"Come, knit hands, and beat the ground,
in a light fantastic round." -- John Milton
Another fab example of yarnbombing, also known as yarn graffiti. I especially love the granny square bumper. To read more about this project, check out this article.
What will you do? I'm thinking we should take over a train car of the CTA. Wouldn't that be the sight as it rolled around the Loop?! Anyone in with me on it?
"A book is a part of life, a manifestation of life, just as much as a tree or a horse or a star. It obeys its own rhythms, its own laws, whether it be a novel, a play, or a diary. The deep, hidden rhythm of life is always there—that of the pulse, the heart beat." -- Henry Miller
I am a book glutton. I admit it. Every room in my house has at least a stack of books. Yesterday I stopped by my favorite Chicago book store and found this treasure of love stories edited by Diana Secker Tesdell. I simply had to buy it. The authors include such legends as Margaret Atwood, Roald Dahl, Kathterine Mansfield and Tobias Wolff. I could gobble it up in one sitting, but I'm measuring it out to a story a day until Valentine's, which just so happens to be my favorite holiday, date or no date.
Despite my book collection taking over all spare spaces within my home and studio, it is no where near the size of an antique book dealer I recently met. His collection includes over 50,000 titles. Can you imagine?! I was in heaven drifting from room to room as he decided on the value of several books I had brought him. He didn't have mere stacks in these rooms. Oh, no. He had floor to ceiling book shelves filled with gorgeous old books with leather bindings and delicious illustrations. Sigh. Yeah, it was definetly this gal's version of pure bliss, just through in some yarn, dark chocolate and a cappuccino and I would be set.
"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." -- Tom Brokaw
Meet Mary. She won't give you her exact age, she just says she's younger than God and older than me. Mary is one of the dozens of seniors I have met in the past year and a half of teaching an art class at two apartment buildings for seniors run by the Chicago Housing Authority.
This past November the class received the financial ax. The art center sponsoring the class had run out of funds for it. Though I understand, I find the solution unacceptable. These men and women have worked hard their entire lives and are receiving very little in return for all they have given our society. I can't let the class evaporate. They enjoy it too much. It's a rare time for them to socialize let alone to learn something new. And frankly speaking, I would miss them. These folks have a perspective on life that keeps me in check and has me laughing. So, I am volunteering my time and donating the supplies.
You can help too. Do you want to share your art with others? Come give a lecture. Do you have a giant yarn stash? Donate some of it for others to use. Art supplies crowding your studio? I know where they will be put to good use! Do you have a car and the time to help me form a field trip? These folks don't get out much as transportation services are limited. I haven't formed a non-profit, so I can't give you a donation letter for your taxes, but please know that any bit of time or material you donate will be greatly appreciated.
If you can help, have materials to donate, or otherwise want to send words of encouragement, leave a comment and I will soon get back to you.
In the meantime, here are some other great opportunities to give back to your community-
One Brick - an organization that hooks folks up for volunteer positions around Chicago. Give an hour or give a day.
Chicago Food Depository - Repack food supplies to family-sized units, volunteer in a pantry or soup kitchen, your help will feed others.
"The heart that truly loves never forgets." -- Proverb
Today marked the third month since Mom's death. I had plans to dine with a friend, but with the extreme cold, we thought it better to stay home. Cars get a bit iffy about starting when the temps are this extreme. For those of you not living in the relocated Artic Circle, formerly known as Chicago, it is currently -8 degrees Farenheit. That's a heat wave compared to the morning's chill of -26.
Anyway, I have been waiting for the right moment to watch Calendar Girls. I had given a copy of the film to Mom for her recovery after her operation for a pacemaker. She never got around to opening it. It wasn't personal. As I later learned, she never felt well enough to watch an entire movie. She'd fall asleep half way through a film, so she ended up watching only those films she had already seen.
Today seemed to be the perfect day to break open the box. If laughter is the best medicine for grief, then Emily and I had an overdose. Calendar Girls is charming, poignant, and outrageously funny. We sat bundled up, drinking loads of tea and eating bonbons wishing Mom was with us. Afterall, she had given me a copy of the original calendar on which the film was based. The movie was the perfect tribute, a way of living, laughing and remembering.
"I love snow, and all the forms
Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds and storms,
Which is Nature's, and may be
Untainted by man's misery."
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley
Snow, snow, and more snow. This winter my dear city has broken all previous city records for snow accumulation. Though Mr. Shelley's sentiment is lovely, I do believe the man was nuts. Snow is very much causing this woman's misery.
Other than moving, there is little I can do to change the circumstances, so here is my small attempt to make peace with the weather. I give you my list of 10 things to do when radiant frost is freezing your bippey.
The obvious (at least for me) -
Knit. Knit hats. Knit mittens. Knit scarves. Knit snowflakes. This is the time to try out that pattern you bought last summer.
For dashes of green -
Plant a few paper white bulbs and revel in their delicious blossoms.
In the kitchen -
Make hot chocolate. For a twist, add a dash of Fra Angelica liqueur. Yum!
Bake your way through Martha Stewart's cookie cookbook.
Share the cookies with your neighbors.
In the library -
Read your way through an entire detective series - I am currently enjoying my mother's anthology of Sherlock Holmes.
Or mentally escape snow and read a fab travel memoir. Ooh, la, la!
And even outdoors -
Help our feathered friends and hang a bird feeder.
Take a walk in the park or forest preserve. Or in my case, downtown.
Smile and watch others smile back at you.
"Earth laughs in flowers." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other evening I received a call from a friend down under. When death first occurs in a family, friends and others gather round offering condolences, bringing this and that casserole, and artfully arranging vases of flowers. But soon the casseroles are eaten and the flowers have wilted and you the griever are left wondering what's next.
For the past three months my time has been divided between Chicago and St. Louis. I've been so busy tying up loose ends with Mom's estate that when I finally could slow down, I was at a loss.
Phone calls are wonderful. I've become so dependent on email, that I forget how comforting it is to hear the voice of a friend. Ruth's call came out of the blue and was much appreciated. We talked about Mom. We talked about gardening. We talked about ourselves being moms. We talked and talked.
In many cultures there is an honoring of the deceased that occurs a year after the death. I think it is a lovely tradition. Grieving is a process that doesn't have a time limit. I no longer cry at unexpected moments, but I do feel a great sorrow that I don't think will ever fully dissipate.
I'm not religious in the traditional sense of church going with knees folded in prayer, but I am what you may call spiritual. I can't provide answers for all of life's mysteries. So rather than mark each anniversary in silent supplication, Friday, the third month since Mom's passing, I will purchase a beautiful bouquet of flowers and call a friend. Scratch that - I'll have dinner with one.
"Home is where the heart is and hence a movable feast." -- Angela Carter
Yesterday I left my mother's house for the last time. It was the house where I grew up. I knew its every knook and cranny, every sound, and every quirk. But without Mom, it ceased to be home.
I thought leaving would be hard, but I was ready. I'd spent 5 weeks over the last 2 1/2 months cleaning, sorting, packing and shipping. I had to make endless decisions about my family's and my past. Do I keep my favorite doll? Which china should I send to Stokley? Do I sell the antique books read by ancestors long since past or put them in the estate sale? Will they even sell?
Home is definitely in Chicago. Though I wish family were closer, it is where my life is now entrenched. I don't visit Chicago, I live here.
"The very pink of perfection." -- Oliver Goldsmith
I have color crushes. This past month it's been pink. I find myself attracted to all things pink from yarn to sparkling wine. Pink is the "it" color for me.
In a recent discussion on the subject of my color-crush-du-jour I learned that pink was once associated with males. Pink represents the Sacred Heart of the Catholic faith, while blue was associated with females as it is the color closely associated with the Virgin Mary.
Pink is everywhere. There are of course musical groups such as Pink, Pink Floyd, and Pink So What. There are the movies Pink Cadillac and Pink Panther. And have you ever had beet risotto? Guess what color it is?! Yep, a very delicious shade of pink.