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May 2015

Bloomin' Friday

Things are really beginning to POP in my garden.  


Here's what's blooming today. . . 

The clematis is exploding everywhere!


(I know someone is going to ask me which clematis this is. . . and, well, I just don't know.  I mean, I have it listed somewhere in one of my garden journals.  But I can't find it quickly.  Besides, I have 8 different types of clematis in my garden -- 4 on that pergola alone.  Please forgive me for not being able to remember which type is which.)

I'm thrilled that my Satomi dogwood is blooming.  


(It's a new tree last season.  It was expensive.  It's a bit fussy.  And the winter was hard.)

My happy little heucheras are dancing in the breeze.


(These are an early-blooming variety called Paris.)  (It's easy for me to remember that one!)

My herb garden is kind of overrun with chives! 


(I don't need that many chives, but I'll wait until after the flower show before I cut them back and dig some out.)

The false indigo is particularly lovely this year!


(It's taken me a long time to find the "just right spot" for this guy.  Tom has moved him for me many, many times.  I think I've finally got it right, now.)

Enjoy your weekend!  I'm heading up north for a few days, so you may not hear from me until the middle of next week.  (But then again . . . you never know.)


Right Now - May 2015

Oh, May.  So much gets packed into your glorious days.  It always seems there isn't quite . . . enough of you.


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

Watching . . . Not much of what's on a screen (no tv or movies lately), but I'm watching a lot of garden-unfolding, weed-growing, and lovely sunsets, though!

Reading . . . Because I've been out in the garden so much lately (see weed-growing, above), my reading has slowed considerably.  I did manage to finish a wonderful collection of essays by Malcolm Gladwell (What the Dog Saw), and I'm mid-way through Kate Atkinson's newestA God in Ruins (and - if you loved Life After Life, you'll love this follow-up novel . . . although the format is completely different this time around, and the focus is all on Ursula's beloved little brother, Teddy).

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I've also printed out my BOTNS Bingo card, and I'm busy plotting out my summer reading.  (If you want to join along, you can read more about it here (or here or here) -- and be sure to check out Mary's challenge, while you're at it!

Knitting . . .  I'm working diligently on my Beeline pullover -- just the sleeves left now!  (Very nice pattern/design, I must say.  I think it will be very sweatshirt-ish, which is just what I'm hoping for.)  I'm also looking forward to yet another mystery shawl.  (Apparently, once you try one, you're hooked.) This time, Kirsten Kapur's Through the Loops Mystery Shawl . . . which begins June 1 and includes 6 clues.  (It's not to late to join in.)  (Just sayin.)

Listening to . . . Everything on my iPod.  On shuffle.  It's interesting.  (Mostly I'm just too busy to settle on any one thing right now.  So, when it comes to music, I just say, "Surprise me!")

Dreading . . . A particularly nasty and totally overgrown garden bed.  One that I've been ignoring for a couple of years now.  The longer I let it go, the worse it becomes.  (Although I guess it will be particularly satisfying when I finally do bring it to order.)

Drinking . . . Ginger Peach tea.  It's great, hot or cold.

Planning . . . KonMari-ing my sewing room and yarn.  (Yeah.  I haven't really moved on that one this month.)  May has been . . . very full.  I will get to it.  I just need to meet some grant deadlines first. (And tackle that garden bed.) (And keep up on the weeds.) (And plant my containers.) (And finish my Alabama Chanin project.) (And those sleeves.) (And get Up North with Tom for a few days.) (And help my Mom with her garden.) (And . . . yeah.  This is what happens.)

Humming . . . Sorry about this one.  (I blame the gym.)


(Gotta say, though . . . the dancer in me loves this music video.)

Wondering . . . How it can cost so much to replace my windows??! (Like . . . one full year of tuition at a small, private, liberal arts college.)

Itching to . . . Cast on for this cardigan that Vicki found!  (I even have some yarn.) 

Organizing . . . for the season Up North at the cottage.  This means getting everything set up and functional again -- and replacing things that need replacing.  (This year, KonMari has come to the cottage.  Let's just say . . . there are many things up there that DO NOT bring joy.)

Delighted by . . . Although it has really been a financial drag to have to replace All the Appliances All at Once . . . I'm loving that my kitchen appliances all match now!!!  (And, face it, that they all WORK.)

Needing to . . . Replace the cabinet hardware in my kitchen (so it matches the new appliances).  (Of course.)

Celebrating . . . A return to normal fitness activities -- a full three months after my original injury.  (All sing praises to the power of rest and physical therapy.)

Enjoying . . . Long days and pleasant weather!

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




A Visit to a Must-See Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden isn't all that far from my house.

Probably . . . about a 3 hour drive.

But it's a rather nasty 3 hour drive.  (All the way through Chicago. . . past O'Hare airport . . . and into the northern suburbs.)


So, when I found a charter bus day trip, I thought it would be the perfect way to visit the Gardens.  I could let someone else do the driving, and I could still enjoy a day exploring one of my Must-See gardens.  I talked my Mom into coming with me (although, really, it didn't take much talking-into at all).

The weather (as I've mentioned) was pretty crappy.  Cold.  Cloudy.  Breezy.  But . . . at least it didn't rain until we were on the way home.


Although it might have been nicer to see the Gardens on a good-weather day, we did enjoy an almost private experience.  Really . . . everyone else stayed home . . . or sat on the bus.  (Because inappropriate clothing.)


By Mom and I were dressed for the weather in layers and heavy coats and hand knits.

We had a great time!

We had a surprisingly delightful tour of the vegetable gardens.  (We didn't expect to be WOWed, but we were.)




We were delighted by the English Walled Garden (and it was surprisingly warm . . . being walled and all).


(In case you're curious, these Dr. Seuss looking plants are Echium 'Pink Fountain' or Tower of Jewels.  More information here.) (Those are lupines in front.) 



(And, yeah.  That's a poppy field there in the back . . . )


We visited the bonsai exhibit . . . 


 and were charmed by the Railroad Garden.



But, without a doubt, my favorite thing of the entire day . . . was the Japanese Garden.







(Here's my Mom . . . losing her evil spirits on the ZigZag Bridge!)


Despite the crappy weather, we had a fabulous day.  (The Chicago Botanic Garden is open 365 days a year -- always beautiful; always different.  Just be sure to dress appropriately!)


So glad I got a chance to see one of my Must-See gardens!



Gittin' r 'Dun


There's nothing like a 3-day weekend for . . . gittin' stuff dun!  Here's what I did this weekend:


1 - Planted my herb garden!  (I think it's safe from frost. ) (Finally.)  (But I still didn't put in the basil.)


2 - Cleaned up some of the messiest of my garden beds.  (The worst one is yet to come, though.)


3 - Lent Tom moral support while he cleaned out my ponds and got them running again.  (A really messy job.)  And then cheered HURRAH when Tom got my rain barrel set up again.  (And just in time, too!)


4 - Pointed and directed as Tom wielded his shovel to move hostas and ferns and daylilies.  (It takes a village.)


5 - Dealt with this kind of help.  (You should see the hole. . .)


6 - Finally put away the Christmas china.  (Yeah.  I know.) (I also installed my external hard drive and backed up my lap top.) (In case you were wondering.)


7 - Got to this point in knitting a sweater.  (This one.)  (Trying to decide if it's time for ribbing.)  (It's not.) (It's also not this color.)


8 - A bit of work.  (Nearing a deadline.)  (I'm totally in charge of my own schedule.)  (But still.  Deadlines.)


9 - Ran a bit.  (Without pain.)  (First time.)  (Woo-hoo!)


10 - Some reading.  (But not enough.)  (And I've finally found a really great book, too.)

How about YOU?  What did you do this past weekend?


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

Friday Mailbag

On Wednesday this week, my Mom and I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden as part of a day-long bus trip out of Kalamazoo.  It was an awesome experience -- even though it was very cold.  (Like . . . near freezing.  Garden staff were covering the freshly planted annuals with plastic at the end of the day.)  I'll share more about the gardens next week, after I have a chance to sort through my photos.

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In the meantime . . . I have a few letters to catch up on.

Dear Fellow Bus Trippers:

Yes.  It was very cold.  Yes.  The Chicago Botanic Gardens are OUTSIDE.  (Gardens?  Get it?)  Yes.  You will be uncomfortable if you wear flip-flops, capri pants, and a jeans jacket on a day that is predicted to be 40ºF.  With maybe rain.  And a good breeze. But, y'know . . . You made a reservation for the trip.  You paid $130.  I assume . . . you are interested in gardens.  And the weather forecast, disappointing as it was, was NO surprise.  I'm glad you were able to find comfort and warmth.  On the bus.  For 5 hours.  While I enjoyed the Chicago Botanic Gardens with my Mom . . . pretty much all to ourselves.  We had a great time.  I'm sorry that you . . . did not.


Dear Lisa-the-Awesome-Vegetable-Gardening-Honcho:

Your vegetable gardens are awesome.  Your walking tour of the fruit and vegetable gardens of the Chicago Botanic Gardens was awesome.  (I wish I could come on Saturdays to your garden cooking demonstrations.)  (So much.)  (Because I'm certain they would be awesome.)  Your passion for growing food was just . . . well . . . awesome!

P.S.  I'm really sorry so many of our group were sour and stinky about how cold they were.  (They were the ones in flip-flops and light spring jackets.)


Dear (Cold) Guy We Met on the Trail of the Waterfall Garden:

It DID feel like we were in another world altogether, didn't it?  I agree with you -- so beautiful, and SO worth stepping out in the cold!


Dear Trouble-Maker on My Bus:

I know just who you were in high school.  You were the Mean Girl.  The Leader of the Pack.  The Queen Bitch.  You may be very used to getting what you want.  And you may think that you can coerce all the rest of the Bus Trippers into demanding an early and immediate departure because it is just too cold to visit an outside garden.  (Especially in your stylin' flip-flops and capris.)  (And your little cheetah-print cardi.)  (And your half-hearted attempt at a scarf.)  Anyway.  I came for the day, thankyouverymuch.  I have been looking forward to seeing these gardens for a very long time.  And I paid attention to the weather forecast and wore layers, hand-knits, AND my down jacket.  (Much as I'd have liked to leave it packed away for the season.)  I will not be denied my time in the Japanese Gardens.  I will see the Model Railroad Garden.  I will take my time in the English Walled Garden.  I will enjoy the gift shop, and maybe even a leisurely cup of tea in the cafe.  You can take your flip-flops and sit on the bus.  You aren't the boss of me.  So there.

PS - That scarf . . . wrapped around your head like that . . . looks really stupid.  Just sayin.


Happy Friday!!!


Hold On To That Feeling

Soundtrack. . .


Knitting a "mystery" project* . . . is kind of like setting of on an adventurous JOURNEY.

You know very little about your final destination.

You don't know what path you'll follow.

You have no idea if you packed the right gear.

You don't know what twists and turns you might encounter.

Or . . . how often you might need to double back and begin again.



If you trust.

If you have a bit of faith.

And if you hold on to that feeling.


You might just end up in the right place!


Don't Stop Believing!

(Ravelry details here.)


*  A "mystery" knit is just that . . . a mystery!  When you sign on to knit it, you have no idea what the final product will look like (although you do know if it will be a shawl or a pair of socks!).  You have no clue what colors might look best with the design.  You have no idea what you've just gotten yourself into!  You simply follow the "clues" (usually released once a week) . . . and trust that it will all work out in the end.


Season Opening . . . FIRSTs

We had a very nice, extended weekend up at our lake cottage.


It was a bit rainy . . . and gloom-ish . . . up north.


I'm always surprised how far behind "spring" is . . . once you drive a few hours straight north.


But it'll catch up soon!


We did a lot of work this weekend.  Raking and patching and cleaning and organizing.  I even did some KonMari-ing.  (Actually, it was pretty extensive KonMari-ing.)

Tom got the docks in pretty much single-handedly.  (Well.  I did hand him a hammer once.)


Mostly, though, it was just a great weekend of season opening "firsts."

First campfire.


First beer around the campfire.


First jump off the dock.


First swim.


First climb up those steep 112 steps from lake to cottage.


First mayfly.


First . . . of many summer weekends . . .

up north!



A Bit of Pomp and a Whole Lot of Circumstance


When it comes to graduations, I've been through a few.  You could say . . . I have a lot of commencement-experience.

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This picture-of-some-pictures (because scanner not feeling cooperative today) . . . shows a couple of early graduations:  Tom's college graduation, undergraduate from Boise State University . . . and mine, undergraduate #2, from University of Texas at Austin.  (Hook 'em!

I don't remember much about either of those ceremonies.  Except that they were long.  (Really long.)

I don't remember any of the speeches we heard that day, either.  (I do, however, remember that at Erin's graduation - four years ago - there was talk about some sort of acorn, or maybe it was a walnut, taking root and growing into a tree.  And I also remember that at Brian's graduation - last year - the speech started strong, but went on and on and on for far too long.  There was one "theme word" that the speaker used over and over and over.  I can't remember it anymore -- I have purged it from my mind.)

This week, Carole asks us what you would say if giving a commencement address.  Me?  Well, first, I'd keep it super brief.  Then, I'd say . . . 

  1. Congratulations on this most wonderful of accomplishments.
  2. As you move out into the world, you can apply the lessons you learned in college nearly everywhere you go:  read the syllabus, pay attention to deadlines, figure out how to prioritize, and show up.
  3. (Drinking games and college songs will also serve you well in the non-academic world.)
  4. "Graduation" is not the end of anything; it is the "commencement" of the next phase of your life.  The next phases won't be as neatly mapped out as your course requirements for graduation were, though, so you'll just have to wing it.
  5. Speaking of wings . . . be sure to spread them!
  6. Try new things.
  7. Make mistakes.
  8. Learn from those mistakes.
  9. Live big!
  10. And don't forget to thank the people who got you this far.

How about YOU?  What would you say if you were giving a commencement address?


As I was looking through old photos of graduations yesterday, I spied this little box that I keep up in my bedroom.  (That's my high school graduation tassle there on top.  I keep it in the little box, along with other little mementoes of earlier times.)

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When I graduated from high school, the local furniture store (Grier Furniture in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming) gave each girl graduate a mini cedar chest just like mine.  I think that used to be a Thing.  Anyone else get one of these from their local furniture store?


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

A Whole New Season

Later today, I'm heading . . . 


for the weekend.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Heading up to the cottage to begin a whole new season on the lake?

Don't get too carried away with that romantic notion of a relaxing weekend at the lake, though!  The first weekend up there each year is filled with . . . 


raking the leaves

more cleaning


a bit more cleaning


and assessing

(And, please.  Let nothing be broken or in need of immediate repair.)  

(And that's all I have to say about that.)

Still.  I packed my reading and my knitting and my Alabama Chanin project.  Because there will be downtime.

Happy weekend.  

(See you on Tuesday!)


Things Fall Apart . . . A Riff


I remember, back in March, I would have been delighted with a day where the temperature reached 55ºF.  

Thrilled, in fact.  

(Now, in May, I feel chilled to the bone.)  

(Because in May, a high of 55ºF is just Not Good Enough.)

We've had a lot of rain here in Kalamazoo over the past couple of days.  I heard 2.5 inches.  Which is quite a lot.

(I should be excited about that.  And I suppose I am.  It's very good for my garden.  It certainly makes pulling weeds a whole lot easier.)  

(And rainbows.)

(But cold AND wet are never a winning combination for me.)

Sets the tone, though.  Because I've got a lot of . . . well, cold-and-wet crap . . . to deal with these days.

(Appropriate weather, I guess.)

Nothing too awfully terrible.  Just . . . crap.

Like, Things Fall Apart crap.

Things around the house.

(Dishwasher.  Microwave.  Leaking shower.  Broken sink.  Mysteriously severed irrigation line. An on-their-last-legs 27 year old washer and dryer pair.)

(Plus we need new windows.)

(Oh.  And some birds made a nest IN MY WALL.)  

(I can hear them chirping right now.)

And the people I love are falling apart a little right now.

(My dad had a bug.  Now my mom has the bug.  Brian had surgery last week.  Erin had a "procedure" yesterday.)

And me.

(Ankle WAY better.  But I still can't run at all.)

(And I found out today at my 6-month dental check-up that I need YET ANOTHER crown.)

What I'm really, MOST annoyed about, though, are corporate activists.

(They do an awfully lot of damage.  They MAKE working things fall apart.)

(In the name of short-term profits.)

(For themselves, of course.)

(Greedy bastards.)  

(Did I say that OUT LOUD?)

(Does NO ONE think about the long term anymore????)

I wish Tom were just a teensy-tiny bit closer to retirement.

(Just sayin.)

I wish it would stop raining.  

(So I could begin putting things back together again.)