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Friday, January 5, 2018

How clear, how lovely bright

These days.  These twelve Christmas days.  

We open presents and eat sausage for breakfast after Liturgy.  Nana and Papa arrive.  We open more presents.  Little M gets not one, but three dolls, and keeps them in her sight or arms at all times.  The boys spend hours assembling their Lego gifts then bring their Lego collection (it's considerable) down to the dining room and build more.  We step on Legos wherever we go.

The wind howls and moans through the crack under the back door.  I can hear it all the way in the living room.  It snows.  It's cold.  I order snow boots, my first pair in 30 years.  It snows again.  UPS can't deliver my boots because of the snow, and they arrive a day late.  When I wake up in the morning, there are bald patches on the driveway where the wind has scoured the snow away.  I watch people walk by my window, heads bowed and hands in pockets.  We wrap ourselves in blankets and huddle on the couch.

We celebrate New Year's Eve at party.  We cut the Vasilopita after Liturgy and Nana gets the coin for the third year in a row.  M convinces Papa to take him fishing.  They have to break the ice on the lake and come home empty handed.  Nana blows out the candles on her birthday cake.  She and Papa leave early the next morning.

Fr. G sits across from me in his chair in the evenings and reads a few pages of War and Peace.  "It's a new year," he explains.  I sew sequin after sequin onto the tree skirt I'm making.  I knit a few rows of the socks for my mother.  We talk about the house.  Could it be ours? (It needs so much work.  We can make it our own.) How long will we be here? We talk about our furniture. (We need more seating.  Sectional? Loveseat?)

Z sews herself a periwinkle poplin dress.  It fits me, too.  It has darts and gathers and top stitching; she made the whole thing with very little input from me. We're both so proud.  I dig through my fabric and decide to make two skirts for myself.  Later.

My poinsettias drop all their leaves.  Too much water? Not enough?  But my Christmas cactus (or is it a Thanksgiving cactus?) has new buds.  I'm the only one who's excited.

I write out assignments for our first week back at school.  After calling the insurance company, I find a dentist and make appointments for the kids.  It feels like a really grown up thing to do.  I rethink and reorganize everything, except that cabinet full of art supplies, but I do make daily and weekly checklists.  I especially love the one from Homesong.  New Year's resolutions include "finding rhythm and balance."  My word this year is "integrity," and I pick the second definition, the one about being whole and undivided.

 Our new house is mostly windows interrupted by a few walls, so different from the last one.  I watch the blue morning light move from the front of the house until it streams through the back bathroom window, changing to gold.  It reminds me of this poem, a favorite.

Tomorrow, Theophany, signals the end of our days of blissful nothing, and on Monday, we're back to our rhythm again.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Starting Fresh

In August we found out that we were being transferred to another parish: a large parish, in a big city, in the neighboring state.  We had less than a month between our official notification and the day my husband was to begin his ministry there.  From that whirlwind, I remember packing paper, aching feet at the end of every day, and gallons of pity ice cream consumed.  I remember a lot of lasts: last hikes along familiar and beloved trails; the last juicy tomato we pulled from our vines; last tearful hugs with beloved parishioners.

There were firsts, though, too:  the smiling welcome of our new parishioners; the giant bouquets and notes of excited anticipation they sent home with my husband; the tour of a new house after a stressful and frantic search for one; and the sight of my lonely daughter meeting her Greek school classmates for the first time.  We even discovered a new, beloved hiking trail.

If I had to choose a word to describe 2017, it would be INTENSE.  Even before the move, our year was ever-so-much-more-so.  While I don't expect 2018 to be much different, I am delighted at the turning over of the calendar page and the cue to reorganize our rhythms.  I'm hoping that 2018 brings a new balance to our little household.

This kind of long and rambly for a Yarn-Along post.  Ha.  I just finished Penguins and Golden Calves, which was rambly, too.  I knew before I opened it that my theology differs a bit from Madeleine L'Engle's, but much of the book prompted reflection, particularly the sections about the differences between icons and idols.  I like that my reading of the book bridged the end of a hard year, a year that exposed and shattered many of my idols, and a fresh, crisp, very cold new one.

Right now I am working through The Betrothed (pre-reading for school) and Out of the Silent Planet.  And like a crazy person, I have several books on hold at the library.  I'm optimistic I'll find the time to read them, I guess.

I'm also optimistic about time to knit, as my stash of yarn shows.  All of the skeins in the photo above have designated projects, for birthday presents this year. (They were supposed to be lots of Christmas presents this year, but the move changed all of that.)  I spent December working on several hand sewing projects.  I'm seven ornaments in to my collection of Alicia Paulson gems.  I'm also halfway finished with a felt tree skirt kit, one that I've had for a couple of years.  I've made a deal with myself to finish the tree skirt and the Emmer Wheat socks for my mother's birthday before I can start any other project.  (and that next project will be a sweater for myself.)

Delighted to be joining Ginny...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yarn Along: Irony

::the shawl::

I cast on the stitches for this shawl over a period of three very interrupted days last week.  It wasn't particularly challenging, just a lot of stitches and a lot of little people needing things right when I would sit down.  It's the same cotton yarn as the blanket.  I ordered this brick red color first, and then thought it was the wrong red for my sister-in-law.  After texting back and forth with my sister-in-law about it (Bless her!  She assured me that either would be just perfect.), I ordered the brighter red (for the blanket) and decided to use this brick red for a shawl.

It has been such a quick knit, despite the drawn out cast-on, and fairly simple.  I blew through the whole first season of Poldark while I knit the lace chart.  I'm just beginning the short rows, which I find a bit of a challenge.  I can't even count the number of times I've had to re-knit the short row sections of sock heels, and this has ever so many more stitches.  Fingers crossed!

::the book::

I'm taking a brief break from A Dance to the Music of Time to read one of my library holds: The Shallows.  Irony to put it in a blog post? Yes.

 My sister and I have been talking of late about social media and the distractions of the internet.  My husband and I were slow to connect and didn't pay for internet service until 2010, which happens to be the year this book was published; before 2010, my husband had access at work, and I trucked to the library for occasional emailing.  I've been treading a narrow path since we went digital, trying to use the internet as a tool, and keep it from using me!  Most days, I'm not very good at it.  I've found myself retreating from social media from time to time, just to stay focused on the important things right in front of me.  It's a slippery slope: checking a text turns into checking Instagram, a favorite blog, the timing of an expected shipment...twenty minutes later, I ask, "What am I doing again?"  It's humbling and frustrating, and I've no doubt many others have the same struggle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Yarn Along

::  I finished the blanket, and it's sitting on a shelf, wrapped in brown paper, and awaiting the birth of its recipient.  I wish I could deliver it in person!

:: the sweater ::

I played yarn chicken with this one, and I won! My sister passed down 140 g of mystery worsted weight yarn a while back; I had no idea of the actual yardage.  It feels like wool?  I cast on for the sweater in the 18 month size, and had just enough to make 3/4 length sleeves.  The thermometer dips a bit lower every day, and leaves have begun to fall from our apple trees, so Little M will be wearing it soon.

:: the book ::

Still chugging away at this book, although I haven't taken as much time to read this week.  What I've read so far, though, has been excellent.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer Doings


We became accidental tomato farmers this summer.  Raising our two dozen plants was one of my favorite activities all summer long, and since we know next to nothing about growing vegetables of any ilk, it was a Grand Experiment. Despite getting them into the ground in the last days of  June, and employing questionable watering, fertilizing, and caging techniques, all of the plants are still alive!  We've even enjoyed the fruits of our labor in salads this week.

For every tomato we'll harvest, an equal number have been destroyed by pests.  In fact, the war against hornworms has given me an impetus to be outside in the heat and humidity, rather than crouched over the nearest AC vent.  Twice a day I get out to go over the plants, taking our whole troupe with me.  The kids play in the yard while I examine each leaf, but I can only spot hornworms when they're as big as my fingers. The other morning I found seven, five on our tallest plant alone! The boys fight over whose turn it is to squish them, and how they should go about it. Shoe? Bike wheel? Big stick? I'm not squeamish at all, but I'm at my limit for green, oozy caterpillar guts. When I close my eyes at night, I count hornworms!  Next year we'll try neem oil. (When I find hornworms covered in braconid wasp cocoons, I leave them alone.  The wasps will do our squishing job for us!)

I have been itching to make little dresses since Rae released her Geranium pattern.  With the birth of Little M, I have been scratching that itch!  For Z, I have been making simple skirts, using the whole width, selvedge to selvedge, of whatever fabric she chooses. (She's too big for a Geranium!) She has wanted to match Little M, and we've had such fun!  She and I talk about making some Washi dresses for her, too.  Daydreaming about adding to my own wardrobe, also, has made the thought of weaning Little M less bitter.  I keep promising myself that once my body has stopped changing from bearing and nourishing babies, I will make myself some clothing.  Although, if I could, I would bottle up the feel of chubby baby arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and put it on a shelf, for later.

My hair is the longest it's ever been, which feels like some sort of milestone.  Fr. G cut my hair two years ago, right after I found out I was pregnant with Little M, and that's the last time it was cut!  I keep thinking I'll get to it, but keep forgetting.  I'd love to keep the length; I'm also tempted to do something drastic.  It's probably best I steer clear of the stylist until I can stop dithering.  For now, my new hairstyle has been a simple bun, held up by a scad of bobby pins.  I shed them all over the place, reminding me of Helen de Vine, in one of my favorite books.   Hmmm...maybe I'll go get that book off the shelf.  I think it's time to read it again.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gentle September

This school year has begun so peacefully, so gently.  The weather cooled last week, and the humidity abated so we were free to intersperse outdoor time and lessons.  A friend, and holder of a PhD in Education, asked me this summer what my philosophy and curriculum were like.  Had we tried many things?  Yes, we have, I answered, but after several years of living this homeschool life, the "school" boils down to two things: reading good books and being outside.  (I think I shocked her!)

I spent the summer reading and organizing and rethinking our space.  The best decision I made was to move our school "room" into the sunroom off our kitchen.  It's where we spend the most time anyway.  I got a small Ikea table for the boys to share with me so that I can facilitate their lessons, and there's a couch and love seat so we can read comfortably.  The room is always bright, and come the dark winter days, we'll have plenty of natural light.

On Labor Day we went on our first family hike in, gosh, I don't know long.  The jewelweed and thin sunflowers were in bloom along our path, and the river below the dam was low. Little M sent us into fits of laughter as she tried to keep up with everyone. Her fluffy hair bounces as much as she does when she runs!  The children and I have been going on and on about all of the bald eagles we'd seen at this spot in the past, but Fr. G only saw one when he was with us.  November is supposed to be the very best time for spotting eagles here.  They return from their summers up north and fish below the dam then, so we'll have to plan another outing with the whole family for a cool November day.

With the reprieve of the heat and humidity last week, I've craved hot tea.  (Although I'm savoring my last afternoon frapp├ęs.)  Really, I just love seasons and the way they change.  I could never decide which is my favorite!

Our three boys have finally found a game they can all play: Old Maid.  Who'd have thought that Old Maid could lead to such hooting and hollering? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny

::the blanket::

This is for my brother and sister-in-law, who are expecting their first baby sometime next month.  They live in California, hence this cotton.  It is so soft and squishy!  I'm tempted to make one for Little M in the shell color way, especially because it's such a quick knit. I knit almost the whole blanket while watching the first season of Occupied with my husband, and have one more evening of knitting before I bind off!  When I'm finished, I have a couple of little projects for Little M to work on before I begin two rather large Christmas gifts.  This is my favorite time of the year to be planning projects.

::the book::

Now that the school year has started, I can devote some time to reading for pleasure, rather than feverishly attempting to pre-read all of my children's assignments.  (Although I'm still doing that, too!) This book is a gem, paced like a slow waltz: when I pick it up, I join hands with the Four Seasons in Poussin's painting.  It's one I'll be savoring for a while.