Time to Lean In

"The next time you lose heart and you can't bear to experience what you're feeling, you might recall this instruction:  change the way you see it and lean in."
                                                                                                              --- Pema Chödrön


It's time for me to do a little . . . leaning in.  

I'll be back when I can. 

(I took this photo at an incredible garden we visited in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Someday, I'll tell you all about it.)

Oh . . . K!

When I read the Ten on Tuesday prompt for this week . . . Ten Words to Describe Yourself (with the added caveat that all the words must begin with the same letter as your name) . . . I snorted.  Out loud.

Because there are so few adjectives that begin with K.

(Let alone those that might describe ME.)

I actually had to pull out the dictionary.

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So, here I am.  With a K:

  1. Kamikaze (It's that RISK thing.)
  2. Keen (The "eager" definition, not the "sharp or pungent" definition.)
  3. Keeper (At least Tom thinks so.)
  4. Kempt (As in the oppostive of UNkempt.)
  5. Kerfuffled (Because it happens sometimes.)  (And besides ... it's fun to say.)
  6. Keyed up (Not always, but sometimes.)
  7. Kick-ass (Oh yeah, baby.)
  8. Kind (Generally.)
  9. Knitter (Although not so much lately.)  (But still.)
  10. Knowledgeable (About some things, at least.)

Okay.  So that wasn't so hard after all.  (Thanks Merriam-Webster!)

How about YOU?  Can you describe yourself using words that begin with the first letter of your name?


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Chew On It

My sister and I make a pretty good travel team.  

For example, she is Always Prompt.  I am not.  Together, we're a bit on the later side of "on time."  

She is good at reading maps.  I tend to rely too much on my intuition.  (As in . . . I think we should go THIS way.)  Together, we still get lost -- but tend to find our way for the most part.  

She is a thoughtful and cautious planner.  I tend to just wing it.  Together, we hit that middle ground of staying safe while having a bit of adventure.

But when it comes right down to it, I'm older.  

And bossier.

So, while in Orkney, I suggested a tour of the Highland Park distillery.  (Strongly suggested.)  (Maybe even demanded.)  (Ahem.  Older sister.)  You see, she has never tried whisky.  I love whisky.  I hoped we might meet in the middle.

(In truth, I did not have to put on my bossy pants; she was totally game to go.)


The tour was fascinating.  (Also incredibly charming.  The flower boxes and container gardens just pop in moody-broody Scotland.  See?)


We learned a lot on our tour.  Things like . . . Highland Park is the northern-most whisky distillery in Scotland.


And . . . Highland Park is one of the few distilleries that still malts their own barley.


They also use locally cut peat.  And they shovel it by hand.


We learned a lot about barrels and flavors and timing and how long whisky really lasts.


And, finally, we visited the Tasting Room.


Here, we learned all about the various selections (we had samples of 15-, 18-, 21-, and 25- year old Highland Park whisky).  We also learned that to properly enhance and truly enjoy the full taste of whisky, you need to chew it.

Yes.  Chew.

Somewhat like gargling ... but not quite the same.


Before . . . 


After . . . 


Let's just say . . . YUM.  Chewing really does enhance the flavor!

(My sister?  Not so much.  She was a very good sport about it though!)  

(And I'm sure she'd want me to point out that she had no reservations about trying the whisky.  She even chewed it.  It just wasn't her cup of tea glass of red wine.)


Another thing we learned about whisky?  It's whisky (no e) if it's distilled in Scotland; whiskey (with an e) if it's distilled in Ireland.  (I always wondered, and never bothered to look it up.)


And then . . . it was time for us to leave the Orkney Islands.  

I had been hoping to see a puffin or two while we were there, but did not.  We did, though, see a pod of porpoises swimming alongside the ship as we left the Islands.  So lovely to see!  (I didn't even try to photograph them.  It was such a treat to just watch and enjoy.)


Have a great weekend!


Visiting the Orkney Islands

(It's been a weird week here.  So. Let's just get back to the travelogue, non?)

After Edinburgh, our ship headed north . . . to the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.  


We docked in Kirkwall - the largest city in the Orkney Islands.  While the area is filled with Viking ruins (which would be fun to visit, sure), my sister and I opted to stay right in Kirkwall (so we could also fit in a tour of the Highland Park whisky distillery later in the day).

In Kirkwall, we really experienced the moody, broody Scotland of our imaginations!


First, we visited St. Magnus Cathedral, founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney 1108–1117 by Earl (later Saint) Rögnvald Kali.



The inside of the cathedral was just awesome.  So . . . old.  So much history.  And a really interesting sampling of gravestones embedded in the church walls!


(Lots of skulls.  Lots and lots of skulls!)

After visiting St. Magnus, we just walked across the road to see the ruins of the Bishop's Palace (here with the steeple of St. Magnus in the background) . . .


and the Earl's Palace (just next door and across another road).


It is really pretty awesome to stand in these ruins . . . and imagine what life might have been like when the palaces were vibrant and full of people.


The views from the top of both palaces were amazing.  (Interesting thing about the Orkney Islands:  although there are trees planted in town, the islands themselves have no trees at all!  You can kind of see this in my photos -- out on the horizon. . . absolutely bare.)



(And what's more amazing - refreshing, actually . . . is that they allow folks to climb super-steep and narrow spiral staircases - dark, too - to the top of the ruins.  No signing waivers; no liability warnings.)

Going down. . .


We were happy to spend a bit of time wandering the main street of Kirkwall (a town of about 9,000 people).


It was just charming.  Welcoming and comfortable.  


Both my sister and I remarked that Kirkwall . . . felt like a place we might actually like to live!

We found many, many hand knits for sale in the shops in Kirkwall.  Lots of lovely fair isle -- sweaters and mittens and hats and socks.  Yarn shops, too.  Both my sister and I bought hand knit sweaters.  (And we actually needed to wear them!)  Here's mine . . . 


(For you knitters - it's a Gansey made of Shetland wool; much the same weight as Loft.)  

I'll tell you more about the fabulous background for this photo in a couple of days (hint: it's the Isle of Skye) and show you my sister's sweater -- but first . . . a trip to the Highland Park whisky distillery.

Stay tuned! 


Weekending: More Than You Bargained For


How was your weekend?

Such a typical, normal start to a Monday morning between friends.

(But sometimes you get more than you bargained for.  Y'know?)


My weekend started out pretty well.  All the usual weekend activities . . . gardening, a swim workout at the pool, wine on the patio.  

There was a date with Tom on Saturday afternoon.  (We went to see the new Jason Bourne movie.)  (Which is actually much like all the old Jason Bourne movies.)  (Only maybe not so novel.)

Sunday, though?

Not so much.

It started with a bang.  (Not my story to tell.)  

And then things went downhill.

Like . . . really downhill.


We have a pretty significant grass slope in our front yard.  As I headed down the hill to check out some massive weeds (I could see them from my front window), I slipped on the very wet grass (we had a lot of rain this weekend) and fell.

I screwed up my knee.  (My bad knee.)

Rest and ice will help.  But, really?  I don't need this in my life right now.  (Or ever.  Y'know?)

But it didn't stop me from rockin' out last night . . . 


At the Boston 40th Anniversary concert.  (Yep.  40th anniversary.  Time flies.)


This weekend was WAY more than I bargained for.

(And instead of heading up north today . . . I'm searching for Brian's old crutches.  So I can really rest that stupid knee.)

How was YOUR weekend?

Right Now - July 2016

July ... has just flown by in a flash!  (Probably because I was gone for half of it. . . )


I still feel like I'm buried deep in "catching up" mode, but there are lots of other things going on, too.  Here's what's happening . . . RIGHT NOW:

Watching:  Although I'm keeping up with various convention speeches, I'm not watching any TV in real time. I am, though, watching the weeds grow in my garden; every day more and more.  

Reading:  I just finished The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.  This one was short-listed for the Bailey's Women's Prize this year -- although I must admit to wondering why for the first 100 pages.  In the end, though, it was delightful, and I highly recommend it.  Now I'm reading The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, the eventual winner of the Bailey's Women's Prize this year.  More Bingos are coming!

Knitting:  No changes since I shared a peek inside my knitting bag on Wednesday!

Humming:  This one . . . 


Drinking:  Lots of water.  It's been so very hot here . . . 

Itching to:  Dig out a little "extra" patch in my garden border and replant a few things.  But.  It's been so very hot here . . . 

Needing to:  Oh. My. Goodness.  If I don't catch up with all my paperwork, I'll be buried alive at my own desk.  Soon.


Delighted by:  My little garden ponds.  Moving water is a delight in the height of summer.

Looking forward to:  A week up north (next week); I need another get-away already.

Planning:  I have a Big Idea.  But it's still in its very beginning stages.  So that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

Celebrating:  Improvement and baby steps.  (At this point, I'll take what I can get.)


How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

A Peek Inside My Knitting Bag

It occurred to me . . . that I haven't posted anything yarn-related since early May.



Because I haven't been knitting much, that's why!

Shall we take a little peek into my knitting bag?

First, there's this mess.


It's a cardigan - this pattern, knit in Berroco Indigo (which is a surprisingly wonderful and soft cotton).  The knitting is was moving along quite nicely.  Until life got in the way.  Now, I can see that I'm somewhere in a short row section.  Where?  Who knows.  And I also spilled coffee on it last week (actually, I spilled coffee into my knitting bag, where this was languishing).  So kind of a mess.  But worth picking up again.  (Soon.)

And then ... there's this.


That's clue #1 of Kirsten Kapur's TTL Mystery Shawl, now called Thistle Rambles.  I usually love to knit lace in the summer.  Over the years, though, I've discovered that there are Times to Knit Lace -- and there are Times to NOT Knit Lace.  I'm in one of the latter times right now, so the rest of the clues are going to have to wait.  (But I will pick this up again, because this shawl is a stunner. Like this one.)

And then, there's this.


I started this scarf on the plane to Copenhagen.  I knit on the plane.  I knit on the ship.  I knit on the plane again.  Now that I'm home, if I take a project out of my knitting bag, it's this one.  Easy.  Fairly mindless (although you wouldn't believe how often I forget how to count to 5. . . ).  Endlessly entertaining (with those color changes).  

Knitting might be slow right now, but it's there.  Mostly in my knitting bag.  But there.

How about you?  What'cha working on?




Keep it Cool

I don't know about where you live, but where I live . . . it's been hot, Hot, HOT!  Steamy hot.  

This week, Carole asks us . . . How to keep cool in the summer's heat?


  1. Get in the water -- the beach, a lake, or a pool
  2. Find a shady spot when you're outside
  3. Drink plenty of water
  4. (Or a cold beer)
  5. (Or a crisp glass of chardonnay)
  6. Turn on the air conditioning - and use the fans
  7. Wear loose, light clothing
  8. Stop cooking -- and eat cold foods instead
  9. (Like ice cream!)
  10. (Or Creamsicles!)

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How about YOU?  How do you keep cool during the summer's heat?


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