Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Update

I finished my Monkey Socks, using my luscious Pagewood Farms merino/bamboo sock yarn. I don't understand how people can take pictures of their work and show off the intricate detail. These socks are actually very cool. The pattern is a series of lacy interlocking V's and it really shows off the variegation of the dye pattern. But in my picture, they just look like dark blue blobs. Trust me on this--I did a fabulous job on these socks and I love them.

I also tried the short row heel on my Nutkin socks 3 times. 3 TIMES. And now I know that there is no need to do short row heels. No need. Heel flaps work nicely, thank you very much. I actually did complete the short row heel and it actually did look pretty good. But then you are suppose to start knitting around again and there was going to be this big hole on the gusset. And since there were no stitches to pick up, there was no way to close it up. And I probably could have researched it and tried it 500 more times and eventually figured it out. But I just didn't care that much. Look, I'm doing the socks-on-2-circular-needles thing and pretty much enjoying it (and Mara, if you are reading this--zip it), so I think I've branched out enough.

Several months ago my bookgroup read the book The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I enjoyed the book, but I take issue with part of it. A character in the book was a knitter and each time she accidentally turned 2 heels on a sock, someone died. Here's the thing: a knitter would NEVER accidentally turn a second heel. Never. After wrestling with the same short row heel 3 times and then changing back to my familiar comfortable old heel flap, let me assure you that the creating of that sock heel wouldn't just slip my mind. Diane clearly is not a knitter.

On the Todd and Margo front, Todd was busy this weekend. And it appears that he and Margo did some shopping. That Santa teeter-totter thing? New. Tacky and new. I know he's not even close to being finished with this monstrosity yet, but we were treated to a little preview last night. Late into the evening. Around the lattice and teeter-totter, flashing multi colored lights. Around the house and shed, flashing white lights, that are in no way in sync with the flashing multi colored lights. Those snowflakes along the side were doing something crazy last night, too. And the psycho singing trees were at it again, with a rhythm all their own. He has been testing the blow up things, but hasn't formally introduced them to the neighborhood yet. Clearly it's only a matter of time.

But I spent my weekend in a yarn store. So life can't be all bad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Todd and Margo Report

News Flash: A larger than life blow-up chimney has just arrived on Todd and Margo's front lawn, accompanied by Charlie Brown and Snoopy. There was no giant red blow-up Snoopy chimney last year. I would have remember that, just as I remember the other blow-up chimney they used to decorate last year, with the Santa that bobs up and down, and the blow-up Harley with Santa straddling it. The one that fell off their roof more times that I can count last year. Oh yes, I would have remembered.

I knew they had something up their Griswoldian sleeves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sometimes material presents itself...

I've been thinking about what to they want to hear more about the lever shocks? My escapades with the laundry? My lack of progress on the boys' Harry Potter sweaters? And then, sometimes material presents itself:

Last night, November 17th, 10 days BEFORE THANKSGIVING, "Todd" and "Margo" began decorating their yard for Christmas. Last year, as you may recall, they created their garish winter nightmareland on Thanksgiving Day. This year the psychotic singing blinking trees have already been assembled. My question is this: what have they done? What cockamamie plan is in the works that involves an extra 10 days to complete? Clearly they are planning to take it up a notch, if that is even possible. I am so incredulous at what they did last year--is it possible that they could actually make it worse? Stay tuned, I guess...

Back in the land of the sane, my KnitPicks green tweedy sock yarn arrived! And I have to say, I love it! It's soft and pretty and only $3.50 a skein. So of course I abandoned everything else I've been working on and started the mittens. And now I think I have to rip it out and try some size 2 needles because I think the 1's are a bit too small. And I also tried my very first short row heel on my Happy Feet Nutkin socks, which was actually working out but I chose to ignore the strong suggestion that I use markers, because I hate using markers, and then of course I lost count about 3/4 of the way through. Which would not have happened if I had used markers. So, between those two projects last night, I wasted about two hours that I can't get back

But look at what I've accomplished! Leah's felted bag is finished! Poor Leah, I told her she was responsible for attaching the flowers and handle because, well, that involves sewing. But look at how precious it is! I think I may have to make one for Heidi for her birthday in blues and browns....she was practically teary eyed when she saw it, because it is so darn cute.

On the subject of Keeping My Family Alive, rumor has it that my sister has a carpet cleaner that she's sending my way. I am very excited about this. My carpets need cleaning so badly and hiring the pros has not been in the budget. I used to have Chem Dry come twice a year because we have fairly new carpets. But in trying to be both hygienic and frugal I've decided that it makes a lot more sense to have my own cleaner. So I've been saving my pennies. I mentioned this to my sister last night and apparently she has one she is not using. Who knew? How old and matronly do I feel that a Bissell Steam Cleaner can make my day?

And want to hear something else that made my day? Get this--in the 2nd grade I had a pen pal named Angela. I use to watch this tv show called The Big Blue Marble (don't even ask me why or how I remember this) and you could contact them to get set up with a pen pal. So I did that and corresponded with Angela until about the time we went to college. We lost touch for a variety of reasons--college, marriage, life--but I have thought of her throughout the years. A couple of weeks ago, she contacted me! We haven't been in touch for 25 years and the other day I received an email from her. That's pretty amazing if you ask me.

So, that is the news from this dusty, unvacuumed lair. When I'm not watching The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D with these 2 little maniacs, I'm knitting baby hats like a madwoman, trying to sell more lever shocks, and spending weekends working at the shop. And writing to my pen pal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talk to you later

Hello fellow readers. All 4 of you.

I will not be blogging today because I have to celebrate Veteren's Day by not sending my kids to school and staying inside with them all day during a rain storm. This celebration will include refereeing the Wii, cleaning up the cat vomit on my living room carpet, folding laundry, wrestling with my furnace that has decided, after Tommy worked on it twice, that it still does not want to work today (and my furnace is a big liar. After Tommy's last visit, it worked great until today. Liar.) and in general, NOT GETTING ONE SPARE SECOND TO MYSELF. And I ran out of half and half.

And tomorrow Shirley and I will play Hot Potato with the kids while we take turns attending school conferences. It's really nice that Ryan and Eric's conferences are 3 hours apart. That is so convenient for both Shirley and for me. So, I will not be blogging today. Since these 2 measly little paragraphs have been interrupted by my two pajama-clad Veteran's Day party-heartiers about 4 times.

I will say this. Classic Elite Alpaca Sox--not great for Jared Flood's Druid Mittens. I was so excited about using the Alpaca Sox! I splurged and spent birthday money on it and have tried the mittens twice. There is no substance to that yarn. It is soft and fuzzy and beautiful and luxurious, and I think I may strangle myself with it if I try those mittens a 3rd time. I ALMOST ordered the prescribed Jamieson's 2-ply spindrift. I was this close. And then, flipping through Ravelry, I saw someone make the mittens out of Knit Picks tweed sock yarn. I've never ordered from Knit Picks before but people seem to love their stuff. And the tweed sock yarn was only $3.50 a skein. $3.50!! So, I'll get back to you on this topic in about a week and tell you how my tweed mittens are working out.

I believe it's my turn for Super Mario Galaxy. Sigh....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mommy said a bad word

3rd grader Ryan has been really interested in the election. The only president he has ever known is George W and this is new territory for him. He has asked several times why "the girl" wasn't going to be president and it's opened up dialogue about the election process on numerous occasions.

The boys both knew that yesterday was a big day, but the "firsts" involved in this election have been lost on them. In a good way. We live in a blue collar neighborhood. My boys attend a very racially integrated public school in a run down building. One of Ryan's closest friends is Latino. Eric's is Asian. And neither of them has ever mentioned this. Yesterday afternoon when I turned the coverage on, Tavis Smiley was speaking. Ryan looked at the tv and asked "is he African American too?". My first thought was can't you SEE him? And then I realized that, in the right way, he just doesn't get it. He doesn't see it. The labels that generations upon generations have been using are not making a lot of sense to my kids who are growing up in the midst of inclusion and integration.

But with history about to be made, I thought it was important for Ryan to understand a bit more about these issues. We drove home from our Love and Logic class listening to McCain's gracious concession speech on the radio. And even though it was past his bedtime, I told Ryan he could stay up to see Obama's speech. I wanted him to always remember this moment and to appreciate the rare event he was witness to. And after the speech was over (and after I complained that, with Brad Pitt reportedly in the crowd, why do they keep showing Oprah?!) Mike and I explained part of Obama's speech to Ryan.

Obama referenced slavery. And civil rights. And the causes for which Martin Luther King Jr. died. And although Ryan has learned about Martin Luther King Jr., he really didn't get it. He has known that Abraham Lincoln was a great president, but never really understood why. So we told him. We told him what slavery was and that, even when Black people were technically free, they still couldn't eat at McDonalds. Can you imagine not being able to eat at McDonalds just because of the color of your skin?!? And Mommy used a bad word. The word STUPID is a bad word in our house and that is the word I used to describe our country and the choices that we made in treating African Americans. Ryan did a double take as I said this to him. But what other word can you use to describe the actions of our country in the treatment of anyone NOT WHITE? To an 8 year old, is it not STUPID to tell someone they can't use a drinking fountain? Or ride a bus? Or have an important job?

I hope both boys continue to grow up blissfully ignorant of racial issues. I hope that seeing different races and genders in the White House becomes normal. And expected. I hope we can stop being STUPID.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Weekend Update

Typically busy weekend at the royal residence. I'll just say this now and get it out of the way: I have no Halloween pictures. None. I can hear your collective audible gasp. What kind of mother forgets her camera and takes ZERO pictures on Halloween? One that works and has to meet her family at church for the carnival, that's who. One that is married to a man who NEVER takes pictures.

This won't be hard for you to imagine, though. Eric was Spiderman for the 3rd year in a row. And Ryan was Obi Wan Kenobi and wore a costume so similar to last year's Anakin costume that I called him Anakin for most of the evening. So just look at last year's pictures and you can consider yourself caught up.

On Saturday Tiffany and Blake came for the day. Marcus is in Greece doing some opera-y thing for the month, so we thought it would be fun give Tiffany a break. The boys were in heaven. They adore Blake. Ryan begged to hold Blake every chance he got and they loved to make faces at him and try to make him smile.

And when I haven't been working at the shop, I have been knitting. You would not believe the orders that are coming in. Who are these rich people buying cupcake baby hats by the dozens?!? Certainly no one I know. I'm finished with Ryan's Harry Potter sweater and just need to seam it up, but when I will make the time to do that is anyone's guess. I keep it in the living room, in a heap that is always in my way, hoping that I'll get annoyed enough to just finish it and put it away in his drawer. But sadly, I haven't reached that point yet. Which gives you an inkling of the state of my house these days. Did I mention I'm hosting a dinner party on Saturday? Pulling this off should be good. I already warned my guests that I may be greeting them at the door with a basket of laundry for each of them to fold. We'll see if they ever come back to my house!

I'm finished with Caroline's socks, which are pretty darn cute if I do say so myself (like I can take any credit for this self striping yarn). In fact, they are so cute, that Heidi took one look at them and immediate bought the same yarn for me to make a pair for her.

And look--I'm actually knitting something for me. A few weeks ago the shop got in a shipment of Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn and I fell in love. I knew I would not be leaving that day without some Happy Feet. And as it happened to be my birthday, my boss gave me a gift card, which made my decision even easier--since I couldn't choose between two colorways, I bought them both! I'm making the Nutkin pattern, found on Ravelry, which I'm enjoying very much. And I'm forcing myself to use 2 circular needles, which, I hate to admit, is not completely objectionable.

So that's life here. Early in the morning I try to clean something and then I spend some time working on the computer while Eric becomes Wii Fit-ter and fitter. And then after I take him to school I look around my scary cluttered hovel, sigh, and knit some baby hats in peace and quiet before collecting Spidey and his grumpy pre-pubescent older brother from the bus. After dinner I knit on the hats a bit longer. Around 9:00 I allow myself to knit for me. And while this is going on the King is doing whatever it is he does on his laptop on the couch next to me and every so often I sigh and tell him that I could really use some help cleaning up around this place, now that I'm working so much. And as he looks around I can read on his face that he is thinking What? This place looks fine to me. If it's smaller than a basketball it is invisible to me so I don't know what that crazy lady is complaining about. But he knows that his very life depends on not actually saying those words out loud, so instead he tells me what I want to hear, and then we continue to live in squalor.

Ryan has his first sleep-over birthday party this weekend. I don't think that will make him cranky at all, do you?