Monday, November 30, 2009

And you thought Big Brother was the worst that could happen? Think again.

Ah, yes. So here I am continuing the new tradition of a blog a month. Frankly, it's a sucky tradition and it needs to change. And it will. Soon. But, babies, such a tale have I to tell!

(No, I did not drive through the garage door. I didn't, okay? Give me some credit. And no, I did NOT have another work computer monitor almost spontaneously combust on me again. Oh. I've not told you that story? Never mind, then. It was nothing. Really. coughilovemynewflatscreenmonitorthoughcough)

Anyway, on to the tale. Do you have someone to snuggle? A good blankie and piece of comfort knitting ready for the scariest parts? Perfect. Then let us begin.

The Harlot's been talking about them for years. You know who I mean. Those fiber-stealing felons who make off with freshly-washed fleece.

Those squirrels. The plotters.

Well, the little suckers decided to kick it up a notch in my case. Not content to sit about and hope that I would eventually get round to washing fleeces and laying them out to dry, they instead planned the ultimate Home Invasion.

The little blighter who volunteered for the mission came down the chimney a la Tom Cruise, no doubt doing spins and twirls that would make a ballet dancer proud. I fear my hope that it whacked its little head a million times on a tumbling trip down is all in vain.

I know this because its wee iPod was playing the theme music from Mission Impossible. I thought I had dreamed the music when I awoke in the dead of night, but clearly it was real. Beside, we found its little harness and pulley contraption dangling in the chimney after the horror had ended, and a tiny helmet underneath the wood. It was prepared, damn it.

I walked out in the morning, unaware that it had tossed all the wood in the fake fireplace hither and yon. I also failed to notice that the fireplace's glass door had been skillfully jimmied open just a tad.

I did, however, notice that the curtain and rod which hang over the small window behind the TV were knocked askew. (Remember that window? I sure do.) I was puzzled by that, but as I was running close to being almost-but-not-quite-late, I simply rehung the curtain and left.

My only excuse for such somnolent behavior, such blatant disregard for the massively glaring signs of badness approaching was that I had to have been subjected to some kind of gas that fogged my thinking. Probably something made from fermented acorn mash. (Did I mention the tiny spray bottle we also found? I didn't? How did I neglect that?)

Any idea what a grey squirrel, when left alone in a house for eight hours, gets up to?

A freakin' lot. That's what. A howling group of sugar-crazed preschoolers intent on scattering every toy in the house had nothing on this guy.

(I could have taken pictures, but quite frankly, I'm trying to erase the images from my mind. It's not working, mind you, but I am trying.)

Lamps were overturned. Books tossed. Magazines scattered. (I think it tried a taste-test lick on several pages of Spin-Off.) The clean dishes had paw prints on them and the apples on the counter had been seriously terrorized. It took time to play several games and then neglected to put up the pieces. Woodwork had chew marks galore. Anything that could be made a mess of was.

Anything, that is, EXCEPT the yarn. Yes, I know. You've been clutching your comfort knitting so tightly you bent your metal needles, terrified of what had befallen the stash. But be of good heart. All is well.

I have the yarn stored in tins on a high shelf. But after viewing the rest of the house, I've no doubt that that presented little obstacle. They knew what they were about when they sent their lone rodent in.

I also know how well they planned because my ever-brave Thing 2 caught the rodent in the act. She strolled into my room just as it was getting ready to shoot its little grappling hook up onto the shelf.

It was that close.

Instead of a quick zip up a nylon rope, it reverted to "look I'm a cute woodland creature" behavior and made a dash across her feet into the enclosed porch, where, unfortunately, all the book boxes are stored, not to mention the games and crafts cabinet. It had been there before, as I have mentioned, and clearly thought it an excellent place to hide.

With great presence of mind, Thing 2 shut the door behind it, trapping it. The Things conferred, then opened the door just a bit and rolled the last untouched apple into the room after it. They watched as it pounced on the poor apple from above, clearly worried that it only had .5 seconds to pull the right seeds out and deactivate the cleverly concealed bomb. Satisfied it had secured the area, it retreated.

Wanna know the mood of a secret agent squirrel after it's been trapped for an hour? Bit shirty, to say the least.

And did you know that a squirrel, after being subjected to routing from hiding places in an effort to get it out the porch door which leads to freedom, will obstinately hide behind a curtain and growl really, really loudly?

Like, really loudly.

Eventually, we left the apple near the open door and tiptoed away. And the agent, accepting defeat, vanished into the night, dragging its apple-bomb behind it as proof of its ordeal. Or maybe as a palliative to the rest of the squad for the loss of all that G. I Joe gear. Think of the hand-to-paw combat they had to go through to score that. I mean, seriously.

When faced with that much destruction to clean up, I did the only sensible thing.

I knit.

One very UFO double knit scarf has reached the proper length.

The train in being duplicate stitched on. New matching mittens (with trains, of course) to follow, as Thing 4 says the other mittens are getting tight. I'll be using this pattern (Rav link). (And I'll be twisting all the knit and purl stitches on purpose! Knitting wrongly deliberately! My favorite!)

And I'll be vigilant. Because you know how they are...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why I don't read Dick and Jane

I'll not be hanging out with any small tots and reading about Dick, Jane, and their cute little yappy dog Spot. Not ever again. Why, you ask?

Because my morning read like a Dick and Jane Primer From Hell. Don't believe me? Please, open to page 1...

See Heidi and Thing 4 get ready for school. See Heidi lock door as she walks Thing 4 to meet the bus. (Please note: Thing 2 has ONLY house key and has already left for school.) See Heidi get into car and realize that she has her SPARE keys. NOT the set with her office keys attached. See Heidi heave a sigh. See Heidi walk round to the back of the house and

{insert turning of page here}

further enhance her breaking and entering skills by climbing up on the deck railing and hoisting herself up to the ridiculously small window behind the TV. (Please note: she left spare keys on deck, ‘cause dropping keys inside and not fitting through window would have been bad.) See Heidi think, "Thank goodness I forgot to lock the window after removing the tiny A/C unit!"

See Heidi contort herself in ways that would make an Indian fakir proud as she finally gets through the window AND manages this feat WITHOUT knocking over the TV, which she has already done once in the past week (don’t ask) only to discover…

{yes, I know, the suspense is building faster than in a Dan Brown novel--so turn the page again}

when she goes to the back door to get to the deck/retrieve the spare keys that the boys forgot to lock it after coming in from playing—she could have just walked in through the damn door. To add insult to injury, after looking in all the usual places, see Heidi discover that the keys were in her upscale messenger bag.

See Heidi pretend hard not to notice that the upscale messenger bag was in the car.

See Heidi not curse the heavens, but rather calmly lock the window, the back door and the front door. See Heidi get into her car (with BOTH sets of keys, thank you very much), pull out of the garage without running into the closed garage door (no, she’s NOT sayin’ if she has ever done that before) and then realize that she has left her #%*)&#%*&$% prescription sunglasses in the %$(*%# house on the ONLY sunny day this week.

Close the book. Now, babies.

And even after all that, I still chose to knit.

Stupid, right?

I didn't think so at first. Okay, I made a mistake on each side of the shawl, but I caught both in the automatic stitch count I do, and corrected easily on the needle as I went back down the purl row.

I had indeed cast off the evil spell of Dick and Jane, had I not?

Erm, yeah. Next row was simple. YO, K2, YO, DBL DEC, YO, K2, YO, Sl 1 K2tog psso, YO, K2, Yo...simple. Lovely.

Soooo, I did one side of the shawl. One stitch off on final count--only 140 with 141 being the correct answer. Looked back over the stitches themselves, discovered one missing YO (easy fix on way back--yea!), bipped a stitch marker in to mark the spot, and hit the other side of the center line.

Time for stitch count. 137? Wha? That's less stitches than I started with! Counted again. 140. Hmmmm. 139? 128?!?! Double wha?!?!

See Heidi sigh. See Heidi go back to looking at actual stitches for counting, running through the mantra in her head, "YO, 2, YO, 1, YO, 2, Yo, 1" ad nauseam, until she discovers not one, but two missing YOs. See Heidi think that okay, she can deal with that. See Heidi assure herself that it's all good.

Then see Heidi be stupid. Much stupider than when she didn't check the back door.

See Heidi count stitches one more time.


See Heidi step away from the needles for the night, despite the fact that she really wanted to finish the chart and is only three rows away from doing so.

Some days it just doesn't pay to mess with Dick and Jane.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Of That of Which I Did Not Write: Frustration

I've been away for awhile.

At first, there was a fallow time, in which nothing much went as planned. I started a well-reasoned blog about the virtue of sometimes doing nothing; of being still in the midst of frustration.

I didn't finish it (though I'll include it in the end). Somehow, words went by the wayside, even as I talked my way endlessly through frustrations and worry over things like my computer glitch interfering with my writing plans and my pay cut--especially the latter. Even as I dealt with the cognitive dissonance of my pride in supporting my family with no state help (and on a salary that people bluntly told me they could not support their solo selves on, let alone four people) coupled with the fact that my margin of error had slipped to a thin line, well...even then, there was a strange center of stillness that I kept well-hidden.

(And for any family member that might have read the above--don't tell the folks or other siblings, all right? It'd only make them worry needlessly. I can pay what few bills I have and feed all the peeps--we're getting on fine.)

It stayed with me, though, that silence. It followed me on college campus visits with Thing 1, and made even my excitement that one had an experimental farm with sheep and guard llamas quiet.

That picture alone, normally, would have been a blog full of fun and cheek. But from me: stillness.

I blogged briefly about driving to Iowa, a quick flash of my normal online presence, but I didn't include returning to my childhood home and showing my children all that is left of it--grass-covered ruts that was the lane that led up the hill (such a cold walk in the winters of the 70s when little girls still wore dresses to school most days) and then on aways before you even reached the house which was leveled to make more fields

and the corn crib in which I used to scamper, up near the rafters on the beams that ran from crib to crib, and from which I almost once fell. I landed straight on the beam rather than the concrete slab below, knocking a tooth loose as I clutched tight to the splintered wood and stared, wild-eyed, at the dirt grayed cement below. Fortunately I was at the age where losing teeth was expected. My parents never discovered we'd been doing that which we were forbidden.

(And ever since then, I have been unable to step from edges that lead to drop offs; no cliff diving at water parks for me, though I've tried.)

I settled into the heat-haze routine of Iowa. It was in perfect sync with the stillness hidden inside the talk, though in Iowa, the talk became muted. It was quiet conversation that slipped from person to person with the ease of a perfect string of purl stitches. Who married whom from which clan of Beckers or Hertles or Nissens and who had suffered the loss of parent or spouse or child or self; the pattern of interlocked lives falling like rows from my fingertips, so that even the woman from one town over who cut the hair of Things 3 and 4 could create with me a genealogy of common acquaintances, though we had never met before that day.

I took the Things to the lake I'd lived at in the summers as teen and I watched them in the water as I knit on the grass above the beach

and joined them in sandcastle making

and meandered with the butterflies.

Then suddenly, we were back in Maine and the school year slammed into me full-force. The tutoring center took on a new life and took off. I was given a class to teach with students bright thinking, even when they believed they weren't (I'm working on that). I'd established a rep, it seems, as an approachable teacher who knitted while they did their in-class writing and who not only demanded the world from them, but who expected that they'd deliver it. (I have had a few students tell me that if they can't earn an A from me, they are aiming for as close to it as possible and I like it that they use that word: earn.) I had days (and still do) where getting ten minutes to slam down lunch between non-stop appointments felt like a major accomplishment.

Stillness, it seemed, should have fallen by the wayside. Certainly writing and knitting had as I rushed home to feed Things and run to activities with them. By the time I returned from wherever we had gone and got everyone to bed, I wanted simply to sleep.

But somehow the frenzy made my hidden stillness that much more noticeable. Despite how absorbed I had been in my job and my family, that quiet core was still there, searching its way about, humming softly along without much input from me.

What I didn't notice at first was how that stillness had wrought a change in my pattern, as clear and entrancing as the movement of one motif to the next in the shawl on which I am working.

The silence has slipped through me and about me and transformed parts of me in ways I'm only just beginning see. I'm watching with interest as the old repeats give way to an entirely new series of airy open spots and dense clusters--the yarn overs and double decreases of my own life. (Which other knitters will understand immediately and which my non-knitting friends who read will sigh over, then gently tease me about later.) The pattern has changed.

It's not a break, however, from the old. The same two stitches that create everything in knitting still function in my life; in essentials, I am as ever I was. My common denominators have not changed. Instead, I'm building on those basics, taking all that has come before and the gift of the beauty before has created to branch off in unknown ways.

In short, I'm making it up as I go, and waiting to see what the free-form of space gives me.

So far, it has given surprising people who have created patterns of deceptively simple beauty.

There is one who understands how to give the gifts of laughter and honesty. (After all, what else can you do when but laugh when you learn that said friend has been given the moniker Lactose the Intolerant?) She's a rare person who somehow manages to create perfect symmetry between letting me move through things at my own pace while still handing me the truth about myself not only with no sting, but with provoking from me wry laughter, a calm self-acceptance and occasionally just a flat out giggle fest over the sum of my life for no real reason.

Her friendship has created a sea-spray of cascading motifs, of sympathetic pools of deeply dense stitches and open spaces of rippling laughter, that I will someday try to capture in yarn. Something delicate and shimmering and flowing, I think, that changes its light and mood in each new moment.

It's given to me another friend completely unexpected and, as it was phrased, whom I met in a curious way. One whose quiet observations and gentle questions soothe me. We both lead busy, busy lives and don't always communicate regularly, but even reading the line, "Every day I thought: I am going to write Heidi today," is enough to tell me that our friendship is present for both of us and that it adds something to each of our days. It's a stacking pattern which strengthens itself with each new repeat and from which a life-long friendship could well be knitted, in colors that are deep and comforting. If I could capture it in the reality of what my hands create, it would be a reassuringly warm blanket, the kind you wrap yourself in after a day spent in the snowy woods.

New patterns, new creations, new possibilities springing from my past and my present moments, all leading forward to a future of infinite possibilities and permutations.

I'm probably not writing very coherently at this point. It's late and I had planned on being asleep long ago, but there are moments and times when words need to come out, even if there is not much sense to be made of them. I know what this all means to me, but realize it may mean nothing to whoever reads it. And I've come to the conclusion, against all my training, sometimes the words simply need to resonate for oneself, the way that creating something with your hands means something unique to you that even the recipient of your labor may not fully grasp.

What is given and what is received are never exactly the same.

And maybe, even with words that flow out into world, that's all right.

What July Was Going To Say...(If you feel like reading something unfinished. If not, no worries. Just close the window.)

This month went nothing like I envisioned. I had a schedule drawn up for myself. Knitting or crocheting a bit each morning, a long morning of writing, lunch on the deck in the sun, and back to writing through the afternoon, with more crafting or time with friends in the evening.

I even set up an outdoor office

for the nice days.

The almost constant rain was actually the least of my worries. On my first day of writing, while flipping through the first novel for reference points as I worked on the second book, my computer wigged out. The screen went berserk, and when I finally got it restarted and under control, it let me know that the video card was not happy.

I've tried a restore to the point of last restore, going several months back. No change. I've updated the driver via the Windows update. Nada.

I'm operating in Safe Mode, with networking. Just to add insult to injury, the old laptop's fan is wheezing like an old dog in 1oo degree heat. My computer time is limited to short bursts with down time in-between to let the computer cool.

Somehow, all this seemed on par with other facets of life and I found myself doing something that is very atypical in our day and age, when time off from work is a frenzied attempt to squeeze in as many activities as possible.

I did almost nothing.

I ate when I felt like it is, as with all but the oldest Thing gone, it was not necessary to make big meals. I was brought up to speed in the world of zombie films by Thing One's dinner and movie nights. (Shaun of the Dead is still my favorite over the older ones, though now at least I know why, "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" is so funny.) I stretched out on the deck in the heat of the day and watched the clouds float, blue and gray and grainy white above me.

But perhaps strangest of all, I abandoned my to-do list and just knit on what I was absorbed in, the Hidcote Garden Shawl.

I centered all my frustration over not being able to write into one specific pattern. Rather than rail at what was beyond my technical capabilities (or my pocketbook's capabilities) to fix, I concentrated on the steady movement of my hands as they slipped wood and wool quietly through them.

I came to terms with my dyslexic's short-term memory problems by accepting the fact that I could think a number while counting, only to forget it by the time my fingertips touched the next two stitches waiting their turn to be tallied as I went down the purl row, trying to make sure I hadn't dropped a yarn over. I learned to touch a stitch and then look below it, counting by repeating the patterning I had just done a row before. My hands had memorized the pattern, you see, and so I let them do a repetitive chant of each stitch, and learned to tell the difference in the look of a yarn over stitch and a knit stitch that had moved down from the needles by the purl stitch above them as they sat in their places. I learned to fix a problem two rows down right where it occurred, rather than frogging out rows of lace knitting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beware the Dark Hours of the Knitting Night

Ah ha! I am not mad! Not, I say! The pattern errata proves it! I am vindicated! I CAN count! Mwah ha ha ha ha!

Now why I didn't have the sense to check online to see if there was an errata* before knitting down the same damn row with the same instructions AGAIN when I knew they didn't work the first time doesn't say a whole lot for my intelligence.

But at least I'm not crazy.

(Erm, well. Note to self: Perhaps more sleep before knitting or blogging again would be advisable. Self to self: Said note seems pithy and full of good advice. Too bad there's not much chance of me following it. Why break the habits of a lifetime now?)

*Because the errata was there, and had been there since 6-July, just waiting for me to notice it. Miriam is quite helpful like that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friends Don't Let Friends

Okay, so you hear it *everywhere* in the knitting world. A crafter's co-op (which does, I think, free-trade or something positive and similar) even makes a greeting card with a wee knitted swatch riddled with non-yo holes to illustrate the point: DON'T drink and knit.

Well, babies, it had been a loooong drive from New York to Chicago, and it had rained for most of it. I spent most of my time in Ohio either looking at skies like this

or hoping that I would be able to see out my windshield soon. Downpour city. However, it did allow me to get this picture during a lull--my shutter speed and the car speed turned a blurred picture into something almost impressionistic, and I was absurdly pleased with the result.

So it wasn't the storm that fostered the need for wine. I'm a Midwestern-raised girl--I can handle storms.

Nope, it was getting to downtown Chicago to drop off Thing One's stuff that did me in.

Call me simplistic, but I rather think that if I get off on an exit for Lakeshore Drive, then I should BE on Lakeshore Drive. I should not have had to scoot across 40-billion grid-locked lanes in an obscenely short amount of time so that I could get to Lakeshore, which the exit promised I would be on, rather than ending up in Chinatown, which I am sure is lovely but was not at all where I wanted to go.

By the time I got through that nifty maneuver, I was more than ready for a good red.

My host cautioned it was rather strong, but I insisted that lightweight me (who's also dropped a bit of actual weight, for which my doctor will yell at me but oh well) who had not eaten since about 11:30 a.m could handle it, even though it was now 9:30 p.m.

And bwa ha ha--to prove it, I nimbly began to knit the wrong side row of the shawl. I was smugly pointing out that look, all my little purl stitches were there, were even, were undropped, were indeed a thing of beauty, and then I looked more closely.

I had just turned the shawl into a cowl.

Thankfully, I at least had the sense not to frog it out right then. Instead, with as much dignity as a tipsy knitter could muster, I set my work down and stepped away from it.

I thought I had salvaged the situation quite well, but when I came downstairs in the morning I found this:

Methinks my friend is a cheeky git.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yes, Virginia...

You really can knit whilst stuck in a queue of tourist traffic at a tollbooth.

I mean, hey, c'mon, it's not like I was doing 60 or something. It was like, inch forward at 2 miles an hour, put foot on break, do another fifeteen purls, inch forward (you get the picture).

Although I was purling. I mean, you don't have to look at your work when you purl, so doing 60 and knitting...OMG.

It could WORK.

(Well, as long as you're not driving in Boston or Chicago, anyway...)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Am Handcrafted, Hear Me Roar

Dearest Stitches,

We need to talk about you messing with my head. You all, I'm sure, as you sit there on the needles, gab endlessly about ways to make your life more amusing.

I can understand it must be boring to wait a couple of hundred stitches down and then a couple of hundred back to find out whether you're going to be knitted, purled ssk'd, dbl dec'd, k2tog'd or sl1 k2tog psso'd. (Well, except you two groups of three stitches at either end. You never change. I admire your stoicism and herewith exempt you from the rest of this diatribe.)

I empathize with boredom. Really. I do.

But for the love of lace, when I've got a section with a 103 stitches, with a marker after stitch 51, then I expect 52 stitches on the other side. I'm a simple knitter. I don't think that's asking for much.

I see no humor in you pretending, then, to have 51 stitches on the other side as well. Or 48, 47, 53 or 49. And the time you made the leap down to 32 was really, really not funny at all. You knew it was a row with a lot of yos. You knew how easy it is to muck those up, and you took advantage of my apprehensions.

But the worst of it? You didn't even bother to try and hide your sniggering. Not even after I discovered all of you were there after all. Sauciness is one thing, but that, my dear stitches, was the equivalent of a battle cry.

And I have never been one to back down from a battle.

So. I went back and redid myself, complete with Chris-given nickname. I'm no longer Heidi: Handcrafted Electronic Individual Designed for Infiltration.

I have become*

Heidihun: Handcrafted Electronic Individual Designed for Infiltration, HARM & ULTIMATE NULLIFICATION.

Ponder those last words, dearest stitches. Think what they could do to your happy dreams of becoming a beautiful shawl. I know how you long to be beautifully blocked, lovingly worn, and jealously admired. But if this rebellion continues, all those dreams will be for naught.

Can you imagine it? Stop and listen. Yes. There it is. The soft sound of frogs, ripping harmfully back to where you lie trembling on the needles.

Think of becoming, once again, one long, hugely boring piece of string, wound back into a ball. No pretty patterns. No beautiful shape. No admiration of your subtle colors.

Just...ultimate nullification.

There there, dear stitches. No sniffling. We don't want you felting together, now do we? Have you all taken a deep breath? Are we all on the same page? Can we count sensibly now?

Good. We'll begin R15 of the current chart, then. Thank you.


Your knitter

*Source : (both text & picture are the property of

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's in a name?

Okay, so I spend some time on Facebook. Just a bit. Honest. (Though ironically I spend less time on it now that I have a month off work. I'm too busy. We won't ponder the implications of that just now, all right?)

Anyway, for the longest time, I was good and did NO quizzes. None, none, none. I was there to check in on family members, to reconnect with old high school classmates I would have never heard from again otherwise--like that. I certainly was not there to be cheeky or (dare I say it) smartassical, and most DEFINITELY not there to mess about with applications. I had loftier reasons for being.

But, but...but then...this cool application started showing up on my friends' pages.

Source : (both text & picture are the property of

Jeralyn got J.E.R.A.L.Y.N.: Journeying Electronic Replicant Assembled for Logical Yelling and Nullification.

(Logical Yelling. I mean, who doesn't want to yell in a logical manner? Seriously. Rather a rare talent, that.)

Chris was C.H.R.I.S.: Cybernetic Humanoid Responsible for Infiltration and Sabotage.

(Knew there was a reason he's always running amok with a camera and going off on those "adventures" of his.)

Fiona got to be F.I.O.N.A.: Functional Individual Optimized for Nocturnal Assassination.

(Note to self: Never sneak up on Fi whilst she is sleeping, thinking one is being clever. One wouldn't be.)

Deanna is D.E.A.N.N.A.: Digital Electronic Assassination and Nocturnal Nullification Android.

(I'm so not letting Dee hook up with Fi for a glass of wine. Who knows what those two would get up to?)

Josiah ended up with J.O.S.I.A.H: Journeying Operational Sabotage & Immediate Assassination Humanoid.

(Clearly need to vet the Thing's movie watching habits. Delusions of grandeur there.)

But delusions of grandeur and dangerousness aside, how cool were those? How could I not want to find out my cool name as well?

Besides, my name is Heidi. I was seriously curious what in the world they could come up with for H. Hardwired? Hefty? Hell-bent? Heinous? Oh, maybe Heroic? (Hmm--probably not...)

So, I did it.

Heidi has decoded his/her robot name

HEIDI, Your robot name is :H.E.I.D.I.: Handcrafted Electronic Individual Designed for Infiltration

Handcrafted? Handcrafted?!?! How perfect is that for little bistickual me?

Ohhh, and infiltration as well! I pictured myself with Tunisian crochet hook in one hand, a hip pocket of dpns at the ready and a set of circs (long ones) tucked into my back pocket. (Yeah, babies, that's me--fully armed. Who needs a bo staff, throwing stars, or nunchucks?)

Holding a Knit-Lite aloft and glowing in my free hand, I would scour the world, sneaking into patterns and mastering their secrets. Color work while carrying 50 strands of yarn in a manner that would make Debbie Bliss' head spin? I'd laugh. The trickiest Tunisian? Casual, airy sigh. Lace that would make most people lie down on the dirt-covered floor of an arena and wait for a monster truck to roll over them? Piece of cake for a Handcrafted Infiltrator such as moi. It's what I'm Designed for, after all.

And once I'd infiltrated the patterns successfully, what next? Why, LYSs, of course.

Maranacook's locally hand-painted sock yarn, Purl Diva's beaded silk, Korner Knitters' scrumptious alpaca, Halcyon's unbelievable wools...

They wouldn't stand a chance. (Insert gleeful mwah ha ha here.)

Overall, I've decided that my name--which always made me feel as if I should be on a Swiss mountaintop, cheerfully gamboling along after goats until one of the little blighters did a hard right while I went blithely on ahead and dropped into 50-billion miles deep crevasse--perhaps isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You Think You Know A Person

So the other night Thing One and I were having a conversation. It sprang from some Unidentified Insect Object that I'd glimpsed from the corner of my eye.

It was a thought-provoking debate on the moral issues of bug death. Both sides cared intensely about expressing their viewpoints. I was sure, though, that my unassailable logic had carried the day.

But at the end of it all, he looked at me and said, "So you mean to tell me that between having a mosquito carrying West Nile virus and a yarn-eating moth in your room, you'd take the mosquito?"

And he said it in kind of an incredulous tone. Like there might be a different answer than the one I'd given.

Huh. Go figure, right?

Monday, June 22, 2009

This One's for Narcissa ; )

It was pointed out to me by a reader that it had been three weeks since my last post. As I wasn't aware that anyone read even quasi-regularly except the ever-faithful Needle Tart (aka She Who Must Bail Bistickual Out Of Knitting Corners By Pointing Out The Obvious), I was actually more than a little pleased that someone sounded as if they not only read, but actually wanted to read more. I mean, really? Go figure. That random comment rather brightened up an overcast--both literally and figuratively--day. Thanks, Narcissa--this one's for you!

Sooo, what I have I been doing these past three silent weeks?

Well, Thing One graduated from high school

(Pictured here with The Girl, who is continuing her streak of being loved and adored by all of us--Thing One has good taste. Oh! And there was only one other couple in our row at graduation and guess what the lady was doing? Yep, knitting! I was too shy to Kinnear her--and I had my hands full of my project--but her's looked like a cuff, knitted in the round on dpns in a very pretty shade of red.)

a cousin got married the weekend after graduation

(Does she look radiantly beautiful or what? Her new hubby's quite great as well :) )

and of course we had to celebrate with the family

(There's The Girl again...)

(The Things learn the all-important throwing of the horns from the boyfriend of the bride's sister.)

(That's one of the bride's beautiful sisters with me, and yes, it is her boyfriend corrupting my youth above.)

and then last weekend there was a Saturday night musical and a Sunday matinee for another play to attend--people I knew were in both productions.

But fear not! I have been messing about (and up) with sticks and strings.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Has she at last finished the Shetland Lace socks?

I wish. But no.

The wee scarf for Thing Four that is to go with his hat and mittens? Welllll, Thing Four is the ex's, so, you know, he's not here to measure scarf length against. Darn hard to make a scarf when your not sure how long it should be. The fact that I've made other scarves without the scarfees being anywhere near means nothing. This one is for Thing Four, and it should be tailor-fit to him. Like the hat. Remember the hat?

Ohhhh, she's finally felted her mother's uber-late Christmas Red Hat hat and bag! Um, I'm taking that out to her in July. I have plenty of time. Weeks, even.

Then she's finished the also late, done in endless, poke-your-eyes-out stockinette Christmas socks for her dad? Those're on the Christmas-in-July list as well. I promise.

Hmmm, maybe she's finally gotten with it and is crocheting that snowflake shawl for Carolina?
Er, maybe not.

Okay, okay, okay--I'll admit it. I started the Hidcote Garden Shawl by Miriam Felton. I knowIknowIknow I am badbadbadbadbadbad for starting another project, but I have an excellent reason, which I can't divulge here, for doing so.

And lord help me, I think someone needs to call Lace Knitters Anonymous and stage a massive intervention for me, because the fascination I felt when I started the Shetland Lace Socks has crossed over into full-blown obsession. Lace tempts you with emerging patterns and soft, delicate yarns. It demands your undivided attention and threatens you with a dbl dec when you were supposed to have a sl1 k2tog psso if you even try to glance elsewhere. It whines piteously if you leave it alone for too long and will not be happy until it has you up at 3:00 a.m., knitting "just one more row" (which usually ends up a lot more than one).

It's cunning, it's ruthless and it's vicious and it is taking over my life and I couldn't be happier about that, especially as I am in addict's state of denial over the unfinishedness-ness of the other projects. I can put down the lace at any time and complete that other stuff with time to spare. Honest.

And like any good addict, I have my excuses--reasons; I meant reasons!--for lace knitting. This pattern is teaching me new things! Totally new, really.

Why yes, I can prove that. Here is my extensive list.

(Well, okay, there are only two items on it, but hey, I'm only at the end of the second chart. Two lessons learned within one chart falls well within the definitional parameters of extensive.)

So, onward.

1) I am not crazy and I can actually count. For all of you who know me, shut up shut up shut up! Miriam herself told me I was not crazy. For once, it actually wasn't me arsing things up (and that's way more uncommon than anyone who knows me might think).

I was at a friend's house, sitting on the couch, knitting happily along. I finished the last repeat on R 15 and glanced at the directions--to 5 sts before the marker. I looked at my knitting. I had 4 sts before the marker. I heaved a patient sigh and ripped back.

I knitted. I had 4 before the marker again. I sighed more heavily and ripped back again.

By the fourth time, I wasn't heaving lady-like sighs anymore. I was swearing in a manner that would have raised eyebrows in the foc'sle of a whaler.* My friend being the sort of person he is, though, didn't even bat an eye. Um, perhaps I should think about the company I keep--hmmm?

*And yeah, I stole/paraphrased that line from the brilliant P.G. Wodehouse.

Finally, I did what I should have done after rip back number two. I counted the number of stitches listed on the pattern to make sure they came out to 49, as they were supposed to do.

Huh. They did.

Then suddenly, a new idea dawned on me. Now, don't laugh, but I decided that maybe I should count the number of stitches being used to create the 49 stitches. Blindingly, painfully obvious to all, I'm sure, but to wee knitting me with the dyslexia that falls firmly within the realm of mixing up numbers, it was nothing short of a Divine Revelation. (And I didn't even have to eat any funny mushrooms to have it bestowed upon me.) I went back over R15, omitting the yos and counting out all the stitches in the dbl decs, k2togs and ssks and guess what?

I needed 48 stitches to create those 49 stitches, but in R13, I ended with only 47 stitches.

I emailed Miriam (still more than half-convinced I'd messed up somewhere) and she immediately emailed me back, stating I wasn't crazy (I've kept the email for proof), that it was the fault of one missing yo and that the pattern should read *yo, k3, k2tog, k3, yo,k1, yo...instead of the *yo, k3, k2tog, k5, yo, K3 that I had. Knock out that extra knitted stitch (back down to needing only 47 stitches again) and add in that extra yo and I was finishing--happily--the row out in no time. The fact that she'd sent me a completely updated pdf of the pattern was quite appreciated as well.

Miriam, like Marguerite, was so kind and helpful. Aren't nice designers who are patient with clueless people just lovely to have around? I can't wait to knit up some of their other patterns. (I think the Blessing socks are waiting in the wings. Well, unless they get crowded out by Eleanoras or the Basketweave Ribbings...)

2) Patience. I know, those of you who know me in the real world would be shocked that this is not an attribute which I already possess, but Row 23 on Chart 2 has taught me that perhaps I could do with a bit more zen-like acceptance in my life.

I'm not sure what it was about that row. Miriam's directions, as always, were clear and easy to follow. It wasn't an error in the pattern. I redid all the math I did above for Row 15 , and all the numbers were as perfect as could be. Miriam reminded a Designing Goddess Divine. But still.

I was supposed to have 57 stitches on both sides of the center stitch. I had 58 stitches, which meant something had gone awry 100 and some stitches apart. And it turns out that both errors I made were both located in approximately the same place--one near the beginning of the first half, one near the end of second half, which put them both near to either end of the shawl.

A symmetrical screw-up--how me. I would like to pass on my newly-acquired wisdom by pointing out that when doing a sl1 k2tog psso, it's helpful to do the *#^%&%!# psso part if one wants to get the correct number of stitches so that one's lace doesn't end up looking like a yarn interpretation of a Jackson Pollock painting.

See? Lesson learned, amid much swearing in my office during lunch and break-time while picking up a million and one dropped stitches as I tinked back along the row. Note to all: circulars from Knitpicks, which I love, are also a bit springy and it's best not to lose your grip on them if you only have a few stitches on the right-hand needle. Picking up a drop in lace, especially a yo, is a real bitch. Still, I managed to do it without leaving any gaping dropped-stitch holes.

(Ever notice how glaringly obvious those holes are when compared to the regular holes in lace? I did, which is why I spent more time than I am willing to divulge squirreling around with the yarn and trying to make it look like normal knitted fabric again. I succeed in that, nominally, anyway, and it was out of the patterned zone, so I didn't throw that off. Thank God that section lies up against the neck, and let's hope that I never run afoul of an old lady who'll actually inspect my stitching through bifocals that magnify everything by 200%.)

All that said, I would like to thank R 25. Row 25 knitted up perfectly, in about (it felt like) 5 seconds flat, with no dropped stitches and all numbers counting up as they should.

I will love R 25 to the end of my days.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Erm, Remember That Post I Promised Two Months Ago?

Yes, darlings. They're here. At last. (As in, really long last.)

Without further ado, we present to you...

Snow Zombies on the Catwalk.

The hip and edgy Snow Zombies of the Things, featuring Thing 1's SZ doing a mosh-pit leap onto the runway.

The classically elegant look of the mature SZs, featuring accessories which can hold two of them up, if need be, and which are craftily disguised as a walking stick and snow shovel.

And the star of this event, the Carolina Snow Zombie in a beautiful pale pink ensemble, with glittery snowflakes all about it.

They were, needless to say, a sensation that hit the snow zombie society by storm. Within mere hours of this exclusive event, we were being pelted with orders from SZs the world over (well, the cold parts of the world over) with orders for the magnificent couture accoutrements. And the Things are right on that. Knitting up a storm, they are. (Me? I'm ducking lightning bolts right about now. Let's just move along from order-processing discussion, shall we?)

The organizers of this affair would like to thank one very busy photographer for all of his work with our sometimes high-maintenance models. What do you mean, he was having to mess with Photoshopping the SZs over human models?!? What is this photoshopping of which you speak? Never heard of it. Clearly, that is a vicious rumor started by Paris Hilton, who was all in a snit because she was not invited to the show. I mean, she called up crying and everything, but what was I supposed to do when Nicole Richie said no way was she coming if Paris was coming and...(Erm. Ahem. Time to move along once again. Right ho. Back to the ultra chic world-weary tone.)

Yes, yes, you say, in bored voice. Everyone know all about the runway (runaway?) life of models. But what are they like away from the bright lights and high fashion? Enquiring minds want to know.

Enter Thing 2, who has the makings of a first-rate tabloid paparazzi already blossoming in her teenage self. She stalked the snow zombies, stealthily intruded into their private lives and now presents to us a pictorial peek into their doings.

(The fact that Thing 2 discovered that my homemade light box had been taken over by this lot had nothing to do with shoving the Thing out the door with camera and SZs in hand.)

Thing 1's SZ headed straight off to see a concert. But not Slayer. Air Supply has kicked off their reunion tour, and this headbanging SZ had front-row tickets.

Thing 2's SZ headed back to its job as a sketchy droid dealer, thus negating my idea that its hood had an EZ-Tomten-meets-Laura-Ingall-Wilder look to it and confirming Thing 2's jawa-look opinion. Sigh. But at least it's a colorful jawa look.

Thing 3's SZ bought into all the, "You look like an owl" observations and, in the words of Elbow, decided that it was perfect weather to fly. (The pictures of said flight are here withheld. It wasn't pretty, and we do have certain level of decorum to maintain on the blog.)

Thing 4's SZ seemed overwhelmed by all the green and retreated to the shade of the trees, the better to protect its precious snowball. (Though how it is going to throw the snowball when said sphere is attached to its hand is rather a circular conversation at the moment. One cannot always reason with snow zombies. Rather like men in that respect.)

The Grandpa's SZ decamped without his ever-ncessary snow shovel. (If you know Midwestern farmers, you'll immediately understand what a scandal that is. Why it's not on the front page of every national newspaper I can't even begin to think.)

Carolina's SZ enjoyed a moment with Maine wildflowers in the charmingly natural (i.e. in desperate need of a mowing) front yard before being stuffed in a mailer and posted to the Dominican Republic. (Carolina has a dear wish to see snow. The SZ was the closest we could come.)

The Mom Zom in her natural, undecorated state*, next to her favorite flower, the effervescent dandelion. (Now picked for her exclusively by Thing 4, as the others have grown too up to do so.)

And Jed's SZ? Off into the wilderness it went. Completely unlike its new owner... ;)

Thus, we at tardily long last, present the final snow zombies post. They were great fun to make, and I'm trying hard to convince myself that Marie Mayhew's owls aren't just as cute.


*And yes, I rather ran out of steam when it came time to accessorize my own SZ. Fun as they were, I think I may have made them to excess and ended up zombied out. I'll make the hat and scarf next winter. I'm leaning toward the Carolina SZ look, I think. Same yarn, anyway. Just a different color.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meeting Ysolda Teague

One of my favorite things about Purl Diva’s, aside from the amazing yarns Ellen stocks, is the little email updates that tell you who’s going to be around and when. (Yes, I know email updates are commonplace now. But I still appreciate them, okay? I lived a good chunk of life without a home computer, basically because there were no such things.) And this little email update informed me that Ysolda Teague would be at the shop.

I live a good distance from Purl Diva's, which means I usually reserve visits for “special occasions” so I can justify the trip. Meeting a designer whose work I like? Yep. It qualified.

So yes, I also tend to stock up when I go down there (Oy vey, what I spent when I took the Franklin Habit class), though with Thing 1 graduating high school and a family wedding in New York this June, I was minimalist to the extreme this trip.

That hurt. Badly. It was especially painful as there was more of the naturally-colored alpaca that I love (might need two skeins to make it a shawl, after all), and some beautiful beaded silk in soft pastels hanging right near the register, just begging me to take it home. (I can still hear it sniffling in the background. If it doesn’t give up soon I’m going to have to buy it some cold medicine, because I am under strict orders to myself NOT to call up Ellen and buy it instead. I hope I listen to me.)

I did have extra cash in my pocket, but it was given me by a friend with the understanding that I would pick up dinner at the Bombay Mahal and said friend might have been cranky if I had returned with alpaca and silk instead. Worse yet, he may have tried to eat them in lieu of the lamb bhuna he ordered. He is that kind of person.

So, cautious pocketbook notwithstanding, I ventured down to Purl Diva’s last Saturday. I had seen some of her work in Knitty; the Airsaig in particular caught my eye, in part because I’m a geek for the history of things, be it culture-wide or personal, and I loved the story of her grandfather’s talent for knitting, and of how she inherited his yarn. I peeked at her website, was bowled over by the new (to me) designs, and quickly talked my lovely Thing 2 into babysitting Things 3 & 4.

I’m always of two minds about attending these sorts of gatherings. It is nice to get out and show support for designers who do work you admire, but I nonetheless feel like I have about 15 left feet and am stuffing all them in my mouth simultaneously when it comes to actually talking to people. Stick me on a stage where I’m being somebody else and I’m fine. (Well, most days. I did have one mucked up dress rehearsal recently.) But in a room full of strangers as myself? I tank, baby, every time. I go very shy, which makes me nervously talkative, which makes me wish I would just shut up.

Fortunately, there were a lot of nice knitters there, as well as Ysolda

who very sweet, charming, and quietly helpful and who managed not to look as if she wanted to hit 911 any time I opened my mouth—I thought that very gracious of her. There was Sadie, who seemed to share my affinity for the color purple in all its shades, judging by the number of yarns we kept agreeing we liked. (Should I worry that I can now spot Noro and Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride across a store and know what they are without getting closer? Nah. They’re both distinctive on the shelf, so it has nothing to do with me spending too much time around yarn, right? Right.) And there were an oddly high number of people who had once been Midwesterners, or who were current, traveling Midwesterners, in attendance. It makes me wonder what’s up with us all running back East. Blog for another day, I guess.

And, of course, there were the samples of Ysolda’s work. She is such a talented designer!

(this sweater is Matilda Jane)

Everything was beautiful, though I think I fell most in love with Vivian, which is a cabled hoodie. I’m still kicking myself for not taking a picture of the cuff detail, let alone the whole sweater--I had another attack of the shys about then. Anyway, Ysolda runs the cable down into the cuff itself, and said cuff has a lovely, soft flair to it. Fortunately, if you click on the picture of Vivian on Ysolda's website, you will be taken to Twist Collective, where they do have a picture of the sleeve detail. (And yes I am off to purchase that particular pattern from her website when I finish up here, because it’s not expensive and I decided it would be my treat to myself for catching up blogs—snow zombies, complete with pictures, are being written up next, woot—and surely I will be good enough to wait until later to purchase the yarn so don’t give me that look. I can be good. I can show restraint. Oh, quit laughing.)

The other thing that stood out for me was the casual speed at which Ysolda knits and crochets. To someone who does both slowly (that would be me, in case there was any doubt), it was sort of hypnotic to watch, especially since she throws her yarn when knitting. By the time I get enough experience to be that fast, I’ll be so old I won’t remember what the sticks, hook and strings are for, you know?

All in all, it was a lovely day. I walked away with Ysolda’s book and some stitch markers for the other project I’m a hairsbreadth from casting on. (Shhh, fuss at me later.) And that is all. Seriously. I stopped off at Bombay Mahal where I picked up the friend's order and some to-die-for lamb pasanda, along with two kinds of naan, cucumber raita and rice pudding, and went on my merry way. (Though I have to say that Shere Punjab is next on the To Try list--I've heard it's fabulous as well.)

I think all Saturdays should be like that one, don’t you? (Well, like that one, but with a bigger yarn purchase budgets and less feet stuffed into mouth.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

We interrupt our regularly scheduled knit/crochet blog to bring you this breaking news

Well, okay, so you don’t need the blog to tell you what’s been all over the national papers these past two days: on Tuesday, the Maine State House approved LD1020, and on Wednesday, in a move that had my jaw dropping (but in a really good way) Baldacci quickly signed it into law. Baldacci was quoted in more papers than I can count: "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," [he] said in a statement read in his office. "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

Opposition is already gearing up a petition drive for a people’s veto, but I’m hopeful that if that comes about, the courts will do as the Iowa Supreme Court did and say, “Sorry, banning same-sex marriage is constitutionally a wash,” or, in more formal language:

“The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion,” said a summary of the ruling issued by the court.

There are some strong correlations between this issue and what we faced with desegregation. I’ve read opinion write-ins following the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision—I grew up there—and a recurring theme was: how 7 could trump the will of 3,000,000?

Because sometimes it just has to, I guess. That may seem simplistic, but I can guarantee that many of those people who are up in arms about allowing GLBTs the same civil liberties as the rest of us do believe that race should not be a basis of restriction of rights. They will say that to discriminate against any of God’s children is not right, and will point to the behaviors of past generations of whites as heinously wrong, all the while Biblically justifying their GBLT discrimination.

Just as many whites did when it came to African-Americans. Hey, I’m mostly white, despite a few family tree veers in other ethnic directions. I grew up in an all-white community; everyone considered me white because no one knew I wasn't entirely Caucasian. I know that it can play out that way. I’ve watched it happen, and on all sorts of issues. Past battles fought are seen as right in retrospect, but God help anyone who tries to shake current beliefs.

These were the sorts of things I have discussed before, and the sorts of things I expected to continue discussing when the subject of legalization of gay marriage came up.

But I was surprised. My post-signed-into-law-excitement thoughts have been of an entirely different nature than I could have foreseen.

My friends and I were doing the long-distance celebrating of legalizing on Facebook, as Fbers will do, when one of my former play directors posed a thoughtful question. (He’s that sort of person, is L.) Why were so many straight people so involved in discussing this, when his gay friends were being pretty quiet about it? Why did it matter to us? Or more to the point, why did it matter to me, as this was my wall he was posting on.

Good question, that. I gave my reasons: 1) marginalizing any group heightens the chance of marginalization of even more people, and all on as arbitrary a basis as this marginalization (Christians wouldn’t consider themselves bound by Islamic law, after all, so why are we Christians assuming all other faiths and non-faiths should be bound some Christians’ beliefs?) and 2) legislating love, thereby impeding two persons’ desires to make a life-long commitment one to the other, is just plain wrong.

L. read this, I’ll assume, and possibly other wall posts on the subject as well. The next day, he posted this:

L. -- is wondering why people demanding tolerance, aren't very tolerant, if you see things a little different. Why so much anger?

That’s a good question, if you ask me. Because one, yes, I have been angry that it has taken us this long as a country to get it together. Seven other countries, beginning with the Netherlands in 2001, have enacted laws legalizing, not civil unions or partnerships, but same-sex marriages (see's data for more details). And we, the country that has been famous for at least paying lip-service to our democratic ideals, have done nothing, and furthermore our federal government has bowed out of this one, more than happy for once to not try to trump states’ rights. So it’s literally 50 different battles that must be fought.

The cheeky part of me, when looking at how much longer other countries have had such legislation, also dearly wants to point out that if people are poised for lightning-bolt retribution from Above, they shouldn’t worry as we’ve had a seven-country bolt buffer (and for far too many years). Chances are we’ve received the Divine all-clear, you know?

A bit snarky of me, I know. I’ll admit it. And I’m adamant about equal rights in marriage, that’s for sure. I can see why people might perceive that as angry.

And yet, the angry rhetoric of those who oppose same-sex union bothered me so badly that I was unable to stay in the room and watch the video stream of the Senate hearings that my co-workers had up. The person who was speaking is no different than I am in level of conviction, nor was he passively standing by the sidelines. He was vocal about his opinion, just as I am about mine. So, was L. right? Is there no difference between the lack of tolerance?

I hope there is. I do dislike the stand, I don’t understand why love thy neighbor can’t be more prevalent than what an apostle who didn’t even run with Jesus thought, but I hope I haven’t flashed over into the world of hate conviction. There’s a fine line between the two and we do after be careful as we walk that line. But to stand on the sidelines, would be, as Edmund Burke pointed out, allowing evil to flourish, because [we] stood by and did nothing.* They don’t see their behavior as evil, granted, but hate is the true evil in the world. It damages those who hate as much as those who are hated. And that’s sad.

I think I like how E.M. Forester put it best, though. His character, George Emerson, said that we all cast a shadow wherever we stand. The best we can do is to pick a place where we won’t do much harm, and stand in the sun for all we are worth.

He’s right. At this point in life, I just want to keep my shadow print as pale as possible. Maybe I’ll go play with sticks and strings under a tree where the light is still there, warm and brilliant, and yet softly filtered. That sounds about right, don’t you think?

Okay, next blogs will be back on-topic and about dazzlingly controversial issues such as why the Snow Zombie don't melt when frolicking in the dandelions, successfully convincing myself that summer IS the logical time to be knitting hats and mittens and crocheting warm shawls, and the utter asininity of ordering yarn for another project when I’ve already got more than enough on needles and hook. (I'll also catch up the reading and music lists. I've stumbled onto some stellar recording artists of late...)

*The quote I paraphrased was: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. However, in the course of looking it up today for accuracy’s sake, I discovered that it isn’t an actual quote at all. I ended up paraphrasing a paraphrase. And the geek in me feels duty bound to point that out. What Burke actually said in Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents was, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

I think I see why the paraphrase caught on… ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday, May 1 is Just Another Friday the 13th to a Dyslexic

(Being a dyslexic means I can mess with numbers at will, and, more to the point, without will. It's a built-in thing.)

Anyway, it's been one of those days, I have to say. Don't believe me? Allow me to illustrate. Please use public service beep, squawk, or freaky annoying sound of your choice for each of the following PSAs.

Public Service Announcement the First: If you set your P2's (Samsung's iPod) alarm for uber early so you can do a mountain of dishes and make yummy lemon bars, then set the P2 on the other bed pillow (as you have done all year), said P2 will somehow slide under your shoulder (as it has never done before) where 1) your shoulder will continually hit the touch screen's snooze option and 2) the headphones will be too buried under covers to hear.

(Just sayin'. In case you were, you know, wondering about things like that.)

Public Service Announcement the Second: You should always remember that just because you've taught the Things, on pain of beheading, to stack the dishes, this does not mean they've rinsed them, and you could be stuck with bits of chocolate cake clinging to EVERY last plate you try to wash.

Ask me how I know this. I dare you.

Please note that couscous in a bowl has the same effect and is very noticeable if you have just drained and cleaned sink and refilled it with fresh, hot, soapy water.

Public Service Announcement the Third: One should remember that if one is running late due to evil P2/dishes conspiracy and decides to shave in shower anyway, that odds are good that one will drop razor and not only knock blade head free, but also get to watch it fall right down that gaping abyss the landlady insists on calling a drain. And once new blade head is located (after dripping all over bathroom), one WILL put it on razor upside down.

If one is lucky, one will notice this mistake and correct before one shreds one's legs to bits.

(And believe me, that was a third person moment if ever there was one...)

Public Service Announcement the Final: If you discover that your too-young-to-stay home-alone Things 3 and 4 don't have school and your slave-babysitting-labor Thing 2 does have school, and you entice Things 3 and 4 to work with you on the promise they can play on the HUGE side lawn by your office all day...IT. WILL. RAIN. A LOT. And you will discover just how small your strangely pointy office is when you cram three people and a mini DVD-TV into it for eight hours.

Is anyone else laughing yet? Because I have been, all day. There comes a point, you know, where you can't do anything but. (And I haven't even discussed the damp weather hair which has simultaneously flattened and yet swooshed out on the ends of the layers, making me look like a very brunette, very bedraggled, Farrah Fawcett wannabe.)

Besides, I am a happy crafter today, so happy that despite the days adventures I have been double knitting blithely on, stupidly secure in the idea that I have not knitted the two sides together. (I'll check that for sure tomorrow. I may be stupidly happy, but I see no reason to tempt fate.)

Why am I happy?

The Maine Senate held their second vote yesterday--they are passing their bill on to the House with NO referendum to allow for a public vote on legalizing gay marriage. As well they should, for who am I (or anyone else) to vote on whether or not someone else can have the rights which are unthinkingly given to me? The House is expected to pass it, and then it's on to our erstwhile Gov. Baldacci, who has yet to support either side. I'm wondering if he'll wimp out and neither sign nor veto, which means that after a set period of time the bill would become law without his interference (s'how it works on the Federal level anyway--thank you School House Rock). Kind of a lose-lose situation for a guy who can't seem to take a stand, and I rather hope he ends up with both sides torqued off at him, seeing as he's trying to keeping two very opposing groups happy.

The opposition has vowed that if this passes, they will go door-to-door to get signatures enough for a people's veto, which means that the vote would go back out to the state-at-large (if I'm understanding these things correctly).

I hope they knock on my door.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Big News

Yes, I am a bad blogger. I am way behind on posting on anything.

It's been a wild ride through February, March and April, from a love life with more twists and turns than a Maine back road, to busy, busy, busy rehearsals for both one-act plays (one of which went on to a festival, so that only just ended last weekend) to two birthdays to celebrate, to one breast cancer scare which fortunately turned out to be nothing but a scare, but which did leave me a tad anxious for a few days (i.e. a slightly zoned out mess who only got through it because of one rock steady friend--thanks, mi hijo. This is not to say other of my friends are not rock steady--he was just the only state-side person I told, outside of two co-workers who happened in on me right after the "Hi, it's Tuesday, could we have you back in on Thursday, please?" call). Throw a few swine flu cases in our county on top of it all, and well, I've not felt particularly witty of late.

Of course, it could be argued that I'm not particularly witty, period. So perhaps one could say I was even more, er, witless than usual?

Um. Yes. That would seem to cover it. (Sigh.)

So. Zombies this weekend, hopefully. Some additional photos will be required due to nature of cool thing friend did to them--they're group shots now, rather than having individual moments of glory. Also notes of progress (or lack thereof) on other projects, such as the double knitting and the still-to-be crocheted shawl.

But that's not why I'm blogging today.

Nope. Today's news is something that just blew me out of the water, even though I had been checking the news online for it.

Guess what my lil ol adopted home state did today?!

Did you guess yet? Did you?

Okay, so I'm providing a link but am still too excited to just wait patiently for you to click on it. So, in a direct quote from the Kennebec Journal, "The Maine Senate voted 20-15 today in favor of a bill to allow same-sex marriages in Maine."

It's got two more votes to get through--one more Senate required and then on to the House--so still more of a battle, but...we're finally taking steps to uphold constitutional rights of all our citizens rather than letting the prejudiced thinking of some of them hold sway. In no other issue that I can think of have we, the people, been asked to vote on the privileges of another group of people.

That's just wrong. Especially when it's the religious beliefs of one group that are infringing upon the constitutional rights of others. Separation of church and state, babies.

Come to that, I think it's time to go dig out my bumper sticker that my previous landlady gave me:

I believe in the separation of church and hate.

Because really, in listening to the Senate debates, the level of hate I heard from the opposition was terrifying. Time for more rational thought to hold sway, and kudos to the clergy of all faiths who provided it in their support of legalization of gay marriage. No more judging, no more assuming one way of loving is better than another. Instead let's see accepting people for who and what they are, especially since church emphasizes that we are as God made us. And geez, there was that son of God (or extremely insightful prophet, depending on your religion), who preached tolerance and love endlessly...

One happy little straight Christian girl here. (Too happy for commas in their proper places, even.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Didn’t Plan To Do It This Time

Okay, the snow zombies are coming. Sometime. Honestly. But the friend who wanted to help me do something “fun” with their little photo shoot just got slammed hard at work. And since he, like many people, is just hoping his company can remain a company rather than a name on the economic casualty list, I’ll not be bothering him about them right now.

Understandable, I hope. Dude has a bit more to worry about than making the SZs look fetching, you know?

So today we’re going to move to another favorite theme of mine: corruption of youth. Yes, it happened again. But it wasn’t me who started it this time, honest! And the where, I’ll admit, came at a time and a place when I least expected it to happen.

Thing 3 had a Court of Honor for Boy Scouts.

(And, note to anyone out there who is thinking, “Those guys discriminate against homosexuals!!” Yes, they do. And do my kids know I don’t agree with that policy? Hell, yeah. One of my oldest friends is gay, and I’ll go head to head with anyone, Scout people included, over whether he is doing something “wrong”. Because he’s not. IMHO, I don’t really think God gives a flip about who you love—He cares about how you love. So there, BSA is, to me, totally wrong.

But I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, folks. Lots of institutions, like schools, churches, or oh, say, my own government, have policies and philosophies with which I strongly disagree. But that hasn’t stopped me believing in a higher power or seeing that my kids are educated. Nor has it made me move out of my country, though if we would have elected another Republican, I would have considered it most seriously. For me, Scouts has been a way to spend one-on-one time with each of my Things—and that’s kind of tricky when one gets past the Dr. Seuss-imposed limit of two—and a way for us to be able to camp as a family when the ex had issues with that and I was trying to keep familial peace. Stupid in retrospect—trying to keep the familial peace, I mean—but it seemed a good idea at the time.

And, more importantly, this Troop has accepted Thing 3’s Asperger’s Syndrome without a blink; instead of being on the outside, Thing 3 is very much in; as in as a kid with Asperger’s lets himself get, anyway. So Scouts? It’s a big deal. He succeeding there, and he loves it. We’re staying.

Ahem. I will now step off the soapbox.)

Anyway, I was knitting while the talks were going on (shocking, I know) and while they were setting up for Court of Honor. Currently, I’m double knitting a scarf for Thing 4 to go along with his mittens and hat. I fully expect to have to make new mittens for next winter, but that’s not a big deal as the scarf will keep until then (it will have to, seeing as his mother didn’t get round to starting it until right before spring hit). Anyway, I was knitting and purling away and kind of people watching, when I noticed a little girl. She had stopped at our table a couple of times before the meal, and I thought perhaps she found Thing 4 kinda cute. (They’re near the same age.) But now here she was, after the meal, near the wall, watching our little family unit. Thing 4 had moved to see the video they had shown more clearly, but she was still staring at the empty seat next to me in which Thing 4 had sat.

I finally cottoned on to the fact that she wasn’t boy gazing, but yarn gazing. She was staring at the bright red and dark blue piles of yarn with a look I supposed I would see on my own face if yarn stores had mirrors hung over their bins of baby alpaca.

I smiled at her.

She smiled back, took a step forward, almost said something, then retreated to the wall again.

I knit and purled. I glanced back. She was still there. She did her little step forward, step back. And then?

“I knit too,” she blurted out.

“Cool! You wanna come help me with this?”

She most definitely did. She shyly informed me, when I asked, that she made dishcloths and blankets. She was fascinated with the scarf and with me knitting two different colors at once. I plopped the needles into her hands and showed her how it worked.

She had never purled before, and had most definitely never double-knitted, but she totally loved it. She wanted to know why I was using both hands to create the stitches. I explained how I had to keep each color on its own side so I didn’t knit the sides together, so each hand had to help. I showed her how you could pull the two sides apart, and what the right side of the fabric (for now hidden inside the scarf—I double-knit inside out) looked like. She couldn’t get over the smoothness of stockinette stitch. I explained that if she knitted one row on straight knitting, then purled back, she would get fabric that looked like that.

She continued on down my row, checking to make sure she was wrapping the yarn the correct way with the purl. She had only ever thrown yarn (er, no, I still can’t remember which that is) but she took to throwing with her right to purl and slipping with her left to knit as she alternated stitches like a pro. She accidentally slipped a stitch here or there when the yarn didn’t catch right, but I showed her how to fix that.

The absolute best, totally coolest thing about this surprise knit moment, though? When the candle was lit and lights turned down and when I went up with Thing 3 to stand with him as they ask parents to do, that chica just flipped on my Knit Lites and kept right on stitching.

(Imagine this picture in the dark. Darn flash ruins everything. But thanks, Thing 2, for thinking to take it!)

You rock, G. Hope I see you at the next meeting. Bring your sticks, okay?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Random Snow Day Moments

I absolutely could not believe it when I read my email from work this morning.

Classes are cancelled and offices are closed today (Monday, March 2nd).

I was further perplexed when I looked out the window and saw that my driveway was not a solid mass of snow, as it had been following the two previous big storms--neither of which had closed the campus.

Still, I didn't argue. Instead, I stayed curled up in my jammies, decadently reading Erin Hart's mystery Lake of Sorrows (good book) and contemplating whether or not I could wait almost a year for the newest William Kent Krueger, Red Knife, comes out in paperback.

I finally stretched and then pushed myself out of bed. (No, I'm not going to tell you how late it was, so don't bother asking.)

My eyes fell on the snow zombies. I had said in my last post that I was feeling more like picking up the needles and hook again. That had been only partially true, I'd discovered. Though I'd notched things down to quiet sadness, I found focus was still a bit fuzzled and I was maybe not quite as optimistically optimistic as I had optimistically projected.

The problem with reading, knitting, crocheting, writing (or working) is that while I absorb myself in the one task, my mind wonders into other territory. I call it thinking on simultaneous levels; others have referred to it is analytically freaky. There's probably some truth to both descriptions. (I mean, you're talking about a person who could listen to a never-read-it book on audio tape and keep up with the story line--I actually cried at a sad bit, okay?--while writing example business letters and not missing a beat nor falling behind on number of letter produced compared with the other example letter writers, none of whom were listening to audio books. My boss pointed out that most people can't truly listen and pay attention to one thing and write something else. I didn't know that. Heck, I listen to people tell me things and talk back to them while typing emails to other people about other things at the same time. I thought everyone did stuff like that, but evidently I'm a bit weird.)

Anyway, acting is the one place where I have to use all levels at once. There is simply too much happening onstage, too much to react to and timing to watch, etc. etc. It's the only time and place where I think in only one moment, the here and now. Well, maybe not the only one, but any others I can think of are rather personal and so not bloggable, you know?

(Tell me there are other level-thinking people out there who tend to think past/present/future simultaneously, okay? It'll make me feel better.)

Sunday's rehearsal was one of the best first run-throughs of which I have ever been a part. Terrifically fun cast members, stellar director. For a few hours, all of me was completely collected in one moment of synergy, with no offshoots into territory that really needs to go to ground anyway. It left me calm and centered and clearly focused. And that focus was still with me when I woke up this morning.

So, when I saw those snow zombies? Well...

Dudes. They're done.

They're having their wee pictures taken in the lightbox tomorrow, and then are being sent off to a pal in Chicago for some special treatment before being posted. Neglected Blogs promised something cool, remember? And hey, that's a whole whack of late Christmas and ALL my Hanukkah gifts gone in one go.

Getting that done made going out and tackling the driveway with the Things seem like a walk in the park. Thing Two went after the snow slump by the garage that had fallen from the roof the last thaw, and then froze itself to my driveway before I got home from work. (I'm seriously starting to loathe sloped metal roofs.) Thing Three valiantly trudged out to take on the snowplow hill at the top of the drive. Thing Four just went little-kid nuts with a mini-shovel and packed down more snow then he moved. And yeah, I got the entire rest of the driveway.

It was great. We had a snow dumping fight. (It's the best when the snow is too powdery for snowballs--just scoop and dump, preferably on someone shorter for full impact.) We discovered a good inch of ice at the top of the drive, hidden beneath the few inches of snow, which sort of pointed to why classes were canceled for snow I could have easily driven over. We were visited by a lovely yellow lab who played with us, then led the Things to the back yard, where he was almost buried in snow as he ran about with them. (Sometimes driveway shoveling just doesn't matter in the grand scheme, you know?) When everyone returned to the front yard to tell me of their adventures (like I hadn't heard and watched and laughed already), yellow dog came along. I christened him Sam, and the Things agreed. He looked very Sam-like.

Eventually, the Popsicles named Thing Three and Thing Four took their much-reddened cheeks inside to warm up. (I'm still pondering how it is that none of the Things got any of my light Mexican-Lakota coloring, which led to barely reddened nose on my part, and instead dived firmly into the pale Irish-Swedish side of our gene pool, which led to complete Rudolph noses and apple cheeks on their parts. I've been accused of adopting them all, and I'm beginning to wonder if that might be true; though who the hell would hallucinate labor? Four times?) Thing Two and I were left with Sam.


"No, we can't have him in the house; we're renting and it's not allowed. Why don't you walk him down the road and see if he lives at one of the neighbors?"

"You're doing that answering before I ask the question thing again."

I waved that away--I'm a mom; it's what we do--and watched as she and Sam trudged down our road, where they found Sam's owner. Thing Two wilted. She had already had visions of Sam tucked up on blankie in a corner of her room, maybe playing with her yarn while she knitted, just like Muffy the Yarnslayer (scroll down to the last paragraph for the low-down on Muffy).

But what's more, Sam wilted. Though his owner was obviously a very kind man and very good to his pet, Sam did not want to go back into the yard with the other two dogs. He wanted to stay and play with his New Girl. It was touching, and bittersweet. The guy talked to Sam (who's other name is apparently Gus), he cajoled and wheedled and finally had to put an arm around Sam's neck and lead him away, tossing a, "Thanks for bringing him home, deah," over his shoulder to my daughter. She stood in the middle of the road and watched them go, not moving.

I went and met up with her, and arm around her, walked back home with her.

So it was a day of quiet accomplishment. Reading. Knitting. Chores turned Thing-Memories-Made time. Er, lines NOT practiced for show like I promised director I would so I would know whether or not I needed a one-one-one line run through (sorry, Sir Director, but I'll have time tomorrow). Blog posted (almost).

Four out of five is not bad, all in all.

Oh, and one other thing. A February thing. It seems only fitting that in the month of the Blogversary, I discovered that I was actually listed in a Blogs I Read list on a new blog called Stringin' Crazy! She does Tunisian crochet (which I want to do as well as her) and her embroidery, from what I saw, is freakin' to die for. I only wish mine were that good (yeah, I do that sometimes too--even people who craft both ways have occasional dalliances outside the yarn). And her Wednesday Musings made me laugh. I don't know, maybe I'm listed on other blog rolls out there, but that is the first I've ever seen and I was darned chuffed about it.

Snow days. They stand out, don't they?