Reading, Knitting, Quiet

Since the past weekend was quite busy and, I rarely got off my feet, the plan for the rest of the week is to knit, read, and find some quiet time. However, there is more that needs doing, as in order for the bathroom walls to be painted, the dust must be washed away. There is, also, construction dust all over the house and I will deal with it after the bathroom is completely finished.

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I have some catching up to do on my BOTN Bingo/Read Harder lists. I have decided on several books that should help me attain a total of three Bingos by summer's end. I have the added goal of reaching a blackout by the end of the year. Sadly, books with the plot points of fantasy, parody, or with happy endings, are not my strong suit. I expect to persevere.  I have tried to match up, as often as possible, the Read Header categories with the Bingo squares.

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What little time I've had for knitting as gone into my TTL Mystery Shawl. I'm very pleased with the pattern and my yarn choice, and I am about a half, maybe a little more, of the way through clue four. There is a LOT more knitting to do.  Carole's Picot sock is back on the needles and the toe is proceed towards its finish. I'm very pleased to say, participating in Kat's KAL has kept me focused on the job of finishing two neglected pair of socks. One must keep ones eye on the prize.


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. 


The Old and the New

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Maybe I'll just post a picture every day of my incredible mountain view. The light changes throughout the day, but in the morning it is often a breathtaking play of shadow and light between cloud and sky.

There are times I have made the (somewhat) arrogant statement that I do not have UFOs (which we all know can't be true) and that I rarely have more than two WIPs hanging about. It was Kat's summer KAL that got me thinking about what might be lurking in the corners of my crafting closet and, on closer inspection, I found two lovely knitting bags, each with a pair of socks tucked inside.

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Technically, I'd finished the both pairs of socks pictured, so the UFO/WIP situation may hold true, BUT, shortly after they were finished, I had to admit to myself the toes where not very comfortable. I tucked the socks aside (or, as you can see, ripped out one toe), so as to fix the fit, and then, add the pair to my sock rotation. If you are a believer in "things happen for a reason" (I'm not), you could say this is a very opportune time for two nearly finished pairs to come to light. In any case, I will now have THREE new pair of new socks to greet the wintry chill. This is very good news, indeed!

The skein of yarn you see pictured, has yet to be wound. It is Knitterly Things "Vesper" sock yarn (Carole's favorite), in the colorway Fire and Ice, which must have entered my stash around Christmas 2 years or so ago. At the moment, I seem to be on a stripy sock kick, which is good, as I have numerous choices in stripy yarn languishing in my stash. If I end up knitting this pair it would result in a 4th pair of socks for winter's rotation, but I'll wait and see how my knitting time fares. 

Are you knitting this something fun this summer? Is it blazing hot where you live? 


In My Ear

When reading an audio book, all activities are best done alone, that is, unless the person you're with is enjoying the same book. Smith and I have different taste in books and, therefore, we each have our own iPods. Usually, we only listen to books when we're alone, but it is a known fact that Smith becomes very talkative if I have my earbuds on. It is a little rude (unless you have an agreement of silence) to wear earphones when someone else is in the room. 

The best thing about audio books (or podcasts) is alone time is quality time and/or time can be spent doing duel duty. Who doesn't like to multitask? I have had an Audible account since 2006, June of 2006, which means I've been listening to books for 10 years. I don't know what I'd do without my iPod.

Ten Things To Do While Listening to an Audio Book 

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 1.Take a walk and watch the sunset (or the moon rise).

2. Clean the house. (Vacuuming may be a challenge). 

3. Take the bed apart, do the laundry, put the bed back together. Fold (the rest of) the laundry. This is the time moving slowly can feels right. 

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4. Care for the garden. Plant. Water. Weed. (Sit back, relax and enjoy your accomplishment.) Weed again.

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5. Knit up a storm (but if you need to read the pattern, stop the recording until you can pay full attention). The picture shows most of the accouterments in my knitting bag. (Side note: I love Leone Violet Candies.) 

6.Mindlessly surf the web (but turn off the recording if you're going to read something). 

7. Exercise in the way you like best (although, swimming may be a problem).  Also, I listen while doing my PT exercises.

8. Prepare a meal (alone). Even doing the dishes isn't so bad if you've got a book in your ear.

9. Do nothing (which is OK!). Just listen (it's an awesome experience)!

10. Sit on the patio with a cup of tea, or better yet, a glass of cold white wine, or a cocktail. Listening to an audio book makes everything better. 

Ten Things To Do While Listening to an Audio Book is brought to you by Carole.


Amazingly

Amazingly, it has been 5 years since I knit a pair of socks. Also, amazingly, I've finished a pair this year! The driver for knitting this pair of socks was the high attrition rate of the elderly socks in my sock drawer. The oldest socks in my drawer are around 20 years old. I know! It's stunning to think they're still going! I knit socks constantly from 1997-2011. A pair progress was my constant companion for many years but, this year, they have started to show their age. Anything from a small hole—that can be fixed—to blowing out the toe and/or heel—which is a bigger problem—has happened this winter. If I didn't get on the ball and at least try to knit a pair of socks, I was going to be forced to buy (and WEAR) mass-produced socks!! gasp 

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The pain in my hands was severe, but I had to try. And try I did. There were days I could only knit a couple of rows before I had to rest my hands, but I kept going. A little here, a little there, and progress was made. I sought the help of my doctor and he prescribed prednisone and advised I get an X-ray of my shoulder. The results of that came back that all was well. How could I be in so much pain and if ALL WAS WELL?!

Finally, the prednisone did its job, a very good PT helped me do my job, and together we've found what works to ease, and maybe someday, eliminate the pain. What is it they say? It takes a village? Well, that is very true. In the meantime, I have intrepidly worked on the socks. Usually, I could only work in fits and starts during SnB. Mostly I sat with the socks in my lap, but at other times, I could keep up a pace. The first sock took over 2 months to knit,  but the second sock was knit in one quarter of that time.

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I used the tried and true pattern, Carole's Picot Edge Socks, and Biscotte & Cie Felix Self-Striping yarn in the colorway, Loopy Herman. The next pair of socks is waiting in the wings. I'm hopeful my sock drawer will have one or two more additions this year.


What a Week

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Loving--my friends, who have been amazing in their support because of last Friday's craziness.

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Thinking about--how very, very fortunate we were last Friday when Smith was in a horrendous car crash. A heavy bar (trailer stabilizer) that shouldn't have been on the freeway came crashing through his windshield. Grateful doesn't begin to cover the way we feel. Grateful, amazed and stunned that Smith wasn't injured (or worse). He's having occasional flashbacks, which will pass with time. The car sustained a few thousand dollars damage, but it's fixable. The above picture is of the windshield. The door post is the reason the bar didn't come all the way through. Friends and family--you float my boat. 

Looking forward to (as well as) Dreading--a master bathroom redo. Our world will be in major upheaval for a few weeks, because the bathtub is being removed and the ancient tile replaced. The house is 45 years old and we owe it a little upkeep. Mostly, I'm feeling sticker shock at the cost.

Knitting--when I knit, which hasn't been much this week, I am working on the TTL Mystery. I am only half way through the first clue. Maybe this weekend there will be progress. 

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Dreaming--about the day we can get a dog. Meet Margo's schnauzer, Leo. He let me scratch behind his ears all evening. I know that special spot schnauzers love scritched.  I have puppy/dog fever, but I must wait a little while longer. 

Listening to--Everything from Led Zeppelin to John Coltrane (as well as a book). 

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Drinking--something wonderful and citrusy that Margo concocted when I visited her on Tuesday. She lives in one of our amazing canyons, which is lush with greenery this time of year, plus, it is full of wildflowers (you can see them behind Leo). We had a girlfriends night out, with fish tacos and a lot of conversation. 

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Reading....you can see the next few books in the queue. I just heard from the library that they have one more on hold for me (!)! I am well on my way to a BINGO (or two)! 

Planning....Dad's memorial while he waits in my living room.

Delighted by...my finished socks! Pictures soon. If I show you now I'll have no reason to blog next week.

Watching...The sky and waiting for it to change. Hopefully, the heatwave will break and cooler air will move in. Summer is here.


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.


Relaxing, Being, Doing

Sunday's pop-up showers did very little to dampen our spirits or put a damper on the joy of summer fun. Monday's weather was just as picture perfect as you'd want the first day of summer to be. We used up every minute of our days off as best we could and we're still out there having a great day today!

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1. The first thing I did to kick off my summer was to get a pedicure. My toenails are now a happy summer blue and I enjoy wearing sandals to show off the color. My fingernails are my usual buff only, no polish, thank you. 

2. Smith worked late Saturday night, but I enjoyed a nice evening out with a girlfriend. Girlfriends are the best!

3. There has been a whole lot of reading going on and I am happily ensconced in two fabulous books. I'm listening to Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee, and reading (in good old book form) Chicago by Brian Doyle. I LOVE this book. Doyle wrote one of the best books even, Mink River

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4. Sunday morning I visited my mother's grave, left flowers, and told her I missed her. I've visited her here for 26 years and in a months time both mom and dad will be here.

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5. Sunday evening we visited my niece, Shauni, and had dinner with her family. After dinner she gave us the gift of playing my father's viola. Dad gave it to her a few years ago when she was playing with an orchestra. He had played in community orchestras throughout his life and was so pleased to pass on this lovely legacy to his granddaughter. 

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6. Monday Smith helped Shauni's husband, Jordan, till a patch of ground in their backyard. I stopped by the garden center and bought the plants needed for their first vegetable garden. Now in the ground are tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers, a great start!. Jordan was as pleased as he could be to have a chance to dig in the dirt and create a garden in his own backyard. I predict success will be his. 

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7. Smith and I had the chance to just kick back and relax, sit on the patio, and look up at the incredible blue sky above our heads. I was able to  knit, or read, or chat with the occasional neighbor who stopped by. I sipped ice tea and daydreamed. Usually we have little time for this much chillaxing and we enjoyed every little moment of it. 

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8. I printed my BOTNS Bingo card and found books on my TBR that fit into many of the squares. I may easily get one Bingo, but not sure I can, or want to, go for a black out. I will be asking for suggestions on certain squares as I fill in my card. 

9. I also started AsKatKnits Summer KAL and knit on my sock.  It won't be finished this weekend, as I had hoped, but I am very close and should have a finished pair by the weekend! I also wound the yarn to ready for the TTLMystery Shawl KAL. Wednesday I will begin and hope to get off on a good start. Needles are ready.to.go!

10. Smith and I have still more weekend to enjoy, as we have today off together, too! YAY! We are going to fit in as much work, errands, fun, kick-backing, and joy as we can. Summer is off to a grand start!

You can read more ToT posts over at Carole's blog. How did your first summer weekend go? 


KAL Squared

Thank you so much for your kind wishes and condolences. Grieving has its ups and downs, made all the more apparent because the memorial is a month away. My family is working on Dad's memorial and looking forward to the day we will all be together. However, that isn't the only reason for my blog silence, in fact, I'm not sure I can even pin-point what it is, but I've decided when the motivation strikes, I'll blog, or at least, try to. 

At the moment, I am happy to report I'll have a 4 day weekend. AND, Smith and I will have 3 of the 4 together! We can't remember the last time we had that many days in a row off TOGETHER! Smith has had very few holidays off at all. The luxury of time is something neither of us have on a regular basis and we're looking forward to luxuriating. This weekend we may tackle a few home improvements and/or maybe take a day trip. BUT, doing "nothing" is at the top of our list. There may also be exploration of a new cocktail recipe (or two). I need to stock up on lime!

Part of my plan for tomorrow is to do some organizing, contemplating, deciding, and joining. One thing I know for certain is I'll be joining Kat's summer KAL.  This is a KAL with NO rules(!) and, since I have a few things I'd like to finish up, plus a couple of new things on my "to knit" list, I jumped to join. As an added bonus, Kat's KAL comes with recipes and cocktails! I have been knitting socks (which I may have already told you) and might be able to finish them this weekend. I'll count them as my first finish of the KAL! Win-win! (I typed "wine"-is that a sign?) 

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As soon as Kirsten announced her new Mystery Shawl KAL I knew I had to knit along. Every one of her mystery shawls has been a big win and Germinate, Liz Christy, and Algiers are in regular rotation and are more oft on my shoulders than most of my other shawls. I feel like I can't lose by joining.  Another win-win! The pattern calls for two color of yarn and since I had a few skeins of beautiful gray Marianated  Yarns just sitting around, I thought they should go to work. I think I've decided on the two darker grays, Steady Rain and Build an Ark, because this has been a pretty wet spring. 

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I may be overly ambitious with my declarations as I'm in the midst of shoulder PT. Knitting (and computering) has caused considerable pain in my shoulder and arms, but with the help of my doctor, and now the PT, the issues are being addressed. I've been able to knit (for short periods of time), plus work on the computer without additional pain (a big win, because that's what I do for a living). In addition to KALs I'll be doing my PT homework!

This weekend looks to be a big WIN-WIN all around!  Here's to the kick off of summer!


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).

UnclebobUncle Bob (2012)

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.