Monday, April 30, 2007

Scotland County

Last weekend we visited my beautiful hometown, Laurinburg, NC. Although my parents are natives of Myrtle Beach SC and live there again now, I have always considered Laurinburg, where we lived for fifteen years, as my real home.

David, Son, and I drove down to meet my father, who came up from SC to celebrate the inauguration of one of his former students as president of St. Andrews college.

Son was thrilled to be on the beautiful campus...



St. Andrews, in addition to being a real home to Scottish culture in America, has since its founding believed in both full access for students with disabilities and in an academic approach far more interdisciplinary than most universities provide. You can even minor in Bagpipes!

The inaugural ceremony began when the pipe band and the faculty and guests marched across the lake:







Son paused to greet his granddaddy in his cool academic robes:



Grandaddy liked Son's outfit, too:




In the evening, we went to an evening concert by the award-winning St. Andrews Pipe Band.





Although the concert was very loud, Son loved it. He even got to try out the instruments!








All in all, a lovely weekend.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Presents

I can't quite get over the amazing presents I was given for my birthday. My knitting pals gave me a gorgeous handknit linen washcloth and fancy soap, a beautiful handcrafted hang-in-your-window light-dispersing decoration (what ARE they called?), and lots of luscious yarn and spinning fiber. We also had a very festive yarn swap during our knitting group that night.

As I opened the car door to go to the group, this present from David was sitting on my seat:





Do you see that bottom one? I'm still just speechless. For days I've been trying to come up with something in human language to express what I'm feeling--but I can't. Shock. Awe. Confusion. Gratitude. More Confusion. (For you non-knitters out there, you can Amazon it to get some idea why I'm going through this particular range of emotions....)

When I told Jennifer about the present, she said, "Well, in case you haven't realized it, that guy loves you an awful lot...." Yup. And the feeling is mutual.

* * *


After my birthday on Tuesday, we paused in our celebrating for just a day before it was time to recognize Son's 8th birthday. He decided to go to the new pirate restaurant in Silver Spring--all decked out in costume:







We ended the evening with a special dessert:



David had found the perfect present for Son at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore near his work. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, he popped the trunk and Son found an "inventor's set" of completely random building junk. I think Son was about as excited as I was about my gift!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Diamond Fantasy Shawl

I love this shawl!







Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Celebrating



To help me celebrate my 40th birthday (today!), knitting pals Jennifer, Amy, and Martha took me to dinner last night at a wonderful restaurant in Alexandria VA. What a pleasure it was! I feel so blessed that the knitting world has given me such terrific friends--both those in real life like these ladies as well as all of you out there in blogland. Thank you so much.




Tonight I get to celebrate again with knitters at our regular knitting group at Savory in Takoma Park. I am hoping to wear a special knitted item currently being blocked. Pictures tomorrow.

And what an EXCELLENT thing to have happen on one's birthday: the book is up on Amazon now!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ideas for Earth Day (Sunday)

As we prepare for Earth Day, a festival recognizing nature’s bounty and our responsibility to protect it, our thoughts turn to how food can enrich our understanding of the day, enliven our observance, and stimulate us to action.


Start the day with an organic breakfast

Earth Day was begun to remind us that we can not continue to deplete and poison our environment. Organic farming offers us natural foods bursting with flavor and nutrition, grown without pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification, or artificial fertilizers.

Play in your garden

Earth Day is a great time for preparing the soil, cleaning your tools, building a mulch bin and beginning to plant your vegetable garden. If you don’t have a yard, consider planting an herb garden in a window box, preparing container gardens for your front steps, or making friends with a gardening neighbor.

Make an Earth Day centerpiece

Collect twigs, rocks, azalea boughs, moss, tulips and other spring flowers, and new leaves and create a natural centerpiece for your table.

Have a picnic lunch with locally-produced foods

With a quick trip to a local co-op or farmers’ market, you can pick up all the supplies you’ll need for an Earth Day picnic using produce grown locally. Buying local supports sustainable agriculture by members of our community, cuts down on fuel needlessly burned up transporting our food, and connects us with the seasons and our own environment.

Visit a local farm

Among the many ways to celebrate Earth Day, one of our favorites is visiting a farm. Call ahead and arrange to meet the farmers and take a walk in the fields and orchards. Take your picnic with you and consider buying a homemade pie for dessert.

Join Slow Food USA

We’re not the only ones who like to celebrate good food. As part of the international Slow Food movement, the mission of Slow Food USA is to support and celebrate the food traditions of North America. The non-profit organization values sustainability, cultural diversity, pleasure and quality in everyday eating experiences, inclusiveness, authenticity, and integrity.

Host a neighborhood Earth Day potluck

Earth Day helps us remember that we are all in this together. It’s a great time to get to know your neighbors. Ask everyone to bring their favorite ways of enjoying earth’s bounty. In the spirit of the day, try using reusable utensils, plates, and napkins rather than disposables.

Enrich your meal with a poem, reading, or song

Before, during, or after your celebratory dinner, invite guests to share poems, environmental readings, and earth-themed songs with your family and friends. Many cultures have rich meal-time traditions; explore your own culture or learn a new one. We’re thinking of incorporating some Jewish Tu B’Shevat rituals into our Earth Day celebration. Also consider using these discussion starters.

Enjoy Fair Trade chocolate and coffee for dessert

The Fair Trade label allows consumers to purchase items produced where workers labor in safe conditions, are paid fair wages, and producers have committed to sustainable practices that are mindful of the environment. What a sweet way to end your Earth Day celebration.



May this Earth Day renew our commitment to building a sustainable world, strengthening our communities, and nurturing our families.



* * *



A True Earth Day Feast

(Put together by Son)


“They began with rich brown loam that looked almost exactly like chocolate…. When the rich loam had taken the edge of their hunger, the trees turned to an earth of the kind you see in Somerset, which is almost pink. They said it was lighter and sweeter. At the cheese stage they had a chalky soil, and then went on to delicate confections of the finest gravel powdered with choice silver sand. …For the most part they quenched their thirst with deep drafts of mingled dew and rain flavored with forest flowers and the airy taste of the thinnest clouds.”

from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis



If you would like to have your own Earth Day Feast and you don’t eat dirt as the trees do, try this recipe. This dish is made with many ingredients that grow in the earth. It’s a wonderful meal and I hope you enjoy it!

Earth Day Earth Stew

(Senegalese Mafé)

2 large onions

2 sweet potatoes

4 turnips

4 medium potatoes

2 large carrots

½ small cabbage

2 large tomatoes

1 bunch fresh leafy greens

2 chili peppers or 1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups tomato sauce

¾ cups peanut butter

Finely chop onions. Chop sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes into bite size chunks and coarsely shred the cabbage and greens. Brown onions in four tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet or stew pot. Add the vegetables one at a time, sautéing each for about a minute before adding the next.

Stir in tomato sauce along with a cup of water, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Spoon out about a half cup of hot broth and mix it with the peanut butter to make a smooth paste. Add peanut butter paste to the pot and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stepping Out

Step It Up 2007 is the brainchild of Bill McKibben, a wonderful author and environmentalist whose books make me think and inspire me to change our world.

His group spearheaded the National Day of Climate of Action on Saturday. Tens of thousands of Americans gathered across the country in the largest-ever demonstration against global warming. Over thirteen hundred rallies, demonstrations and actions were held in all fifty states to call on Congress to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.



Check out Grist's report on some of the amazing rallies!

We thought about going to the big rally at the nation's capitol but decided instead to intend our local march. On a day that threatened rain but managed to stay sunny, the Takoma Park/Silver Spring action began with an inspiring performance by the always-inspiring duo Emma's Revolution!



After they finished a couple of songs, they headed to the Capitol and we began to prepare for a three mile march through the streets of Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

We were joined by a giant puppet and the puppet maker on stilts (who looks amazingly like shawl designer Sivia Harding):





and by the Rhythm Workers Union:



We followed many colorful and powerful banners:





One child wanted to give the world a hand:



The march route took us by a park with ancient trees that activists fought to keep alive, an eco-friendly co-housing village, Walter Reed, and two urban gardens.



The joyful celebration of the earth ended with a drumming circle...



...while some of the children made the trees their companions for the afternoon:

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