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April 2007
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June 2007

Striving for balance

To be honest, the knitting/crocheting/sewing suffered mightily during my four-day weekend.  I'm quite pleased, though, with how all those days turned out and with what I accomplished -- even if some of it wasn't really on my radar.  You know?  It's all got to get done and it's best when I just go with the flow.

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I'd fully intended to dig into that closet, for instance, but I didn't intend to empty it out completely -- and that's basically what happened!  Just so you know, I am not the only packrat in the house.  DH sorted through last night and in that particular box, he turned up papers dating as far back as 1974 -- his hippie days (no, not those kind of papers) -- and while he got rid of quite a bit, those will remain in the archives.

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That particular closet, by the way, is of the long, narrow, shotgun variety so often found in older homes.  We once had three, but have reconfigured the other two over the years so that they're more useful.  There are shelves WAY back in that closet, one of them high and deep (requiring a stepstool, because the ceilings are taller than the average bear, too), and they've done quite a good job of holding things these past many years.  Obviously.

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Gardening was something I did plan on doing all along, especially around the pergola.  We moved some asters, pinks and sedum to make room for stepping stones, which will aid the tending of the big planter box behind the bench, which I've planted full of beans.  There are peas on either side of the bench and now beans behind.  I planted a couple of clematis in the other small box, along with some bellflower, and a hollyhock jumped into the box with 'Vera' while I was at the nursery, too.  And yes, I most certainly do think of Vera (and smile) every time I see it.

We enjoyed a cookout on Memorial Day -- and after enjoying a few meals now in the pergola, it's been determined that we definitely need more outside "table" space!  I think this means that I've found my next, long-awaited mosaic project!

Hey II

I'm still digging in the closets.  This morning, I found a bunch of old wall calendars -- really, really old.  Winnie-the-Pooh, 1978; Gnomes, 1979; The Chronicles of Narnia, 1982; Beatrix Potter, 1984 and 1985; etc.  I packed a lot of info into some of those little squares!  I can probably tell you exactly when I knew I was pregnant and when my doctors appointments were; when the kids got their shots and/or their first teeth and/or said their first word and/or were potty trained; when we closed on our house and when we moved; how long it was between dentist appointments and when I got my first crown.

I also found my high school diploma and my award for typing 70 wpm, and a bunch of old cards -- most of which will be dumped.  The sheet where I played around with "Irish girl names" and their meanings is a keeper, though; it's probably from the second pregnancy but maybe the third.  "Dave" is written in the top right corner of the first page, so that was settled.  Somehow, I thought that the variant spelling of Alison was different than "Allsun," but perhaps I was confusing it with one of her classmates in later years whose name was Aislynn (or something like that), pronounced Eileen.  Gorgeous, no?  Some of the other names I liked:  Ailis, Aindrea, Bevin, Brann, Brighid (var. Bridget), Casidhe (var. Cassidy), Ceara, Eilis, Eister (var. Esther), Siobhan, Mairin, Sosanna.  Also, Kevan, and I must have liked that one quite a bit because I wrote it several times.  I always did like the name Kevin, too.  I considered Regan/Reagan long and hard, also, but guess who was in the White House at the time?  It wouldn't bother me now, but the associations were different in 1987.

I don't find enough old stuff in my own house, I sometimes have to go buy it at Goodwill.  Like this book -- BH&G Crocheting & Knitting from 1977 -- which just goes to show that everything old is new again.

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Dsc00382What do you think, eh?  Does that not look like Mama Bear's Granny Square Afghan to Baby Bear's Granny Square Babette.  Materials:  4-ply acrylic, straight-up, some variegated -- 2 of navy blue and "an assortment of the same" in different colors.

I think I like it.

Okay, I'm heading back up to the closet.  Not only am I avoiding my sewing machine today, I'm also avoiding Quicken -- just for today -- hoping that the stupidity of my having deleted the working checkbook file wears off (not knowing, of course, that it was the working file because, cripes, I'm using the 2006 version now, not 2003 and it shoulda been okay to delete that junk) and the backup is older than the hills.  Yeah.  Otherwise, it's a great day here and I hope it's the same by you!


I have the lining pieces for the Larger Than Life Bag sewn up -- individually.  In a not-so-surprising move, I dove right in with a vague idea of how it would all turn out, reading the directions a little bit -- enough to calculate the dimensions based on the size of my own bag and to know that I didn't want a zipper.  I want to add pockets -- a big one that a magazine would fit into nicely, and a couple of smaller ones for cell phone, MP3 player, coin purse -- that part's not so difficult.  While I contemplate the more challenging details of closure and height and the actual marrying of the outer lining to the inner, I've been doing... other knitting, some gardening, a bit of cooking, some cleaning.  Major cleaning out!

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Today, I found myself deep into a closet where I uncovered things that haven't seen the light of day in a very long time.  Most of it is on its way to the shredder, which was the point, but the box marked "Katie's Stuff" was a bit of a surprise to find and Wow.

That's her first hat, the one that was warming her head by the time she was a minute old.  The brochure is from The Terimore Motel, where we lived for a few weeks before Katie's birth -- and for one week after.  It was her first unofficial home, as we'd sold one house but weren't able to move into the other.  We haven't been to the coast in years, but something tells me that "The Terimore" isn't the funky motel of my memory anymore and that the rates of $30-50 for ocean view units or partial-view cottages are definitely the stuff dreams are made of these days.

I thought I'd lost that handwritten account of my first labor and birthing.  I am very surprised and absolutely delighted to have uncovered it!  I remember writing it during one of my near-daily visits to the motel's laundromat while Katie napped in her car seat.  Most of our stuff was in storage in the new house, though for some reason, I'd brought the bassinet and a few things to the motel -- and those "few things" needed frequent laundering.

Anyway, holy cow, what a bunch of memories and stories flood my head and heart from just one month in that motel -- the books I read, the little sweater I suffered to knit -- I had increasingly more painful wrist and arm pain as the pregnancy progressed and that last month was hell -- the frantic phone call from a nearby phone booth to my mother regarding nursing and, more importantly, relief from engorged breasts that felt like glass and like they'd shatter if I breathed too hard.  Heh, she didn't remember anything like that.

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Interesting that I'd have stashed those worn out shoes -- not her first, but obviously well loved.  Katie is so stylin' all the time these days and shoes play no small part in that.  I think we sent for those from Huggies or something, maybe used points to get them, and over the years I have bought her fantastic shoes for her birthdays, to-die-for boots for Christmas.  This year, just days before her birthday, I heard Paulo Nutini's "New Shoes" on the radio -- amazing that it was the one and only time I ever did -- it was so fun and fit the occasion to a T, so I ordered the CD.  He's a young, Scottish singer/songwriter (I know... you're thinking, "Sounds Italian to me," huh?) and I have to say, I bought it for the one song, but I've enjoyed the whole CD quite a lot.  He's linked some videos (love the UK version of "New Shoes").

Dsc00357_3Hey, I put some new shoes on
And suddenly everything's right
I said, Hey, I put some new shoes on
And everybody's smilin', it's so invitin'
Oh, short on money but long on time
Slowly strollin' in the sweet sunshine
And I'm running late, and I don't need an excuse
'Cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes

                   --Paulo Nutini, New Shoes

Well, Baby's not the only one who needs new shoes -- sometimes Mama needs 'em, too.  (You can tell they're the Mama's because of the swollen ankles, actually somewhat improved by the time the pictures were snapped.)  Truth be told, I went shopping for sandals.  I tried on some Wolky, some Finn Comfort (holy cow, I'd have to save a few more pennies), and a few others, but I was feeling mighty Keen.  I love 'em!

I hope you're all having a great Memorial Day, and remembering.

Ready to sew

Iris1 Iris2

We probably have a half-dozen different varieties of iris -- most came with the house and some we were given.  I don't think we've ever purchased any, at least not from a nursery.  I can't pick a favorite -- there are things I like about each one -- it's the daintiness of the blue flag, the veined maroon and golden yellow color combo of the other.

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Except for weaving in some ends, I've finished the crocheting/knitting portion of the Larger Than Life Bag!

Ltl1I made the garter stitch gusset just over three inches wide -- the squares are roughly six inches each and I liked that proportion; I thought that four would be too wide.

Because of the way I picked up the stitches on the first side -- from the wrong side so that the single crochet stitch made a little ridge (or corner) -- the only way I could think to join the two and have the same ridge stitch/corner was to also pick up stitches along the second side, and then three-needle it all together.  I did one side at a time, as I was flyin' a little bit blind, but it was worth the fiddlin' (and a little bit of rippin') because I love how it turned out.

I'll be able to fire up the sewing machine!  My goal for this four-day weekend, at minimum, is to have this bag all finished!!

Oh, baby

I was surprised this morning when one of the "underwires" in my bra snapped, revealing its true nature as something more like "underplastic."  The "underwhatever" does actually do something and when one is broken, there's a difference.

It's just the normal noises in here.  Look!  More flowers!!

Chive2 Chive1

Chives.  What's your favorite thing to do with chives?

Iris Pergolapeas

I'll soon have a showy iris -- a lovely, dark purple with parchment white -- I'm pretty sure this is one of the antique-y ones we inherited with the house; they make me think of dusting powder, rouge pots, rose water, arsenic and old lace.  The sugar snap peas still have a ways to grow, but my, how they've taken off!

052407_1040_editedI had a busy day yesterday, with lots of running here and there -- some planned, some not, including an emergency (unplanned) mission to give one of Maddy's friends a lift from school in the middle of the day.  After that -- and a stop at Mom's (semi-planned), DH and I grabbed some lunch out (unplanned) on the way to the home improvement store (planned) where we looked at metal roofing.  Our big, wrap-around back porch needs a new roof this summer.  This will mean tearing off all of the existing layers before applying new.  After a stop at the hardware store (unplanned) to see if they had a tool thingy that DH had lost and the other place didn't have, I stopped at a hair salon (unplanned) that I sometimes patronize to see if anyone was free to cut my hair.  They had an opening an hour later and I had at least 4 inches whacked off (exact length of whack job, previously contemplated but in essence unplanned) (it now just grazes my shoulders) plus a slight bit of layering and some thinning.  I can still get it in a ponytail (the biggest priority in my hairstyle choices of the past decade).

While I definitely do have a baby to knit for (niece/nephew due in August), Deb's idea behind The "24" Baby Knitting Shower is just too funny and clever to resist.  We'll soon be heading up north for a few days of listening to the quiet (not this weekend -- that would not be quiet), and I've been thinking about what to bring -- hopefully, I'll have a finished bag that's Larger Than Life in which to tote my project(s), so I'll need something new -- well, I have some old stuff to bring... but I'll still need something new -- and I'm thinking "baby."  Specifically, I'm thinking Kipling by Kim K., which I discovered through Ravelry* and have in my queue, and I have enough Mission Falls yarn for at least two -- one for "my" baby and one for "Chloe's."

*Improvements and streamlining of features are happening every single day and it will be worth the wait.  They're getting there... to a point where it won't self-destruct once the gates are thrown wide open, anyway.

Dsc00332_3There's a ton of bleeding heart and wild columbine blooming in the garden right now, a bunch of forget-me-nots and there are flowers on the chives, the garden phlox is starting and the dianthus will soon explode, and there's one lonely -- but big and beautiful -- allium.  It stands very tall over the garden.

I am absolutely delighted to report that I'll actually have peonies blooming this year, also.  I have had couple of transplants in the garden for the past couple of years and they'd always get to a certain point -- I'd see tiny little buds forming -- but never bloom.  This year, they both have three or four very big buds that will undoubtedly open and I'm so excited!

It's the little things... like CAKE!

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When Nova posted about La Bete Noire, I knew that I could take her word for how good it is (and her photo did a pretty good job of conveying the rich goodness), but I also knew it would be coming out of my oven before too long.  I had perfect occasion to serve "The Black Beast" last night and it was a complete and total hit.  It's not very difficult to make, but time for all stages must be heeded -- baking, cooling, ganache-ing, refrigerating.  Also, I do not have a springform pan, but I do have a tart pan which I've substituted for a springform with great success on a number of occasions -- I get a little thrill and shivers when I push on the bottom and watch a cake emerge out the top.  Fabulous!



Wouldn't it be nice if you could give someone a bouquet of forget-me-nots and they really would forget-you-not?  We went to visit Grandma yesterday.  I miss her.

Today's another crazy day...  I'm feeling out of the loop and like there's no time for anything -- almost incommunicado -- and I miss you guys, too!

Larger than life... this lifetime?

Okay, so, I crocheted the band and counted rows but didn't measure.  I sewed it onto one side and, of course, it came up short.  Could have been a problem with the counting, more likely it was gauge.

I frogged it all and picked up stitches all around from the right side with a trusty 8US circular knitting needle.  ("H" crochet hook = 8US knitting needle.)  I knit a few rows and then decided that, in this case, the nice little ridge made from the picking up would be better on the outside.

I frogged it again and picked up stitches all around from the wrong side and knit a few rows.  That's where it stands.  The difficulty in photographing the work in black is similar to the difficulty in working it, plus I feel like I've been working it forever, and blahblah rough yarn and blahblah sore hands and blahblahblah I'll git 'er done.  Nose to the grindstone.

What else is new?  Oh yeah, I've been talked down from the rollerblades, at least in regards to "walking" my small but very powerful dog who is not a good listener, who is ruled only by her nose, and who has nearly yanked my arm from its socket and pulled me off balance with my feet flat on the ground never mind being on wheels.  I don't even have rollerblades or a helmet or wrist-, elbow-, knee-pads (and I'm thinking that a full-length bubble-wrap suit might be the way to go, anyway) and thinking that there are better uses for that money (such as wool) and I'd be more successful with the dog in the long-term if I just picked up the pace while walking.  And get out and do it.  Thanks for all the advice (and warnings).

HeartAll weekend long, I thought about Chelsea's "Flower Week" post on Friday, but I never took a picture.  Here's an oldie-but-goodie -- a Flower Week placeholder -- that I use as wallpaper on my computer from time to time (when I'm not using pictures of the girls or a spectacular photo from Katie's UK/Europe trip last year or an irresistably cute snapshot of Mack).  I'm taking half the day and heading up to my brother's to spend the afternoon with him, one of my sisters, and our dad.  Tomorrow, I'm taking half the day and hosting Dad for a visit at my house (the only time the girls can all be there).  I'll be looking for flowers -- today, I might also find llamas.

8 Random Things

I started the week in random mode and with a timely tag by Ann (random fact: she lives in a yellow house), it will end that way.

1.  I live in a very dark teal-ish blue house with off-white and maroon trim.  My sister painted her house almost the exact same colors.  We need to do some paint touch-up this summer.

2.  I just got my first MP3 player -- a Mother's Day gift from the girls.  I had strongly hinted in the direction of my eldest -- okay, I called her up and told her -- that this is something I'd like but that a very important and useful feature on any model, for me, would be voice recording capability.  That's exactly what I got.  Yippee!  It's all charged up and now I just have to read all about it.

3.  My daughters' birthdays are within 10 days of each other; further, they were all born in odd years.  Their ages are all even during an odd year on the calendar, and all odd during an even calendar year; if I can remember the age of any one of them, it's easy to calculate the ages of the two.

4.  I usually have to think long and hard about how old I am.  Turns out, I am often wrong.  Math is not my best subject.

5.  There was an email from QuitNet in my mailbox this morning and there was almost something random about that.  I saw who the sender was and wondered for a moment what it might be about.  Then I remembered -- it's an anniversary!  I think it is a good sign that those not-so-random numbers -- 790 days quit (that's 26 months), 15,824 cigarettes not smoked, 4 months + almost 1 day of life saved, along with 2,750+ dollars (at least) -- seem a bit random.  Not to say that I still don't miss smoking and think about it quite often, actually, and wish that I could, but it's a wistful, dream-like thing now -- I wish I could smoke cigarettes in the same way I wish I'd win the lottery and be a bazillionaire.

6.  I borrowed a crochet book by Vanna White from the library this week.

7.  I'm thinking of getting rollerblades to "walk" the dog.  She's overweight and needs more activity; ditto for me.  My sister said that this was recommended by the Dog Whisperer (also putting saddlebags on the dog!).  I have enjoyed rollerskating and iceskating in the past, but it's been years; I've never rollerbladed.  It looks like fun, but also dangerous.  Tips & pointers welcome.

8.  Several years ago I stopped carrying a purse because of neck and shoulder pain.  It was really quite nice to be FREE.  I have a small wallet, which fits nicely into most pockets, for "the essentials," and only carry my checkbook when necessary.  Lately, though, I've found myself carrying tote bags that are often much bigger and much heavier than any purse, and they're full of stuff that I "might need" but rare use!

With a little help...

I had a great day with Ali yesterday.  I delivered her vanity and a few other things, and saw her apartment (she has a nice, big room), and then we dropped off her car for new tires and went out to lunch -- her choice.  First, we made a stop at Radio Shack -- I needed a new battery for my cordless phone (ack, it cut me off during a conversation with DAD the other day) and a headset so I can knit or crochet or clean... knit or crochet while I talk on the phone!

After lunch, we skipped over to a nearby Goodwill where I scored an old Steve Martin album and a book, and Ali found a couple of pairs of pants for work and a few little things for the apartment (cleaning stuff!).  Hancock Fabrics was also close and I was so happy to have an able assistant to choose fabric for lining my Larger Than Life Bag!

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I didn't have the bag with me for color matching and I didn't have the pattern for yardage requirements (so my yardage is... um, let's say... very healthy), and thank goodness for Ali and her artist's eye.  I think she's only seen these squares a few times on the blog!  I was not so sure about these choices and I kept asking, "Are you sure this wouldn't be better?  How about this?"  She was nice, but firm, replying, "THAT??  In THOSE colors?" in a way that came through loud a clear, and was later rewarded with some flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth stuff that caught her eye.

Isn't it perfect?  I'm so excited to finish now!!  The dark stripe will be the outside of the lining and the lighter stripe will be the inside of the lining.  Yeah.  Let's see if I can pull that off.  And I'd also like pockets.

We picked up Ali's car and it's insane how happy we were about new tires.  I'd been talking with a nice guy at the tire place on the phone a few times -- checking options, making the appointment -- and he happened to be the one to handle our paperwork in the end.  Turned out he was young and cute and I think my daughter knocked his socks off -- well, actually, she left him speechless.  I swear.  He was telling us something terribly important (I'm sure) about the tires, blahblahblah, looked at Ali and totally lost it -- admitted that he couldn't remember what he was saying!  Too funny.  I love this stuff -- life is never dull.

Ali zipped off to work and I had a few minutes to spare before I had to pick up Maddy -- not enough to first go home -- so I did the only thing I could do and made a stop at Iris, my LYS.  I picked up a few skeins of worsted -- some 220 and Lamb's Pride to go with the Galway -- to work out the HEX, and I chatted with the owner.  She told me about a Master Knitter Interest Group they're starting and this might be It.  I recently read about Marlene's fabulous success in passing Level I on the first go -- and this has just been on my mind almost since I began blogging.

I'm glad y'all see the humor in the words we pick up and use -- even at a young age, even when we don't really know what we're saying, even when those words really aren't part of everyday language.  Honestly, my sister and her family do not F-this and F-that all the time, nor do I, but kids just seem to pick up on all that stuff that's bad in no time -- like cussing and candy!  There were some caramels on the table the other day -- Mack had never seen them before, but somehow he just knew... "I want that!"

Words we just know

I say, "Fuck it!"***

Darn it, Bloglines -- what is the problem lately???

***I recently mentioned that Mack is talking a lot.  A lot.  The kid isn't even two for another month and he's saying things like, "How ya doin'?," "I'm good,"  "My nose is bugging me!,"  "I'm getting grumpy!"  and, after a tour of Mom's wildflower garden and an inspection of a prized new specimen from Japan:  "Jack's in the pulpit!!"

He's also saying things like, "Gawwd!" and "Dammit!"

His parents, of course, have been watching their tongues very, very carefully, but don't forget that he has two older brothers -- a LOT older and, well, it's an all-or-nothing kind of deal.  ; )

Then there's the extended family.  It must be a little bit in the blood.

In a conversation with my sister just this morning, she told me that something fell over or fell down the stairs or something and she said, "Oh crap!"

Mack said, "Fuck it."

Annie said, "No, Mack.  Remember?  We say, 'Darn it'."

Mack said, "I say, 'Fuck it'."

It snuck up from behind...

From out of nowhere, all stealthy-like, so I hardly even knew what was happening, influenced so subtly and yet by so many -- it's Larger Than Life!  It's a little bit Lynne, a little bit Margene, it's Ann and Katy, it's even Cara!  Can you believe it?  Cara is wielding a freakin' crochet hook (and just wait... wait 'til you hear what she's using).  It's a fever, isn't it Deb?  It's The Purl Bee -- Granny Squares and Babette.


Someone's put a HEX on me!!

In the face of everything I've got going, this is what I found myself doing last night.  The exact nature and duration of the spell is still unknown -- and the gauge is certainly not good!  I'm not sure what that means.  I don't know what I'll have to do to break it, but for now...

Y'all better watch your backs.

Continuing with the randomness on Tuesday

Perhaps it will be an entirely random week.  Dumb ol' Bloglines didn't pick up most of Monday's post 'til Tuesday, anyway, and I don't have any pictures, and I'm just as sick of posting about crochet and pictures of crochet as some people are about reading it.  Not sick enough about doing it, though, apparently, as I can't stop thinking about crochet projects -- even though I did say that I missed knitting, and I do.  I never claimed to be rational about any of this yarn stuff -- what kind I use, the tools I use, the projects and how many there are, the books and patterns -- none of it.

Right after I expressed my happiness at finally finding FAGE yogurt locally, I read yesterday's HungryGirl email where I learned that Stonyfield Farm is making OIKOS Organic Greek Yogurt, which might be a little easier to locate on a regular basis!  Yesterday, I brought the yogurt but forgot the honey.  Today, I've got my little honey teddy bear squeeze.

I was awake in the middle of the night.  Hot and awake, and it happened earlier than usual -- usually, if I awake in the night, it's at 3 a.m., but this was about 1:30.  I was listening to thunder roll for the longest time, then the flashing started, and then BOOM! WISSHHHHH! the storm arrived.  I could not get back to sleep and finally turned on the light and read for a while.  Very unusual.  I'm reading Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson for book club tomorrow night.  I am enjoying it a lot so far, more than I expected to, but I won't be finished.  I am very tired -- it comes in waves -- and I'm a little on the distracted side.  This post -- a relatively short post -- has been in the works for hours and hours and hours.  I'm supposed to knit out tonight, but I don't know if I'll be able.

Tomorrow, I'm taking a few things to Ali -- she just called to add "small fan, primer & white paint, paintbrushes, a dropcloth, her Shabby Chic sheets, and ethernet cable" to the one item -- her vanity -- that was already on my list.  Then we take her car for new tires all around (uh-huh, that's a big ka-CHING!) before she goes to work in the afternoon.  Luckily, we discovered that the problem with the shocks (a noise) was just a stick.  We'll squeeze in lunch at some point.

Just another (random) Monday

The morning isn't even half-over and already the neck of my shirt is looking stretched out.  I disturbed some harmless but annoying bugs when I opened the door to the garage this morning and it felt like at least one may have flown right down my shirt.  I had my arms full with lunch, tote, shopping bag containing walking shoes, mug o' coffee two-thirds full as well as travel mug, and still managed a bug-checking yank on the neck of my shirt.  I didn't see a bug.  Whilst zooming down the highway, going with the flow -- anywhere from 5-15 mph over the posted speed limit -- I felt a little flutter here, another over there; I tugged down on the neckline, ripped out a tucked-in side.  I still didn't see a bug.  That's the way it's gone this morning, rinse and repeat -- in the car, at my desk, it matters not.  I still think I feel a bug... still haven't seen a bug.

Dsc00211It's going to be a long day.

There are peas in the pergola and soon there will be beans in the pergola, too.  I need to check my seed packets and get a little more soil.  I still want a clematis and need a few potted plants.

The weekend was nice.  My sister Karen and her two boys came on Friday night.  We're both getting old (I'm sure glad it isn't just me!).  I'd have been fast asleep if I hadn't waited up for her, until all of 10:30.  Once upon a time, we thought nothing of staying up until 2:00, 3:00 a.m. -- once, we were still up when husband got up to go fishing!  Time would fly as we smoked and chatted, stitched and quilted.  We were in bed well before midnight on Saturday night, too.  ; )

Annie brought Mack on Saturday afternoon.  He's amazing -- you wouldn't believe how much he talks and the things he can say.  Karen's youngest son just turned 10 and he's had a love affair with Mack since the day they met -- they were inseparable all weekend.  Sharon arrived on Sunday morning, as did my SIL, Judy; Michael has been fishing with Dad -- who is visiting for about another week and who will be on my very doorstep next weekend.  I'm hoping for good weather and another pergola party.

Back to yesterday... we had brunch at Mom's.  I picked her a big bouquet of lilacs from my bush and Annie fluffed out the vase with some of Mom's own wildflowers.  (I don't know how it happened, but I forgot my camera.)  I made quiche again -- one bacon and cheese, the other with the addition of spinach and mushrooms.  I was going to make artichokes french again, but ran out of time!  And I also wanted to make La Bete Noir as posted and linked by Nova a few weeks ago -- a saved and drooled-over post on my Bloglines list.  ; )  I think I still shall...  We had Annie's fabulous blueberry muffins, a salad of fresh fruit, some wonderful cheeses and crackers.  It was a really nice time.

Alison was home most of the weekend, her car filled to the brim with everything from her dorm -- she needed to be out of the dorm on Friday, but couldn't move into the apartment she's sharing until late Sunday.  She made a remark on her way out the door on Saturday -- I can't even remember exactly what it was, but I knew it was an opportunity waiting to be seized (they've been so rare with her, but I think that's changing) -- so in a heartbeat, I followed her and questioned her, and we ended up having one of those really great, meaningful, three-minute, I'm-on-my-way-out-the-door, heart-to-heart conversations you have with a fresh 20-year-old.

She said that she didn't think she was going to move to Seattle or North Carolina after all.  I pressed her, of course, and there were many reasons why, but what made the sun come out inside my heart was when she said that she realized it's been all about BF and what/where he wants, his happiness, and not so much about her wants and needs and happiness; that she doesn't want to be someplace she may not otherwise go simply because of him -- what if he decides, all of a sudden, that he doesn't want to be there (his flippiness has been among my biggest concerns); because he's been away for a few weeks now and she doesn't really miss him all that much -- not like she should if she's moving across the country with him.

So now, we're back to the plan I think we last had at Easter... she's moved into an apartment for the summer with a friend, will continue working, probably transfer up here in the fall, live at home for a while, save money, go to school (a completely different program).  I told her, of course, that she still should go someplace, but there are many options open to her, so many better reasons to pick a place and go.  I am elated that she's come to realize, on her own, that it's her happiness and what she wants that should be her most important consideration. This is the kind of stuff that a mother -- that no one -- can teach or tell.  Yeah, so it was a Happy Mother's Day.

I have finally found FAGE yogurt in the 'hood.

There was precious little handwork all weekend -- I've been crocheting the band for the bag, making a very sore spot on my right-hand ring finger and my hands feeling raw from the cotton.  There's something about the crocheting of that band that is so different from the squares -- I cannot wait 'til it's finished (I'm about 2/3).  I like the crocheting, have even been thinking of some other projects, but I really miss knitting.

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Happy Mother's Day.

Hooker plays hooky

Dsc00240My normal day off is usually Wednesday (I work full-time, but four long days rather than five shorter ones) and so it was this week.  Late in the day on Wednesday -- one of those days that flew right by and I didn't get a darn thing done -- well, that's not true, I did one very big shower/tub/tile cleaning job in preparation for new caulking and a couple of other small things, including making up and cooking supper -- but no laundry, or vacuuming or scrubbing or any of that real stuff -- so anyway, late in the day, I decided that I wouldn't mind having another.

The thing about having a day off every week -- one that can and often does float back to Monday or ahead to Friday, sometimes the two floaters combining to make a four-day weekend without my having to "burn" a vacation day -- is that I don't "burn" vacation days very often and so I have some... almost to burn, but not really burn because vacation days are like money, you know, you never have enough.  ; )

On Thursday, I did get some laundry done.  I hung it on the line and then I discovered my new favorite place to fold the laundry -- outside under the pergola.  I have hung clothes on that line -- and loved it [L is for Laundry (on the line), N is for Nightgowns] for over 20 years, but always had to haul it back inside to fold it.  Oh sure, I'd sometimes try to neatly tri-fold a shirt or wrestle a queen-size sheet using the edge of the laundry basket and my knee as a "table," but the results (not to mention how I must have looked) were laughable.  Another plus for the pea-planted pergola!

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I took some time to point out the Blue Angel hostas again -- the very same one I pointed at a week ago or so, having barely broken the surface.  I also took time to inhale the lilacs.  I have one very, very old lilac bush, the lone survivor of what was once (I'm told) a long hedge, and this is one of its better years.  I got a lot of other things done and feel much better about the day's progress.  It's back to work on Friday.

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My work with the squares is done.  After I photographed these, thinking I was finished, I realized that I mis-read (or didn't read at all) and still needed yet another row of single crochet around both rectangles.  Ugh, but I finished that off tonight and the sides are complete.  The next part is the strip for the sides and bottom.

Back in black

Dsc00231_3 well I'm back in black
yes I'm back in black
back in the back of a Cadillac

--excerpt from Back In Black, AC/DC

Last night, while stars danced before my eyes, all the various methods for joining crocheted squares became clear when I actually consulted a reference book -- and not a single one was anything like the foggy vision in my mind.  It seems the best way to achieve a black border around each square is to... crochet a black border around each square!

Play me

Dsc00228You are the sun
I am the moon
You are the words
I am the tune
*Crochet* me

--"Play Me" -- okay, a play on "Play Me,
with apologies to Neil Diamond

I've finished hooking all the Larger Than Life squares and have ends to weave in yet on about five.  I've been weaving in all along so I wouldn't feel as daunted by the ends in the end.

Color selection was more or less random for each square, except that there are two squares bordered in each color, and roughly two with the same color in the center and ditto for the "middle color", but there was no rhyme or reason to the combinations and so no two squares are exactly alike.

I'm going to use black for the joining and I want some of it visible between the squares -- reminiscent of the granny square afghans that my grandmothers might have made -- so slightly different than the pattern as-written -- and I have never crocheted anything to anything in a manner meant to be seen like that, so this is where I really learn something new.

I could not find the pale yellow I needed -- Sugar & Cream in any color or quantity seems mighty scarce in these parts -- so I ripped the edging off the one square I'd already done in that color and re-did it and another in off-white instead.

Dsc00229Last night I was reading my email and came across Cara's comment and *doink* how could I have forgotten the "Cease and Desist" letter that she got last December from the fancy schmancy sweeps lawyers, warning against using the two trademarked words that when put together mean "award tour" or "booty beat" or "present parade" -- the same words that we'd both used to title posts?  I heeded her warning, of course, and changed the title, made an addendum to my post.

It was frosting on the litigious lemon cake when DH came home, about an hour later, from a meeting of the creative minds at the co-operative gallery to which he belongs with news of a similar letter, though this from fancy schmancy lawyers of another sort, received by said gallery and accompanied by a screenshot of a post from this very blog.  I attended an art opening last month and posted pictures here, including one of an old candy machine, a permanent fixture in the gallery, which had been repurposed as and for art.  Uh-oh.  I had a comment to that post, too, which led to some editorial changes.

I have no problem with trademarks, copyrights or the law in general.  You know what?  I'm all for protecting creative property and rights and such.  I get it.  I'm married to an artist, I know how it feels to have shit ripped off -- the very shit you're trying to sell to make a living to provide for your family.  I do have other problems, though they're mostly to do with my own opinion about the purpose of things and their inspiration, and about things being particularly or singularly creative -- slippery, subjective slopes in my mind -- or that have possibly become, let's say, part of the vernacular.

In other news -- revolving door news (see also: emotional and hormonal issues; also parenting):  Ali will not be moving home except for this weekend (school's out for the summer on Friday!) and maybe for a little bit at the end of summer (more like early fall).  And, in addition to Seattle, North Carolina is also on her map of relocation possibilities.  Cluck, cluck.

Present parade*

The present parade made a prize delivery to my door last week!  I won Kirsten's blogiversary/comment contest at Through The Loops!

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Isn't that a cheerful package?  I shared the Pocky chocolates (loved them -- not too sweet) and also (but more begrudgingly) the MarieBelle Chocolates -- oooh, they were wonderful!  And yarn!  My first Malabrigo -- Kettle Dyed Pure Merino Worsted -- my picture is terrible, it's #224-Autumn Forest (bottom row).

Thanks to all my Ravel(ry)-rousing of late, I already have some ideas about what I can do with that yarn.  That's one of the Ravelry features I can see myself using frequently -- I have this many hanks of that kind of yarn and here's what can be done -- provided all of the information regarding projects and patterns is complete, of course.

It was another slow weekend in Squaresville and I've run out of one of my colors... to substitute another or punt with what I've got is the question of the day.  Check out the Larger Than Life CAL!

*Contrary to the popular belief of Ann, my oversight regarding whether it's a parade or a patrol delivering presents or prizes is not as a result of my skimming -- though I do skim, I always have and always will, and I am not ashamed -- but merely my memory having Cease(d) and Desiste(d).

I also have a chance to say, "Thank You" to Kirsten, which of course I already did personally, but here again, too.

; )

Weekend in green

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Lamb's Pride Worsted, from the frogged vest, hanging to dry after a de-kinking soak.  It's been a wool-washing weekend -- good and busy.

The garden offers up something new to discover everyday!  I found some pink.

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The last time linked to a 5 Minutes For Mom give-away, there was precious little time to sign up and win the Dyson vac (O, be still my heart... I'd still like one of those!).  This time, there's not only more time, there are more prizes and more chances to win.  I've got my name down for the iPod (so far) -- there can't be many of us iPodless ones left, can there?  Chances should be pretty good!  ; )

Speaking of Mother's Day, we're doing brunch at my house again this year.  I like that I can check the archives to see what I served last year.

* * * * *

I've been Ravelry-ing... I'm a Ravelry-er?  Ravelrier?  Ravelreer?  I'm doing Ravelry? engaged in Ravelry? Ravel-rousing?  Heh, I'm a Ravel-rouser.  ; )  Anyway, it's loads of fun and I think it will become more and more useful as it gets fluffed up and the content grows.  I've been uploading pictures and working at getting some of my projects up.  This afternoon I want to go over and steal some other people's friends.  Hey, anyone have some spare time they want to send over here?

* * * * *

Back to Wednesday.  When Katie was looking for someone to accompany her to look at apartments -- her future roommate unable to attend -- she asked me if I'd like to go (it, conveniently, taking place on my day off and, well, hm... trip to Madison or clean the bathroom tiles?  road trip or drudgery?).  I said, "Sure!  If we can we stop at a couple of yarn shops on the way."  I had two in mind, specifically, both were kinda-sorta "on the way."

Dsc00184_2I mentioned Maisyknits Yarn Shop on Fond du Lac Street in Ripon the other day, the owner having been in my class at Neenah.  Outside of Fond du Lac Street being one of those Z-shaped streets -- with the East portion not directly connected with the West -- we didn't have much trouble finding the place (a slightly larger map would have helped).  Ripon has an old, quaint little downtown.  It is known as The Birthplace of the Republican Party, is home to Ripon College (a short, but impressive celebrity list of alumni) and also Rippin' Good CookiesMaisyknits has an adorable little storefront with a TON of wall space (a very high, to-die-for tin ceiling) which adjoins a coffee and gift shop.  It's been open for about six months and has a small but growing inventory.  I brought home a lovely, orange hank of Euroflax Linen for a towel.

We found a wonderful bakery and deli for lunch -- Fat Bruce's Bakery and Eating Kitchen.  Katie had the VegMed and I had Chicken Toga from the sandwich menu and they were the best sandwiches we've had in a long time.  We got there just before the noon rush and had a nice table by the window to enjoy the downtown and watch the parade of people coming for lunch -- it got really busy!  We were both very tempted by the bakery and each gave the display case the hairy eyeball, but we were "good."

I wanted, also, to stop at Loose Ends Yarn Shop in Mayville.  Mayville is tinier and older than Ripon, and I've been through there before a few times when I'd visited a distant relative on her farm to share pictures and talk about family history.  I remember thinking, every time, what a cute little town it was and wouldn't it be a nice place to live.  Well, Loose Ends was a little more east than west of our final destination and as we made our way, Katie started to panic and worry that we'd be late for our appointment with the property manager.  It's so hard, when you're on the road, in unfamiliar territory, to keep a grip on time.  So, we veered back west when we hit Waupun and ended up with a half-hour to kill in Madison, but I would really have only had 15 minutes (at best) if we'd continued on to Mayville and we probably wouldn't have spotted the feral Mini Cooper.  If we'd skipped lunch altogether and the appointment had been for 3:00 rather than 2:00, we'd have had time.  It'll have to be next time.

Dsc00182_2Instead, we had time after the appointment and before Mack got home, so we followed our noses to the closest shop I knew, Lakeside Fibers.  We sat down for a few minutes and some refreshment -- Katie had a banana smoothie and I had a cherry juice & seltzer -- and split a Dagoba candy bar (we're "good" but not that "good"), and then I just had to get up and mingle with the yarn.

I found last spring's Interweave Crochet -- the one that Elizabeth so kindly mentioned to me the other day because of the Babette blanket therein.  (Here it is in Purl Bee's project notes.)  There are other things I like, too!  (I do hope Mack has a baby sister!)

I also looked for a couple of things to swatch for my Vintage Vogue #33 project.  Color and fiber content were more important than gauge, since I'll be putting on my thinking cap no matter what, and I brought home Berroco Ultra Silk (color 6115, which might be discontinued as I don't see it on their website - ouch) and Rowan Summer Tweed (color 522-Smolder).  The latest Interweave Knits was waiting when we got home.  It was a really fun day!!

"This room is a mess!"

Katie and I looked at two apartments yesterday, one next door to the other, both second-floor, 2BR, one inhabited by the male of the species (as far as I could tell, in that there was leg of male visible in his bed -- thank goodness it was only a leg -- his having forgot we were coming -- and assuming that the roommate was also male) and the other by female.

No offense to anyone with a soft spot for the swine -- and remember, it's just a saying, possibly unfounded -- but y'all will know what I'm talking about when I say:  THEY ALL LIVE LIKE PIGS.  Every single item owned by every single one of them had to have been on the floor.

An aside... A little peace offering to soothe the savage, slandered swine -- we spotted one of Onslow's purebred, vintage predecessors in the wild!  Isn't it adorable?

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Okay, back to the apartments.  The kitchen floor in the boy apartment was so sticky, it's a wonder I didn't step out of my shoes.  I kept muttering things like, "...really good light, a little elbow grease... blahblahblah, a little elbow grease... if you opened the shades, a little elbow grease..."  Without the rose-colored glasses, and unless my elbows were greased with plutonium and the cleaning team also consisted of Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Mr. Clean, the Dutch Cleanser girl and My Mom, nothing short of gutting the entire apartment would really help at all.

The girl apartment was... did I mention that there was stuff on the floor?  She forgot we were coming, also, and apologized as she let us in, saying that she was moving some stuff around.  Moving what?  Where?  Here's what I saw: amongst the clothes, boxes, books, clothes, CDs, dishes, clothes, jewelry, cards, clothes, paper, pens, magazines, clothes, mail, newspapers and clothes on the floor, I spotted a few pennies.  Here's what Katie saw: so much change strewn around on the floor, there must have been a couple hundred dollars.  A couple hundred DOLLARS in CHANGE that I COULD NOT SEE because of all the stuff (I mentioned clothes, right?) on the floor.

Dsc00143I don't think I had to mention elbow grease at all in that apartment.  It was, by far, the better of the two -- a lot less grunge, roomier, and nothing that a 48-hour laundry marathon wouldn't cure -- and it was the more affordable of the two.  Applications are underway.

Icing on the cake was delivering "Baby A" to Mack -- it fits him perfectly!  He's such a busy boy!  I think his legs are losing the pudge, from getting taller and from constant activity!  He's also talking a blue streak.  He'd spot a neighbor and holler, "Hi 'George.'  How ya doin'?"  He also likes to tell you what he's doing.  He sat in my lap and I put on his shoes; he told his dad, "I'm tying my shoes!"  We held hands a couple of times or he grabbed my wrist and said, "I'm holding you."  (I know...  Awwwww.)

The food and fiber portion of this report will be posted tomorrow.

Phun with Photography

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No phurniture was harmed in the taking of these pictures.  Inspired by one of the usual suspects, of course.  You may click for big, as almost always.

My project isn't quite so involved at Cara's, so I just fiddled with the camera settings:  Normal, Black & White, Sepia, Negative.  I've always had a great love for all things sepia and now, in this case, for the negative.  Fascinating -- that the richest and most subdued of colors jumps right out, "look at me, look at me," practically burning your retinas.  And a perfect example of "negative" not always being "bad."  I wish every negative thing could turn out that good.

Dsc00126I finished that entire square at right while knitting out last night, and started the other after returning home.  We met at a new place and I liked it much better -- it was cozier, the lighting was better, the ceiling was lower (acoustics better), and I found the furniture much more comfortable and more my size (not a big fan of the oversized/overstuffed).  We'll be alternating between these two, every other week, at least for now.

Great expectations

Well, I ended up a bit long-winded today... there's knitting stuff at the end.

I've been taking actual breaks at work (something new) and walking a little bit -- a couple/few times a week.  I finally have someone to walk with, and that makes all the difference -- my surroundings are rather desolate and without a little company, I'd never do it (I never did).  Using MapMyRunWalk, I've calcuated our route to be a little over a mile each time.  It would be better if it were more, but it is what it is and that's better than nothin'.

Katie and I stepped off the front porch (without a plan/water) for a walk after lunch on Sunday.  It was very warm, so when she suggested the nature center trails, I was all for it -- I thought a little bit of dappled sunshine filtered through the lea... wait a gol' darn minute!  There's nothing dappled at all about sunshine filtered through trees that don't even have any leaves!!  It was a beautiful hike and a nice breeze saved us.  The heat and sun were a bit more than I was prepared for, but I survived and I think I'll even do it again (with a plan/water).

We switched some storms and screens over the weekend, and did a little bit of garden clean-up -- pulled a lot of garlic mustard, and relocated three or four volunteer bleeding hearts (I'll soon be giving them away because I'm running out of places to go).  We figured out the dimensions for a new planter behind one of the pergola benches (I'm envisioning a curtain of pole beans -- I've definitely got a thing about dappled sunshine), and figured out how to finish off an unsightly gap behind the bench.  We also discussed the idea of a fence/screen between our backyard and the neighbors' -- something I've been thinking about for a while (since they tore down the old garage) and the time seems right.  A former resident of that house (and still a current friend) once asked, "How much privacy do you need?"  I'm not anti-social and I already have more privacy than most and it's not like I sunbathe in the nude -- I just want it.  There, I said it.  I don't want the Great Wall and am actually thinking of it more as a sculptural installation, a backdrop for a featured collection of things, or as a canvas for a mural.  There, I've got it.

We could also have talked about replacing our solid oak front door (with the bevelled oval window that I love so much -- feature number one of four that sold me on the house within minutes of entering) with a revolving door, but I'll save that for another day.  It's all good, just, well, events of late leave me feeling a little revolve-y and twirl-y and maybe a little bit dizz-y.

I did not wash the wool from the frogged vest over the weekend, but I did tie it all off neatly and threaded it onto a trouser hanger 'til I'm ready.  I thought maybe tomorrow, but I may be going apartment hunting in Madison with Kate (with the possible bonus of a short visit with Mack).  It looks like Sunday might be the better day, anyway.

My shoulder, wrist and hand were given a desperately needed rest over the weekend.  Last night was the first time I hooked since Thursday, finishing my sixth square.  I'll be knitting/hooking out tonight and should have another to show for it.  Even weekend knitting was limited to the little bit in class on Saturday morning.

Oh yes, I had a knitting class on Saturday morning.  The class was "Vintage Knitting" presented by Joan McGowan-Michael and I've been grappling with my feelings about it since before the session was even half-over.  Joan was lovely, her book and patterns and website are all lovely, the samples she brought to class were quite lovely -- and extra bonus for us that there was a student of perfect proportion and youthfulness to model them all beautifully.  I thought about it all weekend and still, "disappointing" is the only word I could come up with in summation of the actual class.  I expected much more than to be given a photocopy of a magazine article with a verbal rehash of the article and an "I won't bore you with the math," followed by a very literal interpretation of "vintage knitting" in that we knit a bit of lace edging from a "vintage knitting" pattern -- something, she said, she'd just come up with the night before, which left me wondering what had previously been planned -- while she looked through some old pattern books that another student had brought, occasionally passing one around.  It was neither engaging nor inspiring and, judging from some of the activity around me (one person selling her wares to some shop owners in class, a half-dozen others eventually pulling out and working on their own projects), I wasn't alone.

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And yet, in the end, it may be one of the most inspiring and productive classes I've ever taken in that it may yield an actual result!  I've been working on putting a positive spin to it and decided that the only way I can really feel good about the time and money spent is to actually do it -- take a vintage pattern from my collection and update it using the given method.  And if I do that, then the class might actually be considered more successful than some of the others, even though I may have enjoyed them more.

As engaging and hands-on as Lizbeth Upitis & Joyce Williams were -- I dyed yarn, brought some home with me, bought many (many) packets of Kool-aid -- I've never dyed a single skein of yarn outside of class.  Lily Chin's "tips & tricks" packed such a punch that it was almost overload -- I did buy a special tool as a result of that class.  My sample Faroese shawl from Joan Schrouder's class is adorable and almost -- but, alas, still unfinished.  I fell head-over-heels for Fiona Ellis and hung on every word; I run across and pet the freeform cable swatch done in class once in a while and think, "Fiona said she really liked that part," and then I put it down.

That's Sweater #33 from the Vogue Knitting Book, Spring/Summer 1959 (when I was just a wee babe).  The magazine is one of many that were given to me by a friend some time ago and this would be a great way to honor her gift.  I'm going to fool around with #33, I think, perhaps making 3/4 length sleeves and giving it a little more length.  I might have enough Cotton-Ease in white that would be suitable for this project -- or maybe something else.

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There were other models in the magazine, but I was inexplicably drawn to everything this one was wearing -- or maybe just to her.  A little vintage girl crush.  I'll bet she's around my mother's age, and I'll bet she still turns heads.

Wisconsin knitters/vacationers/travelers:  Maisyknits Yarn Shop is new to the list (at right); located in Ripon, it's the only shop I know of that's open 7 days a week!