Elvis. The Beach Boys. Valentines Day. And further adventures with wool.

We spent last week so far out of our comfort zone.  Our zone involves lots of evenings on the sofa watching Lorelai Gilmore and her Stars Hollow escapades.  Will she marry Luke?  Where will Rory end up? (Actually, I know the answers because I looked up a synopsis on Google.  My bad).

But this week we abandoned the Gilmores and–DRUM ROLL PLEASE–went out at night!

We have friends who do cool stuff.  They haul us along.  It’s great.  The first experience was to see an Elvis impersonator.  Brandon Bennett.  He was terrific!  Now that I’m mostly deaf music doesn’t hold too much appeal.  However, if it’s music I recognize from my youth, I can fill in the blanks.  We were by far the youngest in the audience.  Pretty funny.

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Then two nights later we went to see The Beach Boys.  Only two of the original “boys” were in the group.  Mike Love and Al Jardine.  They were joined by John Stamos who was fantastic on drums.  Mike Love must be in his late seventies, but he was up there rocking for over two hours.  Again, the crowd was old. But not as ancient as the Elvis fans.

Valentine’s day began with the hunt for cards.  We hide the cards in plain sight.  Mine were by the sink, on the computer, and next to the coffee pot. In our house, it’s always three cards per person.  Jim goes big and pays full freight at the grocery store.  I shop Dollar Tree.  Bronson even got a card for Jimmy, so Jim got four cards.  Whoo Hooo.

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Then, at about ten a.m. the doorbell rang.  There was neighbor Rusty with a dozen yellow roses for me!

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Cards and roses?  What could make the day better?  Here’s what–Lynda invited us to come for dinner!  She’s a great cook.  Delicious food, excellent company.  We sat on their patio and gabbed long after dinner was done.

We were out after dark on three school nights.  Very adventurous of us.

My days continue to be consumed with sewing.  A few images of the latest creations.

 

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The front 

 

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The back.  Reversible!  Fancy, eh?

 

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Lined with leopard print. Edgy.

 

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The pink waffle weave wool used to be a Nicole Miller coat.  I’m a cannibal.  Shrinking and slicing and dicing.

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This is the project I should be doing.  I’ve been asked to paint six tiles to give as small gifts for the home-owners who are generous enough to open their homes for the annual Anna Maria Island house-walk.  The image I’ve chosen is the City Pier.  It’s a local landmark.  Sadly, the pier got destroyed by Irma.

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I keep procrastinating because I can’t stop sewing.  OCD prevails.

My second little bag is almost done!

I just need to attach a shoulder strap.  Even managed to line this bag with black cotton, which is WAY above my pay grade.  The first lining was far too small, but I figured it out.

 

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Front of purse

 

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The back.  I’ve ordered tags that say “Crafted by Beatrice Bee.”  They will get ironed into each item.

 

 

Yesterday I went to the thrift shop and bought scads of 100% wool coats at half price.  A Nicole Miller pale pink waffle weave.  A gorgeous winter white cashmere.  Black, red, camel hair, bright green.  They have all been boiled and are now drying on chairs by the pool.  Next step to chop them apart.  The black wool one will provide a shoulder strap for this pink, black and yellow bag.  I’ve saved all the linings to use for inside my purses.

I also shrunk the doll hair. Kind of a failure.

 

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Neighbor Lynda saw these and thought they looked like dog doo.  I guess they kinda’ do.

 

The shrunken heads are now pincushions.

 

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Voodoo dolls!

Today I went to Walmart and purchased a couple of sets of plastic drawers for all the wool I’ve collected.  Now, back to the sewing room to complete my third piece.  Also lined!  Under that button is a pocket to fit a cell phone.  Tomorrow, when the black wool is dry, this will get a shoulder strap.

 

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This used to be a man’s vest.

 

 

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The back.

 

 

 

Adventures with wool continue.

Today I’ll be working on my second kooky purse. It is a commission piece. I was asked for black with bright funky colors. Since I have not a clue what I’m doing, I priced it right.

I spent much of yesterday making little roses out of hot pink cashmere sweater seams. Today the process continues. I’ve decided to decorate both front and back. Yay, a “reversible-versatile-pursible.”

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But before I resume, I have a mad scientist experiment in the works. You may remember that last year, for twenty minutes, I decided to reinvent myself as a doll maker? So, I chose to buy art- supplies-I didn’t-need-with-money-I didn’t-have. I hopped online and purchased cool fibers for doll hair. Mohair, Alpaca, Tibetan wool.

 

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This little lady has Tibetan wool tresses.  I named her “Mariposa”.  She was adopted out. Now she spends her days sitting in a hair salon, watching women pay big bucks for locks her color.

 

However, since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I moved on. I exiled the fibers to a box in the corner of my shoe closet. For months they lived there next to a small styrofoam bowl containing three incomplete scary shrunken doll heads.

 

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The blue-eyed head used be atop Mariposa’s neck.  But it was so tiny she looked like a pitiful Zika baby.  I decapitated her and started over.

 

This morning I fished out the hair wool, stuffed it into knee-high pantyhose and tossed it into the washer on “steam cycle” along with the brown wool sweater I scored yesterday.

Prior to Super Bowl Jim tried on that rarely used pullover. It’s a Nordstrom purchase from his days as a regular customer there. Back then, each time Jim walked into the men’s department, Louis Salesguy vaulted across the service counter to wait on him. Jim loved him some Nordstrom’s. Louis loved him some Jim.

Sadly for Jim, the sweater was too small. When he stepped into the kitchen and saw the gleam in my eye, he knew that pullover was going to be way tinier before the week was over.

“Into the washer with you,” I howled!

I also tossed in two random wool squares I worked on during Super Bowl. While (sort of) watching the game, Erika, Lynda’s darling German mom, taught me a new more efficient way to knit. Last night when I woke at 3 a.m. I practiced until finally, happily, sleep overcame me.

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Ah! The steam cycle just ended. Time to shove the wool research experiment into the dryer. Then off to play in my “studio,” aka mixed-use-messy-guestroom.

For your viewing pleasure here are a few more shrunken heads.  I didn’t craft these.

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Another day, another strange purse.

The second purse completed!

I’ve been sending “What do I do now?” thoughts into the Universe, and as always the Universe delivered!  I have been invited to show/sell my funky little handbags at the Anna Maria Island Community Center during their annual Housewalk.  So between now and March of 2019 I’ll be chopping up shrunken woolies and combining them with all the random junk I’ve collected over the years.

This little purse is a combination of a navy Nordstrom wool sweater Jim donated to my cause. The blue denim bits are pieces of a scarf I began fourteen years ago for my son. But I screwed up the casting off part (my knitting skills leave something to be desired). It’s been living in a plastic baggie all this time.

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The yellow parts came from a thrift store cashmere sweater. $2.99 and dammit I’m worth it.  It used to be an extra large; now it would fit an American Girl doll. Beads are part of my stash from when I decided to make jewelry. Buttons are my passion. These three lived with the navy blues in my button drawers.

All my items get a bumblebee, as I stated before. Next, I plan to purchase tags the say handcrafted by Alice Jay Tate. I’m off and running, again! New year, new Alice.

Money from this little venture is ear-marked: twenty-five percent to a cause near and dear to my heart, twenty-five percent for my grandson’s college fund, and the rest for greedy Alice. Yay! I’ll probably spend it on more thrift store junk to shrinky dink.

I learned that every other Wednesday the Dunedin Main Street Thrift store sells all clothing half price.  You know where I’ll be twice a month.

 

What’s on my drawing board

New Year, new creative passion. I am having a blast buying wool sweaters, skirts, and coats then tossing them into a hot washer and dryer and turning them into wee-teeny shrunken doll size clothing.

I plan to chop them apart and turn them into wacky purses. This is a great thing because I can incorporate the mountains of other art supplies I’ve accumulated over the years. I have jars of beads, piles of fabric, an ocean of buttons, and an extremely patient husband who supports whatever wild imaginative flight of fancy that strikes my interest.

Yesterdays finds–

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The first weird purse includes a vintage handkerchief that was part of my former Etsy inventory, a wool scarf I began years ago for my son but screwed up casting off, random blue beads dug outta’ my bead hoard, a navy wool sweater Jim donated to the cause, and a silver bumblebee charm because all my artwork gets a bumblebee.

 

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You can kinda’ sorta’ see the bee on the upper right near the strap.

 

Why the bee? Because I once read scientists cannot explain how a fat fuzzy bumblebee can keep itself aloft with such small wings. It’s impossible. Every time I complete a creative venture I feel as if I’ve overcome my own impossible odds.

Now, on to iron my miniature cashmere sweaters, hack them apart and begin making more whimsical handbags.

And I have to give this house a lick and promise in preparation for book club tonight.  We are discussing Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers. Good read. I have to skim it again today. I’ve read several other books since then. My gray matter can only retain teaspoons of information these days. The joys of getting old.

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Elderly is good because people expect weird and sketchy from the aged.  I’ve got heaps of weird and sketchy.

Somewhat related blog posts:

Knit Wit

I’m Back!

Wonderful to be Weird

The War of Art

I’m Back!

I’ve been MIA since Thanksgiving. My fan complained and demanded a new blog post. So fan (you know who you are) this one’s for you.

Christmas was lovely.  We spent it with our sweet neighbors, Rusty and Lynda and their extended family. Then on New Year’s Eve, we took a short cruise with other friends. Following that, I got sick. Cough. Sniffle. Sneeze. Headache. I finally broke down and took myself to the doctor.

We had to get on an airplane. I didn’t want my head to explode.

He diagnosed me with a sinus infection, prescribed antibiotics, and off we went to Southern California to check out step-daughter Amy’s new home and life.

She took us to the Chapman University, in Orange, California.  She works there as Assistant to the Dean of the Law School. I fell in love with the town of Orange. Small, quaint, charming stores and restaurants. If it weren’t so far away and expensive I’d want to relocate there.

I also fell in love with Magna Tiles! Amy’s kids, Deven and Mishri, have vast quantities of the creative magnetic shapes.  Magna Tiles are the next gift I’m buying for my cute grandson, Tate.  Mo and Stephen, don’t tell him. I want them to be a surprise.

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When we got home from California we headed to Anna Maria Island to pick up Bronson the Wonder Dog.  He was staying with his surrogate parents, Brookie and Earl.  While there I saw colorful felted scarves used as a wall hanging. I immediately decided my next creative endeavor would be knitting wool and then felting it.  I would reinvent myself as felter extraordinaire.

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This is a felted scarf I found on Etsy.

 

What’s felting, you ask?  If you’ve ever accidentally thrown a 100% wool sweater in the wash and shrunk it, you have felted.

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The following day I drove to JoAnn’s Fabrics, plunked down thirty-five big ones on six skeins of Paton’s Wool yarn and set out to knit my first felting project.

First I made a small test patch. I boiled it on the stove top until our kitchen smelled like a barnyard. The wool shrunk.  A lot. That’s when I realized I do not have the patience to create a super long scarf only to have it turn into half its original size.

But what to do with my yarn?  I couldn’t return it, I’d already ripped the labels off and tossed the receipt.  Therefore, I made dryer balls. Easy as pie. (Which isn’t that easy, therefore the expression is dumb.)

I made twelve in total. Here’s how. I wound the yarn into balls, stuffed them into knee-high stockings and tied the sections between with string.

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Looks like this artist used socks.

 

I dumped them into the washer on the steam setting. Then thru the dryer at the hottest temperature.

Voila! Wool dryer balls. Supposedly they make your clothing dry faster, eliminate static, soften clothes and are earth-friendlier than fabric softeners.

Now I just hope our clothes don’t come out of the dryer stinking of wet sheep.

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Knit Wit

We’re home! Our long car trip from Palm Harbor to Waco, Dallas, Liberty Missouri, Chicago, Nashville, and Atlanta resulted in lots of listening to books on discs and tons of knitting!

I found three new victims to foist my scarves upon. It’s getting harder. All my new friends live in Florida. They don’t need warm scarves.

The first I completed was one I’d started on our last road trip. I only knit on the road, so it’s been living in my big yellow Banana Republic knitting bag for months. I gave Jim’s sister Eileen the completed funky patch and button-laden item. She lives in Chicagoland so her neck will need warming in a couple of months.

My original plan was to give it to Lynn.  But she will get the next one I finish.

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The second piece is for our friend JR’s Aunt Nancy. I was working on it when we visited them in Liberty, Missouri. She liked the colors and made the mistake of telling me. I just packed it up. It goes into the mail tomorrow.  Surprise, Nancy!  A weird scarf on the way.

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This photo is too blurry, but I’m not ripping open the package to take another picture.  You get the idea.  All my pieces come with a bumblebee attached.

 

The third scarf is for JR’s girlfriend, Melinda. She lives in Boston. It gets cold there too.

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Melinda specified the colors she would like.  

 

While in Chicago I spent two hours digging through buttons at an Andersonville resale shop. I discovered the place last summer and made a beeline there as soon as we got settled in our rental. Jim and Bronson waited for me patiently at Starbucks while I was in my happy place. I’ll go again next summer too. Not that I need more buttons, but it’s delightful to find unique ones.

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The view from my perch as I dug through buttons.

 

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I’ve already used the bright blue diamond studded button.  It found a home on Melinda’s scarf. 

 

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These two containers are the tip of the iceberg.  I looked at every single button in this bucket as well as five ancient cookie cans.  Yes, I am obsessive/compulsive.

 

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The forty-eight dollar’s worth of buttons I just couldn’t live without.  They really needed a bath.  

 

I’ve begun another scarf, but packed it away until our next big car trip.  My poor arthritic hands are happy for the break.

Now we are home again.  The locals are stocking up on water in case Irma hits us hard.  We bought two cases.  When those are gone I guess we’ll be reduced to swilling wine.

Hopefully, we’ll only have another month of hot and humid.  It’s truly oppressive here in the summer.  It rained so much our neighbors very kindly crossed the street and drained water out of our pool.  I’m happy they still like us in spite of my many post-cards bragging about the awesome Chicago weather we enjoyed.

Related Posts:

Counting Down the Days

How knitting saved my marriage

On the Road with Team Shepard

Road Trip!

Such Joy! We’re in Illinois.

I am so behind on my blog. We had excellent adventures in both Dallas and Liberty, Missouri. But those will take more thought and energy to write than I have in my weary fingers tonight.

Instead, I’ll give a quick rundown on our arrival in Illinois. We left Liberty Missouri this morning. We had our first ever Denny’s breakfast experience. Shame on me, I’ve been a lifetime Denny’s snob.

Denny’s was convenient and inexpensive, so we checked it out. Who woulda’ thunk they would have gluten free English muffins?  I have been avoiding carbs.  But GF English muffins were irresistible. I ordered mine “buttered in the kitchen.” The waitress, upon delivery, said, “The cook has never had anyone ask for a gluten free muffin buttered, only toast.” Huh? Butter is such great food group. Number two only after cream cheese.

Then we were on the road. We listened to Devil in the White City. I read it when it first came out. Jim rarely wants to read anything I read. Maybe he thinks I like “chick lit?”

I’m enjoying this book as much the second time around as the first. While absorbing the 19th century Chicago Worlds Fair and a whole lot of murder, I finished a scarf and began another.

We had to stop at Michael’s in Liberty for more yarn. This new scarf is for our friend JR’s girlfriend, Melinda. Plum, blue, cream. I’m looking forward to vintage button shopping in Chicago’s Andersonville and adding plum buttons to my collection.

We drove. We listened. We crossed the “mighty Mississippi” for the second time in one road trip. Pulled into our hotel about three p.m. We hadn’t had lunch, so we planned an early dinner. At about five I said, “Honey…can we eat soon?” Jim glanced at his self-winding watch and suggested we wait until closer to dinner time.

The self-winding had run down hours earlier. Jim was unaware of the time. I pointed out it was, in fact, dinner time.  I’m not a happy hungry person so Jim grabbed our “Miss Mamie’s” 10% off coupon ( after first checking out reviews) and we headed to dinner.

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It was yummy, and I have enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch. I have put a note-to-self on top of the cooler to remind us to take the chicken out of small frig in the morning. Along with Jim’s wee-teeny cinnamon bun. The pre-dinner bread basket included two. He gobbled the first before his meal; the second will be breakfast.

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My lemon chicken.  Delish.

 

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Jim’s ribs.  He said mine are better, but I suspect he’s buttering me up.

 

Our waitress, Elaine, has celiac sprue. She felt my pain at missing out on the bread basket. But I had the marvelous morning GF English muffin, so for a celiac that’s splendid.  She loved our service dog!

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The weather here is a fabulous 80 degrees. The grass is soft, not the saw blades of Floridian lawns. I adore living in Florida. But not in the summer and never the lawn.

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Tomorrow Chicago! We already have two Tate babysitting gigs lined up. Life is stupendous.

Counting Down the Days

We are counting down the days until our exciting road trip. Yesterday we went to the library and got piles of CD books. As always Jim wanted to get Stuart Woods Stone Barrington novels. We’ve listened to so many of those. Stone Barrington is a filthy rich attorney, private investigator, drop dead gorgeous New Yorker. Every two or three chapters Stone is in the feathers with one beautiful woman after another.  The only reason Stone makes the cut is the narrator does a great job reading the different characters.

Jim gathered about ten Stuart Woods novels and asked me to read the synopsis of each. I couldn’t guess if we’d heard them before. I vetoed all but two. Just now, I photographed the boxes of books only to find my rat-fink husband checked out seven, not two Stone Barrington romps.

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Today we took a field trip to Joann’s Fabrics. I bought four skeins of yarn. While traveling I knit. It keeps me from paying attention to Jim’s (according to me aggressive/according to Jim competent reasonable) driving.

I then spent time organizing my big yellow Banana Republic knitting sack. I dumped everything onto the kitchen island and got fierce about tossing random stuff leftover from the past voyages. There were some soggy packages of gum, a few dead hearing aid batteries, one lone sock, and several pennies.  Plus loads of yarns I won’t need this trip.

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This is the “before” photo.

 

Now everything is pristine, organized and ready to roll.

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The “after” photo. It’s nice to start out organized.  By September this order will be chaos again.

On our last road trip, I completed one scarf and almost finished a second. I will be done this one within our first two days. It just needs a few more patches, some buttons, and a bumblebee.

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I love collecting scads of buttons.  It’s a sickness.  Last summer I found a vintage junk store and scooped up dozens.

 

Then I’ll move on to my next color scheme and create a scarf for our new friend, Melinda.  JR, our buddy who dates her, told me what colors she would like, but naturally, I forgot. I think blue was among them.

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If she hates it, she can pass it along to someone else.

While I was in the air conditioning cleaning my craft bag, poor Jim spent an hour in the hot sun cleaning goo off of Gracie’s leather seat. Gracie is my Honda Odyssey. The chair gets unbearably hot in the Florida sun, so I tossed a clean bathroom rug onto the seat. It prevents rump burn.

Little did I know the rubberized non-slip coating would melt onto the leather. Oops. But Gracie’s all cleaned up now and has a safe un-sticky towel to protect the leather from the sun.  And my butt from the heat.

Tomorrow our “service” dog gets groomed. And all the stupid romance novels I dragged home a couple of days ago get returned to the library.  I managed to get through only one. The Last Debutante. By the end heroine, Daria was no longer a debutante or a virgin.

Waco, Dallas, Kansas City and Chicago–we’re on the way! Whooo Hoooo!

For related posts see below:

How knitting saved my marriage

Road Trip!

Our Phony Service Dog

Romance, mayhap?

How knitting saved my marriage

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I have a wonderful vintage button collection, but still love to purchase buttons I don’t need with money I don’t have.
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This is my latest project.  I’ve found a victim and will ship it in the fall.  Isn’t the  big green button great?  Found it in a Chicago thrift store, as well as those rust colored ones.  They even have a hint of purple. Perfection.

I am an awful knitter…and that’s good because practicing my knitting makes road trips with my husband way less stressful.

When I first began knitting I dropped so many stitches you could fit your head through the holes in my scarves.  So I’d knit patches to cover the holes.  Then I’d sew buttons over the holes in the patches.  My early scarves were really weird.  Twelve inches wide in spots, four inches wide in other places.  But that didn’t stop me from handing those odd rags out to (long-suffering) friends.  One was so heavy and thick I’m pretty certain my buddy had to crawl when wearing…it dragged her to the pavement.

Here’s how my bad knitting has saved my marriage.  I only knit in the car when Jim and I take long road trips.  He hates the way I drive.  I hate the way he drives right back.  He follows too closely causing me to have to press the imaginary brake in the passenger seat foot well.  And occasionally gasp loudly.

I took up knitting so I am looking down when he’s driving.  Eyes on the needles!  We’re both happier that way.

I suppose he hates my driving because I’m quite a bad driver.  I never knew it until a whole lot of people informed me.  I’m slow.  Hands nervously at two and ten.

In 2005 I bought myself a darling Mini Cooper. I chose the fastest engine, manual transmission, British racing green and SO CUTE.  That zoom-zoom engine was totally wasted on me.  I probably never drove that Mini over 55 mph. I swore I’d NEVER sell that car–her name was Maude.

Then, much to Jim’s dismay, I opted to trade Maude in for a mini-van– a baby blue, Honda Odyssey named Stella. We travel with our beloved dog, Bronson. More about him in future posts. I wanted Bronson to have total comfort and several cup holders.

The day we mini-van shopped Jim brought along Maude’s title. He swore he’d only mini- van shop ONCE, so we’d better damn well find the right car that day.

Well, he was wrong. We mini-van shopped twice.  I traded Stella in for a newer, slicker model. Gracie. She’s gray.  Creative, eh? She has a little refrigerator in the front seat. And, happily, she has a fine brake in the foot well of the passenger side.

We’ll take Gracie to Chicago in August.  Jim will be driving.  I will be knitting.  Anyone want a scarf?  I’ve gotten better! Rarely drop stitches, but still add patches and buttons for fun.  All my new friends are Floridians.  I need some cold weather victims. LMK if your neck needs warming up.

honda odyssey                mini cooper