Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Conspiracy Unmasked

The month closes with events of unfathomable significance. Isabel, who lately has little patience with Matty, is suddenly intrigued by Matty's mathematical inclinations and has spent the evening explaining to him the process for dividing one fraction by another. The little man takes to the task immediately and she sets him one problem after another. I am inclined to question her motives in teaching these things to Matty.  Isabel hates math, although she is generally good at it, and I wonder whether she is grooming her five year old brother to "assist" her with the more tedious aspects of her math homework, which would be all of it.  

In the meantime, poor Nate --who, up until recently, was our budding math genius--is left to tackle his suddenly babyish third grade intro-to-multiplication worksheet (if Suzie has three groups of five pieces of candy, how much candy does she have? Draw a diagram to show your work!). This is a particular waste of his time since he can already multiply very well, thank you. 

Even more surprising:  Emma --the girl who eats a grand total of five different foods, not one of which is spaghetti with tomato sauce--ate a plate full of linguini with marinara sauce tonight and even sent her compliments to the chef.  She did not, however, touch the salad, so there is no need to worry that things are totally out of control. 

Not surprising at all:  despite my goal of finishing my Alpine Lace Shell in the next week or so, it is possible that I may have fished a different project out of cold storage and stuck it in my basket.  Just in case I get (even more) bored with knitting back and forth and back and forth in pink cotton, even though it never makes the slightest difference in the length of the shell.

And last, a word problem for the rest of us: if mommy spends the weekend knitting a really cute hat for her five year old son, what is the probability that he will leave it on the bus the first time he wears it?  Bonus question:  what is the percentage of mothers in the area who could have accurately predicted such a result?

Farewell November. I'm too tired to keep up with you and your tricky ways any longer. All hail December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Sweater of Avoidance

Long time no knitting update, right?

I have been on a mini streak of knitting small projects. I finished a hat for Nate using yarn I spun from some fiber he got me for my birthday a few years ago. The hat is about as plain as they come and, between the long hem and the gauge (6 sts/inch) it felt like it took forever to knit, so I really really hope it fits him. I have fit tested it on myself, but as more and more of my children outgrow me this seems to have less value. 
The mini-shawl in this dreadful picture is much prettier than it looks here. It is the class sample from the lace knitting class I took with Anne Hanson a few weeks ago. I looked at my next work deadline this morning and decided I could afford a hooky day. So I put on the rest of The Saturday Big Tent Wedding, which has been I languishing in my CD drive, and finished it up. It is about the right size for one of Isabel's American Girl dolls. They are honored guests now, rather than regular playthings, but I think they'll enjoy it just the same.  I was reluctant to use this yarn for the class because I love the colors in the skein and I didn't want to squander it on a bunch of samples. As it turned out, all three class samples used just under 30 grams of the skein, so there is still quite a bit to work with. And, I don't love it quite as much in the knitted project as I do in the skein. Go figure. 

Last up is still another substandard picture of the Hat for Matty. I did the crochet edging in orange, which I thought would be more fun than keeping it in the main color as called for in the pattern. This hat was on and off the needles in record time, at least compared to most of my projects, and the yarn--Berroco Ultra Alpaca-- softened up considerably after washing, pretty much losing all of its itch factor. 
You might think that all of this progress would inspire me to work on my Alpine Lace Shell, and you should, of course be right. Not only is it closer to completion than any of my other projects, but I really would like to finish it so I can move on to any of my other projects, since all of them right now seem more glamorous than the shell. I think the whole cotton yarn thing is getting in my way, though. The color (a bright peony pink) is great, but the yarn is a  bit of a battle to knit and I can't avoid feeling that every row is work. Still, I'm off to work on it for a few minutes before bed. I can just hear all those other projects calling to me. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Curses!!! Foiled Again!!




Double Drat!!!!!


Another year, another failure to complete NaBloPoMo.  Last year I dumped a cup of coffee on my laptop and was out of commission for the last week or so of November.  This year, I made it through the 26th, but yesterday defeated me. Ah well; there's always next year.

In the mean time, here is a picture of the almost finished hat for Matty.  Ends are woven in; I just have to crochet the edging and block the little bugger and we'll be all set.


I promise to take a better picture of it when it's done.

p.s. hey!! I just won $4 on a lottery ticket.  Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A New Low

Thanksgiving dinner went well.  I spent the day cooking and we ended up with turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, corn, fresh baked rolls, cranberry sauce, and apple crisp.  We had ice cream too, but I didn't make that.  

That was the last time I cooked.  Yesterday was a plain old pasta night and tonight was one of  the worst dining experiences we've ever scavenged from the kitchen, otherwise known as Scrounge Night.  

Tonight's menu, straight from the depths of the fridge:
1. Left over tofu stir fry which may or may not have withstood the test of time
2. Left over penne, warmed up and doused in ketchup
3. Rice, as prepared by Master Chef Emma, a recent graduate of Mom's Cooking School, served with  . . . nothing.    Just plain rice. Really.

And  for dessert:  

Mmmmmmm!! Doesn't that look good???? Grab a spoon and dig in! We'll be having  . . . let's see . . . skim milk . . . and hydrogenated vegetable oil . . . high fructose corn syrup . . . water . . . more corn syrup . . . light cream . . . and a supporting cast of minor chemicals and additives that I couldn't possibly take the time to write.  

Otherwise known as "Cool Whip."  But not just any Cool Whip.  Did you spot that special ingredient between "more corn syrup" and "a whole bunch of chemicals"?  Yes, we had the "Extra Creamy" Cool Whip, made with real cream.  And we could almost taste it in there too. 

On the up side, although none of this could possibly make up for tonight's abysmal dinner experience, Emma won her basketball game (the score was 38-13, or something silly like that) and then I took the rest of the kids to see El Husbando's first official hockey game of the season (they won too, 6-5, although they managed to keep us guessing until the end; thanks for all the excitement, guys).  

I also managed to squeeze half a hat's worth of  knitting, although that might have contributed to the dinner crisis here, since the hours I spent knitting were the same hours that normal people spent preparing and eating decent dinners.

Still, it's a very nice hat, and three hours of uninterrupted knitting is nothing to sneeze at.  Maybe tomorrow I'll go to the grocery store and find my children something to eat. If I'm not too busy finishing the hat.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In Which I am Unexpectedly Allowed to Hang Out Near My Daughter, Sort Of

To: All parents
From: The United Federation of Pre-Teen and Early Teen Girls, Local 22475
Date: November 25, 2005
Re: Close Range Protocols

Please be advised that, in honor of Black Friday, rules 46.5 and 46.8--governing the behavior of parents in the presence of a public gathering of three or more union members (herein after referred to as "the group")--will be temporarily suspended. Accordingly, for this one afternoon only, parents will be permitted to congregate within three (3) feet of the group. Parents wishing to so approach the group must come prepared with an offering of food (pizza, chocolate, etc.), drink, money, or approved brand name clothing and may not remain closer than 1.5 feet for longer than is reasonably required to deliver said offering. During the close range contact, parents will refrain from addressing any member of the group except upon express invitation (i.e., direct question or complaint from a member of the group) and must not make sustained eye contact with any offspring present in the group. The usual ban on lame jokes (rule 53.7 subpar.j) and public displays of affection (rule 21) will remain in effect at all times. Parents in good standing may, if necessary, speak to one another in the hearing of the group, but may not discuss any member of the group unless the content of the conversation meets the minimum praise content guidelines of rule 25.6.

Violation of these rules or any other deviation from the Public Embarrassment Standards (chapters 1, 3, 4 through 10 inclusive, and 15 of the Completely Arbitrary Rules of Engagement, Revised Edition) will result in a warning (eye-rolling, cold stare, or verbal complaint); repeat offenses will constitute grounds for the imposition of level two sanctions, which may include suspension of all conversational privileges and/or the application of sullenness and muttered commentary. Per standard procedures, no appeal of the sentence will be permitted.

Please remember that this is a one-time relaxation of the rules and such privileges should not be expected to recur. Standard public contact restrictions will resume at sunset; no prior warning will be given.

Enjoy your afternoon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things That Hurt

It's amazing that your heart can ache over the loss of someone you didn't even know that well, but that's the way it is here today.  The picture below is of Nathan at the party for his 8th birthday.

James, Nathan, and Matt, Fall 2010

He is with two of Alan's "hockey boys," which is what you are called in this house if you play ice hockey for my husband.  These two young men gave up their Saturday afternoon for their coach and his son. They put on big smiles and, for two and a half hours, kept half a dozen 8 year olds busy and happy (and safe) playing football, basketball, and silly soccer. They even thought to bring Nate a gift and, at the end of the afternoon, they flatly refused to take any payment for all their hard work.

They were fun and generous and thoughtful, and it was wonderful to watch them.  Afterwards they never failed to stop and say hi to me when I would see them at school, or a game, or their graduation parties.  Just the kind of person I want my sons to become.

This morning we got "the call."  James, who had stopped off at the rink to see my husband and the team yesterday, had been killed in a car accident later that night.   The sense of loss and wasted potential is overwhelming.  If this is what I feel for a kid I knew only a little, I can't begin to imagine what the grief is like for the people he belonged to the most.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hit By a Dull and Boring Ray

I cleaned out my linen closets today, which makes me just about the least exciting person on the planet.  I suppose I could have added to the fun by taking some of the ancient drugs that I found in there, but I wasn't sure where that would lead and I thought it might set a bad example for my kids. Really, there is nothing more that could possibly be written about refolding sheets, corralling errant band-aids, and deciding which of three dusty humidifiers to keep.

One almost-interesting thing I noticed is that my kids now have a collection of 50 nearly empty plastic shampoo and body wash containers that no one has bothered to rinse and recycle.  I wonder how long that will keep up for?

I also finished the fifth of six woven placemats, but the yarn I used is ecru and the finished placemat has already been wound to the under-side of the loom, so there's nothing to see there.

I think I also ate some vanilla yogurt and played solitaire on my computer.

I'm feeling really inspired by this recount of my day.  I think I'll go and rearrange my sock drawer. Or watch some paint dry.  Or read the phone book.

p.s. If you are still awake after reading about my day, here is a random picture of chickens to make up for it.  They look to me like they are about to perform a dance number.  I think they had more fun today than I did.


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Warped Plan for a Brown Afghan

A few months ago, apparently while I was under the influence of something very powerful, I bought this yarn online:

I was planning to use it to make a wonderfully textured triangular scarf, but as soon as I took the yarn out of its mailing envelope, I hated it. It contains at least three colors that, taken individually, I absolutely despise. Together, they are nothing short of poison to my eyes. I bought three more skeins last week.

The theory, as I keep telling myself, is that the yarn would make a hideously unwearable scarf for me, but it is the perfect collection of colors for my furniture. This idea did not originate in my head; it was the gift of someone in an online forum who suggested that the yarn might make a good pillow. I don't want any pillows, so I am going to make an afghan. Of course. Because the only thing better than a little putrid yarn is a whole heap of it. By my calculations, I still need another three skeins to complete the project.

The swatch for the project Is done and I cast on today. The good news is that the yarn feels wonderful to knit with and it's a little on the fat side, so the knitting goes fast. Plus, if you look at the overall project, the color scheme is reasonably good. The bad news is that I will have to learn to knit with my eyes closed, because I can't stop looking at those eye-wrenching shades of barf, booger, and orange mold.

I'm off to work on the project now. I hope it doesn't give me nightmares.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Poem

Roses are red
Violets are blue
NaBloPoMo is upon me
But I'm going to go do something else tonight, so there.

Hmmmmm . . . might need a little work.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Proposal for Peace and Harmony in Theaters Everywhere

So  I went to my daughter's show last night and I hear it was wonderful.  I would not personally know because for me, most of the show looked like this:

My daughter spent 97% of her stage time in roughly the same area of the stage.  Can you guess where that was?

We are headed back to the show again tonight (I feel it is my parental obligation to be there for the opening and closing shows, plus it's really cool to see my kid on stage, or so I imagine), so there is a reasonable possibility that I will see the whole show.  However, I feel it is my civic duty to renew my  proposal that seating at school plays and recitals be segregated by height range.  Just like the tall kids go in the back of the school pictures and the SUVs don't park in a sub-compact space, there should be special seating for really really tall people:  behind me.  In some districts, it might even be appropriate to extend this regulation to those of us with really really big hair.  I am open to suggestions in fine tuning this proposal.  After all, I am not a tyrant, just a person of average height who was not blessed with the x-ray vision otherwise required to deal with this problem.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Break a Leg!

It's show night!  My daughter is playing the evil stepmother in the school production of Cinderella.  We'll skip over the analysis of why she was chosen for the part.  She attributes it to her height (taller than her peers), her dark hair (very evil, right?) and her stellar acting abilities.  Her siblings had a different take on it.

But no matter.  The other thing this show marks is the end of a day that looked like this:

5:45--get up, work out
7--get boys ready for school
8--boys on bus, shower, get dressed, clean up house for cleaning lady
10--depart for errands
1:30--return from errands to house that has not been cleaned; scramble to put away groceries; put unidentified frozen entree into slow cooker and hope it turns into dinner
2:10--pick up child from school for orthodontist appointment
3:15-- return home to get boys off busses
3:50--leave to take child to travel softball tryouts 30 minutes away; stand in 40 degree weather for 45 minutes; drive home for 30 minutes
5:45--drive budding starlet to performance of the century
6:10--return to find three amazingly sweet children waiting with coats and shoes on to go to the performance of the century; explain that we still have 30 minutes before departure; cook noodles for mystery dinner; dump into bowls
6:40--depart for performance of the century, with camera and children.  Try to stay awake during firstborn child's theatrical debut.
9:00--take pictures; come home; SLEEEEEEEEP!

Wish me well!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get Out of My House!!!!

There is a  man in my house and I want him to leave.


 It is true that I invited him here and also that I am paying him for his time and that he is performing a very valuable service,* but while he is here and working, I feel like I should be working too.

So far, I have sorted the laundry, washed the dishes, and cleaned up the downstairs, which was starting to look like a badly maintained Lego museum.  The problem is that it is my day off and I had planned a Very Pleasant Morning of ignoring the housework in favor of knitting, weaving, and listening to Son of a Witch on audiobook.  I wasn't going to do any drudge work just yet.  I don't care that these tasks can be crossed off my list and won't have to be done later.  I feel cheated of my VPM and now I'm out of sorts.  It's the kind of thing that only a very large slice of leftover birthday cake can cure.  Fortunately, we had a birthday in the house yesterday and I know where the leftovers are.

In case you were wondering, I have this reaction anytime someone is in my house doing work.  This includes El Husbando who --judging from his ability to relax in front of the TV while I wash the dishes--does not suffer from this malady.  It is especially bad when Terry comes  to clean the house.  At least a repair-person is doing a job that I really should not be doing.  But the cleaning?  What kind of slacker am I?  So whenever Terry is here (every other week; I recommend that you time your visits to me accordingly), I make an extra effort to look busy, overworked, and aggravated.  Or I leave the house.  At least that way she can't see that I'm sitting on my duff enjoying a cup of coffee while she slaves away at my dirty work.

*Hey!  He's fixing the home gym; what did you think he was doing?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Very Important Day

See this guy:

He's nine years old today. I can remember being nine, so every time one of my kids reaches this age, I have my own private freak-out moment. I can't imagine how they could possibly have reached an age that I haven't forgotten. It hasn't gotten any easier with practice, and no other age seems to have this effect on me. I really don't know what to conclude from that and I'm much too tired to try and sort it all out now. In fact, I was so tired today that I took a nap in the car while I was waiting for the birthday boy's bus to come, even though I hate to take naps. I'm so tired right now that I can barely finish this sentence. Even the giant piece of birthday cake that I had at 9:30 tonight has no chance of keeping me awake. Good night.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I am determined to complete NaBloPoMo this year. Last year I failed, largely due to the fact that I poured a cup of coffee onto my laptop and fried it to bits so that I couldn't post. This year I hope I will have no such excuses. That being said, it is late, I am tired, and I have nothing to say. Plus, my littlest boy has just come in to snuggle for a bit, which makes it hard to type. He brought me one of his lesser stuffed animals, which he says I may keep for a really long time--probably a week or so. I'll be going now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

An Education

I have been to my lace knitting classes--my first ever group knitting classes--and I have taken many notes and knit a number of samples and learned a great deal, including that I don't like everybody. I want to like people, and I have visions of myself in some dream-like future where I have heaps of friends and can hardly go anywhere without stopping to have fascinating conversations with one of them. The truth, though, is that there are whole categories of people that I have no patience for and whole days when I have very little to say and that can make me a pretty crummy seat mate in a class.

Today was one of my quieter days and, to top it off, I was the last person to walk into the class room. The only seat left was next to a woman who, as far as I can tell, falls into the category of persons who love to hear themselves talk so they ask esoteric and poorly phrased questions directed at some minor and irrelevant point and then proceed to repeat the question louder and louder when the teacher can't seem to answer clearly. She had gotten on my nerves while flaunting her membership in this category yesterday. When I sat down next to her today, she launched into an explanation of how glad she was that someone was willing to sit next to her and how she didn't understand why everyone else was leaving the seat vacant since she had washed and changed her underwear (no lie--this really is how I started my day) and the only garment she hadn't changed was her jeans. At that point I cringed and scootched a little further away and resolved to focus on my knitting instead of making new friends. At the end of the class-- after I had spent nearly three hours listening to her natter away to her friends at the next table about her creative process and some amazingly labor intensive stitch marker system she had developed--she turned to me and said that she was sorry we didn't get to talk to each other more during the class. Really? What does one say to such a remark? Even in my socially inept state, I know I can't reply "no problem; I really don't feel like I missed out on much" or "when would you have found the time?". So I muttered something feeble about how I was concentrating on my class knitting project (shockingly, she hadn't managed to make much progress while she was talking) and I went back home where I knew I would like the people.

Next week I have another class and I will try again to like the people and broaden my social connections. I've stacked the odds in my favor, though: I signed up with a bunch of friends.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Brief and Wicked Epistolary Interlude

I love third grade. When I was in third grade, I had Mrs. Sullivan for a teacher. She was young and pretty and kind and sometimes she wore her hair in pigtails, so she was totally awesome. Now that I'm not in school any more, the reason I love third grade is that I get a letter every week. And (this is really the best part) I get to write back. The teacher keeps the letters and the parent responses and, at the end of the year, the whole collection is preserved in a three ring binder and sent home for us to keep forever. Does it get any better than this?

This week, I received the following letter:

In translation, it reads as follows:

Dear Mom and dad:

In library we learned how to use Microsoft Word it was so cool. I can't wait to use it. At lunch there was some weird stuff going on. There were also some funny things going on. In recess there were not a lot of things going on at that time. It was still fun though. In home room, Mr. M. was subbing at that time we were doing a hard work sheet. It was cool.



Like I said, I am supposed to write back. And so I did:

My Dear Nathan:

What a marvelously vague week you must have had! Although I was, as usual, delighted to hear about your activities, I hardly know what to think of the "weird stuff" at lunch, the "funny things" going on somewhere, and the "not a lot of things" going on at recess. Then again, I must congratulate you on your discretion in discussing your personal affairs. Most people these days are entirely too specific in discussing their personal lives and it is difficult to go anywhere in public without being forced to overhear the most embarrassing details of what someone did or said or whom they visited over the weekend. The art of circumspection is clearly being lost, although you, of course, practiced it quite skillfully in your letter. Enjoy your week. I look forward to not hearing about it in your next letter.



Just think: I get to do this EVERY week.

Oh, my poor children.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It turns out that it is too wearing for me even to watch half a dozen 8 and 9 year-olds (and two helpful high schoolers) play football and something called larish (a vile sounding name; it must be changed) for 2.5 hours.  I did clean up the house and make an ugly cake too, but that's not much of an excuse for my current level of exhaustion.

It's too late for me to care, though.  I'm going to retire to a comfortable chair with my long-neglected alpine lace shell and see if I can't finally work my way past the arm hole divide.

Tomorrow is my first lace workshop with Anne Hanson.  My bag is packed (with the exception of some dental floss-- I kid you not) and I used only yarn that I already had on hand, so yay me.

Off to relaxxxxxxxxyyyyyyyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Forrest Gump Kind of Day

Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running! --Forrest Gump

I have spent the entire day on the move.  I started off a little after 8 with a walk with Regular Deb, then moved straight on (after a brief pause for coffee) to teacher conferences, one at 9:40 and one at 11.  And then it was time to make a shopping list, do the grocery shopping, and wander around Target hunting for a bizarre assortment of items (laundry detergent ($5 gift card if I bought two, so I did), various undergarments for sundry children, more socks for me, thermal pants to keep me warm on outdoor walks, a new cordless phone for El Husbando's office, a back cover for my iPad to keep that freezy thing off my legs, a bunch of jammies and warm-up pants, and some party favors for Nate's Ultimate Sports Blowout Birthday Party tomorrow.  Oh, and the new Harry Potter movie for $13, because why stop spending now when I'm on such a roll?).  Then it was back home to put the perishables away and leave the house in time for a 5:00 teacher conference. The only break I got was that the 5:00 teacher conference had actually been cancelled due to illness, but I didn't know that until after I had flown out of the house (leaving half the groceries strewn around the kitchen), driven all the way to the school, and read the note on the door, so it doesn't really count.  Now I'm home and I might be a little tired, in the same way that Emma's legs might have been a little tired last Sunday after she played three games in a row, only more so.

My plan for the rest of the day night?  Sit on my butt with my hot chocolate and my knitting.  I have about an inch left on the second thumb (plus the ends, but we won't think about that right now, will we?) and there can be no excuse for not finishing these tonight.


I have quite a bit more than an inch left on this shell, but I've knit most of the boring stockinette part and I'm about two rows shy of dividing for the arms, at which point the project should become interesting again.


Other than that, I have absolutely no ambitions for tonight.   I suppose I might be convinced to make dinner for my family, but only if they are very nice to me.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'd Rather Be Knitting . . .

. . . But instead, I've been having a bad food day. For most of it, I was stalked by Girl Scout cookies.

Everywhere I went, they were there.

Calling to me.

Demanding to be eaten in obscene quantities.

I consider it proof of my great will power that I ate only three thin mints, one shortbread, and one fudge covered cookie.

It did help a bit that my personal cookie monsters polished off two of the boxes while I was out this afternoon.

When I wasn't busy fleeing from cookies, I was burning split pea soup. Not that that was my goal. I made a pot of it for lunch, but it needed to cook for a little longer, so I put it back on the stove. And then it was time for me to pick up Isabel for an orthodontist appointment.

So I left.

When I got back to the house three hours later, it had turned to a brown mush. Ew. I hope the chickens enjoy it. I wouldn't even think of eating it at this point.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Yarn Quandary

I've been in a tizzy this week. I'm supposed to take two lace classes with Anne Hanson this weekend, and now that I am finally collecting my supplies, I can't decide which yarn to bring. I'm supposed to bring 300 yards of fingering weight for each class. Clearly, we're not going to be knitting 300 yards in the course of a three hour class. But without knowing just what we will be knitting, I can't decide whether to commit to a really good yarn, in case I'll be starting an awesome project, or a mid-level yarn so that I can save the good yarn for some other project. Buying yarn for the class feels pretty dumb too, and just complicates the original question by adding a credit card charge and a heap of yarn over-spending guilt.

Woe is me; I'll just have to get by somehow.

In the mean time, here is a turtle.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Look: A Barn! And a Rant!! And a Game You Should Never, Ever Try!!!

 TaDa!!!!  This is where we started this morning:

They took off the wrong siding and put on the right siding

and some doors

and some more siding

and more

and more!!

They even put the last door on, but that was after dark, so I couldn't take a picture.

There are still two vital bits missing:  my loft door, which is on back order, and a chunk of plywood for the loft floor.  But, I HAVE A BARN!!!!! 

On this election day, I also have a bone to pick with several of our local candidates.  It happens every year.  There is one (maybe two) hotly contested race and the candidates, their campaign committees, and the  county and state parties decide that the best way to make me vote for their candidate (or against the other candidate, really, since they never have anything nice to say about each other) is to swamp my mailbox with campaign pieces.  Mostly the pieces are 10x12 glossy single page productions featuring unflattering photos of the "bad" candidate and wild claims that he/she is a career politician who will spend my tax dollars with wild abandon, ruin the educational prospects of my children, and probably run off with my wife to boot.  Occasionally, I'll get one covered with campaign platitudes and pictures showing how chummy the good candidate is with the appropriate public officials.  Aside from the insulting nature of the content, the magnitude of the waste makes me really angry.

I hate these things.

Unfortunately, I have been so far unable to come up with an effective plan to make people stop sending me such piles of junk.  I don't mind one or two, but these things have been rolling in at a rate of 3-5 per day most days of the week and if I had kept them all, I could have had a stack the size of a small phone book.  My first thought was that I should start a campaign of my own, in which I encourage people to save all of the political mailers that they receive, and on election day we could stuff them all back in the candidate's mailbox.  This plan was immediately stymied (at least for this year) by the fact that I had recycled a month's worth of them by the time I thought of it.  So I did the only thing I could:  I refused to vote today for any candidate who showed such a disregard for my time, my intelligence, and our natural resources.  Since I don't get to submit a note with my ballot explaining my choices, I know the impact of my abstention will be minimal.  But I don't care.  

To control my growing irritation, I wasted my afternoon playing a new game on my iPhone.  It is called welder (or something like that; it has a lot of periods in it) and it is a crazy combination of word search and word building that has 12 levels, and you don't win unless you complete all 12 levels.  So, of course, I kept playing.  And playing.  And playing. It was that addictive.  Take my word:  you must never, ever get this game. 

Last, here is a picture of some socks I made last year:

They look a little disheveled, don't they?  This is the first of my efforts to deal with the giant bag of socks-in-need-of-mending.  The socks failed after a few wearings, leading me to conclude that the yarn (100% wool, merino I think) was not a good choice for my feet and not worth mending.  But I loved knitting with it, so I spent part of yesterday afternoon ripping out the socks.  The resulting skein looked like a party.  The yarn was all zig-zaggy and cushiony and I almost didn't want to wash the kinks out.  But I really would enjoy knitting with this stuff again.

I would love to stay and write more, but my 5 year old escaped from the bath and is streaking around the house.  Must go.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barn? What Barn?

We had high hopes for this most Monday-ish morning. The workers would come back, they would finish the barn, and we could start moving stuff out there so that we could both park in the garage proper again.



When I walked the dog this morning, I looked at the back of the barn--the one wall that has been completed--and saw for the first time that the siding installed was white (or what passes for white in the world of barn siding) instead of red. So it's back to waiting for a little bit. The red siding panels have to be manufactured and then delivered and then we can have a barn instead of a giant open air pavilion.

In the meantime, I have overcome my blogging-via-iPad setbacks by installing Blogsy. I was afraid to use the program at first. When I was installing the app, I got a message asking me to confirm that I was over 17. This apparently was necessary due to "intense adult content" and I suffered from the brief and irrational fear that I might be randomly assaulted by unsavory photos while I was blogging. This has so far failed to happen, which I think is a good thing.

Off to get some sleep. I'm still one of he designated drivers for the cruel 6 a.m. softball practices and the early hour is beginning to take its toll.

Before I head off to dreamland, another travelogue teaser:

Aren't they handsome?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slacker Chickens, Busted Doorknobs, and a Surprising Statue

It turns out that my chickens don't respond well to threats. I mentioned casually in my last post that some additional layers might be welcome to combat the decline in our egg supply and what do you think those overgrown feather dusters did? They stopped laying completely. Even Red, who has been laying huge brown eggs on a daily basis, had nothing to offer this morning. They must really be mad. Who knew they could be so sensitive? I didn't even think they read the blog.

In other excitement, I fixed our broken doorknob. Well, not fixed, really; I replaced it. And the exciting part was not that I replaced it, but that I replaced it so promptly. Usually fix-it tasks need to marinate on my to-do list for a while before they are ready to be dealt with. Being locked out of my garage, however, is a special kind of crisis that required immediate attention. Compare this to the screen door that I bought last year and still haven't hung, or to the trim that has been stored under my living room sofa for the last four years, and you'll see why I'm so pleased with myself. I even took a picture of the new knob:

Very spiffy, no?

Last up for today is this:

I have no doubt that this is a dementor and my kids concur. The artist, however, is equally adamant that it is a metal representation of Moses, and that explains why it is currently on display at our Temple. Its presence might also explain why my kids find Sunday School to be cause for despair. Just to be safe, we don't like to get too close to it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Invisible Squash and Chickens on Strike

My little squash experiment failed. I set the squash on the table, invited everyone to try it, and they ignored it. I put a heap of it on my plate, ate it with gusto, encouraged them to do the same, and they ignored it. I chided them on their cowardice in all matters of squash, and they ignored me. It was masterfully done. No matter what I said or did, they carried on as if there were no such thing as squash. By the end of the meal, I was beginning to doubt it's existence myself. Nonetheless, I will persevere. This ignorance of squash cannot be allowed to continue.

More food related concerns: my chickens appear to be on strike. Over the summer, we were still collecting an average of five eggs a day. Now, an average day has one egg and I regret every dozen that I gave away.

Well, maybe not every dozen. But this does raise the possibility-- to the great joy of my children--that we will be adding to the flock again this spring.

Chickens, beware!

Friday, November 4, 2011

UFO in My Yard

An UnFinished Object, that is. It's the barn. I was so impressed with the way the construction crew worked from sunup to sundown yesterday that I just assumed they could smell both Friday and the end of the project coming and were working really hard to finish everything up in time for the weekend so that I could be happy. HA! That shows what I know. A friend of mine who works with builders all the time tactfully suggested that they needed to "divert the crew to a project that was weather dependent," which I suppose is reasonable, but I don't care for it one bit. I want my damn barn. Please.
On the up side, it was an entertaining mail day (aside from the campaign "literature," [litter-ature, perhaps? I think it deserves its own special word] which is a discussion for another day). I live for the mail. This is one of the hazards of staying home all day, and the contents of the mailbox can make or break my afternoon. The regular mail today was a bitter disappointment: one bill, one flex spending account letter, some junk mail, and the aforementioned campaign-related idiocy. Not a single magazine. Not even a catalog, which is inexplicable at this time of year. But, when I got up to the house, there were TWO packages waiting and that more than made up for the sorry contents of the mailbox. One package was an end table for the family room. This counts as a double bonus when I rate the mail because I get to have the new furniture and the fun of putting it together. I'm saving this particular pleasure for the weekend: a little tonic to balance the negative effect of the five basketball games that we have in store.
The other package had clothes for me. I love mail order clothing. First you get to buy clothes without having to drive to the mall and wait in lines and be confused by the over-abundance of merchandise. Then, on a totally different day--usually just about the time you've stopped expecting anything--you come home and find a package waiting for you, which is almost like getting a present. Plus, most of the stuff I order is for me, which makes it even better. Today my package contained a chocolate brown zip front hooded sweatshirt, a blue heavyweight fleece jacket to replace the pumpkin orange pullover that I bought when I was pregnant and tended to buy everything five sizes too big, and a new winter coat to replace the one the dog ate last year. The coat is very warm, and I can't say enough good things about having a jacket with two sleeves.
The wealth of packages today brought the anticipated lift to my mood. B.P. (before package) I had been suffering the ill effects of spending way too much time in the elementary school cafeteria with a pack of third grade boys. Not my own third grade boy, of course; he was a perfect angel as always, but he eats with an unruly crowd. But a.p., I was so filled with light and energy that I decided to include some experimental roasted squash with dinner. Squash is always a gamble in my house, but I'm feeling lucky today. On the other hand, Mark Bittman promised me that it was almost impossible to roast the squash too much and --looking now at my very brown buttercup squash--I'm not entirely sure he was being truthful. In any event, I was also inspired to make brownies for dessert, so even if the squash is pure poison, I'll probably be forgiven.
Unaware of the burnt squash that is headed their way, my family is demanding their dinner. I hate to put up a post without pictures, though. Consider this one a down payment on a future post.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

And that's not all . . .

They built more stuff today.  Again, they showed up before the sun did, and I learned that the work in the dark is always done at the same corner.  The yellow truck pulls up the driveway and shines its lights at the far wall of the barn and they get to work.  I've been able to see the headlights from the house all three mornings this week, which means that they are making no effort to distribute their darkness-induced mistakes evenly.  I'm not sure how I feel about this. At least it's the spot that I can't see, though.

Today's order of business: the roof.

I was careful not to watch too much of the part where people were standing on the actual roof.  If I look too long at the chicken coop, I still have flashbacks to the feeling of pure terror I had every time I tried to scramble from the van onto the roof to do the shingles.  Let's not even talk about what it took to get me down afterwards. I'm pleased to see, though, that others have adopted my brilliant innovation of using the nearest handy vehicle as a scaffold.

This, though, is my favorite part.  See that man suspended in the upper half of my mini-barn?  He is standing on the new floor of THE LOFT.

Now he's reading some building instructions.

But there he is, IN THE LOFT.  I can't say this often enough.  THE LOFT.  MY LOFT.  This is the closest I've ever come to having an attic.  When I was younger, I thought that an attic would be the coolest place EVER to live.  My best friend had her bedroom in the attic and she had pointy ceilings and funky nooks and crannies and it was the best.  I always wanted one, but we had a thoroughly unromantic crawl space instead.  And now, I almost have one.

Here is the other really cool feature:  they have framed the upper doorway.  The one that at some point might have a functional pulley so that we can haul things up to THE LOFT.  We had a barn at our first house, even though it was on a tiny little lot in the village, and that barn also had a loft and a little loft door and a pulley.  But we never got past the stage of thinking of it as a future hideout for our kids, and we moved before they got old enough to use it anyway.  And now, we have one again.

On the fiber front, knitting has been painfully slow.  I'm in a never ending stockinette slump and if there has been any progress, I haven't been able to measure it.  It's like I'm knitting a tapeworm instead of a shirt.  I keep putting more and more stitches in, but it seems to have no effect.

As a colorful alternative, I have some spinning progress to show.  I wish I could take credit for having done all of this recently, but the first two were spun and plied over the summer and it is entirely possible that I have posted pictures of them already.  But, that would have been before I got my new camera and a well lit bay window to use as a photo studio, so even if you've seen the yarn, this is a greatly improved picture of it.  And the first one has part of a cat butt in it, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.*

The next two were done this fall.  One of the great advantages of working from home is pretending that I commute. Instead of driving, though, I take half an hour (or so) and listen to an audiobook while I'm spinning or weaving.  Rarely knitting, because that always feels to me like something I shouldn't do until after my work is done.  And I never "commute" home from work, although sometimes I take long enough in the morning that its just like I've gone out and back.

this one will be done in a couple more days.  I'm not normally an orange/yellow person,
but I am madly in love with this color.

All of the fiber was from Spinner's Hill, which has fabulous colors, nice wool (and blends) and great prices (I'm not kidding about that last part:  one of the reasons that I buy so little fiber at festivals is that I'm spoiled by this stuff). I'm thinking that the berry and the gold together would make a great Catkin.

Pizza just walked in the door, courtesy of El Husbando.  Time to go!

*I take that back.  The cat just barfed on my office floor.  I'm no longer convinced of her merits.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day Two: The Construction Continues

photo.JPG by caralynross
photo.JPG, a photo by caralynross on Flickr.

Boo-hiss! I wrote a post that had all four pictures of today's progress, but my iPad doeasn't play nicely with Blogger. Or vice versa. Today there was a lot more hammering and a lot less Purple Potty usage. It looks like we're ready for a roof and some siding, which should make tomorrow a great photo day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In which I am Enlightened

All has been revealed to me.   The prophecy was not "if you build it, they will come."  It turns out  that our prophecy was "if they come, they will build it, and make liberal use of the porta-potty and sometimes the bushes while they are here."  Go figure.

This morning, before the sun was even fully above the horizon, this truck showed up.  It was carrying a number of construction workers, complete with hard-hats, several of whom got out and made immediate use of the Purple Porta Potty.  

Having established their everlasting dominion over the PPP, they got to work digging holes

and adding poles

and now the Purple Porta Potty Zone looks like this:

Or really like this, because the other picture was taken before lunch.

That guy in the red shirt?  He must have a thing about Purple Porta Potties.  I swear I saw him stalled at the bushes for longer than would normally be required to stop and smell the flowers, and then he needed to adjust his pants and fix his shirt.

I really hope he gets over his issues by tomorrow.

The Halloween issue was solved with a small amount of creativity and a lot of styling gel.  As promised, Matty dressed in his clone costume (yay, Star Wars.  I think.).  Nate cobbled together a marginally army-ish outfit with the loan of a pair of army green pants from his sister and the timely purchase of some junky plastic toy paraphernalia. Happy as I am that his costume worked, I am sorely tempted to collect all the new bits of junk and chuck them in the garbage. I may have issues.  

Isabel decided on the way to her violin lesson that she wanted to be a zombie and that this would require hair gel. Not much of a problem, except that on Mondays she goes from violin to basketball and doesn't get back until after 6:30.  As much as I thought I had secured the Extreme Halloween Procrastination award last year (when we pulled Isa's costume together sometime after 6), last night I outdid myself in stunning fashion.  Isa walked in at 6:40; we all sat down for dinner (a huge improvement over last year, when we thought there would be plenty of time to eat when we got back . . . at 8:45 p.m. HA!) and at 7:15 we started putting costumes on, discovering in the process that really Isabel was dressing up as "an evil scientist zombie dude."  

Can't you tell from her hair?

 So it wasn't until 7:30 that we got into the car to drive to our trick-or-treat spot. The up-side of this is that we didn't have to spend forever collecting candy because half of the people in the neighborhood had already run out by the time we got there.  The down-side: not as much candy.   Except for Emma, the ultimate Halloween scam artist.  She and her friends started off nice and early in a nearby neighborhood, then were driven to the same neighborhood in the village that we went to.  They were well into their village rounds before we even left the house.  She came back with a HeapOCandy.  If any of the other kids did this, I might object.  But Emma likes M&Ms, plain chocolate bars, and Mike & Ikes.  The rest?  She gave it to us.  Although she did ask for some of it back so she could give it to a friend who hadn't gotten quite enough of the candy that she liked. As if!

I absolutely can't write any more right now.  I've joined NaBloPoMo again (dummy!) and I still need 29 more days of material.  Ideas are welcome.