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May 2014

Right Now . . . May 2014

May . . . 

The weather here at the end of May has been glorious!  Warm, sunny . . . summer is coming!


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

Watching . . . My hops grow.  (And grow.  And grow.)  I recently caught up on Call the Midwife (such a charming show), too.  But I find very little time (or patience) for television, generally, and sometimes don't watch anything for weeks at a time.  (This is why I can't remember . . . how work controls???)


Reading . . . Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie by day; Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin by night (this one is a re-read of what I remember as a great book . . . that I last read in 1983!).  And . . . I haven't give up on Bach: Music in Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner, but it's on the back burner for now.

Knitting . . . I'm slogging away on another folded poncho!  This one for summer, in Hempathy.  It's a good project to have around, because it takes no brain power at all -- and that's Just the Ticket some days.  I'm also READY for the start of Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Shawl!  Yarn wound; needles found.


Listening to . . . Amos Lee.


Dreading . . . Dealing with this.  Yeah.  (Be sure to check the integrity of the pockets in new running clothes.  Just sayin.)


Planning . . . A long weekend trip in August . . . a visit from Erin in June . . . how to maximize my vacation time. . .

Humming . . . A certain Coldplay song that my spinning instructor really likes.  I'll not share it here, because I'm trying to get rid of that particular earworm.  I'll share this Coldplay song instead.  Because great video.


Wondering . . . Why my usually-quiet neighbors let their now-teenage daughter scream and shriek in the pool . . . like . . . All.The.Time.

Drinking . . . Iced tea!

Itching to . . . Get Up North to our cottage.  (Tom has been up many times already.  Me and the dogs?  Not yet!  But soon.)

Needing to . . . Plant.  Weed.  Mulch.  Repeat.

Organizing . . .  It is the "quiet season" (relatively speaking) at work right now.  I am trying to organize All The Work Things.

Delighted by . . . I have a new car* . . . and I am absolutely delighted by it in every way!  The leather seats.  The satellite radio.  The bluetooth.  But.  I am most delighted by this (and, if you are in my family, you know this is an extravagance I've been waiting for for about 20 years) . . .


Inspired by . . . A little drawing journal I picked up last week.  Doodling With Purpose!


Celebrating . . . Summer!  Glorious Summer!

Pleased with . . . My new dogwood is blooming!


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


* Subaru Outback.

Before and After

We look before and after, and pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those
that tell of saddest thought.

                                            --- Percy Bysshe Shelley


There are turning points . . . watershed events . . . defining moments . . . in our lives all the time.

Sometimes, we notice them right away.  But, sometimes, it takes a little time and perspective before we can really understand just how pivotal and important certain events are in our lives.

Whatever the watershed, it is marked by a definite before . . . and a definite after.

For me, the biggest turning point in my life (so far!) has been my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  The contrast between my before . . . and my after . . . is remarkable.


Maybe. Not.

Maybe . . . 

I'm just more aware.

I can just say that, for me, going through cancer and treatment -- and coming out the other side -- created a definite dividing line in my own life.  


Kind of Blue Fini 015


Although the whole cancer nightmare is something I could certainly do without, I can use it as a marker in my life . . . for the new and different and interesting things that have happened in the last five years.  Things that I may not have been open to . . . before.





Open-ness and sharing.

The liberating embrace of natural hair color.

A just-do-it sense of adventure.

A seeking . . . that just wasn't there . . . before.

Today . . . I celebrate my Five-Year-Blog-Anniversary.   Thanks to ALL of YOU . . . for being part of my after.  It's been a privilege and a pleasure to share my journey over the last five years with all of you.


Roll Up. . .

. . . For the Mystery Tour!

Come June 1, you'll find me following the clues . . . of Kirsten Kapur's 2014 Mystery Shawl!

I've never knit a Mystery Anything.  In fact, I've sworn I never would!  But, here I am.  All signed up and ready to go.

Truth is, I trust Kirsten's designs.  I've knit at least five of her shawls, and I love each one.  Great designs.  Great patterns.  Great results.

And when I read, "shallow triangle," "ease of wear," and "tossed casually around the neck much like a scarf," I was hooked.   Then, when I read she had knit her sample using a gradient yarn kit . . . I was All In!

(Of course, a little peer pressure makes it all fun, too!  I'm excited to be joining Margene, Carole, and Patty on this Mystery Tour.)


I'll be knitting a pop-of-color mystery, that's for sure!  (I ordered the flouro gradient kit.  And "flouro" it is!)

Roll up!  

We're waiting to take you away . . . 


This and That


We had a mighty fine, long weekend here in Southwest Michigan!  Best weather I can remember in a long, long time -- and that makes everything pretty darn wonderful.


My weekend was full of This and That.  10 things:

1.  I got fitted for new running shoes at my local running store.   (I ran a couple of times, too!)


2.  We had friends over for dinner on Friday night. (I did the cooking and organizing.)  (Tom did the cleaning up.)

3.  I got sick.  A weird little bug that made me really grumpy.  And tired.  (I whined a lot.)  (Fortunately, it came and went quickly.)

4.  I shopped at my favorite local nurseries.  (Best kind of shopping!)


5.  I put in my herb garden.  (And harvested a huge batch of parsley.  Somehow, it survived the winter and is going gangbusters already!)

6.  I packed Tom for a quick fishing trip to Key West.  (He is catching shark and barracuda and permit -- and seeking tarpon!)

7.  I took a road trip with the dogs to visit my Mom and Dad in Holland.  (We saw Brian, too.)


8.  I had a marathon day in the garden, digging and weeding and figuring out where to put what.  (I'm sort of overwhelmed right now, but it'll all work out.)

9.  I called in the air conditioning repairman.  (Bummer.  But, luckily, easy fix.)

10.  I marveled at the wonder of warmth and sunshine and walking barefoot.  (I am so ready for summer!)


How about YOU?  What did you do this weekend?


Blog Anniversary Quiz Bowl #4: The Final Edition

First . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . CONGRATULATIONS to last week's randomly-selected Quiz Bowl Winner . . . RACHEL!!!  

And now . . . on to Quiz Bowl #4!

During May, I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary of blogging!  Each Friday, I will provide a Blog Quiz. Answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!  (A random winner will be chosen every week -- PLUS a Grand Prize Winner at the end of the month.)  All answers have been provided, at some point, here on the blog.


(Congratulations to Brian - who made the Dean's List in his final semester of college.  Way to finish strong!)

Here are the questions for Week 3:

  1. If I am knitting a project for myself, what are the most likely colors I'll choose?   (There could be multiple right answers here.)
  2. I tested and analyzed a certain type of product a couple of years ago.  What was it?
  3. Over the blog years, what month have I worked to reclaim?

Just leave your answers in the comments section.  (All correct answers will be eligible for the prize drawing.)

Happy Friday!

Throwback Thursday: Talkin' Dirt(y)

(Yeah.  That got your attention!)

(I want to apologize to all of you who have commented over the last few days.  Because of the ongoing Typepad "issues," I am not receiving comments by email, which makes it difficult to respond to you.  Please know that I appreciate every comment and would love to send you a personal response.  Right now, though, Typepad is not making this easy.  Please hang in there with me -- and all of us with Typepad blogs.)


Five years ago, when I first started this blog, I had a few very nice garden beds . . . and a whole lotta plans and dreams!  During that long winter of chemo, I surrounded myself with garden books and landscaping magazines and plant palettes.  

I dreamed.

I schemed.

I drew.

I made lists.

In May 2009, my back yard looked like this . . .

Back fence design project 002

A whole swath of nothing!

And my front yard looked like this . . .

Front of house 002

as Tom and Brian and Dominik dug up all the foundation plantings along the front of the house.

I started planting. . .

Putting in the Garden May 2009 014

but things were a bit sparse!

The tiny little "puddle pond" was brand new. . .

Putting in the Garden May 2009 009

and I was still holding on to the misguided notion that I could have an "English cottage garden" in my way-too-sunny-and-windy side lot.

Garden Jun 4 2009 016

My garden has gone through amazing changes in the last five years!  More change than my growing-up-kids.  More change than my knitting.  More change than my hair style or attitude or reading habits!

My garden has been. . . 

dug up





torn out


The "whole swath" out in back?  (Note:  These photos are from last season.)




That ripped-out front foundation bed?


The "puddle-pond"?


It's there . . . bottom right. . . and has been joined by a second, larger pond, up the hill!


My failed cottage garden . . . has turned into a garden full of Michigan natives to attract bees and butterflies.


(Totally out of control, but much happier!)

Whole new corners have popped up. . . 


and new beds are in the works!


When it comes to talkin' dirt(y) . . . you could say. . . that I've had a whole lot to say in 5 years!






As soon as I read Carole's Ten on Tuesday prompt this week, this song . . . 


popped right into my head!


Ten Things I'd Like to Try:

  1. Beekeeping.  (Seriously - but not in a serious way.)  (I just love my bees!)
  2. Worm composting.  (I've wanted to try this one for years.)
  3. Making beer from my own hops.  (Which are taking over the garden.)  (Just sayin.)
  4. Mosaic.  (Garden stepping stones.) (Or maybe a little tabletop.)
  5. Serious Writing.  (Like a book.)  (I've had an idea in my head for years.)
  6. Kayak the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  (Doesn't this look great?)
  7. Knit charming Christmas stockings. (Colorful and unique.)
  8. Watercolor.  (Real watercolor.)  (Not the app.)
  9. Use Photoshop regularly.  (Enough to remember how to use it.)
  10. Run enough to run a 10K.  (But not in an official way.)

How about YOU?  What would you like to try?


 Join the fun!  Read other Ten on Tuesday posts here, or sign up for weekly prompts here.   


Where Skies Are Blue

Today's soundtrack. . .


can mean only one thing.


I finished my Alabama Chanin project!


I really did love making this shawl!  It was futzy -- but no more futzy than most knitting projects.  


Vicki encouraged me to plunge on in and Just Try It back when I was hesitating.  

All those stitches, I said.

No big deal, she said.

You knit entire sweaters . . . one stitch at a time, she said.

Huh, I said.

You're right, I said.


And, although I love it . . . and remain completely charmed by the whole Alabama Chanin stitching couture Thing . . . I will say that I am spoiled by the hand-knit shawl!  (The drape and light, comfortable warmth are hard to beat.)  This shawl -- being two layers of high-quality cotton knit fabric -- is rather heavy and has little drape.  It is lovely -- a true work of art! -- but not as wearable as my hand-knit shawls.

It feels rather like . . . it might be more appropriate as . . .

a table runner!


I think I'll keep it slung over a chair.  Where I can admire it every day.


Will I try another Alabama Chanin project?

Oh, yeah!  You bet!

Big wheels keep on turning . . .

Blog Anniversary Quiz Bowl #3

First . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . CONGRATULATIONS to last week's randomly-selected Quiz Bowl Winner . . . MARGENE!!!  

And now . . . on to Quiz Bowl #3!

During May, I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary of blogging!  Each Friday, I will provide a Blog Quiz. Answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!  (A random winner will be chosen every week -- PLUS a Grand Prize Winner at the end of the month.)  All answers have been provided, at some point, here on the blog.


(The trillium in my yard are blooming.)

Here are the questions for Week 3:

  1. Where in the world are my sister and I going next?
  2. If forced to choose, which is my favorite "hobby" -- reading or knitting?
  3. When I first started college, I planned to major in what subject?

Just leave your answers in the comments section.  (All correct answers will be eligible for the prize drawing.)

Happy Friday!