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September 2019

Monday Again

It's a foggy, muggy Monday morning here . . . after a cold and rainy weekend.  And my dratted seasonal allergies are kicking in.  

Definitely time to . . . 



A Quote

"And all at once, summer collapsed into fall."
 --- Oscar Wilde



A Factoid

Did you know . . .

Leaves are green due to the plant's critical food producer-- chlorophyl. When the shorter days of autumn approach, leaves slow down their food making process. This eventually stops production of chlorophyl that once kept the foliage all green. As the chlorophyl dies off, we see the yellows, oranges and reds "appear" in the leaves. These colors were there all along -- we just couldn't see them in the light of summer.



And By The Way . . . 

"Factoid" is a real word.


But I didn't use it correctly.  Because that information about leaves?  It's actually a fact.  Not a factoid.  (But I like the term "factoid," and will probably continue to use it incorrectly.  Because I like the sound of it.)

(According to the Merriam-Webster website, Norman Mailer coined the term "factoid" in 1973 in his book Marilyn, about Marilyn Monroe.)


Something to Know

Here's an organization that's worth knowing about . . . 


Fair Fight was founded by Stacey Abrams to promote fair elections, encourage voter participation, and education voters about elections and their right to vote. Fair Fight brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in targeted voter registration and other voter outreach programs and communications.

Learn more about Fair Fight here.


And now . . . I'm off to face my Monday!
Here's to a good week for all of us.


Don't forget to check out my September stash giveaway!  The deadline for comments is TOMORROW - Tuesday, October 1 at 5:00 pm Eastern.




Something to Think About

It's Friday.
And I'm in a hurry.
So I thought I'd send us all into the weekend with these words from a very smart man:

"If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?"
  ---Stephen Hawking



Enjoy the weekend -- and I'll see you back here on Monday.


Don't forget to check out my stash giveaway for this month!  The deadline for comments is next Tuesday, October 1 at 5:00 pm Eastern.


Zinnia Magic 1-2-3

One of my favorite flowers in my fall garden is the hard-working zinnia.  It's just lovely . . . and magical at every stage of bloom. 

First, as a bud . . . 


Then, as it opens . . . 


And, finally, in full bloom. . .


Flowers are magical, aren't they?


Be sure to visit Carole today -- for more Three on Thursday posts.


And don't forget to check out my stash giveaway for the this month!  The deadline for comments is next Tuesday, October 1 at 5:00 pm Eastern.

Checked Your Calendars Lately?

Today . . . is September 25.  Which means in exactly 3 (very fast) months, it will be Christmas day.  And a few days less than that even for the start of Hannukah.  So.  If you're planning any holiday gift knitting, you better "get your wiggle on" (one of my mom's favorite sayings).  

And I'm here to help you!  This month, my stash give-away includes two very gift-knitty kinds of yarn!

First up . . . 


Two skeins of Mountain Colors River Twist yarn in the Pine Creek colorway, worsted weight, 100% Merino wool.  Each skein is 240 yards, so there is plenty of yarn there to knit up some nice, gift-y accessories (or, of course, something for yourself).  The colors in the photo are pretty accurate -- muted tones in shades of (mostly) greens, blues, and plums.

And then I've got . . . 


Two skeins of Knit Picks Capra DK in the Harbor colorway, DK weight, 85% Merino wool/15% cashmere.  Each skein is 123 yards, plenty to make a great cowl or hat.  The color in the photo is quite accurate.  (I notice there's a strand of my hair that made it's way into the photo there.  I'll make sure that doesn't come with the yarn.)

Interested in one or the other?  Or both?  Let me know in the comments before Tuesday, (gasp) October 1 at 5:00 pm Eastern time.  I'll pick names out of a hat and notify the winners by email.


In knitting news, here's the current state of my Felix pullover sweater.


Oh, sure.  It looks fine NOW.  But . . . well . . . there has been some unraveling.  A word (or two) of advice, should you knit a Felix for yourself.  First:  when you're on the short row shaping AND trying to establish the eyelet raglan increases?  Don't watch TV.  Second:  when you switch out to a longer cable needle to accomodate the growing number of stitches?  Make sure you've got the right size needle.  And when you wonder to yourself why it feels a bit different?  Trust that.

But I'm on track now!  (Let's just say . . . I got really good at doing those eyelet raglan increases.)


How about YOU?  What are you knitting this week?

A Bloggy Kind of Book Group

Every now and then, I get an . . . itch . . . to do something differently.  
To shake things up.  
To take a bit of a risk.
To try something new.

Today, I'm excited to invite y'all to come along!


Yep.  It's a bloggy kind of book group, and I'll be one of your hosts -- along with Bonny and Carole.

Here's how it works:

Each quarter, we'll read a new book together.  On the first month of the quarter, we'll introduce the new book.  In the second month of the quarter, each of your hosts will put together a post about the book, and in the third month of the quarter, we'll host book discussions on our blogs.  (For now, we'll just discuss the book in our comment sections, but maybe - if this works - we'll get fancy and try something more interactive.)

Want to read with us?

Our first book is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, a "powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice"*  This book has been on my personal "to read" list for a while now.  I've heard it's excellent -- a book you won't easily forget, one that will both make you mad and give you hope -- and I can't wait to read it with you.  

If you're hesitant because you don't like to read non-fiction, please don't rule this book out!  I've heard it reads like a story, and that even people who don't care for non-fiction find it engaging.  It's been out for a few years now (published in 2014), so it's available in paperback ($7.89 on Amazon, if you're a Prime member) or on Kindle or iBooks (slightly higher $).  I was able to pick up the book at my local library -- there wasn't even a waiting list.

You know what else might be kind of fun?  Just Mercy is coming out in movie form in December.  (It's on my Oscar watch list, and it's getting Oscar-hype already).  Wouldn't it be interesting to have read the book before the movie comes out?

I really hope you'll come along and . . . Read With Us!
(Tell your friends.)


Please let us know what you think of our plan in the comments.  We consider this a "beta" test of the "bloggy book club concept," and are eager for your feedback to make future adjustments.  


* A statement made in so many reviews of the book I just don't know who to quote. . . 



It's Official

. . . summer is over!  

It's the first day of fall, AND a Monday.  Time to . . . 



A Quote

"Nature gives to every time and season unique beauty; from morning to night, as from cradle to grave, it's just a succession of changes so soft and comfortable that we hardly notice the progress."
--- Charles Dickens



A Word

Today's word comes from a bike ride.  Here's the story.  Tom and I were out riding our bikes and talking about something he was working on.  And Tom used a word that made me stop my bike and say . . . WHUT?????  Because I had never heard or even encountered the word before.  Like, ever.

What was the word?


Yes.  Orthogonal.

For Tom, this is a roll-off-the-tongue, everybody-knows-this-word kind of word.  But, then, he is a scientist.  And they do use some unusual terms . . . on the regular.

For me?  Never heard of it.

But when Tom explained, I understood -- on a very intuitive level.  He was using it to explain "orthogonal testing" -- or using two very different kinds of tests to prove a single result.  (Trust me, there are many, many, MANY more definitions of orthogonal than the one above.  It's a complicated word -- but all the definitions are related to perpendicularity.)  (Is THAT a word???)

Long story short . . . Tom says the best practical example he can think of (to help me understand the concept) when it comes to "orthogonal testing" is this:  If you want to know your exact location, measuring latitude and longitude (independent, perpendicular "tests") will be more accurate than measuring latitude (or longitude, for that matter) twice.

Got it?

(How about you?  Ever heard this word before???) (And if you're also a scientist, don't answer that.)


To Consider

Are you familiar with Lady Dye Yarns?  If you're not, prepare to find yourself heading down a bit of a rabbit hole . . . because her yarns are just lovely.  (And -- she sponsors very cool clubs and has some really awesome project bags, too.)  Diane Ivey - the "Di" behind Lady Dye Yarns - is a BIPOC crafter and business owner, and she's working hard to help make the crafting community more inclusive.  She has just announced a collaboration with Romi Hill to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote).

You can read all about the 19th Amendment Celebration Collaboration between Diane and Romi here.  I've already signed up -- and I hope you'll consider joining me!  It's a great project -- and a terrific way to support a BIPOC dyer and a supportive ally doing some really cool things in the world.


And To Read

And another thing . . . As Diane points out in her description of the 19th Amendment Celebration Collaboration, the contributions of African Amerian women in the women's suffrage movement have always been overlooked.  And those contributions were significant!  As we prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in the US, let's make make sure to boost our knowledge -- and learn the stories we should have learned long ago.  Here's a great place to start.  As Diane says so poignantly in her description of the collaboration, "the support and participation in our political process by ALL women ACTIVELY participating is very important."


Something Cool

Click here to see a very cool project by UK artist Peter Crawley.  
(It's some stitch-y goodness that you just need to see!)


Hope your week is off to a very good start!







Wise Words on a Friday

"The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you're the pilot"
  ---Michael Altshuler


Some weeks feel like they just kinda spin out of control before your very eyes, y'know?  I've had one.  Actually, two in a row . . . but this particular week included an unexpected spin.  Which feels a lot worse, I think, than a week you knew was out of control from the get-go.


I need to remember . . . I'm the pilot.
(And today I'm letting Garden Buddha be my co-pilot.)

Looking for calm.
Thinking zen.
Finding my foundation.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Way More Than Three on a Thursday

Well, folks.  It's that time of year. . . We're getting near the end of gardening season, and my garden is looking Very Tired.  Here's a view of a portion of my back border, as seen from my patio door:


I see a whole lotta brown out there in the foliage.  Some plants are dying back and preparing for the winter.  Other plants are screaming out for some pruning and cutting back.  It's time for me to assess and make plans for next year, plant some bulbs (but not until it gets closer to a freeze), and button it all up for winter.

But not quite yet!

Because some of my very favorite plants are (finally) making their blooming appearance in my garden -- and the bees and butterflies are going mad with joy.

I had planned to share my three favorite fall flowering plants in the garden, but I just couldn't limit it to three.  So today for Three on Thursday, you get Five on Thursday!

Hit it . . . 



Sweet autumn clematis


Toad lily

IMG_9630 2

So many kinds of sedum


Beauty berry


There are so many wonderful things blooming in my garden right now!  (And I didn't even include the hydrangeas.)  (Maybe next week?)  I love having flowers in bloom from the start of the growing season . . . right through to the bitter end!

What's your favorite fall bloom?


Be sure to check out all the other Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's today.  (And while you're there, be sure to tell Carole CONGRATULATIONS!)

Ain't No Disco

(Click here for a soundtrack to accompany today's post.)

The not-a-gray-cardigan . . . is finished!

IMG_5942 2

Such a fast-and-furious knit for me!  Like . . . two weeks.  Two weeks of rather obsessive knitting.

Why so fast, you're wondering?
I think because . . . Color!  Pattern!  
For me, whenever there is color or patterning action in whatever I'm knitting, it all just seems to go faster.  I guess because I'm so eager to see what will happen next.  Y'know?  
(Also . . . it's cropped.)  
(And no sleeves.)  
(So there's that, too.)

But, mostly . . . it was just plain FUN.  So I couldn't put it down.


All I wanna do is have some fun . . . 
I gotta feeling I'm not the only one.

All I wanna do is have some fun . . . 
I gotta feeling the party has just begun.


You can see all the details on Ravelry, here.


So, you're probably wondering . . . Is it gray cardigan time now???

Why . . . no.  Apparently it's not! 

I was doing a "needle amnesty" on Monday (you know . . . rounding up all the - many - loose needles laying around in my knitting bag and in other random corners of my house, then corralling them in their proper needle places) (again) (does anyone else need to to that once in a while????) . . . and I discovered that I had cast on and knit the ribbing for a Felix Pullover late last spring.  I remembered - once I found it - that I had put it away because spring was imminent, and I wasn't in the mood to knit a wool sweater right then.  

But I am now!

Still not-a-gray-cardigan. . .


How about you?  What are you making this week?

Working Out . . . At Home

A few years ago, we had a leaky shower in our master bathroom . . . which turned into an entire bedroom/bathroom renovation (in a total give-a-mouse-a-cookie situation).  One thing we did during the re-do . . . was remove our never-used jacuzzi bathtub and convert it to a little fitness (and meditation!) corner.


It's perfect.  A small area that works perfectly for at-home workouts.

Tom and I are both regular (like . . . pretty much daily) go-to-the-gym people.  But every once in a while, we can't get to the gym and need to do a workout at home.  Or we need to augment our gym workouts with more stretching.  Or something like that.

I thought my little fitness corner would be a good way to show you how you can add variety to your strength workouts with just a few pieces of equipment . . . that all fit into that little basket you can see in the right in the picture above.

Here's a closer look at some of my favorite pieces of equipment -- things that I use regularly in my fitness corner (although you'll have to excuse JoJo; she insisted on being a part of this. . . ):

IMG_6015 2

  • A yoga mat.  For me, a yoga mat is a must; a great foundation for your workout.  It cushions your joints and keeps you from slipping and sliding.  (I do my home workouts in bare feet.)  I usually leave my mat rolled out - because I have the dedicated space, but a yoga mat rolls up easily and doesn't take up much space at all.  Yoga mats are not pricey, and they're readily available at stores everywhere - like Target or even Barnes & Noble.  You can also find them online in a variety of price ranges.  Some of them are stupid-fancy, but you really just need a basic mat.
  • Yoga Jellies.  If you look at the top right hand corner of my fitness corner photos, you can see a black blob.  That black blob is actually a pair of Yoga Jellies -- one of the best inventions for yoga and other strength exercises EVER! I have rheumatoid arthritis, and one of my wrists is in really bad shape.  I use the Yoga Jellies under my hands for weight-bearing poses (especially planks and down dogs and even push-ups) to make them more comfortable - and do-able - for my wrists.  You can also use them under your knees or elbows.  If you have joint pain when exercising, these Yoga Jellies might help. 
  • Bender Ball.  The Bender Ball is that bright green ball in my photo.  It's something I love to hate . . . y'know?  One of my former Pilates instructors swore by the Bender Ball, and we used it in all kinds of different core strength exercises.  It's soft and squishy . . . and helps you REALLY get to your ab muscles.  It's not very big - but is a powerful fitness tool.  I've seen them locally at Bed, Bath & Beyond -- but you can also order one through Amazon ($12.99).  Then . . . you can Google "Bender Ball Workouts" and knock yourself out!  (If you click on the link, you'll go the Amazon offering.)
  • Resistance Band.  If I only had one piece of fitness equipment to use at home, it would be a resistance band!  Talk about a versatile piece of equipment.  If you're working on strength training at home -- and you don't have room for free weights -- a resistance band can take the place of the weights.  You can work all your major muscle groups with a resistance band (arms, shoulders, legs, triceps, biceps, chest); you can do squats and lunges and overhead presses and more  (really -- all your favorites!) with a resistance band.  You can pack one in your suitcase when you travel.  They take very little space to store at home.   A quick Google search will give you many, many options of exercises you can do with a resistance band.  (If you click on the link, you'll go to the set I purchased from Amazon.)  Here's an article on the differences between using resistance bands or free weights in strength training.
  • Free weights.  We don't have many free weights at home (because we use the weights at the gym), but we have a few.  (And Tom has a couple of kettlebells at home.  But not many.)  It's nice to have some free weights at home, but the downside?  They're heavy and take up a fair amount of space to store.  For my workouts, I need several different weights -- because one weight won't work for all the different muscle groups I'm working.  Plus, as we talked about last week, we need to continually challenge ourselves -- which means increasing weights.  It's hard to have an appropriate selection  of free weights in a limited amount of space.  (Free weights are readily available at sporting goods stores and stores like Target.  They are surprisingly inexpensive.)
  • Yoga strap.  Yoga straps are really great for stretching -- both before and after your workouts.  (We haven't talked much about stretching and flexibility yet, but we will.)  When I was working with a trainer last year, she taught be several stretches to do with a yoga strap -- and when I do them regularly (admittedly, that's one of the things I need to be more faithful about doing. . . ), it makes a huge difference in my post-workout recovery.  (Yoga straps are readily available wherever yoga mats are sold, or you can purchase them online.)  Here's a link with stretching exercises you can do with a yoga strap.

For me, these basic pieces of equipment don't take up much space, are relatively inexpensive to buy and readily available, and are - best of all - are easy to adapt and use for a variety of exercises at all fitness levels.

What do you think?  And if you have a home fitness space, what other equipment would you recommend?