Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Here is to:

--fresh starts
--new dreams
--big plans
--constant modification of big plans
--achievement of smaller plans
--friends and loved ones
--sunny days
--new experiences and unexpected pleasures
--a good future for our children

Happy and Healthy New Year, from our house to yours!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Day In Bad Phone Pics

Well, not really a full day.  First, I got up and took care of the animals and there isn't much to photograph there, even if I do love looking at my chickens in the morning.  Then, I took a very leisurely walk on the treadmill, which would make a very boring photo.  Then, I rushed around the house trying to get Isa and Nate and Me ready to go, and I was moving much too fast for any pictures.  Then we took Isa to the orthodontist, and no one wants a picture of the inside of another person's mouth, so that was out.  Then we went to get my contacts where we sat in the waiting room and played with the iPhone, so I couldn't use it to take pictures and then the doctor had a little look at my eyes and it was too dark for pictures, plus who want a close up of my eyeball.  Then we rushed off to the stables and that's where I took a whole bunch of pictures.  All of them were bad, but here they are anyway:

This is Liz, the world's friendliest dog, except that if you start petting her, you are never allowed to stop.  She likes to carry things in her mouth, probably because she's a retriever and they do that.  Today's prize was a brush.

Right here is the reason for all of the pictures:  Mr. Nate is having his first riding lesson.

He started by practicing some walking.

And some more walking.

Now he's on the horse.

Aaaaaand we're walking again.

Still walking.

Walking towards Mommy.

And smiling because this is about the most awesome thing he can think of.

Now we're walking on our own, with Sarah calling instructions from her usual spot at the center of the ring.  
Afterwards we did a whole bunch of other boring stuff, like cleaning up the house and getting ready to go out again because Isabel had two basketball games tonight. In between games we scrambled to buy some dinner and a chocolate cake, and it's boring details like this that remind me why I don't usually feature my day in photos.  But it hardly matters, because my kid is still smiling from his riding lesson.  And the other best part?  His big sis and most-of-the-time best friend Isabel thought it was great too.  She is busy hatching all sorts of plans for their future together as equestrians.   If only I could capture that in a picture too.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Go Away. Please.

Ha.  I am writing this post only because, on the 29th of December, it would be a tragic shame to forget to post and blow another month of NaBloPoMoFoGoNoMo.

Don't expect much from me, though.  I have spent the day finishing up a work project (which was supposed to be done last Thursday so that I could take advantage of the school vacation to actually spend time with my children, although all they want to do anyway is watch TV, so what's the difference) and have spent the evening paying bills and I'm grouchy.  I did manage to whip up an outstanding Potato, Cheese, and Chile (or is it Chili?  I can't remember, but Chili is the name of a local town and I feel stupid putting it in my soup) soup.

Oops, I just remembered that I still haven't put the rest of the soup away for tomorrow.

And there's still wet laundry in the machine.

And I have a pile of shredding to do.

And I haven't made the shopping list yet, although I don't actually have time to go shopping tomorrow, so that's not such a big deal.

And a small child has escaped from his bed and vows that he will not go back upstairs without me because of the zombies.  I'm not sure if this refers to his sleeping siblings snoring away in their beds or something he saw on TV.

Ha.  I guess I had better get going.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Killer Microwave

Here's a picture of the new microwave:


Looks like a nice, friendly little microwave, doesn't it?

That's what I thought, too.  Until I flipped through the instructions and found this:

Do you see what it says there, right in the middle?

"You will be killed or seriously injured if you do not follow instructions immediately."

What kind of a world is this where our small kitchen appliances have the license to threaten us in this manner?

My shiny new microwave looks cold and sinister to me now.  I would like to take it back, but I'm afraid of making it angry. Instead, I'm going to read the instruction book very thoroughly, in all three languages, and do my best to help the microwave understand that I come in peace and there's no need to take this tone with me.

But I'm still afraid.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am working today, and I am so bored that I think my head might explode. The cat keeps sitting on the lap top too, and when she's not doing that, she walks on the keyboard and adds things to what I've written.  This is not helpful feline behavior, but she doesn't care because she's a cat and she knows that it is very wrong of me to do anything except feed and pet her. If I get mad at her, she gets very offended and she stalks to the edge of my desk where she starts pushing the pencils off. Then she sits on whatever piece of paper I need most and stares straight at me, daring me to do something about it. I try to ignore her, but then she starts sitting on the laptop again and it's time to repeat the whole cycle.  Maybe I shouldn't keep the kitty treats on my desk.

Monday, December 26, 2011

An Appliance Situation

The microwave conked out today. We are outraged because the stupid thing is only seven years old, but we're also bereft, in a food related way. We noticed the problem when three of us lined up to warm up left overs for lunch. I put my lunch in and when the timer went off, Isa put her stuff in and took mine out and when Isa's timer went off, Emma put her stuff in.   Then Isa complained because her food was cold. So Emma took her food out and Isa put her food in again, but now Emma's food was cold. So we took Isa's food out and it was still cold and my lunch was cold too, and it stayed cold even after three trips through the microwave.   Then El Husbando tried to warm up the food because clearly we  needed a Man to operate the  appliance for us, but even that did not work  It was a dark moment. For starters, we were all hungry. Then-- probably because we were distressed and not because we have become inept through over-dependence on the microwave or anything lame like that--it took a few minutes for us to remember that we  have other ways to warm left overs, like the stove. We made do with the stove for today, but tomorrow we'll be braving  the post-Christmas mall traffic as we hunt for a new microwave, because we really are that desperate. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Mystique

I would like to tell you that we had a quiet and lovely Christmas day here, and I wouldn't be completely lying.  But there is no denying that there is a little frisson of tension in our house on Christmas.  While we might  choose to spend an occasional Sunday at home doing not much of anything, on Christmas we do it because we have no choice.  Nothing is open, almost all of our friends are busy, and the inescapable sense of confinement freaks us out.  It feels to us like the rest of the world suddenly isn't there, and we start to act like the normal rules don't apply.

The first rule that went today was the TV rule.  Normally I fight my kids' TV habits with the tenacity of a pit bull.  Today, Isabel and I sat down at 10 a.m. and made a conscious decision to watch as much Phineas and Ferb as we could take.  Five hours, 14 episodes, and 8 inches of sweater later, we took a break because Isabel the Obstinate finally conceded that she might have had enough.  Fifteen minutes later, Emma claimed the remote and Isabel retreated upstairs where, it was later reported, she spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV in my bedroom.

The next rule to go was the food rule.  I prefer for my children to eat three meals a day, starting with breakfast at a decent hour in the morning.  Most of us managed to eat breakfast, but Isabel had hers at 11 a.m., and Matthew, who is indifferent to all foods except pizza, hot dogs, and berries, decided that breakfast was a sissy meal and went straight to his power lunch: hot dogs at noon.  This may have been his way of protesting that I wouldn't let him decorate and eat yesterday's gingerbread cookies at 9 a.m., but I can't be sure because, much as I hate to admit it, this might not be the first time we've forgotten to feed him breakfast.

 In addition to the number of meals per person per day, I have certain steadfast beliefs as to the nature and quantity of food to be eaten.  Generally, this means that you should eat a whole lot more real food than snack food.  Except on Christmas, when we all act as if snacks are the staff of life and when I will willingly mix up three batches of icing for decorating cookies and make Emma a layer cake--with frosting--just because she feels like eating something chocolatey.  I had enough parental pride to require that she help me with the cake, but this was an all out bust. First, she poured the oil directly onto the counter instead of into  the measuring cup, then she collapsed on the floor in despair over her ineptitude, and finally,  just as I was getting the camera ready for a good blog picture, she fled the kitchen, claiming that I was cruel and unusual, which is true. Whatever nutritional principles El Husbando may possess are also suspended on Christmas (and on other holidays and, now that I think about it, any time we fail to monitor him closely enough) and especially when confronted with children in distress, so to promote Emma's recovery from her dramatic culinary breakdown, he took her out to the nearest gas station convenience store and let her choose the emergency provisions, which amounted to one bag of Doritos, one bag of pretzels, two boxes of Mike and Ikes, and a Win For Life lottery ticket.  The food, so called, is all gone, but the lottery ticket was worth $4, so that was kind of nice.

Apparently, the other rule that goes right out the window is the bedtime rule.  I like to believe that there should be a bedtime, for me if for no one else.  But when my die hard night owl (that would be Isabel the Obstinate, in case you were wondering) wanders in while I'm typing and demands--mid-yawn-- to know why everyone is still awake and whether we're going to go to up soon, I know that I've failed to maintain my standards on that count too.  Not that it matters much during vacation; most of them are camped on my floor at night and we all seem to go to sleep at the same time.

The one thing that we did not let slip today was the Chanukah candles.  Then again, we just lit them and it's 10:00, so maybe I can't claim success there either.

Oh well.  I'm going to go to bed and dream of a better tomorrow.  Wish me strength for Leap Day, which is another one of those mystical days in my calendar.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Makeover and a Day Off

After 15 years of glasses, I finally got contact lenses again yesterday. The nice people at the eye store gave me sunglasses for free and I spent the rest of the day pretending that I was cool by putting the sunglasses on top of my head every time I stopped driving and went into a store, which was  often. I'm sure that it worked and my sense of style must be the talk of the town by now. 

After so much awesomeness and shopping yesterday, I needed a break today. I slept in (for real; I didn't even think about getting out of bed until nearly 8 this morning) and spent a chunk of the morning working on my sweater.  Then I started the laundry and whipped up a batch of gingerbread cookie dough with Matty. There was no room in the inn fridge, so we had to chill the dough outside; free range refrigerating is one of the most overlooked benefits of winter.  We took the dog and some of the more energetic children out for a little walk, and then went out for a movie and some Chinese food, which is what all good Jews do with Christmas. The meal was good, even if the children did not exhibit their best public behavior (I'm sure I taught them all about using forks; why can't they remember?), but The Muppets did not live up to the fine tradition of the earlier Muppet movies.  I can't decide whether I'm sorry that we wasted our movie gift card on it or relieved that at least we didn't have to pay full price not to be entertained. 

That will have to be enough for now. I'm so tired I can't even think how to close this post. Good night!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

I saw Santa today. I know it was him because he was very fat and he had on his famous red jacket with white furry trim and a matching hat. He was driving down the street on a  motorcycle. The motorcycle had a sidecar and I'm pretty sure that there was a stuffed teddy bear riding shotgun perched on a sack full of goodies.  It was enough to make anyone doubt her sanity, and so I'm going to get some sleep and hope that in the morning, I've forgotten all abut it. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Hello, blog.

I'm ignoring you today.

Let's try again tomorrow.

Very Truly Yours,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Surprises in the Education of My Child

I thought that the school district couldn't surprise me any more, but then Isabel told me she thought she might have failed her written volleyball exam.


I accused her of fabricating, but she pointed out that she could not possibly have dreamed up anything as dull as a written volleyball exam and I was convinced.   Apparently she also had to take a written exam on  . . . get this . . . running.

I had assumed that gym  sorry, P.E., was the ultimate opportunity to escape the paperwork, learn by doing, and blow off a little extra energy, but I am now given to understand that mine is a hopelessly twentieth century attitude. There is a great deal of information to be covered in gym sorry again, P.E., these days and apparently a few pop quizzes are just the thing to make sure that everyone is up to speed on the date that volleyball was discovered and the rules of play.  It must not be all paperwork, though, because my kids all love the class.  And dodgeball, teacher sanctioned bullying that it was, is also passe.  It has been replaced with Yoga and the world is a much happier place.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No Time . . .

Happy birthday to my sweet husband!  I have been busy all day with birthday plans and preparations, so I have nothing to say.  Here are some  pictures to take the place of saying something.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Nerve!!

I am reading a book.  This is not surprising.  I am almost always in the middle of a book.  In fact, there are several books that I have been in the middle of for some years now, so it would be much more incredible if I were to suddenly claim that I have nothing to read.

This particular book, The Greater Journey, by David McCullough, is exactly the kind of book that I might find myself in the middle of for a good decade.  I am a dedicated fiction reader with no hope of cultivating the intellectual fortitude to read history books.  I buy them, of course, but mostly I use them to make my bookshelves look smart.  But I'm actually reading this one. And it was while I was reading page 69 this morning (I'm now on page 102--see? I really am reading it) that I came across something that made my blood boil:

Can you see it?  Some boneheaded Philistine prior reader "fixed" the word 'her' so that it would read 'his.' Not even a margin note questioning the accuracy of the word, but an actual change to the text.  How very thoughtful.

Did I mention that this is a library book?

Aha!  Now you see.  It is an outrage perpetrated against public property!! I am incensed, as-- I'm sure you'll agree-- any right thinking person should be.  Not only did this vandal adjust the text of a book he does not own in ink, the stupid bugger got it wrong, which becomes more apparent if you actually turn the page and continue reading before you start editing library books.

I am at a loss for a suitable punishment, although the suspension of borrowing privileges for conduct unbecoming a library patron would be a good start.  Maybe that should be coupled with a "wanted" poster at the circulation desk, just like the FBI posters you see at the post office, warning people not to let this person borrow their books. Or, and I'm just brainstorming here, an elite team of special library operatives could sneak into his house, open up his books, and randomly change words here and there.  They might even move a few of his bookmarks for good measure.  HA!

In any case, I'm going to keep reading and I'll keep my eye out for other transgressions.  Maybe I'll even find the clue that leads to the capture of this criminal.  Then I'll be famous for saving the entire library collection from further defacement by this good-for-nothing.   Who knew history books could be so exciting?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Inventions You Just Wish You'd Thought Of

Matty is very busy inventing lately. The first item on his long standing  List of Things To Invent is the machine that will let everyone stay exactly the age they are right now and will also bring back a few of the people we wanted to keep. Next up is the machine that will make everyone stop fighting wars. It seems to work on a combination of principles relating to the inescapable superiority of the army Matty will create to go with it (he's working on a cloning device in his spare time) and his undeniable rightness of thought, which all concerned must yield to. There might be something wrong with his plan, but I can't quite put my finger on it. 

Today's brainstorm was the infinity dollar bill. Whenever you want to buy something, you just hand the cashier the bill, and then  he/she hands it back, because

 Tim. Mm  

[sorry, the cat walked on the iPad and wrote that with her feet; I have no idea where she learned to spell]. 

Anyway, getting back to the discussion at hand, to pay for your goods, you give the cashier the infinity dollar bill, and in order to give you change from infinity dollars, the cashier has to give you back the infinity dollar bill.  It's brilliant! Matty's initial purchasing plan includes all the biggest Lego sets and the entire book store, including the cash register, which he would like to take home with him.  He's not selfish, though.  He plans to print ten of these bills and share them with friends and family, and I'm pretty sure he said I could have one. 

I have to go now. This kind of spending is going to take a lot of planning.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Third Time's a Charm, And All That

Well, would you look at that.  Here is my beautiful Cinnamon Girl Smooshy yarn all worked up into a scarf/shawl kind of thing.  I started this project 10 days ago and now I'm done.  Ten days might not seem like a speedy knit for those used to whipping out one project after another, but this yarn has had needles stuck in it since September of 2010, and in comparison, ten days is a mere blink of the eye.

The first time I tried to knit it, it looked like this:

The beginnings of an oscilloscope shawl.

I loved the pattern, but the yarn substitution was doomed because I had only one skein and it would have taken two to knit anything larger than a glorified handkerchief.

The second time, I got about as far into a different pattern, then abandoned it in favor of less repetititititive projects and then immediately messed up the pattern when I finally got back to it.

I took the hint and found a whole new pattern, Annis, which evidently was the right one, notwithstanding the nupps which caused me to put dents in my needles.  Here it is, fresh from its bath and stretched out to dry an all its mildly asymmetrical and poorly photographed glory.

I was too lazy to get the good camera; I'll try for a better photo when it's dry.

I'm off to resuscitate another neglected project while watching plenty of TV.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Brownies, Earned the Hard Way

MMMMMMMMM . . . Brownies!  Can't you just smell them?  Probably not.  It's one of the greatest shortcomings of modern electronics, this ongoing inability to transmit the smell of freshly baked brownies from my kitchen to yours.  Think how great an improvement it would be if you could email a friend some essence of brownie, or parfum de freshly brewed coffee in the morning.  I suppose the source of the holdup  is  social responsibility, not technological shortcomings.  Considering the potential for abuse (spam scented spam?  email stinkbombs for people you're really mad at?), no self-respecting scientist wants to offer up a technology that could be used to create such misery.  Imagine if an entire office full of people opened  expressively scented hate-e-mail all at once.  Dreadful.

But this is not important.  What counts here is that I have a pan full of just baked brownies in my kitchen and I deserve them.  I like to pretend that since we don't celebrate Christmas, I am free every year to sit back and enjoy the music and lights and  cookies and all that festive spirit without having to pay the price of the retail nightmares that flourish at the same time.  But I'm only kidding myself.  Sometime in December it dawns on me that I have to provide for Chanukah gifts for my kids and nephews, holiday "thank you for all you do" gifts for teachers, bus drivers, letter carriers, etc., and --here's the one that causes all the stress-- a birthday present for El Husbando that will do at least some justice to the man who spoils me so shamelessly on my birthday.  Not that it's a competition, of course, but I can't fall too far behind.  I get some of the work done online, but this year, the bulk of it came down to one massive day of erranding.

That day was today.

And it is Friday, which means grocery shopping too, although this is much less of a time commitment now that all of the kids are in school instead of in the store begging for food and drinks and snacks and potty breaks.

So I'm tired and my credit card is still steaming a little from all the swiping today. My head aches  too, though not as much as it did when I was in the book store trying to sort out presents for  a dozen people and probably looked as befuddled as if I had wandered in from another planet.  And  there are still a few gifts left to buy, including one for a child who has inherited his father's "impossible to shop for" gene and whose spot on the to do list still looks like this: ?????

But I have brownies.  And it was a spectacular mail day, marked by the arrival of both a knitting book (yay, alibris!!! I love buying used books) and my order of weaving stuff (4 weird colors of 8/2 cotton for more towels and three issues of Weaver's Craft so I know how to make those weird towels). It is also possible that I treated myself to a new book (Out of Oz, hardcover edition because it's a new release and I can't get it in soft cover or used yet--how decadent!).  It's equally possible that I further pampered myself with a wireless keyboard for my iPad, which might also keep El Husbando from giving me the evil eye while I'm clicking away on the iPad itself.  I'm not sure which he hates more, the noise that my fingers make on the screen or the clicking that the screen makes when turn on the sound to cover the noise of my fingers.  Either way, I think the problem has been solved, and I look forward to using a keyboard that can input all of the letters I use, unlike the iPad which--much as I adore it-- is stuck at about an 85% success rate.

Did I mention the brownies?  I'm going to go have some (more) and see if they make my head stop buzzing. Then maybe I'll make some dinner and definitely I'll do some knitting and I'm going to try very hard not to buy anything else because I'm afraid the credit card company is going to call and ask for an explanation.

Right.  Brownies.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Ultimate Test

1. Tomorrow is the cleaner's regularly scheduled day to clean here. 

2. My house is picked up, dishes are done, laundry has been washed, folded, and sorted by its intended wearer and the check has been written and left in a conspicuous location.  In short, I am as ready as I can be. 

3.  The cleaner has even called to say that she will be here tomorrow, and was so bold as to leave an estimated time of arrival (which, unfortunately, is several days before the anticipated arrival of the holiday gift I had planned for her).

Given all of the above, and giving proper consideration to the House Cleaner Principle--which states that the readier I am, the more likely she is to bail-- what are the odds that she will actually show up tomorrow and clean the house?

p.s. shouldn't there be a better name for this job than cleaner?  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Grand Occasion That Shall Be Remembered Forever

Let us commemorate this singular event.  Remember where you were and what you were doing the very moment you heard the news:  Today, I have nothing to say.

Although, I am wondering if anyone else ever goes to the fridge for lunch and finds that this is all that's left of the tuna fish:


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Random Pictures

It's a little busy here: volunteering in Nate's classroom this morning, work (with just a little Angry Birds mixed in for fun) for the rest of the day, a freshman basketball game this afternoon, and a sixth grade band concert tonight.  I'm not entirely sure where dinner fits in to this day, but at least I can offer some truly random pictures to take care of my blog post.

This is what Isabel does in her spare time:

Giant Stack-O-Dreidels;  how many can you pile up?

This is what Sophie does in her spare time


unless I make the mistake of putting my feet up


This is what Matty does while I'm gardening:

Snail Races.

Sometimes the snails need a little assistance.


And this is just a little picture of Spring to help carry us through the Winter.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Question of the Day

Isn't there anyone in this family who can turn their undies right side out before pitching them in the laundry?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Confession

I like to think that I am a reasonably intelligent person, but you wouldn't know it lately because I keep gathering the egg from the coop in the morning and sticking it in my jacket pocket.  Then I go inside to finish doing one menial task or another and I accidentally smash the egg when I lean against the counter because I am apparently incapable of remembering that I put it in my pocket three minutes earlier.  My coats are now very clean because I have washed them several times just this fall.  Thank goodness the egg production is low right now.

Other than smashing the egg (again), my Sunday was much more productive than usual.  We took advantage of this bizarre non-December-like weather to put all of the lawn furniture away inside the barn and to move the extra stuff out of the garage (and into the barn!) so El Husbando can park inside again.  I also baked 9 dozen cookies for the hockey team and blueberry muffins for my kids and I'm just about up to date on everyone's homework.  This is all really too much for me, so I'm going to park myself in front of the TV and see if I can't waste the rest of my evening.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just in Case I Was Worried

Matty reassured me today that he wasn't planning on "getting" any children.  Instead he will stay with us forever.  Out of curiosity, I asked whether he would be sleeping in his own room by the time he was grown and he assured me that he would, except that his room would be bigger by then because he would be  grown up. And if he did happen to get any children, he would put them in little tiny rooms just like his.  Stinker.

Nathan never questioned whether he would have children.  His only question was which room his wife should have after they moved in with us.  

I'm off now to work on my new Annis shawl/scarf thing.  I was all set to exclaim over the soothing nature of the project and then I got to row 10, in which I found out that my nupps are not quite as loose as they should be if I intend to get them the ^%$$ off my knitting needle. I have also discovered that foul language does not make them behave any better.  Ah well.  Off to do battle.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Of Ads and Eggs

I found this while I was going through the ads last night:

I think  the guy on the right is meant to be a stomach, evidently one in a great deal of distress.  I'm not sure why it is wearing shoes.  Or has hair.  Is  there anything about this ad that makes you want to buy the product?  Maybe I'm an old fart (there's no doubt about that, really--my daughter tells me all the time) and everyone else thinks that graphically illustrated gastrointestinal output humor is all the rage, but I can only believe that some bored advertising guy dreamed this up as a joke and then didn't know how to take it back when the client--maybe a disgruntled representative of the client bent on revenge-- said "That's the one for us!  Print a bazillion copies and distribute it everyone in America.  Hey, you know what?  Let's put it in the Sunday paper and see how many people find it while they're eating brunch!!"

I like this one a whole lot better:

I'm thinking that these would be fun to make, if a bit gruesome to eat with their cute little mustard faces and tiny pastry turbans.  Unfortunately, any reference to pigs in blankets brings back grievous memories from my wedding, where all of the mini hots in pastry were sucked down by a marauding troupe of high school hockey players* before we could get our newly married mitts on them.  I don't think I've eaten one since.

All the coupon hunting was performed in preparation for this week's trip to the grocery store. The trip was momentous only because it was the first time I've had to buy eggs in two years, and I'm so used to bypassing the eggs--all the while exuding superiority because I have my own chickens who give me eggs--that I bypassed them today too, even though they were were written on my list in HUGE LETTERS.

I don't have the heart to use them, though.  To me they are the Eggs of Shame and Failure.  I'm going to have to take them outside and accost my lazy, good-for-nothing chickens with them, while muttering things like "why can't you be more like these chickens?"  and "I give you food and shelter and tempting bits of leftover salad and broccoli, and what do you give me? Nothing!"  

Maybe the girls are not lay-abouts, but are suffering from low morale.  Maybe I should hang posters of eggs with smiley faces painted on them and pipe uplifting music in to the coop.  And then I could sneak in overnight and put a few extra eggs in the nesting boxes and pretend to be surprised by them in the morning and praise the chickens for their productivity.

Or maybe it's just time to start thinking about ordering some new chicks for the spring.

I know the cats would like that:


p.s. This is just in case anyone needed a good giggle today:


*Admittedly, we invited them, since they were El Husbando's team, but were were totally unprepared for their speed and agility in matters relating to hors d'oeuvres. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lots of Fun, and Yarn too!

A few weeks ago I was whiny because I had gone to a pair of advanced knitting classes and discovered that I didn't like everybody, and that I really didn't like being stuck in a class where everybody I don't like blithers on and on and on about their "creative process" and the pattern they just "must" design.  Bah.

The following week I went to a class where the people spent a lot less time getting on my nerves and a lot more time playing with yarn and bottles full of stuff that stains the yarn and my faith in the general like-ability of my fellow knitters has, for now, been restored.

There were a bunch of wild and crazy things going on at this class.  First, it was a sock dyeing class held (don't faint) inside a yarn shop.  Not in a separate safe room that had been emptied of all fiber goodies and had its floor covered in plastic.  Actually in the yarn shop, within reach of the yarn and the patterns, the carpet (which worried me the most) and (I didn't have the foresight to worry about this and for once it wasn't my fault) the ceiling.  Second, everyone was reallyreallyreallysuperextra nice, and not even a little annoying.  No one mentioned their "muse" or their "creative process," not even the teacher who actually does have a creative process (and perhaps is a little too busy exercising her creativity to waste her time (or mine; like the double parens?) blithering about said CP).

Third, they let me touch the bottles of dye.  This was the true craziness of the afternoon.  They let me stand in a yarn shop full of real yarn and carpeting and other people while holding bottles of dye.  And they were fearless about it.  No one seemed to think that I might drop a bottle on the floor or bump into a neighbor and make her drop her bottle or that I might, in the sheer joy of artistic discovery and unable to contain my creative process one moment longer, run madly around the yarn shop dyeing anything in my way.  They didn't even put plastic under my feet, which made me think I was in the company of some serious risk takers.

The class, taught by the exuberant (and very funny) Jennifer of Holiday Yarns,  was meant to be an opportunity for us to learn a little about hand dyeing while decorating two skeins of sock yarn.  Jennifer didn't even limit our color choices, which was both incredibly generous and incredibly insane of her, since she had to spend a lot of time mixing all of our colors.  The hard part, of course, was figuring out the color combinations we wanted.  Some of the people wanted tonal stuff, but most of us spent the first 45 minutes combing the yarn store for color combinations we liked.  This was as much fun as the rest of the class and I met a lot of new yarns and colors that I liked.

Here is my first combination (though it was the second skein that I dyed)


and the skein that I made from those colors.

Can you believe they left that open tub of dye near me?
I feel like I could accidentally knock it over just by looking at the picture.

The idea behind this skein is to get a Monet-like feeling, rather than stripes.  I haven't been bold enough to knit it yet, so I can't tell whether it worked or not.

Combo 2:


and its skein:


One of the things I learned from the class is that I am not very good at putting the dye where I want it.  You can even see a few blue dots where I strayed from my center line and I had a rotten time getting the dye to start squirting in the right spot.

Skeins from about half of the class:

They look like they are about to slide off the table, don't they?
Nate looked at this picture too quickly and thought it was a table full of skateboards. 

My favorites are the two at the top with all the sprinkles in the middle, and if I hadn't gotten so bogged down in my color choices, I would have loved to do a confetti skein like that.  Then again, the methodology requires you to sprinkle the dots of color  without drowning the yarn in colors, restraint being the key to success.  I could never have left enough white space to make the skein work.  I would have been having too much fun flicking the dye bottle around and soon enough I would have had a big old mess.  There is always next time, though, when I might be older and wiser and better able to contain my enthusiasm with the dye bottle.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yes, and No

1. The hat has been recovered from the school lost and found (sigh of relief!).  I made a particular effort to search for it in a timely fashion after I overheard an announcement at one of the schools that unclaimed lost and found items would be donated over the Christmas break.  Yikes!! Now if I could only find the hand knit blue gloves.

2. I was really excited yesterday to be moving on to another project. I was unprepared, though, for my inability to knit anything that was not an evil pink cotton sweater.  Apparently I've been focusing so thoroughly on the EPCS that all other projects have been wiped from my mind.  I brought two upstairs with me last night.  On the first row of my Estonian Lace Whatsit, I made an error.  Since I wasn't more than a few inches into it, and it started with a three stitch cast on, I tore the whole thing out and started again, only to realize that the yarn just didn't match the project the way I hoped it would.  Then I thought I would work on my other project, which I KNOW I had memorized.  But I couldn't remember the stitch pattern anymore and I couldn't remember where I had put the chart I wrote for it and it was late anyway, so I went to bed. I spent the morning finding a more suitable pattern for last night's abandoned yarn, and as soon as I've tucked all the little urchins into bed (and glued them in, if necessary) I'm going to cast on. All 363 stitches.  I hope this isn't a mistake.

3. My EPCS is still drying on my office floor.  If my dog sets his hairy butt on it one more time, I'm going to take him outside and shave him bald.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inside on a Rainy Day

Rainy, gray and cold today.  I spent the first part of the morning helping third graders with their spelling.  We're working on "constants:" the words that they are expected to know,  use,  and spell properly before they exit the third grade.  Or, as some inexplicably call them, "spelling constances," which brings to mind a vision of a spelling bee full of girls named Constance.  Now I'm home, having first stopped at the store to provide another therapeutic  chocolate chip muffin to One Who Looks Like a Chipmunk, and I can curl up with hot coffee and a snack and experience the great contentment of being inside on a rainy day.

I finished (mostly) the evil pink cotton sweater.  See:  

You wouldn't think something so innocent looking could generate such project weariness, but I'm glad to be rid (mostly) of it.  I still have to weave the ends in and block the little bugger, but I'm calling this one done (mostly).  The cat, who is an expert on all things of significance, concurs. 

 Here she is supervising me (not) at work. It's very disconcerting.  

Plus, I think she knows I'm talking about her, because she's staring at me while I type.

This is the way I like her best, all cozied into the in box on my desk:


It's hard to get a good picture of her snoozing, though, because I can't turn off the volume on the good camera and any time she hears it she gives me the stare (see above). If I am careless enough to leave my seat, she steals it and is very insulted if I either try to take it back or move somewhere else to work.  I'm not sure what the correct solution is, in her opinion.  No doubt it's a trick question.

This trio looks on from my left side, in a somewhat less threatening manner (except for the owl, who is clearly unhinged, but don't tell Isabel I said so because she made him).  The monkey in the back is called Bunky, or Mo.  He was Matty's first, brief love.  In front, of course, is Moosie who, in one of his six or seven incarnations over time, has been Isabel's true blue for the last ten years. Over time and repeated makeovers, we have pared away any unnecessary appendages (arms, legs, ears--really anything that might have distinguished him as a small gray mouse) and you see him here reduced to his true essence.  Even though Isabel no longer "needs" him, "where's Moosie" is part of our daily conversation and, given his wandering ways,  I still make a mental note of his whereabouts any time I see him.  He once disappeared for several weeks, a time that he spent (misspent, some might say) lodged behind the toilet tank in the downstairs bathroom at the old house, and I would not care to deal with that kind of grief again.

This one just parks himself in the corner and hopes someone will remember him before he perishes from neglect.

Mostly that happens when we trip over him and start cursing, but every once in a while he gets lucky and someone (usually me; the kids keep trying to lock him in the mud room so he doesn't nip at their sport pants, which make a noise that apparently drives him to minor violence) tosses him a treat.

Off now to enjoy the rest of my rainy day, starting with a little lunch and some time spent deciding on my next book and my next project.  Oh, and maybe some work.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Status Report

1. I am pig headed and unable to learn from past experience, so I have decided to try the December NaBloPoMo.  Please don't feel obligated to read my posts every day, although I can almost guarantee that the day everyone decides to give me a miss, I will finally write something very, very funny.  This is consistent with the Cleaning Lady Principle, which states that the cleaning lady will only show up on a day that I have not prepared the house for her.  On all other days--especially those on which the dreaded pre-cleaning takes an extra dose of time and energy that would have been much better spent on paid work-- she will call to reschedule.*

2.  I still have not finished the evil pink cotton sweater.  I did finish the edging around one arm and I did pick up the stitches for the edging around the second arm, so I'm ready to roll just in case I find a little knitting time today.  And, as predicted I stayed up past my bed time last night and was too tired to get up at 5:30 to exercise.  To compensate, I have eaten a healthy dose of mood boosting chocolate chips.  Not regular Nestle chips either; these are the fair trade cocoa of kindness and global responsibility chips that cost over $7 per pound, since Isabel is on strike against regular chocolate and I feel duty bound to support her budding socially conscious instincts, even if it means paying a lot more money for chocolate that I don't like as much.

3. I should be working today, but instead I'm looking for things to do that are not work.  So far, I have finished a book (Behind the Scenes at the Museum; enjoyed it very much, but I have a thing for Kate Atkinson, so this is not surprising), taken my child-who-is-recovering-slowly-from-wisdom-tooth-extraction out to get a chocolate chip muffin (she swears it is the only possible thing she can eat right now) and some movies and books from the library (she also swears there is absolutely nothing to read or watch in the entire house; eye-rolling is involved in the making of this pronouncement, so I know it is no use arguing and pointing to one of the 8 fully loaded bookcases we have), and made spicy lentil curry with rice. I will probably start work as soon as I finish this post, though, because the alternative is to get into the serious avoidance tasks (exercising, uncluttering the boys' room or the basement), and the whole problem today is that I just don't have that kind of motivation.

4.  The Helpful Writing Prompt from a few days ago inquired about the most disappointing gift I ever received.  My answer:  every gift I received between the ages of 7 and 12 that wasn't a pony.  It's no good pointing out that I grew up in house on a suburban lot that could not have been more than .25 acres; we had a two car garage and I don't see any reason that we couldn't have fit the pony, or "Misty" as I still like to think of her, in there. Please don't ask why I didn't just mention the pony to my parents, either.  You're not supposed to have to ask for your heart's desire.  People --especially parents-- are just supposed to know.   (My kids, thank goodness, beg for everything they see; it makes the gift giving a little easier)  There were also some odd moments involving dolls as gifts since I wasn't really a doll kind of kid.  I knew my mother understood this kind of thinking because she told me more than once about the bitter disappointment of receiving a doll instead of the bicycle her that heart truly desired when she was younger.  Or maybe --and I'm just realizing this now-- the  story was really meant to prepare me for the moment when my mother would be forced, under the laws governing parental gifts to young girls, to give me a doll, along with several carefully coordinated doll outfits. Not wanting to fully break with tradition, I have also given my kids dolls (including my older son--mountainous doses of Free To Be You And Me in the 70s taught me not to be sexist in this regard), but only because they asked for them (including, again, my older son, who asked for an American Girl doll during a time when his sister was very active with her AG dolls, because he hoped she would want to play with him more; I still wonder how I can possibly protect this sweet child from the mean people of the world).

5. My lentil curry must be ready by now, and even if it is not, I'm going to eat it anyway so I can get past lunch and move on with my day. Tomorrow I will post a picture of the evil pink cotton sweater whether it is done or not.

*She is here now.   I cleaned up this morning, which might lead you to dismiss the entire principle as bunk, but because she was running late, I decided  to cook lunch (I almost never cook lunch, but I was cold today) and in doing so I made a mess of the kitchen; this is clearly what caused her to come today rather than calling to reschedule, which she was considering doing.  It's good to know that I have some sort of power to influence events; I just wish I could use it to my advantage.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just in Case You Were Wondering . . .

 . . . a five year old "shaking his booty" is a terrifying sight.

 . . . and, I'm NOT done with my Alpine Lace Shell.  I have picked up stitches along one arm and I'm working on that edging but I have two  arms so there is still another round of picking up and edging and it turns out that a cotton yarn, even if it is mostly a wool yarn with only 20% cotton, is not exactly cooperative when it comes to executing a k2tog into a stitch that was a p2tog in the last row.  I'm tired of cotton and I'm tired of pink and I'm really looking forward to knitting the nice soft yarn of my ugly brown afghan.

 . . . and extracting wisdom teeth is not a way to make a 13 year old girl happy.

 . . . and it's time for me to go to sleep, so I will go up now and knit on my evil pink cotton shell until well past my bedtime and then I will curse when my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and I'm too tired to get up and use the treadmill because I stayed up too late knitting on a sweater that I don't even like any more.


Saturday, December 3, 2011


I still haven't decided about committing to the December NaBloPoMo, so I'm posting just in case.

I am sooooo close to finishing the Alpine Lace Shell.  The shoulder seams are done and all that is left is the edging around the neck (which is almost done) and around the arms.  The shell is a little short.  Or maybe I should call it "cropped" which makes it sound like a fashion choice rather than a measurement failure.  In any event, I'm hoping that a little blocking will give me the extra inch that I would like. Certainly the lace edging should have some stretch to it.  I'm close enough to being done that I'm starting to think about what the next project will be.  Probably not a brand new one; I expect I will get back to one (or two, or three?) of the projects that I started earlier in the fall.  But not until I finish this  ^%$%# shell, so that's what I'm off to do now.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm Very Very Busy

And I've got a lot to do 
And I haven't got a minute to explain it all to you*

Well, I'm not that busy, but I am hot on the trail of this pink cotton sweater and I'm pausing just long enough to explain that I'm at least a little  busy working on it, despite my best attempts to distract myself by stuffing other projects into the knitting basket. As if I could be waylaid by the little budgers and their cheap tactics. 

I finished the back of the sweater this morning and then whipped through the right front tonight and I'm going to start work on the left front before bed tonight. 

And so I'm off!

*That's a total rip-off from a Sandra Boynton song (BusyBusyBusy), and everybody with kids should own her CDs. So there. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh Goodie!

Guess what I found out today??? Can you guess?  I can do NaBloPoMo in December too if I want to!!!!  It starts today (sillies!), but I don't have to commit until December 5th, so there is still time for me to come to my senses.

Because the nice people who promote NaBloPoMo like to be helpful, they provide writing prompts on the weekdays.  Today's prompt asked what was the first gift I remember receiving.  Easy Peasy.  The first one I can remember right now is a red Timex that my aunt gave me for my fifth birthday.  It was  very slick looking (in an early '70s kind of way), although I have no idea what happened to it. The way I recall it, we were at my Nonny and Poppy's apartment for the great Gift Giving, but I could be very wrong about this.  My aunt told me that it was a very special present for a very special birthday, and I'm sure that I agreed, although not enough to preserve the watch for the next 38 years.

From first presents to most recent presents:  today my mailbox contained a new wool winder, a gift I gave myself and my yarn.  My old one, being of a rather artistic temperament, had taken to winding my yarn into ellipses rather than squat little yarn cakes.  Most of them were lovely to look at, especially as ovals and ellipses* are among my favorite shapes, but they were unstable and, for larger amounts of wool, tended towards tangled spaghetti in appearance and operation.  I'm sure the new one--which cost twice as much as the old one, even with 40% off and free shipping--will be much less of a free spirit.  I'm almost tempted to go wind some yarn right now.

*BTW, I'm very peeved by this word right now:  ellipses.  I come from an editing background where ellipses are three dots in a row ( . . .).  I'm very fond of those too, but I keep feeling like the word can't mean punctuation and more than one elongated shape, even though I double checked the definition and it most certainly can.  Harrumph.