Saturday, December 20, 2008

Picking up the pace

My eldest said to me today, while we were out frantically doing errands, "Christmas just snuck up on me this year." I stopped mid-stride, and said, "Welcome to adulthood." Cracked me up.

While I had thought I was totally devoid of holiday spirit this year, I managed to do one or two things. We made and decorated cookies, and yesterday I gathered the two youngest and we made our way via public transit (oh, the excitement!) to San Francisco, where at the St. Francis hotel we viewed this year's over the top "Sugar Castle."

And tomorrow, we'll probably get our tree. It's taken a week, but we've gone from our front rooms looking like this, as they have since we moved in (except without the ladder and the plastic sheeting and the furniture all shoved together in the middle,

to different combinations of these four colors:

Now it's clear that the dining room will need repainting. But that can wait until after the holiday.

What can't wait, alas, is a new refrigerator. I thought getting the old one repaired would be a good move, but since Thursday, we've been having odd clicks and shorts in the whole house's electrical system, and unplugging the refrigerator fixed it. Then we discovered that everything in the freezer wasn't frozen. . . So, after my much-looked-forward-to solo grocery shopping trip after church tomorrow, we'll go to the appliance store and get another refrigerator, then get a tree, now that the living room is 95% done, then I'll finish writing the cards that arrived from the printer today so I can mail them on Monday, and then we'll probably go out to dinner. And collapse.

It's a good thing I got a run in this morning. It was sad, as befits the first one after a two-month hiatus, but it was a run. I was just underdressed, but that can be remedied. My still-to-be-graded papers can't, though, so I'll slog through them tonight. The term is almost over, so I'll have about a week off of work. The Kauni cardigan is hovering between the armpits and the beginning of the neckline, and I cast on another top-down raglan for my son, out of a two-ply alpaca, and managed to not mess it up too much during the opening night screening of "The Tale of Desperaux" that the young'uns and I went to last night.

Any minute now, I expect things to calm down. I don't know why I do, except that in contrast to the last few (and upcoming few) days, it can't feel more active.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Many hands

I cleaned the hosue for a nonexistant party last week, and my three youngest went over to play at a friend's house. You can see what they did here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting Bigger

So two and a half full months with maybe one run have put my finely calibrated in-out system a bit off. All of my new clothes are feeling a bit snug, and I still don't feel well enough to get out there on the street. Besides, hacking up stuff while I stagger down the sidewalk might prompt someone to call the paramedics.

Holiday foods being what they are, I don't foresee a period of abstemious food intake coming up, so I guess I'm going to have to just suck it up, literally as well as figuratively.

But fortunately, my rear end isn't the only thing getting bigger:

I'm up to the armholes and heading toward the neckline. Now I just have to figure out how to make it as high as I want it. I've already lengthened the body for my long, long torso. It's still as fun as it has been since the start.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Almost There

Unsurprisingly, Thing 2 passed her yellow belt test. She seemed pretty happy to have kicked her board in half.

Unfortunately, I filled out her application form honestly, and unless she changes her attitude and respect at home, she won't get her yellow belt. She's working on it, but habits are hard to change.
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Friday, December 5, 2008


Apparently Cleo has gotten over her horror at Fred the Kitten's residence. As long as he is sleeping, and remember, he's a CAT, so he sleeps about 23.5 hours per day, she finds his purry warmth pretty appealing. I like having them curl up next to me while I grade the bazillion and a quarter papers I have to get through.

This weekend, though, I'm just going to be looking at them in envy, because in a relatively busy life, this one is way beyond what I would have voluntarily scheduled.

Tomorrow, I have emergency shelter training in the morning. Then Thing 2 has her first belt test in Kung Fu (and I tell you, watching her practice her routine in flannel pajamas, going, "Ha! Ha! Ha!" is a sight for the ages), and we go straight from that to the town's Christmas Tree lighting and "ice" skating. After that? A neighborhood pot luck dinner! Sunday is Christmas play rehearsal and piano recital for the three older Things.

But it all starts tonight. Instead of having pizza at home as we usually do, we're walking to a homeschooling friend's house for Country Club, where we talk about, make presentations about, and eat a meal inspired by a country. Sounds nice, huh?

When I realized that we were almost out of sandwich bread this afternoon, after I had made the dough for pasteles, I just sighed and mixed up my standard batch of our household bread. After the first rise, right when my sister came over to knit while I graded, I punched the dough down and put it back in the oven, covered with a plastic bag to keep it moist.

Then the two youngest girls and I trotted off to another Kung Fu lesson, since Thing 3 is under orders not to participate until January and Thing 2 is taking "his" spot for the month. When I came home, I switched on the oven, thanked my sister for watching the boys, and started the kids peeling and melting caramels.

Within 10 minutes, everything went to pot. I realized the dough was in the oven, and pulled it out to find something like this on top:

Melted right over the dough, which had begun to cook on all edges, of course. I didn't take a picture of the dough-clad bowls because it's just too sad. I scooped out the dough, quickly formed them into loaves, and tossed them onto the baking stone. I figure we'll at least have hearth loaves.

Then, I realized I had taken my eyes off of the caramel pot. Oh dear.

Yep. Nicely burnt. I rescued enough to slap into the dough and we worked, assembly-style, to get them into the oven. After checking on them twice, I realized that I had reflexively turned the oven off when I yanked the dough bowls out. Had to turn it back on to actually, you know, bake the cookies.

Fortunately, other people are in charge of the rest of dinner.

And I added another row of squares. Fortunately for me, while I was doing that, I was only watching Kung Fu and reading to Thing 4 -- so a normal amount of multitasking.

I'm looking forward to Monday.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

garden round up

When I was outside this morning, I noticed that the chickens had done some serious nibbling when they got out. Apparently the absence of turkeys (the back yard is blessedly quiet and less stinky without the big boys) has energized the two super escape chickens. They'd done some unauthorized kale and lettuce nibbling. I can tell the difference between them and cabbage looper caterpillar snacking because the hens tear the leaves off in pointy chunks.

The winter weeds are coming on in full force. Just in time for children looking for ways to earn Christmas present money! Terrific. And I pulled some spinach I missed the first time, because of the leaf miners. Ugh.

I'm a little worried about my smallest beehive. The bees might be crowded, because they're very visible from the entrance. No other hives are doing this. If it's crowding, I could add a super on top, but if I do, I'll damage any propolized weatherproofing they've done between the box sides and the top. Decisions, decisions.

I ripped back an entire "box" off of the cardigan, because I thought I'd only done one round of solid color where I needed two. After doing so, I'm not sure that I needed to. Oh well -- more time knitting this lovely project. Thing 3 can purl now, and Thing 2 has learned a k2tog decrease. I'm hoping to get my needles back from her hat soon. I think I'm more excited about her finishing something than she is!

Okay, I get it

No pictures = no comments. Fine, fine, as my children might say.

So there's knitting happening. Seemed like if you're a terribly active kid -- he's crawling around the house when he's not hopping everywhere -- that sitting and knitting might actually help the jitters you get from being sidelined.

I'm just happy he didn't break his neck. I'm starting to worry about his big sisters. Think they can actually fly?

He's terribly proud of his work, and has promised scarves for presents. Smart kid -- he hasn't identified a gift-giving occasion, just that he'll make gifts.

The adorable kitten has all he can do to not attack the ends of Thing 3's knitting needles. It's best to wait until he's asleep to knit.

I think the boy promised me a sweater.

But I'm going to have a sweater soon enough. Once I put aside those troublesome mitts and the Deep Breath sweater and picked up my Kauni, I've been knitting like someone with her mojo back.

Doesn't take very much to amuse me. I knit round and round, and say, "Ooooooh, look, it's blue now! and orange! Wonder when it will turn yellow?" I'm ashamed to say how many errors I've made in the very simple pattern. I'll be knitting along, and look down, and in the middle of a solid row, there will be one stitch out of place. What?? How does this happen? I think I'm paying attention, I'm holding the yarn in different hands, and yet, random different color. Uniquely unable to manage life, that's my real skill.

So I drop stitches down and redo.

This morning, the cardigan-to-be visited the lemon tree.

And the getting-bigger Fuji apples.

It was overcast -- still is -- but the colors just glow. I could spend all of the time I should be grading papers or sweeping or, dare I say, knitting time just gazing into these color changes, but I'm impatient to see what will come next. Will the colors continue to make enough contrast without blinding anyone?

And yes, I did go with serendipity. Seems to be working so far.

My doctor listened to my chest today, and started laughing when he asked me to take a deep breath and instead I gave him a concert in cough minor. He wrote a nice prescription for me for some antibiotics, gave me an inhaler because I sounded wheezy to him and then sent me off to buy some over the counter sinus medication. I think that was because I told him my teeth ached when I went up and down stairs. I'm hoping to feel better very soon, because I have to keep up with this sort of stuff all day long:

I think I'll take pills and lie on the couch and knit.