Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Celtic Knotwork Bonnet

I designed this bonnet a little differently from the others. There was no way a Celtic cross would fit on the side of the bonnet without distortion so I copied the knotwork from the blanket instead. I also bit the bullet and added pompoms. Unless someone requests not to have them, I'll add them to all of the bonnets.

More Gardens

I included a stop-over at my parents' house coming and going this past week. It was very relaxing to spend time with them without being pulled in five different directions. Plus, I was very well pampered when I arrived sick and sneezing at their door on Sunday. I did not inherit my mother's (and her mother's) green thumb, but I like to take pictures of flowers instead. Even in late September the flowers blew me away.

This garden looks tremendously better in the summer, but I included
it for all of you gardeners out there.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our surprise visitor last week...

...was Metropolitan JONAH!  Sorry, I forgot I'd dropped a teaser and never came through. I don't have very good pictures but I didn't want to look like the paparazzi. He only stayed about fifteen minutes but we were delighted to see him. He was in the area to serve Liturgy in Greenville that Sunday.

The Monastery

 This is a partial tour of Sts. Mary and Martha Orthodox Monastery in Wagener, SC. The nuns' hospitality was overwhelming and delightful. I encourage you to visit if you're in the area.

Sister L. took me on my own personal tour of the monastery grounds.
There wasn't much more than pine and scrub oak when they arrived.
Mother Thecla has planted oodles of native plants and shrubs in
a very natural fashion on the grounds.

The monastery maintains a cemeteries for both pets and people. (This is the people
 one.) The abbess tells people that they are free to bury anyone they wish and
 the monastery will help. The only stipulation is that no trees be cut down. The
 graves are scattered here and there in between the trees, but all facing east.

There were some beautiful crosses. Every grave is unique. It was a very peaceful place.

One very special part of the cemetery is for babies. People have even placed memorials
if actual graves were not possible for miscarried babies.

There is a special enclosure near the barn-shop that holds many fruit trees and
 the muscadine grape vines from which the nuns make wine. They do have a large area
cleared for a vineyard to be planted in the future. The trees are in a fenced enclosure
 to protect them from foraging animals. Insects are another matter.

For insect control they maintain a large group of ducks. The ducks are incredibly silly,
running hither and yon as one, quacking incessantly. They quacked all night as well
which is an important fact to note when you are sleeping on a nearby screened porch.

The nuns' primary support is through making beeswax candles. This is a picture of the
 candle shop. It is set apart from the rest of the monastery on an easily-accessible road in
 case of fire. If you are interested in purchasing candles for personal use or for your
 church's  use, you can contact them by e-mail (found on their website). The quality
 is wonderful and the prices low.

Here are some of the slabs of beeswax they are supplied with. Father said it looked like
 Ft. Knox. The room wasn't very big and the smell of beeswax (honey) was intoxicating.
 Sister said that people have been known to have their migraines disappear upon
 entering the room.

This is part of what is left of the vegetable garden for the season. All of the sisters
work in the gardens but the primary motivator is Mother Thecla. She has ten green
thumbs. Pictured are radishes in the foreground and peppers behind them. They also
 have  some winter greens planted.

In general, the monastery grounds were beautiful and peaceful. There was
beauty everywhere.

The nuns have maintained trails all over the place. Because of the rule about not
 cutting down trees, they wind about. Even the hermitage (of which I forgot to
 take a picture) was built back in the woods without cutting down trees. The
 workmen had to cart in tools and materials in wheelbarrows.

There were almost no visiting birds when the nuns arrived about fourteen years
ago. Since then there has grown quite a population due in part to the dozen
different types of bird feeders they have placed here and there. The birds were
rather camera shy so this is as close as I got (with the zoom maxed out).

The squirrels were abundant. The nuns welcome them and supply seed
accordingly. They (the squirrels, not the nuns) were camera-shy as well
so this picture was taken through a window.

Don't forget...

Tomorrow is the last day to suggest a name for the Celtic Cross Blanket! Remember, you can enter an unlimited number of times. On Thursday, Father will be choosing one name for the blanket and we'll be drawing one entry at random out of the hat. And I failed to mention earlier that the winners get to choose which style of bonnet they want for the prize. So hurry and get your suggestion in the combox before midnight on the 29th!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

[Rerun] Population Implosion

From time to time I find a good article on the myth of overpopulation. This myth is used to support anything from abortion to sterilization and is used as an argument for the funding of birth control and abortion availability in third-world countries. A little publicized fact is that many countries have a birth rate (defined as number of children born per woman) that is below the accepted replacement level of 2.1. Consider the birth rate of these countries [Below replacement, replacement or above

(a small sampling - see this chart for the entire list):

Afghanistan 6.9  Armenia 1.5 Australia 1.8  Austria 1.4  Belgium 1.6  Bosnia 1.3  Brazil 2.3  Bulgaria 1.2 (tied for lowest)  Cambodia 4.6  Canada 1.6  China 1.8  Costa Rica 2.8  Cuba 1.5  Denmark 1.7  Egypt 3.0  Finland 1.7  France 1.7  Germany 1.3  Ghana 5.2  Greece 1.3  Guatemala 4.9  Hungary 1.4  India 3.1  Iraq 5.3  Ireland 1.9  Israel 2.7  Italy 1.2 (tied for lowest)  Japan 1.4  Korea (North) 2.0  Korea (South) 1.7  Liberia 6.3  Mexico 2.8  Mongolia 2.6  Netherlands 1.5  Norway 1.9  Romania 1.2 (tied for lowest)  Russia 1.4  Singapore 1.7  Spain 1.2 (tied for lowest)  Sweden 1.6  Switzerland 1.5  Ukraine 1.4  United States 2.0  United Kingdom 1.7  Yemen 7.6 (highest). 

Note Yemen with the birth rate of 7.6. Sounds scary? Consider that Yemen's population is around 23 million and ranks as the 49th most populous country. China has around 1.3 billion people, ranking first in poplulation. Its birth rate is 1.8. Let's look at the top three most populous countries and compare their population to their birth rate: China 1.3 billion: 1.8   India 1 billion: 3.1   United States 300 million: 2.0  If you look at a graph of Russia's population, it has shown a steady decline. Russia is currently the 8th most populous country with a population of 140 million...and a birth rate of 1.4. It would appear that the problem will not be an exploding population, but a declining one.

You might say, "So what? The population declines, big deal." But there are more implications than just shorter lines at Walmart. The people alive right now, in their forties, fifties, sixties, etc. will still be alive twenty to forty years from now. But here's the catch: there will be fewer young working people to support the tax base and care for the elderly. Being a nurse, health care is something that I have a personal interest in. The population in America is graying, bringing with it a need for more doctors, nurses, hospital beds, nursing homes, home health agencies, etc., etc., etc. There are, however, going to be fewer people to support all of this. Rod Dreher summed it up nicely here. If you think this is an exageration, watch this animated graph.

Here's a current example of what I'm talking about:

TOKYO (AP) - After getting struck by a motorcycle, an elderly Japanese man with head injuries waited in an ambulance as paramedics phoned 14 hospitals, each refusing to treat him. He died 90 minutes later at one facility that finally relented—one of thousands of victims repeatedly turned away in recent years by understaffed and overcrowded hospitals. Paramedics arrived at the accident scene within minutes after the man on a bicycle collided with a motorcycle in the western city of Itami. But 14 hospitals contacted to provide medical care for the injured 69-year-old all refused to admit him citing a lack of specialists, equipment, beds and staff, according to Mitsuhisa Ikemoto, a fire department official. The Jan. 20 incident was the latest in a string of recent cases in Japan in which patients were denied treatment, underscoring health care woes in a rapidly aging society that faces an acute shortage of doctors and a growing number of elderly patients.


Similar problems have occurred frequently in recent years. More than 14,000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by Japanese hospitals before getting treatment in 2007, the latest government survey showed. In the worst case, a woman in her 70s with a breathing problem was rejected 49 times in Tokyo.


Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe told a parliamentary committee late last year that the rising number of elderly patients hospitalized for months was in part clogging up space for those needing emergency treatment.

Stuff to ponder... Other reading:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Sadiron

You know, I really don't like ironing.  As a result, I try to limit my clothing purchases to things that are wearable right out of the dryer. But you can't live in knits all the time. Or wrinkles, for that matter.

Which is why I found myself ironing a twill skirt and a few button-down shirts tonight. I plugged myself into my mp3 and ironed away, cursing the fact that while tailored women's shirts are very wearable, they are fiendishly difficult to iron: no straight lines. Father was around and I told him (for the 7,239th time in thirteen years) that I don't like ironing.  He reflected that he, in fact, did like ironing. This brought to mind an image of my father, happily ironing away (his shirts) with starch that he made himself (XXXX Strong). I pondered why I don't like ironing, my mother didn't like ironing, very few women I know like ironing, and yet so many men do. Why?

Well, for one thing, there's the difference in shirt construction. Men's shirts are boxy. All straight lines. And they're big. No tiny corners. Go get any man's dress shirt and put it next to a comparable woman's shirt. Totally different. And with rare exceptions, men's shirts do not have ruffles.

For another, men usually wind up ironing their own clothing. Women usually wind up ironing everyone's clothing and the table linens. [Short disclaimer: Father has on more than one occasion graciously offered and ironed something for me. He's wonderful. But he's mine: you can't have him. Sorry.] And some of that clothing is absolutely awful. I will never ever forget some of the time, monstrous amounts of time, I've spent ironing little, tiny baby dresses for church. Those infinitesimal puffed sleeves. All of those tiny pintucks and delicate bits of lace. The miles of tiny ruffles. It gets a little easier as the dresses get bigger, but you're still ironing sashes, appliqued flowers, puffed sleeves, etc. Even if you're not ironing every-day wear (I never did), those church dresses are time-sinks. And while we're at it, little toddler boys' dress shirts are pretty bad too. They're too small to fit around the end of an ironing board so you're reduced to trying to iron it pancake-style (which never works).

Now, there is at least one person reading this who says, "But I love ironing! Seeing all of those wrinkles come out...the lovely hanging line of freshly pressed shirts and dresses..." All I have to say to that is:
Wanted: Woman to iron mountain of clothes, tablecloths and napkins. Long hours with no pay. Must be able to handle a mix of fibers. Please send resume and provide references that include at least one daughter. Pictures of pressed garments preferred. And hurry.

Snips and Snails and Kitty Cat Tails

Someone joined us for homeschool this morning...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wow. Now THAT'S power!

I'm sharing this just because I can.

My favorite line: "Yes, the 2CV really doesn't like cross-winds."

So given that that's what happens to automobiles...

Why on earth do they allow people on beaches right behind the runway??

And, hello! There's a road there too!

Crocheted Latin Cross Bonnet

Here is the first prototype: The Regina Bonnet

More to come very soon!

Music Monday: The Lindy Hop

Ok, a little departure here. This video features the dance part a lot more than the music part, but I'm excusing it because I like swing music. And I am Green. With. Envy.  I want to be able to dance like this!

I'm coming back later here and adding this. Partly because I love it, partly because I love Wodehouse and partly because I feel guilty about the downplayed music in the first vid. This is "Jeeves and Wooster" by Graham Dalby and the Grahamophones on their album Transatlantique. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Textiles of Weddings and Babies

My Grandmother's wedding dress

Made by her mother

A fitted basque with puffed sleeves and overskirt

And a high-waisted underskirt

She looked exquisite.

A hand made dress for some long-ago baby

Carefully pintucked

And with beautiful lace insertion

And the not-so-anonymous baby (Aunt Susan) with Grandmother

Friday, September 17, 2010

Crocheted Celtic Cross Baby Blanket

The [unnamed] Celtic Cross Blanket

Here's a close-up of the simple knot-work:

The Cross itself:

And the entire blanket:

You may notice I said "unnamed" above. That's right. I like to give each blanket a saint's name. For this blanket I felt a saint from Ireland, Scotland or the British Isles in general (first millennium) would be most appropriate. I've had a few suggestions. My first inclinations were toward Brendan and Bridget. Then I realized that when I said it out loud, it came out "Brendan Branket" or "Brendan Blanklet" or "Bridget Branket", etc.

I started looking for other names. Father pulled up a list of qualifying saints' names on line. We quickly realized that such names as "Ninnidh", "Beoaodh" and "Suaibhseach" were not going to work (holy as those saints might be). Father suggested using a place name instead of a saint's name, like "Iona".

That would make it the "Iona Blanket". (Say it out loud.)

That's when I decided to open the floor to you all. So we're going to make it fun!

Leave a comment suggesting one name.  You can leave additional comments with other names if you like. On September 29th we'll close the contest. On the 30th I'll have Father pick the saint's name from all of the suggestions. Then, I'll draw one additional entrant's name out of the hat. Both entrants will receive a crocheted bonnet in the mail. (Between now and then I'll have a picture of the bonnets available to view.)