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April 2017

Right Now . . . April 2017

The push-and-pull of Spring continues here in April.  Super warm days when everything in the landscape explodes with leaf and bloom . . . followed by several cold days putting everything in a holding pattern.

Such is the season.  

I'm just happy with all the blooms!


Here's what's happening for me . . . Right Now:

Watching . . .  Not the News.  But I am keeping up with the new season of Call the Midwife, and I'm enjoying the third season of Grace & Frankie, too.

Reading . . .  I've jumped on the Lincon in the Bardo bandwagon (George Saunders is the author), and I'm nearly finished.  It is excellent -- unique and very different.   I am reading it in print, although I know many people who have really loved the audio version.  After seeing the way the book is laid out on the page (rather unusual), I really can't imagine it in audio.  But people I know who have listened to the book can't really imagine simply reading it.  So.  I think this is a book you can enjoy any way you choose to partake!  I'm also reading A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (in the ears).  While the writing is truly beautiful (like all of Shamsie's work), let's just say . . . it's taking me a long time to get through it.


Stitching . . . Why, looky-here!  I knit a sock.  It's mate, though?  Nowhere to be found!   I've been busy in the garden the last week or so, and haven't had much time to stitch.  I've got a few things close to being finished, though -- and I'm determined to git-r-dun before starting on anything new.  (Although I wouldn't hold my breath for that sock's mate.  Just sayin.)

Gold Star . . . Last month, I explained that I was going to try to tackle some of my "big" projects.  You know?  Things I put off doing . . . because I feel like I don't have a big enough block of time to do them.  I'm happy to report that a "slow drip" approach (working on projects a little at a time - maybe even just 15 minutes a day) is working for me.  I'm making progress - slowly but surely - and it feels great.  Gold Star for me!!!


Drinking . . . Adorable little cans of flavored Perrier!  My favorite is L'Orange.  

Celebrating . . . There is so much to be celebrating these days.  My dad's birthday is Monday -- AND he just sold his condo!  Erin got a great summer internship (and - best of all - a job offer after she finishes up her Masters work next December) from a big Silicon Valley tech and social media company!  Life is good -- and it's so nice to be celebrating.

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Blooming . . . Everything has just been popping in my garden this week!  This photo is a bird's eye view of my Jack Frost brunnera.  I love the haze of bright blue -- and I love that this shade-loving plant "volunteers" in my garden . . . but not in an invasive way.  Just in a way that spreads the blue-hazy-goodness here and there.

Planning . . . I have some exciting plans for my garden this year.  Nothing too ambitious.  I just want to create a couple of mini-gardens within already established garden beds.  I really need to do a lot of thinning and dividing this year -- and especially in front of the house . . . because we're having a retaining wall re-built.  It's going to wreak some havoc, sure.  But I'm trying to think of it as an opportunity to restructure a couple of garden beds. . .


Humming . . . Tom and I went to a concert earlier this week - Blues Traveler.  Ever since . . . well . . . I can't get this song out of my head!  (They put on a great concert, by the way.)

Looking forward to . . . I'm excited for May to roll around.  I'll be heading up north now and again in May.  There's always the excitement of planting season and the opening of the Kalamazoo Farmers Market.  Lots of busy-ness with the Master Gardener Plant Sale.  And a quick trip from Erin is in the works.

What's happening for YOU . . . right now?


Two In One Day: Post #2 - Thinking and Writing on Thursday

Today . . . I am doing something unheard of.  

Today . . . I am posting TWICE.  (Please be sure to check my other post today by clicking here.)


Remember the time . . . 

so bored one Friday night in the spring of 1979 . . . 

Jennifer and I thought it would be great fun to dress like gangsters and go out on the town?


Maybe pick up some toy machine guns and go see if we could storm our way into a movie?

Maybe try to convince the sales clerk to give us free nail polish at the drug store?

Maybe talk some bartenders into free drinks?

We could even smoke some Cherry Swisher Sweets for color.


Shoot, our boyfriends are out of town.

Let's raise some hell.

Thelma and Louise . . . before Thelma and Louise. . . were Thelma and Louise.

(Oh. My. God.  What were we thinking????  And can you imagine if we tried to do this NOW????  In today's world????)

(We had a great time, though.)


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday. Click here to read other posts on today's topic, or click here to sign up to receive weekly prompts.

Two in One Day: Post #1 - A Poem in Your Pocket

Today . . . I am doing something unheard of.  

Today . . . I am posting TWICE.  (Please be sure to check my other post today by clicking here.)


It's Poem In Your Pocket Day.  Share the power of poetry today with the people in your life today!


the laughing heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

--- by Charles Bukowski


(The sculpture accompanying the poem in my post today is Hopeful by Linda Lewis, available at Button Gallery in Douglas, Michigan.  The photograph is my own.)


Words on Wednesday: Poetry

Poetry . . . and Science.

Science . . . and Poetry.

It sort of seems like they don't go together at all, doesn't it?

Poetry.  Words and images and emotions.

Science.  Data and hypotheses and facts.

But, y'know. . . both poetry and science share a common raw material.



Last weekend at the March for Science, Jane Hirshfield, poet and environmental spokesperson, clearly saw the link between poetry and science -- and launched Poets for Science.  Jane and some of her colleagues from the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State were on hand at the march in Washington DC, supporting science with the power of poetry -- with banners, workshops, and even new poetry.

Poetry and Science.  (Of course!)

On the Fifth Day

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.

In gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

--- Jane Hirshfield (for the March for Science)


April is National Poetry Month.  On Wednesdays throughout the month, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 - that's tomorrow - is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.

Around and Around

(To set the tone, click here for my project soundtrack.)

I've got a song
I ain't got no melody


Last month, I decided to jumpstart my knitting (which had sort of . . . faded . . . of late) by adding some fresh tricks to my repertoire.  I joined A Year of Techniques (because there's always something new to learn) and decided to bring some (ahem. . . ) balance to my knitting.

While I don't plan to try each new technique on a monthly basis (my life is just too full for that - and I don't need any pressure to keep up), I do think I'll really enjoy learning some new tricks.

I've got a dance
I ain't got no steps, no


I really enjoyed learning the helical stripes technique.  Simple.  Fun.  And it made so much sense once I got going that I can't believe I never figured it out for myself.  (But I didn't.)

My mitts are very "fraternal," although I did force things a bit to get the cuffs to be all in "dark" shades.

Will it go round in circles
Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky


I was happy to switch out these mitts for my garden gloves yesterday, and pack them away for another season.  

(Ravely details here.)



Another Bloomin' Friday

Every day, something new in the garden!  It's such an exciting time to stroll around - seeing what's popped into bloom overnight.

Today, we have . . . 

My favorite spring bulb - grape hyacinth.  I just love the contrast of purple and green.  I use that particular color combination all over my garden throughout the season -- but this is really my first real taste of it each year.


Red buds are nearly exploding.  They're so subtle -- and make such a lovely scene when I look out my window and see my little red bud . . . with my neighbor's blooming trees as background.


Lilacs are moving up the bloom-list with a bullet.  This is a new lilac bush I just planted last year (in a corner where something else had . . . failed to thrive) and these are my first blooms.  I'm so excited.


Virginia bluebells just dancing in the breeze.  (Like so much dancing that I can't get a good shot.)   Virginia bluebells are so lovely while they last -- but they only last about 5 minutes, so enjoy what you see -- bad shot and all!  (Those are celadon poppies in the background, in case you were wondering.)


The hops are already trying to take over the world.  I love the way they climb the arbor -- and Tom loves growing them.  But.  They are very high maintenance!


Ferns are unfurling (at least the ones that live up close to the foundation).  These are actually "volunteer ferns" that seeded themselves (or whatever you call it when we're actually talking about spores) up near the foundation.  Later, I'll dig them up and plant them somewhere else.  But for now, I'll enjoy watching them up against the warm foundation.


And then -- a big surprise!


Yep.  That sad, little pot?  Nestled in among the biggest weed patch in my garden?  It's a Little Honey oak leaf hydrangea I bought last May at the Master Gardener Plant Sale.  Yeah.  Last May.  I couldn't figure out where, exactly, I wanted to plant it when I first brought it home (which is a problem I often have - sort of the gardener-version of eyes-too-big-for-the-stomach) -- and then, well.  Last summer was a bit of a mess, and it just sat there.  All year.

Anyway.  LOOK!  It has leaves!  It LIVES!  It survived both my neglect AND our mild winter.  I will happily find the perfect spot for it this year!

I just love watching my garden come alive again each spring!

Enjoy the weekend.

Another Weekly Eye Roll

At my gym, we have a nice and big, quite posh locker room.  There are several "bays" with lockers and mirrors surrounding big benches.  And because there are several "bays" - each looking pretty much exactly like the others - people tend to gravitate to the same spot each time they come in.  So as to help us remember where we "parked," so to speak.


You get to know the women you see regularly in your "bay."  Y'know?

There is one woman I see 3 times a week, but we tend not to speak to each other.  Because she is a pool-walker.  And I am a lap-swimmer.  And there is always (and especially earlier in the mornings) a bit of, well . . . let's just call it tension . . . between the two pool user-groups.  And this woman happens to be a General in the Pool-Walker Army.  (I tend to just keep my head down and swim.)  (Although I have been known to cause a fuss.)  (But that's usually in January.  And only when things get Really Bad.)

Still.  I try to be nice.  (In and out of the pool.)

One day last week, as I was getting dressed in the locker room, I happened to notice The General had a pair of well-worn hand knitted socks stuffed into her shoes under the bench.  So I decided to be friendly; to reach out; to comment . . . 

Did you knit your socks? I asked.

Yes.  She said.

I'm a knitter, too.  I said.

And then she unloaded.  Well.  These are Jaywalkers.  But not from the original pattern.  I use a modified version to knit toe-up because that's the ONLY way to knit socks.  I also ONLY knit using the new Magic Loop method because that is the ONLY way to knit socks.  And I ALWAYS reinforce my heels and toes with nylon.  You'll notice MY socks never wear out in the heels.  It's the ONLY way to knit socks.  And I ONLY knit with Opal sock yarn.  It is the ONLY yarn to knit socks with.  

And on and on and on, pretty much without pause for breathing . . . 

I just pulled on my hand knit sweater and proceeded to dry my hair.

Really, lady?


To that, I say . . . 


I won't make THAT mistake again!

(Eye roll for emphasis.)







Words on Wednesday: Poetry

I've spent the last two days attending a training session on environment and water quality issues.  The sessions were in Holland, and I made the hour-long drive back and forth on back roads, taking the scenic route.  

On Monday morning, there was the barest hint of green on the trees.  By yesterday afternoon, the various spring shades of green were just popping over the landscape!  Spring was really unfolding as I drove along.


This . . . unfolding . . . sent me to New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry.  This one seemed perfect for right now.

April Woods:  Morning

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.

Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot

newly risen, green leaf,
white flower

in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

     ---Wendell Berry


April is National Poetry Month.  On Wednesdays throughout the month, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.

Decade Dog

 Saturday we celebrated Jenny's 10th birthday . . . 

with a long walk on the trail at Asylum Lake


and special dog treats --  dog-hamburgers on the grill and special doggy-cones at our neighborhood ice cream parlor. 


Jenny enjoyed all the special attention (and JoJo loved tagging along for the fun).

But it go me thinking . . . 

Ten years . . . they go by in the blink of an eye.

(But in dog years???  Even faster!)

The summer we got Jenny - as an 8-week-old pup - Erin had just graduated from high school,

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and Brian was a gawky high school freshman!

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We had recently lost our 14-year-old German Shepherd, Jake, and were all still grieving when Jenny came along to fill the hole in our lives (and hearts).

She fit right in to our family, and quickly became a beloved member of our "pack."

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She's been very healthy and low-maintenance -- except for her two "knee replacement" surgeries, of course.  But those surgeries were totally worth it -- as she now has "bionic knees" and shows no signs of arthritis.  (She's in for the long haul.)

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It took awhile, but she's (pretty much) forgiven us for bringing JoJo into her life 4 years ago.

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Even though Jenny is quite a diva about the whole thing, she and JoJo get along well and seem to enjoy sharing the same space.

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There's some healthy rivalry there, sure.  JoJo's youthful exuberance drives Jenny crazy sometimes . . . but there is no doubt, really, about who is boss.

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Happy birthday, Jenny . . . our Decade Dog!