Saturday, March 26, 2011

Garden update

Peas and spinach are up and NOT nibbled by rabbits!  Yay for vacuum cleaner pest control!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Baby is Here

My plan for yesterday was to work on the plastering job in the dining room.  Laura had asked if I wanted to go to her prenatal appointment with her, but I thought I'd get that dining room done so I'd have more time for her after the baby came.  When she called, I quickly explained my thinking...and then she patiently explained that she really wasn't calling about the appointment because labor had begun.  I needed to come and hang out with Luke at the birthing center while the new baby came.

I packed up books, new art supplies for Luke, and couple of kid movies, my knitting and a snack and headed out.  After we left Laura and Greg's house, we decided we might need more than snacks, so we left a message for Chuck to bring stuff for sandwiches for lunch.

After Laura got checked in, she was feeling like walking, and we walked several blocks to get cinnamon rolls.  She was so happy to have chosen the birthing center so that early labor could be spent doing normal fun activities.

As the day progressed it became clear that a nap would not happen at the birthing center.  Chuck and I took Luke home in the late afternoon.  Chuck chored and Luke and I read stories and rested.  Luke slept pretty well, and we had supper waiting for him when he woke up---but he was not really interested in supper at all.

We'd just begun talking about whether there was something that Luke might be interested in eating when Greg called to say that Aaron was born.  Luke definitely was no longer interested in eating supper.  He wanted to see the baby!  And he wanted to eat the birthday cake!  It was going to be a very very big birthday cake!  Let's go see the birthday cake!

Luke meeting Aaron for the first time.

When we arrived at the birth center, Luke forgot about the cake in his excitement about baby Aaron.  It was such fun to watch his reactions to the baby and then his enthusiasm about taking pictures of the baby.  Then he just couldn't hold his excitement in anymore and he began dancing as frantically and excitedly as he possibly could.

Luke's first chance to hold Aaron
He has blond hair.
We got turns to hold Aaron while Greg and Laura enjoyed some hamburgers and fries from the only restaurant that was still open.  Ben and Andrea arrived.  We had birthday cake, and then Luke and I settled in on the floor to cut and paste while the others visited.

Luke playing after we ate the birthday cake (thus the frosting on his face).

The midwife kept checking on Laura and Aaron, and gave the OK to leave, so everyone packed up and went home.  What a great day.

The shiny stuff by his eye is a medicated salve they give babies, not tears.

 I wish I had pictures of Greg holding Aaron, but while he was holding Aaron, I was taking pictures with their camera, and didn't think to get mine out as well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Garden has Been Started...

When my computer is on, there is a bar at the top of the screen that gives me the date, time and current temperature.  It is 82 degrees right now.  If I place my cursor on the bar it has a window that pops open to show me the temperature to within the nearest tenth of a degree, the temperature with wind chill figured in, the wind direction and speed, and the times of today's sunrise and sunset.

It's a handy little feature, and one of the most used on our computer, next to checking email.

But 82 degrees.

So gardening has begun, and so has the pay off.  I am being paid off for my hard work AND for my lack of hard work.

In the last two summers I've been building raised beds over most of the garden.  This is the first spring when I've been able to plant potatoes during the same week as St. Patrick's Day.  My garden has trees on the south side, and it doesn't get enough sun to dry out the soil for early planting.  Raised beds drain more readily, and the dirt is perfect for planting.  That is the pay off for hard work.

Last summer, the garden became depressing.  I wrote about that.  Dead tomatoes, etc.  By fall, I harvested what was out there, but I did not do the fall clean up.  The tomato cages are still in place with their tomato skeletons rattling in the wind.  Remnants of corn stalks are stark in contrast to the verdant deep green of lush henbit covering the ground below.

There were two beds that weren't covered by henbit---the last one I'd constructed, which hadn't had time before frost to get a lot of weeds started, and the one that had the sweet potatoes and the last live squash.  Those late plants had kept the bed pretty weed free until frost.

The squash bed currently has a tall cattle panel down the center with snap peas planted along both sides.  Next to the snap peas, filling the area of the bed on either side, are two rows of plastic milk jugs covering tiny broccoli plants.  It looks like I'm trying to raise milk jugs. :-)

At the south end beyond the cattle panel is the area where spinach is seeded.  Around the entire bed is fluffy gray fuzzy stuff held down in the wind by a sprinkling of dirt---the contents of my vacuum cleaner bag.  I'm hoping this combination of pet fur, human hair (mostly mine) and other people smells will keep the rabbits at bay.

The new bed has a small area of onion plants.  The rest of the bed is divided between red and yukon gold potatoes.

I bought too many potatoes for seed, though.  I had to clear another bed.  Not to worry.  I need the exercise.  Here is the pay off for lack of hard work.  First I use the field hoe to scrape off the henbit with as little dirt as possible.  I carry that to the wheelbarrow for compost.  Then I hoe the soil that is left as deeply as that field hoe will go.  Lastly, I pull up the soil along both sides of the bed and rake it smooth, reforming it.  Very hard work.  But the dirt is so lovely, that it is also very rewarding work.

I got half of one cleared and planted the white potatoes.

I'll be clearing the rest of the beds slowly while listening to knitting podcasts on my mp3 player.

With the daylight savings time change and the warmer weather, gardening is cutting into knitting time, which is strictly kept to evenings and weekends.  If I allow myself to knit during the day (except when waiting at appts, etc.) it will be too easy to lose control of how much time it gets.

The white sweater is coming along.  I had to rip out some of the shaping because the sweater's hips were floating a couple of inches above mine.  I've fixed that.  I'm noticing that the back seems slightly short so I'm experimenting with adding some short rows to the back.  I just got a book (Knitting Workshop) that is mostly about common sense in knitting by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  The book includes directions for making up your own patterns, and points out that when you knit sweaters all in one piece, you have to allow somehow for the fact that you need the back to be a bit bigger than the front---thus short rows.  Fortunately she explains how to do them, so I did my first short rows this morning. (Yes, it was morning, not evening.  It was also Sunday, and I was watching Brene Brown on PBS before going to church.)

I need a new small project that requires little thought to take with me to meetings, etc.  The sweater is at the place where lots of decisions must be made about bottom edging, sleeve shaping, etc.  It is also pretty large and imposing by now.  After I finish writing this post, I'll look through some of the patterns I've bookmarked and see if there is something I can start from yarn I have collected.

Brene Brown...shame is evidenced in perfectionism.  If I can just be perfect, I will always be loved and never be ashamed.

Our sermon this morning was about Nicodemus, the Pharisee leader, who spent his life being perfect and was thrown off his game by Jesus.  The way to the kingdom of heaven was through being born again---not through perfect compliance to the law.  God loved us so much, valued us so much, that he gave his only son---before we were perfect.

God is the truth.  If God values us this much, we are indeed valuable/worth loving.

Perfectionism will not get us into the kingdom.  It will make us judgemental and ashamed and ready to measure ourselves against those around us to see whether we are closer to or father from the kingdom than they are.  It will make us set up rules to make us feel safe:  doing these things will get me in; doing these things will keep me out; I do the right things and there is nothing to worry about.

Getting into the kingdom is about accepting God's assessment of us, about being honest about who we are, and about trying as much as we can to be like Jesus.
  • about being worthy of love
  • about being imperfect
  • about making things right with those we hurt
  • about that those around us are just as worthy, and no more/no less imperfect than we are
Like Jesus
  • seeing the worth of those around us and investing in it
  • compassionate
  • truthful
  • willing to not be safe in our love for other people  (that one may be a bit controversial)
  • willing to set boundaries 
    • no you can't sell in the temple
    • right now I need to be alone to pray instead of being with more people
    • you don't get to ask to be first in the kingdom
    • etc.
It is interesting to me that although Brene doesn't say it explicitly, as she tells her story of learning about shame, authenticity, and whole-hearted living, the change in her life has included going back to church.  She keeps her writing accessible to a wider audience, but especially in "The Gifts of Imperfection" she notes that certain traits of wholehearted living have a distinctly spiritual component.

I especially enjoy when science verifies the truths of faith, and illustrates them in new words.  It goes back, I think, to God's and our enjoyment of new things.  We love to hear the old truth through new ears with new words and new understanding.  The same yesterday, today, and forever, and new every morning.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Making all things new

I've been knitting a lot this winter.  Besides the projects shown below, I also made a pair of fingerless gloves for a Christmas present.  Except for the hat I made for Tim, I have changed every pattern in some way.  Sometimes I've knit one thing and then unraveled it to make something else I liked better.
This feather and fan lace scarf was designed to be narrower than I liked, so I added another repeat of the pattern.  Now I'm wondering if that was too ambitious and whether I'll run out of yarn before the scarf is long enough.

Feather and Fan scarf made from sock wool

The first fingerless glove was knit spur of the moment to hold a bandage to the palm of my hand.  After the wound healed, I realized I wanted the glove to fit tighter and feel smoother, so I undid it, reknit it, and made a twin.  I looked at a pattern for some suggestions, but changed nearly everything just a bit to fit my own ideas.

fingerless glove, second attempt
Tim wanted a hat, and chose the colors of yarn.  Now that it  is  finished, I love the way it looks on him (Luke is modeling it here.).  But it is made from cotton, and if I made another, it would be wool...definitely wool.

Tim's Turn-a-square hat, modeled by Luke
I had some red tweedy cotton I bought on sale last summer, and needed something to work on.  I decided to make a hat and scarf.  I started the hat using a  pattern but ended up experimenting with how to shape the top of the hat.  Truthfully, I had some trouble understanding the pattern and decided to wing it.  The moebius scarf was originally a feather and fan scarf.  I didn't have enough yarn to finish it and couldn't buy more, so I unraveled it and reknit the moebius pattern.  Again, both would have been better in wool, although I like them well enough to wear them.

Moebius scarf and spiral hat
I am knitting the Rosamund sweater as part of a group knit-along at the local yarn store.  I've already knitted it nearly to  the point where you see it in the picture, decided it wasn't quite right, unraveled it, and knit the one in the picture in the next larger size.  Last weekend I realized I was doing one of the primary stitches wrong, and brought it to the group for advice.  Their wisdom was to enjoy the unusual look of the knitting rather than unravel it and reknit it to  look like everyone else's.  I'm fine with that!

Rosamund Sweater, reversible with cabled accents
I've been thinking about why the knitting is so energizing for me.  Even the unraveling and starting over has not been discouraging.  It seems to me that it is the process of creating something new that is a large part of what I enjoy.  I also like working with my hands on something while I watch tv or wait for someone or sit through a meeting.

I remember that being created in God's image means that we are born with a desire to create as well.  The Bible has so many references to new things---new wineskins;  sing a new song; behold, I am doing a new thing; the mercies of God are new every morning,  old things have passed away and new things have come, the new covenant....  When I start to look at it, I wonder if 'retail therapy' is fed by that need to create, to be part of making things new.

I'm currently reading the book, Living More With Less: 30th Anniversary Edition, by Doris Janzen Longacre.  In the chapter on Recreation and Schedules, Longacre writes that in some ways "newness is what we need."  The word, recreation, itself is informative.  We love new things and that love is God given.  Think of the first flowers of spring, the shoots pushing through the earth in the garden, the arrival of the swallows, a newborn cry.  All of these things are ancient as the earth itself, and yet they resonate inside us as new and fresh. 

I submit that part of our enjoyment of life is in participating in that creating of new things.  I also think it is probable that our sense of fulfillment in our daily lives is somewhat correlated to the sense that we are participating in creative activities in our work and play.

Housework is often only housework for me, but on those occasions when I see the work as a chance to create a peaceful and beautiful space in which to live, it changes.  Likewise, when I anticipate working in the garden, I often dread the drudgery.  Yet getting my hands in the soil, planning the arrangement of the plants, figuring out how to enrich the soil, clearing and mulching...all these things end up feeling creative, and even holy.  

The meal I cooked tonight was spaghetti sauce from a jar with frozen meatballs added, peas, and coleslaw.  The coleslaw was mildly creative, but otherwise the meal was not much fun to put on the table.  Sometimes it is necessary to cook this way.  I have several quick and easy unimaginative meals on hand all the time for when there isn't much time for creativity.

Luke enjoying homemade yogurt, with homemade muesli and apricots from the freezer
But a bowl of yogurt made fresh yesterday, mixed with homemade muesli and apricots I froze last summer is worth the smile on Luke's face. 

Friday, March 04, 2011

Brene Brown on local public television

Just a note to let people know that Brene Brown will be featured on PBS this month.  Check your local listings to see if your station is playing the 90 minute presentation.  For those of you who live near me, here is the local schedule of showings:

Saturday, March 5  —  10:30am
8 - KPTS

Saturday, March 5  —  10:30am
8.1 - KPTS-HD1

Saturday, March 12  —  1:30pm
8 - KPTS

Saturday, March 12  —  1:30pm
8.1 - KPTS-HD1

Sunday, March 13  —  10:30am

Monday, March 14  —  10:30pm
8 - KPTS

Monday, March 14  —  10:30pm
8.1 - KPTS-HD1

Sunday, March 20  —  8:00am
8 - KPTS

Sunday, March 20  —  8:00am
8.1 - KPTS-HD1

Sunday, March 20  —  12:00pm