Soundtrack of My Life

Right Now - March 2016

March came in like a lion . . . but it's (pretty much) going out like a lamb.

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I know spring -- and especially early spring (like . . . March) is fickle.  But I'm sure ready for the Real Deal to begin!

Here's what's happing for me . . . Right Now.

Watching  Well.  Nothing on television.  Because I've decided to move into a cave until the ugliness of the presidential campaign is behind us.  (I do come out to vote.)  (And watch movies.)

Reading  In my ears: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (the 4th in this excellent quartet; I'm going to miss this series after I read this one);  in print: The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (good; compelling; but . . . well.  Confusing Bible names throw me off.)

Knitting  An adorable little toddler pullover for a great-niece-in-law (Tom's brother's son's daughter).  I missed making her a baby sweater (because timing) -- so need to hurry and get this toddler sweater off the needles before she grows some more!

Listening to  Bruce Hornsby.  (We'll be seeing him in concert as part of the Gilmore Piano Festival next month.)

 

Dreading  Taxes.  This weekend.  They WILL be done.  (And that is all I'm gonna say about that.)

Drinking  Chocolate milk.  Red wine.  Whisky.  (But not together.)

Planning  I'm creating my "Plant Watch List" of things I want for my garden this year.  I do this each year -- and it's a great way for me to stay loyal to my garden plan.  (Because it's so tempting to just start buying every pretty bloom I see.  And especially in the spring, when I'm starved for blooms.)

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Looking Forward to  Riding my new birthday bike.  Something new . . . a bit of a risk . . . but certainly - adventures ahead!

Humming  Bennie and the Jets.  (Yeah.  Still.)  (I tried to embed a video, but they're all restricted.  You'll have to sing it on your own.)  (I'm sure you already are. . . )  

Itching to  Do some sewing.  A copy of Merchant & Mills new Workbook (long ago pre-ordered) arrived in my mailbox yesterday.

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Delighted by  Tea Drops.  My sister sent me a box for my birthday.  Tasty.  Cool.  And they work just the way they say they will!

Organizing  I continue chipping away at organizing my digital photos.  It's a giant task -- and may never be truly complete.  But I'm working at it.  (It's made me just put my "real" camera aside for the time being.  Because, really.  I don't want more photos to organize right now.)

Enjoying Thunderstorms!  When they aren't violent, I just love a good thunderstorm.  

Celebrating  The end of an era and the beginning of something new.  ;-)

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

 


Still Standing

Tom and I drove to Grand Rapids last night for a concert.

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Elton John!

(As you can see, our seats were not terribly close.)  (But we were lucky to have seats.  This concert sold out in 15 minutes.)

It was just fabulous!  All of my favorites!  (Let's just say . . . I'll be humming Elton John tunes for weeks to come.)

Here's a shot of the crowd during Candle in the Wind.

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And then I got all into it and started waving my phone around with everyone else.  But I forgot I still had the camera on, and took this picture by mistake.

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The whole night was pretty awesome!

I'm tired this morning . . . but I'm Still Standing  (yeah, yeah, yeah . . . )

 


Did I Build This Ship to Wreck?

Let's have a little music to set the mood today!  

 

Way, way back . . . in early September.  Like . . . about the time we were shutting down the cottage Up North for the season.  Back before . . . I visited Carole.  Or went to Rhinebeck with Patty.  Before NaNoBloPo.  And Thanksgiving.  And Christmas.  And the bleak, snowy days of winter.  Before Valentine's Day.  Before the crocus popped up in my garden . . . 

I started knitting this sweater.

And it went on.  And on.  And on.

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

Did I drink too much?

Was I losing touch?

Did I build this ship to wreck?

No.

It was just tedious.

But, thanks to Margene's encouragment (she had knit one of her own, you see; and I had seen it with my own eyes . . . and even touched it), I continued on.  And, thanks to Kathy's prompting me to "finish before Easter" . . . well, I carried on!

And.  I'm really glad I did!

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Because Margene was right!  I DO love it!

I'm so glad I didn't go down with my ship.

(Ravelry details here.)


A Few of My Favorite (Random) Things

When I heard about this week's Ten on Tuesday topic from Carole, a certain song from a certain musical popped into my head.  I'll spare you the ear worm, though, and get right down to business with a few of my favorite things, random style.

(And in case that ear worm snuck in anyhow, lets counter it with this fun performance.)

 

1 - Favorite Time to Wake Up - 7:00 am.  Left to my own devices, I almost always wake up at 7:00 am.  I doesn't always work out that way, though.  (Because life.)

2 - Favorite Thing to Wear - Yoga pants.  (Oh, yeah, baby.  Every. Day.)

3 - Favorite Orchestra Instrument - Cello.  (And Smooth Criminal is my favorite Michael Jackson tune.  So . . . bonus.)

4 - Favorite Font - Calibri.  (Unless page-limited.  Then it's Arial Narrow for the win!)

5 - Favorite Fitness Activity - Swimming.  (A good, long swim pretty much "re-sets" everything - and that's another win.)

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6 - Favorite Lotion - Lavender Body Butter by Kalamazoo's own Opulent Blends.  (This stuff is great -- especially with winter dryness exacerbated by my frequent swimming.)

7 - Favorite Condiment - Mustard.  Almost every day, I make a little turkey-and-swiss sandwich for lunch.  And I always blast it with mustard.  (Yum.)

8 - Favorite NPR Program - The Moth.  (Love The Moth.)

9 - Favorite Beverage - Wine.  (A nice cab, please.)

 

10 - Favorite Music - Deathcab for Cutie. (For today, at least.)

How about YOU?  What are your favorite things . . . right now?

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Join the fun!  See what everyone else has to say . . . here.

 

 


Right Now - January 2016

January.  
Of all the months, I think you are my least favorite.  
Dark.  Cold.  Bleak.  
And really, really long.

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The daylight is getting longer, though.  I'm even starting to notice.

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

Watching - My Oscar-nominated-movie-watching binge is nearly complete.  Bridge of Spies will be available on DVD next week.  (We missed that one when it was in the theaters last fall.)  That leaves me with Mad Max: Fury Road.  Tom has already seen it, so I'll be watching by myself.  (Keith received this movie as a Christmas gift, and everyone -- except me -- watched it during the holidays.  If I had known it was an Oscar-contender, I would've suffered through it then.  As it is . . . well, I need to watch now.)  For the record, my favorite this year is Spotlight, followed by The Big Short.

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Reading - I'm sort of at a reading low-point right now.  I'm reading H is for Hawk . . . and really not liking it very much.  (Very disjointed and kind of whiney . . . and as much as I like birds of prey, I'm not so sure how I feel about falconry.)  Also reading Last Friends, the final novel in the Old Filth trilogy.  (Unfortunately, it's the weakest of the three.)  I'm also avoiding reading my book group selection for the month, as it doesn't appeal to me in any way.  (Maybe I'll just show up and drink the wine this month.)  (It happens.)  On the upside . . . I read The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra.  Wow.  This was the best book I've read in a very long time, and - even though it's only January - might end up as the best of the year for me.

Knitting - I am still c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g along on my Henley with a Twist sweater.  (I only have the front to complete, and I've got a good start.)  (So slow, though.  Tiny yarn.  Small needles.  And bitsy cables -- every 8th row.)    I did knit two pair of Trip Mitts (one for me; one for my niece).  Such a perfect palate-cleanser.  And I am ready to Bang Out a Sweater next week (ha!) in the Mason Dixon Knitting Stopover KAL.  (Don't hold your breath.)  (But I really need a WIN here.)

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Listening to - Guided meditations.  While some are just too corny for words not to my taste, others are perfect and really add to my daily meditation practice.

Dreading - This happens every year at this time.  My yoga instructor goes to Mexico for the month of February.  (And this year, she actually added the last week in January.)  I hate this.  Because I am not so fond of the sub.

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Drinking - Peppermint tea.  Every afternoon.

Planning - My Month-of-Letters strategy.  (Remember, if you'd like to receive a letter from me in February, please see the sidebar to email me your address.)

Humming - (I blame Carole.)  (Said with much love.)

 

Itching to - Bang Out a Sweater!  (Because lemming.) 

Organizing - Myself . . . using a Bullet Journal.  I've been intrigued by this way of journaling/calendar-ing for years -- and decided to try it (in earnest) this year.  So far, so good.  (Maybe I'll blog about it soon.)

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Delighted by - My grocery store amaryllis.  This is my second set of blooms.  (Not bad for $10.)

Needing to - Get a load of stuff to Goodwill.  I'm Very Good at sorting and deciding; not so good about getting it in my car to drop it off.

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Enjoying - My watercolor class.  But oh.my.god.  So hard!  I need so much practice.  I waste so much watercolor paper.  (Fun.  But very humbling.)

Looking Forward To - My sister and I just booked our next trip!  This summer:  Scotland and Ireland.  It's a long way off -- but so cheering to think about.

Celebrating - The end of January.  So long.  So dark.  And even though February is much the same, it is short.  And has chocolate in the middle.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

 


Kalamazoo . . . We've Got Falcons

Okay.  So, technically, I live in Portage, Michigan.  (That's where I pay taxes.  And my kids attended the Most Excellent Portage schools.)  But I'm only two blocks from the Portage/Kalamazoo border, and I've always more closely identified with Kalamazoo.  So I consider my community . . . Kalamazoo.

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(Our meager skyline.)

Ten interesting things about Kalamazoo . . . 

1 - Home of Bell's Brewery and The Eccentric Cafe.  (Need I say more?) - And, really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many top-quality breweries in town.  Enough that Kalamazoo has it's own Beer Week in January every year.

2 - Kalamazoo is a college town, with both a major public school - Western Michigan University, and a highly-regarded private, liberal arts college - Kalamazoo College (or "K" as it's known locally) in the city.

3 - Kalamazoo has an interesting past . . . as the home of both Checker Cab and Gibson guitar.  (Although both companies are gone now, their legacies still show up in unique and interesting ways throughout the city.)

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4 - Kalamazoo is located right on I-94, putting it in easy driving range of both Detroit and Chicago.  In fact, Kalamazoo is located pretty much half-way between the two cities, making day-trips easy.

5 - There are several Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Kalamazoo.  (Two separate neighborhoods.  One is quite close to mine - we've been to a party in one of those homes.  The other is a bit out of town, but still in the area.)

 

6 - The 90s band The Verve Pipe is from Kalamazoo.  (Even though the video clip I'm using says "from East Lansing."  It was really Kalamazoo.  They just went to school in East Lansing.)  Someone else you may recognize - Derek Jeter - is also from Kalamazoo.  He played baseball at Kalamazoo Central High School, and still does a lot of charitable work with kids in the community.  

7 - Kalamazoo is a relatively small town (4th largest city in Michigan) -- but we sure have a lot of top-notch arts and cultural organizations and opportunities.  (Theatre, music, visual arts.)  It's also a sort of literary hotspot -- many writers live and write here, including Jaimy Gordon, who won the National Book Award in 2010 for her novel Lord of Misrule.

8 -- Kalamazoo is also very science-based.  Formerly the home of Upjohn Pharmaceuticals (all but gutted now, thanks to layers of mergers and eventual decimation by Pfizer) (sorry;  just gonna say it), the community still values science and science education.  (Really -- there might be more scary smart science nerds here, per capita, than anywhere else in the world.)

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9 - Kalamazoo has an INCREDIBLE farmer's market.  The community has totally embraced the farm-to-table concept, and supports "locavore" restaurants, grocery stores, a year-round food co-op, and this amazing farmer's market.  (The photo above only shows about a quarter of the market.)

10 - And . . . we've got peregrine falcons!  Tom's office window faces the building where the falcons hang out.  He can watch them fly!  (And once, he watched himself turn on the light in his office on the "falcon cam.")

I love living in Kalamazoo -- it's a pretty cool place.  What do YOU like about your community?

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We Will Never Be Here Again

It seems a bit odd ... to grieve over people you never met and didn't know.

But that's where I am.

  

I didn't know David Bowie.

I never met Glenn Frey.

But I know how they made me feel.  

When I was a teenager . . .
And wasn't quite sure who I was anymore.
And wasn't sure who my friends were.  
And didn't think anyone would ever like me -- for being me.  
And never felt as alone . . . as I felt in a group.  
Well.  There was David Bowie.  Or the Eagles.  To see me through.

So, this past week?  Well, it feels like some really old friends are gone.  Not just celebrities-I-never-met.

Because I met myself.

Through their music.


I Can't Help Myself

Soundtrack . . . 

  

So, my knitting has languished . . . since about October.

I'm knitting a sweater, and I know I'm going to love it when it's finished.  But right now . . . it's turned into a slog.  

It's kind of like . . . eating your vegetables.

You know it's good for you.

But sometimes . . . you just want a treat!

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Gale Zucker's Trip Mitts turned out to be just the sweet-treat I needed.

Sugar pie, honey bunch.

I can't help myself.  (Because you can't eat just one. . . )

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(Ravelry details here.)


Jiving Us That We Were VooDoo

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.  I felt very puny as a human.  I thought, fuck that - I want to be superhuman."                                                                                                                         ----- David Bowie

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Like many of you, I was shocked and sad yesterday . . . when I turned on my computer and learned that David Bowie had died.  He was such a vibrant part of the music and culture of my growing-up years, and I feel so very grateful to have "come of age" in the time of David Bowie.  (While my parents didn't "get" the Beatles . . . they REALLY didn't "get" David Bowie!

This week, Carole has us talking about our Ten Favorite David Bowie Songs.  I imagine the lists will be quite similar -- with a few surprises here and there.  

 

Mine . . . 

1 - Space Oddity - Ground control to Major Tom!  When your husband's name is Tom . . . and he's a bit of a head-in-the-clouds scientist . . . Well.  You just gotta love this one.

2 - Changes - This song was my introduction to David Bowie -- back in 7th grade.  I loved it then; I love it now.

3 - Ziggy Stardust - In 8th grade I knew all the words to this one -- which I sang at the top of my lungs with my swim team pals.  (And you know which lyrics we sang the loudest, don't you?)

4 - Suffragette City - Another big favorite among my swim team pals!  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

5 - Young Americans - David Bowie's Young Americans album defined my junior year in high school.  I can remember driving "the strip" on Friday nights with my friends, singing this song.  Loudly.  And with David Bowie-worthy theatrics.

6 - Fame - Oh, yes.  (See Young Americans, above.)

7 - Golden Years - This song came out slightly later in my junior year of high school.  I remember we loved the distinctive beat.  (David Bowie was very intertwined with my high school years.)

 

8 - Under Pressure -  Okay.  So, technically, this is a Queen song (and, truth be told, I've always thought of it as a Queen song), but I'm including it anyway.  I always loved this one - and it has the double-bonus of reminding me of Brian's high school hockey games -- because it was a staple of the hockey arena soundtrack during tense moments.

9 - Modern Love - Okay.  So I kind of loved the 80s.  This one reminds me of Tom's grad school years and early M-TV.

10 - Let's Dance - Put on your red shoes and dance the blues!  Oh, yeah baby.  

 

Now Ziggy played guitar. . . 

How about YOU?  What are your favorite David Bowie songs?

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Right Now . . . December 2015

You've been such a notable month, December.  Full of activity.  Warmer than ever.  And gone in a flash!  (Of course, you're also ushering in the new year with ice and sleet and snow.  Cue winter . . . )

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Here's what's happening . . . RIGHT NOW.

Watching . . . Movies.  All the movies!  Tom and I have been on a movie tear lately (because this is the season for all the movies we've been waiting to see).  Before Christmas we saw Spotlight (excellent; my favorite so far), Room (good - but the book was better), and Brooklyn (great - and far better than the book).  This week (so far!) we've seen the new Star Wars (so fun), The Big Short (excellent, plus awesome soundtrack), and Joy (Jennifer Lawerence is great; much better movie than the reviews would have you believe).

Reading . . . In the ears -- Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (Elena Ferrante) (Neapolitan #3); on the page -- H is for Hawk (Helen MacDonald).  Earlier this week, I finished the challenging, heart-breaking, and eye-opening Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates).  (Really . . . everyone should read this one.)  I'm also enjoying my new Christmas gift cookbook Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix.

Knitting . . . I've just picked up my never-ending sweater again.  (You know why it's never-ending don't you?  Because I'm never-knitting. . . )  (I WILL finish, though.)

Listening to . . . a Solstice playlist.  Tom and I hosted a Solstice party this year, and we created a special playlist for the party.  It's, well . . . very eclectic!  We chose songs about the sun, sunshine, light, darkness, winter . . . and burning (as in candles) -- and it beats the heck out of Christmas music!

 

Dreading . . . the January People at the gym.  (They've already arrived, actually.)  (I hate January at the gym.)

Drinking . . . Ballast Point Sculpin.   (A new discovery.)  (YUM.)

Planning . . .  How to move forward with my intentions for 2016.  I have some cool things in mind, and I'm looking forward to putting some of those plans and ideas into action.

Humming . . . this one, from the Gorrillaz.  (I have it on several playlists, but heard it again in The Big Short the other day.)

 

Wondering . . . what the new year will bring!  It's always kind of amazing to look back and see all that happened in the year just ending - expected and unexpected.  So I'm just wondering what will come with the new year.

Itching to . . . just sit and knit for awhile.  But there are so many other "shiny objects" to play with right now . . . 

Organizing . . . my digital photos.  Ugh.  What a monumental undertaking.  My advice:  DON'T store all your photos (like. . . for years) on your hard drive.  And, really.  Get rid of the bad ones and dubplicates right away.  (Just sayin.)

Delighted by . . . a new Alabama Chanin kit I received for Christmas from Tom.  (He got a big hint.)  (It's the wrap skirt!)

Needing to . . . clean out my refrigerator.  And clean my oven, too.

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Enjoying . . . Erin and Keith!  Thanks to an extended vacation, I've got them through the weekend!

Celebrating . . . the end of a challenging year.  (Although we've certainly risen to the occasion!)

Looking forward to . . . returning to my Regular Life . . . after all the Holiday Madness!

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . RIGHT NOW?