Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer by the Sea

On Saturday we had a special visit along with some friends and family in my son's new digs with its great views of Long Island Sound.
We enjoyed lobster rolls, hot dogs, quiche, cookies, fruit, wine, and just kicked back to talk and enjoy all of it on a gorgeous summer afternoon. In quiet moments we heard the lapping of water against the stone wall just below his balcony.

and then....
There were some recently received copies of my book From Salt to Sage and I had the very excellent pleasure of signing them.
This is a most thrilling time for me as the book begins to land in the hands of friends, acquaintances and unknown readers. I look forward to all the comments and reviews no matter what they are. I am especially looking forward to my upcoming SOMOS reading in Taos, NM on August 9. I will use this blog and facebook to announce other readings as they are scheduled. I will also insert selected poems and brief excerpts from the book in this space (or the blog I've just set up on WordPress but don't quite understand yet--oh, dear!), so please stay with me as I discover new paths on this aesthetic and practical journey I'm taking. The book is available on Amazon and from the publisher Nighthawk

...from "Gray"

"There is a chill in the air and no shadows. In the pale March light, the sky is flat translucent white. A small piece of it can be seen through gaps between brick buildings and bare branches, but only if you bothered to look up. The frail elderly woman who wears a gray too-large wool coat is my mother. We help her into the back seat of the clean new silver Oldsmobile that belongs to my brother. Elvira sits on the plush burgundy seat--her feet do not quite reach the floor. The seatbelt is high and rests across her thin neck." 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Year & A Book!

Last year in early spring I announced that I was "back" and would post regularly again. Well, the time between then and now developed into a year of things lost and found. Sometimes I felt like a leaf dancing in the wind--or art itself. Other times I stood at the edge of a dark whirlpool of sadness, emotion (love, anger, death). Somehow, with help from my friends and family I got through it all and although many issues are still pending, there is light and I know the universe will unfold as it should.

Back in in the northeast under last winter's gloomy, cold gray snow-filled skies, at my desk, finally in a room of my own, I worked on the manuscript with my editor 2000 miles away.  The collection was a long time in the writing and I begin this new series of postings on a high note. My book, "From Salt to Sage," a collection of personal essays with a smattering of poems and photos, has been released by Nighthawk Press. Please check it out on Amazon. It can be ordered directly from the publisher's website: nighthawk Please join me on Facebook, too. I'd love to hear from you. (My full name in case you can't read it is Lorraine Lener Ciancio--I'm having terrible time posting photos with the "new improved blogger" by Google!!!).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

She's Back!
It has been many months since I last posted here at The Knitorialist. I've been living in the east and have spent lots of lovely time within closer driving distance to the Atlantic Ocean and the tri-state area nearer to my family. I've met new people, am editing the final draft of my book manuscript and made strong connections in other areas. I still haven't gotten used to taking trains to Manhattan and driving around busy New Jersey and Connecticut. I guess I've been spoiled by 25 years of wide open, speedy, southwestern roads. I don't seem to remember my way around either which is sort of embarrassing. In Taos I took for granted an abundance of sun, dramatic neon sunrises and sunsets, blue sky winters and generally lighter clothes--all elusive here among trees, endless grey skies, frigid and gloomy winters that require long LL Bean Ultra down hooded coats with faux fur. All winter I felt compelled to knit wool socks and nothing else. I added to my sock yarn stash and have enough yarn to get me through future winters. Most of the finished socks ended up with friends and family members.
But it's spring now and I am awakened every morning by a cardinal singing high up in a tree outside the window. After-dinner strolls in the 23 acre park outside my door now puts forth the color I longed for all winter and sought in yarn.
I will try to write this blog at least weekly from now on and will post excerpts from one of two manuscripts I'm working on: a collection of creative non fiction essays and another of poems. Meanwhile I wish joyful spring thoughts to all of you who return to these pages.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

begin with Yes

Frankly friends, I don't know where the special effects for this photo came from.  It's a mystery. Yes, it's the view from my kitchen window, but the falling snow? Wow. Magic? At the same time that this appeared, the photos I was downloading disappeared. So. What does this all mean? It's been a difficult year and it is drawing to a close in many ways subtle and not so. I've learned that meditation helps, saying yes and breathing helps, knitting helps. In the midst of an anxious week I came upon a skein of cashmere yarn that I'd purchased a year ago and forgotten about.
It's from Lobster Pot Yarns and the name alone is compelling. Dyed in lobster pots, dried in the wind of east coast beaches. Lovely! So I began to knit a Colonnade triangle/lace scarf and more magic happened. The soft luxury of this Mongolian cashmere and the color called Shoreline Heather (lighter than the photo) seemed to bring an inexplicable inner peace. I'm loving it, appreciating it and very very grateful for the animals that give us their wool. To all the sheep, goats, alpacas, and silkworms, thank you! Thank you to the trees that produce apples in Christmas colors, too!
I'm writing a lot these days, filling notebooks, mostly with junk. Sometimes I have the greatest urge to consign them to flames, but haven't done so thus far. What I do know is that I'm not writing very often on this blog because too many other things are clamoring for attention. Therefore, I am going to take some time off. As Terry Tempest Williams said recently on her facebook page, I am going to take three months off from most social media and do what the bears do. They hibernate from now until the Spring Equinox. Tonight I meet with a group of women who will be celebrating the return of the light on this Winter Solstice night and then it's a 21st century version of hibernation. I'll be back in the spring. I hope you will meet me here then. For now, I'm poised and ready. See you when the robins are twittering and the meadowlarks are calling from fenceposts again
Life is a Hallelujah
Hallelujah when we're born
Hallelujah when we die
And Halleluljah when we rise each morning
           T. T. W.

Monday, November 24, 2014

afternoon beer

Many years ago, I was part of a survey team researching New Mexico quilts. The project was the brainchild of Dorothy Zopf, quilter and retired art teacher, who discovered that there was no data on an extremely important element in Hispanic New Mexican life: handmade quilts. The survey was conducted over several years, spread to Anglo quilts as well, and the result was Dorothy's book, Surviving the Winter. I was one of five women who helped with the research. My job was scribe and backup photographer and I loved toting notebook and compact 35mm camera on each trip.
Last evening Dorothy and I were invited to speak to an audience at the Taos Retirement Village Center about our adventures along the highways, byways and rural areas of NM. It had been snowing in Taos all day but I was able to navigate the roads into town from my perch in Des Montes at 7500 feet (Dorothy lives in the village and just walked over). The invitation prompted me to search through personal notes, photos, articles and poems I'd written at that time. A favorite experience was afternoon beer at The Rosebud Saloon in Mountainair. Although written long ago, it still resonates.

The Rosebud Saloon

Thursday afternoon
southwestern New Mexico
early summer beer
at the Rosebud Saloon
pool table fluorescent lights
guys in big hats at the bar.
I think about danger
something I read once
men and bars in afternoons
in remote towns. Here
it's only a TV rerun of
This Old House.

They take no notice
of five old girls who want to
carve their initials into the table
laughing in their beer
laughing with each other.

Maybe the sun's shining outside
maybe not, in the Rosebud Saloon
bright light illuminates fading hair
wrinkles, someone has arthritis
a guy at the bar tips his hat
red light blinks Budweiser's Best
and I wonder whose dream I'm in.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

seeing more directly what is true

Beware of that determined slide to the worst possible, barely imaginable scenario. You don't have to go there. Let's just see what happens now.        (Sharon Salzberg) 

(facsimile of Emily Dickinson's handwriting with ED mittz)

Good advice, since I just spent the last half hour or more writing and whining about waking up at 3 am to impossibly strong winds blowing in a snowstorm that turned my mind to typical wee hours thoughts of disaster, loss, old age, disease, joy, worry and doubt. When I'd finished writing, all my too many words and photos disappeared. So that's what happened then. This is now. It's snowing. It's pretty. It's winter. The dark time is coming.
Now that I've gotten that out of my system (without any wi-fi connectivity issues), I sit at my kitchen table writing in mid-morning as the snow comes and goes and have faith that in a day or so the sun will return in a Taos blue sky. There is food in the house, my cup of tea nearby, a notebook, camera (just in case), and wool. Wool. Wool.
Completed this cheerful pair of socks that reminds me of alpine ski lodges, mountains and snow that is actually fun to romp in if one is so inclined (I'm not, although I live in the environment described). I immediately began another sock with colors that simply feel good. Joyous socks, flower garden yarn, faith-in-the-future socks....
We face the darkest time of the year and I admit to often having low feelings around the holidays that include losses and gains, memories and longings. I know others do, too. My antidote is wool, color, the act of hands busily moving to create something pretty while the mind goes off on its alpha journey and diminishes some of the darkness. It is my version of hibernating into the tactile pleasure of mostly silent knitting (and writing -- they go together).
Since I no longer do an annual craft fair, I am not compelled to create "inventory" and now only knit what I love and am in the mood for. Yet I am almost always working on something and once finished I can easily let go. It seems to be about the act rather than acquisition. Since I don't need as many pairs of socks (or sweaters or scarves or hand warmers) as I turn out, they generally disappear onto other feet, hands, necks, heads...because other people love these things, too. Strangers, friends, family. It gives me great pleasure when I see or hear of someone wearing socks or hand warmers I knitted, a granddaughter wearing the felted bag, a poet using the teapot cosy as she writes and sips hot tea.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Away from this blog for a long long time, I will try to catch up. Back in Taos now after six weeks or so in the east with friends, family, and a writing retreat. Ron was informed that he is "cancer-free" and although he has to build up his strength and gain some weight, he managed to take care of himself in my absence. Actually, I think he was pleased to be free of my nagging him to eat! I walked a lot, knitted some, wrote a lot and did some shopping in the tri-state area. I found a couple of cool yarn shops and indulged in some Malabrigo Finito yarn for handwarmers and a shawlette (kettle dyed in Uruguay).

I (and my eager assistants) had fun "researching" the ubiquitous New York black and white cookie (the one shown is not the traditional version, but it will do). We had to give up the profject when our jeans got a bit too tight. But we will eventually resume for the cause!
I will post about this fun "project" soon. Back east I got to hang out with some new friends.  One friend, today, sent a photo of a Christmas tree trimmed with balls of cashmere yarn! So you see, besides cookies, they got to know me pretty well! Since my granddaughter and great grandson are planning to visit again in early December I may have to trim a Christmas tree this year -- and while it may not be all about cashmere, it could easily be about yarn balls. If they come though, I suspect I might be forced to open those boxes of old old Xmas ornaments stashed in the garage. We are a sentimental lot -- and I haven't seen those contents in many years. Which reminds me that a high point of my visit was being with my older brother Frank (and his beautiful wife Rita) for a whole day. He cooked for me and we reminisced and laughed a lot (also drank Scotch at 4 pm -- his daily prescription for good health (he's going to be 87 in January so manybe he's on to something).
Walking wooded paths, I encountered more dramatic huge mushrooms I still couldn't identify, colorful spiders, deer and cheerful graffiti.

The weather was generally warm and pleasant, but now "...winter circles and moves in..." (Charles Wright) and I need to wrap myself in wool.
At this time, on a dark night in November, I write, sip chilled Pinot Grigio and eat too many Pirouette Chocolate Hazelnut wafers. Not necessarily a good idea, but life is short and you only live once.