About Me

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Six years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Mikasa es su casa?

Not much longer, apparently. On Saturday night Brother Sushi and I finally caught up with one another for the monthly dinner, and the yearly [or in my case, every-other-yearly] gift exchange. He loved the tie [one year late] and the miniature ice cube tray with nautical shapes [fish, clams, ships, because Rockfish is one of our fall-back restaurants] and the curried pecans [!] that I made him from Serves One and his own copy of said cookbook.

You should see his collection of cookbooks. It puts my sister’s to shame, and she’s been collecting them for years. I remember seeing her half-tower bookcase in the corner of the breakfast nook in their old house [they’ve been in the new house almost 20 years now] and wondering what anybody would need beyond Joy of Cooking and the BH&G red cookbook and the Betty Crocker Cookie Book.

Yeah, I’m a late bloomer in the kitchen.

So what did he give me? A red Mikasa box that tells me something gorgeous is inside; in this case, a large, lovely *red* platter for chips and dip, and the sad news that this will probably be the last Mikasa he can give me, as they’re going out of the retail business, and while Macy’s will carry them, Macy’s is also downscaling its retail business, and some of those stores will be here in Texas.


I would show you a picture of the new platter, but I’m keeping it in its box until I know where I’ll be living after LittleBit graduates in June.

LittleBit is spreading her wings. I probably heard more from her this weekend than I usually do, as she called to ask, “I’m at Point A; what’s the best way to get to Point B?” She knows our town like the back of her hand, but this was Fort Worth. Yesterday she took HerBoy over to Secondborn’s house to meet that part of the family. [On Saturday she got to meet his stepbrother.] Yesterday he called me “Mama”, which will take a little getting used to but doesn’t make me twitch.

It was a big day on another front as well. LittleBit and I drove separate cars to church, because she had work afterward and I. Didn’t. Have. To. Drive. Her. There. What did I do, instead? Drove to FW and had another two hours of church with Secondborn and her tribe. Got my black leather jacket patina’d by buckets of baby drool. And, not so coincidentally, met the Good Brother that 2BDH has been wanting me to meet.

He told me what nice kids and grandkids I had. I commended him on his perspicacity. He then smiled at Secondborn and said, “We’ll be in touch.” Time will tell what that means; I wonder if he’ll be at the old folks’ singles dance tonight? But at any rate, I have done what he requested of 2BDH: gone to church in their ward so we can be introduced, and the ball is now squarely in his court. I will have a blast tonight, with or without his assistance, because Brother Sushi is the DJ. And the regular first-Friday dance is this coming weekend, and my feet don’t hurt, so I’m looking forward to that one as well.

Knitting progress? You want knitting progress? Here you go; Firestarter, with its heel turned, and ready to gallop up the gusset:

Provisional cast-ons for Eleanora. I need to hop over to the couch and do some swatching, as my lower calf is considerably larger than what MimKnits had in mind when she designed the sock. And I don’t know if I should use the needle size specified and cast on a third more stitches, or if I should cast on the specified number of stitches because my gauge is so much looser, or use 000’s and 00’s with the larger number of stitches. And I need to figure that out *today*, because this is supposed to be my December sock of the month for Sock Knitters Anonymous, and I may want to cast on a quick pair of The International Sock of Doom as well, just to get December checked off quickly. Because I am already working on two fiddly pairs of socks and planning to introduce a third, and a fourth pair that I can polish off in three days might not be as insane as it sounds.

Yes, I am using my Christmas gift exchange yarn; Eleanora deMedici’s originals were knitted in red silk.

Another inch and a half on the Stripedy Socks at church yesterday.

Yes, I knit at my home ward. No, I didn’t pull the sock out of my bag at the kids’ ward. Yes, I am chicken, just a little; best to introduce my quirks to the Good Brother over time, and not all at once. Though he doesn’t seem the stuffy sort.

While we were browsing at Hobby Lobby on Thursday, LittleBit noticed some wall art, marked 50% off. Several large keys, which led her to remark that she likes old keys and wants a house where old keys will work. And then we saw some framed metal pieces, probably stamped sheet metal but looking a bit like wrought iron, which spelled out “Love” and “Faith” and other words. “Look, Mommy, love has the lock, and faith has the key!” [The O of “love” was formed by a lock, and the I in “faith” was formed by a key.] Smart kid.

Here’s a link to an essay by the late, lovely, Benazir Bhutto. The imbeciles who assassinate brave souls who stand for truth and righteousness think that by doing so, they will demoralize the rest of us. They do not understand the depth of resolve they stir up. Do you remember how tender we were with one another after 9-11, regardless of our political views? How we grieved for those whom we had lost, and how we pulled together? Yes, of course there is chaos at first, but then character resurfaces. The hotheads may appear to be winning in the MidEast in the short run, but anyone who reads the Book of Revelation will be comforted to know the ultimate outcome.

Joan of Arc died; France did not. Dr. King died; the push for true equality in this country continues. Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred in 1844; the mobbers thought that that would be the end of the church, and there are now roughly 13 million of us, worldwide.

As Longfellow wrote in the words to one of my favorite Christmas hymns, The wrong will fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Drive to the back of the line, please!

So I took the little neck-roller thingie to work yesterday. And when I pulled it out of my knitting bag to work on my neck, it squeaked at me. Horrible, nasty rusty-tricycle-wheel squeaking, way more annoying than the minor ache at the nape of my neck. I decided that I would rather be sore, than deaf! And I decided that this will definitely [deaf-initely?] be my white elephant gift for the High Priest Christmas party next year.

Another reason I am proud of my kid: she was originally supposed to have birthday lunch and a movie with HerSushi, but HerSushi’s mother rearranged his schedule for him. She was then supposed to have dinner and a movie with him, and HerBoy called and wanted to take her out for her birthday [he got home earlier than expected from visiting AilingGrandma].

When I went to bed Tuesday night, she was figuring out how to make it win/win/win. She called me at work yesterday to say that *all* her best friends were going to dinner and a movie with her last night. So nobody got excluded. I have raised her not to break a date with a girlfriend to go out with a guy, and not to break a date with a guyfriend to go out with a boyfriend [that’s my own standard of behavior]. I am once more in awe of her resourcefulness.

I didn’t set the alarm last night. It was lovely to wake up shortly after sunrise, feeling rather more rested than usual. I let LittleBit sleep in. She wandered out around 10:00am, and we threw on our clothes, hit the bank for cash since I still haven’t found my check blanks and the driver’s license bureau does not take plastic, and moseyed back to find what?

Forty bajillion people standing in line, sitting in all the available chairs, lining the walls, and waiting for their number to be called. The bureau had been closed three days for Christmas, and everybody in North Texas with a sudden urge to drive legally had gotten there before us this morning. I had Firestarter with me, but I sat so long that I knitted up to where the gusset begins, and I’d left the instructions at home.

I made the most sublime lunch for myself, a recipe I found on epicurious.com, for striped bass with chestnuts and pomegranate vinaigrette. I substituted spinach for the Swiss chard, and I used cooking wines in place of the drinkable stuff, and I played with the seasonings a little, and I have more than half of the vinaigrette leftover. I am thinking of ramen noodles for lunch tomorrow, with all this good stuff stirred into them.

I don’t often cook with wine-like substances, and I haven’t had a glass of wine since I was baptized in 1975. An old friend served his mission in Germany, and he told me that the selection of pure, unfermented grape juices was astounding. I wish that here in the US we had more options than the Meyer grape juices [which I like]. But sometimes I feel a little rebellious, and I snag a bottle of cooking sherry and throw it into my stew, or I’ll gurgle some white cooking wine into my leek and potato soup. I understand all the scientific reasons why it is perfectly acceptable to cook with wine, even if one chooses not to drink it. It doesn’t stop me from feeling vaguely guilty anyway.

I made two gi-normous individual apple crisps from one softball-sized Granny Smith apple and am now eating one of them with a splash of milk on top. Yes, what I *want* is a dollop of crème fraîche, but this is better for me. Oh, and I threw in some dried cranberries, too. Today I am the queen of antioxidants!

LittleBit came home from lunch with HerBoy, who was in our suburb, recruiting for the Marine Corps. Says she, “Ewww, it smells like fish in here.”

“Yeah, isn’t it great?”

“No, makes me want to hurl!”

Me, deliberately mishearing her, “Well you already know how to knit. I can teach you how to purl.”

She was neither fooled, nor amused.

I am about ready to feed the dishwasher and scrub the stove. [I had a small Vesuvius when all the liquids for the vinaigrette hit that hot skillet.] I parboiled some ramen, minus its seasoning packet, and it is now steeping in the leftover vinaigrette. And I am still in the mood to cook.

I really needed a day to stay home and putter. We ended up not getting her license, as we were an hour short on her driving time. We will get behind the wheel at dark-thirty tomorrow morning, put in that hour so I can honestly enter it on the affidavit for teaching time, and we were given a line pass so we can just walk in when the doors open at 7:30, wave the pass at all the cranky people standing in line, and get the affidavit notarized and her license finalized. Then she will walk home, and I will hop in the car and drive like a crazy woman to make it to work in BigD by 8:30, as I have no more PT until 12:01am on New Years Day.

She got to drive me around on some errands today: HobbyLobby [which BittyBit until only recently called Hollylolly, but now it’s Hob.Bee.Lob.Bee.], Garden Ridge, and a Wally World that I don’t normally get to, which had one of the red Boye crochet hooks I’m collecting in a size that I didn’t have. So now we are home, and the apartment is still wonderfully redolent of my lunch [Mlle. Philistine says it reeks of fish. What does she know?] and we will shortly be meeting one of her buddies at his house to return his key. She was in charge of the cats while he and his family were out of town for Christmas.

And I will leave her there to load up the iPod that HerBoy gave her for Christmas, and I will go play with the Sisters of the Wool. While we were bopping around town, we listened to the Hairspray soundtrack.

Good times!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Who’s My Favorite Seventeen-Year-Old?

Nobody, that I can think of. My baby turned 18 at 1:15 this morning. All five of my children are now adults. I am sitting at the computer at 5:32am, listening to the rain splash down outside the patio, with a steaming bowl of leftover soup at my left hand, a mug of milk at my right, and the last two slices of parmesan bread [sorry, LittleBit, you snooze, you lose!] in the toaster. It’s a distinctly weird day for me; it deserves a distinctly weird breakfast.

I unpacked a couple more boxes last night. Found my copies of Knitting Without Tears, Eat, Pray, Love, and miscellaneous church books. Also found a journal that I began in November 1994, around the time that my marriage to the children’s father began its long slow death spiral.

I’m re-reading it, a few pages at a time; I was haunting the public library in those days, consuming book after book in order not to feel my feelings, scrounging beds for the girls and fixing them up so they wouldn’t have to sleep on mattresses on the floor. I had just quit my part-time job that paid $8.00 with no benefits and was preparing to go back to school.

I was making two needlepoint pillows for a friend at church, in exchange for voice lessons for Firstborn and me. I was relentlessly busy from morning to night, so afraid that if I voiced my frustrations with the children’s father about his penchant for get-rich-quick schemes and his inability to keep a real job, he would stop loving me. Looking back after thirteen years, I can see that he already had, although both of us were carefully unaware of that fact.

I was probably the most prolifically productive depressed person in Texas in 1994 and 1995, and I would have given away every one of my considerable talents if it meant having my husband love me again.

Oh, what miracles great and small the Lord has worked in my life since those bleak days! I wish I could take the woman I was into a bear hug and let her know then what I know now. I wish I could show her how life would get better, both financially and emotionally, and that even though some of the worst days of her life were ahead, God would raise up friends to encourage and strengthen her. I would show her how unsuitable men would enter her life from time to time, and that she would compare what she knew to be true with what they offered, and tell them one after another, “No thank you.” And that she would learn to be peacefully single while never giving up the dream of successful remarriage in her lifetime.

Turning my attention to the well-washed day ahead of me, I have no idea what to do about a “cake” for LittleBit’s birthday. I need to get foofed up and head into work. She has something going, birthday-wise, with one of her friends later this morning. She is having dinner and a movie with another friend tonight. And of course there will be time with HerBoy. So I don’t expect to see much of her. Maybe I’ll pick up the makings of a cheesecake on my way home tonight, and she can have it for breakfast, or a late-night snack.

Having finished Brother Sushi’s tie, I *finally* stopped LittleBit in the hall last night to try the toe on her. “Yep, it feels like a sock,” is what she said. I am working on Firestarter again, and I am about to download Eleanora as my December sock of the month. I’ll wind the yarn and cast it on this weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, All Y'all!

I think this might have been the latest that I have ever slept in on Christmas morning. It makes up, at least in part, for having wakened at 3:00 yesterday! LittleBit snoozed until 10:00 or so; this may well be the last Christmas that she sleeps under my roof.

I did the last of the food shopping yesterday, most of it on the way to work, and the perishables on my way home. We closed up shop an hour early, which I was not at all expecting after having done the same on Friday. There is fudge to nosh on, made by LittleBit and her best friend the other night. I was sorely tempted to have a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast, but I made myself wait until tonight.

I haven’t written much this week, as I’ve been working on one project or another. I finished attaching the lining of Brother Sushi’s tie.

I am almost in love with the silk thread I used. It glided through the yarn and the lining fabric with no snags or snarls. Well worth the extra money that I paid, and now I understand why my sister uses silk thread for the hand-pieced and appliquéd parts of her quilts.

Yesterday after work and shopping and a quick bite to eat, I drove over to Fort Worth to help Secondborn with a project. BittyBit’s big gift this year is a wooden dollhouse that’s taller than she is, suitable for the hand-me-down Barbie [properly naked in the photo below] that she got earlier this year and the new ones that Santa brought for Christmas. They’d kept it out in the garage, covered over with blankets and tarps.

Secondborn wanted a cover for it, both to minimize the need to dust and to prevent BittyBit from playing with it instead of napping, once they’ve reassembled it in her room. We went fabric-shopping Saturday night but didn’t find anything suitable on the remnant table at JoAnn’s. After I went home, Secondborn found the perfect fabric on sale for a dollar a yard [!] at Wally World.

So last night after the Bitties were asleep, we cut out the panels, and I installed a 100” sleeping bag zipper into what will become the front panel. We hoped to get the side seams put in this afternoon, while BittyBit napped after dinner, but my own need for a nap put that off. So either Wednesday night or Thursday sometime [I’m taking the day off, more on that tomorrow or Thursday] we will do the vertical seams for the sides and the angled seams for the gables and the last seam at the roofline and cut off the excess zipper. We designed it with a separating zipper so that the pull will be up out of BittyBit’s reach until she’s old enough that she no longer needs a nap.

All bets are off as to how long before she figures out how to stand on something nearby and reach that zipper pull! The house is on casters, so they may have to rotate that side toward her bedroom wall at naptime. She’s one smart little cookie, but she doesn’t yet have the oomph to turn it back around.

Dinner was terrific, as usual. Firstborn made all the casseroles. Her hubby was originally going to fry the turkey, but his face and hands had a slight disagreement with a dirt bike and a wooden fence last night...

...so *she* was the one who had to put her hand up the turkey’s tush and pull out its neck and the other disgusting parts. I did my sweet potatoes, two pie pans’ worth so there would be no washing-up, and took over two pumpkin pies and a carton of Cool Whip, which we didn’t stay to eat. That’s OK, there’s a pie just for LittleBit and me waiting in our fridge.

Best memory? BittyBubba [who appears to be teething] gnawing on the finger of Fourthborn’s fiancé until we dipped his bink in some leftover gravy and popped it in. That baby boy is pure-dee Texan, all right, and the first baby *ever* to like Fiancé.

Best news? Middlest’s hubby is home safely from Iraq. I got to talk to both of them after I woke from my nap. Second-best news? I have won my sister over to the dark side. She loves the Jitterbug that I sent her for Christmas and is about ready to tackle her first pair of socks. One of her quilting friends also leads a sock-of-the-month group, so she’ll be in good hands. I capped off my diabolical plan by telling her to sign up on Ravelry.


Anne from Knitspot sent me her recipe for that amazing salad with oranges and olives, and I’ve saved a variation of it in my recipe box at Epicurious.com. I’m sure that if you ask her nicely, she’ll send you the recipe too, or maybe she’ll just post it on her blog. I’m going to get some blood oranges and kalamata olives and the fish I want for another recipe at Central Market when I go back to FW on Thursday. [I think I’m going to pass on the anchovies; I’ve gone 55 years without eating one, why start now?] And there is a recipe in Domestic Goddess for a “pie” which is Arborio rice, zucchini [ewww! I only like zucchini when it is hidden and indistinguishable in something] and garbanzo beans baked in phyllo, which I can’t wait to try.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Monday, December 24, 2007

What to do on Christmas Eve?

This is the marginally-useless gift that I brought home from the exchange at the High Priests Christmas Social last weekend. Seems to me that two more hands would be useful with that gizmo, unless I just take it to work and attack the nape of my neck with it every so often. Or maybe I could use it as a two-fisted honey dipper?

And this is the severely-edited cover of Knit Kimono, my shared-custody book. I cut off the bottom half of the picture, because the glare from my flash was blinding.

I don’t do New Year resolutions; I do set a few goals. One is to become a better photographer in 2008. Santa Baby, how about a copy of Digital Photography for Dummies in my stocking this year?

I saw this cute Tinkertoy tree on one of the blogs that I read.

How to tell that your best friend is really, really cool: Give her a bag with two balls of purple yarn in it and tell her it’s a kit; when she asks if you think she’s smart enough to make something and you say yes, but you’re the one who will be knitting, she then exclaims, “Socks? I get socks? You’re going to make me my own pair of socks? Oh wow!” and you can tell that she means it.

Turned the heel on the first Stripedy Sock while doing laundry at Firstborn’s yesterday afternoon. I’ve done a little on the leg and need to try it on so I can calculate how often to make the calf increases. I’m still thinking that this wants to be a knee sock when it grows up.

All but one of the Christmas gifts are finished. I will be taking it to work with me, along with the Stripedy Sock. I didn’t get LittleBit’s sock fitted yesterday, and I don’t want to continue working on it until I know that it’s not too big.

Half of the office will be out today, so I stand a chance of clearing my desk before quitting time. Ordinarily the boss would close down the office an hour early this afternoon, but she did that on Friday so that we could ostensibly finish our Christmas shopping. I have no idea what to expect today, except pizza for lunch, which reminds me that I need to get cash for my share, and if I were a betting person I would bet that the ATM was cleaned out over the weekend. It almost always is on Monday mornings.

I woke up two hours ahead of my alarm this morning, and as I’d already eaten my half of the goodies that our home teacher brought over on Saturday evening, I snagged the heel from that round of parmesan bread and washed it down with some milk. So now it’s a toss-up what to have for breakfast proper: a nice warm bowl of apple oatmeal, or heat up the tortilla soup that I bought on Saturday but didn’t have room for at the time? I need to stoke up on something; the deli in our building will be closed today, and it’s a long time until lunch...

I also need to pick up the mandarin oranges for my sweet potatoes tomorrow, and some Cool Whip and pumpkin pies; again, I’m not in the mood to bake pies. What *do* I want to fix? Striped sea bass with swiss chard and chestnuts, and something gooey from Domestic Goddess.

Which still doesn’t solve the problem of breakfast.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Running Amok at Central Market.

I had not bought groceries there in over a year, in part because it’s hard to get out of there without spending $60+, and also because it is Brother Abacus’ favorite grocery store. The first few months it would have been too painful to see him, and the next few it would have been altogether too tempting to run over him with my shopping cart.

But I have four new cookbooks [courtesy of gift cards, not fiscal insanity], and I wanted to try a recipe that calls for pomegranate molasses, which is in notoriously short supply at my neighborhood grocer’s. I came home with a small bottle, and a replacement bottle of cooking-grade maple syrup [I had half a bottle go bad during the move because it was in an unmarked box], a dozen chestnuts, a handful of green beans, some matchstick carrots, a loaf of parmesan bread [heavenly when toasted], a shallot nearly the size of a VW, two quarts of free-range chicken stock [which begs the question, do I sing Freebird while simmering the potatoes in the broth?], one Granny Smith apple, a couple of large cans of sweet potatoes that I probably could have gotten a few cents cheaper locally, and a small container of Piedras de Chocolate, which are almonds dipped in chocolate and then dusted in cocoa powder. *Heavenly*.

All of it for less than $35! I resisted the temptation to stock up on freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano; wanted to leave something in the store for a future trip.

I have never eaten roasted chestnuts, much less prepared them. I figured that a dozen of them would make a decent serving, possibly two or more, and Central Market had handouts posted with the display, so I now have two options for getting them out of their shells. I had no idea they were so pretty; they look like hazelnuts on steroids and and are as tanned as George Hamilton.

Spent half an hour or so browsing Epicurious.com for chestnut recipes and saved half a dozen or so. Went through my pantry to see what else I will need to make the first one.

Here is the cookbook that got me started, last week:

Because I really only know how to cook for a tribe, and I get tired of freezing stuff, if not of eating leftovers. And the three new books that have been crossed off my Amazon wish-list:

Susan Branch is worth it even for a non-cook; her books are hand-lettered and hand-illustrated. A dear friend sent me Heart of the Home for my 41st birthday, when life was falling down around my ears. I think this is the third of her books that I now own.

I had been coveting this Nigella Lawson in hard-cover [at $35!] for at least two years. I got it in paperback for less than $10.

The title makes me giggle uncontrollably.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Back to The Firestarter, and a Public Service Announcement

Actual knitting progress. I had a question about whether the twists and travelling stitches were to start on rows 3 and 5 of the pattern, or on 4 and 6. So I emailed Yarnissima and received a gracious and helpful response overnight. In the middle of holiday madness. I am *so* impressed!

Here’s where I was at 6:25am on Friday the 21st.

It’s all in knowing how to read the map, or in being willing to stop and ask for directions. Still, I continue to be amazed by the approachability of my fellow knitters. [FYI, it’s 4 and 6, and I frogged back and redid it and am now sailing away on it. I also checked out the YouTube she references in her pattern and now *get* the process of cabling two stitches without a needle, without doing the fancy workaround that I learned for Barcelona.]

A slow and I think carefully-timed parade of small families filed past the doors to my office yesterday. We share the floor with a private foundation, and I suspect that they were quietly providing Christmas for these families, with a side order of dignity. And it reminded me that had it not been for the church or the angel projects at the high schools, that could have been my family, more than once.

I don’t know why so many employers choose that time of year to let an employee go, if it’s a matter of cynicism, or the last straw, or plain bad timing. I do know that we could have had many “hard-candy Christmases” if it were not for the kindness of others.

I have really been enjoying these days leading up to Christmas. It was fun to pour on the knitting speed and whip up a pair of mitts for LittleBit’s friend in four and a half days. It was also fun to find the perfect gift for my Secret Santa project at work. We had our luncheon and gift exchange yesterday, because about half of the office will be out on Monday. She really liked her “big” gift, which was a poster from a charcoal sketch of the four main characters in The Wizard of Oz. It’s a lovely piece, and if I collected Wizard of Oz memorabilia, I would want one of my own. She said that she should have known it was me, from the note that I put with the red brocade shoe ornament I gave her last week.

I have also been enjoying the drive time with LittleBit. The classwork makes both of us want to scream from boredom, but the hours behind the wheel are never dull. I think she is going to be a good, safe, responsible driver. We had one moment last night where I gasped and reached for the dashboard to brace myself, but she saw potential trouble coming even before I did and extricated us as neatly and politely as Mario Andretti would have done, without bending any traffic laws.

And I have learned a few things while teaching her. For those of you who, like me, learned to drive shortly after the rocks cooled, we were taught to set our side mirrors so we could just see the door handles. There is a new way to do it [“new” being relative; I learned to drive almost 40 years ago] where you angle the mirrors outward about 15 degrees.

It breaks up the blind spot on either side into two much smaller ones, neither of which is large enough to hide a vehicle. And it eliminates glare from the headlights of vehicles that are overtaking you on one side or another. It takes some getting used to. I almost jumped out of my skin the first half-dozen times a vehicle suddenly appeared in my left side mirror, but the great thing is that the only thing I see in it now is stuff I couldn’t see before without turning my head. I’ve been doing this for about three weeks and have pretty much acclimated to the new settings.

How do you do it? To adjust the left mirror, plant your left cheek against the window and move the mirror outward until you see what you saw in the traditional setting: just the glimpse of the side of your car. To adjust the right mirror, place your head as close to the center of your car as you can get it and still reach the adjusting button [this was tricky for me, because of the placement of the open spaces in my steering wheel] and make a similar adjustment. When you return to your normal driving position, you will have it all covered: rear view shows you what’s behind you, and of course you can move it up or down to eliminate glare; left mirror now shows you exactly who or what is in your blind spot on that side; right mirror does the same on the other side.

This public service announcement brought to you by the letter I, as in “I want you all to stay alive”.

What’s on the agenda for today? Nail Dude in about an hour, and then maybe a haircut. Sometime today I am chaining myself to something immovable and reattaching the lining to Brother Sushi’s tie. I have his 2007 gifts all ready to deliver; I really think that I ought to give him last year’s present while I'm at it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

First Day of the Month Meme

I found this on The Keyboard Biologist’s blog. “…this meme that involves posting the first sentence the first post on their blog from each month.” [quoting her]

“It's the first day in a shiny new year.”
A day on which I began to fall out of love with Brother Abacus. A month in which I learned that I’d been walking around on a broken leg for two months. January was mostly about dealing with pain of one sort or another.

“With apologies to Jimmy Webb.”
A day on which I learned how I am [and am not] like unto a phoenix.

“[How many lawyers does it take] to replace one intermittently humble receptionist?”
A day on which I teach the overeducated how not to drop a call at switchboard, so I can take an all-day class with the rest of the support staff.

“Thursday was one of those comic-opera days, the kind where you know that major blessings must be right around the corner because of the minor annoyances that drop one by one like a broken strand of pearls.”
A day on which I tripped on the curb while entering the YMCA to rehab my broken leg.

“Late last summer I decided that I wanted a simple sofa table to slip behind the couch.”
A day on which I recounted the nine-month saga of creating said table.

“One of the most amazing and delightful surprises about knitting, this time around, is the greater sense of community and support than when I was knitting 20 years ago.”
A day on which I rambled about how solitary an activity knitting used to be for me, compared to what it’s like now.

“Here's where we were at 7:33am.”
A progress report on the pale yellow silk and cashmere scarf.

“On Monday I came home from eight hours of Bitty-wrangling, happily weary and starving to death.”
The week of “vacation” that I spent helping out at Secondborn’s after BittyBubba’s arrival.

“[Perry Mason, Perry Como, and Perry Menopause] -- If you recognize the first two, you may be dallying with the third or have already kicked him to the curb.”
A listing of various indignities relating to the middle-aged body. And the move that ate September.

“[In a Cracker Jack Box] And the musical question is, “Where did you get your driver’s license?”
Much grumbling, much blocking of FO’s.

“So there I was, carefully matching and pinning the last seam on LittleBit’s hoodie, after having completed all but the Kitchenering of the garter-stitch border on the front edge.”
In which LittleBit’s hoodie approaches and finally reaches completion.

“I am feeling extraordinarily tender-hearted today.”
The holidays are upon us.

We took the finished pink fingerless gloves to LittleBit’s friend. I forgot to photograph them before we did. [sigh...] But she loved them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No, I have not fallen in somewhere.

I have been knitting away on the second fingerless glove for LittleBit to give her friend at school and am up to the thumb. They will probably be finished when I get home tonight, and then we can drive over and give them to her.

LittleBit’s rehearsal for the musical ended earlier than expected, so we put in a solid hour behind the wheel last night. We found a short stretch of highway that was far from the mall madness, and we actually got Phineas up to fifth gear, woohoo!

She went out with HerBoy, and I stayed home with The Holiday in French with English subtitles. I think next time I’ll watch/listen in French with Spanish subtitles, just to thoroughly confuse the issue. I mostly had it on for the soundtrack.

I have been meaning to grab my Christmas CD’s for the daily commute, and I only actually got around to it on Monday. I love Kenny Rogers’ duet with Wynonna on Mary, Did You Know? I had forgotten how sniffly it makes me. And the next song is about a soldier who comes unto Christ, and while I quibble with its subtext of predestination, it is still quite moving to this soldier’s daughter. So it went back into the box on Monday night, and I forgot to grab something else for the drive yesterday.

I just looked for another one a moment ago, and it seems that the other Christmas CD’s are on the bottom layer, and I’m not in the mood to go spelunking. So I have decided to take along Brother Ray Charles this morning. The word for the day is joy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Everybody sitting down?

The Stripedy Sock went with me to the High Priest Christmas Social at church last night and had a marvelous time being coveted.

Tonight was the First Annual Christmas Party of the Sisters of the Wool, held at the home of one of the Sisters [sadly, blogless].

What did I knit tonight? Worked on a pair of fingerless gloves for LittleBit to take to school for a Secret Santa thing in choir on Monday. So I am knitting like the wind, Daniel-San. And making modifications here and there, because the ones I made for LittleBit this time last year were from Baby Cashmerino, and these are from the pink Smooshy that I won in Tan’s contest.

We had a sock yarn gift exchange at the party tonight. I was sneaky. Feints within feints within feints. But I came home with the yarn that I fell in love with, a lovely fat hank of superwash merino from indie dyer “Wooly Treasures”in a color called “Burning Embers” which was misread by the person who opened the bag and pulled it out, so it’s been renamed “Burning Bunnies”.

No real bunnies were harmed in the making of this yarn, or at the party. We *love* bunnies; they give us angora, and bunny-berries for the rosebushes.

I am so tired that I am loopy, but I have had a terrific day. Lots of happy knitting, a smidgen of driver education with LittleBit, time with some really great girlfriends, and the dance in Richardson. Danced somewhere between 6 to 10 dances in about 45 minutes, gave my hugs and said my goodbyes, and came home. Broke no bones. Broke no hearts, either. I hadn’t planned on going at all, but yesterday morning I just had a sort of prompting that I needed to be there, if only for awhile. Still no clue as to why. So left the party about an hour early and drove from several miles south of BigD to several miles north and east of BigD.

Pictures of my new yarn and the box it came in, last night’s gift that I scored at the High Priest Social, and what my Secret Santa at work gave me, to follow. Eventually.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hands at Ten and Two

Just popped in to say hi. Driver education continues apace. LittleBit drove Phineas to seminary this morning, and I drove him home. Now I will drive Lorelai back so that she may drive from the church to school.

I wish you could have seen us tooling around the parking lot at church last night. We first went over to Other High School, as it has a *huge* lot, but there were masses and masses of cars, so we came back to the place we feel most comfortable.

She is doing really well, only killed the car twice on the way to seminary this morning and did not get flustered about it. [I am remembering the time I killed the engine fourteen times in front of the babysitter’s house, while that father stood and watched silently. And, bless him, did not snicker.]

I remembered to take the old size 1 DP to work for cabling on Firestarter but did not get around to using it. Maybe today?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Gloria!" ~ glorious, indeed!

I think she is headed to the frog pond. The design is mouth-wateringly gorgeous. And its foundation is K1P1 ribbing, with about half of the stitches being twisted so that the dropped stitches will not compromise their neighbors. It has been decades since I worked K1P1 ribbing for any length of time – I became a convert to K2P2 about 20 years ago – and after only five rows I am about ready to shriek. The fabric is lush and luscious, with a wonderful hand, and I fear that I will not have enough yarn to knit this up.

However, I am not going to rip out the needles until I try a few other things first, with other cakes of the yarn.

Stalled for a couple of days, because the designer’s “drop the stitches, cross them and place them back onto the needles, and oh by the way, twist the stitches as you knit them” is just too frustrating for me on size 0’s. I tried using a toothpick as a cable needle at work, but while it was smooth enough for its intended purpose, those minuscule stitches kept snagging.

I discovered this fact about 15 minutes after I realized that Jeanie needed to go into time out. Thank goodness I had the Stripedy Socks warming up the bench!

Christmas Concert
Oh. Wow. First, the choir and orchestra and band did a magnificent job with some challenging music. Second, I do not like Rutter’s “Gloria”. I suppose it works on a technical level, but it is far too atonal for my taste. Much, much prefer Dvorak’s “Gloria”, which is melodic and soul-stirring. [Or Van Morrison’s “G-L-O-R-I-A”, which is neither, but is a different sort of classic!]

There was one moment in the finale to Brahms’ “First” where a horn player burbled, and those were a couple of notes sour enough to make my fillings hurt! I was sitting next to my friend L, whose son is in the orchestra and is not a horn player, and after the concert I said they ought to take that poor horn player and stuff him head-first into a spare tuba.

The bell choir from a neighboring church were guest performers for [unsurprisingly] “Carol of the Bells”. Lovely, just lovely.

LittleBit’s solo was in the second movement of the “Gloria”, when rising up out of the musical mud there is this all-too-brief, ethereal soprano descant. Maternal prejudice aside, those few measures were what saved the piece for me.

She asked me later which piece I liked best. And much as I loved that Brahms finale, and her solo, my favorite was “O Come, O Come Immanuel”. They brought in the bell choir again, and everyone played with such reverence and love and awe. The choir director is a devout Christian as well as a skilled musician, so she knew how to direct them. And I sat there, moved to tears, which are welling up again as I type this.

I asked L, as we were gathering our things and our children, if she thought any of the kids in the choir knew what they were singing about, and she said, “A few, maybe, but not many.”

That song, for me, ties together the Old Testament longing for the Messiah, with the New Testament witness that He has come and will come again, and the New World witness of the Book of Mormon [which is another testament of and for Christ], and the modern revelations we have received since Joseph Smith came along to shake up the status quo. It is the most Hebraic of the Christmas carols that I know, and it speaks to the same part of my soul that loves bagpipes and Appalachian music.

My shared copy of Knit Kimono arrived in the mail yesterday. Tinks bought it, and we have shared custody. [ have full physical custody, and she has visitation rights.] And I also picked up a cookbook for one-serving meals at Half-Price Books after buying ribbon for packages at the shop next door. I had a small balance remaining on the gift card I got from one of the attorneys last Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I need input, if you please.

In my queue of projects is a jacket/short coat called “Fur Sure” that Heather Lodinsky designed for Takhi Baby. I would need 22 or 23 skeins of it, which offends my frugal soul, as it retails for $15-16 per skein. We are talking Serious Money here, $330 to $356, just for the yarn. I also have that vintage opossum fur collar that I scored on eBay last spring, which is probably older than I am, so I feel no guilt whatsoever in having bought it. The jacket is designed for a faux-fur collar, and while it is pictured in red yarn with black fur in the book, and that is what first drew me to the design, I am considering a medium to darkish teal to go with the coppery collar.

Lambs Pride Bulky, doubled, would give me approximately the right grist. Have any of you knit with KnitPicks Suri Dream? I need a super-bulky yarn, and I need for it not to cost the equivalent or greater of my car payment! I think the Suri Dream might knit up too gauzy for what I want. This has to be a substantial fabric in order to support the weight of the collar.

Please, oh please, do not tell me to work several strands of Cascade 220 as one. The color range is admittedly luscious; the yarn and I have a long-standing disagreement, and two-against-one or three-against-one would be no fun whatsoever, when that “one” is me. Though I must admit that their Chunky Tweed yarn is intriguing, and have any of you tried their Chunky Baby Alpaca?

I want a new jacket. I want to spend $100 or less on the yarn to make it. [Stop laughing.]

Hrmm, I wonder if I have enough of the bulky Shetland and wool that I bought from Brother Stilts that I could combine it into a makeshift marled yarn and knit myself a tweed jacket? I need between 1320 and 1380 yds [@ 17.14 yds/oz for the Baby], because I think I can get away with the next-to-largest size on this one and still have plenty of ease and lose none of the panache.

Fun and games with Secret Santa:
Yesterday I gave my designee/victim a red brocade shoe ornament from Pier One, with this note rolled up inside it:

Dear Dorothy,

I buried the other shoe. Have a nice walk back to Kansas.


Last week I put a bag of bubble gum in her mail cubby. Her response yesterday?

Bad Toto - Bad dog!!!! The Ruby Red Slipper is gorgeous - thank you Secret Santa!

Last week my Secret Santa gave me a bag of Lindor Dark Chocolate Truffles. I think he/she was in trial or depositions yesterday, because no loot was forthcoming.

Two words: blond fudge.
One of our legal secretaries works part-time for a caterer. She brought leftovers to the office yesterday ~ so it was a day not *entirely* without chocolate ~ and was kind enough to bring the fudge by my desk before taking it back for the thundering herd [a/k/a my coworkers] to enjoy. This particular batch had slivered almonds and dried cranberries in it.

I think I could probably eat liver and onions if you threw in enough dried cranberries. [That is a rhetorical statement; if you show up on my doorstep with a skillet full of liver and onions, I will throw a bagful of dried cranberries at you. Probably still in the bag. Preferably one of those ginormous bags from Costco.]

I never got around to baking the oatmeal-craisin cookies that I was craving last Saturday. [Too busy having fun with my knitting.] I don’t see any cookies getting baked this week, either, as my social life looks more like LittleBit’s normal week. Last night was the only night that I thought I would be home. As it turned out, LittleBit drove us to FW to return the Renaissance costume, and we hugged the babies and came home.

TUESDAY: No knit night for me, boohoo! because I will be at the Christmas concert. LittleBit has another solo, this one in the second movement of the John Rutter Gloria, for you musical types. Oh, that I could be in two places at once.
WEDNESDAY: She doesn’t have to work, so I suspect we will be tooling around the back roads to fulfill her drive-time requirements.
THURSDAY: I have a brief meeting at church. I will take my knitting.
FRIDAY: The high priests’ social with their wives, to which all the single sisters [for whom these brethren have stewardship] are invited. I went last year and had a blast, so much fun in fact that I’ve put off Brother Sushi and our monthly dinner.
SATURDAY: First Annual Christmas Party with the Sisters of the Wool.
SUNDAY: Church as usual and a “Messiah” sing that evening.

Late yesterday morning, my messed-up sleep schedule manifested itself in a Keystone Kops attempt to transfer someone to voicemail. The attorney in question was in trial. Attempt #1 sent the caller to another attorney’s voicemail. She called back, and I apologized profusely. Then I almost sent her to the correct attorney’s *secretary’s* voicemail but pulled the transfer back just in time. I told her it was definitely Monday at my desk and that I was sorry she was on the receiving end of it; thankfully, she saw the humor and laughed it off. Third time was the charm.

I am attempting something like unto the Harlot’s Lene-imposed schedule, for my knitting. I put in half a round on the Stripedy Socks while the tub filled this morning. I will knit a row and a half on Jeanie during seminary, and then I will turn my attention to Firestarter. I hope to complete at least one pattern repeat on it today, and then I can go back to Jeanie.

I put all three patterns onto my pink Lucite clipboard and have it standing up in my knitting bag. I don’t know if the pattern(s) for Jeanie will ever become intuitive. At this point it’s knit eight stitches, flip to the next graph, knit 20 stitches, flip back, knit another eight stitches, flip to the third graph, etc.

You know that little voice that so many of us have, the one that says “You’re not [this] enough” or “You’re too [this]”? I confess to not hearing that voice very much. I don’t know if it’s a benefit of having raised five kids and having had to tune out a lot of noise, or if my Inner Critic is suffering a long-term case of laryngitis. What *I* hear is a Prussian stage-whisper, “K1tbl, p1, k1, p1tbl, d@mmit! Which page is the next chart on?”

Time to put on my shoes and assume the [passenger] position.

Monday, December 10, 2007

*Gesu Bambino* and Startitis

OK, so I finished off the Barcelona socks yesterday [edited to add that that would be Saturday].

And then I cast on Firestarter in this yarn which Micki painted at Heritage Arts back in August and decided that she didn’t like, because it was too yellow.

So she *gave* it to me at Knit Night, rendering me [only momentarily] speechless.

I hate, loathe, and despise short row toes. So I did a Wendy toe-up ~ the one where you drop the slip stitch after the keeper stitches are established ~ and am ready to place markers for the cables that march up the sides of the foot.

And I found some crochet cotton for a provisional cast-on, so I am picking up stitches for Jeanie which I am trying in my Berroco Denim Silk. As it’s a 137-stitch cast-on, I am dropping in markers every ten stitches to minimize the counting. I may be OCD, but I have standards, people!

Which leaves us with the musical question, what to knit on at church? Jeanie and Firestarter both have charts, neither of which I have completely printed off. The Stripedy Sock needs to be frogged back half a dozen rows because I didn’t pick up all the stitches when I accidentally pulled the needles out, two weeks ago. I haven’t frogged the socks that the moths attacked, though they’re perfectly clean. But I think my friends at church might wig out [now there’s a 70’s expression for you!] if I took my needles and unpicked the toe and started knitting a scarf. So I think I’ll take the yarn that was leftover from making them and use it to make a start on a mitered square scarf.

Which is exactly what I did. I knit and ripped, played and ripped, fiddled and ripped, and now I think I’m good to go. I’m working on the third repeat. It’s not ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille.

I came home and finished picking up the 137 stitches for Jeanie, and cooked up a box of spinach with a block of ramen noodles for lunch. And then LittleBit called for me to come get her.

I made a second pot of ramen for her; she thinks spinach is yucky, which is fine because then I don’t have to share mine. She is now taking a nap, and I've listened to an archived podcast of Brenda Dayne’s and eaten my own ramen and dozed off bolt upright. So I think it would be a good idea for me to gather up the knitting stuff that I flung all over my bed while looking for the right needles for Jeanie, heat up my deer-corn bag for the back of my neck, check to see whether the thermostat is set for heat or A/C, and plug myself into the C-PAP for a short winter’s nap.

I don’t know what is going on across the fence at my old apartments, but it sounds like a whole lot of metal being banged around. Dueling backhoes? Dumpster volleyball? It can’t be anything too serious, as I don’t hear any F-bombs flying through the air.

I had hoped to whip up BittyBubba’s Christmas stocking after church today, but I just don’t have the oomph to dig through boxes until I find the fabric and batting and pattern. It’s all cut out, from when I made stockings for 1BDH and 2BDH and BittyBit. I know I cut them out for Lark and Willow, but I don’t remember if I ever stitched them up. And I couldn’t tell you if I made one for Middlest’s hubby.

Which reminds me that I need to send out an email to the tribe about this year’s gift exchange.

[Later still.]
I ended up with one of those five-hour naps that mean I will be up most of the night, then back down for a shorter nap just before the alarm goes off, so that I don’t fall asleep with my nose in my keyboard later today. For lo! And behold! It is now Monday.

Note to suburbancorrespondent: I googled and searched YouTube, but I wasn’t able to find a video of *Garth* singing “Much too Young”, though I did find several other folks covering the tune. It’s on his first CD [I typed “album” then went back and corrected myself]. Which a lot of critics think is his best, but their opinion and $4 will get you a hot cinnamon apple cider or whatever they’re calling it this year at the coffee place.

I have frogged The Stripedy Sock back to just before where the heel increases begin. I have knit two rounds on Firestarter. And I am so glad that I had made notes on Ravelry about how many rounds I had knitted above the toe increases before starting the heel increases. I knit 15 stitches on Jeanie before realizing that I really needed to eat that lunch that I was cooking, because it had been two hours since church ended, and my stomach was grumbling that my throat had been cut, and I was getting woozy.

I sent off the email to my girls about the gift exchange, and Middlest tactfully informed me that no, I had not made a stocking for her beloved. And sadly informed me that hers has apparently gone missing in one move or another. So, two more stockings on my honey-do list, but possibly postponed until next year.

I think with the admission that I now have **four** projects on the needles, we have thoroughly confirmed a case of Startitis. So we will move on to the topic of Gesu Bambino.

Saturday night was the Madrigal Dinner and Concert at the high school, a fundraiser for the choir program, which resembles a Hummer in terms of its ability to consume cash, but probably gives better mileage. LittleBit is not part of the Madrigal Singers. [There are thirteen choirs at her school. She is in the varsity choir and wanted to be in the show choir but didn’t make it, which in retrospect is probably a blessing but you couldn’t have convinced either of us at the time.]

But because she is a senior, she was informed that she would be participating. She and two other songbirds got to sing Gesu Bambino, which was not in my family’s musical tradition and which I first heard when Pavarotti recorded it umpteen years ago. And they were lovely, all dressed in full Renaissance garb and singing their hearts out.

LittleBit got to sing the part where the notes go on and on and onnnn [like Kenny Chesney’s love, only not]. Maternal prejudice aside, she was marvelous! I had goose-bumps all over, and tears in my eyes, and I kept sneaking peeks at HerBoy to see what he thought, but I don’t know him well enough yet to read him.

I am so glad that I didn’t pinch her head off after picking her up at the tattoo parlor the other night.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Progress, of a Sort, and a Pair of FO's

I wrote yesterday about the new Brad Paisley song and how his voice makes me feel foodish. [Somewhat better than feeling foolish.] Is it un peu triste that when I think of love or romance, my brain automatically substitutes “food”? Because food sure is easier to find in my world. And it’s one of the few sensual or perhaps more accurately stated, sensory pleasures that I get to enjoy as a single, active Latter-Day Saint woman.

And I talked about curling up on the couch with a good book; it’s a definite possibility, as my second November Mystery Sock is nearly done. Three more rounds [as I draft this post] and then I start decreasing for the toes!

Only a knitter would think of pairing toe increases and an exclamation point.

Maybe that book I should curl up with is Geneen Roth’s “When Food is Love”. It’s on my bookshelf somewhere, in my self-help section. [Does anybody besides me remember when Barnes and Noble had science fiction on one side of the shelves and self-help on the reverse? Maybe yours didn’t, but one of mine did. Am I the only one who thinks that’s funny? Or who bought books on both sides of the shelves, sometimes on the same shopping trip?]

Maybe this song about the “letter to my younger self” gets to me because I have a seventeen-year-old daughter [but only for another three weeks]. And I know that a lot of the things we are doing, we may be doing together for the last time. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that *I* am doing them for the last time, and she is or will be doing them for the first time on her own.

I’m sure it’s crazy-making for her when I keep thinking of things I need to tell her or teach her before she grows up and moves out. Like it all has to be done by the day after tomorrow. She’s a good kid, and we generally communicate well, so it’s not like we’ll never talk again once she’s in a home of her own.

On the drive home from the tattoo parlor yesterday morning, she and I discussed appropriate consequences. And she came up with a good one, which leaves Lorelai’s [my car] and Phineas’ [my other car that she will drive, and has christened] fenders intact, as well as her dignity and mine as humans, and doesn’t grieve the Spirit. Forgive me for not sharing it here; some of the girls who lived through my fender-ripping, over-reacting years might think that she’s getting off easy. And while they might be right, my perspective is that she’s a different kid than they were, and I’m a different and hopefully better mom than they had.

Speaking of better, I had a better night’s sleep, last night, than the one before. I woke up later than my weekday 4:00am but about when I wake naturally on a Saturday morning. Which would be crazy-early for most of you but is deliciously late for me. And I have just enjoyed a mug of generic vegetable juice, and all the mitochondria are singing like Sweet Adelines. Are you surprised that I still remember what mitochondria are, so many decades after high school biology class? Me, too, a little. Or that my mitochondria can sing? Hey, if your mitochondria want to go plant flowers or iron the sheets, fine by me, but *mine* like to sing.

Here is a link to an article on taking better photographs. Well, at least I have the habit of getting up early, down cold. Now I just need to start thinking like a photographer.

Here are the finished Barcelona a/k/a November Mystery Socks. I kinneared them:

LittleBit is still at rehearsal for tonight’s Madrigal Dinner, so I’ll have to get her to do the honors some other time. But for now:

A clearer shot of the leg:

And one of the heel:

Lovely socks, decadently soft on my feet, such joy to knit.

What’s up next? Firestarter Socks in the turquoise and yellow yarn that Micki gave me, which I thought I was going to use for my Comet Socks. Turns out that they wanted to be LittleBit’s birthday socks, and she likes that reverse stockinette gusset on Firestarter as much as I do.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What I was doing at the tattoo parlor. At 11:45. On a school night.

Picking up my kid. Who was there with HerBoy, the one getting a tattoo last night.

[I have no personal aversion to tattoos. I had even been toying with the idea of getting a discreet one for my 60th birthday, until President Hinckley spoke out against them a few years back. So, no tattoo for Ms. Ravelled.]

I *do* have an aversion to my kid coming home much too late, two nights in a row, when it’s a school night.

How did I know they were at the tattoo parlor, you ask? Well, I texted a guilt-trip to LittleBit around 10:15 and got no response. So I called her about 10:30 and left a more-strongly-worded voicemail. Again, no response.

And that’s when God put His oar into the water, reminding me that I had HerBoy’s cell phone number from the day that LittleBit had her endoscopy. So I called him and asked, “Where *are* the two of you?”

“Still at the tattoo parlor, ma’am. They’re shading my design.”

“Where is this tattoo parlor?”

“Keller, ma’am.” Keller is another suburb of Fort Worth, about 18 miles from where we live.

“What’s the address, please?” at which point he handed the phone to LittleBit, who apologized profusely; her phone was in her purse, which was in a chair on the other side of where HerBoy was sitting. She was holding his hand and hadn’t heard the phone buzzing.

She got me directions, and I told her I would see her shortly, and we would be talking, missy. [Which is where I insert a *Yay for Mapquest!*] There was a general parting-of-the-waves amidst the riffraff hanging about the door of the tattoo parlor. LittleBit came out to greet me, and I told her I wanted to talk with TheBoy before we left.

I had been praying all the way there, that I would say the right thing, and *not* say the wrong thing, and that above all I would not behave like an @$$. Because I was in serious Mama Bear mode. [Which no doubt accounted for the parting of the colorful (pun intended) types. Would you want to get between this mama and her cub? Didn’t think so.]

I told him, “Taking my daughter out to dinner? That’s a date. Taking her to the tattoo parlor to watch you get a tattoo? That is not a date.” I also told him that I thought she ought to be home by 9:00 or 9:30 on a school night, because we get up so early. And I told him that I realized that both of them were still getting practice making adult decisions. And that this had not been a good one.

I was reasonably calm and remarkably polite. I think I still scared him a little, which is not entirely a bad thing.

And then he asked if I wanted to see his tattoo.

Oh, why not?

It’s gorgeous, and I told him so. One of the guys who was standing around watching [and listening] said I could go next. Which is when I explained that I wouldn’t, for religious reasons, but that I might get a Harley someday, instead. Thus establishing myself as a cranky Mama Bear with a certain amount of elan.

I was awake enough from the adrenalin to get us home safely, and I had a mug of hot milk before going to bed.

Today is one of those days when I understand why some species eat their young. I was so tired that my voice dropped half an octave or more, for the greater part of the day. I told one of my coworkers that I made Lauren Bacall sound like Gidget.

My eyelids are as baggy as my ankles, or perhaps I should state it the other way around. Because I got to bed so late, my circadian rhythm is off, and I didn’t sleep well. So all the little things that hurt when I’m tired, hurt: my shoulders and traps and neck and that prime bit of real estate tucked just under each shoulder blade. I think I have enough trigger points to spark a revolution. And I’m flat too tired to try. Quite possibly too tired to cry, but it might be a good idea.

Thankfully, nothing is wrong with me that a few nights’ sleep won’t cure, and some good plain food, and plenty of water. Though I would love it if I had the time [bigger problem] or money [lesser problem] to go see my shiatsu practitioner. I would feel ever so much better if I spent an hour or three on the table having each trigger point humbled into silence.

There is just something wonderful about having oneself disassembled like a Transformer and put back together, minus the pain. The problem is that I usually wait until I am [this] far short of zombification before I pick up the phone and call. At which point the cure is almost more painful than the situation which calls for it.

Felt better after some lunch, only part of which was healthy. Felt considerably better after what happened next, an encounter with a courier that put a nice Texas smile on my face. I don’t know if he really, in his heart of hearts, thought that I was pretty, or if his mama raised him to be nice to little old ladies [and today I have felt rather closer to little old lady than to red hot mama], but he gave me a sweet old fashioned Southern greeting, and he smiled, and we chatted briefly while I signed the delivery slip, and suddenly I no longer felt half-past dead.

I love living in the South. And I hope that Santa puts a nice surprise in that man’s Christmas stocking this year.

You know, there are days when I look in the mirror, and the eyes are happy, and gravity seems momentarily abated, and all my clothing is clean and creatively put together [but not weird, or *too* weird] and I think, “not bad for a mother of five and a grandmother of three”. And there are other days when I think, “stick a fork in me, I’m done”.

Most of today I’ve had the feeling that the fork was located midway between my shoulder blades. And that I kept whacking it on the back of my chair, which didn’t help.

Yesterday morning I was thinking about how much I love Brad Paisley’s new song, “Letter to Me”. OK, I like a lot of his songs, so I was predisposed to liking it, but this one is just great! His voice is quiet and intimate like Randy Travis’s, and they both make me think of curling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of cocoa and a plate of cinnamon toast.

The song that has been running through my head all day is Garth’s “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)”. Good song; couldn’t find a link for it.

First Barcelona/November Mystery Sock is done. Second is getting close. Photos tomorrow? I’m going to sit on the couch with my knitting and a podcast or three until I cannot keep my eyes open One. Moment. Longer.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Don't make me turn this car around!"

LittleBit was sitting next to me with her bowl of cereal, helping me listen to Knit-A-Yarn’s interview with The Harlot. We both laughed at her comments on parenting, particularly on how it’s great to hear something you’ve said coming out of the mouth of your child. LittleBit cracked, “Yup, pretty soon you’ll get to hear me saying, Don’t make me turn this car around.

Because it’s already happened with Firstborn. [Just ask Willow and Lark.] Firstborn called me a couple of years ago, laughing and almost sobbing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry, how did you ever not just kill me? And oh, by the way, you’ll think this is funny, but I do not. I’m turning into you. Your words came out of my mouth when I was talking to the girls the other day.”

Oscar Wilde was wrong; *momming* well is the best revenge.

In case you have one of those fancy-schmancy double-decker microwave/oven combinations, this may be news you can use. Please check it out.

A soupçon of knitting content:
Did you ever stop to think that we [“we” = knitters] make magic? Not the kind with smoke and mirrors, but the kind with sticks and string, little loops that make a fluid and flexible fabric. Socks. Sweaters. Caps. Mittens and gloves. Skirts. Neckties and scarves and shawls.

And the muggles are just as amazed by our sleight of hand as we are by that of The Amazing Kreskin or David Copperfield, or whoever the up-and-coming young magicians are these days.

Did you ever wonder if Mother Eve was a knitter? We don’t know how long she and Adam lived in the Garden before the Fall. It was a great day when one of the daughters or sons of Adam looked at a sheep and thought, “You know, if I cut off its hair, it will grow back, just like mine does. And if I wash it, it won’t stink. And I bet it would be more efficient to cut off its hair and leave it alive, than to kill it and tan it and wear only leather, which is warm enough in the winter but not so great in the middle of summer.

“And those tall plants with the blue flowers? I wonder if I soak them until the outer covering rots, if I could twist those long fibers together and make something that would be good to wear when it’s too hot for wool. And how do I get the camels and the llamas to stop spitting long enough for me to comb them?”

If the biblical account is accurate, Adam lived to be just under a thousand years old. We don’t know if Eve predeceased him or if she was left a widow for a century or two. But that certainly gives a whole new perspective on the concept of SABLE – Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

And can you imagine the yarn stash that Sister Methuselah might have had? Of course, since the patriarchs were nomadic at that time, her stash – and Mother Eve’s – would most likely have still been on the hoof.

One of the legal secretaries sent out this email today: “I am leaving in about 10 min to go to the courthouse if anybody needs anything.”

I wrote back, “Bring me back a good looking cop, age-appropriate, who doesn't smoke or drink.”

Her response? “I will definitely be looking!”

She popped her head in shortly thereafter to say that she’d back soon, with the cop.

My friends take good care of me, yes they do. I try to do the same.

When she returned to the office, she said that she’d found one, but he had to go take care of an emergency.

Story of my life.

When I took my knitting back to the break room this morning, there was Neiman Marcus’s Christmas catalogue. With the exception of Item 53, a heart-shaped Faberge bowl of rose quartz trimmed with gold and a few discreet rubies, nothing much spoke to me. I do not understand the appeal of Burberry plaid. Yes, I like and wear most of those colors, and at least one of my coworkers is addicted to the purses, but my reaction is more or less, “meh!” Most of the items seem to be designed not for practicality [*dang* that pragmatic upbringing] or beauty, but merely to demonstrate one’s credit limit.

When I took my knitting back there again at lunch, somebody had added a recent issue of InStyle to the table. And I spent the better part of lunch hour alternating spoonfuls of soup with eyefuls of stuff that the nabobs want me to buy. Or at least to covet.

Of the actresses and models who were featured prominently, the only ones I could see myself having a civil, intelligent conversation with were Reese Witherspoon, Sharon Stone [maybe], and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I do not suggest that the rest of them lack intelligence, but that the behavior of most of them would tempt me to shriek, “What in the world were you thinking when you _____(fill in the blank)____?”

And then the ghost of Dale Carnegie would have to beat me about the head and shoulders with his book; Miss Manners would make me stand in the corner; and my own dear mother would remind me what Thumper’s mother told him. This is why I’m not on the A-list. This is why you will never see my face on the society page. Though if some of my kids get their way, you might see me on “What Not to Wear” :)

This diversion did serve a useful purpose, however; I am far enough along on the November Mystery Socks...

...that I can feel the first faint spasms of finish-itis. I was kept sufficiently distracted by a gentle but persistent simmer of irritation at celebrity cluelessness and fashion faux pas that I was able to concentrate on the things they pay me to do, instead of wishing the day away until quitting time.

So thank you, I guess, you bronzed and blonded women of the silver screen.

Going with the Flo [Ms. Knitingale, that is]:
Today she was even more eye-wipingly hilarious than usual. Take that trip down the hall, first, and finish your mug of milk. My response? In Texas, we don’t *hang* the mistletoe. We dispatch it by lethal injection.

And here is LittleBit in the driver’s seat, after seminary but before driving us to get...

...hot chocolate...

...and thence to the parking lot across from school, where I resumed custody of the steering wheel.

Good times.

Oh, and Knitty is up. I have already added Jeanie to my queue on Ravelry. Stop laughing, Bookgrump, I can hear you from here!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Three Mondays

This is a post that I began drafting two weeks ago Monday and left in the computer at work at the end of the day.

And then I was sick for the rest of that work week. Last Monday I was busy all day, opening approximately three tons of mail and pulling a bushel of staples from it, and subsequently entering minor settlements and lawsuits. Tuesday I caught up the scanning and therefore had a little time to write. Not much, but a little.

They were putting up the Christmas decorations in our building week before last. I am of at least two minds about this. On the one hand, I love to see our office building all tarted up for the holidays. On the other hand, it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet!

Traditionally, what has happened is that when we return to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving, the Decoration Fairies have worked their magic. Quitting time on Wednesday night? No decorations. Sickeningly early on Monday morning? Garlands and ribbon cockades on the railings for each floor, and enormous glass globes on the tree, which occupies the center of the atrium on the parking level and peeks about 6 feet above the top of the first floor railing. This is one serious tree we are talking about! And over the next week or so after that, pots of poinsettias appear magically at the doorways to each office suite and between the elevators.

Sitting here at my desk watching the Decoration Fairies emulate worker bees was just a little bubble-bursting. They are supposed to be like Santa’s helpers or the shoemaker’s elves, working their magic while we are sleeping or otherwise absent. [Although it may be argued that on that particular Monday, I was physically present but effectively absent.]

My critic’s eye suggests that whoever did the decorating this year skimped just a skosh on the garland. It doesn’t swoop down as much as I remember in past years. I’m thinking that they pulled one or more sections out of the big loop that circumnavigates the railing.

This dude is new this year. Maybe they bought him with what they saved by ratcheting up the garland around the railings? [Nitpicky? Perhaps. OCD with a side order of BahHumbug? Most definitely! My brain is registering “shallow loops, must fix”, and of course I have absolutely no authority to do so.]

Impertinent question of the week: if “hope is the thing with feathers”, does that mean that if one accumulates sufficient hope one may pluck it and get a boa worthy of Mae West? Does it also imply that hope’s given name is Alouette?

[Je te plumerai…]

OK, that was a couple of weeks ago, and last Monday. This was my day yesterday:

Not much mail; it’s my week to make the early mail run. Traffic was light, and the weather was decent. Out in front of the PO, where they were remodeling a couple of months ago, there are still no parking meters, but the dozen or so steps are now accessible. In the rear, where I prefer to park because there are only three or four steps to navigate, they’re tearing up the sidewalk and the city has hooded the parking meters.

LittleBit commented as we were driving on Sunday, that it’s a bit of a culture shock for her to realize how many of the guys she goes to school with, don’t have a suit and tie. One of her friends was complaining that he had to go out and buy a dress shirt and a tie for some activity. And she was amazed that he didn’t already have them. She has grown up with churchboys who, from the time they are twelve, wear a suit when they bless or pass the Sacrament on Sundays. Even the boys from families who can’t afford a suit, have a pair of dark pants, and a white shirt, and a tie.

Funny, isn’t it, the things that we *don’t* notice because they’re so much a part of our lives and our culture.

Jerry fixed that post I mentioned. Go-go-go! I’ll wait. While you are at it, read a little farther down to where he got tagged by these guys. Last Friday he was #99; this week he is #34. And we can all say that we knew him when. [No applause please, just throw sock yarn!]

I was pleased to see that Blue Garter made the list, as well.

If you’re maybe wondering how to decorate your home for Christmas, check out this bow at Daisy Cottage. I love her soundtrack. It’s the sort of music that I grew up listening to. [Dangling participles and all.]

And now it is Tuesday.

I am really looking forward to this day! Lunch with Lark and LibraryGrandma and Firstborn, and LittleBit’s learner’s permit, and another quick errand. [And on to Clue 4 on the November Mystery Socks. I am turning the first heel, in between paragraphs.]

LittleBit and Fourthborn had fun with her hair last night:

Bright red stripedy stuff! Like she says, “It’s like I caught my hair on fire.”

Almost makes me wish I were 17 again, although Mom, terrific as she was, would never have gone for musical hair colors like the girls and I do or have done. I think there should be an hair color option on the driver’s license for “subject to change without notice”. Same thing on the Churchboy Dating Service. Do these bureaucrats have no imagination?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mr. Twisted and the Disco Ball

Jerry [Mr. Twisted, whose December post has gone missing on Blogger, so I'm not linking to it], that disco ball that you showed? There was one just like it at the place we visited on Saturday. I kept expecting John Travolta to boogie on down through the line of folks waiting to pay for their gold-plated Christmas trees.

You asked if I like the traditional Nativity sets. I do. I painted a two- or three-piece set years and years ago in Relief Society, when we did more crafting at what we then called Homemaking Meeting. This is when cold-fired pottery[?] was all the rage. I think that’s what we called it, when you took white [plaster?] pieces and painted them without setting the color in a kiln.

Anyhoo, mine was painted to resemble terra cotta, and it got lost or left behind in one of our many moves. When my mother passed and I came into a modest sum but still more money than I had ever seen in one place in my entire life, I bought the set that I have. I thought at first that they were carved wood, but they’re resin, and they’re showing their age a little. One of the camels is missing an ear. Mary has a small hole in her head, “temporarily” patched with cellophane tape for about seven years now.

I’m not the only person in my stake who has this set, because I’ve seen two of them displayed at the yearly Nativity thing, and one or both of them has a *sheep* as part of their set. I don’t know why my set never had one; maybe they were all sold out when I sprang for mine, which came in three parts, with each piece marked “one of three” or “one of five”, etc.

Here’s a closeup of Ms. Angel, with her neo-Victorian bun and star-on-a-wire. Mary and the Baby have pretty much the same goofy grin; Joseph and the wise men all have beards, the camels would be good poker players, and the donkey looks a little worried to me.

It was so great to sit with my best friend in her ward yesterday and to have her clear, true soprano in my right ear, and LittleBit’s in my left, and BestFriend’sBaby’s lovely alto on her left. It was good to see people that I don’t see much anymore, and to sing the Christmas hymns. And it was a little funny to see the looks on our friends’ faces as they walked into the building and we walked *out*.

Because the Nativity was still going on in our building, and because we have three congregations that ordinarily would meet there, yesterday *five* wards met in the old building for Sacrament Meeting only. There is an expression in parts of the West where the church has been long-established, “Busier than a four-ward chapel.” That is what you get when you have four congregations sharing the building for a regular slate of meetings. We got just the smallest taste of that yesterday.

LittleBit ended up working doubles yesterday. Her regular shift, and then filling in for a friend who was sick. It made for a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, as I dropped her off at work, came by our place to pick up the laundry, drove down to Firstborn’s, started a load, put it in the dryer just after LittleBit called me to come pick her up, ran by the stake center so she could take a peek at the Nativity and see the pictures she had modeled for. [We didn’t find them]. And then back to Firstborn’s for more laundry, and LittleBit took a nap while I surfed Ravelry, and I took her back to work and came back to Firstborn’s and finished up the laundry and brought it home, just in time to go get her for good.

Does it make you tired to read all that? Me, too. Yesterday was just a Sunday. It most emphatically was not a Sabbath, except for the interlude where we were singing and worshipping. Guess who slept like a rock last night?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas!

I knitted up the better part of an entire heel flap on November Mystery Sock last night while waiting for LittleBit to call. I had on “The Devil Wears Prada” as background noise. I have tried repeatedly to listen to the new KnitPicks podcast, and no matter how many times I click on the link for Episode 28, it keeps giving me Episode 27 with Crazy Aunt Purl. Which is lively and entertaining, but I’ve already enjoyed it.

I also tried listening to the LibriVox recording of “A Modest Proposal”; the recorded volume is too low to be heard if I am sitting over on the couch with my legs up. I can type away at the computer half the day, and my ankles will stay more or less anklish in size. But let me sit here with knitting in hand, and they will pout and blow up. So sitting here by the speakers, where I can hear the recording just fine, is unfortunately not an option. [I neither own nor desire an MP3 player; I would rather spend that money on yarn or books, and then there is that whole matter of earphones, which give me the willies.]

The slip stitch pattern for the heel flaps on the November Mystery Socks is coming along nicely. And now I understand how 42 rows of heel flap does not necessarily equal miles and miles of knitting. I am getting a fabric that is dense – without being thick – and supremely supple. I think it will do very well for the heel.

I was so pleased at finding and arranging my Nativity yesterday afternoon, that I also hung my jingle bell wreath on the front door. It took me awhile to adjust the length of the clear plastic hook so that the brass door knocker was accessible and apartment number unobscured. I managed to do so without letting Charlie, a semi-stray cat whose owner used to live in the complex, into our apartment. One of the neighbors keeps him fed, and he gets enough petting from all the kids who live around here that he is still tame and happy. Or as happy as a cat is ever likely to be.

Today, perhaps, I will get the big wreaths hung in our bedroom windows and the Moosletoe holder up, and I might even find the remaining piece of the Nativity, an angular arch that represents the stable. I know it got moved, because I remember seeing it when the boxes were getting shuffled and repacked. If I am luckier than I deserve, it will be in the same tall tub as the four wreaths.

One wreath used to go in our living room window at the old apartment, another in the dining room window, with one for each bedroom window. They are almost Spartan in their simplicity, which I know is not what you’ve come to expect from me. Here, the living room faces our patio door, which is locked and braced and perpetually covered by vertical blinds. I have two W-I-D-E bedroom windows, and LittleBit has one narrow one. I’m not sure what to do with the fourth wreath; I sure don’t want it to feel lonely and abandoned, sitting in the storage tub all by itself for the holidays.

Maybe I should get a couple more and hang the three of them from the track for the vertical blinds? And another one for the smaller patio door in the kitchen? Or maybe I should just wait patiently [you may stop snickering *right now*] until I buy my house and sort out the numbers then. Buying more wreaths now would also involve trying to match the indoor/outdoor ribbon that I hang them from, and the decorative bows, and buying another tall tub for storage.

And since I am trying to do as little unpacking/repacking as possible, for however long I live here, I think that would be counterproductive. And possibly exhausting; I would have to go Very Near the Mall to get the ribbons, and I don’t remember where I bought the wreaths. And they would simply have to match the others.

I am ordinarily all about eclecticism in my decorating, but not on this one point. Let each snowflake be unique and glorious; let the dishes not match; but if I have four or seven evergreen wreaths at my windows, send in the clones [with apologies to Mr. Sondheim and Judy Collins].

I have been ruminating and typing for the better part of an hour. Time, I think, for some breakfast. Because we all know that typing really burns up the virgin eggnog!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

And a peacock in a Cher tree...

I am feeling extraordinarily tender-hearted today. Not sad, not depressed. Just quietly thoughtful, and more than usually grateful, and easily moved to tears. I spent half an hour or so reading articles in the December issue of The Ensign, the church’s magazine for grownups. [I miss having copies of The Friend, which was geared to children, and The New Era, which is for teens, although it certainly makes for fewer magazines to keep track of.] It seemed that every article I read brought a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye.

I made a big pot of soup. It just felt like a soupish sort of day. A quart of chicken stock, a bag of frozen Italian vegetables, the last ten finger-sized smoked sausages that I was saving for pigs in blankets, and four flour tortillas sliced up. Something like the soup I concocted a couple of weeks ago, but the great thing about soup is that it never turns out the same way twice. And while I’m not crazy about cauliflower or the broad, flat Italian beans, somehow it all comes together after it’s been simmering for awhile. It would be even better with a bit of crumbled bacon, and you know, I have some feta cheese that’s been sitting in the fridge awhile. I wonder how that would go?

Be right back.

Ewww, never mind, that feta had become fetid. It is now sulking in the trash. I opted for a little generic bottled Parmesan/Romano and a shake or two of sweet Hungarian paprika. Not bad. Not bad at all.

I worked six rows on the first heel flap last night, and while my stranding is a little uneven, it looks pretty good. But I think I’ll pause it and try the other flap on size 0’s [2.0mm] like I used on the cuff, to see if I can get the heel flap tighter and more even without having too great a discrepancy in gauge from the leg. I thought that I had circs that were 2.25mm, but I was wrong. I do have my trusty Crystal Palace DP’s, and I may try them as well. I really really ree-e-e-lly like the motifs that she has chosen, thus far. I’m not sure about the stranding on the heel flap, in terms of wear vis-a-vis this yarn, a silk/wool blend. [I would love to see what this motif looks like in a hand-painted yarn, with all those little-bitty strands forming a twill pattern.]

The leftover soup is chilling in the fridge. I have a pot of hard-boiled eggs going. And I am in the mood for oatmeal craisin cookies with big chunks of pecans. LittleBit is dozing in her room, and I think I am ready to curl up on the couch with Jonathan Swift and A Modest Proposal and my knitting.

But first, I want to do this:

OK, it’s more than a little blurry, but I was sitting in one of the new chairs and snapping from across the room using the magnification thingie. I’m just happy that the people look like people and the camels look like camels. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the camel on the left has one ear broken off. Probably in a barfight.

Thursday night I hosted for two hours at our stake Nativity display. I got to sit in a room full of nativity sets on loan from various members of the stake and ensure that nobody’s toddler made off with a Baby Jesus. And I got to see a bunch of old friends and make some new ones.

LittleBit and I got our two hours of driver’s ed in, earlier today, and then she took me to Sonic for some cheesecake bites to celebrate. Yum for the cinnamon caramel sauce to dip them in! And we still had 45 minutes before I had to take her to work, so we went to the Christmas store that is near her restaurant. First words out of her mouth when we walked in?

“Whoa, this place is *way* too festive for me!” First there was the visual assault. And within two minutes I was dabbing my eyes and trying not to cough up a lung from the excess of potpourri.

But she found some moose ornaments that she likes, and we saw one tree that was splendid in its Victorian excess. It was a teal-themed tree, with half a dozen large-ish fake peacocks, and dozens of bejeweled peacock feathers, and sari silk table runners tucked into the branches in lieu of garland, and jeweled ornaments. I sang to her quietly, “And a partridge in a Cher tree.”

To which she responded, “Cute, Mommy, but they’re peacocks.”

Ms. Knitingale, you were right about the obscene prices for Christmas trees. I saw several that were $599 for just a pre-lit tree, no ornaments.

And I totally want that papier-mâché camel.