Summer Solstice – a little different this year

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. For the past two years on this day, I’ve been knitting from sun-up to sundown to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease in honor of my mother who passed away after a long decline with this illness.

This year, however, I’m really busy with volunteering as president of our lake association and this is the season where all the planning (or sometimes the lack of planning) comes to fruition and I have to take the morning to accomplish some lake tasks – register our DASH (pontoon boat for suction harvesting invasive milfoil) boat, pick up some plastic boxes to store papers so they won’t be eaten by mice in storage, etc.) And I have a couple of phone calls to make as well. By the time I actually get to sit down to knit, it will be noon at the earliest – and I was out of the house before 9am.

But as I knit today, I’ll be thinking about my mother and the disease that she so feared as a younger woman. I remember her saying things like, “I must be getting Alzheimer’s,” when she forgot something. If there’s a reality of manifesting your own destiny, then I’d say my mother did just that. She was forgetting things that mattered by the time my children we in elementary school and she was in her mid-sixties. My age. She forgot her purse when we went to the grocery store, she forgot to take the emergency brake off when she was driving the car, she forgot that she’d already mixed the mayonnaise mixture for potato salad. She couldn’t organize things like the grocery list and shopping for groceries so she said that there was enough even though there wasn’t. She forgot how to feed her cat and would stand in the middle of her kitchen with a can of cat food and couldn’t figure out what else she needed to get the food to the cat. She forgot how to make coffee in her coffee pot so she would walk to the local restaurant for her coffee and say that she liked the walk in the morning. She left her purse at the muffin shop, and the jewelry store, and forgot it when she went to the gas station. The list is lengthy. She forgot so much that we couldn’t leave her alone with the grandchildren and that was very hurtful. We had to take away her keys to the car eventually and hire people to help her and care for her. And eventually we had to find her a home in an assisted living care home. None of us enjoyed any of that.

And then mom forgot who we were.

She lived for ten years after her diagnosis. Watching our mother and grandmother fade away was so sad. The kids didn’t want to see her at the end, preferring to remember her as the vibrant, active, fun, happy grandmother. She became agitated and tearful, she couldn’t speak and finally she was bedridden, curled in fetal position, hands atrophied, gaunt, empty-eyed. She passed away in the fall of 2008. She was 76 years old.

I’ll knit today for my mother and in hopes that a cure will be found so that families and victims of this horrid disease don’t have to experience it as we did. And I’ll have a bourbon old fashioned cocktail tonight in her memory. My mother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye but she loved me and she adored my children and I wish she could see them today. She’s missed so much and we have missed her, too. Cheers to you, Mom. I hope you can see how great your family has grown and continues to grow. We are all here because of you (and some help from Dad, too.)

Gone knitting.

Thank You, Kim! (A Wonderful Moment)

Not a great photo of me but a wonderful memory

I had a wonderful moment last week when one of our customers, who I’d helped with a knitting challenge, came in to say thank you. With flowers!

Kim is a relatively new knitter and she wanted to knit a shawl to keep her warm. She chose a relatively simple shawl, Truly Tasha’s Shawl, that is … it’s simple until you reach the edge. The edge is a knitted-on lace edge and she had no experience with this type of thing. She was ready to just leave it off or make it simpler. I encouraged her to try it and walked her through a couple of repeats of the pattern. Sure enough, she got it and has finished the shawl.

As a teacher, we have a lot of “proud mom moments” and it’s always sweet to hear from a student that they have accomplished something that they feel proud of. I call it a proud mom moment because that’s the only parallel that I can find – when you’re raising little human beings, it’s such a win when they do something, sometimes with your guidance and sometimes not. that they feel proud of whether it’s making a lego tower or graduating from college. Seeing someone that you’ve “helped” to get to a point where they can do something without you is really wonderful!

I had that happen (again) last week and Kim brought me flowers! The little tag is a keeper and a reminder that what I do is meaningful. Whether it’s giving my own child or someone else’s child (even a fully grown one) confidence, another tool to add to their personal tool box, it’s a wonderful feeling. Kim, you made my day!

Gone knitting.

Knitting Queen (Bee)

Rainy Day on the Lake – but the plants inside are on point

I’m knitting. I promise, I’m knitting! Today is a rainy day at the lake but I’m happy about it because everything was dry and that’s never a good thing when you have gardens and a well. Despite the abundance of water just outside our windows, we would much rather have rain than have to water the gardens. The veggie garden was planted (seeds, sewn directly) and we have signs that it was a success as baby plants are popping their heads above the dirt. Our perennial gardens have been showing us iris, lilacs, and more. I’ve tried to get some weeding and edging done with some, albeit limited, success. One or two gardens have had added compost and I hope to get some mulch delivered to spread around. We also have to replenish the rocks in our drip lines around the house and add them around the boathouse and other outbuildings on our property.

But I am knitting!

I’ve finished a pair of bibs and a pair of baby socks, a “journal band” and my husband’s felted slippers, I even finished them on his actual birthday!

I have a lineup of projects on the needles and reaady to go onto the needles. But I’ll keep this short … I hope. And “light” … I hope.

Bibs

These two bibs are so cute and so fun to knit. These are both free patterns on Ravelry. I knit a bib as a baby gift for one of my daughter’s friends when she had a baby boy. I may be knitting more of these … well, I still have yarn from the ball of Berroco Pima 100 … let’s see how far it goes, right? So, here you have a baby starfish and a pumpkin. It isn’t easy to choose which design to knit, I have to be honest. The next one, already on my needles is an owl Who Loves Ya. My niece loves owls.

I chose to knit the short rows for the start of the bibs. Because the bibs start with seed stitch and are highly textured, you don’t have to worry about picking up the stitches that are wrapped … actually, you don’t have to wrap the stitches at all. I got each of them finished in a couple of hours and it was a good break from my rows and rows of fingering or lace weight stripes.

On my needles (still) is my Elton Cardigan by Joji Locatelli. I am making progress but it’s slow progress. I have posted about this pattern before and I know that once it’s finished, that I will wear it a lot and love it but, geez, it’s not particularly exciting after the fronts are picked up from the back. It’s miles and miles of four-row stripes. For my size, I need to knit stripes until the length from the arm pit to the bottom measures about 15 inches. I have about 9. I’ll keep on keeping on.

I do love the yarns that I chose for this cardigan. The Malabrigo Sock is merino wool and it’s the softest wool to work with. The Berroco Aerial mohair lace is also really soft (and so fine!) Once this sweater is finished and blocked, I think it’s going to be a favorite go-to.

I have finished, in an attempt to knit from my stash, another pair of booties and a pair of baby sock and a pumpkin hat. I had two little balls of Regia baby sock yarn (I may be a bit off on the name of the yarn but it’s Regia for sure.) I knit up the pink pair quite a while ago and now I knit up the blue pair. The tiny balls of yarn are cute but probably silly (and more expensive than a full 100 gram ball. The ones that I bought were on sale, if memory serves, and they were too cute to resist. And I knew that there would be babies born in the future. They’ll go into my gift drawer. The booties, are a repeat of former projects, too. I have a bag full of Cascade Fixation yarn that I have bought over the years. I’m working on getting that yarn used up, too. And last, when I was cleaning out my worsted weight yarn stash, I found the Lamb’s Pride Cotton Fleece yarn in green and orange that I’ve made several hats out of and thought I needed to use it up, too. So, I made a hat for my niece’s baby-to-be and it looks like I still have another hat’s worth. I’ll keep going with my fingers crossed … the green might be a yarn chicken game.

Bullet Journal Band with Pen Pocket

A couple of days ago, I came upon a pattern for a Journal Band with Pen Pocket. This is a perfect little project to use up some of my fingering weight scraps. It’s so small that I’ll have to knit hundreds of them … I may find a better use for my scraps to use more than a tiny bit. I’ve also found some book mark patterns that I will have to knit. Have you seen the Flat Rat bookmark? There are so many cute bookmark patterns. My Journal Band will live on my bullet journal and will hold my pen so I don’t have to hunt for it in my purse. It’s a rainbow band because it’s pride month.

Love and Light by Laura Nelkin

I knitted another Love and Light by Laura Nelkin for my bonus daughter, Robin and her fiance, Evan. I got some pink lights for this project and knitted it up in a few hours. When they were here for my hubby’s birthday, I missed hearing them say that they loved the one in our living room window – and then I gifted them theirs. I hope they hang it in a place of honor to remind them of the love they share today and keep working to build it every day.

My two bonus daughters and their significant others came to Maine to surprise their dad for his birthday. A few months ago, he was in the store (I work in a yarn shop) and I had him pick out some yarn to make him a new pair of felted slippers and this time I planned to add the full leather sole. I had finished the knitting a week or so before his birthday but I hadn’t had the time to felt them. On his birthday I did felt them and then attached the soles and he’s happily wearing them even in the summer. Our mornings, to be fair, are cool and slipper-worthy. I think I posted about them before, the pattern is Fiber Trends Felted Clogs and I used four skeins of Ella Rae Classic Wool, chosen by my husband. He needs the soles so he doesn’t slip on our concrete floors. They’re wonderful leather soles purchased at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine (where I work.)

I’ve seen two moths in my atelier in the last week and that meant I had to clean my yarn shelves. I’d be devastated to have a moth (larva) problem. I’ve even considered going out to buy some plastic bins for yarn storage … but I’m not there quite yet. I’ve sorted and shaken and cleaned the shelves and added a lot of new lavender buds to the shelves. I hope that will deter them. One more moth and I’ll be heading to buy air tight yarn storage bins … and my beautiful visible yarn will be no more.

I haven’t been baking lately. Too much going on in my world. I did make a 65th birthday blueberry pie that wasn’t beautiful but it tasted good. Prior to that I had baked blueberry banana nut muffins and blueberry muffins, too. But I haven’t had the time or energy to bake much since that. I’ll get my baking mojo back soon, I hope. I picked some rhubarb out of our yard and I’ve got a cake that I want to try with strawberries and rhubarb in it.

I’ve been working too hard on lake association stuff to have much time to breathe. But we’re making progress and have a location and date for our Annual Meeting, a new location for our DASH boat and docks, we have hired a wonderful new Administrative Coordinator and our season is just starting. We also arrived at the end of the year for the Maine Arts Academy and graduation was fantastic! Listening to the student speakers and our wonderful Head of School speak was very uplifting. I left graduation feeling grateful and hopeful (at least for awhile.)

Today is my first day home alone in a couple of weeks. With visitors, meetings and other goings on I have neglected the laundry and house so I will end here and head down to finish the laundry and clean up a little bit before I head out this evening for dinner with my co-workers. I am fortunate to work with three really wonderful women.

Laundry first and then some knitting.

Elton

Elton by JoJi Locateli

I’ve been doing some monogamous for the last few days. Elton is on my needles and I need to get some knitting under my belt on this fingering weight cardigan.

It was a busy day … I picked up groceries at 9:00-ish, forgetting that the hot rotisserie chickens aren’t ready until 10. My bad! Home and put the groceries away and picked the chicken while it was warm. (I have a thing about handling meat and this is the only way I can deal with it.) I decided that I might as well make the casserole for dinner since the chicken was done.

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole is a family favorite. My kids still request it for Sunday dinner when we are together. You can use a whole chicken or three or four chicken breasts, cooked. Two boxes of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice original recipe. Follow the instructions on the box to prepare. 8 ounces of sour cream. 1 can cream of mushroom soup. Curry to taste. We never did when the kids were little but now we add broccoli. Fresh or frozen and warmed through – Al dente is best because it gets cooked again. Combine all ingredients and put in a casserole dish. Cook for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Banana Nut with blueberries

When I was cleaning the dishes and wiping down the counters, I discovered three very ripe bananas. Just the amount I need for banana bread. So … I made muffins. Banana nut muffins with blueberries. One of our favorite recipes.

I did a couple of loads of laundry, and vacuumed the downstairs. The little rolling balls of dog hair were getting pretty thick and my allergies have been all sorts of crazy. When the muffins came out of the oven, I cleaned up the kitchen and headed upstairs for a little bit of knitting.

Elton is an interesting construction as I have mentioned before and at this point I’m past the interesting construction. I am knitting 4-row stripes of each of my two yarns. Four fingering weight and four lace weight mohair and silk. Not particularly exciting knitting but I’m hoping that when it’s done and blocked that it’ll be a really elegant cardigan.

Today, though, I found not one, not two, but three (THREE!) dropped stitches. I used my crochet hook to pull up the first and all the while I was thinking that it would be too wonky looking. Pulled too tightly because I was squishing an extra stitch up in the middle of two others. I fully expected to have to frog back several rows (half of this rows are mohair which is fuzzy and sticky. I wasn’t looking forward to it.) Fortunately though, I was wrong. It looked fine. So, when I found dropped stitches two and three I did the same and they all looked fine.

No More Dropped Stitches

I’m measuring 4 inches below the arm pit. Another 11 inches to go. Let’s hope I don’t drop any more stitches. I may not be so lucky the next time.

But dinner was good!

Gone knitting.

About Decency

I may have to admit to being old. I feel like I’m starting to sound like my parents or maybe it’s just that I am finding my voice at 60+. Regardless, there is something afoot on “my” lake that is aggravating my moral and ethical self and that is making me question the society that we live in in the good old US of A.

A Couple of Sunrises Ago …

I am on the board of trustees of a public charter school here in Maine and I have listened to educators and others say that our children are disrespectful and rude and have no manners and are selfish, etc. None of these are wrong but we, the adults, have to look at our own behavior as the examples that our youth follow and (maybe) look up to. Who are we? Who are we as an adult society? How do we behave? Are we respectful and polite? Do we set the example for our youth by behaving well, by saying “please” and “thank you”? Do we use our turn signals? Are we generous with our time and talents? Do we take our hats off inside? Do we watch our own language use?

This morning there is a large group of what appear to be adults (to be fair they’re over a mile away) who are out ice fishing on the lake. Ice fishing in Maine is a long-standing tradition, often a generational (family) event, that is a wonderful outside activity for adults and children. Lots of people I know take their kiddos fishing in the winter. In fact, I just found out that there are child-sized snowmobiles! How cool is that?!

While I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast, I thought I saw that they had a flag flying over the group so I got the binoculars out and had a look to see what clever flag some family had created. Boy, am I sorry I did. There was a “F#*@ Biden” flag, a big one, flying with a Trump sign. I have no problem with the latter flag. We get to support who we want to in this country. But the former flag, the one with the obscene word and the name of the president of these United States, that one I take offense to … strongly.

We need to do better. Children will see that sign today and ask their mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, “what does F@#* mean?” because children READ! If we ever wonder why our youth today has no idea what appropriate language is about, this is one of the reasons why. We need to bring back the respect of the office. You don’t have to like the president, but the office must be respected. Only by demonstrating good behavior can we teach it. I am disgusted by this group and I hope someone, a mom or dad or another adult, will ask this group to take the flag down. What are we teaching our children?

I went out and put my American flag up this morning with a sadness that I haven’t felt for awhile and with a pride that I often feel. We can do better. We must do better.

Gone knitting.

Snow (-y) Day!

Just before sunrise this morning

We are finally getting a snowy day! I came home from work last night and listened to the weather reports and decided to err on the cautious side and cancel knitting classes today. Since weather forecasting is not ever a sure thing, I am always hesitant to cancel classes but this time it seemed that they were consistent messages that we were going to get measurable snow. And, YIPPEE! We are!

When we awoke this morning the snow hadn’t begun (picture above) but within an hour or so the snow could be seen coming up the lake and before long, it looked like this … and it’s supposed to continue on through the rest of the day.

The snow begins

So, my brain went on a snow day day off and I forgot my 8am Zoom meeting and my 9am Zoom meeting and I’ve chosen to give myself grace and move on to enjoy the day regardless. I decided that I’d give myself the gift of baking this morning. First up was The Foodie Physician’s Blueberry, Apple and Walnut Baked Oatmeal. I love baked oatmeal. I have always wanted to love oatmeal but the texture makes me gag. When I discovered baked oatmeal, I was skeptically hopeful … but it was good. I’ve been baking it ever since. This is a good recipe and I like it a lot. I used my frozen organic Maine blueberries and some too-old-to-eat apples from the farm in this recipe and local maple syrup. I didn’t have any plain yogurt but I had vanilla so that’s what I put in. I just had a serving for lunch and it was delish! Here’s the recipe:

Blueberry Apple & Walnut Baked Oatmeal (The Foodie Physician)

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, any type (I used oat milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the pure stuff not the imitation)
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, finely chopped apple, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F)
  2. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Mix walnuts, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a second bowl whisk milk, yogurt, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla together.
  5. Arrange 1 cup each of apples and blueberries on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter the oat mixture evenly on top. Pour in the milk mixture and press to submerge all the dry ingredients into the liquid. Scatter the remaining walnuts, apple and blueberries on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutesuntil the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve as is or topped with milk, Greek yogurt or maple syrup. (Try it without further sweetening, I think it’s great as is with milk!)

Since I’d baked something for myself, I decided to make something for my wonderful hubby. His choice was blueberry muffins. This recipe, I’m afraid, I can’t share, it’s a family secret and held close to our family’s chest. But I will share the baked muffins if you ever come visit us in Maine. They are a regular pre-breakfast treat when we have company.

We had a visit from our neighborhood Pileated Woodpecker. The female is a regular at our feeder this winter. I sure hope this means that she has a nest close by and that we’ll see her whole family in the spring! Our little red squirrel has also been a regular at our living room window feeder and we have fun laughing at his or her antics. We can get up close and personal with the window between us but it will sit and eat all of the sunflower seed in the feeder if we allow it.

Paperwhite Narcissus in bloom

And the frosting on the snowy day cake is that my first Paperwhite Narcissus is blooming!

And now I’m up in my atelier sharing this snowy day with you and in a few minutes, I’ll be heading over to my chair to knit. I have a 3-cable baby blanket on the needles in Berroco’s Vintage Chunky for a client and the queue of orders is already starting … it’s a new year, after all. I’ve also re-started knitting the Arne and Carlos mini-jumpers for my Advent Calendar. I would like to finish them before Advent 2022. And I’m going to cast on a sweater that has been sitting in my Ravelry queue for at least a couple of years. I’m going to add some steek stitches to it so I can knit it in the round. I’ve decided that my first WIP (or UFO) attack for 2022 will be my lobster hat. It’s been languishing way too long.

You can see all of these projects on my Ravelry project page. Gone knitting!

Grateful

Sunrise at Home

I started this post after Thanksgiving having spent several days with two thirds of my kids, their significant others, my brothers and sisters-in-love and their kids and some of their significant others. Being with family is my drug. I left Massachusetts with my heart full and my soul warmed. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday just before all of the pressure heading into Christmas begins. I’m so grateful that my children and their cousins know each other and that they enjoy spending time together and we enjoyed spending time together, too!

And now we’re well into the Christmas rush. Rushing to get the tree decorated and the presents bought and mostly shipped to their recipients but some to put under the tree and into stockings for Christmas day. I’m working hard to keep the gratitude and warm fuzzies in my heart that I had a Thanksgiving and to be fully honest here, I’m struggling. My dear husband’s daughters and one of their boyfriends are scheduled to be here for Christmas this year. It seems that because of a sick dog, one won’t be able to come. The other daughter’s boyfriend seems to be rethinking the trip because he’s spent a lot of time in Florida with his family. I was really looking forward to seeing them because we haven’t seen each other for a long time. We haven’t seen the dog mom daughter for a year and a half.

Today I’m trying to wrap my head around having Christmas at home with my little family – me and my husband. It seems that it’s entirely possible again this year. Somehow I have to make it ok and I’m not sure how to do that. It’s going to be difficult to make any major changes because I’m now scheduled to work since we were going to be celebrating here with my step-daughters. It’ll be near-impossible to kennel the dog at this point to fly anywhere and a drive to their homes is at least a two day drive each way … leaving two days to visit. We don’t relish the idea of four days in the car for a two-day visit. The NYC kids are having a Christmas dinner to which we’ve been invited but I don’t know what kind of hotel or extra bed situation we’d be looking at and the dog still needs to be kenneled. I guess we will look at our options if we find it’ll be just us for sure.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting. A lot. I’ve been finishing some projects, too. I have so many things that I want to knit and with my schedule, I’ve been lining them up for when I have some time to knit “what I want”. I’ve knitted several gifts for the kids in NYC and they’ve been sent on. We are going to go to the beach in Rhode Island again in September and that’s their big gift. Since they haven’t opened gifts, I’ll not discuss what I’ve made until after Christmas – and I even forgot to photograph a couple of the gifts. Oops!

The Slip Stitch Hat by Tanis Williams is a sweet hat with a slip stitch section around the head. It makes the sport/dk weight hat a bit warmer around the ears. I used a bit of a handspun yarn that I was gifted with a wool/silk blend yarn that I found at Marden’s here in Maine. It was a yarn company close out sale and was a great deal. This hat will be going to Yardgoods Center’s February hat drive for the needy in our community.

The beaded tape measure is a new activity that I’ve been doing with my Friday knitters, one of whom is a phenomenal talent at beading and quilting in addition to being a great knitter. Anyway, we bought a kit online (Etsy) and we had a class at the end of my teaching day a few weeks ago. What fun! I love the way the tape measure looks so much but I admit that I’m a bit hesitant to put it into my knitting bag for fear that it will be damaged or get dirty.

Evergreen Socks by Madeline Gannon are so much fun! I loved knitting these. I used deeply stashed yarn from Buffalo Wool Company. I’ve had this yarn from a bunch of years ago when I signed up for their monthly yarn club. It’s a fingering weight blend of wool and buffalo so these socks are likely to be nice and warm. I think these will be for me. I only have one daughter who has the same size feet as I do and she likes shorty socks.

Husband’s Christmas (last year) sweater. Well, he loves it and it’s a perfect fit. I gave him the yarn for this sweater last year at Christmas. His face when he opened it was a classic. He wondered if I was going to teach him to knit! LOL. Needless to say, here it is almost Christmas again and I have finally gotten it done. I loved loved loved knitting with Cascade 220 worsted yarn. I’ve not knitted with it before (I know, I was surprised, too) and it’s so much softer and more luxurious feeling that the Ella Rae wool that I’ve knitted with several times. The price point isn’t that different anymore so I’d prefer the Cascade; especially when it’s a garment. We’ll see how it wears and how it pills. The pattern is Knitting Plain and Simple #991 and it is simple but the heathered yarn makes is anything but plain.

Oh, Arne and Carlos, how I love you. I started knitting the Christmas balls last year and got about six of them finished. I haven’t tried to knit any this year because these stinking cute mini jumpers came out and that’s all I wanted to knit. I have managed to get five done and will pick up the rest of the 24 and hope to get them finished before next Christmas. I’m using Patagonia organic merino in three colors. I decided to keep the traditional holiday colors for our house. We shall see. But I love them so much!

Last but not least, I have cast on for a new pair of mittens for me. I love my “old” snowflake mittens a lot. These new ones are similar and very different. These are the Northman Mittens by David Schultz and I’ve chosen to knit with the same yarn as the design calls for. It just so happens that we have a great selection of Berroco Ultra Alpaca yarn. I’ve changed my mind already several times but I can’t change it again. I am knitting with a light tealy-blue-green and a light gray shade. The lining will be knit in a pink for a pop of color and you can find all the gory details for this and all of my other projects on my Ravelry project page. (I”m “lindar” on Ravelry.)

I am knitting a sweater for my almost-93 year old student who is having memory challenges and she was unable to be successful with this Plain and Simple pattern. I’ll get the sleeves finished this week and will present it to her as my gift on her 93rd birthday which is on Friday … and a cake! She’s one of my favorites and it’s crushing to see her struggle to knit. She was a wonderful knitter back in the day.

There you have it. I’ve caught you up to date. I’m sorry for the downer at the start of this post but I have promised myself that I would be authentic here and show you how life and knitting weave together to make me who I am. I won’t apologize for who I am and I am an emotional person. I’ve mentioned before my “ocular incontinence”, right? I will make the best of whatever Christmas brings, I’m just struggling with it for now. It’s all good. We love all of our kids and this won’t change that, of course.

Gone knitting.

My Favorite Time of Day

This is my favorite time of the day. The time when the sun is beginning to set and the opposite side of the lake gets lit up. My photos don’t begin to show you what it actually looks like. Trust me, it’s spectacular.

We have had a lovely day. We got our bedroom cleaned up, the bed changed, the (disgusting) side windows and screens washed, and the laundry done. My sweet hubby cleaned out the “curiosity cabinet” in the stairway. It needed it so badly.

I got a load of sheets and towels washed and dried and folded and put away (it doesn’t always happen, yay, me!) I made a batch of granola and a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I also made progress on my knitting.

Yesterday I tried something new. It didn’t work. The Intarsia Christmas stocking that I’m working on for a customer friend calls for angora. I’ve always held the angora yarn together with a worsted weight wool. The angora claims to be a worsted weight and “should” be ok to knit alone. Well, no.

So, today I frogged it back to the start of the angora in the pattern and re-knit. It’s much better now and I’ll be happy to knit on to the end of the Intarsia part and down to the toe. I’ll need to weave in the hundreds of millions of ends and embroider a smile and eyebrows (seriously, eyebrows?), duplicate stitch a name and off it’ll go to New York City.

I may get there tomorrow. Definitely, the knitting will be finished by the end of this week. I’m working to be finished in time to mail it before the end of October. Way in advance of Christmas!

FOs to come.

Gone knitting.

The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

May be an image of 4 people
Me and the Kids … 1991-ish

When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).

I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.

Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!

The Nest with a Handsome Visitor at the Door
The Perch (the new addition)

We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.

We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.

Ahh! A View of the Ocean

We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.

And my heart is full.

Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!

I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!

I have been knitting … more on that later!

Gone knitting.

Our First (Post Pandemic) Car Trip

We always have trouble leaving home (and we were both a little cranky packing on Thursday night) but we really wanted to see N’s eldest daughter’s “new” home in suburban DC. So … off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was HORRIBLE and turned a 7-8 hours trip to southern New Jersey and our stop for the first night into 11 1/2 hours. It was a long day but it afforded us to get a glimpse of the new Tappanzee/Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and wave toward my three kiddos in New York City. I finished N’s birthday socks and he’s happy about them. Thank you Yankee Knitter for the wonderful pattern. We were traveling with our dogs and have always liked staying at LaQuinta Hotels that are dog friendly (dogs stay for free!) Cheers at the end of the day in plastic hotel cups and a nearby restaurant for to-go food eaten in the hotel.

Day two we made it to Maryland early (it was only a couple of hours to Robin’s house.) As is my habit, I completely forgot to take photographs of the kids or their house or their cats who were mostly invisible. I mentioned that we traveled with our dogs, right? Needless to say, though, we had a wonderful time!

Part two was three days with the kids and adventures in the Greater Washington, DC area. N lived here as a young child and my grandparents are buried here. Go figure. A walk down memory lane led us to Oak Hill Cemetery where my Rockwell family is buried. Oak Hill is an historic cemetery and parts of it, including where my family rests, is very old.

You can’t see the names of my grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon Dow Rockwell (June 1887 – March 1984), or my grandfather, Horace Lewis Rockwell (August 1886 – December 1942) without zooming in, but they share the side of the monument with Sarah Alice Rockwell who died at 18 months of age.

According to my family genealogy, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Ensign Rockwell (3/24/1811 – 1/22/1882) was the Secretary of the US Fish Commission. In 1867 he was a Representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Millbury. He is buried here with his second wife, Sarah Jemima Hathaway Rockwell (9/25/1824 – 2/6/1898). They were married in Boston on September 25, 1824. She lived a good long life, passing at age 73. Henry and Sarah had three children: Julius Ensign, Sarah Alice and Julia Lee all buried here. Julius and his wife Mabel Rose had two sons: Henry Ensign and Horace Lewis (my grandfather) who was a patent attorney and a Second Lieutenant in WW I. When he died, my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized at the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT. The children, my father included, were sent to live with friends of the family.

Next we were on to visit N’s special place, the Tastee Diner, that his father started in the 1940s. It has been moved from its original location but it remains very similar … including the original countertop in the diner section. Our “snack” became dinner … the dinner of champions! LOL

One of Robin’s requests was to make a pie. We ended up making a galette with fresh blueberries after a visit to a huge and wonderful Wegman’s grocery store! Galettes are so simple because you don’t need a special pan or other baking utensils. A little flour, sugar and butter, add fruit and voila! I hope she’ll try to make another galette when her mom visits!

Too soon we were back on the road back home and leg three of our trip. This time through Hartford, CT and the LaQuinta in Windsor Locks. We visited my parents who are buried at the Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford. The last time I visited the area was for my 40th high school reunion and I couldn’t find the plot. I’ve decided that I have to claim having the very worst sense of direction of any human on this planet. Thankfully, my sweet husband has a good sense of direction and we did manage to find them this time!

We had dinner with two dear high school friends on Tuesday night in Windsor, CT. The only time I remember visiting the Windsor area was to go to the airport but it’s a lovely area and there are some wonderful sculptures. It was a wonderful reunion.

Wednesday morning we got up early again and headed to East Cemetery in Manchester where I needed to find my grandmother Barnard who was my favorite person in my family when she was alive. I have so many wonderful memories of doing things with Gram. She didn’t have a lot of money but she spent time with me and that’s what I will always treasure.

I don’t know who all the “players” in the Robb family are so I will do some research one day. But I found my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Robb Barnard and her husband, my grandfather, Irwin Henry “Jack” Barnard. We found them first. I had assumed that Gram would be buried by her sister Ethel and was surprised to see that they’re actually at opposite ends of the cemetery.

We hunted for my great-aunt, Ethel May Robb next. Aunt Ethel was the principal at Wadsworth Elementary School in Manchester and we spent a lot of time with her, too, as children. Aunt Ethel took me on my college visits. Ethel is buried with the rest of the Robb family near the Robb Monument. I’ll assume that Josiah Robb and his wife, Eliza Jackson (?) are the parents of Ethel, Maude, Willard and Gladys. I remember Aunt Violet who I believe was married to Willard. Gladys died young and I never met her. More work to be done on this part of the family!

The last couple of days I focused on my Fine Sand Cardigan and made great progress with it. I’m closing in on the bottom of the body – woo! hoo! When we arrived at home, we found that the resident woodchucks had decimated my hollyhocks which were nearly six feet high when we left. The rubble left from them is above right. It’s war, now! They also ate every single petunia in the pot on our front steps. Grrr.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!