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July 2009

June 2009

Twenty? Bogus!

Today is a special day -- Erin's birthday!

Erin at K's grad party

Which is, technically, also an anniversary for me.  Of the Day I Became a Mom.  Having a baby is such a total, life-changing moment.  One day, you're an individual unit -- able to manage your own schedule and run errrands on a whim.  And the next day -- wham!  You're a Mom.  And life will never be the same again.

Newborn erin

I remember when we first brought baby Erin home.  I sat there and looked at her . . . and panicked.  I absolutely couldn't believe they let me leave the hospital with her!  I had no idea what to do.  I had no supervision.  I had no certification from Mom School.  I knew nothing.  My own Mom just looked at me like I was from another planet and calmly explained that We Moms Just Make It Up As We Go Along.

So that's what I've been doing.  For 20 years now.  Making it Up as We Go Along.  (I also cross my fingers, but that's my own variation.)

Happy erin 

Lucky for me, Erin was a willing participant in my Great Mom Experiment.  Erin let me know right from the start What Was What and Who Would Be In Charge.  She proved to be headstrong, independent, funny, smart, and perceptive.  Oh, and with a flair for the dramatic.

Early diva

Erin spent her early childhood In Costume.  (Can you say Diva?)

Robin hood erin 

It's been a delight to watch your life unfold, Erin (well, maybe that would be pushing it there during the Middle School years-from-hell. . . but, taken in a general sense, you get my meaning).  Life with you has never been dull!  We're so happy to be along for this ride.  (I'd like to take credit for this myself, you know, because of my stellar Mothering Skills.  However, I can't.  It's Erin.  She is independent and headstrong -- and never one to be held back.  The sky's the limit for this one!)

The Diva - Solo & Ensemble 

Happy Birthday, Girlie!  Twenty years gone by. . . in the blink of an eye.

Oh, and about that being 20?  So bogus. . .don't you think?  I mean, 19 is a bit poetic, even if you don't hit any age-milestones.  19 . . . just oozes with a certain "knowingness," kind of youthful-maturity-meets-juicy.  And 21?  Well, we all know that 21 is the REAL gateway to adulthood.  But 20?  Bogus.  It's just. . . 364 days until you can drink legally.

Erin's New Do 018 

And this?  This is for Nanny and Poppy (Erin's biggest fans), so you can watch any time you want!

This video clip is from Erin's final piano recital in 2007.  Her piano teacher hosted 2-part recitals: the first half was your standard piano recital, but the second half was pure fun!  He let his students highlight their broader talents.  While Erin is a trained classical singer, this performance gave her a chance to try something else!

Two of My Worlds Collide

A different kind of flower appeared in my garden yesterday.  A crocheted flower.

Love is a Rose 003

For my Summer Breeze cardigan.

Summer Breeze 007

This is Amy King's Sprout pattern, and you can find all the details on my Ravelry page.  When I first bought this yarn (Cascade Sierra in a color called "Lemon Grass"), it seemed like a bright, greenish color.  But the more sweater I knit, the more . . . chartreuse. . . the color became.  Kind of neon.  And it reminded me (hate to say this. . . ) of snot.  What to do?  Why, bright buttons and an over-the-top flower embellishment, of course!  I do think the buttons and flower tone down the color of the sweater, and now it'll be a fun cardigan to wear to gardening-related events (where we tend to go nuts over any flower-themed clothing, and vegetable earrings can be a major distraction).  The flower is crocheted from the book Crochet Bouquet.  It's the "Popcorn in the Middle" design.  Fun book!

Here's the back of the sweater:

Summer Breeze 015

Which provides a perfect seque to my clematis (in the background), which has exPLOded!

Clematis in Bloom June 12 09 001

The blooms are crowding each other out!

Clematis in Bloom June 12 09 003

Love.  Them.

Clematis in Bloom June 12 09 002

Why I Love Shrub Roses

I pretty much like flowers.  All flowers.  From the complex hydrangea to the humble marigold, from tropical exotics to highway wildflowers, there is a place in my heart. But nothing compares to the joy I get from the hard-working, simple shrub rose!  

Blooms June 7 2009 007

I have about a dozen shrub roses, spread among my garden beds.  They're easy to take care of, and they offer blooms from now until October! 

Garden June 10 09 004

For example, this simple Knock-Out rose will bloom like crazy all summer long - with little effort from me!  (That's lavender there at Miss Knock-Out's feet.  It surrounds her -- and makes a glorious combination that smells great, too.  I can't wait til it blooms.)

There's just something so sweet about a rosebud, just opening.  I can't resist 'em!

Garden June 10 09 013

I'm just charmed!

Blooms June 7 2009 004

My favorite is a simple, 5-petal shrub rose called Watercolor.  The buds are striped - yellow and dark pink - which is interesting enough.  But when they open, they look like this:

Blooms June 7 2009 003

And when they catch the light, they look like this:

Garden June 10 09 009

And this:

Garden June 10 09 011

Yep.  I'm a total sucker for shrub roses.

A Rude Awakening and the Best Thing About Peonies

This is how I start my day.  Every day.

Start the Day

So it is with Great Sadness that I report the demise of Mr. Coffee.

Uh Oh 001

(See?  The light is ON . . . but there is no coffee.  Not even any sounds like coffee might be imminent.  I tried a couple of times.  Mr. Coffee is old, and has made many cups.  It is, I'm afraid, his time.)

So today I started my morning this way:

Uh Oh 002

Thanks be to Starbucks!

I'm also enjoying the Best Thing about Peonies this morning.  When they flop, which they inevitably will -- due to the sheer weight of their blooms or rain or the wayward-used-drum-head-being-thrown-like-a-frisbee (don't ask. . .) -- you can bring them inside for a beautiful display!

Peony Rescue 061009 001

Being There

Have you seen this tv commercial yet?

I don't watch a lot of tv, in general, and I typically just knit through any commercials when I am watching.  But this particular ad drew my attention because of the song.  I was a big Jackson 5 fan as a girl, and "I'll Be There" has always been a favorite of mine.  Anyway, this commercial struck a chord with me.  (It also made me teary. . . but that happens pretty easily anyway these days!)

I understand now, first hand, how incredible it is to know that people are There for you when you're Up Against It.  I actually couldn't have imagined, before the whole cancer thing, the absolute power of a heartfelt word of encouragement. . . or a sincere question. . .or a handwritten note. . .or a hug. . . or a compliment!  (I got through a really dark period, for example, when a friend made a simple comment about the elegance of my scarf!)

Before I had cancer myself, I never knew quite what to say to people who did.  I was uncomfortable -- because I didn't want to intrude. . . or I was certain they were getting enough support elsewhere. . . or I couldn't quite imagine that my silly and trite words could make any difference.  But now I know!  They make the world of difference.

So now, when anyone I know is Up Against It -- whether it be disease, disaster, accident, rough spot, or just general life-crap -- I will Be There for them.  In some way.  Because, like the commercial says -- nothing is more important than being there.

PS -- I'd also like to thank all of you who have read and/or commented on my blog.  I appreciate your Being There for me.

Doin' the Funky Chicken

This is Jenny:

More Jenny and the Chicken 008

We adopted Jenny from the local SPCA when she was 8 weeks old.  They told us her mother was a husky, but that she appeared to have black lab and shepherd in the mix.  Well. . . we don't see much husky in her at all, but she certainly has the black lab thing nailed down!  Jenny is now 2 years old, and like many labs, is still very much a puppy!  She is a delightful dog -- she is happy, energetic, curious, gentle, and loving.  She loves to play!

This is The Chicken:

Jenny & her chicken 001

This classic "rubber chicken" technically belongs to my 17-year-old son.  It is part of his Arsenal of Fun (right alongside the clacking teeth, the whoopee cushion, and the battery-operated fart machine).  If you look closely, you can see that The Chicken has been patched with yellow duct tape.  The poor thing has been part of many exploits. . .

Jenny enjoys a special love-hate relationship with The Chicken.  She is very curious about it.  She wants to love it.  Yet. . . it seems to be . . . ALIVE!  One slight nudge from Jenny sends The Chicken into squawks and twitches that, frankly, freak Jenny out!

Jenny & her chicken 009

When Jenny does just dive right in and play with The Chicken, it provides great entertainment for the whole family!  She sneaks up on it and pounces and "talks" endlessly to it.

Jenny & her chicken 007 

Eventually, though, Jenny WINS!  She overpowers The Chicken with her dog-ly prowess, streaking through the yard with her prize.

More Jenny and the Chicken 004 

This is Victorious Jenny with her now-subdued Prize Chicken:

Jenny & her chicken 002 

Until next time, oh Funky One!

Soothing the Spirit

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit, either.”
– Elizabeth Zimmermann

Midnight Rider Fini 004

When I was young, I really liked to Make Things.  In fact, I kept myself very busy Making Things -- doll clothes, toys, bird houses, jewelry.  My interests were very broad, but it was definitely ALL about the finished product!  Although I learned to knit as a little girl, I found it too slow.  It took so long to Make Something on knitting needles!  So I taught myself to crochet - and that was much faster. 

Kym's Horse 004 

This little charmer is the oldest surviving Thing I Made.  It is a horse, fashioned of wood scraps and cotton balls, made when I was about 5 or 6.  My parents display it still (although it is In the Basement!).

As I grew older I started sewing, mostly clothes for myself.  It was still all about the product -- putting together something I could wear -- but I started to appreciate design elements like line, color, and texture.  I discovered a certain state of mind at the sewing machine.  But, still, what I really liked best was Making Clothes. . .  which expanded into Making Things for the House. . . and then Making Things for the Kids.  Always an emphasis on Making Things.

Old Afghan 002 

Here is an afghan I crocheted when I was a senior in high school - made lovingly for my college dorm!  It is made of acrylic Red Heart yarn without a pattern.  Still in use today, Jenny is guarding "her" afghan!  (The acrylic yarn is rather impervious to dog hair. . .)

Then, seven or eight years ago, a friend made me a novelty yarn scarf for Christmas.  This scratchy little scarf renewed my interest in knitting.  Why. . . I could Make Things to Give as Gifts!  So I got back into knitting armed with ribbon and eyelash and glittery bits.  It didn't take long for me to discover merino and alpaca and cashmere and sock yarn, though.  The colors!  The textures!  And, along with these glorious fibers, I discovered that. . . knitting was good for MORE than Making Things.  Sure, I could turn out some fabulous Finished Products.  But. . . I could also find this zen-like, peaceful, happy place while I knit.

Maybe I was just old enough to appreciate the process.  Or maybe I was just at that stage of life where I needed the process.  Whatever it was. . . knitting became my method of choice for Making Things AND Achieving Inner Peace!  And just in time!  Knitting has gotten me through some tough emotional spots over the last few years (moving, job changes, getting a kid off to college, health challenges).  Knitting certainly got me through my cancer diagnosis, testing, treatment, and recovery.  I really can't imagine how I would've made it through those long, tough days without my knitting!

While I need the process, I still love the product!  And here's my latest:

Midnight Rider Fini Front

It's Baby Cocktails' new design -- Nantucket Red.  I was so lucky to be able to test knit this cardigan.  I loved making it, and I love the finished product.  You can find the details on my Ravelry page.

Did the Colors Used to be this Bright?

This is me today:

Kym June 2009 003

I'm happy, fit, feeling creative and energetic.  Best of all --- I have hair of my own!  (Granted, it looks a little different than it used to.  But it's real hair.  And it's my very own.)

This is me exactly 4 months ago today:

Last Day of Chemo Feb 4 2009 016

Yep, 4 months ago today was my last chemo treatment.  I had no eyelashes, hardly any eyebrows, and no hair!  I was tired.  I had no energy.  (But I was happy to be finishing chemo.)

So much has changed during these last four months.  My body is doing an amazing job at healing itself after the devastation of chemo.  I have hair!  I have eyebrows and eyelashes!  I have to shave my legs!  I don't have to carry Kleenex everywhere I go (bet'cha didn't know that your nose drips constantly when there are no nose hairs!)  I can make it through intense aerobic dance classes and twist myself into any yoga pose I try.  I can take my dog for hour-long walks.  I can sight-see for days on end.  I can eat and drink and be merry.

Sure, I'm still putting the puzzle pieces of my life back together.  I'm still pretty fragile from an emotional standpoint. But I'm working on that.  I am pretty sure, though, that colors are DEFINITELY brighter now!

Shot (glass) through the Heart

Thirty years ago yesterday I went out on a first date -- just for something to do, mind you -- with Tom.  Let's just say we were a little wilder then; and the legal drinking age, at that time, in that place, was 19.  After fun conversation, a little dancing, a lot of laughs, and probably way too much beer, the evening ended with me smuggling two shot glasses (used, of course) out of a bar in my socks.   And so began . . . the love story of MY life!

K and T circa 1979 

Kym and Tom, circa 1979

Last night, we went out for dinner to celebrate and remember.  Very nice. 

(But, just for the record, you did NOT walk me to my door that night!)