Thursday, February 28, 2013

Skip one, Knit two

Skip, knit, skip, knit... that is how my week is feeling.  Monday was my late night at work and then Tuesday started early and was high stress, needless to say all the ups and downs have me feeling like I am developing a nice little cold and making me want to hide. 

So while I was skipping my blog yesterday I was busy knitting in the car around all the rushing around that we were doing.  So many things were stealing snippets of time here and there.  Here it is Thursday and I feel like I have missed an entire day... blurred right past it.

Heck if my sweater was coming together this quickly I would be finished.

I don't like chaotic days like that, I feel like so much gets left undone, that I can't refocus on what I missed in the process. 

I did start investigating long arm quilting machines yesterday, I am torn. I want one, I feel it would help me get more of my own quilts, and the ones I make for others, finished more quickly.  I also think it would help me get another step closer to finally opening b'longa'b's. 

My challenge is my lack of belief in my own abilities, I am a nervous nellie... I will admit to that in a second.  What if I make the investment, and I just leap too far too fast?  I believe strongly in baby steps.  Once I have proven myself then I am not at all worried about the progress I may or may not make, because I know I can do it. But when it is still out there in the unknown... wow does my nervous factor kick in hard.  I start to doubt myself, and for me fear is paralyzing!

Here is the other part of the challenge, probably the bigger part of the challenge, my Hubby is amazing and he has the utmost belief in me and my abilities to make my dreams come true.  He thinks I should start at the top and not worry about the inbetween.  And while it really gives me encouragement it also helps to paralzye me further... now I have to worry about letting him down... oh my.

Someone once told me Hubby was Texas, always willing to go big and confident in the outcome, if he's Texas what am I?  Rhode Island?  Small and unassuming? 

As of right now, I think I am going to go a bit smaller than he thinks I should, I think I need to start with a mid-arm and frame.  I won't flip out over the investment (I hate to spend money!) and I can cut my teeth on something manageable.  I will take time this weekend to do some more research, to really delve into what it is I am searching to do and where the starting point is that makes me feel the most comfortable. 

For now... I think I am going to skip one and find some time to knit...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rain drops...

Sitting here listening to the icy rain two things pop into my mind, one I am so thankful it isn't snow and two the ground is getting a wonderful soaking that my garden will love!

The mid-west sure took a beating with the drought last year, and I know I have never seen the Mississippi that low.  I also have never seen my yard actually cracked before, it was an odd thing to observe and as a gardener it sure played havoc.  It was so dry that the garden required watering twice a day just to guarantee anything survived.

I am so thankful for the rain.  Hearing it fall is really making me daydream about my garden this summer.  I want to expand it.  I have been looking through the seed catalog and there are a few varieties that I really feel it is time to try.

I already have the strawberry popcorn seeds and I feel they will definitely need a bigger space than I allotted the popcorn last year.  Ava agreed with me, she thought it was pretty cool that Gramma grew her own popcorn.  And she picked a few things out herself, she found several melons that she feels would be tasty and a good addition to the mix.

Early last spring, after planting
I am researching how to build some trellises that will hold the vines and still make harvesting easy.  I am thinking about arbors, can't you just imagine the beauty of cucumber vines over an arbor?  With the ripening fruits just hanging there waiting for harvest? I am also looking for solutions to give my butternut squash the optimal growing situation, my garden is relatively small and these kind of got crazy last year, working their way all the way into the front yard.  I would use my fence, they really wrapped themselves on that last year and produced like mad, but my neighbor has issues with understanding my fence is mine and kept having her lawn crew string trimming them.  I am pretty understanding, but not if you mess with my garden, especially when it is on my property.

I am also looking at planting some flowers for the first time in forever... I am not skilled at growing flowers, I never end up with those lush beds full of vibrant colors.  I am not sure why?  Although I am toying with the idea... I want to give my bees something to love, a reason to hang around and pollinate my beds.  We'll see... that seems a bit of a stretch for me.

I think this weekend will find me starting some of my slower growers, the ones I am hesitant to direct sow.  I have some Amish red cheese peppers that are simply out of this world, and they take forever to germinate, but once they do... wow... I think I will start a few of those this weekend.

Baker Creek Seed Company one of my favorite places to shop!

Spring is dangerously close when the rain starts steadily falling, the beds are getting nourished, the river is filling back up, and my need for soil under my nails is getting very strong!  I cannot wait to clean them out, fill them back up, and plant!


Ava looking through some selections last spring
I love the peace I find in my garden, the joy of growing food to feed our family.  I will steal my Ava for a day or so to help me, she has her own gardening tools and she always helps Gramma plant.  Maybe we will add a new blueberry bush to replace the one that died last year, Ava loves blueberries. And I will definitely plant some french breakfast radishes... Hubby loves those.

Yep, I love listening to a late February rain...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Annoyed...

I am in that kind of mood today... this is not a good thing...

It was a great weekend and I had so much fun with my hubby, family and just in my quiet time it all balanced out.  I had the opportunity to enjoy my parents, love on my grand daughter and daughter and veg out with my hubby.  I would say it was a seriously well balanced, re-energizing weekend.

This morning started out wonderful too... I woke up way to early, considering I have to work until nine tonight, but decided to make the most of it.  Hubby had the news on, and I was just surfing through a few of my favorite blogs.  Hot cup of coffee, a bit of quiet in the dark before dawn, it should have been relaxing.

I found some wonderful ideas that I want to try, even looked into ordering a nice pressure cooker and a better quality dehydrator.  Hubby and I have really been putting some thought into these things and feel they will help us get the most out of our garden.  I already can, but I have never ventured into using a pressure cooker, so I haven't been doing as much as I could have.

And of course my cousin is dangerous, she is always posting things that get me digging deeper and finding something else I want to try my hand at, now she has me thinking about canning bacon bits... Oh my...

So where did the annoyance come in?  I am a news junky - I don't care for television as a general rule and really couldn't care less about 99% of movies either.  I don't like fantasy acted out for me, if I want fantasy I will read a good book, one that lets my imagination go crazy and I can picture it in my own way. 

So it is probably safe to say that I did not enjoy my morning coffee and news served up with a step by step recap of the Oscars.  Seriously?? In my brain, in this day and age, with the technology available, WHY do we need that?  There was a not a news channel that focused on the news, what is going on in Hollywood and who won what award is not news.  If I had had wanted to watch it, I had several other options... watch it live, record it, watch it on any of the "movie star" channels, YouTube, and many, many more.

Did I miss something while I slept? Did we solve our debt issues?  Is the threat of the sequester over?  Are there no wars?  Has the price of gas stopped rising?  Our second amendment rights are no longer being threatened?  GMO's and Monsanto have stopped poisoning our food?  Have we cured cancer, diabetes and all those other illnesses?  What about the article I read yesterday about the plan of the FDA to start putting aspartame in milk?

Now do you see why I am annoyed?  There is real news, there are real issues, and real challenges facing our country and I simply cannot comprehend why the news media, the very watch dogs of our society are more focused on who won an award, who's dress didn't look right, who was or wasn't the right choice, who tripped up the stairs, who was inappropriate, etc.  My frustration level went through the roof. 

I don't care about actors and actresses, I am not a fan of sports, and I just couldn't care less what these folks think about politics or life.  I am happy for them that they are gainfully employed and that they aren't waiting for the rest of the country to take care of them, but honestly I do not feel that they are any more important than the rest of us.

I am more interested in the farmer that is growing healthy organic food for our nation, for the dairy farmer that is producing nutritious non-chemical laden food, the everyday man and woman that are working hard to make a difference in this life, the people that are working at the most basic level to bring our country around, put people back to work and all that stuff.  And I want to know how our country is supporting in making that happen.

So... to deal with my annoyance, I simply quit watching.  I love the off button!  Because I have a choice on what I allow to annoy me.  Instead of allowing that stuff to steal my joy in the day, I helped hubby clean the fridge (wow, talk about sad... it's amazing how much you can forget about when you are working too much), fed all my critters and started the laundry.  It's wonderful how doing things with your own two hands and for the benefit of your family can completely change your mood. 

After I switch the laundry it will be time to work on some knitting while thinking about my spring garden.  Yep, it is definitely time to turn my thoughts to that.  There might be snow covering the beds, but soon it will be time to plant the spring beds... See mood is improving already... 

How do you deal with things that annoy you?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Gift of Love...

Yesterday ended up a great day!  Mom and Dad visited all day, my girls came over, spent time with my sister and her family, and celebrated 10 years here in Illinois.

All of those things are special to me for different reasons.  It is always great when I get to spend time with Ashley and Ava, and having Ava stay the night is so much fun!  I don't see my youngest sister that often, so any chance to visit with her is full of laughter.  Mom and Dad coming to visit was just plain wonderful!  Worried me a bit, at 70 the two of them deciding to cruise around the mid-west in the snow is a bit unsettling.  Yet, I am so glad they decided to come visit!  I enjoyed getting to watch mom try on her sweater and the smile on her face when she opened it.

Yet, reflecting on the importance of yesterday in my life at the quiet end of the day was probably the best part.

Ten years ago, on what started a beautiful sunny day and ended up with snow ball sized snow flakes falling from the sky, I arrived in Illinois.  It was time for me to start the newest chapter of my life and I was giddy with excitement and terrified of the unknowns.  But ready to start over, ready to be happy.

I was so afraid to start over. I wasn't sure I would get better (I had been sick for what seemed like forever). I wasn't sure my sweet son was going to be okay with all the changes. I wasn't sure yet that I could trust again.  I was sure that I was willing to risk it all for love and a promise of happiness and a loving, bright future.

As I speed up time and move forward ten years, there have been bumps along the way.  Moments that I doubted my decisions.  Struggles with ex spouses, the pain of blending families, the sadness of losses neither of us thought we could survive, the heartbreak of watching children make decisions that caused them pain, career choices that made us miserable, and simply creating a life together that sort of started in the middle.
Exploring Germany 2012

Through it all, I know that I made the perfect choice!  It's an amazing feeling to wake up each morning knowing that you are married to your soul mate, your best friend, the absolute love of your life.

It's incredible to spend your life with someone that knows you almost better than you know yourself.  Someone takes the time to dig up yards to plant gardens, buys quilt frames and spinning wheels, someone that will take you searching for fibers, who takes you fishing and even takes the fish off the hook when you can't bring yourself to do it.  Someone that works hard to make your life feel full and wonderful! Someone who loves the things you love, that will spend hours working in a wood shop, or knows that it is perfectly okay to buy you power tools as well as fishing gear for birthday's and holidays. Someone that cares enough to put a cup of coffee mysteriously on your desk when you are too busy to even go get one, or a sweet treat and a note are hidden in your desk drawer to make it a better day. 

Enjoying the company picnic with Ava 2012
He's man that knows the strength of self it gives a person when they believe in you and your dreams, no matter how crazy or far fetched they are. Someone willing to taste test cooking successes and failures, willing to help you load tons of dirt and manure and not complain too much about either! He is someone that will detour on the way home for margaritas when the week has simply been overwhelming. 
Exploring options for the greenhouse...

There is a special power in a marriage that is built on beliefs in the others hopes and dreams and the willingness to help you get there is how life is lived. The treasure is someone that loves you in good times and bad, a willingness to dry your tears and bask in your smile.  I am so blessed to have this now.

There are still times when we disagree, although it is rare.  Times when we are both simply to tired to do much but curl up at the end of the night and drift off to sleep without hardly any conversation. Ten years down the road there is comfort in knowing it is okay for those days to happen.

I doubt that I am as good a wife as he is a husband, the bar is a bit too high, but I love him and strive to give as good as I get.  Long ago in another life I could never imagine retirement or the far future, now it is my focus.  I see forever every day in a smile, hug or kiss and I know that even if I had a time machine I wouldn't go backwards and change a thing!  Occasionally, I wonder if I would go further back to start sooner, but I don't think so.  I think we are both the people we are because of what our lives brought us through to get to where we were when we started.  And I love the people we are, separate and together, mostly together!

As I watched my folks pull away this morning, I said a quiet prayer that the ups and downs they have been through will help them realize the gift they have and to cherish it and each other.  I hope they find the joy and love that I have, because sometimes it's the second time when you finally get it right!
Safe travels Mom & Dad...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Unexpected!

At 1:26 pm yesterday I got a text, a simple text, that read "just passed Corning"... huh?  To say I was surprised to see it would be an understatement.  That text was from my mom and it was letting me know she was just over 3 hours away.

My parents have become a bit unpredictable in the past year, and it isn't a bad thing, it's actually rather funny!  On Monday one of my sisters had started to organize a meet half way birthday lunch for Mom, she will be 70 on Monday.  By Wednesday Mom and Dad had decided to come to Illinois instead, mind you initially Sikeston was too far of a drive, so the decision to come all the way here... "well surprise, surprise" (I can actually hear Gomer Pyle saying that in my head). By Thursday with the storm rolling in the decision was made to wait until maybe next weekend. And evidently by Friday morning with the sun shining bright in Arkansas, they decided to head out. 

My folks have traveled an interesting road to where they are today, but I have to tell you since Thanksgiving there has simply been no telling what they are going to do next.  It's okay, because they both smile and laugh so much more now, and do completely unexpected things.  Like deciding to drive all the way to Illinois for the day.  We all know this is Dad's idea, Mom is a homebody.  She loves to see her family but she prefers to have them come to her.  Dad on the other hand is the traveler always looking for a new adventure.  Although their logic was pretty darn sound. Why drive a total of 10 hours in one day to have lunch, when you can drive 6 hours each in two and spend a couple of nights in a hotel and have lots of time for visiting?

The next text 5:52 pm "here call me".  I did.  They had checked into the hotel down the road from my house and were gathering kids. A quick stop at my daughter's house to pick up our Ava and off we went.

Off to find out what kind of surprise Gramma and Grampa had for her
 The weekend plans are different than they were yesterday, and it's just okay with me!  I am so happy to have time to spend with my folks.   And I have to admit, I loved the devil smile on Dad's face that connected with his eyes when he said "it's my idea".  I loved watching them together at dinner last night, the smiles and the laughter, it was good stuff.  And my daughter's smile when she reached her Gramma's hug last night was priceless.  And I sure loved the hug I got from both of them.  Especially my Daddy, for too many years he wasn't part of our world, and I love that he is back in the center with Momma.

Two peas in a pod

It's the Wicked Pieces Twins!

Teasing in the elevator heading to dinner
No telling what kind of conversations we are having


 It's gonna be a great Saturday, before they go cruising off in their new car heading back to Arkansas for their Monday morning appointment.  They are good for each other, and it makes me smile!


Friday, February 22, 2013

It's FRIDAY!!!

I love the brightness of fresh snow at night!
Woo Hoo!!  What could possibly make a Friday better?  A delayed start to work, that is what! It was heavenly sleeping in that extra hour, I am fairly certain that I completely needed it, as I didn't even wake up at my normal time.  And having the chance to ease into the day is so perfect... gave me time to day dream and plan the weekend!

And boy do I have plans for the weekend.  The plan to see Mom before her birthday, but sadly, Mother Nature decided that was not going to happen.  Our little winter storm has made it an unsafe drive for her and Dad, so maybe we can spend next weekend together.  I will admit I am bumming a bit as I cannot wait to see her face when she opens her gift.

Night glow on the snow last night

But... that isn't going to slow me down!  My weekend will be filled with activities, I have the normal weekend chores of laundry and ironing. I want to make a batch of bread to pop in the fridge to see us through the week. I am considering making a batch of wine jelly (I have a couple of random bottles of reds that are not going to get drank at this point and I want to try the recipe), it intrigues me and also encourages my "waste not want not" spirit. I have a hat that was ordered to get finished and I want to make a few batches of soap, my grand baby loves my soap and is rapidly running through my stash.

On top of all my "homemaker" goals we are going to finally go out with friends!

So excited that for the first time in wwwwaaaayyyyyy too long we are going out with some of my favorite folks to play trivia at a benefit for one of the Y's World Service projects.  It should be great fun, even if we stink, at least we will be laughing.

Hopefully, Hubby is going to have the time to help me get my Etsy shop started, my goal is to have it up and running by March 1.  I have asked him to help me manage the part that is holding me back, he can run the site and I can create.

Well... it's time to get ready to tackle the drive in, I am not worried about the weather and the road, I am worried about the crazy people that forget to drive appropriately for the conditions... I am sure it will be the only stressful part to an otherwise good day!

Light rain = just starting to look ugly!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wussification?

I am sitting here wondering if we aren't creating entire generations of kids that have no idea how to handle life, real life...
Evening sun setting over the horizon Wednesday

A bit later on Wednesday, school already being cancelled
 Here in the Mid-West it's been a few years since we've really had a big winter storm, you know the kind that knock out the power and you can hear the echo of generators and groups of folks all gathering to help shovel out or warm up those that can't do it for themselves. This past winter we've had the promise of "snowmeggedan" - please, i don't think that one managed to have 2 inches of accumulation! Yesterday they started talking about the huge storm that was barreling down on us here in the St. Louis area.

Now mind you while the entire area was rushing to the store for milk, eggs and bread, I am really bumming, because long before the snow talk I had planned to do my shopping for groceries last night.  It's insane the way folks behave when the mere mention of snow is brought up. Maybe because I have lived in places where the snow banks were high enough to build snow condo's I am a bit jaded, but really is an inch or two of snow really worth stocking up for a blizzard over?

By the time we had battled the folks thinking they were going to live on french toast during the storm, I guess they have forgotten during the last big winter storm some of us were without power for over 8 days (yep, I was in that group) and cold bread and milk served with raw eggs is not tasty.  Peanut butter I could understand, but eggs?

But I digress, by the time we've shopped for our weekly groceries and headed home the folks that run our schools were already on a roll.  Before the first slightest hint of snow was in the air over half of the private and church related schools had already called school for the next day.  By the time dinner was cooked and all of the groceries put away, pretty much every school in the metro area had cancelled classes for the day.
7:00 am

Drive to work... passing all the bus stops

Barely any clouds... Why is school cancelled?
 Now I might seem insensitive here, but, we have historical data that most storms simply decide to head north or south of us, very few decide to barrel straight through.  Mother Nature takes the belt way around the city with greater regularity than the truckers do.

With dawns first light it is very evident that we are still bone dry and the sun is rising through clouds. The news is covering the fact that all schools are closed, the city has called it a day and there will be no work accomplished in government offices and people should stay home and be safe.

10:00 am??  Still not sure I feel school should have been called

I get it, if it was a blizzard, if there were a promise of 6 - 12 inches all of that should happen.  But last forecast called for a mere 2 - 4 inches with the possibility of 1/10 of an inch of ice by late tonight.  And nothing happening until at least 11 am.

Did our kids really need to miss a day of school?  For fear of sounding like my parents and grandparents, who walked up the hill both ways to and from school in sub-zero temperatures, I am afraid we are creating generations that expect no speed bumps or problems from their perfect lives.  No inconvenience or discomfort allowed.  School gets out at 3 pm, the snow started to accumulate at 1:30, and here it is 5:00 pm and the roads are still passable, just with caution, the first snow plows just went down our road. Drivers need to remember wintery mix means use caution. Kids could have attended at least a half day of school...

Driving home at 1:15 pm... not that bad

Still not sure school should have been called

Or work for that matter... although I am thankful for the day
Not so much accumulation 1:45 pm

We've taken away from kids the ability to want and wait for anything. I remember being a kid and looking out the windows at school wondering how late they would keep us, as I still had to walk home in all that stuff falling from the sky.  And I asked my daughter if she remembered it and she agreed she remembered the same thing.  Now we don't even wait for flurries to cancel?  What happened to just calling the day early when the storms seriously came in?

How is this any different from stopping at every driveway to pick up kids in the morning because we don't want them to walk to a common area and then complaining about the cost to run the buses?  Or not expecting children within a mile and half to walk to school?  Or maybe ride their bikes?  But those things went away when we stopped putting sidewalks in our city planning,

I don't want anyone's children's in danger, but they didn't sit home sipping hot chocolate, building snow men in the yard or anything like that, they went about their lives the same as any day, except they cut the school part out.  They were out riding buses, visiting friends, being driven or driving around.  And some of the adults aren't any better.

2:45 pm

2:45 pm
 I work in the service industry, and the number of people that called in stating "what do you mean you are closing?  I have the day off  because of the weather and I want to come out".  Seriously people?  If the weather is bad enough you needed to stay home, don't you think it is bad enough to stay home, and let others stay home safe also?

5:00 pm Neeko the fearless is checking it out
 


I am glad I am sitting at home and not driving, not because I think it is that terrible out, but because I hate the torture of trying to drive home between the guy in the Camero that thinks he's out for a summer drive and is hot rodding it and the guy in the 4-wheel drive SUV that doesn't realize that doesn't mean he won't sliding all over the road.  I am enjoying an afternoon of sitting in my living room listening to the wind and hearing the icy wrapped snow tapping against my awning.  I am more concerned with the high winds, cold and the iciness, but all of it is almost past us, and tomorrow will dawn clear and bright.  The fact that they are already closing schools for Friday blows my mind, there is less than 3" of snow on the ground and we have snow plows out. Unless your heat or power is knocked out... I think it's time to man up, face life and get on with it...

Gator agrees with the school board & the Mayor its cold & he is staying put

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The jukebox in my mind...

I cannot be the only person that hears it.  I often find I have a soundtrack running through my brain.  I love music, not like my hubby loves music, I prefer mine to be soft and internal. Although, sometimes I need it external, loud and soul shaking! It seems to reflect how things are going in my life or day.

And usually it is old music, nothing current ever seems to run through my head.  There are always the old country songs or the oldies, every now and again a snippet of something fairly current sneaks in, but that is very rare.  In fact "in the corner of my mind there's a jukebox, playing all my favorite memories..." has been running through my head since the middle of the night.  Every time I drifted awake there it was. Yesterday didn't end so well and that song tends to always be there when I need comfort.

Luckily hubby is a huge fan of jazz, it is easy to listen to so it doesn't grate on my nerves or make me jumpy.  Sometimes it clashes with what is playing in my head though.  I wonder if this is odd.  I wonder if anyone else has the soundtrack of their lives playing in their head from time to time.  The songs I hear are ones that have a strong meaning to me ones that are connected to memories that either made me profoundly happy or sad.  I often tease him that he is putting a sound track to life, without realizing that I actually do the same thing.

Is it going to be a "walking on sunshine" or "skip idy do dah, thank you Lord" kind of day, or is it going to be more of a morose, stressful one?  I haven't figured out where the skip button is, like on Pandora, so whatever wants to play keeps on playing.   I also haven't found out where the genre selection is located. But as I can't think of the lyrics to any songs that make me sad, I am guessing it is going to be an okay kind of day and I don't have to keep searching for that selector knob. 

I hope that everyone has a jukebox in their mind, it helps to balance and mellow the day.  I also find that it helps me refocus when things are going pretty cruddy.  Although, I must admit it's annoying when something I really don't want to hear gets in there and won't go away... well then it just... stinks!  Like a needle stuck in the old ruts of an album.

What song is playing on your internal jukebox?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Birth of a Sweater!


Early last fall a bug bit me… I had just finished a project and was browsing Ravelry for a new one.  It needed to be challenging and functional.  I am all about functional when choosing projects; pretty sure the only non-functional one I have ever made was the knit Santa bikini I made my daughter as a joke a few years back.

There it was, the February Lady Sweater, it captured my attention and imagination.  Over the next few weeks I kept going back to it, somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that it would be absolutely perfect for my Mom.  Her 70th birthday was coming up and I needed something perfect for her, I wanted it useful, practical and beautiful.  No major challenges there, right? 

After a couple of weeks I decided I was going to make that sweater, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I downloaded it to my Nook and laptop. The quest for just the right yarn started in earnest.  Little did I realize that was going to be such a challenge… so many choices, so many colors, so many different textures of fibers, what to choose.

I still hadn’t started it by December, I was still searching, and my holiday list required so much of my time it was just going to have to wait, bubbling up into my consciousness every time I finished one of my projects.  
Finally with the wrapping paper put away, my fingers started craving the feel of smooth needles and fibers; I dusted off the idea yet again.  Still nothing!  So I cast on for a sweater for myself in a beautiful royal blue. 
 
The start of the royal blue...
 About 4 inches into it, I realized that time was slipping away from me and I had to get started on my Mom’s gift! 

Maybe I function best under stress; deadlines seem to motivate me like nothing else.  We were getting ready to head to Urbana for a day with the boy, and I do not travel well without a project going.  It is hard for me to sit still that long and I get cranky! In my rush to pack my travel bag with projects I started digging through my yarn stash, stuff I had bought for a myriad of projects that still were not done. 

Soft Lavender
 At the bottom of a bag, tucked away in the corner, my fingers touched softness.  Pulling it out I found the beautiful lavender yarn that I had fallen in love with last summer. Bought before I remembered that personally I need bolder colors and it would never work for me.  It had been there all along, the perfect shade of lavender to make the February Lady Sweater for my Mom.  The yarn was the perfect color, the texture soft and soothing, the pattern just enough of a mix of lace and solid to make a beautiful spring sweater.  And oh yeah, it’s a “February” sweater, she is a “February” baby… it seemed like destiny to me. 

I left my royal blue sweater at home and started on Mom’s.  In those 6 hours of travel time, four inches appeared.  I was so excited to see such progress in such a short amount of time.  It was a joy to knit with and the feeling was so very soft. 

The start... color doesn't look right in this one
 Progress happened so slowly, with my work schedule being its usual New Year crazy, and it being dark on both the drive in and home from work.  The lace was slowly taking shape, it’s a fairly quick knit, but my time was simply being gobbled up from external forces.  

Slowly progressing
Hubby decided we needed to go check on our property in Sullivan, talk about a golden opportunity more hours to knit.  Finally I resorted to making 4 rows of progress around every household task.  Over that week, it was coming together quickly.  The body was finished and I had moved on to the first sleeve, when everything came screeching to a halt.  I have a cyst in my left hand, that is easily aggravated, and massive typing at work and crazy knitting had really ticked it off!

Pattern and color look great in the one!
Reluctantly, I put it aside for a few more precious days.  Finally on Valentine’s Day I realized I was against a hard deadline, 11 days, and if I was going to mail it, Monday was the final day! Yikes!  Each evening I worked on it diligently, no slacking allowed now.  Son asked us to come to Urbana on Saturday, and I was down to the last sleeve.  It was going to get finished on the drive, I was sure of it!

Wrong!  I will be the first to admit that I can really screw up a project when I am tired, and I was exhausted Saturday, my focus was absolutely zero.  Something told me to leave the thread that had held my sleeve stitches while I worked on the body in place, not sure what it why… but boy was I grateful!  It’s completely not something I would normally do it drives me crazy as a general rule of thumb to see that loose thread in the middle of my stitches.  As I frogged the sleeve for the third time, I was pretty sure it was an omen.  I finally gave up. 

I mean seriously the first four beautiful inches ended up being knit inside out!  That should have been my first clue that I was in trouble. Then I lost track of my pattern on the second go round and the third time I ended up with 6 random stitches that didn’t belong anywhere.  Time to stop…

Before I knew it Sunday was already there, mocking me, reminding me that my own indecision is what had pushed me to this spot, and I still had a beautiful sweater that only had one sweater.  Given that I had spent the better part of six hours just a day before trying to finish it, I was feeling a bit stressed out.  

Pot of coffee - ready, shows on the laptop – paused, and I picked up my needles. I was determined.  I guess the few hours of sleep had helped, because it materialized like magic.  Thank goodness, by four in the afternoon all that remained was finding the perfect button, uh oh…

Hubby being the good sport that he is agreed to go to the fabric store with me to search for the right button.  We tried, round, square, floral, pearl, rhinestone, plastic, metal, large, small, flat, raised, handmade, fabric, stone, pretty much everything they had!  Heck we even considered black ones with faces… Just as we were ready to give up, we’d found ones that were okay, but the wow factor wasn’t there.  They were too young, too old, too tacky, too cheap, too flashy, too… enter whatever you wanted, we were getting very disappointed.  Just as we were walking away, I saw them.  Holding them up; I could see the look in his eyes telling me that they were possibly the perfect look for the sweater.  We tested them, making sure they didn’t give her problems.  They slid in perfectly.  Yep, that is just what the sweater needed. 

The finished sweater
 After blocking and attaching the buttons it is ready to go.  I am so happy with how it turned it.  I cannot wait to see it on her.  And best of all, I had forgotten my phone at home and found I had 11 missed messages from my sisters… looks like we are all going to meet in the middle this weekend to celebrate her special day!  I get to give it to her in person!

Royal blue is back on the needles and in progress
What do you think?  Was it worth it?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Digging through my thoughts...

The sun setting on a beautiful visit with my boy
There is a lot on my mind lately, in case you haven't noticed... and all of it is random and unformed.  I feel very drawn inward to my family and that is clashing with the need to be very dedicated at work.  I have some serious issues with things going on in our world/country and they are tugging at me to find a way to not let them impact my family. And then I have things that are all about me that are demanding my attention, I strongly feel the need to make personal changes yet feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all.  I guess when you look at  it that way, all of it links back to my family and home.  The key parts of my life always circle back to home.

Yesterday was another bittersweet day, I love going to spend the day with my son it is worth every minute of the drive for the few hours of time I get with him.  We got his haircut done, groceries bought, spent some time talking about the future and cooked his schnitzel.  Hugs later the drive home was hard.  I am now down to two more monthly visits, then the future is so uncertain, I fear it is stressing me more than it is stressing him.  He is a great guy and he is going to land on his feet no matter where he goes to school next or if he decides to jump into working, unfortunately I know that the chance of either of those things bringing him closer to home are slim and none and none is on the bus out of town.

This morning finds me working on treats for my family, reflecting and planning my day.  So much to do...

I am a news junky, but I am reaching the point that the insanity in the country any more is forcing me to block out the news and the knowledge that could be gained.  I am afraid there is little knowledge being shared anymore anyhow.  I think all of it is bias and opinions, what happened to just the facts, nothing but the facts.  I want to make my own decisions and chew on the information and decide how I feel about it.  I do not like being told what to believe, it doesn't work for me.  I also guess because of where I live and work I find a great deal of difference between what they are saying and what I am seeing and dealing with on a daily basis.

My frustration level is rapidly growing.  I was always raised to believe that if you worked hard, did what was right,  and cared for your family and neighbors that the world would stay balanced.  I don't believe all of us can be rich nor can we all be poor, most of us fall somewhere in the middle and our choices (free will after all) dictates where you fall on that spectrum.  If you choose to not do anything, then you have made the choice for the kind of life you want, and it is not my responsibility to change that for you.  I am tired.
"What?  You gave us bath's and now you are leaving?"
 Then reading my morning blogs and links I am finding more and more reason to be suspicious of the food we eat and the junk that we feed our pets.  My Gator was doing so poorly a few weeks ago that I was seriously expecting him to be gone by now.  He was lethargic, moaning and barely doing anything.  Surfing the net I find that the treats he loves have been pulled from the market as they are suspected/implicated in poisoning dogs.  Seriously??

Then I read that Beneful is being implicated also, now my boys don't like Beneful so I wasn't too worried about that particular brand, but the link I keep coming back to is all of this is being outsourced to China. Why are we outsourcing food?  Is this country not big enough that we can make our own food?  One hard target search later, I am making their chicken treats and we discovered Pedigree is made in the USA, still.  There is no longer any food or treats in my home for them that are not made either by myself or in the USA.

For now we will stick with both of those, because my Gator is bouncing like a puppy, running and playing, his eyes are clearer and he is just plain perky!  Neeko is doing great too! Their coats are glowing, they have energy and just seem all around happier.  This really makes me question the "fake" food we are feeding animals and people in this country.  Should the Pedigree stop being made in the USA, then I will find another smaller more local company to buy from or I will start making all their food myself.

"Jerky!!" Dad's got their undivided attention and drool marks too!
I am not even ready to talk about how I feel about GMO's, the government and big corporations digging their greedy claws into our food supply for humans... that is a different topic for a different day... maybe once my fury dies down a bit.

Finally, my goals, I question my ability to move them forward.  Is it insecurity, of course it is.  I am the most insecure person I know.  I haven't even started to get my Etsy page done, my work world is consuming me.  And sadly, I know that is not making a bit of difference in my real world.   I feel like I am spinning my wheels, and not my spinning wheel either!  I have to figure out how to tap into the courage to start putting myself out there, to take that huge giant leap out of my comfort zone and go for it.  I need to find the focus and courage to just do it.  I have cousins that are just going for it, and I feel a tinge of envy and longing to reach for my dreams and know it is ok to do it.

Mom's sweater is almost done, after frogging the sleeve 3 times yesterday, I decided I was too exhausted to go on, and I am going to squeeze in some serious time to finish it today.  Her birthday is coming up fast, and it needs to be put in the mail. Then I am going to give myself permission to reach for the brass ring. I am going to have my Etsy page up and running by March 1.

Does anyone else have days they have to simply dig through their thoughts?  Sort out the mucky, muck that is stalling your quest for something better? 

Ironically, after writing most of this I read my horoscope... seems I am right on the mark for what the planets and stars think I should be doing... hmmmm.... guess I am not done reflecting... who knows what I else I can find to ponder over while my fingers are busy knitting!


Friday, February 15, 2013

What bounces around in your head?

I am up pretty late tonight, for a variety of reasons.  The first reason is the jerky that I am trying to get made, it is my "reason", but it isn't what is keeping me awake.  Hubby is curled up with my Gator boy snoozing, this is a good thing as he will drive tomorrow so I can knit, but I am awake.  My mind is bouncing, a million things are running around up there and I can't seem to get them into any sort of order so they will lay down and let me relax.

I am a wife, mom and Gramma, those are the roles that most define me.  This means my family and my home are of utmost importance to me. And I am very sensitive to things that effect those I love, and lately there is a lot effecting those I love.  It kills me that I don't have a magic wand to wave, that I can't issue hugs, kisses and maybe a cookie and all the problems of the world wash away.

My son is wrapping up one stage in his life and getting ready to tackle an even bigger one.  I am so proud of him, he is doing all the stuff that I was too afraid to do and his focus and drive is mind boggling.  His determination is incredible, I know there have got to be times that he'd like to hide away and take a break, but he keeps on going.  I am worried for him, he doesn't need to worry, I've got it covered! I want him to have everything he wants in life, and it is hard to sit back and watch.  I know he's an adult, but each time I think of him, he's an adorable tow headed toddler that needs his mom... seriously?  I might be crazy... This young man is so intelligent and the things he understands are well out of my ability, but when he smiles and his eyes twinkle with joy, I know he and I will always connect on some basic level that IQ doesn't take away.

My daughter is standing on the precipice of her dreams, she's had so many speed bumps and she is finally ready to tackle the world. I am watching her, remembering her first steps, oh how I want to be like her Daddy was back then and follow her with a big fluffy pillow that will keep her from falling hard and getting hurt.  I know I can't, but I would do anything to protect my baby girl, to protect her heart from any more scrapes and to always be there to lift her higher with  my cupped hands that she can stand in. My heart wants that and more, my head knows that her heart might have to break a bit more before her strength is there.  It kills me when others take advantage of that caring woman that will do anything for any stray to ever cross her path, doesn't matter if it is human or beast, and even when they bite her she still cares for them unconditionally.


My sweet little grand daughter is my heart!  She makes me laugh and smile and she has the ability to rip my heart out with her frank and honest comments and observations.  I cannot wait to spend time with her, I have missed her as she is growing a bit more each day.  She is another one that is far older and wiser than her years, having a conversation with her fills my heart.  Seeing her smile, missing so many teeth right now, is precious beyond words.  Yet when I hear a sadness in her voice, or see a tear in her eye, I race to protect her.  I hope she knows that her Gramma will always be there for her and how unconditionally I love her.

Then there is my hubby, when he is stressed or dealing with things that cause him worry, it makes me sleepless.  He has one of the kindest hearts I know and as a result he is often taken advantage of and I don't want anyone messing with that sweet, kind, loving man!  I hate when people take his sweet heart for granted.  This  is a sweet man who loves deeply enough to create individual "coupons" with heartfelt meaning and thoughtfulness and then to give them to me as the most precious of Valentine gifts.  I hate when I see worry in his face, and know there is nothing I can do to take it away.

Maybe it is because I am a wife, mom and grandma that these are the kind of things that keep me up.  Maybe it is something you never end up growing out of, maybe when you love that much you simply always want to protect those hearts that are important to you.  I can only say a prayer and ask God to protect them and keep them safe as they travel life's path.

But I am still a woman and my heart is still full of worry... those are my babies being battered by the ebb and flow of life.  That hubby is the man I love and cherish, the one I have chosen to spend my life with, and I want him to be happy and without stress...

I guess tonight it simply means that I am going to lose a bit more sleep before my stress lets me close my eyes... and I am really okay with that... because to me, family is everything!

TGIF!

It's so wonderful when Friday arrives after a brutally long five days!  Even though I am exhausted, I am seriously looking forward to my busy weekend.  I have jerky drying for my boys both the two and four legged kind.  I have knitting to do, a weekend visit with my son, and I hope to steal my sweet grand baby for a few hours. There is laundry to wash, ironing to do,  I need to make some soaps and the turtle would love his aquarium cleaned.I will spend some time planning my garden and find a few minutes to regroup. It is going to be a beautiful weekend, oh I am not sure what the weather will be, it might be cold or rainy. But in my life, it's going to be warm and sunny.

As soon as I was able to leave work today, as stressful as it was I could feel the clouds of the day lift and disappear.  We stopped by the grocery on our way home and hubby and I found some yummy treats for dinner.  I will start to cook here in a few minutes, for now I am sitting here with my legs stretched out, savoring the end of the week.

How are you spending your weekend? Big plans? Some quality time with family?  Or working on a project that has needed your attention?