3-fer Thursdays

Dog Days

In a couple of hours, we'll be packing up and heading home.  I'm beginning to switch gears . . . starting to think about what's waiting for me at home instead of what I'm going to read down on the dock this afternoon.  Bittersweet, but I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

The dogs make the transition between "home" and "lake" without much trouble.  Jenny can always sense that we're "on the move" and she gets a little clingy when we're packing.  JoJo is clueless about all that, but she still has trouble in the car and needs to take carsick meds.  They much prefer being "settled" in one location or the other, but they pretty much roll with it all.

Here are three things they love to do up north that they are not able to do back home:

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1 -- Fish

Jenny loves to watch the fish -- either in the water on her own or when she goes fishing with Tom on the lake.  She pays close attention to the water at all times, and is very aware of the sound fish make as they rise in the water.  When she fishes with Tom, she can tell if he's caught one by watching his line.  She is intrigued with all things fish-related.

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2 - Swim

JoJo much prefers swimming to fishing.  (In fact, I don't think she's ever noticed that there ARE fish in the lake.)  Jenny used to swim a lot more, but she is getting old now and tires quickly.  JoJo, on the other hand, swims like a little motorboat and loves to retrieve whatever we throw for her in the water.

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3 -- Boat

Both dogs LOVE to ride in the pontoon.  They love sniffing the air and feeling the lake breeze as we cruise around the lake.  They get very excited when they see loons on the water or turtles sunning themselves on docks -- and they especially like to greet other lake-dogs that they may see on land or in other boats (singing the song of their people, y'know . . . as dogs do).

We all have a great time up north. . . dog and human alike.

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Be sure to hop over to Carole's today to read other Three on Thursday posts.  And be sure to wish her and Dale a very happy anniversary while you're there!

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Also -- thanks for all your good wishes on the Ravelry thing.  Let me tell you  . . . that was a big surprise!  

 


A Dose of Reality

I share my anticipation and excitement at returning to our cottage "up north" for the summer season with you each year.  And I show you photos of our little lake . . . and cozy bonfires . . . and happy dogs swimming.   And it all looks wonderful.  
Relaxing.  
Idyllic.  
Peaceful.

And it is all of that.

But there is . . . an underbelly, too.  Y'know?  The parts I don't share.  (Because it's not all fun and games up here.)  (At least, not all the time.)

Here's a dose of Up North Reality for you, Three-on-Thursday syle:

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1 -- It's a house.  A second house.  That we own.  And must maintain.  So while we may be dealing with . . . say, a broken air conditioner at House #1, we are also dealing with things . . . say, a roof that needs replacing (or severe woodpecker damage to the cedar siding) at House #2.  

In other words, we don't get a vacation from home maintenance just because we go "up north" for the season.  In fact, it doubles.

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2 -- It feels like going on vacation.  But we are not on vacation.  Because there are chores to do and toilets to scrub and dinners to plan and laundry to do and wood to chop.  Just like when we are at home.  Because we are at home.  Just a bit further north.  (Although Tom would be quick to point out that he doesn't do much "lumberjacking" at home.)  

In other words, there is no maid service. 

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3 -- Although we've built a pretty solid "inventory" of necessities at our cottage (dishes, glassware, cookware, cleaning supplies, tools, etc.), there are always things we need to drag between houses (reading material, computers, stitching projects, etc.).  It really can't be any other way -  because there are things we're currently working on or dealing with that are time-sensitive that we need to cart back and forth.  Which does make it feel kind of like packing-for-a-vacation each time we travel up.

In other words, it's really a drag when you pull out your latest Alabama Chanin project to stitch -- but realize you forgot to bring your needles.  (Gah!)

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So, yeah.  It's pretty great up here -- and I love it!  I am grateful for this space.  I am so very fortunate to be able to get away and come "up north" whenever I want to.  (I'm lucky.  Oh so lucky.  And I know this.)  I appreciate my time up here.

But I don't want you to think that I just hang out on the dock all day, watching the eagles and the loons and the cranes while I sip wine and read books.  

I mean . . . I DO that.  But between those idyllic, peaceful, down-times you'll find me scrubbing last year's spider webs and wood-detritus from my window sills, changing the bedding, facing down last night's dirty dishes, and lamenting the fact that I could be stitching (but forgot my needles).

Like most things in life, the good far outweighs the bad.  But sometimes . . . reality bites.

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Be sure to hop over to Carole's today, for more Three on Thursday posts.

 


Tales from the Garden . . . x 3

At this time of year, my garden is exploding everywhere -- and I am always racing to keep up with it.  (It's my own personal Whack-a-Mole game out there.)  

Sometimes it feels like Major Overwhelm.   Then I need to talk to myself and remind myself that . . . 

I love to garden.

This is the way gardening works.

I couldn't wait to get out there again when it was never-ending winter.

Just. Dig. In.

And so it goes.  

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Here are three little tales from my garden this week.

1 - Earth Moving

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This little garden bed near our back patio had gotten WAY overgrown in the last few years.  The old path was pretty much inaccessible.  Too many plants growing too well . . .   So.  We battled the heat over the weekend (near 100 degrees F every day) to dig out plants, level the ground, and re-set the path.  (JoJo is happy to demonstrate that even the dogs appreciate an easy-to-walk pathway through the garden.)

I have more work to do out there -- a bit more thinning-out and some planting-in.  We placed three big rocks in the newly-opened area to remind me NOT to overplant.  I'm happy with the new path -- and I want to keep it open and functional.  

2 - Resilience in Action

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One day early last summer, I stopped at Lowe's for . . . something (but not a plant).  I entered the store through the nursery department (as one does), and a couple of lovely, blooming, Asian lilies caught my eye.  (It was their stunning orange blooms.  They get me every time.)

On impulse, I bought 'em.

But once I had them at home, I couldn't figure out where I wanted to put them.

So they hung out on my patio - in their original plant containers - all summer.  I took care of them, of course.  I kept them watered and sheltered while I tried to figure out just where they might fit in my garden.  But, by fall, I realized they were going to have to overwinter on their own, still in their little pots -- and I was completely prepared to just let them go.

The photo above?  The same lilies (in the same pots) today.  Resilient little suckers, non?

(I'm still looking for a place to put them.)

3 - Over Too Soon

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I love my allium blooms . . . hovering there each spring over the newly-unfurled hostas in my garden.  It always looks so magical.  And it did this year, too.  For like . . . one day!  I didn't even get a picture this year . . . 

You see, allium are spring blooms.  They like gently-warming days.  You know . . . the kind you usually get in, oh . . say, late May?  Cool nights, warming days.  That kind of thing.  And the blooms will last for weeks under those conditions.

This year?  We went from mid-50s to upper-90s in the same week!  Those allium?  Super confused.  From bloom-to-done in a couple of days this year.

(I'm tempted to spray paint them.  I've seen that done on many a garden tour . . . )  (But I probably won't.)

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And now?  I'm headed out for some early morning weeding.  (It's the only way when it's This Hot.)

Head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts today.

 

 


Makin' Stuff

Now that my dining room is finished (you just can't belive how nice it is to type those words), I've got a few other projects going on. (For rainy days like today, y'know?)

1 - Some are ongoing.  

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(And, yeah, I'm sparing you yet another photo of the still-not-finished-but-growing-in-the-expected-manner shawl.  But there is a pile of evidence that I'm making progress.)

2 - Some are just beginning.

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(But promise to be pretty quick and easy to complete.)  (Although it looks funny in the light, the fabric is a nice chocolate brown linen.)

3 - Some are being resurrected.

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(This is an Alabama Chanin swing skirt -- half finished.  I put it aside over a year ago because I really don't like the color.  It's called "denim," but really looks pretty purple.  Vicki suggested over-dying, so I've dragged it out again.) (I can also see that I learned a few tricks at the AC workshop last fall, so this old work looks kind of messy.  But, oh well.)

I've always got something going . . . to keep my hands busy.

How about YOU?  What kind of stuff are you makin' today?

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Head on over to Carole's to read other Three on Thursday posts.


The Thing with Gardening

Here's the funny thing about gardening:  You wait and wait and wait and wait (and after this last winter - you wait some more!), just wishing and hoping and itching to get out in the garden.

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Then. . . one day . . . the temperature suddenly spikes to the mid-70s (without so much as a ramp-up) and stays that way for a couple of days.  And then, just as suddenly, gardeners are woefully behind on All the Tasks.  Like . . . right now!

It always feels a little like garden-panic in the spring.  But it will work out.  (It always does.)

Here in my corner of Michigan, we're still way behind "normal" in terms of what's budding and blooming, but thanks to a couple of warm, sunny days this week, things are beginning to pop.   (Kalamazoo's average last frost date is May 21, so it's not like I'm trying to plant anything yet.)  (Our cottage up north?  The last average frost date there is June 11!)

So, amid great fanfare and a bit of garden-clean-up-exhaustion, here are 3 things blooming in my garden today:

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1 - Hellebores.  (These have been blooming for a couple of weeks now.)

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2 -- Grape hyacinth.

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3 -- Dandelions!  (Never fear --- my position atop the Neighborhood Dandelion Leaderboard remains secure for yet another season!)  (My neighbors hate me.) (Although most people consider dandelions a scourge, I think of them as "first food" for the bees and pollinators.)

And, coming up with a bullet?  We've got . . . 

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Redbud!

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Virginia bluebells!

(And lilac, too.  Just no photos.)

The thing about gardening?  Flowers are magical, and spring is a wonderful thing!  (Even if everything feels a bit out of control at first.)

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Be sure to head to Carole's to see more Three on Thursday posts.

 


A Three on Thursday Poem in Your Pocket Mash Up

What I like about Poem in Your Pocket day is that it encourages people to just . . . share a poem.  

Simple.  

Although I won't actually be carrying a poem around in my pocket today - or standing on a street corner (or in the locker room at the gym) reciting poetry from memory, I will be looking for opportunities to share poetry today.   Here are three easy things you can do to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket day:

  1. Add a short poem to your email footer.
  2. Post lines from your favorite poem on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest.
  3. Send a favorite poem to a friend.

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Here's the poem in my pocket today . . . 

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Mind Body Problem
by Katha Pollitt

When I think of my youth I feel sorry not for myself
but for my body.  It was so direct
and simple, so rational in its desires,
wanting to be touched the way an otter
loves water, the way a giraffe
wants to amble the edge of the forest, nuzzling
the tender leaves at the tips of the trees.  It seems
unfair, somehow, that my body had to suffer
because I, by which I mean my mind, was saddled
with certain unfortunate high-minded romantic notions
that made me tyrannize and patronize it
like a cruel medieval baron, or an ambitious
English-professor husband ashamed of his wife --
her love of sad movies, her budget casseroles
and regional vowels.  Perhaps
my body would have liked to make some of our dates,
to come home at four in the morning and answer my scowl
with "None of your business!"  Perhaps
it would have liked more presents:  silks, mascaras.
If we had had a more democratic arrangement
we might have come, despite our different backgrounds,
to a grudging respect for each other, like Tony Curtis
and Sidney Poitier handcuffed together
instead of the current curious shift of power
in which I feel I am being reluctantly
dragged along by my body as though by some
swift and powerful dog.  How eagerly
it plunges ahead, not stopping for anything,
as though it knows exactly where we are going.

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To learn more about poet and essayist Katha Pollitt, and to sample some of her work, click here.

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Be sure to check out other Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's today.

 


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.)

 


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!

 


The Sparkle Bonus

We have three stained glass windows in our house.  One is embedded in a cabinet in the kitchen, and two of them are in a corner of our bathroom.

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They are definitely a unique feature - and I wish I knew their story.  But I don't.  (It's one of those things I wish I'd asked the sellers about the house - they were the original owners and had the house built to their specs.  But I never even thought to ask at the time.)

When we moved in, and up until 3 years ago when we did The Great Bathroom Renovation (because the shower leaked), the bathroom was covered in busy, dark wallpaper and had dark carpet on the floor.  I would notice the stained glass windows, but not much -- because the room was so dark and rather like a cave.

Something totally unexpected happened, though, after our renovation.  We replaced the carpet with a light, neutral color and removed that dark wallpaper, substituting a soft neutral shade on the walls.  We also replaced an old and unused jacuzzi tub with a "fitness corner" that includes my meditation spot.  So, the bathroom was suddenly light, open, and . . . sparkly!

Because in the morning, when the sun is shining, my stained glass windows do these three things:

1 - They reflect the bright colors of the windows on the floor (which move across the room as the position of the sun changes through the morning).

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2 - They create dancing rainbows on the carpet (because those small circles in the window are prisms).

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3 - They create a moving lightshow on the walls.

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It's magical!

I love walking into the bathroom on sunny mornings.  It never gets old.

And to think . . . we lived with this for 12 years before discovering it!  The dark wallpaper and carpet completely hid the beauty and magic of those windows.  We only discovered it when we lightened up the room in the Great Bathroom Renovation.

I call it . . . the Sparkle Bonus!

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To read more Three on Thursday posts, hop on over to Carole's.