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October 2011

September 2011



This Sunday (October 2) is LIVESTRONG Day -- a day of "global, collective action in the fight against cancer."  (It's also Lance Armstrong's diagnosis anniversary date.)

The theme this year:  Wear Yellow.


I encourage you to visit the LIVESTRONG Day website.  Make a pledge to Wear Yellow on Sunday.  Share your story.  "Go Yellow" -- and create your own LIVESTRONG Day avatar!


And. . . if you know anyone with cancer . . . or struggling with issues of Survivorship. . . encourage them to visit the LIVESTRONG website.  They'll find people who understand, helpful resources, lots of support, and tools to fight!

Wear Yellow.


One Little Word

"Whatever you want to do, do it now.  There are only so many tomorrows."  -- Michael Landon


When I first finished up my chemo treatments and was tagged with the "remission" label, I was in a very fragile place:  I was at The Edge.  A lot relieved.  A little scared.  Suddenly. . . the colors were brighter.  The sky was bigger.  Things just tasted better.  Change had come.  I was learning to live with the uncomfortable certainty that . . . life really IS limited.  So make it count!  I threw open my arms.  I embraced the world around me.  I lived like time was precious.  I stepped away from The Edge.  But I was still close enough . . . to think about it all the time.

In that first year after chemo, I reached out to people and activities and dreams in a way I never had before.  I tended to say . . . "Why not?". . . "Let's do it!". . . "I want to". . . "YES!"  I didn't stop to overanalyze; I opened myself to possibilities; I didn't get bogged down with things.  I was really clear about what was important and what I wanted to do and who I wanted to do it with.  And that felt really good!

And now?   (Nearly) three years since?

Well.  Even though, from time to time,  I get close to The Edge again, for the most part, I'm finding my angle of repose -- that point where I've settled in to what's comfortable; to what seems "normal;" to-almost-but-not-quite where I was before I had cancer.

And, you know. . . this bothers me a little.

As I slide into a new angle of repose, I can feel myself losing that openness.  I'm starting to feel frozen by "oughts" and "shoulds"; I'm starting to say "yes" to things that aren't really important to me; I'm starting to feel like there is plenty of time.

I've learned that being a little close to The Edge. . . isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, if your angle of repose lets you believe that there are plenty of tomorrows ahead of you. . . you may miss opportunities to seize today.  (And I actually like reaching out for those opportunities!)


This is the "anniversary-time" of the awful, dark days of my initial cancer diagnosis and the beginning of my treatment.  (Three years, now!)  It's become a time of reflection and remembering.  This year, I'm haunted by this new angle of repose; this feeling frozen; that, perhaps, I've actually stepped TOO far from The Edge.

And then, a week or so ago, I read one of Mary's posts. . . about the One Little Word project she was doing for 2011.  When I read her post, I was struck!  Like, in the words of Tom in Four Weddings and a Funeral. . . "lightning bolt city!"  Something about what she wrote resonated with me, and really got me thinking.

One little word (an actual word, not the project) has  been surfacing in my mind for a few weeks; a little voice that keeps getting louder.  I didn't realize there was actually a "program" designed to help you listen to that word -- but, WOW, was that an interesting concept!

After a quick pow-wow with Mary, I decided to join the One Little Word program myself.  Yeah, I'm quite late to the party.  Which is fine.  What it means is that I'll have to move through the one-month exercises at my own pace.  And I'm okay with that.  I'm ready!  I need this.

One Little Word. . . has been there for awhile.

One Little Word. . . is getting louder.

One Little Word. .  .is needing to be explored.

One Little Word. . .


The Freedom to Read

We are in the midst of a very special week!  Yes, my friends, it's Banned Books Week!


Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held each year during the last week in September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information, while highlighting the harm of censorship --- even when the information and ideas might be unpopular or . . . difficult.  Banned Books Week is all about the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox - and unpopular - viewpoints for any and all who wish to read them.

Banned Books Week teaches about the danger of imposing restraints on the availability of information in a free society.


As an avid reader (of both contemporary fiction and the classics), I'm always interested in seeing how many banned books I have read!  Here is a list of the most frequently challenged classics:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  6. Ulysses by James Joyce
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

As for me, I've read 9 of the 10 books listed above.**  I'm grateful that, at some point in the future, I'll be able to read the 10th (Lolita) if I so choose!

Celebrate Banned Books Week.  Check out the website for more information.  Go to your library or bookstore.  Grab a banned book -- and enjoy the freedom to read! 

** Truth be told, I struggled with Ulysses.  Really struggled.  I didn't read all of it.  (Really. . . has anyone?)


Day by Day

"My formula for living is quite simple.  I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.  In between, I occupy myself as best I can."  --- Cary Grant


This week, Carole asks us about the Ten Things We Do Every Day; those things that fill our time - day by day - between the getting up and the going to bed.  Here's what I do:

  1. Grab a cup of coffee
  2. Charge my phone
  3. Survey the garden
  4. Update my to-do list
  5. Call my Mom; text my kids
  6. Walk Jenny
  7. Eat dinner with Tom
  8. Do a little reading; a little knitting
  9. Sip a glass of wine
  10. Floss

How about you?

Shining Through


This week, Project Spectrum needs a little soundtrack.

(Oh, Cyndi.  Even though you can't belt out those high notes anymore, you're still a lot of fun!  Great haircut, too.)

When I first signed on for Project Spectrum, I set two goals for myself.

One: I wanted to let Project Spectrum inspire me to sit at my sewing machine again.  (For the most part, it has.  Although I lost steam during PINK. . . and totally let YELLOW slide by when it came to sewing.)


Two:  I wanted to do some "big" project using all the Project Spectrum colors; something that would last through the entire 7 months.


Initially, I wanted to do something with Granny Squares.  I have always been charmed by the Granny. . . and I thought it would be a fun way to play with all the colors of Project Spectrum.  But then I found this pattern -- and decided it might be fun to put round pegs in square holes.


Initially, I planned to crochet a square or two every month of Project Spectrum (after all, the pattern only calls for 9 squares), then stitch it together, slap on a colorful border, and be done with it by the end of the Project -- without making a real dent in my "regular" knitting.


But, after completing a few, I could see that 9 squares would make for a tiny afghan!  Baby-size.  And I wanted to curl up under this one . . . for a nap; when the snow flies.  So I had to up the stakes!  I decided to make 20 squares.

I've been a crocheting FOOL lately. . . and, while my crochet skills are definitely improving. . . I'm rather sick of this project!


I have finished 16 squares.  (Ravelry details, such as they are, here.)  Each different; each using the Project Spectrum colors in various shades; each crocheted from stash leftovers (except for the main color -- which I needed to purchase -- because you need a LOT of it).  I blocked out the 16 (because they are very. . . odd-shaped. . . before blocking; Tom thought I was making sombreros!), and I laid them out behind my couch in the living room.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to lay them out, color-wise.  I need to make 4 more squares, but I wanted to see what the finished afghan "needs" in terms of color before carrying on.

So I keep switching things around.  Contemplating.  Considering.  (Suggestions are most welcome.)


Now that the end is near, I'm finding these true colors . . . beautiful.

Like a rainbow!

Out of the Fog

Yesterday morning, I was running late.  Scrambling around, as usual.  But as I pulled out of my driveway, something caught my eye.  I had to stop.  Run back into the house for my camera.  And take a few minutes to try to capture the shimmering I saw out of the fog.


Sometimes, you've gotta slow down. . . to see the beauty.

PS -- This photo is better bigger.  Click on the photo to make it bigger.

Simon Cowell, Hugh Laurie, Jason Alexander. . . and Me


It's 1959.

Gas is 25 cents a gallon.  Going to a movie sets you back $1.00.  You need to fork over $2,200 for a new car.  And this might be playing on your radio. . .


This week, Carole has us going back. . . like WAY back. . . in history. . .to come up with Ten Headlines for the Year We Were Born

Here's what was happening in 1959 -- the year I was born (along with my more well-known age-mates: Simon, Hugh, and Jason):

  1. Fidel Castro Sworn in as New Cuban Prime Minister
  2. It's Official:  Alaska and Hawaii Become 49th and 50th States
  3. Spiritual Leader, the Dalai Lama, Flees Tibet; Seeks Political Asylum in India
  4. NASA Introduces America's First Astronauts to the World
  5. St. Lawrence Seaway Opens, Linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean
  6. Rogers & Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" Opens on Broadway to Rave Reviews
  7. NBC Launches New Show: "Bonanza" To Be First Weekly Television Show Completely In Color
  8. Barbie Makes Debut at American Toy Fair
  9. Guggenheim Museum, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Opens in New York
  10. The Music Has Died: Snowy Plane Crash Kills Buddy Holly in Iowa

So. . . What happened the year you were born?


Geritol! Geritol! Ooh! Ahh!*

Remember this?


Well.  Tom plays Ultimate Frisbee on a the Kalamazoo Ultimate Disc League (KUDL) team each summer and fall.  He has a great time -- even though most of his teammates are closer to Brian's age. . . than to his own!  (If you click here, you can find Tom -- part of this past summer's KUDL Summer League Champion team, Blue Oyster Cult.)

Besides his league team, though, Tom plays on a "Master's" Ultimate Team.  Their name?  Senior DISCount!


To be a "Master's" team, each player must be over 32 years old.  Tom is the oldest player.  (There are many players in their 40s; several in their 30s.  Tom is the only one over 50.)

This weekend was The Big Tournament -- Sectionals.  There wasn't any pressure -- beause "Master's" teams automatically proceed to the next level (Regionals) of play.  (There just aren't that many "Master's" teams around!)  But, Senior DISCount played in the Sectional tournament this weekend anyway.  Just for fun.


They played against college club teams all weekend.  (Like I said, Brian's age!)


Jenny and I went out to cheer on the OLD GUYS!


Jenny would prefer to play. . .


I can haz frisbee!


But, in the end, she was a good fan!


We were apparently good luck. . . because Senior DISCount won (this game, anyway!).


Geritol!  Geritol!


Oooh!  Ahhhh! 

Power to the Old Guys!


* Official Team Chant!


Some Things Just Work Out

I never intended this to be a Project Spectrum . . . project.


I cast on for this tank top in May (that was Project Spectrum RED month).


And after a strong start in early June (that was Project Spectrum GREEN month), it languished throughout July (Project Spectrum BLUE) and August (Project Spectrum PINK) . . .


only to make it to "finished" status in September*.  Which happens to be Project Spectrum YELLOW month.

Some things just work out.

Ravelry details here.

* Of course. . . it's too cold to wear it now.  But there's always next year.

Knit All

I used to buy knitting books.  This was in the days before (and even early) Ravelry.  Back when you needed to actually remember a pattern you saw . . . because there was no way to "favorite" or "queue" or (god help me) "pin" it. 

So I bought books . . . to hold on to patterns I liked.  I have a whole shelf of knitting books now.  But I haven't purchased one in years.

Until last Friday, that is!

Last Friday, I attended the monthly "knit night" at my local yarn store (which is called a "lock in" -- because they lock the door of the store. . . and then -- if you're in, you're In) and the store owner was passing this around:


Knit One Knit All.  It's the newest Elizabeth Zimmermann book . . . and it's beautiful.  All garter stitch.  All patterns NOT included in her other books.  Lovely.  (Except some of the hats.  Let's just say. . . some of them are not exactly Fashion Forward.)

There were four copies in the yarn store on Friday night.  They were passed around all evening.   There was almost a bidding war.  In the end, I came home with one. 

I couldn't resist.

There are hats.  And mittens.  And baby sweaters.  And vests.


But it was the sweaters that got me.  Like. . . this one. . .


and this one. . .


and this one. . .


and this one. . .


(See better photos on Ravelry . . . here.)

I had to buy the book. 

I don't want to Knit One.  I want to Knit All!