Monday, July 29, 2013

Wrapping My Head Around It and Chaos Theory...

This is the stuff of "Movie-of-the-Week" material. For those of you who have never known the joy of an external antenna and only 4 channels (that would be pre-cable days), the Movie of the Week was a big deal. 

And that's kind of where my family is at right now. Movie-of-the-Week material. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it, and I'm feeling as if I'm in the midst of an experiment in Chaos Theory.

There have always been 4 of us siblings. But now there's only 3.

This past Saturday, I had to break the news to my mother that her youngest child was dead. My youngest brother died 3 days prior to that (approximately) of a heart attack in his home. He was 49 - would've been 50 this weekend. 

I don't want to get into gory details and air all the family laundry. But you do need some history. In every family, there's the odd duck, and that was my baby brother. 

Frankly, he and I didn't get along. The family dynamic is difficult to describe. One parent an alcoholic, the other emotionally abusive and manipulative. It was not a pretty childhood. 

Those conditions made us all what we are today, though. In many ways, the die is set at childhood, and it's less "nature" than "nurture" in my opinion.

I don't know what went "wrong" in the family, but for some time, we were quite fractured. Some of that persisted into adulthood. It was never resolved between parents and children. It probably never will be.

There are the "unspoken" things. The things we as kids understand but we keep from our remaining parent. We all know that we're being played. It took us a while to figure that out, because it's a parent's job to be straight with you, right? Not necessarily. 

Anyway, my younger brother was that Odd Duck. And now, at not yet 50, he's not here. There will be a hole in the family regardless of the fact that there were times when we declared him totally useless. Regardless of the fact that it was just easier for me to not speak to him any more than was necessary. Regardless of the fact that most of the nephews thought he was a moron because he was mean to them. They all had enough respect to just blow off the behavior and move forward.

But the Chaos Theory thing is what I'm having difficulty with. Death is final. And there are processes and procedures. There really is no room for drama in the beginning. Save it. See, perhaps this is the viewpoint of the eldest child of a chronic alcoholic and an emotional abuser. It's my "job" to just keep paddling the canoe and moving toward a goal. I have to. It's the way I function.

But the Chaos Theory that is my remaining parent is insisting that this death be dealt with as if the sky is falling, the earth is going to collapse and nothing else is relevant. My remaining parent is, as the Victorians would put it, "overcome with grief." 

My theory is "jumped onto the Crazy Train." Maybe that's harsh. My remaining parent is trying to play the remaining 3 of us against each other, just when you'd think you'd want everyone to pull together. Well, we are together. We 3 siblings are united in trying to keep the drama at a minimum. The parent wants to be the center of attention, and will get to do that. Because of the way this parent functions, it'll be all the worker bees around the hive.

And here's my problem. I'm not fitting and not feeling it. Everyone has offered condolences, and I thank you. But I'm not sad. I'm not... anything. I'm sad for his kids. I'm sad for the fact that a parent has lost a child entirely too young and too suddenly. But I'm not sad that I lost a relationship, because there never was a relationship. I feel fake for accepting condolences, and I'm having to really bite my tongue and keep from saying, "Thanks but save it for someone else; we weren't close." 

People have told me that even though we were estranged, I'll feel it. Because the square is now a triangle. Strange, though. The triangle that has existed with us for so many years has always felt more stable than the square that we grew up with. 

I'm happy to have the kind of relationship with the other 2 that means we can call each other and say, "Ok, I heard ............. Now, what's the story?" because there always has been a story. And each of us only got one piece of it - never the same piece either.

I can't deal well with manipulative people. Just tell me what's going on. Just cut the drama, skip the hyperbole and let's get this problem solved or this issue addressed or just tell me what's needed. I don't deal with the vapors, the hysteria, the cunning and meanness that is manipulation of someone else against another. I just can't. I'm not wired that way. 

So it's going to be a week of tension and stress. I have learned that it's important, though it may seem cruel, to disengage. To keep neutral. To breathe away the tension. All of that will be in play this week. 

And then we'll cobble together what's left of the family. We will gather as parents with our own families, telling the kids that it's important to NOT be this dysfunctional. We will gather as siblings around our remaining parent and try to remember that a parent is a parent, regardless of the emotional fallout. 

We will gather as siblings among ourselves and reinforce the relationships that keep us standing upright and knowing that, for better or worse, we are here for each other in the rough times. We may not be the Waltons, we're not touchy-feely kind of folks. But there's a bedrock there, and I need to believe that at least with the 3 of us, the relationship transcends spouses, parental issues, all that. I don't know how to be eloquent right now. 

I do know that the triangle that is made up of the 3 of us is immune to the Chaos Theory that is now swirling around us. And right now, that's all I know.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Perhaps a Reboot?

I'm not looking to be the Yarn Harlot. Not even the Pioneer Woman. I'm just looking to exercise my writing chops, perhaps inject a little humor into someone's day, and natter on (and on and on...) about things I like, such as my dog, knitting, etc.

So I'm thinking of a reboot of sorts. Some sort of structure to The Blog. I think I tried this a while ago and it failed somewhat spectacularly when I just didn't blog for months on end...But I have been looking at what other folks are doing, and I like bits and pieces. And I prefer to adapt things to my own way of doing them. Who doesn't, right?

So I was thinking that perhaps each post should have ONE THING about knitting. Or maybe one specific day could be my "Randomly" day. I feel like I need to talk more about reading. It's seeming to me that this is generally a "knitting blog" which is fine but when you use The Google, you see about 20,500,000 entries for the term "knitting blog." Seriously. I just did it. 

But I'm not going to do that now. I'll probably start next week. I like the idea of "starting at the beginning" and technically, this being Saturday, it's the "end" of my workweek. So we shall see how this shakes out next week. I'm still committed to not losing sight of the blog. Maybe not a daily entry, but at least 3 times per week. 


As expected, nothing showed up on the 24-hour monitor. And because we have The Big Trip coming up, the doc didn't want to do a 30-day monitor. That would no doubt cause a crap-load of trouble with the TSA and its foreign equivalents. "No, seriously, here's a note from my doctor. It's a HEART MONITOR." 

When we get back, I'm to have an ultrasound for some reason: mostly so my doc can make sure things are doing what they're supposed to do.

In the meantime, he says, basically, mazel tov - have a wonderful trip. To my question about a tandem parasailing adventure, he said, "Even if you keeled over, it's not life-threatening, and there's a doctor in Bordeaux who's done more atrial ablations than anyone else. Ever. He's fantastic." 

Thanks, doc. So there's no problem with me strapping myself to a parasailing expert and flinging myself off a minor Alp, gliding along at thermals approximately 10,000 feet up. Gulp. 

Here's a video of what we're thinking of. Problem is, Hubby wants to do one at a higher elevation (go for it, dear - you've got excellent life insurance coverage), but he's thinking of us doing them on the same day. My idea was the lower elevation, mainly because I'm not all that physically fit lately, and I don't want to climb up the mountain! Which is a problem for 2 reasons: First, we end up in two totally different cities, and I'm not planning on taking my cell phone. I don't speak French. Second, we're only bringing the one camera and the GoPro. We can't both be using them at the same time. So we're still negotiating that. We'll be in that area for 2 days, so my thought was one each day. 

Dear Mother Nature...

Of course, leading up to the trip, I'm having "periodic visits" after being a long while without. So, Dear Mother Nature: Could you please just shut off and STAY OFF? While I will, with great regret, miss your monthly (sometimes MULTIPLE times a month) visits, I will try my utmost to adapt. What? You caught that great steaming pile of snark there? Sorry about that. I'll try to be more sincere. 

Please, please, PLEASE don't make me haul a ton of "sanitaries" in my luggage. I just would rather you confine your visits to -- well -- to NO visits, thanks. I'm 55. When does this shut off? Thanks, but I no longer wish to be a hormonal over-achiever. 


So I do have most of the stash photographed (including the new stuff) and then yesterday, Doris hauled off and handed me some more. What? Say no? Who are we kidding here? I have some lovely bright red cotton - a sweater's worth, if not a little more, and some fantasy yarn that I have no idea what to do with. I will get them photographed before the Obligatory Birthday Party Appearance and up on Ravelry. Perhaps Ravelers will have an idea; they usually do!

Along with that my friend Joan is doing a project which will require Sonda's Hand-Dyed. As you know, my friend Sonda is no longer with us, and Joan is her mom. Her project is to knit something for each of the kids/grandkids from what remains of Sonda's Hand-Dyed. Doris gave her some purple and I have the yellow/orange in stash. So I'll go rooting today or tomorrow to see what I can find - I think it's a good thing and even though I had something planned for my last hank, this is a better place for it. I'll adjust and grab another Lorna's Laces or something for the shawl I was planning. 

Obligatory Birthday Party Appearance...

So I have a friend that I've known for nigh onto 45-ish years. We used to be close. Then we drifted. Then we rebooted. Now, it seems that we're re-drifting. Her daughter produced a grandchild, which is fine, even though I have fairly strong (surprisingly conservative) views on this. Actually, let me explain. I have no problem with single mothers. Stuff happens. I do have a problem if, when you're of an age to actually support yourself and perhaps the child you produce, you summarily decide that your mother can raise the kid. And I have a truly large problem with said mother, after herself having a mini-stroke, saying to me, "Oh, they're living here rent-free, she's not working, we're paying for the lawyer for the daddy to pay support, and yeah, we babysit a lot because, you know, Sally needs her social and recreation time." 

No. She doesn't. OK, every parent, to the best of their ability, needs a break. But dumping the kid on your mom every single weekend isn't a break. It's obnoxiously annoying and depriving your mother of a life of her own. 

Now, perhaps the friend LIKES this. She's (in my opinion) lived vicariously through her kids ever since they've been born, cloaking it in "being an involved mother." And perhaps I'm looking at it from my own standpoint of "the kid (daughter) is nearly 30 and maybe she needed to take responsibility BEFORE there was a baby." Or maybe, as my kids have told me, I'm looking at it from the lens of how I raised them: "I will do my utmost to support you in whatever you choose, but I raised you, and barring a medical issue, I'm not planning to raise your kids." Yep. That's what I told my kids. And no, my kids don't hate me for saying that. They kinda like the clear communication. 

Anyway, the OBPA is because I'm really seriously thinking of terminating the friendship - for a number of reasons, including the fact that she doesn't call till she needs something from me, and when I call, there are vague "Oh yeah, we need to get together sometime" mutterings. But there's no time or effort in this friendship anymore. 

The OBPA is for the grandbaby. Every year. I'm the geeky one who brings books. No electronics and no toys. Books have an on/off switch. And they have bright colors and pictures. And I love books. So there. 

In truth, one part of me is sad about how this relationship has devolved, but the other part is actually kind of relieved. It's too much work to resuscitate something that's not willing to breathe on its own. We have, over the past few years, only been able to get together at Christmas Eve - an open house at her place. We used to get together for walks in the neighborhood (hers or mine), shopping jaunts, lunch on each one's birthday. The annual girls' weekend away. Random but regular phone calls. Each one of us initiated these things more or less equally. The work of the friendship was shared. 

Yes, I know, friendships change. But I'm of two minds here. This person has known me longer than anyone else except my immediate family. But I really don't want a 90/10 friendship. It would be different if it was a fluctuating division: you all know there are situations where every friendship waxes and wanes. Times when YOU feel like you're carrying the load and then other times when you NEED to be carried. 

But this is just so much less. At one point, we were communicating through e-mail, but "I can't do that anymore because Georgie is always with us and he likes to pound on the keyboard when I'm at the computer." Notwithstanding the fact that the kid needs to learn how and when he can "pound on a keyboard" --- there's the issue of when it's ok for you to have an adult friendship of your own. She has a habit of whining that she's got no friends.

Well, it happens when you don't participate. And I don't know what to do with this. I guess we'll have to see what develops today. There were, to paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel "mumbled such-are promises" of getting together prior to this party, but nothing happened except a short text exchange. That's not a friendship. That's an energy-sucking relationship.

Soooooooooooo.... We shall see, I guess.  

New Prince George...

Congratulations to Will & Kate. Now, can we please learn some basic biology? The female (yes, FEMALE) British correspondents were announcing breathlessly that Kate was "FABULOUS" for birthing a boy. 

This is, I believe, 2013, though some of our more regressive conservative politicians would have us believe that it's actually 1813 as far as women go. But I digress.

Biology 101, courtesy of Sister Faith at my high school: The MALE determines the gender of the fetus. 

Just pointing that out. Now you may resume gazing at the adorable baby pics. And please stop bashing Kate because she "hasn't lost the baby bump." Good God... She's all of 105 pounds and delivered an 8 pound+ baby. It took 9 months to grow that bump. Leave her alone. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This n' That - TKGA, Socks, Canning, and Heart

Well, nuts. Either technology has failed or my Crappy Red Camera has died. I don't think the camera has died. It turns on. I think technology, or my Geek (a/k/a Hubby) has failed. I was having some problems with Adobe and he fixed them, but in the meantime, now I can't get pictures off the Crappy Red Camera, and yes, I also popped the card out. It (the computer) isn't reading that either... Which makes me wonder if the Canon software got deleted. 


Anyway, I did want to catch everyone up so here goes, sans some of the better pics. Those will be later. 

The TKGA/CGOA show in Indianapolis was really nice! The Sheraton has one of the nicest rooms...and I loved the mattress and actually conked out on feather pillows! TKGA = The Knitting Guild of America. CGOA = Crochet Guild of America.

We only stayed Wed - Fri, and we all took classes on Thursday. Mardi decided that a day-long Aran Sweater Class (even though the sweater was teddy-bear sized) was a bit of a brain fry. Karen loved her Crocheted Beaded half-day class. And while I loved the Magic Loop 1/2-day morning class, I wasn't as in love with the afternoon's Continental Knitting class. Perhaps a bit of brain-fry myself in learning two really different skills "under the gun" so to speak. 

I will use Magic Loop, but I honestly can't see using the Continental stuff, at least for purling, and Heaven forbid for socks!! Not gonna happen. 

Got home Friday after taking the scenic route. Who knew the Arsenal Road construction wasn't finished yet? Luckily, Karen's husband alerted us and we were able to get off on the Wilmington exit and take the route through town. Got everyone home safe and sound, only I wasn't exactly. Well, I was safe, but not so sound... My heart decided to misbehave, and I had Hubby check it. 

Yep, flipping a beat or two every minute or so. Not enough for a trip to the ER, but enough to make me really anxious. Then, nothing Saturday, but then again Sunday afternoon, and now again today. I'm headed to the cardiologist's office at 2:30 today for a heart monitor - only 24 hours. We want everything spiffy for our big trip to Europe in August. I don't want to go into arrythmia on the plane...

So. I had a blissful weekend. Well, mostly blissful. More than I've had in a long time. I didn't have to work, so I could sleep in (well, 6:30 a.m....) on Saturday. I worked on the sock, got to the heel turning. I'd show you, but the Crappy Red Camera.... 

Oh, I do have pics from the Crappy Windows Camera. Hey, the new Nokia is coming out in April, so have patience, people... 

Magic Loop Variation
Anyhow, here's a shot of some of what I did in class. The Magic Loop thing was really very interesting. I could totally do a toe-up sock in that, or what our instructor billed as "the smallest pouch for an i-device known..." Either way, I can see that her class will be useful to me in the future. I may do a phone case, since there's nothing I'm happy with that fits the Windows Nokia I have. 

The Continental class was something else. Yes, I learned more than I did the LAST time I tried it, and I've decided that it's really faster for knitting. Purling? Even the instructor said, "Purling in Continental SUCKS." Well. This woman writes books and produces DVDs. If she says it sucks, who am I to argue? Frankly, I can't remember why I had the yarn looped in my right hand. Look at the "Holding Yarn" picture and you'll get a better idea. 

Continental Something...
I knit like the wind. Well, like a lazy breeze in August. But I got that. Purling, not so much. She was very helpful and told us to "abandon whatever you're knitting now and do a scarf in Continental." Her theory is if you do that, you'll have that memory in your hands and you'll "never go back" to the other way of knitting. Hmmmmmmmm. Not sure about that. 

I wanted to learn just so I was somewhat familiar if I ever had to switch. Having said that, you also know you can't switch mid-stream. It messes with your gauge. 

The swatch I produced is something that our ancient canary could've produced. I haven't produced a piece of knitting that bad since I learned when I was 8 years old. 

That being said, I get the whole practice thing. You can't just learn something one time and expect it to stick. Perhaps there's a scarf somewhere in my brain. She said to do it with sections: straight knit; straight purl; then do gradually increasing ribbing like K1 P1, then K2 P2, and she also said that this style of knitting was "made for" Moss Stitch. Which it would be. The yarn flips where you need it to be for that stitch, whether that was your intention or not. 
Holding yarn

I'll have to stash-dive for something decent, but which I won't be sad about if I rip it out 16 dozen times. I'm sure I have some of my Granny's acrylic that would work. What I used for the class was some "hand-me-over" that I used for a provisional cast-on for something else anyway. 

So we decided the market was ok. Much nicer than Stitches because it was smaller and you weren't overwhelmed. I got the stuff on my list (blocking wires and some additional Kollage needles) and a Namaste cross-body mini-messenger bag for our trip to Europe. It's small enough to pass as a purse for carry-on purposes, and roomy enough to stash a small project for the times we'll be driving or the times we'll be relaxing. 

No. Hubby doesn't know about that purchase, but he knows I've added to stash. 

I haven't had time to photograph the new additions, except for what you'll see shortly. I did stop in Stephen B's booth. My, my, my... flamboyant is a rather mild term for him. His booth was sloppy-chic, and I stopped in but didn't purchase. Saw some things, but nothing leaped out and stood in my way demanding to come home with me. 
Koigu Shawl

The Friday, we figured we'd stop by The Knit Stop. This was an exhibitor who's about a mile away. The shop was a little denuded because so much was at the show, but there was still enough left. Mardi bought a Herdy pillow kit. Karen, though wool-shy, bought some superwash in the perfect pumpkin color for a baby hat. I bought the Koigu Kersti. There's a shawl that will be beautiful. Mardi helped me pick out colors, because if I had done it myself, it would have been mostly monochrome. Top to bottom, this is basically how the shawl will lay out, though I may start at the bottom. However the shawl will have the colors in this order. It's a cute little triangle shawl, without fringe. 

Ghahhhhhhhhhhh - I don't like fringe!! Anyway, it's got a nice picot edge, and I suppose that if I don't want it, I can skip it. 

Mardi invited Karen and I to a wool fest in Wisconsin, and we made a pledge to knit SOMETHING from what we purchased before that outing in September. Knit and FINISH... And that doesn't count my socks. Mardi said she'd drive; we'd stay in her family's vacation house. I'll cook and Karen will bring sweets. We polished off a bag of See's Bridge Mix while in traffic on the way home... 

When I got home, this was the blissful part: I had the weekend relatively to myself. I skipped church. I had nothing planned. Hubby went on a 7-hour rescue transport on Sunday and I stayed home. 

Of course, with the heart fluttering stuff, I really just wanted to chill anyway. I filled bird feeders. I tried to get our solar fountain in the bird bath working (failed). I was able to go out and buy some bras that actually fit (!). And I canned. 
Pickle Relish

Our pickling cucumber plants are starting to produce. I had 8 of them, so it was time to make relish. I've actually got a ton of pickles left, so this will be The Summer of Relish. I used red and yellow peppers in this one. It's a sweet relish, but I put some cracked black peppercorns in there. The peppers are sweet, too, and I figured it might need a little bite. 

This is all hand-cut. I am food-processor-impaired. And anyway, I kind of like using the original food processor: a knife and cutting board! It's the recipe out of the Ball Blue Book. A nice standard. I have some in the back of that stack that are a little light on pickle relish, but Kid #2 says that the brining liquid is great for marinades or salad dressing. I'm good with that. It'll all be eaten. 

Anyway, after all that, even though the weather had cooled off from our heat wave, you can imagine how warm it was in the kitchen. Even with the A/C running. Even with the stove fan on over the water-bath pot. It was a little steamy. 

I was able to hear the very satisfying "plink" sound from each of those 10 jars of relish. Which was great. I washed the jars down, made the labels and stuck 'em on the lids. 

Heat wave!
Next up will be relish with red and green peppers, and maybe the time after that, relish with banana peppers or something else. Just not overly hot. I won't eat any of this because I have a problem with both onions and peppers. But the kids like it and so do the extended family. If we have a grill-fest, I have to bring this. Everyone loads it on their burgers and dogs. 

Anyway, the heat. Here's how Tippi preferred to handle it. She's sprawled out about 4 feet from the tower fan which sits just aside from the living room's A/C vent. That girl knows how to live! 

Now if we could only stop her from licking her shaved foot... 

If You Aren't Alarmed, Check Your Pulse...

Finally, Pictures...

OK, we got the Crappy Red Camera fixed. Well, it was working. Somehow, the Evil Software Elves ate the software that helps me download the pics. Still doesn't explain the fact that the computer wouldn't read the memory card, but I'll take the victory. I reloaded the software and we're back in business. 

So here are some pics...


Cheesy TKGA picture
So it's cheesy - but here's a picture of my Teal Sock (Nice Ribbed Sock @ Ravelry) at the TKGA show. No, I didn't take pictures of us. Yes, I did take pictures of what I was attempting to knit. See the post from a few days ago. 

Yes, I should've taken pictures of the 3 of us. I'll do it next time. We'll be going to the Wisconsin Sheep Festival next year. You'll just have to wait unless I can get some taken earlier. 

Heel Turned!
And yes, I'm still enthralled at the magic of the turning heel. Funny enough, yes, I did follow the designer's instructions. I wasn't going to. I was going to use my Red Sock-Shaped Book... But I bit the swatch and did it her way. And jeeze - it worked! It's even working with my splitting the heel and going back to 4 DPNs. She did her socks on 3, apparently, and frankly, I don't like that. First off, it's hard to avoid ladders where the rounds join, and second, it seems more squished for my fingers. 

Inside of heel - still magical!
I was a bit concerned with this sock perhaps being "inside out" but as you can see from the picture here, the K3P1 rib is working out quite nicely, and the heel, though you can't tell from the picture, is actually almost "doubled" - it's a sl1,k1 and then the WS is sl1,p1. It makes a very sturdy heel, kind of like the Doris Heel that I had learned for my hiking socks. I will still try the Doris Heel on the next pair of socks; it's a very pretty one, particularly with a solid yarn. Maybe I'll use it on the Blue-faced yarn. We shall see. 

I guess I have to type more so that you can see the pictures in the order I want them... 

Which is fine, because I can talk a lot. Particularly about yarn. I haven't gotten any of this up on Ravelry yet. I do also have to search for some patterns while I'm there. I love Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Pretty Thing." It may go into my queue. Very much worth the money for a pattern for that one skein of perfectly luxe yarn. 

Blue-faced Leichester sock yarn
Also in this post are some of the yarns I purchased at TKGA. The Blue-faced Leichester sock yarn is a bit thicker, but not quite worsted. It will make up beautifully. Looks like I have a "teal blue" theme going on here, but I really wanted to do something different, since the stash is looking a little too purple lately. They had a wonderful collection of yarns, and it was also the first booth in the exhibit area, which is a double-edged sword. Either you get lots of traffic, or they sprint past you on the way to the other booths. This was from a company which also makes a rose yarn.

Yep, yarn made from rose fibers - the ones on the stems, that is. Talk about using alternative plant-based materials! It was interesting, but I didn't buy any. This stuff was on sale. The rose yarn wasn't. I'm trying to be fiscally responsible. Don't laugh. For what it's worth, she had some roving of the rose stuff she made. It was soft, not as "crimpy" as wool, and I couldn't tell how it would've been to spin with. But then I'm not a spinner. 

"Probably way too fine" merino for shawls
The "probably wayyyyyyyyyy too fine" merino will be a couple of shawls. Probably out of one of the "sock yarn shawl" patterns or maybe just a lace from the pattern books. 

Here's the "silkworm" thickness merino. It's Italian. That yarn was at the back of the shop area, in a huge, huge, HUGE pile of "stuff." Everything from glittery yarn to kid mohair (thanks, but I don't want to torture myself). And all of it was on sale. I saw a lot of very nice colors of this merino, but I thought basic was better. And the gal said I'd need 2 hanks. A few of the prettier colors had only 1 left. 

Shawl pattern & yarn
Love this one at the right: the yarn is actually in a "cupcake" kind of container. It's a local designer, and her mom made goodies for her booth. Which of course made it the most popular one! It's a very pretty shawl. The yarn has charms/stitch markers included. It's not as vivid as it looks, and it's hand-painted, so there are various gradients in the yarn. You can see it more clearly in the close-up picture. 

Again, lots of pretty colors, but I was on a mission to avoid anything in the purple range. They did have a lovely selection, so if you can find Toluca Knit Jewelry and Fine Yarns, then please visit them. I don't have their website handy, otherwise, I'd put a link up here. 

The yarn with charms
Of course, that "avoid purple" thing didn't count the Namaste mini-messenger cross-body bag. My excuse for that is that the eggplant color was the only one there! So there. And it was a more secure bag than the others in that booth, most of them having open tops. This one is going on my trip. I can put a smaller bag inside it with wallet, etc. for the actual travel, and it's got plenty of room for knitting. 

Which will be coming in this kind of bag. My very favorite project bag for travel. It's a KnowKnits bag. My LYS (yeah, the one I'm kind of mad at) actually ordered this for me. They used to carry them under the previous owner, but this gal likes the simple cloth ones. Heck, I sew, and while I don't want to deny anyone the option of making a living, I'm also not paying $15 for a bag that's got about $1.66 in materials and would take me 20 minutes to sew up. I want to spend that money on yarn, not the bags. 

Project bag
And I'm not a bag snob either (stop laughing). I have my share of WIPs in the reusable grocery bags. Just check my closet. Well, don't check my closet. 

As you can see, the bag is just perfect for socks. It's got 2 little amazing strokes of genius. The outside has a loopy thing you can use on a hanger (right now, it perches on the pattern holder of my OttLite). And inside, the other loopy thing holds the yarn and keeps the ball from popping out onto the floor of the plane, train or automobile. 

The perfect bag for a trip
I love the fact that you can zip this thing closed and it STAYS closed. I don't care if the inside is black. And it's pretty tough stuff. But to be cautious, yes, I'm using needle holders on my DPNs. It's silver, so I can find it in my bigger purse, and it's waterproof. My friend Doris can attest to this because I've borrowed her purple one - which I'm returning to her, since I now have this silver one. She spilled a Coke on hers, and it didn't ruin the knitting. Good to know. It comes in a pretty good range of sizes and colors. I think they're just grand, and I do have to laugh: one website shows one clipped to a belt so the knitter can walk and knit. No. I don't think so. 

I contemplated walking on the treadmill and knitting. Then I contemplated a whole-body tattoo, and to each of these propositions, upon long reflection, I reacted with equal enthusiasm. 

New Needle #1
As I'm moving along on the Teal Sock, I've discovered a dreaded "gusset hole." I'm not ripping back. I love how this ribbing folds gently into the gusset, and I almost knew I was creating the hole as I picked up those stitches. I'm absolutely fine with pulling it together once the sock is done with a little slip stitch in the back. Nobody will know. 

Ok, all of you will know, but the first one who sees me wearing these can come up and ask about it. 

I've read enough reference books to know that sooner or later that would happen. And now that it has, I've got some solutions. Picking up a small stitch in behind is one. I could've twisted the stitch making the hole, if I caught it early enough so as not to have to rip out a good inch-and-a-half of knitting. But since I didn't catch it, I'm not too worried about it. I know it's there, and I know how to fix it. Problem almost solved. 

Dreaded "gusset hole"
The pattern calls for a simple gathering at the toe, or Kitchener Stitch. Not sure which one I'll do. I'll see how the decreases go. One day, a Star toe! 

Yoga and the Full Moon...

So we had our (for me, final) Community Class at the studio where I'm taking my certification training. I can tell you it was a full moon. We had 12 people, and totally had "2 classes" -- the absolute newbies, who needed to be up in front, were in the back row. The experienced folks were in the front, when they probably could've been in the back.

And I screwed up a couple of cues. I had them go into a wide-legged forward fold (Prasarita Padottanasana if you're interested in the Sanskrit) and I had two mats: one long-wise and one skinny, crossed over each other. I was on the right mat, but I forgot to cue them to "come to the long side of the mat." They took me literally and didn't move. Yikes!! 

I also apparently forgot to cue heel-to-arch alignment in Trikonasana (a/k/a Triangle Pose). I thought I did. The mentor supervising us said I didn't. I've been teaching on my own now for several months, but for some reason, this class just flipped me out. 

It happens. All 3 of us were nervous, and the mentor did say that what rattled her was the absolute inexperience of some of the students. And a couple who could've used the help refused it. You can't force help on them unless they're about to blow out a body part, like a knee or shoulder. All in all, it was a humbling and teaching evening, and I'm also glad it's over. 

I'm teaching my favorite class, the Yin class, tonight. My teacher is taking a much-needed sabbatical for August, and we're in the midst of rearranging schedules. We dropped the Tuesday a.m. class till September. That may come back as a Yoga 101, and we hope to have more than 3 students in there! 

Tippi... healing fine from her surgery. Now if she'll only leave her foot alone, we can remove the Cone of Shame. It comes off while she's in our sight, but she often sneaks off to lick her foot. I know the re-growing of the hair must itch like crazy. Heck, I'm itching (still) from that heart monitor. But she will lick to extreme, so we have to watch her. 

Once I can get a nice picture of her in her "summer duds" we'll post it. 

Climate Deniers?

OK, so I did find this on Facebook. But pay attention, people. Crikey, just look at the summers and winters we've had lately. 

There's a lake at the North Pole. No, not a "lookee what we have under the ice" lake. An actual, visible from a camera, LAKE with a bouy floating on it. And it happened this year. July 22, 2013. 

I don't know about you, but this scares the jeepers out of me. The North Pole. It's supposed to be frozen. Well, climate deniers, what do you think of this?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Heart, Politics. That Kind of a Day...

Heart Stuff

As expected, two things: I'm still allergic to the tape and adhesive on the electrodes. It itches. A lot. Started 2 hours after the heart monitor was set up. I told them. They said, "It's only 24 hours, it shouldn't be too bad."
It is.

I take it off in about 8.5 minutes (not anxious or anything...) and then have to return it. Also, second thing: unless I slept through anything exciting, my heart behaved itself. Of course. Murphy's Law is in full swing.


In yesterday's Chicago Tribune, which I didn't get to because I was whining about my Crappy Red Camera (which mystery is solved, by the way), there were two articles next to each other in what I can only call Karmic Editorial Balance.

The first article was "Some Military Digs are Castles" and it concerned the vast amount of our tax dollars at work renting headquarters for top brass. For example, Marine Gen. John Kelly lives in Casa Sur, described by the Trib as "an elegant home with a pool and gardens on one of the area's swankiest streets." It's a 5-bedroom house, provided rent-free to the general. But not to the taxpayers. WE are paying $160,000 per year. One Hundred Sixty Thousand Dollars. Per. Year. For this guy's house.

Mind you, I'm not being disrespectful, but I'd like to point out that MY house (paid for by me and not the taxpayer) is probably worth about that. Period. And yes, he's a military man. And yes, he probably needs something a little more secure than my 1550 square foot ranch.

But wait. There's more. The US (meaning we the taxpayers) also paid $402,000 for renovations and security improvements that are in progress now.

Now that you've snorted your iced tea out of your nose, let's look at the other side of this jelly sandwich.

The article next to it is entitled "I'm Still Hungry" and focuses on our national embarrassment: child hunger. In America. The so-called "Greatest Nation on Earth." During the summer, when the kids are out of school, they don't get the meals the schools provide. Schools now being "food pantries" as well as places for kids to be educated. So the federal government has stepped in to provide at least one meal a day, delivered, in this story, by a school bus in a town called Greeneville, TN. Lest you think the school bus is being used for non-educational purposes, the organization responsible actually bought 4 used vehicles to get the food to the hungry kids. On the day the story was written, the Feds decided that an appropriate lunch was 2 oz. of celery sticks, 4 oz. canned oranges, chocolate milk and a bologna sandwich. We the taxpayers spent $3.47 for that lunch.

The kids aren't allowed seconds. They get what they're given. Period. Like it or don't eat it. The bus is emblazoned with a sign - or a forecast of what the economy still looks like in rural America: "Kids Eat FREE!" The article goes on to state: "For some, this would be the first meal of the day. For others, the last."

Just sit here with those two stories for a minute. Let it sink in. Go ahead.

Are you angry yet? And if you're not, why not?

Here's the thing. I'm not saying that these commanders don't deserve to live in a secure place. I think they probably should, given the amount of nuts we have in the US, not counting the foreign nuts. But since we're in a budget sequester because Congress is still mad that the Black Guy is in the White House - and since the result of that sequester is that the social services our poor depend upon have been shredded in the name of someone's idea of balance, then riddle me this: WHY are we spending that kind of money on homes for commanders?

The Pentagon has closed facilities, cancelled training and missions, and has (about the way they always do) threatened to cut enlisted pay. That doesn't include the furloughs of the civilians employed by the DoD.

The article states that "...some senior officers have quarters so expensive that they violate the military's generous rules." Including a commander of a submarine group who lives in a 6,600 square foot villa in Naples, leased for $172,000 a year. One Hundred Seventy Two Thousand Dollars. Per Year.

Contrast that with the article on hungry kids...Even with a task force of governors from various states, and food banks opening "...thousands of summer cafes" - still, only about 15% of eligible children received regular meals. Fifteen percent. Childhood hunger, according to this article, has been worsening for seven consecutive years. Seven years.

So let's ditch some of those high-end digs for the commanders. Save the $172,000 per year of the sub commander's villa. Spend it on the meals currently provided to the hungry kids: that would be 49,567 meals. I mean the meals I described above: only sack lunches, with only 750 calories each. I'm sure some nutritionist and some finance whiz could come up with a way to make the meal a little more substantial and perhaps provide more than one meal per day per kid.

All I know is that the editorial Karma that set these two articles side-by-side certainly caught my attention. I want to make sure that people are aware of what's going on.

So here's what you do: You do something in YOUR community. It's gonna take US - not the U.S. but US -- we the people. We the people have to make sure that our neighbors are fed.

If you're a liberal inclined to look at it one way, you'll say this is social justice.

If you're a conservative who tends more toward the Christian Biblical injunction, you'll note that the Bible says that's what we should do. From Proverbs to Luke to James, to Matthew and beyond. My favorite at the moment is Galatians 6:2 -- "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Do your research if the Bible isn't your preferred Book. I'll bet a lunch that the Q'ran, Torah, and any other Holy Book has a version of this quotation.

Start locally. What we do here will spread in ripples like the rings created when a tiny stone is dropped into a vast lake. Will you help by being the stone that gets dropped?

I know I will. Our church has a food pantry every week. I hereby commit to bringing something EVERY week. It stays local, and you know what? That's ok. I can't ignore my neighbors.

Neither should you. They're out there, if you have eyes to see. And a heart to care.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Musing on a Crown...

Yesterday, as I sat, quietly numb and freaking out, watching a story about a guy getting a very poisonous snake out of some woman's swimming pool, I heard it.

A gut-wrenching screech the likes of which I haven't heard since the last time I was in labor. And it wasn't me that time, either.

It was the kid next to me at the dentist. 

I was visiting Dr. Henry for the second part of what I lovingly call "Henry's punch in the jaw" -- a/k/a first placement of a temporary crown, and yesterday, the removal of the temporary and placement (installation? insertion? setting?) of the permanent one. 

The office is lovely; staff are friendly. Dr. Henry is a wonderful dentist. And the whole idea of "crown" was freaking me out. Henry asked me if I wanted HGTV or something else, but honestly, I was more calmed by the guy trying to catch the snake! It was pretty cool - at least what I could see without my glasses. 

I refused an anaesthesia; I get wonky on them, and I had errands to run. But I did ask for a "terrific numbing up." Which I got. The only discomfort I had was the pressure he used to place the crown, and the kid next door screaming.

Dr. Henry and I are friends aside from my periodic visits to his chair. So he tells me, without breaking any privacy rules, that "Audrey" was there two days ago and was fine. She's actually totally numbed up and can't feel a thing.

But...Audrey wanted her mommy. Mommy was hovering. Audrey was enjoying it. Finally, one of the hygienists had had enough, and said to her, "Audrey. Stop. Look in my eyes." And she quieted down. Some.

My lovely hygienist was finishing the clean-up around the molar and in a break, I said to her, "Don't you actually want to say sometimes, 'Hey kid - knock it off. And mom? Go in the waiting room!' just so that it doesn't freak out the rest of the patients?"

She told me that normally, they have a couple of closed rooms for the screamers. And she whispered, "The parents are the worst offenders. We can get a kid calmed in just a few words. The parents seem to transfer their anxiety right to the kids and the kids feed on it." 

Jeepers, people. Tell your kids that the dentist won't hurt them, and that they just need to calm down. And parents? Calm down yourselves!! 

I'm not saying I was a perfect kid. Crimey - my dentist didn't even use novocaine when we were kids, but Heaven help us if we misbehaved in the dentist's chair. My sister bit the orthodontist once (she was totally justified...) and my mom read her the riot act. 

As an adult, we finally got the numbing stuff, but Hubby still won't use it. His theory is that that makes the dentist even more careful. I bet they love him!!

The dentist is part of our health care. We're lucky to have good access to quality dental care. And now-a-days? They do the best to deal with freaked out, paranoid and just-plain-frightened people. It's come a long way. Even the implements are a lot less obnoxious. 

Though I don't like that "spit-catcher." I've told Henry every time I'm in the chair that I have my appendix and my tonsils, but if he doesn't adjust the pressure of the suction, I may not have either - and I didn't want him charging extra! 

Be that as it may, parents hovering usually don't help. My new crown is in, the pain in my jaw is much less than it was yesterday, and I'm not going to worry about the next one till Fall. 

Hopefully, Audrey's next appointment won't coincide with mine!

Monday, July 15, 2013

American Justice? Post-Racial? Not.

Current Events...

I'm sure we can, each and every one of us, agree that George Zimmerman got away with murder.

What's particularly galling for me, and had I been on the jury, what would've been the tipping point, was the dispatcher's conversation with Zimmerman:

D: Are you following him?
Z: Yeah.
D: We don't need you to do that...

(this is not an exact quote)

"We don't need you to do that." And yet he did. Expressly against the advice of the dispatcher, whose job it is to send out the appropriate authorities. 

One wonders what would've happened if he'd have listened. But now we know what happens when you ignore the advice of the professionals.

I know that my kids are more color-blind than even those in my generation. But my generation (the tail end of the Baby Boom) is nowhere near post-racial. Look at Washington if you really need to see proof.

A bunch of white mostly-males in the House and Senate are gagging at the prospect of the Black Guy leaving any legacy other than abject failure. 

What we got for our complacency in the mid-terms was a rout. What we'll get if we're not careful - and by "careful" I mean "get off your rear end and do something" - is the government we totally deserve: Of the corporations, for the corporations and by the corporations. 


No knitting news. Still working on the sock. Oh, yeah, I do have knitting news. I can apparently take my knitting on our airplane trip in August. In my carry-on. On the same needles it's already on! Yay! I will still stick the socks in the checked bag. You never know when you'll need more than one project.

Going to the Knitting Guild expo in Indianapolis this week. I had to search up some circulars in both a 16" cable and a 40" cable. I didn't have the size 8-9 they wanted, so I'm going with my size 7s. I know the rudiments of the Magic Loop technique and I'm sure my size 7s will be fine. I've got no need for 8s on a 40" cable! Not buying them if this is the only thing I'll use them for. 

Not sure if I'll be taking my laptop. If I get a chance to, maybe I'll do that, but I'm still not sure. I'm going with friends, so I'd rather socialize with them than check FaceBook and my e-mails. 

The Twins...

No, I don't have pictures. I wish. But I did get my "twins fix" this past Sunday at my mom's dinner. We got to hold them for a while before the food came. Avery is a watcher. She's a quiet one and I bet that as she gets older, she'll be the instigator... Just my own opinion.

Benjamin is going to be just like his big brother: you will KNOW when Benjamin is in the room! 

At 4 months, my kids said they're "too floppy" for them to hold; but I enjoyed it. Also was happy to give them back. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Simply Saturday...

OK, so writing headlines has never been my forte... I couldn't think of what to put because I'm not sure where we're going with this, so maybe it'll change and this whole segment will become irrelevant.


Anxiously awaiting the new Windows phone. We're not up yet for another year, I think, but I can't wait!! The Nokia Lumia is being released with a super-cool-awesome-blow-your-socks-off camera. Look here and see what I mean. I have a Lumia, and I love the phone. Hate. The. Camera. I mean truly despise it. Oh, I use it, and occasionally get lucky. 

This was a picture I took yesterday when my knitting group went to St. Charles to visit Wool and Co.... which is a whole other paragraph, frankly. Click here to see what I'm talking about. The website isn't much, in my opinion, but the store? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 
Riverfront in St. Charles, IL

OK, back to the phone thing. The new camera is a 41 megapixel. Heck, I may not have to haul around the CRC (crappy red camera) or the big monster EOS. I shouldn't bash on the CRC. It's a little red Canon PowerShot A480 with 10 megapixels. I got it about 3 years ago, I think, when we were doing a lot more rescue transporting. It's starting that unfortunate tendency of all small cameras: it's eating batteries. 

I was going to take it on a trip we're planning, which would be great. But hauling the stock of batteries I'd need would be problematic, and I hate buying batteries when you're on a trip; they always seem to cost 5x more than they do at home! The sock pics you'll see here later were taken with the CRC. 

Local Travel, new LYS

Anyway, that's a picture of the riverfront, taken with my current Lumia. St. Charles is along the Fox River, which is one of my favorite rivers in IL. I told Hubby that one of these Saturdays when I'm not working we can either bring the bikes or just the walking shoes; there are paths all around and it's very friendly in terms of being able to have a centralized downtown area, lots of places to browse and lovely park-ish areas, trails and of course the river. Water is soothing, which is strange, because it scares me since I can't swim. Contradictions, contradictions.

So at Wool and Co. I bought yarn. And I talked to the woman who runs the shop. I was looking for a set of size 7 needles in plastic because the TSA says that's what I need to bring, notwithstanding the fact that the last time I flew, they felt that circular needles were acceptable. She's English and said she just came back from England and was able to knit socks on metal DPNs. However, I did purchase a set of bamboo circulars, just in case. I'm not taking socks, but Hubby suggests that I show the person at the ticket counter the knitting, and if it's not acceptable that day, I can shove it in the bag we're checking. Better that than some TSA person heisting my alpaca lace and a pair of $15 Addi Turbo circulars! 

I will probably add Wool and Co. as a "LYS" that's not truly LOCAL, since it's about 1.5 hours from my house, but it's a good thing to have another store in your GPS.

I know I can take the Kindle, so I'm not too anxious about it.


So the progress on the Trekking socks continues. I noticed at W & C that they had the same teal. I expect that it's their Ovarian Cancer project. However, since there's a bazillion other kinds of sock yarn in their shop, it wasn't a stretch for me to pick up 3 more skeins. Go ahead. Laugh. But sock yarn "doesn't count" since it's small and you only need but 1 hank to do anything from socks to wristers to shawls.

Speaking of which, I'm teaching my student worker to knit!! A convert!!! I'm going to start her on a scarf, and I can hear a number of knitters going "Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" right now, but she says she wants to make a scarf. Start knitters on what they want to make and they'll find their way to the other stuff. I can certainly teach her socks (and I can't believe I'm saying that!!) but if she wants to start with a scarf, that's fine. I'll dive into stash and bring some needles and a skein of acrylic and one of wool so she can pick. Amazingly, there are some anti-wool folks (I'm looking at YOU, sis!!!) and I want her to pick what she feels comfortable with. She's still a student, so acrylic is probably more within her budget. 

Cuff and beginning roll
Here's the progress on the socks. The ribbing will stand out better when you wear the socks. The yarn is working up most amazingly. I think Trekking will be my next favorite sock yarn to Opal. Perhaps the next will be the Monkey socks, which I did start but frogged - but those are lace, so I need to have "concentration time." These are relatively mindless and I can see this being my basic pattern. 

I also checked Ravelry and saw the Jaywalker socks (click here for a look) and those could also be added to the sock pattern binder.  The fact that these patterns are basic doesn't detract from their attraction. Like I said yesterday, and then after seeing W & C's sock section: there are a bazillion sock yarns out there. In a way, more basic patterns are better. I'll photograph what I purchased yesterday and talk about what my knitter friend Joan said. She's the one who taught me to knit socks in the first place. 

Detail of 3x1 rib
When and if I do teach my student worker how to make socks, I'll use Sonda's easy sock pattern with size 7 DPNs. I can't do magic loop. Well, let's say I haven't given it a fair shake; maybe my next simple socks will be using that method. But Sonda taught me those larger-gauge socks, and it was so easy to learn to manipulate the DPNs -- for a long time, I pictured size 2 needles as "toothpicks" and now I'm on my second pair knitting at that size. 

What I liked about the size 7 socks was that you could use a wool blend, they were cushy, and they made great "house socks" - they were and are comfortable and squishy enough for a winter day on a cold floor, and they're washable! Huzzah for washable!! Danelle might like to learn that eventually, and having a sock you don't have to be futzy with will be a good thing. 
Overview of pattern

You'll be proud of me: I resisted buying a book at W & C. Actually, (a) I think I have it; and (b) if I don't, I have enough LIKE it to not really need it. I will at some point draw up a list of projects, which will scare the stitches out of me, and prioritize them. The nice thing about losing the weight is that stuff I purchased lo these many years ago are not only still in fashion (I bought some simple t-shirt and sweater vest patterns), but they'll now fit me! I'm going to put yarn + pattern in project bags and start grabbing them out. 

I was really doing that at one point, but got sidetracked by socks and the upcoming Christmas knitting. I think I can drag those WIPs out during the fall. I'm realizing that I won't have a sweater ready for me to wear this fall. Nor will I have a t-shirt or shell ready. But I have them. I just have to find them and finish them. 

Knitter friend Joan (Sonda's mom) is doing her Christmas knitting from the last of Sonda's hand-dyed. She's doing shawls for the granddaughters. Which is a really nice use of the yarn. She also has some fairly scarf-ish weight yarn for the one grandson, in a manly forest green. What a lovely use and nice tribute. 

Texas and Tampons

By now, anyone on Facebook has seen this story. Really. Truly. Scary. It's scary on a number of levels. Texas (and most of the Bible Belt states) is continuing to chip away at women's rights, with the ultimate and obvious goal of repealing Roe v. Wade. With the other ultimate goal to kill off society, in my opinion. And no, that's not hyperbole. It's ugly and mostly true. 

However, in the chipping away, TX still allows guns in its governmental buildings. I should clarify: civilians with guns. But not tampons, 'cause Lord knows someone might get HIT with one. And that could hurt. (snort)

We've seen an overall decline in our own humanity lately; in the last decade or so, it's become popular to revert to the Reagan-era "welfare queens" line of thought. We (or at least politicians and talking heads) have people saying that we have to "protect the fetus" but once it becomes a baby, it's a "sucker on the government teat." We have politicians saying that cancer patients who use Medicaid are "moochers." OUR governmental representatives (it's ok to laugh, we know who they really represent) have just passed a farm bill slashing food stamps because apparently "feed the hungry" as Jesus commanded is optional in their view. We have politicians and lobbyists trying to drain Social Security. Ok, my mom gets next-to-nothing in Social Security, but really - you have to give CORPORATIONS big tax breaks so they can ship even more jobs overseas, and you can't give a cost-of-living raise to seniors? What - shall we put them on the last 3 ice floes in the Arctic (currently losing ice at a remarkable rate, and killing off the polar bears as we speak -- unless of course we feed the bears our elders) and just ship the old folks off because they're no longer useful?

I hate to break it to the politicos and talking heads, but the very old and the very young are actually the backbone of our society. The very old are still consumers. And the very young, if they actually make it to being grown up, will be consumers. Consumers buy things. They work. They pay money in taxes. 

In my admittedly liberal point of view, even with my minimal accounting skills, you can't keep cutting a budget, cutting people's ability to purchase and be active participants in the society we have, if you slash their benefits. Sorry, even if you're the most conservative, you have to have a Granny - and she deserves SOME sort of social support when she can no longer work. 

And how do you expect our economy to even work without taxes? The taxes are our participation in the government - if you keep up with the whole "no new taxes unless we have a cut in the social safety net" thing - how do you expect the government, funded by taxes, to work? Do you expect money to rain down from perhaps fairies and unicorns? 

I don't know. It scares me. And I don't like being afraid.