Tuesday, October 27, 2020


 I'm taking a bit of a break and hope to be back soon (ish) (as soon as I resolve my computer issues)!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

Earlier this week I was reading an article about monarch caterpillars and wondered if I could find any interesting poems about them. While this one is not specifically about monarchs, I like the evocative language along with all the valuable advice offered.  

Advice from a Caterpillar
Amy Gerstler

Chew your way into a new world.
Munch leaves. Molt. Rest. Molt
again. Self-reinvention is everything.
Spin many nests. Cultivate stinging
bristles. Don't get sentimental
about your discarded skins. Grow
quickly. Develop a yen for nettles.
Alternate crumpling and climbing. Rely
on your antennae. Sequester poisons
in your body for use at a later date.
When threatened, emit foul odors
in self-defense. Behave cryptically
to confuse predators: change colors, spit,
or feign death. If all else fails, taste terrible.

Gerstler, Amy. "Advice from a Caterpillar." Dearest Creature, Penguin Books, 2009. 

You can read more about the poet here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, molting, resting, self-reinvention, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, today with some making of a slightly different sort for me.

I have my mother's old console Singer sewing machine and it sits on a landing at the top of the stairs. I see it multiple times each day, and it has had mask-making supplies piled on top for weeks. I finally decided to stop feeling guilty every time I pass by and just sew them.

I thought I had cut out at least 12 masks along with the lining fabric, but I hit a small snag when I realized that I had only thought about cutting out the lining (kind of like imaginary knitting).

I didn't want to lose momentum, so I quickly cut out a bunch of lining pieces. Nylon has worked well for me in previous masks, but I had used up all my old half slips. I decided I probably wasn't going to wear the slip I used with my wedding dress ever again, so it got repurposed.

And after an afternoon of sewing, (some ripping), and pressing, I had masks! I sewed six of them, but I took pictures of these when I was packing them up to send to Ryan.

I'll be wearing my own new favorite mask when I go to the post office tomorrow. You can't see it, but this mask makes me smile!

I finished a wonderful book last week, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. If you are interested in World War I, historical fiction, homing pigeons, or just a really well-told story, I highly recommend this book. I'm also reading Real Life, The Women of Brewster Place, and Keep Moving, but I'm still in the midst of a book hangover from Cher Ami, so I haven't made much progress with any of them. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Worry over the Weekend ...

 ... and beyond. I've written about the Cameron Peak Fire before but it exploded again last Wednesday when wind gusts approaching 70 mph pushed the fire 15 miles east and closer to Fort Collins. Strong winds persisted throughout most of the weekend and will continue into next week, keeping the fire near-critical for the period. The last time I wrote about the fire 103,000 acres were burning; it's currently 203,000 acres and growing. It is now the largest wildfire in CO history, and this weekend two new wildfires ignited near Boulder in addition to the hundreds burning throughout the west. 

My worries and concerns are for Ryan, and also the thousands of firefighters and all of the people who have been evacuated, many who don't yet know if they will have a home to return to or when this destructive wildfire season will be over. We all know how difficult it is to live with the uncertainty of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of knowing what will happen on a day to day basis with wildfires only adds to the apprehension and anguish. 

I was at home in NJ this weekend, doing mundane things like laundry, vacuuming, making calzones, reading, and knitting, but my heart, mind, and thoughts were with Ryan and all of those suffering in the west. I sincerely hope we elect a new president on November 3, one that knows that climate change is real, is guided by science, and willing to take action, not simply suggest that we sweep up dead leaves

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

I have been so taken with Barbara Kingsolver's second volume of poetry, How to Fly, that I ordered her first book of poems, Another America/Otra America. Published in 1998, Kingsolver has written poems about war, parenting, personal/national trauma, man's inhumanity to man, abuse, family and human rights, and social justice. Additionally, the poems are published in English on the right-hand page, and in Spanish on the left-hand page. 

These poems are powerful, disturbing, and haunting, and the fact that they are accessible in both Spanish and English makes them even more so. 

Ordinary Miracle
Barbara Kingsolver

I have mourned lost days
when I accomplished nothing of importance.
But not lately.

Lately, under the lunar tide
of a woman's ocean, I work
my own sea-change:
turning grains of sand to human eyes.
I daydream after breakfast
while the spirit of egg and toast
knits together a length of bone
as fine as wheatstalk.
Later, as I postpone weeding the garden
I will make two hands
that may tend a hundred gardens.

I need ten full moons exactly
for keeping the annual promise.
I offer myself up: unsaintly, up
transmuted anyway
by the most ordinary miracle.
I am nothing in this world beyond the things
one woman does.
But there are eyes that once were pearls.
And here is a second chance where there was none.

Kingsolver, Barbara. "Ordinary Miracle." Another America/Otra America, Seal Press, 1998. 
You can read more about the author here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, ordinary miracles, the ability to recognize them, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with some progress on the current Hitchhiker, some new(ish) yarn, and some new books.

I continue to be enthralled by unraveling the Wollmeisen roll, feeling the crinkly texture of the yarn, reknitting it, and watching the gradient emerge. I am of two minds with this project: I could happily knit on this for a long time, and I would also like to see it done, blocked, and ready to wear so I can move on to something else. It will probably end up somewhere in between.

In the moving on to something else department, Ryan gifted me with this yarn for Christmas last year. He's asked about it several times, and when he mentioned it for the third time on Monday, I decided it was time to at least wind it and be ready to cast on. I've been carrying it back and forth between NJ and MD for several weeks, so I sat down for a pleasurable hand-winding experience. What will I cast on? I'm not sure, but I can't help but wonder what it would look like knit into a Hitchhiker.

I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (wonderful and the perfect book to read during Covid times) and Monogamy (a good exploration of marriage with some nice domestic details). My inability to fall back to sleep early Monday morning turned out to be serendipitous and led to my favorite book this week, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney. I ended up perusing my hometown library website at 3:00 am, and after I read the description of this book, I was so curious that I had to download it. I just couldn't ignore WWI historical fiction based on real events and characters, one of which is a homing pigeon that narrates every other chapter. It may sound odd, but I'm finding it remarkable and the book will most likely be among my favorites this year. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Women of Brewster Place

Last week Kym told you a bit about our next Read With Us book, The Women of Brewster Place, and next week is Carole's turn. That means it's my turn this week. 

Gloria Naylor was an African-American novelist who won the National Book Award for first fiction in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. I have often found that I enjoy and understand a book more if I know something about the author and her circumstances. The author's parents were sharecroppers in Mississippi but moved to Harlem to escape the segregated south. Naylor's mother didn't have much education but loved to read, and encouraged her daughter to do the same. 

“Realizing that I was a painfully shy child, she gave me my first diary and told me to write my feelings down in there,” Naylor said in her National Book Award acceptance speech. “Over the years that diary was followed by reams and reams of paper that eventually culminated into ‘The Women of Brewster Place.’ And I wrote that book as a tribute to her and other black women who, in spite of the very limited personal circumstances, somehow manage to hold a fierce belief in the limitless possibilities of the human spirit.”

The assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 changed Naylor's educational plans. She postponed college and became a missionary for the Jehovah's Witnesses in New York, North Carolina, and Florida. She left seven years later because "things weren't getting better, but worse."

At Brooklyn College, Naylor made a big promise to herself — to write at least four novels and at least one that would outlast her. Her fiction often revolved around a common place, like Brewster Place or the diner in Bailey’s Cafe. Some of her characters also tended to be dreamers which reflected Naylor’s love of fairy tales.

“It runs throughout my work, the theme of dreaming,” she told The Associated Press in 1992. “I ask myself why it always seems important. I am a daydreamer and I once was an avid daydreamer. I would dream in serials, the daydreams would start where the others left off.”

"I was still reading (fairy tales) ... at age 16. You wanted Prince Charming and I looked too long. At some point, an adult woman has to wake up and smell the coffee.”
I hope you'll also figuratively wake up, smell the coffee, and read The Women of Brewster Place with us. We'll be hosting the book discussion on our blogs on November 10th, so you've got plenty of time (and I know quite a few of you have already read the book)!