Monday, January 18, 2021

MLK



These are two of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes and nothing I might add will improve upon his words. 
Let's keep putting his words into action. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poetry on Thursday


On Monday night when we went to the ER, I grabbed a tote bag that had my knitting and Poetry of Presence in it. When the doctor was done evaluating John, he asked what I was reading, and we talked about poetry a little bit. He told me that the Journal of the American Medical Association had been publishing poetry for a while and they were all available on JAMA Network. I was surprised to find 56 pages of poems there. I watched multiple people wash their hands as they each entered John's cubicle, so this poem seemed especially appropriate in this time of renewed attention to handwashing for all of us.

Handwashing 0347
by Ron Louie, M.D. 

At this time of night, my hands
know what to do, stubbornly,
poorly pre-programmed
but compelled and automatic still,
with the cold bracing water
and the glop of scented soap
unable to break their rhythm,
movements purposeful and synchronized
not just the deep creases of the palms
but the six webs between the eight fingers
counting the thumbs separately
each grabbed by the opposing fist
bent with friction and twisted firmly,
then sliding each cupped palm
around the flesh beneath the shortest fingers
surprisingly cooler than anywhere else,
moving down to surround each wrist
around and around to a vague spot
halfway to the elbow
with an unthinking brushing
of fingerpads and thumbs against ten shorn nails
before plunging it all
under what is thought to be a glistening absolution,
believing that traces of the past can be further diminished,
the hands now ready to be dry again, ready to go again
no matter what finished at 0344.

JAMA. 2018;319(24):2561. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0094
You can read more Poetry and Medicine here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, attention to handwashing, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with more teeth on the Hitchhiker due to car, emergency room, and parking lot knitting, a finished hat, and a win at yarn chicken. 


It may not be obvious but there are about ten more teeth on the Hitchhiker than there were last week. I knit in the car during John's procedure on Monday, in the emergency room on Monday night when he started bleeding and we couldn't get it stopped, and then I spent more time car knitting in the parking lot at a follow-up procedure on Tuesday. We were home for about an hour and a half and guess what? It started bleeding again, so back we went. Things seem to be okay now, so while it wasn't much fun for either one of us, I did get plenty of knitting time.


I had enough knitting time that I finished the hat and got to wear it on Tuesday. I also won at yarn chicken with only about a foot left over.

I read a wonderful book this week, Mathematics for Human Flourishing. I know the word mathematics in the title tends to turn people off, but if you see this book at the library and are at all interested, I would encourage you to take a look at it. Francis Su is an enthusiastic, empathetic, and emphatic math professor at Harvey Mudd College. Mathematics for Human Flourishing is based on his speech of the same name, given at the Joint Math Meetings in January of 2017. While he was speaking to mathematicians then, this book is written for a general audience. In it, he talks about five basic human desires that are met through the pursuit of math — play, beauty, truth, justice, and love. This is a novel idea to us, but the ancient Greeks had a concept called eudaimonia, a life composed of all the highest goods. Su points out that math can help build and develop exploration, meaning, play, beauty, truth, confidence in struggle, justice, community, and love.  If you are a human who wants to flourish and also help others to do the same, do yourself a favor and read this book.

This book is not about how great mathematics is, though it is, indeed, a glorious endeavor. Nor does it focus on what math can do, though it undeniably can do many things. Rather, this is a book that grounds mathematics in what it means to be a human being and to live a more fully human life.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Read With Us: Leave the World Behind


I'm here today with our first promotional post for the next Read With Us book: Leave the World Behind


The US cover has a picture of a placid swimming pool at night, but this calm image belies the turmoil within. The UK cover on the right doesn't give away much more, just the fact that deer figure into the story somehow. It's the story of how an upper-middle-class white family from Brooklyn and a wealthy Black couple from the Upper East Side deal with something going on out there, while accidentally sharing a vacation home. The elements of possible but unknown disaster are not just happening outside, but age, gender, wealth, and racial stereotypes are at play within, happening in the vacation home and in the characters' minds. 

So why do I think you should read this book? It's a disaster novel without a defined disaster, so Alam keeps the reader fairly close to the characters. I found them and their thought processes interesting. Amanda and her husband Clay are vacationing at an Airbnb on Long Island with their two teenage children. The Black owners of the house, G.H. and Ruth Washington, show up late at night, and we are treated to Amanda's internal monologue which has racist tones, but she is conscious enough of them to try to not appear racist. There is also an omniscient narrator that reveals only small bits of information to keep the reader just a bit more informed than the characters.

The characters' reactions to the unknown are also interesting - fill the bathtub with water, think that the cash they have stashed away might help them, or bake a cake. I read the book with a growing sense of doom; how were these people going to cope, get through the upheaval, and move to the "new normal" (how often have we have that term in the last year)? So my biggest reason for wanting people to read Leave the World Behind is that it raises more questions than it answers. This may not be the type of book you typically read, but it does seem ideal for the first Read With Us book of 2021. We had a wonderful "in-person" Zoom discussion of The Women of Brewster Place, and I predict that the discussion of this book could be even better. And isn't that why book groups exist - to discuss, explore, be exposed to other viewpoints, learn, appreciate, and grow? So we'd love it if you read Leave the World Behind and love it even more if you discussed it with us!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is chauffeur day. 

John is having a procedure done at 0-dark-thirty, which means we've had to leave the house ridiculously early this morning. It's a little bit more complicated by covid (just like everything else!) because I'll have to wait 4-6 hours for him. They have a waiting room, but I'm not anxious to breathe indoor air with other people so I think I may just wait in the car. It's supposed to be 22 degrees warming up to 36, so I may be just warm enough. (If only the sun was shining and glinting off the building like their website photo shows.) 

I've got a fully charged Kindle, my iPod, a hat at the decrease points, and of course, my current Hitchhiker. I may even have some progress to show you on Wednesday, especially since there will be a few more hours of chauffeur duty and waiting tomorrow morning, too. 

I hope your week is off to a good start (and that it didn't begin at stupid o'clock)!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

Winner 2020 Backyard Photo Contest, Birds & Blooms, Laurie Normandeau, Longmont, Colorado

I spent quite a bit of time this week searching for the first poem to use for Poetry on Thursday in 2021, but as soon as I read this, I knew it was the one. It has already helped me to build a bridge, to reach out and resolve a worrisome issue. Something happened that was better than all the riches in the world. 

Don't Hesitate
by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

You can read more about the poet here.
Oliver, Mary. "Don't Hesitate". Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, Beacon Press, 2010.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, no hesitation when you feel joy, and some poetry as this week winds down.

======

I wrote this on Wednesday before the violence unfolded at the Capitol, and I've debated this Thursday morning about whether to delete it or not. I decided to leave it, mainly because of these lines: 

There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.

I don't have any appropriate words, but Mary Oliver almost always does. I still have to believe that life has possibilities left and if you feel joy, don't hesitate. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a hat in progress and a Hitchhiker on the needles. The hat is just a boring eight inches of ribbing as of now (but I do like the moss it's on). I knit Justin a Two by Two hat for Christmas and it has interesting decreases but they're not very prominent in the camouflage yarn I used. This is a repeat of that pattern so I can see the decreases. It may be for me or it may go in the Christmas box if nobody claims it.


The Hitchhiker is from a big 600 yd. skein of Dream in Color Smooshy that was a gift from Ryan. It looks sort of Valentine-y to me, so that's my self-imposed deadline for finishing it.

I'm off to a good start with reading and finished three great books this week. Miss Benson's Beetle and All the Acorns on the Forest Floor both earned four stars from me, and I gave The Reason You're Alive 4.5 stars and rounded up to 5. (Thanks, Patty!) If you're ever interested in reading my Goodreads reviews, you can just click on the book title in the Read section of the right-hand sidebar and you'll be whisked right to my well-reasoned thoughts and sagacious opinions. (I am kidding! They are just my ordinary, average thoughts.)

What are you making and reading this week?