food for thought friday

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“You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.”
– Bill Watterson

Well, it’s been one of those weeks. An unwelcome visit from the stomach flu fairy (she’s not a very nice fairy as it turns out), emergency appointments made to the dentist’s (and then re-scheduled due to a return of the stomach flu fairy), vans not starting, meetings missed… you know how they go, no doubt you’ve had some of your own doozies of a week.

However, now that the week’s coming to a close, I’m looking forward to resting whenever possible, lounging (there’s something so decadent about that word, don’t you agree?), laughing, visiting with dear friends, and having my knitting with me at all times throughout the weekend ahead.

What do you do when you when life goes wonky? (Seriously, I would love to know what you do – please share!)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead with fingers crossed that my rocket ship underpants regain their luck in time for next week! Big hugs to you.

food for thought friday

 

DSC_0354For the first time ever, I decided to bring in my most favourite patio annual, geraniums, and see if I might any success in keeping them inside through the winter. I am so glad I did. Each glance their way brings a smile and memories of this poem, which I’ll share with you today, too.

Bartok and the Geranium

She lifts her green umbrellas
Towards the pane
Seeking her fill of sunlight
Or of rain;
Whatever falls
She has no commentary
Accepts, extends,
Blows out her furbelows,

Her bustling boughs;
And all the while he whirls
Explodes in space,
Never content with this small room:
Not even can he be
Confined to sky
But must speed high and higher still
From galaxy to galaxy,
Wrench from the stars their momentary notes
Steal music from the moon.

She’s daylight
He is dark
She’s heaven-half breath
He storms and crackles
Spits with hell’s own spark.

Yet in this room this moment now
These together breathe and be:
She, essence of serenity,
He in a mad intensity
Soared beyond sight
Then hurls, lost Lucifer,
From heaven’s height.

And when he’s done, he’s out:
She leans a lip against the glass
And preens herself in light.

– Dorothy Livesay

I’ll venture to say Bartok and the Geranium is essentially a poem about masculine vs. feminine principles and spheres (worldly vs. domestic). Definitely a poem to chew on, especially for those of us women who have chosen to be home – the word “chosen” changes our perspective on our domestic lives, don’t you think?

I’m not sure I appreciate Livesay’s passive vision of women as written here, to be pigeonholed into owning or striving towards these virtues of light-giving, serenity and acceptance and yet, isn’t that precisely what we all strive towards? Light, peace and harmony in our days?

I’ll take these thoughts of Bartok and the Geranium with me today, thinking that maybe, we are elements of both, that our days are an expression of that dynamic push and pull between seeking new horizons in the world beyond and finding comfort and joy in the common and everyday visions of home.

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What do you think? What words have been feeding your thoughts lately? Visions sparking your imagination? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a most wonderful weekend!

p.s. If you’d like to read a little more about Dorothy Livesay, there’s a link to a great interview here.

first snow

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Finished! And just in time, too. Winter is beginning to make her entrance into the world around us here. We had our first snow of the season which is always an exciting event in our household. Naturally, the kids wanted to get outside, so outside we went.

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November really is a transitional month, one that bridges the gap between fall and winter. At times, you will see both seasons at once. Kind of miraculous, don’t you think?

It wasn’t quite cold enough for the snow to accumulate much but there were traces of it all around. Even the spiderwebs managed to catch some.

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It was a good walk. Snow makes everything feel magical don’t you think? So magical, in fact, it makes you want to see that if you can catch it, what magic really tastes like.

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Thank you for sharing this first snow walk with me today. Has snow made an appearance yet in your world? How have your walks changed with the seasons? Have they been magical too? I hope so.

Wishing you a lovely day!

variations on a theme: reading and knitting

Lately, I fear my posts here have been a little repetitive; it’s all mittens, mittens, mittens and books, books, books. Sometimes I even post about the same mittens and the same books. Todays post is certainly a variation of this theme as I’m joining Ginny again today to share a little about what I’m knitting and reading. With this in mind, I ask you to please bear with me and think of this as more of an update rather than a rehashing of the same old projects…

Having said all that, here’s my week’s progress on things that I’ve shared here in previous posts:

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The good news is that I’m halfway through my Beowulf KRAL (Knit and Read ALong). I’ve finished one mitten and one translation of Beowulf! The not-so-great news is that my slow going selbuvotter (Ravelry link here) are too small for the intended wearer – which means I’m back to square zero in terms of Christmas knitting done – insert big frowny face here. The not-so-bad new is that these mittens fit me perfectly, so it looks like I’m half-way to a Christmas gift for me, anyway.

Since I’ve got more mittens and hats to make for everyone here and some special-event-knitting still yet to tackle, I fear my Christmas knitting ambitions are looking truly grim. I’m thinking that maybe I can still do a handmade Christmas but not necessarily a hand-knit one….

So, as I’m still working away quite happily on my Beowulf endeavours (and listening too, if you want to hear a positively dreamy reader reading Beowulf, check this link – AMAZING!, thanks again Annie!) and trying to re-think my Christmas gift giving this year, I’m also working away on a new pair of mittens and reading a new (to us) book with my youngest, if you want to see a whale, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead.

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A deceptively simple book, if you want to see a whale is, I think, a very whimsically philosophical story by nature. It’s also chock-full of wonderfully alliterative passages, making it a fun book to read-aloud. I love Erin Stead’s sense of line and colour and believe her illustrations capture the story’s whimsical yet thoughtful tone. and A great read for ages 3-7, I would say.

Now comes the best part, when I get to ask you what you’re working on and thinking about these days. Are you working on something that’s been around for awhile, or have you started something new? How’s your holiday gift planning coming along? Have you read any good books lately? Please share, I so love to read all about it.

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!

food for thought friday

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Savouring this last day of October, watching this maple slowly lose her golden raiment and feeling so incredibly thankful for the splendour of it all.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead full of joyful anticipation for the ghosts and gremlins to make their gleeful (and gluttonous!) appearance this hallowe’en!

a time for gathering

Joining Ginny today…

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At present I am still working on the slowest going pair of mittens – of which you see mitten number one.  Which means, I still have mitten number two to go. Sigh. More on that another day. Maybe.

As for reading, I don’t know if any of you are familiar of the Five in a Row series of homeschool/educational books by Jane Claire Lambert, but basically it works on the premise that if you read the same story for at least five days in a row, the book “will become very special to the child” (and parent, I might add) and by discussing various aspects of the story (illustrations, theme, characters etc.,) they will learn valuable critical thinking skills as well.

I used the first volume of the series with my son Sam when he was 3 and now I am revisiting it with my youngest, Tim, now 4. However, from time to time, as I’ve gained more confidence in the concept and myself, I’ve branched away from Lambert’s suggested reading list (though the books are all truly marvellous) and applied the same approach when I come across a book not on the list I feel I MUST share with my littlest.

All of that to say, these days we’re reading Frederick, by Leo Lionni. It is just one of those stories that feels like necessary reading right now.

A favourite quote:

“Frederick, why don’t you work?” they asked.

“I do work, ” said Frederick. “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days.”

“And when they saw Frederick sitting there, staring at the meadow, they said “And now, Frederick?”

“I gather colors, ” answered Frederick simply. “For winter is gray.”

Naturally, this book offers a wonderful opportunity to talk about the changing seasons, how different animals prepare for winter, how we as humans prepare for winter and, for me most importantly, what we need to gather in preparation for winter to survive the long, dark, cold days. As much as we need fuel for warmth and food to stave off starvation, we need art, craft and beauty to feed our souls when our natural world drives us indoors, when all things green and golden seem like things of our distant past.

Now, it strikes me that this applies to the history of our lives as well and how necessary it is to gather and store the colours, the words, the veritable sunlight of our days – for the times when it all feels so very long ago.

So, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Remembering to put aside the “real work” from time to time (Lord knows there is enough if it). Getting outside, gathering scenes from my most favourite season of all, one that seemed to zoom by this year.

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And gathering moments indoors, too. Images of harmony, joy, and celebration because these moments seem to zoom by even faster.

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Because before you know it, the boy who was 3 and sitting on your lap reading books together, all of a sudden turns 10. How wonderful is that?!

Yes, I think Frederick gets it right. To go beyond survival we must stop and savour these moments and in doing so, we gather them up for a time when they are a thing of the past but still magically retain the power to bring joy and warmth to our innermost selves when we need it most.

What about you, what are you gathering these days? What books are inspiring you to look at things a little differently? What colours and words do you want to remember? Why?  Of course, I always want to know what you’re knitting, too – that goes without saying!

Wishing you a most wonderful day!

food for thought friday

With the Beowulf discussion in full swing here, my mind is full of wonderful ancient imagery and I find myself seeing my world through the filter of this Anglo-Saxon text. It seems everything I come across in my everyday life brings to mind this magical epic that a special few of us are reading together.

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This photo you see above ? These days I want to assign it the title the spoils of battle – i.e., me vs the mess. What you see is no ordinary beaded necklace, it is a priceless, jewelled treasure received in return for my valiant and heroic efforts in housewifery and motherhood.

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And this swan block I found on the floor – likely once used as a projectile in a previous battle against foes real or imaginary (yes, that’s what living in a house of boys can look like here) – well, it brings to mind this seemingly simple phrase:

“he would seek the war-king over the swan’s road” (from the Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th ed., p28)

In Beowulf, this use of kenning, “swan’s road”, is a kind of descriptive metaphor for the sea. But, for me, this image really stands as metaphor for my own life some days – maybe for yours too.

You see, some days life can feel so up and down, a bit like I’m caught in the swells of an emotional stormy sea. This image of a swan bobbing up and down gracefully on the waters (in my imagination anyway) reminds me to just relax and go bravely forward despite the feelings of being tempest tossed by life’s more challenging moments.

Maybe this takes free association with Beowulf a little too far, but I like it anyway, as it makes me feel I can identify with the text in a personal way – since you’re not likely to catch me battling literal monsters anytime soon!

And that, my dear friends, is the power of poetry to stir the imagination and connect our individual experiences to something larger, something shared, something epic.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend ahead, full of grace, free of monsters. xo

p.s. Since I established a little while back that I’m lousy at keeping surprises, here’s a little peek at how poetry can spark a knitter’s creativity, too. Besides, someone who may or may not be the recipient of these mittens has already caught a glimpse of them anyway. I’m hopeless, I know.

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the gift that gives

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For my birthday this year my brother, who lives too far away, thoughtfully sent me a gift card for Etsy, knowing how much we both love handmade things. Well, I held on to that gift card, just waiting for the “perfect” gift to cross my path. So, when I discovered that Camilla, of Fjord Girl, was opening her own yarn shop on Etsy called Mountain Girl Yarns, I knew that opportunity had arrived.

Foolishly thinking I could choose just one skein, I ordered three – that gift card sure helped! Aren’t they beautiful? I love Camilla’s great eye for colour, made apparent in all her gorgeous photos on her blog and now in her hand-painted yarn. The skein band reads: “Anything But Ordinary”. Most definitely.

Now, as it happens, there’s another birthday speeding my way and I’m thrilled to have this yarn to knit a little gift with – it’s the gift that keeps giving! Aren’t they the best?

Thanks to my brother and to Camilla for making it all happen.

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I know what I’m doing today – besides the vacuuming, the tidying, the cooking, the errands etc.,… and the Beowulf KRAL (knit/read along!) – what about you?

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!

just a little mitten love

 

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Saying a quick hello this morning, feeling a little under the weather on this cold dreary October day – though nothing that a hot honey lemon tea and some (finished!) mitten* love can’t make feel a little better.

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I’ve got some new mittens** in the works but, since they’re meant to be a surprise for one of my (reading) family members, I think they’re going to have to fly under the radar on this space. I will be posting progress on them in my Ravelry Group on Wednesday if you want to pop by to check things out and eavesdrop (or join in) on our Beowulf read and knit along discussion there.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week! What is your day looking like?

* Mitten 11 from Charlene Schurch’s book Mostly Mittens, Ethnic Knitting Designs from Russia, modified by me to fit a child’s medium/large hand.

** You can find this pattern in Terri Shea’s beautiful book Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition, it’s Annemor #13.