Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back with a Vengance

So perhaps you may have noticed a longer-than-usual break here at The Knitting Queen. No reason, really. Between my new job at the bank and trying to manage all the people in this 5 acres of craziness, time has somehow slipped by. I can't say I'm accomplishing much of anything these days. My knitting is practically at a standstill, I seem to read about 3/4 of a book and then move on to the next, and the laundry is in a constant state of needing to be put away.

Stuff just isn't getting done these days. Including my blog. But just when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever have anything of interest to write about again, the mother of all stories presented itself to me this weekend.

We had a bar-b-que this last weekend. Regular old bar-b-que for Memorial Day. Just like all of you. We invited a group of people over for a bar-b-que. My first clue that this wasn't going to go as planned was the torrential rains. It has been raining here for 3 solid weeks, so I guess no one should have been surprised about rain over the entire holiday weekend, but one can always hope.

One of our guests asked to bring her dog. He's a sweet little Jack Russell mix and Nicole didn't want to leave him alone for the long day. We're not really "dog people" and, while we don't really have a dog friendly place, it also didn't seem hostile to dogs, so we told her it would be fine on one condition--Max would have to stay outside because of our indoor cats. So Max was having a grand time running around the yard, chasing rabbits, playing ball with Eric...the perfect guest.

After a bit, Benita and her family arrived. These are people I had never met and they had never been to our home. At the moment we opened the door to them, I'm thinking what is that horrid smell? They were carrying armloads of food, but the smell was positively rancid. At the same time, Benita and her family are walking into a strange house for the first time thinking what is that horrid smell and I'm sure instantly regretting their decision to spend the afternoon with us.

Because this was the precise moment Nicole hears Max yowling and whimpering. And she and my husband follow the sounds, and the smells, to the trap door that leads under the house. The trap door Mike was about to send Eric through, until I flew out of the house and shrieked THAT'S THE SEPTIC! The septic. In 5 acres, 5 entire acres, this is the one place Max managed to find trouble. Under the house. In the septic tank.

Then, in the pouring down rain, Mike has to reach in there and pull Max out. Max, the white dog, who emerged gray with sewer water pouring off of him. Who then proceeded to shake it all off and run around the porch, still shaking, while we all ran around screaming and retching and laughing until tears poured from our eyes. Benita and her family were sort of frozen in the kitchen, witnesses to the worst bar-b-que ever, while I ran through the house to find old towels and shampoo and buckets and Mike and Nicole tried to give Max a bath in the driveway in the pouring down rain while Max, who was frankly a little put out by what had happened to him, continued to shake and fling droplets of putridness all over. And my boys were scared to ever go on to the porch again, because the smell lingered for a long long time and I then had to do a load of laundry in the middle of our party because Mike and Nicole certainly couldn't carry on as they were and no one could bear the thought of those clothes not immediately being boiled.

And did I mention that these were people I didn't know? They are friends of my husband, but this is the impression made upon these people who had never been to our home and never met me.

And then my parents, who were on the mainland for the day, called to tell me they were on the ferry coming home, so I proceeded to tell them of the days events, which made my dad laugh so hard that he was unable to speak. He actually had to hang up and then call me back after collecting himself to let us know that that particular septic was for the kitchen, not the bathroom, so technically it was gray water. Which is not the very very worst it can get. It's the 2nd worst it can get. And still worth boiling water and throwing away the slippers worn by Mike during the dog washing because he was too panicked to change into shoes and still worth throwing away the mop used on the porch floor because can you really think of a reason not to replace it?

And then we all somehow managed to eat. And drank more than we maybe would have had that not happened. And a special bond was formed.

Later that day dad mentioned that, due to the house being over 100 years old, and everything in it being over 100 years old, the lid to the kitchen septic had disintegrated and was needing to be replaced. It just hadn't been high on the list. The mile long list of things that need to be done around here. Which caused me to ask how can anything possibly be ABOVE that on the list? Which caused another complete laughing fit from him when I questioned the split rail fence taking priority over THE LID TO THE SEPTIC TANK.

And if you think this story is concluding, read on: the next morning Mike, my husband with only one good eye, woke up with an infection in that one good eye. Causing all of us to panic a bit when we realized that dipping into the septic tank and becoming intimately close to a dog covered in gray water may have had something to do with that. And because I had promised my parents that I would help move my mom's antique stall from her current antique mall to the one across the street (which is a story for another day), Mike took the boat into Everett with the boys, on Memorial Day, to see the doctor and relay the story to explain his great need for antibiotics.

Folks, you can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Chickens!

Look what came to the farm today--14 baby chicks!

Is there really anything I can add? I mean, look at this.

Of course, in true Ryan-almost-10-year-old-tweener-angst, he refused to even touch one of the chicks. While he fully intends to reap the benefits of the egg sales, Ryan will not be holding them so quit asking him already.

Will the adventures never end?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Island Life, Chapter 16

Once again, I experienced Island Life to its fullest today. I mean, sometimes it's like I'm on another planet.

I've been making friends with the owner of the local yarn shop here. It's a really sweet little shop and she has some lovely yarns. When we first moved up here, I of course sought her out right away, just sure she had a job opening with my name on it. That actually didn't work out so well, but I began popping in every so often, we started to warm to each other, and I have been able to convince her that I'm actually pretty savvy around a yarn shop.

All this to say I am now on her schedule to teach two classes this spring and I spent much of my day today working on a little website for her.

But here--let me back up for a moment. I had planned to meet Cindi at her shop this morning and, silly me, assumed she opened at 10:00. After dropping the kids off at school, I had what I thought was an hour to kill, so I took my book (The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Have you read this book? Holy Smokes but I can't put it down) to the coffee shop (yes, the coffee shop) and happily read for an hour.

Then I packed my self up and drove over to the yarn shop. Which on a less blustery day should have been within walking distance, since the town of Langley only has two streets....but as I was saying, I drove to the shop, parked, and noticed that it was closed. At 10:00 in the morning. Closed. With no sign on the door and no hours posted, I had to assume that she was following the hours of the shop next door, which was opening at 11:00.

Fine. I have an hour to kill. So I decided to go to the library. The sweetest little small town library, across from the coffee shop and next to the City Hall. Closed. Until 11:00. Great. I suppose a less self conscience person would have gone back to the coffee shop for another 45 minutes. But not me. I ended up sitting in my car, freezing half to death while reading, waiting for the yarn shop to open.

And don't think for a moment that all the shops in Langley open at 11:00. Only some of them do. Many open at 10:00. Or so. And several are closed on Tuesdays. And some stay open until 5:00. Except for the ones that close at 4:30. It's a very frustrating system and poorly coordinated. Like the church we attended on Sunday. That was suppose to start at 10:00, but that really started at 10:15 because of all the meandering going on....Whenever I mention this faulty scheduling system to my parents they simple shrug and say "island time."

So yes, I'm going to teach a couple of classes. I'll make a couple of bucks and if all goes well, I won't cause anyone to cry.

On a farming note, it is apparently time to order baby chicks. Eric is already thinking up names. Naming dad's turkeys Lunch and Dinner made it a lot easier to say goodbye. Think Eric is ready for that lesson yet?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Well, at least I have the time....

Look at my Must Have Cardigan! Isn't it pretty? Don't you just love the cables? And the yummy charcoal gray tweed? So pretty...

It's a shame that it's 2 inches too short all the way around and that, as a "professional" knitter and former yarn shop employee, I failed to do a gauge swatch (I mean, what a waste of time, right? Cascade 220 is a fairly reliable yarn...), look at the schematics, or at any point before knitting halfway up the armhole decide to compare it to an existing cardigan. I started knitting a size M. Because I'm generally an M. I rarely wear an L, so why would I possibly look at the measurements for an L?

In fact, it wasn't until I laid it out to take a picture for you that I realized that it was looking rather petite.

So now it looks like this.
Because knitting 3/4 of the back of a multi-charted cabled sweater took virtually no time at all. Once I get over my disgust and am able to look that yarn in the eye again, I suppose I'll have to knit a swatch. Mainly to determine if I've been using the right needles. It was very convenient for me to use the recommended needles because I just happen to have some size 7-24" circular needles. What I don't have are size 8-24" circular needles. Which I'm thinking may be an investment in my near future. Sigh.
And the whole time I'm measuring, swearing, and unraveling, my little pal Lily is helping me. Lily is my mom's cat. Lily likes yarn. Now, this still surprises me from time to time because I'm used to Alice--the passive-aggressive-neurotic-doorstop-shaped-like-a-cat-I-have-no-interest-in-anything-that-real-cats-like cat. Lily is 2 years old and a little friskier than we are used to. Which means Eric is in heaven. In our old house Eric regularly asked for his own kitten. As if we didn't own a cat at all. He dismissed Alice for the useless lump that she is and explained that he wanted a kitty that would play with a ball of yarn. Well kid--here you go.

The one thing I am successfully knitting are these Pagewood Farms socks for my niece, Ellie (I said successfully knitting, not photographing. In case you are wondering, they are green).

But with no job and with Dad on the mend, I apparently have all the time in the world to knit the same sweater twice.

Etsy turned me down. Not a huge shock, since I'm sure they had thousands upon thousands of applications. Really, it was an honor just to be nominated. Still, it would have been the perfect job for me. And that other job that I've been waiting and waiting and waiting on....well, apparently the hiring person was out sick for a while and, according to her last email to me, it's not dead yet. So at some point I may actually be employed. But I'm not yet. So very not employed. My resume has circled this island many many times, but I seem to be in a bit of a slump at the moment.

What a great time to knit a sweater. Again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Random Musings from a Fake Pioneer

No, really, this has been a week that has reinforced every stereotype of my life up here in Amish country.

Like, for instance, the flock of turkeys I passed on the side of the road driving the kids to school. I don't mean that this flock of turkeys was in a fenced-in pen or yard. That would be typical of island life. No, these turkeys were walking down the street. Turkeys.

Or how about the fact that I know people on the ferry now. And I don't even commute.

Or our adventures at the movies the other night. Yes, that's right, another visit to The Clyde. This time we saw Up In The Air. We sat down in our usual place and a nice older couple sat down behind us. The woman tapped me on the shoulder and said "I'll pay you not to move, since I can see perfectly over your head." So we laughed about that and got to chatting a bit and somehow got to talking about my dad and the importance of The Clyde in his life. And low and behold, we met Steve and Wanda, some random friends of my parents that I hear about all the time, but had never met. THAT is what happens here on Gilligan's Island--it all comes full circle and without even trying you become completely enveloped into this wacky little society.

Or the little barber shop Mike and the boys went to last weekend where they paid a total of $34.00 for 3 haircuts. While Ryan tried to figure out how they stuffed all the game birds that decorated the shop.

And then there is life here on the farm. My dad had foot surgery a couple of days ago. So now guess who's parents are secretly happy their unemployed daughter is hanging around the house? Otherwise, who would my dad call from his cell phone in the living room to the house phone in the kitchen to have me go shut the drapes because the sunlight was causing a glare on the tv?

Yes, that is correct. I am still unemployed. That one opportunity that I thought would pan out? It still may. But it hasn't yet. For now. In the meantime, I had completely put that Etsy job out of my head because why pin all your hopes on a job that is literally one in a million? But get this--they contacted me! Yes indeedy, they actually thought I was worth a look. They sent me a writing assignment last week, which I have completed and zipped back to them through the magic of the internet. And now we wait.

I finished knitting my mom a pair of socks last night and wound yarn to knit a pair for my niece. That, I am counting among my greatest accomplisments of this week. And now that I have taught my dad how to correctly use his tv remote, my work here is done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today's post is about knitting. Because that is all I have to report to you. I still have no job (although something may be on the horizon, so stay tuned....), so I figured, might as well knit! With buckets of yarn and time on my hands, I should put myself to good use.

This is mom's finished vest. As you can see from this fine photography, I am the one responsible for this quality photo. Don't ask me why I chose to put this white towel under the vest for picture-taking purposes. But by now you should all remember that photography has never been a strength of mine. Anyway, let's focus on what is important here--the vest is finished. All mom has to do is pick out some buttons and then she is in business!

And about two weeks ago I started the coveted, ever-so-hard-to-find-pattern for the Paton's Must Have Cardigan. The Yarn Harlot knit it about a year and a half ago and I thought it was adorable. I had high-tailed it to Pacific Fabrics and purchased the last copy of the booklet, with no clue on how I would ever afford the yarn or when I would find the time to knit it. A few months later I was given a Christmas bonus at the shop and was able to purchase yarn at a considerable and generous discount for a limited time. I scooped up all of the deep charcoal Cascade 220 Tweed we had in the shop, and then ended up with this whole project in a bag just sitting on a shelf, taunting me.

Fast forward about 14 months and here we are. I am actually knitting this luscious object for me. I absolutely love the yarn and the pattern is quite easy. Not to say that I haven't made my share of mistakes, but all of them due to my inability to use that pesky universal numbering system we all like to call MATH.

Among my non-knitting activities lately are celebrating Eric's birthday by taking the boys and their cousins to Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel (everyone says how traumatized they were by The Single Ladies. Much harder for me to take was their complete butchering of Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round) and the hugely overrated Harlem Globetrotters. Oh, so much of my life is about me these days...

I will say this--remember the person I met at Avatar who asked me about my knitting? Fast friends. We had coffee about 2 weeks ago and spent 2 1/2 hours talking, with only 10 minutes of it about knitting. Tomorrow I'm going to her home for lunch and more knitting.

So my life no long completely sucks. Now it just mostly sucks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Eric

Today Eric is 7!
Eric, that stubborn kid who did not want to come into the world. My 2nd born and supposedly easier labor, did not make it easy. Eric was face up and would not turn around and come out. Eric is a cozy kid and knew, even from the moment of his birth, that he would rather be snuggled up somewhere warm, rather than get out there and do something productive. He finally did come out, but not without a fight.

But once he eventually emerged, he has been a complete delight to everyone in his life.

With those blue eyes and thick blond hair, he has become quite the ladies man. We know the names of all of the boys in Eric's class. The names of the girls are all, collectively, "I don't want to talk about it." This is especially true when we run into a classmate of the female persuasion, who bats her eyes and beams "Hi Eric!" Eric should carry a shovel with him at all times for the purpose of digging a hole to bury himself in each time that happens.

Because if you were a cute 7 year old girl, wouldn't you want a piece of this?

Eric is a kid who has always been perfectly content to leave his life just the way it is. I mean, why change clothes when you can wear this red Elmo shirt each and every single solitary day the entire year you are 3? And even now, 4 years later, you still think it's in the laundry because your mom could not find another way to convince you that it was time to give it up.

The same kid who has burned through 3, count 'em, 3 Spiderman costumes. To the point of disintegration. We kept replacing them because for Eric's entire preschool career, this was a wardrobe staple. We washed these costumes as regularly as we washed his sheets. Oh, the conundrum that is Eric--the child who complains every day about the drudgery of school, yet just received a "well above average" score on his report card in math and reading, and likes to add double digit numbers in his head for fun. Eric, who loves to curl up in his Snuggie and cuddle with Grandma's kittycat, while watching his favorite fire-breathing dragon scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Eric, who makes cozy little houses for his Webkinz after a hard day of shooting bows and arrows with Grandpa. Eric, who has both The Chipmunks and Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer recorded on his DSI.
Happy birthday to our little Renaissance Man--you make us happy and you make us laugh each and every day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's Play Two!

Hey, look at that--two posts in a row.

As you can see, the boys are faring pretty well. Grandpa has several go-karts, in various stages of being rebuilt, but fortunately at least one is always in working order. What can two boys do with go-karts and 5 acres of land? Life on the farm definitely has its perks.

And the news on the job front, you ask? Yeah, I've got nothing to report. Well, that's not completely true...just nothing good to report.

Job interview number 1 was for a well established organization that pays well, has fabulous benefits, and can take over a year to get into. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm about halfway through a process that I started about 8 months ago. The good news is, I am continuing to work through this process and am making progress. The bad news is this is a job for the future. Nothing that can benefit me at all at the present.

Job interview number 2 did not go well. Again, it was for a well established organization, but up here on the island. It was not a good job--very entry level, but it would be a way to get into their system and move my way around. The problem is that I interviewed with two of the most boring human beings on the planet. Think I'm kidding? These were two women that had no personality. They were dull. They didn't smile. Or laugh when I attempted a little humor. Or give me any non-verbal queues at all. I interviewed for a job with two robots. Hard to connect with a robot. When one called to tell me that I didn't get the job, she sounded like one of those voice recognition devices. I think she may have hired another robot.

Job interview number 3 went pretty well, in my humble opinion. We clicked. We connected. She told me that I had many of the qualities they are looking for. Her son is in the 4th grade. My son is in the 4th grade. I could already seeing us having lunch together in the breakroom. I was suppose to hear by the end of last week and so far have heard nothing. The job is still posted, which means that A) she has been out sick and unable to get to the phone to offer me the job, B) offered the job to someone else who apparently has 2 sons in the 4th grade and forgot to pull the job posting, or C) the job is still open and they would rather start the whole process over again than offer it to me, even those I have many of the qualities they are looking for and my son is also in the 4th grade. Bottom line, it's not looking good.

So, I continue to look and look and look....I did actually apply for a job on Etsy. Yes, that's right--Etsy. They have a job listed for a Forum Moderator. And so even though I don't live in Brooklyn, or anywhere close to Brooklyn, I applied for that job. Because I can so do that job. And I could do it remotely. Don't you think? So I applied. What have I got to lose--I mean, it's literally a one in a million shot, right?

And since this is suppose to be a blog about knitting, I will now tell you about the knitting. There--mom's vest. I have 1/2 of the button band and one cuff left. The yarn is driving me crazy. It's Berocco's Blackstone Tweed and is a wool/alpaca mix. It's a beautiful yarn and I'm enjoying working with it, but it has no strength and breaks very easily. Very easily.

And oh my word I am finally finally finally working on Penny's socks. I promised them to her about 500 years ago, started working on them, lost my home and moved to a farm, had a nervous breakdown, and am now picking them up again. I'm doing the Hourglass Rib socks from my new favorite book, Knitted Gifts and using my beloved Pagewood Farms sock yarn. Yum!

That's all for now folks. Enjoy your rare double header. Your welcome.

Shopping with Sybil

I know that lately I've been writing a lot more about Eric than Ryan. It's really not intentional. I mean, aside from the fact that Ryan has turned into a big fat tweener, complete with attitude, eye rolling, and a sarcastic THANKS as a retort to every thing I say (doesn't seem to matter if THANKS even works--that's what I get. As in "Ryan, can you please put your shoes away?" "THANKS!" See what I mean?).

But Eric, well Eric is an enigma. I've said that before and I'm sure I'll say it again. Eric is a complex creature. This here is one side of Eric. All snuggled up with Grandma. Eric loves Grandma, loves to snuggle--especially in his cozy pjs, with a blanket and an armload of Webkinz. Eric loves kitties, and baby animals, and Alvin and the Chipmunks....

Eric is also the kid who has always loved hot flowing lava. And flesh eating dinosaurs. Eric can whine like you have never heard before. And then can turn on a dime and respond to you in his biggest big-kid voice. Eric is a lazy bum who does nothing productive. Ever. And excels in school without even trying. It has taken me half of the school year to figure out that my first grader is reading at a 3rd grade level, because he refuses to read to me. He's been tired. And for fun, Eric likes to add 2-digit numbers in his head. It's a fun little game we like to call "wait--mommy needs a calculator."

This is the kid we took shoe shopping yesterday. We were at Fred Meyer with a bunch of coupons and it was a good opportunity to buy the boys some much needed tennis shoes. Ryan found his right away and, miracle upon miracles, was perfectly happy.

Eric wanted red. And velcro. And he wears a size 2. And this was a combination not found at Fred Meyer yesterday. So he whined. And flailed on the floor. And complained about every single solitary pair of shoes we had him try on. At one point we had him trying on a pair that was a size bigger and he walked around whining "they're too small." "Eric, those are a size 3." "Then they're too big..." This is a stubborn child. I know all of you think your kids are stubborn, and as a rule, I think most kids are, but Eric majors in stubborn. Eric can make a career out of being stubborn.

We tried. We really did. But we couldn't find the shoes Eric wanted. We're not cobblers and we don't work for Fred Meyer, so our resources were limited. Which was completely unacceptable in Eric's eyes.

With the sale price and the in-store coupon, those Nikes were honestly, truly $7.50. So we put them in the cart. While Eric is lying in the aisle at Fred Meyer carrying on about how it's just not fair and he wants red shoes and he hates laces and it's not fair and he hates the perfectly good shoes we picked out and he wants red and then, like a beam of light straight from heaven with the angels singing the Hallelujah chorus, these Converse high tops gawd-awful dragon shoes suddenly started to glow. The lights dimmed, the store became quiet, and it was just Eric and these shoes. He let out a little gasp. Then he picked himself up, wiped his nose with his sleeve, put on his biggest big-kid voice, and announced that those were his new shoes. He was confident. He was standing a little taller. He was already planning all of the times he could wear these shoes that, don'tcha know it go with everything. These were the shoes he had been looking for. These were the shoes of his dreams. And I said what any good mother would say in this circumstance. I said there is no way in hell I am buying Sybil these shoes are you kidding me? as Eric had already selected a size 2 and was putting them in the cart.

Mike looked at the sale sign, did a little quick math, and pointed out that these shoes were going to cost a total of $5.00. Which is $4.50 more than they are worth. I looked that little psycho straight in the eye and told him that he was not allowed to wear them on gym days and was not allowed to wear them to soccer and that he would proudly wear the perfectly good Nikes we picked out on those other days. And Eric puffed out his little chest, said OK! and went off to pick out valentines.

I'm meeting my new movie/knitting friend for coffee tomorrow. My mom is leery. I looked at her and said "but you met Joy at a garage sale, looking through a total stranger's crap." "Yeah" she said "but that was different." This is the same woman who called me on the phone today to discuss dinner and gave me a long detailed explanation of how to wash the lettuce. Did I mention I'm 41? I think I'll be fine at tomorrow's playdate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ah, I See How This is Done...

Island life, chapter 18. This week at The Clyde, Avatar is showing. Mike has been watching the schedule for weeks and now, finally, Avatar is at The Clyde.

At first just Mike was going to go. Then it was Mike and Ryan. Then my dad got in on the act and invited his friend, Greg, as well. And upon hearing all of this, Eric promptly burst into tears when I explained that I didn't think he was old enough for Avatar.

So Mike consulted his "friends" (and I'm using this term loosely right now, you liars) on Facebook and asked what they thought of bringing a 7 year old to see Avatar. All of you. Each and every single one of you stated that it would be fine. Not scary. Not violent. Harry Potter was worse. If Eric can handle his brother watching Lord of the Rings on my parent's tiny little half broken tv in the brightly lit family room while he himself is only half paying attention and playing his DS at the same time, then Avatar shouldn't phase him at all.

Really? Not one of you remembered the significant battle scene at the end? And all the giant arrows? Not to give anything away, but guess what the giant arrows were used for. No one remembered the freaky attack dogs? You all glossed over that fact because you were so mesmerized by the magic that is James Cameron? The man, who with all his trillions of dollars, can and should clearly be able to afford a watch?

Ok--for the record, Eric wasn't phased at all by the movie. He loved it. All those freaky creatures and giant flying pterodactyl things? Loved them. I, however, have issue with the fact that you all thought this was a movie for children. Liars. We won't mention the language used in the movie. All of the clearly enunciated four letter words still don't bother me as much the exploding people. You all saw the same movie, right?

Yes yes yes, I went too. And it was a great movie. FOR ADULTS. But a great movie nonetheless. I really try not to support much that James Cameron does, but I'll hand it to him--this was pretty good.

Being the only show in town, we had to arrive early to get seats. So it should come as no surprise that I arrived prepared for the wait with knitting in hand. As I was sitting there waiting and knitting, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The woman behind me said "you're knitting!" and asked if I knew of any yarn shops in the area. She is apparently new the the island looking for knitting help and support. I told her about the the little shop that is just around the corner from The Clyde and she told me that she's a pretty new knitter and is really intimidated by the "round kind of needles" I was using. I told her that, to be honest, I'm actually fairly good. And before I knew what I was doing I was giving this perfectly nice and normal person my name, email address, and cell phone number. Mike just looked at me and said "and now you know how your parents are always making friends at the gas station".

Monday, January 25, 2010


I have had all day to write this post. All day. When I say all day, I mean I had this 100 year old farm house to myself for 6 uninterrupted hours (unless you count the phone call my mom made to me, from work, to tell me my husband might like me to go to the store and buy him some lunch meat. Mike has said zero words to me about this, but apparently it's a slow day around the ol' library--slow enough for a woman to think about what her son-in-law has for lunch) and I spent about 5 1/2 hours of it thinking that, wow, this would be such a great opportunity to write, being completely alone and all.

But no. I squandered my time. When you have no job and no life and no attainable goals, it's easy to let all productivity fall by the wayside. The fact that I had to actually leave the house to retrieve my kids from

school apparently gave me a sudden burst of energy. So let's go with it.

See that pair of mittens? That is my biggest accomplishment in quite some time. If I could bottle the amount of concentration and energy it took to knit these things, all of our problems would be solved. But alas....

And I'm delighted to say that it's about 50 degrees, so wearing these mittens is pointless. In other words, these mittens could not be less useful in every sense of the word. But you can't say they're not pretty....

And while we're on the subject of big huge wastes of time, let's talk about mom's vest. Or rather, my ability to correctly read the directions for mom's vest. Yarn, fabulous. Pattern, fine. My reading skills, worse than Eric's, apparently.

I was zipping right along and getting into the shoulder shaping for the back when I picked up the pattern and read in horror--I had been doing my decreases all wrong! Aacckk! So I quickly ripped back about 5 inches of knitting, tried to sort out where I was suppose to be, and realized that my only "mistake" was in momentarily looking at the directions for the left front. In other words, I ripped out 5 perfectly good inches of knitting for no good reason. So I threw that in my basket in disgust. Because one thing I do know about myself --when I reach a certain level of exasperation, it is in everyone's best interest that I put the knitting down.

Mom's socks
Lorna's Laces Mineshaft, ala Jane
Ok, so I'm doing quite a bit of whining here. I have no life and I live with my parents. Humor me. I actually do have a full week ahead of me--three, count 'em, three job interviews. Just think how much my life is going to suck when none of them pan out. But I will say, they are for three well established and reputable organizations--none of this flaky-meet-a-guy-in-a-bar-and-have-him-get-annoyed-that-you-didn't-update-his-Ebay-store-as-promised-even-though-he-never-gave-you-the-copy-and-also-forgot-to-pay-his-Ebay-bill business. These are real job interviews for real jobs. And I can really get turned down. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
On the bright side, I get to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Don't I seem like the kind of person to want to sit front row at a Harlem Globetrotters performance/game/whatever you want to call it? We were given some Christmas money and put it in the bank, not sure of what to do with it. Then a few weeks ago we saw the commercial on tv. Mike was about 7 when he first saw the Globetrotters and has always wanted to take the boys--when the commercial aired, Ryan was completely fascinated. And how excited am I that we get to sit in the front row? Think they'll notice if I knit?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oh Look--A Blog Post About Knitting!

Alright people, I'm back with the program. In between trying to heat an unheated house, driving through the woods to bring my kids to school and shopping for used books at the 27 places that sell used books around here (think I'm kidding? I've probably purchased 25 books since moving up here, and paid about $6 total) I actually have been knitting.

These socks have been sent to our friend Scott in Bozeman, where I hear it is about 10 below. They are from the ultra fabulous Knitted Gifts book and made from Alpaca Sox.

I've also been making some serious progress on my Snowbird mittens. Unfortunately it's now 50 degrees every day, so I don't see myself wearing them anytime soon. But at least I'll be able to say that I finished them...

A couple of weeks ago I dragged my mom into a yarn shop. My mom does not knit. Has never held a knitting needle in her hand and seems to have no desire to try. But it was very interesting to see her in the yarn shop--she was fascinated. Mesmerized. Was completely drawn to the fibers and the colors. She found this Berroco Blackstone Tweed and had to have it. Really--she could not stop thinking about it and had to have something made from this yummy wool/mohair/angora blend.

She started looking through my books and magazines--I even showed her how to use Ravelry. And then she saw an ad for this vest in a Vogue Knitting magazine. This was it. She had to have this vest. And you know, it is actually the perfect weight for this yarn. We ordered the booklet and the yarn and I am now about four inches into it.

I have to say, I do love this yarn. I really do. And I love the fact that my mom has projects in mind, will buy the materials, and then let me knit them for her. This is a very nice arrangement. She has also found a Debbie Bliss sweater, all kitted up from Knit Picks, for a fraction of what it would cost in a store. She is pining for this sweater and is still in disbelief that, if we purchase the book from Knit Picks and their yarns, the whole thing will be about $40.

Now, I'm conflicted about this. I support my Local Yarn Stores. I worked in an LYS. I understand how the internet is undercutting the small business owner. I support the small business owner. But I'm broke. And my parents are not exactly wealthy. Debbie Bliss yarns are $8-9 a skein. This sweater, plus the book, would cost $130 in a shop. So when you combine a love of knitting with a virtually non-existent budget, Knit Picks starts to look pretty desirable.

Besides, I'm saving my money for my next trip to Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek. Holy Toledo that is a beautiful shop with an enormous inventory of beautiful yarns. 20 minutes of looking with a husband breathing down my neck did not satisfy me on my first trip.

And how is life on the farm you ask? Rural. Tree-filled. Inundated with rabbits. 1/4 tank of gas away from anything. Brown.

Time to go. Keith Urban is about to be on Ellen and I need to give him my full attention.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

...and sometimes material presents itself.

I included the 1940 International Harvester
tractor in this picture because, well, do you
have to ask??

How many of you were waiting for the blog post about the day the well pump broke? I mean, we live on a freaking farm--at some point there has got to be a story about a well, right?

Today is your lucky day.

The pump broke. That means no water. Turn the faucet on--no water. This happened at the end of a day that included no internet service because it drizzled. Stupid farm.

I won't go into the details of how the 35 year old pump that is 150 feet under ground broke, but I tell you this--I know a lot about wells now. You would never read this blog again if I filled it with my knowledge of wells and pumps and how to fix them. But I could...

I'm sure someone looking at this
will think it's cool.

That truck is owned by the repair guy and the giant crane attached to it is what pulls pipe out of the ground, 20 feet at a time, to get to the broken pump. My dad got over the fact that the well was broken pretty quickly when he got to see these guys in action. He even instructed me to get Ryan's new camcorder to tape the riveting action of pump repair. He said it was for the boys, since they were in school and had to miss it. Mmmm hmmmm.

Late this afternoon I was reminded of another, shall we say feature of small town life when Bruce, the neighbor, stopped by. Bruce used to own my parents' property, subdivided it, and built his current house in the back 5 acres. My parents share the well with Bruce, so Bruce stopped by to talk to my dad about the repairs.

Here's the thing. People are always stopping by. All. The. Time. Just popping in for a visit. No calls, no warnings. Barely any knocking. One day I found John in the kitchen, just letting me know that he was here to pick up his moose meat. Yeah, you heard me.

On Saturday John's wife stopped by. She was on a walk, so she thought she'd drop by for a visit. Apparently this is perfectly normal around here. Which is why I see Joy about once a week on her way home from work, standing on the porch. I'm cooking dinner and suddenly there is a rap on the back door. Joy. With something random for my mom. It works the other way too. I've unwittingly inflicted the pop-in on people when traveling around town with mom. And 90 minutes later we're back on our way....I'm learning to say no when mom asks if I want to run a few quick errands. I just don't have that much time.

Tonight the well is in prime working order again and all is right with the world. For now. I need to start dinner, which means Joy should be here any second.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Found it!

The Farm
When I talk about The Farm,
this is what I mean.

Found the cable to my camera. Don't ask me where it was. I don't know. So now I have a whole smattering of pictures to share with you, which I will do as I tell you about life here on an island that has no central heating.

The town of Langley is five miles from my parents' home. It's a sweet little town--it has a little library in the cutest building (and it contains about 8 books), it has a post office, it has the Useless Bay Coffee Company (which makes the best cup of coffee I have ever had), a bunch of little boutique-y type shops, eateries, and a ton of bookstores.

Really, a lot of bookstores, given the three streets that make up downtown Langley. One shop sells new books, and at least four shops, all within a one block radius, selling used books. Of course, there is a yarn shop. And there is The Clyde movie theater.

My new office
Piles of yarn behind the couch
in my mom's family room.
Handy, convenient, and attractive.

The Clyde has about 250 seats and gets new movies that are on their way out of the mainland and are finishing up at all reputable movie theaters. It's great, actually. The tickets are $6, and $4 for a weekend matinee. Each movie is shown for about 3 days, and then the next one is brought in. Each month The Clyde puts out a schedule, which is the calendar by which my dad plans every other part of his life. A large popcorn is about $2 AND they let you bring in your own food. Like the fish and chips I walked in with, outstretched in my hands and not hidden away in my purse like I was smuggling gold.

Speed Racer
This is Eric's go-kart.
That my dad, McGuyver,
fashioned out of 3 pipe cleaners,
a lawn mower engine, and some dental floss.

And it's very apparent that my dad is not the only movie officianado on this island. Downtown Langley at 4:15 on a Saturday afternoon is the place to be.

Mike and I went to see The Blind Side (of which I cannot speak too highly, including what a cutie-pie that Tim McGraw is). We went early to park the car and walk around a bit (hitting 3 of the used bookstores as well as the yarn shop. I mean, they're right there...). We had been warned that, for the "good ones", you need to line up 45 minutes early. Mike is not one to heed my mother's warnings, but he also knows I'm a child of my dad and like to select my seats early.

Baby hats
See, I've been knitting...

Sure enough--4:15 and people were pouring into this teeny tiny little theater.

Mike and I sat in our (excuse me, MY) carefully chosen seats, eating our dinner, watching Langley night life spring into action. This theater is clearly the highlight of everyone's week.

In any other movie theater, the patrons come in two by two, everyone talks in hushed tones, and it's a very insular event. Not here. At The Clyde, people come in groups. In packs. There were clusters of people all over the theater who had been planning this event together. And wouldn't you know--they all knew the other clusters of people. So it was like a big cocktail party before this movie began. It was loud, people were standing up at their seats as well as in the aisles visiting with each other, and Mike and I were feeling both smug and isolated at the same time that we were the only people in this theater that didn't know all of the other 248 people there.

Eric's Aunt Tiffany and Uncle Marcus have
recently acquired Beatles Rock Band. Guess
who gets 98% every time he plays....

Until we heard "Hi Mike!" and, as luck would have it, we actually ran into an acquaintance with whom Mike use to work. The one person we know on this floating piece of land.

And just like that, we hiccupped our way into Island society just a little bit.

Harpo and Halo
Ryan and his friend, Ben,
as surfing angels in this
year's Christmas paegent.
I'm starting to understand how my parents can meet someone for the first time standing in line at the post office, and then 8 years later spend a night on the town with these now good friends, seeing the 5:00 matinee at The Clyde. This is going to happen to me, isn't it?

Eric, 2nd from right,
getting ready for the
Christmas paegent.

I mean, the most successful job interview I have had so far has been with this guy, Tom, who I met at Cozy's bar, and he handed me his expensive camera to download some pictures for him (don't worry, I know what you're thinking--he sells golf clubs) and start updating his Ebay account. The interview consisted of Tom having a couple of beers, asking me to take his camera home, and of me writing down my name, phone number, and email address, because at some point he was going to sober up and realize that he just handed off his $300 camera to a complete stranger.

Tom and I are still working together and to date he is taking me more seriously than the bank and the phone company. But again--this is life on the island. Not exactly corporate.

My Little Bum
Eric, the day after Christmas.
Wearing his new pj's, new sweatshirt,
playing his new Band Hero on his DS,
with no intention of moving.
That's all for now, people. Hats to knit, chickens to feed...this place doesn't run itself, you know!