Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday - Lenten Reflections

Since I won't be blogging on Good Friday, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on my Lenten journey...Did I enter into the desert and deepen my relationship with the Lord this year?  Did I spend enough time truly meditating on his Passion and the love he showed (shows) me?  As in years past, my intentions at the beginning of Lent were to truly enter into this penitential season and set it apart.  To journey with Him, to draw closer, to show Him my love through acts of devotion.  And, as in years past, I feel as the season draws to a close that I came up short.  While I followed through in some ways, and had some days that felt like I was "getting" it, I also failed in others...

This year Ash Wednesday did not catch me by surprise.  I was prepared for it, I saw it coming for weeks and made mental note, keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts so I could approach Lent mindfully.  I picked the Ash Wednesday service I knew I could attend and received ashes on my forehead.  My youngest son had a high school basketball game that day and I remember my delight as I watched him and his Catholic team mates play ball with the ashes they had received earlier in the day still dark and prominent on their foreheads as they played against a secular school who had none.  They were marked, set apart, witnessing their faith, and it was beautiful.  My gaze fell upon their cheerleaders, and again the ashes on their foreheads drew the eye.  My heart felt full at this silent but profound witness: they had been wearing these ashes since mid-morning.  It was now late evening.  They had plenty of time to wipe them off, knowing they would be out in public at a school where the players and spectators would not be marked similarly.  They would stand out.  Attract stares.  Perhaps even sniggers.  They left them on.  As I was reflecting on the beauty of seeing all these boys that I had come to know so well wearing this beautiful sign of faith, a man walked in.  He took one look at me (the ashes on my own forehead were very dark and big, it looked like someone had drawn on my face with a piece of charcoal).  He shook his head, looked me straight in the eye, and muttered, "Catholics."  It didn't sound admiring.

I had modest plans for how I would observe lent this year, knowing that if I took on too much, I would feel overwhelmed and was bound to fail.  So, I focused on four things: my worldly sacrifice (coffee and mochas, more on that later), devotions: the rosary every day, Stations of the Cross on Fridays; spending more time in prayer -- deliberately setting aside quality time for this, instead of fitting it in as I generally do --and reading/studying/praying scripture.  I thought I might also pick up one of the multitude of books I have on the faith and read it - maybe that book by Mother Teresa, or the one about the early Church fathers, or the one on the Sacred Heart devotion....But no pressure.   

I intended to abstain from meat on Fridays and fast.  I would increase my alms giving.  I would be conscious of the season every day. 

How did I do?  A mixed bag.  Sigh.  While I did fit the rosary in nearly every day, I neglected it on Saturdays and Sundays.  Forgot about it completely on those days, truth be told.  I did not attend one single Stations of the Cross and benediction.  This deeply saddens me, as this is the one thing I usually do if I do nothing else.  It is important.  This time I ran into a time management issue every single Friday and failed. 

Prayer?  Monday thru Friday, no problem.  I used the time driving home from the boys' school in the morning to pray apart and uninterrupted.  This was good.  It felt authentic.  Most days.  There were a few mornings that I hesitated before starting prayer, not in the mood to talk to anyone, even God.  But I prayed about that, too. 

Worldly sacrifice? Check.  No mochas or coffee passed my lips except for two Sundays when I deliberately celebrated the mini Easter that is every Sunday, mindfully drinking just one cup to acknowledge my joy in the resurrection.  This I chose to do after a beautiful conversation with my youngest who gave up many of his normal worldly pleasures to enter into Lenten sacrifice this year.  We talked about how Sundays were exempt and how we were to celebrate every Sunday as Easter.  I offered the thought that if I was choosing to drink coffee because of my desire for the coffee itself, it would be wrong, so I would do better to keep the fast on Sunday, too.  But if my desire was to celebrate his rising from the dead and acknowledge that by offering that cup of coffee as my gift of thanks to him, then I surely should do this instead.  I decided out loud that I would set apart only one or two Sundays for this, just to make sure I was doing Him honor and not simply indulging myself.  That coffee took on new meaning in this way and I thought it was something I should do.  He decided that he would rather keep the fast and acknowledge his thanksgiving in a different manner, because the sacrifice was his offering.

This Lenten season was different from any other on a personal level for both my husband and myself, as he has been attending RCIA and I am his sponsor.  The last couple of weeks have been particularly meaningful, as he has completed the Scrutinies that are the final rites of preparation before the "Big Event".   We are so close now, people.  One of the longings of my heart for lo these many years will be fulfilled this Easter.  My husband will become a new creation.  Wiped clean of all sins.  He will stand sinless before God.  He will be truly a child of God.  He will join a spiritual family like no other on earth.  He will receive our Lord, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eurachist.   I will weep with joy.

The other thing I feel really good about this Lent?  I attended the Parish Reconciliation prayer service and made my individual confession.  Now, I will be able to receive Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil with my husband when he receives the sacrament for the first time.   Very important.  This will be the first time that we have all received Communion together as a family, our 3 boys and us. 

Can you feel the joy?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Is Soon Upon Us!!!

Thanks again to Joyce for coming up with this week's Hodgepodge questions.  Now, here goes: (Am I eager, or what?) 

1. What are your plans for Easter? Are you cooking a big lunch or dinner?  Dyeing eggs? Attending a sun rise service?  Eating too much chocolate?

We have a big event planned for Easter this year:  the husband will be baptized!  At the beautiful Easter Vigil Mass, which though extremely long is also extremely beautiful.  It will be so emotional for me this year seeing him receive the sacraments.  This has been a longing of my heart for almost twenty years.  

As for the meal, we will be having Easter dinner at my brother's.  Some of you will recall that our St. Paddy's day dinner was cancelled due to illness.  Well, we are going to have a corned beef and cabbage Easter dinner as a make-up.  Untraditional?  Maybe.  But that's the way we roll.

Easter egg dyeing?  You betcha.  Attending a sun rise service?  No, but we will be attending a late night Mass.  Mass begins when darkness has well and truly fallen.  The church will be dark.  The parishioners will gather outside in the total darkness.  Then, the Paschal candle will be lit and the readings I love the most, " I am the Alpha and the Omega..." will be proclaimed.  We will light our candles and enter the church, singing hymns of rejoicing.  More readings and the lights will be illuminated and the whole church will be bright and we will sing with gladness to the Lord.  There will be baptisms, there will be First Holy Communion for the Elect, there will be joy, joy, joy and thanksgiving. 

Eating of too much chocolate?  Is there even such a thing?  If there is, it will be done at our house on Sunday.

 2.  What is something you feel too young to do?

I feel too young to subscribe to Senior Living magazine.

3.  "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs..."  

Of the characteristics mentioned in the biblical definition of love which do you find most difficult to live out and why?

Truthfully, I find each of them difficult at various times and with various people.  It really depends on the situation I am in that is testing my love.   My personal circumstances, my mood, whether I got enough sleep the night before.   All these things pose their challenge to acting with love, but I try to be conscious of the call to love at all times and respond accordingly.  Often, a quick prayer of "Lord help me love this person" does the trick.

4. What's a springtime flower you associate with your childhood?

My earliest childhood years were spent growing up in Hawaii, so I would have to say Plumeria.  I remember stringing leis of Plumeria with my mother and breathing in their lovely perfume.  The yellow are the ones I most remember, although they come in several other colors.

5.  Ever sung karaoke? If so, what's your go-to song? If not and you're given the opportunity, would you?

Never have sung karaoke, so don't have a go-to song.  I would probably do it if I got the opportunity, if enough alcohol was involved.

6. What is something you keep in a basket?

I keep some of my yarn in a basket.  I like to look at it and have it within reach at all times.  It's so pretty and I am the lady that is always knitting, so...

7.  When was the last time you felt foolish?

I can't remember the exact time, but this is not a rare occurrence for me, sadly.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I have a near phobia of closed doors.  I prefer to keep all our doors in the house open and I am always a bit apprehensive when I enter a new place and am confronted with a closed door.  Not knowing what lies beyond and what I may be interrupting if I open it makes me feel very self-conscious and uncomfortable.

Have a blessed Easter, everyone...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

If I Had a Big Ole Pot of Money

Carole over at Carole Knits has me racking my poor brain today with her Ten on Tuesday topic.  I don't spend a lot of time daydreaming about winning the lottery and there truly is no chance of this ever happening to me, but here goes nothing:

10 Things You'd Do If You Won the Big Powerball Jackpot
  1. Make sure that my family was financially taken care of.  This includes my parents and all my siblings as well as my children, husband, and self.
  2. Make an on-going endowment to my favorite charities
  3. Move to an exotic locale (probably Hawaii) and build a new home there
  4. Buy a new car or two - something practical, though.  Probably all-electric.
  5. Take the family on an extended vacation to Europe
  6. Hire a gardener
  7. Hire a housekeeper
  8. Hire a chef
  9. Make some shrewd investments (ha-ha) to make sure of on-going income
  10. Buy all the yarn I felt like, any old time I felt like it
Well, that was hard for me.  Now, your turn...

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's Friday and I'm Feeling Fine

He's thinking, "Backstroke, really?"
Yesterday was a tough meet for youngest son.  He slipped on the blocks during his first event (medley relay, free leg) and his dive was a disaster.  I missed seeing this, as the husband and I were late to the meet.  His 200 IM was so-so.  Then he swam the 500 yard freestyle for the first time and his pacing was way off.  He had taken the advice of his team mates to just start out slow.  They told him when he got out that he had started too slow.  His last event was the dreaded 100 backstroke, his worst stroke by far.  Oh well, lots of room for improvement.  He was not down at all about it, which is such progress in terms of maturity for him.  He usually dwells on any poor performance and is exceedingly hard on himself for even the slightest imperfection.  I was so heartened  to see him take this meet in his stride.

The free sock pattern is finished, but it is a somewhat complicated one, so I am going to test knit another pair using the pattern instructions as written to make sure there are no errors in it before I post it.  Hopefully, next week at the latest.

Well, off to pick up the boys from school.  Wishing you all a blessed weekend.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Out of the Desert Soon

Yesterday was a rough one for me.  I woke up with a splitting headache which, despite taking two Alleve, did not dissipate all day.  I ended up lying down and trying to sleep it off, and that helped somewhat.  By day's end it was all but gone.  I had forgotten just how rotten (hey, there might be a limerick in there somewhere) it felt to have one, since it has been years since I last had a headache.  There was a time in my early-to-mid twenties that I had daily headaches.  Not fun at all.

As a consequence of my ordeal yesterday, I did not blog or catch up on my e-mail.  I have now, though, so back to normal around here.

We got the results of the inaugural meet this morning, and youngest son did quite well.  He finished top 3 in two events, took a first in his 200 free relay, and pulled a 4th in the breast (his weakest event next to backstroke.)  Not too shabby considering his long lay-off from swimming.  His team ended up blowing away the other team by an embarrassing margin.  Their next meet is today, and this will be a different story, as the team they are up against is very strong.  Looking forward to cheering them on and taking some photos.  I couldn't take any from the first meet since I was one of the timers, but this time I can relax and just be a spectator.

The rain has now let up in these parts, and oldest son has the day off from finals.  He will take his last one tomorrow.

The Lenten season is winding down now and we are making final preparations for the best Easter we have ever had in our family, as Barry will officially enter the Church and participate in the Sacraments for the first time at the Easter Vigil.  What an awesome God we have.  This will be a very emotional time for me.

Well, off now to work on the sock pattern some more in order to have it complete by tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Wonder What the Kids Are Up To Today?

Another fine list of thinking points on the Hodgepodge today, courtesy of Joyce.  There's an open invitation to join in.  Just sayin'.  Now, let's get cracking:

1. March 20th is the first day of she a lion or a lamb in your part of the world?

I'm happy to report that Spring is a lamb in my part of the world.  Complete with wagging tail, and I LOVE it.

 2. What's the most dreaded task on your spring clean to-do list?  Do you have a 'plan of attack'?

I dread them all.  I like a clean, uncluttered space, but I loathe the process for getting there.  My most dreaded task, if I had to pick one, would probably be the garage, due to the sheer volume of accumulated crap stuff it contains.  It's definitely a weekend sink-hole job clearing it out and carving some order from the chaos that currently reigns.  Plan of attack?  What plan of attack?  We don't need no stinking plan of attack!

 3. 'em or hate 'em?  What's a favorite dish you make using peas?

Hate the canned variety, okay with the fresh kind.  A favorite dish I make with them is a lovely chicken and paneer curry dish.

 4.  Do you feel under appreciated?

Truly, never.  In large part due to the fact that my children and husband, indeed my whole extended family, are a very loving bunch and they express their appreciation in myriad ways.  Added to that, I am not a person who needs a lot of kudos or thanks.  I do what I do because I want to; whether anyone else notices is pretty much irrelevant to me.

 5. Have you been using Google Reader?  If so, what are you switching to now that GR has announced retirement?  If not, how do you read your favorite blogs?

I'm not even sure what that is, as embarrassing as that is to admit.  How do I read my faves?  I just bookmark them and click the links when I feel like catching up.  Some I do have the RSS feed on my own blog for, so they update automatically.  Is this Google Reader, perhaps, and I just don't know it?

 6. Anne Bradstreet is credited with the following quote~

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;  if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." 

Agree or Disagree?  Why?

Agree, but it's taken me a lifetime to get to that point.  I don't relish suffering of any kind (just one of many things that differentiate me from the Saints, sadly) and so I tend to want everything to be joy, joy, joy, all the time.  However, having been through some truly anguish-filled times, I can tell you personally that growth happens during these times, and there is nothing sweeter than the taste of joy after the darkness of sorrow.  Even during the suffering times, you have an appreciation of the goodness of things that are often overlooked.  Everything becomes precious when you are close to losing it all.

 7.  When did you last 'spring for something'?  What was it?

I treated the boys to a shopping spree last week and sprang for it all.  Ay caramba.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here?

Over the past several weeks the boys and I have been delighting in the little frolicking goats (we get an unreasonable kick out of referring to them as "the kids") that we see on our way to and from school.  The school is located right next to a small ranch and those little kids are cute as the dickens.  They jump for joy, little tails a-wagging.  You can't help but smile to watch them.  As we round the corner that brings them into view after school, the boys usually ask, "I wonder what the kids are up to today?" 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gentle On My Mind

Ranunculus, lovely flower God-awful name

Don't know why, but I've been thinking all day today about some of the old music I used to listen to, from the sixties (whatever my parents or older brothers were listening to) up through the eighties.  Which lends itself nicely to Carole's Ten on Tuesday topic for today:

10 Random Things On Your Mind...
1.  Glen  Campbell put out some pretty good songs there in the Sixties.  I always think of my mother when I hear a Glen Campbell song.  It reminds me of growing up in Hawaii and listening to her sing along to the hi-fi while I played on the lanai.  Sadly, he is no longer playing in concert due to the onset of Alzheimers, but I love that he and his son did a farewell tour after his diagnosis and that he had the courage to perform in front of people even as the disease was progressing to the point where he had difficulties on stage from time to time.

2.  My thoughts progress to another musician whose music I much admired and whose passing from this earth was filled with beauty and courage: Warren Zevon.  He used his last bit of strength and energy completing a series of recordings that were released upon his death.  Many of them were recorded literally from his sickbed (or rather, couch) as he didn't have the strength to leave it.  I love that he was doing what he loved and leaving such a beautiful legacy to the very end.

3.  My free pattern for "Spring In Your Step" socks is coming along nicely and should be ready for posting on Ravelry by week's end.  Here's a shot of the progress on the pair I'm working on while developing the pattern:

4. I picked up these lovelies at the supermarket today:

Cara Cara Navel and Blood oranges

5.  Here's what I'm reading today:

6.  Our St. Paddy's day dinner was cancelled due to illness.  My brother and niece were both sick and didn't want to play Typhoid Mary to the rest of us, so we will be reconvening this weekend for dinner instead.

7.  Had a great day on Saturday watching my middle son play hoops with his new AAU team.  The husband is the coach and the kids are having such a great time and are a very talented bunch.  This team represents more than just a group of kids who happen to have a high level of skill for the game.  They are a cross-section of players from all the local teams who have been longing to play with one another for years, but never have been able to until now.  Several have been friends from childhood and run the gamut from players who made "All League" status to those who were overlooked by their high schools.  They range in height from 6'9" to barely over 4'.  Put them all together and they have that certain chemistry that is exciting to watch.  They are so excited to be playing together, it just makes my heart swell to watch them.  And the fact that this motley crew went undefeated this weekend in their first tournament together just made it that much sweeter.

8.  It's finals week for the oldest son and he is not feeling well.  This will be a tough week for him to get through physically.  I'm asking for prayers for him.  Update: he just texted his dad that he received a perfect 20 out of 20 on the first round of the Engineering final he is taking.  The final is based on a small group project and it was the source of major headaches this weekend chez nous.  What a relief to hear it went over well.

9.  The kitchen will soon be filled with the aroma of BBQ baked beans cooking in the oven.  The high school end-of-season basketball banquet is tonight and I'm bringing them for the potluck.

10.  I picked up these today to go in the containers with the ranunculus and geraniums from my previous post:

Bacopa - White
Bacopa - Blue

Friday, March 15, 2013

Finished Object Friday

Forgot to take pictures of these guys when they were still on the needles.  They are the pair I test knitted to make sure my free "Blue Yonder Sock" pattern was correct.  They will be gifted to my youngest who truly appreciates the handknit socks.  He wears a pair almost every day.  He used to wear them every day when he was in middle school even though they were in violation of the dress code which specified all blue, all white, or all black as the only approved sock choices.  He never received an infraction and got a kick out of flouting the rules via his mom's handmade socks, which were never any of the approved colors.

In other news, Spring has sprung here in the California Bay Area and I couldn't be happier!  Awoke this morning to the sound of a mockingbird singing merrily.  Even as I write this, the morning is alive with the sound of birds.  Just finished cleaning the courtyard fountain and refilling it.  I'm looking forward to morning coffee out there when Lent is over.  It is a glorious day in these parts and I am so happy I could burst.  Another thing I'm looking forward to?  Feast your eyes:

These beauties will be going into containers to grace our front pathway tomorrow!  I've so missed having flowers out front.  We had to do some overhauling of our front prior to a home appraisal, and we had to keep it simple to finish in time.  Containers were part of phase II, which is happily now ready to implement.  The top two are geraniums and the bottom two are ranunculus (ranunculi?).  We'll be adding some bacopa for the trailing plant and putting in a timed drip system.

Youngest son has first official swim meet of the season today.  He's a freshman and was placed on Varsity, so he'll be swimming against bigger and stronger upperclassmen, but he's not one to back down from a challenge.  He definitely has the heart of a champion.  He also currently has the abdominal strain of an over-competitor, so not sure how well today's swim will go for him.  He probably shouldn't be swimming at all until it completely heals, but he says it feels better and he wants to compete.  Praying he will be okay and not further injure himself.  His strongest stroke is the butterfly, which is also wicked hard on the abs.  That dolphin kick has me concerned.  Deep breath.  I'm placing it in God's hands. 

The front courtyard is calling to me to spend some time pruning, but I will resist its siren call, as there is much to be done indoors today.  Drat it all.  Well, off to vacuum and do some laundry.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Do You Feel Lucky?

Thanks to Joyce for coming up with this week's questions and for hosting the Hodgepodge.
Let's roll up our sleeves and get started, shall we?

1. Do you play games of luck/chance for money? Have you ever played bingo for money? Visited a casino?  Placed a bet on a horse? Bought a lottery ticket?

I most definitely do not play games of luck or chance for money.  Any more. There are many reasons for this, but let's just stick with one -- I have rotten luck with this sort of thing and it just seems so wasteful.  Waste and I have a hate/hate relationship.  I have, however, in the past played bingo for money.   Small change only, just for kicks. 

Casinos - oh yes, I've been in my share.  We live a few short hours away from Nevada and my mother's favorite past time is playing the "slots", so we've spent many an hour and many a silver dollar in casinos.  Oh the stories I could tell.  And may, right here, someday.

 I have in the past placed a bet on a horse.  My mother loves the horses, and my sister and I would treat her every Summer to a trip to the local county fair where they have horse racing.   She would win every which way.  Even the trifecta.  She would just bet on a horse because she liked the name, or thought the horse was pretty, or just "had a feeling" it was going to win.  She had so much fun and everyone around her, even perfect strangers would get a kick out of it, catching the enthusiasm of having a "winner" in their midst.  Watching the horses run was a beautiful thing as well, and these times will remain a cherished memory. 

 As to lottery tickets, I am sure I bought them every now and then in the past, but no more.  Every once in a while the husband will come home with a ticket, though.

 2.  Will you be preparing and/or dining on the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage meal this St. Patrick's Day? Mashed-baked-hash browned-french fried...your favorite way to have potatoes?

Yes, I will, thank you very much.  I love corned beef with spicy mustard on the side, and cabbage is one of my favorite veggies.  I won't be cooking, however, because that privilege goes to my sister-in-law who takes the prize for best corned beef dinner in these parts.  My favorite way to have potatoes is probably hash browned, but I've never turned up my nose at a potato, no matter how it was prepared.

 3. What's the last thing you felt 'green with envy' over?

Ouch.  This is one I actively pray to be delivered from.  This is a serious issue for me, so I can't be glib about it.  It is one of the deadly sins and I detest it.  I can't  think of an actual occasion of late that has made me feel real envy, but I get perilously close sometimes.  Let's move on.

 4.  What's at the end of your rainbow?

Eternal salvation is at the end of my rainbow.  Eternity lived in the presence of God for myself and all my loved ones. 

 5. March 12th marks the anniversary of the death of Anne Frank (June 12, 1929-March, 1945).  Anne's diary detailing her time spent hiding from the Nazi's during the war ranks as one of the best selling books of all time.  Besides your blog, do you keep any sort of diary or journal?  Was this a habit you developed as a child or is journaling something new for you?

I keep no other journal apart from this blog.  I've tried to in the past, but I could never develop the discipline to keep one.  I would experience writer's block every time I opened to a new page and began to put pen to paper.  So, this form of journaling is new for me and I love it.  I love that it is so interactive, even while being an individual activity.  Interacting with a community at large keeps me honest and unpretentious in my entries, because it is a form of communication as well as self-expression.  Nothing is more boring to me than "navel gazing".

 6. What's an item in your home or closet that contains every color of the rainbow?

I don't think I own a "coat of many colors".  Some items come close, but not quite every color is represented in any single item either in my home or closet.

 7.  Write a limerick with you as the subject.  You can do it!!  Just remember this is a family friendly blog...don't make me get out my wooden spoon.

There once was a female knitter
who though challenged, was never the quitter.
When mistakes she would find
her teeth she would grind,
rip them out, and mutter, "I'm not bitter."

 8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Today, while driving the boys home from school we quite literally saw a chicken crossing the road.   Much hilarity ensued.

Monday, March 11, 2013

If You Pinch Me, I Get to Sock You...

...'Cuz I am wearing green.  Remember that from when you were a kid at school on St. Patrick's Day?  The rules were that if you didn't wear green, you would be pinched.  But if someone failed to notice that you were wearing green in an inconspicuous way (say, green socks, perhaps), and pinched you, you were allowed to punch them hard on the shoulder.  And there was always someone who didn't wear green, but tried to justify it by saying they had green eyes, so they didn't need to.  And then the argument would ensue about how that didn't count.  You had to be wearing green on your person

Anyhoo, all this was sparked by Carole at Carole Knits (link at right), so you can blame thank her and her Ten on Tuesday topic for this week:

10 Favorite Things That Are Green

  1. U.S. Currency --had to go there straight away, don't ask me why...Perhaps It's the measly two dollar bills on the kitchen table to the right of my laptop just lying there, mocking me because they aren't, say, twenty dollar bills.  Or fifties.
  2. The meadow on the valley floor of Yosemite National Park.
  3. My lawn when it is healthy, an all too rare occurrence.  Thank you, Mr. Gopher.
  4. New leafed trees - especially at their earliest phase, when the leaves are still tightly furled.  Such a hopeful sign of spring.
  5. Mint chocolate chip ice cream - anyone care to join me in a Shamrock shake?
  6. All the lovely shades of green in my yarn stash.
  7. Christmas trees - or "happy trees" as my youngest used to call them. 
  8. The rolling hills in our town during Fall and Winter, before they turn brown in Summer.  Living on one side of a valley as we do, these hills form the backdrop to every event that occurs outdoors, and I love them, even when they've turned brown, but I especially love them when they are richly green.
  9. The benches in most little league dugouts - and the bleachers as well.  Takes me back to those halcyon days when our boys were just starting out in tee-ball, and we would take them to the field and teach them how to play the game.  Man, those were happy times.
  10. The "away" uniform of my youngest son's basketball team.  How I love to watch him play.

Whew,  that was harder than I thought it would be.  Wanna play?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Listicles Monday

So here we are celebrating another Monday on this earth together.  Isn't it wonderful?  Isn't it to be treasured?  Isn't it something for which to be grateful?  It sure is for me.  This Monday's list is a chance for me to reflect on some of the sweet pleasures of this life, an exploration of one of the often-overlooked senses: the sense of smell.  Here are my answers to this week's Listicles (link at right) list:


  1. The smell of a new baby's head.  If perfection had a smell, this would be it.
  2. Puppy breath.  The next-best thing to human baby head smell.
  3. Coffee in the morning.  At least for me...
  4. Pavement after the season's first rain.  Don't know why, exactly, but I've always considered this one of the finest smells on the planet.
  5. Fresh mown grass.  Makes me feel like a child again, with not a care in the world.
  6. Flowering stock in the garden.  This is probably my favorite flower scent.
  7. Flowering phlox in the garden.  A close second.
  8. Flowering gardenia in the garden.  No synthetic scent can approach it.
  9. Bread baking in the oven.  Don't get to enjoy this one very often, as I am not a bread-baker, but my dad makes a fine loaf, and sometimes I catch it when I visit.
  10. My favorite perfume "Eau" de Givenchy.  Sadly, discontinued.  Love, love, love, this perfume.  I managed to find the spray version, but the concentrated perfume can't be found anymore, as far as I am aware.  The perfume is the best.
Well, that's my take.  What's yours?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Designing Women

Spring in Your Step Socks - the beginning
My sister came over today to do her taxes.  We decided to use H&R Block download this year.  Turned out to be a big mistake.  First of all you need to know that my sister and I are sort of like the blind leading the blind or "dumb and dumber" when it comes to technical stuff.  Let's just say things didn't work out and leave it at that. 

So on to plan B: buy the CD from Amazon and do them the old fashioned way like we did last year.  Not looking forward to doing this all over again, let me tell you. 

To console myself, I will be completing the design for the socks pictured above and uploading to my Ravelry store next week.  If you are a knitter, please visit my "free patterns" page and help yourself to any of the designs you find there.

Besides the taxes fiasco, I spent my morning at youngest son's first swim meet.  Well, pre-season meet really.  He looked pretty good in his events.  Saw some familiar faces, most welcome, some not so much.  I think his team overall is going to get smashed this season, but as long as he does well, I will be happy.  The sister and I also attended a few innings of the JC baseball game of a friend of my oldest son.  He wasn't pitching, so that was a bummer.  But we got to catch up with our friends, so that was good. 

In other news, I have a wicked spider bite on my left forearm.  We're keeping a careful eye on it, but so far it looks normal, if a little inflamed.  Bites or punctures of any kind are a concern for me now due to the lack of lymph nodes (thank you, Cancer) which leads to lymphedema.  I was very fortunate for the first 18 mos. after the surgery, but I have been battling lymphedema big time in my right arm for the past year now.  So far, the left arm has faired better.  Hope this doesn't trigger it to swell like the right.  I had a double mastectomy, and there are no nodes left, so I'm expecting it's only a matter of time, but I'm hoping to prevent it as long as possible.

Anyhoo, enough of that subject, eh?

Well, be seeing you soon, I hope.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - California Edition

As usual, my thanks go out to Joyce for hosting this weekly event.  Feel free to follow the link and
join in the fun.  Now, without further ado, here is my "Wednesday Hodgepodge". (Although I warn you, I'm not feeling very inspired today...)

1. My real life friends came through with another question this week so thank you real life friends. When you've eaten in a restaurant do you complete their comment card? Do you take online surveys highlighted at the bottom of store receipts?

Nope.  I always view this as a way for them to get my personal information so they can bombard me with junk mail.

 2. The (US) ban on women in combat was lifted at the end of January. It will probably be next year before specifics are worked out, but its been reported over 200,000 front line positions will eventually open up to women.  Your thoughts?

Sadness.  I fail to see how the right to put oneself in harm's way and risk life and limb is a step forward for womankind.   We need an end to war, not more soldiers...

 3.  In looking back at all the blog posts you've written, what's your favorite post title?

Not being the most inspired of writers, my favorite title would have to be "Today She's-A My Birthday" because it reminds me of the "I Love Lucy" episode that inspired it. 

4. What's worse-overly permissive parents or overly protective parents?  Did your own parents lean more to the permissive or the protective category?  If you're a parent where do you fall?

Oh, man.  Bad parenting is just awful any way you cut it, but I would have to say overly-permissive parents are the worst.  Children need limits and society needs children to have limits.  Come to think of it, society needs limits.  I think my biggest peeve with overly-permissive parenting is that it breeds selfishness and discourtesy in children, who then grow up to be selfish, discourteous adults who take no accountability for their own actions. 

My parents were wonderful parents, not overly permissive nor overly protective, although my mom did tighten the reins when I entered adolescence.  I hated it at the time, since I didn't get to do what all the other girls did (wear make-up, date, hang around with the boys), but looking back now, I see that it was the absolute best.  My friends at the time were getting into so many harmful behaviors, of which their more permissive parents were totally unaware.  My best friend from high school still is suffering the consequences of actions she took when she was a teen-ager, including losing her virginity to an older man at the ripe old age of 14. Yes, that's right, I said 14...

As to my parenting pattern, I would have to say I'm pretty much in the middle.  I set limits, particularly when the boys were young and character formation was job number one (next to unconditional love, of course, but that's not a job, is it?), and I definitely made some mistakes along the way with the protective thing, especially with my oldest.  Why does the first child have to be the practice child?   But overall, I think I do a fair job in letting them grow to be their own people while
making them aware of the boundaries of what is acceptable, and safe, and what is not.

5.  Candlelight-moonlight-firelight-bright lights in the big city...which one's your favorite?

I love them all, but if I was forced to choose at gunpoint, I would pick firelight.  When I think of firelight I think of loved ones gathered up close to a cozy fire, either by the hearth or at a campfire, singing, laughing, and talking together.  And fires are warm, which is an added bonus. 

6. Dr. Seuss's birthday was celebrated on Saturday. What's a favorite book you remember (Seuss or otherwise) from your own childhood?  Did books play an important role in your growing up years? Explain.

One of my all time favorite childhood books was "Harriet the Spy".  I must have read that book a dozen times and loved it for the quirky characters and the mystery.  Books played an enormously important role in my growing up years.  I lived for reading.  I would go through stacks of books every few days, and then hop on my bicycle and bring home another load from the library.  Our local library didn't limit the number of books you could check out at one time, and I took full advantage.  When we first moved here, the library hadn't been completed yet, so we had to rely on the bookmobile to get our book "fix".  That was awesome too, although the selection was smaller.  You can imagine my joy when the library finally opened.  I still love the way a library smells when you open the door and the odor of the books hits you...

7.  To quote Dr. Seuss...

"From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere." 
from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Share something funny you've recently read, seen or heard.

I caught an episode of the old "Bob Newhart" show last night and although there were many funny moments --it is Bob Newhart, after all--I was struck by one in particular.  The episode was about Bob having to lose 8 pounds and struggling with dieting.  He was lamenting to his wife about how difficult his day had been and he started to confess to "cheating" --with food.  He ran down a litany of all the things he had eaten, an impressive list of lack of control and he finished with the line that had me laughing out loud, "Emily, I felt like Bela Lugosi in a room full of necks."  Coupled with the incomparable delivery of Bob Newhart, it was rich.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.

After a week of beautiful Spring-like weather, a wind-and-rain storm blew in last night that was as impressive as it was sudden.  We lost power for a few hours, but all is now blue skies and wispy clouds.  I love the climate in California.  It's the best part of living in this state, as everything else has pretty much gone to hell.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ten Reasons I'm Happy It's March

It's already March 5th...The month is flying by, and I couldn't be happier.  The reason?  Every day
that passes in March brings us closer to the glory of Spring.  Spring is my happy time.  I love everything about it.  I'm smiling right now just thinking about it...So, while I wait for my tea to steep, why don't I list the "Ten Reasons Why I'm Happy It's March"?

  1. My mother's birthday is in March.  Today, in fact.  And I have some special handknit socks to present her with.
  2. St. Patricks' Day.  My sister-in-law makes the best corned beef and cabbage dinner I've ever tasted, and she hosts a St. Paddy's Day celebration every year, where we gorge ourselves. She does this under serious pressure from my sister, who bullies her into it every year, all because of the aforementioned corned beef dinner.
  3. High school swim season, which kicks off with a swim meet this weekend.  I love watching my boys use the physical gifts God gave them.  When they compete in sports, I feel that they are giving glory to God for gifting them with a healthy body equipped for athleticism.  The joy I get from feasting my eyes on them is an added gift that I am deeply grateful for.
  4. MLB Spring Training.  Go Giants!!!
  5. This year, I can enjoy the month of March without taxes looming and weighing me down because I have filed already.  The onset of March means tax madness and the FAFSA madness are OVER.
  6. Easter Sunday.  The celebration of the greatest day in the history of the WORLD.  This Easter Sunday is especially meaningful for our family as this is the day my husband enters the Church and partakes of the sacraments for the first time ever.  He will be baptized and made new, a child of God.  Can't wait.
  7. Lent will be over at the end of March and I'll be able to drink coffee and mochas again.  Tea is fine in its own right, but is no substitute for mocha.
  8. March means we can get busy with the garden.  Well, the end of March, anyway.  I'm already dreaming of the fragrant flowers we'll plant in the front yard and courtyard, and I'm thinking this season we'll go hog wild with the tomatoes, too, just for kicks.
  9. Sunlight.  I've been starved of this precious commodity.  Blue skies and sunlight, open doors and windows, breezes wafting through the house, bringing the scent of flowers with them.  But most of all sunlight.
  10. March madness.  The males in the house, of which there are many, are avid basketball fans.  I get a kick out of hearing them root on their favorite teams, discuss the merits of the various players and whoop and holler when a fabulous play is made, regardless of which team makes it.  They surely do appreciate fine play.
Speaking of fine play, here's Double Zero in action
Thanks to Carole for today's topic.  If you're not already joining in the fun, follow the link on the right for Caroleknits, and have at it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Playing in the Stash

Gotta love Knit Picks

Spent some more time today photographing the yarn stash.  I'm almost halfway done, but I wish I was completely done.  It's a chore hauling it all out of the closet where it is (mostly) contained.  And then having to shlep it back in there.  I have no idea where I'm going to put the latest yarn acquired.  I wasn't supposed to be buying any more.  Okay, so the yarn diet starts now.  This time I mean it.  Even sock yarn.  Gasp. 

My plan is to get it all up on Ravelry, complete with pics so I won't have to rummage around in the closet next time I'm considering a project.  I still need to get the magazines updated in my Ravelry library, but I do have all the books there at least, which is huge.  This will hopefully make the process of matching a yarn with a project much easier.

The free sock pattern is nearly complete.  I'm test knitting it myself at the moment to make sure the instructions make sense, then I will put it up on Ravelry and link to my free patterns page.

Completed in time for Mom's birthday

Close up of the "eye of partridge" heel flap
Close up of toes and top of foot. 
 The garter stitch pattern looks a bit like lace in this pic, but it is not. Those are not lacy holes, they are purl stitches.  You can see them a bit better in the photo below:

Close up of the cuff and leg portion