Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"









Friday, April 14, 2017

Busy Days

Oh my goodness, this has been a busy week.  I had brunch with friends on Saturday, bought a new lawn mower and weed trimmer on Sunday, and have worked in my yard for three to four hours every single day since then.  But I made sure to do other things as well, like reading, knitting, walking, and meeting friends for coffee and lunch.
 
My mom has wanted to ride the Tide, our area's light rail, so we did that on Monday.  We met my daughter, Melissa, for coffee, then mom and I played tourist, walking around downtown Norfolk, touring the Slover library and the newest hotel on Main Street, before having lunch in a bookstore cafe.  It was such fun!
 
 This view was from the hotel; the little bit of water you can see is the Elizabeth River, Norfolk's waterfront harbor area.  Those heads in the picture are actually a sculpture in the hotel lobby, not real people.  We had gorgeous weather for our little adventure, and walked a lot!
 
 My tulips have finally blown, but it seemed like they lasted a long time this year.
Gracie enjoyed my week off, although I wasn't inside with her very much.  Still, she knew I was around, and in and out of the house; here is a shot of her enjoying the morning sunshine.
 
I took advantage of the beautiful weather to photograph my finished Hitchhiker shawl.
 
 
I spent Wednesday morning in the Ghent section of Norfolk, at Baa Baa Sheep, my local yarn shop, but I also spent a lot of time walking through the neighborhoods there too, enjoying the azaleas.
Today, I walked around the Freemason area, which has a lot of Victorian style homes, before visiting an exhibit of Toulouse-Lautrec's work at the Chrysler Museum with Melissa, who had the day off.
We ate our fish taco lunch al fresco; the weather this week could not have been better.
This picture was taken at the end of the street Melissa lives on; I love the view.
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I came home to finish tidying up my yard work by mulching the vegetable bed I planted.  I put in two cherry tomato plants and three zucchini plants, although I may need to move one of the zucchini; not sure there will be enough room for them all.  
 
 Although my yard is looking pretty nice, the inside of my house looks as if I'm in the process of moving in or moving out!  At the beginning of the break,  I decided that I would work outside as long as the weather was nice, and work inside if it rained, but it never rained!  So now, I need to get the inside straightened up before Monday.  I can't believe the week is over already!  Other than that though, it really has been a nice mix of relaxing and working in the yard.  I'm very happy with all I accomplished outside, and I think I'll go back on Monday satisfied and rested.  
 
And before I know it, it'll be summer break! Right?
 
 
 
 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gracie and Gardening

Spring break has officially begun for me!  Oddly enough, my semester has been going so well that it kind of snuck up on me. More often than not, I'm beyond ready for the break, but this year, not so much.  Which is not to say that I won't enjoy it, because I definitely will.  I plan to do a lot of relaxing but I also want to work in my yard as much as possible too.  First item on my to-do list is to buy a new lawn mower.  I'm getting an electric one so I don't have to bother with gasoline or with starting one.  I owned an electric one years ago and it suited me just fine.
 
Meanwhile, the tulips continue to look beautiful.
I planted snapdragons and spearmint in a pot together for my front porch.
 
 
 I also put this lavender plant in a pot for the time being; I've planted lavender in the flower bed before and it never seems to survive, even though the sandy soil should be a good fit for it. I'll see how it does in a pot.
 
 
My new door mat looks pretty alongside a big pot of geraniums; those petunias in the far right of the photo still need planted somewhere but I haven't decided where just yet.
Gracie was watching me through the kitchen window while I weeded in the back yard the other night. She is strictly an indoor cat but she has lots of windows to look out of.
She naps everywhere.
 Guess she knew I was taking her picture.
Another favorite napping spot.
Vera, I hope you got your Gracie fix! Thanks for asking about her.
 
I was fortunate enough to meet up with another internet friend yesterday. Larissa, a blogger I've read for years, was vacationing in the area with her family, and took time out of her schedule to meet me for tea and a chat.  It was so good to meet her in person and get to know her better.  She is as lovely as I thought she'd be.  I know that social media can have negative implications in our lives, but it has also enriched our lives in so many ways too.  I think it's like anything else; it all depends on how you use it.  And I'm grateful for the connections I've made through it.
 
Have a great week!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April

March went out like a lion in our area, with torrential rain and even some tornado action, but today was clear and beautiful.  I had heard there was to be a Quilters Guild Show in Elizabeth City this weekend, so my mom and I made the 45 minute drive to see it, and had lunch out afterwards.  Part of me felt I should have stayed home and started working in my yard, but the smarter part of me knew it was a better use of my time to spend it with my mom.  She's become less willing to venture away from home over the last year, so anytime I can tempt her to do so, I have to take the opportunity.    

When I got home, I potted the plants I had bought this past Monday.  These are the plants beforehand, since I didn't take an after photo yet.

I bought a geranium, lavender, snapdragons, petunias, spearmint, lemon balm, and lemon thyme.  The fern on the far right is a houseplant I put outside so I could give it a thorough watering.    

More tulips have opened since last week.

 
And this groundcover plant has really spread, although the perspective is off; the plant is much smaller than it looks here.
 
I wish I remember what it's called.
I begin tutoring another student who is on home bound instruction tomorrow, which is a good way for me to earn some extra income.  I did this back in December and January with another student, and it really helped me out, so I'm grateful another opportunity came along.  I need to buy a lawn mower and an airline ticket to New York so I can pet sit for Meredith and Ryan in July.  I can't believe I haven't been up there since last July!  This is the longest I've gone with out traveling there, but at least I've seen her since then.     I'm still working on my Hitchhiker shawl, although I think I'm about three-fourths done.  School is still going great, and believe me, if I can say that a week before spring break, it's amazing.  My youngest, Melissa, had her 28th birthday on Friday, which of course is simply unbelievable to me. We celebrated last weekend, so I took flowers to her last night; she was working a double shift, but I wanted her to celebrate it anyway.  

Still reading lots, so much so that the librarians recognize me again, which I like.  I've always loved the library, ever since I was little.  And since I'm teaching Fahrenheit 451 to my Honors 10 class, I've been reminded of that.  I had them listen to a podcast the NEA did for the novel that included an interview with Ray Bradbury discussing his love for the public library, and it was just wonderful.

 

Wishing you a wonderful week filled with books, friends, and other things you love.

 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring

I can't believe I forgot to share this photo of our knitting retreat tees; Kristin bought them for us from Cafe Press, and we think they're adorable.  It's getting to the point where I need a separate bin for all my knitting themed clothing, but that's a good thing, I think.  
 
Speaking of knitting, have you been following the March Madness that Mason-Dixon Knitting has put together?  It's a great way to showcase some patterns, and one of the designers, Nell, of NellKnits, is local.  She's been working with BaaBaa Sheep, my local yarn store.  Unfortunately, her sweater pattern, Crete, didn't make it to the second round, but it definitely made it into my knitting queue. Nell designs patterns that are beautiful yet incredibly wearable, if that makes sense.  Check out her Ravelry page, when you have the time.
 
I went to see two movies last weekend, and I enjoyed both.  The Sense of an Ending, with Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, and Emily Mortimer, was an adaptation of a Julian Barnes novel, and quite good.  The other movie, was a French film, Things To Come, and was shown on Sunday morning, at a weekly event the Naro does called FirstLook Film Forum.  It's an advance screening of a film, along with coffee, bagels, and a discussion and critique about the film. Even though I hardly ever see a movie at any other theater, I had never attended a FirstLook Forum.  It feels a little odd to me to sit in a movie theater so early on a Sunday morning, but it's also kind of nice.  Apparently there's a core group that attends and I think it'll be a nice way to develop some new aquaintences with similar interests.  This morning I saw a really emotionally intense movie from Iran, The Salesman.  I think it won an Oscar this year, and if I'm correct, it was well deserved.
 
Afterwards, I went for a long walk, so I could enjoy the warm weather and spring flowers.  Speaking of spring flowers, my tulips are just starting to bloom.
 
 These are the tulips from my stepdaughter's wedding and luckily they continue to multiply.  
 
 
 
These are some type of naturalized flower that I see in a lot of neighboring yards, but I don't know what it is.
 
Here is a close up; they are little onion type bulbs, but that's really all I know.  I transplanted a bunch of them last year to my corner flowerbed, but there are still quite a few sprinkled randomly across the yard.  
 
I've also amassed quite a little collection of succulents, and I quite like how they look clustered together.
 
And Gracie continues to rule the roost around here, often from her new favorite perch.  I moved the hutch I had been using in the craft room to the kitchen a few months ago.  My kitchen has very little storage space, having been built in the fifties, and since I had plenty of room for it, I thought it would be a good move.  So far, I like it, and Gracie loves it.
 
Last night she was snuggled up in bed with me like this.
 
Is that not the cutest?
 
I only have two more weeks until spring break; I'm not going anywhere this year.  I have a dental surgery appointment and once I feel better, I hope to do some yard work.  And reading and relaxing.  Other than that, I really don't have plans, which sounds pretty good to me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Goings On

I sat down to write a post and began scrolling through the photos on my phone, which is what I usually do when I post.  As it turns out, I haven't taken very many pictures since the retreat, which was two weeks ago.  This is very unusual for me and I'm not sure why this is.  I've been working a lot, but that's not new.  I have been reading quite a lot, which doesn't really inspire a lot of photo taking, so maybe that's the reason.  I use the GoodReads app but only to keep track of what I've read and more importantly, of the books I want to read, as I come across reviews, blog posts, or other recommendations.  It's been a game changer for me, as I used to keep lists in spiral notebooks, which I never seemed to have with me when I was at the library or book store.  Now, when I visit the library, pretty much a weekly event for me these days, I just pull up my list and start searching.  Or just as often, I'll sit at home and use the online catalog to place a hold on a book from my list, then pick it up at my local branch when I'm notified.  I'll list a few of my more recent reads:
  • On Turpentine Lane, by Elinor Lipman
  • Paris for One and Other Stories, by Jojo Moyes
  • Pied Piper, by Nevil Shute
  • A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute
  • We Are All Made of Stars, by Rowan Coleman
  • The Novel Habits of Happiness, by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Stone Coffin, by Kjell Eriksson
  • The Cold Cold Ground, by Adrian Mckinty
 
This is a very eclectic list, but these are ones I'd recommend; but it definitely depends on the type of fiction you want to read, doesn't it? Some of these are quite dark and some are complete fluff.  I need both.
 
I took a picture of a shawl I started this week, when I need something to work on that was mindless.  This is a Hitchhiker shawl, using Dragonfly Fibers yarn in the Van Gogh's Sunflowers color way.  Perfect name for those colors.  I went to a coffee shop on Tuesday night to hear some Irish music and knew I'd need something to work on, so I grabbed this off of my yarn room floor.  
 
Lastly, I wanted to share another project I've been working on and that's me!  I went to the doctor in January and after she looked at the results of my blood work, told me I either needed to change my diet or I was running a serious and fairly immediate risk of developing diabetes.  So I cut out as much sugar as I could, drastically reduced the amount of carbs I eat, and increased protein.  Basically, I went on a diabetic food plan in order to prevent diabetes.  As a result, I've lost 31 lbs so far and I'm pretty happy with my progress.  It was super hard at first, but now it's become pretty routine.  A picture popped up on my Facebook page from last year's yarn retreat and I was so pleased at the difference, that I thought I'd share.
 
I still have more to lose but I'm happy with the direction I'm headed.
 
Hope all are well.
 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Knitting Retreat

Oh my goodness, I had such a wonderful time this past weekend at our guild's knitting retreat!  This is what our group wore to the Saturday night knitting bingo game.  Melissa, on the left, made our pajamas again, using the cutest sheep and yarn themed fabric, and Kristin, the blonde next to her, bought us our accessories.  Lori and I just went along with it all.  The headbands were yarn balls, isn't that funny?
Another guild member wore the cutest tee and didn't mind having her photo taken. 
 
 One of the fun things we do is eat delicious seafood while we are there and every year the number of people who go with us increases.  Roz is the owner of Baa Baa Sheep, the yarn store in Norfolk that I love, and Libby and Nell, of NellKnits, both work with her, so they came along, as well as some women from the DC Metro area.  
This photo includes our foursome plus some of my Thursday night knit group members.  Thankfully it is the off season in the Outer Banks or we would not have been able to be seated together so easily.
The restaurant is The Blue Point and this is the view you see while you eat.  If you visit Corolla or Duck in North Carolina, definitely go, the food is as amazing as the view.
The sun was setting across the sound while we waited for our food; the sound is a brackish body of water that is on the inland side of the island.
Although it was cold, a few of us were able to take a long walk on Saturday because the wind wasn't bad.  This is the view looking southward.
And this is the northward view.  I'm grateful I love by the Chesapeake Bay, but the beaches on the Outer Banks are breathtaking and completely different.
I tried to take another walk on Sunday but the wind was so strong I couldn't manage it for longer than ten or fifteen minutes.  Still, you can tell how happy being on the beach makes me by the look on my face.
So although this was a knitting retreat, being at the beach was as important to me as the yarn.  The rest of the time was spent sitting around laughing, talking, and knitting, and I am so glad I was able to go.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

March

Tomorrow is the first of March but it's been very spring like around here, despite my Let It Snow garden flag peeking through the fence.  (I really need to take that down.)
Although it may look a bit scruffy, the flowers are cheerful to see when I leave in the morning.
I really need to start showing the yard some attention soon.  It's been challenging though, as I've been going by the rehab center to visit my dad after work every day, or I've been checking on my mom, who developed a case of bronchitis at the same time.  My sister and I have tried to tag team what needs doing, but I'm getting tired.
 
I haven't been on the beach since last Saturday, when I took these photos.
But I am going to head south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Thursday afternoon, right after work, for the Tidewater Knitting Guild Yarn Retreat weekend.  My dad goes home tomorrow, and if something should come up while I'm gone, I can be home in less than 90 minutes.  After the past two weeks, I need the rest.
 
My new semester has been going very well.  The first term is already coming to an end and I'm really pleased with the size of my classes, the students' behavior, and the new ideas I've incorporated into my lessons.  I'm sure it helps that I'm in a much better place, emotionally, than I was in August.  
 
I'll be sure to post photos of the weekend shenanigans early next week.  The weather is supposed to be sunny and mild, so I'm planning to catch up on my beach walking as well as my knitting.  I got a lot of knitting done on my Mary Rebecca sweater while I was waiting around the hospital, but not so much since then, so I'm looking forward to getting back to that as well.  Hope you have a lovely relaxing weekend planned too!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Living My Life

I've been super busy this month.  I went to Wintergreen Ski Resort the second weekend of February with a group of women.  We stayed in a big house and basically had a pajama party with lots of eating, laughing, knitting, and relaxing.  Some of us may have stayed in pajamas from the moment we arrived until the moment we left!  The weather was unseasonably warm, which was disappointing to me, but it was still beautiful.
 
 
This view of the sky at sunset was taken from the back porch of the house. 
Thanks to all that knitting time, I finally finished my Guernsey Wrap!  It is huge and I love it!
 
Melissa gave me this lovely plant for my birthday, which I celebrated on Thursday, by sitting in the hospital while my dad had hip replacement surgery.  He did extremely well, and is already in rehab, so it was a good birthday after all.
I've been walking on the beach as often as I can, for my mental and physical health, and I love how it looks different every single time.  Usually I can only make it home before dark twice a week, so I make sure to walk on Saturday and Sunday too.  It is really helping me a lot.
 
This picture was taken right after sundown.
 This one was taken on a clear, sunny day.
 And this one was taken at dusk on a cloudy day.  
 And to prove how unseasonably warm it's been here lately, my daffodils bloomed this week.  I love them but it's just too early!
 A Sunday morning shot of Gracie, in one of her favorite spots.  I love the way she folds her little paws.