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Earthquake Starts With EAR

August 19th, 2018 · No Comments · Daily

The man who sold a Hershey bar to me was wearing a name tag that said “Al, Pinch Hitter.” Because I need new glasses, I read it as “Al Pinch Hitler.” which then became “I’ll Pinch Hitler.”

I started this sweater.

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It’s top-down and stripes are starting to happen and I’ll Pinch Giuliani.

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Nobody wants to know that every night I dream about trying to walk down a crowded elementary school hallway, and my legs keep cramping up and I have to stop and stretch multiple times and I’m just so embarrassed that I can’t walk down a hallway without struggling, and then I can’t find my car so I have to do my best to just keep walking. Forever.

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I woke up Monday with a bum jaw and The Right Ear of Throbbing and a sensitivity that branched into my face and neck.

Nurse Practitioner: I’m not getting a good view of what’s going on in your ear, but I can tell you have an infection.

Me (in my head): It’s a baby bird. Maybe a cluster of spiders. My other black sock has been missing for days.

Suddenly, I was leaning back and holding a bowl under my ear and a medical assistant was squirting warm water and peroxide into my ear and STOP STOP STOP STOP because THE PAIN!

Nurse Practitioner: I’m going to send you to the ENT walk-in clinic.

The doctor at the walk-in clinic told me that no one should ever squirt water or peroxide into an ear. (I paid a $50 fee to have the water and peroxide squirted into my ear. That $50 could have purchased this shirt with enough left over for cheesecake. I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry before.)

Doctor at walk-in clinic: You’ve got all kinds of stuff going on in there. I’m going to vacuum it out a bit so I can see how bad the infection is.

Ear vacuum. Again with the crazy pain, but add in the irrational fear that my temporal lobe might be extracted accidentally. Question: Would a temporal lobe suck-out help with social anxiety? Answer: Damage to the right temporal lobe may cause a loss of inhibition with talking. Question: Would I rather be super comfy in public with a tendency to reveal every (potentially unpleasant) thought that bounces around in my head, or would I rather be panicky and self-contained? Luckily, my brain was not poked or sucked, so I shall remain jittery yet unresponsive. The Earth continues to spin, but I’m now realizing that I’ve met quite a few people in the past year who can be casually diagnosed with right temporal lobe damage. (I have a degree in psychology and semi-thick glasses, which means I’m credible.)

That was a long paragraph. Please enjoy this photo.

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Since having my ear squirted and sucked, I’ve been on high ear alert. That grasshopper is hungry for the workout lady’s temporal lobe.

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Denouement: My right ear is on steroids and has been making bad decisions stemming from feelings of invincibility. If she asks you for money, please don’t give it to her. She’s up to no good.

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She smells the yarn and rubs it under her chin and on her neck.

August 7th, 2018 · 5 Comments · Daily

Although I have voted in every single election at the same polling place since we moved into the house in 2014, today they couldn’t find my name in the system. Could it be because I told them I want a democratic ballot? Probably not. Could it be because we are flying a HRC flag at our house, where HRC stands for Human Rights Campaign and not Hillary Rodham Clinton? Probably not. Could it be because I’m already in a shitty mood so the universe was like, “What’s one MORE thing I could hurl at her?! Wheeeee!!!” Maybe. (Probably not.)

I filled out an affidavit and a new voter registration form. I voted. All is well.

My mom, Tempe, and I left for Chicago at 500 in the morning on Friday for our tenth annual Stitches Midwest adventure.

Less than five minutes in, I was trying on shawls and poking out eyeballs.

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(I purchased the kit to make the shawl, except mine will be in shades of blue and a brown and an ivory.)

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Check out the scarf on the little concrete lady.

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I’ll be making it with a rainbow gradient and a deep grey, and I’ll be connecting the ends so it is a cowl instead of a scarf.

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What else?

I tried on the cowl in the photo below and I fell in love with it, so I grabbed some yarn. Bam!

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I tried on the sweater in the photo below and I fell in love with it, so I grabbed some yarn. Bam!

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The sweater was in the Three Irish Girls booth, which has been my favorite booth for the past three years. Last year I fell in love with an orange Footloose and Fancy Free Poncho, and I kicked myself all year (LITERALLY) for not buying the yarn. (You absolutely must have a firm grip on your style before you can go all willy nilly with an orange poncho. I was a little too careful when I was 47. Ah, but now I’m 48, and it’s time to make up for the sobriety of my youth.)

I tried on the poncho in the photo below and I fell in love with it, so I grabbed some yarn. Bam!

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Speaking of making up for the sobriety of my youth, every year we celebrate ourselves with cheesecake (and maybe or maybe not a martini). This year was no exception.

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Five Joys: The “5 Months Until Christmas” Edition

July 25th, 2018 · 8 Comments · Daily

My Veggetti. I’ve been noodling up some zucchini, sautéing in a bit of olive oil, sprinkling on some Penzeys Mural of Flavor, tossing on a handful of tomatoes, and: Dreamy Dinner from My Veggetti! (You are the only one with a mind in the gutter right now.)

Similarly, refried beans. I heat up an entire can and give it the tomato treatment. BAM!

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Thrift store jeans. I took the girls to a thrift store on Sunday. While there, I bought two pairs of used jeans. Had I bought them new, my total would have been around $150. BUT, because I’m not afraid of lingering crotch bugs, I paid only $12. I brought them home (where “them” = jeans), washed them (out, out, damn crotch bugs!), and cut and frayed the cuffs. Style!

The sky over the park. A farming family sold their land to the county and it’s currently being built into a park that lies within walking distance to our house—right across from the library. I love that we’re getting a park, I love that they’re leaving the silo right where it is, and I love when the sun and the clouds are like, “Check it. This is where you live!”

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Marching band season. I’m sharing driving duties with another mom, which means I sometimes have 2-3 marching band kids in my car either going to or coming from their all day practice. These kids are the funniest/most clever kids. The way they play off of each other makes me wish the ride was more than just 20 minutes long.

(Side Note: A few weeks ago Meredith asked, “Can I get my nose pierced?” to which I  replied, “Will you continue to go to school and grow up to be a good citizen?” Her answer was yes so my answer was yes. I know a lot of parents who are like, “No on the face hole.” I think it helps that MY face hole hasn’t yet forced me to do drugs or vote outside of my comfort zone. I feel confident that hers won’t, either.)

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List of Middle-Age White Lady Accomplishments, July 1 to July 12

July 12th, 2018 · 10 Comments · Daily

1. I ordered and received my calendar for 2018-2019 school year. I transcribed all school events, birthdays, and appointments into the new calendar with bright red ink from Japan. I messed up/scratched out more than 10 times, which led me to consider ordering a new calendar, but then I remembered that Only God Is Perfect. I forgave myself.

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2. I went to the mall with no intention of buying Big Girl Makeup. I moseyed into the Bare Minerals store to see what was going on, and suddenly I found myself on a chair and Gabby was swirling and buffing and for the first time in a long time I felt like I looked good. SO, I bought the Big Girl Makeup (Big Girl Makeup = Any sort of makeup that cannot be purchased at a drug store).

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3. I attended my second “wear a swimsuit” event of the summer without owning a swimsuit. I sat on the edge of the pool in jeans and tried to figure out when I last owned a swimsuit. Answer = Five years ago. I came home from the event and found this swimsuit on Amazon. I quickly lamented the fact that the only designs available in my size were horizontally striped. Ah! But I then said “fuck it” and hit the Buy It Now! button. (I tend to curse the worst of my curses when it’s swimsuit time.) (Bonus Info: The swimsuit actually fits, because somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.)

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4. I learned that I also curse the worst of my curses while finding the balance between my age and my style. A few weeks back I got a haircut that removed half of the fake black color that I tend to apply monthly. I considered stopping on the way home to purchase yet another bottle of the fake black color, but it was hot outside and I had work to do, so I said “fuck it” and I’m now one of those salt and pepper people.

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5. The girls let me accompany them to all of their summer medical and dental appointments and the only time they felt embarrassed was when I started making friends with the paper towel dispensers.

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Paper Towel Dispenser: It’s killing me that I can’t ask you to dance.

Me: I would love to dance with you, but I’ll have to wait for the neurologist to leave the room. I’m not sure he would approve, and I don’t feel like having that conversation with him.

Paper Towel Dispenser: These are curious times, indeed.

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Pride (In the Name of Love)

July 3rd, 2018 · 1 Comment · Daily

We saw quite a few types of people at St. Louis’s PrideFest a few weeks back, and I believe I would have given any of them a kidney (but only if they NEEDED a kidney, as I have only one to give). I would even give the Repent and Believe guy my kidney, but I would probably sit him down and let him know that he’ll be leaving the hospital wearing the kidney of an unapologetic LGBTQ ally. (I would also tell him to take the anti-rejection meds on schedule because I don’t want my kidney to crap out on him.)

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I purchased my shirt here, and I think a few people read it and didn’t understand what it meant. There is a time and a place for everything, and PrideFest isn’t necessarily the time and place for a grammar lesson. Nor is it the time to scream about damnation. (Is there ever a time to scream about damnation?)

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In unrelated news, my mom and dad just delivered a fresh batch of brownies, my kids and husband are at Warped Tour, and I’m trying to figure out where that smell is coming from.

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Don’t nobody bring me no bad news.

June 27th, 2018 · 6 Comments · Daily

A few months ago, a friend asked if I was busy on the evening of June 25 because she won tickets to see The Wiz at The Muny and wanted to invite me. Because Harper is still out of town and the only other thing going on was my “We’re Halfway to Christmas” celebration (It typically involves me sitting on the couch and saying, “June 25th. I guess we’re halfway to Christmas.”), I gave a firm Yes.

After driving into the city and eating our picnic dinner, we headed to our seats. Once we arrived, we noticed that an older woman was sitting in N44—the seat listed on my ticket. She smiled and moved to the next seat and all was well. My friend and I sat, situated our things, and then quickly jumped onto our phones to take a few quick photos and check on our families.

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This is the closest I’ve ever been to the stage, and I was super excited. The movie soundtrack for The Wiz was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I would lie on my floor and listen to the album over and over again because Toots Thielemans on harmonica is just so nice.

The only thing I’ll ask you to do today: Close your eyes and listen to part two of the overture. Picture me sprawled on the floor wearing my Mork from Ork suspenders. Now picture me picturing myself playing Dorothy to Michael Jackson’s Scarecrow. Oh, 1978.

Back to The Muny. I’m in my seat shooting off a quick text to Harper (because I haven’t seen her in THREE WEEKS), and I hear this from the older woman sitting next to me.

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I looked over at her, and saw that she and her daughter were looking right at my friend and me. And I smiled a little and PUT MY PHONE DOWN. (I’m still annoyed with myself for putting my phone down. I am 48.)

Before the show started, an announcement was made that everyone should stand and face the flag for the singing of the National Anthem. Whatever. I guess I’m cool with it being played at sporting events but this is a MUSICAL and that seems weird, yet I know it’s not up to me. (“Few things are,” she whispered passive-aggressively.)

Seated a few rows in front of us was a large group of students. Most of them were African American teenagers. When it came time for the National Anthem, a handful of the students didn’t stand. (How do I feel about that? I feel like they had every right to stay seated. I feel like the best thing coming out of this particular presidency is a spark for activism. I support all forms of non-violent protests and peaceful disturbances. AND, I also know that 17% (or maybe 31%) of you are rolling your eyes into the backs of your heads and hating on me for that. I’m okay.)

This time it wasn’t the cranky older woman who spoke loudly. It was her daughter.

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And what I WANTED to say was simple: “They know exactly what they are doing.” But, damnit, I once again didn’t say anything. I *did* throw a stink-eye, but I kept my mouth closed. And I felt shitty. And I spent the next half hour silently raging against 52% of angry old white women.

Being outside watching the sun go down over the trees as Dorothy and her pals made their way to the wizard was definitely not a crap experience. It was an incredible experience made even MORE incredible when my friend handed me a surprise bag of peanut M&Ms as I dreamed of a wizard who could hand out hearts and brains.

If only we had a wizard who could hand out hearts and brains (and maybe slip me a steaming side order of nerve).

When it was time for intermission, the lights came on and my bag of grapes came out and I heard the most delightful ten words of the night.

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The reptilian mother/daughter team packed up their bags and stomped away leaving their wadded up napkins and empty water bottles behind (of course). I put my bags in their seats and smiled as I watched Dorothy and her friends get what they deserved.

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Agitated and Aghast

June 21st, 2018 · 5 Comments · Daily

We dropped Harper off at camp nearly two weeks ago and we’ll pick her up after eight more sleeps. Having her gone is weird, but knowing she’ll come home with a handful of new friends and a deeper understanding of American Sign Language makes everything worth everything. (Her three week camp involves an expedited college course in ASL. It also involves trips to the local big box store, lots of delivered pizzas, a Halloween celebration, thrift store shopping, a dance every Saturday, and the adoption of a fish. His name is Clyde and we will love him just like we love all of the other pets.) She is happy.

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On Sunday I sat on the couch and watched a dog show. After about 45 minutes, I realized that I recognized several of the dogs. I had no idea that what I was watching was from 2014 and that I had seen it before. I could get all down on myself for wasting so much time on the couch watching a rerun, but I’m choosing to be impressed with the fact that I recognized some of the dogs! One of my (many) brain hiccups? I can be in a room (or even sit at a table) with someone and hours later have no idea what they look like. Ah, but Nathan the Bloodhound and Freda the French Bulldog? I Will Never Forget Them.

This is my big accomplishment of the week: Twelve people came to my house on Monday evening and I made a bunch of food and the guests sat on couches and chairs and looked at jewelry catalogs and I don’t think any of them really hated it. In fact, they ordered some jewelry and as a result, I will be wearing this necklace sometime in the next week. 

It’s a lariat, which means I can use it as a lasso if/when necessary. You know how I am with my frequent lasso needs. (I cropped out that necklace model’s face because she really does look a little bit like Ivanka Trump and I refuse to hang that poster on my wall.)

Speaking of my wall, we have lived in this house for nearly four years, and I’m just now starting to feel inspired to hang things.

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Do you remember when I got my mountain tattoo? Well, last week I came across the semi-matching mountain shelf up there, and the price was right. (It currently holds a Buddha, a few saints, a Christmas thing I made last year, and Herbert the Owl.)

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I bought a dozen or so dollar frames and my goal is to fill them with quotes and words that I like. Literature and Chickens is the first.

Finally? My door knocker wall is up to three knockers, which means it officially qualifies as a collection. AND I hung a fake triple spigot over the entryway to the family room. I could say I did it to remind all of us to let go of the figurative dirt before we spend time as a family, but that would be a lie. I did it because I thought it was funny.

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On a bit of a side note, I’ve also been knitting and freelancing and eating and making lots of stupid mistakes and drawing and writing and creating cake balls and cleaning the house and driving a lot while listening to Anthony Bourdain books (because he reads them and I will always like him). I do this sort of manic “keep your hands and mind distracted” sort of thing when I’m feeling the unpleasant and inexplicable blend of Frantic + AngrySad + Being Physically Unable to Cry. If I happen to put a fist through a wall, at least I know I’ll immediately patch and paint. This will pass. And then I’ll take a nap.

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No one’s story is finished.

June 10th, 2018 · 10 Comments · Daily

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Jeff took the day off on Friday, and the four of us went to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The main exhibit right now is artwork by Mona Hatoum, and it was so interesting and amazing and wonderful.

"One Year" by Mona Hatoum

That glass cube holds a year’s worth of Hatoum’s fingernails. (If you’re curious, the year in question was 2005. As Harper was finishing up her stay in my uterus, Hatoum was clipping her nails and perhaps putting them in an envelope.) You might look at that cube of nails and think it’s disgusting or way too weird or just not art. I saw that cube of nails and I was IN.

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Look closely. It was woven out of hair. Mona Hatoum’s hair. She collected her own hair for several years and kept it in shoe boxes under her bed until inspiration struck.

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Not everything at the Pulitzer was a Hatoum. (Read that sentence again while smoking an imaginary cigarette on one of those long stick things. Scowl just a little. There. Much better.)

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The woman above was one of my very favorites. This painting is part of a series by Amy Sherald.

A Clear Unspoken Granted Magic, 2017

So, this past week has been a tough one for me because I have the same amount of time as everyone else, and I spend too much of that time sitting on the couch NOT being creative and NOT making people think.

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(Photo credit to LHM)

John Pavlovitz appeared at our church last weekend. (Out of nowhere! As if by magic!) I am a huge fan of his words—both written and spoken—so I attended each and every presentation he gave. (Chapter 17 in A Bigger Table changed everything for me. That chapter laid out every one of my spiritual struggles and then gave me a big hug and told me I was going to be okay.) While he spoke, I sat up front and I took notes. So many notes. (Photo evidence of my note taking above. And another thing: Jeff and the girls gave those shoes to me for my birthday a few weeks ago, and they make me feel like an R.E.M. song.)

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A phrase from last weekend that stood out to me in a really beautiful way was “That looks HORRIBLE. Let’s go there!” I need to force myself to see things outside of my bubble, because my bubble is SO sanitized. I don’t have to try very hard to view sitting on the couch as actively harming someone who might need something that I can provide, and I know that may sound ridiculous to you, and I’m okay with that.

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What follows are some of the things I wrote down as John Pavlovitz spoke:
Does your faith influence your politics? Why is cruelty trending? Don’t respond to monstrous things by being monstrous. Be students of people—don’t settle for false stories and stereotypes. “I feel spiritually nauseated.”

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Cultivate a life of activism. Use your gifts and advantages to lift up the voices of people who may not have those advantages. When conversations get heated, step in. Share love, mercy, and compassion, but point out false stereotypes. Decide what matters enough for you to speak. Every person of faith thinks they’re doing it right.

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We know things are horrible. Horrible things are horrible. BUT, we’re going to find happiness somewhere. DEFIANT JOY. It’s exhausting to give a damn, but we’re here because we’re damn givers! There’s a cost to fighting for diversity, equality, love, and justice. You don’t have to complete the work, but you cannot abandon it. It’s okay to be a Christian on medication.

Give others a reason to go on another day.

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Won’t you be my neighbor?

June 2nd, 2018 · 2 Comments · Daily

The guy who lives next door is putting his house on the market. A family who lives down the road is putting their house on the market. Earlier this week I found myself eating a gluten-free chocolate torte, (drinking a beer), and discussing intentional communities with a good friend of mine who I will refer to as Sarah.

Okay. Intentional community conversation followed by two new open houses in my subdivision. This can only be seen as a sign from above. Cosmic Poetry.

Mission: I need to somehow attract some of My People to My Subdivision. (Note: Some of my people already live here. We’re off to a good start.) How do I attract more? Sarah suggested a rainbow pride flag, and that got me to thinking. (I don’t think I’ve ever said “That got me to thinking.” before.)

(Disclaimer: Some of you followed the intentional community link in Paragraph One and you immediately started telling yourself false stories about me being a stinky hippie who wants to live in the woods and drink the urine of three-legged dogs while smoking weed around a fire in the name of Goddess Gaia. When the final ember burns out it’s like musical chairs but with lots of crazy monkey sex and maybe I smell a little too much like patchouli and maybe a guy named Pegasus occasionally howls at the moon. This type of community is not (necessarily) what I’m envisioning. And why did I just use a parenthetical Necessarily? Because I can be okay with almost all of those things if someone else is doing my laundry in exchange for monthly cake balls. And maybe we have some pygmy goats. A good library. Netflix.)

I just made the first gentle-suggestion purchase intended to attract a wider demographic to my subdivision.

I will hang it, and I will also give equal time to a flag that goes a little something like this.

Finally, I made a few signs for the front yard.

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Some kids get pancreatitis. Some get slickensides. Most have imaginary finger pens.

May 30th, 2018 · 1 Comment · Daily

Summer does not officially start until June 21, yet I have already spent four hours next to a pool. (Reminder: I don’t swim and being around water is a HUGE anxiety poker. The fact that I survived with nary a twitch is monumental. I give credit to the company and the dips, beans, and phyllo pizza.)

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The latest Sedaris book arrived late last week and I’ve already requested the audiobook from the library. Some of the essays are hitting me hard, and I need to hear David Sedaris reading them to me. Maybe more than once.

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I started this Waves in the Square Shawl on September 15, 2009 and the fact that it isn’t yet finished is such crap. Hit that link and just look at how pretty it will be. This is the shawl that is going to make me embrace pink again! (Pink and I have had a bit of a falling out. It’s nobody’s fault, really.) Anyway, the goal is to not put the project bag back into the closet, because when that happens I tend to not pull it out again for at least two years.

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I’m devoting most of the day to the Scripps Spelling Bee preliminary rounds. I’ve gone from pajamas to clothes and from coffee to water flask and the bee blazes on. I would invite people over to watch with me, but as my kids can tell you: If anyone speaks during the bee, I lose my head. (I don’t lose my head often. Spelling bees stir up all of my emotions.)

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