a girl and her boy

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Reading the Stacks 2011

I have a lot of books. I always have. I’m an English teacher and an avid reader, so it makes sense. With all the moves the last few years, my shelves have been going through a lot of changes and I find myself for the first time with more books that I have not read on my shelves than vice versa. This is unsettling. The books call out to me at night when I’m sleeping, begging to be read. When I sit with one book, another flies off the shelf and lands in my lap and whines. I need to quell the voices and buckle down and read the volumes on the shelves that haven’t been cracked since considering their adoption at various bookstores.

So this year, along with blogging every day and knitting solely out of my stash, I issue the challenge of reading exclusively from my stacks all the unread or half-read books. I thought about writing a list, but that would be massive. Instead, I’ll write a list of ten books at a time to work through and as I cross books off, I’ll add more at the bottom.

The following list is comprised mainly of books I’m partway through already and just need to focus in on and finish. I have a bad habit of starting a new book while I’m already reading another and thus spread my attention too thin. I do that with knitting, too.

1. Savage Beauty:  The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Nancy Milford. Current status:  104 of 509 pages.

I began reading this one in the fall and I pick it up from time to time and read a chapter. I’m really enjoying learning more about one of my favorite poets and fellow Mainer.

2. Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Wolfe. Current status:  69 of 508 pages.

Wolfe is a great and vivid writer but his exposition is thick and takes a lot of effort to trudge through. That’s one of the reasons I’m stuck at under 100 pages.

3. Stress Less:  The new science that shows women how to rejuvenate the body and mind. Thea Singer. Current Status:  11 of 254 pages.

I went to the book talk at Brookline Booksmith when Thea Singer was there. When introducing her book, she said that the tag line was the publisher’s idea and not hers. She wanted it to be “stress is the new biological clock.” The publishers won. The book has good science and great common sense ideas on how to manage stress.

4. Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. Current status:  120 of 365 pages.

As I expected, I’m thoroughly enjoying S&S. Austen rocks.

5. Swann’s Way. Marcel Proust. Current status:  0 of 444 pages.

This has been on my to-read list and by my bed for long enough. Time to cross it off!

6. Heavy Words Lightly Thrown:  The Reason Behind the Rhyme. Chris Roberts.

Gabe and I have been taking turns reading chapters out of this book out loud. I’m hoping we can finish it up in the next week or two.

7. The Fountain Overflows. Rebecca West. Current status:  0 of 313 pages.

I bought this book a few months ago for a book club. The event was cancelled and I then put off reading the book. I’m still very intrigued by the summaries I’ve read and look forward to my own reaction to this classic book.

8. Wizard and Glass, volume Four of The Dark Tower. Stephen King. Current Status:  119 of 668.

King is a master writer. I love everything I’ve read by him so far and he inspires me as a writer and a reader.

9. Everything’s Eventual:  14 Dark Tales. Stephen King. Status:  0 of 459 pages.

It’s a King book. I can’t wait to crack it open!

10. Azumanga Daioh. Kiyohiko Azuma. Current status:  483 of 675 pages.

This is the entire manga series in one volume. I watched the anime version back in 2005 or 2006 and befriended the characters. Reading the story in manga form is like reminiscing with old friends. It’s been a great experience. Azumanga Daioh is a slice of life manga following a cast of five friends through their three years of high school.

Read the Stack 2011 - Stack 1

Stack 1

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What are you currently reading? What books are on your list to read right now?

Knit the Stash 2011: the Sock Yarn

Like any self-respecting knitter, I have a stash to be proud of. It’s full and constantly demanding more storage space and knitting time. I’ve added to it since beginning my most recent phase of knitting in 2005 and it’s currently contained in a plastic tote, two wicker baskets, and a few travel bags. It contains sock yarn, sweater yarn, “I have no idea” yarn, and hand-me-down yarn. Some of it is lovely wool or bamboo, some of it is blended, and some of it is acrylic that I’ve grown out of using. I’m attached to all of it and that’s why the stash is massive.

However, it’s time to make something of the collection, thus the Knit the Stash 2011 challenge. Over the next several Saturdays, I’ll be posting photos of the stash and thoughts on how the yarn will be used. Some of it will be knit up according to the original plan, some of it will be re-purposed and matched to a new and wonderful pattern, and some of it will likely be given away (I love blog giveaways!). I may also give away many of the knitted items.

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all the sock yarn in my collection, less one that's in a knitting bag in my car

 

I wrangled up all the sock yarn. All told, there is wool for 13 pairs of socks, maybe more with leftovers.

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Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

Sock Stash #1 – Jawoll Magic Superwash

I purchased this gorgeous superwash blend at A Yarn Over Marblehead December 2010 when I was shopping with my friend Alison B to get stuff for a cowl and mitts. This is a cute little store that has a good selection of yarn in a range from wool/acrylic blends for the timid beginner to high end designer wool for those heirloom projects. There was a single cubby for the Jawoll Magic Superwash and I was immediately drawn to the skein I adopted. I picked it up off the shelf immediately and carried it around the store for forty minutes before I made a final decision. The colors are perfect for spring and I can’t wait to have it knitted up and on my feet! I need to find the perfect pattern to showcase the colors. I’m thinking a simple rib would work.

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worth a second look - Jawoll Magic Superwash

 

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Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

 

Sock Stash #2 – Knit Picks Stroll in Grass

I’ve had good luck with the Knit Picks sock yarns. I know some knitters don’t like it, and that’s fine, but I have no problems with it so far. It’s priced well and my socks knit up their wool from a few years ago are just fine still. I loved this green color and it will work well for showing off a pattern with texture. I’m thinking a lacy pattern.

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Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

 

Sock Stash #3 – Knit Picks Stroll in Hearth Multi

There was a sale and I got this for a good price. Orange has been my color this year. After years of avoiding orange, I’ve been craving it!

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Knit Picks Essential in Lumber Jack Tweed

 

Sock Stash #4 – Knit Picks Essential in Lumberjack Tweed

A basic sock yarn that will show off a nice textured pattern.

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Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

 

Sock Stash #5 – Knit Picks Essential in Inca Gold Tweed

Another basic sock yarn for a textured pattern.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #6 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (blue)

I love this yarn. It has wool and bamboo! How can it get any better? The colors are soft and calming. I’m thinking a simple rib stitch pattern for this.

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Plymouth Yarn Sockin' Sox

 

Sock Stash #7 – Plymouth Yarn Sockin’ Sox in ___ (brown)

This is the same as the other Plymouth yarn. Brown is such a nice color for socks, especially in the fall with a wheat colored sweater and a bright scarf.

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Austermann Step

 

Sock Stash #8 – Austermann Step

I love this yarn! I’ve bought a few skeins and knitted it up into socks, all for gifts, and loved every moment of knitting with this stuff. The wool is infused with aloe and it softened my fingers while knitting. I can just imagine how it would be for the feet!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #9 – hand spun and dyed wool, green

I was given this wool as a departure gift when I left my teaching position in Maine. My mentor teacher was also a knitter and she spun and dyed this for me. Aww!

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a hand-spun hand-dyed gift

 

Sock Stash #10 – hand spun and dyed wool, purple

My mentor teacher from Maine spun and dyed this one for me, too!

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Cascade 220

 

Sock Stash #11 – Cascade 220

I bought this stuff out of the “orphans” basket at Fiberphilia in 2007. I intended to make socks out of it, and still do, but I’ve started and frogged a few other projects with it in between.

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self-striping sock kit dyed for me as a gift

 

Sock Stash #12 – hand dyed wool, multi

Another hand-dyed gift from my mentor teacher in Maine. She used one of the self-striping kits from Knit Picks and went to town with the dye! It’s a crazy hodge-podge of color and I love it!

 

Opal

Sock Stash #13 – Opal

I bought this yarn at the Yard Goods Center in Waterville, ME back in 2007. I just cast on a pair of socks with it out of the Nancy Bush book, Knitting Vintage Socks.

* * *

So that’s the sock yarn stash! I’ll be knitting exclusively from the stash this year to whittle down the collection.

I also have a book goal but I’ll be writing about that on Sunday.

What are you working on this year? What ideas do you have to use what you have and save money? What are  your productivity goals?

The Power of Intentions – Make Your Life Happen!

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment… this day… is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day… each moment of this day… a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.” Dan Custer.

I seem to have something to learn about the power of intentions and positive thinking as the universe has put opportunity after opportunity to think about it, engage in it, and learn from it in my path lately. The quotation at the beginning of this post was in my email inbox one morning earlier this week. On Sunday at church, the message was about harnessing your power and the power of the Universe to set and achieve intentions, and the chapter in my manual on writing just happens to be talking about intentions and goals as well. Okay, Universe, here we go.

I have made much progress in life. I’m very happy with where I am and what’s in my life, in general. I have two postsecondary degrees in areas I am passionate about. I have a comfortable home and plenty of possessions to keep me entertained, progressing, and developing. I have health, youth, and energy to make big things happen. I’ve overcome some huge obstacles and learned many lessons about love, forgiveness, and faith.

Life isn’t over yet, and won’t be for many years if I have it my way, which means there is plenty left to learn and achieve. (I tell Gabe often that I want to live to be 120. He says that with technology and health advancements that it’s quite possible.)

After doing some financial planning with Gabe, I turned the page in the notebook to a fresh sheet and wrote down in concrete terms the things I am going to do in life. That’s right, no “maybe” or “someday” or “it would be nice if I could.” It’s all about “I will.”

Here is what I intend:

I will be financially independent and responsible.

This one is huge for me. I grew up in a family where money was always an issue. There was never enough of it and it was often misused. When I went off to college, having no real concept of how money worked, I got myself into credit card debt and constantly lived beyond my meager means. It took a long time and many hard lessons before I got myself out of debt, stabilized my finances, and learned how to manage money effectively. While teaching, I did very well to support myself and my former husband on my salary and somehow managed to save enough to live on for the first six months or so of living in Salem when I ventured out on my own after the separation. Now I’m in a financially stable committed relationship, but I wake up worrying at night about what would happen if something happened to Gabe, or if there were an even bigger economic upset. I am actively working on getting myself and our relationship set up so that we are individually, and as a couple, financially stable. I want to know that no matter what happens that we are going to be okay.

I will be professionally successful and secure in a teaching/editing/publishing position.

I want it and I’m working for it. It’ll happen.

I will obtain and maintain good health.

I reworded my usual goals because they were too narrow and I found myself constricted and limited. I have learned that if I focus my goals too much and organize things too well, then I “rebel” and don’t do it. I need flexibility and freedom to achieve goals, especially health related.

One big change I’ve made to work towards a lifetime of good health and physical strength is my “minimum” rule: it doesn’t matter what it is or how much, but I must do something physical every day. I can go on a long walk. I can do few sets of crunches and push-ups. I can go to the gym and lift weights. The goal is to move my body every day. This way of thinking has helped me get up and move every day for the last 19 days. I’m close to the 21-days to form a habit!

Beyond that, I have some very specific running goals for the next 24 months. I had to put off my races this past year because of the health situation, but now that I’m on the mend, it’s training time again. So, my general goals as I haven’t set up a training schedule or found races yet is to run a handful of 5k races this spring and summer, and by fall run a 10k race. Then over the next fall and winter, pump it up to half-marathon distance for the late spring or early summer next year and keep pushing for my first marathon in the fall/winter of 2012. That gives me, I hope, a decent amount of time to build up miles and strength for a marathon. Running-readers, what do you think? Prior to the illness, I ran 4-6 miles a day 3 to 4 times a week and long runs of 7-10 miles at my best. Since then, I’ve managed to get in 7-12 miles a week. Not much, I know, but it’s been something.

 

I miss running outside! I can't wait until it warms up.

As far as food goes, I’ve had so many different ideas on how to achieve health through food and it’s brought me to extreme decisions in the past. My new and best idea yet: moderation! Oldies are the goodies. I do fairly well getting in a fair number of fruits in a day, and I’m getting better with veggies. I’ve been a whole grain person for years now and had a period where I thought I wanted to dump them from the diet completely. Then I had to go off them on doctor’s orders for a few weeks. Now that I’m healthier and feeling good without the dairy and gluten, and thinking long and hard about my needs, what I want, and about world health trends, I’ve decided to keep them. That’s for me. Everyone makes their own decisions based on their needs and how their body responds. Do the best by your own body, folks! Treat it well!

I’m also going to start yoga! Woo-hoo! I got a great deal on 7 classes in Cambridge through Yelp. I can’t wait to have a yoga booty.

I will live a long and happy life.

This whole post is about intentions. I intend to be happy every day to the best of my ability. I’m choosing it. The long part, well, I’m hoping that by a positive attitude, a fulfilling and invigorating career, and a healthy lifestyle, that comes with some luck.

I will write and publish at least one novel.

I’ve been tapping away at the keyboard for at least 30 minutes each day on a new novel idea this year. I don’t know how good it is, but it’s progressing. You gotta write a novel to publish a novel. The best writing is rewriting and revision. It’ll come.

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So what about you? What are your intentions? What are you going to make happen with your life?

Happy Thursday, folks!

The Bottom Line

Last night after dinner, Gabe and I sat in our his and hers Queen Anne recliners in the living room planning for the rest of the week. Our planning eventually got on the future track and I began plotting out financial goals on the long, medium, and short range, including the mundane details of adult life like car maintenance, car insurance, eye glasses, etc for the short term and on the long term things like retirement and a house.

But the bottom line is a puppy.

You see, we can’t have a puppy where we are right now. It would cost too much. Our building would have us pay a big down payment and then a monthly fee for a four-legged baby. And I want a four-legged baby like hydrogen wants oxygen:  it’s on a molecular level.

Every item we added to the list, after writing it down, I said, “and this gets us closer to puppy!” After a bit, you can imagine this got old.

We eventually finished our list, set the alarm and crawled into bed.

Thirty-five minutes after lights out, I sit straight up in bed, and declared, as if I had never owned this need before, “I want a puppy!”

Bleary-eyed from being awaken, Gabe just looked at me and shook his head.

“At least I’m not saying ‘baby’, ” I responded to the look. With that, I finally drifted off to sleep dreaming of my future furry four-legged baby-kins.

A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve intentionally held off from posting because of how worked up I was about some specific parts of the holidays. And now that those are over, and I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to write again.

You might want to take a potty break now. Fill your water glass, or grab a mug of tea or coffee. It’s a long one.

Read more of this post

Inspiration

A friend linked to this video on Facebook. I could not help but share. Thank you, Ben, for your inspirational blog and video.

Let's Go

I’ve had a song stuck in my head, softly humming in the back of my mind and this refrain in particular has been haunting:  We need a big push / To reach the right conclusion / So we can get there / If we’re really going / If we’re really going / Let’s go. (Lisa Loeb, “Kick Start”)

Action.

Movement.

Power.

If we’re really going. Let’s go.

It’s no secret I’ve been a mess lately. Emoti0nally. Physically. My entire life has felt like one big mess untangling just enough to become another big mess. I don’t want that anymore. I’m sick of it. And it’s made me sick.

Trying so hard / To dig ourselves out / Cause we’re stuck and we’re scared / And we’re thinking / Things have to change

I’ve struggled with fear since I was a child. With the various things that happened, I learned not to trust, and to fear. Everything was always a mess. Everything was a big hassle. And there was always something to fear. And here I am, 28 years old and still TRAPPED by fear and distrust. I don’t want that anymore.

It’s just more of the same / Again and again and again

What we all know about change is that it is SCARY. It takes faith and trust, two things I’ve had to get “injections” of from those around me. And I don’t want that anymore.

So here is my next step. My next chapter.

But first, a quick glance back.

I grew up Mormon as some of you know. I have since chosen to step away for my own reasons, but we’ll get to that later. I was hurt and was angry and because of this, I was blinded to some of the good things about it, blinded from some of the lessons.

For example, faith is like a little seed. Plant it. It will grow. (Action is needed. Results follow. Plant grows and becomes stronger.)

And, “according to your faith, be it unto you.”

And that if you act each day according to what you know to be right, doors will open when you need them.

I could go on. But you get the idea. And I’m sure it’s not new to you.

But I forgot these fundamental aspects of life. That life takes FAITH and and that faith is ACTION.

Indiana Jones would never have achieved his goal if he had not taken that scary step forward. And that’s where I am. On the ledge looking out over the abyss. Sweat on my brow. But I’m going to do it.

So let’s go.

So where am I going?

Well, first off, even though it is SCARY, I am putting my health first and seeking the council and help of professionals to take care of these pressing matters. Then I will continue to follow their advice for long-term health and fitness.

And I’m going to stop putting hurdles in my own way and make the rest of my life happen after that.

I’m going to create a vision of what I want my life to look like at the end of this year, at the end of five years, and at the end of my life.

And of course, how I want my life to look at the end of today. Because how you spend each day is, of course, how you spend your life.

As Dr. Nick, as told by Jen, says:  when you wake up each morning, you have a choice:  you can either say:  “Good god, morning,” or, “Good morning, god.”

Don’t let this decision drag on.

After making that decision, the rest is follow through.

Jen asked me to go with her to morning ritual. I’m going. But I’m starting today.

If we’re really going, let’s go.

One Goal. One Purpose. One Mind.

I spend a lot of time thinking about self-improvement, eco-ethical decisions, and how to best make every day better than the one before for me and those in my life and community. This past month, starting on my birthday, I began meditating and journaling on the year past and the year to come in preparation for my new year resolutions. And this year, I have just one goal. Just one.

Be mindful.

Of my emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well being. Of my relationships. Of my impact on my community. Of my impact on the planet.

One goal. Multiple beneficiaries.

This one goal breaks down into many little steps. I am taking one small step in January that I hope will be the foundation:  to meditate and stretch every morning before I do anything else. I haven’t thought out the steps for the rest of the year. I figure that will come with the meditation and daily mantras.

To the Future!

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

"Lonely Horizon" by Adib Roy (Flickr)

I’ve been focused on the past a lot lately. While it is good to be reflective and aware, it is not good to waste today on yesterday when tomorrow is on the horizon.

I am master of this ship. I am captain of my soul. Time to get a grip.

In the past, I’ve tried a lot of goal setting and achievement strategies to varying degrees of success. The one I liked and was most fascinated by was the 101 in 1,001 days project. I began this challenge two years ago and let it fall by the wayside. I’m going to find my old list, dust it off, clean it up, and get cracking!

(Thanks for the kick in the arse, Am!)

Daily Mantra

image from Mangtacio on Flickr

image from Mangtacio on Flickr

One thing I have done for myself is develop a mantra. I’ve been working diligently to cultivate the positive, create an upbeat attitude during these trying times and the mantra has been part of the routine for about three weeks now. Each morning when I wake up, I say out loud to myself:  “Today is a great day, and all is right in my world.” Yes, I have many difficulties, many of which I’ve revealed here on this blog and others I have not yet shared due to the sensitive nature of them, but that makes each day no less great or full of potential. Each day has vast potential.

[Mantacio’s Flickr Stream]