Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Friday, April 30, 2010

Blue Day

I had my physical therapy appointment yesterday for my neck. One of my bosses pointed out that I now need medical attention from head to feet, including my stomach ulcers along the way. He has a way with people (insert sarcastic tone here).

The thing is, going to physical therapy really pisses me off. When I went for the first time two years ago, I blamed my therapist, but deep down I knew I had a bad attitude, even if I didn't know why. Yesterday as I sat there and realized how truly unsettled I was feeling, I made myself focus in on the particular emotion I was feeling and identified anger. So then I had to think about why I was angry and I think it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of aging and fear of losing the mobility and vitality I have always taken for granted. I resent that my body is not what it used to be and I'm angry at it and at myself for not having appreciated it nor taken particularly good care of it. And fear that this is just the beginning.

The rest of the day was a struggle to stay positive with my students and not take my anger out on them. I managed fairly well, but I was definitely feeling more than a little blue. And as luck would have it, I had to stay for an AVID parent meeting from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Lucky indeed, as it turned out, because five of my former AVID students had come to speak at the meeting, to give the rising ninth graders their perspective and some idea of what to expect. And it was a wonderful reminder, at just the right time, of why I am so very, very grateful to be a teacher. It's because of the kids.

And my blue day was over, just like that.


Location, Location, Location

Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you like to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?

This one is easy: I like to knit everywhere! I knit on the couch in the sunroom, on the deck, on the beach, in the car, at restaurants, and at school during homeroom monitoring and on test days.

I also liked it when I knit on the outside mall in Charlottesville, on a trip with Steve,on the deck at a vineyard, also on a trip with Steve,sitting with my parents and husband listening to the symphony at the botanical gardens,and on the train to New York after visiting my daughter.

Isn't knitting wonderful?

Thursday, April 29, 2010


A New Skill

Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork.
Oddly enough, I just purchased The Happy Hooker, so that I can relearn some crochet. I want to do it primarily so I can help my oldest step-daughter make granny squares, but I've also been drawn to it over the past couple of months as I've read about the pot-holder swap that many bloggers are participating in. Also, there are some knitting projects that suggest a crocheted edge, so I want to have that particular trick in my bag.
As for knitting? Stranded colorwork is probably the next goal but I'm not itching to do just yet. Call it a distant goal.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

KCBW#3: Wednesday

One Great Knitter

Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

There are so many out there that have added to my enjoyment of this craft, but the first one to really inspire me was Yarn Harlot. Reading about her adventures in knitting and love of yarn is always entertaining and encouraging. She reminds me that no one will be harmed if I try something new in knitting and fail, something that my perfectionistic self needs to learn over and over again.

But check out my blogroll for many, many other fabulous and encouraging knitters, like Ruth, Stephanie, and the Mason-Dixon women, Ann and Kay, my oldest daughter, M1, and my stepdaughter, S, just to name a very few. My thanks goes out to all of these women.

And thanks to my youngest daughter, M2, for this photo of me, doing what I love.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dinner Reservations

Thanks to the plans I made yesterday, I now have a chicken cooking cockspatched style, which apparently means you cut out the backbone, flatten it out in the pan, and cook at 500 degrees for thirty minutes for a crisper skin. I've added sundried tomatoes, eight or ten cloves of garlic, and a cup of white wine. I love cooking with wine, cause you always have some to drink while you cook, the epitome of good living in my book. I'm also steaming some redskin pototaoes, to which I'll be smashing when done, and adding olive oil and lemon zest. I have my new (thrifted) apron on and I'm listening to a Bon Iver cd. A nice Tuesday evening, eh?


An Inspirational Pattern

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

This one is easy; I'm still working on the big one, an adult sized sweater. I started the Farmer's Market Cardigan as part of a KAL back in September, but gave up. I think the pattern was a little too daunting for me as a first time sweater knitter. So for the Olympic Challenge, I chose a ChicKnits pattern, the mondo cable pullover, and have made it as far as the body and half of one sleeve. Her pattern was a good choice for me as it's so easy to follow. And even though I didn't finish in time for the closing ceremonies, even though I haven't finished yet, I'm quite pleased with myself. I know I will finish this one and it's a milestone for me.
Meanwhile, I continue to start projects, finish projects, and give most of my knitting away as gifts, all of which makes me a very happy knitter indeed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener

Why is it whenever I'm at work, I think of all the things I could accomplish if only I were home? And then when I get home, none of those plans actually materialize? I either flop on the couch and read, do the crossword puzzle, or knit, or I log on to the computer and browse blogs to see all the cool things everybody else is doing. Or the absolute worst, I spend an hour or so on the phone talking about all the things I need to do at work.

The same thing happens when I'm out of town. I think about all the stuff I could get done at home and yet many times when I'm home, I dream of hitting the road, taking a trip, being somewhere else.

What is it about human nature that makes us (or at least me) do that?

For instance today during my break at work, I scanned three Everyday Food magazines for dinner ideas, made my list, stopped at the store, and yet now that I'm home? On the computer. Hungry, but not hungry enough I guess. Truthfully, my plans were changed because Steve and I needed to do run an errand and because of that, we decided to eat out, but still, this happens a lot.

I've really slacked off cooking lately for a variety of reasons, but one of them has to do with boredom. Cooking the same old standbys has led our meals to deteriorate even further to cereal for dinner. Two nights in a row. On the weekend. Sad.

So today, I planned and purchased the ingredients for the following meals:
  • Vegetable Pad Thai
  • Braised Chicken w/ Orange and Scallions
  • Lemony Smashed Potatoes
  • Spatchcocked Chicken w/ Tomatoes
  • Spring-Vegetable Couscous w/ Chicken (leftover from the spatchcocked chicken)

Sounds delicious, no? These are all from the May, 2009, and May, 2010 issues. I'll keep you posted on the details as we get to them.


Thanks to Caffeine Girl's blog, I found out about this fun blogging event. Thought I'd give it a whirl.

Here's Monday's topic.

Starting Out

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

I actually did a little knitting when I was a youngster, something called broomstick lace, which was taught to me by a neighbor lady. I had big plans to make a blanket with mint green and pink acrylic yarn. I don't remember what happened to the many lengths I was able to complete, but as it was acrylic yarn, I'm sure it's around somewhere.

I decided to learn to knit as an adult for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I've always liked to do crafts, doing cross-stitch when I was first married and sewing when my girls were little, but after I started teaching, I stopped crafting as much. When I was 43 years old, I developed high blood pressure and after doing some research, found that knitting had some of the same effects on the brain and blood pressure as meditation. Being somewhat ADHD, I wasn't able to grasp the art of meditation, but chose to knit instead. I spent about nine months reading about knitting and buying little bits and bobs of yarn and needles. Finally a nice yarn store owner made me sit down and knit garter stitch until I got the hang of it. My first scarf was a bit of a mess but I wore it proudly (and the trendy yarn hid most of the mistakes). I had to go back to the store so she could bind it off and cast on for another for me, which she was kind enough to do. True to my obsessive nature, I knit only scarves for almost a year, but I was happy doing it, despite other people's suggestion that I might want to branch out a bit.

Eventually I visited another yarn store, and the owner, Jeanne, had such cute and simple projects displayed that I finally took the leap to making something other than scarves. My first non-scarf project was a ribbon yarn purse, not particularly useful, but very, very pretty. And I've been knitting ever since. I'm less adventurous than a lot of knitters out there (my daughter for example), but the blogging world has been a fabulous source of inspiration, tempting me out of my safety zone. And I have the WIPs to prove it!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I was cleaning out a section of a closet last weekend and found a small box containing a card deck of Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements. His book is divided into four main concepts:

  1. Don't Make Assumptions

  2. Be Impeccable With Your Word

  3. Don't Take Anything Personally

  4. Always Do Your Best

It's been a couple (five?) years since I read the book and apparently I also bought a deck of cards to use as daily or weekly affirmations/reminders. I think the main concepts were written on cards to make them portable but I'm thinking I could also use them as writing prompts.

And since I seem to have been extra sensitive this week to coworkers' comments, I think I'll start with a card from the Don't Take Anything Personally stack.

  • Ignore the Opinions of Others: Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don't take it personally. Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so whatever they think about you is not about you, but it is about them.

Good advice to remember I think. Except I have trouble remembering it. Maybe I should put the cards in my lunch bag so I can see it a couple of times a day? Anyone have a suggestion for keeping an intention front and center during the day? Because that's how I see this exercise, as trying to incorporate a positive intention into my daily-ness. And I don't think I was particularly successful at it this week. Hmmm.

Just read this blog and it reminded me of when my girls were little. As we started getting busy with preschool and library story times and all the other things one does as a stay at home mom, I realized I wanted to make sure we took time to slow down and just be, so I tried to have one day a week be "jama day", a day to stay in our pajamas and read and relax and slow down, without doing chores or errands or any of the other things that cause mamas of little ones to stress out and forget the reason we stayed home in the first place. It was nice remembering those days. I know my girls remember days like that even now, despite the fact that they're 21 and 26 years old.

I'll try and get some photos this weekend, despite the weather forecast of cloudy and rainy. I'm still working on the baby blanket squares although I need to quit and work on some washcloths for my mom's Mother's Day gift. I want to make a trio for her in pastel colors, her favorite. So far I messed up the first and second one, so I'm behind schedule. (how does one mess up a washcloth pattern? You'd be surprised how easy it is.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I have got to stop going to the thrift store! Apparently I have no self control! I stopped by the Hope House thrift store yesterday since I was downtown and found some more marvelous fabrics that I couldn't bear to pass up. I would hate to know how much I've spent in my quest to use thrifted fabrics to make a bathroom mat or two.

Since I have all of these great fabrics, I may make a few of these. Or these. This looks like something my oldest daughter would make and wear.

My youngest daughter sent me this link; it's something we did when they were younger. Lots of fun plus they were terrific party bag favors. I love it when the girls reminisce about some of the activities we used to do together.

These would help satisfy my love for school supplies and journals. And this would be useful.

And wouldn't this be a cute gift for gardeners?

Maybe I could make this with some of the driftwood I keep bringing home from the beach! Speaking of the beach, I sure wish I had taken my camera with me today. I saw a very unusual sand sculpture--male genitalia, complete with a few surprising details! Maybe it's just as well I didn't take a picture, for I would have posted it and I probably don't need to bump my blog to an R rating. But I'm going to regret missing that photo.

For my last link, maybe it's just me, but I think these are kind of creepy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tired on a Tuesday

Being back at school doesn't leave me much time for knitting. By the time I got home last night, ate dinner, took a walk on the beach, and caught up on some grading, it was almost bedtime.
The walk was worth it though. It was low tide, so this pipe was exposed. It's covered with seaweed and barnacles. Here's a closeup of one of the piling caps. There wasn't too much activity out at that time, although the plovers were feeding.
I did see a runner and his dog,and a lovely, older couple strolling hand in hand.
Steve was lucky he didn't go with me on this walk, as I found a massive piece of driftwood I would have loved to have brought home, but since it was just me, it wasn't happening. Isn't it gorgeous?
By the way, I haven't seen much about the MS&W Festival on anyone's blog yet, but Steve and I are planning to go. This will be my first trip there and I'm hoping it's not anti-climatic after my fabulous Rhinebeck experience! Seriously though, I'm sure there's no way it'll let me down. For one thing, Steve & S are going with me and for another, there will be yarn! Sounds like a win-win to me.
Tonight, I'm skipping the walk and just relaxing, and since Steve is out of town, I'll probably veg out in front of the television and catch up on some knitting. I'm finishing up the first basketweave block for the baby blanket; this will make block number five. So cute.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Squirrels, Sunshine, and Yarn

Remember the bird feeder damage? Well the squirrel went and pried the bottom out of the feeder one day this week. I can just picture him standing underneath it with his squirrel mouth wide open and his little pot belly filling up with nuts and seeds. And lying down after in a gluttonous, glazed eye state. Let's see what he does with this one. It's a sock feeder; not pretty and probably not squirrel proof, but I'm hoping the birds get some of the seed before he comes back.

Here's that lovely piece of driftwood I found yesterday. Not sure where on the deck it'll end up, as I'm constantly moving things around out there.
I love the dappled look of the sunlight filtering through the new leaves on the tree that shades our deck.
Here's the new yarn I bought yesterday for the baby blanket.

Doesn't it look pretty in this basket?

Here are the four squares I've done so far. The pink one just needs bound off and then I'll be onto square number five. Not sure which stitch pattern I'll pick next, but boy, I'm having fun with this project.

Tomorrow I go back to work. I must say, I'm actually looking forward to it, although I'm sure I'll be wondering why by Wednesday.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back to Normal

I'm finally feeling more like myself after this past week of medical stuff. I think the fact that they checked my heart scared me a little more than I realized at the time. I think I process that stuff slower than my family like me to do. My mom was threatening to come over today and drag me outside if I hadn't have done it on my own. Tough love, that's my mom.

Steve and I got up early and went for bagels this morning and as soon as we got home I took a nap on the couch. We went to the thrift store after I got up, but I only bought one more sheet to add to my pile. I'm looking for some type of non-traditional nightstand to put in M2's room, the room I'm now using for sewing, but I didn't find anything. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for but I'll know it when I see it.

Afterwards, I went to KnitWits to use up a birthday gift card and was lucky enough to find that they carry Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, which is what I decided to use for the textured baby blanket I'm knitting. I'm on square number four already; I love this project!! It's perfect for my attention span and it's encouraging me to play with color as well as some new stitches. It's really like making a sampler, each square a different swatch. Well, actually the pattern calls for two squares of each but you can change the colors to mix it up. (I took some photos but the colors didn't show up well; I'll take another picture tomorrow in the daylight.)

When I got home, Steve and I walked on the beach before dinner. I found another fabulous piece of driftwood for the deck that he was kind enough to lug home for me. I'm getting quite a collection going. Dinner was fish tacos with homemade coleslaw (cabbage with lime juice and a little mayonnaise) and black bean hummus. Again. I swear that seems to be the only meal I make these days. Unless you count cereal or cheese sandwiches. And now Steve's doing the dishes--a perfect day indeed!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Giveaway

Since I was going through my knitting, I decided to offer up a couple of gifts I found in the finished object collection.

First, two cotton bags. I made quite a few of these a couple of summers ago and for some reason, these two are still hanging around. They're small, but great for carrying keys, sunglasses, and a few other things, or they might be nice for little girls to use. I used the good cotton, for these, Plymouth Yarn's Fantasy Naturale. You may have both if you wish, just let me know. This is a cell phone cosy made out of Peaches and Creme cotton. It doesn't have a closure but you can add one if you like. I made it as an example when I taught a knitting class to middle schoolers a couple of years ago.

Finally, these are made from the Saartje's Booties pattern, but I think they're too small for a baby; I'm sure my gauge was off. But they'd be nice for a doll I imagine, if you don't mind adding the snaps, buttons, or some other way to keep them on the feet.

If no one wants these, they're going to go to the thrift store, so let me know in the comments if you're interested and I'll be glad to mail them to you!

By the way, has anyone seen this watch? I love it!! If I didn't already have a boxful of beautiful watches already that need batteries, I'd be seriously tempted.

WIP Solidarity

After reading Caffeine Girl's post this morning, I decided to document my WIPs. And defend them, for they are legion.

But first, a finished object: the Hokie baby hat for my coworker and her husband, who are rabid Hokie fans.

This is the sweater for the same coworker, and as you can see, it's almost done. All that's left is to seam the sides and sleeves, and add about four rows of neck finishing. And some kind of closure, maybe the bobbles that are recommended? Or snaps with buttons.

This is my new favorite. I cast on for this as soon as I found out about another friend's pregnancy, her first. The pattern is from Itty Bitty Nursery (I love Susan Anderson's designs!) and I'm going to use Mission Falls 1824 cotton. It takes 25 squares, which should be perfect beach knitting I think. Doesn't it look fun? I'm on square #2.

This is the Noro sock I've been working on for awhile; I keep it in the car for when I'm stuck somewhere (which isn't often, hence the lack of progress). But it's a keeper, no matter how long it takes me.

This is the beginning of a sock for Steve, although I probably won't work on it much until summer is over, since it's wool. And kind of boring, even with the color changes.

Here I have the modified Purl scarf. Not much drive to work on this right now because I won't get to use it for months. So in the trunk it'll reside for awhile.

Same with the sweater, although I should keep going on this as it's so close to being done. Especially if I decide on 3/4 length sleeves.

I have no idea how long this baby sweater has been in the trunk, but I should put it at the top of the queue as it's well over half way done. Soft mint green with white. Kind of unisex?

This is the Airy scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I think it was my first attempt at lace knitting, but I don't know anyone who'd use it. I don't know if I should frog it (if I can, Kidsilk Haze isn't cooperative that way) or just finish it and gift it.

This Noro scarf is headed for the frog pond for sure. I alternated it with some heathered wool that is really too scratchy for neck comfort, plus I think the needle size is too large; I don't like the way it looks.

Same fate awaits this baby hat. I double stranded two types of yarns, but the effect is very helmet like, stiff and not at all baby soft. Plus it's pretty large.

Here's another nearly completed baby boy sweater. Went for classic here and I should definitely finish it. All that's left are sleeves and neck finishing.

Same with this Berroco project, a cabled purse that my patient daughter, M2, picked out at least three or four years ago. I learned how to cable on this project and all that's left is to seam the connecting strip to the front and back and find a suitable handle. No excuses as to why this has sat in the trunk for so long. It's kind of sad really. Must finish soon!!

This is the first sweater I attempted and it's a bottom up that's at the armpit point, so I need to concentrate to figure out how to divide. It was supposed to be a front and back worked back and forth but I thought I'd modify it so I could knit in the round and now I'm stuck on the math. But my skills have improved over the last four years so I probably could do it, plus this is a cap sleeve summer top in cotton, so if I finished it, it just might be wearable.

I always have a washcloth going; this is the ballband one from Mason Dixon. Planning on making three for my mom for Mother's Day and she loves the pastels.

I started this sock on the plane trip to New York using the Spud & Chloe I bought in February. I'll probably frog it cause I really wanted to use this yarn for a fancier sock pattern. Something lacy or leafy. Something interesting.

So that's it. If you stuck with me this far, I must say I'm surprised that I don't have more projects than these started. And doing this exercise was useful since it helped me decide which projects needed to be frogged and which projects are ready to be finished. And although I often feel guilty about starting so many things, I think I'm going to release the guilt. After all, this knitting thing is supposed to bring me joy, and it does, so if starting fifteen projects is what I want to do, then so be it. Keep on knitting!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Well, the procedure went very well and I'm home on the couch, dropping off to sleep every so often as the drugs wear off. Turns out I have three ulcers, a small, medium, and a large one. I'll continue the medication I started taking on Tuesday and go back for another endoscopy in eight to ten weeks to make sure I'm healed/healing. All in all, not the worst scenario. Thank you for all your well wishes, it means a lot.

And now the New York photos from last week's trip!
I don't know why, but seeing the subway train I'm on curve around in front of me fascinated me. This is the Astoria stop.
I don't remember the store/gallery this was in, but it's a bathtub. Can you believe it?
My friend, L, is a huge Kate Spade fan, so she was in heaven here. This is our martini lunch at Jane's. We had the waitress take our picture. I think that was my second, which explains the way I look. In retrospect, I'm sure the vodka wasn't good for me, but it felt good at the time!Now here's the type of store I love being in, as does my dear daughter. We were in Purl; the last time I'll be in that location, as they are moving this week! Can't wait to go back and see their new digs.The rest of the day we spent walking around outside enjoying the spring weather and sights. This is the Reading Room in Bryant Park. Isn't that a cool idea? They even provide newspapers and magazines as well as lots of places to sit and read outdoors. I love that.Nothing says spring like daffodils and tulips.And I don't know why I love the NY Public Library lions so much but I do. The tulips are so pretty here too.

Even though it was a fast trip, it was a great one. I probably won't go back again until either late summer or early fall, as M will be visiting me here in June. But that's okay, cause summer in the city can get kind of unpleasant.

Now I'm going to knit a few rows and then probably take another nap. Hope your Thursday is a good one.