Saturday, September 22, 2012

Here's Fall!

A fine first day of fall.

Took our turn at cleaning the chapel. Volunteered at the blood drive at church. Did some laundry.  Marvelled at the rain.

Late in the day, the rain stopped, and Bonnie and I went for a walk.

The crisp weather, clean air, spectacular clouds - it was grand.

No fall colors yet - but definitely Fall.

I love Michigan's seasons - all of them - but I confess to a partiality for fall. 

Bonnie likes Walk Season

Friday, September 14, 2012

Just One Thing for Friday (And It's Really For Tuesday)

On Tuesday, we again remembered the events of September 11. We again reminded ourselves to "Always Remember" and to "Never Forget."

What is it that I need to remember? Lots of things, I suppose. One is simply that life is fragile and unpredictable. When I wake in the morning, I have no idea how that day will end. I hope this doesn't leave me trembling in fear of the unknown, but instead motivates me to choose how I live each moment (or at least choose for some of them), to try to live and love wholly and completely.

So much changed that day, and I suppose I should remember that, too. People died, some as innocent  victims of time and place, others as heroes who rose to the occasion. Hearts were broken that day, watching the horror unfold on television. Many found a new courage, and a new sense of unity. Mothers and fathers, parents and children, friends and family, bereft, were left to puzzle out a new life.

It falls to me still, eleven years later, to remember, and in that memory, to be kind to others; to serve and to mourn; to do my best to make something of my life, in memory of their lives. (Hm. That idea bears further thought and attention, as I seem to still fall short in that area.)

Billy Collins wrote eloquently of remembering the individuals, and not the event. I feel much more hopeful, as I focus on those wonderfully unique strangers (known to God, if not to me), celebrate life, and let the destruction be washed away.
The Names
by Billy Collins

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Saturday at the KIA

Last Saturday, I went to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, to see the Elliott Erwitt exhibit Dog Dogs. Erwitt is a commercial photographer. Over his career, he took enough dog photos to compile this exhibit, which really is quite enjoyable. It will be here in Kalamazoo until September 23, so stop by if you're a dog person (I firmly believe all people would benefit by becoming dog people...).

This was my favorite photo in the exhibit. I love the juxtaposition of one dog's large feet and the other dog's entire small self. (The Magnum Photos site names the three participants in the photo: Felix, Gladys, and Rover. That little guy is Rover?)

Elliott Erwitt

After looking at the Erwitt exhibit, I admired a few other works that I happened upon. This horse reminded me of a similar sculpture that I like at Meijer Gardens. Sure enough, the two are by the same artist, Deborah Butterfield.

Deborah Butterfield

Another piece that charmed me was this small bronze, Mother Playing, by Chaim Gross. (Apparently he has more than one piece with that name; in case it matters to you, this one was dated 1957.)

Chaim Gross

The KIA is also hosting the exhibit Expressions: International Glass Invitational (through Nov 4). I quickly walked through part of that exhibit, on my way out, and was impressed with what I saw; I'll have to make a return visit before this show closes.

Two pieces caught my eye. One was Telling Stories, by Emily Brock. She has created a domestic scene (complete with cat), focused on reading and thinking, which itself springs from the pages of a book.

Emily Brock

The other was a stunningly beautiful piece by Richard Jolley, Cobalt Dove. 

Richard Jolley

 When I got home, I found that Bonnie had created her own artwork: Beagle with Laundry. I'd left clothes on the bed, to be folded later. Bonnie scattered them everywhere (some she threw clear across the bed and onto the floor), and then, clearly exhausted by her endeavor, she fell asleep in the middle of it all.

Bonnie's Performance Art

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five Things for Friday, Including a Jaguar and a Beagle

Here's another of my Five-Things-for-Friday posts; this one is fairly light on content, but heavy on pictures (which are a more valued currency anyway, right?) Be sure to check out Heather's Five-for-Friday lists at her blog.

- 1 -

I saw a car very much like this one, on Wednesday, parked at the grocery store. Oh my, it was gorgeous, a Jaguar XJ8L (based on photos I found, probably around a 2000 model). If I had money to burn, I might be tempted to throw some of it at a beauty like this.

Love at first sight

- 2 -

A while ago, one of our guild members knit a most adorable hat, and now I've followed suit:

The cow, the moon, and a cool braid

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon

This is the Mother Goose Hat, designed by Lisa McFetridge. I love the Fair Isle design, the tassels, the cow, the braid - it is delightful! It seems a bit large for a baby,  but babies do grow, so it will fit eventually!

- 3 -

I made spaghetti sauce - enough for just one meal for Jim and me - from our CSA tomatoes:

It turned out pretty well, and wasn't too difficult (even for me!). I used these instructions.

Now I have visions of buying tomatoes in quantity and canning spaghetti sauce. I think I'll lie down till the vision passes.

- 4 -

Ah, the election. One might assume I would be a Romney fan (owing to that Mormon thing), but not so. I think there's a lot of good to Mitt Romney, but I supported Obama four years ago, and I expect I'll do so again. I'm no good at articulating my political opinions, and instead tend to be fairly low-key and quiet in these matters. I will simply say this: The more I watch and the more I hear, the more I continue to feel a kinship with the Obama and the Democratic party and its ideals.

Did you happen to see Michelle Obama's convention speech? It was one of my favorites from the two conventions.

- 5 -

And how about a sweet beagle face, thrown in for free?


Monday, September 3, 2012

Marriage Advice: Own Your Words

Lillian Joyce Childress
& William Boaz Beer
My parents were married on September 3, 1949. They'd been married nearly 52 years when my mother passed away.

Thinking about their marriage reminds me of my effort to come up with advice for newlyweds. I've decided to occasionally share the ideas I've come up with, and this anniversary seems a good time to start.

Several years ago, our area church leaders discussed, among other things, the idea of Owning your Words. I believe our congregation was the first to see this presentation, and it was a bit rough. Even so, although I can't remember anything else about their presentation, I remember clearly the need to Own our Words.

Our recent trip to Wisconsin provided the perfect illustration of this principle.

Whenever we travel, Jim and I make it a point to look for yarn stores and coin stores. This trip, we couldn't find the latter, but we did locate a yarn store in Fish Creek. One morning, when it was pouring rain and Joyce was at rehearsal and Dave was doing laundry, Jim & I tracked down Red Sock Yarns and checked it out. It was not a large store, and it didn't take long to scope it out. We chatted a bit with other customers, and then I approached the girl at the counter with my standard question: "We're visiting from out of town. What can I find here that I wouldn't find at my local yarn store?"

She promptly showed me two yarns. One was a sock yarn, from Sunshine Yarns. This is a small company, based in Boulder Colorado, that creates hand-dyed yarns. As with most indie (independent) dyers, you seldom see their work in retail stores (they generally reach their market through the Internet, and through fiber shows), so seeing the colors in the store was a unique opportunity. It was a plus that I'd actually heard of this particular dyer, on podcasts and blogs. The store offered several luscious colorways.

Option 1: Sunshine Yarns

The second yarn was also a fingering weight yarn, by Swans Island. This company was founded on Swans Island, Maine, in the early 1990's, making their own dyestuffs, weaving on hand looms, and crafting beautiful wool blankets. This yarn, an organic merino, was created using the same standards, and it was lovely, just begging to be held and stroked. The store employee then showed me a shawl knit with this yarn, the Panoramic Stole, by Hannah Fettig.

Option 2: Swans Island

Well, I will tell you, nothing captures my heart faster than holding a soft, squishy yarn, reading of the mindful way it was created, and then seeing a lovely garment knit from it. I knew where this was going.

Then Jim showed me, "Look, here are two skeins of that Sunshine Yarn, in this beautiful Wedgewood colorway." (You've got to love a husband who understands colorways and dye lots, and the benefits of multiple skeins.)

"Yes," I agreed, "that is a beautiful color." And then I turned my attention back to the Swans Island dream yarn.

But it was not to be. As often as I returned to the Swans Island yarn, Jim pulled my attention back to Sunshine Yarn's Wedgewood, with its tonal shades (and Jim is right, I do love tonals). And in the end, that is what I bought to take home.

As we drove back to the lodge to meet Dave, I was Not Happy. I didn't say anything, but I was lamenting the loss of the other yarn, wishing I'd bought it, mad that I'd given in and bought the yarn Jim had promoted. I was annoyed with Jim, for being so involved and not letting me get the yarn I really wanted. I was quickly extrapolating this to all the other times I'd given in and bought something because he liked it, even though it wasn't my own first choice.

Suddenly, I listened to my own thoughts, and observed that I was behaving rather like a child (and an unpleasant one at that). And I remembered Ned's lesson from that presentation several years ago, and realized, "I'm not Owning my Words."

I had told Jim I liked the yarn. I had taken it to the counter and paid for it. Those were My Words and My Actions. And now I was not Owning them, and was about to behave like a first class jerk.

I made the decision then and there to Own my Words, and behave as though I liked the yarn I'd purchased. (And I did like it, for Pete's sake!). We got back to our room, and while waiting for Dave, hopped onto Ravelry to see what other people had knitted with this yarn, and to think about what I could use it for. When Dave joined us, I untwisted the yarn to show him the different shades, and he pretended to be interested, and then together we went out and bought glorious Wisconsin cheese.

Disaster averted! Remember: Own your Words.

P.S. I think the yarn is going to become these socks.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Door County, Wisconsin

Dave & Joyce sing with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, which participated in Door County, Wisconsin's Peninsula Music Festival. Jim & I went with them, and spent several relaxing days. We missed our beagle, but we had such fun!

Dave and Joyce had some rehearsals, during which Jim & I wandered on our own. One morning, we headed for the Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor, but, following Dave's advice to heed opportunities as they surfaced, we detoured to visit the Cana Island Lighthouse.

Cana Island Lighthouse

Climbing to the top;
I did NOT like these stairs

On Joyce's birthday, we had dinner at Trio Restaurant, in Egg Harbor. We ate lots of good food (and cheese) (and pie) while in Door County, but this was easily our favorite meal. The food was delicious, the service was excellent, and the ambiance was perfect!

Afterwards, we had time to go to Eagle Tower, in Peninsula State Park, before darkness fell.

Built in the 1903's, 75 feet tall.
I felt much more comfortable
climbing these stairs!

I think this is Eagle Harbor

Dave and Joyce

After that stop, we headed to our room, where Joyce taught us to play Liar's Dice (the version that uses regular dice - we each started with 10, but Joyce says they usually start with at least 15!), and we enjoyed a delicious cherry pie. (I should admit that I don't really like cherry pie, but the cherry pie fans among us assured me that this one was delicious.)

While Dave & Joyce rehearsed on Saturday, Jim & I again headed for the Ridges Sanctuary, in Baileys Harbor. This is a lush, beautiful area, home to wildflowers, orchids, and birds. We enjoyed an hour or so of walking along the trails.

One of the range lights

Grass of Parnassus

A swale in the sanctuary

Saturday, between morning rehearsal and the evening performance, the four of us drove to the north of the peninsula, looking for views of the lake. After several false starts, we found this one. It was lovely, but challenging to get to. This was at the Door Bluff Headlands County Park, and featured a vague path, a steep hill through the forest, and a six-foot climb down by the beach. (Interestingly, their website says there is an overlook - we certainly didn't come across it!)

The cairns were everywhere!
Dave wanted to knock them over, but
that seemed like too much effort...

Jim and I picked up the aforementioned cherry pie at Sweetie Pies, and then relaxed in the 'green space' outside their shop.

Jim, looking  forward to that Cherry Pie

Lots of good knitting time!

We attended several of the Music Festival concerts. On Thursday night, we heard Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance (No. 4); Walton's Viola Concerto, with Viola soloist Joan DerHovsepian; and Holst's The Planets. Joyce sang with other women from the Apollo Chorus, in the Neptune movement.

On Saturday night, we heard Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, with soprano Kimberly McCord, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The Apollo Chorus and the Peninsula Music Festival Chorus.

We enjoyed both performances, and thought everyone - chorus, orchestra, soloists - did a great job.

Of course, yarn was purchased on this trip. Red Sock Yarns is a small shop in downtown Fish Creek. We enjoyed browsing their yarns, as we chatted with a local customer (who was also attending the Peninsula Music Festival, and who volunteered Jim's exact height...). We ended up buying sock yarn, dyed by Dani, an Indie dyer in Boulder Colorado (not local, but very unique!).

Sunshine Yarns Classic Sock Yarn
This sock yarn might actually become socks!

We have more vacation photos on Picasa - if you're suffering from insomnia (assuming you're still awake at this point), take a look: Door County Album.

I have no new pictures of Our Sweet Bonnie, who, upon our return, went through a brief (but trying) period of "I'll teach you to leave me behind." She has since repented, and resumed her stellar behavior (thank goodness).