Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The DaVinci Code Review

by Aunt Charlotte.

"Went to the "DaVinci Code" last evening. (Inserts excuse for taking time off from her knitting.) I enjoyed it. Good action adventure, which means it was entertaining and pretty tame for me to like it. The REAL mystery of the "DaVinci Code", is how a woman, no matter how petite and cute, could run (and she ran!) around the streets of Paris and London, around a castle, get knocked around a bit and knock people around a bit, run up and down stairs in very old churches, IN FOUR INCH HEALS! (with no panty hose). Now, they were sensible four (that's 4) inch heals, not stilettos, but still. And the action started around 10pm, so presumably she worked all day, and the movie ended with her STANDING, chatting with people. And the shoes looked very good at the end- no scuffs. I tripped on the stairs in the movie theatre in clogs! Now figure that one out!"

And that was MY laugh for the day :) Makes me want to see the movie though, and I had no desire to before this.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Radishes from your own garden . . . . . free
propane for the grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $35
french onion dip mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.69
kids in the sprinkler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . no idea but I know my water bill just keeps climbing

Knowing that your kids got enough of you, you got enough sun, and you're still making your Tuesday-morning deadline . . . priceless.

(Having to get back on the BRAT diet today--big fat bummer, and I'll probably have to do another day of it since I kept stealing potato chips at the BBQ this afternoon. But the other stuff above outweighs all that.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Beautiful day. Some work, some futzing in the garden, some church, some running through the sprinklers--giggles, shrieking, "Ready to come in?" "Nooooooooo!"--some pushing people on the swings, some BBQ pizza (my first try at putting pizza dough on a grill--works REALLY well!), some low 80-degree temps and sunshine. One really great day.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Check, Check, and Check

This one is going to be a long one and it has a gazillion pictures, so if you're on dial-up, go get a pop or something while the page loads. I did resize the pics for once, so maybe they won't take up so long to load. Maybe.

Yesterday I got it into my head to clean my office. This is what the rest of the basement looked like.

This is what the office looked like.

This is Thor hiding in his kennel in case I took it into my head to throw HIM away. He does need a good trim, but I wouldn't toss him over that. Silly dog.

After three hours, I'd made a lot of progress.

Sensing a disturbance in the basement yin and yang, the twins got to work.

But in the end, I prevailed.

That was yesterday. Now we'll cover today.

I didn't intend it to be a Memorial Day Weekend kind of day. Because Mom was visiting, I was okay with getting the grill to a place where it would work again and I was okay with doing, say, the backyard while she was here.

But it didn't work out that way. In my usual way, my realistic plans gave way as I added "just one more thing" here and there. My first mistake was in going to bed at a reasonable hour last night and then sleeping until 9:30am. With so much sleep under my belt, I felt ready to do anything. So I got the silly idea that I could do anything.

My second mistake was in going to Lowe's on Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend just to get a propane tank and "a few pvc pipes for the garden" (to string up tomatoes and beans). My jaw dropped as I came within sight of Lowe's. For yeah and verily, the last frost is past (it was this past Tuesday) and with a three-day weekend ahead--everyone's a gardener. I found a parking space. I was lucky. There were people circling the parking lot as if it were Black Friday in Christmas season.

I headed over to the garden center first, drawn by the smorgesbord (sp?) of plants displayed and the incredible crowd (we're all such caterpillars--obscure 70's book reference du jour). They had cucumbers, and I wanted cucumber plants, so I picked up four pickling and four slicing. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that all the sticks say simply, "cucumber"--so I guess we'll have to see what they look like when they mature. I got four more pepper plants--some hot, some sweet--one single zuchinni plant, and a watermelon plant (for Max). They had a six pack of cheap tomoto stakes, so I dropped the pvc pipe idea and bought two packs.

Now, the lines in the garden center were the sort that ruin even the most seasoned shopper's weekend, but as I was picking out cucumber plants (very near the checkout area), I heard one of the managers announce to the crowd that they were opening a third checkout area there. The spot was obviously used maybe twice a year (maybe only on Memorial Day weekend, frankly) and not very many people heard the guy. By the time I was ready to checkout, there were only two people in her line (she was hidden behind a wall of less attractive perennials). So I totally scored. Not only that, but she couldn't call (there was no phone at her station) to tell anyone to meet me at the propane place, and I lucked out again in finding the manager guy hiding behind a wall of wheelbarrows making a personal call. I smiled innocently at him and waited. He called for a propane guy.

So, I was in and out of there in 15 minutes which was just total kismet, frankly. I stopped at Wegman's for buns and ketchup and drove home.

But on the way home I knocked over every little plant--twice. So when I got home I felt like I really had to get the plants in the ground now, today, before they all died of "falling over in the truck" shock. (That's a technical term.)

So I started with the garden. Milo picked all the radishes that were ready to be picked--most of them, all but four, really.

This is fine, since there are already new radishes growing in one of the patio containers.

This picture is for Connie. These are the onions, leeks, and lettuce so far. The lack of rain did a number on the lettuce. It's only just starting to grow. There are a few radishes left on the far left. That area will get planted in carrots soon.

These are the cucumbers (left) and peppers (middle) and sweet peas (right). I need to plant some more sweet peas now that the bales of hay are gone from around the garden frame. (There wasn't really room before.) The big pepper plant there in the middle and the two next to it have been in the garden for over a month (surrounded by the hay bales at night for warmth). The others are new.

Here's a picture of the sloping portion of the front lawn. You can see the tomatoes staked in the back of the garden. Only three of the tomatoes are left over from the cold frame experiment (three out of five did beautifully. two didn't.) The others are little tiny plants that I planted three weeks ago (seeds in dirt in plastic cups)--but since they have their true leaves, I'm taking a chance that they'll do fine now that the weather is warm. I've had them outside during the day every day of their little lives so far anyway. In the front is a broken pot that I dug into the side of the hill, a sort of mini-"raised garden" to give Max's watermelon plant good dirt to start in with good drainage (remember, the rest of the yard is solid red clay) and to encourage it to grow all around the slope and kill the weeds. I don't know what I'm going to do with all that hay now that it has served its purpose as a cold frame.

This is the backyard patio grape tomato plant which apparently never got the memo about it being a tropical plant. It survived over two weeks of very cold night-time temperatures and at least two frosts. It had gotten too big for me to cover it, so I left it to its own devices and it thrived. All I did today was finally buy it a stake and tie it up. It already has green tomatoes growing on it.

The patio and chairs got a good cleaning. It was MUCH filthier than it is shown here. This is post-grilling. We'd already consumed yummy burgers and the first grilled corn of the season. This picture was taken in the evening when most of the backyard was already in shade.

This is the riot of pink things that live on the side of my house. Today's "check mark" was to cut back the ones around the little tree. I bought the trees last year, but didn't have a hose that would reach to them. Without lots of extra watering, they really didn't grow. They'd grow a limb, then it would die, rinse, repeat. I didn't expect it to live through the winter. It did. I've been watering them faithfully and they're already looking much better than last year. But the pink thingies were crowding out the Japanese Maple, so I cut them back today in hopes of getting it some sun. The other white stick back there is where the other maple is. It's not a Japanese Maple, it's some other ornamental, smallish maple.

I planted these last year thinking they were perennials. They're not. So now I want more of them so they'll go all the way around the pear tree. If they're going to come back every year, they should be a complete circle. At least, that's how I think about these things.

Last but not least, the front and back lawns were raked and mowed. That's my Mom wearing my old karate uniform and teaching Ben to cut the tall weeds on the edge of the lawn with scissors. Milo was helping earlier, before he fell out of love with the job. He had the spirit of the project, but not the purpose. He kept chopping off the tops of the weeds, leaving most of the weed still there. But hey, at least he wasn't running in the street.

Child Protective Services, I'm ready for my inspection now.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

24 Hours

I only know what I read of the show since we don't have television in that capacity. But I gather it somehow takes the entire season to show you the passage of one very full day.

My 24 hours started at about 5 pm last night. I woke up from a badly needed nap and bonked about in a blearly state for another hour. I must have fed people, but I don't really remember what. It wasn't anything elegant or well developed. I was halfway through a tummy bug and already 24-hours into eating nothing but white rice and apple sauce.

I'd spent the better part of the day working on more of those mini-plays and now I was in a bind. I needed to get some work to my little side project and it was due the next morning. Only, ethically, I owe everything to my Primary Client, so even with this other thing hanging over my head--anyway, you get the idea. I'd just finished the first leg of the triathalon and now I needed to get to work on the next portion. It was at about this time last night--9-ish--that I realized that I was in bigger trouble than I'd thought. I needed to finish three of these math thingies and I thought I'd only had two. I reported to Chris that I'd be up late. He would go on to conveniently forget this and harrass me to go to bed for most of the next five hours. He would then stubbornly stay up as he hates to go to bed first.

So I figured out the best solution possible, embarked on it, finished up around 2:25 in the morning, went to bed, fell asleep maybe 20 minutes later. Got up at 7:00 and roused Max, did something useful with the dogs, distributed peanutbutter to the masses, ate some more white rice, and got back to work. At 12:30 I emailed off the last of that--everything was good. Client was happy. Client did leave little note that she was sending me 5 more of these thingies and could I have them to her by June 5.

If I pull that off, I deserve dinner out or something. You should see what I have due by May 31st. I'm supposed to go to a Memorial Day picnic at a friend's house and I already don't want to. (But I will because I realize I'm being unreasonable.) I suck at putting work aside and "forgetting about it" for a few hours. In fact, my mother is coming by Saturday afternoon and I agreed to a four-hour break from work. This has been worrying me so much that as I stood on my deck this evening worrying about when I was going to get the lawn mowed this weekend, it occurred to me that I could work on the lawn while she was here. She won't mind hanging out outside with the kids while I pick up dog poop, rake, and mow.

Chris is going to LOVE this little development, as he hates yardwork, and I'm going to bug him to help me.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So now it's a bit after noon. I fax off an invoice and made everyone some lunch. I tried a weight watchers frozen meal that looked relatively bland. My stomach did not rebel. Yay! Stomach flu over. I then hit the third leg of my work triathalon. Now I needed to review a bunch of stories, type them into a spreadsheet, get them off to Fedex early enough to have Fedex come to me instead of me going to them. Blessedly, I'd had a friend help me by reading all the books first and I just had to pick and choose what I liked best from her favorites, already matched to themes. 90 minutes later the box was ready to go.

Now, a few weeks ago when I took all the food storage and split it into mylar bags for everyone, I'd run out of places to STORE the mylar bags while I was doing this, so the twins helpfully dumped every plastic tub of toys they own on the floor and I filled them all with mylar bags. As of a week ago, most of those plastic tubs were empty again, but I hadn't gotten around to facing the Mt. Everest of toys on the floor.

In the meantime, Chris had set up a playdate with one of the other SAHD's and it was threatening to rain. They might come back here if it rained. This meant it was time to pick up Mt. Everest.

So, running on fumes, I did. Chris went and got Max from school and Max helped me with all of the vidoes and gaming stuff. It took an HOUR to get the basement ship-shape, but, except for my black hole of an office space, the basement now looks quite nice.

This of course meant that not only did the rain not come, it cleared up and turned quite nice.

I didn't care. I shut the curtains in my room and went to bed. Chris took the kids and went to the park.

When I got up 90 minutes later, my 24 hours were over. I walked to the park, feeling a little post-nap stoned, gathered the gang and took them out to Subway for dinner. I wasn't going to cook, but you don't go straight from white rice to delivery pizza in one day. That's not smart. Subway with the whole gang was fun. The boys were quiet and well-behaved--in large part because after over an hour at the playground with friends, they were all so starved that they couldn't eat fast enough. When my four-year-olds were done with their six-inch subs, they started in on Chris' chips. They frighten me sometimes.

Now here we are, home again, home again, jiggidy jig. I need to write one. last. play. Then I'm off to bed for a full 8 hours.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Milo Won the Epic Battle to be Model

Jawoll Jacquard Superwash. I don't like how the heel turned out. I'll make it wider next time. But it might also ease up some with blocking. The toe turned out okay. My grafting is so much better than it used to be, but I'm not thrilled with it.

Now, I need to make its mate :) It worked well to have it next to the keyboard to serve as a sanity break.

And now, one little My Kids Are Cute picture

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I really should just go to bed. It's 1:00 am and I'm suddenly mad. Well, mad as of 11:30 pm. It was a productive day. I worked all day. I would get stuck for awhile and knit some on my sock, and then I worked some more. So in that way, it was a good day.

But I didn't get all the stuff DONE that I wanted to get done this weekend. I wanted to spend more time knitting, more time reading, and I wanted to finish three vowel-specific plays. Apparently that was too much to ask. So there was very little knitting done--some sock knitting today, but . . . I'd really wanted to finish the Orenburg sampler. I didn't even get the book open.

What DID I get done? I don't know. Some work. I worked all day today because it was Ward Conference and I admit I never go to Ward Conference. I went once with all three kids when the twins were 18 months old and I still suffer from tics when I recall that two-hour block of time and the way that it seemed to take 20 minutes to walk from where we were sitting through the aisles with all three kids because Max couldn't carry a twin, the twins couldn't walk, and at 25 lbs each or whatever they were then, they were a LOT to carry together. screaming. howling. All I know is I walked out the door and I won't go back for that particular meeting until the kids are maybe all in high school or something. maybe.

The twins had been asking for bikes so I gave them the spot in my budget I'd set aside for yarn for a sweater for Chris and bought two bikes at Dick's sporting goods. I'd checked Target, but a) they only had one 16" bike in stock (soooo unlike my beloved Target) and b) it looked like a toy, not a bike. (This is pretty common in the 16" size. You don't start getting into better quality until the 20" size.) But for a little more, I could get two 16" bikes at Dicks, and they came with an actual chain guard and front brake that really works (not that a front brake belongs on a 16" bike but whatever).

Ben and Milo haven't been on two-wheeled bikes before, but that didn't stop them from hopping on and figuring it out pretty quickly. My biggest problem was that the helmet Milo picked out didn't fit him, which I didn't know until we got home because of the way it was packaged. He wore it anyway, but he'd have been up a creek if he crashed. I went back today and traded it in for a larger size. Anyway, they're thrilled.

Planning is full speed ahead for summer. We're registering Max for summer swimming and fall football this week. The twins have to wait another summer to get to do anything because of those fall birthdays. So they get private swim lessons instead. Max's birthday party is scheduled and the invitations went out to the three boys who will get to go. We tend to keep these things small. There's a water slide not far from here--we'll take the boys there for the day and have cake and ice cream and bad food for lunch. Hopefully it won't rain. His birthday is two weeks from yesterday (gulp) but the party will be on the 10th because he has other plans for his birthday. He says he wants weights for his birthday. And then he rattled off a bunch of other stuff that I didn't bother to write down. I told him to go to Amazon and make a list because he can do that. I don't think he has yet though.

I want to teach the twins to read this summer. I can't tell you the huge amount of guilt I have surrounding this. I really feel AWFUL about it, which shouldn't be--I made no effort to teach Max to read beyond just reading to him all the time at this age. He wasn't ready and I knew it. Problem is that Milo and Ben are ready . . . and I know it. So every day I don't do anything about it is another mark on the Sucky Mom Calendar.

I know. Go to bed, Alaska. Okay, I will. I don't promise to blog tomorrow. I gotta finish those plays, then maybe I can play nice again. We'll see.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Guess I Needed a Saturday

Now that it's 11:00 pm, I guess I have to face the facts that my brain and body needed a Saturday. I needed to run errands and pay bills and make plans. I did get about two hours of work done, but that didn't amount to much.

So this one client, my primary client, is very different from the sort of company I usually work for. There is a VERY long ladder in educational publishing from down at the bottom to up at the top and I'm not even sure where on that list the people who actually get their names in the textbooks appear. Normally I'm about a two or three rungs up from the bottom. My name appears nowhere in the book and a lot of people have taken their share of the pie before I get a slice (which is why a large textbook project can run about 65 million dollars--my pie slice is still a good one). But every so often I get to work with this one particular team out of sheer luck--and the fact that I somehow keep my head above water and make myself useful when we do get to work together. My name still doesn't appear anywhere in the book, but the whole method of payment is very different because I'm not working for the middle man now. I'm working for the company whose name actually appears on the spine of the book. Instead of waiting 45 days after I get paid, I get paid in 10 days to 4 weeks. Instead of getting a handwritten check, I get direct deposit. NOBODY else pays in direct deposit in my line of work.

At first I was sure this was wonderful. And it is. It is wonderful. But as time goes on and I become aware of how totally RANDOM the rate of invoice processing is--and therefore the FACT that although I'm being paid more often, I just never know WHEN I'll be paid--well, it's disconcerting. And since I'm taking every dime that comes in and immediately turning around and sending it back out again in anticipation of the day that I can say honestly that our only debt is our mortgage--it's still a bit stressful.

Now, normally if I'm going to get paid I get an email on a Wednesday evening between 7 and 8pm telling me that an EFT payment was processed. This means that the money will appear in my bank account on Friday. So after I pick up Max from drama on Wednesday evening, I go home and get online and watch my AOL mail box for an hour.


Sometimes--nothin' (said in the voice of Cornelius the Miner)

This week--nothin'

I wasn't really expecting it. The typical amount of time it takes them to pay me is 19 days after I submit an invoice. That's not till next week for this particular invoice.

But every so often, on some OTHER day, I'll get the email. The first time it was a Monday evening. That made sense to me since I was told that sometimes they make EFT deposits on a Wednesday. Wednesdays and Fridays and that's it, I was told.

But the second time it appeared in my box on a Sunday night and the money was there on a Monday! I was a little freaked! But I didn't say anything. Just paid the bills. You would, too.

And today, just as I was starting to get useful there with work--the email. 2:45 on a Friday afternoon--"We paid you! Just lettin' you know." Only, you know, in bank talk. (This is to notify you that an EFT payment has been processed blah blah blah.)

And that was the end of my tentative concentration on work. Now I wanted desperately to balance the checkbooks and pay bills. Now that the balances just go down and not back up, I love paying the bills. Take that! And that! You slimy interest-charging swine . . . (except taxes. I never love paying taxes. Earlier this week I was over at the yarn shop and there was noone else in there so one of the owners and I had a grand time preaching to the choir about self-employment taxes.)

But afterwards, after the checkbooks were balanced and the bills were paid, I got to thinking about the randomness of these payments. I'm not complaining--I should make that clear--I'm still getting paid faster than is the norm for me--but the control freak in me finds it all disconcerting. I am reminded of the Tarot Card of the Hanged Man.

Now, the Hanged Man can have a number of different meanings depending on its position, including that of a martyr and other less benevolent meanings, but the meaning that resonates the most for me is that of "loss of control".

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo,
God has got you by the toe.
If you holler He will know,
It's not time to let you go!

Much like those weedy things in Harry Potter 1, the second of the challenges that Harry, Hermione, and Ron had to face once they got past the three-headed dog--the way "out" of this predicament is to relax and stop fighting it. The whole POINT of this position is to learn to trust that you will be taken care of. Your needs will be provided for. You're not in charge and yet you'll be just fine.

I'm very familiar with this card as back in the days when I did tarot often (it's not really an LDS-friendly activity, so I don't often indulge anymore) it came up in almost every reading I did for myself. Call it a life theme. I don't trust God and the Universe to provide me with things I need--love. food. shelter. And so He is persistent in teaching me that I just could. not. be. more. wrong.

So anyway, this thing with the EFT payments appearing out of nowhere in my in-box. It's disconcerting, but it makes me laugh at the same time--since deciding to get the heck out of debt once and for all, I haven't had one day without work. I'm employed by my two favorite clients. I really enjoy what I'm working on. I even feel as if I'm coming out of a burnt-out period. My work is better than it had been. If I will stop fighting--if I will just hang here and enjoy the circumstances--the dividends are incredible. All the husband and children I've wanted, all the house and home I've wanted, all the everything I thought I had to fight to get for myself.

Well there. Off to bed. Since today was Saturday, I'd better make tomorrow Friday and get a good amount of work done.


I've worked more than 36 hours in the last three days, so I wasn't terribly shocked this morning to find that I overslept. I remember getting up with the alarm, getting dressed, sitting down in the green chair in the living room to put on my shoes--and coming to 1 hour and 45 minutes later.

I let most of the rest of the morning slip by listing a few homeschool books for sale, answering email, writing up to-do lists, and watching a movie about Wal-mart with Chris. Not only did the movie completely distract me from anything work-related, but now I feel obligated to boycott Wal-mart. This isn't a big deal for me since I only shopped there three times a year anyway--but it does create a moral dilema for me with Sam's Club. Do I finish out the year with my Sam's Club membership? Or do I tear it all up and get more of the food storage order stuff mail order? Sam's Club has been a lifesaver when it comes to bulk purchases of food. What to do?

In other news, Chris and I are exploring alternatives to the fence idea having gotten some of the estimates back. While we still consider it a necessity, like the roof, if it's going to cost almost as much as a new roof, then it has to wait. We may instead purchase cheap patio furniture and an easy-up for shade so I can work on the deck and keep an eye on everyone. It doesn't solve my problem of the kids rolling balls down the hill, but it's something.

Didn't get much knitting done in the last few days. A few inches on a child's sock, that's about it. I'm hoping to do a little reading, a little knitting tonight. So I guess I'd better get back to work on the paying stuff.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

But the Cat Came Back the Very Next Day . . .

My Toshiba Satellite laptop is the computer with nine lives. It has survived being dropped (not forcefully, not from a great height, but one of those slow, steady slips to the ground), having its battery charging chord yanked out of it's back by a thousand tripping twins (and having it's connector thingy welded back to the mother board by Toshiba because of this), being schlepped all over town (I know, it's a laptop, but it's one of those wide-screen desktop substitute laptops), and having water spilled on it. As of today, water spilled on it TWICE.

I was panicked, but the accident happened just as I was finishing up printing out a gazillion pages for the work I needed to do today, so after I mopped up what I could, I unscrewed its tiny screws and then set it up in front of a fan with it's guts hanging out so that it could dry out while I worked on --get this-- paper. In the end, I got quite a bit done, what with not being able to procrastinate on the Internet, and Toshiba gamely started up again three hours after the water bottle incident.

In fact, the way that it all worked out, I even managed to distract my brain from noticing that I turned something in around 12:30 and I ploughed right ahead with the Other Thing I had to get done today. So I finished that up tonight and sent IT in. I still have crazy amounts to do before close of business on Friday, but at this point, I still have a prayer of getting it all done. Normally by Tuesday I'm already conceding a certain amount of defeat. In this case though I seem to actually be getting caught up a bit.

I didn't get a lot of knitting done today--four stripes on the Green sweater--that's it. But that's okay. I only read another 40 pages in the knitting mystery. Then I felt obligated to try to go to sleep, since Chris had passed out on me an hour earlier. I closed the book, I closed my eyes . . . nothin'. WIDE awake.

dum de dum dum dum dum . . . sigh . . .

Then I remembered the chicken I'd been defrosting in the kitchen. Tomorrow night's dinner is a turkey leftover casserole, but I don't have any turkey leftovers, so I planned to cook chicken in the crockpot all day and then use that. So I got up again and started that plan early. I'll be able to pull out the bones in the morning. I started everything in the crockpot and noticed the time. It was 11:58. I'd been thinking it was 1:30! So I felt better about things, but was still wide awake.

So we get a short blog to help unwind the wound-up synapses. Now off to bed.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Work is really intense. I worked through last week, through Saturday, through Sunday, and through today. The short-o play seems done but now I'm hung up on long e and it's not going well. My desk is strewn with lists of decodable words and high-frequency words and notes from two different sweater projects. One problem with this "stage" of work is that come Monday morning I'm sometimes too burnt out to really get much done. I spend most of the day trying to write and while I spent plenty of time at my desk, it's not very productive. There's a lot of drooling involved.

However, as I age I do get a wee bit wiser and I am (finally) learning that if I go to bed at a decent hour at least four nights a week during this schedule, it's not so bad. So Saturday and Sunday night I did. I went to bed at a decent hour and slept in until I was ready to get up.

So, today wasn't a waste. I really did get a lot done between 9 and 5, although I have to say that "a lot done" was relative--it amounted to four complete pages--but there was a lot of writing and rewriting and then the bizarre mathematics required of my work in which I go through and count this kind of word and that kind of word and divide them by each other and come up with readability statistics and . . . at any rate, not a lot of drooling and staring off into space.

Every so often I'd reach a stalemate with my curriculum-writing muse, so I'd pick up the Green Striped sweater and do a row. It started the day at the 3 inch mark and it needed to be at the 5 inch mark to change rows. This is Milo's sweater, knit to match Ben's Famous Blue Sweater--which is Really Royal and Dough in Prairie Silk. Which I still adore. I successfully reworked the sleeve on Ben's sweater to better fit my dear little Orangutan--only to run out of yarn. So while we wait for the LYS to get in one more skein of Really Royal, we cast on Milo's Green sweater. It has some odd name like Grenade Green or Grenadine or Gr...something. OK, fine, I'll go find the label. GUILDER GREEN. There.

It knits up as well and feels as good as the Really Royal but I wasn't quite loving it the way I love the RR. Still, it knits up well and feels good, so in between me working on these short o words and long e words I would pick it up and knit a row. Finally, the short o play was done and I hit SEND. I tried returning immediately to the long e play but there were two problems with that. First, after I turn something in I almost always feel a sense of relief--which seems to sort of require a break from the keyboard. My brain demands recognition that it FINISHED something and therefore I should STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.


Second, I got an Amazon box. Now, truthfully, most of the Amazon box contains books on teaching young children poetry because there are two wee paragraphs in the project on which I'm working where we're supposed to tell the teacher to tell the kids something, anything really, about that poem. And I could tell from reading the first manuscript that came across my desk last week that none of us really have a clue what to tell these first grade teachers about teaching poetry to first graders. So I decided that instead of FAKING it (which is not necessarily wrong) that I would get some resources and learn me a thing or two about teaching poetry to young children so I could delete anything that sounded suscipiciously vague in that paragraph and replace it with something USEFUL.

And while I was placing that order, two knitting-themed mystery paperbacks inexplicably fell into my online shopping cart and were there in that box today.

So here I'd knit up an inch and a half of guilder green and finished the short o poem--dinner was in the oven . . . . I picked up Knit One, Kill Two and began to read. I was about 30 pages into the book when I thought, "Oh gosh, this is awful. I could totally do this." The editing is on par with a typical bodice ripper--I'll send it to Charlotte when I'm done. She'll love it and enjoy editing it as she goes. The main character is smart and spunky and adorable. She has a dog. There's a yarn store to die for, and 54 pages into the book, you can tell there's a hint at a possible romance, new friends, a nice base for what will clearly be a series, and I can't tell who did it yet. My standards aren't high (but I like bodice rippers, too). It's not on par with Rita Mae Brown's series about Harry the Postmistress and her sleuthing cats, but it's totally at home among its peers of paperback mysteries. Rita Mae Brown's mysteries come out first in hardcover. Maggie Sefton's will go straight to paperback, but I'll buy them.

The other book I got is Died in the Wool by Mary Kruger, and I think it may be in a slighter higher class. It's a bigger book, but it's also in bigger print (which I appreciate, actually). It's worth going to Amazon and reading the "back of the book" for a good groan. Somebody was feeling punchy when they wrote that one up. It is also the base of a new mystery series. I haven't read enough of it yet to give any sort of a review.

So after making it a few chapters into that, I listened to the Cast-on podcast and knit some more on my green sweater until I reached the 5 inch mark. At this point I wound another skein of "Dough" color into a center-pull ball and started the first "white" (it's a creamy natural color) stripe of the Grenadier Green (whatever) sweater and Ta-Da! the whole sweater came to life. There is something about this series--maybe it's the whole wool/silk/mohair blend thing--that makes the dark color really come to life when it's placed next to the light natural color. All of a sudden I was head-over-heels in love with this yarn again. I've about decided to order more of it in red and go ahead and make Max a sweater, too.

I haven't started the Orenburg shawl yet, so I can still think that way.

At any rate, somewhere in here I started feeling the old mojo flowing again and so I pulled out more work and sorted and stapled and got it ready for the morning. I'm going to bed now at a still relatively reasonable hour, but I fully expect tomorrow to be another productive day. Good kids, good hubby, good work, good knitting, fun books--it could be a really wonderful week.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Good Neighbors Make Good Fences

We are collecting estimates on having the back yard fenced in. I'd intended to put off this expense until after I reroofed the house because fencing in a yard seems like a luxury expense on the surface. But recently I have come to see that it's just not so.

I've always liked the proverb, "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, Good Neighbors Make Good Fences." I learned from a Quaker friend of mine when I was about 12. She was in a play and the play was about neighbors and fences. I didn't get it at first, so she explained: Good fences keep your animals on each side of your property, preventing property damage. It creates a clear boundary--your life over there, my life over here. It supports civil behavior and encourages honest people to stay honest. Likewise, good neighbors then both lend a hand to maintaining that wall.

We have stone walls on three sides of our property and I was astonished to see the way that they do, indeed, shed stones over the winter. Having revisited Robert Frost's poem below, I am reminded why they do that. I shall have to pick the stones back up and return them to their places.

The fence I have come to see as a necessity instead of a luxury is there to keep the twins from their new favorite pasttime--rolling large balls from our property through the backyards four houses below us (we live on a hill, and the yards all slope down fairly steeply. It's enchanting for a guy who is only four, and the temptation is just too much . . .) This leads to two little four-year olds giving a wide hollar and running through the back yards to fetch the ball and the tromp, tromp, tromp, back up the hill--to do it again. There are some unfriendly dogs between here and the bottom of the hill. There are some non-child-friendly homes. It's a bad idea all around. We have a good yard, a large yard--we need to fence our critters in for their safety and the peace of mind of the neighbors.

Then there are the dogs. If I had a ten-dollar bill for everytime the dogs got out and ran the neighborhood since we moved in, I'd have my truck paid off. It drives me NUTS and since Emily is getting ready to go into heat again--it could very well drive me to drink. We put up more roadblocks and it happens far, far, far less often than it did this time last year, but it's still too often for my taste. Fencing in the backyard gives the dogs some place to go and run about and chase balls--without engaging in immoral behavior and driving the neighbors to drink.

It did occur to me that fencing in the backyard will solve one other problem I've been ignoring--the back porch's gate is hanging by one hinge. We'll be able to remove it altogether when the yard is fenced in. Having finally made the decision, we're collecting estimates and waiting to hear what the options are. I've given the fence people three options. Option A (maxium fence), Option B (slightly less), and option C (only half the yard).

So in honor of the fence we don't have yet:

Mending Wall
Robert Frost
SOMETHING there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing: 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go. 15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 20
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across 25
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it 30
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 35
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 40
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

In other news: today I scored. I acquired a wheelbarrow, a reel mower, and a set of electric hedge trimmers--all fastidiously kept--for $10 each. (The reel mower is only 4 years old, received 3 years of use, and is $100 new. It's fantastic and light. I already cut the front and back yards with it. The wheelbarrow hardly shows use.)

Tomorrow, it's on to writing a play with short o words, some math, and I hope, a trip to the grocery store.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


It's only Wednesday morning and my desk already looks like a bomb hit it. Part of it is that my project right now requires about fifteen different references with charts and the like and they're all on 11" x 17" paper. I'm going to tackle that before moving on this morning. But then, oh, the stuff on my to-do list. First up, I get to finish writing a play using nothing but short a, short o, some consonants--no words more than one syllable. Most blends and digraphs are a no-no. No long vowels.

In other news, I had to tear out Ben's sleeve for the second time--this time I'd completely finished one sleeve and was a good four inches into the second sleeve when I decided to try the sweater on said child. Well, the body is just fine (and, to my horror, not nearly as big as I thought), but the sleeve was too narrow from armpit to wrist, and too short. It fits fine as long as he holds his arm straight out. But, most kids don't walk that way.

So I ripped it all the way back (this sleeve is cast on to the body and knit to the wrist instead of the other way around) and cast on WAY more stitches. I only gained about two and a half more inches, but the sleeve as a whole is bigger now. I thought I was probably going to have to rip it out and redo it again, but eyeballing it--it looks more in proportion with the rest of the sweater. So, maybe not. Unfortunately, it also means I probably can't even finish the one sleeve until my last skein of yarn comes in over at the yarn shop. (:::taps fingers:::) I'm in the mood to finish Ben's sweater so I can start on Milo's. Did I mention how beautiful I find this yarn? I know I did. I'll say it again. So much so that I'm not contemplating making Max one in orange or red stripes and then having these sweaters be the sweaters we take their annual family portraits in. If I wait until Fall and get real portraits done (outside instead of in a studio), it could be a real keepsake. 'Cause I know as soon as I let them wear the sweaters to school they're going to come home with tempra paint on those white stripes and I'll have to shrug and say, "Oh, well. It's only a wool, mohair, and silk blend. No biggie." And since I'm definitely in the "wear it till it wears out" camp and not the "you take CARE of that HEIRLOOM I knit you!" category (meaning, I know you love it if it has tempra stains on it--but if it still looks beautiful a year after I gave it to you, I know it's been shoved in a drawer somewhere) I'm totally cool with that. But I'm not beyond holding the sweaters until they've been properly photographed before I let you wear them to school.

It's unnatural, my adoration of this yarn.

Speaking of yarn--so I finished that second baby sweater for Baby Oliver last week, pretty much AT the baby shower, right? We brought it home to block it and Charlotte discovered that it bleeds like nobody's business. After it was all dry I discovered that not only did it bleed, but it bled in such a way that the front was one big green blob and the back looked like it hadn't bled at all. That's even worse than having it bleed green everywhere. So I washed it again and it bled and bled and bled and . . .

Forget it! The label says it's machine washable. I machine washed it (in cold, I'm not a complete nimrod) with ordinary old Sam's club ($10 for one metric ton) detergent THREE times with the extra rinse cycle and ta-da! It seems to be done bleeding. I washed it with two yellow towels, a white and green table cloth, and a white table cloth--and none of them came out green, so . . . I think we're good to go. It's still more greenish than it started (there isn't a lot of bright yellow left) but it's a lot less green than it was after the first two washes, so I'm satisfied. One more day of drying and I'm mailing it to Baby Oliver's parents to deal with. At least we all know for sure that it's machine washable (in cold).

Max update. Max seems to be adjusting well to school. He hops out of the truck every morning and has a new best friend there (Little John). He went through a period there (that I totally predicted) where he had to learn a thing or two about How Classrooms Work (dude, you can't make that much noise here) and about What Fourth Graders Write (dude, one paragraph won't cut it). He is still the youngest (or one of the youngest) kids in the class. I think Little John might actually be a month or two younger than Max. Neither of them are the smallest in the class. They keep each other company as the two big, but a little immature, kids. That said, the teacher is stellar--totally keeps things in order, has big expectations for my guy, and isn't afraid to issue appropriate consequences as they are earned. I really appreciate this since one of my BIGGEST frustrations the first time around with public (I know this is a charter school, but . . . it's public, okay?) school was that the teacher seemed to locked Max into this little box in which she didn't EXPECT that Max could be this cooperative, productive, well-behaved child. This teacher was willing to take my word for it that he could be (plus, she'd seen some of that when I was with him during the day we observed) and she has made sure that he knows she knows he can be that kid. So, on more days than not, he is. God bless her for that. At any rate, as I had predicted, we're seeing a positive effect on his writing and he's getting beans for being good at math.

The Sister Missionaries came over yesterday and I was amused to see that neither of them really had a lot of experience with food storage--it's something their Mom does. One said, "I hope my Mom doesn't find out I'm doing this, she'll make me help with ours when I get home." They are such KIDS! So cute. At any rate, they helped me measure out 100 lbs of chicken broth into 1 and 1 1/2 lb bags (4 lbs fits in a mylar envelope, but since 1 tsp=1 cup of broth, noone can use that much chicken broth in a reasonable amount of time. So I cut the envelopes in half and we did smaller sacks. I have to go through tomorrow and see which envelopes didn't seal properly and re-do those, but the worst is done.) Now I can start calling people and get them to come get their stuff. Yay!

Alright, enough. Back to work. I have an office to clean and then I need to get cranking out some short a words.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I've been trying, recently, to stop doing paying work on Sundays, but I haven't quite reached the level where I think I could fairly call it a Day of Rest. The only "work" I did today was to answer a few emails, which is certainly a step in the right direction. It's much better than my usual which is about a 4-hr work day for Sundays.

I slept in until 9:30, which got us all off on a better footing. I don't remember feeding the kids breakfast, but I can see from the kitchen that I did. Somewhere around 10:30 I started feeling more awake, so I pulled a 50 lb bag of black beans from the pile in the basement, opened it, and started measuring black beans into mylar bags. At some point I stopped and did an internet search to learn more about the oxygen absorber packs we have. This led to me throwing out the ones that failed the test and taking steps to make sure we didn't lose another 50 packs right away. Around this time a kid from Max's school called him to chat. They were both planning on going to a school function later in the afternoon.

Now, this child apparently is a part-timer at church. I didn't remember him at all, but that doesn't mean he doesn't go regularly. During Sacrament meeting I'm too busy with my own kids to notice anyone else's kids. And since my memory for names is abysmally poor, I didn't have a mother to match with his name either. For that matter, I didn't have a last name to go on. Let's call him . . . Little John.

At any rate, I tossed at Max "If Little John wants to go to church with us, I can take you both over to the school after church." Max tossed this at Little John. Little John called his mother (who I understood to be working**), got permission, and graciously accepted. What I didn't understand was that Dad wasn't home either, Mom's cell phone was in an area where she got little to no reception, and the child lived about as far on the other side of town as a child can get and still be in State College. It took another 45 minutes to acertain all this, during which time I *did* get a last name. So I found Little John's address in the Relief Society phone list and we headed over there. Little John came out to meet us--in his shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers with no socks. I wasn't sure what to do at this point. On the one hand, I'm a fierce believer in the FACT that our church has no dogmatic rules about what you wear to church.

Technically, you're just supposed to go with a reverent heart and the understanding that we keep our kids with us during the service. Also we don't have a minister as it is understood elsewhere and once a month our service looks like a cross between an unprogrammed Quaker meeting (except we have sacrament and hymns) and an evengelical tent service (except our hymns aren't gospel, it's a faux pas to shout "Amen!"--say it, yes, shout it, no--and we don't pass the plate).

If you've never been to an LDS service, you know, just go once. We're a nice bunch.

But culturally we do get hung up on dressing nice. We don't care if you put on make up. Half the congregation is sleep-deprived from young children. We'll look the other way and never say a word if you show up with mis-matched shoes, as long as they're dress shoes. Girls, Mommies, and Ladies wear dresses. Boys, Men, and male teenagers wear dress slacks and button-up shirts. The wild ones wear a colored shirt. The ones who used to be wild wear a loud tie.

Now, one of Chris' Traumatic Childhood Memories is of being invited to a Mormon youth dance at some tender age and showing up under-dressed. He was mortified and I've heard that story more times than I care to admit. So in the interest of preventing such an atrocity, I gently asked the boy if he didn't want to change into church clothes and bring his shorts with him to change into later. No, he said he couldn't find any. Well, I have mornings like that. In fact, judging from the pile of dirty clothes in the three upstairs closests, we're maybe two days away from that. So I asked him if he was comfortable going as he was and he assured me he was . . . about that time his older brother pulled up in a pickup truck. The young man sported two piercings in his right eye-brow, but seemed very nice. I ran the situation past him and he asked Little John the same questions and received the same answers. We shrugged and let it go.

By the time we got to church we were running so late that they were just finishing passing the Sacrament. I decided this was a Good Day to sit in the hallway and listen to testimonies from there. I spread out paper and crayons and spent the next 50 minutes trying to impress on Little John and Max that although they were pleased as punch to be together, I still expected some reasonable behavior from them. I won the war but lost some battles. At the end of service they trotted off (okay, bolted down the hallway) to their Sunday school class. I went and found one of their teachers and filled them in on the situation (read: asked her to sit between the boys) and then dropped off Ben and Milo at primary and headed off to my own Sunday school class. Later, the Sunday school teacher found me and informed me that both boys had been stellar during class--and that yes, she'd sat between them. I was relieved. I found the boys myself, took them over to the school, and returned to church to knit in the hallway until the third hour was over. The missionaries found me at this point and expressed interest in coming by this week. I pounced. They're such easy targets.

Now I have two young women helping me package up the frickin' frackin' chicken broth on Tuesday. 100 lbs of chicken broth is going to take me forever to measure and seal in mylar bags without some help. I'll set aside some over-sized t-shirts of Chris' to protect their suits.

Ben and Milo and I headed home and I got another 50 lbs of beans done before it was time to get Max from school. By the time I got back to work doing the third 50 lb bag of beans it had been six hours since I'd done the first one and I noticed that the oxygen absorbers had done their jobs. The first batch of black beans was totally vacuum packed. How COOL is that? My back was aching, but I felt pretty competent there.

In the end, I divided 250 lbs of black and pinto beans into 5 lb bags of sealed mylar bags. I processed 10 lbs of cheese powder (that stuff is HORRIBLE to measure!), 50 lbs of rice, and 50 lbs of sugar (no oxy pack needed).

I still have 20 lbs of cheese powder and 100 lbs of chicken broth to go. But I'm thrilled to have so much done. This is going to be a Very Productive Week. I can feel it. In my Big Work Project the appetizers are over and the Main Course has begun. I feel like doing an Especially Good Job this week (as Pooh might say). And with that, I'm off to bed.

**Later I learned that Mom and Dad were at family-owned property where they were spreading the ashes of a recently departed loved-one. They get poor cell phone reception there. The two older brothers were in charge of Little John and judging from the older of the two brothers, he was in fine hands--if he wasn't in church clothes that had more to do with the willingness of a 9-yr-old to avoid church clothing at all costs and the fact that all this "go to church with Max" stuff was very last minute. Well, that and maybe a backlog of laundry, but like I said, there but for the grace of God go I.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Comfort Food

One thing that happens when I go the sleep-deprivation route is that the next day I need comfort food in a horrible way. This is exacerbated by, erm, hormone issues this week. So I needed elbow macaroni with butter and salt this morning like a guy in a desert needs water. Luckily, I didn't just have butter--I had Amish butter which my aunt had purchased for a couple hundred bucks at the grocery auction (okay, no--but it's that rare product at the grocery auction that exceeds the cost of the non-Amish item at the grocery store). What I didn't eat, Milo (my mini-me) polished off.

When I got home from the library, I was suffering a from late afternoon, post-library "I need a nap NOW" condition--so I threw together burritos, chopped up some strawberries and called them the meal's fruit, and served that to the family. I ate one, then crawled to the back bedroom and passed out for about an hour.

When I woke I was feeling much better about things, so I went to the basement and started cleaning off my desk (if it seems like I'm always cleaning off my desk--well, I am. I'm just always messing it up, too). I even tracked down some cleaning spray and gave it a good rubdown. (Which led to me thinking that it's about time for me to buy a new $13 door and a can of paint to give my desk a fresh new look.)

It was my intention this evening to sit and watch a movie with Chris and work on the Orenburg sampler, because I was kind of hoping to cast-on the shawl tomorrow, but my brain had other ideas. In addition to comfort food, it wanted comfort knitting. So even though cleaning my desk led to knitting on some of the projects on my desk, I didn't turn the heel on the sock waiting to be turned. I didn't knit a few rows from the Orenburg charts. I did do a thumb.

And then I wove in some ends. Maybe a third of them.

So here's the status of the first Finnish Mitten so far.

Earlier in the day, I had discovered this crime scene:

Bad dog.

Luckily, I had another set of bamboo 7s--they're my short pair, but I only have the sleeves to go on this sweater, so I switched over to those. I'll have to get a new set of longer 7s in order to do Milo's matching sweater in green, but at least I can carry on another day with Ben's sweater.

Before I knew it, I'd abandoned anything more complicated in favor of simple

knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit
lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup
knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit
lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup
knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit
lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup lrup

and then

knit knit purl purl knit knit purl purl etc.

Every bit as satisfying at the macaroni with butter and salt--only less fattening.

(That the sweater is 5 stitches to the inch helps, too. Progress is fast and visible.)

Sleepy, Sleepy Saturday

That title is misleading. The fact is that the kids had me out of bed before 8am, which is only significant because I stayed up till 1:40am finishing up a work project so I could start today with that behind me. I had intended to sleep in until about 10am and then get the day going, but I failed to fill the kids and poodles in on the plan and so there I was, more or less on my feet.

I can't do that--the whole staying up past midnight thing--as well as I could when I was younger. My brain suffers. But I'm still trying desperately to accomplish great things today since I know that tomorrow I'll feel even more wonky and anyway--I really need to spend all day tomorrow on church-related things.

So I stumbled around for long enough to get a handful of brain cells working cooperatively and started organizing the materials I needed for work today. This took two hours. There were a lot of materials and some of them needed printing out. Just as I realized that I was working with a horribly out of date resources (which threatened the success of one of my projects for today) the Saturday Fedex Guy showed up with a massive box from the client with new materials. Yay!

Finally I got everything loaded up in the car and left for the library. I always hope the librarians don't notice I'm schlepping half of my office up to the second floor (where the free wifi is). But the fact is that working here is quiet, doesn't involve having to get anyone juice just as I come up with a good idea, and gives me an excuse to claim some mileage on my tax form.

I spent the first hour downstairs in the children's room reading what seemed like two hundred easy-reader books. I was reminded again that most easy reader books are awful. No wonder Frog and Toad is so popular. True controlled vocabulary combined with subtle humor.

At any rate, back upstairs with my stuff and my 42 easy reader books, I'm transferring a bunch of music to my mp3 player in hopes of staying awake long enough to accomplish Great Things. Or at least, Things.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Is there a nicer knitter than a Fin?

*If you found this post by googling, please see this post for the finished Finnish Mittens: right here

When I'd gone as far as I could go with the Finnish Mitten instructions, I wrote to three different sources for help.

I wrote to the original company. No response.

I wrote to the Yarn Harlot. Very kind, albeit brief response (since she's in the middle of a North American book tour and all) helping me out with the braid on the mittens.

I picked a random Finnish knitter who had a blog in both English and Finnish. I read Lene at Dances with Wool, so she would have been the obvious choice, but at the time, she was still away on a trip. So I picked a blogger referenced in the comments section back on the Harlot's blog. She blogs under the name Ziina. She agreed to look over the pattern and my feeble attempt at translation. I sent her the most recent version (which included the braided part I'd already had help with) and she sent it back to me this morning with corrections. She also agrees that the picture doesn't match the directions and that there should be four flowers on the mitten cuff. She does warn us that the needle size might be a little small--she recommends not dropping back down to size 1 when we get to the palm as it might make the mittens too small. (We translated the needles as sizes 1 and 2, it may be that they should have been 2 and 3.) I'm not too, too worried as if they're too small for me, they'll probably make a perfect Christmas present for Jill (don't get your hopes up though, girl--if they fit me I'm keeping them ;). I'll want to do this pattern again anyway once I get more of the kinks worked out in the whole colorwork process.

I forwarded the corrected directions to Charlotte. I can't believe how much time and trouble Ziina has saved us :) Thank you, Ziina!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Today I Worked

I worked and I worked and I worked and there is sooooo much left to do. So let's not focus on that. Let's focus on the sweet things about today.

Milo drew this picture. "I drew a biiiiiig rectangle. That's your bedroom. And this little circle here, this is me. I'm sleeping in your bed. Wait. I need a smile." Trots off. Trots back--now circle has a smile.

Me: "Is this a book?"

Milo: "No, that's my blanket. It's a square. And this (points to rectangle off to the right) is the window."

Me: "I can tell. It has light lines coming out of it."

Milo: "Yeah."

Trots off. Trots back.

Milo: "I added my dreams. I had six dreams." (indicates the squiggles coming from his circle head and heading towards the window).

Me: "That is very cool, Milo. Show Daddy."

Milo: "I'll add some more dreams then."

Trots off. Trots back.

Milo: "There. And I wrote the story at the bottom."

It was only later when looking at it more closely that I realized the "dreams" are really numbers written in "early preschool" handwriting.

Speaking of early preschool.

I did mention that I've never actually done any color work before, right? Can you tell?

So, it's a little messy and I probably am doing it ALL wrong. But the outside is coming along and I tell myself all those ends will make the insides nice and warm.

And this is where I need to stop.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

"That was a really good day," said Aunt Charlotte.

And I, feeling a bit tired and ready for bed, could do little more than nod as the Aunts piled out of the truck with Grannie and headed for their rooms at the Bed and Breakfast. But here I am back at the house, sitting on my rent-a-couch (which is very convenient, but at night I notice a faint odor and I'm glad it's going back on Friday), and replaying the events of the day.

There are so many times when I go about my life here and think, "the Aunts would love this." Often I think specifically of Charlotte because we spent more time together last year and because her tendency to email me little comments after reading the blog has further educated me on Things Charlotte Likes. But the Aunts are birds of a feather in many regards and while they don't drink the same kind of wine or do the exact same crafts--they appreciate many of the same things.

When Charlotte first told me they were planning to visit here in April, one of my first thoughts was that I should take them to Belleville. There are a lot of Amish in the part of Indiana where the farm is located and Charlotte gets her eggs, and sometimes a chicken, from the Amish. Charlotte is mostly vegetarian and if she does eat anything animal instead of vegetable or mineral, she likes to know it lived a good life. So I felt they would want to go to Belleville not to see the AMISH, but because they know that where there are Amish there are hand-sewn quilts, good food, and that special feeling that comes with combining a complete lack of fear of work with a decidedly simpler lifestyle.

Charlotte liked the sound of the grocery auction and Caroline and Granny were willing to go along for the ride. So we went today, Wednesday, the morning once a week when the Belleville farmer's market is in full swing (although it's still not even at 50% capacity this time of year) and the grocery auction starts at 10:00 am. Caroline knew that I wanted eggs and that my cut-off price is 75 cents a dozen. I won't pay more than that for a dozen eggs at the grocery auction. So while I was parking the car she was getting grandma settled in a chair and eggs came up--and the price settled in at 75 cents a dozen--so she got me three dozen. I picked up another five dozen at 65 cents (but Caroline's eggs were better in that her cartons don't REEEEEK of cigarette smoke), two packages of Thomas' English Muffins for 65 cents each, a 5 lb bag of potatoes for $1, 3 bunches of green garlic for $1, and an apple turnover.

Green Garlic:

Charlotte found a woman selling rubarb plants and bought two for the farm's little garden. I bought a round of moon pies for everyone--then we hopped back in the truck and went over to Peight's for some shopping there. Charlotte pointed out a steam pot that she said would help me make tomato juice in the fall. I made note of that and we bought a bit of this and that including some peppered gravy that I'd said I'd use for biscuits and gravy one of these mornings. I think I'll save it for a treat after the next time Chris mows the lawn.

After Peight's we headed home--bought gas and robitussin on the way because Charlotte has a cough and a cold now. We had lunch, did some knitting--then it was time for Granny's nap and the Aunts went with her. I took Max to piano and we all regrouped back at my place around 5:30. We made dinner, which was simple but took longer than I imagined to finally get on the table. We had garlic bread using the garlic I'd bought and it was perfect.

I had promised Charlotte I wouldn't cast on until she did--so we sat down and cast on for the Finnish mittens, knit one row--and called it a night. From this point on we'll stay in touch about the mittens--well, we have to. We still don't have the thumbs translated and there are little errors in the directions as written (no, really--one color is referenced that doesn't exist in the kit and another color is never referenced even though you can clearly see that it's the second-largest quantity of yarn in the kit). I really like the yarn in the kit and I think the difficulty level on these mittens are more than manageable if we can get help getting the rest of it translated. I heard from a very sweet Finnish blogger who may be able to help us. I sure hope so.

At any rate, here we are at the end of a full and enjoyable day. Feels like bedtime. Tomorrow the Aunts and Grandma move on to Ann Arbor for baby Spencer's baby shower. I put my nose back to the grindstone and crank out a ton of work between tomorrow and Monday. But today was an Amish Moon Pie of a day. You can't beat that.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Visiting with the Aunts

After I wrapped up the work yesterday that I absolutely had to finish before I Could Go On With Things--we all hit the road. Now, Connie had to hurry home because she is blessed with grandbaby duty. Baby Spencer's Mom works for a Charter School (read: gets no time off, not even for having a baby--this is NOT Okay with Baby Spencer's Mom, but it is what it is, and at least she knows that her Mother-in-law would stick a needle through her own eye before letting harm come to Baby Spencer.) so Grandma Connie gets to be Daycare Grannie now. (Come the summer though, I think she should go into the Diaper Cake business, but I digress.)

Yesterday's errands were somewhat utilitarian in nature. Grandma Helen needed more ensure, Milo was out of night diapers, and I needed two more pork chops to make the meal. We were all really hungry while shopping at Wegmans, so we came home with more stuffed mushrooms and sushi than we really needed, but it'll all get eaten (I had half the leftover sushi for breakfast myself). From there we went to the Wine and Spirits store to get some wine and spirits (we had a dusty bottle of Merlot and I don't know what else, but none of what the ladies visiting usually drink) and then to Red Lobster for lunch. The twins were swell, but they seem done with their growth spurt and between that and a spring cold that seems to have removed their tastebuds, they hardly touched their lunch. So we brought home the leftovers and Chris polished them off.

After Red Lobster it was off to JCPenney for an outfit for Grandma Helen. They were having a 50% off sale so I grabbed one shirt for Max while I was there. Then we all found a pair of PJs we liked and Grandma treated us all to a round of new spring/summer pjs. It gets HOT in our bedroom at night in the summer (although thermal drapes is first on my list of things to get when I get paid with the "extra" check in May. Actually second on the list. First on the list is getting the trucks aligned and the tires rotated.)

From there we headed home as half the party really needed a good nap (it wasn't the four-year-olds) and I passed an hour and a half working on the Finnish Mittens instructions. We had pork chops for dinner with those mushrooms and sushi and homemade apple sauce and some green beans--a hudgepodge but it all worked out. We celebrated Caroline's birthday with a big ice cream cake from Meyer's Dairy and then called it a night. I worked another hour and a half on the Finnish Mittens instructions and then went to bed.

It was a weird night. Chris had bad dreams, Max had bad dreams--and I dreamed ALL night of trying to translate Finnish Mitten instructions. No, really.

This morning will be full of Things to Check off the List and then the afternoon stretches ahead of us. I think Charlotte and I will hit the LYS and then retire to house to attempt the first six rounds or so of the Finnish Mittens. I broke down and emailed The Yarn Harlot for help. It was she who first made Charlotte and I die laughing here and then caused Charlotte to slip and fall, swiping her mastercard on the way down over here.

Charlotte gifted me with Wendy Knits. I'm enjoying that very much. She also brought with her the book Mason*Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. What an amazing book! I'd thought of hiding the book and letting her accidentally forget it here, but that would be mean, so instead I'm trying to figure out what I can cut from the menu plans so I can spend grocery money on it. Besides the fact that the book is a delight to read, it has an amazing assortment of NOT boring rugs. We really need some rugs. Ah! The aunts have arrived!