Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

These crazy little snowmen were made by Danny and his friend while they were waiting for the schoolbus the other day. They got a little melted before I could take their pictures, but I thought I'd share them anyway!

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate. Peace. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Red-tailed Hawk Returns...

Remember how I told you guys a few weeks ago about the red-tailed hawk that flew down from a tree and over the hood of my car, right in front of my windshield, for several minutes? Well, the SAME THING happened again on Sunday. Isn't that weird?

I was in the passenger's seat this time, and it flew directly in front of me, I was so afraid we would hit it. It was really close.

The oddest thing was, Dave, (who was driving), didn't even see it! He had his sun visor down and I guess it blocked his view. Danny was in the backseat and he saw it though.

What's up with that? Do hawks normally swoop down into traffic and fly right in front of the windshield of cars? If so, why?

Maybe this is a mysterious hawk-message I need to investigate.

Friday, December 16, 2005

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout... [UPDATED]

I have that song stuck in my head today. I was singing it in the car on my way to work. I loved these guys, who didn't? Who could NOT love them?

I think I'm going to go see "Walk the Line" finally. I know nobody but nobody could really play either one of them, but I think I want to see it anyway.


So we went to see Walk the Line last night. I liked it! I had this mental block about the movie because I said to myself: "nobody can play them", but then it dawned on me:"Well, *duh*, so what? Get over it." So I did.

I think Joaquin Phoenix really did a very good job. He was actually better than I expected him to be. Dave didn't like the movie and said he thought that Phoenix overacted and "chewed up the scenery" throughout the movie. This is kind of true in a way, yet it somehow worked for me. Yes, he did a little too much brooding, snarling and lip curling, yes he swaggers and poses a bit too much... but he kind of had to, in a way.

It's ironic, since I associate Johnny Cash with a kind of understatement and substance-over-style... yet he was also so naturally charismatic that in order to give him that large presence that most people just don't have, Phoenix had to overdo it. Does that make sense?

And, as Rusty points out in the comments below, Cash was a performer, and I'm sure at least some of his own gestures and mannerisms were studied. It's just that he was subtle enough in doing it that it seemed utterly convincing. Phoenix may fall short at times, but I think he does as good a job as any actor could do in that role.

Those are big shoes to fill, and a big voice too. As for the singing, Phoenix's voice isn't as deep as Johnnys, so he has to reach for it. He missed a few notes, but he does a decent job. At points, it's great!

Now, I'm biased, since I hold her in even higher regard, but I was a little disappointed in the choice of Reese Witherspoon to play June. I know the critics loved her. I think she's a really good actress, she obviously gave it her all, she had tremendous energy, skillful timing and even sang like June.

The thing is, Witherspoon is just too cute to play June. She doesn't have that slightly goofy-amazing-grace that June had. I kind of wish they had picked some unknown actress who had that quality instead.

June, (even more than Johnny, and that's saying a lot!) personified that quality of wabi-sabi that I love. She was both hillbilly-homely and radiantly beautiful at the same time. She was so unapologetically herself that she embodied the essence of "cool" to me, whatever that is.

I think Witherspoon made June seem too perfect, a little too calculating. Watching Walk the Line, it's obvious that he is crazy about her, but not that she is equally crazy about him. They do have chemistry on screen, but it mostly seems to flow from him to her. He comes across and a psycho-drug-mess, and she as an hard-headed angel. I know that's part of their mythology, but I think they could have tried to show a little more than that.

If you listen to the lyrics of "Ring of Fire", you know she was totally madly in love with this man who was married. It was an inner moral struggle. I think she really feared going to hell. The movie gives me the impression that she was just afraid of public disapproval for being perceived as a "homewrecker". I think that sells her short. I also think Vivian, Johnny's first wife, is shown in a poor light.

Still, overall, Walk the Line was enjoyable. There are some great moments in it, it's funny and touching and and the music is rocking. It's T-Bone Burnett just as much as it is Johnny Cash, but it's still good.

Of course, nobody could really be like Johnny and June, they were each so unique and so authentically themselves. But I've decided that's ok with me. I see the movie as sort of a tribute to them, and I'm glad there is one.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Uncle Kevin's Socks

I finally finished these giant socks for my Uncle Kevin. I've been working on them off-and-on since about last year at this time. (People often ask me how long it takes to make things and it's hard to say, since I knit a bunch of different things at once, and often stop a project for months, only to pick it up again. )

Kevin is my favorite uncle (even if he is a Republican!). He's a charming and lovable guy. He tells funny, colorful, unpredictable stories with ease, and he has a fine singing voice too. Both of these qualities are enhanced by a few beers, which he does enjoy. At every family gathering he and my dad would get a little buzzed and sing very loud. For some reason this upset their wives, who would try to get them to shut up, but we kids loved it.

I can't hear: "Bye-bye Miss American Pie", "Blue Moon", "Molly Malone", "Sea Cruise" or any Beatle's tune without thinking of him. He gave me my first record albums: the Beatle's Abbey Rd and Sgt. Pepper's, and I listened to them a million times.

He's very Irish, and I love that about him. He's a lifelong local politician and attorney. Also a former judge, so he married my husband and I. He also helped us with the closing on our house, and always gives me legal advice for free. I'm happy to be mature enough now to recognize that he won't be around forever, and I should do something to show him I love him and I appreciate how much he means to me. He's had a bad case of Lyme disease lately, so I worry about him.

When I first tried to learn to knit there was much cursing, ripping back and feeling discouraged, but my uncle was very interested in my progress, and always asked me to knit him some heavy wool "hunting socks" (he doesn't hunt, he just calls them that). He described watching his grandmother knitting such socks for him, and every so often taking a sip of the whiskey she kept in the cabinet.

He kept pestering me about the socks, but back then I wondered if I'd ever learn to knit at all, let alone make socks on 4 double-pointed needles, or "turn a heel". I did want to though. I appreciated that he cared, and didn't just say: "Why don't' you just buy some socks, what's the point of trying to make them?" like the rest of my family did.

"What color should I make them?" I asked. "The color doesn't matter, any color. But really thick socks" he'd say, "made of wool".

As I persisted and was frustrated, and one night, at a certain point I felt my hands guided, as though by another pair of older woman's hands. Was it the hands of my sock-knitting, whiskey-drinking great-grandmother, from Co. Galway, who I never met? Or just developing muscle memory and motor neurons? Who knows? But I like to think it was her, and maybe she taught me so that I could finally make these socks for Uncle Kev. After that, my knitting improved dramatically.

Kevin is over six feet tall and has size 13 feet. These socks are so big they look silly! But I had him measure his feet, so I think they are right. Even if they are a little big, it's not hard to shrink them in the wash.

There is a story my mother always tells about how my uncle came to visit us when my dad was stationed in the Air Force at Waco Tx, and our dog, Rain, a German Shepherd puppy, chewed up his shoes. He had to go home on the plane wearing a pair of my dad's shoes, which were way too small. His heels hung off the back.

He's very skinny too, so I hope I didn't make the calves too big. (I have huge-former-waitress-calves, so I tend to make them on the big side, but he has string bean legs. )

The pattern was from my favorite, and most used knitting book: The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd.

The yarn is a strand of gray Icelandic wool from Tongue River Farms (this is awesome yarn BTW, I bought it at the NY Sheep and Wool festival a few years ago, and I liked it so much I bought a bunch more of their yarn this year). and a strand of natural Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport weight held together to get that rag-wool look. They are really, really soft and not scratchy at all.

The idea of making the cuff, heel and toe natural and the rest of the sock gray came from Folk Socks: The History & Techniques of Handknitted Footwear by Nancy Bush. It's a traditional Irish/Scottish/Welsh type color combination. The author describes knitting a pair of socks like this in Wales, and an older man coming up to her and saying "My mother used to knit socks just like that".

I plan to wrap them with a big red satin ribbon and send them soon. I hope he likes them!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Voices of Katrina Survivors - Race, oppression and murder.

I try not to dwell on politics, world events, etc., not because I am apolitical -- actually just the opposite. I have a tendency to get so caught up in worry, rage, despair etc. about these things that sometimes I can barely function in my own personal life, and I have to make an effort to avoid that state of mind. That's one of the reasons why I made this blog, to focus on the positive, on my spiritual side and on my connection with nature, which gives me strength.

However, once and awhile I have to make an exception, and let my feelings out because I can't hold them in, and this is one of those days.

Amy Goodman is my hero and role model. I try to listen to her radio show as often as I can. I feel she is one of the only journalists who has any integrity these days. This morning I listened to her show in the car on my way to work. As I listened to the voices and stories of black people who survived being kept in an armed camp, dehydrated, threatened and starved by our federal government, during a crisis in which those very government agencies were supposedly "helping" them, day by day white people selected out of the crowd to be relocated elsewhere... a piercing pain split my head and tears seeped from the corners of my eyes. I feel so enraged by this. My head is still killing me.

One woman said: "They really left us there to die, and the only thing that they didn't expect was how many of us did survive.."

Once again, as I have felt so many times, I am ashamed to be white in this racist country. I am furious. After all we've been through, after the Civil Rights movement haven't we learned one fucking thing?

And once again, the mainstream media doesn't allow the voices of the oppressed to be heard.

Please listen to the download of this program if you have a chance. We need to hear these voices. Only by shining light on these things and talking about them openly can we ever hope to get to a better place.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Master Key

I think this is interesting. A little New Agey, but hey, that never stopped me before! :-)

Check it out!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Weekend Update (no Tina Fey, sorry!)

On Friday Danny was a play at school that he and his friends made up. It was called "Utica on a School Night". It's about a group of kids who go to Utica (on a school night, natch) to see a rock concert, by a band called "The Centipedes". The band is late, and when they do arrive, they suck. The audience heckles them. The band apologizes and says they will play at their house for free. The audience is placated. The end. Danny played a "Rockin' out Grandpa". He went up to the band and said: "You Suck!" in an old-guy voice. It was pretty silly.

Saturday we just hung around in our pajamas all day and relaxed by the woodstove. I hennaed my hair. I should have been hunting but I didn't feel like it. At night we watched a documentary called "Hell House", about the Christian Right making these "Haunted Houses" to show what happens to sinners in hell. It was wacky.

Yesterday we were going to go with some of our friends to cut down a Christmas tree, but Ginny's father (who lived with them and who they were taking care of, he was very old) passed away in Sat. morning. The poor things. They really loved him.

It's so weird because Joanna's dad died last year right around Christmas too. What's with people dropping dead around the holidays? This is corny, but I had the radio on Sunday morning, listening to Christmas carols at breakfast, and James Taylor was singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and he changed the lyrics a bit, to "Throught the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow, if not we'll have to muddle through somehow..." and I thought how sad that was, then I called Ginny and heard her sad news... Ah well.

We put up the artificial tree we had in the garage and decorated the house. I put eggnog in my coffee. It was delicious. I tasted the fruitcake, alas: it was soggy. Too much booze perhaps? :-(

I went to the pet store and bought Danny a beta fish and a little tank to put it in. He named it Charles.

I also went to the supermarket and bought roasted chickens and mashed potatoes and other stuff to bring to Ginny's house, since no one wants to cook when they are grieving. And all those neighbors stop by and you have to feed them something.

This morning I discovered that my wallet is missing.

I went back to the supermarket this morning and they had the transaction on video, and it shows I put my wallet back into my pocket as I left. So it either 1) fell out of my pocket in the parking lot or in my car (I've searched my car 500 times) 2) was pickpocketed on my way out of the store or in the parking lot (I don't remember anyone following me, but I guess it could happen) 3) fell out of my pocket somewhere at Ginny's house (she can't find it) or 4) it's somewhere at home, although this seems unlikely since I normally keep it in my jacket pocket and had no reason to take it out (plus I've searched everywhere). I went to the bank this morning and cancelled my debit card. Bummer, but it could be worse I suppose!

How was your weekend?

UPDATE: I found my wallet! It was in my friend's driveway, all frozen, like a wallet-cicle. Everything was in it. What a relief!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Random stuff...

Too busy to blog much lately you guys, but here's a quick summary for any who may be interested:

Thanksgiving: We visited some friends in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and it was a really nice time, very relaxed and comfortable. We took a long walk in the snow, if you want to see pics, visit my pal Fangmonster's blog.

Deer hunting: No venison yet. For those who might find it offensive, fear not... I'm not very good at it. :-) Also, I haven't had as much time to hunt this year, I've only been out a few times.

My method of hunting is called "still hunting" or "stalking". It's one of the most difficult types of hunting to master. Deer, like cows, must chew their cud, so after feeding they lie down and do that. I move very slowly and quietly, into the wind, and try to sneak up on them in their "beds". I managed to do just that a few weeks ago. (I'm actually kind of proud of myself because this is the first time I've actually done it. Deer are hard to sneak up on. )

I only saw the big rear end of a deer, and the flashing white tail as it leapt away from me! It was close, only about 10 yards or so. I didn't shoot because I will only shoot if I get a clear shot at the vital area. But I thought: "What an excellent rump roast that would be!" :-)

Rather than try to follow it directly (which I decided would be pointless, as deer are a lot faster than humans and always watch their back trail) I decided to follow it along a parallell path, hoping to meet up with it at another point further ahead. But no, that deer was too tricky for me, and dissapered entirely. I tried the same spot a week later, hoping to catch it in it's bed again, but it wasn't there.

My husband says I am making things too hard for myself and that I might be better off next year to get a tree stand. He thinks the chances of being able to shoot a deer while still-hunting are pretty slim. Maybe he's right. I like still-hunting though, plus I think I would be totally cool if I really learn to do it well. I do get a little discourged at times though. Plus, I do actually want some venison, so... maybe next year I'll get a tree stand.

My class: It's almost over, thank God. I'm working on their final exam.

Knitting: I finished a pair of giant wool socks for my dear Uncle Kevin, and I'll put a pic of them up soon. I need to make Dave another pair. I need to knit a hat for my neice, Grace, too.

Now I'm caught up in a flurry of Christmas shopping. Danny wants bongo drums. :-) I just bought some boots for a certain someone I know... :-)

Soon we'll be cross-country skiiing, if we get any snow!