Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If the Shoe Fits....

OK, it could have been a hand grenade, a bullet, something much worse than a shoe. I know. So don't go all ballistic on me. I don't believe in violence, even against him.

But throwing dirty, smelling, crusty boots at him......hey, that's a pretty powerful message.

There's only one problem with that that I can see.

After the dirty, smelling, crusty boots were tossed, there should have followed a pair of purple stiletto heels, black and white saddle shoes, orange flip flops, white ballet slippers, tan walking shoes, grey running shoes, green high-top sneakers, pink baby booties, beige beaded sandals, dusty rubber fireman boots, espadrilles, baseball cleats, hush puppies, penny loafers.....

Monday, December 15, 2008


We have several Iraqi neighbors, mostly children and widows. Last night we met an older gentleman outside the laundry room shared by several of the apartments owned by our landlord. As he waited for his laundry to dry, this man helped my husband clear the ice from our porch which those doing laundry must cross to get to the laundry room in the basement.

This morning I ran into him again. He smiled and said hello. Then he pointed at me and said several times with great emotion "I like, I like", nodding his head. I immediately blushed, as he had pointed in the general direction of my chest and I imagined he was commenting on my breasts. But then I remembered that he was NOT an American fact, he had been doing laundry the night before....and when I look down at the sweater I was wearing, I realized what he "liked".

I had buttons on my sweater that were peace signs. I nodded back at him and said, "I like, too."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rupert's Christmas Card

Christmas cards are probably the only holiday custom I do not rant and rave about. I've even been known to mail one or two myself, although I can't find the energy this year. This tradition of connecting with friends and family from a far suits my desire to keep alive the joy of receiving handwritten messages in a card pulled from an envelope taken from a mailbox you actually have to get up and go outside to open up.

We received a Christmas card from Rupert again this year! His handwriting looks suspiciously similar to my mother-in-law's. I loved the verse in this year's card:

Joyous Christmas wishes from
the canine member of the family
who sits, rolls over, fetches
and in the spirit of the season....

pees on earth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Second Printing


I had to read the e-mail several times because I didn't believe it.

I only have one copy of "Taking Heart", the book of poems Mary Ellen and I published, left on my office bookshelf....because I've given so many away.

Our reading at Lavender Inkwell was in October. I never expected that in just two months we'd have received a check already from the bookstore with a request for MORE books because they've sold out.

Does this mean I'm really a poet?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Such Fun Was Had By All

Plowshares was a blast, indeed.
This is my friend's son, Dawson, modeling one of my hand-knit hats; he was about the only one sleeping through the weekend.
Here's my very favorite step-brother Rick and his beautiful lady friend, Donna, modeling the hat she bought from me. We had such fun going out to dinner with them after the craft fair was over!

And then hubby modeling one of my stocking caps....note our friend Bob laughing in the background. Bob and his wife, Jane, bake treats for cats and dogs and have the booth behind us. We laughed the "down time" away....though there wasn't much of that.
I'm already looking forward to next year!
Thanks to Katherine for these last two photos, to darling Emily for working for us on Sunday and to the woman who called her mother who then came in and once again bought every rag rug I had with me and to everyone who stopped by to chat. Peace to all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Plowshares is the Craftsfair and Peace Festival sponsored every first weekend in December for the past 38 years by the Syracuse Peace Council. I have been honored to be a part of this celebration. I am packed and ready to set up my "Knit Wit" booth for this weekend's celebration and reflecting on the joy this annual event brings me.

Becoming a part of the Plowshares "family" was truly a blessing. Eleven years ago I lost the job I thought I would still have today due to the merger of two non-profits and the elimination of the administrative position I held. My immediate reaction, since it was the holiday season, was to take some time living on severance pay and unemployment while I decided what to do next and try to deal with the absolute anger I felt.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I ripped up every one of my business suits and dresses and crocheted the strips I made into rag rugs. This greatly helped me deal with some of the devastation. But then I sat back and said, "Ok, now what do I do with these 54 cute little rugs I've made?" A former colleague, another victim of the merger, suggested I see if I could be a last minute addition to Plowshares....a long shot, it was way past the deadline, only two weeks before the festival was scheduled....but they said I could have a small booth.

I had no idea what I was in for, but I lugged a card table and my rag rugs to a community center, stuck price tags on them and watched people actually pick a rug out they liked, pay me and take it home with a smile on their face....even when I told them "this was a dress I used to wear to our annual Board of Directors Retreat."

Near the end of the day, when I was very pleased that I would only be taking 14 rugs back home with me, a woman approached me and offered me a deal for all I had left. I took it. I didn't realize this usually doesn't happen. When she left, I kind of sat there, not really knowing what to do with my em ply table because I had to stay until the show was over. There was a sudden burst of applause from the other crafters....I was shocked when I realized it was meant for me. One of them came over to me and said, "Do you realize that you've accomplished what we all call 'the crafter's wet dream'? Selling everything?" Of course I didn't. And of course, it's never happened again. But it gave me just the shot of self-confidence I needed at that time in my life to go out and get another job and keep my head up.

I returned to Plowshares, still with rag rugs but adding something new to my inventory every year. Scarves, shawls and purses. This year hats and mittens. And gently used sweaters I've "re-designed" by adding buttons and knit patches. I'm so excited to still be doing it.

The banner on this blog heading is the hand-tie-died cloth that hangs near my booth at Plowshares. It does not belong to me, yet it greets me every year as I enter the facility the Peace Council rents and it keeps me company as I welcome old friends into my booth and greet newcomers. This is my holiday celebration. It's never about making money. I don't care if I sell a fact, I wish I could give it all away, and often give folks such deals I barely make enough to cover booth rental and the cost of yarn. There's such a wonderful, peaceful feeling to the craft fair, and the joy of knowing someone is getting something hand made.

I'm remembering complaining to my friend, Denise, in the past about how knitting "stuff" didn't seem meaningful and she encouraged me to think about it bringing joy to someone else who might not be able to do it....and I'm taking this to heart. Of course, I'm wishing she could be with me this year, to experience the peace of the two days. She'll be in my heart as always.

And Chris will be with me, as always. I'm looking forward to that, even though we will both be exhausted by the amount of work involved. I know that once we finally get everything loaded back at the apartment Sunday evening and crash in our chairs, we'll have huge smiles on our faces. I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Songwriters Spin Magic at Sparkytown

Yes, it was a magical evening in Sparky's dining room last night. The circle of songwriters, guitars resting on their laps in between songs, celebrated their creativity. I was reminded of Mary Chapin Carpenter's term "dashboard poets" as the lyrics shared last night tugged at my poetic senses. How privileged I felt to be surrounded by those who hone words with such loving care until they've found the perfect fit, who struggle and sift through the pile of choices, listening to each syllable until finally all the heads nod and you know that's "it".

I am totally in awe of their musical abilities...even though several of those in attendance who play tell me they haven't been playing for very long. It always sounds glorious to me, no matter the style. I tend to drift through their discussions about where the addition of a bridge might be good or whether the chord should be a G or an A minor or whatever....although last night I did get a good chuckle over someone saying that instead of a bridge they might consider adding a tunnel or an exit ramp.

As usual, there was one performance that knocked my socks off, unexpectedly, both lyrically and with it's funky melody that I'm still humming in my head this morning. I can't wait to share the lyrics with my writing's a poem I'm jealous I didn't write first.

Chris and I felt a part of the group last night. It's taken a few meetings for this to happen, for we are definite outsiders, non-performers. We are enjoying getting to know these folks and our spirited discussions. The laughter here is real. The criticism is honest, even if not always taken to heart. I find myself thinking "That's a little harsh" and then "but it's true" and hoping that the writer will reflect and revise, for revision always makes us better writers, whether we write songs or poetry, the great American novel or political advertisements.

What I don't like about the songwriters night -- especially when it falls on the same Tuesday as one of my writing group meetings as it did yesterday -- is that I can never seem to fall asleep easily because I am so inspired to write afterwards that I toss and turn for hours.

I should just tell them all "thank you".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Favorite Christmas Song

While prepping for our turkey day, Chris catches me whistling in the kitchen. Hubby, knowing all too well that my bah-humbug genes are raging, says, "YOU are whistling 'Jingle Bells'? What's gotten into you?"

"It's the end of my favorite Christmas song," I explain.

He laughs. "YOU have a favorite Christmas song?"

"Yes. ' The River.' By Joni Mitchell."

"Humm," hubby says, "I didn't know Joni wrote Christmas songs."

"Just this one," I say and then recite the lyrics and there is no more need for explanations.

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeers
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on