Wednesday, May 29, 2013

With Cockel Shells and Silver Bells

I've been conspicuously absent from the blog and unable to participate in the Hodgepodge, and how I've missed it.  Thanks to Joyce for this week's list of questions to get me back in the game.  Please join the fun by following the link in the left side bar, if you're new to it.  Now, let's get to it:

 1. What question do you often ask yourself?

I don't think I ask a specific question, but I do spend a reasonable amount of time examining how I can better serve and love the Lord and how I can use my gifts to glorify him.  I also ask myself how I can cast out fear so that I can follow Him and allow His will to be done in my life NO MATTER WHAT THE COST or the scary/uncomfortable places He may take me.  

 2. Do you grow roses? What's your favorite color of rose?  Ever been given a dozen roses?  Where was the prettiest rose or rose garden you remember seeing?

Yes, I grow several types of roses, but climbers are my favorite.  They do, however, now represent significant risk to my health due to the potential for pricks/punctures which can lead to infection and lymphedema due to my lack of lymph nodes.  I thus tread warily around them, but refuse to allow my husband to rip them all out, which is his response to the risk.  I don't have a favorite color of rose, I simply love so many colors, but I do find myself drawn to varieties that have variegated colors in the orange/salmon range.  My husband has given me a dozen roses on several occasions.  I can't think of a particular rose or garden that I felt was the prettiest.  I tend to admire all beautiful gardens.

 3. Do you read the freshness dates on grocery store products?  Will you use eggs past their 'use by' date?  Take medication that's expired? Buy a dented can?

Yes, I'm a label reader.  I check for expiry dates, non-synthetic ingredients, and absence of growth hormones, etc. in everything I buy that I or my family will ingest.  I don't buy any products past their expiry dates, but I will take an occasional med that has expired, if it's within several months of the expiration.  We're not big on meds in this family, so that is usually rare.  I will not buy dented cans.

 4. Should athletes be role models?

Absolutely.  But then, I am a firm believer in the worth and dignity of the human person, every human person, and believe that we should all be role models for one another all the time.

 5. Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first explorers to reach the top of Mt. Everest on this date (May 29) back in 1953. What's something you hope to achieve in your lifetime?

I have no worldly ambitions.  The only thing I aspire to is holiness so that I might spend eternity contemplating the face of God.  I'm not even close to this at the moment, in case you're wondering how I'm doing with that goal...But while there's life, there's hope.

 6. What would you do if you had twenty acres of land and the money to develop it any way you choose?

I'd probably put aside a portion to build a fine home and private garden on, and use the rest for a public park/garden.

 7. If I invite you to a party with a 7 PM start time, what time will I actually see you there?

By 7:15.  

 8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I haven't had the amount of time I would like for knitting lately, and I'm really missing it.  I'm lucky to knit a few rows on the current sock and mom's sweater, and I'm dying to design something new and start a couple of other projects.  Serious start-itis is developing and yet I still have a stack of finishing to do....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What I Did This Weekend. Wait. What?

Three day weekends are great, aren't they?  I'm so glad Carole of Carole Knits chose this topic for this week's Ten on Tuesday (link at right) so that I could stop and reflect on the wonderful weekend that has just passed.  So grateful to God for blessing us so richly with this time together.  Let's get started, shall we? 

10 Things You Did This Weekend:

1.  Spent a lot of time with this little thing:
I will not get attached to this puppy...

She is doing the job of all 8 week old puppies and kicking our collective a** with the puppy training.  But we love her already.

2.  Ran around on Saturday running last minute errands in preparation for Second Son's High School graduation.

3.  Attended said graduation on Sunday.  Got there wicked early to grab a good seat and then sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony.  So proud of this one.  He knows who he is.


4.  Celebrated said graduation with a family dinner.  All my favorite and cherished loved ones together breaking bread, what can be better?


6.  Knit a bit on the plain old vanilla socks.  Discovered that while I still love the colors and knitted fabric of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, I find it easy to split stitches if I'm not careful.  Not crazy about that.

7.  Watched TV

8.  Drank some wine.

9.  Began crate training for the sweet pup.  She is getting too attached and needs to learn how to be alone for a bit without freaking out.  Oh, and also that she is NOT allowed on the couch.  Anymore.

10.  Finally made a meal that went over well with ALL the members of the household.   Not one complaint.  They even asked for seconds.  I can't tell you how rare and sweet this is.  Usually, I can please one or more with any given home-cooked meal, but pleasing all 4 of them is nearly impossible.  The magic meal: Fried Quinoa cakes and shrimp tacos with garlic lemon sauce.  This will be a good one for next Lenten season, God willing.

You know, I didn't do that much this weekend and I loved every minute of it...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thank You For the Days

Swim Champs

Today youngest tries out for the competitive swim summer team.  Swimming is such a great sport.  I highly encourage all parents of young children to get them involved in it.  What other sport can potentially save a life one day?  Oldest son saved his dad's life at the ripe old age of 11 on a family vacation to Hawaii due to the skills and strength he developed from this sport.  Dad was foolhardy and got into trouble in deep water, and had to be rescued by his pre-teen....Tragedy averted.

Work continues on the courtyard.  When will I finish and enjoy the fruits of my labor?  Went low-key with the herb garden this year.  Bought two small tomato plants billed as ideal for container gardening due to their mounding growth habit, two basil plants, and two cilantro plants.  I think this will be all I do this season on the veggie/herb front.  Although I'm tempted to plant spearmint as well.  I do so love the mojito season...

Sweet Basil

Container tomatoes

Cilantro - Can you say, "Salsa"?

And on the knitting front, the plain stockinette socks continue apace - one complete, one about 1/3 of leg complete:
Complete with stitch markers so that I make the second one exactly the same...
And just realized I still have to put the fringe on my sisters scarf that I made a MONTH ago.  Or was that TWO MONTHS???

Confession time: I'm not real fond of the way garter stitch looks most of the time, especially in solid colors.  But I absolutely love it for vertical stripes in variegated yarns such as the one above.   Isn't that colorway gorgeous? 

Okay, off to nag at the teen-agers and get them to finish up the cleaning of the family-and-living-rooms before the pup comes home tomorrow!  I know it's trivial, but I said a prayer yesterday that she will integrate into our family without too much trouble.  My days of putting up with poor puppy behavior are behind me.  I pray she doesn't try my patience (always a scarce commodity) too much.  As long as she's smart, I'll be happy.  I can't abide a dumb dog...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's Creeping Up On Me

Just spent an hour or so turning the pages of middle son's high school yearbook.  He graduates in less than two weeks and it still hasn't quite sunk in.  High school years are so different from grade school.  They fly by at a highly accelerated pace, let me tell you.  They enter as Freshman still babies, and exit as young men and women, and although you never take your eyes off them, you don't know how it happens...I'm still recovering from his older brother's graduation last year and entry into college this Fall, and I'm not even close to coming to grips with this one. 

So, for a little distraction, I whipped up some home-made BB cream:

The benefits of making my own BB cream in addition to simplifying the process of applying my make-up (one product in one easy step instead of six separate products in six separate steps) is that I can adjust the color until I get the perfect match.  This I like.  I'm all about simple and quick: Dinners, housework, personal grooming.  I'm showered, dressed, and out the door within 20 minutes, tops.  It's one of the obstacles I have in my prayer life, though.  I tend to bring my make-it-quick attitude to that as well.  It's one of my biggest challenges, to learn to savor the time I spend in prayer or quiet contemplation of God.  I tend to rush it a lot of the time.  But I'm working on it, and He knows that.

I feel bad about missing yesterday's Wednesday Hodgepodge, but I didn't get on-line at all.  There was much gardening to do, which took almost the whole day.  Then an episode or two of "Dexter" and that was pretty much it.   I usually prepare my post on Tuesday, but this Tuesday was spent doing major de-cluttering around the house in preparation for our newest arrival, who will be joining the family this Saturday.  Yes, we've lost our minds and decided to take on a new puppy.  She's a Golden Lab, runt of the litter, and I'm told she has a sweet, mild temperament.  Her main attraction was that she was FREE.  Here's what she looks like:

I'll have better photos of her after we bring her home.  This one was sent from my cousin's i-phone.  I've told the boys they can name her.  The short list is Esme, Jain, Dexter, or Dutch.

We haven't told the cat yet...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Lady of the House

When I read this week's prompt for Ten on Tuesday (Carole Knits), at first I was excited.  I watch a lot of TV, and a lot of that is nostalgia TV, so I thought this was going to be a slam dunk.  Then I got to thinking about it and realized that I am just not that great with these lists overall.  Round about number 6 I run out of steam.  So I calmed down.  Never the less, here is my crack at 10 Favorite TV Moms...

  1. Laura Petrie from the "Dick Van Dyke show".  I love everything about this show.  Timeless and classy.  And Mary Tyler Moore in her younger days--wow. 
  2. Donna Reed from the "Donna Reed show".  What a sweetheart.
  3. June Cleaver from "Leave it to Beaver" - 'nuff said.
  4. Mrs. Cunningham from "Happy Days" - Haven't seen an episode of this show for years, but I'm sure she was a great mom.
  5. Mrs. Partridge  from "The Partridge Family" - not sure exactly why, but I just thought she was so sweet.
  6. Carol Brady from "The Brady Bunch" - duh...
  7. Roseanne Conner from "Roseanne" - even though she is such an obnoxious character, I have to admit some of the early episodes have me laughing pretty heartily.  Plus, she is totally screwed up in every way, but when it comes down to it she is totally there for her kids.
  8. Steve Douglas from "My Three Sons" - Hey, he has to be both father and mother to those boys, and he does a fine job, even though Uncle Charlie does all the heavy lifting on the domestic chores front...
  9. Katie Douglas from "My Three Sons" - She's what, about 19?  Takes on triplets and finishes her college degree?  And puts up with that pain in the a** husband Robbie?  And she's so darn cute and sassy.
  10. Kate Bradley from "Petticoat Junction" - Okay, Kate is my number one favorite.  That lady had it going on.  Sharp as a tack, always doing the right thing, raising three lovely daughters and putting up with that horrid Uncle Joe.  And her sense of humor?  Never failed her.
Whew.  Made it.  Can't wait to see what everyone else came up with...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Little Miss Muffit

Okay, so one of the things I find most unpleasant in life just happened to me.  I was catching up on the ole e-mail with a cup of Joe and what do you think happened?  That's right, a creepy little spider decided to descend from the skylight in the kitchen on his little silky thread.  Where do you think he was planning to land?  Well, it appeared to me that there must have been a bulls-eye in my coffee cup that I couldn't see, 'cuz that little turd was heading straight for it.  If I hadn't spotted him from the corner of my eye, my next sip of coffee would have included a shot of spider.  Shudder.

Must move on.  Today is Time Trials for high school swimming championships for youngest son.  Soon, the season will be over and there will be no more of this until next year:

Right on cue the weather has turned from record highs to downright chilly, which will make for a miserable couple of days for swimming.  Never fails.

Oh well, at least it will finally be cool enough to finish the planting for the courtyard.  Yes, that's right, another task has been left unfinished around here.  But truthfully, we've had high-90's heat and I just couldn't summon the will to work in the sun under those conditions.  A valid excuse if ever I heard one. 

Dead Nettle - Another ugly name for a delightful little flower

And on the knitting front, I updated my Ravelry store with the Sojourner Socks pattern.  I'm going to begin another design today.  Not socks this time (finally), probably something for a baby.  I haven't decided whether I'll go for a little infant dress or maybe a one-piece jumpsuit.  I also want to whip up a little summer shrug out of cotton that I can wear to Mass over a sleeveless top for when the heat becomes unbearable this summer.  Mom's sweater still looks like this:

Alas, I fear it is BORING to knit...And I don't have a comfortable place that is also well-lit to work on it.  With my terrible eyesight, black is difficult to knit with.  Add to that the fact that I'm coming to suspect I should have chosen to make it top-down with raglan shaping instead of bottom up-figure-out-the-sleeves-when-you-get-there...I'll probably go with raglan, but raglan from the bottom-up is always problematic for me.  I knew that, so why did I persist? 

Okay, well, time to get some real work done around here...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May Day, or Rather, M'Aidez...Aidez-moi

Folks, these past couple of weeks have been hard on my heart.  Seems like one national tragedy after another and personal suffering hard on the heels of that...The blog has been neglected while I turned instead to deeper prayer and comfort knitting.  Light is beginning to dawn, but so much sadness still persists.  That is why I am grateful to turn once again to Joyce's Hodgepodge (link at left) for a welcome change of pace and return to the digital world...Here goes nothing:

1. When the children of today grow up, what do you think they'll say about this period in time?  What do you most hope they remember?

I think they'll remember the birth of social media and how technology advanced so quickly.  What I most hope they remember is the family interaction, love, and constant sense of safety that we tried to give them.  I hope they look back on their childhood and think, "Those were such happy times."

2. National Teacher's Day is celebrated in the US of A on the first Tuesday in May, this year May 7th...share how a particular teacher positively influenced you.

I had a series of wonderful teachers in grade school.  I think each of them influenced me in some way, and all made school a place I wanted to be. 

3. What's a dish your mama made, that if set in front of you today would whisk you right back to childhood?

This would probably have to be a Polish dish she used to make very rarely as a special treat.  We called it "Kliniki" but I'm not sure what the actual name was.  It's also possible that it was a Hungarian dish rather than Polish, but we're not really sure.  At any rate, it was an old family recipe handed down from generation to generation.  It was made from cabbage and contained bacon and these light, fluffy dumplings cut into small pieces and mixed in.  Delightful.

4.  Mother May I was a game we played when I was growing pieces, parts, or plugs required.  What games from childhood do you remember loving that were also pieces, parts, and plug free?

The two that immediately spring to mind are "Simon Says" and "Red light/Green light".  And of course there were the endless permutations of freeze tag and such.  Most of my childhood was spent out of doors playing with the neighbor kids.  Happy times.

5. Besides your own mother, tell us about a woman who influenced you as a child.

I used to spend a lot of time at the neighbor's house across the street from us.  They had a bunch of kids, and there was always a great deal of activity there.  They were a Hawaiian family, and we had just moved from Hawaii ourselves, so I think that added to the joy of hanging out with them.  We had a lot in common on all fronts.  Anyhoo, their mother taught me how to sew and do embroidery.  She was also very lively and talkative.  I was influenced by her zest for life and how she was always in the center of things and how much she enjoyed her kids.

6. Mamma Mia!  What's the best play or musical you've ever seen?

I'm not a huge theater goer, so the pickin's are pretty slim.  I don't think I've ever seen a live professional theater performance.  It's always been strictly amateur theater for me.  The best play I've ever seen would probably be a performance of "The Gin Game" at the local theater house.  It was honestly fantastic, and the venue is really part of the experience there.  It's a truly lovely place.  As for musicals, the best one of those would have to be the performance of "The Pied Piper" starring my oldest son as the Pied Piper.  He was in 7th grade and we had no idea that the boy could sing.  He had several solos and he was awesome.  I was so proud of him.  His stage presence was mesmerizing.  But I'm not biased or anything...

7. What are three smells that make you feel nostalgic?

The smell of "Heaven Scent" fragrance.  Ditto "Windsong".  The smell of original "Coppertone" sunblock (of course, we used to call it "suntan lotion" back in the day.)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've been dipping my toe into new waters with regard to prayer of late.  I have wanted for some time to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, but it was always too confusing and overwhelming.  I didn't know where to start.  Enter a lovely blog "Coffee and Canticles" whose author recently published a guide to praying the LOTH for lay Catholics.  I downloaded it to my kindle, and have begun to read it.  I'm taking it slowly.  Going to read the whole thing first, then figure out how to work this wonderful form of prayer into my daily life.  We have a parish nearby that offers Lauds and Vespers.  I'd like to start attending.  We'll see.  Best laid plans and all that.  In the meantime, there is something about the Divine Office that is calling to me. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why is "Y" a Crooked Letter?

Thanks to Carole at Carole Knits (link in right side bar) for this week's distraction.  And a much needed distraction it has been.  Carole's topic for this week is about knitting.  Now, I am a passionate knitter.  When I'm not actually knitting (which is rare), I'm dreaming about knitting, mentally knitting, designing new knit patterns, contemplating my stash and planning the next knit.  It never stops unless I am extremely ill.    But I've never really examined the reasons why I knit, so this week's Ten on Tuesday may prove more difficult than it would at first appear.  So, insert a mental image of someone cracking their knuckles, and let's get it on:

Ten Reasons Why I Knit:
Sojourner Socks

  1. I enjoy creating things.  I consider it playing for my grown-up self.
  2. Knitting helps pass the time and keeps me from growing impatient and bad-tempered in waiting rooms, the DMV, or any time I have to wait for something for an extended period.  I am not known for my patience around these parts...
  3. I love the way yarn feels before, during, and after it is knit.  The tactile pleasure I get from touching my knitting cannot be overstated.
  4. I love the colors and color combinations that unfold from the promise of an unknit skein to the finished item.
  5. I enjoy exercising my brain trying to figure out a new way or a more efficient or elegant way to accomplish a new technique or style element.
  6. I love that I can make something from a ball of string and two sticks that someone I love will cherish because it is beautiful and comes from my hands. 
  7. Knitting is a form of prayer for me.  My knitting time is time I can use to contemplate the Almighty and be grateful to Him for giving me the gift of this lovely hobby.  I can knit prayers into items I'm working on and sing songs of joy and gladness, thanks and praise, while I knit.
  8. I can knit chemo caps or similar items that bring comfort to people enduring great sorrow and anguish. 
  9. Knitting allows me to use my God-given talents for something useful and beautiful.
  10. I love that knitting can be challenging and complex or simple, brainless, and soothing depending on my emotional or mental needs.

Man, that really was harder than I thought it would be.  Tag, you're it!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sadness and Silence

Lovely lavender to brighten the courtyard

More beautiful columbines to contemplate
Sorry for the radio silence.  There have been some dark days recently that required much prayer and withdrawal from the digital world.  There have also been some happy things and I will try to focus on those, like the delights of the flowers pictured above.

The past couple of weeks have been fraught with shocking, sorrowful news from friends; all day visits to the ER for youngest son who sustained a neck injury in a basketball game; recovery--praise God--swim meets; a mini family reunion, this time under pleasant circumstances instead of the usual funeral/wedding.  A bit of new knitting (nothing exciting, just another test knit for the Sojourner sock pattern):

and a plain vanilla sock to use up a lovely colorway of Mountain Colors, Bearfoot I had in the stash, just for a stress reliever:
I wanted to try a simple chevron stitch pattern to break up the handpainted yarn a bit, but just didn't have the mental energy to choose one, so went with simple stockinette and eye-of-partridge heel.  It's just been tough...

There's also been a little more work on the courtyard garden, just for a little respite from the sadness:

And the swim season winds down:

The dinner timer just chimed, so I guess I'll close here.  Hope to finally put the Sojourner sock pattern on Ravelry tomorrow.