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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reviewing by Indy Authors

I've received another Five Star review of my book, Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma. This is written by a fellow author, Philip Nork. Here's what he wrote:

Sept. 19, 2012

I just finished MultipleSclerosis, an Enigma by Terry Crawford Palardy and am sitting at my desk in a fog. This heart-felt memoir of a person diagnosed with MS and her battle to live a “normal” life has me re-thinking my own life.

The courage displayed, along with the confusion as to why, was portrayed brilliantly. As I read it, I felt like I was sitting with the author at a table or on a front porch, sharing a beverage, as she told me her story.

There were times I laughed and cried while in the pages of this book. It also took me back to the days when my grandparents were in the same situation … a different disease, but the same situations.

The author says, “Water doesn't try to choose a direction ... it just follows the water before it, rushing over the same rocks that were submerged in high water and exposed in drought last year, and ten years ago, and maybe fifty years ago. Nature is content to follow its established route. Only when man intervenes does the direction of the water have to change, finding and following new paths. Sometimes, the stream is strong enough to return to its own, natural path, to the dismay of those who had built in its original path.”

I take this to mean that nobody knows what is in store for them in this thing we call life. We can try to change the course of events by medicine or other things that the “professionals” prescribe, but the best things we can do is accept what fate delivers and deal with it in our own special way.

This book can help those diagnosed with diseases they don’t understand by letting them know they’re not alone. But at the same time, it can help those who are healthy by letting them into the “secret” life others may be in.

I am so glad I read this book.
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Do You Knit?

Cable, honeycomb, and tree of life stitches in green heather
I just watched a Google+ video on knitters. I was a knitter; I knit a lot of sweaters for my daughter as she was growing up, and sent her to college with a few patterned pull-overs in contrasting colors. I knit a true Irish sweater in deep heather green, with cables of many patterns (pictured here.)  And sometimes I knit sweaters that I wore to school: one was a dark blue with white Fair Isle patterns worked into the sleeves. One year I knit four sweaters with the same fair aisle patterned neckline: a burgundy with navy pullover for Rick; a white with lilac and mint pullover for Trish; a gray with navy and deep green cardigan for me, and a cardigan with pockets (very important for little boys) of navy, burgundy and deep green for Rob. I knit sweaters for my son when he was young. I had a pattern book that my sister Kay had given to me, and which I returned to her. Full books of patterns could be bought in the sixties for a few dollars, and contained cardigans, pull-overs and more in every size imaginable.
Rob, age 5 in an autumn colored Charlie Brown pullover

Most often these sweaters were knit as I sat by the woodstove in the evenings during school vacation weeks - lesson plans and correcting could be put aside then, and for many years, Rick was at work, and Christmas music would be playing on our record player (yes, the old kind where the 33 RPM could play one after the other as they slid down the spindle.) For most of those years, joining a knitters' circle was not an option, as there was always a child sleeping nearby ... Trish in the early years, and Rob later. But it was a peaceful part of my life - one that brought me and others many pleasant memories.

I loved shopping for yarn - sometimes at a bargain store, and later at a sheep farmer's pickup truck in the school parking lot. Much later, I treated myself to some soft, navy-blue Danish yarn bought at a yarn shop in Maine - and made myself some bagpipers knee socks from that yarn. I'd begun making sweaters (and socks, hats, and mittens) for my grandchildren by then. I was working full time, and earning enough that I could buy books of designer patterns (hence, the Hermione cap I made for my granddaughter one Christmas ... along with wizard socks for my grandson.) When I had loosely-wrapped skeins from the sheep farmer, Rick would sit patiently with me, hands wrapped in the skein, as I wound the balls for easy use. Later, Trish or Rob would help me, or if they were tucked in, I would use the arms of the old rocking chair by the stove.

Scandinavian socks I knit but took too long...
I even took the leap and dared to knit Scandinavian Socks - a pair in black, gray and deep burgundy for Trish, and in olive, darker green and red for Rob Here's a photo of Rob's, which he never wore, as I didn't finish them until he'd outgrown them (but I wonder whether he might have worn them  snowboarding, if they'd still fit!)

A few years ago, I gave away all of my unused wool and yarn remnants, as the tremors that have developed with age and multiple sclerosis have made knitting impossible. I continued teaching young knitters after school for a while, but then even had to give that up.I have half a dozen pair of infant and child mittens left in the shop, where I had begun knitting them for sale. They are posted on my web store as well:

My newer venture is now making quilts. I'll write more about that tomorrow.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This day is a day of remembrance, one that, like the day JFK was assassinated, we all remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and what we were doing at the moment we heard the news. On both days, I was in a classroom ... one when I was a freshman in high school, and the other as a teacher responsible for my students' emotional states.

Many of our students had been to New York City and knew of the Twin Towers height and status in the city. Some of them had relatives or friends of friends who were directly connected to someone who worked in the towers. Anxiety slowly began to build, but hysteria never occurred.

My own thoughts were distracted that day, as my dad was in a coma, and I wanted to get to the office after my first class to let the secretary know that if a phone call came in for me, I would need to be called on the intercom rather than notified through the more typical slip in my mailbox with a call back number. Her face was ashen when I walked into the office. Her son worked in the neighborhood of the towers, and she worried about his safety.

I had walked through the library to reach the office, and had notice several teachers and assistants clustered around the large television there... I hurried, as minutes between classes were few - I heard someone call my name, I kept walking quickly toward the office.

I spoke to the secretary for just a moment, letting her know of my dad's status and my need for a quick telephone relay if a call should come in... she nodded, distracted herself. I went back through the library and this time stopped, just in time to see the second plane hit the second tower. Those who had been watching from the beginning filled me in quickly, and most were certain that it was a terrorist attack - a very well organized, carefully planned and executed terrorist group.

I continued on back to my classroom, wondering whether the students' knew, where they would be, whether they'd been held in the earlier class or were moving on to the second period. Some had been in rooms with televisions ... others had been in classes with computers in use ... those who hadn't heard in a classroom heard instead in the corridors between classes, but all that I met in my third period class half an hour later knew. A few were not present, and classmates told me that they had gone home with parents. A quick call down to the office confirmed a few dismissals, and others were found gathering in rest rooms, and were brought back into classrooms. The entire school had a moment of silence, and the principal spoke of taking care of each other, and allowing conversations for a short time, and then encouraged teachers and students to return to the business at hand: academics.

Teachers and students have dealt with sadness and grieving together in many of the years of my teaching career. Teachers do pass away, as do custodians, cafeteria workers, and others in the building. One year, when a fellow teacher had fought cancer for most of the school year and passed away the following fall, several parents had come in to cover classes so that teachers might attend her funeral service. When I returned to my class a few  hours later, I thanked the parent who had been with my students - she hugged me and said that she didn't realize that we would all be returning to our classes, and admired our strength in being able to do so.

And that strength, and the compassion that our students had learned from their  parents and community, carried the day, and most students were there physically, emotionally, and behaviorally that day. We finished our day's schedule, and at the end of the day, many hugs were shared as students left the corridors and headed for home.

Each of us left as soon after as possible, feeling the need to get home to our own families. My dad remained in his coma throughout the entire day and a portion of the next. We shielded him from the news of the attacks, and from the devastating statistics. As a retired fire chief, we knew how the loss of hundreds of firefighters, police, and emergency responders would affect him, and wanted him to regain some strength and cognition before telling him. When I sat with him and told him the story of 9/11 a few weeks later, he asked me if this was true, or just a story that I was telling him, to pass the time. He was quiet for a few moments when I confirmed that it was true, and then said "Then that is why I am still here ... I was to pray for all of my brothers, for all of those people who suffered and died. I'll continue to pray for them."  He did that, for six more weeks, until he then passed away, and I'm sure he was welcomed home by many, many souls who preceded him.

And so this morning, Rick and I went to the fire station here in town for the 9/11 remembrance prayer and the traditional bell ringing ... four rounds of five strokes.

Rest in peace, all who left us that day, and know that you will never be forgotten.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Coach House - A Story of Our Parents' time

Accompanied by the music of the forties,
I couldn't help but hum along to each tune.

The Coach House by Florence Osmund is a beautifully written story of the immediate years following WWII. Marie is a young college graduate who has studied Interior Design and is using her skills at Marshall Fields in Chicago during the store's heyday. She is a window dresser, but is soon recognized for her talents and work ethic and is promoted to assistant buyer and ultimately to store manager. Richard is a medical supply salesman who is smitten with Marie's beauty and grace when he sees her working in a window. Romance is a new experience for Marie, and she quickly falls in love with her attentive suitor.

Despite her hesitations, they soon wed, and live the life of a happily married, affluent couple, flying to New York City for shopping and shows. Their differences gradually emerge in their relationship, as Richard is detached from his family, while Marie sorrowfully misses her mother, the only family she had. Richard continually asks Marie to trust him, and all will be well for them. This becomes an increasingly difficult task, as she begins to discover more and more about her husband's working life.

Florence Osmund skillfully interweaves musical interludes throughout her characters' experiences, quoting songs form the post-war era ~ lyrics that so perfectly fit the young couple's thoughts at the moment. Osmund also uses movies of that time to provide insightful dialogue that reveals each of their inner thoughts.

As Marie walks through the city of Chicago, and later through small towns beyond the city, the reader easily strolls alongside, taking in the nostalgic views of small town life in contrast with big city events. The gangsters of the forties, the early civil rights strife and slowly developing societal awareness of such complete the tapestry this author carefully weaves around her characters.

This book is a love story, a chapter in our history, a picture of divergent cultures, and a strong female character's journal. I strongly recommend this book for readers aged 16 and over who want a true look at this time period and all that it encompassed. Five Stars!

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