26 September 2011

The Dangers of Words on a Page

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read, loved words, letters, names.  There were always books and magazines in our house, as both of my parents were avid readers.  As a kid, I hardly read any books for children, since there just weren't that many on the shelves at home.  In school, I could borrow books from the library, but I was often frustrated because they were too short - I'd be finished by bedtime, and we only went to the school library once a week.

I remember that I was the only one in third grade who had read Silas Marner - not that I necessarily understood all of the layers of the story, but I got the gist  of it.  Teachers were always a little suspicious of me and what I would say that I was reading/had read.

My parents never told me that I couldn't or shouldn't read something.  I would like to think that it was because they knew that if something was forbidden, it might be that much more appealing.  But to be honest, I think they just figured that I'd decide for myself if something was stupid/upsetting/interesting/shocking/whatever.  And there were truly all kinds of books and magazines around - trust me.

I remember during the summer between 5th and 6th grade, I looked forward to the bookmobile that came every Tuesday.  One week, I had a few books, and one was some kind of fairy tale.  They wouldn't let me check it out because I wasn't "old enough."  It was the first time I had ever been told I wasn't allowed to read something, for any reason, and I was completely stunned.  When I told my mother, she said she would go with  me the next week and check out the book for me.  She thought the whole thing was just "so da**ed ridiculous!"

Later I would meet other people who were not allowed to read certain things as a child or even as a teenager, because their parents, or someone else in charge, didn't approve.  And it never ceases to amaze me that someone else's decision might mean I can't read something and decide for myself how I feel about it.

Words are powerful.  Put together in a sentence, they can actually express an idea. Plenty of people do not like ideas if they are not in tune with their own.  Some of those people feel that it is their responsibility and duty to make sure that none of us read these ideas.  Or are exposed to fantastical stories.  Or have the chance to learn about human biology.  Or appreciate a world that is part of our past, or completely outside of our own experiences and cultural beliefs.

Have you ever read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck?  What about In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak?  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini?  The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman?  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

If you answered "yes" to any of these, you should be careful.  The titles above and many others have been challenged as inappropriate for one reason or another, and have been requested to be removed from library shelves.  Curious?  Look through some of these lists, and you may find out that you are quite a bit more radical than you thought you were.

It's Banned Books Week.  Read.  Think.  Be subversive.

20 September 2011

Long Ago and Far Away ...

Here's another Ten on Tuesday that sounded like fun:

 10 Headlines From the Year You Were Born

I don't know how "headline-y" these are, but they are the ten that most interested/amused me.

1.  January 16 - Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser vows to reconquer Palestine.

2. February 23 - Norma Jean Mortenson legally changes her name to Marilyn Monroe.

3.  March 15 - the Broadway musical "My Fair Lady" opens in New York City.

4.  April 27 - Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retires without losing a professional match.

5.  June 29 - President Dwight Eisenhower signs The Federal Highway Act, creating the Interstate Highway System.

6.  September 9 - Elvis Presley appears on "The Ed Sullivan Show" for the first time.

7.  October 29 - "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" debuts on NBC.

8.  November 3  - "The Wizard of Oz" makes its TV debut on CBS.

9.  The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded.

10.  March 14 - I am born (this was likely a headline in my family!), thus making this blog post possible.

(Yeah, I'm old.  But I'm just glad that there were no headlines from my birth year  like "Humans Discover Fire" ...)

17 September 2011

It Never Gets Old

Oh Phillies, how I love thee!

National League East Champions - 5 years in a row!!

10 September 2011

A Regular Day

Today was a pretty regular Saturday.  Slightly different, in that I got my hair cut early in the day, and needless to say, I don't do that every week.  But it was otherwise a day of running errands, a few chores, watching a movie, fixing and eating dinner.  With an evening that will likely involve watching a movie or some other recorded show, and/or reading and/or knitting.  Tomorrow should be a pretty usual Sunday.  Breakfast, a start to laundry, and then the bulk of the day working at Rosie's.

My life is fairly routine, when you come down to it, as I imagine most lives are.  Very few people - at least that I know - have something exciting, different, or life-changing happen to them every day.  Like most other people, I often wish my life had more going on.  Then something has a drastic effect on my routine, and suddenly I appreciate a regular day, a regular life.

How many of us get up every single day, and embrace and appreciate every single moment?  All of us would like to I daresay, but routine gives us a false sense of security, and none of us are perfect, so we get tired, annoyed, forgetful, and a lot of the time just hope we can get through any given day without any serious problems.

Thousands of people spent September 10, 2001 doing the usual, the routine, the non-extraordinary.  They got up on September 11, 2001 and expected the same from the day, as a matter of fact were prepared for just that.  Husbands, wives, children, siblings, friends, may or may not have said goodbye that morning in a conscious fashion, giving each other their full attention and making sure to say "I love you."  And there shouldn't have been any reason for it to have been other than a regular day.

We all know that it wasn't, not for any of us.  And even if we are able to go forward with our lives, falling once again into our routines, the date will remind us again every year to stop and remember.  And pray.  And be grateful.  And most of all, to be hopeful.  Because hope is what gets us up in the morning to face another regular day.

Moving forward doesn't mean we don't care, or that we have forgotten.  It means that life goes on for us, the living.  Regardless of the date, every day we have to get up, get moving, and if we are lucky, remember that we are still here to do so.  And for all of the tragedy associated with the date of September 11, in any given year - including 2001 - there are those for whom it was one of the best days of their lives.  People were born, people got a dream job, bought a house, fell in love.  They have every right to celebrate, and should not have to apologize for it.

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.  Our lives are not the same, no matter who we are or where we live.  And each of us should pause for at least a few moments to say a prayer of thanks and remembrance, even to miss someone near and dear to us.  I don't believe that we should feel any obligation to be sad the entire day, even if everyone else around us does seem to be.

Some things cannot be, and should not be, forgotten.  But nothing should keep us from remembering to live.  Because life is precious, even if it's not always exciting.

And that's what I learned for the millionth time - in a way I could have never imagined, and hope to never experience again - ten years ago.

I still have hope.  And I think you should, too.

06 September 2011

Back to Ten on Tuesday!

Yep, it's been a while since I participated.  Mostly because I was busy with other stuff, and didn't make the time.  Sometimes the topics didn't really "speak" to me, but this one definitely does!

The topic for this week:

10 Things You Want to Knit this Fall/Winter

Now, I've got about 85 things I want to knit, and surely I could start some of them this Fall/Winter.  But you know what?  There are plenty of things that I've wanted to knit, and are underway.  So I'm putting them at the top of the list ... or maybe they will be the list, I don't know.  Let's see ...

1.  Adventskalendar

I started this in early January 2009, figuring I'd have it ready for that Christmas.  I'm slightly more than 50% finished, and I have a whole three months, so I really want to finish it.  And I think it's "aged" enough, don't you?

2.  A scarf, cowl, and hat that are currently secrets, as they are Christmas gifts.
I have the scarf started, and they are going to be for THIS Christmas (see #1).  Because they are for a single family, I'm counting them as a single project.

(Ravelry link)

I started this late last year, ripped it out when I saw I'd made a huge mistake, and then started it again in January 2011.  I put it aside because I've gotten to a complicated part which I wasn't certain I understood. But you know what?  It didn't finish knitting itself for me - go figure.  I need to either figure it out, or find someone to help me, and finish it.  I love the pattern and the yarn, and think I would love the finished sweater.

I started these in June, and was sailing along until I got to the heel, which threw me for a loop.  Finally, a month later, I e-mailed Courtney, the designer, and was assured it was just a heel I hadn't seen before (Dutch heel).  These are very nearly done.  They are supposed to be for The Tim, and I would like to have them sooner rather than later.  If all else fails, by his BD in November.

5.  Narrangansett

Started this earlier this summer, and got to a point where I was not sure what to do next.  The answer is to do the same thing as I need to do with the Mallard Sweater (#3).  I won't be wearing it even if I finish it over the winter, but it would sure be nice to have it ready to wear next spring!

6.  Shetland Triangle

I started this in October 2010, since I was told by more than one person that it was a great first lace project.  Grrrr.  I keep having problems with stitch counts and am apparently the only person unable to "read" my knitting.  But I am determined to finish it, as the ones I have seen are so pretty, and it would be a great layering piece.

7.  Snuggle

I started a blanket with some cheapo acrylic to send to a shelter for homeless animals.  I'm more than halfway finished, so I should really finish it so some sweet animal can have its own blankie.

(Ravelry link)

OK, this is not a wip, but rather something I bought and wound the yarn to make, and then realized the instructions had you starting to knit the legs two at a time on circular needles, like some people knit socks.  I've never even tried that, so I stopped short.  But I would love to make her!

9.  Hat of my own design

I want to try and design a hat for myself.  I bought two skeins of yarn last year specifically to use in a hat.  I have a couple of ideas, but am not sure if any are currently doable in my brain.  I'll keep you posted on this one ...

(Ravelry link)

This one I started at the Dawn of [My Knitting] Time, not realizing that it was over my head.  Not that it's complicated, just that I have trouble with stitch counts and chart-reading, and once again, cannot "read" my knitting very well, if at all.  (See #6. Another grrrr.)  But it's a beautiful shawl, and I am determined to finish and wear it some day.  I even frogged a lot of it a while back to where I didn't think it looked right, so that when it is finally finished, I'll be pleased with all of it.

BTW, sorry for a lack of photos.  Flickr has once again changed the way it provides links, and every time I try to link to one of my photos, Blogger tells me the link is invalid.  (The photos that are here are from my computer's files.)  

Any suggestions from any of you who have made it this far on how to get pictures to appear would be very much appreciated!   (Grrrr indeed.)

Well, there they are.  I will be amazed and ecstatic if I can even get 50% of the knitting above accomplished.  Stay tuned!

04 September 2011

Labor Day Weekend

I've been out of school for approximately 82 years, but Labor Day weekend still makes me think of a fresh start.  This year, instead of new notebooks and sharpened pencils, I've been trying to pay attention to things that need to be done, or that I've thought I could work on this weekend.  Some are small things (put away plastic food containers piled up on the top of the microwave), some things only I'll notice (taking some shoes I haven't worn in years and putting them in a box to take to Goodwill or wherever), and then there is one big thing I'm hoping to do:  clean up the computer/stash/sewing/other room in our house.  If I can get even a small start, I'll consider it a good sign.

I'm guessing we are not the only ones with such a room in our house - you know, the one that is easily the most out of sight of anyone, where it's convenient to leave things to be "dealt with later."  Then all of a sudden, you can barely make your way through it, and well, forget actually finding anything!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought one of those cubbyhole-organizer type things, with the idea that I could organize my stash there.  Meaning that I would be able to actually SEE what I have, and [in theory] not buy a lot more until I'd made space by actually knitting some of it!  I put the organizer thing together last weekend, and set it where I want it to go, and then quit.  I'd just had it, and the thought of even organizing it made me want to harm someone (other than myself).

So that, my friends, is how I'll be spending Labor Day.  The Tim has to work during the day, so I'm going to try and really work on my stash and that room.  I figure if I start early in the morning, and give myself permission to take a couple of small breaks, I'll make a dent, even if I have intensive snooper-vision from Jetsam and Pip.  My ultimate goal is for the room to be nice-looking and actually usable!  I have decided that it must be entirely finished by the end of November.  Since we wrap holiday packages in there, it needs to have available space.  

The fact that it is supposed to be rainy tomorrow will only help with my plan.  And then I'll make a picnic-y dinner for us to have, so we'll still get to have a little Labor Day celebration.

Is it weird that I'm really looking forward to all of this?  'Cause I am.

Here's hoping that your Labor Day is as nice as you are hoping it will be.