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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny

This morning the sun never really rose; the clouds just turned a lighter shade of gray during daylight hours.  It's days like this that make me wish I could stay lost in my book until bedtime, like the Saturdays of my childhood.  I suppose the fact that I can't makes the time I spend reading all the sweeter?

I am really liking this book--the words of the note at the beginning caught my attention immediately.  Books written these days portray most relationships as broken and hopeless, and problems in the relationship solved by giving up rather than striving to make them right.  It's so depressing!  I find Elizabeth Goudge's premise so very heartening.

I'm also about halfway through this book, which is starting to feel repetitive.  I'm not sure I'll be able to make it to the end.

Uncle Wiggily, despite an unenthusiastic reception from my children, has really grown on them.  My boys had the same reception for the Milly-Molly-Mandy books, and then begged me to start them over again when we finished.  I know when to persist, I suppose.  I snagged our copy of the gentleman rabbit's tales at a used bookstore this summer, on a whim.

I just finished a pair of socks for my mother, and I really loved the pattern, the yarn, everything!  They wound up being a little bigger than I thought (superwash yarn always grows on me when I block it--even when I swatch!), so I put them through the washer and dryer to shrink up a little.  They did, and they came through the wash beautifully, too.

The blue bit of knitting with Uncle Wiggily is the body of a baby sweater for a friend's little boy, expected on April Fool's Day.  It is such a quick knit!  Since I took that picture yesterday, I have already divided for the sleeves.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

All the Moving Parts


“He never became angry with any of his monks or novices and never uttered a sharp word to them. He bore everything with patience and forgave everyone. He placed all of his cares and burdens at the feet of the Lord and confided all his sorrows only to Him. He strove to pass all of this on to the brotherhood of his monastery, and many of them learned how to nurture and apply this all-encompassing and passionless love in their everyday lives.”

Elder Thaddeus of Fr. Ambrose
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

‘Why do you fight the good fight when you have no obedience? Whenever you were assigned to serve at a certain place as abbot you complained about it, asking to be excused. You must not do so anymore! Know that you must carry out every obedience with much love, earnestly, and with zeal, without paying any attention to the envy and malice around you.’

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

The Holy Fathers tell us to let our attention be on the Lord immediately upon waking, to let our thoughts be united with Him during the entire day, and to remember Him at every moment. The Holy Fathers prayed to be delivered from forgetfulness, for we often get carried away by the things of this world and forget the Lord.... We forget that He is everywhere and that any job we do and any task we perform is His. We think that the job we are doing is for someone else and we often perform our tasks unwillingly. When we perform a task unwillingly, soon resistance and a feeling of disgust are born in us, and then our life becomes filled with resistance and disgust for everything, and we grow old in this manner.

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives


Some meditations for the work of my week...maybe yours, too? Peace can be challenging!  The weather has been so bad that we've been inside much of the last month.  The boys have been bouncing around the house like pinballs, and there's been a distinct uptick in all of our activities as we gear up for some performances.  It's hard to keep everything straight!  I frequently need a spiritual nudge toward peace, patience, and obedience.

 I'm rereading this book  and discussing it with a group of women right now, which has been a (much needed) giant push, as opposed to a gentle nudge.  Elder Thaddeus's words have also helped me to welcome and seek out the hiddenness and silence of time away from social media.


I found my blocking wires in a box after our recent move, which was pretty exciting.  I looked all over for them at our last place, but to no avail!  IT's the first time I've heard of someone finding something in a move.  Anyway, I have been systematically washing and re-blocking all of my shawls with the wires because they work much better for me than pins alone.  There is something so satisfying about turning a dirty, rumpled, shrunken shawl into drapey, open perfection. 


I finished the pink sweater just in time to block, dry, and wrap it!  It was a delight to give it to the recipient, Little M’s godmother, in person.  My ravelry notes are here.  I don’t usually repeat patterns, but I can’t wait to make one of these for Little M!  Z and I are even talking about making the adult version for ourselves.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Thin Line

We’ve finally found our best rhythm in our new digs, just when Lent is looming.  I know that Lent will change our schedule drastically, and for the best, but I have trouble letting go of my plans and routines.  It's tricky to keep a balance between schooling and playing, housework and outdoor time.  We have had some warmer days in the last week, so on one of them, we went to our favorite nature reserve here.  We noticed a lot of beautiful shelf fungus on the logs, and sweetgum fruit fascinated my two littlest hikers.  I'm hoping to schedule more hikes as the weather improves. 

February, which is a month I now look forward to, after years of dreading its 28 dark and cold days, is coming, too.  February is for tidying and rearranging our books and school things; purging our broken, worn out, or unused items; and refreshing our art supplies.  We’re in desperate need of rulers, paintbrushes, and sketching paper.  Maybe some more watercolors will find their way to our shelves, too.  Little M is almost out of the “drawing on everything” phase (and when I say everything, I mean hands, walls, handmade quilts, walls, math books, library books, and walls) so we could probably start stocking things like paint and markers again.  Probably.  

I get discouraged, though, when I look at the mess we call “school shelves.” It’s absolutely not as organized or as beautiful as I’d like it to be.  Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive, but shopping the flea markets and yardsales takes more time than I can spare.  And the more kids we add to our family, the more important it is to be thrifty and organized—mostly for my sanity!  I have taken to purchasing only one color binder (white) and using the computer or labelmaker to make labels for them, just to give our shelves a little more unity.  In my mind our shelves look Pinterest-worthy. In reality, though, they’re usually a disaster.  I told my mom the other day that I’m too lazy to tidy them as often as they need it (every hour of the day), and despite repeatedly hearing the proper way to shelve their books, the kids just pile ‘em on the shelves any old way.  It’s hard to want to show messy reality; I’d like our best foot forward on social media. Some days I feel like I’m walking on a thin line between ideal and reality, Crazy OCD mom and living in clutter up to our eyeballs.

There are two new babies (of friends!) coming in April, so I am working on some hand knits.  One of the projects is "due" next weekend, for Little M's godmother's baby shower.  I love the pattern, one that I've been wanting to knit for over a year.  I also love the yarn, from a local company, so much that I've ordered more.  I'm trying to arrange a field trip to the studio!  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Resist It

The answer is not to medicalize these moderate forms of addiction, but to alter the structure of how we live, both at a societal level, and more narrowly, as we construct our day-to-day lives.  It's far easier to prevent from developing addictions in the first place than it is to correct existing bad habits, so these changes should begin not with adults, but with young kids.  Parents have always taught their children how to eat, when to sleep, and how to interact with other people, but parenting today is incomplete without lessons on how to interact with technology, and for how long each day.

      Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
Adam Alter

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.