Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"









Monday, August 14, 2017

Girlfriends, Grief, and Gradually Moving On

 
Chris loved the beach, so after her service, our group decided to go to her favorite spot, so as to remember her in our own way.  It was a good way to spend a little more time with her and each other. 
 
 
Since that day, I've been moving slowly, crying some, and trying to be good to myself by enjoying the quiet, small things. I'm also trying to accept my inertia, or ennui, or what is probably actual grief.  I have less than two weeks before I go back to work, and despite having piles in every room, and things that need doing, I'm spending an awful lot of time doing very little.  I'm sure I'll regret my lack of accomplishment, but for now, it's simply all I can do some days.
 
 Gracie, has apparently rediscovered the ceiling fan; she was scared of them her first summer, but as I use them in almost every room, she got used to them.  Or at least she had, until they seemed new again, after my two weeks of vacation.
Her sweet heart-shaped face.
 
My little zinnia section of the flower bed; they are some of my favorite flowers and I never feel as if I've planted enough.  Next year I'm going to seed them in every space I can and see if that will finally satisfy me.
 
I drove to Richmond yesterday to spend time with Stephanie.  She's been in Arizona, near the Grand Canyon since the middle of June, leading a group of teens in a wilderness/service thing, and I have missed her.  We had brunch, went to a knitting shop, walked across the James River on a suspension bridge, and had coffee and tres leches cake at Kuba, Kuba, one of my favorite RVA restaurants.  It was so good to visit with her.  Not sure where her next destination is, but I don't think she'll be here too long, so had to see her while I had the chance!  She is quite the world traveler.
 
 
Thanks to all who read and/or comment here; your kind words really mean a lot to me.  The news seems to bring new heartbreak and fears on a daily basis, and it's hard to comprehend the level of hate that seems to grow exponentially, but we cannot let hate win.  Keep the faith.  Peace to us all.
 
 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Loss

I haven't gotten around to posting about my trip, because the day after I got home, a very dear friend of mine passed away.  Chris had lukemia that had been in remission up until this past March, and since then, she had been suffering a great deal. Although her friends and family miss her desperately, I know that I'm comforted by knowing she is no longer suffering.
   
I bought The Bright Hour while in New York, hoping it would help me understand some of what Chris was going through, and I highly recommend it, whether you know anyone with cancer or not.  I've read it once, and know I will read it again soon.  
 
 
Peace and love to you all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New York

I am having a wonderful time in New York and as a result, have had very little time to post, but I want to share one picture from Friday.  
The Defiant Girl statue has been on my must-see list ever since I heard about her.  Can you tell how happy I am to be there?  I'll definitely post photos from my trip soon.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Slow, Hot Summer

 
   I took the advice many people gave me and decided to enjoy the slow pace of this summer.  It has been too hot to do much anyway, so why not?  I even did a little beach knitting finally.

As a result, I was quite rested when I talked to my dad last Sunday afternoon and found out my mom had had an "episode" and wasn't feeling well, which turned into a 48 hour visit to the hospital.  She had a TIA (mini-stroke) last June, but fortunately, had no permanent damage from it, other than a loss of confidence as a result of the fear of it happening again.  So when my dad said she thought it had happened again, I went to their house, and convinced her she needed to go to the ER, rather than waiting until the next day to call her doctor, which was her plan.  They ran all the tests, and it was determined that she had probably experienced a complex migraine, as opposed to another TIA, but since she also has an irregular heartbeat that seems to be worsening, her primary care doctor has decided to have her wear a heart monitor for a month, just to be on the safe side.  I'm really grateful that I was able to be available for her, without the distraction of work, and that it happened before my trip to New York.  She has pretty significant hearing loss, and even though she wears hearing aids, she still misses quite a lot that is said, especially under stress and/or when the doctor has a foreign accent.  

 

All the time I've spent sitting in hospital waiting rooms this summer has led to some significant shawl knitting time.  After I finished the Playground shawl, I cast on for Close to You, a pattern I'd wanted to make since last summer, according to my Ravelry page.  Although the pattern called for fingering weight yarn, I wanted to use this skein of Dragonfly Fibers sport weight instead, and so, of course, I did.

 
 
 
 
It didn't take long to finish it, and so I dug in the stash and found a beautiful skein of fingering weight and cast on again, to knit the pattern in the designer's suggested weight.  This is yarn from my knitting guild's retreat this past March, but I don't have the label at hand just now.m I love the subtle shifts of grey.
 
 
I leave Thursday morning for my New York trip, and needless to say, I'm really looking forward to it.  Hope to post a bit more frequently too!
 
 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Loose Ends

I find myself at loose ends these days.  This often happens to me on summer break; without a schedule, I tend to let the days slip by without a plan, in part, as a way to rest and relax.  But after a bit, I usually start feeling a little blue.  This summer is the first summer I have ever lived completely alone, and when I think about it in those terms, I am doing pretty well.  And yet, there are times when I'm so apathetic and listless, that I worry that I'm not coping as well as it seems.  I can't decide if I should put more structure in my days or if floating along is what I need.  I have been reading quite a bit, and continue to do a little yard work most days, but I haven't committed to doing any major projects around the house like I had planned.  I'm not closing myself off from my friends and family, but I'm definitely not as social as I was.  As an example, this is the first summer since I moved in nine years ago, that I haven't actively invited friends and coworkers over for Beach Fridays, and I can't really say why.  I have had a very few close friends come over for beach time, the ones who are close enough to invite themselves, and I've enjoyed it, but I just don't feel like doing the hostess thing.  So much has been written about the curated on-line selves we present, that I thought it was important to be honest about some of the not so pretty stuff.  Thanks for listening.  Now on to the pictures.
 
This is a rose from one of the bushes I pruned last week; I have a couple of these antique bottles and was happy to have a reason to use one of them.  
 I'm not sure if I've ever posted a photo of this part of my front yard before, but I took this picture after pruning this tree.  Again, I really wish I had a before photo, as this tree was a beast.  I don't know what it is, but I call it a weeping holly because prior to my pruning it, its branches hung down to the ground like a weeping willow.  This is the first time I've ever seen the ground around it!
 
Melissa went to Colorado and Wyoming last month, and brought back this tea towel from a vintage shop.  I think it's adorable.
 
 I finished the Playground Shawl for my friend; this is a picture of it before blocking.
 
 
 
And this is how it grew after blocking.  I was amazed at the size, until I checked my yardage again and realized I had used 680 yards of yarn.  
         
 And in an effort to work from my stash, I cast on another shawl right away.  This will be much smaller, as it's a single skein shawl.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Gracie continues to enjoy sitting near me as much as possible while she naps, often on the arm of the couch.
 
 
And sometimes, she rests her tiny head on my knee.
 
But usually she loves to scrunch down on the back of the couch where it's a cushier place to snuggle.  
 
Hoping you are well and keeping as cool as you can in this hot, dry summer we're having.  And thanks again for stopping by.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Summer Garden

My yard has been getting the majority of my time and energy this week, in part because it needs the attention, but mostly because I'm enjoying my time digging in the dirt.  

I took photos one morning of everything that is flowering at the moment, and it surprised me how many different blooms I had.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sadly, the zucchini plants seem to be stunted; one already died off (too much rain at the wrong time, maybe) but maybe this one will pull through.  
 
 I started to dust the large bookshelf in the living room last Friday night, and ended up "konmari-ing" it, which means I pulled every single book off of every single bookcase.  I took a photo, mid process:
 I have three bookcases in the living room, one in the sunroom, and one in my bedroom, plus the cookbook shelf in the kitchen, and the bookcase for yarn and craft books in the yarn room.  I finally finished on Sunday morning.  
 
I finally made it to the beach a couple of times; it is so relaxing to sit under my umbrella and chat with a friend or two, especially if there's a nice breeze.  Beach time means I've been able to knit a couple of washcloths for my gift closet.  
 
I'm almost finished with the Playground Shawl; I've enjoyed this pattern, as it's an easy one to remember, but being able to switch from garter to lace whenever I want keeps it interesting as well.
 
 When I'm not in the yard, I've been reading quite a bit; despite all the books I own, there's not much I love more than going to the library and checking out a big stack of books.  I just finished The Summer Before the War, which I loved.  It's a satisfyingly long read, set in pre-WWI England.  I've tried to watch a couple of series so I can knit, but nothing is keeping my interest lately.  I really need to try out some of the many podcasts I've heard about and see if I like them.
 
  
 
Gracie thinks I should sit on the couch with her a little more often.  She's looking a little judgy here, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Routine

 
 
School finally finished up last week; I feel like I took my time storing my things this year, in the hopes that the new year will be less stressful and more organized.  I also brought home some of my unit plan binders, so that I can plot out what I'd like to do while I have more time to think.  Of course, I always think I'll do this, but this summer my situation really is different, so I'm hopeful.
 
Meanwhile, I've been doing some yard work.  It turns out that I actually love weeding; I think it's very meditative and therapeutic, but I also love how visible and immediate the results are.  That being said, I also am trying to minimize the amount of upkeep I need to do, so I changed this little area last week.  The space at the front left of the photo is a little extension of the large flower bed; it was a little section of weedy grass that I turned into a bed a few years ago, but the gate caught on the edging every time I opened it.  Instead of weeding and mulching it yet again, I dug an inch or two down to remove all the weed/grass roots, poured a layer of sand, and then used river rocks as edging and hardscape.  I liked it so much, I decided to do the same with the strip of unnecessary grass along the deck, the length of the driveway strips.    I plan to continue to add and widen so that the area to the garage door, just to the right of the picture, is done this way, but as it's a bit pricey, I'm taking my time with it.  I really like it though.  
 
Surprisingly, I haven't been to the beach much at all. This picture was taken before the last week of school, and it's the last time I was there.  Of course, it's probably the last nice day we've had, as it seems like every day is cloudy and/or rainy.  
 
 
Gracie has begun begging for belly rubs, by throwing herself on any available rug. This one is in the bathroom, and this picture reminds me that replacing the ugly linoleum is another home improvement project I'd like to do this summer.
I took this picture this morning, as Gracie and I took our time getting up.  It's safe to say that we both enjoy the slower pace of summer.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

It's Almost Summer Break!

I can't believe it, but another school year is coming to an end.  Thursday is my final day with students until September!  I have to say, this semester has been a fabulous one, so I'm kind of sad for it to end, although I will enjoy my time off.  I started going through the stuff in my classroom last week in an effort to pack it all up in a more organized way, and to get rid of the stuff I no longer want or need, so I feel like I'm in a good place.  

I finally got back in my yard this week as well; apparently, the month of May was the rainiest one on record, which meant that the weeds got out of control, and I was out of the routine of doing yard work.  I decided to cut the grass after work on Thursday, as the temperature was in the low sixties, and I did some of the trimming with the weed whacker last night.  I spent a couple of hours weeding the flower beds today, but although I have quite a bit more to do, it's going to have to wait.  I'm going to sit on the beach with a friend tomorrow as a reward for all my hard work, and to make sure I'm not exhausted on Monday.

I put the cages around the tomatoes; still don't know how to tell when this variety is ripe.
 
Zucchini blossom
 
Eggplant blossom

 

I went to the Chrysler Museum for a little while this morning to celebrate Knit in Public day, along with quite a few people from my local yarn shop, Baa Baa Sheep, and the Tidewater Knitting Guild. It's a great space, with lots of natural light.  
 
I wish I had taken a picture of my shawl there instead of at home, in artificial light, on the messy chair, but there you go.
 
I think I'm nearly done with this, but I'm not sure.  I have a hard time estimating how much yarn I have left, and I want to use it all up.  I am enjoying the pattern, even if I'm not knitting particularly fast.  I need to break out the cotton yarn for beach dish cloth knitting.
Gracie continues to photogenic.
 I think she sleeps in the oddest positions!
 
Hope you all are well and I hope my posts get a little more interesting! Maybe once I'm a little less tired?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

And Now, the Gratitude

Such wonderful, kind words from you all.  Thank you so much.  My week has been very busy, as the school year comes to a close. So many deadlines! Every email is marked Urgent! State testing every day! The stress level is palpable around this time, especially at the high school level. I received my 20 year service pin this week too, which is kind of mind blowing.  I cannot believe it has been that long since I started this career.  And although this profession seems undervalued and under attack, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.  I am so very fortunate to have the privilege of working with young people, because even though it can be frustrating at times, it is also amazing to be able to do such creative work on a daily basis.  It keeps me on my toes and always learning something new, either about a topic or about myself.  

I drove to Richmond yesterday to meet up with Stephanie for the first time since her return from her teaching stint in France.  It was wonderful visiting with her and catching up face-to-face.  We ate at Kuba, Kuba, one of my favorite Richmond restaurants, then walked around the Fan District for a bit.  The traffic on I64 was terrible but that's pretty normal for a summer Saturday.  

 

I have been walking on the weekends, although not on the beach for some reason.  Instead, I've been driving to nearby neighborhoods and parking the car, so I can explore new places.  I spotted this heron on my walk last Sunday, in the neighborhood near the Hermitage Museum.  Norfolk has a lot of wetland areas, which makes the scenery more interesting, I think.

 

 

I need to stay home and catch up on the yard work as I've been "running the roads" too much, as my mother-in-law used to say, but I guess the weeds will wait for me.  
 Finally, Gracie, sunning in one of her favorite spots: the beat up dresser I use in the kitchen to store napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths.  
 
The two windows make it a perfect spot for monitoring the birds and wandering neighborhood cats.  Unless she's posing for her photo session, that is.