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March 2016

Right Now - March 2016

March came in like a lion . . . but it's (pretty much) going out like a lamb.

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I know spring -- and especially early spring (like . . . March) is fickle.  But I'm sure ready for the Real Deal to begin!

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

Watching  Well.  Nothing on television.  Because I've decided to move into a cave until the ugliness of the presidential campaign is behind us.  (I do come out to vote.)  (And watch movies.)

Reading  In my ears: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (the 4th in this excellent quartet; I'm going to miss this series after I read this one);  in print: The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (good; compelling; but . . . well.  Confusing Bible names throw me off.)

Knitting  An adorable little toddler pullover for a great-niece-in-law (Tom's brother's son's daughter).  I missed making her a baby sweater (because timing) -- so need to hurry and get this toddler sweater off the needles before she grows some more!

Listening to  Bruce Hornsby.  (We'll be seeing him in concert as part of the Gilmore Piano Festival next month.)


Dreading  Taxes.  This weekend.  They WILL be done.  (And that is all I'm gonna say about that.)

Drinking  Chocolate milk.  Red wine.  Whisky.  (But not together.)

Planning  I'm creating my "Plant Watch List" of things I want for my garden this year.  I do this each year -- and it's a great way for me to stay loyal to my garden plan.  (Because it's so tempting to just start buying every pretty bloom I see.  And especially in the spring, when I'm starved for blooms.)


Looking Forward to  Riding my new birthday bike.  Something new . . . a bit of a risk . . . but certainly - adventures ahead!

Humming  Bennie and the Jets.  (Yeah.  Still.)  (I tried to embed a video, but they're all restricted.  You'll have to sing it on your own.)  (I'm sure you already are. . . )  

Itching to  Do some sewing.  A copy of Merchant & Mills new Workbook (long ago pre-ordered) arrived in my mailbox yesterday.

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Delighted by  Tea Drops.  My sister sent me a box for my birthday.  Tasty.  Cool.  And they work just the way they say they will!

Organizing  I continue chipping away at organizing my digital photos.  It's a giant task -- and may never be truly complete.  But I'm working at it.  (It's made me just put my "real" camera aside for the time being.  Because, really.  I don't want more photos to organize right now.)

Enjoying Thunderstorms!  When they aren't violent, I just love a good thunderstorm.  

Celebrating  The end of an era and the beginning of something new.  ;-)

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


Keeping Track . . . or Not

I lost track of how old I was when I turned 25.

I'm not sure what it was, exactly.  But it happened.  (Tom can attest.  I'm always asking him, "How old are we again???)

12th birthday

(Me turning 12.  Trust me.  I knew exactly how old I was then!)

Maybe . . . it was just that I realized that no "big" birthdays (13, 16, 18, 21) were left for me to celebrate.  By 25, I had Achieved Adulthood (at least in terms of years) -- and the only thing looming on the horizon was . . . 30!

So, at 25, I started thinking about my age as "almost 30."

When anyone asked me how old I was, I answered . . . "almost 30."

For five years.

And, then, when I really DID turn 30?  No big deal!  Because, well.  I'd already been "almost 30" for five whole years! 

The same thing happened when I turned 35.  (Almost 40.)

And 45.  (Almost 50.)

Those "milestone birthdays" - when they actually rolled around - were never traumatic for me.  Because . . . already there.  (At least in my mind!)

All this is just to say . . . it's my birthday today.  And, for a while, I couldn't remember how old I am.

Until Tom reminded me.


(Almost 60.)


Get Out!

It's spring -- both on the calendar and in the air.  It's much easier to get outside . . . now that it's warming up a bit.  (At least some of the time.)


Carole asks us, this week, about Ten Things We Love to Do Outside.  For me, that's kind of like . . . opening the flood gates.  Because, well.  I pretty much love to do All the Things . . . outside.

So I decided to narrow my focus.  (Because I can't start thinking about sitting on the dock at the lake.  Or going to the beach.  Or sipping a beer on the patio after spending the afternoon working in my garden.  Not yet, at least.)

Here, then, are Ten Things I Love to Do Outside . . . right now.  In Fickle-Early-Spring.

  1. Take the dogs for longer walks -- even after dinner.  (Because it's still light.)
  2. Wander through my awakening garden.  (To see what's up.)
  3. Ride my new bike.  (An early birthday present.)
  4. Check my trees for buds.  (I check at least once a day.)
  5. Prune.  (So much easier before the leaves pop out.*)
  6. Clean up my garden beds.  (Such a satisfying job.)
  7. Take stock.  (Garden tools.  Pots.  Patio furniture.)  (It's nearly time.)
  8. Grab my camera and take some photos.  (The light is so nice.)  (Plus hellebores.)
  9. Watch the birds build their nests.  (No front door wreath this year.  But we do have some determined sparrows building in our grill.)
  10. Fire up the grill.  (Which is Trouble for those sparrows.)

How about YOU?  What do you love to do outside?


See what everyone else has to say here.


*  Pruning is great right now -- but not for everything.  Always be mindful of the pruning guidelines for your trees and shrubs.  :-)


Pretty Much Perfect

Up here in the north, Easter - and especially an early Easter - is very often accompanied by cold.  And snow.  And definitely UN-spring-like weather.  (I remember, many a year, dressing up in new Easter finery -- and then piling on winter coats and scarves and boots and hats and mittens.)  (And I remember thinking how ludicrous an OUTDOOR Easter egg hunt would be.)

But, this year?

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Beautiful weather.

Beautiful spring day.

Beautiful celebration.

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Pretty much a perfect spring day!

(Ahhhh!  Breathe in that spring air. . . )

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Hope your weekend was just as wonderful!


Still Standing

Tom and I drove to Grand Rapids last night for a concert.


Elton John!

(As you can see, our seats were not terribly close.)  (But we were lucky to have seats.  This concert sold out in 15 minutes.)

It was just fabulous!  All of my favorites!  (Let's just say . . . I'll be humming Elton John tunes for weeks to come.)

Here's a shot of the crowd during Candle in the Wind.


And then I got all into it and started waving my phone around with everyone else.  But I forgot I still had the camera on, and took this picture by mistake.


The whole night was pretty awesome!

I'm tired this morning . . . but I'm Still Standing  (yeah, yeah, yeah . . . )


Did I Build This Ship to Wreck?

Let's have a little music to set the mood today!  


Way, way back . . . in early September.  Like . . . about the time we were shutting down the cottage Up North for the season.  Back before . . . I visited Carole.  Or went to Rhinebeck with Patty.  Before NaNoBloPo.  And Thanksgiving.  And Christmas.  And the bleak, snowy days of winter.  Before Valentine's Day.  Before the crocus popped up in my garden . . . 

I started knitting this sweater.

And it went on.  And on.  And on.


Did I drink too much?

Was I losing touch?

Did I build this ship to wreck?


It was just tedious.

But, thanks to Margene's encouragment (she had knit one of her own, you see; and I had seen it with my own eyes . . . and even touched it), I continued on.  And, thanks to Kathy's prompting me to "finish before Easter" . . . well, I carried on!

And.  I'm really glad I did!


Because Margene was right!  I DO love it!

I'm so glad I didn't go down with my ship.

(Ravelry details here.)

Not Superstitious . . . Just a Bit Grumpy

Today's Ten on Tuesday - Ten Superstitions We Believe In - doesn't quite work for me.  Because I'm not superstitious, and I couldn't think of ONE . . . let alone ten . . . superstitions I believe in.  Really.  I even step on cracks without the least bit of guilt.


So.  Not superstitious. 

But borderline irritated; sort of . . . grumpy, I guess.

How about I list my grumps instead (just for fun)?

  • Last night, as I walked the dogs, I saw this very cool sundog as the sun was going down.  By the time I stopped, took out my camera, and tried to take a picture, the cloud cover had changed ever-so-slightly and I couldn't get a good shot.  (The photo above is NOT it, by the way.  It's just a regular old sunset.)
  • The simple- and straightforward-looking online "letter of intent" I was working on yesterday (with a deadline today) turned out to have "trapdoors."  Click an answer from a drop-down list (yes or no, for example) . . . and whole new sets of questions (requiring detailed answers) appear.  Man, that made me grumpy.
  • I stopped at the post office yesterday afternoon to mail a couple of packages -- and was surprised to find the line out the door.  Like it was Christmas -- without the jolly.  The line was so very long and so very slow that I left after 10 minutes.  (Now I get to try again today.)
  • Yesterday I got an estimate from a painter for removing the wallpaper (the last of it; my entire house was wallpapered when we bought it almost 14 years ago) and painting two rooms.  I was expecting one price range -- but was quoted more than double.  (Looks like I'll be doing that nasty job myself.)
  • Snow and ice is in the forecast.  (I can't even.)
  • And there were a few other things . . . that have no business on the blog.  (Y'know?)

Just one of those days.  Minor, silly grumps.  First world problems.  I'm feeling better today.  So far.  
(Until I hit that post office again.)


Be sure to check out what this week's Ten on Tuesday Gang has to say here.  (Bet they're not grumpy at all.)


Open . . . to New Ideas

When I go to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show each year, I love to see all the blooms and the bright colors and the gardening ideas.  But my favorite part isn't the flowers!  I always look forward to seeing the exhibit from the Women's Journey in Fiber, a group of fiber artists from the greater Chicago area.

This year's exhibit did not disappoint!  This year's theme: Umbrellas . . . Open to New Ideas.  Each artist used an umbrella as the starting point for their own take on the theme.

Some of my favorites:

Rain that makes you feel alive.  (There are crystal raindrops hanging from the umbrella.)


Magical fairies.  (This one was hand-quilted and just exquisite.)


Contrasts between "open" and "closed" minds.  (This one is felted wool; the outside is bright and "open"; the inside is dark and "closed.")


Pennies from heaven.  (This one is made completely of copper and brass wire -- and pennies!)


Starry nights.  (Painted silk; it just glowed!)


Spring . . . coming again. (This one looks like tree bark -- but is actually exquisite embroidery stitches!)


Clouds. . . with silver linings.  (Fluffy crochet clouds -- and the inside, of course, was silver fabric.)


Coral reefs . . . with a plea for protection.  (This one shows the inside of the umbrella - quilted to create the reef; the outside was the calm sea -- with no clue of the beauty inside.)


Dancing in the rain.  (Simple, bright, and lovely.)


Fun - with a Seuss-inspired umbrella.  (Such whimsy!)


And my two favorites:

A simple remembrance of the artist's Dad.  (Delicate painting on rice paper.)


And . . . a yarn bomb.  (I wanted to throw this one on for a shawl!)


Each umbrella (and my photos here represent only about half of the umbrellas in the exhibit) was unique and wonderful -- and such a treat.  Really -- the best part of the Flower Show!

To learn more about the umbrellas - and to read the artist's statements - click here.


On Hellebores Watch: Beginnings

We had some sunshine and a bit of warmth this past week . . . just enough to move my hellebores to the brink of blooming.

This one will pop open next week, I'm guessing.

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And this one?  It's a newer plant; I put it in just last year.  Still rather small; not so many buds.  But beautiful!  I can't wait to see it pop.

Bud 3

And here is my oldest hellebores plant.  I've had it for nearly 10 years now.  It has been a faithful bloomer -- and has actually spawned several "baby hellebores" that are now transferred to various spots in my garden.  (Best kind of plant to have, in my opinion.  Hard working, beautiful blooms, and self-propagation!)  

It tends to be way ahead of some of my newer hellebores varieties.

Bud 1



We're expecting some decidedly COLD temperatures over the weekend.  But these hellebores just don't care!  They're early spring-blooming plants --- and they don't mind cold OR snow.  They bring such joy as the garden is just coming alive again.

Have a beautiful weekend!