Friday, October 31, 2014

Aran and Fairisle Mix Coat

Michele Rose once designed a huge, funky, chunky, natural-wool sweater with bands of fairisle stitch around the waist and cables around the shoulders. Gena's is a more wearable version--open down the front, with enough acrylic to keep the wool from shrinking to nothing if you forget and machine-wash it--but it's even longer, with even more bands of fairisle stitch. It's a coat, not a sweater.

However, in real life the colors are much more restrained and natural than they look on the screen. No yellow, red, or purple; this coat is actually a mix of browns, grays, and creams, with natural wools predominating.

A coat is supposed to be long and loose, so smaller people can wear it too, but this one is a close (over one or two layers) fit for a 42-44" bust/chest, 5'6-5'9".

Hand washing and drying flat are recommended.

This one was made from a mix of different yarns, most of which are no longer available but came from the medium to extremely expensive price range. Our standard method for pricing hand-knitted items is to double the cost of the material. For a coat made from a similar mix of yarns bought today, we'd have to charge $300...but, for this one, we'll accept $150 + $5 for shipping.

Book Review: Creating Moments of Joy

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Creating Moments of Joy
Author: Jolene Brackey
Date: 2007
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 978-1-55753-462-0
Length: 327 pages
Illustrations: pen-and-ink decorations apparently by the author
Quote: “When a person has short-term memory loss, his life is made up of moments.”
This is a book about ways to go with the flow of Alzheimer’s Disease that make everybody’s life easier. Although Brackey apparently couldn’t sell the concept to a publishing house, in the field of geriatric care Creating Moments of Joy has become a classic.
So it must be a feel-good book, right? Wrong, I say. What I felt while reading this book was horror. If someone in your family definitely does have Alzheimer’s Disease, you may need this approach. That’s not to say there’s anything pleasant about dementia. And although I recommend the book, I’m going to share a warning that may mitigate the unpleasantness for some families.
What I find horrific about Creating Moments of Joy is that it’s being read by people whose elders do not, in fact, have Alzheimer’s Disease. Awareness of this disease pattern often causes people to anticipate progressive, permanent, complete memory loss when a patient is actually just reacting to medication.
By way of warning, I’d recommend that anyone who feels a need to read Creating Moments of Joy also read the last three years of the Ozarque blog (, as long as it’s preserved online. Earlier years of this blog were a delightful read but here, toward the end, it becomes a valuable document of the other common pattern of dementia. Here you see two seventy-somethings, a writer and a non-writer, who are obviously more active, alert, and intelligent than many people half their age. Then they suffer a minor physical trauma that reduces their sense of security. Then they lose the son who’s been closest to them, who’s been empowering them to live in the Green and frugal way they’ve chosen to live. Then they let themselves be persuaded to discard most of their belongings and move into a smaller, more crowded, less congenial place, and the writer starts suffering from writer’s block. (Who wouldn’t?) And then, not as something that’s been gradually developing over several years but immediately after a medical test that required medication, the writer feels unable to write.
This is not Alzheimer’s Disease. Obviously there’s no way of knowing whether either or both of this couple may also have had Alzheimer’s Disease; whether, in the absence of all those life-change stress units, they might have developed permanent memory loss during the next ten years. Nor is there any way of predicting whether the blogger known as Ozarque will live long enough to recover her memory and concentration. But the kind of dementia, or disorientation, or whatever, that’s documented here is what’s called a breakdown when it happens to young people. Not only is it possible for some people to lose more of their mental function than Ozarque’s friends describe her as having lost, and recover most or all of it; it’s possible for young writers to make first novels out of it.
All of us need to be aware that, at any age and any level of intelligence, various disease and drug-related conditions can throw us into temporary states of dementia. As a geriatric nursing assistant I’ve gone into hospitals with patients who had no idea what had happened during the past hour—sat beside patients who woke up, every few hours, over several days, panic-stricken because they had no memory of having gone to the hospital. And sometimes, after two days or two months or two years of near-total disorientation, they recover. One patient seemed to remember everything up to having checked into the hospital for a minor surgical operation, but not having been kept there for a week.
So how do we know, after age 70 or so, whether a patient is displaying a drug reaction, a “breakdown,” or Alzheimer’s Disease? We don’t.
Naturally nobody wants Alzheimer’s Disease to strike oneself, relatives, or friends...and so, in what Positive Thinkers might call an example of their mystical “law of attraction,” I see some older people actively worrying themselves into breakdowns.
“Grandma aaalllways forgets where she’s put her keys. She must have Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Must she really? Funnily enough some people are “aaalllways misplacing keys” from the moment they’re considered old enough to carry keys. Did Grandma and Grandpa learn to make six copies of every key, and store one in each of the places where they look, when they were newlyweds? If so, then although Grandma may misplace keys more often as more distractions like arthritis, rheumatism, and the illnesses and deaths of friends come along, her misplacing keys may have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s Disease.
As my mother’s favorite R.N. with a specialty in geriatric care often says, when Grandma forgets what keys are, then it’s likely that she has Alzheimer’s Disease. Or else she’s reacting to medication in a way teenagers who live dangerously would describe as tripping out, or being stoned.
The trouble is that, by the time people reach age seventy, the people who notice them misplacing keys aren’t likely to be old enough to remember that they misplaced keys at age seventeen. And the last thing I want is to be relegated to “moments of joy,” or sedated to the point of living in them, while I’m able to deal with an ongoing sequence of ups and downs. Think about it. Do you feel the same way?
That’s the warning. Creating Moments of Joy can be a very helpful approach when someone really has lost all short-term memory...just don’t try to use these ideas with a patient who has not. Grandpa may be too confused immediately after an operation to correct you, and later he may be too weak, but if he does remember that you “lied” and “pretended to be” the long-departed cousin for whom he momentarily mistook you, how can he ever forgive you? This is a book to use very carefully.
When, and only when, you are sure that someone’s short-term memory is gone forever, then it becomes possible to relax and go with the (depressing) flow. It no longer matters what you say or do. The patient is incapable of reasoning and is most likely to be least dangerous, to self and others, when people play along with his or her delusions, so go ahead and say that you’ve milked all the cows (when the nearest cow is a hundred miles away) or that you are the long-dead friend for whom the patient mistook you. Some people use the “moments of joy” approach with malice, consciously ridiculing the person with dementia. Some people have tried it as an experimental therapeutic technique. Some, like Brackey, use it with the kindest of intentions, to smooth over one of the rockiest patches in life. When it’s used with good intentions this technique can sometimes accomplish good things.
Just watch for evidence of recovery. Sometimes, even when there’s been a long-term, progressive gradual loss of memory, memory loss has been a side effect of medication rather than an effect of permanent brain damage. A patient who has seemed senile for ten years can suddenly start storing recent memories, and recovering old ones, after a change in medications—especially if it’s possible to discontinue certain “relaxant” and “sedative” meds. No matter how far gone his mind has seemed to be, you want his first coherent, recent memories of you to be memories of someone who showed him due respect, not someone who “lied” to him.
Some specific techniques discussed in Creating Moments of Joy won’t be held against you, and may be appreciated, if a patient recovers her memory. A chapter called “White on White” recommends experimenting to find out whether a patient sees or reacts to different colors in different ways. If blue paint on the wall behind the white toilet  helps Grandma see where the toilet is, and she recovers more ability to remember and understand what you’re doing, she might agree that painting the wall blue was a good idea. Making things easier to hear or see—or avoid hearing and seeing, if they’re unwelcome distractions—is not disrespectful.
How to tell where the patient’s mental functions are, especially if they fluctuate in reactions to food, medication, weather, etc.? Bookmark page 99: “[L]istening can be magical.” Whether the patient has Alzheimer’s Disease or not, this is always true.

Check out the prices on that Amazon link! During the time since I wrote this review, sold my physical copy of the book in real life (for $1), and posted this review, this book has definitely gone into the collector price range. One seller's best price for a used copy of the newest edition was $134! Jolene Brackey seems to be alive and blogging, so since you're going to pay more than the usual price for a used paperback wherever you get her book, you might as well buy it as a Fair Trade Book. I can offer it for $15 + $5 shipping, out of which Brackey or a charity of her choice will get $2.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lotus Blossom Lace Tunic

This is Gena's rendition of the Lotus Blossom Lace pattern from a vintage issue of Cast On. In real life the sweater is a soft shade of white, not yellowish or greenish gray. All acrylic. It's a large size, so when laid on a table for photographing both sleeves automatically hung down over the edges of the table.

Although it's "ventilated" with eyelets all over, this acrylic sweater is still quite warm and is recommended for someone who feels chilly when others are comfortable with the temperature of a room.

Fit is hard to define since this is a tunic rather than a sweater. The sleeves are meant to fit loosely, about three-quarter length, so they're not too long for a short person. The bottom of the sweater is meant to hang below the wearer's hipline, so it would be long enough for a tall person. The sweater is meant to be loose, worn over any number of layers; any size up to a 50" chest could get into it, although I think it looks good on small women. In short, if you want this sweater you can probably wear it.

The price is $20 + $5 shipping. Shipping prices can be consolidated for as many items as will fit into one package, and, yes, you could probably squeeze a book or two, or a cap, into the package with this sweater.

Book Review: Blue Latitudes

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Blue Latitudes
Author: Tony Horwitz
Date: 2002
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
ISBN: 0-8050-6541-5
Length: 480 pages including notes, maps, and index
Illustrations: maps
Quote: “In 1768, when [James] Cook embarked on the first [voyage], roughly a third of the world’s map remained blank...Cook sailed into this void in a small wooden ship and returned, three years later, with charts so accurate that some of them stayed in use until the 1990s.”
This explains why, on his travels around the Pacific Ocean (with a detour to northern England), Horwitz meets serious fans of the eighteenth-century sailor—even a “Captain Cook Society.” His companion on most of this adventure is a snarky, hard-drinking Australian called Roger, but he also meets serious Christians who insist that he and Roger attend services at churches Captain Cook might have attended. Though they also encounter people who blame Captain Cook for spreading diseases and boosting colonialism, the captain is still widely admired...especially by people who like sailing, islands, and historical reenactments.
The trips are organized in imperfectly chronological order. First there’s a week on a replica of a sailing ship that offers readers a glimpse of Captain Cook’s and his sailors’ everyday lives. The captain might have been considered modern, enlightened, and humanitarian in his day, ordering relatively little torture and pleased to report a low incidence of scurvy; the lifestyle would fit many modern people’s definition of torture anyway.
Then, using safer means of transportation, Horwitz and Roger visit the places Captain Cook explored. Horwitz’s descriptions of these places are interspersed with Cook’s and the sailors’. Chapter by chapter, we visit Tahiti, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Australia, Niue (“Savage Island”), Tonga, England, Alaska, and Hawaii. Horwitz mentions that Roger also followed the Captain to Antarctica, but he skipped that trip and doesn’t share anything Roger wrote about it. They meet interesting people—frequently in bars; this is a liquor-soaked book—and see interesting sights...what else would you expect in a travel book?
Captain Cook’s voyages were widely read and well funded because the Captain was making real and useful discoveries, but it didn’t hurt anything that his discoveries included more than one religious sect who welcomed strangers to the island with ritual orgies. Enough quotes make it into the published book to fascinate adolescent readers. As one of Horwitz’s contacts puts it, even today Tahitian culture is full of eroticism, preening, flirtation, suggestive dances, and smutty jokes. The translations of place names would, fifty years earlier, have been unprintable. I read the name of a smaller island, Huahine, and wonder if this is the same word Hawaiians spell wahine and translate as “woman.” Not exactly, says the local resident. And the languages are so closely related that after reading the islander’s explanation you’ll wonder whether Hawaiians understand wahine that way, too.
However, even in Captain Cook’s day, not all islanders belonged to the sex cults. The place where web sites ending in “” are based may disappoint people who like to visit those sites; although Cook named the place “Savage Island,” local people call it Niue, which they translate as “behold coconut,” and they lure visitors into church services by offering them virtually nothing else to do. When the local people aren’t in church, Horwitz finds just a few tourist-type things to do on Niue. Captain Cook mentioned islanders’ making a hostile display with red-stained teeth—a shade closer to blood than the reddish stains people might get from chewing areca nuts. Residents allow that this stain would have come from the red sap of a plant in the banana family, the “red banana.” Horwitz and Roger spend much of their time on Niue looking for a surviving red banana plant. Yes, the plant exists.
Then there’s a cooler-bin race: “We’ve lost wheels, we’ve lost people! And, tragically, we’ve lost beer!” and a British historical free-for-all in which a variety of events, some not even local, are all celebrated in the same time and place by the kind of people the informants of Confederates in the Attic would call farbs. “[We] asked him what was going on. ‘Plains of Abraham,’ he replied, pointing at a five-foot-high wall of plywood, topped with castlelike crenellations. ‘That’s Quebec City.’”
If you are the type of reader Dave Barry would describe, with fellow-feeling, as a “guy,” Blue Latitudes should appeal to you.
More scholarly questions are taken up here and there. Did “kangaroo” originally mean “I don’t know” or “Leave me alone”? Horwitz consults a native Australian who thinks that, in one dialect, it meant one or two species of kangaroo. (There are several.) However, other Australians Cook’s crew asked about other creatures apparently didn’t know that “kangaroo” meant anything and did use it to mean something like “some sort of animal,” or “I don’t know.” There were lots of misunderstandings. Horwitz’s local informants document a few other mistranslations, equally funny if less famous.
There are serious moments, though, when the fans consider the problems the Age of Exploration really did spread around the world. Captain Cook didn’t corrupt, pollute, or infect all the places he visited. Sometimes other Europeans had done that first. The captain did even venture to suggest that, after they knew they’d been infected with what were then deadly, incurable, contagious diseases, the sailors not participate in orgies. The men sworn to obey Captain Cook’s orders left no doubt that this was one order they felt free to ignore.
Then there’s the grim end of Captain Cook’s story. The captain’s personality changed on his last voyage. He wasn’t very old, but he was apparently very ill. With only eighteenth-century medicine to rely on, he probably wouldn’t have lived long past 1779 if he hadn’t been killed in Hawaii. And why, exactly, was he killed in Hawaii? The traditional short version of the story is that one of those religious cults practiced human sacrifice. Horwitz cites scholars who doubt this, and suggests that a quarrel, or even a conspiracy, may have taken place. Captain Cook was after all the master, and can easily be read as the precursor, to Captain Bligh.
Blue Latitudes is recommended to broadminded adults and stable adolescents (the ones who won’t burst out giggling, or worse, upon reading the Society Islands’ explanation of Huahine). I’m not recommending it to the nephews, here, for another ten or twenty years...but if they feel more interested in the book for that reason, they probably have read jokes of a similar degree of smuttiness in daily newspapers, not to mention some books I’ve recommended. It’s the number and frequency, not the gross-out level, of “blue” (or blue-pencil-bait) references that make parental guidance particularly suggested for Blue Latitudes, more than for Horwitz’s One for the Road or Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys or for that matter Hillary Rodham Clinton’s It Takes a Village.  

As a Fair Trade Book, Blue Latitudes will cost $5 + $5 shipping, from which Tony Horwitz or the charity of his choice get $1. (You may find it cheaper on Amazon but, so far as I know, none of the other booksellers pays living authors when they sell secondhand books. We do. At least we try.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Great American Ski Sweater and Cap

I guess my cell phone likes "fluorescent" colors! This is one picture that looks fairly similar to the way the sweater and cap look in real life. In real life the background wool-blend yarn is black, but the contrasts in neon pink, yellow, and chartreuse "Canadiana" acrylic are...almost as loud as they look on my screen.

Gena Greene took this pattern from the preppy blue-green-and-white sweater photographed on the cover of The American School of Needlework's Great Knitting Book. (No way I'm going to sell my copy! Click here to buy it on Amazon.) The sweater design has been slightly modified.

Washing with care is recommended; although the wool yarn is a blend, it may benefit from being pinned to shape while dried, since the yoke will not shrink and the waist and sleeves may shrink slightly. (How much wool shrinks depends to some extent on how it became wet and dry. Gently swishing it in lukewarm water, then drying it flat at room temperature, will shrink the same piece of wool much less than machine-washing and machine-drying.)

This large unisex sweater fits a 40-46" bust/chest, 5'6"-5'10". Sorry, we can't guarantee that the waist and sleeves can be shrunk to make it fit an average-size woman; it may always give them that "boyfriend sweater" look. The cap fits a medium-to-large adult and won't shrink.

The price is $45 for sweater and cap, $5 for shipping. As always, one shipping charge covers as much as will fit into one package; you could throw in a book or two.

Book Review: The Ride of Our Lives

Book Review: The Ride of Our Lives
Author:  Mike Leonard
Date: 2006
Publisher: Ballantine
ISBN: 0-345-48148-8
Length: 230 pages
Illustrations: black-and-white photos
Quote: “Less than half an hour into the adventure...the wheels had already come off.”
In this book Mike Leonard of Today Show fame, his wife, his parents, and his (grown-up) children take a month-long road trip. You’ve read about, and very likely even taken, wilder road trips...but grandparents were probably not involved.
This is a funny, sad, heartwarming story of two hardworking, lovable Irish-Americans taking their upwardly mobile children on a tour of their long and lucky lives, culminating with the birth of the first great-grandchild.
The blurb on the jacket describes the senior Leonards as “world-class originals.” They’re not. Luck and toughness apart, they’re so typy they’re practically stereotypes. He’s the perpetually disappointed optimist, she’s the frequently favorably surprised pessimist. Both talk like the sort of people who might have tried being comedians if they hadn’t had real jobs. They were reasonably attractive young people who matured into splendidly preserved eighty-somethings. They did their work every day, they sent the children to school, they bought nice houses in nice neighborhoods. Whaddayaknow, one of their children wound up on TV. Mrs. Leonard, not imaginative with names but smart enough to be a plausible forger, helped secure Mike Leonard’s job with NBC by sending fan mail in the names of all her departed friends and relatives.
Now they’re close enough to stardom that Ballantine not only published Mike Leonard’s account of the family vacation trip, but bound into the book a DVD on which you can watch this semi-celebrity family, live. Yes, my copy has the disk.
If you’re a fan of Mike Leonard’s you’ll love this book. If you’re like me, and watch TV only when you’re ill or sitting up with someone who is, so that you didn’t recognize Leonard’s name, I can tell you that you’ll enjoy meeting his family.
Maybe, if your elders or the places where they lived are widely scattered, you’ll even start planning a road trip of your own. Road trips are among the most popular retirement fantasies in America. Maybe you have a parent or grandparent who’s hoping The Ride of Our Lives will give you ideas. Maybe you are the parent or grandparent of grown-up, married offspring who would enjoy road-tripping with you.
"Car-free Pris is recommending a road trip?" Yes. If you don’t drive unnecessarily when you’re at home, you’re probably consuming less gas than a person who thinks he has to take the car to run around the block, and I'd be the last person to tell you to feel guilty about travelling by car every few years. Cars would have been a blessing to humankind, and could still be one, if we’d been able to control our urge to consume conspicuously—spending five dollars’ worth of gas to save two dollars on groceries, driving in a procession of five vehicles because no two of the five people in your household can agree on a radio station, cruising around in cars just to kill time—and saved the fossil fuels for treks across the prairie.

The Ride of Our Lives can be purchased as a Fair Trade Book for $5 + $5 shipping, from which Mike Leonard or his charity will receive $1. As always, you pay only one shipping price for as many items as we can ship in one package.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ministers Have a Right to Denounce Same-Sex Marriage

Sometimes people crave a challenge...this is a very difficult blog post to write, because it started out with a conversation on Google +, and so far I've not discovered any way to link to one specific conversation on Google +. Which means that by tomorrow the original conversation will be buried. I wish Google + had a neat, indexed format instead of that photo-album-spilled-on-the-floor look.

Anyway. Lowley, an e-friend at Bubblews, posted a short statement: .

I plussed it because I agree with her.

In the United States, not only Christian ministers, but all religious teachers, have the right to preach anything they believe (as long as it's not physical violence).

Nobody has a moral or legal right to preach, "Jesus told us to throw rocks at the heads of people who remarry after divorce." (For starters, according to the Bible, Jesus told us something close to the opposite of that.) But people do have a moral and legal right to preach, "Members of this church in good standing may not remarry after divorce. Ministers in this church may not perform weddings for divorcees with living ex-wives or ex-husbands."

I grew up among Christians who preached exactly that. Most of the time I believe they're accurately teaching what the Bible teaches. I came to believe that my husband's inability to be reconciled to his ex-wife was a special case because, if the civil law set forth in the Old Testament had been followed, she would not have been living anyway. I didn't pound on the walls and scream that any church had to host our wedding party, although I'd been waiting for a big white wedding in a church for thirty years. Nor did I join any of the super-liberal churches that will marry anybody to anybody as long as one of them is able to count out the money. I just accepted that, if we wanted to formalize the marriage into which we'd backed by way of D.C. law in Maryland, we'd have to do that at the courthouse...and it would be none of the business of anybody who didn't know us personally.

Nobody has a moral or legal right to preach, "We should hate people who look different from us, chase them out of our neighborhoods, shoot them in the back...or even pay them less than we pay people who look like us for doing the same job." But people do have a moral and legal right to preach, "People should socialize with their own ethnic group; if any people whose ancestors came from a different place than ours did want to join our denomination, they should form a 'sister church' and meet in a different building," if that is what they believe.

I would not agree with them. There are those who've claimed that my husband and I didn't choose to turn our marriage into some sort of publicity event because, although both of us were multiethnic, our ancestors didn't come from the same countries, and it showed. They were wrong. The Bible has a lot to say about entanglements with unbelievers, but it affirms, "Moses married an Ethiopian," and it affirms that the Ethiopians had a different skin color than the Hebrews. But if some people feel queasy when they think about interracial sex, that's their problem, and they have a right to deal with it in any peaceful and honest way they can.

Nobody has a moral or legal right to preach, "We should hate women who wear trousers, or do any of the evil and violent things previously mentioned to them," either. But people do have a moral and legal right to preach, "Members of our church should adopt whatever dress code has become our identifying mark in our community. Women who wear trousers, or adults who wear bright colors, or people who wear buttons on their clothes, may not attend our meetings," if they believe that that kind of teaching honors God or does any good for any person in any way.

I happen to live in a town where one of the dominant churches has preached that a Christian woman should never be seen in trousers, or that "If you had a real spiritual experience, you wouldn't want to wear pants." I respect those of my relatives who believe that; I've never even given in to the temptation to go British on them and say "I certainly don't want people to see my pants, and that's why, when I work outdoors and climb up ladders and crawl under sinks, I wear jeans." (That does happen to be the usual reason why I wear jeans; sometimes it's also because I'm running out of clean, suitable dresses to wear, and this summer it's been because I worked with a lady who belonged to that church and didn't want people to think I'd converted.) I don't believe that a real spiritual experience would cause a woman to feel unable to dress decently while doing honest work, and never will. I do feel more comfortable wearing skirts when I sit at a computer all day--cooler, less sweaty--but I think a real spiritual experience would be more likely to cause people to stop judging others by their appearance, or even noticing what they wear. Nevertheless, if some people want to adopt a special dress code to show that they belong to a certain church, they have a right to do that, and they have a right to make it clear that people not dressing by the code are outsiders.

Why do I uphold these churches' right to preach things that I don't believe? Because I'm American. I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of association. If a minority of Christians want to adopt a rule against something that the majority of Christians believe is acceptable, that's their right, and it's my American duty to defend it.

So, what about the (majority of) American churches that don't support the idea of same-sex marriage? That is most definitely their right. Any church has a right to adopt any rule the members accept about who can and cannot be married in that church. Americans are free to choose not to be members of that church; therefore, the church is free to tell people they don't qualify to become members if they choose not to follow whatever rules the members adopt.

When a church's rules genuinely are petty, silly, and stuck in the private neuroses of some hypersensitive U.S. equivalent of Mullah Omar, people can usually recognize that church by its smallness, poverty, and obscurity. It'll be one pathetic old geezer standing up, probably in a failed store that belongs to one of his in-laws, shaking his trembly hand at an audience of ten or fifteen poor souls as he rants, "Playing pinochle is wrong, it's the first step down a slippery slope that leads to the eternal fires, etc. etc. etc.," until he feels faint. There are a few people like that alive in this country today. Some of them have most definitely denounced things every single person who reads this post has done, because a lot of them denounce the Internet. Has this done any of us any harm? I doubt it.

I say, let them denounce me and my web site and my jeans and my trench coat and my dark-skinned immigrant husband (God rest him) and my Nephews' going to Halloween parties and whatever else they can think of, if it makes them feel better. Even when my faith wavers and I think seriously about things that really are un-Christian, my personal habits and temperament are what most people would agree border on being monastic, but let those who like denouncing people denounce my wicked worldly ways as much as they like. That's the American way.

So, whatever else we may conclude, we must conclude that those who demand that churches be forced to sanction same-sex marriages are un-American. Not only should the churches reject them as members; the United States should call them to account for their residence within our borders.

But must we also conclude that efforts to ram same-sex marriage through the churches that oppose it proves that all homosexuals really are more mentally disturbed than the rest of us? Not necessarily; we must at least allow that there are a lot more churches that take "Ye shall not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination" seriously than there are churches that demand strict obedience to "Neither shalt thou wear a garment of linen and woolen mixed."

We can even allow that many Christians have confused their personal squeamishness about various sexual acts with some sort of moral judgment about the relative badness of those acts. Too many people do tend to think, "Well, any married man would have at least been tempted to cheat on his wife with Marilyn Monroe, but when it came to Monica Lewinsky, that was bad, and if it were a man, now that would be disgusting." People may feel that way but the Bible offers nothing in the way of evidence that God agrees with them. Actually, the Bible advises people not to try to judge this kind of thing. All of us live with temptation to indulge in sexual behavior that is not part of a Christian marriage. All Christians should help each other deal with this temptation, and no Christian needs to indulge any unhealthy curiosity about the sexual behavior of people who aren't asking for Christian guidance and moral support.

The challenge to my Google + post came from someone I don't know in real life whose screen name is Christopher Li-Reid. It's hard to imagine the name "Li-Reid" as not making a statement about someone from China being married to someone from Scotland. I hope Christopher Li-Reid is not using his (I'm guessing) real name in cyberspace. It's possible that he (?) even chose "Reid" because he's a lurker who knows that my great-grandmother belonged to the branch of the Reid clan who spell it "Reed" as a deliberate mistranslation of Ani Godagewi. (Long ago, our Scottish ancestor married our Cherokee ancestor.) It's possible that "Reid" is the name of one of his ancestors; it's possible that if you go back ten or fifteen generations he's related to me. And if he thinks I'd have any problem with the "Li" part of it, he's wrong.

I don't even give a flip whether he's trying to tell us that he's Mr. Li who considers himself married to Mr. Reid, or Mr. Reid who considers himself married to Mr. Li. At least I don't give a flip what he or any other readers do in their own homes, or, for that matter, how accurately they discuss what they do in their own homes when they're on the Internet.

I would like him to account for this comment: "...but as long as you have to make up lies about how christians dont persecute non christians im pretty sure that'll get you into heaven right?"

My response to that is: " If you have any factual evidence of Christians persecuting non-Christians, in anything comparable to the way Boko Haram have been persecuting Christians lately, please feel free to share it so we can denounce those so-called Christians too."

"Persecute" does not mean "don't liiiike me." I hope everyone who's allowed to use a computer understands that nobody has to like anybody.

Many people, Christians and otherwise, don't like me either. Some Christians don't like my understanding of Christianity. Some people don't like women. Some people don't like introverts. Some people don't like that I'm biracial and my husband was triracial. A lot of people just don't know anything about me and don't want to bother making a new acquaintance, so although they don't dislike me they don't like me, either, and wouldn't like it if anyone demanded that they take the time to get to know anything about me. These are facts of life.

There are also people who resent the few privileges that have been handed to me in life to offset all the bad things in my life. When my husband died his ex-wife became my all-but-mortal enemy because I was his rightful heir, and now that she's been deported there are people in my home town who are acting as enemies (less desperate but still hostile) because I'm my father's rightful heir. And I don't know anything about Christopher Li-Reid's situation, but I'm sure he's aware that the majority of homosexuals are and have always been rich White men. As such, they are resented because of their privileges, whether anybody knows or cares anything about their sex lives. They generate even more resentment when they try to present themselves as victims of oppression, when, by any objective measure, they've been the ones doing most of the oppressing in human history. Failure to acknowledge this as a fact of life is evidence of something gone wrong with a thought process. I'm not sure what.

But I would like to see more acknowledgment that the whole foofarah about same-sex marriage has been a smokescreen for efforts to trample on the rights of individuals. What's this talk about "the legal benefits of marriage," the "human rights" of individuals to name each other as next of kin or heirs or legal guardians or whatever? When, how, and why have single people been denied those rights?

I remember reading, in the 1990s, an argument by left-winger Cornel West to the effect that "creating legal incentives to reward marriage" would encourage young men to be better fathers. Rewarding fathers for marrying the mothers of their children, in custody cases and suchlike, is all very well, but when did it turn into a legal penalty on anyone who happens not to be married at the other end of life, when the person becomes disabled?

Anyone with enough intelligence to deserve listening to, regardless of their sexual preference, has to admit that half of all people who've been married are going to become widows--if they don't become divorcees first.

Therefore, if homosexuals are being denied "the legal benefits of marriage," their focus should be on joining with the rest of humankind to uphold the legal rights of widows, as well as those of people who've been divorced or who've never been married. Why not skip the step that annoys the majority of Americans, and focus directly on the human rights issue here?

Why do homosexual activists hate widows? That's the question all of us need to ask when we talk about same-sex marriage. It's not the same question as "How is it possible for anyone in these United States to propose anything as blatantly unconstitutional as dictating to religious people what they should believe and teach about their religion?" but it's almost equally important.

Garter Stitch Blocks Jacket

This woman's sweater was knitted to measurements from a published pattern. All we can say about those measurements is that they must have expected the wearer to want to roll the sleeves up. The idea was to use up some scraps of bulky yarn. In real life, the colors are a Lion Brand Homespun yarn called "Waterfall" (pale aqua to medium blue-grey mix), a blue-grey mohair-blend boucle, a nubbly lavender blend, and a pink-grey-and-white flecked why, when I photographed this with my cell phone and transferred the picture to the computer, is the aqua and blue-grey showing up as lime-green and sherbet-orange? (That was on one of the computers in this building; on this one the aqua is showing up as aqua, and the lavender as lavender, but the grey is showing up khaki.)What's behind the jacket is a wooden table, by the way, and on this computer it looks as if it had been painted bright blue, but it has not.

Anyway, Gena Greene was reinterpreting a pattern found in Amy Carroll's Sweater Book. If the sleeves are rolled up, this jacket would fit sizes 40-44", 5'4-5'8" tall. A taller person could wear it as a cropped jacket with the sleeves unrolled.

The yarn is mostly acrylic (some skeins contained some other fibres); the jacket can be machine-laundered.

Price: $50 + $5 shipping

Book Review: We Be Here When the Morning Comes

Book Title: We Be Here When the Morninng Comes
Author: Bryan Woolley
Date: 1975
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 0-8131-1337-7
Length: 104 pages text plus photo insert
Illustrations: black-and-white photos by Ford Reid
Quote: “We Be Here When the Morning Comes is not a sociological study of ‘the Appalachian coal miner today’...It is intended to be simply a portrait, in words and pictures, of a community and its people art a particular instant...based al­most entirely on our own observations of persons arnd events and many hours of tape-recorded interviews.”
In the 1930s, Harlan County coal miners’ attempts to unionize led to a small-scale civil war. In the 1970s, the mines were still the source of “the nation’s life blood—electric power,” and the miners were on strike, demanding a few improvements that they hoped would make their job less dangerous. Reporter Woolley and photographer Reid had documented earlier phases of the story for the Louisville papers before they decided to rent rooms in Harlan and produce this short book.
“It is also a book about Appalachia,” a blurb writer insists on the dust jacket, as if disputing Woolley’s very words. In Virginia, “Appalachia” is the name of a specific town....and this book is about Harlan, which is a place in its own right, and entitled to its own name.
It is, specifically, about an incident in which a mine foreman, probably drunk, shot and killed a striking miner, and how the community reacted. The striker may have participated in some sort of demonstration that provoked the foreman, or may not; different stories were told. They were neighbors, had been friends, and may have been relatives. The long strike had been getting on everybody’s nerves. Woolley’s informants describe an episode in which strikers’ wives, thinking a court order not to harass the strike breakers was aimed at their husbands but not at them, attacked the “scabs” with “switches”—“Did you ever see a switch big around as your arm?” People were afraid the violence would get out of hand. At first they worried that Woolley might provoke violence. In the end his reportorial presence may have put a damper on the violence, although Woolley reports that the foreman was pronounced innocent of “intent to kill.” Based on Woolley’s reporting, this verdict rather obviously reflected the fact that U.S. juries are not allowed to pronounce a case “not proved,” no matter how many conflicting, unverifiable stories they’ve heard.
Slanted? Pro-union? Absolutely. “Impressively honest,” as Robert Coles pronounced this book? Probably. Woolley seems to be reporting what people told him; under the circumstances it’s natural, even predictable, that all his informants seem to be on the strikers’ side—knowing which side his sympathies were on, people on the other side wouldn’t have talked to Woolley. Although Woolley admits that there was no way for outsiders to tell the scabs from the strikers, that they still worked in the same mines and belonged to the same families and even continued to worship in the same churches, they were not on speaking terms at this point. The man in whose house Woolley was staying solemnly quoted Jack London, to Woolley, as having written, “Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab,” and refused to let Woolley buy a snack at a store: “Not that store, buddy. That’s a scab store. You wouldn’t want to do any business with him.” So Woolley wouldn’t have met any equally impressive, equally forthright people who might have thought the strike was unnecessary or counterproductive. Instead he got, and he shares with us, a witty and imaginative analysis of what went wrong with certain miners to cause their “scabism.” Honest, so far as it goes, but one-sided.
If due allowances are made for this obvious built-in bias, We Be Here When the Morning Comes is a valuable, and very readable, bit of Kentucky history.

I was surprised to learn, online, that this book has become a bit of a collector's item. Bryan Woolley is still alive and writing in Texas. (Google searches for him will be disappointing if you don't specify a book title, like We Be Here When the Morning Comes or Home Is Where the Cat Is, since another Bryan Woolley, a chef in Utah, is getting a lot of attention.) This early book is out of print, and the best I'll be able to do as a Fair Trade Book will be $10 for the book and $5 for shipping. As always, if multiple items are shipped in the same package you pay only one shipping fee. You can get the book a little cheaper (not much) directly from Amazon, but if you buy it as a Fair Trade Book Woolley, or a charity of his choice, gets $1.50.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Four Shades of Green Jacket

Gentle Readers, I'm just thrilled through an' through to see that Amazon has released a widget that's not based on the dreaded "I-frames." And here's a perfect post to test it on...

Years ago, the Red Heart yarn company held an afghan contest and donated the afghans to the Ronald McDonald House. It happened that the painting on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition of Last Chance to See (discussed here) had suggested knitting patterns to my mind, earlier that year, and the yarn I'd seen as matching the colors in the painting was Red Heart yarn (as seen in discount department stores everywhere). So I went out and bought Red Heart in fifteen different brilliant colors and knitted the afghan. It did not win the contest. My husband said its chances might have been better if one of the patches had been a book pocket with a copy of the book tucked into it, so people could see exactly what I'd been thinking. I thought some people staying at a Ronald McDonald house would feel much better if they'd found Last Chance to See in their rooms, but then some other people would probably complain about the swearwords...

Anyway, this project left me with lots of Red Heart yarn to use up, and one project that used about six ounces of four colors was a slipstitch jacket worked from a pattern in Knitter's magazine. The four colors I actually used were shades of bright green, forest green, olive green, and moss green, not the grays I'm seeing on this computer screen.

The pattern was by Melissa Leapman, and was originally designed as a pullover.

Size: 32-34" chest, 5' to 5'4" tall

Material: 100% acrylic. (Machine wash and dry!)

Cost: $25 + $5 shipping

Book Review: Beloved Unbeliever

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Beloved Unbeliever
Author: Jo Berry
Date: 1981
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 0-310-42621-9
Length: 169 pages
Quote: “One of the most grievous and difficult situations a Christian woman ever faces is that of being...married to a man who is not a believer...knowing her husband is neither spiritually awakened nor secure for eternity.”
Jo Berry does not stress, in this book, the difference between “not a believer” and “not a member of my particular denomination, or a member of my particular school of thought within the denomination, or in perfect agreement with me on all things.” Beloved Unbeliever is a well-focussed book. It is strictly about Christian women married to men who are skeptical about Christianity. It has little to offer to several other people who might consider themselves “unequally yoked”:
* Christian men married to women who are skeptical about Christianity.
* Christians married to Jews, Muslims, or others who believe in the same God but have different beliefs about God.
* Active Christians married to lapsed Christians.
* Protestants married to Catholics.
* “Low Church” Christians married to “High Church” Christians.
* “Denominational Christians” married to “Bible Christians.”
* Bible-reading Christians who have agreed in their interpretation of the Bible for years, but have come to an area of disagreement.
* “Liberal” members of a denomination married to “conservative” members of the same denomination.
* And then, like certain lurking local readers out there, people who hold similar beliefs about God but have reached a point where they wonder whether God is leading them in different directions—like the well-preserved spouse who feels called to become more active in retirement, while the disabled spouse seems obviously called to a less active life. (I know a couple whose divorce was obviously caused by that kind of “incompatibility.” The disabled spouse has been dead for years now, but the still active partner still feels called to tell everyone that they’d become spiritually incompatible. As if she thinks anybody can believe that she was the more spiritual spouse.)
In fact, because Beloved Unbeliever is so well focussed, I find it hard to review. I know several married women who go to church alone, if they go, but on consideration I think all of their husbands are “believers.” Most of these husbands are even Christians, but they believe that observing a day of rest and worship does not mean spending the day mingling with people they don’t know well or don’t like.
 So I can’t really say how valuable Beloved Unbeliever may be for its intended audience. If you are a Christian married to an Active Unbeliever, please use the comment space to fill in this important gap. I have this book for resale, I’ve read it, I think I can recommend it, but what can I really say about it?
I can say that Beloved Unbeliever contains some sound teaching about life and marriage in general, and some anecdotes from the Sunday School groups in which Berry tested this material before writing a book. Almost every page contains an appropriate Bible text. The discussion of what the Authorized Version calls “submission” seems to be straddling a fence in an effort not to offend anybody, but it is tasteful and ethically sound, not one of those alleged older-style books (of which I’ve never actually read one) that advised Christian wives to “submit to” violent abuse or demands that they participate in unethical behavior. 
To buy it here will cost $5 + $5 shipping. (You pay only one shipping charge for as many items as can be shipped in one package, so please browse...for those who are not familiar with the blog culture, you can click on the words "book" or "Fair Trade Book" in the line that begins with "Labels" to see more posts about books you can buy through the Fair Trade Books system. Also, when you buy a book here, you can nominate additional books you'd like to buy this way.) Out of this $10, Jo Berry or a charity of her choice gets $1.