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June 2010

Living with the Consequences

Soundtrack. . .

As a veteran parent, I've made my share of mistakes.  Saying "no" when I should have said "yes."  Not thinking questions all the way through.  Giving partial answers.  Leaving the door open.  Looking the other way because I was busy.  Giving in to whining.  That kind of thing. 

Luckily, the consequences of my parenting mistakes have been . . . fairly mild.  Sure, I should've checked into the level of supervision at that one sleepover. . . but nothing ended up being reported to the police.  And, yeah, I should have been much more explicit about what could or could not be done to "modify" one's muffler . . . but he paid for the repairs.  And, I-know-I-know, I should've been much more cautious about that "nice, handsome young man" . . . but she got over it.  And I can't deny that my daughter's bedroom is painted in three-colors-of-hideous . . . but I can always re-do it.

For a long time, my biggest parenting mistake was . . . not getting Erin out of her sadistic 4th grade teacher's classroom (sorry about that, Erin).  She survived, of course, but I do have regrets.  But now. . . I am living with the consequences of what can only be described as My Biggest Parenting Mistake of All Time.

Meet. . . Puck.


Puck is a Quaker Parrot.  He's about 3 years old, and he belongs to my son.  He came to live with us as a baby bird.  He is loud.  He is messy.  He is territorial.  He adores Brian.  In fact, he thinks Brian is his "mate."  He hates the rest of us.  Hates.

And how did Puck come to live with us?  BECAUSE I SAID YES.  And there you have it.  Biggest Parenting Mistake of All Time.  

And now. . . now. . . I must live with the consequences!  Literally.  Because. . . Quaker parrots live a long, long, long time (like. . . 30 - 50 years).  And. . . because Quaker parrots need a lot of space (big cage; really big; piece-of-furniture big).  And . . . they need human interaction and social stimulation; along with daily care and cleaning.

Clearly, I did not think this one all the way through.  Because. . . Brian is leaving for college at the end of August.  And he can't take Puck.  So.  Guess what?



A bird I'm not overly fond of.  A bird who hates me.  A bird who talks and poops all the time.  A bird who has just moved into my office space with me.  (Brian is hoping we can "bond" before he leaves for college.)

I am definitely living with the consequences.  It's going to be interesting. . .

Ten on Tuesday


This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is . . . Books on Our Summer Reading List.  This one . . . is easy for me.  Because I always have a reading list going!  I like to read contemporary fiction best of all, but I mix things up by throwing classics in every third book or so, and every once in a while (like two or three times a year) I force myself to read a nonfiction book.  It's a mix that works for me!

My Summer 2010 Reading List looks like this:

1 -- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (finished recently; loved it)

2 -- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (finished recently; fascinating)

3 -- Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (currently reading; sometimes tedious but engaging)

4 -- Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (next up; looking forward to it)

5 -- Major Pettigrew by Helen Simonson

6 -- The Likeness by Tana French

7 -- The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

8 -- Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

9 -- A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

10 -- The Portable Dorothy Parker

For a little treat. . . I'll probably throw in a mystery or two as well.  I like reading mysteries by Louise Penny (I think there's one more in her series that I haven't read yet), and there's a new series by Deborah Crombie that I plan to check out eventually.

I also read/peruse several gardening books during the summer.  There's always one open somewhere nearby.

Happy Reading!

A Stash for the Future

Like many knitters, I have a stash of yarn.

space 004

Let's just say. . . I have a LOT of yarn.

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To be honest. . . I have PLENTY of yarn. . . and books. . . and supplies. 

My space 013

Enough to last a lifetime.  Or, at least, I hope so.  Because my stash is pretty big!

The Yarn Harlot talks about SABLE -- or Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.  I used to chuckle at this little term.  I used to joke about this little term.  I used to say things like. . . I'll probably die before I ever get a chance to knit all this stuff.

Well.  You know what happened.  I got cancer.  SABLE became. . . not a joke . . . but a possibility.  I didn't purchase any yarn while I was having chemo.  I knit a lot, though.  In fact, I knit like a crazed person.  I knit like someone who was trying to burn through her stash.  Because. . . what would happen if I actually HAD acquired more yarn than I'd be able to knit in my lifetime?  During chemo, my desire for "stash acquisition" was totally put on hold.

After my treatment was finished, though -- and after I heard those glorious words "no evidence of disease" and "remission" -- I celebrated by purchasing yarn.  I was alive.  I was healthy.  I had time. . . again.  Purchasing yarn and planning projects . . . represented future-thinking for me. 

And so, the stash floodgates are open again.  I do try to keep my yarn purchases under control.  (I really do, Tom.  Really.)  I mean, I don't want to fall victim to SABLE. . . but. . . I also don't want to stop thinking about the future, either.

This was all brought home to me last Saturday.  My favorite local yarn store, Stitching Memories, hosted a special benefit for a former employee and teacher at the store, Terrie Hale.  Terrie, sadly, died recently from pancreatic cancer at the age of 42.  Terrie left behind some whopping medical bills. . . and a huge stash!!!  So Mary, the owner of Stitching Memories, put together a "stash estate sale" in the parking lot of her store, with all proceeds going to Terrie's family.


Knitters and quilters and spinners and needlepointers came from far and wide. . . to dip into Terrie's stash. . . and to help out a knitter's family.  I had a heavy heart as I dug through bins and bins (and bins) of yarn -- all symbols of hope for Terrie's future projects.  I got a little choked up when I stumbled on to an unfinished sweater -- still on the needles with the yarn neatly rolled and the pattern clearly marked where Terrie had left off.  As I thumbed through some old knitting magazines, it was a little heartbreaking to see pages turned down -- at projects Terrie was planning to start.  Someday.

It was tough.  Because. . .this could be me.  It could be any of us. . . should we outlive our stashes.

In the end, I found a few items to bring home and add to my own stash.  Little pieces of Terrie that will go on.


And. . .  I'm really going to have to figure out how to knit faster.  That's all there is to it!


Friday Roundup: Out and About Edition

It's been One of Those Days around here.  You know the ones. . . when it feels like all you do is go in and out of your driveway.   All day.

It started here. . .


. . . a place I've been visiting a little too often lately.  This time, it was Brian's car in for service.  Which meant . . . I needed to go here to drop him off for work.


While I was in the neighborhood, I picked up dog food for Jenny. . .


before meeting a friend for lunch.


Then, of course, I needed to retrace my steps. . . first, to pick Brian up from work, and then to pick up his car.  After all that, my next stop was. . .


to refuel . . . before treating myself to some plant shopping to end the day!


(Everything's on sale now, you know?)


It's good to be home.  I think I'm in for the night.


Bloom of the Week:




Enjoy the weekend!

Splish Splash

One of the things that appeals to me about gardening . . . is inviting birds and butterflies to share my outdoor space.  I keep my bird feeders filled year round.  I provide plenty of cover for birds.  I grow plants that are particularly attractive to feathered and winged friends.  (I also have a cedar-sided house. . . which is beloved by woodpeckers. . . but that's a whole other situation entirely!)  And, perhaps most important of all (especially in the hot summer months),I provide water in my garden.


I have several birdbaths situated around my yard.  The one pictured above is my "main" birdbath.  It is located right off my patio -- conveniently near a hose (because the water needs to be refreshed daily) and in clear view from the patio and from many windows in the house.  This birdbath is VERY popular with birds!  Every day, I watch robins, mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees, and even the dratted woodpeckers bathing and drinking from this birdbath.


I also have a miniature birdbath (at the top of the photo) and a small pond (kind of puddle-sized) with a little fountain near my patio.  Both of these are frequented by sparrows, wasps, butterflies . . . and, from time to time, one thirsty black lab!


This birdbath sits in my front entry garden.  I've never actually seen any bird take a bath in this one, but I keep it filled all the same. . . because I don't see this one as frequently. . . and, well, you never know!

Backyard bird watchers often claim that they attract more birds to their gardens with water than with seed.  I think it may be true!  Especially in the summer months, when water is sometimes harder for the birds to find.  If you're interested in learning more about setting up a bird bath or other water source for the birds, check out this article.

It's so fun to watch the birds come in for a bath!  Last weekend, I was on the patio when a couple of little chickadees came down to the birdbath to check things out.


They were hopping around like mad. . . trying to figure out where the best "jumping in" point might be!


And then, finally, this little guy took the plunge!


C'mon in!  The water's fine!


Splish splash!


There is no end of feathered entertainment with a birdbath!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Soundtrack . . .

Going to Scarborough Fair?  Well.  If you happen to be. . . you can wear this little sweater!


This fun -- and really quick -- summer sweater has a bit of an old-fashioned, romantic vibe.  A kind of Jane Austin empire waistline. . . meets softly-gathered peasant blouse!


You can find all the details on my Ravelry page here.


And, if you happen to go. . .


. . . remember me to the one who lives there!

Ten on Tuesday


I always enjoy reading other bloggers' Ten on Tuesday posts . . . so when Carole decided to host the New-and-Improved Ten on Tuesday list. . . I decided to sign up and give it a try!

Of course, the first topic -- How to Entertain a Child -- freaked me out.  I mean. . . talk about broad!  Besides, it's been a while since I've had to entertain a child.

But then. . . I got to thinking back. . . to all those days. . . waiting and sitting.  At restaurants.  In doctor's offices.  On long car rides.  At church.  At a sibling's piano lesson.  THOSE days.  And then. . . it all came flooding back.

So here's my maiden Ten on Tuesday voyage:  How to Entertain a Child.

  1. Stories -- either read from books or told from memory or imagination
  2. Tasty Snacks in Small Containers (fish crackers, animal crackers, M&Ms, raisins, etc.)
  3. "Emergency Packs" of small toys - stowed in purse or glove compartment and pulled out when you need a quick diversion
  4. Crayons and coloring books
  5. Self-contained and small-in-size toys (like Etch-a-Sketch or magnet mazes or Grid-Lock)
  6. Paper games -- like Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect-the-Dots
  7. A quick and rousing game of Paper-Rock-Scissors
  8. Or I-Spy
  9. Or some variation of an Alphabet Game
  10. Silly anything -- faces, songs, rhymes
Enjoy your Tuesday!

Sticky Wicket

Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day with a time-honored family tradition. . .


The Annual Backyard Croquet Tournament.

Now, if you remember, the terrain in my yard is . . . somewhat challenging.  So our croquet games are part skill (a very small part, actually) . . . and part physics lessons.  Oh, and a whole lot of laughter!


There is "coaching". . .


There is "drama". . .


There is "pondering". . .


There are "refreshments". . .


And, in the end. . .


there is the "winner"!


Yep.  This year Poison-Heartless-Kym reigns supreme!  How's that for a sticky wicket?

Friday Round Up: Update Edition

My camera has been "missing" for almost 2 weeks now.  Actually, it's not missing. . . because I know just where it is.  It's at my Mom and Dad's house.  Right where I left it.  So, I've been getting by on the blog lately with my old point-and-shoot.


It's really not a bad little camera.  (But I like my other one better. . .)  I'm looking forward to springing my camera sometime this weekend!


Purchase-of-the-Week #1

I really like blue transferware.  I have a nice collection -- a good mix of collectible and just-fun pieces.  My eye always (always) zooms in on any transferware (or faux-transferware) wherever I may be.  Earlier this week I was in my neighborhood Walgreens when I spotted these:


Little blue faux-transferware pots!  $1.29 each.  Get out!  I picked up all they had.  (The strawberries are from my plants -- the only two I've saved from a hungry pack of piggy chipmunks who have set up permanent living quarters on my patio.)


Purchase-of-the-Week #2

I needed a new journal, and found this one at Barnes & Noble.  Cute, non?


But. . . then I spied this one. . . which is PERFECT for Erin.  Cuter yet, non?




I'm so excited!  If you look closely at this photo, you can see what's happening to my tomatoes this week!


Blooms AND fruit! (I wish I had my better camera. . .)


Off -- and On -- the Needles

I finished this sweater. . .


Photos and details next week.  (But I will say that this one was lightening fast!)

And I cast on for this sweater. . .


I'm hoping this one is fast, too.  (Because apparently I'm in the mood for summer sweaters in Easter egg colors.)

And -- just an update on this sweater. . .


I have forwarded all of my pattern notes and explanations to the designer, who is most receptive to review them and make appropriate changes.  She is gracious and responsive.  I just wanted you to know.


Have a great weekend. . . and here's another bloom.  Because I can't help myself.


Give Us the Tools

Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.   ~Winston Churchill

Ah. . . there's nothing quite like quality time in the garden!  Especially when the right tools are at hand. What do I find indispensable in the garden?  Well, for starters, I really need my toolbelt. . .


which is perfect for my iPod, a phone, and . . . actual garden tools.  Like my trusty clippers!


And while I like to garden with my bare hands (as my manicure will attest), I always have my trusty garden gloves at the ready.


I'm lucky to have the perfect spot for planting and organizing, here at my potting bench.


Some tools I've had for a long, long time.  Like. . . this little garden cart I got for a long-ago Mother's Day gift.  I use it all the time -- so much easier on the back to sit and plant (or weed) than to stoop over.


And my trusty watering can!  I've had it forever.  Certainly not a pretty one, but it gets the job done.


And my kids' old wagon. . . that I claimed as my own years and years ago!  Rusty, now, and kind of corroding, but so useful to haul compost and soil and plants.


Can't forget about my "sloggers!"  They live just outside my backdoor -- when they're not on my feet.  I've had them for about 8 years, and I think they'll last forever.


Some tools are new. . . like my rain gauge and nifty new digital moisture meter.


Or this new hose-"splitter" (which is very, very convenient -- especially when your front yard is on many levels. . . and there's only one spigot).


My best garden tool, though, is my combination digger-pruner-planter!   Yep, this guy does it all!


The right tools. . . make all the difference. . . when it comes to gardening!