Monday, February 28, 2005

Knit 1 purl 1... knit 2 purl 2

Before I got sick I'd gotten restless doing endless knit stitch on my purse so I figured out how to purl, and began a new row with knit 1, purl 1. After two rows of that (which I guess is a rib for two rows, LOL), I decided to knit into the purls and purl into the knits, which turns out to be seed stitch a/k/a moss stitch. I like it. I did a lot of frogging to fix mistakes during "Patton," 'cause I'd never seen the movie before and it kept me watching!

Last night I sat down for the Oscars and did a few more rows; then I switched to making blocks of four stitches: k2p2 for two rows, matching up, then p2k2 for two rows, matching up. I guess that's the checkerboard stitch. I like it, too.

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I also had a suspicion that I was wrapping my purl stitches wrong, so I looked it up on the Web. Yep, had to fix that. I was practicing the correct wrap in the last few rows of seed stitch, and on from there. I'm teaching myself continental knitting because I like holding the yarn in my left hand for some reason. No, I'm not left handed. Hmm.

By the middle of the Oscars I was sort of discovering a needle "dance" as I knit and purled along -- catching the yarn with my needle, bringing it through, at the right time moving the yarn across to purl (or knit), etc. Very cool.

I think the purse is long enough to finish the second top with the handle. The garter stitch (all knit stitch) on the first side seems much stretchier; we'll see how this all turns out, but it's been fun to make the purse into my own little sampler as I learn the basic stitches!

Friday, February 25, 2005


I'm spending the day in the company of my husband and kids, nibbling on saltines and grateful to be keeping them down! Late yesterday evening I started throwing up ("et cetera"), and dear husband reported that Son1 started the same only a few minutes later. Sigh. That went on most of the night.

Stalwart dear husband has been washing lots of laundry (Son1 was asleep in bed when his started up), slept downstairs on the sofa to be closer to Son1, stayed home from work, and now that everything has settled down he is hanging out with the kids and playing a GameCube game. I was headed out of town for an overnight today/tonight -- NOT! Good thing that yesterday I made lots of bread, and baked oatmeal, and a big batch of dear husband's favorite Mexican rice (because I was going to be away!).

We think dear husband had the same thing in a different form (dizzy, queasy, slept all day) last Saturday, and Son2 definitely had this on Tuesday. I think our family might be done with it?!?

I just had to share :)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Love my desktop wallpaper

This heavenly picture is the Atomic handdyed and handspun yarn currently available at Yowza! I tiled it as my desktop wallpaper so I can really feast my eyes on it.

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Ahoy, me mateys!

The pirate boys at our recent pirate birthday party... My boys are at the far left and far right. Arrrr!
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The pirate captain and his pirate cake!
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I own handknit socks -- thanks, Mom!

I've been looking at handknit sock examples on blogs and on commercial sites, and yesterday I got a shock: I saw a pair of socks that I own! Apparently the yarn is a self-patterning deal, called (something something mumble) Jacquard -- I forgot to bookmark the Web page. Last year my mom gave me two pair of socks, one pair in this pattern, I mean yarn, and one pair in another yarn. I don't know where she bought them, but how cool to have handknit socks.

I've been looking at the actual design of each pair today; they're two different designs. I wore one of each today so I could take a picture. (Notice the book Knit Socks! in the background...) The one on my right foot is the "shock of recognition" sock, with narrow ribbing on the leg that buckles where it stops at the ankle, and similar ribbing down the back of the heel. The other sock has wider ribbing on the leg that continues down the top of the foot, and narrow ribbing down the back of the heel. I much prefer the colors of the right-hand sock; all winter long I've been wishing I had more violet and deep blue clothing to go with these particular socks, heehee. Thanks, Mom!!

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Vomitrocious, and a knitting moment

Who is it who says "vomitrocious"? Is it Francine in the Arthur cartoons on PBS? Well, that was our day yesterday. Son2, just turned 5, spent the day with a tummy ache and throwing up. Mostly dry heaves after the first couple of hours. Poor kiddo. This morning we're easing him onto solid food. I'm tuckered out just like he was yesterday; he's a chipper guy today -- you can really tell he feels better AND has a decent amount of liquid in him at last. We may spend some serious time on the sofa together, wrapped up in a blanket and hanging out.

Last night I adding purling to my knitting repertoire -- I think. I'd read a bunch of descriptions and decided to knit 1, purl 1 for the bottom of my bag/little purse. It's fun! After the casting off for the handle, I began to see how fun it might be to work fancy stitches, moving stitches around between the two needles and doing various things with the working yarn, etc. Indeed, last night was fun! I did discover I needed to mumble "purl" "knit" "purl" "knit" to keep myself focused on what I was doing and where the working yarn needed to be. I see moss stitch and that checkerboard thing and cabling in the dim distance, whee!

Posted by Hello Current "rag bag" status :)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

She knits!

My first knitting project in 15 years! And my first finished knitting project ever!
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On that retreat-like overnight in early February I made this scarf from these two items. I made it wider than recommended because I wanted to, and shorter because that's when I ran out of the first half-skein ball of the deep orange/red eyelash and I decided it was a nice length. The skein is Lion Brand Homespun in Corinthian 345, and the ball of red eyelash yarn is of unknown origin. The organizer split the eyelash skeins in half, so I got two half-skein balls without the label, oh well. I've been wearing the scarf ever since, happy happy joy joy!

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I love this scarf! It's the same main yarn as my first (Lion Brand Homespun in Corinthian 345), but with blue eyelash yarn (Yarn Bee Wild Child in chambray) from the project stash given to me by another retreat member. She was definitely NOT bitten by the knitting bug. I really like this combination! Eight stitches across, and it won't be a very long scarf because I'm running out of eyelash. I don't mind at all; I have several well-loved handwoven LONG scarves, so short is nice and new for me.

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This is my choice for a post-scarf beginner project. It's going to be a little purse/bag, in a yarn chosen so I can actually SEE my stitches and what I'm doing. It's 2/3 cotton, 1/3 acrylic, and it definitely feels cottony but still stretches enough so I'm not fighting it all the time. It's a slightly warmer color than in the photo -- a yellow that's nearly pale peach. I wouldn't wear this color as a top (shudder) but would be happy to enjoy it as a little spring bag.

That hole will be the handle on one side. Two strands of Cabana, and I can already see it'll be less chunky than the original Rag Bag at Georgia's onmymind blog. Maybe I'll just have to make another!

Writing about Holy Week

I had fun writing this up just now for my church's March newsletter. This is a fairly "high church" Episcopal church, so we're into this stuff. Slightly edited to drop all church-specific refs :)

Holy Week and Easter at my church

Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, March 20, includes remembrance of Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and moves on to a Gospel reading that looks ahead to Christ's passion -- his death on the cross.

Confession and the rite of reconciliation (Book of Common Prayer p. 446) are available with Fr. --- during Holy Week by appointment, for those interested.

The ancient service of Tenebrae will take place on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 23, in the evening. This service originated in the 8th century, based on monastic times of prayer, and includes the gradual extinguishing of many candles, the only source of light.

On Maundy Thursday, March 24, in the evening, St.--'s will celebrate the last Holy Eucharist until the Easter celebrations, with the traditional foot washing as part of the service. The service will be followed directly by stripping of the altar and removal of the consecrated elements to the chapel, where the overnight vigil will begin.

Good Friday, the day we commemorate Christ's crucifixion, has a special focus between noon and 3 pm, the hours Christ was on the cross. At noon the stations of the cross, through which we remember Christ's path to the cross that day, will take place in and around the church. At 1 pm, the Great Litany will be said in the church (BCP p. 148). At 2 pm, the Daughters of the King will lead prayers for our church family, part of the Lenten parish prayer cycle. At 3 pm, the Liturgy for Good Friday (BCP p. 276) will take place.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting, suspended between Christ's passion on Good Friday and the celebration and joy of Easter.

The Great Vigil of Easter (BCP p. 285), one of the most ancient and joyous customs of the Church, begins [after dark] on Saturday, March 26, with the kindling and blessing of fire in the courtyard to light the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle will be carried into the church, water will be blessed, and the great salvation story will be told in a series of readings. The Vigil always includes either baptisms or a renewal of our baptismal vows, and the service gains momentum until the alleluias, not heard since Ash Wednesday, burst forth. Then the first Eucharist of Easter will be celebrated.

On Easter Day, Sunday, March 27, the joyful, celebratory services of the Sunday of the Resurrection will take place. Everyone is welcome to bring cut flowers for the flowering of the cross just before the services. St. --'s traditional Easter egg hunt and celebration will take place in the courtyard between the services. No Sunday school on Easter Day.

For home and family life in Holy Week, resources and ideas are available at parishioner [me]'s site, Holy Week, at Faith at Home.


That was fun! I even got to look up the likely dates for Tenebrae in a book I got once from the Liturgical Press at a great price, Fire and Light in the Western Triduum: Their Use at Tenebrae and at the Paschal Vigil, LOL!


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Windows open -- scents and sounds

I've been out and about today, using the car to get people to school, work, library, school, and (me) home. The weather is warm and springlike; yesterday was very warm, perhaps in the mid 70s F. After a very mild night last night, today it's in the mid 60s with the same clear, bright blue sky and gentle breezes as yesterday. This means windows open -- at home and in the car.

On the way home, perhaps because I was alone in the car after dropping Son2 off at school, I began to think about the unusual and unexpected scents I'd noticed so far today.

Cut wood as we drove by the new development down our street -- I wonder if it's due to the sun warming the wood framing on the six or seven apartment buildings being constructed.

Skunk from a road kill (sorry!). With the warmer temps, the animals seem to be on the move and the road count is definitely higher than zero, let's say.

Hot iron or steel, whatever railroad rails are made from. We cross the long-distance north-south train tracks through our town numerous times every day. Near one crossing a crew was standing around a foot-high metal cylinder that was perched on one rail, with flames coming out the bottom! A repair under way, I assumed. The scent made me think of iron smelting, and Son2 said it smelled just like paint. He was right, it did smell like tempera paint!

I also heard sounds. The traffic around me, more up close and personal than when the car windows are down. The wind rushing past the open car windows. Every time I got out of the car, I heard birds singing, and I hear them again through the open windows of the house. I can also hear people talking and kids playing at the park and playground behind our house.

I love spring and fall when the house is opened up after months of being closed up to keep warm in winter or cool in summer. And a beautiful, sunny day, to boot! The boys and I are definitely spending some time outside this afternoon.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Newsweek on "Mommy Madness"

Anybody read the cover feature in this week's Newsweek yet? Mommy Madness. Main article: The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Why it drives real women crazy. Secondary article: Moms Shouldn't Be Martyrs / The Good Enough Mother (by Anna Quindlen, whom I love and yet I quibble with some of what she says).

I'll just say that the statements and illustrations about "mad," "crazy", and "martyr" moms seem to be upper-middle-class and upper-class women trying to be perfect, high-achieving moms bringing up perfect, high-achieving children, especially in what sounds like high-powered environments such as higher-income suburbs of big cities.

Arrgh. That is so NOT the route I've taken, nor that of many of my friends and acquaintances. Maybe we're all just a century behind the power-mom thing here in Flyover Nation? I don't think so; there are simply Other Choices Available. Obviously I'm already mentally composing letters to the editor.

UPDATE: I'd read the print edition of Newsweek this evening after it arrived in our postal mail. There's an additional article in the Web edition that make this feature more balanced. Meet the Slacker Mommy. Whew.

Go read the feature and tell me what you think!

Paying it forward

Random, related thoughts on Social Security and whether it is SUPPOSED to be about "taking care of me" or, rather, here's a thought: "taking care of the destitute elderly and disabled."

I always thought of Social Security as participating in taking care of the generations ahead of us, and relying on those coming behind us to take care of us.

I don't see my money in SS as "my nest egg" at all.

All of the hullabaloo now about Social Security going bust means, for me, that by the time my time for SS comes around, I may have to fend for myself. Okay, I'll deal with that over the years as best I can.

I thought Social Security was created to provide something for the destitute elderly so they wouldn't starve or freeze to death.

What happened to feeling some responsibility, both individual and as a nation, toward those who cannot help themselves, who have the most meager of resources?

What happened to pay it forward? Providing help because we ought to?

What happened to acknowledging that everyone doesn't need Social Security income, but some people really do?

I don't get this whole "pull some of your money out and put it in your own personal investments to make a better return" -- that sounds like IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, mutual funds, all that kind of thing. We have access to that already, if we can spare the pennies. What's with the taking "my" money out to make a better return for MY retirement? Sounds like it would DESTROY a national SAFETY NET for people who really, really, really are going to freeze to death or starve to death unless we as a society give of our money to help.

Hello, it's not all about you.

Let's revise and reform Social Security, sure. But while we're at it, let's make sense out of it. Don't pay SS to people who don't have any real need for it. Do make people keep paying in to SS even if they make a ton of money (it's not about them). Do something to make prescription medications and health care truly affordable for those who don't have enough income to cover food, heat, and their maintenance drugs.

Stand up and be a country, be a nation that takes care of those of its citizens who really CANNOT pull themselves up by their bootstraps.


End rant.

Now, I'm not saying this was well thought out, rational, a structured argument, or any of that. Just some random, related thoughts...

Pirate party for our turning-5 boy!

Son2 turns five this week, and wanted an ocean-and-fish cake for his party, so I suggested a pirate party ('cause he has two Imaginext pirate ships and two pirate islands). It worked out great! The party was yesterday, mid-afternoon. In my mind, it was a little bit generic pirates, a little bit Captain Feathersword from the Wiggles, and a little bit Captain Hook from Peter Pan, LOL!

I worked with what we already had, as much as possible. Son2 has all of this wonderful Imaginext pirate ships, islands, skiffs, chests, pirates, alligator, and more, so we cleared the playroom of other toys and made it Pirate Playland. (The lack of toys impressed one of the moms, until I showed her the rest of everything stowed in the playroom closet!) We have an old wooden toybox with pirate stuff painted on it that was originally dear husband's father's toybox. Son1 has a wooden sword that he generously loaned to Son2 so he could be the Captain of his pirate party. We have fake gold coins. We have gummi fish and gummi sharks that Grandma C sent recently.

At a party store I bought bead necklaces, paper pirate hats, a heavyweight paper pirate flag, ocean-theme paper napkins, and a special kerchief-look skull-and-crossbones pirate hat for the birthday pirate Captain. At a superstore I bought red fabric from the remnant bin to cut into sashes. I wanted to also have candy necklaces, but I couldn't figure out where to get them.

In a kids cookbook a while ago Son2 saw a blue-frosted sheet cake with fish made from gumdrops and requested it as his birthday party cake. So... I made a light-blue-frosted cake in a 9x13 pan and put on top some gummi fish and big gummi sharks. Then I added an Imaginext pirate skiff carrying a pirate and treasure chest, on a piece of plastic wrap so I didn't have to wash the skiff into food-safe cleanliness!

The paper pirate flag went up on the glass storm door at the front entryway, and pirate paper hats and red sashes were set out on the cloth-covered dining table amid a scattering of fake gold coins.

The pirate wooden toybox became a treasure chest, with an old sheet filling the bottom and making a nest for golden and copper bead necklaces, fake gold coins, and little snack baggies filled with gummi sharks and gummi fish. It would be guarded by a foot-long plastic alligator, but at first it was simply out of sight.

The kids came in, had their sashes tied on and their hats put on, and they went to play with the many little pirate figures and their big ships, an island, an alligator, little treasure chests, and skiffs.

When the play seemed to be winding down, Dear Husband and guests' moms conferred on where to hide the treasure chest and hid it, and I called the kids out to find (hide-and-seek style) the treasure chest. I'd set a kitchen timer to tick-tick-tick near the treasure chest (a la Captain Hook's clock-swallowing crocodile nemesis!) and told them they'd need to be super-quiet to hear this clue. They were intensely quiet for the, oh, 20 seconds until they found the treasure chest! They happily dug into the bead necklaces, fake gold coins, and gummi sharks and fish.

Next, time to open presents. One was a little football with fins, so afterward Dear Husband took them outside on the gorgeous, warm day for a little football fun. They came in for sweets: light the cake candles, sing the birthday song, blow out candles and dig into the cake and ice cream.

Finally, more play time. Somewhere in there we asked the roaming band of pirates if they knew any pirate talk, so we taught them: Arrrr! Avast, ye mateys! Ahoy, ye hearties! The crew of five-year-old pirates seemed a bit unwilling to break out in pirate talk, maybe because none of them were super comfortable (none knew the kids other than the birthday boy)? We parents had fun with pirate talk, though. I wish I'd thought up one or two more activities, maybe something at the beginning to help the kids get warmed up to each other, but it went pretty well.

Everybody went home with pirate sash and hat, bead necklaces, and fake coins. Everyone had eaten up their gummi critters by then, of course. Son1 and Son2 now have Pirate Gear -- a kerchief-look pirate hat, a paper pirate hat, a couple of red sashes, the rest of the bead necklaces and fake coins, and the pirate flag now on the closet door in their playroom. Ahoy, ye hearties!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sleep, glorious sleep

Tip for today: sleep is essential!

Last week I was soooo dragging down, and one of the things I vowed to do was get more sleep. I haven't been completely successful, but once I started getting more than seven hours of sleep I didn't feel so slogging-through-the-day tired. My personal need for sleep is eight hours a night, which means I have to pack myself off for bed promptly at night rather than dilly-dallying around. It is very much worth it, though, so I continue to aim for hitting the sack by 10:30 pm.

It would be quite wonderful if I could get enough rest to be able to get up easily at 6:45 am each morning. Dashing out of bed at 7:15 and zooming around to get kids fed and Son1 to school and me back home, when I'm not very awake or rested in the first place, brings me home around 8:15 uninterested in doing anything productive for another hour, at least. More sleep = being more active and a better start to the day? I wonder.

Of course, last night I turned out the light around 11:15? and the night before I lost track of time while I happily enjoyed Wife Swap comments at the forums... until 1 am. Then dear husband said, "um, hon, you're still up?!?" Eeeek!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Book stack changes

So here's the thing. I knit something from start to FINISH at the retreat last weekend, and therefore must borrow every book on knitting in the library system! Not quite, but... I just placed a bunch of holds online and we'll see what the books look like when I lay hands and eyes on them in a couple of days. For now, I got the knitting books that were on the library shelf last night, perused them last night and today, and will return them this afternoon. They were more in the inspiration and oooh, ahhh category, so turnaround is fast when I'm on a search-and-discovery mission like this.

I also picked up the Secrets of Angels and Demons, a book of in-depth essays about various topics in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons -- which is the next book in our MOMS Club book group. I borrowed The Bones of St. Peter based on a rave review I read somewhere. Of course I remember nothing now, except that it was highly, highly recommended and caught my eye.

A while ago I borrowed A Family of Value, by John Rosemond, to see what Rosemond is up to nowadays. It looks like an appeal specifically to the conservative religious right, which I'm not thrilled about. Nothing like narrowing your audience focus to lose some of us outside that focus. Anyway, I'll try to plug my mental ears and skip all of his typical screed against psychologist and parenting of the 60s and 70s. Been there, raised amid that, read his polemic in every book of his when I was a new parent, find it oh so tiresome. Usually I find plenty of good stuff in his actual parenting advice; we'll see how this more recent book is.

*I* plan to read Chasing Vermeer, a kids' art-history-mystery-and-math/logic story that looks very cool! Son1 can get to it after me, thankyouverymuch...

Son1 didn't really like the DK (Doring-Kindersley) book Children's Night Sky Atlas, but it's astronomy season with these lovely dark winter evenings, so I put in a library request for the National Audubon First Field Guide to the Night Sky and will pull out my own children/family/beginner astronomy and night sky books.

Oh! Time to open the library's online catalog again and request my favorite garden-work book, Caring for Perennials: What to do and when to do it, by Janet Macunovich (I need to own this book!). Reason? It's now late winter in the southern Great Plains, and in my twice-daily drive that takes me past an excellent local landscape designer's home, I see that he has cut back the winter foliage and cleaned up his front beds -- I've got to get cracking on mine!

Monday, February 07, 2005


You know the retreat is over when, on the drive home, you get news by cellphone that Son2 has hit the fireplace hearth with his jaw and dear husband is whisking him off to the urgent care center 'cause he's bleeding from a nice gash inside his mouth. That was Sunday afternoon, and my friend dropped me off at the emergency room, to which dear husband and Sons1and2 had been sent by the urgent care folks in case the gash ought to be stitched up under sedation. So, we all said hello to each other in the ER, and waited together as various medical folks checked in Son2, assessed him, and pronounced him okay to heal on his own without the assistance of stitches or whatever. Yay. Got home and heard from my friend, whose two little boys had begun battling a stomach virus (throwing up, etc.), thus welcoming her home in an oh-so-concrete way. We agreed that next time we come back from such a retreat it'll be stealthily, by cover of night perhaps, after all children are asleep. Maybe that would help?!? At least we're laughing, a lot, about this!

GREAT photos at MagnumPhotos of His Holiness (is that the right honorific?), Pope John Paul II, over the years. He looked amazingly youthful and lively in the 70s and early 80s -- I barely remember, so it's really neat to see these wonderful photos.

I did knit a scarf this weekend at the retreat. In daylight tomorrow I'll take a picture of it as well as the two fibers I knit together to make the scarf. I love, love, love it, and I plan to try starting another tonight or tomorrow. I want to learn better how to cast on.

I had a meeting at the library tonight, and afterward I got some recommendations from a children's librarian and came home with an armload of books for Son1 (to give him nice breaks from All Redwall All the Time) and for me. More details later.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Time for Vitamin D?

Today I realized that I'm starting to drag. As in drag down, get dragged down, slow down, slog along. If it's not cured by a couple of nights of at least eight hours of sleep, eating good food and drinking plenty of water, I'll buy some "stress" vitamins to catch up on my B-complex vitamins and such, and I'll have to kick myself outside to play with the kids or take them along on walks, regardless of the weather. That's the vitamin D thing. All this to avoid my mini-seasonal depression thing that I've successfully dodged the last several years and Really Don't Want to deal with again.

Sleep. Colorful veggies, complex carbs, protein, oranges, water. Good vitamins. Outdoor activity and sunlight.

I ought to feel better after a week of that. Hmm.