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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

yarn along: june 2019

I'm still chipping away at the pair of socks I started at the beginning of April.  I stand by my two-at-a-time sock preference.  This second sock is such a slog.

I have made much more progress on my shawl.  There's one more row to go before I bind off and then puzzle through how to keep the dye from bleeding all over.  With summer break here, there will be a little more time to figure it out. 

After the shawl, I have two sweaters to start, one for Little M and one for a gift, and a hat for charity.  And then some more gift knitting.  

The New Media Epidemic and Quo Vadis occupy my current nightstand reading pile.  I read Quo Vadis during the spring that I was engaged to my husband, that very cat chewed copy in the picture.  I'm also listening to it on Audible, which has been good for keeping me off social media and youtube podcasts while I should be doing something else.  I am late to the Audible game, as I am with most techy things, but I already prefer it to our library and the Librivox audiobook apps.  Our library's choices are terrible, and Librivox's narrators aren't always easy to understand.  For now, I am willing to pay a little more to have good quality and better choices.

I read about The New Media Epidemic on Instagram, ironically.  Larchet discusses media, not just social media, sometimes in a new way, sometimes repeating information I've heard before.  I'm not even half way through the book, so I am interested to see what direction the rest of it takes.  If anything, it has solidified my hesitancy to allow my kids to engage in social media, and also to turn off all screens.  

Those books in the background of the first picture I got primarily for my boys. The reader on top was free at our library, but I purchased The Book of Courage, after reading an excerpt of it in the reader.  It's not just about men, but I hope that it will appeal to my boys.  I'm hoping to read it aloud to them at some point, but it has been challenging to find the time.

Finally, and I know this is supposed to be about knitting and reading, I wanted to share a series that my husband and I have been watching after the kids head to bed.  It's set in Russia during the First World War, and in Russian with English subtitles.  So far it's pretty tame, which I appreciate, although we're only three episodes in.   

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

a good year for flowers

 My kids groaned every time I pointed out a clump of Star-of-Bethlehem, which grows profusely all over our neighborhood.  To be fair, I pointed it out every time I saw a patch; it had to be annoying.  They'll never forget it, though, the way the stems stand erect, topped with the delicate frosty flowers.  Star-of-Bethlehem means early May here.  I've added it to our calendar of firsts, and I'll know to look for it next year.  (The ones in the bud vase are from our backyard, picked by our littlest flower-enthusiast.  We're teaching her to look but not pick, with varying degrees of success.)

All the flowers this spring are more-so.  Right now it's the peonies, bent headlong over their leaves, pink and white and blush.  The dogwoods still look as though the branches are covered in snowy drifts, and, where the world isn't brightly colored with irises and rhododendron blossoms, it's gloriously, voluminously verdant.  I had forgotten just how green the world can be.

"The tendency to magnify petty difficulties, to consider one's special problems impossible of solution, might be conquered, I believe, nine times out of ten, could we get out of doors and turn our attention to the impersonal but absorbing problems ready to present themselves to the open-eyed pedestrian.  It is not possible always to run away from the routine of every-day life, but it is possible often when we fail to do it.  The chances are that the thing we are striving to accomplish is not half so important or so inspiring as the thing that is crowded out."

                                                                According to Season: A Celebration of Nature 
                                                                                            Mrs. William Starr Dana

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

misunderstood monster

It's hard to be the middle child: too young for the things your older, admired siblings are always doing, and too old for the baby-ish games your younger siblings want to play.  It's a challenge to process all the emotions in a positive way; conflict and frustration are common.  Someone I know used to refer to her middle child, with much love, as her "misunderstood monster."  He's now in his twenties and quite the accomplished young gentleman, so there's hope!

Our middlest child, T,  has been struggling with lots of big feelings lately, and hasn't been able to express them.  Today we were supposed to meet the younger classes from his co-oop at a local bird-banding station, one we've been to before.  I didn't get the message that the date of the trip had been switched, so we basically had the station to ourselves (excepting the scientists).  It was thrilling for my emotionally lost little boy, who got to hold and release several different birds; it required all of his attention and self-control, the two habits that come hardest to him.  He saw in person birds his aspiring-ornithologist brother has only read about, which was a feather in his cap.  And he was able to identify a more unusual bird correctly, having just read about it in the Burgess Bird Book.  He walked in the door of our house standing taller, and I think that his self-image has improved!  Hopefully our morning in the cold, wet woods was the new beginning we needed. (birds pictured are a Veery, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Indigo Bunting)

This past term the artist we studied was Winslow Homer.  We were able to visit several of his paintings in person last week, including the one above.  Little M drew the most adorable sketch as her picture study, so I taped a shrunken copy in my planner/commonplace book/journal.  I've been doing that lately with the little kids' best drawings, without saving the originals (too much paper in our house!).  I love the tidy way this will store them for posterity.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

yarn along: may 2019

Christ is Risen!

I finished the Terra shawl I was working on last month, as well as the pair of socks in my post.  The weather has been delightfully chilly and unpredictable, so both have seen quite a bit of wear.  As soon as the Terra was blocking, I cast on for the Cowboys and Angels shawl.  The pattern is clearly written clearly--such a joy to knit up.  I've reached the garter section of the pattern, so I can do some reading while I work on it.  I started the first few Betsy-Tacy books in preparation for reading them to my boys next year. I love them so far, but I imagine my boys won't like them nearly as much as I do.  We're reading this for school, and we're all enjoying it.  Are there any Betsy-Tacy like books for boys?  I'll have to do some digging, and maybe invest in some better copies of The Great Brain. Ours are falling apart.

I've also started paging through According to SeasonI bought a copy of a wildflower guide by the same author, and have found immense pleasure in looking at both.  How to Know the Wildflowers features charming and accurate black and white drawings of the flowers that are more helpful than some of the color guides we own.

The socks are a gift for someone who loves bright colors and cozy feet.  I'm using the pattern as a rough guide, and just adding the texture to a sock pattern I already use and love.  New to me, though, is the magic loop method.  I'm a convert, I must say.  I just need to get a longer needle so I can go back to my beloved two-at-a-time construction!

And finally, those stitch markers!  I found the adorable little glass amanita muscaria (I had to look up the name!) beads at a Joann nearby and had such fun putting together the markers.  I prefer the twisted loop ones to the dangly jump ring ones, and wonder if these would be something people would like to purchase?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

yarn along: april 2019: all scrimbulled

One of my littler kids, when he was extra little, would talk about things that didn't go his way as being "all scrimbulled."  It was his way of generalizing how he felt about scribbled-on paper to all the bumps of his young life.

My knitting right now is feeling a little scrimbulled.  I have a couple of projects that I am working on, and they sit, in a tangly mess, on the table where we do our lessons.  The socks, a reward to myself for surviving the busy season of our second term, are nearing completion.  I'm really excited to have another pair of cozy socks to add to my sock drawer.  So excited, in fact, that I won't dwell on the wretched pooling of the yarn.  Pooling is my greatest knitting pet peeve.  The shawl is one that I've been impatient to begin; I bought the yarn at the beginning of 2018, hoping to finish it in time for the fall.  It was postponed and postponed again, all for excellent and exciting reasons [wedding shawl, wedding present, and baby clothes :) ]. But!  Every time I got dressed, I would sigh and say to myself, "That shawl will go so well with what I'm wearing."  I am almost finished with the first chart, so not too much longer to wait to wear it! (Except the weather seems to be getting warmer. HA.) . I have another shawl to cast on as soon as the current one is finished.  Isn't the yarn dreamy?

Reading-wise, I am all over the place.  I have a list drawn up of all the books I'd like to read and re-read this year, but I keep finding great books to read that aren't on it!  Three of the books pictured are for Lenten reading, two of those are for reading groups.  One book, for a presvytera reading group, is fantastic, something I wasn't expecting from the cover.  The stories and following questions for reflection have given me much to think about this Lent.  Family Life is a book that I read a while ago, and thought it was time to revisit it.  Laying Down the Rails for Yourself has also been an impetus for personal reflection and growth.  Continental Crimes is just for fun.

Looking at these blurry photos, I think it's time to get my eyes examined!  I am about to hit a milestone birthday, so it's probably time to start sporting spectacles.

joining Ginny...

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lent, wonderful Lent!




The girls and I spent Meatfare weekend and almost all of Cheesefare week visiting my parents and the newest family member, my sister's son.  It was so, so special to be there with just two of my children, and it wouldn't have been possible without my husband's parents, who came to stay with the boys.  Truly, the quiet escape was medicinal.  I was able to spend time prayerfully considering my goals for myself and my children for the next term, something that the distractions of home would have prevented.  I don't just mean the children's interruptions, but that inability to sit quietly at home, without the guilty urge to jump up and accomplish something tangible, like cleaning out a closet.  The closets (and every other room) are always in need of a good clean out, so I never really have a quiet moment without the vague sense that I'm needed elsewhere. And lingering over my tea in the morning with a good book?  Until 9:30?  That never happens!  

We also got to meet Baby L, so new to the world that his little legs wanted to curl up like a frog's.  I was able to "help" my sister during the day with driving, but she is such a natural (and Baby L has been so cooperative) that she didn't really need me.  Still, it was nice simply to talk.  

My father, the girls, and I spent a Saturday being jostled at the crowded art museum in my hometown.  It's a sleeper hit of a museum, a fabulous one in a small-ish midwestern city, and one that we visit just about every time we're there.  Z loves impressionim, and lingered in the galleries, drinking in her favorites.  She also spied a picture that captured the essence of her and little M; she's the one with her nose in a book.  

While I was at my childhood home, I took the opportunity to photograph some of my father's extensive model railroad layout.  It's a project he's been working on since before I was born, adding a building at a time, and it's enormous.  Each child, in-law, and grandchild has their own special building that he's constructed, based on family inside jokes or interests.  My sister-in-law's family is in the coffee business, so my niece's building is a coffee roasting plant, named for her.  My dad has also included billboards and places that are special to our family.  The whole layout is a slice of his heart: all the people and places dear to him are there.  I need to spend more time photographing it!

As a reward for finishing Term 2, I allowed myself to cast on for a new pair of socks, one that I've had in my queue for two or more years.  The pattern is well-written, and the heel brought me out of my usual short-row heel comfort zone.  I loved the yarn when it was in the skein, but knitting it up has been frustrating. The speckles and colors I love, and it's really soft and great to work with!  But! The pooling!  It's a personal issue--pooling makes me want to tear my hair out.   Still, I will be thankful to add another pair of warm, comfortable socks to my drawer.

And, because I really don't have enough going on (ha), I decided to cast on for the Terra shawl I've been meaning to knit for the past year.  It's the second time I've knit it, but I forgot to add the first to my Ravelry page.  I didn't get a picture of it, and I gave it as a gift to a sweet widow two parishes ago.  I can't even remember the yarn I used.  This one uses Quince and Co. Chickadee in the honey colorway, still a favorite of mine after a decade.  And it will be for me.

Alright, that vague feeling that I should be doing something else has crept up on me.  I think there's a closet that needs attention.

p.s.  Z finished a darling felt Kyra Sarakosti just in time for Lent, and I am working on Little M's birthday crown.  Soon we will have a new four-year-old in the house!  Four is one of my favorite ages.

Friday, February 15, 2019

february cleaning


  Over the years I have grown to love sloppy, gray February.  It’s the best time of year for a Marie-Kondo-style clean out, when the days are too cold and the mud is too deep to wander out of doors for long.  I spent the other morning cleaning out the school room, filing papers and removing all of the little toys and bits that don’t belong.  I should probably have been setting up our the remaining term of our school year (How can it even be time for that?), but it’s easier to work in a clean space.  As the picture of our art supply cabinet shows, we have a lot of work to do!  I’m hoping to paint our art cabinet in the spring (white? green? blue?) and replace that yellow glass with something else this summer, and that process will be a whole lot simpler after we’ve culled our favorite supplies.

While I cleaned yesterday, I listened to an audiobook, one that I read a while ago.  I used to listen to audiobooks all the time when my kids were younger, and somehow got out of the habit when they got noisier and my Walkman broke.  That’s indicative of just how long ago that was--the library still had most of their books on cassette and I had no devices other than a Walkman!  Anyway, I hoped that this exciting audiobook would keep me engaged and warm up my listening muscles, but I forgot that there’s some profanity!  Yikes!  I have to listen when people aren’t around or use headphones.  I’m hoping that once I’ve established the habit of listening, I can go back to listening to my favorite literary classics which are cleaner (and better for me all around).  I’m also hoping that it will put me in the habit of listening to some of the podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio. Lent is fast approaching!

My husband has nearly finished the new table for our dining room.  It’s beautiful.  He surprised me with it a few Christmases ago, making it exactly to my "dream table" measurements.  We’re currently using both table and room for schooling, so it’s not ideal.  We have a big renovation still in the "castle in the air" stage, but hope to meet with real people to discuss actual details in the next few months.  When that renovation happens, the dining room will be our main room for eating and school operations will move to where they were last year--our sunroom.  But before a kitchen reno, we need central AC, and fewer belongings!  

A Psalm of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, 
   Life is but an empty dream! 
For the soul is dead that slumbers, 
   And things are not what they seem. 

Life is real! Life is earnest! 
   And the grave is not its goal; 
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 
   Was not spoken of the soul. 

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 
   Is our destined end or way; 
But to act, that each to-morrow 
   Find us farther than to-day. 

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, 
   And our hearts, though stout and brave, 
Still, like muffled drums, are beating 
   Funeral marches to the grave. 

In the world’s broad field of battle, 
   In the bivouac of Life, 
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 
   Be a hero in the strife! 

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! 
   Let the dead Past bury its dead! 
Act,-- act in the living Present! 
   Heart within, and God o’erhead! 

Lives of great men all remind us 
   We can make our lives sublime, 
And, departing, leave behind us 
   Footprints on the sands of time; 

Footprints, that perhaps another, 
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
   Seeing, shall take heart again. 

Let us, then, be up and doing, 
   With a heart for any fate; 
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
   Learn to labor and to wait.