Archive / May, 2012

Have A Cowl!

Today … a temporary respite from my musings about weeds and garden challenges. Gardening is one way (technically) to work with my hands, but some of my other passions also involve handwork. In a post from last year, I referred to my family name, suggesting the influence (both as a writer and as a knitter) my forebears may have had on me. There’s no doubt:  I am a knitter.

Last fall, my daughter-in-law (DIL) resigned her patient coordinator position and became an entrepreneur. (Hooray!) She bravely launched a vintage clothing and housewares boutique in our community. (In a down economy, she’s — thankfully — enjoyed a good measure of success.)

Her unusual boutique suddenly offered me a ready outlet for my handwork — I mean, there are only so many gifts family members will endure before they say “enough with the knitting!” Given this opportunity for DIL to sell my creations, I definitely let the knitting needles fly. Pictured here, DIL is wearing a red cowl, doubled around her neck for warmth. I used Lion Brand Homespun yarn to emphasize its cozy texture, rendering a subtle seed stitch design.

The pattern I used was a Lion Brand design. The model (pictured in the free pattern link) wears her cowl long. In Lion Brand’s example, the use of Hometown USA yarn displays the seed stitch with greater clarity. I think both looks are attractive.

My DIL liked this pattern so much, I knitted additional cowls in different colors. A couple she sold at her store; others were gifts.

Though I didn’t use the Lion Brand pattern for all, here are several others I made and she (almost immediately) sold. Fun!

  Of course, it never hurts to have a beautiful young model eager to wear your creations!

Doing Battle . . . And Winning!

My adventures-in-gardening experiences are now on record here, and here. This year, I was amazed at my eagerness to get out and work the garden bed! No, the weeds weren’t gone, not by a long shot, but I have identified a straightforward plan to address this nemesis!

I haven’t yet won, but I’ve taken the right path. The same bed shown in my last post — choked by a mass of grass and weeds  — now looks like this. ——->

We have tomatoes in back, squash and zucchini on the left, peppers (banana and green) just in front of the tomatoes, and three rows of green beans.

The plants look beautiful, but transforming this plot of weeds into a clean, productive bed is what excites me the most … mainly because I didn’t have to continue toiling for days on end to eradicate all the weeds.

A couple years ago, I heard about “lasagna gardening.” This non-traditional method seemed strange. (The Skeptic:  if it worked, wouldn’t everyone use this method?) I was hesitant to adopt an untested technique. Continue Reading →

Weeds Crouching At My Door

The bane of horticultural endeavor was the subject of my previous post. Would anyone dispute weeds are tenacious, sometimes nigh intractable?

Certainly, extricating weeds at their roots is the most highly-effective practice. But take a look at this picture on the left; ask yourself (as I did) how much time might be required to extract each and every remnant of each and every blade of grass and each and every embedded, omnidirectional root.

Knowing the back-breaking effort and number of hours I’d spent in previous summers before eventually reaching the halfway point, I dreaded continuing and longed for an alternative solution. I convinced myself there had to be a better (read:  quicker) method for permanent eradication. An online search failed to provide satisfactory guidance, so I opted for the nearby garden center. Continue Reading →

The Villainy of Weeds

My garden remains — queue the writing metaphor — a work in progress. My last post pictured a part of my 35′ x 7′ raised bed. Full disclosure, here’s a view of the garden I neglected to include. Where veggies once grew in the space, all that green (to the left of the owl) is a persistent tangle of unwelcome, unwanted grasses. (In my garden bed, grass is always considered a weed.)

In the summer of 2010, I had worked painstakingly to eradicate weeds and grasses from the strawberry bed growing to the right. In my initial efforts, I’d grab a handful of green blades and yank from the ground all the offenders I could extract. Occasionally, a ball of dirt with roots came loose, but mostly the green shoots broke away from their underground source. Within days, new shoots eventually raised their green spires heavenward. Continue Reading →

How Does My Garden Grow?

As a preteen, one of my summertime chores was gardening. The neighbors and my parents — bullwhip-wielding Simon Legree and his equally-capable understudy Cruella DeVil — planted at least half an acre of vegetables in the field behind our house. Like unsuspecting migrant farm workers, my brothers and I were drafted into service maintaining the crops.

Grumble. Grumble. Can’t you just hear our exaggerated whines? Weeding, harvesting, watering — we did it all (begrudgingly and mostly while whining).

Though the depiction seemed apt at the time, painting my parents as Legree and DeVil was hardly fair. My brothers and I enjoyed delicious meals from the bountiful harvest; our exalted sense of entitlement should never have been a justification to exempt us from the labor required to produce that food. I guess that’s a pretty good indication of how spoiled we were, huh? Continue Reading →

Knock My Block Off

Arggghhhhh! Looking at my most recent (a relative term) post, I can’t deny it’s been three months since I last posted. My 2012 blogging New Year’s Resolution didn’t exactly take, did it?

Over the years, I’ve heard writers vent their frustrations with writer’s block. I’ve listened dutifully to their laments but inwardly lacked understanding; I’m blessed with an abundance of ideas, verses, characters, story lines, etc. — enough to keep my creative juices flowing for at least a couple life-times and little likelihood for suffering writer’s block.

Yet, from one side of my brain comes the inevitable question:  with all that potential, why so little production? An opposing voice appends the question with this reproach:  Aha! Are you blocked?

Normally, I’d queue my tattered list of excuses, but not today. Excuses are a stumbling block to the facts; that is, I’m learning to acknowledge my own distractibility. It’s a serious affliction — for me — that goes beyond what I’ve always understood as writer’s block.

So, to summarize this writer’s version of an AA confessional, I offer my own woeful tale:  I’m an information junkie. My interests are wide, my distractions even wider. My responsibilities are often demanding, and my attention span could definitely use a tune-up. To complicate matters, I’ve reached the age where leisure and pleasure often take precedence over deadlines. And yes, whatever wounds I have sustained are mostly self-inflicted.

[DISCLAIMER:  By using the AA motif, I mean no disrespect for anyone who suffers addiction-related afflictions.]

For the creative person, lack of production is an affliction. The good news is my avocation (information junkie) has stood me in good stead. Recently, I discovered an excellent blog written by Jeff Goins, whose boyish smile (in the blog masthead) only hints at the deeper insight about which he so capably writes.

The first post I read, titled “Your Clutter is Killing Your Creativity (And What To Do About It)”, pointed its gnarled, accusatory finger directly at me. Distractibility is a type of clutter — it thwarts my ability to focus on my present task. With pinpoint precision, Goins pierces the jugular:  “You need to clear your life of distractions.”

He’s right.

As a young mother with four children under the age of eight, I set a goal to write (and complete) a dozen short stories for submission to a contest. Composing a worthy body of work over several months required focus and discipline. Fortunately, my husband supported this endeavor (notwithstanding a repetitive dinner menu of grilled cheese sandwiches or similar fare). Without his help, I’d never have reached my goal.

[Though I didn’t win that contest, there were other wins down the road.]

In a memorable scene from Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell explains to his sister:  “… God made me for a purpose … He also made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure ….”

When I write, I comprehend what Liddell described. Why then would I allow distractions — clutter — to rob me of that purpose for which God made me?

Thanks, Mr. Goins, for reminding me.

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