Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. (Epictetus)

It's time for a Wednesday WIPs and FOs, and I'm happy to say that I was able to do quite a bit of knitting this week. Most of it was because I've been spending so much time providing rides for the kids. With both of them working, and only the one car for the three of us, I am doing an awful lot of sitting in parking lots while I wait for one or the other to get off work. But thanks to the knitting and my ipod (I'm caught up on all my podcast subscriptions), I haven't even been tempted to grump about it.

I finished my striped socks on Saturday, and I love the way they turned out. I actually got the stripes to match! I have enough of this yarn to knit up another pair, but I don't know who else might like this colorway. I thought about using the yarn up by knitting preemie hats for the Loops of Love charity. In fact, I was almost finished with the first hat when I realized that this yarn is a wool/nylon blend and the preemie hats have to be acrylic yarn because of possible allergies. (You don't want to risk stressing preemie babies any more than absolutely necessary.) So the yarn is back in my stash for now.

I didn't seam up the Riva sweater yet. But I did cast on another project, the Jamaica Pouch. I've had the yarn and pattern sitting in a project bag with my UFO (unfinished objects) for a couple of months. Jan (from my Boca knit group) had made a couple of the pouches and they were adorable. So of course I had gone out and bought the yarn to make one myself.

At the time, I loved the idea of a pastel pouch. Now, I'm not sure what I was thinking. It must have been intended as a gift for someone. I do like it because it's a very easy pattern to do as a take-along project, and it's knitting up quickly. Plus, I'm getting to use my new Harmony cables. Those needles are absolutely the nicest things to knit with. I love them!

I've also brought back out the Sampler Sock Blanket. This past week I added six blocks to it. I did some math, and figured out that if I knit an average of one block per day I will be able to finish the queen-sized blanket by the end of 2011. (Sigh)

I have one last project that I am pleased to pronounce as "finished." Tim was able to wear his hat home this week. Okay, he was actually trying to make a scarf. But even though he was very content (mostly content?) to go around and around on the loom, I had finally gotten bored with the project. So I helped him to cast off, then I sewed a hem into nice comfy brim on it and he proudly showed it off to everyone. He's had several requests for hats, but I'm not sure what our next project will be. (You know he's going to have to have some sort of knitting project going, just so that I have an excuse to knit at work.)

There has also been some spinning going on this week, but I don't have any pictures to share yet.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm telling you, things are getting out of hand. Or maybe I'm discovering that things were never in my hands. (Real Live Preacher)

I worked late today. Maybe a little too late, since the building was dark and deserted by the time I was ready to go home. And work isn't in the best place to be alone after dark, so I probably should have left about an hour (or two) earlier. But since my son had the car, I didn't have a choice anyway. I certainly wasn't going to walk the half mile to the bus stop that late.

So I was sitting in my office, engrossed in a report. I heard someone honk by the gate, but I ignored it. There isn't anyone that would need to be let in that time of night that wouldn't know the security code, so there was no need for me to go outside in the dark.

About five minutes later, there's knocking on my window. My office is on the front corner of the building. I have one high, narrow window with beveled privacy glass. It would have been the only window with a light shining out, but how could anyone have reached that high? My heart started pounding.

What do you do in a situation like that? I'm by myself, in a dark building. It's obvious that I'm by myself, because the building is totally dark except for the one light in my office. And someone is aware of that. They're knocking on my window. My high, very inconvenient to reach, window. Should I go out and see what they want? Do I try to lock the hallway up (as if that would make any difference given the flimsy door we have to the offices)?

With my cell phone in my hand, ready to call the police, I carefully peeked out into the reception area. There's a man plastered up against the glass door, laughing.

It took a few minutes for my brain to process that it was my son. It took quite a few minutes longer for my heart to start beating again.

I don't have anything for him to inherit, so why is he trying to kill me?

Monday, December 28, 2009

At times it is folly to hasten; at other times, to delay. The wise do everything in its proper time. (Ovid)

I've been working on a list of topics for the Spun in the Sun podcast, and I would really like to record a show in the next couple of days. But I'm not sure if I should or not.

Michelle and I started the podcast together. It was something we had both wanted to do, although she had taken it a step farther than I had at the time by getting the equipment necessary to record a show. From the start, we were able to merge our ideas really well. There were a few technical difficulties (she and I talk in different volumes, making it hard to edit properly), but I'm proud of the episodes we did. Plus it was a whole lot fun to do.

Unfortunately, since returning from our New York City adventure we've had problems getting together to record another episode. First it was my personal life -- my son's medical discharge and all the anxiety as I waited to see what would happen, and then the sudden move into an apartment when my landlord went into foreclosure on the townhouse we had lived in for three years. On top of that my student's mother died, leaving me to act as his temporary parent. Just as my life was settling down, Michelle and her fiance closed on their house. The new house required major renovations, and she's been spending all her time knee deep in sawdust and paint -- when she isn't at work or school, that is.

So with one thing and another, we've gone four months without publishing an episode of our podcast. Considering that we had only been "on air" for five months prior to our hiatus, this is not a good thing. We're pretty much going to have to woe listeners all over again.

So this is my dilemma. I now have the basic equipment to record and edit the podcast. I also have the time to record an episode. And we really need to put an episode out if we want to retain any credibility with our audience. BUT. I would rather not do it without Michelle. The thought of sitting and talking all by myself is terrifying, even though I know I'm capable of talking on and on for hours. (That's what I do for a living. Eh, I'm a teacher after all.) And more importantly, I don't want to leave Michelle out of it; I don't want to give her the impression that she isn't wanted or needed; I don't want her to feel that I'm trying to take over the show; and I don't want any bad feelings of any sort. If I do a solo episode, it would be strictly on a temporary basis. Because the show is definitely the two of us -- or the three of us if we can ever get Faith to talk up. (Faith is our third partner on the podcast, known as the silent spinner because she isn't ready to talk on the air yet. She's shy.)

I've left messages for Michelle, so hopefully I'll hear back soon. It's hard though, since her schedule is so wonky and mine just doesn't mesh at all with her's. And I'm not sure why I shared all this, since I usually keep Spun in the Sun separate from this blog. But this is what is occupying my mind, so I'm sharing. Suggestions and/or advice would be welcomed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Way too much coffee. But if it weren't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever. (David Letterman)

Last weekend I found the neatest little restaurant. I had dropped off my daughter to work but didn't want to go too far, just in case she got out early. (As it turned out, I was right to be concerned about this. But that's an entirely different story.) So after dropping off Becka, I went in search of someplace with coffee.

On US 1 (Federal Highway) in Lake Park, there is a tiny Dunkin Donuts Restaurant. I've passed it before, and admired the giant coffee cup on the roof. This was the first time I've stopped in. You can get coffee and donuts, just like a regular Dunkin Donuts. Or you can be seated in the diner area and enjoy something off the menu. The menu is limited, but gave me happy memories of eating at the diners of my childhood. It even looked like the diners of my childhood, with old vinyl booths.

The coffee was wonderful. I'm normally a vanilla latte or a cappuccino girl, but even though it was just plain coffee it was delicious. I'm still trying to decide about the biscuits and gravy. The biscuits were fine, and the gravy was perfect (nice and peppery). But obviously the cook was not southern, despite the perfectly seasoned white gravy, because it was served over sausage patties instead of using bulk sausage in the sauce. I just pushed the patties to the side, and enjoyed the rest of it.

The service was nice. There were a lot of regulars when I was there, and the waitress laughed joked with everyone. Even the tourists (a real nice family visiting from England) were quickly labeled "family" and we all ended up talking across the aisle.

The Dunkin Donuts Restuarant has been in Lake Park since the early 1960's. It's a very cute little place, and is worth a stop for breakfast on your way to the beach.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again. (Mike Meyers)

Mom came down this afternoon to have a cup of coffee and a quick visit, and we ended up going out dinner. Actually she ended up staying until 10:30 pm, which was very late for "a quick visit," but that's what always seems to happen when we get together.

Anyway, I decided to have a Mojito Iced Tea with my meal. Despite the name, it's non-alcoholic; just a very minty green tea. It was delicious! I drank three glasses of it. When I told mom it was so good that I wanted to take a pitcher home with me, she looked at me a little strange but said, "Go ahead." It turns out that she thought I said I wanted to take a picture of the tea home with me and figured it was for the blog.

So here's my "Pitcher of Tea."

The rabbit ears are all Becka. She couldn't resist joining in on the fun. But then the cookies got jealous, so they showed off with mickey mouse ears.

It really was non-alcoholic. Honest!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

The Good
  1. Knit Picks Harmony interchangeable needles -- just about the best Christmas gift ever! This is definitely on my list of top three gifts, along with the big box of used paperbacks and the year of the BB gun and toe shoes.
  2. Breakfast by Becka. She makes the best scrambled eggs; much better than mine. But I make better coffee.
  3. Spending the afternoon knitting with Faith. Even if Starbucks closed early and we were left alone at the plaza.
  4. Chocolate cherries and The Doctor, with no guilt since the kids were spending time with their father.
The Bad
  1. I don't like spending holidays without my family. Cari is still in NY, the kids spent the day with their father, and because of Becka's work schedule I didn't get down to see my mom and sister.
  2. Poor Becka had to work Christmas Eve and today. It's great that she has the hostessing job, but what an awful schedule for her first week of work.

The Ugly

  1. My poor baby. And if this wasn't enough, her computer crashed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tis the day before Christmas...

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?

* * *

"Fleece Navidad!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I always have a quotation for everything, it saves original thinking. (Dorothy L Sayers)

I've been looking forward to talking about my progress this week. My Riva sweater is almost finished. I only have 763 stitches left, and then I get to seam up the sides. Of course, that stitch count includes 109 stitches that have to be picked up along the other armhole, so I'm not making any bets on how much longer it's going to take me. I really, really, really hate to pick up stitches.

I finished the Gypsy Monkey socks, and I totally love them. The color (Gypsy Rose) is beautiful, the yarn was wonderful to work with, and the pattern is definitely on my list of favorites.

As soon as I finished the Gypsy Monkeys, I cast on another pair of socks to carry around me. This time I'm doing them toe up, using one of my favorite "plain vanilla" patterns, Back to Basics. The yarn is Lion Brand Magic Stripes in the Bright Spring pattern. I started them Saturday morning, and by the afternoon I had already turned the heels. I figure that a little bit of knitting time this evening, and I'll be wearing them to work tomorrow.

She loves me, she loves me not.

This morning, Faith told me that she loved me. I showed her my socks, just to be sure, and she still loved me. It was a nice way to start the day.

About two hours later, Faith comes up and tells me, "I don't love you no more."

I had to ask, "Why not?"

"Because I don't want to." And with that, she walked off.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn? (Jane Austen)

It's taken me a couple of days to calm down enough to share this story. But now that I know there is a happy ending and everyone is safe, I can go ahead and talk about it.

My daughter called me Saturday night. I could hear terror in her voice from the very start. "Mommy, there's a giant spider in my room." Without giving it any thought, I immediately answered, "Then I won't ever be visiting you again." (I am not ashamed to admit that I am terrified of spiders.)

My daughter persisted. "It's really, really big and ugly. Do something!"

Now, first of all, all three of my children have been raised with the express purpose of killing any and all spiders for me. (Truly, I'm phobic.) Second, she is in NYC and I'm in southern Florida -- way too far away to be of any use, even if I wasn't planning to run even further away from the spider. So I did the only thing I could: whined at her to kill it quickly.

Maybe I shouldn't admit that I was already hyperventilating at the thought of this spider. I mean, she's had to deal with spiders for me all her life. She's used to them. So if this one scared her, it must have been especially scary. She probably would have been better calling her brother or sister. Or even her grandmother.

But it was my little girl, calling me for help. So as I gasped for breath, I decided to put my big girl panties on and be the mom she needed me to be. I offered her the only advice I could, based on my past experiences.

Oven cleaner.

Don't laugh, it works. And it can be sprayed from a distance, which is mandatory if there isn't anyone else around.

My only other offering was to move out of the apartment and find a house without spiders -- something I have also been known to do in the past.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We're Americans, we don't plan, we do! (Night at the Museum 2)

I had planned on updating my knitting projects today. A little bit of bragging was called for, since I've actually finished a project. (Okay, I finished three projects but only one was worth bragging about.)

But my son came home from work with the Night of the Museum 2. I decided instead of sitting in front of the computer, I would join the kids in watching the movie. Oh my gosh, what a great movie. It had a totally stupid plot. I think the writers must have decided to give up going for any type of sense, and just spent their time coming up with situations in order to throw out these wonderfully quotable lines.

One of my favorites is when Kah Mun Rah meets Darth Vader: "There's too much going on here; you're asthmatic, you're a robot. And why the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so."

So pictures of my knitting will have to wait. I'm still giggling too hard from the movie.

Pass the popcorn, please!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just what every city needs -- cats in charge. (The Doctor)

I don't want to talk about today. Except the part where I got to ignore everything and sit in front of my computer watching a Dr. Who marathon. (Season three, for the curious.) I love Dr. Who.

And look how much knitting I got done!

(I hate to admit it, but I like Jones a lot better than I ever liked Rose. )

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?

I spent the evening shopping with my daughter, and I managed to get most of the gifts for the stockings. Okay, who am I kidding? I got some of the gifts for the stockings. The stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning, so I tend to get carried away and get enough gifts to fill Santa's entire sack instead of just a stocking. But in theory, anyway, I finished the stockings.

Shopping for the stocking gifts always gets me feeling very nostalgic. There are several things that are must-have traditional items, like toothbrushes and a book and a favorite candy. So I'm blaming my current obsession on this shopping-related nostalgia. But I really want a Fuzzy Wuzzy.

I'd even settle for a Fuzzy Cat. So I hope you're listening, Santa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

History is nothing but a series of stories, whether it be world history or family history. (Bill Mooney & David Holt)

I had to do a very sad thing today. I boxed up and mailed my oldest child her ornament collection. I guess this means that she is officially grown up and moved away, but I still don't like the idea of it all.

My family has a tradition of exchanging a Christmas ornament every year. Each person gets one ornament that is supposed to represent something special for that year.

We started exchanging ornaments back when I was in high school. The idea was that when my sister and I married and moved away, we would have ornaments to decorate our first tree. The tradition continued, and as our children were born they were included in the exchange.

Because the ornaments have special meanings, it's a nice way to remember our favorite family stories.

There was the time that we were camping, and PJ didn't want to take part in any of the campground's activities. Gramma managed to talk him into going to play Bingo with her, and he actually won. After that, we couldn't get him to stay at the camp site; he wanted to spend all his time at the rec hall in case they did Bingo again.

And of course a favorite family story is how my youngest decided she wanted to be cow when she grew up.

Some of the ornaments represent special achievements and activities. Cari received a flute one year because she was in the band. And one year, Becka was remembered for learning to sew.

PJ's trip to NYC to visit his big sister had to be commemorated.

Some years, the ornaments exchanged reflected the recipient's hobbies, like Becka's elephant obsession or my teapot collection.

Because of the tradition, my daughter's tree will be filled with wonderful memories.

The problem is, I didn't realize that by letting her take her ornaments I had to let them go. To her, it's the first ornament in her collection. For me, it was the first Christmas with my baby.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow. (H. G. Wells)

This posting was originally intended to be an extremely amusing anecdote. You would have laughed out loud. Your co-workers would chuckle as you related the story to them. And tomorrow, you would smile unexpectedly as the thought of it drifted into your mind in the middle of your busy day.

It really is a shame that nothing that amusing happened for me to write about. (You really don't want to read about urinals, ghettos, and filing cabinets -- do you?) Maybe tomorrow will be post-worthy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. (Larry Wilde)

When I got home from work today I pulled all the holiday boxes (all eleven of them) out of the storage room and carried them upstairs. I've been asking the kids to get them for me since Thanksgiving, and finally decided that if I wanted something done I would have to do it myself. Once I started the actual decorating, the kids got a little more interested. It's really beginning to look like Christmas around here.

One of my favorite things about decorating for the holidays is that it always leads to reminiscences of past celebrations. All the best family stories get retold, often from a different viewpoint.

For instance, I remember that Becka was always the one who insisted that we leave cookies and milk out for Santa Claus every year. Every year there was a big production to choose the very best cookies for Santa. There was one year that we ran out of milk. I tried to convince my youngest that Santa would be just as happy with apple juice or eggnog. But Becka insisted it had to be a glass of milk with the cookies. So I found myself driving around town after midnight on Christmas Eve, trying to find a grocery store that was still open.

When Becka was finally asleep, I'd carefully take a bite of each of the cookies so that there would be evidence that Santa had been there. I'd also drink half the glass of milk, even though I absolutely hate drinking milk. But it was worth it, since every Christmas morning Becka would be so excited when she checked the plate of cookies. It was always the first thing she would do Christmas morning, even before looking under the tree at the presents. Christmas morning memories will always begin for me with that squeal of "Santa was here, mommy! Look, he ate part of my cookies!"

That's how I remember it, anyway.

Becka told the story a little differently today. It seems that she could never figure out why Santa Claus didn't like the cookies she left out for him. She knew he didn't like them because he would only take a bite of each one; he never ate the entire cookie. Every year she would try to pick out the very best cookie of the ones we had made, and yet Santa would taste it and put it back on the plate. She remembers the squeal as "Look, he only ate part of my cookies!"

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. (Franklin P. Jones )

I have cookies to eat. Lots of yummy cookies, thanks to the Cookie Exchange with my knitting group last night. I made my Nana's Magic Cookie Bars to share. I got to bring home snickerdoodles (all gone already), oatmeal raisin (hmmm), gingerbread (awesome!), cranberry bread (wonderful!), Scotch Shortbread (a favorite!), and (totally)Heavenly Cookies. The kids are asking for dinner, but I'm full from snacking on cookies all day.

The cookies have been my consolation for the sweater knitting this afternoon. I finished the front, and seamed the shoulders today. I just have to do an easy ribbed collar, seam the sides, and a quick border on the armholes. I figured I would get to cast on a new project after dinner.

It turns out that the ribbed collar wasn't as easy as it sounded. It took me four tries to pick up the right amount of stitches around the neck. Actually, the fourth time I was still three stitches off, so I just did a few evenly spaced decreases when I knit the first row. After all, who was going to ever know? After knitting six rows, I stopped to admire my work. The collar was looking really big. It turns out that I should have used the smaller-sized needles. So I pulled the collar out and tried again.

This time it only took three attempts to get the count right. And after knitting four rows, the collar is starting to look really nice.

Too bad I picked up the stitches on the wrong side. Do you think anyone will notice that my collar folds to the inside of the sweater?

I'm going to go eat another cookie...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

You can't leave footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time? (Bob Maowad)

Although I spent most of the day running around, I got to start my day by sitting on the beach. My daughter had a job interview (she's now a hostess at a beachside restaurant), and while I was waiting for her I walked along the shore.

I'll probably be spending a lot more time at the beach now, waiting for my daughter. Which is a good thing. The municipal beach on Singer Island is a nice place to spend time. The sandy beach is wide, rather than the narrow areas found on most of Florida's eastern coast.

The town of Riviera Beach recently started a renovation on the Ocean Mall that overlooks the beach. This makes getting in and out of the beach a real pain. You have to look close for the "Beach Access" signs in amongst the "Construction Area - Keep out!" posters.

But this ensures that the beach will not be crowded. This morning it was just one woman swimming, one family strolling, and me knitting on the beach. And the seagulls, of course.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand. (Unknown)

Yum! I made 6-Layer Cookies for the cookie swap tomorrow night, and so far I've resisted temptation of eating one or two. Or more. But it's hard. Just look at that chocolaty, coconuty, nutty goodness. Total decadent indulgence. This was a recipe from my Nana (originally she had 7 layers, but I don't like butterscotch so I always leave it out), and it definitely qualifies for my Friday Favorite.

I have four pans cooling on the counter. Four dozen finished cookies will go with me to the swap. One dozen to share at the party, and three dozen to trade. I'll come home with six different types of cookies.

The diet will resume Monday.

And while the cookies were in the oven, I was watching the last episode of Monk while working on Lauren's hat. The entrelac is almost as addicting as the cookies.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

There is nothing more contagious on this planet than enthusiasm. (Carlos Santana)

This is Emily. She's a wonderfully cheerful second-grader that I met at the Barnes and Noble tonight. Emily was there to sing with the choir for her school's book fair. She's a very good singer; I know, because she sang a little solo for my knitting group.

I met Emily because she is also very outgoing and curious. As soon as she saw the group of us knitting in the coffee shop, she came over to watch. And to learn. Emily even got her friend involved.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any extra needles and yarn with me today. Most of the time I carry an extra project or two, "just in case." So we used the double point needles and Emily worked a round on my hat. The next time (and I'm sure there will be a next time, because Emily is definitely a Knitter now) she's going to work on a scarf, or a sweater, or maybe a pair of socks.

I better bring a lot of yarn next week. Just in case.

This is the project I was working on at knitting group tonight. It's a entrelac hat from the Twist Collective. I know, this wasn't on the list of projects I wanted to get done first. But Becka sweet-talked me into knitting a Christmas gift for her best friend. (It was really difficult, too. "Mom, would you knit Lauren a hat for Christmas?" "Sure. What color?")

If I hadn't cast on the hat, I probably could have finished my sweater. Because I'm really that close to being done. It's going to be beautiful. Just look at the detail at the neck.

My Gypsy Monkeys are also beautiful. One foot and two toes, and they'll be done as well.

I think some of Emily's enthusiasm rubbed off on me.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009