Thursday, July 19, 2007

There are flowers and then there are knitted flowers..


The deep greens of summer don't get any deeper than now.

Driving along the long rural road from my house to Rt. 6, it's a foliage explosion. The road is a narrow, 2-lane affair with a one-lane bridge across a wandering creek about a mile from my
house. Houses peek out all along the way, but it's mostly woods and fields and more woods. Up and down and all around, the road twists and rolls, with sweet summer's lavishness so perfected it even spills out onto the street.

Low-flying birds of every variety soar crazily; sometimes coming within a hair's breath of my car. Flitting and floating in the air as if under an avian spell.

Through all the deep greens of grass and leaf, beyond the totality of the season's perfection, reflected in towering canopies of leafy naves, cathedral-like, in their glory, lie summer's crowning desire.


They are nature's jewels. Iridescent, multi-colored, dotting the landscape in sapphire, topaz, opal, ruby, amethyst, even ebony, protruding around corners, poking through fences and old outhouses, trailing along ditches, swaying boldly on the medians, usually always in bunches and bevy's, as if safety is in numbers.

Wild daisies with creamy faces, happy black-eyed susans, puffy cornflowers , golden yarrow, the occasional lupines, pretty purple coneflower, snowy yarrow, lush salvia, swaying tall green grasses, stately columbine, fields of wild lavender and pretty primroses, everywhere they are, and they are everywhere.

So, before I go off to Denmark, (my next knitting world stop), I'll post a few pics this weekend of my knitted flowers.

But, in the meantime, walk down the road and see what I mean!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Americans are a lot like knitters

Americans are a lot like knitters.

Yesterday was a typical summer Sunday in July in New Jersey. Hordes and hordes and hordes of cars, suvs, rvs, and motorcycles choking up every conceivable road to the Shore. The Jersey shore. That infamous, low-lying, other-worldly place over the Barnegat bridge. Ocean County sits there all week long, but it's not until Friday or Saturday morning that most of NJ, NY and PA decides to invade it.

Due to the fact that we lived in Ocean County for over 25 years, we're no tourists, only re-visiting what was once home.

The thermometer was showing 97 degrees -- a typical day with haze, and that shimmery heat glazing over the roads while you drive. Everywhere, activity. Roads heavy with traffic, parking lots filled to overflowing with cars, long lines at every stoplight; a sense that all of us are on our own important missions, visiting, beaching, shopping, eating, recreating, whatever; groovin' on a Sunday afternoon.

Still, with all that going on, there was the frantic, hurried, frenzied feel to the day. But, on a steamy July Sunday in NJ that's just how it is. The pulse throbs, the atmosphere is electric, and there isn't a storm in sight.

Each car, each vehicle, is a part of the whole; yet we are all separate and only in a world of our own making. It's funny, really, how we all go where we're going, passing each other, only paying attention to the rules of the road. So there we were, scores of us, hundreds even, cruising along on Rt. 6, Rt. 206, Rt.15, I-80, I-280, the Garden State Parkway, Rt. 70, New Hampshire Ave, Rt. 9, and every side street in between; seemingly a part of a greater whole, but with the feeling of complete anonymity.

That's why it made no sense watching the black BMW coming straight at us, rolling in a crooked line towards our Saturn. On second glance we realized the driver was slumped unconscious, his left arm hanging out the window, his head, black hair, completely down on the open window ledge. The front of his car was badly smashed and all along the driver's side as well. Then, looking past this wrecked vehicle, we caught sight of an suv on its side at the intersection of New Hampshire ave. and Rt. 70.

Instantly, we drove into the Exxon station on the corner and Bob got out and ran to the overturned suv. I, too, stepped out. Stepped out into a world full of people; no longer in their cars, but hurrying, scattering, immediately stopping their cars so no more traffic came through. Running to the BMW, running to the suv. Instinctively I dialed 911, like, I'm sure, so many others did. I was able to tell the operator exactly where I was, and when she asked "is it a bad accident?" I replied, "a very bad accident."

Within a few minutes we watched as Bob & about six or seven other men righted the suv, for underneath was the man who was driving in the vehicle with his wife and 2 children. He lay there on the road, bloodied, not moving, then turned on his side. The other man was still unconscious in his BMW and a woman was cradling his head in her hands while others stood around her as if for support.

We didn't wait for the ambulances to appear, but, the images stuck in our heads all the way home.

Then, it occurred to me, that all of us driving around, anonymous to one another, will, in an instant, come to each others rescue, will put our own safety on the line, if necessary, to help each other out if we need to. All different ages, sizes, colors, religions if you asked.

All different. All the same. All Americans.

You could liken all of us to yarn. Cotton, wool, chenille, acrylic, mohair, ribbon, specialty, worsted, sport, baby, fingering, lace, and on and on. Some don't seem to go too well with others; some are a natural pair, some once you put them together, you are surprised indeed at how well they look together.

No matter the yarn, whichever way you knit it, they all produce the same look, really, they will give you the same sweater or scarf or socks, or afghan; just a different variety, that's all.

We are all different looks, aren't we, just variations on a theme.

So, the next time someone says to you, "America isn't so hot, it's not that great a place", agree with them. And then proceed to tell them, "America is not a great place, it's the greatest place there is."

The good Samaritan would agree with you.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Yarn On Needles....Stones In Water.....

The last 5 years have been transformative for me. I think it happened when I looked at a claim today, here at work, and the street address said 'Brandon Road.'

If I was still living on Brandon Rd., I most likely wouldn't be having any money challenges and I could satisfy an inner itch for shopping by constantly going to the malls or online to buy. Every day something new, every day something else, every day more and more, fill the rooms of my house with more color, re-decorate, re-furnish, re-align, re-do, re-make.

To what end?

Indeed. How much "stuff" do we need? If I already have 40 pairs of shoes why do I need another? And what about the 50 books I want to read, but haven't gotten to yet? Fifty books; I'm not a speed reader, so that's going to take some time.

In 2002, we went out of the box, Bob & I did. We put our 4-bedrm suburban home up for sale, left good-paying jobs and bought an Inn. We moved to New Hampshire, took on a business we knew nothing about and excelled at it; loved taking care of all the particulars, all the business of the business. Yes, it was scary, from the moment the 'for sale' sign was planted out on the front lawn, through all the paperwork and phone calls, in getting financing and finalizing all the legalities, right down to getting used to a new state and new town and new people.

But we did it!

Challenges are the best things in life, they can be just as heart-stopping and exhilarating any other heady elixir. I remember a blue and white placemat I did up in needlepoint probably 20 yrs ago, and how HARD it was, how difficult to follow the pattern, yet I was absolutely determined to get it done and I did! How in recent years I've taught myself the particulars of "lace" knitting, and love the daring-do of figuring out how to create this wispy, delicate pattern which is beginning to take shape.

It is in the stepping forward, coming out of our comfort zones, enduring risk, thinking for my self, stepping up, being brave; Nike is right, just do it!

Here is my latest knitting project:

It's not exactly challenging, it's easy, in fact, something I've done many times before, combining stitches which, if I had a dollar for everytime I've knit them I'd be a billionaire! It frees my mind, though, to think up new projects, new knitting ideas, while at the same time, I'm creating something as well.

And I need the time, the space to knit "mindlessly", if you will, because there is so much else which has entered my life. There's my website, The Knit Stitch, the writing of this blog, My Space, my monthly newsletter, creating a new ebook and getting my "other" book set for publishing.

Publishing! Me? Am I sure this is right, me? Shouldn't I be just sitting here, at a low-paying job, satisfied with what I've got and leave it at that? No, I'm learning it's no fun to be on the straight and narrow, because you miss out on life while you have your nose to the ground.

How does the song go again? "I wanna live forever, I heard you say, But never say forever That ain't the way 'Cause I don't wanna live life by design So never say forever It's such a long, long time." From "Never Say Forever."
(For one of the best CD's I've heard in ages, go see the SweetLife. )

Safe is not good, it's only easy.

And to get where you want to be, can be a many-layered road; just defining your goals is only peeling away the initial sheen -- then it's on to the very heart of the challenge, seeing all the details, doing all the chores, checking them off your list as you go and having the satisfaction that they are now accomplished. And isn't THAT a nice word!

The Inn didn't work out. Not the way we planned, anyway. How many others can say the same? What has come and gone in 5 years for you? We have found another house, other cars, new friends. My nephew has died, a trusted Internet mentor met an unexpected death, my mom has passed away. Big blows, hitting hard, coming at you from the side and from behind; intended for creating great upheaval and unhappiness.

At first, it does. As time passes, though, as the fog slowly lifts away, you should be left with something you probably didn't possess previously; a clarity, as to what is most important, a luminosity on making your life count for something.

It's quiet at the center, quite like throwing a stone in still waters -- do it just once and watch what happens -- ripples move the water, one, then two, then three and more, outward, larger, stronger as thought creates action, which creates more action and creates new thought. If you are progressing in ways amenable to you and you alone (this is life's keystone), then thoughts and actions oftentimes lead to metamorphosis; to a "you" who never could have been "you" even five years ago.

I could still be living on Brandon Rd. My life could be ordered, secure, on track. Or I can be where I am, knowing not what tomorrow will bring, yet believing that those ripples in the water will touch others.

That will make all the difference.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Flavor (or Flavour) Of The Day

Synchronicity. A work, an action, an impulse, that when it works right, it works to perfection.

There are days, rare jewels, in all our lives, where the flow of life sifts over and through all the dynamics, all the free-spiritedness which make up our days, our ordinary, routine, mundane existences, and turns them into that which we never expect, yet truly forever anticipate.

It's only through the grace of God that I write these words, that the thoughts which crowd into my head all day long were determined by a power unlike anything we can possibly imagine. That what we know here, what we see, what we think, how we perceive our world, is a mere sliver of a glimpse, into the powers on the other side. It is as if we've opened the door, but just barely; our hand actually, is on the door handle, a slight pull to reveal what is there, yet we have barely rattled the door lest we believe it has actually opened before us. Sometimes, our arrogance precedes us in every way.

Monday Monday. This day dawned absolutely beautiful. Cool. Not humid, chilly even, 55 degrees on the car thermometer. And this in July! In Pennsylvania! Driving along the road out to Route 6, all is sunny, green, lush, everything summer should be in its full redundancy. As I came to the stop sign here came the dump truck armada with what looked like at least five vehicles behind them, slowly snaking their way up the little hill towards me. With plenty of space to go, I pulled out and watched the line slowly recede in my mirror as the open road stretched out in front of me. How many times does that happen? Hand of God? I'd say.

Traffic was sparse and after I got gas, I pulled onto the entrance ramp to I-84, east. The ramp is long and bends uncomfortably when you drive it too fast, but to the melodic strains of Josh Groban singing the rhapsodic last bars to "Home to Stay", my car floated around the ramp as if seized by the rhythmic strains and in total conformity with its heartbeat.

As the ramp spilled onto the highway itself, the full, last strains to the song ended in perfect harmony to my driving as the empty lanes yawned ahead. It is here where Milford stays hidden in the trees except for the occasional horse farm or hill that appear now and then.

Celtic strains took over and the heavy drumbeat and bewitching sounds of The Sweet filled my car. Again, as I rolled through sun and shade, green and greener, as finally, my silver Saturn descended the rise and turned towards New Jersey, strains of "calling all the people of colour race and creed" created out of Picato Strings, Fender Squire, Korg Keyboards, Line 6 Pod, Soundscape/Sydec Digital Technology and Jeff Brown's delightful voice sounded through the Shure microphone. As the song drifted into its instrumental meditation, I headed east once again, where high hills surrounded me and the vista, here, is beyond extraordinary.

Three states meet at this juncture, NJ, NY and PA -- and nothing this impressive met my eye while living in New England where majestic landscapes seem, surely, second nature.

Nestled serenely today, abounding mostly hidden from our eyes is the Delaware River. Driving over the bridge into New York State, "SweetLife" gave way to "Hell Raiser", whose pulsating frenzy suits the trek up the mountain perfectly.

Four miles to the top and looking out at this most unusual of summer mornings, temps in the 50's, crystal clear see-for-miles tableau, I have my eyes peeled on I-84 going west.

Just before leaving PA a large tractor-trailer painted in the not-to-be-missed purple of "Crown Royal" whiskey passed me going the other way. It occurred to me then, that the race had just concluded in New Hampshire and that those who didn't depart yesterday were making the exodus today and looking for all roads south -- or at the very least, roads west, and then south. Another rig with "CAT" on its side passed by, must be Dave Blaney's (he & I share the same birthday), then something green with "Toyota" emblazoned all across the back, but not Jeremy's I could see, Mayfield being my favorite driver. Another rig with the "07" number of Clint Bowyer all over it, and another large rig all in black with fancy stencil-like logo's on it, which will remain forever lost to me as the trees got in my way.

From the top of the mountain, (Greenville, NY) the view through my rearview mirror is dizzying indeed; as PA seems to rear up at right angles to where I am driving. But, all settles down with the short descent past Exit 2 and then Orange County stretches out pasturally and verdantly with each passing mile.

Mal McNulty is screaming something about "x-ray specs", when the ultimate in RV living drives by going the other way; I see one, then two, then eventually count about 15 RV's in total, all custom, specialty-painted, state-of-the-art RV's, and I wonder which Nascar driver belongs to each one, with their big SUV's in tow behind.

Driving along towards my destination, it occurs to me how lucky we are in this country to just go where we want to go, over bridges, through tunnels, around mountains and down country roads without armed guards or tanks waiting for us along the way. On my drive home as I headed down the mountain toward home, I-84 stretched out like a winding ribbon away, away into the hills ahead.

This Monday was so much more than mere vanilla. Beyond anything blah, and ho-hum, it took on it's own distinct affectations; a little sweetness, some acidity within the workday itself, but, a bittersweet aroma as still the sun flicks off the tallest branches of the trees all around my house.

Right down to pulling into my parking spot at work, and having "Love Is Like Oxygen" stop on the dime as I put my car into park. Who could have ever guessed?

Someone is watching.


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