Saturday, January 23, 2016

Progress at Home

 I needed a little cheerfulness in the house. The weather has been mostly grey and chilling. 

 Had fun playing with yarn this week. Added a crochet border to a hat and had to admire the sweet collection of hooks and tools.
 Mom wants a hat like the ones in this Tim Horton's commercial.
So I mashed up some patterns and put one together. With a red pompom.
The jet lag was pretty amazing. I also had to get over an infection, so the week was just this productive. I have turned the second heel on my Grafitti & Asphalt socks. I worked on them quite a bit on the coach during our trip. Now I just have the concurrent feet and toes to finish. There are lots of sock knit alongs this month, so it would be nice to have them finished. February has other projects to knit.
Felt better today, so I went walking to my trail. I saw a pompom in the tree. But it was a squirrel and he wasn't about to pay me any notice. The heron landed on our bridge and the ducks are starting to dance. It's nice to be home. It's fun to catch up with friends and family. Even though it's dreich, the spring is still a promise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


 There are too many words and too many photos of our trip to Israel. It was so much fun to join the group of 40 under the leadership of Ross Lockhart, a professor at St. Andrew's College at the Vancouver School of Theology in UBC. We started at Tel Aviv, and Jaffa and toured our way through Bethlehem and Jerusalem. There were lots of archeology lessons, stories of the ancient people of Israel, the Romans and Crusaders and the building, tearing down and rebuilding.
 Israel is so beautiful. The January weather was so pleasant and the range from coast line to desert to mountain top was astounding.
 Our guide, Shimon Zemer is a bit of a rock star in the tour guide world. He served in the Israeli army and has taught Christianity to Jewish scholars. But he's funny and patient and had his hands full with us.

I fell in love with the olive trees. Old and young, they are so strong and elegant.
In Nazareth we visited a 1st century village that was reconstructed from the ruins of a vineyard.
 We stood on the top of Masada and looked at the Dead Sea. Then we swam in it and covered ourselves with the black mud. It was a silly time.

 The walls began to speak to us as we discovered the different ages of building and the signature of King Herod or the crusaders.

An interesting demonstration of spindle spinning, yarn dying and rug weaving.

 We enjoyed many quiet moments of reflection and lesson. There were hardly any other pilgrims around. At the Sea of Galilee we gathered at the water at sunset.

Ornate iron work makes me think of my sister.
I am designing a needlepoint inspired by all the Roman tile work we saw. There are few barriers. You can touch and take photos and even walk on the treasures.

 There were many stairs and trails. I was happy to be up for most of the trails. 
 At Masada, we took a cable car up to the top of the mountain that King Herod built. The stones are still there telling the stories of sieges.
We could see the Dead Sea in the distance and later floated in it and covered ourselves with its healing black mud. Such a silly group when there is fun to be had.
 The gardens captured me. It is dryer and warmer than my home but many of the plants were the same. I was enchanted by the rosemary hedges and the cyclamen planted like pansies.
An unknown beauty, Mom identified it as cyrtanthus mackenii. It originates in South Africa.
 We sang in the amazing acoustics of the chapels. Our group was especially talented and it was such a blessing to be able to freely play with harmonies. Some of the hymns were familiar, but we loved learning new ones. The Taize music was especially touching.

 Bread. Nuff said.

D bought a shofar. It is a ceremonial horn made from the horn of the kudu. He was able to play it like a bugle.

Roman ruins are still being unearthed. I had no idea that archeology is such a living science. There are endless digs to work on and endless treasures to be discovered.
We were invited by friends from church and we made many more friends. This was on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Jerusalem was astounding. The golden walls. The history piled on history. The different religions living passionately cheek by jowl. Yet it is a living city with families and congregations.
 A typical stall with all the bling.
 We visited the Western Wall of the second temple. The most holy site for the Jewish people.
 And we went into the tunnels below that reveal the history of people who kept on worshipping and building. My prayers were placed in the wall far below in quiet where only women worship.
 D rode a camel on the Mount of Olives. Great fun. I fed Tristiania bird out of my hand at Masada. There were innumerable cats trundling about, well fed and ready to be pet. We were charmed.

Our last evening saw the end of Shabbat. The paths of the city were quiet. It seemed like months, or just hours. The flight home was a bit brutal (over 24 hours) but we are back in our comfortable home and connecting with family and friends. I had a poem attack yesterday morning and was able to get it all on paper. This is auspicious in a year in which I hope to write more.
I feel like a real pilgrim. I didn't get blisters, but I was changed by the close proximity to history and grace.

Monday, January 04, 2016

On the Other Side

 Christmas 2015 has come and gone, and there was some wooly goodness. Many of the hats and gloves hit that I knit for friends and family hit the mark. Dan's sweater was not one of those. I should have stopped when I felt the sleeves were too big for the armholes. They are. I will reknit them to the next size down. But I can look forward to that when we return from our trip to Israel next week.
 New Years Eve afternoon was spent with pipe band friends. We played at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, piping in the New Year, of Scotland, Hogmany, at 4 pm. D was on call so we booked it back home for some Netflix and leftovers. I was pleased that my back withstood the excitement of marching and playing the bass drum. I have my physiotherapist to thank for that.
 Managed to get the hot water bottle cover knitted. Several false starts: not enough Malabrigo, yarn too scratchy. But I figured I could be a bit of a princess over this attempt at my own wellness. I heat the magic bag in the microwave and that won't be available on our trip.

Got into a bit of a pickle with a skein of alpaca lace. But I wasn't about to let it get the better of me. I was a bit punky and Emily helped me take down the tree, so I conquered this mass of tangles.
 And cast on another Alpine Frost to give to a host this fall when we go to New York. I know. 2016 will be the year of gallavanting. Don't forget Ireland in July. Total dream trip.
 So happy to be able to fit in a trip to the ranch for my sister's birthday. I hope to drive up there more this year and play board games and bake and have fun.
 We brought croissants that needed to be thawed, proofed and baked. Lordy, they were good with thick bacon and freshly gathered eggs. Perfect for a breakfast birthday party.
 While we were gabbing at the table, I cast on my Gale's Art Graffiti On Asphalt socks. I did the first 2 inches of 1x1 rib in 2.5mm and then went down to 2.25mm for the ribbing pattern. These are the "A Nice Ribbed Sock" that fit Scotty so well for his Christmas present. I want socks that fit well, too.
 I love my sister's wood box, it's so practical and handy.
 And I love her fire. But not enough to have one of my own. It's like having another pet with the feeding and cleaning.
 On the trip home, driving the Coquihalla Highway, I worked on the best car knitting ever: the 3 Colour Cowl. I love travelling with this project so much, that it hasn't gotten any love at home and has rather languished. I still haven't decided if I'm going to cast on a shawl (with wooden needles) for my travel knitting. There is a terribly long flight plus coach travel. I want the intersection of easy to knit, but something I want to wear. Perhaps another stole. Laceweight is good for travel.
Taking some time to journal as I prepare for this budding year. My word is wellness. I hope to gain strength and feed myself with good food that makes me feel well. I have reclaimed my sleep but seem more tired than ever. I long to walk outside and maybe tackle some simple hiking.
And writing. I'm saying it out loud and on the blog. I am going to work on my first novel. I need to schedule time. I feel lucky now that I have a more open schedule. Some of it was on purpose and some of it fell on me. But I will claim it and satisfy that itch to write this year.
This year, I wish for you to make wishes.