Saturday, November 1, 2008

La Toussaints...All Saints Day

Today is La Toussaints. The origin of All Saints followed by All Souls Day is quite interesting. The pagan Celts celebrated Samhain on November 1, the beginning of the dark cycle, a day of the year when they believed the veil between the living and the dead was thinnest and communication was possible. The incoming Christians had finally been made aware that their heavyhanded tactics didn't work so well at eradicating the old beliefs, so they took this sacred festival time of the Celts and declared it All Saints Day, a time to honor all the Saints that didn't already have days of their own. In this way, they intended to obscure the original beliefs and dissolve them into their own more circumspect calendric celebration. Eventually, but only in the middle of the last century, the event became an occasion for children in princess and batman costumes to knock on doors and solicit candy on the Eve. The Mexican celebrations for the Day of the Dead perpetuate the rituals of communicating with those who have passed over. Legend has it that this was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards would try unsuccessfully to eradicate. Families move into the cemetaries for two or three days, groom the graves with fresh soil and elaborate flowers (cockscomb and marigolds), build an altar with the favorite things of the deceased, food, alcohol and cigarettes, light candles, and camp out with small children and infants sleeping propped against headstones. Sugar sculls with the names of the living and the dead are set out, a way of mocking the powers of the grim reaper.
Breaking the silence, I am beginning to force myself to live in this world again. Before we found that Steven's leukemia was coming back, I had signed up for a 2 day workshop with Sally Melville, along with Susan and Doreen. Thank goodness for that as it was not only good therapy, but an excellent and information filled week-end. Sally is charming and quite the taskmaster. Linda at Jennings Street Yarn organized the event most graciously.

We had homework:
That turned into bigger swatches (being supervised by Paprikas in lower right corner for scale): We learned clever edges and picking up formulas and lovely buttonholes and some colorwork. Along with how to recognize and rescue disasters. By the end of the second day, all of our heads were so stuffed that we couldn't absorb any more information.

For a few weeks there, it was impossible for me to knit...or blog. All of my current projects had hospital memories attached. So I dove in and started a very different new project, the Cables Sweater by Vivian Hoxbro.
The yarn is a DK weight Harrisville Tweed and it knits on sock needles. It might just be sufficiently lightweight to wear in our climate. If so, it is my new favorite yarn. The construction is so fascinating that I've been completely sucked into the project. You knit vertically, then horizontally, then vertically, etc. etc. Each section attaches the previous section and it's exciting to watch the sweater build. The righthand side in the photo is the center front panel and it's awaiting the neckline shaping.
Right after the Sally Melville week-end, several Sisters of the Wool made an excursion down to the Ranch to see Lorelei and Sue at Heritage Arts. We packed into my small car, which was the largest we had, and set off for adventure. That backseat looked like a sardine can and they were all knitting! A test drive for Kid n Ewe next week-end.
Taya, Micki, Susan and I were glad to return and to introduce Doreen to something new.

Doreen and Taya were looking at wheels and giving them a test whorl with Lorelei's input, although Taya isn't in this photo.
The Beaumont Ranch had taken down many of their famous and very non PC life sized pumpkin characters for a children's party the day before, but they were putting them back out before we left. You saw the pumpkin characters last year so I will spare you, but they did have the coffins in place.
All in all, a delightful day with friends. And I always love seeing Lorelei. Celtic Memory, she asked after you. Says you should come to see her in Boerne.

While furniture shopping for my father the other day, I bought a small cabinet/bookshelf for myself. It was desperately needed to get some of the books up off the floor. It is Indian. I love it.
Trust me, that photo was only day one. It is now quite full and organized. A close up here will show you some of the tea bowls I made way back in the Dark Ages when I was throwing pots.

So many of you have asked how I am getting along. There has been inertia for the most part, although I'm trying to kick myself in the pants and get going. During a time of grieving, when you sit quietly, your thoughts go back to the beautiful newborn they placed in your arms, the smiling infant, the happy little boy who loved anything mechanical, the bookworm adolescent who secretly took his pet mouse Arthur to school in his pocket, who wanted to ride horses despite his asthma, who loved animals (that loved him right back), who worked in the trade library in the summers as a kid to earn pocket money, who loved walking the streets of the French Quarter where he lived, who married his childhood sweetheart and much later had the children he had always wanted so much, whose childhood passion for computers never waned, who took care of everyone who needed him. Any mother knows that you worry about your children. You worry about their health and their school and their friends and their future. At a certain point, you take a deep breath and say to yourself they've made it, they're good, they've passed all the imaginable hurdles and they are going to be OK. You've raised a strong man with a good family that he loves, a good profession, good health, strong heart, low cholesterol and blood pressure, nothing to worry about, right? You've done your job and now, barring some random accident, you can watch him raise his family and live out his life. What a cruel joke! Or perhaps just downright silly arrogance. We have no crystal ball to predict something so unimaginable as leukemia in such a healthy man, before which we are utterly powerless despite all the wonders of modern science.
Thought I would share a portrait with Steven done when he was about ten. He's the kid with the aviator glasses. His brother wouldn't hold still so the artist, Jana Napoli, threatened and finally painted his bird in front of his nose. David protested and said he would hold still now. The response was, "Too late!"

This close-up is from the much larger painting. I'll show you. It was painted for New Orleans and European ceiling heights and is 115" tall. Larger than life-sized. Too tall to hang in any room of my current dwelling except sideways.
Many, many thank yous to all of you who wrote with kind and comforting words. Darn the luck, many of your e-mails came with no way to respond thanks to Blogger. Please know that each and every one meant so much. That total strangers the globe over would have compassion for a family going through such an ordeal ultimately says good things about the world we live in.

5 comments:

Frogdancer said...

What a beautiful painting! It makes my family photos look very ordinary.

Glad you're back. And knitting. Judging by what you said about the makings of that sweater, you're a far better knitter than I.

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Lovely to have you back with us, darling girl.

That family portrait of yours always knocks me backwards when I see it. The power in it is extraordinary.

I can't begin to imagine that sweater you're creating but it does excite me. I love it when somebody takes the rules and throws them every which way. Yes, I want to make it too.

Hugs from West Cork.

Longhorn Diva said...

Reading your blog is always an extraordinary inspiration for life. Perhaps especially now. Thank you so much, and blessings to you.

ambermoggie said...

fabulous portrait, I love it:) So pleased to see you are back knitting and the sweater is going to be stunning with those colours. Sending strength

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing your family portrait. It is so powerful. I'm glad to see you are back to knitting and blogging.