Friday, October 30, 2015

Holy Moley!!! Time Flies...

Sooooooooooooooooooooo - I have not fallen off the face of the earth. What happened was that I got a job. 

I'm back in the legal field, which as you can imagine can be quite soul-sucking. And it's in the area of family law. People don't come to see a family lawyer because they're in a good place. They come because a marriage or relationship has gone sour and they are divorcing, fighting for support or custody, or even more sad - fighting AGAINST rightful support of a former spouse and their kids. 

That being said, I am suited to this sort of work, by inclination as well as talent. I enjoy detail work and I like things organized. (Don't laugh - you haven't seen my house; if you did, you'd think I was nuts!)

My primary function is discovery. Collecting it from both sides and organizing it, and keeping track of who owes what documentation and then making sure it's ready for the attorneys when they go to trial. 

My secondary function is to bring a new calm to the office. The office had some issues and it's my job to work on some processes and procedures to help make things run more smoothly. The MBA comes in handy. So does yogic breathing. And some strategically placed aromatherapy spray. 

Anyway, all of this full-time work, plus running the Yoga studio and teaching 3 times a week has done a wrecking job on my writing and free time. That's why I have been MIA and why really not much has gotten done recently. 

I confess to exhaustion and a feeling of being totally overwhelmed, but as the TV show once said, "This is Your Life." So we must roll with the waves. 

Tippi, TDI...

Lucky for me, Tippi and I are still involved in therapy work. We moved locations and times; we're still at the University. In a way, it's kind of like sticking a pin in the balloon of those who laid me off...but she does love the work, so we're now in the library. 

We're working an evening shift, so the library is a much better spot. This picture is with a couple members of the volleyball team. She's such a ham for the boys!!

So we're still on the first and third Tuesdays, and we do our thing with the same pizzazz that she usually exhibits. She gets an elevator ride this time, which is always interesting. 

Knitting...

It would be nice to show you a completed pair of socks. The good news is that I'm finally at the toe. This is Opal's version of "watermelon." And yeah, I know it's almost November. But I needed a break from the "Bowties are Cool" sock, because it's depressing me that the pair will be tighter than I like them. 

I just did plain vanilla with a Doris heel. It's going to work just fine. Standard toe, not a star toe this time. 

I like this, but it's not "watermelon" in my own wild imagination. The yellow is actually an odd shade of greenish-yellow, and it's just a little too impressionist for me. But it's Opal and it'll make a great pair of socks. 

I've totally blown the Pair-a-Month KAL. What was I thinking? Oh yeah - that whether or not I actually DID a pair a month, at this time of year, I'd likely have a few more pairs of socks. 

I've got ONE whole pair. And two singles. 

I'm hoping to get into a rhythm where I can do a few rows almost every evening. That hasn't happened yet. It'll come. I keep telling myself that. 

In the meantime, my favorite yarn shop, Le Mouton Rouge Knittery, has MOVED! 

Yes, Kelly up and took the shop to Bloomington - 2 hours away from me. So we have St. Charles, which is easily almost 2 hours in one direction, and we have Bloomington. What a pain in the needles. 

But I can see her reasoning. Morris is very nice, but Bloomington has a better market for her. More people. Bigger spenders. More space, with a better bang for your buck. 

So when I was last in Bloomington, I stopped by. Of course. And I bought some sock yarn. Of course. And I'm probably going back - to get some MadTosh for shawls. Not socks. Of course.

Tonight, before we go to the concert (see below), I'll likely get a row or two in, unless I'm distracted by mail or something. But I'll give it a shot. I want to start the other sock. 

Baking...

In the new office, we had a bride! I volunteered, when they said we were having a small shower, to bake the cake. I couldn't let the bride have a store-bought cake while I was capable. 


Capable but perhaps out of practice. Anyway, her colors were navy blue and spring green. No way I was doing a lot of navy blue on a cake. Not only will it make your tongue blue, but it'll taste nasty. Even when they say it's "no taste" coloring. It tastes. Trust me on this. 

She loves chocolate. The cake was chocolate fudge, and I put chocolate buttercream in the middle. I bought two green hydrangeas (silk) from Michael's - which was the first time I'd been in there in ages. And I added some pearls, because her "signature" necklace is pearl. And I attached navy blue "rose buds" with pearl centers onto spring green (or kiwi, depending) running ribbons. 

It went over quite well. So well that she took it home! We were thinking "leftovers" and she was thinking "mine!" Which is fine. I don't mind - I love that people appreciate the work and the taste. 

Then, today, I finished cupcakes for a little girl who was born on Halloween. These were half vanilla and half chocolate, with chocolate faces. Hubby wanted to know why they were all different. I told him they all had different expressions because they had different personalities! 

I could never do "standard" all the time. I don't think that, aside from knitting, anything I do is "standard." Particularly in frosting. I like doing things that don't look like they came from a factory. 

That being said, I would NOT want to be the parents of these kids. Each of these ghosts have at least 2" of buttercream frosting on them. Talk about a sugar buzz...

I don't know if I'll do more cakes. We'll have to see. I may do more cupcakes for my friend for her other grandkid's birthday. 

Speaking of cake: I saw this in the grocery store. It's wrong. It's sooooooo wrong on so many levels. Red Velvet is a classic. Don't mess with a classic. Ever. 

Of course I had to text Kid #2 and ask him if he wanted this for his birthday. He said he was looked at my text and promptly wanted to hurl. 

Blue Velvet? Shoes? Really? Who thought that this was a good idea? Who buys this stuff? 

I will not be buying this. I will be sticking with the classic RED velvet. 

Coloring Fun...

I've discovered coloring. I did this one, a freebie off the web, before I went to bed. It is certainly very relaxing. We're actually going to do a coloring/ meditation class at the yoga studio. You can see all the books in the bookstores, and I'm pretty sure that stock in colored pencils and markers will be rising. I can see these for Christmas gifts. 

Scoff if you will, but it really is nice. You can go wild or you can "make a theme." They're everything from simple, which is the one I chose for right before bedtime, to complex florals and paisley designs. 

It's a nice activity for when you want to mull something over. I noticed right away that my breathing slowed, my concentration sharpened, and I could focus. The only problem I had was that I needed to take my glasses off for the very tight spots. So I'm not sure I'd do the intricate designs. But I might try them. We'll see. 

Random Picture...

This was outside on the feeder a few weeks ago. The wacky weather has confused everyone - from the trees that don't know when to change to the birds that aren't sure what season it is. 

My garden is almost done. My flower garden looks like death warmed over. I have only minimal Halloween decorations this year. I've been frantically busy. Oh, and I'm editing a book for someone. So I'm behind on a lot of things. 

But this little girl brightened my day immensely. She reminded me to sit still every once in a while. And breathe. 

What's been going on in your world? I've missed you all!









Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Day, Another Thunderstorm...

Welcome to the lake district! Or as I like to call it, southwest of Chicago!

Last night, it being a Thursday, of course there were severe storm warnings. Every Thursday, lately. So I'm guiding my class through a sun salutation, and I cue them to fold over and release their necks, "listening to the gentle sounds of the rain and letting your thoughts flow away with it."

And then the skies open and it starts thundering down. So, of course, I say, "face the long side of your mat, toward what I like to call "the river view"..." as the parking lot floods... 


Egret taking off from soybean field
You have to laugh. 

On the way home, I stopped to catch a picture. It's so wet that the egrets are mistaking the soybean fields for small lakes! This guy was standing, but he didn't appreciate my squishy approach. 

And today, again: severe t-storms supposed to happen in about an hour. 

Oh well. We do need the rain. Just not all in 24 hours. 

Sweetpea the Swallowtail...

I think it's a girl and I shall name her Sweetpea! 

Of course, I have no idea. But somehow, this little thing is just capturing my heart. I go out and check on her(?) every day. I'm worried now, because we're under a heat advisory, and I don't want her(?) to get too warm. 

It looks as if she's(?) lifting herself off the stem to either say hello or to get a better tan!

I'm not sure which. 

I haven't seen the monarchs back. And I haven't seen hummingbirds for a few days now. But up till today, the weather had been cold and damp, which isn't all that conducive to hummingbirds. 

The weeds are insane again. I'm not sure when we'll get to them; you'd think the rain would loosen the soil but it only makes the dirt heavier. 

And today, there were two odd "explosions" near the river. I'm not sure what, but they upset the dogs. 

The Garden Rocks...

We have another handful of cherry tomatoes, six decent cucumbers (salad, not pickle, I hope!) and a whole load of peas. 


Sink full of peas
Shucking
For what it's worth, pea shucking isn't my thing. It's that fused left thumb - I go to grab the pea and pluck off the tip and it just won't work! So Hubby's farm training kicked in and he's plugging away at it. 

I did a bunch, but it started to hurt. And then I kept losing my grip and sending peas flying. That's enough for me, sorry!

Some of the cucumbers are going to live with my mother. I can't eat all of them by the time Kid #2 and I leave for The Faulkner/Vonnegut Pilgrimage, on Sunday, and Hubby dislikes cucumbers. 

I was hoping to juice at least one or two, which may happen tomorrow. 

The larger tomatoes are taking their sweet time, and I'm hoping all this water won't mess with them. Last time it was this wet, everything got root rot and a blossom-end fungus and we got nothing. But since it also seems to be heating up like crazy, that may balance out the damp. 


The lettuce has virtually gone to seed, so this weekend, that comes out and we plant another section. I would love to compost, but as hubby pointed out - it's just the two of us. Unless I can find a spot in the yard (which isn't likely, given the size of the yard) where I can put a decent compost pile, and then sell the excess, we'll have more than we can even consider using. 


Sage leaves
I'm about ready to do more pesto. And the sage? Holy moley!!! I had purchased garden sage, intending to dry it for use in smudging. Seems I should have done more research: you can't use garden sage. But it doesn't matter: our sage is huge. I mean seriously huge. 

I can't get over the size of the leaves. So now I have to figure out just what to do with it. Any ideas?

We planted this in a raised "trug" style planter, which has really nice drainage. We put a cover over it, and even though it's in the shade, it's obviously doing fine. So the foreground is sage, the back left is basil and directly behind the sage is rosemary. 

I'm going to dry the rosemary, and probably freeze a good bit of the sage in those "suck the air out" vacuum bags. That way, it should still be ok and not get mushy when I need to use it. 

The basil here? Seriously, when I stripped it for the first batch of pesto, I thought I'd done a good job. Well, I had - because it's come back almost double what it was before I took it all apart!

I could probably invest in a dehydrator. I dried herbs last time using the oven, but it does take a long time, and it's not the best use of the oven since we've apparently now decided that summer is upon us. I'd rather not jack up the A/C bill with the oven on. 

I might also look into herb jellies. I think that if I can find a decent recipe for sage jelly, I'll make it. That would be kind of cool. Excellent on a pork roast, I think. 

But I'm still trying to figure out how they all got so big!

Random Picture...

"Why yes, I can hang off the couch just like a cat," says Quinn. I'm truly not sure if she's pure canine or part feline! 

All three of them went nuts today when the UPS man came, even though he was dropping off treats for them. 

They didn't care. They just don't like him; and even if I introduced Tippi to him, he doesn't like dogs either. 

They know. 






Thursday, July 16, 2015

Go Set a Watchman...

This is gonna be a quickie, kids... I have a to-do list that's taller than I am!

Harper Lee...

I read this in exactly 24 hours. I didn't think I'd pre-ordered it, but I had, from Barnes & Noble. 

So Kid #2 gets the copy I just ordered from Amazon... 

OK, here's the thing (no spoilers).

Everyone's up in arms over the revelation that Atticus Finch is a racist. 

"What? Gregory Peck/Atticus Finch a racist?? NOOOOO!"

Hey, folks. 

Gregory Peck was an amazing actor, who also happened to be extraordinarily liberal in his beliefs. When he delivered that famous speech during Tom's trial, of course it felt like it came from his very being. Because it did. 

But he was, folks, ACTING. He played Atticus Finch. A noble character in Mockingbird, to be sure, but a character after all. 

And let's take a breath, get off the fainting couch and stop clutching our pearls. 

Atticus is EXACTLY the man he should be, for the period within which the book was written. I would venture to guess that most men of Atticus' stature in a "real" Southern town in that time period were also racists. 

They didn't want to see their society changed. They truly believed that the North was taking away their very way of life. 

Atticus being a racist is no more surprising than it ought to be. 

Everyone just breathe here. 

Read the book. 

What's probably not as surprising is that there ARE other manuscripts. Think about it. Harper Lee has a transcendent style of writing. Her way with words is unlike other writers. I always found it hard to believe that she had a one-off stunner in "To Kill a Mockingbird." 

The news that there's yet a third manuscript isn't hard to believe. Even if it's not a fully-fleshed-out story, I think it should be published. 

Her voice should not be confined to just one or two books, if indeed there are more of her words out there. 

Honey...

I have a friend who runs a honey operation. So I was able to hook up with her to get the first harvest of 2015 honey. This will be used for potica this fall, and I'm so excited to have local honey!

If you're in the area, visit their site and contact Jo if you want some lovely, locally sourced honey. 

This is why bees are important. Not because my friend owns this farm. But because for all our sophistication and mechanization - we need bees. 

Bees transport pollen. Plants don't reproduce without pollen. We don't eat if bees don't survive. 

And we really, really need to support local small farmers like Jo. I mean, honestly - when was the last time you looked at your food and truly wondered where it came from? 

If you don't have your own garden, you don't realize that while it's a ton of work, it's also a ton of satisfaction to grow your own lettuce, herbs, and other veggies. 

And if you're a meat-eater, how about contacting a local farmer to see if he or she has the ability to supply you? Yes, you'll likely pay a bit more. But you'll know where your burger or bacon came from. And it won't be Chile or China. 

We're in the breadbasket of the nation and it's time for a cultural revolt to bring us back to the breadbasket instead of the superstore. 

Random Picture...

This little guy will be a black swallowtail some day and I'm happy as can be to see him! I'm still trying to catch up with the Monarch (yay!) who's been flitting around my coneflower and dill. They're notoriously hard to capture, in my mind. Or maybe I'm slow. Which is fine - I'll catch a shot of him one of these days. 

This is last year's dill in the front garden, and we're just using what we can. It'll reseed itself and we'll trim it up for next year. But dill is a butterfly magnet, so go forth and plant, people!

Go below, in the comments, and let me know what's in YOUR garden!








Monday, July 13, 2015

Almost Caught Up...

Well, I'm trying. 

Clouds rolling in
So let's get started on what's going on lately. 

June was horrible. It was wet, it rained almost constantly and the weather activity was frightening. 

And July looks to be the same. Tonight, again (it's always the nights I'm teaching yoga), tornado watches till 11 p.m. Thunderstorm activity this morning was brutal. There was a brief patch of blue, and now it's dark again. 

I'm holding classes; the stuff is to the south of us, and while I don't want to get complacent and think, "Oh, it's not moving," because of course it does, and it moves FAST, I don't want to be all Henny Penny about it...Or Chicken Little, if you roll that way. 

Above is this morning's picture, courtesy of Hubby, who loves storms. I was sitting and drinking my tea. He said to me, "Look out the window." And in ONE minute, it rolled in, and the bucketing started. It moved through fairly quickly, considering. And we knew we were in for it all day off and on. 
Early afternoon sunshine

The storms are just south of us and we don't know if they'll move straight east or wiggle its way north or just fizzle. 

At early afternoon, we had blue sky and sunshine, and the humidity began building. It was getting steamy and the air was getting more "chewy," which is never a good sign. 

Late afternoon
About 3 or 4 p.m., it darkened up again. The weather radio went off. My phone's been pinging all afternoon. And one of my teachers had called me asking if we were holding classes tonight. 

Yes we are. At this point in the Summer of 2015 That May Not Really Be Summer, we can't afford to cancel classes on the whim of the National Weather Service. Half the time, the warnings come to naught because the storms break up. It's just being watchful, and that we are. 

So today, I was trying to clean up the office and get some other stuff done. I was hoping to get Hubby to fix my camera. The telephoto lens was getting sticky and I needed to get it fixed before my upcoming trip. 

I was also hoping to get some knitting done. That I managed - at least 2 or 3 rows of the sock. 

I am almost caught up on the Yarn Harlot blog and I still have a sequence to write out for a private student. 

I did get a video of my own version of Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) done for that same student. I just have to put it all together, which will happen tomorrow. 

I got a few things ticked off the list, but not as many as I wanted to. 

The Trip...

Well, Kid #2 and I leave next Sunday for The Great Faulkner/Vonnegut Pilgrimage. 

We have the route confirmed, the hotels booked, and a list of stuff to see in Oxford, courtesy of a friend of mine who loves it down there. 

I'm looking forward to some mother-son bonding, and we both have similar attitudes toward travel: we'll just roll with it. 

Wednesday, I take the car in for the pre-trip check and then I can pack on Saturday. We take off sometime Sunday morning. We should be back Friday-ish, and I'm bringing my journal and the laptop, so blogging may ensue. Not sure yet. 

Knitting...

So here's the second of the Bowties are Cool socks. It's coming along nicely. I don't know when I'll get it done. I may take a vanilla sock along on my trip just for the heck of it. 

The only thing about the trip is that I'm driving, so of course I can't knit! Ha! But I can knit in the evening before bedtime. 

I'm knitting a few rows on this just about every day. I almost feel like it's forced, but I know that I want to get this done. I hate to have the knitting feel like a chore, but for some reason, the second sock of this pair feels a bit chore-like. 

Maybe because I'm not happy with the fit of the first sock, and I'm not anticipating the fit of the second one to be any better. 

But I still love the yarn. It's squishy and gorgeous. So I'm looking forward to the next Lorna's Laces sock; maybe it has to be a plainer pair. This is a ton of K1b - knit one below. And I think it's pulling it together a lot more so even at a 72-stitch cast-on, it's a bit snug. 

The Before and After scarf is coming along; it looks like I'm close to the end of the peacock variegated, but remember - it's lace-weight and it's going to fool the eye. 

I might actually take that one one on the trip. It's certainly mindless enough. 

Friends in Crisis...

I have two separate friends with two separate crises going on. One is an older friend, who's afraid that our other friend is mad at her. I'm pretty sure she's not. She's facing some pretty hefty back surgery, she's in pain and I'm almost 100% certain that she's just fed up with a lot of stuff and doesn't have much patience. So that was this morning's call.

This afternoon's call comes with my oldest friend's son being a royal jerk... He's getting married, and it's like we're looking at the King and Queen. There's some drama about him not including any of his family, and claiming that some family members "hate" his intended, and reminding his mother that it's "HIS" day so he can do what he wants. 

Oh, yeah... He's 4 days older than Kid #1. So don't tell me there's no such thing as a "Groomzilla." Because I've seen it. 

Not that I'm claiming any special privilege, but when I was over at their house this weekend, he didn't even introduce his intended around. 

That's basic manners. I would expect my kids to do that. And they'd better, if they know what's good for them. 

So my friend said she can't, in good conscience, attend the wedding. She wants to know if she's doing the right thing, and I assured her that she was. You can't expect to stand up for things if you don't stand up for things, you know?

If the son is treating everyone in his family like this, then he needs to learn that there are consequences for jerkitude. I just said, "Don't be surprised when he comes to you with his hand out, looking for your help." 

She says she's not intending to offer any, since he's apparently thinking nobody in the family is "worthy" enough to come to his wedding. 

Indeed. 

Christmas in July...

This was on television the other day. Yes, it's my favorite Alistair Sims version of "A Christmas Carol" and yes, it was on in the early morning. 

Along with the commercials for Christmas trees. 

And while I haven't been in there since the SCOTUS "birth control battle," I understand that of course Hobby Lobby has its Christmas stuff up and running already. They usually are early, but I think it's still idiotic. 

I haven't even contemplated Christmas knitting. And I ought to, if I'm planning any, since I'm not all that fast. And there's a vague possibility that I might have a full-time job which will cut into my time even more. 

I know. It's still 6 months away. 

But this is nuts. 



Random Picture...

It's confirmed. Huskies breathe through their ears. Raisa was on the couch yesterday. With her nose smooshed into the cushion. Snoring away. 

I can't figure it out. How do they do that? 

She seemed comfortable enough. 












Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oh, My Aching...

...back. 

Yep. Back. In the past 30-ish hours, I would rather have given birth to a set of 10-lb. (each) triplets. 

My back has been bothering me for about 2 weeks now, and until a few days ago, I had been managing using yoga and stretching. Though it had begun to spasm more and more often - so I asked my friend if she knew a good chiropractor, since the one I used to use was arrested for child porn. 

That's true, by the way... 

Anyway, my appointment was for yesterday, and up till then, I thought things were healing nicely. Till I woke up. And it was in full "someone is using a jackhammer on my spine" spasm. So bad that when I got into my car to go to the doctor, I had to lift my left leg in. 

Yeah. Fun. He went through the usual new patient rigamarole, and did give me an adjustment - which he says he normally doesn't do, but for those of you of a certain age, I can tell you that I was doing a pretty good imitation of Tim Conway's "little old man shuffle." For those of you who don't have a clue, here's the You Tube... classic comedy. (Fair warning: it's funny, so don't blame me if you're drinking something and it comes out your nose...)

But not funny when it's you!

Today, I feel a bit better. I'm thinking this guy will be ok - he called me at 8:30 p.m. and asked how I was doing. 

I'm actually baking some cookies. My back still hurts, and where he adjusted me is feeling a little tender, but I believe this is the best road for now. I don't want to go the "muscle relaxer" route, because I think this is structural. 

I'm pretty sure that it happened when I fell asleep in a twist - knees and hips pointing east and shoulders pointing west. It happens, and I like twists... but not for 5 or 6 hours at a time!

I didn't teach last night; yep - it was that bad! Nothing was helping for the pain, unless I wanted to try to function going from a squat to a child's pose. And that's not necessarily useful to your daily life. 

After heat & cold, I then iced for 20 minutes every couple of hours. I have to do more of that today. He also said, "no squishy couches; firm chairs, firm mattress or floor." So since we have a Sleep Number bed, I cranked it up to 90 last night. It did make a difference. Hubby says I like sleeping on a "concrete slab" anyway; but it did change how I felt. 

I've been thinking that I had to replace my chiropractor, but the only thing I wish is that this new guy had an acupuncturist on-site. He doesn't, but I'll find one. 


Cookies...

So I've had a hankering for chocolate chip cookies. This is the Baker's Square recipe off the box - double chocolate. I'll let you know how they turn out. They're a little more moist than my usual recipe, and I should have melted the butter with the chocolate, but we'll see how they turn out. **They're delicious!!!**

NOTE TO SELF: Because you gave away all your glass bowls, you had to melt the chocolate in a Pyrex measuring cup. THEY GET HOT!!! Do NOT grab the handle. 

I guess it's true that one pain cancels out the other, because after I grabbed the hot glass handle of the measuring cup, for a brief moment, my back didn't hurt at all! 

Bigger needles, thinner yarn!
They're kind of going to be "monster cookies" - rather large. But that's ok. 

Knitting...

I'm still working on the Before & After scarf, and I think I'll just do that the rest of this week. Sock #2 of Bowties are Cool will be fine; and I need to see a little movement on that B & A project. 

It's nice to feel the alpaca lace-weight; it's very squishy and will be nice next to the skin. 

I've also been cruising some of the sock patterns, anticipating my next bag of stashed yarn. Haven't found anything that sings, but then I am also fond of letting the yarn tell me what it wants to be. 

Heck, I may grab a non-stashed hank of some Opal and do a plain vanilla just for the heck of it. A nice 1" cuff and then off we go. Done and done. 

I have a stash-baby-hat staring at me. That might be next on the WIP list. Just - again - to give my hands a break from size 1 needles. 

Garden...

So we finally (well, hubby did) got the garden weeded in between rain storms. Who knew? The weather guy finally said June will be "the wettest in some time." Ya think??

Here are a few pictures. And of course, it's going to thunderstorm tonight. 

So, quick tour. We have daylily plants around the front yard. We did have some "hedge roses" but several bad winters dealt the death blow to them. Nothing, it seems, will kill these. 

We've got a bunch of different colors, and the little buttery-yellow ones are Stella d'Oro - which you see in a lot of public spaces here, as they'll bloom all summer. 

I believe the dark maroon lily here is "Cranberry Cove" or something. I used to have labels on all of them, but we had divided them over the years and had given a lot of them away. 

Next up is a full view of the "triangle garden" - which is actually more "home plate" shaped, but for our purposes, when we mention the triangle, know which bed we're talking about. 

This area, last year, was overwhelmed with marigolds, due to Hubby's desire to have a "full" garden. It was too full. It looked over-blown and I didn't like it. That being said, those marigolds certainly kept the mosquitoes away! This garden now contains a number of different, lighter plants. 

Pink cosmos
Next to the flag pole are Columbaria; there are petunias of various colors, snapdragons, gallardia at the front bottom left, and the huge poppy there toward the point. Also, up near that bird feeder pole (upon which there's no bird feeder) is the coneflower - a purple one. And in the front, at the right, is the dill. And another plant that I truly don't remember planting, so once it blooms, maybe I can figure it out then. 

Also in this bed are lavender and butterfly bush. They're closer to the poppy and the "bubble" looking gazing ball. We gave up on shading the bird baths; the solar panel bubblers wouldn't work, so they're both in the triangle bed. We haven't hooked up the bubblers yet - that's on the to-do list. 

At the very front, toward the street, are the lilacs. They didn't bloom this year; I'm told it's because they're still immature. 
Bee balm

The bee balm, however, did nicely on one side. Not so much on the other, and I can't figure that out. 

I'm trying to find a decent source for monarch-friendly milkweed, but I'm afraid we may be too late to plant it this season. 

I have seeds for hyssop and a few other hummingbird- and butterfly-friendly plants, and those will happen next year, likely. I just wanted instant color, so we got what we could get that was blooming. 

Speaking of blooming... remember that we had dill from last year? Well, of course it came back. Dill is friendly to swallowtail butterflies. And we had more than a few last year, which made me happy. 

But what I want you to look at is the head of dill which is resting on my palm. That's my palm. The head of dill reaches past my palm by a good 2" or more. And the plants themselves are about 4' high. 

Of course, this year we're not doing pickles. But my mom said that if I can get it bundled, she'd hang it in her basement to dry it. 

That's one for The Google, because I haven't ever dried dill before. I can say, though, that it's striking in the garden. And when we planned it this year, we took out about 2 or 3 feet of dill plants. It can - and will - easily overwhelm your space, so if you plant it, be vigilant about where.

Women on the Money...

Ok, so there was that campaign about getting a woman on the $20 bill. But Jack Lew has other ideas. He wants a woman to share a spot on the $10. 

Why in the world do we have to share?? Can't we be there by ourselves? Here's an excellent Op/Ed from yesterday's Chicago Tribune. And the Trib has a good suggestion - Jack Lew, our Treasury Secretary, wants opinions. So tell him: Women need to be on the $20!! Now, please... Here's another one. If you tweet, please let Mr. Lew know that we're done. We want to be seen on the money - the paper stuff. Go to #TheNew10 and let him know. 

Enough that we've been relegated to a $1 coin that's often mistaken for a quarter. Hmmmmmmm. Much like women's wages; diminished... Even the cartoonists are having a field day. 

The thing is, it's about time. I know - it's only money. But we can't even get past the still-looming "78-cents on the dollar" wage gap. Why can't we just have a picture of a woman on the $10 that it takes us a couple more hours to earn? Is that asking too much? 

Random Picture...

We have doggie detente. For now at least. It's not likely we'll get all 3 on the couch... Tippi likes to take her half out of everyone else's. 

But for now, peace reigns in the house. 

Tippi is shedding up a storm. (No pun intended) She's the last of the 3 to give way and of course, tufts are in everything. I've taken to putting a napkin over my tea mug just because I don't really need the extra fiber. 

And if I'm not at least partially covered in dog hair, it must be that I haven't been home lately!












Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Portable Faulkner...

As in William. 

Here's the thing. It's a tradition, once you've made it through Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom! that you plan a pilgrimage to his grave. 


The tradition includes taking a swig of whiskey (he favored Jack Daniels) and leaving the rest of the bottle on his monument... 

So, Kid #2 and I did that. I mean, we both read Absalom, Absalom! And I promised him a trip to Oxford, MS. It was initially to be after he graduated from college, but life got in the way, and for that I'm sorry. But we're planning it for this July. 

Who in their right mind goes to MISSISSIPPI in July?? Well, I guess we're going. I've looked at the Southern Living version of the trip, and we'll get together to plan the logistics. I'm going to drive, because my Edge is wayyyyyyy more comfortable (and larger!) than his older Focus. And no, I'm not planning to drink the whiskey! 

So in preparation for the trip, I've started to read the book that the Kid gave me for Christmas, The Portable Faulkner. It's a compendium of all of his novels - little snippets that show the arc of his writing and how he progressed through his version of the South and its culture. 

Faulkner isn't an easy read. But here's the point: once you get into it? You're automatically drawn into the prose. I could say "soaring prose" but it's been said before. What I will say is that the rhythm of his words and the pace of his writing gets to you, once you muscle up your literary courage and dive in. Like a dip in Lake Michigan before August -- it's cold, dude!! But once you're in there, you kind of like it. 

Instead of working on the flyer for my studio's upcoming workshop with Gabriel Halpern, I'm dashing off this blog. I'm also avoiding laundry... Ahem.

If you've never read Faulkner before, or have dim memories of A Rose for Emily from high school, let me refresh your synapses. I'm at the point in the book where we're talking about "The Courthouse" -- how Jefferson got its name. Here's a little taste:

  That was Ratcliffe's trouble. But they didn't even listen. The heard him out of course, but they didn't even listen. Or perhaps they didn't even hear him either, sitting along the shade on Holston's gallery, looking, seeing, already a year away; it was barely the tenth of July, there was the long summer, the bright soft dry fall until the November rains, but they would require not two days this time but two years and maybe more, with a winter of planning and preparation before hand. 

You will notice, if you're a grammarian, that this man never met a form of punctuation he couldn't gleefully ignore. Many of his paragraphs end with a semi-colon. And many of his sentences...well, they just kind of meander like the Mississippi River itself. But once you've caught the pace, you're enthralled. He uses words that you rarely see. When was the last time you saw a sentence like this one? (This is actually the last SENTENCE of the PARAGRAPH before the one above...and yes, the paragraph ends with a semi-colon.)

 It was he - they: the settlement (town now) - who had thought of charging the lock to the United States as a provable lock, a communal risk, a concrete ineradicable object, win lose or draw, let the chips fall where they may, on that dim day when some Federal inspector might, just barely might, audit the Chickasaw affairs; it was the United States itself which had voluntarily offered to show them how to transmute the inevictable lock into proofless and ephemeral axle grease - the little scrawny childsized man, solitary unarmed impregnable and unalarmed, not even defying them, not even advocate and representative of the United States, but THE United States, as though the United States had said, "Please accept a gift of fifteen dollars," (the town had actually paid old Alec fifteen dollars for the lock; he would accept no more) and they had not even declined it but simply abolished it since, as soon as forever lost it; as though Pettigrew had put the actual ponderable fifteen gold coins into -- say, Compson's or Peabody's - hands and they had dropped them down a rathole or a well, doing no man any good, neither restoration to the ravaged nor emolument to the ravager, leaving in fact the whole race of man, as long as it endured, forever and irrevocably fifteen dollars deficit, fifteen dollars in the red;
    
See what I mean? That's ONE sentence. When was the last time you read or used the word "emolument" in a sentence? What I love about his prose is that he's really painting with words, and you have to be at the top of your game to get what he's laying out on the page. You have to - in your own defense - grab onto your vocabulary and have a dictionary handy. You have to - I've learned - have a pencil handy. I don't normally write in books. But Faulkner? He begs for annotations. He baits you. He forces you to go back and read - and re-read - a passage for the nuggets he's buried in the vast landscape of a simple sentence. Of course, "simple" in regard to a sentence he writes? Well, that's relative. 

There is, of course, the famous one-sentence chapter in his novel, As I Lay Dying. I believe it's Chapter 19? "My mother is a fish." 

Yep. That's it. I read that novel, which was relatively short, on a plane trip to Texas. I'm sure that the title put my fellow seat-mates slightly on edge. But I hate flying. I needed something to really engage my brain in case knitting didn't do it. 

Faulkner may even persuade me to set aside The Pickwick Papers, which has been my bedtime reading. Dickens does have a habit of putting you to sleep, except that this Kindle edition has some odd markings - like someone didn't know how to format the document. They're annoying enough to make me lose sleep!

Knitting...

Worked on Sock #2 of "Bowties" last night. I think I might play with the "travel project" of "Before and After" scarves, just to give my hands a break from the endless small needles. 

I think I have something going here with "pairs." Because the travel project is a PAIR of scarves... 


As you can see, I'm a fan of stitch markers. I use a solid one for marking my "needle 1" and then I use a pin-style to catch the tail of the cast-on and that one will move up once I get the pattern established on the leg. I love the pin-style markers for their versatility and because they're really fairly secure. The split-ring markers have their use, of course, but I've dropped those little suckers a couple of times!

And I really don't like the rigid triangular ones. I know - they're supposed to work wonders by snuggling up to your needle. But for me? The yarn always goes around them oddly, to my eyes, and creates a loose spot. So I don't use them unless I can't find the ones I really want to use. 

Stitch markers are both the bane and benefit of a knitter's toolkit. We need them. We buy them. We lose them. We buy more... It's kind of like our version of Lego blocks. You'll find them in the oddest places when you least need them. 

Before and After Scarf  #1
I'm really coming close to the finish line with the "Before and After" scarf - the first one of the pair. I can't wait to block this out. The only worry I have is the provisional cast-on. Like an idiot, I did it with a worsted weight yarn. Soooooo - it'll be interesting because the beads that go on that lace-weight yarn may not be as snug as I'd like them. The beads for this peacock-toned yarn are...well, peacock-toned themselves. They'll add needed weight onto the bottoms of the scarf. 

I've never knitted with beads, so this will be a new skill to learn, and I'm looking forward to it. I think that, if I knitted on this for a solid month, I'd have this one done, beads included. I'm not sure that I actually WILL knit on it for a solid month, but I do have to get cracking on it. Lord knows that its solid-colored mate will be dead boring, so I need to just figure out a system for alternating projects. 

Go ahead, laugh. Because you've heard this before, right? 

I'll know for the second one, a really rather interesting shade of lime-ish-green (what was I thinking????), that you should use a similar weight yarn when you use a provisional cast-on. I'll grab some spare sock-weight yarn. I don't keep much lace-weight around, and I'm not burrowing into the stash to clip some off of the few hanks I have. 
Finished look

The beads for this lime-ish, pale avocado yarn are a pretty, slightly deeper shade of green - rather like a peridot. They look good with the yarn. The idea is that you wear these as a pair. See the picture - which is the one on the pattern itself. I've linked it up a few paragraphs. 

I love the layered effect, and I think this is totally do-able with just about anything in my wardrobe. When (if) I get another full-time job, it'll be a great pair to layer in the air-conditioned space - just enough to keep the draft off your neck, but not too much, since I'm having my own "personal summers" lately! 

The alpaca lace yarn is wonderful to use; it's so fine that you - or at least, I - worry about the strength, but the ply is nice and firm and I can see how lovely it'll be once it's blocked out. Yep, it's a hot mess when you look at that "before" picture. But the "after" will be well-worth it. 

It'll probably take every square of my blocking panels, and I'm really happy that at the Knitting & Crochet Guild expo a few years ago, I splurged on lace blocking rods. I'll need them. 

Speaking of a Job...

I was lamenting to my brother that jobs for people with my skills are just NOT happening. The state Department of Employment Security (ha) keeps sending me notices for job fairs, and most of them are of the "forklift, material handler, assembler" variety. 

I am absolutely not saying that I'm not "worthy" of such jobs. 

I just can't drive a forklift. Somewhere in all my education, I've never had a chance to learn that. 

So, Brother says, "I'll teach you."

And you know what? I may take him up on that. I'm handy. I can at least take a stab at this. He taught me to shoot a handgun and drive a stick-shift. I taught him to write a coherent memo and how to interpret a musical score. This could work...

In an interview I had recently, I was asked the question, "Where do you see your career going?" In my head, I answered, "I want to ramp down and not travel all over God's Green Acre, and have a job with some security." 

But what I answered instead was, "As you can see by my resume, I've had some interesting twists and turns in my career. I've always thought that my best career opportunities came when I opened my mind to different possibilities. Since I've never worked in this sector, but I have the skills and competencies you're looking for, I thought that this would be a very interesting possibility for me."

Oy, the schmaltz... 

But it's true. My best jobs have come when I've thought, "Hmmmmmm. This sounds interesting." I'm hoping that this interview comes to something, but you just don't know. 

Otherwise, I'm gonna learn to drive a forklift. 

Random Picture...

Do you get it?