Lake Waban in Massachusetts June 2017

My favorite place to walk in the Boston area

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Murky Day Means Knitting to Audiobooks

Just a few sunny days this week and now we're back into The Murk, as I call it. It's plenty dark due to a dense cloud cover. Yes, I'm thankful  it wasn't hot and we were able to have the windows open all day, which has been a rarity this summer, due to the heat and humidity, even when there is Murk. It will be murky and a bit rainy until Wednesday. (I'm just hoping this means we will have a spectacular fall).

Indoor cleaning projects were not appealing today, so well before noon, I tossed off de-cluttering to launch a new knitting project. I'm excited about this one. Noro Kuryeon yarn, manufactured in Japan, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Every yarn in this line is wool, mixing many colors together to make multi-colored garments. I ordered the Noro Kuryeon wool for a scarf and draped hood combination that seems as though it will be very practical for an Adirondack winter.

It took quite a while to knit the gauge sample, because I had to do it in the pattern, which is not difficult per se, but is very complicated because it's a 12-row pattern and each row is different. It's just knit and purl, but you never know when you will purl or knit, row by row.

I was fine while I was finishing the last two hours of Barbara Ehrenreich's nonfiction book Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and  Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.

I was drawn to this book based on Ehrenreich's tour de force bestseller Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America , in which the author went "undercover" as a waitress, hotel room cleaner, nursing home aide, Walmart clerk, and a cleaner of houses to show how difficult it is to survive as a poor woman in America. Things haven't changed at all since the book was first published in  2001. So if you haven't read it, and even if you know how hard it is, Nickle and Dimed is a classic. Ever tried to get food from a food pantry when it closes at 5 pm, the same time as you get off work, and other impossible Catch-22s.

In listening to Natural Causes, I was astounded to learn that Ehrenreich got her Ph.D. in molecular biology. Or was it cellular microbiology? In any case, Ehrenreich, who calls herself a "gym rat," (just because it makes her feel good, not to live longer), presses home the message that although we like to think that the diets we eat, the exercise we do, the herbs, the constant screenings for cancer, and everything else we do because we believe they will make us live longer, none of it has ever been proven to do just that. It is true that people of higher socio-economic levels live longer, and poor people have shortened lives.

She cites study after study, and gives copious explanations of cellular activities, which have all been updated. She interviewed countless researchers and studied a mind-boggling number of research studies.   I really like her message. It's provocative, as all her books are, which I like.  One of her messages I really, really liked: If one gets cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, kidney failure--you don't deserve blame. It happens not because you didn't exercise enough, eat the "right" foods, on and on.  As she and her studies show, the human body, as it ages, is designed, whether genetically or due to environmental reasons,  to develop some of these problems. The idea that we can control what happens to our bodies is a very modern notion, and does not serve us, she argues.


  1. I love Noro Kuryeon wool although it has been eons since I have done anything with it. I should get back to some knitting (I only did it for a year or so) or crocheting... which I have been doing off and on for about 40 years. That scarf / hood combination sounds lovely.

    That book by Ehrenreich sounds very good, and I did like Nickeled and Dimed when I read it years ago.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Thanks so much for showing me how Nickeled should be spelled. It didn't look right at all when I wrote it.
      You know, I am finding that the knitting puts me into a most enjoyable relaxed state of being. I like how I feel when knit. I've had some things going on that have given me considerable angst this summer, and when I knit, it all just recedes into the distance for a while. So you will probably be hearing more about me knitting.
      This is my first time with Noro Kureyon, and I love how it's a big surprise watching the colors "knit out."
      If you do decide to read the Ehrenreich, I'll just warn you that there are several chapters in which she discusses the history of human thinking and the history of the science about the body, the cell, etc. If I hadn't been listening to the audio, I probably would have skimmed those chapters. But really good chapters everywhere else.

    2. I did not notice how you spelled it, but I added an "ed" to make it "Nickeled" and that is not correct. Now I know. I can easily believe that knitting relaxes you. I never made it to the comfortable point where you can relax, although I love the look of a knitted product.

      Thanks for the warnings on the book.

  2. My daughter is a self-taught knitter, about 20 years now and, she has several published books and sells her patterns at knitting shoes and Revelry as well.

    I, on the other hand, can't knit for beans.

    1. I'm so interested to hear about your daughter. I've always thought that knitting pattern designers must have outstanding skills in mathematics and in spatial analysis, both of which I lack.
      If you're able and willing, I'd love to know the title of one of her books.

  3. My book club read Nickle and Dimed years ago and invited the head of a local assistance agency to the excellent discussion! I'm glad to hear Natural Causes gets a thumbs up from you as well. It's already on my list.

    I haven't done any knitting for the last 20 years, but would love to pick up my needles again. Think I probably need a quick refresher course ;-)