An Ode to Winter

A young woman and her dog running through a field covered in three feet of snow.

Where July brought cool rainy weather, August as stomped in with tons of mosquitos, high humidity and a heat wave. As I sit on our deck appreciating its screens, I can’t help but remember that winter was a few months ago and will return before I know it.

Winter, where my husband and I will bicker about how warm to set the thermostat and how many layers are acceptable inside (I stand by you shouldn’t need to wear shorts in your own house! Grab a sweater!). Where we will try to be patient as we wait for enough snow to go cross country skiing and snow shoeing. When the hiking trails will have less people on them and when hitting a trail without a good pair of microspikes leads to turning around and a disappointed dog.

Yes, the heat is high and the humidity sticky. Yes, we’ve made a game out of who can kill the most mosquitos while taking the dog for a walk. Yes, part of planning a hike means hitting the trail by 6:30 am and the thought of using our outdoor firepit is slightly laughable.

True, we long for the days that we can pull out our wool sweaters and curl up together under blankets. But to summer’s credit, when those days come we find ourselves longing for long summer nights and listening for the peepers to make their annual appearance. We laugh about the days when we were sweating as we rub a little warmth into our hands and try to remember what it felt like to struggle to walk down the street without melting.

So as I sit on my porch enjoying yet another freeze pop, I appreciate the feeling of being warm while remembering what it’s like to be cold. Knowing that before I know it, I won’t be able to sit out here and will be remembering what it’s like to be too hot.

A young woman and her dog playing in a field covered in three feet of snow.

Ode To Winter by: Matthew Holloway

Ode, ode to the winter
What music plays to sonnet
While a world drifts to sleep
Leaves curl and flowers bow
Birds take flight to a further place
A touch of frost creeps in
Stealing the landscape of its colour
Soon all shall be held motionless

In the still of a winters season
Now in all its changing
The beauty and perfection of life
Is left open to be witnessed
Savoured by the eye of an artist
To feed the soul, nourish the heart
This melancholy season
This changing landscape
What beauty it reveals
In an ode to the winter

Crafting Breaks

Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes you don’t feel motivated. Sometimes you’re waiting on supplies. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Whatever the reason(s) you have for not crafting are valid reasons and you shouldn’t feel bad about taking a break.

I’m someone who brings her knitting everywhere, last week I left the house multiple times without packing my knitting. I have fabric that I’m excited about, I didn’t turn my sewing machine on once. I warped my loom with some beautiful yarn, wove a handful of rows and then put it down. None of these things mean that I’m giving up making, they just mean that I needed some time away.

When your craft becomes part of your identity, it’s hard to step away. It’s also hard not to feel guilty about stepping away. This past week, I’ve taken more walks and snuggled my dog instead of knitting during a movie. I enjoyed the space created by not having my ironing board out.

When my last sewing class met I made a comment that I thought I was sewing the dress pattern at the wrong time. That my pandemic brain needed something different. Isn’t it funny, that we can be kind and supportive for other people and then struggle to be just as kind to ourselves? This week I was kind to myself by not knitting. By not sewing. By not weaving. I’ve allowed myself to be tired and uninspired instead of forcing myself to knit one more row.

This happens to me from time to time and I usually end up excited about something when my break is over. If you’re in a crafting rut or lull, be kind to yourself. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a maker, it just means that you’ve been making hard!

Fun with Spine Poetry

Spine poetry, for lack of a definition, is a creative way to use the books around you to create a poem. To create a poem, you “simply” stack your books with their titles facing out and work top to bottom. I say “simply” because it actually takes a lot of thought and playing around, plus you’re limited by the books that are at your disposal. In other words, if I could walk into the library I would either be overwhelmed by the options or I would be able to find titles that matched what I was trying to say.

Spine poetry falls into a category of poetry known as found poetry. According to Poets.org, this type of poetry takes existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. In other words, found poetry is the literary version of a photo collage.

The point of Spine poetry is to create art without the intimidation of a blank page. Perhaps you end up using a title to create a deeper poem. Perhaps you become inspired and starting using more than the title of a book (ex a entire quote!). Here are some of the poems that I’ve created using my books:

Spines of three books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
Close your eyes, hold hands (Chris Bohjalian)
Pawn of Prophecy (David Eddings)
Swallow me whole (Nate Powell)
Spines of four books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
Castle of wizardry (David Eddings)
Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
A game of thrones (George R. R. Martin)
And then there were none (Agatha Christie)
Spines of four books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
The name of the wind (Patrick Rothfuss)
Lost ocean (Johanna Basford)
I regret only everything (D. Mars Yuvarajan)

…And forward on 2021

Does anyone else feel like 2021 is the year of hope? As we peel moldy wallpaper off yet another room, it’s hard not to dream about what comes next, even if that next is the day when we can invite people over for dinner. People who will have almost no idea of how far the house has come over the short time we’ve owned it.

in 2021 I:

  • will hike Mt. Washington. I think this year will be the year that this finally happens, we’re starting to run out of excuses.
  • will camp a lot. In fact it would be great if this was the year of camping. I’m talking load up the car and go somewhere new. I’m talking pack a bag and camp off trail. 2021 is going to be the year of the woods that 2020 started off being before the house distracted us.
  • will knit more sweaters for hiking. I knit one last year and am obsessed with wearing it instead of a jacket, for something that’s not bulky it’s so warm!
  • will be finishing off one of our bedrooms as a nursery. Which in itself is a crazy concept that we’re wrapping our heads around slowly because it’s always been an abstract idea. Don’t expect anything until someone sticks me with a covid vaccine though!
  • will be growing vegetables that will make it to edible format. I can feel it, it’s going to happen this year.
  • will not try to read 100 books. Last year I found myself pushing through books that I wasn’t into because I had a number goal and limited time to reach it. This year I want to read books that I like and abandon ones that don’t hold my interest. Or at least save them for a day that I’m in the mood for them.
  • will daydream about running in person races and patiently wait for them to start happening again. Or at least try to be patient.
  • will probably knit my niece something kitchy, because eventually she’ll care what she wears.

Between politics and the pandemic, 2020 was a stressful year. Going into 2021, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful for the hope that I feel and the desire to make this year a good year.

Looking back on 2020…

As the new year rolls in, I found myself looking over my reflection of 2019 and couldn’t believe how many things happened! With 2020 being eaten up by the pandemic, I was a little nervous to look at my self set goals for the year. I’ll start this year’s reflection with the goals I set and will then move into the other things that happened this year.

In 2020 I wanted to:

  • Laugh more and worry less, especially when it comes to things outside of my control. Talk about a goal with foresight that was put to the test again and again. Does anyone else feel like 2020 was the year of things that were outside of their control? The year of learning to deal with things that you really couldn’t change while doing the best that you could with what you had? My partner and I worked so hard with each other to find the brighter side of things throughout the year, something I hope we hold onto for the rest of our lives.
  • Do at least one thing I’ve never done before every month. Whether it’s baking something I’ve never tried before or a technique I haven’t tried, I want to spend 2020 continuing to learn what I like and don’t like, but also what I can do if I set my mind to it. There have been so many firsts in 2020 that I actually had to pause and smile. I made apple butter cookies (should probably share that recipe, they’re so good!). I learned how to replaster walls. I tried to grow vegetables. I bought appliances. I sold a home. I bought a home with my partner. I learned about repairing a plastered ceiling. I painted cabinets to give them a facelift (3 times!). I spent hours cleaning mold off siding. I tried new cooking recipes. I wore a mask to work, to the store and around town. I transitioned to working at home full time (and will someday have to transition back). 2020 was not filled with the firsts that I thought it would be, but I still can’t believe how much we still did.
  • Read 100 books! Ok maybe not 100, but I do want to spend more time reading and what better way to do that then setting a lofty goal. I wonder if I should consider a page goal as well, just like I set up a yardage goal with knitting. Sooo I did this. Some of them were cook books. Some of them were comic books. Some of them were audiobooks, but my “read” list for 2020 consists of over 100 books. The pandemic isn’t even to blame for this one, I just put in an effort to read more.
  • Speaking of knitting, I’m not sure what my goal should be this year other than continuing to use up the stash I have. I’ve toyed with dishcloth and sock goals, but I feel like I spent 2019 allowing my creative juices take me where they take me. So if I spend more time sewing this year than knitting, I think that would be ok (though admittedly far fetched). I knit just under 50 projects this year, a number just shy of beating the number I knit while in graduate school. Big projects too, and many of them out of fingering weight. I suppose working from home and having all of your meetings be via zoom has it’s perks. I also knit a handful of test knits for Alicia Plummer, aka fan girled pretty hard when I saw her name in my inbox.
  • Travel, even if it’s not to a new country and is only a few hours down the road. We went to Spain! And then booked an emergency flight out of there after seeing as much as we could in two days. So, I guess that counts? I’ve already written about it and still feel a little PTSD from the event so I’m not going to write about it here.
  • Peel the wallpaper in my kitchen, some goals have to be low hanging fruit right? For starters, I did peel the wallpaper in the condo’s kitchen. Actually, we gave it a major facelift. Then, because we want to start a family when the pandemic is a little more under control, we sold it and bought a house. Where we’ve been spending our free time fixing it up. So. Much. Wallpaper peeling. And replastering. And reflooring. And we got new windows put in. I love our home though and don’t regret any of the hours spent fixing it up.
  • Run, hike, swim, read on my deck after work — whatever it takes to be outside and enjoying where I live. It’d be nice to do some camping this year as well… If anyone remembers my regret of not swimming in the lake I live across the street from, you’ll be happy to know that we swam in it multiple times before moving. There were also 10+ mile hikes and long trail runs. We spent so much time outside until we bought our new house, then we spent more time fixing it than enjoying the remaining warm days. As winter folds around us, we’re finally getting back into the habit of hiking again and it feels fantastic. But you know what else feels fantastic? Coming home after hiking and having a family room to sit in. A room that we spent hours turning from haunted looking into something we can be proud of.

In 2020 I:

  • Found myself living with a partner again and readjusting to sharing a space after living by myself. The transition was both harder and easier than I thought it would be, but worth it. Even when he gets an emergency call in the middle of the night and turns on all the lights before tripping out the door (He’s a firefighter and we’ve figured out how to get him quickly out the door without that happening. It only took one call to realize that that doesn’t work), I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be arguing over paint colors with.
  • Became the Cioci (aunt) of a happy and healthy niece.
  • Started collecting house plants. They’re even not living in purgatory!
  • Taught python programming. Talk about ripping off a bandaid, my hands shook with every key I typed. Kept my voice steady though!
  • Fell a lot cross country skiing, and bought my partner a set of skiis so that he could do it with me.

2020 will forever be the year that time didn’t really exist for, but 2020 will never be marked as the year that went up in flames for me. So many things were postponed and then cancelled. So many things were closed and there were so many stressors in things that should have been simple (like buying toilet paper). Despite all the challenges and demoralizing moments, we’re still able to count our blessings and have hope for the future.