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Archive for April, 2008

Clenching is expensive

Marley at the FarmSo I just got back from yet another visit to my dentist. We’re buds, the dentist and I. I trust him implicitly, despite our rocky history. Do you know the back story? I don’t think I’ve told you.

Well, I did the very scientific search for a dentist by looking in the provider directory at the offices closest to my work and calling the list until I found an office where I could make an appointment fairly quickly. That was this guy. I walked in, he did a whole health history—I mean sitting down with me, asking questions, going through the forms I filled out. I was impressed. And then he says my full name out loud. He says, “That name has a lot of meaning for me.” I had all I could do not to groan out loud. Here we go… “Well,” he says, “my daughter shares your first name.” Ok. That wasn’t bad. “And your last name. My favorite patient ever had your last name. Are you related to a Margaret?”

The wheels start churning in my brain. Margaret? Margaret. Grampy had a sister named Margaret. Margaret lived in DC. Holy crap YES I AM RELATED TO HER. We were both floored. He said he gave her her beautiful smile. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that she was a nasty old bat that we never saw smile, and the bond was formed.

So today I went in for a filling, and came out with impressions done to get a mouth guard. Um?

My last job was very, very stressful. Over the course of my last job, I knew that I had starting clenching my jaw at night. I used to just clench my fists, but my stress level had risen to a whole new level, and so I would not only with the little half moon fingernail imprints in my palms, but with a sore jaw, too. Double the goodness!

Clenching has taken its toll. He mentioned it when I first walked in, that he could see the damage to my teeth. Then, I asked about the space that has formed between my relatively new crown and the next tooth. He did the impressions. I go back in 3 weeks.

The picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.
There’s more of the pink blob of clapotis, but it’s kind of boring to show.
We also got another 30 ticks off the dog. The poor thing doesn’t want us to come near her anymore.

(Btw, I love his staff, too. Both of the nurses and the front desk person that see me are amazingly nice, upbeat, personal, caring, they follow up on promises, and they remember who I am and what’s going on when I go in or when I call. They’re also good with the payment plan, since the doc stopped taking insurance. (I can still get reimbursed, I just have to pay up front.) I might knit them all pretty scarves for Christmas. )

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It’s Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day. I haven’t had Ben and Jerry’s in a good, good long time. I used to go every year, but I haven’t worked near one in a spell. It was good to be back in the ‘hood and have some midday chocolate therapy on a sugar cone.

ClapotisThe Clapotis will not be done for the April 30 deadline. Not by a long shot. But, I’m making some progress. See? The pink blob is bigger! I have not yet ordered more yarn. We won’t celebrate the birthday immediately, so hopefully I can buy some yarn, buy some time and still make it before it’s noticeably late.

The yarn arrived yesterday for Picovoli and the Honeymoon Cami. Must. Not. Succumb.

In very exciting news, I’m going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for the first time this year and I’m sooooo excited. I’m definitely going with the farmer I work for, which should be SO FUN. She’s the type of good energy that makes me feel like a mooch to be in her presence because I KNOW I’m not giving back as much as I’m getting. I’M SUCKING YOUR ESSENCE! A friend from the last gig that I’d be thrilled to hang out with and BF may come along too. BF said he’d come if they had lamb chops, I think trying for inappropriate, but oh boy do they. (He also wants to go see Lynn Rosetto Kasper of Splendid Table speak at the farmers’ market, so we’ll see what wins out.)

In the Great Tick Debacle, 2008, we pulled another 50 or more ticks off of Marley last night. Those little, tiny, pencil-point size ones really suck. Ha. Bad unintentional pun. BF found a bunch down the length of her tail, we both found clusters of them in her paws, and there were still more in her backside hair that we so affectionately call her “Farrahs” because they look like Farrah Fawcett‘s bangs from the olden days. Poor girl. BF did call the vet, who kind of just said that these things happen. We did the right thing with the quick removal, and any sickness would show up with time. Lyme is unlikely since they’re lone star ticks, thank goodness. We’ve already done that once thankyouverymuch.

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It was another busy weekend. I don’t seem to know how to have any other kind.

Saturday I went and help set up at the farmers market, and then socialized for another 3 hours. I was back at my home market after working a different one all winter. I’ve come to love the winter market, the people there, working with BF, and I thought I’d be really sad to leave it. Part of me is, but then part of me is giddy with joy to see the friends from my home market that I have missed all winter. My cheeks hurt from smiling by the time I left. And there was asparagus and strawberries! YUM.

After market we worked about 160 lbs. of compost into the 2 raised beds. It’s probably not enough, but it’s a good start. BF sent the soil samples off to the cooperative extension today, so we’ll see what they say. We broke the hoe (oh, that sounds bad), so BF used the smoothing rakey thing while I used a hand hoe to work it in. Ow. We’re so tickled to have it done though. Next week we’ll get some plants from the market and get them in the ground. I’ve already got rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena, chocolate mint, pineapple sage, tarragon, thyme, and basil ready to go. We have a bay tree and marjoram that have survived in pots over the winter, and I have oregano that comes back every year already peeking up and saying hello. I’m contemplating a bit of a tea garden this year. I have chamomile seeds (and some others that I can’t really remember right now) that I think I’m going to stick in a pot and see what they do.

The raised beds are where the stump was from the tree that fell on the house. See, stump removal is a rather misleading way to describe what they do with the stump. They actually grind it up with the existing dirt to create a woody mulch pile. Mound. Hill. In the middle of the back yard. And then you get to decide what to do with the hill. We made a garden because, honestly, we had no other ideas.

Saturday was rounded out with friends coming over for a few beers. It was a good day.

Sunday we slept in and then set out to do some morel mushroom foraging. BF has been doing his research and chose a location that wasn’t too far away. I can’t tell you where because OH BOY did we score big. We ventured from the path into a wooded area and looked at the trees around us. We didn’t really see the elms or tulip poplars that the morels are supposed to grow around. We were set to give up and get back on the trail when I happened to look down. “Oh, oh, oh look what you just stepped directly over!!” Two beautiful morels poking their heads above the leafy cover that BF had just missed with his booted size 13s. Bliss!

Despite the dreary weather, the setting was gorgeous. There were rolling hills with a wide variety of trees (blooming dogwoods, evergreens, elms, oaks, poplars, and who knows what else.) all bursting into spring. There were wildflowers blooming, and we even saw two owls! There was a horse event taking place, so folks on horseback dotted the hills. This was someplace we wouldn’t have gone if not for the foraging, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find it filled with so much beauty. And, we ended up with about 164 morels. Our record before that was, I think 8. Yes, I typed that correctly, 8.

We spent two, maybe more, hours in that spot finding morel after morel. There were veins of them, leading us in one direction, then another. MarleyQ was as patient as she could be with us, occasionally trying to sneak off, but spending a good portion of the time sitting next to us or lying in the leaves and dirt, panting and finding ways to make her presence known. We noticed the time, decided we had a good haul for our outing and very reluctantly got back on the path because we knew THERE WERE MORE OUT THERE. Click to make these bigger…

Owl Tree flowers Flowering Trees Morel Morels under a tree Morel Haul

We also ended up with something even more unexpected…

Ticks

Marley, in her eternal patience, sat herself in a nest of ticks. Lone star ticks. Nymph stage lone star ticks. We were in the parking lot for a good 45 minutes pulling freckle-sized ticks off of her belly. Soon we realized it was much more than we could possibly tackle in the parking lot. We loaded her in the car, got home, stripped at the front door and threw our clothes and backpacks right into the washer, and threw her in the tub. I scrubbed her, conditioned her, and then we had her on the floor with all the overhead lights on and lamps with the lampshades removed placed strategically around us while we combed, tweezed, plucked, and pulled hundreds of ticks off of her body. Most were on her back end—you know, where the hair is really long and thick. The poor girl fell asleep while we, for two hours, went over every square inch of her body. (Did you know dogs can have freckles? So cute! Don’t try to tweeze them off.) This morning we found a few more, and we expect that will continue for a bit. Gross.

Now our skin is crawling and we’re both completely paranoid about every tickle, itch and pinch that we feel. I know there are more on me. Somewhere. Hiding. Sucking my blood. I know it. But jeez, dinner was really, really good last night. And BF is going back for more on Wednesday.

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Casting on again

I cast on for the clapotis. I know, I know… cheating on Tubey already. But there’s an April 30th deadline! Stop laughing. It’s also 84 degrees in DC today and my main project is a long-sleeved sweater. Let’s talk about my planning skills here. Oh wait, there’s nothing to say because I DON’T HAVE ANY. I have whims. Oh well.

Clapotis

Anywho, this is the Clapotis nub that I have done. This is the progress I have to show for my morning metro ride. Pretty pathetic, hey? It’s in Artyarns Regal Silk, color 112. I have 4 skeins, and I’m afraid it won’t be enough. My friend is big boned and broader than average, and so I may need to do an extra repeat or two. This may be where I should mention that the tag on the yarn specifically says, “This yarn is Hand Painted. No two dye lots are identical. Be sure to purchase enough yarn.” I’m choosing to ignore that right now. (I’m sure I’ll be sorry later.)

Of course, that Knit Picks order should be arriving any day, and I got yarn for those other projects, too… I sense a big case of ADD heading my way.

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I knit a shawl!

A whole shawl! The Heavenly Shawl, to be exact. I used about a skein and a half of the Solitude light worsted hand painted yarn that I got at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. The yarn is a more sticky wool—probably not the typical shawl material, but I love it. (I just won’t add any fringe.) Want to see it?

Heavenly Shawl Heavenly Shawl Hanging

Isn’t it awesome? The colors are like the mountains turning to spring, with the bright green of the new leaves contrasting against the rock, soil, and dark evergreens. I was knitting away at it as we drove up to NY last weekend, and the similarity in the color of the yarn and the color of the landscape kept striking me.

I’ve started poking around on Ravelry, which has kind of jump started my mojo. I knit that shawl in 10 days, bought yarn for and cast on for Tubey, and ordered yarn for the Honeymoon Cami and Picovoli from Knit Picks. I also think I’m going to make a Clapotis for a friend for her birthday using some Artyarns Regal Silk that a friend gave me in color 112. The most amazing thing of all is that this does not sound impossible to me. How can that be?

It has been an intense couple of weeks. A very, very good friend’s son had brain surgery and then developed meningitis as a complication and had to be hospitalized again. He came home yesterday and finally seems on the upswing. I have been checking in with, cooking for, babysitting for, and grocery shopping for her just to try to relieve her burden in any way that I can. My best friend’s grandfather died, too. Her family is my second family, and I felt his loss more keenly than I expected. He meant more to me than any of my blood grandparents ever did (do), and I was left hoping that he knew how much I loved, appreciated, and respected him. I have to believe that he did. I spent last week cooking and baking for the memorial, and we drove up to NY for the weekend and the memorial service. It was a long weekend, but so worth it. It was good to connect with the whole family together and to remember him. They said that, when he finally passed on, they sky was the most brilliant sunset that anyone had ever seen. Mom said she thinks they were opening up, welcoming him in. It makes me smile to think she’s right.

I’m still working on finding balance in my life. As exhausting as the past few weeks have been, it’s also been exhilarating to have the energy to be there for my friends. My job has become busy enough to be interesting, but allows me a lot of down time to get my head together and do some little life maintenance things, like pay bills and go to the gym. I’m also back on the Metro, so goodbye $210/month, but HELLO KNITTING TIME! And reading, eventually.

Oh! I got a sewing machine for my birthday a few months back. Yesterday these arrived:

Sewing Books

Because I need more things causing clutter and more projects that I don’t have time for. But I can’t help it, I’m really, really excited. BRING ON THE FABRIC!!!

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Supai Pictures

Here we go with some Supai pictures. Click on the thumbnails to see them bigger.

Heading into the Canyon The first glimps of Havasu Falls The pools around Havasu Falls Walkin Across Havasu Falls

View from the top of Mooney Falls View of Mooney Falls Hike to the Colorado River Beaver Falls

We Made it to the Colorado River! Hike back from the Colorado River Havasupai Indian Reservation Hiking out of the Canyon

The top row:
Hiking into the Canyon
Our first view of Havasu Falls
The pools at the base of Havasu Falls
J and I walking across the pools

The second row:
The view from the top of Mooney Falls (and my boots)
Mooney Falls
Hiking out to the Colorado River
Beaver Falls

The third row:
The Colorado!
Green and gray contrast, hiking back from the Colorado
Horses on the reservation
Hiking out of the Canyon

I want to do it all again.

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Spring ahead!

It’s definitely spring. It has been since we got back from vacation on March 15. First, the crocuses. Then the daffodils followed. I’m not sure what happened next, but it included hyacinth, violets, dogwoods, cherry blossoms, maples, those pretty white spidery flowered trees that I haven’t figured out, the forsythia… and then the tulips. The grass is turning green. The lilies we planted in a pot last year are starting to poke above the soil, showing their green fans. A few trees are showing a green fuzz of new leaves. Potted herbs and lettuces are showing up at the farmers’ market. It. Is. Spring. It’s beautiful.

I started a new job! I’m back in the nonprofit world; I’m thrilled. This is the last day of my second week. The first week was orientation and training. This week was a lot of web surfing and email. Next week I’m hoping there will be more day-to-day work to keep me busy and that I can start taking more ownership of the projects. The mental break is good. I’ve discovered that I’ve lost a lot of my ability to focus with the last gig. I’m so used to multitasking and juggling that I don’t know how to slow down and really take something in. I think the forced rest is good, and that I’ll be able to approach the new work and new relationships fairly open and refreshed.

This job is, I hope, the start of achieving some balance in my life again. It’s amazing to not check my work email obsessively every night and on weekends. I’ve set parameters with my boss and with myself as to what part of my life my job is allowed to be. Part is the key word there. I’m determined to keep those boundaries and get life on more of an even keel.

BF and I went to visit family in PA over Presidents’ Day weekend. We had a really relaxed, low-key, fun time filled with just good visits. Time to talk and catch up. Time to bask in being happy to be in one another’s presence. It was great.

We also went to AZ March 8-15 to go back to Supai. We spent a few days in Phoenix visiting with family, and then headed to Hilltop. We did the 10 mile hike in on Monday morning, hiked down to the Colorado River and back, about 14 miles round trip, on Tuesday, did some minor waterfall hiking and a lot of relaxing on Wednesday, and then hiked the 10 miles back out on Thursday. We managed probably 40 miles in 4 days. Not too bad! It was amazing. Breathtakingly beautiful. Serene. It’s the type of beauty where I had to stop and remind myself to look around because I’m really here. The canyon walls have a way of making me feel so small and so present and a part of things at the same time. It was exhausting and rejuvenating. I’m so glad we were able to go back. I’ll post a few pictures soon!

Mom was here last weekend. We went to see the cherry blossoms knowing that (but not really computing the ramifications of) it was the first weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Kite Festival was going on, there was a marathon, and there was some other long-distance walk for charity going on. Holy madhouse. It took a good half hour from the time that we exited the train doors until we saw the sunlight at the top of the metro escalator. We walked down, past the Washington Monument, where the kites were bright splashes of color against the white of the monument and the crisp blue of the sky. We walked down to the Tidal Basin and made our way most of the way around with the hundreds of thousands of others. The blossoms were in full bloom, hanging from the branches and dancing in the breeze. The sun was bright and the sky was a clear, pure blue. It was gorgeous, and Mom was tickled. Our visit also included an impromptu dinner party, a trip to a gallery and to the Phillips Collection, a trip to Stitch DC for yarn to make Tubey, new shoes for mom, and, of course, introducing her to everyone at the farmers’ market. It was a really nice visit.

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