Quieter

20170211_114104A little knitting.

20170313_091547Knitting littles.

Signs of Spring.

Things have been remarkably quiet here on This Side. The days keep flowing into one another and here we are again in the Spring roller coaster. 80 degrees one day, sleet the next. A couple nights ago we were under a tornado watch. It’s only March, so this will happen a few more times before summer settles in. Interestingly, while a good part of the country has been buried in snow this year, the other night I saw on the weather that we have had a record mild winter in regard to snowfall and cold. I think I’ve only worn a coat once. The rest of the time I’ve gotten by with just a sweater.

After what feels like a deep hibernation the last couple of months I was suddenly brought back to life when the Oldest Child landed in the hospital for another 12 days with a flareup of crohn’s. This time we saw a perforation in her colon and spent a nail-biting 4 days determining whether she would have surgery and how much, if not all, of her colon she could lose. This time she got off easily by waiting and in the end it healed itself. Massive antibiotics and pain meds –  but a miss is as good as a mile, right? What a terrible disease this is!

Yesterday was the Second Sunday in Lent, if you follow these things. It’s been years since I followed the practice of “giving something up” for Lent – but each year I DO try to focus on something that might better myself or those around me. This year I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time I spend in front of electronics: TV, cell phone, computer. I’ve been trying for a while to cut back, and what better time than now?  Now, when so many of my friends and family seem to be in need of special thoughts and prayers, how can I justify hours spend watching frivolous TV shows and playing games on a computer. I spend all of my working day in front of a computer screen. There are certainly better uses for the rest of my time. For Lent I’m determined to restrict my viewing time to the 8 hours a day at work – provided we are not threatened with tornados in the neighborhood when turning on the weather channel might be prudent.

The truth is, being a hard-core introvert, I thrive on quiet. A part of me wants to be outgoing and sparkling but if I’m to be true to myself I have to accept the fact that I’m just NOT.  You know what? That’s OK. Being an introvert in an extrovert world means I have to deflect a lot of well-intentioned entreaties from family and friends to “get involved” with things, and believe me, I’ve tried. I’m realizing though, how much more alive I actually feel when I’m living my own way with my involvement coming in through the back door. While I have great admiration for the energy of younger women these days, I’ve decided I’m just as energetic – but in a quieter way.

Maybe, in the end, the bravery I admire in young women today doesn’t have so much to do with WHAT they are doing in terms of travel and adventure, but more with the idea that they are finding their own unique rhythms. That said – anytime we can find our own niche’ and know where we belong is a moment to celebrate. Don’t you think?

 

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A Little Knit Here, A Little Knit There

I’ve been knitting again!  I’ve been pulling out the single skeins and waving my tiny magic wands around, turning those strings into some fun littles.

There’s a hat. (Rowan Cashsoft, in my own make-it-up-as-I-go pattern.)phone-photos-276

A pair of mitts. (Pagewood Farms in a camel/silk blend, pattern: Dashing)phone-photos-274

Another pair of mitts. (Also Pagewood Farms camel/silk, pattern: Treads, minus the fingers)phone-photos-272

 

The beginnings of a scarf.phone-photos-278

The scarf is interesting because every time I pick it up, the dye rubs off on my hands – not unusual with hand-dyed fibers. When the scarf is done, it will get a good wash and soak  with a teaspoon of vinegar added to help set the dye. It’s going to be so, so soft.  This also is Pagewood Farms –  100% Blue Faced Leicester in the Charcoal color, using a Bee Stitch pattern.So far nothing here has been washed or blocked so it’s just piling up into a tidy little satisfying stack. Christmas is coming, after all. This yarn, like those above, has been in the stash for at least five years. I have some yarn that has been waiting nearly twenty.

I used to buy a lot of singles. With single skeins I could try different fibers and different brands and dyers. I made a lot of socks and mitts and hats because, let’s face it, there aren’t too many sweaters or blankets you can make from one skein of yarn. Now I’m on a stash-busting mission to downsize into one small antique trunk.phone-photos-279

It’s a matter of  space but it feels like a very small quantity of yarn for a knitter despite the fact that this wee trunk holds a lot more than one would think. On the other hand, enough is plenty.

I wonder sometimes about this tendency to pile up possessions. I’ve always done it and would think I was a bit of a hoarder if it weren’t for the fact that I can just as easily let go of things.  I used to have the idea that if one was good two were better, but over the years I’ve realized that’s not necessarily true. Now I feel that if one is good – then it must be good enough to be pretty special.  Maybe that explains the single skein phenomenon.

Knitters are stashers. We gather our fibers together – sometimes with a project in mind, but not always.  It’s a thing about being prepared – always having yarn on hand for when inspiration hits.  There is a T-shirt that shows a ball of yarn with two knitting needles stuck into it declaring “It’s not a hobby, it’s a post-apocalyptic life skill!” . I think of it the same way that I think of writers with pens and paper, or artists with paint. One has to have the tools of the trade or there is no trade; but artists will always find a way. Novels scribbled on napkins, pictures scratched into rock walls, fiber knitted, woven, or pounded into felt. We gather our supplies and scratch that itch to create something, no matter how small. And as for downsizing, well – there will always be yarn, albeit not as much.

What are the tools of your trade? Do you have enough?

 

 

 

 

Flying By

Wow!  This month has gotten away from me. One day turned into two weeks in no time.

I went to visit my grandson who turned 12 this month.  We had planned on dinner and a movie and roller skating, but on my way there the Oldest Child called to inform me that the little guys had just won a football tournament against the “Unbeatable Team!”  All was excitement and plans were changed to an impromptu barbecue at the coach’s house.  Good times while the boys played and ran and hollered all afternoon and into the evening with the boundless energy that defines twelve-year olds. Next morning we were off to church and lunch and then I headed home. A quick turn-around, but always fun.

On a sadder note, on the way home I got word that my ex-husband had passed away. This was sad because although he was an “ex” for very good reasons, I have always thought of him in connection with some of the best parts of my life. Wyoming – ranching – horses – river rafting – golf – good friends and lots of good times. We parted on good terms, and though I never did, I always knew he was someone I could call if I needed anything.  Where do you mourn when you’re an “ex”?  In truth, we haven’t talked in at least 5 years, but it was a very sad moment, none the less.

20160926_181924After that I filled some time with a surprise root canal – always good for a few laughs and a day at home on the couch. I managed a little knitting and put buttons on the reworked red baby sweater, wrote to a friend or two and spent part of another weekend watching the just-released new season of Longmire on Netflix.  Yes. It’s true. I’m a groupie.  I’ve been a fan of Craig Johnson’s Longmire Mysteries for many years now and they have been turned into a TV show, first on A&E and then picked up by Netflix. Let me just put in a plug here – Johnson’s writing style is beyond excellent and I highly recommend the books if you haven’t tried them yet.20160926_182812

20160926_182011On the home front, the bird feeders are not emptying out like they were. See? Late afternoon and not a single bird. Seems we’ve hit the time when many of the little feather people are leaving for their winter homes.  Bye-Bye, Birdies. I haven’t seen a robin in weeks, and even the cardinals have slowed their feeding frenzies. They actually stay for the winter, as do the chickadees and a few others, but where do the robins go on their annual migration? Does anybody know?

 

Last week marked the first official day of Autumn on the 22nd, but to me, Autumn always starts on September 1st. If it’s September, it must be fall, right? Unless you live on the other side – then it’s Spring.  I say let’s get the pumpkins out, light a few candles, and run outside to jump into some leaf piles!   Who’s with me???

 

 

Free Time

I’ve been off work this week taking a lovely little “stay-cation.”  You know those – days off where you just stay home and relax.  I’ve been napping and reading and watching my birds and it’s been very nice and very unremarkable. Just the way I like it. I gave some serious thought to trekking off to somewhere new and exciting but the truth is, it’s just too hot. It’s too hot here and it’s too hot just about anywhere I could get to in the few days allotted me, so, for now, I’ve been pottering about at home.

I finally finished knitting the green socks and have made significant headway on another pair. (Plain vanilla, 3 X 3 rib on cuff, for my knitting friends out there.)

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I vacuumed. A lot. (ok – well maybe that hasn’t been the best part…….)

I’m watching the bird feeders. It’s the time of year when all the Spring babies have fledged (left the nest) and are starting to feed on their own. The feeders are full of these gangly, clumsy, awkward teenagers. Bad hair, bad tempers and no sense of style.  Right now most of them are molting and the poor things look absolutely ragged. For those of you that have been here before, you know that my bird pictures are compromised by having to be taken through a screen door, but even with that I think you can see what a fluffy, drooping mess these little guys are at the moment.  The little ugly ducklings waiting to turn into beautiful swans. I remember that stage. Do you?  If we can get through the galaxy all the way to Mars, couldn’t there be a better way to get through puberty and 7th grade?

This is a sparrow and a cardinal.  The little sparrow sat there for a long time before slowly tipping forward till his head bumped into the wire mesh of the feeder. I swear he just dozed off. The cardinal is molting and the most red on him is his beak. Maybe he’s a she. It’s hard to tell at this stage.

Speaking of 7th grade, school started here today. Sure seems early to me.  Like many of you, I remember when school started the day after Labor Day and ended the first week of June. Of course, I mostly went to school in Florida where we didn’t have to consider snow days. My first four years of school were in northern Illinois, and I don’t remember snow days there, either – but I was shorter then.

One thing that’s been fun has been having time to run errands and actually browse around a little bit. In my real, non-vacation life I function in “run-in-run-out” mode. Get the task done and move on to the next one, right? It’s nice to have time for a leisurely stroll up and down isles even if it is just the grocery store.

I head back to work on Friday – just in time for the weekend. Didn’t I plan that well?  This is what happens when you have to use those vacation days before time runs out. As I said, it’s been remarkably unremarkable, but sometimes that’s just what we need to regroup our energies, isn’t it?

What would you do with your days off? Are you an adventurer? Are you a napper? Are you a catcher-upper?  What is your idea of vacation heaven?

Knitting Mojo

20160724_082055I’ve been working on this pair of socks for the last couple of months. I’m getting close now, half way through the gusset of the second sock and hopefully it won’t take another month to get it finished. I’m not actually sure what the hold up is but as any long-time knitter will tell you, there are times when the mojo just goes on vacation for a while.  Mine seems to be taking an extended leave of absence, because I think it’s been a year since I knit anything significant. Anyway, it’s much too hot right now to worry about it very much.I’ve sent a couple sets of baby booties out into the world, and on a whim one day started a little sweater, but I don’t think I have enough yarn to finish it, and I may have to rip it back quite a bit to be re-proportioned.

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I think what’s happened is that I vowed to bring my yarn stash down to fit in one box, which means I need to get cracking and knit up a few skeins before I let myself start drooling over new yarn again.  If you’re a knitter, you know how it is when you go to the yarn shop and the fibers start calling out to you and randomly jump into your basket and trick you into buying them and taking them home.  They make such beguiling promises, and you know that you just HAVE to adopt them, if for no other reason than to take them out to pet them once in a while. It can be very inspiring.

I actually have some beautiful yarns.20160724_082126  Two long skeins of 100% cashmere lace-weight.  Some BFL crying to be turned into mitts. Silk blends with no purpose whatsoever other than to look beautiful. Alpaca! Merino! More cashmere!  What’s a knitter to do?  What am I to do when I can barely get the socks done?

I think I’ll get all the yarn out and spread it around on the sofa and spare bed and then get the pattern books out and spread them around too.  I bet something will come together and the yarn and I might be back in business.

Or maybe I’ll go make some ice tea and watch a movie and the socks will finish themselves.

What do you think the chances are?

 

Knitting and Reading on Sunday

It’s pretty quiet here on This Side.  Maybe this is a good thing. I usually spend weekends regrouping and pulling myself together for the week to come. You know the routine – laundry, cleaning, tidying up and hopefully getting a little rest and relaxation.  I’ve been trying to throw in a few projects during the week to lighten the weekend load a bit.  It seems to be helping and today I’ve had time to look through some books and do a little knitting. Wanna see?  I knew you would.

20160604_175956Here are things that still need attention. A cowl that needs to be washed and blocked and buttons added. Some mitts that also need to be washed.  Not a lot lately – seems like the knitting mojo has been on holiday.

 

Just for fun – here is a glimpse into the sock drawer and the scarf drawer, which is really scarves, cowls, hats and mitts. You want to know a secret? Most of the time it’s too warm here to wear much wool.  But I love to knit – especially socks – so what’s a knitter to do, right?

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Knitting is one of those things that keeps coming back to me. I may put the needles down for days or even years, but I never get rid of them. My yarn stash swells and shrinks but it’s always lurking in the background, reminding me that hand-made gifts are still the best.

On the nightstand are also a few works in progress.  Stories and art and a little informational history. Oh, and the Kindle. Next to the bed is a little bookshelf – 0ne of several in the house.

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Let’s talk about books for a minute. I love books. I love the feel and heft and smell of a book in my hands. I believe in books. I believe in libraries and book stores and publishing and everything there is about the printed word. Sometimes I want to be Hemingway or Virginia Wolfe, writing away in a garret in Paris in the 1920’s.  I would love to live in a house big enough to have an actual library that needed a ladder to reach the top shelves.  At one time I had enough books to almost make that library a reality.

Then I moved – and moved again – and again – and again. Then my mother died (another story for another time) and I added all of her books. Without getting into my journey of simplifying and decluttering, let me just say that something had to give.

Now the thing about books is that you either keep them and love them, enjoy looking at and sharing them, or you pretty much have to give them away.  Used books stores pay little to nothing, and yard sales are even worse. (Believe me – I tried.) As much as I loved my books, the time came that I boxed up literally hundreds and sent them off to libraries. There are a lot that I miss, but mostly I hope other people are enjoying them as much as I did.

I love seeing that authors are timeless: Wendell Berry, L M Montgomery, May Sarton, Ann Dillard, Edward Abbey, and many, many more. Sometimes I see them quoted and I have the impulse to pull that book off the shelf again before I remember that it’s gone to another home. All I can say is, “Thank goodness for the internet!”  Now I use a Kindle – but not always.  Maybe the point really is that we just keep reading.  People have a lot of good things to  say.

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This is my Sunday.  I hope you are all having a lovely weekend and watching Spring come in gently – or Autumn, as the case may be. What are you doing with your day?