Early Hours

I get up early every morning.  On purpose . . . with no purpose.  The house is quiet.  It's dark these days.  I grab a cup of coffee.  And my knitting.


I start each morning this way . . . with just a little bit of knitting.  Enough for me to center myself.  It's a kind of meditation, really.  Just stitch after stitch, one at a time.  Not much thinking.  Just the doing.

And then, after my coffee and this bit of knitting, I'm ready to move on with the rest of my day.

How about you?  How do you begin . . . in the morning?

Shifting Gears . . . But Just a Little

Over the summer, I've been writing quite a few posts about the importance of strength training.  I've tried to convince y'all to include strength training in your regular workouts.  I've suggested a few workouts you can try at home, and I've described some tools and equipment you might want to have on hand to help with your strength training workouts.

Today, I'm going to shift gears a little.  Just a little.  Oh, I still think strength training is vital -- and especially as we prepare ourselves for more graceful and active aging.  But today I want to talk about . . . functional fitness.

(Such a lovely shot . . . but . . . I notice the benefits of functional fitness most when I'm working in the garden.)

Functional fitness . . . is, basically, exercise that helps your muscles move together to improve daily living.  It's about training your body to handle the things you do every day (bending over to tie your shoe, lifting grocery bags out of the car, reaching up for something on a high shelf, pushing a wheelbarrow, lifting a child, getting out of a chair) or to prepare you to react well in unexpected life situations (getting up off the ground after a fall, preventing a trip on the stairs).

Most of us don't injure ourselves when we're just working out at the gym -- focusing on a specific muscle group or working in a more controlled environment.  Nope . . . we injure ourselves when we're doing everyday things  . . . working in the garden or shoveling snow or moving furniture or painting the ceiling.  We twist in the wrong way or we trip over a hose or we miss a step or we lift with our back instead of our legs.

Functional fitness exercises can help make everyday movement easier. . . by mirroring the things we do in our daily activities.  These kinds of exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time, and get you crossing planes (side to side or front to back movement) and working on different levels -- just like you do in everyday activities.

Most fitness classes at the gym incorporate functional fitness work.  Trainers, too, emphasize functional fitness exercises.  Here are several exercises you can do at home as part of your workout.  (Here's another workout, in case you're looking for even more ideas.)  (And here's a list of 7 functional exercises to do every day from SilverSneakers -- the folks who specialize in fitness for the senior set.)


Functional fitness makes living an "everyday life" easier.  We can work more efficiently with less effort -- AND with less likelihood of injury -- when we prep our bodies to do the work!

So.  What do you think?  Do you incorporate functional fitness exercises into your workouts?


Be sure to visit Bonny today for our first Read With Us post about this quarter's book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.  I hope you'll read along with us and join the discussion next month!

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!)