Friday, October 10, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

It seems like just last month that I was working on Luc's senior photos, but here I am with Tasha. (And, like Luc, they're late.) But what do you think?
We were fighting the light, partly because we started late and partly because Tasha wanted to start at this little beach tucked away from the main drag which turned out to be a 15 minute hike from the car. And we're going to do some more, because she'd like a better variety of outfits and background. But for a last-minute thing, I think we've got a keeper or two.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I didn't get any knitting done last night, because I rushed home to make dinner and then to choir. Afterwards, a certain percentage of the choir usually adjourns to the pub at 52 Stafford to enjoy a pint and the live Irish music on Wednesday nights. (The fiddler is especially good, and the harpist was there last night.) Sean the bartender has an affable smile and a knack for remembering each customer's drink of choice, and it's a pleasant place to hang out all around. I haven't been in as much in recent times, but last night I felt honor-bound to be there to buy a drink in celebration of Tammy's birthday (and let her buy one to celebrate mine).

We talked about politics and bemoaned the dismal performance of our sports teams. Jokes were told, and old embarrassments were remembered fondly. And we mourned with Tammy over the fast decline of her father, who was diagnosed with brain cancer 2 months ago and is worried that he won't be able to vote in another month. (Short-term solution: absentee ballot. )

After I got home, Nora and I took a walk through the night, admiring the stars which appeared despite the moon's glare and taking in the sounds and smells of the night. (Nora spooked something at one point which might have been a possum.) And strolling along, with the evening's conversations steeping in the back of my mind, it hit me all over again how important it is to live in each moment. I get more good ideas and creative thoughts when I'm walking along with Nora and not "doing" anything than in twice as much time spent planning and brainstorming. And I can do more for my friends by simply being with them, hanging out and listening to them, then all the comfort food and platitudes could equal.

And in the end, no matter what my "to do" list says, we all win.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knitting Update

You'd think, with all the traveling I've done lately, that I would have mountains of carefully finished items to show you. Somehow, I have just not managed to be as productive on the knitting front as I would expect. What's worse, this coming Saturday is the last weekend of farmer's market, which means I have several special requests that are due. But here are the highlights of the items I'm currently concentrating on.

First, a basic mitred cotton shawl from my standard recipe. The lady who does the metal yard sculptures has offered to barter one of her items for a shawl, and specifically asked for one in exactly the same turquoise & chocolate colors as my own. I'm thinking I might do something just a little different along the trailing edge - maybe a triple cross stitch (not the correct name) like you will have seen in's Dream Swatch. In any case, I'm supposed to have it done by this Saturday, and you'll notice I have a little bit to go (even if this picture was taken before last night's debate, when I made some progress). I hate to admit I'm not going to make it, even if Chris is a very reasonable, down-to-earth person who lives close enough that late delivery is not really inconvenient. But on the other hand, I haven't yet picked out which item from her repertoire I'll be requesting in exchange. A small flock of the little birds, perhaps?

Next, my rendition of the Baby Yoda sweater designed by Cari Luna and available free on, in a "pool blue" color from Peaches & Creme (of course). It's a request for a blue-eyed baby girl, and I have a big funky blue & purple rubber button that I'm going to use for a closure instead of the ties. I just need to finish about 60% of the arms, which I'm doing simultaneously, and assemble the whole thing. If I concentrated on it, I could finish the sweater in an evening.

"If." Huh.

Next on our hit list is a smoke ring kind of thing made out of the leftover Glimmer Alpaca in EZ's broken rib stitch, accented with some really beautiful little crystal buttons from Katey's grandmother (acquired by way of Dan's sewing stash). This started out as a little something to amuse me on the trip to Maine, then became an intended gift for Ruth's birthday. About the time we were late for the party and I discovered that I didn't have the right needle to properly sew the buttons on to the edge of the piece, I gave up and brought Ruth a bottle of wine instead. At this point, I think it's going to cousin Julie in exchange for some pretty little silver hoops she gave me last weekend. Imagine it with 3 or 4 of the buttons attached along one end, so you could button it closed around your neck as a light, pretty neck wrap.

And finally, here's just a glimpse of some of the fabulous stuff I picked up at the Common Ground Fair. Socks would be one obvious option. Or I'm thinking about a baby sweater pattern which was originally intended for a thick & thin yarn, but might work as an extra-snuggly garment for fall outings. Or maybe a felted bag with some really intense colorwork? I'm thinking about a greek key pattern or something like that, and dyed indigo leather handles and base. Or maybe something completely different, depending on where my mind goes when I finally get around to it.

And where is the anniversary shawl, do you ask? Trust me, it has a place of honor in the portion of my brain which handles guilt. I'm going to finish it soon. Really.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trying To Let Go

Last night, due to a purely innocent and unintended sequence of events, I happened to find myself looking at an open Facebook chat conversation between my daughter and a young man I did not know. I swear, I only started reading it because I thought I was in my own login, rather than hers; but he had made an off-color comment that I would have loved to respond to in person. I was tempted to remove him as a friend on Tasha's behalf, a move that Facebook warns "cannot be undone." I was tempted to track him down and call him. I was tempted to track him down and call his mother. I finally just logged out of her account.

When I was her age, I'd already gotten into more trouble and had more near misses than I (as the mother of teens) now want to think about. I keep telling myself that she's got the brains, the tools and all the right reasons to make good choices, and we're getting to the point where I have to back off and let her deal with this stuff on her own. But sometimes it's hard.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cousins Weekend

Around the time Grandma passed, some of my "girl cousins" and I started talking about how Grandma had been the driving force behind many of our gatherings. We met in May, because it was Grandma's birthday. And we met at Thanksgiving, because Grandma's family had always done so and we were expected to be there. We were worried that with Grandma gone, we might just drift away from each other. So we hatched a plan to get together on a regular basis, just to do silly things and enjoy the benefits of family.

Last spring was the first "cousins weekend," an outing to Chicago. Kate, Christy and I (with Mary in tow as an honorary cousin) took the city by storm, and I will never forget our adventures tittering with the crowd during each reveal of Forgetting Sara Marshall, or singing along at the top of our lungs in a piano bar while the Asian guys at the next table tried to join in. It was fabulous, so much so that we decided to do it again.

And so, over the weekend I met up with Christy and Julie to crawl up a portion of the Southwest Michigan wine trail and attend an Indigo Girls concert in Kalamazoo. I drove around the lake on Friday night, with a slight delay after I realized 75 minutes into the trip that the concert tickets were on my kitchen counter. (Rick proved his wonderfulness once again by hopping into his truck and meeting me half way, thus saving me a lot of time). I got to St. Joe around 1:30 a.m., spent what was left of the night on Christy's couch, and the next morning we were off.
Karma Vista Winery is beautiful - it reminds me of what I expect Napa Valley wineries would look like, if I ever visited one. I picked up two bottles of their Starry Starry White (one for the wine gift basket we're putting together for the church bazaar auction, and one for myself); but they also had some very tempting cherry-based sauces and chutneys and such. I had to keep reminding my wallet to pace itself.

We also visited the Chocolate Garden and Grandpa's Cider Mill before meeting up with Julie at St. Julian's in Paw Paw. The Chocolate Garden's truffles are decadent, but I also found myself fascinated by all the old buildings on the property. And next door, Grandpa's Cider Mill has acres and acres of apples surrounding a shop that features a floor to ceiling view of the cider press in action as well as a huge variety of gourmet sauces, oils, jams, bakery, and of course cider. We walked out of there with a great loaf of crunchy bread and Basil-infused olive oil for munching after the concert; honneycrisp apples and apple cider donuts for breakfast; pumpkin butter and pear almond chai jam; and of course cider. We decided to skip Contessa Winery at the last moment, having spent a lot more time at Grandpa's than planned.

The St. Julian Winery is a lot more metropolitan than I expected - no rolling vinyards, just a little courtyard and a big building. But the wines they offer are top shelf. Sampling their port was like drinking 6 or 7 things in a row, as the flavors developed and unrolled across my tongue. But their Creme D'Or dessert wine took my breath away, and I had to cart some home.

We wandered over to the little winery in the waterworks building next door, but found their products to be unremarkable. (I tried the port, and it tasted like . . . port. A one-act show.) Just the same, we had a good time goofing around on the bridge in front of their building and generally acting silly.
We ended the evening with a wonderful meal at a tapas restaurant, followed by a wonderful concert, followed by a wonderful after-event period of laying around on Dad's big comfy wrap-around couch, sipping our beverages of choice. Topics were free-flowing and at times too private for a blog, but we talked about everything from religion and how much we missed family members who had gone before us, to pet peeves and favorite appliances. The topic of politics was strictly avoided, by common agreement.
The next morning we packed Dad's house back up, posed for a few pictures and made a last run at Meijers together, and went our separate ways. But we have each promised to immediately start planning for another April weekend in Chicago.
Cousins are a blessing.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This Is My Song

What a wonderful weekend.

I'll give you the whole story tomorrow, when I've had a little recovery time. There are photos, too - and precious little knitting. But 24 hours ago, I was sitting with Julie and Christy in a wonderful old theatre in Kalamazoo (the kind with a balcony and fake stars painted on the ceiling and bas-relief sculpture on the walls) and listening to Amy Ray and Emily Saliersthe (a/k/a The Indigo Girls) and their very special guest Kathleen Edwards do an absolutely stunning three part a capella version of This Is My Song, a hymn set to the tune of Finlandia:

This is my song, O God of all the nations
A song of peace for lands afar and mine
This is my home, the country where my heart is
Here are my hopes and dreams, my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

The audience was dead silent - except for me, since I knew the hymn from choir and couldn't resist humming along with the tenor line. But it was sad and hopeful and beautiful and a gorgeous example of just how good these women are, even if you take away their instruments.

And then they brought the house lights back up a bit, and a roadie ran on stage with instruments, and Amy & Emily rocked the house down.