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March 2012

Beats the Alternative!

So many times, I hear people . . . dispair. . .  that it's their birthday.

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Another year older.

No spring chicken.

Past their prime.

Beats the alternative.

Well.  Today, let me assure you . . . having a birthday . . . and turning a year older. . . is a privilege.  Not a problem.

 

It's my birthday, too, yeah!

I never used to like to celebrate my birthday.  I didn't want to draw attention to myself.  I still don't, really.  But I do like to acknowledge the day now -- more than ever.

We're gonna have a good time!

I'm going to fill my day with things I love doing.  My turbo-kick class.  Lunch with a friend.  A little knitting.  Maybe some gardening (a first for my birthday!).  Dinner with Tom.  And, tomorrow, a birthday dinner with my family -- where my Mom will make me the same birthday dinner I've requested since about age 8 (lasagne, "grass salad," and German chocolate birthday cake).

Take a cha-cha-cha-chance!

And I'm going to use this gift of another year . . . to try some new things, think big thoughts, move in new directions, live happy, and not waste a minute.

Because . . . getting older . . . really DOES beat the alternative!

 


Already the End of March?

This month seems to have flown by even faster than usual!  I remember March usually being a bit of a slog . . . with the weather and the itching for spring and all.  But not this year!  It flew. . . with the weather and the itching for spring and all.

Regardless, it's already time again. . . to share what's going on in my life  . . . RIGHT NOW.

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Watching . . . things pop up in my garden.  Everywhere.  Everyday.  It's not as warm as it was earlier this month, but still way warmer than usual.  Spring has sprung.

Reading . . . The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  Just opened it; can't weigh in on it quite yet, but it looks promising.

Knitting . . . Waiting for yarn to finish my colorwork bag; nearly finished with my MadelineTosh honey cowl; thinking about casting on for a lightweight, laceweight, summer cardigan.  And maybe some socks.  (Yeah.  You heard right.  Socks.)

Listening to . . . Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society, which is just heavenly and gets better with each listen.

Thinking about . . . a new camera.  Tom is getting me one for my birthday, but I need to do some research first.

Dreading . . . a couple of commitments I've made.  What was I thinking?

Planning . . . gardens!

Excited about . . . tickets to see Paula Poundstone next weekend with Tom. 

Humming . . . Firework by Katy Perry (heard it at spinning on Tuesday night and can't get it out of my head).

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Drinking . . . a very nice cab!

Itching to . . . wear my flip-flops again.  (That little summer-teaser we had earlier this month has me itching for more.)

Needing to . . . do my taxes.  Still.  (This was my "needing to" last month, too.)

Organizing . . . well, nothing.  But I need to get to work on my closet -- which is exploding with wool sweaters and boots and tights and tank tops and shorts and flip-flops.  It's as confused as I am about the season.

Inspired by . . . spring!  I'm suddenly feeling spriter, dressing brighter, cooking lighter.  I can feel it!  A new season . . . and I'm ready.

Delighted by. . . these wonderful coffee mugs by a local artist,  They capture my love of buildings, grids, and color.

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Recording . . . Mad Men.  Because I just don't have the time to watch tv right now.  At all.

How about you?  What's happening for YOU . . . Right Now?

 


Vernis, Twink, Leila, Judy, and Esther

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"Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength." -- Betty Friedan

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Over the years, I have had the great fortune of knowing many strong, powerful, big-hearted women from the generations before me.  Watching them move through their lives with grace and integrity, with good humor and a sense of beauty, have been a gift to me.  Because they have shown me that "aging" is not something to dread or fear.  No.  They have shown me that "aging" can be a new beginning, a time to GO and DO, a time to speak out and take a stand, a time to do the things you want to do!

So today, at the end of Women's History Month (and a couple of days before I turn a year older myself, I might add!) I'd like to honor Vernis, Twink, Leila, Judy, and Esther.

Vernis, who showed me that you should never stop advocating for the things you care about.  (Also, that you can really rock the wrinkles and that "pink" is a good color, no matter your age.)

Twink, who showed me that you're never too old to try something completely new and different.  (Also, that grey hair can be incredibly cool, how to throw a great party, and how to employ the "squint test" when matching colors.)

Leila, who continues to show me how to bring beauty to outdoor spaces with her amazing gardens.  (Also, that you should never stop learning, even if you have to buy a "got-dam" computer to do it!)

Judy, who continues to inspire me to keep moving and stay fit.  (Also, that you, too, can wear a smokin' swim suit at age 75 if you swim 3 miles each day.)

Esther, who I really don't know, but comes in to the knitting shop frequently for more projects to work on.  She's in her upper 80s, and claims she "doesn't like crosswords" but knitting and cross stitch keep her mind nimble.

They have all helped me see that aging truly IS a new stage of opportunity and growth.  What a gift!

 


Movin' Out

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This week, Carole's got us . . . movin' out!  Hit it, Billy!

 

I've had my share of moves over the years.  Across town and across country.  I've moved myself with U-Hauls.  I've been "moved" by relocation companies.  And I've depended on the kindness of friends and relatives to help me move.

I've been in one place now for nearly nine years (and that last move came compliments of a relocation package with packers and movers and unpackers, even), but my kids have not.  I've moved kids in and out of dorm rooms and campus housing too many times to count, and last summer, I helped Erin move to Pittsburgh.

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So.  Yeah.  I'm qualified to address this particular Ten on Tuesday topic.

My Ten Tips for Moving (with input from Tom):

  1. Sort through your stuff before (or even as) you pack.  Get rid of ANYthing you don't want to deal with in your new place.  This is your Big Chance!  Thin out.  Have a garage sale.  Donate to Goodwill.  Recycle.  Just don't move something you don't need or want!  (And if you have professional packers move your stuff, just know that they will pack EVERYthing you have.  Even full trash cans.  Everything.)
  2. Get familiar with your new place BEFORE you move.  It's great if you have the time (and luxury) to paint or change out the carpet before you actually move in, but, at the very least get in and measure windows, check whether or not you need to bring a shower curtain with you, and have some idea about where you want to place your big furniture and belongings.
  3. Designate a "safe spot" to hold the items you want to bring with you to have immediately when you move in.  During our last move, for example, we desginated the bathtub as the spot to store things we didn't want packed into the moving van (medications, documents and records, overnight bags, tool kits, etc.).  When you're in the midst of a move -- with other people pitching in to help or moving you -- it's a good idea to have one central location to store things you DON'T want to lose track of!  Your "helpers" will know that one spot is off limits.
  4. Treat your movers well (whether they're professionals you've hired OR your friends and relatives)!  Feed them.  Provide water or Gatorade.  TIP THEM WELL!  They'll be so much more willing and helpful if you do.
  5. Create a tool kit of those items you'll need at hand while you're moving and unpacking -- and keep them with (or near) you all the time.  Tape measure.  Box cutter.  Packing tape.  Markers.  Water.  Toilet paper.  Clipboard/note paper.  Pen.  Cell phone.  Screwdrivers. 
  6. Locate local fast food and chain restaurants you can trust right away!  When Tom and I first moved to Michigan, we had to eat at "Clock Fine Foods" (the "Fine" was a stretch) for three days straight because we couldn't find more standard fare for awhile.  (Of course, this was in the pre-GPS days and internet days. . . but still.  Find your best options right away.)
  7. Once your "stuff" is "in" -- set up and make your bed firstBefore you do any other unpacking.  Because it's great to be able to settle in to a comfortable (and civilized) place to sleep when you finally get to turn in for the night!  (And, really, who wants to make up a bed when they're hours beyond bedtime and emotionally drained?).
  8. Set up your electricity, cable, and internet services in advance of the move so they're set up and ready to go on moving day.
  9. If you're moving yourself, be sure to rent a dolly.  It's totally worth the extra (minimal) expense.
  10. Relax.  Try not to get too overwhelmed.  It will all sort itself out.  Eventually!

How about YOU?  What are your best moving tips?

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Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Kym's Final Four

March Madness continues here at The Edge.  But I'm not talking basketball. . .

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It's been a wild month. . . and as we near the end, I've got my Final Four! 

"Finish Black Cardigan" beat out "Garden Plans" in a blowout.

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(More details about this baby in a later post.  For now, let's just try not to notice that my house was pelted by an egg.  I have no idea why.  I don't even have kids at home anymore.  I thought those days were gone with the finish of high school.  Who knew?)

"Finish Black Cardigan" was heavily favored at the opening of this year's tourney, being well under way already at the beginning of the month.  The unexpectedly warm weather totally freaked out "Garden Plans," making them skittish under pressure.

In the next bracket, "Photo Class" barely squeaked out a win over "Messenger Bag for Erin." 

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Admittedly, this is the weakest of the brackets.   "Messenger Bag" didn't get much thought or consideration at all.  As for "Photo Class" -- at least the sign-up is complete.  (The homework?  Not so much.)

Next up. . . it appears that "Tote Bag for Sandie" might actually be the Cinderalla story this season!

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Yes,"Tote Bag" completely overwhelmed "Begin Shawl" in a stunning overtime showdown.  This was a surprise, as "Begin Shawl" seemed to be a big favorite in this year's tournament -- and really, who had ever heard of "Tote Bag" before this win?

Finally, "Colorwork Bag" beat out "Mosaic Flower Pots" at the buzzer.

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It's really not clear, though, whether "Colorwork Bag" will be able to maintain the momentum needed to take it all the way!  It looks like strong early efforts . . . might result in running-out-of-yarn to complete the project on time.

Stay tuned!


Shining Star

Yesterday, I met my dear friend Sandie for coffee.  Which we drank outside. . . on the patio of our favorite coffee shop. . .at 9:00 in the morning. . . without coats or sweaters. . . in MARCH!  As you might imagine, our conversation began with garden updates and general freaking out about the extended warm hot spell.

One thing we both noted . . . is that not only are the trees blooming significanly earlier this year. . . but they're more beautiful.  Just stunning, actually.  Everywhere you look.  Weeping cherry trees, magnolias, forsythias -- all in full, gorgeous bloom!

I have a small Star Magnolia tree in my front flower bed.  This is it's third season in my garden.  It has bloomed each year --- but this year?  Wow!

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Sandie and I decided that the blooms are so much more lovely this year than in other seasons. . .

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because of the unusual, sustained, uninterrupted span of gorgeous weather.

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Usually, in a typical Michigan spring, we might have a couple of days (in a row) of sunny days and warm temperatures.  Buds begin to emerge.  But then, nature rights itself and heads back to cold and maybe even freezing temperatures.  Often with rain or heavy snow.  The blooms are thwarted.  (Last year, my Star Magnolia bloomed for about 2 minutes before a storm knocked off all the blooms.  No time for a photo or anything.)

But this year?  No storms.  Just day after day (after day) of sunshine and warmth.  All of the blossoms were able to pop at one time.  And stay that way!

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Shining stars!


Carol, Kate, Colette, and the UltraSound Technician

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"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new."  ~Rajneesh

 

Today I continue my month-long reflection of the legacy of women who've played a role in my life.

Mothers day 1992

I always wanted to be a "good mom."  I tried hard; I read parenting books; I asked for advice from my own mom; I had many a long conversation with my sister (who was a mom before I was) and trusted friends.  I spent all my energy on "mothering" and I was (well, still am!) devoted to my kids.

Still, there were many times when I struggled.  Sometimes, I worried about small things.  Is it a long-term problem to reward your toddler with M&Ms?  What message am I sending if I allow my child to continue designing and building elaborate weaponry with K'nex?  Is "Star Wars" too intense for a 6-year-old?  Other times, the stakes were much higher.  Will my kids be better off in another school district?  What to do about a particular pal who really IS a bad influence?  Am I too involved in problems they need to work out for themselves?

It's always something.  When you're a mom.

I couldn't have gotten this far without my mom and my sister and my own good friends!  They helped me think through, and talk through, and even drink through (!) the rough spots.

But, every once in a while, advice showed up unexpectedly.  Unsolicited.  But just what I needed to hear.  At just the right time.  From the mouths of other moms I didn't really know all that well.

Today, I want to pay tribute to women who've influenced my "mothering" in huge ways -- but not through the day-to-day support that my own mom and my sister and my friends provided.  No.  Today, I want to pay tribute to the well-timed, perhaps even off-the-cuff statement that just . . . rang true. . . for me at that particular moment in time.

Little snippets of advice. . . that came when I least expected it . . .  that stayed with me and shaped the kind of mother I became through the years.

There was Carol. . . who wisely counseled that "Being your child's advocate is NOT the same as running her life."  Carol's words - spoken to me in the earliest days of Erin's elementary school days - were instrumental in helping me support Erin (and, later, Brian) through their school years.  There is a difference between "advocating for" and "managing" your child.  Carol turned that little light on in my head.  And I am pleased to see that, far from being "managed", each of my children is now an advocate for themselves.  Thanks, Carol!


And Kate . . . who called my office on a day I was struggling mightily with a big parenting decision.  I ended up spilling the beans to this woman I barely knew (it was one of those days), and she quietly advised, "Listen to what's in your heart; trust yourself when it comes to your children.  You know what to do."  And, with that, my decision was clear.  Kate helped me realize that I knew all along what was right -- I was just struggling to DO it.  Thanks, Kate!


And Colette. . . a workshop leader who just made a chance comment.  In a presentation, she said,  "Can you imagine how powerful it is for your children to hear that you are delighted with them?  Delighted.  Just the way they are."  It was a moment that gave me a little tingle.  An epiphany!  And, lucky for my kids, I heard those words when Erin was only 4.  Both my kids have heard, through the years, that I am "delighted" with them; not just when they do something "delightful," but every day.  All the time.  Thanks, Colette!


And the unnamed Ultrasound Technician. . . who assured me, in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Erin (when there was a threatened problem that ended up being nothing) that . . . "Worry is what being a mother is all about.  It never stops.  Get used to it."  I have no idea who she was, but she was reassuring and helpful at the time.  I have thought about her often over the last 23 years.  She was right.  The worry never ends.  Thanks, Ultrasound Technician!

Chance suggestions. . . from amazing women . . . who just happened to bring me words of wisdom when I needed them most!


We Are Family

No Ten on Tuesday this week.  Poor Carole is under the weather.  I thought I'd use this little hiatus to bring you a quick family update.

As you might remember, three months ago (right before the Christmas holidays), my mom had a tumble and ended up with a nasty leg fracture.  Surgery.  Pins.  Plates.  No-weight bearing.  Walkers.  Wheelchairs.  Physical Therapy.  Bleak times, for sure.

But, last week. . . she graduated from physical therapy.  And she had her last visit (for a while, at least) with her surgeon.  She is walking again.  And driving.  And has been given the go-ahead to begin working out at her gym again. 

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After so many dark and horrid weeks during the winter, it is just lovely to see her out and about and getting back into her old routine and activities!  Great news all around.

And. . . as you can see. . . Erin came home for a visit last week. 

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It was fabulous to have her (and her Keith) home for a bit.  (It's so nice to spoil your grown-up kids when they come back home.)

There was one day of overlap between Erin's visit home and Brian's spring break.  Although it feels a little like I have installed an offspring-revolving-door, it's nice to be able to spend some good time with each of them, individually.  So now . . . this week. . . my house is filled with big shoes, longboard paraphernalia, and smelly boy-laundry.

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I'll take them any way I can get them!

We are family.


Be Careful What You Wish For: A Riff

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  • We're enjoying a really weird weather pattern here in Michigan.
  • It's warm.
  • Like. . . really warm.
  • We've had temperatures in the 70s and 80s (F) for a couple of weeks, now.  A few rain storms here and there, but, for the most part, warm and sunny and beautiful.
  • Sometimes, we'll have a crazy-warm day (or maybe two in a row) during March and April.  But, for the most part, nothing sustained.
  • Not like this.

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  • So. . . the weather is gorgeous.
  • What am I complaining about?
  • I'm trying not to freak out.  But.

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  • My Star Magnolia (above; as photographed yesterday morning) is about to bloom.  Now.  In the middle of March.  This is the same tree that appeared in Brian's prom photos (way back).  In early May.
  • My forsythia are blooming. Already.
  • My daffodils are finished.  Finished.  In mid-March.

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  • Trees and shrubs are budding - and leafing out.  There is spring green everywhere you look.  I have allium and tulips coming up. 
  • According to the MSU Extension office, everything horticulture-related is about 6-8 weeks ahead of "normal."
  • I hate to complain.
  • But this is unnerving.

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  • Folks are out and about in shorts and tank tops and flip-flops.  You'd think we were a spring break destination or something.
  • And the weather forecast. . . looks like more of the same!  (At least for another week.)
  • Is this a problem?  I don't know.  But I'm sort of thinking it might be.

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  • Like I said, I'm trying not to freak out.  But I feel like I'm already way behind in my garden.  I've moved from "having the itch" to get out there. . . to not having the time to "get out there."
  • Because my life isn't structured to actually have garden-time in March.  Or April.  I'm busy with other commiments.  And besides, I don't trust this weather. Really.
  • And I'm not ready to lug out all my warm-weather clothes yet, either.
  • Not.  Quite.  Yet.
  • I know I wished for spring.  But this is a bit too much. . . a bit too early!
  • I feel like I have suddenly been moved to a whole 'nother climate zone.
  • Or something!
  • One thing for sure, though . . . it's time for a pedicure.

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And. . . drum roll. . . congratulations to Amy!  She made the 5,000th comment on my blog last Tuesday!  A little prize package is on the way to her.  And thanks to all of you for your comments.  I appreciate your taking the time to step and out and say something here on my blog.  I love you all!


Field Trip

Yesterday, I boarded a charter bus with my friends Sandie and Jackie and headed to Chicago for the annual Flower & Garden Show.  We had a great time!

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Sandie and Jackie at the entrance.  (Before we had pinned on our flashing flower pins!)

The Flower & Garden show brings together ideas. . .

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Trust me, succulents remain BIG for the upcoming season!  They were everywhere.

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This was a wall made of cement blocks.  They tucked pots of fern and moss, and hung little baskets of succulents.  I want one!

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 Feeding my current love of the terrarium!

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This garden flower was made from a soda can!  They looked so cool popping up here and there in one of the gardens.

charm and whimsy. . .

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Bunnies.  In knit cardigans!  Couldn't resist.

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Look at theses drawer pulls!  Charmed, I'm sure.

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Flower umbrellas hanging above.

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Painted tire planters!

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Glass sculpture at the main entrance.

and shopping. . .

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The shop (in Naperville) is as cool as their sign!

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I bought one of these hanging terrariums (only in a teardrop shape), with a few air plants, to hang in my kitchen window.

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There are plenty of classes and workshops, too.  (Attended a few; no pictures.)

It was an unbelievably beautiful day in Chicago.  Unseasonably warm (80s).  Who ever would have thought we'd be eating OUTSIDE on Navy Pier in mid-March?  Unthinkable!

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It felt like summer! 

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It looked like summer!

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There were even sailboats out on the Lake!

As an added bonus -- there was a stained glass exhibit on Navy Pier (unrelated to the Flower & Garden Show).  Most of the designs were floral in nature. . .

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(This one is Tiffany.)

but there were grids, too!

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Back at the Flower & Garden Show, there was an exhibit of aprons created by the a Chicago area fiber artist group, Women's Journeys in Fiber.  Very powerful -- and creative!

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The best part of the day for me, though, was being able to see these guys . . . up close and personal

Meet Mr. Barred Owl. . .

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and Mr. Great Horned Owl. . .

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My photos just don't do these awesome creatures justice!  They are just so So SO cool!

So much to see!  So much to do!  As you can imagine, by the end, we were quite weary.   This was a welcome sight. . .

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And the bus ride gave me some time to knit!

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Just a perfect field trip, and a great day, all the way around!