About Me

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Four 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!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Falling in Love

I do believe that I fell in love yesterday afternoon. Now daughters dear, do not panic; I am not running off to Club Med with my waiter! But I did find the first piece of furniture that told me it wants to live in the duplex. And I put it on layaway. I won’t post a picture until it’s paid for, and probably not until it’s in place. It’s a wardrobe from Scotland, and I’m thinking of asking the boys to retrofit it with shelves. Or I may just stack all of my plastic shoe boxes of quilting fabric and notions inside it. There are two small metal rods on either side, for hangers; that will be the perfect place to keep my skirt hanger with the sheaf of art papers that I’ve been collecting and lugging around for the past ten years.

I also found a glass-fronted bookcase with linen-fold panels in the bottom of the doors. That will be next, if nobody else grabs it first. [If they do, it will be because it belongs in their duplex.] And another wardrobe, not as pretty on the outside but very cleverly fitted on the inside. And then possibly a buffet; he also has a small hutch that would look good in the kitchen. Not the huge Welsh dresser that I’ve been coveting for years, but something proportionate to my new home.

I can see myself buying three or four pieces a year, without wrecking my budget. And in a couple of years I will be out of debt, with a houseful of lovely old bookcases and cabinets, and no more of this knock-together stuff from the big box stores.

I picked up a copy of ClothPaperScissors: Studios Monday night and read it while eating my lunch yesterday. It’s an Interweave special publication; Barnes & Noble didn’t have it, but Borders did. Lots of neat ideas for organizing one’s workspace, some of them quite economical. One of the artist biographies was of Charlotte Lyons, whose blog I’ve been reading for a few months.

Every spring I get the urge to tidy and feather my nest. In part because that’s where Sarah Ban Breathnach’s books wander off to, this time of year. And in part because of the home dec blogs that I read. Especially this one. I’m even compiling a list of music that will play when you read the blog; still very much a work in progress, that.

No, I haven’t forgotten the spinning wheel; it's just been pushed back few weeks. And yes, I’m a little distractible. [Not only Oh Look Shiny, but Oh Look Antique! Hey, I married the children’s father, and he’s eleven and a half years older than me!]

Need more proof? Here’s the refurbished heel on Anastasia.



Lots of happy knitting yesterday. And it fits ever so much better than the afterthought heel. My new Addi Lace 00 [birthday gift!!!] is making quick work of the re-knitting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep me from dropping the odd stitch now and then.



I had nearly incorporated all the yarn from the afterthought heel and was almost ready to take up the other sock, when I realized that one of the wide bands was noticeably narrower than its neighbors. I found the place where I had worked one too many K2tog’s, and then I found the dropped stitch. Thankfully, this is a yarn that stands up to repeated frogging.

Here’s a beauty shot of the crème brulée that I enjoyed for dessert on Monday, when our office manager took the admin team to lunch for Administrative Professionals Day [she was out of town on business the preceding week].



Today is the end of an era; tomorrow I start riding the train. Balancing the loss of control over my commute is the anticipation of two extra hours of knitting, guilt-free, every day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Birthday Bash

This is how I frequently feel after three hours with my whole tribe. I just want somebody to put me down and let me take a nap.



But not on Saturday night. I had so much fun! [That's Fourthborn standing next to LittleBit and a squirming BittyBubba.] Firstborn got this cake at Costco; it had a strawberry cream filling between the layers and was just delicious.



My shots of the hostesses [Firstborn and Secondborn] came out all blurry. But here is a nice one of Fourthborn’s Fiancé.



He’s usually smiling and telling outrageous stories about his extended family. [Proving once again that Heaven has a sense of humor. God sent me to my quiet but immensely talented family; He sent Fiancé to leaven a tribe of rednecks.]

This is a better picture of LittleBit and BittyBubba. [She disagrees.]



That's my friend L on the right, and my friend C from work is lurking behind LittleBit’s head.

The infamous Piddling Cup. Thankfully we noticed that it was leaking before somebody took it out into the living room.



Here are the little kids, chowing down. And their parents. By the window, J, married to J who is on the right in the yellow. She’s my best friend’s daughter and Secondborn’s best friend. To her left is another J, whom 1BDH jokingly refers to as his other wife. [And some days, as his next one.] Back in the corner is 2BDH, in the hat. BittyBit is tugging on his pant leg. Two of the kids are also J’s. And the twins, off-camera, are S & K. I didn’t catch 1BDH or his sister and her husband on camera, but they were there.



I think this is only the second real birthday party I’ve had. The first was when I was eight, before we moved to Boise. There were family parties every year, of course, and the year that I turned 16, Easter fell on the same weekend, and my best friend from high school was with us at my sister’s in Seattle.

[I don’t know if this will show up properly. Here goes.]



This was fun. And Middlest, honey, I know you were here in spirit.

Today’s agenda? Well-woman and mammogram. And knitting, lots of knitting. I went to bed early last night and woke up at 2:30 this morning. Can’t seem to go back to sleep, but maybe there will be a nap this afternoon? I am fasting for the bloodwork, so it sounds like the 1812 Overture in the vicinity of my navel. I wouldn’t exactly kill for chocolate, but I might bruise somebody impressively.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What I Did at Work on Friday; What I Saw on Friday Night

This is all the scanning that I did last Friday. Just a hair over two reams of paper went through my hands that day.



I put a magazine on top of the stack in case there was any identifying information on the top sheet. And I pulled a tablespoon and a half of staples out of just one envelope’s contents. Took me over 15 minutes to do so; there must have been a hundred of them.



Look who I would have seen, if I had been here on Thursday night. I loved her on “One Day at a Time” when I was not much more than a kid myself.



My work-LYS is in an old house on a quiet culdesac in a gentrifying neighborhood. These are some of the neighboring businesses.



I wasn’t sure if I would get anything, as I snapped these near dusk. I want to go back some morning and take them in morning light. The colors on each house are just lovely!



And a fountain between two of them.



I wonder if they all repainted at approximately the same time, because some of the accent colors on one house resemble the main colors on other houses.

Here’s a link to the Shabby Sheep, with better pictures than I am currently capable of taking.

I finally, finally won a pair of cordovan? or maybe oxblood? [deep red with black overtones] clogs on eBay; with postage, I will pay just about one-third of the retail price. Woohoo! Note: these are almost certainly not *real* cordovan, which I just learned is made from the south end of a northbound horse. And which is almost impermeable to water, and thus more expensive than I could afford. So I will not be tiptoeing through the tulips in these clogs, especially right after it rains.

The video of my birthday serenade at LittleBit’s restaurant is still not up on YouTube. Ahem!

And I finished [Almost] Cozy yesterday, but I need to clear a space in my room so I can block it, and that’s not happening before work today. I’m knitting away on Anastasia once again and am nearly done with the increases for the toe-up heel. Wonder where I put my directions for that heel turning?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

So Maybe They’re Not *All* Dead? And I’m Smarter than Holly Golightly

Thursday morning, I had one of those moments when I was momentarily Not Invisible. [Yes, they are rare enough to be eminently blog-worthy.] And the “wonder of it all” ~ to borrow a phrase from Brother Eric ~ is that he was a middle-aged white boy.

“We have learned by sad experience” ~ to borrow from a different brother, Brother Joseph this time ~ that middle-aged white boys in Texas are almost invariably fixated on very-much-younger blondes. Not always, but often enough to be statistically significant. [This has been well-documented in the annals of Cellphone Hissyfits Today, one of the most esteemed psychology journals of our time.]

It was a little weird to look up and greet the gentleman at my desk and see that flicker of “hello there” in his eyes, and answer back with my own. I grinned all morning.

Yeah, I need to get out more. And I need to *go* out more. But that requires initiative on somebody else’s part, and we all know that I have no control over that.

On to another topic. Do you have any idea how long it takes to unwrap seven DVD’s? I downloaded and upgraded my McAfee subscription while I did so. Sat down on the couch with my fashionably late breakfast [some six-grain cereal nuked in apple juice] and “Shall We Dance”.

I’m not excessively fond of either J-Lo or Richard Gere, though I adore Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci. I was pleased to see that the trailer features the Japanese original, which I rented several years ago and adored. [Brother Sushi owns both versions; he is a man of catholic tastes.] I was amazed at how much I enjoyed the American version. I like how the husband and wife obviously love each other after 19 years of marriage; call me sentimental if you will, but faithfulness is something that I notice. And approve of.

You also know how much I hate-loathe-and-despise the F-word. And I have to warn you that it is used, *once*, in this movie, yet was easily the best use of said word in any movie I have ever seen that contained it. [I, umm, actually laughed. Hooted, really. I’ll go sit in the corner now.] I was far more upset by the gratuitous use of the Lord’s name in vain. That just flat infuriates me.

So, overall a surprisingly good movie. It is respectful of marriage and fidelity. And even the minor characters get to grow.

I won a Williams-Sonoma cookbook on eBay yesterday. I’m bidding on another pair of clogs. I have been trying to win a pair in this particular color for about a year and a half.

As for Ms. Golightly? Well, I’m definitely a better knitter, and I’ve never stolen anything from a five and dime. I hope, oh I so devoutly hope, that when Real Love comes a-knockin’ on my door, that I’m smart enough to figure it out before I find myself standing in an alley with a wet cat and without my knitting.

*exasperated snort*

I found a pair of walking shoes that fits.



And I also bought these.



Would somebody please explain to me what it means, that I bought girly shoes. I have worn clogs, and only clogs, for eight years, ever since I had the second surgeries for ingrown toenails. I wore them to Secondborn’s wedding; I wore them to her big sister’s wedding as well. They’re not foofy and feminine, but they are comfortable, and they prevent further problems with my feet.

I called Brother Sushi. He finds this as inexplicable as I do. Is it some weird culmination of the eye-sparking on Thursday, and the verbal sparring on Friday night, and two romantic movies in one day? Have what are left of my hormones, run amok on me? Is it the pheromonal equivalent of the Gulf Stream, bearing who-knows-what to me in the immediate future? Is it simply the recent full moon, or the tornadoes?

Because I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto. Not with these shoes.



Putting on my turn signal for another change of topic. Had a blast at my birthday bash! Quite a few of my favorite people were able to make it. We had cake and punch first, and then we headed over to LittleBit’s restaurant. Yes, I had to stand and wave the dinner napkin and shout “Ole! Ole!” when the restaurant staff serenaded me. It’s been videotaped. Twice. Once it’s been YouTube’d, I’ll put in a link.

I think I will eat my leftover tortilla soup for breakfast. Just because I can. And I’ll save the pictures of the birthday bash, and the birthday loot, for another post.

But first, eine kleine yarn-musik.



More turquoise. And all the new stuff that’s on its way from KnitPicks, is one shade of teal or another. Turquoise, yes. Teal, yes. But not blue per se. I am not being sucked over to the dark side!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

“What is a niddy noddy?” she asks.

This. We wants one. Girls, do you remember the windmill-looking contraption on top of my old spinning wheel? It was a skein winder, and it served the same function.

Another link ~ this time about energy and healing; interesting juxtaposition between this and one of Dr. Wally's columns about energy management v. time management. I wonder what Heaven is trying to teach me? This is a link to Dr. Gardner’s first article. Not much meat in his second one, but definitely an interesting array of facts. And I am looking forward to next week’s article.

If you know the movie “Chocolat”, you may remember the scene where the mayor of the town is discovered in the shop window, sheepishly rolling around in the bonbons. Yesterday was a little like that; just substitute yarn, books, and DVD’s for the truffles.

I am one of those women who could shop till she drops. In the Generic Years, I shopped to feed my tribe [Cost Cutter brand at Kroger], clothe my tribe [thrift shops and hand-me-downs; we “have often depended upon the kindness of strangers”], and entertain my tribe [Half Price Books, anybody?] For most of my adult life, I have been too poor to fall into debt; my excellent premarital credit rating vanished, as Elizabeth Zimmermann once said about something else, like piddle into the sand. At the time of the divorce I had miraculously not acquired my husband's credit rating; I wonder if one of my guardian angels was a CPA when he lived on earth?

About seven years ago, shortly before my gall bladder staged an insurrection, I succumbed to the blandishments of a major bank and acquired a credit card. On the one hand, it was good, because when I needed surgery the co-payment was $75, and I didn’t have it. And when I interviewed for my current job, I bought my interview suit. I had not had a suit in 20 years; you don’t need one if you’re milking goats twice a day and feeding the chickens.

And I did some shopping, and when things were really tight I put the rent on plastic, and before you can say Oh Denver Mint, What Have I Done? I had maxed [sp?] out the card. At which point I took out a line of credit from my credit union at work and paid it off. Life was manageable until the children’s father was out of work for over a year, and instead of telling the girls “sorry, we can’t afford it”, I put a year’s worth of child support on my born-again credit card. Which is why I did skincare and makeup for a little over three years; I had no interest in a pink Cadillac, I just wanted to be solvent.

We are getting there, slowly but surely. I paid off the credit card in 2006, largely because the bank cut me a good deal of slack on the interest and late charges. But it’s paid off, and the budget has recovered from last year’s tax bite because of the forgiven portion of my debt, and I am nibbling away on my line of credit balance, and my car is nearly half paid for. If you compare my 401K balance to my debt, I am in the black. If we are talking cash flow, then I have two or three more years of debt reduction.

The upcoming move is a Godsend. I will have a cozy nest, and a studio, and a minuscule garden. I will have two hours on the train, five days a week. I will have quiet neighbors [not that there’s anything wrong with the current ones, but none of my new ones will be overhead]. I will be walking distance from the museum district and my second favorite yarn shop. And I will be saving a minimum of $300 a month, more when I know enough about gardening to put up all my produce. Some of that will go into savings; some will go to charity [see the new list at left]; most of it will go into debt reduction. When the car is paid off, I will roll that payment into the line of credit, and once that’s paid off, into my savings account at the credit union, which is paying me considerably higher interest than you can get at your bank.

I don’t mind all the niggling economies, because I have my goals firmly in sight. I don’t mind knitting from my stash, because there’s good stuff in there. I don’t mind not buying a lot of new clothing [though I do so love finding something to clothe my spirit, on sale at 70% off!]. I truly have enough for my needs, and more than a few of my wants.

Nevertheless, it is fun to have a cash bonus once a year, and to go a little nutsy with it. What did I buy?

1. All four volumes of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries. I have been wanting these books for 20 years.
2. Two more cookbooks, one from Amazon and one from the sale rack at Borders.
3. Seven DVD’s, bought when I noticed, really noticed, the poster in the window at Borders while I was knitting between dinner and game night. “Breakfast at Tiffany's”, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, “Roman Holiday”, “Sabrina” [the Bogie version; I have the Harrison Ford remake on VHS], “Sense and Sensibility” [Emma Thompson version]; “Shall We Dance” [American version, which I have yet to watch, and not the lovely, lyrical Japanese original]; and “Waking Ned Devine”.
4. A book on the connection between textile history and women’s history, over the millenia. I’ll let you know what I think.
5. A skein of Colinette handpainted 100% silk lace yarn, to be photographed once I receive:
6. Two skeins of Gloss Sock yarn, thirteen skeins of Gloss Lace in two colors, and my first Options needle, with accessories.

So, yeah, a serious falling-down in the textile department, and Not One Drop of guilt.

In other news, the game night was a success. When I went to work yesterday morning, it looked like there would just be four of us, but we ended up with eight or more. A good part of the evening was spent entering one another’s phone numbers into cell phones. I am so glad that I’ve started doing this. [It’s Brother Sushi's fault; remind me to give him an extra hug, next time I see him.]

And now if you will all excuse me, I want to rustle up some grub. And then I want to curl up on the couch with my knitting and one of the new movies. I’m about halfway done with the eighth ball of yarn on [Almost] Cozy. When I finish this ball, I will stand up and wrap the stole around me to see if it’s long enough, or if I need to wind up a ninth.

I am planning to pick up a pair of inexpensive walking shoes today, and maybe my train pass for May. And a few groceries, and then I will be done shopping until it’s time to fill the fridge again.

Tonight is the birthday party that my family is throwing for me. No promises, but there may even be pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sariah and Nephi and the Cranky Brothers

In our church, we are encouraged to liken the scriptures unto ourselves; in other words, we are to apply the stories and principles to our own lives.

I was listening to my Book of Mormon on CD in the car yesterday morning. It’s early days in First Nephi. Lehi has been listening to the Lord, and he sends his boys back to Jerusalem to get a record which is part family history and part scripture. The head of the family is a man named Laban, who appears to have both ecclesiastical power and political power. He certainly has servants and others to do his bidding. The sons draw straws, and Laman [the oldest brother, and rather full of himself] either wins or loses, depending upon your point of view. At any rate, he’s the one who gets to ask Laban if they can pretty-please have the records. And Laban basically tells them “not only no...” and calls them robbers and chases them out of his house on pain of death.

They regroup in the wilderness outside of town. Laman is mad. And a bully. And a coward. He wants to go back to their father and make excuses. Nephi says, “Hey, we left all of our nice stuff at home. Maybe we can trade it to Laban for the records. He can’t call us robbers if we offer him something valuable in return.”

They go back to the house and get the family treasures and take it all to Laban. He tells them, “No, I am not giving you the records, but I am keeping this nice stuff.” And he sends his servants after them to kill them.

Laman and the second son, Lemuel, are royally peeved at this treatment. And once they catch their breath, they take their anger out on Nephi and the other brother, Sam. Nephi tells them that they are *not* going back to Dad and Mom in the wilderness without the records. And he’s going to go get them. Which he does. In the course of which he is told by the Lord to take Laban’s life. This might be the only record we have of Nephi having a [brief and respectful] difference of opinion with the Lord.

I was thinking how ironic it was that the man required to take Laban’s life is the one least likely to enjoy doing so. Laman and Lemuel seem to dote on threats, intimidation, and physical violence. They seem to have entirely missed the point that while they are forevermore breathing out strife and threatenings, their younger brother is the only one among them who has actually killed another human being. They mistake his humility and meekness for weakness. And it probably doesn’t occur to either of them that if he had to, he could take them out as quickly and efficiently as he disposed of Laban.

Now, shortly after Nephi and his brothers return to Lehi and Sariah in the wilderness outside Jerusalem, Lehi sends the boys back to get wives. [I love how God makes them eat their spinach first, before they get dessert.] There is remarkably little bickering on that trip until they are nearly back to camp.

I also wonder if God sent Nephi to dispatch Laban in order to maximize the time available for Laman to get his mind and heart right. Maybe it saved Laman and Lemuel from an even more rapid descent into apostasy.

Our Sunday School teacher commented on something that Nephi’s brother Jacob said near the end of his own record, that they were a solemn people. Yes, I think you would be solemn if a major portion of your life story was taken up by a family rift where the oldest brothers were determined to become the only brothers, and where you not only had to keep yourself and your dependents out of harm’s way but keep your heart free from bitterness. Not to mention teaching your children to hate the sin and love the sinner [from a safe distance].

We’ve had a bit of that in this tribe, and the healing is slow.

I also thought about the mother, Sariah, complaining to her husband that their sons have been lost. She accuses him of being a visionary man. He replies that if he had not seen a vision of the coming destruction of Jerusalem [the Babylonian captivity], they would all perish like their friends and neighbors are going to do. What I would think or say if the Almighty sent my five precious daughters on an errand that put their lives in danger? I definitely think that He would be hearing about it from me! Nephi records not only her doubts and fears, but her later testimony that Lehi is indeed inspired, and a prophet.

I’ve also thought about Emma Smith and all that she was required to pass through. She was an educated woman, a school teacher, married to a man who at one point could barely construct a coherent written sentence but in a few short years learned Hebrew and other Biblical languages. [I know from my own experience what Heaven can do with a willing heart and mind. The talents I have, which are considerable, are not something I dug up on my own. They are gifts of the Spirit, and meant to help me serve others. I love the Parable of theTalents; it makes me grin, instead of squirm like so many of the others do.]

I think of these two good women and their difficult lives, and I compare my own experiences to theirs. Sariah’s family split into two camps, and eventually the descendents of two of her sons killed off the descendants of her other four sons. Emma struggled with poverty and heartache for much of her adult life. How do children raised in the same home come out so differently? And why is there such a natural tendency for them to pick on one another, if not to the point of bloodshed? How is it that two men [Joseph Smith and my children’s father] can both have such difficulty supporting their families, but one leaves a legacy of hard work and inspiration that, like Daniel’s vision of the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, is filling the earth with one small act of goodness after another. Whereas the other exemplifies a phrase found so often in the Book of Mormon: he is dwindling in unbelief. His shining contributions to life are our daughters and his early involvement as their father. For that, I forgive him much of the frustration and futility of the past twenty years.

His side of the family is infected by a predisposition toward get-rich-quick schemes [and I have distilled self-righteousness to a potency that any homeopath would envy, and passed it on to some of our children]. One of the great puzzles of my life is how a man so intelligent and educated can have such great difficulty supporting himself and his family. There is something going on here that I am missing. So I have had many opportunities to ponder the difference between a visionary man and a dreamer. And I definitely want to have a nice sit-down with Sariah and Emma when I get on the other side.

I watched August Rush last night. Lovely movie! We had a storm that knocked out the power about 20 minutes from the end of it, and just when I was wondering if I’d have to sleep sitting up all night, the lights went back on. I finished the movie, had a nice little happy weep, plugged in my CPAP, and slept better than I have in a week or two. I’m planning to watch it again tonight. And I need to bake brownies for tomorrow’s game night.

Lots of knitting yesterday. I’m hoping for more today.

[Postscript to the child who commented on a previous post: you’re not mentally unstable; you’re tender-hearted. If weeping when moved by the Spirit is a sign of instability, then you girls had better take up a collection for your mother. I want my strait-jacket to be red, if you please.]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Random Acts of Synapse Firing

Had a nice exchange of emails with my friend Wanda recently. She who is married to the equally talented Ed. We discussed the sad fact that there are not hours enough in the day to do everything that we want, and that I am not the only person who wishes that he were able to work his gifts upon wood and provide us with niddy noddies.

I told her:
I understand that conflict between where your heart and hands want to go, creatively, and what pays the bills. This is why I work in an office and do not confuse my job with my passion(s). And it is why I will probably never have a career. I get a lot of satisfaction from a job well done, and Im thankful that my parents taught me to give good value for what Im paid. But the best moments of my workday are often those that I spend sitting in the break room with my knitting, visiting with coworkers who have come in for another cup of coffee or something from the snack machines. *That* is where I live.

Dad had a Shopsmith [ginormous table saw] and a workroom that he built on the back of our carport. In fact, he turned the carport into an enclosed garage, did almost all of the repairs on the washing machines in the laundromat that he owned, and grew roses along the driveway. Mom was a skilled needlewoman but not as prolific as I am. And I have inherited both loves. Dad taught me a bit about whittling when I was 10 or 12, and I wished that I could have inherited his shop when he passed.

When I have a house of my own, I want a shop out in back, where I can build shelves for my studio and bookcases and window seats and all that good stuff. I love the feel and smell of wood. It’s a slower medium than fiber; it’s at times like this that I wish we lived to the great age of the Biblical patriarchs and their families. Can you imagine how many FO’s we’d accumulate on Ravelry if we lived to be Methuselah’s age? Flickr would crash, that's for sure!

And I told her:
I know what you mean about piles of paperwork instead of files. For someone as organized as I am when I’m at work, the disarray at home is frequently disheartening. Our office went paperless about a year and a half ago, and I only recently connected the dots and realized that I could do the same here at home. That will require the purchase of a scanner, which is not high on my list of priorities at the moment.

Here is a link to an article that brought happy tears to my eyes. And another one that made me look at myself and cringe. And because of my comment on one of his articles, I have a new knitting friend. [Hi, Kristen!]

I just got my report for the week from Sitemeter. A hair over 11,000 hits, and over 13,000 page views. I think this time last year we were creeping up on 2,000 hits. I wonder if there’s a way to check? It seems that there is: 234 total visits for the month of April 2007; 709 so far this month. It doesn’t give me the cumulative total as of last April, but I’d only been blogging since late July 2006, so it couldn’t have been much.

Wow. Thanks, y’all. It astounds me that roughly thirty people read this blog on a daily basis. Most of you between 8:00am and 4:00pm, with another bubble at 7:00pm. I have this little vision of knitbloggers huddled around their keyboards, typing with one hand and a bowl of ramen noodles in the other.

Today at work I will be able to print off my pay stub for this Friday. And I will get to see how much damage Uncle Sugar has inflicted upon my deliciously generous bonus. I have a tithing envelope, and I have my checkbook, and I have stamps. I will write out that check before monkey mind starts howling about all the neat stuff we could have if I didn’t pay the tithing on that extra cash. Or on any of it, for that matter. The ward clerk will no doubt be amused to open an envelope with a Happy Birthday stamp and a two-cent stamp on it. But hey, sometimes I just have to concede that I serve as comic relief in our ward.

I spliced the last two small balls of Denim Silk together and have joined them to the working yarn for [Almost] Cozy. Which leaves one more ball and two intact skeins and a really itchy case of finish-itis. We are going to be crazy-busy at work today, as the primary scanning operator is taking a field trip with her kid’s class. So my backup and I will be doing all the scanning. Fortunately, I can do a lot of it from my desk between phone calls. But I am praying for a day of light mail volume, and not the deluge which I suspect awaits us after two days of not-much-mail.

I think it’s safe to assume that blatant chocolate abuse and vast quantities of cherry Coke are both on the agenda today.

Time to forage some breakfast and sneak in a little knitting before I hit the road.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Red Skein at Morning, Spinner Take Warning

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



Yes, the hand is much better after washing.

And I am seriously coveting the lush curve of that lazy kate I saw on Brooklyn Tweed’s blog. [Fourth photo.] Truly a thing of beauty, and I’m not sure I’d ever use it, given my method of plying. Amending the Tenth Commandment to read “... nor his lazy kate, nor his niddy noddy ...”

Thankfully, there will be no room at the inn for extraneous toys and tools when I move. Though I do believe I will splurge on the prettiest niddy noddy I can find. It will make a great conversation piece on my coffee table, and what else is that rebate check for? [Oh yeah, the map console I’ve been yearning after for the better part of three years now. I’d almost forgotten. OLS = OhLookShiny = me]

I just realized that I know someone locally who loves to play with wood as much as I love to play with fiber. [I did look first at Ed’s website, but niddy noddies are conspicuously absent. Not that I’m complaining. Sometime we have to specialize, for sanity’s sake. I remember the time that I simultaneously coughed, sneezed, and hiccuped when I was seven years old and Mom was trying to fix my ponytail. I almost broke my neck, and she almost snatched me bald! Now I try to do only one of those activities at a time, and thankfully my hair isn’t long enough for anybody to inflict a ponytail upon me.]

The children’s father is no longer singing “Jailhouse Rock”; LittleBit picked him up on Saturday night and took him home. I guess he really did get the senior citizen discount! Today’s [4/22/08] NonSequitur seems apropos. OK, I’m done. At least for awhile.

The charcoal tweed stole is galloping along nicely. I draped it around my neck and shoulders this morning, and it reaches down to my waist on both sides. I think I may reasonably expect to wear it by the end of the month. Therefore, I find myself contemplating the next sweater. [Heaven forbid I should only have one project on the needles!]

Why? The dress code at work has changed for the better, recently. We have the freedom to wear jeans every day if we choose, assuming we do not have to appear in court or at a deposition, etc. And as the receptionist, I stick mighty close to those phones. So I wear jeans two or three days a week; the other days I tend to wear skirts, because I *like* wearing skirts.

We cannot wear T-shirts with our jeans. We have to wear something dressier. Though I confess that I push that line every chance I get. I have a number of knit tops that in the strictest sense of the word might be called T-shirts [notice how neatly I prevaricate? one of the results of working with lawyers] but are made from good-quality fabric and are neatly finished. These are not your basic Wal-Mart $6.99 throw-it-on-to-work-in-the-yard shirts.

I do adhere to the “no logos and no slogans” rule. I could wear a polo shirt with the corporate logo of our corporate parent, but polo shirts were not designed for these curves, and furthermore, those shirts are ugLEE. So, I wear a lot of scarves, a growing number of shawls, and the odd jacket. [You may take that any way you like.]

One of my attorneys, also a pusher-of-lines, commented recently that she found herself scouting for that third layer, something to take jeans and a top squarely into safe territory. As do I. It started with the acquisition of the black leather jacket, year before last. And continued with the late, be-nibbled Swallowtail Shawl, the scarf-width Clapotis, MS3 [Swan Lake], and my embellished suede jacket.

I never used to think that I looked good in a jacket. I just hadn’t found the right ones for my body type and personality. Yes, I resemble an ambulatory chair-and-a-half if I put on a traditional “Dress for Success” boring navy blazer. But in my Fibonacci sweater, or any of the things I have bought in the past couple of years, I look like the sassy, competent, confident Red Hatter woman wench diva matriarch force of nature that I am.

I want something teal. And lightweight. And relatively quick to knit. But not quite as mindless as stockinette. KnitPicks Gloss Lace is calling my name. I sat down with my copy of Knit Kimono last night and found shapes that I like, but no stitch patterns that appealed to me. I saw a floaty little cardi in a magazine recently, probably whipped up in $2K worth of Kidsilk Haze. The model was wearing it over a LittleBlackDress. I could wear something like it over a NearTee.

AARP now has “Beach Sudoku”, as well as the traditional kind. Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett must be so proud! But the endless whooshing of the “surf” reminds me of some of the environmental tapes that we used to own, and now I want to drive down to Galveston.

Wow, this post is even more ADD than usual.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dangerous, Expensive Bugs Have Bitten Me!

The gardening bug and the spinning bug, to be specific.

This will take you to a one-pot herb garden from Apartment Therapy. Or, if you tend to forget to water the pots, how about this? After the Great Fridge Cleanup of weekend before last, I am almost in the mood to cook. Almost. Dinner last night, while I took a break from spinning, was mac and cheese from a box, preceded by salmon-flavored shoe leather. Yes, I nuked the fillet just *that* much too long. It tasted OK, but fish was never meant to be al dente.

Here is a twice-spun bobbin. I filled it late yesterday afternoon and realized that the lovely, soft yarns that I spun back in the 1980’s were too soft and too loosely spun to survive as socks. So I put it on the lazy-kate and added more twist, using the smallest whorl on the flyer.



Back in the day, my preferred method for plying was to wind off a bobbin using my ball winder, then grab both ends and ply the yarn upon itself. That gave me a tiny loop at one end of my skein, and when I was knitting, I would feed the raw end of the next skein into that loop and only have to knit in one end.

Here is this batch, wound into a cake prior to plying.



And here is the plied yarn. Not bad for a few hours’ work. 54.9g of mixed fibers, predominantly wool, and just enough Hair of the Mo to make it wily and cantankerous. Definitely not the prettiest or best-balanced yarn I have ever made, but then it’s been 17 years since the last skein.



I don’t have a skein-winder or a niddy noddy, so I used the back of two chairs to skein it for washing. I have no idea which of all these boxes holds my McMorran Yarn Balance, but this looks to be somewhere between fingering weight and sport weight.

I think I would like the texture better if I had not put in the additional twist. It still wouldn’t have been suitable for socks, but it also wouldn’t have been a good substitute for baling twine. I think it will soften up now that I’ve washed it. I hope it will, anyway. Will let you know later this week, once it’s dry and I’ve taken another picture for you.

[Thank you, Jeri! I had fun, even if I didn’t produce the sockly equivalent of instant pudding. I’ll get there.]

Coincidentally, Jared had a nice tutorial on spinning yesterday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Firstborn Tagged Me + Dancing *with* the Oldies

This one’s a little different, so I played along.

10 Years Ago:
I was freshly divorced and finishing my associates’ degree in Interpreting for the Deaf. There were four kids still at home.

5 Years Ago:
I was a ward singles’ rep [the calling followed me from my old ward to my new one, because the stake singles’ rep was a friend, and most insistent]. LittleBit was the only child still at home.

5 months Ago:
I was struggling to pay bills and had not yet gotten the word about the duplex, which is going to ease my budget significantly *and* give me space for a garden *and* give me a studio for the first time in 25 years.

5 Things on my To Do List Today:
1. Church
2. Knit while listening to podcasts
3. Spin
4. Nap
5. Read the new “Real Simple”

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. Chocolate, preferably dark
2. Strawberries Romanoff from LaMadeleine
3. Carrot sticks
4. Ice cream
5. Graham crackers dunked in milk

5 Things I would do if I was suddenly a billionaire:
1. Textile program at the university in Denton [you have to jury into the program]
2. Pay off my line-of-credit and car, then buy a nifty old house to fix up
3. Vacation house at Galveston
4. Vacation house in Provence
5. Custom bookshelves to hold my books and my craft stashes

5 of my bad habits:
1. Falling in love with unavailable men
2. Displacement eating [eating my feelings]
3. Staying too long in an unsalvageable relationship
4. Avoiding confrontation
5. Wanting to save people

5 Places I have lived:
1. Boise, Idaho
2. Provo, Utah
3. Irving, Texas
4. Fredericksburg, Texas
5. Arlington, Texas

5 Jobs I have had:
1. Lima bean sorter for BirdsEye
2. Office manager
3. “Concession Mom” at movie theatre while earning associates’ degree
4. Motel maid [one week]
5. Receptionist, law office

5 Things People don’t know about me:
1. 6.5 fiancés, but “only” two marriages.
2. I used to go skinny dipping at the hot springs near Bruneau, Idaho.
3. I read “Les Miserables” in fifth grade.
4. I can play “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” on the harmonica.
5. I interpreted three out of four performances of “Romeo and Juliet” when I was studying to be an interpreter; absolutely loved the experience. When we were done, my interpreting partner said, “Whew! That’s over!” And I said, “Ohh ... it’s over.”

5 People to Tag:
You’re on your own here. Just tag me back in the comments or shoot me an email.

Random thoughts:
Sometimes the joy just comes welling up out of nowhere. I was driving over to the trunk show at the yarn shop yesterday, and suddenly joy was spilling out of me and filling the car. What a lovely surprise after the misgivings, concerns, frustrations, and unholy glee of the past few weeks.

Why, when you bash your toe into a fixed object, does the nail blacken on the one that’s two toes over from the origami’d nail you’d like to lose [which would have saved you the co-payment on a future surgery]? This is a situation where the thousand words is much prettier than the picture. So, my foot’s not happy to be in a shoe ~ again ~ but it didn’t slow me down one bit on the dance floor last night. And it doesn’t hurt all that much.

Great dance. And a little flirting. The guy who used to knit [met him at the singles’ conference last month] was there, and while we didn’t flirt, we had a great Reminiscence of Sweaters Past. He’s knitted something like 25 sweaters, but none in the past 25 years. Maybe I can win him back to the dark side?

I’m off to read the lessons for my church classes.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jailhouse Rock and Culture on the Hoof

If You Can’t Find a Partner, Grab a Wooden Chair

I called the jail on Thursday to let them know that the children’s father is diabetic and not taking his insulin, so that if he gets/got weird, that would be the first thing to check. I also asked if he would be out in time for LittleBit’s graduation in June.

They told me he was scheduled for release this Sunday night. Other members of the extended family who have sat out warrants for traffic tickets, say that Arlington must have a higher per diem rate than the places where they were “guests”.

Maybe he’s getting a senior citizen discount? [He was 67 on his last birthday.]

Main Street Arts Festival

Here’s a link to the musician we heard. Dancing in the streets? That would be us! She did a cover of “Travelin’ Shoes” that blew me away. I knew the song from when Maria Muldaur recorded it, umpteen years ago. This is Ruthie’s newest CD; I will buy it next Friday. “Travelin’ Shoes” is on this CD.

I also brought home four business cards: one for a jeweler whose work utilizes loose gemstone beads as both decoration and locking clasp. The styles are not “me”, but her designs are amazing! And three artists whose work spoke to me. I have bookmarked their websites, and once I have secured the giclée prints that I want, I will be happy to share that information with you. [Yes, I am going all Wollmeise-in-the-shopping-cart on you. The Arts Festival fell squarely between two paydays. If this were next Saturday, I would be standing at the door of the frame shop when it opened, and my debit card would still be cooling off.]

I think good art is that which makes you go “ohhhh” inside and get a little teary.

I also saw a T-shirt that I liked. White lettering on black, and it said something like, “I just haven’t felt the same since that house fell on my sister.”

One last comment on the Arts Festival, and it might sound like a complaint, but it isn’t. I've always gone with Brother Karitas, before. He’s an artist. We linger. We talk to the artists. Last night was an entirely different kind of fun. The six of us dashed here and breezed through there, and I barely saw anything, but still we did a lot of oohing and ahhing. And a lot of counting-of-heads. I asked the Good Brother if he felt like a Sheltie with a particularly unruly herd of sheep. He roared.

I may do the unheard-of and ask for his input on a screen name.

Today’s Agenda

Trunk show from Knitting Little Luxuries, at Yarns Ewenique
Chauffeuring Fourthborn and Fiancé to the grocery store
Dinner and dancing with the usual suspects
Knitting, lots of knitting
Spinning, dadgummit!

Knitting Progress

When I stand and hold up [Almost] Cozy with the cast-on edge at my toes, the needles are at my waist. I knitted up all the spliced-together bits yesterday, and when I finish the current [full] ball I will focus on the five partial balls remaining. It’s a little hard to judge just how much yarn I’ve used, but when I’ve reached that point I’ll have used seven of the ten original skeins. And I will adjust my progress on Ravelry, accordingly.

Have a great Saturday, everybody, and may all of your dropped stitches be intentional!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tola’s Treasures and Other Topics

Unlike Tinks’ purple bag, the top of this one is ruffled.



It’s easier to get into than the first bag, and the ruffle looks so perky when the bag is closed.



This is the last dab of yarn from my Monkey socks, and I now have almost exactly two yards left. [All but the squeal.] It might be enough for me to re-knit the moth-eaten sock, but I think I will frog both of them and make mitts, instead. I can always knit another pair of Monkeys later.

Yesterday was certainly the liveliest birthday in many a year. I had sour milk for breakfast quickly swapped for (1) another bottle of sour milk and then (2) a bottle of chocolate milk, followed by tornado sirens last night. And I rented “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” at Secondborn’s qualified recommendation and sat on the couch and knitted. Parts of the movie were heartwarming, and other parts were uncomfortably reminiscent of some of our own experiences. [The children’s father was not a drinker or a yeller or a hitter, but financial chaos is something we are all well acquainted with.] The mother’s reluctance to speak out against her husband’s choices is true to the time period and made me squirm for my own unwillingness to speak up, thirty-some years later. And we will not even talk about the soup.

Tonight I pickup Fourthborn and Fiancé at work and drop them at home before barreling over to Fort Worth to join the dinner group at the Main Street Arts Festival. I hope that we have better weather tonight than they did last night. [Yes, the prints are shrink-wrapped. But hail doesn’t care if it hits a plate glass window or an art glass objét...]

Much knitterly progress during the movie last night. I joined the tangerine-sized ball of splicings from Tuesday night, about three minutes after turning off the alarm and my CPAP this morning. And I grabbed another full ball of yarn, just in case I knit that up by lunchtime.

Thank you for all the lovely birthday wishes. I will photograph what my talented and creative sister sent me and get that posted soon. She has a talent for surprising me, and always in a good way.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

And Sometimes Crisis - Humor = Time

While I am ordinarily delighted to hear a knock on my door and have it turn out to be Fourthborn or Fiancé, he and Firstborn and I spent 2.5 hours in the waiting room of the city jail, waiting for paperwork to be processed. We needed the car keys so that Firstborn could drive her dad’s car home. Traffic warrant.

Fiancé had been telling the children’s father to take care of the ticket, and he didn’t. And last night he was pulled over for driving 52 in a 35 zone while on his way to pick up the kids from work. When the officer ran his license, he saw the warrant. There are several silver linings that I can see in this mess: Fiancé is now serious about completing his driving time to get his full license. And the children’s father will not be driving anywhere for awhile. [He really shouldn’t be driving at all; he doesn’t see well enough, and he doesn’t think well enough. He nearly broadsided LittleBit and me last November.] And the officer who arrested him did not automatically take Fourthborn and Fiancé’s dog to the pound.

So, prayers please for Fourthborn and Fiancé, neither of whom is on her father’s checking account. They have to figure out what to do about rent next month if he’s still sitting out his warrant. And prayers also for LittleBit, who is probably the only one of the girls with any shred of respect for her father. She’s taking this hard.

At least it’s not his face on the side of a milk carton. We know where he is. And now I can honestly say that I have used the women’s restroom at the jail. Not quite as much fun, somehow, as retrieving LittleBit from the tattoo parlor last fall.

I looked at [Almost] Cozy during my afternoon break yesterday, and all of a sudden it’s getting long. I wish I had thought to take my knitting with me when we went to the jail last night, but I would probably have run out of yarn.

Oh, and happy birthday to ME!

[If you choose to comment on this post, please remember that the girls all read it.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blessed Are They Who Go in Circles...

[for they shall be known as Wheels.]

Perhaps the first and most important blessing was that LittleBit and I both slept like rocks, night before last. Heaven knows that when we woke yesterday morning, we both looked as if we had crawled out from under one. But after her shower and my bath, we each bore a remarkable resemblance to sentient life.

Do you ever have days when you know you are holding it together, but just barely, and that if you talk too much, or too many people are nice to you, you will start talking and crying all at once, and your voice will go up and up into coloratura soprano territory, and the only people who will be able to hear you, are dogs? I am pleased to report that I did not get my emotional passport stamped in Coloraturaland yesterday. But the border guards were eyeing me narrowly.

I focused on each call as it came in, concentrating on transferring the caller as quickly and politely as possible. There was one call where I utterly mangled the name of our company. And I just stopped and chuckled and said, “I’m sorry, apparently English is not my native language today. How may I help you, sir?” And he laughed, and I got him transferred, and life went on.

I did pick up an order of Strawberries Romanoff on the way into work, and I had that for part of my lunch. I figured it would excite less comment than if I tore into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s without so much as a howdy-do. [I am “eating my feelings” these days; it will pass, and next month I will be riding the train and walking from the park-and-ride, and life will be a little more balanced than it is at present.]

Yesterday was one of those days that steadily got better. I remember thinking, fleetingly, that it would be nice if one of my friends brought her wheel to Knit Night, because it sure would be comforting to sit and spin for awhile.

You know how I’ve said that Knit Night is a lot like being with my Relief Society sisters at church, only without the singing? One of them came up to me at the beginning of the evening and told me that she and her hubby were going out of town for a few days, and that she didn’t want her wheel to get lonely. Would I like to wheel-sit for her?

I would. I have no idea where I’m going to set it up and spin. At the moment it is taking up about half of my couch, but before I leave for work this morning I am going to clear a space and grab the kitchen timer and spin for a few minutes. She also sent home a ginormous bag of assorted fibers and told me to spin as much or as little of it as I pleased.

If you’ve ever wondered whether God hears and answers prayers [specifically, your prayers, or my prayers], wonder no more. He usually answers them by telling one of His children that it would be a good idea if s/he did X, though He doesn’t always tell us *why*. And when we follow through on the prompting and do X, somebody else gets blessed, and we get blessed for paying attention.

I didn’t spin at Knit Night last night; I spent much of the evening splicing together those bits of yarn I mentioned yesterday from the doomed Elann Crop Cardi. It was sufficiently meticulous work that I didn’t have room inside my head to fret, and mindless enough that I could enjoy the conversations going on around me and chime in every once in awhile.

I went home feeling cherished.

Today I will go into the office with my knitting and come home and spin until I cannot keep my eyes open One Moment Longer. Somewhere around here is a bag of vintage tussah and baby camel down, all neatly melded into roving. I wonder if I can find it before I take back her wheel next Tuesday night?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crisis + Time = Humor

I’ll let you know when yesterday has become funny. Yesterday was the kind of day that made having to break into my apartment the night before one daughter’s wedding, seem hilarious. Or losing a toenail fifteen minutes before the other’s wedding began.

[So, something like six to ten years of composting before this guano becomes topsoil? In the meantime, hand me one of those lemons; I’m busy making lemonade.]

We now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting content. Long-time readers will vaguely remember the Elann Crop Cardi, begun in a moment of weakness after seeing Celtic Memory's lovely œuvre. [Last photo in the post.] The body worked in its entirety and the sleeves half-done and the whole blessed thing frogged after I stopped wading in the river Denial. Which meant frogging fourteen triangular points at the hem of the sweater. Which translates into thirteen shortish lengths of yarn that, added together, constitute an impressive chunk of one skein. Some of which I finger-tatted into rustic flowers, which I am now also frogging.

Using the same Russian join as I am to connect the individual balls, I am interspersing these shorter frogged bits with the balls when I reach the end of one, or when I come to a knot in the middle of a ball, of which there have been a few. [Not at all what I would have expected from the good folks at Berroco.] It is the perfect splice for a tape yarn like this: strong, and virtually invisible. A little fiddly, perhaps, but worth it in the name of frugality, and we know how much gets done in that name around here.

I would show you a picture of the shawl in progress, but those of you who are lace knitters know how unprepossessing a length of unblocked lace can seem. Suffice it to say that we are still knitting in Ugly Duckling mode, but when we are done, this shawl will break a man’s heart the way the blow from a Swan’s beak would break his arm.

[And now it occurs to me to wonder: do I want to knit this as a one-way fabric, or do I want to knit two halves and graft them in the middle?] No, no, no, Ms. Ravelled. We want to be heartbreakingly lovely in this shawl, not swaddled in it until the nice men in the white coats arrive. Basta! [Enough!]

Edited to add that after running the final error check on the tax return that I was going to have to fork over $106 with [hence the procrastination], and entering a few simple answers, we are now getting a $608 refund. Don’t everybody line up with your hand out, all at once!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Minor Changes on the Blog, and IRL

I deleted my “Spring Shawl Surprise 2008” button. I also deleted myself from the group.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to design a project that is delivered in weekly installments and have everything come out evenly, with minimal or no corrections. Maybe that’s something I’ll tackle in a few years.

I thoroughly enjoyed knitting “Mystery Shawl 3” from Melanie’s design. And I think there were minor corrections along the way, but I was knitting two or three weeks behind each release, so the bugs had been worked out before I got there.

But with “SSS 2008”, it seemed as if there were corrections every week, and sometimes several corrections in one week, and while the design itself was lovely, I just flat lost patience with the process.

So, no.

I have replaced it a RavelRaiser button. [Which it just occurs to me that I forgot to link.] They timed the appeal perfectly: I saw the link on a friend’s blog the day after payday [i.e. Saturday], and I had $10 to spare.

In spite of all the running around on Saturday, I got some puttering done chez nous. New sponges for the kitchen, and one last load to run in the dishwasher. I need to finish cleaning out the fridge and give it a good wiping-down, but it’s almost ready to restock.

I also used my new digital scale to weigh bits and bobs of leftover yarn for my stash on Ravelry, so that when I get my next brilliant idea to whip up something tiny, I’ll have a feel for which remnants to grab.

Anastasia? I frogged the first sock back to the heel. And got the second one ready to start its mirrored spiraling. Not a lot of knitting at church yesterday, and not much when I got home, as I was finishing the second mystery novel, which I think is going straight to Half-Price Books after work. [Almost] Cozy is another couple of inches longer, and I’m ready to add another ball of yarn.

In the menfolk department, I’m happy to report that I got enough righteous male attention to keep me going awhile longer. Junkies get methadone; I get hugs from my guyfriends, but more to the point, I get meaningful conversation with my guyfriends and come home feeling listened-to. It’s hard to feel listened-to when my child-in-residence is elsewhere.

Church was good. We got our new RS president, a dear friend of mine; the women in the ward will be in capable hands. I almost wish I were not moving in a couple of months. Almost.

And in the five years I’ve been attending this ward, I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a more reverent sacrament meeting than yesterday’s. I don’t know if the new people are innately more quiet, or if the young families we lost were all that noisy, or if it was just that uncomfortable quietness you feel at a party where you only know the host and are hoping that the other guests don’t bite. But I haven’t been able to sit and hear my own thoughts so well, in a very long time.

Duty calls. I had a few flashes of inspiration throughout the day yesterday, and I need to follow through on them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

All Dolled Up and No Place to Go

Giving props where they are due: “credit for both mom bases goes to apitchu orchard. i got the base for my new icon from here, it’s heavily edited by me, but credit is still due” [Fourthborn, AKA Nekokoi].

This is Ms. Ravelled, in the Famous Red Dress*, flirting at a dance:



Not sure if the animation will come through in the transfer, but I’m winking and saying “Wow”. *Just before Christmas 1996 I invested one of those luscious Moroccan rayon/cotton dresses, with the heavily fringed triangular capelet collar that came down to my waist in front and back. I paid more for that dress than I did for my wedding gown when I married the children’s father, and I loved that dress to death and [very sadly] retired it a couple of years ago.

This is me in my “dontcha” shirt, primed for knitting.



Most of the dolling bodies are Goyaesque in their proportions, not Rubenesque like me. Fourthborn went out of her way to find something that looked more Ravelled. And I am properly thankful!

Yesterday’s agenda
(_) Haircut
(x) Penultimate monthly drive-by-fooding of the elders
(x) Lunch in BigD with one of the Good Brothers and his friends. Good food and a new bunch of people to like. [Saw the Good Brother’s high school yearbook portrait. He was a babe! And back then I would have been too shy, and too intimidated by his looks, to have dreamed of saying hello to him.]
(x) Measuring furniture at the junk shop/possible layaway at said junk shop. Went to junk shop. Looked at the cupboard in daylight; took a pass. Found out how much the chairs cost. $850. Each. Cannot envision a situation in which it would be appropriate for me to spend $1700 on chairs that I would then be afraid to sit in. Oh, that pink stuff on the chair backs? Marble. Let the record show that I have excellent taste.
(x) Manicure
(x) Buying the digital scale; on sale for $9.99 at Harbor Freight yesterday. Regularly $17.98. By procrastinating one week, I saved $3.00. Woot!



(x) Drive-by-hugging of the Bitties and their folks
(x) Possible falling-down at what will become my LYS, though I can’t go too nuts there because I have to pay Uncle Sugar on Tuesday.



Oh yeah. JoJoLand Cashmere in a lovely warm lilac, about the same color as the sock I am knitting in the dolly, above. It hasn’t told me what it wants to be when it grows up, but I am thinking scarf or seriously decadent bedsocks.
(x) Shopping at Central Market. Two big bags of granola, and two artisanal chocolate bars. Mine had blueberries and lavender in it; LittleBit’s has raspberries and rosehips. [I will not covet my daughter’s chocolate. I will not...]
(x) Nap. Couldn’t keep my eyes open One Moment Longer by around 5:30. Slept until a quarter to midnight. So, no movie last night, and no movie rental either, and I guess we will be eating granola for all three meals today. Except for LittleBit, who will be having chocolate for one of hers.

Have you seen this, which can be found in this? I wonder how it would knit up in KnitPicks Gloss? Or their new Gloss Laceweight? Might be time for me to get in touch with my inner Coco.

So, I weighed Anastasia, as is, with the exceedingly ugly and way-too-skimpy afterthought heel [not specified in the pattern, I hasten to add].



1.25oz [35.2g]. And I have 2.62oz [74.5g] on the ball, with the second toe completed. And I began with approximately 4.0oz [112g]; when I pile the completed but to-be-partially-frogged sock on top of the unused ball and top it with the completed second toe, I come up with 4.02oz [113.9g]. The difference is a composite of rounding error in my calculator’s conversion of ounces to grams, plus the weight of my needle. All of which is a roundabout way of muttering to myself that I certainly have enough yarn to frog back the first sock and work a heel flap.

Today will be our first meeting after the ward boundary changes. Sacrament meeting first [which we normally have last], because we have to sustain the new auxiliary leaders and new teachers in their callings before we can go to our classes and be taught. And chances are excellent that I will run into Brother Sushi between meetings, as his new ward meets right after ours. I won’t see Firstborn and her tribe, however; they have dashed out of state to visit Willow.

Enough yammering. Time to knit!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

“Peaceful, Easy Feeling”

[The Eagles have expressed so much that I’ve felt over the years, from “Witchy Woman” to “How Long”. Particularly, in recent weeks, the latter.] I am trying to understand how it is that, for a woman who used to crave male approval as much as I did, and jumped through as many hoops to get it, I can be sweetly content with my friendship with Brother Sushi. Perhaps because it is a holy thing? We honor the commandments, and we respect ourselves and one another’s limitations.

Which is not to imply that we do not laugh often, and deeply. But not at one another’s expense. We laughed a lot last night, and we covered a wide range of topics. As he signed the tab, he grinned and said, “Well, we didn’t solve all of the world’s problems tonight...”

But yes, there is that sense that when we talk, we figure things out, and sometimes we fix things, and sometimes we get ideas on how to tinker a little more, and sometimes we acknowledge that there is nothing we can do about a situation, other than pray about it and let other people have their agency.

And at the evening there is a heartfelt hug, and he goes home, and I sleep better than I have since the last time we dined.

I got two hugs last night, actually. The expected one when he opened the car door for me, and another while I waited for LittleBit to undo the deadbolt. It was a logical assumption on her part. My car was there, and it was dark; therefore, I was asleep in my bed as I usually am when she comes home. [I cannot believe I got home after she did, last night. Just flat boggles the mind, but then she's had a l-o-n-g week with UIL competitions.]

That’s twice in as many weeks that I’ve had to call her cell phone and wake her up to let me in. At least I haven’t had to get the crowbar out of the trunk and pop a window, like I did the night before Secondborn got married, when Fourthborn was home from Girls’ Camp one day early and sleeping like the dead. And I was standing outside, in the rain at 1:00am after a singles’ dance, and there were two drunken non-English speakers sitting in their car and laughing at me.

Good thing, too: the movable part of the living room window at “La Casa Cucaracha” was about 6” above the floor; my bedroom window here is about three feet higher, and I am eight years older.

LittleBit was so apologetic. And I totally understand her assumption; nevertheless it strengthens my desire to be living in the duplex, where the only three people who will be able to lock me out, are Me, Myself and I.

So what’s on the agenda today?
Haircut
Penultimate monthly drive-by-fooding of the elders
Lunch in BigD with one of the Good Brothers and his friends
Measuring furniture at the junk shop
Possible layaway at said junk shop
Manicure
Buying the digital scale
Drive-by-hugging of the Bitties and their folks
Possible falling-down at what will become my LYS, though I can’t go too nuts there because I have to pay Uncle Sugar on Tuesday.
Shopping at Central Market
Nap?

And knitting, definitely lots and lots of knitting. And maybe some pictures for tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

FIFO, Shmifo!

There are all sorts of interesting tax complications when you close out a business that maintains an inventory. I have just spent the last hour and a half digging up old tax returns and entering data on a shiny new spreadsheet. I was good about keeping up with my inventory. However, I did not keep track of when it came in and when it was sold. I started an Access inventory program and eventually abandoned it.

Why is this important? Because I am down to what I most devoutly hope is the last worksheet for my 2007 tax return, and I am accounting for the difference between starting inventory, ending inventory, and retail sales.

I can now tell you just how long it took me to clear out all the skincare and makeup that I purchased in 2004, not that you care. And the year before that, and the years after it as well, but 2004 was the year that I meticulously plowed all my sales, and every penny I could spare, into building up an inventory. And in 2005, the second full year that I was in business, I made a modest profit.

I did this not by trolling the ward list as so many people do. There’s been a disclaimer at the bottom of each ward list, as far back as I can remember, that it is to be used for church purposes only. I.E., not as a prospect list for the latest and greatest MLM scheme to come down the pike. I made a promise to myself when I became an independent beauty consultant that I was not going to advertise at church. This because we were Amway’ed and A.L. Williams’ed and I don’t remember what-all else during the years I was married to the children’s father. So I had a very discreet window sticker on the back of my car, and that was that. I didn’t take orders at church. I only rarely made a delivery between meetings if there was no other way to get product to them, and I had them mail me a check later. Most of my clientele was in my office and in my office building.

And it was fun. I never dreamed that I could be an effective salesperson, and I was. I had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about setting goals and following through, and I made some good memories. I originally got into it because the children’s father lost his job, and we had no child support. My goal was to provide enough each month to make up the difference. While I never really reached that goal, it seemed that there was always a big-enough sale whenever I had a cash-flow surprise. And after three years, I looked at my cumulative raises at my day job and realized that they were covering a good chunk of what I was supposed to be getting from child support, and it was time to close up shop.

They like me at work. They value my efforts, they treat me well, and my office manager [who spent part of her adult years as a single parent] has kept the raises coming. I now make over half again as much as I did when I started with the corporation, nine years ago. So, no more independent beauty consultant for me. But as they say, the job’s not finished until the paperwork is done.

And I am just about there. Which is good, because I have until midnight Tuesday night to finish up my return. Uncle Sugar will be getting a very small check from me; I wish it were the other way around, but I am so thankful not to qualify for the Earned Income Credit that I almost don’t mind.

I was groggy almost all day at work yesterday but managed to avoid slugging down a cherry Coke. Decided that I would take in a movie. Got creative about driving to the theatre, which was in a small shopping center that I’d been to, but not the theatre per se. One of my “wonder where this goes?” moods, which took me all over one of the oldest and loveliest neighborhoods in East Dallas. I pulled into the parking lot about three minutes after the trailer should have been starting, with no indication of precisely where in the complex the theatre was located. So I drove up the expressway to a bookstore and spent a couple of hours reading the Harlot's new book [which I will buy next payday; it’s a gem] and scoring two hardcover volumes of Robert B. Parker. One Sunny Randall, one Jesse Stone, $6.98 each. And eating a cheese panini, with occasional breaks for knitting.

I will not be getting in touch with my inner Stevie Nicks tomorrow. We had crazy storms all over the Metroplex on Wednesday night, and the roof blew off the hotel where the event was scheduled to take place. Seriously. It was all over the frontage road to the southbound freeway before rush hour, yesterday morning. There was an email waiting for me from the Good Brother, saying it would be postponed, and there would probably be just lunch tomorrow, venue to be announced. Since I don’t know if I'll be able to get to the junk shop at lunch today, I might mosey over tomorrow and make some new friends and measure some furniture.

But dinner tonight with Brother Sushi is definitely on, so I had better get myself spiffied up for work and head on down the road.

I grafted on the fourth ball for [Almost] Cozy at the bookstore last night, and I worked four rounds on the toe of the second Anastasia when I first woke up this morning. Because I know you came here for the knitting content...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Putting the “Adverse” in “Adverse Counsel”

One of the legal secretaries put an envelope with settlement paperwork and drafts on my desk, to be picked up by adverse [plaintiff’s] counsel yesterday. He arrived shortly before lunch, picked up his envelope, and said, “Thank you, sweetie”. I was ~ uncharacteristically ~ speechless. After he got on the elevator, I sent this email to our attorney and her secretary:

[Plaintiff Attorney] picked up his check. And called me “sweetie”. Does he call everybody “sweetie”, or am I just special? Do I get to call him “shorty” the next time he comes into the office? Or should I just tell him that the only guy who gets to call me “sweetie” is my husband, and is he tendering an offer? [OK, I feel better.]

My attorney’s response:

Calls me “little girl”…guess he likes you better than me. [She is half again as tall as this troll bozo character. I kid you not; he’s about boob-high on me, and I’m not tall.]

I will be prepared, if and when he comes to the office in the future. Bless his heart.

I was prepared a couple of weeks ago, when a deposition ended and a different plaintiff attorney came out of the conference room and prefaced his question with a pause and then, “I know I’m going to regret asking you this, but could you call me a cab?”

Without missing a beat, I grinned at him and said, “You’re a cab.”

Says he, “I knew you were going to do that.”

Says I, “I have been waiting more than 20 years to use that line. Thank you. You’ve made my day.”

“You’re welcome. And would you mind calling the cab company for me?” We were both laughing that hard, silent laughter that makes your ribs ache. Now there is a man with a functional sense of humor!

I called Brother Sushi while I was stuck in traffic last night, to confirm that dinner was still on for tomorrow night. It’s his month to buy. He asked if I had any preferences. I told him, “surprise me”. And then I asked if my “dontcha” shirt would be appropriate, and he said it would not, not for either of the places that he has in mind.

We are celebrating my birthday at dinner this month. [Actually, I’m pretty much celebrating it all month long. I started with week-long celebrations when I turned 50, and every year the party gets extended a little longer. When I turn 100, I think the good times should start rolling about the time the last flake of confetti falls on New Year’s Day and not let up until I get my New Year’s kiss at the end of the year. [I am still waiting for my New Year’s kisses for the past several years. I wonder if they are stuck in escrow or detained in Customs?] The girls are up to some sort of mischief for later this month. I’m thinking that it’s a dry run, more or less, for the bash that I’ve told them I want for my 60th, when I’m hoping for Elvis and biker dudes and a dance floor, but this is not one of those significant birthdays.

What would be the best present at my birthday party? The privilege of handing a slice of cake [or pizza or whatever] to Middlest and having her feet under the same table as my own. Though I recognize that what I want may not be what she needs. Still, that would be my preference. Bow on her forehead? Optional.

And speaking of things on foreheads. Have had an interesting exchange of emails with one of the Good Brothers re: the garage band shindig this weekend. I peppered him with questions:

1. Would earplugs be prudent?
2. Am I going to be able to sit and knit during this [while rocking out in my chair, of course]?
3. Will they beat me with a vintage Fender if I sing along?
4. Will there be Harleys?
5. Can I get up and dance if I feel the urge?
6. Will you put frowny-face stickers on the foreheads of guys I should not talk to, or flirt with?

And he responded, “Ah, many interesting questions...where to begin.”

2. Knitting is completely possible.
3. People are encouraged to sing along or grab a mike and have some fun!
4. I’m not sure but I’ll bet someone will have a Harley...I wish [individual] could have made it in from [out of state] but he is too ill...he plays in a biker bar!
5. Dancing is also encouraged.
6. No need to worry about the guys that need frowny-face stickers...their wives will be keeping them in check.
1. As for earplugs...might bring some just in case but the guys setting up the gear are pro musicians.

As much as I love dancing [i.e., the all-day dance seminar at Gilley’s in Dallas on Saturday] or men in kilts [bagpipes and Underoos optional; i.e., the local Renaissance festival], I am having an exceedingly busy week at work, and I think I will require some vintage rock as a palate-cleanser.

Does anybody know where my tweezers wandered off to? I wonder if I still have that spare pair tucked into my embroidery floss box? When the kids [or their kids] excavate my home after I’m gone, will they find tweezers tucked into every change purse and the odd pocket? Apparently tweezers are much more selective in their breeding habits than are wire coat hangers. Drat the luck!

Much progress on [Almost] Cozy yesterday; unfortunately, it’s at that awkward adolescent age where it’s lumpy and bumpy and camera-shy. But I’m within an hour of splicing on another ball of yarn, so we’re nearing the 30% mark, more or less.

Thursday already? Woohoo! And I managed to sleep half an hour later this morning before the thunder woke me. This would seem to call for some celebratory knitting.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I like her socks better than mine!

Knit Night, as ever, was terrific. What a great bunch of ladies! It’s like being at church, without the singing. I think that if everyone had Knit Night, or something like unto it, there would be a whole lot less contention in this world. [Unless your neighbor had bought up all the Koigu; isn’t that how wars get started?] But think about it: if we sat all the leaders of the free and unfree world down in a room with the Harlot and Wendy and Cookie A and Cat and Annie, and we gave them sticks and string and got them hooked on cables and bobbles and lace, and they made leper bandages and prayer shawls, and the only assassinating allowed was in Sock Wars? As Louis Armstrong sang, what a wonderful world.

Speaking of wonderful things, what a nice picture of Tola and Mike on the Harlot’s blog yesterday. I did a shout-out in the comments. Tola answered back [IM via blogpost, LOL] and waved to Tan. And I was “inspired” to write the following. It’s funnier if you know the tune for “Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree”.

I looked on The Harlot’s blog, and what did I see?
Mike and Tola in Annapolis – squee!!!
Book tour brought me such a nice surprise:
Mike and Tola, right before my eyes.

Harlot took a picture, and they’re so sweet.
He’s real tall, and she’s petite.
I didn’t get to go, but I was glad to see
E-friends grinning, close to WashDC.

(And it was fun to read through the comments and see SuburbanCorrespondent's name. [P.S., Secondborn loves your blog.])

OK, so if life is wonderful, why the title for today’s post? Because Micki is working on her second Anastasia, and I definitely like her sock better than mine. [All of her recent pictures are spinning, not knitting; it was her Lendrum that I played with two weeks ago.] She did an Eye of the Partridge heel flap, and that sock is pure poetry. So I will be trying the same for my second sock, and I think I will be much happier with it.

I am not happy with this.



I wore my Monkeys yesterday. When I took them off at the end of the day, there was a big old hole in one of them. I thought I’d inspected them pretty thoroughly for bite marks [moth damage; I do not have a new weird habit that you need to worry about], but apparently I missed something. So they will be washed very carefully and then frogged and the yarn recycled into footies or mitts or a scarf or something. I am way too frugal to throw out a pair of $20+ socks, and Jitterbug is too skimpy in terms of yardage to just frog and re-knit, and I just love the yarn. So it will join my green and plum Lola in the frogpond.

Insert expletive of choice, here.

For those of you who have been worrying about my mental health [you know who you are], this week has gotten progressively better. It helps that I like my job and love my co-workers. Having face time with the Bitties and their parents on Sunday also helped, as did going to LittleBit’s concert on Monday night and hearing all that glorious music. And Knit Night. And getting an email from an old friend who is unhappily married and just taking it one day at a time; that really put my singleness back into perspective.

I also learned long ago that service prevents depression. [I don’t mind being sad occasionally; I refuse to be depressed, ever again.] So I wrote a congratulatory email to someone I don’t like, whose hard work bore fruit. And I did LittleBit’s taxes. Twice. Once with TurboTax, where we discovered that I hadn’t paid attention to which program I was using, and it would cost $49.95 to get her $11.05 refund! And again using paper forms. I also used the interactive voice response program at work to allocate my upcoming raise into four buckets: my 401K, my Christmas Club account, paying down my line of credit, and the rest of it to improve what I laughingly call my standard of living.

[Almost] Cozy is perking along nicely. I added a third ball of yarn at Knit Night last night. A knitting project that doesn’t argue with me, is great cause for rejoicing! I need to go update my progress report on Ravelry.

I paid $3.23 a gallon for gas last night. I am considering getting that train pass a month earlier than planned.

Tonight I’m going visiting teaching, and then I just want to curl up on the couch and knit. I think I will check out that furniture shop again on the drive home tomorrow. Or maybe during lunch on Friday, since my best-friend-at-work will be off.