Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Past and The Future

When Meredith was little, I could give her a small pack of gummy bears and she would entertain herself by playing with them and making up stories about them. I just saw these adorable twig chairs thanks to whip-up's list of links; I can't imagine how much fun Mere would have making these! (As it turns out, she just told me she did make twig chairs, although not quite as sturdy as these are.)

I'm really starting to dread my foot surgery. I just spoke with my cousin who told me that orthopedic surgeries are some of the most painful type. Reading this article didn't exactly ease my concerns either. I am going to have the surgery on a Friday, and then I have to be off my foot for at least the following work week, a total of ten days. I'm hoping I can channel some of my daughter's ability to entertain herself, but I feel I'm out of practice. I know I have reading, knitting, the internet, and dvds, which should be plenty of entertainment, but I don't know if I can do it for that long without going crazy. Isn't it funny how one always thinks, "if I only had the time. . . ." and then when we do have the time, we complain about it? Or is that just me?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The view to the east: To the west:

Someone digging out:

Just because it's beautiful:

Back to normal:

I thought these would be lovely, after all of the hurricane photos. Courtesy of Steve, my surrogate photographer.

Bye-Bye Irene!

Just a quick post to let everyone know we are fine. We were so fortunate; we only lost power for a couple of hours, got it back during the night, and as far as I can tell, we had no property damage. It's sunny and clear here now. Thanks for all of your good wishes, thoughts, and prayers.

Now we can enjoy the beautiful weather.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene, I Don't Think I Like You

I have been out of sorts every since yesterday afternoon when I found out I need foot surgery after all. After spending eight weeks in an annoying boot for the entire months of July and August, I'm going to be in it at least eight more weeks. It's making me cranky and on edge.

But I didn't really make the connection that some of my antsy-ness is also due to waiting for Irene. Thankfully, Dominique articulated those feelings for me.

I've done everything that I can to prepare; bought a ridiculous amount of water, a couple of extra flashlights, filled all my plastic containers with water and put them in the freezer, bought too many groceries, filled the gas tank, and washed all the clothes in the house. Steve had the job of putting all of our outside stuff in the garage and trying to avoid my crankiness. I'd say the second task was the hardest one on him.

And now I need to sit down and try to relax before I spin out of control. Maybe do a little knitting to help me find my happy place. Thank you for all of your good thoughts and warm words. See you on the other side!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes You're the Windshield, I'm Feeling Like the Bug

Damn. As if the impending hurricane isn't enough, my doctor has decided that my broken foot needs surgery. At the beginning of the school year. Probably the worst time for me to miss work.

I Forgot About the Fire

I forgot to mention the third local weather phenomenon in my last post: The Great Dismal Swamp Fire, which is so large that it now can be seen from space. The air quality is terrible today, which is one reason that our area is actually hoping for some significant rain from Irene. And it appears she is still heading our way, although it will probably bounce off the Outer Banks of North Carolina and veer a little bit to the east.

The girls and I had a great time thrift store shopping last weekend. As a matter of fact, it was so much fun that we went twice. Meredith and I focused on sheets and fabrics, while Melissa and Stephanie primarily went for the clothing. One of the projects that came together beautifully was the completion of a purse for Melissa. I had completed the knitting of it at least a year ago, but it needed a strap and a lining. Mere bought a linen shirt and used it to make the lining, and Melissa picked out the coolest belt to repurpose as the strap. It was definitely a labor of love and a group effort, and she loves it. The next time she stops by, I'll take a photo of the finished product.

The only other "field trip" that Meredith and I went on (if you don't count grocery shopping), was a visit to a new-ish yarn store in the area, The Yarn Club. It was a beautifully stocked store with a very friendly owner. Mere picked out a couple of skeins of MadelineTosh Merino Light; the candlewick (yellow-gold) one almost glows, it's so saturated with color. They are a gift for her for Christmas, which means I get to enjoy looking at them until then!

Hope your day is a good one!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes. Kind of Weird.

Seems like we had a bit of an earthquake tremor here today; coming in at 5.9 on the Richter scale. And a hurricane is supposed to be heading our way, due in on Saturday, according to NOAA, but we never get earthquakes.

Somebody really doesn't want us to start school on time this year.

Weird times indeed.

Weekend Fun. . . . . .Now An Empty Nest

This weekend was a whirlwind! At one point we had all four daughters plus one friend in our tiny little house and now, I've got nothing. I didn't even take pictures this weekend, we were so busy just being together.

We had laughter, food, crafting, thrift store shopping, talking, movie watching, knitting, staying up late, sewing, yarn shopping, and more food. And lots and lots of fun.

Yesterday, Steve and I took Mere to the train station, then drove Stephanie back to her apartment in Richmond. The three of us ate lunch at Garnett's, an adorable little restaurant.
The place was so small, this is the width of the place at one end. It widens, but not much; in fact, I counted the number of chairs and it can only seat twenty-four people, including the counter. Maybe that's why they have these five chairs outside.Richmond is noted for its many small restaurants, and we try to find a different one each trip. Most of the time the food is unique and delicious, and this was no exception. I had a white bean sandwich, called the WBLT, with a cold black-eyed pea salad in a grapefruit vinegarette that tasted wonderful.

When we got home, the house was so quiet that I took a three hour nap.

This week is my last week before starting work/school again, so of course that means I'm trying to get everything done all at once, in addition to trying to get my sleep habits back to normal. It's funny, but every year when summer starts, I stay on a fairly normal schedule until August, at which point I start staying up later and later, and napping to catch up. A habit that makes going back to work quite difficult. Not the smartest plan, but it does seem to be a pattern.

Hope your week is a good one!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So Many Books.......

Reading is, and always has been, a huge part of who I am. Steve thinks I read indiscriminately, but that isn't really true. I think it's more accurate to say that I read a wide range of genres.

I would love to read more classics, but wasn't sure why I rarely do, until I read Jane Brocket's post and started thinking about it. She wrote that we already know the synopses of so many of the stories, that it seems unnecessary for us to actually read the work (I'm summarizing, please read her post). While I agree her reason is partly true for me, I know that every time I see a movie made from a book I've already read, it leaves me, at best, slightly dissatisfied with all the nuances that were left out. And yet, the only classic I've read over the last couple of years has been Anna Karenina. And that was mainly on a dare from Steve (I'm so competitive!). I think the main reason I hesitate to pick up a classic is that the writing styles are so different from modern day fiction. The bottom line is they simply take more of my concentration and time. And that's an embarrassing reason. So. First up is Elizabeth Gaskill's Wives and Daughters. Mainly because I already own it. Then I plan to read through Jane Austin, starting with one of the ones that hasn't been made into a BBC series (although, heaven help me, I do love them so.)

Just as soon as I finish The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. And believe me, this isn't a quick read either. But fabulous, as all her books are. And maybe that's another reason I have trouble starting a classic. All the wonderful books that are being written every day. As the t-shirt says, "So many books, so little time." Isn't it great??

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Yippee! Meredith is coming for a visit! By Friday night, the house will be full of girls.

Minus the snow and the four-legged beastie girl, Olivia.

Not sure what Steve is going to do. . . . . . run for cover, possibly.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cane Sugar Mitts & a Hawk

Does this look like a hawk to you? A closeup, as he sits on our fence. Steve was in the sunroom and luckily I got there in time with my camera to catch him.

I've been feeding the finches this summer, but for the last week or two, I haven't seen any. I think I know why.

I am participating in a KAL for Larissa; isn't this a cool color combo? My colors in the photo are almost right; the solid portion is Berroco Vintage in sunny, which I think looks like gold, and actually matches one of the colors in the Koigu. Pretty cool design, but then hers always are. I love how she encourages you to try new things. I know for a fact that I never would have picked these two yarns to go together without this pattern. Check out her KAL groups.

And by the way, did you get your new Knit Picks catalog yet? I LOVE the new Wool of the Andes TWEED!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Zinnias are such lovely flowers. We had about an inch of rain last night, so my zinnias have really perked up. They were so dry, their poor little leaves had been curling under. I went out just now and cut all the dead blossoms off, then cut some for the house as well. I tried putting them in vases, but they look best in mason jars, don't you think?

This week, I have been trying to rectify some unhealthy food choices I've made over the past spring and summer. Despite my great success with Weight Watchers last year, I have gained it all back. So I decided to start up with it again, and it's helped my mental state. Because of my broken foot, I really can't do any aerobic exercise, but I can choose what I eat. (I noticed that I started in August last year too; hmm, sensing a pattern?) So send me good thoughts.

One new thing I tried today was Leslie's sister's green smoothie recipe. While I didn't get it as smooth as hers looks in the photo, it was very tasty and filling. I used a food processor instead of a juicer, because that's what I have, and that is probably the reason.

I also decided to make another "rug", using Amanda Soule's pattern. I have made a couple for the bathroom, but decided to make a larger one for Melissa's room. As much as I love the concept, I'm still struggling with making one without puckering. I'm not sure if it's a function of the machine I'm using or if it's more to do with me. They are useful, but not as nice looking as I think they can be. Regardless, I was able to repurpose a very nice towel that had some stains on it as the bottom and a pretty, thrifted sheet. I'll have to take a photo of it later.

Meanwhile, I've also cast on for Larissa's Sugar Cane Mitts pattern, using some varigated Koigu yarn I've had for awhile.I'm not sure what my coordinating yarn choice will be, but I plan on using something in the stash.

Hope you have had a lovely weekend!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Color: Inside & Out

I don't know if you can see it or not, but there is a butterfly hovering above a pale pink zinnia in this photo. I noticed that the shadows and sunshine are getting a look of fall to them, despite the intense heat. While it makes me sad to realize summer is almost over, there's also a bit of excitement when I think about starting the new school year.

Our deck is rarely this empty, but Steve powerwashed it and hopes for below 90 degree weather this weekend so he can weatherproof it.

Now for some inside color. Long time readers have seen these baskets before, but I reorganized them and want to show them off again. Here, I've put the browns, blues, and orange/reds.

I should have cleaned up the tint from the closed curtains in this photo, but I didn't. I have my purples and greens in this basket; I didn't realize I had collected so much green yarn. I had to divide it into spring greens and aquas.

This basket is a riot of colors; I put all of my cotton yarns in here. I have quite a bit of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, most of it from when I did this baby blanket last summer.

This basket is full of neutrals. Projects for Steve, more than likely.

I have another large basket with black, white, and grey yarn, and another smaller basket with yarn that didn't fit in any of the other categories, e.g., varigated, sock, or otherwise.

Thank you for joining me on my color tour!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bits and Bobs and Mermaids

We finally got some rain here Sunday night, in the form of a thunderstorm. No matter, we'll take whatever we get. (Sometimes I feel like a farmer, given the way that I monitor the weather.)

I did manage to sort through my yarn collection yesterday, although there are a few bits and bobs left that don't seem to fit anywhere. I mostly sorted by color, with the exception of the cottons. Those I lumped all together in one large basket. And I found the second skein of the MadelineTosh yarn for my Saroyan shawl, so it's back in the project basket, awaiting a partial unraveling.

One of the books I read on my train trip was Andre Dubus' Dancing After Hours. Wow. I cannot overstate how engrossing his stories are. Because of how amazing a read it was, I reserved every book that our library owned (six of them). They had to get them out of storage, but I picked them up today and plan on disappearing into them for most of this week.

And while I was at the library, I took some pictures of the yarn-bombed mermaid.

Pretty, isn't she?Not sure what's attached to the belt....

.....but it does add a certain something. It looked like crochet to me, but I'm not positive. Still, yarn is yarn, right?

Despite the ongoing, oppressive heat, I felt like cooking yesterday, so I decided to make it a party. I made a delicious vegetable lasagna, and had Lindsay, Jon, Steph, and Melissa over for dinner. I sauteed zucchini, eggplant, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and spinach, then simmered it all with spaghetti sauce for about an hour. Oh my, but it tasted rich. And since it made two pans, we have plenty of leftovers!

Today's assignment is to get some stuff posted on craigslist to sell; stuff I photographed over a month ago but didn't manage to get listed. And do some knitting. And reading. Maybe even a nap. It's good to have goals.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Summer of the Shawls

I'm feeling much better now; pain really intensified the slightly blue way I was feeling into some major drama, but I think it's behind me now. The muscle pain is lessening and I assume my bones are trying to mend as well, with the help of calcium supplements and ultrasound therapy, in addition to keeping weight off of it.

I think one of the things that was overwhelming me is that I usually take some time in the summer to de-clutter and clean as a way to prepare for the coming school year, and I don't see that happening much this summer. I also had planned to paint the kitchen, but I'd say that's on hold as well. I'll just have to live with it, eh?

I know one thing I can do is go through my yarn stash (yes, again, why do you ask?) in the hopes of either giving some away or feeling less awash in it all. I think I feel guilty for hoarding it, knowing it's far too much for me to have on hand. I don't want plastic bins of stuff, but having it all out in the open is feeling messy. All the unfinished projects aren't helping me too much either.

This is the Manos scarf in mistake rib that I started awhile back and pick up whenever I am stuck or need something completely mindless. One skein done and only one left, which means it looks a little short to me, but I'm going to use it nonetheless. It was supposed to be a pattern by Spilly Jane, but I must have gotten off track.The Saroyan shawl out of the lovely brown and blue Madeline Tosh Vintage yarn I bought awhile ago came up short on yarn, and now that I've checked my Ravelry stash, I see that it says I bought two skeins. Another reason that I must reorganize the yarn. If I do find the second skein, I plan to knit back and do it correctly. It's too lovely a pattern and yarn to leave it like this, even if it takes longer. The yarn is gorgeous, and hopefully I really do have the second skein of it. I started this shawl using some gorgeous purple Berroco Ultra Alpaca and the pattern from my latest knitting book purchase, 10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters. It's planned for a gift, so I can't say anything about the recipient, but I know she'll love it. I'm almost at the halfway point.This is the Manta Ray shawl, and I'm using some gorgeous Malabrigo sock yarn, whose label I seem to have misplaced. Although it's on size 8 needles, it's taking awhile to grow; not sure how much longer it will take. It was great train knitting though!Speaking of train knitting, this is the project I was supposed to be knitting during the trip, but since it had been a month since I picked it up, I couldn't work out the directions again. The Stripe Study Shawl is a favorite "mindless" project for many people, but I've been stumped a couple of times and now I think I'm afraid of it. The train's rocking motion made it hard for me to study the pattern, so I gave up and brought it home virtually untouched. I'm sure I'll get back to it when I have a free morning to focus on the directions.

So it appears I'm in a shawl stage, wouldn't you say? With a little luck, time, and perseverance, I should finish a couple of them up before I head back to school. You'd think that breaking one's foot would provide lots of knitting time, but for some reason, I've not been making the most of it. Or have I?

Friday, August 5, 2011


Two of the best things about traveling by train (other than the time with my dad, of course) was seeing the scenery and talking with other people. The observation car was my favorite place to sit; it was like being in a bubble, watching the scenery pass you by. I had a few conversations in this car, but the best place to have conversations was the dining car. It was communal style dining, which meant you ate your meals with strangers, and it was really interesting. I wish I had written notes as soon as we finished each meal, because now the conversations all kind of blend together. My favorite couple was from Texas, and had been married for 62 years. They were really interesting. Although they didn't give this advice, I bet they'd agree with it: advice from a couple who have been married for 63 years, over at Amanda's place.

Here are a few of the photos I took from the train, in no particular order.

The St. Louis Arch.The Capitol Building in Washington, DC.A river in Ohio.
A busy interstate in Washington, DC. I think that's the top of the capitol building peeking over the other building.

A beautiful old building in Richmond, Virginia.

Windmills in Illinois or Indiana.

The capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

The train yard as we were pulling into Chicago.

Cornfields in Illinois.

I took many, many more pictures, but none seem to accurately convey just how mesmerizing it was to watch the scenery change as we chugged along through it all. We went through cities, woods, and fields, and even the "ugly" side of the tracks was interesting and strangely beautiful. I'm so glad I had the chance to make this trip. It was a great way to travel.