Knit one, then knit another…

Nearly 40 years ago, I was watching television with my dad and getting a little agitated.

It had nothing to do with my dad, who clearly saw the source of my problem, even if I didn’t yet. “This is such a waste of time,” I moaned. “I feel like I should be doing something productive.”

My dad suggested doing something creative. “Like what??” I wailed. “I need to relax. I just don’t want to waste time while I’m winding down.”

His suggestion stayed with me, however, and somehow, I landed on knitting. I found a yarn store with an owner who would teach you to knit if you bought yarn and supplies from her, and my journey began.

I still have that first sweater, one of the few I made from acrylic yarn. After that I decided if I was going to spend the time knitting a project, it was going to be with quality yarn. The highest quality I could afford.

Over the years I’ve made some close friends through my knitting, many of them the owners of the yarn stores I frequent. Eventually I began to knit store samples — for store credit — to supplement my yarn budget.


My niece at nine months wearing that special sweater. She’s almost (gulp!) 18 now!

When my niece and nephew were little, I made them dozens of sweaters. In fact, I had just finished what turned out to be everyone’s favorite baby sweater when we learned my niece was on the way. I’d started that project months earlier because I thought it was special, knowing the right baby for it would come along someday.

I don’t typically make anything on spec, although I usually have a few things lying around for gifts. Last year, a young friend of mine moved from Little Rock to Appleton, Wisc., and obviously she was going to need a hat. I had the perfect toque for her, just calling her name.

Kim's Slippers CF blue

The slippers I designed for my mom — when one pair wears out, I make her another…and another…

My mom has so many hand knit pieces in her tiny apartment she doesn’t know what to do with all of them. That includes a half dozen pairs of slippers made from a pattern I designed and named for her. (You can purchase the pattern for Kim’s Slippers at Ravelry.com.)

The only drawback to all of us? Ironically, the creative endeavor I started so I’d be productive while watching television has resulted in me watching more TV than before. If I’m knitting — and I’m always working on something — that damn set is on.


Image Credits: (yarn background) © timonko — Fotolia; (red retro tv set) © dmstudio — Bigstock


I’ll Still Accept Gifts…

I wouldn’t want to win the lottery.

Managing all the money would be a burden, a task I’m not prepared to handle. Okay, one million dollars I might figure out. Even two. But start getting higher than that, and I’m out of my depth.

I expressed this thought once to a group of co-workers, and the response was immediate and forceful.

“Oh, I could figure out how to handle it!!”

“I have an uncle who works in a bank. He could help me.”

And there was the  woman who agreed with me, but for a slightly different reason. “I am totally the kind of person someone could take advantage of,” she said.

genieWinning the lottery is as realistic for me as getting three wishes from a genie, another gift I don’t think I would want to be burdened with in this lifetime. The tales of those who are granted those wishes always end badly, a moralistic story of greed and the perils of getting what you dream will make your life worth living.

After all, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

I find the greatest pleasure in those items I’ve saved toward buying and perhaps purchased at some sacrifice. Nothing foolish, mind you, but choosing what I really want at the cost of something else.

The day I buy my sofa, I will treasure it. No, I won’t keep it covered in plastic. But my futon, with its lumpy mattress, has served its purpose and then some, and I’ve wanted a new sofa for a very long time. Last year I came this close to getting one. The opportunity to move to a much nicer place came along, and that ate up all my savings.

A genie in a bottle is a nice thought, but that genie doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

My life doesn’t need a free ride to make it better.

Special thanks to my family, all of those who have helped me get back on my feet at a time when I couldn’t do it by myself. Your ongoing support means the world to me. I won the lottery when it came to family.


Image Credits: (Magic Bottle) © Bigstock; (Genie) © Fotolia


The Simple Truth

My high school French teacher challenged us one day to “write about why you believe — or don’t believe — in God.”

We were cautioned not to recite our church’s theological platform, but to give our own heartfelt reasons for our belief. All in French, of course.

Well, easier for me to translate a simple thought from the heart than any complex theological belief to French, so that part wasn’t difficult for me. And I would no doubt offend my French-speaking friends today if I tried to repeat what I wrote then, but here’s a short portion of it, in English:

“I believe in God because the sun rises and sets each day. The mountains speak loudly to me of his presence, the rivers and the valleys, more quietly…”

I struggled with that essay, because I wanted it to flow smoothly in French, and since my teacher was a native speaker, I think eventually it did. I regret I no longer have it.

My life, like most, has been a series of sunny days and stormy ones, of peaks and valleys, of mountains I couldn’t scale and oceans I couldn’t swim, along with unexpected and glorious triumphs. Perhaps small, but glorious nonetheless.

I’m grateful to Mr. Keplinger for giving us that assignment, for early on forcing us to think in two languages of our deepest-held beliefs, for whether he knew it or not, it formed a foundation for my faith over the years.

It’s simple, yes, and there are much more complex issues that crowd my mind every day. The details of my faith change year to year, but the core remains the same.

And part of the core is this:

I believe in God because the sun rises and sets every day.

Photo Credit :© Kotenko Oleksandr — Adobe Stock


Leap, or sit still

I sit these days, frozen, waiting for events to transpire before my next move. I’m plotting that move, knowing I have only partial control over how it will unfold.

I could get out there again and face the odds I faced before, with likely the same results. Nothing has changed that would make me think otherwise, which is why I’m waiting. In the meantime it seems my body is beginning to betray me.

Life happens while you’re making other plans. I’ve heard that one hundred times or more, and laughed and shook my head along with the others. Of course that’s true! Events conspire to re-direct our routes, or force us to remain on the same ones, all the time.

I haven’t figured out yet how to grab hold of the reigns of my life and take control. I feel as if there is some leap of faith I haven’t yet taken that I need to be willing to risk, just once, and things will change for me.

Yet I have no idea what that might be. Perhaps it isn’t anything bold that needs to be done. Rather, I may need to quietly listen to the clues around me.

Or maybe I already have the wisdom to do the right thing, and I’m following it by patiently waiting for the proper timing, preparing myself for the future and doing my best with the opportunities I have now.

Because life isn’t about having control, but you can be prepared.

Leap, or sit still. I’ll trust my heart will know what to do at the moment it must decide.

Photo Credit: © Ekaterina – AdobeStock


New Magic

A million thoughts — a thousand regrets — a dozen things I’d change today to bring back the magic. Do you ever think of me?

I dreamed of you the other night, and you were kind to me. I suppose I’m healing.

And moving on. I’m dreaming about someone else these days, but scared to let him know, to open the door to heartache.

A dozen ways to bring back the magic. Maybe not with you, no, I know, never with you.

New magic.

Image Credit: (Girl) Sophie Anderson (public domain); (Background, Light Rays and Light Dust) © Roman Dekan — Fotolia



I had a secret, and I didn’t tell, because I was afraid you would reject me.

That wasn’t fair. I should have given you a chance.

Today I know it wouldn’t matter, because I know your heart is bigger than my faults. I wish I had trusted that before.

I’m asking you to forgive me for my secret, and for keeping it from you. I’m afraid by waiting I may have created a sadness in you that will hang over us like a cloud.

But I don’t want to keep this a secret any longer.

Please forgive me.

Photo © Graphic Stock


Five Film Debuts Worth Watching

Most actors and actresses have a series of “lesser” films — or at least roles — before their breakout picture. Here are a few who stood out from the very first time on screen.

Click on the film’s title to see a full review on my classic film blog, Classic for a Reason.

Roman Holiday — Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck

As the beleaguered princess who escapes to find romance with a down-and-out reporter, Audrey Hepburn immediately captivated audiences and set herself up as the style icon she remained for the rest of her life. While plans for the opening credits initially had only Gregory Peck listed as the film’s star, it was at his insistence that producers added Hepburn. She went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress, and followed up this performance with another classic romance, Sabrina.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers — Kirk Douglas
Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas

He wasn’t new to acting, having made quite an impression on Broadway, but Kirk Douglas made his screen debut in this stellar film noir about childhood choices and their impact on the course of a life. He got the part when his friend Lauren Bacall recommended him to producer Hal Wallis, and held his own starring opposite Barbara Stanwyck, one of the top leading ladies of the time and an accomplished actress. This film also stars Van Heflin, and its offbeat nature, intriguing story line and moody cinematography make it a film all classic movie fans must see.

Captain Blood — Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn in Captain Blood

Errol Flynn

Studio executives took quite a chance casting a complete unknown in this major endeavor, but it paid off from the first moment Errol Flynn appears on screen as the dashing, insolent Captain Blood. He’s joined onscreen by the woman who became his most frequent co-star, the beautiful Olivia de Havilland, and while their romance is central to the plot, this is primarily an action and adventure film, one that set a standard for Flynn’s future films — a standard he surpassed.

To Have and Have Not — Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart

Only 19 at the time this film was made — and by her own admission, a naïve 19 — Lauren Bacall, with the help of director Howard Hawks and co-star Humphrey Bogart, makes a seismic impression with her sultry style and provocative lines. Three weeks into filming, Bogie and Bacall began their romance, one of Hollywood’s greatest pairings. But putting all that aside (not that you really can; the real-life intensity is part of what made the on-screen love story so compelling), this is a great movie about love and honor during the horror of war.

The Best Years of Our Lives — Harold Russell
Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Parrish

Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Russell

His only screen credit before this was from a military training film when William Wyler cast Harold Russell, who’d lost both arms up to his elbows during the war, as the veteran facing real-life prejudices and limitations due his injury. He won an Academy Award (Supporting Actor) for his work, make that two Academy Awards, the only time any actor has won two Oscars for the same performance. He only appeared in two other films after this one, in 1980 and 1987, but don’t let that make you think he was a lesser performer. He did a fine job showing both the highs and lows of his character’s return home. Didn’t hurt that he had such a stellar cast to support him in his work, along with a strong script, fantastic director…one of the greatest films of the era.


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