Throwback Thursday

A Thanksgiving Throwback


Tom and I started dating during the summer of 1979 . . . when we were both home for summer break.  I was between my sophomore and junior years at the University of Wyoming; he was heading into his senior year at Boise State University.

We headed back to our respective colleges in the fall -- but our relationship held through the distance.  We managed to visit back and forth about once a month (usually traveling by Amtrak), and our phone bills were pretty high.  We also wrote letters.  (Lots and lots of letters!)

At Thanksgiving, I decided to drive up to Boise (a 17 hour trip) to be with Tom.  (I found a couple of other UW students who wanted to go to Idaho Falls, so they helped pay for gas and shared the driving.)  It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family -- and the first time Tom and I would celebrate the holiday together.  

We took these pictures of each other before our dinner that day.

Tom at TG 1979
Tom at TG 1979

And what do we remember most about that glorious meal now . . . 36 years later?

  • Tom recalls that we didn't thaw the turkey (about a 9-pounder) in time -- and ended up leaving it out on the counter all night.  (And we lived to tell the tale!)
  • I remember that our attempt at gravy failed miserably -- and, in fact, settled into a horrific 3-layer conglomeration that was not edible at all.
  • We both remember that we'd eaten big chunks of pie (probably for breakfast), but hid that fact in the photos with a clever placement of the wine bottle.  (Remember that Almaden wine???)
  • I also remember that my Mom wasn't terribly keen about my driving that far - or my not being home for the holiday.  In the end, though (because she really liked Tom), she gave me her blessing -- and sent us the centerpiece for our table.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving -- and such fun to remember that holiday way back then!

Throwback Thursday: Good Chemistry

Last weekend, Tom and I quietly acknowledged a very special anniversary.


January 3 marked 30 years since the defense of Tom's PhD dissertation.  

That's his published dissertation, there on our bookshelves, between Principles and Applications of Organotransition Metal Chemistry and Advanced Organic Chemistry.

Tom's Dissertation Cover Page - Jan 7, 2015, 12-10 PM

On the one hand, it's so . . . unfathomable . . . to me that so much time has passed.  (Because I remember that time of our lives so vividly.)  But, on the other hand, it's not so unbelieveable after all.  (Because so much has happened since then.)

I actually didn't take any photos of Tom on that incredible, pinnacle of a day.  (And I did a lot of photo-documenting even then.  I just didn't do it very well . . . with my little Instamatic.)  But here are some throwback shots from that time in our lives.

Here's a (really bad) shot of Tom and one of his fellow students (now a chemistry professor himself) in the lab.

Tom in lab

Grad school . . . four-and-a-half years went by in a blur (although it was often a total slog) . . . coursework, TA-ing, cumulative exams, the dreaded "orals", hours-upon-hours (upon hours) in the lab.

Finally, when his boss agreed that he was "ready," the writing-up began in earnest.

Hard at work

They gave Tom an unused office in the chemistry building for him to use while writing up.  When looking back at this photo of Tom, hard at work, in "Thesis Headquarters" (as we called it), the first thing to notice . . . no computer!

Right.  Back in late 1984, PCs were not in general use yet.  No one we knew had one -- not even the university professors.  

Tom wrote his dissertation by hand on legal pads.

And his loving wife quit her day job to type it up -- on a word processor (really just a standard electric typewriter with a baby screen and a bit of memory)!

(And we're still married!)

(I also drew all the chemical structures in the dissertation - and there were MANY! - using stencils and drafting tools.  And lots of white out.  This was before any of the computer drawing programs were available.)  (Stone age, I'm telling you.) (And you can see that the typing was no picnic either.)


Drawings - Jan 8, 2015, 8-05 AM(I can't begin to explain how much work this all was.  Not only the intellectual work of doing the research and writing the dissertation . . . but also the emotional work of believing in yourself and pushing through.)

We "staged" this picture when Tom found this description of "the prototypical grad student" in CSU's student newspaper one day while he was writing up.

Prototypical grad student

(And he did subsist on caffeine and alcohol.  And a lot of pizza, as I recall.)

So.  Here we are, 30 years later.

Congratulations to my Palladium Mediated Mad Scientist.  WELL DONE!


Christmases Long, Long Ago


Check out these sweet little girls . . .
Waiting so patiently to open some gifts on Christmas Eve long, long ago!


(Based on our dresses and hairstyles -- not to mention my Mom's couch -- I'm guessing I was in 3rd grade and my sister in kindergarten . . . so this must be Christmas Eve 1967.)

In our family, my Grandparents always came to our house for dinner on Christmas Eve.  My mom was usually a wreck about it - and my sister and I were always crazed with excitement.  I could never understand my mom's stress when I was a child.  Because Christmas Eve.  (But now I totally get it, because Christmas Eve.)  Anyway . . . we got to open a few presents (to take the "edge" off) once my Grandparents arrived.  (The Real Deal - the big Christmas Rip-Fest - didn't happen at our house until Christmas morning.)

I was SO excited about Christmas when I was a kid.  (Best Day of the Year!!!)  
You can see it my eyes!




Throwback Thursday: Christmas Outfits

On Friday night, we'll be attending Tom's work Christmas party.  It's always a Very Nice party, and we're looking forward to a fun celebration.  As for me?  I'm desperately trying to figure out what to wear.  (Of course.)  I don't need to buy anything new or special, but I still want to put together Just The Right Look.  (Y'know?)

Which got me thinking about . . . "Christmas outfits."  Those special outfits of yesteryear that you wore through the holiday season. 

When we were little girls, my sister and I usually got something special to wear at Christmastime -- for family gatherings and school concerts and church events, etc.  These outfits were usually somewhat festive and definitely outside the realm of "everyday wear."  We're talking . . . red velveteen jumpers, lacy blouses, blue velveteen dresses.  Special.

But nothing -- absolutely nothing -- compared to the love we had for our pink lace pantsuits!!!

Scan 12

(Not hard to pick the sister-groups in this old family photo with my cousins!!!)

Christmas 1970.  I was in sixth grade . . . age 11 . . . and I thought those pink lace pantsuits were the Epitome of Groovy! I remember thinking I was As Cool as Marcia Brady.  I remember rocking the look at my 6th grade band concert -- the only girl in pants!!!!  And I remember feeling so special that Christmas Eve with my cousins!  (I've also got to admit that I loved my cousins "wet look" mini skirts and vests, too!  We were a stylin' group -- no doubt about it!)

Whatever I end up wearing to Tom's work party on Friday night, it won't hold a candle to my 1970 Christmas Outfit, that's for sure!!!


Throwback Thursday: Lessons from the Master

A year ago right now, I started running.  I did it on my own.  I didn't talk to anyone about it; I didn't ask anyone's opinion.  I just . . . decided to do it.  I put the Couch-to-5K app on my phone -- and ran.

Most people we know assume that Tom "finally convinced me." Or they figure we were looking to "spend more time together."

Both of these things are FALSE.

Yes.  Tom is a Runner.  (With a capital R.)  He's been running for nearly all of his life (since he was 13).

Young Tom Running
Here he is in 1975 in Houston at the National Junior Olympics (cross country).

He ran cross country and track in junior high . . . and in high school. . . and even in college.  

He encouraged me to give running a try -- way back in our first years together.  But it wasn't my thing, and he didn't push it.


He ran.  I did other things.  End of story.


Tom running
This is an All-Comers race to open the track season at Boise State. (Which is why he is wearing his high school singlet ... instead of a BSU uniform.)

And as far as our running "together"????  Ha!  It doesn't quite work that way!  Let's put it in perspective, here.  When we line up at the beginning of a 5K (which we may run . . . "together" . . . as in both of us are running), one of us lines up at the 10:00 minute/mile marker.  And the other of us lines up at the 6:00 minute/mile marker.

Which means . . . One of us is crossing the finish line . . . as the other of us is just heading into Mile 3!

So.  Running "together" is out! 

College Tom Running
Running a 10K road race while in college.

When I decided to start running last August, Tom was supportive and encouraging.  Not in a "rah-rah-you-can-do-it" way, and not in a bossy, coach-like way.  He just let me go at it on my own, without any interference or pressure.

And, because I've been watching him run for nearly 35 years, I've picked up a lot of tips and pointers about running along the way.  Some things, I learned from just watching Tom train and work out over the years, and some things, he's explained more recently. 

I call them . . . Lessons from the Master.

Steeplechase Tom
Running the steeplechase - Boise State University, circa 1978.

Here's what I've learned about running from Tom:

  • Do it.  Or Don't.  (Just don't whine about it.)
  • Stretch.  (Always.)
  • Drink a lot of water.  (Before and after.)
  • Wear the right shoes.  (Proper fit; replace often.)
  • Just get out there and run.  (Of course it hurts.  That's how it is.)
  • Recognize that some days you'll just feel like crap.  (Run anyway.)
  • Hills are good for you.  Run them.  (Shorten your stride and don't look at how far you have to go.)
  • Don't overdress.  (You're going to be hot, even when it's cold.)
  • Face oncoming traffic.  (Make sure drivers can see you -- and you can see them.)
  • Take advantage of shade and sprinklers when it's hot.  (And know where the bathrooms are along your route.)
  • Running on consecutive days is Not Fun.  (Build in some rest.)
  • Sometimes you get injured.  (Take time to heal.)
  • Mix it up.  (Different courses, different distances, workouts that are Not Running.)
  • Don't shower until you stop sweating.  (Pointless otherwise.)
  • The trend to running longer distances without regard to time is completely overrated.  (Just run.  Try your best.  Nothing wrong with a 5K.)
  • Fartleks.  (Fun to say.  Good to do.)

I'm still amazed that I'm running.  And probably even more amazed that . . . I kind of like it!  
(I think Tom is pretty surprised, too!)




Throwback Thursday: The Prophet of Weather

Many years ago, my Grandparents (now both passed on) were "downsizing" their long-time home in preparation for a move into an assisted living facility.  As is often the case with such transitions, they passed along their downsized possessions to various family members.

My Grandmother gave me her Godey Victorian Ladies china set - something I'd loved since I was a little girl.  (The teacups and saucers make me swoon.  Maybe I'll tell you about that another day.)  I also got some knick-knacks that will always remind me of the open display shelves in my Grandmother's kitchen.

I also picked through a box of oddments; things no one else was interested in having.  I chose this:


A strange little house; pretty ratty; something I don't recall ever seeing at my Grandparents' house before.  Just a piece of junk.  But, still.  I have a "thing" for houses and buildings . . . so I picked it up to add to my collection.  It ended up at our cottage -- fitting in quite well with the "rustic décor" Up North.

Turns out . . . it's a hygrometer (an instrument that measures the moisture in the air).

It predicts the weather.

And . . .it works!*

This label is still on the back:


It was sold as "The Swiss Weather Prophet" and was manufactured by the Keydel Company in Detroit.  A bit of Googling led to this ad . . . from the November 1921 issue of The Modern Woodman:

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 10.22.17 PM

Back in 1921, my Weather Prophet sold for $1.25!  (Now it fetches close to $30 on eBay.)

I'm betting, based on the dates, that the Weather Prophet I picked out of the junk box of my Grandparents' cast-offs probably actually belonged to one of my Great-Grandparents.  Maybe they thought it was a charming novelty, too!

I'm really happy that I rescued it!  With no TV or internet service up at our cottage, it's nice to have a little Weather Prophet of our own.

If the children come out of the doorway, we can look forward to a fair weather.

If both figures stay in their doorways, the weather will change.

But if the witch pops out of her door . . . watch out!  It's going to rain!

And, really . . . 


What more do you need?


* The thermometer seems to work, too.  It's just incredibly difficult to read.


Before and After

We look before and after, and pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those
that tell of saddest thought.

                                            --- Percy Bysshe Shelley


There are turning points . . . watershed events . . . defining moments . . . in our lives all the time.

Sometimes, we notice them right away.  But, sometimes, it takes a little time and perspective before we can really understand just how pivotal and important certain events are in our lives.

Whatever the watershed, it is marked by a definite before . . . and a definite after.

For me, the biggest turning point in my life (so far!) has been my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  The contrast between my before . . . and my after . . . is remarkable.


Maybe. Not.

Maybe . . . 

I'm just more aware.

I can just say that, for me, going through cancer and treatment -- and coming out the other side -- created a definite dividing line in my own life.  


Kind of Blue Fini 015


Although the whole cancer nightmare is something I could certainly do without, I can use it as a marker in my life . . . for the new and different and interesting things that have happened in the last five years.  Things that I may not have been open to . . . before.





Open-ness and sharing.

The liberating embrace of natural hair color.

A just-do-it sense of adventure.

A seeking . . . that just wasn't there . . . before.

Today . . . I celebrate my Five-Year-Blog-Anniversary.   Thanks to ALL of YOU . . . for being part of my after.  It's been a privilege and a pleasure to share my journey over the last five years with all of you.


Throwback Thursday: Talkin' Dirt(y)

(Yeah.  That got your attention!)

(I want to apologize to all of you who have commented over the last few days.  Because of the ongoing Typepad "issues," I am not receiving comments by email, which makes it difficult to respond to you.  Please know that I appreciate every comment and would love to send you a personal response.  Right now, though, Typepad is not making this easy.  Please hang in there with me -- and all of us with Typepad blogs.)


Five years ago, when I first started this blog, I had a few very nice garden beds . . . and a whole lotta plans and dreams!  During that long winter of chemo, I surrounded myself with garden books and landscaping magazines and plant palettes.  

I dreamed.

I schemed.

I drew.

I made lists.

In May 2009, my back yard looked like this . . .

Back fence design project 002

A whole swath of nothing!

And my front yard looked like this . . .

Front of house 002

as Tom and Brian and Dominik dug up all the foundation plantings along the front of the house.

I started planting. . .

Putting in the Garden May 2009 014

but things were a bit sparse!

The tiny little "puddle pond" was brand new. . .

Putting in the Garden May 2009 009

and I was still holding on to the misguided notion that I could have an "English cottage garden" in my way-too-sunny-and-windy side lot.

Garden Jun 4 2009 016

My garden has gone through amazing changes in the last five years!  More change than my growing-up-kids.  More change than my knitting.  More change than my hair style or attitude or reading habits!

My garden has been. . . 

dug up





torn out


The "whole swath" out in back?  (Note:  These photos are from last season.)




That ripped-out front foundation bed?


The "puddle-pond"?


It's there . . . bottom right. . . and has been joined by a second, larger pond, up the hill!


My failed cottage garden . . . has turned into a garden full of Michigan natives to attract bees and butterflies.


(Totally out of control, but much happier!)

Whole new corners have popped up. . . 


and new beds are in the works!


When it comes to talkin' dirt(y) . . . you could say. . . that I've had a whole lot to say in 5 years!




Throwback Thursday: Five Years of Knitting

According to my Ravelry projects page, I've knit 111 projects since beginning my blog (in May 2009).  That's a lot of stitches . . . and a whole lot of yarn!

When I started the blog, I was in the midst of the first NaKniSweMoDo . . . the challenge to knit a sweater a month for an entire year.  (That's how I met Margene and Cheryl and Susan, you know.  They were the group moderators for that first NaKniSweMoDo.)  I remember reading about the 12-sweaters challenge on Ravelry, right about the time I was mid-way through my chemo treatments.  I needed a challenge.  I needed to knit.  I joined!

Here's a photo collage I found in my archives, showing the first 9 sweaters I knit that year:

NaKniSweMoDo at 9

It's funny to look back at the sweaters now.  I've actually gotten rid of most of them.  (Some were too big, some had memories of chemo knit too tightly into the stitches, and some were just . . . what was I thinking???)  (I still wear my Central Park Hoodie quite often (bottom right corner), and occasionally - if I'm going to be somewhere very cold - I wear the hoodie up top.  All the rest?  Goners.)

I still love to knit sweaters, but I tend to be more thoughtful about the designs I choose.  These days, with the exception of this one, I knit sweaters I actually like to wear!

It's fun to look back at knitting projects with 5 years of perspective.  (Thanks, Ravelry, for making it easy.)  My favorite projects since May 2009?

All of the Duffers I made as Christmas gifts one year . . .


Scalene . . . probably my most-frequently-worn handknit . . .


Tinder . . . best-fitting cardigan ever!


Kirsten Kapur's Germinate . . . I'm still charmed by the stripe-y lace panels (and Kim's yarn).


And, last but not least, the Grim Reaper I made for Erin.  Oh-so-futzy, but oh-so-worth-it!


It'll be fun to see what comes off my needles over the NEXT five years!