Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Enough Said!

Unique Outhouse!

I have seen double headers, have used single headers, and "The Hole in the Woods" but never one like this.

And here is the "Hole in the Woods" in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. If I were to use this today, I would have to build up the seat a wee bit.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nooses and swastikas and other such nasty things

My blog is not influential and I only have a few readers. However, I am going to do my part in decrying the latest hateful actions by a few in our nation. My ire went sky high when I heard on the news that one city official stated that the nooses two white punks from Alexandria, Louisiana had hung from the back of their truck, was probably just a prank gone awry. This in the face of the 18 year old proclaiming that he had a KKK tattoo and that his parents were members of the KKK (according to CNN). Never mind that he drove his truck through a crowd that was returning from the Civil Rights March on Jena. Additionally, the two youths had a rifle and brass knuckles in the truck. Again, the Police Chief of Alexandria, Darren Coutee was heard saying the two white youths didn’t intend to use them and that it was probably a prank. Of course, the Police Chief was white. So my question to the police chief is: “what are one 18 year old and one 16 year old doing driving a truck while drunk with two guns in the truck?” From my stint working as a psychologist in the Reception Center for Youthful Offenders in the State of Michigan, I reply to Chief Coutee with assurance, “they were up to nothing good” and only the swift action of a nearby police officer prevented them from acting out their hateful feelings.

Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune states in his article of September 22: “The Jena case has drawn national protests because of the perception of many African-Americans that blacks are treated more harshly than whites in the town's justice system.”

Perception? Personally, I believe the incident is more than perception. Particularly in light that the black youth is still in County Jail and has been for months even though his conviction as an adult has been overturned. Yet, the local prosecutor wants to continue the prosecution of the youth. All we can hope is that this youth won’t come out of County Jail embittered to the extent that he will really lash out against society. There is a reason why the majority of prisoners in the State prison systems are black. Time and time again, I saw that by the time a white youth came to prison, he was much more behaviorally and psychologically disturbed than his black counterpart. Why? Because black youths came to prison earlier while white youths were given many more chances. All this kid is going to learn in County Jail is how to be a better criminal. Instead of continuing to prosecute this youth, why not make school attendance mandatory for him.

The smartest sentencing I ever saw was in a white young adult. He had gotten himself into some sort of trouble. If I remember correctly he had been in a fight. The Judge involved sentenced him to probation and college with regular reports to him and a B average. The local Prosecutor’s office wasn’t satisfied and appealed the sentence. So the Judge gave him a sentence of 1 day with time served. Didn’t you know, the County Jail brought him to our Reception Center, just to spite him. We made the poor kid sit on a bunk bed and told him not to move until his parents came to get him. Luckily the Reception Center Officer listened to the kid, called the Judge and verified his sentence. What if our staff had not listened? I would hope that if it had been a black youth we would have done the same. But the point is, such sentencing would most likely not have happened for a black youth.

Let me put it into another perspective. I am white, German born and raised. What if I as an 18 year old would have taken a Swastika and hung it up in a local Synagogue. Wouldn’t that be a hate crime? After all, I knew exactly what the Swastika stood for: the extermination of six million Jews. You cannot tell me that these two youths and others who have recently hung nooses from trees aren’t aware of the symbolism and the terror it causes in the affected population.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just a little something

I finished the mid-month KAL from the Yahoo group "Monthly Dishcloths." I have appropriated two cones of pink Peaches 'N Cream or Sugar 'N Cream from my daughter. The yarn is several years old. I've started using it to do the first go-around of an unknown pattern. I really like seeing a picture of a pattern to decide what color and type of yarn to use. With this old yarn I don't feel so bad if I don't like the pattern and unravel the washcloth. After all frugal is my middle name. I think this pattern is a winner, and, most likely, I will make it again. The top decrease and loop for hanging would also be nice for knitted hand towels. I don't like the ones that have a button at the top.

Speaking of frugal, the teapot sits on the Microwave that celebrated it's 27th birthday this month. It still works although it does look a little ragged around the edges. And most important of all, it also has a convection oven with it. I had wanted a microwave oven for some time, but my ex wouldn't buy one until his mother came to visit. Bless her soul, without my saying anything or hinting around, my mother-in-law said, "Joe don't you think it's time you bought your wife a microwave oven?" Off we went to Sears and, of course, I was not going to let the occasion go by and bought the biggest one, with the newest gadgets (27 years ago), I could find. It has been a good friend and it'll continue to be until it breathes its last breath.

By the way, I got a washer and a dryer the same way. Bea has been dead for a number of years now, but she was one heck of a woman.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Fairy Tales and Books read

Fie! naughty wild and slovenly Peter!
I fear he never will be neater.
For many many many weeks
No water has been near his cheeks;
And 'tis a year now I declare
Since he has let nurse comb his hair.
And then the nails, 'tis very clear
They've not been cut all this year!
It is no wonder that all cry
O naughty Slovenly Peter, fie!

– Heinrich Hoffmann (1844
I’ve been doing a couple of other things besides knitting. No, I am not talking about chores. I’ve been reading some “real” books, not Rita Mae Brown’s Sneakie Pie Brown mysteries (although I hope a new one comes out soon) or Braun’s “The Cat Who…”, or knitting mysteries.

Lake Wobegon Days I love NPR’s Prairie Home Companion; so a number of years ago, my middle daughter bought me as a gift, Garrison Keillors “Lake Wobegon Days.” It was published in 1985 and I bet you that’s how long I’ve had it. I found it slow reading and thus put it aside. Somehow the book snuck out of the Land-of Not-Read-books. I decided since my daughter gave it to me I should finally read it. In my opinion, you may save your money and your time going to the Library for it. It is as boring at the end as it was at the beginning as it was in 1985. I think Garrison Keillor is a wonderful oral story teller and he has captivated me for a long time with his tales of Lake Wobegon, but the book did not captivate his talent of oral story telling.

Adiel by Shlomo DuNour. I found Adiel on one of those tables before you get into the bookstore proper. In reading the book jacket, it looked interesting and the price was right, i.e. under $7.00. (Besides I had an uncle who once lived in Palestine and helped build a pipeline from Haifa to Baghdad and, according to my mother a Polish slave laborer saved our lives during WWII.) The original price was $24.95. I love a bargain, particularly when it is a book of this caliber. According to the book jacket, “Shlomo DuNour was born in 1921, in Lodz, Poland and immigrated to Palestine in 1938. None of his extensive family survived the Holocaust. He taught at the Departments of History at the Hebrew University and the University of Haifa for many years. In 1978, DuNour’s first book, Yet Another, was awarded the Newman Prize. Adiel, published to great acclaim, was awarded the Jerusalem Literary Prize in 1999.” The book was translated into English in 2002. Adiel re-tells the story of the Old Testament from Creation of Adam and Eve through the Flood. Adiel, an angel, was appointed by God to accompany the Archangel Michael who was assigned to record the events of Humanity. DuNour uses the ancient forms of Midrash, the Jewish term for literary and creative Biblical exposition. The book is a reflection on “the place of humanity in the universe, and good and evil.” Adiel is “chosen to witness the tragedies of ten generations of” humanity. The translator, Philip Simpson, has done a masterful job in translating the book from Hebrew to English. I savored every single word as I read the book. As far as I am concerned, this book is a superb read for both Christian and non-Christian.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Right now I am reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This version is a Barnes and Nobles publication. The title page states that the book is an “anonymous translation of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Kinder und Hausmaerchen (Fairy Tales for Home and Nursery) first published in 1869. The illustrations by Ludwig Emil Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm’s younger brother, come from a German edition of the fairy tales, published in 1912.” The introduction and notes are by Elizabeth Dalton, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Barnard College. Luckily in 1869 the sanitizing of fairy tales was still unknown. The translation isn’t polished, but it is true to the German tales.

This got me to thinking about the tales I grew up with. Although I was born in 1940, 19th century moral tales and Fairy tales were still the most read children’s stories. The moral was simple: Bad behavior resulted in immediate, terrible consequences, good behavior was rewarded, if not immediately, eventually. Thus Struwwelpeter (Slovenly Peter) was the staple reading of my childhood. “Slovenly Peter” didn’t mark me for the rest of my life, but did make me into a human being that is able to live harmoniously in the larger community without engaging in antisocial behavior. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t pull capers on others. I did participate in my share of tricks, especially at the behest of some of my cousins. I was the youngest and always ready to follow their lead.

As I worked in the Michigan Prison System, I continuously was confounded by the fact that prisoners did not grow up with any books—no Aesop’s Fables, no Dr. Seuss, no Owl and the Pussycat, nada, nothing. Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychiatrist, wrote a book on how Fairy Tales aid in forming the character of children. The book’s title is The Uses of Enchantment: The meaning and importance of Fairy Tales. The psychologist in me is starting to get excited and wishes she had had the time to research if there is a connection between reading to a child and the type of book read to the child and criminal behavior. Maybe I’ll have to set aside my knitting and search the Internet to see if such studies exist. I’ve got to add another 60 or so years to my life in order to do all the things I want to.

If you are interested in any of these rhymes, there is a wonderful site on the internet that has a translation of Struwwelpeter.

and if you click on the bottom of the page on “19th Century German Stories”, you can also read the capers of Max and Moritz. If you want the English version, click here and then select dual language

Ah, how oft we read or hear of

Boys we almost stand in fear of!

For example, take these stories
Of two youths, named Max and Moritz,

Who, instead of early turning

Their young minds to useful learning,

Often leered with horrid features

At their lessons and their teachers.

Look now at the empty head: he

Is for mischief always ready.

Teasing creatures - climbing fences,

Stealing apples, pears, and quinces,

Is, of course, a deal more pleasant, And far easier for the present,

Than to sit in schools or churches,

Fixed like roosters on their perches

But O dear, O dear, O deary,

When the end comes sad and dreary !

'Tis a dreadful thing to tell

That on Max and Moritz fell !

All they did this book rehearses,

Both in pictures and in verses.
--Wilhelm Busch

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Hans you were lazy!"

Bear with me, I'll explain the title in a bit. The following joke makes probably only sense to some old Missouri Synod Lutheran Pastors. So those who are of a more Pentecostal persuasion, bear with me. German Lutherans are not necessarily known for their spontaneity. Our motto is more "everything in order." As Luther said "no Schwaermerei", please. I suppose loosely translated, he was against basing one's faith on feelings. In Luther's eyes, faith was not based on what we feel, but what we know from God's word.

You ask yourself so what does "Hans you were lazy!" or in German "Hans du bist faul gewesen" have to do with this blog entry. I am coming to it.
I've been avoiding posting to my blog, in part because I haven't felt inspired. After all, I really hadn't knit anything worthy of blogging about. (Read: difficult stuff, like intricate lace work.) Then one day led to another and I still didn't feel inspired and thus a whole bunch of time went by. This is where the joke comes in. As I was contemplating the fate of my blog, I was reminded of this particular joke. It goes something like this: "A Lutheran pastor decided to let the Spirit guide him as far as the Sunday sermon was concerned. As he stood at the Pulpit and prayed to God to lead him in the message God wanted to send to the Congregation, God whispered in his ear "Hans, Du bist faul gewesen" (Hans, you were lazy). In other words giving a sermon is work as is maintaining a blog. It's another chore and chores aren't my favorite concept.

I have been busy knitting, but it's been smaller things. I think I've been suffering from shawl fatigue and needed to do something less complicated. On top of that my laptop crashed and everything I had stored disappeared into cyberspace. Have you ever wondered how many bytes are floating around in space, owner- and neighborless, lost without it's sisters and brothers? Enough to form a new nebula? The computer crash left me with a vague feeling of unease, of having lost something dear to me. Never mind, that I would have had to live two or more life times to knit every pattern stored on the laptop. Reason does not apply in such cases.

So here are pictures of the loot I've accumulated. Any suggestions as to what I can do with all those wash cloths?

Opal Yarn 2007 Fall Handpainted
Autumn Melody

Detail, including Pepe Le Pew's stubby hair

Four corned wash cloth based on EZ's Square Baby Blanket

"Shifting Sand" from August 2007 Mid-Month Monthly Dishcloth Knit-Along

Diamond Drop Lace from April 2007 Mid-Month Monthly Dishcloths Knit-Along

Five Golden Rings

Six Geese-a-laying

Seven Swans-a-Swimming
from www.fiberneedblogspot.com

And one last project which is finished, but not blocked. So here's a teaser:
Start of Icelandic Shawl from Piecework Magazine
Main Portion of Shawl
Knit with Jagger Spun Yarn
So Knit on!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Yarn Addicts Anonymous...

…please guide me to the nearest group. Oh, darn it, there isn’t one. Good thing—at least I won’t feel guilty about the yarn I bought. What happens when a yarn addict and her enabler find out that there is a 40% off sale on Cherry Tree Hill yarn? Of course, they jump in the car (well for me it’s a sloooooow climb into the car) and drive to the yarn store. Never mind it’s 35 miles or so away and gasoline is $2.99. After all, I am just going to have a peak at the yarn and, most likely there isn’t anything left that I would like since the sale has been going on all month, and as far as I remember the enabler hadn’t squawked once about it. Well, you all know the end of the tale: There was yarn I liked and the moment I had a skein in my grubby little hands, I couldn’t let loose of it. After all it’s 40% off and it feels so yummy. And like squirrels I have to lay in a winter supply just in case the snow storm of the century hits us. And, thus, I ended up with two 2400 yard skeins of lace yarn and 3 skeins of sock yarn.

Knittingwise, I am in stitches. I am working on a pair of socks, a scarf and the Icelandic Lace Shawl. I'm going to wait with the wash cloths until all the clues are up. So "Knit on.