Archive for May, 2006

Things are always changing. I’ve got a few Tuesday afternoons to myself left, then school’s out – then my Tuesdays are not my own again.

That’s not really a bad thing – it’s just a “busy” thing – and after 20+ years of it being all “about the kids” – I’m just getting a glimpse of real “me time.” But, the truth is, I can only handle it in small doses…

Three summers ago I realized that I was going to have three whole days alone – just me – for the first time since the kids were born. There was an overlap between the girls being at Youth Group summer camp and the guys not being back from Scout camp yet…. and three days where they’d all be gone at the same time, and it would be JUST ME.

I was so excited! I told everyone! Not that I don’t love my family and having them around, but literally, I had not been home ALONE for 17 years – at all. I had visions of doing whatever I wanted, eating whatever I wanted, going wherever I wanted, sleeping in, watching my movie choices – it was going to be all about me – for 3 whole days. I couldn’t wait. This was gonna be the greatest thing since, well I didn’t know what – but it was gonna be GREAT! Me, me, me…. 3 whole days.

Turns out, I hated it.

Well, it was good the first day – but then it got old, real fast. I guess I’m pretty boring company. I realized I didn’t like it if there was no one around who cared. I sat and ate alone, albeit ice cream for dinner if I wanted, but alone. I found out I liked having someone to talk to, to care about whether I had ice cream for dinner. I would get up and plan to do “whatever I wanted” – but it didn’t matter, because no one cared what I did. I found out that I liked it when people cared, when people meddled, when people “needed” me.

Too many years of being the mom and wife – I could hardly stand being my own company, for three measly days.

But you know what….. I didn’t knit back then. I have a feeling maybe I could do it now. I could knit ALL DAY! – and have ice cream for dinner!

I’m probably fooling myself – I’m still “needy” – but I’m sure the knitting would help. Seeing that next year the “baby” will be a senior in High School and I’ll have two in college – I’d better start practicing. Pretty soon I’ll have all the time alone I want – and I don’t think I’m gonna like it. Thank goodness the hubby will still be here, but he’s pretty self sufficient, and busy.

I’m not gonna be a good “empty nester” – I can tell now.

Good thing I learned to knit.

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Wide Awake Now!

This was a “girls weekend.” The hubby’s off saving the world, and the boy is off with his grandpa and uncle…. so it was just us girls.

So, what do girls do? – stay up too late, eat too much, and shop of course!

Saturday night, after a marathon day of shopping, dinner out, and more cosmic bowling (took the kids this time) I was tired. I mean – Cosmic bowling doesn’t even START until 10:00 PM, so by the time we got home it was about 1:30 in the morning. Tired…… straight to bed….

But wait! – what’s this I spy on my porch as I drive up? A big box the mail lady has left us. This is very mysterious – I’m not expecting anything…

Turns out, Kaity, on the down-low, has been scheming with the most wonderful knitter in blogland – Mistress Stash Enhancer, who wanted to send me a little something – just because she likes me!!! And not just me – there was something in there for EVERYONE – even the guys and the kitties!!!

I opened the box and – 1:30 AM or not – we’re all wide awake now! Oh.My.Gosh. So many goodies!!! It was like Christmas :o)

She sent me some Socks That Rock!!! – in a beautiful “Pebbles” colorway! I had mentioned to her that I had never seen it “in the wild” – and so she sent me some – because she’s just so cool like that! She also included a beautiful handmade card, some pretty blue glass stich markers, and some cute little glass ladybugs – and even some cedar blocks – because she knows I worry about my yarn so!

She sent Kaity some beautiful Trekking (she’s already finished one footie!), green glass stitch markers, and some great lip balm.

Lilly was surprised to see a package with her name on it – a packet of bath bubbles and what she tells me is now her favorite lip balm – (and, believe me, this girl knows lip balm.)

I’m not sure what’s in the guys’ packages, because they’re not home yet – but even the hubby and The Bud got something! Hmm…., very mysterious. (Feels like it might be candy – not that I tried to peak or anything :o)

And- check it out – even some catnip to grow for the kitties. How cool is that!?

I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing treat – it was such a great surprise, and everything was so pretty, all packaged and bowed, with handmade cards – THANK YOU! I’m humbled by all the time and thought you must have put into this! You made my day and made me feel very special. God bless you – You’re the best ;o)

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Alrighty then – since I have nothing new to show you on the knitting front…. actually a lot of knitting on the shawl going on, but it’s just more of the same ol’, same ol’….

Lets talk about – me! Or, really, MY NEW HAIR!!

First – here’s the “before” picture. Yeah…. I was just getting tired of the massive curly out-of-controllness…. actually, this picture here with my advertising some Ready Rick guy I don’t even know… this was a “good hair day.” It was just getting to be too much… I just couldn’t bear the thought of another 90+ degree summer and all that hair. And, if I’m just gonna stick in up in a ponytail so I don’t have to deal with it – what’s the point?

So…. Ta da! The new do!

Actually, you’all are the first to see it, after Kaity. The hubby’s gone all weekend (I did warn him, though), and Kaity’s the only one home right now. She approves.

A friend came over and cut it this morning – and I love it! Pretty spunky, eh?

This the blown out/straightened version. I can’t believe how much I like it – believe me, I’ve had many a cry-fest, “how can I leave the house like this” haircuts. But this one? – I think I’m gonna like it…

Now I’m thinking of going a little darker – what do you think? Since it’s anybody’s guess what my real hair color is anymore (other than probably mostly gray!) – hey, I can make it whatever color I want! Maybe just a tad darker… I’ll keep ya posted.

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I have the memory of a goldfish (or whatever kind of cute blue fish Dory was in Finding Nemo).

Come on – this isn’t my first time knitting cables. I slogged through Rogue, and conquered some eight+ cable charts. You’d think I’d have cable charts figured out – at least in theory. No, I clearly suffer from short-term memory loss.

So why, when I start my First Class shawl, does it take me 4″ and two nights of knitting to figure out that I’m doing it all wrong? I mean, really – it says right on the pattern, read RS rows right to left, WS rows right to left. Me…. I’m just happily knitting away, right to left, right to left, right to left….

See, when I’m starting cables, it takes me a while to “see” the cable pattern develop in my knitting and, well, obviously about 4″ and two nights to “see” that it’s NOT developing correctly. Oy.

So, these pictures are of the SECOND attempt. I think I’ve got it figured out now. There are a few mistakes – one of them so GLARING that Kaity can’t even believe I’m leaving it in… but, hey- ya know what? – I’m not gonna show ya – and you might not even notice if you weren’t one of those kind who pick up someone else’s knitting to severely critique every stitch – KAITY….. rude… rude…

All in all – I like it. I like the color. I like the way the cables kind of look like roots, or branches – goes well with the color and yarn. Most of all, I love that little triangle-y edging – very cool.

However, this could take a few lifetimes to knit…. I’m about 9″ into it now, and I have to knit two pieces, one 54″ and another 36″. Yeah.

Come on, going with the Dory theory – how long do fish live, anyway…. not nearly long enough.

Or, in the case of “Elvis” – Kaity’s free fish won at the May Festival last weekend – six days…. yes, this morning, “Elvis left the building.”

Clearly, I’m gonna run out of time. Just keep knitting, Just keep knitting…

Maybe I’ll be Crush instead – sea turtles surely live long enough to get this finished…

Besides, I can’t speak whale.

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Boneless, Skinless

I pay the premium to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. My husband once remarked that people have it too easy, when you can just go and buy your food at the store, boneless skinless, and not think twice as to how it got that way. He thought people should know the whole “process” and truly appreciate it before they should be allowed that luxury.

Ok – he’s a nut, but he may have a point. Now I look at all sorts of “conveniences” and wonder about the process.

And….. as I reminded him, believe me – I know the process. I’ve seen a field-dressed deer…. I’ve seen how a quail goes from “cute” to “dinner.” One of my worst childhood memories is of my brother and I sitting in the garage, plucking pheasants for my Dad. It was THE WORST THING I’ve probably ever done. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but I cried through the whole thing. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a dead bird. I grew up around people who hunted – I understood the whole nature=food connection, and it generally didn’t bother me too much.

But that….**shudder** …maybe it was the smell, the feel of the bird…, really the whole process. But, I tell ya – it scarred me for life. I mentioned this to my dad a few years ago and, well, first he laughed… but then he apologized. He had no clue he’d scarred me for life – how horrible it was and what a vivid and gross memory it has become!

Eww – sorry ’bout that… That may have been too vivid a description of the “process” – point made. Thanks for sticking with me if you’re still reading at ths point!

So – on loving and appreciating the process – as I continue to work on my “First Class Shawl” (my name), otherwise known as “Wrap Yourself In Nature” from my new Inspired Cable Knits, by Fiona Ellis – WOW – I really appreciate the fact that I can just buy the book, and someone else has gone through the process. I realize I have not truly gushed over this book properly yet. It just boggles my mind. The designs and cable patterns in this book are remarkable- true works of art.

Ms. Ellis has completely won me over. She has not only come up with beautiful and unique cable patterns, all “inspired,” but she then creates the perfect garments to compliment them…. and I can’t even begin to wonder how it all goes from idea, to knitted sample, to charting and patterning. I appreciate and am in awe of the process.

This book has 20 patterns, and I seriously want to make at least 10 of them. Did I tell you how much I love this book?

and, as for dinner tonight – I have NO desire to know how this got from cow to my freezer, but I’m sure I appreciate the process.

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I am passionate about many things.

I am not easily seduced.

I am passionate about family. My kids. My husband. My God. Beauty.

On our “girl trip” (the one with the First Class Lady) we went to the Guggenheim and there was a Monet exhibit. It was unbelievable. Such beauty. To see it in person…. Standing there in front of REAL Monets. I honestly could have stood there all day and taken them in. Some things are so beautiful you just “feel” them and you can’t truly take it all in. I will always remember that feeling, looking at the paintings, the beauty – an overwhelming feeling like there was just too much beauty, history, art – all there at once, that you knew you couldn’t take it all in no matter how long you stood there.

Truly, there are those times where you want life to just STOP awhile, so you can take it all in. It’s a very visceral feeling that is so rare that it surprises you when you feel it. It’s passion.

Like when I walked down the aisle to marry my hubby…. just that moment of unbelievable joy… you just want to stop time. True passion.

I completely passionate about music. It rocks me to my core. Especially hymns and praise music. But really all kinds of music… classical, rock, spiritual…

It’s another thing that I just “feel” SOOO deeply that it makes me cry. My kids tease me…. there goes Mom again. I have a new Alan Jackson CD, Precious Memories, where he sings old hymns. I can’t listen to it in the car, because I get too emotional, every time, and end up crying. Crying while driving to Vons. Music just intensifies the meaning of the words to a point where I can hardly stand it.

However, seduction is completely different. Passion I have no control over. I’m not so easily seduced. I’m too practical, too “frugal”, too controlling, too wary. I don’t “fall” easily. Ok, well there’s the hubby, he can still do it to me with a look, every time. I fell for him hard and fast the first time I saw him, and still do every day…. but that’s different. He an exception. There are few.

I’m not easily seduced by sales, even yarn sales… or “things.” I don’t buy a lot of stuff. I’m not easily swept away by “I have to have it.” Well, except for kitchen stores….. dishes, gadgets, crystal, china…. oooooh, yeah baby, I could fall hard there. But, that’s a real exception, and I’m not so seduced I can’t walk away and say no.

There is another odd exception – a real seductress….. the “Garden Center.” I fall EVERY time. Hard. My head spins with the possibilities. It’s all so beautiful. All the plants, the flowers, the fountains, the garden possibilities. Oh, the yard I could have…

While looking for dryers last weekend I fell for it again – almost…. found myself wandering in the garden section of Lowes with stars in my eyes and big ideas in my head.

The reason it is so odd that I would be seduced by the garden center is…. I HATE to garden. Hate it. Hate everything about it, except for the ideas of grandeur. I love gardens. I wish I had an awesome one. I admire other peoples’. I totally get the whole “idea” and can understand how people are passionate about gardening. I really get it….. I just don’t “have it” personally.

Hate gardening. hate the dirt, hate the gloves, hate the bugs, hate the weeds…..

I’ve learned the hard way, too. I’ve was seduced by the garden center many a time in my younger, new home owner years… fooled myself into thinking I was a gardener, got swept away by it all…. only to have it all die from neglect, or be choked with weeds. I’ve learned. Don’t fall for it. Don’t buy it. Don’t think this time will be different. I’ve learned…. I love the idea, I hate the reality of making it happen.

So, we have a very “easy care” yard. The hubby actually “gets” the whole “feel of the earth…. joy of creating, growing…. etc” – but just doesn’t have the time for it. So we have grass, roses, bulbs, and our beautiful bougainvillea.

All easy care, all surrounded by wood chips to keep out the weeds. Easy enough for the hubby to keep up with on the weekend – I honestly don’t give them a second thought. But I stare out at that beautiful bougainvillea a hundred times a day. I love to look at it. I just don’t want to “do it.”

That little ring of flowers around the tree up there… that’s my weekend homage to the gardening seductress from Lowes. Some petunias. I can do that. On a small scale. You get a big payoff from petunias. They take the heat and grow like weeds. Perfect. I can do a few petunias. Not that I wouldn’t like more, so much more, I just have learned to respect my limitations, and say no the the “gardening siren.”

I think that’s why Kaity has a million knitting projects, and I have a few. She gets totally seduced by the yarn, and the possibilities, and what it could be. She doesn’t even have to finish it, she just has to knit it. Feel it. Look at it. She’s so free that way…. easily seduced by the next project. I kind of envy her for that.

Me, again…. practical. I guess that’s why I don’t cast project after project. I LOVE knitting, and the possibilities, and the excitement about what could be. I can be passionate about knitting, but I’m too practical, not easily seduced. I put all my of my heart and soul into the “few.” Neither way is better, they are just different.

That sock beginning there…. Claudias Handpainted, in “Passion Fruit.” heh heh, passion.

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Throw in shopping for a new dryer, and that’s the hodgepodge of my weekend. Although, right after this I hope to sit down with my knitting for a bit.

First the baseballs – and it’s not a good thing… We live right next to the park, and during softball season they come over the wall, constantly. Onto our roof (broken tiles), through our windows (three times), denting our cars (twice)…. I just keep calling up the City and sending them bills. NOT FUN!!! They pay up, however they don’t to through the headaches, or call the repairmen, or sweep up the glass. This time I got a little more adamant…. CHANGE the orientation of the backstop!!!!! PLEASE!!! It’s really getting old. They say you can’t fight City Hall…. well, things are about to get serious.

Bands – Well, it’s the May Festival this weekend, which means we go watch Lil flute in the parade, and then the girls go downtown and try to win goldfish (which will die by next week… but we have to go through it EVERY year), ride all those scary “oh-so-safe-I’m sure” carnival rides, eat fair food ’til they burst, and play Bingo with all the oldsters, until their money runs out. They love Bingo the most. Of course, half the fun is using those cool “dotter things” to mark your card, and your friend, and your sister….

Cosmic Bowling? The hubby and I are going out to dinner with a bunch of friends and then Cosmic Bowling. Do they do this where you live? It’s 10 PM to 1 AM, they turn off all the lights, then turn on black lights, strobe lights, light up the disco ball, and crank the tunes! We bowl maybe once or twice a year, and are lucky to break 100 – but, Cosmic Bowling is the BEST!

The dryer…. oy, ours has been trying to crap out on us for about four months… and I just keep limping it along. Well, the morning it was NO GO – at all…. I hate spending money on stuff like boring dryers. But, I guess I can’t complain, the one that died was easily 25 years old and a hand me down from his parents. Just think of all the yarn that could have bought, though…

Like this new Yarntopia colorway I just received! Fleece Artist, very nice. Now I’ve gotta pick a pattern for the knit-a-long!

There ya go…. now you’re all caught up. That’s all I’ve got for ya for now… Go play, it’s the weekend.

The new dryer’s whirring away nicely, chores are done, and Kaity should be home anytime now, covered in Bingo dots….


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First Class

About five years ago, my sister, mom and I went on a “girl trip” to Manhattan. On our way home, sitting in the airport, dog tired, they called our names to come up to the ticket counter. Oy… what now, PLEASE don’t tell me they’ve overbooked and we’re being bumped.

Well, they were overbooked, and we were bumped – to First Class. Now, I had never been in First Class before (and haven’t since) – but I can tell you it was sweet. Very sweet.

As we were settling into our big, comfy, reclining chairs with lots of leg room, sipping our complimentary mimosas, I started looking around, wondering what kind of people flew First Class and could actually afford to pay for it. Were there any celebrities on board? Most of them looked like business people. Most of them were flying alone. I wondered, do people assume I belong in First Class, too? – or do I stick out like a sore thumb? Probably the latter, but, whatever. I did look pretty travel weary by then – but, you know, casual people fly First Class, too.

There was an interesting group up front. Now, I do NOT want to offend anyone, but I must describe this group – so I apologize up front. But, have you ever seen “The Nanny” with Fran Drescher – it was popular a while back. Remember her mother? Big blue hair, flamboyant clothes, Bronx accent? This was a whole group like that. – you couldn’t get more sitcom stereotypical… big hair, bad toupees, LOUD clothing, LOTS of gold jewelry and chains, on the men… and they were having the best time! The whole group was flying to Las Vegas (the stopover). I remember one woman had on a matching shiny polyester jog suit with playing cards all over it, and shiny gold tennis shoes. It was too much. I tell ya – they were the most fun to watch. You could tell they were all long time friends, or probably all belonged to the same “group” of some sort. They were drinking up a storm and having a ball. Those folks knew knew to enjoy life.

Another woman boarded and sat across the aisle from me. She was very elegant, not at all ostentatious or flamboyant, but VERY classy. She didn’t scream designer labels, but you knew everything she had on was expensive, and the “good stuff.” I’m sure her handbag and shoes alone cost more than a couple of my house payments – and I have a big ol’ California mortgage. She was very polite, very quiet and unassuming, but you couldn’t miss her. She was very “Grace Kelly elegant”…

She was First Class.

She was an older woman – well older than me, and I found myself kind of fascinated with her. I wondered who she was, what she did- maybe she didn’t “do” anything. She was obviously very well off. You just knew she always flew first class. Maybe she came from “old money.” Maybe she was a hugely successful business woman? Maybe she was famous and I just didn’t recognize her.

At one point she reached into her bag and pulled out the most gorgeous pashmina – very light pink… HUGE. Now I have a pashmina, and I love it, but it’s not huge, and I generally save it for special occasions. By the way she just casually draped hers over her shoulders, you knew she wore hers all the time, or another just like it. It was everyday elegant – well, everyday for her – not me.

When we got off the plane my Mom and my sister both asked “did you see the woman across the aisle from you?” (we had been split up and weren’t sitting together) – and we all remarked on how elegant she was, and how rare it is anymore to see a truly polished, elegant woman.

Maybe it made an impression on me because it was so different from where we live, in California, where it’s more the norm for people to want to flaunt their wealth – think Beverly Hills and the like… designer labels and expensive cars…. flaunting – making sure everyone “notices.” That’s what I’m used to seeing. And that is not elegant.

She didn’t flaunt anything.

When I saw the pattern for this shawl in my new Inspired Cables book, I immediately thought of her. I would love to wear this all the time – knowing it was expensive, alpaca, something gorgeous and unique, but wear it with an elegant air, like I hardly gave it a thought.

Ok… I’ll wear mine with jeans, or nice slacks, but not $800 slacks with $800 shoes…. I’ll make it “my own.” I’ll make my own First Class statement.

I’ll never be that mysterious elegant woman on the plane, but I did see her one day, and she was beautiful.

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I went and did a little shopping today – I had a few Mother’s Day gift cards to spend!!

Check out the sweet spoils….

Fiona Ellis’ Inspired Cable Knits. I have been coveting this for MONTHS!!! Good stuff in there. I also picked up the new IK. A well spent gift card from the hubby and Kaity!

I also went to Old Navy and got that pretty purple blouse – a gift card from Lil.

Then, off to Ulta, just because I love that place…. and, really, can a girl EVER have too many red/pink bottles of OPI nail polish – I think not. Today’s buy, “You’re A Pisa Work.” Love it.

I don’t care what anyone says… they’re NOT all the same color, and never mind the 30+ bottles of Revlon in the medicine cabinet…

Next door was Linens and Things, so I popped in there for some cedar blocks, because I am totally paranoid about moths getting into my beloved wool stash. Ziplocs and cedar – that’ll keep it safe, right? Just tell me yes – I really worry about this more than I should.

And, check out the new drying screen that fits in the tub. The dealio is that it should be a safe place to block and dry my knits…. but I saw Carmie peaking over the edge of the tub, checking it out.

If this becomes a cat hammock, well, you all will be the first to know – and I just hope that cat can run fast.

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Yes, that’s my Marilyn’s Not So Shrunken Cardigan, blocking after a nice wash. Stooooopid cat!

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