Friday, June 15, 2012

Just in time for summer

We are finally replacing our deck. The original was built when the house was built 20 years ago, and has been decaying rapidly. In fact, if you dared to go down the stairs (it is on the upper level of our home), you were taking your life in your hands.

The old deck was small, and didn't have enough space to really be useful at all. But now? Oh, it will be terrific! We extended it by 4 feet, and it's amazing what a difference that seemingly little bit makes. The base of the deck is that wonderful recycled plastic that looks like wood. Easy care, long lasting. So much better. And the railing will be wrought iron posts with wood rails. I need to get some wood sealer for the few wood parts, but it will be so much nicer than it was before. Here's where we are at this point:


The little dogs approve. And it's done enough that I can go out and sit on the edge and hang my feet over. Loving it already!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life is busy . . .

but what's new? I am glad I have lots of options to keep my busy actually. And lots has happened here in the past few weeks.

First, I have actually been crocheting still. I have two new shawls started, but neither one of them is finished. I will get them done soon and post updated pictures, but for now you can see the starts of them. I like both patterns very much and am glad I chose to make them.

Shawl #1:
And shawl #2:

Second, my daughter and her husband cam home from Germany (where they've been living for the past  10 months) last week! We had them here at our house for a week. It was nice to have them here and be able to spend time with them after not seeing them for so long. She is crazy sometimes Here is a picture that she took of herself on my iPad:
and she is an awesome blogger. You should go read her blog. You can find it at http://www.itsalyx.com/. Really, she's pretty good at this blogging thing. Lots better than I am! And she even writes about me once in a while. But that's not why you should read it. :-)

Third, I love reading good books. I love reading, but I love it when I come across an outstanding book, and I did this week. One of my book clubs is reading "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh this month, so I sat down yesterday to start it, thinking I'd read for a little while, then do some other things. The other things? Yeah. They never got done. That book demanded to be read in one sitting. Those characters? They needed my attention. Oh my goodness, it was an amazing book. I loved it. I know I will read it again. I highly recommend you read it too.

Oh, and on another reading note, I just updated my list of books read this year. I haven't checked my pacing to reach 100 for the year in a little while and I think I might be just a little behind on my pace, but I've got some really good titles all lines up. You can see my updated list if you just click on that little tab up there.

On another book-y note, I got to go to another author signing tonight. Our independent bookstore is amazing at how they get authors in. Tonight was Laura Moriarty, and she was wonderful. Here she is talking to the group:
She was funny, and entertaining, and kind and fun to talk too. I was near the end of the signing line and got to spend a few minutes visiting with her. I had already met her before the signing as she was sitting with the owner of the store, who I happen to know. What a lovely person Laura is. And her writing is lovely too. I have not read her newest book, but am very much looking forward to it.

If you've read this far, thanks! And I'll try not to save quite so much up for next time!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Graduation (a little late) for real!

I promised I would come back and write a post for real about graduation, so here it is! It's hard to believe that I am old enough to have three kids out of high school already, but there it is. I shouldn't be so surprised since my 30-year high school reunion is this year too. Wow, where has the time gone?

Anyway, we had a lovely day and I am so proud of my graduate. He graduated with honors and will be heading off to BYU in August. For the summer though, he is lifeguarding at the local water park. It's good for him to finally have a job.

Graduation was pretty much a typical graduation. Lots of people and cheering and a good group of kids heading out into the world. The graduating class was 417 kids and there were times that I thought we'd never get to the end of the green caps and gowns, but we did. He didn't really want anything too big (after all, Senior Celebration is where it's at!) so after the ceremony we took some fun pictures around the campus of the university where the ceremony was held and then went off to Olive Garden with my sister's family to celebrate.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

He's the tall one at the right.

Here he is actually getting his diploma case (because of course they have to go get their diploma on the way back to their seats).


 Here he is with his dad and me.

 This is one of my favorite sculptures on the campus—a demolished piano. I don't think he looks angry enough to have done all this damage . . . ;-)

Another one. He needed to take a little walk with these ladies.

 I think this one is my favorite. I am a happy mom!



Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's graduation day!

Not mine, of course, but my son's. Third child and it just doesn't seem possible that we can be at this point already. Surely I am not old enough to have a *third* kid who is graduating already, am I? Alas, I guess I am.

It's a windy, warm Kansas day, pretty much typical for this time of year. But the sun is shining and that's a happy thing. Camera batteries are charged and toenails are painted (mine, of course) and dress shirt is in the dryer (his, of course). Yarn project is ready to go (I know what's important!) and I have a paperback in my bag too.

I think we are ready. OK, ready for the ceremony, not so sure I am as ready for the reaching this point with another child. I'm really starting to feel old!

I promise an update with photos later. As for now, here is one of the graduate from last summer:


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A trip to the Northeast (well, a little of it anyway)

I had the opportunity this past weekend to travel to Pennsylvania and New Jersey to spend a few days with a very good friend whose oldest son was having his bar mitzvah. Not only did I get to see a small part of the country I have never seen before, I got to spend time with a dear friend and her family, get my own personal rabbi (more on that later), and learn a ton about the Jewish faith (mostly the Conservative movement). Oh, and I actually got a little crocheting in too! All in all it was a pretty great weekend.

The reason for the trip was the bar mitzvah. Not being Jewish, and having never attended a Jewish service, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. But my hosts are an incredibly lovely family, and shared many, many tenets of their faith with me. It was truly inspiring to see the reverence, respect and love they have for the scriptures (and I am using my term). And watching a 13-year-old who is truly inspired by his faith was a wonderful experience. It was incredible to watch him during the Shabbat service and see how well prepared he was, both because of the efforts of his parents and his own efforts. The members of his synagogue also know how special he is because they all tried to claim him as their own! I don't blame them.

Now, how did I get my own rabbi? Easy. My friend's best friend is a rabbi in Boston. She came up for the bar mitzvah, and I swear it was liking finding a long lost sister. Oh, my goodness did we have fun. And it was so cool having not just really great people (my friends) to answer my questions about the Jewish faith and culture, but then I had a rabbi available to answer my questions too, and sometimes that was good because I stumped my friends. In fact, we were having such a great theological discussion on Sunday afternoon on the way to the party for the bar mitzvah boy and his friends, that I completely fell down on my job as navigator and we had to take the "scenic route" to get there. That's OK, it just meant that I got to see more of PA than I might have otherwise. We did, however, decide to limit our theological discussions to times when I was either making sure I was navigating or there was no navigation involved. I love that I've been invited to ask any and all questions that come up. Any time.

The crocheting that took place was also bar mitzvah related. I had intended to make some kippot for the bar mitzvah before I got out there, but didn't get around to it. I did get two made while I was there and they were a hit. Here they are:

No. 1:
No. 2:

And boy am I glad I can make these things pretty quickly. I came home with orders from the other kids for some. :-)

Here's me with my good friend SuperM:

Yes, this is proof that we actually did get to spend some time together. We got to spend a day together last August, too, but we have no visual proof of that visit.

And see? I really was in New Jersey!


Last very cool fact about my trip? My friend lives within walking distance of where George Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas during the Revolutionary War. How awesome is that? So now I can say I have seen one more important place in U.S. history.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Still on track to read 100 books

Hello again. I thought I'd pop in with a little update as to what's been happening lately. First, I'll address the title of the post. I am, indeed, still on track to read 100 books this year. I am enjoying reading in a way that I haven't in quite a long time. Before grad school was probably the last time I was getting so much pleasure from reading. I read 10 books this month!

And even while spending so much of my time reading, I even managed to do a little crochet. It helps that we had a short road trip and while I can't read in the car because I get motion sickness, I can crochet in the car with no ill effects whatsoever. I will add a little bit about the road trip here in a moment. The crochet project is one I've posted about earlier, but it's now much further along. I need to work on it some more tonight so that it will be ready to WIP the 1st tomorrow (for my Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup friends, you'll understand!). Here's where it stood before it got too dark to work on it anymore on the trip home:


I really love the way these natural colors are working in this shawl and it is going to be a nice large shawl to wrap up in. I still need to decide what kind of edging I want to put on it. I'd like something that will add to it but not be too lacy or ruffly or that. Something that looks rather organic and sets off the yarn and the pattern. No shells either. :-)

Now, about that little road trip. We went to Kansas City to go through the open house of the new LDS temple that was just built in Kansas City. I thought I was going to miss out, but then the open house was extended a week to accommodate all the people who wanted to visit. So Saturday morning we met up with friends and made the trip up to KC. The weather was lovely and so was the company.

Here's a picture of the temple (I think this one looks like a painting):


This temple is a medium-size one. It's not as big as LA or Oakland or Salt Lake, but it's a lot bigger than Oklahoma City. And it is beautiful.

Here's a picture of the front, including the fountain (which is also really pretty in it's own right):


And of course, being at the temple is always better with friends. This is me with my dear friend Linda. A gentleman asked us earlier if we were sisters. We chuckled a little, then we realized after looking at this picture, that maybe he wasn't so far off. I consider her one of my sisters by choice.


We had a pretty wonderful day, and I am so grateful I didn't miss the open house!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Still here . . .

Well, it's Wednesday. Two days until Friday, which is actually the Friday of my workweek, which is still a little strange to me after years of working odd shifts. And I'm very much looking forward to my weekend this week. I don't always, but I am tonight.

Maybe I should have titled this post Weird Wednesday, because that's what it's been. Not that anything all that unusual happened. In fact, I don't think anything unusual at all happened. It's just more an internally weird Wednesday. Much on my mind and things to ruminate over.

And yarn. Yes, yarn wanted to play a role in my life today. It wants to be a shawl. I'm kind of surprised it started talking to me today, but I'll take it. My yarn has been rather silent for a while now. Maybe it was the purchase of a new skirt, tank and sweater that made it decide to start talking again. The skeins that talked are a perfect match for that new outfit. So at least something prompted them to talk. Finally!

I don't have a picture of the outfit, or the yarn, and I really should take one, but since it's already 10:30, it's going to have to wait.

Another weird thing about today? I went shopping. Out of the blue. One the way home from work. I don't do that. In fact, I don't often shop. But today was weird. And that shopping trip (one store is all) was where aforementioned outfit was purchased. Along with a pair of light turquoise Chucks. A color I've been yearning for. And at a good price. Also, a totally fun new pillow for the basement couch. It has adorable birds on it.

So, I guess I have a job now. To take pictures of the fun things that made it home with me today.

Just wanted to check in and say that I am still here. Feeling weird, but it's Wednesday, so that's OK. Wonder what Thursday will bring?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Procrastination and other diversions

Well, I am not reading enough books this month to keep on pace for my 100 books goal. But I did just finish a book today and am ready to start a new one, but I am here instead, hence the procrastination in the title of this post. I do, however, have seven books checked out from two different libraries, so have plenty of reading material sitting on my bookcase. One will get started shortly. I do love reading a good book!

And on the note of good books, I also love listening to a good book when it's read well. And a book that is only available as an audio book? Well that thought was intriguing, and what made it even more intriguing to me was that it is the story of Macbeth. Yes, Shakespeare's Macbeth. Now, I love Shakespeare. Love. Him. Usually I don't want anyone messing with his stuff. But after I listened to a snippet of this book on Audible.com, I was hooked. It is read by Alan Cumming, and let me tell you, that Scottish brogue just makes me melt. The story is now nearly 10 hours long, rather than the just about 3 hours of the play. So much really awesome backstory and great detail you don't get when all you are reading is dialogue. Think of it as all the stuff you might see on a set or stage, but in finely wrought detail.

We've also had other diversions that have kept me from getting quite as much reading time in. Like a tornado. Yes, it was way too close for comfort. Like a half-mile away from my house. Luckily all we have to show for it is a (nearly dry) partially flooded basement after a few hours of no power and therefore no sump pump.

Here is the track the tornado took on Saturday, April 14. The link will take you to an interactive map of the tornado that the Wichita office of the National Weather Service posted on its site. Amazing really. And even more amazing is that no one was killed or seriously hurt in that tornado. There sure was some significant damage around the area though.

Here's just an example (photo from Kansas.com gallery of aerial photos of damage):


I tell you, it makes me feel like a little flooding is nothing, and it really is.

On the yarn front, nothing new is happening now. I really do need to get the toes on my socks finished so I can put a picture of them here. And that shawl I started what feels like ages ago. And probably at least a couple of those other projects that are sitting in my basket unfinished. As soon as I get anything finished, I promise to put photos of it here.

I guess I don't have any more photos to share today. That kind of makes me sad. Unless I can see if there is something I took a picture of and don't remember and can share it with you just for fun. Let's see . . .

OK! This is a good one. Typical thunderhead building in the Kansas sky.

And while scrolling through those photos, I did find one more recent diversion. I still occasionally pick up a shift at the newspaper where I worked as a copy editor. One day recently (a couple of weeks ago) I had just gotten into the newsroom, sat down and logged in, when we were told there was a fire in the building and we had to get out. Well, there were no fire alarms going off in the building, so how could that be? Come to find out, they were going off — in the basement and the first floor press room, but not the second or third floors. Oops. We got out and what with the fire danger of a newspaper building on fire with all that paper and ink and all kinds of flammable materials (you should see those reporters' desks!) there were a whole lot of fire engines that reported to the scene. At least 12 I believe, and at least 25 firefighters. Here are the two we saw in the back of the building:



I guess that's enough excitement for the month of April. Can I hope it ends on a quieter note?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Princesses and such

OK, I admit it. I am a total sucker for princesses. I know all the reasons we shouldn't encourage little girls to want to be princesses, but honestly, who doesn't have at least one princess they love? My favorite is Cinderella. Always has been. I don't know if it's the fairy godmother (always wanted one of those myself, actually) or just how hard she worked before the prince found her. I mean, she rode to the ball in a pumpkin and nearly got crushed in it after the ball when she almost missed her midnight curfew!

So I was out buying batteries for the Wii Fit balance board (and a cute green cover for it too, by the way) and found this little princess, who I immediately knew needed a home on my desk. Isn't she cute? She makes me smile when I look at her.

I also found the best sandwich container ever. OK, so I love my Wonder bread one and have used it forever.

And I do love it, but sometimes a girl just has to have some options. So I got this one so I have some options:


Yeah, I know, more princesses. Not sure why I was so overcome with the desire to add some princesses to my daily stuff, but I was. And what's really weird about it is that I am so not a girly girl.

Jeans, Converse, T-shirts. These are my favorite things. In fact, my daughter does a What I Wore Wednesday on her blog. If I did it, it would look the same all the time, with the exception of the color of my Converse. Today they are white. Yesterday they were green. The day before they were red. I also have orange, blue, green plaid, purple, red and gold plaid (go 49ers!!) and some others. Love them. LOVE. Them. And my jeans. Oh, I adore my jeans. So, yeah. Not such a girly girl. But apparently I still love my princesses.

Friday, April 06, 2012

A crazy week

And I feel like I have little to show for it. Those weeks are frustrating to me. I did work all my regular hours at the library, plus I picked up two shifts at the paper, so that's where a lot of my time went. Then one whole afternoon went to mowing the front and back lawns (ick!). Needless to say, I haven't done much reading (other than on my lunch hour) or played much with yarn (at all!).

But I did finally figure out how to add a page to my blog, and now I have a place to track all the titles of books that I read in my quest to read 100 books this year.

I am way off pace already this month. Not even one book read! I am halfway through one and cheated and put it on my list already because I know I am going to finish it—probably tomorrow (or maybe even tonight if I get off the computer and go read!). I have a start on another one. And lots more in the queue.

Also, I really want to play in yarn at least a little bit. I started another Eva's shawl and have worked on it a little bit here and there. Here's a picture of it (it's not great, but you get the idea):


Tomorrow I teach a beginning crochet class in the morning, then should have a little free time. Wonder if I will read or crochet? I have another shawl pattern that I desperately want to make and the yarn is all wound and ready to go. I guess it's time to load up another audiobook that I really want to listen too. Oh, wait! I just recently bought the complete Lord of the Rings on audiobook (not the dramatizations, the real books) on CD. Maybe I should upload those and listen. And I need to get The Hobbit too. Must.

Off to peruse my Audible library and see what catches my interest (if anything can beat out Tolkein).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

100 books — this year!

So I have set a goal to read 100 books this year. When I realized that I am reading a lot more than I have in a long time, I figured, "Why not?" I will admit right up front that a few of those will be audiobooks. I refuse to let my membership to Audible.com go to waste! But I don't think there will be all that many. I love sitting down with a good book too much.

And of course, the fact that my books-to-read list is growing exponentially since I began working at the library doesn't hurt at all either. I need to have some motivation to get through at least *some* of the books I want to read. I am also finding myself using my Goodreads account more often now too. It's another good way to track (although I haven't put everything I've read this year on there) what I'm reading and what I want to read. Sometimes, though, when I read one of those fast, fun cozy mysteries that only take a few hours? Well, those don't always get put into Goodreads. I get finished with them before I have a chance to enter them.

Also? War and Peace is off my to-read list for this year. Just doesn't work with this particular goal. :-)

Here's a book I just started today, after it was highly recommended by a couple of friends:


It's the first in a series of mysteries set in a small Canadian town. I checked it out from the library before I went to lunch. I have to say, it is pretty incredible to be able to have tens of thousands of books just a few steps from my desk. Every day. (OK, except weekends.)

I have to say that this will likely cut into my yarn time this year though. I am OK with that. I have missed reading more than I realized. But that's why a few audiobooks are a good idea. I can knit or crochet and "read" at the same time!

That's pretty much it for now. I have a book to get back to!

Oh, I guess I should tell you where I stand in reaching my goal. As of today, I have read 25 books. One-quarter of the way there. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of spring and yarn and books

I've been feeling like I need to write a post for a while now, but every time I sit down at the computer I get so sidetracked that I don't get one done. The winter here in Kansas was really mild this year, and spring has come early and with a vengeance. As I look out the window behind my computer monitor, the big maple tree is turning green. The redbud just out of my view is bursting out in a splendor of pink

and the Bradford pears have all traded their little white flowers in for bright green leaves. And the phlox in my little garden by the front door is a riot of purple:


I love this plant. I do nothing to it all year long, except maybe water it once in a while in the summer (when it is a pretty green ground cover). Then every spring it rewards me with all this color! And between it and the house I can see the beginnings of my Shasta daisies coming up. I love daisies; they are such cheerful flowers.

I am not much of a gardner; in fact, I would say I'm not a gardner at all, but these simple things bring a lot of joy. What doesn't bring so much joy is the mowing of the grass, which happened for the first time this season. It probably should have happened last week, but it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained. And that meant it was even more necessary by yesterday. Thankfully, my husband set the height on the mower high enough that it left all my little yellow dandelions in my grass. I know, I know, they are supposedly noxious weeds, but I love the little things! They make me smile at their pretty yellow, especially when the grass is all so bright green, like this:


I love lots of color, no matter how bad a gardner I am, so sometimes I try to add color in ways that I can't kill, like this fun metal pinwheel (that doesn't actually spin so much, but is so cute!):


And of course, my colors aren't all just outside. I love lots and lots of color in my yarn too. I haven't succeeded in getting a lot of knitting or crocheting done lately, but I have made a couple of ponchos and am working on finishing a pair of socks. Speaking of riots of color, how cool are all these mini skeins?


Someday I hope they will be parts of a Beekeeper's Quilt (pattern can be found on Ravelry), cute, squooshy little hexagons of happiness.

What has been taking my time away from yarn lately? Well, it's books. I have to say, working in a library is just deadly if I am trying to keep my books-to-read list at some kind of reasonable size—say keeping it at only enough titles that I can read in this lifetime and not so many titles it will take me till the end of forever to read them all.

But reading is awesome. It's so fun to escape into another world for a little while. Sometimes that world looks a lot like a world I am familiar with, such as the newspaper newsroom world in Brad Parks' novels "Faces of the Gone" and "The Girl Next Door." Sometimes it's a world I can only imagine (and then make it up as I go along) such as in "The Hunger Games." And sometimes it just brings history to life, such as in "Pope Joan" or "1776."

I have read (or listened to, but have only listened to about five) 23 books since the beginning of January. It's been a long time since I've sat down and read that much, and I am loving it! No, I don't get to read all day because I work at the library, but I sure am reading a lot more than I have in a long time.

When was the last time you visited your local library and checked out a book to read? Has it been a while? Go! Visit. Check out a book (or several). Find a big shade tree, sit down under it and read. Escape. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another finished project—and one started

I am focusing on finishing the many languishing crochet and knit projects that I have hanging around my house (although I have to say that when I went through and sorted project bags and things there weren't as many as I thought there would be!). It's nice to have a focus, but I admit I had to start a new project the other day. Couldn't help it. Really. The yarn was calling to me. OK, not calling, shouting really. Yelling and yelling, "Please, please, PLEASE crochet me up RIGHT NOW!" Yes, that's exactly what is was saying to me. Truly. And you just can't resist that, can you?

So I finished another project first, then succumbed. I had a pair of worsted weight socks, short house socks, that I had started a few months ago. One was finished and the other started. I decided it was time to get them done so that I can wear them during the winter. I am sure they will see plenty of wear in the summer as well when my feet get cold from the air conditioning. And here they are:


They really are comfortable and make my nice shearling slippers even warmer. No more cold toes for me!!

And since they got finished and I allowed myself to succumb to that siren call of yarn (and wanting desperately to support my favorite NFL team in the playoffs), I started this scarf/shawl:


It's a little further along now, with the next section of red started, and it's going to be lovely and warm. I will have enough yarn to make myself a matching hat as well. Now, to get some good work on it done before Saturday's game. Do you know who my team is? It's the team that's been my favorite forever and always. Even over the many years that they didn't win and sometimes were downright pathetic. Well, they have had a great season this year and it's so nice to have them back!


Oh, yeah. We really want to beat the Saints!! Go 49ers!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year, new hopes?

I've nearly abandoned this poor blog over the past year. It's time to rectify that. I need to just take a few minutes and write a little once in a while. It likely will still focus mostly on yarn, but maybe I'll branch out a little bit this year. It's been a rough year for our family, but I am going to try to focus on the positive here. There is always a positive to be seen, even if you have to dig deeply to find it.

So, quick update? I got a new job working in a library. Woot! I really love libraries and the people I work with are totally great. It's a lot of fun and keeps me busy. Also still actively playing with the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC) on Ravelry. This term I am playing as a Student on Sabbatical in the hopes of focusing on some of those many unfinished projects I have going. When I went through my WIP (work in progress) basket, I realized the situation isn't quite as dire as I had imagined. At least half the project bags in it were just plans—the yarn and pattern for a specific project. Those actually get me in a really great place for after those other projects are complete.

Here's the first one I finished:


It's been waiting to be finished for at least a couple of years, and I love that it's done. It's really pretty big and will be great to curl up in when it's cold (and this time of year I am always cold).

Now I'm finishing up a pair of worsted weight socks. Just the toe to go on the second sock. It feels pretty good to be getting these things done. I'll post a photo of the socks when they are finished too.