September 30, 2003
Let there be light

Eleven days later, power was restored. Amen. Never thought I'd be so happy to do laundry. But let's have a look back at Day One, shall we?

This tree fell at 3 p.m. on Sept. 18, five hours before Isabel's full force would reach us. As that's when our power outtage began, I think this oak had something to do with it. The house was immediately condemned, pending inspection; later that Friday we watched a crane lift it out (but I'd left my camera at home, just around the corner). The force of the storm downed two adjacent trees as well.

So that was one side of my block. (All photos were taken within a block of our house, where only a downspout blew off and one crape myrtle branch broke.) We walked around to the other and saw this, and this, and this little guy who appears to be wondering what the H' happened to his house:

The avenue's oaks were ready to tumble -- a look at their exposed roots and trunks revealed many were diseased. The remarkable thing is that of the dozen down, none hit a building there, and we only saw three crushed cars.

Over on the other side of the river, my coworker had one fall on her century-old Victorian, to the tune of ~$80,000 damage. By the time I got there the tree was so dried as to make for uninteresting photography, but I did shoot what Bev considered her little unscathed miracle.

[Can you believe that crushed malt liquor bottle? OK, it was about three blocks away. When we returned from our walk and I was reviewing the pix in my camera, turned out I'd moved before the digital had done its thing, and I didn't have the shot. So I jogged back to find it, dodging trunks and gawkers, and was despondent from a distance when its colors were no longer apparent. I thought someone must've taken it for a souvenir. Luckily, it had only blown over, so I did reposition it, but barely.] #

posted by Maggi at 9/30/2003 12:40:00 PM

September 29, 2003
Enough already

OK, I'm not complaining, but could we have electricity again, please? I have so many pictures to post, but I need my home computer to download them. They're saying I'll have it by tomorrow night at 11. By the time I show my 9/19 shots of downed oaks, not only will they be dried to a brown crisp, they'll be chipped and hauled away. The fallen corpses that remain do dismay -- I had no idea that huge trees would dry up so quickly.

Turned the heel in sock class and I'm ready to begin toe decreases, I discovered last night after trying it on. It's just like when I knit Fuzzy Feet to Theresa's guidelines: you follow the instructions even if they go against your back&forth instincts. I'll be glad to get some hands-on help with Kitchener this week, though, because I've never quite got it right.

I anticipate second-sock syndrome already, because this pair is for me, and I have much gift knitting to attend to before Christmas. I now have two scarves-in-progress in addition to the wave/shell, and have done about 3.5 inches of the man sock -- of which there will need to be two, if that pair's a present.

Sending my mice off to Wendy today. Another photo I'm not even taking since I've got a backlog to publish already. The lack of power did prompt me to knit one more while Caroline napped on Saturday (after all, I couldn't read blogs). And what an amazing Mouseathon! I'm sure she'll cross the thousand-mouse mark with today's mail. #

posted by Maggi at 9/29/2003 01:24:00 PM

September 25, 2003
Lost in Transit

This e-mail arrived shortly after yesterday's post -- I didn't actually see it, but was informed of its news by my fellow 50-Foot-Reeler (and brother). He told me as well of a second email that followed two minutes later, saying the films couldn't be found. So the premiere of JUMP! has been postponed. I sure hope tonight's sock class isn't.

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: James
Sent: Sep 24, 2003 5:43 PM
To: 50-Ft. Reels V@unspecified-domain
Subject: tonight's show

I hate to tell you this, but I can't wait any longer.

Pac Lab shipped your films last Friday and they should've arrived yesterday, but they haven't. I've been on the phone non-stop with Airborne Express since yesterday and they've not located the package yet.

It arrived in Roanoke on Monday and was scanned as leaving there, but it hasn't turned up since. Of course, it doesn't help that Airborne's Richmond facility was without power until yesterday.

So what does this mean? I've got them looking for it and they've agreed to courier the package to me by 8pm if they locate it.

I'm going ahead with a show tonight with or without the films. If your films don't show up in time, I'll do a free Flicker Best of/grab bag show.

So how 'bout up tonight and be surprised. If your films aren't here you can have a beer and enjoy the substitute show and we'll decide when to reschedule.

Sorry for the short notice but I was confident it was just sitting over there waiting to be scanned.

See you there?

The Richmond Moving Image Co-op, home of Flicker and the James River Film Festival, is a nonprofit organization that supports independent media arts in Virginia. For more info contact: RMIC, P.O. Box 7469, Richmond, VA 23221, (804) 355-1383,


posted by Maggi at 9/25/2003 10:55:00 AM

September 24, 2003
Still No Juice

After six days, I'm ready for the return of electricity. Driving past the well-lit houses on one side of the block and finding mine still dark caused major disappointment last night when I went to feed the cat. At least he was happy to see me. All we can do is wait; the power company isn't offering any estimate, and I figure they, and their contractors from across the region, are working as fast as they can.

Meanwhile, I sure hope I haven't jinxed my friend Pioneer Melissa, who's fridge gave up the ghost today. Mine sits relatively empty after I carried three bags to the trash cans Sunday. A few containers remain -- salsa, peanut butter, salad dressings -- that I was unsure about, and hard cheeses that I read could weather a break from the chill. We'll see. Today's local newspaper kindly offered an article about ridding the refrigerator of odors, and I concede that the thing is due a good cleaning. But I need some light to see what I'm doing!

In knitting news, I completed a scarf the first night, during the hurricane. Just need to block it. And I've almost finished the piccolo poncho -- just need to add the fringe. I did find I had to leave a bigger neck opening by not seaming it all the way, since my 2/3-gauge variation on Melville's Jen's Poncho seriously reduced the proportions. Caroline reluctantly tried it on, pinned, and the way I seamed was a best guess; still need to have one more fitting. I think it will be pretty darn cute, but you can judge for yourself when I have the power to post a photo again.

When the sock class was postponed last week, I was at the heel-turning point, so that one's languishing. Meanwhile I started one more, in the finer wool/cotton/nylon yarn, casting on 76 stitches on US2s for one of the big men's feet in my family. I started another scarf, too. What else can you do when the wee one is napping and there's no ring-surfing to be had?

Tonight we have something to do: Attack of the 50-Ft. Reels! (See this entry for details.) James has put my little film first in the line-up of 20, and I am now starting to feel nervous with the screening just three hours away. I did ask to be in the first half, since Caroline is going, too, but not the opener! #

posted by Maggi at 9/24/2003 05:04:00 PM

September 20, 2003
We're OK

Just a quick note to say we've come through the hurricane unscathed, but are still without power at our house. I'll have a fully illustrated report when I can download pix there from my camera. Meanwhile, I'm getting a completely unfamiliar Blogger template here to work with, so I'll sign out and head off to the Que Pasa? Latin festival! #

posted by Maggi at 9/20/2003 04:14:00 PM

September 17, 2003

When Isabel started heading this way, I thought of this poem by American poet Dave Smith. When it comes right down to it, he's the reason I moved to Virginia. These days he teaches at Johns Hopkins. I'm honored that we've remained friends these 15 years since we met, held onto that in the 12 since he left Virginia for a decade in Baton Rouge co-editing The Southern Review. If you want to hear him read his poems (but, alas, not this one) go here.

This poem appears in his latest, which you may have seen on my reading list: The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000. It originally was published in The Roundhouse Voices, his 1985 selected & new volume.

A number of bloggers, no doubt, lie in the storm's potential path. Many folks I love do. Here's hoping they weather it without incident.

An Antipastoral Memory of One Summer

by Dave Smith

It is written that a single hurricane holds the power
to run our whole country for one year. Imagine
lights in Minnesota chicken coops, firebells
ringing every borough of New York, dock pumps
spewing the bilge from Louisiana shrimpers,
the pulse that sends a voice from San Francisco
to Nagasaki where a woman wakes, folds, and refolds
the American edition of news already forgotten.

Yet even in the dark silos of our countrymen who
practice graceful moves at the missile's panel
(that is like a piano with the amazing, unplayed
notes not even Beethoven could hear into fusion),
no one dreams how to harness the storm for good.
That is why I think of two people at a bulkhead,
an old woman desperately holding down the hem
of her flowered dress, holding a boy's small hand
where the waves they have come to see blossom

one after another, sluicing over their driven hair,
the salt sting so strong their eyes begin to swell,
until they fall back across the elegant Boulevard,
and even there the unexpected crescendos boom in
laces and strings of water radiant as new light.
The noise is unforgettable and deafening, the sea
keeps orchestrating, as if it means to address
all our preparations, the boarded windows, the dead

cars with their rain-blistered glass, the sidewalk
clotted now with seaweed like abandoned bodies.
That suddenly, then, the calm eye stalls on them,
a stillness like a lock with no key, a hand
hovering at a switch, waiting for music unheard,
and see -- the woman turns, drags the boy hard
past oaks older than them both, its leaves this fall
blinking like lights, trembling, limbs like spears,
two entering a powerless house to huddle, to pray
to the still God, though they call it hurricane.

posted by Maggi at 9/17/2003 07:13:00 AM

September 15, 2003

As if I don't have enough projects on the needles, yesterday I started a little poncho for the wee one. Pulled in again by a knit-along -- y'all are such enablers! I'm using the extremely basic pattern called "Jen's Poncho" from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch, which includes child sizing. The small size it offers is a 4-6, so when, with my four strands of Nevada Misty, my gauge was only about two-thirds of what the pattern called for, I decided that will probably be just dandy for my size-2 two-year-old. This is the same yarn I used, in two strands, for Amelia's Haiku sweater. Since I bought this yarn by the bag from, I may embellish the sweater with another yarn when it comes to the fringe; also I'm considering some stitching purpendicular to the garter rows. I'll have to experiment, but I've got Noro Silk Garden in mind, for some reason.

In knitting news, I finished my sock homework, and am ready for guidance in turning the heel -- or I may be so bold as to try it on my own.

In knitty news, Amy says the new issue's due tomorrow! #

posted by Maggi at 9/15/2003 02:04:00 PM

September 13, 2003

[ a somewhat belated entry in honor of Alison and her blue blog, celebrating their first anniversary ]

Today we enjoyed a lot of fine bluegrass music outdoors despite spotty weather; throwing the raingear on and off was no big deal, and we felt as much sun as shower. Caroline, whose default color to remark is blue, noted that all of our jackets and the chairs we sat in were, in fact, blue. So it came as no surprise what flavor sno-cone she chose, and what color, correspondingly, it turned her tongue.

I was happy that the afternoon also allowed some time to work on my first sock (not counting Fuzzy Feet), begun Thursday night at the class at my LYS. I found an excellent group of women when I arrived there, and a fine teacher named Ute who put us right to work. Our pattern allows for different weights of yarn, so we started with 64, 48 or 40 stitches. I went with the latter, based on my gauge, knitted five inches, then last night determined the sock would be too skinny, so I started over with smaller needles (US4s) and the 48. I'm back where I was, and forging on. We have to be ready to turn the heel when we return this week.

The yarn is handpainted washable merino from WillowWood Pond, in a color called Santa Fe. I bought it via eBay, but it's available from her site, and was reviewed earlier in the summer by Knitter's Review. I am having big fun, using Pony Pearls now that I switched down from the Brittanys, and had no idea that the needles would be color-coordinated with the yarn! #

posted by Maggi at 9/13/2003 10:48:00 PM

September 11, 2003
Two Years Ago

As I walked from my parking lot to my office this morning, the tower bells of Second Presbyterian Church chimed in commemoration of the 2001 tragedy. I thought of how I'd flown home from Atlanta on September 10 (I hadn't yet returned to knitting, so needles weren't the controversial issue they became a week later when planes flew again), without a concern, following a fun wedding weekend and visits with friends and family. Two days later I sat in the sanctuary of that 1845 church, gathered with others who worked in the neighborhood and reeled from the shock of the terrorist attacks.

Half a world away, my daughter, then four months old, waited; I was six months into my official wait to be matched with her, and in Atlanta had dined with six other families who shared my timetable. For us, the attacks created the additional concern that we'd be kept from our daughters (and, as it turned out, one son). Thankfully, our unions weren't even delayed, and by summer 2002, Ashley, Jayme, Joshua, Kyra, Lily, Zoe and my Caroline had each come home -- giving new (or changed) families another reason to fear the world's evils. And giving us such joys to celebrate that the evils seem surmountable, or distant, or impossible.

Of course, that's not reality, and certainly today, and all days, those families whose lives were forever changed on September 11, 2001, know firsthand that evil is possible.

My life was changed forever on June 2, 2002, when 15 pounds of Hunan honey was placed into my waiting arms. To steal a line from Rose Lewis, author of I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, I had been waiting for her my whole life. So even as this anniversary brings pain to my heart, the knowledge that the littlest member of the Pamcare gang will welcome me with open arms this evening, perhaps with a creation such as this to share, lightens the somber day.

And speaking of the wonder of children in our lives, here you can see the twin daughters of my local knitting mentor Frances, who've just started college. (They're in the second photo from the top, Keenan and Scottie.) Caroline and her mama miss these sitters!

posted by Maggi at 9/11/2003 11:41:00 AM

September 10, 2003
Click the thumbnail for a closer look at the garter-stitch fabric of the recently completed Maori scarf. This was a quick 15 stitches on US 15s, but I find the results appealing, and hope someone else will, too (at the ART 180 auction in November). These "novelty" yarns often have so much going on in their composition that it's nearly redundant to knit them with a special stitch pattern to boot.

Last night I finished this gift-in-progress, but I'll wait to felt it with some other items. Unless you're Lizzi (who should stop reading now), click it, too. I used the Galway purse pattern with the same Cascade 220 used in my daypack (see both in my gallery). I have a different plan for the handles on this one, however. Because the i-cord straps on the daypack finished way too long for my liking, I finally bit the bullet and cut nine inches from each.* So I will use those for the handles, whick I'm thinking of attaching by threading them through grommets and knotting -- inspired by Pioneer Melissa's jump-rope Suki. I had actually purchased some green plastic handles I intended to try on this bag, but I'll save them for another, partly because I think they'd make for too much green. While the knitted closure will be green, I'm going to make a felted ball out of the same heather as the handles for its button. Stay tuned for FO pix, but probably not till post-holiday gifting.

*Following the painful cutting, I whip-stitched (with sewing thread) the two ends together, then wrapped some matching yarn over the "scar," knotting its ends and weaving them under the wrap. Then I hand-felted just that part of each strap, and the results are sufficiently unnoticeable. I was careful to choose a point on the strap that is pretty much hidden by my arms when it's worn. I couldn't bear to cut at either of the ends where the i-cord was knitted on. I may throw it in the washer for one round when the little bag gets fulled, in hopes of increasing the strength of the new join. #

posted by Maggi at 9/10/2003 11:57:00 AM

September 07, 2003
In the Can

Well, technically, it's still in the cartridge, but it's film, and it's all shot, and so I've made myself another little Super 8 movie for Flicker's annual Attack of the 50-Foot Reels. In 2000 (as you may know from reading my fewer than 100 things about me), my friend Elizabeth and I made Fishin' Blues (and Pinks), a three-minute, 20-second film that considers the significance of Melville's Moby-Dick to women of the 21st century. My latest effort, entitled JUMP!, features people and animals embodying that verb; while less ambitious, I hope it will be equally entertaining. But I won't see it until everyone else does, on the 24th, when I push the button on the CD player for the accompanying soundtrack, the Pointer Sisters' Jump (for my love).

Here (from Flicker's website) is how it works: Each year the first 25 people/filmmakers to accept the challenge (and pay a $25 fee) receive one 50-ft. roll of Super 8 film. That's 3 minutes and 20 seconds of screen time.
After shooting their movies, edited entirely in the camera, filmmakers return their exposed film to Flicker for processing. The filmmakers get to see their films for the first time on the night of the show along with the audience. This annual show always delivers surprises and lots of fun.

So, I shot the two credit panels last night, returned the camera to my brother (the professional filmmaker who's entering this for his third time) today, and will drop off the cartridge of exposed film tomorrow. How's that for a finished object?

I do knit on, but am only in the second repeat of the wave&shell. Tiny fiber=slow going, and you have to pay attention! I finished one more scarf for ART 180 -- garter stitched Gedifra Maori, a twinelike cotton with bits of nylon wrapped into it. And today I started the knitting for a felted bag that will be a Christmas gift.

On the horizon: sock class at the LYS! #

posted by Maggi at 9/07/2003 10:37:00 PM

September 02, 2003

We're back, well rested, and ready for the busy autumn ahead, thanks. I worked on four projects while relaxing in the beautiful hills of WV, most notably the beginning of the wave & shell scarf pictured here. (This is 14 rows of the 16-row pattern, just resting on the cable. Later I'll pin it out like Mme. Glitchbane does.)

I am not going to let it bother me that I am likely to be the last to complete this project among those who are knitting along, unless someone else chooses such a fine yarn. Nor will I be pressured by the holiday deadline, even though this item is intended as a gift -- I can always give it to my friend for Christmas 2004!

I mentioned in the pre-travel post my failure to retrieve images from the camera. Now it's behaved, so I have these before and after shots that suggest my progress on the three scarves I toted on vacation. It may not look like much, but I think my hosts would tell you that if I was awake, and wasn't eating, I was knitting. (There were, of course, a few adventures away from the house, where the knitting waited. And some serious naps.) I also finished the hat that matches the Cutie Patootie sweater. I'll try to photograph it on the head of its recipient; otherwise, the little cardigan has joined the finished-object gallery.

Nine were here for S&B tonight, but I forgot to take any pictures. I turned my first scarf over to Kim for the ART 180 fundraiser, while Beth, Leslie and Heather worked on scarves they'll also donate. As did I -- one more with two skeins of Gedifra Maori in garter stitch on 13s -- the green/turquoise/brown/white one in the pix. I was glad that Hettie was working on some curtains, since this is not an exclusively knitting gathering. I myself should have been hemming some pants, but I'd rather knit! #

posted by Maggi at 9/02/2003 10:47:00 PM

Colleen Messick

past stitches:

life and things I'm making of it

stitches in progress
nine-patch blanket

recycled fluted cardie

wave & shell scarf

Brotherman socks

finished knit stitches
1980s pullover
Caleb's set (K & crochet)
ladybug pillow
hooded sweater
Suki tote bag
Fuzzy Feet
three scarves
Voodoo wrist warmers
small Galway purse
Sequin/Lily scarf
one-cable shell
pseudo-Suki bag
Portofino scarf
Wendy's catnip mouse
felted daypack
Haiku sweater
toddler jumpsuit
Portrait lace scarf
Smooch tank
beaded/ribbed boucle' scarf
Cutie Patootie cardigan
Maori scarf
Jen's (Caroline's) Poncho
pair o'Fizz+ scarves
Santa Fe socks
Strawberry set for Baby Boyd
Magpie scarf
Tawa twins' booties
Sarah's cabled hat

completed quilt stitches
Bright Sampler
Kathryn's Pillow
Christmas Cabin
Wishes for Caroline
Marcher Wishes and More
Lizzi's Blues (& Matt's)

37 stitches about me

stitches back at me

the obligatory feline

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Lives in United States/Virginia/& Carolina, speaks English and Italian. My interests are stitching/poetry.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Virginia, & Carolina, English, Italian, stitching, poetry.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come.
--Chinese proverb