more wonderland

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I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the snow we have been experiencing here this winter. It’s basically a winter wonderland every single day. Snow and snow and snow. It’s the winter for jumping off roofs, sledding, skiing, and of course, shoveling.

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~two of my favorite friends between sled runs~
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~valentines from two sweet girls~

And knitting. I finished this Wave Shawl, a belated holiday gift for my mom. It felt a little like work by the end of that LONG hypotenuse side of the triangle. The yarn is yummy merino and silk.
SONY DSC SONY DSCAnd now I am onto Thing 1 of my birthday year knitting! (See here for more info). Two lovely skeins from two friends. The variegated is Misti Alpaca Qolla, in the most luscious tide pool colorway, all slate and greens and rusty and teal. And the solid is Yak/Merino by Lang. Super soft and yummy. 
SONY DSCSONY DSCThe chevron is a nice stitch idea from another special friend and Thing 1 will be a scarf. The stitch pattern is easy and it’s very pleasing to look at.
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I’ve embarked on a writing journey this winter, simple really, just write every day for 108 days. If you skip a day, no problem, no stress. There’s a Facebook group, if you’re interested in joining. It feels exciting to be doing this. Below is something that will give you a little picture into the last slog of knitting that lovely shawl.

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My Brain on Knitting

We can blame the dopamine receptors

for why the

–anticipation–

of creating the new knitting project

is so alluring.

Anticipating and planning

releases more dopamine

than actually doing it.

I’m an addict.

 

It really is a sort of itch,

my mind just wants to go there all the time,

pursue the math of the puzzle,

the new gauge,

learning the new stitch pattern.

This conception phase is like that obsessive love,

the kind that looks for every possible

“chance” encounter,

when you might “happen” to run into each other between classes

if you take the back hallway,

since he’ll be coming from gym.

And it’s not like it’s that much out of your way.

Anyway,

so totally worth it,

even if it was.

 

This is my brain in love with an idea,

really an ideal,

because the gleam of perfection has not yet worn off.

It’s just that tantalizing puzzle,

the new sexy yarn,

and oh!

those colors.

 

I’m so ready to dump that old nag project.

We’re almost done with each other.

I did love it once,

before it became an obligation,

the knitting equivalent of calling every night,

texting all day long,

being too needy.

Still beautiful, sure,

but so clingy.

 

Would it be cheating to knit a small swatch

with that new dreamboat yarn?

Just a tiny one?
No.

You’re right,

I’ll just have to face that sad old thing

eyeing me balefully from the knitting bag.

 

It’s for someone I love,

that’s all that’s keeping me going now.

And I did love the project once,

loved it enough to impulse-buy the yarn in the shop

because they had a gorgeous sample knit up.

The pattern was free,

the lace sequence was easy to learn.

 

Winding up the ball of new yarn wouldn’t count as cheating, right?

It’s casual,

just a quick coffee.

Nothing serious.

OK.

Fine.

You’re right: I’m fickle.

 

I’ll do what’s right by the soft, elegant shawl—

the color of morning glories.

I’ll finish it.

Stick with it to the end.

Power through that damn hypotenuse of the triangle,

knitting for miles.

 

But, know this:

I’ll be riding those dopamine highs in my thoughts,

as I imagine my hands on that next project.

 

Anticipation is a delicious moment.

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Birthday Girl

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SONY DSCWell, Alice, my birthday was the one that just happened! This is a reference to Frances the Badger, from the series by Russell Hoban, who told her imaginary friend Alice: “That is how it is, Alice. Your birthday is always the one that is not now.”

I made lemon curd for a crowd: it was 8 full eggs plus 8 yolks and 3 sticks of butter, plus tons of sugar and delicious lemon juice (12 lemons/2 cups).
SONY DSCThere were beautiful tulips and some roses too. Inspired by my reading of the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (mentioned here), I asked each guest to write down a few things: a favorite book title, favorite poem, favorite movie, and a memory of a time we were together. I was even gifted a mixed music CD! Some read their poems aloud and shared their memories—so fun to hear all those good times spoken about, sharing such good company with some of the women I admire and love the most.
SONY DSCI also asked each guest for a skein of yarn. To be turned into somethings or a something… to commemorate the occasion of turning 40, a grand and grown-up birthday.

SONY DSCOne theme of memories emerged: experiences that we shared outside and in the kitchen. Now I have this beautiful collection of cards and poems to read and re-read, new movies to seek out, and books!
SONY DSC SONY DSCBooks, memories, yarn, cards, chatting, and a delicious meal catered by my dear family. I was surrounded by love all weekend. What could be more perfect?

Oh and wait. Here is something incredible: two friends brought two skeins of the exact same yarn, in a different dyelot, but the exact same colorway (luscious purples)—even purchased in two different states! Unbelievable!SONY DSCHere’s a poem from today, while I shoveled:

Andy Goldswothy,
where were you today
when I was shoveling
still more snow ?

Each shovelful
flung airborne,
was a moment for your team
to photograph.

(Just out of curiosity,
did you get any snow down your neck
or sprinkling your face
when it was blown back?)

The dusk was falling
and the quality of light
was soft,
muffled,
grayish-blue.
And because it was so cold,
the snow was tiny,
granular,
crisp.

The sound of the snowflakes
as they sailed off the shovel,
was
hush hush
shush.
Like plunging your hand
into a barrel of cool, dry lentils.
Or barnacles whispering.

When I waded over to the wood pile,
it was too hard to walk
in the drifts.
So I crawled.
And this was better,
but the snow
kept sneaking into my mittens;
the worst feeling besides
taking off a boot
when your sock comes with it.
(Later, this happened too).

Being in the snow is the same
as playing in the water:
a short-cut directly to joy.

Andy, if you come to photograph
me and the shovel,
be sure to bring the sound equipment.

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Snuggled in/Light returning

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~act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid~

OK. There has been so much going on this January in our family. Most recently: SNOWPOCALYPSE! EPIC, ALL-CAPS BLIZZARD! On the day before the storm, I was driving on the highway from Massachusetts and there were no less than 5 highway alert signs to the tune of: In case you have been living under a rock, there is a blizzard coming. Make plans and don’t drive.
SONY DSC We heard the Governor of MA deliver the news that a state of emergency was in effect when only a few flakes were flurrying. He sounded non-plussed, perhaps suffering from a January ennui that even an ALL-CAPS blizzard could not shake him from.

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~awesome part of going to work when the sky looks like this~

SONY DSCThis picture makes my heart hurt a little bit. Don’t think I have forgotten the many years of teasing (still happens), people hurting each other (still happens), screaming and crying (not so much), and all the extremely hard work we did each and every day to provide boundaries and structure for our boys so they can become nice humans (you’re welcome).

Jonas is helping Sylvan with his math. He’s patient, kind, funny, PATIENT, and did I say patient?!?! with his brother. Did you know that lack of focus can be played as an extreme sport? I didn’t either. Mr. Sporty can play any game well, as you know. But Jonas beats him, nicely (shh! don’t tell either of them), with patience and refocusing, suggestions and reminders like some of the best teachers I have ever seen.
SONY DSCWe’ve also had flu in the house: Jonas, Sylvan both. Actually first, it was Jonas with a cold right after the holiday break. Then one week of health to prepare for and take finals. Then, next week: flu. Now manifesting in Sylvan! I had a touch of something, but it passed quickly (flu shot?). I’m drinking lots of water with cider vinegar, pumping vitamin C and zinc, elderberry, in between reading aloud from the Ramona books, forcing people to drink fluids, washing my hands like crazy, washing the dishes all the time, making and re-making couch beds, washing germy blankets, cooking healthy foods, boiling Thieves oil on the stovetop and wiping surfaces down with it, and I’ll be honest, WORRYING.

Did you know that when my children cough at night it literally makes me feel like my head is getting an electric shock? Flashback to whooping cough mom-response.

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~wordpress: why is this picture so big?~

Don’t think I’m weird, but this is my current sink still life. Yes, those are human teeth, Sylvan’s in fact. A precious snowy owl salt shaker! A little peg dolly on a spool of thread! A super rare LEGO fish! Yes, and the four teeth: he lost them in the span of 3 weeks! The Tooth Fairy’s head is still spinning, and who knows, with this blizzard, when she might make it. When these teeth were coming in, they would take months of pain and agony, drool, suffering, sleepless nights. Then: zoopzoop, shedding teeth like it’s nothing!

{Oh and also: I accidentally deleted some photos from the very oldest posts on the blog. Ugh. I am going to try to dig back in and pull them out of the archives of the computer, but in case you’re wondering.}
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Oh goodness, the beauty. I braved the blizzard and snow got down my neck, but it was worth it to bring you this.

holiday bliss

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Holidays have come and gone, as well as the waves of various familial configurations. There were quiet moments and louder moments, games played, food shared, lots of reading great books, some very brisk walks, great conversations, and waking up during the daylight! There were a lot of trips to the grocery store, my other home, and visits with friends in the aisles.
SONY DSCWe have continued to tame our office space which has been the staging area for incoming boxes. Unpacking lots of books, deciding which ones can stay and which should move on. We have a lot of very beloved children’s books that are keepers.
SONY DSC One of the books that has inspired me this year has been Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You may have read this review in the NYT. I read the review and felt like it was a book that would be best enjoyed in the company of friends, so I put the call out on Facebook and soon had more than 30 folks near and far who wanted to participate.
SONY DSCI created a closed Facebook virtual book group for us, so those who were far away could keep an eye on how it was going. But what I loved most was the idea that there was space for us all to participate and find support in this work of cleansing our homes, finding the sparks of joy that we wish to cherish, hearing the stories from each other of what is difficult or easy about the process.

I love the way it has rippled out to touch other members of the community: “Oh, I heard about that book group from a friend and I already ordered my own copy!” Or, “I didn’t come to the meeting because I was helping my mom clear out her barn of 38 old tires!”

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These photos of my dishtowels and napkins are a direct result of something a friend posted in the Facebook group. She shared her photo of her own dishtowel drawer and they were all rolled up and so lovely in their colors and patterns and textures. The dishtowels looked delighted with themselves! It was 8 pm and I had just sat down on the couch, ready to put my feet up and knit for a bit, but I saw her photo and it literally made me get up off my bum to bring some beauty into my own drawers. (What a gift that social media can be a vehicle for this type of positive peer inspiration.) It quickly became evident that the napkins were crowding out the dishtowels, so then I had to organize a different drawer to make a new home for the napkins… and in the process had to re-home some other random items. More ripples.

SONY DSC SONY DSC{We can never get enough of this guy, my brother.}
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SONY DSC{Um. What exactly is going on with that knife?}
SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCHope you and yours enjoyed a wonderful holiday.

Tomorrow: waking up in the dark again.

all twinkles, all the time

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~sylvan took this rare portrait of both parents together~
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~this one too~
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~stained glass star by jonas~

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There was a big gaming party here the other night. An older strategy game called Diplomacy—50th anniversary edition! Snoresville.

So I begged some good friends to go out on a date so I could babysit their dear girls. If you’re longtime readers, you have seen these sweethearts around the blog.

SONY DSCFirst, we had our choice of Bento boxes. Pictured above is the Dessert selection: a cranberry and blueberry on a tiny plate, with a side order of frozen blueberries in a pitcher, served on a serving rock. (That tea set used to be part of the clutter around here, and now it is sparking joy in little hands.)
SONY DSCThen we had a second dessert by the Christmas tree and wood stove, on a beautifully set table with our names on placecards. We were served mochi puffs with a drizzle of honey, with peppermint tea and honey, by candlelight.SONY DSC SONY DSCYou had to get dressed up for the occasion: Princess or sparkles. The princess dress on hand was too small for me, but thankfully there was a red, sequined shirt that was just my size.
SONY DSCI brought over a big stack of our favorite Christmas books, since no one here wants to hear me read them anymore. (Or they will, but grudgingly, totally NOT in the spirit of giving.) We read so many of them that my voice got tired! Good old favorites: Shall I Knit You a Hat?, The Little Fir Tree, Peter and Lotta’s Christmas, Ollie’s Ski Trip, Christmas in Noisy Village, The Reindeer Christmas, and more.
SONY DSC There was also “hair molish” aka Nail Polish, that I brought over. (Do you recognize these toes? I have loved them for many years now.) This was a nice choice of colors: mermaid blue and sparkly purple on the left, and hot pink and sparkly orange on the right.

The owner of the toes wanted to fall asleep in front of the wood stove. And I was the very naughty babysitter who said sure, fine, no problem, have some pillows! I got to watch her fall asleep out of the corner of my eye, while I was ostensibly knitting. So sweet.SONY DSC SONY DSCBeing in the company of these dear girls made me remember that I miss making things for little tiny people.

I made two little gnomes today and off they’ll go into the mail tomorrow:
SONY DSCThese last three pictures are also ones that Sylvan took.

{Inexplicably, WordPress will not let me make another caption on the photos.}

winterish

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SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCAndy Goldsworthy: Stop playing in our forest. Or wait, actually don’t stop at all.
SONY DSCThis is a painting in progress of Venice by Sylvan, as part of his report on Italy. So far, so beautiful.
SONY DSC SONY DSCI love these dreads and this girl: Now your twinkles come with a halo.
SONY DSCSquash side dish for Thanksgiving: pureed butternut squash with a little bit of butter and cinnamon, with roasted pumpkin seeds. I also sautéed apples and onions with curry and cardamom and boiled cider.
SONY DSCAnd we got all this snow! Cold and crisp and sparkling! We are so grateful to be in our new house this holiday season.

Here’s a poem, an ode to my favorite month:

November

She is the most elegant of months,
sixty-something,

though she’d never say exactly,
with her dark eyes

that are a little sad.
She used to smoke
Gauloises in her youth,
when she was in Paris
and it was trés cool.
You can see tiny lines
around her mouth.

She’s not taken in
by fashion fads:
she knows quality when she sees it,
she knows how to shop the sales.
Her colors are woodsmoke grey,
the black of wet bark,
inky shadows under the moonlight,
the russet of oak leaves
against the white sky.

Her coats are her signature,
long, heavy,
made of fur or wool
with classic lines;
she swishes by
and there’s that hint of her perfume
that you can never quite place.

Of course she’s taken lovers,
but never a husband.
She doesn’t need October’s abundance
or December’s frivolity:
they’re really just too much.
She’s better off alone,
walking silently
along the edge of the lake.

~thanks~

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Wordpress
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What on earth is this center-everything nonsense? The way my photos came in was in this interesting collage approach, which was also a surprise. But I can live with it.
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This 3 seed porridge, above, is absolutely lovely, from the good folks at Nourished Kitchen.

I know that everybody thinks we should all be eating protein for breakfast, but I am much happier with a delicious bowl of cozy, nutty, delicious wintery porridge. (Sorry, but I am just that sort of temperament.)

With sautéed ginger and frozen berries, almond milk, splash of maple syrup, and pecans.
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I had an occasion to vist a hospital recently and it was the most fascinating 40 minutes of people watching

that I felt the only way to really process what I had seen and heard

was with a poem.

This is the second of four.

II. Waiting
New waiting room.
The receptionist had a tattoo on her neck
and a smoker’s mouth.
Mostly old people were waiting.
And three young
loud-spoken
men,
some kind of marine contractors,
who were talking across the waiting room
to another guy.
They were big and muscled,
waiting for lab work.
One of them had a cough
he wanted to have someone look at.
All of them had some kind of military background.
They talked about Kuwait, KMB,
and someone’s cousin who took a test,
then got fast-tracked to be a warrant officer,
and now flies Apaches,
at only 19.
“Is that a real thing?”
Their boots were big;
that plus their outsized voices,
made the room feel small.
Did they think we all wanted to listen?
Were their ears ruined by loud machinery?
Being yelled at in basic training?
I wanted to read my book
about a French woman,
disappointed by life,
about to win the lottery.
I looked over at the old man
two seats over,
his old man sneakers
were like anchors,
and I noticed his ball cap.
Something military,
maybe USMC.
Was he able to hear the jackasses and their loud conversation?
Nothing on his face gave an indication.
Would he have wanted to join them?

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These guys, above, are not that kind of jackass at all.

They were the two quietest in nursery school. Two quiet, shy boys who watched everything. One day they spoke a few words to each other.

Thank goodness they found each other.

Now, as then, they don’t have to say much to have a conversation. They recently ventured into the big city together: taking public transport, contra-dancing, thrifting, sitting in Cafes, even getting a little lost. Perfect!

Here, they were willing to help me stage a photo, for a work thing I was making.