Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two by Two

In a few minutes I am going to make a casserole of breakfast enchiladas for a surprise grandma shower. My friend Lois is awaiting the birth of her first grandchildren, a set of twins. Her daughter Elizabeth lives far away in Colorado. Yesterday, Lois found out that the babies, at 32 weeks, now weigh in at a little over 4lb. and a little over 5lb. The doctor is pleased because they had hoped to get Betsy to 32 weeks and 10 lbs. of baby.

My gift to Lois are two small baby hats wrapped up with a Noah's Ark book by Jane Brett--it seemed symbolically fitting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This land is your land, this land is my land

I felt proud of my country today, for the second time in a very long time. And I do not say that lightly, nor do I say that with remorse. The first time was in November on election night eve when the power of democracy spoke loudly, and the voice of the people was clearly heard. I did not cry today…but I then I was seated in my classroom with two students and two colleagues flanking me. I DID, however, cry Sunday afternoon, listening to Pete Seeger (along with Bruce Springsteen), sing “This Land Is Your Land,” a song I heard him sing on an LP in the 60’s in my bedroom, played in my classroom in the 80’s, triumphantly saw realized in front of my television in ‘08, and celebrated today on January 20, 2009, the day we inaugurated Barack Obama, the 44th President of “these United States.” As a child of the 50’s, a teenager who came of age of the 60’s and saw hoses pointed and dogs loosed on Civil Rights protesters, who heard and internalized the words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “ I Have A Dream Speech,” who watched in horror at the bombing in Birmingham, the protest at the lunch counter in Greensboro, the bravery of the Little Rock 9, and the march on Selma; this day means a fruition of all those hopes and all those dreams that my fifteen year old self thought died in 1968 on a balcony in Memphis when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and a scant time later in a hotel in California with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy…I am proud of my country who reached deep into its soul and finally saw beyond “the color of ones skin to the content of ones character.”

I believe, as does the generation of my children who ultimately was responsible for electing Barack Obama, that we have a chance to be better…finally. And now, I have hope that my grandson will see the fruition of this potential; I have the faith that it IS really possible...Amen (let it be so).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Over the past two years, I have spent the Martin Luther King Jr. in-service day, organizing community service for my fellow faculty members. This year due to a cancelled mammogram, I ended up participating in the formal, district-organized program…it was a good day. The keynote of the morning session was an abridged version of a documentary film, shown on PBS, about the DeWolf family, the most successful slave traders in the United States. The family hailed from Bristol, Rhode Island. The myth of Northerners as abolitionists who somehow remain untainted by the scourge of slavery was dashed. Our country, all of us, grew and flourished on the backs of Africans stolen from their homes…and we are all, in a way, linked to that. Rather sobering….something I need to think on.

Feeling guilty about NOT doing community service this year (especially since our new president and his wife called us all to do exactly that), I thought I might at least reclaim the time in my own fashion. Thus, while I listened and watched, I knit a prayer shawl ( a traditional Lions Brand yarn and design), destined to go with our church’s Nicaragua Medial Mission team over spring break. So as I listened to how our country built its wealth and its destiny on the backs of enslaved peoples from Africa, my hands attempted to somehow redeem this time for at least one woman in a third world country who might benefit from the cover of a shawl crafted from my hands….

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mindless Mitts

It is the dulling season, and I feel things slowing, hibernating in a variety of ways. The cold wave upon us (-3 degrees on the thermometer this morning) imprisons us because even a few minutes outside is too much. Exercise feels unattainable and my urge to stir up a batch of chocolate chip cookies wars with the dismay I feel over a scale inching upward. Obviously, I am cocooning...

Apparently that sense of sluggishness manifests itself in the focus of my knitting this week. I have been working on easy, mindless projects—using comfortable and quick patterns to work through small skeins of Morehouse Farm Merino purchased for Barbara and Alex’s Christmas mittens. I haven’t felt the urge to tackle a bigger project, although a lovely bag of Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed beckons me to begin Alexander’s birthday vest. It is time to jump start my metabolism, physically, emotionally, and spiritually…

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sleep in heavenly peace

Our first truly beautiful snowfall of the season...

Two little kittens have found their mittens

Finally, I pulled together Katie and Max's Christmas present, two sample mittens knitted to try yarn and patterns, stuffed with fiber fill and catnip. A fun time was had by all...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You know you are a knitter when...

...your family gives you knitting gifts! It was a lovely Christmas and my gifts from my family were so perfectly suited to me. Jim bought me a beautiful knitting basket, hand made through fair trade cottage industry in Rwanda. Rob bought me three promising skeins of yarn, one of which is already in use turning into mitts, and Barbara bought me the loveliest sock book that combines the history of sock knitting with inspirational sock patterns, which I resolve to try this year. I appreciate and all of these gifts; it is good to feel both loved and understood....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Prayerful Knitting

I have two friends currently battling cancer; daily they remain close to my heart and constantly in my prayers. Knitting for them really helps me create physicality to that care. For Carolyn, a fellow breast cancer survivor facing a sentinel node biopsy and radiation, I extended Christmas knitting by creating a pink Fair Isle headband with left over skeins of Lambs Pride wool. For Debra who has thyroid cancer and who also faces more surgery and radiation treatment, I decided upon a prayer shawl from a skein of Duo, a soft, Swedish yarn I bought at Gate City Yarns in Greensboro North Carolina. My knitting focuses my thoughts and my prayers, all the while creating something of warmth and comfort. Tonight I fastened the tassels on Deb’s shawl and tomorrow I will write out a prayer to include in each tissue-wrapped package…gifts from my hands and my heart.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Today signals the beginning of a brand new year. I am glad to release the old one, which seems unusually worn and tired. Last night walking to the car after seeing Valkyrie, Jim and I commented on this very thing—our eagerness to see a new year dawn. Pondering what good things 2008 could claim, we agreed the major triumph of the year surely was the election of Barack Obama as our new president.

During the movie, I knit a square (really a first for me…I can knit in the dark just fine!), using up leftover yarn used to make Christmas potholder gifts for friends. Later, ending the day, I crocheted two rows of yarn, using up a bit of Blue Sky Alpaca left over from Chris’ ribbed hat and finishing a skein of Lambs Pride brown left over from a birthday hat for Jessie, and earwarmers for Jim and Dick. Today, I will felt this garter stitch square into a potholder. I like the idea that I gathered up these remnants to knit together a thing of use for my kitchen. A recycler, even before there was such a term, my great grandmother Edna Otto Bame took old coats and woolens and turned them into beautiful hooked rugs. It seems appropriate as we begin the new year while looking back over the past one, a year of dramatic economic downturn, that my grandmothers' motto, “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or live without” informs my own this year….