It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood….

I still mourn the loss of Mr. Rogers. He was a wonderful man, a gentle soul with the smoothest tone of voice and the sharpest intelligence. He was a minister, an educator, a light shining in the darkness and the world is still impoverished by his absence. When people ask me who the man of my dreams is – I always say “Why Mr. Rogers, of course!” Then I get some odd looks, LOL:) Oh well, in the immortal words of Kathy Mankowsky, “F’em if they can’t take a joke.”
Anyway, it is indeed a beautiful day. There’s a lovely breeze, the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, there’s green in the grass, on the trees the sky is blue and clear. It’s supposed to go up to 83 degrees F today (about 28 degrees C?? Is the formula C = 5/9 (F – 32)??) If I can, I will try to get in a walk. Reason: I’ve walked consistently every day since Thursday and I’d like to see if I can keep it up. Yesterday, I walked again with Nancy in the park. Kristin and Milo were even there. Even got a little sunshine to warm up my usual deathlike pallor, LOL:) Afterwards, there was an amazing concert at the church by a wonderful singing group called the Herb Dimmock Singers. Their performance was simply beautiful to this amateur music lover. They sang a number of modern sacred vocal music selections – my favorite!

John is not a great fan, so I went alone while he stayed home and mowed the lawn. Mowing the lawn is not a fun job, but John has told me in the past that he gets enjoyment out of doing the gardening. When we were younger, I would either hang around and watch or help out. It’s not my thing, but it was something I liked doing because he did. Personally, I have the curse of the black thumb. In other words, the more I stay away from a plant, the better it does. I either over water or put it in the wrong sunlight. Someday, I will do better in that department. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In the meantime….. not so much. And like most couples, he and I have negotiated our musical tastes. If he’s able, he’ll come to hear the choir sing and will of course attend any performances of our kids (and I’m sure later, grandkids). He enjoyed the Army Field Band performance and we both had a blast at the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden in January. But to ask a man who gets precious little sleep during the week to sit through sacred music would be cruel and unusual punishment (provided he remains awake!).

Today, I am going to get through my paperwork for the week, get into the office, and then if I’m a good doobie and get my work done, I will take that walk, and get some knitting in. John had to work last night, so I doubt I’ll get the flute practice in. But maybe tomorrow if I’m lucky/better organized. Good news is, despite the loss of upper teeth, the tone is just fine with the denture. But with that flute, I’d be hard pressed to have a bad tone! Thank you, again kids, and Sonny, for the birthday gift!

I found pictures online of other people’s finished Inishmaan and Inishmore sweaters. They are both wonderful. I’m still trying to decide. The first two are Inishmore and come from Ann B’s (I think) wonderful blog. Of the remaining three Inishmaan pictures, one is from WendyKnits’ blog and the others I just found via a google search. I am not sure whose they are. The blue-green sweater was billed as “Veronique’s Inishaan” and I believe comes from the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides website. The other seems to be from a website originating from Japan?? with the words “greentag” in it. They are all lovely sweaters. Well, there’ll be plenty of time to decide, since it’ll be 2009 before I’m done with what I have to do. I do have a full time job, LOL!
But aren’t they lovely? I’ve got to get back to work. But I can dream, can’t I?

It’s been a week

And I’ve gotten a few things done:) Except the wash, of course. I think I’ll be dead before that’s ever finished! This week has been fairly productive. Monday was a short day in court – and the weather was beautiful but I was inside. Alas, no exercise, but I did get my paperwork done. Tuesday was also a beautiful day. I spent the morning in the office until about 2:00 and then hit the road for a client visit in PA. The clients were absolutely adorable – in a pre-adoptive home (thank G-D!) and doing very well, given their beginnings – and I won’t say any more than that. I later got my hair cut and I don’t think anyone has noticed, LOL:) Doesn’t this look like the face of someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley? And that’s the AFTER shot! Hey, it could be worse and this cut is actually kind of fun to work with. Unlike this one was:) 53 going on 12, LOL…Wednesday was another day of court and visits, but between the two was a brief babysitting/picking up from the bus stop interlude with Madison. It was actually kind of fun. I remember how it was not having any family around to do that for us and it felt good to do it for our kids. Madison was wonderful. We sang Pat Benitar’s “Hit me with your Best Shot” as we drove through Ellicott City and my own “Poopies in yer pants” song (which always gets Grammy in BIG trouble with the parental units, but hey, that’s what Grammies – especially the crrrazy variety – are for!)
Thursday and Friday were Court days.
I finally blocked and gave the knitted tee to that friend for her birthday. (Above is the unblocked version with little color, no thanks to the new camera phone.) I was so worried it wouldn’t fit, but she tried it on and indeed it does! Who knew? Must be getting better with the fitting. On to the next things in the list o’ projects.
Thursday was choir practice and we had a terrific time. Anyone who’s read this blog knows how much I really enjoy singing with that group! Friday after court I went walking in the park with Nancy. Apparently walking helps her blood sugar and it helps contain the, ahem, secretarial spread of my hindquarters, so any port in the storm. It’s funny – it’s getting to be addictive – the rhythm of walking and the moving. Of course, as the weather gets warmer, it’s going to be more of a challenge, but I will keep it up, good Lord willing, etc. I have gone back to watching the carbs – not perfectly, but well. And I feel it. Let’s hope this time I’ll stay with it to make another dent in this all too solid flesh. I figure if I make enough dents, eventually I’ll whittle away to something presentable.
Today was a good day, but the house sure doesn’t look like it! This morning a few of us from the choir sang at Confirmation. We had a terrific time and actually didn’t sound half bad even to my non-professional ears! Hopefully we didn’t make St. Johns look too bad to the other parishes who were having Confirmation with us – or to the Bishop. The Bishop’s sermon was very good. Bishop Raab always seems to really hit the nail on the head. He’s not ultra fancy or esoteric in his preaching and that’s just fine. His sermon today was on the Serenity Prayer by Rheinhold Niebuhr (I think I spelled that correctly). Anyone who’s been in a 12-step group would appreciate it – You know, the one that goes:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
My late mother-in-law had that prayer hanging on one of the walls downstairs. I remember reading it for the first time when I was in John’s house. Of course, then I didn’t think of it as John’s house, but Holli and Lori’s (his sisters with whom I played, hung out, etc.). That prayer had an impact on me then and still does to this day. My problem of course is in that bit about the wisdom to know the difference. That’s when we’re supposed to wait for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and of course, your undersigned is a bit impatient for that – with fairly weird results!
We were having a good time at this service, enjoying ourselves, singing, and happy to see young people and some joining the church as adults. That’s why I was surprised when I found myself almost actually start crying at the sight of this one African American extended family surrounding this young teenager. There had to be about 15 to 20 family members with hands outstretched, gathered around this kneeling young fellow. I had to hold back the tears as I thought of so many of my clients who have no one, some literally, others virtually. How different their lives would be with a support system like that! What would our society be like if we truly believed in that adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”?? In the words of that Hindenburg disaster reporter, “Ah the humanity!”
And with our family, the kids ARE the village, LOL!
This afternoon, I got in a quick walk and then headed home to babysit the grandangels – they almost had to wake John up because I was about 5 minutes late getting back. Thankfully, he went back to sleep. When I walked in the door, Madison was at the computer, doing her thing online at some Disney type website and said, “Hi Grammy! Guess what? If yer happy and you know it take a bath on the roof!” To which I replied, why that’s Crrrrazy! That’s INSANE, That’s TOTALLY NUTS!!! Everyone would see my hiney(sorry). She went into paroxysms of laughter. Ruby went running up to me for a big hug and kiss!
I love being a grandma. It’s a little scary being known as the “crrrazy” one, though. (What else is new?) I AM encouraging them to say the “silly” one instead. You never know when DSS is looking!
Tonight I’m going to finish up the prayer shawl thingie. That will make two of the four point 8 gazillion projects pending, but hey, it’s a drop in the bucket more than I had yesterday!
Tomorrow is a musical day – the kids are probably not doing dinner with us – or not all of them anyway. I have the usual choir/church thing going on and then in the afternoon there’s a concert being given by a choral group. Since I am a fan of choral music – especially good stuff, which this group will be singing (Herb Dimmock Singers – they are very good!), I intend to go.
Then I’ve got paperwork and getting ready for next week.
Here’s a picture of the prayer shawl just about done. Because it’s done in Lion’s Homespun, which really doesn’t lend itself well to fringe, I decided to simply crochet a border for it. Hopefully it’s not too frilly for a man in case that’s who gets it.

Well, I wasn’t at the service, but I was in Virginia!

A few months ago, our son, Danny’s, in-laws, Lisa and John, invited us to go with them to Virginia – Loudon County to be exact – to visit a vineyard where they had found some wonderful wine – and they told us they couldn’t find any better wine elsewhere in our area. So…not one to pass up an opportunity to go through Western Maryland and, more importantly, to drink good red wine, I agreed with alacrity. John (the one I’m married to, not the in-law) also agreed for much the same reasons, LOL. Today was the day!
We had a blast. And you couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun was shining. It was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit outside. How bad could it be? The wine was amazingly good. We did what was called a “vertical tasting” of the same type of wine (from the Nebbiola grape) but from different times, ranging from the newer to the more aged. We enjoyed ourselves and bought a few bottles to take home. John (the in-law) drove the entire way and watched his alcohol intake. But seriously, I don’t think any of us got intoxicated. It was enough to truly enjoy, but not so much that you didn’t have the brains to appreciate it.
We got back to Ellicott City and decided to go out to dinner. We went to Outback Steakhouse. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. We had a nice time.
The only regret I have tonight is that St. John’s had a service for the fallen students at Virginia Tech. I wanted to be there to lend support and sing with the choir, but we had already arranged this and I could not change plans. But I was with them in spirit.
Funny thing, “in-law” John , Lisa, and “out-law” John are all somewhat conservative Republican types. “In-law” John is an ex Marine and ex Army guy. Lisa is a little more liberal than John. “Out-law” John is a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. But we all managed to have a good time and to agree to disagree on some things. In other words, we are Americans who love our country and yet know we have the right to a different opinion. Wish there were more of that in our politics!
Yesterday, I attended a conference about ADR (alternative dispute resolution) in CINA (Child in Need of Assistance) cases. It was actually quite good. I got to catch up with colleagues from other parts of the state and hear about some new types of extra-judicial team decisionmaking. We had two moments of silence for the Virginia Tech victims, who at this time are never far from the minds of those of us in this part of the country. One thing I took away from this (ironically in the wake of those awful shootings) – and it was about mediation. Our keynote speaker, a woman by the name of Mary Margaret Golten of a Colorado ADR firm called CDR Associates, said that in mediation, “Our job is help each side be their best selves.”
I thought that was an excellent thought and a worthwhile goal for all in mediation. And lest those of you who have suffered abuse, in particular I am addressing this to dear Colin and Chris, (you know who you are:)) I do NOT negotiate away the safety of my clients!
I have finally finished what ultimately became a silk/cotton blend summer T for a friend. I have a lot of mixed emotions about the thing. It has a lot of errors. Although the color should be perfect, I don’t know if she’ll like it. I have also started back again on Madison’s sweater and the prayer shawl. It’s nice to sit and do a little knitting after a long day:). We are now watching the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on C-Span. Rich Little was very funny. It’s now over and so, I’m going to knit on:)
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Picking up where I left off

Such is my life – trial puts everything on hold (0r almost everything) then it’s catch up:). Thankfully today, the TPR trial I was supposed to participate in has been postponed indefinitely. So I will have time to settle in on this cloudy, windy, dreary (although I like this kind of weather) day and get some paperwork done. Right now John is (bless his heart) getting the oil changed on “my” car (well, the one I use) and running errands. After this entry, I’m getting some work done and filing our income tax returns (YUCK). We don’t own a home and always end up owing what we don’t have, so they come get it later. I figure it’ll all get paid off when I die, LOL. Funny thing is, this will sound strange, but as far as I’m concerned, whatever Uncle Sam wants, Uncle Sam can have. In fact, I wish he’d take more to help my fellow citizens – because the debt of gratitude I have for living in this wonderful country is worth more than anything I owe monetarily. No, I’m not a big fan of the guy in the White House right now and I think our foreign policy absolutely reeks to high heaven and I think gays should be able to get married and that being a feminist is not a dirty word. But I can talk about that. Freely. And I can still fight to recover the rights the current regime has tried to take away. And I can choose to worship according to my conscience – or not, as the case may be. For these things, I am eternally grateful. So call me a sap, a nerd or whatever – and get over it.

Lest anyone from outside the USA read this, I also appreciate greatly the cultural, legal and other traditions of countries other than mine and love to learn about them. In fact, unless you are a Native American, chances are if you live in the USA, your origins are from abroad. Another cool thing – and difficult thing – about home.

OK enough chauvinism for one day. Today is about getting re-organized. So, on the knitting front, I still have the following projects outstanding. (Numbers indicate the order I think I should complete them.)

Started and in line for lift-off, LOL:
1. Lace summer top (birthday gift for a friend already almost 2 weeks late!!) almost done

2. Prayer shawl – almost done:) have finished 2 of 3 skeins and will probably use the 3rd to do about 20 more rows, then crochet an edge rather than cut a fringe, since the Lion Homespun is thought to unravel when cut.

3. Madison’s hot red cable sweater- about 1/3 done (may need to hold off on this until the summer to be sure I’m getting the right size)
4. Baby blankie fashioned from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Nina shawl (baby will be driving when she gets it, LOL) 1/4 done
5. Heartbeat summer shirt – very interesting pattern from http://justonemorerow.com
6. FLAK sweater ( it will get done, it will get done, even if I’m on sleeve island, have fallen and can’t get up) about 1/3 done
7. Fair Isle Dale of Norway Sweater (am having a great deal of fun with this) About 1/10 done

8. Log-cabin afghan from Mason-Dixon Knitting will be ongoing as I figure out how to do this with larger and larger needles (60-inch circs size 9??) who knows how far it’ll go?

9. Fair Isle cotton vest (using a Garnstudio pattern and designing garment myself – very amorphous right now)

10. Assortment of scarves (you know, that knitting you do when you have time to kill and can’t do anything you actually have to think about)

11. And something I won’t even try to describe – but it’s in linen and cotton and good Lord knows what all! Again, for a friend.


Not even started but in the planning stages:
1. Aran for John (not even started, have acrylics in stash to do or will have to wait for wool)
2. Erin from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Knitting (not even started, but have a good bit in stash toward it)
3. Inishmaan from Alice Starmore’s book borrowed from library (have Kelly green acrylic yarn for it, but no where near begun).

OK, it was fun thinking about these, but (sigh) I have to get to work…..

Good News and BAD NEWS

Well the good news is, my little friends are breathing a little easier today. Rennie’s arm/bionic elbow is/are not broken, no surgery to drive the diabetes ’round the bend, thanks be to God.

The bad news is all over the radio and TV and internet. 32 young human beings dead at the hands of a gun-toting maniac (who of course turned the gun on himself, bringing the death toll to 33 so far), some 8 more in critical condition, and a bunch more injured less critically – and in a place of higher education where one should feel, if nothing else, safe. In my neck of the woods, Virginia Tech is a college choice for many young people. While I’m thankful that none are personally known to me, it is cold comfort for the unfortunates and their families! So, my prayers go out to all of them.

The nor’easter has blown into town and the wind is unbelievable. It’s hard to believe it’s almost May! I know the wind is bad when I have to fight to get my, ahem, tush, across the street while dragging a trial briefcase behind me!

Speaking of trial, the TPR is done, but we have proposed findings of fact and final arguments to complete in the next 30 days. I’m going to start on them tomorrow after a visit to the office and a catch-up on other work I’ve neglected. Will also try to get a walk in and back on the diet! In the next three months, I plan on marching in two local parades, playing the snare drum, and do NOT expect to be visiting the ER, LOL. Last year, Confirmation (and requisite choir) prevented marching in the Memorial Day parade and my hospitalization in June with my durn leg prevented the July 4th march. But this year, I plan on being dressed for BEAR, ugly chubby discolored ankles and thunder thighs notwithstanding.

I put together a bunch of yarns from my stash for a somewhat modified “Erin” from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Knits. I’ll get that one started sometime at the end of the year, but it’s fun to dream. I have an Aran I want to do for John (see previous entries), and with all the other projects I have pending, this one will be a while in the making – but it’s nice knowing it’s in the background ready to be knit. As you can see, I have made the colors on this one a little cooler than the original. Plus, I think I’ll be needing a couple of dark and light greens still. And that isn’t happening any time soon, LOL. So I’ll just keep on dreaming:)
Well, my daughter is wanting this computer, so I’m taking off for the rest of the evening!
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Love Means Having One More Person to Worry About…

And it means ALWAYS having to say you’re sorry, Love Story notwithstanding (ask my husband, LOL!). I’m going to quickly update here because it’s Sunday and I have fambly stuff to do. But I need to get this off my chest. As anyone knows who has read this blog, a very big part of my life in the last three and a half years has been my church. When I started attending St. John’s in 2003 and joined the church in May of 2004, I never anticipated the enormity of the impact this faith community would have on me physically, spiritually and emotionally. Most of the people I “hung out” with were at first those in the choir. Our choir is a terrific group. We have fun together and really enjoy each other’s company. We do things outside of choir for fun. We share good times and loss. In short, choir is like a “mini me” for the church, LOL. Nancy, our music director/organist/choirmaster is wonderful. Not only an excellent musician, but a good friend. She and her husband, Rennie, are a close couple. He, a retired scientist, politically brilliant and involves himself in genealogical research and agricultural pursuits; and she a masterful musician with the energy level of a toddler, make a great pair. There are others in the choir I could also tell you about. Moving from section to section: In the altos, there’s Mary S., a widow, retired librarian, who keeps the music organized and has the sweetest disposition of anyone I know (she also likes my husband, so how could I dislike her?); Susan F., who teaches ESOL students, is married to Russ and has 2 boys and who is also in EfM with me, plays clarinet in a ragtime band in her “spare” time; Lorna K., married to bass Dwight, a high school social studies teacher, has the world’s best shoe collection, a beautiful voice and who, when I was out of the hospital last summer, offered to walk with me to get my legs working again, Sally L., recently divorced, but surviving and with the sickest craziest sense of humor and a voice to die for; sweet lovely Frances K., an engineer with MS who is desperately trying to have a baby and is losing hope as time goes by, yet is so kind to everyone around her – and she has perfect pitch:); Mimi B, married to fellow tenor and EfM’r Charlie, is a computer specialist and choir treasurer; Virginia W., a retired teacher with a biting wit who cares for her ailing relatives without complaint; Ann M., married to bass Bob, our parish nurse and who always gets me in trouble when we sit together making dirty jokes:); Peggy B, married to bass David, another retired teacher who is enjoying her new grandbabies; Molly K., who is not with us now as she completes her PhD.
Then the sopranos: Bonny D., a music teacher taking time to be sure her daughter turns out right (and who has my undying respect for that!); Diane L., a lady with the sweetest of voices; who is trying to renegotiate her life after separating from her husband; Donna H., married to bass Tom, another voice like an angel, is a librarian for a world-famous medical school – can appear stern at times on the outside, but is in reality a wild woman; Jane S., yet another retired teacher who gives her time as a CASA for a young child (gotta love that!); Jan S., who sings with us occasionally when she is not running her own show at the chapel of a nearby retirement community; Jean B. who has taken time away while her children are still young; Linda K-M., married to bass Bill M., whose kids went to school with mine; and who is just plain cool; Nancy M., secretary at a local Elementary School, who always knows the appropriate thing to say and also has a lovely voice; Rachel E., who just had her first baby and is on a break:); Stephanie C., whose adorable, whimsical daughter, Caroline is our choir mascot;
Tenors: Suzy D., a divorced mom who has had to overcome the loss of both her parents and a disability but maintains a wacky sense of humor; Barb M., a social worker who is working on an advanced degree, widowed and still grieving her loss; Alison C., a total hoot who defines the term “wild woman,” and who hides her MS sufferings well; Drew C., an MD researcher with the strongest voice in the choir and the gentlest disposition; Charlie B., (married to Mimi) who lives his life with integrity; Barry E., who should really be an alto at times, has a voice like an angel and the craziest sense of humor and does the NY Times crossword puzzle like tic-tac-toe; Mike M., another rabid Democrat who also plays bells; and me;
Basses: Bill M., married to Linda and inherited her 4 children, a musician who works as hard as anyone I know; Harry H., a retired priest, our prayer warrior, conscience and voice of reason; Bob M., married to Ann, music committee director and retired systems VP for McCormick and who loves wine about as much as I do;); Chris T., whose blog can be found here, who amazes me by his sheer ability to survive what he has survived with intelligence, grace, imagination (and Doug:)) and who also plays the bells; David B., married to Peggy B., so quiet but never far from his wife and family; Dwight K., married to Lorna, and also an educator, who very kindly sang tenor with me one Sunday when I was the only tenor who showed up on my first time and I thought I was going to be toast; Tom H., married to Donna, himself an organist at another church and who, together with Donna stayed with Nancy the entire night her Rennie was in an accident and almost died; Tom C., who with his wife, Ann, shared Thanksgiving at our home 2 years ago and despite this, still talks with me! and who also hooked me up with a marching band and, though retired in his 70s, still plays ice hockey like a pro!
If I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m sorry.
I don’t think there’s one uneducated or ignorant person in the bunch (well, at times I can be a moron, but that doesn’t count). We all appreciate good music and at the same time share our faith. I’ve come to care about these folks a great deal. Most of us are over 50 at least; yet when we get together, we always have fun and never seem old.
Of course, the problem with caring about people is you run the risk of loss. As one of our priests said in her Easter Vigil sermon, great joy often is accompanied by fear. Think about when you brought your first (or last for that matter) baby home from the hospital and realized all the awful things that could happen.
Well, today there were two kinds of loss: one the usual stuff that happens in parish life; the other a bit more troubling. As to the first, one of our priests, Doris J., has been called to be a rector in a church in a neighboring county. I know she’ll do well there, but she’ll be missed here. There was a terrific outpouring from everyone, which was wonderful and very emotional. I will miss Doris. She is a Southerner with a well balanced mixture of faith, humor and common sense and I know the church getting her will be blessed.
The second was that Rennie fell and will need surgery. Not in and of itself a big deal, but with his diabetes, it’s always scary. Nancy has had to deal with the capricious nature of this disease for forty plus years, but the reality of it is overwhelming for those of us who don’t really know what it’s like. I remember the dark feeling when John couldn’t walk without severe pain for weeks, but cannot imagine what it’s like to live with someone who at any time could go into a coma just because of a miscalculation on an insulin pump! I worry about my “little friends” (I think of them that way because, although mentally larger than life, they are both so petite, and whenever I’m around them I feel like Clifford, the Big Red Dog, LOL). So, I got Rennie a card – a funny one (can’t stand those schmaltzy things!) and will hope for the best.
When I got home from services this afternoon. John commented that the place must have been virtually empty (after all, this was the weekend after Easter). I told him the place was packed because we were all wishing Doris a Bon Voyage, Happy Trails, etc. John commented that St. John’s seems to be more about the people that what he was used to as a boy raised Catholic. After thinking about it a while, I guess he’s right. Perhaps not making it about the people is a good way to protect yourself from pain, but I think it also “protects” you from joy. As long as we recognize people for people and God for God, I think we’ll be OK:)
God bless Doris, God bless Rennie and Nancy, God bless my family and yours, and God bless you and me:)
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Some new items

I finally got the yarn together and started on this – one of Dale of Norway’s patterns. Of course, it will be a weeeee bit larger and I’m a lot less blonde than this model, LOL:)

Here’s my beginning pic. Am still working on that blankie for my great niece (she’ll be 12 by the time I’m done at this rate!). But I’ll still have so much fun making it! My theory about interesting knitting like this is the time goes by so much more enjoyably. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


I love Saturdays – after I get my work done, I get to knit:) I’m finishing up a lace thingie and once that’s done I’m on to this and the blankie:)
More to come…. eventually!