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May 2013

April 2013

May Day! May Day!

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Tomorrow . . . we flip the calendar.  And . . . it's May!  I love May.  Such a lovely, somewhat predictable month.  Late spring at it's absolute finest.

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This week, for Ten on Tuesday, Carole asks us . . . what we're looking forward to in May . . .

  1. Deadlines whooshing by!  I tend to have a lot of work deadlines in May, so I'm always looking forward to their end.  All those little details tied up.  Neat and tidy.
  2. Celebrations!  My Dad's birthday.  Mother's Day.  An end to another semester for Brian.  There is much to celebrate in May.
  3. Blooms!  I love watching the flowers in my garden come to life!  Trillium.  Lilac.  Quince.  Rhododendron.  Iris.  Bring it!
  4. Bringing my ponds back to life!  I love getting my little ponds back in operation once the threat of freeze is over (mid-May here in my corner of Michigan).  Nothing beats the sound of moving water in the landscape!  Can't wait.
  5. Setting up the lawn furniture!  When the days start being nicer on a consistent basis, it's time to bring out the lawn furniture and my pergola swing.  Nothing beats sitting out in the sunshine on a warm May afternoon.
  6. Nursery road trips!  All of my favorite nurseries and garden shops open in late April and early May.  It's time for those weekend pilgrimages to begin. . . once the calendar turns to May.
  7. Planting my containers!  Although I'm always itching to begin earlier, I need to wait to play with my containers until later in May.  We can still get frost here in Southwest Michigan in mid-May. . . so it's best to wait.
  8. Putting in the screens!  I love having my windows open to the breezes and fresh air. 
  9. Heading Up North . . . where it's time to put in the docks and the boat!  Tom already has the cabin open for the season, but we won't put in the docks and and move the pontoon in to the water until Memorial Day weekend.
  10. Vacation!  This year, I'm heading out for a week in San Francisco with my sister . . . and we're leaving right at the end of May.  Can't wait!

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How about YOU?  What are you looking forward to in May?

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

 


Right Now . . . April 2013

I don't know about you, but April flew past so quickly that I really never got used to it being April.  And now, it's almost over!

Here's what's happening in my life  . . . RIGHT NOW.

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Watching . . . The changing scenes outside.  Rain.  Sunshine.  Buds.  But nothing on television.  (I am recording some things to watch eventually.  But . . . I seem to have no time for tv these days.)

Reading . . . Oh.  The books!  There are so many fabulous books.  My to-read queue grows longer every day.  Right now, I'm reading The Interestings (which just isn't really living up to its title, unfortunately) and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (not far enough into it to gauge, at this point).  I do need to recommend a recent read, though:  A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.  Very good!

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Knitting . . . Just finished ChicKnit's Elisbeth cardigan (short sleeve version).  It's blocking as I type, so watch for photos soon.  I'm working on a spring-color version of this shawl.  But, mostly, I'm not doing a whole lot of knitting these days.

Listening to . . . Weezer.  Soundgarden.  Train.  And some Beatles - just for balance.

 

Thinking about . . . Gardening.  Pretty much full-on gardening.

Dreading . . . Ugh.  The dentist.  By the time you read this post, I'll be finished with Appointment #1 of my two-part Crown Experience.  (I dread.  But it will be nice to be able to chew on the left side again!)

Humming . . . A song from my Turbo Kick class last Friday.  I don't know the name of the song, nor do I know who sings it -- which is lucky for you all.  Because if I knew either of those things, I'd look it up and insert it here.  And then you'd all hate me forever.  Because it's very, very catchy.

Planning . . . Gardens.  Designing them.  Planting them.  Sitting in them. 

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Celebrating . . . Spring.  Finally.

Drinking . . . A spring tea blend mixed just for me at Teavana.

Itching to . . .Go barefoot.  (Also . . . tell a jerk what I really think.  I probably won't actually do this.  But it's therapeutic to think about anyway!)

Needing to . . .Weed, clean, and prepare my garden beds for the season ahead.  (And so happy about that.)

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Organizing . . .  It's time - finally - to put away the wool and the heavy and the warm.  Time to break out the breezy and the light and the fun.  Need to get my closet in order!

Inspired by . . . Alabama Chanin

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Delighted by. . . blooms and buds . . . breaking out all over!

How about YOU?  What's going on for YOU . . . right now?


Introducing . . . Throwback Thursdays

One of my Ravelry/Facebook pals, Janet, does a really cool thing with her Facebook posts.  Every once in a while. . . on a Thursday . . . she features a photo that is a blast-from-her-past.  She calls it "Throwback Thursdays" and I love it! 

I love it so much, in fact, that I'm going to shamelessly copy Janet's really grand idea!

Welcome to . . . Throwback Thursday!

Second Grade Class

1966.

Second grade.

Maple School.

Mrs. Boline's class.

Can you find me?

What amazes me most about this photo. . . is that I can name every single kid in my class!  Every one.  Jeffrey and Karen and Scott.  Donna and Larry and Betsy.  Holly.  Joey.  Casey.  Freddy.  Victor and Brenda and Tony and Susie.  Tracy and Michael.  Sonia and Ronald.  LeAnn and Dennis and Vicki and Carl and Debra.  Greg and Geoff and Douglas.  Becky and Jeff and (well, that's me!  the chick with the uncomfortable up-do!) and Douglas.

My, we got awfully dressed up for school in 1966-67!

What else do I remember?

Well.  It was lucky the photos were early in the day.  Because my hair did NOT look like that after first recess!  The bobby pins holding it all together gave me a headache.  It was hard to jump rope on the playground with an up-do.  I was a tangled mess by lunch time.

My best pals in second grade were Vicki and Tracy and Betsy and Victor.  Dennis, too, I remember.

I thought Douglas was cute.

I loved Mrs. Boline.

I got an award for perfect attendance in second grade.  (It was the only time in my school career that I had perfect attendance.)

I can tell you who was good at jump rope; who was good at jacks.  I can also tell you who . . . wasn't.

I can remember each person who was in the "high" reading group.

I can tell you who was my biggest competition in the weekly spelling bee.

I can tell you who stuck a pair of scissor up their nose and had to be rushed to office with a pool of blood at his desk.

I know who threw up in his math book.

But I have no idea whatever happened to any of these kids!  Because I moved away in 6th grade and never heard from any of them again.

Throwback Thursday.  It's fun to remember.

Isn't it?


Danger Zone!

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Today . . . we have One Dangerous Topic.

Sweaters.

My greatest knitting weakness.

And, this week, Carole has us talking . . . Sweaters. 

Ten of 'em, in fact.

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I decided to approach this week's list this way:  I'm going to list my ten favorite sweaters -- as of today.  (Because this list could easily change tomorrow.)

Here goes:

  1. Beeline.  (That Heidi Kirrmaier?  She's killin' me with her sweaters.  Really.  Killin' me.)
  2. Vertex.  (It's one of Julie Weisenberger's designs - from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Volumn 4.)
  3. Enso.  (I'm really not sure what it is about this one, but I want to have it in my closet.)
  4. Machu Picchu.  (Carol Sunday.  I'm sort of over the fair-isle-yoke thing.  Except for this one.  This one?  Must knit.)
  5. Asamoya.  (Kirsten Johnstone.  So. Freakin'. Cool.)
  6. Market Jacket.  (Tanis Gray.  From November Knits.)
  7. Rocky Road.  (Heidi Kirrmaier.  Again.  See?  Killin' me.)
  8. Boardwalk.  (Heidi Kirrmaier.  She's definitely got my number.)
  9. Kiss of North.  (Clever.  And versatile.)
  10. Pueblo Stole.  (Yeah.  I know it's not a sweater, technically.  But I love it.  And I think I'd wear it LIKE a sweater.  So there.)

And what's so dangerous about this list?

Why . . . I'll be thinking about what to knit next . . . all day long!

How about YOU?  What are some of your favorite sweater patterns?  (Today, anyway. . . )

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

 


In Search of Spring

Spring is slow in coming this year. 
(Like, really slow.
But yesterday was sunny, so I put on my scarf.  And my hat.  And my gloves. 
(Really.  So Sick. Of. It.)

And went in search of spring.

Garden Buddha was basking in the sun. 
(Which had melted off his coat of frost by this time.)

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And a few of my daffodils survived last weeks deluge of rain, followed by freeze and snow. 
(But, overall, they took a substantial hit.)

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I found this lovely, singleton tulip in the middle of one of my newer garden beds. 
(I have no idea where it came from.  It's a welcome "volunteer" -- I know I didn't plant it.  Surprise!)

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I found large swaths of wild violets in my grass. 
(Lawn purists would be horrified, I know.  But they make me smile.  As they slowly take over my lawn.  And creep into my garden beds.)

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My hellebores are blooming like crazy! 
(Such dependable, sturdy harbingers of Spring.)

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And I even found a little bee, hard at work, in one of them!
(Spotting this little bee was such a delight!)

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I found birds trying to break through the thin coat of ice on my birdbath,
buds on most of my trees, and new growth emerging in the perennial beds.
(Even some of my hostas!)

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I also discovered that I have lost my ongoing battle with invasive grass in one of my garden beds.  I'm going to have to dig it all up . . . or nuke it with Round Up. 
(But that's a story for another day.)

Spring.  It's out there.
(You just gotta know where to look.)

 


Fun for a Friday

When I was walking through the vendor booths last month at the Chicago Garden Show, something a bit . . . unusual. . . caught my eye.

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Water Marbles.  $4 a package.  I decided to try one.

You add some of the tiny marbles to a vase

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filled with distilled water

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and then you wait.

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Over the course of a day, those little marbles absorb every drop of the water in the vase

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and you end up with a vase full of water marbles!

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Supposedly, you can place cut flowers or a bamboo plant in the vase filled with water marbles . . . and never have to water it.  The water from the marbles is apparently enough to keep the the flowers or plants adequately hydrated.  Evenutally, the water desorbs (it's a real term; I checked with the resident chemist) and the marbles return to their original tiny size.

And you can use them again and again.

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Haven't actually tried putting flowers in the marbles yet, but I will.

For now, I just think they're kind of fun.  They look pretty, just sitting there in the vase.  And they're really fun to hold -- surprisinly hydrated and slightly slimy in a Ooooooo-Coooooool! kind of way.

You can order some for yourself . . .at this really cheesy website.  (This is the company that was selling them at the Chicago Garden Show; I found the website in the instruction materials packed with my Water Marbles.)  They are also available in larger quantities (with a more scientific explanation of what happens) here.

 


No More . . . Sounds of Silence

Some music to set the mood . . . from Art and Paul.

 

It's been a week now, since I picked up my new ears.

Friends ask me what it's like.. . to wear hearing aids.  And I answer that it's just like wearing little microphones in your ears.

Which is exactly what they are.  Little microphones behind my ear, amplifying sounds into my ear.  It's really quite amazing.

I could hear before.  I just couldn't hear everything, and I couldn't hear it clearly.  I mean, without my hearing aids, I can take a walk outside and hear bird calls and traffic.  But with my hearing aids, I hear BIRD CALLS! and TRAFFIC! 

(I actually delight every time I step outside -  at the bird calls all around me.  So loud and clear and wonderful.  Makes me smile every time.)

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Have you ever heard the Tale of the Boiling Frog?  It's a great metaphor (whether it actually happens or not in Real Life).  It goes like this:  Basically, if you plop a frog into a pot of already-boiling water, he'll immediately jump out.  But.  If the frog is already in the pot, and THEN you turn up the heat and gradually bring the pot to a boil, he'll not jump out -- but just . . . cook himself. 

Because, so the metaphor goes, we don't notice change -- unless it's sudden and drastic.  If change is slow and gradual, though, we just adapt.  (Until it's too late.)

Well, hearing is like that.  Over the years, as my hearing gradually deteriorated, my brain just . . . adapted.  It thought of my ever-expanding silence as . . . Normal.

When you get hearing aids, everything (and I mean EVERYthing) is suddenly LOUD.  Because . . . your brain thinks silence is Normal. 

It takes a while for your formerly non-hearing brain to adjust to all the new . . . noise.  Ambient noise (the ever-present background noise of life) is a particular problem for new hearing aid wearers.  Other people's cell phone ringtones.  Shuffling paper.  Doors opening and closing.  Keyboard key strokes.  Unwrapping a granola bar.  Windshield wipers.  Fans.  Dog walking across wood floor.  Clocks ticking.  Sounds that people with normal hearing have just learned to ignore are suddenly new and exciting for the hearing aid wearer's brain.

The first few days with my hearing aids, the ambient noise was nearly unbearable.  Just moving a piece of paper from one side of my desk to the other was like . . . firecrackers going off!  I had to move to an entirely different part of the house whenever Tom filled the dishwasher . . . it was that disturbingly loud.  I had headaches from the ambient noise.

It's getting better, though.  Amazingly better - in just a week!  My brain is making the adjustment -- and beginning to tire of the new ambient noise around me, allowing me to move it into the background again.  (Except for highway driving noises.  That's still a problem.  But I have hope!)

I'm also getting used to the sound of my own voice.  Because it's "mic'd" too!  With my hearing aids, I hear myself "in stereo" whenever I speak out loud:  The voice inside my head AND the voice outside my head!  I have had to enlist my friends and family in giving me feedback about how loud I'm speaking.  Because it sounds (to me) like I'm talking really, really LOUD.  But apparently I'm not.  In fact, my feedback so far has been . . . speak up!  That's all getting better, too.  (Although it is scary to hear yourself singing along to songs on your iPod.  Really bizarre.)

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Mostly, though, I'm just in awe of . . . hearing!  Comfortably and easily.  My weekly staff meeting (the situation that ultimately convinced me I had to Do Something) was amazing.  I could hear everything.  I didn't have to place myself Just So.  I didn't even have to look at the speakers around the table to be able to "get" what they were saying. 

It's so much less stressful . . . to hear!

The day after I got my hearing aids, I was standing in the kitchen at my office, water running, rinsing out my lunch dishes.  The Finance Guy stopped in the doorway of the kitchen to ask me a couple of questions.  I had always struggled talking with The Finance Guy -- not just because he's The Finance Guy, but also because I had a hard time understanding him.  You see. . . he mumbles.  But last week, standing there with the water running and everything, I suddenly realized . . . I was conversing - comfortably - with The Finance Guy!  (Turns out he doesn't mumble so much after all.)

It's been quite a week.  Hearing.  Adapting.  Listening.  No more . . . sounds of silence for me!

 

 


It's Raining Cats and . . . Chickens!

Spring is trying her best to (finally) take hold here in Southwest Michigan.  But Spring is fickle.  Seemingly here one day . . . then snow the next!

We've been getting a lot of rain.

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But I don't mind!  It gives me a chance to stomp about in my new, birthday rain boots . . . a gift from my Mom and Dad.

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They lighten up the dreariest of wet and muddy days.

Aren't they awesome?


A Brief Interlude

Some Eva Cassidy. . .

 

Because I'm feeling in need of a brief interlude today.

Yesterday's events in Boston touched me profoundly.  Horrific and senseless violence is always disturbing.  But I can't quite shake what happened at the Boston Marathon.

As the spouse of a rather serious runner, I know what it's like to wait at the finish line.  In fact, I've waited at that very finish line. . .

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You stand there, in the press of the crowd.  Watching.  Waiting.  Checking the time.  Looking.  Looking.  Checking the time.  Waiting.

And expecting . . . to celebrate and congratulate and support . . . once your particular runner crosses that finish line.

You don't expect exploisons.

My heart feels this one deeply.