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November 2014

Sundays . . . Are for Poetry


The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old rug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations --
though their melancholy 
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do 
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

--- Mary Oliver, Dream Work

Somewhat Nuts II

Saturdays are for . . .

Looking Up.


It's November.  The forecast is for cold and wet.  And the sky shows the truth in both of those statements.



We have this globe in our library.  It's just a cheapy, made of cardboard on a faux-wood and plastic base (with a dent just off the coast of South Africa), but it's a great and oft-used globe.  It spins and tilts and comes in surprisingly handy!  It's so nice to have such a low-tech item in our high-tech world!



These two look so well-behaved and attentive, don't they?  Waiting for my every command?  HAH!  They are just eagerly awaiting their dehydrated sweet potato snack that I'm reaching for in the cupboard behind me . . . after a lovely walk on a crisp fall afternoon!

Happy Saturday!

Flashback Friday

Five years ago . . . at right this very moment . . . my sister and I were in London!

London trip 059_2
Visiting Buckingham Palace on a rainy morning.

It's amazing to look back and realize . . . it's already been five years since our first Big Travel Adventure together.

London trip 378
The Tower Bridge . . . as viewed from the Tower of London.

We really didn't realize, then, what we'd started with our trip to London.  At the time, we thought this was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime trip -- something to celebrate my survival and do something we'd always wanted to do, but never thought we'd actually do!

Little did we know . . .

London trip 629
Trafalgar Square.

how much fun we'd have.  Or that the Travel Bug would bite us quite so hard!

London trip 539
Big Ben!

There's no stopping us now. . .


Postcards from Italy: The Streets of Venice . . . OR Lost in the Corn Maze

Dear friends,

My advice to you, should you decide to visit Venice, is . . . don't bother to buy a street map.  

Because a map will not help you.  At all.

You see, Venice is not like other cities.


No, my friends.  Venice is One Giant Corn Maze!

Maps are not helpful.  (Because no one pays attention to street names, which change frequently and rather inexplicably.)

Your own "inner compass" is not helpful.  (Because the entire city is as sea level.  There are no hills or other landmarks to guide you.  Basically, there is no visible horizon.)

Every time you think you have it figured out, you deadend into water!  (Because Venice is made up of 118 islands, connected by canals and bridges.  Lots of bridges.  And you always seem to be on the wrong one.)


There are alleys and shortcuts and deadends and . . . well.  It's like a maze.

There are street signs . . . and there are also directional signs (with arrows) that point visitors to major attactions.  But, they never seem to be there when you need them.  Sometimes, there are hand-written directional signs.  You follow. . . hoping it's not someone's idea of a joke on the tourists!


We found that it's best if you can just . . . let go . . . and let yourself get a little lost (because it's just gonna happen in Venice!).  You see interesting things; you discover less-touristy spots; and you can always rest with a glass of wine!


We only lost our "spirit of adventure" when we really, really needed to find a bathroom . . . but kept going in circles instead.  That was a bit stressful.  Also, it was incredibly annoying when a local protest march went through the streets -- blowing LOUD whistles to attract attention.  And they did.  For an extended period of time.  No worries, though, as we took refuge in a shop specializing in leather bags.  (Don't mind if we do. . . )

We had great luck using Rick Steves' walking guides to help us see what we wanted to see and navigate through the streets and alleyways of Venice.


But even with his turn-by-turn instructions, we STILL got lost!  (Mostly because his walks got us there -- but it was hard to turn them around to head back to your starting point.)


It was wild.  It felt a little more like an adventure than some of our travels.  It was like nothing we'd ever experienced before!


We LOVED it!  

Next time, I'll take you along on a gondola ride!  Until then --


Knitting as a Metaphor for Life


Sometimes, I get sucked into knitting something . . . that I really don't want to knit.




Usually, I can tell right away that the "fit" isn't quite right with my mood or my mindset.

The colors aren't working.

The yarn doesn't feel right.

Knitting is a chore. . . rather than a pleasant release.

Sometimes a little change or tweak will make the situation better.

A different color.

Better needles.

Sometimes a whole new pattern.

But sometimes, even with tweaks, I can tell that things are not right.

Bad juju.

Not fully buying-in.

Unresolved underlying issues.

Now, other people might take a look at my project and think I'm nuts.  They might even think that I've got a perfect project going.

Why would she not want to finish?

What is she complaining about?

I'd take that in a minute!

But, you see, knitting projects get complicated sometimes.  (And I'm not talking about the instructions!)  Sometimes there is just more to it than . . . knits and purls.

Sometimes, you have to realize that the project just ain't right!

Sometimes, you have to walk away.

Even if you've made a commitment to the project.  And even if you've already spent much of your precious time working on it.

Because . . . life . . . is too short . . . to knit bad projects.

Or to get yourself stuck in a bad situation, for that matter.

Because Knitting . . . is a lot like Life. 

The trick is to know when to rip.






Slacker on a Tuesday . . . OR . . . Half of Ten on Tuesday


Today, Carole has us talking about our Ten Favorite Book Series.

But.  Oops!

Although I read quite a lot, I don't really follow many book series.  So I'll have to take the slacker approach. . .


There are two book series that I particularly enjoy, and you'll always find me eager to dive in to the newest installment:

1 --- Louise Penny's Armand Gamache/Three Pines novels - These delightful mysteries are set in Quebec and follow the lives of a particularly artistic cast of characters.  While the characters and setting are fairly consistent from book to book, nothing is predictable -- and characters grow and change and reveal ever-new layers to their personalities with each new book.  I first discovered this wonderful series when I was going through chemo (I think there were only 4 or 5 books at that point) -- and I just devoured them! (There are now 10 books in the series.)

2 --- Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels - This series is a bit more on the edgy side, and definitely among the best pychological thrillers I've ever read.  Although there is a cast of recurring characters, the books can really be read as stand-alone novels.  While the cases/mysteries are interesting, for me, it's really about the characters -- and watching them "unfold" during the investigations.  Really excellent reads!  (The fifth book of this series was just published this fall.)

 Other series I have read and enjoyed over the years:

3 --- Martha Grimes - Richard Jury Series

4 --- Steig Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Triology (it appears that, perhaps, there will be more books coming in the series. . . although it's usually a bit disappointing when another author takes over a series.)

5 --- Anne Perry - William Monk Series - I just finished reading the first book in this series over the weekend, and found it good enough to try another.  (Also - the author is a convicted murderer herself, so that is a rather intriquing reason to check out her books!)

So.  Only five*. . .


How about YOU?  What are your favorite book series?


* (I've also read the Harry Potter books, and far too many Stephanie Plum and letter-of-the-alphabet "formula" novels.  I've never gotten into the whole Hunger Games or Outlander things, though.)

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


Postcards from Italy: Welcome to Venice

Dear friends, 

From Florence, my sister and I hopped another train to Venice, the final destination on our tour of Italy.  (Managing like pros by this point in our travel, I must add.)

Now, we knew that Venice is a city totally ON the water - and even IN the water -- but it was still quite amazing to be surrounded by water - on the train - as we made our approach into the city.

(Like. . . it was completely amazing.)

We stepped off the train and met our guide . . . who shepherded us to a private water "taxi" (which is really a boat). . . and . . . well . . .

this was our first view of Venice!


The streets are canals.  There are no cars.  Just boats.  And water taxis.  And water busses.

(Because this aerial view shows you just how . . . off the grid . . . you really ARE in Venice!)


So sit back and relax . . . while we motor our way to our hotel!


Venice . . . is actually made up of 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon.


All of the "streets" are water . . . 


and all of the building are just . . . right there . . . on the water!


There are lovely bridges everywhere . . . to help you navigate your way through the city.


(There are even traffic lights to manage the flow of boats in the canals!)


We were lucky . . . because our hotel had a convenient boat launch!  (Not all of them do -- and we saw many a porter hauling bags through narrow streets and up and down very old and rather treacherous steps.)  

Our water taxi driver parked at the blue striped posts of the Hotel Colombina, and we hopped right out!


Welcome to Venice!

More later --





Sundays . . . Are for Poetry



The sky began to tilt,
a shift of light toward the higher clouds,
so I seized my brush
and dipped my little cup in the stream,

but once I streaked the paper gray
with a hint of green,
water began to slide down the page,
rivulets looking for a river.

And again, I was too late --
then the sky made another turn,
this time as if to face a mirror
held in the outstretched arm of a god.

--Billy Collins, Aimless Love

Somewhat Nuts

If someone were to ask me . . . 

On a scale of 1 to 10 ... just how nuts are you? 

I'd probably have to give myself a 7.  I'd call that . . . Somewhat Nuts.

Which is why I've committed to blogging every day in November.  (Along with several other partners in crime.)  It's kind of an overwhelming challenge -- coming up with something to say every day.  So we came up with a few "theme" ideas to get us through the overwhelming parts.

Margene is going to look up on Saturdays.

Carole is going to "show and tell" by sharing stories about things in her home on Saturdays.

Patty is going to talk about her dog, Boone, on Saturdays.

(I'm not sure, exactly, what Vicki will be doing on Saturdays quite yet.)

As for me?  I'm leaving it wide open.  

It's a beautiful (but cold) day here.  When I look up, this is what I see. . .


And I'll "show and tell" you about this . . . 


It's one of my pottery roses that I "collect" each year from a Michigan artist.  I have 4 of them, scattered around my bookshelves.  They are beautiful and make me smile -- and especially during the Bleak Months when there are no real blooms to be found in my garden.

And, of course, I can always highlight these two!


They love to play together -- especially when they can work at destroying one of their new "indestructible" toys.  (Ha!)  (In human language, they have "ripped" and "shredded" and "made a mess."  In dog language, they have "killed" and "disemboweled" and "brought glory to the pack.")

So.  Somewhat nuts.  Sure.

But always open to a challenge!