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September 2009

August 2009

Soft Landing

I'm generally an organized person.  I use a planner.  I make lists.  I prioritize.  I Get Things Done.  But.  Every once in while, things really get away from me and I feel a little . . . untethered.

View from the driveway 003 

Last night, this balloon came into view.  Lovely, free-floating, colorful.  But also . . . way up there!  I started thinking about it as a metaphor for my current state of mind.  I'm in a good place.  I'm happy.  I'm just kind of floating along in my own blue sky.  But. I'm also feeling a bit . . . flighty.  I need to ground myself again, feel in control of my schedule, tie up some loose ends, focus.  (Shoot, I just need to wade through the laundry room and head to the grocery store on a regular basis!)

It's been a busy summer.  This week is going to be busy, too.  But next week?  School starts.  Structure begins.  I'll be able to make a soft landing then!

Be the Froot Loop!

Before starting in with today's post, I want to do a little "public service announcement."  Get the colonoscopy!  Yeah, it's a "PigPen Thing" -- just the thought of it sucks the fun right out of the day.  The "prep" is pretty miserable (although you can knit!), but you're under "waking sedation" during the actual procedure, so you don't feel a thing -- and you're blissfully unaware of what's going on "back there."  The hardest thing for me was drinking only clear liquids for the 24 hours before the procedure (apparently white wine does not count as a clear liquid. . .).  So, don't delay.  As Susan so poignantly explained in her comment yesterday, early detection is what it's all about.  The colonoscopy, like the mammogram, is a screen you don't want to put off.  (And, when it's over, the PigPeg cloud disappears!)

And now, on with our regularly scheduled blog post!

Denison University

My dining room is a total mess.  It is the "staging area" for my daughter's back-to-school move.  At this point, the room is filled with crates, books, lamps, a bookshelf, a printer, a tv and DVD player, various cords, random posters, and more books (she's an English lit major. . . ).  Yep, on Saturday our little caravan will head back to Ohio, transporting Erin - and her stuff - to Denison for her junior year!

Erin Collage It has been wonderful having Erin home for the summer with us.  Well. . . except for the sibling squabbles. . . and the shoes (how many Rocket Dogs can one person own?).  I know it's been a lonely summer for Erin -- she came home, but that means she left her college friends behind; and many of her old high school friends are just not around anymore.  She ended up hanging out with Tom and I alot more than usual, and we all enjoyed that!  

When Erin leaves, I adjust.  But I miss being able to talk to her - in person - whenever I feel like it.  I miss her elaborate stories (she was born a storyteller).  I miss her antics (trust me, it's hard to imagine that anyone doing a summer internship at a law office could have more adventures-at-the-jail than Erin).  I miss her music (Erin is a vocal performance minor and practices her arias every day; what a treat!).  I miss her at yoga.  I miss her laughter and her zest for . . . everything!  

That said, I'm also thrilled with the adult she is becoming!  It's been a delight to watch her grow and learn and become independent over the last few years.  She blossoms more and more each year.  What more could a mom want?

Chicago with Erin Aug 09 014 v2

So, Erin, here's my advice to you, as you begin your junior year:

  1. Study hard
  2. Challenge yourself - bite off more than you can chew (and then chew it!)
  3. Eat smartly, try to exercise a little, get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and wash your hands frequently (sorry - I'm a mom. . . I can't help myself!)
  4. Have fun with your friends 
  5. Believe in yourself
  6. Start the day with a sun salutation -- and remember the value of sinking into child's pose whenever things get a little tense
  7. Stand tall
  8. Be gentle with yourself
  9. Find the good in other people
  10. Be the fruit loop in the box of cheerios!
Things will be a lot quieter around here. . . but we know you're just where you belong!

It's a PigPen Thing

When I was a kid, I liked reading the Peanuts cartoon.  PigPen was always one of my favorite characters in the Peanuts world. I was intrigued with the way dirt just followed him around.  He was always a mess, living in a cloud of filth.  No matter what he tried, he just couldn't shake the dirt.  


The image of PigPen and his ever-present dirt cloud stayed with me over the years.  Eventually, I developed an entire "PigPen Philosophy" based on this little character. 

You know how, in adult life, you have . . . things . . . that sort of bug you at a mundane, below-the-surface level?  Things that kind of . . .suck the fun out of your day . . . for a minute?   Like, you're cruising right along, getting all the things done on your to-do-list and then, it hits you.  You have to go to the dentist tomorrow to have a few fillings replaced.  Bummer!  OR you're out at a movie with friends, enjoying your evening, when, suddenly, you remember that you have your annual pelvic exam and Pap smear early the next morning.  Yuck.  OR you wake up in the morning, ready to start the day, and then you remember -- today is the day you need to give a bad performance review to one of your employees.  Not fun. 

I'm sure you get the picture.  These are not big problems in the grand scheme of life, but they do tend to weigh you down a bit.  When one of these mundane, bothersome events lurk in my psyche, I think of PigPen.  Actually, I become PigPen.  Only it's not dirt that's following me around.  It's momentary dread of impending . . . Yuck . . . that I can't shake.

Earlier this summer, I went in for my annual physical with my internist.  Things were fine. . . until he said the dreaded phrase, "Now that you're 50, we need to schedule a colonoscopy."  Ah, now that sounds dreadful.  A definite PigPen thing!

Nasty weather 

The Big Day is today, so I've been living in a PigPen cloud of impending Yuck for a couple of days now. 


(There. . .at least I haven't lost my sense of humor!)

The Greens of Summers

I'm back to my sweater knitting.  It did me a world of good to take a little break -- clear my head, so to speak -- with a couple of shawls.  Now I'm ready for the last three sweaters of the year. First up is Kodachrome.

Kodachrome Beginning 001

They give us those nice bright colors. . .

Kodachrome 001

They give us the greens of summers. . .

The pattern is Tempest by Ann Weaver of Weaverknits.  I've wanted to knit Tempest since it first appeared in Knitty in the spring of 2008.  It got buried in the disaster that is my queue, though, for a very long time.  The pattern intriqued me because I love using sock yarn for something other than socks (I Lost that Loving Feeling for socks long ago. . .), and I love stripes, and I love playing with color. 

I'm excited about knitting a Weaverknits pattern. . . because I know Weaverknits' Mom . . . and she is a Great Woman!  My daughter had Weaverknits' Mom for an English teacher and forensics coach back in the Dark and Dreary Days of Middle School.  Weaverknits' Mom was a true beacon for my daughter in those times (big sigh. . .), and she will always be held in my Highest Esteem.  (Hugs to you, Mrs. Weaver!)

I'm really pleased with this one so far.  The knitting is going quickly.  I'm sure that, technically speaking, it has to do with the gauge (big needles, little yarn), but I like to think it's the striping.  I'm always so dang charmed by striping.

Makes you think all the world's a sunny day. . .

Kodachrome 003 

Oh, yeah!

PS -- In other news, yesterday, as I was catching up on blog reading, I discovered that my blog-friend Karen (famously Bad Bill's Mother-in-Law!) had given me a blog award!  I'm so excited. . . because I never "win" anything!  Thanks Karen!  I so appreciate your kind thoughts and words.  


A Different Kind of FO

This is not exactly the type of FO ("finished object") you would expect to find on Ravelry!  And you certainly won't wear this FO. . . or display it proudly in your home. . . or give it as a gift. . .

Working in compost 002 

Yet, I'm really excited about this FO! It's compost!  Lovely, rotted, dark, crumbly compost!

Why do I get so excited about. . . rotted stuff?  Well, compost is such a wonderful thing to add to the garden!  For one thing, it increases the organic content of the soil -- and that improves the soil texture, drainage, and fertility.  It loosens things up -- in a good way -- and helps anchor plant roots.  Compost also provides nutrients and moisture for the soil, and introduces beneficial "stuff" (you know. . . microorganisms, enzymes . . . "stuff") to the soil habitat.  Compost encourages stronger root growth, helping plants resist disease and pests.  It's also a great way to recycle and lessen your own household garbage.

What's not to love about compost?

I have a couple of compost areas in my yard.  One is just a pile of . . . stuff.  Leaves, pine needles, used-up potting soil, grass clippings, weeds, etc.  I don't pay much attention to it at all.  I just throw stuff on the pile, and it turns into lovely, rotted, dark, crumbly compost.  I also have a compost bin.  I think about this one a little more, and try to follow the Rules of Composting to keep it in balance.

Working in compost 005 

This is a nifty little bin.  I ordered it several years ago, and it's been working hard ever since.  You open the lid on top to throw stuff in, and you take out the lovely compost through the trap door at the bottom.  The lid on top has tiny holes in it, so rain water can drip in and keep it moist.  I keep a pitchfork nearby, and every once in a while, I go in and poke around a bit with it (technically, this is called "aeration". . . but I think it's just fun to do).

What do I throw in this compost bin?  LOTS of stuff!  I try to keep this bin "balanced" between "greens" (high in nitrogen) and "browns" (high in carbon).  (On a technical note, Tom says it's ALL high in carbon, but the "browns" are probably higher in carbon.  He's a chemist.  Over-simplification bugs him. . .)  The compost breaks down quicker and becomes the lovely stuff you throw on your garden if you keep it balanced.  It also doesn't smell if you keep it balanced, which is a Very Good Thing.

Anyway, the "greens" include grass clippings, household food scraps (but never meat, bones, or peanut butter!), coffee grounds, tea bags, spent flower blooms, weeds, and used potting soil.  The "browns" include fallen leaves, sawdust, shredded paper, brown bags, and newspaper (but never dog poo -- or any kind of poo, for that matter).  I don't get really specific. . . but every once in a while, I just make sure to throw in a layer of paper or sawdust.  Things seem to work out!

Working in compost 007 

It's really nice to "harvest" your own compost!  We always work it into our new beds, and we also add it to the soil as we put in new plants.  It really does make them happy!

June 10 09 Garden at Twilight 031 

And that's what I'm all about!  Happy plants!

Mind Candy

Weathered love

Tom gave me this magnet many years ago.  It always makes me smile.  Tomorrow is our anniversary --  28 years.  I guess you could say we've weathered some storms, but mostly we've been blessed with sunny skies.  Happy Anniversary, Tom!

Have a great weekend everyone!


I have a butterfly bush in my garden.  It is Not Doing Well.  It is leggy.  It is spindly.  It has been infested by some sort of leaf-eating pest.  It looks worse and worse every year.  I have pruned it.  I have top-dressed it with compost.  I have moved it.  I have talked to it.  I have Had It . . . and, in fact, I recently made the decision to Get Rid of It.

Yesterday, though, when I went out to get the mail, I saw this. . .

Butterfly bush etc aug 18 09 037 

This Swallowtail Butterfly did not care that my butterfly bush is spindly.

Butterfly bush etc aug 18 09 020 

It did not care that my butterfly bush is leggy.

Butterfly bush etc aug 18 09 013 

It was, in fact, unconcerned that several leaves have been munched by a pest.

Butterfly bush etc aug 18 09 019 

This Swallowtail just enjoyed gathering nectar from the (few) beautiful and colorful blossoms on my butterfly bush.  For this Swallowtail, my garden offered exactly what he needed!  It was perfect.

The butterfly bush. . . has been redeemed!

Tangled Up

Another post that needs a soundtrack. . . Click in and let it play while you read on!

I finished my Feather Duster shawl before I left for Chicago last week.  I didn't get a chance to block it until I returned home, and then the weather turned stormy and rainy so I couldn't take pictures right away.

Tangled Up in Blue 012 

I needed a break from all my sweater-knitting, and I'd had this shawl in my queue since it first came out (earlier this summer).  I even had the yarn (Schulana Kid Seta) already.  When Margene began an August Feather Duster Knit-a-Long, I was all in!

Tangled Up in Blue 008 

This one knit up quickly!  The pattern - by Susan Lawrence - is well-written and very clear.  The pattern is simple -- but looks so elegant.  And I'm such a sucker for mohair!  So light . . . kind of like wearing a warm layer of air!

Tangled fini front 

I had thought about adding more repeats to make the shawl larger, but in the end, just decided to keep it at the dimensions called for in the pattern.  I think I'll use this more like a scarf anyway, so I don't really need to have it bigger.

Tangled fini back 

And this shawl ended up doing its job perfectly!  It provided the sweater-distraction I so desperately needed!  I worked through my NaKniSweMoDo obsession, and now I'm ready to tackle my last three sweaters of 2009.  But that's for another post.

Tangled Up in Blue 005 

The only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keepin' on. . . like a bird that flew. . .

tangled up in blue. . .