Here I am … turn the page

(Thank you, Bob Seger. )

There’s not much I care to reflect upon from 2013, but I do want to tell you about a few books.  See, that’s the one thing that seems to be working for me, other than running.  (Yes, running is bad for my back, but it’s good for my soul so…  we’re running some.)

Heck, I don’t even know where I left off telling you about books, so I’ll hit the high points.

thecheesecakequeen-v1-final-199x300I bridged from 2013 into 2014 with our very own, darling Duck’s Cheesecake Queen.  (Lookie there!  She’s an Amazon author!  Wooo!)  It was just the thing I needed during a post-Christmas, difficult time in a not-friendly town.

Here’s her publisher’s link for more information, but what you really need to know is that it’s a sweet little read with characters who will make you laugh, make you grunt (okay, maybe  you’re too ladylike to grunt when a character is annoying, but …), and definitely, it will make you crave creamy, rich cheesecake in flavors you haven’t imagined before.

It’s really exciting to have a friend who is PUBLISHED.  It’s even more fun when she asks you to review her book AND give away a free copy.  So, in the spirit of the Sugar sisters and Miranda by any of the other names you might know her by, all you have to do to be eligible for the drawing is make up your own cheesecake – or pie, if you are sure you don’t love cheesecake – fusion blend.   The combination of flavors that tickles me the most (good, bad or for reasons I can’t imagine right now) will get a digital copy of this delicious book.

CONTEST COMMENTS MUST BE POSTED BEFORE 9 PM EASTERN TIME, FEBRUARY 2, 2014.   Winner will be contacted by email, so make sure I have an email address for you.

After such a sweet treat, I wanted something meatier, so I opened All Roads Lead to Austen via my Kindle app on my trusty iPad.  I quickly realized I’d never read Pride and Prejudice, so when I discovered it was already on my Nook (app) waiting to be read, I flipped right over and read that, then finished ARLtA.  If you haven’t read anything by Austen, you should.  I’m definitely no Janite (rabid fan), so don’t look for me to wax poetic telling you how much like Lizzy I am.  The Knight’s no Mr. Darcy either, in case  you were wondering, although one of my co-workers did joke today and ask what kind of bet I lost to end up married to a man so different from me.  Still, I enjoyed Ms. Smith’s account of an Austen South American sabbatical, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never re-read it.

After that, I gave in and started on another classic I’ve never read – Stephanie Plum.   I read the first three and have already ordered 4-6, and predict the rest of the series will float on in too.  Given that my father worked for a company with a service center in Trenton (New Jersey), I was willing to give the series a chance.  Add in a rather non-traditional, female, untrained bounty hunter and two manly men watching her back, and I have yet another series to devour.

If you’re a Plum fan…  Morelli or Ranger?

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More Cowl Photos

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Happy Thorsday, little friday, thankful thursday and anything else you’re celebrating.  Here are a couple more photos of the cowl, in honor of Dogs on Thursday.  I’m also quite thankful for knitting, pretty yarn and good bloggy pals!

UntitledAnd yes, I’m wearing the cowl today (Thursday).  It’s cold outside, my office at work is being painted and I’m a little restless when I don’t have a spot to call my own.  It’s going to be spiffy when it’s all done, but transition is painful.

Any transition or change in your world?

FO #1 of 2014

UntitledDon’t look now, but for the first time since May, I’ve finished knitting something other than a cotton dish cloth.  At least, that’s what Ravelry says.  It’s not as lush as my cashmere scarf for my now far-away friend, but it’s pretty, it’s for me, and it’s complete.

UntitledI’m not at all sure the two yarn companies in question would be thrilled with my cross-pollination, but I am.  Meet the Kudo Cascade Cowl.

Pattern:  Cascade’s Tangier Cowl is a very basic, happy pattern.  It’s beginner-friendly, but it has enough of a pattern to stave off boredom.  Six simple rows make a repeat, eight repeats make a cowl.  I’m not a fan of “baby cables” and these are especially lame up close, but from the distance, it’s just great.

Yarn: Plymouth’s Kudo is a fabulous mix of cotton and rayon with a splash of silk to make it feel luxurious, but at 198 yards, I cut it too close to recommend anyone else trying it, unless she’s willing to play chicken and risk tinking back almost 150 stitches to bind off.  It doesn’t have much “sproing” so once I stretched the cowl to slide over my shoulders, it wasn’t excited about slimming back down, but I’m sure a little mist and a scrunch would restore it.Untitled

Needles:  Bryspun (acrylic) #7 circs.

Verdict:  I have more Kudo and could easily go wind and cast on for another one, but I have babies to knit for.  One is due in April, so time is wasting!

Have you finished anything exciting lately?

What’s your favorite baby knit to make, give or receive?

All That Jazz

Evidently, I’m very late to the Jazzercise party.  A fellow League member owns the local Jazzercise studio, and I’ve been meaning to go…  So when yet another League member posted on our private Facebook group wall that she was going to the 4:30 class, I decided to join her.

Let me give you a Jazzercise primer.  You might have noticed there are no photos in this post.  That’s intentional; Jazzercise doesn’t do mirrors on the walls the way most “fitness classrooms” do.  The main goal is to feel comfortable being active, so I’m pretty sure snapping photos wouldn’t have been appropriate.  Also, as I understand it, each location is independently owned, so your experience might be different.

  • Wear what you’re comfortable in.  I wore the same absolutely no-show (Yogasmoga) cropped leggings I wear for any fitness class and for walks and runs that don’t take me through brambles and brush, but the instructor looked poised for an exercise video, while some other ladies were in tees and pull-on pants.
  • Bring water.  This isn’t a prance and dance session; no matter your fitness level, you will SWEAT if you’re keeping up – or trying to.
  • It’s all very adaptable.  If you don’t want to do the floor work, don’t; keep standing.  If you can only do low-impact, march instead of skipping or hopping.   The instructor will still challenge you to lift those knees and raise those arms!
  • If you did grapevines with Jane Fonda, you’ll quickly adjust to the “modern” routines.  They aren’t the same, but…
  • Walk-ins are welcome, but plan on arriving 5-10 minutes before class to sign in, especially the first time.

I’ll be going back.  I know I need to do more cross-training, especially if I intend to run some longer races this year.   I can’t really compare it to barre classes, because Jazzercise is as intense of a cardio workout as you want it to be.  Barre is more toning, although I do have friends who use it as their lone form of exercise, just as some only do yoga or tai chi.

Have you tried Jazzercise?

 

 

 

To a Mouse

I don’t know why, but the Robert Burns poem is stuck in my head today.   I’ve mentioned before that I was blessed to have some wonderful teachers in my life, and Mr. Murray’s love of poetry stuck with me.  With no offense intended to any college professors, I dare say his junior high lessons on “death poems” were perhaps some of the most cerebral, impactful moments in my education.

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Yesterday’s sunset made me wonder if God is a Wahoo (UVA fan), and reminded me of perhaps my favorite death poem by one of my favorite poets, Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar.   Had my mother not already planned her own memorial service, I might have included this poem, as she did seem to have slipped away peacefully.

Several of you have checked in on me, by email and otherwise, and I do appreciate it.  My blogging silence will likely continue; I intend to resume normalcy with each passing day, but it’s a busy time for the League and at work, and I’m still finding just putting one foot in front of the other pretty taxing.  Please don’t worry; I have a wonderful support network and I really am fine, but I’m requiring much more coddling of myself than usual.

Yesterday was another milestone in my life.  Twenty years have passed now without my father.  It seems impossible that I’m fast approaching a point where I will have lived as long without him as I did with him here in the moment.  Time flies.  A slightly younger friend laughed a little bitterly Thursday night and so sagely shared that if there was one thing she wished someone had made her understand sooner, it would be that as we age, time seems to march at an increasingly faster pace.   ‘Tis true.

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I’m guessing this photo was from about 1974 or even earlier.  That’s me with my parents and Raggedy Ann.

There are many posts I owe you.  I guess you won’t get to see the dishcloths I knitted as Christmas gifts, because I didn’t remember to take photos first and #4 of the group is still on the needle – yes, singular, because Sissy has done something with the other one and it hasn’t turned up.  Yes, I’m sure I have another of the same size, probably even the same brand, but I haven’t bothered to dig that out either.  There is knitting though, and so very much reading.  Maybe the next post won’t have a touch of melancholy and will actually share something fun.

Any milestones in your life?  What do you wish you’d known sooner?

Greenies on Thorsday

Happy Thorsday, little friday, Thankful Thursday and more!  I don’t know whether the girls recognize the Chewy box, smell the goodness within, or what, but they KNOW those boxes are for them.  This time, they were asked to try/review Greenies.

greeniesGreenies are dental treats for dogs.  They’re even shaped like a toothbrush.  We had tried them before, and the girls rushed right through the original, firmer texture.  The new, chewier texture makes them slow down a bit, and hopefully, that improves the cleaning efforts of said treat.  Both girls are starting to have some tartar build-up, so the Greenies arrived just in time!

The good folks at Chewy sent the regular size, which is perfect for Sis, and thanks to that new texture, I can easily break one in half for Gretchen Greer.  We are very grateful for the ever-increasing, Sissy-friendly (read: nearly vegan and yet still corn-free) range of product Chewy carries, their speedy shipping, and of course, for this great gig reviewing things for them from time to time.  While the treats were sent free of charge for our review, the opinions and content are our own.

They don’t just carry food and treats; Sissy has her eye on a new leash too.  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner…

If you’re looking for fur-girl photos, you can check out their blog for a rare Sissy in a sweater sighting.  Extra credit if you know her sweater’s origins!

I’m also thankful for your kind condolences and sweet comments and emails.  The details are sorting themselves out well enough, and work has been nice and busy, which is actually a good thing.

What are you thankful for?

One Week…

… and 2014 isn’t off to a strong blogging start.

There will be no review of 2013.  It was a challenging year, filled with change.  Most of that change resulted in positives, so please don’t think I’m down on my luck or down in the dumps.  I am still married to my best friend, and as I type, Gretchen Greer is pressed against me, and Sissy slumbers nearby, after making me hold her most of the night.  We have our health, a comfortable home, reliable vehicles, and friends and family abound.

It’s sometimes hard to have a blog when you’re really a rather private person.  The blessing of a blog vs. “real life” is that I can share what I choose.  I’ve had some trouble choosing this time, but because the regular readers have become friends, I will share that one week ago today, I got a rather surreal phone call that dictated the course of the next 7 days and will continue to require my attention for some time still.

2001 Reunion

2001 – From left: Aunt, me, my mother on the far right

The coroner from my mother’s town called to say she’d been found dead.  After many otherwise indelicate questions – both on my part and his – over the course of several hours, it was determined that she died “before the paper had been delivered” on the 26th.  We had indeed had a pleasant conversation Christmas night.  I had originally understood that I needed to stay put until some papers were signed, but on Monday morning, my aunt and I made our way south.

Our new joke is that only we could go roughly 1000 miles south and walk out of the church after the memorial service to snow flurries, and then encounter still more snow on our drive.  My mother loved snow, so it is fitting, even if it did add to my stress.

There’s lots I could share about our journey, but I choose not to right now.  I will say that the kindness of strangers turned up where it was least expected and not at all where one might have presumed some hospitality might have been extended.  My aunt and I have been close for years, but we deepened the bond with stories shared and just by pushing through this trip together.  I am exceedingly grateful for our husbands – whom we realized are VERY much alike in some respects – my cousins and my half sister (I rarely use the half, but here it is significant; my mother was but her FIRST step mother and they were not close).  We were also supported by our extended family and the few friends in the know, so we were not really alone.  Again, my new employer was more than kind.

And as another friend who endured a very similar experience in 2013 had warned me…  If you have a parent living in another state, morbid as it sounds, make yourself familiar with that state’s probate laws.  I’ve long been an advocate for having a will and making sure the right people know you have one and where to find the original, and I am grateful for the “Last Wishes” booklet my mother had in her desk.  “Estate planning” is necessary even if you have no real assets… trust me.

May your New Year be filled with joy and laughter.  Whether it was appropriate or not, my aunt and I laughed at least twice daily on our trip.  Sometimes it was because we were just worn out and silly, but laughter is good medicine.