Friday, December 8, 2017

Eating from the Tree of Life

Appropriate to my sense of humor, my family visited this tree of life in a local cemetery. "Reserve your spot today!"

Trees get a lot of attention this time of year. We bring them into our homes to decorate, string lights around outdoor trees, and travel to admire trees others have decorated. In this dark, cold season, it makes sense to embrace such obvious symbols of life--both the evergreens which stand defiant against winter and the deciduous trees that resurrect each spring.

It also makes sense that many different cultures world wide include a Tree of Life in their beliefs. Lately I have been pondering a Tree of Life story I grew up with.

While dreaming, I find myself in a dark and dreary wilderness. Fog swirls around, obscuring any landmarks. I can hear, and occasionally see, a river, high and muddy with runoff. I also hear voices, some crying for help, some shouting that they know they way. But the only way that seems certain is to cling to a nearby guardrail and follow it slowly, step by step, trusting that it leads somewhere, hoping that it leads to safety.
painting by Minerva Teichert
After a long, difficult walk, I glimpse a light in the distance. The light is coming from a tree with fruit so brilliantly white it glows through the darkness. A kind guide welcomes me. At first bite, the taste of the fruit fills me with so much joy that the difficult journey becomes worthwhile.
I have always seen this prophet's dream, as told in the Book of Mormon as a metaphor for life's journey. If I stayed on the right path and resisted temptation, I would be rewarded in the end.

But my extra dose of pain this past week has given me additional insight. Right now this story is more helpful to me as a metaphor, not for the whole sweep of life, but for each individual day.
Tree of Life sculpture BYU

Many, maybe most, of us spend great stretches of life stumbling through a wilderness of physical or mental suffering. Giving up often seems like the easiest, even the most logical choice. But we find something--faith, hope, love--to cling to and put one foot after another day after day.

And the reward comes daily too--bright bites of joy that make the struggle worthwhile. Just now I saw and heard a bluejay at my feeder. That alone made it worth today's fight to get up and moving.

As I hobble through the holidays, I plan to eat as many of those bites of joy as possible (as well as a decent amount of chocolate). I hope you will be able to savor many small joys in your life as well.

Tree of Life in Draper, Utah

I finished the commission sweater. It is currently drying. I'm still not sure I'm happy with it. I hope its new owner will be. I've also received and wrapped the yarn for my January sweater this year. I'm looking forward to designing.

If you are still trying to find the right gift for someone special, check out my shop. There is still plenty of shipping time at least through the 16th.
Do you have your Solstice hat yet?

Friday, December 1, 2017


I'm not usually thankful for my health. In fact, I don't generally consider myself healthy. Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia have damaged my brain and body to the point that I cannot function well enough to work any more.

But, things can always be worse.

Tuesday morning I went out to fill the bird feeders and take my dog for a short walk. Somehow, while standing on a level sidewalk, I suddenly found myself on the ground with a sprained ankle.

As my mom always says, "No brain, no pain." I had what felt like an urgently busy day planned, so I kept moving. Somehow, I staggered my dog around the park, then went to the grocery store. Maybe I was in shock or had an adrenaline high because I haven't been nearly that mobile since.
I'm on the mend, but still have a more than few days that will consist mostly on sitting on the couch with ice on my ankle. I have to admit to being angry and not particularly stoic about these limitations. I want to do things!

In the meantime, I am thankful for aching, ornery joints that usually allow me

--to walk in the park and at the aquarium


--use the treadles on my spinning wheel

--go up and down stairs

--stand to cook or wash dishes

(I can still stand enough to do laundry, but am not currently in the mood to be thankful for that.)

Couch confinement did allow me to finish the very good Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan and to make some serious progress on my knitting.


I finished the Christmas blanket, and am almost done with the commission sweater, but it has me worried.

The lady I am knitting this for fell in love with the picture on the pattern. 

I don't blame her. That yarn is so fuzzy and lovely. I don't know if the pattern is all that impressive; maybe anything created in that beautiful material would be nice. The yarn shop lady did her best to match colors and gauge, but the yarn she chose is more than half synthetic, so I don't know if it will bloom as nicely after blocking as the original. And there are always nerves about whether or not things will fit. 

I'm not sure whether I would be better off finishing it this afternoon and ending the suspense or knitting something recreational to calm my nerves.

Though I am dithering about my knitting, I am finished with my Christmas shopping. How are you doing? Check out my shop for one of a kind cozy gifts.