Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last Wooly Winter Post of the Season

Many are surprised at just how cold a Jordanian winter can be. I've known Canadians, Minnesotans, and northern Europeans who declare Jordanian winters to be the coldest they've experienced. It is not that temperatures drop so low--though we sometimes receive snow and frost in the higher altitudes. Rather, it is that many houses and buildings are inefficiently insulated and heating fuel is expensive. Until a couple weeks ago, the warmer (read: heated) rooms in our apartment registered about 60 degrees Fahrenheit/16 degrees Celsius on the thermometer.

Here is proof of just how cool our house is:

I took this picture yesterday. My "Christmas" amaryllis, which I potted back in November, bloomed this week. It is in our south-facing sun porch. I guess it thought it was still being stored in the refrigerator! I had all but given up on it, but I'm glad I didn't. Even the narcissus, planted outside, bloomed before it did.

Thus, wool is my close friend from December through March and my wool turtlenecks and sweaters have been on permanent rotation--even at night. I don't even consider cotton during these months. One thing that made the cold more bearable this winter was cashmere. I made a few scarves from recycled sweaters and I wore these daily--even in the house. Especially in the house.

I ruffled the edges by zig-zagging them while pulling the fabric taught.

By making some stripy scarves I could stretch one short sleeved magenta sweater into three scarves, one for me, one for my mom, and similar one for Tatya. She choose an infinity scarf.

Inspired by a Pinterest pin which led me to Molly at Finish Something Already, I made my first felted wool baby quilt, a gift for a baby girl scheduled to make her appearance next month. I learned some things making this first quilt and on my next one I'll work a little more on color placement. This quilt was made by butting the edges of the felted wool up against each other and zig-zagging, though I think I need to loosen up my stitches a bit next time. This quilt turned out "ruffly" but it was for a girl, so that is okay. Instead of adding the intended boarder, I zig-zagged/ruffled the edges (Thanks for the idea, Tayta) and in the end it looked like I had planned those ruffly seams. I chose my softer wools, mostly lambswool with some angora, for this quilt. I enjoyed making it a lot and hope to make more quilts in the future.

In fact, I've already started my next one. Once I saw Chris of Resweater's fabulous quilt, I knew I had to make one with my scraps. I (obsessively) cut out 550 hexagons over the course of week--it is a good hand activity when watching a dvd or listening to a lecture. I've begun sewing them together, using the same butting/zig-zag technique. I've finished about 1/5 of the quilt, adding a row or two each day.

As much fun as I am having with this quilt, I have decided that I will set it aside at the end of the month as I really need to get going on Artist Son's college quilt; we will be leaving for the summer at the end of May.

I finished cutting the 450 pieces (25 colors) from recycled 100% cotton men's shirts over a month ago. How satisfying it was to stack them all when I finished cutting!

I tossed the pieces all together for the first step in this quilt, which is random pairing. I don't do very good at random but I am trying and Tayta kept me honest when she saw me start to choose colors I though should go together.

Today my turtleneck is cotton, which is just as much a sign of spring as are the budding forsythia bushes and wild almond trees.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Preparing for Easter: The Gospel of Mark

In the weeks that led up to Easter last year, our family read and discussed the Gospel of Mark in our family devotions. Along with that I read Tim Keller's newly released (at that time) Kings's Cross, the Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, which was inspired by Keller's sermon series from the Gospel of Mark. My heart was so filled with encouragement and joy from reading the Gospel of Mark, along with King's Cross, that I decided to read them again this Easter season.

Mathematician, philosopher, and Christian apologist, Blaise Pascal wrote that Christians should “make good men wish that Christianity is true, and then show them that it is.” Tim Keller does this he writes about the actions and words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. Keller says of his book:

"It is an extended meditation on the historical Christian premise that Jesus's life, death, and resurrection form the central even of cosmic and human history as well as the central organizing principle of our lives. Said another way, the whole story of the word--and how we fit into it--is most clearly understood through a careful, direct look at the story of Jesus. My purpose here is to try to show, through his words and actions, how beautifully his life makes sense of ours." (p. x)"

A gifted apologist, Keller's writing encourages the heart of one who has already believed, prompting her to rejoice again and again in the GOOD news of Jesus Christ, who came to this earth to reveal the Father's love and accomplish all that was necessary that we might join him in enjoying the fellowship of the Father and the Holy Spirit. I don't read many books more than once (though I wish I did). Highly recommended.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Flowering Jordan Calendar~March

Wildflower spotting: Empty lot in suburban Amman

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Dead to Red 2012

It's the end of an era: As I type, Dear Husband and Artist Son are running their 7th Dead to Red race together, the last one before Artist Son heads off to college next fall. And what a wonderful era of father, son, and friends adventure it has been--which of course prompts a bit of reminiscing about our family's Dead to Red history.

Dear Husband and our boys ran their first Dead to Red ultra- marathon relay race, a 248 kilometer (150 miles) race beginning at the Dead Sea and ending at the Red Sea, in 2004, the first year the race was held. Artist Son was a mere nine years old, Active Son was eleven, and Dear Husband was, well, he was younger. As the years passed, the boys got faster and Dear Husband slowed down. I can't remember the year that the boys overtook him in training but I could tell he was glad for it to happen. He made it his goal to run the race until Artist Son graduated from high school.

If I remember correctly, not a lot of training and preparation went into that first race. It was just a lot of fun. The race t-shirts were the best ever with running skeletons, and our team's name was Dead Men Running : six adults, four youth, and the runners did their own driving.

Dead Men Running, 2004

Though the teams Dear Husband, Active Son, and Artist Son have run on have never had the same ten runners, our guys have run together on teams each year from 2004-2012 with the exception of last year, 2011. Dear Husband also missed a race in 2009 as he was traveling outside of the country at the time. Was that ever hard for him!

2004, Active Son and Artist Son thought it great fun to stay up all night, eating snacks, playing cards, and of course running 25K each.

As legend goes, in 2006, one of our team's faithful drivers, when driving through the security check as he left Aqaba with a van full of runners was asked who was in the van, to which he replied, "These are the Dashing Dudes." And so, in 2007 our team officially became the Dashing Dudes. Somewhere around 2005/2006 the adults were mostly replaced by youth who had grown into competitive young bucks. The training intensified and the Dashing Dudes and their accompanying strategy became a team to be reckoned with. I've written about those exciting races here.

This year, Artist Son wore the mantel of team captain, learning more of what it takes to organize, administrate, and motivate a team of runners. The Dashing Dudes put forth their most international team yet with runners from the Australia, Bolivia, Korea, Switzerland, and the United States.

And this year the Dashing Dudes have dedicated their run to their friend Tim, a young man who grew up in Jordan, recently joined the United States Marine Corp and was severely injured in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, losing both his lower legs. Tim's brother is a former Dashing Dude, and both his younger brothers were members of this year's team until they had to travel to the US to be by their brother's side. They are missed, as is their father, a Dashing Dudes driver.

One last time we experienced the Dashing Dude pre-race fever as the guys prepared for the race this morning, though I have to say that there was less heat without Active Son around to whip everyone up. Pasta salad, thermoses of hot tea, and the traditional race Monster Cookies were packed in the van and Dear Husband and Artist Son departed Mafraq to meet up with their team in Amman before heading down to the race start, just past the Mujib bridge. Go Dashing Dudes!

edit~I just spoke with Dear Husband and the Dashing Dudes are in 6th or 7th place (out of 40-50 teams) and have just about reached the halfway part. Now it is cold and dark for long time.

edit~Active Son informs me that Dear Husband came up with the Dashing Dudes team name but that our driver did use it at the checkpoint and was waved through.