Monday, May 13, 2013

The Stans!

Today I get the pleasure of reading through KNITTING YARNS, the anthology of writers writing about knitting that I've edited. Contributors include Barbara Kingsolver, Anita Shreve, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Ann Patchett, Jane Smiley and more! I have to keep pinching myself to be sure this wonderful dream I had really is happening. In addition to these amazing essays, there are five original patterns in the book, all designed by Helen Bingham. Knitters and readers are going to just love this book as much as I do!

My other focus today is packing for my exciting trip to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan through the University of Iowa International Writing Program. Many of you will remember when Sam and I went to Uganda a few years ago and taught classes in theater (him) and creative writing (me). Although under a different auspices, this trip is similar in many ways. Although I've read what I could find on these two fascinating countries, there isn't a lot out there. So I expect every day to bring an adventure! The travel alone is about 27 hours, so I have downloaded lots of books on Audible to listen to while I knit my Mara shawls (pattern available on Mina's Alex Morrow trilogy, THE GOOD NURSE, and MIDNIGHT IN PEKING, among others. Of course I'm also taking some real books, including Kate Atkinson's LIFE AFTER LIFE, Meg Wolitzer's THE INTERESTINGS, and Tara Conklin's THE HOUSE GIRL. Plus many weeks' worth of New Yorkers, naturally.

I'm not sure what the internet situation will be, but when I have wifi I will post here, and on Facebook, so please check in if you want to share in my adventure!

As everyone knows, yesterday was Mother's Day, that beautiful but complicated celebration of moms. I remember the first Father's Day after my father died, which came just two months later when I was still numb with grief. It felt like those Happy Father's Day cards were assaulting me every time I walked into a drug store or supermarket. And then of course there was the first Mother's Day after Grace died, a mere three weeks later. That stands as one of the hardest days I've endured. Yet we should celebrate our parents (well, we should celebrate them EVERY day!), and as time passes I have found that these holidays can lend to reflection on those people we loved and lost--the memory of drinking beers with my dad and barbecuing together on those long ago Father's Days. The memory of Grace's handmade card with its I Love You Mommy in her careful script, her small hand in mine. How it hurts to remember! How it brings joy! Last night when I got in bed I found four dimes by my bed, a sign that we always think comes from Gracie. Maybe they are still near us, after all...

But to have my mom and mother in law with us yesterday for a Peruvian feast, and to wear the earrings Annabelle made me, and to see my phone light up with a call from Sam...we must always remind ourselves of what we do have, and hold on to it tight.