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!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Very Clever Toe

The first sock is done. I was a little dubious as I read the directions for the toe shaping, but they are brilliant. Though I will admit that I was twitching a little, with decreases every third row instead of every other row until the shaping was about 2/3 done. Then it was every other row for a bit, then every row, and then I turned the sock inside out and whisked the ends of the needles through and did a three needle bind-off.

I have my provisional cast-on and my skinny DP’s. I’ll start the second sock on the train this morning.

In the next couple of weeks, I will have some news for you on the job front.

Another cheery, comfy visit with Trainman last night, and my delightful VT came over after work. We chatted and chatted until it was “Oh dear, look at the time!” I really like her.

Must dash. I woke up at 3:30 this morning and knitted for two and a half hours. The tub is nearly full, and I need to leave for the train in twenty minutes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

“It’s really bad karma to blow up the tenant.”

My friend’s friend, who is a landlord himself and lives just a few blocks from the duplex, came over on Saturday afternoon to hook up my gas fireplace. We soon discovered [from the manual] that we needed an external regulator, supposedly to fit between the fireplace and the hose coming out of the wall. Said regulator does not come with the fireplace; I’m guessing that ensures it is installed and tested by a plumber and not a savvy DIY’er.

I dialed my friend, and they discussed the situation and decided that we really did need to call in a pro. [Hence his comment to her, and the title of this post.] After he left, I took Middlest home, then came back here and ate some dinner and drove to the bookstore to browse a little. They were out of the Harlot’s new book but had Mason Dixon 2, which I sat down and devoured.

I was absolutely amazed to run into one of the Fort Worth poets I hung out with, ten years ago. She was there for open mic poetry and invited me to join them. I did give her my phone number but declined to give her my email address. She’s a good woman and an amazing poet, and it was nice to see her, and I don’t want to get sucked back into that world.

On the one hand, it would be nice to sit down with them and see what everybody has been up to for the last nine years or so. On the other, I have written exactly two poems in the past six years, so I don’t have much to share that would interest them. [It’s not like any of them could log onto Ravelry and peruse my gallery of finished objects.] My life is calm, peaceful, and happy. I’d like to keep it that way.

I have great memories of the writing workshops we did, and going dancing with them, but when I wrote and performed with them it was a difficult and unhappy time in my life. And I would just as soon not relive it. It’s like the folks who live in Europe who cannot abide peanut butter, because the US sent them tons of it after World War II. Or the difficulty that most of my girls have eating oatmeal, because we ate so much of it when their father was in school. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the peanut butter, the oatmeal, or the poets; it’s the memories they stir up.

OK, happier stuff. I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve turned the heel on Eleanora and am galloping down the foot. I have the pattern memorized, so I was able to take it for church knitting on Sunday. I just tried it on, and I think I will need fewer than the 18 repeats the pattern specifies for the foot. It fits like a champ!

Back to the furnace for a moment. My friend has since done beaucoups of research on gas fireplaces, safety, etc., and apparently hooking this up is something we can do ourselves. They tried to do it Monday, but I had chairs in the way, so they couldn’t move the fireplace out far enough to check on the doomaframmis and the gazornablatt. And the other technical bits.

Speaking of technical bits, I’ve had several emails telling me that the new commenting format isn’t working for y’all. So I’ve switched it back.

Our Bosses Day breakfast went well. We do have some amazing cooks in our office. Everybody pretty much grazed all day. At the end of the day, I brought home the last three or four of my muffins, and I also liberated half a sandwich bag of whole strawberries, which I enjoyed one by one on the drive home.

The Relief Society meeting last night was very poorly attended, but beautifully planned and executed. The dozen or so of us who showed up had a spiritual feast and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. It truly doesn’t get any better than that in my world!

And now if you will all excuse me, it’s time to get ready for work. I have no idea what I want to wear today, only that it needs to be both modest and memorable. Maybe this is a day for the kimono? It holds up well over the course of a workday. Am hoping for another warm, relaxed conversation with Trainman. I realized when I was driving home from the station on Monday night that part of what works is that we both speak very quietly, so as not to disturb our fellow commuters. It is rather like pillow talk at the end of the day, without the pillow. Very soothing.

My visiting teacher is coming over tonight, huzzah! I don’t know if she will be able to bring her companion along, but yea or nay it is another blessing to anticipate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Weekends + Why Mothers Turn Grey

I spent weekend before last puttering in the kitchen and on the computer, serving others in small quiet ways, dancing a little, and knitting. I spent the most recent weekend in the kitchen, enjoying the company of some of my daughters, and at church. With occasional breaks for knitting.

Trainman spent his weekends puttering about his house, fixing things up, spending time with his son, not drinking with his buddies, and helping family members.

We had another really great conversation on the ride home last night. Neither of us is sure who we want to vote for ~ or against ~ a week from today. We both think it was about time that the Republicans nominated a female VP candidate. I was all for Ms. Sarah until the revelations about the wardrobe [more on that, later]. Trainman absolutely blew me away when he remarked, “I wish they had nominated Jeane Kirkpatrick.” Me, too! She was an amazing woman. [How does he even remember Jeane Kirkpatrick? He was in high school when she gave her speech in 1984!]

I was giving him the Readers Digest version of the whole debacle with Brother Abacus and the civil if lively exchanges on Sunday night, when he leaned sideways and murmured, “Hey, sweetie, I have a really nice bridge. Want to buy it? Come on, you know you do.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up: all smiles and snake oil.

A big thank-you to MamaSays for letting me [us] know that MovieMom is now on belief.net.

My friend Alison posted about a friend’s child who ~ well, I’ll just let you read it. [And then this.] In our email exchanges afterward, she made this comment,

“Part of me’s sitting here thinking, well, it’s the kids who get smacked with their own mortality who turn out to be the most compassionate adults, eventually.” I have to agree with her. One of my favorite home teachers, ever, went home from his mission early to deal with testicular cancer, then went back and finished his mission honorably. And married, and fathered two children before adopting more. He was kind, straight-arrow, and fearless.

The girls and I have been through some Interesting Times [á là the Chinese curse] ourselves, and they are growing into amazing women. It’s hard to see my own progress, because I’m still in the middle of a lifelong renovation project, and some days the dust and chaos are ghastly.

Sitemeter tells me we are sneaking up on 20,000 page views. Inconceivable!

I have turned the heel on Eleanora but am somewhat distracted by this.

It was waiting at my desk when I got to work yesterday, an early birthday gift from Tan. *Bliss*. The way I explained Wollmeise to my coworkers is, “she’s the Prada of independent dyers, at least for the moment.”

So now I look at my Koigu and go pfft! It’s only Koigu. And I really really really want to finish Eleanora so I can play mit die Wollmeise.


The muffins for the Bosses Day breakfast are done. I set my alarm an hour early. I upended the second tray onto the kitchen floor. The ones that didn’t get smashed by the tray have been dusted off and set to cool with the first batch. The four that look like they had an argument with a Hummer and lost, are cooling for my breakfast.

As I said yesterday, good enough for who they’re for.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Guerrilla Shopping

2 pints of Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream, $1.59 each
2 5.3-oz ziggurats of goat cheese, $1.99 each
2 8-oz wedges of Asiago cheese, $2.59 each
1 6.5-oz tub of fresh Mozzarella medallions, $.99
1 12-oz tub of Mascarpone, $.99
1 pkg flatbread, $.59
6 cans carrots, $.58 each
6 cans whole corn, $.58 each
1 can sliced peaches in water, $.79
4 packets whole grain banana muffin mix, $.39 each*
2 pizza crust mixes, $.59 each
1 box saltines, $.99
1 jar diced pimientos, $1.29

And the splurges:
2 bottles of sweet and sour sauce, $.79 each
1 box creamy acorn squash and mango soup [they had me at mango], $1.59
2 loaves cocktail bread; one pumpernickel and one sourdough, $.50 each, to go with the chêvre and that fig/walnut confit which is taking up space in my fridge
1 box imported orange flavored thin cookies, [can’t find the price tag]
1 jar mincemeat, $1.99
2 tins organic fair trade herbal tea, $.99 each

Total? $38.01, which will feed me for at least two weeks with what’s already in the pantry. Possibly for a month.

* The muffin mixes are for my contribution to the Bosses Day breakfast on Tuesday. If I’m making them for myself, I use overripe bananas and pecan halves. Every day is Bosses Day; these muffins will be good enough for who they’re for, as my late mother-in-law used to say.

No, I do not respond well to extortion; why do you ask?

I also went to the nut shop [as opposed to the nuthouse] and bought sliced almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, and pistachios in the shell. Healthy snacks for Ms. Ravelled, at least once all the Ben and Jerry’s is gone! While there, I got a couple more ideas for gift baskets at Christmas.

What did I make during my cook-fest over the weekend?

One crockpot full of bean and pumpkin soup. Note to self: next time, do not put in the sweetened coconut milk by mistake. Mr. Rogers wants to know, “Can you say gacky?” Thankfully, I only made a small crockpot full of this mess. I had to wash my mouth out with Ben and Jerry’s!

One leek and spinach tart. Middlest and I had some for lunch on Saturday. I had another slice for an early breakfast when I woke at 4:00 yesterday.

Mahi mahi nuked in lemon dill sauce.

When Middlest and I walked out to the compost pile to dispose of the leek tops and some geriatric dried thyme [its thyme had run out, alas!], I saw something red over by the tomato buckets.

One tiny, battle-scarred grape tomato with ADHD; it did not want to sit still for a portrait. I may have to try this again next spring!

A batch of egg and lemon soup. I will alternate that with the turbocharged pumpkin and bean soup until both are gone.

Some sun-dried tomato muffins. Remember that steal I got on sun-dried tomatoes at the scratch-and-dent grocery store? I substituted herbes de Provence for the thyme, as my thyme is out biding on the compost pile; these are more French than Italian. I also used up the last of my generic Parmesan, so I can buy the good stuff next payday!

The recipe I used is from the Williams Sonoma muffin cookbook, p. 79. I made a double batch and took most of them to the singles’ potluck and fireside. At great personal sacrifice. And brought very few of them back home again.

Oh, and my computer didn’t get the memo about DST not ending until next weekend. I was commuting back and forth between the kitchen and my bedroom, threading blocking wires into Juno Regina while the muffins baked, when I glanced at the clock and saw that it was 1:11pm.

Church started at 1:00. Oye. I had been keeping time all morning with the clock on my computer. So I missed sacrament meeting while I finished blocking Juno, and then I was all hot and sweaty from the threading and the reaching and the bending and the grunting and the no-AC-on, and then I filled the tub a little too high and had to let it drain before getting in. Not high enough per se to flood the bathroom, just too high for the water and me to both stay in the tub at the same time if I did get in.

I give you Juno, blocking. Henceforth to be known as Juno the Sabbath Breaker. But hey, I had a shawl in the mire. I couldn’t just drive off and leave her half blocked.

The singles fireside last night was good. It was edifying, rather than merely entertaining. The food was delicious, and I got to visit with several friends during dinner. My dear friend N’s oldest son D is now a singles rep in his ward, which hosted the evening. Brother Abacus chose to sit across the table from me at dinner. He asked how I was doing. I told him I was living alone, and loving my peaceful, quiet, restful life. He hates being single. I told him that was because he hasn’t been single long enough. He asked how long that was. I told him, however long it took for it to become peaceful.

At one point D told a story from his mission in France, where he was having difficulty explaining the difference between Texas fajitas and California fajitas to a woman who thought she knew all there was to know about fajitas. He had been put in charge of a ward or branch activity, and she thought he was doing it wrong but graciously conceded at the end of the evening that the activity had been a success. I remarked that we women always like to have the last word.

Brother Abacus said, “Boy, that’s the truth!” [I’m sure that he was remembering the letter I wrote him when he ghosted on me.] I just smiled and raised an eyebrow at him.

She shoots, she scores!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Big Fat Geek Stealth Project -- Happy Birthday, Sister Mine!

[Spoiler alert: Hey Sis, if you haven’t already opened your package, do that first!]

29 September 2008
Since this was a stealth project for my sister’s birthday, I thought it best to just create a draft and save all my pictures here, then publish on or after her birthday. This is, of course, my take on brooklyntweed’s Noro Striped Scarf.

And this is the second incarnation of the beginning. I had worked about 3.5” [8.9 cm] when I realized that there was not enough contrast in values. Now: I am a quilter from way back, and Log Cabin quilts are my favorite. The secret to a successful Log Cabin quilt is that your darkest lights and your lightest darks should be similar in value. That way you get a smooth flow of light across your quilt.

Due to the roll of the Noro dice, I had begun with two lights. So I frogged the scarf back to the end of the first stripe, rewound the second ball of Noro Silk Garden, and knitted what you see above. Much better! [I wish that I had snapped a picture before I frogged it.] I think maybe the secret to working with this yarn is to wind it into a cake to see how the color changes and value changes play out, and then start knitting.

30 September 2008
This is a day’s worth of knitting. About 7” wide and 10” long [cm by cm]. I am getting the hang of stranding the color changes at the beginning of every other row. Not too much yarn, and not too little. I weighed the balls of yarn: 34 g of one and 30 g of the other. I weighed the other two balls: 55 g each. [Which makes me curious about how much the first two balls weighed before I started knitting.]

When I weighed them, I did a little mental arithmetic based on 50 g balls and calculated that at the current width, the finished scarf would be somewhere between 50 and 60 inches long [127 to 152 cm]. But if they originally weighed 55 g, the finished length would be something like 40 to 50 inches long [102 to 127 cm].

And a scarf which is 7” wide by 40” long [17.75 cm by 102 cm] would be much shorter and stubbier than brooklyntweed’s scarf, which is 5.5” wide by 72” long [14 cm by 183 cm]. I don’t think that I would be happy with it, at all.

Which means two things:
(1) I need to frog this, two rows at a time, and cast on with fewer stitches. 39 is to 7 as X is to 5.5. Good thing that algebra is one of my favorite languages! and
(2) I need to weigh these balls of yarn before casting on, so that I know what I have to work with.

So it is a very good thing that Silk Garden is only 10% mohair, n’est-ce pas?

1 October 2008
This is the scarf, worked over 31 stitches instead of brooklyntweed’s 39. It is now 5.5” wide by 5.5” long [14 cm by 14 cm]. As you can see, I have recouped about half of the progress that I lost when I frogged it. Yesterday was not a big day for knitting, Knit Night notwithstanding [say that, three times, fast!]

I also swapped needles with Middlest; she is now knitting her scarf on my Addi Turbos, and I am knitting on my Addi Naturas, and I think we are both happier. But I wanted her first knitting experience not to be with an ultra-slick needle, when there are so many other considerations for a newbie yarn-wrangler.

After I frogged Monday’s knitting and weighed the two balls of yarn, they weighed 47.8 g and 44.3 g; that explains why it appeared that I had used 10% more of one yarn than the other when knitting them up on Monday. I started with 10% less yarn. And all my careful calculations from yesterday are off, because there is about a 20% difference in weight between the lighter balls and the heavier ones. I have no idea how long this scarf will end up, and I find this width more pleasing to the eye.

I guess this means that if I knit anything with Noro in the future, it would be a good idea to purchase several extra balls. It also explains why the ball band says +/- 50 g. Seems like there is a 10% leeway, and I got lucky with the second balls?

2 October 2008
I’ve re-knit all the yarn that I frogged. Onward, onward, to new and fascinating color combinations!

3 October 2008
New knitting here.

And here. I am almost to the ends of the first two balls and will rewind both of them before leaving for work.

4 October 2008
Lots of progress since yesterday morning. I was going to display these photos in the order in which I knitted them, but then I thought it might be fun to string them together so you could get a feel for what the scarf looks like.

And the next.

And another.

And the last, for today.

OK, that’s an experiment I’m not sure I want to repeat again. At least not until I have better photography skills and can keep the individual shots more or less the same size. This reminds me way too much of the herky-jerky video style that was so popular a few years ago.

5 October 2008
Ten inches of pure knitting bliss yesterday. The scarf is now 56” [142 cm] long; I stopped at 60” [152 cm] and have decided to use the rest of it for a bulky smoke ring scarf for Lark’s birthday. I want to try that multicolored spiral knitting technique that Wendy blogged about.

And this, just below it.

6 October 2008
I finished with 43.7 g of the 247H [second] dark and 38.5 g of the 264A [teals]. Which means that I used 60.8 g of the teals, all 47.8 g of the 245A [first] dark and 11.3 g of the 247H, or 59.1 g total darks; I bound off using the 264A teals.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Middle-Aged Moments & Childbirth Words

So Thursday I had another one of those mornings when I tried to cram too many activities into too little time and wound up driving in. Not an entirely awful thing, because I wanted to pick up something to take to the sisters we visit teach. Preferably something cute and perishable but non-fattening, because the Season of Eating fast approacheth, and the Psalm of the Love Handles will soon be heard throughout the land, and because we love our sisters and don’t want to give them another mouth to feed or another objet to be dusted.

I think these are almost terminally cute. Not warty like some of the gourds I saw, nor some clichéd variation on the theme of orange. Something like unto the love child of a traditional pumpkin and a wheel of Camembert that is past its sell-by date. Because nothing says “thinking of you” like a pumpkin that resembles moldy cheese, right?

OK, all that mail that we didn’t get last week or earlier this week showed up Thursday morning. The scanning operator went down to fetch the second installment of mail, after I had brought back four pieces of bona fide legal mail and half a dozen bits of junk mail from the earlier run. She lugged two envelopes back to her scanner before lunch. One was about 4” thick, and the other about 5” thick. Yes, we measured. All from the same law firm and pertaining to one case.

And I want to be a legal secretary, why? Though strictly speaking, most of that stuff would have been dealt with by the paralegals, but oye!

We were short-handed that day. One person out on vacation, another who called in, and two stuck in a conference call that was scheduled to last most of the day. One of the people who was stuck in that call didn’t know that it was going to be an all-day call until she got to work that morning. I didn’t know until she told me that there was going to be a meeting that inhaled one-third of our team. And the phone calls and the faxes just kept coming.

Most of the time I genuinely feel like part of a team. We like each other, we work well together, and we keep the office running smoothly. Most of the time. Thursday was not one of those times. I fired off a letter to the team. The scheduling nightmare impacted my breaks, my lunch hour [I had to ask a legal secretary to cover for me, which the office manager does not want to happen; she wants all backup to come from other team members as often as possible] and my cross-training. I had the other available team member read it over before I sent it. She thought it was civil and to the point while expressing my [our] frustration at having to do the work of six people.

I told her I would take a short lunch and help her with the scanning. When I came back to my desk half an hour later, my regular backup was sitting there, the other team member was helping with the scanning; they had exited the meeting when they got my email, which was not my intent. I wasn’t upset with them; I was upset at being out of the loop so I could at least gird my loins and get a running start at the day, or set up my relief beforehand.

I may get barked at on Tuesday, when our team leader returns to the office. I intend to stand my ground. Either we are a team all the time, and everybody gets informed of the meetings, etc., that will impact the team, or we are not in fact a team. They can’t have it both ways.

If I want to schedule some time off, I check with my two backups before checking with the office manager. I make sure that it’s not a Monday, unless I am taking a week of vacation as I did when I moved, because Mondays are our crazy mail days, and I typically spend up to three hours opening envelopes and pulling staples so the scanning operator can do her job. I don’t take the last couple of days of the month off, because my primary backup is doing her end of month reports. I try not to schedule my dental appointments on the days that we have our support staff meeting. I make sure it’s not my week to get the early mail.

Simple, basic consideration for my team members. Two of them return the favor. Two of them have a side business or an interest that takes them out of the office frequently, and we have to work around them. And the other is so amazingly brilliant at what she does, that she gets sent to teach other offices to help them streamline their operations.

Oh well, at least I’m not bored.

Eleanora is zipping along; I have six rows done on the heel flap, so it will probably be done and the second sock cast on by the middle of next week. As there’s nothing visually exciting about a slip-stitch heel flap, no picture today. Instead, here’s what I saw when I parked my car downtown, one day last week. The WFAA tower.

The Belo [bee-low] Building. They own WFAA, the Dallas Morning News, and a bunch of other stuff.

An office building through the trees in the early morning light.

The south side of the Founders Square building.

The west side of Founders Square.

I came home from work last night and had two whole-wheat mini bagels spread with salmon cream cheese, with half an apple dipped in Nutella for dessert. Later on I popped a small bag of popcorn and ate it while reading the book of Louisa May Alcott short stories, which are charming! And then I went to bed and slept like a rock.

Today, except for grocery shopping, I do not even want to leave the house. The weather is cool and crisp, and I am all about the baking. I am also going to fire up the mini-crockpot for a small batch of soup. I want to fill the fridge with muffins and quick breads and soups, so that next week all I have to do is come home and nuke something for dinner. My goal is to spend less than $10 at the deli in my office building next week. That means I will need to make my own double-chocolate muffins. I’d better get busy!

But first, there will be a nice hot bath and a bit of knitting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Fourthborn!

I’ve mentioned the best friend who came into my life shortly before Secondborn’s arrival. Her kids were the ones who gave Firstborn and Secondborn chickenpox, because that’s what friends are for. Her younger daughter is midway in age between my two oldest girls, and the three of them played well together. She was happy with her three kids, and I was happy with mine while open to having a fourth,when to her utter astonishment she found herself pregnant again. One of those situations where they had thought they were done, but Heaven had one last, extremely choice, spirit waiting to join their family. He has been a blessing and a joy to them.

I went to visit her in the hospital after his birth. She had had some complications that kept her in there longer than the baby’s out send her home time-frame of that hospital. And then I went to the nursery to say hi to her son, who was snoozing contentedly. As I turned to leave, I felt as if I had walked into an invisible wall, for I had the unmistakable impression that it was time to start asking for another baby to love. I was still nursing Middlest at the time; she would have been about eighteen months old.

But I was crazy about babies, and I rather enjoyed the “faith without works is dead” part of getting them to Earth, and their father was more than happy to cooperate [my girls are now going eww]. And with a little help from Jeff Bridges ~ that would be the boxcar scene from Starman, after which I went home and woke up my husband ~ I shortly found myself pregnant and nursing and exhausted and also delighted.

Fourthborn’s birthday is two days before my sister’s and nine days before Secondborn’s. She is my most private child, with a mordant wit and a vocabulary to rival my own. She is also, sadly, allergic to wool. Which I didn’t know when I made her this dress from my own handspun yarn, dyed at a workshop with the Dallas guild sometime in the late 80’s.

Neck detail, with a little discoloration either from the closet at La Casa Cucaracha, or from having been jammed into a cardboard box for 20 years.

I went to the LYS a couple of months ago and could find no non-wool yarn that was pretty enough for her, in the right shade of green, that I could afford. So I found her one perfect copper-enameled button suitable for a Renaissance cloak, which I gave to her on Tuesday night. I think I forgot to snap a picture of it before putting it into the gift bag, and I don’t have time to ransack my photo library. So you’ll just have to trust me that we both think it’s gorgeous.

Just like her, all maternal prejudice aside. Happy birthday, honey!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Old Building, Much Rain, Good Weather for Thinking

Another resurrected draft; I began it in September 2007. This is what the fax machine looked like when I got to work that day.

This is what the ceiling above the fax machine looked like.

I had building engineers and maintenance people hovering around my desk for awhile. All of them cute, most of them young enough that I could have given birth to them. *sigh* Ladders. Clanking tools. Mops. Muttering. [Theirs, mine.]

I also had a serious case of the munchies. Yogurt from the big carton while checking email after I took LittleBit to seminary but before I put on my “I know what I’m doing” clothes and went to pick her up, take her to school, and drive to work. [This part was obviously written before parent-taught drivers ed and LittleBit getting her hands on Phineas, which is what she named the 1992 Acura which used to belong to Secondborn.] A pint of chocolate milk at my desk as I fired up the switchboard. The last half dozen gingersnaps as I finished up the scanning and waited for the first batch of envelopes to open and staples to pull. A wrestle between whether to eat the Hershey’s Special Dark or the Nutri-Grain bar before I decided that the gingersnaps would only beat up the Nutri-Grain bar if I sent it down the hatch. [Isn’t rationalization amusing if somebody else is doing it?] Note: I typed this shortly before signing the lease to the interim apartment; it’s fair to assume that some displacement eating was going on.

Visualize picture two packages of flour tortillas, 48-ct each. One of my paralegals came in [last September] with a bagful of groceries that her sons had bought. They went to the right store but got the wrong kind of tortillas. So LittleBit and I suddenly had eight dozen flour tortillas. My fridge runneth’ed over, woohoo! I put most of them in the freezer and have been taking them out as needed. It’s now thirteen months later, and I still have six four of them left in the fridge. [I felt the need for a couple of breakfast quesadillas.]

See, this is what being a woman is all about. It’s not about competition; it’s about cooperation and seeking to bless one another.

I read a fascinating article in “Time” [back then] during one of my breaks. Apparently believing that they had wrung all possible angst from the issue of working mothers vs. stay-at-home mothers ~ I’ve been both and can argue both sides of the question with passion and anecdotal evidence ~ the media discovered a new flame to fan: “grey hair vs. dyed” for aging Boomers as a litmus test of feminist orthodoxy. One more ploy to divide women into “us vs. them” rather than uniting us against evil in its myriad forms. Sheesh!

I guess you would have to call me a neo-traditional. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, “growing up” being a relative term. Maybe it’s fairer to say that I became chronologically older and physically taller. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve completely grown up. But I digress.

I remember that we thought nothing of it when John Wayne got exasperated with Maureen O’Hara and turned her over his knee. What was truly amusing, 35 years later, was when I tried to explain to my oldest daughter and her friends how rapidly the popular culture had changed in a generation and a half. [I had rented “McClintock” because in many respects it’s a classic, and I knew there would be no naked bodies to embarrass a mixed group of church kids.] Very productive field for discussion. The girls were indignant, and the boys were very, very quiet.

I think I really expected to grow up and become June Cleaver. All I wanted from the time I was a little girl, was to be a mommy. [Which I am, in spades.] I remember dragging my baby doll around at my first house ~ which means that I was eight or younger, because we moved to Boise on the hottest day of summer in 1960 ~ and telling some imaginary playmate that it was really sad about my baby, because her daddy was dead. Tragic sigh.

I knew nothing about the birds and the bees at that time, but I did know that you needed a mommy and a daddy, and I had no brothers, and none of the boys in the neighborhood wanted to play house. I could be Annie Oakley to their Sheriff Lefty, but they sure-as-shootin’ didn’t want to be Ward Cleaver.

You know, I don’t think a whole lot has changed in that respect, judging by the brethren I see at the local singles’ events.

Semi-random and semi-related: I took a lot of unconscious and therefore unspoken assumptions into my first marriage. One was that I was supposed to get pregnant on our honeymoon and start raising a family. He had the crazy idea that we should save up the down payment on a house before we began to be fruitful and multiply. He was supposed to earn the living; I was supposed to decorate our home. He was a saver. I was a consumer. He was logical, shy and serious. I was hyper-emotional, just starting to come out of my shell, and prodigiously creative. I wanted to talk about things as they came up. Loudly, of course. He wanted to think about things and then discuss them calmly and rationally.

I learned a lot about how not to be married, during that two-year first marriage. I also became the worst sort of man-hating feminist those last six months. [May I interject, totally not his fault.] As opposed to the non-rabid semi-feminist I am now, one who has made peace with men in general while castigating particular men individually, as the occasion requires.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled year. Yesterday turned out weird, in the best possible way. It took longer to block Secondborn’s scarf than I had planned, so I was late leaving for work. Which meant that I needed to drive in. And I was just not willing to only have a commute to show for all that gas used. So I grabbed a skirt and my dressier clogs and my black leather jacket and my pantihose, and threw them all into the trunk. And after work, I went to the temple. Where I ran into my recently-widowed friend [with the unusual surname; you girls will know who I mean], and I not only did the work for ten sisters in the temple file but half a dozen of her or her late husband’s relatives. And one of the sisters who officiates in the temple turns out to be a knitter who would like to start designing her own stuff. Could I help?

Oh yeah, I think I could. She has my email address now, and I hope to hear from her soon. I think it’s amazing that Heaven could take my disorganized morning and turn it into multiple serendipities.

I bought a book on the clearance rack at the church bookstore, where I went in to change into my skirt and nicer shoes. A short story by Louisa May Alcott, something Christmasy. $3.99.

Secondborn’s scarf turned out well; you’ll see pictures in about a week and a half.

And I’m almost done with the cuff on Eleanora. It looks rather like a Mod skirt for an American Girl doll at this point. Or a gansey for my foot. I’m loving how balanced the pattern is between knits and purls, solids and lace.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

“Small” Blessings

Recognizing that there is no such thing as a small blessing or small miracle, only an inability to properly recognize its fullness.

This is my week to go get the early mail. On Monday, when I was coming back up the elevator, I had a chat with a genial man about my knitting. [Yes, I take my knitting with me to the post office. Sometimes I wait two minutes for our mail; some days it’s closer to half an hour. I could stand there and fume and fidget, or I can add a few stitches or a few rows to the project du jour.]

Says he, “I can see how that would be very comforting and relaxing. You must be a really happy camper.”

Well, I try to be. I get a little testy when I get the 45th fax-to-the-land-line of the day. I have been known to talk back to the incoming fax machine, “Do I look like a fax machine?” Apparently somebody else’s vision is worse than my own, if they think that I do.

When I was getting out of the car after picking up the mail yesterday morning, I realized that I was no longer wearing my electronic badges for the building and for our suite. [“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” Well, actually, we do.] I hoped that I had not lost it somewhere between the car and the post office, or the post office and the car. Not a good thing. When I got back to my desk, my backup had clipped it to a box where I would see it almost immediately. Apparently it had fallen onto the counter when I was picking up my planner, the car keys, the parking meter key, and my knitting.

I am so thankful that I did not have to email the office manager and ask for two new electronic keys. I have worked for the company for nine and a half years and this office for seven, and the only reason I have needed new keys is because the old ones were replaced when the key system changed and when my suite key was scheduled to expire. I have really tried to be a grownup about this. And since I am the gatekeeper at work, it was especially frustrating and embarrassing to find myself sans keys.


The two attorneys who share their magazines with me brought me another bountiful harvest. I have two issues of “O”, one “In Style”, one “This Old House”, and an issue of “Texas Highways”. I foresee much happy reading while shawls and scarves block, and while I rest my weary hands from the typing test that I took. [And which, Heaven be praised, I will not need to take again.] Apparently in my office manager’s world, a net score of 65wpm is good. I remember when I typed 100wpm and better. But I am 30 years older, and my hands are not as supple as when I was a sprout. Thank goodness for knitting and blogging, both of which keep my hands moving on a daily basis.

I prayed to do the best I was capable of, and so I’m not really cranky with myself, just wistful and determined to improve, if I can. I did a little practice typing right before lunch, to warm up. The editorial from “Texas Highways”, and a couple of essays. I’m sure that helped.

Office manager’s last words to me as she went out the door, after telling me where she’d be for the next week and a half, were, “And I’m very impressed with your typing.”

I told her, “I’m not. I’m going to work on it.” Pause. “But thank you.” I’m usually way better at accepting compliments than that. She rolled her eyes and said, “whatever” and gave me a semi-exasperated grin.

OK, I know that some of you are here hoping for some knitting. Secondborn’s scarf is soaking as I type [at nowhere near 65wpm; it’s dark-thirty, and my hands are still waking up]. I’ll pin it out before leaving for work. My friend Rebecca has loaned me her blocking wires again, so in a few days I should have beauty shots of Adamas, Juno Regina, and this scarf. And then I can mark them as FO’s on Ravelry and scoot them out of the way.

When a project is done except for blocking, I keep it listed as “in progress” while marking it 100%. Since I tend to finish several ~ or many ~ objects before blocking them, that keeps the projects at the head of my Ravelry list where they are easier to find. I might forget to update them with shots of the blocked object if I let them mingle freely on the list.

It’s not elegant, but it works for me.

Not much actual knitting progress yesterday, since I drove into work for Knit Night, and since I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, after work, before picking up Middlest. Half-price burger at Sonic on the drive home. Multiple phone conversations with Fourthborn, who was walking home from her job. Intercepting them halfway between their work and their new home, taking them home, getting my empty storage bin that had held Renaissance costumes, giving her her birthday present three days early, picking up Middlest’s dolls, stopping at LittleBit’s restaurant to give her a quick hug and an “I love you”, driving to the south end of town to pick up Middlest.

No wonder I was only up for about an hour of knitting and visiting last night! I am looking forward to this morning’s train ride into work and tonight’s ride home, preferably on the same train as Trainman and Ms. SMU. And lots and lots of happy, cooperative knitting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trying to fit it all in + tap dancing

I really enjoy Annie Modesitt’s blog. She put this link in her blog post, and I followed it to its natural conclusion. Gene Kelly could have parked his tap shoes under my kitchen table any time.

Amazing knitting progress yesterday! I am done with the cankle decreases and am galloping away toward the heel flap. Eleanora is a much easier sock than she looks, especially once you’ve figured out how to get gauge or how to tweak the pattern to suit your own unique proportions.

I inadvertently got on the early train last night, but one of the charming women who sometimes sits with me in the morning was across the aisle with her knitting, and we chatted briefly. Mostly we just tended to our knitting.

So, no Trainman last night, but so much fun with sticks and string that I barely noticed his absence once I got over my initial dismay at being on the “wrong” train. I got home in time to nuke a nice assortment of leftovers and then update my online genealogical records with information in my book of remembrance.

My cousin’s second wife’s children are working on some of my lines. My brother-in-law, who is not LDS, was bitten severely by the genealogy bug twenty or more years ago. I have four floppies that he sent me in 2002, with 2700 names on them that I cannot access because he uses a different software than I do [I suspect that if I take them to the Family History Center, there is a program that will convert them into something I can use.]

I function best if I have a routine that I can follow, with wiggle room for serendipitous moments. [Here is where I fly off on one of those tangents that so bumfuzzle my girls.] When I was a little girl, I used to read the Sears, Roebuck catalogue and daydream about the pretty clothes and all the neat toys. One of the things I liked best, which I never had, were the day-of-the-week undies, neatly embroidered with Sunday through Saturday. They came in little-girl sizes, and also in grownup sizes; Saturday night for grownups was frequently black with red embroidery, and there was no way that Mom could explain that logic adequately to my seven-year-old mind.

I don’t know if the days of the week were to help little girls get their calendars straight or to make sure that they actually changed their undies every day. But I thought they were cool, back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I wonder if they still make them. BittyBit is sounding out words [at not-quite-four] and might be highly amused to have a set. And possibly OCD enough to spazz if she were wearing Tuesday on a Friday, so maybe it would not be a kind thing to do.

Another seeming tangent. When I was a girl, we dried our dishes with tea towels that Mom or Gram had embroidered. When I was five, Gram taught me how to do a buttonhole stitch and make a fine, even outline stitch. Some of our tea towels had “Wash on Monday”, “Iron on Tuesday”, or “Bake on Thursday” embroidered on them. I don’t remember which days were for which chores, but you get the idea. It was a way to break the never-ending tasks of homemaking down into manageable chunks and keep the work going in an orderly progression.

I am still trying to find the new shape of my days and weeks, now that I have an empty nest and a long commute. Sunday, of course, is for worship and for family. Tuesday, except for the nights when we have a Relief Society meeting, is Knit Night. Wednesdays are no longer gobbled up by Young Women activities.

My visiting teaching companion and I are learning each other’s schedules. And it looks like Thursdays and Sundays will be best for us to make our visits. I have two and possibly all three scheduled for this Thursday night.

I really enjoyed doing family history work last night, so that could kill two birds with one stone: an automatic Family Home Evening activity [spent helping dead relatives, so it counts as family] and an assurance that I will be obedient about gathering and organizing family names and thus not waste the time that I spent in the family history class this summer.

So maybe something like this?

Sunday - church and family and a nap; feeding the missionaries once a month
Monday - family history research
Tuesday - Knit Night or Relief Society HFPE meetings
Wednesday - me night; window shopping, browsing bookstores, personal maintenance
Thursday - visiting teaching or otherwise serving people
Friday - temple service
Saturday - errands, miscellaneous service or projects, having dinner guests

I’m going to try this for awhile and see how it goes. It would be really cool if I could eventually get one of my ancestral lines traced back to Moses [Supposes].

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rants on movies, fashions, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and knitting.

I really miss Movie Mom’s work on Yahoo! I appreciate how she analyzed each movie for profanity, nudity and sex, alcohol and drugs, violence and scariness, and diversity issues. I watched movies that I wouldn’t have thought I’d have liked, and enjoyed them, because of her reviews. And I have avoided movies that initially sounded right up my alley but would have grievously offended me had I watched them without checking her “take” first.

Her review of “Music and Lyrics” was right on the money; it was surprisingly tame for a PG-13. And I am inordinately fond of surprisingly tame. I rented the DVD months and months ago and eventually bought it. The send-up of 80’s fashions and videos was hilarious. Sophie’s indictment of inappropriate sexual displays by tween idols made me cheer, and her sister’s mortification at said tween idol’s concert antics was refreshing. Hugh Grant was almost likable. Drew Barrymore was warm and gracious and charmingly ditzy, though I think they overplayed her klutziness. [Same with Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and Sandra Bullock in the “Miss Congeniality” movies.]

When are the people in Hollywood going to realize that middle-aged women with serious disposable income [and also people like me] want to see movies that are thoughtful and well-crafted and deserving of a rating better than R? Something of the same caliber as a Jane Austen story but maybe minus the corsets. For that matter, when are the parents in this country going to stop giving their children money to see the drivel that is being produced by the schlockmeisters? If we didn’t support that garbage, studios would sooner or later return to the kinds of entertainment that made them wealthy in the first place.

When are we going to start boycotting the tartification of our daughters and the slobification of our sons? Hey, moms, we don’t have to buy the newest and the latest. It’s our money; we work hard for it! We can stand up to the foolish traditions and peer pressure of the other mothers. And we can offer our sons the choice of wearing a belt around their midsections or staying home and scrubbing the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. Or emptying the litterbox. Or performing a small, anonymous act of service for their neighbors instead of a small, anonymous act of tagging.

When did it become politically incorrect to say “in our family, we don’t [fill in the blank with the we don’t of your choice]”? When did we hand over our spines?

I need chocolate.

Behold: actual knitting progress. About an inch on the cuff of the first Eleanora. This is where I was when I went to church yesterday. I am now done with chart #1 and have just finished doing the math for my modifications of chart #2, to allow for my fuller calves; it’s in my project notes on Ravelry, so that the second sock has a chance of being the same size.

As non-clown-barfy as this yarn is, it’s still a little too busy for the pattern. I really should be working it in a solid yarn to show off all the knit/purl loveliness. But the yarn is the right grist for the pattern, and it feels so wonderful flowing through my hands. I am not going to frog and start over. I may knit it again [someday] in Gloss Lace, where I could probably knit it as written because of the way silk yarn blooms when washed. Something to think about, anyway.

Here is my finished front door.

I wanted to show you a shot of what the duplex looked like when I moved in, in June. But all the pictures I have saved, have the house number, and I am not in the mood to Photoshop them out. What a difference a new door, new roof, and multiple coats and colors of paint make! The porch light was bronze when my friend bought it. The mailbox was black and now resembles an illegitimate child of the Tin Man. [She is still tweaking the color; for now it blends reasonably well into the siding but not so much that the letter carrier cannot find it to fill it with bills and junk mail.]

Here is a link to David Reidy’s blog post and podcast #80 “Stick to Your Knitting”. Take a few minutes to listen to his essay on activism and the responsibility to vote. The music is nice, too. He has all sorts of links that take you interesting places. And a thoughtful review of Alice Starmore’s The Celtic Connection, which you would find in my personal library if you knew where to look. He is also on hiatus until the second of November [school holidays in Australia]. Middlest, you will love his voice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not Exactly Kosher

I was in a whimsical mood on the way to the temple Friday night. This is what I saw while grabbing a burger on the way.

Ken’s Man’s Shop. [Barbie’s beau is gainfully employed?] Well, this explains why I haven’t been able to find a good man at the local church dances. Apparently you have to buy one! And in North Dallas, they certainly don’t fit into my budget.

I wore jeans to work on Friday, with a dressy T-shirt and a jacket. One does not wear jeans to the temple. I also brought a skirt. I had no knee-high hose. Thus, a trip to the grocery store along the way. I wondered why there were two Tom Thumbs in close proximity. This picture explains it.

One for the gentiles at Royal and Preston; this one at Preston and Forest maybe a mile away. I was standing between Lorelai and an SUV and had pulled my skirt on over my head and down over my jeans and was wiggling my jeans down toward my ankles when two men came out of the store to enter the SUV. I smiled at the one and said, “I’ll just be a minute”.

Have you ever tried to get into a compact car in a long skirt with your blue jeans around your ankles? Once I got my jeans off, it was easy to swap out red ankle socks for knee-high hose, change my shoes, and drive decorously off to the temple.

So, not exactly kosher, but not for one moment was I immodest. And did they ever have a story to tell their wives when they got home!

I took this picture when I left the temple. I walked in tired, frazzled, and dutiful. I walked out calm and happy, wrapped snugly in peace as if it were a shawl.

I think of the men who are the constants in my life. My two wonderful sons-in-law and Fourthborn’s Fiancé. Brother Sushi and Brother Karitas and dear old grumpy dead Brother Stilts, whom I often suspect of being my own personal guardian angel, now that he has graduated from earth life. Ben and Jerry. Orion. And this one.

Moroni is my homeboy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Politics, Prudence, Photos, Purity, Pontificating, Purchases, and Projects

[The late Neal A. Maxwell would be so, well … Proud! He was the avatar of alliteration. Oh, how I miss him.]

SuburbanCorrespondent said it well.

Orson Scott Card said it even better:

The church says it best of all:

Why the Word of Wisdom is inspired, but nowhere near as funny as this.

My friend S at work looked at my desk and started giggling helplessly.

When she was finally able to speak, she picked up the ball of yarn, squeezed it gently, and said, “When I saw this, I thought ‘Just a spool full of yarn makes the medicine go down’.”

[Except when the office manager calls you into her office and politely requests that there be no more knitting in staff meetings. Sigh. I completely support her right to make the rules. I will comply. I do not promise to stay awake, or to refrain from snoring. Put me in a dark room and make me be quiet? I will fall asleep, unless there is testosterone very nearby and the source of said testosterone, i.e., my (currently nonexistent, in case you hadn’t noticed) spousal unit, has an intense and vested interest in keeping me awake. I fall asleep a lot. Next question, please!]

Maybe we should teach Congress to knit. And those who call themselves reporters. Right before we vote them all off the island? [We will *not* be voting my office manager off the island. She is a mighty fine office manager, knitting muggleness aside. Mugglehood?]

My KnitPicks order came in the mail yesterday. You know what this means, don’t you? Eleanora may be going back into purdah. And I am once again yarn-whispering with that gorgeous, chunky turquoise Chelsea Silk. Fat yarn trumps red. Who knew?

Much mischief in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beware the carefully modulated wrath

Of the mother of the woman scorned! I have in my possession a copy of the separation papers, faxed by Middlest’s STBX. I texted him on Wednesday and told him that if he did not fax them by 5:00pm yesterday, I would call his CO today. The papers which have been oh-so-difficult for him to deliver to Middlest, either by email or snailmail, were waiting on my desk when I got to work.

For the most part, they seem to be in order. There is [understandably] no mention of his adultery and future offspring. He also omitted to mention the amount he had promised to give Middlest to move her possessions back home or his promise to cover her cell phone bill until the contract expires.

I texted him, “What’s up with that?”

He referred to the private contract they both previously signed re: the cell phone bill, and he said that they need to set up another one for the agreed amount for moving expenses. I asked him to please draw it up and told him we would probably want to see that incorporated into the separation agreement. [That is my impression; I have not yet run it by any of the attorneys in my office.]

Where the military bases are larger, Middlest could file through Navy Legal and possibly divorce him at little to no cost. Here they have one attorney, who does not handle divorces. She referred me to the Tarrant County Bar Association’s lawyer referral service, which gave me two names.

My attorneys are all on retreat, with minimal internet access; I’ve asked them if they know either or both of these attorneys. The attorney who drew up my will ~ who is honest and conservative and the farthest thing from a money-grubber I can think of ~ thought he can do an uncontested divorce for roughly the equivalent of one month’s take-home [after taxes, insurance, 401K, and debt retirement, what I actually live on is a paltry amount]; the filing alone is $250, which I can come up with.

What I am hoping is that one of my attorneys will do the legal gruntwork for me, for free, so that all we are out is the $250 to file, plus $20 for a half-hour consultation with one of the military-savvy referred lawyers.

On to happier topics. In the “I’ve been saying it wrong” department. Nutella. I’ve been pronouncing it Nut + Ella. As in Cinderella. But the website says it should be pronounced New + TELL + Uh. [Italian is fairly high up on my list of languages I want to learn.] And they have a contest where you can win a case of it! Be still, my heart!

I finished Secondborn’s scarf last night. Almost this morning. [Photos to be shared on her birthday, after I’ve blocked the scarf.] I managed to stay awake long enough to pick up 104 stitches on a provisional cast-on for the cuff of the first Eleanora.

I will take the pattern as written to work with me today and knit the hemmed cuff and a few inches of leg. I think I may end up attempting to knit this from the toe up, because my cankles are 33% larger than the pattern specifies.

How is this “happier”? The yarn is fifteen bajillion shades of red, vermilion, and pale pumpkiny yellows. Not one bit of teal, turquoise or blue anywhere to be found. This is the infamous “Burning Bunnies” yarn from last year’s sock yarn gift exchange with my knitting group. The real name of the color is “Burning Embers”, but somebody’s middle-aged eyes read it wrong, to much hilarity.

Last night I had leftover cream of corn soup with those funky croutons, and quesadillas nuked in the microwave. This morning I am ravenous, and since I am driving in I think I will pull over at RaceTrac and treat myself to a small to medium hot chocolate. It’s that kind of weather, finally, here in North Texas. Woohoo!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fun and Games in Texas

The attorneys are all off at their retreat. Mice are playing. Specifically, we are planning a belated Bosses’ Day celebration for a couple of weeks from now. Because of my irreverent creative writing skills, the others asked me to design this year’s invitation. I pulled a free legal form from the internet and used it as the basis for a subpoena. We have summoned [!] the attorneys to breakfast, week after next, which was the first time that most of them had free.

I found my book of remembrance [genealogical records]. I knew it was in a box in my studio. I just didn’t know which one. And I confirmed the information I had entered by memory into the program which formats it for submission for temple ordinances. Check. And I went to print off the form I needed in order to do the proxy work for my beloved aunt at our ward temple night tomorrow, and it has already been reserved. The daughter-in-law of her daughter-in-law had emailed me a few weeks ago, asking for information and permission. I told her I would like to do the work myself, but this morning I just shot her another email and told her to go ahead and do it, with my blessing. I’ll find another name to do or help one of my ward members with one of theirs.

Much, much knitterly progress yesterday! Our monthly staff meeting stretched to two and a half hours [most unusual], and I had my knitting in there with me. So now I have six repeats left on Secondborn’s scarf. Which means that I need to take the yarn and pattern for Eleanora with me when I hop on the train in an hour. Or a book. But if I were a betting woman, which I am not, I would bet on more knitting.

Got my visiting teaching report entered into the system at church last night. Also got the gate code for the security gate around our building, though I tailgated a member of the bishopric when he opened it last night.

Nice visit with Trainman last night. He is thinking of asking one of the women he knows out for coffee or a drink. I told him, “Baby steps, Trainman, baby steps”. And countered with the fact that the Silver Fox was back in Sunday School last Sunday and I still don’t have a name for him. Trainman is spending Saturday night drinking with his buddies [oye!], something he does about twice a year. I told him that I was going to the dance, and we would compare notes next Monday about which of us had the better time. [Based on the last few dances I went to, the odds are not in my favor, but Brother Sushi will be the DJ-du-soir so at least the music will be stellar. Even if most of the men are not.]

I suspect that I at least will remember if I had a good time, or not. Visiting with my friends and exchanging hugs will almost guarantee that I have a good time. I haven’t seen most of that bunch since before the move in June, what with unpacking boxes, gas prices, and this rebellious foot of mine. And who knows? Maybe Brother Right will be there, and I will dance the night away.

Yes, of course I will be taking my knitting. You had to ask?

I picked up a gallon of milk after my church work last night, and an allegedy healthy frozen dinner. It was OK, but just barely. It would probably have been better had I baked it rather than nuked it, but at that point I was ready to gnaw the leg off a chair. I finished the lemon squares.

My most recent match from the Churchboy Dating Service was a man I had a very brief crush on eight years ago, one of the four guys I asked out during that Leap Year who turned me down. Kindly, in his case, and we are still friends. I know him a lot better now, and I just snorted when I saw his profile in my inbox.

Looks like any chaste snuggling that will take place this fall, will be with my grandson. And I am just fine with that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lemon bars go skydiving

The good thing about baking lemon bars in a disposable pan, without greasing the pan, is that when you laugh hysterically at the Harlot’s new post or YouTube’s on Mason Dixon Knitting, and the pan sails off the corner of the desk, only a few crumbs come flying out onto the floor.

Because it would be a shame to waste any of the gooey goodness. Here is my friend Sooz’s most recent column for Meridian. First paragraph after the sub-heading Back to the Drawing Board. Last sentence. The next paragraph is pretty cool, too. And right when I needed to hear good counsel from my wise friend. Who is no longer sadly blogless. Welcome to the dark side, Sooz!

I have figured out part of what I want. [At least in one small aspect of my life.] One brief moment of clarity where I knew, “Yes, that is exactly what I would like. If it’s right.” Now I just have to be patient and listen to find out if that’s a good idea. To that end, I will be joining my ward on Friday after work for ward temple night. My plan is to do temple work for one of my ancestors, and then to find a quiet place to sit and ponder and ask a bajillion questions or twelve.

Lark’s concert was amazing. The ninth-grade boys were impressively off-key, but they are polishing [or developing] their talents, and I admire that. I suspect they will sound as good in three years as the male varsity choir sounded tonight. Show choir did a rendition of “Proud Mary” to make Tina Turner proud: shimmying and foot stomping and hair swinging. Another choir sang a Russian Alleluia [Bortnyansky] a capella, which moved me to tears. They then followed that with “Wayfarin’ Stranger” and “Grandfather’s Clock”, both of which always make me cry.

Great rendition of “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor” by the male varsity choir. I used to sing a parody of that when the girls were little:

What do we do with a poopy baby?
What do we do with a poopy baby?
What do we do with a poopy baby, earl-aye in the morning?
Change her little diaper and wipe her bottom,
Change her little diaper and wipe her bottom,
Change her little diaper and wipe her bottom, earl-aye in the morning.

[Because you come here for the randomness, right?]

I taught Middlest to bind off in the auditorium before the concert, and next Tuesday I will teach her how to weave in her ends. Probably not before. Monday night was laundry, last night was culture with the family, tonight is learning how to enter a report on the computer at church for my calling in Relief Society, Thursday I hope to be at home with the phone off and my feet up, Friday is temple work, and Saturday? Saturday looks to be crazy-busy.

At least the laundry is caught up for a couple of weeks. And I can wear the outfit I have in mind to work today, because all the pieces are clean and I know where they are. Proving that the age of miracles is not past.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No Knit Night Tonight + A Musical Revue + 8th Grade All Over Again

Lark has a choir concert. I’m meeting Firstborn and Middlest at the snooty high school. I like their auditorium much better than the one where most of my girls went. More leg room, and adequate parking on-premises.

I emailed Middlest and told her that if she’d bring her knitting, I’d teach her how to bind off.

When Middlest and Fourthborn and I were tooling about in the car before Saturday night’s birthday dinner, I was telling them about my dinner with Trainman. Fourthborn said, “For some reason, I have this bit of song stuck in my head.”

We are amazingly good at mis-hearing the lyrics of a song [deliberately or otherwise] and taking turns at building a parody. This is what we came up with, to the tune of “Mr. Sandman”.

“Oh, Mr. Trainman, bake me a cake
I’m going crazy, for goodness’ sake.”

“All of my children think you’re nifty.”

“Oh, how I really wish that you were fifty!”

At which point we were all giggling hysterically, and I could barely see to drive. I don’t remember if that was before or after my cell phone [which had mysteriously set itself to always vibrate, and I hadn’t been able to get it switched back] went off in my pocket and caused me to whoop. Sometimes I forget how ticklish I can be. Or how easily startled.

I’m sure that the friend on the other end of the line thought I had lost my ever-lovin’ mind. I plead the Fifth. The girls got my phone fixed for me. No more goosey surprises, I hope.

I compared the stats on my first swatch for Eleanora back in December or January with the new swatch. This swatch is looser. [Do I knit more tightly in cooler weather? Or was I peeved about something?] I think that if I want to get the gauge she recommends, I would need to knit this on 0000’s and 000’s. But I also need to knit the sock larger. I may end up doing the heels and soles on a smaller circ, like I did with Anastasia. I think I’m just going to have to cast on and work a few inches and try it on and be prepared to frog it and start over.

When I went to bed last night, I had a bit over 16 repeats to go on Secondborn’s scarf.

I finally figured out who Trainman looks like. Harry Potter, all grown up, minus the scar. How did I figure this out, you ask? We had a client sign in recently, with a first name similar to one of the minor characters in the HP series, and while I was asking him if he got teased because of the similarity, I suddenly had this flash of recognition where I saw Trainman’s face superimposed on Harry’s, or maybe vice versa. Et voici: enlightenment!

OK, I’ve already blogged about the bare facts, but let me just say that how good it felt to hand off all my renaissance costumes to my kids, because if I ever go back to Scarborough Faire, I’ll just buy or make new costumes, or rent them, or do without. Yes, it’s way more fun to attend a renfest in costume, but right now there’s no time, and really no money. I was [finally] ready to let that go.

It was great to find lots of other things while I was looking for the fingerless gloves to give Willow. Yesterday I wore a favorite silk charmeuse kimono that had been in a box since we packed to move into the interim apartment. I know where my black gloves with the red rabbit-fur cuffs are; I don’t need them yet, but I know where to find them when it gets cold enough. I took pictures of a long-finished object and completed a geriatric blog draft.

I am making new piles of things to give away. I hope to empty a few more boxes during the week and keep or distribute the contents appropriately. I found a box with oddments of papers to file or shred. That sounds like a Saturday afternoon project, after I help clean the meetinghouse in the morning, and before I join my friends at the dance on Saturday night.

And I am finding more bits of yarn stash, which I am cataloguing and stowing appropriately. The yarn that a friend gave me to make a sweater for BittyBit. The grey cashmere/silk that I ordered from Celtic Memories Jo, which I think would look great stranded with the ladder yarn ~ miles and miles of ladder yarn ~ leftover from LittleBit’s Purple Fluffy Scarf and my Fluffy Purple Neck Ruffle Thingie, or maybe just knitted up on its own.

After carefully slipping the ladder yarn out of its yarn bra and rewinding it, it is neatly bra’d up again and ready for business. Since teal and grey are both big players this fall, a smidgen of teal amongst the grey might be just what the fashion doctor ordered. Or I could try a strand of the grey, a strand of the teal Gloss Lace, and a strand of the ladder yarn together to make a tweed scarf. That could be fun. I wonder how it would work for a chunky smoke ring scarf? Or with my vintage teal yarns?

I wish I could have an extra day in every week, a day that nobody else knew about, where I didn’t have to be at work, and I could just putter and play. When I used to get up at 4:00 am six days a week, that gave me the equivalent of an extra working day every three weeks [based on an 18-hour day], or 17 extra days a year. And I got a lot done, until my middle-aged body began insisting on more than four or five hours of sleep a night.

All the candle-burning that I did before I joined the church, and when the girls were little, is coming back to bite me in the tush. Or more accurately, the eyelids. I used to say, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” But I am learning that if I don’t sleep, I will just feel dead until I give in and get some rest. And that if I’m too stubborn to sleep, then I can count on getting sick, and I will be sick until I have gotten enough rest.

So it seems smarter to go to bed at a reasonable hour and aim for six hours of sleep. A little frustrating in the short run, and a lot less frustrating in the long run.

I caught the laundry up last night. It was either that, or get a new nametag for the front desk, one that says Ms. Godiva.

Had a nice if somewhat distracted visit with my friend Ms. SMU on the train home last night. I was not expecting to see Trainman, as he works in the financial services industry, and I figured his office was closed for Columbus Day. So I was surprised to see him get on the train and sit down. And he seemed surprised to see me sitting there already deep in conversation. I had to keep reining myself in to the conversation at hand, reminding myself to “love the one you’re with”. She is a dear young woman and great company and deserving of my full attention.

Nice matters.

But I was having a real tussle with the four-year-old inside of me who wanted to leap over Ms. SMU’s neatly crossed ankles and bound up the aisle and plop down next to Trainman and talk to him. When we pulled into the station, he stood up and turned around and smiled at me. Then he was off the train, and I was out the back of the car and into the elevator, and I just felt a little wistful.

I put on my happy face and walked up the ramp to the parking lot, and as I was getting ready to cross the aisle where he was parked, he pulled up and waved at me, and we talked for a couple of minutes.

He said, “We’ll talk more tomorrow. Oh... You have Knit Night.” I told him that actually I would be going to Lark’s concert but that I would be on the train Wednesday, and I would save him a seat?

He seemed to think that was a good idea.

Maybe he missed talking to me as much as I missed talking to him?

I have no idea what is going on here, or not going on here. I don’t know what I want, so I’m just praying to want what is best and what would be pleasing to God and fit in with His plans for me and to please oh please not make an idiot of myself.

And now if you will all excuse me, I am going to find someplace quiet and sit down with my knitting. Knitting, at least, makes a certain amount of sense to me, particularly when the rest of my life does not.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fluffy Purple Neck Ruffle Thingie

For those of you who are just dying for visible proof that knitting goes on here. This post has been kicking around in drafts for almost two years; the scarf itself has been lurking in the bottom of a box where I keep knitting oddments. I made it from what was left of the yarns for LittleBit’s purple scarf.

I did a provisional cast on of 11 sts, using a scrap of Mandarin Silk, and I reverted to the YO, K10 pattern for all odd rows and SSK, K9 for all even rows. This gave me the eyelet edge that was so stretchy and problematic on her scarf, but this time I had a plan...

I knit back and forth until I had just enough of the eyelash yarn left to do a three-needle bind-off. And then I made a trip to my favorite ribbon shop, conveniently located not far from where I used to live, for some French grosgrain ribbon. I found something better, instead; it picks up the flecks of yellow in the railroad yarn that I used.

I hope that Deb Gardner is one of my neighbors in the eternities! I have done business with her, off and on, for 20 years. I have taken only one class from her, but I intended to take more. She is a thoughtful and imaginative and patient teacher; I learned a lot that day, surrounded by chocolates and Broadway show tunes.

Deb had an amazing selection of ribbons and laces and passementerie and beads. She was my go-to woman when I beaded Firstborn’s wedding gown six years ago, when we designed our own beaded fringe for the bridesmaids’ dresses and the family dresses. Also when I improved the embellishments on LittleBit’s first (store-bought, at deep discount) formal for the Military Ball and made and beaded a wrap to go with it. If you needed this kind of stuff for any project, or just because it was pretty, this was the place to go. Lest you think that something awful has happened to Deb, breathe easy. She is very much alive. [She is also retiring and closing up shop at the end of this month. Deep sigh...]

So, this is what I bought:

And this is how it looks, threaded into the eyelets formed by all those YO’s:

And this is how it looks over a couple of silk and cashmere sweaters that I bought at August Max Woman. When there still was an August Max Woman. [Another deep sigh...] First, the purple sweater:

And then the black:

This is the link to the earlier post re: LittleBit’s scarf, with the specifics on the yarns mingled amongst all the verbiage.

If you’re looking for something a little less colorful, this is the lovely sleeve of the gracious woman on the train the other night. Stranded knitting, tidy little herringbones of cream over a cream-based tweed.

It bugged me that I didn’t know how much yarn I had used to make LittleBit’s Purple Fluffy Scarf, or how much for my Fluffy Purple Neck Ruffle Thingie. I wanted to document them on Ravelry.

But I had the leftover ladder yarn. And a digital scale. And an Excel spreadsheet, and my calculator here on the computer. And I got ’er done!

Of course, it took me the better part of an hour to weigh stuff and think it all through. Which meant that no cooking got done before church, for last night’s dinner guests. I did, however, make it to church [almost] on time.

We ended up having tuna sandwiches on Parmesan bread, cream of corn soup, carrot sticks, and lemon squares with pimiento garnish, all washed down with Raspberry Red Zinger iced herb tea, which I had had the forethought to set in the fridge before leaving for church.