Monday, March 31, 2008

Closing in on a Completion Landmark

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am miles and many sleepless nights from being done with the Shirt off our Backs Rug. But with projects of this enormity, it is a sanity saver to find small landmarks along the way.

The rug canvas is comprised of 10 x 10 “units”.

There are a total of 15 columns of “units” and 19 rows of “units.”

After a marathon back-breaking catch-up session on Sunday (during which I entertained myself by also catching up on a backlog of podcasts that included the telling of this joke: “that reminds me of the one about the philandering string theorist who when confronted by his wife said ‘honey, I can explain everything.’” Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either but it was fitting that the hyper-intellectuals of BBC4’s Start the Week would think that was hilarious.) I realized that I was only a day or two away from hitting an important landmark: having at least one unit completed in every row and every column.

By the end of Sunday I had only 1 empty column and 6 empty rows.

And I have more units completed than these numbers suggest because I have multiple rows and multiple columns with that contain several completed units each.

The bad news is that after I reach this one landmark, I’m not sure when my next one will be. One could say it will be when I complete a row or complete a column, but I’m trying to randomize the color pattern across the entire rug, and if I try to do it column by column or row by row I risk running out of colors in one area of the rug thereby creating a pooling effect that is distressing for knitterly-types. So completing a row or completing a column is still a loooong way off.

It’s all very complex.

In other crafty news, I am also closing in on completion of the 2nd front to my bi-color cables project. Were it not for the rug work I would definitely have that panel done today.

I have Tutti news. Tutti totaled her car. She ran a stop sign a block from her home, apparently sliding on a patch of sand (so she said). As you may or may not recall, the folks at the hospital who spent a week testing her told her she could no longer drive. When Tutti’s case worker met with her a few days later, Tutti bemoaned the fact that she could no longer drive. And Tutti’s case worker responded by telling her she could.

So she did.

And a few weeks later she ran a stop sign a block from her home, totaling her own car by plowing into another vehicle that had the right-of-way.

And Tutti’s case worker said, “We need to see what we can do about getting you a new set of wheels!”

Doesn’t it make you feel safe knowing that case workers such as this one are ignoring the advice of trained medical personnel and encouraging their dementia clients to own and operate motor vehicles? Clients who have been diagnosed as being unable to recognize dangerous situations???


The first spring storms are moving through the region. Fortunately, on Saturday we managed to reseed the corner of our property where last fall AT&T dug a trench so they could bury fiber optic cable. They dug the trench, put in the cable, covered the trench back up, and walked away. No smoothing. No soil preparation. Or God forbid—reseeding. Maybe they had plans to return to do all of that this spring, but after 20+ years of living in “a neighborhood with a lot of architectural character,” I know that private businesses and government entities don’t give us the same respect that they would in a newer part of town. Now we take matters into our own hands.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three Jobs

Saturday’s job jar contained three tasks. Exactly three. The following is a list of some of the tools we needed to do these three things:

Miter saw
Circular saw
100-foot extension cord
Black & Decker Workmate
Multi-bit screwdriver
Drill bits
Pry bar
Offset adjustable wrench
Wood file
#2 pencil
Oil-base exterior primer
Oil-base brush
Latex exterior paint
Latex brush
Scrap of treated 1x4
Treated spindle
Exterior grade wood glue
Bow rake
Edging shovel
25# bag K-31 fescue
Leaf rake
Lawn and leaf bags
Leaf paddles
Leaf bag frame

Gathering the supplies alone exhausted us. There will be no knitting content today.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Finished Object(let) and More Numbers

I completed sleeve #1 of the V-neck cardi. No photo—it’s stockinette for goodness sake.

Afterward I placed the completed sleeve on a gram scale: 151 grams.

Then I placed the remaining full and partial skeins of the fiber: 170 grams.

Okay. So the good news is that I definitely have enough of the fiber to finish sleeve #2. However, I still need to frog the back to where I began the arm bind-offs and knit an inch of so more before I begin the bind-offs again in order to match the length dictated by the front side with the buttonholes. Will I have enough to do that? Dunno. I also still need to knit the inside of the pocket on the fronts. That won’t required much, but still... Only 21 grams of fiber to lengthen the back and finish the pockets... it will be close even without factoring in seaming fiber.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

News Postponed

I know, I know. I’m a very cruel person. But I cannot tell you news about an event that has not transpired yet. I can tell you that there is one person who has become near and dear to our hearts who will make this happen as soon as it is possible. But things did not work out quite as expected yesterday, so more work is necessary. We’re probably looking at a few more weeks.

In anticipation of the good news (which did not come), I purchased this:

(note that I was getting lots of help taking this photo)

It will have to wait unwrapped until another day.

And as a stop gap, I purchased this:

(that’s his head, btw)

Which was gutted tragically as I attempted to open it, scattering a good third of its contents across the kitchen floor. I ignored the 10 second rule and threw the escapees away, then salved my loss by eating a quarter of the remaining contents right then and there.

You would have done the same.

But look what came a few days ago:

(a bit out of focus but it was either that or get Nacho’s ass in the shot)

And it is just as fantastic as I recall from the Fresh Air interview.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I’m Cruisin’ Now!

Faced with the harsh reality that there was absolutely no way I was going to complete my mother’s Mother’s Day rug in time, my husband had a brilliant idea. Because she wants this rug to put under her rocking chair to protect her new Pergola floor, he placed the rug canvas on the floor, set our own rocker on top of it, and handed me a pair of scissors. Though somewhat traumatic, this drastic move of slicing huge chunks of canvas away, also cut my work load by a third. No more do I have to finish at least 10 squares every day. Now it’s only 6. Wheee!

The cats are lovin’ every aspect of this project. They adore burrowing under the plain canvas. They are overjoyed at grabbing at the twine. And when the canvas is at rest the completed squares seem to make exceptional ass or head pillows.

Oh, and it now has a proper name: The Shirt off my Back Rug.

Bi-colors is currently at rest. I need to do the arm and neck bind-offs, but I already have two row counters going in tandem for the V-neck cardi sleeves. I have a limit to the number of row counters I am willing to use at any one time.

As for why I’m using two row counters for one sleeve, I need to increase 1 stitch both sides every 12th row 6 times total. That’s one row counter to keep track of where I am in the twelve row repeat, and a second counter to keep track of how many times I have increased. So far I’ve made 4 of these increases. After I’ve done 6 I will need to knit for a total length of X", then begin cap decreases. Perhaps I will have the sleeve finished by the end of the weekend. Perhaps at that point I will return to Bi-colors and finish the final front.

Just perhaps.

Tomorrow, I hope to be able to share the good news I hinted would be coming a few weeks ago. As I said before, it is not medical, and it is not connected to my career. In the meantime, please send good vibes my way and I will use mirrors and telescopes to redirect those vibes to the right person in the right place.

Monday, March 24, 2008


That is the number of square units on my mother’s Mother’s Day locker hook rug which I began yesterday. As of this afternoon I have completed exactly two units. Shall we do some math?

Mother’s Day is May 11, so theoretically that is the date I need to have the rug completed.

EXCEPT, I will be returning from a trip on that day, so that means I need to have the rug completed before I leave in early May. Once the rug is fully hooked, I’ll need to turn the raw edges under and that might take a day or two. Let’s make it easy and say the rug needs to be completed April 30.

Today is March 24. There are eight days left in March if I assume I’ll continue to work on it tonight - 38 days total.

418 total minus 2 squares already completed = 416 squares remaining. Assuming I work on this every day from now through April 30, that means I need to locker hook between 10 and 11 squares every single day.

And so far in the last 24 hours I have managed to complete 2.

Do you see some disparity there?

Gawd I hope she likes this rug...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Garage Sale Goodness

One of the perks of working the garage sale is that I get dibs on old stock that my uncle ships up from his antique shop in Arizona. Most of the time there is nothing that I would want, but not this time. This time I found an old scrapbook. The hand-penned title page reads:

Sears-Roebuck Sewing Class
June - October 1938
Instructress - Miss Ahearn

Miss Myrtle F. Hawk
907 Edgehill Road
Glenside Penna.

A photo of Miss Hawk is enclosed, along with a certificate from the Kenmore School of Dress Creation for completing “a thorough Course of Instruction on Dress Creation which includes Cutting, Fitting, Tailoring, Finishing and Color Harmony.”

(One of these days I’ll get a camera that allows me to focus up-close.)

The book is filled with mounted hand and machine sewing technique samples, like basting, hems, and tailored loops of binding. The final pages, presumably from the final classes, show several techniques for producing pleats, installing zippers, tailored buttonholes and pockets.

And no, I don’t have any plans for this except that it will be mine, mine, mine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh, Well We Didn’t Look There, and the cRemains of the Day

Heard from Tutti the other day. She woke up in a sweat because she couldn’t remember where she’d hidden her good jewelry. She said she finally found it taped to the underside of a drawer in her bathroom vanity...

Note to self: when Tutti goes to the Old-Timers home, we’re going to have to really scour her home and furnishings to make sure nothing more valuable (or dangerous) is sold than intended.

And is it just me, or do my dead cat’s cremains look a lot like a gift package from a fancy store???

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Poor Taste

I am a bit of a news junkie. Not the which candidate said what kind of news, or who will ultimately win the NCAA Conference-thingy, but the news you missed kind of news.

Like this one, about concern over lack of sufficient facilities at the NATO Conference in a Romanian palace next month.

Or this one, about the style of toilets that will be available during the Olympics in China this year—squat or Western-style “sit down loos”. (I was faced with the prospect of squat or nothing several times in South Korea a few years ago. I actually had to ask one of my traveling companions for advice on how to take care of business in long pants when the floors looked wet.)

I’m sure by now you’ve read or heard about this story, about a Kansas woman who sat on the toilet so long her skin grew around it. The boyfriend’s been charged now, by the way.

And no pet lover, squeamish person, or person with an ounce of sense or modicum of taste should read this tidbit, also out of (sigh) my home state of Kansas.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Let there be Light

Sometimes even I am taken aback by my ingenuity and, well, pure genius.

Here is the broken lamp.

Here is the now-operating lamp, without its globe, of course.

I know, I know. You’re impressed too, aren’t you?!

Turned out the fix wasn’t quite as straight forward as I had envisioned. The old lamp components (socket and switch) seem to have come as a single device with the lead from the switch soldered to the socket. I could have looked for a replacement of those two things together, but chances of finding that locally seemed a tad slim. So instead, I cut that wire, stripped a bit of the plastic off the now-free end to expose the copper core, and secured it to a wire from the new switch with a wire nut.

Anyway, it’s working now.

We woke to gunfire again last night. Five shots very close to our house at 3 a.m. I called the police and two cars came, shining their spotlights along our street. They saw nothing. We saw nothing. And other than the shots, we heard nothing. No cars. No voices. Nothing.

I say again, because this happened around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, too, though it was maybe a block away. And Tuesday morning at around 1:30 a.m.

Have I mentioned that we want to move?

And why is it that other knit bloggers seem to live a magical life where the biggest “thang” going down in their neighborhoods is a few feet of snow? That, and having to frog back a few rows on a sweater because they mis-crossed a cable or something equally tragic?

We took my in-laws out to dinner last night. Conversation went well until our dinner went on maybe a little too long. As in our leftovers were getting cold in their styro take-out boxes, and my FIL had made his fifth trip to the bathroom. Then MIL asked if we knew where she could buy a new electric tea kettle.

?? Controversial? Really?


You see, early in our marriage I realized that my MIL had an obstinate streak with me. I married her youngest, after all. Her little precious one. There were multiple signs that pointed to this, but a group shopping trip to Dillard’s cinched it. This was over twenty years ago. I have forgotten most of the details, but I remember that it was the four of us, and my MIL was wanting to buy a new tea kettle. She had very specific criteria for said kettle of which the most important was it had to be a whistling kettle. We walked up to a wall of options and I began to point out ones that seemed to fit her needs. No, she would say, I don’t like green (or something like that), and I would point out another. She didn’t buy any that I had shown her, and in the end she bought a kettle that didn’t whistle at all. That’s when I realized that she was intentionally (consciously or subconsciously) refusing to accept any guidance from me whatsoever. I left it alone, but privately laughed when a month later she complained that that kettle wasn’t working out and she was going to have to buy another.

And I never went shopping with her again.

So last night? When she brought up wanting help finding an electric kettle? I laughed and said that I would absolutely not help her with the kettle. And I told her why. Leaving out suggestions of deep-seated resentment toward me, etc, of course. And, of course, she had no memory of that incident, and couldn’t ever recall shopping with me. But it happened. Trust me!

A few minutes later she screwed up her face like she’d just smelled a fart and asked Michael, “Am I remembering right that you’re voting for Obama?”
I responded, “our household is split.”
I forget what she said in reply, but I remember that she was about to lead up to some sort of criticism of one candidate or another.
I laughed. “I hate to say it, but you’re in no position to talk. You voted for Bush - TWICE!”
There were a few more words exchanged, all pleasantly and with laughter (okay, by laughter might have been a smidge mocking), then my FIL put an end to it. Because, you know, politics and religion are unsavory dinner topics.
My thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Memory

We knew this day was coming. It was just a matter of when, and what circumstances would necessitate it.

I woke up this morning to meowing. Lots of meowing. I was zonked out, but Collins’ meows finally penetrated the fog of dreams enough to realize she needed something. Food, I thought, was it. Yes it was early (before 3 a.m.) but if she was hungry she was hungry. So I got up and started to prep the moist food plates. That’s two plates with 1 package of moist food divided four ways. I broke a capsule of Cosequin over Collins’ pile, and realized she wasn’t in the kitchen. I found her still on the bed so I scooped her up and put her on the floor to walk the rest of the way on her steam.

Except she didn’t. Her back legs folded under her.

I realized something was seriously wrong, of course, but it was breakfast time and her front half was alert, so I scooped her back up and placed her on the kitchen floor next to her food pile. She ate greedily. Her legs didn’t move.

After breakfast I put her in front of the water bowl. She drank. Her back legs didn’t move. Her tail didn’t move. Her paws were cold.

I put her in the litter pan. She pivoted around and stared at me like what the heck do you except me to do here? Then I made a bed for her on the floor, and one by one, one at a time, the other cats lay beside her, keeping her company.

We watched the clock and we waited for 7:30 a.m. when the vet’s office opened.

We aren’t entirely sure what caused her paralysis. It wasn’t a broken bone. An X-Ray confirmed that. It might have been a bulged disk, though nothing showed up on X-Ray for that, either. We think it is most likely a clot thrown at the point where the arteries divide to go down the legs and tail. Those clots are extremely painful and while Collins wasn’t behaving as though she were in pain, we know from past experience that she conceals that really well. She once had an exposed nerve on a tooth which we didn’t know about until the vet discovered it during routine dental cleaning. Collins sure wasn’t about to tell us. Plus, this morning the vet wasn’t able to find a vein in the back leg to give her the injection. Another indicator that her blood flow had become restricted. If she had been a younger cat, there were things we could have tried, but she was 17, already had megacolon, respiratory problems, discomfort, arthritis, and had lost a significant amount of muscle mass in her back thighs.

I’m certain of her age because she was a tiny kitten when my in-laws cared for her while we went out of town. They spent that week caring for Collins, painting porch spindles, and watching the news of senior President Bush’s invasion of Iraq during the Gulf War.

How quickly she grew up! And she matured into the role of matriarch, swatting the other cats when they misbehaved, and teaching them the ways of household living.

Okay, she looks a bit like a devil cat here, but this about 5 a.m., and her back half was no longer in operating order, for cripes sake!

As mornings go, Collins’ last morning was a good one. She ate her favorite breakfast, swatted at string, and nearly wore the batteries down on the cat massager.

Thank you for the good times.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Kinda Day

After false starts, errors, and cursing, I finally bound off the back of Bi-color Cables. Yay me!

A friend showed me the cover art for her book of spiritual essays that will be released this fall.

I taught myself out to compress files using gzip in Terminal.

And the market was blessedly green, green, green today.


My uncle called this morning.

A while back he had shown interest long-distance in the wild rice cranberry casserole I had made for Christmas this year, so when his birthday rolled around I shipped him three boxes of wild rice plus a copy of the recipe. Well, he lost the recipe as soon as he opened the box, and didn’t even know I’d included it until he called to thank me for the wild rice. He asked if I would resend it. Sure, I said. So I did.
The replacement recipe arrived yesterday, but he wasn’t calling to thank me. He was calling (very sheepishly I might add) to ask if I would send him another copy because his dog ate the one I just sent him. Yes, that’s right. His dog ate it. He was suitably embarrassed, and, I found out later, had tried to talk my mother into feigning interest in the recipe so he could get a third copy from her. That didn’t work.
I said: you know there’s a limit to the number of copies I send you, right?
He called later to say that he found a crumpled piece of paper by his desk - and it turned out to be the recipe I’d originally enclosed with the wild rice. He promised he would immediately make multiple copies.

As embarrassed as he was, I believe him.

I just wish I had liked that recipe more...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

(Non-helpful) Pet Diagnosis the High Tech Way

Discovered a new web site today. is filled with news and tips for pet owners. It also has PetVet, an interactive decision tree that helps pet owners diagnose their dog or cat’s illness. Just for grins, I entered Eclair’s various behaviors and symptoms to find out what PetVet thought she had. I mean, I know what she has because the real live human vet has already ruled lots of things out. Then there was that one particular bag of Hill’s pet food and hundreds of dollars in vet bills later that cinched her diagnosis.

  • Excessive grooming. Not on the list, so I chose hair loss.
  • Licking. Again, the excessive grooming thing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Irritability.

PetVet thought she might have

  • Fleas
  • Lymphoma
  • Feline heartworm disease
  • Roundworms
  • Acute Renal Failure
  • Ringworm
  • Hyperthyroidism

What isn’t here? What she has, which is food allergies.

The moral here is to get off your duff and take your pet to a real vet and not rely on an interactive diagnosis decision tree on a web site.
Garage Sale Over for 2008, and a Finished Object

The annual sale is finally over, and everything that didn’t sell is back in the attic. Boy am I glad this is over. This is a stressful, exhausting time, and everyone’s patience frayed.

My brother questioned my cooking skills during Friday lunch. I had made a big pot of chili, and he was the first to dish up a bowl. That’s when he announced to me that the beans weren’t cooked. This surprised me because I had been soaking the beans for 24 hours before I made the chili, and the entire mixture had been bubbling away in a crock pot for 5+ hours. I tasted. The beans tasted firm, but certainly cooked. Not mushy, but cooked. I asked my mother for her opinion, and my eldest sister for hers, and we pretty much decided that my brother had never made chili except with canned beans so he didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. Basically he was talking out his butt. (He informed me of its undoneness in a nice way, btw)

My middle sister made a big pot of chicken and noodles for Saturday lunch. That truly went south. The evening before she had fallen asleep while she was cooking, and only woke up when the fire alarm went off, her house was filled with smoke, and the alarm company called to find out if she needed help. And Saturday morning she somehow hadn’t fully inserted the plug into the outlet, and the pot of chicken and noodles was sitting at room temperature for 4 hours, turning the expensive homemade-ish frozen noodles into a sort of mush. It was inedible, and frankly I wouldn’t have wanted to risk food poisoning so I didn’t even try. How bad was it? The dog wouldn’t eat it either. She kept moaning about how expensive that was to make.

I managed to start and finish both Jayhawk dishcloths for my mother-in-law’s Mother’s Day present. Crimson and blue, thankyouverymuch.

Garage sale weekend was also the deadline I had imposed for fabric donations for our mother’s Mother’s Day present. Only my brother and eldest sister came through, and that sister also furnished fabric bits for her children and grandchildren. My middle sister and her kids? Nothing. Oh, sure, I could have reminded them, but I’ve reminded them enough. And since I’m doing the hard work and this was my idea, I’m inclined to set the rules on this one. Nothing from that sister means she and her descendants will not be included on the gift card. That’s fine. They have spent the last year taking drama to an X-Games-level sport, I would rather keep my distance whenever possible.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Selling off my Pussy (Willow)
(warning: post contains off-color humor and double entendres that will likely not be appreciated in better social circles.)

The garage sale is half over. Friday is by far the busiest day. Saturday can get a bit hectic, too, but it is a completely different crowd.

And the family - as a whole - has been behaving quite well. Somehow, sometime within the last few years, I have become the cool aunt. Well, not as cool as my eldest sister who recently went to a tattoo parlor with our youngest (but of-age) niece to each get a tattoo meaningful to their lives and struggles. But certainly cool enough to be the main topic of conversation while said-niece and her cousin waited as my sister got her tattoo. Yes, it was the “Va-jay-jay” bag I knit my middle sister last year. What can I say?

Last weekend I noticed my pussy willow was starting to bloom, and I realized that, because we will be moving, this would be the last year that my mother would be able to get cuttings for her arrangements. And since I was going to be trimming up the bush to get those, I decided that perhaps bunches of pussy willow would sell at the garage sale. Like taking my tomato crop to the farmer’s market.

And sell they have. When I left this afternoon there were only two bunches left. My middle sister was asking if I had any more I could bring for Saturday... A bit too much work for that, but thanks. And one of my nieces (a married mother of two - let me assure you that she is an adult) decided to spend the day making pussy willow jokes, perhaps inspired by Spitzer and his fling with a high-priced call girl.

“I didn’t know we were selling fresh [insert word here]”
To which I replied, “That’s not the freshest thing here today.”

And later, “Your [insert word here] is getting a lot of action today.”
To which I replied, “I’m sure your [insert word here] has seen a lot more action than mine has.”

Like I said, it was a heartwarming family kind of day.

I even took my great niece for a walk to pick up my business and personal tax returns at my accountant’s office. She held my hand and we walked the two blocks there and two blocks back. She got to push the cross walk button twice, and push open the heavy carved front door to enter their fancy-schmantsee reception area.

When we got back to the sale, my middle sister was asking about our accountant because she and her husband need to get a new one (to which I’m thinking “There’s only one more month until taxes are due... Kinda late to be thinking about this isn’t it?”) because he’s not very good and he’s soooooo expensive, according to her.
“Is your accountant expensive?” she asked.
“How much was yours?” I asked.
“Three hundred dollars!” she said.
“Oh, you don’t even want to walk in my accountant’s door,” I replied.

The afternoon was calm enough that I cast on for my mother-in-law’s Mother’s Day present, and got about 1/5th of the way. Perhaps I’ll have both Jayhawk dishcloths finished by the end of the weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The World’s Most Expensive Sympathy Card

My sister-in-law’s mother died Monday night. She had been ill for a very long time, and the days leading up to her death were horrible. While the situation is sad, it must also be a relief— for both the mother, and her children who not only had been caring for her for years, but were not able to leave her side even to sleep during her final days.

Tuesday I set off for Hallmark to find an appropriate sympathy card. I find Hallmark stores to be confusing. So many many themes...and I invariably head for the wrong section. Instead of my usual milling about lost and confused, I asked the sales clerk to point me in the right direction. You would think, given that the sympathy cards were on the rack closest to the door, that I would not get distracted by Hallmark merchandise. Not so.

Meet Hoops (I think) with one coffee mug for me and one plush mug for him. His mug jitters when you pull the cord. How could I resist?

That card ended up costing me over $20.

Today is the last warm dry day in the extended forecast, so the cats and I have been making the most of current conditions.

I had envisioned spending the last warm afternoon/evening on the deck as well, but family visitation is tonight at the funeral home. So instead of sun-kissed Adirondack chairs, jeans and an icy cold beer, tonight I will have to run a comb through my hair, wear clothes that need to be ironed, and struggle along in high heels.

This situation falls into that awkward zone. The mother wasn’t a relation, but she was the mother of someone we’re related to by marriage... Clearly we need to go to give our condolences, but I’m still allowed to privately grumble a bit about missing out on this fine weather, right?

Rain and snow are forecasted for the garage sale weekend...

And I’m still re-knitting the back of the bi-color cables cardigan.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Importance of Counting

As I mentioned in my last post, I had to tink back on the bi-color cables sweater because somehow my shoulder bind-offs were wrong. I tinked, then I set it aside until I could screw up the courage to count stitches.

Yes, I had miscounted. (I had one fewer stitch on one side of a princess seam than on the other. That’s the kind of thing that might be noticeable after the sweater is seamed together.)

Yes, I had to frog back alllll the way back to the underarm bind-offs. The kind of frogging that involves a ball winder and many many tears. We’re talking almost 9" of frogging.

Sunday afternoon the sun was shining brightly, the wind was non-existent, and the temps soared into the 50s. Thank goodness deck time took the edge off my pain. I soaked up the sun and knit.

The cats were all a-buzzy with excitement, too. They crowded into open windows.

Eclair donned her harness for some deck exploration time.

And no pics, but I put the harness on Nacho for the first time in his little feral life, and he had a fabo time, as well. There was one point when a noise in the neighborhood made him jump, but he recovered quickly and stuck his butt up in the air to facilitate scritching. All in all a good day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Expanding my Communication Skills

Within one 24-hour period, I have correctly used the word “egregious” in a letter, and resorted to hand gestures while using to the phrase “you know, the chuck-a-chuck-a?” to explain which part I needed to buy for a broken lamp. I am so proud. (The guy really wanted me to buy bead chain no matter how many times I told him I needed the part that turned the light on and off. Returning with a digital image of the broken part and asking for a different clerk finally did the trick.)

I am cruising, sort of, on the back of bi-color cables. I nearly had it finished yesterday but I seem to have miscounted in my shoulder bind offs so I’ve had to tink back. Before I begin again I will treble count to ensure that I started with the correct number on my needles, then use stitch markers to help me make sure I don’t go astray.

Thanks to Zandra’s sharp eyes, I have acquired the crimson and blue cotton necessary to make my mother-in-law a set of Jayhawk dishcloths for Mother’s Day.

Unfortunately not everything is going as smoothly acquisition-wise. Last week I heard a Fresh Air interview with the band Dengue Fever. I was hooked! With visions of rockin’ to the tunes in the car, and a coupon from Border’s burning a hole in my purse, I stopped in Lawrence on the way to the Kansas City airport. I had to ask for help. I mean, in what part of their collection should I have looked for an American band inspired by Cambodian pop music from the ’70s? Just sayin’. When I asked about the band, the staff—in unison—scrunched up their faces like they had just got a whiff of a terrible fart, then asked about five times “how do you spell that?” When they finally found it, they told me that they didn’t have any in stock, but that there was one on order.

I had time to kill at Legends shopping center in Kansas City, so I looked for the CD at Nebraska Furniture Mart which I had been told by several people had the best selection of music in town and at the best prices. But when I got there, I discovered that a new buyer had cut their stock in half. The clerks urged me to fill out a customer complaint form, handing me both the form and the pen, because they hated her. Yes, the clerks in the music department at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City told me they hated their buyer.

Yesterday I cruised through Borders once again. I went directly to the Asia section where the clerk the previous week had told me I would find it. No CD. I went back to customer service and asked. Turns out, the screen had said “ORDER” which means you have to order it, not it has been ordered. And it was out of stock at their warehouse. No CD. As I left the store, I could hear various customer service staff being chewed out. The ginormous Borders in Kansas City didn’t have it either. Hello, Amazon?

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Good Aunt

The annual multi-family garage sale is only a week away. How time flies! I look forward to this with dread. Oh, sure, when I have stuff to sell it is nice to walk away with a sandwich baggy of bills and coins. But the prep work? The digging through boxes of junk and forgotten corners of attic and basement to find said stuff to sell... well that’s one part of the torture. And working the sell is yet another form.

I take a full dose of Advil before I head over there whether I need it or not. Might not need it at the moment, but I know that I’ll want it working its magic in my system as soon as those garage doors open. Even when I arrive :30 min prior to opening, there are already cars parked in the drive bumper to bumper, and shoppers are picking merchandise on tables as they are being set up.

But the shoppers are not the worst part of the day. After all, we are providing a service to them that they want, and they are handing over the cash that we want. No, it’s not the shoppers. It’s family.

Spending hours and hours in close proximity with others and under stressful conditions is never easy. But then you add in that, while we all love and support each other, we are all very different people and have chosen to live our lives in very different ways. And top it off with all the old emotional scars caused by sibling rivalry or just plain thoughtlessness... Oh, garage sale weekend is zero fun. And circumstances of this past year (which I will not go into) have created conditions for the perfect storm. A careless word here, a comeback there, and who knows... perhaps the police will have to be called. It has never happened yet and I don’t necessarily expect it to, but nerves are particularly frayed so I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. That’s all I’m saying.

As a small step toward family peace, I have managed to scavenge a stack of coloring books from the U.S. Postal Service (Thank you, Mr. Postmaster General), and added to that a brand spanking new box of crayons. The special kind with the built-in crayon sharpener in the back. These will be passed liberally around among any and all nieces and nephews who are forced to endure a full day of camping out at GG’s house while their parents and grandparents work the sale. That will officially place me in the honored position of favorite aunt for at least 30 minutes, I think.

Tutti’s caseworker has given her the green light to drive. Not because she had given her a driving test, and not because she had reviewed the notes of the trained medical staff who spent a week testing her, but because Tutti said “I want to drive.”


Bi-color cables is cruising. At least the back is, anyway. I have about 3" to go before I bind off for the neck. Then I’ll need to decided whether I want to work the front panels, or switch to the sleeves.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bi-Color Cable Landmark Reached

Finally, I have reached the arm bind-off for the Bi-Color cable cardi. I cannot express the full depth and breadth of my joy about this. There was one point where I was 1" away from that bind-off, and just needed to knit four more row. I knit those 4 rows, and 4 more, and four times four more, and I was still 1" away. But that one 1" later, I am now cruising on the back.

It would not be one of my knitting projects if I weren’t sweating about the amount of wool I have left. It looks like I have way more light purple than I need, and not enough of the dark purple. I’ll keep you posted on this.

And of course I now have another fear. When I glanced over at my stash to give you some estimation of the amount left for the previous paragraph, I saw A SILVERFISH on MY WOOL. I have officially crushed said silverfish into oblivion, but it was a disturbing sight indeed, and I may have to go to extremes like freezing and microwaving my fiber.

In other news, there is something huge on the horizon. And I am dying to tell all of you, BUT I CAN'T. Not yet, anyway. I will say that it is not a professional matter, and it is not a medical matter. And the folks at my knit group will hear all about it on the 4th Saturday in March (because I have my usual conflict with the 2nd meeting), but I cannot share this on the ’net—at least not yet. I will only say that it is making me very, very happy, and I spent a goodly part of the afternoon in an email conversation that ended with me laughing so hard that I was crying. I can think of few better ways to pass the day.

Monday, March 03, 2008