Gaelic McTigue, at All Things Bright and Beautiful in Waitsfield, Vermont, fills orders from around the world to create painted wooden ornaments. Here she is in her shop. Below is a bear ornament that she signed for two of our grandkids. (We got a Swedish elf ornament for our Swedish-American grandson’s tree.)
I’ve included a couple other seasonal photos: the Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, tree at Macy’s, the brass band starting to warm up at the craft market.
For a nice Advent carol, check out composer Jeff Fuhrer’s “What Are We Waiting For?” on http://www.soundcloud.com. I tried to upload the MP3 he sent but couldn’t figure out how. Catchy tune.
It has been over a decade since I wrote a book called Kids Embroidery. It was published by STC in 2004 but sadly it is now out of print (and selling for a high price, I must say on Amazon). I snatched up a few and have packaged Kids Embroidery with some embroidery floss and a needle as a special gift for you to give to a friend you might want to inspire to stitch.
The cost is $19.95 plus shipping.
Here are some highlights from this book - one of my very favorites.
Over 50 how-to illustrations Instructions for needlepoint, cross stitch and 17 free from embroidery stitches
22 templates for transferring to fabric
5 needlepoint projects
1 cross stitch project
17 free form embroidery projects
instructions for printing on fabric
inspirational illustrations and info on traditional samplers and embroidery around the world
how-to host an embroidery party
lush photographs including girls and boys stitching
If you order before Christmas, I will throw in an embroidery needle and a couple skeins of embroidery floss for your little friend to start stitching with. I'll even sign the book to your friend if you like.
Here's the link to my website to order. If you want the book signed to someone in particular, please add a note to the order form. NOTE: I do not ship books to Canada or Overseas. Sorry. Postage is more than the book.
Stitch on! Here are some highlight photos from this great book.
|Cross stitch on gingham|
|An example of the how-to illustrations|
|Holiday ornaments in free form embroidery on felt|
|My niece Lillian and cat and dog toys|
|Easy Felt Needlebook Project|
|Needlepoint on plastic canvas|
Like those first grasses
sprouting through the bare patches
amid the snowfall
upon Kasuga Plain,
so wert thou, ah!, scarcely seen.
—27 November-3 December 2013.Original by Mibu no Tadamine. After the old-fashioned direct statements of the previous couple of poems, this has a more sophisticated style, using an imagistic preface hinged upon a pivot-word (with the effect of an implied comparion). Exactly what the pivot is, however, is debated: clearly the preface ends with part of hatsuka ni, "scarcely," but it could be either just ha = "leaf/blade" or hatsu = "first." Arguments for the latter point out that "first/young greens" is a common metaphor for youth and beauty, making it even more of a compliment to the woman, and that Kasuga Plain was famous as a place for gathering them (see #17ff). The spring festival at Kasuga Shrine is, for what it's worth, held in the Second Month. The self-consciously archaic final exclamatory particles wa mo, which hadn't been current since the capital was in nearby Nara, warrant for once a bit of forsoothiness.
yukima o wakete
kusa no hatsuka ni
mieshi kimi wa mo
Francesca has published Pen Pal, an e-book for middle grades through adults. $3.99. (Paperback available by January 1.)
I can’t recommend the book highly enough. It’s the story of two unlikely pen pals who turn out to have a lot in common and, though living a world apart, actually end up helping each other in times of crisis.
Em is a girl in a marginalized community on the southern U.S. coast (think “Beasts of the Southern Wild”) who puts a message in a bottle. The message is ultimately received by Kaya, a young woman in a place that is an amalgam of Asian countries where minorities have struggled to preserve their language and culture. Kaya is a political prisoner because of her advocacy.
It’s an amazingly enjoyable and compelling story, not as didactic as I may have made it sound. Francesca even went to tutor English in East Timor last summer, capping off several years of research about various locales in Asia and on the Gulf Coast.
Here is the message in the bottle starts it all off:
“Dear Person Who Finds My Message,
“I live in a place called Mermaid’s Hands. All our houses here rest on the mud when the tide is out, but when it comes in, they rise right up and float.
“They’re all roped together, so we don’t lose anyone. I like Mermaid’s Hands, but sometimes I wish I could unrope our house and see where it might float to. But I would get in trouble if I did that, so instead I’m sticking this message in a bottle. If you find it, please write back to me at this address. Tell me what the world is like where you are.
If you like the book, enjoy its special website, here. And spread the word.
Everyone needs some form of escape. It’s no accident that the golden age of American cinema coincided with the Great Depression and the advent of World War 2; People needed to get away from the stress and angst of everyday life. I discovered books pretty early and could usually be found tucked away somewhere reading. “Why don’t you go outside and play?” my mother used to ask. Why would I want to? There was nothing to do outside, no one wanted me on their sports team (and rightly so, I sucked at sports) and I burn like a vampire in the sun. Plus I was shy and awkward in any social setting through high school, so reading was pretty much my escape of choice, particularly science fiction and fantasy. It was so much easier to relate to people when you could read their innermost thoughts and fears. I didn’t just read Lord of the Rings; I was with Frodo on Weathertop when the Ringwraiths attacked, and I mourned for Gandalf when he fell in Moria. It was like that with all my favorite books – - I identified with the characters to the point of picturing myself there.
In college, I transferred that love of fantasy to Dungeons and Dragons, and have played many other RPGs since then. Once or twice a week, I got to be a noble elf, cunning rogue, or doughty dwarven warrior, and learned the joys of worldbuilding when I began to run games myself. I’m finishing my current 4E campaign this month and am already planning to run a Pathfinder game and play in another Dungeons and Dragons game.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention video games: Fantasy action and RPG for pure escapism, violent first person shooters for stress relief (cut me off in traffic in RL and I will say nothing, But in Vice City I am going to shoot you with this rocket launcher). I love stalking and sniping bandits with my Khatian rogue in Skyrim. If it’s wrong to put a digital arrow through an oblivious NPC’s head, then I don’t want to be right! :p
The Byzantine Empire, 1025 AD (medium extent)
[click on image for bigger version]
The article below first appeared in Stone Telling issue 1 (Sept. 2010) with the accompanying images in different internal locations. The reposting was triggered by two events but has been in my thoughts for a while, partly because of the recent fashionability of “hidden histories” in SFF. This directive considers “European-based” narratives undesirable as over-represented, shopworn, colonialist, etc. Like many western European history scholars, though for different reasons, the holders of this view (and, ironically, their ideological opponents) conflate “Europe” with its northwestern/central part and erase/ignore portions of European history that have always been unfashionable because they can’t be neatly slotted. Among those so erased are the Byzantines, who weren’t exactly a blink in history’s eye: they bridged east and west for a millennium. Yet on a rapid skim, I can count a single fantasy short story based on them, Christine Lucas’ “On Marble Threshing Floors” (Cabinet des Fées, Jan. 2011).
The shorter fuses that lit my decision to repost came from Twitter. One was an exchange with someone deemed a “scholar” in the SFF domain who informed me that “Greeks aren’t Eastern European, according to Wikipedia” (which makes me weep for the level of “scholarship” in SFF). The second was a link to someone’s article in which they called St. Basil of Caesarea “a Turkish bishop” again invoking Wikipedia as their authority – even though Logic 101, coupled with a modicum of historical knowledge, should have led them to wonder: a Turkish… bishop… in 330 AD?
So without further ado, here’s the article — a companion to Being Part of Everyone’s Furniture: Appropriate Away! and The Hyacinth among the Roses: The Minoan Civilization.
A (Mail)coat of Many Colors: The Songs of the Byzantine Border Guards
Today the sky is different, today the light has changed,
Today the youths are riding out to join in the battle.
– Start of The Song of Armouris, the oldest Akritikón
In the first chapter of Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy, enemies overrun the protagonist’s mountain fortress home. Rather than suffer the usual fate of captive women, his mother leaps to her death from the parapet. Western readers considered this a dramatic gambit, but to me it was routine fare: I had already encountered it in the history and folksongs of my people; prominently so in the Akritiká, the songs of the Byzantine border guards.
The common view in the West is that the Roman Empire fell in the fourth century, when it was overrun by the Goths, Vandals and Alans. In reality, only the western half disappeared under the waves of invaders. The eastern portion became a great multicultural empire that lasted a thousand years and acted as both a buffer and a bridge between Asia and Europe. Instead of Latin its lingua franca was a Greek evolved from the Alexandrian koiné, and its dominant religion was Orthodox Christianity. Renaissance scholars called it the Byzantine empire, but its citizens called themselves Romioí – Romans – and they retained much from the older empire.
One of the Roman customs that the Byzantines kept was the entrusting of their eastern border defense to local militias in addition to the professional army. Ákron is the Greek word for “edge” – so these guards became known as Akrítai. In exchange for their service, they received small land holdings and tax exemptions. Not surprisingly, they were an ethnic and religious kaleidoscope. They were Greek, Armenian, Syrian, Bulgar, Thracian; they intermarried, changing religions as they did so. Usually they acted as guards and scouts, sometimes becoming the brigands they guarded against. They reverted to farming whenever the din of war subsided, though that never lasted long for them to put away their weapons.
From the 8th to the 10th century, the Akrítai were instrumental in checking Arab incursions into Asia Minor, from Syria to Persia to Armenia. They helped the Byzantine army push back the formidable armies of the Damascus Caliphate. They became crucial again in the Black Sea Byzantine empire of Trapezous (Trebizond), founded after the Crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204 in their zeal to punish those the Pope declared schismatics (the Byzantines compounded their unnaturalness by giving some power to women and “effeminate” men and they also happened to possess astonishing riches as well as decadent habits, such as using forks).
From this liminal zone at the edge of the empire arose the earliest Greek folksongs to survive till our days: the Akritiká. The earliest versions hail from the 9th century. Some scholars consider them the beginning of modern Greek literature. The main figure in them is Diyenís (Two-Blood) Akrítas, a cultural hybrid representative of his entire group.
The songs tell that a Saracen emir kidnapped the daughter of a Byzantine general. Her five brothers hunted him down and the youngest challenged him to a duel, the prize being his sister’s freedom. The emir was defeated, but he had fallen in love with her. To keep her, he decided to convert to Christianity and live among her people. Diyenís was the child of this marriage. The lays of the exploits of Diyenís and the other Akrítai are equal parts Homeric saga and chanson de geste – and like them, they were sung by wandering singers (ayírtai) kin to troubadours.
The songs thrum with thirst for honor and glory, attainments that obsess men in such settings: the heroes swear unbreakable oaths, avenge murders and kidnappings of kin, duel and become blood brothers with worthy enemies, receive counsel from faithful horses and prophetic birds, fight entire armies single-handed, slay preternatural beasts. In deeds and attributes they are close to Herakles, Achilles and Cuchulainn, even to the extent of the berserker fury that can possess them in the heat of battle. These echoes have deep and tangled roots. The Akrítai not only lived and died on the plains of Hector’s Troy and the hills of Medea’s Colchis, but long ago the locals had also absorbed the Celts that once comprised the Anatolian nation-state of Galatia.
The songs also echo with laments about courtship and star-crossed love, loveless marriage and abusive in-laws, devotion or hatred between children and (step)parents, enslavement, exile. Through these preoccupations, the other half of humanity appears in the Akritiká. Byzantium was a stiffly patriarchal society that deemed women inferior, temptresses if not controlled. Nevertheless, its women were better off than their Roman, Frankish or Slav counterparts. They did not suffer the inequities of Salic law: they owned their dowries and were equals in inheriting and bequeathing property and status to their children; they could own businesses, be heads of households, even Emperors; and they were at least basically literate, while the upper class produced several female scholars and historians whose works are still studied today.
Young women in the Akritiká are invariably single daughters, prized and cosseted. The apple of their parents’ eye, they are surrounded by an army of devoted brothers. Perhaps the most famous Greek ballad, The Dead Brother’s Song, begins: “Mother with your nine sons and with your only daughter/ Twelve years she had reached and the sun had not touched her/In the dark her mother bathed her, in the dark she combed her/By moonlight and starlight she braided her hair.” A woman’s brothers drop everything to defend, rescue or avenge her.
Although Byzantine marriages were usually arranged, the Akritiká sing the praises of romantic love, just like the courtly love lays they resemble. Their heroines are often kidnapped (sometimes in raids, sometimes by a smitten spurned suitor) but equally frequently they elope with men whose singing or looks they like – as Yseult did with Tristan. The Akritiká also reflect the fact that women wielded real authority in the household. They marked their children’s lives by blessing or cursing them and, as with the Iroquois or contemporary jihadis, only mothers could give their sons permission to go to war.
Women’s power partly arose from the constant war footing of the society portrayed in the Akritiká. It is a sad fact that women’s status is often higher in warlike societies, from the Spartans to the Mongols: they have to keep everything going when the men are absent or dead. In the case of the Akrítai, there was an additional wrinkle. The Byzantine border populations came in touch with the more matriarchal (or at least less patriarchal) Scythians, Sarmatians, Phrygians and Lydians. Around the Black Sea, archaeologists have been excavating kurgans that contained skeletons adorned with jewelry and mirrors – but also with daggers, javelins, quiverfuls of arrows and weapon-inflicted notches on their bones. These tomb occupants merited human sacrifices and their pelvic angle leaves no doubt that they were female, once again vindicating Herodotus whose descriptions tally with the findings.
So women in the Akritiká are not just the “Angels (or Demons) in the House” but appear in yet another guise: as warrior maidens who hold besieged castles and best all men but the hero in single combat. Taking his cue from his Bronze Age confrères (Theseus and Hippolyta or Antiope, Achilles and Penthesilea) Diyenís almost finds his match and soulmate in the Amazon Maximó, a renowned fighter and the leader of her own band. But the more common tropes and mindsets prevail: the encounter ends with her rape and/or murder – and the warrior maidens in the Akritiká either fall to their death (just like Bagoas’ mother in The Persian Boy) or become diminished consorts to their conquerors. Just like the real-life sworn virgins of the Balkans, the women, unlike the men, can only have half a life.
Death, often chosen, awaits the women who cross boundaries. Death is also where the pagan bedrock surfaces in the Akritiká. If illicit lovers cannot reconcile their kin to their decision, they invariably die by suicide, the church teachings ignored. And the afterlife in these songs is not the Christian or Moslem garden of delights, but the dank, dark underworld of The Odyssey and of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea. When Charon (Death) comes for Diyenís, he comes as the warrior whom none can withstand. For three days and three nights the two clash on a stone threshing floor. But Charon always wins, and the hero knows this when he agrees to the duel. The goal is to maintain honor by giving him a good fight. As a final shamanistic turn, the hero’s blood brothers dance and sing around him fully armed while he dies, defiant to the end.
Inaugurating the major shift from the older dactylic hexameter, the Akritiká are in blank verse iambic heptameter: fifteen syllables with a caesura after the eighth one. The style is known as “politikón” (civilian – that is, secular) or “galloping chariot” because of its rhythm. Like the British Border ballads, the songs are unadorned and straightforward, with barely any adjectives or adverbs. They also have a strobe-light effect, highlighting some telling minute action but compressing large swaths of events into a few words. The songs are sung either a capella or with a flourish-free instrumental background – usually the three-string Cretan or Pontian lyre (known as the kemenché to those familiar with World Music albums by Peter Gabriel or Yo-Yo Ma).
Just as the Akritiká were birthed at the borders of Byzantium, so did they persist there. While the rest of the Byzantine territory evolved different songs under Ottoman rule, the Cretans, the Cypriots and the Pontians of the Black Sea continued to sing them. From those peripheries, always more culturally conservative than the center, the lays survived to our days, shards of once great diadems. My people used the Akritiká as rallying cries during times of oppression – the Ottoman era; the German occupation and the resistance to it during WWII; the military junta of the sixties. I was raised and nourished on them. They run and murmur in my veins with all their glories, blind spots and contradictions.
The time has come to let the songs themselves take center stage. Included is a Cretan rendition of the Death of Diyenís by the famous singer and lyre player Níkos Ksiloúris (who, like Diyenís, fought Charon at the flower of his maturity). Here is a bare-bones translation of the text:
Diyenís struggles for his soul and the earth is frightened.
And the gravestone shudders — how shall it cover him?
As he lays there, he speaks a brave man’s words:
“If only the earth had stairs and the sky chain links,
I would step on the stairs, seize hold of the links,
Climb up to the sky and make the heavens quake.”
Sources and further reading/listening (partial list):
John Julius Norwich, Byzantium – The Early Centuries, The Apogee, The Decline and Fall
Neal Ascherson, The Black Sea
Christódoulos Hálaris, Akritiká – Odes of the Byzantine Empire Border Guards vol. 1 and 2
Images within the article:
Diyenís Akrítas, woodcut by Spiros Vassiliou
Amazon, Attic white-figure vase, 470 BC, British Museum
Armed Pontian Greeks dancing to the lyre, Trabzon, 1910
Yesterday I spent part of the day dealing with our well - the underground source of the water here at our farmhouse. If you have been here, you understand that water is a problem. This hill and many of the hills around us don't have good supplies, even though down at the bottom of our hill is the Leyden Glen which supplies most of the water for Greenfield MA. We hired Lynde Well Drilling out of Guildford, VT. It was very interesting to watch what they do and find out where our water comes from - 500 feet below the ground. I got a real kick out of Ken, one of the owners who knew most of the people on our road, considering he has fixed everyone's wells, done hydrofracting of the well to increase water supply, and replaced pumps and tanks.
Winston loving the excitement of people visiting.
I only write this kind of stuff to help me remember when we did what on our house and when. It also helps to inform any city people reading who have dreams of living in the country of some of the stuff we deal with. It's all part of country life. It isn't cheap to be here - everything seems to cost a few thousand if you ask me. At Thanksgiving, I made the so un-Kristin-like choice to use fake plates and silverware. At that point we were very low on water and I couldn't imagine how the toilets would even flush for the 20 people who were visiting. Thinking of starchy foods sitting on plates for days before I could wash them sounded like a nightmare. Next year, it will be back to china plates and real utensils.
I'm happy to report that Julia had her "best shower ever" last night. Seems we have been limping along for years here with no water pressure and a well that wasn't quite pumping right.
We have a new litter of kittens that are ready to go. If anyone knows a family who would like a farmbred, friendly mouse-hunting kitty, please contact me. They are ready to go now and I can keep them until closer to Christmas if needed. There are 2 all black kittens and 3 gray tigers - one with some white socks on it. I think some of them will be short hairs and some will be medium length hair.
All of them are highly social and will make great family pets. One of the black ones is quite a scrapper and I'm looking for him to obtain a position as barn cat as I think he is going to be an incredible hunter.
The kittens were born during the Red Sox run up to the World Series. They are called Boston, Manny, Little Big Pappi, Teddy, and Babe after team members current and past. We will really miss them and are hoping they will find some nice loving homes. The photo below shows the mama Mittens and Manny.
Have a great day everyone!
So glad you have found a way to persevere. My first year in Sweden was horrendous and I spent as much of it as I could with my nose in a book, the most memorable of which was indeed the Lord of the Rings. I read all three books in a week, after borrowing them from the public library in Upplands Bro. That library burned down a few years later and it was impossible to come across the trilogy in English at a library until the movies came out. As soon as my girls’ English is good enough, I’ll start reading the books to them
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December 5th, 2013: TODAY IS A SHIPPING DEADLINE, YO! So treat this as an excuse to click this link and pick out products that you think best encapsulate "hey I think you're pretty cool and I got you this thing, nbd".
Webcomics Rampage is this weekend in Austin, Texas! THAT IS WHERE I'M GONNA BE. Let us hang out! LET US DO THAT
One year ago today: i wrote a frosty the snowman comic and - something happened
I have some new holiday cards for you! The line of Wondermark greeting cards — Monocle Poppers™ — are always popular around this time of year, and I’m pleased to share these 2014 DEBUT DESIGNS:
The design above is by the wonderfully talented Emily Partridge! Emily gave me this design last year and told me I could do what I wanted with it, and what I want to do is pay her a royalty on these cards. Because they’re super great and I like ‘em!
These and dozens of other card designs are available for you to order right now, if you like!
The 2014 Wondermark Calendar
Is available now for pre-order! Its title is:
Roll-A-Sketch Yearbook: 2014 Graduating Class
A Record; A Reminiscence; A Catalog; A Chronicle; An Indictment; A Regret; A Cautionary Tale For All Time of The Grand Experiment & Mistake.
LIKE EVERY YEAR SINCE 2008 — it is available in strictly limited edition only, each piece individually signed and numbered.
LIKE EVERY YEAR SINCE 2009 — you can get the calendar with display apparatus included, or just the cards themselves, if you want to reuse the stand from last year.
LIKE LAST YEAR — this is a biweekly progressive calendar, meaning rather than being broken into months, it’s broken into 14-day chunks, and no matter what day of the month it is, you can always see at least two weeks ahead. (More on the unique design in these posts from last year: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3)
LIKE LAST YEAR — The art is created by me, and beautifully watercolored by my friend Max Loren Shepard!
New For This Year
The art on the calendar is Roll-a-Sketch drawings, with added biographical information about each strange creature! The art is all mine, and the color is by Max.
Last year, we ordered wooden backboards cut to size and then had to spend a bunch of time sanding and drilling holes in every single board. This year, however, I’ve made the acquaintance of a man with a laser cutter! (Seen here working on the deluxe editions of the Machine of Death game.)
The backboards available this year are custom laser-cut wood, with integrated easel legs, manufactured to order by my new best friend, Jason Lioi of Dapper Devil. The separate metal easel is no longer required; this backboard comes in three pieces and can stand on its own once assembled (which takes all of two seconds).
Of course, the cards themselves are fully backwards compatible with last year’s stands.
In addition, I am offering — as an exclusive bonus with the calendars — a brand new book, called Horrid Little Stories:
Horrid Little Stories collects all the calendar content (art and text both — not the grids, though, because who cares) from the 2008-2012 Wondermark calendars. Sixty grim little tales in all! (Max painted the cover to this one too.)
The book is available as an option with the calendar, if you like! All copies of the book that ship with the calendar will be signed by me. For the moment, this particular book is only available here, now, with the calendar.
OH YES AND THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT
I still have all of last year’s original paintings from the Gaxian Almanac. They look like this:
They’re super wonderful pieces of art — my halfway-okay pencil drawings were really enlivened by Max’s beautiful paintings!
So this year, I’m offering the ultra-limited ART COLLECTOR BUNDLE, which gets you the new 2014 calendar, the Horrid Little Stories book, and one of these pieces of original art, matted with that card’s text from last year’s calendar, and signed by me and Max.
The overall matted pieces are 8×10″. Only 29 Art Collector Bundles are available! And only 250 calendars overall are available!
This is a PRE-ORDER. The calendars, books, and original art will ship by December 18.
(If you order greeting cards and a calendar both, unless you specify otherwise I will ship you the cards right away, then follow up with the calendar later in a separate shipment.)
Enliven your life in 2014 with 27 fortnights of Wondermark and Roll-a-Sketch!!
Okay, you and I must be soul mates in at least this: that we both noticed, and cared about Nienna. She made a big difference to me, too.
So many good ways to add color back in. Glad you’re doing it.
I COMPLETELY agree with you on all those points and it’s the one thing that always really pissed me off about the series. But as she is still alive, she could come back around. I figure it’s some Christian thing – that she can rediscover Aslan, as Jesus on Earth and then join them all, but truly, trying to put in Christian messages is not an excuse for suddenly weak storytelling and 86ing one of the original four.
But, yeah, I just wanted to note that was the reason she wasn’t there with them in paradise at the end – she wasn’t killed in the accident they were.
Here’s some good news about south Chicago.
Aaron Cynic writes at Shareable, ” ‘Communication, collaboration, cooperation—those are skills, not just words,’ said Salim Al-Nurridinn, founder of the Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, while standing at the gate of the Cooperation Operation (Coop Op). As the sun slowly began to set on Chicago’s South Side, more than 100 people were gathered in front of a fence surrounding a brand new community garden. …
“What was once a toxic vacant lot is now home to raised garden beds filled with kale, basil, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, and even a few stalks of corn. Many of the beds are made from repurposed boats donated by a nearby marina, a partnership that another local community organization called Friends of Pullman helped to broker. …
“Since the group began building the garden, long-time residents of the Pullman Neighborhood have been a part of the process. Charles Winston, who has lived in the neighborhood for decades, said he began volunteering his time from the beginning.
“ ‘I just came on over,’ he said. ‘I saw people over here so much and said, “I should be over here volunteering my services too.” If we can get everybody to do that, it’d be a wonderful thing.’ ” More.
The Christian Science Monitor collects stories like these from all over the world — and there are lots of them — and features them in the Making a Difference section of the online paper.
Salim Al-Nurridinn cuts the ribbon to open a new community garden created by volunteers on Chicago’s South Side.
Yes, you are right, she wasn’t on the train. My main beef was that Lewis just tossed us into that double alienation of Susan’s both physical (from her friends, parents and siblings, by not being with them on the train) and spiritual, by not being a friend of Narnia anymore. I could have lived with her becoming completely tarnished, but I can’t accept the scant to no background given this rather huge change.
One note: While so true on everything you said about how LAME it was Susan was suddenly not a friend of Narnia, this had nothing to do with why she was not in paradise at the end. The others had been killed in a train accident. Susan wasn’t there, so she wasn’t killed with her siblings. As she is not dead, and the Earth wasn’t destroyed (like Narnia), she of course wouldn’t be there at that moment.
Knowing, not knowing --
why do you uselessly speak
of distinguishing this?
It is love, and only love,
that can act as your guide.
—25 November 2013Original by an unknown woman. So decoding the poetic persiflage, Narihira essentially asked, "Will I be able see you?" and she replied, "Why worry about seeing? If you really love me, you'd find a way for us to meet!" This is about as direct a come-on as you'll find in classical Japanese. Some commentaries claim that the hi, "fire," of omo(h)i, "feelings" here rendered as "love," suggests a torch lighting the way -- and maybe it would to someone steeped in the tradition of the time.
(One of these days I'll have to decide whether, when romanizing, to always treat the inflection of a nari-adjective as a suffix or, as for their modern Japanese descendents, a separate particle. For, yanno, consistancy's sake.)
nani ka aya naku
omoi nomi koso
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December 4th, 2013: AUSTIN: last time I was there (to sign literally thousands and thousands of books) I loved it. So I'm coming back! Webcomics Rampage is this weekend in Austin, Texas! THAT IS WHERE I'M GONNA BE. Let us hang out! LET US DO THAT
One year ago today: sufficiently-advanced reindeer
When I began working for Classic Elite, their main yarn was La Gran Mohair. It was spun in the mill that was just outside my office door. It began as a looped boucle mohair and then was brushed on a giant carding machine, 80 ends at a time, to become La Gran. La Gran is still around, although it is now sourced from overseas. It is a gorgeous fluffy mohair yarn with a core of wool and nylon. La Gran takes dye incredibly and the result is a lustrous yarn which is great for quick knits.
The other day I received the CEY web letter only to see a sweater that looked really familiar. I'm not sure if I designed it but I know I had a hand in it somewhere because I was the Creative Director at that point. Love the lacy drop stitch re-sized for the current silhouette. The pattern is free as a PDF Download and you can find it on Ravelry here. The lovely model is Mackenzie, daughter of Susan Mills, the CEY Design Director. I remember when Mackenzie was born on Valentine's Day 18 years ago!
Check out the current colors of La Gran Mohair here. Gorgeous. I hope I can make Julia a La Gran sweater soon because she loves my old Parisian Brown La Gran cardigan that I still wear that is over 20 years old.
It is my LOVE of mohair and all fine fibers that led me to design Color By Kristin, my 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% mohair yarn which is distributed by Classic Elite Yarns. This blend is so luxurious. Trouble is ----- it doesn't really look spectacular in the skein put-up. It looks rather ordinary. But try knitting with it and you will be hooked. First of all - it is the color that grabs you. And then the way the yarn glides over the needles. The alpaca adds a beautiful softness and drape to the yarn. The mohair adds a gorgeous sheen. The wool adds stability to tame down some of the exotic qualities of the alpaca and mohair (i.e. stretchiness and lack of shape keeping qualities).
Color By Kristin is of course, my current favorite yarn. Maybe your yarn shop carries it? Perhaps you can talk someone into gifting it to you! Amazing colors and so nice to knit. All of the patterns In my PDF Download Collection are made of this yarn.
Here's another new Color By Kristin design called Basilica. This is in the new Cathedral Book published by Classic Elite Yarns.
I designed this sweater with beginning Fair-Islers in mind. (Thanks Meg of CEY for the tip that even some very proficient knitters are still afraid of Fair Isle.) The colorwork is done at the edges of the sweater where there is no shaping. It doesn't take long to work the colorful bands and then it is all smooth sailing with solid stockinette stitch. Here's a back view.
The edges are worked in my favorite Reverse Stockinette Stitch Ridges. I love how they curl backwards into the fabric. You could change the colors up easily. I used Deep Forest 3212, Julia's Pink 3289, Sunflower 3250, Rock Henna 3255, and Coleus 3260 for my version.
There are plenty of other incredibly gorgeous Fair Isle Designs in the Cathedral Book just published by CEY. Most of them are designed by the incredibly talented Susan Mills, the current Creative Director at CEY and Mom to Mackenzie. Check it out here.
I know it is gift knitting season and you probably aren't thinking about learning Fair Isle at the moment. If you want to combine learning Fair Isle with a Christmas Stocking, check out my Kristin's Creative Christmas Stocking Collection. Here's one of the pretty designs - a Christmas tree border with a circle motif. Here it is plain, without embroidery.
Here it is with the Fair Isle border decorated with simple embroidery stitches.
All part of my PDF Download - 6 designs, 4 sizes for $12. Check it out here and order on my website. Or order through Ravelry here. You do not need to be a Ravelry member.
Happy Fair Isle and gift knitting everyone!
In his recent book THE NATURE PRINCIPLE, Richard Louv brings together a host of provocative thinkers and research. He describes the work of Robert Michael Pyle, who writes about the “extinction of experience.” What happens when people lose touch with the outdoors? when we lose our capacity to connect with something beyond the two dimensionality of a screen, mobile or not.
“Our sensitivity to nature, and our humility within it, are essential to our physical and spiritual survival,” writes Louv.
What if faith is a sense, along with sight, hunger, peripheral vision, and smell ? Each moment outdoors is a moment to re-nature, to re-create.
At Narratively, Ben Fractenberg has a photo essay about torn posters in the subway, a kind of “underground” art.
He writes, “As a full-time reporter and photographer in New York City, I spend a lot of time taking the subway. While running from place to place, the eroded subway posters lining the walls of stations started to catch my eye. Many looked like abstract paintings, the textures and colors and lines almost perfectly placed. I started to photograph ones that stood out to me, and as I traveled the city as a general assignment reporter for DNAInfo.com New York, I captured them for more than a year.”
In the torn posters, Fractenberg sees Jackson Pollocks, Mark Rothkos, and threatening smoke. Reminds me of my three-year-old grandson, who likes to point out clouds that look like dragons.
More great photos at Narratively.
(Narratively says: “Each week, we explore a different theme and publish a series of stories—just one a day—told in the most appropriate medium for each piece. … Every story gets the space and time it needs to have an impact—an approach we call ‘slow storytelling’ or ‘slow journalism.’ ” The site was named one of TIME’s “50 Best Websites of 2013.“)
Photo: Ben Fractenberg
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Hello! I (Jenny Mendez) along with my awesome friend Kathee Goldsich will be attending your Kansas Writer’s Meet-Up!!! Our emails are: Jenny: and Kathee: We are looking forward to it! :)
Hi Jenny — Great! I’ve edited your email addresses out of this comment just to be safe and will email you the details shortly.
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday. We had a fun and busy day with twenty family members and a few friends. Such a treat for me to have everyone but one sister and her family make it to our farm.
We enjoyed a lovely afternoon together.
Took a hayride on the wagon attached to the back of the tractor ....
and of course ate turkey.... Thank you David for doing an awesome carving job, once again. I cooked three of them this year so there was plenty for leftovers and to send away. David stood there carving forever!
Even the dogs had enough!
The day after we all went to my sister Nancy's house to re-convene and have our annual craft day. Nancy supplied us with the makings of beeswax candles that were super easy to make. She saw an article in the lastest Martha Stewart Living and ordered from the featured company although I do not know the name - sorry. The cousins who are usually all over the crafting instead decided they wanted to KNIT instead of make other things.
I was happy they were doing that although the adults all missed them sitting at the table and yacking away. The four nieces are quite the knitters although I still can't get Julia interested. There was one sweater going, one hat, and two headbands. I think they kept knitting all weekend long.
You can see Olivia's sweater above that she is working on from Color By Kristin from the book of the same name. The sweater is called Norwegian Dreams and you can read about it here on Ravelry. The yarn was a Christmas gift last year and this is Olivia's FIRST SWEATER! Olivia is using Lamb's Ears 3249 for the background and Deep Blue Sea 3248 for the main motif. For her lower border, she is using Magenta 3232 and Spring Green 3215. It is going to be gorgeous. She is bound and determined to finish it this year. It's a lot of knitting for a busy college student.
The house is so quiet now! I hope you and yours had a great holiday and are still stretching the turkey leftovers out. Tonight it is turkey pot pie for the second time. I use a puff pastry sheet for the topping because I am very lazy about making pie dough.
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December 3rd, 2013: Every year we have a Christmas party with the Beguiling, and this year is NO DIFFERENT.. As usual it's at Pauper's Pub in Toronto (539 Bloor St. W.)! It'll be this Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 from 7:30pm-10pm. Come to party with me, Joey Comeau, Kate Beaton and A SPECIAL MYSTERY GUEST too. There will even be a SECRET SANTA (this always works out super great and is my favourite part of the evening!)
One year ago today: PREPARE YOURSELF... for an emotional milk run
In case you missed it last year, I wrote a comic in which a character posits the existence of the “Hanukkah duck,” (or here on Tumblr), who quacks you a puzzle, as a way of filling out the canon of Hanukkah traditions relative to Christmas.
I feel it is my civic duty to remind you that soon after that comic was posted, readers Keith Ammann and Cantor Yakov Hadash wrote and performed a Yiddish song about said Hanukkah Duck.
this is why my job is the best job
ALSO: Holiday cards are now on sale. Two new designs will be revealed later this week. 2014 Calendars will be announced later this week as well.
ALSO ALSO: I will be in Austin, Texas this coming weekend!
comparative chart of some of the ryos (aka the kaworus)
in order: ryo asuka (devilman), kaworu nagisa (neon genesis evangelion), joshua kiryu (the world ends with you), yami bakura / ryo bakura (yu-gi-oh), fuuma monou (x/1999), akise aru (mirai nikki), homura akemi (puella magi madoka magica), n (pokémon BW), nagito komaeda (super dangan ronpa 2), griffith (berserk), mytho and fakir (princess tutu), haru (tsuritama)
The Globe‘s Callum Borchers wrote recently about an organization called Seeding Labs, which presented at the IDEAS conference in Boston.
Founder Nina Dudnick, he says, “collects and ships used lab equipment to developing countries.
“Last year, Seeding Labs hosted six scientists and researchers from Kenya, one of whom was a chemist, Mildred Nawiri, who is studying how certain vegetables that are indigenous to West Africa might help prevent cancer.
“On Wednesday, Dudnick pointed to Nawiri’s research as an example of work that is unlikely to be done in the United States, because the vegetables she is studying do not grow here.
“And whatever benefits she might discover could go unrealized without modern equipment. Before Seeding Labs, Nawiri was using techniques Western scientists employed in the 1800s, Dudnick said.”
Dudnick points out that “this talent really is everywhere. The problems that face us, like cancer, don’t respect boundaries drawn on a map, so why should our scientific community?”
More at the Globe.
Both not unseen
and yet not seen -- if I long
for such a person,
will I be spending today
uselessly lost in thought?
—24 November 2013Original by Ariwara no Narihira. From rumors to tantalizing glimpses: aristocratic women traveled in ox-drawn carriages enclosed with hanging blinds to prevent them from being seen, or at least seen clearly. And with the love poems, Narihira enters his forte -- here he evokes several emotions and shifting realities in a poem that sounds beautiful as well. The exact nature of the occasion is uncertain, but the most common explanation is that the imperial Horse Guards held an annual ceremonial competition involving archery and horseriding on successive days for the left and right divisions -- with the Right Horse Guards, which Narihira commanded, holding theirs on the Sixth Day of the Fifth Month. The incident, including the woman's reply (see next), also appears in both Tales of Ise and (with a different reply) Tales of Yamato, suggesting it had strong contemporary interest -- or maybe it was Narihira's popularity as a famous playboy.
mizu mo arazu
mi mo senu hito no
aya naku kyou ya
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December 2nd, 2013: Webcomics Rampage is this weekend in Austin, Texas! THAT IS WHERE I'M GONNA BE. Let's hang out!
HOLIDAY SHIPPING DEADLINES: coming up, yo! This Thursday December 5th is one of the international deadlines!
One year ago today: i call this comic, "what if t-rex was ask jeeves"
When you take your father’s mother (Farmor) and your mother’s father and mother (Morfar and Mormor) to the Children’s Museum, you start by showing them how the fluffy balls fly through tubes and out the top, and you show them the water room, where you have to wear a smock.
Then you run up and down the ramp to the second floor, up and down, up and down, and up and down some more, laughing and turning your head back to make sure they are all following at a lively pace.
Once you are sure they will behave themselves and not go wandering off when you have work to do, you can settle into the kitchen and concentrate on putting the cheese wedge in the pot and stirring and taking it out and putting it back in and putting the lid on top and taking it out again and putting in a potato and stirring and shaking a can of tomatoes upside down until every last bit is in the pot with the potato and stirring and putting the lid on. Then, you know, you may need to take the stacked dishes and lay them all about on the floor and then restack them and put them neatly on the shelf.
It’s a lot, and you need to be sure the grandparents are sitting still and paying attention so you don’t have to worry about them for a while.
Photo: Free Arts NYC
Free Arts NYC is one of several free arts programs around the country supported by people who believe every child should have arts opportunities. Too many school districts have cut back on programs that trigger the creative imagination, and children whose families can’t pay for extra classes often miss out the most.
When Suzanne and Erik were living in Harlem, Suzanne volunteered for Free Arts NYC at the Dream Charter School, having learned about it from her 92nd Street Y ceramics teacher. The teacher told her that the Y had actually been the organization responsible for bringing the concept to New York.
In childhood, whenever Suzanne wrapped up one arts class, she could hardly wait to sign up for the next one. She knows what the arts can mean to a child and has carried that appreciation into adulthood and the birthstone jewelry at Luna & Stella (the company behind this blog).
Photo: Luna & Stella
The wildlife presenter David Attenborough is frequently asked “When did you become interested in animals?”
His response is always “When did you stop being interested?”
Below, a crane costume that I saw recently on display at the training center for the National Park Service. The wardrobes that some people will consider, in pursuit of their interest. I love it!
The day after Thanksgiving is a day that many people’s thoughts turn from an unusually wonderful and gigantic meal to fitness.
In an increasing number of locales, people who have never worked out before are now working out with their dogs. Because dogs need fitness, too.
Bill Littlefield’s sports show on WBUR radio, which covers both traditional and offbeat sports, sends Only A Game‘s Karen Given to Hinsddale, Illinois, to interview K9 Fit Club president and founder Tricia Montgomery.
Says Montgomery, “K9 Fit Club is a place where pooches and peeps get together and have a healthy and happy lifestyle. We do exercises, we do workouts, we bond, we socialize and most of all we have fun.
“K9 Fit Club was originally developed in 2008 but we didn’t open the doors here until Aug 5, 2012. We started in Hinsdale, Illinois in our first location and now we have corporate facilities, we also have locations starting all the way from Monterrey City, Mexico, all the way to New York, into Raleigh- Durham, North Carolina, up into Florida, St. Louis, all across the country. …
“Our programs were developed by veterinarians, by personal trainers, by dog trainers, and by doctors and psychologists, actually. So we’re not just a bunch of people running around with a bunch of dogs jumping up beside us. Our programs have really been developed for people who have never worked out a day in their lives to people who are very, very fit. …
“I love what I do, how cool is this? I get to come to work every day with my dog and I get to have the coolest job working with dogs and people and helping change their lives and feel better about themselves.” More.
Photo: K9 Fit Club
I am so thankful to all of you for cheering me on in all the things I share here. Our best to all of you.
Earlier this month I wrote about a restaurant founded on gratitude. I liked something the owner said: “gratitude spills over,” meaning if someone does something nice for you it makes you feel like doing something nice for someone else. It got me thinking more about gratitude, and I decided to make a list.
Suzanne’s Mom is grateful for: A peaceful neighborhood to live in, shelter, food, clothing, other people, a way to make a living, music, art, theater, books, poetry, nature. And especially, my family and a baby who lights up with a megawatt smile when I arrive, a one-year-old who wants to snuggle on the rug with a book, and a three-year-old who exclaims with wonder, “Grandma! Are you my daddy’s mommy?!”
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|dinosaur comics returns monday!|
in the meantime, first-ever polo shirt! :o
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November 28th, 2013: A comic earlier this week mentioned Franksgiving! Little did I know by publishing it I was taking sides in a Depression-era battle between Democrats and Republicans??