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?