Happy Birthday Katy or There is Something Wrong with this Sock?

This blog could have so many titles.

Something like “Got Gauge? NO!” would work.

Or “Too Smart for my own Socks.”

Or “Oops! There will be a slight delay in your Birthday present!”

I decided to knit a pair of socks for my sister in law Katy’s birthday which is today! Happy Birthday Katy!!!!

She has petite feet, not much bigger than her daughter Taylor’s feet. I picked a sock yarn I thought Katy and Taylor would like. Obviously Taylor would need to approve of the yarn choice in order for this to be a successful project. I thought I had done well in my choice of an easy care washable wool ( for Katy who does the laundry) in pink with a metallic fiber and soft grey irregular stripes (for the almost six year old Taylor who LOVES pink). The metallic fiber was to give the socks a bit of glam. Katy lives nearby in the eternally wet north woods, but that doesn’t mean her socks and therefore her life can’t have glam.

A couple nights ago, when I still thought the project was sailing along well, I read a discussion of gauge in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s latest knitting book Knitting Rules. She had my number inspired me to promise myself I REALLY would knit a proper gauge swatch on my next sweater project, so I would no longer have sweaters the size of small countries. Really, I would deal with that lazy enthusiastic streak that saw me skipping over doing a gauge swatch. With a gauge swatch under my belt, it would be much more likely that I would knit the project on the right size needles and end up with the right size sweater. This seemed like a sensible alternative to wasting six zillion hours knitting a sweater that would easily fit a small hippo.

As I read her book, I laughed to myself, thinking how great it was that I HAD SOCKS DOWN COLD and didn’t need a gauge swatch for them! I always got gauge with my socks! ( famous last words)

By this time, I had knit the whole top of Katy’s sock with a ribbing so that it would fit on her lovely slim ankle like a…. well fitted sock! I was so impressed with myself that I hadn’t bailed out on ribbing an inch or two into the sock like I usually do, but had kept on doing this tedious ribbing all the way down the ankle part of the sock to give Katy this really nice fit.

I knit the heel flap and then turned the heel. This is always a magic moment as far as I am concerned. Don’t you non- knitters out there WONDER about the magic of socks making that right angle turn? I always did and it amazes me how it is done. But this time my amazement was somewhat dampened by alarm bells ringing. This sock seemed too large. I knit a bit longer and had that unpleasant and all too familiar knitting experience. That sinking I HAVE GAUGE PROBLEM feeling.

I could no longer deny the truth. Katy’s sock was enormous. It was too big for Katy’s foot. Why it was too big for Katy’s husband’s foot too. It was too big for Katy’s husband’s head and he has a big Sheehan head!

Somehow I had knit with a sock wool that was just a tad thicker than my usual sock wool and because I hadn’t knit a gauge swatch, I hadn’t noticed that this thicker wool was going to knit up into a bigger sock….

Suddenly, I had this extra large pink sock on my hands. One of a kind because I don’t know any elephants to give a pair to!

Happy Birthday Katy! Think of me tonight, back to the drawing board to try and do better next May 23rd!




Friday. It’s that day I spend in the gardens. Only today I would need a snorkel or an ark, maybe both, to garden out there. Ironic, isn’t it? My artsy photo of a hose almost covered by water.

I tried to garden. I really did. I went to get a load of mulch in the back of the truck. People at the garden center where I get my mulch spoke to me gently as to a person who has lost her marbles. They wished me luck. The rain was falling so hard on my return to the farm that I threw in the pitchfork and beat a retreat into the house. After all, there is always my other big project calling to me.

Will’s afghan.

I am half done the squares. Maybe, I will get another one done today. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. I have made myself the necessary supplies for the long siege by my knitting basket.


Oatmeal raisin cookies. The milk is chilled too. There might even be a few left when Will gets home, but I wouldn’t plan on it. I mean, knitting is almost as hard work as hauling mulch, isnt it?

Two Shining Lights on a Rainy Day

Early this morning, I was feeling mopey as I looked out the windows at my dear gardens, so wet and full of slugs that a duck might find happiness almost anywhere in them. I was trying to accept that a May spent looking out the window at one deluge falling after another really could be the divine plan.

As I sat there, the phone rang. It was a beloved friend calling to tell me of a difficult encounter in which the man that she loves spoke to her from his personality and disavowed the love between them completely.

As I came into the office to start my day, I found an e-mail from a courageous soul who had been through the worst experience of rape I could possibly imagine. This and my phone call certainly put my concerns about my soggy garden in perspective.

This e-mail also made me think again of what I had said on the phone to my friend with the broken open heart. As we talked, I had tried to separate out my personality’s reaction from anything the divine within me wanted to share.

My friend shares a work space with the man in question. She was due back to work this morning with the conversation of last night a fresh wound. It was difficult for her to consider going back into their shared space. The perspective I was asked to offer her was that responding with retreat was to honor the personality of this man as real, while only divinity is real.

In returning to the space, anchored in her own connection to God and carrying on as best she can in the truth of her own experience of life, she does the most life affirming and powerful thing possible, she inhabits the life God has given her and the truth as she knows it without apology.

His personality had demanded that if she did show up, she needed to put a smile on. In such a remark, I saw his wounds from someone demanding that of him. What the divine encouraged of her, if she decided to return, was to KEEP IT REAL and be who she was. The divine said, “In the courage to be real comes healing”.

It takes so much strength not to respond to someone’s personality with our own personality reaction. I was grateful to be reminded by the divine why it was such a service to our souls to take this scary path of choosing to live our truths in the face of a personality rant.

As I considered the precious soul who went through the trauma of the devastating rape experience, I felt the power and courage in her choices to get up each day, take care of herself in every way she can, acknowledge her sorrows as real, and keep on going until she finds the bead on a new life which integrates all the feelings and experiences she contains.

To give up and see herself as worthless is to responded to the rapist’s personality as if it is a true reflection of her value. Instead, she has chosen a path of love.

But it is so much easier to write this than to do as this soul has done. She has responded to this trauma with acts of self love each and every day since the rape. I bow to this soul and the other soul who returned to work today, both of them choosing to anchor in the divine truth of their infinite value in the face of confused souls yelling a different message.

This person who had been raped did not indicate to me that others in her life wanted her to clean up her feelings and get on with it. But it’s been my experience that personalities often want us to clean up our feelings before it is possible to do that. That is really what the man said when he asked for a smiley face this morning; Sweep your pain under the rug because my personality doesn’t want to know about it.

What this kind of personality motivated clean up leaves us with is an unintegrated life in which our bodies are crying out from the unacknowledged pain they are holding, our minds can go into crazy heart numbing talks like the talking to my friend experienced last night from the man in her life. And our hearts? They can lie unrecognized within us even as they hold the most profound comfort, truth, and healing.

Bravo for these two souls who went to their hearts, stayed in their bodies, chose to be real, and trusted in their own light and its infinite value. What a shining example to us all.

New Bees

I used my silly forty days remark too soon. We are supposed to get at least four more days of rain this week. Jim and I decided it was better to get the bees in during a drizzle late yesterday afternoon than have them sit in the boxes they arrived in for four more days.

After many years with the bees down on their own, in one corner of our property, we moved the bee hives next to the office last year. We thought they might like this warm sheltered spot close to the vibration of the Flower Essences. The shipping and invoicing building is right to Jim’s left in this photo. The passageway to the bottling room is right behind him. Behind the lilac on the right is one of the windows in the bottling area. Last summer the bees seemed to love this warm southwest corner. We loved watching all their activity from our desks.


The queen bee goes into the first hive. All the other bees that arrived with her will follow her into the hive. First, Jim takes off the lid of the hive and removes one frame from inside the hive. The queen arrives separated from her hive in a little box. Jim knocks the plug that holds the queen in her little box out of the hole and places this box down between the frames. Her bees will come and get her out of the box and settled her into her new home.

Sometimes with a restless queen, people leave the plug in and let the queen’s bees eat a hole in the sugar plug to get her out. With the rain, it seemed unlikely that the queen would want to go anywhere but into the relatively dry hive. At Jim’s feet are the bees that will then join the queen in her new hive.
Here Jim is pouring the bees into the hive. With the rain they were cooperative about going right into the hive. Usually there is an enormous swirling cloud of bees at this point but the rain kept them mellow. After our concerned debate all weekend, transferring the bees in the rain actually turned out to be easier and less dramatic than usual.

Here Jim shows the box holding the second queen for the second hive. Jim wears this jumpsuit because he has had some run ins with the bees during which he got stung many times. Theoretically, everything on the suit zips together so that the bees cannot sting Jim, but at one point when the netting over his helmet folded in against his face, Jim got stung twice. I was not wearing a suit while taking these pictures and when I went to brush the bees off Jim and his suit at the end of the job, one bee stung me on my palm.

An ecuadorian shaman told me that bees never sting accidently and that the placement of the stings is always to facilitate a healing for the person or to release pent up emotions. As a consequence, I try to stay very calm and cheerful when I am near the bees. This is easier than it sounds because I love honeybees and they make me very happy. When I get stung, I think of it as serving me and necessary for some reason. I know being relaxed about bee stings is not the way everyone can be about bee stings. I am grateful I can welcome the occasional sting without concern.


Sometimes Jim has to really bang on the box to get the bees to leave their temporary box home. The bees are almost like a liquid unit of moving oneness as they move from box to hive. Here you can also see that some of them did take flight and then found temporary shelter in the folds of Jim’s bee suit.

With the transfer complete, we went inside to watch it rain some more, hoping that the bees would make do with the sugar water we left them. When the rain stops, there will be so many Flowers for them. All the apple trees are coming into blossom and there are so many other Flowering trees right now. We are looking forward to sunshine and visiting the apple trees almost as much as the bees!

Has it been Forty Days Yet?

It’s been a little bit wet here. All my plans to be outside in the garden these last three days came to naught as it has poured almost continuously. I went out long enough to see that the weeds are doing well.

Our new bees arrived but can’t go into their hive until it stops raining. When they go in their new hive, the top of the hive has to come off for a couple of hours while they buzz around, getting settled in. Bees hate rain so we are hoping to wait until it stops before moving them. So far, no break in the precipitation to finesse this transfer.


Here is a new Flower Essence made on a trip to Bennington, Vermont where Lizzy goes to school. Does it surprise you that the Flower is called Dutchman’s Breeches? I will sit down with the Flower soon to ask for data but in the meantime, this new Flower Essence has been the butt of some jokes, pun intended.

I went down to Bennington to see Lizzy dance last weekend and then I was there again this weekend to help with a sprained ankle. During a dance improve class on Friday, Lizzy and another dancer had a run in with Lizzy’s ankle.

This weekend we watched it rain, plied Lizzy with Flower Essences, and suggested she stop trying to dance for just a few moments ( it’s amazing how much moving around one determine dancer can do while keeping her leg elevated on a pillow). There also has also been MUCH debate about ankle problems and whether it is fair to say that the family’s ankle problems come from Jim’s family of origin, not mine.
Jim has sprained his tiny, delicate ankles 7 zillion times. Ben comes in a close second with 6 zillion sprains including an especially dramatic sprain last year in Prague that left his entire foot black and blue for weeks. I have sprained my robust and sturdy ankles but once when I was twelve and barreling down a mountain with no skiing skills to speak of.

Jim claims these facts offer no proof of anything. Gardening, he points out, is not like pick up basketball. Jim comments that had I continued on with my budding ski career then we would have a chance at valid statistical analysis. Point taken, but I still think that while the children got their athletic talents from Jim’s side of the family, they also got their weak ankles from him too. Basically, my gene pool was worn out before we started having children. All of them looked like Jim clones from birth. As one gentleman in the village put it, “You can tell the Sheehans are a poor family, they could only afford one face.”

Back to Lizzy, here she is just a few moments ago on her way back to Bennington with several bottles of Essences and some crutches that she is really looking forward to dancing with.