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What are you reading? What are you doing in your spare time? We still have some rainy days here in suburban Chicago, and some days I am inside a lot. I have been working on an old needlepoint that I bid on at a charity auction for my sons’ preschool years ago. It’s a soothing occupation.

And because of my interest in needlework, I read Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread. It’s a book that focuses on women who aren’t following traditional roles. Violet is a thirty-eight-year old woman who is not married and moves out of her mother’s home in the mid 1930s to work in the English city of Winchester. She gets involved in a group making cushions for the cathedral, needlepointing the designs of a particularly talented woman who once taught needlework in a school in Greece. Violet meets other women in this collection of “broderers,” who are not like her, and as she grows she develops both independence and tolerance. I found it comforting to read a book about regular women in circumstances that are not necessarily extraordinary. Ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary and important things. Something I want to think about in our turbulent times.