Grief Takes Away So Much

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This morning, as I lazed on the couch with my cup of tea, I was idly scrolling through Twitter when a tweet caught my eye. “It didn’t surprise me, when my parents were dying, that I couldn’t write. But it shocked me…that I couldn’t read.” It was a teaser with a link to a NY times column, and it was so unexpected, and so close to home.

Four years ago, I was working full-time as a retail manager, but I was also a bookaholic. I read as much as I could. I’d grown up with books, worked in my mother’s used-book store for years, even went to a seminar for antiquarian book dealers. And even though I was no longer in the business, I still loved books. All kinds of books. My parents and I shared a lot of authors, too, mostly mysteries/thrillers. We shared Ridley Pearson, Carol O’Connell, Philip Margolin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Kathy Reichs, Linda Fairstein, and so many more. I shared a lot of fiction with my mom: Maeve Binchy, Nancy Thayer, Elin Hilderbrand, Kristin Hannah.

Then, as many of you know, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. I still worked, but managed to get out to Arizona for a few visits. I remember one trip, on the way there, I read my first Lee Child book. Lee Child was my dad’s absolute favorite author, and he’d said this book was the best. I read it, and it was thrilling and gripping and tense, and I had a grand time talking to my dad about it when I got there.

My dad died in spring of 2012, and I stopped reading. For a very long time, I didn’t really read anything. I watched a lot of TV, I played stupid games on my phone. I learned to crochet a few months after my dad died, and that was my outlet. Then knitting. It was creative and soothing, and didn’t remind me of him at all.

Over time, I started picking up books again. My mom and I still share a fondness for fiction, and we swapped what we called “light, frothy books”. They were fun, didn’t require much thought, didn’t challenge me or push any of those grief buttons. I’m so glad I had you, Jane Green and Emily Giffin, Sophie Kinsella and Susan Wiggs, Debbie Macomber. I still love you, still read you all religiously.

I shared some YA books with my daughter. I’ve always loved YA books, and even though these were often darker subject matter, it was okay because it was different. Thank you, Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell, Laurie Halse Anderson, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins.

After a couple of years, I started reading heavier books again, ones that made me think and cry and feel extreme emotions, and it was good. And just the other day, the boy and I went to the library, and I came home with six books, and I plowed through five of them within a week. It felt marvelous to fall into books like that again, to get that feeling of utter escape, that feeling where you close the book and you’re still thinking about the characters hours later.

For so long, I wrapped myself in the soft cushion of yarn crafts, and it saved me. I still love it, still knit more than I read, probably. But I think I’m at a point where there’s more of a balance. I can be a knitter AND a reader. A yarnaholic AND a bookaholic.

But I still can’t read mysteries. Well, no. I take that back; I’ve read a few. Harlan Coben is still a favorite. But they’re few and far between. I’ve never read another Lee Child book. I have an O’Connell and two Fairsteins in my To-Be-Read stash, and I pick them up periodically, read the description, and put them back. They’re too dark. There’s too much pain and anger and ugliness in those worlds. And of course, they still remind me of my dad. I think I’ll get back to them, someday. Until then, there’s still a whole wide world of books to explore, and I’m so relieved that I could find my way back to it.

Settling Into the New Groove

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4 a.m. comes awfully early. Grace is still thinking she needs to be an early riser, and it’s not too fun. This morning I got up with her so Alex could at least sleep until his alarm, and I didn’t even let them out. I just stretched out on the couch with a blanket, and Grace happily cuddled up with me, and Jack curled up on the floor in front of me, and we all went back to sleep. I guess she’s just lonely? I’d let her sleep in my room, except Alex isn’t a fan. Maybe we need to just put her upstairs with the girl and close the door. I don’t know. We’ll get some curtains for the dining room, and I’m seriously considering a noise machine for them, to block some of the outside noises. There’s got to be a solution, because I can’t get up at 4 a.m. every day for the rest of her life. Until then, forgive me if my posts are few and far between.

We’re all settling in nicely in our new hometown. The boy and I explored our local library recently and were delighted to find a TARDIS! That’s a good sign, for sure! IMG_3177The kids are happy with their new schools and teachers. We had high school open house last night and it was the first time I wished I could go too! The teachers were all so passionate and enthusiastic about their classes, and several were very blunt about saying their class would be hard, and the kids might not get A’s, at least at first. I don’t think that ever happened in our old district. Oh sure, we had some great teachers, but not *all* of them, and I only remember one teacher ever warning us that a class would be hard. I *want* the classes to be hard. This is why we moved; so the kids would be in classes that would challenge them, make them think and grow. The girl is in a Gifted English class that will actually read books! She had one class in either 6th or 7th grade that had her read one novel, and that’s it. That’s disgraceful, in my English-major book-nerd opinion. So yeah, I think this will be a good school year.

I spent another day in the yard over the weekend and cleared out one more side of the fence. Before: IMG_3180

After:IMG_3182And that’s the bulk of it! Now I need the husband’s help to clean out stumps and pull out the old fence, and we’ll do some tree-trimming, and then we can start building our new fence HOORAY! We will all be happy. See that water pump there? (No, it’s not functional.) The puppies are ALWAYS getting their chains wrapped around it. Then they get frustrated and bark. Then we have to go rescue them. It’s not a fun game.

Yesterday I sat outside with them for a while and let them laze in the sunshine while I worked on my newest project, another Hitchhiker. IMG_3187I have other projects on the needles, but none of them are as calming and soothing as this one. I’m in love with garter stitch. But I need to set it aside, because I have another request for a school-colors hat! The first three have been delivered and were quite popular, as I understand, and someone saw one of them and needs her own. How about that? My evil plan is working, bwahahaha! Give me time, and I’ll hat the whole school!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

There’s been a lot of ups and downs around here the last few days. Kids are getting adjusted to school, and that doesn’t always run smoothly. I’m trying to fit my yarn time in around my being-mom time, and that doesn’t always run smoothly either. But let’s start with the good. I’ve got one school spirit hat done, one on the needles, and one in the queue. IMG_3164The bad news there is that doing so much moving last month gave me some tendinitis in my left elbow, the weekend of yard work aggravated it, and knitting doesn’t help it. It’s so sad. I’m wearing the support band when I knit and I’m taking ibuprofen, but it means I can’t knit for hours without feeling it. And speaking of bad, here’s proof of a bad puppy.IMG_3167I was gone for five minutes this morning to take the boy to school. This is what I found when I came home. Grace apparently loves these shoes. I thought she was getting better about chewing stuff up, but the reprieve seems to be over. And it gets worse. Oh yes, much worse. THIS is what I found after one of my errands yesterday.IMG_3157This was a neatly wound ball of hand-dyed silk from India, and I’d left it on a side table waiting to start a Hitchhiker. I found it on the floor. Thankfully neither of them seemed interested in eating it, just making a terrible terrible mess of it. Now I have to try to untangle it. Oy, these puppies. Don’t worry, I still love them. I mean, how can you not? IMG_3152IMG_3162I want to end on a high note, so I’ll show you the little beauty I got in the mail yesterday. I supported Vice Yarns, a company that makes the most gorgeous hand-dyed yarns, on Kickstarter and I got my reward yesterday!! This is Brazen, 250 yards of gorgeous superwash DK, and I’ll get a shawl pattern for it too! Isn’t it gorgeous?? It’s a special colorway, just for the Kickstarter supporters. You can check out their campaign here, though I don’t know if you can still contribute. If not, well, I hope you see their yarns in your LYS soon.IMG_3155

It’s Raining on the First Day of School

My kids started their new schools today. They were both a little nervous. The girl was excited too, the boy not so much, but mostly because he’s not a big fan of school. I’m nervous for them. I remember how scary it was for me, those first days of middle school and high school. But they’re good kids, smart kids, friendly kids. They’ll be fine. Right? Yes, they’ll be fine. Luckily the rain didn’t start until after school started, so now it’s kind of cozy. Soon I’ll curl up on the couch and do some knitting.

So, knitting? Yes, knitting. I finished my second Hitchhiker last week and I’m in love with it. I wish I didn’t have to give it to my friend. The yarn was heavenly and the colors are gorgeous, albeit impossible to photograph well. IMG_3113IMG_3147I started a third Hitchhiker but instead of two strands of fingering weight yarn like this one, I was just using one, and the same size needle, which meant it was a much looser fabric. I didn’t like it it. It got frogged and I’ll start again with a size 3 soon. But in the meantime, I’m making school hats. This one was supposed to be for the girl but it’s too small so I guess it’ll be mine. And if it’s gonna be mine, I need to add a big ol’ pompom to the top. IMG_3148I’ve also gotten two requests for school spirit hats based on the one I donated to the auction basket! Yay! I’m donating some of the profit to the Booster club so it’ll be a win-win-win. I’m halfway done with one, and I need to stock up on more navy and gold yarn before I can start another. Wish I’d bought more at Joann last week!

I would have gotten more knitting done except my weekend was mostly full of yard work. I don’t think this yard has been well-maintained in years. The front garden bed wasn’t too bad, but there’s a crazy overgrown bush that I tried to tame to no avail. It will be removed soon. I don’t like how it hides our pretty house. IMG_3121And the back? Good grief. There’s so much stuff growing around the fence line, and it all needs to be removed so we can replace the fence. I got one section done this weekend; two more to go. IMG_3127It’s kind of exciting. I imagine the neighbors seeing it and being pleased that we’re cleaning up the property. Mostly I can’t wait until we can paint the house. As near as I can tell, it’s been this color for over 15 years. I’m not sure if it’s even been painted in that time. Imagine what a difference a fresh coat of paint will make! Mmm, I can’t wait. But until then, I’ll have to be happy pulling weeds. Oh, not happy. Never happy pulling weeds. Satisfied, I guess. But today it’s raining, so I have a good excuse to NOT pull weeds. Today it’s raining, which is the perfect kind of day for knitting. IMG_3135

Tuesday Morning on a Wednesday Afternoon

I found yarn in a somewhat surprising place the other day: a Tuesday Morning store! I’d never been to one before, but my new hometown has one and the girl and I decided to stop in. Behold, they had two shelves of yarn! Not just any yarn either: good yarn. And good prices too. When that happens, it’s so hard for me to not buy it just because it’s such a good price. I was able to resist a little, but still came home with more than I need. (I know. Any yarn would be more than I “need”.) IMG_3111Four skeins of Erika Knight worsted wool in wisteria, 2 skeins of Erika Knight maxi wool in royal purple, one skein of boysenberry merino superwash, and a skein of teal Louisa Harding mercerized cotton. And they were all at least half the retail price! I love yarn bargains. Nope, I have no idea what I’ll make with any of it. Doesn’t matter. My name is Bonny and I’m a yarn addict.

Speaking of yarn, I spent ALL morning yesterday knitting a school spirit hat. The girl’s new high school band is auctioning off a basket on Saturday and I offered to contribute a hat. When I offered, I didn’t realize I was giving myself a 2-day deadline. Eek. No problem: two cheesy movies and a nature documentary later, I had a finished hat. IMG_3109 IMG_3110I love the look, especially the pompom, but I was disappointed in myself in the construction. The joins weren’t as clean as I’m capable of, and it’s bigger than I expected. I was about to toss it aside and just donate a gift certificate, but the girl insisted it was cute, she liked it, and I should donate it. Oh, and would I make her one too?? All right then. Guess it was a success. Hat #2 is currently on the needles. But first, I’m *thisclose* to finishing the teal and gray Hitchhiker, so that’s my goal for tonight. This weekend will be full of yard work. Ugh. I’m sure the puppies will miss us while we’re all outside. IMG_3112Happy Friday! Hope your weekend holds more fun stuff than mine does!

Pleasant Yarny Surprises

Gosh, I don’t even know where to start. Yesterday was one of those days where I was running around all day long, with barely a break in between commitments, and I think I’m still recovering. There were some good moments in there (the boy was able to get choir and art added to his schedule, the girl got her band photos taken) but also some not so fun stuff (his locker wouldn’t open, dental checkups). The day was capped off with a school meeting that lasted 90 minutes instead of the 30 I was expecting. After starting the errands at 9:30, finally at 8 p.m. I was done. So yeah, long day. But the best part of the day? The Preservation committee approved our fence plan! That means we don’t have to wait for the next meeting, and we can start work immediately! The husband has decided he wants to do the work himself so we can save on labor and upgrade materials. I’m fine with it because I know he’ll do a great job but also because it means we don’t have to wait the 5-10 weeks the fence companies quoted us. So I’m guessing this weekend there will be some yard work going on in my backyard. Want to come help?

I did get an unexpected treat a couple of days ago. The girl had a hair appointment, so while she was getting beautified, I went to Joann. I don’t have one close by anymore, and I do so like their yarn department. Especially when so much of it is on clearance like it was that day!! Apparently they’re getting ready for fall colors, so I was able to score some awesome yarn for great prices. Here’s my haul. IMG_3079See that fuzzy dark pink Beautiful yarn in the back? I’ve been coveting that for ages but didn’t want to spend $6/skein. I got it for $2/skein! Woohoo! The blue/gold/white will be for school color hats, the rest is just because I liked it. I liked the raspberry Bernat Roving so much that I knit it up into a cowl that very night! IMG_3087Sorry for the poor photo; it doesn’t do the color justice at all. The yarn really is a beautiful dark pink raspberry. This is my fourth Thick and Quick Ribbed Cowl and it took me all of three hours, at the most. I love this pattern. It was free the first time I made it, but not anymore. Still, as much I love the pattern, and since it’s a measly $2.90, it was an easy decision to purchase it. I think the other skein of Roving I got, in that lovely teal, will become my fifth!

I got one other treat that day. I’d ordered a couple of row counters from AndreSue Knits and somehow couldn’t resist getting myself some fun stitch counters too. She shipped it the same day and I got it on Monday. Look at this fun little stash! IMG_3078 IMG_3083Happy knitting to ME! AndreSue also sells gorgeous hand-painted yarns that I drool over. Most of them are sock weight, which I don’t really knit with, but I’m still eyeing some of the Felicity worsted weight like this little lovely.

My calendar today is empty but don’t let that fool you. I still have a To Do list a mile long, so I suppose I better get cracking. After all, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can knit!

It’s Friday, and I Even Have a Finished Object!

Yes, you read that right: I finished a project last night! My first completed project in the new house! I call this the Rainbow Mountain Cowl. IMG_3042Only 85 yards of yarn, size 11 needles, and this baby went fast. It’s not the best combination of yarn and pattern, since it doesn’t show off the mountainous design very well, but at least the yarn looks gorgeous and that’s the important thing with this yarn. This project is Raveled here if you’re interested.

I let the puppies outside this morning by themselves while I went to fetch my tea, and when I came back, Jack was sitting right outside the door. He didn’t want in, though. He just wanted me to come out, because as soon as he could tell I was, he bounded down the stairs to frolic with Grace. After playtime, he came up to sit with me. He’s definitely a mama’s boy. IMG_3039 IMG_3040This weekend I get to visit with my sister and her kids while the husband packs up all his tools in the old garage, and then Sunday the husband and I are taking a day to ourselves to celebrate our 18th anniversary! Enjoy your weekend, readers!

p.s. I apologize for the plethora of exclamation points. That’s what happens when I’m in a good mood.

School Supplies & Three Knitting Projects

School supplies! Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love shopping for school supplies? It’s just not fair: there’s so much more cool stuff than when I was in school. I mean, I saw a sparkly silver binder and it was gorgeous, but what do I need with a binder?? Hmm, printed out knitting patterns, maybe? Well, I didn’t think of that at the time, so I didn’t buy the binder. But I couldn’t resist notebooks. I love notebooks. There’s so much promise and possibility there! I could write a novel, another memoir, I could make notes on knitting projects, I could use (another) personal journal, I could just use it for daily notes and lists! See, I truly *needed* these notebooks. … And the funky pencils too.IMG_3032Other than that, we’re making the most of our lazy time before school starts. We all (except the poor husband who has to go to work) have been sleeping in and hanging out in pajamas late into the morning. I especially like it when I let the puppies into my room and we all just chill out in my bed. IMG_3018But eventually I do make it downstairs, and even though I’m driving the girl to and from band camp and still doing little errands/tasks related to moving, I’m finding plenty of time to knit. I sit on my couch and just enjoy my view. I love my new house. IMG_3023I have indeed cast on three new projects. The first one is the Retro Knitting bag in pink Berroco Weekend. I’m still on the base of the bag right now but it should go quickly. This is my most mindless knitting right now, no counting needed, so it’ll be my travel knitting for a while. IMG_3028 IMG_3029I also cast on the Gold Rush in the scarfette, but it didn’t go well. I cast on the recommended number of stitches but that was too narrow. I frogged and added four stitches. I didn’t think about the fact that if I made those four stitches (2 on each edge) stockinette, my scarf would curl. So I needed to frog again and start over with garter stitch edges. Except I didn’t. Instead I cast on for something completely different: the bulky version of River Deep, Mountain High. I made a red Heartbeat cowl from the original version and loved it, plus I do so love knitting in the round. So this: IMG_3025became this: IMG_3030It pleases me.

Finally, my red Chocolate Cherries yarn is on its way to becoming leafy mitts. I’d forgotten what a joy it is to knit with this yarn. (Sonoma by Baah!) It’s 100% merino, soft yet strong. Not crunchy but still good stitch definition. Yes, I love this yarn. And so far I’m loving this pattern. I’d also forgotten how quickly fingerless gloves knit up! IMG_3027So as you can see, I have plenty of knitting to keep my busy and happy. I’m midway through season 4 of Gilmore Girls and seriously, can Lorelei and Luke just get together already? (Please no spoilers! I have no idea what happens so don’t tell me!) Once school starts in 12 days, I’ll have plenty of time to binge-watch. Oh, and good news: the girl got into the Women’s Honor Choir, and the boy got into the three advanced classes at his middle school. Should be a good year!

Ready to Cast On!

I have had two months of little knitting and now that I am unpacked it is time to remedy that! This morning I perused Ravelry for ages until I found three patterns that called my name. I don’t know if I’ll get them all cast on today, but I will soon. As much as I love my Hitchhiker knitting, I’m craving some variety.

I’m going to start another Retro Style Knitting Bag, like the one I made for my sister, for myself out of some pink Berroco Weekend. It will be lined in denim. Love this bag, and of course I’m in desperate need of another knitting bag.

Second will be some Foliage Lace Mitts out of the second skein of my Chocolate Cherries yarn. It will go with my Chocolate Cherries shawlette. They’ll be a nice little set to wear in the fall when it gets chilly but not cold.

And finally, I have this skein of Crystal Palace Gold Rush. It’s gorgeous, all shiny and sparkly and multicolored. IMG_3147I wanted to make something with it but had a heck of a time finding a good pattern that uses only 85 yards. I wanted a lacy cowl, something beautiful and feminine and delicate. Finally, I found this Fall Leaves Scarfette and I think it will be perfect. I’ll even get to add a button!

Sorry, not as many photos today, but maybe soon, if I manage to get as much knitting done as I hope. But I have good puppy news: the last two nights, Grace has been quiet until at least 5:30! This morning I heard one short bark and then she was quiet again. I went back to the basics and reinforced the routine we had at the old house: potty break, nighttime treat, tell them to lay down, and love on them before going to bed. I don’t know if that made the difference, but it doesn’t hurt! Seriously, puppies are just like toddlers. Sadly, Grace’s streak of non-destruction has ended. The husband got complacent and left a hat out overnight. Oops. IMG_3013And none of us can wait until we can get our fence up and stop having to put them on chains in the backyard. I’m tired of untangling them, and poor Jack is tired of getting stuck. IMG_3012Today I’m taking the girl to her new school to audition for the choir and then enroll in her classes! Exciting stuff. Plus I’ll have some downtime, so I better get my yarn wound and ready to knit. Happy Tuesday!

Progress Made: House and Hitchhiker

I mentioned last time that our sitting room is all set up and since then I managed to get a nice photo. Now, the kids wanted it to be a music room, with the piano, flute and trombones. I wanted it to be a library. So it’s a library with a piano in it, and the other instruments can practice elsewhere. I love having a room whose main purpose is to house books, and give a person a quiet place to read books. IMG_3001Curtains have been ordered and that will really finish the room off nicely. We’re doing double curtains: an ivory sheer and a brownish-gray panel over that. It’s hard to describe the color, but they’re quite lovely. I even found a book to add to my library today: a nice first edition of Colony, and for only $2, I’ll have you know!IMG_3002I’ve also been working on my second Hitchhiker. Someone requested a teal and gray one, so that’s what I’m making. I got to buy some gorgeous Frolicking Feet Done Roving for it, and I keep trying to photograph it, but the colors just don’t come out right. Here’s my best attempt: IMG_2998It’s better in person, I swear. Gorgeous colors. I do love that yarn. I also bought a skein for yet another Hitchhiker (I’m obsessed right now). It’s Cascade’s Heritage 150 in a fun mix of green, purple and navy. Good thing I have no yarn stores near me, since I have no ability to resist pretty yarn.IMG_2995I have no puppy photos to share this time. Puppies are not my favorite, I’m afraid. Grace has decided that it’s fun to bark anywhere from 3 to 4 in the morning, for no good reason I can figure out. She’s always been able to wait until at least 5:30 before needing to go out. I don’t know if it’s because they’re not getting as much exercise being on chains as opposed to having freedom in the yard, or if she’s still unsettled from the move and is just slow to adjust. I can get up and pet them and go back to bed for around an hour or so before the barking starts up again. I’m tempted to let them sleep in my room tonight to see if that helps, because I could really use a night of uninterrupted sleep. Have any of you had similar problems with pets after moving? They were so good before the move that I have to believe we’ll get back there. The good thing is that we’re able to leave them unrestrained in the house while we’re gone/sleeping and Grace hasn’t destroyed anything. It’s been a week and a half and the only thing she’s done is eaten the tomatoes we left on the counter. So, that’s something. But still. Sleep would be good. And speaking of sleep, I believe that’s where I’m headed now. Wish me luck!

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