Rough Re-Entry; Wonderful Vacation!

Above the Rooftops – the Perch

We had the most wonderful week of vacation in Rhode Island with my kids and their significant others … and their dogs. This was the second time we’ve gathered in Weekapaug where my mother used to rent back when my children were little. They all have memories of our times there. This year we were short Kate and her family. She was in Seattle in rehearsal for a new play but she’s home now and preparing for the arrival of their first baby, a baby girl, in a few weeks. But we had a really lovely time together and the weather was glorious, the beach was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the week went by way too quickly.

Lobster Dinner!!!

This year we baked a cake, we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting (Stonington Vineyard in Stonington, Connecticut.) We took a picnic and tasted wines as we ate a yummy lunch. I took lots of walks because I’m trying to start new habits and be healthier, move more. Some of us played golf and some of us had a meal at the Ocean House. We all wandered Watch Hill and had a lobster roll and some peach ice cream. Most of all, though, we spent time relaxing together.

And then we all had to go home. My re-entry has been rough. Today I feel like I’ve not been away. My stress level has returned to pre-vacation levels and it’s only been 24 hours since we arrived home. I had a meeting to attend before I even had time to unpack and then today the in-person board meeting (for the board that I lead) fell back to a zoom meeting – after a lot of reminders and a lot of work finding a place where we could meet in person. I’m disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about the future of the organization. I have one more year as president of the board and there is no clear path for the future leadership. Too much falls to the president and burn-out is chronic. Tomorrow I will attempt to share my feelings and frustrations without getting emotional. That will be difficult for me – I have ocular incontinence, after all. I look forward to regaining 20 hours each week once my leadership role is ended. That’s what I’m thinking about right now.

I have been knitting, but not too much, while we were on vacation. I started and have nearly finished a tiny sweater for my granddaughter. I have made the Newborn Vertebrae before as a gift and it’s a quick knit in tiny yarn so it’s perfect for a fall in New York City sweater for the baby. Newborn Vertebrae (free on Ravelry) is a top down raglan sweater, an easy knit, knit flat. It’s designed to cover baby’s back and shoulders because baby’s chest is almost always against a caregiver. I wanted my granddaughter to have a rainbow sweater and this is the closest yarn that I can find on short notice. I’ll continue my search for another, larger, rainbow sweater in the future. All I have left is to pick up the stitches around the opening and knit a few rows of ribbing.

I also finished knitting my Aestlight Shawl. It’s blocking as I type. Although … to prove that even the “expert” knitters make mistakes, I noticed a dropped stitch as I was blocking it. It looks like I dropped the stitch during the bind off and because I didn’t weave in all the ends, it’s going to be relatively simple to fix. I love the color and I enjoyed knitting it. I think I have to have a shawl sale to thin out my collection and so I can continue knitting them. I have reached the point where I have too many (is that a possibility?)

I also got the button band mostly finished on my Elton. SO … all I have to finish is the bind off and then the collar and buttons. I need seven or eight 5/8″ buttons but I like to purchase buttons after the sweaters are finished. It’s always nice to put them on a finished button band and see how they look on the actual garment. Because this sweater is so light, I think I’ll need to buy light buttons because anything heavy will sag IMHO. Once I get that accomplished, I’ll have a new sweater to wear to Rhinebeck!!!

I’m going to Rhinebeck! My friend Glenda suggested it and we’ve gotten our tickets to ride the bus from Webs in Massachusetts up to the festival. We will stay near Webs on Friday and Saturday nights to make the driving easier on us. I’m really looking forward to it. And to a possible reunion with some of my fiber camp friends. Since we have only one day, we’ll be studying the maps closely and making the most of our experience.

Off to the post office to pick up our mail.

Gone postal? Gone knitting.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I just wrote the store’s weekly newsletter which I’ll wrap up tomorrow morning and send out. I must be “enjoying” the stifling hot weather because Hot! Hot! Hot! has appeared here and there, too. Mainers have been a lot cooler than those in other parts of the country and the world but most of us here don’t have central air conditioning in our homes. We are very lucky to have three window units in our house that keep us more comfortable than we’d be otherwise … I’m not much for hot weather! In fact, I loathe it. Why do you think we were happy to move from Florida to Maine?! Without A/C I’d be parked in front of a fan all day and nothing would get done – no knitting, no cleaning, no laundry. Nothing. I don’t have that luxury right now … I have so much to do (and I’ve gotten so much done!)

I have completely finished my daughter’s quilt repair project. It’s bound, labeled and ready to wrap up. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow but I didn’t dare send it to her in NY City. I’ll carry it by hand when I go down to the city next week. No photos for now. I’ll update my post here when I’ve delivered the quilt.

I finished knitting the Mabel cardigan in Berroco Vintage. This was a fun and quick knit. I made the 6-12 months size and hopefully it will go with the raspberry Billie pants that I made awhile back. I only have to sew on three little buttons and it’s good to go. I love the raspberry color!

Mabel by Fiona Alice

This week I designed and knit a teeny tiny Metro Card rattle. It was a special request from a mom-to-be that lives in NY City. There is a shower in her honor next weekend and I’ll be making a crazy quick trip to New York City for the shower and to bring some of the things that I’ve created. Lucky that I had a real Metro Card to copy! Baby girl will have her own card so she can travel the city when she’s born. I used Tahki Classic Cotton and a US 4 knitting needle.

The other baby that I’ve been knitting for is arriving first but his mama-to-be hasn’t decided if she wants to have a shower. Time will tell but I’m knitting for baby boy (his name will be Noah) and I can’t wait to meet both babies! I looooooove babies! (My husband is concerned that he may never see me once they’re born … and he’s right to worry! LOL)

Metro Card Rattle by Queen Bee Knits

I made a pair of tiny socks for a baby gift. I have a bunch of little bits of sock yarn in my atelier and I had (sort of) run out of projects to knit at my class yesterday so I picked up one of the larger bits and made a pair of baby socks. Baby socks can be knit in a couple of hours so they’re very satisfying.

Classic Socks by Yankee Knitter

I have been ignoring my Elton cardigan. I have started the first sleeve but I’ve been busy knitting baby gifts and have set the sweater aside for now. I’ll be picking it back up on the next week or two and will hopefully finish it so I can wear it as it gets cool later this summer.

I’m starting to think about Christmas gifts, too. And fall knitting. The heat may be getting to me. I’ll have to get rolling on my Arne & Carlos Advent jumpers, too, if they’re going to be done by December 1st. If I don’t get them done, I fear that they’ll never get done! If not, this year, there’s always next year, right?

Gone knitting.

Queen Bee Sews, too!

Back in the 80s, I made a quilt for my second daughter. It hung over her crib in our house in Sharon, Connecticut. This year, my daughter turns 35. The quilt has been in my care for most of the years since I was divorced because she didn’t have room for it in her apartments but a year or so ago she asked for it and took it home. And then she called me to tell me that he unsupervised puppy had chomped the edge. Could I fix it?

What kind of a mom would I be if I didn’t answer in the affirmative – “of course I can fix it!” So I got the quilt back.

30+ years ago, I made this Trip Around the World quilt. It was a tied quilt with a polyester quilt batting (it was all that was available back then.) Over the years as it was used, the batting had separated and settled. It had a few little holes and some seams had separated and, of course, the outside border was chomped on one side.

I cut the ties, ripped the seams and tossed the batting and backing and then took off the outside border. Then I took what was left of the quilt top to a fabric shop to find a replacement border and backing. I got lucky in Bangor, Maine at the Cotton Cupboard. A solid blue for the borders and an extra-wide blue floral fabric for the backing … I also got help figuring out how much of each fabric I needed! And then everything sat in my sewing room for ages … maybe a year? Maybe longer. And then eventually I cut the borders. Months later, I sewed them together and attached them to the quilt. I also spent some time patching the seams that had separated and the little holes. I used the old border (the part that wasn’t chewed by Severus.)

With the quilt top back to its original size (-ish), I decided to take it to a friend who owns a long arm machine and have it quilted. Really quilted. I had bought a “new-fangled” quilt batting that is cotton and brought all of the parts to Candy at In Stitches Sewing School. Last week I picked up the quilt. I am so excited! It looks amazing and it’s going to wear much better because the quilting stitches and the new batting make the quilt top much more stable.

As of today, I’ve made the binding out of the left-over backing fabric and I’ve sewn it onto the edge of the quilt. Tomorrow I’ll start hand sewing the back of the binding and then I’ll make a label and I’ll be delivering it for my daughter’s birthday at the end of the month.

If I showed you photos now, I’d have to kill you. LOL … I am such a pacifist, there’s not any chance of that happening. But I promise that once it’s finished and delivered, I’ll add photos here on this post.

Gone sewing!

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.

1787 to 2022 – a little bit has changed. So what do we do now?

Rainy Day in my Atelier

I’m not sure what this post will end up being. There is so much going on that it’s difficult to focus on one thing. My intention is to post here about LIFE in general which is why my “tag line” is what it is. BUT I’m afraid that if I stray from knitting that I’ll get up on my soapbox and may never come back down.

So, suffice it to say that I hope you’re not comfortable today.

That 19 children can die at the hand of a murderer who can legally buy TWO assault weapons more easily than I can buy SUDAFED is abhorrent. That those same children could be forced to watch said murderer kill their beloved teachers before he murdered them. That they watched their classmates be obliterated by his weapons so that they were only recognizable by their sneakers is unimaginable. The entire situation is unacceptable. AND YET our elected representatives say that it’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem. I’m calling bullshit. (Sorry not sorry.) We have had a mental health problem in this country for decades. Mental health has been stigmatized and people who live with mental health challenges have been shamed, blamed, ostracized and, oh, by the way, if you’re not living in the top !0% of earners, mental health treatment can put you in debtors prison, making it nearly impossible for most of our citizens to get good quality services. Or any services.

Our problem here is GUNS. Ours is the only country in the civilized world that has as many guns and gives permission to anyone to buy and carry guns. Other countries have mental health problems just as we do but they don’t have the gun problems we do. People are the same no matter what language they speak, no matter what color their skin, no matter who they love, not matter what they do for a job, no matter where they live. It may be simplistic but it’s true. People are, at the core, alike. We want to be liked (loved) and we need food, air and water. We aren’t all that different from others and the differences make it more interesting. Anyway, my point being, we DO have a mental health crisis in our country but it’s nothing new. We ALSO have a gun crisis and it’s good and well time for us to accept that as truth and start to do something about it.

I can’t buy two boxes of Sudafed because “they’re” afraid that I will make crack.

I can’t have a driver’s license without proving that I am who I present myself to be. I must show a utility bill with my name on it, my marriage license, my passport, proof of insurance, etc. AND, by the way, I have to be at least 16, take a test that says I am a competent driver, and I can’t drive a car without it. Cars also kill people like guns kill people so why are they treated so differently!?

The ONLY reason to own a gun is to kill (or to boost a fragile ego.) Here in Maine, lots of people own guns. Most of those people have guns so they can hunt – and they eat what they kill. Most of the gun owners are responsible gun owners. For heaven’s sake, WE own guns! We don’t hunt and I don’t even know how to use the guns but my husband has killed rats in our yard. And I may have asked him to kill the groundhogs had they not left of their own volition. BUT it’s time for us to do something differently and drastic because killing innocent children in school is not OK.

My thought is that we must ban assault weapons AND we must put in place a way to make sure that those people who are allowed to buy guns are capable of being responsible gun owners. To drive a motorcycle you need a special license, right? Why not require classes and licensing for guns? Why not have a 48-hour waiting period … I’m required to wait 48 hours to have an abortion, considered by some as murder, why not have to wait for a license for a gun? This is a HUGE issue and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers but a document written by rich white men in the 1700s is not one to hang our hat on today – the world was a wholly different place then. Their “well-regulated militia” is our United States Military – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines. We don’t need to arm our citizens to protect us as we did then. The rules have changed. The world has changed. Women can open a credit card account without their husband’s permission. Women are allowed to have POCKETS in their dresses because they’re allowed to own things. Women and black people are allowed to vote (or they have been, it seems that this is being challenged, too, but that’s a different post.)

My life was forever changed when I gave birth to three wonderful human beings. I have been so blessed to watch them grow. I got to go on field trips, be PTA President, have birthday parties in limousines and buy Christmas gifts, fill their stockings and help them with their homework – at least through elementary school. I have gone to sports events, high school and college concerts and plays, we spent time at the beach in the summers, went to the Ohio State Fair, met college friends, boy- and girl-friends from all over the country. When a parent does their job well, their kids go off to build their own life and I’ve had the pleasure of watching my kids get jobs, live with roommates, live alone, move from one city to another, live on cruise ships, meet a special person, get engaged, get married, buy a home. My kids are all in their 30s and I can’t imagine NOT having lived through all of the regular and special moments with them.

BUT there are 19 sets of parents, 19 sets of grandparents … who won’t ever be able to see their beloved child get their period, find body hair for the first time, get arrested for something stupid, graduate from high school … the list goes on and on. Because life is lived in the ordinary moments and some shitty human being with two legal assault weapons decided to go into a school and murder children cutting those ordinary moments short.

We all need to feel uncomfortable about this until something changes and the murders stop. Don’t be fooled, this can happen to you or someone you love. There are 19 families who know this as fact this morning and won’t forget it tomorrow. Or the next day … or the next …

Gone knitting.

An Excellent (Happy Mama’s Day) Visit

Washington Heights, NYC

I got my mother’s day gifts early this year – I traveled to New York City to spend time with all of my kids. They, of course, are my best gifts ever. I am so proud to be called their mom.

I had an excellent adventure. I drove to my college roommate’s house in Westport, CT, visited with her for an evening and then headed by train into New York City for a few days with my kids. The first day I had lunch in mid-town with Daughter 1 and her husband. April 27 is my son’s birthday so we had a bite of dinner at Bea in mid-town and then headed to the bowling lanes to meet a group of my son’s friends. What fun it was to bowl in New York City, of all places. I wish I’d taken a photo or two.

Thursday we visited Holland Ridge Farms in New Jersey. Acres and acres of tulips that you can pick and pick we did. My daughters each picked more than 70 and I controlled myself because I knew I had to transport my flowers to Maine. Suffice it to say that there was every imaginable color and type of tulip. They were gorgeous and the scent was mind boggling. I never realized that tulips had a scent. (We chose to pick mostly closed flowers, hoping they’d bloom more slowly and last longer. Note: mine are just about done as of today.) We walked and walked and walked and practically got blown away in the wind. It was sunny but very windy and we were dust-covered from tip to toe. We found a fun pick up spot and bought some subs (shrimp parm and steak pizza subs. Yum!) and root beer for lunch before heading back to the city. We happened upon a special sight on the way back to the highway – young horses in a big field, running and playing.

Yearlings?

My younger daughter loves horses. We had to stop to get closer and watch these magnificent animals. They were very shy and kept their distance but it was so much fun to watch them run.

I met my son’s girlfriend for lunch on Friday with their dogs and after lunch we took them to a local “park” for a bit of a run. The “park” is actually an historic home, The Morris-Jumel Mansion. Next time I’m in the city, I want to tour the home. The grounds have been somewhat ignored over the past few years but you can see its potential. I then took the subway (all by myself) to midtown to meet my youngest brother at his hotel for a drink. He was in the city for a veterinary conference. A quick hike to a new Thai restaurant, Lum Lum, with my daughters and their husbands and later, my son and his girlfriend came to join us. The food and company was extraordinary.

Saturday was exercise day. I am tired and sore just thinking about it. Daughter 1, her husband and their dog Bessie and I walked to the Linwood Farmer’s Market. Through Fort Tryon Park to drop off their composts, bought some fish and apples, had a wonderful bagel sandwich and then hiked back to the Heights along the river. 13,000 steps round trip and we hadn’t even gotten to the yarn store yet!

Daughter 2 and her husband were so sweet to go with me to Brooklyn to visit Brooklyn General Store – a bucket list item for me. It’s quite a distance from Washington Heights (but I learned that you can tap your credit card in the subway!)

I loved wandering this little shop. It’s an older building, full of character: wood floors, lots of yarns that my LYS doesn’t carry – La Bien Aimee, Spin Cycle, and so many more. I patted lots and lots of yarns there. I also admired fabrics, stitch kits, etc. I couldn’t decide what to buy but I ended up with a really pretty fingering weight peach cotton/alpaca yarn by Illimani Yarn Company. I bought another in an oatmealy-grey color as well. I’m not sure what it will become but when it decides what it wants to be when it grows up, I’ll let you know. We had dinner, Ramen, at my daughter’s apartment that night and she tested positive for Covid. I’ve been double boosted so I figured that I was as “bullet proof” as I ever could be having had my second booster shot two weeks before. My son-in-law tested positive on Sunday. I’ve continued to test negative. (By the way, if you want to test for possible Covid exposure, New York is the place to be. Tests are readily available all over the city.)

Sunday I headed back to CT for another evening before driving home on Monday. It’s so wonderful to have long-time friends (we have known each other for 46 years now!) who you can pick up with as if you’ve been apart for a few days rather than several months. It’s always special to spend time together with my special woman friends.

This mama’s heart is so full and I am so grateful to be able to travel to the city for a visit. Grateful for time away from work and my volunteer jobs. Grateful for my husband who is willing to hold down the fort while I am gallivanting. And it’s so great to come home again – where I can rest up for a couple of days before heading back to work. My legs are still tired.

Gone knitting.

On the Road Again

Marblehead Light from Fort Sewell, Marblehead, MA

The past week I’ve been living “on the road” which is saying that I’m not home. This is the first road trip that I’ve taken by myself in two years. I found myself very anxious when I was leaving the house. My GPS on my car wouldn’t connect, I couldn’t get it to play my podcasts that I had hoped to listen to, nor would it play my music that “I” downloaded (with lots of help and support from my sweet husband.) Turns out that if you turn the car off and then re-start it, that it works. Phew. I was so grateful for my husband’s suggestion.

First stop was to my “oldest” friend’s house in Connecticut to celebrate the life of her son. He died on Valentine’s day in a one car crash. He was 28 years old. The memorial service or “Irish Wake” was wonderfully well put together for Scudder. He didn’t want a church funeral or, really, any formal service. So, we all ate and drank and remembered the young man who was so loved by his family and friends. His sister’s and mother’s lives will be forever changed. I was lucky to be able to spend the night at my friend’s house and chat for a few hours before heading off to Massachusetts.

Second stop was Salem, Massachusetts. My sister-in-love is house and dog sitting for my niece and her husband who are honeymooning in Italy! We haven’t been able to have a lot of girl time since I moved to Maine (we have plenty of time together with husbands and kids and other siblings but not just the two of us) so I really wanted to visit for a couple of days. And I did … and I extended my visit to a week! One of my wonderful co-workers worked for me on Thursday and I cancelled my class (I know, that’s not normal!) on Friday. Today the husbands arrive and we’ll spend the weekend celebrating my nephew who is off on an excellent adventure to Alaska for a few months.

I am knitting! I finished my Humlebi Shawl by Fiber Tales. I knit this shawl in Patagonia Organic Merino by Juniper Moon Farm. I love the oatmealy-gray yarn and the bumble bees that are knitted in around the edge are fabulous! I will block it aggressively rather than gently and I hope it’ll be an ok size for me. I used just over one skein and I’ll weigh the remaining one to figure out how much I used in total. I checked my gauge and I measured 19 sts per inch rather than 17. So, I wasn’t too far off but it probably would have been a bit better for me on a larger needle. It was a fun knit so I may consider knitting it again just to see what happens when I change the gauge to what it’s really supposed to be and I have more yarn.

Humelbi Shawl blocking close-up

I also knitted up a couple of pairs of booties for a new mom (and dad)-to-be. I knitted up the pattern that I found at the store years ago and that I really love to knit. It’s called Sue’s Baby Booties and I knit it up in Cascade Yarn’s FIxation. When I ran out of projects (daughter’s socks are at the toe and I need her foot measurement, Humelbi Shawl was finished except for blocking, and I only had Arne & Carlos’ Advent Jumpers left which take too much concentration to knit in a group) so I cast on another pair for my brother and sister-in-law’s neighbors who just had a baby girl. This pattern makes me so happy! I love all the combinations.

I have reached the toe decreases on the socks for my dear daughter. Plain vanilla socks for the first pair to see how she likes them and how they fit. Since I don’t have her feet to try them on or measure. I sent her a text to trace and measure her foot so I know how long to knit them. We used to have the same shoe size but mine are bigger these days, I guess. Anyway, I’ll put the first sock onto a holder and start on the second sock so I can continue my progress. I’m feeling successful and productive with all these small projects.

Spring in Massachusetts is a couple of weeks ahead of us here in Maine. I can’t wait to see our spring bulbs in bloom. They’re coming!!! The snow in the yard is all gone, the road has already dried up a bit from the muddy mess that it was when I left. The lake is still mostly covered with ice (it’s certainly ice-covered at our house but each end is more open than a week ago) and it’s turning grayer. I’m ready to see the water again.

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.

The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

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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.

I Saw Live Theater!

The Sound of Music at the MUNY

I was fortunate to be able to sneak away for a couple of days to Saint Louis, Missouri to see my eldest daughter star as Maria in the Sound of Music at the MUNT theater. Wow! What a venue! This theater can (and does) hold 11,000 people and it was full even on closing night in the heat!

The performance was incredible! I was so proud of all the hard work that this cast did to bring the show to the stage in just a few short days. Six performance in an outdoor venue in the heat of the St. Lewis summer. Can you imagine wearing a wig and two layers of costumes (one of them a nun’s black habit) in 80 or 90 or 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? It was difficult enough to sit in the audience in the heat! There were, obviously, a bunch of kids in the performance and Missouri is having a COVID surge so their safety and health was a huge concern and the MUNY did a phenomenal job. Everyone stayed healthy for the three weeks that the cast was in rehearsal and doing the show.

And because my kid was in the performance, can I please mention how incredibly proud I am of her. Kate has worked so hard to get into and stay in this business. She makes what she does look effortless … kind of like the best athletes, gymnasts, and yes, knitters. I know that it’s not as easy as she makes it look and I really admire her talent and determination, her persistence, too. She’s incredible and she was the best Maria yet. (There, I said it!)

This trip was also a bit of a reunion with a dear Cincinnati friend! She grew up in St. Louis and was a wonderful tour guide. We picked up where we left off way too many years ago.It was wonderful. We were able to see the Sound of Music twice in the two evenings that we were there. We found a downpour when we tried to meet with my daughter and her husband for coffee and ended up making a quick exit to the car. We spent a lot of time in the incredible park that houses the theater and was the model for Central Park in New York City. What a phenomenal resource for the citizens of St. Louis!

Friends!

I’ll just be over here recovering from all the fun, late hours, lots of chatting and catching up!

Look at me, writing twice in two days! LOL! Gone knitting.