knit a stitch or two” part that is daunting, LOL:)

Ah well.  If any of you dear readers have an idea or two, as I said, I am all ears!

Gotta get back to work.  Back soon.  Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again.+

From the Sublime to the… Incredibly Interesting!

Starting with the very interesting…

Today was a very full and remarkable day – at least it seemed so from the vantage of my relatively small and unremarkable life. I started it as many second Sundays of the month – playing bells and other assorted instruments, including my voice, in church. Come to think of it, even that was unusual! Instead bells and choir during the first service, bells only with the organ in the second – we had a lot of fun, the bells playing along with Carol D on the flute, Mike M on his fiddle, Barry E on the drum and yours truly hitting the tambourine. During the second service, the eight of us remaining also sang as we played our respective instruments. What a blast! To top it off, there were about a gazillion baptisms and the little kids were adorable – even the screamer at the second service:)!

As I left church, the prudent thing would have been to go straight home, maybe practice some of the Radetzky one more time, knit a little, get ready for tomorrow’s hearings (already done, boss!) or even take a nap.  However, I was in dire need of some therapy – the kind only available through some yarn and sticks. So I toddled on over to the Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Catonsville, where a big old knit-together was going on. I saw people I hadn’t seen for awhile from the Columbia Sip ‘n Knit – I consider to be “my” group – and one I met in person for the first time today! Sam Barsky (above) is a very talented knitter whose work has been featured in at least two magazines -one from the UK and the other from Hungary (I think). He and his wife live in the Baltimore area.  He took up knitting a number of years ago and realized he had quite a knack for it. His second project was a sweater! Sam does “intarsia” knitting – using balls of yarn or bobbins to create “pictures” with his yarn through knitting.  The sweater pictured above is a depiction of Sam and his wife’s trip to Hong Kong. Sam tells me his only regret is not having knitted the sweater before going there. Reason: Sam takes pictures of sweaters he’s knitted of places to which he travels and then poses in that sweater in the very place he’s knitting about.  He has a Stonehenge sweater, I think a couple of New York sweaters (Times Square) and 90 more.  His goal is to create 100 sweaters and then he will celebrate.  Sam doesn’t knit with a pattern – he figures it out in his head. My goal is to find him a tech editor to help him put his work into words and charts for the average schmo like me. Anybody know of such a person in the Baltimore, Merlin area?

Well, it was a delight to meet Sam.  We had been Facebook friends for a while, bonding over the knitting thing and he was just as nice in person as he is online.  Nice chatting and knitting with you, Sam!

And now for the sublime…

You didn’t think I’d ignore that concert, did you? Above are a few of the Columbia Ballet, excellent performers who seemed to sail on air to the strains of Strauss (Johann and his brother, Josef.) Though the Strauss family does seem to corner the waltz market, they got quite a bit of competition from Josef Lanner, Iosif Ivanovici, Antonin Dvorak, Fritz Kreisler, Franz Lehar, even Arnold Schoenberg, along with one of my favorite composers, Johannes Brahms.

Ron Mutchnik and the Orchestra were tremendous.  Don DeGeorge, the man behind the scenes videographer, provided a beautiful larger-than-life backdrop of scenes from Vienna, Prague and Budapest. A very talented Jonathan Palevsky of WBJC fame provided a succinct and witty narrative to it all – and his German pronunciation was outstanding.

There is something almost magical in hearing the opening strains of On the Beautiful Blue Danube. You feel the awe, the love that Strauss had for his homeland. Changes in tempo, reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the waves of that beautiful river; the melody, both familiar and mystical, conspire to create an experience impossible to contain in a recording. It was beautiful.

The last piece was the Radetzky.  After a brief introduction, we were off! Won’t tell you about the mistakes.  We ended at the same places, accompanied by the claps and stamping feet of the audience – a good thing:)!

Coda…

After the magic of that concert, I came home, had some supper and finally finished something I’ve been working on. Ashby.I want to say it like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara said, “Ashley,” but that would be a little weird coming out of my mouth;). Off the needles, blocked, and photographed. Put a fork in it.  It’s done.

Time to sign off. Court tomorrow.

God be with you ’til we meet again.

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ANNOUNCEMENT! (See below) and Finally Finished my Christmas Knitting.

And yes they were all finished January 3rd. Never you mind. They all fit -and came in handy for the cold weather when it finally did arrive! And anyway, what self-respecting kid wants a sweater for Christmas?  Not that they didn’t genuinely seem to like them. Many thanks to my two youngest grandangels for modeling theirs:)!

Well, it was a nice week, give or take, of “staycation” for me. Especially enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Year. But it’s also great to be back in the swing of things-at work, in music, and in knitting.

Speaking of music, this rank amateur will be playing snare drum on Sunday (the Radetzky March) with the consummately professional Howard County Concert Orchestra (HoCoCO). The brainchild of Ron Mutchnik, a gifted violinist (and teacher) in his own right, and comprised of professional musicians, many of whom come from the sadly now-defunct Baltimore Opera’s orchestra, it has become a Howard County treasure.  The January concert is a multi-media extravaganza of romantic waltz music, accompanying a video of beauty to be found in Vienna, Prague and Budapest, and dancers from the Columbia Ballet. Attending this concert has become one of my annual traditions and what a wonderful way to beat the winter blues!

This year, the concert will be held at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD (that’s short for “Merlin”) at 7 p.m.  Tickets are a mere 25.00 -and children under 17 are free, accompanied by a paying adult. There is also a student discount ($12-bring your school ID).

If you attend, don’t shoot the drummer for the Radetzky. She’s new.

Hope you get to enjoy your weekend. Back soon. Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again.+