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16 posts from May 2008

30 May 2008

I is for...

Idiot, as in "I am one of those."

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I meant to use the photo of the potato chip display from yesterday's post and write "I is for Ingenious (if I do say so myself)," but I forgot and went off in another direction.  I'm so far behind in the ABC-Along, which, by the way, I am hosting -- so don't anyone feel badly about lagging.  I recall slogging through the J-K-L area last time, too.  I'm actually super excited about and just biding my time 'til Q.  Heh.

And then this morning...  I is for "Is it too late?"  There was a discussion on my commute radio today about some companies and colleges adopting or looking at a 4-day week to ease fuel costs associated with the getting to-and-fro.  I've been on that type of schedule for over 4 years now, and I sure do love it.  One of the personalities took it a bit further:  You know what I'd like?  One of those jobs where you work for two weeks and get a week off... or work for three days and get two days off... like a fireman.  Yeah, wouldn't that be great?  Is it too late?  Is it too late to make a career change like that?

Interesting. I is for Is it too late?  Oh, how I've struggled with that question in so many areas of my life -- and continue to struggle, even while taking great strides toward change.  And it isn't just Is it too late?  A whole chorus of similar questions rushes in on its heels.  Can you do it?  Are you good enough?  Who'd want that?  Who do you think you are?  (This is only the tippy-top of the Is it too late? iceberg.)

Truth is, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know... I do know that it's too late when you give up or give in to the fright or don't even try.  It's taken a long while and many, many lessons to learn that and to build up the confidence.  It's taken a long time to learn how to put my blinders on and to stick my fingers in my ears and to move -- keep moving -- forward, eye on the prize and all that.  It's not too late.

I smiled when I read a line in Elizabeth's post the other day: "I hope when I am 80 I am still upgrading."  By that standard, it is certainly not too late for me.

It's not too late.  It's not too late to learn how to dream a little -- or a lot, with wild abandon.  Maybe that's the most important thing of all.  I have learned to let myself dream a little.  What would I do?  What could I do?  What do I want to do?  And then, How can I make it happen -- all or in part?  I encourage that kind of thinking in my kids all the time -- Go for it, You can do it, You can do whatever you want!

So can I.  If, for no other reason, as an eldest child and a mother -- one of those people always expected to set a good example (whether they frickin' want to or not) -- I feel that I must do as I say and, at the very least, model the behavior I have done so well to instill in and expect from my children!  It's not too late.

I get kind of emotional when I think of all the support I have received in dreaming little dreams and reaching for the stars -- from my family, especially my kids (plotz) -- and this is surely one of the ways in which blogging has enriched my life -- changed my life.

I'm scared as hell.  And that only means that it's time to put those blinders back on and stick my fingers in my ears and get to work -- own this new thing -- so that I can eventually spill it.

29 May 2008

A good day

Img_1642I had such a great day yesterday.  I got some work done at home, caught up with a neighbor while walking the dog, took care of some banking business (I'm official), went out to lunch, did a little running around/shopping with Mom, fit in a little grocery shopping, and got a package polished off and shipped.

I've been spending a little time every day getting my new workroom ready for painting.  It's the room most recently vacated by Alison and previously occupied by Katie; though never inhabited by Maddy it was my (& DH's) first bedroom in this house; for many years it was known as The Studio Annex and was no one's bedroom at all.

A few years after we moved into our house, DH added on to and converted part of a huge wrap-around rear porch into a studio to do painting and framing; he outgrew it after a while and took over the downstairs bedroom after some reapportioning of the rest of the house, hence The Studio Annex, which we often shortened to simply The Annex.

Img_1641_5Katie thinks I should call it The Annex again; no doubt, the girls all have some great growing-up memories associated with that space.  The new color, shown above-right, is called "Disco Ball" and I'll admit that I chose that particular shade of gray because of the name.  She works hard for the money!  Painting should commence soon and conclude over the weekend.

I bought three things yesterday -- all three on impulse, all three very reasonably priced, all three like unexpected treats and making me very happy!

I've been wearing earrings again and found (1) a cute turquoise pair made by a local artist (the mother of Maddy's prom date) at the new florist's shop, which we checked out for the first time.

I found some curtains to use in The Annex, but they're dark and don't always need to be closed, so (2) the vintage glass tie-backs I found will be put to good use.

The thing I'm most tickled with, though, is (3) this old potato chip rack -- there are little clips on both sides and some of them on the top row are turned to hold things up.  Dang, I'm going to have a BLAST with this thing!

And there was knitting to round out a most excellent day.  I finished the ribbing at the bottom of Mack's birthday sweater and have started the body.  The time is fast approaching that I'll have to finalize the design and (ugh) do the math.

28 May 2008

Neighborly

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One of my friends and neighbors recently split a rhubarb plant they had growing behind the garage and shared it with me!  It arrived in the mail yesterday.  From Long Island.  That's in NY.  From my neighbor who lives 1,036 miles away!

As I've said many times before, the internet is both a curse and a blessing -- bringing us so close together while we remain so far apart.

Well, it'll probably sound sappy (that's ME!), but I'll nurture this little rhubarb plant as a reminder of the blessings -- and I can't wait 'til next spring!  It's hard to believe that I've never had a rhubarb plant of my own.  Originally, I was going to put it behind my garage -- it's a "behind the garage" kind of plant -- but there was a perfect spot behind the house, just at the bottom of the stairs.

Thank you, Ann!

24 May 2008

What day is it?

Wow.  May is pretty much a blur -- actually, I think the blurring began way back at Easter -- everything's been thrown off since Easter, which came early -- and now Memorial Day seems like it's a week ahead of usual, and it's been so cold -- did I mention the frost warnings earlier this week?

Mother's Day was in there somewhere, and this was my gift from the girls:

Mothersdaymug1 Mothersdaymug2 Mothersdaymug3

Tulips by Katie, Bleeding Hearts by Ali, Fantasy Flower by Maddy.  Ali bought the (gigantic) mug at Starbucks; it came with a special marker to use for decorating.  They sat in a row on the couch at my sister's and I watched them decorate.  After drying for 24 hours, it was further cured in a low-temp oven for about a half-hour.  Voila!  The most absolutely perfect gift possible.

23 May 2008

Zoom-zoom

My alter-ego -- my inner Rhonda -- came out to play for a little while last night.  It was opening night at the local race track and I/Rhonda was there.  Unbelievable.  And fun!

I haven't been to stock car races since I was a little girl -- about 8 years old, in fact.  I don't remember all the details, but I sure do remember going with my uncle and cousins!  I'd spent most of that summer -- the one between 2nd and 3rd grade -- at my aunt's.  She had two kids several years old than me, a boy and a girl, and a little girl who was several years younger than me, and that summer she had a brand new baby boy.  I was thrilled to be her helper!  (In later years, it has occurred to me that my aunt didn't really need my help and that I was probably shipped off to lighten my mother's load a little bit -- mom was seven years younger and started later but already had more children than my aunt, and the marital problems were probably hitting another of the many crescendoes before that concert was finally over.)  I'd always run to pick up my cousin when he cried, and my aunt would always chide me for "spoiling" him -- as per popular child-raising belief at the time.  My aunt is a good cook -- as is my mother (I never had any complaints), but my aunt's repertoire was much different -- I got a little chubby that summer on German dumplings and began my lifelong love for poppyseed cake.

(The other obscure yet vivid memory from that summer is that I secretly devoured pulp magazines -- True Story, True Crime, True Detective -- back issues that had been cast off by my aunt's MIL.)

Anyway, I've lived less than 5 miles from the local track for a cumulative total of 25 years or so, I can often hear the zoom-zoom on race nights (every Thursday & Saturday, from May to October), I've watched pyrotechnics displays originating at the track from the roof of my house, I've always wanted to take my kids to the races -- just once -- and yet, last night was my first time through the gate.

I was one of a pair scoping out the place as a change-up in the venue for our company picnic.  Zoom-zoom.  We tested the food service -- including yummy grilled steak sandwiches and sharing a bag of Orbits mini-donuts (I haven't had those in YEARS); we tested the beverage service -- a small test because in a surprising move, the more refined inner Mary Jo conducted some "service tests" of her own at book club the night before; we checked out the merchandise and memorabilia offered by vendors; we checked it all out.

And we watched some races.  Little-bitty, custom-made "trucks" powered by snowmobile engines and various late-model, limited and/or super stock cars.  Oh my goodness, among my faves was the most adorable 1955 Chevy.  Still lookin' good and winning races.

Greased Lightning, anyone?

It'll do.  I think we're gonna have a blast.  The only thing is that we'll all have to remember to bring ear protection.

Oh, and after last night I believe there's a small change to Rhonda's story. Rather than working on her brother's pit crew at the race track, he's working on hers.  Zoom-zoom.

22 May 2008

Shady

I had my eyes checked yesterday for the first time in three years.  There is no change to the distance vision and the bifocal is being edged up just a bit.  I've been doing most of my reading without glasses altogether for the past few months.

Did you know?  My #1 requirement is a sun-clip and hardly anyone makes them anymore.  "They're so expensive... Styles change... They get lost or scratched or broken," I was told.  Hm, let me see...

One pair of glasses with a clip that I might lose or scratch or break for $399.99
      Total = $399.99

-OR-

One pair of "special offer" designer glasses for $314.00
      -PLUS-
One pair of "special offer" Rx sunglasses that I might lose or scratch or break for $264.00
      Total = $578.00

WTF?  I don't get it.  It can't be that difficult.

One of the seven pair with clips might work!  The girls will all be here this weekend and I will drag some combo of them with me to get some other opinions, probably check some other stores.  Maybe I'll have another peep show!  We could also see how the crow's feet have changed, the jowls have sagged, the eyelids have drooped over the past three years.

Um, maybe that'll be an ix-nay on the eep-pay ow-shay.

I might also consider something like EClips or (because at the price, I might not be able to resist) Tailored Sun-Clips.  Any other recommendations?

21 May 2008

Knitting, anyone?

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I did find a little bit of knitting time over the weekend.  I turned a corner on the fun kid blanket border -- which everyone loves and agrees that it's going to be hard to give away.  That only makes it extra-special.  I'm glad I love it so much.

Img_1214rI put the blanket aside on Saturday, though, and started on the "sweater with a truck on it" for Mack's birthday.  I'm knitting a Wee Wallaby in size 4 mostly with some Mission Falls cotton from stash, though the actual truck design (yet to be finalized and charted) will be in brand new Cascade something-or-other.  I accomplished quite a bit on the first sleeve while assisting at the rummage sale and had a couple of inquiries, too.  One man, mid- to late-20s I'd guess, asked, "What kind of knitting is THAT?"  Kudos for knowing that I wasn't sewing, but had apparently never seen DPNs in use before.  A little girl, probably 9 or 10, paid me for the item she purchased and asked me if I was knitting mittens!  There's a young 'un who knows her stuff!  She was genuinely interested to learn that I was working on a sleeve.

Thank goodness, we're in the midst of a very slow warm up -- I'm savoring every degree!  The biggest benefit to the cooler weather is how long the tulips last.

I've an incredibly busy day ahead -- lots of running around -- but book club is tonight and that'll be a great ending to the day.  We'll be discussing Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, which I am really enjoying but started late and certainly won't finish by tonight.  The next selection is my pick and I think I'm going with Julie and Julia.

My most heartfelt thanks to everyone who commented or emailed in response to yesterday's post.  I can't say thank you enough, but please know that the  perspective, insight and suggestions are helpful and greatly appreciated.

20 May 2008

There are no easy answers...

ETA:  I put this out here for awareness, mostly; because I know so many of you have daughters the same age as these girls -- the same age as MY girls -- if you haven't had a close-to-home experience like this yet, no doubt you will.

Life's been a little crazy around here.

Jenny* is a young person close to me who is in the thick of a situation and in need of advice.  I mentally ran through my checklist of potential sources of help, support and advice while speaking with her the other day, and "putting it to the blog" came up right quick.

Here's the deal:  Jenny's in college and shares a small apartment with Amber, a recent graduate.  Jenny and Amber have known each other for a few years -- they have mutual acquaintances and have hung out together -- they're friendly, but they're not really friends.  It's a pretty good situation as far as roommates go; there are no expectations beyond paying the rent and picking up after one's self.  They're not close, they don't call or text each other all the time, they don't go out for lunch or go shopping, they don't pop corn and watch movies in their PJs, they don't share secrets.

They didn't share secrets.

During the first several months after renting the apartment, Amber hardly ever stayed there.  She was always going home, traveling, staying with other relatives or friends, looking for a job.  After finding a full-time job in her field, she began working long hours and she still didn't stay there much -- or was there at different times than Jenny.

Jenny began to notice strange things -- particularly in the kitchen, particularly regarding her food, particularly regarding missing food.  At first, Jenny thought she was going a little crazy, but no...  It wasn't so much that food was missing, it was that extreme lengths were being taken to make it look as though it wasn't -- to make it look as if it was never disturbed, as if nothing ever happened.

If it looks as though nothing happened, then nothing happened.  Right?

One day, several weeks ago, Jenny and Amber were both home at the same time!  There wasn't a confrontation, so much, but there was a conversation... and an admission... actually, a heartbreaking, tearful, first-time, outpouring of a confession by Amber to Jenny that, indeed, she had an eating disorder -- bulimia.  Amber had never told anyone before -- and, really, she told more than Jenny wanted to know.  Amber seemed relieved to finally have made a confidant.

Jenny, however, is not so thrilled.  They're not much more than acquaintances who live together, remember?  Jenny is anything but insensitive, but there's no way in hell she's ready to make Amber's problem her own; the responsibilities and expectations in a situation such as this is not made clear in the rental agreement.

Now that Jenny is in the loop, Amber apparently feels that she no longer needs to conceal her food rituals from Jenny so much -- and Amber is around the apartment more often.  Jenny is made an unwilling witness to the binges; despite every effort to drown it out, she can hear the purging that follows; the apartment stinks.

Counseling, you say?  Yeah.  Amber's dad is a counselor -- an alcoholic high school counselor with an on-again off-again marriage and the baggage surrounding counseling and/or family in that poor girl's mind... has got to be a muddled mess and surely one of many countless contributing factors to her current state of mind.

I worked for a very short time with a woman so afflicted and, I'll tell you what, it is freakin' scary to be pulled into and made part of and witness to such a world, such an altered state of being.

The lease is up in August.  Does Jenny just suck it up?  Hold her breath?  Work a lot?  Tell someone?  Who?  Seek out counseling for herself?  Any words of wisdom in blogdom for either of these young women?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

18 May 2008

Endings

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Katie was in first grade in 1991 when this school celebrated its 100th year.  I remember attending the celebration with a brand new Madeleine.

I helped with the redecorating project.  Those handprints are actual handprints of actual kids -- not just one or two or six kids, but every single kid attending school at that time put prints on the wall!  I should have counted how many handprints line those halls -- how many red and green and purple ones -- that's the kind of silly thing I'd like to know.

I helped raise money for new playground equipment after vandals wrecked what was there and the kids went for a whole year with nothing but a few swings.  I painted Four Square lines on the blacktop, and a map of the United States.

Hmong women taught me how to make spring rolls in the school kitchen, and I showed them how Betty Crocker bakes a cake.

I volunteered and went on field trips and attending meetings and conferences and concerts -- oh, the concerts!  There was a boy in Ali's second grade class... I can't even remember what he sang, but I remember the feeling -- still -- pure rapture.

Ali was a pansy for the Mother's Day Tea in second grade -- every student was a flower and recited a verse.

I actually cried (I wasn't the only one) when Katie finished third grade and had to go to a different school -- this school only went to third grade.  I cried again today when I hugged one of those third grade teachers, just outside the door of her old room.

I attended an open house this afternoon, a farewell reunion marking the last year -- the 117th year -- this building will be used as a school. I don't know if it'll still be called "school," but it doesn't matter... just as my house is known as The So-and-So House, even though So-and-So hasn't lived here in 40 years or more (it was referred to as such even TODAY at SCHOOL talking with a man who used to live a few doors down), this place will always be School.  This will always be OUR school -- Katie's and Ali's and Maddy's school.  I couldn't have dreamed up a better school for my kids.  I'm so sorry for the families in the neighborhood who will never know what it's like to have a school in their own community.

15 May 2008

Up for air

School's out and my closet is clean -- the whole house, in fact, is cleaner than it's been in quite some time.  We've tossed much, donated much, aim to sell some -- beginning tomorrow, in fact, the first of a two-day rummage sale at Mom's.

Mother's Day has come and gone, and was very nice.  We celebrated with a family brunch in Madison and it was lovely with three varieties of quiche, grainy waffles, balsamic beet salad.  I have the most wonderful present from the girls to share -- as soon as I have a minute to take and download a picture!  I hung around in Madison for an extra day to care for my nephews on Monday -- including a meet-up in Verona with Gretchen and three of her kids, one of whom is only 2 days older than Mack!

There's a million things going on and it's just been a crazy, crazy week -- or two or three -- bordering on bizarre, even.  But not completely void of sane, grounding, beautiful, wonderful...

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...scary, exhilarating, fun times... some of them with my camera.  This is "one" of the million things.

Not sure when I'll be back, but I shall.

09 May 2008

No more pencils, no more books

No more teacher's dirty looks...

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER!!

Yippee!  Most kids at my school have another week, but due to an instructor scheduling conflict we met extra-long last night to take our final, do our presentations, and eat yummy treats.  Luckily, I left "room" for the possiblity of treats.  Mmmm, yum, sweet chocolate-cherry treats from the culinary department made under the direction of a real Certified Executive Pastry Chef (a very rare breed, I'm told).

I had only one class this semester -- after signing up for three right off the bat last semester (my first semester) and having to drop one -- mostly writing, it was good and challenging and very worthwhile, but I never felt over-extended.  Thank goodness.  I was most impressed and appreciative of the instuctor's constructive criticism and feedback.

I have learned so much about myself in the past year -- my learning style, my reaction to different teaching styles, reconciling the two when they don't jive -- that, alone, was worth tuition.

I'm taking the summer off -- doing and learning about some other things, thinking about and working out my direction and focus for the future.

But right now, I must keep my focus and carry on with the tossing, turning, cleaning, bagging, boxing around here... I'm like a steamroller, baby!

08 May 2008

Progress all around

Log Cabin Blanket Log Cabin (border detail)

Working on it, anyway.

Yesterday was not the greatest weather-wise, but today is much better and there's a load of wash destined for the clothesline in short order!

My closet does not echo, but it would... if it were 52 feet (I think) in any dimension, which my daughter informs me is the minimum space needed to produce an echo.  Something like that.  (It's stuff like this that gets caught in her brain that really hammers home how much she is her father's child.)

Back to it!

07 May 2008

Break time

There's a trash bag and a half (so far) destined for the thrift shop.  There's a pile of jumpers and dresses of possible interest to a sister or two.  There have been a few surprising discoveries -- things buried, stuff I'd forgotten about.  Also, there's more that fits me than I was expecting -- particularly in terms of summer season clothing.  That is good news.

I have kept a small selection of the next-size-down clothing.  There's quite a bit more in the next-next- and the next-next-next-size down -- my comfort range, which I'm aiming to reclaim.  I started the reclamation project last night.

White tulip

I drove downtown, as usual, to the coffee shop where we knit out every Tuesday.  I'm always early because it's wasteful in every possible way for me to go home and then go back.  There are one or two others who regularly show up early, and even if they don't...  I often have a sandwich and soup as fortifification for the evening of jovial knitting and socializing.  Well, last night I parked the car, locked it up, and walked.  I walked a few blocks west to a main intersection, crossed the street, walked many more blocks east to the "end of downtown," crossed the street, and headed west again 'til I ended up back at the coffee shop -- 1.25+ miles total.  First at a pretty good clip, then a little slower when I felt the shin splints.  I then had a caesar salad w/chicken and a minimal amount of dressing for supper, and cranberry-raspberry fruit smoothie for "dessert."  I'll have to find a replacement for the smoothie -- or make it a weekly treat.

There's a bit more to do in the closet, but there was an invitation to lunch -- which I never turn down -- and then I had to photograph these tulips... but I'm heading right back up there!!

Inside the white tulip

06 May 2008

It ain't gonna be pretty

Today is my last day at work until next Tuesday.  Tomorrow, I begin a cleaning/organizing marathon at home.

I'm starting with my closet.  There will probably be tears.

It's easily going to be the worst job of the week, so I may as well get it over with.  How's that for strategy?

To start, I'm stripping the bed.  The contents of the closet will be heaped upon it for sorting -- nothing that doesn't fit or that I don't like is going back in.

And the crying will commence.

Between the quitting smoking and the menopause, I've gained a lot of weight and half the clothes in there don't fit anymore.

I haven't worn a dress/jumper/skirt, to speak of, in the last three or four years, yet one entire rod is full of dresses/jumpers/skirts -- because there was a time (four of five years ago) when that's practically all I wore.

I've put this off for a while.

I wonder if there will be an echo in there.

On the bright side:  It's time to spring-wash all the woolies!

05 May 2008

H is for...

H is for heuchera

Heuchera.  It could also be for hosta, hangman, or huevos rancheros -- which yesterday's breakfast out with DH reminded me of and also because today is Cinco de Mayo!

Due to the shady nature of my yard, I spend a lot of time in the "shade" section of the nursery and have developed an appreciation for hostas because of it -- it verges on a collector mentality.  I am also, unfailingly, drawn toward heuchera -- commonly known as coral bells -- especially varieties with foliage other than green, which provide some COLOR in an otherwise mostly green, shady vista.

CONTEST REMINDER:  Don't forget about the "I" Contest for ABC-Along 2008, sponsored once again by Ina, the Jersey KnitterDeadline for entry is this Saturday!  Ina has posted all the easy-to-follow rules and regulations in her entry linked above and also on Ravelry and Flickr.

03 May 2008

Direct from Friday night...

Friday Night Blues

It's Saturday Sky!

We went to the "performance" and opening of the INSTANT ART SHOW at Main Street Art Works last night.  I loved the concept from the get-go -- each of the co-op's artists invited three or four other artists to bring their favorite work, find a place to install or hang it, then party "enjoy each other's company."  Yeah, it was well attended and really fun -- and (yay) even profitable for some.  I took a break from the fun, and took my camera on a walk around the block.

20080502_hilbert_0011 Log_cabin_progress_0042

Before I get kicked out of the knitting club, here's a fairly craptacular progress photo of the Log Cabin blanket as of... the other night (I don't remember which night).  I'm about at the point where I can decide whether I want to keep log cabin-ing all the way to the end, or do something different.  I'm leaning toward doing something different... like picking up and knitting a rainbow of squares all around the edge.  It's kind of a wild & crazy blanket, anyway; I think it could work.

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