Monthly Archives: August 2014

Old Movie Theatre Fading Into Darkness …

The Island Theatre – Martha’s Vineyard



- by Joan -

Labor Day Weekend Pool Party!














Hope your weekend is as wild as ours!

The Two Kinds of Decay

This book is incredible. I tapped out a few generically awestruck tweets as I was reading it last night–the whole thing only takes a few hours, the short chapters come like shots–but I wanted to talk more about it.


It’s a memoir of the author’s twenties, of being struck, her sophomore year of college, by a rare neurological autoimmune disease.

The thing is, the author is a poet, and so her telling of those years is especially vivid, powerful, and scary. I don’t think I’ve ever read a better account of an illness (a grim accolade). I kept having to put the book down.

She writes about plasma apharesis, electromyography, having her central line put in (and taken out, and put in, and taken out. Thirty scars, in all, on her chest, she says, but she doesn’t mind them now). The good and bad nurses, one particular surgical tech, all the very many doctors. Addiction to tranquilizers and alcohol, her time spent, in a fussy circumlocution, “on the locked ward”. How corticosteroids aged her body, and how her illness made her mean. How it is, to navigate college and sex and friendships, as sick as she was. (We can’t escape learning that “college” means Harvard, that “grad school” means Iowa, to which I take a very dim view. But what kind of a snob would I be to hold that against someone?).

All of this, I read through the fact that one of my favorite poets was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and is undergoing treatment for it now. Of course poets get sick, of course. And of course they die; we all do, we all will.

But something I admire very much is how little she goes in for the great pain=great art equation. In fact:


And in the end (not to give away the ending):


Other reviewers have mentioned this–I think the jacket copy mentions this–but the difficulty of talking about illness without falling into cliche. She manages it.

I spent a lot of time today reading about vascular surgery: the history of the field, the most common procedures. I also went through and read her piece in The New Yorker about mental illness, and then one in Harper’s about motherhood, and liked them both.

And another, final ad hominem: from rudimentary poking-around (reading a few interviews), it looks like she studied classics in college. So of course I loved her book, and of course reviewers compare her to Anne Carson. That’s why she can tear apharesis apart into apo + haireo, away + take, to such beautiful poetic effect.

Knitted Orange Hat …


- by Joan -


Strawberry Plot

Two days ago fifty strawberry plants arrived ready for planting.  FIFTY. The only problem was…..I hadn’t finished the spot to plant them!

Luckily we had plenty of cinderblocks so I could put up a small retaining wall of sorts, and I dug up several bucket loads of composted manure and hay from the back field to fill in the with the dirt.


It’s not the best handiwork that an afternoon has ever accomplished, but all fifty plants are safely and happily in the ground, ready to overwinter for a June fruiting.


Paul is going to drive some stakes into the “wall” for support and to give me something to hold up the netting we need to hang to keep the birds out.


Now I can’t wait for next June!

Tagged: Farm, food, Garden

Nursing Top from Ottobre 2009

With my post-partum body changing so quickly, and the baby growing so quickly, I debated whether to sew anything for me for a while.  I started eyeing that red maternity/nursing top I made in the spring which was too big for me now.  I stared at it for weeks.  Then, a sewing buddy of mine offered to lend me a nursing top pattern she had in one of her older Ottobre magazines, and that was the clincher.  Chop-chop went the too-big nursing top!

I'm glad I decided to cut it up... I used up every bit of that tee, and finished off the rest of that thick red jersey fabric.  I didn't have enough for the inner panel, so I used a bit of this lovely stripe jersey I bought from a fabric store closing sale.  Glad I bought 2.5 m of it!  It's so soft!

Do I look maybe a bit tired in these pics? That would be because I am.  Hee hee. Somehow, the LD (little dude) started teething at 12 weeks and I've been coping with all that entails.  He's generally the sweetest little sweety, but when he's teething he turns into a puddle of moaning sadness.  It's heartbreaking and so I can't help but comfort him... at 2am... at 3am... at 3:30am.. etc...

So yeah, a bit tired, but it's getting better, and LD is learning to cope better.  I also have many more tricks up my sleeve now that it's been a few weeks!

Anyway, about the project:
PatternOttobre 2009, #6 "Loving" Nursing Top
Fabric: recycled red jersey from maternity/nursing tee made in May 2014
Modifications: shortened the sleeves 1", but I think I just need a smaller size on top
Recommendations: instructions for the innermost panel say to turn over the nursing edges and stitch, but I think this reduces the stretch of the fabric.  I'd overlock this edge instead.  I turned over the bottom edges and used a rolled hem foot... this is not a good application for it.  The jersey loves to roll, and it made for a curly half-lettuce bottom hem.

The pattern is a very straightforward 7 piece pattern (you cut the binding, elastic, etc. based on given measurements).  I made an EU size 40 using my full bust measurement.  Next time, I'll cut a 38 top, maybe even a 36 for the shoulders and sleeves, and keep the bottom 40.  It's easy to adjust since there's a separate waist section.  On me, though, this is more of a nursing tunic dress. I'll be making some adjustments, but I like the dress aspect of it.

The trickiest part of this pattern was the clear elastic!  My machine loves it to the point of squishing it all together and creating these teensy, tight gathers which I did not need for this particular pattern.  In the end, I found the solution to be paper!  Once I put the thin pattern paper between the foot and the elastic, everything went swimmingly... okay, not quite - that binding went a bit wonky, but I can live with it. 

This went so quickly after figuring out the best way to sew with clear elastic!

Overall, I'm happy with it - it's wearable, but the shoulders/neck are wide for me... it's tough to choose a size with such a variable bust measurement, but the jersey should be forgiving enough to allow me to make a smaller size top.  I will definitely make another!

Vineyard Map …


My dad bought this beautiful 21×28 map of the Vineyard for me in 1959.

This hand colored print was done in 1926 by  painter, illustrator and cartoonist, Lloyd Coe.  I love the details and bits of historical information.





I’ve never seen this map again in any stores on MV.  Wonder if anyone else reading this has one ?

White Boats …



- by Joan -

Handmade Round Cotton Washcloths

round natural cotton washcloth

I don’t crochet often–hardly at all in fact, but I do like a good handmade cotton washcloth. I find nothing more boring than knitting washcloths. I think they’re gorgeous and lovely to use, but I have a hard time bringing myself to knit them. Crochet on the other hand, is something that I am inexpert enough at that crocheting a few rounds of double crochet is a fun challenge when I need to change up my evening routine, and in about the time it takes to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, I have a washcloth

round cotton washcloths

I realize washcloths are traditionally square, or at least rectangular, but I spent a lot of time learning how to crochet in the round, and I like to do it. Also, a find a round washcloth works just as well as a square one – perhaps better.

crochet cotton washcloth with ribbon

I like that it folds up into little crochet pizza slices that look good in ribbon.

lavender soap and natural crochet washcloth

And they look good with the soap too.


btt button

Any books or authors you hate? Why? Is it the writing? The stories? The author’s personality? And—would you read their work anyway?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!