Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The yellow cap

It is for her son, in a mustard yellow that reminds him of Israel.

It started simply enough, a small band of ribbing around the bottom, as her husband drove her to the airport to visit her daughter in Florida, the first week of this new year. You can see where she has knitted evenly and purposefully, up to the place where decreases need to begin to shape the top of the cap.

An inch into the shaping and she received the call. Her beloved sister, the one she speaks with every day across thousands of miles to Israel, has suddenly and without warning left this life.

She has not cried. She has sat shiva for a week and returns, throws the cap at me, says, “Fix it.”

The cap’s knitting struggles and succumbs to a jumble of I-don’t-know-what-to-do stitches, purl stitches where there should be knit, shaping abandoned entirely, gathered, sewn down, harsh, a giant flat-felled seam of four layers of lumped-up wool. I find the end and begin to salvage it, but discover stitches split beyond repair, damaged yarn: disregard, disarray, and chaos. Wool in fallout.

I begin cutting with small scissors. I use a friend’s head to make sure the cap will fit; I knit it to the very top, clip the yarn, pull the end through those eight waiting loops, to a beautifully finished star.

I leave the tapestry needle, threaded, in the inside of the cap. She will wend the final end through loops on the inside, invisibly, and the cap is still her work, her gift. And on the head of her son, it will remember.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Embrace uniqueness

I was just standing in the kitchen removing pith from four Hand of Buddha citrons while the Pane Acido di Semola was in its last minutes of baking, and the question popped into my relatively unoccupied mind:

Is there anyone else in the world who is doing exactly what I'm doing right now?

Got me. It's all a bunch of chaos theory in motion. But probably not.

The bread turned out beautifully, the citron will be leaching for at least two days, and now I will tuck into a book by Achebe and a bit of knitting as I close my day ("Things Fall Apart", just in case anyone would like to join me and rid me of my notions of uniqueness). My hands smell wonderful. Like the old Jean Nate, only better.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Latest Poem

Today I thought I lost them

It was getting dark, and no kids.
I had sent them outside to play
and they know to come in before dark
and to not go where I can’t see them
and not to talk to strangers
or get into strange cars.

But it was getting dark, and no kids.
I walked and drove the block – no kids.
I yelled in the back yard – no response.
That voice began in the back of my brain
and yet, I felt they were safe somewhere.
Even their bikes were home.

Finally I stood in the dark house,
centered, that panic grabbing me
and the thoughts of calling police
and my God, what would I say to their dad?
I wailed for my eldest son, desperately, loudly,
and I heard his reply.

They had sneaked back into the house
and put themselves to bed, perfectly quiet,
completely covered by their blankets,
ears stoppered to my yelling with sleep.
I stood looking at them, dumbfounded,
no sane response.

I won’t dwell on where my mind had gone.
Shots, treatments, anguish, surgeries, years,
cannot have more, and no longer have each other.
I won’t focus on how my life revolves around
these two small and wonderful souls.
I will just live gratefully.

30 Dec 2008


Last night we had fondue (cheese and chocolate) on a blankie on the living room rug as a way to bid adieu to 2008. We do this occasionally, and it's always lots of fun.

Before we began eating, we went around our little circle (two kids and moi) and said what we had enjoyed about the year. Both boys said they enjoyed field trips. I told them I had enjoyed field trips, our trip to Spain and being with Pat and meeting Pau and everyone else, and our time together at Meadowood, and the new friends we've made this year... welll, I went on and on, as adults often do (I also seem to have a longer term memory than 6- and 7-year-olds).

Then we were to say what we loved about the other people. Tanner said he loved Ben for cleaning up his (Tanner's) messes, which was a really nice acknowledgement (because Ben really does clean up more than his share). Ben said he loved Tanner for always sharing with him (and it's true, Tanner has always had a sharing heart). Both boys told me they love me for homeschooling them (thank you, God). I told Tanner that, of all the guys I know, he is most likely to come up and kiss me (true), and I love his affection. I told Ben that I love the way he's always willing to help me when I'm stuck and yell his name - he comes running and helps every time. Then I said grace, and we began our dipping.

Ben bawled. He sat there for about ten minutes crying. I couldn't figure it out.

When he could finally speak, he said he was crying because of what I said. I told him it was all true, he is a tremendous helper boy and I really appreciate it. Then I said that maybe I don't tell him often enough. Ben is very high on the emotional and expressive scale, hot and cold, and perhaps I need to give him more warm fuzzies.

I listened to a webcast the other day about how we need to learn to honestly tell people how much we appreciate them - it can be so good for everyone involved. I never thought I had been shorting my own kids in telling them just how much I appreciate all they do. It is a truism that my life would not be the same without them; I also consider them to be the best-behaved kids I know their age.

So we will begin doing our appreciation circle every week. No sense in keeping it till year end.

The Hole of Lust

Yesterday afternoon, as I was finishing my last garment of the year (a traditional Shetland cardigan with wool that I overdyed, don't ask me how long this one has been in process, I'm not even sure both boys were BORN when I started it), the boys were creating some sort of secret game in their room that involved tape (no ask, no tell). When I had the bread on the rise they asked me to come see their room, and the "HOLE OF LUST" sign was posted prominently on their bedroom door.

One must always attempt to not be an alarmist when raising boys (kids in general? I don't know, I only got boys), and I know spelling isn't their strong suit, so I calmly and without facial tics asked them what the sign said. "It's the Hall of Justice, from the Justice League of America", they said. Well, thank God for that. We need someone promoting justice and trouncing crime in this country, whether they can spell or not (no Presidential names mentioned).

I was led into a room that has TOP SECRET signs all over the closet door now. I was impressed. I think they might be a year or two ahead of their time in the concept of keeping everything hush hush and labeling their privacy. I know it happens between girls (because I have an older sister), and I know there's a stage in our lives when we want our sibs to be hands off our stuff (does that ever end?).

They wanted me to open their closet door. "No way", I said. "It's top secret."

"There's nothing in there", they said. Oops, they're still not clear on the practice. It's the IDEA that you MIGHT have something private and don't want others messing with it that is so important. The last thing you'd want to do is tell someone that it's all a sham.

But they'll catch on. I just know it.