Thursday, December 16, 2010

Well this is embarassing

So I seem to have found a knitting technique I can't do. And the worst of it is that I left it too long, and it's close enough to Christmas that I might have to actually give up on this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

That Homemade Look

So now that the baby (who I'm sure doesn't use the internet much) has received his gifts, I can show you the pencil pillow I made:
It's from the Readers' Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, and I mostly followed the instructions. I hadn't seen any pictures of it online, so here we go. Sorry there's none with a scale factor, it was just past my waist if I stood it on end on the ground. There's a few mistakes, one of which was me not examining the pattern for what wasn't said carefully enough (there's a trick to turning the point that I forgot about), one was me not thinking when I changed the pattern (no, you cannot do machine top-stitching after you stuff it. Trust me.) One of the problems, however, brings up an interesting philosophical point. The appliqué lettering has issues. Now, had I made the pencil without the letters, it would have been fine. It would fall on the "handmade" side of the "homemade" vs "handmade" dilemma from the knitters' point of view. At least, it could have. But, without the letters, the pencil wouldn't have been quite as good. And the portion without the letters is just as good as it would have been either way. I know that I personally would feel better if I make something simple well, than if I make something fancy poorly, even if I show the same level of skill each time. But when I add something complex to something simple, where does that fall?

And I need to share that having a mechanical engineer around the house is great for sewing, not just for fitting stuff (and knitting). Look at what Allan suggested so that I could more easily do the topstitching:
See that tape? Genius I tell you. (I didn't have a marking on the plate, because I was using the edge of the feed dog, because the topstitching needed to be right at the edge).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Martha and Mary, again

The lectionary gospel reading recently was the story of Mary and Martha. I've always had a hard time with this one. I am very much like Martha, who appears to be in serious trouble in this story. It's a really strong resemblance. When we had "The Sons of Martha" read for us I had a really hard time seeing how it says that life might be better if we cared more for the finer things - i.e. if we were more like the sons of Mary. I'm still not sure that I see it that way. And yet this gospel story seems so clear - it's better to lead the contemplative life than to fret about cooking and cleaning.

Fortunately theology has evolved to recognise that our bodies are important too. Yes, there's still recognition that those who are called to consecrated life have a harder time, because it is so much more counter-cultural, but it's generally understood (especially by theologians) that other calls are just as valid and just as holy - not merely second chances for those who can't cut it with the "good" call. I remember explaining in confession that really, I did corporeal acts of mercy. I'm not very good at the spiritual ones. My confessor at the time reassured me that that wasn't a loss, it was still good service. But yet the story remains.

So after mass I talked to Father Con about it. I told him my dilemma, and how it seemed very clear-cut (but impractical) in the story. He pointed out to me that I needed to remember the context. Why did Luke feel the need to include this story? What was he trying to say? The key message here is to focus on what's important. Don't let yourself get distracted by minutiae. If you serve by cooking and cleaning, then focus on that, but make sure that you focus on the service, not on the cleaning.

I think I can do that. It won't be easy, but it's possible. Which makes it sound much more correct to me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


So I think I saw a crow raiding a nest today. While waiting for the bus I heard a starling giving the oddest cry - it sounded almost like a juvenile, but this was clearly an adult bird. I watched it fly in a large circle and land on a roof - next to a crow. Frankly, that part was cool enough - I had heard the bird calling for help in chasing out a crow. (No other starlings ever came, by the way). The starling stood on the roof by the crow for a while, and then backed off to the nearby tree, screeching all the while.

The cool part came when I noticed that the crow was poking its head into a crack behind the eaves trough. Now, I watched it very closely, and it never pulled anything out, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if there was a nest in there. I don't know if it was gulping eggs/nestlings down really quickly, or if it couldn't reach. But either way, it was cool.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

In Memoriam

I'm fairly sure that anyone reading this already knows, but last week a good friend of mine died at the end of a long illness. The difference in this case is that there are many people with whom he worked who was unaware that he wasn't perfectly healthy. Jeff Aho, a former classmate and good friend of mine, committed suicide. Various people found out at different times, and it always came as a surprise, because he seemed so normal. I know that he, and probably others, felt at times that he should just be happy, but it never worked out that way, no matter how many different treatment options he tried.

Jeff, you were a wonderful person, and for as long as I knew you you always cared deeply for the people around you. The last message we have from you is that you're sorry, and Jeff, I forgive you.