Monday, November 2, 2020

Signs and Messages

It has been just over seven months since I last posted, and it's been a very difficult seven months for most of us. The coronavirus pandemic rages on, with more than 200,000 Americans dead, protests for racial justice filled the summer, and a divisive presidential campaign has dragged on for far too long. Life has become so unsettled and disheartening that I seriously considered never posting to my blog ever again.

But strangely enough, there have been signs of hope popping up around me as I do my daily walks in the neighborhood. I want to share some of them with you, in case you need a little dose of hope, too.

At first, there was encouragement without words:

Then the words popped up in expected and unexpected places:

Neighbors posted signs that gave me serious things to think about; out of those thoughts hope and change can emerge.

And now we are at the very end of a long, long election season. Many of the signs in my neighborhood have become political, and because I'm in very blue Seattle, you can probably guess which party's signs show up most often. This one was the tiniest and most unusual:

And this final sign is my message to you: no matter what your politics are, if you are in the U.S., the most important thing you can do is VOTE! 

Be safe and well; until next time.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Life on Lockdown

A lot has happened in the month since I last posted. Significanly, Leap Day was the day that life here in the Pacific Northwest started to change, and not for the better. It was the day that the first death due to Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported. It occurred just a few miles from me, in a city on the other side of Lake Washington.

Once that happened, other changes began occurring quickly. On March 5, the postponement of Vogue Knitting Live, scheduled for the following week in Bellevue. On March 11, the cancellation of the Pacific Northwest Ballet's upcoming One Thousand Pieces repertory. Shortly thereafter, all meetings and events with more than 250 people were cancelled. On March 17, restaurants, barber shops, beauty salons and other businesses were ordered to close, then last week, all but essential businesses were closed and people were ordered to "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" and to practice social distancing (staying at least six feet apart) in public spaces. The lockdown had truly begun.

Signs of the developing pandemic were everywhere.

March 6: A Deserted Grocery Store

On March 8

March 13: Stocking Up on the Day the Library Closed

March 14: It's Official

March 21: New Addition at the Park

March 27: No Playing Today (or tomorrow, or the next day...)

There have been some vestiges of normality in my life, especially on my daily neighborhood walks, where I manage to spot some signs of hope and cheer.

And of course, no matter how bad the news, there is always knitting.

Elizabeth Zimmermann must have been preparing us for this unsettled time when she wrote, "Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises." I am trying to do this, and I hope that you are, too. Stay safe and healthy, and remember to wash your hands!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Happy Leap Day!

I know, I know, I was planning on posting on the winter solstice. Then I thought New Year's, Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day... None of those days resulted in a blog post, but I have finally surfaced.

I'm going to give you a short review of the year to-date, and I'll attempt to return sometime in March with a more lengthy post.

So, what's been happening? January saw our only snowfall of the year—thank goodness we didn't get a repeat of last February! Mr. D and I took a walk up to the park and enjoyed the snowy beauty, and we also spotted an unusual sight: palm trees in the snow!

After two days, the snow was gone.

Later in January, we celebrated Chinese New Year at a party at my friend Sylvia's. She and her husband lived in Singapore for a couple years about 15 years ago, and her husband learned to cook all sorts of New Year delicacies. Welcome to the Year of the Rat!

Probably the biggest event of the year so far happened on February 7. Mr. D and I went up to Everett and attended a Fed Cup qualifier. Fed Cup is a women's tennis team competition. The U.S. team played Latvia in Everett, and we saw the first two matches: Sofia Kenin (who was fresh from winning the Australian Open) versus Anastasija Sevastova. It was a very exciting two-set match, which Kenin won. The highlight of the evening was the second match: Serena Williams versus Jelena Ostapenko. So exciting!!! Serena won in two straight tie-break sets. This was the first live tennis match that I have ever seen and I got to see a legend!

I could go on and on, but I'll just end by sharing some photos from the event:

I have been doing more then walking in the snow, celebrating Chinese New Year and watching live tennis, but I'll save that for my next post. There will be knitting, I promise!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Autumn in the Garden (with Birds)

This has been a particularly colorful autumn in the Northwest this year, due in part to a slightly cooler and wetter summer than we normally have. As a result, the Japanese maples in my garden—both tree and shrub—exploded with color:

Here is a closeup of the tree's foliage, just as it was beginning to turn:

The Japanese maples weren't the only colorful trees. I love how the Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood tree) displays yellow, green and even a bit of red foliage, while also hanging on to its summer flowers, even in November.

The cotoneaster that is right outside the dining room window also turned a bright and cheerful red, especially the berries, which made a robin very happy.

I love watching the robins, but my favorite garden visitor, by far, was this little female Anna's hummingbird, that perched for several minutes on a bare branch of the Japanese maple on a cold,  wet day last week.

Now the leaves are mostly gone, and the weather is getting colder. I'm turning more to inside pursuits, like knitting, and gearing up for the holiday season. I'll share some of those activities in my next post, which you can look for around the winter solstice.

Friday, August 30, 2019

To Post or Not to Post (And Books)

So it's been almost five months since I've posted here on the blog. I started writing a post about colorwork toward the end of May, but only wrote one sentence because I just wasn't feeling it. Since then, I've been pondering if I want to continue writing the blog. I finally decided that, at least for now, I do. With that decision made, I plan to write shorter posts highlighting my recent knitting, activities, events and travel, and to not try too hard to stick to a schedule.

So for today, I'm highlighting some of the books I've read this summer. Here goes!

Best Nonfiction Book

Wow, absolutely riveting! Carreyrou follows the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos, that promised a scientific/health advance that it couldn't deliver. It is the perfect companion piece to the podcast, The Dropout, and the HBO documentary, The Inventor. I recommend all three.

Most Fun Book

A month-by-month illustrated journal of a year the author spent in a small Connecticut village on the Long Island Sound. Her musings are focused on life, nature, clothing, village events, weather, and a variety of other topics. The illustrations and Swift's writing are delightful! Recommended!

Best Fiction Book

What a fantastic, fantastic book! 

Marlantes tells the interweaving stories of Finnish immigrants in southwest Washington state from the early years of the Twentieth Century to the 1930s. His characters are loosely based on the beings in ancient Finnish myths that were collected into The Kalevala in the 1830s. This may sound a little Lord of the Rings-ish, but the plot plays out in logging camps, farms, canneries and fishing boats, as well as during the labor struggles and strikes of the period.

If you love a good story, filled with passionate, flawed, and engaging characters, get yourself to your local indie bookstore or library and get this book. You won't be sorry.

I am fortunate to live just five minutes away from Third Place Books, where I attended Karl Marlantes' kick-off to his book tour on July 9, 2019. He is as fascinating in person as his characters are on the page.

Best Audiobook

Imagine a mixture of a sex, drugs and rock and roll memoir and the musical Jersey Boys, minus the music, and you have this novel. I loved it, and I can't imagine reading it in any other way than as an audiobook. The entire cast was fantastic, and Julia Whelan, one of my favorite narrators, tied it all together. Highly recommended!

So, what have you been reading? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

From Snow Knitting to Spring Knitting

In my last post (almost a month ago!) I promised to share some of the projects that I was working on during the February Snowpocalypse. Now that we are almost two months removed from all that snow, I have a few other projects to show you, too.

First, the snow knitting:

This is the Rowhouse Hat that I showed you in progress in the last post. I loved knitting the pattern, but I made the mistake of choosing the wrong size. It is pretty snug on me, so I will save it to give to someone with a smaller head than mine. Next time (and there will be a next time), I'll knit the medium.

I also did a bit of charity knitting during  the Snowpocalyse.

Can you guess what I was knitting?

Here is the finished project: Mother Bear #15. I gave her to the Mother Bear Project at Stitches West in late February.

Another snow knitting project were these Woodacres Mittens. They were put to good use almost immediately, because even though the snow stopped falling, it stayed cold for several weeks.

The cold made for good knitting weather, so I cast on a shawl, some socks and a cowl.

My Aloft Shawlette has not made much progress beyond what you see here, but I anticipate that I will be picking it up again soon.

The socks are the Shell Cottage Socks, the first pattern in Helen Stewart's second year of the Handmade Sock Society. I knit four of the six patterns from the first year, and they are among my favorite socks ever; so pretty and they fit so well! I photographed the socks a few days ago with the project bag that Mr. D gave me for my birthday. It depicts the bridges and skyline along the Mississippi River in my hometown of Minneapolis. 

Finally, the cowl. I knit the Bluet Cowl for the second time (the first one was a gift), in a gorgeous purple yarn that I got in Colorado almost four years ago. High time that I knit with it, don't you think? 

I have other projects still on the needles, but with a road trip and the NoCKRs retreat coming up, I expect that some of those projects will be finished shortly.

I'll leave you with a little hint of one of those projects, but the reveal will have to wait...

Thursday, March 7, 2019

And it Snowed, and it Snowed and it Snowed...

My last post was of the "isn't the snow pretty" variety, but that got old pretty quickly. Between February 3rd (the snowstorm shown in the last post) and February 12th we had four, count 'em, FOUR snowstorms roll through the Puget Sound region.

At first it was fun. Mr. D and I went snowshoeing:

We went for walks to  the post office with a side trip to a cafe, wearing our Yaktrax on our feet.

As the temperature dropped, we observed ice in its various forms and locations:

But mostly, we just watched as the snow just kept coming down, and then cleaned up when it was all over.

There was one benefit from being snowed in for more than a week: lots of knitting time. Here's a sneak peek at one of the projects I worked on, and I'll be back with some of my snow knitting projects (and others) very soon.