Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's back

Thank goodness.

My new favorite bunny color:

here's a closeup of the face for Pam (wink!)

I'm having trouble finding words today, for no other reason than I'm distracted, but I've just got to say the highlight of the day had to be doing yoga with the girls. It's hardly serene, but the comedy makes up for what's lacking. I do institute a "no questions about random stuff" policy while we're doing yoga and giving them a book of pictures of poses to look at helps. Still, if you're familiar with interpretive dance, I'd definitely call what they do interpretive yoga. Next time I'll try to snap some pictures.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just go with it

This picture has little to do with today's post, other than to remind me of what a dry porch looks like. Read on.

It feels like I've done a good bit of talking about rain this Spring and I'm kind of getting tired of it, so if you've read much of my rambling, you probably are too. Which is why I won't talk about rain today (although it's a monsoon out there) and instead I'll just talk about today's motto around here. Whatever's happening, just "go with it".

Stop pretending like it's nice outside, like you could do some transplanting around the house, like you could divide some ferns or do more weeding, and let the little one watch cartoons, or Noggin, or the Food Network...all day...just go with it.

Forget about laundry, cleaning and the dirty dishes. Instead spread everything out on the floor you could possibly need to make some necklaces and bracelets (all day) and let Allie "cook" with buttons and thousands of tiny plastic thingys that you iron into shapes that end up flying all over the room....just go with it.

When Kevin comes home for lunch with a meat grinder he intends to afix to his boat so he can make "chum" when he goes catfishing, don't ask questions, don't wonder why...just go with it.

And when you can't go outside to look for shapes in the clouds, dip into the pretzel bag and see what you can find in there...just go with it.

And forget that the market opens in 6 days and that you just sold half your stash and will have to work like a madwoman who doesn't sleep in order to have a decent showing for opening day (first impression pressure and all) and take the time to have some fun writing about how you're just "going with it".

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Love notes from Lauren

I found this little note waiting for me in my car after church. I had driven Kevin's truck in early, to practice bells before the service and Kevin drove my car with the kids. Why move three carseats unnecessarily? We switched cars during the service, Kevin left after the first service and the kids and I stayed for both. If ever anything humbles me it's these notes she writes. The surprise of finding them randomly and without expectation makes me melt.

I wonder why she writes them and what I've done to deserve them, but with Lauren, expressing her love seems to come just as easily as talking about the weather or a caterpillar. As she told me when she was 4, "I just LOVE words, Mommy" and I believe her.

Yesterday she brought me a poem. "Here is a poem Allie and I wrote, Mommy. Allie drew the picture and she told me what to write and I wrote it."

"Really?" I asked.

As it is written:

Dear little sunshine
Your the sweetist
You color the land
You allway's smile
You love the Goat's
and You love me
and Your favrite color is the color of the Goat's
and You allway's make me Happy when I'm sad.

--Allie, age 4, Lauren, age 6

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our little slice...

...of Americana, the pie, whatever you want to call it, to me it felt like Heaven.

This was last night. That's grandpa on the pitching machine and John up to bat. Grandma was on the riding mower (a favorite passtime), Kevin was on the tractor (a least favorite passtime), Allie was blowing bubbles....

...and Lauren was trying to pop them.

I sat on the porch, pricing my things for Jackie, so happy to have the chance to stop rushing and just sit awhile. The air was cool and sweet-smelling, the kids were happy and free and the unspoken consensus seemed to be peace and calm. I even passed up a knitting get-together with the girls just so my head would stop spinning. And I'm sorry girls, but as much as I love you, it was worth it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's like Caddy Shack around here

Sometimes living in the country means doing some things you'd rather not do, like deal with rodents that, like it or not, were here first and mean to stay. When we moved into this 1930's farmhouse, it was clearly sinking in the middle. A good 5" at least. The first time we looked at the house I went inside to look and Kevin walked around the outside and went straight to the crawl space and promptly UNDER the house. There he found the main 12" x 12" beam supporting the house eaten in two by termites. The resident groundhogs had dug up under the house leaving a nice pile of dirt which became the direct termite highway up to the main beam. From that point on we knew what we were in for in terms of renovating the house and that there might be a groundhog issue. Since then the broken beams have be replaced by 8 steel beams (how he did that and left the house standing I still don't know) and the once gutted house is a livable, quirky, work in progress.

For eight years we lived a peaceful coexistence with the groundhogs. I'd come down the stairs in the morning to find them sunning on the front steps, munching on my clematis and playing "you can't catch me" with the dog, Emma (may she rest in peace. she nabbed 3 of them while she was alive.) But last year we hit our breaking point.

First let me say that Kevin is a catch and release fisherman, he deplores hunting, he tosses bugs back outside still alive, he secretly sheds a tear if he hits a squirrel on the road. He isn't in the NRA, he's not particularly fond of guns and sickens at the sight (or mention) of blood (the labor and delivery room three times over was interesting but I digress). But last year we experienced what happens when a skunk finds its way under the house and encounters the groundhogs that have been there for upwards of 70 years. Not once, not twice, but three separate times we awoke in the wee hours of the morning to eyes burning, vomit forming and stomachs churning all because of the skunk spraying under the house. When I took Lauren to school and walked past the preschool director who said, "WHOO! Do you smell that skunk?" I was mortified. It was then Kevin said goodbye to his pacifist persona and started looking a little more like Bill Murray.

We've since said farewell to one large skunk, and at least 3 groundhogs. Three still live around here. One under the pole barn, one under the tool shed, and yes, still the big one under the house who, just this evening was catching some rays on the front steps. Lauren alerted her dad, he snuck outside (this is the trick) and set up shop. It's unfortunate that this is my Earth Day post, but it's just what happened here today. But as luck or fate would have it, this groundhog will live to see another day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

rainy days

To say it's been raining around here is an understatement. In just two days it feels like we've had a month's worth of rain. It's really hard to take a picture of rain, so here are a couple of pictures to show you not only the wet, but also the good, good green that follows.

It's also knocking all the dreaded greenish yellow pollen off the trees that despite drops, sprays and decongestants relegates Lauren mostly to the indoors. Only another week or so...

Rain washes away, it makes new, it is imperative for growth and can foster a new beginning. After a quick trip down memory lane today with a friend I'm reminded of my escape to Virginia, the chance to start new, shake off the old habit of "going along to get along", and an opportunity to really start living. It's a move I'll never regret, it's the one that saved me.

I started humming a song by Tracy Chapman tonight that I hadn't listened to in forever. On her album "New Beginning" the last song is entitled "I'm Ready" and on a CD that doesn't have a bad song, it's perhaps my favorite.

from the song "New Beginning":

we can break the cycle
we can break the chain
we can start all over
in the new beginning

and from "I'm Ready":

I want to wake up and know where I'm going
say I'm ready...
I want to go where the rivers are overflowing
and I'll be ready...
I'm ready to let the rivers wash over me
If it's love flowing freely I'm ready I'm ready...
If the waters can redeem me
I'm ready...

That CD's definitely going in my car tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008


The kids were off this afternoon, spending the night with grandma and grandpa which gave Kevin and I the time to take part in one of our favorite passtimes. Let's call it "knishing". He loves to fish, we both love to be on the water, and of course I love to knit/crochet which I can do anywhere...even in a canoe. Ann Margaret loves the name I know. She and I frequently participate in "knurch" on Sundays when the kids are in Sunday school. We've already been to church and so we sneak off to the church library for a little fellowship of our own making while they're in class.

The weather has been gorgeous the past few days and today I think it was in the 80's. Kevin has been fishing at this friend's beautiful pond, nestled in 90 acres of mostly untouched forest, for some time now but he's never taken me there. Today I finally got the chance to go. It's just 20 minutes from our house and we didn't see another soul the entire time we were there, unless you count the frogs, turtles and resident beaver.

The fishing wasn't great, lots of small fish like this one, but the thrill of the unknown big fish lurking keeps Kevin focused and intent, losing all track of time and the world just outside the gate.

I got down to business on some crocheted baby hats and ended up with 4 total and one washcloth. Not bad for three hours. How lucky I feel that business is fun and just what I want to be doing in my spare time.

To add to the good fortune the day had to offer, my friend Jackie from One Earth Natural Marketplace called and ordered quite a bit more stuff. Seems she's having great success selling my things. Don't really know when I'm going to get it all done and still be ready for the farmers market that opens May 3rd, but I'll figure something out. Knitting in my sleep is looking like a distinct possibility.

As promised here's the chestnut wallet/clutch. I'll put it in the shop tomorrow. I have a really cool emerald green one waiting to be lined and completed.

But for now I'm off to bed. Wonder how late we can sleep with no kids here to wake us? I'm sure we'll be up before 7, that's just how things work around here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The girls

Today is the start of a new gymnastics session, one where they can be in a class together. To mark the occasion I suggested we take some pictures. Taking nice, civil, posed pictures of my kids never works very well. They don't look like themselves, someone always has their eyes closed or a goofy smile, usually Allie is moving and all blurry and they generally aren't any good. So I snap some pictures that look like that and as soon as I say I'm finished I keep the camera going and get the real ones that are all personality. I think this one is going to be a favorite for a long time.

Another new favorite is this little wallet. I used double strands of Lamb's Pride worsted yarn, the mohair is just awesome, I love this yarn. I lined it with a neutral colored Irish linen fabric and the vintage button is an antique store find. For more views visit the shop. Keep a look out for the chestnut brown one I have in the works!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Tax time means it's hummingbird time around here. Both of my feeders from last year were so gunky and gross and with little nooks that I could never get to all the way to clean, that we had to scrap them and try a new design. I spent about a half an hour trying to make up my mind, carefully examining them all over and even trying to take some apart before I settled on this one. Hopefully it will work a little better. We love sitting outside watching the hummingbird wars, the dive bombing and listening to the loud chatter.

I've been trying to get back into the swing of things and have been doing more yoga and even a little (very little) running. I'm trying to take it easy on the ankle and not overtax the post mono body. I can still tell I'm not totally normal. But the sun is out, it's chilly and the rest of the week is busy so today I'm going to run a bit. I'll see if I can try to turn my mood around. That good ol' negative tape has been playing in my head since last night. I'm trying to turn it to a different station. Today it's on "W-you're a bad mom", but I'm trying to tune in "W-enjoy life and all it's blessings". A run is always a good remedy. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The tour

The local farmer who tends to the alfalfa around our house came to spray today and so I started taking pictures and have decided to give you a little tour. I'm not sure what he was spraying, pretty sure it was some sort of grass killer since the onslaught of manure spreading took place over the last few weeks all around the county. One word sums up that experience...pungent.

Here he is on the machine we like to call the spider. Don't know if you can see them, but those big arms that are spread out to spray lift up when he rides down the road look alot like spider legs.

The iris are blooming. For the novice gardners out there like myself, these flowers are a lifesaver! I've thinned them out from time to time and when I do I just pick a spot to dump the leftovers. I don't plant them, prepare the soil or anything and they just grow where they are laid. They're perfect for me--impossible to mess up.

That little white building used to be a well house. We ended up moving it to a different part of the yard and it is now a potting shed. To the right of it is the graveyard of old farm implements we found scattered in the woods all around the property when we moved here. Many were completely undetectible, overgrown and out of sight.

There they look kind of cool in a sea of green, but it's not grass. Did I mention the weeds?

That's just one spot. All around the house this scene repeats. Everything is popping up green, and that includes the weeds. Weeding is up there on my list of things I detest. It's worse than cleaning the shower.

On the other hand, smelling the lilacs makes it all better. We used to have two purple ones, but Kevin hated them and how they interfered with his grass cutting so they disappeared. I still haven't gotten over that one. But every spring at this time this plant sends out new shoots of growth and I'm transplanting them all over the place. There are about 5 ready for me right now. It's a race to see if I can get to them before he does with the mower.

I had to snap a shot of a hosta. Again, foolproof for me. I just love the way they look when they first are popping out of the ground.

And the tour wouldn't be complete without letting you see the big apple tree in the backyard with it's white blooms. Looks like lots of apples this year.

Since the theme seems to be green today, I'll throw in a little crochet to round out the tour. Pam had some perfect yarn for booties since I ran out of the other shade of green. Thanks Pam!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Opening Day

This is one of the few moments I could catch John standing still today. It was opening day for baseball and despite the clouds, patches of rain and strong wind, it was a great start to the season. They won 11-3! John's first at bat produced a strong hit past the pitcher, second baseman and centerfielder for a single and scored a run! His fielding was incredible and I'm just amazed at what he can do all while being one of the smallest guys on the team. John, you rock!

The girls hung in there, snacks always help!

It also helps that they saw friends from school, made some new ones and even visited a bit with Lauren and John's principal. I love this town.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Belt Friday

Busy busy busy! I visited One Earth again today (see the previous post) to bring my friend some more goodies and more of my little tags. She loved everything and has a serious display of my things goin' on. She's sold a few pieces and has taken an order for me already. Thank you Jackie!!! If you're in central VA, head over there to Montpelier and pay her a visit. It's One Earth Natural Marketplace. For the address you can visit her website here.

I came away with a nice bag of her things for myself and am excited to experiment with the powdered Kefir. My tummy will thank her. Kevin may be a bit bewildered though when he sees me making my own yogurt of sorts but he'll live. It was exciting to see her so busy so soon after her opening, I think she's sitting on a goldmine. People out here get tired of driving to the city for everything and she seems to have filled a big void here in the country. She also sells milk shares and has info on local CSA's. I picked up a flyer from a lady who sells chickens locally and set it inconspicuously on the kitchen countertop. A little incentive for Kevin to get going on some fencing (of course it's some a friend needed taken down and we got it for free--the hand-me-downs never end).

So this afternoon I'm getting down to business and cracking away at some belts. I recently got a shipment of new buckles and need to make them up. Jackie has single handedly made a huge dent in my stash and while I'm not panicking so close to the market opening, I'm feeling the heat. I also need to work on booties, hats, headbands, keychains, baskets, bags, baby sweaters, the list goes on and on. It's a very good problem to have, I won't complain! A little pressure is actually a really good motivator for me and gets my creative juices going. I feel some late nights coming on...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

One Earth

Today we visited a friend who just recently opened a natural food store in Montpelier, VA and did a little (not so little) wholesale order. All I can say is what a neat place! It's here, on the first floor of this beautiful old farmhouse. As you walk in it smells wonderful, it's light and has beautiful floors and rooms. She's just getting started, but already has tons of great inventory from books to food, health aids and gadgets, you could spend alot of time looking. She's also building up a great assortment of natural items for kids. Wooden toys, special dolls, play clothes racks with clothespins and handmade aprons. It's a wonderful space and I'm so happy to be able to have some of my things included in her wares.

Unfortunately I was in a bit of a rush this afternoon and wasn't able to shop, but I need to go back and give her some more price tags and can really have a look around. Allie can attest, the apples at least are wonderful! I'm looking for some of her powdered Kefir (didn't know it came in that form), fermented (non-alcoholic, that doesn't seem possible) teas and also an education -- how to use my recent purchase, Restoring Your Digestive Health (remember that book?).

If you're in the area check her out and help a mother of FOUR, with FIVE cows, several dogs and who knows how many chickens get her shop off the ground and flying. The name is "One Earth Natural Marketplace" in Montpelier, VA and more information can be found on her website here.

Meanwhile, this mama better get knitting! The Goochland Farmers Market opens in just a few weeks and I need to seriously work on my stash. That also means a trip to the yarn store and you know how much I just hate that. Kidding of course!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rainy days

I remembered the pattern somehow, finished the second white bootie and then made a hat to match. They're up in the shop, and then I had to get going on some green ones...and some pink...and....the day's not over yet.

We stayed home today, dreary weather, expensive gas and nowhere we really needed to go. A good friend also gave me a wonderful book, Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison which solidified the decision to stay home. This exerpt sums up our afternoon:

"We can't reclaim those spacious hours, any more than we can turn back the hands of time and return to that more innocent age. But the lessons taught by the solitude and imposed leisure of childhood are still imprinted on our soul. As children we learned the pleasure of our own company, how to be happy where we were with what we had, how to fill and empty afternoon."

So Allie spent some time making hearts and spaceships, with ET still at the forefront of her imagination.

And baking, a personal favorite. Chocolate chip cookies, with half chocolate chips and half chopped up chocolate bars swiped from Easter baskets.

Baseball is once again cancelled, the fields have been so waterlogged here. I have one disappointed little Dodger at home! Lauren meanwhile draws and writes in her journal, today it's filled with all things Spring. Birds, flowers, trees, bugs, dogs, the list goes on and on.

it will clear up...it will get warm...the sun will come out...maybe tomorrow?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On the 39th try

I end up with a bootie that looks suspiciously similar to one I created a while back, only I made it in an entirely different fashion. The previous one was crocheted from the toe up in a conical fashion and then divided for the heel, back, etc. This one began like the oval crocheted rug in my mud room. Then, I went up the sides and decreased around the toe portion and when it looked right, made the strap and little embellishment on the toe. I love it. No, it didn't really take me that many tries, but Kevin says it felt like that many. Now I hope I can make one to match, and then a coordinating hat. By 11:00 last night I wasn't in the mood to write the pattern.

My favorite thing is that it reminds me of a bird's nest with robin eggs in it. A favorite color combination of mine. I'll also remember this as the bootie I made while watching "ET" with the family (the movie, not the evening program). The kids were affected by the movie to say the least, and had more questions than I imagined they would. I'm amazed at how good that movie still is after so many years.

I worked at the hospital today and as much as I regret leaving the family on a weekend day, I'm always thankful that I can have that experience. Every time I go I'm overwhelmingly reminded of the things we do to harm our bodies. From drugs and alcohol and their related health consequences or catastrophic accidents, to smoking, poor diet and inactivity, it's a scared straight public service announcement on repeat. I've seen so many lives cut short or changed forever, and sometimes of more profound effect, the helpless suffering of family members.

But in the midst of the pain, I usually find more than one angel. Today it was an elderly African American gentleman with the darkest skin and the whitest contrasting beard, and the bluest eyes. As I write that I'm thinking, wait, is that possible? But I'm pretty sure his eyes were blue. I just couldn't stop looking at them. His skin was beautifully wrinkled and his voice soft. As he told me he regretted his decision to agree to his leg amputation, the only thing I could think was that I was thankful he was still here and that we had the time to talk.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Got it all turned around

What I mean is, I'm back to normal today. Thank goodness, yesterday was about all of me I could stand!

Yesterday afternoon I started fiddling around with ideas again. I'm not sure why some days I need to make up something new, and why other days I just can't stop making hats, headbands, jewelry, and stuff I've already made before. Whatever the reason, here's where it got me.

Unfinished, in the idea stage, a string market bag:

I want to make the bottom looser and the whole thing bigger and less "tulip" shaped. Also the handles are still floating around in my head. I think this time I want them to be short.

Then, this bootie popped into my head last night while watching T.V. expecting to see a new episode of "The Office" and found out I have to wait one more week. Don't really know where I'm going with this one, but I love the two-toned color idea.

You can see I'm not finished. I find booties especially challenging in the "make them so they stay on" department. So there's some work to be done. I also won't look at a pattern, so there's much time spent driving myself crazy trying to figure it all out. A wing and a prayer is how some of my most favorite items have evolved and if I can just hang on long enough, the process usually pays off.

Meanwhile, today Allie and I travelled around looking for new and interesting ways I can display my things this summer at the market. I like to use old things to get some height out of my table, like an old, old apple crate and an old square suitcase. I also use a bundle of old tobacco sticks that came out of Kevin's great grandparents tobacco barn. I tie them together and splay them out in all directions and put a hat atop of each one. (I'll take some pictures)

I also use bulb shaped vases, turn them upside down and put larger hats on them. That's just what I found for a whole $2 one place we went. As a bonus, the shop owner was snipping off transplants from her "mother" plant and we came home with 4 of those.

As I surprise treat, I'm at the library (hence the plethora of pictures) in the quiet by myself. Allie is unexpectedly helping Kevin with lawnmower repair. I don't think I've ever really said how much I LOVE the library. It's free! Free high-speed internet, free books, magazines, free place for the kids to play, etc. I know I've payed for it in part with taxes, but who really thinks about it that way? The ladies are so nice, they'll help you find anything, or spend a half hour helping the kids find every pirate and ballerina book in the whole place. I also love finding the old books about knitting, crochet, embroidery, home decorating, the ones that Barnes and Noble doesn't have. I found the best embroidery book I've ever come across with more techniques than I knew were possible.

Today I'm coming home with a country decorating book, with the foreward written by Ralph Lauren in the 80's, that oughta be good. I promised Allie I'd look for cook books, and for Kevin some catfishing books. I'll probably enlist a librarian for some help. Goes much quicker that way! Tonight I finally can regroup with my knitting friends for some much needed girl time. I missed the last three get-togethers and am looking forward to getting back to normal. Don't know how much knitting will get done, we'll be looking at all 400 pictures from my friend's recent trip to England. What are friends for?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Think I'll go back to bed

It's never a good thing when your 4 year old tells you she thinks you ought to go home and go back to bed. This, on the way to preschool, after I apologized to her for being so grumpy. I knew it was going to be a rough day when I went for the big bowl of ice cream covered in chocolate syrup at 9:30 last night. Eating that late never bodes well for me the next day and sure enough I woke up with a terrible headache. The kind where the two sides of my head feel like they belong to two different bodies. I nearly fell this morning as I got out of bed because of the stabbing pain in my left ankle as it gave way--this has been going on since January. (What is going on?) And it's been downhill since then.

So to make it all better I'm hitting the hard stuff:

That's gotta be at least 3,000 calories right there, but who's counting? No coffee this morning, that's hot chocolate from Wawa, pure goodness in a cup. It's sits on the little table by the computer that catches odds and ends. You see the shards of my daughter's tea set that I've been supposed to be gluing together for a month now. That'll have to wait.

Of course this all happens on the day when Allie is in school through lunch and I have hours of solitude to conquer the mile long list of errands I'd planned for myself. At least I tackled the priorities: mail package, fill car up with gas and buy horribly unhealthy breakfast.

For those of you who are wondering, no, I'm not pregnant and no, I'm not a drinker and just hungover. Just lucky I suppose, I really can go back to bed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's a good day for...

Dreams and crochet. I'll explain later, if you have the time to read.

My setup with Betsey looking on:

I'm making headbands and belts, trying to build up the inventory for market season. I hope to be able to go to the Charlottesville Market one day in April before the Goochland Market opens in May. Here's one of the finished belts, I'm putting it in the shop later tonight.

Back to the part about dreams. In my daily blog reading jen lemen's post yesterday really resonated with me. She speaks of the internal struggle between "responsibility vs. dreams" and "my head vs. my heart", and the great divide "masquerading as common sense". That last part is so brilliantly put.I often think my dreams are still in the future, yet unattained, but today I was able to remember and realize that I AM living my dream. I'm living the dream today that I had a few years ago. In a few years I hope to be living the dreams I have today. Too often I think because I'm not making as much of a salary as I would if I was working full-time in PT that somehow my dream hasn't come true. As far as I know dreams and money really don't have anything to do with one another.

Other dreams have come true as well, and they are marriage and family, both of which are happy, healthy (physically, emotionally, spiritually), and loving. These are big, ongoing dreams that aren't always easy to come by, but here I am living them as well. Again, no money involved.