Monday, November 30, 2009

My Beautiful Water Lily Socks . . .

Well, I wore them exactly once. I didn't even get to take their picture.

To my great dismay, my brand spanking new socks got stuck inside the legs of my velour sweats (that I wore on Thanksgiving) where they were completely and utterly hidden. I did all the laundry over the weekend, and imagine my horror, when I found my brand new socks at the bottom of the dryer.

Wah :-(

I usually restrict my sock knitting to superwash yarns exclusively for this very reason, but this is the first time I've actually had this happen where the socks were hidden and I didn't find them. They didn't felt (which is amazing in itself), but they now fit someone with size 7 feet instead my size 9 gunboats. Crap for me, but Happy for my pal, Knitterary. She has little weeny size 7 feet and my socks fit her perfectly. Maybe she'll post a photo for me :-)

I'm really sad about these - I absolutely loved the yarn even though it was not superwash (I was planning to hand wash this pair of socks! Yikes!) and I'd been doing gift knitting for months and these were actually for me. Crap. Crap. Crap. Oh well, you live and learn, and at least Knitterary has beautiful water lily socks for her little feet ;-D

So - I cast on last night for some MORE socks for me. Simple 2 x 2 rib. This time with a superwash yarn, Alchemy's Juniper in The Night Air colorway. I love the colors - they recommend that you knit with two skeins at the same time, but I just cannot be bothered to do that with socks, so they are definitely stripey. No more gift knitting until I have another pair of my own :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

While the Merry Bells Keep Ringing . . .

. . . Happy Holidays to you!

I love Christmas. I really do. And this year, it's a kind of a Celtic Christmas, Chez A. Here is the tree - I got this tree a couple of years ago, and it's really supposed to go in my living room (which is why it looks sort of narrow). But although I spend more time in there in the winter months than in the summer, I still spend the majority of my time in my sunroom.

So, this year, I decided to move a plant stand that was virtually empty, and put the tree and the Polar Bear Family in the sunroom where I can enjoy them for the next weeks. Also there, down on the right, are BunBun and her sister, Winky. They are bunny rabbits, but the Polar Bear Family is always quite happy to see them, and peace reigns supreme, even with them there, so they are always somewhere around the tree :-)

I did not, however, pull out all the ornaments. I have a really lot of tree ornaments, and I love them all, but it does take a long time to unwrap them (and to put them away again in January). So this year I went with a theme (never have done that before) and only put my Belleek bells on the tree plus some other Irish ornaments that I have. And since 23 years ago I managed to get in at the beginning of something, I have the entire series of Belleek Christmas bells. Well, not quite - this year's is on order :-)

My late mom always got my bell for me every year, and the first Christmas after she passed away, I had to scramble to get one - I forgot and had to get one after the holiday. It was not easy! But I remember now to get them every year, and I like them very much.

Here are the Celtic Santas. They live up on the ledge in my sunroom. All came from a Colorado friend of mine over the years. Two Irishmen and two Scotsmen. I like them all :-)

I really enjoyed Thanksgiving yesterday - I had dinner with my cousins, and then went over to my Aunt's house and spent the evening with her. It was time well spent. I don't get to see her enough (my fault) and so it was good to just sit and talk and catch up for a few hours.

I have so much to be thankful for, and as we blast into this holiday season, I'm remembering to hold the peace of Iona in my heart. It makes everything easier.

I finished the Water Lily socks at my cousin's after dinner, promptly put them on, and I just love them! I will have to get a photo soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blackbird . . .

Blackbird singing in the dead of night . . .
Iona is one of those liminal places - a place where they say that the veil between the worlds is thinner. I think that's true. The energy there is strong and has affected me positively both times I have been on the island. For all its power, the energy of the sea is often a gentle, healing energy. As the waves come in to the shore, they bring healing and peace, and as they return to the ocean, they take with them whatever you care to release.

Take these broken wings and learn to fly . . .
There is no greater place for healing than by the sea - no better place to leave the baggage that no longer serves you than on the shore, where the great ocean will come and float it away. It's not the wrenching pull of a rushing river that takes and gives nothing in return - because who needs stuff wrenched out of them? Ouch. No. Sometimes you realize that you've been carrying something with you - maybe for a long time - that no longer serves you. Maybe an opinion, or a behavior, or anger - whatever it is, it's always an excuse.

All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive.
But when something's been with you a long time, even though you've realized it's not best for you any longer, there can be fear surrounding letting it go. I mean, if I give up this excuse/opinion/behavior, what (who) I can blame for stuff? Ah, yes. Who or what else? How scary is it when we are left with only ourselves to take the credit (easy peasy) or the blame (sucks, doesn't it?)?

Blackbird singing in the dead of night . . .
And so you stand on the shore and think about all the stuff that might have gone a different way - but didn't. And what does it serve you now? You can't change the past. You can run every conceivable scenario in your head - and believe me, I have, and I kick myself regularly because I usually figure out the snappiest comeback long after the fact ;-) You can replay a past event or encounter out every possible way - but you cannot change it. It's in the past.

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see . . .
You can play it out, and out, and over and over. In fact, I think that's what we're supposed to do, until we realize that it's done. It's over. It cannot be changed. So, eventually, something inside you changes. You're in a place or a time, or you read something, or someone says something that resonates so hard and so loud that the scales fall from your eyes. And you know, with great certainty, that, scary as it might be, it's time to let something go. Something that shaped you, kept you safe perhaps for a time, but it has outlived its usefulness, and now, it's time to let it go.

All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free.
Place it gently on the shore. Say your goodbyes. Likely shed a tear or two or more . . . Watch a wave take it and return it to the sea, leaving the smooth sand - a clean, blank slate. And if you need a reminder of this step, you take a stone from the shore to remember this day - this turning point - this doorway to the next chapter of your spirit. And you are free. You can finally walk away because you are finally free.

Blackbird, fly . . . Blackbird, fly . . .
into the light of a dark black night.

Free to fly into the dawn of your next day. I heard the blackbirds most mornings outside my window. They sing in the morning, just as the morning is breaking, greeting every new day. Dance like no one is watching isn't just a silly saying for me. Thursday is my favorite day of the week, but I am grateful for every day that I wake up. We only get so many - it's up to us to grab on with both hands and live every minute. I find more and more that I'm achieving a goal I set for myself when my mom passed away. She lived every day of her life with joy and purpose and I wanted to do that, too.

I am.

So can you :-)

I found a card in a shop on Iona, and I bought it, brought it home with me, and put it on my ledge where I see it every day. Here's what it says:

I believe in you as you
step forward in your life.
I'm inspired by you for
keeping your dream alight . . .
for facing the challenge
and achieving your goals.
I'm proud of you as I watch
the bright light of your spirit
embrace the world.

So, for anyone who might not have someone else to tell them those things - consider yourself told. You are free, Blackbird, to fly your spirit into the dawn and embrace the world.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now, What . . .

It's been quite a blog break here, Chez A.

Contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen off the face of the earth ;-D My trip to the UK was amazing and exhausting, and it's taken me this past week to get myself situated back at home. Truth be told, I'm still not done, the contents of my suitcase are still exploded all over my guest room. It's not a pretty sight ;-D I managed to get the laundry done, however, which was major. I mean, when you live in pretty much the same clothes for 2 1/2 weeks . . . well, let me just say that my p.j.'s could have walked away on their own. Eeuuwww!

It took me until today to get the photos out of the camera. The camera. The new camera. OMG I just hate it and it was really difficult dealing with it on the trip - and yet there are some great photos, so I am grateful for that.

The Isle of Iona is a small (and I do mean small) island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. I have been there before. In fact, Iona is the reason that I'm a spinner. But this time, I was on Iona in the fall instead of the spring, and interestingly enough, this time I did not see even ONE tuft or lock of wool on the ground! Clearly, I was meant to be there that spring of 2007 to begin my spinning journey.

Iona in the fall is different than Iona in the spring - it rained a really lot, which never bothers me, and it was beautiful in way that is hard to put into words (even for me, chatterbox that I am). The landscape is the same and yet different, and the week I spent there this time was important in many ways for my spirit. I'll not blog too much about that, however, because one of the things I've learned is that when you have an experience that is magical in the way that Iona is, it's sometimes best not to talk too much about it.

I will let it suffice to say that should you ever get the chance to go to this tiny island in the sea, take advantage of it, and I'll let the photos do the talking :-)

The sunrise on the ferry from Oban to Mull

A gateway to another world . . .

Still plenty of sheep there . . .

An island in autumn . . .

With the the last hurrah of summer . . .

The peace of the past . . .

And the beauty of the present . . .

Perhaps a sweater pattern to be coaxed from an ancient stone . . .

And the end of the trail . . .

I'll blog more about my trip in the coming days, for there is much more to share. In the mean time, I wish for all who might read this, the joy of the coming holiday season, and the peace of knowing your own heart.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vacation . . .

I'm in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I leave tomorrow to head up the Antrim coast, and I just spent a week on the Isle of Iona, at a retreat led by author, Joan Anderson.

Can I just tell you how wonderful rain pants are? OMG. I would have been complete toast (well, soggy toast) without them. I even wore them here in Belfast yesterday and was very happy to have them.

I managed to drive myself from the airport to the hotel and not kill anyone. I had one angry cabbie, but I'm thanking my lucky stars that it was early on Sunday morning and there was NO traffic in the city. Still, my heart was pounding and I'm wondering if it was such a great idea to plan a driving vacation in a country with poorly marked streets, no discernable speed limits most of the time, and left-hand driving . . . keep a good thought for me - I took total coverage on the rental car, and now I wish I had taken the GPS!

Tomorrow I head out to Carrickfergus and then up the Coast. Keep a good thought for me as I navigate the "wrong side of the road." :-D

There are photos - there is history - there is peace.

Oh, and there is rare breed yarn. ;-) Enough for two sweaters. It's being shipped. I got some Ronaldsay (natural grey), and some Hebridean (dark brown) - the latter from a local flock in Oban. I love finding stuff like that!!!

Belfast is interesting and different and wonderful and sad, all at the same time.

More later . . . :-)