Art

Not so new art installed

After a four month wait, we were quite excited to experience supply chain improvements with a November rather than a February delivery of our Stressless™ recliner.  But then came the real challenge – what art to hang where as the seating configuration in that corner of the living room no longer resembled what had been.  Having quickly discovered the comfy leisureliness of an afternoon nap, the empty space necessary for the recliner to do its thing – that is recline – simply demanded to be filled.  As it turns out, the right piece of art was hanging in the closet.

In September 2006, we drove to Knoxville, Tennessee to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary.  This family occasion also included a visit to the Knoxville Museum of Art located in the World’s Fair Park.  With a diverse collection, the museum “focuses on the rich culture, old and new, of the Southern Appalachians” and the museum’s perquisite gallery shop provided an eclectic sampling of local artists’ work.  While I had packed appropriately for all of the various anniversary festivities, I found a beautiful woven stole –the perfect wardrobe upgrade for the celebratory dinner.  The loosely woven wool shawl includes shimmering gold thread, a trio of silk ribbons running the entire length, and Czech crystal bead embellishments.  

Due to its size (21 inches x 96 inches) and its elegant structure, I tended to save it for special occasions like my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary, Minnesota’s sesquicentennial celebrations at the Capitol when I presented Governor Pawlenty with two sesquicentennial flags that had flown over the state’s public libraries or library meetings when power dressing sent the correct message.  I never imagined my 2006 purchase would offer a complementary color palette in our renovated space, as well as provide an acoustical benefit in a room with a new red birch hardwood floor.  The shawl that was safely tucked away amidst layers of tissue paper is now installed as art.

Spirituality

All Souls: Sunday Reflection (a tad late)

Yesterday, as I sat in a pew of an old Lutheran church nestled among recently harvested rolling fields, I hummed along as my friend sat at the organ and played For All the Saints.  I reflected back a week to our All Souls service.  In the days leading up to All Souls Day, Richard and I toted five pots of marigolds to church.  In the spring, small seedlings had been planted in hopes of warding off nibbling critters while anchoring the corners of our garden; they provided brilliant color throughout the summer; and then, with frost warnings forecasted, these hardy plants were transplanted into pots and moved under grow-lights to thwart the season’s chill just so the bright blossoms could render one last service scattered among a hundred clear glass votive lights on our Altar of All Souls – a visible symbol of remembrance to honor our ancestors.

I believe it says a lot about who we are as individuals, as a church community, as a society, in how we honor our dead.  In our ever more hectic, every day world with corporate-driven practices that define grief in HR policy and relegate just three days for sorrow before it is back to business as usual, there is a lot to learn from studying the traditions of other cultures.

In the Romany graveyards of Eastern Europe, nestled next to gold domed, centuries-old churches and scattered among the headstones of family plots there are often elaborate gazebos built with permanent tables and benches that provide regular gathering places.  When family and friends come together they bring their tastiest culinary treats, a portion to be enjoyed among the living and a portion left for the spirits.  Flowing with the libations are the shared memories which braid together the stories of the departed and the lives of the next generation.

In her poem, Into Every Conversation, Carrie Newcomer writes:

Into every conversation,
At least those that matter,
I carry my stories like a book
Tucked under my arm or secured deep in my heart.
A forward written by the ancestors,
Side notes and commentary in the margins, 
Written by mentors, tormentors, and friends.

Not that we should walk lock-step in the beliefs of our ancestors because that would render us unable to see injustice and work for change; unable to recognize inequity and dream of the possibility of a different world.  Rather, in remembering those who have come before us, we need to build on our heritage bringing together the good news and those parts in need of transformation.

Last Sunday, we lit candles for those whose memories live in our hearts.  At a time when the old tales speak of “the thin veil between worlds” – of All Hallows Eve and All Souls Day – it was good that we gathered and remembered.  It was good that we spoke aloud the names of those who have died.  And, having been heard by family and friends and even strangers we acknowledged those individuals.  In the words of the poet we continued to “carry our stories like a book tucked under our arms or secured deep in our hearts.”

Knitting

My Busy Needles

handknit blue shawl with contracting cream colored bands and lace edge
Apple Cart Shawl using Rustic Silk in Niagara Falls and Cape Cod colorways

The word of the day:  précisa shortened version of a speech or written report containing main points and omitting minor details is apropos for this Finished Object Friday (FOF) as I am providing a partial update of what has come off my needles since May.

The most recent project ready to be mailed is the second of two Apple Cart Shawls which features contrasting bands of color, with just enough texture to keep the design interesting.  Both shawls were knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk making them versatile wardrobe additions perfect for Minnesota summer evenings or any time of the year in warmer climes.  This design is one of three in a new series from Marie Greene’s stash buster collection.  Each of the titles in this pattern trio start with A and, from recent reports, the B threesome will be released very soon.

close up of hand knit pick shawl with contracting cream colored bands and lace edge
Apple Cart Shawl using Rustic Silk in Rosenberg and Cape Cod colorways

I commandeered the Ruffled Shawlette for my recent Massachusetts Pilgrimage.  It provided a lovely, dress-up accent for evening dinners and offered a hint of protection in over-zealous air conditioned rooms.  This was also knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk.  It is small, easy to pack and (most important for the well-dressed traveler) wrinkle free.  If you are looking for this kerchief pattern, check out 22 Little Clouds by Martina Behm. 

handknit blue kerchief on wooden hanger
Ruffled Shawlette using Rustic Silk in Graceland

The Mallory Shawl by Heidi Hennessy features a delicate lattice that flows from the tip of the triangle to a wide ribbed base.  Knit using ethically sourced Merino wool from Uruguay, the slightly variegated green tones compliment the interconnecting cables.  The luxurious wrap, perfect for chilly winter days, was a WIP (work-in-progress) from March to September and became my go-to project between other creations. 

handknit green shawl with interconnecting cables twisted throughout
Mallory Shawl using Malabrigo Sock in a Kris colorway

A Suri and silk cowl with a complimentary headband were my first foray into working with lace weight yarn, something that I had shied away from simply due to the super fine nature.  However, in the interest of honest reporting, I did hold the Naturel and Rubia colorways double thus technically making a blended fingering weight mix. The Cooler Side of Warm cowl is designed by Espace Tricot, “a modern knitting shop in Montreal”.

Happy knitting!

handknit coral colored cowl on wooden hanger
Cooler Side of Warm cowl with blended Naturel & Rubia colorways
Knitting

Purplish

Say purple and Minnesota Vikings’ purple and gold might come to mind and, I would add, not my favorite color combo.  Yet, when I learned of the Colour Challenge (and, yes, colour is spelled correctly as the challenge originators are from Yorkshire and Canada!) I thought of the amount of purple perennials in my garden; purplish accents in our living room; once upon a time, a favorite pair of shoes; most recently, a purple streak in my hair as a “wild and crazy” homage to my 70th birthday; and one dare not check my knitting project page or my yarn stash. 

Celebrate purplish!

Written in response to SueW’s & GC’s Weekly Prompts Colour Challenge – Purplish

Spirituality

“You Can Do This Hard Thing”

Last month, I faced a hard task.  Hard, not in the sense of strenuous work or tough negotiations; not climbing a mountain or training for a marathon or anything else that could really be deemed difficult.  No, it was hard because I was not ready.  It was hard because I simply did not want to do it.  Likewise, my first attempt at this post was so “Wendy Whiner-ish” that I had to set it aside. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment. I just didn’t know when or from whom that inspiration might come.

You can do this hard thing, 
You can do this hard thing
It's not easy I know but
I believe that it's so
You can do this hard thing.

When Richard received his Parkinson’s Disease (PD) diagnosis on July 23 last year, my first, librarian-like reaction was to dig into the research.  I relied on Mayo’s website for my introduction; I joined the Parkinson’s Foundation’s online community which generates lots of helpful emails on a regular schedule; I even downloaded the 174 page care-giver’s guide.  I think that is what stymied me.  I wanted the Cosmo version of a guide.  I wanted 10 easy steps to understanding a complicated, incurable disease or 10 easy strategies to supporting without smothering.  I did not want; I could not handle 174 pages.  I reverted to learning by osmosis – simply observing the changes I saw or listening to what Richard was discovering since he was doing the hard work of research.  I did give PD a new name.  In my head this progressive disorder that affects the nervous system became FD – that F*****g Disease.

Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines
Impossible just takes
A little more time

This past weekend, I had the special privilege to spend time with Carrie Newcomer , a musican and songwriter the Boston Globe describes as a “prairie mystic.”  As I served as chauffeur between hotel and church, sat through a rehearsal and sound checks, enjoyed a concert and particpated in two Sunday morning services at which Carrie and her accompanist, Gary Waters, were the featured musicians, Carrie’s poignant stories, inspirational lyrics, and haunting melodies jumpstarted my attitude adjustment.  I felt I could step away from selfish introspective, from frustrated inability to “fix” the problem and into the simple acknowledgement that Richard and I will continue to adapt and manage.

Knitting

Knitting Plans – so much yarn, so little time

Even as my head is full of possibilities having just completed the 3-day, Knit Camp at the Coast, VIP retreat with Marie Greene, I am planning ahead for those frigid days when the garden is in its winter rest.  As a means of continuing my knitting immersion, I registered for the 2022 Have a Ball Fall Crawl and several Fireside Chats.  These virtual activities were created in 2020 as our world went into pandemic lockdown and local yarn stores (LYS) scrambled to stay afloat.  Even as brick-n-mortar sales picked up, shop owners had discovered these online events were an engaging marketing technique.  Through the wonder of Zoom, local and distant customers could be brought together with far-flung resources which generated sales and kept ledgers in the black.

The five-day Fall Crawl will feature 28 LYSs located in the U.S. and Canada including several that I frequent often – Yarnology in Winona and 3 Kittens in Mendota Heights (always a regular stop anytime I am on my way to St. Paul); several that I only know as online vendors like Knot Another Hat in Hood River, Oregon, as well as shops that are on my wish list of places to visit like Stash in Charlotte, NC (hopefully as part of November 2023 plans to attend Verse & Vino – that library’s major fundraiser).  Each participating shop will have 45-minutes to showcase its specialties, share locally designed patterns, and offer discounted sales.  Plus, there are will be prizes just for participating!

The Fall 2022 Fireside Chats will connect Zoom participants and designers from California to Denmark, Uruguay to Maine and beyond.  The various creators will share the story of their unique fiber journeys, showcase favorite techniques, and describe their latest creative ventures.  There will be time for Q&A, pattern discounts, and (yes) more prizes.

Happy Knitting!

Spirituality

Wide Arrival: Sunday Reflection

two white row boats pulled up onto a shore line with tall green marshy grass and mist hanging in the air

A fundamental question was raised during last week’s sermon.  A question appropriate to living our individual lives as we continue to navigate the details of re-gathering amidst viruses and variants (and move into what is predicted to be a virulent flu season) and especially poignant for a welcoming congregation:

“How are we making a wide arrival?  Enough space for all our grief, our stories, our uncertainties; how to find passageways of life in this changed and changing world?”

Admittedly, in the Hutton household and, I am sure, at your house too in these nearly but not quite post-Covid days some tasks are easier to navigate than others.  Some days we find ourselves almost back to a routine that feels comfortable like a well-worn flannel shirt on a cool September day or going to church on Sunday morning.  But then we arrive in that sacred space and see smiling masked faces and we must admit it is the same but different. 

In the midst of these ambiguous days, Richard and I decided we would add more uncertainty to our daily life.  Since July, our house has been in some form of disarray due to three (count them – 3) renovation projects.  Just to be clear, all of the work has been undertaken by choice and not a crisis with our nearly 100 year old house – built in 1925 and moved in ’27.  All the work is being done so that we might continue to “age gracefully in place.”

Last Sunday’s homiletic imagery of drifting on the water, anchored, but with a shifting shoreline accurately described our days.  Carpenters arriving on a date set two months earlier – anchored.  Getting a call late Friday that the team of painters and plasterers would arrive early the next week – definitely felt like bobbing on choppy water as we scrambled to move all of the furniture from four rooms, take our eclectic collection of art off the walls, and remove all the electric faceplates.  

Knowing our renovations were close to completion but with more work still to be done, I arrived at church last Sunday and felt anchored as we poured our collected water tributes into the large blue bowl and music rang joyfully. Anchored again this morning seeing familiar faces and welcoming new members as we make “a wide arrival”.

Photo credit: iStock

Other items of interest

13 minutes & it’s gone

bentwood rocking chair sitting on green grass boulevard

Years ago, after my parents had purchased a new portable color-TV, Dad decided he would put the still working black-n-white on the curb.  Being Dad, he first made a wooden sign with a white painted background and large block letters spelling, FREE.  With the giveaway item and his new sign deposited at the end of the driveway, we sat down for dinner on the screened porch. Within four minutes, we heard a car stop and then drive away, leaving only the sign which, 50+ years later, Mom still uses sometimes.

This morning’s 7am curbside giveaway lasted a tad longer … all of 13 minutes.  I bought my “brodhead” rocker with going-away money gifted from my fellow teachers as I moved from being a school librarian in Brodhead, Wisconsin to my first post-MLS1 public library position in Columbus, Georgia.  This 1979 purchase was inspired by an Oval Office picture of John F. Kennedy sitting in his Bentwood rocker. 

This chair has gone from Wisconsin, to Georgia, to Illinois and, finally, to Minnesota.  It is well traveled and well used – but we are ready for a change.  With our new red-birch living room floor beautifully installed we are also replacing some of the furniture.  We have a Stressless™ leather recliner on order and so I bid adieu to my “brodhead” rocker.

1 University of Wisconsin – Madison, Masters of Library Science

Other items of interest

One more vendor

As our renovation project nears completion, we have painters and plasterers working in all but one first floor room. The two rooms (bathroom and upstairs bedroom) which are not getting painted are temporarily storing a large portion of the moved furniture and the safely tucked away art creating a sense of chaos throughout the house.  Then, add to this disarray a semantical difference between our expectations and the language of the price quote/work order and this has become the most challenging part of a project that began in May.  Through discussion and an upward movement of the price, all has been resolved and the windows, walls and the base board skirting the new red birch floor will look fresh.

corner of summer screened porch with a deck chair and a large plant

The exterior work was completed yesterday.  While we still have a white house, Forrest Green has replaced all of the three+ decades of Billybong Blue on the doors and windows, giving us a color combo very reminiscent of my Grandmother’s Vine Street house. The screened back porch (our favorite summer space) sports a white clean-up coat and with today’s gentle breeze and the wind chimes ringing, it has become our hideout from the plaster dust and paint fumes.