Blow By Blow

Wednesday, July 13th - The Cottonwood Presbyterian, the church that allows SOUL Community Garden to use their land, had a social with all the summer foods you'd expect and a band to play oldies so the crowd could dance the evening away.

Friday, July 15th - Smith and I had a lovely evening of sushi shared with friends, Smith worked most of the weekend and Friday was his only night off. There was a lot of eating, drinking, and being merry, as befitted a Friday night after a week of work. (Not that the weekends aren't spent working, but that's a different story.)

Saturday July 16th- Lunch with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. Incredibly, I had sushi yet again and it was even more delicious (if that's possible) than the night before.  A few hours later I had dinner with another friend, but begged her to choose anything other than sushi. We took a trip to India and had aromatic, spicy, and flavorful tikka masala and coconut korma (among other things). I ate my way through the weekend and broke the bank in the process. All the food was worth every penny. Time with friends is priceless.

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Between lunch and dinner I made a quick stop at a family reunion just in time to play a few rounds of Bingo. Last year I won a couple of times, but this year I had no luck, just a great time with my sister and few members of our mother's family. Time with family is priceless, too.

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Sunday July 17th- Sunday is traditionally SnB, knitting with friends. Sometimes it's just Cheryl and I, but usually there is a group of 4 or 5, always fun. The rest of my afternoon was spent weeding and water in the garden. The hour and half I spent there it was 100 degrees (10% humidity) and I became very overheated. The watering had to be done, as plants also suffer when it's that hot. All evening I sat in front of a fan trying to cool off whilst sipping cold white wine.

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Tuesday night Smith was free!! And, we decided to spend the evening with Larry and Cheryl at one of SLCs fabulous free summer concerts. City Jazz Big Band was in fine form playing swing, jitterbug, the waltz, cha-cha, and so much more. There were many practiced dancers showing off their skills and I was even asked to dance, although I am a terrible dancer. (Smith is resolute in his desire to NOT dance.)

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When I realized the last time I'd talked to you was July 7th I was sad (and embarrassed). Life is busy, s much more happening than I've shared with you here, but nothing earth shattering, just hectic and energy sapping (physic energy sapping). Summer is slipping away, although we are in an epic heatwave, I have watched as the light changes, disappearing in the morning and the evening.

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I have been reading when I can, but the illusive bingo has not been caught. I am stuck in two densely worded books (books worth the time and effort), and looking forward to moving on to something shorter, maybe lighter, and quicker. I desire a bingo or three! The two books taking my time are The Hour of Land (Time Travel) and Homegoing (Set in Africa). Yes, I am stretching the meaning of "Time Travel", but the evolution of our National Parks fits the bill, imo.

Somewhere along the way I made a miscalculation of on my TTL Mystery. Not only did I mistakenly tell several people I was on Clue 4--I have spent a fair amount of time frogging clue 3 and I'm still not through it! I made mess of row 14, which meant some fudging had to be done over rows 16 & 18. I wouldn't bet my life on it, but it looks like I am finally on track and may make it to Clue 4 this weekend. The shawl may even be finished by the end of summer. I have hope!

Monday is Utah's Bigass Holiday! Really big! The date should actually be the 24th of July (Pioneer Day / Days of '47, etc (or Pie and Beer Day, as those of us in the "counter-culture" like to say), but because Sunday is sacred the celebration will be on Monday. I'm very happy to have a day off, no matter the reason.


Celebrations

Time away from the blog stretched on longer than I'd intended. I feel I have many good excuses, but excuses they are. If I divide my life into sections of work, home, and family, there isn't one section that isn't in some sort of upheaval. This weekend afford time for peace, time for calm, time of love, and time to regroup. 

This weekend my family came together, from places all across the country, to celebrate Dad's life.  He taught his children to love nature, love music, to be strong, independent, and generous. All 7 of Dad's children were here along with many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Three of Dad's 4 living siblings were here (which wasn't easy) and many of their children also came. It was wonderful to see cousins I hadn't seen in quite some time. 

This weekend was mostly about Dad, but there were other things going on, too. 

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1. This weekend I listened to my family make beautiful music together. My sisters, nieces, and nephew played two of Dad's favorite hymns at his memorial service. My sister plays the harp, another sister the piano. My nieces and nephew play string instruments, and one of my nieces sings like a songbird. 

2. I listened to my sister and my nephew eulogize my father's capacity for love and acceptance. 

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3. I heard a member of the Armed Services Honor Corp play taps for my father. (I sobbed through the whole thing.)

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4. I watched the Honor Corp gave a gun salute in honor of my father's service during WWII. 

5. As the oldest child, I received the flag from a member of the Corp. I was verklempt as thank them for the flag and for their service to our country.

6.  The weekend wasn't just all about family, it was about friends, too. Sunday I helped a friend move and along with all the work there was love and laughter, too. 

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7. I admired the work of the tile guy who had set in my crazy choice of tiles for the new shower. May I just say how happy I am it looks even better than I envisioned. The contractor, and the tile guy, who were both a little skeptical, admitted it was great. There is still more work to do to finish the job. 

8.I organized and cataloged my inks, cleaned and filled a few of my pens, and wrote postcards, notes cards, and letters. 

9. I fit in a little knitting (working hard on my TTL Mystery shawl) and reading (working towards a Bingo). 

10. To finish off the weekend, Smith and I had dinner out with our neighbors, then came home to watch fireworks from our balcony--the city park to our left and the country club to our right. 

It was a fabulous weekend all around. 

Today Smith and I continue the long weekend by enjoying a day off together. We may head to our favorite spot, but we might decide to try someplace new. I'll let you know later.

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Thank you for the love, condolences, and support you have given me over the last month since my father died. I am very happy he is now at rest. I miss him and I know he would have loved the coming together of his family and the celebration that honored him. 


Officially Summer

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There was a reason we took an extra day off for this first weekend of summer. Memorial Day Monday is notoriously crowded no matter where you go, but on Tuesday, everyone goes back to work and peace reigns.  Our Favorite Breakfast Spot is very crowded on weekends, but during the week there is no wait and the kitchen can prepare a meal to my specifications. It felt so good to once again be sitting on the deck in the clean mountain air.

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The day after a holiday is the perfect time to visit Silver Lake because everyone else was there for the Holiday and we had the trail mostly to ourselves. The aspens have not yet leafed at this elevation and the meadow was filled with dried grasses. Since snow totals were higher than they've been the past few years, there is a good amount snow yet to melt. Silver Lake sits in a glacial bowl and is fed only by snow runoff. This year the lake is fill nearly up to the boardwalk.

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On the backside of the lake where the walkway wends through the forest, we had to hike over piles of snow and jump over streams of running water. Parts of the lake were still iced over. The sounds of birds filled the air, a sure sign of mating season, but we did not hear the usual scolding of squirrels or the quacking of ducks. We also did not see moose (as we have many times in the past) but we did hear a frog, Our first ever!

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Part of our afternoon was spent in the garden, but I returned home to get out of the sun and relax a little. I did a little knitting and reading before starting preparations for a nice dinner together. While working around the house I listened to The Queen of the Night, a book that has everything! Intrigue, sex, prisons, murder, mystery, music, PLUS, beautiful descriptions of gowns and costumes* (after all it is historical fiction of an opera singer's life during Napoleon the IIIs reign). I rarely read books of this genre, but I'm trying to stretch my reading muscle. I decided on the audio format because the book is quite long (over 600 pages) and when listening I can use my hands to get things done. Best of all, this book fits on both my Read Harder list (historical fiction set before 1900), as well as fills a Bingo square (set in a place you'd like to visit). Win-win! 

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Yarn is wound, directions printed, and needles at the ready, but I have yet to begin my TTL Mystery Shawl. Tonight will be quiet, which means I'll be able to listen to my book and work through the first clue. I hope to finish the sock this weekend as well!

Enjoy your weekend, my friends. 

*For more information about the costumes and the book, read this Vogue interview with the author, Alexander Chee.


Remembering

I've found it is very easy to walk away from the blog when things start to tilt. There were numerous reasons my voice fled, but two things came along that knocked me off my feet.

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My father passed away on April 29th--not necessarily unexpectedly, but rather suddenly. He was 88 and worked to stay active until the last. He had two buddies, and the three of them liked to drive around and look for new places to explore. For many years they were able to hike the trails of Arizona, but the last couple of years they've explored the back roads in a truck.

The week or so before he'd told me about a day trip they'd taken to a mountain they liked to explore. When they started back down they ended up on the opposite side they'd intended and got a little lost. He laughed as he told me they had to follow the railroad tracks and find a place to cross before they could get back on the right road. He had a blast and said the three of them (one friend older than he) had made a list of places they still needed to see. He certainly loved the landscape, an appreciation he passed on to me. Putting together his memorial service is my next hurdle.

FamilypictureThe last time we were all together (2009).

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A week later we got a call from Smith's cousin letting us know dear Uncle Bob was in hospice. Two days later he passed, which only added to our grief. Grief is heavy. It weights down the heart and changes ones view of the world, at least for awhile. Maybe forever.


So Many Years

Over the years I've taken many knitting classes, several from Nancy Bush, who is our resident guru of all things folk, especially all things Estonian. Nancy taught me to knit socks (cr. 1995), lace, colorwork, and anything folk oriented. She brought in other designers, such as Elizabeth Zimmerman (I missed that class) and Sally Melville. Wooly West was a fabulous shop and we Salt Lake knitters were very fortunate as Nancy brought the world of knitting to our feet. 

This weekend our local Knitter's Guild sponsored classes from the inimitable Nancy Bush and I was fortunate enough to take the Estonian Lace Sampler and a Roositud class. I took the same classes many years ago (maybe 15ish years), but enjoyed them just as much this time around, maybe more. 

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The classes were a birthday present to myself, as today is (are you ready for this,  my 66th birthday. Also, over a dozen years ago I started this blog, so this day holds a double celebration. My life changed the day I hit publish for the first time (2550 posts and 72,000 comments later) and I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to have so many dear friend, near and far, seen and imaginary, as I do today. You have all made my life better, richer, broader, and more dear. Thank you, friends. 


Generosity

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Our Christmas of 2015 was filled with all that's good. We spent with friends who are generous, talented, and who throw great party. Our dear friends Monica and Steve had a crowd over for a Christmas Day feast. Monica not only cooked dinner for a large group, but she also made cookies and treats for everyone to take home (YES, me included!). She is a friend who goes above and beyond. Sadly, I left my camera at home, so you only get a small representation of the treats she made.

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Just as everyone dreams, snow fell Christmas Day covering the ground giving us a picturesque (if not treacherous) day. That night, just as we were leaving to head home, we saw the full moon. It was lovely night cap to our wonderful day.  The day after Christmas, Boxing Day apparently, was picture perfect, with the blue sky making the cold nearly bearable. Smith had the day off which meant we could meet friends for lunch. This time of year is all about sharing time with friends and family and, with our family so far away we feel grateful for our friends. 

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Our fun didn't stop there, as we were invited to have dinner at now-blogfree-Susan's. Cheryl and Larry were there and, once again, we had a really great time. Susan talked us into doing a Yankee Swap, but Cheryl and I were unsure. Holy cow, we had way more fun than expected, with Cheryl bringing the most sought after gift, a unicorn head!  Smith opened it first but Susan's DH thought it too good to pass up and he took possession. (Maybe you had to be there.)  Life is tough when you're a Mets fan, just sayin'.

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A week or so ago our power was out for a few hours and I mentioned how I'd spent the evening wrapped in fleece reading by flashlight. Susan was incredulous that I hadn't wrap up in the warmth of something wooly. She generously gave me her latest project, a huge and beautiful Nuvem. I feel so fortunate to have a warm, cozy, BIG blanket of a wrap whenever the cold starts to creep into my bones.

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I have been knitting! And, to do my own bit of paying it forward, I started a pair of gift mitts using Gale Zucker's new pattern Trip Mitts. They're quick knitting and have a fun, rustic, and very charming look. Did I mention how much fun I'm having knitting them?  They're just what you need when a little instant gratification is in order. I'm ending my year by knitting this pair and starting 2016 with another gift pair (just to even things out).

How are you beginning your knitting year? Something fun, something adventurous, something for yourself?

Have a very Happy New Year, friends!

 


Currently

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Listening to....We went to a concert Saturday night (Jeff Hamilton Trio) and we have been listening to the CD we bought while there. FANTASTIC!

Thinking about... The fun weekend we had with not one, but TWO date nights. We saw Spectre, the newest Bond, which was too long, but kind of fun. 

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Dreading... The inversion, commonly known as the "dreaded inversion". It's here. I'm just dreading it will stick around.

Planning... To turn blue again.

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Celebrating... Chanukahmas (all month long) We love to celebrate the light!

Drinking...Water, wine, whiskey and tea

Itching to...Finish my AC bag (maybe soon!)

Needing to... Shop for Christmas

Organizing... I should be organizing my time, but it seems to be slipping through my fingers. 

 How are things in your world? 

 


Day 20: A Smaller World

One of the reasons I started an account at Postcrossing was to bring the world to my door. The idea of getting mail from around the world was very enticing. It's unlikely I'll ever travel outside the USA and it's even more unlikely I'll travel the around the world, but a postcard in my mail box from Germany, Ukraine, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, France, China, or Brazil, makes the world feel a smaller place. I have postcards from all across the world, over 160, so far.

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The postcards can be anything the sender likes, but my listed preference are of landscape, costumes, crafts, birds, the sky, and something a little different, but used in many cultures, the umbrella. 

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I now have a little collection of umbrella postcards and another of birds. Many Postcrossers send pictures of their landscape, native costumes or crafts. Some send a postcard they find funny or poignant. Everyone writes a little something on the card--sometimes a lovely note, sometimes a simple greeting. Any postcard is a welcome sight in  my mailbox. 

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When my postcard arrives at its distant destination my address is given to another Postcrosser somewhere else in the world. I never get a postcard back from the person who sent it, unless we agree upon an exchange or become pen pals. The point of Postcrossing is to connect the world on a small scale and with a postcard you start a chain reaction of kindness and connection, final destination unknown.