Wednesday, September 21, 2011

California bound

Finishing up many things and getting ready for my trip to VK Live -- LOS ANGELES tomorrow! I hope to see some of you there. Please flag me down if you see me and if you're able to come, there are still some openings in a few of my classes.

Full scoop when I get back...

Sunday, September 11, 2011


With all the media coverage about today's tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I have been uncomfortably aware that this day was approaching. We see slogans like "Never forget" and "We remember" and while I appreciate their fierce determination, I don't see how anyone who experienced those days firsthand could ever possibly forget. On the contrary, a part of me wants to forget, or at least wants to avoid reopening the wounds caused by that day.

Those days in September 2001 were horrifying. That horror feels fresh. And in the wake of 9/11 came new, subtler horrors: uncertainty about how to live in this post-9/11 world; guilt and anger at the mistakes we made in the days following 9/11; frustration at our inability to prevent another massacre from happening again; the painful struggle between the normal human instinct to avoid danger and our determination not to let evildoers rob of us our way of life, or the pleasure we take in our freedoms.

As much as I want to forget, though, I can't. And I won't, because the people who died on that day deserve to be remembered. The goofy red-headed guy who used to stumble down our hall freshman year and once peed into the drain of a broom closet thinking he was in a bathroom. The sort of shy but sweet guy who took me to a semi-formal in college and whose friendship I would appreciate a lot more now that I'm not an dopey 18-year-old fascinated with the college party scene. Both died in the Twin Towers. Tom's cousin who works at the Pentagon and survived because he had a doctor's appointment that day, but carries that survivor's guilt as he remembers the friends and colleagues he lost. The incredible passengers of Flight 93 who learned what was going on in midair, and instead of doing something understandable, like praying (or drinking all the booze from the flight attendant's cart, which would have been my choice), decided that they would use their own deaths to spare their fellow citizens. The first responders who put thoughts of their own safety second, as they, incredibly, headed into the collapsing buildings to help survivors.

None of them deserved to die. All of them deserve to be remembered.

I tried so hard to come up with some thoughtful and meaningful way to end this blog post. But I don't know how to make sense of a senseless event. So I'll just wish you all peace.


Friday, September 09, 2011


If I believed in magical thinking, I'd be certain that I jinxed myself in my last post. You might have thought, as I did, that I'd exhausted my quota of natural disasters for the short-term, but apparently I did not. Within the last 48 hours, my 80-year-old mom had to evacuate her home after massive rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee caused the Susquehanna River to rise precipitously.

My family lost everything in the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flooding, so this brought up all kinds of frightening flashbacks. The particular neighborhood that my mom lives in is about 200 or so feet from the Susquehanna, but protected by a very large levee.* The levee was designed to protect from 41 feet of water, and projected totals were very close to that amount. The mayor of Wilkes-Barre ordered evacuation of about 65,000 W-B residents, including my mom. She was safety ensconced in my brother's house, along with essentials and irreplaceable items like family photographs. My brother carried all sorts of other items up to the top floors of the house in the hope that if the flood waters came, they might not reach the second floor or attic.

Last night was dicey. The river was supposed to crest around 2 a.m. but apparently the water gauges were damaged by the weather conditions and water and malfunctioned. We learned today that the river did crest, albeit at over 42 feet (more than projected) but the levee system had a few extra feet built into it that prevented the water from flooding. Phew. The river level is currently dropping but it's a much slower process and there is now concern about the levee system holding up under the weight and pressure of the water over the next day or two.

Market Street Bridge in downtown W-B
Photo from Times-Leader newspaper

Right now, my mom is safe; she has flood insurance; and she has plenty of people who love her and will make sure she is okay. If you can spare a good thought or a prayer (if you're so inclined) that the levee system will hold, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Nothing is more dangerous than a stressed-out dike.

*Lest you think that the entire W-B community dodged a bullet, there are many areas within a few miles of my mom's house that have already suffered devastating flooding -- Nanticoke, Tunkhannock, Shickshinny and others. Having suffered something similar as a child, my heart breaks for them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

I'm back

As George Constanza might say, "I'm back, baby, I'm back!" If you'd told me a few weeks ago that by Labor Day, I would have experienced an earthquake, been evacuated due to a hurricane, lost power for the better part of a week, and had our local Chili's burn down, I don't think I would have believed you. Yet all of those things did happen, and while I'm swamped with overdue work, I'm glad that we have finally weathered all the literal and metaphorical storms. The kids went back to school yesterday and we're starting to get back into a routine. Our family and our house are doing fine, for which we are very grateful.

One exciting thing that happened in the last week was seeing some preview photographs of two projects that I knit a very long time ago (nearly a year ago) for Interweave Knits -- Holiday edition. Behold the Watercolor Beret, knit in a self-striping sock yarn

and the Overshot Mittens (I didn't name them, so I am not sure what the name means, although I think it's a weaving term maybe?).

These are very special because they are knit in St-Denis Nordique, one of my all-time favorite yarns. Think of all the fun you could have selecting your own two colors to make these:

like Magenta with Bottle Green, or Elephant with Blue Eggshell or Spicy Rose with Silver. The full palette is here (now with online ordering for Nordique yarns!).

The next few weeks are going to be insane here, as I try to finish up various deadlines, including a number of book projects, shepherding other people's projects to completion, and finishing the manuscript. I probably won't be posting as often until October...Don't give up on me, though, peeps!