Friday, April 30, 2010

Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.
~Dalai Lama

I wish I could live by the rules that the Dalai Lama lives by.  I'm not that good.  I am not always kind.  I try.  I think I do a fair job most of the time. 

But what does it mean to be kind? give this:

adjective,-er, -est.

1.of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person.

2.having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words.

3.indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane (often fol. by to): to be kind to animals.

4.mild; gentle; clement: kind weather.

5.British Dialect. loving; affectionate.
In my mind, I define "kind" as being nice, considerate, helpful.  All the things I was taught to be as a small girl.  I can't count the number of times I heard "Be nice" when I was growing up.  It usually involved letting someone else have their way and giving up wanting my own.  As a result, I don't often insist on my own way and often let others have theirs.  It feels bold to insist on doing MY thing MY way.  And slightly bad.  I do it more now as an adult than I did as a child (well, I get away with it more now). 
I am in a job where being kind to people is almost a prerequisite.  I work with people who are (in some cases) so damaged by their illness that it has changed their lives.  They're just looking for someone to help them feel stable.  So often, it only takes a kind word, a smile and an acknowledgement that you have "seen" them.  Fortunately, my coworkers are wonderful.   I have seen them all give the gift of kindness to people who see precious little of it in their lives.  One of my clients once said to me, "I love coming here.  I know when I walk in the doors, people will treat me with respect and I can relax.  I actually go ahhhh when I come in". That made me feel really good because that's what we strive for.  (I go aaahhhhh when I walk OUT of the building but that's a different story.)
I'm finishing up the week's work and getting ready for the weekend.  No big plans or anything even remotely exciting.  We're heading for the gym and then home for dinner and a movie.  Zombie Strippers.  Jealous?  You should be.  Who wouldn't want to watch a movie about a stripper who becomes a zombie and is so popular that all the other strippers want to be zombies, too?  Tomorrow and Sunday will be chores around the house and the yard, some knitting.  You know, life. 
And it's great.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We've had a rainy few days here and I noticed something on Monday on my way down Locust Street.  Locust St. is an old street as are most of the streets in Center City Philadelphia (not European old which is measured in centuries but American old.  I mean Dublin is really OLD), and the sidewalks are not very wide and they are brick instead of cement.  I think this is supposed to enhance the feeling of oldness but in reality it makes walking an adventure as the bricks have a tendency to shift and the walking surface can be uneven and twisted ankles are common.

Anyway, I was walking along with my one person umbrella to keep my head and most of my body dry and am confronted by several people carrying umbrellas that are big enough to cover entire small countries.  They almost spanned the width of the sidewalk.  I think they were originally golf umbrellas (they have no metal pieces to keep them from being lightning rods on a flat golf course) but I've noticed more and more people are carrying them out in public.  They're huge and the rest of us have to try to work our way around them on the sidewalk.  Of course as you walk past them (moving your umbrella out of their way) you end up with water dripping on you from the edge of their enormous umbrellas.

I ranted about this to Pk on the way home.  We decided it's probably one of two things.  One, people are just not concerned with how their actions effect others.  They want to be dry and so what if it inconveniences you or anyone else.(I hate to think that. I like to think people are considerate)  Two, they just don't think about the consequences and just want to be dry.  I like to be dry as much as the next person.  Spring rain can be cold and bone chilling.  But, I try to be sensitive to the people around me.  I'd just like to outlaw these big umbrellas. 

I noticed something about my body last night.  Underneath the layer of adipose tissue (I think that sounds way better than Fat) that has resided upon my torso for a number of years, there are muscles struggling to see the light of day.  Actual muscles.  I know they're there because I can feel them.  And I can just start to see the hint of some of them.  We have been doing sit ups with weights (up to 25 pounds which I can hardly lift but I've managed to do 10 situps with the weight) and it's making a difference.  I've worked up to just over 20 minutes on the elliptical machine and can do over a mile and a quarter in that time.  Not a fast time but better than I was doing 3 months ago.  These are small steps.  Baby steps.  But steps, nonetheless.  I will admit, I still don't like it.  I wish I could get excited about the gym like some people but it's not there.  I don't dread it but I don't look forward to it.  I am pleased to see some progress.  I can walk up the stairs at the train station without bending over and gasping for breath.  When I'm at the bottom of the stairs (there are three flights of 16 stairs each), I feel like Frodo at the bottom of Mt. Doom.  I put my head down and slog upward.  Pk says I'm exaggerating but I figure whatever gets me to the top.

I  do look forward to knit night which is tonight.  I have some bags of shavings from the cedar tree that Pk helped his friend cut up.  They smell so good and I'm going to take some with me and see if anyone wants to put some in with their stash. 

And that's all there is here in sunny South Jersey.  It's a bit cool for this time of year but there are no complaints from me.  All too soon, it will be hot and humid and I'll be wondering why we don't live on the North Pole.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yesterday, I got up at 8:45, took a shower, gathered the laundry, had some breakfast, made a cup of coffee, grabbed my knitting,  and sat outisde in the sunshine.  It was a spectacularly beautiful Saturday and I could NOT make myself do chores indoors.  I did the laundry (the importance of clean underwear cannot be overrated) but the rest of the morning and afternoon, I sat in the chair and worked on my shawl and Pk's socks.  I had some  company.  Hobbes decided he had to lay on top of the bag that holds my shawl.  He likes it when we sit outside with him.  I think he likes the company,too.  I called Kate and she came over and we knitted together peacefully, just soaking up the rays.  (I actually soaked up more rays than was good for me and have the sunburn to prove it).

Pk went to a tool auction in North Jersey and bought a compass plane.    It's a plane that's used to shape convex/concave shapes.  Like, say, a spinning wheel.  It's a cool looking tool.  He was thrilled to find one in such good shape.  It just needs to be restored and made useful.  He also bought a huge chisel and some other small bits.  All in all, a good day for him.  We had some dinner and hit the bookstore for some reading and knitting and just relaxing. 

Today, it's not so nice and sunny.  We are in the middle of a weak storm system and it's raining halfheartedly.  We got up and went to the gym (where the cycling class was whooping and hollering, it sounded like someone was being slaughtered),  went to brunch and then did the grocery shopping.  We chose to go to a different store today and found these.  CocoPops.  Now, when I hear that name, I picture a bird hopping up and down shouting "I'm cuckoo for Coco Puffs" but when I was a kid, I called them Coco Pops.  These are nothing like that.  I was in the grocery store looking for Pk (it's a different store and was very crowded) and suddenly heard a loud popping sound.  I looked and there was this machine shooting out discs.  I thought they were tortillas at first but when I walked over, I saw the machine said CocoPops.  They're kind of like rice cakes but thinner and made with wheat, corn, rice and sea salt.  Nothing else.  I asked the employee about them and he gave us a taste.  They're really good (and only 16 calories each!) so we bought some.  Of course I'll spread them with almond butter so that whole "no fat" thing flies right out the window.  We bought them because we liked them.  I don't buy diet foods or look for low fat (except in milk).  We just try to eat sensibly of the foods we like. 

So, now it'a almost 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I can't figure where the day went.  The food is put away and we have plans to grill some burgers and have some pilaf with them for dinner.  I have time now to sit and start getting myself into the "go to work" mindset for tomorrow. 

I read Geek Knitter and was enthralled as she made a lovely green shawl called Ancient Woodlands.  It was part of a lace club last year.  I loved the tree shapes that grew toward the middle.  I was happy to learn that the pattern has been made available for sale.  I went and ordered it and some green alpaca/silk laceweight to make it with.  It's for when I finish Evenstar and start going through lace withdrawl.  Now, I just have to wait for the yarn to come in the mail.  I am almost finished clue 6 on Evenstar and then only have a beaded edging.  It went so fast. 

Here's hoping you are all having a good weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today is a double "holiday" here in the US.  Well, maybe not holiday, but "day of note".  First, it's Earth Day.  Sometime in the 1970's some people decided we should have a day to celebrate the Earth.  I think of it as the ultimate Mother's Day.  (I think of the Earth as a warm, nuturing female.  It would never occur to me that Earth might be male)  When the girls were little, we celebrated Earth day each year by taking the day off.  The five of us would make a lunch that used no disposable products.  All food was packed in reusable containers and cloth napkins were used.  We took a picnic in the woods and picked up trash.  We would drive our favorite trails and pick up bags and bags of trash.  We told the girls that the woods weren't really free and this was the price for enjoying them all the rest of the year.  Some years we picked up 4 or 5 large trash bags full in a short time.  It felt good to be doing something for a place we loved.

My girls are far from little and everyone has busy lives and those days seem so innocent and far away.  The memory of them is sweet and I like to think that we started a small seed of concern for their environment.

Today is also Take Your Child to Work Day.  I'm not sure if this is something that is practiced worldwide but it's popular here in the US.  I believe it was started as a way for our daughters to see what kind of work their mothers and fathers did all day.  It was to encourage girls to strive toward jobs in the business world.  (Originally it was Take Your Daughter to Work).  My girls have all come to work with me at one time or another.  They usually enjoyed it and learned a lot.  I haven't had any children to come to work with me for a few years and I didn't notice any bulletins from the hospital about it this year.  In years past, they had all kinds of activities aimed at introducing children to careers in the health care field.

We remembered it this morning as we sat on the train and saw children.  Now, we see kids on the train in the summer. Philadelphia is a popular tourist destination and the train saves parking.  There are not usually children in the morning during rush hour.  There was a father with his two sons who were watching out the windows and exclaiming over the world going by in a quiet way.  There was a mother with her two daughters who were brimming with enthusiasm about everything.  I had to smile as we listened to "Are we there, yet?  Which stop is ours?  Will we get another train?  We have to WALK?  What will we eat for lunch?  What time will we come  home" and so on and so on.  Mom was patient and explained (for what was probably not the first time, nor the second) what the day would entail.  It brought back fond memories of taking my own daughters out into my work world.

Kate and I went to knit night last night.  There were a lot of people there.  It's kinda cool that it's an amorphous group.  I was working on some wash cloths (with cotton which is not my favorite thing to knit with.  I knit tight so it's hard to k2tog with cotton, let alone p2tog tbl).  Kate re-cast on for her Evenstar shawl and got it well started.  I have to admire her stick-to-it-iveness.  She's had to restart several times and this last time is because of accidental "frogging by dog".  Her dog got a hold of it and ran around the room with it in his mouth.   I finished clue 5 last night and put in a secure lifeline and now am waiting for clue 6 to be released tomorrow afternoon.  I know my clue 5 looks a little wonky in one part and I can't figure out what I did but I think some of the yo's are just bigger than others and hopefully they'll block out and look more even.  All in all, I'm pleased with it.

We learned that a semi-local (it's about an hour and a half away) yarn store has a monthly 'spin in' and this Sunday is the day.  We're thinking about going.  Pk is going up to the same area for a tool auction on Saturday and sarcastically said we could go up for the auction and then stay overnight and then go to the spin-in the next day.  It actually sounds like a decent plan.  The yarn store is in New Hope, PA and it's a touristy town.  Expensive and crowded on nice weekends.  It's artsy in what I think of as a self conscious way.  The only problem is that Kate works Saturday  night and wouldn't be able to come.  Since she really wants to go, too, I wouldn't feel right going up on Saturday without her.  We can file this away as a possible future trip or the two of us could just go up on Sunday morning with wheels in tow.  Decisions, decisions.  If that's the hardest thing I have to decide, then I'm doing alright.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Someone asked me a little while ago how I've managed to stay married for 28 years.  My (witty) retort was "I didn't get divorced".   Although that answer was facetious, it's true.

We could have the Love discussion and talk about "soul mates" and things like that.   I believe in Love and also in love.  I love my husband, probably (no definitely) more now than I did when we got married.  I love him more because I know him better.  And I hope this trend continues.

But staying married is about more than love.  It's about getting through the day. Day after day.  Most of our days have a simple routine:  We get up.  We shower, eat and go to work.  We come home and eat and hang out and then go to bed.  We get up.  Day after day and the days add up so very fast. 

It's remembering that everything passes.  Bad things happen but they pass.  Good things happen but they pass, too.  Most of our time has been spent somewhere in between.  We try to notice when things are good and appreciate them so when things are bad, we can cope.  Knowing that I'm not facing tough times alone and that there is someone who is there to lean on helps, too. 

Doesn't sound very romantic, does it?  Yet, I am a romantic.  I believe in miracles and happy endings.  I also believe in promises.  We stood in front of our families and friends and said "till death do us part" and I believe we meant it then and still mean it today.

So, in my mind, that's how we stayed married for 28 years.  That and I can't imagine my life without Pk
I woke up with this rattling around in my head this morning.  It sprang out of a conversation at work with a coworker.  So, what do you think?   These are my thoughts.  How about you?

In knitting news, this was a rip-out of a week.  I ripped out most of the foot of Pk's sock because some of the stitches had fallen off the needle back at the gusset decrease point and when I replaced them, I misplaced one of the gusset decrease stitches and it was crooked.  Would anyone ever notice?  Probably not.  But I  kept looking at it and finally decided to just bite the bullet and rip it out.  Amazing how relieved I felt when I made the decision and did it. 

I also ripped out the latest clue on the Evenstar.  I noticed that some of my repeats had some yo's that didn't seem to be positioned correctly.  I kept looking at it and asking myself if I could live with it.  I could probably have lived with it if all of them were the same but because some of them (most of them actually) were correct, I couldn't keep from comparing them.  So I sat and started to rip out the stitches.  After I pulled the needles out of the 620 stitches that make up the round, I discovered my lifeline had pulled out of about a quarter of the round.  I carefully rewound the yarn onto the cone and as I got to the last row, I picked up the loose stitches and then safely made it to the part that still had the lifeline.  I hadn't put a knot in the lifeline because the yarn is so thin that the knot kept getting caught in the stitches.  It took about an hour to reposition the yarn on the needles.  Now I have a week to work on this clue before the next one comes out. 

The sun is trying to peek out of the clouds here.  It's a cool spring morning.  I'm looking at a tree full of "helicopters" just waiting for a windy day to spread them all over.  See all the brownish bits on this tree?  Soon, they'll be all over the yard.  I love them.  I'm sure the squirrels do, too but I love to watch them fly through the air.  Like a fleet of small helicopters.

 We seem to be in slow-mo today.  Pk is playing on the computer and I'm getting ready to have some breakfast and start the laundry.  If the sun comes out, the bikes are coming out, too.  We'll see if all these weeks at the gym have a payoff and I can ride my bike further than a block without wanting to die.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I saw this on a blog I was reading( Nora's blog.)  I went to the site and plugged my blog address into the words option to see what would come up.  This is a selection of words from my blog chosen randomly.  I found it interesting.  It's here if you want to try.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Did you know woodworkers have stashes, too?  This is the log that Pk brought home after helping his friend take down the tree.  It's cedar and it's too bad blogger doesn't have smell-o-vision because the smell is wonderful.  If you look at the left side of the log, you can see the hose holder that was nailed to the tree and the tree started to grow around it.  Pk will have to remove it carefully.  I have already put in my request for bags of the shavings to put in with my yarn. (the end is painted white to keep it from drying out)
That other wood there in the photo is from some of the trees that have come down in our yard.  Pk's stash. 

Sunday was such a lovely day.  I sat outside in one of the best designed chairs.  I think of it as my knitting chair.  It's really just a folding quad chair but it has cup holders which miraculously are just the size to hold a cake or in this case, a cone of yarn.  That's the Evenstar shawl reclining in the sunshine.  I'm halfway through clue 5 and in a week and a half clue 6 comes out.  One more after that (clue 7 with the beaded edging) and the shawl will be done. 

I finished spinning the yarn I think of as Sunrise.  It's a laceweight single and the colors are the colors of, well, a sunrise.  There's some yellow and orange and pink in it.  It'll make a great lacy scarf or small shawl.  It's about 4 ounces but I'm not sure as to yardage.

Spring came in so quickly and then we had the week of summer weather.  It just about killed off all of the spring bulbs.  I managed to get one or two photos of the tulips.  I love how the sunlight seems to glow within this one.  It's time to get the beds ready for some plants.  We pulled out the mums after last fall.  The ones we put in really weren't designed to be perennials and were looking shabby.  I'd like some color out front and some vegetables out back.  Not a lot.  I really don't enjoy gardening and never have.  I like the results but would just as soon let someone else get dirt under their fingernails.  I would like a couple tomato plants and some basil and probably some bush string beans.  Fortunately, Pk loves to garden and is an organic gardener so we'll be able to go outside and pick the tomatoes right off the plants and eat them.

I am a huge fan of comics.  I like all kinds of them from Girl Genius to Diesel Sweeties.  Last fall I ordered a t shirt from R.Stevens at diesel sweeties and he included a bumper sticker.  I am generally not a fan of bumper stickers and don't put them on my car.  This one however, tickled my fancy and so I put it on my car window.  A small bit of the corner got scraped off with the ice and snow.  I like a little whimsy now and then.  Don't you? 

We had a good workout and have just finished dinner.  I smell faintly of chlorine from the whirlpool but I feel good.  (I did get in the shower but I guess I didn't wash all of it off).  Not a bad Monday.  Work was busy but not terribly so.  I ended up spending most of my lunch time with one of my clients.  He wanted some information and I don't  have the heart to say "No, it's lunchtime".  I guess when I get to that point where I can turn someone away just because it's lunchtime, it'll be time to turn in my keys and retire.  But for now, I can eat granola bars and drink my milk on the train on the way home and spend my lunchtime with someone who needed my time more than I needed a granola bar.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pk and I went to the gym this morning.  We were beat last night and decided to put off the workout until this morning.  We were there by 9 and had some breakfast and then he went to help a friend take down the rest of a tree lost in one of the winter storms and then to my brother's to look at another downed tree.  I colored my hair and then I did the laundry and cleaned the bedroom.  The interesting thing here (at least to me) is that the workout has become part of what we do.  While I can feel my muscles (I added some weights this morning), I don't feel all done in.  I feel able to go about my day and do my stuff.  That's a shift.  I've also noticed that I am more careful about what I eat.  I declined desert at one of my favorite Italian restaurants last night.  Tiramisu!  I love tiramisu but didn't want it.  I had a brief thought of all the sweating at the gym and suddenly the million calories didn't seem so appetizing. 

I finished my clue 4 of the Evenstar shawl just in time for clue 5 to come out.  Only two more clues and it'll be done.  I love this thing.  I'm not sure where I'll wear it but I will certainly show it off.  It's such a pretty piece of lace.  I took it to knit night since clue 4 was a fairly easy part and got to show it off for a bit.  It was properly admired.  Once I got the laundry under way, I sat downstairs in the bright sushine and worked on it for a while.  I've done a few rows and so far so good.  I need to take this slow since the life line that I put in at the end of clue 4 has pulled halfway out and the thought of having to reknit the whole clue would break my heart.

Otherwise, the weekend is a normal, chore filled one this week.  I have to go shopping tomorrow but that's it.  The ground is almost dry enough to think about digging up the garden but it's still awfully muddy.  And the temps are more in the normal range today.  Cool and breezy.  The excessive heat this week prematurely wilted the spring bulbs.  Those flowers can stand up to snow but not constant heat.  All the daffodils, hyacniths and grape hyacinths have gone already.  The tulips are blooming but they'll be gone soon if this wind keeps up.  Maybe that's why we like these flowers so much.  Because they're so fleeting.

I gave the Patonyle Go with the Flow socks to Emily for her birthday.  She seemed to like them (what's not to like about handknit socks?).  She's been spinning the silk hankie she bought and has some beautiful scarlet silk yarn to show for it.  I'm working on Pk's "fire socks" as he calls them.  He asked if the foot could be plain and so I'm just knitting around and around in stockinette down the long feet of the socks.  They look great.  Bright but not obnoxiously so.

Not a very exciting weekend around here but like I said before, I like boring.  Boring is underrated and under appreciated.  Work was busy this week and I am enjoying the lack of a schedule.  Pk is playing Left 4 Dead, a zombie killing game.  It's a fairly gory game and I have to try not to keep glancing over at the computer screen.

I hope you are all having a restful, restorative weekend.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm sitting at my desk waiting for our last appointment of the day to show up.  He's not ususally late so I expect him to be here any time now.

The really cool thing is that my office is on the second floor and the window has a tree branch outside it.  The tree is an ornamental pear which has  lovely delicate blossoms all over it right now.  For about 3 days each year these trees look like large snow balls and then the tiny petals start flying all over. 

Since my window is tree level and there is a breeze, the little petals are flying into my office and every once in a while I get showered with them.  The first time, I looked up puzzled and there were all these petals in the air around me.  How cool is that?  Now they're all over the floor and chair by the window but since I'm not the one who vacuums, I don't care.  I love seeing them float all over.  It was just a little bit of whimsy in an otherwise busy Tuesday.

The temps here are summer-like and we're not used to them yet.  My summer clothes are in the attic but it's really too soon to take them out.  Fortunately, there are some t shirts in the closet and I always leave out at least one pair of shorts.  Oh, the shock of the white legs!

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April is the month I started this blog.  According to the blogger stats, I've written 569 posts and 9739 people have visited this site since April of 2007.

Three years since I sent those first posts flying out into internet space.  I've met some really great people and learned some new craft techniques with the help and encouragement of those people.  I have shared the triumphant and not-so-triumphant moments of my life and have leaned on the words and support which were offered.  I've shared your good and bad moments and hopefully been of some support with a word where it was needed.

One of the women at knit night said she never posted.  She is on ravelry but has never posted anything because she doesn't like the idea of her words going out into the world.  I get this.  One of the things I learned as a young person is that while you can take words back and people may forgive you, you can't unsay them and people often don't forget.

Short story.  When I was young, my sister and I attended a church fairly close to our house.  My dad dropped us off and picked us up.  He told us NEVER to walk along Atlantic Avenue (which ironically is now the street behind my house, the one with the railroad tracks) because there are no sidewalks and cars zoom down that street.  Well, this particular Sunday, he was running late or we were early and we decided to walk to my grandparents' house (which was between the church and our house) to surprise them.  You can probably guess what happened.  My dad got to the church and we weren't there and he panicked.  He drove to his parents' house to use the phone and there we were.  Instead of being glad (well, I'm sure he was glad but at that moment, glad was not what we saw) he yelled.  He was a good yeller and this was a doozy.  He yelled about us not walking along Atlantic Ave and not being there.  We hadn't walked along Atlantic Ave but he didn't ask us or let us say anything.  He assumed and just yelled.  It wasn't until much later in the day that my mother asked what had happened and he apologized and told us never to leave the church without him again.  I still have not forgotten the feeling of being yelled at. 

So, I learned to think carefully before I say something that could possibly cause harm.  I pause first and try the words out and then if I don't see any hurtful consequences, it's ok.  I developed a rather thick filter between my brain and my mouth (or fingers).  I didn't yell at my kids (I think yelling demeans everyone involved) that I can remember.  If I raised my voice, they knew it was BAD.  As a result, they (I think) felt comfortable talking to me about what was going on in a way I never felt with my parents.

As far as posting goes, I am aware that even if you delete something, as long as one person has read it, it's never truly gone.  So, I pay attention to what I say.  I don't see the point in writing things that are hurtful or angry-making.  It might make me feel better for just a few seconds but then what? 

I am not a polyanna.  I don't think the world is a place of only unicorns and rainbows.  I know there is ugliness and nastiness and just plain meanness, too.  I choose to dwell on the positive and I choose to notice the good and to deal with the ugly but not glorify it.  And I think I have been fairly successful.  When my children tease me about there being "a miracle in every square inch" I know I've made a point. 

So, I guess I'll continue to put my words out there and continue to share in the lives of the people I've met and to share mine.  What a great community.

Today I have some cooking for dinner tomorrow and I have to make the fixins for tacos for Em's birthday.  I put the baked beans in the crock pot last night and I woke up several times to the smell of molasses and onions and bacon.  MMMMMMM.  I cooked the potatos and eggs for the potato salad and have to assemble it and then I have to bake a babka.  The tacos are easy and so is the pan of red beans and rice.  If I make everything ahead and put it into baking dishes, all we'll have to do is put it in the oven and reheat it and there will be no work for anyone.  My kinda meal.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope your day tomorrow is a happy one filled with quiet pleasures and joy.

Happy Sunday!  I am sitting here working on my sweater made with the cashmere yarn my husband gave me for my birthday last year. I’m further...