Three on Thursday, Random Style

I call this Still Life with Primer . . .

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(And, sure.  Red wine goes with everything.)

Try as I might, I've got no clever or even mildly entertaining Three on Thursday ideas this week.  How about some random instead?

1 -- The sun is shining!  This lifts my spirits in a major way.  I'm always amazed at how glorious the sun really is . . . when it shows up after a too-long hiatus.  Welcome to my world, Mr. Sunshine!  Please stick around for awhile, okay? 

2 -- We have reached the painting stage of the dining room re-do!  It's been a long haul, this project.  We'd be able to finish it up this weekend, but we won't be here.  (And I don't guess our dog-sitter will surprise us by painting another coat. . . )  Next week, though.  Just in time for a little gathering we have planned for next Friday.  (That's me.  Always cutting it right to the last moment no matter how much time I give myself up front.  I'll be hanging the pictures on the walls again as our guests arrive, just you watch.) 

3 -- Finally, this KnitStars thing that Ann and Kay are involved in sounds rather intriguing to me.  I like the selection of workshops, and feel like I could really learn some cool things from teachers I'd never have access to otherwise.  Still, I'm on the fence.  I haven't signed up.  (Early bird registration - with a special price - ends tomorrow.)  Thoughts?  Have any of you signed up?  Are you thinking about it?  

And that's a wrap . . . random style . . . on a Thursday.

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(Carole is doing a bit of boot-stompin' down in Nashville, so there is no Three on Thursday host today.)

 


Raveling Along

When I have time to pick up my knitting, I pick up my mitred square project.  It continues to delight, and I love watching it grow.

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It’s a perfect project: portable, easily memorized, and endlessly entertaining.

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Even though it doesn’t look it, the project is already at the midpoint.  It’ll be completely raveled before you know it!

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How about you?  What are you raveling right now?

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Posting on my phone today.  Hope it works...

 


G.R.U.M.P.Y.

Okay.

So I took a "personal day" yesterday and didn't blog.  Because . . . well . . . Sometimes Mondays . . . just look like the same old crap, y'know?

Same old weather.
Same old dining room project.
Same old cup of morning coffee.

Yeah.  I was not in a positive, thoughtful kind of mood.
To tell you the truth, I was grumpy.
As in G.R.U.M.P.Y.

I tried all my tricks to de-grump.  I had a nice cup of tea and thought about gratitude.  I journaled.  I meditated.  I did some yoga stretches.  I went to the gym and kick-boxed.  I knit a little and drew a little and talked to my sister on the phone.  I ran some errands and crossed things off my to-do list.  I even took a nap.

Nothing worked.
Still grumpy.

I've decided it's because this. . . 

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Crap weather.
Continuing north winds.
Cold.
For days.

I've really tried to be a good sport about all y'all's buds-and-blooms pictures.  And at first, when they started popping up on blogs and Instagram, it gave me hope.  But now, they just depress me.  Because we don't have buds on our trees yet.  No forsythia blooms are ready to explode here.  There is not a sign of life on my lilacs.  (I know.  I have had crocus blooms.  And I am grateful.  Because I know many of you further north have only snow-and-more-snow and what-am-I-even-whining-about.) (But still.)

Then!  Then. . . I saw photos of some of y'all wearing spring shoes.  And even flip-flops.  Bright pedicures reflecting the sun!  And I am still wearing boots.  (And don't even get me started on the whole sitting-on-the-patio-furniture-OUTSIDE-while-sipping-drinks situation.

It was too much.  It sent me over the edge of despair!

I'm working on it.  
I'm trying to be positive.  
To be grateful.  
To turn that frown . . . upside down. 
Because I know spring will get here, too.  (Eventually.)  The winds will switch direction at some point.  The sun will shine.  A couple of warm days will bring those buds out, nice as can be.  And the blooms will come.  And I'll be able to get the flip-flops out.

On my way to the gym this morning, I even glimpsed a little sliver of blue sky, trying it's best to peek out.

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(I took this photo at a long red light.  No worries.)

Of course, by the time I was at the gym, it was snowing like crazy and that little sliver was long gone.  But I saw it there.  For just a minute.  (It looked like . . . hope.)

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some spring blooms to take home.

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I'll make my OWN spring, damnit!

(See?)  
(G.R.U.M.P.Y.)

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Icing on the cake:  Tom and I have a little get-away planned for this weekend.  He'll be curling in a bonspiel, and he asked me to come along -- because it's in a really fun place that we both love to visit.  Traverse City, Michigan.  Up north.  Where it's snowed like . . . 100 inches or so in the last 5 days.

(I know.) 

 

 


Fridays are for Poetry

"We’re only here for a short while. And I think it’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention."
                                                                    ---Mark Strand

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One of the things I like most about poetry is its ability to translate that simple paying attention to daily life . . . into language.  For me, poetry is really is about this translation.  
Poetry makes the personal . . . universal.  
The mundane . . . meaningful.  
The traumatic . . . divine.

I have always loved the poetry of Nikki Giovanni.  She writes of the most elemental human longings and concerns . . . and makes them fresh, new, relatable.  For all of us.  She is a master of translation.  

Here is one of my favorites.

CHOICES
by Nikki Giovanni

if i can’t do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don’t want
to do

it’s not the same thing
but it’s the best i can
do

if i can’t have
what i want … then
my job is to want
what i’ve got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want

since i can’t go
where i need
to go … then i must … go
where the signs point
through always understanding
parallel movement
isn’t lateral

when i can’t express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal

i know
but that’s why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry

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Click here to read more about Nikki Giovanni and sample her poetry.
Remember, April is National Poetry Month.  Join me here each Friday in April for more poetry.


Unraveling . . . a Dining Room

No time for knitting.  No time for stitching.  But plenty of unraveling going on!

When we moved into our house back in 2003, there was late-80s wallpaper in every room.  Heavily patterned.  Lots of mauves and teals.  Everywhere.  I'm sure it was really awesome and trendy back in the day.  But by 2003 it was dated and awful.  

It took a while for Tom and I to be able to look past the wallpaper to see the promise of the layout of the house.  And it took a generous "re-decorating" offer from the former owners to sweeten the pot.  Most of the wallpaper was removed (and carpet replaced) before we even moved in.  But there were three rooms that would have to wait until later -- the master bathroom (described here), the main bathroom upstairs, and . . . the dining room.

But removing wallpaper is such a pain in the . . . neck.  And it's so expensive to have it done professionally.  So we put it off.  And off and off and off.

It's time now, though.  To just power through and git'r'dun!

Here is the dining room just before the wallpaper removal project started last Saturday. . . 

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Just a little busy, non?

The wall below the chair rail is painted; the wallpaper and the border above some really lovely crown moulding ON THE CEILING need to be removed, though. (Tom also removed the chair rail yesterday.  No more two-tone dining room.)

I found this product online, thanks to a lead from the guys who did our bathroom renovation project a couple of years ago.  (They used a professional grade product that was very much like this one.)

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It really does work as promoted.  It's far less drippy than either soaking the wallpaper down with a sprayer, or using a steamer.  (I've used both methods in past houses.)

You just lightly score the wallpaper (lightly, I learned in my first test area . . . so that you don't damage the drywall underneath), then soak the sheets and stick them to the walls for a while (in my case, it takes about 15 minutes per application).

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The wallpaper really does peel off pretty easily . . . most of the time.

Don't get me wrong -- this is still a tedious and frustrating job.  It's a lot of up-and-down on the ladder, and a lot of work.  But the results are coming much easier than my past experiences with wallpaper removal.

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And it is so satisfying to rip that paper off the walls!

Even that ceiling border is coming off with less hassle than I expected.  (Although what a pain to work upside down.)  (So much respect to Michelangelo, y'know?)

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This morning, I'm faced with the last of it.

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One good session this morning, and the wallpaper will be gone.

Just in time for . . . wall prep and priming.  
(Yippee!)

How about you?  What are you unraveling this week?

 


Fridays Are For Poetry

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."
                                                                                    --- Robert Frost

In my corner of the world, April is usually a dreary month.  I know the calendar says it's spring, and I know there are blooms happening in other parts of the country (because I've seen your pictures) . . . but here in Michigan, we remain winter-weary.   Sure.  We've got robins.  And we've had snowdrops and crocus.  Daffodils are beginning to pop up; even some early tulips.  But those are just little teases of what will come, eventually.  Right now there is snow on the ground again.  And it is cold.  And grey.  And not very spring-like at all.

Not much to love about April, really.  Not here, at least.  It's a month that seems like it should be something that it's just not.

So I'm particularly pleased that April brings me something else to celebrate (while I wait for those bursting buds and blue sky blooms and . . . heck, temperatures above the freezing mark) . . . 

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Yes!  April is National Poetry Month -- a month set aside to acknowledge and celebrate poetry's importance in our culture and our lives.  There are many goals of National Poetry Month (highlighting the legacy and contributions of poets, supporting the teaching of poetry, and encouraging the distribution and publication of poetry books, for example), but I can most easily embrace the goal of encouraging the reading of poems.

Each Friday during April, I'll be writing a little bit about poetry -- and then I'll share a favorite poem with you.  I hope maybe you'll join in, too.  Especially on Poem in Your Pocket Day (which is April 26 this year). 

May poetry bloom all month long (and maybe some flowers, too).

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Love After Love
by Derek Walcott
 
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
 
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
 
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
 
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Learn about Derek Walcott and sample more of his poetry here.

A 3-Point Pact

A couple of years ago, I started taking colored pencil drawing classes.  (We have a great art school program here in Kalamazoo - for adults and kids.  It's a year-round program with a huge variety of class offerings.  I'm so grateful.)  I've learned a lot over the years, and I've created some drawings I'm really proud of -- and some real duds, too.  

I like picking out challenging projects for myself in my classes -- because I'm there to learn and develop my skills.  Last fall, I decided I wanted to try to draw something shiny.  Something with a lot of metal in it.  (Because there is a colored pencil technique called "burnishing" that makes wax-based colored pencil drawings "shine" like metal.)

So I decided I'd draw Tom's car.

And it has been the bane of my drawing-life ever since.

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Because it is hard.  And my drawing is big.  And I'm not actually all that fond of drawing cars.  And it is taking me so very long.  And I have wanted to throw it in the trash and just be done with it many, many times along the way.

But then, something interesting happened.

My instructor (who is also a friend) asked me to teach her how to knit.

So I did.

And she is determined to make (as her first project) Jared Flood's striped scarf in two contrasting colors of Noro Silk Garden.

Although she caught on to knitting immediately (she had tried it once or twice in the past, so wasn't completely new to to the task), she struggled a bit.  Because it is hard.  And she can't fix her mistakes.  And she wasn't completely sold on the colors she chose.  And it is taking her so very long.  And she has wanted to throw it in the trash and just be done with it many, many times along the way.

Sound familiar? 

Over a glass of wine, we laughed at ourselves . . . old dogs learning new tricks.  And we made this 3-point pact with each other:

  1. We will allow ourselves time and space to learn and improve.
  2. We will ask each other for help without apology.
  3. We will throw perfection out the window (instead of our projects).

I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish my car drawing before the end of my next "semester" of colored pencil drawing class.  And she is hoping to finish her scarf in time to wear next winter.

I'll keep you posted!

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To read more Three on Thursday posts, be sure to hop on over to Carole's!