Archive for June, 2012

June 27, 2012

Lance Corporal Frost on Leave

It was a surprise and joy that Alex was able to get a week’s leave. He arrived home just two weeks ago and we were able to spend a wonderful seven days with him.

Here are my boys lounging on the new deck. Please note Alex’s remarkable farmer’s tan. This was just after Peter and Alex went swimming in the pool with the broken heater. It was a “frosty” 72 degrees.

Everyone loves hanging out on the deck. It may have been three years in the making with thousands in legal bills, but it is a great deck and it is completely compliant with all town regs.

One of the highlights for the guys was going to a Yankee/Mets game at Yankee Stadium. It was a perfect summer day and they had a great time. Yankees won 5-4 so all was perfect. We also enjoyed several lovely dinners on the deck and Peter really got into drinking beer so the three of them had great fun trying different craft brews.

Oddly enough they don’t serve New York bagels with cream cheese at Camp Pendleton. Peter got Alex some special cream cheese with jalapenos and lox which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

Alex was home for Father’s Day which made that extra special. We had a joint celebration of Alex having been home and Father’s Day on Saturday night.

Here is a surprised looking Dad. Well, not really. He had chosen and ordered his own Father’s Day present and I wrapped it up. It was just what he wanted.

This is what a Marine looks like after he’s been out with his friends until 3 a.m. and has enjoyed beer, tequila, gin an heaven knows what else. It was a quiet last day before we took our Marine to the airport. All in all, I think he got the mothering, relaxing, carousing, and feeding that he needed. And I got to hug the fellow every time I laid eyes on him.

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June 24, 2012

WILD by Cheryl Strayed

So far this summer has been reading heavy. I have been fortunate enough to have discovered a string of good books. Wild by Cheryl Strayed may be topping the bestseller lists and need no promotion, but I truly loved this book and felt it deeply.

Of course WILD is selling well because Cheryl wrote an amazing book. She is a strong writer, has written a memoir with great depth and the adventure of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but I connected with this book on many personal levels. Perhaps others are, too.

Cheryl made the decision to hike the PCT seemingly inexplicably at the lowest point in her life. Hers was a physical journey along the trail, but I related to her story deeply having just finished my own journey during what I suppose could be the lowest point of my life. Cheryl had lost her mother to cancer and had ended her marriage to a man she loved but couldn’t be married to. She had engaged in self-destructive behavior and was struggling to find a direction or meaning in her life.

My journey was the two plus years spent in the wake of a long and deeply fulfilling stretch of employment. With no expectation of a change in status, I was suddenly thrust into different circumstances. Shortly thereafter, I, too, lost my mother. Interestingly Cheryl’s mother was named Barbara, but called Bobbie (different spelling though)  like my own. While I did not embark on a long, physically challenging hike, I could relate to much of what Cheryl went through from my own experiences doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walks. I may not have been on the trail for 80 days, but with all the training, I had some of the same experience. As I read I often wished I had had the courage and vision Cheryl had, perhaps I should have gone off to hike a trail rather than slog through my journey seated at desk and computer. Would I have gotten to the same end point or perhaps a better one?

It would be tempting to say that Cheryl’s journey ended at the Bridge of the Gods and that my journey ended a few weeks ago when I became re-employed, but, of course, that is not the case. Our lives are made up of many journeys. Some have clear end points, some have physical destinations and others are more internal journeys of discovery. It matters less what form the journey takes and much more what you take from the journey.

June 17, 2012

Summer Knitting and WIPS

There is a bag of brand new yarn sitting in the Blue Room* waiting for me. This yarn was bought in April at Webs in Northampton when I was at the Friends of Smith College Libraries board meeting. This yarn was was purchased to make two sweaters for Ellie. One is an adaptation of a design by Fiona Ellis from her book, Inspired Fair Isle. The other is a pattern I saw in Knitter’s I believe that just looked like something Ellie should have. Ellie was with me and approved both choices and picked her colors and yarn.

I have written about my yarn diet which has been ongoing (sort of) for the past three years. Having accumulated a shocking amount of yarn, I decided I needed to stop purchasing. I felt almost nauseous at the thought of so much yarn. Like I had eaten a big, heavy meal and needed to go on an instant diet. There have been a few caveats to this diet–one is purchasing yarn with which to knit Ellie sweaters. I have written about that previously I believe. There have been a few other slips, falls off the wagon so to speak. One was a little problem with the Sock Yarn Club at Knit Purl in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t keep up with the Sock Club, but I loved the way they packaged the kits. I could knit socks for a very long time with the stockpile of sock yarn which kept growing until I finally got the strength to not re-up. Another too big meal until I pushed away from the table.

So, the bag of new yarn is calling to me, but I am not listening. My fingers are in my ears. NaNaNaNa!  I have decided instead that I need to devote the summer to working through my WIPS (works in progress to non-knitters). I think it is the logical extension of the yarn diet.

Scattered about the Blue Room and in the Yarn Corner in our basement are a panoply of projects in various states of completion. I always have multiple projects on needles, but I also have to confess that I stall out sometimes and things just sort of sit. Using the new yarn for Ellie’s sweaters as the carrot, I am going to try to finish off some of these lingering projects. I can’t work on Ellie’s sweaters until I knock off a few WIPS.

The first one I picked up again is a mitred scarf kit in alpaca that I must have started close to eight years ago. I know I was knitting on it in Auckland which must have been back in 2004 or so. I picked it up a couple of weeks and have finished knitting the squares and am in the process of crocheting the edging. It gets a beaded fringe and then it will be done. That will be one down. One less bag of yarn sitting around the house.

The next project I re-commenced is also in alpaca. It is called Jaywalking by Twisted Sisters. Knit on size three needles, this thing has taken on a life of its own.

It is ultra wide and required long row after row of knitting on small needles. I have finally finished the body and am working on the “corded tuck” which I don’t quite understand. After that I need to do the entrelac and then just seam it up. I am going to nail this one once and for all. Than I shall move on to another and another. I want to get my total of WIPS in progress under control by August 1st so I can have begun working on Ellie’s sweaters before she returns from Peru. It is my plan.

*While we hardly live in a mansion, we have developed the habit of naming the rooms in our house. We have the Blue Room, the Green Room, etc. It is kind of fun to me to call them colors rather than by purpose.

June 11, 2012

Weekend Stream of Consciousness

Happiness is the onset of summer. So many great things happen, not the least of which is throwing open the windows, enjoying the fresh air and breezes and playing outside.

This was a busy weekend beginning Friday with Ellie’s departure for Peru. They actually have spent the weekend in Miami in training, but tomorrow they fly to Lima and then Cuzco. Ellie now knows that she will be teaching nutrition and hygiene to mostly children and she will also be playing with the kids–something Ellie has always done with happy abandon.

The sadness of seeing Ellie depart for nine weeks was leavened by the arrival of Alex on Saturday morning. Our most favorite Marine will be home with us for a week. He looks fantastic and it is an absolute joy to have him home.

Saturday Peter appeared with two of his friends, Eric and Allison. Although we had heard lots about them, this was the first time we had met them. They ended up staying for dinner and we had a delightful time dining on the deck on a gorgeous summer evening. It was great fun and all the more special because it is fairly rare for Peter to entertain.

After three years in the making our deck is everything we wanted it to be and the plantings are doing phenomenally well. I think our neighbors must like looking over at the deck and the array of blooming things.

This year’s garden to date

Saturday and Sunday, I was very happy to putter at home. I distributed 20 bags of mulch around the garden beds and worked in my vegetable garden.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have abandoned the spoke pattern for planting and have no fountain of sunflowers in the middle. It is, however, coming along nicely.

The sage, thyme and rosemary made it through the mild winter

Also new to the garden this year are peas, carrots, eggplant. Cucumbers and tomatoes make a reappearance.

Sunday Alex, Peter and Jim went to the Yankees/Mets game. I was not invited and, had I been invited I would have declined with alacrity. They had a great time and the Yankees won which made it even better. They returned home tired and sunburned to lounge on the deck with suds.

Even though the guys were gone most of the day, I was not alone. I had my faithful assistant and gardening companion to keep me company.

Of course, after the gardening was over, some hammock time was de rigueur. My mother’s day present was a new hammock frame. Dakota likes to lie under the hammock. I read with my eyes open and sometimes closed. The view is delightful.

One final pleasure right now are the orchids purchased on my field trip with Lauren to Venamy. Both orchids are in rapturous bloom and each time I see them it is a delight.

The Phalaenopsis has been blooming for six weeks and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

My Sharry Baby Oncidium is now blooming as well and the amazingly subtle scent drifts through the house.

I don’t believe I have ever written a post with less form and structure. What holds this narrative together? Well, I guess it would be contentment and happiness. With so many beautiful and beloved things around me, how could I ever be less than happy and content?

June 3, 2012

Two-Berry Kinda Girl

This is perhaps an indiscreet post. There are some things one shouldn’t really expose about oneself or write about. I’ve thought long and hard about this, but we’re all friends here so I am going to share something a bit embarrassing and, well, indiscreet.

For years I have suffered from an addiction. It isn’t pretty to have to talk about this, but I have been totally and completely addicted to my Blackberry. It just fits right into my palm. I can carry it anywhere or I can put it in my purse. I am never without it. There have been a few times when I have failed to re-charge in a timely fashion and I have to tell you the result is not good. Once or twice I have failed to replace it in my purse and left the house without it. I kid you not, my hands were shaking. I was out of touch. Untethered. Who knows what could be happening–I certainly wouldn’t.  As I said, this is rough stuff, but I knew you could handle this level of honesty and not let it affect our relationship.

Of course, the need to have my Berry with me is one thing. What I do with it is quite another. It doesn’t matter the day of week, the time of day, my location; I check my email, texts and messages compulsively. My family will tell you. Even on vacation, I can slip that little puppy out of my purse and just have a quick peek. Just in case. There could be a major development. Some key transmission of information and data and I would need to know it.

My Beautiful Berries

Keeping all of this tawdry drama in mind, you can probably imagine how I feel now that I am employed and have not one, but two Berries!! Look at these babies. My Purple Berry is my work Berry. It is a Blackberry Bold 9930. This puppy is hot. She is sleek and her keys have great click-like movement. Twitter feeds are gorgeous on her and so is Facebook. She is one hot Momma. My Red Berry is for personal use. She is a Blackberry Curve 9330–a compact little minx and she has everything I need to stay in touch with my family and friends. She may not be quite as big as Purple Berry, but she brings messages of love and what’s needed from the grocery store, so she’s got a special place in my heart.

So, there you have it. My subway rides are orgiastic moments of Blackberry checking. First one, then the other. I get it all done. My train rides follow suit. Purple Berry first? Red Berry waits her turn. They’re patient and they know they each have their place in my heart. After all…

I am a Two-Berry Kinda Girl.

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