a girl and her boy

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February is for Finishing

Yes, I know. I know. The rules for February is for Finishing included having a list up by February 1. Well, I did have a list. A mental one. That list has just one thing on it.

I am *going* to finish this cross-stitch piece this month even if it kills me, which it won’t. It just might keep me sleep deprived, that’s all.

Since this photo was taken in January 2010, I’ve picked it up and worked on the wing and ribbons at the bottom of the piece and they’re now up and around the sleeve just under the earth. It’s pretty much a matter of finishing the ribbons, fixing the hair and wing gap, filling in the earth, and attending to the flowers. I can do that.

I couldn’t find the original photo that came with my pattern and this is the best image I could find for the finished piece online:

When I’m done with it, I have a plan for what to do with it. After I finish and attend to some details, I’ll fill you in. It involves preparing it as a gift for someone who has done a lot for me.

I began this cross-stitch piece in high school, freshman year I think. My best friend’s mom pulled the thread out of her own collection, gave me a hoop and needle, and put the first stitch in for me. I’ve thought of her every time I work on it and thank her for the wonderful person she is and example she was to me as I wandered blind in high school. Emmy, your mom is awesome, but you knew that already.

Emmy’s mom, Susie, is mother to everyone that walked through the doors of her home. Nearly every time I was over, there were a few extra kids in the house visiting Phil, Em’s brother, or just hanging out. People loved being there. I loved being there. I felt loved and welcome. I felt accepted. Em’s mom had a way of making every person feel special and capable of doing extraordinary things with their lives. She showed this love by word and deed:  she made every one of her “kids” a graduation quilt with a special message handwritten and sewn on. I have mine tucked away in a special storage bag in the closet waiting on a home where I can get a quilt rack to display it honorably. And she knew how to enjoy life and laugh. God. I don’t think I laughed as much or as hard anywhere else. Susie Estabrook, you are one of my greatest inspirations. Thank you for everything!

After I’m done with the cross-stitch piece, I have two sweaters, two cropped cardigans, and pair of socks to finish knitting. Hopefully I can keep the voices in the stash silent while I get this stuff done so I don’t add to the UFO list. Speaking of the stash, I have the goal of, other than specific items requested by people and funded, I am knitting and cross-stitching out of the stash strictly this year. As soon as I gather my courage to sort through the basket and two buckets of yarn, I’ll post photos of the stashed goods and post pictures and intended projects. Keep me honest and knitting!

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Barrel Magazine

My friend Amy had one of her posts featured at Barrel Magazine (Issue 4). Check out page 44. Congrats, Amy! 🙂

 

What a trip!

After importing my old blog, Little Bee, I took a quick spin through the archives from the beginning in 2007 to when I decided it was time to start a new project in 2009. It’s been a helluva journey. My first posts were at the tail-end of my graduate program when I was hard on the trail of my first teaching job and from there we went from Orono to Yarmouth back to Orono to Winthrop, and now to Boston following the sign posts of a long-term relationship culminating to a trip to the altar and then to signing divorce papers. Along the trail was a ton of knitting, reading, slices of daily life, and giggles at the shenanigans of my hamster, Clarence.

It made me realize how many loose ends there are! Let me tie some up so as you delve into the archive, you’ve got some sense of where the story ended up.

First things first, my dear little hamster, Clarence, died fall 2009. It crushed me. He was my confidant and entertainment during that first year of teaching living all alone in Winthrop. He’s now buried in the back yard of the house in Salem I lived at from July 2009 to July 2010. Poke through the “hamster” tag and you’ll find a video of him. He was the cutest little thing.

As far as people, Shana is still the bedrock of my life. She’s pretty much plain awesome. Amy is still kicking my butt and keeping me in line. Speaking of Amy, I need to call her. Allan and I are in touch from time to time. Luckily, things ended up amicable. Hallelujah to being friends with exes.

Ummmm, yeah. I think those are the biggest lose strings.

Have a great Friday night, all!

Who doesn't love a giveaway?

Michelle over at Circles, Dots, and Other Distractions is hosting a giveaway. She handcrafted some beautiful envelops out of German calendars.

I’m entering. You should, too! =)

Greetings, December.

Is it really December?

That means my birthday is in a week. The (maternal side) family party is in a little over two weeks. Winter solstice is in twenty days. And then we usher in a new year in thirty.

Read more of this post

dusting off the blog

It’s about time I dust off this blog and post again. Last post was about my renewed efforts on running and getting into top shape again. Unfortunately, that is on the back burner for now. When you feel like you are being stabbed with a serrated knife just below/under your ribs and can’t keep down food, you don’t much feel like running. But that’s a story for a little later.

Just a little on what I’ve been up to in the period since I last posted:  I’ve been working 30 hours a week at my therapeutic program, and 14 hours a week tutoring. Now, if you add those up, it equals 44 hours a week and you’re probably thinking, “pshhhhh, that’s not much at all.” But it actually is a lot because I do in-home tutoring and I have to drive to each of those appointments. So add 20-40 minutes to each of those one-hour tutoring appointments and you get a better sense of my weekly hours. I leave at 7:30 am and get home around 8 pm, sometimes a little earlier, but not often. I’m wiped most of the time. I haven’t been reading much. I’ve been nibbling on some books and poems, but that’s about it. I’ve put a few more rows on my Earth Angel cross stitch project, and made Gabe a hat in December/January. I’ve been working on my Massachusetts teaching certification (taking the MTELs). That’s about it.

Now, on to that stabbing pain. I’m going to withhold some details simply because I’m not ready to share everything yet, but here’s the gist of it:  Started feeling icky Sunday but didn’t think much of it because I work in a public school and bugs are par for the course. I was up all night throwing but went to work anyway. When I got home from the day job, I dropped to my knees in pain, began crying, and honestly felt like I was about to die. When the initial shock ebbed, I called Gabe who, of course, urged me to go to the ER. So I went. And sat. And sat. And sat. Six hours later I was finally seen. I was sent home jut a little before midnight with a script for antibiotics. I finished the antibiotics yesterday and was on drip antibiotics Monday. I’ve been in pain all week. Still not sure what is going on but you can be sure Gabe and I are on a mission to find out.

As I sat eating (nibbling on) breakfast this morning (a slice of sourdough and a few dried fruits), I realized that I have been doing some things that are worth noting on the blog, namely, changing the way I eat (adopting a veggie/raw/paleo-type diet slowly), they way I move (really thinking about how I move my body, how I expend energy, etc.), and the way I think (intentionality and positivity over fatalistic and negative). Over all, despite this recent snag in health, I’m feeling okay. Better than that, really. So I’m going to start weaving that into the narrative. My inspiration comes from Jen over at the Beautifully Strong Project and the community she is an active member of. And Gabe has been a huge inspiration, too, with his eating habits and inclinations.

So that’s everything in a nutshell. I’ll weave in details as I go.

Ode to Amy

Amy got me running about 2 years ago when she moved back to Maine from Texas. It was serendipitous that she ended up moving two blocks away in the town where I got my first teaching job. We hadn’t seen each other since a random encounter in the parking lot of Borders in our college town when she was pregnant with her first child. She and her husband stopped in for a quick book pick up before going on a camping trip. Her son was a walking-talking toddler with budding mechanical engineering skills when we were reunited.

After a few quick emails back and forth, we met up in my sparsely furnished apartment and sat on the living room floor with some chunky yarn and chunky needles to teach her how to knit while we caught up on each others lives. Somehow, someway during this conversation, she convinced me, the girl who hated running in high school for sports, to go out on a run. It didn’t kill me. I was very surprised.

Soon after, AT and his brother hauled their mother’s treadmill that was used to hang laundry at the homestead up the stairs to my second floor apartment. It took about a week for me to turn it on and run on it that first time. Staring at the blank white wall in the spare room wasn’t exactly motivational. So, after a while, I began putting motivational pictures and words on the wall to focus on instead. I kept running all through winter 07-08.

When spring arrived, and Amy was in town full-time  (it took all winter to close on the house, pack up and move back to Maine from the Lone-star State), I began running outside with her. I was shocked, shocked to realize that I actually liked running at this point and looked forward to pulling on and tying my running shoes each evening.

I felt free. I felt powerful. I felt in control. It was great.

And all Amy had to do was grab my elbow and drag me through those beginning runs, and up  hills, and into races to get me to that point.

Thank you, Amy.

And now, here I am, two years later, still running. Still loving it. And looking forward to running a 10k at the end of February with her.

Today is Amy’s birthday. I not only have my love of running to thank her for, but her unflagging friendship and support since we first met in 2001. You not only drag me through the rough spots of runs, but of life. Amy, you are the best friend a person could ever hope for. You are a blessing in my life.

Happy birthday, Amy!

Please Read.

A long-time reader of mine, and now a dear friend, has the following insight and observations to share on the health care reform bill. She is an American who has been studying contemporary American Literature in Germany and has had the opportunity to be cared for under both types of systems. Please take a moment to read this.

“Wherein I Say Some Things About Health Care”

I love soup.

image from baicherandfridman.com

image from baicherandfridman.com

My dear friend Amy got me good. She invited me over for dinner and sneakily made what has now become my favorite soup ever. It was full of vegetables all blended up. Even a year ago, this soup would have grossed me out. Here’s the story.

I grew up in a household that rarely saw a variety of vegetables other than green beans, corn, and gourds around the holidays. And when there were other vegetables, they were always overcooked and overdressed. Not a good way hook someone who is tentative to begin with about eating these sorts of things.

In high school, my friend Emmy began my food reform. Her way was blunt and direct:  “Here. Eat this. Now.” This method got me to eat cream cheese, deer meat, and rhubarb. Not bad.

Then my friend Amy H. early in college continued the process. She got me to add all sorts of veggies and foods to my rotation by adding veggies to my plate when cooking stir frys in the Commons. I got started on waterchestnuts, bean sprouts, and broccoli with her.

And then came along Allan. Allan has been working on me since 2003. He’s added mushrooms, sweet potatoes, colored bell peppers, cabbage, cooked carrots, and a few other veggies. He’s continually adding new foods into my diet.

And now enter Amy. She knows how finicky I am and how slow the progress of eating new foods is for me. This brave woman made a veggie soup for dinner when we came over. And you know what, I loved it! I loved it so much that I’ve made variations on the theme every night for dinner since. As a matter of fact, I’m making another pot of soup for dinner tonight!

Amy’s soup consisted of boiling until very well cooked sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, and carrots with a few select spices in some chicken stock. When the veggies were fully cooked she added some butter and milk and hand blended the mixture. Heaven! Pure wonderful heaven! I’m going to make this very same soup for dinner tonight.

In closing, thank you, Amy! Dinner was great.

P. S. If anyone has any favorite soup recipes to share, I’d love to check them out! I’m collecting recipes to try out; preferably soups that are onion/scallions/leeks/shallots/chives free or wouldn’t be ruined by omitting them (allergic).

Breathing Deep

Two huge weeks have passed and I am facing an easy week of a holiday and a half-day. Not bad. I go to school tomorrow, show movies because the students are not going to be paying attention because the following day is a holiday and the day after is the half-day, and I get to come home and knit some more.

I did so much knitting this weekend. It was wonderful.

I finished (finally!) my first Snapdragon sock with the purple, lime green, and orange stripes and am half-way through the second. It’ll be done by lunch time tomorrow guranteed with all the movie induced knitting time tomorrow. And I finished (finally!!) my father-in-law’s first sock in the lozenge pattern and have the second cast on. I’ll have photos of all these fine projects as soon as I remember to recharge my camera’s batteries. I am so glad to have made some knitting progress as it seems like eons ago that I started these projects.

The last two weeks have been awful and so this weekend of knitting and election day celebrations was much needed.

I had five nights (W-Th, and then M-T) straddling the close of the first marking period chock full of 3-hour SAT Prep training sessions, complete with homework, and grading. It was lovely, I tell you, lovely. I nearly called it quits on this profession. But I didn’t. Not every school springs SAT training on its staff, just mine. Luckily, my new colleague in the English department was right by my side to commiserate with. We had a helluva time those long days.

The long days and little sunshine exposure has been getting to me. I have a therapy light but I get up so early as it is to get to school that I haven’t been using it regularly. To use it consistently, I’d have to get up at 4:30 each morning! Yikes. That’s not happening.

I realized after grumping around, knitting, and watching movies today, that part of the reason for my recent bouts of melancholy has been the feeling of displacement. I realized that a year ago this weekend I moved from Orono to Winthrop to take the job in Monmouth and I’ve been nomadic ever since with weekend trips to Orono, moving in May, and then moving again in July. No wonder I’ve been feeling agitated. I haven’t had a chance to get my bearings! I’ve been uprooted for nearly 27 years and I’m ready for my hobbit house, but it’s not time for it yet.

I’m in my second year of my career and Allan has to finish his master’s program. When he does, we’ll be looking for a new job near a college that offers a good MA English for me and a teaching certification program for Allan, which means another move. None of the schools within striking distance of our area offer decent programs, if at all, for either. We’re looking at another 1-2 years before we can even consider buying a house and settling down for 3-5 years or longer. And with this, the possibility of high-maitenance pets (dogs) and children are on hold, too.

No wonder why I feel stressed out so much lately; I feel like I’m just getting going and my entire settled domestic life is still on hold. I crave a house of my own, a garden of my own, a puppy or two, and children so much but it’s not to be for a year or so at very least.

We’ve definitely considered settling down in the area we’re in but we can’t afford the property values on one beginning teacher’s salary. In order for us to buy property in this area we’d have to take out a ridiculous mortgage or buy a fixer-upper, which we’re not enthusiastic about. In order for us to purchase a home in this area, both of us would have to have a teacher’s salary, at very least, and then we’d still be scraping by.

Sigh. At least I like where we are right now. The rest of our life will figure itself out. I’m working on being content in the here and now.

Beyond all this, I’m pleased to say that Patty over at Fibreholic has given me my first blog award! I’m thrilled and honored! Thank you, Patty!

I first started blogging back in 2004 but it never amounted to much. I was pretty self absorbed as a young twenty-something still. It wasn’t until about two or three years ago that I matured enough to realize that nodding to the reader is a must when writing in public like this. I’m pleased that I’ve reached the wide audience that I have and that people have found something worthwhile here. Again, thank you, Patty!

The acceptance rules for this award are as follows:  (1) the winner may put the award on his/her blog, (2) add a link to the person who nominated you if you don’t have one already, (3) nominate at least 5 other websites or blogs, (4) provide links to the nominated websites or blogs, and (5) send the nominees a message letting them know.

I’d like to give this award to the following bloggers:

1 – My dear friend Amy of The Lawsons Did Dallas is one of the funniest bloggers I’ve come across. She’s been blogging since she moved to Texas and she’s been keeping me and her vast audience rolling for about two years now. She recently had the unfortunate life experience of having a miscarraige and so her normal humor was set aside while she related this life-changing experience. She has since reclaimed her humor but her depth and breadth of writing prowess has been demonstrated fully due to these fluctuations.

2 – I’d like to nominate Amber of Berlin’s Whimsy next. I’ve been reading Amber’s blog for a year solid now and there has never been a day when I didn’t feel better for stopping by her space. She, too, has been through many life experiences which offer depth and heart to her writing. Her crafting and photography are nothing short of inspirational.

3 – Next, I’d like to nominate Laurie at Everything in Blue, also the owner of the Ouou shop on Etsy (is it open yet, Laurie?). I first found Laurie through Etsy via her brilliant art and then followed along to her blog where she posts her art in progress and life experiences. I’ve been honored to blog on Laurie’s behalf over the last year.

4 – My dear friend since middle school out in Utah has been blogging about her family and adventures and it’s been a great way for me to keep in the loop. Leanne, you, too, deserve an award.

5 – Last, but not least, I’d like to offer this award to my dear friend Holly. Holly and I have been friends since grade school and have only recently reconnected at my second wedding reception. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up-to-date on your family through your blog!

Phew. This is a long post. I think I’ll call it a night!