22 September 2016

When the Frost is on the Punkin BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/knitted-pumpkin-pattern

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock, 
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock, 
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens, 
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; 
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best, 
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, 
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere 
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here— 
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees, 
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees; 
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze 
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days 
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock— 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn, 
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn; 
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still 
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed; 
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!— 
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock, 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock! 

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps; 
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through 
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ... 
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be 
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me— 
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock— 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

05 September 2016

"I know this scarf"

One of my favorite scarf patterns is the Chinook Scarf by Ali Green. I've made it in different yarns, on different needles, and have modified it more often than not to be longer than the original pattern. Here's a link to the pattern:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/chinook-scarf

My most recent Chinook Scarf was a gift for Marie, who's also a knitter. The yarn I used, and liked very much, is Flertini from Knit One, Crochet Too:

"Fleurtini is a soft yarn with a slight texture. It knits up quickly and is suitable for year-round wear. Hand wash cold and lay flat to dry.
34% Wool
34% Manufactured Fibers - Acrylic
26% Cotton
6% Manufactured Fibers - Nylon / Polyamide"


When she pulled the scarf out of the recycled-plastic Blue Q purse I gave her, she said, "I know this scarf!"

Hot Rocks Messenger Bag

She draped it around her neck as she handed her baby the pull-apart animals I brought him from the US. I was pleased at how long the scarf is! All on a pleasant day in Prague.


28 August 2016

Writing and knitting


It may seem that writing and knitting do not have much in common, but let me enumerate their amazing similarities:

  • 1.       You start with a pile of materials and make something that only you can make.
  • 2.      You contemplate the pile for a while before you begin, letting your imagination run wild.
  • 3.       Sometimes you don’t like what you’ve done and rip it out
  • 4.      Sometimes the finished item bears little resemblance to your imagined thing of beauty.
  • 5.       The mistakes you make will never go away. Corollary: you will see new mistakes or ways to improve every time you look at the finished item.
  • 6.      People are amazed and in awe at what you have done, while you feel slightly embarrassed at the many flaws and faults that leap out at you. Advice: don’t point out the flaws; this will only make your admirers think that they are unobservant and is often taken as fishing for a compliment and will only get you more praise (“oh, no, it’s perfect!”), not the commiseration you subconsciously seek (“I could have done so much better!”)


Yes, writing and knitting are very much alike. Both require skill, patience and creativity. And both communicate your innermost self, which is always a bit of a risk.



31 July 2016

on my way to Prague!

I love Prague, where I have lived, worked and made wonderful friends over the past 26 years. Now I live in Florida, but next week I'll fly to Prague via Copenhagen and visit my friends there!

Naturally I'll take some warm knitted goods, made with my brain and my own two hands, with me, to give to people who will need them soon! Here are a few of the gifts I will take with me:


14 June 2016

Second Fig BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY


Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: 
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand! 

30 May 2016

Ox Cart Man BY DONALD HALL

In October of the year, 
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,   
counting the seed, counting   
the cellar’s portion out,   
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor. 

He packs wool sheared in April, honey 
in combs, linen, leather   
tanned from deerhide,   
and vinegar in a barrel 
hooped by hand at the forge’s fire. 


He walks by his ox’s head, ten days 
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,   
and the bag that carried potatoes, 
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose   
feathers, yarn. 

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.   
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,   
harness and yoke, and walks 
home, his pockets heavy 
with the year’s coin for salt and taxes, 

and at home by fire’s light in November cold   
stitches new harness 
for next year’s ox in the barn, 
and carves the yoke, and saws planks   
building the cart again.

23 May 2016

Home to Roost by Kay Ryan, 1945

The chickens
are circling and
blotting out the 
day. The sun is 
bright, but the 
chickens are in 
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens, 
dense with them.
They turn and 
then they turn 
again. These 
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small—
various breeds.
Now they have 
come home
to roost—all
the same kind
at the same speed.

16 May 2016

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons BY DIANE WAKOSKI


The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard, 
as if you were walking on the beach 
and found a diamond 
as big as a shoe; 

as if 
you had just built a wooden table 
and the smell of sawdust was in the air, 
your hands dry and woody; 

as if 
you had eluded 
the man in the dark hat who had been following you 
all week; 

the relief 
of putting your fingers on the keyboard, 
playing the chords of 
Beethoven, 
Bach, 
Chopin 
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to, 
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters 
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair 
         walked into carpeted houses 
         and left me alone 
         with bare floors and a few books 

I want to thank my mother 
for working every day 
in a drab office 
in garages and water companies 
cutting the cream out of her coffee at 40 
to lose weight, her heavy body 
writing its delicate bookkeeper’s ledgers 
alone, with no man to look at her face, 
her body, her prematurely white hair 
in love 
         I want to thank 
my mother for working and always paying for 
my piano lessons 
before she paid the Bank of America loan 
or bought the groceries 
or had our old rattling Ford repaired. 

I was a quiet child, 
afraid of walking into a store alone, 
afraid of the water, 
the sun, 
the dirty weeds in back yards, 
afraid of my mother’s bad breath, 
and afraid of my father’s occasional visits home, 
knowing he would leave again; 
afraid of not having any money, 
afraid of my clumsy body, 
that I knew 
         no one would ever love 

But I played my way 
on the old upright piano 
obtained for $10, 
played my way through fear, 
through ugliness, 
through growing up in a world of dime-store purchases, 
and a desire to love 
a loveless world. 

I played my way through an ugly face 
and lonely afternoons, days, evenings, nights, 
mornings even, empty 
as a rusty coffee can, 
played my way through the rustles of spring 
and wanted everything around me to shimmer like the narrow tide 
on a flat beach at sunset in Southern California, 
I played my way through 
an empty father’s hat in my mother’s closet 
and a bed she slept on only one side of, 
never wrinkling an inch of 
the other side, 
waiting, 
waiting, 

I played my way through honors in school, 
the only place I could 
talk 
       the classroom, 
       or at my piano lessons, Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary always 
       singing the most for my talents, 
       as if I had thrown some part of my body away upon entering 
       her house 
       and was now searching every ivory case 
       of the keyboard, slipping my fingers over black 
       ridges and around smooth rocks, 
       wondering where I had lost my bloody organs, 
       or my mouth which sometimes opened 
       like a California poppy, 
       wide and with contrasts 
       beautiful in sweeping fields, 
       entirely closed morning and night, 

I played my way from age to age, 
but they all seemed ageless 
or perhaps always 
old and lonely, 
wanting only one thing, surrounded by the dusty bitter-smelling 
leaves of orange trees, 
wanting only to be touched by a man who loved me, 
who would be there every night 
to put his large strong hand over my shoulder, 
whose hips I would wake up against in the morning, 
whose mustaches might brush a face asleep, 
dreaming of pianos that made the sound of Mozart 
and Schubert without demanding 
that life suck everything 
out of you each day, 
without demanding the emptiness 
of a timid little life. 

I want to thank my mother 
for letting me wake her up sometimes at 6 in the morning 
when I practiced my lessons 
and for making sure I had a piano 
to lay my school books down on, every afternoon. 
I haven’t touched the piano in 10 years, 
perhaps in fear that what little love I’ve been able to 
pick, like lint, out of the corners of pockets, 
will get lost, 
slide away, 
into the terribly empty cavern of me 
if I ever open it all the way up again. 
Love is a man 
with a mustache 
gently holding me every night, 
always being there when I need to touch him; 
he could not know the painfully loud 
music from the past that 
his loving stops from pounding, banging, 
battering through my brain, 
which does its best to destroy the precarious gray matter when I 
am alone; 
he does not hear Mrs. Hillhouse’s canary singing for me, 
liking the sound of my lesson this week, 
telling me, 
confirming what my teacher says, 
that I have a gift for the piano 
few of her other pupils had. 
When I touch the man 
I love, 
I want to thank my mother for giving me 
piano lessons 
all those years, 
keeping the memory of Beethoven, 
a deaf tortured man, 
in mind; 
            of the beauty that can come 
from even an ugly 
past.

02 May 2016

Marge's Shoes BY SYLVIA ROSS


The first few years she wore them
I didn't even notice the leather's soft tan,
and the buckskin laces roughly looped.
By the time I paid attention, her feet
had already curved the shoes inward,
weather had toughened the soft leather,
and one lace had broken short.
Then I asked where she got those shoes
and she said from the Indian store
down in Mountain View.
 
Some other time, another year, I asked
the name of the Indian store
that sold handmade shoes like hers,
but she said it went out of business
and no store sold mocs with vodka
splatters and Yosemite dirt ground in
with a little tamale pie, so I couldn't
buy shoes like hers anyway.
 
Last summer, laughing and crying
together, in the campground
at Lake Mendocino, on the night
before her youngest son's wedding
while the men drank beer and talked
of politics and sports,
I told her how much I really, really liked
those old shoes of hers. So
she took them off and gave them to me.
 
Those beat-up, raggedy Kaibab moccasins
I wear are stained and worn rough
by hard years in my friend's life.
I wear them when I need her courage.

01 May 2016

Little Lion Face by May Swenson, 1913 - 1989

Little lion face
I stopped to pick
among the mass of thick
succulent blooms, the twice

streaked flanges of your silk
sunwheel relaxed in wide
dilation, I brought inside,
placed in a vase.  Milk

of your shaggy stem
sticky on my fingers, and
your barbs hooked to my hand,
sudden stings from them 

were sweet.  Now I’m bold
to touch your swollen neck,
put careful lips to slick
petals, snuff up gold

pollen in your navel cup.
Still fresh before night
I leave you, dawn’s appetite
to renew our glide and suck.

An hour ahead of sun
I come to find you.  You’re
twisted shut as a burr,
neck drooped unconscious,

an inert, limp bundle,
a furled cocoon, your
sun-streaked aureole
eclipsed and dun.

Strange feral flower asleep
with flame-ruff wilted,
all magic halted,
a drink I pour, steep

in the glass for your
undulant stem to suck.
Oh, lift your young neck,
open and expand to your

lover, hot light.
Gold corona, widen to sky.
I hold you lion in my eye
sunup until night.