Thursday, April 28, 2011

Long Goodbyes

I'm sort of cheating on the yarn along this week. For one thing, it isn't technically Wednesday anymore. For another, although as of this week I've finished knitting and seaming an avocado-green slipper, cast on for the fourth and final bridesmaid stole, and bound off the third one, I have been so busy that I've had no chance to photograph these things.

Nor have I had a chance to photograph my lovely Easter Annis while wearing it. I do, however, have pictures from blocking it last week. So that is what I'm posting. I love how the points look like stained-glass in this picture.

As for reading, I finished Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Yarn Harlot and got a copy of Free Range Knitter on my Kindle. She has an essay about writing, knitting, and creativity vs creating in the latter that is brilliant, and addresses many thoughts that I myself have had. (It just occurred to me that calling someone brilliant for writing down things I have thought myself is perhaps a little narcissistic, but oh well.)

Things I did today rather than take knitting pictures: cleaning for Keith's mom's visit + the subletters who will move in on Sunday; packing; meeting with Fr. Josh for the honkin' huge marriage-communication-quiz-thingummy; and getting the keys for our new apartment (!).

Our landlady has painted the bathroom walls a beautiful blue, and I transfered a few boxes of books into the 2nd bedroom before we left today. That is the room I'll be sleeping in a few nights out of every week, until Keith and I get married. The master bedroom will wait for both of us.

In the meantime, my bookshelves are looking very empty. It's a little silly how difficult it was for me to pack Chesterton and L'Engle and Regina Doman into a box. It's not like I look at them on my shelf every day, but the fact that I can't just glance over and see them or pull them off and hold them is a little lonely. Lewis and Tolkien are still there. And my knitting books. (My yarn is all still here, too, although I contemplated taking it over to the new place today.)

I've lived in this apartment for almost two years, and it really is a home to me. I'm looking forward to living with my parents for a while, and to building a new home with Keith. But I shall be sad to say goodbye to this place.

I did not get done any grading today. It seems I can't ever get things done without falling behind first. Sigh.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

"Sweetest Jesus! What is there that Thou couldst have done for us which Thou hast not done!"

There is a picture that hangs over my parents’ piano of the Agony in the Garden. It hung over the piano when we lived in Michigan, and it has hung there since we moved to Pennsylvania when I was a teenager.

I’m not sure exactly how long we’ve had it—I remember when we didn’t, but not when we got it, or from where—but I remember my mom explaining it to me: how, a little in the background, you could see the disciples asleep in the shadows; and further back, in the woods, you can see the red of the soldiers coming for him, not immediately visible but definitely there. In the foreground Jesus kneels, sweat of blood on his face, and an angel holds a cup before him.

One day I was sitting on the couch in the living room, spending a lot of time in my head—something I’ve always done and still do. I have a very vivid imagination, which can serve me well, but can equally ensnare me in places I shouldn’t be. On this day, I was spinning a love story. It was purely fictional—whatever it was involved adventure and a love interest that looked like Cary Elwes, so it wasn’t a daydream in the sense that I wanted it to happen to me. Its excuse for existence was that I was going to capture it in a book. But there was no denying it: I was the heroine, and I was taking pleasure in constructing an imagined world and storyline for myself, indulging in all of my misguided ideas about romance at that age. It was my fantasy. (Hence Cary Elwes/Westley. Ahem.)

It was a very tween thing to do. (Or at least, it was typical of my tween years.) I guess there was nothing directly harmful in it, but neither was it the most healthy thing. Either way, the last direction my thoughts were pointed in was towards God.

And as I sat on the couch, inside my own head, imagining, my eyes happened to fall on the picture of the Agony in the Garden.

And I heard a Voice—yes, a voice, not with my ears, but nonetheless complete with words and their inflection—say, “This is real love.”

It was an indescribable moment. I think it only lasted as long as it takes you to read that sentence, but I’m not sure, because it was both a flash and an eternity, as though the present moment had been touched by the eternal. The words came from inside, but they did not come from me. It was clearer than anything I could have thought on my own, any sentence I could have phrased in my head. It was a shock that left a stillness in its wake, an awe.

And I was also annoyed. Because it had broken my fantasy, and I could hardly go back to it now. Which was, in all likelihood, partly the point. I told God, a little playfully, that I was annoyed; but there was still a sense of depth, of peace.

A few years later I would read about “inner locutions,” and have a name for what I experienced. But I knew then that it was the voice of God. I think that this experience was what planted the first seeds for the gradual realization that I should never marry a man who didn’t love me the way Jesus loved me. (Maybe a little obvious—it’s spelled out in the Bible!—but realizing what that meant in a concrete way: selflessness expressed through gentleness, patience, presence, holding back nothing of oneself.)

And on this Good Friday, praying the prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden, I remembered this moment, and the meaning of real love.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Of Books and Yarn ...

This is it. The week I must get absolutely everything done. Writing a 20 page project; revising a short story; planning a summer course; packing up and getting ready to move.

It doesn't make for a very contemplative Holy Week, on the face of it. But I suppose all I can do is what I'm supposed to for the place I'm at in life right now as a student.

And of course, there are always moments of knitting and reading to help me keep my sanity.The bridesmaid stole is coming along. I'm hoping to have it finished by this time next week. And then I'll start blocking these buggers! With real blocking pins! I am going to order some from Knit Picks.

My Easter Annis, meanwhile, has been off the needles for almost a week, and is soaking in a bowl of water as I type this, looking like nothing so much as a big blob of seaweed. (The first picture is what it looked like moments before it hit the water.) The color is greener than it shows up in the pictures. I intend to block it after posting.
(One of these days I need to sit down and figure out the pictures on blogger, because I know there has to be a better way to do this and have them look nice in the post ...)

As for books: every now and then I drop by a used bookshop called Caliban after teaching my Seminar in Composition class. Sometimes I take the time to browse thoroughly; more often I just stroll by the shelves, pleased to be in the company of books for a few moments, and scanning certain spots on the alphabetically-ordered shelves for my favorite authors. Last week I was thrilled to find Flannery O'Connor's letters. This book has been on my wish list for a while. I'm not as thrilled about the library-esque plastic on the cover, but there's adhesive along the top on the inside. We'll see if there's anything I can do about it.

I cracked it open and read the first few pages; what a wonderful woman. Not a saint, to be sure, but she remains one of my heroes.

A few days ago I finished Warrior, on my brand new Kindle (named Lewis II ... may he avoid the fate of his predecessor). It's the second book in a fantasy trilogy by Christian author Bryan Davis, and pretty enjoyable. I am generally leery of "Christian" fiction, especially Christian fantasy; I can't stand being preached at. But he does a fairly good job at avoiding that. In fact, some of the Christian elements do some interesting things for the way characters play off each other.

And finally, I am reading Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I recommended this to my mom the day I started reading it. It is hilarious. I'm pretty sure that after finishing this one my next step will be to snatch up all her books and read them in quick succession.

Alright. Time to block a shawlette! Thanks as always to Ginny for hosting the yarn along.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I haven't killed it yet. :)

This picture was taken about a week or so ago; the flower is still there, just a little past its prime.

Keith gave me this mini-rosebush for my 24th birthday in October. Little did he know it was the last day of a novena I was praying to Saint Therese in the hopes that we'd get engaged soon!

The same morning he brought me the rose, he asked my Dad if he could marry me. And four days later he proposed.

So this rose means a lot to me, and I'm hoping it stays around for a long time.

(And yes, those are Christmas ornaments in the corner.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Busyness and Miscellany

No yarn along yesterday; but that doesn't mean I haven't been knitting.

It probably should mean that, as this is the second-to-last week of class, which in turn means that I have 19 essays to grade by Monday, a class to plan by tomorrow afternoon, and a fair chunk of writing to do by the Monday and Tuesday after Easter.

However, I've also a shawl to complete. It's almost done. So near being done that I have a hard time setting it aside. The end feels deceptively near--only four rows away--but those rows are a good 200 stitches long. It will be finished by tomorrow, though, and perhaps I shall post a picture.

In the meantime: this week I've applied for a passport, got my new Kindle all set up, set up an appointment to have my bridesmaid's dress altered, and started working on the syllabus for the summer Intro to Fiction course I'll be teaching. I wish I had another week off after the spring semester to prepare for it, but I'm excited nonetheless.

More coherent posts to come.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adventures in Teal and Green

It would seem that not much as changed since last week's yarn along. I'm still working on the third bridesmaid stole, and still wading through Crossing the Sierra de Gredos. (And believe me, "wading" is the appropriate verb to use here--wading through a field of thigh-deep mud.)

However, my bookmark is considerably further on in the book, and the stole has gotten longer.

I've decided that I needed something to wear with my new white dress for Easter. I very nearly cast on a "Rose Lace Stole" in "Hush" after 11:30 last night. Instead I am casting on an Annis in "Tidepool Heather"--which may not be the most Eastery color, but who knows if I'll even have it done by then? If not, I have an apricot-colored sweater to wear over the dress. Anyway, this is also, in part, an experiment to see if I want the fourth (and last) bridesmaid shawl to be something cresent-shaped.

That little ball took nearly an hour to wind, using the back of a chair as a makeshift yarn swift. Considering how many skeins of lace I have lying about, I think I need to invest in a ball winder! However, there was something relaxing about it--watching the ball in my hand grow larger as the skein on the chair shrank, and seeing the yarn shift from blue to green as the sunlight changed in the room.

And I've already cast on the first 20 of 363 stitches. Hurrah!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Life of Crazy Goodness

April is going to be one heckuva month.

In addition to finishing up the semester (what, three more weeks to do all this work?!), I'll be getting ready to teach a summer class, move out of this apartment, and take care of some vital wedding business with Keith. Invitations, rings, meeting with the DJ, getting my passport and making sure I'm insured for the month and a half between wedding and fall semester. And oh yes--knitting. I've halfway decided that I want to use my beautiful "Hush" yarn on a stole for myself to wear to the rehearsal dinner with the beautiful white dress I bought yesterday. Yes, that does mean completing three and a half big lace projects between now and July 16. Haha. We'll see what happens, right?

However, despite craziness, all of these things are good things. I'll be rushing around taking care of wedding stuff because I'm getting married to an amazing man. I'll be planning a class because I got offered a class during the first session, after all--originally they offered me a teaching position from June-August, which ... well, I'm getting married then? Not to mention going on a honeymoon? But that worked out.

And I've also found someone to sublet the apartment. Which means yet more work for me this week, as I check with all the utility companies to make sure they can be switched from my name without any snags, communicate with the landlord and the subletters about dates and deposits and such, etc. But I am excited--it is an older married couple (in their fifties? sixties?), so they seem pretty responsible, and are very pleasant to work with. Praise God!

Things are falling into place. We settled on the reception menu last week (Prosciutto wrapped melon! Orzo! Champagne and sherbet!) and received proofs of the invitations, which looked lovely (despite the fact they mispelled both mine AND Keith's last names--but that's what proofs are for).

In the meantime, I ought to avoid further craziness by getting work done in a timely fashion. So I am off to plan a class, and to write an author imitation (bleah) about bonsai (yay).