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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

mid-month (very wordy) yarn along and gideon method update

If it's possible for a book to be a disappointment and a page-turner simultaneously, Gone with the Wind is just that.  Z and I watched the film before I finished listening to it, and I almost couldn't finish it, knowing what was coming.  I listened to the last hour yesterday, with a deep sense of despair.  Scarlett and Rhett have such a selfish relationship, if indeed their interactions can be called a relationship.  They are constantly at cross purposes, and refuse to humble themselves--it's a nightmare.  Lately I have been focusing on the sacramental nature of marriage and parenthood from both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic point of view, and the associated humility and continual self-denial.  Rhett and Scarlett are an example of the exact opposite of that!  There's no redemption!  It was difficult and painful to listen to.   If nothing else, this book is a model of how not to do things.

I finished Mr. Midshipman Easy over the weekend, and immediately started  The Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain, which has been on my list for the past few years.  So far it's delightful.  I know that it's a work of fiction, but the description of Joan's bravery and virtue are so inspiring!   Quite a departure from Gone with the Wind.

As for the Gideon Method, ha.  I started well, following my self-imposed rules for when to knit projects, and then I regained some momentum with a long abandoned project and threw the "rules" out the window.  I do believe that the point of the Gideon method is to pull out languishing projects and give them some knitting time, which is exactly what happened!  I also think that I'm self-disciplined about finishing (most) projects before I cast on for new ones.  So maybe the Gideon Method isn't necessary for me.

For example,  I only allow myself to have one pair of socks going at a time.  I knit a pair of socks for T as a Name's Day gift (those blue ones in the first picture) and as soon as they were finished, I cast on a pair of socks using leftovers from a pair of socks I never blogged about.  I have two sock yarn blankets on the needles, but those are long-term projects, ones I use to fill in the corners of my knitting time.  As I knit through my sock yarn leftovers, I am amazed at how much my tastes have changed in the last five or ten years.  There's some leftover Jojoland Melody I'm using right now that brings back memories!  I bought two balls at the local yarn shop when I visited my alma mater twelve (!) years ago, and made a pair of socks with it.  The socks have long since worn out, and the yarn shop is out of business, but the yarn reminds me of those long ago days!  Two little, little ones at home (both are taller than me now), traveling with just them to visit friends and family,  deliberating over the yarn while trying to keep M from dismantling the store, knitting those socks on dpns while waiting in the hall for Greek school classes to end.  Even without a written list, each little scrap of yarn is in my memory--the name of the fiber, the project it was used for, what was happening in my life when I first used it.  (The project pouch I'm using for my sock yarn squares is from this Etsy store.  It's great.)

One benefit of the Gideon Method was that I forced myself to put the finishing touches on some little sewing projects.  Little M has a new Geranium dress to wear, and the birthday crowns got an elastic replacement, which should help with fit.  I also pulled out my Chauncey sweater and attacked the buttonbands.  They only need a ribbon for reinforcement, and then they'll be done.  Whew!  I've half-finished the first sleeve, and while there's momentum, I'm knitting.

And I finally cast on the Autumn Blush shawl in Madelinetosh Vintage.  I bought the yarn years ago, intending to knit the shawl years ago, and I'm having second thoughts.  Not that the yarn isn't lovely, but looking through my shawl collection, I realized that the shawls I reach for most often are in naturally dyed (or undyed) very woolly yarn.  I'm not sure if the variegated superwash wool will stand the test of time for me. I love the pattern, though!  Perhaps another version in YOTH Father or  Plotulopi?

p.s.  I picked up a medium-sized leather pouch/clutch at the amazing local thrift shop, but I can't figure out that to use it for.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

yarn along: a fool's reviews

I finished a couple of books and projects last week, within a few days of the end of the month.  I don’t usually commit any reviews to writing, at least anything more specific than liking (or not liking) a book, the reason being that I am exceedingly unqualified.  Recently though, the books I have been reading bear a little more scrutiny than a thumbs up or down.

Waverley is my first finished book for the decade.  I began it over the summer and spent the first hundred pages or so grappling with Scott’s prose.  I know people rave about Scott, and especially this novel, but to me it fell flat.  Edward Waverley, with his vacuous personality, did not deserve the reader’s sympathy or concern.  The way he was buffeted from mishap to mishap through no virtue or fault of his own (except his foolishness) reminded me of Renzo, the hero of The Betrothed.  In addition to a rather unappealing hero, the development of the other characters was lost in a maze of scenic description and contemporary inside jokes/Gaelic dialogue.   The characters had no complexity, and the book ended totally predictably.   It’s definitely not on my re-read list.

I started Mr. Midshipman Easy on February 1 and, contrary to my expectations, it is an absolute delight.  I assumed it would only appeal to a masculine audience, so I decided to pre-read it for my boys.  However, Captain Marryat had me completely engaged at the first paragraph.  It’s delightfully funny--very Dickensian--and right up my alley.  I was hoping this was the first in a series, but I had Mr. Midshipman Easy confused with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (another book/series I’d like to read). Oh, well.  I will savor every page of this stand-alone.

This month I also started The Way of a Pilgrim, which I first read almost two decades ago.  I'll have to go back and re-read which sections of it I transcribed into my journal at the time.   They're probably the exact passages I am writing in my commonplace notebook right now, which bears witness to the book's timelessness.

I'm in the middle of A Return to Modesty, with the hope of participating in the Lenten reading group with Auntie Leila.  I'm interested to see what discussions the book sparks.

I've gotten more into the Audible habit, and I'm thirty-nine hours into Gone with the Wind.  I've been listening here and there since this summer, but the majority of those thirty-nine hours have been heard in the last two months, while I clean house.  It was highly, highly recommended to me by a homeschooled friend, which is funny because having listened, I can't picture her reading it.  Scarlett is another anti-hero, not in the Waverley type, but quite another type altogether.  I can't stand her, and I deplore most of the decisions she has made to this point.  And she's so dim!  In fact, Melanie Wilkes and Rhett Butler are the only two characters in the entire tome that I have come to respect.  I'm not sure what I think about the portrayal of social class, money, race, and the Civil War.  Is it accurate?  More research in that vein is definitely warranted.  But I'm hooked, it's making me think, and there's still a chance Scarlett will change.  Only ten hours to go.

I finished two projects right at the end of January--a pair of socks for T's upcoming Name's Day, and a shawl (I can't remember the pattern name!  but the yarn is here, bought here) for my mother's birthday next month.    There are several other projects that I have been wanting to work on, and a couple I'm pushing to finish.  I was a little flustered about it, despite all of my lists and flow charts and self-imposed rules.  Then Wool and Honey posted about The Gideon Method on their blog.   I'm excited to see how this helps my progress along a variety of different projects.  I've divided the day into 6 hour increments; from 6 am until 6 pm are the two blocks of easy knits, and from 6 pm to midnight is the block for my more challenging projects, including some sewing and cross-stitch (basically things that need my full attention).

Joining Ginny...

Thursday, January 30, 2020

but the house is still standing

Halfway to our destination during a day trip last spring, I had a paralyzing thought.  Had I left the gas burner running when I made my tea? There was no way to turn back home, and I spent the rest of the day anxious about whether or not the house would still be whole when we returned.  It was.  I had remembered to turn off the burner, and had worried all day for nothing.

Today, when we opened the door of the house after being gone for eight hours, a strange smell met us.  It was like stale oil, but also kind of like burning plastic?  The whole house smelled like it.  My oldest had been home from school for a little while before us and she mentioned it, too.  I walked around for a bit trying to figure out where odor had started, when lo! I saw that the gas stove burner had been left on low.  Whoever was the last to make eggs this morning had forgotten to turn off the burner, and left the dirty skillet on top of it!  (Insert wide-eyed emoji) I admonished the culprit, and banned the child from future egg frying, at least egg-frying when we're trying to rush out the door.  But how funny that I went about my day in complete ignorance, while our house had an open flame of fire hazard and death lit for eight hours!  And nothing happened!  Praise God!

In order to clear the awful smell, I opened a window and burned some incense.  I have recently been burning it to cover odors in our first floor bathroom.  No matter how often I clean the toilet (inside, outside, and the floor beneath it), the bathroom smells like a guys' dorm.  It's the same with the third floor, where the boys live, but we don't generally offer our guests the bathroom up there!  Candles typically give me headaches, whether the food-smelling ones or the floral ones, so I can't use them to cover odors.  Throughout the rest of the house I use essential oils, but this particular tiny bathroom is tricky.  So I thought of incense sticks!  I really like this kind and this one is ok.  They definitely help to fumigate the house!

Fr G took another class at the woodworking studio last night and surprised me with the finished product--the lovely bowl in the picture above is entirely handmade by him!   He thinks we need a lathe now ;) I'd support that purchase! The yarn above wants to become two pairs of socks, as soon as I've finished a few other projects.  Yarn on top is Woolenboon sock in Peach Perfect.  Their website is currently down, so I'm not able to link to it.  Yarn on bottom is Madelinetosh EuroSock in the colorway Librarian's Dream.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

something for him

My husband, as we were preparing for bed a few days ago, asked me if I would be okay with him taking a class at a local woodworking studio.  He has been talking about taking classes for years, but has never managed to fit them into his schedule.  This class would be in the evening, on the only weeknight evening we all have at home as a family.  As usual, my first impulse was to say no.  I struggle with flexibility and changed plans, mostly because my days are scheduled down to the minute.  We have such precious little time with my husband, and it’s challenging to solo-parent my children at the end of the day (when I am drained and they get a sudden burst of manic energy).

But I didn’t say no.  I thought about all the times he has watched the kids so I could run errands or taken them on a walk so I could do some uninterrupted tasks.  So much of his time is spent doing things for others, which he does gladly—it’s the nature of his character and his job.  But, as most clergy families will tell you, it’s hard to empty ourselves without ever having a chance to recharge our batteries.  (Sorry for the mixed metaphor!)  I knew this would be an opportunity for him to recharge.

He arrived home bearing a beautiful (and really substantial) cutting board that he had made, thrilled at using all the fancy equipment at the studio.  {I shared a little last year about the table he made for our dining room. It’s beautiful!}  I’m excited to see where this new hobby will take him.

p.s. The kids and I found a new walking trail that's closer to our house than our other favorites.  They were all entranced by the waterfall and threw quite a bit over it, just to see it zip past.  The boys tried to get that big log over the falls, too--M rolled it all the way up the the brink, but some bushes on the edge thwarted him.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

SHINE. make 'em wonder what you got.*

The first picture encapsulates our Christmas so well: a joyous blur.  We have hosted family, which was totally delightful.  The weather cooperated so that we could spend some time being tourists in the city, but the crowds didn't!  We were unable to see the sites on my mother-in-law's bucket list--for her next visit we'll be better prepared.  We did see some historical places, which were very meaningful.  G dressed in his colonial costume for the trip.  We sampled some authentic local cuisine, too!  In fact, this Christmas break has been low-key relaxing, punctuated by delicious meals.  My dream break.  Our guests leave tomorrow morning, which is always a sad thing.  I have a couple of projects to work on during our last school-free days, in addition to prepping school work, and I've been promising the boys that I'll get out the four giant Lego bins that I hid this summer.  What was I thinking???


Toward the end of 2019, my daily Bible and Church Father readings all seemed to have a theme, which helped me to pick a word, Bible verse, and motto for the coming year.  The word is SHINE.    Matthew 5:16 is my Bible verse: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  And my motto comes from 1 Timothy: Adorn yourself with good works (as opposed to the vain, material adornments that are so tempting for me).  I'm excited to (prayerfully) see where this focus leads.  The New Year always finds me totally aimless in my goals, and I've never had an intention be so undeniable or unignorable(that's totally a word, I promise)! I hope that bodes well.

I have an extensive list of books to read this year.  There are five(!) more arriving soon, and then I'm not allowing myself to order any more books for a while.  In addition to the ones pictured, I am most excited to read The Death of Christian Culture and The Restoration of Christian Culture.  Large Family Logistics is going to be my devotional this month, as ponder what the course of our family will be over the next decade.  I have SO many knitting, hand-sewing, and sewing projects on my list, too.  I've got three in the works that need to be finished before I can cast on anything new.  (That bobble bonnet, for my nephew's upcoming birthday, is the last finished project of 2019. )

I hope your year will bring health, joy, and peace!  May it be blessed.  xoxo

*This is from my teenage days--did anyone out there ever listen to the Christian band Newsboys?  Apparently they're still putting out albums!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

finding joy


I wrote the title of this post after a particularly exhausting day, one that had me questioning whether homeschooling is serving my children anymore.  On really hard days, it's a challenge to find the good, but I was determined to that evening.  In a dark bedroom, waiting as my two youngest fell asleep, I swiped through my photo album in search of something that could remind me of joy.  I found an abundance of reminders--handmade quilts, a new star ornament, drying hand-knit socks, a successful first attempt at a lined button band, the joy of a newly minted seven-year-old, memories from a quick visit to family. 

And I prayed. I prayed for the patience to see joy in frustrating moments, which God gave in heaps.

May your season be filled with peace, and the patience to see the good during challenges!

Friday, November 29, 2019


My mom and dad were here for Thanksgiving.  The conversation and bustle all blur together, but I think they got an accurate idea of our life here.  My dad had requested a visit to a nature reserve in the area, which kept getting postponed because of different activities.  Finally, on Wednesday we made it!  We used to visit this place often, but our schedule is so full now that it's a rare treat.  I think my New Year's resolutions may include more nature walks with just our family. 

I retired a pair of socks recently--one that had been with me for a little over a decade.  The yarn wore really well, and outlasted several other pairs that I knit at around the same time.  I added a new pair to my sock drawer, too.  New hand-knit socks are, I think, my favorite.