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21 posts from February 2008

28 February 2008

We are lucky to have him

Breaking blog silence...

Mike Vicki_mike

That's my brother Michael -- and me watching over him.  He'll be 46 on St. Patrick's Day; almost didn't see 44.  "We are lucky to have him," as my sister wrote me the other day.

Indeed.  Two years ago today there was a traffic accident and his ordeal began; emergency brain surgery, several weeks in a coma, surgery to fuse vertebra, many more weeks wearing a body brace and undergoing rehab, both in the hospital and at home.  So much uncertainty, so many days of ups and downs, ins and outs, worry.  There are still restrictions in place, and likely always will be, regulating how much weight he lift and how many hours he can work.

The annual comin' around of this day combined with my uncle having lost his wife (the love of his life) last Valentine's Day are a couple of nonweather related reasons why February is not my favorite month, and contribute to my funk.  And this year, there's an extra day!

* * * * * *

Blog silence shall resume, as I'm leaving tomorrow for my weekend visit in Minneapolis.  I am so excited!  Blog friends always help with the funk -- they most certainly did two years ago, and they most certainly will now.  Check with Deb, my weekend hostess extraordinaire (no doubt), regarding the probability of a Saturday afternoon outing involving yarn and probably food.

26 February 2008

Intention

I seem to have lost it, along with mojo and enthusiasm, inspiration and some pluck.  I think I've previously had more pluck.  Has anyone seen my missing pluck?

I'm going to take a little break to recharge and and see if I can find one or more of those things -- maybe they're in Minneapolis.

It's true, after a year's delay, I'm finally going to Minneapolis!  Katie's going to visit a friend there and I'm hitching a ride, so I'll even be able to knit most of the way!  If I want to.  See you on the flip.

Think spring: DSC04353

25 February 2008

Time, time, time... no time

Heroset

Herohat Herodetail

This is the set I knit for Cara's surprise baby shower!  It was a fun little knit and quick to finish!  I bought the pattern, "Baby's First Cable Cardigan" by Diane Kostecki (Kalamazoo Knits Pattern #31) at the Aussie Sock Yarn booth at Rhinebeck.  It's hard to find anything definitive to link to online, but check the links on the baby shower blog.  (We've let Cara in over there, so the user name/password requirement has been lifted at Who's Gonna Be "The Boss" Now?.)

The set was knit with two strands held together; either two strands of Dale Baby Ull in "neutral" navy blue (solid) or one strand each of Baby Ull and Hand Maiden Casbah (color).  I needlessly feared running out of Casbah while I worked the sweater and was still concerned, obviously, when I knit the hat, hence the alternating of five rows solid, five rows color.  And, don't you just know it, I still have some of that yarn left!

I highly recommend the pattern, if you can find it.  It was quick and fun and not fiddly to finish, yet is a very nice little sweater.  The worst part about some baby knits is the fiddle factor when it comes to finishing... ask me how I know, and how many baby knits it took me to figure it out, and how many are still unfinished.  There are only two small seams to sew (sleeves) on this sweater, and I think it could definitely be knit with no seams to sew at all!

22 February 2008

Here comes the sun

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The mornings have been beautiful.  That's yesterday's sunrise; today is about the same -- and the big moon hangs in the western sky.  I stopped in my tracks when I walked outside this morning... listen... birds singing!!

I have no big plans for the weekend, really.  Katie will be home late tonight.  Maybe I'll cook something wonderful tomorrow.  Hm.  What could I make?

I'll be knitting, of course.  I'm nearly finished with the first re-knit piece of the Habu project and, oh, it's so much better.

Happy weekend!

21 February 2008

Ice

Sculptural Sparkly

Sculptural and sparkly.  The "ice sculptures" begin to form when the snow slowly slides off of our fancy new metal porch roof, but does not actually fall.  Snow boggles the mind.  Hundreds, even thousands of snowflakes can be held in your hand at once, blown off the tip of your finger -- if they don't melt first.  They are cold, but also known for holding warmth.  The smallest flakes are lace-like, fragile; the largest like tufts of cotton.  Clinging to each other as the lot of 'em start to slide, the tension must be incredible as the snow starts to bend and curl, and some flakes start to fall away, but not all... there are hangers-on, intrepid little flakes.

The best thing about February is that on the rare days when the sun comes out, its presence and increasing strength is keenly felt.  The sun, both in partnership with other factors and alone, works a different sort of magic, as individual flakes are transformed into solid, crystalline masses of varying shape and size.  Depending on conditions, they can be freeform and artsy or straight and direct -- either way, they are beautiful.

They are also heavy, sharp, pointy, and potentially dangerous.  I don't recall specifics, but I remember one of my sisters being transported on the "milk cart" at our elementary school after she'd fallen on a sidewalk and jagged ice sliced a big gash in her knee.  She had to have "dissolving stitches" deep inside, and then the regular kind on the outside; I remember being fascinated with the idea of dissolving stitches.  Heh, I still am.

Be careful out there!!

20 February 2008

All tied up

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It's a busy, busy day!!

Meanwhile, quickly, it's WIP Wednesday!  Rather than casting on something new, I have bucked up and taken up Mom's Habu Birthday project again... and discovered another mistake.  And, oh yeah, another one.  The niggling voice saying, "Wasn't it THIS way when you tried it on at the trunk show?" led to the discover of yet another mistake.  And what in the world was I counting?  So, yeah.  The "taking up" involves a fair amount of "ripping out."  Maybe even A LOT of ripping out.  But that's okay.  It has to turn out well -- better than well -- and I need to do my best.  I think I've found my groove, my tension is much better, my ability to read the pattern and makes sense of all those freakin' arrows... better.

19 February 2008

I've looked at snow from both sides now

Snow_bush Snow_layers

And I know you're tired of it.  Not as much as me, though, that I can guarantee.  Isn't it interesting with the layers?  These were taken from inside my office yesterday...

Kalanchoe_flowers

...this one's on my side of the glass.  It makes me smile... happy, pink, hope... thoughts of spring.

18 February 2008

Up to here

NOTICE:  I have had it with the snow.

Over 7 inches of new snow fell yesterday.  And guess what!?  It's snowing again -- right now -- another inch predicted, but I bet it'll be more.  The 50-year record for snowfall stands at around 74" and this year's total is 71" as of yesterday; by comparison, last year at this time the total snowfall wasn't even 17".  We're running out of places to put it and/or pile it up and we, personally, have already been doing the minimum in some areas, such as only a shovel-wide path on the walk between the house and garage, and the mailman's path from sidewalk to street.  There's a big panel truck for sale in the lot next to mine at work and the snow is piled up all around and just as high now, so that it can't even be seen and, obviously, chances of a sale before spring are pretty much nil.

The Wisconsin primary election is tomorrow and the snow has caused some problems for the presidential candidates, as well.  Kind of disappointing, too.

I finished the Alchemy Monarch project yesterday.  I was surprisingly calm at the finish, considering how little yarn was left when I cast off the last stitch.  It's apparent where the second hank was joined, but not displeasing.  I gave it a soak and pinned it out, perhaps tonight I'll seam it -- with a twist or without is the question.

Inches_remain Scroll

I couldn't figure out what to work on last night.  There's a mistake in one of the Habu pieces, but I didn't feel like fixing it.  There's a wide variety of items in different stages of marination, but I didn't feel like working on any of them, either.  There's the sweater with the truck on it -- the flatbed truck -- that Mack requested, but then I see Maddy's face in my mind's eye... I really need her to just pick a sweater so I can get on with it!

15 February 2008

Grilled cheese

It snowed, slow and steady, all day yesterday, stopping at around 5:00 and leaving about 5" of new snow to shovel.  There was so much activity everywhere last night after work, as people grabbed shovels or started up snowblowers when they arrived home and got busy clearing sidewalks and driveways while there was still daylight.  Thankfully, the days are getting longer.

I was hungry, so all I could think about was supper.  I decided that nothing would satisfy me more than a grilled cheese sandwich!  Incredibly, I was out of the processed American cheese that I prefer for grilled cheese, so here we have mild cheddar -- it's on white bread, of course, though the dark German bread would have been nice, too.  There are certain pairings of cheese to bread, you know?

Cheese2 Cheese

Mmmm.

It's sunny today and, with all the snow, looks like Wonderland pretty much everywhere -- snow on all the trees, piled high on bushes, huge snowbanks and piles everywhere.  It's amazing.  I think I might go on a picture-taking hike over the weekend.  There's another storm, another 5" predicted for Sunday.

14 February 2008

Scorpio Daily Horoscope, February 14, 2008
Endings As Beginnings

A significant ending in your life could leave you feeling alone today and unsure of what is coming next. You may experience a sense of loss or feel abandoned because a phase of your life has come and gone. Solace can be found in the fact that all beginnings are preceded by endings. Though you may mourn for what has passed, try looking toward the future. You may find that in leaving your past behind, a myriad of opportunities are waiting to be discovered. Consider all that you once dreamt of and ask yourself which of those dreams you might find pleasure in resurrecting today. A fantasy that once tugged at your heartstrings could become a real goal for you.

My DailyOm horoscope was a little weird this morning.  My first reaction -- anyone's first reaction -- to "Endings As Beginnings" and the message therein was that it could only be referring to the "significant ending" of a relationship.  But wait... on Valentine's Day?  That's kind of weird.  Certainly not impossible, but a weird message for this day, even if it is mostly a Hallmark holiday.  My relationships are in various states of health and well-being, as usual, but I don't think any are at the "significant ending" stage.

Bent
bent out of shape

Maddy got the Plum job she's been hoping for!  Yay!!  She knows some of the other people who have been hired, and is excited about working with all of them... and also about the gelato.  The cafe is set to open sometime next month, so I imagine training will begin fairly soon.

Alison will have a new entry on her resume, also, as she is training for a very part-time position at a local fitness place.  She's been wanting a place to work out and a key component and appeal of this new job is the free membership.  She is still working as a barista and pursuing some other interests.  That one never sits still for long.

There are also some interesting, late-breaking, sudden developments in the realm of DH's work, the details of which are still rather foggy, but it's good.  You know?  He's happy and excited, and there's good energy.  That spark is a really good thing, especially at this time of year... and it's catchy.

I am a little charged up, too.  I have these interests that I think about pursuing from time-to-time.  Big ideas.  Things I could do if I could ever figure out a way to cross the bridge.  I get excited for a while and try to think of ways to make them work before the dampers start to descend -- logistics, time, money, self-doubt, practicality, making a living, paying the bills.  The dampers are usually too much and big ideas end up dormant -- sometimes for only a short time, but sometimes for much longer -- and sometimes the descending just doesn't stop.

The thing is, they never die.  My excitement and longing and passion never really goes away, never gets written off completely.  Sooner or later, I'll read or hear or see something and there's a big spark!  Hey!!  The flames are fanned, the ideas take shape -- sometimes the same, sometimes different.

I felt a big spark the other day.

Back_space
back space

As evidenced, there are good things happening -- small things, not always sure things, but good things.  I think we're turning a corner, and the "significant ending" actually has to do with our state of mind -- our collective state of mind -- with karma, energy, optimism, and possibilities.  We're none of us alone or feeling loss, but there's a shift happening and I can almost feel it!  The big ideas and dreams are looking more like opportunities and goals, with all the uncertainty that comes along with taking risks and crossing bridges.

YouTube-alooza continues, and "I FEEL GOOD!"  James Brown wearing a ski sweater only makes me feel better.

* * * * * *

Maddy rescued my old Royal Mariner typewriter from the trash heap yesterday.  She pried off all the keys -- after we worked together to get the lid off -- though the evidence shows that despite a number of tries, Back Space would not budge.  It did eventually come off.  She'll be dismantling the rest for "usable parts" very soon.

Dad gave me that typewriter for Christmas when I was 11 or 12, I think -- so practical. I wonder, really, what his motivation was, other than being practical; what he was thinking, exactly? Did he think I should write... letters? stories?  Learn to type so I could... be a secretary?  (It was '69 or '70 and we lived in a very conservative, small Midwestern city... I read about bras burning, but I'm not sure any fires were held locally.  There's a small university, and I always looked for war protesters, too -- like I'd see on the news -- there were never any of those, either.)

13 February 2008

'Wave

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Dsc02046 Dsc02049 Dsc02047

For Norma.

Not quite old enough to be a "winner," we recently celebrated 23 years of togetherness with our "Radarange."  It was a wedding present in January 1985.  I remember being kind of pissed that it had a dial rather than a touchpad, but I got over it and I'm fine now.  I recall also receiving a 3-piece set of CorningWare -- the small saucepans with the clear glass lids, ideal for microwave cooking -- as a wedding gift from a related party.

In all this time, we've only ever had to replace the lightbulb.  I've been waiting -- not quite actively wishing (usually) -- for years for it to die so I can get the beast off my counter.  I don't really have any plans for "all" the extra space, but when I'm over visiting the Dyson department, I can't help but browse longingly amongst the small, sleek, white, one-touch ovens (and panini grills) and dream.  One can only imagine how quickly, in reality, the top of a smaller microwave would be stacked upon and obliterated with all manner of kitchen clutter.

The years tick by and it does, too.  I've included a shot in situ with Cream of Mushroom soup, toaster and fridge for scale.  The most unusual feature of this microwave is that the door opens from the top, like a regular oven, which means that you really wouldn't want it any higher than the countertop.

12 February 2008

Sixteen tons

It was nice enough on Saturday morning when I was out and about getting my hair cut and stocking up on cheese curds, but the weather man predicted colder air and increased winds later in the day (and for the rest of the weekend) so I decided to get all the heavy lifting out of the way while I still had my jacket on.  Four bags of water softener salt (an absolute requirement where we live), dog food, cat food, and kitty litter later... let's see... yep, that's about 16 tons, another day/week/month/year older, and deeper in debt.  That's me.

I'm so happy with how my hair turned out -- a new option for styling.  It wasn't cut any differently, but with the application of "curl enhancer" and blown dry with a diffuser -- va-va-voom, curls like I never had without a perm before!  It couldn't be easier -- apply enhancer, attach the diffuser to blowdryer, glom it onto your head, move it around glomming on to all areas, and ta-da, CURLS!  I had to take a raincheck on the enhancer (though I think I have a different variety at home) and I ran out of time for ANYthing extra this morning (and yesterday morning) -- blow-drying and styling my hair is definitely a morning extra.

For the rest of the weekend, I didn't venture any further than the outer limits of the front porch -- and only to retrieve the business end of the dog's tie-out.

I did laundry, cleaned house a little, ate my cheese curds and pretzel bread, made a nice dinner, watched a couple of movies -- Alice Adams and The Magnificent Ambersons -- and the Grammy Awards, and knit.  I had to wash and pin out one section of one deadline project to block, so turned my attention mostly to the "Scroll" lace project with a few small, mindless things thrown in to cleanse the brain.  All the while I had a feeling that there was something amiss in my thinking.  As I threw things together yesterday morning, I noticed knitting needles sticking out of a project bag inside my larger tote -- and I actually said to myself, "I wonder what that is?"  Um, yeah.  Mom's "Habu Birthday To You" project.  Whoops.

One of the things I was throwing into my bag yesterday was Elizabeth Zimmermann's Rib Warmer.  I was happy to knit the Rib Warmer for the fascination factor, which is good because, truth be told, it turned out a little on the small/snug side.  It is very literally a rib-warmer.  It accentuates my positives, if you know what I mean, and also accentuates some of my other positives, though I'd rather those were negatives (or at least neutrals), and for that reason I didn't think that I'd really ever wear it much.  Turns out, I take it with me everywhere and I wear it a lot!  At my present place in the life cycle, and at this time of year, layers are key and my Rib Warmer is the perfect extra layer that works under almost anything.

* * * * * *

It appears that I'm having a YouTube-alooza this week.  Perhaps you've seen the Yes We Can video that Norma linked to the other day.  If you liked that, you'll like the one below, found by chance this morning at a blog I also found by chance, Light. Sweet. Crude. 

10 February 2008

C is for...

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C is for cheese curds -- handmade goat cheese curds (plain and squeaky, please) fresh from Caprine Supreme Creamery in Black Creek, WI.  You can read about Caprine Supreme here at Cheese Underground.  I made a point yesterday to stop at the indoor farmers' market to replenish my supply.  Am I living in heaven here, or what?  Right at the junction of Candyland and Dairyland.

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I had curds with pretzel bread this morning.  I wasn't intending to buy that little loaf yesterday, but when I asked the sweet little old lady who gave me the sample (with a slice of cheddar cheese on top) where to find it, she practically took me my the hand and led me to its location in the bakery department; she made it a point to tell me that she'd witnessed them being baked at 9 a.m. that very morning.

We'd often stop for a bag of curds to pass around the car during family trips when I was a kid.  The little cheese factory stores are hard to find now.  An aunt and uncle bought a small, abandoned, rural cheese factory many years ago and transformed it into a place to live.

I can remember standing next to Grandma in her kitchen a few years ago as she sliced some cheese for us -- thin slices, one for each.  Cheese was definitely not part of her restricted diet, except for non-fat varieties.  She handed me my slice of cheese, telling me that she'd rather have only one slice of "real" cheese everyday than all she could eat of the other stuff.

Hardly a snob, I often prefer Kraft American Processed for my grilled cheese sandwich (two slices of cheese... on white bread, of course).  I'm no stranger to Cheez Whiz and Easy Cheese, either; not that they're permanent -- or even frequent -- residents in the pantry.

Edited to Add:  Try eatcurds.com for everything you've always wanted to know about cheese curds and more.

* * * * * *

C is also for good morning cry and Eva Cassidy.  Thanks to Terry, I've had one with the other this morning -- in a good way.  Oh, my.  I can barely tear myself away from YouTube even to get a tissue, I've been wiping my tears mostly with my nightgown.  I watched the linked Nightline episode and the tears started flowing before a note was even sung.  Eva plays importantly on the soundtrack of a personal milestone, so when she sends a zinger into my heart it's felt double.  "People Get Ready," "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," "Autumn Leaves," "Songbird," "Fields of Gold," but mostly...

..."In the Early Morning Rain."  (Close your eyes and just listen.)

08 February 2008

Sweet!

I have had great fun participating in a few of Lynne's Special Swaps over the past six months.  There's a theme to each swap -- in the garden, on a picnic, going to the movies, having a spa day -- and it's fun dreaming up ideas and putting together each perfect, special package.

No matter the theme, none of my swap packages is complete without a special confectionary treat from Wisconsin -- Lynne and Marisol can vouch for Wilmar's handmade caramels, I believe Irish Eyes Kathy B. can speak for the truffles (or was it an Oak's Melty Bar?), I am as yet undecided about Liz's special treat.

It was fun to see an article today in The New York TimesA Tour of Candyland in Wisconsin, Timeless and Sweet.

Wilmar's is where I do most of my shopping here in Candyland, but Oak's is available at my usual grocery store, and Seroogy's and Vande Walle's fundraiser bars are never hard to find.  Sweet!

Ramen

Almost just like Ramon... but with knitting... and it's Friday.

Ramen Thing 1:  I remember watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire when it was new.  There was a broke college student for a contestant who mentioned living on ramen and Regis had absolutely no clue.

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Ramen Thing 2:  I was wrong. I haven't quite attached the second ball of yarn to this project.  That'll be next.  I'm so sorry I had to ditch it and I can't wait to get back to it!  I tried to stretch it a little to show more of the pattern, called "Scroll."  I'm looking to have it finished for a special occasion at the end of the month.

Ramen Thing 3:  I am going to yoga tonight for the first time in over a year, I think.  A brand new studio.  Not hot.  I love the hot yoga, but not the extra time associated with it.

Ramen Thing 4:  Maddy should be hearing about the barista job she interviewed for a while back -- today, I hope.  Fingers crossed, eh?  She needs to pay for a car.  There have been some sad and unfortunate setbacks in the opening of this new shop.  If she doesn't get the barista job, the wheels will help broaden the prospective job horizons.

Ramen Thing 5:  I get a haircut tomorrow!

07 February 2008

Ramon

Typing while thinking and trying to come up with a title more clever than "Random Thursday," results in a post entitled "Ramon."  Well, really, it can't get much more random than that, can it?  It makes me laugh, though, perhaps, once again, I am amusing only myself.  C'est la vie.  Que sera sera.

Ramon Thing 1:  The WPT Garden Expo is this weekend in Madison and I'm going to miss it.  It would have to be such a quick trip, that I decided not to go.  If you go, look for Peeling Ceiling Pottery and say hello to my sister Sharon!  She does awesome work.

Ramon Thing 2:  Madeleine called me at lunch time today to ask if I was doing anything tomorrow night -- a meeting, a class, knitting out (honestly, if I say, "I don't get out much," it's kind of a lie).  She wants to cook dinner for me.  Huh?  She made herself something delicious (but not weird, she said) for lunch today and wants to make it for me!

Ramon Thing 3:  I recently found a note penned by Maddy taped to my Caffeine-free Diet Coke bottle in the fridge that told all the different reasons why it was not the best choice to quench my thirst.  Maddy has been on a serious and somewhat prolonged health/diet kick and she is trying her best to drag me down pull me up take me along for the ride!  She's been doing a fair amount of the grocery schlepping of late and is so very good about the choices she makes.  Just say no.

Ramon Thing 4:  RT2 may be somewhat related to Madeleine's improved mood over her new car.  I picked it up yesterday while she was at school and she found it parked in the driveway when she arrived home.  This is not something that was seriously on the radar, but an offer came along that was too good to pass up.  She's happy about The Car, of course, even though it's an older-than-the-hills car, but the provenance is also appealing -- Who it belonged to... Nathaniel, lead singer and front man for a local band called IVORY.  Nathaniel is leaving for NYC next week, pursuing a brighter future for himself and his band.  He's so adorable, so young.  I'm such a mother.  I paid him the agreed price for his car and told him that I specifically brought big bills so he'd be likely to keep them longer; Ali told me that he was worried about spending his money too quickly.  I told him how wonderful NYC is, how excited I was for him and this opportunity.  I also said, Have fun! Be careful! Don't do anything dumb!  Our business and my little lecture concluded, he said that he felt he should hug me or something.  Aw.  All the best, Nathaniel, all the best.

Ramon Thing 5:  I guess that's it for Ramon today.  I'm at school and class is about to begin.  XO.

Ramon Thing 6:  Oh, I just remembered another Ramon thing... I think I finally know what I'm making for Cara's baby!!!  Well, I've kind of known what I was going to make, I just wasn't really sure it would turn out the way I wanted.  I think it is!!  Details soon at the baby blog... it won't be long before we really find out Who's Gonna Be "The Boss" Now?!!

Okay, now I'd better skedaddle.

06 February 2008

Habu birthday

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Dsc02026Habu birthday to you
Habu birthday to you
Habu birthday, dear Mom
Habu birthday to you!

Back in November, I took Mom to Iris Fine Yarns to see the Habu trunk show.  I knew that my mother would like the Habu "style," and I was right.  She looked great in everything, and she loved every single piece -- it was just a matter of degree!

I tried on a few things, too, and was actually quite surprised at how good they looked!  I wasn't expecting that.  There's very little shaping in any of the garments, no tailoring to speak of, but the fibers, the finished fabrics, the way the garments are put together, the careful result of what little shaping there is -- I'm not saying they'd look good on everyone, but if there's an opportunity to try on these pieces, do it -- it was a happy surprise.

It was a difficult choice, but Mom ordered Kit #68.  I'm doing the knitting for her birthday present.  It came up on Saturday when we were out together -- and I told her that I hadn't started it yet.  Yeah.  The tone of her reply -- "You haven't started it yet!?" -- I was practically casting on while taking off my jacket when I got home!  The luscious Alchemy Monarch project, which had been coming along swimmingly, has been dropped like a hot potato!  I'd just attached the second ball of yarn, too, but it was MOM... the tone, the look, the inflection... oh, how could I be such a terrible, neglectful daughter?

Heh.  There are eight pieces to knit and I'm at about the half-way mark.  It's quick to knit but, man, that chart's a real trip!  This project is going to involve more than the normal amount of sewing up, and I'm just going to have to put my head down and blaze through to the finish.  Maybe I'll get on a roll and sew up Oblique at the same time!  It could happen.  The color differences in Mom's kit are much more subtle than the example on the web (and the one we tried on); the yarns are wonderful to work with.

05 February 2008

Wintry mix

Wintry mix.  That pretty much sums it all up right now -- the weather forecast (it continues to be a mess outside), the comfort food I've been making, the movies I've been watching, the knitting projects I've got going -- it's all a bit of a wintry mix.  Ha!  It was hard getting back to work yesterday after five relaxing days off -- a wintry mix of feelings.

My relaxation included an unscheduled and unplanned movie marathon.  Somehow, I watched six movies on Friday and Saturday and, as I think about listing them, I can't remember exactly when or how I fit them all in -- I must have been something of a movie-watching, knitting slug!!  One was seen at a theater, one on TV, and the rest were on DVD.  They were all very different -- which is good, I guess -- and really not a stinker in the bunch.

On Friday afternoon, in an effort to get my Netflix queue moving again, I finally watched Harold and Maude, a movie that languished here for far too long.  I can't believe that I've never seen it before -- released in 1971, with a great Cat Stevens soundtrack (I love Cat Stevens!), and starring the adorable Ruth Gordon!  How did I miss it?  I've seen it now and, ignoring the 1970s styling and production, it's a great quirky story, told with wonderful humor.  (Coming soon -- maybe today -- to my mailbox, Mostly Martha, on Ann's recommendation.)

I think it was Friday evening when Maddy & Katie came to announce that the next showing of Atonement was in 10 minutes. Would I like to go?  Huh?  Spontaneity?  I haven't done that in a while!  We dashed around the house, dashed outside with the dog, and dashed off to the theater, arriving just in time for previews!  I loved this story -- the twists and turns.  It was darker than I was expecting, but I don't really know what I expected as I haven't read the book.  I think I'd like to someday.

At some point, maybe on Saturday afternoon, I watched Grand Hotel on TV.  I think I saw at least most of this movie once before, but it was long ago.  Truthfully, I'll watch just about anything with Lionel Barrymore -- I love his voice.  John Barrymore also starred and I couldn't help but smile every time he appeared in profile -- which was plenty -- always on the "good side"!  Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo... can't go wrong with names like that!

Katie & I watched 3:10 to Yuma, which I liked a lot.  I like a good western once in a while; I like Russell Crowe and especially Christian Bale; I liked the story and the way it was told.  It made me remember, once again, that I still need to watch UnforgivenAdd it to the queue!

We Are Marshall primed us for Sunday's football game.  Heartwrenching, of course, but also heartwarming.  I liked it, but thought it was choppy -- it was a good movie, but it could have been a better movie.  We were introduced to the coach's family so quickly in the beginning that when his wife turned up in the bleachers much later in the movie, it took me a minute to think about who she was and why she was there, then I remembered that he had a wife and kids!  I'm not even sure we got a good look at her earlier.

Rounding out the movie mix was Away From Her.  Sad and melancholy, it was amazing nonetheless.  Julie Christie has been a favorite since, wide-eyed at 11, I watched her on the big screen in Doctor Zhivago -- up against Rod Steiger, oh, and Omar.  Mom, fresh from a class in Russian history, took me to see it and whispered historical facts into my ear during the entire movie -- which didn't diminish its impression on me in any way.  Away From Her... Julie Christie is only three years younger than my mother and her character in this movie -- her beauty and style -- so resembles my mother... it was almost eery, given the subject and context and Mom's recent milestone birthday and in thinking of my grandmother, lost.  Heartbreaking... the movie... Alzheimer's.

Deluxe

This photo would seem to fit in nicely with the ABC-Along theme this year, and yet doesn't really have a place.  It's a photo of the logo on the ABC mangle that resided for years in the aforementioned grandmother's kitchen, but that I only saw her operate once (it's not a very kid-friendly machine).  My mother is an "ironer" of highest order and it's only fitting that the mangle now resides with her (I haven't seen her operate it yet).

02 February 2008

B is also for...

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Blue.   Those enchanting few blue minutes every winter evening.

B is for...

Dsc02009B is for Breakfast.  I love going out for breakfast.

Specifically, this morning, B is for Mom's belated birthday breakfast (with bacon*) at The Queen Bee.  Mom's birthday was Thursday and, while we did plenty of celebrating last weekend, we celebrated some more this weekend.  We went to the indoor winter farmer's market, browsed through a couple of shops, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then assembled some make-ahead meals at Dinner Helpers.

The Queen Bee is one of those places that's open only for breakfast and lunch.  It's nothing fancy -- breakfast all day, burgers for lunch -- but it's friendly, clean, and hearty without being too much.

When Maddy was in Pre-K, she brought home a book of recipes for the kids' favorite foods and directions for preparation -- in their own words.  Maddy's favorite food was...

*From the Kitchen of Maddy's Mom...

BACON
*Get a piece of bacon
*Fry it in the pan
*Wait for a few minutes
*Then you eat it

Adam's Potatoes:  Peel them first.  Cook them.  Eat them.

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Two eggs over-medium, corn muffin tops, extra-crispy hashbrowns, and bacon.  Mmmm, very bad but also very good.  B is also for Beagle Bagel from Two Paws Up Bakery -- my favorite place for dog treats; I also brought home some Cheese Dogs, Honey Bears, Veggie Stars and, of course, Bacon and Egg Piglets.

01 February 2008

The question was...

I was flipping through channels yesterday while cleaning up the kitchen and stumbled across a rebroadcast of the Republican debate from the night before -- it wasn't long before I flipped channels some more, but this caught my attention for a few minutes.

The question was originally asked by Ronald Reagan:  "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"  It's a very good question, one I've pondered in various configurations recently, though I was just as annoyed as John McCain with its context in this debate.

The question came to mind again last night when I was driving past our middle school -- which formerly housed the high school and administration offices -- on my way home after class.  Cars were streaming out from a packed parking lot.  There'd been a special meeting called to discuss budget-cutting measures, mainly the sale of two buildings -- an elementary school and the administration building (a historic building, formerly the post office) -- and the elimination or phasing out of the French, orchestra and gymnastics programs.

The threat of potential mass transfer of students to other districts was too much and the programs will stay, though gymnastics has been given only a temporary reprieve.  The buildings will be sold, a number of teacher, support and administration positions will be lost or left unfilled, teacher salaries will be "modified," and kids will be shuffled a bit as schools are "reconfigured."

Incidentally, the elementary school that's closing is the one in my neighborhood, the one my kids attended -- walked (or were walked) to and from.  Kids in my neighborhood will now have to ride a bus.

No.  My answer to the question is "NO."  It leads, of course, to so many other questions:  Is my quality of life better?  Is my standard of living better?  Will my children ever be able to buy a house?  Was this the grand plan?  What's not working?  How can it be fixed?  Can it be fixed?  What's it going to take?

WHO is it going to take?  THAT is the question.

* * * * * *

You shall now be returned to your regularly scheduled knitting blog in which our heroine is thinking that perhaps the third time IS the charm and it's time to throw her hat into the Project Spectrum ring.  It's elementary...

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