Sometimes Mondays

. . . look like comfort.

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It's the middle of winter ... and I'm dealing with it.  

I long for mornings in my garden, evenings on the patio, and lazy days up north, sure.  But for now, I've gotten used to driving on icy roads, remembering to grab my mittens, and piling on the layers.  

I'm hunkering down for the rest of the winter.  And seeking comfort . . . where I can find it.

Happy Monday!

 


A Silent Poetry Reading

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, February 2 was Silent Poetry Day in blog-land.  Various bloggers would post their favorite poems, and it was all quite lovely.  It doesn't seem to be A Thing any longer, but the date sticks in my head.  

So here is a poem for you.  Because it's a Friday.  And still winter.  And February 2 used to be Silent Poetry Day.  

And because we can all use more poetry in our lives, y'know?

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This Much I Do Remember
Billy Collins

It was after dinner.
You were talking to me across the table
about something or other,
a greyhound you had seen that day
or a song you liked,

and I was looking past you
over your bare shoulder
at the three oranges lying
on the kitchen counter
next to the small electric bean grinder,
which was also orange,
and the orange and white cruets for vinegar and oil.

All of which converged
into a random still life,
so fastened together by the hasp of color,
and so fixed behind the animated
foreground of your
talking and smiling,
gesturing and pouring wine,
and the camber of your shoulders

that I could feel it being painted within me,
brushed on the wall of my skull,
while the tone of your voice
lifted and fell in its flight,
and the three oranges
remained fixed on the counter
the ways stars are said
to be fixed in the universe.

Then all the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row, 
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from the millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.

Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kindgom
that we pace through every day.

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I hope you find some poetry in your life today!


Postcard Power

It's February.  Welcome to the Month of Letters.

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I'll be sending a hand-written letter or note each mailing day during February,* and I hope to receive some letters, too.  

One thing I write year-round, though, is postcards  -- sent around the world through Postcrossing.

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I first joined Postcrossing in 2015, and immediately fell into its charms.  It's free.  It's simple.  And you can be as active as you'd like be when it comes to writing and sending cards.  (The more you send, the more you receive.)

I had a hard time writing my postcards to the world last year, though, after the election.  I found I just wanted to apologize to everyone I was sending postcards to.  I felt like I needed to explain.  I felt . . . well, kind of embarrassed.  So I took a quite long break from writing any postcards.

This year, though, I've picked it back up.  I'm ready to write my cards again.  No apologies!  No explanations!  Just an opportunity to show the world that we are kind, thoughtful people here in the US -- ready to learn about and from the rest of the world.

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(This week I received a very cool postcard from a fellow-knitter in Latvia.)

Here are three of the best things about Postcrossing:

  1. The stamps.  I have received the most amazing stamps from all around the world.  Little works of art!
  2. The stories.  It's amazing how much you can learn about people in 3 or 4 brief sentences on a postcard.  I've received postcards from all kinds of people of all ages (so far, my youngest postcard-sender was 14; the oldest in their 70s) -- living in countries all over the world.
  3. The connection.  The world seems much smaller and much friendlier when you reach out and connect with real people in the world.

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to connect with the world - and serve as an "ambassador" of your country to boot - check out Postcrossing.

Happy letter writing!

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*  Remember, if you'd like receive a letter from me this month (and I don't already have your address), please let me know in the comments and I will reply to get your address.  Or you can send me an email directly by linking in the sidebar where it says "Email Me" (just under the "About" link at the top of the sidebar.)

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Be sure to stop by Carole's blog today for more Three on Thursday posts.

 


Mining for a Heart of Gold

First, let's set the tone with some Neil Young.

Last August, I stopped in at the Michigan Fiber Festival.  Just to look around, y'know?  Not to buy anything.  (Because heaven knows I don't need any yarn.)  But I'm kind of a sucker for Briar Rose yarn.  (The colors!  The squish factor!  And it's made just up the highway!)  So there I was.

In the booth, I spied this great skein of kind of a harvest-y gold-y color yarn.  I really fell hard for it . . .  but there was only one skien.  Really not enough to do anything WITH.  So I dug around.  And the Briar Rose representative dug around with me.  But she wasn't very hopeful, because she mentioned they might not be using this particular base much anymore - and there probably wasn't more of that particular color.

We dug.

We nearly upended the entire booth.

You might say we were . . . mining for a heart of gold, even.

In the end, we found one!

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Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching and I'm growing old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I've been a miner for a heart of gold

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You can find the details here on my Ravelry page.

 

 


On Creating an Area of Refuge

I'm working hard this year to beat back the cloud of doom that descended on me last year.  To bring more happiness into my life.  To celebrate the good.  To live with intention  And gratitude.  And hope.

But it's hard.

Because there is just so much negativity out there in the world.  So many disturbing things happening.  So much bad news bombarding us every day.  And, of course, like most of us, I struggle with "negativity bias."  (You can read about it here, but, basically, negativity bias is the psychological phenomenon whereby people react more strongly and persistently to bad than they do to comparable good.)

In other words, it's easy (and part of our nature) to get bogged down in the moody-broody places in our head . . . unless we actively counter our negativity bias with lots (and lots) of positive thoughts.

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My plan is to build what happiness-expert Gretchen Rubin calls "Areas of Refuge" for myself.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the moody-broody, I'm looking for places to go - in my head - that can calm and cheer me.

Journaling helps.  So does making a quick gratitude list.  Or looking at photos of my family.  Petting my dogs.  Reading poetry or a few of my favorite quotes.  Something quick -- to just remind me of the good things.  So I can stop dwelling in the negative.

Last November, Michelle GD shared an interview with Jen Tulson on her blog.  Jen has a blog of her own, and a big following on Instagram.  In the interview, she talked about a new product she was launching - a deck of 48 cards, each with an image and a single word, designed to help people "slow down, go inward, honor what's sacred, and live a more meaningful life."

Now . . . that's a pretty tall order!  But I was intrigued by her Sacred Invitation Deck.  I commented on Michelle's blog that day - which entered me in a contest to win a deck of my own.

And I won.

So now I have this deck of . . . invitations.  (The cards are really lovely, by the way.)  There are no instructions for how to use the cards, although Jen makes a few suggestions.

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One day last week, I decided to just pull a random card from the deck.  To just . . . live with it for awhile.  To see if it spoke to me in some way -- especially because I could feel a moody-broody spell coming on.

I pulled this card . . .

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and I propped it up on my desk.  I found myself returning to this word all week and into the weekend.  I started noticing what I was doing -- and how I savored doing these things.

Just little things.

  • The coziness of my flannel sheets and how inviting it is to climb into bed.
  • The way the ink flows in a particularly satisfying way when I write with my favorite pen.
  • How natural and joyful it is laugh with Tom about silly things on the tv.
  • How relaxing it is to just watch the sun go down - without rushing for my camera.
  • To look down at the gym and smile because of the bright blue shoelaces on my gym shoes.
  • To catch the joy in watching my dogs romp in the yard with a stick.
  • How delightful it is to catching the morning light as it breaks over the fence in my garden.
  • How comforting to light candles in the evening after the sun goes down.

I realized that this random card I pulled out of a random deck of inspiration-cards that I won in a random drawing because I read a random blog post one day . . . was helping me create an "Area of Refuge" for myself.  A way to calm my brain and take me out of the moody-broody place in my head.

I'm going to live with this card for a few more days.  And then, when I feel like it, I'm going to choose another card . . . and see where it takes me.

Happy Monday.


At the Movies

As you've probably heard by now, the Oscar nominations for 2018 were announced earlier this week.  The speculating is over!  It's time to get serious about going to the movies!

Tom and I have been on our annual Movie Mission since October.  This year we've stayed pretty much ahead of the Oscar-watching game (we've already seen 7 of the 9 movies nominated for Best Picture) -- and we're looking forward to rounding out our viewing before March 4.

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Want to jump on the Oscar-watching bandwagon?  (Because there are some very good movies out there this year!)  Here are 3 tips from Tom and I:

1 -- Make a list.  Just google "oscar nominations 2018" and you'll find boatloads of nominee lists.  This one is particularly good, and includes some analysis, too.

2 -- Watch what you can at home.  Several of the nominated movies are already available for streaming at home (Get Out, Dunkirk, The Big Sick) -- and more will be available by the time March 4 comes around.  Here is a list of nominees currently available for screening (and where to screen them).  It's especially helpful if you're interested in seeing some of the films in more obscure categories.

3 -- Get to the theater.  You're going to have to go to the theatre if you want to see most of the movies in the Best Picture category, I'm afraid.  But that's fun, too!  If you aren't a regular movie-goer, you may be surprised to discover you can order your tickets online ahead of time (even days ahead of time if you plan early) -- and you can choose your own reserved seats.  (If you're really lucky, you might find that your theatre has recliner-seats and a full bar.  The times they are a'changing when it comes to the movie theater experience.)

So.  Which movie are you most excited about this year in the Best Picture category???

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Head over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday lists!


Cleansing the Palate

In high school, I was in French Club.  Each year, we had a big outing to a French restaurant down in Colorado.  We got really dressed up.  We could only speak en fran├žais.  We ate French cuisine ordered from French menus.  We always tried escargot.  It was a Big Deal.

I remember being so surprised, my first time at the French restaurant, when they brought out a citrus sorbet between the first and second courses.

To cleanse the palate, they said.  (In French, of course.)

Huh? I said.  (Also in French.)

Because, yeah.  Palate cleansers weren't A Thing in my casserole-eating family.

Let's just say . . . I've come a long way since then.  Not that I typically serve palate cleansers on a regular basis or anything.  But at least I know what they are now -- and the purpose they serve in preparing one for . . . the next course.

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I guess you could say I'm knitting the equivalent of a palate cleanser right now.

I finished my sweater on Sunday (but haven't had a chance to weave in the ends or block it), and I'm not ready to jump in to another big project quite yet.  So I'm . . . cleansing my knitting palate . . . with a simple little project.  (This one.)  Quick.  Satisfying.  Different.  By the time I'm finished knitting it, maybe I should be ready for my next big project.

My reading is tending toward the palate cleansing as well, it seems.  Feeling rather weighed down by the books I was reading, I decided I needed a little break. . . and gobbled up the sixth book in Ann Cleeves' Shetland series, Thin Air.  It turned out to be just what I needed.

Sometimes a little palate cleanser really does the trick!

 


Focus. Or . . . Ferris Was Right

When I try to explain why I chose FOCUS as my one little word for 2018, I start here.  With Ferris Bueller. 

And that's it, really, in a nutshell. 

Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

I want to stop and look around for awhile.  

I want to focus . . . on what I might be missing; what I'm not seeing . . . because I'm too busy looking at what I'm already seeing.  

I want to find out what happens if I . . . adjust my focus?

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I think it's going to be an interesting year!


Sometimes Mondays

. . . require a fresh perspective.

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When I went to bed last night (early and exhausted), I was feeling particularly rotten about myself -- and how I'd managed to have such a busy weekend, yet gotten "nothing done." (Y'know . . . things on my weekend to-do list.  The laundry, for example.  Cleaning my bathroom.  Sorting through the mail on my desk.  Preparing for a big meeting today.)

Tom challenged me to think about it differently.  He reminded me that I did a lot of things this weekend - really good and important things.  (Things on my calendar, but not on my weekend to-do list.  Working out, for example.  Meeting a friend for coffee.  A League of Women Voters program meeting.  Going to a movie.  The Women's March.)

I'm thinking I made the wrong to-do list for the weekend.  Maybe it was a super-successful weekend after all.  And the laundry can wait.
(And THAT's a re-freshing perspective.)