With no divided heart

Published on Friday June 1st, 2012

Dear Little Dipper,

It’s now a matter of days until we meet you. (The oddity of that statement still strikes me just as strongly as it did when I carried your sister, both as regards the peculiar slippage of time when one awaits a new baby and in the queerness of anticipating a first meeting with someone who already shares my blood, my food, and my innermost space.) I have not come this far without trepidation and doubt. Am I ready to commit my body to the all-consuming effort of bringing you into the world? Can I be a good mother to two small people at once? Can I tend my relationship with Ada while developing one with you? You are shifting our family forever; I will rejoice in your presence and in our new dynamic… and I can’t say goodbye to the threesome we have been without a lump in my throat.

Your sister is just developing the imaginative capacity to see things as other than they appear. Eating a string cheese this morning, she prodded a strip of it on her plate and exclaimed, “Wom! Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.” (Then, with an enormous grin, she bit it in half, which I’m glad to say she hasn’t tried with an actual worm.) I believe the translation of Mama’s round belly to a tiny and demanding baby is still beyond her, though. Frankly, I’m not sure it isn’t a little beyond my far more experienced imagination. Who will you be? An astonishing live miniature person with punching, pedaling limbs, we certainly hope. An endlessly questing mouth. What qualities of your nature will you show us right away, and which will you reveal as you grow? Will you sleep for longer stretches than you seem to in the womb? (A mama can dream.)

This week you’ve dropped lower in my body, and having lowered my center of gravity, you’ve helped ground my mind as well. My first set of questions is the flighty set, heavy as they are. Those nervous wonderings won’t roost in content. Welcoming you is a thing I must do with no divided heart, to lift a line from Ivan Doig. So I choose curiosity and humor and incipient magic. I choose you and the family I have, all of us “gadda,” as Ada says — together — with a circling finger when we perch on tiny chairs around her little table in the kitchen for supper. Come when you will, little one.

And look, I have handknits for you:

Milk Infant Top by Brandy Fortune; matching cap improvised by your mama

These colors remind me of cinnamon toast and I expect they’ll be quite fetching on you. The hat will probably only fit for a week, and the jacket not a great deal longer, but I can’t wait to bundle you into them.

This quilt isn’t for you (more on that soon), but it’s ahead of yours in the queue because it’s for someone who already had a birthday, so if you’re waiting until everything I’m making for you is complete you might be stuck in there for several weeks more. I’ve discovered I can handstitch a quilt binding at a rate of about one yard per hour — that’s with good light and no interruptions — and there are seven yards remaining. I don’t expect you to tackle that kind of math for a few years yet, so I’ll interpret for you: your mother doesn’t lack vision or enthusiasm for this craft, but she’s by no means an adept. Then I’ll need another five or six hours to bind yours. But you’ve got a lovely quilt from Great-Aunt Jennifer just waiting to tide you over. It has birds on it. (Your sister thinks it’s hilarious to point at them and chortle, “Fried eggs!” but any object in the house is fair game for that treatment right now. The only thing funnier than fried eggs is purple eggs.)

I’m going to finish your Baby Surprise Jacket tonight. That’s how ready I am to meet you, smallest.


your mama

Contrary knits

Published on Sunday April 29th, 2012

It’s spring. The world is vivid green and brightly spangled with the million blooms the lusty gardeners of this town have coaxed from the earth. Pink cherry blossoms eddy in the streets and bank in pillowy drifts against the curbs — even a peep down a grate to the sewer offers an eyeful of candy floss. So how is it that I find my knitting consists of three brown sleeves?

For some reason I thought the remedy was to cast on a summer-weight vest for Ada. It’s grey. (At least it has no sleeves.)

Cinnamon Toast

Published on Saturday April 3rd, 2010

Wow, you guys love babies! We so appreciate all your congratulations — it’s remarkable to think that Minnow already has well-wishers from Australia to the Netherlands. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, y’all.

The queue of woolen garments to make for my little one wraps around the block, as you can imagine. But if all goes well, I’ll be bringing him or her home in the early or middle part of August. Just for fun, I looked up some recent August temperatures for Portland. Last year it was 95 degrees on 1 August. The year before that we hit 96 on 5 August. The 11th itself hasn’t been too bad recently: 82 degrees at most, so if the kid comes right on time we should be okay. But the 15th two years ago reached 100 degrees. In sum, wool probably won’t be the fiber of choice for a coming home outfit. So in an atypical move, I purchased some cotton-blend yarn: Kollage Luscious. I’m going to cast on Brandy Fortune’s Milk Infant Top and make some matching stripey pants or longies (we’ll see how the yarn holds out… it was on clearance so I won’t be getting more). I love the white and green of the original, but I only had two colors to choose from — luckily they go together and remind me of cinnamon toast.


(I need to try again at making the actual cinnamon toast. This uber-healthy bread we’ve got right now is too dense and I didn’t apply the prodigious amounts of butter that would have been necessary for really pleasing toast. Also I think the cinnamon toast of my childhood may have been made with cinnamon sugar, not just straight cinnamon.)

By rights I should be getting loads of knitting time during the many, many Holy Week services we have to sing, but alas, I’ve been moved back to the front row in full view of the congregation so I’m not allowed. Tonight alone I could have knit through three baptisms as well as the lengthy sermon. Well, maybe not the baptisms… we were still holding lit candles at that point. Turning the pages of my music without setting fire to them, the sleeves of my robe, or another soprano’s hair is challenging enough; knitting while holding a candle might really go beyond what’s possible. Instead I’ve had to amuse myself by choosing names for my child among the composers in the hymnal. How does Horatius Bonar strike you for a boy? No?

Anyway, now to bed. The first call for the choir tomorrow morning is at 7:30, and I might need to make another attempt at cinnamon toast beforehand so I can stay upright. Happy Easter if you celebrate it.

P.S. I think Minnow may be developing a fondness for the communion sherry during all these extra services.