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February 2014

Right Now . . . February 2104

Let's just make this perfectly clear:  I am SO DONE with winter.


Like . . . totally finished and so glad to have arrived at the end of February.  (Although March isn't looking any better.  At least initially.)

What's happening in my world . . . RIGHT NOW?


Watching . . . The next Polar Vortex roll in.  (Seriously.  This needs to end.)

Reading . . . Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda.  My kind of read:  all characters and dialogue; short on plot (because, really, plot is overrated!).  Also The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.  Which I love for all the reasons I love Huck Finn.


Knitting . . . These charming little mitts . . . out of my leftovers . . . while I decide on a sweater.  Because I'm in the mood for a sweater.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 8.54.17 PM

Listening to . . . a just-found playlist I created several years ago: Kym's Top 100.  I believe I was trying to capture 100 of my favorite songs of all time.  Which was impossible.  And I gave up.  But listening to my attempt pretty much just makes me happy . . . because of songs like this . . .


Dreading . . . a 5K on Sunday morning.  The Winterfest 5K - on March 2 - seemed so reasonable when I registered in mid-December.  

Planning . . . What to wear to run aforementioned 5K.  Because the race kicks off at 8:00 am . . . when the temperature is supposed to be 0F.  (Oh, brother.)

Humming . . . 100 Years from Five for Fighting.  I am a total sap for that song.  (It showed up on my Top 100 playlist.)


Drinking . . . Red wine.  And plenty of it.

Itching to . . . Knit a sweater.  Plant a garden.  Wear my flip flops. 

Needing to . . . Make a move to doing our taxes.

Organizing . . . Said taxes.  And other paperwork.  (The fun never ends.)


Delighted by . . . Waterlogue.  Best. App. Ever.  (I am completely addicted.) (As I'm sure you've noticed.)

Inspired by . . . Color.  I'm tired of the DRAB of winter and I'm seeking out ways to add color to my days.


How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?

Jottings . . . Re-using . . . and Poetry

Small letter mo

As the Month of Letters draws to a close, I think it might be fun to talk about . . .


And alternative uses of envelopes.

And poetry.


You see, I am a jotter.

I'm always grabbing a scrap of paper to jot a quick note to myself.  Scraps, note pads, backs of receipts, napkins . . . whatever is handy.  Backs of envelopes are particularly useful for jotting!  

I keep little piles of my jottings close at hand.  On my desk.  Stuck in recipe books.  On a side table near my knitting.  You never know when inspiration will strike.

It works for me.

It also worked for Emily Dickinson!  Apparently, Emily Dickinson always carried scraps of paper and a pencil in the pocket of her dress.  That way, she could note and edit and jot whenever the words came to her!

I have always been a fan of Emily Dickinson -- and this winter, during these dull and dreary cold days, I have particularly enjoyed a new collection of her poetry in a beautiful book called The Gorgeous Nothings.


That Emily Dickinson didn't waste a scrap of paper!  She practiced New England economy and reused envelopes by cutting or tearing them into pages for her jottings.

This new book - part poetry and part visual art volume - collects all of Emily Dickinson's "envelope poems":  her 52 surviving "dribs and drabs" -- her jottings -- on re-used envelopes and pieces of scrap paper.  It's a collection of pocket-sized papers, each featuring sentences, stanzas, and roughed out poems -- full size back and front views, with helpful translation (because Emily Dickinson's handwriting is difficult to read, and even more challenging when scrawled on the backs of envelopes).

In this book, I notice the shapes of the various papers . . .


before I notice the poems themselves.  The shapes and sizes of scrap paper are widely varied -- and beautiful in their own form and shape.  And, then, there is the poetry!  Not finished poetry . . . just fragments of poetry in progress!


It's almost like . . . poetry . . . in 3D!


Sometimes the poems seem to follow the shape of the paper (a poem about a bird written on a scrap torn in the shape of a feather, or one about a house in written in the roof-shape of an envelope flap).  But sometimes . . . not.


 I especially like discovering her "word play" on the envelopes -- her scratching out and substituting words, sometimes even listing several words she might choose from in a particular setting.  It is fascinating - and oh-so-"real" - to discover that even one of our most beloved poets had a process to her writing!


It's a wonderful book filled with lovely images and beautiful phrases.


If you're a fan of Emily Dickinson - or even a fan of recycled paper and handwritten notes - you might be delighted by this book, too.


It's a perfect collection . . . of jottings!


Feelin' It


It's been a slog of a winter this year.  Unrelenting, bitter cold.  Ice.  Snow that's breaking records.

And I've done . . . okay . . . with it.  I've rolled with it.  I've laughed about it.  I've kept-calm-and-carried-on.

But, I gotta tell you, it's wearing on me.

It really is.


When Carole asked us to talk about how we feel this week, all that's coming out of me is whining!  How do I feel?  Well . . . 

  1. I feel . . . Sick. Of. Winter.
  2. I feel . . . like having a real, sustained thaw.
  3. I feel . . . like going outside without boots and coat and hat and scarves and mittens.
  4. I feel . . . like having a cold beer on the patio.
  5. I feel . . . like gardening.
  6. I feel . . . like taking my dogs on a long walk without feeling like we'll endanger ourselves on the icy streets.
  7. I feel . . . like being able to turn my water off (because it's gotten to that point here -- we need to run our water in a "toothpick-size-stream" all the time to avoid frozen pipes).
  8. I feel . . . like running outside again.
  9. I feel . . . like not having to "warm up the car" before driving anywhere.
  10. I feel . . . like Spring could come ANY TIME NOW.

Well.  I feel better now!

How about YOU?  How do you feel?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

At the Beach

On Saturday, Tom and I decided that it had warmed up enough that we could take a trip to the beach.


So we drove over to South Haven to see the ice on Lake Michigan.




The dunes are ice.  The channel is ice.  The lake is ice.*


The whole scene is really kind of like a lunar landscape . . . rather than a beach!


No lifeguard?


No problem!

I think Tom says it best . . . 



* We visited the Lake Michigan beach AFTER much melting took place late last week -- when the temperature reached all of 40F for a couple of days . . . with lots of rain!  But - here it comes again!  The Polar Vortex is going to take another shot at us later this week.

Until the Twelfth of Never

In honor of a finished knitting project, we need a sountrack.  (And in honor of Throwback Thursday, that soundtrack needs to be . . . Donny Osmond!)


I have wanted to knit the folded poncho from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas for a very long time.  It just looked like a perfect piece to have in my wardrobe:  Easy to pop on.  Functional.  And kinda chic, too.

But the thought of knitting a giant, never-ending rectangle just kept me from casting on!

But, after the holidays, I really needed a nice, simple, relaxing project.  And the Churchmouse folded poncho was just what I needed.

But, man!


That's a lot of stockinette!


I'll KNIT YOU til the bluebells forget to bloom. . .


I'll KNIT YOU til the clover has lost its perfume. . .


I'll KNIT YOU til the poets run out of rhyme. . .


Until the twelfth of never, and that's a long, long time!

(Ravelry details here.)

A Word Epiphany

A few weeks ago, Tom and I were at the movies and we saw this trailer*:


At first, I didn't catch on that this movie was actually one of my "favorite-books-of-all-time" -- Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin.  Now, that could've been because the movie doesn't actually follow the book.  But.  More likely, it's because my brain dumps books almost as fast as I can read them**!

I read Winter's Tale back in 1983, when it was first published.  I loved it!  Today, I remember loving it much more than I actaully remember the story.   (In fact, truth be told, all I really recall about the book itself is this: "New York City" and "magical horse.")  


But.  What I DO remember about Winter's Tale is this . . . 

Back in 1983, I recommended the book to everyone I knew!  (Tom even read it.)

I remember not being able to put it down.

I remember being transported by the story.

I remember being deeply disappointed when it was over.


As a result. . .

I still own the book, over 30 years later.  Hardcover.  Which means, I've moved it across the country and lovingly placed in on my bookshelves in six different apartments and homes from Colorado to Texas and, finally, here in Michigan.

I've read several other books by Mark Helprin.

When I flip through the pages of the book today -- pages containing words I don't remember -- I still get a warm feeling about the story.

My epiphany:  Words have magical powers.  Even when you can't remember what they are!


* So, Lady Sybil tragically died on Downton Abbey last season so she could make a movie with Colin Farrell.  Not so sad after all!

** I read about 50-60 books every year, and I have since . . . well, forever.  If you use an average of 55 books each year, I've read over 1,700 books since reading Winter's Tale in 1983.  No wonder I don't remember all the words. . .


Special Happy Birthday wishes go out today . . .

To Brian!  (Please explain to your Mom how you can be 22???)

Goobie boy

To my brother-in-law, Kurt!

And to my dear pal (and partner-in-hat-disasters), Patty!


The Truth About My Love-Hate Relationship with the Olympics


Like many of you, I've been watching the Olympics.  Not obsessively, and not every day.  But enough to keep up with things.  


I have a bit of a love-hate thing going with the winter Olympics.  On the one hand . . . I love them.  On the other hand . . . I hate them.  So.  My thoughts on the Olympics this year? A mixed bag!

  1. (love) I always enjoy seeing obscure sports I never see except every 4 years at the Olympics.  (Like ski jump.  And how is it that I never realized that women weren't ski jumping before?  I'm usually pretty good at catching things like that.  I am amazed at myself . . . and amazed that women weren't allowed to do it.)
  2. (hate) I find the commentators incredibly tedious.  I actually sort of despise them.  (Except Scott Hamilton.) (And poor Bob Costas.  I've had pink eye as an adult.  It's awful!) 
  3. (love) I especially like the fast and dangerous sports . . . speed skating, aerials, ski racing in all forms, snowboardcross, bobsled.
  4. (hate) I hate the hype.  (Hate.)
  5. (love) I love to watch hockey on the bigger Olympic-sized ice.  So much more room to manuever; it really opens up the games, eh?.
  6. (hate) I pay no attention to "medal counts."  (Like that's a sport.)
  7. (love) I have fun watching curling with Tom.  (He has programmed the DVR to record each round that is televised!  He is VERY into the curling.)
  8. (hate) I am sick, Sick, SICK of the commercials.  (Which we can skip through when watching the recorded curling rounds.)
  9. (love) I like men's figure skating best of all the skating events.  (So much power.  And their costumes are so much more fun that the women's.)
  10. (hate) I think it's beyond goofy that they're holding winter Olympics in a seaside resort with FAKE snow (and stuff they saved from last year). 

And there you have it!  Love.  Hate.

How about you?  What do you think about the Olympics this winter?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Letters ... as a Genre, and Other Things

Small letter mo

Here we are, mid-month in the Month of Letters challenge.  I'm keeping up . . . sending out cards and little notes every day so far.  And although I'm not really writing any letters this month (I'm more apt to do the quick note and card variety of correspondence these days), I am thinking about letters quite a lot.

And I have these random letter-related thoughts to share with you today:


As you know, I read a lot.  And I've discovered, over the years, that I really enjoy epistolary novels -- or narratives told through a series of letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, etc.


I think it all started with Flowers for Algernon, a book I first read - and loved! - in seventh grade.   I think there's just something fascinating . . . with peeking into other people's diary entries or private letters . . . even if it's just fiction.  For me, that format just brings a sense of connection and "realness" to a novel.    Over the years, there have been many, many epistolary novels I've loved:  Carrie, Dracula, The Screwtape Letters, The Stone Diaries.  And, more recently, Where'd You Go Bernadette? and Frances and Bernard.

How about you?  Do you enjoy epistolary novels?  What are your favorites?


What do you do with all the fun cards and lovely notes you receive in the mail?

I usually display a few favorite cards on my bulletin boards at home or at my office (because I really like to surround myself with lovely images and special notes).  And then, I save the rest by making little "card binders."


I just gather my cards, punch holes in them with a hole punch, and thread them on little binder rings I pick up at the office supply store.


Sometimes I group the cards by theme (if there's a big "event" that has generated a lot of cards, for example), but mostly I just assemble random cards together.  It's easier to save special cards when they're bound together in a manageable way, and I'm much more apt to take a look at them when they're in tidy little groups.


How do you keep track of cards and notes?


I have a "thing" for stationery.  Somehow, I'm always drawn to the paper goods at any store, and my supply of greeting cards and note cards far exceeds my letter-writing habit!


I keep a little basket stocked with notecards, stamps, and return address labels so I'm always prepared when the letter-writing bug bites me.

I even use an old-school address book that I've had for nearly 20 years!


I think this is why the Month of Letters is always so appealing to me!  I like to read letters . . . and keep letters . . . and collect stationery and addresses to write letters.