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August 2017

No Time for Unraveling

My knitting has been very slow this summer.  A row here; a row there.  Some days, not even a stitch.

I finally finished this earlier this week . . . 

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That's Kirsten Kapur's Mystery Shawl 2017 -- in all its unblocked glory.  (I don't have a good place to block up north, and the well water is just kind of . . . well, smelly.  I will block when I get home.)  

And now, I'm working on this blob of lace weight . . .

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Because, really.  With less than 3 weeks until a wedding, shouldn't every mother-of-the-bride be working on a lace shawl with beads for her daughter?  (Like the title says, no time for unraveling.)

(If you hear maniacal laughter in the background, just smile and look away.)

Reading continues apace.  I may get a Bingo coverall after all, but it's hard to tell at this point.  Right now, I'm slogging through John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River (we'll just say . . . this one is NOT A Prayer for Owen Meany* - although it's every bit as long -  and leave it at that).  I've also just started Beartown (Fredrik Backman) -- which is, so far, everything you've already heard it is.  (Watch for a Bingo update post tomorrow for a more detailed look at my recent reading.)

How about you?  What are you knitting and reading today?

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Today's post is part of Kat's Unravled Wednesdays.  See what everyone else has to say here.

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* One of my top-5 favorite books Of All Time.


Keeping Track

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a record-keeper.  I have been journaling since I received my very first diary (one of those little lock-and-key numbers) for my 10th birthday.

Up north, here at our cottage, I've been keeping journals to record our up-north-adventures since we first built the place -- back in 1998!

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These journals are a treasure-trove of information now, and we find ourselves dipping in every once in a while -- especially if we want to find the exterior dimensions of the cottage . . . or to remember what year we added the shed . . . or bought the pontoon boat . . .  or to look up who it was that we hired to take down a dead tree near the house.

It's also fun to look back and read the details of what the kids did as they grew up at the cottage (because Erin had just finished 2nd grade and Brian was still in preschool our first summer up here) and how things evolved over the summers.  My journals keep track of wildlife sightings, special guests, fishing trends, and life changes.

Although I still keep an up-north journal, I don't update the details of each of our trips up like I once did.  Things up here have settled into a . . . sameness . . . now -- and it would get a bit too repetitive if I wrote about each visit in detail like I used to.  I imagine, though, that I'll always maintain a cottage-journal in some form or another.

As I was looking back at my old journals this week, I found another kind of journal tucked in with the rest . . .

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Back in June of 2000 (I know because I looked it up in my cottage journal!), Erin and I used to take walks in the woods surrounding our cottage to find wildflowers.  I was only beginning my gardening adventures back then, and didn't know much about wildflowers.  We would go out in search of whatever was blooming, collect a few specimens, and then look them up in our trusty wildflower guides.  (The internet wasn't A Thing yet, so we relied totally on our guides.)

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As we got more interested in wildflowers, we started drying and pressing our best specimen plants to create a "journal" of our wildflowers.

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It was quite a project.  We completed the journal over the course of that up-north-season; filling the entire book with flowers and leaves and even a few pressed berries.  Erin even used it for a school nature project somewhere along the way.

I haven't looked at it in years, but it was fun to stumble across the journal and . . . remember.  I'm actually surprised at how complete it is; and how well it's held up over time.  The colors, though?  Totally faded.  

I still take walks and look at the wildflowers whenever I'm up north.  Sadly, there aren't as many.  Our lake association has taken to mowing the roadsides these days.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I imagine it appeals to the same folks up here who plant grass and try to create lawns (in the woods) (I know).  I don't pick any of the wildflowers any more -- mostly because I want them all to seed the roadsides.

But also because these days, I can "collect" them this way:

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(From top to bottom:  Queen Anne's Lace, Bull Thistle, St. John's Wort, Moth Mullein, Ironweed, Common Evening Primrose)

Collecting and documenting is certainly much easier these days, thanks to smartphones and the internet.  It's fun to look back over your memories -- no matter how they're recorded!

 

 


Sometimes Mondays

. . . look like an escape.

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As summer begins its march toward fall, Tom and I like to escape up north every chance we can.

So.

Here we are.  

Somewhat isolated as we work remotely, trying to soak up every bit of summer we can. 

This Monday, though, we're also trying to make sense of the times we live in, and struggling to comprehend the vermin in our midst (always there, but now unafraid to show their faces).

I think I'll head down to the lake now.  
To watch the loon-baby learn to swim and fish.

Escape.

 


It's Friday and I Need an Opinion

I'm having a decision-dilemma.

I can't decide which shoes to wear for Erin's wedding.

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I'm hoping y'all can help me choose!  

I'd prefer to just wear my flip-flops (or - better yet - no shoes at all!!!), but I think I'm going to have to go with mother-of-the-bride respectable for this one, and put on Real Shoes.

Here's my dress. . .

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After shopping (in stores and online), I remain uninspired with my shoe options, but I've narrowed it down to two pair.

What do you think?

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Disco feet? 

(These somewhat sparkly silver sandals are comfortable and - as a surprise bonus - they do not highlight my extreme flip-flop tan lines.)

OR . . . 

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Neutral putty peep-toes?

(Also comfortable and nearly invisible - but my god . . . that flip-flop tan line is rather extreme.)

OR . . . 

Should I keep shopping?  (And, if so, for WHAT . . . exactly?)

What do you think?  Opinions, please!  Help me decide. . .

 

 

 


A Real Non-Event

On Tuesday I had my annual check-up with my oncologist.

NINE YEARS!

(Of course, I will mark and celebrate these nine years many times over the next several months.  Nine years since my diagnosis.  Nine years since my "port" was installed.  Nine years since my chemo began. Nine years since my first clean scan.  Nine years since the end of chemo.  Because . . . really . . . there are so many anniversaries to "celebrate.")

Anyway.  The appointment.

All. Good.

A-OK.

See you next year!

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So.

Other than the appointment being a Big Life Marker . . . it also made me realize something I never-ever imagined possible in those raw-and-shining days just out of chemo . . . 

Having cancer is just not something I think about much anymore.

This is unfathomable to me.

I can go days now . . . maybe even weeks . . . without thinking about cancer or treatment or that I had it or worrying that it might come back.

I can hear about someone else (or someone's sister) (or someone's sister's ex-fiance's mother-in-law) (or someone who just happened to be a friend of someone's sister's ex-fiance's mother-in-law) (etc.) being diagnosed with cancer without that trap-door opening and sucking me down into the depths. 

I can think . . . I am a nine-year cancer-survivor.  And just be grateful for that -- without feeling guilty because of all the other cancer survivors who never made it to nine years. 

I can allow myself to trust in a future again, as much as any of us can.

THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

I've passed some huge milestone of "survival" somewhere along the way to nine years.  I'm not exactly sure when or where I did that . . . but I did.  I'll never kid myself.  My experience with a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma back in the fall of 2008 changed me . . . forever and for good.  

I have no illusions.  

I know that every day is a gift.  

And that life can change on a dime.

But after nine years . . . I'm grateful that my annual oncology check-up is just routine for me now.

A real non-event.


Deadheading: Good for More Than Gardening

In gardening, deadheading is a particular maintenance practice that prolongs blooms, prevents seeds from spreading where you don't want them, and keeps things looking neat and tidy in the garden.

Basically, it means pinching or snipping off spent blooms -- those blooms way past their prime.  (My favorite gardening mantra:  If it's brown, cut it down.)

Some gardeners hate this chore, but I love it!  I find it very meditative and centering -- and it's a great way to keep in close touch with what's happening in my garden.  

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(That's a look down into my bucket after a good deadheading session last weekend.)

So, last weekend - as I was deadheading my perennials and containers - I started thinking about the value of getting the spent "stuff" out of the garden.   

It certainly makes things LOOK better.  (Because a clump of dead daisy heads is really not attractive, y'know?)  

And when you pinch off dead-and-dying blooms, you provide more energy for the plant to produce NEW blooms -- or to grow deeper roots if the blooming period is really over.  (Roses respond especially well to deadheading.  And those daisies?  Once I deadhead the dead daisy heads, I get a second round of blooms.)

And deadheading allows you to gather seeds to share or to plant where you want them.  (Rather than the wild self-seeding that can happen with some plants if you're not careful.)  (I'm talking to you, Japanese anemone.)

All good things . . . for the garden.

But.

Isn't the same true of our lives?

Perhaps we should also be doing some "life-maintenance" once in a while. . . deadheading out the "spent" stuff in our lives.

Relationships.
Situations.
Habits.
Notions.

With regular deadheading, we can create space and energy for our own new growth.  We can keep old, negative seeds from spreading and growing where we don't want them.  We can keep our minds neat and tidy . . . and ready for new blooms.

Deadheading.  Turns out it's good for more than just garden maintenance!


At Last ... A Book Bingo or Two

I've been reading and reading this summer.  But until I was on my way home from visiting Erin in California earlier this week . . . no actual bingos to report.  

And then, suddenly, there were two!

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Want a closer look?

Here's what I read for the second column, going down:

Set in more than one time period - Dark Circle (Linda Grant) - While most of this book is set in the early 1950s, the last part of the book is set in the current day - serving as a then-what-happened conclusion.  So . . . definitely two time periods, and a book worth reading.

Part of a series - Blue Lightning (Ann Cleeves) - This is the 4th book in the Shetland Island mystery series -- and this one has quite a surprise at the end!  (Can't say I was sorry to see her go. . . )

Recommended by a librarian - Necessary Lies (Diane Chamberlain) - This is my book group's August selection, and was also recommended by my local librarian.  Alas . . . not for me.  I found it tedious and flat.  Much eye-rolling.  Enough said.  (I am just not a fan of "chick-lit" -- even when it revolves around a meaty social issue.  There are many, many fans of this book.  Just . . . not me.)

Wanted to read for more than a year - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain) - This is an excellent book, well-researched and just plain interesting.  Especially for an introvert . . . who is married to an introvert . . . and who raised at least one (and possibly two) introvert children.

Non-fiction about science - Storm in a Teacup (Helen Czerski) - Physics demystified . . . with everyday explanations.  What's not to love?  (I will think of this book every time I handle an egg.) 

BINGO!

And here's what I read for the 2nd row, going across:

Already own - Anything is Possible (Elizabeth Strout) - I wanted to read this one so badly that I just couldn't wait through the incredibly long library hold list.  So I bought it.  If you loved Olive Kitteridge and Lucy Barton, this one will not disappoint.  Another beautiful, stark "necklace of short stories."  (My kind of book.)

Part of a series - (See BINGO above.)

Written under a pseudonym - The Running Man (Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King) - This one was a bit out-of-the-box for me, but I tend to enjoy Stephen King books (he's a great storyteller) . . . and every once in a while, a little dystopia is good for the soul.  Apparently, there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie based on this book (I've never seen it) that is terrible and not at all like the book.  Anyway, this was a very fast read for me.  Because Richard Bachman/Stephen King always sucks you right in, y'know?

Written in the first person - The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Arundhati Roy) - Okay.  So the whole book is not written in the first person, but one of the major characters' "sections" is written in the first person . . . so I'm counting it!  Because, let me tell you, this book is an Investment (time, attention, sanity) -- and it needs to count for something.  (If you're looking forward to reading this one because you loved God of Small Things . . . let me tell you, this is NOT God of Small Things.  At all.)

That you want to read because of the cover - The Lonely Hearts Hotel (Heather O'Neill) - This is the book I was reading as Book Bingo began, back in May.  The cover . . . is the best part of the book.  And we'll just leave it right there.

BINGO!

How's your reading going?


California Dreamin'

A busy, whirlwind trip to California has left me a bit "lagged" and kinda foggy . . . but with great memories of 4 fun days with Erin.

As you may remember, Erin is doing a summer internship with LinkedIn -- and that's what brought me to the Silicon Valley. . . LinkedIn Intern Day last Friday.

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It was really fun to spend a day on the LinkedIn campus, learning about the company, meeting Erin's "team," and being totally WOWed everywhere I looked.  (What you hear about tech companies?  Pretty much all true.  It's like a wonderland . . . )  Probably what I liked best, though, was the Intern Fair -- where each intern presented their summer work to the rest of the company.

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The LinkedIn interns work on "real," meaty projects during their tenure.  They work very hard!  Erin works in the engineering department -- doing internal software documentation.  I think my favorite part of the day was watching Erin explain her project to engineers.

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This internship has been a great experience for Erin -- she's learned a lot, lived independently in a new place far from home, and set herself up for future success.  (Even though she misses Keith and her kitty terribly, and whines about her roommates incessantly.)  It was great to be able to see Erin "in action."  Burst-your-buttons-Mom-pride is still a Thing . . . even when your kid is a grown-up 28!

After the Intern Fair, I stuck around for the weekend so Erin and I could spend some time together and take a couple of day trips.

First, we took the train in to San Francisco and spent a day sight-seeing.  (I've been to San Francisco many times, but Erin had never visited.)

In true San Francisco style, what started out like this . . . 

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ended up like this!

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We had a great time on Fisherman's Wharf, eating sundaes at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory and sourdough bread at Boudins, sipping Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista, and taking a whirlwind tour of the city from the top of an open-air bus.  It was a really fun day . . . plus THIS just never fails to thrill.

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The next day, we decided to drive down the coast a bit on famous Highway One to visit some California beaches.  We stopped in Santa Cruz for brunch (so many surfers!), and then headed further south to Monterey.

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(And, no.  We didn't have time to visit the aquarium.  We'll save that one for next time!)

Erin loves beaches.  (Loves.)  So she made the most of our brief time in Monterey.

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We really had a great time together, and I'm so glad to have had this chance to go out for a quick visit.  (The only thing we didn't do that we had hoped to do . . . was shop for jewelry for her to wear for her upcoming wedding.  Oh, well.  There's still time . . . )

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This week, you can be sure I'll be humming California Dreamin' all the time!