Archive for May, 2012

Unlocking the Precious

The kids’ lack of proper sun protection caught me off guard this year.  All day Sunday was spent under the rays, without the slightest bit of brim to shield those delicate heads.  Better fix that quick.  With little ado, I found the perfect pattern, the Bucket Hat from the Oliver + S book Little Things to Sew.  As for fabric, I decided that the time was right to break into the collection of Heather Ross’ Far Far Away that I had carefully squirreled away.  And what a lot of fabric I have from the collection!  It ain’t getting any fresher, I realized and these kids will outgrow the sweet illustrations before I blink my eyes.  With that in mind, I vowed to sew up as much of it as I can this summer.  We’ll see how that goes.  To that end, these hats were a good start.

The sentiment of letting go of the precious must have resonated deeply within me this week.  Also broken free from it’s cage was the delightful child-size accordion found at a garage sale a few years ago.  It’s out in the open now, set loose and enjoying the wee hands who play it with abandon.  Why I didn’t do that sooner, I don’t know; our days are now punctuated by the most lively impromptu music.

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Please put away the Slip ‘n Slide after each use.

Or else.

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Mister Munson

Munson-in-film exists only at arm’s length or closer; there shall exist no shots of him from any real distance from the camera because once your presence is detected, he’s at your side in a flash.  Steady, true Munson.  He’s a dear.  95% of his time is spent as a sheep, with the sheep on pasture, learning to graze.  In the slim 5% margin left, he’s at our side – drinking from the bottle, assisting Daddio in his garage workshop, climbing the trailers with the kids, or poking through the garden with Momma.  We’re so glad he’s here, despite his sad entry into our home. But now that he is, we’ve integrated him nicely into the workings of the farm, and we’ve discovered some interesting possibilities as well.  We’re a 4-H family now, gleefully, and we’ve just received our book of entry possibilities for the summer fair.  One entry in particular has gotten our attention:  The Class U Sheep Costume Class, which involves adorning a sheep in a costume.  I know I haven’t properly represented our collective love for creative costumes in this blog space, save for our yearly cowboy/square dance attire at the Sugar Maple Music Fest, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that we get into making costumes in a big way.  That we can apply that creativity to a sheep and then parade it around the show ring at the county fair?  Oh. Can’t tell you how it’s begun to capture our imagination.  Can’t even begin.  Stay tuned to this one, folks.  The outcome is quite promising.

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I was intrigued by MommyCoddle’s call for folks to join her in her Guerrilla Goodness project, so I promptly responded with a quick email to jump on board.  The premise: those participating will receive a card in the mail with a prompt to initiate some kind of random act of kindness and report back on the results.  What I haven’t done promptly is distill the results into type form.  Ruminating is what I’ve been doing instead.  Ruminating and healing.


I answered the call of civic duty in the most interest-appropriate way I could think of, by becoming a trustee on our local library board.  That library was instrumental to settling into this new town five years ago.  It’s a critical part of my parenting; working through a stack of fresh library books with the Boy and Girl on my lap is about the only time I feel like I’m hitting it out of the park as a Momma.  Indeed, getting a library card has become a right of passage in this small family.  Serving on the board that advises and to a very limited extent, governs it, seemed like a natural extension of that love and appreciation.  And it was an exciting time to do so, I realized, as plans to move and expand the library into a sparkly-new space were in the infant stages.  That I could be an instrumental part of this process was an exhilarating prospect.

But the wheels fell off.  Plans were unveiled amidst secrecy and unknowns and big dollar signs, with the trustees of the library board among those completely in the dark.  I chalk it up to the noxious cloud of POLARIZATION that’s been hovering over the entire state of Wisconsin for the last year and a half, pitting otherwise-cordial neighbors against each other.  (my phone is ringing at this very moment with a call originating in Washington D.C. to instruct me how to vote in our upcoming Recall election) Our air is filthy with this hostility.  It’s no real surprise, then, that this mentality of all-or-nothing and black-or-white dug its claws into this project to redevelop our downtown.  Those who claimed undying love for the library were adamantly against the project, despite its goal of a bigger, new library facility.  Those who were promoting the plan, come hell or high water, were using the library as the linchpin to sell it.    Meetings were held, voices were raised, blood pressures ran amok.  Resignations were tendered; those still in position were undeniably exhausted.

I received my Guerrilla Goodness card in the mail from MommyCoddle amidst all of this.  Were you present in the room when I tore open the envelope, you would have seen my face fall as I read the instructions to “pay the toll of the car behind you” or “pay a stranger’s parking meter.”  We are blessedly short of tollways in Wisconsin.  And parking’s pretty darn cheap too – the vast majority of it is free.  This was the card I absolutely did not want to get.  (they were dispersed randomly, so I have only Chance to thank)  I grumbled for a few days until the notion of modifying it came to mind.

I walked into the library soon after and struck up a conversation with the librarian.  “I have this project I’m participating in…” and wondered aloud if it might be feasible to pay someone’s library fines.  Why yes, she said, so-and-so just came in earlier today and was heartbroken that the outstanding fines on his card prevented him from checking anything out. (those overdue dvds add up quickly – caution!) Perfect, I said, and wrote out a check on the spot.  I wanted it to be anonymous; (cough…as anonymous as performing a good deed and then BLOGGING about it will allow) I didn’t want to gain any recognition for this, but if I look deep within, I see that this act wasn’t nearly as unselfish as I thought.

I did this purely for me.  I had lost the wonder and the warmth of the library and needed it back.  I needed to remember what I was fighting for, in this ideological nonsense battle that was dragging me down.  I needed to shift my perspective and to find a way to get a breath of fresh air amidst all of the pollution.  It’s about books, folks.  About new ideas, different ways of seeing the world, the opening up of one’s self that inherently comes with turning the pages of a book.  It’s about community – this is the physical space in our village where the heartbeat lives, the how-do-you-do and what’s-new-with-you and how-are-you-coming-along-since-that-happened conversations that take place here in the library more frequently than any other place in town.

Can a simple act of random kindness begin to purify the toxic atmosphere we’ve created here?  I’d guess not, but it can’t hurt.  A few deep breaths never hurt anyone.

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I had no idea it was such a knitting hotbed.

I’ll be honest.  As soon as we decided on Portland, ME as our travel destination, I high-tailed it over to SouleMama to start compiling a list of must-sees.  A fiber shop (KnitWit), another fiber shop (Purl Diva), a fabric shop (Alewives) was an itinerary that prompted me to pack light, leaving room in the suitcase for tactile ‘souvenirs.’  That I would be able to touch one of my very favorite yarns (Quince & Co.) in the flesh at the only two retail locations to carry them was an added bonus.  These were my expectations.

What I wasn’t expecting was to pop into KnitWit during their Friday Night knitting group.  Of course I had my knitting with me; a quick redirecting of The Mister opened up a window of time for me to sit in on the group and soak up some social knitting time.  “So you come to Portland to celebrate your anniversary and one of the first things you do is ditch your husband for some knitting?” one asked me.  Yep.  I guess so.  Perhaps part of a successful marriage is breaking off a bit to replenish the individual.  Buy that?  Hee.  As the conversation evolved, I learned that several of the women there were professional pattern designers/editors.  The name of the woman who designed the pattern I happened to be knitting that moment was thrown around enough to give me a sense of her steady presence in the area as well, though she wasn’t present that night.  Wowee.  I had no idea there was such a hotbed of knitting genius in Portland.  Wowee.

Portland is a place where you can knit in a bar.  (I tell you this vacation was stellar.)  It’s also the kind of place where doing so is likely to land you a friendly conversation with a fellow knitter and a new Ravelry friend.  “You knitters…” Andrew said as he shook his head in disbelief as we exchanged Ravelry handles.  Yeah.  Us knitters, indeed.  I expected to walk away with some new skeins of wool.  I had no idea I’d also come away with such camaraderie, though it should come as no surprise, really.  My home knitting group would be just as welcoming, I have no doubt.  It’s how we fiber folks roll.

Can you imagine, then, how strangely exciting it was to walk into a different fiber shop (Purl Diva) the next day, spy an intricate shawl so lovely it made me gasp, only to learn that the pattern was designed by one of the fantastic women met the previous day?  Of course I left with enough skeins of linen to work up my own. Wouldn’t you?

Having drunk my fill of fiber, I moved on to fabric.  The theme of the weekend, it seemed, was ‘touch in the flesh that which you’ve only ever seen on the computer screen.’  Yes, I was a little star-struck when I saw, then caressed this ubiquitous Nani Iro double gauze.  I bought the biggest piece I thought I could manage without prompting a divorce.  Or enough to make a shirt, at least.  And then I pointed out how much I was saving by not having to pay shipping.  Ahem.  The lavender/grey and white polka dot cushioning my new yarn (two photos up) was another shirt-size score.

Would you mind if I holed up for a week and pounded out some sewn/knitted garments?  I’m asking YOU, Captain Daddio.  Smooch.

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Portland, Maine

We traveled to Portland, ME this past weekend to mark our 10th year of wedded partnership.  (we didn’t make it 10 years by glossing it over as wedded bliss) The kids were left at home as we set off on a mostly-open-ended trip.  There need be good food, good beer, good knitting.  The rest – ah, well… the rest will be gravy.  Delicious lobster gravy.

We were thoroughly satisfied on all accounts, especially with the “gravy.”

More to come.

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