Thursday, March 29, 2007

A New President for Davidson

Halfway through my nascent post on Davidson College’s new president, I accidentally closed the web browser window and lost all that I had written. I’m taking that as a strong encouragement to write my posts in Word, save them, and then post them. Hopefully that will lower the risk of anger, frustration, and general angst at losing what I’ve written.
Suffice it to say that Davidson announced its 17th president today: Thomas W. Ross. He isn’t quite what my friends and I had hoped for (a woman president) or even expected (someone from outside the Davidson community), but looks to be an excellent president. As a graduate of Davidson and a trustee, he clearly understands the Davidson community and knows its values. Overall, I was favourably impressed by his speech. The head of the presidential search committee emphasized his faith and his humility, two qualities that are vital to any leader.
I look forward to seeing how Dr. Ross interacts with students in the months to come. Bobby Vagt enjoys great popularity among the students; it will be fascinating to see how well Dr. Ross assimilates himself.

See Also:
Official Bio
Press Release

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

La Negritude

The French class I am currently taking is L’experience noir en la littérature de la Caraïb et l’Afrique, or The Black Experience in Caribbean and African literature. Normally I would have taken French Romantic Poetry, or Women Writers of Medieval France, or even Modern France and Advertising. However, none of those classes or anything similar was available this semester. I knew taking a semester off would probably result in a degeneration of my French knowledge, so I reluctantly signed up for L’experience noir.
Aside from some difficulty earlier in the poetry analysis (who knew scansion was triply difficult in French?), the class has done a wonderful job exposing me to writers that I’ve never encountered in English or in French. Currently the topic is the movement “La Negritude,” which was a French literary and social movement inspired by the American Harlem Renaissance. The writings of Damas—short, powerful, staccato poems—and of Césaire—violent and rebellious exhortations—are fascinating. Even though I personally cannot join these men in proclaiming my strength and pride in my African or Caribbean ethnicity (my WASP status is fairly concrete), it’s stirring and emotional to just read their words. The call to arms for human rights after centuries of oppression applies to many peoples throughout history and not only to one particular place or time.

mais l’œvre de l’homme vient seulement de commencer

et aucune race ne possède le monopole de la beauté, de l’intelligence, de la force

[but the work of man has just begun

and no race possesses a monopoly on beauty, on intelligence, on strength]

from Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal

Sunday, March 25, 2007

And voila...

At last--photos on the blog! I have acquired a digital camera and will be adding photos to my posts. Now I can show the progress on the epic blanket and also add excitement for other discussions.
I took the above photo last weekend at Lake Norman. The tree had a wonderful, other-worldly quality to it.

On to the knitting:

Here is the massive yarn box for Hunter's blanket:

And here is the blanket so far:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Coming soon...

There will be exciting changes in this stay tuned. I'm psyched about the new developments.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Update on the blanket

After only starting the project on Friday night, the first block of the MLCB [Moderne Log Cabin Blanket] is done. I bound it off yesterday and picked up stitches on the right hand side for the next section. Since I cast on 76 stitches and knit 66 garter ridges...that's a lot of knitting for a weekend!
My picked-up stitches always seem to come out a little wonky. Even when I knit the stitch right after picking it up, and tugging the stitch so it's smaller, it still ends up looking weird. I like the wrong-side better--the little v's lined up look more uniform.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jesus Camp

Last night I saw the documentary Jesus Camp with a group of friends.

It was fairly disturbing and raised a lot of questions. The film is about a Pentecostal Evangelical children’s camp in North Dakota.

After we watched the film, we talked about the issues that the film raised, doing our best to not bash the leaders of the camp or anyone else in the film. Rather, we wanted to critique what was horrifying about the film and commend what was good.
One of the most interesting topics was the difference between teaching and indoctrination. If these children are being brain-washed into believing certain statements by a persuasive speaker who plays on their emotions, then how can they have true belief? If they are sheltered their entire lives in a highly insular environment where opposite beliefs are scoffed and disregarded out without any consideration, how can they stand up for what they believe in when challenged? For example, one of the moms who homeschooled her son Levi claimed that “science never proved anything” and said that global warming was a myth.

Nevertheless, the most troubling aspect of the film was the part when the leaders of the camp told the children to “stop being hypocrites” and “clean up their act” and then come to Jesus. There was no mention of salvation by grace or of God’s mercy. Rather, the camp was about training militant and coerced children to take over the country.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It's epic...

Yesterday I commenced a new project: a blanket for my friend Hunter's birthday.

Like most gifts that I knit, the project was chosen with his input. I'm basically following the pattern for the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket in Mason-Dixon Knitting. The yarn we chose is Caron Simply Soft in tan (3 skeins), navy blue (4), forest green (4), and black (4).

I love all-garter stitch projects for movie viewing and nighttime knitting, so this project will be great. Also, Hunter's birthday isn't until October, so I have plenty of time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My heels can't touch the ground...

After yesterday's critique of "the zen of knitting," I tried something that is supposed to be genuinely centering: yoga.

I'd always wanted to try yoga but found classes prohibitively expensive and was loathe to teach myself from a book, for fear that I would do it wrong. When I found out that the community center was offering free classes this month, I knew that this was my chance to find out what it was really like.

Overall, it was quite nice, though challenging. I've never been flexible but I tried to follow directions. It wasn't as relaxing as one might hope, but that will probably come with practice.

It did occur to me that knitting was much, much easier than most of what we had to do during class. However, I plan to keep trying it and see if I improve. I did like the emphasis on posture.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Zen of Knitting

If I were to read the title of this post somewhere on the web or in a magazine article, my eyes would probably roll to the back of my skull as I shook my lace chart in the author's face, crying, "Does this look relaxing to you?!"

The trend toward comparing knitting to yoga, or meditation, or touting knitting as a form of self-help or therapy, always seemed to be fairly ridiculous. Perhaps if someone who was familiar with the craft decided to make something simple--a garter stitch scarf in a plain yarn--then that experience would indeed be easy and relaxing and "centering." But I've always failed to understand how painstakingly following a lace chart, discovering a mistake five rows back, and ripping out hours of work helped one achieve inner peace.

At the same time, knitting helps keep me sane. Long car rides without knitting or movies without knitting make me squirm. If my purse doesn't have a knitting project in it, then I'm prone to grumpiness when situations require waiting. And conversely, knitting during those in-between times reminds me of the joys of handicraft. Standing at the airport, knitting socks while waiting for someone to arrive--I'll remember that whenever I wear those socks. If it's in a doctor's office and all the appointments are pushed back, then I can be productive and avoid the decaying issues of Time from 2004.

Even though I will laugh at those who embrace knitting as the new yoga, or because it is trendy, or because some actress took it up, I can appreciate the attractions of something as simple as two needles and yarn. It can be as complicated or as simple as I desire, and that is beautiful.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New knitting projects

Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits is full of clever sweaters.

Top of my list to knit:

but in blue,
and this:

but in some other colour..maybe black.


[picture from Interweave Knits; this is not me or my shawl!]

I wish I had a digital camera to show a picture of the shawl I finished on Thursday--it blocked overnight and then was ready yesterday morning.
Because I lack the camera to document the finishing, here are the specs:

Icarus Shawl

Colour: greenish teal
Started: July 2006
Finished: March 8, 2007
Pattern source: IK Summer 2006
Yarn: Skacel laceweight wool (about 1300 yards a skein!)
Notes: This shawl took forever to knit because I took very long breaks. The first part, the long stockinette and yarnovers section, was pretty boring. Towards the end I never wanted to knit a shawl again. After it was blocked I started thinking about what colour I would knit the pattern in next time...another example of how quickly the mind forgets tedium.

Yesterday I started a new project, a gypsy shawl made from my sock yarn scraps. It's simple enough for with-movies knitting but the colour changes make it interesting enough to hold my attention otherwise.

Prose poetry

When I was in elementary school, the emphasis on poetry was that it ought to follow certain guidelines, contain rhythm, contain rhyme, contain meter and alliteration and metaphor.
In high school, the emphasis changed to "anything goes," but poetry still had a certain look--like broken up lines. It never stayed in tidy paragraphs like prose.

Recently in my French Literature class, we began to discuss poetry. At the beginning of our text were two poems, one a classical French sonnet and one a prose poem. I was skeptical. Prose and poetry never overlapped in my mind. They were two separate entities that did not meet.

However, reading the selection revealed poetic elements: alliteration, metaphor, and a sort of rhyme. Against my prior inclinations, I had to admit that this paragraph was poetry.

La maladie que j’ai me condamne à l’immobilité absolue au lit. Quand mon ennui prend des proportions excessives et qui vont me déséquilibrer si l’on n’intervient pas, voici ce que je fais :
J’écrase mon crâne et l’étale devant moi aussi loin que possible et quand c’est bien plat, je sors ma cavalerie. Les sabots tapent clair sur ce sol ferme et jaunâtre. Les escadrons prennent immédiatement le trot, et ça piaffe, et ça rue. Et ce bruit, ce rythme net et multiple, cette ardeur qui respire le combat et la victoire, enchantent l’âme de celui qui est cloué au lit et ne peut faire un mouvement.
La Nuit remue , Henri Michaux. ]

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A poem for Spring-

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things,
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced, fold, fallow and plough,
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change;
Praise him.

--Gerald Manley Hopkins, 1918

[HT: ]

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Welcome to Marvelous Things

Welcome to my blog, Marvelous Things. This is my first blog and I'm delighted to finally join the blogosphere after reading many blogs over the past several years.

The inspiration for the title of my blog comes from Micah 7:15, one of my favourite Bible verses. The context of the quote is about the works of God as "marvelous things." I intend this blog to be unlimited in its scope and discussion--music, books, politics, current events, craft, etc. Therefore, the idea of writing on marvelous things was greatly appealing.

Feedback will be appreciated, so don't hesitate to email or send comments.