FEELING GRATEFUL

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Those of you who are regular readers know that my house has revolted this year, requiring untold repairs and replacements.  Last Sunday my husband heard a loud “boom” emanating from the garage – that is never a good sign.  Sure enough, our hot water heater had exploded.  Luckily, we had a pan underneath it, sparing my Christmas ornaments from a watery grave.  The next day the plumber installed a new one.  He was no further than the end of our street when I turned on our under counter lights and blew the transformer.  I wanted to scream.  Instead, I did what any sensible person would do – poured myself a glass of wine and decided to take this one in stride.  I had just spent the weekend watching the fires in California and the absolute devastation they wreaked.  I thought about how many thousands of people wished that their only problem was a few repairs.  I was reminded of the saying by Confucius:  “I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.”  Sometimes we can get so caught up in minor problems we forget to just be thankful for all that is so good in our lives.  So this Thanksgiving week I am feeling very grateful for a house that is standing, a wonderful family and caring friends.  In the spirit of the week, I am sharing a few quotes about gratitude.

 

Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.  Leroy “Satchel” Paige

Gratitude turns what we have into enough Aesop

Find the good and praise it.  Alex Hailey  (This one comes in handy for anyone eating my cooking)

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  Robert Brault

This is a wonderful day.  I’ve never seen this one before.  Maya Angelou

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.  Brene Brown

Silent gratitude isn’t very much use to anyone.  Gertrude Stein

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.  Zig Ziglar

Finally, since Thanksgiving this year falls on the 55th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, I thought it fitting to end with this one:

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.  John F. Kennedy

My brother and I are indeed thankful for all of you who read our blog.  We wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Holiday Rant

by Bob Sparrow

I was just coming down from my three Three Musketeers high the day after Halloween, OK four, when my Sirius radio started playing Christmas music, my wife started telling me about our Thanksgiving Day plans and our friends were asking me what we’re doing for New Years Eve. I’m thinking to myself, why have ‘they’ crammed these four holidays into the last 62 days of the year?

It’s 62 days of eating candy, then eating leftover candy, then eating excessively large turkey dinners, then eating calorie-rich Christmas meals accompanied by eggnog, wassail or the latest ‘holiday beverage’, and then we’re expected to have the ‘party of the year’ to celebrate the coming of a new year. If I had lost any weight on the variety of diets I’ve been on throughout the year, that ship set sail with the Three Musketeers. Which is how New Year’s resolutions get created I guess.  You know, historians aren’t really certain about the actual birth of Jesus anyway and the Gregorian calendar, which we follow, is only one of many available calendars so I say move Christmas and New Years to the summer, where at least we can get out and walk off a few calories.

Thank you, Columbus!

And as long as we’re moving holidays around, there’s probably some we could get rid of altogether. Columbus Day immediately comes to mind – a holiday that hangs just outside of that 62 day window, on October 14. This is a strange one to me since Christopher Columbus never set foot on U.S. soil, yet for years we’ve celebrated this Italian’s ‘discovery of America’ along with his other bogus discovery – proving the world wasn’t flat!   Columbus Day’s status as a holiday has been sketchy at best.  Some states don’t recognize it, but rather eschewed this holiday for ‘Indigenous People’s Day’, which was started in 1992 by, who else, the city of Berkeley.  It does make me wonder why we don’t have a national holiday to celebrate Native Americans.  I guess we just don’t want to be reminded of what we’ve done to them.  But Columbus is vigorously celebrated in many Italian communities, just as the Irish observe St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, which was the day St. Patrick died in AD 461 – not sure how that became a holiday. To most of us it’s just another time to hoist a drink – preferably Irish whiskey or beer.

So we have the Italians and Irish taken care of and the Afro-Americans with the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, which is the ‘third Monday in January’ – I wonder if that’s how it read on his driver’s license. This federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986, but Arizona didn’t recognize the holiday until 1992 when the NFL boycotted the state’s Super Bowl. New Hampshire was the last state to adopt the holiday in 1999. Three states, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, today, celebrate both MLK’s and Robert E. Lee’s birthday on that third Monday in January – apparently hoping that the ‘south will rise again’.  But the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., at 18%, the Latinos, have no national holiday. Yes, there’s Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated where there are heavy Hispanic populations, but that commemorates a short-lived victory of Mexico over France. I guess Taco Tuesday is going to have to do until we celebrate a birthday of someone like Cesar Chavez – his birthday was March 31, but it can easily be changed to ‘the last Monday in March’.

It used to be that we’d celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on Feb 12th and Washington’s birthday on Feb 18th and if I’m not mistaken, back in the day we got both of those days off school if they fell during the week. Now they’ve combined them so that we have President’s Day on the third Monday in February. But it is not just to celebrate Lincoln and Washington birthdays, it is to celebrate ALL presidents. So next February don’t forget to wish Rutherford B. Hayes a happy birthday.

I hate to pick on another religious holiday, but have you ever wondered why the date for Easter keeps moving around? Well, exactly when we celebrate this highly religious holiday is based on the position of the sun along with the phases of the moon.  For the record, Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (approximately March 20-21 in the northern hemisphere), when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator – seems rather voodoo-like to me for such an august occasion.

Then there’s the ‘BBQ Holidays’, Memorial Day, when we break out the BBQ, Independence Day, when the BBQ works its hardest and Labor Day, after which we put the BBQ away. I think the meaning of these holidays gets diluted in all the BBQ sauce and the attendant adult beverages, so I’m suggesting that these holidays be moved away from summer.

Oh yeah, there is another holiday in these last 62 days of the year, Veterans Day; yep, that’s this week, but don’t feel bad if you didn’t remember it, most people don’t. This is only a holiday that celebrates the men and women who have defended the freedoms that give us the right to be such a diverse and dysfunctional country.

Go wild and crazy this week and celebrate by thanking a veteran for his/her service.

IT’S NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S KNITTING

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Warning: this post may contain some offensive photos.  In fact, this post DOES contain some offensive photos.

Kat Coyle, the Pussy Hat creator

I’ve been knitting since high school.  As I have recorded here before, the rhythmic motion of the needles and the creative act of designing has helped me keep what little sanity I have left.  So I was a bit dismayed when politics reared its ugly head in my favorite hobby.  Politics in knitting, you ask?  Yep – it started with the Women’s March in January 2017 when millions of women donned the pink “pussy hats” in protest.  Suddenly, the website Ravelry, which is the largest knitting website in the world with over 7 million members, began to attract younger subscribers so they could access the pattern for the hat.  In addition to providing patterns, reviews and general information on all things knitting, Ravelry has thousands of chat forums on any number of topics, everything from books to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  But naturally, there are also plenty of political forums, both right and left leaning.  Reading the posts on those forums is actually a good way to hear both sides of an issue, although some people seem to be grabbing facts from the unicorn universe – kind of like watching cable news.

A sample of the “new” knitting

Over the past several months young designers have taken the pussy hat project “resist” philosophy to new heights – or lows, depending on your viewpoint.  Suddenly,  on the front page of Ravelry where they show photos of the “Hot Right Now” projects there began to be projects that were a bit over the top.  The hat in this photo is representative of that (I’ve erased the X-rated part but you get the drift).  I usually don’t comment on them but I did read the feedback that Ravelry received from many outraged subscribers.  As anyone who has ever played golf with me knows, I am not immune from the “F” word, but I do realize there is a time and place.  After all, what is the point in wearing such a hat?  Sure, you might get high fives from those who agree with you but it also prevents people from assuming they could have a reasonable discussion with you.  After all, it exudes hate which I thought we were trying to stamp out.  I was dismayed by the thought of my “safe space” website being highjacked by political viewpoints so I contributed to the forum on the subject of X-rated projects.  Here’s what I wrote:

I am the president of a large knitting guild. We have members that are gay, straight, of different ethnic backgrounds, and are liberal and conservative. In other words – a large cross-section of people. We have decided that it is in everyone’s best interests to find what we have in common – what binds us and makes us connected – rather than what divides us. It is amazing how people who have radically different political and social views can come together and enjoy one another’s company by sharing the craft of knitting. By getting to know the person we foster relationships, not divisions based on political opinions. If you are going to continue to publish divisive/x-rated projects why don’t you at least find a way to “hide” those projects from the front page?

I thought that was a reasonable suggestion but it just goes to show how behind the times I am.  There were FIVE TIMES more people that disagreed with me than agreed.  I was shocked.  My post received lots of comments – most of them were nasty.  Very nasty.  The only good news is that over the next few weeks Ravelry did find a way for members to block anything they found offensive.  Personally, I’ve used it more to hide toilet paper covers than anything else.

Could make an interesting dishcloth

Still, the patterns continue.  This week, in an effort to “get out the vote”, the hat pattern (left) was posted.  So…why do I bring this up when the vast majority of you don’t knit?  Because I think that when we have injected politics into something as innocuous and soothing as knitting, we’re in trouble.  In commenting about their designs, the artists who publish these items express their outrage and frustration and allow no room for an opposing viewpoint.  The warfare that is our political system is infiltrating every nook and cranny.  At the risk of once again holding a minority viewpoint, I think we would all be better off if these designers and their followers spent their knitting time creating something for the homeless, the Vets, or anyone in need in their community.  Wearing a “F..K” Trump hat doesn’t help solve the problems we face, it only serves to further shut down productive discussion and debate.  But then what do I know?  I’m just a grandmother who knits.