Happiness is something that can be a little elusive these days. Are you totally tired of being home and seeing the same things all day long? Obviously it is time to make something good smelling and yummy in the kitchen.
I also got my latest quilt finished early this week. It is now chilling at the foot of my bed where it makes me feel happy every time I see it.
Today the day started out a little gloomy with threatening rain showers. No. Just NO!! It was Earth Day and I was determined to break self-isolation to go to the local nursery to score some plants. So I did!
I had some ideas for putting new roses into the front flower bed and was on the hunt for small landscape roses that would bloom all summer. I hunted online, found some promising candidates, and then searched through the roses at the nursery where I found…
I loaded three of the rose bushes onto my cart, and dodging around other people (some of whom were not wearing masks… what is up with that?), I got though the check out okay and loaded everything up in the car. There were some Clorox wipes involved along the way as I handled the cart, keys, and door handles… Hey. In my case a little paranoia is a good thing. Big time paranoia is even better!
On the way home from the nursery I decided I might as well go wild while I was out wearing my mask and gloves, so I checked out the parking lot of the grocery store. It was almost empty, so I ventured inside, grabbed some groceries of the perishable variety, got gas for the car, and even put it through the car wash. Totally successful outing! While I was on the way home again the sun broke out and the afternoon became just beautiful. Sunshine! I can’t tell you how happy I was driving home with the sunroof open in a clean car carrying groceries and new rose plants. It felt almost normal. 🙂
Once I was in the house again (and all my groceries had gone through the Clorox wipe routine…), there was the monster orchid all lit up in the afternoon sunshine, glowing happily in the living room. The perfect happy lift at the end of a happy outing.
Good days in a sad time continue.
Have a good week, everyone. Be safe.
Afternote: Why all the paranoia and Clorox action, you ask? I’m an immunosuppressed senior citizen with kidney and lung disease thanks to my multiple autoimmune diseases. Still, sometimes you just need roses…
Here we are, deep in a pandemic, isolated, bored, longing for good food and lost outings, and worrying about those we love. Hard days, huh. How about some happy things that I encountered this week? A little sunshine in the middle of the week, so to speak.
It’s actually a day here with little sunshine. In a few hours the clouds will finish closing in and rain will start, changing to snow before morning. Tomorrow and Friday it will continue to snow and carry on outside. I will get to wear my new sweater! That flower outside evidently is able to handle snow, and the bunny is hopefully tanked up on grass and will do okay in the icky weather. By the end of the week I should have that quilt done and I’ll be casting about for new projects to work on. In spite of everything, there are happy things and sunshine in the week.
It’s been a scary, sad week, hasn’t it? I’m still home in lockdown, sewing masks and missing MacKenzie something awful. The number of Covid-19 cases are skyrocketing in the US, especially in New York. I find myself fighting tears at least once a day now. There’s nothing for it but to keep checking in on loved ones and to stay busy. Luckily I have lots to do, and I have been busy. Before I show off the week let’s just start out with something happy.
I completed the knitting of the Pebble Tunic! It fits and feels wonderful. It is also not finished or blocked. Still, you can now see the sweater!
I have to be honest, though. Now that I am at the finishing part of the sweater I am in a rush to get started on my next sweater. I want to wind that yarn and cast on immediately. I have three little projects (socks and mitts) that should be finished, but last night I dug through the stash and found the yarn to cast on ANOTHER pair of socks. I don’t want to sew pockets… I want to knit, knit, knit!! Today I packed up the Pebble Tunic to hibernate for a few days while I get the yarn wound for my next project, another V-Neck Boxy. Eventually I’ll get it done. Besides, I need feedback from all of you about those buttons!
You already saw the orchid. Seriously, the orchid is the star of the indoor gardening at the moment, but I have been attending to some of the other plants.
Tomorrow I think that I’ll dig around in the garage to find a nice clay pot for this guy. Since the plant is a super grower I’m considering starting a new plant with the downed stem to see if it will grow really fast, too.
My weeping fig that I have growing in in the light of the front window really put out a lot of growth over the last year. When I repotted the plant a few weeks ago I discovered that the root system was pretty small and I worried that I had damaged the plant when I pulled it out of the old pot. Nope. The plant didn’t drop any leaves and is still putting out new ones so I fertilized it this week, pruned off a lot of lower growth, and then staked and tied up branches to encourage the two plants to take on a more tree like shape. Here’s hoping it all works out. It’s another experiment!
Maybe I’ve been messing with the plants this week because of the spring sunshine. Or maybe I’ve been looking at the plants with new eyes because I read this book this week.
I loved this book. One of the things that I learned in the few years I worked in a research lab is that science people, really memorable people who do science, are originals. They think out of the box, they have wicked senses of humor, they listen to a singular internal muse as they work, and they have a casual relationship with rules and conventional schedules. I learned to write well while working in the lab. I learned to never take anything for granted in that lab, became endlessly creative as we designed original experiments, built our equipment, and collected the data. Science follows a timetable of its own sometimes… if the data arrived at 10pm I was in the lab ready to get it. I did some crazy stuff, and some of the best, most intense relationships of my life were developed in that time. This book captures the science behind plants and Hope Jehren’s work, the craziness of securing funding, the work of building a lab, and the unique and enduring relationships that are formed in collaborative research teams. A friend recommended this book to me, and I am so glad that I read it.
Jade plant, prepare to become an experiment!
Look! A new category. Early in the winter on impulse I bought a huge roll of batting to make quilts. I have several quilt tops all pieced together waiting for the final quilting, and I have more quilt kits that need to be sewn. Now that I am trapped in the house I have this work to keep me busy. Behold. The first quilt got done this week.
Next up: a green quilt with roses on it.
Well, that’s all for the week.
Please, please, everyone, be safe!
Remember to read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.
I don’t know how everyone else is doing, but here in my state we were just ordered to stay at home for another 2 weeks. At first they asked us nicely to socially isolate as much as possible; now the gloves are off as things are getting more serious. Many other nations have been dealing with lockdown situations for longer than we have, and for some of you this situation may be coming. Times are really getting tough: an invisible enemy, stress, grief, loss, and economic uncertainty. And now you need to stay home for who knows how long…
Well, as it turns out I have some experience with staying home in self-isolation. I’ve been social distancing for months now; it started last summer when I switched to “night shift” to avoid sunlight, and then I doubled down when the flu season started. Hey, sunlight activates my scleroderma, and I was blue-faced and panting for air, so catching the flu was a really terrifying thought. Rats! I contracted the flu anyway, and just as I recovered I became aware of this looming new coronavirus… I was motivated to self-isolate, which may be or not be the case for you, but I do have some insights and strategies to pass on to anyone who wants them.
Okay, I just want to acknowledge that this is really, really tough. I absolutely understand that my situation, under no circumstances, should be confused with the stress of a pandemic and the coinciding economic repercussions. Still, in case any of this helps, here it is.
Make lists. Lots and lots of lists! It helps so much to bring some internal structure and purpose to your days. I make lists of things to do each day, and more lists of long-term projects that I think I might like to tackle. Make lists of blog post ideas. Add new things that you think of to your lists, and reorganize them as needed. Keep yourself going, and make plans for the days to come. Really, it helps!
Structure your time. When I lost my work-day structure I just didn’t know what to do with myself at first; creating a new structure helps with that. Plan a daily walk, watch a set show each night on the television, create blocks of time for specific tasks (like knitting!), do a puzzle or read each day; don’t forget to stick in yoga, meditation, or journaling if they appeal to you. Just don’t spend all day on one thing that will be finished at the end of the day. It actually is better to chunk multiple tasks over several days so you won’t hit a dead zone.
Exercise and get sunshine. Unless of course the sunshine will make you sick. I can’t emphasize how calming and peaceful some time outside can be. Even gardening inside helps. Get some exercise! That can be one of your daily blocks of time, even if it is only your physical therapy and the number of steps daily on your Fitbit.
Create zones in your home to keep you moving around. Right now I have transformed the dining room into a quilting area, and there is a reading zone in the living room with a weighted blanket (and my monster orchid) waiting for me. I have a desk with my computer in the room that used to be my office, and I have a knitting area all set up. The trick is to keep moving, and link your movements to your activities. Maybe staying on the couch works for you for awhile, but it is not a good long term plan, people!!
Plan and make nice meals for yourself. Oh, look! Another list! Does anyone have any yummy recipes that I can cook in a crock pot?
Record your days and your progress. Keep a journal, or maybe just a day planner. Write on the calendar. Try not to write on the walls, but if that makes you happy, go for it!! Sign up for challenges on places like Goodreads or Ravelry. Maybe create your own challenges. Do it!
Clean and organize stuff. In a world where we don’t have a lot of control over what is happening, it sure helps to create a nice, clean, tidy environment for yourself. Go after the cabinets and clean the closets! Organize the pantry. Arrange your books, or games, or whatever you have cluttering around in your living area. Clean up your music, photos, or the files on your computer. You’ll be so happy that you did. I cleaned the garage last week and I am still riding the wave of good feeling. Next week: the yarn stash!!
Connect with everyone you can. Talk to neighbors from your doorstep. Chat with family and friends online. My book group is working out how to meet virtually next week. Remember to text to check in with people often. Being isolated doesn’t mean that we need to be all alone.
Don’t forget to shower, people!!
So that is my list. A list! I made another list, look at me go! Take any of this that is of use to you, and absolutely ignore the items that aren’t. Feel free to chime in and add any other ideas that you have to cope with being forced into inaction during a time that screams for action.
First it was the quilt. She completely ignored our needs and sewed and sewed for days. Then she laid everything out on the floor to make a sandwich of some type with this fluffy stuff called batting (That she would not let me roll in! Hello! Cat bait!!) that involved a lot of pinning and muttering. I even got stuck with a pin. NOT nice, Mother of Cats…
Then the sewing started. It went on, and on, and on…
Then she went shopping for some new toys for us and came back with a big heavy box. Boxes! Yellow Boy and I love boxes! We helped her unpack the whole thing and then she laid out all of these strange wooden pieces. Huh? Strange cat toys…
She got out tools including the POWER DRILL and that was that for me and Yellow Boy. We evacuated to the outside while she spent the afternoon and early evening putting her new mouse trap together. She says it is to hold her working stash and projects in the television room… whatever. We went out to chase squirrels and hunt bugs after dark. Ha! She totally forgot about us until an hour after our usually coming-in time.
Thank heavens there is still yarn out because she is knitting a sweater. She has been knitting this sweater forever. The yarn she is using is the absolute best for chomping, and I love squishing it with my paws. Imagine how I felt when she dumped all the pieces into the sink and then got them WET.
And just like that, after weeks of work, three big projects got done this week. OK, the cabinet was only a day, but it was part of the “get ready for the holidays” effort. For some reason she thinks that the holidays are a big deal. Really, it is a lot of commotion. Cats don’t like commotion.
Still, the Mother of Cats cast on several new projects last night to start on the Christmas knitted-presents drive. Lots of bits of yarn. Beads! Loose knitting needles and crochet hooks. Hey, I can help! I’m such a good boy. I love to help with all the Christmas fuss.
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
The Grand Stand quilt (pattern 328 by Mountainpeek Creations) was bought as a kit from Holly’s Quilt Cabin. While the original fabrics are long gone it is still a cute design.
The sweater is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan. This sweater has been going on and on for weeks with lots of help from MacKenzie. The yarn that he loves (as do I) is Malabrigo Rios. You can find my Ravelry notes here.
That cabinet was on sale at Target. Having cut my teeth on IKEA furniture I felt empowered to buy it, have them load it into my car and the rest is history. Take that loose knitting projects!
It’s been a crazy holiday week here with more snow, deep cold and bored, house-bound kitties. We spent the week getting another bit of Christmas sewing done and continued with the mitt making. Well, I sewed and knitted; the kitties chased, chomped and shed fur over everything. Still, it was a productive week. Here’s everything: sorry about the dim light but I haven’t seen the sun for a few days and I finally decided it was best to take pictures inside under the grow light in the sewing room.
It is still snowing here and won’t get above freezing until sometime next week. Guess you all know what I’ll be doing…
I made my first Christmas make list a few weeks ago and it is getting close enough to the main event for me to start to take things seriously. Usually my family and friends get knitted items; they all have knitted mitts, shawls, cats, and socks from previous years. I had this idea that I would change things up and do some sewing this year. Lord knows I have enough Christmas fabrics! Last week I pulled out everything that looked a little Christmasy from my fabric stash and filled a crate with candidate fabrics. If I sew for a couple of hours each day I should be able to make some real progress on the presents without the usual last-minute stress.
I found several projects and kits from previous years that didn’t get made or finished: a set of placemats, an advent calendar, a table runner and some ornaments. Hey! I should get cracking! Of course I decided to make something that wasn’t any of those items for my first project. The problem was these exceptionally cute fabrics that all kind of went together…
I decided to made a series of stacking fabric bowls similar to the ones that I made for my sister for her birthday. The dark green solid will be used for the lining of all the bowls except the smallest, and the bowls will be sewn in the order I have the fabric stacked. I even found a variegated thread that I could use. It’s a plan!! Here is the pattern that I found online to use for the bowls.
There is enough of some of the fabrics to use them for more bowls (I think that the largest bowl is exactly the right size to hold a Christmas coffee cake or maybe a hand-woven dishtowel with a package of my favorite Christmas cookies…) or to make a set of placemats. I have the perfect family placemat pattern all ready to go and a set from last year that just needs to get some quilting done and the binding attached. I am trying to stay out of the quilt store but I can make everything work if I just add a couple of coordinated fabrics…
Do you see why I have such a big stash? For now I have organized two more set of Christmas bowls and set aside the fabrics for Thanksgiving bowls that I can use next week when I go to my son’s house for the big meal. After that I can attack the table runner and placemats.
So much fabric, so little time. And I thought I had a problem with yarn…
This is all Sharon’s fault! I’m referring to Sharon of Creativity and Family. Yesterday I woke up to find that she had posted a long, chatty list of all of her WIPs and projects for the coming winter months. Oh, my goodness! The woman has big dreams and a diverse (and endless) number of projects all lined up. She quilts, knits, crochets, sews, is doing something mysterious with scrabble pieces, and even makes her own yarn from tee-shirts. If you don’t already follow her you should check out her post.
The other thing that I discovered when I woke up was that my wrists, ankles and knees hurt. Like the tendons. Like there is no way that I am going to be knitting anytime in the near future.
This is so not fair! I am just entering the final pattern section and bind-off of the Drachenfels. One more day (or two) and it would be done. I want it, I want it, I want it now!!! <snif>
Whatever. It’s getting warm again outside and I won’t be wearing a shawl for the next 10 days or so. Lots of time to get it finished. What I decided to do was to channel Sharon, go play in the craft room and shop the stash. If I can’t actually knit, I certainly can organize things, match patterns to yarn/projects and try to create a queue of my future crafting for the coming cold weather months. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
I pulled out several boxes of yarn into the main craft room and then discovered that it hurt my wrists to snap open and shut the latches on the boxes. Well, isn’t that special! Lucky for me I’m an old pro with wrist tendinitis. Years ago I had carpal tunnel surgery and spent months in braces. For a few years after that I still wore my braces when doing wrist challenging activities like moving books in my classroom or organizing boxes in the garage. I had to go on a hunt to find them, but eventually my wrist braces were located in a drawer of my desk in the office. I just needed to create some padding to go under them because I have edema in my arms these days (thank you scleroderma!!)
This was just fun to do. I moved yarn around and got things reorganized to create the project bins. I copied patterns from books and magazines with my printer/scanner so that I could slip the pattern into the bin with the yarn. The big bins contain the yarn and patterns for two sweaters, and the smaller bins have 1-3 projects each. I sat down (on the floor!) with my stack of boxes and the laptop computer and then entered everything into Ravelry to create this queue. In addition to the two sweaters I have 5 shawls, 2 long mitts, 3 socks and 2 hats. I thought about trying to put everything into the actual order that I will do the projects, but that is just crazy thinking. At least I have things into the queue and can move items around as I actually get started. Check out my queue if you want to see what I have lined up. 🙂
Since I was working in the craft room with the sewing machine it was a little hard to ignore the stack of projects on the shelf next to it. I pulled them down and discovered more to do. I had actually forgotten some of this…
Well, that’s it for now. I have organized and pulled to the front of the pile lots of projects and ideas. I’ve been wearing the braces for two days and my wrists are feeling better. I think that if I protect and rest them for another couple of days I will be good to go with the Drachenfels and hopefully it will be done by the end of next week.
If not I guess I’ll keep the braces on and get the garage cleaned out!