Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Doggerel

Four AM Christmas Day, and all through the house
Are so many WIPs I feel like a louse.
Though most of my gift list was truly unspoken
The ones incomplete feel like promises broken.

One goal, handknit socks for each of my loved ones;
I finished two pair for four daughters* and two for four sons*.
I started a scarf and a pair of warm mitts.
One, I can finish, but the other's the pits.

Presents are wrapped-- except one that's back-ordered
And due in on Thursday--hope I can afford it.
The sheet cake is baked, iced, and well covered,
Green beans are casseroled, with mushroom soup smothered.

I sewed one more stocking for a significant other
Too late, remembered Little Man's expected new brother.
I have too many ideas and not enough time
But I always remember just how blessed that I'm!

(*I'm taking LOTS of poetic license here--!)

Merry Christmas, and God bless you one and all!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thinking about Christmas

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary:

(No, I'm not Jewish; that's not what I said! I'm about as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant as a person can be -- I'm printing a wonderful quote from Ben Stein!)

My confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was
Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those
beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I
don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.
It
doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don’t think
they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of
like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy
time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on
display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a
crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away .
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who
believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no
idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country.
I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my
throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that
we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we
understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a
lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the
America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another
for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s
not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane
Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding
Katrina); Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She
said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years
we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government
and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has
calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His
protection if we demand He leave us alone?"
In light of recent
events…terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when
Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained
she didn’t want prayer in our schools , and we said OK.
Then someone said you
better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou
shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr.
Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because
their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem
(Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s
talking about. And we said OK.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children
have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t
bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably,
if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has
a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."


Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder
why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but
question what the Bible says . Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and
they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the
Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and
obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is
suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing?
Funny how when
you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list
because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for
sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of
us than what God thinks of us.
Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not
then just discard it… no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought
process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My
Best Regards.
Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein
Amen

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My September

It's me-- I'm back-- don't know why I've been away for so long --
Well, that's not completely true. There just doesn't seem to have been much to blog about lately. I've been working, and knitting socks, and reading, and watching new TV shows.

I think I'm okay on toddler socks now. I got past my mental block on those, and have returned to working on my current Six Socks Knit Along project, the Victorian Lace pattern.

The first one took me about two months - I didn't keep track of time on it very well, but I finished the first sock right after I got back from seeing the Yarn Harlot in Wichita on September 16.
The delightful Ms. Pearl-McPhee was as entertaining as ever. I admit I had wondered if she repeated the same stories every tour, but her material this time was completely different from when I heard her in OKC last year.

She stood behind a heavy wooden lectern, in the auditorium of the beautiful East Wichita High School, and of course had to pull the mic way down to her level. I had a seat on the right side of the front row, and I could see that as she spoke, she mostly kept her hands in plain sight, holding the edges of the lectern, or gesturing, or turning pages in her notes.



When she opened the Q & A segment, I soon noticed that her hands were very busy behind the lectern, and I remembered to ask her something I had wondered about since last year. When my turn came, I asked her if she would step out from behind the lectern so we could watch her hands, and her fingers were simply flying with her doublepoints. She didn't ever seem to look at her hands. I think she said, "I'm knitting. You all know how to knit, right?" But it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

I continued with the second part of my question, asking how she holds her needles when she uses straight needles. She then told us about the history and technique of Irish Cottage Knitting, and borrowed a scarf-in-progress from the nearest knitter using straights, and demonstrated for us, holding one needle stationary under her right arm, tensioning the yarn with her right hand. She said this is the technique used by the fastest knitters in the world.


Yep, there is such a competition - and I seriously doubt if it has ever been mentioned on ESPN.

I cast on my second VL sock at lunchtime Wednesday, September 19, and finished the leg in eight days. That's some kind of record for me. I'm just past the heel turn now. Maybe there is some truth to that YH sock mojo after all!








I miss my knitting buddies. I was just really beginning to feel like I belong to this group, and now I haven't seen any of them for almost a month, and haven't even made it in to the LYS in that time.

We were SO not ready to vote at the last Knit In, but MG made us do it anyway. We were still throwing in new ideas for names after the vote, and some of them were pretty good. DYYSH Night is my personal interpretation of the winning name - we ARE, in spirit if not in name, the -- (drum roll, please) -- Divine Yarn-Yarn SisterHood!

I nagged at myself this week - even told myself I can't go play with my precious grandson - until I finally put some more work in on my living room remodel. Today I put the trim up around the two doors, and put the treshhold edge down at the front door. There is still a gap, but that must be what that color-matched sealant is for--at least it is now! Wonder how many more tubes of that I will use, compared to what a pro would need.

Now I'm ready for another trip to Home Depot for my baseboards, and when I get them installed I can think of putting the furniture in there like a real living room, instead of it being a woodshop adjunct.

Then that reminds me - I've got to find some space in the garage. It's there, I just can't see it for the clutter. Which in turn reminds me that I really want to replace my garage door, but I am reluctant to take that big bite out of my savings.
I have to stop now and get some sleep. I have a very important Play Date in the morning!

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Ravelry Status - 08/31/07






You signed up on June 23, 2007
You are #10804 on the list.
7 people are ahead of you in line.
19091 people are behind you in line.
36% of the list has been invited so far

Seven to go. Only seven people. Yippee!

Note to www.techcrunch.com/tag/ravelry:
Social Network? Is that what Ravelry is? [I signed up for the same good reason lots of other knitters did - if everybody else wants in, let me in too!]

Social Network? This may be like all those blind men trying to figure out what an elephant is, but my view is WOW! A tremendous database, where I can, oh, look up a yarn in my stash and see how it will work up with a pattern I have in mind. Or maybe if I'm near the end of a project and need one more skein, maybe I can find someone who has one to spare. And just think about doing a pattern search all in one place, not on fifty different websites?

Social Network? That will likely be a side benefit, and maybe primary to some people, but to me it looks very like a really wonderful resource.

And that's MHO.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Put away your white shoes now, darlin'

This has been a really strange summer, weatherwise, but with Labor Day fast approaching I guess we can call it gone. Sorry about the dearth of entertaining reading here, but the days recently have seemed awfully short.

A few of my faithful readers have asked for an explanation of the "interesting"events posted August 11, so I'll tell you about one of those days.

I'm a confirmed procrastinator. There, I said it.

Most days it's a struggle for me to get myself out of the house in the mornings--most days I pull into the office parking lot at the last possible minute. On this particular day, I was feeling pretty good about myself; I refrained from hitting that snooze button "just one more time!" and ate a simple breakfast in time to head out of the house with a few minutes to spare. I'm out the door, arms loaded with purse and knitting bag and water bottle, headed for my car which is, as always, parked nose-out in my driveway, ready to go.

Why is there a puddle of water by the garage door?

I looked up, stupidly. The sky was clear. No recent rain dripping off the roof. And then I knew. I threw my stuff into the car, and went back into the house. Yanked open the laundry room door to see what I knew was there-- a floor full of water.

I said a few unladylike words, thanked myself for not having laundered the pile of towels in the floor, shoved them around so I could walk on them from the door to the @#$%@! water heater and turned the pilot to OFF. Went back across the towel bridge, opened the door leading to the garage, and fetched the water key from the garage wall.

Back again to the front yard. Used the key to flip the cover off the water meter, fitted it into the slot and pulled with all my might, trying to turn the water off. The valve wouldn't turn.
No reason to worry; I was wondering why those pieces of rebar were still keeping my garbage cans company beside the house-- I got one of those, slipped it part-way into the steel-pipe handle of the water key to increase my leverage, and gave it all I had. The valve wouldn't turn.

I stood in the middle of my front yard, with tears of frustration rapidly forming, and looked up and down the street, trying to think which of my neighbors might be able to help. Dear Mrs. Carter, a tiny Southern lady who is 80 if she's a day? Mr. Lunday, 90-ish and stone deaf? All the able-bodied souls on my street were off to work already.

I tried the city water department, but I got their voice mail--it was still too early for them. Then I remembered. Our heroic Bethany firefighters are always ready to help. I really didn't think this situation justified a 911 call, no matter how desperate I felt. Instead, I called my younger daughter, who for some obscure reason learned the fire department non-emergency number about 15 years ago and still knows it.

So I called, and my phone call brought me a big shiny red fire truck (quietly - they didn't use their sirens) and two extremely capable-looking bodybuilders, um, firemen. They applied my water key to the valve, added my rebar extension, and rippled all of their lovely muscles. The valve wouldn't turn.

We all agreed they probably COULD break it loose, but would most likely break the meter in the process. So one pulled out a radio and called another city employee. That call brought us a pretty red water department pickup, and another pair of valiant men. (Maybe not as impressive-looking as firefighters, but they had a much bigger water key than mine.) One put the key in the slot, and applied all his strength. The valve wouldn't turn.

The second water department guy went back to the truck and returned with a long wrench to use as a cheater bar, and the two tried again. With much loud complaining of metal-on-metal, the valve finally turned. Our heroes turned it back and forth a couple more times to loosen it up, but we all agreed that they certainly hadn't had to turn my water off in a very long time. So much for paying my water bill promptly all these years.

I thanked them and they all drove away, but my ordeal was not over. I still had a leaking water heater, and I knew I needed to call a plumber. [A moment of silence here.] There is some dark humor in that statement. I haven't had to call a plumber since 1976. I was married to the best plumber in town for 26 years, but he quit this life a couple of years ago, and now is resting where faucets don't leak and toilets don't clog. Probably drinking a cold beer and enjoying a cigarette.

So I called our friend at the supply house, and asked him who I should call. He recommended a local third-generation plumber who came out promptly (Honest! He was there by 10:30 am and finished in two hours!) and did a quick and efficient job of replacing the tank.

We got to talking about his dad (retired) and my husband (deceased) and his grand-dad (deceased), who all knew each other. We shared a few laughs and shed a few tears. I learned that his grand-dad was the same nice old man with a smile in his eyes who, twenty years ago, would order blueberry pie down at the local restaurant, then would say the slice was too big and would give me half.

I love blueberry pie.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More random stuff

On this day in 1953, Nippon Television broadcasted Japan's first television show, including its first TV advertisement. In 1937, Toyota Motors became an independent company. In 1907, UPS was founded by James E. Casey in Seattle, Washington. In 1898, Caleb Bradham renamed his carbonated soft drink "Pepsi-Cola". In 1884, the first known photograph of a tornado was made. In 1859, a geomagnetic storm caused the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly that it was seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe and as far afield as Japan. And in 1845, Scientific American magazine published its first issue. Happy Birthday LeAnn Rimes (1982), Jack Black and Jason Priestley (1969), Shania Twain (1965), Jennifer Coolidge (1963), Emma Samms (1960), Scott Hamilton (1958), Daniel Stern (1957), Ben Gazzara (1930) and Donald O'Connor (1925).

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." - Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, 1977

Monday, August 27, 2007

Adding to my vocabulary . . .

BACN: Bacn (pronounced "bacon" and a creative misspelling along the lines of site names
like Flickr) lies between e-mail and spam; it's all that stuff you do want but which is low-priority and which you often don't have time to read.
Better than SPAM?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interesting Times

It has been an "interesting" week, to say the least. I could write pages and pages about each day, but I think I won't. At least not all, and not now.
Think of this as an outline:
Sunday I spent a pleasant afternoon with cousins Jan, Beth, and Joyce, and Aunt Pauline.
Monday morning I attended the funeral of a man I never met.
Monday evening three small boys mowed my front yard.
Tuesday evening cousin Joyce and I experienced a miracle, then went to see Bourne Ultimatum.
Wednesday evening my son-in-law mowed my back yard and re-mowed my front yard.
Thursday morning I was visited by two firemen, two city workers, and one excellent plumber.
Friday was almost uneventful.
I can't wait to see what Saturday holds.

It's a learning curve, I guess

I know, I'm up too late again. I had to finish an entertaining novel, then decided to check for email and read my favorite blogs.
The first blog I opened gave me great comfort. I learned that the Yarn Harlot, who can knit socks with her eyes closed and has probably made thousands of them, can have the same problems as I, who can count all my completed pairs of socks without using all my fingers.
A couple of weeks ago I made a pair of top-down socks for my little grandson, age two. They took me less than a week of spare minutes, and they turned out well. I made them both at the same time, on one circular needle, except for when I separated them to do the heels.
I was (and still am in spite of everything) feeling newly proficient with my sock skills.
I now know how to turn a heel, thanks to the 'recipe' in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules. I've memorized the Kitchener process, thanks to Susan Pierce Lawrence's instructions. Both are in my head. I no longer need to look at step-by-step illustrated instruction.

I tried the finished socks on the cute little feet.
Too short.
I snipped a couple of stitches, removed the toes, added a few rows, including a couple of stripes in a different color for visual interest (I didn't have another color of the same yarn) and reknitted the toes. Length is okay, but the contrast stripes are not stretchy enough. Too tight. His mom said he likes to put them on his hands and play with them.

I looked at the two neat little sock-toes that I had amputated; it seemed a shame to frog or toss two well-Kitchenered toes, so I picked up stitches and started knitting upwards. Would this the second pair, or the third? It felt like three.
Finished the heels, tried them on his wiggly feet.
Too long.
Frogged the heels plus a few rows, reknit the heels, topped them off with 2x2 ribbing. Sock perfection! (No picture; they look just like the first ones, only longer.)

Tried them on his little pink piggies.

Too tight.
Aaarghhh!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Random Thought








<<< Recommended reading for anyone who speaks, reads, or writes in English: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss.

The other must-have reference, the famous "little book", has only 71 pages. >>>

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pretty things

July 9, 2007: Southwestern Sky









July 23, 2007: Northwestern sky:









and . . .
July 27, completed Theo socks:
Hope God gets as much satisfaction out of his handiwork as I do mine!

Thinking Swiftly, Again

Results of Sunday's project, pictured here:









After I realized that not all skeins are created equal, I added another set of peg sockets to YarnSwift v1. Hope the palm prints on my forehead aren't permanent. In the picture on the right, below, you may notice the yarn forms a diamond rather than a square - I used two middle pegs and two inner pegs to take up the slack that you see in the picture on the left. It wobbles a bit in action, but it still works.
Oops, that's Version 2 in that picture on the right. Same concept, though.
I added more spacers below the arms to make room for the wobble.









By this time I knew that I will want even more options on the spacing, so I drilled more holes in the arms of YarnSwift v2, then cut and glued some thin pieces to put bottoms on the holes. I found some unused trim wood just in time to keep me from cutting up my yardstick. (Click to enlarge, if you like.)









Both versions work, but I'm not really satisfied. Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett. There will be a Version 3!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stupid clock!

Before I left the office for lunch today, I went to the ladies' room. When I came out, I looked at the clock in the kitchen, which said it was about a quarter to one.
I went to my car, drove maybe a mile to Wendy's. Ordered my food, worked part of a crossword while I ate, cleaned up my food trash, and got out my knitting. Looked at the time on my phone so I would know how much time I had left, and it said 1:59.
I couldn't believe it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to do those things, but I thought maybe I got distracted by the crossword. Could happen.
I put away my socks and went back to work. First thing, I went to take another look at the kitchen clock.
Even now, at five pm, it still says it's a quarter to one.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Random Thought

Whatever happened to "of"?
We used to say "a couple of gallons" or "a couple of dollars" and so forth.
For the past couple of years or so, from all I hear on TV or read in the newspaper, there must be a shortage of "ofs". They say "a couple days" or "a couple miles" which just sounds wrong to me.
And then there's "done" instead of "finished."
I'm done. Poke me with a fork.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lazy Sunday

It took me a while to get motivated today, but I finally finished something! Actually two somethings - I started them a week or two ago, but had to keep going back to my favorite toy stores (Home Depot and Hobby Lobby) for more stuff.
I haven't even sanded it or swept up the sawdust yet, but I had to show off my YarnSwift.v1, patterned after the CraftyGirl's yarn swift. (I may have more versions to come - I keep thinking of ways I'd rather do certain parts.)

The pegs on the arms of this swift are doll pins, held in place by doll pin stands. The stands are glued to the arms, and the pins are removeable. Thanks, Anna - you got me looking in this department at HL when I made those spindles!

I made another one with dowel rods in holes, but technical difficulties are still hindering that one. I was unable to find wood in the dimensions I wanted (1" x 1") so I could drill the holes only halfway through, so I settled for thinner wood (actual size 1.25" x 0.25") and drilled all the way through. Now I need to figure out how to keep those pegs in place and have them still be removable. I will propably attach another layer of the same size underneath.

Oh, yeah - remember that Carpenter's Mantra, "measure twice, cut once"? I would like to add, "buy twice as much material as you think you'll need, because you'll need it."

Now I can wind all that yarn I've recently added to my stash . . . and I can start over on my Mystery Stole 3. I like a challenge, but laceweight merino with #10 seed beads? That's more than I am ready to take on. I'm regrouping to start again with fingering weight and #8 beads. Pix later - nothing to show yet.

I did finish a washcloth for the gift project that Anita is organizing - I'll say no more in case it's a surprise to the "giftees", but here's my modest contribution. Hope the loop is not inappropriate. The pattern is Traveling Vine Cloth by Smariek Knits.
I'm also making a pair of socks for a certain young gentleman in my family, in baby cashmerino, working them both at the same time on one circular needle. I'm halfway through the gusset and I've only gotten lost once, so I feel pretty good about it! I'm using Stephanie Pearl-McFee's recipe in Knitting Rules! for a general guide.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hello?

Is anyone there?
I don't expect this to ever be a high-traffic blog, but if you read it at all I wish you would leave me a note to let me know you dropped by. If I've got Caller ID here, I haven't figured out yet how it works.
So, let me know, okay? Thanks!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Independence Day, plus four

Since July 4 fell on Wednesday this year, I took two vacation days to make it a five-day weekend. My objectives; rest, knit, cut and install door trim in living room.

Overslept the morning of the Fourth and missed the parade. First day in three weeks without rain! Went to the park for festivities with grandson Theo and family, but the humidity really zapped me. I couldn't wait to get back into my air-conditioned house. (Sam has all the pictures of Theo and the Petting Zoo - if he'll share I'll plug in a couple here.)

I spent more time reading and napping than I intended this weekend. The first day I couldn't seem to stay awake to finish a chapter.

On the New Book shelf at the library, I discovered an exceptional new author, Craig Johnson. His protagonist is a county sheriff in Wyoming, and the character development and imagery are wonderful. I read his first two novels in this series, Cold Dish and Death without Company, and have his third on reserve at the library.
Also read two William Tapply novels; I have long enjoyed his Brady Coyne novels, and he recently started a new series with character Stoney Calhoun, an amnesiac with, of course, surprising talents. Reminds me a little of that John Doe TV series that was on a few years ago. Was it Meet John Doe?

Both of Tapply's series are set in Maine and include heavy doses of fly-fishing information. He does some non-fiction in that field, but that doesn't really interest me.

You may notice a trend here; I like mystery/adventure/crime novels, whatever you call them, but in my favorites the people seem real, and the location is at least as important as the characters and the plot. The best authors are the ones that can make me feel like I've been there. Tony Hillerman has shown me lots of Arizona and New Mexico; Dana Stabenow makes me want to visit Alaska. Author Nevada Barr's character, Anna Pigeon, is a US National Park Ranger, and each novel is high adventure in a different Park.

On a lighter note, I've been reading the knitting mysteries. I read Maggie Seaton's A Killer Stitch this week. I'm not really a fan of the yarn-and-cat mystery genre, but they are sometimes fun for a change. I like comic strips too.

I try to always have a book-on-CD in my car for reading-while-driving and often for reading-while-knitting on my lunch break. This week I finished Nevada Barr's High Country, set in Yellowstone Park, along with my SixSoxKAL Horcrux socks. Gotta get another CD book.

My finished Horcrux socks are shown at left; the color looks a little washed out in this picture; the darkest shades are actually a deep cranberry red.
I don't really like or even agree with the name for this pattern, because of its connotation. The zig-zag in the leg of the sock may represent Harry's Potter's lightning-bolt scar, which was inflicted in an attack by an evil wizard, but unless the scar or Harry himself is revealed to hold a part of that evil wizard or his soul, I don't think the name is appropriate for the sock pattern. I've read the Harry Potter books, but if the scar was identified as an actual horcrux, I missed that part. Which is always possible; I'm not one of the dedicated HP fans that keeps track of everthing. I just love a good story (see previous paragraphs).

I really enjoyed Tuesday night's Mystery Stole knit-in at GY; it's wonderful to see how many different ways these creative ladies interpret the same pattern. It's also encouraging to see my own progress compared to others using the same (insanely tiny) yarn. You can see a bit of the rose-colored yarn in the center left of the shot at left, attached to one of the twist-tie bead hooks that I made to insert my #10 clear glass seedbeads into my project.
Double-click on the picture so you can see what's there.

I also started two alternate knit projects so I can rest my mind and eyes with something easier than those tiny fuzzy stitches; one pair of socks (on one circular needle) and one washcloth.
I frogged the socks after four or five rows; they looked more like baby hats than socks.

I'm trying to find just the right project for this beautiful skein of Wooly Wonka merino, DK weight, that I won in Kim Gibson's recent online contest, but even on size 1 needles, socks it is not.
This picture shows all the goodies that Kim sent me for my silly answers to her silly questions. I was amazed at the amount and quality of the loot. Thanks again, Kim!

My washcloth projects are still up in the air; I started a garter-stitch border but haven't settled on a stitch pattern. This may visit the frog pond for a restart too. I usually find it is better to have something in mind before beginning(!). Freeform knitting has not yet found its place in my hands.

Saturday evening was another fun time at Gourmet Yarn's as yet nameless fiber arts get-together. I squeaked by once more without winning Margaret's Problem Child award, but also did not win a food prize with my contribution of mayo for David's burgers. Oh well, can't win 'em all! I did have one of those credit card accidents - I now have yarn for my SixSoxKAL Victorian Lace socks. And some different washcloth yarn, at least one of which is from the sale rack.

I finally pulled myself out of my torpor; I set up the miter saw to cut the trim for the doors in my living room. I cut the uprights and the crosspiece for the front door successfully - woohoo! Then I measured and cut the uprights for the door into the hall, stood them up for a look, and one side is too short. Apparently I ignored the Carpenter's Mantra: Measure Twice, Cut Once and cut the miter the wrong direction - it angles down from the point I marked, instead of up. This means another trip to Home Depot. Darn my overconfidence!

Daughter Sarah dragged me out of the house Sunday afternoon for a shopping trip. She knows how I hate shopping, so she forced/helped me to pick out some summer clothes. What would I do without her!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Random Thought

Is it just a USA thing that newspeople now measure distance by football fields?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer Safari, June 10

A Profusion of Wildlife:









Brilliant Safari Director:









Al Fresco Chef:









Intrepid Hunter:





There's a video clip that belongs here, but I'm having trouble finding how to add it in . . .
Aha! There it is!
video

Friday, June 8, 2007

How I Spent My Grandson's Birthday

Our Theo was two years old yesterday, and I didn't even talk to him all day.

Early Thursday morning, I learned that sweet Aunt Thelma had passed away Sunday night, and her funeral service was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. (She wasn't really my aunt; she was my dad's cousin, but that's just too complicated.)

I read the email message from Donna just before I went to work at 8 am. After just a little thought, I left work at 9 am, topped off my gas tank, and drove up to Hutchinson, arriving just in time for the 1 pm service.






It was a very nice service at the funeral home, with a good turnout. Harlen and Thelma have accumulated many good friends along the years. There was a soloist - a little white-haired man - with a nice tenor voice.

After a prayer at the graveside, we went back to their church for a meal and conversation. A few of us (quite a few! there were 25 or more) went to Harlen's home. Their son ran a DVD photo slideshow from Harlen and Thelma's 70th anniversary celebration the previous week.
Seventy years, and they were still having fun together!


Here's a link to the funeral home and to Thelma's obituary and guest book. Her picture that you will see is from the anniversary party - she and Harlen were cutting the cake. They blocked out Harlen and the background to show Thelma in her pretty new pink dress.


I had mentioned to my Kansas-raised cousins that I needed to find a birthday gift for my friend Alice. On Ann and Lori's recommendation, I went to the Carriage Crossing in Yoder just south of "Hutch". It was nicer than I even imagined. I think I fell in love with the place when I touched the front door-- the handcrafted door with the clear beveled glass pieces separated by carved wood in the shape of a leafless tree, and the carved wooden woodworking tools decorating the lower panel of the door.

I think I looked at every item in the gift shop before I made a decision.
I found two little cast metal coathooks. Each had one bird, side view, with two hooks angled out from below the feet. Maybe cast iron, pretty heavy. I thought I would get one of them for Alice, whose birthday is today.
Then I thought I would get the other one for myself. They were really inexpensive. Then I thought I should give her both of them. I may not decide for sure until I wrap her gift--I still have a few hours.
I looked for something for Theo, but didn't find anything that seemed just right. Wonder if he would like a little bird to hold his favorite boots?

It was such a lovely place I thought the restaurant would have good pie, and that a slice of pie really would hit the spot with a hot cup of coffee. Then I realized I actually was getting a little hungry, so I ordered a roast beef sandwich (rather than a dinner - I was saving room for pie) with a cup of coffee, and then asked what kind of pie they have. My young waiter's eyes got real big and he said "We have a LOT" so to speed things up I just asked for blueberry.

I learned that they make about two dozen different kinds of pie every morning and forty or more on weekends. The bread for my sandwich was homemade, toasted just right, the beef was tender and flavorful, the tomatoes were ripe and red, the coffee was good - none of it could have been any better. Many thanks to Ann and Lori for telling me about this place!

I may just have to go back to try another variety of pie. It's only 200 miles from home.

It made me think of the movie 'Michael' and the scene in the restaurant, when they all ate pie and the angel Michael (John Travolta) told Dorothy (Andie MacDowell) it was time for her to sing. Remember?

My memory isn't really that good. I had to go look at www.imdb.com to get all the names right.

When I drove back toward the highway, with the late afternoon sun painting the green grass gold, I saw an Amish horse-drawn wagon approaching on a side road.
All things considered, I had a really good day. I hope Theo did too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mixed Blessings

My last chick has left the nest and bought a house of her own. I'm very proud of her, but I told her older sister I felt a little sad to see her go. She cheered me up by reminding me, "You must have done SOMEthing right; she's leaving!"

I realized this morning that last night I had just spent the first night in my life in a house where no one else lives. Not my first night to be alone, but the first time ever to be in my own home with no one else in residence. No parent, no roommate, no spouse, no child, no pet. Just me.

Yep, just me, with a bathroom of my own. A washer and dryer of my own. A thermostat of my own.

Maybe I should call in the house keys from my grown-up kids so I can run around the house naked if I want to.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day!

Yesterday, nobody had a plan for What To Do About Mothers Day.

From elder daughter: "Is anybody planning to do anything for all of us mothers in our family?" Me: "Have you talked to your siblings lately?" She: "Well, no . . ."

From middle-child: "Mothers Day is TOMORROW?!! Nobody's gonna get ANYthing!" (It's the week between paydays for him.) "What do you want?" Me: "A geranium?"

From younger daughter: "What do you want for Mothers Day?" Me: "Quality time?"

I went to the grocery store to pick up - I promise! - only two things, then decided I should make a backup plan in case the kids, with their dizzyingly busy lives, didn't talk to each other. Can't have anyone going off on a guilt trip, or me having a pity party. So I bought the makings for tacos and a fruit salad. Tried to call the younger daughter (she's the one who makes things happen) but only got her voice mail. Called the son and told him what I had done; he said he would call his sisters.

Younger daughter called me later, invited me to go to church with her this morning.
I resisted - "I can't wake up that early. I don't have anything to wear. I need to cook the tacos."
She insisted - "We'll go to the late service. I'll pick out your clothes. I'll help you cook when we get home."

She picked me up, made me pick out my own clothes. We heard a nice sermon about family relationships that brought tears to my eyes. Why did he only talk about husbands and wives when so many of us are alone? I wanted to leave but I toughed it out. Didn't want to embarrass this wonderful girl.

On the way back to my house, we picked up elder daughter, granddaughter, and the queso sauce and brownies they had made (Who knew?); stopped and picked up tortilla chips and Dr Peppers. We got to the house to find there was even MORE to the plotting behind my back; daughter-in-law was cooking and slicing and chopping and mixing while son added leaves to the table, set out the plates, and kept an eye on the grandson. Son-in-law came and joined us after he got off work, completing the crew.

We had a yummy meal and a lot of laughs. After we finished eating, the little one insisted we go out and "wing" - he really likes his Grammi's new porch swing. My granddaughter, age 15, actually let me show her my 1964 high school yearbook with the girls in bouffant hairdos and skirt and sweater sets and the boys with short haircuts and button-up shirts with the tails tucked into belted pants. She thought my cat's-eye glasses were weird.

After they went home, I sat in my porch swing and finished the heel on the sock I am knitting.

Thanks, kids! It was a great day. Happy Mothers Day, everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How many Colorsburgs are there?

I just had this off-the-wall thought about the coincidence of recent tragedies in towns whose names begin with a color and end with "-sburg". So, naturally, I googled "blacksburg knitting" and "greensburg ks knitting" and found that each city has a group accepting knitted squares with which to make afghans.Just in case you wanted to know, or have a yen to knit or crochet squares...

The Greensburg project has no color preference, but my brain says green for Greensburg:

http://specialstuff.typepad.com/sugar_bunny_boulevard/2007/05/rebuilding_gree.html

The Blacksburg project prefers Hokie school colors of maroon, burnt orange, black, and white:

http://mosaicyarnshop.blogspot.com/2007/04/mosaic-yarn-shop-is-asking-that-all.html

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Don't pay the ransom, I escaped!

I know, it's been a long time. It's my procrastination kicking in again. I think I should post something here, then I think I need to include a picture, but I don't have my camera handy, and my cellphone cam pix are just not really very good.
So, what have I accomplished since you last heard from me? Well, I haven't gone out and bought the materials I need for my door frames and baseboards, but I have made the measurements.

I filed my taxes. This is the first year since 1975 that life has been uncomplicated enough for me to do this without an accountant.

I put together the porch swing the kids got me for Christmas. I know, it's been a long time since Christmas, but the weather hasn't been nice enough to use a porch swing until recently. I picked a beautiful day in April
and got all the stuff out of the box
and put it all together.
Then I had to make sure it worked okay. Alice came over and we sat and swang and looked at the neighborhood. Even talked to some other neighbors who were outdoors. It was really nice; everyone should have one of these things!

It was really easy to do, especially compared to laying a floor. I didn't have to cut a single thing to make it fit together.

A much less pleasant task
was unstopping the tub drain, but I still got that heady feeling of wow-I-CAN-do-this-myself! Made me feel really good when one of the good ol' boys told me about paying eighty dollars to have someone else do it for him.

On a more fragrant note, I finally started a sock! I signed up for Susan's Horcrux Knitalong almost a month ago, and I have finally made some progress.

Just for the record, the yarn is J-Knits's hand-dyed Superwash Me - Light Sock merino wool, color "Massachusetts." The needles are KnitPicks double-points, US size 2.

I made a pair of these back in February, using Susan's Horcrux pattern for worsted-weight yarn. Those worked up more quickly - fatter yarn, fewer stitches.

That's probably not all my news, but I think I'll go enjoy my knitting for a while before I can keep my eyes open no longer. G'night!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A full week of birthday celebration!

In the troublemakers' corner at the family-owned restaurant we like to call the South Bethany Country Club, there is a multi-generational assortment of characters that rotates through there most Saturday mornings for a meal or just coffee and always to touch base with each other. This has been going on for 30 some-odd years or so. We've been through a lot together.
Several of these individuals - we're not cohesive enough to be called a group - like to remember and recognize each others' birthdays. And because my kids and I couldn't manage to get together on the actual day, we agreed on 10:00 AM on Saturday. That worked out well, since it put my family group and my friends in the same place at the same time, and for some, for the same purpose.
My dear friends put a lot of thought into the gifts they brought me. Not expensive gifts, not the generic oh-this-will-work-for-anyone gifts. They know me, they know what I like, they know what I need. I love them all.

I feel a little sad for people who think they are too grown-up to celebrate their birthdays.

M-T-W-Th-F

There's always so much to do after a vacation. So, it was just work work work as usual. Except for Wednesday, which was my birthday. My very excellent boss brought doughnuts and everyone had signed one of those tastelessly hilarious cards for me. I love it.
This is not just any birthday, this one is one of those very round numbers. The first digit has a very round aspect, and the last digit is absolutely round. The best part of that is that now I qualify for a Senior Discount at almost every place in town - except those hardnoses that insist you must be 62 or even 65. Can you believe some even ask for ID - as if we Baby Boomers would lie!

My friend Alice and I have been treating each other to birthday dinners for several years now, and we always try to choose a place where we'll both enjoy the meal. This time we decided to go to Golden Corral, where one can be totally satisfied on a wide variety of excellent food. The only downside, if it is one, is that there are so many foods that look so good. If I took only a tablespoonful of each item that appealed to me, I would have had three heaping platesful. They should furnish wheelbarrows to roll people out to their cars. Thanks, Alice!

Ketchup

I know, it's been over a week since my last post. I didn't really think this blog was going to write itself, but I thought I could keep up better than this.
I'll try here to bring things up to date. That fifth day of vacation (Friday) I didn't get much done on the house. Thursday night I had picked up the Blue and Gold fundraiser stuff and hauled it home and crammed it in the second fridge, so Friday morning I got it all repackaged with names written on plastic grocery bags, loaded it into the car, and headed out to make deliveries.
Then my cellphone rang.
I got everything delivered, but then I went to pick up my son [this IS a blog, do I have to call him DS?] to take him to the doctor. He had started the day with a vision problem, which evolved into a severe headache with vomiting. Scared me--I've seen all those TV shows about brain tumors and strokes and macular degeneration, but I'm trying to be calm and cool and work on my knitting while I'm trying to hear through the door what the doctor is saying to him.
DDIL is being so cool - she went on to work like nothing abnormal was happening.
Apparently it was "just" a migraine headache. He's never had one before. Why now? He got his prescriptions filled and started feeling better, so we got to enjoy a lunch together at three in the afternoon.
I had to frog everything I had knit and reknit it later. I had so many mistakes.

I can't remember now what I did Saturday. I know I got some of the hall floor laid, because Sunday morning, while the rest of the world is in church, I got the hardest part of the whole thing finished. There is a reason they tell you to do the longest wall first. That goes triple when that longest wall has multiple doors and things in the way to keep you from having any leeway in lateral positioning while you've got the whole length pulled up at an angle to snap the new pieces in. It worked, though, so I'm pretty sure God still loves me. My whole family got to have Easter dinner at my "new" table in my "new" living room with the NEW floor.
The kids brought lasagna and salad and garlic bread and made my favorite cake in honor of my birthday (on Wednesday). Good thing there were no candles - I had no strength left after the floor episode.
How do you spell adorable grandson in blogese--DGS? He arrived in a cranky mood. Didn't want to sit in his highchair, didn't want to eat the bread his mom gave him (which is such a favorite with him she usually keeps it for last), just wanted to cry and say No No No. Then he took my fork and started eating lasagna out of my plate. We had so much fun with that, he forgot all about being a grouch.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

How I Spent My Easter Vacation, Day Five

I am blown away. I posted an item on OKCFreecycle Thursday night and had twenty-three responses by Friday evening. Said item was picked up Friday morning, making the recipient happy with the free item, and making me happy at recovering about 30 cubic feet of garage space.
Most of the day was taken up with errands and family stuff.
I got two courses of flooring laid, running from the living room down through the middle of the hallway. Measured and marked the cuts for the sides of the hallway.

Friday, April 6, 2007

How I Spent My Easter Vacation, Day Four

Thursday morning: Today I learned how to uninstall carpet. I laid in the floor and, using a nice wide Phillips screwdriver and a carpenter's hammer, pried up the metal edge trim at the doorway (Ha! this little hall has SIX doors) and peeked under it. I know, I should have used a prybar but I couldn't remember where I put it and the screwdriver was right there. I was gentle with him, he's okay. Behind the trim I found tackstrip. I pried that up and peeled the carpet back as far as the next two doors; carpeted bedroom on one side, vinyl covered bathroom floor directly opposite.
Do you have any idea how much dust can hide under a carpet in twenty-some-odd years? I went and found a red bandana to wear cowboy-style over my nose and mouth.
Pried up metal edge at bathroom door, found and cut seam tape at bedroom door.
Have I told you how much I love my new utility knife? It is very very sharp and the handle is a beautimous red, and today I learned how to change the blade. Didn't even nick myself!
After cutting loose the carpet at three more doors (bedroom, bedroom, linen closet) and removing all the tackstrip, I sat on my rear the rest of the morning pulling staples out of the floor.
I forgot to mention rolling up the carpet and pad and hauling it outside, which brought up memories of every movie I have ever seen with a body rolled up in a carpet. In reality, that would be way too heavy for one person to carry. Just in case you ever needed to know that.

After a well-deserved lunch break and much meditation I decided that I really must paint those baseboards in the hall BEFORE installing any more floor. So, without procrastination (Me, I said that!) I pulled out my last Magic Sponge and cleaned from floor to as high as I can reach, got my brush, my bucket of white trim paint, and my roll-around stool, and painted all the baseboards plus all the trim about halfway up.

Don't panic - I promise I will paint it all the way up, but I really need to finish the floor before I run out of vacation! The trim will probably need a second coat. I'll sand it a little and then do that. It won't be hard to cover that small area of floor and tape it securely.
I don't know yet what color I want to paint the hall; something light, some color that makes an easy transition between living room and bedrooms. Trim will be white throughout the house, eventually. The ugly green will be no more!


I am Woman! Hear me ROAR!

No, my knees are not naked. You are looking at The Most Important Tools for installation of a laminate floor; knee-pads, rubber hammer, tapping block, and do-rag.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

How I Spent My Easter Vacation, Day Three

Wednesday: After a trip to the hardware store for a new rubber hammer and a pair of knee-pads (Money well spent!) plus a few other errands, I am almost all the way across the living room - only two and nine-tenths more rows to the east wall. Here, however, is a critical point, where the hallway door interrupts the south wall. I really want the new flooring to flow into the hall, with no seam or threshhold at this door. I am terrified, but determined to proceed.

I weighed myself today. Another four pounds gone! Sweat equity, indeed.

How I Spent My Easter Vacation, Day Two



Tuesday: Up bright and early about ten o'clock, (I AM on vacation, remember?) had breakfast, got dressed, and went to work. Laid two rows of laminate before a lunch break, learned all kinds of difficult things about fitting pieces together. Made it about one-third of the way across the room before calling it a day. Decided I need a new rubber mallet because the crumbly head kept flying off. And leaving rubber crumbs everywhere.

How I Spent My Easter Vacation, Day One


I took the week off so I could install my floor. I figured I'd knock it out in about three days, buy/cut/install the trim in the next day or two, and have the weekend to relax and catch up on knitting and TV.
It is working out almost to plan -

Day One, Monday: (you didn't think I would start before a relaxing weekend, did you?) I went through the garage and the shed, gathering the tools I needed. Evaluated the situation, went to Home Depot (the place where I spend all my money now instead of in the usual places) intending to buy one 14.4 volt battery and a fine-toothed blade for the circular saw and a couple of fine-toothed blades for my ancient jigsaw.

Fell in love with a battery-powered jigsaw, and started adding up the costs of same, plus battery (everything is 18 volt now) and charger, plus the 14.4 volt battery, plus the blades, and found that I could buy a whole new kit of power tools with charger and two batteries, and the blades, for almost the same amount. I spent the afternoon reading the instruction manuals. I love tools.
No visible work done on Monday.