Greetings from Zone 2… I mean 1

Hi again, sorry but last week I found that I was a little distracted.  I was running around doing the things I usually do, but I never found the way to my computer.  I was also doing some research for my book but not really writing.  I did at least finish my own Fall scarf with the knit two, purl two technique (yes I am a boring knitter). But now I’m back and I have things to talk about.

Two weekends ago Honey and I put in the Fall garden.

Fall Garden

No really, we put in around 40 plants. Doesn’t look it?

Fine, here’s this week’s progress…


We planted carrots, radishes, kale, three types of lettuce, collards, arugula, and peas. We also put some mums in pots.  Pretty soon all of the fall colors will be fading to browns and bare trees and I need some pops of colors. I am also putting in some more pansies because they seem to be the only thing that lives all year round here (unless the deer decide to have a midnight snack).

Potted Plants

I like the Fall garden because after a certain point it goes on auto-pilot.  Right now I have to water pretty regularly, but as time progresses the weather will cool down and not as much water will be needed.  With the weather this summer I had to water pretty much everyday (by hose).  It is also much more pleasant to water in the Fall as oppose to the summer.  The sun, the bugs, the heat, the sweating from just standing there…I don’t miss it.

Last week I also help put in seeds for the Farm’s Fall Garden. We put in the lettuces and kale, but also lots of root vegetables.  We also moved their greenhouse closer to the house so Viv can keep in a eye on the seedlings.  She was telling me about Zones in permaculture and how it translates to our everyday life.  Zone One is the path you walk all the time, kitchen, driveway, bathroom, bedroom the things that will get the most attention because you see it the most often.  The Greenhouse used be more in Zone 2 or 3, but now it is right next to the house and she’ll see it whenever she comes home.

This got me thinking about the Zones in my house.  Like I mentioned my office is the furthest room from the stairs and off in it’s little world down the hall, which is awesome but can also lead to neglect.  Because unless I have the intention to come in here it can be very easy to not to.  So I have decided to start keeping all of my teas in here, because in addition to it being knitting season it is also tea season.  It may be in Zone 2 of the house, but if you put your only method of caffeination in that room it immediately upgrades to a Zone 1 if not 0. 😉


Two Little Happy Stories

Today I figure most of you will be reading about the horrible things that happened almost a decade and a half ago.  Hopefully you will also read about the acts of heroism and humanity that followed what happened.  I have decided to write not about that day but rather about a couple little times where strangers went out of their way to be nice.

This is a story from my first birthday in our new city.  I pulled it for privacy, but I think it is an appropriate story to share now.

I was under strict instructions to have fun to day and enjoy myself, so I went to Dean & DeLuca to get a naughty coffee.  I was thrilled to see my favorite Barista was there and a to make matters better a divine smell filled the whole place.  I asked what it was and she said it was bacon, you think I would have known but really it smelled even better than bacon.  It wasn’t the fatty greasy bacon smell-it was just the good bacon smell.  At first I got a decadent Iced Mocha with whipped cream and decided to pass on breakfast.  As per usual it was wonderful, but as I sat drinking my dessert of a coffee, the bacon smell bewitched me to go up to the counter and order a breakfast sandwich.  The same Barista greeted me with a warm smile and took my order.  There was a gentlemen behind me in line that heard me tell her that the bacon smell had done it’s job and I wanted to order breakfast, he chimed in that he was trying to get out before he ordered a sandwich too.  I explained I don’t normally get the breakfast items there, but it was my birthday so I thought I would treat myself a little bit.

He exclaimed,”Happy Birthday!” and then looked at the Barista and said he was buying my breakfast.  I thanked him, but told him that wasn’t necessary.  He told me it was my own fault for mentioning it and said that was the end of it (with a smile of course).  I looked at the Barista for help but she just smiled at me too and took his card.  I thanked him again and sat down at my table.  I was seriously almost moved to tears.  The man who bought my breakfast came by before he left and we chatted for a few minutes about birthdays, what we did for a living, and our families.  He  kept himself at an angle that communicated he was not expecting to be asked to sit down.  Before he left I shook his hand thanked him again, he wished me a very happy birthday and left.

The Barista came by with my breakfast and said, “Sorry, I had to let him do it.”  I told her it was sweet and that people are so nice here.  She agreed and told me how just last week she had run out of gas on the way home and had to walk to a gas station.  She only had $5 on here so she couldn’t get the fancy reusable gas container but a man behind her in line heard this and bought it for her and added $20 to her gas tank.  He said the only condition was that she had to keep the container in her car and pass along the goodness when she could.  Can you imagine?

Before I left I asked the Barista her name and told her what I had been telling Honey for months, which was she was my favorite Barista ever (and I even lived with one for a time).  I told her that when I walk in and see her behind the counter it makes me so happy because I know I am going to get an incredible drink and wonderful service and I thanked her for it.   She told me I made her week.

I also called her manager later that day and told her the same thing, hopefully that will help make her month or maybe even help her get a raise-she deserves it!


Another time, during Firefly’s first visit out here; her, Honey, and I went out to dinner.   It was the dinner rush and parking was sparse, so Honey parked a few lots over in the shopping center from the restaurant. There was no sign of rain as we entered the restaurant, but like some Summer Southern storms do, one came out of nowhere… as we were walking out. We didn’t have jackets or umbrellas.  It was pouring, so much that it looked like it would never leave.

Honey, being the gentleman that he was, went off to get the car while Firefly and I waited under the valance.  After a few minutes, with the rain still beating down a car pulled up from the curb and a little old lady got out of the passenger side.  She had an umbrella over her head and the driver went off to find parking.

She looked at us, gave a little smile a slowly walked over to us, and asked”Do you have an umbrella in your car?”  I was confused by the question, but rep lie, “Yes, ironic right?”

She said,” You can use my umbrella to get to your car.”  Such kindness in one of the worse storms I had seen (at that point), seemed so alien back then.  I explained my husband was getting the car, but thanked her for the offer.  A few minutes later Honey’s car pulled up and we scrambled to get inside without getting as soaked as my husband looked at that moment.

He told me the strangest thing had happened.  As he was crossing the street a Jeep stopped next him, rolled down window, and a nice man offered to drive him to his car.  Honey decline he didn’t want to ruin this man’s upholstery because at that moment his car was only a few hundred feet away.    But he was also blown away at the kindness of someone who just wanted to help.

So there are two little stories of people being nice just to be nice.  Giving us, at the time, a feeling of welcome in our strange new land.

Netflix Shawl…Patent Pending

It’s getting to be that time again…it’s knitting season!  Reading Shawl

A few weeks ago I woke up with a new knitting idea in my head, but it was only August. My brain must have been jumping the gun, but when I looked out to our backyard I saw that the maple tree had been dusted with with red leaves overnight.  My brain must now associate early Fall with essentially tying a million little knots in a row.

Despite having made a personalized scarf for almost everyone I know there is always more things to knit.  This year I have started off with a “Reading Shawl” for my mom, which is pretty much just a big scarf. I made one last year for my Mother-in-Law and I hope at some point it will cool down long enough for her to use it. I could have called it a “Netflix Shawl”, but it just doesn’t have the same imagery… But in the case of both ladies, I think it will be used for both reading and the occasional late night flick.

I grew up near the coast and during the winter I was always cold, so I wrapped a large blanket around me as I walked around the house.  It was terribly awkward, but wonderfully warm. Hopefully the Reading Shawl will provide the extra warmth and improved accessibility to such tasks as making that second cup of tea or finding the wayward remote.

I usually start my projects in September, working my way to the holidays and then maybe one last project in the new year.  It’s incredible the difference a few weeks make. Right now I am knitting at angles that keep the finished product off me, because it is way too warm to have wool on my legs.  In the next few weeks my knitted rows per hour (KPH) will increase exponentially because I will be trying to cover myself with my work.  Such was the case with Honey’s Christmas gift last year, after I hit the two foot mark the rest seem to form in only a week.

Knitting is one of those things that provides a lot of relaxation for me, but still scratches that urge to  be consistently productive.

Over the long weekend we went over to the farm and while the guys were making beer I taught, Viv, how to knit.  Well at least I thought I was going to, turns out someone had taught her how to do it when she was kid.  I showed her how to cast on and make the the first stitch and then her brain rebooted all of the things she had been taught.

In my experience, just doing a square patch on the first day takes incredible concentration and usually includes one or two mistakes.  She knitted the whole half ball of yarn I had brought in one sitting! I left the knitting needles that she had learned on because I knew she would be putting them to good use. I was right, now she is totally addicted-apparently she has been staying up late the last few nights knitting. It is only a matter of time before all of the goats have a winter scarf and the dogs festive sweaters.

I told her if this keeps up we are going to have to a Knit-ervention!  Haha (slow clap).  Yeah, I watched How I Met Your Mother last week.  Sorry.

But getting her interested in it really inspired me. I think I have to up my game a little, learn some new patterns, maybe make some new items, use all of the knitting books Honey got me for Christmas.  But first I have to finish the project I already started.  I hear knitters are  for having many projects going at once and hoarding yarn for potential projects.  I am trying my best to fight that urge, but there’s so many pretty colors!

I Need to Wear a Bra When I Meditate & Other Uncomfortable Conclusions

Warning: This is my experience with mediation, individual results may very.

Towards the beginning of the year I decided to take up meditation.  A few artists that I admire do it, it has been linked to making the body and mind more healthy, and couldn’t we all use a little quiet time? Now Pinterest and other such websites have told me that all I have to sit down and concentrate on something to be meditating but I wanted to dive a little deeper into it and make sure I was doing it right.  I used a Christmas gift card to get The Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau Roshi. It has fabulous reviews and the forward is written by one of my favorite writers Huston Smith.  Ironically the forward was my least favorite part of it.  The forward was good, but very deep- it was like a thick piece of food that my mind had to chew on for a while, almost every sentence having to be worked over in my mind before I could go to the next thing.  It was just a lot to take in at first, but that’s what I wanted right?  So I read on and eventually got to the practice of meditating and how to sit what to do, etc.

Sunlight through the smokey trees

The interesting part is I still don’t now if I’m doing it right.  I count to ten while I breath, starting with inhaling on one, exhaling on two, so on so forth.  Then you move onto other types of counting. I usually would start right after I woke up and fed the cats, because any pet owner knows there is no peace when kitty is hungry. I only meditated for five minute a day the first week.  It was a new position for my body; my feet would fall asleep and I was always over correcting my posture.  Now in the book it says to wear loose, comfortable clothing.  Well most women will tell you bras are rarely loose or comfortable, so I would go sans bra.  By day three I realized my “ladies” were pulling me to floor and my back was really starting to hurt from just trying to keep those babies off the carpet.  So I found one of my more worn out, comfortable bras (which I affectionate refer to as a “house bra”) and suddenly my posture was not so painful.  I don’t know if I am breaking the rules by doing this, but I don’t care it works for me and gives me one less thing to be distracted by.

So in the book it mentions that certain thoughts will come into your mind that make situations and relationships very clear.  He recommends having a pad and pen nearby.  I’ve have yet to remember a pad and paper, but from day one I had some interesting revelations.  As I began counting (probably only up to 4) a thought came in my mind:

Wouldn’t it be so cool to talk to my Dad about this?  He’s meditated before…though not very regularly.  But I’m sure he would be happy I was trying it.  Wait, I lost count…I have to start at one again…inhale one, exhale two.  You know, he never really stuck with any hobbies.  Shit…inhale one, exhale two…

I think I got up to six that time. Maybe that’s why I have never taken to hobbies.  Would this really be described as a hobby? Probably not. Why should I care if he’s happy I’m doing this?

And the thoughts kept on creeping in and I would have to start over again.  As you can imagine five minutes became very long and very short all at the same time.   I did not feel very peaceful or Zen…and I felt a sudden desire to take a kick boxing class.  But, just like that a very complex relationship that had some walls were knocked down for me to see.

I went back the next day, tried again. This time when a thought came in my mind I tried to gently push it away.  It took me two weeks to do that gracefully. To this day I still don’t know if I am doing it correctly.

Early on thoughts of what I could be doing with the five, ten, fifteen minutes that I had eventually worked up to were the constant agitators.  All the little morning things that needed to be done to start a day right,  should be getting done with this new found time.  But I noticed that I slept better on the days I meditated and my anxiety was a little bit more manageable.  I only had to check that I locked the door once, instead of many times.  For a few months I meditated about five times a week, sometimes more than once a day.  It was only twenty minutes of my day-I just watched one less show or multi-tasked a little better later.

Eventually when those thoughts of all of the things I could be doing with the time crept in, I was able to tell my mind: No, this is your time.  You have the rest of the day to think about those things, or remember to make a call, or whatever else I thought needed to be analyzed at that moment.  Right then I was just going to breath and focus.

It’s kind of amazing how my my brain won’t let me just count to ten slowly without throwing in a whole bunch of thoughts that usually have nothing to do with anything.  They just pop up and say Boo!  And it’s not that you think of nothing when you meditate, you just ….I can’t explain it, but it’s not nothing.

Sometimes it has led me to some pretty hard stuff, realizations about my life and how my brain works.  In early summer I ended up taking a break for a while.  We had my Mother-In-Law in town for a few weeks and I couldn’t block out the noise I felt when she was here.  So I didn’t meditate…which I think my brain had gotten accustomed to and my reactions and feelings manifested in strange new ways.  But everyone made it though in tact and birthday cards were still exchanged this year, so let’s call it a win.

Eventually I made my way back to the mat.  Still wrestling with the thoughts that want to lead me away from what I’m doing.  If anything it is at least a daily moment to claim as my own.  I think many of us allocate our time to others so easily by necessity or obligation, but we don’t usually have the same approach for ourselves.  Not to say that we need to be more selfish (there’s enough of that going around), but I think we need to give ourselves at least a five minute break from everything else once in a while.  We don’t seem to be big on breaks in modern society.  If we have one were usually checking our personal email or playing with our phones (I’m still totally guilty of this by the way).  But maybe things would be a little more clear, a little easier if we felt obligated to treat ourselves how we treat the ones we care for.

Namaste Y’all.

People Seem to Smile More When I Wear Red Shoes

Today I decided to wear my red heels, I think it has been at least ten months since I wore them outside the soft ground of my bedroom.  Back ten months ago I wore them out to do errands.  It was a particularly dull, gray day-just the latest in the line of gray days.  There wasn’t a chance rain, it was just going to be dull, so I decided that instead of my usual boots or sneakers that I was going wear my bright red heels.  They were festive, Christmas was coming and most importantly they went with my outfit.

Now I’ll admit I intentionally used a shopping cart instead of my usual basket to keep me upright and not make a scene. They’re only two-inch heels but when your usual shoe choice is between flip-flops or sneakers, you get out of practice quickly with these things.

I carefully clacked around the store picking up the items on the list in my brain.  The sound of high heels on concrete always takes me back to when I had Day Care after school.  I could identify my mom’s stride up to a 100′ feet away down the hall when she came to get me.  They were heavy, determined steps; probably tired from the nine hours of getting up and down in those horrible early nineties heels.  I always feel like a fake grown up when I’m in heels, it could be because of all of the wobbling.

I shuffled around the store and it just seemed like people were nicer (in a store that is regularly quite cutthroat) and then people met my eye and smiled.  Once I unloaded my groceries into the car and I began the walk back to return the cart, a woman called out to me and said, “Here, Hon let me take that for you, I’m just heading in.”  I thanked her and as I turned to leave she said, “Look at you in those red shoes, you are just too cute.” I laughed and thanked her again and then said something about adding a little flair to errands.

And then I went home and I thought about what had just happened. It seemed like people had been nicer to me, smiled a little bit more in amusement, and engaged with me just because I wore red shoes.  How cool!   Footwear as a conversation starter, the possibilities were endless!

But, was it really the shoes?

Probably not.  I’m mean they’re cute, but they’re THAT cute. I think it was me, wearing the red shoes.  I’m sure I was more present because I was so focused on not falling flat on my face and making an ass of myself.  I probably made more eye contact to read where people were going, and I found myself smiling and then they smiled back.  It could be that I was smiling more because I was doing something a little different, something that was me.  I tend to hide me a lot these days from most people.  My husband and a few close friends still see me on a regular basis, and then new friends get little peeks now and again.

I’ve noticed since I moved here that I am not around as many people that outwardly express themselves (clothes, hair, tattoos, etc.), and that I don’t always feel comfortable doing it myself.  Which is pretty lame of me.  Maybe it was because I spent too much time with family when we first got here. They are pretty conservative (my cousin once apologize to me for a quarter inch of cleavage in the shirt she was wearing around the house, when it was just the two of us).  I say that the early exposure to the family (and only the family) might have shaped my willingness of expression because there are people here that have fun colors of hair, different stylized clothing, visible tattoos, and even the real rebels: the ones that wear red shoes. =P

People express themselves here and I need to get used to doing it again too.  I think (in part) I wore red shoes again today because I feel like I can’t express myself with words right now and I needed to let something out.

Lately a few personal situations in my family have come up that have challenged my default setting of politeness and only child compliancy.  I actually got a a chance to vocalize some of the feelings I had about a situation to one of the people involved, but I still held back a lot.  It’s not their fault I’ve spent most of my life biting my tongue with them, so I shouldn’t unload the lifetime worth of gripes into one conversation. But then something new happened, which made it pretty much impossible for me (maybe not for another person) to keep that dialogue open.  So pretty much I am having to take the high road and precede like everything is as it was, which is kind of the default setting in my family (I’m sure I’m not alone in this particular default with families).

I think I need to work on my communication skills, with everyone.  This blog has pretty much been abandoned for the last few years in part because of my shyness and discomfort with oversharing.  But I think it is helpful for working out thoughts in my head, keeping a timeline on what happens in my life, and it’s a way to share.  People seem to like me more when I don’t hide the goofiness that is me.

So… here’s hoping that I’ll pull out the red shoes again before Christmas.