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February 2016

January 2016

Friday Mailbag

It's time, once again, to reach into the Friday mailbag!


Dear Winter:

I figured you'd show up.  Eventually.  You were just hiding from us, in that sometimes-coy way of yours.  I'm okay with you being here.  Really.  Just make sure you leave town before March.  Okay?


Dear Woman at D&W:

You looked so cold on Monday, there in the deli section, with your too-light North Face waterproof shell pulled over your hoodie.  And those Hunter waterproof boots.  I think you were visibly shivering.  (It was only 12ºF, after all.)  But when you approached me and asked, "Are those lined leggings?" my heart warmed.  "Yes," I answered.  And then, with a hopeful whimper, you asked, "Did you buy them locally?  I just moved here from San Diego.  And I'm cold."  And my heart melted altogether.  I explained where I had bought my super-warm, lined leggings.  And then, when you reached out to touch my full length down coat, I told you where I got that, too.  I forgot to mention the boots, though.  You really need some lined winter boots . . . (Welcome to Michigan, by the way.)


Dear Alabama Chanin:

I hope you'll understand, but I need to stop seeing you.  It was bad enough when I visited your website and you dangled that Build-a-Wardrobe plan in front of me.  But now, you're even sending me email promotions.  And utilizing social media.  All with a single-minded purpose:  To tease me with your oh-so-tantalizing Build-a-Wardrobe program.  Oh, you don't care that I want you so badly, do you?  So. Badly.  In fact, I'm sure that's your strategy.  But I will be strong.  I will look away.  I will give us some space.  Because you are out of my league.


Dear January People:

I try hard to like you.  Really I do.  I try to hard to embrace you and your New Year's resolutions.  But it's so hard.  Because there are so many of you.  And because you seem to be in the way of all the things I do for twelve months of the year.  I will not be lying when I say . . . good riddance . . . to those of you with not quite enough resolve to last longer than February.


Happy weekend!

It's Showtime!

It's no secret that Tom and I like to go to the movies -- and especially at Oscar time.  We usually try to see all the movies nominated for Best Picture, and for most of the other "big" nomination categories, too.  In fact, it's kind of our Annual Movie Mission.

Since today is the day the Oscar nominations are announced, I thought you might like to hear how our particular "mission" got its start.

Let's go back . . . WAY back . . . to 1979. . . 

K and T circa 1979

Two college kids.


Always looking for something to do.

(And, as Tom reminded me last night, there's only so much drinking and dancing you can do in one week.)

We went to the movies.

Like . . . ALL the movies.

Every. Single. One.

And when it was time for the Academy Awards in the spring of 1980 (because they weren't called "The Oscars" back then), I watched -- and discovered with delight -- that I had seen every nominated movie!

The Best Picture nominees that year (just for some perspective)?






 (The big winner that year?  Kramer vs. Kramer.)

(It was also the year that featured Manhattan, Being There, The Rose, The China Syndrome, The Black Stallion, . . . and Justice for All, and The Muppet Movie.)

We discovered . . . it was so much more fun to watch the Academy Awards when you'd seen the movies, and cared about who won.

It stuck.

Although there were plenty of years (when the kids were little, for example) that we didn't see ANY of the nominated movies, we do enjoy the challenge . . . of seeing ALL the movies.

It's showtime, folks!




I Can't Help Myself

Soundtrack . . . 


So, my knitting has languished . . . since about October.

I'm knitting a sweater, and I know I'm going to love it when it's finished.  But right now . . . it's turned into a slog.  

It's kind of like . . . eating your vegetables.

You know it's good for you.

But sometimes . . . you just want a treat!


Gale Zucker's Trip Mitts turned out to be just the sweet-treat I needed.

Sugar pie, honey bunch.

I can't help myself.  (Because you can't eat just one. . . )


(Ravelry details here.)

Jiving Us That We Were VooDoo

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.  I felt very puny as a human.  I thought, fuck that - I want to be superhuman."                                                                                                                         ----- David Bowie


Like many of you, I was shocked and sad yesterday . . . when I turned on my computer and learned that David Bowie had died.  He was such a vibrant part of the music and culture of my growing-up years, and I feel so very grateful to have "come of age" in the time of David Bowie.  (While my parents didn't "get" the Beatles . . . they REALLY didn't "get" David Bowie!

This week, Carole has us talking about our Ten Favorite David Bowie Songs.  I imagine the lists will be quite similar -- with a few surprises here and there.  


Mine . . . 

1 - Space Oddity - Ground control to Major Tom!  When your husband's name is Tom . . . and he's a bit of a head-in-the-clouds scientist . . . Well.  You just gotta love this one.

2 - Changes - This song was my introduction to David Bowie -- back in 7th grade.  I loved it then; I love it now.

3 - Ziggy Stardust - In 8th grade I knew all the words to this one -- which I sang at the top of my lungs with my swim team pals.  (And you know which lyrics we sang the loudest, don't you?)

4 - Suffragette City - Another big favorite among my swim team pals!  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

5 - Young Americans - David Bowie's Young Americans album defined my junior year in high school.  I can remember driving "the strip" on Friday nights with my friends, singing this song.  Loudly.  And with David Bowie-worthy theatrics.

6 - Fame - Oh, yes.  (See Young Americans, above.)

7 - Golden Years - This song came out slightly later in my junior year of high school.  I remember we loved the distinctive beat.  (David Bowie was very intertwined with my high school years.)


8 - Under Pressure -  Okay.  So, technically, this is a Queen song (and, truth be told, I've always thought of it as a Queen song), but I'm including it anyway.  I always loved this one - and it has the double-bonus of reminding me of Brian's high school hockey games -- because it was a staple of the hockey arena soundtrack during tense moments.

9 - Modern Love - Okay.  So I kind of loved the 80s.  This one reminds me of Tom's grad school years and early M-TV.

10 - Let's Dance - Put on your red shoes and dance the blues!  Oh, yeah baby.  


Now Ziggy played guitar. . . 

How about YOU?  What are your favorite David Bowie songs?


Join the fun.  Read what other bloggers have to say here.




Christmases Long, Long Ago

Over the past ten years or so, my parents have been slowly down-sizing their Christmas decorating.  They've found a full-size tree is just too much in their condo, and have replaced it with a tabletop tree.  While they still deck the halls, it's just become more . . . manageable.  

With many boxes of unused and not-seen-in-years holiday decor lurking in their basement, my Mom and Dad decided to KonMari their Christmas decorations -- and I volunteered to assist.

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On Saturday, we carefully went through each box of decorations and ornaments, dividing everything into the usual categories: Keep, Pitch, Goodwill.  But this time, we also knew that some of the ornaments would be going to my sister and I -- and to our kids.  (Those garland beads my Mom is dealing with?  Goodwill.)

My Mom and Dad and I had such a great time . . . revisiting Christmases long, long ago as we worked through the boxes.  It's hard to part with old holiday decorations and ornaments when they hold so many happy memories -- even when they haven't been unpacked or used for many years.  I think it helped my Mom and Dad to know that their most meaningful decorations were going to be welcomed by me and my sister and our children.

Take this angel tree-topper, for example.

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My Mom and Dad bought this little angel to top their very first Christmas tree (back in 1956).  My Mom remembers that it was very cheap -- and was meant to just get them through until they could afford something nicer.  Instead, it topped every full-size tree they ever had -- including all of my childhood Christmas trees - becoming more precious over time.  (She's now safely packed away with my Christmas decorations, ready to make an appearance somewhere in my house next December.)

Or these rather ratty-looking ornaments.

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The bell . . . was one of a set of (I think) eight.  They were plastic and "touchable" -- and my Mom and Dad got them when their toddler (that would be me) noticed (ahem) the ornaments on the tree.  As an older child, I remember that we always hung the bells near the bottom of the tree -- for tradition's sake.  My sister and I loved to sit under the tree, and spin those bells . . . dreaming of Santa Claus and the wonders of Christmas morning.  Now, only two of the original bells remain -- one for me, and one for my sister.

The foil ball . . . was one of a set of four - red, green, silver, and blue.  I actually remember when my Mom bought them from Junior Achievement students selling them door-to-door.  I was in early elementary school, and I thought they looked like satellites!  So cool.  Again, just two remain.  One for me (red), and one for my sister (silver).

And, speaking of satellites . . . 

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My Mom and I made these "satellite" ornaments from kits when I was in about 4th or 5th grade.  Based on the precision of these bead-and-sequin beauties, I'm betting my Mom had me load up the pins, and she handled the placement.  (She was a very patient Mother.)

And more sequins . . . 

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We had several ornaments of this type on the Christmas trees of my childhood.  My Mom made several beautiful - and personalized - ornaments of styrofoam with rick-rack, sequins and special beads.  She let me help (I was probably in 2nd-3rd grade).  This is one of my creations.  Mine were much more . . . random . . . than my Mom's.  Here's were perfectly precise.  My sister was just young enough to not really be interested - or able - to join us in creating these ornaments.  She would've been in kindergarten at the time.  But she has fond memories of these special ornaments on our trees.

Speaking of sequins . . . this ornament is part of my family's Christmas Lore. . .

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MC.  (For Merry Christmas, of course.)  Yep.  I created this one.  I hung it proudly on the tree -- right in front! -- the year I made it.  But.  After that, it was always shoved to the back.  But only after a lot of laughing and good natured hilarity.  MC.  I'm so glad it survived!  

We painted ornaments, too.

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Sometimes (well . . . most times), my sister and I started strong.  But lost our focus toward the end!

My parents and I had a great time, sorting through the ornament boxes and sharing our memories of those long-ago Christmases.  And my own Christmas tree?  Well, it will be bursting with some "new" ornaments next year!



Does this happen to you?  Because it happens to me every year, beginning just before Thanksgiving.

Meet a friend for lunch?

Let's get together after the holidays.

Negotiable deadline for work?

Let's set it for after the holidays.

Pick up my knitting/sewing/drawing for fun?

No time now; it'll have to wait for after the holidays.

Committee meeting?

Let's skip December and meet right after the holidays.

Committment for a friend?

After the holidays.

Follow-up doctor appointment?

After the holidays.

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Basically, then, to get through the tradition and fun and celebration that is The Holidays, I push All The Normal Things into my After the Holidays closet.

And now . . . now that it IS after the holidays . . . it's time to pay the piper!

I opened the closet door.  Everything has tumbled out.

I call it Holiday Backlash . . .

and I am So There.

(Happy weekend.  I'll be dealing with the mess all around me.)



2015: About the Knitting

In my continuing effort to wrap up 2015, let's talk about the knitting today.  

Here's a little screen shot of 2015's knitting, thanks to Ravelry.  Ten projects.  Seven shawls, two sweaters (one good, one bad), and a pair of mitts.  I'm pleased with all of these projects (well. . . except for that linen sweater).  

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The knitting has definitely slowed here - but that's okay.  While I may not be turning out as many projects as I have in years past, I still knit a few rows most every day.  My "production" has slowed for two main reasons:  (1) I'm knitting more challenging projects (lace shawls) -- and that just takes longer, and (2) I'm filling my time with other creative pursuits.  I made an Alabama Chanin t-shirt during 2015, and I started taking art classes.  And then, of course, I have the garden in the summer.  So the knitting is an ever-present pastime in my life, but not my only creative outlet.

There were some "fails," of course (because there always are).  There was this fine start - but not enough yarn.  And I signed up for the March Through Time Cowl, but never got "marching" (on the cowl, that is).  I also cast on for a pair of socks, but found the yarn too pool-y, which made me grumpy.  (So no socks this year.)

Other knitting highlights for 2015:

  • Rhinebeck.  That's been on my knit-bucket-list for . . . ever.  
  • KonMari-ing my stash.  Although I've never blogged it (not sure why, exactly), but I sliced-and-diced my stash last summer in a pretty drastic way.  And then I organized my "keepers" on Ravelry.  (No worries.  I still have plenty of yarn.)
  • By-passing the Christmas-knitting Crazy Train.  (And that was wonderful.)

I'm looking forward to a creative 2016 -- starting with a new "Knit Night" (for me; I'm joining a group already in progress) tonight, and a little project that's nearly ready for cast off.  (Stay tuned!)




2015: About the Reading

I think I covered my reading habit pretty well on the blog this year (all that Bingo-reading during the summer months), but I've decided to provide a final tally here anyway.


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According to Goodreads, I read 73 books in 2015 -- and 24,615 pages.  (I don't shy away from long books.  I also read Nicholas Nickleby, coming at something just over 600 pages, and several others in the 500-600 page range.)

I think I read more 5-star books this year than in any other, although I'm not going to go back and compare.  I was certainly happy with most of the books I read this year.  (I consider any books with 3 stars and up "worth reading.")  I was only really disappointed in a couple of selections (2 stars), and there was one real clunker that I couldn't even finish (1 star . . . just because I read half of it).

In the end, here are my top five reads during 2015 (I'm telling you . . . it was hard to narrow it down to just five):

How to Be Both (Ali Smith)

Kartography (Kamila Shamsie)

A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman)

Mink River (Brian Doyle)

Being Mortal (Atul Gawande)

I'm looking forward to more reading in 2016.  I've signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge (goal = 60 books this year), and I'll plan to play along at Book Bingo this summer if Mary "hosts" again (no pressure, Mary!).  You can always check what I'm reading on my sidebar here on the blog, or you can find me on Goodreads.

Happy reading! 

More or Less

Speaking of intentions . . . 

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This week, Carole asks us what we'd like to do more of -- and less of -- in 2016.

I want:

  1. MORE mistakes. . .
  2. and LESS holding back.

  3. MORE smiling . . . 
  4. and LESS grumping.

  5. MORE making . . .
  6. and LESS buying.

  7. MORE risking . . . 
  8. and LESS waiting.

  9. MORE color . . . 
  10. and LESS erasing.

How about YOU?   What would you like to do - more or less - in the new year?


Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.
  --- Alfred Lord Tennyson


I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take some time at the end of each year to kind of . . . take stock . . . and think about the year to come.  I usually set some goals for myself (which are not really the same thing as resolutions at all), and I always come up with a list of two-word intentions for the new year.

Here's my list for 2016:

Dive in.

Look again.

Be present.

Onward, upward.

Bold strokes.

Cultivate courage.

Nourish friendship.

Stitch together.

Keep swimming.

Live in color.

Here's to 2016!  I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting year.