Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Run

Last Saturday morning, my husband and I got up at 5am so that we could participate in the Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Half Marathon and 10K. We were both very excited, and were looking forward to testing ourselves and our training.

We headed downtown shortly after my mother-in-law arrived to take care of the girls at 6. By 6:25 we were at our gym's tent, huddling to stay warm and dry with the rest of the running team Wilson's had put together for the event. It had been raining since about 4AM, and showed no signs of letting up. In fact, my husband checked weather radar on his iPhone shortly before he lined up for the half, and we discovered that not only was it going to continue raining - probably through the entire race - but that it was going to get worse before it got better. Ah well, better rainy and cold than already 85 degrees and humid by 7 AM!

The half marathoners - about 650 of them - started at 7, and the rest of us - another 450 or so - lined up shortly thereafter for the 10K. The starting line is a lot of fun, and I love the 'buzz' that's in the air as everyone laughs and jokes and waits for it to start. I quickly made friends with another woman from our gym, and listened in amazement as another woman told us about flying in from the MU game mere hours before the race started!

Perhaps I'm a bit short on the draw, but when my trainer, Meghan, had first asked me if I would run this race I hadn't realized that she intended to run it with me. In fact, I didn't realize that until maybe a couple of weeks ago. It's the first time I've ever had anyone to run with, and I LOVED it! Of course, having her there to encourage me during the one or two really tough parts of the course was a blessing, but mostly it was just fun to have company.

Our race started downtown, wound through MU's campus and around the football stadium. We then had one scary steep hill to go down, followed by a really tough trip up a major hill. I'm proud of the fact that I only broke to a walk at the very, very top of that hill. (Providence - heading towards Stadium, for you locals.) Then we got to go across a bridge and back down the other side. At the bottom we cut over to a running trail that led us to the MKT, which took us back downtown. Right as we made the transition to the first trail, we came across a band playing live music at one of the aid much fun! (The half marathoners had several more bands along their route!) More beneficial, though, was the fact that the last half of the race was in the woods and so we were protected from much of the rain for the rest of the race. The last two miles on the MKT were a gentle - but noticeable - uphill grade, which made me VERY thankful for all of the incline training I've been doing on the treadmill. The only real problem was that we had to go through a flooded underpass, and so we finished the last mile or so with soaking wet feet and legs. (I'm very sure that helped along the cold.)

Meghan knew my goal time, and shortly before we got to the finish lane she told me I was going to beat it. I was thrilled, and was able to finish with a big smile on my face! In fact, I was very surprised at exactly how good I felt when I finished.

Even better, though, was the surprise waiting for my at the finish line. Two of my very best friends in the world - Jenn and Aimee - were there to cheer me on! Honestly, I almost started to cry when I saw them both. Beyond just general conversation about the day, they hadn't let slip a single hint that they planned on being there, and so I was caught completely off guard when I saw heard them both screaming my name and waving for me. As soon as my time chip was off of my shoes I was swept up into big hugs by two of my three biggest supporters. They stayed with me to watch Sean finish a while later, and the three of us had a lot of fun sharing in the general atmosphere of the finish line.
One of my PEO sisters was also at the finish line, and she took a few pictures of us for me. I had to laugh a bit when I saw them because we look like drowned rats! However, we're very happy drowned rats! You can't see them clearly, but we are both clutching our finish prizes - pint glasses with the festival logo. I'm betting the organizers weren't planning on wet and cold when they chose that award, though, as every few minutes you heard one hit the ground! Most of us were so cold and wet that we could barely hold on!

I couldn't let the morning go without a picture of Meghan, too! After all, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have been there! She's a wonderful trainer, and an even better person, and I couldn't have asked for better support as I prepared for the race!

Afterwords, we stuck around for a bit, enjoying the BBQ provided for the runners. (Although, it was odd to be eating BBQ and slaw at 9AM.....) We also went to a coffee shop for something warm to drink before we headed home for much-needed warm showers. It was a very nice ending for a perfect morning.

So how did I do?

Well, my goal time was 1 hour and 30 minutes. I felt like this was all very reasonable given my last big training run at Watkins Mill State Park, my speed on the treadmill over the last few weeks, and the overall hilliness of the course.

My actual time was 1:14:47.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Be Back Soon...

I'm nursing a bit of a cold, probably made worse by two rather horrendous nights with little sleep. I'll be back just as soon as I'm feeling a wee bit better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm A Witch!

Look what my friend Paula gave me! Isn't it a delightful award! Thank you very much Paula, it makes my heart happy, and was a very special treat after a couple of rough days. The Green Woman thinks I need to print it out and post it on the wall in my room....and perhaps I shall.

In the spirit of passing it along, I've picked three very deserving friends of mine for a Domestic Witch Blog Award.

First, I'd like to award my BKB, Jenn. Sadly, she doesn't actually blog much anymore (and will probably kill me for this....) but I know what she does at home on a daily basis, and I can't think of anyone else who deserves this sort of award more.

Second, to my friend Jenny - who not only lives an amazing creative life, but who also has a garden which I consider to be truly magical.

Last - but not least - an award to the truly inspirational Lecia. Her blog is a daily treat, filled with beautiful photos and often containing brilliant ideas for parenting, cooking, and living a peaceful life.

Pride Goeth Before A Fall

I was going to have a fantastic post for you today....all about my most recently completed socks, which just so happen to be a rare case of Fancy in this household.

However, when I put them on yesterday I realized that I was going to have to completely rip out and redo the toe.


Because I didn't listen to the pattern, and put the toe decreases where I thought they should go. The pattern has clear instructions on how to center them, instructions which I felt were silly.

So when I put them on I discovered that the toe was skewed to the side, and really wasn't comfortable.

I also discovered that it was just a tad too short...despite my best measurements and several fittings.

SO, no Fancy Sock Post today.....

And by the way, to add insult to injury I actually wove in the ends as soon as I finished the socks....rather than waiting until their first official foray into the world. I did a really good job, and so it's going to be a trick to find them. Not to mention that I need a couple of extra rows worth of yarn now anyway.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Monday List

Morning light is just so full of possibilities, don't you think? And today I'm feeling that the world is just that I thought I would show you one of my favorite pictures again.

And without further ado, let's take a look at last week....

I'm happy to say that the only thing I didn't do in the 'Needs' section last week was to work on my series about my creative beginnings. Far from actually working on that, I seem to be actively avoiding it. That requires some thought....

Absolutely nothing got accomplished on either of the other lists, so there's just no point in revisiting that!

For this week:

The Needs:
  1. Take the car in for inspection and renew the plates. It's not exciting, but I did manage to procrastinate it until almost the last moment. Whoops.
  2. Continue training....the 10K is on Saturday and I can't wait!
  3. Finish my Deep in the Woods shawl. I'm in another 'finishing up' sort of mood, having discovered that I really can't start anything new until a couple of things - including this project - are finished.
  4. Clean the kitchen, living room and hall bathroom thoroughly for our company this week.
  5. Have the Princess write her first-ever official thank you note.
  6. Begin the pre-Christmas clean-out of the girls' rooms.
  7. And now for a shock....give in to the Green Woman's demands and start a sweater for myself.

The Wants:

  1. Write a letter. I just listened to the audio version of an epistolary novel (one of my favorite forms) and I'm just in the mood.
  2. A fun shopping trip with my BKB....necessary because I need some shoes. At this point, it's a go, but you never know when kids are involved!
  3. Set up the sewing machine so that I can start working on either more project bags or my quilt.

The Wishes:

Heck, it's going to be a busy week....I think I'm going to let go of any wishes this week.

Have a great week!

By the way, the Green Woman is still MIA....but she did leave an embroidery book on my bed last night....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear Green Woman,

When I find you, I'm going to wring your neck.

I did not appreciate it when I walked into my room yesterday to find that you had emptied most of my yarn onto my bed. Ditto for the fact that you had emptied all of my lace books, the stack of patterns I'd been dreaming over, and most of my needles onto the bed as well. I lost a good two hours yesterday trying to put everything to rights!

Don't think I haven't noticed that suddenly there is no more room on my knitting bookshelf....and a pile of new knitting books that need to be put somewhere. You're not so sneaky as you think you are. What on earth am I going to do?

I also know that you're the one whispering into my eldest child's ear that it's time to go to the craft store. She's been asking for days now.

And by the way, we've had the sweater conversation a dozen times...I am quite simply NOT going to be making sweaters for a while because my body is changing too much to invest in that activity right now! So it did you no good to get out that particular pattern yesterday, despite the fact that you took pains to put it right where I'd notice it.

The pile of fiber on the chair by my spinning wheel was a nice touch....

Look, I know you are bored right now. We are in 'production' mode, working to finish up baby gifts and produce socks to keep the family warm this winter. It's hardly the most exciting knitting, but in many ways it is satisfying and I'd like to be able to finish what I've started in relative peace.

Your antics yesterday did, in fact, distract me long enough to prevent me from actually accomplishing a few things. I know that's why you've disappeared today.....and I'm just waiting to see what you do next. I know you too well to think that you've simply decided to give it a rest.

Would it help if I promised some crazy lace as soon as we finish up? Or perhaps if we started working on that design project? I've got some handspun drying....and we could knit it next?

I'm just asking for you to be patient.....


Thursday, September 17, 2009


One little lime BSJ has become two little lime BSJs....
And my goodness, they make me happy!

As I was starting the second little jacket, I received an email from my sister-in-law. She needed extra-special baby gifts for her best friends, who are having twins, and she wanted to commission some knit pieces. We corresponded for a while, as she answered my questions and told me about her friends. On my request, she also sent me a picture so that I could see the happy couple!
When that picture came up on my screen, I looked down at the little jacket that I was working on in my lap...and just like that, I knew that these two jackets were meant for this particular family. Everything about them - from color to style to the intent they were knitted with to the value of handmade - echoed what I was being told about the expectant couple. I also had the growing conviction that the two BSJs shouldn't be split up...they were intended for twins, even if I hadn't known that when I started.
It's happened before - I'll finish a shawl that I had begun for myself, and immediately will know that it belongs to someone else. I must say that after so many of these experiences, I do believe that sometimes my knitting calls to it's intended home, and so I trust the instinct when it comes. When it's right, it's right.
I'll make new BSJ's for the friends these pieces were originally intended softer colors that they will probably prefer. (The lime really was self-indulgent on my part when this began!) My sister in law and I have come to an agreement as far as payment - which includes an exchange of work as she'll do some of my beading for me.
I will post pictures when I finish the little jackets and their matching bonnets.
And when I send them off to my sister-in-law, this knitter's heart will be very glad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Just a quick kid story!

My husband put the Pixie to bed this evening, and she was most assuredly NOT a happy camper. In fact, she'd rather uncharacteristically been throwing fits for at least the last hour.

My husband was laughing when he came out of her room. Apparently he had said to her, "Tomorrow let's have laughing, happy Toots because I like laughing, happy Toots.

And in a quite matter of fact tone, she said, "Daddy, I like crying, screaming Toots!"

The Monday List

I've been a bit under the weather since yesterday morning, and my internet connection was out most of here's a short and sweet list!

The Needs:
  1. Prepare for my PEO meeting this week - our first after the summer break.
  2. Continue training for the 10K that I'm running on the 26th!
  3. Baby gifts.
  4. Make an appointment for an acupuncture 'tune-up.'
  5. 10 minutes / day on both my cardi and my current lace shawl.
  6. Cast on something's time for something fun!
  7. Continue on with my series on my creative life, which has been sorely neglected.

The Wants:

  1. Liberate some bobbins of their singles.
  2. Spin something on my wee Tsunami!
  3. Start getting up earlier - but only once I'm feeling better.
  4. Get the blog cleaned up!

The Wishes:

  1. Finish cleaning up our bedroom and closet - but only once I'm feeling better.
  2. Work on photos.
  3. Take a mini-vacation by myself. I'm getting that jittery/burned -out feeling again, and I think I need a break.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2009

At a Loss.

My heart broke a little bit this evening when I heard the news that Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today. In fact, I'm having a hard time holding the tears back right now.

Yes, it's true that he was my first real crush back in the 8th grade, and yes, Dirty Dancing always has been and always will be one of my favorite movies. I could probably go on at great length about his dancing and some of his more memorable roles. Yes, there were some turkeys in there....but there was also Johnny Castle and Vida Boheme, and if you were ever lucky enough to see him perform with his wife....well, that was something truly special.

But really, I loved Patrick Swayze because of the way he loved his wife and because of the courage he always displayed through the tough times life threw his way. He was a man of honor, and a man who built his life around things that truly mattered. He fell down sometimes, but he always picked himself up, took responsibility and moved on. In this world of throw-away marriages and badly-behaved celebrities, it's good to know that such men exist.

My prayers are with Patrick's wife Lisa this evening, and all of their extended family and friends.

God Bless.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So Sweet You Could Eat Them

One ball of ice cream Sunday/candy colored Trekking XXL = socks for both girls!
These are just my plain, basic socks - a la Ann Budd. Ergo, no notes!
However, I have two happy girls. The eldest refused to take off her socks once they were finished, and the youngest disappeared with hers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In The Beginning

When exactly did creativity spark in my life? Was there a moment when it all began, or was it just always there?

These are the questions that have been on my mind as I've prepared to look back at my life. The Green Woman has also been curious, as she's not always been with me. So where exactly did it all begin?

I don't remember a time when I wasn't making it's very hard for me to answer those questions. Instead, I turned to the two women who were the most influential in my creative life - my mother and my Gram. After all, not only were they always making things as well, but they both also encouraged each and every interest I pursued.

So I asked them each, What's the first thing you ever remember me making?

I asked Mom first, but she didn't have much to offer, perhaps having become so accustomed to my habits that she had forgotten as well. Mom remembers a small cross-stitch piece when I was small, as well as minor sewing projects when I was a Skylark - our church's version of the Girl Scouts. There were also several crafts in 4-H, which we joined when I was about 10. (4-H will have it's own entry in this series!) What she did know for sure was that my true love for fiber arts really kicked off during a trip to the Mt. Pleasant Old Thresher's Reunion when I was about 12. During our time there, I became fascinated with a woman spinning French angora rabbit wool straight from the bunny in her lap. It was all over after that.
My Gram, who has always treasured my creations, remembered much more. When asked the same question, she began listing the many, many pieces which she holds dear. Gram still has the sewing cards, decorated with birds, which began my long history with the needle. Her walls are decorated with my artwork - going back to the first little picture and note I drew for her at the age of two. (For the record, it's of Rudolph visiting the Baby Jesus.) A picture frame and a heart-shaped box - painted white and decorated with red ribbons - are still on display in her home.

I asked her next if she remembered when I learned how to knit. Her answer, "No, seemed like you could always knit." I, however, very clearly remember working on my first little garter stitch square at Gram's house. She had to have been the one who taught me.

Then I asked her about a little brass bowl that is filled with little tiny things I sewed as a child. Gram's response was, "You were real little when you did that. I don't think you were in school. I'm pretty sure you weren't in school." There's a little pillow in the bowl, as well as a pair of pants and a shirt made from cutting out pieces in the right shape and then stitching them flat together. I know those little hand sewn things are among her favorites. I think at one point there was also a nine-patch that I did as well.

Gram then went on, "I remember you were always wanting to make something, that I know, and we did all kinds of things.....for you to learn and do. And you were great with the scissors. We never cooked much, but we did a lot of things with material and that sort of thing. " She knows that it all started well before I ever went to 4-H

A good friend of Gram's once came by during one of my visits. I was sitting quietly, working on a needlepoint piece. (I've no idea how old I was, but Gram believes it was also before I started school as she remembers that I was very little.) The friend asked me what stitch I was doing, and I apparently replied, "I'm doing the continental," with great confidence and dignity. Gram laughed to remember the look on her friend's face as she hadn't expected me to really know what I was doing.

And so, the answer is....always.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spindle Love

This post has sadly been languishing in my edit list for quite some time. After spending a delightful hour last night with my spindle, I decided that it needed to be published today! (We'll not discuss how long ago I started it.....) As you know, this is my beloved Golding spindle - a 1.3 oz, 2.5 inch butterfly that I bought a little over a year ago. I'd been spinning since I was 14, but had never used a spindle before. In the year or so prior to my purchase, though, I had been exposed repeatedly to several local spindle spinners - including some brilliant spinners in the guild - and had become fascinated with the process. Curiosity, and a desire to better understand my craft, led me to my first spindle. Why a Golding? Because everyone I know says they are the best.

My spindle and I had a roughish start, though. I read a few books, selected some fun fiber and winged it on my own. It was fun....but I never really got the hang of it, and when le Tour de Fleece 2008 was over I transferred the little bit I had spun onto a bobbin so that I could finish the fiber on my wheel. This summer, thanks to Le Tour De Fleece and some rather tacky fiber which - while not exactly fun to work with - gave me control, I finally discovered that I love to work with my spindle.
The result was that I decided that I was definitely a spindle spinner. I also decided that if I was going to take this seriously I needed to have a variety of spindles in different sizes and weights so that I could have more versatility.

Of course I went right back to Golding, finishing my little family of spindles out with a 2 inch - .45 oz Cherry Tsunami, a 3 inch - 1.9 oz Celtic Ring, and a 3.5 inch - 2 oz Midnight Sky. They arrived while the girls were camping in the backyard of my parents' home.

Here is the entire family together. Aren't they beautiful! Practical use aside, they are truly little works of art.

It's all well and good to have a perfect tool, though, if you don't know how to properly use it. Fortunately, I have access to a wealth of knowledge through some of my guild friends. Even better, Jenny agreed to meet with me for a blissfully child-free hour of spinning. (Yes, this is the same Jenny who is my daughter's weaving teacher!) I have it on very good authority that Jenny is quite the expert with spindles - and she's an excellent teacher, too.
And oh...what a difference an hour makes! Yes, it is very true that there are many wonderful books available to help you learn any number of arts and crafts, BUT one should never underestimate the value of working with another human being. In one hour I picked up several tricks that both helped to make spindling quite easy for me and also corrected the few problems I had developed by going at it on my own.
My spindle and a small bag of fiber now go everywhere with me, and I've become quite attached to this very quiet, deliberate, slow and meditative process. It's something I needed...even if I didn't know that before I started.
When asked recently why I bothered, I explained that all of the other handwork I do is about speed, technical proficiency and production. (Which is a bit humorous given how much of a process knitter I tend to be.) When I spin, I am able to let go of the need for perfection. When I work with the spindle I can let go of the rest so that I can fully experience and enjoy the process. It takes me out of my head, and into a peaceful place where I can just be.
The Green Woman and I sincerely hope that you have that place, too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Tomatoes Are Here!

Our family schedule continues to be a wee bit nuts...thus the lack of posts last week.

Also, we went to visit my parent's farm this weekend to celebrate my father's 63rd birthday - and came back with five buckets full of produce. I'm very busy today taking care of the tomatoes (5 varieties at last count - at least three buckets full), and so the blog is just going to have to wait for anther day or so.

And then...we'll be back to the promised series!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weaving Classes

As the Green Woman and I prepare a trip down my own crafty memory lane, I thought I would show you the very beginning of what I hope will be a lifelong passion for my daughter. At the very least, I'm hoping it will be the beginning of a lifetime of trying new things...of experimenting with the unknown. Several weeks ago, I received an exciting email from my friend Jenny, who teaches the youth weaving classes at Access Arts. We'd been discussing the class for quite some time, as we'd also been discussing my crafty girl. (Who wants her own spinning wheel right now, by the way.) Jenny felt that she was ready based on our conversations, and wrote to let me know when the next session would start. I must admit to doing a bit of a jig when I got that email!
I've known for a long while that the Princess wanted to learn how to weave. We've been to several events over the last couple of years that have featured looms for children to try. Each time she would sit down with the teacher....and would have been there for hours if I'd let her. Unfortunately, weaving is just something I don't know anything about and can't help her with....thus my excitement about the class.
The Princess's weaving class is her first official extracurricular activity, and she was a bit nervous last week when I drove her to Access Arts for the first time. Jenny put her right at ease, though, and I left knowing she was in very good hands.
When I came back, though, I was confused because I didn't see her among the gaggle of excited kids putting their things away for the day. Jenny waved me back towards the hall, saying, "She's in the other room, working on a floor loom."
I had to laugh. She's definitely my child - going straight for the big challenge. When I asked her about it, she said that she liked the floor loom best because, "It's the easiest one because it has pedals and it's just my size!" (The fact that it was warped in pink probably also helped.) I was stunned to see that she'd managed about five inches in her first lesson. I was not surprised with the amount of concentration and patience she devoted to the project, nor was I surprised with how nice her weaving looked. She comes from a long line of women who very easily - and very quickly - pick up whatever handwork they want to try.
My Princess was very excited about going back today, and she's eagerly looking forward to the rest of her classes. She's working on a dish towel, which I really hope she decides to either keep for herself or give to me! (Honestly, it'll kill me if she gives it to any of her grandparents...)
After just two sessions, I think I can say that weaving classes are a huge success. She loves the closet full of colorful weaving yarns, and she loves the music Jenny plays for her while she's working. I know she's excited about the fact that she finally has a loom at her disposal...and a teacher who actually can help her with it. She's never been one to talk much about schoolwork, but she DOES like to talk about her weaving project. That's really exciting.
Today she asked if Dad could pick her up next week so that she could show him her weaving.
And this Mom's heart is very glad.