Previous month:
February 2010
Next month:
April 2010

March 2010

Dreaming of San Pedro

I'm taking a little break for a few days. . . a spring break. . . to Belize.  We'll be staying on Ambergris Caye --  near San Pedro.

Tropical the island breeze. . .    all of nature wild and free. . .    this is where I long to be. . .    la isla bonita.

See you in a week!


Matters of Content

After making my little crochet birds. . . I decided to just keep crocheting with my brightly colored stash of cotton yarn and switch over to potholders.  In fact, I decided to join the Potholder Swap on Ravelry.

Potholders 006 

I carefully read the directions for the swap. . . because you must follow the Rules of the Swap in order to participate.

Five potholders. . . same pattern.  CHECK.

Vary the colors.  CHECK.

6 - 9 inches across.  CHECK.

Double thickness.  CHECK.

Edges crocheted together.  CHECK.

Reasonably tight gauge.  CHECK.

100% cotton yarn; no blends.  CHECK.

Potholders 004

Hmmmm.  Let's go back to that last one.  100% cotton yarn; no blends.  Uh-oh.  Until I was on my last potholder, I just assumed Cotton-Ease was. . . cotton.  I didn't even check.  But it's not.  I should've guessed.  I mean, I know Wool-Ease is Not-Really-Wool.  The alarm bells should've been going off in my head. . . warning me that Cotton-Ease might be Not-Really-Cotton.  So, I'm disqualified.  Inappropriate content. 

Oh well, I still end up with five potholders.  I just won't be in on the swap.  Oops!  There's a lesson here.  When content matters. . . check the label!


Making Sense . . . of the Census

I got my census form last week.

Census 001 

Two of them, actually.  One in the mail, at my house.  One hanging on the doorknob, up at our cottage (Tom went up for a day of fishing and found it there).  The census form is simple and direct.  Unless you have two of 'em.  Then. . . the directions are a bit murky.  I know we don't double-dip.  But it's not real clear . . . what you DO.

Then, there's this:

Census 006 

In the left hand column, it instructs you - very clearly - NOT to include "college students living away from home."  Okay, clear enough. 

But then, later. . .

Census 007

it ASKS you if "Person X" lives or stays somewhere else. . . like in college housing.  Would that be. . . the person you weren't supposed to include in the first place?

Don't get me started on what to do about the fact that I have TWO census forms. . . and that we sometimes DO "live or stay somewhere else" -- like "at a seasonal or second residence." 

Simple form. . . unless you can't make any "census" of it.


Round this Week Up. Please.

This has been a busy, scrambled, emotional week.  Busy. . . well, that's self-explanatory.  Scrambled. . . adjusting to the time change (which gets me every time!) and having Erin home.  Emotional. . . well, in addition to yesterday's post, we've been riding the relationship roller coaster this week.  We cover the spectrum.  We have one kid singing "Breaking Up is Hard to do" while the other is humming "Your Love is Lifting Me Higher."  It's been quite something.  I'm ready to round this week up and move on to the weekend.

==========

First up. . . check this out! 

March 19 013 

Nothing brings a smile quite like a blooming crocus!

==========

Next . . . my Purchase of the Week!

Liberty 001 

I knew that the Liberty of London for Target line was debuting last Sunday, but I didn't have time to head over to Target to check it out right away.  I figured it would be long picked over by now, but there was actually quite a selection of items throughout the store when I was there earlier today.

Liberty 002 

Erin didn't quite share my enthusiasm, but she humored me as I picked through every Liberty for Target display I found.  (I was very excited.)

==========

Knitting has been . . . slow this week.  Not much accomplished.  My sweater looks pretty much like it did last week.  Maybe a few inches longer.  I'll probably finish up over the weekend.

Changes 006 

Since I don't have any substantial knitting content this week, check out this video clip (originally shared by Diana).  Wish I could knit that fast. . .

==========

And, because it's just been That Kind of Week, I'll end with a card I especially like.

Drifted 

Have a fabulous weekend!


All Good Dogs

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me, they are the role model for being alive."  -- Gilda Radner

Over the last few years, I've been hearing the term "companion animal" used more and more frequently as an alternative to the term "pet."   I like this term -- companion animal -- because, for me, it conveys a much deeper sense of the relationship between humans and their domesticated animal friends.

My dog, Jenny, is my companion.  My former dog, Jake (the Wonder Dog), and cats, Jelly and Jambo, were my companions.  They've been more than just pets.  So much more.

My companion animals are/have been a huge part of my life.  They're integral members of the family.  They love unconditionally.  They make me laugh.  They are. . . simply. . . my friends.

"There's just something about dogs that makes you feel good.  You come home; they're thrilled to see you.  They're good for the ego."  -- Janet Schulman

I can't really imagine life without a dog.  (Even though I love cats. . . I am, down deep, a Dog Person.)  Those soul-filled eyes.  The wet nose.  That wagging tail.  I love it all.  I love having a dog in my life.

"The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into."  -- Bruce Schimmel

And it's a really hard thing. . . when a cherished dog. . . a beloved companion . . . passes on.  And leaves us forever. 

My Mom and Dad lost their Nikki, a miniature schnauzer, yesterday.  

Nanny's birthday 047

Nikki was nearly 14 years old, so she has been part of our lives for a very long time.  She grew up with Brian. . .

Nikki and brian 2004 

she "sang" with Erin. . .

We sing opera 

she visited us at the cottage and enjoyed boat rides. . .

Nikki on boat 2005 

she knew how wheedle extra "treats" from my Mom (here she's showing Jake "the routine"). . .

Waiting for the good stuff 

and she liked wearing handknits. . .

IMG_1134 

We all have an empty place in our hearts.  Because, you see, Nikki was more than just a pet.  She was a companion.  But we know that Jake was waiting to greet Nikki in "dog heaven" -- that place where all good dogs go -- with his tail wagging; ready to romp and play and bark and show her the ropes.

"God turns clouds inside out to make fluffy beds for the dogs in Dog Heaven, and when they are tired from running and barking and eating ham-sandwich biscuits, the dogs find a cloud bed for sleeping.  God watches over each one of them.  And there are no bad dreams."  -- Cynthia Rylant



Sure Signs: A Spring Top-Ten List

I know I'm a few days early -- but I'm declaring it official here in my neck of the woods: Spring has arrived! 

How can I tell?  Here are my Top-Ten Sure Signs of Spring:

10. The seed and gardening catalogs are arriving faster than I can look at them.

March 15 004

9.  The snow has melted in my back yard, exposing months-worth of soggy, partially decayed dog poop.  (I'll spare you the photo. . . and just let you imagine this scene for yourself.)

8.  Garden Conference "season" has begun!  (Sandie and I had a great time at the West Michigan Network of Landscape Architects March Garden Day conference in Grand Haven over the weekend.)

Garden conference 001

7.  I can smell that the skunks are out of hibernation. . . but not moving quite fast enough to cross the roads without incident.

574600_skunk_1_ 

Photo courtesy of The Heart of New England.

6.  Daffodils are popping up!  This little clump is out near my mailbox.

March 15 017

5.  Other green growies (like this dwarf iris) are making an appearance in my garden.

March 15 013

4.  The robins are back!  (I finally saw my first robin of the season last Friday.  I never thought they'd get here this year. . .)

Am Robin

Photo copyright 2006 John Maskell

3.  My daughter is home for spring break (where she maintains that strange nocturnal existence so typical of college students).

Erin on break 016

2.  The clocks have sprung-forward (making me feel as out-of-kilter as the this clock looks. . .).

March 15 003

1.  My Lenten rose is soon to bloom!  I think my favorite of all spring flowers is the Lenten rose.  I'm always charmed by this beautiful flower . . . knowing that it's down there, under the snow, getting ready to bloom just for me . . . once the snow melts.

March 15 007 

I know that Spring is fickle.  I'm pretty sure we're in for more nasty weather.  But it really doesn't matter anymore.  Sure signs all around tell me. . . Spring is here!


Stranded

After my workout yesterday, when I got back to my car in the parking lot of the gym, I noticed a trail of what appeared to be anti-freeze near my car door.  My first thought -- that can't be from MY car, can it?   Closer inspection showed a fresh puddle under my car, though.  Uh-oh.  A discussion with my dad (any car issues in our family are first triaged through my dad!) suggested that the likely culprit was a hose.  Or a water pump. 

So today, my trusty Subaru is visiting my trusty mechanic.  And me?  I'm stranded.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I do have Anna with me. . . of course.

So, what am I doing?  Stranded here at home?

I'm preparing Erin's room for her spring break visit next week.

Stranded 004 

I hadn't actually cleaned up her room since she left after the holidays (I subscribe to the "why bother" school of housekeeping theory.  As in "why bother" . . . since no one is using the room right now anyway.)  But today I straightened up and changed the sheets, etc.  I hate to go into her room these days.  It's not that it's "sad" for me.  It's just that she has changed so much since she went away to college three years ago --- and her room. . . hasn't.  It's full of The Things She Left Behind.  Rubbermaid bins full of stuff she doesn't want to get rid of. . . but doesn't want, either.  Old trophies.  High school memorabilia.  Posters and photos from "another time."  Teen-age detritus.  Hideous wall painting (that, trust me, looked "so cool" when she was 14!).  SpongeBob.  It's best if I just . . . close the door.  But her room will come back to life for a few days next week --- and then she'll breeze out again. . . probably leaving more Stuff She Doesn't Want Anymore in her wake!

And I'm cleaning out and organizing my sewing/knitting room.

Stranded 007 

All I have to say is this:  Do Not Allow Me to Buy Any More Yarn.  I have yarn enough to knit for years.  (I was going to say "for the rest of my life" --- but I have new appreciation for that phrase now, and I don't use it very often.  I hope I do have time to knit every inch of yarn in my stash -- and that I actually run out at some point when I'm still around to purchase more.)  My entire approach to knitting from now on will be this:  if I want to knit something and I do not have the appropriate yarn in the required amount already sitting in my closet/plastic bin/wicker basket. . . I will find something else to knit.  I will NOT buy any more yarn.  I'm sort of disgusted with myself, but this will pass (once I close the closet doors and move on).

And I'm doing some knitting.  (Just to clarify -- the yarn for this WAS already in my closet.)

Stranded 005 

I'm going on a little vacation (somewhere warm!) later on this month, and I decided I might like a summer sweater for my trip.  This is Green Gable from Rachel Bishop (who used to Zephyr Knits, but is now Knit LuLu).  It's bright and sunny, and seems a bit out of place at this time of year.  But that's what Spring Break is all about, isn't it?  (I'm really hoping that neckline straightens out with some blocking, because it's not making me happy right now.)

I'm getting a lot of things done today.  Every once in a while, it's good to be stranded!  

==========

Purchase of the week!

I stopped in at Michael's earlier this week (before all the anti-freeze dripped out of my car) for something -- and I found THESE at the check-out counter:

Stranded 002 

CHEATERS!  For $2.99 a pair!!!!  They had lots of bright colors, sparkly bits, geometric designs -- and a lot of animal prints (giraffe, tiger, leopards and zebra) to choose from.  (I don't tend to go for the animal prints myself -- but if you do -- it was a regular SAFARI!)  Anyway, thought I'd pass the info along.  Cheaters.  Michael's.  $2.99.  Who knew?


Just Throw Anna from the Train

I listen to audiobooks when I knit, and sometimes when I walk.  But lately, I've been listening to an audiobook ALL the time.  Not because it's so engrossing (although it is one of The Greats) -- but because. . . It Never Ends.

Yes.  I'm still listening to Anna Karenina

I'm listening to Anna while I knit. . .

Listening to anna 005 

And I'm listening to Anna while I clean the bathrooms. . .

Listening to anna 009 

And I'm listening to Anna while I cook dinner. . .

Listening to anna 012 

And I'm listening to Anna while I walk the dog. . .

Listening to anna 020 

Basically, for me, it's All Anna All the Time.  At this point, I'm about 28 hours in. . . with about 12 hours remaining.  Tolstoy is brilliant . . . but he surely didn't mince words.  I'm ready for it to end.  Somebody - anybody - just throw Anna from the train!


The Real Deal

This week, Kalamazoo is playing host to the National Curling Championships

Curling natls mar 8 001 

We went to check out the action the other night.  It's kind of like watching Olympic curling on tv. . . only. . . not really.

Curling natls mar 8 002 

There are no announcers giving you the play-by-play, for example.  And there are five matches going on at the same time.  There are no "re-plays" to show you the good shots again.  And it's LOUD!  Those curlers yell directions to each other using rather unique sounds.

But it's everything you might expect of national-level curling action. 

Intense sweeping. . .

Curling natls mar 8 004

Dramatic shots. . .

Curling natls mar 8 020 

Lots of strategizing. . .

Curling natls mar 8 015 

Even some measuring!

Curling natls mar 8 024 

It was exciting to see "real" curling up close.

Curling natls mar 8 069 

But it's a slow kind of sport.  Guess how I spent my time?

Curling natls mar 8 074 

(Look at Tom and I . . . surrounded by wool!  He in his Cobblestone and me sporting my Central Park Hoodie!  Didn't notice until I just loaded the photo.)

Curling natls mar 8 012 

It was a fun night -- and a big deal here in Kalamazoo!  (And local beer, too.)