Friday, May 21, 2010

Will someone one please be honest?

Our church has an abundance of accompanists. I've shared accompanist duties for the Chancel Choir with another woman for several years. She (let's call her Margaret) has a beautiful touch on the piano and can play by ear as well as read music. She's a long-time member of the church and is going through a lot right now since her husband is ill with a chronic, debilitating condition. She als0 accompanies a couple of the choirs at the high school and, during the winter, coaches a few students as they prepare for vocal contest.

Here's the problem: Margaret can't count. She teaches her wrong way of counting to her students and to the vocal students she coaches. In addition, she is very vocal when she doesn't get something she wants. When I started accompanying the choir at church, she resented every time I "took her place" and let everyone know about it. It's been several years and this is still going on. Frankly, it's wearing very thin on everyone. And lately, quite frankly, I'm feeling a bit like I'm being used!

Lately, our choir director has begun combining piano and organ to try to cover up the incorrect rhythms Margaret plays. And the organ is played by (you guessed it) me.

Frankly, I'm gettin' really tired of this. I'm not a complainer, and I know the director does not want to hurt feelings. M. has given many, many years to the choir.

So, here's the thing (this is to my children and my husband): when I'm old(er) and can't keep up on the piano anymore, PLEASE tell me and suggest (tactfully) that it might be time to retire from my accompanying duties. I do not want to end up like Margaret. And I certainly don't want anyone else to feel "used" the way I am feeling right now!

OK, I'm done whining!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baby Wes is due soon and his blankie awaits

Last week, I finished the blanket for my next grandchild, Weston Cain, who is due any day. The colors were chosen based on colors his momma seems to love, since she uses them almost exclusively when she decorates (I really like them, too!). They're the colors of the ocean and nature - gorgeous blues, browns, and a few shades of green.

The pattern is from Lion Brand's website - Vintage Charm Throw . I t was a simple knit, which is really important for me right now, what with my current brain "challenges." I think the simplicity also made the color changes stand out much more. I used Lion Brand's Nature's Choice Organic Cotton, which has a nice twist and is SO soft. The pattern also features a seed stitch border, which should make for a nice texture for the baby. I've seen so many of my grandchildren who love to stroke their blankies. Hopefully, Wes will like this one also. The yarn is not machine washable, but his momma loves things organic. So, I know she'll take care in caring for the piece!

Wes will be my son and spouse's (Dan and Marcy's) second child and brother to Jake, aged 3. Marcy had a rough time having Jake three years ago, so we're praying for a simple, easy delivery this time.

Looking back on all three of my deliveries, I feel so blessed. Everyone of my children were born so easily, even the oldest (Chad) who took his time in arriving, but he was the first.

Other projects on the needles can now get going again. First up, a sweater for Lettie, the one-year old daughter of my Michigan daughter Christine. This sweater is going to be just so luscious. It's knit from a natural colored cotton and based on a pattern from Interweaves Knitting Traditions. The pattern was taken from some German miniatures and translated to make infant size 3 to 9 months. I've re sized it by using Knit Picks Simply Cotton sport weight. Will probably add some finishing touches at the neck and front lapels, when I'm done, much like Susan Levin did.

It's a little hard to image it as a sweater right now (in the picture, you are looking at the inside of the sweater, showing the right front and almost completed back.) The sweater is knit up and down, instead of from side to side like most patterns. This allows a simple P 1 row, K 2 rows, P 1 row sequence to result in these soft ridges, which should expand as this little one grows, at least for awhile (see third picture).

The last piece I want to show is a new project, which I am NOT going to start until this baby sweater and a few other things are done. Hannah Fettig has a new pattern called Wispy Cardi, which she offers as a kit on her store website, Knitbot. I chose the Malabrigo lace yarn (a soft, slightly variegated blue) to knit this in (it's much lighter than the picture below).

The kit came yesterday and it's taking all of my self-control not to start knitting right away. I may go ahead and at least swatch to get gauge, since I need to make sure I have enough yarn before it's no longer available in this dye lot. Don't get me started about Malabrigo yarn. It is SO beautiful (and SO tempting right now!). But I've promised myself to finish a few more projects before starting any more.

That's all for now. I think I'll go knit that swatch!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mary, Mary, quite contrary; How does your garden grow?

Ahhh! Springtime at last and my garden is blooming. Want to take a tour?

Last year, our Japanese cherry tree developed some type of
disease and we lost it. It was on the northwest corner, at the front of our house - a very visible spot in the landscape. And it WAS beautiful when it bloomed. Gorgeous, lush, soft pink blooms. However, not knowing what killed it, we were pretty sure we shouldn't put the same plant back there. So, yesterday, I found a Wine and Roses Weigela (wi-jel-ah) (long i sound). It's really pretty, but it's a little limp right now. Hopefully, it will pull through. It has gorgeous wine colored leaves, something I was looking for this corner of the house. The blooms are like hot pink little trumpets. Hopefully, it will make it!

Last fall, Richard dug in some double-bloom jonquil bulbs. I've always been enamoured with
jonquils and, although we have tons of daffodils on our back hillside (lakeside), I was on the lookout for jonquils. These bulbs did NOT dissapoint. This spring, Richard made the circles around the trees where he planted the jonquils a little neater and added mulch. The blooms are nearly spent, but you can get the idea here. Delicate little flowers with yellow centers. Really pretty!

There's also a new "man" in the kidney-shaped flower bed. Continuing my love of sun (and moon) faces, I found this cute garden art at Earl May yesterday. He makes a nice addition by adding some height to this bed and goes well with another piece behind the "black cauldron), which also carries the sun face theme!
Finally, still under the "new" heading, I planted the area around the mailbox again with tequila sunrise portulaca. I anticipate a major battle with the local bunnies and these portulacas. Last year, they nipped them off right at the ground two days after I planted them in same spot. However, this year I came armed to do battle with ta-da, Liquid Fence. It smells awful. I just hope it scares them away. (the other plant in the picture is a mystery. I just liked the color!). The portulacas also look a little limp, but should look better in a few days. They were over-watered (they like sunny, dry places so this is a great spot, so far from the water spicket on our lot!) when I got them home from the nursery.

Other blooming activity includes allliums, coral bells, irises and peonies all ready to bloom and my favorite - Dorothy Rose columbine (in my mum's honor), which was planted 5 years ago, died 2 years later, then resurrected itself last spring when we had such a wet spring. I love the delicate pink blossoms on these plants and hope they spread under the sand dollar bush that grows just east of our garage door. This version of columbine is very rare now since columbine strains aren't usually repeated from year to year.

Finally, another plant that reminds me so much of Mom, since this is her favorite scent, is Lily of the Valley. I planted 10 pips years ago. It took them forever to get started, but now they are sprouting up everyone in the front bed, crowding out the hydrangea and coneflowers. It's a constant battle to keep them from overtaking the bed. But, ohhh, when they bloom, they make the walk up the front sidewalk a royal treat for anyone visiting our house. The scent is just luscious. I plan to pick a few and put them in a little vase for the kitchen counter so I can enjoy them.

How's your garden growing? Happy Mother's Day! Happy Spring!