Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Believe

Something really cool happened to me this week.

My office often runs health challenges through the James Center YMCA. Last year it was a Biggest Loser challenge. It has been exercise challenges before. It always involves being a part of a team and working towards some healthy goal.

I have never been invited to a team before. Let’s just say I have never been the poster child for health and fitness around my office in the past.

Well, this week, that apparently changed. The YMCA is running a “Battle of the Bulge” 8 week challenge; teams of 4 have to log their exercise and food habits on a special calorie tracking website for 8 weeks; points are awarded for logging, for doing at least 3 30-minute workouts per week, and points are deducted for not logging or not exercising. Weight loss is not the goal here; consistently exercising, logging your food and water intake, and being accountable are the goals. Extra points are awarded for working out more than the minimum 3 times. Extra points are awarded for drinking water. There will be Bonus Point Challenges too.

And I was invited to a team; we had 8 people from the office who were split into two teams, and between our two teams, we have one endurance cyclist (he rides about 300 miles on a regular week), two marathon runners, and the rest of us are more “regular” runners. I am one of them.

I am one of them.

Let me repeat that one more time.

I am one of them.

These attorneys, as a group, believed I am responsible enough, fit enough, and motivated enough to be a contribution to a team for 8 weeks. This is powerful ju-ju for my Former Fat Chick’s brain. People believe in me.

That is pretty cool.

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Pilgrimage

Lucy in the Sky has been wound into a ball off 360 yards of squishy goodness, ready to cast on for a pair of Leyburn socks tomorrow, February 1st, the next sock in my SCSC2011 plan.

My skein had a lot less white in it that the one in the picture on BlueMoon’s page, but I understand the nature of handpainted yarns; you get what they dye. I think Mom’s Leyburns will be mostly navy blue socks with the trellis effect of the Leyburn pattern showing up in the grey/light blue. She wanted socks to go with blue or grey pants, so, hopefully, this will do the trick.

I have knit Leyburn before.
Grandma's Leyburns
This was my Grandmother’s Christmas gift this year; the yarn was Wisdom Yarns Marathon, Boston (not on the website anymore), but the purples, greens, and blues reminded me so much of the irises we used to have at my childhood home in Hampton, that I nicknamed them the Iris socks.

The Faux-oro scarf is over 4.5 feet long and on its way to completion. I had intended to just let the colors come together holistically, uninterrupted, and allow for natural high and low contrast stripes, but…I just couldn’t do it. There came a point where black on black stripes were about to line up, and beyond that, the greens and blues were going to line up, so I chose to snip one yarn and start pulling it from the opposite end of the ball, reordering the stripes. The adjustment is almost 100% invisible and my stripes continue to contrast nicely.
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I would never have believed that a 1×1 rib stitch could keep me so enchanted. I suppose it is the shifting colors. Still, it would be lovely if I could finish this today, so I am one less Work in Progress come tomorrow, when I cast on the February Socks of the Month.
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Speaking of WIPs, I managed to get some work done on Ishbel this weekend too. I have completed charts A and B, and now need to work another Chart A before moving into C, D, and finishing with E. The Kidsilk Haze is proving to be the Giving Ball. I still haven’t come close to finishing the first ball yet, though I am certain I will have to get into the second ball to finish this out. The beads are slowing this project down to a crawl, but I really believe they are worth it.

Byram’s Jayne hat still needs ear flaps and a pom pom, and February Lady sweater is sitting unloved and untouched in a box. Such is the life of a WiP in my house.

Now for my best and most beautiful Work in Progress:
Pre-pancake breakfast.
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Post-pancake breakfast (and visit with friends, trip to a museum, and a drive around a small college campus).
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Finally, if you are in the Richmond area, I highly recommend paying a visit to the University of Richmond’s Modlin Art Center, where they are running an exhibition in the Harnett Museum of Art called Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. With more than 75 objects from the three faiths on display, it was quite interesting. I was floored by just how beautiful the 12th-13th century Islamic ceramic tiles were. There was 15th century orphrey on display from a priest’s robes. It was awe-inspiring to get that close to the embroidery. There was stained glass from Canterbury that gave me goosebumps. But the two 12th century reliquary boxes just about sent me through the floor. There we were, Byram and I, looking at artifacts from the century that we have both studied so closely, within inches of items made by people who lived 800 years ago; things I have only gotten to see in books and on websites. Things people we have studied might have seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. It was cool on a level that is hard to describe.

I realized just how badly I need to get myself to the Cloisters and the Met up in New York.

Anyway, the exhibition is free, it is small, and even with studied reading and a not-whiney 3 year old, it should take less than 30 minutes to go through it all, and I encourage Richmonders to pay it a visit and get a little perspective on 3 of the major faiths and their art and history. It was good stuff.

Watch The Knitter Freak Out

Our Christmas was merry and bright. Also, our White Christmas was not only in our dreams. We had the real deal. A first in my memory. I am very sorry for all the travelers who are stranded, including our friends Jayson and Melanie who went to Montreal for Christmas.

Christmas with a 3 year old was a lot of fun. She was quite well behaved and more reserved than I expected. Grace is a true Santa believer now, and corrects us when we say stuff like “We put gifts in Ama’s stocking.” “No, Santa did, Mom.” We explain that Santa visits children but that adults give gifts to each other in the tradition of the Three Wisemen bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, and to show our love and affection for each other, but that doesn’t hold nearly as much water with her as does the idea of “Santa’s on the rooftop,” as she says.

Byram got me books, yarn, fiber from Brush Creek Wool Works, small sized ear buds for my MP3 player (I am not the only person in the world with little ear holes, thankfully), and other nice things. My list consisted of homesteading guides and wool, primarily, which indicates I am becoming a hippy, I think, except I also requested and received Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot by James Stockdale. Not so counter culture and hippy, that one.

Byram even took Grace to Lettuce Knit where she picked out a sock yarn just for me. He tried to guide her towards blues and greens, but she picked Berocco Sox in the brightest red/pink/orange colorway possible (1450 – Miller, in case you want to see how bright they are for yourself). I adore it because my daughter chose it just for me, even if the colors are the antithesis of me. I am thinking of either knitting a pair of Leyburn socks for me out of it, or a hat and pair of mittens for her out of it.

I also requested and received yarn with which to knit Eileen from Knitty. Byram got me the exact color, yarn, and number of skeins I requested, except I apparently stroked out when I made my request and requested exactly HALF of the number of skeins I need to knit the sweater. I apparently believed it was 220 yards per ball, when it is 110 yards. I am going to order the other half either today or tomorrow, and throw myself upon the altar of the knitting goddesses and hope KnitPicks can either find the same dyelot or that what they do send me is close enough not to matter. This is always the way with me. I will get the yarn right and the yardage wrong, or the yardage right and the gauge just doesn’t work, or the color is completely wrong, or something. Ah well.

*HOLD THE PHONE* I went to order the second batch of Wool of the Andes Worsted in Winter Night, and they are SOLD OUT until January 28!!!!!!!!!!! This certainly means I cannot get any more of that dyelot, and since it will be a totally new production batch altogether, there is really no chance of it matching what I have. I am giving serious consideration to returning the seven balls I have and starting over. That howling you hear is me, rending my little knitter’s heart for screwing this up so badly.

It might not be a total loss. A quick search on Ravelry brought up the February Lady Sweater, which I have really been wanting to knit. I have the yardage to knit the smallest size available, and since I have read that the sweater grows and it tends to run a little big, I theoretically should be able to fit it. So…maybe I am shifting gears from Eileen to the FLS that everyone on Gods’ Green Earth has knit? That works for me too.

Whew. Well then. I think you just witnessed the stages of Knitter’s Grief play out across a blog entry. First there came Disgust (“I cannot believe I got the yardage completely wrong!”), then came Steady Determination (“I can fix this, I will just order the rest of it.”), then came Shock and Awe (“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE SOLD OUT!!), then came the Search and Substitute stage (“To Ravelry! Quick, find something else that works with what I already have.”) and finally came Acceptance (“Whew, I found a pattern I like that meets my yardage requirements.”).

(Have you ever seen a blog post get hijacked quite like this one before? I write these things over the course of anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, so sometimes you cover a whole lot of territory with me.)

Anyway, back to Christmas. Well, it really was lovely, but it was incomplete without being able to go to Midnight Mass. Hell or high water, next year, I want to go to Midnight Mass, even if it means Grace sleeps on my shoulder, or worse, doesn’t sleep at all. We couldn’t go to the Feast of the Holy Family mass on Sunday either due to the heavy snow.

Now, we are in the supposedly slow week between Christmas and New Year’s, but my work has been completely slammed for the past two weeks, and we are very shorthanded for staff, as well. Only because I had extra long phone duty this morning have I been able to even get this blog off the ground. I hope to post again this week with pictures from our family visits, and hopefully some finished objects.

By the way, Byram’s ClipClop gifts were two pairs of socks. One was a Vanilla Pair (plain but for a ribbed cuff) in Cowboy’s blue stripes (Lion Brand Magic Stripes), and one was a pair of Earl Grey socks by Stephanie McPhee, in KnitPicks Essential, Colorway Auburn. They are gorgeous and soft. He loves both pairs, and I am thrilled to say I finished them with 27 hours to spare from Christmas day.

As I cut my Christmas knitting so very close this year, I am promising to start knitting for next Christmas starting…right about now.

I hope your holiday was merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white.

Happy Thanksgiving

It is the week of Thanksgiving, a short and busy week normally and this year promises to be no different than previous years. Mr. Tom is thawing in the fridge, a homemade apple pie, pre-made last week, is in the freezer, recipes are floating around the kitchen, and in general, we are in a state of pre-feast limbo.

Thanksgiving is normally the day that officially begins the Christmas season in our house, and I expect that is the case for most people in general. This year, however, I have noticed something slightly different. As early as last Monday, I noticed a couple of houses with Christmas lights up, and even lit. By the middle of last week, I was seeing Christmas trees in the windows of a few houses and a couple of the apartments in the huge glass apartment buildings on Brown’s Island by the river. Last night, there was a sprinkling of fully decorated houses lit, ready for Christmas. Even my co-worker told me today she put up her tree this weekend, and she wasn’t really sure why, just that she was ready for it.

I have been thinking a lot about the early appearance of lights, trees, and even music (outside of retail settings, when in any given year you can find Christmas stuff around after Labor Day) and the only conclusion I can draw is that people are looking for a little extra joy and light in what has been a fairly dark and grim year for a lot of people. Maybe even for me. Ultimately, even I broke with one of my traditions and played Christmas music before Thanksgiving morning, as I was driving to and from Suffolk this weekend. I was still listening this morning as I drove into the city through very heavy fog, playing Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Canon; my favorite “modern” Christmas song. I found a lump in my throat and stinging eyes, and I am mystified as to the reason.

It has been a good year in general for me and for my family. In comparison to past years, this one has been low on drama and high in blessings. We have managed to pay off the last of our old credit card debts. We have kept our heads above the fiscal waters with being careful and with help and generosity of our families. With Byram still working only 4 days a week, and no hope of a raise for me before November of 2012, I am not saying life is easy, but we are getting by.

In spite of our blessings and good fortunes this year, I feel the dark grip of winter closing in and maybe feeling the need for a little extra light and joy myself. This was the view from the 10th floor of my granite tower this morning, just reinforcing the need for color and light.
Fog
My hope and prayer is that this coming Thanksgiving is a merry one, a pleasant one, and a source of warmth, light, love, and peace within our family. It is usually a source of dread and drama, but I am looking at it through different eyes this year. I am very cognizant of the fact that my table will be laden with a large bird, delicious bread, abundant vegetables and delectable desserts, and many around us will not be so fortunate. No matter what craziness comes out of my sister-in-law’s mouth, no matter how much jealousy and resentment my grandmother exudes, and no matter how much my mother-in-law’s incessant chatter will grate on me, I am actually grateful that we are all at least together, at least for one more Thanksgiving. We do not know how much time any of us are given. We do not know what Thanksgiving will look like at our table next year, so we must be thankful for what we have today.

And that is my prayer for you, too; that you find peace in whatever condition you find yourself in this Thanksgiving, and be mindful of whatever gifts you do have, no matter what you might be lacking, because you never know about tomorrow.

I am especially thankful for these two right at this moment.
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Can anyone have it any better than I do?

If I cannot get it together to write again this week, I wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Mountains

Lent is petering out. Thursday begins the solemnity of the Triduum, the three holy days leading up to Easter Sunday. Spring is in full swing here in central Virginia, and it has been a welcomed change. It was a long, dark winter, which has made the past six weeks that have rung in Spring that much more precious.

Mom and I plan to hit the Great Big Greenhouse this week for a look-see (that is a technical term, of course), and possibly, if they have some good stock, to bring home some vegetable starts. Since our last frost date is still 2 weeks away, it might be too early, but I have noticed in the past 5 years or so, our last frost date is in reality more like April 1 than April 15. Climate change, global warming, or just good luck, I don’t pretend to know, but I like being able to start earlier.

On Sunday, I cleared out an area of the back yard that has lived for at least six years completely natural. Covered in vines, we do not mow it, rake it, or do anything with it. Since the neighbors on the east cleared all their trees, it is now the one sunny spot in the back yard we do not use to park cars on, so I realized the dream of creating a small garden plot back there. It is very small; a mere 8×10, but in clearing that spot, I essentially doubled my current gardening space. I hope to dedicate that space to a few summer squashes, a couple of cucumbers, and a few winter squashes. That way, I will have room for more tomatoes, peppers, and peas in the raised beds on the side of the house.

I think the new bed will do well. The first 3 or 4 inches of the dirt was wonderful, black and beautiful humus thanks to the years of being untended. If it does get enough sun and produces well, then next year, I might expand it into an ‘L’ shape around the side of the shed back there.

Saturday, we drove west for a friend’s baby shower. Now, being a Chesapeake Bay girl at heart, with salt water in my veins, the mountains have always been a source of mystery and fascination for me. I could not resist trying to snap pictures of the scenery as we flew by at 70 mph.

That is Afton Mountain. You have to pass through Rockfish Gap and go “over” Afton Mountain (the Gap actually more or less skirts the mountain) to get to Waynesboro, which was essentially our destination. It is a beautiful view.

On the way back, we pulled into the scenic pull-over and to get a look at the valley. There was a bit of haze that kept it from being a perfect view.

Since I had it with me, I brought Laminaria, now properly dressed, out for a few shots.

I could not see my view-finder very well in the bright sun, so I could not tell how blurry the image was. Sorry.

I modeled it briefly as well, but the pictures did not come out very well either.

Then I got Grace and her Daddy to pose for me. There are some large boulders there at the pull-off and Grace was sure she was climbing a mountain when she climbed up on the boulders.
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We were all impressed with the view, but I think Grace was most impressed.

So that’s all the news that is fit to print. It is Holy Week. Spring is here. We even have some very warm days coming this week (mid-80s!). I may not write the rest of the week, especially during the Triduum, but you never know. Last year, I was quite inspired and if words worthy of print come to mind, then you will be the first to see them.

Otherwise, enjoy your week, have a blessed Passover, and Happy Easter.

Oh No

For fans of Mason-Dixon Knitting, please stop and say a prayer or send good vibes towards Kay.

She lost her husband over the weekend.

From the blog-

Kay has been absolutely extraordinary throughout this difficult period. She says she and her family are holding up.

She suggests that if anybody feels like knitting anything, Afghans for Afghans is a wonderful organization that has no end of need for the things we make.

So there you go. Do something kind for someone else, if you can. Think a kind thought for someone who is grieving today. Share what you have, and love unconditionally.

Here is a link to Father Patrick Golden’s Easter Vigil homily. I found this to be one of the most moving homilies I have ever heard, and it is my wish that these words of hope will reach across the internet and reach someone who needs a little hope today.

Where Charity And Love Prevail

Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found; Brought here together by Christ’s love, by love are we thus bound. With grateful joy and holy fear God’s charity we learn; Let us with heart and mind and soul now love God in return. Forgive we now each other’s faults as we our faults confess; And let us love each other well in Christian holiness. Let strife among us be unknown, let all contention cease; Be God’s the glory that we seek, be ours God’s holy peace. Let us recall that in our midst dwells God’s begotten Son; As members of his body joined, we are in Christ made one. No race or creed can love exclude, if honored be God’s name; Our family embraces all whose Father is the same. Paul Benoit

If you are looking for knitting, you will find none today. I decided on Wednesday that I would set the needles aside throughout the Triduum (Thursday until Sunday). Consider it my own days of rest from unnecessary work and distractions.

The darkest days on the Christian calendar are accompanied by such beautiful works of art and music. Consider La Pieta . Or just read the words above, an expansion of the song Ubi Caritas. It is hard to read those words and be unmoved.

Maundy Thursday is the foundation of the Christian faith. A table is set for the faithful, the Paschal mystery begins. The next step, today’s journey, leads us to Golgotha. The cross. The Great Sacrifice. From there, we are taken to a darkened tomb. And we wait. If the story ended in that dark and dank tomb, then there would be very little to tell.

But for now, we are waiting. Sunday will come, but to rush over today, to ignore the brutal truth of it, is to gloss over the very thing that makes Sunday such an important day.

Without death, there could not be resurrection; and death is never a beautiful thing.

My mother told me as a child that she felt Catholics focused too much on the death of Christ, as seen in the crucifixes and Stations of the Cross. I now feel that her denomination ignores this aspect of the Resurrection too much. A cross without Christ means less to me than an empty tomb with carefully folded burial clothes.

Christ did not disappear from the cross. At no point is an empty cross visualized in the Gospels. He was taken from the cross, with charity and love, by someone who loved and grieved for him when all others had abandoned him. With charity and love, he was prepared for his final rest. Without hope, but with much love, he was placed in the tomb.

Imagine if you were Mary or Joseph of Arimathea. Your friend, son, companion, and teacher, has been executed and all hope that he was who he said he was seems to have gone out. They could not gloss over this day. They had to hold their grief in their hearts, without the anticipation that we are fortunate to have today.

Their hope came in the form of an empty tomb, but some forty hours would pass before that hope could be relit within them.

The wonderful gift we have now is that we are not without hope. But for today, without glossing over the awful reality of the day, let us offer to one another, who are the Body of Christ on Earth today, charity and love, as was offered to Jesus as he was brought down from the cross by those who did not even have the benefit of hope and anticipation. Let us hold our hope in our hearts right next to the grief as we acknowledge the reality of the cross, but waiting, in joyful hope, for the stone to roll back on an empty tomb in a few short days.