Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yopping update - 21


Dobar dan!  (This means good day in Croatian).

I have had three lessons so far and have used it a bit when skyping with my daughter.  Not an easy language but I have a few words I am comfortable with now.

This week has been all about my two wips - both shawls.

I have spent most of the week on my Dying of the Light.  If you knew the week I have had it seems most appropriate.







And I took my On the Spice Market to knit group on Thursday because I was in the middle of german short rows with Dying of the Light, and I knew that wouldn't end well in a room full of chatter and laughter.





I have been editing my novel at least one chapter a day and at this point I only have eight chapters left to go.  Then I will be sending it out to beta readers. 

I did scour the city for my favourite knitting magazine - Simply Knitting, out of the UK, and third store lucky I now have a sweater I want to add to my queue, and of course another Alan Dart masterpiece.

I was given 300 gms of sportweight yarn on Thursday.  One of the knit group regulars is moving and she brought presents for all of us from her stash.  I am thinking a sweater, or a shawl.  There are 100 grms each of three different shades of blue.  Decisions decisions.

Also last week my friend (Croatian teacher) gave me two lots of sweater quantity yarn - one in shades of green, and another a rainbow boucle.  She too was cleaning out her stash cupboard.

I love getting surprise yarn.

The Healthy Knitter is starting her Project Peace KAL on December 1st and I think I have just the yarn for that - left over from my Iona blanket.  I did this last year with a number of friends and then we all got together on the solstice, December 21, to finish our project and to eat and be in peaceful company.  I even wrote a parody on Twas the Night before Christmas to honour last year's event.

You have probably noticed still no photo of my test socks, but I have heard the pattern is being released on the 24th of November so stay tuned.  They will be revealed next week!

Have a great week everyone.  To follow other intrepid yoppers head here.

zbogom!  (Croatian for goodbye)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The turning point

Excerpt Chapter Twenty-One - Nine days and counting

She put a linen table cloth on the table and put out the good silverware and good china.  She lit one of her new candles.  She made some rice and chicken, and a Greek salad. 

She put on some soft music and poured herself a glass of wine. 

She remembered something her daughter had once told her.  Her daughter had just come home from having her nails done, and taking herself out to dinner and a movie.  When questioned about being alone, her daughter had said. “I am an awesome date, I take myself out, and I am an awesome date.”

So there she sat: wine, candles, good china, and good food.  She set a second place at the table.  The cat jumped up onto an empty chair. 

She looked out over the city – the lights sparkling in the distance, the waxing moon shining in the window. 

If this was it, would it be enough? 

“Yes”, she whispered softly. 

“Yes, but it doesn’t have to be enough.” 

There is  more. 

You are worthy to have more.  

Ask the question?

“What ails thee?”

Ask it again, to those close to you.

“What ails thee?”

Ask.

“Where does it hurt? “

“Everywhere”, she would answer.

But that wasn’t true.  It didn’t hurt everywhere and it didn’t hurt all the time. 

Why had she forgotten that?

She decided that tomorrow she would leave things as they were – she wouldn’t decrease her little pink and grey (grey and pink) pills any further.  She would just let this past week settle.  There was a lot to think about, and she needed some time.

But for tonight?  Tonight she would just be company for herself.  She picked up her latest knitting project and began the lace section. 

And, yes, she put in a lifeline before she started.


“Better safe than sorry”, she whispered, 

"Better.  Safe." 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Fisher King

Excerpt from chapter 20 - two-thirds of the editing done.

She went to her bookshelf and found her copy of Parzival and settled on the couch to read.  She noticed all the writing she had done in the margins and her eyes fell on five words she had written in purple ink. 

“How can a question heal?”

As she leafed through her margin notations she again came to those same five words:

“How can a question heal?”

 Only this time there were some other thoughts jotted down:  

     The right question opens up the listener to new possibility
     Empathetic inquiry
     A beginning, an invitation
     A good question is one that hasn’t been asked before

Now she was getting excited.  It was as if this whole month had been leading her here.  There was something about the asking of questions, and also about the not asking of questions.  Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, kind of thing.  If you ask a question your destiny will unfold in one direction.  If you don’t ask a question your destiny will still unfold, but in another direction. 

What was the question?

Who was being asked?

Who was asking?

What was the answer?

She scanned the book, searching for the passage about the king and his wound.  She found it:

“We fell on our knees in prayer before the Grail.  All at once we saw written upon it that a knight should come, and if from him a question came, our sorrow would be ended, but if anyone should prompt him in any way to the question, his question would not help, but the wound would remain as before.  If he does not ask the first night, the power of his question will vanish.  But if at the right time his question is asked, then the king shall be healed. “

So there was a time frame.  And a rule - no prompting.  Her angels were guiding her, not prompting her, to ask the question. Was it already too late?

This month, this day, had lead her to something.  Had she been on a grail quest all along?  And by all along she didn’t just mean this month, but these sixty years?

Finding this book, with these notes, was a treasure.  It had been there on the bookshelf all these years.  Her angels had reminded her earlier this morning.  There must be an answer in this book. 

She opened the book to the first page and began to read. 
She read all through the night – she, and Parzival, and the notes from her younger self, her forty-four year old self. 


On this cold November night she found herself in good company.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Don't ever let go of the thread

The Way It Is by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread
.
"Don’t ever let go of the thread. "
Her eyes welled with tears.
How had she forgotten this? 
“While you hold it you can’t get lost.”
You. Can’t. Get. Lost.
She was weeping openly now, but again felt like something huge had shifted.
She picked up her knitting.  The cat curled up beside her sensing this was not the time to yowl for food.
She slipped the right needle into the left and brought the yarn forward. 
Knit one front and back, knit to end of row. 
Knit to end of row.  And then?
Then transfer the needle to the other hand and begin again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The bear went over the mountain

Excerpt from Chapter Seventeen.

The rain had picked up again, and she was walking into the icy drops.  She put her head down, her hood up and started.  She had her hands in her pockets because of the cold and berated herself for not wearing gloves.  Her husband had always cautioned her about walking with her hand in her pockets.  

“If you fall, there is nothing to stop you”. 

If she fell.  When she fell.

She took her hands out of her pocket to quiet his voice inside her head.  The hood took away her peripheral vision so at street crossings she had to look up and out from side to side to make sure it was safe to cross.  Once across her head was down as she powered up the hill.

Her breath was deepening as she got half way up, and yes, she was sweating.  A rivulet of sweat ran down her temple and into her eye.  It stung.  She raised her face to the rain, and with her cold hand wiped the salt away. 

She was nearing the top, and the last block was always the hardest because the pitch of the hill steepened dramatically just before the crest.

Steepened dramatically just before the crest. 

Things are always darkest before the dawn.

The eye of the needle. 

She reached the top.  Her heart was pounding.  At the bus-stop she stopped to take her pulse.  She didn’t have a watch with a second hand on her, but her heart was beating fast and strong and resolute. 

She circled the transit pole, and started the journey down.  “The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain and what do you think he saw?”  “He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain. And what do you think he did? He climbed another mountain….”

It was going round and round in her brain.  An ear-worm from grade, what?  Two?  It seemed appropriate for today for indeed when she got within a block of her house there was another mountain. 

There would always be another mountain.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

A fairytale

This is an excerpt from a chapter in which the protagonist writes a fairy tale based on a tarot reading she had done.  By far this is the hardest chapter I have worked with this month.  But I did it (and I also marked 23 grade seven books )- so now I can definitely pick up my knitting and turn on Netflix!

Three of Pentacles

 He then called upon the butterflies.  These creatures came from a magical mountainous land and were accompanied by three fairy spirits.  These were the spirits of faith, hope and charity. They fluttered into the forest, around the unicorns, towards the shore.

Five of Wands

Raphael turned his attention towards the entrapped carousel of unicorns.   He called upon the elements of Earth and Air, Water and Fire.  The four elements were powerful, but not quite powerful enough to free the unicorns, so he brought down from the heavens the fifth element. 

This was the element of ether, or quintessence.  It was neither hot, nor cold, wet nor dry.  Some said the fifth element was the spirit of humanity.  Whatever it was, and however it was described, it came from the archangels and its origin was the spiritual realm. 

This element of humanity spread out from the carousel and touching the mermaid, her great fish tail was transformed into human legs.  She stepped onto the earth for the first time, leaving behind her secret material things.  She started into the woods, past the carousel and in the distance she saw the tower, the queen, and the prince.

Seven of Pentacles

She found herself before the great life tree, Yggdrasil, and hanging on the tree were seven crystal orbs and in each orb was her own reflection.  In the great trunk of this world tree was the face of an ancient one.  The face of the wisdom of the ages.  The wisdom of the first one.  The primordial one. 


She saw the seven parts of herself in those orbs:  the lover, the mother, the mermaid, the daughter, the seeker, the forgiven, the clairvoyant.  And all of them together were her – a child of God. 



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Yopping numero vingt


Hooray I have a finished object to show you except I can't until Knitterarium gives me the okay!

Still - a pair of finished socks.

I have been working on my Spice shawl and I am so happy with how it is coming together.




Remember my Year of Projects list?  It included editing my novel.  Well I have chosen to work on it everyday in November as part of the Nanowrimo challenge.

I have edited fourteen chapters already which is almost half way through.  I have added about 2800 more words and I am tightening up some of the plot pieces as well as fixing grammar (why do I use the word 'that' soooooo much?) and spelling and typos.    I am feeling very good about my progress and I have been posting excerpts daily on my blog (well, except for one day when I forgot).

To be fair I have been teaching every morning since October 10, and this morning was the last morning of the 6:30 alarm for a while.

I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, and getting to some errands I have been putting off the last month.

Yesterday after teaching I went to the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremony and then to a funeral for a friend's father.

Last night was my last night of school prep, but mostly I just sat and knit and watched Netflix.

Today I have no prep to do but, oh my, do the floors ever need my attention.

But after that I am knitting!

To follow other yoppers visit the link to their posts here.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saint Martin

A wonderful man died last Wednesday night.  The father of a dear friend. 

Yesterday my husband and I went out to the wake.  I have never been to a wake.  I was a little nervous, but honoured to be invited all the same. 

When we arrived it was a glorious autumn day.  The sun was shining, the fall leaves scattered under our feet. 

As I entered the room where he lay I was struck by the beauty and serenity of his face.  The room was lit with candles, chairs had been placed around where he lay, and he was covered in a beautiful pale yellow cloth, his hands enfolded around a pale pink blossom.

His wife and I sat together, in that  room, with that wonderful man.  I swear I could see him move - as if he were still breathing and at any moment he would open his eyes and they would twinkle, and he would smile. 

At our school he would dress as Saint Nicholas, once a year, with his wife playing the part of his naughty page  Peter, and they would enter each classroom with cookies and oranges.  She would play tricks on the children and he would pronounce naughty and nice deeds from the golden book. 

He also played King Balthazar in the school's Three Kings Play - about the magi visiting the newborn baby Jesus.  King Balthazar was the older, wiser king who brought the frankencense.

To me he will always be Saint Nicholas and King Balthazar.  He was a great man.  A saint and a king. 

Later in the day some other friends joined us in the room, and one played the lyre and we sang Martinmas songs for him. 

Then his daughter brought some music she wanted her friends to learned for the funeral and we practiced our harmonies and I am certain he approved of our efforts. 

I have just returned home from his funeral.  There was some laughter, and there was music and I know he is at peace leaving us all the better for having known him. 

The next days and weeks and months and years will not be easy for his wife and children and grandchildren - but I know that these past three days were so peaceful and ensouled and those words, and songs, and companionship will carry them through the difficult days ahead. 

Rest in Peace, Dear Martin.  Rest in Peace. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fresh Faces

Chapter 12 excerpt:

She believed in opposing forces.  
She remembered when she was teaching about the Hebrew people she had come across a belief that there are four kinds of people:  

people who are ignorant and kind, 

people who are ignorant and unkind, 

people who are clever and kind, and 

people who are clever and unkind.  

She had asked a room full of nine year olds why the Hebrew God would have made those four kinds of people.  One wise little boy said that you wouldn’t appreciate kind people as much without the unkind people to compare them to. 

Maybe the world needed those fresh faced people to give the cynical old people something to remember about hope. Maybe that is why she loved teaching those students today.  Maybe it was like looking at a picture of her younger self?

And was that younger self, that dreamer, that optimist, that fresh faced student, was she still in there somewhere?


She thought so.  She believed the answer was yes.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Collage

Chapter 11 excerpt:

Now she had to think about her dreams. 
She wished to see herself as others saw her.  That is what she wanted.  To see herself as those three little girls saw her.  Or her students. Or her family.
She leafed through the magazines and cut out a picture of a woman diving into a swimming pool.  She then found a picture of a gray haired woman cuddling a baby.  In another magazine she found a picture of an old woman’s wrinkled hands with a rosary wrapped around them.  She cut out a picture of toll-house cookies.  She kept going.
After sometime she realized it was dark and it had stopped raining.  The house was quiet.  She felt quiet. 
She looked at the stack of pictures in front of her and all the bits and pieces of paper on the floor. She gathered up the scraps placing them in the fireplace.  She turned on a few lights, fed the cat and put the kettle on to boil. 
She dug around in her emergency cupboard and found a slightly used beeswax candle. 
She headed back into her study and found some Bristol board and a glue stick. 
She took her tea, and went back to the living room.  She lit the candle, and started to arranged the pictures in the shape of a human form.  Her form. 
She placed and pasted and pondered.  She sipped her tea and adjusted the placement of the last picture.  It was a dandelion puff.  The picture was about four inches square. 
She looked at the puff and noticed the individual seed pods within the puff.  She placed the picture where her heart would be.  That seemed appropriate. 
The collage was completed.  So was her tea.  
She took the collage and taped it to the mantel above the fire-place.  The mantel was directly across from where she sat on the couch. 
There she was – staring at a collage of herself – teacher, mother, daughter, wife, singer, swimmer, knitter, grand-mother, cruciverbalist, cat owner, friend, sister, student, dandelion.
Why a dandelion?  A weed.  A gardener’s nemesis.  A haven for bees.
She would have to sleep on it.  Maybe if she went to sleep visualizing this collage something would come to her in the morning. 
She headed to bed, forgoing the hot water bottle.  She purposefully didn’t turn on the radio. 

She pictured the collage:  A mother and daughter.  A poem.  A bottle of pills.  A musical note. A Dear Abby column.  An advertisement for the play  – Calendar Girls. (that wasn’t as odd as one might think – she did love to sunbathe on her deck, sans her clothes, in the summer). The puff did seem out of place, though. Why had she chosen that, and why place it where she did? 
Could she blow it all away?  Could she blow away parts of herself, and hope they take root somewhere else?
Could she?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The human and the divine

Okay, technically I am procrastinating because I have to teach tomorrow morning - but hey this excerpt is about teaching so that counts, right?  


She pulled down a book on ancient civilizations and flipped through settling on the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  She had loved teaching that story to her students.  There was something about the love those two men shared – even beyond death – that spoke to her.  

Enkidu had been raised by the animals, and was more animal that human.  Gilgamesh was a king.  Their friendship had arisen after they had fought for supremacy.  They had gone through life together having many adventures, and when Enkidu died, Gilgamesh was shattered.  Despondent, he had searched for immortality, but at every turn his  humanness had impeded his progress.  He finally realized that it is their friendship that is immortal, and that they will re-unite in the after life.  That realization does bring him some peace, and he becomes a kinder, gentler king because of his relationship with Enkidu.

She leaned her head back, rubbing her eyes, and thought about what the moral of the story was.

“Our humanness impedes our ability to be divine.” 

Is that because the divine is supposed to be just out of our reach?  Is it because we are supposed to learn in this human form  things we cannot learn in the spiritual word so that when we cross over we will understand the divine? Was Enkidu closer to the divine when he was more animal than human?  When he was one with nature? Was Gilgamesh closer to the divine once he lost his best friend?


It was just all too confusing. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Her (my) love of Yoga

Here is my latest excerpt from chapter eight.  

She thought back to her first introduction to yoga.  It was in high school and it was all about the lotus position, head stands, and for the first time she had found something she was good at in PE classes.  

She sucked at team sports, but she was flexible and excelled at yoga.
She could put both her legs over her shoulders and balance, even walk, on her hands. 
Good party trick.

She continued with her yoga practice as a young woman living in a small northern town, and would go to yoga retreats now and again as she was raising her children. 

For a time she even explored the Hindu religion and went to Satsang on Sundays.  That had been during her atheist phase, when she was looking for something to fill the hole that leaving the church had created in her.  She became a vegetarian and would sit quietly in the mornings and meditate and practice pranayama. 

It hadn’t last long.

Well, the vegetarianism had last sixteen years, but the meditation was never her thing.

She had reconnected with yoga, religiously, about eight years ago – and now it was a weekly or bi-weekly practice.  She had participated in three thirty day challenges.  Ironic, no? Three?  Thirty days?

She sometimes practiced at home, but wasn’t disciplined enough so preferred being in a class with a teacher guiding. 

Her mother had taught yoga for a time – and once they were going to go to a yoga class together.  It wasn’t to be, as the class was cancelled that day because it was a statutory holiday.  She regretted that she had never practiced beside her mother.  She would have liked that. 

She had practiced beside her husband, her son, her daughter and her sister.  She had practiced with different friends over the years.  But her mother?  No.  Not even once.

She liked all the teachers she had ever had. They were all different – the young, enthusiastic gay man with eye-liner and nail polish who would sing to them during shavasana, the incredibly handsome owner of the yoga studio who always brought a deeply spiritual meaning to each class, the hippie mom, who taught the kundalini classes, all of them. 

She had never met a yoga instructor she didn’t like.  They all had something to teach her. 

Of course she had her favourites, and followed some of them around like a groupie, looking on-line for where they would be teaching next.  But if they were not to be found she would always be satisfied with the person at the front of the room. 

She had done hot yoga (and loved it) – where she finally could get a sweat going.  She had done Yin classes, tantra classes, flow classes and restorative classes.  She had gone to beginner classes and power classes.  She liked them all.  She had toyed with the idea of taking the teacher training to become an instructor herself, but she pulled back.

She always ended up teaching something she was involved with.  She wanted to be recognized, acknowledged.  She wanted people to appreciate her. 

She had finally realized in her fifties that she didn’t have to always be the teacher.  It was okay to just be a student.

She knew she was ‘good’ at yoga.  She also knew that striving to be ‘good’ had caused her injuries now and then.
 
She liked her current teacher because she reminded them while they were practicing to check their egos and pay attention to themselves when they were being too proud as they looked around the room.


Something she was working on for sure. 

Imagine.  Her?  Being too proud.  

Ironic. No?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Yopping number 19 -Spicy!


It has been a busy week what with teaching and knitting and I am so very happy with my On the Spice Market shawl.  I wasn't sure about the red I had chosen and I started a few rows with a different red, but I ripped it back and I am delighted with the result. 


I love the wollmeise blend I am using for the main (natural) colour.  It is sooooo soft to knit with.  I know I am going to love this shawl and I already have plans for a second using the rainbow colours I bought two weeks ago from Sweet Georgia. 

I have finished the colour course, but of course now it is about practising and trying different combinations, but I feel a little more confident at the point.

Here is an update picture of my Dying of the Light shawl.  It isn't getting the attention it deserves because of the Spice Market, but I will get back to it as soon as my test knit socks are done.



And, speaking of test knit socks - one is finished and the leg pattern of the second is almost done.  I am making fraternal socks and I can show you this picture which shows you the colour without giving away any of the design secrets.


I have been working on my novel every day since Wednesday as part of the Nanowrimo challenge.  I won't add another 50,000 words to it, but I have edited five chapters and added about 1500 words so far.  I have been posting excerpts to this blog so in essence I am also participating in NaBloPoMo. 

Whew! 

I have finished teaching the grade seven class and all I have left is marking, and next week I have five lectures to give to student teachers on teaching history to grade eight students. 

It feels good to be in the classroom again.  I enjoy teaching the adults, but my heart is really with those rascally teenagers in grades six, seven and eight!

I just got home from the pool, and now I need to tackle the next chapter of my novel.  I really appreciate my readers and I love comments and try to answer them all.

Happy crafting and blogging (and reading)  to all.   

To follow other yoppers please check out their progress here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Things real or imaginary

I have been home with a headache all day and the pills and sleeping are not helping.   I did get my marking done anyways on the hope that I will feel better tomorrow and will have the day off. 

I edited another two chapters, and I am feeling good about the progress.  

Here is a short piece about my heroine's sighting of a humpback whale:

The drizzle had lifted and the waves were lapping against the seawall.  Not too many joggers or power walkers today – she sipped her soup and looked out to the sea.

The sea that was her comfort, and her solace.  And maybe, soon, it would be something else entirely. 

Or maybe not.

Something caught her eye.  She turned and saw the huge tail fluke of a whale break the surface. 

She gasped. 

“Whale”, she said to no-one in particular and no-one heard her. 

She watched as the huge fluke slapped the gray water and then disappear.  She looked around at the other diners, the waiter, but no-one else seemed to have noticed. 

Had she imagined it?  Was it calling her home?  She day-dreamed for a few minutes about following the great leviathan into that deep dark ocean.  Into the abyss.  

Now I am heading for a hot bath - here's hoping that will do the trick. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

I just wanted to say


Day three of the editing process.  This is not easy.  Not easy at all, but I am getting more comfortable with the flow of writing everyday so I can thank Nanowrimo for that.

Here is today's excerpt:



She opened the journal and smoothed the white paper with her hand.  Starting a new journal was always a momentous occasion.  She didn't want to write a to-do list.  Too mundane.

Instead she thought back to a writing exercise she had heard about once upon a time. 

Step One:  Set a timer for ten minutes. 

She at least knew how to do that on her smart phone.  Done.

Step Two:  Start writing beginning with the words “I also wanted to say....”

She picked up the pen, pressed start on the phone, took a deep breath and began:

I also wanted to say that I am sorry.  I am sorry for the hurt I have caused you and for the times I wasn't there for you because I was trying to be there for myself.  You have criticized me for being afraid of confrontation and I am.  I am afraid.  I am afraid people will leave me.  I am afraid people I love will die.  I am afraid of what will happen to those I leave behind. I am not afraid of what will happen when I die.  I believe it will be more than nothing.  I believe it will be a great adventure.  And if I am wrong, if there is nothing, it won't matter a whit.

I also wanted to say that the stupid to-do list haunts me.  I have good intentions.  I plan to do that one thing I put on the list every month, and yet every month I fail to get it done. 
It.  That. 

I also wanted to say that I hate having to take the pink and grey (grey and pink) pills, but in the past I was not strong enough, smart enough, brave enough to stop.  It all goes back to the to-do list and maybe if I succeed in stopping (maybe I will just take the grey side, or just the pink side) then the to-do list will be done once and for all. 

Maybe the pill is like the cake in Alice and Wonderland.  One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small.  So taking both pills should make you, what?  Average?  Medium?   I also wanted to tell all of them (the infamous them) that they shouldn't judge me for taking my grey and pink pills.  We all have our ways of coping.  Or not. 

She looked at the timer.  Eight minutes.  God, what was she going to say for two more minutes.   Another breath and she started again.


I also wanted to say that I am doing my best.  This is day four and despite the fucking migraine I am doing my best.  My.  Best.  
Tomorrow will be a new day.  
I will be hung over from the migraine meds, but it will be better.  
Even though it is Wednesday and even though Wednesday's child is full of woe, it will be ok.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Soul's Day

So far so good.  Day two and I am still editing my novel and blogging.

Before I share a small excerpt from chapter two of my novel, which is about All Soul's Day I have to tell you about a delightful moment in Grade Seven this morning.

One of the students is a boy from Korea.  He came up to me this morning before class and asked me if I knew the song 'Moon River'.

Well of course I did!  I remember the Andy Williams show and his rendition of the song, and I told him so.

"I can play it on the ukelele,"  he announced.

"Really?" I asked, "Do you have your ukelele here?"

Well, he did and at recess time he was at my desk, music book and ukelele in hand.

I figured he would strum the chords, but no, he picked out the melody and I began singing along.

It was so lovely.

Then he turned to another page and started to play a lullaby.

I recognized it as 'Edelweiss' from The Sound of Music and so I sang along to that and told him it came from the movie.

"Oh," he says, "I have another song I can play from The Sound of Music," and he turns the page and starts playing Doe a Deer a female deer.... so of course I sang along.

That's it.  Five minutes of pure delight with a ukelele, a student and a teacher.

He smiled broadly as he left my desk, and headed out for recess.

That moment has made me feel good all day. 

Thirteen year olds - they can surprise you!



and now for the excerpt in an entirely different mood:

Lost. 

That is such a stupid euphemism for death.  It reminded her of that line of Lady Bracknell’s from The Importance of Being Earnest. 

 ‘To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’

She still could hear the high-pitched, proper English accented voice of a grade eight student uttering that line in a school play a few years before.  It was hilarious at the time, especially when one knew the reticence of the student playing that part.

But she hadn’t ‘lost’ her parents.  She hadn’t been careless.  One had been taken by cancer, the other through illness.  She hadn’t ‘lost’ her aunt.  Alzheimer’s had stolen her away.  Her actual death was merely a date on the calendar.  She had been ‘lost’ for some time. 


People are not going to ‘lose’ her, because perhaps they never really 'had’ her to begin with. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Novel November

I am going to be blogging everyday this month.  Mostly I am doing this because I am using November and the Nanowrimo challenge to edit the novel I wrote two years ago.

It has been sitting on the shelf since last spring when I was unceremoniously kicked out of my writing group.

It was mean.  And I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt because it did.  With the help of my sister I worked through it, but then the story sat gathering dust while I dealt with more pressing issues, like my mental health.

So here it is November, and here I am making a deal with myself to write and edit a chapter a day.

I don't think I will be adding 50,000 words (which is how many words Nanowrimo is challenging me to write)  to the novel but I have some fresh ideas for opening it up a bit and I am excited about that.

So I taught this morning, then I went out for a great sushi lunch with my dh.  Dh stands for dear husband and not designated hitter, although I am waiting for the seventh game of the World Series to start.

I raked a ton of leaves, I prepped for tomorrow's teaching class and I worked on chapter one of my novel.

So now I am settling in to knit and watch baseball!

But before I go, here is a small excerpt of chapter one:

A new month.  A new day of a new month. 
That is auspicious.  Auspicious is a favourite word of a Buddhist friend of hers.  She liked the way the word rolled off her tongue.  She liked imagining what the word meant and mostly she didn’t care – it was just one of those cool sounding words. 
She gathered her shopping bags and headed out.  As she drove the familiar streets she took account of all the smashed pumpkins lying on the road.  Kids and roman candles – meaningless and harmless destruction.  She imagined them marauding the streets after dark – stealing the extinguished pumpkins from porches.  She imagined it must make them feel powerful, and maybe, afterwards, a little silly. 

Better pumpkins than cats, she thought to herself.  Whether she had left or not she had made sure the cat was in and safe for the night.  She had made sure he was safe. 

Ok, first pitch is coming up.

It is fun to watch - I don't care who wins I am just enjoying the game.

Go, Dodgers, Go!

Go, Astros, Go!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Yopping Number Eighteen - Hard to keep a secret


I have done quite a bit of knitting on my Dying of the Light Shawl, but it doesn't really look that much different from last week's picture so I will just make you wait a bit for another peek.

I have turned the heel on my test knit sock, and it is looking scrumptious, but alas, it is a test knit so, again, no picture because - secret!

I DID go shopping for yarn for my On the Spice Market shawl, and was so happy with what I came up with. 


The off white is a soft yummy wollmeise blend for the main colour and the package is for five of the spices.  I am using the red from my Iona blanket for the sixth colour and after consulting with my knitterly friends at my Thursday night knit group we have decided on this order for the colours.



I get very stressed out when choosing colours for my knits because I don't feel confident about colour rules so I bought the box of prismatic colours from Sweet Georgia Yarns and I signed up for their on-line colour course. 





I am very excited about this.  And look, I already learned about using grey scale:



(not that at this point I have any idea what this picture tells me!)

So, ya, I am not going to win any tiaras for stash busting this year because of my retail splurge last Wednesday (not to mention Knit City at the end of September, and Fibres West last March )- but I have kept true to my goal of only buying with a purpose and casting on said project soon after the purchase.  That goal has been accomplished.  Even the little mini skein of red you see in the picture will be the toe and heel of another sock test knit I am doing for a friend.

I am still teaching every morning for a few hours and I am still loving it.  The weather has been gorgeous for walking (and raking) amid the autumn leaves in the afternoons. 

I got my flu shot and pneumonia shot last Wednesday so I have been feeling a little off late in the day but I am sure it will pass soon.

November is almost upon us, and I have promised myself to work on editing my novel through the month as part of Nanowrimo.  Stay tuned - I probably will be posting excerpts on my blog throughout the process. 

To follow all the fantastic progress of my yopperly friends please visit here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Coming Clean

I have been wanting to write a non-knitting post for a while, but I keep getting waylaid.  Well, not waylaid exactly, more like I keep chickening out.  As if putting the words down will mean it is true and the truth is hard for me, for others, and I do care what others think of me.

I have been working hard on my mental health for the last six months.

I started meditating everyday.

I started taking Bio-K pro-biotics every morning (because I read an article about how depression has been linked to an imbalance of the flora and fauna of our gut, and my gut and I are not on the best of terms.)

I started seriously tackling my French lessons.

I started to learn Croatian for myself and to support my daughter who is living so very far away.

I started Lumosity brain training.

I went to my Doctor.

Who referred me to a counsellor.

Who referred me to a psychiatrist.

Who suggested group therapy.

I was referred to a group for trauma recovery.

Trauma?   Yes, trauma. 

I took the test y'all, and I passsed - with almost all of the symptoms of someone with ptsd.

In the last couple of years I have mentioned to those very very close to me that I felt like I was suffering with ptsd, but to hear it aloud, from a counsellor's mouth, that was hard.

So that is where I have been over the past ten weeks.

And it has helped.

A lot.

I don't feel as crazy.  I feel like the way I behave in certain situations has some context.

I realize I have been a product of trauma in my life for a very very very long time.

And now I have a tool-box to deal with my anxiety.



Literally, I have a tool box filled with things that help me when I am triggered.















And I also have a figurative tool box.

But back to my earlier list.

I started to get obsessed with not losing my streak in Lumosity, Meditation, French and Croatian.

It was exhausting.

I never really got the counter to work on the Croatian app.  But I did do it every day until the short course was over - yay me.

I lost the Lumosity streak first.  no biggie.

Then I lost the French one after about 230 some days.

That was hard - and the program even said I could get in back for $17.99.  Really?

(Ok, I was tempted for a bit).

The meditation one was the hardest.  Some days when I didn't feel like meditating I would put on the app and turn off the volume so it would count my day without me doing anything.

See?  I was cheating to maintain my meditations streak!   How embarrassing to admit.

But then, earlier this week I lost it for real.

And it hurt.

And then my son said - 'Mom, it is about non-attachment.' 

Duh.

So now all my streaks are gone

Except this one.

I will keep moving forward on my mental health.  I am making progress and I don't need a counter to tell me that.

And one last thing.  I have a friend who speaks Croatian.  I am going to contact her today and see if she will give me private lessons.  We can knit and talk and have tea and I will learn something new.

Without the counter.

Without the stress.

I don't need an app to tell me I am doing ok.

I know that I am getting better and doing ok.

And now?

Now I am off to teach twenty-four thirteen year olds about Copernicus and how he rattled the world by proposing something different.

I can relate.

I bet, so can they.





Sunday, October 22, 2017

Yop 17 - Ta-Da = Ta-Done

To see what my other talented yopping blogging friends are doing go here.



Well here I am on Yopping Week 17.  The blanket is done, and I couldn't be happier. It is so smooshy and the colours so vibrant.  I am extremely happy with how the gold i-cord edging sets all the colours off.


I wanted to get an artsy outdoor shot, but it has been raining buckets all week so this is the best I could do:


(notice cedar leaves on porch that need sweeping up after this week's rain and wind storms). If today's clear skies hold I will get to that chore later in the week. 

I started Knitterarium's Dying of the Light Shawl and I am very pleased with how the colours are working together.



I also began a sock test knit last night for Ruth..(aka Knitterarium)  I got a few repeats of the pattern done but I wasn't happy with the yarn choice so I restarted with the tangerine left over from the Iona blanket.  It think it will show the pattern much better.  It will be a quick knit, I think, but no pictures until the pattern is released.

I did get some mending done today - one pair of jeans needed a patch on the knee and another needed to be shortened about two inches.  It felt good to get the sewing machine out and I even repaired a small tear on a pair of dress pants as well.   While finishing my mending my eyes settled on the basket of socks that need darning - but I decided that yesterday wasn't that day!

While I was at it I reorganized my closet and got ALL my shawls on the same side of the closet so I can find the one I want when I want it.  Despite the large number already in my wardrobe I am getting ready to start On the Spice Market shawl.  A number of women in my knit group have made it and it is a fantastic pattern.  Luckily I received a gift certificate for a yarn store recently so I plan to make a trip soon to find all the yummy colours I will need.  It needs one ball of main colour and then six different contrasting colours.  I think I have at least three in my stash, but clearly a shopping trip is in order.  

On a non-knitting note it was my birthday last Tuesday and I have already been taken out for three lunches and one dinner!   I made it to the pool on my birthday and swam my age in laps plus two more for good measure.  That made an even 64 laps, or one mile.  I plan to do this every year on my birthday and I plan to live to be 105, so stay tuned!

On a sad note a woman I taught with ten years ago was shot and killed by a stray bullet in Chicago a week ago Friday.  She and her husband were heading out for the evening to meet some friends for dinner.  She was caught in the cross-fire of a drive by shooting.  I taught her niece for five years, and was horrified to see her picture come up on my facebook feed last Saturday.  It is all so senseless and leads to a feeling of despair and helplessness.  May she rest in peace always. 

But, the sun is shining at the moment, after days of torrential rain, and I have prep to do for my grade seven class tomorrow.  Life does in fact go on, it is just so hard sometimes. 

Take care of each other.  Tell your loved ones you love them.  Don't waste a moment. 

May God hold us in the palm of his hand.






Sunday, October 15, 2017

Yopping 16 - ALL about the blanket


Well I did it - I finished knitting all the squares for Iona on Tuesday and Wednesday I started to join the squares and then the strips together. 

Last night I added the final strip and then picked up all the stitches from the waste yarn so I am ready to start the edging today. 

I currently have 716 stitches on 4 circular needles (one per side) and I will knit one set-up round increasing to 744 stitches before I start the i-cord. 


I am very happy with the colours I chose and the i-cord will be in the gold colour. 

And then there will so many ends to sew in.





Other than that this week I started teaching a history block to a Grade Seven class for two hours a day, I have been driving around my courtesy car waiting on my own car to get fixed, and my dear husband returned home after spending an extra week with our son, and then six days camping his way home to me. 

The laundry is done, the groceries are in, and after I finish my school prep for next week lessons.  I will be on the i-cord train.  I am curious how much of the gold yarn the i-cord will take.  I have 76 gms left so I am confident that yarn chicken will not be in my near future. 

(Famous last words.)

Then I will start Dying of the light  that I am eager to cast-on and also a pair of Katniss socks

This monogamous knitting is too, well, monogamous for me.

To see what my other blogger/crafty friends are up to go here