Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

My father, Eugene Herman, served in the United States Army from May 27, 1943 until February 24, 1946. He was just 20 years old when he began his service in the Signal Corps, the military branch responsible for military communications (signals).

While I was cleaning out Dad's desk after he died, I discovered this little blue book--"My Life in the Service." His handwriting appears to me somewhat unrecognizable, certainly a much younger version of the familiar distinctive scrawl of his later adult years.

Reading this journal is strangely odd. Surprisingly, it is more a day-by-day reporting of the weather, an account of letters received, a mention of movies watched, and brief commentaries on friends. Peppered in the entries are fewer historical references than I would have anticipated from the man who was still discussing politics until the day before he died. It does, however, offer me a snapshot of the young man my father was during this historical time. I am grateful to have found it.

Here is an entry:

K.P. Tomorrow. I’m staying in tonight listening to my radio. News came in fast today. Teletypes at FX ran almost continuously all day. Followed tape waiting for V-E day. All but part of Checz. and Norway remain in Allied hands. Nazis expected to give in. Over 900,000,000 words have left Britain since war began. This is only cabled or wired words. Radio not included. 100,000,000 stories have been filed. Beginning to get into FM. I really like this stuff.
Mood-indifferent. Weather-clear and warm.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010


..the strawberries are in. Yesterday, I froze, jammed, nibbled, and put together a strawberry shortcake for Matthew for dinner. So good, all of it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mindless May Saturday

The countdown has begun. As of today, I have 16 (!) days left of school. Unless you are a teacher, you can, perhaps, only vaguely summon this end-of-the-year of state of mind-- weary, a bit melancholy, and yet almost (not yet) triumphant. After 22 years of teaching, the signs are all there: my summer-read books are all haphazardly stacked on the desk in my study--these are the books I can read when I don't have to read a book in order to teach it; the "to do" list of my own summer "home" work has begun in my mind, if not on paper; and, I have already started to look at my summer calendar and already have started blocking out time for family and carving out time for me during the 10 weeks that are "officially" summer vacation (it all goes by so much more quickly than I can ever imagine).

Lately, I have been working on a pretty mindless knitting project--a little afghan of blocks. I am only half way finished, but this afternoon, after a brief, restorative power nap, I decided to stitch together the first two strips of blocks while sipping a glass of wine. The pattern is pretty easy-- a knit-one-purl-one rhythm; however, it offers just enough color to keep it somewhat intriguing (albeit not overly taxing). Seems sort of perfect for the day and for the time of year, don't you think?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This and That

This morning was a perfect Saturday morning--the air clear, the sky brilliantly blue, and the Spring green abundantly revealed. After the crack-of-dawning cup of coffee and reading of our local paper, the day officially began with the making of this most delicious soup, destined for Sunday lunch, and while still in the kitchen, I made a batch of these for coffee hour tomorrow. Jim wanted to take a box of financial records to a local credit union, which yearly offers free shredding for contributions to our local food bank. Two big boxes of cereal bought us purged and shredded paper. Since we were going to be about, I suggested a trip to Way Fruit Farm in search of the North Carolinian strawberries (and they are really so sweet, just as advertised!) touted in their weekly email. Already out in the countryside, we continued to wind our way through fields and forests, ending up at Spruce Creek and the cemetery where my parents are buried. I was delighted to see that the VFW recently posted a brand new flag next to the headstone; Memorial Day is right around the corner. And all along the knitting needles followed, clicking out their subtly relaxing mantra.

I believe in the profoundly restorative value of time to putz and time to wander.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Toe Up Socks

My husband mailed off my son-in-law's birthday socks this week, so (hopefully) they will arrive in time for his birthday, early next week. This toe-up pattern was knit from Knit Picks fingering weight tweed yarn. Happy Birthday Chris!

I learned how to knit socks using this same toe-up, short-row pattern which is actually a bit more complicated than the more traditional knitted heel-flap-and-gusset sock pattern, created from the cuff down. Every time I plan a sock project, I think about the choice of these two looks and fit. I like the look of the the toe-up pattern; it looks like a store bought sock and fits snug to the foot. But I also like the cuff down gusset sock (see my previous green striped sock post), and I really like how it comfortably cradles the heel.

I guess my sock story is a bit like other things in life--there are many possible paths to a final destination and many good choices to reach a similar end result. There is rarely only one way to do something. In our increasingly either/or world, we too easily forget that it can be both/and.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


We have a friend who faithfully and regularly writes letters by hand, page after page of news of family, friends, and our former church. I marvel at her constancy and admire her discipline to sit with stationary, taking the time to handwrite a letter, surely a dying genre (and art form?). It is rare that I put pen to paper anymore, aside from responding to student work. On the occasion I do pick up a pen, I may even compose my thoughts on the keyboard before I write it out by hand.

This weekend, I spent time in the mountains of a neighboring county on retreat with women of my church. We were so cut off from “civilization” that my cell phone labored to connect well enough to tell my husband I had arrived safely. Our conversation consisted of me mostly saying, “Can you hear me?” Frankly, I found it unnerving, and that troubles me. As part of our retreat we were given time and space, along with several options of how to use the gift of such unfettered freedom. I chose to read scripture and to “psalm,” a verb form of writing I’ve never tried. Minus my computer, I pulled out a pen and a yellow legal pad. I wrote, crossed out, rewrote. Flipped to a new page. Copied the first page. Crossed out. Added. Rewrote. Turned to another page. Rearranged, revised, rewrote and copied. All tolled—four pages of writing with all its scribbled permutations there to see.

During this reflective writing, I pondered the role of technology, considering its omnipresent tug and the price it exacts. I cautioned myself not to neglect to turn off the computer (where now I write), and challenged myself to resurrect the practice of keeping an intentional journal, preserving words and logging life (and prayer) in a way that will not disappear with the flip of a switch. It starts tomorrow.