Sunday, January 31, 2016

A whole lotta treading water:)

As far as the knitting goes, that is;)! That Ashby shawl continued to come in handy last week as we dealt with record snowfalls.  Have made a wee bit of progress on the Dryad for John, and, because we had a bunch of snow days off from work around here, decided to cast on two more projects and will likely cast on a third.  We'll see.... Decided to finally use that Zooey on another shawl.  Yep, and a Brooklyn Tweed one as well:): Stonecrop by Jared Flood. I am doing the smaller version of the wrap. It's actually quite an interesting pattern.  Sadly, no pictures yet.  Will post one or two as soon as I can.

Having seen my progress on the Dryad, and wishing to preserve it for John, S (the one who appropriated the Guernsey Wrap for herself after "borrowing" it from her father) talked me into knitting her the Elfreide scarf (another Brooklyn Tweed pattern by Lucy Sweetland I've been wanting to knit for ages). Oh dear. I had the yarn. I just had to cast on.  No pictures yet of this, either, but there will be.

So there it is. Not much to talk about on the knitting front - at least not much to photograph.

However, in other news....

I spent pretty much all of January alternating between  recovering from an upper respiratory infection  - that kept on visiting me since September -  and work.  I missed a LOT of choir rehearsals and I think I only went to one bell practice, due to the above and snow. However, this week things changed:). For four days straight I have been enjoying playing and singing with some of my favorite people.  On Friday, we had Mardi Gras practice.  My dear son helped me get the drums out of the basement and my fellow musicians of the "Lassez les bon temps roulez" group helped me get them to St. Pete's.  Then two hours of wonderful practice and home.  Saturday: Diane L from choir gave me a lift to Barry E's home for an extra rehearsal of the Durante (not the Jimmy variety, though plenty of jokes have happened) Magnificat and a wee bit of Bach.  We had a pot luck lunch for which I ended up taking more food home than having contributed.  No worries - with my crew, we will make short work of it:)!

The best news in choir is a budding romance between two truly good people, both of whom have experienced terrible losses in their =lives.  It does my heart good to see love win out.  As I said to a good high school friend a few years back - everybody loves a lover:). And not for nothing, but another lovely friend has found love as well.  She had spent decades in a loveless marriage full of verbal cruelty and now she is hearing and experience sweetness and love.  That makes me so happy!

The fourth day was today  - the early service at St. J's, followed by another rehearsal of the Durante Magnificat:) and the unselfish talents of our dear Nancy and the (ever so kind) Barry.

As the beloved Ina Garten says, "How bad can that be?":)

God be with you 'til we meet again+

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Productive? Or no?

I got up in time to sing with the choir this morning, got showered, dressed, and, armed with my bag of music and purse, purposefully headed out the door to my car and then.... decided to stay home. You may wonder why. I hadn't been to rehearsal Thursday evening and felt so unprepared. And there was bacon cooking in the kitchen (didn't say I was proud of my decision..) and I thought, I could get so much done at home without mucking up my part in church. I played around with my planner, thinking if I worked now, I'd really have a day off tomorrow. Selfish? Yes, most likely. 
I learned that the littlest grandangels would not be gracing us with their presence;(.  Their Daddy had custody earlier than usual this weekend.  And that's ok.
So what's an old grandma knitter/lawyer to do?  Well, I thought of heading back to Cloverhill Yarn to knit with my friends, but then I saw the snow heading our way and figured. Uh. Nope. I do not like driving in the snow when the road gets slick and icy under the little snowy bits. So I stayed home.

I worked on hubby's scarf and made a wee bit of progress.  I'd say I was 52 percent done, since I've made my way into the second of two skeins for the project. It's Jared Flood's Dryad - and I've been working on it on and off since the summer of 2012. I knitted another wide scarf for John by Jared Flood - that within a year was appropriated by our daughter, S.

I've also been working on a couple of sock projects.  For some reason, I don't really post my sock projects on ravelry.  Perhaps I should.

More to come later.
One thing for which I am grateful: the Ashby shawl came in very handy today. It is large enough to keep this chubby grandma warm in the midst of a sudden decrease in temperature this afternoon.:)

Not much more to add, dear readers. Back soon. Until then, God be with you 'til we meet again+

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Interrupting this program to bring you...

Am working from home today.  The rest of the family are working and I have this lovely bit of quiet to get paperwork, scheduling and other organizational tasks completed.  One of the things I was doing was of course reading emails, updating calendars and the like. But a post from Mason-Dixon Knitting drew me up short for some reason. My really cool grandson, Gram (all my grands are cool - don't ever disabuse me of that notion!) has recently expressed a desire to learn to knit. Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon knitting fame are having a book giveaway contest on their blog.  I frankly do not care about winning that book, although it looks like a wonderful book to have, but I did post a comment because I figured there would be a lot of folks who might have some ideas for me.  Here's what I wrote:

I had a rather wicked stepmother – or with the advantage of hindsight – a stepmother with a lot of issues and a lot on her plate. But there is one thing she did for which I will be forever grateful. She taught my two stepsisters and me to knit. Now that I have been a wicked mother and am now a wicked grandmother, I recently completed five sweaters – one for each of our five grandchildren. My grandson, Gram, was so intrigued by the sweater I knit him (he loves it, bless his heart) that he has asked me to teach him to knit. He has ADHD. His parents and his doctor are trying to figure out which meds work and how much he needs. He is learning to feel his feelings and on top of everything else is dealing with the stress of going back and forth between two divorced parents’ households with his older brother and younger sister.
He will be 5 years old on Valentine’s Day.
I so want to teach him, but I so want to do it right. What a comfort and blessing and brain healer knitting could be for him!
If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears. Sorry if this is TMI, but your post really resonated with me today.
Happy knitting, everyone!
- See more at:

 Last Sunday, Gram, along with his mom and sibs, stopped by to say hello on their way back from a birthday party.   I was at the concert having a great time, but to have missed this is just heartbreaking! Hopefully, I will be ready for him this coming Sunday, two little chubby knitting needles and some nice yarn for him. I keep thinking of  Elizabeth Zimmerman's recounting of how she learned to knit at this age and wondering if perhaps that's the way to go.  Cast on, teach him to knit a stitch or two and then that's it. It's the "teach him to knit a stitch or two" part that is daunting, LOL:)

Ah well.  If any of you dear readers have an idea or two, as I said, I am all ears!
Gotta get back to work.  Back soon.  Until then, God be with you 'til we meet again.+

Monday, January 11, 2016

From the Sublime to the...Incredibly Interesting!

Starting with the very interesting...

Today was a very full and remarkable day - at least it seemed so from the vantage of my relatively small and unremarkable life. I started it as many second Sundays of the month - playing bells and other assorted instruments, including my voice, in church. Come to think of it, even that was unusual! Instead bells and choir during the first service, bells only with the organ in the second - we had a lot of fun, the bells playing along with Carol D on the flute, Mike M on his fiddle, Barry E on the drum and yours truly hitting the tambourine. During the second service, the eight of us remaining also sang as we played our respective instruments. What a blast! To top it off, there were about a gazillion baptisms and the little kids were adorable - even the screamer at the second service:)!

As I left church, the prudent thing would have been to go straight home, maybe practice some of the Radetzky one more time, knit a little, get ready for tomorrow's hearings (already done, boss!) or even take a nap.  However, I was in dire need of some therapy - the kind only available through some yarn and sticks. So I toddled on over to the Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Catonsville, where a big old knit-together was going on. I saw people I hadn't seen for awhile from the Columbia Sip 'n Knit - I consider to be "my" group - and one I met in person for the first time today! Sam Barsky (above) is a very talented knitter whose work has been featured in at least two magazines -one from the UK and the other from Hungary (I think). He and his wife live in the Baltimore area.  He took up knitting a number of years ago and realized he had quite a knack for it. His second project was a sweater! Sam does "intarsia" knitting - using balls of yarn or bobbins to create "pictures" with his yarn through knitting.  The sweater pictured above is a depiction of Sam and his wife's trip to Hong Kong. Sam tells me his only regret is not having knitted the sweater before going there. Reason: Sam takes pictures of sweaters he's knitted of places to which he travels and then poses in that sweater in the very place he's knitting about.  He has a Stonehenge sweater, I think a couple of New York sweaters (Times Square) and 90 more.  His goal is to create 100 sweaters and then he will celebrate.  Sam doesn't knit with a pattern - he figures it out in his head. My goal is to find him a tech editor to help him put his work into words and charts for the average schmo like me. Anybody know of such a person in the Baltimore, Merlin area?

Well, it was a delight to meet Sam.  We had been Facebook friends for a while, bonding over the knitting thing and he was just as nice in person as he is online.  Nice chatting and knitting with you, Sam!

And now for the sublime...

You didn't think I'd ignore that concert, did you? Above are a few of the Columbia Ballet, excellent performers who seemed to sail on air to the strains of Strauss (Johann and his brother, Josef.) Though the Strauss family does seem to corner the waltz market, they got quite a bit of competition from Josef Lanner, Iosif Ivanovici, Antonin Dvorak, Fritz Kreisler, Franz Lehar, even Arnold Schoenberg, along with one of my favorite composers, Johannes Brahms.
Ron Mutchnik and the Orchestra were tremendous.  Don DeGeorge, the man behind the scenes videographer, provided a beautiful larger-than-life backdrop of scenes from Vienna, Prague and Budapest. A very talented Jonathan Palevsky of WBJC fame provided a succinct and witty narrative to it all - and his German pronunciation was outstanding. 

There is something almost magical in hearing the opening strains of On the Beautiful Blue Danube. You feel the awe, the love that Strauss had for his homeland. Changes in tempo, reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the waves of that beautiful river; the melody, both familiar and mystical, conspire to create an experience impossible to contain in a recording. It was beautiful.

The last piece was the Radetzky.  After a brief introduction, we were off! Won't tell you about the mistakes.  We ended at the same places, accompanied by the claps and stamping feet of the audience - a good thing:)!


After the magic of that concert, I came home, had some supper and finally finished something I've been working on. Ashby.I want to say it like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara said, "Ashley," but that would be a little weird coming out of my mouth;). Off the needles, blocked, and photographed. Put a fork in it.  It's done.

Time to sign off. Court tomorrow.
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

ANNOUNCEMENT! (see below) and Finally finished with my Christmas knitting:)

And yes they were all finished January 3rd. Never you mind. They all fit -and came in handy for the cold weather when it finally did arrive! And anyway, what self-respecting kid wants a sweater for Christmas?  Not that they didn't genuinely seem to like them. Many thanks to my two youngest grandangels for modeling theirs:)!

Well, it was a nice week, give or take, of "staycation" for me. Especially enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Year. But it's also great to be back in the swing of things-at work, in music, and in knitting.

Speaking of music, this rank amateur will be playing snare drum on Sunday (the Radetzky March) with the consummately professional Howard County Concert Orchestra (HoCoCO). The brainchild of Ron Mutchnik, a gifted violinist (and teacher) in his own right, and comprised of professional musicians, many of whom come from the sadly now-defunct Baltimore Opera's orchestra, it has become a Howard County treasure.  The January concert is a multi-media extravaganza of romantic waltz music, accompanying a video of beauty to be found in Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, and dancers from the Columbia Ballet. Attending this concert has become one of my annual traditions and what a wonderful way to beat the winter blues!

This year, the concert will be held at the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD (that's short for "Merlin") at 7 p.m.  Tickets are a mere 25.00 -and children under 17 are free, accompanied by a paying adult. There is also a student discount ($12-bring your school ID). 

If you attend, don't shoot the drummer for the Radetzky. She's new.

Hope you get to enjoy your weekend. Back soon. Until then, God be with you 'til we meet again.+

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wishing You All a Very Happy New Year!

Hello, dear reader.  I hope your holidays were merry and that life surrounded you with the people you love and who love you. It's true we say this every year, but hasn't this year just sped by? As my husband always used to say at the end of a vacation or day off engaged in fun activities, "I don't know about you kids, but I had a good time." This year has not been all sweetness, light and ease - like many, I've had my share of worries, but in the end as my dear friend-from-another-time-warp, Julian of Norwich, used to say, "All shall be well, and all shall be well and in all manner of things, all shall be well.":)

So, as I said, a lot of life has happened.  The young lady standing up amid a group of business-dressed individuals (with her father, sister, S, and I sitting in the back behind her) is our youngest, J, standing up at the Merlin Court of Appeals, just prior to being sworn in as another member of the Bar of Merlin - just two days shy of 24 years from the day yours truly did the same. J will be practicing immigration law in another state, but she got admitted here, "just in case." Immigration law practice just requires admission to the Bar in any state in the nation, so she's good with this one. J's GF, L, couldn't make it, and we only had two tickets, but there was room for a third person - her next older sister, S, who recently herself completed her Master's in Anthropology and is now looking to attend law school. If her writing ability and her recent LSAT performance are any indication, somehow I think she will.  I am not bragging, merely stating facts...;)

Christmas was the usual marathon for me.  So much so that I am seriously considering cutting back on some of my activities next year.  Playing/singing in three services from 4:15 p.m. to the wee hours of the next morning is not my idea of enjoying Christmas.  Maybe I'm getting old, but I think with maturity comes a recognition of one's limitations. Thankfully, my kids sprang to the rescue the next day.  My son-in-law, D, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, two more of my darlings worked out the seating and the place settings and B and R did the dishes like a pair of turbo engines! It was fabulous!

Two days later, our daughter, K, the one whose family went through a divorce last year, got remarried and we gained three more grandchildren:)! They had already been married at the courthouse a few months ago, so they asked me to say a few prayers we could all join in.  And then we all had a lovely lunch and "hung out" with each other.  The children had a great time.  K's new husband, also a K, has three young adult children, all of whom were a delight to meet and so kind to the little ones! Both K and his ex have done a wonderful job raising them.  They must all be so proud.  Also present were K's mother, Ann and father, Ernie, two lovely people. A fine time was had by all! So of course I have a gazillion pics here because I couldn't think of one to delete - J's significant other, L, sent us so many good ones! Thank you, L! You did it again:)!

So, here I am again, inundating you with pictures, dear reader, and catching up a month's work of life. My goal next year is to post daily with much smaller posts - certainly a goal that is specific, measurable and ... do-able!

MUSIC: The service for the new Suffragan Bishop in November went well.  It was wonderful, our three choirs singing together.  The Episcopal Cathedral in Baltimore has an interesting history: it is about a third the size it was intended to be.  Construction started in the late 1920s and only one transept was completed before funding ran out, thanks to the 1929 stock market crash. So, although it was initially meant to be larger than our National Cathedral, it is a small edifice, much beloved nonetheless.
In case you are interested, here is a link to the actual Evensong service, replete with music, homily, pomp and circumstance.

As I said earlier, Christmas was wonderful as always, but MAN was I tired! I think the sad thing about getting older is we don't have the energy to do all the things we want to do- or perhaps it was just being sick on and off for two months.  We'll see how things go next year:)

KNITTING       As for knitting, you KNOW there's been knitting..... The good news is, Christmas was WARM in this part of the Northern/Western hemisphere. The bad news is, Christmas was WARM in this part of the
Northern/Western hemisphere. OK, the five sweaters for the grandkids were not finished in time for Christmas and WHO CARES! It was TOO hot anyway.  They would not have appreciated a sweater in 70 degree (Fahrenheit) weather. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. HOWEVAH... I am VERY far along in the process. For 4 of the 5 sweaters, the knitting is done.  All that is left is blocking and in the case of the two cardigans, buttons and buttonholes need to be completed. Even with the fifth sweater, all I have to do is 1.5 rather short and narrow sleeves (compared to adult sizes), so really, about what do I have to complain?:) By the time these babies are done, they will (1) fit the recipient (I HOPE!!) and

(2) be appropriate for the weather. Win -win:)

I am chafing at the bit to get these done because there are at least three or four others I want to work on in January for myself and others.

Not bad progress for an old lady - and actually the last two pictures are further along in their progress.

Well, my friends, that's all I have for an update.  I am sure I am forgetting far too many things. One thing of which I am certain: my gratitude to all who have posted and befriended me, here, on ravelry, on twitter and on facebook. I am grateful for so many things, family, friends, a career I love representing the best clients in the world with the best team of human beings I know.
Thank you for your friendship and your time and thank God (however you perceive Her -or not) for all my blessings.
Here's hoping that 2016 will be our best year yet!
Happy New Year and God be with you 'til we meet again+

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving:)!

Here in the U.S. of A., it is Thanksgiving. A day in which we spend time with family and/or friends, enjoy and express gratitude for the blessings life has given us. And like many US families, mine spent it together, even with those we do not have home with us yet. Five of our six offspring and their respective Significant Others were here, along with five grandkids. Our son, Danny, is still in L.A., but called before he went out for the evening. We miss him and cannot wait until he is back with us in December. (Yay Christmas:)!)

I am also exhausted, probably because I am old. And out of shape:). The husband wonders what I'm doing quietly in the corner over here. Our eldest, her hubby and her three kids just left for home. Their Dad dropped them off before and we exchanged a lot of Thanksgiving pleasantries. That was nice. After dinner, we took a family picture of the attendees of our dinner/feast (a process that took awhile, due to a recalcitrant camera battery, but as soon as I get a copy, I will likely upload:)). Our Penultimate Offspring spent the greater part of yesterday and a good deal of today dealing with her stupid mother and baking five (yes FIVE) amazing pies and making delicious veggies for the meal today. A good thing, because though I make the stuffing (dressing for my grandmother and those of you from the Southern US who make the distinction between that which is in the bird and that which is without) without touching any dead critters, there often is not enough for the three or so vegetarians among us to get their vitamins. Thank you, S!

Offspring No. 3 also pitched in with an amazing array of grocery shopping and cleaning the seepage from a recalcitrant dead bird in the 'fridge this morning, thus making it possible for yours truly to get said dead bird into the oven by late morning. Thanks B!

OMG how can I forget the beautiful place settings put together by daughter D and granddaughter R with the beautiful picture for the centerpiece crafted by granddaughter M?

And "Pop", who every year since 2008, breaks out his copy of the NY Times article on how to properly carve a turkey, did himself proud. There was food and leftovers for all. And plenty of beer and wine, just in case the former didn't go well.

Thanksgiving is the one holiday for all Americans. It is not a religious holiday like Christmas, or Hanukkah, and it doesn't require any particular food or tradition. The beauty of it is, your own ethnic traditions will do just fine, thank you very much. We are so far from the original Thanksgiving among the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who saved their hides, that anything really goes as far as food.

I asked my son-in-law to prepare the grace before tonight's meal. Good natured soul that he is, he soldiered on and did a fine job of it - and this among a family of philosophies ranging from mainline Christianity to atheist. Well done you!

Whenever we celebrate Thanksgiving, I cannot help but think of all the Thanksgivings past, with loved ones who are no longer with us. When I was little, my parents took my brothers and me to our paternal grandparents' home and when I was very very little, I remember Mammy, my maternal great grandmother, sitting quietly across from me, assiduously chewing her meal with few teeth in her mouth. She was so quiet and so fragile, and yet there she was, in a place of love and honor, as well she should have been! She lived with my grandparents when my Dad was a young teen until she died the year I turned five.

My grandparents are gone. So is my mother. Great Aunts and Uncles have also died. But their memories bring me so much joy. My grandfather was so close with his brother, my Uncle Dave. Their father had died when both were very young, leaving their mother to raise them. The plan was that Grandpa and Uncle Dave, both very bright (Grandfather skipped two grades in school and was encouraged to take the flute by a wonderful teacher who saw him playing with a fife) would go to college and then to medical school. Uncle Dave did just that. When it was Grandpa's turn, the money ran out, so he used his incredible musical talents to play in the big bands of the time. There was a stint with Benny Goodman in New York. There were stories of Tommy Dorsey, and saving enough money during good gigs in the Depression to support himself, his wife and their two children after Grandfather was disabled in a fall from a stage scaffolding.

Uncle Dave, too, did his part. As a young doctor in PA, he never refused care to a union man or his family when there was a strike. There is a family story about him being pulled over many many years later by a police officer for speeding, somewhere outside of PIttsburgh. The officer, when he saw his license, would not issue a citation and instead waved him off. Uncle Dave had helped his family during the Depression.

After my grandfather died, my Dad found letters between him and his brother, Dave, about taking care of their mother's care in her old age. Uncle Dave said he could cover it; he had the means. Grandfather said, no - she's my mother too, dear brother. I will do my share.

I have big shoes to fill. Doubt I ever will, but I am grateful for each of them. I am grateful for my family. As they say in the Whiskeypalian Church: For what was, thanks be to God. For what is, thanks be to God. For what will be, thanks be to God. Just Thanks:)

God be with you 'til we meet again+