Unraveling This Life

A little bit of this . . . a whole lot of that . . . and just a pinch of sparkle

The Weight (Take a Load Off Annie) (5:30)

Posted on November 5, 2014

I’m on a parenthetical roll with these titles! Nine times out of ten, the titles for my posts have little if anything to do with the content. I’ve always struggled with the titles for writing, so when I discovered that Degrassi used song titles for their episodes, it seemed like the perfect match. Most of the time I hit shuffle on my iTunes and just write down the first title that I like, but occasionally, there’s a song that reminds me of the topic. Yesterday’s had to do with the feeling of pride after voting, but today’s was out of the blue. Kind of. Because the parenthetical was the first thing I thought of when I decided to write about being grateful for tonight. Tonight is pretty much about nothing. Tonight, I’m putting my feet up.

I could have graded some more vocabulary quizzes, but I didn’t. I could have moved the shelves up from the basement to my room, but I didn’t. I could have washed the dishes, but I didn’t. I put my feet up . . . and I’m grateful that I can that luxury. I have that option, and not every person does. There are many people who leave one job and head off to another (and another after that). My own children are grown, so the constant running and rushing with their schedules are well over. I can put my feet up if I want to.

5:30 - Lucy thought about putting her feet up, too, but then she fell asleep

5:30 – Lucy thought about putting her feet up, too, but then she fell asleep

And tonight, I wanted to do just that. Granted, I cleaned up the spare room before that. And read a few papers during the day. Plus, I learned a little bit more about new software package we use at school. Oh, and I “prettified” a collection box for our blankets drive for our local animal shelter (check our #BlanketsForShelters on Twitter for more info about how you can help your local shelters). There was the dinner that I prepared – it was just gnocchi and shrimp with butter and garlic. But tonight . . . right now? I’m putting my feet up.

“The Weight (Take a Load Off Annie)” by The Band . . . and I totally thought this was called “Take a Load Off Fannie”

Pride (In the Name of Love) (4:30)

Posted on November 4, 2014

Things I did that I’m proud of today:

  • ran three miles at 4:45 AM with a good friend and neither one of us died or passed out;
  • graded an entire class set’s worth of quizzes (granted it’s my smallest class, but a win is a win);
  • helped out the sub in my reading partner’s classroom because the kids were taking advantage of her generosity and kindheartedness . . . and by helped I mean laid down the law;
  • decided to consolidate all the laundry baskets in my room and put the clothes away;
  • put together an IKEA rolling cart with Lucy’s help . . . realized very quickly that the Phillips head screwdriver on a Swiss Army Knife was no match for Swedish directions;
  • organized my winter running gear into three bins (coincidence that the IKEA rolling cart has three bins? I think not);
  • put a load of laundry in the washing machine;
  • and exercised my right to vote.
4:30 - I vote on two basic issues: public education and reproductive rights . . . because I am a teacher and a woman

4:30 – I vote on two basic issues: public education and reproductive rights . . . because I am a teacher and a woman

I’m pretty sure that there were other things I did today that would make my mother proud, but these are the highlights. Right now, it’s a toss-up between putting the IKEA cart together and voting. The directions for each of them are pretty simple and 99% of the time, they are given in the form of pictures. Usually, you feel good about them when you are done, too. Either you have a functional, simple, and economical piece of furniture when you are done, or you have a nifty little sticker that you can wear for the rest of the day. But only one of them gives you some kind of bragging rights, and it certainly ain’t the one that usually comes with an Allen wrench.

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2

My Party (3:30)

Posted on November 3, 2014

When you are fortunate to go to work at a job that you truly love, it makes all the difference in the world. I guess I’m fortunate . . . being a teacher is pretty much the bee’s knees for me. I love the way my kids looks when they “get” something. The ways that they change from day to day and, let’s face it, from hour to hour. I love the look of recognition that occurs when they are taking on the role of teacher. There’s not a lot that I wouldn’t do for them. Need some extra help? We can arrange that. Wanna play Wii at lunch? Sure . . . I gotcha. Just feel like telling me how confusing seventh grade is? Trust me. I hated it, too.

I work in a job that allows me to be goofy and dance to Madonna’s “Holiday” to prove a point. Where a casual mention of a sports team elicits passion that lacking in most of our elected representatives. It’s a job that has more ups than downs and occasional confessions about love of the silly crap. I come in everyday to a district that values technology and embraces those that are willing to try. I benefit from that, but my kids benefit more, which is exactly how it should be. We get to celebrate each other’s triumph and try to figure out how to make the bumps smoother along the roads they travel.

3:30 - My desk has seen neater days, but at least I can see it.

3:30 – My desk has seen neater days, but at least I can see it.

Are there aspects of my job that I don’t like? If there weren’t, I’d question myself. I loathe the changes that occur in the effort to make teachers more accountable. I don’t quite get the 100% proficient requirement in federal laws. I despise the constant attacks in the media about how these teachers just don’t get it. I could add more, but in the end, it boils down to this . . . I love my job.

“My Party” by Kinds of Leon

Second Chance (2:30)

Posted on November 2, 2014

Love. Peace. Freedom. Those grandiose ideals that I promised to be grateful for today? Taking a pass on the last two, but I’ll go with love. Lucy . . . I love Lucy. There’s no pun intended in that statement. Lucy, our 2-year-old mutt, is a snuggle bug. She’s needy and whiny and attention seeking. But she’s also loyal and funny and goofy. Two years ago, I would have told you that I was relishing being dog-free for the first time in over a decade, but truly it was a three-month period that was bereft of a lot of joy and companionship. The girls were at school, and Dave was traveling quite a lot. That meant me and the cats, who pretty much looked at me as the can opener. But a dog? Now that was something else.

2:30 - Lucy on the porch . . . this took a giant treat to get her to sit still in the wind

2:30 – Lucy on the porch . . . this took a giant treat to get her to sit still in the wind

Lucy can be the absolute most loving dog ever. All she wants to do is be on your lap. And she’s usually not content to sit next to you; she has to be as close as humanly possible, going so far as to wedge herself into crevices where she really shouldn’t fit. Is she a bit of a pain? Sure . . . I haven’t quite figured out how to grade with her sitting on my lap. And somedays (fine, most) she makes eating a little awkward since she thinks that her impression of a napkin is adorable. But I’ll take that in exchange for her keeping me company every day. Besides, if either of those truly bugged me, I’d have fixed it a long time ago.

Now that it’s just Lucy in the house, we’re thinking of adding another rescue to the mix. We found Lucy on Petfinder in January 2013, and I think we’ve narrowed our next pup down to two or three. Here’s hoping I have another rescue to be grateful for in a few weeks. But until then, love is just fine by me.

“Second Chance” by Peter Bjorn and John

Red Skies (1:30)

Posted on November 1, 2014

This morning while we were running the Wall, I mentioned to my friend that it was November 1, and I wasn’t sure if I was up for another Gratitude Project. “I haven’t even taken a single photo with my camera since I photographed my kids in September,” I confessed. Was it a proper “Bless me father for I have sinned” kind of confession? No, but I was breathless from running up an incline that requires a lower gear on my car, so it counts in my book. And I go through spurts and fizzles with photography. “I don’t mind the actual photography, but I loathe processing,” I continued, which was kind of shitty of me since I know that she had hours of processing in front of her with her job as a photographer. It’s the real deal for her not something to pique her interest from time to time. “If I do, be prepared for a photo of my shoes and a pile of dirty clothes because that’s about all I have in me right now,” I muttered and we continued our climb.

Instead, I give you the red cup, one of my favorite things about the holiday season. When Starbucks rolls out the red cups, I get giddy with the anticipation of all that lies ahead in the next two months. Last year, we were planning our trip to Germany to see Shelby, and the weekly red cup was like my countdown until that trip. Six more red cups until we get to see our kid. Five more . . . what am I forgetting? Four: can’t wait to see the look on her face when she see her sister. Three more red cups. What am I forgetting? Two: passport, suitcase, knitting. Check, check, check. One red cup to go . . . do they have these in Germany?

1:30 Starbucks Red Cup

1:30 Starbucks Red Cup

Sure, it sounds shallow to be happy by something so trivial as the annual red cup at Starbucks, but look at me, not caring one bit. So today, I’m grateful for the warmth inside this beautiful cup because it’s cold outside. Our early morning run was in a “light drizzle,” and long runs always take more out of me than I anticipate. I’m still cold and have a metric ton of grading to do. Tomorrow I promise to be more grateful for something big and grandiose like love or peace or freedom, but tonight? Tonight I’m grateful for a paper cup filled with a peppermint mocha.

“Red Skies” by the Fixx

Shake It Off

Posted on August 29, 2014

When I was in the seventh grade, it was a fairly traumatic time for me. The company my father had worked for during the previous decade was in the process of shutting down its local plant. Some of the men and women who worked there would be transferred to another location, but most of them would be out of a job. Our family started to making “what if” plans that included my father returning to school to become a veterinarian. Near the end of the third marking period, my mother showed up with my brother and a smile on her face. Dad was being transferred to the plan in Ohio – YAY! Which meant moving and starting a new school – BOO!

There was a joke involved . . . I couldn't tell you what the punchline was.

There was a joke involved . . . I couldn’t tell you what the punchline was.

To a 13-year-old a life-changing experience like moving seems just plain cruel. However, most kids come out the other side just fine. It took me a while to get used to the move, but Ohio is home to me and has been ever since we got there. Seventh grade in general is a rough time for most kids. When the girls were in seventh grade, I remember Jordan coming home nearly in tears. Someone mentioned nose rings in class, and Jordan said that she thought they looked dumb. Innocent, right? To a rational adult, it’s a perfectly innocent conversation (if not a bit ironic now since she and her sister and her mother all have nose rings). But in the seventh grade, rational is pretty murky word. Another girl overheard the conversation and reported it to a friend. Who had a nose ring. And she interpreted it like this: Jordan thinks you look dumb. Every adult who was once a seventh grader knows that them are fightin’ words, right? Jordan was nearly beside herself once she heard that this girl now wanted to beat her up, and Shelby decided that no one was going to do that to her sister (because that’s what sisters are for, correct?) and stated she’d fight the girl if it came to that. So, as the mother of two girls, I did what any rational adult would do. I flipped the hell out . . . big time. “You never said that. Why would she fight you? Why would your sister, of all people, say that? What is wrong with this picture?” The walk we were on consisted of question after question after question. And the best part? There were no bloody answers. None. Not a single answer.

Laughter usually is the best medicine

Laughter usually is the best medicine

Personally, I thought it might just be an anomaly with my children, but after teaching seventh grade for one week, I quickly learned it wasn’t. Seventh grade is like this. One day, this person is your best friend. The next . . . they act like you have never seen them before. Words get thrown around like gasoline and sometimes, one look is the match that sets the whole place on fire. Girls, in particular, can be especially brutal. Wrong color socks on the arbitrary “funny sock” day can bump you down five pegs. Liking last month’s “it” band can cause a whole lunch table to go completely silent for days and days. But boys dish it out, too. Some boys enjoy Minecraft while others prefer first-person shooter video games . . . see the two camps forming here? And god forbid you insist on continuing to root for last year’s winning Superbowl team.

Photo approval means everything because it will be on the family calendar

So what do you do? Part of it takes the form of ignoring (and here’s where I really do like Taylor Swift’s message in “Shake It Off,” cultural appropriation notwithstanding) because often times, if you ignore the snide remarks, they do tend to take care of themselves. But if that doesn’t work, what then? Before it escalates to bullying – because I truly think that the occasional name calling, the “You look dumb in that shirt” comments, the bump when passing in a crowded hallway is not bullying – bring it to the attention of someone else. Have daily conversations with your kids. Tell them to talk to a teacher, like really really talk to the teacher. Call the teacher yourself. Check out Facebook (or better yet, don’t let your child have Facebook or social media until you set some firm, rock solid ground rules). And have more conversations with your kids.

Many years after she was in seventh grade, she remarked how silly the arguments were

Many years after she was in seventh grade, she remarked how silly the arguments were

In a lot of ways, seventh grade really blows. Kids can be mean to each other. They start to smell a bit funkier every day. The eye rolls get so dramatic that you begin to fear they might have to walk around with just the whites showing for the rest of their lives. But seventh grade can also rock your socks off. My students melt my heart on a near daily basis with their generosity. They come up with the most amazing insights. Sometimes, their eyes even twinkle a bit when they discover something, which gives their whites a nice break from the sun. Do they still say mean things to each other? Do adults? Absolutely. Seventh grade doesn’t have to be traumatic for girls (and boys . . . I know that they can be just as mean to each other). At most of the elementary schools in our district, Girls on the Run have a program in place to “unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness,” and this school year, my school is starting a Girls on Track program for our middle school girls. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. And to say that I’m nervous is an understatement, too. Why? Because I’m the coach. Not because I’m a stellar runner. But because I remember what it’s like to hear the whispers and not know what to do or say or how to act. And I’d like our girls to know better.


“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Rain In the Summertime

Posted on August 1, 2014

August 1 is my traditional cut date. Come the first day of August, I begin switching to “teacher mode” because something about the word August brings back the memories of back-to-school shopping and getting ready for the first day of school. I’m chalking it up to a Mid-Western upbringing where you started school well before Labor Day (and you got out before Memorial Day, but who’s counting). But this year, I’m letting the first of August come and go without really thinking about school.

We got out of school later than normal thanks to the polar freaking vortex and god knows knows how many snow days, so June was virtually over before the doors of school closed for the previous school year. And even though I don’t really enjoy summer – which is odd for a teacher – I need the time away from school to recharge my batteries. During the school year, I spend most weekends revising or grading something: essays, quizzes, paragraphs, dreaded worksheets. Summer is just another work for weekend in my book. It’s payback for the countless hours spent reading essays and wondering if I was really speaking in English during that class’s instruction. I’ll often joke with my students that I started varying where I sit on the couch so I don’t get bored. The real reason? I’m trying to lengthen the life of my cushions by not wearing out one side before the other. And they all know my weekend schedule because I will frequently find them scurrying to get an essay done before I come back from Panera. You know you might have a rigid schedule when a student posts a comment in his essay: Hope you enjoyed your breakfast with Mr. Greenwood. Side note – we did.

Hard At Work

But this August 1 will have to wait until August 4 because of the Keystone Technology Integrators Summit. Two Mondays ago, I made the trek to Kutztown University to participate in a tech conference with about 100 other like-minded teachers from Pennsylvania. Walking into the registration was something out of my nightmares because people immediately began clapping and cheering. The introvert in me wanted to scream, “Please, please, please . . . stop!” but KTI was all about celebrating teachers and how they are using technology in the classroom. My biggest fear was probably about the living arrangements; it’s been over 20 years since I slept in a dorm room and never in all my college days did I ever room with people I didn’t know. Whomever set up the housing arrangements deserves a gold medal because I truly lucked out in the roommate department. For four women thrown together based on nothing more than a commitment to technology integration, we hit the jackpot. Cathie, Kristin, and Michelle were everything a girl could ask for and then some. We bounced ideas off of each other, laughed at the absolute dumbest things ever, enjoyed countless inside jokes, hash tagged everything (#15IndigoBox and #MFC should go on a shirt . . . just saying), and created enough memories to make the start of the new school year a little more bearable.

It’s hard to put a finger on the best part of KTI. The apps? It’s shocking the amount of good websites available to teacher and educators for little to no money. About a quarter of the apps I fell in love with were picked up from other teachers. How I had gone for a year without knowing about some of these is beyond me. Connections to other teachers? Introversion be damned, it was easy to chat with almost everyone at the conference. And Twitter became quite possibly the most used service at the conference. These professionals love to share the latest and the greatest, and Twitter was the place to be. Prior to this, I normally tweeted photos of Lucy, but Twitter (and Tweet Deck) became the absolute savior of KTI. I’d have to say that the best part of the whole shebang was the celebration of learning. Because when you come right down to the nitty-gritty, even with all the clapping and cheering and laughter and app sharing and tweeting and speeches, we were there to celebrate the learning for ourselves and our students. Because if it isn’t for the students, then what the hell is the point? Seriously, I teach because I love it. It’s not for the pay. It’s not for the phone calls I make. It’s not even for the summers off or the snow days. I teach because I love it. I can’t imagine my life without being a teacher. Fine . . . I imagine it every time the Power Ball hits $100 million, but you get the idea.

It took me a solid week to decompress after KTI. We were scheduled from early morning until late at night four full days. It’s a lot to take in, and sitting and staring at a computer all day takes its toll. After I left on Friday, I started a Google Doc that I shared with my administrators and my fabulous tech coaches about some of the apps that we learned about. It started out as a way of sharing the knowledge that I picked up along the way. Something small. Something that they could dive into and out of quickly. I figured it would take me a couple of hours and then I would set it aside in favor of knitting or reading. Turns out my small little project morphed into five pages of pseudo-reviews and suggestions. And you know what? I’m perfectly ok with that. The more people who will use technology with our students, the better.

So, August 4 . . . your day will come. I’ll start reading the stack of books that I dragged home at the end of June. I’ll start planning how I’m going to use infographics as a research assessment this coming year (so excited!). I’ll look at blogging platforms for my students. I’ll start planning my own version of a service learning project. I’ll start establishing connecting my classroom with other classes from KTI. I’ll start putting on the teacher hat full time again. But until then, I’m knitting and reading and washing dishes. Organizing my spare room and cleaning the basement and watching really bad reality television. Celebrating 23(4) years of the best relationship a girl could ask for and seeing a movie with the man I love and looking at dogs to adopt. August 4 can wait.

PS – I’m even being so lazy as to recycle photos I already uploaded. Perfectly a-ok with that!


“Rain In the Summertime” by the Alarm


Running With the Devil

Posted on July 30, 2014

My third pair of running shoes . . . quite possibly my favorite

My third pair of running shoes . . . quite possibly my favorite

Two years ago, I was in a dismal state. Somehow, I’d come in contact with poison ivy or something that caused an extensive rash all over my body. My doctor suggested steroids to help combat the itchiness, but I hated the way I felt on them and resisted using them until I couldn’t take it any longer. Add to that several pounds that shouldn’t have been there, and there you go: a recipe for a vicious cycle of gloom, doom, and feeling pretty damn miserable about yourself. After seeing a few photos that my sister had taken when we were all together in Ohio, I realized that things had gotten out of control and knew I needed to do something for myself. When we got back home, I had several bushels of zucchini, courtesy of my in-laws’ awesome garden, and started cooking better food. But a few days after my return, a friend posted a link on Facebook for a women’s walking and running group, something that could get me ready for a 5K. And I joined.

Not going to lie: the first few weeks were killer. But I did my homework every week, worked my butt off, and completed my first 5K in a decent time. Funny thing happened . . . I lost weight and realized that walking was a great way to clear my mind, too. When the program started up again in March, we had just adopted Lucy about two months earlier, and I was fine with walking her while I did my homework, but this little pup had a ton of energy, so running seemed like the natural progression. Running couldn’t be that hard, right? When I pushed it, my walking time for a mile was right around 15 minutes per mile. But running? I could do that. The first week was delayed due to weather, but I took Lucy out anyway and ran a little. The one minute that I ran before I took the walk break nearly killed me. One. Bloody. Minute. Sixty whole seconds and I was gasping for air. But slowly over time, and with the encouragement of the mentors in my program, the running became easier. It was still a struggle to run for extended periods of time, but I was doing it.

Over the next few months, I started adding more running gear: a new pair of shoes, a fancy GPS enabled watch, some compression tights, cool weather pullovers, headbands that stay put. And when winter rolled around, I needed a whole new wardrobe because I was determined that I wasn’t going to let a little bit of cold prevent me from running. Little did I know that we’d have sustained wind chills of sub-zero weather or that you really do warm up after the first mile to an almost acceptable level or that it is possible to run when frost is forming on your cheeks. Along the way, I developed new friendships and decided to challenge myself with a few long distance races. Two years ago, I would have laughed my ass off at the mere mention of a half marathon . . . but now, I look at the finishers’ medals that are offered and the course to see if it interests me.

So why do I run? Because:

  • it clears my mind. It’s kind of hard to focus on the trivial bullshit when you are focusing on cadence and breathing and looking at the road ahead.
  • runners are a cheerful bunch. They offer a happy wave or say, “Good morning!” They laugh at your silly jokes and get it when you start bitching on that next hill.
  • Lucy still needs the workout. Fine . . . my lovely little dog doesn’t really enjoy running in the warm weather, but come fall and winter time, she’s a huge reason I run.
  • it’s cheaper than therapy. Running doesn’t cost much: just a good pair of running shoes (and go to a running store; trust me, your body will thank you when you do). And remember the mind clearing portion? Sometimes, I rehash what happened throughout the day and figure out why or how it all went down.
  • it challenges me. The first mile kicks my butt every single time. I’ve only ever had one first mile that didn’t (and then it was a “runner’s high” on my first half marathon), and I’m ok with that. Because the rest of the miles get better and better each time.
  • it helps you maintain or lose weight. I don’t really watch what I eat these days (fine, I try to make healthy choices) because a daily run for me will wear off about 300 calories. If I want to lose weight, then I need to journal what I’m eating . . . it works for me.
  • it strengthens my muscles. I like the way my clothes fit now. Has it given me washboard abs? Hell, no. But my booty looks a lot better now than it did when I was 30. And my calves look really great in the summer.
  • it motivates me. There are several groups of people who run. Many of them are much, much faster than I am, but I use that to motivate me to run faster. They are my rabbits, and as long as I can see them, I try to keep their pace.
  • hills are everywhere. There is a hill down the street from me that I loathe with every fiber in my being. It’s not particularly long or steep, but I loathe this hill because it falls near the end of my daily runs. My body really would rather walk up it. Luckily for me, one of my mentors lives on that hill, and I refuse to walk up it for fear that she might think I’m slacking. It’s the mind games that get me through. And hills are everywhere even when they aren’t really hills.
  • it is competitive in the best way possible. Your biggest competition? Unless you’re a vampire or have some weird phobia about mirrors, you’re looking at it every time you catch your reflection. Fun fact: I’m my biggest competition. Sure, there are people who are much, much faster than I am, but I’m not competing against them. I compete against my last record. I’ll do a happy dance when I break my 5K record (and I beat myself up a bit whenever I realize I missed it by a few seconds).
  • I’m stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. Running has taught me that I can do it. It’s a process of putting one foot in front of the other. Make a plan and stick with it.

The walk/run group that I joined two years ago is beginning its fall season in a few short weeks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the new group of ladies who come out. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces after they complete the first evening of interval training. How they set a goal for themselves. How they look at a hill in a new way. How they feel after a big jump in their intervals. And how they tackle the final portion of a race. Running has truly changed my life for the better. I run because I do. I run for me. Period.

“Running With the Devil” by Van Halen

Puppy Love

Posted on July 21, 2014

Our annual trip to Ohio has been occurring for almost as long as we’ve lived on the East Coast. For nearly 20 years, I’ve made the trip home during the same two week time frame in July, give or take a few days. The beauty of Time Hop? You can see what you were doing for the past five years, thanks to social media, and for the past week, it’s been a rehash of the trips home. Pictures from wine-fueled trips down memory lane with my sisters. Posts about a great game of Scatagories. Tweets about something only one other person will “get.” I’m pretty sure that when I look back next year, the days will be filled with images of Lucy and Maggie. You never know how two dogs are going to be until you put them in the same room with one another. Luckily for us, these two pups became fast friends.

When we first got Lucy in January of 2013, we didn’t know what to expect. Our first peek at her was on Pet Finder, but what can you really tell from a photo of a puppy other than her color and the tilt of her head. Even after I talked to her foster mom, her temperament and behavior didn’t become any clearer because, well, she was a puppy. She liked to play. She got along well with the other dogs and puppies in the foster home. She was most likely a beagle/Lab mix. And that’s about it. Luckily for us, Lucy turned out to be a happy-go-lucky puppy with a few minor quirks. She’s very anxious, which makes for some rather interesting situations. She’s very used to sleeping on the couch or chair, so any new situation where she can’t sleep on the furniture makes her rather tense. Couple that with her being a food whore (and really, who can blame her . . . she’s my dog!), and dinner time can be challenging because she’s intent on finding every last crumb to be had.

It's rather challenging to get them to both look at you and sit still.

It’s rather challenging to get them to both look at you and sit still.

Thankfully, Lucy’s anxiety does not extend to other dogs. She’s pretty good with them when she meets them if we are on a walk. And she’s done well with my friend’s two dogs at her house. When she met Maggie, my sister Bridget’s dog, Lucy wasn’t too sure at first. Here was this little bouncing dog that immediately jumped up to her face and tried to lick her constantly. They chased each other non-stop, and Maggie quickly learned that if Lucy got a bit too aggressive that she could weave between the humans’ legs where Lucy couldn’t go. Both of them had antlers to chew on, but the apparently the other one’s antler tasted better. They repeated this dance of play all day long and only took breaks long enough to squeeze into the smallest section available on a chair to nap.

I decided to take them for a walk together the second night we were home. At first, I thought I might have to turn around because Maggie wanted to kiss Lucy as she walked, and Lucy wasn’t having any of that. So the first few houses were rather tense. But eventually, the two of them fell into a comfortable pattern and walked the rest of the way as a team. When we got home, they spent the next half hour or so following each other around before finding someplace to settle down for a few hours.

For me, this was a trial run because I really want to get another dog. Ideally, I’d like to find a small dog like Maggie to bring into our home. Dave says that it will have to wait until we are “cat free,” and I think that day is fast approaching. Shelby swears that Olive will come live with her once she and Lucas have a place that will allow cats. And Gilly – sweet, bitchy-faced, Gilly – is nothing but skin and bones at the ripe old age of 19; granted, she could live for another three or four years, but I don’t think she will. Until that time comes, I’ll keep looking at Pet Finder, searching for the perfect companion to my seat-stealing Lucy.

“Puppy Love” by Paul Anka

Chasing Shadows

Posted on July 9, 2014

I used to be a very monogamous knitter. Key phrase there is used to be. When you first start to knit, it’s a labor of love. You drop stitches. You revel in the grotesque thing appearing on your needles because, well, you’re making it. My first few projects were beyond hideous, but they were mine. And since as a new knitter you concentrate on making one simple movement after another, you don’t have time to get distracted by multiple projects. Knit, purl, knit, purl, repeat. But after a while, it tends to get boring because after you’ve mastered the knit and purl stitches, you start realizing that there is a world of new skills to be learned. So your eye starts to wander a bit. Ooooh, look at that soft merino blend. I think I’ll take you home. Lace? You mean that a hole is something you do on purpose and it can look pretty? Who knew!

The first time you cast on a new project before you finished the previous one, you get this little pang of guilt in your stomach. I really ought to finish that scarf first. Come on . . . you were falling asleep last night working on it. Challenge yourself! But won’t the scarf suffer if I don’t work through this boredom? It deserves to be completed. You can always go back to the scarf if you need a break from the charts. I mean, you need a vanilla pattern to keep up with this complex oneFine . . . I’ll try it just this once. Kinda sounds like the plot from a bad romance novel, right?

Pure cashmere . . . Lucy loved it! Still working on it.

Pure cashmere . . . Lucy loved it! Still working on it.

And so you become a serial project philanderer. You start catting around on your knits. The scarf/shawl/sweater/socks that you caught your eye earlier in the month was now shoved in the bottom of a bag. The only way out? Buy another bag, of course, and shove that guilt so far down that you’re pretty sure it doesn’t matter any more. Occasionally you’ll decide to “own” your number (usually after a plucky new knitter says how ludicrous it is to have more than one project going and you snicker a little inside doing your best Wicked Witch of the West cackle) and vow to get a grip on your WIPs. I did that last December and wrote down all my unfinished projects. Twenty-nine. I have 29 works in progress. That figure might have changed a bit since, as a serial project philanderer, I’ve cast on a few more projects since then. Of those projects, roughly half of them make zero sense to finish. Do I really need this pair of wrist warmers? Well, I guess if I lose the other five pair that I’ve knit, sure. Clearly I was delusional casting on a pair of turquoise and orange color work mittens. That can be the only explanation . . . a break with sanity.

Something I finished. It happens from time to time.

Something I finished. It happens from time to time.

The projects that make me the saddest are the sweaters. Sweaters take a lot of commitment on the part of the knitter because you need to purchase massive quantities of yarn (check), find the correct needles (check), and devote the time and care into the product (let me think about that for a second). Earlier this year, I started knitting on a beautiful maroon lace pull-over that I started four or five years ago. I loved this sweater when I started it. It’s knit from the top down with raglan sleeves and subtle waist shaping. The lace is easy to memorize and extends to the top of bra line plus it follows the sleeves down to the cuffs. Best part? It looks just like a pattern I fell in love with when I was leaning to knit. I finished the body in February and tried it on. Hmmmm. Why was it so loose? Checked my gauge . . . spot on. What the hell was wrong? Wait. Four to five years ago, I was a solid 60 pounds heavier and was knitting sweaters about two to three sizes larger. That would explain the loose fit through the waist and at the bottom of the sweater. But even after having this internal dialogue, I decided to continue knitting a sweater that I thought might – might – work out if I just persisted.

Funny thing happened. Another project caught my eye (fine: three projects caught me eye, but I finished them so back off) and the sweater was shunted away yet again. After I finished a hat for the shop two days ago, I perused my list of WIPs and decided to pull the sweater out of the bag and begin working on the sleeves again. A few rounds later, I shoved my arm into the sleeve . . . and came to grips with reality. This sweater is not destined to be finished any time soon. Turns out the sleeves are looser than the body because they are all lace. There is no way that I’ll be happy with this sweater because it’s too loose. No amount of finesse or blocking or trying to take in the sides will fix the loose arms. So I’m admitting defeat on this one. And probably for all the other sweaters I started a few years back. Because with all the patterns out there, why be faithful to something that isn’t going to fit? Not when something new is likely to come sashaying my way.

“Chasing Shadows” by Louis Prima