Just Life

Neighborhood Joy

(Today's post features Really Bad Photos.)
(But it's a nice story all the same.)

In my neighborhood, our mailboxes are all out at the street at the end of our driveways.  That way, the mail deliverers can just drive up and pop the mail in our boxes, easy-peasy.  A lot of people have little garden beds around their mailbox posts, so in the spring and summer I like checking out the plantings to see what's blooming. (I often have to resist the urge to pull other people's weeds, but that's another story). It's a bit early for all that right now, though, so mostly I don't notice the mailboxes at this point in the season.


Last Saturday, I was out for a walk in my neighborhood with JoJo.

As we were walking, something brightly colored caught my eye.  Too early for blooms!  Turns out . . . it was a little painted rock at the base of a mailbox post.


As we walked a little further, I noticed another . . . 


I found painted rocks at the base of signposts, too. . .


They weren't at every mailbox, nor were they at every post.  But there were enough of them that . . . I started looking!


There was even one at the foundation of our neighborhood "landmark" (a big metal barn just down the road) . . . 


I have no idea who placed these painted rocks, or if they're meant to be part of some activity for kids in the neighborhood, or a sort of Easter egg hunt maybe???  All I know . . . is that they brought me great joy as we walked!

I was kind of sad . . . that I hadn't noticed  a painted rock at the base of MY mailbox.  

But when I got to my corner, I caught a little flash of orange!


We live on a corner, and have a city-installed brick retaining wall next to the sidewalk (which the snowplows hit every winter, so the city has to replace the bricks every spring) -- and there was a sweet little orange rock on the retaining wall.

I was SO excited to find it there!  A bright spot on my corner!


I have no idea who is behind these bright and charming painted rocks in my neighborhood (probably a crafty mom cooped up with her kids and desperately looking for things to do. . . ), but they have been a wonderful sight on my walks!

These days, it's really all about the little things that brighten our days.  
(And especially unexpected painted rocks embellished with glitter and pipe cleaners!)

Ritual of Spring?

This weekend, we'll be "springing ahead" with our clocks.  In less than 2 weeks now (it's March 19 this year), we'll be celebrating the Spring Equinox.  The birds are singing, and I've got daffodil shoots pushing through the ground.  Spring is definitely on the way!


Let's talk about spring cleaning for a moment.


Is spring cleaning part of your annual spring ritual?
What do you consider "spring cleaning?"
Do you have any tactics, tips, tricks or simply-must-dos?

I want to know -- and I'd really like to hear from you.  Please share your spring cleaning thoughts/tactics/tips in the comments.  I will synthesize them into a helpful spring cleaning blog post later this month.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!  (And don't forget to set your clocks ahead!)

So Much Better

Some of you are probably already familiar with (which means "following," of course) Stasia Savasuk.  And if you're not?  Well.  You just might want to!  Stasia is a "style coach" for the "everyday gal" -- and she says things that are just . . . outrageously wonderful. . . about finding your own personal style and loving the body you have right now.  (Because, as she says all the time, "your body is not the problem.")

Really.  Read her story.  You might want to watch her TedTalk.  And then follow her on Instagram (because she's hilariously on point).  And sign up for her newsletter (although that link wasn't working for me this morning. . . ).  She even hosts Stasia's Style School - an online course - if you're so inclined.  But just listen to what she is saying about matching up your inside . . . with what you're choosing to wear on the outside.  Because it's something we ALL should hear.

Last week on Instagram, Stasia had a perfectly fine sweatshirt that just didn't make her feel good while she was wearing it.  She was going to donate it and get it out of her closet.  But then she stopped . . . and asked what if I cut it up and made it fit/feel differently?  And . . . it worked better for her.

So I tried it.

I had this sweatshirt that was perfectly fine.  But everytime I put it on . . . I ended up taking it off.  Because it just didn't feel right. Here it is . . .


Perfectly fine.  But . . . not.

I think it was the turtleneck.  I am not a fan of turtlenecks, generally.  And especially not on a sweatshirt.  But I also didn't like the contrast on the cuffs.  The seam felt weird and the cuffs were wide around my wrists . . . so they were always getting in the way of things.


(Looks like I'm picking my nose . . . but I'm really trying to show you the turtleneck. . . )

So I cut around the seamline of the turtleneck . . . And I cut off the contrast cuffs.


Much better!  It felt so much better -- and looked more like . . . something I would wear.  

But still not quite.

So I decided it would look better without that contrast at the bottom.  And maybe . . . cropped.


So.  Snip-snip!


Now I have something I WILL wear to the gym!

Thanks, Stasia!  (Do check out her website/Instagram feed.  She has a great story to tell!)

And have you ever taken a pair of scissors to something in your closet before???  
I highly recommend it!  (Because what have you got to lose?)


Be sure to head over to Carole's today.  She's hosting the first of our 3 Read With Us discussion posts!  We can't wait to hear what you think.





Happy Friday, everyone.  The world is looking sunnier this morning (even though its really not) because I am definitely on the upswing!


After gallons of orange juice, many cans of Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup, mugs upon mugs of tea, and more sleep than I usually get in a month . . . I am feeling (nearly) human again.  I've even declared myself ready-for-prime-time, and I'm headed out for a much-need and already twice-rescheduled haircut.*  (The first reschedule was not due to The Sickness.  But the second one was.)  

I especially want to thank you all for your kind words of support and sympathy during The Sickness.  It helped to know you all were out there, cheering me on and sending the juju.  XOXO

And now . . . let's get out there and have a great weekend, shall we?


*About that haircut.  I've been working on growing out my WAY too short pixie cut for about a year now.  It's slow going, and my hair stylist has been helping me keep things looking (pretty) good through the tedious grow-out phase (as is right, as she is the one to blame for the WAY too short pixie cut in the first place) (you'll look like Jamie Lee Curtis she said) (uh . . . not really, so thanks for that).  Anway, I have now reached the most awkward stage of the grow-out . . . The-I-Look-Like-the-Quaker-Oat-Man-and-I-Can't-Do-a-Thing-With-It Phase.  (Help!)


Trying Not to Whine

So.  I'm working hard right now on . . . 

Not whining.
Being grateful for incremental improvement.
Accepting a slow recuperation with grace and dignity.


But I gotta tell you . . . having the flu (because surely that's what this is) (and, yes, I did have a flu shot) is just a bummer.  I'm reading a lot, knitting a little.  Napping.  And rescheduling every single blasted thing on my calendar this week.

Getting better.  Slowly.
Still being watched over by these two.  (Although as you can see, they're sleeping on the job right now.)

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Since my life is rather dull at present, let me show you something more interesting!  

Tom left last Friday for a fishing adventure in Argentina.  
Again? you ask.  Didn't he do that already?
Yes.  Twice.
But this time, he went to a new and different place to fish in Argentina.  And he's fishing for other kinds of fish.


The other 2 times he's gone to Argentina, he went to Patagonia -- where the yellow arrow is pointing (thereabouts) -- and he fished for giant rainbow trout that live in a big lake in a very cold and windy remote part of Argentina.

This time, he's up near Bueno Aires -- where the bright green arrow is pointing -- and he is on the Paraná River on the Mothership (so called because that's where they sleep and eat, and then they take smaller boats to fish on the river each day).  Now, he is fishing for golden dorado, and the weather is very, very hot.


He is having a VERY good time.  (And is not at all sick.)


He even caught a piranha!  YIKES!


So.  I guess we could say . . . My husband went to Argentina, and all I got was this lousy flu!

Watch Out, Everyone: It's 2020 Tom

Okay.  In describing my husband, Tom, I'd use words like . . . adventurous, curious, adaptable, fun-loving, and open.

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I'd also use words like . . . smart, thoughtful, prudent, reasonable, and steady.

(He's a good guy, all around.)

He doesn't make knee-jerk decisions.  He considers options and thinks through scenarios.  He does his homework.  He takes his time.  But once he decides, well . . . he decides!  (If you are familiar with Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies, Tom is the ultimate Questioner.  With a capital Q.)

When we're going to make Major Decision (buying a new car, for example, or booking a cruise to Alaska), we talk about it and think about it and "look into it" and generally let the decision simmer for awhile.  Usually we know that - ultimately we'll do . .  whatever . . . but we want to make sure.  Think it over some more.  Weigh things out.  Agonize.  Feel GOOD about our decision. (Because I'm a Questioner, too, you see.)

So.  See if this discussion fits the profile. . . 

(Scene:  Brushing teeth together on the evening of New Year's Day.)

Tom:  I think we should go to Italy.
Kym:  Okay.

(Scene:  Next day, over lunch.)

Kym:  I found a couple of trip options for Italy.
Tom:  Let's see them.

(Scene:  Minutes later, staring at laptop.)

Tom:  I like that one.
Kym:  Me, too.
Tom:  Book it.
Kym: (stunned silence)

(I know, right???)


We're off to Italy next September.  And we didn't agonize over it for a month before deciding to do it!  (So unlike us.)  When I mentioned to Tom at dinner time that I still couldn't believe we had done that, he looked at me with the biggest of his big Tom-grins and said . . . 

"This is 2020 Tom!"

(I think I may need a safety helmet.)


Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!



"Begin as you mean to go on."
 --- Charles H. Spurgeon

Openin 2 copy

I had never heard that quote above until I started reading blogs many years ago.  New Year's Day was never a big deal in my family growing up, and I continued that not-a-tradition as I grew up and established my own family.  New Year's Day was simply . . . an ending . . . for me. The end of the "holiday cycle."  The day we took down the Christmas decorations.  The time to get ready to go back to school or back to work.  Usually, by the time New Year's Day rolled around, I was exhausted and often sick with a cold -- and just ready for the whole "thing" to be over!

But as I grew older and my kids grew up and "the holidays" didn't feel so much like a burden, I decided to change my thinking - and start some new traditions for myself.  I embraced New Year's Day as . . . a quiet day -- but a quiet day with purpose!  I took on the concept of beginning-as-I-meant-to-go-on.

And so my day yesterday was a good start to a new year.

  1. I took care of myself . . . with rest and exercise; stretching and meditating; good foods and fresh air.
  2. I got myself organized . . . by updating my calendar, clearing my work spaces, and taking care of some nagging paperwork.
  3. I did some dabbling . . . with pencils and sketchbook and thread and yarn.

Great ways to begin.
And definitely ways I mean to go on.

And maybe you can even guess what project I (finally) cast on. . .  if I show you the yarn!


(Because . . . it's time.)


The top photo above?  It's dog footprints in the snow . . . melting-and-refreezing on my patio.



It's All About Adaptation

According to various websites, hibernation is . . .

  • "a way for many creatures – from butterflies to bats – to survive cold, dark winters without having to forage for food or migrate to somewhere warmer. Instead, they turn down their metabolisms to save energy." (Discover Wildlife)
  • "a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in endotherms." (Wikipedia)
  • "a state of greatly reduced metabolic activity and lowered body temperature adopted by certain mammals as an adaptation to adverse winter conditions." (Britanica.com)

Why this little lesson on . . . hibernation?


It has suddenly become winter here in my corner of the world.  Like . . . January-winter in early November.  Very. Cold.   Couple that with the ever-increasing darkness, and  . . . well . . . I feel like it's time to hibernate!  Or at least to hunker down inside.


My life changes a good deal when the cold settles in.  My entire diet changes, for example. My food cravings are different.  I cook and prepare meals I would never even dream of making in the warm months.  I sleep more.  I go to bed earlier and I'm much more inclined to take a nap now and again.  I wear shoes -- and socks (!) -- and so many layers.  I bring out the twinkle lights and the candles.  I have more frequent tea-breaks.  I escape to the movies.

I definitely adapt!  
(It may not - technically speaking - be hibernation.  But it's pretty darn close!)

How about YOU?  What do you do . . . to get through the cold, dark winter?  


And Knitters?  If you haven't already seen it (and already ordered it. . . ), be sure to visit Ann and Kay today and check out their newest Field Guide.  Because . . . it's a Stunner!  (And, well . . . I can clearly see that there will be more Not-A-Gray-Cardigans in my near knitting future.)

Enjoy your weekend.
See you on Monday!

Circling Way Back

Most of you reading this blog know that I have two kids.  And now two kids-in-law.  But . . . for a 10-month period in 2008-2009, I actually had a third kid!  (Four . . . if you count Tom.)

Graduation 2009 013

(And we often count Tom.)

For the 2008-2009 school year, we were the host family for Dominik, a young man from the Czech Republic.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us, and Dominik was a great fit for our family.  Erin was away at college in Ohio, so she floated in and out back then, but Brian (who was a junior in high school that year) and Dominik got along famously.  Dominik was eager to experience life in an American high school with an American family, and we were eager to share it with him.  

Dominik played hockey on the high school hockey team with Brian.  (There he is, number 21.)


He and Brian had a great time together (sometimes maybe . . . a little too great. . . ).  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joking around that year -- a real sense of adventure for all of us.

2009 chicago trip 6

We did a bit of traveling -- to show Dominik as much of America as we could.  We went to Chicago and Washington DC and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Wash DC May 09 154

There was a skiing adventure in Colorado for spring break.

Spring break and dominik prom 020

In the end, Dominik had a full American high school experience here:  football games and pep rallies, the hockey team, exam week, prom, graduation.  All of it.  He even dated an American girl while he was here!

A girl he stayed connected with . . . after he returned home to the Czech Republic.  And all through college.  And then through graduate school.  And even after he moved to Prague to begin his career.

And you know what's happening now?  Dominik . . . and that same girl he met and dated here in high school . . . are getting married!  (Talk about circling back!)  We're so excited!

Brian and Tom and I met Dominik last Saturday for dinner, which was wonderful.  (Here they are together last Saturday at Bells . . . all grown up and everything!)


And today . . . is the wedding!  
(I feel sort of like . . . cupid.)
(But mostly . .I can't wait to meet Dominik's real mom.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!