Friday, September 30, 2016

Fine Line

While I was finishing this, I was envisioning FO photos. The best one in my mind was my bright blue Hitchhiker, silhouetted and contrasted against a bright blue, gorgeously sun-lit fall sky. Mother Nature has conspired against that photo by providing gray and rainy skies here for the next five days, but that's okay.

A yoga teacher friend recently told me that if I can't seem to "let it go" then sometimes "let it be" is good enough. My first "let it be" action wasn't so hard after all!

I always say this, but I think this is my favorite Hitchhiker so far. It will go perfectly with a much-anticipated trip to Fort Collins next week. I do have an idea in my mind for my next Hitchhiker, but first I've got some unselfish knitting (birthday fingerless mitts, a hat that won't be too hot during winter in Texas, and a charity hat) lined up. There also exists the possible scenario that I'll find some yarn at The Loopy Ewe so perfect I'll have to cast on for my tenth Hitchhiker immediately, but that might just prove there really is a fine line between love and obsession!

(Ravelry details here.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Last

While picking the last of the tomatoes yesterday, I took a good look around the garden and saw plenty of the last ...

The last bedraggled clematis

A purple coneflower still persevering

Some final fading honeysuckle blossoms

 A rosebud the deer haven't yet eaten

A slightly spotty rose blossom still hanging on

And one last lantana flower.

I also spied a few of the first ...

With plenty more to come.

It's good to be mindful of the last, the endings, while still looking forward to what is to come, and I'm grateful the garden has reminded me of that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


If-then statements are used in math and computer science as conditional statements of a hypothesis followed by a conclusion. These statements are written as pq, which is read as "if p, then q".
For example, if you exercise, then you can reward yourself with a piece of zucchini bread. These can also get more complex with if-then-else and else-if statements to combine several conditions, but these are probably beyond the scope of this sometimes-knitting blog.

Justin has provided me with another example. 

If you insist on sending photos of gigantically long Texas indigo snakes* to your mother,

Then your mother will send you a pair of snakeproof boots. 

Wear them. 

*Texas indigo snakes are large (6-8 ft.), nonvenomous, and sometimes even eat rattlesnakes. Still, wear the boots and don't play with snakes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Put It Behind, Look Forward

The power of Ten on Tuesday! I hadn't planned to write lists today, mainly because I wasn't sure I could think of five good things about the summer, but reading other posts has motivated me. So, here are the five best things I did this summer and the five things I'm looking forward to this fall.

  1. Worked in the garden. Yes, work was the key word as it took a lot of planting, weeding, watering, picking, and processing, but we ate string beans, tomatoes, chard, turnips, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers all summer. My freezer is full of string beans, tomato sauce, and shredded zucchini; there are pickles and salsa in the refrigerator, and we're still picking tomatoes and string beans daily. 
  2. Read. Lots of books for Summer Book Bingo, and began to look for a book group that might be a good fit.
  3. Planted some flowers I really love. My flower gardens have been a combination of plants that were here when we moved, transplants from friends and family, and a mish-mosh of other things. For some reason, many of my hostas died a slow death last winter, but I took the opportunity to plant lots of bleeding hearts in their place. Even though it was their first year, many of them bloomed profusely. I also planted lots of columbines that I raised from seed and they have flourished from the loving care (and careful watering) that I have lavished on them.
  4. Knit on the porch. We are fortunate enough to have a lovely front porch, so I tried to make sure that I spent more time knitting out there, at least before the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes got to me.
  5. Finished a baby blanket! This was kind of a big deal for me, as I'm not the speediest knitter, but I got it done a full month before the baby is due. Bonus: I even got it packed, braved the post office, and it has been received in New Mexico.

  1. Having the whole family together in Fort Collins! We're all visiting Ryan for a long weekend for his birthday in October and I am looking forward to this more than anything!
  2. That fall hint of cool crispness in the air. I am not a fan of summer heat and humidity and am so looking forward to delightful blue skies instead of hazy gray and not sweating profusely when I'm outside.
  3. More reading. There are two books I'm anxiously awaiting - Born to Run and Today Will be Different. I'm impatiently counting the days.
  4. Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday but it will be very different this year. Neither one of my sons will be here, and because of medical issues, I'm not sure exactly who will be gathered around the table. I love the food, I really love the leftovers, and am looking forward to thinking of ways to make it special, even if it's a big departure from our usual traditions.
  5. Settling. Yes, I stole this one from Kym, but as soon as I read her lists, I knew she had put a name to what I've been feeling. I'm currently trying to settle into my life as it IS and not always wishing things were different. It's going to be a long process, but acceptance of the way things are and not always railing against them is beginning to make a difference in my life, bit by bit.

What were your summer highlights and what are you anticipating this fall? It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Knitting Associations

I have a question for you. Do your knitting projects take on deep emotional associations? I think that most of us have projects with differing degrees of difficulty, like plain vanilla socks or simple scarves or hats, for times where we can't invest a lot of attention and counting, to more complicated projects, like lace shawls, for when we can focus a bit more.

That's part of what is behind my question, but there is more to it. In the past, I've had several projects that seem to have soaked up the feelings of the situation going on while I was working on them. Sitting by my mother's bedside during her last few months, I was working on an afghan. I never did finish it because every time I got it out afterwards, the project itself vividly reminded me of that awful time. Eventually I had to rip it out and donate the yarn.

Another example is Campari. I love the project, but rarely wear it because all I can think about is the hours sitting in the hospital during the surgery that marked the beginning of my father's decline, and the careless woman that spilled coffee on it in the waiting room.

My yarn doesn't absorb only negative emotions; I do have some overwhelmingly positive projects. Ryan picked out the yarn for the aptly named Happy Times with Ryan during one of our first visits to The Loopy Ewe. Long Road Alone reminds me of Justin's travels and how happy I was that he had safely driven 4500 miles and was not mauled by a grizzly while alone in the wilds of Montana.

So, back to my question. Last week I had four medical appointments, this week there are three. These always mean waiting time, which also means knitting time. I'm almost done with Fine Line, and am also working on some Dr. Who fingerless mitts for Ryan and a hat for Justin. I want these to be imbued with good feelings and love, so I've found that I just can't stand to work on them in waiting rooms surrounded by reminders of grave illness and loss.

I also can't bear to sit in waiting rooms without knitting, so dishcloths have become my projects for hospitals and doctors' offices. Today a nurse told me I might be crazy (in a joking way, of course!), for attaching so much emotion to mere knitting, but I discounted it because she admitted that she wasn't a knitter. Since then, I've been wondering if there are other knitters who feel the same way I do. I'd love to hear your thoughts, stories, and opinions about emotional attachments to your projects (even if your thoughts are the same as the nurse's). Thanks for reading my ramblings and helping to satisfy my curiosity!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Good News, Everyone!

I love Professor Farnsworth's enthusiasm when he proclaims, "Good News, Everyone!" and that's exactly how I feel after receiving some good news this week.

Ryan's birthday is in October, and since he insisted on moving 1700 miles away three years ago, I've been visiting him for a long weekend around his birthday. This year, John decided that work could muddle along without him, so we made plans for both of us to go. Plans to visit one son are good news, but the news got even better.

Justin has been busy trying to arrange for some time off and was finally granted five days. This is a really big deal if you work at a deer ranch and it is the beginning of hunting season, so I did my happy dance and started on the complex process of making travel arrangements so we could all be in the same place at (approximately) the same time. After looking at multiple flights, finding a hotel in San Antonio with a 24 hr. airport shuttle, trying to convince Justin that 4 am isn't really as early as he thinks and he can sleep on the plane, and renting a car in Denver, it looks like we will be together as a family for Ryan's birthday. We did visit Ryan in May, but haven't seen Justin since March, and I don't even want to think about how long it might be before we can all be together again. For now, I'm just going to cross my fingers that we can meet all the challenges that these intricate travel plans present and look forward to spending time with people that I dearly love.

I hope this weekend brings some sort of good news for everyone!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Letters

I haven't written any Friday Letters for ages, but I do have a few this week to say what's on my mind, wonder about things, and take the opportunity to offer a thank you. Let's open the mail ...

Dear Fort Duncan Hospital ER,

Thank you very much for stitching Justin up on Saturday night. Yes, he is expressing his creativity and artistic ideas by making his own knives, and yes, I do tell him to be careful at almost every opportunity, but accidents happen. I appreciate you making him feel as comfortable as possible and not laughing out loud at his electrical tape bandage. He told me it was the best he could do to stop the bleeding and not faint during the drive in from the ranch. As grateful as I am, I do hope he doesn't have to make any repeat visits, especially for a rattlesnake bite. 

Also, thanks to Subway. Nothing makes a 23-year-old feel better after a harrowing ordeal than a sub (or two).

P.S. We had this exchange on Wednesday, so he may indeed be back for a repeat visit (or just some super glue).


Dear Bill,

You are a lovely person and a rank quite high as a brother-in-law, but I may have to ask you to stop enabling me with more delicious beer. Raging Bitch entertained me first with its name, 8.3% alcohol content, and interesting art work, but turned out to be simply delicious beer. You now have me stalking local liquor stores searching for it, and their Blood Orange Ale sounds equally delightful. Next time you visit and bring beer, please bring two six-packs, one for us to drink and one to leave here with me.

To The Person Who Discarded Christmas Decorations at Walmart in September,

I don't know why this scenario affected me so much, but I have been thinking about possible explanations all week. You didn't want to make the trek across the parking lot to the Salvation Army donation bin and instead just put the decorations down by the trash can? You found them scattered in the parking lot after they fell off of a Walmart delivery truck and placed them there so the guy that collects carts while singing loudly would see them? You were forced to move out of the house after a difficult divorce and an overflowing Walmart trash bin was the best place to dispose of Christmas decorations that held painful memories? This is some sort of social science experiment and you were sitting in a car nearby to tally how many people took pictures of this odd scene? (At least one!)

On the remote chance that you are the person who did this and happen to be reading, please let me know why! 


Wishing everyone a good weekend, free of cuts, stitches, super glue, and sad discarded Christmas ornaments!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Watch Out for Olives!

Due to medical appointments near and far, I spend a fair amount of time in the car. When I'm not listening to an audiobook, NPR is my travel companion. I recently heard Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview culinary historians Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe. Their book, A Square Meallooks at the impact of The Depression on American food since "The Great Depression was a time when Americans had food front and foremost in their minds because they were worrying about it every day."

I was fascinated, listening to them discuss the high priorities of cost, nutrition, and how filling food was, even at the expense of taste, and how school lunches became so important. Some of the recipes Ziegelman and Coe recounted sounded dreadful, but the authors also talked about some food ideas that made me laugh out loud. 

"Spicy foods were considered stimulants. They were classified as stimulants, so they were on that same continuum along with caffeine and alcohol all the way up to cocaine and heroin. And if you started with an olive, you might find yourself one day addicted to opiates. It put you on a very slippery slope -- watch out for olives!"

I love the salty deliciousness of olives, and coincidentally my plans for that afternoon included the next step in this dangerous spicy addiction continuum -- pickles. I cautiously gathered my garden cucumbers and stimulant ingredients, vinegar, salt, garlic, dill, and set about preparing several quarts of pickles.

After the gateway drug of pickles, what could be next? Salsa, of course!

Pickles and salsa may be dangerous points along the slippery slope of those spicy addictive stimulants, but I do like to live on the deliciously wild side.

Monday, September 5, 2016

At Long Last!

A Finished Object!

I finished the baby blanket, and even though I was busy patting myself on the back for completing it well before the baby is due in October, I still found time to try and take a few photos. I'm not thrilled with the clothesline shadow across the middle of this one, but it does show the pattern and color.

Photos taken indoors with Snuggle and Son looked a bit washed out, but cuteness made me keep one.

In desperation, I finally threw the blanket down, hoping the contrast with the ivy would work. I was underwhelmed.

Despite lack of lovely documentation, the blanket is done, washed, wrapped, and ready to mail to my nephew and the baby's mother in New Mexico. Thanks to Patty for knitting her ECN Blanket so I could copy it and Kat for providing the impetus to get me knitting with her AKK Summer Knit-Along. There is a Hitchhiker in progress, and so the tiniest possibility of a second FO this week exists. No promises, but stay tuned!

Ravelry details here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Company and Comfort of Reading

Since I took a break from blogging, I've been thinking about what it might take for me to write again. I feel like I've given myself a necessary and treasured gift of time and I wasn't sure I would ever return. I'm still not sure I have anything interesting to say, and I'm still in the midst of multiple scary medical things that demand too much of my time (and will be for months), but there is one subject that needs and deserves a post - reading and Book Bingo.

Like many other bingo players, I covered my card. I'm incredibly grateful to Mary for introducing me to Book Bingo, hosting it, and encouraging all of us to do some summer reading. This is my third year of participating, and it was a special one in many ways. In the past I've had to fuss, fret, and search for books to fit in squares, but this year, books seemed to present themselves in lovely serendipity. This year, I read 7 5-star books, 11 four-stars, 5 got 3-stars, and I only had 2 two-star duds. This is unprecedented as I've been a bit stingy with stars in the past. This year, I finished early with no frantic reading and listening into the wee hours of the night. It just felt like a summer of wonderful reading.

These are the books I read, in order of descending stars. I'll leave you with a link to my Book Bingo 2016 shelf in case you are interested in any of my thoughts, reviews, or specific book information. 

I read a lot this summer, and while I truly enjoyed most of these books, I have also derived great pleasure from the company and comfort of reading. Audiobooks provided many hours of diversion and enjoyment during long drives to hospitals and doctors' offices. Reading on my Kindle (and even a few real books) kept me occupied during too many hours in waiting rooms. I also feel lucky to be part of a reading community, composed of real-life friends, blog and Goodreads friends, and all of you. This reading community has also given me company and comfort, along with some darn good book recommendations, and I can't thank you enough. Happy Reading!