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!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hymns and hymnpersonations

Tan commented on a recent Sunday's post about some of the church hymns. [I looked for her comment but did not find it. Must have been an aside via email.] And I in my blissful quarter-German ignorance did not know that one of our hymn tunes had any connection with WWII and the bad guys. There are gaps in my musical and secular education that you could drive a Hummer through.

An impertinent question for any of you Saints that might be reading. Is it just me, or does “Called to Serve” sound as if it ought to be the BYU Fight Song? Every time we sing it I hear imaginary trombones inside my head going whoomp-da. And sometimes a trumpet or a tuba. Does not make for reverence. [But then I was the one visiting at my friend's church as a teenaged heathen, who thought that “Bringing in the Sheaves” would be improved if we stage-whispered “sheaves!” at the end of every line.]

About a dozen years ago, two of my friends and I wrote parodies of some of the more famous LDS hymns for a ward talent show. “Master, the Mother is Raging”. “In Our Lovely Deseret [Where the Baby's Always Wet]”. “There is Beauty All Around, When There's No-one Home”.

I'm sure that Eliza R. Snow was turning over in her grave.

On a more reverent note, with a brief digression: our favorite video store is closing. I bought three DVDs at the one near my pharmacy on Friday night: The Apartment, a classic Billy Wilder film; Rembrandt, with Charles Laughton and a very young Elsa Lanchester; and Thérèse, a biography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. [I think I can reasonably expect no cussing in the latter. It is rated PG for mild thematic elements. Yeah, religious sentiment is definitely questionable, no doubt about it. I’ll give you a more detailed review once I have watched it. Seems like it might be good background for knitting on the Sabbath.]

I have since watched all three movies, the last one this evening while LittleBit was at her youth fireside. I loved it. How refreshing to watch a film that treats faith respectfully. I wonder how many other LDS women were watching a film tonight that has the Vatican’s stamp of approval?

I wanted a quietly productive weekend, and I got it. The body of LittleBit’s cabled hoodie is all stitched together [including a hand-stitched zipper] and I finished knitting the left side panel of the hood before I went to bed last night. I sewed it up before church this morning and have a couple of inches worked on the right side panel.

I did a quick search on Ravelry last night, and a couple of the other knitters have faced the zipper tape with a decorative ribbon. I think I may end up doing that as well, but I may just hand it over to her later this week and be done with it! I have made one small modification. I left the last five stitches of the left side panel un-bound-off, and I carefully unpicked the binding-off of the central cabled panel. Both are waiting quietly on a strand of narrow ribbon. After the right side panel is finished, I want to knit off the waiting stitches with the five-stitch garter panel and then Kitchener those last five stitches. I think I will be happier with it if the garter stitch panel flows organically along the front, rather than having a nice flow on both side panels and a divot from seaming across the central gabled panel.

Of course, I may be talking through my hat here. Or LittleBit’s hoodie, as it were.

I am almost done with the surprise project for my sister’s birthday, which was Friday, and which will require some blocking. The project, not the birthday. The odds are good that she will have it in her hot little hands well before the next birthday. I’ve had one part of her gift waiting for a couple of weeks and have thus far resisted the temptation to eat it myself. And I picked up another part yesterday, but I can’t tell you what it is until she gets hers. I’ll just add that I got one for myself when I got hers, and I love mine.

[Nanny nanny boo boo, Sister Mine!]

Oh, and thanks to my friend Julia the Enabler, I have signed up for another mystery shawl sort of thing. Looks like there are four of us Sisters of the Wool signed up so far. It starts on New Year’s Day, which since I am not an imbiber, should present no problem. This one has no beads. Whatever shall I do?

Friday, October 26, 2007

But sometimes three lefts do...

[You know the old saying that two wrongs do not make a right.]

What do you do with a cranky Mommy,
What do you do with a cranky Mommy,
What do you do with a cranky Mommy,
Earl-aye in the morning?

Throw her in the tub and give her chocolate,
Throw her in the tub and give her chocolate,
Throw her in the tub and give her chocolate,
Earl-aye in the morning!

I can do something about the tub, and in fact I will, quite soon. I was going to say that I couldn’t do anything about the chocolate, because even though I just dragged myself to the grocery store at 4:30am and spent $53 and change, I forgot to hit the chocolate aisle. And then I remembered that my visiting teaching supervisor at church gave me a purple vampire goodie bag at Relief Society last Sunday. I had a nice sensible mini bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I just washed down a snack size Almond Joy with most of the rest of my milk. I love almonds, and I could use a refill on the joy.

This is a picture of LittleBit, looking pitiful, just before they put the happy juice into her IV. Cook Children’s Hospital is an amazing place. They put a wristband on LittleBit. They put one on me. And they put another on her bear.

The endoscopy went well. No sign of an ulcer, thank goodness, and no damage to her vocal chords from the reflux, though there is some thickening of her esophagus. They removed three polyps from her stomach and have sent them for biopsy. Her doctor said they didn't look malignant; she also said it is most unusual for somebody this young to have polyps, particularly in the stomach, and that polyps tend to run in families.

I've already emailed my sister to ask about her and our folks. And I emailed my former SIL to ask about the medical history on that side of the family. I’ve also left a VM for LittleBit’s dad, but no telling when he got it or if he will remember to call or text me back. He is pretty much in his own little world these days. There is no doubt in my mind that he loves his kids. I also don’t see a lot of what I would call useful, measurable action.

LittleBit had a very slight fever before she had the procedure. And it went up after the procedure and then obediently came back down. And after the procedure is when things started coming unRavelled. She had a panic attack when she was waking up. Wanted to see the BF, who is home from Marine Corps boot camp. Said that she wanted him and his mother to take care of her. And when I raised one eyebrow and opened my mouth to say something like Not On My Watch, she started sobbing and went right into an asthma attack.

Naturally, we did not have her inhaler with us. But the staff gave her a breathing treatment, and I reassured her that yes, we would stop to see The Boy on the way home from the hospital, and she calmed herself down. We stopped at his house for ten or fifteen minutes, and they hugged each other and did the teenage equivalent of “There, there”, with much patting of the back, and they both felt better when we left. So on the one hand, it put off a nap that much longer, but I think it was time well spent. He’s a good boy, and I met his mom, and I like her.

I couldn’t give LittleBit anything to eat or drink in the car, so when we got home I made her some mild pasta, and she ate maybe half a cup and couldn’t finish it. She went to bed. I went to bed. Life was good until she rousted me an hour and a half later to say that she’d gotten a VM from one of the choir directors, and she’d been called back.

I decided I would put my jeans back on and go remind them that she’d just had surgery. Took my knitting and my big tote. LittleBit decided that she wanted to come along. I ended up sitting in the choir director’s office, because it was a closed audition. In theory, LittleBit would read briefly, and I would take her home. In reality, she texted me at 8:00 and told me to go home, she wasn’t done.

I texted back, “You are kidding. You need to come home and eat and go to bed.”

No response.

I texted again, half an hour later, “OK I give up. Am going home. Love you. And you are nuts but you come by it honestly.”

And she replied half an hour after that, “I’m doing really well tho”

But I still didn’t feel good about it. What does a good mother do in a situation like that? Bust into the audition and say, “You’ve had her quite long enough, I’m taking her home?” when if she were two months older and living in NYC and auditioning, there would be no mommy to shepherd her?

She got home a little after 10:00, looking like she’d been beaten with the script. We had prayers, talked a little, and both went to bed.

When I woke at 4:00 this morning, I thought I could hear murmuring. She was on the cell phone with the BF. Couldn’t sleep all night, stomach hurt, fever was back. But did she wake *me*, like I had asked? No. I made her run a bath while I ran to the store.

And now I have 24 minutes to decide if I am going to work today, or not.

I told her that she’d obviously overdone it last night, and that I feel like a bad mother for letting her. But it’s not like she’s 6, and I can sit on her.


Much knitterly progress yesterday. I finished seaming all the parts together while waiting for her to go into surgery. I took the needle and the book. However, I did not take the yarn. Thankfully, I also had the Sabbath Scarf with me. Made lots of progress on it as well; I will probably finish it before Sunday.

While I was sitting in the choir director’s office last night, I picked up the stitches for the first side panel of the hood. I had worked about 2-1/2” of it when I noticed that I’d dropped one of the sleeve stitches. So I ripped back to the picking-up row and fixed that, and I’m almost back to where I was.

Decision made. I’m going in. And I should have left nine minutes ago. If her fever spikes and I need to take her back to the hospital, I’ll grab a Cherry Coke and assume the position [hands at ten and two, knees permanently frozen at a right angle].

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Jersey Octoberfest

Run, do not walk, to today's Non Sequitur: http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/. If you are reading this sometime other than 23 October, that is the date you want. I think this struck me funny because of the Harlot’s recent comment on “Jersey drivers”. The children’s father learned to drive in New York City; it must be something in the water.

Some actual decorating is getting done chez nous. LittleBit got up on a chair after work on Sunday and hung this for me.

And that night I put my estate-sale dress form up on the sofa table and threw my Red Hatter feather boa around her neck. I got a bit of inspiration yesterday morning and had no time to follow through until last night. This is what she looks like now.

Those are hip scarves that I collected nine years ago, when I was taking bellydancing classes. I think they add a nice “Junk Gypsy” touch. I am trying to come up with a name for her. So far there are no clear winners, but “Mehitabel” sounds like a distinct possibility. Suggestions, anybody?

And here is M. Clapotis, worn to work last Friday and to church on Sunday.

One side of the zipper is basted on LittleBit’s hoodie. I have no idea where my thread has gotten to, not even junk thread to baste it. [I do know where the sewing needles are. Go figure.] I will run by JoAnn’s before joining the Sisters of the Wool; there’s one in the same outdoor mall as the bookstore where we are meeting tonight.

The focus could be better, but the colors are pretty close to true.

I will have some free time this morning after dropping LittleBit at school. I have a dental appointment at 9:45. That gives me almost 2-1/2 hours to play! I think I will spend an hour or so rummaging in boxes. [I found the toaster this morning. Mr. Rogers wants to know if you can say Eggo.] And if I’m lucky, then some basting. And definitely some knitting.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Matters of Life, and Death

One of my young friends asked me recently, “What is adding #5 like? I hear not much different than #4 and I hope that is true! I am exhausted these days and keeping up with 4 is tough.”

That's a subject worthy of a blog post all in itself. LittleBit was conceived about six months after we’d been through a really rough patch financially, where he was in school and we were living on food storage until the student loans kicked in.

That was the time when we ate oatmeal twice a day, and sometimes three times a day. Just before the loans were due, we had $14 to feed six people for two weeks. I went to a grocery store that sold four conjoined loaves of bread for a dollar, and I bought seven of them. If we ate nothing else, two loaves a day would keep us alive. I also bought two boxes of generic powdered milk; we had sold the goats at that point.

Firstborn was in fifth grade, and in three weeks she dropped ten pounds because she couldn’t gag down another bite of oatmeal. I lost 21 pounds in those same three weeks and was so stupid from hunger that I couldn’t see that my children were starving. Fortunately, her teacher saw; she insisted that we put the kids on free lunches at school.

So when I found out that I was pregnant, I was both happy and worried. I didn’t know if I’d have the health and strength to carry her to term. I did a lot of praying and bargaining with God, and actually it turned out to be my easiest pregnancy. Those middle-trimester glory days, when you feel good and have enough energy to take on the world? God extended those for me well into the last trimester. My sewing jobs meant the difference between student loans and reality; when the children’s father graduated from chiropractic school we had borrowed $90,000 and lived on about $11,000 a year for three years.

LittleBit fit seamlessly into our family. I was already dancing on the edge of exhaustion, so the crazy-weariness of having a newborn in the house barely fazed me.

I found out that I was pregnant on my 37th birthday. I don’t know what it would be like to be younger and healthier and stronger and less desperately poor. I only know what a joy she has been and is, to me.

Raising kids has been the wildest roller coaster ride of my life, the hardest work, and the greatest blessing. My heart aches for all the good women [including, apprently, two of my precious daughters] who want to have children, and cannot; it has been the making of me as a human being, after all that my parents taught me and all that I’ve learned from the scriptures and the Sunday School lessons.

I have been struck, over the years, at the intertwining of love and birth and death. Middlest was conceived when her father came home from a week in California, after the death of his mother. I’ve always felt that Middlest was a farewell gift from her, every bit as much as she was a gift from God.

And when Mom called to tell me that one of my aunts had died, I was in labor with Fourthborn. I like to think that they waved at each other as my aunt rode the up escalator to Heaven and Fourthborn rode the down escalator to earth.

I remember reading, as a much younger woman, that couples often go home after attending a funeral and make love, and that very often they have “proofs of affection” nine months later. I thought it was just plain weird and a little disrespectful, but now that I’m older I think I understand it. Making love is, or ought to be, a sweet and profound communication between a husband and wife, a comfort in times of trial, an affirmation of life and hope.

And, unfortunately, it is not an option for me at the moment; I can’t just go to the spouse store and pick one out the way I’d choose between one pair of shoes and another. [And there is the matter of making sure I’ve chosen one that’s not the equivalent of a pair of stiletto heels. I want somebody who will be dependable and trustworthy over the long haul, not somebody who looks good but makes me hurt.]

So I thank you kindly for the lovely comments and emails and phone calls. And I’ll take all the hugs I can get. I’m not looking forward to telling my friends at work today. Sunday was infinitely better than Friday night in terms of emotionality, but it’s really hard to answer the switchboard with a stiff upper lip.

Tomorrow is Knit Night. I have a little church work to do before I get to go knit, but I plan to be there even if it's not until 8:00, and even if I can only stay until 8:30. [Of course, LittleBit may be working tomorrow; she gets her schedule at work tonight. So I may get there and have just enough time to say hi to everybody and then have to leave.] But time spent in the company of other good women is wonderfully healing. Particularly *these* good women.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Real. Bad. Mood.

I used to own the Marie Sisters' CD. The track that got damaged was the one with this song.

OK, I feel a little better now. Brother Stilts would be laughing so hard, he'd be wiping his eyes.

I think we all need a little comic relief. [I know *I* do; I have been pushing boxes around all afternoon as an alternative to overdosing on comfort food. The living room actually has two chairs that are sit-able, though the TV is still unplugged and the DVD player disconnected.]

You will recall my spying a Vicious Sounding Flying Insect the other day, lurking between the mini-blinds and the kitchen window. We met up again yesterday. At 6:10am. On the handle of my mug of water. I’m not sure which of us was more startled. She was moving slowly, I am devoutly hoping not because she had just sealed up 5000 babies in a mud tube under my computer desk, and when I shook her off my finger she went THWACK into the side of a box, and over the top like Butch and Sundance jumping into the waterfall.

I did not hear her holler “Geronimo” as she went, or even “oh BLEEP” like Butch and Sundance. I was too busy remembering that I am not a screamer, so as not to wake the neighbors. [I may have emitted a few muffled yelps.]

While she was lying on the carpet, shaking her head and wondering where that nice mug of water had gone, I was going for my shoes. She is now in Bug Heaven, and when I calmed down enough to examine her, she had no discernible stripes. So she was a mud dauber, one of the good guys, and I feel a little sad and guilty.

LittleBit attended her first concert last night. The band is from LA, and they’re just starting to tour nationally. The good news is, her best friend *also* has a midnight curfew, an equally involved mother, and a boyfriend with his head on straight. In fact, her mom and her mom’s best friend went with them. So even though they were in a neighborhood that d scares me [I’ve been to poetry readings there], they were in a herd, and they were safe. She had a blast. Because it was a small venue, they got to visit with the band after the concert. She says it’s definitely going into her senior scrapbook!

Today we had round 2 of All State Choir auditions. I waited it out at the bookstore. I was only there a couple of hours; she was the first to audition and not pleased with how she did on one of the three songs. [Probably better than she thinks, though like me she usually has a good estimation of how she's done, and is not typically down on herself.] Postscript: she made it through round 2, so either everybody else messed up more than she did, or she did far better than she had thought.

So I got one side front of her hoodie attached to the front panel, and the second one started. Since coming home, I finished that one and have attached one of the sleeves to the back and am working on the second. I also bought the separating zipper while we were out, and I’ll sew that before joining the fronts to the back and stitching up the side seams. This yarn is pure pleasure to handle; I’m looking forward to working on it next week.

No way am I in the mood to go to the dance tonight. While I would love to spend the evening sitting beside Brother Sushi as he DJ’s, I am not in the mood for polite chit-chat. Or to suffer fools, of which there appear to be rather more than usual, of late. There are a couple of folks who would get the verbal equivalent of both barrels’ full of rock salt, squarely in their cheeks.

What do you think of this as a replacement for the soon-to-be frogged Swallowtail? Heaven knows I have enough beads. And loads of yarn. [Unfortunately.]

Heading back to visit with the Marie Sisters before I pick up my knitting. Cranking it up. Repenting later. J. Golden and Brother Stilts would be so pleased...

Friday, October 19, 2007

R.I.P., Brother Stilts

It’s a h--- of a day in the neighborhood…I could only find one video of “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”. More profane than I remembered, so I won’t link to it.

Je suis desolée. LittleBit called me, persistently, while I was going through my messages on the drive home, and when I clicked over, she was barely able to speak. She said, “I have bad news, not the sort of thing that’s right to text-message, and it’s not me, I’m OK, well not really, but we got a call from Brother Stilts’ sister and brother-in-law in Missouri. He was in a bad car accident last week, and he didn’t make it. They got the card you sent him, today, and called me because they couldn’t reach you.” And then we both started sobbing.

One of my Three Musketeers is gone. Graduated from earth life, with its challenges and frustrations and pain. I googled him, and the news stories are archived and unavailable, as are the police reports, though I can send their DPS a modest amount of money and wait for them to mail it to me. I want to know *now*. I’ve left a voicemail on his sister’s phone.

He is one of a blessed handful of men who never lied to me, never over-promised, never disappointed me. And he was the first man I liked that much, and trusted that much, that I did not just stupidly go ahead and fall in love with, because I paid attention to what he said to me, and what he said to others, and I knew he was Not Available. We were singles’ reps together, and he helped me make the move before this one, in four days. He ran an unofficial halfway house for people who were clean and sober, and he kept them honest. And he kept himself honest.

He may not always have gone to church, but he honored his priesthood, and of the four priesthood blessings that he gave to the ill and the afflicted, that I know of, three of them were to my daughters and me. He was a J. Golden Kimball sort of guy, a rough diamond who was not the less a diamond because of the roughness. And I miss him fiercely.

I do not think I could miss him any more if we had been sweethearts, or lovers. Our friendship was pure and chaste and lively, with an emotional and spiritual intimacy that people who jump the gun and fall into bed can never know. This friendship is one of the touchstones that I measure any potential romance against.

When I had my near-fiancé experience two years ago, I called to bounce some ideas off him. He sent me two cards and a letter within the next week; he was not much of a writer. Maybe a call for my birthday, but we could go months without talking and still pick up where we’d left off. In one of the cards, he counseled me: “Be good. Be smart. Be careful.” And when the near-fiancé turned out to be a loon, I called Brother Stilts, a little sniffly, and reported that I’d been all three, and that his advice had saved me a lot of trouble and heartache.

We really didn’t touch. I knew without his saying anything that he was a man with deep reserves of passion, who kept his passions bridled so that he would be worthy to serve the Lord. He was old-school Catholic before he joined the church. I was twice-divorced and determined to color inside the lines. And so we kept a seemly distance.

The day before he moved to MO, he mowed the yard of the house where he’d been living. He came over with a bottle of aloe and asked me to doctor his back. Which I did, moved to tears that he trusted me to step just far enough inside his boundaries to maybe stave off skin cancer, and not so far inside that there would be something to discuss with the bishop.

For those of you who are not LDS and are scratching your heads in puzzlement, we are a modest people, and a reverent people who honor our bodies as the temples of our spirits. I had never seen him with his shirt off, nor expected to. I think the keynote of our friendship was reverence. We bickered and laughed, we served together and we served one another, and we honored one another and by doing so, we honored God.

I love that line from Steel Magnolias where Weezer tells somebody “I love you more than my luggage.” That became a code-phrase with Brother Stilts and me. I’d close our phone conversations by saying “more than my luggage, bro”, and he would laugh and say, “yeah, me too”. A rowdier version of “ditto” from Ghost, if you will.

More than my luggage, bro. More than my luggage.

Off Leash

My sister wrote:

“We went to a great 13-acre dog park this morning with [the pooch] and she got lots and lots of exercise and fun with the other dogs. Off-leash is so fabulous.”

I wrote back:

“I think the idea of a dog park is pretty darn cool. Gives me the idea for a Middle Aged Woman Park.” I have to agree with her; off-leash is fabulous. Which got me thinking about what I do when I’ve slipped my leash in order to retool, refresh, rewind.

I love to read, listen to good music, knit [of course], cook, work with my hands, dance, eat, nap. If I could design a Middle Aged Woman Park to please not just myself, but other candidates for the Red Hat Society, what would it contain?

Shopping, natural and man-made beauty, food, climate control, peace, and safety. Places for pondering and solitude, other places for teaching and learning.

There would be Ann Taylor for the skinnies and Coldwater Creek and Avenue and Lane Bryant for the rest of us. There would be a really good used book shop as well as the Big Two. There would be a mini-mall that sold needlework supplies of all sorts, and a bead/gemstone shop, and art supplies, a teahouse for the Ladies Who Lunch, a really good vegan restaurant, all sorts of ethnic foods like I remember from Seattle Center during and after the Worlds Fair in 1963. [Yes, I am that old, and pictures from the Fair are among those that got briefly baptized during the move.]

It would be large enough to meet the artistic needs of 99% of the populace and small enough that everything would be in easy walking distance. It would be enclosed and air conditioned, with skylights. There would be an abundance of seating for the easily tired, ramps for those with accessibility issues, and Fashion Police not for the women, but to keep out men in golf shorts, Speedos, and open shirts with honking gold medallions on their grizzled hairy chests, not to mention adolescent males with their trousers at half-mast and adolescent and post-adolescent females dressed like hoochie mamas.

And it would have cute cops on bikes, like Bass Hall and Sundance Square in Fort Worth. The silver-haired ones would be *mine*.

Clapotis, elle est fini, and am I the only one who is having issues posting photographs on Ravelry? I can log into Flickr, and when I drag-and-drop to the blank square on my notebook page on Ravelry, it tumps [v., Tx, transitive] me back into Flickr. I was not in the mood to sign up for the help line IM last night.

I have been methodically adding FO’s and linking to blog posts. It would be nice if I could show what the FO looks like, without people having to go to the posts.

I do believe that I will wear my Clapotis to work today, with either my teal T-shirt or the lovely faux suede one that Firstborn gave me for my birthday several years ago [oh, how I miss August Max Woman], and my turquoise earrings and cuff that I inherited from Mom.

Going back to bed now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Princess and the Frog

I found this on Fleegle’s blog the other day. Read it first, or the next paragraph will make no sense.

When LittleBit and I were at her gastroenterologist’s a few weeks ago, there was a poster on a different topic, one that I suspect is handy when discussing “output” with very young patients. I think there were seven artistic representations of “output”: everything from “I’m never eating cheese again” to “If you think I’m taking more than three steps away from the bathroom, you’re crazy.” Now, I have thought about a lot of things during the course of my life, but up to that moment it had never entered my head that there might be occasions when a visual representation of an extremely necessary bodily function would be something other than sophomoric humor.

Apparently I was wrong.

Moving on to a more genteel subject, I was asked to come up with “foofy” invitations for a breakfast we served to the attorneys and office manager for Boss’s Day. [Me, I thought every day was Boss’s Day.] This is what I came up with:

Whereas, the parties of the first part [hereinafter referred to as “you” and “your”] having demonstrated superior bossing qualities to the parties of the second part [hereinafter referred to as “we”, “us”, and “our”]; and

Inasmuch as the 16th of October has been proclaimed Boss’s Day;

Wherefore, “you” are invited to a breakfast in “your” honor, created and served by “us”.

Said breakfast to be served in the Large Conference Room at approximately 8:30am, “our” waffle-makers permitting, because

“We” appreciate “you”.

I squished it down to print on a 3.5” column of paper, to be attached to 4” x 6” pieces of cardstock. Witness:

The managing attorney loved it! The staple was an afterthought, because my gluestick was only intermittently effective.

I mentioned recently that I solved the mystery of where those @#$% moths were coming from. And gained a whole new appreciation for the phrase “taken to the cleaners”. Well now I know what they were up to. Do you see the huge yarnover in Swallowtail? Discovered only as I was pinning her out yesterday morning.

Speaking of @#$%, there's a new biography of J. Golden Kimball out. I had probably better buy it and read it homeopathically.

So, what to do about Swallowtail? I am going to frog her and make a pair of mitts, as she blocked out a little smaller than I would have liked. Of course, I didn’t want to pull too hard and make the hole any bigger. She's beautiful, and I’ll knit her again, from a different yarn, preferably one that's silky-smooth to humans but has sharp little moth-sized teeth to teach those winged fiends some manners.

Which brings up another question: if in the Millenium the lion will lie down with the lamb, and not for greater ease in digesting him, and the carnivores will eat straw like the ox, what are moths going to eat? Carnivores?

If moths are still in business under the new, improved scheme of things, maybe I had better just grab my handbasket and head in the other direction.

Assuming that the @#$% moths haven’t eaten it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Choir concert tonight

For those of you who are local [and you know who you are], LittleBit's choir concert is at 7:00 tonight in the usual place.

And for everybody else? The block-fest continues. I took up the black pieces of her hoodie first thing this morning. I would love to put Swallowtail to soak while I run her to seminary, then come home and pin it out, but while I’m getting a mite faster with the blocking wires, this morning has already been quite busy enough. I dashed to the grocery store for more hangers for all the clean laundry that I was too tired to hang up last night. [Yes, it’s true. Alert the media! My laundry is caught up.] I also got more of those frozen meatballs that we like, and something to go in the package that I’m sending my sister for her birthday. Unless, of course, we eat it first.

Loads of compliments from the muggles yesterday, for MS3. I cannot rave enough about this pattern. I definitely want to do her cherry-blossom stole, not that I wear delicate pink if I can help it. I guess I'll have to do mine in red and pretend that the blossom-holes are really chunks of lava.

Tax return is posted. I was amused to see how busy the 24/7 Post Office was after work, lots of folks like me who took the automatic deduction. That automated postal center is the way to go. There was a nice man who helped those of us who needed it. He even grabbed my printed stamp-sticker and popped it on the envelope for me and chunked it in the bin.

While I was wandering the aisles of W-M this morning, I heard some amazing singing. Apparently Beyonce has done a cover of “Fever”, the old Peggy Lee hit that Michael Bublé has also covered. One of the stockers had it playing on a boombox over by the frozen foods.

I will be humming all the way to work. Fe-vah! in the morning...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rendering unto Caesar

Whew! After five or six hours of digging and typing last night, the tax return was finished. I went through [I think] every box that didn’t obviously contain something other than paperwork. I will have to give the IRS a check tomorrow, but not *all* my money, and not enough to trigger interest and penalties. For which I am abundantly thankful.

I have already accumulated the information I will need to file my Schedule C for my defunct business, next spring. I had some revenue bleeding over into this year. Not that an influx of cash is a bad thing, but it would have been nice to have been absolutely, totally, never gonna have to deal with it again done.

Here is some knitting content for you: MS3, blocking, yesterday afternoon.

I wore it to church today. It is exactly the right weight to take the chill off in our chapel, and I can’t wait to wear it to work tomorrow. Next up, the black sections of LittleBit’s hoodie, blocking as we speak:

When they come up off the floor, Swallowtail will be next in line to assume the position. And I think I want to re-block Brother Sushi’s tie that I made for him last Christmas. [And have yet to give him, because I’m not entirely happy with the lining, which is about 70% hand-stitched. It’s either re-block the tie, or reconfigure the lining. I think it will be both easier and more satisfying to pick out the hand-stitching, re-block the tie, and redo the hand-stitching, than it would be to try to re-press the lining to fit the tie as is. As I recall, I melted the first lining I cut out.]

I didn’t get the laundry done last night. I didn’t do the grocery shopping, either. And I just drank the last three tablespoons of milk. I also ate the last half of the frozen pierogies, with a drizzle of ranch dressing since we are alas! out of sour cream. “Dessert” was Nutella on saltines, since we are out of bread.

There is a vicious-sounding flying insect buzzing about the dining room and kitchen. I’m not sure if it’s a hornet, wasp, yellow jacket – I saw it backlit against the kitchen window when I was rinsing out my glass – or a lovely harmless dirt dauber. But it doesn’t sound happy. If it were a slug, I would put a saucer of O’Doul’s on the kitchen floor and wait. [O’Doul’s, I have.] It could join the cricket that I trapped under a small storage container and am not yet in the mood to deal with.

I want a nap. I think maybe we need to up the flow pressure on my C-PAP, because I’ve awakened several nights with the uneasy feeling that I was holding my breath, or worse.

Later, after a luscious and entirely restful nap, in which there were no breathing issues.

LittleBit and I are enjoying hash browns [sadly unsalted, as I have no idea in which of those 11 boxes the salt is hiding] and scrambled eggs aux fines herbes, and the biscuits that I wanted to bake last Sunday but couldn’t because the oven racks were AWOL. There are five or six more empty boxes by the front door, and all my Robert B. Parker mysteries are cozying up to my Rosamund Pilchers. The bright, chaste heroines of the latter are quite comfortable discussing Edmund Spenser with his namesake and trading witticisms with Susan, but they’re not at all sure what to think about Hawk.

Much progress on the Sabbath scarf today. A little tinking, when I got so involved with the lesson taught that I threw in the occasional superfluous yarnover. [And of course did not notice until three rows later.] But this KnitPicks Gloss tinks like a dream. I have almost used up the blue yarn leftover from Brother Sushi’s tie and will wind up the second ball sometime before bedtime.

What a lovely, restful weekend this has been. A bit of initially unfruitful shopping with LittleBit on Friday, though we did eventually find her that dinner suit for her upcoming date with the BF who is coming home from Marine Corps basic training and wants to take her someplace fancy. Fruitful shopping for/with her at Old Navy yesterday afternoon. And fun in the process, though Old Navy is typically so crowded that fun is impossible. A couple of good naps. Much knitting. A bit more unpacking. Some excellent reading.

I do believe I will slip into the kitchen and have another biscuit or two. And then back to my boudoir [which is looking more like a retreat and less like a storage unit] to wind up that second ball of yarn and curl up with my book for awhile.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Finito -- What Next?

It’s 8:32 on a lovely Saturday morning. MS3 is taking a little bath, preparatory to being blocked. I loved the Harlot’s blog on Wednesday, showing her finished lace with all its lumps and nups and idiosyncrasies, and the blocked shawl in all its glory.

I had to spit-splice the third skein yesterday, in order to finish those last three rows of beading and the binding-off. I have used one full package of the Mill Hill beads, and exactly six beads out of a second package. I have three unopened packages and those three skeins of the lighter green alpaca that I bought at the same time as the KnitPicks Shadow.

I really like the flexible bind-off, which I modified slightly. After slipping the first stitch and knitting the second, instead of slipping both stitches to the left needle and knitting through the back loops as specified, I inserted my left needle purl-wise into the two stitches on my right needle, wrapped as for a knit stitch, and called it done. It seems to me to give the same effect, with one less step for each stitch bound off.

As I finished that last row of beading, and the last purl row, and the binding-off, I found myself meditating upon the snapshot of the moon that I posted yesterday. I wondered how many ways it would be possible to interpret it, using techniques that I’ve dabbled with or ones I would like to learn.

I’d already decided that I want to go back into my photo editing software and crop it for a print to be framed. I could also play with my watercolors, which I haven’t touched in a couple of years; I love making color mooshes and writing across them with calligraphy. During the move, I found some small ones that I had made several years ago, embellished with cross-stitched hearts on paper canvas that I had stitched to the watercolor paper.

I have cross-stitch design software, and I could run a bitmap of the image through that and stitch it up on dark navy linen. We have a wonderful cross-stitch store that’s maybe a mile from here, with all sorts of amazing threads and beads.

I could also spring for a stretched canvas and try my hand with acrylics; Heaven knows I have lots of little bottles that are just waiting for me to show up and play, from when I painted folk art bed frames for most of the girls, and started to paint footstools for them. Some of that paint will be dried out, but some of it will still be good.

There is always appliqué [you think my yarn stash is impressive?] Or a miniature watercolor quilt. Or Seminole patchwork if I want to get very abstract with it.

And as I finished binding off the last stitches, I realized that it wouldn’t be too hard to knit up laceweight yarn on extra-large needles and make layer upon layer of clouds to appliqué over some sort of background. Maybe some of the silver brocade I used for LittleBit’s prom dress a couple of years ago? I think that I gave the remnants to Fourthborn during the move, but I’m sure that she wouldn’t begrudge me a 6” square of fabric.

But first, I’m heading back to the boudoir to pin out the stole. Later this weekend I will wet-block – ick! it’s soggy and messy and makes my room smell like wet cranky sheep, but that’s what I did with the purple parts, and I’d probably better be consistent – the black portions of LittleBit’s cabled hoodie, so I can stitch them together and finish the hood. I hope to get Swallowtail blocked before the weekend is out.

I need to go get a black separating zipper, and some of those interlocking yoga mats, and more T-pins. More urgent is the need to dig through several boxes of “file this” and get the last of the receipts for my skincare sales so I can finish my tax return before Monday at midnight, when my automatic extension runs out.

Maybe if I try to offer the nice IRS auditor a pair of handknitted socks?

Oh, and breakfast would be a good idea. I’ve had three mugs of milk since midnight, and two handfuls of gingersnaps. I’m getting the first rumbles of “we are not amused”, so I’d better send down something more substantial.

Photos as I take the various projects up from blocking. If you have a recipe for cake that could conceal a file, you might want to start looking for it, in case I end up knitting at Leavenworth.

Friday, October 12, 2007

We found the camera cable!

There was the one a couple of weeks ago that LittleBit *thought* was mine, but I didn’t remember the touches of yellow. She found the right one, two days ago, in a very safe place indeed.

It was already plugged into the back of the computer. No wonder I couldn’t find it.

Herewith I offer a few photos. A not-all-that-bad shot of the moon, taken whenever it looked approximately like this:

MS3 at the end of the first chart of Clue 5; the shoulder of the wing, if you will:

The craft cart and tower of books to the right of my bed:

The first bookshelf, all full and happy, with a glimpse into the walk-in closet.

The feast that our friends brought us, the weekend of The Big Move.


Today's agenda? Work as usual, the monthly dinner with Brother Sushi [yay!], and quite possibly the last ten rows on MS3. Much blocking this weekend, thanks to my SOTW Rebecca, who has generously loaned me her blocking wires.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I guess I didn’t check the kitchen out as thoroughly as I should have when I marked off the move-in checklist. There are no baking racks in the oven. Ergo, no biscuits yesterday morning. Or this morning either, for that matter.

And when I went to drain the bathroom sink after soaking the three purple sections of LittleBit’s cabled hoodie, the stopper wouldn’t pop up. I got the back section pinned out last night and almost ran out of pins, so I threw the two fronts into the tub overnight. I have one of them rolled in a towel and will go sneak pins from the back in a little while. I hope that I’ll be able to get both fronts pinned out before I leave for work. The back is looking mighty fine, but while I got gauge during the knitting, it grew a little in the soaking process. I wonder if it would have been different if I’d just steam-blocked it, as I grew up doing? This soak-and-pin business is new to me.

Also, the water in the sink was *very* purple after half an hour’s soak. The pieces don’t seem faded, so maybe it was just excess dye. This is KnitPicks’ Telemark. Has anybody else had massive bleeding with it? [Note to self: ask my Sisters of the Wool on our forum.]

I wonder if maintenance here at the new place will be on duty today, since it’s a Federal holiday. It would be nice to come home to a dry sink and a usable oven. I’ll be at my job as usual, but I won’t have to deal with incoming mail, only what came in on Saturday. And traffic will be much lighter, as will the phones. I suspect that it will be a day to play catch-up with my in-basket, and maybe I can pay invoices for some of the secretaries.

I popped on the hall light and woke LittleBit to ask if she needed to take a shower and wash her hair this morning. She sat up and said, “Wait a minute. No school today.” And I apologized for waking her. There goes my nomination for Mother of the Year!

General Conference yesterday was even better than on Saturday. I loved Elder Eyring’s talk about counting our blessings and writing down the ways and times in which we see the Hand of God in our lives. Elder Cook, who is the new Apostle, also spoke. These brethren were called to their new responsibilities on Thursday. And on Sunday they give well-considered talks to the 13+ million Latter-Day Saints who were listening in 179 countries throughout the world? That is what I call inspiration in action.

I did finish Clue 6 on MS3 yesterday, and five rows on Clue 7. Hence the scramble to get the components of LittleBit’s hoodie blocked so I can seam it up later this week. I am not quite ready to knit socks yet, so I might as well finish the WIPs. Once her hoodie is done, I might be in the mood to finish my Elann crop cardie as well.

Time for me to go pin out the first front and wrap the second one in a towel. And then I can figure out what I want to make for breakfast, that doesn’t involve baking.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lateral Thinking

One of the many good concepts to which the children’s father introduced me, was “lateral thinking”. If you can’t go over, under, or through something, go around it. Step aside and consider it from a new perspective. Yield like an aikido master and let your opponent’s momentum carry him harmlessly out of your way. Try Plan B, or Plan C, or Plan Z, but keep trying. Something is bound to work.

LittleBit has absorbed that well. She combines my tenacity with his creative approach. Yesterday she offered to fix us a batch of pasta. We’d grabbed half a dozen different pasta sides that were new to me, but not to her. First obstacle: the measuring cups were still packed. Second obstacle: she couldn’t visualize how much water to put into her empty water bottle, to get the desired amount. I pulled up the calculator here on the computer and showed her how to translate the recipe quantity into ounces [she’d have done it in her head if she hadn’t been so hungry; she’s the only one of the girls who likes math]. Third obstacle: she guessed how full a “full” bottle of water was and did her calculations accordingly, proclaiming confidently that when she was backpacking this summer, they just eyeballed everything, and nobody died. Fourth obstacle: when it was cooked, what I had was a bowl of pasta soup. She washed the pan and made another batch for herself, after finding a 4-oz storage container and using it to extrapolate quantities.

“See, Mom, this is what yours was supposed to look like.”

Hey, it was some of the best soup I’ve had in recent weeks, and when I’d had my fill of pasta, I put the rest of it in the fridge. After watching the second session of General Conference, I tore up two flour tortillas and nuked my concoction for three or four minutes, in one-minute increments, until it was hot and the torties were all soft and dumpling-y. Yum! I still had about half a cup of liquid left, and tons of tortillas, so I polished it off later that evening.

I am perhaps half a bubble off level when it comes to the idea of wasting food. Or rather, NOT wasting food.

One of the best Conference addresses that I saw yesterday was a sermon in action and not so much in words. Elder Wirthlin is mentally sharp and spiritually in tune, but it’s obvious that his body is not so spry. About halfway through his address, he began to shake visibly, to the point that it caused his voice to shake as well. One of the other brethren came up and stood just behind him, to steady him. And I thought, “that’s what we’re here for, to take care of each other, to steady a friend if he’s wobbly, to be there unobtrusively and valiantly without a big sign over our heads proclaiming ‘look what a good Christian I am’.”

I am so thankful for good friends who don’t let me fall if they can help it.

Much progress in the boudoir yesterday: six boxes emptied and 2.25 bookcases filled. Amazing progress on MS3, something like 30 rows completed. I suspect that I’ll finish Clue 6 today and get a good start on Clue 7.

Even more astounding is the energy that I felt all day long. I didn’t start getting sleepy until about 8:30. And I woke up around 4:00 yesterday morning! I went to bed about 9:00 last night, woke up at 2:00, and slept until almost 6:00 this morning. Of course, if I felt this good all the time, I wouldn’t know to be thankful for it.

I was cleaning out folders online this morning, and in “drafts” I found this, which I’d intended to send to Jo in Ireland.

Wish you were here. Baking some of my killer brownies to take to the singles' function tonight.
Brother Right will not be there, LOL, but Brother Sushi, my best male friend, will be cremating my burger for me. Which reminds me: I need to portion and season my meat. We can get [not labeled as] longhorn beef, which is only 4% fat, and I have a George Foreman grill, and it's *heaven*. But tonight it will be cooked outside, over some sort of heathenish flame, and I hope to heaven I don't wind up with somebody's Fatburger, LOL.

I drafted it the night that I met Brother Abacus. Talk about irony! [Not to mention prophecy!] I am sure that he would be Brother Right for somebody else, but he most emphatically was not mine.

I do believe that today I will focus my energies, between Conference sessions, on the kitchen. That is the room where my greatest conflicts and insecurities remain. And I have five times as much stuff as I need for in there, and half as much space to put it. The pantry looks tidy and respectable. The file cabinet/desk/future island is in place with a bajillion boxes on top of it. OK, only one, but lots of other stuff. But there are 11 more boxes stacked in the middle of the floor. And probably half a dozen more here in the dining room, only two of which are labeled. And I honestly don't know if any of the boxes in the living room should be in the kitchen, because at that point we were just shoving things into boxes and waiting for the truck.

I have found my white rubber shelf mats [the noise-dampening thingies that don’t attract bugs, unlike shelf paper], and I know where my utility scissors are if I need to trim them down. That would be a good start.

I made myself a nice bowl of apple oatmeal about an hour ago. And now I am torn between firing up the oven to bake some biscuits, and retiring to my boudoir for a few rows of knitting. I think the biscuits will win out, in the short run. [Must keep up all this newfound energy.] Hrmmm, do I remember where the baking parchment is?

Oh, more lateral thinking: I was having great difficulty breaking the seal on a fresh bottle of apple juice to make my oatmeal. I ended up grabbing a fondue fork and using it to whittle the little tags away. It was either that, or wake LittleBit, and I didn’t think she’d appreciate being rousted at dark-thirty so I could make oatmeal, which she is not overly fond of. [Now if I couldn’t have opened the Nutella, that would have been another thing entirely.]

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Saturday, everybody!

This feels more like it. I have a perfectly eloquent post trapped in my computer at work, that I forgot to forward to myself at home before shutting down the popsicle stand for the weekend. I’ll see if I can remember to do that on Monday.

After a Thursday that felt like “this is supposed to be an improvement?”, I had a terrific day yesterday. And last night I got eight hours of sleep, in two installments. I woke at 4:00 [can’t seem to get away from that somehow] and have begun the process of re-hydrating myself. I think that a cup of milk and a handful of gingersnaps is a lovely way to start the weekend.

I’ve already worked three rows on MS3 but needed to get up and stretch a little. I’m trying to figure out reasonable goals for the weekend. The most important and time-consuming items to factor in are the four broadcasts from Salt Lake, which I discovered last time that I can access on my computer, so I do not have to get dressed up and head over to the meetinghouse. This is General Conference weekend, one of my favorite times of the year, when the leaders of our church address us on what I think of as practical Christianity.

We have the scriptures to read on a daily basis, and I love them. I particularly enjoy listening to my Book of Mormon on CD as I drive to and from work; it’s almost impossible to feel road rage when your mind and heart are occupied by “yea, verily” and “inasmuch as” and “it came to pass that”.

For me, as an adult convert to the church, General Conference and other specialized meetings are like spiritual vitamins or booster shots. They help me translate theory into actual behavior. I have particular favorites among the General Authorities of the church, and I always hope that we’ll hear a talk from them. I will miss President Faust, who died in August. A lot of his talks recently have been addressed to the singles in the church, and they have been comforting as well as thought-provoking. I’m sure that in the business portion of Conference they will announce [and we will sustain] his successor as Second Counselor to President Hinckley.

We had the annual Women’s Broadcast last weekend, and when the Conference issue of the Ensign comes out in November, all the talks from both General Conference and the Women’s Broadcast will be published. The church also hosts Women’s Conference at BYU every spring and publishes selections from those addresses the following year. Which reminds me that I haven’t picked up the latest volume; that would be a good incentive to get my room in order.

We are also celebrating Lark’s birthday tomorrow after the final session of Conference. I will need to remember to stop unpacking and puttering long enough to put a salad together.

In terms of mundane goals, I know that the kitchen cabinets need my attention. I haven’t really cooked since we started moving, just fired up a couple of packages of ramen noodles here and there. Mostly it’s been eating out and eating leftovers from eating out, and making sandwiches. I was fantasizing about wild rice as I drove home last night. Hey, you have your fantasies, and I’ll have mine, OK? And I can’t do much in the way of cooking until I figure out where the measuring cups have gotten to.

The other area would be my room. The “tower” bookcase is marooned in a sea of boxes. The under-bed boxes are not particularly near the bed, and I can’t get to the closet to hang up the clean clothes that I washed earlier this week. I’ve just been pulling them out of the bag and shaking them out and throwing them on. And the second “mid-sized” bookcase predictably came apart during the move last week, so I need to clear enough floor space that I can lay it down and staple-gun the cardboard backing in place. [Yes, I do know where the staple gun is. Same place as the staples: in the toolbox on the couch, and easily in reach.]

I also want to put up the curtain rods for the drapes that are at the cleaners, and I can’t get to those windows yet.

If I were to get the kitchen more or less in shape, enough that I can cook up what’s in the pantry, well that would be great. And if I were to get all the books stowed in my room, and the windows prepared, and only the dirty clothes in bags so I wouldn’t have to remember which bag is which, that would be even better.

The Sabbath Scarf is unlikely to see any action, as the only time I hope to need to leave the apartment is to take LittleBit to work, and to go to the kids’ for Lark’s birthday. But I hope to finish Clue 6 on MS3 before bedtime tomorrow night. I can’t believe that the Harlot has not only caught up, but passed me by. She went from Clue 5 to Clue 7 almost overnight. She must sleep less than I do, or have bionic fingers!

Friday, October 05, 2007

C-PAP, 2BDH, and oh cr@p [another fundraiser]

In which your intrepid heroine answers a few questions, makes a few observations, and attempts to go back to sleep.

Tinks ~
Re: your response to yesterdy’s post about what to do when the Congestion Fairy pays a visit, my considered answer is “I don’t know yet”. There was something mentioned about congestion and the C-PAP in my owner’s manual, that I vaguely recall from when I was trying to put it together and get it going on Wednesday night. I *think* it said that if you are seriously congested, you might have to do without the C-PAP until the congestion is cleared up. I’ll have a better idea once I (A) finish reading the owner’s manual and (B) get through the coming winter, also known as bronchitis season around here.

Rorek ~
1BDH = Firstborn’s DH or Firstborn’s Dear Husband
2BDH = Secondborn’s DH
3BDH = your hubby. [Or since you prefer “Middlest”, would you also prefer MDH? Although that makes him sound a little like MDF, medium density fiberboard.]
Fiancé or 4BF = the not-yet-official son
I am not allowed to call any of LittleBit’s boyfriends the BDJ [Boy du Jour]. Darn.

Oh cr@p, another fundraiser ~
For some strange reason, every time I type I type the expletive directly into my Blogger window, it formats as hyperlink. But when I type it in Word and paste, it does not.

It is the 5th of October. We have already had two fundraisers for choir, and this week LittleBit brought one home from her metalshop class. Yes, she is taking metalshop this year, and she is the best welder in the class, which irritates the fire out of her male classmates.

I learned when she brought the fundraiser home that metalshop is part of FFA. We live in the largest suburban area in the US that does not have public transportation, and like Wanda and MaryAnn, she is “active in the FFA”. [I guess that’s consistent with our family history of urban farming. Twenty years ago I was gathering eggs and milking goats on 7/10ths of an acre in an old neighborhood of another large suburb.]

I don’t do fundraisers, as a rule. I didn’t do PTA, I loathe “Meet the Teacher” nights. I did buy a Passbook this year [choir fundraiser #1] because there are coupons in there that I will use which will recoup the cost of the book. [I wonder where it is? I hope I find it before it expires.] I did not support the second fundraiser, because I’ve already paid $40 for her uniform rental and another $35 related to All State Choir, and there are the monthly voice lessons, which I am more than happy to pay for because she will be singing all her life.

The choir director says that it’s not a class, it’s a lifestyle. Sorry, I’m not buying that. Or maybe I should say that I’m just cherry-picking the sales bins. I couldn’t do all this for her big sisters; we were too poor. And I feel frustrated and guilty because circumstances have changed, and I’m able to do more for her than I was for them. [This would be a good place for any of my kids who happen to read this blog to say “There, there, Mom, you did your best, and we’re not jealous. Really.” I’d like to get it notarized, and bronzed, and what’s the fancy word for museum-quality framing that will preserve it forever?]

C-PAP Day One ~
Pretty much a disaster in my book. I was OK until about 9:30 [my workday starts at 8:30], and then I had to crack open my bottle of Cherry Coke that I was hoping would remain hermetically sealed throughout the eternities. I think I dozed off half a dozen times throughout the day. Barely made it home. Had to pass on Lark’s choir concert. Skipped dinner, set the alarm on my cell phone, threw my clothes on top of a pile of boxes, and plugged myself in for the night, around 6:30. Woke at 9:30. Woke again at 12:55.

I’ve been up for about and hour and a half, and at the moment I feel the way I wish I’d felt all day yesterday. I finished the bottle of cranberry/apple/raspberry juice that I brought home on Wednesday, and a couple slices of whole grain potato bread with the last of the cream cheese. So I’m no longer starving.

I can’t decide if I want to go back to bed for an hour and a half or stay up and knit and hope that today goes better than yesterday.

What would Rip Van Winkle do?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Luke... I am your mother

I am definitely in the wrong business. I took the drapes in to the dry cleaners before dropping the girls at school yesterday. They gave me a discount of $9 per panel, because there are no pleats, just simple cleaning and pressing. Ordinarily they charge $15 a panel! I have four damask panels and four panels of that long off-white fringe that looks like Cher’s Infinite Farewell Tour. For $120, I would have had massive heart failure requiring the presence of silver-haired paramedics with twinkly eyes. For $72, I just have a stomachache.

Why do they need cleaning, you ask? I’ve gone 55 years without taking drapes to the cleaners, why start now? Because I think I discovered the source of those pesky albino moths that liked to kiss my computer screen at dark-thirty. When I took down the drapes, there were cocoons and empty pupae in the folds of the drapes. Serious ewww-ness! I am a girly-girl but not a screamy-girl, so I grabbed handful after handful of newspaper and whisked the mess into the trash.

It seemed wise to make sure there were no more surprises lurking in the rod pockets and hems.

I also drove past the new temple of football-ness on the way to work yesterday. There are big curvy steel thingies rising high into the air. Presumably this time around the Cowboys have enough money to put a lid on their stadium and keep all the stupidity inside?

No apologies to any of you who are football fans. I hate, loathe, and despise football. I went to a real rah-rah high school where if you were in the pep club, it meant that you had to stand and scream for the entire length of the game. I lasted one semester, sold my uniform, and used the money to buy the needlepoint canvas that was my Christmas present to Mom, but which I did the actual work on.

It took about three years to finish it, because we did not yet have a decent needlework shop, and the manager of the notions department at the department store was somewhat indifferent about reordering materials – until we learned that one of Mom’s co-workers at the hospital was the son of the general manager of the department store, and then I got a personal phone call from Mr. Manager asking me exactly how many skeins of DMC tapestry yarn I needed in each color, and would I like it yesterday?

I still hate football. But when I married the children’s father, I bought my wedding gown from that department store because I was so pleased with Mr. Manager.

Holy Cow, I’m ahead of the Harlot on MS3? I finished Clue 5 before I went to bed last night, and she’s mid-Clue-5 as of her posting? [OK, she finished a book. I finished the Eternal Move. And I’m still ahead?] We will chalk this up to her having three teenagers chez elle, whereas I only have one, and a fairly low-maintenance one at that.

Yesterday was my day for seeing things. I saw a bumper sticker for the Texas Archeological Society. I could be a member in good standing, after our recent move. I saw the company that dispensed my C-PAP, and got it properly fitted to my head, and reams of instructions. I saw my sleep specialist, who was alarmed that my subjective scoring on the sleepiness scale was worse than last time, until I told her I had only just picked up my machine. I get to see her again in a month.

The nosepiece on my machine is different from the one I used in my second sleep study. It looks a little like a displaced SCUBA mouthpiece, with two little jobbies that nestle in my nose. And it is wa-a-a-ay more comfortable than the other one. I didn’t quite sleep through the night, but I didn’t wake as often as last time, and there was no pain or discomfort around my upper lip, just a little weirdness as the pressure ramped up.

I have one harness to keep the contraption plugged into my face, and a second one to help keep my mouth closed. Think of the worst case of hat hair you have ever had, and multiply it by a factor of a gazillion. I haven’t tried to fluff-and-spray my hair yet. Usually I only have to wash it every other day. But if I can’t get it to stand up and salute on Day Two, that may have to change.

Oh, and I sound like Mrs. Darth Vader. [Hence the blog title.] But I woke a few minutes before my alarm, and I’ve already done the first row on Clue 6 of MS3. This has all the makings of one terrific day.

Postscript: The most important things I saw yesterday were not things. I dropped LittleBit at work and drove over to Foat-Wuth-Ah-Luv-Yew to see Secondborn and 2BDH and the Bitties.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In a Cracker Jack Box

And the musical question is, “Where did you get your driver’s license?” I was fulminating about the humanoid who occupied the best parking space at the PO this morning [yes, it’s my week to go get the early portion of the mail] with no sign of going in to get his mail or ever moving from the spot – I had to circle the block four times before I found a space – and I was mourning the melted ice cream leftover from my breakfast during early morning seminary.

The rationale for ice cream at breakfast? The car needed gas, and we needed hot chocolate, and then we saw the Blue Bell display, and they had pints of Chocolate Covered Cherries, our favorite. The seminary teacher shakes her head over some of the things that LittleBit eats during seminary: a pint of ice cream one day; cold pizza another; two strawberry kolaches and two Bavarian cream kolaches, with the un-jellied portions nibbled away, and then the jellied portions placed jelly-sides-touching and consumed in a ladylike number of bites; and sometimes a Breakfast Jack or a bacon potato taquito. [We are nothing if not omnivorous! Sometimes we even have cereal or yogurt or smoothies or cinnamon toast. I know, that’s really pushing things, but every so often you just have to step outside your comfort zone and try something conventional.]

So, there I was pulling away from the PO with the little dab of mail that hardly justified the trip, around the humanoid who was still parked in prime space, navigating among the construction barriers, signaling for my turn, and realizing that I had turned exactly one block too soon and was nosing into a one-way street, the wrong way. I immediately said, “Oh Cr@p!” and saw that nobody was coming. I still had time to nose back out again. All this to the immense and gently-grinning amusement of the guy waiting to cross at the crosswalk.

This is what happens when you think you are functioning reasonably well for someone who fell asleep about midnight and woke at the usual 4:00. And it is a trenchant reminder of what one of my old boyfriends used to say about pointing a finger at someone and finding several more pointing right back at you.

Which reminds me of something that happened when Firstborn was about three and a half. I was not the type to voice my opinion of the driving abilities of my fellow motorists. [That would be the other parental unit, who learned to drive in NYC. No cussing; lots of yelling.] One day I was out shopping with Firstborn and her baby sister. We hit a pothole in the parking lot at the Big Box Store, and the car shuddered and lurched. Firstborn’s little head whipped around toward the back window, and she hollered indignantly, “You jerk!”, because she thought somebody had hit the back of our car.

I told her that nobody had hit us.

“Oh. [long, thoughtful pause] So *you’re* the jerk, Mommy?”

A foreshadowing of what the years between 11 and 19 or so would bring. It is a testimony that the age of miracles has not passed, how well she and I get along these days. And a lot of the credit for that goes to 1BDH, who kept telling her when they were first together, “You need to talk to your mother.” “Give your mom a call.” He has been so good for her, and to her. Not perfect, any more than she or I are, but a good man at heart long before he rededicated himself to Christian principles. And such a good father to Lark and to her sister Willow, who in the strictest legal sense is not related to any of us, but is nonetheless his child and therefore Firstborn’s daughter, and my beloved grandchild.

I love that in gaining my second son, I immediately became a grandmother. People ask me, “How old are your kids?” and I start working my way down the list from 29 to 17. “How old are your grandkids?” and Willow will be 20 this week, Lark 14 next week, BittyBit 3 a few days after Christmas, and we are sneaking up on three months for BittyBubba.

It was so much fun to stop at Firstborn’s last night to pick up that last load of wash and observe Lark giving my best friend’s twin grandsons a bit of Soccer 101. They are new to the game and playing with kids who have played for a couple of years. They’ve had one practice and two games and not a whole lot of fun yet because they have no idea what the coach wants them to do, and when he rotates and substitutes, they think they’ve done something wrong. Lark is a good tutor for them; they like her, and she likes them, and she’s wonderfully patient with kids.

This whole athletic thing is all pretty new for me. I’ve told Lark that while I am proud of her for her athletic ability, it’s something I don’t relate to at all. She can pretty much count on me to be there for her choir stuff and the occasional indoor game [she plays volleyball as well as soccer], but if it involves fresh air and sunshine and pollen and getting sweaty, no. I take medicines that stipulate I should minimize my exposure to sunshine.

Most of my girls have found physical activities that they like. We all love music, and most of us are excellent dancers, and some like walking and yoga and rollerblading and kickboxing. LittleBit is the most relentlessly physical of us all; she wanted to play soccer, and she likes paintball. But we are all very much girly girls, and none of us is built for running. So my sons have opened up a new world for me: 1BDH plays soccer and builds race cars, and 2BDH is a black belt in tae kwon do, and Middlest’s hubby is in the Navy and has gone from semi-sedentary computer geek to Drop-and-Give-Me-50 Fit Military Geek. Fourthborn’s fiancé is perhaps the most deceptive; he looks like your basic starving artist, almost as skinny as he was in high school, but he is redneck-once-removed, and he can work like a son of a gun.

My dad would have loved these guys and related to them. Dad grew up as a Colorado farm boy who never walked if he could run. He learned how to drive when he could barely see over the steering wheel. I think he was eight? And when I was a baby and my sister was a teenager, he could beat all her male friends in tennis, but he wasn’t the nasty-competitive sort. He was just that good. When I was in high school and he was pushing 70, we played badminton, and I had to work for every point, but again he wasn’t being mean about it.

I only just realized it while typing, but I think I get my vigor from him. [And some from Mom’s mom, who could outwork all of us combined until she broke her hip in her early 7o’s. Mom was a strong, resilient woman, but she was in awe of all that Gram was able to accomplish.] This has been a year of one physical challenge after another – following closely on the heels of a year that was full of emotional challenges – and I am deeply tired, but I am not exhausted. Now that we are out of the old apartment, even though we are surrounded by dozens and dozens of boxes, and dust, and chaos, I feel as if I am beginning to catch my breath.

I need to find my printer paper; I have five rows left on the current chart for MS3, and I need to print off Clue 6. And I’m wondering if I can catch another hour of sleep before the alarm goes off.

I wore my new skirt to work yesterday, salt and pepper tweed with black lace at the hem. Very “Stevie Nicks flirts with Ralph Lauren”. And on my feet, I discovered about 10:30 yesterday morning, socks that I only *thought* were black. I need brighter light bulbs in my new boudoir!

When the dust settles and my toes are completely healed and I feel like knitting socks again, I want to make a pair of lacy black ones to go with this skirt. And hrmmm, I wonder if the languishing Elann crop cardi would go with the new skirt or if it would bring down the Tweed Police upon me?