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January 2011
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March 2011


Today... Michael. Five years ago, if you can believe that! I can't... five years ago this very minute, he was in ICU and we waited and worrried... which continued for several weeks... months. It could have turned out very differently five years ago today, so we celebrate... my brother. I'm happy things went as they did.

Love you, Mikey. XO

Four weeks: The freak-out countdown begins

In less than four weeks, we'll be in London. London, England. The United Kingdom. Holy crap.

It's my first time traveling outside the U.S. since driving across the amazingly gorgeous western two-thirds of Canada with DH (before he was DH) in autumn of 1984, and my first time ever outside of North America. Since I once lived in Canada, that hardly counts in my book except that I am a U.S. citizen, it is a whole 'nother great big country, and a passport is now required to cross the border.

This is sort of a big thing! And now that it's less than a month away, I'm beginning to freak-out because all I can think about is that it's only a month away!

RANDOMLY (I started this post on Wednesday, believe it or not, and have revised in the hopes of posting everyday since)...

Shoes. As recently established, I bought a new pair of shoes well in advance so that there'd be some good break-in time before traipsing through London and the Scottish Highlands and Tintern Abbey (generally speaking). I found a lovely pair of El Naturalistas a few weeks ago, but wished them in Tibet Red so they had to be ordered. I picked them up a little over a week ago and *OUCH* they were way too tight. I took them in to have them stretched a bit -- while I waited, and they were much improved, but it was suggested that it would be even better if left overnight. So I did that, but the leather is very stiff and they are still quite tight, so I took them in again this morning. Did I mention that they're red? I just love 'em and can't wait to wear them!

Now that footwear is on track -- and that's huge because I don't want to remember this possibly once-in-a-lifetime trip (I hope it'll happen again, but look how long it's taken for the first time) in terms of how much my feet hurt (I will have other shoes) -- the next big thing on my mind is the knitting... and luggage... camera, camera bag... and should I rent a lens, or two, or 20... I really need to do something about my hair... new glasses... Montparnasse?

I plan to visit a few yarn shops, but I'm not a very good on-the-fly yarn shopper. And because I'm traveling (lightly, I hope), I'm not likely to buy much more than souvenir yarn. Regardless of what happens while I'm there, though, I will need something to GET me there -- an on-the-way knitting project(s) for planes, trains and automobiles. I've finished another hat, see?

But I am finding a hard time concentrating and finding a new project for right now, never mind to get me through a long trip.

It's gorgeous, isn't it? It's Twin Set Ellen's Hat's Not Another Noro-Scarf. The black is most of the leftovers from the hats I knit for Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads and the other is an odd ball of Noro Silk Garden that was kicking around and seemed to have no purpose.


Luggage. I borrowed a larger bag than any I own from a friend to check. I'll carry on my camera bag, which will also serve as handbag and project bag (as it did last May for Vegas), and will carry on another, as well, for laptop, etc. I think. It seems sort of early, but I guess I need to really start thinking about what I'll be packing and the best configuration.

Rent a lens? Done! Given the other two I'll be bringing (50mm f/1.8 and 24-105mm f/4L), I decided on the fish-eye again. It's an easily over-used lens but, oh, the landscapes.

I don't know what to do with my hair. Blech. Maybe just a trim for now.

I am overdue for new glasses and my eyes are starting to bug me, but I think this will be put off until after our return. I will get both pair (regular + sunglasses) adjusted before we go, though. It's amazing, even after all these years of wearing glasses every waking moment, how often they get in the way and totally smooshed.

I've actually given contacts more than a fleeting thought recently. I haven't worn them in 25 years!

Montparnasse... my Going To The U.K. Sweater. The main pieces are knit and blocked, and I actually started seaming last weekend -- a sleeve. And then unseamed all that I'd done (sleeve to shoulder) because it was too tight! I will tolerate a tight under-arm seam less than any other. I'd sure like to finish that sweater, though, so perhaps I'll take some measurements and try that again this afternoon.

Maybe I'll try to find some buttons for this hat, too.

Have a happy weekend!

It happened on my way to the salon

Web-2011-02-19 12.27.06
Web-2011-02-19 12.27.06
Web-2011-02-19 12.27.06 
If you live in Wisconsin, there's no way you are unaware of what's been going on in Madison for the past week... there's no way that you or someone you love or someone you know are not affected by the Governor's Budget Repair Bill. No doubt, you have feelings on the subject, as do I, but mainly it's this:

I don't care which side you're on, if you're left or right or in the middle, drinking tea or coffee or a milkshake... I think this -- a peaceful gathering of 70,000 to support/protest/whatever -- is so wonderful! Honestly, the alternatives* to this make me want to puke.

On Saturday, I stopped off at the protest on my way to the spa.

Web-2011-02-14 06.29.18 
Perhaps if I were a better person, I'd have told my sister to give up my belated birthday massage appointment and stayed all day (goodness, it sure was a gorgeous day!); but I am not and I didn't.

And I'm glad. Boy, I needed that. I drove down to Annie's on Saturday morning, as planned (weeks ago), and we spent the whole day together. While I enjoyed a long-overdue massage, Annie had her nails done; we enjoyed a wonderful lunch (and a great talk, some laughs, shared tears) at The Great Dane (my first time, probably not last); bought a few treats for ourselves at DB Infusion Chocolates, and some Gigi's Cupcakes to take home. Finally, we saw Biutiful at Sundance Cinemas.

The boys were fast asleep by the time we returned to Annie's, but Addy crawled in my bed early in the morning to snuggle... oh, he's such a little sweetheart. He gave me a couple of good morning kisses and even told me that he liked my nightgown, but quickly noted that his Superman jammies were better... ain't nothin' gonna beat the Superman jammies. I read him a couple of books (including Green Eggs & Ham - just like I used to read to his mom) and then we got up and had cupcakes for breakfast. Mack read to me (yep, HE read to ME) while I packed up my stuff and hit the road.

Snow was on the way, so I headed home much earlier than usual on Sunday. As it was, I drove through light snow all the way home (a 2-hour drive) and when all was said and done, a foot of new snow fell by Sunday night!

Anyway, that's a little bit of what I've been up to.

*We could argue all day long, picking the best and worst examples of whatever to support our position -- but, really, would you even want to live in a country where we -- and by that I mean ANY ONE OF US -- just roll over and take it, whatever it is? "Oh, sure, Governor Walker, whatever you say... is there anything else?" I wouldn't want to live here.

Flashback Friday

Then (March 2004)...

...and now.

Searching for light in which to shoot my latest hat yesterday, I found myself in the Garden Room. It's less Garden Room and more Pet Central these days, but there you go; nothing stays the same around here. As I shot, I noticed a familiar shape looming, um, towering in the background and, eventually, shifted my focus.

I snapped a quick pic of this little beauty with her bouffant cactus hat seven years ago -- nothing really intentional about it, I just needed a photo of something -- and posted it, in lieu of a photo of myself, as my avatar when I started blogging. You know, back in the day when we were all much more anonymous and none of us had faces of our own. She remained my avatar for many years -- and is still my blog's "favicon."

Sharon gave her to me many years ago in the midst of a move.  Her chapeau was quite eye-catching and substantial even then; now it's just flippin' fabulous!

So, I was supposed to pick up Mom yesterday and head to a luncheon in Lake Geneva at which my sister, a middle school principal, would accept a prestigious award on behalf of her school. We didn't go. For one thing, we're having our January thaw in February and warm temps combined with lots of snow equals fog -- there were widespread fog/driving advisories. Secondly, teachers (and others) in Wisconsin are somewhat preoccupied. I'm not sure that luncheon happened, period.

Well, I just picked up Mom a little bit later than originally planned and we went to Ali Lou's for lunch, instead. It had occurred to me earlier, but didn't acknowledge it out loud 'til I talked with Mom, that it was two months ago (yesterday) that Sharon died -- and how differently this winter turned out than what I'd planned.

So, yeah, no wonder she came into focus. Hey Sha! (Miss you.)

Seaman's Square Cap #2

Variation on a theme.

It's still a morphing of two patterns -- Seaman's Cap and Turn A Square; still a hat for Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads (over 25% 28% of Congress will be receiving hats!); I switched it up by using an orphan ball of Cascade 220 in place of the gray Shetland. The black is still local wool, there's enough remaining to make another small project; I can't wait, it's gorgeous yarn!

I'll be giving it a good soak tonight! Long-time readers of this blog might barely spot a vaguely familiar shape behind the cactus on the right...

Can you see her now? More tomorrow...

Ten on Tuesday: What? No knitting?

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Non-knitting Blogs

Welp. I'm actually quite surprised to find (having first to figure out how to find) that I subscribe to *only* 386 blogs. There are over 1000 unread posts and many blogs that should just be deleted. I do periodically go through and clean up my list, deleting feeds that haven't updated -- though I keep a fair number that don't update, "hope's alive" and sentimental whatnot. I have a feeling that today's topic might spur some feedcleaning.

Anyway, I organize my feeds into different folders, subfolders, and combinations thereof -- local, people I know, knitters, art and photography, writers -- they (folders and bloggers) come and go.  "Cooking & Food" didn't last long because it's just too dangerous.

And I actually have a folder called "Not Knitting."

1. The Pioneer Woman. I don't read some of the posts by contributors, and while I love the photography it sometimes drives me nuts... 14 photos about how to measure out a teaspoon of salt, etc.

2. Tasty Kitchen. It's not that I don't subscribe to "Cooking & Food" blogs at all!

3. What Katie Ate. The best of them cross and blur the categorical lines.

4. The Sister Project. This feed is in a folder called "Living."

5. Photojojo.

The rest of these are photography blogs. I subscribe to a lot of photo blogs -- mostly, they are photograph-ER rather than -Y. It's all about inspiration.

6. Daily Dose of Imagery. Just what it says!

7. Beth Jansen Photography. Energetic, colorful, and always interesting!

8. Anda Marie Photography. Anda and I both attended a Dave Jackson workshop last year and I've been following her ever since. I admire her energy -- seemingly boundless -- and style.

9. it's a DiRTY word (El TiDY). Another amazing and inspiring local photographer.

10. David E. Jackson Photography. Also local, Dave's just a guy... a VERY CREATIVE guy who is also very generous with his time, talent, knowledge, and encouragement.


Seaman's Square Cap #1

I finally nabbed some photos before allowing the light to slip away again! The days are getting longer, but still not allowing for much in the way of natural light in the early mornings and/or evenings, when I need it most.

Speaking of the daylight, we are enjoying the most wonderful sunny day today -- and (arguably) warm! Today -- in the right here and right now? -- a sunny 36F is delightfully WARM. The snow is melting!!

The hat is the mash-up of Seaman's Cap and Turn A Square -- I wanted the nice, substantial, folded up brim ('Seaman's') and also wanted to show off ('Square') that beautiful, natural, local Shetland wool.

I cast on the second hat last night, changing up the yarn just a bit, and made good progress while watching a movie with DH, and then the Grammy Awards (which I'd recorded, so I could skip and zip at will) (yeah). Some surprises, huh?

We had a great weekend! Maddy's friend Andi came up from Milwaukee to visit for the weekend -- she came with me to the indoor farm market on Saturday, and to pick up my new shoes, and also to the yarn store! Ha. Slice of life. She got together at various times with other friends, and also with Kate & Al, and helped DH with some stuff. It was fun to have her and I know we'll see her again before Maddy's returns.

Exploring The Joy of Love in February with a month-long daily photography prompt/project seemed like a good idea at the eleventh hour on January 31st when I impulsively decided to do it after seeing it in someone's Facebook feed. It was a total gut thing.  I didn't even investigate much before committing -- a prompt, a photo, joy, love, everyday -- all I knew was that I needed SOMETHING to get me looking through the lens. I wasn't sure how it would go -- on either side -- but here I am at the half-way point and, so far, I've managed to keep up (or catch up). I've kept it simple, just a little bit mysterious, and it's been fun. I'm blogging it over here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Feather in cap

My local photography group held its first-ever judged competition last night. I entered two pieces -- in a field of 60 -- to be considered, judged, and critiqued by an esteemed panel of four. Web-IMG_5086The image above garnered 1st Place in the "Patterns" category, the only available category under which "Fourth of July Fruit Salad" seemed to fit. I also received a few requests for the recipe!

This was an Independence Day variation on last summer's green salad theme, consisting of green grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, Granny Smith apple, blueberries, currants, thinly sliced rhubarb, a few splashes of both lemon and lime juice (more lemon than lime), a drizzle of honey, and lots of basil. So refreshing! I can't wait for summer!

"Leaving Las Vegas" was my second entry which, unoffically, garnered second place (I think) in the "Landscapes" category (I had a good view of the final tally sheet).

There was great feedback on all of the images and I think we all learned a lot! It was a lot of fun and I can't wait 'til next time!

Ten on Tuesday: Movies

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Oscar-winning Movies

Oh my goodness, I started with a quickly compiled and already pared down list of 40!

1. To Kill a Mockingbird

2. Lawrence of Arabia

3. The Bridge on the River Kwai

4. The King and I

5. Braveheart

6. The Godfather, Part II

7. Oliver!

8. Funny Girl

9. The Sound of Music

10. Doctor Zhivago

That's today's list. On another day, there may be The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Miracle Worker, Gold Diggers of 1935, Spartacus, Pillow Talk, To Catch a Thief, Roman Holiday, Oklahoma!, The Quiet Man, Gentleman's Agreement, The Fully Monty, Capote, Fargo, Fiddler On The Roof, Moulin Rouge, Henry V, Out of Africa, Terms of Endearment, M*A*S*H, Love Story, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate... and why is Shawshank Redemption not on this list?

See you at the movies!

Shades of gray and red and green and gold

I had Friday off and the only time I left the house was when I stuck my foot out the front door late in the day to reach into the mailbox.

I knew I'd be well occupied for a good portion of Sunday, so decided that I had to make it a point to get out on Saturday!

I went to a local indoor farmers' market where I bought some yarn -- local yarn from local sheep -- to knit my Warm Hats. I didn't set out to do that, but there it was and I thought, WOW, there's some added OOMPH for my hats! The hats are going to be similar black-and-gray mash-ups of the Seaman's Cap and Turn A Square. I've been calling them Seaman's Square Caps (which rhymes with Sponge Bob Squarepants) (I only point it out because it makes me smile real big) (and I'm smiling real big right now...on the verge of a giggle... and I'll bet you are, too). I started the first cap on Saturday and knit a good bit during yesterday's football game.

I also bought some new shoes on Saturday... FINALLY! I bought some footwear (sandals) for biking last summer, but don't remember the time before that. I don't buy shoes very often and actually have very few, and what I do have is a) seasonal/limited use and/or b) falling apart! I also have a new bothersome thing sort of like a bunion but on top of the joint instead of the side, which made my last visit to a shoe store not very pleasant (not to mention another grumpy and/or disinterested male clerk). I was reaching a stage just this side of panic, knowing that I'd need some shoes before we traveled/traipsed and that I'd need time to break them in! I have hit the road running with brand new shoes before, but it is a very rare thing. I found some cute El Naturalist, but the color I want (Tibet RED) needed to be ordered.  I should have them in a week or so, and that's enough time.

You may have heard that there was a big football game last night. My team was in it. And won!

I thought of Sharon so often during the game. Her one big splurge when she lived out of state would be to purchase the NFL Ticket from whatever TV provider they had, and we had a long-time habit of a half-time phone call during those games!

As I went through Sharon's clothes, I came across a plain gold shirt -- no numbers, no logo, no big "G" (for Greatness), no green trim, nothing -- it's just the perfect green-and-gold gold. I thought, "Huh, this must be Sharon's game-day shirt." (To say that Sharon's style was understated would be an understatement!) Anyway, marring my own game-day sweatshirt with bright red paint spots, I decided to wear Sharon's, insetad,and we've won every game since! (I am especially happy about the victory over the Michael Vick and the Eagles, and like think of that one as a victory for Sharon and Gracie!)

The audio is not great on this video, and it's an old commercial, but it's been a favorite for a long time (as are those brats). I've been to a few games at Lambeau Field over the years -- a couple with Sharon, even, including an amazing play-off game against the Detroit Lions in the Barry Sanders days during which Sanders' rushing yards totalled -20 at one point -- and we were on TV during one of those face-in-the-crazy-crowd camera shots. Amazing!

Anyway, there's a wee bit of hoopla still happening in these parts. They pushed GLEE back last night so the local TV guys could talk to that would talk to them, and to watch people partying and fireworks in Green Bay. Uh-huh. I should just be glad that it aired before midnight.


That's right. I'm going to talk about knitting! I'm also going to talk about politics -- in the way that I always talk about politics here and that's by not actually talking about politics. The best way for me to talk about politics here is to mix it up with the knitting and let my needles do the talking.

image from
I'm going to knit warm hats for a couple of guys from Wisconsin -- one for Senator Herb Kohl and the other for Congressman Reid Ribble -- as part of the Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads project.

I don't remember exactly where, but I read about this project last week and filed it in the back of my brain under "Wouldn't That Be Something?" Now, I have been blogging for almost seven years -- but not just blogging... In those seven years I've become part of an online community of knitters and, oh! my goodness, I have come to know some of the most amazing people in the world -- people who also happen to knit (and/or crochet and/or spin) -- and I have been witness to, participant in, and even recipient of some of the most amazing things in the world dreamed up and accomplished by knitters. From knitting kitty beds or blanket squares for those in need of comfort to raising enough money for a fresh start or over a million dollars for worldwide relief. Uh-huh.

That's over $1,000,000 for WORLDWIDE relief.

It really could be something!

So, in a nutshell: Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads is a knitters' campaign to restore civility in politics begun by knitbloggers Twinsetellen and SpinDyeKnit. The idea is to knit hats -- which embody the concept of every stitch working for the common good -- for every Senator and member of Congress to illustrate the desire for our representatives to put down the poison pens and take up the business of crafting solutions to the various problems and challenges facing our country.

I love how Ellen put it in the letter she's enclosing with each hat she sends (paraphrasing):

Why a hat? A knit hat is an everyday comfort that meets a simple need for warmth. Everyone can use a good hat.

Civil political discourse also meets a simple need -- the need for government to have the best information and insight from many viewpoints. It would be an everyday comfort to me and many others if the airwaves were free of hate-filled political rhetoric, and it would lead to good government. Everyone can use good government.

Everyone can use a good hat. Everyone can use good government.

You can read more about it at the links above; there are also groups on Ravelry and on Facebook.

I am currently well underway -- after two failed attempts -- with my current project, so I will not be starting my hats until that is complete. Today is the start of a three-day weekend and I have a million things to do, but I'm thinking that I'll be working on hats by Super Bowl time, at the latest.

Lastly, today is National Wear Red Day.


Duncan curled up on the kitchen floor in front of the heat register -- it was that kind of night as the wind howled outside!


Ten on Tuesday: Bedside

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things On Your Nightstand/Bedside Table

Oh me, oh my, where shall I begin?

1. Firstly, it's a bookshelf and so there are lots of books -- books are on it, books are in it and, until recently, books were leaning up against it. DH ran the vacuum through there the other day, so the leaned joined the ranks of the stacked.

2. There's a fair bit of dust... it especially shows up on the lamp and on my alarm clock.

3. The little dish holds leaves and buds from an old lavender wand and some bits of scented soap. The little framed image of a child was Sharon's.

4. Books -- some I've already read, some I've started, some are waiting.

5. The turned wood bowl holds the silver money part of the change parfait.

6. When Sharon and I went to Vegas last May, I put many of my earrings in a small plastic container to pack in my suitcase... and that's where they remain. I've even added a pair or two.

7. Another turned wood bowl (both my dad and my dad are suppliers) full of "stuff." Some belt buckles/shawl clasps, tags cut from clothing, a cherub with a broken hand (waiting to be fixed).

8. Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. (One of my high school Home Ec teachers was named Wroblewski... it wasn't David, and I don't think they're related.) I just started reading this last night. It's the latest book club pick. I didn't pick it. Usually, I'm the one who picks the Wisconsin authors (David doesn't live here now, but he did and the book is set in Wisconsin) and I don't always feel that my picks are well received. I hope I like it.

9. With a fair bit of overnight snow, this turned out not to be a good morning for hitting snooze three times.

10. The organic lavender lotion that I put on my hands before bed every night -- and usually rub on my elbows and a little dab on my nose. I've never knit in my bedroom, so the big ol' row counter must have been riding around in my pocket with the hairbands. This is usually where I dump the contents of my pockets every night.

Ha. So there we are. My bedroom's a bit of a mess, as is my studio/office -- a lot of Sharon's stuff was dumped in both places -- and I'm working on it. And I certainly can't blame it all on her... a bunch of it is mine, too! I aim to change it all up and have a big clean-out soon. It's one of those domino things and I have to wait for the first piece to fall (it's not my play). The game will start soon.