Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"









Saturday, September 13, 2014

This and That

Hello again. I took this photo at a coffee shop last weekend using a Polaroid app and love the way the shadows look.

I am settling into my back to school routine now. The first two weeks of school went well, despite my proclivity for expecting too much from myself. I think the stress I felt was more about my unrealistic expectations than anything else. But doing a little yard work to burn off some of the anxiety really helped, and the fact that the yard is looking pretty good is just a bonus.
 

I have a great schedule this year. My first block is an honors class, my second block is my Transition class, and my third block is an inclusion class; I have a co-teacher for the third block and she is awesome to work with. It was tough to settle into three preps, but I think I've got a handle on it now.

I've booked my train ticket to visit Meredith in October, and we will be visiting the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival again; needless to say, I can't wait! This time though, I really don't want to buy as much as I want to just enjoy the event and the time sharing it with my daughter. I've been cleaning up my craft room and the amount of beautiful yarn I already own is a bit embarrassing. I love my stash but it really is too indulgent and fiscally irresponsible for me to continue to buy more, until I either knit a lot more of it up, or else reduce it by selling or gifting. Obviously I won't completely swear not to buy anything, but I do want to be more thoughtful about what I choose to buy. For instance, the beautiful Dream in Color Tulips baby sweater kit I bought on my second visit was a purchase I never regretted, especially since I knit it right away. But the yarn I bought last year is still sitting in my stash and that's just ridiculous.

 
Stephanie seems to be doing well in Togo; that's her in the red skirt. We were worried about the Ebola scare, since it was in a few of the neighboring countries, but it seems as if she's in the clear.

 

She sent us a mask that she bought for us and we have hung it in the sunroom:

I can't believe that she has two more years over there. We hope to visit her next Christmas, but haven't decided on the location yet. As much as I've always said I'd love to visit Africa, I don't think I'm up to it after all. Time will tell, I guess.

I spent the day with my friend, Lori, knitting at our LYS, which was very relaxing. I'm two thirds of the way done with my cousin's shawl and itching to start a new project, but picked up my unfinished Hitchhiker shawl instead. Having my UFOs in a basket, ready to grab, was a big help when I was looking for something else to work on.

Well this post was a bit disjointed, but it was either that or no post at all, so here you go. Have a great week!

 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whew

Why, hello there. As usual, I'm not sure where the time has gone. I just finished my first week with students and for some reason, I'm especially stressed. It's my third year here, I have low class numbers, a great inclusion partner, and an honors class for home room and first block, and yet I am feeling the pressure in a big way.

I know that part of the reason is I have three preps instead of one, and a new textbook to use, so those are new factors, but it doesn't really explain it. I know I'll figure it out, but for now, I'm struggling.

Let's look at a few pretty pictures, shall we? My sweet Gracie, enjoying the morning sunlight last weekend:

Snuggling on the bed with me; is that not the cutest expression?

A lovely spider on the back of the house; it even has an egg sac in the web. Someone told me this is a knitting or zipper spider. Pretty appropriate.

I knit at our first high school football game of the season, like you do. It was a perfect night for football, with a hint of autumn in the air.

And one of our gorgeous sunflowers. The yellow against the blue sky is such a perfect pairing.

And of course, I still have the beach, although the summer is waning. But I'm ready for the lower temperatures; in fact, fall is my favorite season, especially on the beach. It's the perfect weather for knitting and reading, don't you think?

The changing of the season is always interesting, no matter how often I've experienced it. Hope your weekend is wonderful.

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Last Hurrah

I finished the Strathcona! For an easy, well written pattern, I sure had some difficult moments with it, but I never really figured out why. Lack of attention is the most likely answer, I'm sure.

I've also been cranking out wash cloths, using the Almost Lost pattern. Steve keeps calling them doilies, but I think they are pretty, and slightly more interesting to knit than my usual Grandma's Favorite.

As for my latest big project, I've finally decided on the shawl pattern and yarn for my cousin. I started with Tern but felt it looked a little boring for a wedding, so I bought some Luna (think Kidsilk Haze with sparkles), and am stranding the two together, using another Jane Richmond pattern, McMilne. Although the pattern still seems a bit casual somehow, it's a doable one for me. While a lace pattern would be prettier, I truly don't think I could finish it in time without putting too much stress on myself, as school will be very busy the first month or two. And both my yarn store owner and my husband like the way it looks, so I'm going to go with it.

I've also been destroying my house, in a last minute effort to accomplish everything I had planned to do at the beginning of this summer. Cleaning out closets, but leaving the mess in the room(s) where the closets are located, spending three days cleaning the stove while letting the dishes pile up; you know, the usual routine. I did finally clean both bathrooms and the kitchen, including the refrigerator and cabinets, so I feel better.

And for my last hurrah, I had to have my car towed to the shop last weekend, when my door locks finally quit working, leaving me locked out of my car on a Saturday night. The guy who came to tow it said he'd never seen anything like it. Oh well, at least it happened before school started. I wouldn't want to have any money left over, now would I?

Edited to add: It turns out I'm not quite done with "disasters". While flossing yesterday, I popped out part of a molar. But I've put the word disasters in quotes because none of these things are truly disasterous. I've still had a very lovely summer and really am a fortunate woman.

And don't tell anyone, but I am looking forward to school starting, even though I had a great summer. I love my free time, but I do like a schedule too. Quite a paradox, isn't it?

 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tick, Tock

The countdown has begun and I'm trying to cram as much summer into my last two weeks as I can. At the same time, I've begun to think about school and all the details I need to put into place. Quite a conundrum, no? (Gracie just wants me to hang out with her.)

I've been knitting, enjoying the beach, hanging out with friends, doing lots of yard work, and just generally living like a kid. In other words, I've been doing what I like, even more than usual. Many days end with a bath at 9:00 p.m., in order to get all the dirt and/or sand off of me, and while sitting in the tub, childhood memories of playing outside all day flood my mind and senses and make me smile. I have so enjoyed this summer, even more than I usually do.

This was Friday, when friends came over to hang at the beach with me.

 

I think part of the reason I've enjoyed myself so much is due to my friend, Lori, who is at a similar point in her life: our kids are grown and we have very little in the way of responsibilities to structure our days. Oh, we both have bills to pay and all that, but neither of us have children at home to drive around or cook for, and so our days are pretty much our own. And we are making the most of it.

Last week, two friends (Lori is the one on the right) and I went on a "field trip" to a North Carolina knit shop we love, to sit and knit there for a change. The owner, Jeannie, has just started taking a truck of yarn to different areas of the state, as a new marketing strategy, and let us take a peek inside!

We ate lunch at a little place right next door to the shop, to minimize lost knitting time.

Steve is going to be out of town Monday and Tuesday, and Lori and I are planning to knit and go to the beach tomorrow, and knit at a local yarn shop we love and eat at a great lunch spot on Tuesday. As a matter of fact, Lori will probably sleep over at my house tomorrow night, just for fun.

I'm still knitting my linen scarf, Strathcona, but it's almost finished. I could have finished it this weekend, but I kept losing track of the right and wrong side and having to rip out, but it didn't bother me too much. Luckily, the linen yarn is very forgiving that way. Steve and I were in the car for about ten hours yesterday, driving to and from Chestertown, Maryland, on the upper top of the Eastern Shore, so we could celebrate a friend's 80th birthday, and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity to finish up the scarf, but it didn't work out that way. The drive was lovely just the same. We had planned to stay overnight, but couldn't find a room available, so we came back, which worked out better in the long run.

Chestertown even had a yarn bombed tree, but alas, no yarn shop.

Steve and I had coffee and breakfast in our favorite coffee shop today, then I took a nap before we went to a cookout at Lori's house. I did a little yard work when we got home, and have been reading on and off since then. As I said, it's been a wonderful summer.

I hope your summer has been a great one too!

 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vacation, July, 2014

Steve and I had a wonderful vacation. The party to celebrate Meredith and Ryan's marriage was held on the shores of Lake Ontario, just outside of Oswego, New York, and was a lot of fun. Ryan's dad owns a bakery and his specialty is cake decorating. I wish I had taken a picture of the fourteen cakes he made, but these two give you an idea. Each cake was a different flavor and the ones I tasted were amazing. They all had fresh flowers on them and each one was the centerpiece for a table; even nicer, they were all on vintage cake stands that he had bought over the years at estate sales.

This was the first time I had been to Lake Ontario and it was beautiful. They own a cottage right on the water and it was idyllic.

After we left New York, Steve and I drove to Montreal, where we stayed in an apartment I rented through AirBnB, so we were able to enjoy the city on foot, like a local. Everyone was very nice and seemed to appreciate our rudimentary attempts to speak French. This is the view atop Mont Royal:

Of course I knit in the car; this is a baby blanket I worked on as we waited at the border.

This view is of the White Mountains as we made the drive from Montreal to Portland, where we stayed one night. We ate at Duckfat, and I bought some lovely Quince & Co. yarn from the local yarn store. The owner was as sweet as pie, and I enjoyed visiting with her for an hour or so.
Before leaving Maine, we went to Cape Elizabeth, where we ate lobster at The Lobster Shack, right on the ocean, and visited the Fort Williams Lighthouse, apparently the most photographed lighthouse in the country.

We've been back a week now and I've just about caught up on the yard work, laundry, and my beach time!

And even though I haven't quite finished the baby blanket, I've started on a scarf, using the Quince & Co. Sparrow yarn I bought in Maine. I'm using Jane Richmond's pattern, Strathcona, from her Island book, and I love it! Her book has five patterns in it and this is the third one I've made; her patterns are so well written and wearable! You should get the book if you don't have it already.

This is a photo of my girls, taken underwater in Lake Ontario. I love their expressions, don't you?

 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Busy, Busy

Wow. I spent an awesome week at George Mason University as part of the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching and then I went on vacation with my husband. I have lots of pictures and things to tell you, but first I have to finish my VCET project, so it'll be a few more days before I can post about it all. For now, here are a few peeks at our vacation:

Melissa and me:

Meredith and me:

A beautiful baby and me:

Stephen and me:
Fourteen different cakes, all made by Meredith's father-in-law and all delicious:

And Gracie, happy I finally made it home. We slept in this morning, which made her a very happy kitty. Don't you love those little paws?

 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Food

I invited my parents for dinner on Thursday afternoon (they like to eat early), and I used Alicia's recipe for shrimp-rice-corn-bean bowls. But since my dad isn't an adventurous eater, I followed the DALS deconstructed dinner concept and let everyone choose what to add and how much to mix. It was such a pretty dinner, especially with the gorgeous and colorful fresh vegetables I bought from the farmer's market. And with all the recent information about seafood safety, I made sure to buy local, wild caught shrimp, which of course meant it tasted wonderful. I had picked up my mom before lunch and we spent the day running errands together, so she helped me cut up all the vegetables I had bought. It was such a nice way to spend the day, which is another reason I love summer: time for days like that.

 

 

Gracie, after dinner, and although she isn't supposed to be on the table, she doesn't appear too concerned.

Can't remember if I posted the bookcase after I put everything back on it, but I love how it turned out!

Hurricane Arthur skimmed our area last night but other than some rain and wind during the night, there wasn't much to it. As a matter of fact, we could have used more rain than we got, but I'll count us as lucky regardless. I thought I'd have a rainy day to work inside the house for a change, but by noon, it was another gorgeous beach day, so of course, that's where I went! I worked on a baby blanket while I sat there, using one of the Purl Bee baby blanket patterns as a rough guide. I have a stash of Mission falls 1824 cotton that I reluctantly decided to use; I say reluctantly, because it's been discontinued for awhile and I love it so. I have four balls of 403 medium blue, one ball of 404 dark blue, one ball of a sage green number unknown, and a ball and a half of white. I'm knitting wide stripes of each ball with four rows of white between each color change and I think it will look nice. Progress so far:

The waves were quite choppy due to the after effect of the storm, but the breeze felt wonderful.

This is another one of my yard projects. Steve put these pavers in last year and the weeds keep popping up between them, so I decided to put shells down to help control them and to add a bit of flair. My neighbors seemed to think I was crazy, but I think it looks cute, don't you? And it didn't cost anything, so no loss either way.

 

I really like how our house is becoming more reflective of us than it used to be. Obviously there is always something that could/should be done, but my goal is to feel happy when I come home, and these little pops of color make me happy.

Gracie seems a bit skeptical, just like my neighbors.

Hope your holiday was a good one!