Thursday, December 29, 2005

Testing

I had a mildly brilliant thought the other day: What if I wrote my stuff in MS Word until I’ve exhausted all avenues of aimless rambling (with images) and then copied it over to the blog Command Post? I find that when I’m actually writing up my drivel in the blog Command Post, I’m not writing clearly because I’m acutely aware of how long I’m on the internet which is also on the same line as our business phone. Yes, I’m still in the Jurassic Period technologically speaking with regard to online hook-up. Dial-up. Drag.

A perfect example occurred a few posts back when I meant for anyone reading the blog to go to Pillowkits, which is indeed in my little sidebar. The reason I want you to go there is to check out the Moonkissed Mugwort. That and to take me to your leader. The Pregnant Paws (aka large feet) I was referring to belonged to the owner of the rather large socks I received in the mail to replicate. I hope I have that cleared up now. If I have, go there now and then take me to your leader.

The other reason it’s nicer to write up stuff whilst offline is that I can assault readers with a greater amount of drivel than usual. I will have the time to really get a thought in completely, perhaps with greater detail than necessary to truly drive one around the bend. I like a curvy road myself. Straight lines are bad in feng shui anyway.

That said, let’s review recent events:

Xmas Day ~ Enjoyed by all. Cooked for people. Visited other people. Naturally, the kids dove into the loot with great gusto and seem happy with the gifts Santa brought.

1st Day After Xmas ~ Recovery from said holiday. Unshowered bliss and pajamas all day for everyone (except Dirk; he went to work on the house). No people were allowed entry, more for their safety and well-being than ours. We all looked and smelled funky.

2nd Day After Xmas ~ Cleaned and dressed appropriately for leaving the house, we went on errands (the rabbits were desperate for some hay) and more visits. Dirk continued Tyvekking (a sad commentary on our times now that this word has become a verb). The guys were treated to Wendy’s chili. We had a simple spaghetti dinner. Knitting, TV viewing, and then bed. Boo-yah.

3rd Day After Xmas ~ I used a quality-brand Q-Tip to swab out my ear only to discover that there was no cotton on the stick. This lead me to believe that the following may have occurred: 1) there was no cotton on the Q-Tip to begin with and I wasn’t paying attention 2) the cotton came off in the bath robe pocket and I wasn’t paying attention or the disconcerting but ever-popular, 3) the cotton came off in my ear and I wasn’t paying attention. I was also relying on Dirk to look carefully in my ear to determine if this was indeed what happened. Medical skills lacking in Significant Other (who was also unwilling to fish about in the inner ear with a flash light and toothpick), I made an appointment with an otolaryngologist. The day quickly became a three-ring circus (like there’s any other kind) with the arranging of play dates and the borrowing of vehicles to get to said otolaryngologist. Once at the otolaryngologist’s, I filled out a vast amount of paperwork with regard to medical and financial history, sat in the special Looking in the Ear-Nose-Throat Chair after giving the assistant something to laugh about (I told her about the toothpick and flash light plan I had to save face) and then waited for the otolaryngologist. The kind doctor looked very carefully for all of two minutes in my ear, just to make sure, but found an ear canal not only void of Q-Tip cotton, but also wax. If I’ve accomplished anything, I’ve made an otolaryngologist’s year.

$80 later, I headed out to the Yarn Swift http://www.yarnswift.com/ on the way back home (I owe you more gas, Heaven) to check out their wares. It’s a shop filled with, well, yarn and spindles and spinning fibers and looms and spinning wheels as well as spindles and knitting needles and so on. I treated myself to a ½ lb bag of Dark Welsh Top and a book, Folk Mittens, put out by Interweave Press. I feel much better now.














4th Day After Xmas ~ Otolaryngology recovery and knitting with as few kid visits as possible, no clue for dinner, possibly fitting in time to paint on the long-term project, no shower. The Fair Isle has been set aside momentarily to do a requested moebius shawl. The stuff I’ve chosen to knit this item is like knitting with spider web (giving one a sense of being like Arachne). Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze, Shade 582: a delectable mohair with piquant flavor and a heady aftertaste. I’m also trying my hand at a little lace knitting. This requested project isn’t going as quickly as I’d like, but that’s the Zen of it ~ I will surrender to the process. As long as I have that special twist that makes it moebius.


















Well, it would seem this little experiment has worked well . . . If you’ve learned how to spell otolaryngologist correctly, I’ve done my job.

And proof that kids are having a lovely Winter Vacation:













And what’s up with the blurry camera?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fair Isle Fun

I am amazed at myself. Honestly. I've never done Fair Isle in my life. Intarsia is still initimidating, but I might be more willing to try it after getting through this. This is mostly knitted up from my hand-spun stash (except for the Wool-Ease peeking out at the bottom), which is another reason to be proud ~ I'm getting through some of the Stash! As Nature abhors a vacuum (I just abhor vacuuming), it's simple physics that the Stash will replenish itself. Like those tribbles on Star Trek; but you couldn't knit those or even milk them. Basically, useless bits of fluff. Anyway, this is only about 1/3 of the project done. The bag knits up in one piece that gets folded and sewn. I can't wait to see what happens next!

In the meantime, I'm staring deep down the barrel of the Christmas gun . . . again. Not one present has been purchased. In fact, neither Dirk nor I have a clue as to what we're going to get people. It's enough to get humanoid spawn out of the house in the morning without arguing over breakfast and clothing. There are only four more days left until school is out for the year as well. The kids have their lists written up though. No worries there except supply and demand. One is stapled together to create one two-foot long document. And the handwriting is uncharacteristically neat. I remember writing up my Christmas lists as a child ~ one page usually. I also walked to school up hill both ways and fended off a rabid squirrel with a looseleaf binder. That's what a one-page Christmas list story would sound like to our children. They can hardly comprehend that people didn't have TV, nevermind video games. At least, at the very least, I've completed the only Christmas knitting I intended to do ~ Dirk's grandmother's socks. Since a couple of years ago, I decided it would be easier to concentrate on one knitted gift for one person a year. That way if I choose to do something challenging, delicious and fantastic, I can really focus on the project and make it as best as I can. Now the socks came out alright. The only thing is that although I bought this Bernat Softee Chunky in Berry Red, somehow, the color isn't matching. The labels match, checked that whilst in Walmart, but the color is off. So the socks look a little bit funky. What's worse is that I didn't notice this fiber anomaly until grafting off the sock. Well, they'll still keep the tootsies warm. They'll certainly look homemade.

Must return to the continued dipping of more candles.

Thought for the Day: Ask not what your cat can do for you, but what can you do for your cat. Really. That's their attitude anyway.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bad Wool -- It's Not Just For Spinning Anymore!

There are times in a mother's life when she beams with pride and enthusiasm at the 4th Grade book report she helped her son make. This would be my moment in the sun. Ian needed to have a diorama of a natural disaster done by December 19. (Why aren't teachers aware of holiday knitting deadlines? Next year, I'm handing out pamphlets.) Ian made volcanoes as his disaster of choice. I immediately (and naturally) thought, "Great! I've got just the wool!" He needs to do the labeling and write-up on the piece ~ I don't think I could accurately forge his left-handed writing anyway ~ but the construction is done. Now, any other parents needing technical info last minute (and so they can get back to knitting with peace of mind), here they are:

A box that once contained New Snow Boots
Paint -- acrylic or tempra
Homemade papier mache (water, newspapers, white glue)
Candle and Crayons (stick w/ me, it gets better)
Gnarly Dark Wool (dude)

Once the box was found, Bennie and I set to shredding and boiling a fair amount of newspaper, watching carefully not to burn it. When the newspaper was pulpy enough, I strained the water out as best I could once cooled and added white glue (no measurement, just shoot for a decent consistency). I used the George Forman Grill drip pan to form the inside of the volcano laid face down on a cookie sheet and formed the mache over and around it. I let the form set over night and then popped the thing into the oven on very low temperature all day to dry. In the meantime, I prepped the box with background colors. When the volcano was dry, I sat with a candle and crayons (red and orange, of course) and carefully guided melted wax on the edges to make the lava. (Rather brought me back to my teenage days listening to Rush and burning candles in a Quianti bottle. Okay . . . I'm back now.) That finished product got hot-glued into place, followed by the faux-Corriedale to make the smoke plume. And that's how I made a diorama showing the dynamics of a Plinian Eruption. Ta Da!

Gee, do you think this will affect his grade? He's doing the writing . . .

And then . . .




Someone sent me these.





She knows who she is. (Bennie's and my socks included to show scale.) Since darning isn't a favorite pass time these days ~ not unless you're in a bar anyway ~ I've taken on the future task of knitting up another pair of socks for this fine fellow. Now, these aren't you're run-of-the-mill worsted weight Magic Loop socks. These babies were knit in fine sport weight yarn, love in every stitch, by his grandmother. I can only hope to match the quality and love put into the new pair. You just can't replace a pair of socks made by Grandmother.

You also may note a wee bottle in the pic. That's Moonkissed Mugwort. Worth every drop. It will be utilized to keep the nerves steady whilst knitting for Pregnant Paws. Check out the site (the link is at the side ~ unless someone moved it, which is always happening around here). And I got some funky earrings. I was wearing them during the shoot though.

And on that note, I shall make another empty promise to post the Fair Isle project. Ah, that Roadway to Hell and its pavement!

Thought for the Day: Look both ways before crossing or someone's karma will run over your dogma. I don't know what happens to your dharma.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Minding My Own Bees Wax

As we get closer to the Day of the Longest Night, my thoughts turn ever more inward (I think I'm somewhere near the corpus callosum ~ if it's Corpus Christi, then I really lost. Send out a posse.) Where was I? Oh yes . . . Since nights are getting longer I create ways that bring in more of the Light. I make candles. 100% Bees wax, nothing less, and hand-dipped. If you think about it, a flame is living light, like the sun. What better way to bring a piece of the sun into your home than with a candle? (I won't bore you with the safety precautions. We should all know what they are by now, but simply put, left unattended the Living Light may happily consume your home and its contents. Saves on the post-holiday clean-up, but it's hell on your underwear.) I've also read somewhere, the Grand Encyclopedia of Somewhere, that bees wax, in particular, is good for detoxing space. It must be that special hoodoo that bees do which clears the air. The scent is calming and homey. It makes me feel like learning how to be a beekeeper. Candles and honey! Mmmm. Bee stings and epi pens . . . I'll just buy my lump of bees wax annually at the fair. The thing is, I love to do this simple mindless stuff. All day, I dipped and knitted. I have no one's dead lines hovering over me. I don't have to be anywhere, but where I am. The kids are safe and busy, the chickenscatsrabbits are fed (the hamster is sleeping) and dinner is planned (hah! half the battle over). Life on my Little Farm is good. I'm hooked on some technology though ~ the hampster couldn't possibly run the wheel fast enough for me to log on to the internet. Although, I could rig something up with the spinning wheel . . .

Still working that Fair Isle. It's waiting patiently for me to finish the second sock for Dirk's grandmother. Photos next post, I promise. I was caught up in the candle making thing today.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Moo Shu Madness

Last night, I was in the company of some fine folk. Penelope (of local Knittingsmith Yarn Shop fame and ownership) said I could hang for the Knitter's Roundtable she has happening on two Thursdays a month (give or take depending on holidays and inclination). It was a pleasure to walk in at 6:00 pm to be greeted by the offer of Chinese food. Already, without knitting, these are my kind of people! I was introduced to Moo Shu Pork. It was an initiation of sorts as I was instructed on how to apply the Hoisin sauce (name eludes spelling properly at present) and then the Moo Shu to be wrapped in an uber-thin slip of pancake. And then, I was in Nirvana ~ just like that.

Of those that were there before me and then filtered in after me, I got to meet: Mary, Pat (she does yoga!), Audrey, Dr. Susie, Gayla and Linda. Conversation was fun and free. No story was ever really completed as queries were raised on how to deal with certain points of knitting, but that didn't matter. A new one would begin and it was just as good, just as necessary to be heard as the last one. Penelope had put together a pattern to make a cat or dog ornament simply: a square, a small rectangle, and an I-cord with the right amount of stuffing, pinching and sewing. Also going on needles were various hats. I worked on something mindless enough to enjoy new company, a pair of Magic Loop socks going to Dirk's grandmother staying in the Senior Citizens facility (one could hardly call it 'home'). After a quick quaff of Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon (the label was hilarious to read), it was suddenly 9:00 pm. With the threat of my coach turning back into a pumpkin, I decided I needed to get home and back to Real Life. (Actually I walked. It'll be the only thing I'll miss about living in village.) I left with both my glass slippers (no prince) and the heady realization that I'd been in a yarn shop for three (3) whole hours! Maybe it was the wine.

Due to the impending holidays, the next Roundtable will be in the second week of January. I'll be marking that Thursday on the calendar right now. Maybe we'll do Mexican.

Now the other thing I've got going on needles is a bit more involved. I don't know what possessed me, but I really wanted to try my hand at some Fair Isle. I decided to give it a whirl by way of a pattern from the Summer 2004 Knits, the Fair Isle Bag by Beth Brown-Reinsel. Naturally, I'm not using the colors indicated in the pattern, but my stash ~ so it's going to look a little funky, but I'm fine with that. It's the process not the product that matters to me right now. At present, I've somehow got more stitches than the pattern calls for. Rather than frogging and reducing, I'm winging it and working with it as is. I hope to get some sensible order going visually, and then I'll post pics of the progress.

It snowed. There was no school, no Brownie meeting. Obligations out of the way, we all went to see The Narnia Chronicles: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a stunning film. I kept a fibery eye out for knits. Lucy wore some nice cardigans, that was about it. I'm still on the hunt for Mrs. Weasley's bell-sleeved sweater as seen in The Chamber of Secrets. Alas, I may never find that pattern! Which rubs my nose further into the fact that waving a magic wand to get dishes and laundry done won't work. Not even a nose twitch. Ah, but I can knit, spin or paint! Then I don't remember that there's dishes or laundry to do (until I need underwear or a cup for tea).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tippy Toes

Bennie's socks as modified from Magic Loop instructions are done. I even had a little of that rainbow-colored angora/wool blend left over to make her some wristlets, but dipped if I can find them for the shoot. I did make sure to include the notes in my Knitting Knotebook. It hasn't seen much action since the blog. It's a little more tactile as I have bits of yarn glued to every other page showing what was used where. I doubt my family would appreciate my gluing yarn to the monitor for the same effect. Sometimes a reduction in the use of technology is a wise move.

The modified instructions are as follows:

Favorite worsted-weight wool
#4 circular knitting needles
Gauge be damned
Cast on 30 stitches instead of 44
Split the stitches for 15 st on both front and back needles in the Home Position
Knit in pattern to desired length (I think I went about 2 1/2 - 3 inches here)
Divide and repostion stitches for the heel flap: 16 st on front needle, 14 on the back. The 16 front stitches are the heel flap. Work that awhile in the stitch meant for a flap for about 2 inches. Do the heel turn. Then pick up 9 stitches for the instep and instep decrease. Follow the decrease rounds as instructed until back down to 30 stitches again. Knit in pattern and Stockinette for the sole until desired length (couldn't tell you how far; I gauged by Bennie's pinky toe ~ once it disappeared, I started doing . . .) The Toe Decrease. I kept the place markers in place from the instep decrease, so I did the toe decrease rounds based on these positions. I worked rounds 2 and 3 according to instruction until down to 18 stitches and then worked round 3 until down to 10, whereupon I grafted the toe off and handed it directly to my anxious daughter. She wore one sock for awhile until I got the other one done. I even had to rip out the toe decrease because I was under pressure and jumped the gun, thus making the sock too short for her foot.

Dirk's grandmother saw me knitting said pair of socks for Bennie and demurely indicated she'd like a pair, size 5. Dare I say I need to get yarn? Okay . . . I look through the stash first!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Zen Heddle

1) The name a of a new rock band.

Or

2) What I did today.

The latter. After taking a walk, stacking some rocks, walking back, and stacking more rocks I spent time threading heddles on Fannie. Doing the 1-2-3-4 draw is easy enough. Just needs attention. It's annoying to find crossed threads somewhere in the middle of a weaving. All it takes is attention. If knitting is touted as the New Yoga, then weaving is the New Zen Meditation. One's thoughts really can't stray too far from the task at hand. If they do, you end up in Texas or somewhere like that ~ Paris, Texas, if you're really lost. I carefully count out one heddle from each shaft. I mindfully pull each warp thread in order. All one, two, three, four. Simple counting, simple task. And then I leave the loom . . . simplicity leaves the building.

When that happens, you stack rocks. I'm no Andy Goldsworthy ~ he's a man that's got it down pat. (Check him out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Goldsworthy. I've seen his video; fascinating fellow.) But there is a simple comfort in stacking rocks.

Thought for the Day: When life gives you rocks instead of lemons, make cairns.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Post-Turkey Trauma Recuperation

It is now official. The Xmas season is underway. Yoda has been bedecked with the annual xmas lights marking the insanity of the upcoming holiday. I'd like to call it Yule, but this is another one of those holidays that's gone to Hell in a hand basket (one probably well-crafted by Satan himself). So, it's Xmas ~ maybe it's better to just call it X, because it's a time of year I'd like to avoid massing. Small gatherings suit me fine. Especially if there's good food, maybe a little wine . . . and goat cheese.

On to fibery notes: I've completed one sock for Bennie. Once I remember what I did, I'll supply the technical notes for a Youths size 1 to 1 1/2 sock. I like how it striped itself with big fat delicious stripes. Bennie's choice of yarn was a pleasure to work with. As I'm being frugal with the yarn, I may have enough to knit up a couple of wristlets for her as well.

Also, you may note, Bennie is wearing her brand new Intended-to-be-a-Bucket-Hat modified to fit her cute little head. As I was working a mohair cord through the hat with a crochet hook, I decided that the hat could still be a hat just not a Bucket Hat. And as my daughter is willing to wear my mistakes, the Bucket Hat became a sort of Fop Hat which she gets to enjoy (I think that's what they're called ~ Colonial-type folk wore them). Whew! That's one Mohair Mess-up situation solved!

And this photo is merely proof that the Boys are still alive and well. They're presently in the middle of video gaming with their last few hours of freedom. Note the glazed eyes ~ it's not from donuts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Making the Pies

Here are the Three Chefs baking the Pumpkin Pies for tomorrow's Beast Feast. Tom excluded himself due to Pumpkin Nausea ~ the smell of it just makes him sick; even with cloves and cinnamon.

One hour to bake pies = one week for the kitchen to recover. Simple math. It's another one of Einstein's little-known theorems, long before e = mc2. Hey, gotta start somewhere.


And here's me and Skittles NOT baking pies.

Now it's time for the latest remake of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise (it might become a Thanksgiving holiday favorite; sort of like wrapping Christmas gifts to Pulp Fiction) and the spinning of more mohair.

Burning the Midnight Oil

Last night, for some unknown reason, maybe a planetary alignment, I had a burst of energy at a time I normally go to bed. At 11:00 pm, when I would have been dozing to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Ah, Caribbean Angst!) and the TV, I tackled the beginnings of a pair of socks for Bennie. Here it is in my produce . . .

As I've had my eye on Bennie's selection from the Sheep and Wool, I made her an offer she couldn't refuse. Let Mommy play with the yarn and she'll knit her a pair of socks with it. How could she say No? She couldn't and she didn't. Now, this is, of course, being done in the Magic Loop method and should go like gang busters over the next few days. Most of my knitting may actually be done at a relative's whilst waiting for the afore-ranted turkey to roast. Since I didn't want to do the toe-up offered in the booklet, I've modified the directions of the Winter Sock to suit my needs. So, technical notes are as follows:

#4 circular needles
Bennie's Neat-O Wool from the Sheep and Wool
cast on 30 stitches to start for the shank
Gauge: C'mon! You know me by now!

More info to come since I'm figuring it out as I go. Which is dangerous. Let's not talk about the hat-about-to-become-a-cinch-bag. (Okay, the only note: I did try to full it in the washing machine. It didn't work. Hence, the future cinch-bag for something else.)

I also had the gumtion to spin a little of my Sheep and Wool purchase, a mohair/wool blend. It's spinning up fine. I'm still on the fence about plying it. I was moodling over the idea of doing myself a sweater from The Knitting Goddess: the Penelope Sweater using the Brioche stitch. I think I might hold out for some angora on that though. I'll have to see how this spins up. Here is Millie with the mohair hanging out in the kitchen waiting for a decent cup of tea . . .

In the meantime, I have turkey carcass hanging out at the bottom of my fridge. It was accidentally purchased. I doubt insurance covers it. I don't even think I could file a police report. It was a hit and run with no clues, not even tire tracks. I'm still reeling from the impact. It will not be the Thanksgiving Turkey though ~ just an ordinary one. A humble hunk of meat that will be our meal(s) from November 25, 2005 onward. Time to look through those Left-Over Turkey recipes . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sometimes You Have to Ask . . .

When will we wake up?!

Annually, like lemmings to the edge of a cliff, we race about doing things that have no soul, no real authenticity. I know I'm not the only one that feels the onerous weight of these winter holiday obligations. I know I'm not, despite what the Significant Other feels about my anti-social tendancies. I'm not anti-social. In fact, I can be a fun person. I'll agree that it has to be on my terms (perpetual Aries ~ it's all about me), but I'm fun, dammit! What would it take to scale down the Holiday Insanity? Simply waking up and really taking stock of the situation. We buy oversized turkeys that have lived their short pathetic lives in an enclosed space, not ever seeing the sun, not ever feeling the earth twixt their toes, not ever feeling the rain on their backs, not ever eating Real Turkey Food, not ever relying on their own immune systems to be healthy and we act Thankful about it. I'm far from being a vegetarian. I like turkey, in person and on the platter. What I don't like anymore ~ and maybe it's because I'm getting . . . y'know . . . older ~ is the running around and the nonsense. Family reunions are more than likely easier in the summer when all can reunite indoors and out. Family crammed in to watch football and await the roasted Turkey gets cranky. Especially with kids that don't want to be quiet and certainly don't want to watch football. Marketing is geared toward selling everyone in America this ideal that we need to have a Thanksgiving meal in this Traditional Manner, this whole Norman Rockwell thing. Traditionally, it's unlikely the pilgrims and Iroquois (?) even had turkey. They certainly didn't have the Oceanspray canned cranberries. Tradition has been twisted to suit the Market and we've lost the meaning, folks.

Thanksgiving isn't about turkey and football. It's about the Attitude of Gratitude. It's about being thankful for the people in our lives, the roof over our heads, the ability to come up with the money to squeak by, our continued good health . . . Gratitude is meant for Everyday and not to be crammed into one day in the company of screaming football fans on TV.

And then there's Christmas . . . Don't get me started.

Enough preaching. I'm working on a project. I can't write about it just yet because I don't quite know how I'm doing with it or how I feel about it. Well, honestly, I do know how I feel about it. I feel apprehensive. I feel the flutter of Failure lurking about. I feel the constant nagging of Low Self-Esteem tugging at my left ear. So, until I'm on better ground with the nourishment of Delight-in-what-I'm-doing and healthy doses of Praise, mixed with a dash of Pride. It'll just have to remain Unmentionable for the time being.

Otherwise, I'm going to start a pair of socks for the Princess with her angora wool bought from the Sheep and Wool.

Thought For the Day: The Elephant of Surprise far outweighs the Aardvark of Dismay. Hands down.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Moodling

The last balmy day we had was Wednesday. That day, instead of door shopping, Dirk worked on the house and I spent time sleying the loom. (Definition: By sley I mean threading, not engaging in stand-up comedy ~ that would be slaying . . . Ah, where my mind goes. The loom was amused though.) It surprises me what I can remember. It's like cellular memory warping the loom, riding a bike, baking a cake. I just, with a mere glance at my Learning to Weave book, remembered how to do it. And it went quickly. I'm nearly done sleying the beater. Next I'll be counting heddles and threading those. I'm aiming for a twill, so it'll be the simple 1-2-3-4 combo on the shafts. But that was the Last Balmy Wednesday . . .

Today, there is a definite chill in the air. The seals to the car door were slightly frozen. We are nearing the middle of winter. I'm baking like a maniac for the Brownie's bake sale tomorrow. Seedcake from www.godecookery.com is baking as I write. I will then move on to Sand Trooper Sandies from the Star Wars cookbook, soon followed by Wookie Cookies. So baking on a day like this is fine. I'd like to get to painting as I have a project in mind, but it's on hold due to time constraint and lack of solitude. This frustrates me and makes me cranky. It makes me lethargic and then I don't want to do anything remotely adult or responsible. I want to take a nap.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In the 'Tween

I'm between projects. This is dangerous. I hate floundering. It means I need to haul my entire stash out and see what comes to mind. I have to pull out that blank canvas (previously a Butt Painting) and do something with it. And I'm just not feeling self-motivated right now. I feel rather like limp pasta ~ which is fine for yoga, but not so great in day-to-day. There's stuff I could spin, of course. A sort of mindless do-something while the boys are on assault missions in Star Wars Battlefront II and Bennie watches Lilo and Stitch for the twentieth time. The wheel would at least take me somewhere (perhaps instead of Millie, I should rename her Calgon).

If there's anything I have been doing it's cooking. My fingers have been tickling through cookbooks. Cait Johnson's Cooking Like a Goddess/Witch in the Kitchen (they are the one and the same ~ so I retract the previous erratum) has been the culinary tome of choice these days. I've successfully made Apple Squash Soup, Smoky Pumpkin Soup, and, just yesterday, the Cailleach Soup (Kale-Leek). All have been yummy and comforting and something to do whilst in the 'Tween. My next culinary trip might take me to Edward Espe Brown's Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings. I have magic aprons and the kitchen altar. I have candles and all the right spices. I have the Kitchen Comfy Chair (unless occupied by any of the feline denizen) and fairly decent wine or the perfect tea. All ingredients for Creativity and nothing to turn snout at.

The painting will come. The next perfect knitting (NOT Christmas gift related) will work its way onto the needles. Until then, I don't see why I can't make soup. It'll be a one-up on Marie Antoinette and her cake service.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Loom with a View

Meet Fanny, my LeClerc four-shaft floor loom. We've finally busted her out of storage. At present, she's enjoying space and freedom in Dirk's future office, but will soon be moved to my studio once the walls and windows are in place. I could, if I really wanted to, weave right this second. I could weave while guys are working around me in a flurry of activity to finish my humble abode. I could sneak up to the site while kids are in school and enjoy quiet time in the woods. There's a propane heater (I guess I'll have to get over that fear of exploding and light it myself). I have warp thread. I know where my warp mill is and the weaving book (actually, I'm hoping I'm wrong about the book's locale because if it's in my basement it smells like mold). I also have a variety of single-spun yarns which lend themselves well to haphazard weaving. I don't even think I'd want to make a specific project like a table runner or place mats ~ I just want to chuck the shuttle and beat the weft. I've suffered serious weaving deprivation for years now; this is a big deal. But first Fanny needs a thorough dusting and cleaning. She needs her castle and beams polished. She needs to be tweaked and nudged until she feels good to work with again. Hopefully, she isn't too creaky and cranky. Hopefully, she'll forgive the years of exile inflicted upon her while I was fretting over the building of a house. Hopefully, the rhythm of beater and treadles will soften the wear-and-tear we've all endured working and waiting. A warm blanket might be nice though . . .

Meanwhile, back at the Funny Farm, I've knitted up a Tarot pouch using more of that single-spun mohair and the Magic Loop. Basically, I made a sock with a heel flap. I used stitches that would balance the twist of single-spun ~ the Loop's Beaded Rib and for the flap, the Moss or Seed Stitch. I knit the tube as deep as necessary for the deck in question and then shifted stitches to do the flap as long as desired. This pattern used a U.S. #8 circular needle. Now, the Duh Moment occurred when I bound off the flap and realized that I'd held the other stitches on the loop. I cast off adding a strand of yarn to do so, but I think the finished edge of the tube could have been cast off before I got involved with the flap. As I have a plethora of Tarot decks, I'll have plenty of opportunity to work this one out. This pattern could also make a cute cell phone holder or just a little pouch (I call them pockets because I wear plenty of duds with no pockets, usually yoga pants and skirts).

Today is Election Day. I've been an unregistered voter for years. Really, I am remiss in my civic duty. I've had plenty of opportunity to register ~ renewing car registrations, picking up mail at the Post Office, checking out movies and books at the library. I've had my chances and blown them all. My best attempt at casting my vote now involves crossing my fingers while the electoral process rages on. It makes knitting very difficult.

Friday, November 04, 2005

We Paws For Gender Identification

Awhile ago, I noticed my male rabbit nesting. This would lead me to believe one of two things: 1) I incorrectly sexed this particular rabbit or 2) He's coming out of the closet. Given how difficult it is to discern what's going on with a rabbit's fuzzy bits, I'll assume it's the former. As least that worry is over! Now I just have to ensure they aren't exchanging math notes. Or maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll be more interested in quantum physics or opera rather than multiplication. In the meantime, Smudge ~ Ms. Smudge, that is ~ and Skittles get alternating turns at roaming the abode. Both out together would naturally invite disaster of hairy proportions.

We now return to the previously scheduled blog . . .

No comments on the tardiness of post-Halloween clean-up, please. The rabbit thing has been a shock.

Now that the camera has returned from sunny Alcapulco, it's feeling refreshed and ready to work at the blog again. Thus a photo of the finished bucket hat. The brim has my handspun Rose mohair in that Linen stitch while the crown is in a metallic/mohair blend. I know there is a special Hell for those that do not swatch before doing a project. Luckily, it isn't a deferred Hell. If the gauge is wrong, you're pretty much stuck with something that doesn't fit well. (Although, at this moment, I'm imagining being turned away at the Pearly Gates ~ which, in my warped mind, resemble those of Graceland ~ due to my sloth at swatching. Would this mean I'm doomed to wear every article of clothing I've knit haphazardly? Probably. At any rate, I'll be easily recognizable.) And while this hat is neat, it doesn't fit as well as I'd expected.

So, can anyone out there tell me about fulling? I've already done one thing wrong ~ let's see if I can remedy the situation with a washing machine. I'm open for suggestions . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mohair Musings

For about a week now I've been sharing the table with this guy. He's waiting for Halloween. We dragged his plastic-boney butt down from the site where a fair amount of our holiday decorations reside. (I wish they'd pay the electric. And I've got a bone to pick with someone about the trash lying about.) At 2:00 am, it can truly be quite disconcerting to find someone sitting at the table. I'm half expecting him to ask me for a drink of water while I'm at it. But that would only happen if he were plugged in. So let's be thankful he's not wired for now.

In the meantime, I've been trying to knit that mohair bucket hat. The first time I did something wrong ~ can't remember what ~ and decided it would be better to just start over again. The second time, I began to knit a moebius hat brim . . . Knowing there really wasn't anyway to fix that, I decided it would be better to just start over again. (Hah! Deja vu!) Being that the Third Time is the proverbial Charm, I am still on only 1/2" of the brim using the Linen Stitch. Let's not jinx it, but I think I'm finally off to a good start. The problem I'm fast learning about mohair is that it's really not a good idea to frog it. Someone on the Playground mentioned something about putting the mistake-laden project on ice and then it would be easier to rip out. Just what I'd need: a Mohair Morgue of all the failed projects left undone, next to the peas and Eggos. Would anyone care to comment on the hair in the ice cubes? Better to scrap it and start over. In this way, Strawberry gets some really posh nesting material. A well-nested hamster is a happy hamster.

And I think my camera's flash has finally crapped out. I was going to post a pic of the hat, but it looked like this:

















With funds funneling into construction, I'm thinking that the realization of a new digital camera is somewhere in Siberia right now. I hope to post more pics, but that rather depends on the disposition of my equipment. Moody little bits of technology! But if you can discern the blobs, you might make out the two failed attempts at mohair hat brim with a Lazy Kate and the third triumphant attempt at this hat. Have a couple of beers first and then check back ~ things might look clearer then.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Guy Gets Older, Lives to Tell About It

Today is Dirk's birthday! We had a wonderful meatloaf-and-mashed-potato-with-gravy-and-peas dinner followed by Betty Crocker's Lemon Cake (with sprinkles). Tom lit the number candles and carried in the cake. Ian ranted about being unable to play his new video game. Bennie took pictures of the rabbits. But we all sang Happy Birthday and ate cake.

It's funny to think that, without divulging ages, I've known this man for more than half our lives now. We've grown up together ~ which is a little weird. And yet familiarity hasn't bred contempt; maybe a new breed of sarcasm, but no contempt. He is the best man I know. When he looks at our children, I see the love and delight he has for them in his eyes. And that warms the cockles of my heart. May he find many more years of love and delight in Life and I hope I'm still along for the ride (I believe I'm still the bearer of a non-refundable ticket).

Number candles on the cake blotted to protect the innocent headed for the Incline.

On a fibery note: Upon countless hours of searching for a FREE hat pattern, specifically, the Bucket Hat Pattern, on the 'net I finally ended up digging through past Knits mags to find the Furlana Hat and Mitts by Rebecca Harris ~ Fall 2003, to be precise, page 48. And I got that info off another blog that I stumbled upon, but did not make note of. (I was just thankful to find the FREE pattern.) The brim utilizes the Linen Stitch and then Ye Olde Stockinette about the crown. It should work fairly well with single-spun mohair. I'm just NOT going to fight with plying this goat hair. I'm not even taking it off the spool ~ knitting right off the Lazy Kate, I am. That's it and that's all! Not another word . . .

So, I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

So, Woody and I Were Spinning . . .

Sometimes, the best way to get a bulk of spinning done is to pop in a movie and let 'er rip. And that is exactly I what I did. Thankfully, the local library has DVD's free and a pretty fair selection (I've even gotten my mitts on "Sideways"). Yesterday, I had a Woody Allen flick "Hollywood Ending." I visit his movies on rare occasions. It's a lot of belief to suspend when he depicts himself winning back ex-wives or ex-lovers with weird neuroses and hypochondria. Nonetheless, it's movie watching easy enough to spin through ~ at least 1 hour and 85 minutes of spinning. As you can see, I've pretty much filled the spool on my Millie. This dyed mohair, dubbed Rose, has interesting color ranging from deep red wine to amber browns right on to screaming green. I'm thinking fuzzy mohair hat in the style I've seen on the Playground ~ sort of like a fisherman's hat. Golly, that requires a free pattern search! My favorite escapist past time!

Tonight, I'm reading cards at a Halloween party. Donations only ~ I'm rarely comfortable charging folks for something they could do themselves if they bought a book and a deck. I'd once worked for a woman at the Renaissance Faire reading cards. People never came first thing in the morning. It was as if they needed lunch before being dealt their Fates. Perhaps it's an unwritten rule: Never receive a card reading on an empty stomach. Conversely, if you don't wait a half hour after eating you could throw up. I'm also aware that there will be children coming to me . . . I'll need to make those readings short, sweet and fun. What kind of angst could these little beings need answers on? "When will little Susie stop yanking my hair?" "How can I persuade my mother that, at 6 years old, I am fully capable of running my own lumber mill?" "Will Mark, who's in the 2nd Grade, ever be fully accepted by my parents even though I'm a 1st Grader?" and the ever-popular "What is my life's calling after Kindergarten?" Jeez, kid! I'm 40-whatever and I still don't have a clue!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Toasty Tootsies

Here they are warm and toasty on my tootsies! I'm quite pleased with the results. Magic Loop is a yummy way to get socks done. Out on the Playground (at school where parents congregate to pick up children at dismissal), I noticed another knitting klatsch had sprouted. Kirsten, Heaven, Grace and I set a precedence hauling our knits and needles to the Hill. (Well, Heaven doesn't knit, but serves up great chat. Sadly, the Hill is gone now. The school district felt it necessary to wreck the scenery with a new building.) Anyway, one of Them wandered over to check out the socks as I tried them on said tootsies. She told me she'd tried knitting socks but was too frustrated to finish. I brandished the Magic Loop booklet declaring, unequivocally, that this was the booklet to get ~ she'd be knitting socks in no time and not only for herself and family, but also the cat. Now maybe they'll let me join Their stitch and bitch. Apparently, I was glossed over in the recruiting process despite indicating that I'd love to create a knitting/spinning/crochet klatsch with some other handy like-minded folk. I guess I'm just a Lone Knitter headed off into the sunset on my trusty steed with my green and purple striped feet spreading the Good Word about an easier way to knit socks.

Now . . . I have ALL of this unspun wool sitting on my Kitchen Comfy Chair (I haven't been able to sit in my favorite chair for a week now). As I walk by to get dinner ingredients, the Pile winks at me, inticing me to stop what I'm doing for some touchy-feely. When I go for that healthy, cleansing drink of water, the Pile invites me to make wooly plans to leave my family and head for the hills with nothing but a spinning wheel and a Lazy Kate. As I'm brewing my tea, the Pile pleads with me to turn it into something luxurious and fantastic. How can I walk by and not comply? What the Pile needs to know is that I have this Mohair on the side that's been waiting to be spun since summer. It's a nicely dyed rosey-greeny colored bit of fiber I got from the Knittingsmith during the Dry Fiber times before I got the the Sheep & Wool. In this, I am a One Wool Woman ~ I'll finish this roving first before tickling my fingers with the new stuff. It's the Right Thing to do. Commitment is so demanding! Soon, my precious . . .

Oh, and one more thing, I may be a bit late on the uptake, but I'm loving the latest Tori Amos CD (did I spell that right?), "The Beekeeper." For three days now I've turned the boom box on to Play and then Repeat listening to Tori's haunting voice until the cows ~ or rather, the children ~ come home. On the same day that was purchased I also got some older Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Freaky Styley" with P-Funk's, George Clinton. Delicious music!

Errata: I'd once posted that Cait Johnson's "Cooking Like a Goddess" had been reprinted as "Witch in the Kitchen." It would appear, by the looks of Amazon dot com, that I was wrong and stand (or sit and spin) corrected.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Sheep & Wool at Rhinebeck!

After some morning visits and drop-offs, I made it to the Sheep & Wool in Rhinebeck. A planetary alignment ensuring that I had money and a working vehicle at my disposal made it all possible. For three years I hadn't been able to get to the Festival, my only source for unspun wool, due to cash flow or auto troubles. Finally, my penance had paid off! Even though I got there four hours before the festival would end, there was still plenty of wool to spare for purchase. After losing my mind in a colorful stand of handspun, I got back on track to purchasing what I usually can't get in the local shop ~ roving and batts. At one time, I'd have been happy purchasing fleece, cleaning it myself, etc. But on this trip, I wanted stuff prepped for spinning with colors, thank you. Once I ran out of cash, I just cruised the rest of the joint snagging cards of venders with dot coms. I figure if I've seen their merchandise and liked it, it would be safe to purchase over the internet in the inevitable fiberless future.

Rather than doing an arm-sweep cleaning of the dining room table filled with recent Star Wars gifts for Ian, I decided to include them. So here's some of the wool I bought with a portion of the Star Wars ensemble.

Here, the gun ship Clone Troopers are guarding the latest shipment ~ an addition to the yarn stash. Mostly handspun, hand-dyed (could have been foot-dyed, I don't know) sheep wool and some of it was some angora mix. This is the only time I lost my head at the Sheep & Wool.



















In this scene, the Trade Federation is ready to talk turkey with the Republic on a fun deal of $10 per hand-dyed wool top roving from Nick's Meadow Farm. It's one of my usual stops at the Sheep & Wool ~ I have yet to be disappointed.

Obi Wan Kenobi bravely defends the mohair/wool blend from Clone Troopers. (The Wool Cats were still napping from their all-nighters.)



Jabba is gorging himself on this delicious dyed mohair. Tom, Bennie and I were allowed to pick out any color we wanted from a wide array of locks ~ like kids in a candy shop!

This is a skein I bought for Bennie's yarn stash with Luminara fending off the Empire. Now before I get any comments about the disparity in amount of added yarn between my stash and my daughter's, let me say in my own defense ~ it's every knitter for themselves! This is an angora blend, by the way.

Much appreciation to Tom Geithner for technical notes and who's who in the production of this photo shoot.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rules Out the Window or Ian's Birthday

Since this was an All-Boy Sleepover, I kept the rules simple and concise:

1) Do not eat the hamster.
2) Do not whack each other with the wide array of Intergalactic weaponry. (The light saber may have been a "more refined" weapon for ObiWan Kenobi, but in the hands of any male aged 9 and up, it's the perfect Plastic Whacking stick made all the more interesting and amusing when lights and sounds flicker upon contact with other light saber-bearing males.)

That being established, let's have a gander at the rules that eluded even Honorable Mention:

1) Thou shalt eat like a human being. We, as parents, spend so much time and energy teaching our children correct behavior in social situations. Table manners are the first to dissipate in the face of an All-Boy Dining Experience. Seafood becomes the favorite word as gaping maws display partially masticated Sesame Chicken and rice. Belching is not only an occurrance, it is encouraged and fueled by carbonated beverages of all kinds. (Although, I now have it on good authority that rootbeer is by far the best material for burping.) Reciting the alphabet in Belch-ese is practiced with great gusto. Flatulent activity also gains points, especially if delivered in the proper tone and timbre.

2) Thou shalt flush and wash thy hands. Okay, that aside, let's discuss Aim. One would think that when approaching a target roughly 12"-14" in diameter, the ability to direct one's aim at 6" away should be dead on. Au contraire! 9-year-old boys have better luck hitting the proverbial broad side of the barn. (I rather wish I had a barn right now ~ clean-up wouldn't be such an issue.) Now that my bathroom resembles a road-side restroom, the bushes are becoming an attractive option.

3) Thou shalt not dispense Wedgies. 'Nough said.

And the Queen Mother of All Rules that left the building . . .

4) Thou shalt commence slumber at a reasonable hour. We need to modify the term "Sleep Over." No one ever sleeps over anything. In fact, the hosting parents get the least amount of sleep and are seen the next day in a coffee-induced zombie-like state dragging reddened eyeballs and their baggage on the floor. Having imbibed coffee does little to help this state ~ only a proper nap followed by more sleep is the cure. No, "Sleep Over" needs desperately to be redefined. A more appropriate term might be "Boys-Up-All-Night-Making-Disgusting-Noises & Smells Over," or "Perpetual-Gaming Over," or a "Snigger-All-Night Over." I can attest with a fair amount of certainty, that the Sandman gives "Sleep Overs" a wide berth.

Nonetheless, despite the Missing Rules, Ian had a memorable birthday party with four of his Best Buddies and his older brother. And, really, that's just what any kid turning 9 years old needs: memories to bank on when see-food and belching are socially unacceptable, accuracy of aim increases, Wedgies occur naturally in embarassing situations, and sleep becomes sacred. I'm happy to report there were no injuries . . . Wait. I take that back. The assault on my living room isn't pretty and it may take the bedroom a week to recover. The cats are lining up for double doses of nip and the rabbits are flopped over in nervous ticks and exhaustion. The only critter seemingly unphased by the All-nighter is Strawberry the Hamster.

Later this afternoon, we will be going to the theater, buying tickets and popcorn and probably slumbering through "Wallace and Grommet." Therefore, I won't be able to tell you one thing about the movie.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gross Anatomy

I've thrown out my back. That statement could mean one of two things 1) someone inadvertantly tossed my spine into the bin without looking between the newspapers (also the Black Hole for homework and other important documents ~ it's a theory I'm working on) or 2) I've done something completely mindless and stupid resulting in an injury to my sacroiliac. I wish I could state that I was having fun, doing the Twist or the Mashed Potato while imbibing an Apple Martini when my spine decided to leave the room, but I wasn't. My aching back is a result of House Cleaning ~ an over-rated, odious, repetitive activity. It's bad enough my Inner Bohemian Artist retreats to the furthest depths of my mind at the thought of vacuuming, but to spend the rest of the week limping around like Peg-Leg Pete due to one lousy day of cleaning is just pathetic. And then it makes me feel all the more freakish about . . . y'know . . . getting old. All I did was move an air conditioner. By myself. To ask for help means that I'd have to wait two weeks which drives me bananas. Nothing worse than having an air conditioner leering at one through an open window long past summer. Actually, there is something worse: It's when all five of one's able-bodied cats (one feline is so old she can be carbon dated) have discovered the hole on one side of the leering air conditioner and have been using that egress since then to drag in a few new-found buddies like Mr. Mole or Ms. Chipmunk and how about good ol' Master Chickadee? Sometimes, I just find barely identifiable parts ~ none of which I can use for dinner. So, it makes me feel old that I'd have to request assistance for something I could easily move on my own when I was twenty. Maybe I could decorate it for the holidays. Jack O' Lanterns for Halloween, lights for Christmas, Easter eggs for . . . well . . . Easter.

In order to get on the mend, I've spent the day puttering and knitting and reading. Not sitting, lying or standing for too long. I need to be in shape for the Friday Night Chinese Dinner/Theater Sleep Over for Ian's 9th birthday with FOUR EXTRA boys. (Did I not mention I'd sold my soul to get to the Sheep & Wool this Sunday? The deal is sealed. Anyone else who has made similar arrangements to attend can meet me later in the Underworld. I'll be wearing the green and purple striped socks. BYOK ~ Bring Your Own Knitting. Oh, wait, we'll be in Hell. Nevermind.) As testoscerone levels will be abnormally high in this humble abode, Bennie will be camping out at Kirsten's with Jade in a more girl-friendly atmosphere. Then we all go to the movies Saturday. "Wallace and Grommet." Should be a hoot.

Now, as I've sat long enough, I need to go lean against something and heat up dinner. I think we'll just have frozen peas.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Odds and Ends

Ah, it's been too long! One Malabrigo sock is finished and the other is begun. The pattern from Spinderella's worked out fine; I just had a little more decreasing to do at the gussets. All in all the One Sock (the One Sock to Rule Them All) fits quite well. I think even Frodo, our wooly-footed hobbit fellow, would appreciate them. I know Gandalf wouldn't mind. Do Ents wear socks when we're not looking? Not one of my cats was available for the shoot. I had to settle for the dining room table. But there you have it.

Also, I've declared the Butterfly Madonna finis. Artists can do that. Just call something done ~ stick it with a fork and serve it up. So . . . I'm done. Time to move on to the next thing.

I would have preferred posting a photo of an installed window unscathed, but alas thanks to some-inconsiderate-one, all I have is a future claims shot. It was nice before that someone jammed a metal rod through the Very Expensive Double-Paned (or is that ~ Pain?) Window. We've been assured by the manufacturer that it can be replaced (for a nominal fee, of course) and that these things occur frequently on job sites. Well, I mean, the nerve! If anyone had a clue as to how far we've come, instead of vandalizing the window they would have dropped to their knees and did a few Hail Marys and Beatitudes, offered up a sacrifice or something. (Can that be done in the same sentence? On this subject, I admit to complete ignorance. So much for that Theology degree I was thinking about.)

On the up side, I might just make it to the Sheep & Wool this weekend. More on that later, I have a few details to tidy up with the Devil on the sale of my soul to make it happen. I think the closing is this Friday.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who Says This is a Day Off?

My children are home from school today. Holiday ~ one inserted inconveniently during the week. I don't mind them much if they're attached to a weekend. A few days of unshowered, coffeed bliss is fine, but a Tuesday off twixt Monday and Wednesday school days is just dumb. Superintendents ~ can't live with them, can't eat them for breakfast (and why would anyone want to anyway; they're generally quite gamey). Next week is looking much the same with a holiday on Thursday, after a three-day weekend (which, as I mentioned, I can deal with). I suggest we do a straight run of all the holidays and then just let school stay open. Get Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas done and cleaned up in the month of September and be done with it. Let these little niggling Colombus Day-like holidays fall to the wayside ~ at most, they're good for White Sales.

Enough of that . . .

Seen here is Jango sporting a sock-in-progress using Malabrigo Merino single-spun wool in Hollyhock and Green Spark, alternating stripes. (The Inspiration: the striped socks of the Wicked Witch of the East (?) with the house unceremoniously dropped on her in The Wizard of Oz. Great pair of pins until they began to shrivel and curl ~ she must have done yoga. And can Glinda please come do my dishes?) The needles are #4 circulars, the Turbo kind. I have no idea what the guage is (I rarely do). The shank is made using Spinderella's Slouch Socks pattern (http://www.spinderellas.com/patterns/slouch.html) modified for the Magic Loop. Once at the heel flap, I reverted to the Magic Loop instructions and am now in the process of working the gusset decreases. It is at this point that I'm winging it and hoping I remember the process when knitting the other sock. Well . . . who says socks have to match perfectly anyway? I could be making an artisitic statement here. The point is, this stuff knits up like buttah! Really, the wool isn't spun, more like very fine roving. All squishy and soft like Wonder Bread, but better quality.

As I was taking these photos, Ian, observing the Day Off in tighty whities, asked if he could be included in the photos since I was using his indignant cat as a prop for the sock. That would be an unequivocal NO, Ian. Now, for the love of little green frogs, get dressed!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

24

As I was in Uttanasana gazing at my toe jam yesterday, I realized that today would be the day that Dirk and I met 24 years ago. We met at college (oh, too cliche). I picked him up. I let him know that I'd bring him back to his car at the college parking lot the next day. He respectfully declined ~ probably for his own safety if for no other reason. I did walk with him to his next class and for half a second, we both leaned in for the quick comfortable peck that veteran couples utilize on departure. It was as if we'd done it a thousand times before, we were just picking up from somewhere and some time else; just another day. I think we knew then that we would mate for life like wolves or swans.

I used to believe in that whole Soul Mate thing and wondered if this person was mine. Then I realized that if we all met our Soul Mates then we wouldn't learn a blessed thing in our life times. We're meant to be with who we're meant to be with for the time we're meant to be with them. (Are ya with me?) Each relationship is a platform for learning about ourselves and the world. Each relationship is precious. (I am in NO WAY speaking for anyone who has gone through abusive situations. I haven't had that experience and wouldn't dare to suggest that abuse, in any form, is an educational one.)

So, we've done more than half our lives together. We have three wonderful kids between us. We're continuing to build a house and a life together. It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, but it's been a lot of fun. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm looking forward to more fun . . . and laundry.

To celebrate, we're installing more windows. I have my Malabrigo yarn wound and ready to go for a pair of funky socks. I might be inviting disaster (bring it on), but I'm going to hazard another modified pattern. More on the technical notes later.

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Tempest and the Blue Socks

It was a Shakespearean tragi-comedy of sorts yesterday afternoon. Prospero (aka Dirk, Significant Other) was obsessed with roofing tarps. They were not in place. The wind (which he may or may not have conjured) had flipped and twisted them in a crazy, useless way preventing the house from staying dry during down pours. At that moment, along with the tempestuous Wind, came the Rain. And so, Prospero, hoisted himself into his Snorkel Lift (bought used a few years ago at a good price) and went to battle the Elements. I, Ariel (aka Me, Silly Person at the Bottom), had the task of helping to hoist Prospero up and down at his command ~ either a thumbs up or down ~ with a nail pressing into the appropriate thingy to make the lift go up or down, because the Up and Down controls in the bucket panel had gone on vacation ~ permanently. (At least they're smart. Side-to-Side has yet to join them in Aruba. Let's not discuss the over-worked boom extension controls.) Prospero, with hammer in hand, in the driving rain, about 30 feet or more off the ground, wrestled with the wind and the tarps, taming every shrewish square inch he could get his hands on. Ariel stood about getting soaked and squinting up through the rain drops awaiting the next command. All was going fairly well despite the weather until Prospero hit a nest of bees. At that point, there was much flailing and hat waving to drive off the swarm while new commands were being issued haphazardly for Ariel get away from the Up and Down controls because Prospero was eager to use the Side-to-Side controls in the bucket. Although Ariel knew better, knew that Prospero ought to come down and get some Benedryl as soon as possible, she watched on annoyed as he continued with much ado about nothing.

Final Act: After a final thumbs-down, Prospero descends by way of Snorkel Lift (with the assistance of Ariel, of course) looking like Popeye. Ariel drives Prospero home to Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, grilled cheese and two Benedryl. Prospero then drifts off to an antihistamine-induced slumber while Ariel gets back to her day. Much to her chagrin, the sun is shining.

The End.

At least, Prospero got enjoy his socks while recuperating from bee stings.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Going In-seine

Yesterday, Dirk and I joined Haldane's 4th Grade classes on a field trip to Little Stoney Point on the Hudson River for seining. "What the heck is seining?" you might very well ask ~ and you'd be in your right mind to. It's when a couple of people take a seine (net) and stand in uncomfortably cold water up to their waists (as much an issue for women as well as men, I can assure you) and catch fish. We were land lubbers. I tried to keep Ian in the same condition, but you know boys, water and dirt ~ they're all just made to go together. Scientific fact. Read it somewhere. We were lucky to have a glorious day with sunshine and balmy breezes. The kids spent time at different stations identifying critters or cleaning the beach or scavenging for the hunt. They were also supposed to write haiku, but time was short. (I love haiku!) Besides, when there is a wealth of dirt and water lying about, as a kid, you don't want to wax eloquent about it, you want to get in it. Up to your waist, if possible.

So here's a teacher and a parent seining . . .

A blue crab was unwittingly caught . . .

And Ian had a chance to catch his own little blue crab. He really wanted to take it home, but we have enough animals at home. And only two out of four species cook up well with a decent sauce. (Haven't found a recipe for Cat to save my life.) The only way I'd let this fellow in is if he was accompanied with drawn butter and lemon.

Leaving on a note of something completely unrelated, but very important: the blue socks are done. Time to play with the good stuff! I tried to get pictures of the finished product, but as soon as they left the needles they were on the recipient's feet. I'll try to catch them at a still moment during football.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Altars and Butt Paintings

I have finally gessoed over the Butt Painting featured from summer. As you can see, I have it drying in a perfectly inappropriate place ~ just right for one of the cats to add their little paw-print signatures. Someday my Studio will be done. For now, it's the kitchen. The Butterfly Madonna is minding the situation until I get the second coat on (we're still tacky). Now I'll just need to paint something up. An artist's work is never done ~ even if it's just meatloaf (which I made early today to manage the Jeet Kune Do rush). Amazing how a blank canvas encourages all Visions to quietly tip-toe out of the room, snickering. Makes being a Visionary Artist a very elusive task. I start by looking under the couch where a greater portion of my Dust Bunnies live. They're usually uncooperative as to the whereabouts of said Visions, so I move to the refrigerator to see what's happening there. Can you say "Comfort Food?" Better to peel potatoes, I suppose ~ adds to the Angst.

On my screen desktop, I have a picture of an alter I'd set up five years ago (ouch). It's something I enjoy seeing when I come to the computer to surf, write, crop photos or play Solitaire. It's been that long since I've set up a decent altar. Oh, I've got the one in the bedroom that I forget to sit at everyday. And then I have the Crate Box Altar that is in the living room ~ it's sort of my working altar. That space has moved with me two times since its inception. I've also just set up a Kitchen Altar where I light a candle to any house-y deity helping me cook that night (I think it's Isis tonight ~ need to check my calendar). On this altar I set an amulet from Amulets of the Goddess made by Nancy Blair to strike the tone, so to speak.

For this portion of the planet, we're turning in. If I had my druthers, I'd hibernate. But society forces us to bundle up and go out. The point is that in Turning In, it's time to make inside beautiful, to make the Sacred Space. Otherwise, one suffers Cabin Fever by November. It isn't like being outdoors where, unless there's a nasty land fill nearby, everything feels alive and Sacred. So, I'm aching to make really a big fat altar to the Art of Making a Big Fat Altar ~ it's just something I haven't done in so long. Yet another yen.

In the meantime, I shall slog on with the remainder of the Denim Wool-Ease socks. (Yes, I'm still at the toe. Pathetic, really.) I leave you with an eye toward Big Fat Altars and Malabrigo Merino. Oh, and one less Butt Painting.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

I've just returned from my very first Girl Scout/Brownie Leader/Co-Leader meeting (so many slashes, so little time). I signed on as Co-Leader to Bennie's local Brownie Troop. I took my time carefully considering the consequences, but decided it was something I could do with and for my daughter. My offerings to the meeting were a trip to the local Cat Sanctuary where the girls could sit and 'socialize' with the cats waiting to be adopted (no adoptions necessary ~ just handling and playing, maybe a cup of tea ~ good for the Manners Badge) and knitting at a March camp-out. The latter already seems more daunting than the former. I know I could hang out all day with cats. Hands down. Teaching 18 girls how to cast on and knit ~ well, that's another matter. It might require two Prozacs and a call to the doctor in the morning. At least a snifter of brandy . . . Well, as I like bridges so much, I'll just wait until I cross this one. (So many bridges, so little time.)

Meanwhile, back at the Plantation, there are two Large windows installed in our house. You'd think I'd never saw windows in my life. It's really weird looking through windows in 1/34 of window holes in a place that, up until that moment, resembled an oversized tree fort. I'm now painfully aware of how careful we need to be on site because the two windows that are installed come to so much money even God would blanche. A broken window now would easily cause an aneurysm, nevermind the Neverending Rant. Spilt milk, it ain't! I hope to post pics of these bits of happiness and progress in the next few days.

Fibery Notes: Blue Wool-Ease socks almost done. Soon, Malabrigo Madness. For now, back to the Plantation where I can finish them socks . . . Maybe.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Homeless Skeins Adopted

It all started with a trip to the store to get my daughter an analgesic ~ she's a bit feverish ~ when I decided to stop in at the local yarn shop, Knittingsmith. Sometimes, I like to stop in and check out the sale stuff, see what I can get for $4.00 a ball, and chat with the proprietor. She knows I like to spin and will gladly take dyed mohair roving off her hands, but she didn't have any. After showing me some pricey sock yarn, she took me to the wall where this lovely stuff was. A kettle-dyed merino, single-spun yarn. Just delicious! And the price wasn't too shabby either, about $10.00 a 215-yard skein. The company name is Malabrigo with a dot com of www.malabrigo.com, by golly. (The site is in another language though. Spanish?) The colors I chose are Garnet and Red Pearl. Naturally, there are no immediate plans for these skeins so they can go play amongst the other yarns in the stash until some creative flash hits me.

Secret daydream: I sometimes wish I could work in a yarn shop. My other secret daydream is to sling hash in a Texas diner with big hair and chewing gum like Vera in that '70's show "Alice." I don't know where that one came from, don't ask.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Boys Get Belted

Tom and Ian got their stripe and belt in Jeet Kune Do today. Tom is now sporting a blue belt in classes and Ian has a stripe on his green. Getting through the Rainbow of Belts, Tom has two belts (with stripes in between) to get to black and then he may be eligible for the adult classes (with the adult prices). But that is a couple of years away.

Sifu Torres has been studying and teaching Bruce Lee's style of Jeet Kune Do for a heck of a long time. Tom has been in his classes since 2nd Grade. Ian had to wait until he was six before he could join. There are many days, he practices Jeet Kune Don't ~ he isn't as focused as Tom, but he passes the tests. Go figure. So here are the Boys looking all snappy and Jeet Kune Do trendy.

And what would an evening at Jeet Kune Do classes be without Rabbit Adoption? I have fun in weird ways. I was approached by another JKD parent the week before ~ "You got a rabbit. You want another?" I must have a tatoo on my forehead that says, "Will adopt wayward animals. Please inquire within." So we have another rabbit. He came to us named Sweetheart (they thought it might be a girl at the time), but we've renamed him Skittles in the hopes of regaining some dignity as a lop-earred buck. Smudge and Skittles are still testing each other out in separate domiciles. I'd like to take them out for a beer and let them get to know each other, but I suspect neither of them drink. What else could I do to get these fellows to get along and get over the disappointment that neither of them is a doe? Perhaps if I could set a common goal, like avoiding the stew pot. It would give them something to rally against . . . And so here is Sweetheart/Skittles in the furtive parking-lot hand off.

Happiness is a two-bunny home!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Artistic Pretension

Sometimes it's necessary to wake up in the morning and declare, if only internally, that you are an Artist and just behave like one. Having had it up to the gills with waiting for the Right Time to do my crazy art stuff, I pretended I was a Bohemian Artist setting out on her play date of creation. I fed All Creatures Great and Small in the abode and then took over the kitchen table to work on the Butterfly Madonna. I mentally cast Sacred Artistic Space to disperse distractions and interruptions. I made sure my coffee was the perfect temperature. I made believe that I couldn't work in shoddy conditions and changed the atmosphere necessary to create with music by Libana. I even avoided showering (okay, too much info ~ but my passions lie with working on the piece, not personal hygiene; I'll be passionate about scrubbing my butt later). The point is to make the time for Me because someone else would be more than happy to take my time and do something less than desirable with it. There are a million ways to replenish money/abundance ~ Time is precious and you don't get it back.

Enough existential angst, here's the Madonna as done so far. She has changed much since last posted. Yesterday, I strung beads on wire, then tapped those into place on the piece with brass linoleum brads. Mixed media, it's not just for breakfast anymore!

When I had to get out of the house to work on the other house (and to get the kids out of my hair), I trucked all my beads, wires and nippers with me. A table was set up in my future studio and I continued to play. I had to stop a couple of times to help Dirk with the lift, but it wasn't often enough to bother me. It was good to work in that space ~ I felt like I was setting Creative Precedence energetically.

That was yesterday. Today, I am Master Chef. The kitchen table is set like an altar with the ingredients necessary to make Apple-Squash Soup from Cait Johnson's scrumptious seasonal cookbook Cooking Like a Goddess (since reprinted/retitled as Witch in the Kitchen). Time to don the Sacred Apron and get started!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

We Are Now Seven


Today is Bennie's Seventh Birthday. Daddy's Princess is growing strong and fast (mostly legs). Mommy's Sweet Pea is intelligent and creative. Her brothers have their criticisms and different labels, but they'll be the first to let someone have it if she's being messed with. All of which warms the cockles of a mother's heart. Bennie was lavished with money and gifts ~ she went shopping with Nani for four (4) hours. We now have a Barbie Pet Center, another Build-A-Bear critter (with the appropriate clothing and accessories), and Polly Pockets out the ying. And I just cleaned out the kids' room! Oh well . . . I like the Barbie thing. I get to play with it while she's at school.

A couple of weeks earlier, we tossed the Big Bash Party at the Chuck E. Cheese's. I didn't want to burden parents with the first week of school AND a birthday present at the same time. It's enough to keep your head straight shopping for school supplies nevermind a gift for someone else's kid. Bennie and the Girls (they didn't qualify as Jets) partied for an hour and half, boogeying down with Chuck himself, and ate the most sugar-laden cake I've ever laid tongue on. It was games and tickets and the Ultimate Shopping for drek at the ticket counter. Hey, the pizza was okay. What is priceless was the big smile on Bennie's face playing and laughing with her friends in the Dairy Product Rodent wonderland.


And here she is, the Queen of the Ball a couple of weeks earlier. May she be blessed with many more of these days. She is certainly a blessing and a miracle to us.

Happy Birthday, Bennie!