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25 posts from June 2006

30 June 2006

Let's talk to the animals

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A good time was had by all.  We fed crackers to the giraffes (like Rye-Krisp, except for animals!) and had ice cream ourselves -- and a carousel ride!  I have color in my face!!

The giraffe pair we saw yesterday are very young (more) and not nearly as large as those pictured yesterday -- just as fascinating, though.  That 18-inch, black tongue is something else!  It was very cool to be so up close and personal!

Everyone came over and we grilled turkey burgers (WW recipe) and zucchini last night and had strawberry pie (WW recipe) with fresh berries and it just couldn't have been a better day.  Just what I needed.

BTW, the moronic mantra running rampant through Long Island WW meetings appears to work by osmosis, since I lost a solid 2 pounds last week, bringing my total to just over 7.  You know what?  I can tell.  Even that relatively small amount has made a difference.  Just a few more and I will not have to be quite so choosy every morning, standing in the doorway of my closet, wondering about which pants I should wear (stretchy, elastic, drawstring... what kind of day is it today?).  OMG, one of the things I found in my cleaning/purging/organizing the other day is my original WW Lifetime Membership card -- I even still had the last few meeting card thingies from way back when (I tossed 'em, thank you very much).

; )  After today, I have four days off.  There will be more cleaning/purging/organizing.  I'm on a roll now!  I'll have some fun, too -- and as Bob is my witness, there will be knitting!

29 June 2006

Meet me at the zoo

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Giraffes are my favorite animal, but apparently it didn't start out that way.  Mom & me, ca. 1960, possibly Denver.  Today, it's the NEW Zoo -- Mom & me, Mack & his mom.  ; )  We'll see lions and tigers otters and bears, too.  Oh, my!

Guess what?  I have knitting news!!!  I have chosen the colors for Maddy's ROBOT!

And...  I did not make any long-distance calls last night.  I did, however, receive one!  ; )  I was very, very busy... sorting, tossing... first one box... then another.  One by one.  It's so nice (I think) to know that I'm not the only one sometimes overwhelmed by the stuff and your emails and comments (still some trouble with those) are so nice (even if I totally suck at replying).  I was visiting in Katie's room last night (she's painting and rearranging -- it's so cute!) and she happened to have my blog up on her computer screen... she said that I've been frustrated a lot this year.  I guess I have... is it really showing that much?  It's been a weird year, I'll say that (again), but I do think I'll survive.  ; )  A trip to the zoo will help, I'm sure.

28 June 2006

"Your case is a bit unusual...

...and we're working on it," according to my second Typepad help ticket email notification (which I am receiving, loud and clear).  Unusual because I'm receiving some (7 of the 11 to date on the last post) but not all (2 of the 10 on the previous post).  Yeah.  I'm not the only one and it doesn't appear to be related to Yahoo so much.  We'll see. I have no gripes with Typepad's help ticket system -- I've only needed to use it a few times and it's been great.  It's a good way to practice patience.  I need to practice patience these days.  I'm trying Victoria's suggestion to turn off notification and then turn it back on.  La, lala, lala.

Dsc07523Let's see, I'll call this picture Iris Seeds and Scamp.  I guess I usually snap off the spent iris flowers before they get this far, so I am kind of amazed.  This is way in the back and I just haven't been down there as much this year... actually, since I quit smoking.  I used to go down here numerous times a day and then often get caught up in the weed-pulling and dead-heading and tidying, etc.  Now, the bleeding heart and bloodroot have obliterated the garden path; thankfully, I prepped really well when this was first planted, so the weeds aren't a huge problem.  They're a huge problem in the front garden, which I see on a daily basis and still manage to ignore, but that's another story.

I don't know what's wrong with me.  Well, yes I do... there are a lot of things going on in my life and in the lives of people around me -- some close, some far.  There have been big, huge, monumental changes in the dynamic of some of the people in my life and a lot of frustration dealing with people problems.  And the kids are changing gears again -- Katie has applied, last-minute, for fall semester rather than spring because, surprisingly, she can't stand her new job/mostly new boss (who is a friend of a friend and, yeah, so, ICK) and she hates it so much that she is looking for a new job and had a promising interview (actually two) yesterday and, well, let's just cross our fingers for her.  It's no fun when your daughter cries because she's so unhappy with a stupid part-time job.  And Alison!  She, too, has applied for fall semester -- at a different yet still nearby school, and is actually thinking about living in a dorm.  I'm happy and all that, but not quite sure what's brought about the sudden change.

I really am overwhelmed, too, by all the stuff that's been displaced and the task of sorting, organizing, tossing... dealing.  DH moved a few things to the queue yesterday and it just about put me over the edge.  I am angry with myself for letting it get this bad.  No... I'm more angry for not paying attention.  Maybe my house is too big.  The days are too short.  Really.  I need to practice patience here, too, and realize that it didn't all pile up in a day, so it's going to take some time to deal with it.  Eventually it will be over.  The kids will find their way -- I know they will.  I'll be happy, they'll be happy.  I will knit again.  Deep breaths.  Small bites, don't worry about the big picture.  You can only do what you can do.

I went through one of two old boxes of cards and letters last night (from back in the olden days, before email), a few pictures, report cards (mine) -- wow, Grandpa really sent me a lot of postcards! -- I mostly sorted, but did toss some stuff.  Maybe the other box tonight... while I talk long-distance for cheap on my new cable phone!

Tomorrow, I'm goin' to the zoo with my favorite one-year-old nephew.  I'm gonna show him the giraffes.

26 June 2006

Is it me?

I see that there are a few comments to my earlier post... not that I'd have known without actually looking at the post, though, because I haven't received notification of a single one!  Has anyone else been having a problem with comments/email notification of comments?  It started late last week, actually, but I'd get a few..  I don't know if it's a Typepad problem or Yahoo -- and I hate to go barking up the wrong tree, you know?  Anyone???

New digs

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Above:  Sunday morning; DH is finishing off the screwing.  Um, yeah, that would be the keyboard tray of the computer desk that had a whole bunch of screws.  I'd already done my part.  ; )  (Forgive the mismatched orientation of the pictures, please.)

Below:  Sunday afternoon.  It's cozy and it took some doing -- that desk is 72" on each side and (to me) it doesn't look all that huge until you actually try to put it someplace!  There is barely an inch to spare anywhere.  A special shelf had to be made for the printer and new arrangements for all the laundry supplies (the washer is at my right hip, you can see the top of the Tide).  We all agree that it looks very office-like, and mostly due to the new ($16.00 at Home Depot, indoor/outdoor -- the better on which to roll a chair -- and easily cut-to-size) blue rug.  I have since filled up much more of the shelving.  ; )

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Dsc07529It's also a room with a view.  No doubt I'll be sharing shots out this window in the future.

This has provided a tiny little peek into what it would be like to move.  OH MY GOD WE I WE I WE HAVE A LOT OF CRAP.  I have to get organized and I have to get rid of some stuff.  Yesterday, I printed out rummage sale labels for all of us!  The big event at my sister's is little more than a month away.

PURGE!

Glad y'all got a kick out of my Central Park knitting.  That's pretty much all the knitting I actually did over the weekend, too!  So much vying for my time these days.  I think about it all the time, though, 'cuz there's certainly one or two extra balls of yarn around here.

24 June 2006

Saturday update

Dsc07541Ask and you shall receive.

Saturday20skyHad I taken a picture earlier today, say, when I was knitting in Central Park, it would have been cloudy gray -- fairly bright, but still gray, with a distinct feeling that rain might not be far off.  We did have a little sprinkle in the late morning -- barely enough to wet the walkway outside the back door -- and then it got mostly blue and the sun came out.  When I went out to take my Saturday Sky picture, though, I was quite surprised.  I thought, "Northern Lights?  But it's daytime... and this is south...  Oh!  It might be a rainbow-ish thing.  Ooooo, pretty!"  Isn't it?  Like a cloudy, wispy rainbow!

Meanwhile...

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Dsc07536On the way home from the farmer's market this morning (fresh sugar snap peas, fresh spinach, fresh strawberries), I stopped by Central Park for some knitting.

Damned rain.  Looks like Central Park is not the spot today, though, but miraculously, Cara and Ann and all the kntters and spinners in the NYC area have found another (drier) place to meet!  Have fun, y'all!  I can't wait to hear all about it!!

23 June 2006

Summer days

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Last Sunday, after the Father's Day festivities at my brother's, my sister and I stopped at Grandma's old house.  I had taken pictures there last year, but lost them in a computer malfunction.  The house was built in the 1860s and is to die for...

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That curvy part makes me plotz.  It's just as beautiful on the inside, too.  That's where the library table always was, flanked by two oak barrister bookcases that belonged to Grandma's dad.  Grandpa kept a tin the library table drawer where he'd put all his winnings from bowling.  I don't know exactly how the winnings were acquired, and I never cared, I just wanted to sort and count and roll up all that change every time we visited!  I'd usually get a quarter or half-dollar for my trouble.

Dsc07495The house is for sale and has been for a year; as with many historical homes, it requires mucho upgrades (how about just a little bit of insulation, hm?) and mega upkeep, and it's in a sleepy bedroom community.  Oh, but that porch... it's not that crooked in real life.  ; )

Oh, these summer days!  I don't understand why, on the longest days of the year, I keep running short of time -- WAY short!  I did manage to clear quite a bit of the crap from the doomed built-in and I took some before pictures for y'all, too!  Katie got me out for a walk, and then I worked a little bit more before totally crapping out.  We're talking in bed before 10:00 -- and not for the first time this week!

I have concluded that my recent, amazing burst of energy is related to my new menstrual cycle, which seems to be one period for every two months, and which I don't really mind so much, I guess, a gradual fade...  Back in the old days, I'd get a head of steam like this the week before and then totally swing the other way -- not a single drop of energy for anything (probably iron deficient) -- this is different.

So, all this to say that I went bed early.  ; )  Tonight, hubby and I are going to see A Prairie Home Companion -- honestly, even if Meryl & Lily weren't playing Yolanda & Rhonda (from Oshkosh, no less), we'd have to see it!  Tomorrow, deconstruction begins and I hope we get the move on!

UPDATE:  Dammit, I forgot...  please pray for NO RAIN on CARA's SPIN PARADE tomorrow!  Good luck, sweetheart, you guys will have fun NO MATTER WHAT, I just know it.

22 June 2006

Heeby-jeebies

Maddy & DH returned yesterday after being away for nearly three weeks.  It's nice to have them back!  Maddy has already made connections with bunches of friends and made plans, practically to-the-minute, through the weekend!  Phone usage will pick up again, no doubt; good thing I'm having cable phone installed next week!

It was only the last few days that tasks were presented at home for which I was unqualified and/or uninterested and/or the ick-factor was too great and so I jotted them down on a list for DH to attend.

  1. Relocate leaf with spider and eggs (ick).
  2. Replace plug on vacuum cleaner cord since it doesn't work with only one prong (unqualified, though I could learn).
  3. Salt for the water softener (uninterested, except for resulting soft water).

Dsc07518Dsc07517Here is DH, performing Task #1, and a parting shot of the little big enormous mama guarding her offspring-to-be -- we'll all be much happier now that they're in their new home, far away from mine.  The plug was purchased at the hardware store last evening, which was located right next to the grocery store where the softener salt was purchased along with ground turkey for some of the most savory turkey burgers I've had in a long time -- and it was a WW recipe!

Having basically come to a stand-off with the built-ins, the huge filing cabinet (which I dragged, pushed and pulled to and fro the other day), and the appliances that cannot be moved in the laundry/computer room, I had a consultation with DH in regards to that project.  In response to my lamentations of the limitations due to built-ins (they're great and all and I know they add value and blahblahblah, but...), he said, "Why don't we take it out?"  Since he was the guy who built them in all those years ago (19, to be exact), I didn't think he'd be all the anxious to un-build them.  They've served their purpose, he said, and now we don't really need them anymore.  What's not to love?  We'll be able to leave some shelving; I'll have to do a little painting; maybe we can even get some carpet or a rug; and best of all, we'll be able to use the big, honkin' computer desk (sans one upper shelf) that I'd otherwise have to somehow get rid of -- and I'll have the MOST marvelous view of my lower garden whilst computing, and I'll hardly even need to turn my head... I'll need only glance.  ; )  So, three little jobs and an impromptu remodeling project -- Welcome Home, Honey!  ; )

As the kids said:  It just wouldn't seem like home if there wasn't some kind of remodeling thing either in the works or under consideration.

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I spent Father's Day at my brother's house; my mom and dad were there, and one of my sisters.  These blanket pictures are actually from my last vist -- doesn't he look stronger?  He had a neuro check-up yesterday and he's doing well -- as expected.  There are at least two more docs to visit in the next week or so and he continues with physical therapy for his shoulder.  Progressing... blue sky with a few lingering clouds, dissipating some, but no storms on the horizon.  ; )

21 June 2006

Yoohoo... Yahoo...

Is Yahoo messed up today?  I can't access email or nothin'!

You guessed it, no knitting today.  No gardening, either.  I'm still cleaning and organizing and trying to arrange -- too many big pieces in too small a room with few options.  You know, built-ins look great but they are BUILT IN and won't budge.  Argh.  I'm having problems with visualization, too, I guess.  Last night, I moved a loaded, gigantic four-drawer file cabinet -- one of those horizontal kind -- with all the stuff still on top of it -- across the room and then back because it didn't work out.  Then I walked the dog, took out the trash, and the recycling, and then it was time to get Katie, and since she works at a grocery store, I picked up a few things, and then I watched 15 minutes of TV, and it was time for bed.  The good news:  Down 2.8, for a total loss of 5.2, which I saw before at Week 4 and it's now Week 13, but whatever.  Yay, the waistband on these pants feels a littel better today!

Dsc07512Dsc07513I had a picture of my grandpa holding Maddy the other day -- this is my other grandpa (maternal) holding me.  I was in first grade (see picture at right) when he died at age 58, so he didn't even hold some of his own grandchildren, never mind great-grandchildren.  My paternal grandpa died only a few years ago, so made acquaintance with all of the great grandkids so far except for Mack.

This grandpa used to eat his Cheerios with honey instead of sugar and I think of him and his favorite breakfast every time I get a whiff of honey.  He also had a toaster that shot the toast straight into the air -- and he was pretty good at catching it right on the plate.  He was really, really nice.

Grandma didn't mind my playing with her strawberry-blonde hair and she kept her bobby pins in the bathroom in a covered glass dish that was shaped like a duck.  It turns out that the duck originally held bubble bath and was a Mother's Day gift from my mom. I came across one in a box lot at an auction several years ago, which, of course, became mine, and it now holds bobby pins (which I never, ever use, but that's what this dish is for) on a shelf in my bathroom.  My mom eventually found one for herself, too, and hers even has the small metal scoop tied 'round the neck with ribbon (which, of course, she washed and pressed because her mother is the one with the cleaning of the attic rafters and some of that stuff just rubs off).

Did you see:  Justin's Blanket?  Cynthia's still collecting squares -- of any color -- the goal is 20 blankets.  Sweet.

20 June 2006

Flora and fauna

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If I didn't blog, I wouldn't have much of a reason to take a picture of my first tomato-on-the-vine in years!  Katie spotted it and my first reaction was to grab the camera.  Duncan was taking a catnap on the glider right beside me -- he was so soundly asleep and so still, that I didn't even notice him at first.  He's still such a delightful kitty.

The knitting will return one of these days.  I have been doing some, but it's mindless or stealthy and not much to blog about -- not like big spiders, little tomatoes, cute cats and wonderful kids!  The spider is still there, by the way, I check everyday; DH returns home tomorrow after a nearly three-week absence and transporting that little bugger and all her offspring may be Job #1 for him.  Welcome home, honey.

I have been cleaning and organizing, and cleaning and organizing, and cleaning and organizing.  I've also been dealing with what I can only describe as a cosmic shift in my life -- making the cleaning and organizing even more productive!  I have decided that this is the Year of Cosmic Shift for my family -- first, the miracle that is my brother and, now, events that are right up there with hell freezing over and pigs flying.  It's all good, I think, but takes some getting used to -- when everything you've known to be true for 35 years is suddenly different.  Sorry to be vague, I'm still cleaning and organizing...

19 June 2006

M is for...

Madeleine.

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The youngest of my three girls and the last one alphabetically.  Her great grandpa was one of the first to coax a smile from her -- he always had a way with the babies!  I always joke that the Pan statue in the back garden is my only son -- he always played nice with Maddy, though didn't want to share the pipes so much.  Once, Maddy and one of the neighbor boys pulled off those plastic "pipes" and tossed them in the ravine, never to be found.  DH fashioned some gorgeous copper pipes to replace them and they're prettier than the originals -- sometimes the kids' shenanigans results in good.  ; )  She's getting measured at the door frame, just before it was removed for a kitchen expansion; and outfitted in Lion King gear for her first day of preschool.  I swear, we kept the Disney store in business for years -- she's wearing a Belle shirt (possibly an Ali hand-me-down) in BOTH of the bottom left photos -- it was right after my kids' fashion sensibilities changed with adolescence that the store at our mall closed.  I swear.  The final photo is one she recently took of herself.

You'll notice that my first two girls have undeniably red hair and that Maddy's is decidedly different.  It's exactly as mine was, actually... nearly pure white as a toddler after starting out quite dark (though Mom really can't remember whether mine was dark at first), getting a little darker each winter as she got older, but lightening up again in the sun every summer.  Mom used to squeeze lemon juice into my hair to keep it light; I remember an egg treatment, mayonnaise, and beer over the years, too, all for different reasons, I'm sure.  Anyway, Maddy has been experimenting with color in her hair for the past year or two and she's currently brunette.  I've always been okay with that... I'd rather they experiment with hair dye -- and they often show some originality, doing more than just applying it whole-head -- than drugs or other stuff.  Dye on, darlin'.

17 June 2006

The not-so-itsy-bitsy spider in my garden

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Dsc07467I can't really explain why she's smiling so big -- I think we were both a little delirious over this spider -- this spider and the million billion trillion little ones that must be in that humongous egg sac.  OMG!  O!M!GEeeeewwwwwww.

We both took a bunch of pictures.  ; )  At one point, I was squatting right behind her and a leaf from a too-tall plant (okay, a weed) brushed the inside of my thigh and I jumped and she jumped and we were laughing and yelling and shaking in our Birkies and she was very glad that she didn't fall INTO the spider.

I don't know if this is a brown recluse or not -- we seem to be a little north of its normal area and, from what I've read (yeah, you really want to be googling "recluse spider" and looking at all THOSE pictures before bed...), it's very often confused with other spiders.  That just didn't seem to be the kind of information to put me at ease, you know... that there are THAT many spiders BIG enough and UGLY enough and SCARY enough to be easily mistaken for each other.

This is on one of my gigantic Blue Angel hostas that flank the front walkway.  Yeah, the mailman and everyone walk right down this walk everyday.  I'm not sure what, if anything, to do.  I don't want all those baby spiders around my house -- or IN my house -- sure, they're cute when they're little, but look at what happens when they GROW UP!!

16 June 2006

Me me mememe

First done at Cara's yesterday, and Margene's this morning, and spied at Victoria's and elsewhere, too...

Please leave a one-word comment that you think best describes me — it can only be one word long.  Then copy and paste this into your blog so that I may leave a word about you.

* * * * *

Also from Victoria5 Things I Like About Myself:

  1. I am there for you.
  2. I laugh a lot.
  3. I like to make people laugh.
  4. I'm a good mom (and wife and sister and aunt and daughter and maybe someday grandma).
  5. I have fun.

* * * * *

4 Things Meme
Tagged by Robyn!  This is similar to a meme I've done before... but different.

4 Jobs I've Held

  1. Receptionist
  2. Typesetter
  3. Proofreader
  4. Substitute Teacher's Aide

4 Movies I Never Get Tired of Watching

  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. Oklahoma!
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird
  4. The Sound of Music

4 Places I've Lived

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Oregon
  3. Ontario
  4. Ohio

4 TV Shows I Like

  1. Boston Legal
  2. M*A*S*H
  3. CSI (x3)
  4. Law & Order (x3... or is it 4?)

4 Places I've Vacationed

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Oregon
  3. New York
  4. California

4 Websites I Visit Often

  1. Bloglines
  2. Typepad
  3. My credit union
  4. Local news & weather

4 Special Treats for Me!

  1. A massage
  2. A home-alone day
  3. An afternoon watching movies and knitting
  4. A pedicure

1 Place I'd Rather Be Right Now

  1. Home

15 June 2006

Rockin' down the highway

Dsc07361I got to ride shotgun with Oddfellow on Saturday morning's drive to Madison.  Isn't he an adorable driving companion?  He appreciates the knitting, too.  I can tell.  It was like Old Home Week -- Wool rubbing elbows with Cousin Cotton.  Another Mason-Dixon dishrag, finished off, fittingly, in my sister's kitchen.  All the dishrags were dispersed and I fought off the compulsion to photograph the first of them actually being used -- wet and wrung out in the sink -- believe me, it was hard.  I was bursting at the seams with pride, having created something both delightful and useful, and that matched the kitchen so well!

Notice that handy yarn holder that comes standard in the Beetle?

Dsc07357_1Dsc07356_1Remember these photos of Katie from the recent "K" installment of the ABC-Along?  I looked like the one on the left yesterday, while Katie was a lot more like the one on the right.  I was supposed to clean out -- or at least start cleaning out -- the laundry room.  Our main computer area has been in Katie's room for the past year or so, while she was an on-again/off-again/permanent-yet-part-time resident at home.  Now she's going to be here for a while and she wants her room back -- and that's fine, but the computer area needs a new home.

The laundry room was the first room in our house to get our attention -- 19 years ago.  A few months passed between the time we bought the house and actually moved in, during which time the previous owners rented and as renters, apparently, they didn't care what their dog did while barricaded in the laundry room all day, everyday.  We had no choice but to immediately rip out the urine-soaked carpet and subfloor and replace it -- and as long as we were doing that, we built in a windowseat/bookshelf/storage thing, hung some upper cabinets over the appliances, and wallpapered with material that had been left behind.  The main purpose of the laundry room has never waivered, of course, but it's a fairly large room and so was also a "craft room" for a while (complete with comfy, upholstered chair), genealogy central, and computer area, but the secondary purpose has been a long, steady descent into "storage."  It's not the neat, organized kind of storage, either; for the most part, it's the "I don't know what to do with this," holding area type of storage, but I never get back to it.

Overwhelming.  To say the least.

I was pretty much looking like that photo on the left, "Lalalalalalalalalala," when Katie came home from work at 2:00 and gave me "the look."  Then she offered to help and took charge a little bit, making me look at all the little jobs rather than The BIG Picture, which was obviously not working for me.  She's quite the task-master!!

We took a break to run to the store for salmon to accompany the artichokes that we were going to have for supper, but we were starving and realized, upon our return, that we had NO energy for moving all the stuff in the kitchen staging/sorting area that had previously been in the laundry room -- and then prepping and cooking -- so we went out!  Salmon and artichokes tonight! Recharged, we worked 'til almost 9:00!  I have a big box of stuff to give away or sell, a big box of stuff to keep (sort through and find a place for -- or change my mind and put it in that other box), and a big bag that went out to the trash and another for paper recycling.  There's a lot more to do, some rearranging and figuring out furnishings, but it's a HUGE start.  There's even a bit of an echo in the room.  ; )

Happy Birthday to my twin sisters today!  Same as last year, just another year older.  ; )

14 June 2006

L is for...

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Dsc07251Laundry (on the line).

One of my favorite things is to pull from the closet, in November or December or January or February, a set of sheets -- or a nightgown -- that's been dried on the line.  You can still smell it!  The freshness, the sunshine, the blue skies and puffy clouds and grass and flowers and bugs and SUMMER.

Working long days as I do, I don't hang laundry on the line quite as much as I used to, or as I'd like -- sometimes the weather and my day off do not cooperate for such activity.  Sometimes I don't get started 'til late.  I do it when I can, though.  I could never live in a neighborhood that had a covenant prohibiting clotheslines.

I often think of something Mom always told me about her mother...  that Grandma was always the last one in the neighborhood to get her laundry on the line each day, but it was always the whitest!  (This is the grandma who included scrubbing down of rafters in the attic as a normal part of her spring cleaning routine.  Yeah.  I doubt she would approve of the "Tsk, Tsk" that one of my lovely daughters scrawled into the dust on the vanity in my bedroom... a couple of weeks ago... it's still there.  If you look back, you'll see that D was Definitely not for Dusting.)

13 June 2006

One

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Alison had the honor of baking Mack's first birthday cake -- a Martha Stewart lemon confection.  In the fashion of "too many cooks," it was deemed that the recipe should be doubled in order to end up with the desired double-layer cake, so the recipe was doubled... and we ended up with a triple-layer cake and an extra 9x13 (which was excellent for taste-testing and also for dunking in the failed icing of which you will read about below, but not so good for you-know-who who has WW tonight) (not to mention the accompanying full sheet cake for big brother's simultaneous high school graduation party) (oh, my thighs)!  The first attempt at "frosting" with icing was not good -- it was thin.  What it did do was prime the exterior of the 3-layer cake and infuse it real good with extra sugar.  The words "frosting mix" were bandied about (mostly by the disgruntled and disheartened baker) on the walk to the store for more powdered sugar, but Mack's first cake -- a Martha Stewart cake, no less -- could not have frosting from a box or a can.  It was yummy!!

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Mack1 Mack9

I can hardly believe it's been a year.

09 June 2006

I can picot, too-torial

I don't usually get too technical around here.  I answer questions when asked, I even draw pictures and diagrams and used colored pens and try to help people out.  If I can't describe it or draw it, then I try to find a better source for whatever and tell you about it.  Well, hold onto your handknit hat because here we go with me trying something technical -- I even created a new category for "technique," though this may be the only post thus categorized in a while... or ever.  ; )

I can picot and you can, too!

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To begin, of course, cast on and knit as directed.  In this case (and as I've done for all almost-9 socks I've knit), I cast on over two needles.  I distributed the stitches on the DPNs and knit 5 rows, did the YO row (the row that will make the pretty picot edge when folded over), then knit 5 more rows.  The directions started right off knitting in pattern from this point and sewing down the cast on edge after the toe was kitchenered.  I knew that a nice, finished picot edge would be motivation to knit the sock, and something to admire along the way!  I don't know about you, but I like to admire my knitting along the way.  Knowing that there was an edge to sew down after the toe was kitchenered?  Not something I'd really be looking forward to.

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There were fairly large, visible loops on the cast-on edge due to the double needles.  I threaded a needle with a bit of contrasting yarn and ran it through the loops along the cast-on edge -- the number of loops should be the same as the number of total stitches.

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Each loop was knit together with a stitch on the needle to neatly fold down the edge while knitting the next row, removing the contrasting yarn as each loop was knit.  The goal is to knit the stitch on the needle and the cast on loop from the same vertical row so there is no twist or bias to the finished edge.  This tedious business continues all the way around 'til every loop has been knit with its mate.

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Voila!  A pretty picot edge that you can admire to your heart's content all the way to the toe!

I can picot, you can picot, let's all picot!!

Disclaimer.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I can blahblahblah with the best.  I've tried to keep it short and sweet here, but if there's something that needs clarification or I forgot something, please let me know and I'll try to fix it!  There may be a better way, there is likely a better tutorial; perhaps you'll find something useful here.

Thanks for the nudge to do this, V.; I doubt I'd have done it otherwise.  Sorry it took so long.  ; )

* * * * *

It's another weekend away... south to Madison this time.  I hope to be at the Dane County Farmers' Market, in the area of my sister and her wares (see sidebar at right), in the late morning.  On Sunday, we celebrate Mack's first birthday and the high school graduation of one of his big brothers!

K is for...

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Dsc07355K is for Katie, of course; my eldest.

Top row.  1) One of the first pictures, so peaceful in her daddy's arms.  2) In the other, she's just two and I'm sitting to her right with a newborn Ali in my arms -- I saw that exact same face in an earlier picture when I was rooting through the picture piles, and I was given it in person just last week!

Middle row.  1) Katie's 1-year-old photo, which I paid through the nose to have done professionally after the traveling photographer at JCPenney was a complete asshole to me, so I showed him.  Yeah.  Anyway, this thing covering the ears was Katie's way of dealing with the unknown at that age, a behavior that I would have forgotten if it weren't documented in a couple of photos.  2) "I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair," taken in my mom's kitchen sink during one of our trips to Wisconsin before moving here.

Bottom row.  1) I love the red knee socks Katie's wearing; we're on the sidewalk in front of our house and the yard is still quite wild and untamed behind us!  2) Katie at Stonehenge a few months ago.  At right: a preschool Raggedy Ann.

I love you, sweetheart.

08 June 2006

FYI

Filed under things I should already know.  If someone brings you a steak, egg and cheese bagel from McDonald's and you're on the Weight Watchers points program, it would behoove you to check the points value of said pretty yummy sandwich before taking the last bite instead of after.

OMG.  More than half my daily points inhaled in less than five minutes.  I think it was a point every time I licked a finger!  It'll be rabbit food for the rest of the day for me, and lots of water!!  Good thing I like salad.

I got my hair trimmed and layered yesterday -- the first time I've sat in a professional's chair in quite some time.  It doesn't look all that different, but it sure feels good -- and felt good to have it done.  Ali dropped me off because she had business across the street from the salon and I walked home -- after strolling down to the dime store to pick up a few balls of Sugar & Cream to go with some of my oddball colors.

The fifth dishrag is on the needles -- some of these will be gifts.  My twin sisters have their birthdays a week from today and I'll be seeing them this weekend, so there's two; my other sister is the hostess of the weekend doings, so there's another; mom will be there (and want one), another; and dad, too.  Before you know it, they're gone!  Looks like I'll have to knit some more.  ; )

07 June 2006

Wednesdays are for randomness

--Is it going to rain today or not?  I'd like to hang laundry on the line but the weather's changing every five minutes.  I finally got those three laundry baskets of clean clothes that have been in the way folded or straightened out this morning, though.

--Katie starts her new job today.  She had orientation on Monday and came home nearly ecstatic.  She loves the whole "feel" of the job and her employer -- they're very employee-centered and positive, rather than "don't, don't, no, no, no."  Makes such a difference.  I drove her there, but her bike was in the back and she's biking home if the weather cooperates.  Eventually, she'd like to bike both ways -- seven miles one-way.

Dsc07329_1--When we went up north last year, we'd frequented a consignment shop in a nearby town a couple of times -- Red Barn Farm had fiber in the shop and I bought a few things for myself, a secret pal, and Katie.  We sadly discovered last weekend that the shop is no longer in business.  A charitable thrift store caught our eye, though, and I found a carafe to replace the one that Dad had broken (turned out it was just a hair too tall -- why do they have to make 14,000 different styles of freakin' coffee pot carafes?).  I moseyed over to the book area, you know, always on the lookout for the copy of Aran Knitting that I know will fall into my lap someday, and I spotted an Interweave Crochet magazine in a rack.  I thought, hopefully, "Wow, this is pretty classy."  I rifled through the mags around it and there were some other, mostly ickier crochet publications and I moved down the rack where I found a motherlode of Interweave Knits back issues -- from Fall '97 to almost present.  Someone keeps those magazines very well organized!  They were not subscription copies, and all were in very good condition.  I made a pile of all the ones I don't have, wondering how much they'd be -- we'd never been to this shop before and, if you thrift at all, you know that there are thrifty thrift stores and not-so-thrifty thrift stores.  I was fully prepared to pay 50 cents a piece for these, even a dollar, perhaps even a certain percentage of the cover price...  I could barely contain my glee when she said fifteen cents each.  While I did not find my copy of Aran Knitting, I take it as a good omen that the earliest back issue, that Fall of '97 one, has a cover story on Alice Starmore and "the book."

--I have yet to find the perfect "K" picture!

--Michael passed his road test!  He never actually had his license taken away, but he'd have been in big trouble if he'd been driving and involved in an accident without having been re-tested after the head trauma.  He's still uncertain about when he might go back to work.  To look at him, he looks fine, but things still aren't right inside.  He said that he changed the oil in his truck the other day and got the job done, but almost couldn't get up off the floor!

--There are flowers on my tomato plants.  ; )

--I was down another 1.4 at WW last night.  Katie has had me walking a couple of times in the last week, a couple of miles each time, plus I had a nice walk in the woods last weekend. Woo.

--I did not knit a single stitch yesterday!  Very unusual.

--Did you see Gretchen's comment yesterday?  My sister told me about her...  Sharon sells her wares every week at Madison's Farmer's Market.  Gretchen had seen Sharon's stuff on my blog and then found her at the market!  Oh, this blog works in mysterious ways...

--And Cathy told me about The Big House, which I've already placed on hold through my online library connection.  Man, I love the internet...

06 June 2006

Musing on weekends in June

It was a last-minute decision to head north last weekend -- Wednesday or Thursday night when I shot off an email to check with Dad (our host) and make sure he didn't have other plans.  There are relatively few things clogging up my calendar this summer -- not like some years when it's practically all booked by March (I hate that kind of summer) -- and I'm employing a "take it as it comes" approach.

We left on Friday night and Kate & Al drove the whole way except for the half-mile between gas station and discount store in Wausau where we stopped for a few supplies.  As long as there was light, I knit on my sock in the car.  The girls had control of the audio system and we listened to their CDs until the very last part of the trip.  When we finally switched on the radio, about 15 minutes from our destination, it was 11:00 p.m. and I heard the unmistakable beginning to a national network news update...

297I have been going up to the cottage at least once a summer for my whole life.  My grandparents were one of three families -- siblings -- who owned a big log cabin -- four bedrooms plus a big loft at each end, large kitchen/dining/living area, enclosed porch with a huge swing, also a boathouse on the island across the bridge, outhouse, tool shed, and "the hoodlum" -- that my great grandpa had built in the '30s; each of the three had a whole month of summer to spend there themselves or divvy up amongst or share with their kids.  My grandparents' month was June and, in my memory, they always spent the whole whole month, 1st through the 30th, at the cottage.  One time Great Uncle Gordy showed up on June 30th to get a head start on his month of July and that didn't go over real well with my grandpa -- early fireworks that year.  Great Gramps had actually left the cabin to all six of his kids, but three of them, arguably the ones with the most sense, immediately sold out to the other three.  The remaining owners never put any more into the place than was absolutely necessary, so the plumbing was never upgraded beyond the original outhouse and outdoor pump, except for a cold-water line to the sink in the last couple of years.  It had always been the job of whatever kids were around to keep the two water pails filled -- pumps are never located right outside the door and this one was no exception, located a little downhill, even, and it couldn't have been farther from the kitchen.  In fact, the three owners could rarely agree on exactly what constituted "absolutely necessary" maintenance, so the place was in need of a major repairs and renovation when they finally sold it after some 40 years -- so much work needed to be done that no one in the following generations would touch it with a 10-foot pole.  An uncle bought a different (and smaller) cabin a couple of doors down -- there were about a half-dozen places that were built and owned by various ragtag relations and this was one of those -- and my dad bought some nearby land and eventually built a small place of his own.

287When I was a little kid, Dad had a small plane and we sometimes flew into a nearby "airport" -- which, depending on where we were flying into and the time of day, might actually not have been an airport but was instead the local lumber yard doing double-duty.  Most of the time, though, we drove.  I could usually pull rank, as the eldest, and sit in the front seat between my parents rather than one of four squished into the back seat.  Sometimes I lost the front, but then I'd wrangle for (and usually win) at least a window seat in back.  I remember stopping for gas, sitting by the open window in the back seat, waiting for the attendant to come and pump the gas, wash the windshield, check the oil -- and inhaling deeply -- I loved the smell of gasoline.  I remember my dad's left arm always being much more tanned (or burnt) and freckled than the right because he liked to drive with his arm hanging out the window.  I remember wistfully passing drive-in after drive-in with fluorescent ice cream cone signs -- but I don't remember ever stopping.  We never had anything to drink -- no bottles of Coke or water or Starbucks Double-Shot -- or eat -- no king-size Milky Way or bag of Ruffles -- and I don't remember even stopping to use a bathroom.  My dad's a drive 'til you get there kinda guy now, and I think he always was.

278The minute I heard the jingle leading into the news last Friday night, I was transported.  It was 1968 and I was between mom and dad on the front seat of his white Jeep Wagoneer with the boat being towed behind.  It was a wooden boat, a Thompson, and one year it was suspended in the garage, sanded and repainted.  It was a pretty boat and sometimes I was allowed to drive it.  "The lake" was actually a flowage, though, and boaters needed to be constantly watchful of stumps just below the surface.  I was never allowed to let 'er rip on open water, and I never would have wanted to!  On that day in June, 1968, the news was relentless, constant on the radio -- at every turn of the dial -- with word of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.  I was only 9, but I remember how solemn the mood during that trip.  I don't know if I put it together myself, the relationship between Bobby and his brother, John -- whose assassination just after my fifth birthday I also remember to a degree -- but I'm sure it was put together for me.  I was only a year younger than Caroline Kennedy and that was close enough that I felt sad for her and her little brother that their dad was killed.  I would often look through the book "The Torch Is Passed" that my mom had, and I would look at Rose Kennedy's face and think about how awful it must have been for her -- I think John was the third child she lost? -- and now this?  Bobby?  I was not a newshound by any means, but even I knew that 1968 wasn't going very well, not with Martin Luther King, Jr. have been assassinated a few months earlier.

There was another June, several years later, listening to the chase of O.J. Simpson.  I learned of the death of Princess Di coming home from a trip to the cottage, too, though that was in August (oh! that wasn't our month!).

The pictures are all from the 40s or early 50s, I think.  Picture #1 taken from the island where the boathouse was, to the left (out of the picture) was a group of big marten houses, way over on the right is "the hoodlum" which is now at my uncle's place -- it had wheels and two, built-in, full-size bunks, and was originally hauled around to lumber camps.  Picture #2 is the others side of the cabin -- the shorter lady is my great grandma -- the hoodlum is at far left, the building next to it on the right is the two-seater outhouse.  Picture #3 -- I don't know where they came from, but the Adirondack chairs at the cottage were the most comfortable ever!

05 June 2006

Try to love one another right now...

High School Memories...

Thank god for Ann, who thanked god for Maryse, otherwise I'd have nothing! Well, I would, but I don’t have pictures and it’ll be better with pictures.

Fill in the blanks about your senior year. The longer ago it was the better.

1. Who was your best friend? Patsy.

2. What sports did you play? I don’t think there were any girls’ sports teams – I don’t think there were enough students at my school to HAVE a team.

3. What kind of car did you drive? I didn't get my license until after I graduated.  I did drive a snowmobile to school in the winter, though, and a bike in the summer.  (When I did get my license, several months later, I drove a baby blue 1972 Toyota Corona -- there's one almost just like it in "That 70s Show"!)

4. It's Friday night, where were you at? Very often, my friends drove their Chevy Vans or Barracudas or Mustangs or Chargers to an abandoned pig or chicken farm – chickens, I think – where we’d have a little fire and a lotta licker.  My beverage of choice then was a modified Sloe Screw (sloe gin and o.j.).  In the winter, I think the party was usually at my house!

5. Were you a party animal? See #4!

6. Were you considered a flirt? I probably would have been if there’d been enough of a pool of boys with which to flirt.

7. Ever skip school? Not senior year.

8. Ever smoke? Yes.

9. Were you a nerd?  No way.

10. Did you get suspended/expelled? No.

11. Can you sing the Alma Mater? I don't know if there is one.

12. Who was your favorite teacher? Didn’t have one.

13. Favorite class? English.

14. What was your school's full name? St. Croix High School

15. School mascot? I don’t know – is there one?  Update: I think maybe Eagles.

16. Did you go to Prom? There wasn’t a prom. We did have Homecoming – for basketball season because there wasn’t a football team/season (insurance was too expensive) – and I was actually a contender for queen. Never woulda guessed…

17. If you could go back and do it over, would you? Lord, no.

18. What do you remember most about graduation? The ceremony lasted 45 minutes – practically my whole entire family was there and they were all so happy about that. The music – Jesse Colin Young's “Get Together,” and Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young?) “Teach Your Children.” (We all wanted to be hippies, but were born too late.)  We might have had 'em play "Rhiannon," too.

Dsc0733019. Favorite memory of your senior year? Two. 1) One day, the whole senior class drove in a caravan, 30 miles, to the “professional photographer’s” to have our senior photos taken. 2) Our class trip to Minnesota in early May – we kayaked while it snowed, and rode horses… it must have been the horses’ first time out of the barn that spring because we didn’t even have to kick ‘em to make ‘em go and there was no amount of pulling on the reins that would get ‘em to stop – they stopped when they were good ‘n wore out and it’s lucky no one was decapitated on the “trail ride.”

20. Were you ever posted up on the senior wall? ???

21. Did you have a job your senior year? Yes, I worked for my dad on a weekly shoppers’ guide.

22. Who did you date? I didn’t really date anyone during senior year – I was so new at school – I was just pretty much friends with everyone.

23. Where did you go most often for lunch? I don’t remember lunch.

24. Have you gained weight since then? Yep.

25. What did you do after graduation? Continued to work for my dad for a few months and then moved to Superior and worked as a receptionist for a government agency.

26. When did you graduate? 1976.

02 June 2006

Tap-tap-tap: Blog news you can use

Claudia is this >< close to her goal for the National MS Society Bike Tour, coming up on June 24th -- check it out, there are some great prizes to be won.

There has been some sew-up action for the Warming Grace project!  Check that out, too.  Cynthia reports that pink and blue squares continue to arrive daily, and every single one will eventually find its place in a very special blanket.

We know how special those blankets can be.  ; )

New (to me) blogs I'm enjoying:  Peace & Sereknitty, Knit Me Somethin' Good (and, oh yeah, Robyn says to check out the new MAGKNITS!).

While Claudia sets herself to pedaling her bike, there will be some pedaling of a different kind also commencing...

Spinoutcrazy3_1


Did you find the directing sign on the
Straight and narrow highway
Would you mind a reflecting sign
Just let it shine within your mind
And show you the colors that are real

Someone is waiting just for you
Spinnin' wheel, spinnin' true

lyrics from "Spinning Wheel"
Blood, Sweat & Tears
(D. Clayton-Thomas)


Y'all know my friend Cara, the "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" Girl with the fancy, new, go-fast car, who has wrangled with the red tape department and procured a park permit -- an NYC park permit, no less -- a single permit for a single thing -- the Great American SPIN-IN, Cherry Hill Fountain, Central Park, NYC, June 24th (so don't be selling stuff or bringing your cars or putting your wheel on the grass or drinking booze and/or doing nonprescription drugs or letting your pet run wild and free or playing your boom box too loud or cooking stuff because those things ALL require craploads of other permits)!  Be there or be square, like me... square, maybe, but wearing a fabulous new T-shirt, and you can, too!  I'll definitely be there in spirit.  ; )

Also, if you can, please consider a contribution to Heifer International and then letting Cara know so you can be entered in the Great American Raffle!  All the Spin-Out Prize Patrol details are here.  I'm thinking chicks, myself...  I know that llamas and goats and sheep and rabbits are all much more "knitterly" with their fiber rather than feather coats, but I've been known to cluck a time or two and might have even been called a mother hen once or twice, so I think the chicks are a fine fit.

This weekend, heading north.  I think I might try that Saturday Market Bag from the new MagKnits this weekend... yeah, I'll work on my sock, too... and finish Mack's sweater (birthday next weekend!).  See you on the other side.  And have a great weekend!

01 June 2006

Iris Garden

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Ina sent this "Iris Garden" Lorna's Laces, the yarn that my Individuals won for me, basically, in the ABC-Along "I" Contest.  I thought I'd see how it looked with the other irises in the yard.  (Ina has a spectacular post about irises here.  Oh, I love that nearly-black variety!)

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Then I wondered if I should add irises to the hosta gardens.  Oh, yeah!  Those are my two humongo varieties -- Sum & Substance on the left, Blue Angel on the right (I'm going to have to move the astilbe by those Blue Angels...).

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I also wondered how it might do on the deck... my folding, $5, rummage sale plant stand, or as an accompaniment to the Better Boy tomato.  I'll be doing a happy dance -- I'm sure you won't miss it -- when I sink my teeth into the first tomato I've ever grown!!

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I think it could fit in anywhere!  Thank you again Ina for the great prize and Anne for your wonderful idea.

In other news...  As it turns out, Katie is not going to Maine for the summer.  She gave up the summer art counselor job for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the insane increase just in the cost to get there compared to last fall.  There are some things that are just beyond our control.  She's been working a pretty good-paying part-time temp job and has been looking for an additional job.  In something of a statement, she threw away her old Arby's clothes the other day, so going back there wasn't even an option, much less a temptation... or perhaps that would be a resignation.  She had an interview this afternoon and her experience at Arby's, specifically customer service and food prep, helped her land the job!!  None of us expected that she'd be offered the job on-the-spot, and at better pay that the temp job, too!  She'll be working in the natural foods department of a local grocery chain -- orientation is Monday.  ; )

And in other, other news:  My amazing brother took his written driving test yesterday and passed with ease.  It is a requirement in this state -- and I would hope in every other state -- that driver's tests be readministered following traumatic head injury.  After re-reading the book and studying, Michael thinks that everyone should be re-tested, as a good reminder more than anything, every five years or so.  He'll take the road test on Tuesday.

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