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, December 31, 2008

Year-end Blessings

Middlest got the job at Wal-Mart. She has orientation this afternoon. Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts! With this job, she will be able to attend church *and* Knit Night *and* have benefits *and* prepare to go back to school next year.

Wollmeise is finished, in time to qualify for the November Sockdown prizes, even if I couldn’t figure out how to post more than a link to pictures in my “stick a fork in me, I’m done” post on that thread. I did the sewn cast-off on the train last night while exchanging Christmas stories with Trainman.



I know, I know, not a good picture, but still proof that two red socks are done.

The first Mean Green Jellybean toe is done, and I have transferred the stitches to a circ for Magic Loop. The cast-on end is woven in, and I am ready to add the second color.

When I got off the train last night and walked toward Lorelai, I saw a red car and thought “Oh, man, somebody has a flat tire.” And then, “Oh, d@mn, it’s me!” as the parking lot began to empty around me. I got the boxes of stuff out of the trunk [yay for crates to hold the stuff that should go elsewhere, instead of the slew of clutter that used to inhabit the trunks of my cars] and unscrewed the bolt that held my donut tire but was unable to get the tire itself out of the trunk.

Called Middlest to tell her I would be late, and why. Called 1BDH to see if he was still at work; his office is just about a mile from the Richland Hills station. He was already home but was willing to come help if need be. I told him I would bat my eyes at somebody and see if I could get help closer to hand.

The first man was on his way to go pick up his wife from work. I sent him on with a grin and my blessing. Some cars pulled up at the far end of the lot, but somebody got out of one car and into the other, and they took off. Then two or three cars pulled in together. By this time I had my hood and trunk up and had given the matter some prayer. Just as I was asking one guy if he could help, the young woman in another car said her guy would be happy to help. So I had three grown men, the young woman, and four little boys gathered around Lorelai, and in five or ten minutes we were done.

I had a nice chat with them before we went our separate ways. We talked about the hand of God in our lives, how she was the answer to eight months of prayer on his part, that he had prayed for a family, and God had asked, “Do you want a family, or do you just want a wife?” And he had insisted “A family, please.” And there they were.

They are getting married in February. He has moved into a spare room with his parents and put his [now obviously too small] house on the market. I commented on how nice it was that they had taken the high road, and he said, “I wouldn’t have them if we didn’t.”

And then he told me to put a little air in the donut tire. I hugged his fiancée and thanked them all.

God really is in the details. He could have sent me a devotee of any faith, but He sent me a small tribe of fellow Christians, and what began as a work party ended as an exchange of testimonies.

I am so blessed.

1BDH checked out the spare and pronounced it fit, and adequately full. He and Firstborn had some errands to run. After Knit Night, he plugged my tire. He never ceases to surprise me. I knew that he knew how to change the brakes, because he’s done it before on my cars. I had no idea that he had the tools, the materials, and the skills to not only change a tire, but fix a flat.

So I followed up my message to the office that said I would be in after a visit to the tire store this morning, with one that said, “Never mind, it’s fixed, and I’ll be in at the usual time.”

Good thing, too, because I have used up my PT for 2008 and won’t get more until tomorrow morning.

Driving in today, parking for free under the building because there will be so many people gone, and getting off an hour early. Then I will figure out what I’m making to take to the dance tonight.

And maybe, just maybe, there will be somebody there to flirt with. Because the age of miracles is obviously not past, chez Ravelled.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hearts Linked Together

My wonderful sister sent me this.

And this was on Meridian, on Christmas Eve. As was this. It’s been nearly a week, and I don’t remember how holiday-specific they were, only that I enjoyed them very much. I am not quite ready to put away the holiday stuff: not in my house, nor in my heart. Hope you enjoy them and/or find them full of useful ideas.

No Trainman last night, so I was able to knit without distraction. I have half a repeat [!!!] left on the Wollmeise sock and have wound up my two clashing balls of green Jitterbug. They are in the bag for tonight. Working title for those socks is Mean Green Jellybeans. We shall see if they live up to it.

Took about a dozen old VHS’s to Half Price Books last night and am almost to the point where I can hold all of my CD’s on one over-the-door rack and suspend the VHS’s below them and get rid of one of each type of rack. Right now I have the backs of two doors taken up with media; I would like to be able to reduce that to one. I also went through my DVD’s and pulled a handful of movies that I bought on close-out when the then-local Hollywood Video shut their doors. These are not the movies I go back to, over and over again. These are ones I bought because I hadn’t seen them in the theatre, and they were 3 for $10 or something equally ridiculous.

Did I tell you that last Saturday I used my gift card to buy a cookbook called One Potato, Two Potato? I’m an Idaho girl, even after thirty years in Texas. [Be true to your school, and all that.] Last night I bonded with one of the clerks at HPB; she is a new knitter and manages the crafts section. She told me that there was a copy of KnitLit over on the shelf.

Not anymore.

That’s it for this morning. I should have pictures of two red socks for you in tomorrow’s post, and also for the November Sockdown on Ravelry, and maybe something worth showing on the Mean Green Jellybeans.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Passion and Performance

I think yesterday’s Sunday School lesson went well; you would have to ask somebody else. I had one of those semi-out-of-body experiences where I was there, but I don’t remember half of what came out of my mouth. Usually that means that I was spiritually in tune. I do know that when class was over, I felt peaceful and utterly drained. I sat quietly through Relief Society and knitted myself back into presence.

What I remember most about the lesson is that there seemed to be a conduit of light between the spirit of the Silver Fox and my own, like a silver thread spinning across the room. Not the spark of chemistry; something more refined. A knowing, but not in the [ahem] Biblical sense.

In the world of knitting, which is why you came here, right? I am almost halfway up the cuff on the Wollmeise sock and have come down with a bad case of Finish-itis. I would love to stay home and knit all day, but this is Monday, and it is our busiest mail day, and I am needed at work.

Plus [let’s not kid ourselves] there is the matter of the train ride home, and the last slice of the Christmas tart which I might have saved for Trainman.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perfectionism

Inspired in part by a friend’s recent post. She had commented on how she copes with mistakes in her knitting, that she knows several ways to fix things, and that even if she chooses to leave one in, she doesn’t beat herself up over it. But in her music, if she hits a wrong note or doesn’t like her interpretation of a piece, she’s very unhappy with herself and cannot seem to let it go.

I responded, Maybe the difference between your margins-for-error in knitting and in playing the organ has something to do with when you learned to do each. Or whether you see yourself as a musician who loves to knit, or a knitter who loves to make music. I am one of the latter; I learned to knit as a child, and while I have always loved music and rhythm, I only learned to sing well after I joined the Church as a young adult and sang in Institute choir. [That is also where I discovered a relish for performing; *love* that connection with the audience!]

I am usually not satisfied to leave a mistake in my handwork. Yet there are times when it is not obvious to anyone but me, or will not affect how well the item wears, and I leave it in, shrug, and go on. This is not something that has sprung fully-grown from my forehead; it has been the work of decades to reach a point where something that leaves my hands does not always have to be as near to perfection as I can get it.

If I hit a false note when singing, I am usually able to take comfort from the fact that there are umpteen other sopranos hitting roughly the same note, and only if you knew me really well, would you catch the wince as I move on to the next passage. Besides which, there are more singers hitting the right note, at greater volume, and probably only three or four of the people around me are as keenly aware as I am, that I zigged vocally when I should have zagged.

I might have been a better human being, far sooner, if my errors had kept me awake at night. But that voice that torments so many of my friends, male and female alike, the one that says you’re too ______ or you’re not ______ enough? I am pretty much deaf or immune to it. Might be the clicking of the keyboard, or the knitting needles, that renders it harmless; who knows?

We now pause for a knitfomercial. This is the pattern I used for BittyBit’s washcloth.

Had *the best* visit with BestFriend yesterday. And made what is easily the least-inspired batch of mac and cheese in decades. Thought I would try the Ragu bottled cheese sauce, as having about the right texture while providing greater coverage than the small packet that comes in the Kraft Deluxe dinners. Cooked the shell noodles to perfection, stirred in the reconstituted onion [I am rotating items from my food storage] and minced garlic, dumped in a blob of cheese-like substance, and stirred away.

Bland.

More boring than my non-existent love life.

So I cracked some pepper into it. And grated a whole lot of the Asiago into it. Better, but still bland. A dollop or two of pineapple-apricot horseradish sauce. Not much help. At which point I needed to be on the road for a drive-by fooding of the missionaries and a road trip to my friend’s potluck in Oak Cliff. I called Brother Sushi after I dropped off the elders’ portion; he suggested red pepper flakes. Maybe; but they were back at the house, and I was already on the outskirts of Fort Worth.

What the mac and cheese needed was some ham or sausage or ground beef. None of which were to be found in the glove compartment.

When I got to my friend’s house, the casserole was cold. Somebody kindly grabbed it and put it into the microwave, where we all promptly forgot it. When I was ready to leave, I looked all over for that dish, finally rescuing it from the microwave. It’s now in my fridge, untouched, and I may try some of the red pepper flakes tomorrow. Or maybe some wasabi ranch dressing. And naturally, since nobody ate any of it, I will have enough to last for breakfast and lunch until Friday.

I think the first error was the bottled cheese sauce. The price may have been right, but the contents were not.

At the party, I met another knitter. She is on Ravelry but couldn’t remember her screen name there. So I gave her mine, and my email addy. She has been shopping at the place that shall not be named; I told her about the Shabby Sheep, which is close to where she works, and where the staff is unfailingly courteous, no matter how much or how little one buys.

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts on Middlest’s behalf. Her interview went well; they were delighted that she was open to a night clerking or stocking position, and I took her to the lab for her drug test.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Much reading chez Ravelled; some knitting, too.

I refer you to my friend Francis’s recent post. And, separately, to the article to which he links. Which I read in its entirety. All 66 e-pages. Accompanied by much sighing, occasional mental
“are we there yet?”s, and occasional breaks for Sudoku or Mah-Johngg Toy Chest. A long, long article in the sense that childbirth is a long, long process. And possibly in its own way, equally worthwhile.

The author keeps returning to the principle that the family is the cornerstone of civilization and must be protected. I would have argued with much of what he says, had I read this thirty years ago. But now as I watch my grandchildren growing up in a world that is more unabashedly sinful than the one I grew up in, I think he is right on the money.

Thank you, Francis. My brain hurts from putting more pieces together, and I am severely in need of chocolate, but I feel both a little smarter and a little wiser than when I woke up this morning, and I know where the happy chocolate lives...

Knitting content. We need knitting content.



This is a [white, really!] washcloth, beribboned to a book. The tub is filling, and I need to be out the door in about ten minutes for BittyBit’s birthday party. BestFriend is coming over this afternoon, and I have an optional potluck with the singles tonight.

And sometime between now and 2:00 tomorrow afternoon, I need to put together the Gospel Doctrine lesson.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Gifts and Ornaments

Willow’s ornament, from the Smooshy left over from her fingerless mitts.



Lark’s ornament, from the Silk Garden left over from her cowl and my sister’s scarf.



Ms.SMU’s ornament, using up the last of the Smooshy. I made it too long and blocked it severely after taking this photograph, so it would look [ahem] a little less suggestive.



Trainman’s ornament, from almost the last of the Koigu.



What I originally thought was going to be DecoratorDude’s ornament, from the laceweight cashmere I used for my Flared Lace Smoke Ring. Pure joy to knit; almost it persuadeth me to knit myself an entire sweater in laceweight cashmere. I gave it to a friend at church, instead, because a girl can never have too many cashmere sweaters!



BittyBit’s Birthday Scarf, unblocked and with the ends needing to be woven in. This is from the Louisa Harding Impressions that had been lurking in my stash for two years. It’s a good yarn for the project; should wear like iron while looking infinitely fragile, and it confirmed my opinion that I do not like yarn with any perceptible amount of nylon in it. It wasn’t temperamental to knit, it just felt “plastic” to me. I would knit the scarf again, only in a natural fiber.



Plus, she liked it. And, at her age and with her personality, one never knows [she is so much like three of her aunts, and her Gram, that it is scary!] When I told her that I knitted my love for her into every stitch, her eyes got huge, and she came over and gave me a bearhug. This, from the child who frequently tells me that she does not want a goodbye kiss or hug. Miracles. Loaves. Fishes. Manna. Quail.

BittyBubba’s Christmas Scarf, from the last of the KnitPicks Gloss that I used for 2BDH’s birthday scarf. Secondborn had asked me to knit it a little long, so he could get more than one winter’s wear from it; however, this is what I was able to manage. Long enough to keep that little nibble of a neck warm, short enough that he won’t trip over it. I had about 9” left from the cast-on and 10” from the bind-off; both snippets will go into the goody bag for Bookgrump’s art teacher friend. [Guess who gets to knit another scarf next year! Woohoo!]



[His came off almost immediately, because it distracted him from trying to reach the pedals on his new trike. I suspect they had to pry hers off to get her into bed last night.]

I was a few inches into his scarf when I remembered the thrilling days of yesteryear; the girls were little, and everything had to be done exactly the same. [I had to count out the M&M’s at Easter to make sure that nobody got more than anybody else; yes, we were that broke, and there was a scarcity mentality like you wouldn’t believe, especially if you saw how generous each of them has become as an adult.] So BittyBit’s birthday scarf has been renamed Christmas Scarf, and I will either whip up a couple of washcloths before the party on Saturday morning, or get her a book, depending upon how close I am to finishing the Wollmeise sock. It needs to be done before midnight, New Year’s Day, in order for me to be eligible for another skein of sockly goodness in the November Sockdown.

Plus, I have a project in mind for those clashing green skeins of Jitterbug that I bought last year. I checked out the challenge for the December Sockdown, but it involves using up bits of sock yarn from other projects. And those have already become ornaments [see above] or been given to Middlest or Bookgrump, or are being saved for when I start knitting doll clothes sometime after my next birthday. [In theory I don’t know this, but three of my kids who collect those exquisite Korean ball-jointed dolls are pooling their pennies to get me a small shepherdess to keep my flock of stuffed sheep ~ and Dolly the Llama ~ under control! The ringleader of this joint effort is the one who couldn’t hold the secret inside anymore; I did not threaten her with woolen sock yarn until she broke out in a rash, or anything. I seem to be coming full circle: I was playing with dolls long after most of my friends were playing with boys.]

Later today I will head over to Half Price Books. I have a gift card, and I’m hoping to luck out and find a particular DVD. If it’s not there, I will look at Entertainmart when I take the next culling of CD’s; they seem to have everything! I will also check the HPB’s in Arlington while I’m in the neighborhood on Tuesday.

Middest spent the night on my couch last night. It is so much fun getting to know the adult she has become. We talked and laughed and cried, and we just finished having omelettes for breakfast. She has a job interview this afternoon and is a wee bit nervous. Prayers and positive thoughts, if you please.

And now I am logging off to grab my knitting for a morning of happy stitching. She is almost done with her second doll blanket, and [now that she has come down from her cold medicine] I am going to hand her some of my wee pokey sticks so she can tackle her first doll scarf.

Good times.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the twelfth (reading) day of -- Merry Christmas, everybody!

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Last night I was seriously in the mood to cook. Made a pot of risotto for dinner. Then, later, had a craving for a German pancake [or Dutch Baby] and tried this recipe. The waitress at Ol’ South had mentioned that the secret was to put the pan into a 500°F oven.

The results were nowhere near as pretty as the ones I get in the restaurant, but not bad for a first effort. More powdered sugar next time, and maybe less lemon juice. I know: heresy! And maybe next time I will haul out the blender like one of the recipe variations called for, instead of standing at the sink, beating the daylights out of the batter until my hand was ready to fall off.

Definitely edible. But not yet ready to fix for company.

When I finally turned off the lights, I was nearly finished with the gusset increases on the Wollmeise sock. [Reading and sighing ate up a lot of prime knitting time; I wonder if that article is available in audio form?]

I picked up Special Dark chocolate chips on sale on the way to work yesterday, and a dozen and a half eggs. I will whip up another chocolate pecan tart in a little while, and maybe a pan of cornbread, either for breakfast or to take along to dinner. And maybe I will spend the weekend making and eating German pancakes, until I am either sick of them or feel like I know what I’m doing.

Guess what Brother Sushi gave me for Christmas? A subscription to Gourmet. Fear and tremble, all ye producers of fast food and dinner-in-a-box. Your days are numbered, chez Ravelled!

Merry Christmas, everybody! And God bless us, every one!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the eleventh (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

We finished watching Cross Creek at lunch yesterday. Hard to believe that that movie is 25 years old. Harder to believe that Mary Steenburgen and Peter Coyote have not been bigger stars than they are. Quiet, nuanced performances, and of course I loved the vintage clothing and the quiet transformation of the shack she bought into a house filled with love and light. My friend at work and I were both thinking that we need to read the memoir upon which the movie is based, and also The Yearling.

I finished BittyBubba’s scarf about five minutes before getting off the train [in spite of distractions]. It is blocking as we speak. Tonight I will pop it into a gift bag and put it with the other gifts that are going to Secondborn’s tomorrow afternoon.

I parked at the Richland Hills station and rode in from there; it’s convenient to the highway which leads straight to Firstborn’s house, and Middlest. There were not many of us in attendance, but I was a little giddy and kept making bad jokes, so we were pretty much in stitches all evening.

Mmm, when I walked into the house after Knit Night last night, the fireplace was chuckling, too, and the living room was roasty-toasty warm.

About those distractions? Three little words. Trainman. Trainman. Trainman.

[Sigh.] Sometimes I think we are just JustFriends and that he is mercifully immune to my charms. And sometimes he looks at me and smiles as he listens, and there is such warmth in his eyes.

And last night he leans across the table and murmurs, “In January, not sure yet when, but in January, I would like to take you to dinner.”

I did not spit in his eye.

And perhaps I was a little susceptible after watching the last half of Cross Creek? But I am going to just keep showing up for life and see what the next adventure will be.

I thought it might involve frogging an inch of the Wollmeise sock, because I thought I might have begun the gusset increases two rounds too soon. So I grabbed the finished first sock and compared that junction stitch by stitch; they look identical. Whew!

Knitting: now that’s a terra that is not incognito. If I knit to the edge and fall over it, a crochet hook can rescue me in a Noo Yawk minute.

Driving in today, because we are closing the office an hour early and the trains and buses are running on a holiday schedule, which means that if I miss the 4:10 I will have to wait an hour and a half for the next one. No thanks; this also guarantees that I can pick up the things I need for Christmas dinner on the way into work and not have to deal with frazzled shoppers on the drive home.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the tenth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

My friend Punkin had this link on her blog yesterday. There are two videos. Be sure to watch the second one as well!

Check out Woolgathering’s tree. I did a quick Google and could not find a source for those lights. Probably just as well; I would only get hungry every time I glanced at the tree!

Trainman was on the train last night, pleasantly surprised to see me. He thought I was off all week. We don’t need to tell him that I’m off, most weeks, if we are talking about being focused on the task at hand. I gave him his Christmas card with the ornament inside and the “Do Not Open Until December 25” inscription on the outside. I also made the executive decision to give the purple cashmere sweater ornament to one of my girlfriends at church, rather than to DecoratorDude, who was not on the train last night. Next year, assuming we continue to ride the same train, I can make him one in red or green cashmere. Because I definitely want to knit up more of that Jojoland cashmere. I wore my Flared Lace Smoke Ring one day last week, and it was a joy; it was even more fun to knit up on 000’s. The like-buttah-ness of the cashmere really shows up at a smaller gauge.

I had a great day at work, where I moved from one task to another in some sort of logical sequence and got a lot of paper scanned into the system so that it could be shredded and sent to the Great Compost Pile in the Sky.

By the time I was home [with a fresh gallon of milk and a half gallon of strawberry-kiwi juice], BittyBubba’s scarf was roughly half done. I hope to finish it today and block both scarves while I’m at work tomorrow.

Knit Night tonight, where I hope to meet my blogfriend Francis’ wife and also welcome Ms. NewTrainKnitter. [I will need to come up with a better name for her, but I haven’t even had breakfast yet; be gentle with me.] And Middlest has invited one of the sisters in her ward, who is a delight.

Time to sneak in a couple of rows while the tub fills. My living room is toasty-warm; wish I could just sit on the couch all day and knit and enjoy the fire. I loved revisiting old KnitPicks podcasts last night.

[Anybody else have podcasts that they like, with squeaky-clean language? I won’t be able to get back to the library for another audiobook until Friday or Saturday. Thanks!]

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the ninth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Run, do not walk, to David Reidy’s podcast of yesterday, 21 December 2008. If you’re not interested in the knitting or his essay [which is wonderfully wry], then enjoy the music that opens it [a fusion of Sheep May Safely Graze and Good King Wenceslas] and head right for the end of the podcast, where Allison Crowe sings perhaps the least reverent and yet most joyful rendition of O Holy Night I have heard in a long time. I don’t think I could listen to her for hours on end, but I love music that is passionate.

David also provides a link to a graduation speech by retiring High Court Judge Justice Michael Kirby on the topic of love. I agree with much, if not all, of what he says. [The Holy Scriptures teach that homosexuality is a sin. As is self-righteousness. As is cruelty. As is gossip. We are all sinners and in need of the Atonement, just as we are all precious children of God, living in a fallen world, and struggling the best way we know how to return Home again.] It is far too easy, as we polish and hone the sins that are most precious to us until we are finally ready to give them up, to condemn others for those sins by which we are not, ourselves, tempted. And to forget that the Savior counseled us quite firmly to focus on purifying the inner vessel, taking the beam from our own eye, etc.

Knitting. There was a lot of it yesterday, happy little stitches leaping from one needle to the other as BittyBit’s scarf grew and grew and grew. The gas fireplace was chortling as I woke up and ran for most of the morning, which I spent on the couch with needles in hand until it was time to get ready for church.

Tan and Kristen referenced the same poem by Christina Rossetti in their posts yesterday. Kristen also included this link to a performance by Sissel and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. President Monson also quotes frequently from this poem in his talks, particularly at Christmastime.

The Christmas chorale in Firstborn’s ward was splendid. No other word for it. Her solo went well [Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven], and Middlest had a speaking part. I was not expecting to see the Bitties, as that made hours four-five-six of church for them, but BittyBit was particularly well-behaved, and BittyBubba mostly tried to stand on the pew and direct the choir, occasionally singing along. While it is always great to see my Bitties, it also meant that I could not finish BittyBit’s scarf; she would have noticed me working on an orange scarf. So I worked on her brother’s and put four+ inches on it, because he is young enough to be fascinated by the process but oblivious to the product.

Secondborn and 2BDH were wearing their scarves; Lark [ahem!] was not wearing hers. It’s OK; I wasn’t wearing any of mine, either.

I listened to old episodes of Sticks and String while finishing BittyBit’s scarf. It’s marked as a finished object on Ravelry but is one of the projects you won’t see here until after Christmas. And I put another half inch on BittyBubba’s scarf before running up the white flag and frogging it.

I had originally thought of making his 27 stitches wide, but that seemed a little too skinny to me, so I tinked back the first row and added another 6 stitches. After working five or so inches, it suddenly seemed too wide. So I frogged it back to the original 27 stitches and left it at that for the night. I think I can get the job done with half a ball of yarn. If it ends up looking too short to knot, I can always knit in a slit toward the second end so we can pass the first end through.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the eighth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Yesterday was just what I hoped it would be, and a little more. I took another bag of books to Half Price Books and walked out with $15.25! I tanked the car, picked up the audiobook of A Confederacy of Dunces* at the library, and found a good home for a truly lovely set of china [service for eight] a friend gave me several years ago, which I have been lugging around ever since. I now have half a cupboard back; the dishes will be used and cherished, as the new owner knows the previous owner and esteems her highly.

On the way home, I was pulled over ~ by a young man who puts the fine in Fort Worth’s Finest ~ and informed that I had a brake light out. I smiled up at him, just as if Trainman had not told me the selfsame thing several weeks ago, and said, “Oh, thank you!” He handed me my driver’s license and proof of insurance and told me to please take care of it and wished me a Merry Christmas and drove off into the metaphorical sunset.

[“Who was that masked man?” “I don’t know, but he left this silver bullet.”]

After lunch, I drove over to AutoZone and batted my eyes at them, and they put the new one in for me. And now, when Trainman asks me about my brake light, I can tell him I took care of it. [I figure that forking over the $7.77 for the part and standing in the chill, holding the loose screws while the nice man put my new bulb in for me, was part of the repentance process for my earlier prevarication. And if that were not enough, the pint of ice cream I brought home from the scratch-and-dent grocery store turned out to be sugarless. Ewwww!]

Much, much knitting progress yesterday. I alternated working on BittyBit’s birthday scarf with repeats on the Wollmeise and have begun the gusset increases.

*Note re A Confederacy of Dunces: I listened to the first CD and put it back in its case. Language like unto the train ride home on Friday night. Great premise, occasional bits of brilliance, and I won’t be finishing it.

Today I will be attending church in Firstborn’s ward and listening to her solo and maybe even getting to sit next to Brother Sushi. And then I will be coming home to work on next week’s Sunday School lesson, which I will be teaching.

Don’t everybody fall over, at least not all at once.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the seventh (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

In the Must Have Needed the Sleep department, I came home from work two hours early yesterday. Actually, more like three, because I caught the 3:05 instead of hanging around the station until the 3:55. [One minor downside to riding the train is that they don’t run every half hour, all day long. Another is the uncouthness exhibited by some of one’s fellow passengers. I had two middle-aged F-bomb-droppers sitting behind me until the second station and was about to say something until one of them casually mentioned that he was schizophrenic and the other started a discussion about the meds that he was on. Sadly, sharp poky sticks are no match for that.] Between the turkey I ate at lunch and the Jim Brickman Christmas CD, I was asleep by 6:30. I woke at 2:30 this morning, ready to knit.

The Chocolate Pecan Tart that I took for yesterday’s luncheon was a finger-licking success. I did a copy/paste from yesterday’s post into more or less a recipe format and sent it out to the office, at the request of one of the legal secretaries, but the office manager said she couldn’t follow a non-recipe. So she has decreed that I must bring it each and every year from now on. Instant office classic, like her own deviled eggs.

It appears that I have become one of those dash-of-this, smidgen-of-that cooks. Yes, baking requires more precision than general cooking, but I am finding there is still great latitude for improvisation.

I finished the cashmere sweater ornament while biting my tongue between Union Station and the dropping-off of the afflicted brethren. I am galloping away on BittyBit’s scarf and am about to go sit on the couch and listen to yesterday’s KnitPicks podcast [please tell me there is one; I haven’t checked yet] and knit until I need a nap. Each pattern repeat on this scarf roughly equals an inch in length, so I should easily finish this today and move on to BittyBubba’s miniature version of 2BDH’s birthday scarf.

I am really enjoying these quick projects. And I’ve already warned Brother Sushi that he is getting an IOU. I won’t be ordering the yarn for his project until the 2nd or the 16th. While I am waiting, I hope to finish the second Wollmeise sock and get started on a project that may integrate those two disparate greens in the Jitterbug that I bought last year. And after that, I think the new purple alpaca yarn that I brought home from the Knit Night sock yarn exchange.

I am planning minimal errands today, maximum knitting, and a modicum of baking. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a quiet, happy day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the sixth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Friday, already? I stayed up much too late last night, playing Mahjongg Toy Box on the AARP website, and making this to take to work today.



One refrigerator piecrust, rolled out tissue-thin between sheets of parchment and teased into the crevices [vicious cravasses, as Tommy Smothers would say, with pumas in them] of my tart pan, then most of a 12-oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips emptied out into it and the pecan halves arranged with an OCDness that would make Martha swoon. Four eggs and maybe two tablespoons of vanilla extract, and I’m not sure how much brown sugar, maybe a cup? and then several goodys of dark corn syrup and a dash of cinnamon and the last of the chocolate chips on top. Into the oven at 350°F for 40 minutes before checking.

Had a great visit with my visiting teacher from church last night. We are kindred spirits, which is either a wonderful thing or a very scary thing, depending upon who’s observing.

We also had fog almost all day yesterday. It was beautiful on the drive to the station, and too dark to photograph, not to mention that I needed all my wits and half of everybody else’s to navigate safely. I looked out the window in the copy room and saw nothing but gleaming pearly light, so I ran back to my desk and got my camera.



It had cleared significantly by the time I walked to the station, or rather it was turning into a gentle, misting rain, much as I remember from the Pacific Northwest. My hair, of course, collapsed like Macarthur Park in the rain; my heart was joyful.

Today we have our office Christmas luncheon and the Secret Santa reveal. And it is entirely possible that the boss will let us leave early, something I used to be much more excited about when I didn’t have such interesting conversations on the journey home. Last year she shut down the popsicle stand in the early afternoon; I had forgotten until a coworker asked me if I thought she might do that again this year.

Film at 11?

Slightly different version of the Mom Song that I loved so much when I heard it earlier this year; [same song, different singer, and I like this version better].

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the fifth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Kristen asked for my lasagna recipe. Here it is, such as it is.

Enough noodles to fill a pan ~ either a 9x13 or my slightly smaller 8x12, or one of the big disposable pans ~ four layers deep. Boil in lots of salted water with just a dollop of olive oil.

Enough bottled sauce to make it all happy and juicy. At least one quart, maybe a quart and a half to two, depending on your preference.

One tub part-skim ricotta, 8 ounces or more, with one or two beaten eggs stirred in and dried herbes de Provence to taste; somewhere between a teaspoonful and a tablespoonful.

One or two 8-oz bricks of Neufchatel or light cream cheese, softened. Not the fat-free kind; it’s mostly water. You could stir in some fennel seeds and not go far wrong.

Four to 8 oz of mozzarella, grated coarsely.

Spread a thinnish layer of red sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with a layer of noodles and one of your cheeses.

Lightly cover with more red sauce, another layer of noodles and your second cheese.

Repeat with another layer of red sauce, noodles, and your third cheese.

More red sauce, the last layer of noodles, more cheese in any combination.

The last of the red sauce, and a generous grating of fresh Parmegiano-Reggiano or Asiago. Or the dried-out stuff that comes in a tube, which most of us grew up with, if you must.

Bake at 350°F for roughly half an hour. Serve with tossed salad [preferably from a bag, LOL] and lots of garlicky bread.

My big secret is using four or more different cheeses. You can use a meat-based sauce if you like, or not. I suppose if you absolutely had to, you could use firm tofu for one of the cheeses, and nobody would be the wiser.

I find that the cheese and the commercial sauce provide enough salt for flavor but not so much that I wake up at 2:00am with screaming ankles.

Tithing settlement is checked off the list for this year. My visiting teacher(s?) are coming tonight. Might be a good idea to clear some space on the couch.

I realized last night that it is one week until Christmas. I am starting BittyBit’s scarf today, as soon as I finish DecoratorDude’s ornament. I am about half-past ready for some instant gratification, and her scarf should provide that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the fourth (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Good news [at last] for two little girls this Christmas. I’m so proud of her for finding a way to make this happen.

It took me two hours to get to work yesterday. We had sleet and ice and freezing fog, and there was one wreck in Dallas that had I-30 backed up to the easternmost edge of Arlington. So I hopped onto Lancaster, which is Division in Arlington and Jefferson through Grand Prairie and then turns into Fort Worth Avenue in Dallas, where it runs into Commerce street and Bob’s your uncle, you’re downtown. I was an hour late, and some of the office was later than that. It made for a very short work day, as I left at 11:45 to head back to Arlington for the mock trial.

That was so much fun! I hope I get to do it another time.

And then I ran a third batch of CD’s to Entertainmart and sold them at a decent price, and the ones they didn’t want to Half Price Books. I traded the money from the second transaction toward a box of really nice Christmas cards. I’ll put Lark’s ornament in one, and Trainman’s in another, and I think I will whip up an ornament for DecoratorDude [or whatever the heck I called him last time]. I am almost to the point where I can give one of the cheapie bookcases to Fourthborn

Middlest brought me a book from the manga section of the bookstore, giggling almost uncontrollably. Click here to see why. I read a couple of pages from the book but was put off by the language in the version I read, so I’m not recommending it. But cute idea.

Progress continues on the second Wollmeise sock. I am about halfway up the foot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the third (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

I found this link last Friday. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Last night was all about the Plan B. When I got to my car at the train station, all ready to hop in and head over to Lark’s concert, I couldn’t help noticing that the Sleet Fairy had paid Lorelai a little visit. So as soon as I got the windows sufficiently de-iced, I drove home and then texted Lark and Firstborn, letting them know that I would be staying home.

Better to miss one concert now, than all the ones in the future. Lark very graciously texted me back.

I finished the Christmas ornament for Trainman and have put its mug shot with the other FO’s that I will reveal after Christmas. I also mailed Willow’s ornament off to her. And I put several more rounds on the second Wollmeise sock while listening to back issues of Sticks and String, specifically his interviews with Meg Swansen [EZ’s daughter] and Jared Flood [Brooklyntweed].

It was colder than a bill collector’s heart last night! The fireplace was on when I walked in the door at 7:00 and did not shut off until I went to bed a little after 10:30. But I was warm as toast, knitting on the couch with my Clapotis around my neck and my knitting in my lap.

This afternoon I get to play the plaintiff’s mother in a mock trial our office is putting on. It’s being held at an office in Arlington, so at 4:00 I will be done for the day, and I will just drive the two or three miles over to Firstborn’s and get in some extra time with Middlest before Knit Night. I am hoping that my friend Francis’s wife will brave the crowds and join us. And maybe the nice lady I met on the train last week, as well. Parking is likely to be horrendous near the bookstore. I intend to be parked and knitting while the serious shoppers are eating dinner.

I will also take the opportunity to try on a jacket that caught my eye from the Coldwater Creek catalog. If I like it, I will wait for it to hit 70% off in the online outlet.

And now if you will all kindly excuse me, I am going inhale a nice bowl of cream of wheat and wish that I could curl up on the couch to enjoy the fireplace, which is blazing merrily this morning. It’s 22°F [-6°C] out there, and there is a winter weather advisory. We are expecting freezing drizzle until 4:00pm. I am heading out in 15 minutes to de-ice the windows if necessary. And I am putting the leather gloves under my chenille ones which are trimmed with rabbit fur, and wool socks on over my others, and my lovely wool car coat on over my leather jacket. Thankfully, I have only half a small bag of recycling and less than half a bag of trash to go out today. It would be trash/recycling day today!

Stay warm, everybody, and knit if you get the chance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the second (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

The concert last night went well. Typically by the end of the day my voice is worn out, and I have no oomph. But I prayed like crazy, and last night my voice was clear and strong and true. What a lovely, joyful experience. My three oldest were there, and Lark. No sign of Trainman; I shall razz him unmercifully.

I came home and ate the snack that the stake president’s wife had prepared for the choir and our guests. And polished off the tuna salad I made when I dashed home after church. And chugged a mug of milk.

I think I managed to put myself on the Silver Fox’s radar yesterday. I told him how much I had enjoyed the Sunday School lesson he taught two weeks ago. And we chatted intermittently until class began. He was sitting in the row ahead of me, and over a seat or two. Once, he swiveled around to say something and lightly placed his hand on my knee to emphasize his point. I have no idea what it was, because that was when my brain fried.

This man whose middle name I do not know, has his hand on my knee. Not in a hey-baby-baby way, but still. Do I stab him with my knitting needle? Do I flap my eyebrows at him? Do I ignore it?

I am trying to remember the last time anybody other than a medical specialist was anywhere near my patella. I am coming up empty. Maybe the Near-Fiancé Experience?

And people think church is boring.

My thoughts on yesterday’s Twelve Days of Christmas reading. I cannot read those verses in Isaiah without hearing Handel’s magnificent For Unto Us A Child Is Born, complete with orchestra. Or without weeping for joy.

I did a quick search on Ravelry before heading off to bed, and I came up with the pattern I want to use for BittyBit’s scarf. It’s Christine Vogel’s Easy Drop Stitch Scarf Pattern, available as a free download on Ravelry. I suspect it will be a two- or three-day project.

Lark’s concert tonight, woohoo!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the first (reading) day of Christmas

At Relief Society earlier this month, we were given a folder of handouts to help us find imaginative ways to celebrate the season. In 2005, the church published a list of readings in the scriptures, to correspond with the twelve days of Christmas. Some of these scriptures will be familiar to you, as they come from the KJV of the Bible. Others will be new to you, but harmonious with what you already know.

As this is a copyrighted article, I am not cutting-and-pasting each day’s reading into my blog posts. Instead, I will post the link and this notice, and you can just read that day’s portion if you choose. I would love to hear your thoughts and impressions.

Consider these my Christmas card(s) to you.

Middlest had this on her blog the other day. She wanted me to take it. So I did. She thought I might be a kumquat. I thought that wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

You Are A: Pony!

ponyWho doesn't love a pony? You are one of these miniature horses, renown for your beauty and desired by many. Full of grace, you are a beautiful and very special animal, full of strength and majesty.

You were almost a: Puppy or a Lamb
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a GroundhogThe Cute Animals Quiz

Nahhh, I’m a kumquat.

Rolling on [elliptically and eccentrically, as befits a proper kumquat] to a different topic. May I just state for the record how cool it is to be able to renew library books online? One of them was due back yesterday, and the nap I took ate a big bite out of the afternoon. So I logged on and renewed, and then I drove out after the library had closed for the day and dropped all three books down the chute.

The first Wollmeise sock is done. And the second is cast on. See?



As is an ornament for Trainman from the leftover Koigu. I am knitting a miniature stocking, because while he is nothing like unto a boyfriend, I do not wish to invoke the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater. [Girl likes boy. Girl knits boy a sweater. Boy joins the French Foreign Legion.]

Very soon I will cast on a scarf for BittyBit, from the Louisa Harding that beguiled me so, two years ago. Lacy like her mom’s; that will give her holes to poke her fingers into when she’s bored and can’t figure out what cute and blogworthy thing to do next.

I ended up making neither spanakopita nor baklava, though I had most of the makings for either. That nap I mentioned? I woke up half an hour or so before I was supposed to be at church, put the spinach on to cook in my small pot and set a big pot boiling for some linguine. When the spinach was drained, and while the pasta cooked, I stirred 12 oz of mascarpone, a 16 oz bottle of four-cheese Alfredo sauce [I don’t know who Alfredo is or was, but when I meet the man in the hereafter, I am going to give him a great big hug], and somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of herbes de Provence into the spinach.

You know how there is always a bit of sauce left in the jar? I poured in a splash of the half and half, screwed the lid on tightly, and shook the jar vigorously, over the sink. And then repeated with another tablespoon or so of cream. This is seriously hedonistic pasta, folks! Then I drained a large-ish jar of diced pimiento and stirred that in as well. I have half a pot of sauce left, and maybe a third of the pasta leftover after sharing at church [and a late-night snack].

I love Tex-Mex, and I am so thankful to live in Texas, where you can get the real thing. But my first love was Italian food, and it’s probably still my favorite thing to fix. If the Savior were to knock on my door, I would make him a pan of my lasagna. [Which reminds me. Brother Sushi, your lasagna is waiting for you in the freezing compartment of my fridge. I am exercising enormous personal restraint...] If the Three Nephites showed up with the missionaries one night, I would hand them a plate of spaghetti.

I may have outdone myself this time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Entrées, Literal and Metaphorical

OK, now I have my entrée into the topic of Brother Abacus. I wonder if somebody has already written a theme song for that brief, ill-fated experience? The chorus of which would be something like “Come here, come here, Go ‘way, go ‘way.” Maybe I should come up with a line of greeting cards for those of us who have to deal with passive-aggressive folks.

“Sure, I’d be happy to clean my room.” [inside] “Sometime after the Second Coming.”
“Marriage counseling is a great idea!” [inside] “But don’t expect me to do anything differently.”
“Mm, I really like your kisses.” [inside] “And hers. And hers. And hers.”
“You will never have to slap my hands. I respect you too much for that.” [inside] “I don’t want to lose my temple recommend. Your tender feelings don’t even enter the equation.”

On the train last Monday night, I picked Trainman’s brain. Also MsSMU’s. I simply do not understand Brother Abacus’s behavior. I don’t know if he is intrigued because I am so happy as a single [i.e., without him], or he wants to start something up again, or he is so into mind-games that he doesn’t notice what he’s doing, or he’s genuinely naive. [Or some of all of the above. We humans are rarely single-minded and transparent. And I suspect that much of the time, none of us fully understands why we do the things we do.]

MsSMU’s take? Simple: the man is a jerk. I don’t quite think so, though he certainly behaved like one when we stopped dating. I think he is an essentially decent man who makes choices that wound, out of a desire to avoid unpleasantness.

Trainman’s take was more cautious, I think because men seem hesitant to judge one another as women do. He factored in the widowhood, the very human wish to feel desirable, the reluctance to be alone, and several other disparate elements and synthesized them into an elegant, compassionate, and well-reasoned whole that made sense to me while still not giving me a concrete answer.

I opined that maybe it was a case of “Better the devil you know...” They both snorted.

Maybe I should just take Brother Abacus aside sometime and tell him that I do not understand why he seems to be [intermittently, at least] seeking out my company, that while I have forgiven him and we are not enemies, we are also not friends and it’s no use acting as if we were.

Trainman snorted again when I said that Brother Abacus’s hugging privileges were revoked long ago and that the last time he tried to kiss me [New Year’s Day, 2007, the day after that disastrous Family Home Evening at his house when I found out that another sister in attendance had driven all the way up from San Antonio to see him], he was presented with my cheek.

Trainman groaned and dropped his head toward the table when I said that Brother Abacus was at the head of my “not even if he was on fire” list. [But he came back up, laughing.]

Enough about the bean-counter. ‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Hey Middlest: lookie here! These are the faux argyles I was telling you about last night. I think this might be the perfect pattern for the purple alpaca that followed me home from the Knit Night sock yarn swap. [Along with a generous handful of Micki’s handmade caramels, which I am enjoying for breakfast.]



I will head out to the store in a little while, to pick up the rest of the makings for spanakopita for the ward Christmas party tonight. But first I am heading over to the couch with my knitting, to listen to the KnitPicks podcast.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gearing up for a busy weekend and crazy week

Tonight is the second annual party and sock yarn exchange with my Knit Night friends. This year is by definition better, because Middlest will be going with me.

I popped our contributions to the kamikaze fierceness which is the sock yarn exchange ~ I won’t be able to lull anybody into a false sense of security this year, not after the way I finagled that “burning bunnies” yarn last time ~ into the trunk, along with the sugared pecans. And I popped myself into the driver’s seat for a short drive through Ryan Place, a gentrified neighborhood that is quite near the chapel.

I wasn’t disappointed. Huge old houses from the early years of the last century; possibly some even older than that. All lit up like Christmas [ducking]. My inner Martha wanted to come home and drag out all the boxes and start foofing. The part of me that pays for inner Martha’s exuberance in multiple ways, came home and had a small snack and went to bed.

I think I am on my next-to-last pattern repeat on the cuff of the Wollmeise sock. I had a couple of really great experiences on the train ride to work yesterday morning, because of this sock. There is a distinguished looking gentleman who communes with his laptop. We nod and smile and don’t say much to one another. Yesterday he was waxing enthusiastic about the sock. I think he might be an engineering type, because his eyes didn’t glaze over when I showed him the chart for the pattern. Sadly, his wife is allergic to wool; I think otherwise I might have been able to persuade him to learn to knit, so he could make socks for her. But maybe I’m projecting?

A couple of stops down the line, I heard him say to the woman who had just sat down across from him, “The lady behind you is a knitter, too. She’s making a red sock. It’s [insert appropriate adjective, which I have forgotten].”

So naturally I turned around, and she turned around, and we conversed in the space between our seats. She has been knitting for a week and a half and confessed that she was waiting for it to start being relaxing. She crochets, so I told her that she already has half the neural pathways established. I also told her about Knit Night and how to find us next week, and then we exchanged names.

She has the same first name as Middlest! Spelled the same way, too. I told her, “I’m going to ask what will sound like a totally bizarre question, but by any chance are you also left-handed?” She is, and she cannot wait to meet Middlest and see what else they have in common besides given name, hand dominance, and newness-to-knitting.

Time for me to start getting ready for work. I am driving in today, because I am taking my last half hour of PT, and what is the point of getting off early if I just have to sit and wait for the train? [Well, other than the hope of another nice chat with Trainman.] Plus, I would like half a chance of getting Middlest and me to the party on time.

So, tonight is the Knit Night party.

Tomorrow night is the ward party, and I am making either baklava or spanakopita, even though I do not have a Greek bone in my body as far as I know. We are doing a cook-from-your-ethnicity-or-culture feast. I just happen to love Greek food.

Sunday night is the Christmas choral festival or whatever they are calling it, at church. Free. 7:00pm. Me, with zills, in the chapel, and still trying to learn the alto part to the Hallelujah Chorus. Trainman might be there; I told him he was allowed to come up afterwards and tell me how amazing I am. He grinned. Here’s how to find us:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
5001 Altamesa [just west of Hulen, on the south side; you’ll have to make a U-turn]
Fort Worth, TX

Monday night is Lark’s concert at school.

Tuesday night is Knit Night.

Wednesday is tithing settlement.

Thursday I sit home and twitch.

Sounds like a plan to me...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Does this make you grin?



I came home last night, happily weary after another productive day, and worked on the sock while the sugared pecans baked. They are bagged and in the fridge for tomorrow night. Tonight I will wrap up the sock yarn for the gift exchange.

It wasn’t until I was nearly to work, that I realized I had left my card key and my cell phone at home. It didn’t overly complicate my day until time to go home, when I put on my coat, grabbed my bag, walked out the [locked] front door, and realized that the sock was still on my desk.

Aughhh! I didn’t want Trainman to see just how twitchy I get when my hands have nothing to do. I stood outside the office for a minute or two, willing one of my co-workers to walk out. Nothing. Then one of the ladies from the suite next door saw my plight and told me to go use their phone to see if I could get somebody to let me in.

Success! One of my friends opened the double doors for me, then sprinted back to the inner security door, just in time to have it close in her face. And she didn’t have her card key on her, either. So she stood at the big window in front of switchboard, and I stood at the crack in the door, and we both hollered for another friend to come rescue us.

It’s a wonder I can tie my own shoes some days, right? No, wait, I wear clogs. Nevermind.

So I got my sock and my chart, and I speed-walked to the station, and Trainman said yes, he was quite relieved that I had my knitting with me.

He would have been quite safe. But the first bozo with his iPod on so loudly that he could be heard three rows away? Not so much.

I have my card key and my cell phone and my keys and my knitting. I know where my shoes are, and I know what I’m wearing to work. And now I’m going to whip up a batch of cream of wheat and sweeten it with the leftover crunchy bits from the roasted pecans.

And then I’m going to try to stay out of trouble all day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Wanderings

@ one of my children who shall remain nameless, here’s a story about a sheep you might relate to...

Funny thing is, the kids and I all live within spitting distance of Waxahachie. And four of my co-workers live there and commute to BigD every day.

We had sleet last night. Not for long, just a few minutes of tiny pings on the windshield as I ran errands before picking up Middlest for Knit Night. The high today is supposed to be 47°F [8+°C]. When I went to bed it was 33°F [might as well call it freezing, no matter how you denote it] with a wind out of the north at 22mph.

Middlest packed me a lunch, for dinner last night: two sandwiches, a bag of fresh homemade cookies, and some weird but tasty oversized pretzel chunks that were filled with peanut butter. So I had a light and healthy dinner, and I won’t need to do anything for lunch except to pour a bottle of milk and take it along. I have a liter box of soup in the fridge at work. Thanks, honey!

I had a nice, productive day at my own desk, entered five new lawsuits into the system, had an extremely brief and productive (!!!) meeting with the other two members of the Work/Life Balance Committee so we could finalize our presentation for the staff meeting on Friday and check that off our PRT’s for the year. You could file this under the heading of deathbed repentance and not be that far off the mark.

You guys know that I love Winston Churchill. He once said, “For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee.”

I put maybe an inch on cuffs of the lovely Wollmeise socks yesterday. I was headed toward the park and ride when I realized that the vacation day of two of my co-workers, meant that nobody on our admin team was available to open the switchboard. [My replacement shows up when I do, at 8:30.] So I drove in, used the monthly parking of one of the absentees, and opened up the popsicle stand at 8:00. Which meant that I could leave at 4:30 and beat the rush, run my errands, eat the nice picnic that Middlest made for me, and still be in the door for Knit Night a minute or two early.

And for a change of pace, I took my bath last night instead of this morning, so I have oodles of time to write, and to read my favorite blogs, before heading out the door. Bathing at night wouldn’t work for me during the summer, but I might just switch over during cold weather. I slept like a log last night.

There is even time to tank the car and get a hot chocolate this morning, woohoo! I saw gas for $1.49 last night but did not make time to stop.

Happy Wednesday, everybody! Smile at everybody today, if only to make them wonder what you’ve been up to.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Wanted: WD-40 for my brain

My friend Alison had this link on her blog. Veddy interesting, as Arte Johnson would say...

Well, we already know that insanity is contagious; bumper stickers say that we get it from our kids, and I’m sure it goes both ways.

Because some of you have been waiting so patiently for a beauty shot of the Wollmeise. She would not sit still; sorry.



We had rain last night, buckets and buckets from the sound of it. Good sleeping weather. I would love to stay home and knit today, but there’s Knit Night tonight and a lovely train ride into BigD this morning and back to Cowtown to pick up Lorelai from the park and ride. I have a snack-size Ziploc with snippets of yarn for the art teacher at Bookgrump’s school.

Something thought-provoking that I read while at switchboard yesterday.

The Church says “thank you”.

Interesting talk with Trainman and MsSMU last night, but not enough time to give you the back-story. Remind me; it involves the ever-enigmatic Brother Abacus. Remind me, too, that I think I got a bit of insight of my own this morning.

Time will tell if it is genuine inspiration or random synaptic firings. [The dream fragments I remember were more news-of-the-weird than usual, and I am still shaking them off. Maybe I should just skip breakfast and sit down with my knitting and...]

Nahhh.

Monday, December 08, 2008

On Enjoying the Wait

David Reidy’s Sticks and Strings podcast was especially good yesterday. I liked his essay on the pleasures of delayed gratification [vs. the greed that is so typical of modern times and the messes such greed inevitably gets us into]. The music is also lovely. And he mentions in passing that he is writing a textbook for a class he teaches. Well, of course; he’s a knitter who appreciates St. Elizabeth of Zimmermann and being the boss of one’s knitting. Why not extend that into his professional life as well?

I just finished turning the heel on my Wollmeise sock. I started out following the pattern for that, but the KFB and PFB just seemed bunchy in this yarn, so I frogged back and worked an extra gusset increase round [to 57 stitches] and then marked off 24 stitches to either side of center for the gusset decreases. Fits like a champ! Plenty of room for my high arches, and the perfect length on the sole.

I also steam-blocked the ornament which I made for MsSMU this weekend, for reasons that will be evident when I post all the knitted gifts sometime after Christmas. Let the record show that this is the first time I have used my iron since moving into the duplex last June. Yes, I knew exactly where it was. Yes, I still remembered which end the water goes in. No, I do not feel inclined to press anything else; I’ve already folded up my over-the-door ironing board and put the iron away.

And I’ve figured out what to give LittleBit for her birthday later this month. Il me plaît beaucoup, and I hope she’s pleased as well.

No pictures of the sock in progress today; it’s at that awkward adolescent stage and feeling a bit camera-shy.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I’m Dreaming of a White Breakfast

I woke up this morning hungry as a bear, though not as cross as one. So I made a nice bowl of cream of wheat and enjoyed it with a splash of the leftover half-and-half. Yum!



Later today, I think I’ll make a pan of cornbread. It has been way too long since I enjoyed fresh cornbread with real butter and a tall glass of milk. Or maybe I’ll wash it down with a mug of cream of tomato soup. That might be more in keeping with the temperature outside!

My friend Kristen had this on her blog.



Thank you, Kristen.

And BestFriend had this link on her blog. As a former Democrat [way back in the Frank Church era], I never thought I’d see the day when I’d say “thanks” to Charles Colson.

My friend Bookgrump is collecting yarn for the art teacher at the school where she works.

Elizabeth Perry is a knitter and artist whose blog I very much enjoy. Yesterday’s post appeals to my frugality as well as my creative impulse. I might just have tomorrow night’s Family Home Evening activity all planned out for me!



Speaking of creativity, that’s the least-blurry picture I could manage of the Wollmeise sock in progress. Be glad that I didn’t post the others! I didn’t work on it much yesterday, in favor of knitting an ornament to give Ms.SMU on the train ride home this week. She starts work at a different university next week: a nicer boss, a significant promotion, and a raise that her new boss fought for. I am so happy for her, and I will miss her.

I am saving all the pictures of knitted ornaments and gifts for a post sometime after Christmas.

My breakfast was delicious, and I’m still a little hungry. I think I’ll go make that cornbread now, instead of later.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ramblings, Rants, Links, and Yarnovers

Elder Wirthlin was buried yesterday. What a dear, kind, gentle man!

Here is a link on grandparenting effectively from a distance.

And an excellent column re: the Prop 8 backlash. Thanks, BestFriend!

I noticed on my Yahoo! News that a headline which read something like “opposition to Prop 8 chiefly from the uneducated and religious” at 6:00am on Thursday, read “California gay marriage ban driven by religion” at 9:00am. In the body of the article [revised slightly during the day] it gives interesting statistics.

I was mildly amused to read that 57% of nonwhite voters and 56% of voters over 55 were “not as strong factors as assumed”. Would the anti-religion bigots be more impressed if it were 99%? I think not.

I was less amused by the implication that being religious is equivalent to being poor and uneducated. Because, of course, enlightened people cannot possibly believe in God, or moral values that have stood the test of time, or the necessity for self-discipline when one disagrees with one’s neighbor. Here is the article. And another. Glad to know that I’m not alone in this belief.

There was a disturbance earlier this week at the entrance to the temple here in Dallas; as I heard it, the gates had to be locked. I called ahead last night before driving up from work. All clear, and I was able to go in and serve without incident.

Funny how “tolerance” only goes one way. This is America. Freedom of religion, remember? One should not need a Hummer with a cow-catcher on the front, just to clear a path to church.

BestFriend also had a link on her blog to a National Review article that said if the anti-LDS, anti-Prop8 ad that was broadcast shortly before the election, had been shown with two actors portraying Jews or Muslims acting disgracefully, there would have been a hue and cry not to be believed. Can I get an “amen”?

OK, I’ll step down from my soapbox. I would show you some delicious sockly progress, but I need to recharge the batteries in my camera first. So I am taking my cranky, ignorant religious self back to my boudoir to knit for awhile, and then I will sort through another box or three of books and maybe do a little weeding of my CD collection while I’m at it.

Today’s agenda includes lots of knitting, a trip to the Nail Dude’s, the Nativity display in my old stake [I just love to congregate with other cranky, ignorant religious types to celebrate one of the two most important events in earthly history], and some quality time with Middlest. Maybe a nap, though I got an unheard-of eight hours of sleep last night and am nearly drunken with rest.

Happy Saint Nicholas’ Day, everybody. It is also the birthday of the children’s father; holy cow, how did he get to be 68 when I am still lithe and in my 20’s? [Firstborn is now wiping a mouthful of milk off her keyboard; you will recall that she turned 30 this summer...]

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday, Woohoo!

Lark’s Christmas gift is finished; likewise Willow’s. Two small projects that made me smile, created from the remnants of their birthday gifts.

Today is payday. Checks are written, envelopes stamped. I’m driving in to work and will post the bills when I pick up the early mail this morning.

Although there is a dance tonight, I am opting for an evening of service in the temple. I’ve been thanking Heaven steadily, daily, for the past two weeks, for all that I have been able to accomplish. I want to thank my Father again, in the place where it is easiest to feel His love and direction.

Middlest has a job interview today, and we are getting together tomorrow for some knitting. I’m excited for her; it would be a great place for her to work! And I’m excited for us, since I missed out on Knit Night earlier this week.

I have completed the first heel gusset increases on the Wollmeise sock. Life is very sweet, very good, and I am officially out the door as soon as I hit “publish”.

Could use your prayers today. Nothing serious; I got about two and a half hours of sleep last night, so it will be a Cherry Coke day. There may be pictures of me on the blog tomorrow, with my nose pressed firmly into my keyboard at work...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bright Threads and Comfort Food

My friend Alison posted recently about running into an old friend whom Heaven had put into her life during a difficult time when she was young. I commented,

My sister gave me a birthday card, years ago, about life being like a quilt, that there were bright patches and dark patches but when you stepped back and looked at it, it was a masterpiece.

True, though I think it is more like a tapestry, and that we weave bright threads into one another’s lives.

That card is one small casualty of numerous moves. [If I am not the Queen of New Beginnings, I am ~ at the very least ~ the Duchess of Do-Overs.] If I still had that card, I would frame it.

I tried the creamy corn crockpot risotto over the weekend. Thought I had found a work-around in a bottle of sparkling grape juice, only to find that I could not pry off the top when it came time to add it to the rice sautéing in the pan. So it will go to the kids for New Years. Their hands are younger and stronger than mine.

Would some clever inventor or importer please help me find a nice assortment of wine-quality juices that have not been fermented? I had a friend who served his mission in Germany, and he said there were many wonderful varieties available there. I like the complexity that wine brings to a dish; I also want to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy. [And I would prefer screw-top lids.]

I put in a sploosh of black truffle oil instead, and it was tasty, but of course much earthier than the recipe as written. I also substituted frozen corn for fresh. Call me a Philistine if you will, but the charms of corn cut off the cob are wasted on me; that, and it’s long past the season for fresh corn.

I nuked the corn, ever so slightly, when there were still ice crystals in the bag after it had been out of the freezer for an hour, and only used half as much as the recipe called for; this is risotto, after all, not cornsotto. Plus I was using the small crockpot, not my feed-the-tribe one.

I didn’t have fresh Parmesan, so I substituted Asiago. Again, smokier and richer than what was called for, and probably half again as much as the recipe required. I don’t keep cayenne around, so I substituted sweet Hungarian paprika, which has an actual flavor, unlike the stuff I grew up with, which is merely pretty on top of deviled eggs. I did think to take the cream out of the fridge twenty minutes before I was supposed to add it.

This is the original recipe. And here are my observations. I am not enthusiastic about rice made in the crockpot; it seems to lose integrity. I did not quite end up with rice mush. So nice try, but next time I will slave over the stove and end up with individual grains of rice and a silkier result. I do like the way these ingredients play together, and I think I will be more brave about tossing additions into my risottos from here on out. And I might actually use a bit less cheese. I know, I know; that is the blackest heresy in this family!

I have finally bitten the bullet and added The Panopticon to my Bloglines. He has won me over with Dolores, a sheeply version of Mae West, and her pet ball of sock yarn, Harry. Dolores recently campaigned as the Fibertarian Party’s candidate for President. Dolores occasionally needs to have her mouth rinsed out with sheepdip. Or Tabasco. [No, she’d probably like that.]

If you’re looking for budget-friendly Christmas ideas, here’s a link.

Yesterday was one of those days when I was ready to gnaw off a foot to make my escape. I kept running out of things to do, or the supplies to do the tasks at hand. I scanned all the fax confirmations while I was relieving switchboard at lunch. But another great ride home on the train.

I came home and made my version of a tuna melt, grating a nice bit of Asiago into the tuna jollop and toasting the sandwich in a dab of real butter in my cast-iron skillet. I have enough filling for lunch today, but I’ll have to toast the bread in the toaster at work and then make the sandwich and nuke it in the microwave. Won’t be quite as tasty as last night’s dinner but probably a good deal healthier.

Poinsettias by the elevators on my floor at work.