Three on Thursdays

When Knitting = Grumpy: Figuring Out the Formula

Usually, I start my morning with some knitting while I sip my coffee. And then I pick it up again in the evening, usually while I watch something on TV with Tom. It's such a nice, relaxing way to begin the day -- and wrap up the day. I find it calming and relaxing and centering.

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Except . . . when I don't.

For the last week, I've been knitting the colorwork portion of the sleeves on my latest sweater, and it turned out to be a total Knitting GrumpFest!

But not for reasons you might think. I mean . . . everything is working out splendidly, gauge-wise and fit-wise. So that's all good. Yet . . . I was finding No Joy in my knitting last week. Every time I picked up my sweater, it was just . . . ugh.

So I decided to stop and analyze: What was it, exactly, that was making me so cross about knitting those damn colorwork sleeves? 

Well.

First . . . I enjoy knitting when everything "feels right." I like nice needles with smooth joins. I like having the "just right" number of stitches on the needles so I don't have to have scrunch up the stitches overmuch -- or deal with having the uncomfortable s-t-r-e-t-c-h of having an almost-but-not-quite-enough number of stitches on the needles. I hate "kinky" cables, and I especially hate cables that are too long for the project I'm knitting. For sleeves, I almost always just use my double-points, and that's usually fine, although sometimes I use "magic loop"-ing. But with colorwork, double-points don't feel exactly right (those floats), and magic loop? Well. That brings us to . . . 

Second . . . I am not a huge fan of tangles when I knit. I like stripes and fair isle colorwork, so I can deal with SOME tangling. But let's just say . . . you won't find me knitting a lot of intarsia. I decided to knit my sleeves using the magic loop method, but discovered that looping magically AND colorwork make for lots of tangled yarn. And that pretty much made me lose my $h*!. So. Double-points for me. Still a lot of yarn-wrangling on every round, but at least I wasn't also fighting the extra cable "loop."

Third . . . You may remember that I'm already not terribly fond of knitting the sleeves in the round on top-down sweaters. All that twisting and turning. So tedious. 

So. There's my answer to why I wasn't finding joy in my knitting last week:

Didn't Feel Right + Yarn-Wrangling/Tangles + Twisting/Turning = Grumpy Knitting

That's the formula!
No worries, though.

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I got through it!

Now it's smooth sailing with just plain old stockinette.

(Until I have to finish the sleeves.)
(But that's just twisting/turning - all by itself - without colorwork, which will seem like a walk in the park now.)
(Nothing like a little small-circumference colorwork for perspective!)

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

 


Love the One You're With

Yesterday, here in Michigan, they announced that beginning this week people in the 50-64 age group will be able to sign up to play . . . Vaccine Lottery! (Beginning with those with medical need first, and then by mid-month the rest of us in the 50+ range will be able to sign up.)

It's exciting news, to be sure.
But my first thought was . . . I bet it will be the J&J vaccine we get. And I'd rather have one of "the good ones."

Oh, Kym! 
Not the right attitude.
Flawed logic and bad assumptions on my part.

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(This would be an ideal spot to insert a photo of, oh . . . say me, getting the vaccine. But since that hasn't happened yet, here! Take a look at my new mini-orchid instead.)

Lucky for me, the New York Times addressed this very issue in The Morning (their daily e-newsletter). Since it's Thursday, I thought I'd share three pieces of information I gleaned from the information I read this morning . . . regarding the vaccines and J&J's entry into the arena. (Because I kinda bet I'm not the only one feeling like they may have to "settle for" the J&J vaccine.)

First of all, here is the basis for all the "brand hesitancy" regarding the three vaccines (and this is directly copied from the The Morning e-newsletter today, links included).

"The perception stems from the headline rates of effectiveness of the three vaccines: 72 percent for Johnson & Johnson, compared with 94 percent for Moderna and 95 percent for Pfizer. But those headline rates can be misleading in a few ways. The most important measure — whether the vaccine prevents serious illness — shows the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be equally effective as the other two. All work for nearly 100 percent of people. The picture is murkier for mild cases, but they are not particularly worrisome."  --- The Morning, March 4, 2021

Okay. So all of us know that 94% and 95% beat 72%. That explains why we might prefer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations. But . . . let's dig further:

  1. Those "headline percentages" (94%, 95%, 72%) describe the vaccines effectiveness at preventing ALL infections from the Covid virus. But preventing ALL infections isn't really as important as it sounds. WHAAAAT??? you say. According to The Morning, "The world is not going to eliminate SARS-Cov-2 anytime soon. Coronaviruses circulate all the time, causing the common cold and other manageable illnesses. The trouble with this virus is its lethality. It has killed 15 times as many Americans as an average flu season. Turning Covid into something more like a mild flu or common cold means victory over the pandemic."
  2. So the real goal of the vaccines here . . . is to keep Covid manageable. Like the way colds or the garden-variety flu are manageable for us. And all three approved vaccines do just that! Again, according to The Morning, "all three vaccines being used in the U.S. are accomplishing that goal. In the research trials, none of the people who received a vaccine died of Covid. And after the vaccines had taken full effect, none were hospitalized, either." So, with any of the vaccines, we may still get Covid. But it will only be a mild case; something we can manage and - most importantly - survive.
  3. So why isn't the J&J vaccine as effective as the other two? There are a few theories. One is that they were performing the clinical trials AFTER the more transmissible variants had emerged in the population. (Neither Moderna's nor Pfizer's vaccines were tested against the variants.) Another possibility is that the J&J vaccine only requires one dose. (Maybe a second dose would give even higher results; they didn't test that.) But . . . look to the UK, where they decided to only give everyone one dose of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines: the numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths there are all dropping drastically. Basically, after ANY of the 3 approved vaccines, you have very little chance of dying from Covid. And that, according to The Morning, is "breathtaking."

So.
Bottom line: Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the just-as-good!

All three vaccines are WONDERS!
Any of them will keep you from serious illness or death from Covid.

When it's your turn to grab a vaccine, listen to Stephen Stills . . . and love the one you're with!

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For more Three on Thursday posts, be sure to head over to Carole's today.

 

 

 


Tending

I love the word tending. As in . . . to care or look after.

It's such a gentle word.
So soothing.
It just exudes love-in-action to me.

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I think about the word tending most often when it comes to gardening. I love to . . . tend . . . my garden. I like to care for my plants. I'm one of those gardeners who actually prefers the tending kinds of tasks - weeding, deadheading, picking off pests - more than the planting and harvesting kinds of tasks.

That's what I miss most about my garden in the winter: Puttering around and tending.
(Well. That's not really true. I mostly miss just seeing it all unfold and being IN it.) (But tending is a close second.)

So I'm biding my time until garden-season by tending to my little indoor garden for now . . . 

First, there's my Aerogarden. Which is really coming along nicely!  Not much tending to do with this one, actually. It really is a Just-Add-Water kind of thing. But fun to watch all the same -- and soon I'll be able to harvest fresh herbs for my cooking.

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Then, there's this first-ever possibly-re-blooming amaryllis bulb. This is very exciting for me. I've never been good at saving my spent amaryllis bulbs from one season to the next, but last year I followed Bonny's instructions . . . and look!!! A green shoot! (I stuck it next to the Aerogarden, so maybe the light is helping it come back to life?)

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And then, there are tulip bulbs that I picked up at Costco last week. They don't require much tending, either, really. Another Just-Add-Water project. 

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But a winter delight for this gardener all the same!

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Are you tending any plants in your indoor garden this winter?

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Be sure to visit Carole for other 3-0n-Thursday posts today.


Love At the Movies

Love Week continues!

Love week

When I was in sixth grade (1970), the movie Love Story came out in theaters. It was the TALK of the sixth grade! Of course, at age 11, none of us had seen it, nor were the chances good that any of us would be allowed to see it. But Sharon Jenkins had an older sister who did see it, and she shared ALL the details with us. I remember just being shocked by the sucker punch of an ending. Shocked. Because love stories could have sad endings???? (Oh, my tender 11-year-old heart. . .)

I didn't see the movie until several years later. Back then, you couldn't just grab a VHS and watch when you wanted, of course. If you missed a movie on its theater release, you had to wait until it showed up on TV at some point. (Bleak times for movie viewing, for sure.) And by the time I did see the movie, I had read the book (all in one day, ending up with a tearful session reading under the covers with a flashlight late at night) -- and had already cycled through "the poster" that hung in my bedroom for years. (I thought the movie was okay; nothing can compare to Sharon Jenkins describing every detail at recess -- and the book was better.)

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So. Movie love stories. Do you prefer tear-jerkers like Love Story? Or are you more a fan of the rom-com . . . where eveything eventually "fits" in the end?

When I started thinking about love story movies earlier this week, I figured I would come up with my best three movies about love . . . and call it good for a Three on Thursday post. But the more I thought about it, the longer my list became! Ultimately, I've got a list here that can't even remotely qualify for a Three on Thursday post. (Three-Times-Three-Plus-One On Thursday?) (How about that, Carole?)

So, here you go. My Three-Times-Three-Plus-One list of favorite movies about love . .  

  • Amelie
  • Something's Gotta Give
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Brooklyn
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • The Big Sick
  • The Holiday
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Bull Durham 

I could add more . . . but I decided to stop with my top 10. 
What about you? What are your favorite movies about love???

(And did you have that same Love Story poster hanging in your room? It was ubiquitous in my 1970s world.)

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"Life is one big love story with hundreds of little love stories within it."
       --- Ram Charan

 

 

 


Speed Trap

Well.

I ended up taking an unanticipated blog-break last week. Because . . . last week? It was A LOT.
Just . . . A LOT.
(Any way you slice it.)

I feel like I've been holding my breath for a really, really long time now. I keep thinking that I'll be able to (finally) let it out again. But, no. Still holding it.

I had a blog post nearly ready for last Thursday, but my heart just wasn't in it. So here it is today. . . a Three-on-Thursday on a Monday.

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Many, many years ago, Tom and I took the kids on an Epic Family Vacacation Through the American West, with an ultimate destination of Bozeman, Montana (where Tom had a conference to attend). We hit as many National Parks and Memorials as we could along the way, enjoying the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Tetons, Devil's Tower and Bighorn Canyon. (We won't talk about one kid pushing the other kid into the Lamar River in Yellowstone. Or how tempted we were to drive away from a raging kid in the parking lot at Devil's Tower.) (Long family car trips. What can I say? ) We have a lot of fun(ny) family memories. And that's what it's all about, right? Anyway. When we finally drove into Montana, we were greeted by a speed limit sign that looked a lot like the one in the photo above.

Reasonable and prudent.

I thought this would be a good way to continue . . . my yoga post from last Monday. Because after I wrote that post - and inspired a lot of you to give yoga a try - I had conversations with several of you that made me realize I maybe should take that yoga post . . . a little bit further. So, in the spirit of Three on Thursday, here are three more thoughts about . . . yoga. . . and watching for speed traps . . . on a Monday. (Please bear with me here.)

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  1. Be Reasonable and Prudent about developing your yoga practice! There are many benefits to doing yoga. So many. And you can reap these benefits . . . by establishing a regular and consistent yoga practice. Now, what "regular and consistent" means is totally up to each of us individually. Kind of like that "reasonable and prudent" speed limit sign we encountered in Montana. Sure, Adriene touts doing yoga-every-day, and she comes up with a nicely packaged 30-day program each month so it's possible. BUT . . . that doesn't mean we need to DO yoga every day. Last Monday, I explained that yoga has made a huge difference for me as I deal with rheumatoid arthritis. And - until quite recently - I only did yoga once a week! My regular and consistent yoga practice . . . had me going to a studio yoga class once a week, every week -- for years. 

    So if doing yoga every day doesn't work for you -- because you already have a fitness program and you're just looking to add a bit of yoga to it, for example, or because you're working or have kids at home (or both!) and can't fit an every-day ANYTHING into your life, or because your body needs time to recover after a yoga practice - then be . . . "reasonable and prudent" about what's "regular and consistent." Maybe your 30-day program takes 30 weeks of once-a-week yoga. That's just fine. You'll still get the benefits -- if you keep practicing, regularly and consistently. It is absolutely not necessary to do yoga every day to get the benefits of yoga! (And it's absolutely okay to ignore the words "30 day" before any "challenge.") (What is that about, anyway?) (But I digress.)

  2. Start at the beginning! Although Adriene claims that this particular new 30-day program is designed for anyone, I have a feeling that if you've never tried yoga before, well . . . it might seem to be too much. Maybe a little intimidating. Perhaps trying yoga at a slower pace might give you the confidence you need to stick with a regular and consistent practice. Here are some links to Adriene's beginner level classes that might be worth checking out:

    Yoga for Beginners - Here are six classes from Adriene that move at a slower pace, provide beginner-level instruction, and demonstrate more modifications for poses (and ways to ease into them) than the current 30-day program does.

    Foundations of Yoga - Adriene has also done a series of shorter videos, each featuring the "foundations" of various yoga postures. This is a great series if you want more specific instruction in some of the basic yoga poses (or even some of the more advanced poses). It's ideal for when you're trying to figure out just what you're "supposed to be" doing to get yourself into all these poses.

  3. Modify! Although Adriene does talk about modifications in this new 30-day yoga series, she doesn't demonstrate them quite as much as I hoped she might. Here is my modification advice for you:

    First, don't force anything! Only bend or reach or twist as far as it's comfortable for you to do. (If you keep up with a regular and consistent practice, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be bending or reaching or twisting further.)

    Second, keep a small pillow or rolled up towel nearby and use it to . . . prop whatever seems to need propping. And keep a dining room chair nearby to hold onto whenever you feel wobbly or out of balance. There is no "cheating" in yoga -- only supporting. Meet yourself where you are - and make good use of your props. (Again, as you do yoga regularly and consistently, you'll notice yourself reaching for props less often.)

    Third, try everything -- but rest when you need to. You can pause the video, or you can just let it continue on while you rest until you're ready to jump back in. It's not "cheating." It's meeting yourself where you are. And that's what yoga is all about.

So, if you tried the yoga thing last week and you were finding it a little bit too much for right now - either schedule-wise or body-wise, maybe you'll consider trying it again. Just a little slower.

Like . . . at whatever speed seems reasonable and prudent to you!

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And here's to a good, safe, and non-eventful week for all of us.
(I'd really like to exhale, y'know?)


In The Blink of An Eye

Like many of you, last week we had a week-long stretch of unbelievably wonderful fall days here in my corner of the world. Just day after day of blue skies, warm temperatures, and open windows . . . unheard of in November in Michigan.

Tom and I took full advantage of this weather by taking care of some lingering outside chores, taking the dogs on neighborhood walks (where they enjoyed crunching through the leaves gathering at the curbs), and . . . sitting out each night for drinks-on-the-patio.

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Such a glorious weather-week.

And . . . over in the blink of an eye!

On Tuesday night, a cold front moved through. And now? November is back, and all the remaining leaves dropped from the trees in one night. So today, seeing that it's a Three-On-Thursday kind of day, I thought I'd share three wonderful colors-of-fall in my garden - now gone, sadly. But wonderful while they lasted!

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Until next year, fabulous garden color!

"In the garden, Autum is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November."
            --- Rose G. Kinsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905

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Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday posts.

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And do let me know in the comments if you'd like to join us for our first ever Read With Us Zoom meet-up to discuss The Women of Brewster Place -- Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. (You can also send me an email; address in the sidebar.)

 


Fall: It's Not So Bad

Every year, I whine and moan over summer ending. I hold on to the summer-feeling for as long as I can. (I'm still wearing flip flops most days. And I think a warm, wool sweater looks great with cut-off shorts.) (Don't you?)

But, eventually . . . I give in.

And then I remember how much I love fall!

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I love watching the colors change.

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I love sitting out on the patio . . . with Mr. Heater (*) and a glass of wine, covered up with a wool throw and reveling in the "fall" of it.

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I love finding . . .  the unexpected . . . along familiar paths.

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Fall . . . is pretty great.
I'm not even missing summer anymore.
(And . . . any day now . . . I'll break out the socks.)

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Head over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday posts.

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(*) The Story of Mr. Heater: A Special Bonus

Several years ago, I wanted to get a heater for our patio so we could extend the outdoor season and stay warm while enjoying our evening "cocktail hour" on the patio. I, of course, had one of those rather elegant tower-style heaters in mind. Y'know . . . the ones you see at outdoor restaurants or on the more put-together home decks and patios. Tom was quick to agree that a patio heater was a great idea -- and he volunteered to pick one up for me when he went to Lowe's.

He came home with . . . Mr. Heater.

NOT AT ALL what I had in mind. Mr. Heater . . . is designed for hunting camps, ice fishing shacks, pick-up pond hockey games. Absolutely functional. Totally portable. All you need is a propane tank! He keeps things toasty, for sure.

But . . . not the elegant tower-style patio heater I had in mind!

Several years later, Mr. Heater still accompanies us out on the patio (spring and fall). At this point, friends and family all know Mr. Heater. It's a good story. We get a lot of laughs. And Mr. Heater is a perfect example of how Tom (Mr. Function) and I (Ms. Form) . . . complement . . . each other. Every year, I plan to replace Mr. Heater with that elegant tower-style patio heater I originally wanted. And then I don't. 

Because Mr. Heater? Well . . . he's part of the family now.
(Besides, outdoor patio heaters are the new toilet paper when it comes to pandemic must-have items this fall.)

 

 


Adapting: A Three on Thursday Story

It's been almost 6 months now since I set foot in my gym. On March 12, I went in for a strength training session with my trainer, Jeremy. The gym was eerily empty. The big TVs were all tuned in to the lead-up to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament -- where the final pre-tourney games were being played with no fans in the seats. It was weird and surreal. My gym, which is affiliated with a hospital, was already quite geared up for the coming storm: floor staff were constantly walking around spraying and cleaning all the equipment, hand sanitizer stations were everywhere, the water fountains were closed, there were signs all over the gym with various warnings about hand washing. (No one wore masks then. Not yet.) The next day? CLOSED!

And you know what? Here in Michigan, the gyms are still closed! 

What's a committed "gym-rat" to do?

In the Before Times, I went to the gym nearly every day. I took cardio classes several times a week. And spinning. I did strength training classes, worked with a personal trainer, and sometimes did a kinda-sorta-yoga-ish kind of class there. I had gym-pals. I liked the instructors and my trainer. I thrived on the energy and enthusiasm and motivation of my gym!

I couldn't imagine . . . life without it.

And yet. Here I am. Six months later . . . living without it, and not missing it at all!

Really, this is one of the biggest shockers of Pandemic Times for me. Because I never worked out at home. Never. I went to the gym. Period. And it took several weeks of safer-at-home living before I adapted.

It took a few (painful and grieving) weeks, but I did adapt much quicker than I expected to. At first, my gym tried online workouts, but they were awkward and filmed-at-home and . . . not really very good (although I appreciated their attempt). When my gym started offering outside classes and set up (essentially) an entire gym outside this summer, I didn't even consider going back.

I'm still working out all the time. I've just shifted my thinking -- and my basement floorplan (!) -- to accomodate working out at home. What have I done?

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1 -- We invested in home fitness equipment. Yep. We're now Peloton People. (Tom uses it, too.) I love the Peloton. It provides a great cardio workout -- right in my own little home-gym in the basement. Yep. It's pricey. But, for me, it's worth it because I use it all the time, and it enables me to work out as hard as I did in the gym. (Plus . . . I'm not paying high gym fees anymore.) We also purchased a home-TRX system, a "body tower" (for pull-ups and dips), more dumbbells, and some REALLY heavy kettlebells (for Tom). We're looking into adding a rowing machine. (Because winter will be long . . . )

2 -- I've started doing online workouts. I've already explained about my now-daily yoga sessions with Adriene, but I'm also using the Peloton app for strength training. (There are hundreds upon hundreds of non-bike class choices on Peloton. You don't need a bike to purchase the monthly classes/app.) I'm surprised by how much I like working out this way, although I do miss the energy of the gym.

3 -- I walk. I mean, I used to walk the dogs in a more casual, focus-on-the-dogs way. But now? I WALK. I walk and I walk and I walk. JoJo and I have logged hundreds of miles since the Pandemic Times began. JoJo has never been in better shape!

So. I've adapted. I actually like being able to work out on my own schedule. That's a very nice benefit to working out on your own. Of course, that also means I need to be completely self-motivated. Would I prefer the gym? Absolutely -- if it weren't Pandemic Times. Might I return someday? Maybe. We'll see how things go.

For now, I'm happy. Sweating on my own in my basement!

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How about YOU? Are you finding it harder or easier to work out these days? Have you made adjustments to your fitness routine? What's working (or not) for you? Share your tips and tricks (or woes and frustrations) -- and I'll share them here in future posts!

Also -- stay tuned as I check back in with some of the people I've highlighed in fitness posts in the past. I'm interested in seeing what kind of changes they've made in their workout regimens 6 months into the Pandemic Times.

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Be sure to check out more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's today!

 


Shake Things Up Once In A While

We have a little patio right off the kitchen at our house. In the summertime, it's a true extension of our house; our outoor living room.

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(Here's Jenny, giving you a warm welcome earlier this summer.) It's comfortable and easy and there are patio lights hanging for evenings. Tom's grill is out there; my herb garden borders one side of the patio, and there is a garden path on the other side leading to a large garden bed.  Because it's on the east side of our house, it's shady in the afternoon and evening, and - somehow - always comfortable, even on the hottest days. Tom and I meet there every evening for a drink on the patio.

But the other night? We shook things up!

You see . . . we have another patio in our garden. It's in a more remote corner, and far from the kitchen (although easily accessible through a slider in our basement). We call it "Tom's garden" -- because Tom built the brick patio and put in a small retaining wall to make the space happen in the first place.

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It's kind of a ... secret garden.
Secluded and private -- and cool and shady, there under the "umbrella" of a golden redbud tree.

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Earlier this week, we decided do something different . . . to meet in "Tom's garden" for drinks instead of on the patio. It was so nice back there. Such a treat to shake things up -- just a little bit.

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(Yeah. Tom built a fire pit. But we don't really use it.) (Long story.)

Sitting there, relaxing, we realized we were seeing our yard from a whole different perspective. It got me thinking about . . . what we do out of habit and routine. And how a shift of location - even just a slight shift - can help you see things in whole new ways.

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Like . . . I had no idea you could see our tri-color beech tree from that back patio! Such a lovely surprise in the very early evening light.

Anyway. This is a long and rather drawn out way to say that -- especially these days - it's important to shake things up however we can. Use my patio story as a reminder to . . . 

  • break out of your daily patterns and habits
  • try something just slightly different: move to a different room -- or chair or corner
  • see things from a new angle

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Give it a try! Shake things up!

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(Can this really loose ramble of a post qualify as a Three on Thursday post? Maybe?) Be sure to check out Carole's blog today for more Three on Thursday fun.