"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Windham Hill

a “yarn” . . .

Noro Yarn, "Cyochin"

Noro Yarn, “Cyochin”

Remember when the “New Age” was upon us? Around the time of the millenium or some years back before that? When did the new “Age of Aquarius” really begin anyhow (in the 1960’s and 70’s?)  And is it still going on? Some of my favorite CDs to play in the car are piano compositions recorded by Windham Hill, a label that epitomized new age music for me with work by composers like Liz Story, William Ackermann and Michael Jones. The music itself brings back memories of an easier time in the world, if not in my own at the time. Maybe that’s why I enjoy listening to it now: things are so much better in my life compared to then.

Outside, things feel bleak due to the frustratingly protracted political gridlock in Washington, D.C.; to the shock waves due to mass shootings, global spying, hacking, identity-theft, you name it: everyday it hits us on the news, in the newspapers and on the radio while driving around doing errands. The age we live in now is also pre-empted by an ever increasing social media frenzy whipped up by the press along with random ads that pop up everywhere you look on the internet: a dizzying melange of unasked-for opinions and cyberspace junk mail.

In quieter times past, I, for one, used to rely on “signs”, reading the Tarot spreads on occasion, writing down intentions, visualizing goals and so on. Lately, not so much.

Even so, I was thinking the other day about certain events that have occurred in our little world that have made a big difference, a turn of events outside of our own control. I recognized that almost everything important in my life has unfolded that way: moving down here for a new job over twenty years ago, and meeting my second husband (a piano tuner) because the movers didn’t put the lyre back on my Steinway properly.

You can call it synchronicity or serendipity. Or we could just acknowledge that the Universe, and God, have plans for us that we know nothing about until it is revealed to us. It almost makes me think that we should just live and let live, and mostly get out of our own way so that the Universe can do its thing more easily than having us try to fix things ourselves. Do you ever find that to be true in your life too?

I am writing about this nebulous topic today because of what happened to me this weekend. I had been unsuccessful in three attempts to order yarn online from WEBS, a yarn warehouse about an hour’s drive away from me in Northampton. The appearance of the three lots of yarn in my hands was very different in gauge, weight and color from what I had seen (or imagined) on my computer screen.

instead of mailing it back a third time, I got in the car and decided the only way that I might find yarn I wanted to make something for myself with, was to go and take a look in person.

I was right because there was only one yarn in the entire warehouse that drew me in, a gorgeous new Noro yarn.

yarn 5It was multi-colored and a swatch had been knitted up that hung beside the yarn on the shelves so that you could see what the colors looked like knitted up. I’ve worked with many multi-colored yarns before this, most of which surprised in a negative way, the colors not blending or looking right, which can result in omitting some colors and being surrounded by lots of little balls of various color lots to choose from when finishing a garment. I’ve been there lots of times, so I was glad to see the swatch that showed the beauty of how the colors played out together.

It was very expensive, but with the credit of the returned yarn, and a discount based on the dollar amount of the yarn, I could almost justify going for it. I thought maybe I could afford just six skeins and knit a vest with a kimono look. At the last minute, I asked for four additional skeins which brought the discount up to 25% off. With ten skeins of this unusually beautiful yarn tucked safely in my car, I found a parking place in town after a few tries and had a quick lunch at Osaka, my favorite Japanese restaurant. Over soft-shell crab tempura, I sketched out designs on index cards while I ate to see how the ten skeins of yarn could be used in an unconventional manner but didn’t come up with anything novel or exciting.

On the way home, as I was thirsty from the saltiness of my lunch, I decided to swing by Barnes and Noble to have an iced tea and look at their yarn books, not having found anything earlier in Northampton. The book section didn’t yield anything, but then, my eye fell on a magazine by Noro, the manufacturer of the yarn I had just bought with a patchwork sweater on the cover made out of the same exact colorway of the new Noro yarn that was sitting in my car.Yarn 2

The pattern was perfect: a loose-fitting tunic with dolman sleeves and interesting patches knitted in various cable designs on the asymmetric tunic front. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though I led myself (or was led) to look for and find the yarn in one place, and then find the pattern in a second, three hours later, a third of the state of Massachusetts apart.

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Oh, and that’s not even to mention that while I was browsing in one of my favorite stores called “Irrisistibles” in Hamp that has books and household whimseys, I saw a display of metal hanging placards, one of which said, “Everything Will Be All Right.” It was $30 and I thought, I can just print that out myself when I get home and put it on the fridge. It was definitely the right message for me at the right time. New age or not, that familiar twinge of recognition, seeing a message meant for me was unmistakeable. I was buoyed up by it on the way home having forgotten that maybe I wasn’t struggling along alone after all.

So, how “new age” is that for a day filled with coincidences? You’ve heard of the phrase, “there are no accidents,” right? Well, what I take away from this little yarn saga is that the Helpers are definitely out and about and that even when I don’t think I need help, their generous handiwork is very apparent. They must be laughing their heads off up there!

I hadn’t wanted to make the drive out to return the yarn, and when I did, the only yarn I liked appeared to be prohibitively expensive. With the credit and an additional discount, I unwittingly purchased ten skeins, the exact amount of yarn required by the pattern on the cover of Noro magazine to make an unusual patchwork tunic sweater.

Plus, the real gift of the day was coming across and being reassured by the comforting admonition that “everything will be all right.” If you believe it, maybe it will happen.


so far, so good. . .

so far, so good. . .

new things . . .


It’s so much fun learning about new things from friends and vice versa, isn’t it? The other day, L. and I took a ride in the middle of a Thursday to a family-run farm nearby, about a half hour drive to Concord, MA. It was so much fun to show L. the unmarked little secret place to buy organic eggs on the honor system (she took a photo of the entrance with her camera.) and then to go back for a cup of hot dark coffee, and homemade scones in a new flavor: pineapple and coconut. L.’s eyes got big as we munched on the delicious scone. Then she put more into a bag for her family to eat later. We stocked up on Vermont Hubbardston blue cheese which is a chevre with a smoky blue cheese flavor that is heavenly when allowed to come to room temperature and it’s slightly runny. I have been known to eat a whole (small) wheel in the evening while eschewing dessert! It’s BETTER  than dessert!

Today, she wrote to me that the eggs were “eggs-traordinary”, the cheese was delicious as were the homemade scones. We have both been enjoying apple-mixberry pies and other fresh vegetables we found at the farmstand: eggplant, kale, salad greens. Going to the farmstand together also allowed for time to discuss our new joint endeavor called, “musical notes outreach,” a program for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living residences and hospice. Our mission is simple as can be: “We want to make you happy by providing the sound of music.” Simple as that. L, because she has worked in the elder care community, knows activity directors in local venues as well as people in charge of palliative care in the neighborhood. Thanks to her efforts, we have two of our first bookings in December and are looking forward to introducing the program and seeing how people respond to it to see what they enjoy most. A menu of classical, Windham Hill and other songs will be offered.

When I played Bach’s Prelude in C major, both L. and I immediately agreed it would be a wonderful, simple piece to open each program. We might follow it by playing Charles Gounod’s “Ave Maria” overlay as a duet with the Bach Prelude. I’m thinking of playing the melody of the “Ave Maria” and then ask if they’d like to hum along while I play it again with the Bach Prelude accompanying it.  Our closing piece for each program will be “Devotion” by Liz Story. Along the way, there may be some Chopin Preludes, “Clair de Lune” by Debussy and some crowd pleasers like “You Raise Me Up” and some Windham Hill songs like “All For Us” that are simple and touching in their simplicity.

Here is a link to a wonderful Youtube clip by Bobby McFerrin singing the Bach Prelude with the audience singing the Gounod “Ave Maria” along with it. Just wonderful. I hope you’ll have time to play and enjoy it. Also included is a link to the song, “As For Us” which I’ve always loved, listening to it on a Windham Hill CD in the car. I couldn’t find the music score, but have jotted down the main progression of the piece by ear from the Youtube clip and am will include it in our programs.

So there is a lot of “new-ness” going on and it’s also a lot of fun. New friends, new music, new ways to play music. Stay tuned for how it goes in December with “musical notes!”