An FO. A CO. And a little sleet, ice and snow…

We made to our farm in time to carry plenty of wood onto the porch and snuggle in. Winters storms in our very rural locale usually signal isolation, not something I’m opposed to personally. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter who dances inwardly with glee at the prospect of limited outside chores and long hours beside the wood stove.
I expected to finish my Fiore di Malanzana and begin my Laminaria so I was well prepared with the necessities of life – I mean my knitting necessities.
Tuesday afternoon I finished my Fiore di Melanzana – then literally danced around the house! This shawl is good knitting mojo. I felt I could accomplish anything – I was soaring!!
What’s a knitter to do? After a hike down to the creek and around the north pasture I sat back down beside the stove with a cup of hot tea and cast on my Laminaria. I’m using the green KAL cashmere/alpaca from The Knitting Goddess. This yarn is dreamy! When Chris wasn’t looking I couldn’t resist rubbing it against my cheek because it felt so soft in my hands.
Thursday had warmed up enough that the trees were shedding their ice with a lovely shattering of icicles all afternoon. The sun was bright so I grabbed my knitting and we took a few photos.
The Fiore di Melanzana photos are of the shawl pre-blocked. I’ll put it on the wires this weekend and take better photos next week. I’m in love with this shawl. It’s huge – but perfect to fling across the shoulders when I feel dashing and wild.
On the Laminaria I’d just finished the Star Chart. Finding a place to photograph it was a bit tricky – but the tractor bay was empty and the chains seemed like a perfect solution for holding the circular needle.





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Wow…

I just realized that my Fiore di Melanzana shawl is taller than I am – before the final hem – before blocking.
Wow….

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Golden

Here are a few quick pics of the Fiore di Melanzana from yesterday. I’m very pleased with this shawl! It’s big – really big. I have no idea how big it will be when I get it blocked..



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Bathroom with a view…


When you are building a house there is a monumental list of things to decide. There is a list of things that are “must haves”. There must be enough outlets. There must be plenty of counter space and cabinet space. Things you’ve gone without and always wanted.

In addition there is a list of things you love and want to continue enjoying. For me there also had to be a large bathroom window. I know that many people live in an urban environment where a large bathroom window seems like a very odd “must have”.

The current farmhouse, which will remain the “farmhouse”, has a standard bathroom window on the opposite wall from the showerhead. We have no curtain, on either the shower or the window, and therefore a grand view of the backyard and at longer range – the bluff beyond the lower pasture.

In the backyard hanging from the black walnut tree I have a birdfeeder. It’s one of those birdfeeders with a little wooden roof to keep the seed dry, and clear plexi-glass windows to easily view when the feeder needs to be refilled. Only in the fall and winter do I stock the feeder. On 250 acres of mostly wooded property one or two feeders is not going to have a great impact on the bird population. Abundant winter grass has more impact on their food sources than my meager offerings. What the feeder does provide is enjoyment and closer view of our fellow inhabitants.

It’s often mid-morning or late afternoon when I shower in the winter. Now I’ll say that’s due to outside labor but not always. It’s good to wait until the wood stove is roaring and the house is warmer too. But really, I like the timing of a mid-morning shower for the view.

The day is well begun when the Jays and Cardinals descend. I don’t know if it’s normal in the bird world but the males of both species are the dandies, the brightly colored and bossy gender. The males usually dine first, reminding me of my paternal grandparents. The men gathered around the table first in their subservient domesticity. They were the breadwinners (although not the bread-bakers) and therefore entitled to the first offerings. Decades and generations later this hierarchy is unfathomable in our western world. But even when I was a child it was unfathomable to my dear mother, Melba. Mom had no problems working hard in a hot kitchen, but her maternal instincts outweighed the pecking order. I don’t remember the event but I have heard the story often of my little spitfire mother standing firm at five foot and telling the men of the Bell clan that her kids were eating first. Melba is the sweetest woman around. Ask anyone who knows her, they’ll agree. I’d love to have seen her apron-clad and hands on hips or wagging a finger at the men as they towered over her wearing their overalls and heavy boots, setting them straight on who eats when.

Do the brownish-red female cardinals ever do this? Will they fly up to the feeder and chirp out a thrashing to those flashing red males sending them back to the bushes to scratch out a few berries or seeds? I keep watching and wondering…

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Questions

This week I was asked, “Where are you from?” because I wasn’t interested in watching the college football championship game. I had finished eating a nice meal in a local gastropub and was ready to leave – but the waitress was surprised that I wasn’t interested in joining the throng of revelers in red who circled the bar areas and occasionally glanced up to the TV’s to catch the score or watch the replays. During my meal I’d been happily entertained with the book I’d brought. (Middlemarch if you care to know.) Football is a big thing in Oklahoma. It means zipola to me however. No I don’t quite fit in.

This week I was asked where I went to school. Really? I’m almost fifty. Honestly, I realize that when someone asks this they are trying to find common ground. But common ground doesn’t need to be found in ancient history, does it? For me discussing high school brings up frustration, vexation, and memories of not fitting in. I’ve discovered that invariably it is people who enjoyed those years that ask the question. Not that they are living in the glory days necessarily. It’s a way of categorizing. Where we in the same place at the same time? Did we know the same people? Did we experience the same rights of passage?

Sadly, no. We didn’t. I always cringe when I’m asked this question. No you didn’t go to the same high school at the same time I did or we’d know each other. It was that small.

For some people a small town school is a great thing. You can be a big fish in a small pond. But if the pond is too small there is little room for individuality and growth. Small ponds offer few opportunities to anyone other than the big fish. And I’m not even certain they offer much to the big fish beyond the rocky shore.

All this talk of ponds is a bit nauseating; the town in question is actually on a lake. The primo reason my parents moved there. The first day of school in sixth grade it was obvious I’d taken a few steps backwards. I hadn’t known, or would have ever imagined it necessary, to bring a nickel extra for chocolate milk after second recess. Second recess? Chocolate milk? Yep. That was easy enough to remedy the second day but I never really found my groove. Sitting in the same classroom all day wasn’t something I’d done for three years and seemed a bit boring not to mention smacking of immaturity. Junior high was only months away – everything would even out then I told myself. But little changed. The classes I had expected in junior high wouldn’t be available until high school, if at all. Even then, options were narrow. Narrow options leave little room for learning about the world, or finding out who you are.

I went to college unprepared by the small school I’d attended. A town without a library, and parents without curiosity did little to help. I sat in a college class and wondered who Dante was, and why I’d never heard of most of the books that the rest of the kids had read. I wasn’t prepared and I couldn’t catch up.

What I’ve realized over the years since then is that it is up to me to be interested in the world. I read now more than most people I know. I travel, I ask questions. I rarely ask where someone went to high school.

What people are doing now is more interesting that high school. I enjoy when people ask what I’m reading or knitting. How is the farm going? Or the new house? All current events.

Last year we were at Living Kitchen for dinner with a table full of mostly strangers. The only couple we knew was our friends Carissa and Carston. Carston is an interesting and very bright man. A soft talker too. At a table full of new people he asked the most wonderful conversation starter of a question of a man near him. “What are you passionate about?”

Cut to the chase. Forget finding common ground. Learn about people. Carston was genius. This seemingly mild mannered stranger was passionate about building wells for fresh drinking water in underdeveloped nations. Would we have ever had this conversation if Carston hadn’t asked such an open question?

What would I say if someone asked me – what are you passionate about? It could change daily.

Family and friends – sure. Too easy.

Going deeper I’d talk about how much the yarn I’m knitting a lace shawl looks like a pasture of winter grass in Oklahoma. (You thought I wasn’t going to get around to knitting, didn’t you?) Each row holds stitches of yellows so pale they are almost white, golds, and yellow greens, yellows within a breath of being orange. Soft beautiful merino wool the colors of winter grass. I love this shawl so much and I can’t wait to wrap it around my body. How can I not be passionate about that? I may still not fit in but it’s more revealing than where I went to high school.

SAME DAY POST SCRIPT
Passion burns bright. So does that tall golden winter grass. Christopher’s father just called from the farm and we had a fire – five acres of pasture burned up in the high country, along with the farm truck.

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Edge a little closer now…

It’s a beautiful sunny day in Tulsa. What am I doing though? I’m working on the edging of my Fiore di Melanzana. Truth is I’m recovering from a cold or allergy fest or somesuch. I’ve been coughing like a smoker with a two pack habit and it feels like someone heavy is sitting on my chest.
So I’m knitting instead of enjoying the sun (and wind).

But I do have some pretty pictures to show for my efforts.

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