Sunday, July 30, 2006

The good, the bad, the only-in-this-house

I'm still in love with Cabaret. I may have to knit it again.
Thing 4 is now barking along with Sandra Boynton's book Doggies. It's a family tradition! She waved byebye today and I swear she's talking.
Thing 2 cut her eyelashes with scissors.
I'm knitting new stuff.
My camera still isn't fixed.
The plumbing in our house is, though!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Better Living Through Chemistry

Thank you to everyone who commented or called when I sent out the "Dying here" message. My spouse especially helped by bringing home heat-worthy takeout many nights in a row; my children by not being overly active and willing to pretend that lying on my bed being croaked to was fun.

And my doctor. What can I say about my doctor, except you gotta love a man who calls you back right away and in a Southern accent, no less, asks how you want to handle it. I repeated my symptoms, and he said, "You can either have a chest x-ray or we can try some antibiotics." I said I thought an x-ray was overkill, so he called in a prescription, et voila! Pills over the counter. The day I picked them up, I thought, "I am going to collapse right here in the hair tie aisle of this sleazy drugstore," but I did not.

And today? Today I am still stuffy but I feel great in comparison to the wreck I have been. I even burned dinner! See? Me, back in the saddle.

Got Thing 1's hair cut again and forgot to call the chi chi salon about MY hair. It's got to be cut. And soon. But hey, no pictures, because I forgot to call the camera repair shop. Maybe tomorrow.

So even though I am still coughing up what looks like alien life forms -- I tell you, I am class embodied -- I feel good enough to knit.

Did I:
1) finish the last watermelon hat?
2) finish the orange wool vest?
3) finish any sock currently on needles?
4) finish Thing 1's tank top to match the other two?
5) cast on for something completely new?

That's right! I am winging a little nothin' of a pattern but I'm having fun. And I have done a couple of rows of socks and I might actually start Thing 1's top soon. The weather seems to have backed down a bit, so that along with the amazing return of my will to live helps on the knitting front.

The only fly in my rosy ointment right now is the garden and all things garden-y. The things that are ripe are pumping out produce in an alarming fashion. Tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, parseley (except the one plant hosting a beautiful stripey caterpillar which is now all stems), and peppers are booming. What do I see when I go out, though?

I see the deficiencies in the watering system. I see the Bermuda grass carpeting the yard, and the hours of work that represents. I see the unpicked beans growing woody, and I see the open and unused square feet. Yeah, yeah, I know. Mr. Square Foot says not to start with too large a garden. But I blame the watering and the sandy soil. And the heat, my goodness the heat.

So my Bad Inner Gardener says, "Don't worry about succession planting. Rip it all out when you've had enough tomatoes. Go talk to the nice folk at Orchard Supply about watering systems so you don't have to deal with the drippy sprayer. So you miss a month of vegetables? Who cares?"

And that's probably true. But I'll spend a couple more months or so dithering, I think, just for the fun of it. And the tomatoes that are ripe so far are just cherries. I wonder if the skunk/raccoon/squirrel squad is eating the big ones, or if they're just a little late. I'm going to hope for the latter and plan for next year.

And by then, maybe I'll be able to take pictures.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Too Sick to Knit

Ever since I was in high school, I'd get a cold that involved a few weeks of coughing and gagging about every nine months. Tiring, but I didn't feel sick, just worn out.

I have been coughing for a few weeks now, which is bad, but yesterday I got visited by the Woozy Fairy. Can't stand up; feel like I'm going to collapse. I even got a rare bout of insomnia and stayed up most of the night -- whoopie! Today I had some things I had to do, but when I got home and still felt like collapsing, I finally got out the thermometer. I feel rotten because I have a fever.

That's nice.

I feel too sick to knit. Mostly I just want to sit in the bathtub (warm at night, cool during the day) and read old New Yorkers. Unfortunately I have kids. Well, usually I think it's great fortune to have kids, but they do require a lot of care.

Maybe I'll sleep tonight. And this, like the beastly hot weather (my house has dozens of windows, all of which concentrate the heat inside fabulously), can't last forever.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Vignettes of Summer

  1. A baby, clad only in a diaper, pats the dog water with her stacking cup. Then she sticks her face in the bowl. A parent picks up the dog bowl and puts it up out of reach.
  2. Five children, all wearing long wetsuit-style bathing suits, work together to free a log in the sand at the beach. Once it comes loose, they cheer and follow it into the still water of a cove.
  3. Two women, sitting at the dining table after the children have eaten, ask the eldest one to please put a stack of dishes in the dishwasher, as a special favor. Walking into the kitchen a half hour later, one points at the dishwasher. There, sitting on the bottom rack, in a stack, rests the stack of plates and cups. "In" the dishwasher has different meanings to different ages, apparently.
  4. Basement door stands open, an electric fan sitting in it, pushing the coolest air in the house around.
  5. A camera rests somewhere in a repair shop, waiting for a new focus gear.
  6. Holding up a finished sweater, a woman raises her eyebrows at her spouse. He looks up from his book, and produces a long, "Oooooooh," as he's been requested to.
  7. Sand rests quietly in the parents' bed, left behind from the sleeping child who has been carried out to his own room. Sliding under the covers, the woman decides that she'll pretend she's staying at an exotic beach resort and change the sheets tomorrow.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New things

I'm nearly done seaming Cabaret. Once the heat wave stops (we're in the high 70's F again -- imagine!) I'm looking forward to wearing it. It's funny, and I don't know if projects feel like this to anyone else, but mine seem to go fast, and slow, and fast, and then they're done. Or else they languish in a plastic bag. Hello, orange wool vest!

The excitement of my new thing pales in comparison to the news that the Pancake Goddess is working very hard today on her fourth Thing. Blessings to mother and babe, and to all the guys in the household awaiting his arrival.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Bird Brain" is Fairly Accurate

Our town, in addition to an obscene real estate market and fantastic weather, also boasts small-town amenities like the annual parade, plus a series of free concerts at the beach in the summer. Tonight the children and I, plus Thing 2's lovely godmother, walked to the cove, met some friends, ate a potluck and listened to the concert.

After a leisurely stroll home and snacks for the middle Things, it was bedtime for them and also for the chickens. Thing 1 had accepted an invitation from her good friend, Suzee's son, to sleep over. I think a new computer game might have been used as a lure. Thing 1 usually does chicken cooping duty, but I pulled on my boots and trudged to the back yard to tuck them in, beyond the reach of any raccoons as might stroll through the yard.

To sweeten the deal, a handful of grass tossed into the coop often helps persuade the ladies to cluck their way in. All but the Buff Orpington, "Goldie." No, she studiously looks as though roosting is the thing furthest from her mind while all the others are whooshing up onto their perches and uttering little chirps of contentment. By the time she deicdes that she really does want to be up on the perches with the others, she and I have gone through a few rounds of "Gotcha!" where she runs away as I make ineffectual lunges at her. So she's in no mood to take advice from me.

Instead of considering the one side of the coop which contains the opening, or "door," she runs frantically around the other three sides, cheeping pathetically and looking through the mesh up at the four other hens who have figured out this difficult routine. If I wait patiently for her to come around the corner to the dreaded door side, then ease the door open so she can just slip in, she sees through my ruse and runs away -- around the back of the coop, which is set just close enough to the two walls so that chasing her around it is miserable, but possible.

Finally, after twenty or thirty three-quarter laps around the coop, she overshoots and manages to let her momentum carry her into the door and right up on a perch.


Having 1/3 of the final "Cabaret" sleeve done and ready for me to finish helps take the edge off, though.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's at the Shop

Mr. Camera Fixer says it's the focusing gear that's broken. He also says, "Cross my palm with silver," and "It will take a week . . . or two."

So it's just my sparkling prose I have to offer.

Around here, things are just the same as ever. I was almost done, done, I tell you, with the first sleeve for "Cabaret." I was chortling to myself. I actually had thoughts like "Sweater Island isn't so bad; I'll be able to wear this in no time!" I was so cocky that I dated the start of the sleeves, hoping for an impressive "to finish" date. For me, it's the knitting equivalent of wearing a pointy copper hat in an electrical storm and mocking the weather gods.

Up I went, all the way to the final weird shoulder shaping on the sleeve, and didn't have the right number of stitches, although I had the right number of increases and decreases. I've even been checking everything off on that piece of paper with the date. So, back to the pattern I went. [The pattern was taking a vacation in Thing 1's room. This explains why I sent out a frantic email asking if anyone had a copy of the Summer '94 IK. This also explains why I've been spending some quality cleaning time in Thing 1's room, right along with her. We found a few books we'd been reading aloud too. And the lasagne pan. The mind boggles.]

The pattern contained a little line before the cunning raglan decreases: "At the start of next 2 rows, bind off 3 stitches."


Well, most of the raglan decreases were done at the dentist's yesterday and I have the final cap on my tooth. I guess it won't hurt much to redo it under different circumstances.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

This one goes to eleven!

I don't like to post more than once per day, but this one is too good to pass up, even without photographic corroboration.

Thing 4 had just wandered out into the kitchen and I was listening and wondering what those noises were. Dishwasher was shut, so she wasn't heaving knives out of the silverware basket. . . what was it?

When it became too much to bear, I investigated.


She was standing on the tall, three-stepped stepstool, hanging onto the open shelves, and carefully, very carefully, taking whole wheat fettucini noodles, one at a time, from their open package and dropping them to the floor.

Camera Woes

I actually have finished knitting and lovely things to talk about, but the digital cameras -- that's right, both of them -- are on the fritz and I just don't think the same without pictures. I'm going to see Mr. Camera Repairman tomorrow.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Two down

I'm probably not going to make the third (especially with a (cough) lace edging) by Sunday, which was my deadline for the Knitting World Cup, but here without its lovely ribbon is Thing 2's tank top. Despite a few design choices I wouldn't make again, it's a dream. She loves it and it fits, despite the "squinty" v-tops in the front. I think she's most pleased by how much it looks like Thing 4's top. I wonder if they'll wear it to church or some other dressy place.

Thing 2 especially is such a dirt magnet that that would probably be the safest choice.

Despite having zero natural aptitude, I'm off to buy a new spinning wheel. It was just such a good price I couldn't resist. The spinning ladies at the county fair weren't all that helpful when I said that I was making three-dimensional art instead of yarn, as the draft backs up at the throat because of too-thick drafting and overtwisting, so I think I'm going to have to look harder for a mentor.

The fair was lovely this year. Things 1&2 are thrilled to think that they can have Angora goats if they join 4-H (the goats live elsewhere) and although I turned in my bread too late for it to be judged, I got this nice ribbon.

Now, they may have just been being kind, but when they called to tell me to pick it up because I'd missed the judging, I told them to eat it. Why waste perfectly nice bread? In order to get something out of the experience, though, I let them know that I'd appreciate a list of comments as though they were judging the bread.

Today, while the kids painted rocks, I picked them up. The staff raved about how good the bread was, and the judging card was all "superior," and they named it the "staff favorite," and asked me to turn it in again next year.

I'm not ready to leave any knitting with them, though.

Monday, July 3, 2006


No, I haven't been knitting much at all, but I do have a work that's a year in progress. I actually wrote this post some time ago.

(skip this if birth isn't your thing)

She's 20 inches long and weighs 7 pounds, 15 ounces, a full pound heavier than my biggest baby so far. She was born at 6:56 July 3, and she nurses like a champ. She has rolls upon rolls and is quite cute.

Last night (July 2nd, oddly enough my actual due date) about 9:30, while lying in bed listening to Eric read from Terry Pratchett's Jingo to me, I sort of idly began timing contractions. Roughly every 11-7 minutes, lasting about a minute and a half. At 11:30, I called the midwife, who told me to take a bath and try to get some sleep. In the bath, I started losing my mucous plug at 11:55 pm. At 12:15, I called her back and said I'd just feel better with her here, given my history of precipitate labor.

She and my sister arrived about 12:45, (my mom was there already) and I labored all night long in the birth tub downstairs (after they drained and refilled it, as I'd done it in the afternoon and it wasn't hot yet -- it was definitely the Keystone Kops moments of the birth!). The contractions felt really productive, but I didn't have to make any noise, just be kind of quiet during them. Thing 1 was the only one up, and she kept announcing the time. When she said, "It's 5:00," I began to wonder if she was helping much : ) She also did a lot of running around and chatting, which could occasionally be difficult to deal with. But generally she did great and was very helpful.

At one point, everyone but she was asleep, and I was falling asleep in between contractions. That's never happened to me before. I woke from a silly dream about someone saying that the new gun ban had to be called the "BerlinGunBan." Apparently I was in Germany, and apparently I think German sounds silly, but I woke into a contraction, which was disorienting. I finally asked Kristen, my midwife, if I was actually making progress, or if I should be doing anything more active. She said that if I felt like I wasn't, we could talk about things to move things along.

Apparently just talking was what I needed to do. Contractions picked up and I stopped having a long break in between. I actually felt my water break, with a distinct “pop.” Kristen said that the intensity might pick up now. I knew, I knew. . . Around 5:00, I growled, "Get your father" to Thing 1. He got the cold washcloth, which is his main labor responsibility. She brought a bowl of cold water for him to use. Right about then, I began to cry, then threw up a few times. One part of me was rationally observing: Hmmmm, crying, vomiting, sounds like transition to me! The other part was, well, crying and vomiting. During the last part of birth, I really hang onto Eric, tugging and pulling on his arms as I try to deal with it. He doesn't seem to mind. I also assume announcing that it hurts is somehow helpful, so I do it frequently.

Midwives Danue and Kristen were especially nice in telling me I was doing well, that the baby was coming soon, and yes, it stunk and hurt a lot.

At about 5:50, Thing 1 got her sister because I was making pushing sounds. At 6:15, she woke Thing 3, and I was in full cry, really roaring through the pushes. I dislike pushing intensely, but I realized this time that I dislike the moments immediately after even worse, when the baby's head pulls back over the ground gained. Apparently Mack the dog was upset by the noises I was making and kept coming over to investigate. I was totally focused on what I was doing, although I did check the kids occasionally to see if they were okay. My sister said that at one point, the children were all in different positions on the couch, covering their ears when I yelled, then popping up to see what was going on when I quieted.

The midwives had asked me if I wanted to catch my baby myself. After this birth, I realized that the answer is clearly, "No." I want reassurance that I'm not tearing, and lots of support, and them to catch the baby. This baby crowned after a few pushes, and the midwives gave me perfect encouragement/coaching on going ahead and having her head. I was only certain that I didn’t want it to pull back for another push. After her head was out, I had to wait for another contraction to get her body out. It hurt too, more than I remembered it doing with anyone except the last one before. There was some complicated cord unwrapping going on behind me, as I was on all fours. It turned out that her cord was pretty tight twice around her neck, so they were unwinding her by spinning her. Kristen later said that she though the slow head descent might have been because of the cord, since she had thought it was slow for a fourth child.

I turned around and sat down against the side of the tub, and there she was, handed to me. Fat cheeks, fat arms, really a lovely little chunk. We had decided that Thing 2 would get to tell the sex of the baby. Thing 1 of course, said, "It's a boy." But we unwrapped her a bit and looked closely -- Thing 2 said, "It's a girl!" She had been the only one to definitely hold to "girl" for the entire pregnancy.

So we got everything we wanted, but not the boy that had been universally predicted. I like to think that for my very last birth, the siblings were there as they'd wanted to be, my perineum is still intact, and I never have to do it again.

So after an entire year of work, it's only this big now:

Happy Birthday, sweetheart.