Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good Save

This sock

does not fit Chris.

It was supposed to. It's a wool/LLama/Alpaca/rodent blend (Ok, no, just wool and alpaca, but I can't say alpaca without laughing). I started it last spring after thinking that since it took months of constantly knitting to make Chris' last pair of socks, that I was going to try to stick to worsted-weight socks for him in the future. And I cast these on and I KNOW I tried them on his foot and all was well . . . until last night, with only 3 inches left to go in the foot.

Oh, he could get them on okay, but they looked like they were straining to contain his foot. It actually managed somehow to make his foot look swollen. I made the socks to just be something soft he could wear without shoes while hanging out in his workshop, which is largely uninsulated. But they weren't going to work. I tried to slip into denial and keep going, but I couldn't even manage that.

As I sulked back to my desk, he suggested I try them on Max. So I did. And they fit beautifully. Which is kind of scary because they're not small socks. I shouldn't be surprised because I discovered this weekend that I can wear his shoes to walk the dog when I can't find mine.

Anyway, I finished up the sock with a new kind of toe (this is called a Badly Rendered Star Toe of Four Points, because I only read the directions every few rows or so and I never ripped back). Put it on Max, he was happy, I was happy. Life was good. But he's soooo on to me. As I was walking away he said, "Now, you ARE going to knit the second sock, right?" Actually, this is the wrong question to ask. I nearly always get the project DONE. I have very few true UFO's. I'm just running into issues recently (due to their insistence on meteoric growth) with not getting the project finished while it will still fit them. So. I promised him a second sock by Christmas.

It's November on Thursday and I have a LOT of knitting left to do between then and Christmas. I haven't started worrying about it yet. I just don't have the time. But I'll eventually get to that, too.

Speaking of things I'm not worrying about--my Tuesday afternoon Reader's Theatre group, which has been at times less than satisfying due to the nature of the that particular mix of personalities--is coming around. The last two Tuesdays have actually been mostly fun and their teacher, who is usually in the room at her desk doing paperwork while I'm teaching, said today that she can totally hear a difference in their reading. So that made me happy.

Coming tomorrow: photos of Zorro, Ketchup, and his twin brother, Mustard.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

With Chris' Permission . . .

I am planning a joint baptism/birthday party for Chris for the afternoon of December 8. If you will be in the area and want to help me plan, please call or email me. We really wanted to do a skating party, but the cost is out of our range for this year, so now I'm thinking we'll just clean the house from top to bottom and have everyone here. The grownups can talk, hang out upstairs. The kids can hollar at each other and run train tracks all over the basement. (Emily can't hold her licker, and that scares some of the littles, so she'll probably be tied to my waist.) If you're LDS or not LDS but always wanted to see what an LDS baptism was like, and you want to attend the morning baptism, let me know about that, too. I'll make sure I get you the exact time as soon as we have that and directions to the chapel.

From Above: So, Alaska, how are you?
Me: Well, Lord, you already know the ways in which we could use a little help. But if you mean how am I feeling? I'm feeling deeply humbled and grateful, God. Deeply, deeply humbled and grateful. The further along I get in this life journey, the more I really understand that Your timing is Perfect. Perfect and Amazing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday Morning

Have you seen the beautiful photo Chris took of fall trees here last weekend? Go to his blog and peek and you'll see just one of the reasons we are so smitten with the place.

Monday, October 22, 2007

:::Squeal, screetch, CRASH!!:::

Don't worry! Not my car. Just my mood.

Sometimes I really enjoy what I do for workwork. I imagine in those moments that I am really writing a great lesson that the kids and their teacher will enjoy as they soak up the skill or the facts or whatever . . . . [Sun shines, birds twitter.]

And sometimes I feel like a jammed cog in the stinkin' textbook machine, chained to standards, and feeling hopeless because whatever I write will be attributed to someone else and edited 700 ways to Sunday before it sees print. [F5 Tornado comes in and sucks all the happiness away leaving nothing but carnage and a fruit fly infestation in its wake.]

[Anyone remember the tsetse flies from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Atari game? Here's a screenshot from elsewhere in the game. Anyway, my kitchen is totally under attack by the friggin tsetse-fly-like fruit flies.]

Anyway, most of this past lesson I felt pretty good about until about 15 minutes after I submitted it and then my lack-of-sleep from last night caught up with me (no reason, just couldn't sleep) and CRASH I hate my job.

So I very carefully closed my email program before I responded to any work related emails (which are just as amazingly likely to be sent at 11:00 pm as 11:00 am because the people I report to work even more hours than I do) in ways I might regret.

Then I pitched my little fit here.

And now I guess I'll go to bed. So wah.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

There is Dried Pumpkin on my Tattoo

As I sat down to blog, I cast about for a title and came up with nothing. I then noticed that something from the kitchen had adhered to the tattoo on my right arm. As I thoughtfully flaked it off my arm (and onto the carpet, I suppose) I thought, "that's my title then."

The day started off big and stayed that way. We woke up at some reasonable hour (say, 7-ish) and crawled out of bed to get started on the day. I was heading up a "Take Back the Kitchen" demonstration and Chris was getting ready for a photoshoot. I got the boys to pick up the floor in the living room and vacuumed it while the first load of dishes ran. Then Gaye arrived to babysit and I drove over to Spring Creek park to be the photographer's assistant. We were taking Christmas portraits of a family from church. The area was so beautiful and they looked so photogenic that I made Chris promise he'd take photos for us, too. (That said, I won't let him do so until after my November haircut, so the trees are likely to be bare by then. Timing is everything.)

At any rate, this was a family of young boys, so we were completely done 40 minutes after we started. We stopped at Sheetz on the way home for a Diet Mountain Dew and then headed home.
I was worried about the tomatoes and peppers we'd harvested from the garden the day we tore the last of the plants out. Last night I managed to can the brussel sprouts (Charlotte, I pickled them per your recommendation) and the apples we'd bought a week earlier at Way Fruit farm (and longer and they'd have been no good). So today I needed to do something with the tomatoes, hot peppers, and the two Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Pumpkins we bought for pie.

I divided the tomatoes into two piles--over ripe and just right. I'm trying to decide whether to make a soup for dinner tonight with the over-ripe pile or just pitch them. We had BLT's for lunch using the "just right." and they were delicious.

I sorted out the hot peppers.

I can't decide what to do with them.

Taking photos of them was pretty entertaining.

But I don't have a clue what to do with them. I grew them to go in salsa. But there weren't nearly enough tomatoes left by the time the hot peppers ripened. So. What now?

While I pondered that, I cut up one of the winter crookneck squashes and baked them in three batches. I pushed the cooked squash through a strainer and put the puree in quart jars. It takes two to three cups of this stuff to make one pumpkin pie. I think we'll have enough for 6 to 8 pies. Wow. Right now I need some cheesecloth to get the extra liquid out of the puree. But after that I imagine I'll free most of it while Max and I begin experimenting with pumpkin pie recipes.

Between batches of pumpkin, I worked on the backlog of dishes. By the time I was done with the last batch of pumpkin, it was past time to get some real workwork done, so I sat down to do that and . . . promptly felt like all I really wanted in life was a good nap. I really, really, really need to get some work done though, so I'm fighting back with caffeine as I write this.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Short Blog About Long Day

I really, really need to go to bed, but before I do, I want to blog about the day because it was a truly unusual, special day. So, here is the Cliff Notes version:

7:00 Up and atem. Make sure all three boys understand it will be 30 degrees colder today than Tuesday and they must wear long shirts and jeans.

Breakfast, make lunches, get boys in truck, drive to Uni-mart, get some milks for their lunches because we're out of bottled water. Drop kids at school, pick up some stuff I had copied for tonight's meeting, go back home.

Change into outside work clothes. Chris goes to pick up missionaries. They arrive wearing outside work clothes. We dismantle the raised-bed garden, mow the lawn, take out all the volunteer tomato plants, pull weeds, trim back the grass that had grown too tall for the mower under the tomato growth . . . while Chris cleans off front porch and fills truck bed with things for the dump. Done. Load truck with all the gardening stuff. Go to Gaye's house.

Chris mows lawn, I do a smidge of weeding, the Gaye and I rescue some more gardening stuff from the stuff Chris had intended to take to the dump. We put that away. Missionaries rake the leaves along the back fence and pull them out to the edge of the road for county leaf pick-up. Gaye calls Chris to help her get the air conditioner out of her window. I take over mowing. Missionaries keep raking, pausing occasionally to pretend they are kung fu fighting with the rakes. (Kids, sheesh.)

Lawn is done, leaves are done, gardening stuff put away in Gaye's basement for the winter (well, we're not done with the rakes and tarps by a long shot.) We hop back in trucks.

At the community garden we harvest all the hot peppers. There are tons and they are ripe and hot and wonderful. Then we pull up all the plants and transport them to the compost pile. We do the same with everything else that's left in the garden. Finally, we close with fifteen minutes of weeding (three people weeding together for 15 minutes is like me weeding alone for an hour). [Oh, that? That's a stalk of brussel sprouts on his shoulder. We all thought the brussel sprouts were great fun, although only Milo and I really wanted to eat them.]

We all go get lunch and arrive home (separately, Chris had to drive the elders home first) just in time to change and run over to the school to do our Thursday afternoon reader's theater. Both classes did great. Time flies. We grab our own kids and head home. We hurridly fix dinner and enjoy it. I go back to preparing for my PAC meeting (fly in ointment--at this point we completely forget to take Max to his group piano meeting, never mind that it's at the same time and place it's been for 6 weeks now). and then I drive back to the school and chair a roller-coastery, at times emotional, meeting that I still consider a success because a) noone cried and b) I made us quit at the agreed upon ending time and c) it was the best attended meeting ever. I attribute this to my idea to list the topics in the note home to parents telling them about the meeting. Our particular PAC's biggest problem is that a) people think they have to join (nope, no fees, no nothing, you just show up) and b) people don't really know what we do. So we're working on that.

Now, I'd been up till 2:00 the night before finishing a work project (well, really I was up till 1:30, but then it took another half-hour to fall asleep) and so at the end of the meeting I was just ripped tired.

Nevertheless, I stayed another hour afterwards just chatting with R (who is in the PAC with me and also at church with me) and D (who is just in the PAC with me) before finally driving home. I was going over in my head how grateful I was that the meeting was over (they're just hard on the psyche) and how productive the day was and I felt, as I had all morning and most of the afternoon, soooooo grateful for the help of the missionaries in getting those chores done because they had been weighing on my mind and yet every moment is so packed with workwork or volunteering at the school right now that I just didn't have a CLUE when I was going to get those things done.

And here they were done. And done well.

And then I went totally numb, which is when I realized I'd have to blog this quick and then get myself to bed. Tomorrow must be all about workwork and Chris says Max is coming down with something, so we'll see . . . how it turns out. But you know, God really did a fine job today with sending me the things I needed. I really need two big missionaries willing and able to help me pull up tomato plants and I really needed a big hunky husband to do it all with us. And I needed the rain that came mid-afternoon to hold off until we were done with all of that--and it did.

Good day, God. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Piano Lessons and Related Thoughts

Today has been a really. nice. day. Largely, this is because Wednesdays are never as insane as Tuesdays, but this particular Wednesday was also good because I had turned in a project the night before that was running late. Today I worked on editing a lesson, but the writer is good and the progress has been smooth. I would take breaks here and there to start Corazon for Ben and Milo's piano teacher.

I've started these mittens a few times now, and never been satisfied with the start. This time I'm starting again with sport-weight sock yarn AND I am replacing the K2P2 ribbing with a sort of modified gauntlet that uses the braid I learned making the Finnish Mittens and is then followed by a couple rows of knitting and then corrugated ribbing. I really don't know the first thing about corrugated ribbing, but I found a description at the Interweave press website. (I tried their Norwegian Purl Method and succeeded only in making myself miserable, but when I tried holding the purl yarn in my right hand and the knit yarn in my left, I made sloooooow, but steady progress and I think I've about got it now.)

Nevertheless, I'm a little nervous that I have merely invented some new form of making knots and this isn't what corrugated knitting is supposed to look like. If YOU know what corrugated ribbing looks like, please feel free to reassure me.

This evening was the usual round of piano lessons and I thought the boys all did well. It's definitely an "up" phase for piano lessons--which can definitely have tough periods. Max's next recital is in only two weeks and he's taking it more seriously than any prior to this (and this is by far the most "casual" of the recitals his teacher does every year).

Can you believe this is our third year with this (Max's) piano teacher? It makes me feel so deliciously sane and stabile to be in the third straight year of ANYTHING, really. Two years at the same school. 2.5 years in the same house. That last one doesn't actually break a personal record but it puts us really close to it. 3 years and 3 months is our personal record for being in the same house.

Well, I've wandered off topic. Back to work!

Adwen's Sweater

At long last, baby Adwen's sweater is done:

I won't mail it till tomorrow since there are still a few damp spots around the collar, but phew! She'll be able to wear it before she outgrows it. It's such a race with these scamps.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ahhhhh, That's More Like It!

The temperature has dropped 14 degrees in the last three hours. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday with Gaye

Today was a full and busy day. We started out by picking up Grandma Gaye and going to a local farm to get some pumpkins and squash. We considered bringing home some of the kittens, too, but decided to pass on that. We did their corn maze and Chris took some pictures. This was all Gaye's idea and it was a good one.

Max playing the air gourd (those are pumpkin pie pumpkins says the lady at the stand. We're taking her word for it and bought two to try in a pie.)

Gaye was having a terrible time.

The local wildlife was very aggressive.

They had a poor selection of decorative gourds and indian corn.

But we persevered and made the best of it.

Then we hied back to Gaye's to watch General Conference on her TV. Gaye doesn't have any interest in the church, but she knows we don't have TV and was willing to let us use hers to watch the Sunday morning talks (which, because of the time difference, were really Sunday afternoon talks for us).

Gaye and I got some knitting done. I FINALLY finished Arwen's sweater (no photos yet, it's blocking) and she swatched some new yarn and then got started on a project from Mason-Dixon knitting. She's doing the lace curtain for the window in her front door. Bubba-the-cat was very interested and wanted to help.

He tried so hard and for so long to help with our knitting (I took pictures of him "helping" with my sock yarn, but they got deleted. As the Yarn Harlot would say, "We will speak no more of this.") that he passed out cold.

It's tough work being a good kitty.

We had a wonderful mid-afternoon dinner prepared by Gaye of pot roast, cooked carrots and potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, and biscuits. After dinner we knit a little bit longer and then had ice cream and went home.

Not because we needed it or even particularly craved it--but just because I'd already made it--I baked up my first apple pie this evening. That turned out well, although like I said, we were still full from Gaye's dinner and none of us tucked into it the way we might otherwise have. We liked it well enough to try to save the recipe so that I wouldn't have to guess next time. The crust was perfect, so I can finally cross Learn How to Make a Decent Pie Crust off my list of things to do before I die.

Learn How to Make a Decent Pie Crust

Here I am, looking sweaty and . . . sigh. Never mind. Just look at the pie. October 7 and we're having a freakin' heat wave. I'm ready to just trade the stupid truck in for a bicycle built for five, myself.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fast Forward to Friday

Wow, what a crazy week. I meant to blog, but kept getting caught up in . . . life. Then I got to thinking that perhaps the week could best be summed up with a doodle:

Chris said, "How come you're smiling?" and I had to admit that it was sort of a mistake--a smile is just what I put there--except that I think it's accurate. I'm not feeling unhappy about any of the things I'm involved with right now. There just sure is a lot of it--Gosh, I didn't even remember to put anything representing the never-ending piano lessons/practicing in there either and we had lots of that this week.

Oh, well. Dinner for tonight is cream of tomato soup with a bagette bread fresh from the grocery store bakery. This morning Gaye and I went over to Way's fruit farm and came home with a half a bushel of Cortland apples, a half-peck of Gala's, and a half-peck of something else I'm blanking on. The Cortlands will become apple sauce, the Gala's are for the boys' lunches, and the others will become apple pie. I think. I haven't ever actually made apple pie before, so they could also become a disaster, but my pie crust has gradually improved over the year and so . . . I'm hopeful.

This weekend is General Conference and I'm really forward to the talks. I have GOBS of work, so I'll be streaming the talks tomorrow as I try to get that done, but Sunday we're watching the morning talks at Gaye's house (she has satellite TV) and then having dinner at her place.

Alright, back to the soup before it burns!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Musings

I have to keep this short as Chris says I have to go to bed with the kids tonight. I'm not exactly sure why, but it might have something to do with the impromptu speech I gave them at the dinner table about how I was NOT going to spend the next 8 to 12 years listening to their father ask them to use their manners at the table and that next Monday's Family Home Evening was going to be about showing some respect for the appetite's of others and THEY were going to come prepared to teach it! ::huff, huff, huff::

Shortly after that he suggested that maybe I needed some more sleep . . . . I wanted to argue about it, but I was too darn tired. So instead I did one of those big sweeps I have to do every week or two and cleaned the office so that at least I could have a productive day tomorrow.

Then I thought I'd add another project to Ravelry. So far this is my favorite feature of Ravelry. You can plug in the title of your project, the kind of yarn you used, where you got the pattern, all sorts of other fun details (including ranking the difficulty of the patterns and how much you liked the yarn), and then you can bring in your flikr pictures to illustrate.

So I thought I'd take a few pictures of the knee socks I'm working on for Milo. Here's how that went.

First, I convinced Milo to pose. This was not hard. I got this picture of last Christmas's socks. They're pretty snug now.

Then we changed him into jammy bottoms for the knee socks that are still in progress. I got this picture of the socks.

Aren't they smashing? Those'll be a great Christmas present. And toasty warm, too.

Then, because I was having fun with Chris' camera, which can do things mine can't even dream about, I took a closeup. Here's one of the bottom of the foot, showing off the Socks that Rock Fred Flintstone colorway.

And then I thought I'd document how much nicer my kitchener stitch looks than it used to.

And that led to me thinking, "Come to think of it, these toes were once one of my WIP's too!!" So I took a picture of those.

Like the bit of blue sock fuzz stuck in his toe? That's Claudia's Handpainted sock yarn fuzz. And that led to LOTS of giggling from the subject and his twinkie brother, so I took one more picture of how that "work in progress" is coming along.

Then I helped the kindergartener take the dpn's off his leg--and tickled the Ben and the Milo. A lot. And now it's time to jump into MY jammies and snuggle up with them!