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?