Friday, December 29, 2006

Time in a Bottle

Today, the children and I plus a friend took BART in to San Francisco and walked to the California Academy of Sciences' current home. There was a dinosaur exhibit that we wanted to see, but more than that, it was an incredibly beautiful day. I wanted to grab the day and not spend it grumping at them for not picking up around the house or listening to them gripe at each other when they were bored.

First lesson? The kids are so excited on the train that they make everyone else look asleep. There's the excitement of going through the ticket turnstile, the elation of the escalator, the thrill of getting yelled at when you walk too closely to the track, the delight of getting on the train, finding a seat, standing and feeling the swaying of the car. . . seriously, it's a kick. Thing 4 yells, "Hello daddy work, see daddy work, goodbye daddy work!" at the top of her lungs as we pass the tall downtown buildings, which is fairly amusing itself.

The Academy was crowded, but fun, and taking a break at Yerba Buena Gardens for play made sense. Back in time for the snake feeding! Of course, we weren't the only ones there -- it was so crowded that the middle Things had to push in under grownups' legs to see. Even though it was hideously packed, and one of the snakes wasn't cooperating, both middle Things got to see some of the pine snakes snacking on mice. Later in the day, I lost Thing 2 and went back to find her so we could leave. We wandered back through the snake area in time to see the Anaconda get rat #2. Much more exciting than our gopher snake!

There was no way to see everything that was there -- ohmygosh, the flashlight fish! Big, big, BIG wow factor. I literally said, "Gosh" -- but we had to leave even without everything fully absorbed.

As we walked back to the station afterwards, I pulled my Mother voice out and said, "Okay, guys, I need you to stay near me as we go across these streets -- it's crowded." As I glanced back at them, I saw all four big kids walking with their arms out like zombies. I didn't laugh where they could see me, still in mom mode, but it cracked me up nonetheless.

Another BART ride home, just as big of a blast as the first, although with more crankiness among the kids. Pizza and dessert (it's a Friday tradition), and then some time just hanging out. I wandered into the living room to see everyone watching a cooking show on television. I climbed into spouseman's chair for some closeness, and we were joined by Thing 4 and the measuring cups.

While he and I were talking to her, I said, "She is just cuteness itself."
"Kind of makes you want another one," he said. (Oh ho ho ho ho, isn't he just funniness personified?)
"No; what it makes me wish is that I could capture this feeling for all of them and actually remember it. I know I felt this way about them and they were equally cute, but I don't remember."

That's the bittersweet for me. I know we're supposed to live in the moment to the extent that we have no thought for future or past, but in parenting, these sweet sweet moments do go by and I miss them, looking instead at the dishes or my moods, or something they're doing to fight with one another. They are succeeded by others, but the reality is that they fall through your hands like sand, or water, and there is no way to capture them except in memory.

And we know what my memory is like.

When the bees make something sweet out of their days, I can taste it and give it away for months.

But our days, our moments, experiences of one another follow one another endlessly -- or so it seems. I measured the Things, and between them all, there was about 2.75 inches of growth since mid-October. Time's passing, mama, and I had better get my mind and self around the notion that all I really have with them is the Right Now, always. No excuses about making things up to them-- it's only Now, when the wheel of time is meeting the road of my experience, that counts. Sweet days like today help, but they pass too.


I wish I knit faster, too.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Whole Year

One year ago today I posted my first blog post. My stated format was to review books and knit, and I've done some of both, although less of the first. I also hoped that by having a forum to discuss my knitting projects, I'd actually get more of them knit.

Did it work?
Sounding something like the 12 Days of Christmas, I present:
One felted bag, one cabled scarf for an exchange, two cotton tank tops, three diaper covers, four different pairs of mittlets, six (1, 2, 3-6) hats, seven different wool, cotton, big and little sweaters, covers for a cell phone and a water bottle, and a funny-shaped brown squirrel.

So, by my rough count, it comes out to about 28 or 29 finished items, some big and self-designed, some small and really messed up, in a twelvemonth. Not bad for someone whose experience of life is that of being chronically behind and constantly ripping out her knitting. Also, not as exciting as Allison's latest finished object, either!

All joking around aside, I made some strides this year in my knitting, and still have many more skills, habits and ideas I'd like to make happen in the future.
I find knitting almost equally frustrating and fascinating (sort of how I feel about the bees, too -- hmmmm, I see a pattern developing here) and that's probably why I work avidly at some times and take some slower times too.

The people I've met through blogging have been even better than finishing sweaters. While this is so often said as to seem trite, when people I've never met before cheer me on when I'm frustrated by a project and celebrate when something works out I realize how powerful a stream I've leapt into, and I'm humbled.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, peaceful, and if it applies to you, yarnily productive new year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Not a Creature Was Stirring. . .

Well, except for the mice -- they're still fairly happy and prolific. But at 8 pm, Pacific Time, this was what my house looked like upstairs:

It's so sweet it makes my teeth ache. Only the thought that this means they'll be up at 5 am keeps me from laughing right out loud.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Perfectly Normal, Really

Well, I'm still not knitting. I have some hopes for the upcoming weekend, but nothing yet. Thanks to Jacquie, though, I can do the meme that everyone else is doing. A confession, first. I had to ask my spouse and kids for ideas because I'm generally believe I'm just about as "normal" as they come.

THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

Six Weird Things About Me

1. The morning newspaper -- please please please give it to me in perfectly crisp, straight layers, so I can open it like a book and read it from front to back. If you're really my friend, cull the parts I don't want also.

2. I had all four of my children at home with midwives.

3. I despise flossing my teeth. I would never ever do it if I were in charge. However, I realize the necessity thereof. So much for the fun of adulthood.

4. I shower with my spouse about 90% of the time. We started doing this when it was really fun and exciting, and the habit just stuck. We have some of our best conversations in the shower, and now it's one of the few places we're not beset with children. Thing 4 has started flapping the curtain open and talking to us, but she'll grow out of that if past history holds true.

5. I routinely get songs by George Michael, the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, and Tears for Fears stuck in my head. None of these are artists that I particularly enjoy.

6. I have uttterly bizarre and detailed dreams. Nearly every night.

That's it. Now I just have to think of six poor people to tag. Sheesh. That's why I don't usually do these things.

But wait -- there are a couple of new knitted items in the house:

Here's hoping you all have warm hands.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nothing much to show

I woke up this morning from a dream about being part of a performance-enhancing drug scandal at the boarding school I attended. (Note: I did not attend boarding school.) It was complete with hypodermic needles, incriminating receipts, teachers who couldn't spell -- what word starts with nie- and ends with -le? The funniest part? It was a musical performance that the drugs were enhancing! Dream puns.

Zero knitting content, but my shopping is done (I think). Now there's the wrapping, the mailing -- I'm not that ahead -- the annual trip to the Christmas Carousel in Berkeley, in other words, just the fun stuff. We even made gingerbread houses.

So, my blogiversary is coming up. I'm not able to think of anything too exciting to mark it, but I'm open to suggestions.

I hope everyone's Christmas/Hanukka/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Winter Lights/no special day celebrations are filled with light and love.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments. I didn't mean to ruin Christmas -- um, think of it as an early present? I didn't live here during Loma Prieta, but I lived in the San Fernando Valley area of California during the 1972 earthquake (missed the Northridge one), and it was terrifying. I don't like knowing that there's one coming, but I like knowing it better with a smidge of prep.

Here's to encouraging us toward better preparation for life!

Today, I finished this:

It's easily five years "late," but in one sense it's early.

Maybe it will fit her this fall.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Relative Value

Last night, I was waiting for my spouse to get home from a very late meeting, and as I sat there, knitting away on what turns out to be ten rows of to-be-frogged lace (groans all 'round), I picked up a little booklet called "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country." It's sponsored by a lot of different agencies, and basically is designed to scare you silly. Well, not really, but the facts alone are scary enough.

1. We live in one of the highest shake zones in the Bay Area.
2. We don't have quake insurance.
3. We can't afford quake insurance.
4. There probably won't be much help coming from our local or state agencies in the days after a big one.
5. the last "big one" wasn't The Big One.
6. My house isn't ready.

I sat there, trying to breathe and think calm thoughts, and images of my children, sleeping peacefully in their beds floated into my brain. The two middle Things were snug together, blonde heads close, and the baby was a lump under her blankets. Thing 1 was upstairs with the cats cuddled up against her.

One of the reasons I've never bought household earthquake kits is the expense -- you can easily drop up to a thousand dollars, depending on how you house and supply them. And really, we don't have spare money.

However, the stunning inconsistency of thinking I would pay any price for my childrens' safety and yet not procuring and filling some large trash cans with water, flashlights, first aid supplies, food, etc. shook me. Besides, if our house falls down and then burns to the ground, an extra thousand dollars of credit card debt is going to pale in comparison.

We're still not completely ready -- or even as ready as we can be. But a trip to Home Depot this morning moved us farther down that road. Spouseman has been putting up shear walls in the basement, and after I get our kits filled, I'm going to start thinking about grab bags.

How quickly could you get your irreplaceables together in the event of an emergency? Got pictures of all of your household goods, stored in another place, for insurance purposes? Backup photo storage? Family meeting place? Do you have a day plan, an hour plan, and a five-minute plan? Do you consider yarn and handknits part of your grab-to-go plan?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Finally got my sister

Yes, it's true. Go see this to see what some not-very-gentle prodding can produce.

She's such a great writer, and it's not just because she's related to me.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Half way there

Remember that easy lace in the beautiful Schaeffer yarn? The lace I put away in a fit of pique because I kept messing it up and having to rip back? Well, after realizing how many ends I have left to go in the fishy sweater (sorry, Brittany, not done yet), spending some time like this seemed like a much better idea.

Got the dignified and calm cat, the cocoa, mittlets, wool sweater, tired eyes, a down comforter, lace to knit and what's this on television? Why, cute cowboys!

So anyhow, bull riding notwithstanding, the first skein of yarn is all used up. The wrap is about this big right now.

A better-color closeup:

The only thing keeping me from launching right into the next ball of yarn is that it's my only remaining ball of yarn. I think that to make it a wrap that seems proportional, I'll have to make it about half again as high. That will use up approximately half of the ball of yarn (Hey, I majored in English, okay?). Then I have to figure out some sort of neat edging that will a) look great, b) keep it from curling -- although the weight of the cotton will help with that -- and c) use up just about half a ball of yarn.

I've considered a simple attached i-cord, some kind of knitted on triangle pointy out edging, and a five-row garter stitch picot bind-off. Any ideas?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The promised pictures

I promised I'd post pictures from the cabin:

I told you I was busy! This is just some of the stuff I read while there. I liked Jane and the Man of the Cloth (thanks, Allison) and couldn't put Holley Bishop's Robbing the Bees down. Animals in Translation is another wonderful work By Temple Grandin. If you've never read any of her stuff, give it a try. Carrie Bebris' Suspense and Sensibility lost me in the preface. The "spirit in the mirror" isn't what I hope for in a good mystery. I'm looking forward to reading The Queen Must Die, by William Longgood. I think I've read at least one other book by him, but titles escape me. That was one reason that being an English PhD student was a challenge for me!

"Bee literature" simply fascinates me. Before we took off, I checked the hive once more, and saw things I don't understand. I also saw new bees chewing their way out of their waxy birth chambers, which left me stunned and feeling honored and fortunate. Unfortunately, reading about bees doesn't teach me all that much. I'm just getting a handle on how little I know. I imagine any endeavor worth its salt has this effect on its devotees. I know knitting is the same way for me.

Speaking of knitting, here's some closer peeks at the sweater. An adorable collar -- I just love this colorway. Maybe that's why I liked the sweater so much (although not enough to finish it in less than five years). In fact, it's been so long that the yarn in the kit has changed.

Any bets on how long it takes Thing 4 to stain this beyond recognition? Hopefully I'll keep it away from food by whipping it off of her if she exhibits any hunger signs. Little swimmy fish around the bottom:

What the things did over Thanksgiving:

You can't see it, but Thing 4 is wearing new dalmation puppy rain boots. And how tired were they on the way home?

Thing 4 is asleep there too -- you can just see her head over the top of her seat. Thing 2 didn't nap, because she almost never does. Despite my anxiety dreams about finding horrible things upon re-entry, the worst was a load of sour laundry in the washer. Or maybe the mostly-eaten mouse in the trap that had been dragged upstairs to the carpet.

It's good to be home. The cats are lovely -- I swear the kitten is bigger than he was -- and we had, in fact, left a fairly nice and clean house for our return. I have work to do tonight before I knit, and I'm going to get it done. But I am not going to weave ends in until tomorrow. That's a daylight activity.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Final tally:
one turkey
three and half books of interest to myself
one Saturday San Francisco Chronicle
one last week's Chronicle book review
ten or so renditions of The Cat in the Hat
stacks of river rocks
One small sweater (half done to start, now all but assembled)
four trips to the coffee shop
two pairs of shoes made so wet by falling into Austen Creek that they couldn't be worn
nine Duraflame logs used
umpteen games of "make the baby laugh"
and many things I've left out.

That was my Thanksgiving in a cabin in Cazadero. Redwoods everywhere, only sporadic rain, a creek close enough for the kids to go throw rocks and make things as the spirit moved them, and a coffee shop just a short walk down the road. It's been very nice.

Knitting-wise? Not so great. I spent the drive up half-untangling a pound of beautiful green yarn over which no doubt Thing 1 and I are going to fight, so I didn't knit for those four hours of holiday traffic. Easier on the brain than knitting (and the eyes in case of an accident).

And, had I been able to use my brain, I wouldn't have knitted each of the sleeve starts at least twice. Got to remember that increase rate! But the sweater kit that I bought when Thing 2 was about six -- months -- is finally done. Thing 4 is going to look adorable in it, but I can't post pictures until I get home. I promise, after I unpack and hook up the cable, pictures tomorrow!

In lieu of that, this meme from Turtlegirl is going to have to suffice. I swear I've done this before, but what the heck. I can't find it in my archives. Without further ado, some Things About Stefaneener:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Photo Mate
2. Dog poop scooper
3. Hurt book repairer
4. Graduate secretary

B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1. Raising Arizona
2. The Princess Bride
3. A Christmas Story
4. ummmmm, not much of a movie gal

C) Four places I have lived
1. Granada Hills, CA
2. Charlottesville, VA
3. Tempe, AZ
4. Knoxville, TN

D) Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. nothing currently

E) I have been on vacation:
1. Alaska's Inland Passage
2. Venice, Italy
3. upstate New York
4. Guerneville, CA

F) Websites visited daily:
1. Knitty Forum
2. Yahoo! mail
3. Bloglines
4. Random bopping around

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Toast
2. Chocolate
3. Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ben and Jerry's ice cream
4. Blenheim apricots

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. My mythical farm I could have without leaving my urban place like this
2. Italy (just for a visit)
3. ummmm, the garden?
4. at my table, drinking tea and talking to Suzee

I don't tag, so if you want to do this, let me know you did.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stash and Solitude

Most of my life, I thought of myself as an extreme extrovert. Energy came from being around other people; I didn't need time alone to recharge. I didn't understand friends of mine who would unplug their telephones for days on end. Save for reading, my hobbies were social ones: sports, dancing, graduate school.

Now that I have four children, I realize that I was actually experiencing a fairly significant amount of alone time. By "significant," I of course mean "any." Time spent walking from my car to a destination, time spent getting ready for bed at night, time spent in the bathroom.

Take the other morning. The state of the yarn room upstairs had been preying on my mind. Between my general slovenliness and the depredations of Things 2 and 3, it had become something of a post-hurricane scene. But on this, the glorious morning of alone early waking, the baby did not wake up when my form exited the bed. Very unusual.

I literally snuck upstairs, where only Thing 4 and the cats sleep. The others are all cozy in one room downstairs. Although I had held out with great restraint (hear that, you all who bought up the lovely light green KSH on sale?) , I had made a few purchases on my local yarn store's closing day. I felt increasingly responsible to neaten it up some:

enough Encore to make Lily Chin's reversible Aran Afghan
Light green yarn for a light green Thing 1 cardigan
bright green yarn for something for Thing 1 -- any suggestions?

So there I was, stuffing yarn in cubbyholes like a postal employee, when Thing 1 stumbled in. I told her to sit in the entry, in order to prevent her taking up the unusually small clear space on the floor. As she woke up, she started to talk. She had lots to tell me, the cats' shenanigans to comment on, and just general early-morning chat. On one hand, I treasure alone time with one of my children and enjoy hearing what they're thinking about. On the other hand, I had so been looking forward to having a little bit of time with just my own voices in my head.

No matter. By the time I was done, all of them were awake and talking talking talking, demanding oatmeal, complaining about the manifold unfairnesses in our parenting, and spinning on the now-clear floor. No matter how chaotic this may seem, these are after pictures, with those two rightmost bins empty, and the pictures move from left to right.

There's more than just yarn in here -- there's a (so far) unused Ashford spinning wheel, some quilting and sewing supplies, a redwork quilt in that box, books, and photographs and albums to put them in. But since I want to have memories inside my head as well as pictures to treasure, I'll try to remember that alone time comes in time, but a sleepy child talking to you or a toddler spinning joyfully with pointy sticks are time-limited offers, and act accordingly.

I hope a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving for all who are celebrating.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sandwich, anyone?

It took an incredible confluence of factors -- older three children playing at other houses, and the baby asleep for a long nap -- but I spent some restorative time on my knees today.

Not praying, although my knees are sore (as is my index finger) but basting. Sometimes I think it's having a fairly clear idea of the quilting pattern for this quilt that keeps me eager and focused on it (although still slow in execution). It's not going to be perfect, but I'm so looking forward to getting it in a hoop.

That also explains why Thing 1's first birthday quilt is still a basted bundle upstairs.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How Time Flies

Hard to believe that this

is, after birthday waffles with whipped cream, a five year old today. I remember that his birth, at home in water like the others, was a perfect two hour birth. Midwives were there and everything!

Of course, at the rate I'm going, he'll be seven before the brown sweater is done.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

When too much is just enough

Bet you thought I was talking about yarn, huh?

Well, last night I was working on the cupcake cake. I had baked the cakes, then set them to cool and taken Jane and the Unpleasantness (which I heard of through Allison's blog) to the bath for a little reading and relaxation.

When I was dry and dressed, I went to get a cup of hot chocolate -- in the book, everyone is drinking chocolate for breakfast, and it was inspiring -- and as I leaned over to get a pan out of the below-counter cupboard, a wee little mousie ran across the counter about a foot from my eyes. My reaction? I shrieked and decided I didn't need cocoa after all. I did clap my hands to make certain that I wasn't going to get another surprise, and moved the cupcakes. Rustlings from behind the stove still gave me the wobblies.

My spouse said that my reactions were harming my reputation as a big, strong woman. Be that as it may, rodents in the house are something of an Achilles heel for my toughness.

This morning, the cupcakes (blissfully ungnawed) were transformed into the birthday cake of Thing 2's dreams.

There were snake-themed activities:

And snake-themed gifts:

And when it was all over, Queen Cleopatra came home from the vet's.

She's a very vocal Burmese that we got at our local animal shelter, and she had to go to the vet before coming home, to make certain that she had been spayed. She doesn't think much of our other new family member, Puck, a regular old fluffy black kitten:

That said, she may have a point. He's got some manners issues.

So now we have eleven creatures in the house (not counting the mice, whose days are numbered if I have to carpet the place with snap traps) depending on us for food, care, companionship, and housing. The snake is happier with more heat, the parakeets think that the cats are a Very Bad Idea, the dog seems to be resigned to his fate, my spouse (who doesn't like cats too much) has become the favorite lap, and Mr. Sucky the Vacuum and I are going to continue our special relationship. It's okay, I've missed having cats, and these two make me laugh already.

I guess a woman with four children has already demonstrated a commitment to overabundance, huh?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Brought to you by the color brown

I'm up to the shaping on the back of the "easy" sweater. As I read the pattern I'm sort of copying, it appears that the yoke is a combination of a raglan and a very fat saddle shoulder. Okay, I can wing that. Or that's what I tell myself as I lie in bed at night, wondering if I shouldn't do something involving graph paper and measuring tapes.

If I could find any of the dozens of measuring tapes we've owned over the years.

I'm still enjoying the pattern. I imagine myself a tiny little person, climbing hills of yarn.

Then I wonder if I'll ever be able to knit something easy without ripping and redoing. Main Line isn't for ripping and redoing, really. And I'll definitely be handwashing, because I think if I use the machine, even on the gentlest setting, it would strip the shine from the yarn. And heck, if I've ripped and reknit so much, it's sort of special to me. Kind of like knitting three sweaters at once, you know?

And I tried, I really tried. My local yarn store is closing, and I stayed out until everything was 40% off. Even then, over numerous trips, I didn't find anything I really needed. I have a spreadsheet that makes it very clear that yarn is among the "you don't need any more" items in my home.

But I'm enjoying the cotton and cotton blend kick I'm on so much, that when I saw these colors of Cascade "Sierra," I bought enough to make either a mint-chip chocolate sweater for me, plus an autumn gold sweater for Thing 4, or else some funky leaf-themed fair isle for. . . someone? with a mostly brown background. Maybe it's not just cotton. Maybe it's the color, too.

As I write that, I realize that I had the camera set on the wrong light. The colors aren't this washed out -- if I were getting that swoony over these colors, I would have a problem. Imagine them ramped up in intensity about three times.

And the weird, wintry looking light in the pictures? That would explain why the snake is cold. That's why he isn't eating. As an aside? Frozen baby mice in my freezer. Yum. Just the thought is a special one for me.

Thanks, Jen, for your warning story. I think we're going to have to invest in a bigger heater or something. Urgh. And he also can't really be held (the ball he was in is a protective reaction). Hard to explain to a reptile-mad little one, but "You can't hold your pet, honey!" He's only about 12" long, so I'm feeling a bit of concern that we keep his tiny cylindricalness warm. And it's cold for the parakeets, too. Tiny sweaters for everyone?

Hey, go on over to Cast On, and hear my friend Patricia read her essay here. She doesn't have a blog, but she's got good things to say!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Somebody's Seven!

Seven years ago today, this conversation was taking place in our apartment:

Midwife: "Are you sure, because I'm going about 100 miles an hour, and I don't want to speed if I don't really have to?"

Spouse: "The baby is coming now."

Me: "AAaaaaaggghhh! Get Ellen here NOW!"

In 45 minutes, I went from being pretty certain that we were going to have a baby that day, to, well, having had a baby. Ellen the midwife arrived just in time to catch, but not with enough time to park her car. She just left it and ran. Thank goodness our apartment was on the driveway and floor-level! It was pretty intense.

We probably should have taken that as a sign.

The last seven years have been quite an adventure with our little missy, and today she got something she's wanted desperately for at least four:

Thing 2 has taught me a lot, and it seems that I'll keep learning from her. Besides reading a lot about ball pythons and how to care for your new baby python, by Saturday, I need to learn how to turn this

into a cupcake-snake.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Someone Else's Humor

For some reason, I've had an utterly draining day -- and it wasn't even that bad. I think I need to do yoga or something. At any rate, I knit maybe 2 rows, and have high hopes of more tonight.

And no matter how stressful I find my life, it's really pretty wonderful. See?

I also have lovely things to tell you about this week, but need to wait a bit. In the mean time, this piece cracked me up so much when I first read it -- and it's so perfectly appropriate to my life now -- that I thought I'd share it here. "Nor slide down until you are nearly slid away." Snort!

[Reprinted completely without permission from the Atlantic Monthly]

Laws Concerning Food and Drink
Household Principles
Lamentations of the Father

by Ian Frazier

Laws of Forbidden Places

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea,
and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may
eat, but not in the living room.

Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you
may eat, but not in the living room.

Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of
the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color
and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living

Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal
treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room.
Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in
sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room,
neither may you carry such therein.

Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room
carpet begins, of any food or beverage therein you may not
eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching
something, then may you eat in the living room.

*Laws When at Table*

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such
as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below
you as they were.

Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the
table, for that is an abomination to me.

Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your
feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of

Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any
utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not
what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk,
and lick it off, you will be sent away from my presence.

When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the
table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth
hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding
like a duck: for you will be sent away from my presence.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you
have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or
your sister what is within; verily I say to you, do not so,
even if your brother or your sister has done the same before

Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food;
neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the
raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you,
do not touch it, but leave it as it is.

And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a
marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend,
because we do not do that, that is why.

And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees,
do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do
not do that, that is why.

Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or
the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away.

Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into
the syrup.

And now behold.....even as I have said, it has come to pass.

*Laws Pertaining to Dessert*

For as we judge between the plate that is unclean and the
plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean,
then you shall have dessert.

But of the unclean plate, the laws are these:

If ye have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your
peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas
each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you
have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks,
both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then ye shall have

But if ye eat a lesser number of peas, and yet ye eat the
potatoes, still ye shall not have dessert; and if ye eat the
peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, ye shall not have
dessert, no, verily I say unto you, not even a small portion

And if thou tries to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas
around with a fork, that it may appear that thou hast eaten
what thou hast not, ye will fall into iniquity.

And I will know, and ye shall have no dessert.

*On Screaming*

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time.

If ye are given a plate on which two foods ye do not wish to
touch each other are touching each other, and your voice
rises up even unto the ceiling, while ye point to the
offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say unto
you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server,
that the server may correct his transgression and peace
shall prevail throughout the land.

Likewise if ye receive a portion of fish from which every
piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the
herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in
vileness, again I say, verily, refrain from screaming.

Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint
unto death, make not that sound from within your throat,
neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your

For even as I have made the fish, and it is as it should be;
behold, I eat it myself, yet do not die.

*Concerning Face and Hands*

Cast your countenance upward unto the light, and lift your
eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off.

For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your
head, and there is rice thereon.

And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie
of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a
manner beyond comprehension!

Only hold thyself still; hold still, I say.

Give unto each finger in its turn for my examination
thereof, and also each thumb.

Lo, how iniquitous they appear.

What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go henceforth
until I have done.

*Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances*

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time.

Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water
of any beast of the field, or any fowl of the air nor of any
kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the
package; nor rub your feet against cars, not against any
building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what hath the cat done, that you
should go forth and afflict it so and bindeth it with tape?

And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand
between the light and the book.

Verily I say unto you, you will drive me to madness.

Neither forget what I said about the tape.

[Ian Frazier, "Laws Concerning Food and Drink: Household
Principles, Lamentations of the Father," The Atlantic
Monthly, February 1997, Volume 279, No. 2, pages 89-90.]

Received from S.McEntire.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Vermin and Viruses

The mice are back; I'm thinking of getting cats, even without the guarantee that they'd chase the mice. I think the rats are back too.

Well, rats, I think. Heee.

We're still snotty. Last night, spouse man said, "So, we're just going to be sick until February, right?" I'm going to get a gallon of that anti-bacterial stuff and dip the kids in it every 10 minutes or so. I know all about the perils of antibacterial stuff, thanks. I'm just tired of being sick in the "I have little children" way.

So Alisha over at her blog is having a contest guessing pumpkin seeds. If you like little Christmas ornaments, make a guess.

Obligatory knitting? I'm into the second ball on the back of the cardigan and wondering if I have enough yarn. Instead of figuring, I'm going to adventure on and find out.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Making it up as I go along

A dear friend and I have been talking about how we compose our lives, often pushed by forces outside of ourselves. I deal with that as I can. One way I do it is not taking advice much from "experts." I have completely stopped reading parenting books, only asking trusted friends when I have specific questions or confusions. I also try to quiet the "shoulds" that peek over my shoulders and shout in my ears seemingly all the time. Part of being a real grown-up, I guess, is taking responsibility for what I do, and not taking responsibility for being or doing what others think I should do.

Sometimes it works really well. Sometimes I just sort of patch things together. Sometimes I do things that don't seem "responsible." I overheard a neighbor last night telling her children that they could each pick out one piece of candy to eat before bed. I laughed. It's not a rule that works for my lively bunch.

I did tell them that Thing 4 doesn't get candy (aside from the pieces she's prying up off of the floor and various furnishings), and that they had to brush teeth last night and eat breakfast today, and that's what works for us. I just heard Thing 2 say, "The day after Halloween is great!" After doing a long ToT with her similarly-dressed friends, Thing 1 is sick with the same thing we all seem to have -- a shattered-glass sinus headache plus runny nose -- but the middle ones are in full hue and cry. I'm hoping to tempt them to play outside for much of the day today.

Sometimes making up your own rules every single day is too exhausting. Sometimes I give myself a day off, sometimes I go for more structure.

It's kind of like knitting. I've lost my current patience for the Schaeffer lace after the last six rows I yanked back (thank goodness it's a tough yarn that doesn't show these re-dos!). In retaliation, starting a new sweater seemed like a great idea. So I looked through some current patterns -- structure, you see? I want something I can knit on without too much thought, that won't make me upset like the lace, but something not mindlessly boring. "Everyday cardigan" seems to be the idea in my head.

I love the sweater in Inspired Cable Knits, but not enough to truly follow the pattern. Saddle shoulders, though, I very much like. And seams will give structure to a fairly floppy yarn, I'm thinking. I like the cable on the arms of "Mariah," from Knitty, but again, not enough to follow the pattern. The colors remind me of chocolate and cherries. It's Knitpick's Main Line, and I'm a little concered about the splittiness.

I've vacuumed and mopped and now I'm going to collapse on the couch. Maybe.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Busy busy

Head colds, general activities, some knitting -- I'm past the frogged yarn on that lace, and back into the ball . . . that about sums up my week or so.

I got all into the beehive yesterday in what I hope wasn't the last gasp of warm weather. No matter how many times I do this, I'm still delighted by it. Maybe it was all those filmstrips droning on in warm classrooms, or nature specials on television, but it sends me. With the help of my spouse, I got the heavy top box off of the hive, and went through the bottom, where the colony "lives." I saw the drone brood, with its convex caps that look like bullets, watched two different forage dances, saw the worker brood, capped and uncapped, probably saw the queen (and greeted her appropriately), and treated for mites with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Since the top box was too heavy for me to lift alone, I pulled out three frames of capped honey, lifted it back up without that load, and replaced one frame. I then harvested the other two -- my inspection led me to believe that they had enough pollen and honey to get through to February, when the big eucalyptus bloom hits in this area.

As in so many areas, practice improves my skills. I draped kitchen towels over the hives, only revealing the frame I was examining, and that kept them calmer than in previous inspections. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I'm learning.

I learned enough doing mine to adjust the pattern to make another pair of mittlets for Thing 1 (hers are Plymouth Encore, so they can be machine washed). I think they go nicely with her newly-pierced ears, don't you?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Unexpected goodness

This morning, all of my Things went for a walk around the block, so I got a shower! Whoopie! Then, they happily played outside for a while. I used the absence of a small person clinging to my leg to clean up the house and make lunch for our homeschooling park day.

There was still time left over, so I tried my Amazing Powers of Recipe Creation and made these, right out of my head.

Deep Chocolate Wonder Cookies with Mini Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. I wonder what it says about my cooking habits that I can make a passible cookie with very little thought?

Anyhow, if you want to do this too? Just cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar, and then add 2 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla. When it's all nice, add 1 cup of cocoa, 1 cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda. When everything is mixed, stir in some peanut butter cups.

Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. Eat. All measurements are pretty much the palm of my hand or by eye, so your mileage may vary.

Plus, I frogged and reknit the larger mittlet, so they match and are lovely. Unfortunately, I had already mailed my scarf package. And, when I pulled the needles out of that cotton lace? It's so definitely wide enough that I just ripped out the bad rows and think I'll get moving on it tonight. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Look what I got!

I got to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium today with six children and my sister! Much hoo-ha ensued. I'm never going to take a walking toddler out in public like this without another adult who is not responsible for her own children (although my sister, "AnNees" to the toddler), is a true help with her. I just would have enjoyed another pair of free hands.

Nevertheless, the Ocean Sunfish had us cracking up. Fun fact? Beginning as larva one-tenth of an inch long, sunfish increase their weight 60 million times. This is one silly-looking fish. Then there were sea otters -- cutest faces in the Pacific -- and jellyfish, and that Great White Shark who cruises around and around and around, and the kids got wet touching rays and decorator crabs ("What you need in this grotto, darling, is more kelp! Maybe that frilly-edged kind. And while you're at it, maybe drape some fishnet around for an edgy detail. Got any anemone friends you could talk into moving in?" Heeeee.) and my favorite animal maybe, the Brown Pelican. They aren't in the aquarium, they're outside gliding around. I want to fly like them just once. Or maybe be one. I don't think they can knit, though, although there's room in that pouch for a whole lot of yarn.

After I got a rare cup of coffee-with-caffeine and the children played at the edge of the bay,it really was time to end this adventure. I didn't even look for a yarn store as our day wound down, though, which I take as evidence of my being completely overwhelmed by that point growing maturity and consumerist self-control. Plus, the baby was tired and we had a long way to go. And I'm not yet a brown pelican.
Me. See? No pelican here.

After driving in excessively heavy traffic both ways -- man, am I glad that commuting isn't any part of my life and yes, I know how lucky I am -- I got home to this:

Aha! My scarf exchange pal is more onthe ball than I am, and when I opened it I saw just how much more! Her very first lace project is in here. Say it with me. This woman sent me her Very. First. Lace. Project. I don't know about you all, but my first [successful] lace project isn't going off to someone I don't know. It's going to my mother, if I get it done. That way, I sort of get to keep it, you know, because it's my mother. Okay, no points for blathering about how fundamentally selfish I am. Maybe it's just because I'm not very lace-intuitive or something.

This scarf is made of Kaalund Yarns' "Classic Two," and it's made in a lace pattern called Fishtail. How appropriate is it that it came today? (Except the sunfish really hasn't much of a tail. Maybe this can make up for it?) The colorway, "wine," has all of Northern California's redwood country in it. Burgundy, like the redwoods, and a deep green, and a winey color I've seen on some suspicious-looking fungus. Anyhow, it's gorgeous.

And the other treats in the box -- a tossed-off facecloth. "Oh, it's only entrelac," I can hear her saying. Yeah, right. And it's only the first lace thing you've ever made, blah blah blah. Wrapped in that little trinket? Lavender soap. Nice lavender soap. And some lip balm -- locally made. Her local, that is. Sesame candy. Some locally made knit-related cards (whoopie! I can impose my passion on people from afar!), and a beautiful moon shaped Moon Valle Bees and Botanicals -- boy, did Stephanie nail me and my passions -- bar of lotion. My sad little cuticles and dry knuckles are, I think, purring.

So hey, Stephanie! Hi!!! Tell your friends I love it. Tell them to read my blog and leave lots of comments! Hi there, Stephanie's friends! Just another nut out here in knitblogland. . .


I finished these last night. If they didn't have the obligatory mistakes that I have to frog and redo so they match, I'd send them to my scarf pal. As it is, she's going to get something else to go with that scarf. I know what I'm going to do tomorrow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Drat Beatrix Potter, Anyhow

The dead mouse count in the kitchen is now four, and we're wondering how many more there are. Cooler weather plus a house with walls that resemble swiss cheese equals rodent incursions. Sigh.

In happier news, the ISE3 scarf is finished and tasselled. I'm glad I went ahead with them, because it looks nice and finished now. Blocking helped counteract the big roll tendency, but it's not perfect. The tassels eat yarn, though. This picture is the "almost there!" shot.

Cable closeup:

I was also gifted with two lovely skeins of linen. I can't tell you enough how pretty they are. There's a little sheen on the yarn. Someday I'll make a beautiful complicated lace something. Not any time soon, though.

Speaking of lace? This

is going to be ripped out today, when I can clear an area on the table and lay it all out. Not only can't I fix the mistake I made in it, I decided that I really want it a few repeats wider. As I recall, it was fun while I was knitting it, so I should be able to redo this. Probably not by Christmas, though. Thank goodness for honey.