Thursday, August 28, 2014

Merrie Days

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In Minnesota, Labor Day signals the end of summer. It's when the kids go back to school...but also weather-wise, we don't have too many hot days left. But! The best is yet to come! Cool, crisp weather, leaves changing colors...OMG, sweaters!! Fall in MN is the best!

But, for Ian (who will read this and weep a little (a lot!)), I will redirect this post towards summery things. Like the MN State Fair (which would just not be the same without a heaping tub of Sweet Martha's cookies). And drinking Absinthe on the balcony. And collecting teeny crabapples to make sour-applesauce.

I've been reading a copy of Robin Hood written by Alexandre Dumas. I've read other Robin Hood stories but none have ever held my attention the way this one has. Dumas is really the most amazing storyteller.

The pair of green scarves above are inspired by Robin Hood (the sawtooth edge scarf) and Maid Marian (the ruffle edge). I imagine these would be the perfect scarves to wear in the forests of Nottingham, perhaps while fleeing from (or pursuing!) danger, or better yet, exchanging vows of eternal love. Both do seem to happen regularly!

Between reading this and The Borrowers, I find myself in a perpetual state of longing for a life lived out of doors. Perhaps a house in the trees with a kitchen below, a makeshift table with fallen logs for benches. Of course a tiny cottage would be better for wintertime. Sometimes I think I might prefer a houseboat. Or sailboat?

Oh dear...I know that none of it would be sensible. I mean, would I really want to be covered in bugs and have to wash my clothes in a nearby stream? No, in reality, I would not. But in the perfect meadow that my mind has conjured, there is no need to worry about bugs or how we will cook food or stay warm or make money or stay healthy. There is simply sunshine and flowers and knitting and fawns and crickets and streams and groves and merrie men. That's it.

Sigh. For now at least I have the knitting. And Ian too, although he's not exactly what I would call merrie. He's going to be so annoyed that I don't think he's merrie...and that he came after knitting. Annoyed yet not surprised.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Greetings from the Pale Blue Dot

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This has been a summer of saying yes, of trying everything. It's been a time of discovery and learning and appreciation. Of feeling small and inspired and fortunate and healthy.

I ate a beet pizza! And green beans I picked myself. I'm trying all the foods I used to think I didn't like. Some I still don't like but I will try them again until I do. I read (and truly enjoyed!) a book about organic farming. I looked back into time as the first fully restored face of our state capitol building was revealed. I bought some amazing pieces of art from a talented local artist. I started any and all creative projects that piqued my interest. I learned to love blogging again. I asked myself what the future of this blog will be.

And most importantly: I listened, I paid attention. We can never anticipate the moment when a tiny something from somewhere unexpected will have a profound effect on us...on who we are, on who we want to be. Only, if we don't listen, we'll never hear it. If we don't pay attention, we'll never learn from it.

In listening this summer, I remembered to be kind, to care about things I can't see and people I don't know. I realized just how infinitesimally small I am. I found comfort in knowing we are all small together.


"It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Monday, August 4, 2014

Alone Time

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Ian was out of town this weekend so I spent a lot of time hanging out with the cats in our one air-conditioned room. Also, there was rollerskating and ice cream eating. And also some bookclubbing (The Book Thief...up next is Turn Here Sweet Corn) and mozzarella sampling. There was reading (The Borrowers: Afloat and Aloft) and tiny tomato picking.

And also there was purple sewing. I assume, by now, that my dislike of purple is a well known fact. Oh my do I hate purple! But not purple flowers or purple...no, actually, the only purple things I like are flowers.

I'm feeling very "use it up!" these days and felt inspired to cut up every last bit of purple fabric in my stash. I had enough to make blocks and binding for two quilts. I plan on donating these to Wrap Them in Love.

Extra-Cat was extra excited to see my ironing table in the living room where the air-conditioner lives! She rolled around on it until she rolled right off the side. Just another normal sewing day at our house.

P.S. If I ever send you something made of fabric, it will most likely have been rolled on by the Extra-Cat...sorry in advance...

Monday, July 21, 2014

How Fast it Goes

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These past few weeks have been flying by! Germany won the World Cup which was awesome! I love my baby lions and I'm so happy they did well.

Without soccer engagements every weekend, I'm feeling at a bit of a loss as to how to spend my time. Just in the past month, I've read The Borrowers and The Borrowers Afield, The Book Thief (so good!), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (so funny!) and I'm currently reading the first of the Maisie Dobbs Mysteries books (like Downton Abbey but with mysteries!). I've also embroidered a few blocks for my dad's quilt...just 6 left and then I can finish sewing the blocks together.

In the past two weeks, Ian and I have been to two Shakespeare plays, both performed by Shakespeare & Company. They perform at the outdoor stage at Century College not too far outside the city. People bring blankets, chairs, children, dogs, picnic baskets and bug spray. Ian and I always pack a huge assortment of breads, spreads, fruit and everything wonderful. We love the casual, welcoming environment and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every play we've seen over the years. Next weekend we're going to see Molière's: The Bourgeois Gentleman with our friends Karrie and Mike. We're planning a French-themed picnic!

For my birthday I received the Follow Your Arrow shawl pattern from my lovely friend Sara. The thing I love most about this shawl is that it's a choose your own adventure pattern with 32 possible combinations. I also love that shawls starting with different clues turn out so differently. I was originally going to knit the half circle style like Sara's but after looking at everyone's finished shawls, I've slowly become obsessed with the asymmetrical wedge version. It's totally not my style but I'm drawn to it anyway. Plus, I already had the perfect yarn...originally chosen for a sweater but you know how these things go.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Good Summer

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Ian and I had a lovely 4th of July weekend. We had dinner with friends and walked to the State Capitol grounds to watch the fireworks. It's been a decade or so since they were at the Capitol so it was a special treat.

The last time I even thought about going to see fireworks was the summer of '09 when I made a fireworks-watching quilt and then didn't actually go to see any fireworks. But this year the quilt finally saw some fireworks action.

On my to-do list this summer are two non-project-related items: Read Hemingway, Drink Absinthe. So far I've managed to do a little of both but not enough of either. What I'd really like to do is read Death in the Afternoon while drinking Death in the Afternoon. Both written and invented by Hemingway himself. "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Oh dear! Methinks I'll have to add "take nap" to the to-do list.

Ian's little container garden is going strong...so far mostly just leaves but so many leaves! And tiny green tomatoes! His community garden plot is coming along too. So far he's harvested a few radishes and a huge bag of Swiss chard. The chard went into beans and greens paired with a grilled vegetable salad. Ian is cooking so many good things these days. Just yesterday we ate coleslaw for lunch. That's it...just coleslaw. We were both stuffed to the brim with tangy, crunchy, sweet and summery coleslaw. It's the first time since I was a kid that I haven't wanted summer to end. All the heat, all the sun...I find little enjoyment in it. But this summer, on our shady little balcony...this one is turning out to be just about right.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Road Trip Daydreams

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I had a lovely birthday. The USA lost to Belgium but that's alright. I mostly just enjoyed showing off one of my favorite old haunts. I knew my parents would love the history and 1950's restoration décor. My favorite is the women's lounge. Kittycat wallpaper...be still my heart!

As a birthday gift, Ian made me a coconut infused vodka. He's been infusing vodka with all sorts of things this year: Meyer lemons (from his parent's lemon tree), ginger and even horseradish. So far, everything is really good (although our limoncello remains my favorite)...except the horseradish! I'm just not sure I'll ever learn to love that.

As you can imagine, will all those vodkas, Ian has been concocting some pretty fancy drinks. The digestif in the little glass was made with our Meyer lemon vodka and a bit of dry ice that came in the box of croissants I just ordered. (An aside about croissants: seriously, people...these croissants are SO GOOD! They're made with real butter and you bake them straight from the freezer. They will make your house smell like a French bakery, which is not an exaggeration because they actually come from France. They are worth every penny.)

When I'm not drinking vodka or eating croissants, I've been working on a quilt for my dad. All the blocks are finished and now I'm embroidering the names of places we visited on all our camping trips over the years. The idea came to me a few years ago when I saw the "Happy Campers" print from the Circa60 Beach Mod Collection by Monaluna. This is the first quilt I've made for my dad...three years in the making and hopefully finished in time for Christmas this year.

As much as I struggle to find enjoyment in embroidering, I have enjoyed the memories that each stitch has brought back to me. Tiny bits of adventures keep popping into my head as I work: cliff jumping at Lake Superior, the tornado in North Dakota, the donkeys that ate our pretzels and blocked traffic for three hours (it made the local papers and was totally our fault!), driving to the west coast and back with only three cassette tapes for road-trip music (in case you're curious: one mixed tape I made by recording my favorite songs when they came on the radio (I was 16 and it was 1997 so you can just imagine the gems I had on there), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (staring my mom's fav. Donny Osmond) and a Greatest Hits tape with only one song we all liked: The Cover of the Rolling Stone).

We actually came home with four tapes...I bought Mariah Carey's Daydream one day when we got a flat tire and had to spend a few hours waiting for it to be fixed. And my poor family, upon my insistence, added it to the music rotation for the entire rest of the trip. For that and the many other times that tried my dad's patience (oh god...I just remembered I put MMMBop on that mixed tape!), I will dutifully, nay, cheerfully finish embroidering the last 12 blocks this summer. And listen to Daydream over and over...it's THAT good, people!