Fade Away

. . . and radiate!

(Here's a link to the soundtrack for today's post, should you want to hear a little Blondie.)

Tom and I have a new grand niece due to arrive any day. So I made her a little sweater.

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If Panic at the Disco! was the name of a song instead of the name of a band, THAT would be the name of this sweater. Because . . . I was definitely going to run out of yarn for this one! It's such a panicky feeling to know you're cutting it close, but not be quite sure. I had my little scale out and I was doing maths like crazy. But it was clear I was going to run out of yarn before I ran out of sweater.

In the end, I decided to attempt a fade. (My first.)

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And it worked!

PHEW. . . 

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You can read all about how I got myself INTO that pickle in the first place - and see all my other project notes - over on Ravelry here. (I'm sorry if you're having vision/vestibular issues with Ravelry these days; please send me an email if you'd like more details on how I knit this.)

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How about YOU? What'cha making?

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And be sure to visit Kat today for more Unraveled fun.

 

 


Read With Us: Wild Game

Read With Us

Have you started reading the latest Read With Us book selection yet?
(I haven't yet. But I will soon!)

As a reminder, for this go-round, we'll be reading Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur.

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According to the book description on Goodreads:

Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us. 

The book created a lot of buzz late last year, being named to several "best of 2019" book lists, including NPR, The Washington Post, Slate, Library Review, and others. I first heard about the book when Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft selected it as one of their Happier podcast book club selections. I thought it sounded intriguing . . . and then when I listened to the podcast episode discussing the book, I knew I wanted to read it.

I hope you'll pick up a copy and Read With Us!

You've got several weeks to grab the book and get reading (I hear it's very engaging and a fairly quick read at 256 pages). I noticed yesterday that it's available for Kindle for $2.99 (hurry, though; that price may go up at any moment), and a quick search at my library showed that it's currently available on the shelves (your local library results may vary, but I'm betting it's not currently a "hot read").

We'll be discussing the book on all three blogs (different questions; different discussions) on Tuesday, August 11. 

C'mon along! Read With Us!

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Here's a link to the Happier podcast book group discussion in case you're interested in hearing that before (or after!) you read the book. It's fascinating to hear the "inside scoop" provided by author Adrienne Brodeur, who appears on the podcast with Gretchen and Elizabeth.


Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine

Hey, gang. It's Monday again! Time to . . . 

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Nice long weekend? Watch Hamilton?
Yeah. Here, too. I hope you stayed home and stayed safe!
(JoJo is VERY pleased that the fireworks have lessened considerably in our neighborhood.) (It was a tough couple of nights, but we got through it.)

As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend.

(And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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"Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be."
            -- Eeyore

(Yeah. I know. Sometimes it's just . . . the quote that makes the most sense to me at the time.)

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Last week, I introduced (or re-introduced!) you to the Faith Ringgold and her Tar Beach quilt. This week? Let's check out the quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins! You may already have seen this article and accompanying images -- they were published in the New York Times last week, and then picked up by Ann and Kay at Modern Daily Knitting and elsewhere in the fiber world. I still want to share the link here, though. Just in case you missed seeing it last week -- or if you'd like to see those quilts again.

Incredible stuff! The quilts. The story. Every stitch. Check it out -- you're in for a treat!

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How about a little D-I-Y "project"??? I know a lot of you have probably headed back in to the hair salon already . . . but I haven't. And I don't plan to for a while longer. (Actually, probably a lot longer.) It helps that my hair is already its natural color. And that I was growing it out before the pandemic. But . . . there's the question of my bangs. Grow them out? Keep them shorter? I've given myself frequent trims over the past few months, but this may be the time to just let them grow.

Anyway . . . our local "paper" (which is online these days) published an article last week with tips for cutting your own bangs, complete with a video featuring (apparently famous???) hair stylist Brad Mondo walking three women through cutting their own bangs. I got some good tips, and I thought maybe you might, too. Click here to watch the video.

(Tom is also letting his hair grow. His goal? A ponytail.)

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Maybe you've heard, but probably you haven't . . . it's Plastic Free July. Yes, it's A Thing. This month there is a global challenge to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives, and particularly single-use plastics. The environment (in general) is not getting much news-time these days, but it's still there . . . clamoring for our attention. We may not be able to bring our own grocery bags to the store right now, but there are plenty of other things we can do this month to use less plastic. 

Check out the Plastic Free July website for more information and ideas about going plastic-free this month. You can also check out this list of 5 tips for reducing plastic disposables from Greenmatters.

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And what kind of Start Your Engines post would I be putting together without a few tidbits from CoronaLisa???

Starting off, here's a great little article from The Atlantic about taking personal responsibility in the time of re-opening: Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should. Read it whenever you feel like . . . caving. Stay strong, my friends. (Cut you own bangs. . . )

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Then, here's a really interesting site: The Harvard Global Health Institute has put together a COVID Risk Levels Dashboard to provide you with detailed risk levels for each county in the United States. It's updated frequently and includes a lot of other helpful information besides the dashboard. This is a helpful collection of metrics, and especially useful since . . . it's all on us to make our own decisions about what we do or don't do.

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And then . . . I know that most of you already know that the federal response to the pandemic has been a total toxic dumpster hellfire. Well . . . this article from The Atlantic spells it all out for us. This is an excellent, important, and sobering article. Well worth the time it will take you to read it. Share it with your friends.

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Let's end on a high note, shall we? This article will warm your reading hearts! It's the story of a retired Cincinnati teacher . . . and how she started the Book Bus, a mobile book store (complete with book groups!). 

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 

 


Poetry for a Friday

Like many of you, we are celebrating a very quiet 4th of July this year. It doesn't feel celebratory. It just feels . . . quiet. And more than a little sad. 

Yet . . . here we are.

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I've been thinking about 4th of Julys in days-gone-by. Parades. Cookouts. Family picnics. Watermelon. Fireworks at the lake.

This year? It's me and Tom . . . and Hamilton on tv.
And JoJo in her ThunderVest, cowering under our feet.

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Poor JoJo. 

Maybe you've seen the "We are all Fauci" t-shirts? Well. I think I should create a "We are all JoJo" t-shirt from this picture. Because here we are, feeling just like JoJo . . . bewildered, afraid, confused, and strapped into a ThunderShirt while living through "hell week." (If you're into fireworks, please think of all the petrified animals out there this weekend. And maybe re-consider the whole practice.)

Anyway. Here's a poem for you on this Friday. May it bring to mind happier celebrations in past days (certainly) -- and in the future (hopefully). And . . . may it serve as a reminder that we can still find and share joy.

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In the Fourth of July Parade
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Right down the middle of main street
the woman with the long red braids
and fairy wings strapped to her back
rode a unicycle more than two times
taller than she was—rode it with balance
and grace, her arms stretched out,
as if swimming through gravity,
as if embracing space—her smile an invitation
to join in her bliss. How simple it is, really,
to make of ourselves a gate that swings open
to the joy that is. How simple, like tossing
candy in a parade, to share the key to the gate.

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.) (Also Hamilton.)

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Today's poem was published in American Life In Poetry: Column 797, edited by Ted Kooser.  Information about the poet can be found here

 


Shake Things Up Once In A While

We have a little patio right off the kitchen at our house. In the summertime, it's a true extension of our house; our outoor living room.

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(Here's Jenny, giving you a warm welcome earlier this summer.) It's comfortable and easy and there are patio lights hanging for evenings. Tom's grill is out there; my herb garden borders one side of the patio, and there is a garden path on the other side leading to a large garden bed.  Because it's on the east side of our house, it's shady in the afternoon and evening, and - somehow - always comfortable, even on the hottest days. Tom and I meet there every evening for a drink on the patio.

But the other night? We shook things up!

You see . . . we have another patio in our garden. It's in a more remote corner, and far from the kitchen (although easily accessible through a slider in our basement). We call it "Tom's garden" -- because Tom built the brick patio and put in a small retaining wall to make the space happen in the first place.

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It's kind of a ... secret garden.
Secluded and private -- and cool and shady, there under the "umbrella" of a golden redbud tree.

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Earlier this week, we decided do something different . . . to meet in "Tom's garden" for drinks instead of on the patio. It was so nice back there. Such a treat to shake things up -- just a little bit.

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(Yeah. Tom built a fire pit. But we don't really use it.) (Long story.)

Sitting there, relaxing, we realized we were seeing our yard from a whole different perspective. It got me thinking about . . . what we do out of habit and routine. And how a shift of location - even just a slight shift - can help you see things in whole new ways.

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Like . . . I had no idea you could see our tri-color beech tree from that back patio! Such a lovely surprise in the very early evening light.

Anyway. This is a long and rather drawn out way to say that -- especially these days - it's important to shake things up however we can. Use my patio story as a reminder to . . . 

  • break out of your daily patterns and habits
  • try something just slightly different: move to a different room -- or chair or corner
  • see things from a new angle

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Give it a try! Shake things up!

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(Can this really loose ramble of a post qualify as a Three on Thursday post? Maybe?) Be sure to check out Carole's blog today for more Three on Thursday fun.

 

 

 


Inspiration You Can Eat

You never know when inspiration will strike.

It could be . . . a pattern of leaves. Or the light falling across the landscape. Maybe it's a shadow. Or the way colors work together. A particular texture, even.

Or . . . it could be a simple colander full of fresh blueberries that gets the inspiration flowing!

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That happened to me yesterday. I didn't wake up planning to go on a bit of a baking binge, but it happened all the same . . . as soon as I saw those blueberries. (And smelled the fresh nectarines on my counter.) (And maybe it could even be the latest season of The Great British Baking Show. Who knows?)

But, suddenly, I was all in!

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First up, pie crust. Then, while that cooled in the fridge, I was on to blueberry muffins. (Which were quite fine, warm from the oven with a glass of Chardonnay out on the patio, I might add.)

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But then. . . the pièce de résistance! 

A blueberry nectarine galette. (Kinda like a pie, but more rustic and a little less fussy.)

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And that, folks? 
That was dinner!

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Inspiration . . . you can eat!


Still Rooted. Still Flowing.

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Here we are.
At the midpoint of 2020.
(Hard to believe, I know.) (Time is so out-of-whack.)
(SO. OUT. OF. WHACK.)

Usually . . . in the Before Times . . . about now I'd be looking back at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I'd be assessing. Figuring out if my goals were working. If they were actually a reasonable set of guidelines. Or not. And plot out where I might need to go next.

But this year?

Well.

First of all, I didn't ever SET any goals for myself for 2020.

(Prescient? Ummm. No.)

I didn't go along with the "20 for 20" thing.

(Clairvoyant? Ummm. No.)

It was just . . . with a word like "flow" . . . well. You just don't want to box yourself in now, do you?

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Instead, I set myself a few wide-open intentions for 2020:

  • be healthy and get strong
  • practice the things I love
  • pay attention to the moon
  • be kind
  • let love flow
  • focus on flexibility and stretching
  • keep my eyes open
  • be mindful of the world I live in
  • SHOW UP
  • make space

Hmmm.

I kinda look like a freaking genius now, don't I? 

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Because never ever in my history . . . have I established a set of intentions that so perfectly fits the reality . . . of the life that is unfolding. (But maybe we could all say that for whatever word we picked this year. Because these words do seem to show us things -- if we allow them to.)

So. Where I am at the mid-point with my word?

FLOW.

Point yourself in a direction.
See where it takes you.
And ride it out, baby. Ride it out.

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How about you? How are you doing? And if you have a word for 2020, how is it serving you?

 


Start. Your. D@mn. Engines.

Yep. It's the last Monday in June. And I see no significant improvement in my Mood.
(Working on it though.) 
Let's go. Time to . . . 

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As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend.

(And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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"Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up."
        --- Brené Brown

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I'm showing up.
It might not be pretty.
But here I am.
(How about you?)

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It's the tail end of June already.
And the end of Pride Month. 

Ever wonder how the rainbow flag came to be the symbol of the LGBTQIA movement? Well. Here's the story. (And it's a good one!)

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When Erin was a little girl, one of our favorite books to read together was Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. For both of us, that book was pure wonder! The colors. The textures. The story. The magic. I was entranced by the quilt behind the story. (And the colors.) Erin was completely taken by a little girl who could fly!!! 

Ever since seeing that book for the first time, I have been enamored with the work of Faith Ringgold. I was able to see it in person when I was in Washngton D.C. during the mid-90s and caught a special exhibition. I was thrilled over the weekend when I found this blog post from Selvedge Magazine about her work -- which includes a couple of interviews. I highly recommend spending some time getting to know Faith Ringgold. (And if you haven't discovered Tar Beach . . . oh. do check it out! You'll be delighted!)

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If you've ever seen Hamilton, you already know this:

You'll never be satisfied . . . (ahem) with seeing it once.

Take it from me. I've seen it FOUR times. And every time - before the first act is even over - I'm already telling myself I MUST (simply MUST) see it again.

So.

I am counting down the days until July 3 -- when the film version of the Broadway musical comes to Disney Plus. (I signed up for Disney Plus just for the occasion!) If you haven't been able to see Hamilton yet, here's your chance! (Or if you're like me and just haven't been able to see it ENOUGH.)

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I know, I know. I wish she wasn't still around either. But Corona Lisa still has Things To Say.

First, you probably already saw this, but just in case you didn't . . . here's a little PSA for you. The FDA put out a "do not use" warning about hand sanitizer made be a company called Eskbiochem last week. The sanitizer uses a toxic ingredient (methanol) that can be absorbed through the skin. So you might want to check out the list of santizing products they make. 

Next, are you wondering about going to the dentist these days? I was due for my regular cleaning appointment in late March. Obviously, that was canceled. But the office called to reschedule. I asked a lot of questions . . . and found out that my dentist had installed an entirely new filtering HVAC system AND implemented many coronavirus "practices." I was convinced, and I set up my appointment for late July (it took a while to get in because I requested a first-of-day appointment to lessen my risk even further). Here's an article from the Washington Post about what to look for as you return to the dentist. (Turns out it's a whole lot safer than going for . . . oh, say a drink at a bar.)

And finally. I know most of you are already pros at wearing your masks. But here are some helpful tips for finding, proper fitting, and wearing masks (from the NY Times). Maybe you can share them with a new mask-wearer in your life.

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Well. It may be awhile before we're welcome in Europe, but we can still take an Armchair Adventure. This week, here's an incredible journey to the Dolomites in Italy. Happy (armchair) travels to you!

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 


Fridays Are For Poetry

If you've been reading along this week, you know I've been in A Mood.

And whenever I'm in A Mood -- any kind of mood, really -- I can always find poetry that mirrors the way I feel; that gives me the words I need at the moment. I've been reading poetry for a long time . . . long enough to know which poets might best suit my current mood. This week? I grabbed Jane Hirshfield off my shelf. I opened the book at random (which is how I read poetry) and immediately found a few poems that were perfect for me for now.

I'm going to share one of my favorite Jane Hirshfield poems today. I know I've shared it before (it's been a long time, though), so forgive me for the repeat. It just seems particularly relevant.

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Balance
Jane Hirshfield

Balance is noticed most when almost failed of --  

in an elephant's delicate wavering
on her circus stool, for instance,
or that moment
when a ladder starts to tip but steadies back.

There are, too, its mysterious departures.

Hours after the dishes are washed and stacked,
a metal bowl clangs to the floor,
the weight of drying water all that altered;
a painting vertical for years
one morning - why? - requires a restoring tap.

You have felt it disappearing
from your own capricious heart --
a restlessness enters, the smallest leaning begins.

Already then inevitable,
the full collision,
the life you will describe afterward always as 'after.'

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)

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Today's poem was published in Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems, by Jane Hirshfield , 2016, Bloodaxe Books.  Information about the poet can be found here