Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Spring Walk with Bonnie

Today, out walking with Bonnie, I tried to photograph some of our Michigan spring. It is crazy early, but the flowers and trees are beautiful. I put together a collage, which is a bit of an experiment - I'm not sure how it will look on the blog. (Unfortunately, there are no photos of Bonnie; she wasn't cooperating at all!)

This critter has been sitting in this bush since last fall, and makes me smile every time we walk by:

Friday, March 23, 2012

(Not Quite) Five Things for Friday

Each Friday, Heather shares her Five Things for Friday. Apparently my limit today is four....!

- 1 -

Jim went to Philadelphia last week, to the Public Library Association's annual conference. He brought back this delightful t-shirt:

We love to read, and we love our library. Our community loves it as well, and shows that by regularly supporting the millage that funds its budget. Some folks believe there is no longer a need for libraries. We disagree - libraries provide books, yes, but also serve as a gathering spot for the community, and provide many other services as well. Our library invites musicians to perform; holds story times for toddlers; hosts a teen filmmakers festival; invites authors to speaker; provides computer access (yes, not everyone has computer access in their home); and offers a beautiful place to sit and relax. And that list is just what came to my mind while I'm sitting here typing; the KPL offers much more.

My friend wrote a rant a blog post on the subject: What Makes Me Mad? Dumb Letters to the Editor.

- 2 -

The library in Shutesbury Massachusetts needs a new library building. Their current home was built 110 years ago, and has some limitations. This delightful video outlines their challenges, and invites you to contribute to their fundraising effort.

- 3 -

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important” (Kathryn Stockett, The Help).

Good book. Good movie. And Aibileen's message for Mae Mobley is good for all of us.

- 4 -

"We'll be Happy When the Ice Worms Nest Again."

That is the title of a song from the Yukon, popular during the gold rush era. But doesn't it conjure up some amazing images???

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lambs and Lions and General Conference

Jim reminded me of that old predictor of March weather: In like a lamb, out like a lion. Given the lamb-like weather we've seen so far, we could be in deep trouble when the month-end rolls around.

Here are a handful of photos, which I took Monday - when it was still winter, by the way - and when Bonnie and I walked before work, knowing it would be too hot for beagles by lunchtime - already! We should not have to change our walking schedule for at least another month. (Today's high was 89 degrees; the average for this day is a much more reasonable 56.)

Morning fog

Morning sunlight

Morning daffodil

I love daffodils and spring flowers and tree blossoms as much as anyone. But people: This is crazy weather. We should not be expressing gratitude for this warm weather (well, I suppose gratitude is always appropriate). We should be praying that the blossoms on the fruit trees will not mature so quickly, in this unseasonably warm weather, that they can't survive the frost that We.All.Know.Will.Come...

This is Michigan, people!

On another note: Even if the month ends with the roar of a lion, I'm looking forward to General Conference. Our church holds this conference twice a year - in the spring and in the fall. It's a wonderful opportunity to hear what our leaders - prophets and apostles - have to say, and to listen for that inspiration that is meant just for me. I love being able to watch on our TV at home (technology is wonderful), with knitting to help me stay focused, and Bonnie to keep us company.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Milestone

I posted a while back about the shawl I was knitting. And then I wrote about having to rip it all out and start over. Now I've reached a milestone. When you frog a project, you have to do something with all that yarn - wrap it around the larger skein, make a small ball of yarn that dangles off your larger ball, something. It's annoying to work with, but you don't have much choice. And then, one day, you find that you've knit enough that this odd appendage is GONE. And that happened! I'm finally back to knitting with the main ball, that sits happily in my yarn bowl.

So now I'm happy too. :)

And here is a photo of the shawl so far.

Now that I'm following the pattern properly, it's behaving much better. I've almost finished the first wedge, and it does indeed have a pie shape. Hurrah!

I've nearly finished one of my mystery mittens - but I confess that the shawl has been getting more attention. (Our strangely warm weather isn't very motivating, either!)

And here's a quick Bonnie tale. I picked up a couple skeins of Kauni at our LYS, thinking it will make a nice scarf:

I'm planning to alternate the yarns, along the lines of Jared Flood's Noro Striped Scarf. I've no idea when I'll actually start this project, and for now the yarn is just hanging around my office. But the other day, I walked in the room, and one skein was sitting on the floor beside the basket.

Do you think it jumped out, making a break for freedom?

Me neither.

I don't know what's gotten into that beagle of ours!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dr Hoffmeister and Penicillin

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 86 years old today, and I would have enjoyed celebrating the occasion. (If I were more on top of things, I'd have scanned a picture to share; instead, I'll refer you to the photo here.)

On my walk with Bonnie today, I listened to The Writer's Almanac, and learned that 70 years ago today, the first human life was saved with penicillin. I won't go into the details; you can read about it here.

It is interesting that the two events share the same day, since penicillin played a daily role in my mother's life. My mother had primary lymphedema, and one of the complications was frequent infections. My mother was active and involved in life, but the onset of an infection would send her to bed, delirious with fever and chills.

I remember the penicillin tablets - small white ovals, inscribed Lilly. My mother's name was Lillian (she went by Joyce, but that's another story), so although I knew the pills were manufactured by Eli Lilly, I thought of them as being named for her. She took them daily, in an effort to forestall infections.

And when that failed, as periodically happened, our good Dr Hoffmeister would show up at our door.  He'd give mom an injection of penicillin, and she would be up and about in a day or so.

Our mother was the center of our home and family. I will always be grateful for our concerned and kind-hearted family doctor, and the wonder drug penicillin, for regularly helping our family regain its balance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Is Around the Corner

What a beautiful day it was - nearly 60 degrees when Bonnie and I took our walk. I love weather that requires a light jacket - that's my favorite.

And look what we stumbled across, growing in someone's yard, near the street:

And right by our house, a thick patch of snow drops:

Bonnie was not impressed by my delight in these flowers. 

Enough with the flowers, already!

For contrast, here are some photos from February 24 (less than two weeks ago):

In the park, looking north

Smells in the snow

On Highgate Rd

In keeping with the snow, I finally finished the reknit of Jim's scarf - he's worn it once or twice, but that may be it for this season!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Lynching of Emmett Till

In August 1955, Emmett Louis Till was murdered. He was a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago, visiting relatives in Mississippi.

What triggered the murder was not known for certain - maybe he whistled at Carolyn Bryant, maybe he flirted with her, maybe he touched her. Bryant's husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, were tried for the murder, and subsequently acquitted.

Christopher Metress edited the book, The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative, in 2002. The book describes the incident through newspaper stories before, during, and after the trial. He includes letters written to different papers, and stories researched afterwards. There are excerpts from memoirs, and literary retellings of the murder.

I was struck by the horror of the killing; by the brutality and bullying of the murderers; by the lack of concern or guilt on the part of Southerners (at least some of them); and by the vocal reactions of Northerners.

Metress includes writings from Mrs Medgar Evers' autobiography, For Us, the Living (1967):
The Till case, in a way, was the story in microcosm of every Negro in Mississippi. For it was the proof that even youth was no defense against the ultimate terror, that lynching was still the final means by which white supremacy would be upheld, that whites could still murder Negroes with impunity, and that the upper- and middle-class white people of the state would uphold such killings through their police and newspapers and courts of law. It was the proof that Mississippi had no intention of changing its ways, that no Negro's life was really safe, and that the federal government was either powerless, as it claimed, or simply unwilling to step in to erase this blot on the nation's reputation for decency and justice. It was the proof, if proof were needed, that there would be no real change in Mississippi until the rest of the country decided that change there must be and then forced it (p 250).
The courtroom drama was more than the trial of two men accused of murder. Mississippi, and the South, were on trial. As Mrs Evers suggested, the rest of the country needed to promote change; this event provided the momentum for that change, and was a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

Another telling selection was from the memoir of Anna Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968):
Before Emmett Till's murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was a new fear known to me - the fear of being killed just because I was black. This was the worst of my fears. I knew once I got food, the fear of starving to death would leave. I also was told that if I were a good girl, I wouldn't have to fear the Devil or hell. But I didn't know what one had to do or not do as a Negro not to be killed. Probably just being a Negro period was enough, I thought (pp 254-255).
At the same time, there were those who continued to defend Mississippi and the South, as in these letters to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
... there is a certain element that will stop at nothing to humiliate and discredit the South and any other section (and there are other sections) who are trying to preserve the integrity of the white race (p 146).
However much we deplore such a crime as that alleged which caused young Till to disappear, let it be known that it will be a long time before Southern people will be silent and submissive in the face of agents who insult and try to hurt womanhood.

Any society for the advancement of Negroes can profitably exercise itself with the inculcation of morals and the strengthening of their social customs (p 148).
As I read Metress's book, I often wondered what my parents made of all this. They were a young family, with a nearly four-year-old boy, and a baby with some health issues. They lived in a trailer park in Minnesota, where my father managed the equipment on a construction site. They visited doctors, and made a trip to the Mayo Clinic with their baby, and worked, and cared for each other. Did they even follow the story of the trial? How did they react? What did they think?

The anthology includes a poem by Richard Davidson, A Cause for Justice. Its verses go back and forth, between the description of Mr. and Mrs XX, spectators at the trial, and the memories that linger near the grave of Emmett Till. Here are excerpts from the poem (pp 299-300).
Mr. and Mrs. XX settle down in their easy chairs
And guests pop in for a few good drinks and talk
About the trial and notice how the weather is and the
Fact that the defense attorney was quite interesting
And didn't Mrs. XX look fine in that autumn hat and was there
Really a reporter from Time there?
And what was all the shouting about and if there was a crime
Certainly it would have come out in the proceedings.
Mr. and Mrs. XX nod happily and yawn and it's been a long, long day
And they wonder secretly if pictures were taken and were
They seated in the right place?
They would purchase the morning papers and see.
Mr. XX goes to the front door, says goodnight, locks it, smokes a final cigarette,
     and walks casually to bed.
To his wife's arms and to sleep and to forget.
. . .
We will not forget Emmett Louis Till
In tomorrow's problems or last week's good news.
We will not forget him in breakfast food
Or in the rush of winter bells.
We promise the voice that commands our attention
The earth that was his earth
Will not wilt and die in a quick hour's decision.
The benefit of books such as this is that they don't let us forget.