Oh What a Relief It Is….

Did my taxes! The Feds owe me and I owe the State (but I come out ahead in the balance).  With so many changes in my life in the past year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in the hole….so I’m happy!

IMG_1068Next year, with Vintage Octobia actually up and running, I may be in the happy position of owing money because I have honest-to-goodness profits. I could stand that.

Today I’m sorting through buttons, cleaning old glass, and watching Harrison Ford movies.

Life is good.

Searching for Gratitude

transf029GratefulnessSometimes it’s hard to find that grateful place. The inner “ping” that eases the constriction, lets a sigh slip out and opens the heart again.

I deal with a lot of chronic pain, and once in a while it gets to me more thoroughly than I’d like. Today was one of those. I spent much of the morning with my knee and lower leg hurting like a rotten tooth, barely able to take a step.

A visit to the doctor’s and a sonogram eased some of the fear I was feeling — no blood clot or blockage — but simply bursitis on top of the usual arthritis and tendonitis in my knee and — and don’t all those “itis” endings tell tales of dreary misery! But without the tightening of fear, there began to be a little room for easy breath. A new anti-inflammatory gave me a bit of pain relief this evening, and I am now fairly comfortably sitting at the computer, watching a Netflix show and finishing a deep purple hat..

And there it is. That whisper of gratitude. First: it’s my knee — not my hands, so knitting remains a joy;. It’s not my mind, so thinking these things is still easy and fluid; It’s not a loved one’s loss, so tomorrow holds its usual promise.   Once again, gratitude has done it’s work, and I’m smiling as I write, even laughing at myself a little, because I fell for the “con” that I am my pain.  It’s a kind of mesmerism that creeps up a bit at a time, and the weariness that daily pain brings with it leaves little vulnerable cracks in my identify as a multi-dimensional being. I am not my pain, or my fear, or even my joy.

And with the reminder of the truth, that knowing opens the flood of gratitude for the whole shebang of human embodiment. Pain or no pain — living still beats the hell out of the alternatives.

 

Blessings to all.

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Herald of the Spring

IMG_0227Every year, since I was in my late teens, I herald the spring’s coming with a rousing recitation of my favorite spring poem: Jabberwocky.

josh waiting 1The reason for this is lost in memory, but I am unfailingly tormented family and friends each March — going so far one year as to call my son, who was in the Navy, stationed in Washington State, to be sure spring arrived safely in the armed forces. He listened with sangfroid the military had helped him achieve, thanked me politely, and went back to his electronics work….I remain convince, that he didn’t manage to avoid at least an inner smile.

So here, in honor of the season, for all who are out of reach of my voice, is Lewis Carroll’s happy nonsense:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

 

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

 

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

 

One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

 

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
     He chortled in his joy.

 

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

Blessings to all this bright season
beautiful bird cropped

Shop Talk Time

IMG_1656Here are some photos from my Sunday afternoon at the Downtown Market. I added a few choice pieces (including my favorite new knitted project) and neatened up a bit. IMG_1655

IMG_1661I also shared some lovely conversation with a customer who frequently stops in to browse and buy IMG_1654my vintage glass – especially the Fenton pieces. Our paths hadn’t crossed at the market before, and I enjoyed learning more about older Fenton pieces.

I really hope someone falls in love with my fabulous flamboyant flamenco shawl — someone with good taste and money — it’s a mere $225.00, and frankly, given the many hours of knitting in it, I’ve probably under-priced it. Still, I really I want someone to buy it to love and wear, so I didn’t want to go any higher.

A spring finally nears, I’m starting to plan some warm-weather knits — light and lacy shawls, maybe even a few sleeveless garments. Fit is always a challenge when you’re knitting for a customer-to-be-named-later… so nothing too persnickety.

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Old-Fashioned Beef Vegetable Soup

soup 3My mother used to make this amazing vegetable soup. I learned to like barley from that soup. Oddly enough, the only food I really miss in eating gluten-free (I mean, besides good french bread), is barley.

There’s something about the sweet nuttiness, and slightly chewy texture that makes vegetable soup just perfect. I started adding it to other soups too, especially turkey noodle soup after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

For the past two years I’ve been trying to re-conjure the taste and feel of my mother’s soup, sans barley. I think I’ve finally done it.

The soup was made in the slow cooker, but doesn’t require much adaptation for the soup kettle — it would just take two days, instead of three.

Laurie’s Old-Fashioned Beef Vegetable Soupsoup ingredients raw

Two marrow bones and about a pound of boneless beef stew meat

Or two beef shins with plenty of meat

Enough cold water to fill the cooker or kettle about two-thirds full

A sprinkle of salt

One large onion, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

3-5 large stalks of celery, with leafy tops

2 big carrots,

Whatever other limp but usable vegetables (I had a half of zucchini, but I’ve also added green beans, pea, parsnips, or turnip — nothing too dominating in flavor, though)

Simmer overnight

While the stock is cooking, soak a cup or two of red beans, or a combination other beans of your choice (cannelloni, navy beans, october beans, red kidney beans are others I like to use)

When the stock has deepened in color and the veggies are nearly mush, strain the broth, reserving the “stuff” to pick out the clean bits of meat.  Press the cooked vegetables through a sieve to get all the moisture and flavor out

Add the drained beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and the cleaned bits of meat (no gristle allowed) and simmer again overnight

soup 2Add:

4-5 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced

6-8 small potatoes, peeled and diced (I used Klondike Rose this time)

3 stalks of celery, diced very fine

1 large zucchini, diced

A handful of chopped fresh parsley, or dried if necessary

Other herbs I usually add are powdered onion and garlic, paprika, thyme, sage, rosemary, and oregano.

Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Add 1 can of corn, another can of diced tomatoes,

Perhaps a couple of cans of cooked beans if you need to stretch the soup for more people. Salt to taste, add more herbs if needed.

That’s it.

taco-soup-in-the-crock-pot (1)I think the corn and several types of beans add the sweetness the barley used to provide, and if you want a little thicker soup, go heavier on the potatoes and don’t drain all the liquid from the canned beans.  Another possible addition is a little chopped cabbage — people don’t think it of it as sweet, but it really is in soups.

I’m ready to go have seconds now.

Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

More Shop Talk

I have some more photos Josh and I took over the weekend. It’s looking more finished now — though there is plenty more to add and I still need more shelves.

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Did I mention I finally named my business?  I’m nearly official (have to bring the dba form to the clerk’s office this week).

Vintage Octobia:

Crafts & Collectibles

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Trading Spaces

ImageYesterday afternoon my son and I spent several hours moving my glassware and knitting to a new space at the Asheville Downtown Market.  I have a long way to go to get the booth exactly like I want it, but I’m pretty pleased with the progress so far.

This weekend will mean some serious rummage store shopping for more shelving; and an evening spent tagging my collection of coin banks, some more craft supplies, a handful of very sweet trinket boxes, and the latest scarves.

This is so much fun!

Cat Burglars and Staying up Late

I’ve been knitting most of the evening, watching old TV episodes on Netflix and finishing an elegant and subdued scarf for Josh. Then I’m making a bright orange wool cap for a friend who works outside on foggy winter mornings, plus something I’ll make out of this lovely Juniper Moon silk/merino blend. and then there’s the primary colored free-form shawl a few ideas for the next scarves and shawls.

Out of the corner of my eye I keep watch for the cat burglars. Ellsworth is the invisible neak thief, creeping in close, head low, with precise foot placement. Delicately, tenderly, he nudges the skein shifting it so he can get a sure grip with his mouth.  He clamps down, pulls back in slow mo, and then dashes for the hall …yard trailing behind him, catching on everything in its path.

Ellsworth can resist orange yarn. While for Smudge, I think the biggest attraction is proximity and a clear line of escape. He wants room to dash off to the other end of the house tearing loose locks of yarn and tangling, — indeed wrestling with it — and claiming it as prey.  Smudge is on the hunt.  Ellsworth is playing a sneak thief version –sealth is the purpose, my surprise the reward.