Spinning in Circles With Options

For the past several months, I've been driven by deadlines.  We're not talking Big Scary Deadlines here . . . just an ongoing steam of things I needed to do by a certain day.  Setting up my daily task list was simple and clear -- because there were these deadlines to meet!  

Now that doesn't mean I always got everything done that I intended to do, of course (because I didn't).  But I did have a structure and an overarching plan of attack to keep me moving.  

Because . . . deadlines.


Now, at least for a few days, I've reached a (temporary) lull in the action.  No immediate deadlines.  Nothing pressing or urgent.  Just a few open days . . . with (pretty much) nothing scheduled.  This doesn't mean I don't have anything to do.  (Because HA!)  It just means . . . I'm not feeling immediately pressured to do A Thing because of a deadline.  

Which is . . . kind of a weird feeling.

What to do first?
Where to begin?
So. Many. Options.
(As in . . . spinning in circles with options.)

So.  That's my weekend.  How about yours?


And, if you're not going to Rhinebeck this weekend, consider celebrating Rhinebeck at home!  Check out Bridget's plan for going to Rhinebeck by staying home.  (One thing on my for-sure to do list today . . . is buying some Rhinebeck-ish donuts!!!)




C'mon Along

. . . as I drive around this morning!

First stop -- the gym.  It's an early morning workout with my trainer.


Next stop -- the library.  Three books are on hold for me!


And finally . . . the KIA.  My drawing class is about to begin.

1C0D293D-8B64-4E1C-877E-015C1CF763F5Where have you been today?


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

A Retreat of Our Own

Almost two years ago, Vicki and I took a trip together . . . to Alabama for an Alabama Chanin stitching workshop. Somewhere along the way, we stopped on the side of the road to take photos of the cotton growing in the fields.

Last Thursday, we were together again, driving in northern Michigan . . . and, once more, we stopped on the side of the road for photos.  This time, though, it was pumpkins growing in the fields that caught our eye.


Vicki and I first hatched our plan . . . to create our own Alabama Chanin "retreat" where we could stitch and cut and paint and plan together . . . about a year ago.  I knew it would be lots of fun and inspirational to spend time with Vicki again.  I had no idea how productive we'd be, though!  Creating Alabama Chanin garments is complicated.  There are so many options and so many choices:  pattern, fabric, color, stencil design, paint colors, embellishments.  It takes a while to sort through and figure out exactly what you want to DO!  It's much more fun - and much more productive - to discuss and talk it all out with someone else who is as geeked about the process as you are! 

And then . . . even when you have your ideas all figured out and clear in your imagination . . . you still have to do all the prep work.  Which is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and messy!

I can't tell you how much better it is to do this with a partner-in-crime!  (Especially when she brings her air compressor and an airbrush.  And teaches you how to use it.)


So now . . . in addition to my memories of a fun week with Vicki . . .  I have four (!) Alabama Chanin projects planned, (mostly) cut, stenciled, and ready to go.  (And - bonus - I have new airbrushing skills AND an air compressor of my own now.)

A great week - and a perfect retreat - all the way around!


In Lieu of Fall Color

(For a soundtrack for today's post, click here.*)


So . . . I've finished another sweater.

I can't really believe I've knit so many sweaters so quickly lately.  Because this is not how I usually operate.  (It helps that they've all been cropped and/or sleeveless and/or knit at a bigger-than-usual gauge.)  (Just sayin.)  

I had planned to do the backyard-photo-shoot for this sweater with a backdrop of fall color.  But that just isn't happening here yet (still very green).  So I decided to use a pumpkin as a prop . . . in lieu of fall color.


But then I couldn't really figure out what to do with it.

So Tom said . . . Why don't you put it on your head?

And I did.




There you have it!

A pumpkin on my head . . . in lieu of fall color.

(Ravelry details here.)


* I linked to Eva Cassidy's version of Field of Gold.  This is one of my all-time favorite songs, and while I love Sting's original version, I find Eva Cassidy's cover to be just lovely.  And so beautifully haunting.  Enjoy.


Read With Us


I'm a read-in-bed kind of person.  Most nights, before I go to sleep, I read a chapter of something.  (I have a nifty little book light for "traditional" books, and I love the "night reading" feature on my iPad for digital books.)  (So I don't bug Tom while I read, y'know?  Because he is generally not a read-in-bed kind of person.)  Right now, my before-sleep reading is Just Mercy, our Read With Us book selection for this quarter.  It’s a compelling read -- and I’m getting caught up in the stories author Bryan Stevenson is telling.

There’s still plenty of time to join us as we read Just Mercy this quarter.  This month, we’re providing some background information about the book.  Next month, we’ll begin posting some discussion questions so we can talk about the book together.  I hope you’ll join us!  It's easy.  There's nothing to sign up for or commit to.  All you need to do . . . is read with us!

Whenever I read a memoir*, I always find that I get more and more curious about the author as I read, and it’s been no different with this memoir, Just Mercy.  As I’m reading, I’m also doing quite a bit of Googling about the author, Bryan Stevenson.

Bryan stevenson

Bryan Stevenson. 
(Photo: Nick Frontiero/Pacific Standard)

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned about him:

  • Bryan Stevenson was born in the same year I was . . . 1959. (We graduated from high school the same year, too . . . 1977.)  He grew up poor in rural Delaware, in a community where segregation was the norm – even after integration in the early 1960s.  As a child, Bryan was a talented pianist and singer.  He traveled and performed with his church choir.  Bryan’s great grandparents were slaves in Virginia; his grandfather was murdered in a Philadelphia housing project when Bryan was a teenager.
  • He attended Eastern College (now Eastern University) in Pennsylvania, and then went on to Harvard Law School. As you’ll read in Just Mercy, his law school classes weren’t quite resonating with him – until he did an internship with Southern Prisoners Defense Committee based in Atlanta and first worked with death row prisoners.  Then . . . his career path was clear, and he made this his life's work.
  • Alabama is the only death-penalty state that doesn’t provide state-funded legal assistance to death row inmates. To address this inequity, Bryan founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989, and remains its executive director.  In his 30 year career with EJI, Bryan Stevenson has won relief for scores of condemned prisoners, exonerating a number of innocent ones.  He fought to end the death penalty and life sentences without parole for juveniles, and continues to work for improvement in the treatment of the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, and children in prison.
  • In addition to his work in the courtroom, Bryan has also led the creation of two cultural sites which opened in 2018:  the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. 
  • An HBO documentary about Bryan and his work with EJI, True Justice, premiered in June.  (Watch the trailer below.)  In December, Just Mercy - a movie based on the book we're reading, will be out in theaters.  You can see the trailer for the movie here

To read a more comprehensive summary of Bryan Stevenson’s accomplishments and accolades, click here.  To learn more about his philosophy and commitment to breaking down bias by teaching/talking about racial trauma, segregation, and listening to marginalized voices, you may want to read this excellent interview in the Pacific Standard.

I do hope you’ll join us over the next few weeks as we read Just Mercy.

Read With Us!


*If you’re wondering what the difference is between an autobiography and a memoir, click here for a helpful description.


Read Bonny's post from last Tuesday with even more information about Just Mercy.  And watch for another post next Tuesday when Carole adds her perspective.


Start Your Engines

Another Monday.  Let's get it started . . .



With a Quote

"If today were the last day of your life, would you do what you were going to do today?"
  --- Steve Jobs



And Some Timely Words


Yes!  You can click here for a nifty guide to 10 words and terms associated with . . .  impeachment.  Each word/term is defined -- and you can read background information for each one. (Test your knowledge!  Stay ahead of the news cycle!  Impress your friends!)  

The words?  Impeachment.  Treason.  Bribery.  High Crimes and Misdemeanors.  Suborn.  Perjury.  Obstruction of Justice.  Supermajority.  Corruptionist.  Maladministration.


And Something to Read


Many of us are trying to form or create new habits -- habits that will make us happier and healthier.  But . . . it's hard!  And our attempts don't always (probably more like usually) don't work.  Ever wonder why?  

Here's an article that explains the difference between habits . . . and routines.  

According to the article, a habit is a behavior done with little or no thought, while a routine is a series of actions regularly followed -- and we need to accept that only certain kinds of behaviors can become habits.  

I thought this was a fascinating explanation, and an interesting perspective. (Sorry, Gretchen.  Even signing up for your newsletters or using your "accountability app" cannot help us change routines into habits, no matter our tendency.)  It makes me realize . . . that my going to the gym is NOT a habit.  It is a routine! 


And a Factoid
(a true and not even trivial FACT)

It was back in 1974 (I was in 9th grade, just for some perspective) that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act made it illegal for banks to refuse women credit cards without a husband's signature.


And that's it for today!
I hope your week is off to a good start!


A Gentle Reminder

Yesterday was a cool and rainy day here in my corner of the world.  I was running from one thing to another, and generally grumbly about having to get a cavity filled at the dentist.  I was feeling . . . put out.  Wishing I could work in my garden.  Really not wanting to go to the dentist.  Overwhelmed by the news (as usual).  And angst-ing about this and that (as one does).

And, sitting in my car in the garage, I noticed this out the window . . . 


There was a giant spider web hanging between one of my hydrangeas and my viburnum . . . just outside the garage window.  I got out of the car and into the garden to look closer.  My photo just doesn't do it justice because the background was simply "too busy."  You'll just have to imagine a delicate spider web about 2 feet across . . . covered in water droplets.  It was magnificent!

I still had to get back in the car to go my dentist appointment.  
There was still the news-overwhelm.  
And I remained vexed about a few other (very minor in the grand scheme of things) issues.  

But . . . magic!  

It was a perfect, gentle reminder for me . . . to pay attention.  To look for the good and the beautiful.
Because it's there.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Hello, October!

October is here . . . and I have a new monthly bucket list.


Oh, sure . . . you might notice that some of the things on my October list are leftovers from previous monthly bucket lists (looking at you "clean fridge"), but mostly my list is full of new things I want to do this month.

Three items that might need a bit more explanation:

Sew four pairs of leggings.  (What?????)  Last fall, I made a pair of leggings (Pants No. 2 from Sonya Phillips), and I love them.  I wore them all the time last winter, and decided I wanted more.  So I bought fabric for four more pairs . . . and then never made them.  Now that cooler weather is coming, I've decided to have myself a Leggings Marathon!  I'm going to cut out and sew all four pairs "factory style" for maximum efficiency.  

Finish my 3/4-finished Alabama Chanin tunic.  Last year, I sewed nearly all of an Alabama Chanin wrap dress in the tunic length (and with long sleeves).  I got so very close to the finish line . . . and just stopped.  (I think I realized that I had forgotten to cut out the neck binding and was too lazy to do it.  Or something equally lame.)  It's time to finish!  All I have left are the ties, the facing, and the neck binding (which I cut out last weekend, so no excuses).

Solstice party timeline.  Yeah.  I know the party isn't until December.  But we've been having this party long enough now . . . that I know the sooner I get the timeline and master to-do lists ready, the easier the whole thing comes together.  And in December, it's all about ease and advance planning, y'know?

How about YOU?  What's on your "bucket list" for October?


Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts.

Early Hours

I get up early every morning.  On purpose . . . with no purpose.  The house is quiet.  It's dark these days.  I grab a cup of coffee.  And my knitting.


I start each morning this way . . . with just a little bit of knitting.  Enough for me to center myself.  It's a kind of meditation, really.  Just stitch after stitch, one at a time.  Not much thinking.  Just the doing.

And then, after my coffee and this bit of knitting, I'm ready to move on with the rest of my day.

How about you?  How do you begin . . . in the morning?

Shifting Gears . . . But Just a Little

Over the summer, I've been writing quite a few posts about the importance of strength training.  I've tried to convince y'all to include strength training in your regular workouts.  I've suggested a few workouts you can try at home, and I've described some tools and equipment you might want to have on hand to help with your strength training workouts.

Today, I'm going to shift gears a little.  Just a little.  Oh, I still think strength training is vital -- and especially as we prepare ourselves for more graceful and active aging.  But today I want to talk about . . . functional fitness.

(Such a lovely shot . . . but . . . I notice the benefits of functional fitness most when I'm working in the garden.)

Functional fitness . . . is, basically, exercise that helps your muscles move together to improve daily living.  It's about training your body to handle the things you do every day (bending over to tie your shoe, lifting grocery bags out of the car, reaching up for something on a high shelf, pushing a wheelbarrow, lifting a child, getting out of a chair) or to prepare you to react well in unexpected life situations (getting up off the ground after a fall, preventing a trip on the stairs).

Most of us don't injure ourselves when we're just working out at the gym -- focusing on a specific muscle group or working in a more controlled environment.  Nope . . . we injure ourselves when we're doing everyday things  . . . working in the garden or shoveling snow or moving furniture or painting the ceiling.  We twist in the wrong way or we trip over a hose or we miss a step or we lift with our back instead of our legs.

Functional fitness exercises can help make everyday movement easier. . . by mirroring the things we do in our daily activities.  These kinds of exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, and get you crossing planes (side to side or front to back movement) and working on different levels -- just like you do in everyday activities.

Most fitness classes at the gym incorporate functional fitness work.  Trainers, too, emphasize functional fitness exercises.  Here are several exercises you can do at home as part of your workout.  (Here's another workout, in case you're looking for even more ideas.)  (And here's a list of 7 functional exercises to do every day from SilverSneakers -- the folks who specialize in fitness for the senior set.)


Functional fitness makes living an "everyday life" easier.  We can work more efficiently with less effort -- AND with less likelihood of injury -- when we prep our bodies to do the work!

So.  What do you think?  Do you incorporate functional fitness exercises into your workouts?


Be sure to visit Bonny today for our first Read With Us post about this quarter's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  I hope you'll read along with us and join the discussion next month!