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June 2010

Free

Soundtrack. . .

I finished my Guinevere cardigan over the weekend.  (Here's my Ravelry link.)

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I complained about this cardigan. . . as I was knitting it.  In fact, I complained rather a lot.  It turned out nicely.  I loved the yarn (Queensland Collection Haze).  It's easy to wear.  But, oh my!  The pattern was a mess.

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The first lace chart was really goofy -- and turned out to be in error.  There are several annoying glitches and inconsistencies within the directions.  The front decreases for the arm and neckline are charted -- without the option of following complete written directions instead (and we're not talking about anything tricky going on here).  I was able to work through the pattern issues without any problems. . . but that's because I've knit lots of sweaters already.  If this had been one of my first sweater projects, I'd have had some serious problems!

Mostly, I just got grumpy with this knit . . . because I paid $7 for the pattern. . . and it was full of mistakes and errors.  I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe this designer didn't use test knitters?

Another little grump -- in the pattern description, the designer says that "very little finishing is required."  To this I must simply say. . . bullshit.  The sweater is knit in 5 flat pieces -- a back, 2 fronts, and 2 sleeves.  Standard seaming is required.  Futzy standard seaming!  Because you're matching up a ribbed lace pattern, a regular lace pattern, AND setting in cap sleeves knit in 1x1 ribbing.  There may not be any stitches to pick up. . . but there is far more than "very little" finishing required.

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I actually did even MORE finishing.  The fronts rolled so persistently (despite two good blockings), that I hand-stitched some ribbon to the inside of both fronts.  This really helped with the rolling problem, and gives the sweater some welcome structure.

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The pattern calls for snaps (with buttons sewn over the top) for the closure.  I'm not a big fan of snaps, so I tried something different -- crocheted button loops.  (Jury's still out on this . . .)

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Oh well. . . it's finished.  Maybe I'll even get over my grumpiness and start liking this sweater . . . eventually.  In the meantime, I can let it go.  Because. . . like the song says. . . I shall be free!


Custom Order

Soundtrack. . .

If I could custom order a daughter. . .

Newborn erin

I'd forget the the sugar-and-spice-and-everything nice. . .

Smores 

But I'd definitely order a love of play. . .

Swinging erin age 2 

a vivid imagination. . .

Stylin erin 2

a winning smile. . .

Orangemouth

and a sense of style.

Fashion plate

My custom-order daughter would be One Tough Cookie. . .

Eighth Grade 

and she would never take herself too seriously.

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She'd be a bit of a diva. . .

The Diva - Solo & Ensemble

with a flair for the dramatic. . .

Urinetown erin's biggest moment 

and she'd be willing to work really hard  - and push down those demons - to get what she wants.

Forensics States 2007 009 

She'd be independent. . .

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with a love of literature. . .

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and she'd approach life with zest and excitement . . .  sort of as if life were a spontaneous musical!

Erin singing in the rain 

It's easy to see. . . that my custom-order daughter. . . is YOU, Erin.  Through and through!

Erin 2009

Photo by Jeff Mitchell; used with permission.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!  Celebrate your 21st in style!


Bloomin' Favorite

It's that time of year. . . when most of the things in my garden are looking good.  June is a satisfying time to be a gardener.  Lots of easy success.  Lots of color.  Lots of thriving and growing and blooming. 

Here's my favorite thing in the garden right now. . .

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It's my "living succulent wreath."  I planted this (and ruined my fingernails forever) a while ago.  I left it laying flat -- so the roots could take hold -- until last weekend.  But now, it defies gravity -- hanging on my back gate and welcoming any garden visitors.

I especially like the little purslane blooms. . .

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They add such a nice little punch of color here and there.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I'm going to do a little gardening, catch up on some paperwork, finish listening to "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," knit when I can, and generally avoid housework.


Knitting? What Knitting?

Actually, I have been doing a little knitting.  Not much, though.  

This project. . .

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is almost finished.  It's knit.  It's blocked.  It's . . . just sitting there.  Waiting for the Big Finish.

This project. . .

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is clipping right along.  Bulky yarn.  Definitely in the fast lane.

This project. . .

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exists only in my imagination. 

Things are coming along.

(The youngest girl next door -- now 12 -- and several of her friends were watching me take photos of my projects and yarn.  They got really quiet and were just standing there, looking over the fence and poking at each other.  I think they were having a lot of fun at my expense.  Just sayin'. . .)


Gray . . . It's the New Black

Another soundtrack. . .

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I lost all my hair when I went through chemo.  In fact, when I first started this blog - about a year ago - my hair had just started to grow back.  It was very short (because that's the way it begins!) and it was very grey (because that's the color it was before).  And as it grew, my hair got curlier and curlier.  But I was Very Happy.  Because ANY hair is better than NO hair.

So.  Here I am.  A year later.  Totally rocking the grey hair.  Or. . . am I?

Hair june 8 002 

As you can see, my hair is not so curly anymore.  It's beginning to look more and more like my "old hair" -- in style -- because my "old hair" was a brown-with-golden-highlights color, and my "new hair" is . . . not.

But.  The other day, as I was going in to yoga, someone stopped me and said. . . "Your hair looks just like Paula Deen's."

My. Heart. Stopped.

Paula Deen?  PAULA DEEN? 

What happened to Jamie Lee?  Miranda Priestly?  Even Helen Mirren, for god's sake!  But . . . Paula DEEN?

I'm really not going for the Paula Deen look.  

This got me thinking about my hair again.  I thought about the old days --- the real old days - before I colored my hair at all.  My hair was very dark, but I started noticing the occasional grey strand every now and then as early as age 16.  I didn't mind though.  I fully intended to just let it go grey. . . naturally. 

Until, that is, I saw THIS photo in 1990 (bad perm, hideous shorts, and all):

Bike ride 

Yes.  This photo sent me right in to the hair salon for all-over color and highlights.  And I never looked back!  Here I am in 2008, a couple of months before the cancer-nightmare began.

Cable Vest 009 

If not for the losing-my-hair-during-chemo thing, I'm sure I would've just gone on coloring and highlighting for decades!

The Paula Deen comment rocked my world for a while.  It was almost all I could do to NOT go running back to the salon for some new color.  Not that there is anything wrong with Paula; not at all.  It's just that . . . I didn't quite see myself as "looking just like Paula Deen." 

I sat down and took some deep (cleansing) breaths.  I thought about how good it feels to . . . just have hair.  To feel the wind blow it around.  To wash it.  To put gel in it.  To futz with it.  I thought about how nice it is to just run into the salon for a quick cut once in a while --- without the hours and dollars and chemicals that come with dying your hair.  I thought about the compliments I get on my hair (WAY more than I ever used to) -- the ones that don't mention Paula, that is.  I thought about how. . . FREE . . . I feel with my grey hair.

I even found that there are several different web sites and blogs supporting the "going grey" movement (who knew . . . it's a "movement"!).  And I started to feel, well, empowered . . . to be a woman. . . flaunting her grey hair.  I listened to Emmylou.  I looked at pictures of my grey-haired sisters:  Helen; Jamie Lee; Meryl-as-Miranda-Priestly; Emmylou.  Yeah. . . and even my new grey-haired sister. . . Paula.

Because, hey!  Grey!  It's the new black!


Spread Your Wings

Soundtrack. . .

My mom-efforts have been focused on a very big, very public milestone for my son: graduation from high school.  It got me thinking. . . about transitions; about switching gears and growing from one life-stage to another.

Some life-transitions - like graduations - are formal.  Ceremonies.  Announcements.  Special hats.  Pomp.  Circumstance.  Parties.  There's no doubt about the transition.  One minute you're a high school student. . . and then, right on cue, you're turning your tassel and . . .  you're a graduate.

Those kinds of transitions are easy.  They're obvious.  And. . . ready-or-not. . . you've made the transition. 

There are other kinds of life-transitions, though.  The ones that are private, personal, individual.  There are no ceremonies, or special clothes, or parties.  You just . . . know.  Inside yourself.  Transitions like . . . making a big purchase with your own money; moving into an apartment; becoming competent at your job; putting your personal demons to rest; making your own decisions; living away from home; falling in love.  I would argue that these private life-transitions are perhaps more meaningful than the public milestone kinds of transitions.

This past week, amid all the hub-bub of Brian's very public transition from high school, I noticed my daughter's much more subtle and very personal transition.  I even captured it on "film."

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Here she is, grounded, firmly, in family.  Part of us. . .  but looking outward.  At someone else.  At something else.  At her future.  She is . . . transitioning . .  to her own life.

Spread your wings, Erin.  It's your time.  There might not be a special ceremony for your very private and very personal transition.  But . . . there you are! 

Spread your wings.  But know. . . you'll always be a part of me. . .


The Briefest of Interludes

Things are crazy around here.  Brian graduates tonight.  I have a big party planned for Sunday (the traditional Graduation Open House!).  Erin is home for a few days.  My sister has arrived.  I'm still shifting things around in the garden.  I'm monitoring the weather forecasts (to determine whether or not I have to plan for a crowd inside).  Let's just say. . . there's a lot going on!

Seems like the perfect time for . . . a brief interlude!  

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My sister and I headed for Chicago earlier this week.   Because sometimes, no matter how crazy-busy things are, you've just got to get away for a little fun. . . relaxation. . . shopping. . . and laughing with your sister!

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We had a whirlwind wonderful time in the Windy City.  We had way too much fun interacting with Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.

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We took the Chicago Architectural Foundation's fabulous boat tour on the Chicago River.

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Tom, The Wonder Docent, led us through the history, architecture, and lore of Chicago's most beloved sky scrapers. . . all from a river view.

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I've done this tour a couple of times now, and it never disappoints!

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We did some shopping!

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Well.  Maybe quite a bit of shopping. . .

We saw a show. . .

Logo 

We discovered the treasures embedded in the walls of the Tribune Tower . . .

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which is a Very Cool building!

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We ate deep dish pizza under bright umbrellas.

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We enjoyed the "individual" park benches along the Water Tower.

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And we took advantage of our hotel's complimentary cocktail hour.

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We had a marvelous time.  It was just what I needed. . . a brief interlude in the insanity of this week!






A Pivotal Moment

Soundtrack. . .

A friend sent me this card when I finished chemotherapy. . .

Pivotal moment

I like thinking about "pivotal moments" -- the before and after points.  Today marks an anniversary of a "pivotal moment" for me. . . it's my first "Blog-iversary."

I really had no idea last year - when I made my first post - what I was in for with my little blog.  I was just hoping for . . . an outlet for expression; a way to make myself seem "real;" a little journey. . . stepping away from the edge.  What I got, though, was a whole lot more.  What I got. . . was YOU!

Thanks for making this year such a fabulous adventure.