Monday, September 30, 2013

Family Hand Quilt


Last summer during our family beach week, I managed to corral a few of the Campbell 21 to stop vacationing for a while, allow their hands to be slathered with fabric paint, and press them on some fabric squares. There are more simple squares than hand squares, but while the quilt is not a complete representation of the Campbell beach week, it is at least a colorful sampling

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pennsylvania ♥


 Years ago, before the prevalent use of emoticons,  there was a flurry of  I   something  (e.g. sweatshirts,  bumper stickers,  coffee cups, etc. ).   I don’t own anything that says I  Pennsylvania, but I do. Especially on a perfect, blue-sky September afternoon.

Yesterday, we hauled our bikes to Tioga County and biked almost 18 miles on the Pine Creek Trail,  voted by USA Today as one of the "10 great places to take a bike tour."  It is breathtakingly spectacular, at almost every turn.  

On the way we encountered bridges...


...saw a blue heron, a belted kingfisher, hawks soaring, and deer feeding

...breathed in the  rows of Sycamore trees lining the trail

...and the clear, clean Pine Creek flowing through the canyon.

Perfectly perfect...all of it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's the bomb

Today is my birthday.  61 years ago, my mother gave birth to her only daughter at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ.  A elegant lady who loved her family fiercely, my beautiful mother guided and grew me to the woman I am today.  I hear her voice and see her hand in my life every day. I will never stop missing her or discovering questions I wish I could ask her.  I am more than grateful for her and for my father, who continues to be my North Star.  I am also grateful for the rest of my family--my beloved husband, who has now celebrated 43 birthdays with me, my incredible children who  I not only love but like and admire (I know that is not always the case in families), my children by love, who were smart enough to marry my kids and are incredibly amazing in their own right (as well as brave enough to perch willingly on this peculiar branch of the Campbell family tree); I pray for you all every day.  My three grandchildren continue to bedazzle me, crowning  me with depths of joy and love beyond compare. My extended family (my brother, my sisters-in-law, my brother-in-law and my nieces and nephew) help ground me, and my wonderful friends challenge, support, encourage and inspire me. I cherish the years I spent in school, with students and colleagues who filled my days with meaning, purpose, and passion. It sounds cliché' but life is good, very good indeed.

In honor of my birthday (not really but close enough), I finished  my very first yarn bombing last night.  Curious and intrigued by this form of graffiti knitting and after seeing yarners create the amazing Knit The Bridge yarn bomb in Pittsburgh, I thought it would be cool to yarn bomb something.  A couple of weeks ago, I rescued a chair my neighbor put out for the garbage and yarn bombed it for my son's classroom, because after all, this knitter needs to yarn bomb something school related.

I used Red Heart yarn in primary colors and employed a variety of stitches (stockinette, garter, seed, ribbing).  I made fringe, and tassels, and pompoms.  I striped, Fair Isled, and combined yarn.  

Forming day-by-day, as the spirit and my needles moved me, it is a total improv.  Fanciful.  Whimsical.  Serendipitous.   Just like my life....which, by the way, is the bomb too!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sewing at the church yesterday

 …she is doing better, still on crutches but back to class…we are so grateful...after all,it could have been worse….the pain followed my jaw, up into my eyes...get that shot, you know, the one for shingles…my eyesight is time I left my hearing aid in when I got into the shower, never realized it until I shampooed my hair... goodness, this seam isn't straight...the quilt will still be warm...and pretty too...I’ve been canning--tomatoes last week, peaches tomorrow…I can them in the oven... they say you daresn't do it that way, but I’ve done it forever and we're still here…my grandmother canned everything, never bought a fruit or vegetable…in her cellar she filled shelf after shelf with so many jars, organized and arranged perfectly…row after row...just like having her own store right down in the basement..I just loved to go there…so bountiful…so good….

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Good Stories

One of the joys of retirement for this English teacher is the gift of freely choosing what to read.  During years and years of teaching, I primarily read or re-read the books I was teaching.  Thus, serendipitously cherry-picking reading material is something I relish.

My Goodreads list is eclectic.  Over the summer, I’ve read a wide range of books—a story about friendship, art, and being oneself (The Elegance of the Hedgehog), a riveting young adult novel about the struggles of a transgender teen (Beautiful Music for Ugly Children), The Gilly Salt Sisters plucked from the shelves of the local library, Moonwalking with Einstein, a nonfiction read on memory, another young adult novel Wonder which weaves a gentle story of a young boy with facial disfigurement, Mary Pipher’s (a writer and person I love…) Seeking Peace:  Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist Ever, and at the top of my list, probably the loveliest book I have read in many years, Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety.

I like to read books that make me better, stories that explore life’s conflicts and contradictions, sorting them out in meaningful and edifying ways. I guess that is why I became an English teacher. I really believed (and still do!) that reading and writing possess the potential to save us from ourselves. 

Sitting atop my bible and a half-finished crossword puzzle is the book I am about to conclude.  Written by a Newberry Prize winning writer, this book is targeted for the upper elementary school crowd, but if feels perfect for this adult reader right now.  Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool takes us on a journey both physical and metaphorical, as two unlikely friends go in search of a great bear, the end of the mathematically mythical story of Pi, and answers to some wrenching personal questions.  This enchanting novel blends fairy tale and adventure together with strong characters, beautiful writing, a compelling story, and powerful themes.  I intend to to send it off to my grandson when I finish. 

 I am grateful for this sweet book since I am troubled deeply by the news I read and listen to this week.  Our President, who by the way I support, is urging Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria. I oppose such action.   The narrative of this true life story is more than disturbing—a country’s leader turns chemical weapons against his own people, killing an estimated 1,400 innocents to prove what?  That he can?  And what will it prove if we do the same?  Are not immoral conflicts solved best by moral choices, choices made in the spirit of peace, justice and ultimately love?  Or so the reading of good stories teaches.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another pair of birthday socks

A few years back, I made a promise to my children (and their spouses) that I would knit them a pair of socks for their birthdays.  Here is the latest pair, shipped to our favorite daughter-in-law, a winsome woman who makes my son a better man and an awesome mother who stamps her gentle yet spirited brand of beauty on our granddaughter.  Happy Birthday, dear dear Alexis.  We are so glad you and we are family!

Alexis socks were made from this yummy yarn using Susan Anderson's worsted weight version of this pattern.)