Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year With My Yarn. Seriously . . .

I had a wakeup call yesterday.  Not only do I try to do too much.  I have too much yarn.

I have a scarytoomuchamount of too much yarn.

I decided that since the china hutch is sitting empty in my living room since the Hull is gone, that I would put the sweater quantities of yarn in there where they would look pretty and I could see them.



JesusMaryandJoseph.  This photo actually makes me feel uncomfortable.  There is enough here for 20 sweaters and 4 sweaters with long sleeves. And there's more that's not in there yet - at least three sweaters' worth more.  Not to mention accessories that can be made from the left-overs.

This is just not OK. It's too much.  Much like having too many African violets, it's not fun to contemplate this much yarn . . .

As you know, I have been divesting and making space in my life and home for the past few months.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before I took a serious look at my yarn stash. 

I am foregoing my annual trek up to The Fold on New Year's Day this year.  As much as there are friends I would love to see there, I don't want to be tempted to buy yarn on sale - and believe me, it's quite a sale. 

I'm looking to match up yarn with patterns and get started knitting some of this up - accessories as well as sweaters.  And you can be reasonably assured that there will be more yarn on my Ravelry trade/sell page in the relatively near future. 

I think it's reasonable to think I could have all the yarn in one place in my home instead of four . . .  (the yarnoire in the sunroom, the door chest in the guest room, there's still a little in the closet in the guest room and now the china hutch).  Guess we'll see by the end of the year how well I do with this notion  :-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Looking for the Balance . . .

I know I said I wanted to be living more in the present . . .  ;-)  I do.  I am.  But, it doesn't stop me from thinking about 2014 - particularly during these last days of the year.  I don't make resolutions anymore - but I do think about goals and things I would like to accomplish.

One of the things I have been seriously thinking about again is "A Year With My Yarn."  This is project I made up a couple of years ago - I've tried it before and not been particularly successful.  But I think 2014 is my year!  What is it?  It's me, looking at knitting with yarn I already have.  I don't choose to think of it as a "yarn diet."  We all know that the D word can really color an experience of any sort - so I prefer to think of it as A Year With My Yarn :-)  (I'm including fiber in this - I have plenty to spin up right here before I think about acquiring any more.)  I already know that I will have six skeins of yarn coming in next year because I treated myself to a membership in the Rockin' Sock Club again for 2014.  But other than that . . . well, I'm all about the balance in 2014, so I'm just going to take it day by day and use the yarn I already have.  It's time for my stash to become manageable again  :-)

I got a LOT accomplished with Project Zero for the last three months of the year, and that will continue in some format online in the Fish Knits Ravelry Group, but the Project Zero page here on the blog will go away.  I mean, I will certainly mention it from time to time, but I originally planned for it to just be a 3-month project, and the end of the three months will be here in less than a week.  I can let that go.  (Yay Me!!)

In addition, here is something that I have realized:  I try to do too much.  OMG I just crack myself up.  Are the tears running down your face from laughter yet?  :-D  :-D  Sometimes I'm not able to see the patently obvious . . . I try to do too much.  People have been telling me this for years.  :-D  Here's a good example - When I was actively participating in my 365 Project, I posted on the 365 site, but then felt like I had to post here, too.  Same thing with Project Zero - I started it in the YOSS Group on Ravelry, and then decided I had to chronicle it here, too. 

Double the work . . .

So, in looking for the balance in 2014, do I really need to do everything twice?  I think I can safely say that I don't.  I can and I will share stuff here - that's what this blog is for, but I no longer feel compelled to chronicle everything in multiple places.  I think this is a good thing  :-)   Good for me because it will be easier and I'll have more time to write, and good for you because you'll have links to other interesting websites  :-)  Win-win!!  Yay!!

Speaking of my 365 Project - I did get a new camera, a Fujifilm Finepix SL300, and I actually picked my 365 Project back up in these last few weeks of the year and likely will continue into 2014 again.  And I'll be sharing some of the photos here from time to time, but if you want to follow my life in photos, I invite you to the 365 Project website.  I'm on there as Annie97 - here is a link to my 365 Project and there is one over on the sidebar now  :-)  I also sent my Canon G11 in for repair, as mentioned last week - and I'm really hoping they can replace the lens because I liked it better than I like the Fuji.

I'm still - for the most part - an ovo-pescetarian.  The Strict Program for Three Months has pretty much become my way of life - so that will be continuing on in 2014.  I continue to look for the balance there as I could stand to be smaller, but the good news is that I have found that, for the most part, I don't enjoy eating the way I used to eat.  I do enjoy a good cheeseburger once in awhile (and that's like a couple three times a year which the doc says is A-OK), but that's about it.  French fries taste gross and too many sweets make me feel ill and trigger flare ups of inflammation.  So - I think I have done well in finding the balance here.  I could use some work on variety in my food, but I feel like I've got a good grasp on the day-to-day piece, and I'm pretty much off the anti-inflammatory drug I used to have to take because of the changes I've made this year.  Yay Me!!!!

So, those are the things I've been thinking about as I look toward the new year.  What about you?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I wish you a day of love and laughter and fun and happiness.  And I wish you a peaceful and loving spirit.  And I wish you all good things in the coming New Year.

This is a shot of my tree - my mom's tree, actually.  I still use it.  She loved all things iridescent  :-)  And this is now the only blue spruce around here . . . makes me love it all the more  :-)


Thank you for reading my blog - I think blogs are almost a little old-fashioned anymore, but I still love mine and I still love writing here, so although I have let a lot of other things go in these past few months.  I'm sticking here, so I hope you'll keep reading and maybe share it with your friends  :-)

Here is something peaceful to celebrate this wonder-filled and joyous day  . . .


Merry Christmas, and all good wishes for the coming New Year  :-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moving Forward . . .

What a weekend this has been.  Yesterday was just not a great day no matter how you shake it.


I did have some heartening news about my Canon G11 camera - I realized it's still under warranty, so I sent it back to the factory to see if they will replace the lens.  But that was about it on the happy possibilities front.

And yet . . .  I'm very sure that everything that has occurred in these last three weeks is all part of making space in my life for whatever is coming.  As I've said before - change is sometimes challenging.  And yet, if we can't change, we get stuck.  And if we get stuck . . . well, I'm sure you see where that analogy is going.  So, I keep moving forward.  Sometimes it's just looking for the next right step - no master plan, just the next right thing, one after another until I can find my footing and regroup.

Shedding the past and moving into the present.  I've been thinking about this lot - I have been living a bit in the future rather than the here and now.  Something for me to work on  :-)


Saturday, December 21, 2013

. . . and More Change . . .

I don't know how much more I can stand . . .

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to regular production of my podcast, All About African Violets.

Last week, I said goodbye to the Ravelry group of which I was a co-founder and co-moderator, Year of Stash Socks (known in the vernacular as YOSS).  After three years, the other moderators and I knew that it was time to say goodbye - it will shut down at the end of the year.

And today - on the Solstice - the shortest day of the year, I am saying goodbye to the stand of Blue Spruce trees in my backyard.

It's a gloomy, gloppy day here in Chicagoland.  And my heart is just breaking . . .  They have stood guard back at the wayback of my yard for the decade I've been here and many before.  The house was built more than 50 years ago and I'm sure these trees are at least 50 years old.  There are eight of them back here (and one in the front that's got to go, too).

You can see in this photo (although it's dark - really gloomy today) that they are so very ill.  They have something called cytospora canker and are dying from the ground, up.  They were all too far gone to be saved. . . 


They start cutting at the bottom and they took the biggest one first.

Then they work their way up as far as is safe and then cut the top off - here is the top, just falling (toward me actually).


And here is it on the ground.  I had to stop watching after this first one . . .



JesusMaryandJoseph I am so sad about this.  It's just horrible to see them come down.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Change is Hard . . .

Today I uploaded the last regular episode of my weekly video podcast, All About African Violets.  Producing this weekly series has been a labor of love for the past 18 months, but when I came back from Scotland in late October, I realized that it would soon be time to stop.

When I started, I knew that the podcast would be finite - that there would come a day when I would be out of naterial and it would be time to end.  At that time I figured if I could get all the interviews and show footage I hoped for and all the info/how to segments, I would have about 18 months of material.

I was pretty much right on the money.  It's right about 18 months - and if I were to continue production I would begin to repeat myself.

None of that makes it any easier to let it go.

I am blue - and yet I know that the timing is right.  It has been a tremendous ride, that's for sure.  I met so many viewers at various events, and so many were active participants with me - asking questions and leaving comments on the website and FaceBook page.  I learned so much from all the guests who were gracious enough to sit down with me for 15 or 20 minutes (sometimes longer!) to share their experience and their knowledge with me and my viewers.

I produced a weekly episode faithfully for 76 weeks - I never missed an episode, even when I was traveling.  It was a lot of work, but man, it was a LOT of fun  :-)  And it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  For a niche podcast, it developed a pretty substantial audience that was international in scope early on and continued to grow throughout its entire run.

All the episodes will remain on the website for the foreseeable future so that people can still access them and recommend them to other growers, as well as newbie growers.  And yes, I've thought about DVDs - I'm looking into that possibility.  And I'm quite sure to film some "specials" in the coming months, but regular production has ceased.

I would estimate that stopping production will give me back probably 4 - 5 hours back into my weekends.  It might not sound like a lot, but to someone who works full-time, it's a gold mine.  Four or five more hours. . .  that's huge.

I believe that letting go of my podcast is part of the way that I am making space in my life for whatever is coming, and I continue to physically divest here in the house - making space both figuratively and literally in my life and in my home for whatever is coming.  I still don't know what that might be, but my heart and spirit are open to it and I know it will appear when the time is right and all will be made clear.  In the meantime, I'm embracing the gift of time I have just given myself.

I finished the episode on Friday night and did the editing and took care of the post production details yesterday.  And then.last night, for the first time in weeks, I had enough energy and enough time at the SAME time to finally get a good pipe practice in.  It felt really good to sit down and just play again.  I can already see some of those found hours given to pipe practice.  :-)

Hard to believe (how did 18 months fly so quickly?!).  Sad in some ways (saying goodby on camera was hard).  Exciting in others (something is coming and I'm preparing for it).

Change is hard - but change is inevitable.

A friend gave me this years ago - I keep it where I can see it every day.  It's how I'm feeling right about now:


Sign

 The teeny weeny print says: "Pluck" on the yellow bag.  And on the right: "Her heart glowed with a degree of happy assurance."

I LOVE this - and although my heart is sad, it's also glowing for whatever comes next. And so I'm embracing this change in the routine of my life and I will keep moving forward. :-)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Time Warp. . .

It's astounding . . . Time is fleeting . . . Madness takes its toll . . .

I know I say this a lot, but I'm really finding that the older I get the more time seems to compress for me.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about that - however, I know how I feel about the alternative, so I just keep moving forward  ;-D

Am heading back into the regular world after a really nice four-day weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I went downtown to catch up with a friend on Saturday - we went to see Straight No Chaser and then had dinner at McCormick & Schmick's.  Straight No Chaser was amazing, although I didn't care for the girl who was their opening act, and McCormick & Schmick's is a really easy place for an ovo-pescetarian to be able to eat.  Yay!

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.  I went to church.  I haven't been in quite awhile.  People used to give me a hard time about just going to church rather than singing in the choir, and so I avoided going for quite some time.  But also, I found that I often just really have needed to have Sunday to get ready for the week to come.  But I want to go during Advent - particularly as I am in this place of transition.  It was good.

Yesterday I updated my destash on Ravelry and sold a bunch of Wollmeise pretty quickly.  Got it all packaged up and am hauling a big bag of packages downtown with me today to get it all in the mail.  I did treat myself to the 2014 Rockin' Sock Club, so there will be yarn coming in next year - and I also got a sweater's worth of Wollmeise DK weight - I'm praying that I don't find it as splitty as the sock yarn . . . But other than these two purchases, I think I'm done again buying yarn/fiber for a really long while.  The yarn I got in Scotland arrived a few weeks ago (still in the package - I need to photo it and put it away), but that's really it here. I'm going to try "A Year with My Yarn" again in 2014.  I didn't do so well last time, but I'm going to see how it goes - I do believe that it's completely possible to not buy any yarn or fiber in 2014.

The other thing I treated myself to (my Christmas present  :-)  ), was a new treadmill.  Yes!  A Sole F85 is on its way to me now, and if all goes well, it will be ensconced down in the basement before Christmas.  I really, really miss having a treadmill and am really, really looking forward to having one again.  It's harder to get smaller - harder even to maintain - without it.

The destash of my home here continues, because the other thing I did yesterday was begin to gather up all the old electronics in this house that I don't use any longer.  My cousin's husband knows a place that will take all this stuff - they either repurpose it for folks with cerebral palsy, or if they cannot use it, they will recycle it properly.  So - three old cell phones and two old PDAs later, everything that I can delete has been deleted and I have a small bag of that stuff complete in some cases with software and cables  :-) 

Next up I have two old laptops - one of which is my old DOS dinosaur that I took with me on "The Summer O' Fun" in 1997 when I drove all of old Route 66.  I'm going to fire it up tonight and pull off whatever is left on it  :-D  My other laptop is much more recent and I will be able to grab stuff from it onto a thumb drive.  Then there are two old computers in the garage that have been sitting around - everything that could be removed is already off of both of them.

I did look into recycling all the old paint and old fluorescent tubes/lights and batteries.  the places I've found so far want money to do that - but I'm supposed to check at the hardware store as they at one time had a thing going with ComEd where they would take the CFs and tubes.  I'll do that sometime this week.

I did manage to finish up a pair of socks over the weekend:
 
Patty Socks 1

Just some plain vanilla's.  The yarn is Happy Hands Toe Jamz.  It's 75/25 Merino/Nylon, but not superwash.  Still, very festive!  These are for a friend of mine in Colorado who suffered a closed-head/traumatic brain injury when she fell from her horse.  She has a long road to recovery and I thought they might help keep her feet warm on the journey.

There are a lot of knitting projects just waiting for my attention . . . again, I am in the position of casting on more than I finish  ;-)  I'll be remedying that in the weeks to come.  At least that's the plan.

The house is decorated for Christmas - as much as it's going to be.  I didn't do much this year, but it's enough - and more importantly, it's all I really felt able to do this year.  It's enough to raise my spirits, but not so much that I have to dread mid-January when I'll have to put it all away!

Onward  :-)

p.s. Oh, and you're welcome for that earworm - I would have included the video for you, but You Tube and Blogger were not playing nice this morning  :-D

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday . . .

I used to love to go downtown on Black Friday.  This was back in the day when Marshall Field's and Carson's were still fixtures on State Street.  I loved the hustle and bustle, and seeing the windows . . .

Those days are gone, much the same way Field's is.  And there's a Target where Carson's used to be.  And I find that the crowds now are far less civilized.  Times change.  Hard for some of us . . . 

I spent a quiet Thanksgiving by myself yesterday - and it was really great.  I ate food that I normally avoid, drank some root beer and a ginger ale (again - not normal), and I watched all three of my Netflix (which have been languishing since early September for lack of time . . . ).  On that score - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a lovely little film; Les Mis was just not so great . . . ; and Life of Pi is well worth seeing.  I got some knitting done. Did I mention that I ate food that I normally avoid?

Yeah - well, it's been kind of a crazy couple of weeks on that score.  I really haven't felt well for a couple of weeks - probably some low-grade intestinal bug,, but it's made me really tired.  Long story short, after the bottle of Gatorade I had to have last week, my body has been seeking sugar again.  And I indulged it because it did give me more energy, which I really, really needed - and I really didn't feel the effects too much which was really surprising . . .

Really???  Well, yeah - I mean, I didn't feel the effects.  Not right away . . .

No, not right away, but the cumulative effect of a little sugar here and a little more there in these past few weeks smacked me upside the head this morning - or should I say grabbed my joints in a vice grip.  I totally blew past the envelope - forget about pushing, I turbo'd right through.  I mean, really?  If I needed any more proof about how sugar and highly processed foods affect my body, I have it now, because the chickens came home to roost today.  Everything hurts, and after months (and I was SO excited to be not taking it anymore . . . ) of being off my anti-inflammatory, I had to take one this morning. 

I just made a very healthy dinner and had it for breakfast  ;-)   I do that a lot - I'd rather eat a flat omelette for dinner and food thought of traditionally as dinner food early in the day.  Seems to work well for me, and since I live alone, I don't have to cater to anyone else's tastes  ;-D

What did I learn from this?  Well, I've learned in the past few weeks that I need to get more fish in and more veg in.  Those things help my energy levels.  I've been skirting the edge of being a carbetarian, and it's not good.  Not best for me.  It hasn't helped that I'm still without a treadmill.   Man - I really miss it. 

So, to paraphrase Dr. Wayne DyerSugar, Be Gone!  Right back to avoiding sugar and highly processed foods, getting more fish protein, going a little easier on the peanut butter and nuts, carbs more from fruits and veg again, and a renewed focus on moving forward.

I am thankful to have figured this out.  Yay Me!

I must have Ally McBeal on the brain - here is one of my favorite Vonda Shepard tunes from the soundtrack. 



 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Letting Go . . .

This has been a really good catch up weekend.

Yay Me!!!!

The divesting here continues apace . . .  it's kind of an obsession now, to see what else I can let go.  I have to say that it feels really, really good.  It's lighter, and less energy is needed to navigate my days now that there is less and less stuff here.  I like it.  A lot.

Friday night was spent in the basement sorting all the Christmas stuff.  I have three empty Christmas boxes now, and one less ornament box.  This is a pretty big deal.

Saturday morning, the AT&T guy came and fixed my phone and Internet (someone disconnected me at the box . . . who knows why), and while that was going on, I did a few winterizing things here, and got the car loaded to head to the Second Chance Shop.


2nd Chance

I would say that I divested about half of all the stuff I had.  I have a full-size station wagon, and the back was completely full, with a couple of things in the back seat for good measure.  This was the second time I have downsized Christmas.  The first was about 6 or 7 years ago, I think.   This one was a pretty substantial downsizing, and I figured that the shop could put this stuff out right away and make some quick money for the shelter, so I wanted to accomplish it this weekend.  Yay!

Then, I sorted half a file drawer last night and half this morning.  There are six file cabinets to sort through - this one was probably one of the worst.  All this stuff came out of one drawer.  Looks like I'll be shredding stuff later today.
 
Drawer 1

I did find a lot of stuff - a lot of comics that I saved for whatever reason.  Some I tossed, but some I'm going to scan so I can save them.  They still make me smile  :-)

I'm really glad to at least have one drawer sorted, and I think this was the one that probably had the most stuff that I could toss.  Yay me!!!

I just keep going, looking for things that no longer serve me - things I can do without.  I mean, if I got run over by a bus tomorrow, I would really hate for someone else to have to go through all the crap in this house.  Not that I'm planning on making contact with a bus any time soon  :-D  Seriously, I just want less stuff around me.  Someone else can have all this stuff, and if the shelter makes money in the bargain, then it's all good.

So, time to head to the store, and then get started with the shredding.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Liminal Space . . .

I've been thinking alot lately - always dangerous, that  ;-)  - and it's becoming clear to me that I'm in a transitional place in my life.  Again.  I'm not quite sure what this transition is yet, but it's something.  I've spent the last couple of months divesting both physically and spiritually and making room in my life for whatever is coming.  For something is coming - make no mistake.  I just have no earthly idea yet what it could possibly be.  And as I continue to strip away the trappings of my life that no longer serve me, I find myself in liminal space. I'm right there - at the threshold, and it's irritating as hell that I can't get through the door - hell, I can't get a fix on anything . . .

But I keep thinking and trying to figure it out, rather than just letting it unfold, which would, of course, be the better plan.  Somehow, though, I was behind the door when they were passing out patience . . .   At any rate, it will unfold if I would just let it.  Seriously, it's like picking a scab - you can't do that and expect something to heal.  Well, it's the same way here - you can't push the river, it's going to go along at its own pace and in its own time.  I really can't imagine that I am as impatient as I am, and yet, there it is.  But I keep thinking.  And lately, these are the things I have been thinking about . . .

I am Not 25 any Longer . . .

I am not old.  And I continue to look pretty much at least a decade younger than I am, but as I inch toward what, to me, is a crazy number in age, I have come to the crossroads of realizing that I have to conserve my energy better.  For someone who has always had more energy than the average bear (  ;-) ), discovering that I don't any longer, is a pretty tough lesson.  As mentioned, I look substantially younger than I am - and I'm in pretty good shape, and for the most part, I really do still have a really lot of energy - far more than pretty much anyone else I know no matter what age they are, truth be told.  But my last two weekends were crammed with stuff and I've been paying the price ever since, and I know, I swore up and down that I wasn't going to do that now that summer is gone, but stuff just came up and it seemed smart to do it all. (Really, A???)

Except for now when I've spent the last two weeks trying in vain to catch back up and feeling tired and having no energy and not sleeping enough.  I mean when I don't have the energy to play my pipes for a week and half, you know something's not right.

The kicker came on Tuesday.  I was working out with my trainer as I do nearly every Tuesday morning at 5:30 a.m. at the club.  I hadn't felt all that great for a few days - just generally tired and not sleeping well - a little stress, I guess - nothing serious, but my sleep patterns get disrupted with stress.  And since I didn't feel all that great, I hadn't been eating all that much - which is great on the scale, but apparently not so great otherwise . . . A half an hour in to my workout, I got the wobblies.  Wobbly = I have to sit down before I fall over.  My trainer's normally calm demeanor ratcheted up about five notches as he grabbed my arm, led me to a seat, and instructed one of the club employees to go downstairs and get me a Gatorade.  He took my blood pressure and checked my pulse.  I figured the BP was probably a little low - and he had been kicking my ass, but it was still only 110/62.  I don't know - doesn't your BP go up when you work out?  If so, then it was low.  Whatever.  I had to drink an entire bottle of red Gatorade.  I tried to get up and walk about halfway through.  That wasn't a good plan.  Back to the seat and the rest of the Gatorade.

That stuff is gross.  And it's full of sugar - which was apparently what I needed.  My trainer had to leave by then and he didn't want to leave me - but I assured him I'd be fine, and one of the other guys at the club kept an eye on me until I finished the Gatorade.  I was still a little wobbly, so I took the elevator back downstairs, but I wasn't wobbly bad enough to warrant anything further.  I got my coat on and got to the car and by the time I was halfway home, I was feeling much more like my usual self.

So, um, apparently I have to make sure I have protein the night before I go to the club.  And I need to sleep better.  And I need to not keep doing so much stuff all the time.  Stop laughing.  I'm doing the best I can, but stuff keeps creeping up on me, and it always seems like a good idea at the time . . . and it's not like I don't want to do all the stuff I do - I do.  But geez . . . well, you see my dilemma:  How do you begin to say no to things you've always said yes to in the past?  Always been happy to say yes to . . .  How do I get through the doorway to a more even keel?


When you Weigh Less, You get Cold more Easily . . .

At least I think that's what's going on.  I generally keep my house between 62-65 degrees F in the winter.  This year, I'm physically much smaller than I have been in well over a decade.  Being an ovo-pescetarian has really made a difference for me in the size department.  Yay!  But this means that I don't have as much padding as I used to . . .  I suppose it could also be that now that I'm officially menopausal, I'm not as warm as I used to be (because my own "personal summers" are few and far between now).  I don't know - that's just a guess - but in any case, I find myself having to use both bed quilts when I first fall asleep, or sitting in my sunroom wrapped up in a shawl and wearing my blue penguin fleecy pants a whole lot more often than I think I should be having to.  Linda the Chicken Lady thinks I should have my thyroid checked, but having dropped my dosage once before (many years ago) when I got smaller, it was a complete disaster - so I'm thinking that's not what's going on here.

One of my friends said, "old people get cold more easily."  Other than wanting to give him a swift crack, it's possible that he might have a point, but really, I think it's just another foible of a middle-aged body and my inability thus far to get myself on a more even physical keel.  Kinda like when I drink wine now, my face gets much redder than it ever used to.  I read recently that that's a sign of alcohol sensitivity, which makes sense because I never had all these weird food sensitivities when I was a kid.  That alcohol might be added to that list seems quite plausible.

Anyway - I rinsed the main furnace filter and will change the filter on the other furnace tonight, and I'm seriously considering taking the hit in my pocketbook to have the heat up a little higher in the house this winter.  The plants will like it, that's for sure.


You Never Stop Missing Your Mom . . .

My mom has been gone now for nearly a decade, and just this week I miss her so much that it makes my heart hurt.  So many things I should have asked her.  So many things I WANT to ask her.  So many times I still want to be comforted by her (those have always been pretty much along the lines of "Mom, I did a really stupid thing and now my life is over . . . " I was always the more dramatic one.)  She knew everything - she knew where to find anything you could possibly want - and she always knew what to say or do in any given situation.  She really did.  And when I'm in a place of not knowing or of transition, like I am now, is when I miss her and her counsel the most.  She would know what to do about being tired, she would know what to do about whatever my latest stupid move happened to be (and OMG I have made a ton of them over my lifetime thus far - oftentimes one more stupid than the next  :-D), she would know all the stuff that I somehow managed to not learn before she left me.

Why didn't I pay better attention?  Why didn't I ask more questions?  Funny, that one, because, if you could ask her, she would tell you that I asked WAY more than my share - one of those "you're just like your father" moments - apparently he always needed the details, too.  She never asked as many questions as I always have - and she never sweated the small stuff.  And as much as I have striven to live my live with joy and purpose after her example, I feel lately like I never seem to quite get to the place where she comfortably lived her life.  Or I get there - for about a half an hour - and then it all goes pear-shaped.

Anyway . . .

Like I said, I've been thinking lately - and I think the holidays affect me more than I ever realized - or perhaps they just affect me more now than they used to.  I'm hiding out for Thanksgiving this year.  I have one thing planned with one of my good friends, but that's it.  My extended family is scattered for the holiday and I am very much looking forward to just regrouping/recouping on my own.  I'm going to downsize Christmas again this year (starting this weekend while I'm waiting for the phone guy to show up and figure out how come I all of a sudden don't have any dial tone or Internet) - and I don't think I'm going to put up the big tree.  Somehow it just seems overwhelming . . . I think I'll just get Mom's little tree out - the one she switched to after she gave up all her Christmas stuff - it's already lit and decorated.  You just have to take it out, fluff it up a little, and plug it in.  That sounds pretty perfect to me this year.

And so it goes - I am at the corner of walk and don't walk.  I'm not sure which way to turn, so I guess I'm going to have to be patient for awhile longer.

Please wish me luck.

Here's The River . . .






Thursday, November 14, 2013

Really????

It all started with black pants, a black tank, and little Liz Claiborne black feather cardi (patterned with feathers in muted colors, not actual feathers :-D)  . . .

Perfect little work outfit, don't you think?  Yeah, I thought so, too.

We were both wrong - here's how quickly it all went pear-shaped . . .

I check my look in the mirror and I look down.  The tank is WAY too low cut for the office (possibly too low cut for anywhere now that I have these great new Panache SuperBras from Bravissimo in Edinburgh) - let me just say that my girls have not looked this good in a VERY long time - but I digress . . .

Anyway, I decide to go with a sweater instead. . . that apparently biased when it went to the dry cleaners :-S  That was bothersome because it was my mom's and I really like it.  Off with that, at which point I notice that the hem of my black pants is out on the right leg.  

Great.

I start pawing through the closet looking for another pair of black pants.  No black pants.  Oh hell - REALLY??  I have only ONE pair of black pants????  Crap.  How can that BE???  I see another pair toward the back - tags still on and I grab them, praying they fit because they are from four years ago when I got smaller before I had plantar fasciitis.  They fit.  I managed to get the tags off and put them on.  Eureka!!  Yay me - they didn't fit a month ago.  

OK - at least I have pants.

But they are navy blue.

See above for why the original top that went with the black pants didn't go with the blue pants (or any pants at all for that matter).  I give the biased sweater one more try with the blue pants.  No.  The blue pants do nothing to alleviate the wonky curving line of dark buttons on the oatmeal-colored sweater that starts properly right between my girls, and ends up wrapped around my right hip.  :-P  

Alrighty then.  

Next, a cute blue/green/white leaf patterned top (I love leaves) with 3/4 length sleeves (I also love 3/4 sleeves).  Too summery, too baggy in the body, and not long enough in the length.  No.

Then a long-sleeved blue top with false cuffs and collar.  Color OK with the blue pants but it looked dorky on me.

Second Chance Shop: 3    A: 0

FINALLY, a nice teal-colored v-neck tee with 3/4 sleeves that I just got at Chico's. Fine with the blue pants. Cute, fits, long enough in the body and whothehell cares about the arms because they are 3/4.  Did I mention that I love 3/4 sleeves?  I do.  I really do.

I missed my train.  I missed the second train.  I missed the late train.

I suppose it's a good problem to have that all of a sudden I have a lot of choice in what I want to wear every day, but really????  I'm going to have to plan better - and I need a new pair of black pants that fit.

It's a good thing I have a good sense of humor.

:-D 

p.s.  You can get Panache SuperBras on Amazon - you don't have to order overseas - I like the Andorra  :-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Geez . . .

This coughing up a lung phase of the stupid cold I had is really getting old now.

I'm serious.  I cannot stand this.

There's no reason for me to still be coughing - and yesterday I had one of those episodes where I thought I was going to expire - you know, the kind where you're coughing so hard you're choking because you can barely get air into your lungs, succeeding only to violently cough some more, tears running down your (by now) red/practically purple face.  At work.  Great.  :-S

Geez.  Some days having asthma is the worst.  I would say all days, except that normally my asthma is so well managed and controlled that I barely remember that I have it.  It took me a long time to get to that place - for years I tried to pretend I didn't really have asthma.  I was so angry . . . it robbed me of my professional singing voice, and since I very much defined myself as a singer, it was way hard to lose something so precious to me.  I spent so long fighting - not taking my meds (they affect my vocal control), which would inevitably lead to a bad, bad crash.  Finally, one day, my asthma doc here said something that made sense to me and the lightbulb went on - it went pretty much like this:

"A, if you had a chronic condition like high blood pressure, would you take medication to control it?"

"Yes, certainly I would - my mom had high blood pressure - you have to take your medication for it because they call it the silent killer and it's doing damage if you don't take your meds." (Out of the mouths of goofballs . . . how is it that sometimes it's so hard to see the forest for the trees?)

"A, asthma is like high blood pressure - it's a chronic condition. I can't make you take your medication, but pretending you don't have it - how's that working out for you?"

LIGHTBULB

"Oh . . ."

That was probably seven or eight years ago now, and since learning to manage it, I've gone down to the lowest dose of one med, and then down further to the lowest dose of the one below the first one.  I RARELY have to use my rescue inhaler.  Seriously, like maybe once a year.  But whenever there is an upper respiratory thing going on, that's when things go pear-shaped.

Four puffs off my rescue inhaler (that's two doses - which is actually a lot) managed to quell the cough yesterday, allowing me to breathe again, but it was hours before my face turned back to its normal color, and I was zippy all afternoon from the inhaler - and then, I was wiped from all that coughing and my lungs were hurting.

So steps are being taken  :-)  I have some cough stuff from the doc that I pickdc up tonight - enough is enough.  I'm not sick anymore and there's no reason for me to be coughing like a fiend.  And I got to get some butter rum Lifesavers - what a treat!!  :-D

In other news of the day, I had a good lesson last night - making my brain work learning new tunes when I haven't even memorized the old ones yet.  I didn't have the wherewithal to really get a lot of practice in this last week - when your lungs are cranky, playing a wind instrument isn't always that appealing.  There is a part of me that occasionally peeps out and says, "You really think you're going to COMPETE???   Really????"  with a snide little snicker.  And my response continues to be, "Why yes, yes I AM going to compete next summer.  What about it?"  I need a goal to work for - competing seems to be the best way for me to focus.

And I received notice today that FINALLY my kilt fabric has been woven and is now on its way to me after multiple delays.  I'm looking forward to seeing it.  Next I need to get some ghillies.  Ian has a source for those.

I got my pipes back on Sunday with their new sheepskin bag - what a difference!  For years I had a Canmore bag (which is made out of Gortex), and then about a year and a half ago I got a hide bag which was much different than the Canmore - and quite heavy.  Ian, my teacher, was right (he pretty much always is) about sheepskin.  I think it's going to be worth the care it requires.  And speaking of Ian - even though I had a tough time last night - I got a "you're right" about a grace note, which made us both laugh out loud, because I'm hardly ever right about a grace note 

That's probably only funny if you're a piper.  :-D

I'm doing pretty well with Project Zero and have completed a lot of stuff from the reserve list as well as stuff that wasn't actually on the list (clearing the wetbar over the weekend wasn't on the list - but it was necessary).  There is another carload for the Second Chance Shop on Saturday, and I'm donating all my weaving books to the local library - they are great references for someone who does textile weaving.  I continue to make space for whatever is coming into my life.  I still don't know what it is, but I am still led to make space in all areas of my life.  I'm thinking that the basement is going to have to be tackled at some point. . .

Still trying to decide about what treadmill to get - the old one is out in the garage now, waiting for trash day.
 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall Back . . .

I totally forgot to turn the clocks back this morning  :-D  I just did it now, and I'm all happy that I have an extra hour today!

Been sorting through and washing the crystal that's been resting on the shelves of my wetbar.  Most of it was my mom's from the time we lived in Germany.  Most of it is Nachtmann, which was readily available at the post shopping center.  My mom just loved it . . . you can see where this is going, can't you?  What you find on the Nachtmann website now is far more modern than anything I have from those years when we lived there.  I have two little covered trinket boxes that I treasure - that's pretty much all I need, I think. 

I also just wrote to Kosta Boda in Sweden about the two "Artist Collection" vases that I have - a gift from an old boyfriend.  I can't find any mention of them online so am trying to get a valuation on them.

And then, I have to decide if all this stuff goes to the Second Chance Shop or if I sell it on consignment.  For now, it's going into the empty china hutch.  I'm checking with a few family members before making any final decisions, but no matter how that shakes out, they need to go now.

I keep divesting - keep letting things go.  It's good - it really is.  Too. Much. Stuff.

I'm on the tail end of this cold I came back with from Scotland.  Still coughing a bit - would be quite happy to have that be done, so I'm taking steps today to get more moisture into the house, and will sleep with the vaporizer tonight.  This will entail a trip to my favorite store, Walgreens, to get some more Vicks - both for my chest/lungs and for the vaporizer.

It's November.  I'm finding that hard to believe . . . I think I post a version of this every year . . .   (he put the music to Johnny Mercer's lyrics) . . . one of my all-time favorites.



 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Moment of Silence . . .

I'm falling right back into the groove of my regular life after my extended vacation. 

I still have an interesting voice from the cold I've had, but all the laundry got done and I'm back on my regular track of tracking my food on FitBit and logging my steps. 

Woke up a little early, but got up and got dressed and headed down to the basement to hit the treadmill to start my walking program up again.  So, I'm down there, catching up on the Proverbial Knitter podcasts that I missed while I was away.  I'm walking - not very fast - probably about 2.8 mph just to ease back into the groove.  About 20 minutes in to my 30 minutes, the incline indicator started blinking the number 47.  Weird, but I put the iPad over it so it didn't distract me.  And I'm walking . . .

And then I'm not walking. 

WTH?!

I got off the treadmill and turned it off and turned it back on (a pretty good remedy for pretty much anything electronic  ;-D), and got back on.  For another seven minutes. And it quit again.

So, after tens of thousands of miles, it's pretty clear that the treadmill is finally going to need to be replaced.  It is about 12 or 13 years old, so I would say that I certainly got my money's worth.  I'm going to make a call to see if it's worth trying to fix it, but I'm thinking that it's time for a new treadmill.  Highly likely that that will be my Christmas present to myself.

And speaking of Christmas.  I'll be listening to Christmas music starting today  :-)   I love it!!!  And just in case you didn't know, there are only eight Saturdays left before Christmas.  So it's probably time to get cracking on shopping, particularly if things have to get mailed. 

This is a crazy video with all the animals and such, but I love Ceelo - and this is the perfect song to start thinking about Christmastime  :-)

 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Home Again, Home Again . . .

Jiggedy Jig  :-)

I know it's been a long time between posts, but I've been out of the country for most of the month of October.  It's cold here now - it wasn't when I left  :-D

It was a pretty great trip, but I came home with a nasty cold - and upper respiratory things are always worse when you have asthma.  But, there was an antibiotic waiting for me here when I got home on Thursday to nip the lung infection pretty quickly, and I'm coughing the gunk up out of my lungs now  (Eeuuwwww - I know - TMI).

I'm feeling quite human today, and I have my jet lag on the run!

Here I am outside of Culloden House.  I think this was my favorite place - I felt like I was in Downtown Abbey - and I bought this great hat which is very 1910's in style, I think.  Plus it fit my big melon head, so of course, I had to get it :-D  I look a little lumpy because I had a bunch of layers of clothing on  :-D
 
Me in Scotland

Here are the socks I finished on the trip - photo'd in the drawing room at Culloden House.

 
Socks

Here I am clay pigeon shooting - truthfully, I was posing  :-D  I did try it, and managed to get off four shots before my shoulder was so painful that I had to stop  :-D  You can tell that I'm posing because my finger is not on the trigger.

Clay Pigeon

This photo was taken as we got on to the Isle of Skye.
 

Skye

And I tried to recreate it in one of the tapestries that I wove.  Here they both are - the first, smaller one (blue and green) is a sampler - learned with Louise Martin, one of the weavers who worked for a decade on the Stirling Castle tapestries.  The second (landscape) is the one I did with Louise Oppenheimer.  Both Louises were awesome and wonderful teachers.

 
weaving3

This is one of the better photos I took the entire trip - I was shooting on my iTouch as the flaw in my regular camera lens was far too noticeable to use it.  That meant that I experienced this trip very differently, because for once I was actually LOOKING at what I was seeing, rather than looking at it through a camera lens.  I kinda liked it :-)

So, now I'm recovering and very glad that I built in an actual recovery day into the trip.  I feel like I'm coughing up a lung, but I'm much better than I was yesterday, and I'm already falling back into my weekend routine.  The suitcase has been exploded and nearly everything accounted for either put away or washed, and Monday I will be back to work with October nearly gone and November waiting in the wings.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Project Zero . . .

Things are sort of settling into a rhythm here now that fall is in the air.

I swear on all that's holy that I am going to be better about scheduling myself into oblivion.  These first two weeks of September have been pretty good in that respect.

I'm pretty much back to normal in terms of my schedule - but since last fall, I have added in pipe practice.  And, I've started writing morning pages again just this week.  There seems to be a lot on my mind in so many areas - morning pages always help with stuff like this.  If I can get things down on the page, then I can begin to sort through it all . . .   :-)

I'm looking at a better schedule for my mornings, where on non-club days I get up and write pages immediately and then walk, and then practice a little.  It's still not perfect as I need more practice time, and on work out mornings at the club, I find myself writing my pages on the train  :-D  But I'll figure it out and get it going smoothly.

Something that I'm adopting for the rest of the year is a technique I heard about through Paula at The Knitting Pipeline.  She calls it Project Zero.  I took it a little further, and tied my experience with the Law of Diminishing Returns to it.  Long story short, is that I'm tacking three projects at a time.  No more. 

I still have my huge list of "reserve projects," but only three are at the forefront at any given time.  Thus, things become much more manageable and I feel that I will be able to get more accomplished over time rather than sitting with a gigantor list of projects constantly staring me in face.  Some are knitting and fiber related, but some are not.

For example, right now, the top three (i.e., the ones I'm actively working on until they are completed) are:

1.  Wash all the Hull Pottery to go to auction
2.  Block the Clapotis
3.  Catalog all the Hull Pottery to go to auction

Yes, you read that correctly - the auction guy is FINALLY coming next Friday.  The pottery in the living room does not need to be washed, but all the stuff in the kitchen does.  I did the worst of it last night - the stuff over the cooktop.  Gross.  I'll finish the washing today and then get cracking on the rest of the cataloging.  I will be really happy to let it all go.

The reserve list of projects is long and crazy, but I've broken it all down into manageable steps - in fact, I think I'm going to make a page here on the blog where I can track it all! 

I've been divesting again.  You'll remember the Great Cleanup of 2010, well, I'm in a similar place - something new is coming into my life.  Once again, I'm not sure what it is or will be, but I'm being led to make space for it.  So, for the past few weeks, I've been going through stuff, getting rid of all the clothes that are now too big for me or are hopelessly out of style, culling the books again, and the kitchen, and taking everything over to the Second Chance Shop.   And the Hull is going.  It's really freeing.

I feel lighter and lighter with everything that goes.  Is there stuff holding you back?  Would someone else be thrilled to have the stuff that no longer serves you?   Think about it  ;-)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Family . . .

It's been a very busy week here.  Just dropping in to share a photo of two my cousins (D in the suit and his brother S in the dragon shirt) and me.  I love it!  S and I actually look the most alike of any of my cousins.

DennyMeScott_02

Taken last night at a family event - a bridal shower for one of my other cousin's daughter  :-)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Onederland . . .

I've been MIA here for weeks.

I'm sorry.

Things calm down after Labor Day.

:-)

In the meantime - to paraphrase John Mayer, my ovo-pescetarian body is in onederland.

Oh yeah, baby!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spinning Plates . . .

How is it that the last post here was July 7th?

Obviously I have slacked off on my 365 Project this year.  I made it a little more than halfway, but I'm not sure I'm going to finish.  That makes me sad in some ways - I don't like to not finish something I start . . . but in attempting to be gentle with myself, I'm trying to let go of some stuff.

Letting go.  Once again, I have over-booked myself into oblivion this summer.  It's not good.  This is what my life feels like most days lately:


I don't understand how I do this to myself year after year . . . and every year I say I'm not going to do it again . . . but I do it anyway.  Silly me.  Now that I am piping seriously again, it behooves me to figure this stuff out.  I need practice time every day.  August will be busy, but I'm planning for things to calm down in September.

And speaking of piping - I just spent a week in SoCal at Bagpipe School.  It was just awesome.  My piping is better - I learned so much, and it was wonderful to actually see my teacher again. 

I met some amazing people there - people of all ages and abilities.  Ian and his co-teacher, Colin, created a great atmosphere of inclusion and learning. What an awesome week!

Bagpipe Camp_27

Not my pipes (I think they are Colin's), but I liked how they looked here, resting on the altar at the church where we spent our days  :-)  I can hardly wait until next summer to go back!  Hopefully by then I will be able to keep up better on my pipes.  I did well on my practice chanter, but my stamina is lacking on the pipes.  It didn't help that, although I had been working on my practice chanter again since mid-May, I had only started to actually play pipes again two weeks before school started. 

It was rough.  But I survived  :-D

I also did really well with food on this trip - it was much easier than my trip to Austin, earlier this year.  We stayed in the dorm condos at Marymount College, so had access to a kitchen, which made everything a lot easier for me.  Yay!  And we went out a couple of nights for dinner - once to an amazing seafood place, and another to a great Italian place where I was able to get something I could eat.  Double Yay!!

It was the first time I had been back to SoCal since I left nearly a decade ago - and I was reminded how much I do not like driving in LA . . . thankfully nearly all my time was spent in South Rancho Palos Verdes, which is right on the coast and is very lovely.  I was sorry to not be able to see any of my old friends while in the area, but the week was school all day and practice all night.  Seriously.  There was no time for anything extra, and I could not stay any extra days this trip.

Yesterday was my recovery day, but I spent part of it talking to the Windy City Gardeners in Oak Park - what a great group of people!!  I love that they invite me to come and talk to them every year about African violets.  So much fun!  Still, it was tough to go there the day after returning from a week away - but that speaking engagement was on the calendar before school was, so I could not not go.  See, this is how it starts :-D

So, I will go on spinning plates for another month, and collapse in September.  Wish me luck  ;-D

Sunday, July 7, 2013

184:365 Finished . . .

185_365.070413


You saw this yarn on January 1st! It was part of a kit - the Gypsy Scarf Kit by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I bought it at The Fold as part of their New Year's Day sale - I've never seen another one like it.

Three yarns knit together - made what is commonly called a "fashion scarf." Narrow, and short - still it's pretty and I like it very much :-) The colorway was called X-mas Rock.

I knit this up today - just needed to actually accomplish something.
 
So - thought you might also like to see part of the process - as mentioned, I've never seen this kit before, and I have to say that I wonder if that's because of what a nightmare it was to wind the yarn.  Three separate yarns - nylon ribbon, nylon novelty and rayon boucle. 
 
 
Gypsy 01
 
 I put it on the swift . . .

 
Gypsy 02
 
 
. . . but I wound it into a ball by hand.  I got pretty far, but I did end up having to break the yarns at one point and wound a second, smaller ball.  It wasn't bad to knit, though.  12 stitches in seed stitch on size 15 needles.
 
Gypsy 03

It's a little short - and I suppose it qualifies as a novelty fashion scarf - but I have to say that I really like it  :-D


183:365 It's That Way . . .

184_365.070313


Back in the day, many advertisements were painted on the sides of buildings here in Chicagoland. Shot at the mouth of the short alley from Randolph Street to the theatre. It's pointing toward State Street, where the entrance is :-) Those are the fire escapes from the different seating levels in the house.

I got off on the numbering somehow so have corrected it here.

182:365 Mothra! :-D

183_365.070213
 
This moth was hanging out on my garage door. Had he been on a tree, I would never have seen him. Best viewed larger :-)

I took this on the 3rd. Once again I've been skipping days - just too much happening and I forget to jam the camera into my bag in the morning.
 
Please tell me I'm not the only person who loved those old Japanese movies!  :-D

Monday, July 1, 2013

180:365 Um . . . ick

182_365.070113


I don't normally spin "art yarn." I challenged myself to try something new. It was horrid to spin, with a ton of VM (vegetable matter) in it, and some of the locks were raw and the lanolin was hardened - like spinning wax . . . :-S

I wanted at least 100 yards of this for a Tour de Fleece challenge - it was a 3.6 oz batt of fiber. I got less than 55 yards. Live and learn :-D

179:365 Mmmmmm . . . Top!

181_365.063013


My favorite prep to spin with. This is 100% Merino top from LunabudKnits. It looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? ;-) The colorway is Garden Ivy. I have more in a gorgeous buff shade, too.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Where am I . . . ?

Once again, I am struggling to keep up with my life.  I'm grateful that July is nearly here, because other than one 9-day stretch, I don't have too much to do.  That stretch will be a doozy, however  :-D

My big excitement in July will be Bagpipe School.  I can't help but think of it as Bagpipe Camp, though, because I actually went to Bagpipe Camp once when I was a beginning piper.

Who starts piping as a 40-year-old?  Me.  I shared my story here last year, so I won't repeat it now, but since I started studying with Ian again in May via Skype, I am more focused and have more desire to play and play well, than ever before.

I'm not kidding.  I'm even playing the exercises better than I did 10 years ago when I was last in SoCal.  What's more, I LIKE playing them.  I am well and truly a musical dork  :-D

I have been reading a book for work called The Outliers.  In it, it talks about 10,000 hours of practice to master pretty much anything, and I think about all the time I wasted in the last 6 years not playing . . . I know that everything happens in our lives for a reason, and I rarely have regrets about anything - but I really wish I had been playing all that time.  I would have logged that 10,000 by now and more.

Still - you never know, had I been playing all this time, I might not be finding the joy that I'm finding now that I have purpose again where music is concerned.

Joy and purpose - a recurring theme in my life.  Thanks, Mom  :-)

And here I am, thinking about competing next year.  Ian seems to think that if I keep practicing the way have been, that I will be able to compete next year.  This, of course, means that my ass will be covered in plaid . . . I am heartened however, by my most recent trip to the Highland Games a few weeks ago - mine will NOT be the largest plaid ass in view, that's for sure.

And as I look back at my post from last year at this time, I see that I was thinking about Bagpipe Camp even then . . . and then, last weekend I talked with a piping and knitting friend, and she really encouraged me to see if I could find a way to work it out.  Permission from my boss and my work to get time without pay, flights,  money, was there even space left in class?  I didn't really think it could work - and yet,  I couldn't stop thinking about it.  So, Monday morning, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I ran it up the flagpole . . . and then stood back and watched as every single detail fell into place this week so that I can go.  I sent it out to the Universe, and the Universe sent it back to me.  In spades.

Because of where I'm at right now in my playing - nothing could be better than a week of all bagpipes all the time.  I'm not kidding.

I remember very clearly my week studying with the late Lindsay Kirkwood.  He really had an impact on me, and my playing took a quantum leap in that focused period of time at Bagpipe Camp.  I'm reasonably sure it will do that again with a week with Ian and Colin.  Will I be the oldest one there?  Quite possibly.  Do I care?  Hell no.

And so, rather than wait, I fired up the actual pipes.  I've been working consistently on my practice chanter - but now that I'm going to have to keep up in class and with other pipers, I have got to build enough stamina to be able to do so.  It's going to be a challenging few weeks here, Chez A

So, please excuse me, I have to go practice (i.e., I cannot wait any longer)  ;-)

I'm so excited!!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

178:365 Noro . . .

179_365.062813


Japanese yarn - more of my haul from the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. I must have needed some color in my life because I went whole hog on the Noro. I particularly love the skeins at the bottom left - they remind me of fall and burning leaves. I'm thinking a hat of some sort :-)

177:365 Googly Eyes

178_365.062713


My mom used to sing a song about Barney Google, with his goo-goo-googly eyes. These balls of yarn reminded me. This is the beginning of a "mystery shawl knit-along." Clue #2 arrives tomorrow :-D

Yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts' Socks That Rock Lightweight, in the True Blood Red, and Pink Granite colorways.

176:365 Day Lilies 3

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They are a sea of gold right now - some already past their prime. Soon they will be gone and only the green remain.

175:365 Garden in the Rain . . .

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After the rain, actually. This is one of my neighbor's front gardens. They are all always gorgeous and when I pass then every day, they always make me smile :-)

174:365 The Calm Before the Storm . . .

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This was taken on the 22nd - they let you in before the Fair actually opens when you are taking a morning class - this is what it looks like before all the people get there.

173:365 Painting with Beads . . .

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This was taken on the 22nd - it's my work area in class :-)

173:365 The Work of my Hands . . .

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I have a renewed fascination for bead embroidery. This is a day's work in the class I took at the fair.

172:365 The Shepherd

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I was at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair, this this felted sculpture was in the Fine Arts Show. Isn't it amazing and wonderful? :-)

171:365 Train Garden

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My village has been doing a LOT of gardening lately. This new little garden is planted next to the train tracks - I think they hope is that it will eventually grow and block the view. Again - the only shot in the camera for this day . . .

170:365 Day Lilies 2

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They are so beautiful, but so short-lived . . .

169:365 Day Lilies 1

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There are going to be a lot of them :-D I am quite fascinated by them. Stella D'Oro is their name :-)

This was actually taken on the 19th - another run of crazy busy around here . . .

168:365 A Place to Rest . . .

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The only shot of the day - and I caught a little flying insect! On the way to the train.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

167:365 Decisions!

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Tour de Fleece is coming up. That's where we spin during the Tour de France :-D I'm captaining a team and I'm trying to decide which fibers I will use for two challenges.

All of these bumps of fiber are calling to me - but if I want to participate in some of the challenges of my team, I need to pick something that I can spin for socks - and that's looking to be the red/black. It's Merino/Silk - should be very fun to spin. The other challenge is to spin something very different - and that's looking like it will be the one in the middle on the left. I never spin "art yarn," and that's what that bump is all about :-D

Still - that fiber up on the top has been calling to me since I got it in May . . . guess we'll see in another week or so :-D

166:365 Scottish Weather . . . in Itasca

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The Chicago Highland Games are held every year up in Itasca. I love to go and this year more than before because I'm playing seriously again. I listened to a lot of pipers playing in competition - really good for me. I learned a lot.

It rained . . .

165:365 It's in the Bag . . .

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Um . . . the best shot of this day . . . my new T-shirt, from the Highland Games.

164:365 Flowers in the City . . .

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Shot on the 12th (another crazy week here . . . ). I don't know what this flower is, but it's in all the planter boxes along Wacker Drive :-)

163:365 Familiar . . .

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I've shot this view before, but I truly never tire of it. Chicago seems to be a part of me in a way that's hard to explain - I love plenty of other cities, and I could probably live in more than one of them (London, Marrakech . . . ), but I always come home again. Look at it - can you blame me? City of the Big Shoulders, indeed.

Looking East from the Franklin Street Bridge.

162:365 Caladium

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This plant lives in my sunroom. I've noticed a line in this photo - am wondering if it's the lens or my memory card. Thinking it's the latter - time to switch.