Friday, July 31, 2009


...of the summer is already gone. I'm tempted to say that it seems to have gone by quickly, but it really hasn't. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just been a really nicely paced summer for me. I think the fact that it has been unseasonably cooler than usual has helped me enjoy it more than usual. And, oddly, I think my active efforts at gardening this year have made me more aware of time passing more slowly. After all, it takes time for things to grow, and when you're the one who's planted them, you take note of how long they're taking to produce the fruits of your labors!

This past week was the kids' week away at camp. I had a grand set of plans for how I would spend the week and all that I'd get done while I was home alone. Yeah. Well, things didn't really go according to plan. I did get to have fun on Monday...

My friend Angela and I went kayaking! (She took this picture.) It was a perfect day for it. Beautiful, sunny, in the upper 70's. I got a little sunburn, the kind that doesn't really hurt but makes you feel all healthy and glowy, even though you know you're doing bad things to your skin. It was a 7.5 mile trip and took us about 4 hours to complete. I have a bunch of my own pictures from the trip, too. I'll try to add a few here in the coming days, but until then, you can check them all out here, if you're so inclined. 

Aside from kayaking, I enjoyed a couple days of quality time with the grandson. Have I mentioned how much I love that little boy? I was worried that he'd be bored here without his aunt and uncle to keep him occupied, but he was precious and was perfectly happy to play with me instead, or to play near me on his own, as long as I was in the room. I forgot how little privacy you have with a four year old around, but that was a small price to pay for having such a good time with him.

I also spent the week doing an inordinate amount of laundry. I'm trying to figure this out. I did ALL of the laundry before the kids left for camp, so that they had clothes to pack. And then with them gone, that cut our dirty-laundry-producing capacity in half, right? So you'd think there should have only been half as much laundry to do this week. But you'd be wrong! There was still a lot of laundry, and I got it all done, including a backlog of old sheets and towels that I don't use much and my son's blue sleeping bag that has been sitting down there waiting to be washed for probably close to two years. (We own a lot of sleeping bags, so he had one for camp without his.)

What didn't get done this week? I did no spinning. I hardly did any knitting. I didn't read any books or magazines (though I tried one night). I did not get my car aligned. I did not make much progress on planning our school year. But I did get to the gym, I did hit several new high scores in Typing Mania on Facebook, and I did download a bunch of really old, obscure country songs that I remember from my childhood (I've been in a really weird music mood lately), including this one...remember it?

All in all, it was really a good week. Relaxing. Happy. 

And now we're resume our regular lives. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Random notes...

Dear Calendar,

How did it get to be Thursday already? Stop that!




Dear Bathroom Scale,

When I step on you in the morning, I expect to see a lower number than the day before, or at least the same number. I do not AT ALL appreciate seeing a higher number..not even by one or two pounds. Just because I ate out three times this week and drank two beers last night (neither of which, as you should know by now, is my norm) doesn't mean you have to mess with me! Give a girl a break! I've been to the gym every day this week! That has to count for something! Please??


Looking for Less of Lisa


Dear Coffee,

I love you. You are precious to me. The only thing that would make me love you more is if I could get you to make yourself simply by thinking it. 


Addicted 2 U


Dear Product Manufacturers,

I am a relatively intelligent woman. I graduated high school. I have two college degrees. In short: I am literate. In fact, I enjoy reading. For that reason, I would appreciate it if you could find it in your heart to produce instructions that are actually written in WORDS instead of numbered boxes with vague drawings of images that do not even resemble the product I'm trying to assemble and/or set up. I'll bet your company employs a technical writer or two. Go to HR, ask where their cubicles are and allow these people to put their skills into action. 

Frustrated Customer


Dear Summer Camp,

Thank you, in advance, for taking my kids and providing them with fun and enriching activities for the entire week next week. You are making me very, very happy. Just don't let them get hurt, ok?


Happy Mama


Dear Knitting,

I'm coming back to you soon. I promise. 


Your Fuzzy-Wuzzy Fibernymph

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Growing well, eating well...

Time for a garden update! (And there is a spinning/yarn/Tour de Fleece update at the end of the post, so if that's what you're here for, feel free to jump ahead!)

My little salad garden continues to thrive this summer. It's very exciting! Some things are finished the spinach, radishes, onions and beets. The lettuce is still hanging on, though I think it will bolt this week. I'm going to resew some spinach and beets and see if they'll grow again.

The tomatoes are doing fabulously!

Look at them! I've been getting a few ripe Sun Golds every day for the past few days. Today I picked five, though honestly, they may have been a little under-ripe. I just can't keep myself from picking them, though...they are soooo good!

The tomatillos...those two plants, along with the two Sun Gold plants, have taken over the world. Seriously. I have never, ever had anything grow as successfully as these two items. No IDEA what I'm going to do with all the tomatillos once they begin to ripen. Want some? ;)

The pepper plants are all producing baby fruits now, though the cayenne peppers look pretty big, but they aren't red yet. Are they supposed to turn red before you pick them? I'm assuming they are since that is what the picture on the little tag showed. Hm. If I can keep the critters from devouring the leaves on all the pepper plants, I should have a nice pepper crop at some point.

And I have little baby cukes on my one cuke vine! The second vine died, thanks, I think, to the overshadowing tomatillos of death. (They also are killing my cilantro, darn it!) And I went down to the big garden last week (I've kind of been ignoring it since the floods did so much damage last month) to find that the one surviving zucchini plant had fruit on it! And already it just proves that one zucchini plant is all anyone really needs. Thankfully, I love zucchini.

The tomatoes down there that survived the floods are still growing, but not well. The tomatoes are really small, compared to most years. It's kind of depressing. The groundhogs have eaten all of the peas (which fared the floods well) and the few broccoli plants that had survived. :::sigh::: A couple of my cuke plants came up down there too, but they aren't doing well. However! There are three HUGE plants that I figured out today are acorn squash! LOL I knew I planted some of those and some melons, but the melons didn't seem to survive. But hey, we'll have plenty o' acorn squash, it seems. The corn is actually growing, better than it's looked some years, really, and there are some huge pumpkin vines growing, so as long as the #@!$ groundhogs leave them alone, we might end up with pumpkins.

Kevin pulled the garlic last week, so we're awash in fresh garlic, and the potatoes should be ready to be dug anytime now.

My salad garden has afforded me some really yummy meals this summer. I've mostly been using the spinach for breakfast, oddly enough, sauteing it and putting it in scrambled eggs or omelets (for me...the kids won't eat it that way).

I make my scrambled eggs with one whole egg and two egg whites for added protein. The veggies vary, but today there was spinach, onion and tomato, along with a hodge-podge of fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, dill and chives, I think...I love my herbs!). And then I throw in a little cheese. Today I used feta. A little too tangy and salty, so I may not do that again. But I like to try new things.

Lunch was guacamole, which I've recently learned how to make...

I've also learned how important it is to use the avocado with a day or so of buying it, lest it turn to brown mush. :P The garlic and cilantro are the only things in the guacamole from our garden. And I like to eat it with toasted pita crisps. Mmm.

Dinner tonight was a little macaroni and tuna salad...

This is a default comfort food meal of mine anymore. I use whole-wheat macaroni, a packet of tuna in water, then I chop up about 2/3 cup of broccoli, a tomato (used my five little Sun Golds tonight!) and whatever other veggies I might want to add (today I tossed in some raw, chopped spinach since I still have some from the garden), and I mix it up with about 2 T mayo and 2 T red wine vinegar dressing. Usually I'll chop up a hard boiled egg white in it too, but I forgot that tonight. I love this dish so much!

Ok, back to growing...

The flowers are also doing nicely, except the petunias that really haven't gotten very big and in some cases have died off all together. But I really don't like petunias much anyway, so I'm not heartbroken. LOL The brown-eyed susans are now blooming like crazy, and they make me very happy!

They're making Nigel happy, too. :)

And lastly, my yarn stash is growing because I'm still spinning for Tour de Fleece! LOL

This is one of three skeins I did for the Creepshow album cover for Team BKG. It is Serendipitous Ewe roving, (some African wool) in the Tulip colorway. I had 8 oz. of roving and got a little over 400 yards of a worsted weight 2-ply, plus about 40 yards of Navajo-plied leftovers. I added some purple curly locks to it as I spun the one single to give it some of the dark from the album cover, but they mostly got lost in the spin when I plied. Oh well. It's still fun yarn!

While I have been spinning every single day, some days its been just barely. I was glad to have a huge block of time to spin today...I watched three whole movies while I spun! One more week of TdF, and honestly...I need a spinning break! I want to get back to knitting! LOL

Quiet Sunday mornings...

...are, perhaps, even more wonderful than quiet Saturday mornings. They are also more rare. Most Sunday mornings see us getting ready for the 9 a.m. church service we usually attend. Granted, as the kids have gotten older, that has become a less noisy, less harried process, but is not quiet, nor necessarily peaceful, and it usually isn't lost on me how the preparation to get to church often acts counter to putting one's heart in a worshipful state. Usually it's more like, "Man, let's just get there already!"

Don't get me wrong. I like my church a lot. We have an awesome pastor who shares scripturally-sound messages week after week. He is a dynamic and engaging speaker, which, while not a requirement for a pastor, is certainly a plus in my mind. I love, love, love the people there. Granted, it's not a perfect church, but it's our church home and we're pretty happy there.

Still, there are some Sundays when I (or we) don't go. I used to feel guilty about that, but I really don't anymore. I've found that sometimes, having a quiet Sunday morning at home gives me a chance to be quiet within myself, and that's when I am best able to feel close to God. I might read my Bible or listen to music (I don't listen to contemporary Christian music because very little of it appeals to me, but there are some worship songs that I truly enjoy, or simple instrumental music that calms my soul). Often, though, I'll just go outside and observe creation in my little corner of the world, because that never ceases to remind me God's goodness and wonder and great love.

Though I don't talk about my faith here on the blog much (though it certainly fits with the whole "inspired" theme), it is an important part of my life. I can't remember a time when I didn't believe in God, even when I was very young. I can look back over the past 25 - 30 years and see a distinct path my faith life has taken over time, complete with ups and downs. I cannot imagine having gotten through a lot of things had I not had my faith to rely on. 

Sometimes, in the thick of things, the only thing I can muster by way of faith is remembering that God said, "I AM." (Exodus 3:14, if you want the reference!) To me, that means that God is God. He is never changing. He is always present in my life and in the world. He loves me and he loves those I love more than I could ever love them. I may not understand why some things happen, nor what will happen in the future, but knowing that God is God is enough for me. I trust him, fully and completely.

In recent years, I've found myself on what I think of as spiritual auto-pilot a lot. Not exactly lazy, but not as active as I used to be. (By "active" I don't mean active in my church, I mean active personally in my own faith life...not sure how else to describe it.) My faith is there, and it is stronger than it's ever been, but it is different than when I was younger. Recently I enjoyed a conversation about spiritual issues with a young couple I'm getting to know. One of the things that struck me during our talk was what I've categorized as their youthful exuberance about their faith. It was refreshing and made me smile, remembering that same thing in myself at one time. 

Faith, like anything else though, is a journey, and we don't stay in the same place forever. In my 40s, I don't expect to experience or express my faith in the same ways as I did in my 20s, and that's ok. But being in the presence of a 20-something who is alive with joy from God can be a welcome reminder to turn off the auto-pilot more often and reconnect more actively with the faith that is such an important part of who I am.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random thoughts on a Friday night...

I'm starting to miss knitting. Spinning and crochet has been my fiber life for several weeks now, and I really want to get back to something on two needles soon. Absence makes the heart grow fonder...apparently true!

The coming week is going to be buuusssssyyyy. I'm tired just thinking about it.

There is one more week in Tour de Fleece. I won't say I'm glad, necessarily. It's been fun to spend time spinning daily. But I'll be glad not to have the "have to" aspect looming over me when it's done.

When TdF is over, I am taking a break from any other KALs, challenges, or what-have-yous until Soctoberfest in October. I need a rest from these things, enjoyable as they are.

It is raining. I love the sound of rain.

I've been thinking about goals and accomplishments lately...the ones I've met, the ones I haven't. I'm trying to celebrate the former and lighten up on myself about the latter. Over-achievers R Us, I'm afraid. :::sigh:::

Going for dinner tomorrow with Amy, whom I haven't seen in ages. Mad Mex! Fish tacos! Olé!

The kids leave for camp in nine days. Yeay! A free(ish) week for me! Ack! Things to do this week to get them ready!

I want to go kayaking.

But not tonight. Tonight I want to go to sleep. Tiiiirrrreeeed. :}

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anton Strout and thoughts on writing (mine, not his)...

On a recent bookstore jaunt, I found myself in the fantasy/sci fi section, waiting for Christopher to pick out a new Star Wars novel. A book on the end of the shelf where I was standing caught my eye. Dead to Me by Anton Strout. It was categorized as "urban fantasy," which is a sub-genre I hadn't actually heard of before, but the blurb on the back cover sounded intriguing, so I picked it up. (And paid for it. Really.)

I'm only about halfway through the book (not a commentary on the book, but on my limited reading time in the past few weeks...spinning has been taking up most of my free time), and I usually don't recommend books before I'm finished with them, nor authors I've not read before until I've finished one of their books, but I've got to give a shout out to this book and Mr. Strout. This book is so not what I was a good way. Not so much the storyline itself, but the humor. I love the sense of humor with which Strout has endowed the characters. It was totally unexpected for me. Maybe it shouldn't have been, but it was.

I've been following Strout on Twitter lately, which is how I came upon the entry on his blog today that talks about something I know a lot of writers can relate to...the need to write around a day job. I've been fortunate to not have to juggle that in the traditional sense of a 9-5 job, but I distinctly recall from my freelancing days the struggle of balancing the SAHM thing, homeschooling my kids, and trying to make time to write. 

After a fairly lengthy hiatus (about six, the desire to writing again has been growing in me. (Fiction, that is...beyond my blog, I have no immediate plans to revisit non-fiction, and the thought of returning to the freelance world makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and whimper.) 

So, what's holding me back? Well, aside from the usual writerly neuroses of little voices telling me I have nothing to write that anyone would ever want to publish, let alone read, I also hesitate because of the time factor. For me (and probably most writers, I'd guess), writing requires entering deeply into another world, and that isn't something that is always easy to do if you know you're not going to be able to stay for long. It would be like having 10 minutes to go to the beach and wanting to swim as far out into the ocean as you can, but knowing you won't have time enough to make it back to shore before the bus leaves.  

There are a lot of important priorities in my life right now. My kids and homeschooling remain at the top. My dedication to kickboxing has become integral to getting myself healthy, and I won't be giving that up. Knitting and spinning provides the sanity break I need here and there throughout my days. So I ask myself...where does writing fit into all of that? Can I make the time to do it justice between the other priorities in my life right now, or will it turned out to be a half-assed effort, or will something else suffer? I'm not sure yet. And I probably won't be sure until I dive in and give it a try. 

I know the bottom line answer, though...if writing is important enough to me, then I will make time for it. Simple as that. (Riiiiiight.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pictures of life lately...

...because they are easier than words...and more fun...LOL

From the 4th of July...sparklers!

Also from the gatherings at my in-laws' house usually involve tractor rides...and here are all the kids who enjoyed riding in the wagon. So many little ones, and ones who aren't so little anymore!

One of the things I love about my in-laws' place is the crazy amount of old stuff that is laying around the buildings, which I find curiously artistic to look at.

Last Sunday, I went on a hike with my friend Angela in the countryside near her house...there were cows...moooo...

And there was lots of simply beautiful scenery...I love the country...

Look at that sky!

Angela had one of her Italian Greyhounds along for the hike...isn't Ethan cute?

And lastly, I'm still spinning for Tour de Fleece. It's taken me four days to finish one bobbin of my next album cover yarn...this is represents The Creepshow. It is the Happenstance Roving I bought back in March from Serendipitous Ewe at the Homespun Yarn Party. I'm adding in some dark purple curly locks to get the color scheme closer to the album.

So, there you have it. Life in pictures.

Can I just say that I can't believe it is mid-July already? I've been enjoying my summer so much. The temps have been unseasonably cooler, but not too cool. Just right for me, actually. We've done a lot of fun things already, had some good family times. They kids still have their week at camp coming up, which I look forward to as much as they do, frankly. LOL But I have this summer to-do list sitting here, which hasn't seen much crossed off. I really need to get on the ball before fall gets here and I want to kick myself for not getting more done before the school year starts up!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fiber-related progress...

I realize I've been a slacker with regard to Tour de Fleece updates, but rest assured, I have been spinning every single day of the race, and pretty much all of my bobbins have looked like this once they were filled...

Team BKG decided to spin yarns to match various album covers. The first I chose to do with Joan Jett fiber (singles pictured above), which I finished plying today...

...I totally love how it turned out, even if the colors didn't match the album cover quite as well as they did in their original fiber form. The fiber was 8 oz. of Scarlett Fleece 100% Australian Merino Wool Top in the Raisin Berry colorway. It is so soft and yummy! I got just under 600 yards of a 2-ply light worsted weight yarn from it.

In the land of crochet, the Silk Garden granny square afghan continues to grow...

...I am in love with this project and never want it to end. Ever. You might think I'd be bored doing that same crochet thing around and around as the blanket gets bigger, but no. Not with Noro. The colors just keep pulling me along, like Bugs Bunny following a carrot.

No knitting news to report. Spinning and my Noro blankie have been taking up all of my crafting time. That and learning how to process RAW images from my camera, something that I've been successfully ignoring now for several years of digital SLR ownership. I'm still not sure how much I like working with them versus the JPG images I'm used to, but I'm going to continue to play and see how it goes.

And apropos of nothing fiber-related, I took this cool picture of the newly waning moon last night...

I love the moon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Because I'm such a follower sometimes...

...I'm doing this meme that Stephanie posted on her blog the other day. I think I've done it before, but seeing as it's about music and my iPod (two things I love so much!), it's worth doing again. :)

The rules: Turn on your MP3 player. Go to SHUFFLE songs mode. Write down the first 15 songs that come up--song title and artist--NO editing/cheating, please. Choose some people to be tagged. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about your musical tastes, or at least a random sampling thereof.

(Note that I'm not tagging anyone, but if you want to play along, please do and let me know in the comments so I can see your list!)

1. (F)lannigan's Ball - Dropkick Murphys

2. Drown - Three Days Grace

3. Every Morning - Sugar Ray

4. The Riddler - Kent Schoch

5. Tu Vuo Fa L' Americano - The Puppini Sisters

6. Moon Shadow - Cat Stevens

7. Man in Black - Johnny Cash

8. Handle with Care - The Traveling Wilburys

9. Lola - The Kinks

10. Voodoo - Godsmack

11. Hoodwinked (A Suspicious Tale) - Kent Schoch

12. No Sleep Till Brooklyn - The Beastie Boys

13. It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing) - Michael Maxwell and his Orchestra

14. Go All the Way (Into the Twilight) - Perry Farrell

15. Citizen CIA - Dropkick Murphys

LOL Interesting list...a moderately representative of the types of music I tend to listen to, if not the exact artists (though to be a truly representative list there would need to be more alt rock and some psychobilly...but what can you do when you're only allowed 15 songs?). And there is only one truly embarrassing tune to admit (#3). And just to note that while #2 and #14 are on my iPod, they're actually from my daughter's music collection. :}

So, what's on YOUR iPod? (Said in my best Viking-a-la-Capital-One-commercial voice.)

Weezer and the anti-knit...

Before this post will make sense (well, as much as possible, anyway), you must first go and watch this Weezer video. Embedding has been disabled on YouTube for this one, so I can't insert it here, but go ahead...go watch it, listen to the lyrics, and then come back. I'll wait.

...Dum de dum de dum...

Ready to continue? Cool.

I heard this song on the radio last week for the first time in eons. I mean, it came out in 1994, so I'm sure I've heard it dozens of times. But...I wasn't a knitter for most of those years. As a knitter, I heard this song with new ears. I have since dubbed it the anti-knitting song, for obvious reasons. Let's review the four main lines of the song...

If you want to destroy my sweater...

What?? Why would someone WANT to destroy his sweater? Is it ugly? Is it some horrible, cheap, acrylic sweater bought on sale at Wal-Mart? Is the person just mean and spiteful? Perhaps did a former girlfriend knit it for him and, being a clueless guy, he doesn't realize he should not wear it around the current girlfriend? Or, is the "sweater" a metaphor for something bigger? Some aspect of his deeper being?

Pull this thread as I walk away...

OK, clearly no one consulted any knitters when these lyrics were being written because typically we do not refer to it as "thread". Unless maybe it was a store-bought, machine-knit cotton sweater. That could indeed look like thread. But really? Sweaters are made of yarn. I suppose "Pull this piece of yarn as I walk away" doesn't sound quite as rhythmic. 

Watch me unravel. 

Unlike cartoon animals whose fur unravels with ease, I don't think this will work with a sweater on a human. Even if the sweater was knit in the round, maybe a raglan, you're only going to be able to pull so far before the freed yarn wraps uncomfortably around him. To truly unravel it, he'd have to be spinning like a top, know what I mean? 

I'll soon be naked...

Naked? Seriously? This can only mean one of two things. One, the wearer is drastically under dressed and could be cited for indecent exposure. Or two, and possibly more likely, it is a hand-knit sweater whose maker failed to check gauge, thus instead of being a traditional sweater, it is more of a sweater dress. Still...he's a guy. Why is he wearing a sweater dress? Not that I'm judging. 

Or, if we go back to the metaphor theory, then perhaps the unraveling of the sweater is meaningful in some other way. It could represent the ripping away of some dysfunctional part of his psyche, leaving his soul bare and naked to be reborn into something new and beautiful. 

Or maybe he's just into being naked on the ground.

...lying on the floor. I've come undone.

The person who is truly going to come undone is the poor knitter who put all that time and energy into that sweater! Sure hope she doesn't find out, know what I mean? 

I thought perhaps watching the video would give me some incredible insight into the meaning of this song. But no. No insights. Near as I could tell, none of those guys was even WEARING a sweater! And what was with the dogs? That was just random.

P.S. A spinning update: I have indeed been spinning every day of the Tour de Fleece so far. I'm nearing the end of my first batch of fiber and cannot wait to begin plying. I'll post more soon with pictures!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gloom, despair, agony...

Ok, maybe not despair and agony. I just like to make use of that line from the old Hee-Haw song whenever an opportunity presents itself! But gloom -- oh, we have gloom! Dreariness abounds! 

It is July 3rd. It has been raining off and on all day. It is currently 67 degrees. I am wearing my comfy-cozy sweat pants. 

I should not be wearing my comfy-cozy sweats pants on July 3rd! Not even in Pittsburgh!

The gloomy gray seems to be seeping into my mood. Despite accomplishing much in the line of household productivity both yesterday and earlier today, as well as spinning some lovely Briar Rose BFL and planning my TdF spinning projects, I'm actually feeling sorta blue this afternoon. What's up with that?

Ok, honestly, I do know what's up with that. Fiber is good for a lot of things, but it cannot completely take the crazy and the drama out of life, and there is a bit of both these going on in the background of my life right now. I'm trying not to dwell on them. I trying to remember to take deep, cleansing breaths to keep myself calm. I'm trying to remember to pray. I'm trying to remember that I do not have to have all the answers. I'm trying to remember that It Will Be OK. I'm trying.

:::breathe in::: :::breathe out:::

I'm ready for the sun to come out, literally and figuratively.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TdF x 2

Ok, just to make things more confusing exciting, I've decided to ALSO join the Tour de Fleece that has a presence on Ravelry, as well. I wouldn't have bothered, but one of my favorite groups there, Bad Knit Girls, has created a team, and how can I not join them? ;) Luckily, my spinning for the Team BKG will most likely totally count toward my (as-of-yet-unstated) goal for the original TdF I joined, so I shouldn't go any crazier than I already would be. That's a good thing. ;)