Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Purposeful progress....

As we work (or not, as the case may be) through this lock down, I am reminded of the need to have purposeful activity. Day 3 of my 27 day writing exercise was a poem about saving an ant. Well, I have too many ants and more than a dozen ant traps in the house to have any sympathy with saving the life of one ant.

No, my purposeful activity has been to water the seedlings that have started to sprout from the seeds I ordered in April. I know I'm a little late to hope that any of these will bear fruit in August, but I can't see them wither away either, because the timing is all wrong.

Nothing says hope and promise like a sprouted seed. This is the beginning of life. OK, plant life, but it is still life and the perfect analogy to life, in all its many forms. It is, with this hope and this analogy in mind, that I water these seedlings every morning.

They may never go outside. I may just have these vegetable plants on my windowsill all summer, fall and winter. Why not? I have started something and I plan to see it through. We have to move beyond the present at times and look into the future. This is not to waste away the days, at hand, but simply to find a way through the "tough bits," to find a reason, however, simple to carry on.

Now, it may only take me ten minutes or so to water the trays, but I can look at them during the day and everyday there is something different to look at. So what do I do with the other 14 hours and 50 minutes, that I have left in the day? You had to ask, didn't you. Well, I have now written about the seedlings. I did listen to the podcast about the writing idea and I did do 15 minutes of writing - longhand - before I came up with this post.

The rest of the day was survival - a little cooking, no cleaning - but I thought about it, lots of looking out of windows for a change in the weather, a flutter of bird life or a return to life of the flowers that were ill prepared for three days of snow in May. Clearly, I don't need a lot of stimuli to function. My heart goes out to all those children with boundless energy, who are shut in, to the parents and caregivers, who have to cope and to the many others, who have not found a purposeful activity.

Have a focused day!

Saturday, May 09, 2020

This is the wrath of God.....

.....snow in May. He is angry - very angry. OK, I'm not much of a believer, but there are times when I feel that the cosmos is trying to tell us something. Mute nature, finds ways of communicating. Time to listen to the snowflakes.

Poets have been trying to tell us for years, that we are worshiping the almighty dollar instead of worshipping the Almighty or Nature or something like that -

From William Wordsworth - 1807

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; -
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Perhaps this pandemic is a wake up call. Probably not. We didn't learn much from the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people.

Too many have not observed the lock down. Too many places are opening too soon. For profit care had the greatest number of fatalities. The list goes on....We need to change.

From Gerard Manley Hopkins - 1877

...........Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

What to do? Turn back, where we can. Go back to walking, cycling; go back to locally produced products, local communities, stay home, foster what is within your reach. Research, support truth, start leading rather than following. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Pictures for a snowy day in May. Stay safe, well and warm!!

Monday, May 04, 2020

Curbside Curtsies......

During the shut down for this pandemic, retail has "kept a light on" by doing curb-side pick up, as well as, shipping out and deliveries. I have ordered a few things on-line and specified curb-side pick up. Well, spell checker decided to change "curbside" to "curtsied." I'm not sure why. I thought it was just me, until the other day, I saw a post on FB from a Toronto blog I follow. They had listed one of the ways you could collect your on-line order, as "curtsied" pick up. Eureka! It wasn't just me!!

Now, who should be doing the curtsying? I might, but I'm inside the car, with the trunk open. The store employee is too busy running my order out to me, that it wouldn't make sense. Plus they are at the back of the car, in jeans and a mask. Somehow the grace of a curtsy would be completely lost, especially if the curb-sider were male. Sigh!

Alas, ordering on-line, even without the curtsy, has its drawbacks. I tried to order garden soil from a nursery only to be told, in a note on-line, that soil was not available at my chosen location. Well, I saw it there, yesterday. I called the store and had soil added to my order. I curtsied on the other end of the phone.

I tried to order wood stain at another store. I found the stain, but it had to be tinted. However, there was no way of adding the colour of tint to the stain, on-line. I did not curtsy. Plus I had several other items to order including "fairy lights" (it's an English thing) for the apple tree. Maybe no midsummer dancing and curtsying this year in the garden. I also needed to buy spray paint for my garden ornaments - twelve wooden cats - they needed to be "refreshed." Again maybe not this year. Anyway, I've never seen a cat curtsy, a dog, yes, but a cat, never.

The pictures? My cat ornaments, plus the real life model. I bow to cats :)

Have a fulfilling day!

PS - May the fourth be with you!

Saturday, May 02, 2020

The Darkling Thrush......

It's a phrase that was written a long time ago in a newspaper one Spring and it caught the attention of the staff room on a giddy day in early May. The complete phrase is :

"In Spring, nothing looks more like a clump of earth than the Darkling Thrush.." or something like that.

It took on a life of it's own and throughout the day it became...

The Darkling Thrust - when the VP in charge of staff poked his nose into the staff room and frowned.

The Darkling Rusk - when someone's toast was overdone.

The Darkling Gust - when a chilly wind blew in through an open window.

The Darkling Lust - yes, there was always the weird one salivating in the corner.

The Darkling Musk - to the teacher who always wore too much scent.

And so it went, here and there, now and then, a clever punster would resurrect the phrase to peals of laughter. Such is the headiness of Spring, when we are finally released from months of hunkering down in the darkness, waiting for a time when we can revel in the lushness of green, the warmth of air, the scent of earth and the trill of birdsong. Come clumps of earth and morph into thrushes, rushes, ruses or fuses that through the green leaves drive the flowers.

My staff room story is a moment in time I want to remember. I also want to remember the Spring of this pandemic. How the easing of the lockdown has sent waves of hope through those prisoned in tiny rooms, afraid to go out, terrified of catching, what could be a coughing death. Has IT "passed over"? Are we safe to open our doors?

I also want to remember the animals that came out of hiding, when we were in our hiding. I want to remember a boardwalk with a foxes' den under it. I want to remember all the stories of all the animals that walked fearlessly through city streets and parks, empty of people.

I, also, want to remember the birds in the garden - so many more than we have ever had in the past - blue jays, cardinals, robins, chick-a-dees, house finches, yellow finches, juncos, sparrows - several different kinds and one that we may have wrongly identified as a hermit thrush - perhaps the original darkling thrush.

An engineer once told me that, if you were to give nature 50 years, it would take over all this development and return it to forest - how about 5 weeks?

Bring on The Sparkling Rush!!

Have a Spring Day

Thursday, April 30, 2020


OK, it's starting to get to me. Can't go outside - it's raining. I've cleaned the bathroom - there's nothing left to clean. Well, maybe there is, but I'm not doing it today. Yes, I have knitting to do and several books to read, but I'm climbing the walls. This is where it really gets "silly."

I posted parallel poems to a poem by William Carlos Williams - The Red Wheelbarrow - in my last post and found some old pictures. OK. I like looking at pictures. So I decided to find another short poem and do some more imitations - with pictures. Here it(they) is(are).

From Ogden Nash

The Cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other milk.

From me:

The Pig

The pig is of the porcine kind;
One end is oink, the other rind.

Bacon anyone?

The Snake

The snake is on the elapine list;
One end is rattle, the other hisss..t

Well, you get the idea.

I can't believe I came that close to even take a picture.

The Horse

The horse is in the equine group;
One end is neigh, the other poop.

Well, I think it's time to go :)

Have a poetic day!

So much depends upon.....

The title of this post is the opening line of a poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow," by William Carlos Williams. It came to mind the other day when I saw the same line under a picture in one of our Toronto newspapers, either the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star. We get both - it's all about the crossword puzzles :)

Here's the poem.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The newspaper imitated the poem under a picture of a closed park, because of this pandemic. I would often take a small poem and have students imitate it in their own words. Here are some pictures and my imitations.

The Pink Flamingo

so much depends

a pink plastic

hung in winter

beside the grey

The Red Tulips

so much depends

ten red

accented with yellow

beside the white

The White Mountains

so much depends

white marble

misted in soft

beside the small

That's it! My poetry contributions for the day, inspired by a picture in the newspaper. We take our muses where we find them. They are not completely accurate imitations. There are too many syllables  in some places and the wrong parts of speech here and there. These days there is little discipline.

Have an amazing day.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Busy-ness..... Gardening

If it ever warms up.

Inside gardening....

April has been a cold month. A week or more of days under 5ºC can set a garden back a fortnight. (I still read Dickens.) On the one hand, I like the fact that the cold weather has helped people stay in and keep their distance, on the other hand, I hate that I can't get the beds ready for planting.

In mid April, I bought seeds on-line from Stokes, because I thought bedding plants would be scarce, if the lock down continued into June. I do know I cannot go a summer without growing something. Hence, (I look for opportunities to use this word) I ordered seeds online - tomato, cucumber, egg plant and zucchini. They took a long time to arrive and I knew I was behind the 8-ball, when the directions suggested starting the seeds indoors in January or early February. We shall overcome!!

Anyway, I had been saving all these empty egg cartons and styrofoam meat trays since March. I also now had seed packets with interesting names, such as, Patio Baby (egg plant), Everglade (zucchini) and Sub-Arctic (tomato), well, it could be a very cold Spring.......and I needed to plant something, so I spent the day starting my seedlings indoors. I'll let you know if anything sprouts.

Outside gardening....

Yesterday, it warmed up enough to venture into the garden. I had a project in mind - I needed a raised bed for strawberries. I had already bought the frame a week or two earlier, on-line, from Home Depot. It was now time to assemble it. The instructions said - "Easy to put together - Assembles in minutes." Several hours later we finally had a 4' x 4' x 1' grey plastic frame to hold soil for a raised flower bed. Now, of course, it had to be filled. At this point, my husband disappeared - go figure. So, it was that I, in my twilight years, filled 9 wheelbarrows full of compost from one of our compost bins and trucked them halfway down the garden to fill the raised bed. Never say never!! I now have a patch of 10 strawberry plants 1 foot off the ground and my fingers crossed.


Well, yes, gardening in some areas is also a kind of sport. Today the score is Squirrels - 6. Homeowners - 2. Now that would be daffodil flowers heads - why they can't just eat the bulbs and die, is beyond me. The pansy score is a little better, for the moment. Squirrels 2. Homeowners 34 - yeah!! Well, without baseball, you sort of go to bat where you can and believe me, if I could catch them, I'd beat the daffodils out of them - just sayin'

Have a safe day - we're all going a little strange - that's my excuse.


I try keeping busy. I do a little cleaning, a little cooking, a little gardening and these days a little knitting. It fills the time, gives me a sense of accomplishment, a full stomach, a somewhat clean house and more sweaters than I will ever wear in a life time!!

Still by the fifth week of doing all this busy-ness, it gets a little boring. I need to use the creative muscle a bit more. Well, believe me, I don't get very creative about cleaning, but I can, when pushed create some interesting meals or make the mundane meals a little more interesting and I can definitely push the limits on gardening.


I think I've mentioned that we've recruited our youngest to make pizza from scratch every Saturday night. He's a Gordon Ramsey devotee and can make pizza dough without a measuring cup!! This, in itself, is a miracle. The only drawback, in the process, is that he takes pictures every step of the way, for Instagram posts. What might be a prep. time of an hour or two is now an hour or four!! Fortunately, he gets up about 3:00pm in the afternoon (I know, when was the last time you were able to stay up past midnight.) and we get him started on dinner, then or we'd be eating at midnight!

In the meantime, I have resurrected four French Onion Soup bowls that I bought at Kitchen Plus for $15.00 - for the set!! I've used them once, because it took me all day one October to make the soup. The accountant in me says, that would be about $4.50 per serving, not counting the cost of the stock, onions, bread and cheese, sigh.

Fortunately, I decided to use them again this week for what started out as a tortiere and ended up as shepherd's pie, because I decided to use tomato and mashed potatoes instead of pastry - down to $2.25 per serving. Plus I could use up some stale hamburger buns, because there wasn't enough filling to properly fill the bowls and mashed potatoes look silly somewhere in the middle of a soup bowl. The hamburger buns (half of one per bowl) filled the bottom of the soup bowls, soaked up the liquid and did a great french imitation of a sloppy Joe. I thought I could do a cute translation for sloppy Joe, until I found out that I had a choice of three french words for sloppy - negligeé, débraillé or per soigné. Now to decide which one goes with Josef. Clearly this needs another post.

The soup bowls were a hit, so much so that I am making chicken and biscuits tonight and serving it in the individual bowls. I should clean out my "china" cabinet more often!

Gardening - next post.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Another pandemic moment...

What to do when there is nothing to do. Or how to fill your time with nothing. We had Easter dinner on Friday. It's a tradition. We then eat turkey all weekend. Tonight I will make turkey a la king. The question is what to pour it over. Normally it would be egg noodles, but since we are low on egg noodles - 1/4 of a bag, we have to get inventive. "What do we have," asked my husband. " I don't know. I don't do the shopping."

Whereupon, he went to the cupboard and produced -

2 full bags of spaghettini
1 full bag of spaghetti
2 full bags of penne and a small 1/4 bag, also of penne
1/2 a bag of macaroni - someone is not making home made KD
1/2 a bag of orzo
1 full bag of rice noodles - someone is not making Pho
1 full canister of rice
1/2 a canister of both spaghettini and spaghetti mixed together - who did this?

I did not mention that we also had 1/2 a bag of short grain rice and 3/4 of a bag of brown rice. We also eat potatoes, couscous, polenta.....etc. Obviously we have enough starch in our house to stiffen the upper lip :)

So in this virus void, I can now meditate on why we have so much pasta. Make a plan to use it up and maybe think in terms of using up some of the other starches as well. I could make a turkey pho tomorrow and use up the rice noodles, since we've found a recipe on-line that uses some ingredients we have. The rest, we'll just have to fake!

I think I'll have to give my husband another guideline when shopping. Right now he's obviously using, "When in doubt buy pasta." How about, "When in doubt buy Lysol." (If you can find it!)

Have a productive day.

PS. Did I mention the beans, both dried and canned - OMG!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Pandemic vs Pendemic

OK, I'm writing much more and will probably be writing even more. I've joined a free 27 day writing group. We are sent a writing challenge every day for 27 days and must write (by hand) for 15 minutes on a stimulus we are given. Today it was to remember something from this pandemic. Here's mine.

I want to remember the togetherness. The way four people, in a 7 room house lived and worked together for weeks and weeks and weeks. We stayed away from each other and came together as needed - imagine a very slow dance. My husband and son ordering food on-line was a time of togetherness. My son helping me cook, stirring, mincing, chatting was more time together. Why both kids didn't show up for dinner until dessert, was probably their time away.

I want to remember my daughter sitting at the picnic table in brilliant sunshine and 10ºC working on her computer. I could see her from the window and I thought she was crying. Had she lost her job? Had a friend been diagnosed? Later we learned that she, in fact, had not lost her job, but that her job had changed from swimming instructor to IT expert on Zoom. She could not be in the pool, but she could be on-line helping teachers and grade one students get up to speed on Zoom. She wasn't crying, she was laughing at the six-year-old, who was rolling on the floor, instead of watching the lesson on the screen.

I also want to remember the bananas!! About a week ago neighbours had received their first on-line order. There are always surprises. Sometimes you get what you ordered and sometimes you don't and sometimes you get some real surprises. They had ordered 4 bananas and got 4 bags of bananas. They called. Could we use some bananas? Well, we go through a dozen bananas every two days. Yes, we could!

Yesterday, we got our first on-line order. We ordered and were shipped 8 bananas. However, we already had 5 bananas. We called our neighbours. Could they use some bananas? Well, apparently her husband had gone out for fruit and had forgotten bananas. Yes they could take 6. We may all end up a little bananas, when this is all over.

Have a day with appeal :)

On how I complicate my life.......

Really my life should be very simple. I'm retired - sort of. I'm not a doctor. I don't have to make life and death decisions. I don't have to count ventilators or keep people out of parks. All I have to do is cook, clean and craft. I don't even have to feed the cat - the kids do that. So why can't I just keep it simple, you know KISS.

Well, I really think that I am actually keeping it (life) simple and then the gremlins come in and make it very complicated. Here's what I mean.

1. The other day my husband decided to refresh the Forsythia we had brought in for forcing the week before. He was heading out to cut a few more twigs, when I said, "Wait a minute there are a few very long branches that need to be pruned from the bush. Why don't you take the bigger clippers and cut off one of the limbs, then we can use the twigs at the end of the branch for forcing?"

This is where it got complicated. The limb didn't come down with one cut. It needed several and each piece needed to be pulled from the tangle individually. Eventually, there was just one piece left. However, it refused to yield. In fact, we all tried to pull it down, only to fail miserably. Finally, my son climbed onto a wooden flower box to give the limb one last yank. Well, you guessed it. The flower box collapsed; my son landed in a nearby flower bed and the branch, undisturbed, remained in the tree. Alas!

At this point, I decided that, really, clipping a few twigs would have been a much simpler idea. Now we have to dismantle the broken flower box, remove the soil and decide what to put at the edge of the deck to stop more people from falling into the flower bed. Sigh!

The complications, however, did not stop there. Here is another one.

2. The other night about 4:00am a car alarm sounded outside on the street a few houses east of us. It woke us up. Someone would hear it, go outside and turn it off, I thought. No one did. It beeped on..and on..and on. Then it would stop for a second or two and start up again. I tried sleeping through it. Maybe I did for a while or maybe I just thought I did. Anyway at about 7:00am, I finally got up and decided to help everyone out by calling the police. I called their non-emergency number or at least I thought I was calling their non-emergency number.

Here is the back story. We have a list of phone numbers on our fridge, mainly the numbers of people our kids might hang out with, in case we needed to call. Plus the non-emergency number of the police. Well, somehow we mixed up the number of the parents of a friend of my eldest and the police's number. We found this out about eight or nine years ago, when our youngest was overdue home one very cold night in January and we called the police to see if they had found anyone in a snowbank.

You guessed it. At two in the morning, we had actually called the home of my son's friend's parents (is this complicated enough). They recognized our name and called their son, who was now married and in his own home. Our friend called our eldest in the morning and he contacted us. "What was going on?" To make a long story short, everything worked out OK and we were forgiven. I took the parent's number off the list and said this will never happen again.

Well, it did, because I hadn't realized that the numbers had been switched and the number beside the police was actually the parent's number. I had in fact deleted the police's number, not the parent's number some eight years ago. So when I called the police at seven in the morning, I actually called the parents. They recognized our name. They called their son, who called our eldest, now in Calgary, at the equivalent of 6:00 am. He called us at 8:00am. Oh God, how I hate caller ID. We called them later and apologized and erased their number, again. There's something to be said about updating lists every year or so, rather then every decade.

I finally did get through to the police, however, who said it wasn't a police matter and referred me to the city. I called 311 and was told that during the pandemic, they weren't dealing with this sort of thing. My answer to them was, "What if there's a dead body in the car?" He laughed.

I'm waiting to have him laugh on the other side of his face, because, it's been two weeks now and the car is still there. It doesn't have a parking permit, so it is not owned by anyone on the street. We believe it is an abandoned car and yes, there may still be a dead body inside.

I have no intention of calling the police or the city again.

Oh, and did I mention that my husband woke up with a pinched nerve in his back, because of the stress of the car alarm and was in excruciating pain for several days. Not exactly a dead body, but not exactly capable of doing anything either.

Have a quiet day!!

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Today we have making of masks....

OK, I started yesterday, but finished to-day. In fact about a week ago, I decided to make several face masks with material left over from a cushion I had made several years ago. I would normally not panic and wear a mask and/or gloves, but there have been too many articles in the paper lately showing that this pandemic has been slowed somewhat in countries where people were ordered to wear ordinary face masks. I decided to comply - but it wasn't easy. Here's what happened:

1. I went on YouTube and found a few sites with instructions on making your basic cloth mask. I had to watch, or partially watch, several videos because I either couldn't stand the voice of the instructor, the instructions were too complicated, the lighting was poor, the background noise distracting etc..etc... Finally I found a lovely person, who explained the making of a very simple mask, in a friendly down to earth way. She had normal nails, a normal, relaxed voice and tended to estimate rather than measure exactly. I loved her!! Here she is

2. However, she used a piece of flannel, as an insert. I had no flannel. Instead, I decided to use a piece of felt, of which I have about 1,000. I cut out twelve 7" x 9" pieces of fabric from my newly washed, not yet ironed length of cotton and a smaller insert of the felt. Everything worked well until the pleating part. The felt was too heavy to pleat. Sigh!

3. I then tried making just a round disc - no pleats. It didn't work either - too many gaps. My husband suggested a short flat piece with no pleats. It still didn't work. Plus it was too difficult to breathe through the felt. I would have suffocated, before I died of the virus :)

4. Finally I ditched the idea of the felt, since my son convinced me that my simple cotton mask would pass the flame test. That is, if you can't blow out a match by blowing through your mask, then it's fairly disease resistant or something like that.

5. I now had enough fabric for four masks, which I lined with some white cotton for extra measure.

6. However, I didn't have any elastic and going to the dollar store, possibly picking up the virus in an attempt to make something to protect myself from the virus seemed too ironic. I decided to crochet eight 7" chains, which had some give and use them as ear loops. So far they are working.

7. Although, I might not have had elastic, I did have pipe cleaners, so I put a folded pipe cleaner in the top seam of the mask for shaping and it works.

I must apologize for the pattern on the fabric, it looks a little like droplets or virus molecules. Irony is never too far away.

Also, apparently, I am not finished yet. My son suggested adding an initial to each mask, for each person in the house. The Devil's work is never done.

The title of the post is a nod to a favourite poem of mine - Today We Have Naming of Parts. It's a war poem - go figure!

Naming of Parts
Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call is easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have the naming of parts. 
Have an accomplished day!!

Friday, January 31, 2020

I have seen the light....

......I am constantly affected by the quality of light. Sunlight, to quote John Denver, always makes me high. I find dimly lit rooms depressing, harsh lights, irritating and neon of any description, unless it's Hollywood, soul destroying.  On the other hand, lovely windows, filled with light have a certain ethereal quality. They restore the spirit, soften the mind and redeem the soul.

Our writing word for today is "opaque" - not able to been seen through. To me opaque also means the absence of light. If you can't see through something, but it allows light in, than it is translucent. I often don't mind, if I can't see out of a window, as long as it admits light. I don't need a transparent world, but I do need a translucent one.

I should then dislike the word, opaque. Ironically, I don't. It rhymes with "cake." What's not to love. Seriously, though, it's not so much the meaning of the word, that I like, it's the arrangement of the letters. Can I really say that I like words that start with an "o" or that have a "qu", without seeming too "queer." :)

As a wordsmith, I think I can like a word for its meaning, as well as, its arrangement of letters. Onomatopoeia, for example, is a favourite, as is pique. I could go on, but only another wordsmith would understand my obsession.

Let's just say that words bring us from the darkness into the light. They can pierce the opaque, explain the obtuse and generally, delight, as well as, enlighten the mind.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen.

The pictures? Studies in light.

Have a brilliant day!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

In your beginning is your end....

I love oxymorons - phrases that seem to be contradictions, such as "less is more" or "more is less." Our writing word for today is "birthday." I immediately thought of the title of this post. With all the joy of coming into this world, there is the sad fact that you will leave it at some point.

On the positive side, however, by being born you get to explore the following:

1. You have inherited a sun sign. It might not be a great road map, but it could give you some clues, as to directions that might be taken, at critical points, along the way. Yogi Berra, for example, had a great sense of direction, he often said,  "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." or "Nobody goes there any more, it's too crowded." These are also borderline oxymorons - yes, life is a conundrum.

2. You have been given body parts that determine whether you are male or female. Your own idea of whether you consider yourself male, female, either or neither is up to you. At your birth, however, you were assigned a biological identity. This is not a social identity. The latter, will come later, once you're socialized :)

3. You have been given a culture, possibly a religion, and most certainly a nationality. Some of these you will change as you journey along. For example, I consider myself an Irish Italian with German roots. Raised by German grandparents, I ate rye bread and black pudding sandwiches, to the embarrassment of my Irish grandmother, who reminded all of us - there were 19 cousins - on a regular basis that we were Irish and could, therefore, fight with the best of them. How I came to love pasta is a mystery.

4. With your culture and nationality you will learn a language, possibly several languages. You may, in fact, go on to learn many more. You may, even, invent your own language or choose not to use language at all. Personally, I lean toward the invented language. I use the word spreckles from time to time. It's a cross between sparkles and freckles, as in, "The sunlight speckled the water."

5. Finally, for this post anyway, you will develop certain dominant characteristics. You will be either outgoing or retiring, emotional or cerebral, factual or intuitive, structured or flexible. These are the Myer-Briggs personality types. I am actually retiring, cerebral, intuitive and flexible. That is, I never like to make plans too far ahead. I hate being bound by commitments, especially on a day when I just want to explore something unplanned and intuitive, always alone - people are distracting....oh, and did I mention I have trouble with empathy, unless you're a cat, of course, you're on your own :)

Sunday, January 12, 2020


I'm back to coupled writing! After a break for the holidays, my writing partner and I have again begun giving each other words for posts. My word is "conundrum," taken from the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers - more on the book later.

I love conundrum. It sounds like the bumbling fools we are, when we're trying to work out the answer to a problem. In fact, I was faced with a number of conundra (It also has Latin roots - what's not to love.) over the last few weeks. I have been re-knitting some of my patterns for shawls and scarves in DK weight yarn, which is a little heavier than the fine lace weight I originally used.

Well, all knitting is different and the same knitting worked, say ten years apart and in different yarn is still very different. Here were some of my problems.

1. Ten years ago I had knit Blossom using a rayon yarn and a small lace flower stitch, called Quatrefoil.  I used the stitch as shown in a stitch dictionary and knit it like this. (A)

                                                                                             0 /
                                                                                        \ 0     0 /
                                                                                              0 /

Well, while knitting a scarf, headband and matching mittlets (fingerless mittens) ten years later, I realized that the stitch could also be worked as follows: (B)

                                                                                             \ 0
                                                                                        \ 0      0 /
                                                                                             \ 0

or like this. (C)

                                                                                            \ 0
                                                                                        \ 0     0 /
                                                                                              0 /

Now which one to use, was the conundrum.

Actually both A & B worked well for the scarf because one side of the scarf could be worked as A and the other side of the scarf could be worked as B. This would keep the "0"s aligned, when the stitches shift for the second half of the scarf - some people who knit actually have PHDs in math, engineering and/or political science. I've never trusted the poly-sci ones, though :)

I used C for the headband and mittlets because they needed to be balanced, unlike myself ;) So you have it!! Conundrum for a lace motif, solved.

Have a problem free day!!

PS I have finished 3 other lace sets, each with its own special conundra. More on them later.