Where to even begin. Boring navel-gazing nerd alert!

I am in the midst of changing what has become a bad habit.  It is not a gut-wrenching addiction yet, but it could easily become one. Addictions run in my family.  Rather, they gallop. My former stepmonster had a wicked case of alcoholism. The adults in my family rarely skimped on the hooch. i have to watch what we eat because there is a tendency to run rampant through whatever goodies sit in front of me. I am grateful that bariatric surgery has helped enormously with that issue.  Even yarn and knitting patterns have become somewhat of an addiction to me, albeit fairly benign ones. 

 

Though the weight loss surgery has helped in a number of areas, I have found of late that I am much more affected by alcohol – my drink of choice being red wine and not much else – than I ever was in the past. Gastric bypass did not leave me with the “juices” and enzymes in the stomach I used to have. As a result, alcohol goes right to the bloodstream undiluted.  It packs quite a whallop. It puts me to sleep.  Then I sober up almost instantaneously, wondering why the heck I did that. Again.

 

The problem with the above is that it’s not good to get inebriated on a regular basis.  It’s not good for the brain, the liver or the soul – to say nothing of those important relationships in my life. It snuck up on me almost insidiously, wine being the “treat” at the end of a long workday – something that made even the most mundane meal very tasty. It got easier and easier to drink too much, since I rarely drank away from home and I never drank and drove or watched children or anything like that.  I do have my standards. At least at this point I do.  

 

However….

I came to the decision that it was taking up far too much of my precious time – and money. I also figured that this is the time to stop – not when I am in crisis.  I told a friend.  The friend’s reaction was predictable, because this friend does not lie to me or say anything just to spare my feelings.  It was basically along the lines of “you have your reason for doing things and you have to puzzle this one out for yourself.” Wise words, but then I wasn’t surprised. I told my husband.  He (bless his heart) offered to help.  And he has – in the midst of dealing with his own physical recovery, pain and depression over the amount of time this is taking him.

 

Over the weekend, I mulled this predicament as I went from client visit to client visit – and I did a LOT of client visits to catch up on the two weeks I was out. It occurred to me that there are aspects to my personality that one could call “addictive.”  I’m not so sure that’s always a bad thing. For example, when I find something that stirs my passion, I go for it, wholeheartedly.  When I make a friend, they are important to me and they remain so.  I don’t give up on people easily (despite what some of my colleagues may say – that’s different!) Those aspects to me can be annoying to others, certainly, but to them I say, “tough – that’s who I am.” A friend of mine has told me that there are people I care about so much that I am blind to their faults. That actually is NOT true.  I am not blind so much as take those things as part and parcel of the human being I view as a friend.

 

And of course, there’s knitting and crocheting and weaving and…. MUSIC:)

 

But knowing that this has been and will be possible, I will have to be more vigilant from now on. And if that’s the worst that happens to me, I’ll be fine:)

 

********************

 

The past few days have put quite a bit of mileage on my poor car. But I got to see my wonderful clients and how bad can that be?:)

 

Normally, not much occurs in my travels.  However, today’s journey through the Fort McHenry Tunnel to the East side of Bawlmer resulted in some excitement a train derailment and explosion that resulted in a truck driver going to the hospital and so far no fatalities, thank goodness. Lots of smoke on the horizon and a small traffic backup.  My clients foster homes and my office shook with the crash and explosion. While we were stopped ever so briefly on the Beltway, a number of people snapped the above pictures. It’s amazing there wasn’t loss of life.

 

The bad thing is it took far too long to get home and poor John was left to fend for himself while he wasn’t feeling well.  As I type this, he is sleeping or doing something approaching sleep.  He is doing a lot of that lately and I suspect it’s part of the healing process. I sure hope it is.

 

On the knitting front – oh yes, there’s a knitting front – I have made some progress on the Norwegian Rose Jacket by Meg Swansen. I’m getting into a rhythm in terms of knitting with yarns in both my left and right hands, but it is slowwww goinnnngggggg:) At least now you can see a flower starting to develop from what was previously incoherent color changes:

 

 

Please pardon the fingers.  Despite making valiant attempts at PWYC (purl when you can), the bottom edge is rolling a bit – and likely will continue to do so until the i-cord edge is knitted on and the whole thing has been blocked.  I may make some changes to the pattern – not major ones. I think I’d like to keep the edge pattern all in the purple and cream while the upper pattern changes to blue and cream. It means a sort of intarsia unless I want to carry a color all the way around – unlikely.I also think I will not do a line of one color around the waist line before the color change to blue and cream. This babbling will become more intelligible as I get to those sections.:).

Well, dear friend or friends, it’s getting late in my little corner of the world, so I’m going to close up shop right now. Hopefully I’ll have something far more interesting to say in future posts.  Until then, God be with you ’til we meet again.+

 

 

 

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Back in the harness…

Well not at the moment.  It is a holiday weekend and the courts are closed.  But I did visit nine clients yesterday, so I guess it counts as having worked, since it did take me darn near all day.   I love the road in the picture above.  It’s Hillside Drive in Baltimore County, Merlin, just outside of Bawlmer City in the country-ish part of the suburbs. I love this road because summer or winter, you have this long ride down the middle of a suburban wood and the trees create a canopy over you. On a cloudy afternoon like this past Friday, the hues of the verdant woods are so much more vibrant.  The Beltway had slowed down to a parking lot (accident possibly), so I took my favorite back road to the Towson courthouse. Some of my happiest times are spent listening to JS Bach (remember, he’s my true boyfriend, just don’t tell Mrs. B) and driving down this road – although I have to admit, the happiest moments are when I am traveling in the other direction because I’m done for the day:).

 

So after two weeks off to care for John, I am back at work.  Unfortunately, he is still slowly but surely recuperating from his surgery.  He wants to be better yesterday so that when he’s due back to work early July, he’ll be ready. I swear he worries too much!  It doesn’t help that our lease is up and we might need to move.  Of course it is. Why not? Sigh…

 

My first day really back on the job (the odd client visit or two doesn’t count) was strangely enough, exhausting! It wasn’t like I had been lying around the house these past two weeks eating bonbons! I think it was the result of a lot of interrupted sleep.  Once that got better, the tiredness did too. 

The weather here in Merlin (which is a state in which the people are known for beyotching about the weather and generally have little basis upon which to do so) has been outstanding if a bit chilly for May.  Not that I’m complaining! Sheep and Wool in 2010 was in the 90s and we can’t pay the Knitmore Girls to come back, LOL:).

Speaking of the Sheep and Wool Festival (May 4th and 5th), because there was so much going on – I was providing some of the music for my church’s Women’s Retreat that Saturday and Sunday was, well, Sunday, and John’s surgery was the following Wednesday, I didn’t do a heck of a lot this year.  But I did do some;) On Friday evening, I was able to have a lovely supper with the group and brought along my knitting.  It was FREEZING out! (Hear that Jasmine and Gigi??LOL:)) but we had a great time.  Missing Saturday was tough, but I will say that the retreat was the best yet. Sunday after church, I volunteered at the Columbia Sip ‘N Knit’s table.  Funded by a number of local yarn shops and suppliers, we provide water, lemonade and cookies for the weary knitter, weaver, spinner, crocheter, sheep breeder, you name it, as they come in and leave by the front entryway to the fairgrounds. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that from this year, but it was truly nice and much appreciated by the tired participants:)  It was great to touch base with fellow fiber fanatics and – a LOVELY surprise – a visit by a colleague – Abby – and her wife, Patty! I “knew” Patty from the blogosphere and later from Ravelry and Facebook, but we had never met face to face, so this was really really nice:).

 

 

 

 

 

 I didn’t buy much yarn, since I have a stash that puts me to shame, but a few skeins never hurt anyone:) (shhhhhhhhhhh)

 

And I plan on putting those few skeins to some good use, believe you me:)  I mean, in the interim, Brooklyn Tweed just came out with another Wool People.  I take that as a sign. Don’t disillusion me.

 

Well, boys and girls, right now it’s a Sunday evening.  The sun is still out.  It’s about 65 degrees Fahrenheit here in old Ellicott and the house is quiet, which is unusual for a Sunday.  And it’s a mess  – decidedly NOT unusual.  The grown kids with progeny are coming over tomorrow for dinner and we’ll do our Memorial Day then. Today is a very quiet day.  Our two youngest are home for the weekend to celebrate our J’s birthday – she’s 27   – which makes me… old. And that’s Oh Kay.  Her sister, S, made the beautiful cake you see above, although she swears it was a pain in the toochas to make and she will NEVER make one again.  So much for the rainbow cake for B and R’s wedding! (KIDDING, seriously, I’m KIDDING!! That was in case any of my kids read this thing which is extremely doubtful!) 

Musical things are on hold now for the summer with a few exceptions.  I might be playing flute for a few services with the instrumental ensemble or sing or something, but my evenings are freer for the most part. That’s OK – makes me appreciate it that much more when things kick up again.  Although this year was a bit scary for reasons stated in a previous post.

 

On the knitting front, I’m not doing much new, although there are a gazillion things I’d love to be doing, like perhaps doing the TKGA Master Knitter program, designing a few more shawls, sweaters, maybe knitting a skirt, doing more spinning on the hand spindle.  Perhaps that’s what summer will bring.  We shall see. I have made progress on Renee Leverington’s Spring Mystery Shawl – am actually at Clue 3 of 5.  This is a big deal for me.  As I said before, the first one I knit of hers took me six years to actually finish, LOL!:)  I’ve also made a little bit more progress on the Norwegian Rose Jacket.  Once I got the patterns set up, it’s been a bit clearer sailing. The picture doesn’t really show it – you’ll just have to trust me for a while!

 

 I found this nifty little app on iTunes called Instaplace – it’s Instagram with captions. So while doing my visits on a beautiful day while all my friends were out being productive in other ways, I had to capture the beauty of the skies over Bawlmer:) It looks like a postcard, doesn’t it? 

 

Well, I’d better clean up – or maybe take a little walk with John to the mailbox.  It’ll help him and who am I kidding? I need the exercise, too!

 

Well, friends, God be with you ’til we meet again+

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quiet life.

Today started early and cloudy and humid and blah. John had a doctor’s appointment at 7:45 and we got up early and went to it.  I was with him because he can’t drive yet and it is still difficult for him to get around. When we got back, we had a fairly quiet morning, and then John went upstairs for a little snooze.  I had decided it might be a good idea to take a large man-made fiber quilt/comforter that really needed it for a wash at a local laundromat as he slept. It wasn’t a tough job by any stretch, but it did require a bit of sitting in the laundromat and knitting.  A tough job, but somebody had to do it.
I worked a little bit on the armholes for the back of the “Natalie Tank/Tee” and watched the heartbreaking news stories coming from Tornado Alley in Oklahoma, Texas and apparently up the center of the country all the way north to Madison, Wisconsin! Those poor folks who lost children and family members and beloved pets and all their worldly possessions! In the face of such devastation, it is impossible to find the words to even comment. My prayers are with all of you in that part of the country.
I am back on the work schedule tomorrow and today I eased back into it by visiting a client in preparation for her hearing in a few weeks. As I went out my front door this afternoon, I was greeted with the sight you see at the top of this blog. Green, lush and wildflowers. As a friend of mine back in my college days used to say as we would see a flower growing out of a concrete slab, “Purely gratuitous:)”
Today has been a quiet day and I will most likely go to bed soon, but first a little bit of knitting and a tv show or two  – or maybe a knitting podcast or two – in the background.
Good night dear readers, and God be with you ’til we meet again+

Holy Blogger, Batman!

Two in two days! Has the woman gone mad?:)

 

Not much really new to post, just an update.  Today I finally went back to sing with the choir and ring with the bells for the last official choir Sunday – with few exceptions – until September. Today was Pentecost, or Whitsunday – the commemoration of the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Christian Church. The bells played some fun pieces that were not too terribly challenging, but pretty and ethereal.  The choir sang two favorites of mine: a rendition of Thomas Tallis’ If Ye Love Me, but rendered as Send Forth Thy Spirit; and Lux Beattisima by Howard Helvey- a more modern piece, but beautiful and also very ethereal. Here is a link to a lovely rendition of the piece sung by the San Joaquin Chorale:). 

 

There was something terribly bittersweet about this morning and singing those two pieces especially.  First, dear Nancy was back, on the mend from her surgery in mid-April. We are so spoilt by her excellent organ playing – but what many don’t realize is what a good conductor she is to us in the choir.  We missed her very much!  As I said in a previous post, we had some good people come in and sub for her, but in the end, it wasn’t Nancy. So having her back, safe and sound, albeit minus one kidney, was a blessing for all of us. 

 

The past few months have really brought home the fragility of life.  There was Nancy’s cancer surgery, and John’s debilitating back pain and surgery.  And at the end of April another dear friend remembered his only son’s birthday – a beautiful, intelligent boy who died at best under mysterious circumstances and whose death devastated his devoted father and family.  There is no pat answer to this, except that I do believe that there is more to existence than this life. Some believe in God and some sort of organized religion.  I am one of those, but others do not and who am I to impose any of my beliefs on them? It’s funny, the older I get, the less it matters to me if someone believes as I do. What truly matters is how kind, how good they are. 

 

After playing the first service, I went home and made sure John was OK, then went back for the second service with the bell choir only. We then had a baby shower for one of our members and her husband whose baby is due any minute now. It was lovely having a chance to sit and chat with all of them and to share in the couple’s joy at this soon-to-be miracle.

 

When I left the shower I went to the store and bought a gift for our granddaughter, Ruby’s birthday.  She’s eight this week.:) All six of our offspring were present this evening. Danny and his friend, Dana, made dinner for John and me last night, which was really lovely, but sadly Dana had to head back to NYC this afternoon. Ruby loved her gift, John maintained his energy levels long enough to make it to the end of the visits/birthday bash, and a good time was had by all.:)

 

I just finished typing up some information to a very capable attorney who is covering all my cases for tomorrow morning. I am off until Wednesday to be sure John is able to be safe at home for short periods alone. It’s tough when you cannot bend, twist or lift anything over 8 pounds! Yet he has managed to do a lot for someone who previously could not function for the pain.

 

On the knitting front, I worked on the Natalie Tee and did a bit of the armhole shaping for the back and added a few more rows to Renee Leverington, Anniversary Mystery Shawl 2013 Clue Two. 

 

Last night, I did not get much sleep, nor did poor John.  He was up about four times in the night and when he got back to sleep talked pretty much in his sleep the whole time. No wonder he’s exhausted! No wonder I’m exhausted! 🙂 Inch by inch, he is getting better, though. And Heaven only knows, I need the exercise!:)

On that note, I will sign off and wish you, dear reader or readers, a safe and peaceful night – and

God be with you ’til we meet again+

 

 

 

Springtime for Merlin

Cannot believe it’s been over five months since last I blogged.  Betcha it’s Facebook and Twitter and all that instantaneous crap that keeps me from this much more thoughtful process.  Yet it is blogging that provides so much more personal satisfaction.

A lot of things have happened in five months, and yet not much:).  And the pictures that populate this post point out that a lot of knitting has been going on. And a lot of that knitting relates to events that have been going on in the state of Fugue, so why not talk about each bit of knitting and incorporate the life part as we go? How ’bout we start with the things I’ve finished since January?

The first thing you see here is a project I started February 3rd or thereabouts and finished May 1st. It is a pattern I developed by myself – Raspberry Fields,  the second shawl of its kind.  I loved the color of the Berroco Alpaca yarn and had to knit something pretty in it.  When I learned my dear friend Nancy had an 8-inch mass in her kidney that was almost certainly cancer (it was later determined to be a first-stage malignancy, but the kidney had to be removed before they biopsied it), I knew this was to be her prayer shawl.  I showed it to the Prayer Shawl Ministry group and they agreed, so I proceeded with their blessings:). The terrific news is, Nancy will be fine, although she will have to be even more careful than she was already.  No chemo, no radiation, just be careful of the kidney remaining.  Funny the things for which one learns to be grateful. What I didn’t add was that just before her surgery, her husband Rennie, was hospitalized in the ICU for complications that arose from an incident wherein his blood sugar plummeted, poor guy! Well, I never said that her life was boring! Thankfully, two lovely guest organists stood in for her – on Palm Sunday and then during her time in the hospital. But I have to admit, she is truly an excellent musician, and although the two wonderful gentlemen who stood in for her were very talented musicians, it just wasn’t the same without her. Thank goodness she’s back. I knit this shawl to show her how much she is loved and appreciated.  I hope she knows this.

One of my goals in life is to knit EZ’s Baby Surprise Jacket. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the good sense to begin this project.  When our wonderful grandangel, Patricia Jane a/k/a Patty, was born back on October 2, 2012, I had to knit me some pink.  So… I did a little t-shirt for her (below) and the Fiddlehead sweater to the right. Hey, what can I say? I’m a sucker for pink yarn:)

You may recall I mentioned that Raspberry Fields, the prayer shawl I created for Nancy, was the second of its kind. At left is the first one – knitted for an anonymous person to be gifted by our church’s prayer shawl ministry.  I heard that the recipient really enjoyed it and that warms my heart. Another shawl of its ilk, also designed by yours truly, I had a lot of fun knitting this.

What I did with both of these shawls was to cast on the HUGEST amount of stitches.  In short, I cast on the two bottom edges.  By decreasing four times (after the edge stitches, before the center pattern, after the center pattern and before the left edge stitches), every right side row,  and changing stitch patterns on the right and left side of the center stitch pattern every 12 rows, I had a pattern that meant a LOT of work at the beginning, with more and more “instant gratification” at the end.  It’s for the same reason I enjoy “bottom-up” sweaters: you have the enthusiasm for a pattern at the beginning when you have a lot of work to do, then it gets easier and more interesting as you get to the top. Makes for a much more interesting journey:)

Yet another one of my beautiful daughters had surgery.

So I knit her this to keep her warm:

I used a sort of half linen stitch pattern (half because I simply purled the back side and offset the slip stitches on the right side), then knit short rows in increases of 14 stitches to create a rounded edge on one long side. Topped off with a ruffled edge to create a shawlette.

SOCKS

Yes, I knit a few pairs of socks and have a few more still on the needles. The first one here, I knit an entire pair of knee socks for my daughter, JoAnna, to go with her to Cleveland for law school.

While I was at it, I knit myself a pair of knee socks to tide me through the Merlin winter:)

While on a visit to a number of clients in Washington County, near the MD-PA border, I found a lovely yarn shop in Amish country in PA – a lovely place called The

Knitting Cottage in Waynesboro, PA. There, I bought a couple of balls of sock yarn – and knit a couple of pair of socks – one for my future daughter-in-law, Robyn (soon to be married to our daughter, Betsy): These were the Knitmore Girls’ Vanilla socks (cuff down):

And another for selfish old me – just finished yesterday and on my feet right now as I type this:

This was the Almondine pattern by Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame – from the book Sock Knitting Master Class edited by Ann Budd. It is a great pattern, cuff down, works well with variegated as well as solids.

I have a number of socks still on the needles – an example of which is a pair of Wendy Johnson’s Toe-Up Socks with a difference. There was a lovely skein of red sock wool I recently acquired at a yarn swap and some leftover’s from Robyn’s socks. I might just stick with the red and save the leftovers for another project.

Despite having some 30+ projects on the needles at the start of this year, I have cast on a number of new projects. Some, mentioned above, were finished in a short time.  The scarf at the right below was made from single skeins of yarn also acquired at a yarn swap. My son-in-law, Sonny, was a good match for the colors in that one.  The pretty red thing on the left is one square of a pattern – Dogwood by Tincanknits.  It’s in a big old red acrylic yarn – perfect for the couch if I can get up the ambition to do about another 29 squares – and machine washable, of course.

So of course, I make this amazing discovery of a really really good designer by the name of Corinna Ferguson, who designed a lovely series of shawls, created an e-book and called it Seven Sonnets. This little darling is the beginning of the Poe Shawl.  Cannot wait to get back to it. It’s in one of the Cascade Yarns Heritage Paints in a colorway that looks to go with a lot of what I have.  With any luck, I’ll be able to keep this one;)

CRAFTSY:

Custom Yoke Sweater by Amy Detjen

Oh. My. Goodness.

Craftsy is just wonderful. You get to access videos showing you a new aspect of a craft – in my case knitting or crocheting and maybe one or two cooking or weaving or something classes. Oh boy.  And this one by Amy Detjen is really nice.  And informative. And funny. So far, I’ve got the body up to the armpits, and one of the sleeves done. Cannot wait to get to the yoke design.  Am I using the one with squirrels? Sadly, no.  I figure I should do something out of Alice Starmore’s designs out of either Sweden or Norway.  More to come on this. The yarn has a nice history – I bought it on sale at a lovely store in Williamsburg during our 35th anniversary trip back in October of 2011. They had EVERYTHING:) And you can shop there online, too (oh dear oh dear oh dear!!).

Every so often I get e-mails from Elann.com and download a pattern or two or pick up a few balls of yarn. I decided to use some Tahki Stacy Charles cotton yarn and knit up the Natalie Tank and make a Natalie Tee shirt instead for this coming summer.  We’ll see how that works out:)

Just as dear Nancy was dealing with her cancer scare, poor John ended up with some horrible back pain.  The disc pain he’d been having for years finally hit home for him.  After trying the non-surgical route for years, it became painfully (sorry) apparent that surgery would be necessary. It wasn’t until he was getting his pre-surgical exam in the waiting area on the date of his surgery 10 days ago, that I realized how serious this really was.  Poor guy couldn’t even lift his left leg.  So not only was he in pain, he was losing feeling and strength in his left leg.  As the nurse-anesthetist said – the trifecta. So my husband went in for what ended up being a twelve-hour ordeal: Two hours of prep, Six+ hours of surgery and four hours in the recovery room when his blood pressure was so low, they almost put him into the ICU. He lost a lot of blood during surgery – because he forgot that the baby aspirin he had been taking for his heart was likely to make his platelets less than optimum. OY! The next day, he ended up getting a couple of units of blood and that seemed to do the trick. Then his gut stopped working – not unusual, we’ve been told – but not fun.  He finally came home a day late on Sunday and has been gradually working toward improving. It seems to me the surgery was a success.  He no longer has the excruciating pain he had before.  However, he has a way to go in terms of other aspects of his recovery. I don’t think he’s going to be lifting anything for a LONG time. I am glad I had the surgery I had two years ago so I can be in good enough shape to pitch in.

Oh, and did I tell you, dear reader, that our lease is up in July? oh yeah. That’s going to be interesting. Times like this, I am very grateful for our six wonder kids!

So, whilst I waited through the surgery – surrounded with the prayers of Mimi, our deacon,our friends from St. John’s and St. Peter’s and from work – and accompanied by our various kids:) and the prayers of family – I knitted to pass the time.  I knitted the tank/t-shirt above and worked on one of Renee Leverington’s beautiful Mystery Shawls – the 2013 Spring Mystery Shawl, which I called my Spring Mystery St. Agnes Shawl.

This pattern is supposed to use beads – something I wasn’t about to contemplate in a hospital waiting room or patient room – especially when one is there to help the patient, LOL:).  Instead of a bead, I decided to put a 9-stitch nupp.  So far, I think it’s working well.  The yarn is from Dancing Leaf farms – a fuzzy off-white yarn that seems to be doing the trick.

John is finally home as I said, and I have taken a couple of weeks off from work to help him out as he negotiates life not being able to bend for a long while.I must say he’s been a good sport, but this is getting old for him. Sometimes we have to deal with the reality of what life is right now and it’s a tough thing to do.  He’s been used to being the big guy who takes care of everyone else.  It’s hard for him to let us take care of him. Yet we all want to. It will be OK in the end.  It’s the interim that is always toughest.

Finally, I have one more project I started just this week.  Ever since I bought the book Knitting in Two Colors by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, the cover has always intrigued me.  Then Schoolhouse Press came out with Meg’s design of the Norwegian Rose Cardigan and I had to get that pattern. I dug in my stash and supplemented a little with some white wool purchased at the Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Catonsville.  I had to start this. Haven’t done a really nice colorwork cardigan since I knit Nancy’s Westerwick (pattern design by fellow Middlebury Alumna Ann Feitelson) a couple of years ago.This one is for me.  I decided to knit the largest size with the idea that it would be a nice jacket either as outerwear or a suit jacket worn with a navy blue or purple skirt for court. I plan on knitting about 20 rounds and seeing what my gauge will be.  If  it’s too large, oh well, I will rip out and start again. But this will be done right!

Well, that’s all for now. Hoping your knitting and your lives bring you joy.

God be with you ’til we meet again+