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February 2016



"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself.  There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth.  So, what the hell, LEAP!"
                                                                                            --- Cynthia Heimel

Today is Leap Day -- that one-day-more-we-add-to-it-each-year-in-four.  You have 24 extra hours.  I challenge you:  Take a risk.  Leap.  Just do it.  (What are you waiting for?)

Right Now - February 2016

I hope this is the Last Blast from you, February . . . 

Morning Snow

Because, really.  I want to get back to those crocus!  Here's what's happening for me . . . right now:

Watching:  Well, today it's been snow plows.  (Hopefully, this is the last I'll see them this season.)  Looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday night.  (Although I'd really love to see Spotlight or The Big Short win Best Picture, I'm thinking it'll probably be The Revenant.)

Reading:  Lots of books about bees and pollinator gardens.  (More on that another day.)  My reading has slowed of late (a bit of a slump), but I'm plugging along with A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin.

Knitting:  Hey!  I'm nearing the end on my Henley!  At least . . . I can see my way to the finish now.  (I am so tired of linking that pattern to my right now post every month.  I just HAVE to finish it in March!)  I also just selected pattern and yarn for my youngest great-niece's "baby" sweater.  (She's almost 2.  So I better get crackin' before I end up having to knit an adult-size sweater for her. . . )


Listening to:  Alabama Shakes, Death Cab for Cutie, and a little Bruce Hornsby to round things out.

Dreading:  Taxes.  (Doing them.  Paying them.  All of it.)

Itching to:  Start stitching my new Alabama Chanin skirt . . . along with my virtual sewing "guild."

Blended to Perfection

Drinking:  All the Tea.  (I'm not allowing myself to purchase New Tea until I drink all the Old Tea I already own.)  (I'm a bit of a pushover for New Tea. . . )

Planning:  Well.  I was trying to plan a party.  (But the guest-of-honor isn't really buying it.)  (So maybe not so much.)

Organizing:  My jewelry box.  (Can you say . . . Out. Of. Control???)  I need to streamline and - truth be told - pack some pieces away.  (I've already Kon-Mari'd.  But, clearly. . . not quite enough.)

Art every day

Delighted by:  Pretty much sticking to my commitment to "art every day."  It's amazing how these bubble charts can work when you want to develop a new habit or encourage/discourage a specific behavior.  (Totally makes me want to color in ALL the circles.)

Needing to:  Start organizing my (damn) tax stuff.  (See above; dreading.)


Enjoying:  Month of Letters mail!  This is the first year (in the four I've participated) that I've received replies to the letters I've sent -- which makes it all the more fun!  (Except for one friend, who always, always replies.  XO)


Humming:  The Foo's End Over End.  (I've had this ear worm going all week.)  (Not really complaining.  It could be far, far worse.)

Celebrating:  My Smart Girls. Erin was accepted into Carnegie Mellon's (highly competitive) professional writing master's program, and Lauren was accepted into law school at Colorado University.  You GO, girls!

Looking Forward to:  Seeing all my bulbs emerge and bloom.  (So I can remember where I planted 'em.)  But first . . . gotta get rid of this:

Sunny Snow

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

What's Your Word?

 This winter, I've been taking a watercolor class.


I've never done watercolor before . . . and watercolor is hard.  

Most of my early attempts were water-paint-blob-bombs.

So much . . . expensive watercolor paper in the trash.

I was so frustrated -- and disheartened.

Tom encouraged me to just keep trying.  

(I can't.  It's too hard.)

(What's your word?)  

(RISK, damnit.)


I kept at it.  

Lots of practice.

Lots of paper.

(I can't show anybody, though.  I don't want to.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.


A couple of my pieces were selected to be in the Student Exhibit.

All I had to do . . . was have them framed.

(I can't.  It's freaking me out too much.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)


I can't quite explain how . . . exposed . . . this all made me feel.

Sharing my paintings?

Framing them?

Hanging them in an exhibit?

(. . . as if I were an artist????)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)



THIS . . . was not something I ever expected to do.

And there was quite a lot of courage required.

(There's a ton required to even post this.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)

(Hell, yes.)






On Hellebore Watch

This is the time of year  I love to start walking my garden, looking for signs of life - and other interesting things.

Yesterday, I found this fungus growing on the roots of my black cherry tree stump.


And I found some crocus beginning to pop through.


(Remember all those bulbs I planted last fall?  I can't quite remember where I put them all now, but I'm waiting for them to show themselves . . . wherever they are.)

And, in continuing coverage of my hellebores, the buds are really getting ready to pop.  (See them?  Way down in the middle of the plant?)

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Soon, there will be blooms again! 

(But first, there will be snow.)  (Eight inches or so on the way.)  



A Few of My Favorite (Random) Things

When I heard about this week's Ten on Tuesday topic from Carole, a certain song from a certain musical popped into my head.  I'll spare you the ear worm, though, and get right down to business with a few of my favorite things, random style.

(And in case that ear worm snuck in anyhow, lets counter it with this fun performance.)


1 - Favorite Time to Wake Up - 7:00 am.  Left to my own devices, I almost always wake up at 7:00 am.  I doesn't always work out that way, though.  (Because life.)

2 - Favorite Thing to Wear - Yoga pants.  (Oh, yeah, baby.  Every. Day.)

3 - Favorite Orchestra Instrument - Cello.  (And Smooth Criminal is my favorite Michael Jackson tune.  So . . . bonus.)

4 - Favorite Font - Calibri.  (Unless page-limited.  Then it's Arial Narrow for the win!)

5 - Favorite Fitness Activity - Swimming.  (A good, long swim pretty much "re-sets" everything - and that's another win.)

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6 - Favorite Lotion - Lavender Body Butter by Kalamazoo's own Opulent Blends.  (This stuff is great -- especially with winter dryness exacerbated by my frequent swimming.)

7 - Favorite Condiment - Mustard.  Almost every day, I make a little turkey-and-swiss sandwich for lunch.  And I always blast it with mustard.  (Yum.)

8 - Favorite NPR Program - The Moth.  (Love The Moth.)

9 - Favorite Beverage - Wine.  (A nice cab, please.)


10 - Favorite Music - Deathcab for Cutie. (For today, at least.)

How about YOU?  What are your favorite things . . . right now?


Join the fun!  See what everyone else has to say . . . here.



Rambling in the Face of It

I'm sure many of you are aware that Kalamazoo is the latest (in a way too long line-up*) of cities-in-the-news because Senseless Gun Violence.  

Today, as I write this post . . . well.  Let's just say I'm rambling, and not really sure where it's going to go.  Because This Is My Town, Damnit.  And I'm still processing.

But I'm going to start here.  With a BB.

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One day last spring, I was out walking my dogs -- and I got shot in the leg with a BB.  (That very BB.  I saved it.)  It hurt like hell.  But, mostly, I was shocked.  It could have been just kids playing around, an errant BB ricocheting off a tree.  But I couldn't quite get over the feeling of . . . being shot AT.  Like . . . on purpose.  Someone with pretty good aim . . . considered me (or maybe my dogs) a target.  I limped home that day, and called the police.  They were nice -- but it was already too late for them to do anything.  (And apparently they don't run ballistics on BB pellets.)

I was really angy about my BB incident.  I mean . . . I was just out walking.  In my neighborhood.  Where I feel safe.  And where I should never be shot at.  

Because, you see, the Social Contract is in place.  Organized society depends on - and is invested with - the right to secure mutual protection and welfare.  In other words, I can walk the streets . . . and you won't shoot me.

I'm not trying to compare the my own silly little BB incident to the carnage here in my city on Saturday night.  Not even close.  But I am saying that random shootings - like we've had FAR TOO MANY OF - are a disruption of the Social Contract.

People should be able to load their children into the van . . . 

Or shop for cars in a dealer's lot . . . 

Or go out for dinner after seeing a show . . . 

(Or go to school.  Or to a movie.  Or a Christmas party.  I'm sure you get my drift.)


Because these are NORMAL, every day activities.

Things we all do.

Every day.

And we should be able to do them . . . without thought.  Without pause.  Without fear.

Because that's the Social Contract.


(I so thank all of you who contacted me via text, email, and Facebook yesterday.  It meant so much.  XO.)


*  According to the Washington Post, the Kalamazoo shootings on Saturday night represented the 42nd "mass shooting" this year.  It's only February, folks.  That means . . . mass shootings have happened in the US in 2016 (so far) at pretty close to . . . well . . . once per day.  This. Is. Appalling.


Friday Mailbag

February is just chugging right along . . . and I've been (quietly) writing (and mailing) a-letter-a-day all through the month.


It seems appropriate that I should dip into the virtual Friday Mailbag at least once during A Month of Letters, so here goes.


B 6 mos 2

Dear Brian,

How can this be?  Really.  How?  It seems this little guy was . . . just here.  And now?  24!  
So.  Tell me.  How?

P.S.  Happy birthday!  XO


Dear my-20-year-old-body,

I must sincerely apologize.  I simply did not appreciate your being there . . . 36 years ago.  I just had no idea how supple and flexible you really were.  How you could leap out of bed in the morning without aches and pains and groans and moans.  How you could bend and stretch and lift and run and not feel it the next day.  How you could eat pizza and drink beer and follow it up with ice cream and maybe even some cake . . . and not gain an ounce.

I wish I could wake up JUST ONCE and be in your body again.  Just for the morning.  To remember what that felt like, y'know?


Dear Winter,

Mark Torgerossa, MLive Weather Correspondent, assures me that it's going to feel like Spring tomorrow.  Close to 60 degrees (F), he says.  My iPhone forecast agrees.  Warm.  Really warm.  So, Bon Voyage to you, Winter.  At least for today.


Dear Locker Room SLOBS,

Yes.  Our gym has towel service.  Yes.  It's a really nice perk.  Now.  Pick up your used towels and place them in the proper receptacles when you're finished with them.

Because your mother doesn't work in the locker room.  

(And I'm not picking your towels up for you either.)


Dear Patty,

Happy Birthday, my friend!  I'll be drinking a toast to you this evening!


Enjoy your weekend!

Poetry Speaks

Poetry speaks to me often.

But sometimes, it screams.

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The Storm (Bear)

Now through the white orchard my little dog

    romps, breaking the new snow

    with wild feet.

Running here running there, excited,

    hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins

until the white snow is written upon

    in large, exuberant letters,

a long sentence, expressing 

    the pleasures of the body in this world.


Oh, I could not have said it better


                --- Mary Oliver, Dog Songs


Risky Business

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
                                                                                            --- T. S. Eliot

My word this year (in bracelet form). . . 

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Well.  Some of my reasons for choosing this word this year . . . just won't ever appear here in the blog.  (Because not my story to tell.)  (Or just too complicated.)

Let's just say. . . 

Sometimes, I feel pretty brave; pretty willing to step out there and try something new.


There are plenty of times when I don't.  (Like . . . you should see me when it's time to host a party.)  (Not. Good.)

For the last seven years, I've been working on stepping AWAY from The Edge.  Avoiding going over.  Holding on.  Keeping it together.  Avoiding the scary parts.

But you know what?

I'm ready to actually . . . step beyond.  To let myself go over -- in ways I choose.

And that?  That is where RISK comes into the picture.


Let's GO. . . 

Bang Bang

Today, we need a soundtrack.  So, here's a song from my childhood (and also from the Kill Bill soundtrack).* 


Yep.  That's the song that's been playing in my head, constantly, since I decided to ride along with the #bangoutasweater crowd.

Bang Bang.

(I dropped a stitch.)


Bang Bang.

(It makes me itch.)


Bang Bang.

(This yarn's a bitch.)


Bang Bang.

(I think I found my niche.)


Ravelry details here.

*  That's some real 1960s go-go-girl realness, non?  (I prefer Cher's original version; but I couldn't embed the video.)  (Besides, my Dad was always a Nancy fan.  It was those boots, y'know?  Made to walk all over you.)