Marching Forth


It’s always true. When you just get outside, something magical will always happen.

I almost didn’t go out. There was the knitting. The couch. The warm wood stove. The sharp wind.

But all of this amazingness was OUT THERE! I was thinking a lot about some special friends in my life while I was walking. Wishing so much Carrie was with me to admire this beauty.

{Are you freaking seeing this? For real?!}

Parenting from afar is new for me. (Oh sure, there’s still plenty of parenting to do right here at home. Don’t worry.) The hardest part about faraway parenting is striking the right balance: giving enough space, but also wanting to stay connected. Communication often happens digitally via text, by phone or FaceTime, sometimes inconsistently, and occasionally with urgency and all-caps.

As in (text):
MOM!
Or recently, when there was a very important message to deliver and all other forms of communication had failed, on his Facebook wall:
JONAS!!!! Call home.

I will always take his calls and I will always answer his messages as soon as I see them. When I don’t hear from him, I assume everything is fine.

I’ve been listening to Hamilton on repeat, as everyone in the world has. Loving it, just like everybody. I have to skip a couple of songs though, if I don’t want to get the twinkles in my eyes. This one, about his children: “Philip you outshine the morning sun, my son.” Sends me right over. Also, the terrible song where Hamilton’s son Philip has been shot in a duel and his mother is holding him as he dies in her arms. Any mom’s worst nightmare.

Worse than Eponine’s death in Les Mis! Any mom’s second-worst nightmare!

One of my favorite lines is one of King George’s, when he is singing to America:
“I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”
I’m knitting a new sweater, with some yarn I got with a birthday gift certificate to my local yarn shop, The Cashmere Goat. One of the best presents to get! So far, not much ripping out, but it’s no doubt in the future of this project somewhere. It is one of Kate Davies’ yoke patterns: Asta Sollilja. The beauty of modern times was that I got digital access to all of the patterns as soon as I had ordered the book online. I am delighting in reading about the history and cultural significance of yoked garments.

But really. This:

dreamy

It was a three-day weekend for my birthday! Surprise snow day on Friday added an element of restful leisure to my life — so grateful for that!

~winter cheering up quilt is coming along~


There was time for weekend chores plus some low-key add-ins: a spontaneous dinner with friends, and a lovely afternoon snow-shoe in all that blue and white sparkle. We wended our way through a wooded path that hugged the ocean’s edge; I was on some of those old classic snow shoes, all wood and cat gut (or whatever… don’t tell me!), with such great fishy-shaped prints!

Here’s what I’m reading: Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier, for book club. And to keep the Russian theme going: City of Thieves by David Benioff about the siege of Leningrad. Good winter reading.


It’s not that I’m feeling old or morbid or anything. I’m 41 years young! It’s just that I read perhaps the most succinct and exquisite eulogy this week, about someone’s pet hedgehog. It was a beautiful piece of writing. After reading it, I truly felt I knew something about who this creature was. 

Eulogy for Myself, After Clare’s Eulogy for her Deceased Hedgehog

February 6, 2016

I don’t know many other people who loved getting into bed so much that you would sometimes shriek with glee.

You hated stepping on Rice Krispies, were indifferent to historical dates, and would rather have had another natural childbirth than vomit, but you loved red shoes, enjoyed hanging laundry on a clothesline, and watching the snow fall.

You always hoped to see an owl sitting in the tree outside your bedroom and, though it happened rarely in your life, swimming and playing in tropical waters was an immediate short-circuit to joy.

One of your special talents was knowing the exact moment when a loved one drifted off to sleep, but you incorrectly estimated the amount of yarn needed to either cast on or off in most knitting projects, almost every time.

You remembered musical tunes, not lyrics, and provided your family with great amusement singing along to the words you thought you heard.

Being a mother was your life’s work: the most difficult and most rewarding thing you ever did. Your work outside of the home called upon some of the same skill sets you learned as a mom: listening with all of your senses, helping people find things, communicate with each other, to love books, to be kind, and to clean up after themselves.

So long, you lover of hedgehogs, chubby baby feet, and pillows of verdant moss. We’ll toss a Rice Krispie on the floor and think of you.

Fondly.

~a little story about a princess and her foolishness~

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~#1 birthday knitting project completed, the jenny/brooks chevron scarf~

Once Upon a Time

When the prince left town,

the princess had to start her own fires and make her own coffee.

And thank god it was warmish because the prince also starts the princess’s car each morning.

The joke, however, was on the princess

one very dark morning,

when she was so very very far away in dreams:

morning yoga was out of the question

and just getting out of bed

was a triumph.

She made her own coffee in the dark, cold kitchen.

It was quiet.

She made sure both boys had smoothies ready for them, with lunches in various stages of preparedness, little notes where necessary:

THIS TIME: EAT YOUR VEGGIES.

FINISH YOUR MAP OF ITALY.

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Only later in the day did the ridiculous headache start,

a certain lack of focus like moving in thick water,

and a complete plummet of perkiness

ensued after lunch.

The princess begged the school nurse for some almond butter on a cracker—

perhaps her healthy salad wasn’t enough for lunch?

Driving home,

nauseous from the headache that was alternatively sharp and dull and everywhere at once,

she recalled the prince saying something about putting the coffee in some blahblah new place blahblah.

But since she was the princess,

at the time it didn’t really concern her,

not being the one who makes the coffee after all.

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The princess had unknowingly reached for the jar of decaf and made herself a cup.

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~st. patrick’s day brooding~
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~this is what they really look like: smiley, handsome, delightful~

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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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.}

~sweater story~

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~February Lady sweater is finished~

You may remember my winter sweater project from this post. And now I am done! I LOVED loved L O V E D making this sweater. A feature I particularly enjoyed was the gull-lace pattern which is so pretty but easy to memorize. AND, friends, this is what is most essential for me as a knitter, it was easy to learn the visual map of the pattern: the ability for me to “see” where I was in the pattern, even if I had to set it down briefly. There is nothing more annoying than a pattern for which you have to pay attention every moment to know where you are in it. That is not my life.

SONY DSCSONY DSCEvery sweater I knit has a story. This sweater was begun when we were still envisioning our home, creating our house design, figuring out whether we could actually DO this project. Now our house is being built (R40 walls, people!), we are working on the site, and things are really moving forward. This sweater feels tied to this concept of collaboration, creation, manifestation of a vision.
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There are a lot of deer in our new neighborhood, a herd of maybe 20 big ones and little ones. So these antler buttons seemed like the perfect choice, from the very nice people at The Cashmere Goat. Misty was especially sweet (always!) and she even helped me find some great sale yarn for a few smaller projects. 
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So it’s March, the ugliest time of the whole year. Gray and muddy and cold and nasty. These are some of the process pictures of our site. They are not pretty.
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I mean, the excavator is pretty, if you’re into that sort of thing. Our team has been very hard at work on the site and it is pretty amazing to see how far it has come.
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SONY DSCThese two old oaks with the blue ribbons will definitely stay. They are lovely guardians.

And because some of you like to know my favorite books, here is a little visual.

iCycle Bicycle

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SONY DSCiCycle Bicycle Maine is here! You know this girl already, if you are a regular: she is the inimitable Miss E., also known as Ella Simon. She is a maker/sewist whom you may remember from this post here: 101 and 1 Bedsheets.

 

SONY DSCThis girl knew nothing of bikes or welding or mechanics when she decided to create the iCycle Bicycle, a pedal-powered ice cream maker (stationary or mobile), for her 8th grade project at Ashwood Waldorf School. True story, I am already a big fan and lucky that she and Jonas have been buddies since they were tiny, giggling little twinkling people who made lots of movies together.

SONY DSCNow they are big twinkly people, still creating amazing things for the world.
SONY DSCWait. Let me say that again, with more emphasis: She knew nothing of bikes or welding or mechanics! I think she knew that she liked homemade ice cream, but that was the scope of her experience going into the project. And when she went to the bike store to talk to the bike dudes about her vision for the iB, they basically pooh-poohed her idea. Pfffffft. Good thing Ella moved right on to a couple of great mentors who helped her manifest this vision.
SONY DSC SONY DSCThe process is surprisingly quick, under the right conditions: 10-15 minutes of pedaling and it’s ice cream time! If you’re pedaling with your pals, or just pedaling the stationary bike while hanging out with friends, the time goes by even quicker.
SONY DSC Recently sampled flavors: fresh garden mint chip, strawberry rhubarb, and lemon cloud. Ella uses excellent ingredients for her ice cream, including local and organic ingredients when possible, and fresh eggs from her chickens!
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~this is exercise as it is meant to be: exertion followed by commensurate reward!~

SONY DSCIn other news: Ella was invited to be a vendor at the Midcoast Mini Maker Fair this September 7th. Could be a great way to meet the iB in person, if you are local to Midcoast Maine (Camden).

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The iCycle Bicycle does parties, birthdays, and events! Contact Ella via the iCycle Bicycle Facebook page to plan your visit from the iCycle Bicycle!
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