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!

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Miscellaneous Ramblings

A whole new world:
It never ceases to amaze me how much better and brighter life is when I stop to clean my spectacles.

Christmas gift catalogues:
I looked at the gift assortment on the back cover of a catalogue which came for an attorney who used to work at our firm. The contents are attractively packaged in a burgundy embossed tin. There is a burgundy plate peeking up among the alleged goodies; also pleasing to the eye. And there is an amazing combination of comestibles. I would naturally think of combining chocolate-covered nuts and imported cookies and upscale toffee. [Because in my world there are no calories between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.] It would not have occurred to me that bottled asparagus, smoked salmon, and ripe Camembert belonged in the same basket, though I am rather fond of two out of three of them.

This is what-all went into the basket:
Dark chocolate covered almonds
Dark and milk chocolate truffles
Sesame crackers
Pickled asparagus spears
Garlic crackers
Smoked salmon
Chocolate covered raisins
Milk chocolate
Dark chocolate
Strawberry cashew crunch
Butter waffle cookies
Hazelnut chocolate
Double chocolate chip cookies
Cinnamon roasted cashews
Serving dish
[No partridge. No pear tree.]

Who decides what “goes together”? And what are their criteria? Is it a matter of packing as many small packets of overpriced edibles into a container, or do they try to choose items that might make an enjoyable meal?

I was sitting in an empty classroom at seminary and caught bits of the lesson. They are studying the Old Testament, and yesterday they were discussing clean and unclean, both in terms of food and oneself, and relating it to our day. The teacher asked if any of them had ever gossiped about someone, explained that that was a trespass, and then they looked up trespass offering in Leviticus to compare what was required back then to become ritually clean and what is required now to become spiritually whole.

She also commented that in terms of deciding whether a food is appropriate to eat, if we knew it was something the Savior ate during his mortal ministry, it was logical to assume that we could eat it. So, fish are definitely kosher, even though several of my daughters would tell you that fish are icky. And bread [yay for bread, and thbpppp to the anti-carb crowd!]. And honeycomb. Though I think I will pass on the grasshoppers and locusts. I hope I will never need protein quite that badly.

She mentioned that there are animals named in the scriptures that we do not necessarily know what they are, “coney” being one of them. I went up to her after class and told her that I thought I remembered reading that it was an old word for a rabbit or hare. She deputized me to find out and let her know.

I went to dictionary.com and learned that it might be a fish, but it was probably a European rabbit. Though it could be a woodchuck or a guinea pig. According to one of the definitions it translates from the Hebrew as rock-badger. [I would certainly not want to try to trap, kill, and clean a badger. Ewww!] Hyrax syriacus, to be specific.

Some of the etymologies were amusing, and some a little disturbing.

And I wondered, as we walked out the door to the car, if that was where Coney Island got its name. According to one of the definitions, it *was* named for all the rabbits that used to be there. I am thinking of the famous line from Of Mice and Men, but umm, no, sorry, I am not *quoting* it.

Funny the places your mind takes you.

Changing directions now:
OK, is the moon full, or is it just me? [Brief scrabbling about on the internet to determine that we are now experiencing a third-quarter moon, effective tomorrow. Which means that it must be me. And which led to some major burbling, down near the bottom of this post.]

Why did I ask? Read on, MacDuff! [Which led to another instructive diversion. See “memorable lines”.]

To my esteemed coworkers:
Please do not mess up my desk. I do a very good job of it all by myself. I know that it looks as if anything that you did would not be noticeable.

I would notice.

Please do not rifle through my in-basket [unless, of course, you want to take something out and do it yourself].

Please squelch your OCD urge to push in a red-rope folder that is pulled out. Yes, I know that it looks prettier when they are all lined up like ducks in a row. I completely agree with you on that point. But the one that is sticking out, is the one I am working on, and it’s out as a visual aid for my memory.

Because while I am opening and removing staples from the incoming mail that was dropped into that folder, I am also:
1. fielding forty-three phone calls
2. pulling and stapling seven incoming faxes [faxes come *out* of incoming mail but go *into* incoming faxes; it’s another visual aid that serves to distinguish between the two, for the primary scanning operator and me]
3. scanning a half-inch-thick sheaf of discovery
4. noting on the “whereabouts” sheet that Attorney A is heading out for a deposition and Attorney B is going home with a migraine
5. telling opposing counsel’s paralegal that she is my new best friend because she has the insurance company’s claim number for the case on which she wants me to find out if Attorney C is still representing the defendant
6. flirting with the UPS man

And I need a little help to make sure that the opened-and-unstapled mail goes back into the proper red-rope so that it doesn’t get scanned into another attorney’s electronic “correspondence” folder by mistake.

And while we are on the subject of “thou-shalt-nots”? Please, oh please, do not tap on the glass door when you want me to let you into the office and have forgotten your card key. I am not a fish. This is not an aquarium. But I get just as disturbed as the poor fish do when you startle me like that, though I am less likely to eat my young as a result. [Yes, I do believe I’ve posted on this subject before, or maybe just ranted in my weekly grats; it bears repeating.]

In the “silly me” department, here is where my hands have been taking me:
I finished Clue 2 on the November Mystery Socks at work today. And I took along Clue 3, to begin the heel flaps. But I forgot to take along the directions for Clue 2, because I had long since memorized the pattern, and thus I did not know how many stitches are supposed to be saved for the instep and how many are to go into the heel flaps.

So there I was with not one but two stalled socks. Thankfully, I had remembered to take the Stripedy Sock and the directions for its heel. Ready for our heel flaps, we are. And curious about how to turn 42 rows (!) of heel flap into something that will fit my foot, rather than serve as an emergency runway for a 747.

In the “stating the obvious” department:
Dudes, there’s a *comet* out there! Bigger than the sun! And of course I have been singularly unaware of it, because I do not watch the news or read the news magazines, and because it is most easily visible after my bedtime.

It had an outburst last month, something it did back in 1892 when it was first discovered, and it may have a second one around New Years Day because that happened 75 days after the first eruption, way back when. For others of you with your noses in your knitting, this is Comet Holmes, named not for our good friend Sherlock, but for his un-imaginary and very properly British cousin Edwin.

Here’s a map for finding it, courtesy of space.com

And now I know what to do with this yarn:

Comet Holmes Socks! From the yarn that Micki gave me! Now I just have to design them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis a Puzzlement, said the King of Siam

I found a link to BeliefNet’s Belief-O-Matic Quiz on the “Knitting Our Way to Peace” group at Ravelry:

You’ll get an ad [which I cheerfully ignored] and then the quiz. Here’s how I came out:

1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
2. Mainline to conservative Christian/Protestant
3. Jehovah’s Witness
4. Mainline to liberal Christian Protestants
5. Eastern Orthodox
6. Orthodox Quaker
7. Roman Catholic
8. Bahá’i Faith
9. Orthodox Judaism
10. Seventh Day Adventist
11. Islam

I think my bishop and my Relief Society president would be pleased if they knew that my study of doctrine [and my ability to decipher some of those quiz questions] gave me results that are consistent with my beliefs.

I know a lot about my own faith and doctrine and a little something about the others on the list. Sometimes a *very* little something. I was quite surprised to see #4, because I am not mainline anything, unless it’s mainlining chocolate, and I think that most days the only thing I am liberal with is sharing my opinions.

In light of my gaffe yesterday, I have been doing more thinking than usual on the topics of repentance and the law of the harvest [reaping what one sows].

When I first investigated the church, I was taught that the repentance process consists of: 1) recognition of the sin or error; 2) remorse; 3) restitution; and 4) resolve not to repeat the sin or error. I have read more in-depth and eloquent treatments of the subject, but this is simple enough for me to remember from day to day.

I think one defining difference between adulthood and childhood, is that an adult holds himself accountable for his choices. And I think that a large part of the civilizing process consists of making small good choices, or small course corrections, over and over until the desire to do right is knit into our hearts and our bones.

When I was younger, it was all too easy to confess somebody else’s sins. Somebody did A, so I did B, therefore I could not possibly be blamed. “No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible”, said Voltaire and Stanislaw Jerzy Lec and George Burns [Gracie’s George Burns?] and my friend Sooz. I certainly did a lot of this kind of thinking during and after divorcing the children’s father. You know, I am not sure that I ever really left that train of thought after my first divorce; I think I rode it into the second marriage like Charlie on the MTA.

One of the silver linings of all these years of single blessedness is that I’ve had time and space to think, to see my own contributions to the implosion of a twenty-year marriage, and to maybe learn the lessons. I would very much like a third marriage, whether on this side of the veil of mortality, or in the great straightening-out period that will be the Millenium – when I will presumably be well and truly dead, and [hopefully] past mortal foolishness– to be one that will stand the tests of time, and endure through the eternities.

Yesterday was supposed to be the day that we got LittleBit’s learner’s permit. I took my last half hour of PT, and an hour of comp time that I got at the support staff meeting earlier this month, and I drove like a bat-out-of-Houston to pick her up, and we had a notebook full of lessons 1 and 2, everything but the Power Point presentations, and our forms, and her newly-found SS card and state ID, and my DL, and…

The school didn’t fill out the form that we gave them for proof of enrollment; they have their *own* form on their letterhead, and LittleBit’s day didn’t take her back by the office to pick it up.

I didn’t bark at her, because she already felt so disappointed. I just remarked calmly as we were buckling up in the car, sometimes being a grownup means realizing that you’ve shot yourself in the foot and then dealing with the consequences, and that it happens to me a lot.

Thankfully, I’m already scheduled to be off next Tuesday, because Willow will be in town, and she and Firstborn are taking all the grandmas to lunch. So I’ll have a nice lunch with my oldest daughter and my oldest granddaughter and at least one of the other grandmothers [who used to be my favorite library lady, back in the day], and then I’ll pick up LittleBit from school, and we’ll have all the paperwork ready, and we’ll just be six days behind schedule. And we’ll have more of the book-larnin’ checked off.

Maybe because I was calm with my kid, maybe because most things that used to infuriate me barely faze me, maybe because I prayed for my friend’s daughter who had surgery today to make sure that an earlier surgery caught all the cancerous tissue, and for LittleBit’s boyfriend who had a major endurance test as a newbie Marine today, maybe all these things were little seeds of do-unto-other-ness that blossomed when a woman who could have hauled my thoughtless self into court, didn’t.

Some days it seems to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time making things right. Sewing on a button that popped off. Darning a sock, because I am not going to just throw away half of a $24 pair.

Apologizing. Learning a new way to do something that doesn’t hurt somebody’s feelings or tread on one of their rights. Being exquisitely aware of my fallibility as a human being.

How little time that leaves to know that I did the right thing at the right time, and for the right reasons. [Instead of just thinking that I am right.]

Other neat but not earth-shattering stuff: found the legs for my sweater-drying rack and am washing up two pairs of socks and you don’t want know how many pairs of pantyhose and knee high hose that I found in a box.

After receiving the gracious note from Author, I took my knitting over to the couch and listened to #27 of the KnitPicks podcast, Kelley’s interview with Crazy Aunt Purl. And with each round knitted on the sock, I could feel the tension leaching out of my body. To the degree that somewhere around three-fourths of the way through the podcast, I dozed off, only to waken when LittleBit called and asked me to pick her up from work.

Those days, boy howdy, are numbered.

And I wore the de-hoochified new skirt to work yesterday, with a pale banana yellow T-shirt and the stretch corduroy jacket to which I’d reattached that button over the weekend, and my Samhain scarf from Jo’s yarn. Lots and lots of compliments on my ensemble. I felt like a queen until LittleBit came as I was standing in front of her restaurant and said, “Um, Mom, your lining is tucked up in your undies.”

So much for the de-hoochification. She grinned, “At least you’re wearing underwear. Be glad for that!”

She will take a picture of me in the new skirt, etc., some morning when my face is rested and does not bear mute witness of the kind of day I had yesterday. And after making sure that I’m properly decorous.

And a postscript to the photo, above, which I snapped last night before bed. After lovingly lifting both socks out of their warm happy bath, I discovered three holes in the other sock. I am too frugal to throw them away, so I will be carefully frogging them once they are dry and recycling the yarn into something like unto Fetching. I loved these socks, and I always wished I had made them longer. [I used the International Sock of Doom pattern, which makes for a fast knit and a decent fit, but a shorter-than-I-would-like cuff.]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An expensive mistake, and a public apology

When I came home from work tonight, there was a comment to approve:
“My name is Linda S Amstutz and I am the author and registered copyright holder of the essay ‘IF MY BODY WERE A CAR’. Publishing this essay without my permission is copyright infringement and a federal offense.”

Here is the link to her website, which I found after some Googling. I checked. It’s a real copyright, all right.

Here is my response to her and to her agent:

Dear Ms. Amstutz and Ms. Smith,

Thank you for bringing my infringement of your copyright to my attention. As you may surmise, your essay was forwarded to me without attribution.

My mailing address is: [given]

I have removed the quotation from my website, and I will post a public apology. I am also bookmarking your webpage as a handy reminder to triple-check before I post anything not written by *me*.

I quite understand if you bill me the $750 for inappropriately quoting you. I will need to pay it out over time, as I am a single mother with extremely limited resources. But my parents raised me to be honest, and I am certainly willing to accept the consequences of sloppy editing.

Yours very truly,
[A very red-faced me.]

Insert childbirth words here.

Edited to add that I just received a very gracious response from the author.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Movies vs. real life

My friend Julie posted this movie review on her blog. She commented that if the reviewer disliked it so much, she was sure to love it. Her mom [my best friend] and I were talking about that; she said that he never seems to like movies that normal people would enjoy, but if it is dark or depressing, he gives it rave reviews.

The reviewer said that Cinderella and Ariel and Belle are all fine examples of spunky Disney heroines [though he doesn’t seem all that thrilled with traditional role models for women]. I’d say that he got one out of three right. Cinderella has charm and grace, but I do not find her particularly spunky. She is good, in the insipid manner of many a B-movie heroine. And Ariel is just a brat who lucks out, regaining her voice and winning the love of a clueless but handsome male. [I am not bashing men in general; I am bashing Prince Eric specifically.]

As far as I’m concerned, Belle is the first *intelligent* Disney heroine. She reads, she thinks, and she is not fooled by that handsome, swaggering bully Gaston. Unlike Ariel, who just wants more, Belle is willing to sacrifice her comfort and her future to save the life of her father. The beast wins her love not through overwhelming masculinity, but by offering her a gift that is meaningful: free rein in his library. [Much the same as the hero of Phenomenon, who buys the chairs of the woman he loves.]

This would correspond in my world to Brother Right owning a used bookstore, a yarn shop, a llama herd, and an Arthur Murray franchise.

Me, I like Movie Mom over on Yahoo! though I’m having a hard time finding her these days.

Movies that I’ve watched over the past few days: The Illusionist, which I loved because of the golden and red color light in which it’s photographed, the costuming, the soundtrack, and protagonists that I found far more compelling than those in The Prestige.

Hairspray, which I adored. Fourthborn called me on Saturday night and asked if I had seen it. I hadn’t, so she brought it over. Love John Travolta, loved the costumes and the singing and the dancing and the sly wit of the lyrics. Loved seeing Elijah Kelley, who danced in Take the Lead.

Much fun, and snippets of soundtrack are still bouncing off the walls of my brainpan this morning.

LittleBit and I went out in the field for drivers ed last night. We went down to the parking lot at church and used chalk to mark the space that Lorelai takes up vs. the space that needs to be our bubble of safety. We didn’t do anything like that when I took drivers ed almost 40 years ago. LittleBit is taking paperwork to school today, and I am taking a form to get notarized at work, so that we can go get her learner’s permit. If we have our ducks in a row, she may get to start driving to seminary in the morning, with me in the front seat next to her. We have *one month* to get this done before she turns 18 so we get the discount for drivers ed.

Knitting content? Here you go ~

It looks as if I’ll only need three repeats of Clue 2 to get me the length I want before working the heel. I’m off to seminary and to work on the other sock.

Sabbath Scarf II How-To

This is for my friend MA. I took the stitch pattern from Knitting on the Edge, p. 146, Diagonal Garter Stitch.

It’s a multiple of 5 stitches plus 2. All RS rows are knit. [That’s RS = right side, not RS = Relief Society. Just in case you were wondering.] So, first right side row, *P2, K3, all the way across, ending P2. And knit back.

Very easy pattern to memorize. I cast on 42 stitches, on size 4 Addi Lace needles, with KnitPicks Gloss. [More of the yarn leftover from Brother Sushi's tie.] If I had wanted an outdoor scarf, I would ramp those needles down or use a thicker yarn. I just wanted something to keep my neck and traps happy at work. The fabric turned out supple but not floppy. I just flipped my knitting to the wrong side and figured out what I needed to do to get that bar of garter stitch to move one stitch to the right, and did that. If you wanted your pattern to move in the other direction, you would just move the bar of garter stitch one stitch to the left.

I knitted until I ran out of yarn, and it finished up about one-third wider than the blue Sabbath Scarf. And I think about a third shorter, but don’t quote me on that one.

When it was about 70% done, I realized that it wasn’t supposed to be for me, at all. So it will go out in the mail tomorrow.

What I would do differently, next time? I would do a garter-stitch border all the way around, as I did on the blue scarf, slipping the first stitch on each row as if to purl. It would make for neater edges and easier blocking.

Why is it so pleasing visually? Ask my buddy, Brother Fibonacci.

On other fronts, much progress on the November Mystery Socks. It is ever so much easier to stick with the leg pattern using Magic Loop. I completed eight rows of a sixteen-row repeat on one sock before church, and 24 rows on the other sock during my meetings. I am about ready to curl up on the couch with a video and my knitting until the home teachers come over, or until LittleBit calls me to come get her from work. Pictures, perhaps, tomorrow.

With this pattern, I learned a new technique for cabling without a needle. If you have a two-stitch right cross, K2tog and leave it on the left needle. Then fish down into the first of those stitches, the rightmost one, and K through it, and pull both stitches off onto your right needle. Try it! Is that not cool?

Much progress ~ nearly to the heel turning ~ on the Stripedy Socks yesterday. Enough knitting that my poor abused left forefinger cried ENOUGH! from the poking of the 00’s. I have acquired the habit of pushing both needle tips with the pads of my fingers. With 4’s all I feel is a bit of pressure. The 00’s are pointy enough that they can poke holes in my finger if I’m not careful.

I plugged in our folk art Christmas tree after church today. The only place I could find clear floor space *and* a wall plug, was behind the dining room table. So the constant plugging and unplugging is going to be a bit of a pain, but it sure is pretty [what I can see of it].

I continue to be amazed and impressed by the excellent customer service at this new apartment complex. I called them on Thanksgiving afternoon because I had no heat, and because the thermostat gave me an impressive light show when I shifted from AC to heat. He was here within 15 minutes, put in a new thermostat immediately, came back promptly the next day to finish the job, came back within ten minutes yesterday when my commode had bubbles coming up from the exit pipe [I’m sure there’s a technical term for it, but I don’t speak Plumberese] and then when I flushed, uh-oh! Lesson learned: if the commode is gargling, do not aggravate it. Thankfully, I had old towels in the bathroom from the recent block-fest, so the half cup of water that overflowed, was easily contained and no harm done.

The teacher in RS this morning asked for examples of things we were thankful for, and I told them how thankful I am for maintenance that shows up and is competent. One of the sisters wisecracked, “Do I hear wedding bells?” and I laughed and said, “No, he's young enough that I could have given birth to him, but he *is* my new best friend!”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holy Moly, What Have I Done?

I joined up on Wardrobe Refashion.

In the spirit of non-consumerism that simmered just under the surface of yesterday’s post, I have now pledged to buy *myself* no new clothing for the next two months. I can mend, remodel, sew from scratch, knit, crochet, hit the thrift store or the gently-worn shops, but no Coldwater Creek, Avenue, or those nifty stretch corduroy pants in the new L.L. Bean catalogue that I was contemplating.

As required by the terms of the website, here is The Pledge:
I [Lynn] pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftiness brings! Signed [Lynn].

Note: I tweaked a few typos on the pledge as written.

And here are The Rules:
1. No buying new! (handmade is excepted; So this allows for Etsy purchases etc!!) All clothing must be Recycled, Renovated, Preloved or Thrifted, or Handmade only for the term. Employment related and special needs clothing (ie sports, school), shoes and undies are excepted from the rules, although you are encouraged to have a go at making these.
2. In extreme circumstances, maybe a special event, or the world’s greatest and most amazing never to be repeated sale that you simply can not pass up, you may use the Get out of Refashionista Jail Free card. You are able to use this card once during the 2 month part of your contract; i.e., 1 for 2 months, 2 for 4 months etc. Of course you need to fess up on the blog and display the button! [This means that if the jacket I want at Coldwater Creek goes on sale for $22.50 before the 23rd of February, I am grabbing the cake with the file in it. It also means that I will not be buying those scarves I was eyeing at an online outlet, but *vintage* scarves on eBay are fair game, woohoo!]
3. You must post on the blog at least once a week to let the community know what you’ve been up to. This will not only give you brag points, but inspire and encourage others! Of course you need to display the button on your blog [check] and have copied the pledge in at least one post [check], and provide a link to your pledge under the button [check].
4. You need to be honest and admit when you’ve fallen off the Refashionista Wagon! Go directly to Refashionista Jail, do not pass GO and do not collect $200! Apply for parole once there.

In this spirit of fashion virtue and frugality, I present to you:

a. One button sewn back on:

b. The second cuff on November Mystery Sock:

c. Today’s agenda? Progress on a long-term UFO, the embellishment of a denim duster with recycled lace and silk ribbon embroidery. This is where it was when I picked it up again:

Detail of lapel:

My sister has a lovely denim jacket with a nosegay of silk flowers embroidered on it. Me? I’m going for that whole Palace Gardens at Versailles effect. It will probably not weigh as much when I am finished as the bodice to Firstborn’s wedding gown that I spent two and a half months beading, though I am using some of the leftover pearls and beads. But it may end up with its own area code, just from the visual noise. Have you ever known me to do things simply and tastefully when over the top will do?

Holy Moly some more -- I have 7 subscribers! Thank you, you make me blush! I have been puttering away, adding my own favorites to Bloglines and deleting bookmarks, which may drive down the Harlot’s numbers a little [are we there yet? are we there yet? what? no new column in the last 15 minutes?]. Eventually I will get everybody transferred over there, and then there will be no more, Did I read X today?

You may recall my nattering on about how the silk yarn and the bamboo needles were singing like unto Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald? Unfortunately, as you may guess from the rumpled ball that is attached to cuff #1, they are now bickering like Tommy and Dick Smothers. There was a major frogfest on Thursday night after the turkey-induced euphoria wore off. I ramped up to the 2.5mm needles and added five rounds in the leg pattern before dropping a stitch that went rappelling down the sock. I carefully frogged back and started over. Three rounds later, it happened again. I have just now put both cuffs on 2.5mm Addi Lace needles in the fervent hope that two points per sock will be more manageable than eight, and that the coating on the Lace needles will be grabby enough to keep the yarn singing on key.

LittleBit and I are planning to put in another two hours of parent-taught drivers ed before she needs to go to work. And I will *finally* get some face time with my best friend; we have been trying to get our schedules in sync for a couple of months. She called me yesterday afternoon, just before I took LittleBit to work, but as I had been up since 2:30 I knew I was likely to fall asleep mid-sentence, or on the road. So we opted for tonight.

What is with Blogger randomly inserting paragraph marks into my post? Every time I turn around, the spacing goes wonky on me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

We dragged LittleBit’s best friend’s boyfriend with us to 2BDH’s mother’s house for dinner. He took these photos outside on my camera after LittleBit had used the school’s camera to snap pictures for class.

Something I found in my inbox this morning, from my friend Leslye [sadly, blogless]:
[EDITED 11/28/2007 TO REMOVE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. "My name is Linda S Amstutz and I am the author and registered copyright holder of the essay 'IF MY BODY WERE A CAR'. Publishing this essay without my permission is copyright infringement and a federal offense." NOTE: THIS WAS SENT TO ME WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION. I AM ALWAYS HAPPY TO HONOR COPYRIGHTS. See blog post of 11/28/07.]

Another good column by Brother Goddard at Meridian Magazine.

And the timing is particularly apropos, as we sit in our warm apartments and houses, with cars that run and noses that don’t [huzzah!] and ponder the day ahead, which might as well be called Mammon Day. It’s payday for me, and I am waiting for the direct deposit to hit, so that I can stock up the fridge and the pantry before the crazies all get on the road.

I have gotten the same shiny temptations in my mailbox and inbox as everybody else. And I think that I have seldom felt more grateful for modest means. We have enough for our needs, and a little to spare: enough to work on our year’s supply, to save for the future, and to give mindfully to others. Most of my service is a gift of my time, and most of it is necessarily directed to members of my family, for whom and to whom I am responsible. But in a few short months I will have an empty nest, and it will be time to prayerfully ponder the best use of my time, talents, and other resources.

Nevertheless, it was with no small joy that I watched LittleBit come out of our apartment yesterday, before we headed to the family feast, wrapped up in the hoodie and scarf and mitts that I made her over the past year. She beamed as she got into the car and said, “Look, Mommy, I’m wearing everything you made me. And it’s all purple, and none of it matches!”

True, but all of it “goes”. That purple hat that you see on the ground behind BittyBit, is the only purple in that picture that did not flow through my hands.

Sorry, no pictures of BittyBubba yesterday. I was too busy eating or making faces at him to grab the camera away from LittleBit. But he’s getting *huge*. Not quite four months old, and already 17 lbs. and about to outgrow his infant carseat. He’s going to be a long tall drink of water like his dad!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Sabbath Scarf II is finished, and blocking as we speak.

She’s ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.

I [ahem] spent a lot of time on Ravelry yesterday, updating projects, joining new groups, posting on some of the boards. One of the things that I signed up for is the Sock Knitters Anonymous KAL, my choice between two projects. I chose the November Mystery Sock. I have the first sock cast on and am galloping down the cuff.

The color is a little warmer in real life.

It’s kindof neat to have the “notes” feature on Ravelry, where I can put down the details of my cast-on, what size needles, how I am tweaking the pattern already [rotated it one stitch to the right, so the end-of-needle transitions would not interrupt a P2 or K3 repeat], etc. I plan on eliminating SSS by casting on the second cuff as soon as the first is finished, as I only have eight of my Crystal Palace 0’s, and I need most of them to cast on over doubled needles. When I break two more needles, I’ll spring for another five-pack.

It is heavenly knitting with my DP’s for a change. There’s something very Zen about knitting a silk-blend yarn on bamboo needles; I love their liveliness. It’s almost as if the socks were singing as we go.

Trying to figure out percentage of completion [for Ravelry] on a pair of socks is going to be interesting. I figure 21 rounds for the cuff, 64 more to the heel flap, a whopping 42 rows of heel flap, and that is as far as the clues I have, take me. I haven’t downloaded the fourth clue yet. [I wonder if she’s up, basting the turkey?] So finishing one cuff would be about one-sixth of the length from cuff to heel turning, or one-twelfth of the sock, or one-twenty-fourth of the whole shebang? Assuming ~ always dangerous ~ that from the heel turning to the toe would be the same length?

Oye. At any rate, I am nearly done with the first cuff, and I am loving this first section of pattern, so much so that I had brief fantasies of designing an entire sweater for myself in laceweight or fingering yarn. We will blame that bit of insanity on reduced oxygen from this congestion, which is mercifully waning. But I am going to try it in the Denim Silk in one of the next swatches, just to get it out of my system.

I’m hoping that I can get the second cuff done before bedtime. But I’m not taking this project with me for turkey and pie with The Bitties. No, I think it’s time to resurrect my grey and brown stripedy sock, which has been waiting so patiently for my toes to heal. That should be sufficiently mindless knitting for before and after a family feast. And since it’s Magic Loop, not so many points to worry about, or needles to damage.

Another thing I have done while being home, is to agressively weed out my inbox. Some stuff got saved into folders, others read and deleted. Today’s billet-doux from Pottery Barn is for faux-fur throws at $50 off. Yes, it would be wonderfully decadent to curl up on the couch under one, but I much prefer the afghan that my Gram crocheted for me thirty years ago. And I keep waiting for Colinette to put together their gold-plated afghan kit in a colorway that I cannot live without. [Yes, it would cost more than the PB throw at full retail, but it’s that whole chopping-wood-warms-you-twice metaphor that I love.] Love their yarns, absolutely sold on those textures, and there are a couple of colorways that are close-but-no-cigar.

I need to come up with an LDS equivalent of that expression.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Yanks. Don’t eat too much turkey today, and save some pie for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home-Dec Hallucinatory Hilarity

I saw this one first, on the cover. I know that it’s currently fashionable to decry the chair-and-a-half. And heaven knows I don’t have room for one. But this one is some serious good/bad, an ageing drag-queen’s take on Mae West, as interpreted for the boudoir. This is a chair in which to retreat at the end of a long and tiresome day, with an equally ornate footstool and HGTV [neither of which I have] and an evening’s worth of knitting. All that’s missing is my Red Hat and my Purple Boa [both of which I do]. Oh, and Sean Connery to read my grocery list to me, during the commercials.

This, on the other hand, I could earnestly covet:

Both, from the newest MacKenzie-Childs catalogue. The chair costs approximately my entire first year’s salary when I got out of business school in 1972. The dresser costs approximately what I earned the year that I left the typing pool to marry the children’s father.

But if I were to find an unfinished dresser of approximately the same size and shape, I could at least recreate the dresser. I got to be very good at painting checkerboards when I was painting abandoned headboards and footboards for Middlest, Fourthborn, and LittleBit, way back in 1994. And there are library books that would teach me how to do the faux tortoiseshell. And I could use wallpaper and decoupage for the red parts and something else for the painted scenes.

Champagne tastes, tap water budget. That would be me.

My wonderful sister sent me the following link: http://www.knitforkids.com/

After one of yesterday’s long soaks in the tub, I worked a cryptogram from the 2003 puzzle book that I found when I was packing for the move. And I had to laugh at its message: “Nobody has ever thought out anything in the shower, because it’s too fast and too efficient.” And it got me to thinking.

There is usually a spiritual reason why I get sick; the pathogen is just the means by which time to receive the message or the lesson, is delivered. I have long understood some of the reasons why I got hepatitis back in 1979. I am pretty sure why my gallbladder blew when it did. Once I learned that depression is buried anger, I knew why I had struggled with it for eight and a half years. [There is nothing quite as productive as examining one’s life and asking, “Is there anything going on that a sane, rational person would feel angry about?” and then making the appropriate changes.]

I suspect that in process of time I will look back at the past two years and my struggles with grief and pain and hampered mobility, and it will all make sense. And I will see how these slow-down times have been a true blessing, enabling me to sit still long enough to follow a thread of thought to its conclusion, to ponder from a more eternal perspective.

None of which is meant to imply that I am warbling like Snow White’s bluebird as I sit in the tub with a washcloth over my face. That scene in Shrek where the princess is warbling, and the bluebird explodes in a puff of feathers? Some days I’m the princess; some days I’m the bird.

I miss how busy I used to be able to be. I was the Queen of Cross-It-off-the-List; now I am the Dowager Empress of No-Thank-You. I haven’t been dancing in months, except for that night when MasonDixonKnitting had a YouTube of an octet singing Paul Simon’s The Obvious Child, and I played it twice and stood up and boogied at my desk. [October 22, 2007, right below “Dear Ann” and above the picture of Eunny Jang. The link to the post itself seems to have gone missing. When you click on her links within the post, you will also get a YouTube of the man himself. I’ll wait for you to stop dancing. BTW did anybody besides me notice that there were considerably more than eight people in that octet? Is this the New Math?]

I took a nice long nap yesterday afternoon; it was lovely. I woke up in time to wipe down the *container with an anti-bacterial wipe, and then I did a quick round of errands: the drugstore to spend my bargain bucks on stuff that we needed, Arby’s for a roast beef sandwich with Horsey Sauce because I wanted to taste something, Knit Night to return *Rebecca’s swabbed-down tube of blocking wires.

Last stop was at the grocery store, to pick up the makings for a couple of pumpkin pies, but they were all out of refrigerated pie dough, so I took the low road and bought three marked-down pumpkin pies and two containers of “lite” whipped topping, all of which are now in the fridge.

I called Secondborn on the way home, to let her know that we might be AWOL on Thursday, so she could get some store-made pies of her own if need be. They have this yuck too. I’m not sure who gave it to whom, I just want it to *go away*.

And then LittleBit came home, and she brought in the mail, mostly junk but one item I needed to do my church responsibilities, and a thank-you note from Secondborn for something I did for her awhile ago. How thankful I am for grateful children! This note is going into my collection of stuff the girls will have to dig through when I’m gone, or maybe I’ll use it as the basis for a scrapbook page.

I love being a mom. It’s by far the hardest thing I have ever done, particularly in those early years. I am sometimes amazed that we have all survived one another. But mostly I’m just glad that they’re all speaking to me, and vice versa, and [mostly] speaking to each another.

I flat lost it with their father the other night. LittleBit and I were in the left turn cut-out, waiting for oncoming traffic so we could enter the apartment complex, when a big old car swept up on the right and around us, into the cut-through, blocking my vision. LittleBit said, “That’s Papa.” And sure enough, it was. He completed his turn, I made mine, and I followed him over to his apartment, which is a couple of buildings over from ours. And I got out of the car, and I told him how rude he’d been, and how unsafe.

His answer? “Well, I missed my turn, and people were coming up behind me.” I told him he could have and should have gone on to the light and made a legal U-turn there. “That’s what a sensible driver would have done.” He didn’t get defensive or huffy, but he genuinely didn’t seem to understand what the problem was.

I told him he ought to be pushing a wheelbarrow [my father’s ultimate insult for bad driving]. Not my finest hour, particularly not in losing my temper in front of LittleBit and Fourthborn.

He is not safe to be on the road, and I am afraid that he is going to kill somebody some day. While all human life is precious to me, it had better not be one of our kids.

Must finish with happy knitting. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a neat sweater on one of the women who works in my building. Basic black Audrey Hepburn cowl-necked sweater, where the cowl comes all the way out to the shoulders like a tiara for the collarbone, and there are little wedges inside the collar that cover the shoulders. This is not one of those pull the sweater down off your shoulders and be Jayne Mansfield sweaters. This is something that, if it came in my size or I could figure out how to design it, would look as nice [and as modest] on me as it did on Miss Audrey Clone. She said she had gotten hers at Old Navy, but I did not find it online. I also checked The Gap and Banana Republic. Nada. Obviously, this will have to wait until I can rub two brain cells together and get a spark, not a slosh. So, not this morning.

Blame Angeluna, who is in my Knit Night group [yes the same Angeluna who test-piloted one of Anne’s designs]. I will cast on later today for the November Mystery Sock on Ravelry. I now know what to do with the leftover KnitPicks Gloss in “Serengeti”. And I’m close enough to finished with Sabbath Scarf II that I feel no guilt, whatsoever.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! I’m off to soak my head, yet again, and then to spend the morning knitting and maybe catching up on the KnitPicks podcasts. Woe unto me, I am shamefully behind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sabbath Scarf is Done and Gone

Actually, it’s been done and gone for about ten days, but I was waiting for my sister to get the package in the mail. Here’s a picture I took while it was blocking.

And a closeup:

This is a soft denimy blue, KnitPicks Gloss in “Dusk”. It looks teal in this photo, but blame the towel for that. She loved it! I also gave her this:

Which had been on her to buy list since she heard that it was available. That is what I meant when I said I had bought her something really neat, and one for myself. And this:

Am I a good baby sister, or what? [If I am, it’s because I’ve been watching her for 55 years.]

I am still happily knitting away on Sabbath Scarf II, KnitPicks’ Gloss in “Cocoa”, the second color leftover from Brother Sushi’s tie. As you have seen, this one is a nice Ghirardelli brown, and it is fiddly to photograph, but it tones well with my new brown skirt [now properly de-hoochified], and it will keep my neck and shoulders happy at my workstation. Or it may wind up as a gift. Depends on whether I can bear to part with it.

I have enough of the accent color, “Serengeti”, to make a pair of socks if I like. Which I probably will. Though my toes are not quite ready for prime time yet, in terms of healing vs. hand knit socks. “How long, how long, [piggies] will you weep?” Not much longer, I hope. [With apologies to Don and Glenn and the rest of The Eagles. Which has to be my favorite song on that CD. Two new CD’s in about as many weeks. Talk about an embarrassment of riches!]

Work yesterday went reasonably well. I emptied out my inbox as far as scanning the fax confirmations. But I have a tall stack of paperwork to enter today, to open up cases for minor settlements [where the injured party is a minor child, not when the amount of damages claimed is trifling]. The head yuck is inexorably descending into my chest, which gives me that “1-900 voice” effect. The plaintiff attorneys will just love that when they call in today!

I took another steep in the tub last night before bed, and I slept fairly well, and my toes are as happy and healthy as my head and lungs are not. I think they would not gross out anybody who happened to see them. Though I am still toying with the idea of slapping a happy-face sticker on each big toe whenever it is that I decide to go back to the singles’ dances at church.

We have new cell phones. LittleBit and HerSushi called from a kiosk at the mall to say that she could upgrade hers, because it is 2+ years old and falling apart, for $18 which they would bill us and which she would give me from her next paycheck [and she is a child who keeps her promises] and did I want to upgrade mine, too? Because there was a *red* one.

I met them at the bookstore after work, and we went to the phone store to have our numbers transferred. So now I have one deactivated phone that still works, for backup, and a gorgeous shiny phone the color of Lorelai that I barely know how to work, and I am at that stage of a cold where I don’t feel all that sick, but I don’t feel all that smart, either.

So, do I stay home from work and spend the day steeping in the tub, interspersed with naps and knitting and Cell Phone 101? Several of my co-workers expressed the devout wish, not unmingled with self-interest, that I stay home and take care of myself. Particularly those who have just spent three weeks getting over this. I don’t feel bright enough to reason my way through to a good decision, so I guess I’ll just see how I feel after taking LittleBit to seminary and to school. And maybe stock up on chicken broth and apple juice and other taste-able liquids to nuke. I could just about gargle with Arby’s “horsey sauce” right about now.

I wonder which box my mugs are in?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Hab a Code id By Dose

Or something like unto it. I have managed to pick up a respiratory bug that LittleBit brought home.

We decided it was more important to keep our germs at home than to be at church yesterday. Before that bit of common sense struck me, I hopped in the tub to get ready for church. Put a hot washcloth over my aching face and promptly fell asleep bolt upright.

Woke up who knows how long later, when LittleBit stood outside the bathroom door and said that she thought we should just stay home and sleep. She called one of our friends to pass on the word that sacrament meeting would be without its customary chorister.

An unexpected benefit of that nap in the tub and the longer-than-usual soaking of my tootsies, is that almost the last of the extraneous tissue around the nailbeds is gone. What I see when I look at my big toes is healthy skin, no scarring, and no hint that the nails are thinking of growing back. Woohoos all around! I might be ready for some barefoot boogeying [sp?] come New Years Eve.

I hung a few pictures yesterday afternoon, caught up the knitting I had ripped out before the concert on Saturday night, and listened to [more than watched] Midsummer Night's Dream. LittleBit had borrowed a couple of movies from HerSushi, and we watched The Prestige. I didn’t really get into it. I think it was the cold, but it might have been the knitting. It’s a very visual movie, and my eyes stayed pretty much on Sabbath Scarf II because I didn’t want a repeat of Saturday night’s frogfest.

I might want to watch it again sometime when my brain and body are less stuporous.

Putting on my turn signal for a change of topic. My office manager forwarded this to several of us recently, with the comment, “Lynn – thought of you.”

Never Argue with a Woman

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, “Good morning, “Ma'am What are you doing?”

“Reading a book,” she replies, (thinking, “Isn't that obvious?”)

“You're in a Restricted Fishing Area,” he informs her.

“I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading.”

“Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up.”

“If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault,” says the woman.

“But I haven't even touched you,” says the game warden.

“That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.”

“Have a nice day ma'am,” and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

I wrote back and asked, “Because I read? Because I think?...Or because I argue?”

She responded: “No silly - because you read. However, I guess the other two would apply as well but I didn't think of those. … I never known you to argue though.”

I do argue. I just pick my battles, and my opponents, very carefully.

Changing lanes again. Here is a bit of not-so-trivial information for you. For 2006, the most stolen vehicles in the nation, as reported to NCIC, were:
1. 1995 Honda Civic
2. 1991 Honda Accord
3. 1989 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Series Pickup
5. 2005 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 1994 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Pickup
7. 1994 Nissan Sentra
8. 1994 Dodge Caravan
9. 1994 Saturn SL
10. 1990 Acura Integra

Lock your cars.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

“What circ kit to buy?” & “It's Barb's Fault”

My friend Tinks has been knitting small, quick projects for quite awhile, and she’s feeling the need for better tools. So she asked me an ostensibly simple question: “What circ kit to buy?”

“KnittingZone (what’s so special about pink?)”

“KnitPicks (wood or nickel plated?)”

What follows is my typical novella in response:

I haven’t tried any of them. And they are all on my list to try. What I have:

Vintage Susan Bates Quicksilver needles in various sizes. Once upon a time [20+ years ago] I had one or two of each size and length, up to about size 11.5. One if it was a body-length needle, and two for sleeve-length. They had an 11.5” needle that was perfect for sleeves, for me. These were extruded needles, so there was no issue with the join between the cable and the needle; it was all one and just changed diameters. Most of these have gotten lost in one move or another, and they are so old that the plastic has become somewhat brittle and will split along the cable, longitudinally, and then I have to throw them out.

Clover bamboo needles in various lengths in size 4 and 6, bought to make that sweater from my handspun for Mr. NBN [ex-BF, knitted for him after I broke up with him, because we were still such good friends]. I thought they were pretty decent needles at the time; they were more expensive than the Quicksilver, which were long since discontinued. But where the plastic cable joins the bamboo, sometimes stitches catch, which slows me down.

I have Addi Turbo nickel-plated circs in a growing number of sizes and lengths [the inventory template on Ravelry is very handy for keeping track of them]. I didn’t like the first one I bought, because I was using it for the Berroco Denim Silk, which is a little slippery. The cable is very flexible, and the join is smooth; that brass ferrule is marvelous! I love them for wool, particularly in the smaller sizes for socks. I do Magic Loop for my socks, most of the time, though I still love how the Crystal Palace resin-infused DP’s feel in my hands. So it depends on the project and the yarn.

I have three or four pairs of Addi Lace, which have sharper tips than the Turbo and a coating that slows the stitches down slightly for greater control. Same smooth join as the Turbo. Love them, love them, love them. Addi created them in response to customer requests. The Turbo tips are a little blunt, fine for working with worsted and bulky yarns but frustrating if you’re knitting lace.

I have bought the majority of my Addi’s online. Quite a few from a guy on eBay, but the shipping is fidgety-slow from Hong Kong. I prefer the woman in England. About the same price for needles and shipping but much faster service, and she speaks English. [Duh.] I think I’ve already sent you those links, but if not, just let me know and I will.

I also have several Addi Natura [bamboo], and I love them for knitting with slicker yarns like silk and mohair. The brass ferrule is again very smooth. You’ve driven performance cars. Maybe the difference between the Natura and the Clover is similar to the one between your old Beemer at 122 mph on the way to Scarborough Faire and my old Ford Pinto at 20 in a school zone?

KnitPicks came up with the Options [metal] needles to give customers sharper tips and a super-flexible cable at less cost than the Denise modular needles [or Addi’s]. I have friends who have both types of modulars and love both and choose between them according to the project.

The KnitPicks Harmony needles are in response to the Addi Natura’s.

Now, for me there is the additional issue of gauge. I knit very loosely, because I cannot bear to wrap yarn around my fingers for tensioning, like they show you in books. I cinch up my little finger on my right hand and let the yarn flow through it and a looser tube formed by bending the two middle fingers. That’s it. What that means in terms of gauge is that I typically have to gear down about three needle sizes to get the recommended gauge.

If a sock is designed for a particular grist of yarn and a particular stitch count on size 0 needles, I will need 00 or 000 to get that gauge. The brown and grey self-patterning yarn I am using for the current pair of socks [which I have not worked on since my toe surgery] is on a 000 needle. It’s hard to find 00’s and 000’s in the stores; I’ve had better luck online, though I got my 000 at Yarns Ewenique and paid about $20 for the privilege.

I don’t think KnitPicks goes below a 0. So I am excited at finding 000000’s at KnittingZone. Middlest, Fourthborn and Fiancé collect Korean ball-jointed dolls and use them as models for their artwork. Fiancé has requested a sweater for one of his boys, and Middlest wants scarves. I figure that with laceweight yarn [and maybe eventually cobweb yarn], I can make knitwear for the dolls with stitches somewhat in scale for their bodies. I am envisioning Fair Isle and cabling and knitted shawls, in miniature, and if I like it there is a thriving market for it. The dolls go for about $400 a pop, and a lot of people treat them like kids. $100 for a well-finished sewn outfit is not unusual. I could probably get $100 for a handknit sweater.

I think the appeal of the circ kits is having a variety of sizes and lengths corralled in one place, and the flexibility [with the KnitPicks at least] of putting a size tag on the cable and an end cap so you can “borrow” the tips for another project and not have to wonder what size you were using when you go back to it. Of course, entering your WIP on Ravelry would do the same thing.

My problem is that I tend to work on the lower end of the range in terms of size: 000 to about a 4, with occasional excursions upward for scarves with multiple strands of yarn worked as one.

So for me, what works best is to buy new needles as I need them. But I can definitely see myself buying those teensy DP’s for doll sweaters, and teensy circs for shawls. For the really small diameters you have to have metal. The Crystal Palace bamboo-infused DP’s are wonderfully flexible, but you don’t want to know how many of the 0’s I have snapped, mid-project.

[I decided to put this response onto the blog; because it might help my local friends who are new knitters.]

And now for the part that is Barb’s fault:

Barb had this on her blog on Friday. I don’t know if I'm one of the people she reads, or one of those she felt too shy to tag, but here’s my response.

1. What were you afraid of as a child? There were a couple of long bridges that we crossed over on our family trips. I was afraid that I would roll down the window and pitch my favorite doll out into the water. Freud would probably have a heyday with that one.

2. When have you been most courageous? Oh man, just thinking about it makes me cry; I’ll tell you about that one when we are all safely gathered Home. Instead, I’ll tell you about the most recent time. Earlier this year, when I told Brother Abacus that his behavior was hurtful and inappropriate, even though he never went out of bounds physically. He doesn’t like me very much, because he knows that I am “on” to his tricks.

3. What sound most disturbs you? It was interesting to read in the comments to Barb’s post that we become more sensitive to sound as we become menopausal. I don’t like screaming and yelling, but the sound that bugs me most on a daily basis is the sound of a telephone ringing. Because that’s how I make my living, answering the phone. I am very, very good at what I do, and it’s the aspect of my job that I like the least. When I was a SAHM [stay at home mom], the phone was my umbilicus to the outside world. Now it’s just a pain.

4. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you’ve been in? Just before my gallbladder came out. I got several great scrapbook pages out of the experience, entitled “The Gallbladder That Ate July”. And I missed about five weeks of work, two and a half of them spent sleeping to avoid any conscious awareness of the pain. I threw up once, shortly before the surgery, and passed out from pain. Like Barb, I’ve broken bones in my foot and never noticed. Earlier this year, I learned that I had been walking on a broken leg for two and a half months. None of that came anywhere close to where those gallstones put me.

5. What’s your biggest fear for your children? (or children in general if you don’t have some of your own.). We are not talking about this one. Not here, not now. See #2 and ask me again in 100 years.

6. What is the hardest physical challenge you’ve achieved? Are we talking about physical as in my body, or physical as in the material world? If the former, not staking out certain people for the fire ants to eat, who very much deserve it, would have to be #1. If the latter, learning to drive a stick shift, milk a goat, and spin wool in a three week period.

7. Which do you prefer: Mountains or oceans/big water? I grew up near the mountains, and I miss them. But for me it is the ocean. I remember my first sighting of the Pacific along the Oregon Coast, when I was eight or ten: cold and grey and majestic! And now I love Galveston, though I haven’t been in six years, even though the water is dirty and the sand is smelly. That soft brown sand is easier on my eyes than the brilliant white sand on Padre Island.

8. What is the one thing you do for yourself that helps you keep everything together? After completing counseling earlier this year, my goal is to have one activity that feeds my spirit every day, something that blesses my physical body or my surroundings, one good interaction with another human being, and awareness of what emotion I’m feeling. I tend to live inside my own head and to intellectualize what I’m feeling.

9. Ever had a close relative or friend with cancer? Both parents. Thankfully, not my sister.

10. What are the things your friends count on you for? Comic relief, plain speaking, confidences kept, and PMS brownies.

11. What is the best part of being in a committed relationship? When our minds and hearts are aligned with the mind and will of God for us. [The naked thing, as Barb puts it, comes in a very close second.]

12. What is the hardest part of being in a committed relationship? The loneliest I have ever been in my life, was during the last five years of my marriage to the children’s father. The memory of that emotional pain keeps me cautious about dating in general and dating-with-intent, in particular.

13. Summer or Winter? Why? Neither, thank you. Fall. It’s the easiest time in the world for me to be happy. I want to putter about and prepare my nest for the winter. I want to bake, I love spending time with my tribe [three hours is about my limit if it’s *all* of them] and making soup in the crockpot, and curling up with good books, and having friends over for small dinner parties or potlucks.

14. Have you ever been in a school-yard fight? Why and what happened? My best friend from high school reads the blog and might remember this. One of our mutual friends was teasing me mercilessly about the boy I liked, writing his full name and mine in ink on the cafeteria table. I was all tangled up about my feelings for him. I knew he was a rotter, and he knew I liked him, and he was just *mean*, and I was still moony over him, so there was some serious hormonal derangement going on. [Shiela, remember when we were walking down the street and his little brother and some other jerk asked us something, and we thought they were asking if we wanted to go bowling?] I got so mad at Sharon that I turned white and couldn’t talk. I was *this far* from standing up and popping her in the nose, and I was one of those Terminally Good Girls. So Shiela walked Sharon to her first class one way, and Stan walked me to mine the other way, and I didn’t talk to Sharon at lunch or much at all for days. And our friends sat between us to prevent bloodshed.

15. Why blog? It’s writing, which I love, and it’s scrapbooking, which I love, and if you were to look into my actual scrapbooks, they are all much more about paper-crafting and writing than they are about photography. I sort out what I’m thinking and feeling by writing it down.

16. Did you learn about sex, and/or sex safety from your parents? Yes and no. I was talking to LittleBit about this the other day. My sister is fifteen and a half years older than I am. And after The Film in 5th grade, Mom gave me the book they had given to Sis a decade and a half before. It was written in the 30’s or early 40’s. There were chapters about puppies and kittens. There were statues of naked Greek gods with fig leaves that left me with far more questions than answers. I really wanted to know what was going on under that fig leaf, and the first time I found out I thought, Oh man, that thing is seriously scary and dangerous-looking.

My parents were late Edwardians. Dad was born in 1905; Mom was born in 1913. There was not a lot of emoting chez nous, except by me of course; they got the good daughter first, and me as a caboose. And they were not outwardly religious people, though they were two of the finest Christians-in-practice I have ever known. So what I remember Mom saying was, “Sex is for grownups, and sex is for marriage.”

No way could I have discussed sex with Dad. I remember when I was ten or so and realized that Dad had the same parts as every other man on the planet, I never sat in his lap again, and I never told him why. I wonder now if that hurt his feelings. He was one of the last of the true gentlemen. I remember asking him just before he died, what he was proudest of, and one of the things was that while there were men who had improper thoughts and improper relations with their daughters, it had never ever crossed his mind.

Mom and I had other discussions when I was much, much older. I remember her saying that if a wife didn’t enjoy sex, it was the husband’s fault, because it was supposed to be enjoyable for both of them.

17. How do you plan to talk to your kids about sex and/or sex safety? My kids are 29 to almost 18. When Firstborn was 5, PBS showed that magnificent documentary about how life begins. We sat down as a family and watched it; she sat on her daddy’s lap, safe and secure. And we’ve answered questions as they’ve come up. I tried to sit LittleBit down when she was nine or so and give her The Talk, and she cocked one eyebrow at me and said, “I know how babies are made, Mommy. You think I don’t know what some of the girls are up to?”

I have tried to teach the girls that sex is a wonderful form of communication between husband and wife, and that in the right context [marriage] it brings peace and happiness as well as babies. And that sex outside of marriage brings certain heartbreak and often disease and occasional death. I have tried to be open and available, but while sex has been intermittently fascinating for me, I cannot say the Latin word for the male member, without blushing. That complicates things a little.

I may have mentioned changing BittyBubba’s diaper shortly after his circumcision and telling him, “No offense, honey, but right there is the source of most of the trouble in my life.”

18. What are you most thankful for this year? 2006 was brutal, so surviving it with the majority of my marbles would have to be at or near the top of the list; I feel peace in my heart much of the time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When Pigs Fly

One joy of being part of this family, is word games. We try to keep the mind games at a minimum, but we all love to play with language. Examples, horrible and otherwise:

One day Middlest and I were going somewhere in the car. She said something extremely clever and probably a little disrespectful, and she had long since moved out of the house, so I couldn’t send her to her room to think about it. It was funny enough that I snorted involuntarily, and I told her that she was “such a smart@ss.” Without missing a beat she came back with, “Well Mom, at least I’m not a dumb one.”

So that’s now one of the family taglines: “At least you’re not a dumb one.”

The children’s father and I shared a love for the Marx Brothers, particularly Groucho. My favorite of his jokes was the one where he wisecracked, “I shot an elephant in my pajamas once … What he was doing in my pajamas, I don’t know.”

One day I used the word “irrelevant” in a discussion. And he [the children’s father, not Groucho; I need to come up with a pseudonym for the children’s father that is memorable and evocative and still respectful] grinned and replied, “in whose pajamas?”

It’s now another family tagline. It nearly got LittleBit in trouble at school week before last. One of her classmates said the magic word, and LittleBit instinctively responded, “In whose pajamas?” and then tried to explain, which was entirely wasted on her culturally illiterate classmate.

[Soapbox? What soapbox?]

Recently we were driving from seminary to the high school, and LittleBit was talking about the phone company ad that uses the phrase “when pigs fly”. And she said, “It could happen. There are flying horses. Pegasuses. Why couldn’t there be pigasuses as well?”

All the while I was thinking, “Hippopotami. Pegasi? Pigasi?” while snickering mightily and trying to stay in my lane.

We have fun. It’s like Lorelai and Rory [Gilmore] on the days they were getting along. We take turns setting up the punch-line, and we take turns running laps with the punch-line all around the field.

And the crowd goes wild…

The Wallet Thief episode just gets better. As I was driving LittleBit to school from seminary yesterday morning, [you are right, most of our Meaningful Communication takes place in the car, after seminary, before school] I noticed that she was feeling as teary-eyed as I was. She asked me, “Do you ever just want to go to bed and pull the covers over your head for about a week and hope that everything goes away?”

I told her yes, I am familiar with that feeling. I might not know exactly how she was feeling at this moment, but I’ve been close enough to it in the past that I can definitely sympathize.

She told me that not only was she going to file a report for the theft of her wallet, she was probably going to file a sexual harassment charge on him “while I am at it”. This, as I was turning a corner. I managed not to jump the curb.

“Oh *really*? What did that little bozo do?”

“He makes lewd comments, and he stares at me *there*. And I’ve had it.”

Even if nothing comes of it from the school administration [though they take these charges pretty seriously nowadays], I am so proud of her for standing up to this particularly nasty sort of bullying. No wonder she wants to punch him in the face! I’d like to help her. Kipling is right: the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

It is a very good thing for this young punk that I am not a 17-year-old male, because I’d take him out behind the woodshed and talk to him by hand, as my mother might have said. And it is a very good thing for him that LittleBit has too much class to tell her band of acquired brothers “sic ‘im”. Because she has quite a posse of them, and some of them are tall and wide and impressively muscular.

Update on the update: when I picked her up last night from All State tryouts [she did not get picked for Round 4, huzzah, we are *done* after tonight’s concert!], she said she had filed the theft complaint, and he had responded, said that he didn’t know for sure who had done it but had some ideas of his own and would try to get her stuff back for her.

At moments like this it would be so nice to have an Uncle Guido in the family. However, this tribe is about as Celtic as you get [we are not counting the Swedish infusion from their dad’s side or the German one from mine, for the moment], the best that we could do would be to stuff him in the closet with a bagpipe CD at full throttle.

She has not filed on the other charge. Maybe this little come to You Know Who meeting will forestall any repetitions.

I think I finally have Brother Sushi’s tie whipped into shape. One of my last acts yesterday morning before leaving for work was to spray it and steam it. There’s a tiny hole along one edge, not from moths but from where I pulled the sewing threads out to remove the lining.

I’m planning to go to JoAnn’s later this morning and get a spool of sewing silk to re-stitch the lining. I was really pleased with how well that [silk thread] worked when I sewed the zipper into LittleBit’s hoodie. I think it will be a simple matter to reinforce the hole while I’m putting it all together. We shall see.

I also need to pick up a printer cartridge. There are letters waiting to be printed off, and I want to get them into the mail.

I got two of the four batteries for my camera charged up while at work yesterday, and much knitting done last night. Brother Sushi and I postponed our monthly outing because he had a bug last weekend. So I picked up pizza on the drive home, and he brought over Under the Tuscan Sun, and we ate and watched and occasionally paused the movie to talk about something it reminded us of, and I knitted. I had seen it before, *and* I had forgotten about that love scene. Oye.

I’m not comfortable watching love scenes, because my attitude about sexuality is to sublimate mine within an inch of its life, unless and until I remarry, at which time I want a real honeymoon with no distractions. [I hope that is sufficiently discreet for my children’s delicate eyes.]

I particularly am uncomfortable watching a love scene with a JustFriend like Brother Sushi, because he’s got the same standards. And presumably his own righteous ways of channeling all that lovely energy. So I leaped up and grabbed my knitting, saying something brilliant like, “OK, this is where I grab my knitting, la la la I can’t see them.” And he said, “Isn’t this what we have fast-forward for?”

Oh. Yeah.

It was very “ack, where’s the remote, and how do we fast-forward through this?” We are both reasonably competent with technology, but that little episode would have made a good YouTube.

This time last year I was dating Brother Abacus. This time next year I may well be dating The Good Brother. I need to find the box with the lip wax. I’ve just been dealing with random stray eyebrows [the ones that have migrated down to my jawline] via tweezers since we moved, but I want to sit down this weekend for some Basic Chick Pampering. All the little stuff that I more or less keep up with but typically not all at once. I hardly ever have to shave my legs anymore. [I wish they would pass that secret on to my pits, but I am not holding my breath over that one.] I actually know where the pedicure stuff is. My manicure is good until next weekend; I need to call Nail Dude to see if he is heading out of town for the holiday, or if he will be at work next Saturday.

And hand lotion season is upon us. If there is even the slightest chance that I might be holding hands, I need to get them moisturized. And keep them that way.

But now it’s time to put on my shoes and take LittleBit to rehearsals for tonight’s concert.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Did you see this on Knitter's Review this week?

Lego knitting machine.

It makes I-cord. Slowly, and to the accompaniment of classical music. How fun is that? And how come there is no soundtrack when *I* knit?

Yesterday was interesting, mostly in the good way. We had our Thanksgiving luncheon, and it was catered by one of the local cafeterias, and it was not oversalted, and I ate enough but not too much.

After work I drove over to Fort Worth and had dinner with Secondborn and 2BDH and his mom and the Bitties at a little Italian restaurant they sent Brother Sushi and me to, a few months ago. Half of my entree is in a to-go box in the fridge and will be lunch today.

No, I don’t have pictures of the Bitties. I was too busy holding BittyBubba and visiting with BittyBit. You’ll just have to take my word that they are enchanting. He gave me several big grins and crowed in my ear. She talked my leg off. [One apple, fallen not far from the tree.]

Some little creep [she is pretty sure who] got into LittleBit’s purse yesterday morning at school and stole her state ID, her Social Security card [I know, I know], her insurance card, and her lunch money. She caught this guy in the act, before, and made him put her money back. He and his brother brag about stealing people’s things and selling them. So today she will be having her friend Mr. Security Guard help her to prepare an official complaint, and there will be a police report, and I will be contacting Social Security for a new card. I told her she could not “punch him in the face”, and that if she did get physical I would not be bailing her derriere out of jail.

I am less than impressed with the user-friendliness of the voicemail systems of the Big Three credit bureaus. I tried to get through to place a fraud alert on her SS# last night and ended up with eight minutes of Voicemail Hell with one and six with another. I do have a snail-mail address for one of them.

We are *so* not amused.

On a different front, a much happier and more hopeful front, 2BDH talked to The Good Brother, and he is not averse to our meeting. TGB thought it best if I come to church with the kids sometime, and they can introduce us. 2BDH said he’d pass that on, but that I’m active in my own ward and he didn’t know if I had a weekly calling that would prevent that.

As it happens, I don’t. But it won’t be happening this Sunday, or any Sunday until LittleBit can drive herself to work after church, and I am fine with that. I’ve been single for almost ten years. I’ve gotten pretty good at waiting.

And there is always happy knitting to keep me out of mischief. Another couple of inches on Sabbath Scarf II yesterday. Basic brown scarf, longer than the last time that you saw it. No photos this time, either, because my batteries need charging, and I don’t have enough juice to download anything.

Herding Metaphors

[A process that is often as challenging as herding cats, or poets.]

When I became a spinner and then a weaver two decades ago, the Old Testament began to come alive for me. I had dutifully chewed my way from Genesis to Malachi more than once since joining the LDS Church in 1975, and I loved the stories of Abraham and his family, Ruth, Esther, and some of the Psalms. But much of the OT seemed to revolve around cranky prophets who were forevermore telling people to shape up, and a cantankerous Deity who smote them when they didn’t.

But it came to pass – which was one of LittleBit’s favorite phrases from the Book of Mormon when she was a tot; when we read aloud as a family and came to that phrase, whoever was reading would stop, point to her, she would pipe “and it came to pass”, and the reader would continue with the rest of the passage – that as I was reading the description of how the tabernacle was to be constructed, it suddenly dawned on me that the side panels were hand-woven from handspun wool, and it is likely that more than one spinner and more than one weaver had been involved.

And I remembered having read, most likely in Spin Off, that if you give three spinners adjacent handfuls of wool from the same section of fleece, they will give you back three unique strands of yarn. How on earth did those OT spinners learn to create a yarn that was perfectly consistent from end to end and from spinner to spinner, so that the weavers could create panels that were perfectly identical? Was this a nifty little life skill that they picked up while serving their Egyptian masters? I understand that the few surviving fragments of textiles from that period show tremendously fine craftsmanship.

Given, only the most skilled spinners and weavers would have been invited or called upon to spin and weave for the tabernacle, which was a portable temple that would be graced by the presence of the Almighty. I wonder what they thought as they spun and wove, these children of the covenant? I wonder how they felt when the Lord accepted their consecrated effort and graced the tabernacle with His glory?

We know the names of the Israelite midwives who saved the lives of baby boys against the decrees of an unrighteous Pharaoh and made it possible for Moses to grow up and lead the Children of Israel from slavery to agency and accountability. [Shiprah and Puah, you ladies rock! And when we meet again on the other side I hope to have some Hershey’s Special Dark for you.]

As far as I know, we do not have the names of the men and/or women who spun the yarn and wove the panels for the tabernacle. But they are collectively on the list of people I want to meet when I graduate from earth life. Right after Jael the Nail and Rahab the Harlot [I wonder if she spun the scarlet thread that saved her household?]

One of the lessons we take away from temples ancient and modern, is the concept of unity. Many sheep yielding up their wool to make a uniform yarn to build a portable temple. Many artisans spinning the wool and weaving the panels, each one like unto its neighbor. Many families combining to create wards and stakes, where the same doctrines are taught and similar acts of service are performed and the same basic life lessons are learned. And yet each of us loses none of our individuality in this unity. We remain as uniquely *ourselves* as our fingerprints, but [unlike the snowflakes in an avalanche] we learn to hold ourselves accountable for our choices. And we learn to make better choices, ones with consequences that bless rather than burden.

And over time, we begin to catch glimpses of the beauty and nobility and dignity of our neighbor, and to treat him or her accordingly. I love what C.S. Lewis said, that we have “never met an ordinary mortal”. And I love Alma’s question in the Book of Mormon, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” [Alma 5:14].

Sometimes I envision this process of purification and sanctification as the spiritual equivalent of petrified wood. Over time, the hard-heartedness and stubbornness and pride to which we are all heir as mortals, the parts of us that are earth-bound and alien to our spirits, and which must be lovingly disciplined if we are to have any hope of happiness in life, get leached away by God’s love and compassion as we stumble and fall on the path and rise to try again.

It gives me enormous comfort to know that God knows and loves me, Lynn, and values me because I am His child, and wants me to be happy. Yes, there are rules by which the universe works, and if I study those rules and attempt to bring my choices and my behaviors into alignment with them, then I am at peace regardless of my circumstances or challenges. And those rules were given in love. They cannot bring me Home, in and of themselves; they are only designed to point me toward the Giver.

Think of those fine old people whom you know, whose lives and minds and hearts have been shaped by service, whose bodies maybe frail and worn, but whose eyes shine with grace and humor and courage. There are a goodly number of them in my ward. I want to be like them when I grow up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stuff I Have Learned This Week

1. You can do a pretty fair spit-splice with KnitPicks Gloss. I did it at Knit Night on Tuesday. Yes, I’ve used up the three-fourths of a hank remaining of the “Cocoa” that I used on Brother Sushi’s tie! [Only another knitter would find that even marginally worthy of an exclamation point.] And I am galloping away on the second ball. Getting a glimmer of what I want to do with this when it is finished, but meanwhile it is just plain delicious to knit.

2. “Chuzzle” is a good incentive to unpack those pesky boxes in the kitchen. I emptied two boxes and rewarded myself with clearing three levels. Another box, another three levels. A fourth box, and I perished spectacularly on level 8. But I think it has been an evening well-spent, and it enabled me to stay awake for two hours while I waited for LittleBit’s call.

3. It didn’t take anywhere near as long as I thought it would, to switch out the buttons on my 70%-off jacket, the one I bought shortly before we moved, which has been languishing in my closet with half a dozen other mending jobs. I wore it to work yesterday and felt like a million dollars. Considering that I spent nearly as much for six buttons as I did for the jacket per se, that seems only fair and proper.

4. LittleBit and I have completed two hours of parent-taught drivers education, and we still like each other.

5. A saltine cracker with a nice dab of cream cheese on it and a dried apricot makes a cheap and easy snack. Half a dozen or so of them make a decent, if slightly weird, breakfast.

6. “The Holiday” is better in French than in English. For one thing, they lost the F-bomb, replacing it with The First French Cuss Word You Learned. For another, when Iris finally has had enough of Jasper’s arrogance and tells him off, it sounds ever so much feistier en français, all hisses and spitting and nasal vowels.

But the best thing about the movie is when Graham’s two young daughters drag Amanda back to their room to show Amanda their tent. That tent is pure Tinkerbelle meets Martha Stewart. I want a tent like that: lots of gauzy draperies, colors, quilts, textures, gypsy beads, tassels, fringe, stars, etc. Fairy lights. Got to have fairy lights. But first we need to find me a house to put the tent *in*.

7. I chatted briefly with Secondborn tonight. She gave me a little background on The Good Brother. He sounds like somebody I could be comfortable getting to know. And apparently he’s recently gotten involved with the church singles.

It will be interesting to see if 2BDH is able to bring about an introduction.

[Will spare you a photo of Sabbath Scarf II, which is about twice as long as when you saw it last.]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Delinquent Sheep

While we were working out yesterday morning, I saw a video clip of a sheep that ran loose in Philadelphia [?] recently. I tried to find the video on CNN and YouTube but had no luck. It was just trotting down the street with a herd of police cars crawling after it. The sheep evaded capture for quite awhile before they were able to turn it over to Animal Control.

Gotta watch out for those delinquent sheep. They get a taste for alfalfa hay and turn to a life of crime. Next thing you know they are shooting pool at the VFW hall and plotting to fleece the veterans.

I took my pincushion to work, and my little brass thimble, and the threads I pulled from the lining of Brother Sushi’s Tie. Why? To stitch up the slits in the underskirt of my new bargain skirt, the one I wore to stake conference weekend before last and didn’t realize until I sat down, that it was slit halfway up my thigh. On both sides. [Memo to self: hang the mirror that we inherited from Mom. Knee level, so we catch those things that are not obvious in the bathroom mirror. Sheesh!]

Old depth of slit: 13.5”[!!!]; new depth: 4.5”. Much better. There’s still plenty of room for swing dancing and getting in and out of the car, without flashing the general public. I am well and truly de-hoochified.

New excitement on the Churchboy Dating Service. Well, “excitement” might be overstating it a bit. After marking the most recent match “don’t show me this one again”, because who am I to interfere in his incipient happiness, I did a quick search just to keep my account active. As usual, Brother Sushi was at the top of the heap, followed closely by another friend.

After I stopped giggling, I scrolled down and found a new possible match. So I clicked on his profile. And he may, just possibly, not be one more toad on the path to Prince Charming’s Middle-aged Uncle. We shall see. He has an expensive sports car and an obscenely large SUV, both of which featured prominently in the photographs. LittleBit and I were wondering if that means he has more money than he knows what to do with, or if he’s compensating.

We’re evil, I know.

There is also that troublesome phrase “want to SPOIL you”, which is always at least a checkered flag for me. Not that I think I don’t deserve a little spoiling, who doesn’t, but I have found that often it means “want to CONTROL you”.

I sent him an email. He specified “slender, athletic, average” in his preferences. You, kind readers, may have noticed that I am none of the above, so I asked if that was set in stone. I may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I am finally in reasonably good shape. It will be interesting to see if there is any response. Not holding my breath on this one, but at least I said hello.

I don’t remember seeing him at any of the local activities before I had foot surgery back in August. I may send his profile to Brother Sushi to see if he knows him or knows anything about him. That’s assuming I hear something other than “not only no but @#$% no”. And we know what happens when people assume.

There was a small blurb at the bottom of the page in the Dallas Morning News today. Billboard Magazine has revised its policy about proprietary albums. So The Eagles’ new CD debuted at #1 with 711,000 copies, slamming that poor self-destructive former teen icon’s new album far to the rear with 290,000 copies. [Behold the power of the Boomer!] I couldn’t find a link at the DMN, but here’s an article from Billboard. There are also a couple of good interviews with Don Henley and Glenn Frey that you can jump to from there, if you’re interested.

One of our non-published numbers at work is a digit or so off from the number that people call to check for outstanding warrants. Must have been a busy weekend for some people, is all I’m saying.

I think my scanner wanted a nap. It sat on a scanning job for a couple of minutes, so I X’d out of the program and logged out and logged back in. Same error message: “Error while interacting with the scanner: the selected scanner was not found.” I knew exactly where it was – right there on my desk. Stupid computer! I had to call my knitting buddy and IT guru to perform an electronic Heimlich on it.

That was all yesterday. Today went much better. And LittleBit and I are heading out to KnitNight. Later, gators!