Mercurial Motion

I had a hunch, so I checked it out and, sure enough, I was right.

Mercury went retrograde on January 11th and won’t stop the retrograde motion until February 1st, reaching a full return on February 14th.  Whew!

I KNEW there was something going on with communications and thinking, but no one here had mentioned it and I kept forgetting to check it out.

The next retrograde period begins on May 7th and will continue until May 31st, achieving a full return on June 14th.

There is another period in September and another one in December.

So hang on, everyone, things are about to settle down and straighten out in a few more days!  If you don’t know what it means to have Mercury go in retrograde motion, here is a good page that explains what it’s all about.

Minnesota Quilters 2008

I could just have easily titled this post “or How Boyd sought to get his mojo back” because that’s precisely what I’d hoped would happen. I’ve been quilting in fits and spurts since last year and haven’t just connected with that pure excitement and joy that quilting used to bring me at every turn. I was hoping for an instant change of heart, as if by shear osmosis at a quilt show, somehow the fire would be lit again. Instead, I got sparks and a gentle fanning. Which might turn out to be OK in the end. I attended two lectures and Margaret Miller challenged me to re-exam what got me involved with quilting in the first place and to ask myself what sustains me and connects me with the community of quilters. And Ellen Anne Eddy, always a delightful speaker, reminded me that doing one’s art really is about focusing on what you love, what excites you and leaving the rest of the world behind. Yesterday, I picked up a journal for the first time in a long time to try to start writing and sorting some of this stuff out. I don’t have answers yet, but I am still pondering.

As for the show itself, while there were obvious highlights, some of the show left me a bit cold. And I bought one, count it, ONE piece of fabric during the entire time I was there. I bought some tools I thought were cool, especially the specially-created presser foot for sewing drunkard’s path curves without pins or matching. I’m excited to try that. And I got a great book of vintage apron patterns that I am anxious to make up. But most of the quilts left me flat. Here are some (but by no means all) of the quilts that I thought were remarkable.

Ellen Anne Eddy’s work is as remarkable as she herself is. How can this piece not blow your mind as to the possibilities that await those who have the clarity to follow their own vision?

This was Sue Rutford’s journal quilt and this picture doesn’t nearly do it justice. You had to get up close and really look at it to see what a wonderful and unique piece of work it was.

This quilt just made my soul smile. It is so exhuberant!

Again with the happy-happy, joy-joy.

My Wisconsin quilting buddies at the show, from L to R, Joan, me, Sharyn, Wendy, Carol, Pat, Jayne, and Nancy.

What a week!

What a great week it has been since I got back from that quilt retreat! Just the best in every way.

On Thursday night I realized I had spent more time in my sewing room over the past week than I have the whole time since we’ve moved in. That was startling. Earlier in the week I had unpacked some boxes from the garage that were still on shelves from the move and found some things that were presonally meaningful to me (along with some old crap I’m only too glad to let go of). It was surprising to me how much of my soul had been sitting taped up inside a box in the garage and although I try not to be too attached to material things, it felt good to have some artifacts of my life and sentimental objects back in my sewing room where they belonged. After all, they are markers of where I have been, physically and otherwise, and how I have become the person that I am today. I decided to move the picture of my grandma that was in the downstairs den into my sewing room as well, so that I would see her smiling at me whenever I was sewing in there. And I bought myself a new candle for my sewing room too. I was trying to figure out which Yankee Candle to get when I picked up the honeysuckle one, and it immediately reminded me of that innocent time in my youth when I would go into my grandma’s front yard with my cousin and we would laugh in the summer heat and pick those honeysuckle blossoms and suck the sweet nectar from the bottoms of them. Finally, I got rid of all the “junk”, i.e. non-sewing stuff, that had been accumulating in there and put it somewhere else. And I even bought a new clock radio for the room so I could plug my iPod into it and listen to my music or Podcasts while I am in there. And the radio is color coordinated with my iPod – how cool is that? All of this made a profound difference in how I feel about the place. Now I actually LIKE going in there!

I took Friday off since it was the last day of Harald’s vacation and Good Friday. We ran errands, putzed around the house, etc. I took a vacuum to the sewing room to get rid of dust bunnies and cobwebs – and I do mean that literally! Then the desire overtook me to scrub the floor clean in my sewing room. And I mean the old-fashioned way. Getting down on your hands and knees with a scrub brush, two pails of water, one soapy and one clear, and some rags. And I mean I scrubbed that floor so good you could EAT off of them when I was done! It took a day or two for the Pine-Sol scent to dissipate. And an hour after I started I was exhausted, but it was *so* worth it. When that room was clean, it felt like I had managed to clean out a dim and dusty part of my psyche as well. Maybe sometimes my surroundings really are a reflection of my inner life.

The weekend was so busy I didn’t get the borders put on the French braid, but I will get to that this week. But who can complain about getting to eat homemade coconut cake all weekend? Harald has turned into quite the active little baker and I for one am loving it. He got a hold of a Deen brothers recipe for coconut cake and all I will tell you I can hardly wait to get home tonight and eat the last leftover piece. We had a beautiful Easter service at church yesterday and a truly lovely dinner afterwards. Despite the snow that fell since Thursday, hope springs anew. Now if only spring would spring, we’d be all set.

You know you’re a real Minnesotan when ….

It’s sometimes hard for me to believe my own self, given that I famously complained after leaving San Francisco to move back to South Florida that I would never live in a cold climate again, but I am as much of a Minnesotan as any boy from Florida could ever be and my experience this morning confirms it.

You know you’re a real Minnesota when …. you take the dog out for the last piddle of the morning before heading off to work and while standing out in the yard waiting for her to do her business you find yourself thinking …

Well, it is 9 below out, and I suppose I should be lamenting how cold it is like so many others are, but the sun is out and the wind is calm and it’s really quite a nice winter morning, don-chya-no!

So, thereyago. We will leave for another day my favorite Minnestoa-ism which is “fer cute!” (And if you are from Minnesota, you know exactly what that means and how to use it.

Winter Beauty

If I could explain to you how wondrous the hoar frost looked this morning, I would try to tell you how it looked like a silent hand had passed over the landscape through the night, flocking each bare tree with delicate flakes of diamond-like crystals, so that when the sun rose their brown bones were transformed into twinkling winter magic, ice reflecting the radiance but not containing it. It is a very small thing, to be awestruck into silence by the simple beauty of the rare hoar frost. But it was enough to encourage my soul’s pilot-light of hope into a stronger flame.

That is what I would tell you if I could.

Knitting quote du jour

I am one of those people that when I take up a new hobby, I like to read the “classics” in the field, both so I can get up to speed and so that I don’t appear completely ignorant when the subjects come up. So I took up Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears because of its numerous recommendations. I find her sense of humor utterly delightful, although I am only a few pages into the book so far. I offer you these words on this last day of summer:

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.

When I say properly practiced, I mean executed in a relaxed manner, without anxiety, strain, or tension, but with confidence, inventiveness, pleasure and ultimate pride.

If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don’t; follow your secret heart and take up something else. But if you start out knitting with enjoyment, you will probably continue in this pleasant path.

Consider the agreeable material and tools.

. . . . . . .

Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.

Now, really, how can you not love this woman?

Four years in the making


B.A. in Religion/History

Who ever though that such a “little piece of paper” could have such enormous real and symbolic importance in one’s life? It took four years of serious hard work, from August, 2003 to June, 2007, to earn this degree – plus about 10 years before that of taking one class at a time here and there to get rid of my core curriculum requirements. Well, never mind that now. I have it. I stuck with it until I got it done. I can’t tell you how proud I am of myself for sticking with it until I was done this time. This time, I knew it was now or never. Making a big commitment to oneself and then seeing that commitment through to the end brings an immeasurable amount of self-esteem.

Summer’s Last Glory

Tonight they are predicting our first frost of the season, so this may prove to be the natural end of what will be remembered as one of the most memorable summers of my life. So I thought I would share with you some of the final glories of summer before they fade or freeze.

Our backyard deity

And an astronomer said, “Master, what of Time?”

And he answered:

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.

You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.

Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,

And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.

And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.

Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?

And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not form love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?

And is not time even as love is, undivided and paceless?

But if in you thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,

And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

New England Aster
These are flowers that whisper of fall’s fast approach.

I don’t know what this sweet little buttery yellow flower is, but it’s marvelous in its simple beauty.

Pink zinnia
How you could not adore this pink zinnia, that gets deeper and deeper towards the center?

Orange calla lily
I fell in love with calla lillies when I was in Guatemala – they grew wild on the sides of the mountain roads. I decided I wanted to grow some myself.

They are so simple, but I do love coleus and the color it brings to the yard.

This is a magnificent burgundy coleus – the picture doesn’t do it justice.

This lime green and yellow variety we tried this year is luscious, isn’t it?

Sometime later tonight we will pick all the zinnias and tomatoes – and begin the inevitable turn inward that comes with fall.

Pet Loss and Grief Resources

Here is the list of resources published in a local pet lover’s newspaper:

Animal Humane Society Pet Loss Support Group – 763-522-4325

ASPCA National Pet Loss Hotline (24 hours a day)
Enter PIN #104-7211 then your phone number. The call will be returned promptly.

College of Vet Medicine at University of IL/C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Helpline

Grief Recovery Hotline

Iowa State University Pet Loss Support Hotline

UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Pet Loss Support Hotline

Animal Love and Loss Network

Animals in Our Hearts

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

Argus Institute for Families and Vet Medicine

Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline

Eternal Animals

Gardens of Memory

Grief Healing

In Memory of Pets

Kindred Spirits

Pet Loss

The Pet Loss Grief Support Website and Candle Ceremony

Rainbow Pet Memorial

I can’t vouch for any of these sites – I haven’t checked them out yet. Just thought I would share them in case you or anyone you know might benefit from this info.