On anniversaries

This was our anniversary weekend.  The second of the year.  Before we could legally marry, we celebrated the day we started dating.  Not the day we met, but that fateful day when a lean blond cowboy asked if he could kiss me in a dance hall and I said yes.  We've been going strong ever since.  And, we celebrate the day that marriage equality became law and we received an "informal" marriage that was legal in most states but required a waiting period.  After waiting something like 4 hours for a license, we weren't leaving unwed.  And, then there's our formal anniversary on July 4.  (If your spouse complains about having to remember your anniversary, tell them they could have three to remember.)  

 We didn't do much.  We worked in the yard on Saturday morning and then did a trip to goodwill for some shopping.  Rob bought a beautiful lamp.  He wasn't sure when he was looking at it, but it was cheap and I said give it a try.  If it didn't work, we could re-donate it.  Then, we had a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  The afternoon was very quiet and for dinner, we had takeout from the restaurant we ate at after both of our weddings.  Yesterday was much the same.  Some yard work, a little shopping, lunch out at a new place, and then home for the afternoon.  It's so hot here that we don't even try to stay out in it after lunch.  I baked a cake and Rob had a nap and we finished the weekend with breakfast for supper.  

It was another good anniversary.  

Not so many new flowers this week.  The heat is knocking down the spring bloomers and the summer flowers haven't gotten a good start yet.  There are hints of the blue and red that will happen as it heats up out there.  Dot, you were very right about my garden being a family reminder.  I've received many beautiful plants from my parents and others from friends and neighbors, sometimes just picking up something that got kicked out of the ground or broken off and dropped on the sidewalk.  But, it all started with a gift from my parents and my Aunt Jane.  When I moved into the house, my parents helped my Aunt dig up and divide her front flowerbed.  They kept all the overgrowth and brought at least part of it to me.  Some I've killed, like the beautiful flowering almond, but most of it is still out there, making flowers and creating a beautiful view.  I think everyone involved can be proud of that.  

Here's an interesting plant.  I can't remember the name, but Syd gave me this plant many years ago as a man-mom day gift.  The leaves are purple and red on the top, but on the underside, they're a beautiful pale green.  I almost killed this last year, but it has bounced back and is doing very well.  

This crape myrtle came from neighbors across the street.  They were moving into an apartment and didn't have space for their plants.  This was in a pot and they gave it to me.  It's having a really good year.  

I think this is all the bloom I'm going to get off the oak leaf hydrangea this year.  It didn't like that late freeze and seems to be holding back flowers because of it.  

A little cake.  I have a terrible sweet tooth and am loving my 6" cake pans.  This is a lemon cake with a lemon cream cheese frosting.  Very refreshing.  I can get 6 very satisfying slices out of a small cake, which means it's gone in three days and we're not stuck eating cake for days and days and days.  I used a box cake mix and divided the batter between three pans, with one pan more filled than the others.  The first two are frosted below.  The third pan made a cake about twice as thick as the other two and it's in the freezer.  In a couple weeks, I'll take it out, cut it in half horizontally and frost it and we'll have another lemon cake.  

Everybody have a wonderful week!  My new bosses and I are starting to get to know one another and our interactions are becoming more relaxed.  A couple times last week, I was able to answer with "already done that".  I think they're getting a feel for how on the ball I am and I'm getting a feel for what they want to see and how they want me to think about things.  Overall, it's working out well and is a win for all involved.  

Be safe and hug somebody important to you.  Lane


To every thing, there is a season

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven.

Whew, doggies!  It's hot out there.  We're having unseasonably warm weather.  It shouldn't be this hot until mid-July.  I'm only working in the yard really early in the morning.   I pull a few weeds and cut back some dead growth and pick the spent blossoms, but mostly I water.  The hot wind is drying out the flower pots almost faster than I can water them.  But, the flowers are still lovely.  Saturday morning, a cool breeze blew through and I was already bug sprayed up, so I just sat out there and enjoyed being outside, not thinking anything in particular, and watching the birds and squirrels.  It was very, very nice and only lasted a few precious summertime comfortable minutes.  There will, of course, be flower pictures later.

I had a couple days off last week or I was going to lose the paid time off, so I had time to work on several projects.  I decided it was time for another appliqué flower.  We left off on the Chinese Lantern block.  I have one of these that I grow in the greenhouse and it makes a really nice orange and yellow flower with a second set of dark petals in the center.  This was a nice little bit of hand work and I knocked it out on Saturday and Sunday.  I added all the embroidery to give it some detail.  It was pretty flat without it.  

 Chapter 2:  It's not me, it's the pattern

Y'all, I swear.  I've done it twice and both times, it was messed up.  It was time to start looking at other patterns.  When I put it on, I saw the flaw in the pattern photo and wondered how I'd missed it before.  It looks pretty nice, right?  The thing I kept focusing on was the t-shirt they stuck in the collar so you can't see the wrong side rows.  

Look again at the shoulders.  Nobody's shoulders slope at that steep angle.  104 rows of the sweater are between the waistband and the underarm.  102 rows of the sweater are between the underarm and neckline.  I don't know about you, but half my torso is not above my underarms.  That's why the back stuck up like it did when I tried it on last time.  I thought it was because it was stretched lengthwise and that when I blocked it to the right width, it would be fine.  But, there's no amount of blocking that's going to fix this.  

These pictures were taken after about 5 minutes of me and Rob futzing with it, folding and pulling and squeezing extra fabric to make it fit my body.  They show the beautiful potential of the sweater.  But, in reality, it hangs to my knees, the underarms are in line with my belly button.  If the shoulders weren't bunched up on my shoulders the sleeves would hang well below my fingertips.  You can see in the second picture how the right side hangs down.  It did that all over.  And, the collar is another 50 rows wide at the center, way too big for me.  But, look at the back!  How beautiful.  

Everything that's wrong with this sweater is wrong above the underarm seams.  I definitely want to keep as much of it as I can.  I realized that all I needed to know was the rate of decrease to create the raglan.  I started looking at patterns and all of them had one thing in common.  Starting at the underarm seam, they reduce 8 stitches for every right side row.  This pattern had a complicated decrease that sometimes decreased as little as 2 stitches and averaged 4 per RS row.  Taking the extra fabric out of the shoulders will raise the underarms to where they need to be and will shorten it to just about right.  The one dimension that was right on the sweater was the diameter.  Thank goodness.  That's the dimension that would have made me remake the whole thing.  

Last night, I took it apart down to the underarm seams.  Four large balls of yarn.  And, I put in the first row, decreasing 8 stitches, plus 2 at the front to shape the collar.  The pattern said this would take 2000 yards of yarn.  It took about 1950.  When I finish the sweater, I'm going to make a red scarf and hat to match.  

Chapter 3, walking through the garden

It was a good week for flowers.  Every morning before work, I walk around the garden.  It's a very peaceful way to start any day, but especially a work day.  

This is the TX red star hibiscus.  I took some seeds from this and started some new plants.  I gave most of them away, but the two I kept look good.  This flower is from the parent plant.  Not sure whether the child plants will have the same vibrant flower.  

This is a yellow echinacea and the picture below it is a red.  I saw these at the garden center over the years and wanted to give them a try as a change, especially since echinacea are so easy to grown.  

I put this one in the ground between two pink ones and it never bloomed.  They overshadowed it and I wasn't even sure it survived.  I dug it up and put it in a sunnier place last fall and it looks like it's going to do very well this year.  

Chapter 4, that's all the crabapples there are.

I have two crabapple tress that my Dad gave me about 20 years ago.  The arborist tried for years to get me to cut them down and replace them with pears or regular apples, but I wouldn't.  They only made enough fruit for a full batch of jelly one year and the last couple years, they've struggled with too much shade.  I've let the apples drop in the past, but this year, I climbed up on a ladder and picked all there were.  Not enough to make jelly the way I always had, with Surejell.  But, I found a recipe that worked the old fashioned way, cooking the jelly and juice to just below a "soft ball stage".  It thickened up perfectly and is a very tasty jar of jelly.  And, no matter how few crabapples I get next year, I know I'll be able to squeeze at least a little jelly out of them.  

Everybody have a great week.  I met my newest boss last week.  She scheduled a half hour to interview me about how I liked to be managed.  She's young.  I don't think she's managed many people before.  When she said she wanted to schedule time to get to know me, I was like, cool.  We'll chat about parenting and hobbies.  But, this was interview style and she typed my answers into a document.  It ended up being uncomfortable and I wasn't able to relax and let her get to know me.  Maybe one day, I'll get to give her private feedback about that and suggest that going forward, she just sit and talk without interview style questions and write up her notes later.  I think we both would have gotten more out of it that way.  

Be well.  Do something you don't think you can do.  Smile spontaneously at someone you don't know.  It's such a good feeling when they smile back. 



Just a few garden pics and a work story

 It was that kind of week.  Well, except Syd came for dinner one night and the neighbors dropped by for a chat on Saturday afternoon, and it was nice having company.  And, I spent most of Sunday deep cleaning my kitchen in case it happens again.  I've been a bit lax.

I got the sweater off the needles yesterday.  And, I promptly put it on and I almost cried.  There is so much knitting in the shoulders that it stood up behind my head like one of Queen Elizabeth's big lace collars and it draped diagonally across both sides of my front and all the hem was behind me.  And, I started to chant 'it's not blocked yet, it's not blocked yet...' and I quickly loaded it back on the needles to make the collar.  That's gone surprisingly fast, but I had to look up instructions for two different things that I'd never heard of before.  I'm not sure what's up with the shoulders.  I know they're very narrow, which is why the hem pulled back like that, and I'm hoping that laying it out and stretching it to the right size and blocking it will fix everything.  Or, I'll be laughing all the way to the funny farm.

Three different daylilies bloomed last week. The early yellows and oranges have given way to larger, more showy flowers.  This one is Charlene's patio.  It's one my Mom started...I'm sure there's a term for that, but I don't know it.  Anyway, they put it at the end of my Aunt Charlene's patio, hence the name.  

I don't know the name of this one.  But it has very narrow petals and an odd shape.  Spidery.

This one came from my Mom when I was home a few weeks ago.  It had a scape on it when she dug it up and it bloomed for Rob out front.  

I pollinated one green daylily with another, different one and am waiting to see if I'll get a seed.  Who knows.  That's the fun of trying.  

I also got a rose off one of the long stem bushes.  I don't do well with roses and this one should likely be dug up and tossed, but I've had it almost 20 years and I'm thinking I might cut it way back this winter and let it start over next spring.  

And, this is a mallow that Syd bought and left here.  I was sure it didn't get brought in before the big freeze and was lost, but it put up a shoot and I let it grow and yesterday, it had three of these huge pink flowers.  

And, this is a yellow echinacea.  I forgot it was even out there.  There's a red one, too, but we'll have to see if it blooms.  It didn't bloom last year, and got moved in the fall and we'll see if it blooms this year.  It's off to a slow start, but it's early in the summer yet.  

I work for two managers.  One is my manager that writes my performance evaluations and the other, I work for about 40%.  Both of them have moved to new jobs and I have two new ones.  One is new to the company and will come in knowing next to nothing about our systems.  This all started last Monday and there were no hiccups last week as we transitioned information and decision making from one to the other.  

We've had a project going for about 6 weeks that is just entering final approval from the state and a big decision came up that had to be made and communicated by end of day Friday.  There were multiple options, including pull the project.  But, there was one solution that was really complicated and required a lot of work.  As the week progressed, I could feel us leaning toward that solution.  Rather than let that sneak up on me Friday afternoon, I started preparing for it, writing the documentation I'd need, getting information from different sources.  I made a lot of progress, without committing so much time to it that my other work suffered.  Friday morning, I ask for an update and am told there's a meeting at 2pm to decide.  I'm so glad I got started early.  There are three corporate lawyers, the project manager and his very high level analyst, and three of us from marketing.  And, they argued and argued and rehashed the same set of facts over and over, and then someone committed to do a lot of manual work (not me!) and we were off on the complex solution and my new boss is saying over and over Lane is going to kill me, Lane is probably going to kill us.  And, then it's my turn to talk.  And, I say, 'no problem.  I've got this and this and will get this and need this from you and this from you.  Analyst, they asked this question last time, let's be prepared to answer again.'  And, that was all.  And, for a minute, they all sat there quiet, realizing their decision was about to be a reality.  And, that quiet moment was worth all the time I spent preparing for it.  They call that cool efficiency.  And, I'm starting to get a name for having it.  And, I like it!  

Everybody have a good week!  Be well.  Be kind.



And, we're back

Back from my week off last week.  I woke up on Memorial Day in a very lazy mood, and couldn't find the gumption to write.  A little writer's block maybe.  

Still working on the sweater.  Not going to talk about it much, but I'll share that I took out 100 rows a couple Saturdays ago while Rob took a nap.  He knew something was up when he woke to find three balls of red wool yarn on the floor and me loading the sweater back on the needles.  It was a mess.  I took my usual approach of veering away from the pattern to compensate for mistakes.  Unlike in quilting, it didn't go so well, so I went all the way back to the original mistake and started again.  My downfall was the instructions to 'repeat the last four rows six times'.  To me, that meant the last two pattern rows and their companion wrong side rows.  Four rows.  There was math in the pattern that would have told me this was a mistake (it wouldn't decrease the number of stitches enough to move to the next step).  What the pattern meant was to repeat the last four pattern rows six times.  Anyway, when I really looked at it, the fronts did not match and there were 20 extra stitches at the top of each sleeve and on very close inspection, the raglan was way off.  At some point, I started doing the opposite decreases from what the pattern said to do.  And, I think the fact I was off pattern trying to compensate for the mistakes made me anxious and I wasn't enjoying the process.  I decided I could use what I had learned about 'what not to do' on my next sweater, or I could take out a hundred rows and use what I'd learned on this sweater.  I've put 67 if those hundred rows back in and can share that the sweater looks much nicer and I'm a lot more relaxed while working on it.  And, every few rows, I count my stitches to make sure I have the number I'm supposed to.  I seem to always try the shortcut first, but I'm not too proud to turn around and go back to get on the right path.  

I did do a little quilting.  Not nearly as much as I wanted to.  I'd been putting this off because it required me to be creative.  In the corners of that black quilt, I'm going to put some 6" circles filled with circles.  I'm going to do my background quilting around those.  It took a couple tries, but I got my circles drawn and needle punched the pattern, and I'm using my pounce to chalk mark them on the quilt and it's working great!

Those are going to float and I'm going to do a good bit of background quilting around them.   That's my next bit of creative.  It will have to be dense, but not too dense and it will have to have a lot of round shapes.  

Do you see all the wrinkles in that quilt?  That's from leaving it folded up so long without working on it.  It should have been rolled on a pool noodle.  For the rest of the time I work on it, I'll fight with those wrinkles to keep them from becoming puckers in the quilting.  Don't let this happen to you!

We've had really bad weather lately.  Very heavy rains and strong winds.  It blew our fence down a couple Fridays ago.  The only thing kept it up off the garden was the chair that sat on Linda's back porch that we put on a pad over there.  The fence was pushing the chair out of the way when one of the legs dug into the mud and the fence couldn't go any further down.  The next morning, we stood it back up, and put some 2x4 props to keep it up and that should buy us a little time 

The garden is loving the extra rain, but not the cloudy days so much.  There have been a couple new daylilies.

This is a triple ditch orange daylily.  I know we're not supposed to grow these, but they are still a lovely flower.  They're supposed to change other daylilies around them to orange, but that hasn't been my experience.  

A couple posts ago, I talked about a green daylily.  My dad wanted a green and the only one he could find was the one I showed a couple weeks ago.  Then, he found someone that had this one, but wouldn't sell any of it.  And, my Mom talked him into selling a green plant and they sent me home with a chunk of it.  It hasn't bloomed in a while, but it did a little this year.  It's in a sunnier spot, so here's hoping for next year being a big year.

This one is called Peaches.  It's named after my Mom's dog.  It blooms very close to the ground.  

There are several more that I've lost track of the color on, and am waiting for them to bloom so I can write it down.  

I don't remember what this little blue bloomer is called.  It hasn't done much over the years except spread a little.  This year, it surprised me with blooms I almost didn't see when I was stepping into the garden.  Fortunately, I did see them and took this picture.  I'm hoping I can find a tag on this one to know what it is.  

Happy Pride month!!  Gay pride means something different to everyone.  To me, it takes me back to when I came out.  It was a hard time in my life.  It is for almost every gay person.  It was awkward and uncomfortable, but I have always been glad I did it and didn't continue to live the lie.  The only thing worse than that awkward moment when I told an important person that I was gay is all the awkward moments of pretending not to be.  

Anyway, most of the young gays coming out now have an easier time because people like me came out to family and at work and let people know we weren't all the stereotypes they'd been told we were.  Now there's gays in movies and on TV and in books and at family barbecues and a new person coming out as different (gay, trans, non, whatever) isn't nearly the surprise it used to be.  

Everybody have a great week!  If you know a gay person, celebrate the fact that you were important enough for them to let you be part of their story.  And, remember that it's awkward to come out because the people you're coming out to ARE the important people.