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January 2017

Action Tuesday: Awakening

All weekend, this old movie clip from Dune kept running through my mind. 

Yes, it's been a really devastating and horrifying week for our country.  Because things are happening . . . that just don't seem quite real or possible.  I mean, I'm not surprised, really.  (Because these actions were promised.)  But, down deep, I had hoped for better.  (Because America.)

But.  Here we are.

I am heartened, though, by the respose of Americans.  Outraged Americans.

These last 10 days (can it really only be 10?) have forced us to come to grips with . . . what it means to BE American.  What values do we hold dear?  What face do we want to put on in the world?  Who ARE we?  

I would say . . . the sleeper HAS awakened.
(And is likely marching down a street near you.)

It's overwhelming right now.  Hard to keep up.  Things are coming at us fast and furious.  It's time to dig deep, my friends.  These days will test who we really are -- as a people; as a nation.  All of us.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 9.00.04 AM

And. . . if you're looking for yet another way to take action, consider signing up for Daily Action.  (You might also be interested in reading this article about the mom who is behind Daily Action.)  You sign up to receive a daily text with ONE action - one that is targeted especially for the day.  Your text will include information, suggestions for a script, and - best of all - direct dial numbers for you to call.

Stay vigilant.  

Dig Deep.  

Wake up -- and make those calls!



Right Now . . . January 2017

Oh, January.  What a crazy month you have been!  

Gloomy pretty much every day, but not very winter-y.  

Filled with politics and protests and painting and packing.  

Heartache and hope.  

Memories and moving forward.

Can't say that I'm sad you're nearly over.  (But, really, I say that every January.)  (Sorry.  But you are not my favorite month.)


Here's what's happening in my world . . . Right Now:  


Watching . . . Movies.  Lots and lots of movies. Each year (as I've blogged about before), Tom and I try to see as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before Oscar night.  This year, we have really outdone ourselves.  Let's just say that by the time the Oscar nominations were announced last week, we had already seen all but one of the Best Picture nominated movies!  And, after this weekend, we only need to see 4 movies (and all will be available to "rent" before the Oscars) to have Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress covered.  This is a first - it's kind of like getting a black-out in Bingo!  (Our favorites?  Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and Lion.)

Reading . . . Well, lots of articles from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Atlantic, and the New Yorker, that's for sure!  When it comes to books, though?  I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  Delightful, and . . . I must say -- this one will be hard to beat for my favorite of the year.  I also recently finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  Right now, I'm reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith (in the ears) and The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (in print).


Knitting . . . Well.  Not a thing.  I have Not One project on the needles at this moment.  I finally finished my Peace Project cowl (maybe I'll show you later this week), but I haven't cast on a new project quite yet.  (Thinking maybe these . . . or this.)  (Or maybe both.)  In the meantime, I got out my latest Alabama Chanin project, and I've been stitching away on that.

Humming . . . I saw La La Land on Christmas Day.  Since then, I have had this song just hanging there . . . on the edge of my consciousness.  All the time.  I can bring it up anytime I want.  (It's catchy, that's for sure.)

Practicing . . . I'm back in my watercolor class for the semester.  It's amazing to me . . . just how much paper I waste when it comes to watercolor!  But.  I like it!  And I'm just going to keep at it.  So, there.  (See little painting, above.)


Drinking . . . I have been trying really hard to drink more water these days.  Just plain, old, water.  I bought myself a 32 oz. glass water bottle, and I cart it around all day.  So far, just having that bottle with me . . . is working!  I'm drinking more water than usual.  (And, thanks to the new administration, I'm also drinking more wine than usual.) 

Planning . . . A little summer getaway with Tom.  Can't wait.  (There's nothing more soothing than planning a vacation, y'know?)

Celebrating . . . New digs for my dad!  By the time you read this post, we'll be loading up the moving van and transporting him to a new adventure -- right down the road.  It's been a lot of work -- but so worth it.  We're all ready for some settling-in -- and happy to have him near by.

And that's pretty much how things look for me here at the end of January.  What's going on for YOU . . . right now?


Bloomin' Friday . . . Winter Edition

It's a cold and gloomy Friday here in my corner of the world.  It's sort of trying to snow.  The sun is nowhere to be seen.  It's gray out there.  And bleak.  And I have a bit of a cold.  Ugh.

This . . . is exactly the time I need amaryllis blooms to brighten my day.


This bloom is just stunning.  But it doesn't really photograph all that well.  It's a bulb called 'Grand Diva' from White Flower Farm -- and it truly is grand!  It's not really red, but it's not quite burgundy, either.  It looks a lot like velvet, and it has lovely, tonal highlights.

The flowers are huge!  There are currently four blooms on the first stem, and the bud on the second stem is just beginning to open.


On the other end of the bloom-spectrum, this one ('Tres Chic,' also from White Flower Farm) is winding down.  But if you look closely, you can see the bud on the second stem just beginning to open up.  (This is the bulb that started rotting.  I seemed to have halted the rot, but that second stem never really got any taller.  I definitely stressed this one.)


This one, 'Rosy Star' from White Flower Farm, is just opening.  Both buds at the same time.  I can't wait to see this one.  I love white amaryllis -- and this one is supposed to have a pinkish cast.  Anticipation!


And then . . . there is my ver-r-r-ry slow amaryllis.  This one is definitely taking it's time!  By process of elimination, I know that this one is called 'Stardust' (White Flower Farm) -- and it is the one I'm most excited to see.  But.  I'll need to continue being patient.  Because it's going to be awhile yet.


Some years I pick up amaryllis bulbs at local nurseries; some years I pick up "kits" at Target; some years I go the grocery-store-rescue route; and some years I order bulbs from White Flower Farm.  They are ALL wonderful options when it comes to having beautiful blooms in the house!  But.  I've gotta say . . . those bulbs from White Flower Farm?  They are worth every penny!  The bulbs are big and healthy.  The blooms are gigantic.  The stems are more sturdy and don't flop over so easily.  And the colors on the blooms are just amazing.  (Plus -- you get to pick which varieties you want.  Which is always the hardest part for me - but most fun, too.)  

And, because I made such an investment this year (bulbs from WFF run between $18 and $25 per plain bulb), I'm thinking I might want to "rebuild" my bulbs -- and try to get them to bloom again next year.  

Interested in preserving your own bulbs for next year?  Here are the "rebuilding" steps from White Flower Farm:

  • After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5" above the bulb.
  • DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF.  They produce food that will be stored in the bulb -- and the bulb needs them!
  • Put the plant in a sunny window where it will receive 6-8 hours of direct sun each day.  (South-facing is best, but I don't have any south-facing windows, so I go with an east-facing window.  It seems to work.)
  • Water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month.  (The fertilizer is rather important.  Those poor bulbs are exhausted after producing those flowers!)
  • In the spring - once the danger of frost has passed - set the pot outdoors in full sun OR knock the bulbs out of the pots and plant them right in the ground in a sunny location.  Continue to provide fertilizer.
  • In the fall, bring the bulb indoors (WFF recommends waiting until the frost blackens the leaves), cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store in a cool (55 degrees F), dark place (basement) for 8-10 weeks.  Don't water.  Don't feed.
  • Then, re-pot the bulb and water it.  Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges.  (And keep your fingers crossed!)

I'm going to try it this year!  I need some indoor gardening chores to get me through these dark days of winter.


I also picked up another blooming bulb at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago:


Here's some "gardener advice" if you see these in the grocery store and are tempted to grab a pot for yourself:  Unless it's a gift for someone and you need blooming RIGHT NOW, be particular about your bulb purchase.  Pick the pot with barely-just-emerging buds.  Kind of like this . . . 


That's the same pot of hyacinth, two weeks earlier.  By choosing the most just-emerging pot I could find, I have had the joy of watching the buds emerge -- and I'll get to enjoy the blooms longer, too!  

Happy Friday, everyone!


Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

If my mirror could talk . . . 

Okay, People.  
Here she is again.
Maybe -- just maybe -- she's gonna clean us today . . . 
please-oh-please-oh-please . . .
Aaaaand. . . . Nope.
She's just gonna put that gel in her hair again.
And you know what'll come next . . . of course.
Yeah.  The face cream.  And then the mascara.


She is NEVER satisfied.
Always floofing with the hair here.
Changing her earrings there.
Questioning the lighting.
Worrying about the eye bags.

Or. . . here's my personal favorite:
Does this make me look fat???????
Are you sure???????  
What about from the side???????
Does it match???????
(Right. There you go.  Ask the color blind guy.)

And that cursing!  
About . . . what?  
Wishing she'd started moisturizing her neck several decades ago?  
Really.  That needs to stop.  
Water under the bridge, I say.  
Too late now, I say.
Do what you can, but chill, I say.

Argh!!!  Here she is again.  
Checking for enlarged pores.  
Oh make it STOP!

For crying out loud, lady.  
You're nearly 58!!!!  
Let. It. GO!!!!!

You look fine.

And try to remember that the most important stuff of you . . . is not reflected in me, your mirror.  It's reflected in your actions, your words, your thoughts.

So, there.

And, next time. . . bring the Windex, would'ja?


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read what everyone else's mirror has to say about them, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


Get Your Stamps Ready

I love to write letters.  

On stationery.  

With stamps.  

Sent through the regular mail.  

And then . . . I love to open my mailbox and find a reply.

For several years, during February, I have participated in the Month of Letters.


I know.  I know.  Letter writing is so . . . old school.  It's so easy now to send a text -  or an email - or share something on Facebook.  


I love the practice of writing letters.  There is something really special about opening an envelope -- and seeing someone's actual handwriting!  It's lovely, really.

So I spend each February resurrecting the old-fashioned art of letter writing.  I commit to writing and sending one note or letter each day in February (except on Sundays and President's Day . . . because no mail delivery).

Want to join me?


If you don't want to commit to the whole thing, maybe you'd like to receive a letter or note from me in February?  If so, please send me an email (see sidebar for my email link - right there, under the Instagram feed) and I'll be happy to write to you.  But . . . you've got to promise me one thing.  You have to write back!


What Next?

What NOW?  What do we do after the marches on Saturday?  


How do we take all that energy and passion and and momentum . . . and push a little further?


The folks who organized the DC March have a plan!  As a follow-up to the Women's March they have launched a new campaign:  10 Actions/100 Days.


Every 10 days - for the first 100 days of the new administration - Hear Our Voice will take action on a new issue we all care about.  You can read more about the campaign here -- and you can sign up for email alerts.

This week?  Action 1/10:  Write a postcard to your senators about what matters most to YOU -- and how you're going to continue to fight for it in the days and weeks and months ahead.  You can download postcards from the site -- or you can use any old postcard you may already have on hand.  (The postcard design isn't important --- but the message you write on the postcard IS!)  

Just write what's in your heart -- about the issues that matter most to you.

If you don't already know the addresses for you senators, the site has a nifty little tool that will spit out their address if you provide your zip code.

This is a quick, easy action that you can take TODAY.


Check out the site.

Sign up for future alerts.

Write your postcards TODAY.



Only the Beginning


That was pretty awesome!


Like many of you, I marched on Saturday.

I headed to Lansing - in the fog - with 3 of my friends.  We knew it was going to be BIG . . . when we arrived at our Park-and-Ride meet-up point here in Kalamazoo . . . and found the lot overflowing!  There were women meeting women everywhere -- but no places to park.  (We took the last available spots.)  


The Michigan March on Lansing organizers were hoping for 2,500 . . . and ended up with a crowd of about 9,000!

Here's a photo (not my photo, and unfortunately, I can't figure out who to credit) of the crowd gathering on the grounds of the capitol building.  Later in the day, we spilled out over the sidewalks and into the streets.


Lots of energy.

Lots of passion.  

And so many pink hats!

It really was inspiring to be part of this event.


And the signs?  Oh, they were the best!  Here are a few of my favorites . . .


And, several signs that are, sadly, especially poignant here in Michigan (because, yes -- the Flint water crisis is still very real) . . .


So much energy!

 It was wonderful to participate in solidarity with my daughter - marching in Pittsburgh, my sister - marching in Cheyenne, my daughter-in-law - marching in Denver, and all of YOU -- all around the the country . . . and the world! 



Moving Forward

"Don't be discouraged by the terrible news we hear; in reality, that reflects a small portion of the human story.  Beneath the ugly tip of that glacier lies a vast reservoir of sensitivity and kindness."
                    ---- Dalai Lama


Find the good.

One Little Word 2017

Last year, my life spun out of control.  So many changes -- and so many of them heavy, heavy.  I was just bombarded with one big thing after another after another.

Like . . . well . . . it would've been enough with Tom leaving his career to open his own consulting business.  Yes.  That alone would have been plenty of change for any year.  (And I was prepared for that one.  I knew that one was coming!) But then, my mom got sick - and there was so much we didn't understand about what was going on.  And then, the shock of her dying -- so quickly, and without clear answers.  Then came helping my dad navigate huge life shifts and major decisions.  And all of this going on, of course, against the backdrop of the 2016 election and it's aftermath.

I tried hard to keep things together.  I was far out along that tightrope of life, y'know?  And, really, I held on for quite a while.  But, eventually . . . I crashed.

Things are coming together now, though.  I feel like I'm digging out of the rubble all around me.

Now . . . I'm looking to recalibrate.  

Trying to regain my equilibrium.

Seeking . . . 


Yes.  my One Little Word for 2017 is . . . balance.

And I am so. ready. for some!

We The People

For me - for many of us - this Friday will be a sad, grief-filled day.  A day of mourning.  A day when the most unqualified and most undeserving ... character ... will be sworn in to the highest office in the land.  

This is a hard week to Find the Good, but find it we must.  With a little work, we can make this week - and Friday, in particular - a day of redemption.  A day of resistance.


Here's my ACTION plan for this week.  Join me!

Dress the Part

I am in mourning; I will be wearing black this week.  With an occasional pop of color from my pussyhat.


On Friday, I will not turn on my television to watch the inauguration.  I'm also planning to stay away from social media.  Seeing the event, reading about the event, analyzing the event . . . none of this will help me.  And I don't want to give my attention or my time or my emotions to . . . the spectacle.


On January 20, Tom and I will join with millions of other Americans in the Wall-of-Us project called Take the Oath.  We will raise our right hands and take this oath:  "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute my role as an American, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”   And then . . . we will.  We will be part of the movement.  Read more about Take the Oath here.


January 20 is the perfect day for a bit of financial activism!  There are so many good organizations full of committed and devoted people working hard to fight discrimination, injustice, inequality, and bigotry.  Sustain their work; support their work.  Find an organization you believe in and give generously -- because money talks!

Dig In

If you've been thinking about getting more involved in your community, NOW is the time.  There are causes and organizations right in your own community that can use your help.  You might have to get your hands a little dirty -- but that's what it takes to bridge a divide.  Your work can truly make a difference.  Since the election, I've been looking for ways to plug in right here in Kalamazoo.  I just finished an extensive training program to become a certified Adult Literacy Tutor for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.  I'm waiting to be matched with a new adult learner, but in the meantime, I've just volunteered to work in one of the literacy centers here in town.  I also joined the League of Women Voters -- and discovered a very active group here in Kalamazoo.  There are so many ways to get involved.  Find the one that works for you; start looking TODAY.


Staying informed and understanding the issues is vital right now.  Our new President . . . boasts of "not reading."  So, today, read something challenging that you might not otherwise take the time to read.  Pay for subscription services to news publications that will bring high-quality news to you:  the New York Times, Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Vanity Fair.  Donate to NPR.  Support the news outlets that bring you the news you need.  Seek out essays and books about hot-button issues; find out about the lives of people in parts of America you just don't understand.  Challenge yourself.  Read!

Reflect, Meditate, Pray

Take time this week - and especially on Friday - to get away from the noise and the volume and the sheer hoopla.  If you can, get outside.  Take a walk.  Spend some time meditating or praying.  Allow yourself to find solace and peace.  Prepare yourself for the work ahead.  It's supposed to be warm(ish) here on Friday.  I'm hoping to get out in my garden -- maybe prune a few shrubs and clean up some of my "winter interest."  I'll take my dogs for a walk.  And I'll spend some time meditating and journaling.  It's important to shut out some of the drama and connect with your own center.


There is much ugliness in the world right now.  Let's resist by creating beauty.  Spend time this week doing the things that give you life.  Knit.  Paint.  Stitch.  Tie flies.  Sew.  Write.  Play the piano.  Create something beautiful.  Use your gifts -- as an act of creative resistance.  I'm hoping to finish my Peace Cowl this week.

Get Out There

The majority of voters in this country did not vote for our soon-to-be President.  We don't share his values.  We didn't give him a mandate.  Let's stand shoulder-to-shoulder and stay visible.  There are marches and protests scheduled for Saturday, January 21 all over the world -- sister marches for the Women's March in Washington DC.  If you're not going to DC, find a march or rally or protest near you -- and GO.  (Here's a link to help you find marches in your state or country.)  I will be heading to Lansing with a carload of friends for the March on Lansing.  Maybe I'll see some of my Michigan friends there.

Rest - and Have a Drink

There's a lot to be done -- and it's going to take a sustained effort well beyond inauguration week.  Make sure to rest, kick back a bit.  And have a drink!  Thea has put together a list (with recipes) of most excellent pussydrinks.  I may try the Elizabeth Warren -- or I may just open a really fine bottle of red wine.

Yes.  This week is a tough one.  But we - we the people - will endure.  Because, well . . . America is already great.  And it has nothing to do with our incoming (ahem) leader.