Sunday, March 1, 2015

Time Marches on

I found this poem on the web. I don't know who Susan Reiner is; I couldn't find a poet of such name anywhere, just the one poem attributed to her. Happy March 1st.

Spring Cleaning
by Susan Reiner

March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in

Apparently, March 1st is St. David's Day in Wales--St. David being the patron saint of Wales. I had not quite realized that. I knew that St. George was for England, St. James for Scotland, and St. Patrick for Ireland. I believe St. Teresa of Avila is one of two patron saints of Spain, and I think St. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France. I wonder who is the patron saint of the United States? I just searched online, and the U.S. patron saint is Mary, the Immaculate Conception. I like better when someone local is the saint. I'm sure there must be saints from the U.S. that could become patron saints for us. A number of countries have more than one.

Actually, I'm not even a Roman Catholic, although of course I am a "catholic" as in "the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints."

Friday, February 27, 2015


Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.
(Luke 24:29)

Mostly I don't blog about events in my life because I don't want to compromise anyone else's privacy. But tonight it is heavy on my heart that tomorrow we'll start moving my mom into an assisted living facility. My dad will stay in their current apartment. They will be in the same building but in separate wings. I think this is the right thing to do, given their differing needs. I am glad they're in an excellent establishment. As far as I know, they feel okay about it.

But I am sad. Even with all the good things, it's sad to see life go inexorably through its stages toward the inevitable end. I am so blessed that my parents' stable, loving marriage has been a foundation for my life. They have been married for over 62 years. I'm sad to move them into separate units.

Many years ago, when I was a young woman, my mom was about the age I am now, and my mom's mom was not quite as old as my mom is now, my grandma was in an assisted living facility, too. It was in New Jersey, her home state. My parents and I visited there shortly after I graduated from high school. Here we are...I am on the left, 18 years old:

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That visit was the last time I saw my maternal grandmother. I remember that I saw her in the dining hall and after dinner the staff led the residents in singing "Count Your Blessings." Afterwards, my grandma complained that she and others wanted to sing "Abide With Me," but the staff made them sing "Count Your Blessings."

For my mom's mom, then, here is the hymn of her choice:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O, thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.


Okay. Well, here it is.

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A knit bookmark. I laid it on the closed lid of my laptop to take the picture.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


The book I bought, Knit One, Purl a Prayer, is good so far. At the end of each chapter, she has a knitting project, and I am doing the first one, a bookmark that I am going to give a friend who recently had surgery, and I am giving her a book to put it in. I am almost done. I will probably finish tonight, although I am quite sleepy, so maybe I'll wait until tomorrow. When it's done I'll take a picture.

Since I am knitting this for a friend and integrating prayer, as I knit I've been praying for my friend. Sometimes I just keep her in my mind as I work, sometimes I think verbal prayers. This evening, I've been trying different phrases with the stitches, like, "Lord, bless [name]" with each stitch, then more rhythmically, insert needle to "Kyrie" and complete the stitch to "eleison." Or one stitch "In the name of the Father," next stitch, "and of the Son," next stitch, "and of the Holy Spirit." Or insert needle to "Lord," wrap the thread to "have mercy," pull the stitch complete to "on [name]."

It's a little project; you cast on just 10 stitches, and I guess it's about 50 rows. I just have 4 more rows to go, then I'll have to cast off, and there are instructions how to make a tassel.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tally ho

This time around with my knitting, I am keeping track of my pattern by these marks.

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I had to google what to call them. At first I tried "hash marks," and that could qualify, but it also means marks on a sports field and the "pound sign" or "number symbol" # (also known as a "hashtag" by people savvy enough to tweet). But the more precise term seemed to be "tally marks."

Since I need to knit 4 rows then purl 1, I can make an upright mark after each knitted row, then slash across after I purl a row.

The flaw would be if I forget to make the mark after each row, and that is a real possibility. However, this is still likely to be more accurate than my unassisted memory.

There's also the issue of my handwriting. You might notice in the 3rd group, the 3rd line has a squiggle next to it. Was that just a sloppy stroke on the 3rd mark? Or was it a 4th mark that I made tinily and messily because I was sleepy? I asked myself that this evening, and decided to go with the sloppy 3rd stroke hypothesis. I knit a row and the purled a row. I had actually gotten up and gone on to another activity before I remembered to go back and make the purl slash.

So not a flawless system, just less flawed than no system at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Little House

Yesterday was Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday. I loved her books, starting in third grade. When I was in that grade, and I guess age 8, my family moved from one state to another. In the new school, on my first day there, when it was time for the teacher to read a story out loud to us, she read the next chapter in the book she had already been reading to the class. It was the chapter in On the Banks of Plum Creek where mean, stuck-up Nellie Olson gets her comeuppance by getting leeches on her legs in the creek and screaming and being horrified. My classmates shouted with laughter.

Later (I don't know if it was the same day), we went to the school library where we could each check out a book. We sat down at tables and the teacher told us that the quietest table could go first to pick out their books. We all tried to be quiet, but she chose a different table than mine. The girl next to me said, "Oh, they'll get all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books!" I can't remember when I got one to read on my own--I may even have previously read Little House in the Big Woods without knowing who the author was--but from about that time, I read her books through and through.

In older grades, when my mom would take me to the public library, I usually checked out multiple books, maybe six or eight. I would pick out ones I thought I might like, then get one or two of the Little House books to re-read. Even as late as seventh and eighth grade, a friend and I would play "pioneers," which simply consisted of pretending to be pioneers. We may have been influenced by some other books, like Caddie Woodlawn or On to Oregon, but our primary ideas of pioneer life came from the Little House series.

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By the way, I did not really like the TV series that Michael Landon created. It wandered far, far from the books, and was basically a TV show where the characters happened to have the same names as characters in the books. Also, it was emotionally overwrought and manipulative in ways that Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing never was.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Thumbs up

I'm ready to start my next attempt at knitting a scarf. I know how to cast on using my thumb and one needle--isn't it amazing, I have the muscle-memory of how to do that with the technique I learned as a 10-year-old--over 40 years ago!--but I just couldn't remember the very first thing, which is a slip-knot to start everything off. I could just tie a knot around the needle and go from there, but part of the mystique of knitting is that everything can be pulled apart and brought back to one long thread if you want to. A slip-knot can pull loose easily. So I looked again at videos. The first one showed a method of casting on that was a complicated stitch requiring two needles. Did my grandma teach me wrong? So I looked for casting on with thumb. Then a British lady showed a method using her thumb and one needle, but you had to guess how many stitches you were going to cast on and leave a "tail" long enough to somehow get woven into the stitches. "This is the 'tail' thread and this is the 'ball' thread..." then up here, over there, and through something else. What on earth? So I tried again and found a lady who showed a very easy way to do a slip-knot, followed by the easy method my grandma taught me, which turns out to be the simplest method, good for beginners. That's me.

Did you hear her say there are 35 methods of casting on? Crazy.