Stitch Me a Sampler

I’ve been thinking a lot about home lately and what it means to me.  When Hubby told me his job was over and he was worried about the mortgage, I chirped “no problem, if we have to sell the house we will!”  (I bet you didn’t know that in addition to the unlimited sarcasm, I have an annoying habit of being VERY perky to cheer everyone up.  Can’t do it for myself, but boy howdy can I irritate a room with my upbeat-ness.)  After all, I thought, it’s just different walls so no big deal, right?

Or is it?  I’ve often said I love my house but I wish I could move it to a different place.  What is “place?”  Is it the physical location of your actual dwelling, or is it defined by the view you behold when you look out your window?  What about reaching said home?  Do you need to travel by highways or rutted roads?  Are there conveniences nearby, or do you need to schedule a 45-minute trip just to get a quart of milk?  Is your address easily found for deliveries of packages and mail, or is a Sherpa needed for a monthly provision drop-off?

I live in a small town surrounded by a larger town in the middle of a technically suburban area, but not overrun with housing developments.  I can easily walk to two separate towns with post offices, convenience stores, butchers, drugstores, bakeries, pizza parlors, libraries, and transportation into The Big City and surrounding environs.  While I despise the traffic issues of the nearby highway, I am pretty much in a quiet area.  A horn honking or a siren wailing is still something that makes us stop and look out the window.  When I lived in a city, that was just like your white noise machine playing in the background.

Granted, I live on a county road that sees rush hour in the morning and evening, but I have a huge backyard that attracts lots of wildlife (not the partying kind, although really how do I know what the squirrels and chipmunks are up to at 2 a.m.?) and has big trees and views of amazing sunsets.  There are no rude or noisy neighbors, it’s mostly just families that might have a loud party on a Saturday in the summer and who really cares about that?  I’m grateful I don’t have a neighbor who fancies himself a mechanic, feeling the need to rev every engine he works on super loud just to see how loud it can get and ignoring the belching exhaust out of the tailpipe (and yes, I used to have such a neighbor when I lived in the city parts; he was a prince, I tell you).

And while all these things add up to a pretty calm and serene existence instead of the jangling irritating climate I used to have, I’ve realized these are just the perks.  The real part of home is the feeling it evokes.

There are currently four adults living in this house, two of which I gave birth to.  We each have our little zones that we drift to when we come home, and one of us will always put the kettle on for tea.  The reassuring sound of the gas stove lighting and the cups clinking and the anticipation of the warmth of the tea (even if it’s July and a bazillion degrees, tradition and routine is important) and the comfort of familiar surroundings nurtures us.  We may read or play games on our devices or zone out with television, but we’re never truly disconnected from each other and we share those tidbits we find amusing or thought-provoking.  We also need space from each other and that’s good, too, because we can go into another room away from it all and not feel ostracized or insulted.  It’s called being human.  Would we have this shared connection if we were in a small, two-bedroom apartment with almost no privacy?

I hope I never have to find out, but if I do I am sure to have a kettle on at all times while we work to figure things out.  And that’s probably the essence of home for me.

Bring it.

Bring it.

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Guys and gals, I have been most thoroughly enjoying October!  There has been apple picking and apple baking and applesauce making, soups and breads and plans for further delights.

Leaves and crisp air, intensely blue skies.

Distant sounds of marching band practice and football whistles.

Hand knitted socks on frosty feet, snuggled into slippers as more are knit.

Knitting of Christmas gifts while making best friends with Netflix.

Drawing at my desk with the intense sunshine pouring in, and reading in my chair when the dusk is creeping in and I light some candles.

In other words….



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Inspiration? Or Perspiration?

I may not be the most stable person sometimes.  An idea catches me and I’m suddenly aflutter with ALL. THE. THINGS.  If it’s a decorating bug, I scour websites, pin to my boards, bookmark ideas, research good prices and coupon codes for free shipping; in the meantime I start rearranging furniture, packing up dustcatchers, adding different decorative items, cleaning off windowsills…and then I stop.  Maybe it’s the fact the windows look a bit dingy and I should give them a good battle with Windex, or the very tops of the curtain valances have some interesting dustball formations, but just as suddenly I lose interest.  I close out all the bookmarked pages and tell myself I was silly to get all bent out of shape over this idea, what I have is just fine.

Or the idea for writing a story invades all my waking moments and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m going to have characters behave.  I write for days and I get impressed with myself until the first morning I make my tea and bring it over to my laptop and realize that I’d rather play on sporcle than write.  In fact, I’d rather clean dustball formations than write, and you can imagine how low writing has sunk on my meter of interest.

I’ve always wanted to illustrate, and enjoyed a moderate success at craft fairs selling my humorous calligraphy quotes with illustrations.  But instead of becoming bored with it (never!) I would get a horrible case of the humbles and decide that what I was producing was absolute crap and what kind of people bought my stuff anyway?  Were they crazy?  I practically stole their money!  Anybody could do what I do, and probably do it much better.  Look at Mary Engelbreit!  (Now, that’s hubris.  Me and Mary Engelbreit in the same breath.  Yeah, no.)   Or Susan Winget!  Or my latest obsession, Susan Branch.  (Go ahead and click on that link.  You will be gone for days if you’re anything like me.)

Susan Branch is a woman/illustrator/human too good to be true.  She is a watercolor artist who lives on Martha’s Vineyard and has a marvelous old home with a picket fence garden and the most positive, upbeat, and optimistic attitude I’ve ever seen.  I felt the itch and I knew I was doomed: I bought new pencils, markers, sketch books, erasers, and began scouring my books for ideas.  (I always get nervous: at what point do you deviate from “inspired by” to outright and blatant “plagiarism?”)  My dream is to have stickers and scrapbook items, as well as mugs, kitchen linens, and fabrics with my artwork, as well as writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Good heavens, I just wrote down my dream.  Now what?  Now I’m accountable!  Now I have to work at it or forever be known as a slacker!  (Well, I think I already own that title.)  Now there are actual people (or, to be completely honest, virtual internet presences) who have witnessed my spoken dream and can forever more say things to me like, “so, how’s that dream of yours going?  Have you done any WORK towards it?” and when I have no awesome success to show, I will be a failure.

Isn’t that what we’re all afraid of?  We put it out there, but if we don’t follow through then we will be judged and found wanting and nobody loves a loser.  I don’t want the Maytag dishwasher to call me a lazy toaster, even though I do have the lazy gene.  I can’t even show you evidence because I don’t think any of the printer/copier/scanner machines we’ve bought in our lifetime have ever been able to scan an image into the computer successfully.  I suppose I could take photos…

Oh, look, there’s some dustbunnies calling my name….



You speak truth, Grumpy

You speak truth, Grumpy


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What’s Next?

Do things happen for a reason, or is life a series of random events that need reactions based on your personal make-up? (I am not talking Maybelline, here.)

I seriously thought about going back to school to get my principal’s certificate, because I thought I could make a good assistant principal. I researched and read a lot and started to file my on-line application. Imagine my surprise when I was blocked from registering because I had been “inactive for too long.” What does that even mean? Page refreshing did no good; time for a note to the webmaster.

Three days later, I sent the same note to the webmaster.

Two days later I called the Office of Graduate-Let’s-Take-All-Your-Money-For-Further-“Education” to ask what was up. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that I got an answering machine and no answering call! I resolved to show up in person the Tuesday after Labor Day and give them what-for. Maybe even what-five.

In the same time frame, we were narrowing down our search to adopt a puppy. We sent out a few inquiries and every single one came back as “already adopted, but we’ll add you to our list for future spam. We found one the next town over which both Daughters claimed felt just right and an email was sent and (ready for a shock?) never answered! Plans to build our fence to keep said new puppy contained were finalized and the materials were to be purchased Friday of Labor Day weekend.

This is where we go with the philosophical question, do things happen for a reason? Because we’re here on September 25 with no new school, no new fence, and no new puppy because my darling Hubby lost his job. When? The Friday of Labor Day weekend.

Was some unseen force holding us back from all these life-altering and expensive moves because it knew what was in the works? Is this a message that I shouldn’t be a dog-owning assistant principal with a fence? Or is it just a melange of unfortunate timing and bad luck?

Besides that, all my nails are breaking down to the quick. What does that even mean?

Because I just can't even.

Because I just can’t even.

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The Day

There is a blog post sitting inside of me, aching to get out.  It wants to be a detailed acknowledgement of the many wonderful things that happen in my day, from the way the morning sunlight transforms a room into rich colors and textures, to the heavenly aroma of toasting rye bread, to the satisfying hum of a washing machine effortlessly cleaning my clothes….

But this is not that day.

Why does my laptop decide that everybody else in the house gets internet except me?  Not cool, dude.  What’s up with shutting it down and starting it up just to get internet?  And what’s really up with refusing to shut down after five minutes of my lonely home screen, forcing me to use the power button in a death-jab?

Why would a pest service company that I called on Friday promise to send somebody out on Saturday which they did but it turned out to be a salesman?  He looked and confirmed that, yes indeed, we do have yellowjackets buzzing around our front door, he’ll send somebody out on Monday.  What the elf?  What did that solve?  Oh, you want me to purchase your comprehensive maintenance plan, also known as the Pay-Us-Up-Front-And-We-Might-Do-Unneccesary-Work-Because-How-Will-You-Ever-Know plan which is five times as much as just treating the problem I have now?  Yeah, think again.  And it’s 4:15 and nobody has shown up to rub out the wasps.

Why does butter taste so good when it’s warm and so weird when it’s cold?

Why can’t all the popcorn kernels pop?  What’s up with the recalcitrant ones at the bottom of the bowl?

Why don’t knitting patterns tell the truth with yardage needed?  Would you like to know how many projects I’ve ended just a few rows short, and that’s not a euphemism like being a few crayons short of a full box?  No?  Well, fine.

Why is everything under the sun premiering tonight?  How can I watch Sleepy Hollow AND Big Bang AND Monday Night Football AND Food Network that I missed last night because of celebrating Younger Daughter’s birthday?

I think that’s enough whining, don’t you agree?






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Friday Fun Day

In no particular order:

  • Woke up chilly.  I love that feeling!  Gets my blood pumping and an eager outlook to my morning.
  • Scored an impressive victory in a game I’m playing on the iPad.
  • Took a walk to the local library’s Book Sale and got five (FIVE) books for seven (SEVEN!) dollars.
  • Almost finished another Christmas gift, it will be off the needles today and then I start something new.  Yay, stash-diving and pattern-matching!
  • I will be the only one home for dinner tonight.  I get to make whatever I want and I control the TV!
  • There will be wine consumed, too.
  • Messing around with illustrations and kind of liking how they look.  Maybe I’ll share someday.

In the meantime ~

It's almost hockey time!  Yay!

It’s almost hockey time! Yay!

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It’s My Time

Oh, yes, it is.

This weather we’re experiencing now in New Jersey is DA BOMB.  It is crystal clear blue skies, big white fluffy clouds, clean-smelling air, and temperatures that quicken the blood and put roses in your cheeks.  Who could NOT love this weather?  Seriously, I do not understand sun-worshippers in the slightest.

I don’t get putting on a bathing suit, first of all.  It is a latex material (read: rubber bands) that doesn’t glide onto your body like normal clothes: it has to be pulled and tugged and jerked and readjusted a hundred times just to cover all the bits it’s supposed to cover.  By then, you’re already dripping wet with sweat from the exertion of it all, but now there’s the schlepping of all the things needed at the beach:

  • Cover up to cover the bathing suit that just cost you 35 minutes of your life to put on;
  • Sandals or flip-flops to negotiate over the long trek of hot sand, and really, how effective are those things at either walking or keeping your feet from the blazing temperatures of Hot.Sand;
  • Lotion to either keep you looking a normal shade of skin or an oil that will leave you looking like a well-basted Thanksgiving turkey;
  • Sunglasses which only marginally cut down on the squinting required;
  • Towels of every shape and size, to encompass the sitting, the wrapping of wet hair, the drying of wet bodies, the one to keep dry to brush off sandy feet before getting in the car and invariably gets wet anyway;
  • Snacks and/or lunch: must include sandwiches because it’s tradition but shouldn’t be because no matter how well you wrap them they’re going to get sand in them (and why shouldn’t they since sand is in their name), fruit which nobody will want because it’s drippy and juicy and messy and where do I put the pit or the core?  (Of course, these problems are solved by bringing frozen grapes, but let’s face it, you’re the only one who’s going to eat them.)  The drippy and messy argument kind of gets forgotten when there’s ice cream available, isn’t that funny;
  • Money to purchase said ice-cream;
  • Something to DO; how can anyone just sit there and do nothing and sweat while doing it?  So how a bout a magazine, which is rendered useless because of the glare from the sun; playing cards which will get sand and water on them; knitting, which adds some interesting texture to the yarn when a piece of seaweed accidentally ends up entwined in the mix; a book which is less glare-y than a magazine but still ends up damp, sandy, and induces naps;
  • Beach toys, like buckets and shovels and blow-up balls, flotation devices, those skimming things that look like baby surfboards, and for the really adventurous, a kite;
  • Spare bucket or bag to put the fifty-seven seashells you’re bound to bring home.

What do I do at this time of year, and what equipment do I need?

  • My legs to walk among the fall flowers and leaves;
  • My camera (or phone) to records a particularly stunning example of such;
  • Comfortable clothes;
  • That’s pretty much it.

Hands down, this is my time of year.  Here it is, Monday, and I’ve already done two loads of laundry and put dinner in the crockpot (pork shoulder with cranberry chutney, if you’re interested) and haven’t broken a sweat.  I’m not even breathing hard.

Yeah, this is TOTALLY my time.  Enjoy!


Woo Hoo!

Woo Hoo!


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