Friday, February 27, 2015

Abide

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.

Complete

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

Bookmark

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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Binding off

I mentioned that I went back and looked at the knitting pattern I had chosen and discovered I was supposed to be knitting four rows, then purling one, but I had been knitting three then purling one, and I also kept loosing count. So I wanted to start over, but I just couldn't bring myself to unravel what I had already done.

I decided to look online how to complete this piece and get it off the needles, but I couldn't remember the correct terminology to google. I know when you start you "cast on" x number of stitches, but to "cast off" in order to finish sounded like it would also bring up sites about fishing or boating. So I searched for "finish off knitting," and found a video that showed the process. That lady called it "binding off." Every skill has its jargon, and I am learning the language of knitting as well as the skill. So I bound off my knitting piece and showed it to you in this video.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Noiseless

You know, I just looked at that pattern again online, and it's supposed to be knit 4, purl 1. Oops.

Meanwhile, I'm awake in the middle of the night. I woke up to a continuous high-pitched noise. I have tinnitus, so at my first groggy wakening I thought it was that. But it was louder than that. I wondered if it was some clock, unhooked phone, or electronic device in my house. I wandered around and was putting my ear near suspected culprits. My tinnitus masks the hearing in one ear, so I can't always tell what direction noises come from. (We sense that by the minuscule difference between when one ear hears a noise and when the other ear hears it. The ear that hears it first is closer to the noise.) It was louder when I was near a window. I stepped outside and it was louder outside. I went to the front of my house and back again. It seemed like it was slightly louder in back. I stood around wondering if it was perhaps an alarm coming from a business in that direction. (Meanwhile, it was not freezing cold out and a little breeze blew. Pretty mild.) I came back in the house and wondered whether to call the police to report the noise, since I really didn't know where it came from, and, if I did report it, whether to call a non-emergency line or 9-1-1. I fired up my computer to see if maybe anyone on Facebook or anyone else was talking about it, and as I was googling "high pitched noise Lynden," it stopped. So, problem solved, mystery unsolved.