28 May 2012

Memorial Day 2012

I find that other than a parade that seems more about children - scout troops, local bands, various sports teams - than the soldiers, in most areas Memorial Day has turned into just a day off from work, nothing terribly special, maybe the inevitable sales and the opening of summer season for pools and barbeques.

We were lucky in my family.  Nobody who served failed to come back.  But there are lots of families who are not so lucky, even in the last week.  Soldiers go away, and there's no way to know until they do or don't whether they will come back.

There is a famous and very short poem called "In Flanders Fields" which is the source of the poppies that used to spring up like spring flowers this time of year.  I remember buying them when I was a child and wearing them proudly, sometimes a small bouquet of them because I didn't want to pass by anybody who was selling one.
I remember my great-grandmother buying poppies when I was very small, telling me that we bought them to remember and honor the soldiers who had fought and died for our freedoms.  I remember seeing the old men, many still fitting in their uniforms, others wearing whatever part of the uniform still fit, selling the poppies on street corners, in front of grocery stores, all over town in the week or two before Memorial Day.

You don't see them as much anymore.  The number of old soldiers in the parades is dwindling.  Gone are the ones from World War I, "The War to End All Wars."  We are losing those from World War II, "The War After That."  And the Korean War.  Age is taking them from us.

We are also losing those from the Vietnam War, some due to age and some due to mental and other wounds that were not imagined in the earlier wars.  I don't remember that war, but I remember reading about the returning soldiers being spit upon and shunned, and even as an adult not understanding why that could be.  These were soldiers who fought to preserve freedom.  Whatever else you think of them, or their war, they did not deserve to return to hatred.  Maybe sadness, maybe other reactions, but not a hatred that made them wonder why they had enlisted to serve this country.

And now we have other wars:  Gulf War.  Afghanistan.  Iraq.   Other sandy places.    And we have different injuries, and different deaths.  Soldiers come home surviving injuries that would have killed them in an earlier war.  Internal injuries, physical and emotional, that are also new to this age of IEDs and children as shields and the propaganda that tells our soldiers that the people they think they are saving, hate and want to kill them.

On Memorial Day we are supposed to remember and honour our war dead - any war, and no matter how they died.  We should also remember and honour the living, who served and should know how we appreciate it before all we can do is stick a flag into the ground in front of their headstone or another memorial location, and salute it.  These are people who risked their lives every day, who committed to risk their lives, often for people they don't know, and who sometimes hate them.  To serve a country that sometimes dishonored them and the flag they swore to follow.

Remember our military.  Thank them.  Honor them.

Whether you agree with the reason for the fight, remember that these are the people who committed to the fight, who ignored their fear and sometimes walked into death, or horrific injuries, because it was their job to do so.  If nothing else, honour their bravery.

My family came to this country to enjoy the freedoms our military helped obtain and preserve for us.  I will always love and honor and respect and appreciate them for that.

13 May 2012

Two Movies and a Shawl

Continuing from the previous post:
After knitting eight sweaters plus test-knitting some mittens, I wanted to make something for ME.  So I did this: It took a bit under a week to do.  The pattern is a only-found-by-Wayback-Machine shawl pattern for a discontinued Crystal Palace yarn called "Merino Stripes." I used a dollar-a-ball no-name yarn I found at AC Moore, which I thought was fun. You can't see how it sparkles, but the closeup does show a few of the sequins that are contained in the yarn. The background is almost charcoal grey, twisted with a thread that shades as you see between sea green and light teal. VERY pretty, and I had just enough to make a shawl to fit me.
I finished while getting my hair cut, and gave the remaining partial ball to the stylist.  She also crafts and crochets and I know she will find a good use for it.  She really likes the shawl.
I don't need to figure out what to do next, because I have two baby blankets to finish.  I frogged one of the items I started because I didn't like how it looked, and I am trying to figure out what to do with some other yarn that I'd like to use but isn't speaking to me properly.  I did start another charity item, a baby blanket that will end up in Kazahkstan, just to have something to do during my bible class and other congregational events where I think charity work will be less objectionable.

I did get to see movies this week.  How I fit them in, I'm not quite sure!

On Tuesday it was "Science on Screen" and we saw "The Time Machine" which was followed by a talk from a physicist.  On Wednesday an evening meeting cancelled and I was able to use a free pass to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" which I really enjoyed.  Although some of the plot points were predictable, watching that cast perform was a joy, and there were enough points NOT predictable to make the time fly.

Finally, on Friday I saw "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" - again some predictable points (and one completely implausable reappearance) but very enjoyable.  So that's technically three movies - but I counted only the new ones for my title.  "Science on Screen" I see as much for the science as anything.  Y'all know I'm geeky that way.

Now to pack my crocheting - I have a week where I am in three other states on various days, starting later today.  It does allow me a semi-surprise visit to my parents for Mother's Day.

To all the mothers out there - enjoy your day, and thank you!

Eight Sweaters, Two Movies, and a Shawl

I've been busy, not just with work but also meeting a knitting deadline for Mittens for Akkol, which does a big project every spring.  One of the founders makes a trip with sets of warm woollies for each graduate of their independent living program.  Each graduate gets to choose three colours and the knitters make a sweater, hat, scarf, mittens, and two pairs of socks for each graduate, plus a few extras in case someone wasn't there on measuring day.
Since I find sweaters easier to do, with the big swaths of repetitive knitting that works well for conference calls, meetings, and traveling, I signed up for several and ended up knitting these:

As you can see, I did a number of styles, partly to keep my interest and partly to try new things and partly so the grads wouldn't feel that their sweaters were cranked out.  Although it felt a bit that way at the end!  Even when I used the same basic pattern, as on the two cardigans, I did enough variation that I don't think they look the same.  And I tried to organize the pictures a little better, but am giving up at this point.

The purple-acid yellow-aqua one was fun to do, in part ot incorporate the colours.  It's one of the "extra" sets and when someone said she was knitting mittens, hat, and scarf with the yellow, I remembered that I had some in stash and was wondering what to do.  It went very well with the other colours, I think.  The basic style is the same as the purple-turquoise-black one.

Seven of the sweaters are for girls, one for a boy - yes, it's the solid-colour gansey.  All are wool or wool-alpaca, because it is COLD in Kazahkstan.  I knit most with doubled yarn, partly for speed and partly for warmth.

In addition, I found a wool hat (handspun and handdyed yarn) that I send, and was asked to test-knit some mittens for their fundraising pattern book.  After I finished them, I combined leftover purple alpaca-wool with the remaining handdyed yarn used for the mittens, and made a matching hat:

After all that was done, I had a bit of startitis.  And I wanted to make something for ME as a reward for all those sweaters.  So I knit a shawl.  Apparently this post has as many pictures as I can include, so I will have to tell you about the shawl separately.