Saturday, February 6, 2016


Do you have a room like this in your house?  A room where you keep the vacuum cleaner and the ironing board and maybe a clothes hanger (I call mine a stendi panni because I got it in Italy and first used it there--one of those lands without tumble dryers)?  It's the place for muddy boots until there is time to clean them and other drippy stuff like a towel used to dry off the dog.

Some people have closets for this stuff.  But I live in a small, built during the war house, when the closets were narrow and few.

Once I lived in a quite luxurious apartment with three bathrooms.  One was right by the front door.  It became the catch-all room for the baby stroller, an emergency tool box, an electric fan, mop and pail, etc. That room.

Long ago my husband made paintings on a huge wooden pallets.  The paintings used to decorate a spacious home furnishing store, but the store closed and our home is way too small for this kind of heavy art work.  So, where to put them?

The dog has gotten weird lately and wants to hide in cramped places--closets, under the bed or desk, between a table and the wall.  So, we brought out her crate again and covered it so it has a cave sort of hide-y hole feel about it.  It works.  She loves it, but where to put it?

Then, there are the citrus trees my husband insists on raising.  The winter here is just a tad too cold for them really, so in the winter they have to be brought in. And, where to put them?

Once I had a exercise bike in here.  No room now!
The citrus trees are blooming.  The air in the house smells thickly sweet like candle or plastic some days.  Poor trees calling for bees. But I don't feel that bad.  No way am I going to start an indoor hive, haha!  Really, you have to draw the line somewhere.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rabbits and Knitting Zen

Unfortunately, I have been suffering from frozen shoulder.  This means a constant low to moderate pain  in my whole arm that hinders me all day every day, and occasional electric like zaps of debilitating pain.  So terrible.  Worse yet, I had this before in the opposite arm some years ago.  Some people never get this--and here I am with it twice!!  It is amazing all the little things we do every day that involve our shoulder muscles.--But enough on the complaints.

Today was warm, though mostly overcast, and I gave the rabbit hutch a nice clean-out. After skipping the chore last weekend because of snow and freezing temps (hard to believe now), it was ready.  Then I sat out and knitted while my little bunnies frolicked in the yard.  (I can't leave them out alone, even with a cover on the run.  The hawks here pay no mind to covers). I am working on a long plain-ish sweater jacket that is reminding me of a dog bed right now (!).  Funny how knitting is Zen like.  I was able to forget my pain for awhile and think straight and not worry.

I worry because I am going to have my arm manipulated and will miss school for a few days.  I worry about the procedure and what I will have to leave to occupy my wily students so they don't drive a sub out of his/her mind. Honestly, I don't know which of these worries me more!

It was good to be outdoors today, even though the yard is the usual winter mess.  No daffodils yet, and the camilla blossoms are all singed from blooming early and then freezing, but I'm okay with that.  Winter here is brief and I don't mind it.

A few weeks ago, I made a new pair of fingerless mitts.  I've decided I really like making mitts.  They are a little challenging and they finish up quickly.  These were made using self-striping yarn like these
on Ravelry.  I ran out of yarn right at the last picot hem and didn't have enough for the second the thumb (the purply-blue one).  I mean, honestly!  Luckily, I had something that matched enough to finish the task.  They don't look too bad.--And certainly are more fun to look at than my dog-bed sweater-jack! Hahah!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poetry Out Loud

Well, not so bleak now.

In school, the students are reciting poems, which always lifts my spirits.  Sure some of them stagger through one. word. at. a. time. But most have a feel for the words and images even though I can usually tell that in spots they have no idea what they are talking about (and who really, fully, ever understands all of the everything in a poem anyway?)  Some surprise me with their choices of olden day poems full of "thou" and "hast" and "woe."  And some surprise me with the little gems of poems they've found (they have to use a database for this, but it is stuffed full and wonderful).

I am always glad that they have these little bits of verse rolling around in their heads at least for the few days they are forced to recite. And I imagine that someday they may be like me, pulling up a few lines here and there out of the back pocket of their brains, puzzling over the words and the moment that brought the words out of hiding.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Bleak Post

The year ended with a ka-billion papers graded and loose ends to tie up.  The holidays came and stretched out lazily and then school was back in and everyone was out of the rhythm of getting up at 5 and pledging allegiance at 7:10.
There are two times a year I ask myself if I can really keep doing this.  One is in October when all of the optimism of a brand new start to a brand new school year leaks out and the flaccid balloon of reality sits in my lap. (This year 205 kids were mine to track and try to teach.  Most of whom have very dire home situations and operate on a level far, far below grade level, though they are unaware of that in the way they are unaware of so many things).  And the other time of year is early to mid-January.  Something about new year, new start causes me to take stock and what I end up with is a kind of quiet despair that sends me out poking around for other jobs.
I think about things I need to do to keep my spirit alive.
Like read,
and knit
and laugh,
and write.
(And the writing seems to be the loser always because it demands a focus and attention that gets siphoned away in lesson planning and assessing.)
But--somehow spring comes along and my energy renews.  I feel then, that I am doing the small wise thing, however difficult and unglamorous.  The necessary thing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Outdoors

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day.  We delayed our big family feast until today, so yesterday we went off to find a woodsy place to hike and picnic.  I loved the opportunity to use this new (to me) picnic basket!

I don't think anyone ever used it before actually.  When I went to pack it, I had to take out a little brochure about the artisan who made it by hand, etc.  I love to make up a simple fancy food picnic. You know, things like dates stuffed with parmesan cheese and roasted chicken and asparagus salad from an uptown deli.  And boy!  Were we ready to eat it by the time our hike was finished.

The hike was rolling hills and lots of trees and a little edge of lake. It never really felt that we were truly away from civilization.  I get that feeling a lot hiking in Georgia.  I know it is because I grew up out west where the vistas are immense.  Out there, the landscape swallows you.  Here, everything feels conquered.  Like where you are walking is just the left over scrap of something that hasn't been built on yet, like you can turn a corner and run into a road or someone's house or a shopping plaza.
Maybe this had something to do with why we walked farther than we planned and then had to walk so far back.  Maybe I was thinking that we weren't there yet--like we were going to get into the "real" wilderness soon if we just walked a little further.  What a strange illusion.

All in all, it was a lovely day and wonderful to walk and talk and breathe.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Easing in to Autumn

Autumn is Homecoming time, something I don't usually pay much attention to.  It means chaperoning a dance, wearing my semi-formal black dress and matching long coat--what I refer to as my 'Matrix Outfit'--which I wear for an hour or two each year.  I stand around in a gym or commons space watching giddy teens cycle the room, discard their preposterously high heeled shoes, and shriek in excitement as the DJ spins their favorite tunes.

My son's school has a traditional Homecoming parade through the town square.  All week the students meet at someone's house to build a class float for the Friday parade before the football game.  This is the first year my son participated, and the first time I've been to the parade since he was about five or six years old.

By all counts it was a fun parade, complete with waving queens, classic cars, marching band, and--of course--the floats.

I've been incredibly exhausted lately with the drive to and from my new school, and with the seemingly perpetual upheaval that goes into starting up a brand new school.  On the weekends I've found that I move very slowly and do no school work at all, which puts me behind in a way, but I need the time to recharge.
Last night I went out to see a band (Dave and  Phil Alvin) and wore my favorite cowboy shirt and boots with spurs.  (This is by no means country music--it's Americana, more rockabilly sort of--sped-up urban scrappy rock-n-roll.)  I am so glad I got out of the house.  I have a tendency to just want to stay in and knit or read--but the music was sublimely infectious.

Last week I planted flowers in long neglected planters and bought a pot of bright yellow chrysanthemums.  Each day when I came home this week they made me smile.
I also hung some orange Halloween lights across the porch and put our favorite pumpkin light in the window.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ideas for Knitting

Some time ago my husband bought me a book about knitting.  Unusual, I know.  He is the kind of man who often buys people little gifts when he sees something he thinks will appeal to them.  But, a book about knitting is kind of specialized, don't you think?
Well, I think you will agree that this knitting book (originally published in 1972) is quite out of the ordinary.

It contains all the usual yarn, needle, and basic "how to" information with diagrams.  But the best part are the projects!  No baby items here.  There is a dog bed however.

This book encourages a man to use tools he may be already more familiar with, but utilize them in a whole new way.  As in this circular knitting idea:

Or this way to make really big needles for creating a hammock:

Nutty, isn't it?  I wonder if any man--or woman--has actually tried these ideas?  It might make an interesting experiment.

Meanwhile, I am knitting dishcloths (pattern here).

 I started this one while college football was on in the next room, and now I can only think of it as team colors.  Not exactly what I planned.
Progress on this will be slow as I only have about one day a week to knit and then only a few stolen minutes.  But that's okay.  I deliberately chose a small project so that at least it will be complete before spring!!