Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cattails

I recently read this this poem in a blog post:
Wandrers Nachtlied II, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
translated as Wayfarer's Night Song II, by Hyde Flippo

Over all the hilltops
is calm.
In all the treetops
you feel
hardly a breath of air.
The little birds fall silent in the woods.
Just wait... soon
you'll also be at rest.
The blog post referred to the death of a man who apparently was well-known to long-time readers, but whose name meant nothing to me. But the poem was a gift - a pleasant surprise - an acknowledgement of peace and beauty. Lately, work has not been very satisfactory, and the best part of my day has been those times when I can escape for a walk with Bonnie.

Here are some photos, to share some of what Bonnie and I enjoy:

Friendship Village, July 1

Asylum Lake, looking west, July 4

Asylum Lake Preserve, July 12

This next scene reminds me of Mom. Growing up, she ensured that our home was always attractive, and she regularly added touches to enhance the simple decor. We went through a phase where the favorite was thistles and cattails, arranged in a large vase on the fireplace hearth. In our travels, it didn't matter where we were - if Mom saw cattails by the roadside, we stopped to gather them.

Asylum Lake, July 12

Asylum Lake, July 12

Friendship Village, July 17

Friendship Village, July 17

Friendship Village, July 17

Friendship Village, July 17

Friendship Village, July 17

Asylum Lake Preserve, July 20

Asylum Lake Preserve, July 20

Gratuitous beagle photo - these walks can wear her out!

July 4

Monday, July 21, 2014

FOs (Five) and WIPs (Two) and a Beagle (One)

I believe it has been (to use the precise time measurement) "ages" since I blogged about my knitting. I suppose it is better to be knitting, than to be blogging about knitting, but still....

Here are my finished projects of late. This first is a baby blanket, currently waiting for the right baby to appear. The Ravelry project is Hope They Like Blue. This yarn (Three Irish Girls, Kells Sport) was yummy to knit with, and the pattern (Baby Chalice Blanket) very easy and satisfying.


Next up: A Sock for Your Head. I didn't really like the yarn (Plymouth Yarn Sakkie) - it was too insubstantial for my taste - but it worked up into a nice hat. The pattern (Sockhead Hat) was easy-peasy, and good for carrying in the car (because it was totally mindless knitting).


As we headed into summer, I finished Lori's Bridge Walk Flynn (at least she'll have it in time for winter). The yarn, of course was wonderful (Shepherd's Wool Worsted), and the pattern (Flynn) was interesting, with a nice pattern for the brim, reverse stockinette for the body, and a nice cable section. The cable section was a bit confusing, so I charted it, and that helped greatly - so much so, in fact, that I got carried away and knitted additional length, making this a bit slouchy:


In June, I finished another elephant, The Apple of Her Eye. This is the eighth toy I've knit with this pattern (Elijah), and I again used the Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton & Silk Hand Paint yarn.


Just a few days ago, I finished a pair of baby hats for afghans for Afghans. They are collecting newborn hats and socks, for the Malalai Women's Maternity hospital in Kabul. According to their website, the hospital delivers, on average, 85 babies a day - so they need lots of hats and socks! I used the Three Irish Girls yarn left over from the baby blanket, and Bev's Baby Ribs Hat pattern, which makes a stretchy hat, long enough to double over the ears. This photo shows one of the hats' being modeled by a 12" softball:


Here are the two projects I'm currently focused on. First is a shawl, using Lala's Simple Shawl pattern. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Mushishi, which Jim gave me for my birthday several years ago. I saw this pattern knit up as a sample in a store, and decided it would be perfect with this yarn. I came home, and hopped on Ravelry to link the yarn and pattern together - and discovered I had already made that connection. So I decided I'd better get busy and knit it!


I'm making this scarf with the linen stitch, alternating two skeins of Misti Alpaca yarn - one of Pima Cotton & Silk Hand Paint, and one of Tonos Pima Silk. I like the way the colors are working up, but - linen stitch being what it is - it will be a Long Time before this is finished!


Bonnie points out that she is as pretty as any knitting project, and indeed she is:

Asylum Lake Preserve, May 10

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Invention of Wings

I recently finished Sue Monk Kidd's book, The Invention of Wings. It was horrible and fascinating, and I could scarcely put it down. The story spans the years 1803 - 1838, beginning in a Charleston home, with its well-to-do family and their slaves. The two central characters are Hetty Handful Grimké and Sarah Grimké.

These protagonists are introduced to us along with harsh realities. Ten-year-old Hetty enumerates Missus's "list of slave sins, which we knew by heart. Number one: stealing. Number two: disobedience. Number three: laziness. Number four: noise. A slave was supposed to be like the Holy Ghost - don't see it, don't hear it, but it's always hovering round on ready."

Eleven-year-old Sarah recounts her earliest memory: watching a slave being whipped. And now, on her eleventh birthday, she is given Hetty, to be her "very own waiting maid."

From there, the narration alternates between the perspective of the two girls (women, by the book's end). Sarah opposes the slavery that is a staple of her society, and imagines she will become a lawyer, like her father. She struggles to find her voice in a world that doesn't recognize the value of either blacks or women. Hetty struggles with her own rebellions. She wrote "mauma had found the part of herself that refused to bow and scrape, and once you find that, you got trouble breathing on your neck."

Somehow, I didn't recognize that this work was based on real characters, and real history. The name Grimké was familiar to me, and I eventually realized that I'd learned of the Grimkés on the PBS show The Abolitionists, along with William Lloyd Garrison, who also figures in Kidd's book. Denmark Vesey, Lucretia Mott, Theodore Weld are among other real persons who appear in these pages.

The cruel and cold treatment of the slaves was appalling, and perhaps the hardest part of reading this narrative. It is hard for me to fathom that such behavior was ever condoned.

The writing sometimes seemed stilted to me, but I attributed this to an effort to remain true to the language and style appropriate for the time period. Aside from that, I can recommend this book without reservation.

In an author's note to the book, Kidd explains that she stumbled across the names of Sarah and Angelina Grimké while viewing The Dinner Party, a work of art by Judy Chicago. This would be something to see. It is housed at the Brooklyn Museum, whose website explains:
The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is an icon of feminist art, which represents 1,038 women in history—39 women are represented by place settings and another 999 names are inscribed in the Heritage Floor on which the table rests. This monumental work of art is comprised of a triangular table divided by three wings, each 48 feet long.
The information at the Brooklyn Museum's site is pretty comprehensive; I think I could spend a good while sifting through the names and stories represented there.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stories Cut from Paper

Balloon Houses

This has been sitting in my draft folder for ages. It is a scene from a TED talk by Beatrice Coron: Stories Cut From Paper. Coron is delightful - she tells a bit of her story, what she did before she became an artist, how she creates her cut stories - and shares some of her art. I recommend her talk. (And I would love to travel around to see her installations!)

Talking about her Balloon Houses, she says "It's all if. So what if we were living in balloon houses? It would make a very uplifting world. And we would leave a very low footprint on the planet. It would be so light."

Here are three more pieces, from her talk, that I liked. This one is in a station in the south side of Chicago:

Seeds of the Future are Planted Today

This was on the subway in New York:

All Around Town

And finally, in Paris:

Rue des Prairies

Coron closes with this idea:
. . . everybody's a narrator, because everybody has a story to tell. But more important is everybody has to make a story to make sense of the world.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Not Just Legos

In May, we went with friends to the Grand Rapids Museum, to see the Lego Exhibit. I confess that the Lego display had limited appeal - it consisted of a number of famous buildings, recreated in white Legos. They were neat to look at, no doubt about it, but then what...?

Happily, there was lots more of interest at the museum. For one thing, there were Legos to build with, and the kids had a great time just playing there.

Z: Yes! Take my picture!

The Western Michigan LEGO Train Club built a model of Grand Rapids in the late 19th Century, which was very cool. It was fun to look for characters and landmarks:


This trolley traveled around the setup - very neat.

We wandered through other exhibits. The Newcomers exhibit told about the different ethnic groups (over 45!) that call Michigan home. The kids liked the habitat exhibits as well. Young J saw this owl and declared, "it's Jim!"


We came across some really large Legos, and of course had to build something with those as well:


And we had to ride the carousel:

J

K

L

We came upon this display as we were leaving - a piece of the Berlin Wall.



This is a picture of my young friend in his Link* outfit, which comprises this hat, the mitts he's wearing (he will, however, patiently explain that they are "gauntlets"), and also a sword and shield (which you can see in the pictures above). By the way, he is still wearing that hat, even though summer heat is upon us...

J in the persona of Link

The Grand Rapids Museum is worth a visit (or several)!



* Link, I am told, is a character in the video game Zelda:

Photo source

Gilmore Artists and Other Musicians

In May, we several performances during The Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Now in its 25th year, the festival has, since its inception, chosen seven Gilmore Artists, and thirty Gilmore Young Artists. The artists are chosen via a confidential selection process, and the awards are significant ($300,000 for the Gilmore Artist, and $15,000 for the Young Artists).

On January 8, the 2014 Gilmore Artist was announced: pianist Rafał Blechacz. The Gilmore site relates some of his accomplishments:
In 2005, Blechacz was named the uncontested winner of the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition – the first Polish musician to win the competition in 30 years. In addition, he was awarded First Prize as well as all the special prizes of the competition – a feat no other pianist has achieved. He has performed in Europe, Japan and North America to critical acclaim, and he has ensured himself a huge following among piano aficionados.
On May 6, Jim and I attended Blechacz's solo recital, at Chenery Auditorium. Of course he performed Chopin, with some Bach and Beethoven thrown in:
Bach: Partita No. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827
Beethoven: Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique”
Chopin: Nocturne in A-flat Major, Op. 32, No. 2
Chopin: Two Polonaises, Op. 40
Chopin: Three Mazurkas, Op. 63
Chopin: Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39
It was all amazing (though I confess a fondness for the Pathétique). It is hard to believe that we can hear such a wonderful musician, such fine piano music, right here in Kalamazoo.


Two days later, we attended another recital, this one presented by Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, one of this year's Gilmore Young Artists. He performed in Stetson Chapel, on the Kalamazoo College Campus.

Before the recital

This time, we went with Jess & Kevin, and their two oldest.

Kevin, Jess, Jim

K and L

I love the windows in Stetson Chapel

Sanchez-Werner performed these pieces:
Liszt: Vallée d’Obermann
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Beethoven: Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
Sanchez-Werner: Chasing Serenity – first performance
Chopin: Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, Op. 61
Rachmaninoff: Moments musicaux, Op. 16, No. 1 in B-flat Minor
Ravel: La valse
Afterwards, he graciously chatted with K & L - he confessed that he started playing "in his early two's". And on our way out, we met his mother, who was equally charming. (Young K was much more comfortable chatting with the mother, than with Sanchez-Werner!)


With all this piano talk, I am reminded that back on April 3, I attended a student recital, where K and L both performed. Unfortunately, I only have a picture of L's flute-playing:

L and Annette

Plenty of good music to go around, here in Kalamazoo!

Friday, June 27, 2014

More Beautiful Things

Continuing the theme of the previous post, here are more photos. Last winter was so cold, for so long, that spring was sweeter than usual, with lots of images to savor in old age.

I love the color of willows in the spring

Our house (May 7)

Beautiful sky, beautiful tree

Jess and I took Bonnie for a walk at Asylum Lake on a splendid May day:

Asylum Lake

Bonnie, enjoying her stroll

A happy dog, in the car going home

Closer to home:

North end of Frays Park

A round dandelion, like a fuzzy ball

Mom told me that the dogwood blossom was reminiscent of Christ's crucifixion - the four petals shaped like a cross; the tips colored with blood from his hands and feet.

I always think of Mom when I see a dogwood.

Dogwoods in Friendship Village

Our house again (May 18);
the leaves have made remarkable progress

Woods by Friendship Village, in the evening light

Invasive, but pretty, and very much a sign of spring

Also pretty - no idea what this is
"The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson