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November 2010
Next month:
January 2011

This just makes me wanna say...

"YAY!  It's the WEEKEND!!"

I've been going through and sorting, saving, scanning photos of Sharon and for a woman who balked whenever a camera appeared, she sure looks great in photos -- and had a lot of fun wherever she went!

It's a four-day weekend, too, so really... "YAY!"

Tomorrow night we'll gather with family and friends to... laugh and cry and hug and mourn and celebrate.  Hopefully, the stupid weather will cooperate and people can safely travel.  This is not the time of year in Wisconsin that one likes to hear "rain" in the weather forecast.

On Saturday, Karen's family will depart after a near week-long visit!  It's gone very, very well... and much cleaning has been done at my house while I've been at work these past few days... or just standing around after work watching.  Thanks Karen!  I owe you BIG TIME!  Maybe I'll get that Habu bag worked up that you've been waiting forever for and hinted about the other day.  I should have known, with a memory like an elephant, that you hadn't forgotten.

I might dismantle the tree on Saturday afternoon... or not.  On Sunday there's a football game.  On Monday, I might knit and watch movies all day.  We'll see.

In case I don't make it back, Happy New Year to you and yours -- seriously, bring it 2011 -- and also Thank You.


Ten on Tuesday: Intentions

Ten on Tuesday10 Intentions for the New Year

1.  I intend to continue eating better -- use better (fresh and local when I can) ingredients when I cook, buy our beef and other meat from Armando or another local farmer.

2.  I intend to cook more.

3.  Which means planning more.

4.  And I want to make more of my own "frozen entree" work-day lunches.

5.  And instead of just talking about it (again!) and/or wishing I woulda (after-the-fact), I will purchase a CSA share this year.

6.  I intend to ride my bike more.

7.  I seem to like cycling events and organized rides (something to shoot for), so I intend to search them out.  (That doesn't necessarily mean that I will be competing again.)  (I'm also not ruling it out.)

8.  I intend to do the finishing on the couple of sweaters that are awaiting finishing... and that I'd like to wear!


9.  I intend to shoot.  More.  I like to do it, and sometimes I do it well.  (Reminder, above; I can't believe that was only 3 weeks ago).  It's getting sort of late, but I might find a 365 -- I like some structure, though.

10.  The wind's been knocked out of my sails and the joy in anything and everything has been muffled, if not altogether muted.  I intend to fill those sails in the new year and be joyous -- but first I have to get used to the new me -- the one who's lost someone dear, a sister, the sister most like me in many ways -- there's a process and I'm struggling.  I hate this feeling right now -- I hate and resist being defined by my sister's death as much as she hated and resisted being defined by her illness!  It'll happen... I have a whole year, right?

Bonus #11.  My grandmother died on June 8th, my uncle on November 1st, my sister on December 17th, and my great uncle on December 23rd.  This year, I intend to connect more -- visit and do things -- with cousins and aunts and uncles (there are even knitters, artists, craftspeople among them) that I don't want to be seeing only at funerals and memorial services!


Merry in Menasha, 1966 -- Michael, Sharon, Annie, me, Karen.



As I was searching around my very messy desk for a CD (which I still haven't found), I came across a phone message I'd jotted from the machine -- dated 2-11-08 -- from a distant relative named Deb.

Last year, I received a Christmas card with a newsy letter and a family photo from Deb -- and I've sort of been looking for that, too, for the past several months.  I never actually hunted for it because I always felt that it was fairly close by and I'd run across it any day, because I really did want to contact her.

I received another Christmas card (with a newsy letter and a family photo) from Deb this year.  Last night I called her and exclaimed, "Thank you for not giving up on me!"

Deb is my second cousin once-removed and these are our shared relatives -- my great great grandparents, Amelia & William.  We have a standing date to meet this summer in the Fond du Lac County cemetery where William and many of his kin are buried.  I traipsed through that cemetery, and couple others nearby, with Sharon several years ago -- the nothing-but Ave Maria CD I bought for her (and one for myself) blaring through open doors and windows on the car stereo as we wandered.

It could happen that I'll actually meet Deb's daughter -- half-way around the world -- before I meet Deb, 120 miles away.  One of her daughters has been living in the UK for at least the past few years.  I have her contact info for Maddy (leaving in less than a month!) and I hope we can all get together when we visit in a few (!) months.


Three years

My Pummelvision from Vicki Knitorious on Vimeo.

Poof!  Right before your very eyes.  I can tell because this "baby" turned THREE last summer!  Makes me wish I'd uploaded a lot more than I did to Flickr.  It also makes me smile.  And now to bed... I am exhausted, which is good.

State of Grac(i)e

Gracie is a black lab mix that came into Sharon's life about 8-9-10 years ago, or so.  (I am not doing very well in the timelines department.)  Sharon was living in Kansas and it was the 4th of July -- she always figured that Gracie was spooked by fireworks and ran off, and that her owners were visitors or traveling through because, despite best efforts, they were never reunited.  Gracie was a young and energetic dog, but Sharon had a way with animals -- she always did.  I remember when we lived for a summer up north with dad, she'd walk to the park looking like the Pied Piper -- Dad's labs Sam and Tibby, even our cat Thisbee, all falling in line right behind -- she didn't even have to coax them.

Anyway, Gracie was one of the most important beings in Sharon's life -- and decision-making about living arrangements all hinged on the ability to keep Gracie with her.

Finding a new home for Gracie was utmost in our minds and hearts over the past few days.  It is heart-warming that there were a number of people willing to take her -- because you know that it has way more to do with Sharon than it does with Gracie, even if she is a wonderful ol' pup!

I'm happy to say that, after a weekend trial, Gracie was lovingly accepted into her permanent new home yesterday.

* * * * *

My family and I are doing ok.  Ups and downs, you know?  We have each other and family and friends -- and sweet loving memories.  Thank you so much for your words of love and comfort.

* * * * *

I sometimes don't know up from down, and my life both looks and feels as though a cyclone has gone through -- and then doubled back.  Clean up and search has begun.  Why, oh why, oh why, can I not find the ONE photo CD that I want?  Or one of the copies of that one photo CD?  Huh?  Digital photos really suck, you know?  The space they take up, the time it takes to organize, tag, format -- not in my world, at least not my own person stuff (especially the old stuff) -- and for what?  You never even print the damn things.

Ugh. OK!  Back to it -- focus, focus, focus!  Things to do...

I'm going to miss my sister very very much.

Sharon Jean Blum

June 15, 1960 - December 17, 2010

We knew it was coming -- have known for 2 years that it was coming -- and that it would come sooner than we'd like, but no one expected it quite this soon.  No one expected that news yesterday.

I love you, Sharon.

[and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.]
desiderata; max ehrmann

In review: 2010

As I've done the last few years sometime in December, it's time for a review -- in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (one favorite posted photo from each month), one not necessarily related to the other.

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January:  Haha!  I just read my post from last January 1st and I'm thinkin' that a New Year's Day nap is well on the road to tradition.

February:  Randomly.  Heh.  It's only been five days, but for a near-daily blogger -- in blog years -- it seems much longer.


March:  (He ain't heavy) ...he's my brother.

April:  Dawn, my cookie lady, made an appearance on local morning TV this week.


May:  The babies part was fun; the bugs, not so much.


June:  The fish-eye goes back to today.


July:  (Knitting strips of stripes)'s like eating candy.


August:  This is not a definitive arrangement, by any means.

September:  As of late this afternoon, I have finished knitting the strips!


October:  The production of knitted goods 'round here ain't what it used to be, but the act of knitting, to some degree, is done nearly every single day.

Go Cal!

November:  There's always the photography and always the knitting, but they don't seem to mash up as often as they should these days!


December:  Parcheesi, designed by Feral Knitter Janine.

It's been quite a year, folks.  Thanks, as always, for reading, writing, encouraging, praying, loving, being, doing... everything.

Ten on Tuesday: To-Do

Ten on Tuesday10 Things On Your To-Do List

1.  Get a grip.

2.  Finish writing that damn email (middle school parents).

3.  Finish writing that other damn email (Christmas Bake-Off and dinner).

4.  Design Annie's 2011 calendar... and mine, too!

5.  Write that post about my camera bag that I've been meaning to write since, oh, June or so.

6.  Clean, organize, and MOVE out of my office/studio/work space; clean, organize, and rearrange the guest room that's left behind... and make ready for a possible long-term guest; clean, organize, and rearrange the NEW office/studio/work space.

(Really, Vic? That's like 10 Things right there.)

7.  Hunt for those two checks that I misplaced a couple of weeks ago; now they're just playing hard to get.

8.  Figure out gifts for co-workers.

9.  Make a plan for how I'm going to lose 25 lbs. (minimum) by January 21, 2012, to fit ito the dress that I haven't found yet (have NO idea) for my daughter's wedding (venue -- and pretty much everything else -- also yet to be determined).

10.  Check out the indoor compu-trainer cycling fitness thing at the local bike shop.  I really miss riding.  (This could work with #9.)

Hm.  I heard the radio DJ proclaim, "It feels like minus-12(F)" this morning.  I miss summer, too.


Meme-day Monday

1.  What time did you get up this morning?  I don't know... today's my day off and the clock isn't a priority... after 7:00. 

2.  How do you like your steak?  Medium rare.

3.  What was the last film you saw at the cinema?  I think it was "Inception."

4.  What is your favorite TV show?  Hm. Right now? Maybe "Castle." 

5.  If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?  I'm sorry, I just can't pick one... in my fantasy world, I'd live right where I am and travel to all the places that intrigue me.

6.  What did you have for breakfast?  Coffee. 

7.  What is your favorite cuisine?  Mediterranean. 

8.  What foods do you dislike?  Hm.  There's not much I don't like.  Bugs.  I'd have a problem with bugs. 

9.  Favorite Place to Eat?  This is another impossible question; AMONG my favorites are Carmella's, Mario's, Z Harvest, Zuppas (in alphabetical order!).

10.  Favorite dressing?  For the past year or so, I've been eating salad with no dressing at all -- sometimes I'll splash on a little balsamic vinegar.

11.  What kind of vehicle do you drive?  Nissan Altima. 

12.  What are your favorite clothes?  Warm woolies.

13.  Where would you visit if you had the chance?  Argentina. 

14.  Is your cup 1/2-empty or 1/2-full?  1/2-full. 

15.  Where would you want to retire?  In a small motor home with a perpetually full tank.

16.  Favorite time of day?  Dusk. 

17.  Where were you born?  Milwaukee, WI. 

18.  Favorite sport to watch?  Football is the one I watch most often; I love watching all sorts of sports -- love it when it's an Olympic year! 

19.  Who do you think will not tag you back?  

20.  Person you expect to tag you back first? 

21.  Who are you most curious about their responses to this?  

22.  Bird watcher?  Not since we moved the bird feeder.

23.  Are you a morning person or a night person?  I am most definitely a night owl.

24.  Pets?  Three cats (Scamp, Roxie & Duncan) and a beagle dog (Mickey). 

25.  Favorite book?  ARGH!!  I'm just not into picking favorites today! 

26.  What did you want to be when you were little?  A mother. 

27.  What is your best childhood memory?  

28.  Are you a cat or dog person?  Cat.

29.  Do you have children?  Yes. (Don't want to know my favorite???)

30.  Do you always wear your seat belt?  Yes.

31.  Have you ever been in a car accident?  Yes. 

32.  Any pet peeves?  Yes.

33.  Favorite pizza topping?  Artichoke hearts.

34.  Favorite Flower?  Pansies.

35.  Favorite ice cream?  Moose Tracks. 

36.  Favorite fast food restaurant?  I've been avoiding those places like the plague.

37.  How many times did you fail your driver's test?  That's not info I've retained, but I don't think I failed at all.

38.  From whom did you get your last email?  Jane.

39.  Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?  I could do some damage at Macy's.

40.  Do anything spontaneous lately?  Hm. No. Time to change that, though!

41.  Do you like your job?  Yes.

42.  Broccoli? Cauliflower?  Both. 

43.  What was your favorite vacation?   Yet to come! 

44.  Last person you went out to dinner with?  My husband.

45.  What are you listening to right now?  Maddy in the kitchen.

46.  What is your favorite color?  Yeah... the rainbow.

47.  How many tattoos do you have?  None.

48.  Coffee drinker?  Yes!

49.  Favorite pastime?  Knitting.

50.  Favorite quote?  "A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." -Eleanor Roosevelt

It's been ages since I've done a meme!  I was tagged for this one on FB the other day and... it makes good blog fodder.  I haven't tagged anyone in forever, either, but feel free to nab it for yourself!

* * * * *

The tree is up and decorated -- with more than three ornaments (there's a bonus, quick, cold-weather soup recipe there)!!  Thanks to Ali & Maddy for all their encouragement and help.



I finished my second Tuesday Night Cowl last night -- just in time for Rusty to try it out today!  I knit it in the same yarn (all used up now, thank-you-very-much) -- but on slightly larger needles than the last and with one less repeat, so it is much more snug.  It has received the Snow Shovelers' of My House (SSMH) Seal of Approval!

Baby, It's Cold Outside!!  (Stay warm!)

Afternoon Tea at Kate's


Are you seeing red?  Haha!  The girl brightened things up a bit.


And she has a new black cat!  She adopted it from a friend who can no longer keep it and he had been introduced to his new home just moments before I arrived.  He was so confused... he was hissing at me and rubbing up against my legs at the same time!


It was the first time Katie's entertained us all at her apartment.  She had a delightful array of cheeses and crackers, some chocolates and scones, and she made homemade icebox cookies and a Bundt spice cake.

I could help but think of this:



It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Thanks Katie!!


I think I'm in love!  I'm finishing up his proofs and I can't (I won't) promise that this is the last you'll see of him.

OK?  So I did end up working today -- just 'til noon.  Then I went out to my uncle's to pick up a box of his late wife's knitting supplies that he found (so timely, too, because I'll be teaching a little girl how to knit next month) (with her mom looking over our shoulders) and he made me lunch!  Grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup... I love homemade tomato soup!

There's some OK yarn and some good for learnin' yarn, a bunch of needles and holders, some pamphlets, and loose patterns and notes and some graph paper.  So interesting... it appears that Deb was playing around a little bit with designing!  Not a surprise, really, she immersed herself in the things that interested her... I don't think knitting gripped her as much as, say, woodworking... but she was definitely interested.

I stopped to visit with Katie and Ali on the way home and, standing there in Katie's kitchen, I lost all my energy.  I'm surprised there wasn't a puddle right there on the floor.  I couldn't wait to get home and crawl into bed -- which I did.  I slept for an hour (seemed like three) on one side, and then another little bit on the other side.  It was so nice and cozy, I could have slept for much longer -- and maybe I would have, but then Maddy knocked on my door to say she was home!  Yay!


Oh baby

I forced more handknits (but by no means the full arsenal) on this little guy than I ever have on any other baby -- and, if I may say so, they're quite eye-catching -- but OMG, those CHEEKS!!!

The cashmere and silk in these hats doesn't hold a candle to the soft squishiness of chubbo baby cheeks!  Yeah, I know, and those gorgeous lashes are to die for...


The colorful hat was knit a way long time ago with leftovers from Hero Quimby's Sweater & Hat -- I loved working with that Handmaiden Casbah yarn, making it work with some Baby Ull, and such a fun colorway!

The chartreuse-y pear-colored hat was knit a while back from a hank of unyielding silk that I nabbed out of a sale bin at Nina's Department Store in Spring Green the summer-before-last -- I loved the weight and the color!  I believe I used Stephanie's pattern for An Unoriginal Hat.  It's pretty much a one-size hat with little to no stretch or spring -- not for everyone, but a good fit here!

It's been a strange, strange week.  Tomorrow is supposed to be my day off, but that might get pushed.  I would like to petition for the stars to align, please; according to this site, "There must be something else bumming you out..." because Mercury isn't in retrograde for another 15+ hours.  Actually, it could be that... or something in the air, the water, who knows?!!  Things have just been weird and I don't like it.

Doing my best to Keep On Keepin' On -- with a smile -- haven't quite made it to the Ho Ho Ho mark yet.  Workin' on it.  Anyways...


Last night:

What a great show!  I'm so glad I mentioned to Rusty that tickets to this show would make a good birthday present -- instead of shining it on, as I so often do.  Bryan Adams has been a favorite for a long time -- you know, for about 27 years!  I've been a fan of "unplugged" ever since MTV invented it, and this "Bare Bones" concert -- Bryan referred to is simply as "un" -- really appealed to me.  Bryan playing an acoustic guitar, sometimes a harmonica, and with occasional piano accompaniment.

So, one month + a day after my 52nd birthday (and one month + 2 days after Bryan's 51st -- that's sorta weird -- no wonder I like him so much - plus, he's a pretty good photographer!) we were there!  So fun.

We began our evening dodging our little town's Christmas parade and dashing to make our reservation at Z Harvest Cafe in Green Bay -- very close to the concert venue at the Weidner Center.  It's been nearly 6 years since we were there last -- for dinner on one of the very first days of The Quit!  Ahman Green, celebrated Packers running back at the time -- was seated in the booth right behind Rusty.  The food was fabulous then, and is still fabulous!  I scoped out the menu ahead of time and had some difficulty choosing amongst the entrees, but no problem at all with the dessert offerings!  Heh.  When I saw "tres leches cake" at the top of the list, I knew I'd have to leave room!  I decided on potato crusted roasted salmon served over fresh sauteed spinach with root vegetables.  Yum.  It's what's for lunch today, too!


Seal of approval

...with drool!  I predict that baby's gonna be startin' a set of chompers any day now!


Tuesday Night on Saturday Afternoon

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Tuesday Night Cowl (link to my Ravelry page) by Susan Lawrence.

It took me a really, really, really long time to cast on for this project -- WAY longer than it should have!  I started it when Parcheesi was ready to sew up and was, therefore, no longer a portable project.  I carried it to work several times.  I even brought it with me to California -- way back in October -- one of my two back-up projects (following the knitters' first rule of travel: Be Prepared).  First it was one thing, then another, and I just could NOT find the time to get going -- it starts with a provision cast-on, which I don't do all that often and so need to be focused!

Once I actually started knitting, this was a fun and quick project -- very satisfying.  I added two repeats, though I think one would have been sufficient.  I may rip and re-do, or I may leave it as is and find a pin or something to secure it.  I have more of this yarn, and even another color, and have no problem at all casting on again... and again... and again.  I'm getting good at it now.  And I love this yarn -- Lana Grossa Royal Tweed (discontinued, I believe) -- all the beautiful, colorful, tweedy bits!

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It's early December and, as usual, all of a sudden I can think of 14 people I want to knit Christmas gifts for... even though we've mostly opted out of the crazy gift-giving stuff this year... just "little" gifts... that I might want to design and/or modify and/or personalize... oh, yeah, and "all of a sudden" there are three (at least three!) v.i.p. birthdays this month, too.

Ho, ho, ho!  Rein me in!!


Once upon a time, I took a trip

Remember that?  Way back in October??  Berkeley???

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Monday the 24th was my last full day of vacation, as I had a mid-morning flight home on Tuesday.  It was a beautiful, sunny day!!  Finally!

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We walked to a cafe for breakfast, plotted our course for the day, and took photos all the way home.  We still had a few hours before the rental lenses were due back, so we drove over to the Port of Oakland.

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Fascinating... and we had more wide-angle and fisheye fun!

After returning the lenses, we decided that it was a beautiful day to drive to the coast.

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We drove to Pescadero and had lunch at Duarte's -- cute place with a lot of history, and oh-so-yum.

On the way to the beach, we searched out a geocache!

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We weren't as successful in finding the small cemetery across the street that was mentioned in the entry.  It sure was pretty trying, though.

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The beach was beautiful, as beaches are.

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We stopped at a pumpkin patch on the way home.

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They even had some chickens!

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We spent a relaxing evening on Monday -- knitting and chatting.  Oh, and then way too soon it was Tuesday morning and time to leave.

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I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people I've met -- both virtually and, luckily, also in reality -- and the amazing experiences and opportunities that blogging has opened to me.  I have been to both coasts, now, as well as a few spots in the middle because of it -- I wish I could do it more often, there are so many others I'd like to visit.  It's occurred to me more than once, in a daydreamy way, that working as a yarn rep within a nice, laaaarge area, could satisfy several of my needs -- and wants.

And may I add that I am, quite simply, verklempt.  I sincerely thank you for your wonderful comments, emails, and calls about Parcheesi -- and everything else.  Thank you so much for reading my blog, and for stopping in now and then to let me know...




Parcheesi, designed by Feral Knitter Janine.  The pattern is available free with a request for an on-your-honor goodwill donation in any amount to Heifer International.

I started this blanket in April on a bit of a whim, made up my own rules and modifications as I went along, and finished a few days ago.  While I've had the distraction of knitting/finishing/starting a few projects in the meantime, I can honestly say that there was never a dull moment with this blanket.  In fact, I rather miss working on it.  I had some self-imposed limitations on which yarns I could use, but there was enough room for variation and surprise and I could not wait to pick the next color!  I'll admit there was some dread at the prospect of weaving in ends and also when it came time for seaming, but once I started each of those tasks, there was no turning back.

This one is all sock yarn, with some inconsistencies in weight.  I used some scraps and partial skeins, had some full hanks in my stash, and bought some new; it's generally made of wool, but there's also cotton, nylon, silk, and cashmere in the mix.  I knit one solitary stripe in some beautiful Madelinetosh Pashmina that Ann sent in return for a Village Knitter favor -- because it arrived that day -- and a couple of the colors are vintage Bernat yarn that I picked up a few years ago at an estate sale.  I just used whatever looked good, and included some surprise bits -- hot pink, bright yellow, baby blue!  Somehow, it all works.

One of my big departures from the original was the addition of a border.  Because the pattern was based on an old board game, I wanted a yarn that said "old board game border" -- you know, worn and faded, black cloth tape.  And I found it!  Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet (color #18).

It is, absolutely, positively, hands-down, one of my favorite projects.  Ever.  Ever ever ever!  It makes people happy.  It makes ME happy!

Thank you.