Monday, May 30, 2011


Ally in France
I haven't written recently because we've all been so busy seeing Ally off to France and  getting ready for Kate's graduation.  Ally arrived safely in Paris with her college group and is now installed in an apartment in Strasbourg where they are apparently walking her to death seeing the sights.  She's supposed to be reading Moliere's Tartuffe tonight. 

Kate's graduation was a wonderful event.  I drove down to Lexington on Thursday and picked up Dad and my friend Linda so they could celebrate with us.  The weather looked really chancy for the baccalaureate on Thursday night, but the rain held off and the girls' dresses weren't ruined.

We are so proud of Kate.  She not only received awards for National Honor Society and high grades and high SAT scores, but she also received a special service award that was only awarded to four students who demonstrated extraordinary service to the school.  

So, here's the photo album from the graduation.  If you want to see even MORE pictures, go to my Flickr account.

Ready to graduate

She's got the diploma

The magic moment when the bishop gives her the diploma

Two of the boys with their tails, top hats
and canes

Posing with Mr. & Mrs. Burden, who are retiring this year

Proud Papaw

Kate displays her Micky Mouse earred mortarboard
Kate relaxes and gets ready to move on to college

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy Weekend, Lots of Pictures & Sheep Butts

It's been a busy weekend.  I went down to Lexington and stayed with my Dad.  On Saturday, my friend, Linda, and I went to the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival and met Lynne and her friend, Kerry there.

Here are some pictures from the Festival:   

Sheep Butts:  Shorn & Unshorn

Linda feeds a llama
Adorable baby llama

My friend, Barb, taught a class
and sold her wares at the festival

Some of Barb's Goodies

This sheep is posing for the camera

Look at this sweet face!

On Sunday, Dad and I went to church together and went out for lunch. Then we went back to the house to clean out closets. 

Dad at 86
We're hoping to find Heidi a new home.  Heidi was my Mom's dog and Dad -- being an oldtime farm boy -- doesn't have much use for pets.  As my brother Frank says, Dad needs to uncomplicate his life as much as possible.  So, I put an ad in Craigslist and we've had a lot of people contact us, but -- even though they say they're coming -- no one has actually come to see her.  I don't really understand it.  Dad has waited around several times and the people just don't show up.  It's like an elaborate practical joke.  Maybe we question them too closely about their ability to care for her, but we only want her to go to a good home and she needs a fenced in yard because she's a runner.  I'm sad to see her go, but if we can find a good home for her it'll be for the best. 

I got home last night at 10:30 utterly exhausted, but it was a good weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank Goodness

Today, I'm not forcing it.  I really feel grateful.  Andy (the rabbit) seems to have recovered from a nasty case of wool block and is eating again.  And, in the process, we learned how attached we are to the little guy.  He's an old rabbit and he's going to go sometime -- but not today. 

My girls are home safely from school and tucked up in bed, where college students should be at 10:00 in the morning.  Well, Kate's not quite a college student yet, but she's done with all of her high school work and only has to graduate next week.  Ally brought home two carloads of stuff from her dorm.  She and Jeff spent most of the day yesterday packing it up and hauling it home.  They didn't get in until midnight, so it's all still sitting piled up in the cars.  I hope she has a plan for it, because it won't fit in the house.

So far this morning, I've been to the gym, put dinner in the crock pot and made a big pot of coffee for myself.  It's a good day. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gentle Hearts

Today's good things are the gentle hearts around me.  It's been highly emotional around here for the last couple of days.  Yesterday was Kate's last real day of high school.  We're all feeling the ending of an era.  As they went out to their cars yesterday, Jeff and Kate exchanged a formula farewell that they've used for years -- a few lines from "The Princess Bride" -- and then both of them had to come back inside to get tissues. 
Then, at school, there was a farewell party for Mr. & Mrs. Burden, a much loved elderly teacher and her sometimes substitute-teacher husband.  The Burdens are an institution around Villa, a devoted and deeply religious couple.  They tragically lost their only child four or five years ago.  One of Kate's classmates gave such a stirring tribute at the party that the principal just threw up her hands, unable to add to it.  Kate hugged the Burdens and then burst into tears. 

On the homefront, Andy the French angora buck is not himself.  Yesterday he seemed tottery in his cage -- like he was off balance -- and he seemed to be having trouble staying awake.  My friend Annette gently pointed out that an eight year old rabbit is an old rabbit.   We're giving him kale and hay, just in case it's only wool block ... although I cut his hair short a couple of weeks ago.

I filled Kate in on Andy's condition when she got home  and she agreed that he didn't seem himself.  When I got back from the grocery store, she was in the back yard with him in her arms, singing softly to him.  She said he seemed to suffer from the cold wind blowing on him, so we brought him indoors and she cuddled with him on the couch.  He did seem to perk up a bit in the house.  He snuggled up to her, gave her little licks and did his rabbit purr -- the contented teeth clicking noise that happy rabbits sometimes make.  We couldn't bear to put him back outside -- and Jeff's out of town -- so I brought one of the garage cages into the family room and let him stay indoors.  It really is unseasonably cold outside. 

Sam (left), Andy (right) & Marilyn (above)
 This morning I don't know what to think.  He still seems a bit lethargic, but he may be better.  He's sleeping a lot, but he ate the kale I offered him this morning with relish and he's been nibbling at his hay.  He just hopped around the cage like his old self -- and then he settled back in the corner with his head down and went back to sleep.  Maybe it's just wool block and he'll be back to normal in a few days ... and maybe not.  In either case, he's had a good life and he's been loved. 

Oh, my.  He just started thumping at me.  He's getting some of his grumpy old man temperment back.  When Kate got home from school she let him out into the family room and he thinks he's a house rabbit now.  She says he goes back to the cage to do his business and hops around the room otherwise.  Jeff is not going to like this development when he gets back tonight.  I still don't think Andy's out of the woods -- he still looks under the weather to me -- but he does seem better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Editing Life

Today's good thing is knowing how to fix things.  Things go wrong.  It's inevitable.  But there's a sense of satisfaction in being able to correct a problem, fix a mistake or repair something that's broken. 

Over the weekend I had occasion to fix several things. Kate was helping me find something in the mess on my dresser and accidently knocked my new bunny and lamb Swarovski figurines to the floor.  Both of them lost an ear.  She was upset about it and afraid that I'd be mad, but accidents happen.  With a little clear-drying glue, I was able to glue the ears back on and no one but Kate and I will ever know the difference.   

In another incident, Sam was jumping up on the laundry room door and got his foot caught in a necklace that Kate had hung on a doorknob there.  The string broke, spilling colored beads everywhere.  It wouldn't have been worth saving except that it was necklace of my Mother's that Kate had adopted and she loved it.  So, I sat down last night and restrung it.  Now it's good as new -- maybe better because I put it on stronger beading wire.

Similarly, I've had to unknit rows and rows of the second Mizar sock that I'm working on.  But I have the joy of seeing the perfect pattern unfolding at last. 

This morning, I noticed that one of my african violets is looking sort of puny.  I investigated and I think it's suffering from damp feet as a result of being in a pot too big for it.  I repotted it into a smaller pot and I think it'll do fine. 

So -- things don't always go right, but there is satisfaction in correcting the damage.   

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I'm back from my business trip to lovely Dayton, Ohio and I need to get back on track. 

My weight loss has plateaued tantalizingly just above the 200 mark -- I would give anything to be in the 100s again, but no matter what I do the scale just seems to be stuck and that's depressing me.  Sixty-five pounds is a lot, but in my case it's not enough.  I don't expect to get model thin, but I was told to expect a 100 pound drop.  And, by God, that's what I want.  I'm just one size above being able to shop in the "normal" Ladies department rather than the Women's department (read Plus Size) and I really want that. 

Mother's Day was sort of a drag too.  As Monk would say, "It's a blessing and a curse."  My family was super nice to me and I certainly can't complain there.  But I missed my Mom.  One of my friends -- actually a person I wasn't sure was my friend any more -- thought of that and sent me the sweetest card acknowledging that this was a difficult Mother's Day for me.  That was very lovely and much appreciated.  No one else mentioned Mom ... and I didn't either ... but it was in my heart. 

The day before Mother's Day, I visited with Dad and learned -- from his computer, not from him -- that he's signed up with a bunch of internet dating sites for seniors.  I was shocked and saddened -- but I know he's lonely and I can't fill that void.  While I was there, the climbing rose that I gave Mom for her last birthday was blooming and I took a blossom home.  It's called Zephirine Drouhin and it's an antique climber with the powerful fragrance of most antique roses.  I just sat and sniffed it all the way home.  I think I may order one for my house. 

I sort of wish I'd hear something from Mom.  I know that sounds freaky, but I've felt Jeff's Mom's presence several times since her death.  I'll suddenly smell her perfume or get a feeling of her presence.  It's probably just mind games, but it happens.  Not so with my own Mom.  Maybe she's so happy where she is that she doesn't feel a need to visit.  Or maybe I'm just loopy. 

I definitely need to get back on the "good things" track.  Today's good thing is being home again from Dayton.  It was kind of nice to get out of the house, but a business trip has its own stresses and challenges.  Today, I'm back in my bathrobe in the basement among my african violets with my dog -- and it's comfortable. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Who LIves in a Pineapple Under the Sea?!

I'm on a business trip to lovely Dayton, Ohio.  Ho-hum.  So this will be short and sweet. 

One thing that bothers me about the gym is the whole sports-obsessed atmosphere.  There are a bunch of TVs to entertain you while you work out, but they're all tuned to ESPN, as if anyone really wanted to watch that.  :)  Well, anyway, not me.  The eliptical machines and the treadmills all have their own flat screen TVs  so you can choose your own channel and listen with the ear jacks. (If you remember to bring ear phones, which I never do.)  So, do I watch CNN or the Today show?  No, I tune in Spongebob Squarepants while I'm on the eliptical machine.

Today, I had to smile.  I looked over at the treadmills and there was this buff guy with huge shoulders watching Spongebob too.  We're Spongebob buddies! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Socks! ... um ... Sock.

I kitchenered my Mizar sock this morning.  It's a beautiful, if somewhat difficult, pattern.  I sort of made up the instructions for doing the toe -- I felt like I'd already bothered Anna Zilboorg enough with questions about her pattern!

The shine from the silk makes it difficult to capture a picture of the intricate twisted traveling stitches. 

Here we see the heel -- the reason I chose this pattern -- which is richly patterned to be shown off in clogs.  (Ignore the cankles.)

And here is the sock at rest, waiting for its mate.  I'll have to take a deep breath before casting on again.  Fortunately, I made notes to myself as I went along, so the second sock should be a little easier. 

This morning, Neil Pasricha was a guest on the Today Show,  He's the guy who started the idea of having a blog of awesome things to be thankful for.  People liked his idea and his blog so much that he's won awards and has two published books of awesome things.  He inspired me to try to blog at least one thing I'm thankful for every day.  And, I must say, I think it's helped me look on the bright side. 

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (DOES anyone read this blog regularly?) knows that I don't actually feel like being thankful every day.  Some days suck.  But, looking back, there is a lot to be thankful for.  More often than not, there is beauty and grace and kindness in my life.  I'm glad that I've made a permanent record of the little joys, so they don't get lost.  I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, but I once heard a prayer that goes something like this:  "Oh, Lord, don't let my soul get caught in the machinery of everyday life."  This blog gives me a chance to step away from the machinery and think about what really matters for a few minutes each day. 

Last, but not least (how trite is that!?), I've been enjoying the pictures from my friend Judy's trip to Australia.  She's an artist, so naturally she has an eye for beauty.  She got a lot a fabulous shots that are well worth looking at if you have some time.  She inspired me to dig up this picture of Ally and me riding camels in the outback when we were in Australia about 10 years ago.    That's Kate to the far right of the shot.  We all had cool leather Australian hats.  That was a memorable trip and it sounds like Judy's was too.  "Australia! Australia! Australia!  We love you! Amen"  (Monty Python)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Capability Brown, I Need You

Never let it be said that once I have the bit in my teeth I don't go all out!  I liked having the plant light and african violet on my desk so much that I've created an entire garden down here in the basement. 

I went to the Cincinnati African Violet Show & Sale on Saturday and hung around talking to the club members for about two hours.  I ended up buying nine new plants!  So, from none I went to four and now thirteen!  I put a plant lightbulb in an old desk lamp and bought a broken fluorescent desk lamp for $3 at Goodwill and fixed it.  I put them on an old timer and, voila, indoor garden. 

I love this red one.  It's called "Saturn." 

I got five miniature african violets.  Some of these will never get any bigger and some are just young plants.  I'm not really sure which are which without looking them up.  I guess time will tell ... if I can keep them alive.

The ladies at the club assured me that growing them in the basement was perfectly fine and that most of the club members grow their violets under artificial lights.  Who knew?

I've had a lot of fun this weekend researching the different types, repotting them and admiring them.

The wire rack for stash yarn was finally repaired and I reorganized and replaced the yarn.  The rest of Wool & Bull is a disaster -- hence, no pictures of that.  Just look at those neat racks and imagine that the rest of my workspace -- indeed, my whole house -- is that tidy.