Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Evening

In the end the shower went beautifully. Karen's mother had planned everything out perfectly. Connie and I stopped at Micheal's on the way out of town and picked up some blue tulle. That ended up being the "icing on the cake"--it looked great, thanks to Connie's talents at arranging things like this. I'll update this post with pictures later when the Aunts catch up. I forgot my camera so I don't have any pictures.

I forgot a LOT of stuff. It's a miracle I had anything with me at all. I had five knitting projects but no slip. All the needles I needed and then some but no shoes for my dress. Enough yarn to knit every baby in PA a blanket but no make-up.

I realized the shoes right off--so we picked up some cheap shoes at Target while replacing a broken camera widget for Connie. I didn't realize the slip until the next morning, so I made some phone calls and someone bought/brought me one. (And then I TOTALLY forgot to ask how much it was and repay them.) Connie gave me use of her makeup. It was all good.

Did I finish the second sweater in time for the shower? No. I was off by about four hours. I finished the neckline and button bands *during* the shower. When Karen opened the other little sweater I held up its sequel. That was the best I could do. I sewed on the buttons before the play that night and I sewed the rest of it together last night while watching a really awful movie with Richard Gere and Winona Ryder.

The Allenberry Resort was really nice and I'm very grateful to my grandmother for hosting us there. We had a wonderful time--although I could have had a wonderful time in a tent in the middle of nowhere with the company we had there.

By this afternoon we were all back here together, albeit quite a bit more tired than we were when the hijinks started on Friday. We did a run to the dairy and then came home and had BLTs, SalmonLTs, LTs--or some variation of--and quiche. Yum. Then, suitably pooped--all the grownups except Chris and I retired to the Bed and Breakfast that is literally around the corner. We put our kids to bed. Now Chris and I are trying to get some work done before our brains cease functioning. It's a losing battle. I may simply set the alarm for "get up early" and try getting more work done tomorrow instead.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I'd like to write that I somehow magically finished that outfit in time for tomorrow's baby shower, but I can't. I can't even say that I've finished the other sweater, but it looks like I still have a prayer of doing that. I don't know if it'll be blocked--but I think it can be done. I can say that the house is mostly clean and most of the laundry is done. I did most of the paying work I had to do this week, but I sure will have a lot to do next week. Sheesh. At least the tomatoes that are in the cold frame are thriving and my radishes are already up. The tomatoes on the back porch (covered at night only with a milk carton)--one dead, one barely hanging on, one oblivious to the cold. Yeah, weird.

I rented a couch. I had to rent a couch because I'm having four people visit next week who cannot sit on folding chairs all day. We don't own a couch. We don't really own that many folding chairs, although we probably own more than people who own couches do. So I rented a couch. That was a funny experience, although not one I care to relive. Suffice to say that the best bluff's aren't bluffs. I was leaving and off to try to beg, borrow, or steal a couch from a neighbor when they changed their tune about what they could or couldn't do for me. (The problem was that I refused to fill out what was basically a credit application to get a couch for one week.) Nevertheless, I'll be glad when they take their rent-a-couch home again. I don't like doing business with them. In the meantime, I have a place for everyone to sit.

I'm very excited about everyone coming to visit and seeing Jason and Karen at their shower. I really hope everyone has a good time--and for that reason, the anxious introvert in me is very worried. Worried I forgot to get someone something they need. Worried I didn't get Baby Oliver enough. Worried I'll bring the wrong knitting project or get to Harrisburg and realize I brought the right knitting project and only one needle. Worried all the kids and Chris will get sick the moment I leave.

I'll feel better after Connie helps me put the diaper cake together. Who knew I could be such a basket case over a disposable diaper sculpture. And while we're on that subject--oh my heck, HOW do people afford to disposable diaper their twins anymore? $17 for 80 little diapers? No, no--let me put this in perspective for you. When Ben and Milo were in size 1 diapers, they went through 25 diapers a day. It would cost us about $150 a month to diaper the little twerps! The next time you hear that a couple is having twins and want to get them a little something, get them disposable diapers!!!!

We switched to cloth, but not till 8 weeks. For the first 8 weeks of twin-dom you don't want to have to stay on top of that much laundry.

My brother and sister-in-law are not having twins, and they are very clever people with very nice jobs, so the diaper issue shouldn't be a problem, but jeez louise.

I couldn't decide what size diapers to get for the diaper cake. None of them were the perfectly white diapers I was looking for. All the diapers "today" have colors are over them. But the diaper cake is supposed to be a decoration at the party--and then break down into totally practical pieces that the mother-and-father-to-be can use for their baby. So you know, I picked the decorations very carefully. A good pacifier set, that sort of thing. But in the diaper isle I was stumped. If I got size six to maximize the height of the diaper cake--well the kid wouldn't wear them till he was practically potty trained. My sister-in-law is petite and unlikely to produce the kinds of freaks of nature that Chris and I make (20 lbs at 4 months). So I waited until a mother with a normal size baby walked by and asked her what size diaper HER baby was wearing. The sixth month old baby was wearing size TWO. So that's what I bought.

Do you see what a total head case I am over this? It's a diaper cake. Noone will care. Connie will make it look beautiful. I got the right kind of pacifier. That's all that counts. I'll bring my knitting to the shower. That will keep me from bursting out with inappropriate comments like, "I got you nursing pads, too--but I didn't think you'd want those in the cake!" or something equally neurotic.

I gotta go knit a sleeve.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More Hubris

So--after temperatures above freezing at night for well over two weeks, the temperature at 5 am this morning was 26.

:::Doing my best Meg Ryan foot stomp from French Kiss:::

There go the tomatoes. I don't have the heart to look.

I'm not completely crushed. Now I've got something to cruise the farmer's market for next Wednesday when we go to Amish Country. I'll wait now and try again in mid-May.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

So yesterday I took all my knitting projects for Baby Oliver over to my local yarn shop to get a reality check. I laid out all of the projects, explained the time constraints . . . we came to the following conclusions:

1. The twelve-month sized outfit will not get done. However, the tunic (sized 6 months) probably could get done if I'd just stop working on the bigger outfit. I haven't acted on this yet, but . . . I'm going to the laundromat tonight to wash two blankets that don't fit in our washer and I guess I'll take the tunic.
2. They have four skeins left of the yarn that I was running out of for the twelve-month outfit. This is good as I can't touch what I have left of it since it's dedicated for the other sweater. Plus I did an internet search for it yesterday morning and discovered that it's discontinued and really hard to find now.

That's all really. I'm still blue about it. Obviously I had a HUNCH this was the case or I wouldn't have taken it over there and said, "Look, I got this, this, this much work, and this much yarn, what do you think? Any hope?"

So, okay, the size 12-month outfit can be a Christmas gift.

[As an aside, one of the owner's of the yarn shop asked me if I'd teach a beginning knitting class. I turned and looked behind me to see who they were talking to. There was noone behind me. I argued. She pointed out that it's just knit and purl. I thought,well, um . . . I told them to ask me again in late May or June or something. I'll think about it.]


Take a nap.
Move some tomatoes to garden.
Buy some hay to keep the tomatoes from freezing.
Walk dogs.
Collect every piece of dirty clothing in the house.
Take a nap.
Turn in some work.
Cook some meals. Feed people.
Clean twins room. Yes, even under the bed.
Strip sheets. Make beds.
Take a nap.
Send twins under my bed to retrieve all the stuff I can't reach.
Do more laundry
Put away the bookshelf of books I found under all of our beds.
Take a nap.

I didn't get everything done that I needed to, but there's always tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A boy and his dog

Jill took this sweet picture :)


I was walking up the stairs to go work on dinner and my desk caught my eye. Do you ever have one of those moments when you suddenly see your life from someone else's point of view? I thought, "Truthfully, the miracle is that I'm productive at ALL at that desk."

And yet--I am. Now, honestly--my desk is at that point right now where I'll feel I have to spend an hour cleaning it and it surrounding area tomorrow. But not tonight. Tonight I'm working on the stuff in that binder and it's going very well. So I'll ride the wave of "going well"-ness and take much of tomorrow to attack the desk, my office--and the rest of the house. The rest of the house doesn't look as bad. But it doesn't look good either. There is Cleaning For Company to do--and the carpet guy is coming Wednesday morning, so tomorrow is as good a day as any.


I was clearly overcome by the fumes from all that new wool when I thought I could seriously finish this baby outfit in time for Saturday. And yet, typical of me, I go on madly trying to work on it, neglecting laundry and everything but the most basic hygiene trying to pull this rabbit out of its hat.

It's at that phase in the creative process where I officially hate it, think it sucks, and that its intended recipient (the baby's mother) is going to fling it at my head and burst into tears when she sees it.

It's probably not that bad. She probably won't do the crying part. But I'm not sure . . . she's got a high-pressure job and the nursery hasn't been painted yet. This ugly outfit could be the thing that pushes her over the edge.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


An awful lot of my life is deadline driven right now. Everything is scheduled around work--except the activities of Max and the twins, where everything is scheduled around when THEY need to be somewhere. Right now I'm racing a baby shower deadline in my knitting (and the baby shower is most definitely winning)' I'm racing the "first aunt arrives on Thursday" deadline; and I'm racing the deadlines of two small math projects. I also have half-a-dozen smaller deadlines associated with my sister's wedding--almost all of which I'm behind on.

So yesterday was a "check worries off list" day. In the morning I checked "get tush to YMCA and exercise" and "get back on your diet" off the list. In the afternoon I checked off "plan meals for the next two weeks" and "make grocery list" off the list. In the evening I checked off "go grocery shopping" and last night I checked off "do first four pages of math project." I felt tired, but relieved by the time I went to bed.

Grocery shopping was interesting. We went at dinner time, so I stopped at McDonald's first and fed the minions to keep grocery shopping from becoming a disaster. I haven't been true, big grocery shopping in, oh, a month--and we were out of everything. The cart we used has this enormous plastic car attached to the front--actually, this one seems to want to look like a UPS 18-wheeler. Ben rode in there and ate his dinner. Milo wanted Mom time, so he somehow managed to accordian-fold his legs to get in the basket seat. After awhile, Ben finished up and wanted to walk around with Max, and the (rather large) grocery cart was full, so we started filling up the cab of the plastic UPS truck, too. Did I mention we were out of everything?

When I got out to the truck I encountered something I'd never seen before. At this point we had two carts because nothing ever fits back well in an over-filled cart, so Max had gone to get a second grocery cart. I unloaded the UPS truck grocery cart and then unloaded the one Max had gotten for us. At the very bottom of the cart there were two grapefruits, bagged and tagged.

We don't buy grapefruits. I haven't eaten a grapefruit in at least a decade. I wondered if Max had grabbed them by mistake when he meant to get oranges. He claimed (and this is possibly quite literally true) that he'd never seen the grapefruits before in his life.

I wasn't going to take them back. I didn't know where they'd come from (left in the cart by a previous shopper? Waiting near the cashier to be reshelved?) but it seemed a sign, so I put them in the cart.

This morning I cut one of the grapefruits in half, sprinkled it liberally with splenda, and had that for breakfast. Not bad. I wouldn't do it without the splenda though. I'm just really not a grapefruit person.

Today is church and knitting and one of those wedding-related projects. Ih, and I put chicken in the crockpot which I will refreeze when it's done. It's for making chicken enchiladas while the aunts are here. That's it. That's really enough.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Very Hungry Preschooler

In the warmth of the spring two twins decided to grow.

One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and -pop- out of their basement came two preschool brothers. They were very hungry.

They started to look for some food.

On Monday, they ate through two peanut butter sandwiches each at lunch. But they were still hungry.

On Tuesday they ate through two more peanut butter sandwiches, two pieces of cheese, two apples, and 8 graham crackers.

On Wednesday they ate through six peanut butter buns (we were out of bread), two pieces of cheese, two donuts, and some fish.

On Thursday they ate through six peanut butter buns, four reduced-fat hot dogs, a serving of nachos, a quart of gatorade, and whatever it was I served them for dinner.

On Friday they ate through two peanut butter bagels and four reduced-fat hot dogs. Their mother put their shoes on and discovered it was suddenly like trying to shove a standard poodle into a teacup poodle's kennel. Mom tweaked the budget and announced it was "buy a new pair of shoes day."

But first, dinner. So the twins ate two pieces of pepperoni pizza, two egg rolls, a serving of potato leek soup, and a serving of chinese pork ribs.

They each bought one pair of new sneakers with the snazzy lights that may elicit epileptic seizures in other children.

Tonight they had a stomachache.

I'm so glad I bought their summer clothes too big last summer. I'm so glad I've been knitting next winter's sweaters WAY too big. They should just. about. fit.

[But you know, the real surprise came with measuring Max for new shoes. Shoes he was wearing: size 5. New shoes will need to be: size 7 1/2. Send me straight to the bad mommy couch. He couldn't find anything he liked tonight so I'll order him something from Zappos tomorrow, but we grabbed his foot measurements while we were there at Sears.]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ants, Aunts, and Dirt

Today Ehrlich was coming to attack our carpenter ant problem, so we had to be out of the house for most of the day. We'd made plans and were sort of chugging along in that direction when the Ehrlich guy showed up over an hour early. Ooops. So we tossed everything in the back of the truck and after running a bunch of errands around town, we drove out to Altoona to the race track.

The twins and I went to the local gas station to get everyone lunch (they make really good sandwiches there) and Chris and Max drove their cars around the track. I tried driving Chris' car, but I'm sorely lacking in hand-eye coordination and I kept crashing, driving backwards, and crashing again. The dogs were trying to take it all in stride but the fact is that there was precious little shade, the water bowl was too small, and it was the warmest day we've had so far in 2006. After a little over an hour, we took pity on everyone and got back in the truck for an air-conditioned ride home. Thor fell asleep in my lap on the way home. Cute.

Once home again Chris got to painting, but all I could think about was the empty garden frame out front and the fact that tomorrow we're supposed to get thunderstorms and Saturday rain . . . so I gave up and put the boys back in the truck and went to Lowe's to get the gravel, dirt, and peat moss and peat hummus I needed to finish the project. While we were there we picked up a few more tomato and pepper plants. Of the tomatoes that Max and I planted, all are doing smashingly except for the four Amish Paste tomatoes--the plants I was counting on to be my canning tomatoes. They just grow slowly and look weak. I haven't entirely given up on them, but I did buy two hearty looking roma tomato plants at Lowe's. Ben and Milo wanted to pick out some plants, too--so I let them. I can't remember what they got but we came home with some pepper plants, too.

I could probably fit a little more dirt in the box, but I don't want to pay for it and I think I have enough in there now to grow something. I lined the bottom with two inches of gravel and then added peat moss, dirt (14 x 40 lbs), and horse manure. Mixing all that was quite the job. When I was done I watered the mix well for no good reason--seemed like a good idea at the time. Tomorrow we'll plant some radish seeds and see if anything grows. Our seedlings have another week of hardening off before they're remotely ready for planting. I don't know whether to go ahead and plant the Lowe's plants or not. Our last day of hard frost is supposed to be April 28th (the average day that is), but no actual freezing is predicted for the next two weeks--it will get close though next Wednesday night. I'm not sure exactly what to do there--but tonight I don't need to do anything.

My hands are a wreck. I'm off to shower, slather my hands with whatever lotion I can find, locate my jammies, and work on baby Oliver's outfit until I pass out. The Aunts start arriving in a week and there's still so much to be done between now and then. I'm glad that the garden/yard is nearly off my list. Oh, that and the ants.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I kicked work booty today. :::basks in feeling of accomplishment::: Doesn't change the fact that I still have gobs to do tomorrow, but it was nice to cross so much off the list today.

Now, I get to reward myself by doing a little bit of knitting. Then, it's off to bed.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Finnish Mittens are "in da howz."

Charlotte's house, not mine--but she'll be bringing them to the shower/Sister Party weekend and we'll be castin on together after the shower. Whoo-hoo!!

No pictures, sorry. We got the grey kit and I can't read Finnish well enough to google up a picture.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yarn in the Early Spring Afternoon Sun

The recital went very well (in large part due to Jill offering to watch the twins for me. God bless her for that.) and we were soon back home. Since it was sunny, I got out the camera. (I've also used up all my "uploading" credits for the month with flickr. oops.)

So here we go. First, some of the new yarn in a big happy Flash-Your-Stash pile.

sockyarn (mountain colors), handpainted originals in sea glass and plum.

This is the mountain colors sockyarn that Max picked out. I just finished casting on this morning. Up till this point I was swatching it.

This is the Jaeger sock yarn that I had frogged, cast on again in zero's.

This is part of an outfit for Baby Oliver. Really, it's all I should be working on, but the yarn is hard to work with--it catches so easily--so I need breaks from it and then I work on whatever else is at hand. It may or may not get done before the shower at the end of the month. It's a generous size 12 months, so it would be okay as a baby gift instead.

A sock for Chris in Manly Men colors.

The first twin's sweater vest in the cotton my grandmother bought for me. It's about a half inch away from the point where I'll have to start the arm holes. Since I don't know how to make steeks, I'll have to switch to back and forth at that point. I added a close-up of the yarn.

This is the blue-and-white striped sweater in prairie silk. Ben accuses me of neglecting this project every time he sees me working on something else, which pretty effectively keeps it close to the top of the list of project to grab when I'm not working Baby Oliver's outfit. It's shown here with the green and white that will become the second sweater of the pair.

This sock is maybe 12 rows further along than the last time I displayed it. It's made with stash yarn and long ago lost its label, although it's definitely wool.

This silk and cashmere lace weight will eventually be an orenburg shawl. Maybe for me.

This is the silk and cashmere lace weight that will become the piano teacher's Orenburg Warm Shawl.

This is a silk and cotton blend that has beautiful drape. It's a baby Oliver sweater. It has to be done before the shower because it's size 6 months.

The Orenburg sampler in the mohair that won't work--but I'm doing it anyway because it's still teaching me the basics of Orenburg lace knitting.

That needs to be finished soon so I can have the rest of the yarn for booties.

This blue and green striped sweater is the same kind of wool I'll be using later in Chris' sweater. I'm not fond of the dramatic color changes in the green, but the blue is very nice and the wool as a whole is incredibly soft and magical to work with. I'm blanking on the name, but it's in my sidebar.

This is the blue sweater for myself that I've been working on for some time now. I always put projects for myself on the back burner. Plus, the yarn is difficult to work with (same yarn as the one for Baby Oliver's outfit). But, it's coming along nicely. I'm about an inch and a half from being done with the back.

And that's all the pictures for today. I'm off to feed people and then I really should do some paying work. bleah.

Friday, April 14, 2006


I couldn't take pictures because there was no sun. My overcast skies were overcast. I'm not going to try to photograph a silk/cashmere blend and then say, "only, the colors are prettier than that." Now that said, there may be some sun today, and if it happens this morning while I'm still home, then I'll take some pictures.

Big day today. Chris is in Altoona. I get to herd the twins through Max's piano recital. I have this feeling of doom about it, but I'm not letting it get me down. nope.

My brother says I'm whining too much about paying my taxes. So I whined at him some more (if you call me this weekend, be prepared to be whined at about it).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bourgeoisie yarn on a proletariat budget

The truth is simple--I love good yarn. Great yarn. I prefer natural fibers to manmade--although I'll accept a little manmade in my yarn if it means that it improves the overall usefulness of the yarn a smidge (like superwash wool socks that don't felt on sweaty feet).

For the past few months I've tried to knit mostly from stash. I was moderately successful. Of the original six bins of "project" yarn, all have been knit up or are well along in that process. Of the "odds and ends" in my yarn stash, I knit up or gave away to more worthy knitters about half of it. This left me with an odd dozen balls.

But yarn stash backlash is a powerful force. Much like nature, the yarn stash seems to abhor a vacuum. Two of the skeins were prairie silk. They were Navy and when I bought them, I bought them with two skeins of lavender mohair that I kept remembering as being different colors of the same yarn. The lavender wasn't at all the same though. Although both yarns are Brown Sheep Company yarns, Prairie Silk is wool with a smidge of mohair. Handpaint Originals is mohair with a smidge of wool. The labels claim they knit up to the same gauge, but I didn't find that to be the case. So I have two skeins of Handpaint Originals in plum purple and one in sea glass. Still no plan for those. The prairie silk however spoke to me clearly. It wanted to be a striped sweater. So I bought two skeins of cream and one more of navy. Notice that the stash made me purchase three skeins to use up two skeins. Yeah. Then in knitting up the skeins it soon became clear that I needed another skein or two just to finish that sweater. But by this time I'd fallen head-over-heels for the yarn, so when I ordered more, I ordered enough for a second sweater in green and cream.

The stash was hungry.

Next, the stash used Baby Oliver as an excuse to get a few other kinds of yarn to "experiment" with, including a silk and cotton blend of which I'll probably run short and need to buy a second skein halfway through the final sleeve. It bought a skein of very fine mohair convincing me it could become an orenburg shawl--but it lied. So I bought a silk and cashmere blend for the Orenburg shawl instead. Now the mohair will become booties--but in the meantime, the stash clings to it jealously.

I bought a lighter blue yarn of the most incredible 100% wool and that required two more skeins to become another striped sweater. This inspired sweater envy in Chris, so we ordered some more of it (that hasn't come in yet--the stash still has time to get a job and pay for that).
Somewhere along the line, it bought itself some sock yarn, too.

I'm proud (and relieved) to say that I still have the upper hand. I still have less yarn that I started with. But this morning I caught the stash shopping online for something to go with the Handpainted Originals and I had to change all my passwords.

I have to admit that the stash has amazing taste. Part of the reason I'm so enamoured of all of my projects right now is because the yarn is wonderful. But this morning the Orenburg shawl yarn that the stash ordered arrived and I had to face the fact that if I don't watch it more closely, I'll soon have the same size stash I started with--only with more labels (why do skeins of yarn shed their labels over time just sitting there in stash?) The Orenburg yarn is a silk/cashmere blend. It is by far the nicest yarn I've ever owned. I'm awed by it. Enough so that I'm actually content to just look at it and keep knitting on my current projects instead of casting on.

[This is the first yarn I've ever held and thought, "do you think this house has moths?"]

My plan right now is to keep knitting on what I have and get my project count back down to a reasonable level. My goal is to go into the summer with three "big" projects and all of the socks. I'll have a sock on the needles for each family member, the Orenburg Shawl for the Piano Teacher, the Finnish Mittens for I-don't-know-who, and Chris' sweater. That will be more than enough :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I worked today on finding a piece written for young people about colors--that didn't rely on illustrations to convey any of the information.



Otherwise today was a flurry of kid-related stuff. Swim lessons and playdates and cub scouts and stuff. During the hours I was home womaning the fort, we also had an electrician come over to complete the garbage disposal project.

The garbage disposal. Ah, yes.

It was supposed to be an easy project. The house came without a true garbage disposal (there's one in the dishwasher, but it's only meso-effective and it's useless for most kitchen-related tasks). The more we live here the more we realize we are not a family that copes well without a garbage disposal.

So when we received Sears gift cards for Christmas, we bought one.

I was going to install it myself because my experience with Sears installation is perfectly imperfect. That is, I haven't personally experienced even one well done and off the top of my head I haven't heard any of my friends gush about their positive Sears installation experience.
So I don't, as a rule, have the same store from which I bought any item that requires someone other than me to install it do so. I can think of three exceptions and two involve carpet. The third involved a door. None of these things had wiring or plumbing or "mileage surcharges."

We found one of the best plumbers we've ever had by having him install our dishwasher in Minnesota. He was great.

So. So I thought I could do it myself--and I would have if I could have found solid enough information on how to install a disposal in a double-sink. I did find a set of directions online, but for whatever reason, didn't like them enough to attempt them. The unit itself only came with directions for a single sink. So I waited until we couldn't stand it anymore and called a plumber.

They arrived with a new disposal. I pointed to *my* new disposal and said "they didn't tell you that I already had a disposal?" No, they said, "they" didn't. But they seemed to think my disposal was better than theirs anyway, so--good call. They installed it (and a new outside spigot) and I got a bill for just under $300. But still didn't have a running disposal. There was no power under the sink. The dishwasher is hard wired and there's no outlet under the sink.

So I called an electrician. I don't have the bill for that, but lets assume it's another $300 because he ran a line clear to the switch box and was here aaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllll afternoon.

All I can say is that this bugger better grind bones and run 25 years before it dies.

So Saturday is April 15th. Anyone other than me really, really depressed about this? I just transferred a bunch of money from savings into checking in preparation for writing The Check. It makes me physically ill thinking about it.

I had a very nice chat this afternoon with my baby sister who is getting married in July. That took my mind off the financial pain for a bit.

Plans are coming along nicely for Karen's baby shower at the end of the month. The Sister Party (not my sisters--my Aunts--but I'm hosting the Sister Party this year) is the same weekend and things are coming along nicely for that.

So of course Emily is showing definite signs of getting ready to go into heat. Charming. My aunts will never come back.

And on that note--I'm off to bed.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Astonishingly, I not only made all of my deadlines this morning--I finished everything at a reasonable hour last night. So I went to bed with a book and still stayed up too late--but it was better than staying up too late to work. This morning Milo woke me just before the alarm clock would have and I pulled my 6-hrs-of-sleep tush out of bed and got on with the day.

It was a great day.

Max made his lunch. Couldn't find his lunch bag so he got another one out of the closet. Later in the morning I noticed the lunch bag sitting on Chris's desk. Chris insisted that Max HAD his lunch bag with him when Chris dropped him off. I looked in the bag. Fresh lunch.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

So we got everyone up and dressed and fed. Chris took Max to school and I took the twins to their preschool. I tried to find a sitter from among their staff for tomorrow afternoon, but struck out. From there I went home and met Chris and we hung out and had quality time. After a bit we hopped in the truck and went cruising by some smaller homes I'd seen for sale to see if they were anything Grandma Gaye might be interested in. Then we stopped by the yarn store. And finally, we went to get the twins.

From there it was home again--grabbed the missing lunch--dropped it back off at school. Then lunch.

And then the afternoon stretched gloriously out ahead. I gave it almost no thought. An electrician came by to look at the garbage disposal that doesn't have any power yet and therefore--doesn't work. He stayed an hour and took that long to establish that he *could* hook it up if he really wanted to. He thinks maybe he'll come back again tomorrow afternoon. ooookay.

Anyway, I spent most of the afternoon out on the front lawn. I borrowed the neighbor's wheelbarrow and got all the clay/cement that I dug out of the lawn two weekend's ago to the backyard (just beyond the property line thank-you-very-much). This took FOREVER but I figure it burned 7,000 calories, so maybe it was worth it. After digging MORE out of the bottom of the hole, I roped Chris into helping me put the frame in the hole.

Now--I just need a bunch of gravel and a lot of dirt.

By now it was after 6pm so I rounded up the kids and hubby and we went to Wegmans for bad chinese food and a few groceries.

And that was pretty much the day.

Chris and I are watching Must Love Dogs. I have most of my knitting projects next to me. I need to finish the back of Baby Oliver's outfit, but all the rest of my stuff wants to be knit on, too. So I brought it in and will do a few rows on everything as the movie goes.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Quick Photo Blog

Ha! I'm so psyched. It's 11:40 pm and I'm already done with the four pages of math I had to get done today. I really didn't know if I *would* get those done. Now I'm full on to delude myself I can get the rest done in time for Monday morning's deadlines. :::unbalanced but happy dance:::

This morning was a primary activity. I was asked to "go around to each station with the group. But you don't have to do anything. Just be there."


Only--that really was the case. I was glad I brought my knitting. I got an inch done on the cotton sweater vests. The kids had a great time, but Ben, who has a cold, burned out about 3/4 of the way through and ditched his group to come sit on my lap and watch me knit. After ten minutes of that he was coaxed back to do a clay sculpture.

We came home, and I had to face cold, hard reality. I have a lot of work promised to people. They think these items will be "in your email when you come in Monday morning."

Last weekend we were doing this:

and this:

This weekend I frogged that sock. It was too loose--I didn't have 1s and the yarn said 2s would be okay--but they're not. Now I think I'm going to drop them down to 0s.

And then I had to face this:

Although it's not as meaningful with most of the print covered, but what can I say, it's not my copyright and I like being employed.

Staying on task was, blessedly, made much easier than last weekend by a return of very cold temperatures and icky rain and cloud-cover and general late-winter backlash. But hope springs eternal. There are tomatoes and sweet peppers--although I think I'm over watering them. What do you think?

So tomorrow will be two more pages of math, church, some writing for the reading people, some more writing for the reading people--and then a much more relaxed Monday. That will be nice.

Friday, April 07, 2006

11:00 11:30 am Haiku

To-do list buzzes
Foot twitches impatiently
The plumber makes me wait

Maybe He's On to Something

"I'd just as soon they shut (Congress) down for a few years," said Robert Hirsch, 72, a Republican-leaning voter in Chicago. "All they do is keep passing laws and figuring out ways to spend our money."

Maybe they need a timeout. Send them all home and tell them to go get a W-2 job at whatever the U.S. National Average wage is for their area. The spending frenzy of the past two years is turning me into an old-school republican. (Well, that and my tax bill.) If I have to work four months out of the year just to pay my taxes, then by my knee, don't go spending the money like it's your lottery winnings.

(kidding--still a libertarian leaning democrat, but . . . sheesh.)

In Which Anne and I go Head to Head with the Postal Service . . . .

So Anne graciously offers to send me her size 1 dpn's. I accept gleefully.

She does an amazing job packaging them. She puts two rubberbands around a piece of thick card stick, staples along both rubber bands to create little pockets for each needle--basically makes the envelope as streamlined as possible. Lots of thought went into this.

But the post office has its own special karma--and it's wrong karma. (Hence the phrase, "going postal." It's just not a fun place to work.) This was my first clue:

That says, basically, "Uh . . . sorry 'bout your package there."

The envelope didn't require any further opening on my part.

And while two of the needles were unscathed. Two had experienced some pretty serious trauma.

I consoled myself with the thought that the needles had surely done some damage to the machine that had done damage to them.

Then--they're aluminum--I just bent them back into shape. They only need to be size 1. Size one "straights" doesn't have to be taken tooooooo literally. They'll work just fine :)

Thanks, Anne! My sock project is very grateful to you :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Orenburg Update

For such a tiny, tiny project, it sure is causing me an extraordinary amount of grief. I tried knitting it with the recommended size needles (1) and 32 short little rows into it it was clear I was knitting a big knot. (I mean, really short--the pattern starts you on the bottom stitches so you're zig zagging back and forth on the border which is 7 stitches at its most narrow and 12 stitches at its widest).

I frogged it and went to consult my LYS who said that I either had to ::gasp:: buy smaller yarn (and something without mohair in it) or switch to bigger needles. Like, size 10 or something.

I didn't want to switch yarn. This yarn is be-u-tiful and makes me happy when I touch it. So I switched needles. Now, 1/3 of the way through the piece, it's clear to me that I'm smoking yarn crack again. You just can't knit an Orenburg on soft fluffy mohair. I'm going to finish it because of my sick fascination with failure (what happens if I . . . .), but I'm not going to knit the "real" shawl with it.

So--I did what anyone in my position would do, I went a-googling. I found the author's own website where she offers some really incredible yarn and a few kits and . . . stuff. Since the yarn looked incredible and since I really like the look of that big triangular shawl they're holding up in that kit picture, I called the contact number.

Edited because I must have accidentally erased a few details I meant to include. The woman who answered the phone is the woman who wrote the book I'm using for the sample shawl. It could be argued that she's the only reason you can knit an Orenburg-style shawl in America anyway (without having been born in Orenburg). She was very sweet but firm in letting me know that indeed--you can't use mohair for the tiny stitches in an Orenburg. She said the yarn I wanted was $45-$55 a skein (it's 80% silk, 20% cashmere) and I started doing math in my head as I asked her how much you needed to make the shawl--well, basically, one skein. I heaved a sigh of relief. Then I asked a bunch of other questions and she answered them and I was just so pleased. It's so nice to talk to a human being who is being helpful in a business situation.

Long story short, I'm buying the big triangular shawl she's holding up in the picture I linked to above. That will be Mrs. Bernstein's "hot for teacher" shawl so she'll stay warm in that drafty church where she holds most of her piano lessons and the drafty old victorian where the Music Academy meets. (Totally stole that "hot for teacher" thing STRAIGHT from Francis at the Panopticon--what can I say--I was a child of the 80's, too. Ironically, his "hot for teacher" shawl is the reason I bought the book Folk Shawls. I originally thought I'd make it using yarn I already have, but abandoned that and with it, any hope of making that shawl until we're totally out of debt and I can justify the purchase of that much yarn for one outfit for ME.)

Somebody please come here and beat me with a stick till I finish today's project. Geez.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Okay, little request here: Please respond in the comments.

Max, sick as a dog and feeling blue, wants to know why he can't quit piano. I answered fairly honestly (the upshot being: no matter how bad you feel today--you have talent, music fluency is as important as math and reading fluency, and I'm a big meanie).

Anyone care to chime in on the topic Why I'm glad my mother didn't let me quit my music lessons? (Chris's answer is that "chicks dig a guy who can play piano/saxaphone/trumpet--maybe not so much flute.").

On the Up and Up

You've got "procrastination" and then you've got "blatantly breaking the law." I admit to nothing but let me just say that today I went and registered my truck with CA tags in the state of Pennsylvania. I just thought, you know, in honor of our one-year-in-PA anniversary coming up . . . .

Right. So I also made a schedule (let's say that in the Euro way, Shed-youl) so I could see how much I have to get done of little Oliver's little outfits each day in order to make the upcoming shower deadline. This was a buzz kill.

Part of the problem right now is that I *love* everything I'm working on. I'm nearly done with the back of the shell-patterned blue sweater (that has a better name than that, but I can't remember it) for myself. The Jacquard superwash I'm using in a pair of socks for the twins is very pleasant though I intend to knit the second sock using a smaller set of needles and then compare--one of the socks will then be frogged. Either that or I do two more and then one twin gets a pair of socks on size 2 needles and one gets them on 0's or 1's. Chris' socks got a few more rows yesterday. I love the incredible softness of the wool I'm using in the twins' striped sweaters. (I'd better. I ordered enough of it to make a sweater for Chris--Chris who never wears sweaters says he WOULD wear it if it were big and kind of sweatshirt like. So that's what we're shooting for.) The prairie silk in particular is just the cat's meow. I could knit with that aaallllll day.

As soon as I get some good sun here again I'll take pictures so you can see how it is a miracle that I accomplish anything at all. I'm still knitting half from stash--the other half are recent aquisitions.

By the way--any ideas? I have this thinnish mohair/manmade blend that was hand spun/hand dyed. It's orange and yellow and red with occasional orangish-brownish areas. It's one solitary skein, but on the largish side. Well over 100 yards but I wouldn't bet on over 175 yards.

What do I do with it? I want it out of my stash and knitted up as SOMETHING. Because it's at least half mohair if not 75%, it would make rotton socks (unless you really didn't like the recipient). For the same reason I wouldn't wear it as a scarf. I thought it would make a cute cardigan for a baby girl--but I don't know anyone having a baby girl. Well, maybe I'll just knit it up as a baby girl sweater and then wait to get invited to a shower. (Thereby ensuring that my IRL friend's psuedo-secret pregancy is a boy. It's not really secret, she's just obeying laws of modesty and discretion that I wouldn't know anything about. I put out a press release when the stick first turns blue.)

Eh. Anyway, until I can figure out how to get paid for knitting (and I'll never get paid for knitting) I'd better go work on some phonics.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Thanks for all your prayers and positive thoughts. Max says he had a good time at school today and his teacher's report was positive.

I picked up more work today. After a very productive morning this threw me straight into over-booked paralysis. So, here I am making prioritized task lists and sketching out who gets what and when. It looks like everyone will be happy as long as I don't eat, sleep, pee, or bathe this week.

No problem!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


It was crazy beautiful today. At noon I put the boys in the truck and we headed to Target. I've avoided Target for months because Target is my happy place and I am financially undisciplined there. But Max needed a few things for school (like, a shirt that isn't two years old) so we went. We got Max two shirts and a backpack and a thermos (specifically, he wanted a soup thermos) and then we got some light bulbs--oh, and we found these balls in the sports isle--playground balls for $2.50 and a really decent basketball for $3.50. The boys had seizures of happiness, so I got two playground balls and the basketball.

Back at home I started the horrendous process of digging a 4 by 8 ft rectangle into the slope of my front yard for my raised bed. I have to dig into the hill because of the slope. It was nearly dark when I finished and it's still only roughed out--I need a wheelbarrow to haul the dirt to the back yard, and I need to level the area and put down gravel for drainage. And then I need to actually set the frame into the area. But I got a LOT of (gardening) work done today and am appropriately tired because of it.

At some point in the afternoon I put the kids back in the truck and we drove over to a neighboring village and picked up quite a bit of horse manure from a gal who was freecycling it.

We had delivery pizza and closed out the day with a second run to Target to exchange the backpack for one with a working zipper and to get some more groceries.

Max's lunch is made, his clothes are laid out for him, all three children have been bathed. I am grateful I'm too tired to think as my personal work to-do list is so long that I'd otherwise stay up worrying about it. That and other things.

We're off to bed.

[Dy, he's doing school now instead of just next year because of the weird way that "attendance" is figured for a charter school. The short version is that each class can only have 20 kids. The whole school can only have like 64 or something. Although it looks on paper like there will be 6 spaces available in fifth grade, any open spaces are prioritized for incoming kindergarteners. So in actual fact, they expect there to be no actual openings in fifth grade next year. Max really wants to do this, so after much soul searching and discussion--helped along by the fact that he'd finished his fourth grade math text already--we decided to let him do April and May at the school. This would make him an "existing" student and his space would be held for next year.]

Sunday Poem

Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog

First of all, it's a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you're walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain't no one going to mess with you.

Love doesn't like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Sometimes love just wants to go from a nice long walk.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you're all wound up and can't move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Taylor Mali