February 02, 2009
"ON THE PULSE OF MORNING" by Maya Angelou
Spoken at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, January 20, 1993.
(sourced from here)
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
- Good morning.
(If you would prefer a non-silent poetry reading, you can watch a video of the inauguration here).
February 01, 2009
I don't care so much that it is apparantly an oddball, since I love it - and hey, I am kind of an oddball too!
This yarn was purchased on a celebratory/consolation trip to Mouline - celebratory since I had just found out I would have a steady source of income, and consolation because I did not get into the Loopy Ewe sock club. I also got these:
January 19, 2009
Not a whole lot compared to some of the others in the group, but respectable considering how limited my income has been since I learned to knit socks last spring (i.e., about the same time I finished school and became unemployed). I am also hoping to win a spot in the Loopy Ewe Sock Club (spots are awarded by lottery), sort of...I have wanted to join a whole bunch of sock clubs but can't afford the $200-$300 hit on my credit card. I rationalized putting my name in for this one because 1) I might not get a spot so it's not like I'm definitely signing up to shell out the money (strange logic but it works for me) and 2) it is pay per shipment, not pay up front, so I can pretend that I will be in a better financial situation by the time the first package ships in March. That doesn't mean that I won't feel a bit guilty about spending money on sock yarn when the time comes - I probably will, but my sock yarn lust outweighs it.
I did not get any yarn for Xmas, because I didn't ask for any. I chickened out when it came to revealing my total geekiness (even though my cousin who lives in Seattle could totally have brought me some STR since Blue Moon is in Oregon...oh, just because I didn't ask doesn't mean I didn't think about it). However, my aunt did give me this:
A basket to hold my knitting! I think it is from a food gift basket but it has been successfully repurposed. The sheep is actually from Bath and Body Works, I couldn't resist, it was so cute (and only $5).
And on a rare trip to Wal-Mart, I bought myself this:
I have seen several people use these foam mats as blocking boards, and since my 2009 to-knit list contains my first shawl, I thought it was time to invest in a real blocking surface (as opposed to a stack of towels on my dining room table). That is 16 square feet of surface, which should be plenty. Yay!
Finally, progress on my belated Xmas gifts:
I am 2 1/4 inches away from starting the decreases for the toe, and then (oh-please-let-it-be-over) I will be finished with this sock.
That is about 3 1/2 feet of scarf. I will finish this up directly after I finish the sock, then put them in the mail and do a little dance of joy.
That's all for now...Fingers crossed for me for the sock club, and also for the government job that I still don't know about!
January 14, 2009
Progress? I have turned the heel on the Giant Blue Sock and am working my way through the gusset decreases. I have knitted to the end of the first skein on the My So-Called Scarf and need to wind up the second before I can continue on it. My sister's Druid Mitten, plus yarn and needles, are in a box back home, as I forgot to bring them back with me - she is supposed to send them along so I can finish them up but so far they have not arrived. My partner's Selbu Mittens are in my knitting basket beside the couch (since I no longer have to keep them a secret) and have barely been touched since we got back last week. (See original Xmas post for pictures and linkage).
The holidays were about as stressful as I had anticipated, although it was still nice to be with my family (which was the reason I had decided to head home in the first place, despite the crazy drama). I'm glad to be home now. Really, really glad.
That's enough for now - next time I will share my recent knitting-related acquisitions, and daydream some about what I am going to make after I finally, finally finish these gifts.
December 16, 2008
Yeah. I am maybe a little crazy.
I cast on a My So-Called Scarf with the pretty Peruvia Colors I picked up last month, and have managed a couple of feet so far. I had to rip this back and start over more times than I care to admit, but I finally seem to have gotten the hang of this pattern. I actually really enjoy it.
I have made next-to-no progress on any of my other Xmas projects, including my partner's mittens. I am so screwed.
Besides the knitting-associated stress, I am just not looking forward to the holidays this year. My mother died around Christmastime (four years ago this January), and though it has gradually gotten better over the years (meaning I generally don't burst into tears at random moments), I still miss her most around this time of year. There is also some Family Drama going on at home that I don't want to be dealing with. It stresses me out. We are not a Family Drama kind of family, we actually are more of a repress-all-your-feelings-and-pretend-everything-is-okay kind of family, so I haven't had a lot of practice dealing with this kind of conflict. Unlike my partner, who seems to regard family in-fighting as normal and can't figure out why I am so bothered by it. Oh, well.
Anyway, here is a cute cat picture to make everyone feel better (please ignore my ghetto toenails in the background)!
Hope your holidays are shaping up to be cheerful and conflict-free!
December 09, 2008
My love affair with coffee started very young. When I was small, my mother would let me (after much begging and pleading on my part) sip coffee from her cup with one of those tiny McDonald’s spoons with the long handle (does anyone else remember those? The bowl was about the size of my pinky nail). I genuinely liked the taste, but there was also the excitement of being allowed access to something so adult, and the pleasure of sharing something with my mother, despite her warnings about it stunting my growth.
Mom herself was a fellow devotee, starting most of her mornings with an extra-large from Tim Horton’s, picked up on her way to school (she taught first grade). I guess that’s why she never put up much of a fuss when I started to get serious about my coffee habit in high school, taking a to-go cup on the bus with me each morning and hanging out in coffee shops with my friends on weekends (hey, we couldn’t go to bars). Actually, I distinctly remember introducing her to the glory of the mochaccino with whipped cream one afternoon at the mall, likely during one of her epic Christmas shopping trips.
Coffee provided me with an income the first summer I lived away from home. I worked in a coffee shop in one of the downtown malls in Calgary. The pay was crap but the coffee was free! I think I did irreparable damage to my stomach and kidneys that summer, actually, and also my lungs since the shop was one of the few places inside the mall where smoking was permitted.
Coffee was my constant companion through my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and fuelled many a late-night study session in law school (there was a brief flirtation with green tea in there, but I rapidly returned to my true love). Coffee was also there on dates, and at meetings with friends. Even when I was at my sickest, and was told to stay away from it, I still couldn’t cut out that one cup in the morning, just that cup and five minutes to relax and organize my thoughts for the day ahead.
Coffee is a ritual. Grind the beans, pour the water, push the button – so simple I can (and probably do) do it with my eyes closed. Sharing it can also become a ritual. On Sunday mornings, I would make a pot and bring my mother a cup before leaving for church (I put in some time in the choir – I’m not religious but the choirmaster is a friend and desperately needed some sopranos who were not eighty years old). I love that we shared those casual, intimate moments, that without really thinking about it I found a way to show her that I cared about her and appreciated all that she did for me. I hope that’s the message I got across, anyway.
Independence and familiarity, stress and relaxation – these are all associated with the taste and smell of coffee for me. But most importantly, it is a tangible connection between my mother and me.
My mom loved coffee too.
December 04, 2008
7: Number of times wondered whether I wanted a job where eyebrow pluckage would be important
1: Pair of pantyhose purchased
11,000: Number of times worried that hair would look "stupid"
2: Number of hours spent deciding what knitting to take for the bus ride (4 hours in total)
0.5: Number of hours spent actually knitting on the bus
3.5: Number of hours spent napping on the bus
0.5: Number of hours spent actually preparing for the interview
Actually I think it went pretty well. It is a government job and therefore the interview process is very structured - a lot of situational questions, and some reading and analysis, which I am good at now thanks to four years of law school. So I have gone straight from worrying about the interview to worrying about what I am going to do if they offer me the job, since it is in Ottawa and I live in Montreal. Although a four-hour daily commute would give me a lot of knitting time (due to my driving phobia I would be taking the bus), it would most likely involve me getting up at some ungodly hour and dudes, I am NOT a morning person. The idea that I might have to get up before 6am on a daily basis makes me feel physically ill.
So I might have to move back to Ottawa...BUT I DON'T WANNA!!!! I love Montreal, I love my apartment (that I lobbied hard for and that my partner cannot afford on his own) and I love actually LIVING IN THE SAME CITY AS MY PARTNER OF FIVE YEARS! We did the long-distance thing for four years while I was in law school in Ottawa and it was such a relief to finally move in together.
Why can't things just work out the way I want for once? Why can't I just get a great job here (or even a decent job)? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?
Okay, seriously, there are other options. The government is pretty good about flexible schedules and teleworking, so I might be able to split my time between here and there after a few months. I still have a few friends in Ottawa so I might be able to find a place to stay for a couple nights a week, so I would not have to drag my a$$ out of bed before the butt-crack of dawn in order to make it to work at a decent time. And the promise of a steady paycheque, with benefits and a pension plan and all that good stuff, is oh so tempting to me and my negative bank balance.
Anyway, they haven't even offered me the job yet so all this cogitation is perhaps unnecessary. I should just get back to my Xmas knitting and stop with the obsessing (I can't help it, it is my nature).
Knit on, my gainfully employed friends! Knit on!