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March 2017

A Bit of Pampering

I have returned from my visit to Pittsburgh.

This time, my trip didn't include any sightseeing.  No trips to gardens.  No pilgrimages to special restaurants or brew pubs.  No shows.  Nothing fancy.

Just . . . a bit of pampering!

Erin, as you may recall from earlier posts, is in the Technical Writing graduate program at Carnegie Mellon University.  This program is intense, highly competitive, and quite grueling.  Erin, who works really hard and has Very High Standards for herself, really needed a good rest and some restorative time during her spring break.

Mom to the rescue!

My strategy was to just . . . keep things low-key.

We did some shopping.  (Baby needs a new interview suit. . . )  (And a new pair of shoes, too.)


We enjoyed an indulgent spa day.  (Massages and facials, all around!)


We ate out a few times -- and I also cooked a Mom-dinner in Erin's kitchen.


We had a great time playing with Erin and Keith's silly kitty, Dash. 


There was a whole lot of kicking back and just relaxing.  I even pampered myself -- with some wine and stitching (both knitting and Alabama Chanin) -- back in my hotel room every night.  (Gotta love my hotel wine glass!)


And . . . a special bonus!  While Erin spent some much-deserved sleeping-in time, I met someone very special for a coffee date!


Kat (yeah . . . THAT Kat) and I spent hours and hours chatting and catching up and even getting a bit riled up together at a Starbucks somewhat-near downtown Pittsburgh.  

Time flew!

I can attest that her incredible daily stitching project is even MORE awesome up-close-and-personal than it is on Instagram (and it's pretty dang awesome on Instagram).  I think Kat knit a few stitches while we were together, but my bag-of-sock just sat there on the table for the entirety of our visit.

As always, it's wonderful to meet a blog-friend in real life . . .


My time in Pittsburgh was perfect.  Restful and relaxing -- with plenty of pampering.




Three Things on a Thursday

(Although I fully support Think Write Thursday, there are some weeks when the topic doesn't quite work for me.  Sometimes it's a challenging topic that I just don't have the time to thoughtfully consider, sometimes I lose steam, and sometimes I am just not in a creative mood.  For those weeks, I rely on my old stand-by: Three Things on a Thursday.  Please do check out today's Think Write Thursday posts here.)


Thing One:

Ugh.  That photo is my garden in March.  So bare.  So brown.  So quiet.  (But no snow this year, so that's a bonus!)  Yesterday, the winds just howled here all day long, whipping up the long grasses Tom cut down and neatly stacked a few weeks ago (waiting for our yard waste company to begin its pick-up service again next month).  Yesterday, in the wind, the grass clippings were just flying around the yard, and lots of them ended up on the patio.  What a mess.  (And they also kicked up my allergies - because I am allergic to grass.)

Thing Two:

I am now deep into Week Two With No Knitting.  Nothing on my needles.  No inspiration.  Not really missing it.  My knitting-mojo has definitely left the building!  I am working away on an Alabama Chanin stitching project, though.  And painting.  So it's not like my hands are still.  But . . . I don't think I've taken this long a break from knitting in . . . years!

Thing Three:

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction long list was announced yesterday.  (You can find it here.)  I always look forward to this book list.  It serves as my reading inspiration for the rest of the year, as I challenge myself to read all the long list books.  (I've never completely succeeded, but I usually come close.)   This year, I've already read one of the books on the list (Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien) . . . so 15 to go!

Enjoy your Thursday!

Musings on International Women's Day

"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own."
                                                                                        --- Audre Lorde

Today is International Women's Day.

It's also the Day Without A Woman.

And, oh.  I have such mixed feelings about the Day Without A Woman.  I mean . . . if we could all - as in ALL of us identifying as women - actually step away for a day?  Well.  It would truly be something.  But that can't really happen, can it?  For lots of reasons, lots of women will choose not to participate in the Day Without A Woman -- either because they can't or they won't or they forgot or they don't know how.  And then, a day like this kind of loses its impact, y'know?

I'm probably just overthinking.

And I'm also supporting.  

This morning I put on my Nevertheless-She-Persisted t-shirt . . . 


Layered on a red sweater and my red peace-sign earrings . . . 


And then agonized over whether I should go out to breakfast with Tom or not.  (Because by going out to breakfast, I was spending money AND possibly contributing to other women having to work . . . and there I go, overthinking again.)  In the end, I went.  Justifying it because we went to a local restaurant serving local fare.  Also woman-owned.  And I was heartened to see . . . only one woman working in the entire place (where there are usually many)!

As for the rest of my day, I'll spend it NOT spending any money, supporting women - all women - no matter their choices, AND . . . thinking about my sisters all over the world.

I'll also be chewing on this for the rest of the day (from the New York Times Wednesday Briefing this morning):

  • Rwanda is the #1 country in the world when it comes to women representatives in parliament, with 61% in their lower house and 38% in their upper house. 
  • Next is Bolivia, with women holding 53% of the seats in their lower house, and 47% in their upper house.
  • (Both of these countries, by the way, have official measures requiring representation by women in elected office.  Bolivia requires there to be at least 50% representation by women in elected office, and Rwanda's stipulates at least 30% representation by women in parliament.)
  • Cuba comes in at #3 -- with women holding nearly half of the seats in their National Assembly.  (Interesting to note that Cuba uses "positive discrimination" to reach that balance.)
  • Iceland, Nicaragua, Sweden, Senegal, Mexico, Finland and South Africa fill out the top 10.
  • As for the US?  (Ahhhh, yes.  I think you know how this is going to come out.) The U.S. is No. 104, with 83 women out of 435 representatives, and 21 of 100 senators.

Yeah.  We've got our work cut out of us, don't we?

"If you're going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers."
                                                                                       --- Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Right In My Own Backyard

Last Saturday night, our dogs went a bit crazy with excitement.  I mean . . . like turning themselves inside-out with their barking.

It was a total Sound The Alarm thing going on.

Turns out, it was this:


Three deer.  Scoping out the garden bed (where the hosta-salad-bowl will appear soon).

They just sauntered, leisurely, about the yard.

They couldn't care less about the dogs -- apoplectic -- up in the house.


I know most people (and gardeners especially) consider deer to be a nuisance.  But I love seeing them close up!  I love sharing my neighborhood and my landscape with deer and hawks and squirrels and rabbits and snakes and toads and songbirds and woodchucks and chipmunks and possums.

When I was a child, growing up in suburban 1960s America, I never saw any of these creatures.  (Well . . . maybe a gopher or two . . .)  We never had birds.  I only saw deer at deer parks.  Our garden had no toads or snakes or possums.  A hawk or an eagle?  Unthinkable!


You know what I say?


Thanks for cleaning up our environment -- and creating a world where I can enjoy wildlife. . . right in my own backyard.

Off Script

" Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
                                                                                --- Anne Lamott

I had one of those weekends with lots of plans.  You know.  To get things done around the house.  To catch up.  To make things right.



I kind of went . . . off the script.


I unplugged.


I focused on comfort.


Hopefully, I'll work again this morning.  (When I plug myself back in!)


Morning Ritual . . . Now With Added Tail-Wagging

A couple of years ago, I added meditation to my daily morning ritual.  I discovered that meditation was a powerful tool for me; that it helped me feel centered and prepared to meet the day.

But then . . . last year . . . lots of my regular habits and rituals started to unravel.  Including my budding meditation practice.  (Like I've mentioned before . . . I lost my balance last year.)


I decided to use last month's One Little Word challenge (to develop a new habit or activity) as an opportunity to put meditation back into my daily morning ritual; to get myself back in balance.


With a few exceptions, my focus on daily meditation was a great success, and the practice is now rooted in my morning ritual.

IMG_4453 2

I've discovered a few things along the way.

  • If I let the morning get away without meditation, it's much harder for me to find a way to fold it into my day later.  (Those days I missed?  It's because my morning was crazier than normal that day.)
  • It helps to have a designated place for meditation -- and a signal to let Tom know I'm meditating and not to disturb me.  (I close the door - and then Tom remembers that I'm meditating.)
  • I really like having a candle burning . . . even though I tend to close my eyes during meditation.
  • Soft, gentle music playing in the background helps me stay focused.
  • No distractions allowed.  No phone.  No Tom.  No dogs.

But wait a minute.

No dogs???

While Tom understands that a closed door means Do Not Disturb . . . the dogs?  Not so much.  They sit on the other side of the closed door and try to get in.  Loudly.  Distractingly.  (And sort of pathetically.)

After several days of trying to keep them out, I decided to give in and let them come in with me for daily meditation.


We begin the ritual with some petting and tail-wagging.  Maybe a dog-kiss or two.  And then we all settle into our places.  JoJo usually to my right, and Jenny right behind me.

Turns out my daily meditation practice is enhanced with dogs.  And I think this is really okay.  Because, for me, interacting with my dogs is a great way to get into a more mindful state of being.

And I think they like it, too!


Have a great weekend!


Hey, March!

Oh, March.  You are one of my favorite months.  And it's not even because of my birthday.  (Although there is that.)

It's mostly because of . . . this!


Lengthening daylight.

Oh, March, you usher in the end of the dreaded -uary months . . . and for that, I am grateful.  (Because the -uary months are long, cold and dark.)  I know.  I know.  I complain about your fickle weather, March.  Your strong winds and occasional snow.  The ugly and dull landscape.  The mud.  And that time change.  (Ugh.)


There is much to celebrate about you, March!   You bring spring.  New life.  Fresh air.  Bird joy.  Crocus blooms.  Daffodils.  Being able to work in my garden again.  Kites.  St. Patrick's Day.  March Madness.  Easter candy.  The return of Oberon.  My birthday.

Welcome, March!  I'm so glad you're here.


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other Hello, March posts, click here.  To sign up to receive the weekly Think Write Thursday prompts, click here.