Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fur people fans

Today another cat found us. Last week I snapped a charming photograph of our Gracie and Max sleeping together on my favorite chair; I immediately sent it out to the woman who fostered Gracie and to the woman who made it possible for us to adopt her from our local PAWS shelter. Both of these women dedicate large portions of their lives to helping rescue and care for cats, in need of homes. Heretofore, I categorized such people as eccentrics, perhaps slightly turned from people for some odd reason. I was so wrong. I sit in awe of Jackie, the woman who set up business on 88 posted acres of woods to create a lodge for boarding and caring for animals. Her grooming room is home to the revolving colony of the cats she keeps, providing rescue and shelter to some of the too many kittens continually bred out-of-control or safety. Hermione Grace, our darling Gracie, was one of those kittens and her story of living in a barn, raided nightly by coyotes chills us as we cherish the black sprite prancing through our house and our hearts. Jackie asked us in July if we might consider taking another kitten, a little tiger-striped one whose eye was scarred by a birth infection. We were tempted, but it was too soon. This week she asked again (people who rescue must get good at this). This time, it seemed right.

I believe in pet therapy and have seen our pets work magic on our Matthew when he spends his weekend with us. We thought having his own pet, learning how to care for a pet, and calling one of our cats "his" might be good for him. So we took Matthew out to meet this little cat, and she will be joining Max and Gracie and us as soon as next week. This will be the fourth cat who has entered our lives and our home, all of them finding us at just the right time. Her given name is Athena. Matthew said he thought Tiger was a good name and I added Lily, a nod to Peter Pan, a reference to a flower, and fitting recognition of her gender. He already says her name, "Tiger Lily" ; I already think of her as Lily. And she will have a home here with us...three people and two other cats who will grow to love her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cakes of yarn

I just wound five skeins of yarn into beautiful cakes--two skeins of Blue Sky Organic Cotton and three lovely skeins of Manos del Uruguay, yarn that is spun from over 800 artisans in cooperatives scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay. " The aim of the organization is to bring economic opportunities to rural women." I love that people do this and that I can knit yarn from other parts of the world. I feel as if this yarn passes through many hands, women's hands, to get to the people I love. This yarn is intended for family Christmas gifts. I am not even sure what or for whom yet. I keep changing my mind as I mull over patterns and sift through ideas.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I Believe (a poem written along with my students)

What I Believe

I believe in starting my day by sipping a cup of good
coffee, nestling in a cushy chair, reading the
newspaper and
spending time in prayer; I also believe in apple pie
for breakfast, just as my Grandpa taught me. I believe in exercising both the body and the mind,
and I believe knitting keeps me sane.
I believe in looking up at the sky. I believe in eating
locally, composting, recycling,
and leaving a smaller footprint.
I believe that teaching is head and heart work,
requiring knowledge, patience, understanding,
and stamina. I believe that reading and writing
can save us. I believe in my students,
even when they don't believe in themselves. I believe
that being a teenager is really tough, and
today's teenagers are stronger than most.
I believe in my family--my husband, my sons,
my daughter, my grandson, my son-in-law and
my daughter-in-law; we are stronger together than apart.
I believe my grandson is
a red-head, freckled-face package of
pure joy; no one in my family, especially him, should
reside farther away than a one-hour car trip.
I believe that most often the best heroes are unsung,
and that my father looms largest as my hero.
I believe in goodness, kindness, gratitude,
appreciation, and forgiveness. I believe that
labeling people is a problem and
calling someone a "retard" or “gay” is
as damaging as other profanities.
I believe it is unproductive to complain or whine,
even though I do...far too often. I believe in
the power of true friendship, the inherent
power of democracy, and that
a better world is possible if fighting over religion,
wealth, power, and privilege ceased.
I believe art, music, and poetry
help people slow down, listen, and think,
and a day empty of these is wasted.
I believe hope is extraordinarily powerful;
and I truly believe life is celebration
every, every day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Noro Stripes

There is a blog that occasionally makes me think I should give up knitting; this knitter creates art, and my attempts with sticks and yarn seem so pedestrian and prosaic in comparison. When I look at Brooklyn Tweed, I console myself, saying I knit for therapy and to make gifts for those I care about--tangible, touchable proof of my love. So it was with a certain sense of intimidation that I decided to make a Noro Striped Scarf from a Brooklyn Tweed pattern. I love the look of this scarf, so easy and interesting to make. It is the first thing that I have worked on that my husband commented, "I think it is time that I have a scarf you've made." I guess this one is gold!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October in Central Pennsylvania

When my children were young and watching Sesame Street, there was a little ditty asking viewers to choose which "one of these things just doesn't belong." Snowfall in October just doesn't belong in a month of apples, sauce, pies, and beautiful fall foliage. But we had it this week, a historic storm and snowfall that brought down leaf-filled tree limbs and put the power out all over our picturesque town. We were without light, warmth, and the use of our kitchen for 18 hours.

Our sister Margie is here from North Carolina, and last night as we sat bundled in blankets talking over wine and candles, she sincerely questioned her decision to come "home" to Pennsylvania to take in a football game with her brother. Thankfully, our power returned, she and I took warm baths, and normalcy resumed. This morning, when I awoke to brew a cup of coffee and read the morning paper under my corner lamp, I reflected on all I take for granted, the abundance of blessings enjoyed each day. And things warranting whining of late, no longer seem all that important.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Tomorrow is my eldest child's 37th birthday. Hard to believe. By slightly less than one month, I was only 20 years old when our first child, Matthew, was born. It was a time when fathers routinely were not welcomed in delivery rooms, and my husband was ushered out just before his first-born son appeared. He was permitted to watch through the window; he didn't. I think he went out for a smoke. After a long night of painful labor, he had seen enough of me and a baby trying to be born.

Matthew has been a singularly defining presence in my life. He has taught me patience, tenacity, tolerance, belief, perseverance, hope, and faith. He has taught me to say "yes" to whatever life serves up.

Tomorrow, he, his housemates, and his "staff" (..someone in our family really does have "staff!") will gather around this autumnal table for lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and cheesecake (his dinner of choice) to celebrate his life, a life that has defied many who said he would never lead it the way he lives it--independent (as much as he is able), productive, out-in-the-community, and happy.

Happy Birthday to you, my dear son. I too celebrate your life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finally, a picture

I have been wanting to have a picture in my blog title for a long time. And now I do. Thanks to my multi-talented friend Denise, I have a photograph of my new mitts (Fetching), with fingers tapping keys of a vintage, manual typewriter.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thinking organically

So, I finally ordered organically grown yarn. Yes, as many seek to "go green," the yarn industry is not to be left behind. Of course, there is a price to pay for purity, and the cost of organic yarn surpasses the run-of-the-mill (wow, really fitting this particular vernacular expression!) yarns. My niece, the only other granddaughter of my beloved parents, is having a baby, and somehow her baby gift must reside on a different plane from all the hats, sweaters, blankets, booties, and toys I have knit for other mothers-to-be and new babies; I am, after all, the "matriarch" of this branch of the Herman family tree. I feel the weight of that role as I imagine my mother's voice directing me me to take care of such things.

Organic cotton seems and sounds just right. In my search for the perfect gift and perfect yarn, I have ordered two skeins of two yarns--Blue Sky Organic Cotton and Lion Brand Nature's Choice. I will make two striped hats and then compare softness, quality, drape, and look. And finally, I will calculate how much it will cost to make the blanket I have in mind...we'll see.