Friday, March 30, 2012

New Perennial Bed

Planning continues.

Theoretically, that's what I'm going to plant in a new perennial bed along the east side of our house. It gets decent sun, but we're in a subdivision with little yards, so the house next door does play into our sun exposure. I'm hoping full sun plants will still do all right here.

It seems the only sensible thing to do is to leave work and go hang out in my yard in a lawn chair and knit. It would be research. It isn't that I want to sit outside and knit; I have to so as to see how many hours of sun this area will get.

I'm hesitant to use this strategy with my boss. I mean, it's sensible to me, but I can imagine she wouldn't understand. She does not share my love of plants.*

Still, I have a plan. I've called the Call Before You Dig people, and they should mark our utilities early next week. (So sad I didn't think to call them before yesterday. If I had, perhaps I could have gotten a start on Sunday.) I believe I will have about 16.5' along the side of the house before I get stopped by the electric box. I can make it a few feet wide. The very fancy way I will determine the width of the bed is to put our push mower on our property line and then dig the bed out to that spot.

Since you probably can't read the chart, here's what I'm hoping to plant:

  • Saxifraga 'Touran neon rose' - small, pink flowers, low to the ground
  • Scilla Peruviana 'Caribbean Jewels' - impulse buy, really interesting purple clumping flower
  • Echinacea, Paradiso mix - a jumble of all sorts of colors of coneflowers
  • Delphinium - a lovely, tall purple flower. I've tried to grow it from seed two years in a row. They didn't sprout either time. When I saw a healthy plant, I bought it.
  • Lithodora diffusa 'Grace Ward' - another impulse buy, low to the ground, bright blue flowers. The flowers look much bluer than the linked photo.
  • Eragrostis (Purple love grass) - ornamental grass with really interesting blooms, will provide winter interest
  • Dracocephalum - a purple/blue perennial snapdragon that I'm trying to start from seed
  • Bleeding Heart Alba - delicate white flowers, fairly tall plant
  • Existing perennial grass that I assume is a calamagrostis. It's green and turns wheat-colored in the fall/winter
  • Daisies I'm digging up from a friend's yard tomorrow
  • Anemone 'Harmony White' - I saw a Harmony Blue and didn't buy it. When I went back, they were marked down and only had white and scarlet. White it is. The one I bought has a bit of purple in the center. 
  • Columbine - blue/purple, another impulse buy

Nearly all of these plants are new to me. As much as I like plants and gardening and even with the Master Gardener class, I am aware of how little I know. This plan looks nice on paper, but I really am just making an educated guess. Will there be enough sun? Will the addition of compost compensate for our crappy soil? Will these plants really fit in this space, or am I being blindly optimistic? It's all guesswork.

I was talking to a similarly plant-obsessed friend yesterday, and she said she feels like her whole gardening life has been trial and error.

Plant something. It dies.
Plant something else. It lives but takes over the yard. Dig it up and try it somewhere else.
Plant something else. It never thrives because of your light/soil/dog. Dig it up and give it away.
Plant something else. It fits the space but doesn't overwhelm it, and it lives. Say a prayer of thanks to the gardening gods and move on to the next spot.

She's in her 60s. To me, this means that every year of my life I'll be wandering around the garden center reading tags, making guesses, and hoping for the best. Sometimes that sounds really depressing, but sometimes it sounds like a great way to live my life.

*She did agree that I could try to split a hellebore in one of our building's gardens, so I will not complain about her lack of horticultural interest. I just can't stop trying to grow hellebores. It's a sickness.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jewelry that Means Something

I don't have much expensive jewelry. When we meet with our insurance guy, he always asks me about jewelry. "Do you have enough coverage? How much do you think your jewelry is worth?"

Um, I don't need a separate policy to cover my jewelry. Most of it is handmade. Almost all of it is inexpensive. I like it that way.

There is a lot of awesome, handmade jewelry out there, and I love supporting people who are creating their own pieces.  Much of my stuff has been bought from a friend of a friend who makes her own jewelry. Sadly, she doesn't have a website. However, I'll bet that if you go to a local craft fair, you'll find someone like Valerie who makes and sells beautiful jewelry at great prices.

I bought this Buddha pendant for $8 in 2007 and still wear it a few times a week. The metal chain (which I bought for $4.50) has turned brown, and someday I'll get around to replacing it. I bought this from an etsy seller that's no longer selling, but there are lots of great pendants on etsy.

I bought this for a friend for Christmas for $8.95 from SunshowerCreations. I think it's gorgeous and may end up buying one for myself as well.

Andrew bought me this nerd necklace for Christmas. It was $6.95 from Pieces of Me Pendants. Like the Buddha necklace, it's made from a Scrabble tile. I love this necklace and am constantly amused by people who think that "nerd" is an insult.  I'm proud of my nerdiness--so proud that I'll wear a Scrabble tile proclaiming it for all to see.

This is my most recent purchase. It's from SpiffingJewlery. She and her husband cut and bend the aluminum, custom stamp it with whatever you want in your choice of fonts, and give you forty different color options. This cost me $28.00, including shipping. It's astounding to me that such labor-intensive awesomeness is so affordable.

She hand stamped it with Eight Noble Truths. I need lots and lots of reminders. Lots and lots.

I love jewelry that reminds me of who I want to be. The inexpensive pieces I've bought make me so much happier than a piece purchased from a mall jewelry store.* They say things about me, and in some cases even help me as I strive to be the person I want to be.

*I assume. I suppose I can't say that for sure since I don't really buy pieces from a mall jewelry store. Still, it seems like a pretty safe assertion to make.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wine & Canvas, Take Two

Back in August, I went to a Wine & Canvas event with a friend. We painted a hand holding flowers based on a Picasso. Saturday, we went back.

I'm not particularly artistic, and I'm okay with that most of the time.

The instructor said to use short brushstrokes, and my painting ended up looking like something inspired by pointilism. I like George Seurat. I'm going to pretend it was intentional.

The tree nearly pushed me over the edge. I couldn't get the lines to taper off into thinness, and that's the look we were going for. I heard more than one person say it would be a whole lot easier with a Sharpie.

At one point, the instructor said that the tree was a bit like a Tim Burton tree. I think that's an apt description.

I really like doing these even though it's hard and I'm always aware of the flaws at the end. It's a fun evening and the finished painting looks better once it's at home and away from everyone else's.

If you have an event like this in your area, I recommend you check it out!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


You are so lucky! You have stumbled upon a great opportunity to use your pretend eyes. How does this work? I write things, and you imagine there are photographs.

You're welcome.

I've been weeding lately.  Both outside weeding:

Imagine photo of weeded bed here.

and inside weeding:

Imagine photo of bags of books ready to go to the used bookstore here.

I'm trying to think of it as a series of existential opportunities. I'm getting rid of things I don't want in my life and making room for those items I do want. I'm getting a better handle on what items I own so I can enjoy them. I'm letting the chi flow freely around my life.

But, basically, I'm having a good clear out.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Look! Look! It's finished!

These buttons were $0.99 for a pack of twenty. I honestly believe they were the best choice, and the price was just a bonus. I'm a believer in boring buttons. If I knit a sweater, I want you to notice the craftsmanship and not the buttons shaped like kittens.

The thread was "neon," which freaked me out
a little bit. It also freaked me out when
someone at work told me neon was really "in"
this year. What is this "in" of which you

The stitch pattern is called Deep Waffle Stitch. I like to call it, "Fortheloveofgod, don't forget the foop."  It's not as catchy.

I was a smidgen worried about this yoke. It's a boatneck, which I rarely wear. It also has a lot of texture, and I was worried it would look fussy.  I think it turned out well though. That Carol Feller knows what she's doing.

I adore the color. It's Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, and when I fell in love with a colorway they didn't make in the yarn I needed, I e-mailed them and THEY CUSTOM DYED IT FOR ME.  I love them.

Talamh (mine raveled here)

I have an entire skein of this left over, and it's a whopping 661 yards. I haven't figured out what it will become. If you have thoughts, let me know.

In weather news, let me quote from a local news website:
Today’s high of 81 degrees broke the record of 78 in 1921. More record heat is in the forecast, with highs in the lower and middle 80s.   
Sigh. Well, when September comes, I'll be ready.

*Anyone else remember the part in the Hitchhiker movie when Slartibartfast says, "Well, I don't know this cheese of which you speak...."? No? Just me. Okay. Never mind.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Buddha, The Indigo Girls, and Me

I posted a bumper sticker on Facebook (I know. I don’t want to talk about it.) that said, “Obama is not a foreign born, brown-skinned, anti-war socialist that gives away healthcare. You’re thinking of Jesus.” It says something about me that I don’t even think about this being particularly inciteful (or insightful, actually). It seems very obvious to me and not something that would make people angry unless they have a gun rack in their car and an “In God We Trust” license plate.*

Well, you might not be surprised to learn that it is not obvious to everyone. I received one comment from someone who was a Religious Studies student with me during undergrad. I liked him as a person a lot. Since graduation, I’ve shot off to the left while he’s gone to the right.

The frustrating thing for me is that I know he takes religion seriously. He thinks about it critically, or he used to, anyway. I can’t write him off as someone whose only religious education comes from Sunday School. (How many people did I just piss off?)

I was trying to figure out if I should respond and how to do that in a way that wouldn't become an exchange of zingers.**

I was thinking that there had to be a healthy way to process this mentally. 
Oh, right. There is. In fact, I find it such a helpful way to process things that I had a lotus flower tattooed on my arm to remind me of it.

The Four Noble Truths
In life, there is suffering.
Suffering stems from craving and desire.
If we can end craving and desire, we can end our suffering.
The way to do this is the Eightfold Path.

When I actually knew this person, I liked him. I want him to think like I do. It hurts me that he doesn’t. The problem isn’t him. The problem is that I want him to be someone other than he is.  If I can accept him in his perhaps right-of-center Roman Catholic-ness, my suffering ends. I don’t have to change him. I don’t have to challenge him. I just have to acknowledge that we feel very differently and that is okay.

All this was rattling around my head while I was knitting at lunch. I was listening to the Indigo Girls, as I do, and

I have no need for anger with intimate strangers, and I got nothing to hide.***

Isn’t that part of it, if I’m honest? I’ve become someone quite different from who I was when I was in college, although the journey toward Liberaldom certainly started during undergrad. Even though I’m nearly always okay with myself, sometimes a desire for acceptance creeps up.

My goal is to acknowledge those feelings and let them go.

Secret bodhisattvas are everywhere. Even, apparently, on Facebook.

*Indiana has these plates. It fills me with rage. We’re a country built on separation of church and state.
**Zingers are tempting. My first zinger would have been, "It's pretty clear from the book of Acts that the Early Church was more socialist than Cuba."
***from “Reunion”

Friday, March 16, 2012


I am impatiently waiting.

We are setting records for warm weather around here. It has me twitchier than normal. I want to be outside Doing Something.

I planted a few lily of the valley bulbs earlier this week, and the soil was really too wet to do even that. I have plans for a new bed at the side of the house: daisies I'm digging up from a friend's yard*, echinacea, purple love grass, a perennial grass that I'm going to transplant from elsewhere, and some white bleeding heart alba. But for now, I wait until it is dry enough to work the compost into the soil.

The only thing to do is to plan. I started a Gardener's Journal last year, so this year I tried to plot out my little yard and the perennials that are already planted.

Click to enlarge**

It's not much, but at least it's Doing Something. The tragedy, of course, is that I have a fairly brief window in which I want to be outside working. Once it gets around 90 degrees or the mosquitoes arrive, I lose interest in doing anything but the most necessary outside tasks. It's a flaw of mine that I promise to work on every summer.

Knitting doesn't help when I get like this. I am working on the second sleeve of the Talamh, but it's difficult to maintain any sort of momentum when I know it will be too warm to wear this for the next six months.

*True story: I asked my friend if I could have some of her daisies. When she said yes, I informed her I would be bringing a shovel and bucket to her husband's birthday party. I'm glad we're close enough she loves me even though I'm weird.

**If anyone really wants to know what's planted where, I'm happy to tell you. I do realize that my life has limited interest though. C'est la vie.  Well, ma vie anyway.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Which I Plug a Couple Websites

I was trying to figure out if the blog was a good place to share this, and then I remembered it was my blog and I could do whatever I wanted.

Not knitting. Not gardening. MUSIC and BOOKS.

It's a minor annoyance of mine that I might not know about an album release by my favorite artists or book release by my favorite authors until I stumble upon it months later.

If Facebook can tell me about the children of people I haven't seen in fifteen years and don't care about, there has to be an easy technological way to fix this problem.

Apparently, there is. lets you create a free account with your e-mail address and enter your favorite authors. They keep track of upcoming releases. I haven't been e-mailed by them yet, so I can't say exactly how this will work, but all signs point to it doing what I want. is a piece of genius that lets you enter musical artists separated by commas. Then it creates a feed that can be added to your reader. I use Google Reader obsessively, so I added it there. I found out about recently-released or soon-to-be-released albums from Train, Ingrid Michaelson, Evanescence and Counting Crows that I added to my wishlist.

Both websites are free. In fact, the music-alerts website doesn't even require a login. Author alerts requires a login with your e-mail address.

I hope this is helpful information for you! If not, rest assured that I'll be blathering on about my usual topics again soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get on Board

I've been feeling unsettled. Part of it is because the weather has been so strange. It's hard for me to be excited about spring when I don't feel like we've had a proper winter. Do you know I didn't wear long underwear or shovel snow even once this winter?*

Still, spring is here. Yesterday evening I took my fern outside. The poor thing held on throughout the winter, but I felt it breathe a sigh of relief when it felt the breeze. I'm hoping it will fill out some now.

I planted crocus bulbs for the first time last fall, and I have a couple of blooms already.

The Buddha is meditating on the passing beauty of a spring bulb.

The peony has started to sprout.

The daffodils are in bloom. They certainly don't seem upset about the unseasonably warm weather.

Even the sedum has decided it's a good time to get going again.

There's nothing to do besides get on board and accept the changes. In that spirit, I made these for a baby shower I'm attending this weekend.

Saartje's Booties knit in Knitpicks Felici fingering in Positively Pink colorway

Newness is everywhere.

*I'm going to be honest. I hope you don't know that. That would be creepy.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I've had a bad cold for a week. Saturday I was shopping my shelves for a movie to watch, and I was trying to decide between two Hs: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Hatari.

I asked Andrew for his opinion, and he said, "Well, you are sick."

Right. Hatari it is.

Hatari is a John Wayne film about a group who catch wild animals in Africa to sell to zoos. No human is shot, so it's pretty unusual for a John Wayne film. I adore it.

When we were little and were sick, we stayed home with Dad. He was forced to retire early for medical reasons, so he was the one who was home. Perhaps because he wasn't sure how to entertain us, or perhaps because he feared he'd have to watch cartoons all day, but it was a regular occurrence to camp out on the sofa covered by a lime green sheet, drink Diet Sprite mixed with orange juice, and watch John Wayne movies. The Quiet Man, El Dorado, and Hatari were in heavy rotation. I'm not sure what other John Wayne movies I've even seen, to be honest, but I could quote large portions of dialogue from those three films from memory.

So, Saturday evening found me on the couch in a modified ritual of those early sick days. Instead of lying on a lime green sheet, I was knitting a lime green sweater. I used Diet 7 Up with my orange juice instead of Diet Sprite. I still watched Hatari in its entirety and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I'm feeling better today. The cold isn't gone, but I'm definitely on the way up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Places to Knit #5502

 A middle school swim meet

I went to watch my niece swim last night. I left with an increased respect for middle-school parents. I saw one dad listening through earbuds, one mom reading, and most everyone else was patiently sitting, talking, watching. 

How? Middle school swim meets are not interesting. Sure, you want to watch your progeny, but they only swim a couple of the events. My niece swam in the second event and then in the last event over two hours later. There's a lot of boring in between those events, and we were sitting on concrete bleachers. Thankfully, I had my sister to talk with and a sock to knit.

More people need to learn to knit.

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Old Memory

A friend sent me a link to this video. It's called "The Power of Introverts." I've talked about introversion here and here. Here's what you need to know:

  • Introversion does not equal shyness.
  • We're not antisocial.
  • We really do want to stay home, and that doesn't make us weird.
  • We like you and like to be around you, but we also need a break to recharge. This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

Imagine an introvert as being a series of electrical outlets. Now imagine people plugging into those outlets and draining our power. That's fine for awhile, but then we will kindly ask you to stop. If you don't, we'll unplug you ourselves and go hide in a closet. This is normal.

In the video, she talks about going to camp and being encouraged to be more extroverted. I had a flashback to Camp...

Huh, what was that camp called?

Never mind. I went there for a week for a couple of summers so I could be indoctrinated in conservative Christian theology sing songs and fraternize with other kids my age.

I think it was the second year. In the free time in the middle of the afternoon, I went back to the cabin, clamored onto my top bunk and read. By some bizarre fluke, I landed in the cool kids' cabin that year, and I remember one of the cool girls* coming down the hill to the cabin to get something. She saw me and was concerned. "What's wrong?"


"Why are you here by yourself?"

"Because I'm reading."

"But don't you want to be with everybody else?"

I don't even remember how I responded to that. I do remember that all I could hear was a loud voice in my head, "Be with everybody else?  That's what I've been doing all morning! And that's what I'll do at dinner and all evening and at vespers and then again tomorrow morning and then and then and then...." I remember thinking that the weird thing was that there weren't more kids in their cabin reading. And, honestly, I was grateful for that because I wanted to have some time when I didn't have to be on. But, seriously, why were these people together all the time? Didn't they need a break? As much fun as camp was, and as nice as it was to be around other kids who were into Jesus, didn't everyone else feel the drain of spending so much time with other people?


It's stuck with me as a powerful example of the difference between introverts and extroverts.

The next time you see a kid with a book, leave her alone. This is not her retreating into some depressing inner world. This will not lead to her cutting herself and singing emo songs.

This will keep her sane.

Read on, girls.

*The cool girl is nice in this story. I know that's weird, but she was.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Third Try's the Charm

THAT is what a cuff is supposed to look like*. Perhaps I will put off buying paint and looking for rocks after all.

Ravelry-ed here

*as opposed to the crap from yesterday