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October 2014

Right Now . . . October 2014

October . . . you're almost over.  Not sure how it happened, but one minute . . . we had green leaves and light that lasted.  Now?  Well. . . not so much!


Here's what's happening for me. . . Right Now! 

Watching . . . Not much, really.  A bit of the World Series (an inning or two here and there) and some House of Cards.  But that's pretty much it for me.

Reading . . . I'm reading the Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry right now (very good!), and slogging away on Eighty Days (good. . . but slow).

Knitting . . . Still working on this shawl.  I've completed the first (of 18) lace repeats for the border, but really need to take a break . . . to knit this baby sweater (for a new baby in Tom's family).  (If I don't get to hustling, this baby will be in kindergarten before I finish.)  I'm nearly finished with this (it was my travel knitting last month), but have had to lay it aside for a time (becasue baby sweater).  And now I'm dying to start this.  Because this. . .

Kim's Lucent . . . in colors especially picked for me!

Listening to . . . The new U2 album - Songs of Innocence - that just showed up in my iTunes one day.  And, yeah, it's been controversial, but still.  I like it!


Dreading . . . Something distasteful that I need to take care of later this week.  Not looking forward to doing it.  But know it will make things easier, going forward.

Planning . . .  Trying to get ahead of things (or, at least, on top of things) regarding the holidays.

Humming . . . Surrey with the Fringe on the Top.  (Oh, yeah.  I know.)  (Pops concert last weekend. . . )


Wondering . . . What everyone on my Christmas list might like . . . (Because it really is time to Get On With It.)

Drinking . . . Wine.  (But what else is new here?)


Itching to . . . Get back to my dance class!  (But not until after the holidays. . .)

Needing to . . . Bring in the remaining garden stuff and container plants . . . before the snow flies. . . (which might be tomorrow!).


Flaunting . . . My New Precious!  My contract finally expired and I was able to nab an iPhone 6 (not the giant version).  (There is So Much More to my Story of the Phone.  But I will spare you.)

Organizing . . .  I just finished a major desk overhaul and a closet-clean-out to end all closet-clean-outs.  Now, I need to tackle the guest room! 


Delighted by . . . A new bag!  I joined many of the the Salt Lake City/Alta Retreat knitters in ordering this Great Bag from Sherpani.  Really -- it may be the Most Perfect Knitting Bag . . . ever!

Inspired by . . .  The power of words.  Still.


Celebrating . . . Brian's GREAT new job!  (And a cool new car.)  Congratulations, Bud!  (SO proud!!) 

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

Postcards from Italy: Stumbling onto Surprise

Dear friends:

In Florence, every time you turn around . . . you run into art that makes you gasp!  A Michelangelo here.  A Donatello there.  Botticelli to your right.  The Duomo to your left.

And you expect that.  (That's probably why you're there, in fact.)

But I never quite expected this!


Modern, public art!

This installation - Personal/Unpersonal by architect Simone D'Auria - is currently on display at the Longarno Hotel in Florence.

(Embiggen to read more about the installation. The second paragraph is in English.)

It was fun to stumble onto something incredibly modern and unexpected . . . in a city already full of incredible art!


It sort of took my breath away . . .


in a city full of gasp-worthy sights.

(Tomorrow . . . Venice. . . )



Doot'in Doo Doo . . . Feelin' Groovy. . .


This week, Carole asks us to share Ten Things We Feel Good About Right Now . . . or . . . 


With that . . . Hello, lamp post!  What'cha knowin'?

  1. Over the weekend, Tom and I worked hard to "winterize" the garden and bring in all the patio furniture, etc.  We're now about . . . oh, 90% ready for winter.  (And that feels really groovy!)
  2. When I wasn't outside this weekend, I was diligently working on organizing my "home-desk" and getting caught up on filing and cleaning-out and taking care of those little, niggly details of life.  (Totally groovy!)
  3. Although not quite to Project 333 standards, I have made major (HUGE) progress in paring down and minimizing my wardrobe and organizing my closet.  (This is makes me feel more groovy than I ever imagined.)
  4. I have made my tough decision.  (Very, very groovy.)  (But now comes the hard part.)
  5. I wasn't happy with a color choice I made on a baby sweater I'm knitting.  Usually, I would knit on for rows and rows, thinking things might look better further out (but, in the end, I would rip it).  This time . . . I ripped right away and saved myself hours of pointless knitting.  (Groovy, definitely!)
  6. Two months ago, I started back to my Wednesday night yoga class (after a too long, year-and-a-half-long break).  (So much groovy!)
  7. David Sedaris was in town last night, and I really wanted to go see him.  Tom had plans and couldn't get away, so Brian went with me.  We had a great time!  (Groovy mom-and-son date.)
  8. I have worn out the pair of running shoes I bought at the end of May.  Which means . . . I've kept up with the running!  (Surprisingly groovy.)
  9. I snagged two tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in January.  (So much groovy I can almost not stand it!)
  10.  I have bought -- but not OPENED - two giant bags of Halloween candy.  (How's that for groovy???)

How about YOU?  What are you "feelin' groovy" about right now?


Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here!                                                                                                                                                                      

Fall ... Now in Full Splendor!

What a beautiful, gorgeous fall weekend we had here in my neck of the woods!


Lots of sunshine; lots of blue sky.

IMG_4085 2

My garden turned golden!


Plenty of time - and sunshine - for garden chores and running and walking the dogs!


Fall.  In all its splendor!


And a beautiful sunset, to boot!


Hope your weekend was just as spectacular!


Friday Fun Meets Postcards From Italy: Another Blog Mash-up: Going UP?

We're pretty spoiled here in the US when it comes to elevators.  Our buildings are new.  The elevators are spacious.  And fast.  And - there is really no mistaking where the elevators ARE . . . or how they work.

It's kind of standard.

In much of Europe?  Not so much!

European buildings are old.  Very old.  Often there are no elevators at all, and when you find an elevator, it is small.  Very small.  (Like . . .we're talking tiny!)  In fact, often, a typical European hotel elevator can fit two rather small sisters and two carry-on sized rolling bags.  And that is it.  

It's part of the charm of traveling in Europe!  (Even though my sister often has to swallow hard and close her eyes.  Because she's never been a fan of elevators to begin with!)

We stayed in a Quite Posh hotel in Florence.  While we usually stay in Very Nice Places when we travel, this particular hotel was incredibly comfortable and rather luxurious.  Like I've already mentioned, it was almost right next door to the Uffizi, steps away from the Ponte Vecchio, and our room had this view . . . 

(Seriously. This photo was snapped out of my hotel window!)

The elevators, though?  Crazy-funny!

First, you know how, here in the US, you push the UP or DOWN button for the elevator . . . and then just wait until it makes its way to you?  Not at this hotel!  We pushed the UP button.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  We pushed it some more.  And waited.  And waited.  We figured it must be broken, so, in the end, we took the stairs.  Four flights.  With luggage.  

It happened again later.  We pushed the button.  We waited.  No elevator.  We took the stairs.

We figured there must be a trick to this particular elevator!  So we asked at the desk.  The slightly-smug-but-helpful-concierge just looked at us -- (stupid Americans. . . ) -- and suggested we use the "other elevator."

Other elevator?


Why, right there.  (Smug pointing to . . . the wall across from the desk.)

I've got to say . . . my sister and I nearly went into a hysterical laughing fit right in front of her.  Because this . . . 


Look like an elevator to you???

We opened that secret and completely un-obvious door (that, truth be told, looked more like a hidden refrigerator door in a well-appointed kitchen) to reveal . . . 


another set of doors inside . . . 

which opened to reveal . . .


a teeny, tiny, glass elevator!

All of those doors?  They make incredibly loud CLUNK noises as they close.  And the elevator was super teeny.  And glass.  (I felt sort of like we were in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. . . heading up and through the roof . . . )

Also.  No emergency phone in the elevator.  (I didn't point this out to my sister.  But I'm betting she noticed.)

As for pushing the button and not having it ever come?  Well.  It turns out that the elevators in this hotel only take one command at a time!  So you have to time it just right.  You can push the buttons all you want -- but if that elevator is already following another command, all of your button-pushing is completely in vain!  (The bartender explained it to us.)

Luckily, the bar was only one flight up from our room on the fourth floor -- and we could just hop up the stairs!  Totally worth the hopping, too.  Because here is the view from the bar's rooftop patio. . .




Happy Friday!




Postcards from Italy: Firenze, Part 2

Dear friends,

We're still here, in Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance and a city well-known for its art and architecture.


Now, back when we were in Rome, there were a lot of tourists, but not THRONGS of tourists in any one place.  In retrospect, I think this is because there are so many things to see in Rome . . . but they're all spread out . . . so people don't get terribly congested.

In Florence, though . . . it's another story!  There is MUCH to see in Florence, and it's all crammed together in a very small area.  So crowds of tourists are all trying to see the same things -- all in the same place.  There are throngs EVERYwhere in Florence!  Here's a typical street scene, just across the Ponte Vecchio bridge.  (See what I mean?)


My sister and I took to calling it "RenaissanceLand" -- because it reminded us of Disney Land (like . . . right before the parades).  There were always big crowds of tourists at all the major sights.  It was overwhelming and exhausting, just getting around.

But totally worth it!


We took a small group walking tour with a wonderful guide on our second day in Florence.  It was delightful!  She showed us all the best things in Florence, shared interesting stories, and - best of all - knew all the shortcuts!

Our tour began in the Piazza Della Repubblica, where an antique carousel is a popular attraction!
I took this photo for my knitting friends. This building had been the Renaissance home of the Wool Guild!
Some of the building "hardware" was really intriguing!  I loved this . . . a fire-breathing dragon.
Although we didn't partake, we did keep hearing about the famous Florentine steak!
These wine bars were everywhere in the streets of Florence! See the little rack to the right of the doorway? That's where you can set your wineglass while you socialize out in the streets with your friends!
The best gelato in Florence -- hazelnut and pistachio!

In Florence, though, it really is all about the art!  My favorites . . . 

David (the real one this time. . . which is so much more awesome than you imagine it will be. . . ).



The Baptistry doors (and especially the Gates of Paradise).



And the Duomo -- the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.  So beautiful and so impressive!




But now, my friends, we have wine to drink and pizza to eat!  (For soon we head to Venice. . . )


Ciao, bella!

Words . . . with Impact


First, two facts:

  1. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of my first chemo treatment.
  2. I am struggling with a big decision I need to make; one that involves priorities and decisions about how I want to live my life; one that isn't easy for me.

Next, the backstory:

Last March, I received an email from Dana, a blog-reader.  She let me know how much my story meant to her.  She told me that she wanted me to understand the "the impact your blog and willingness to share your experiences has made on a stranger's life."  She also told me that she was embarking on her first chemo treatment the next day.

We began a correspondence.

Now, to yesterday:

Yesterday was a rather difficult day for me.  Like I mentioned above, I am struggling with a decision.  In my heart, I know what I'm going to do, but I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do it yet. (And that's the hardest part.)  And, in my head, I kept circling back to starting chemo six years ago . . . and how cancer changed my way of thinking about the world and my place in it . . . and how, now, I'd slid back to the "before" . . . losing sight of my own priorities and getting swept up in the drama around me.

And then, before I went to bed, I opened my email.

And there it was.

An email from Dana's husband.  He wanted to let me know that Dana had passed away in late August. He said the chemotherapy was just never effective in stopping the advance of her cancer.  He wanted me to know that I "had made a difference in Dana's life and helped her from a distance at a time she needed it most."

I came undone.

It is overwhelming ... the power of words.

I can't help but think that, on that particular day at that particular time, his words were the words I needed most.  It was like Dana was reaching out and reminding me, "Girl. Where are your priorities? You don't have forever."

Words. . . with impact.


Like a House on Fire!


This week, Carole asks a thought-provoking question:  What Would You Save if Your House was on Fire???  (Assuming, of course, that your family members and pets were safe.)

FX Photo Studio_image

Well, we had fun discussing this one around the dinner table -- and here's what we came up with!

Tom would . . . 

    1.  Grab his car keys and wallet

    2.  Photo albums

    3.  And his electronics (laptop, iDevices, and work briefcase)

Brian would . . . 

    4.  Grab his car keys and wallet

    5.  His stereo equipment (including Poppy's receiver!)

    6.  And his vinyl collection

Me?  I would . . . 

    7.  Grab my "vital documents" file (because . . . vital documents)

    8.  As many old photo albums and scrapbooks as possible

    9.  My computer and iDevices (because . . . ain't leaving my new iPhone 6 behind)

   10. And . . . the special things . . . like Brian's "Mr. Bun" and Erin's state champion trophy (and these         things?  These are the things I would grab first!)

How about you?  What would you save if your house was on fire?


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Finding the Bright Spots

I kind of lost control of my life back in August.

Between work deadlines and getting everything put in order before my trips . . . then the vacations themselves . . . and then trying to catch up with everything when I returned . . .

Well.  It's just really done me in.


And when life gets really busy . . . something's gotta give.  

And, for me, this time . . . it was my garden that gave!

There was weeding that didn't get done.  And transplants that didn't happen.  There were new plants that died in their containers before I could get them in the ground.  You know.  That kind of thing.

Over the weekend, I took a deep breath and got out there to begin to Deal With It; to get things back to (somewhat) of an order before winter begins.  I must admit - I was dreading it!  So many chores; so much to catch up with.

Once I got out there, though, I found some bright spots.  Sure, it was the weedy, overgrown mess I knew it would be.  But being Out There - and just taking some steps forward - made me relax a bit.  (Although there's still a ton of work to be done. . .)

And you know what?  Despite my neglect, I found some shining stars in my fall garden.

My grasses look pretty fabulous with their plumes.


And the butterfly weed is re-seeding all over the garden.  (I am actually happy about this; I imagine some of my neighbors are not.)


I didn't prune the clematis on my front porch when I should have, so it didn't re-bloom this year.  But that's okay -- because I got these cool seedheads instead!


And my hydrangeas, though tired, are still hanging in there and looking rather interesting (in that faded, antique kind of way).


And some of the rather plain plants -- the ones that just serve as background foliage for most of the blooming season -- really shine during the fall.  (Whether I give them any attention or not!)

My fothergilla, for example.  (In truth, planted explicitly for the show their fall leaves.)


And my hawthorn tree.  (Which earns its keep every fall.)


And there are a few surprises, too.  Like . . . if I had cut back my porcelain vine last August (as usual), I would never have known it would do this in the fall!


So, even though I feel bad about the neglected state of my garden this year, it's nice to find some bright spots out among the weeds.

(But.  I'm going to have my work cut out for me come Spring!)