Fingerless glove

looking for what's missing... I'm a knitting, spinning, mother of teenagers with a big dog, a small cat, minus the lovely rabbit Meliflua.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Right now I'm listening to "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh, reading "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan, knitting mittens, and thinking about casting on a hat.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

See? Booties

While I ponder next month's charity project I have another pair, this time in the most delicate shade of pink, on my needles. Next month's project is taking some thinking because it's the Caps for Kids contest within our guild and the categories are: 1) Colorful, 2) Textured or Embellished, and (drumroll please) 3) MACHO! I'm excited about the macho category because I think boys get the short end of the stick when it comes to loving handknits. It seems like there is a much bigger scope for expression amid the frilly and the frou frou. I'm determined to prove myself wrong and come up with something so cool I can't stand it. Maybe I can get inspiration from snow boarders.

Any ideas?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Busy booties

The Rorschach answers are: melifluous, crack, 71 degrees, anger, bloody, baby laughter, snoring, nursing, bus driver, and I love you.

Lene has a colorful post with a questionaire this time, the ten questions James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio. If you want to know the questions, go here.

I've been too busy going to used book sales and trying to finish my booties to post anything more profound. Actually the two go well together. Yesterday while standing in line for the Chantilly used book sale I went from 0 to 80 in about a 1/2 hour. That's no bootie to 80% of one. Now I'm working on the mate. This month's guild charity knitting project is ... you guessed it ... booties. I got a late start but once I get going on this particular pattern they just fly off my needles. They're the perfect small canvas for all kinds of little experiments, anything my brain happens to stumble across. The only problem is I don't really know if this pattern does, as claimed, stay on.

I need a new baby. I'd prefer to rent rather than buy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Dan

I've been thinking for two weeks about how to wish Dan Happy Birthday, but what do you say to someone who's always been there? Who taught me the finer points of playing baseball with invisible men? And NASCAR around a gravel driveway on a bicycle? About crayfish & PT109? Happy Birthday, Dan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I love used book sales

Saturday morning I bought a duffel bag full of books for $12.50.

Besides some routine "good reads" (Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan, The Kite Runner, & 45 Fine & Fanciful Hats to Knit by Anna Zilbourg) I found this for a dollar:

and I had a Faulkner-rama

but the real treasure, and I'm guessing only a small group would recognize this, was:

A copy of "The Modern Family Cookbook" by Meta Given. The paper is coarse and the few photos are less than slick, but these spare photos were the wistful culinary dreams of my youth. Within its bland gray exterior are the bread-pudding tastes of comfort, the caramels & divinity of Christmas and my birthday and I forget what all. (In grade school, one of the benefits of having a birthday near Christmas when your mother is a queen of candymaking is getting to take in extra special treats like sugar-shocking divinity AKA sea foam. The detriment is hardly anyone notices.) No Better Homes & Gardens plaid, no Betty Crocker red, no Joy of Cooking blue, this was my mother's basic cookbook for those things that required a cookbook. Several years ago I was thrilled when my sister found a cache of a few copies and gave me one. Still, I couldn't pass up the chance for a spare. I do this. If I really love a book, I can't pass up a chance at a cheap second copy. You never know who might need The Sparrow or Under the Tuscan Sun or A Year In Provence ... or The Modern Family Cookbook. ( My copies of Moby Dick have grown to a downright collection... I just love Starbuck.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I am a Nerd Goddess

Perhaps it's because I'm taking the Nerd test on a Saturday night (wouldn't you get bonus points for that?) but I just scored 96%.

I was unwinding after a busy week (I can barely type for the hot glue blisters on my fingers from making deely bobbers for a Rainbow skit out of foamie, half-priced plastic Easter eggs and pipe cleaners; sorry I didn't make it to Uniquities again for charity knitting but I did work on my booties), cruising around my favorite blogs when I read about Lene stumbling on this nerd test. Go ahead. Go take it. I'll wait.

Back already? How'd you do?

The thing is, I thought I'd score "mildly nerdy." I think I'm wonderfully well rounded; I knit for heaven's sake! (Although maybe, after the current trend fizzles and I still knit, that will just add fuel to the argument. Remember the knit collars on the uniforms in the second Star Trek movie?) So what if I can tell the difference between Max Planck & Albert Einstein? So I keep a Periodic Table handy? You never know when you might need one. So I think being a researcher would be cool? Doesn't everyone like to have their questions answered? (Maybe the answer to that would surprise me. Someone once said to me, "You like to see other people do well, don't you?" I said, "Of course. Doesn't everyone?" He said, "No.")

The point is, all this makes me wonder (as did Lene) how my friends and family would score. I know one thing is true. Picard was the best captain.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Baby Surprise with a Baby in it

For those of you who are faithful readers of the Yarn Harlot, you might have noticed her subconscious recently had her abandon a baby surprise jacket for some fancy-pants white confection with little flowers. True the new baby sweater she's doing is gorgeous, and it's also true that the baby surprise jacket is unlike the fabulous complicated patterning of her Tinks' sweaters. But here, in all it's glory is the baby surprise jacket I knit for my first-born child.

See? You just put a one-day-old human in it and nobody cares how tricky the knitting is. (Some models make everything look good.)

I remember the great pleasure I felt knitting this jacket and would recommend it to anyone in a minute, as I would recommend reading any of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books (especially my favorite Knitter's Almanac) just for her wonderful, commonsense voice. I'll stop now so you can go to Schoolhouse Press.

PS And the baby surprise jacket does have some shaping in it that makes you want to go up to strangers, point at it proudly & say, "Isn't this clever?"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Not everybody likes the same thing

Not everybody likes the same thing. We are all different.

This may be (painfully) obvious to you -- especially to my joyously unique brothers & sisters -- but here's the tricky bit: IT'S OK. That's how it's supposed to be. Just because you prefer, say, stretching your shoulders paddling a canoe to the instant gratification of noisy gas guzzling power boats, or prefer standing for minutes gazing into a canyon instead of standing in a big crowd, or even crocheting to knitting, doesn't mean you're not A Team Player.

And it turns out that a family vacation is a wonderful chance to practice accepting this. For me, I'm a homebody. I'd have preferred visiting my charming relatives and skipping the whole sightseeing thing, but I was voted off the island.

Vince's favorite thing was this

Where as Cassie preferred

Las Vegas. She loved that everyone was trying to catch her attention (and was willing to do just about anything to get it). She loved that even the Motel 6 sign was glitzy. That "it's all about ME" attitude drew her like a bee to nectar.

It was a genuine strain for Cassie to even fake interest in the Dam Tours. (Ok. She didn't strain herself. She Was. Not. Interested. In a way that only a 15 year old girl can be Not Interested.) Believe me, I understand that not everyone is as interested as I am that Glen Canyon Dam produces almost as much electricity with 8 generators as Hoover Dam produces with 17. The fact that instead of running tubes full of coolant through the concrete as they did at Hoover so it wouldn't take 128 years to cure, they used shaved ice in the mix at Glen Canyon does not make for scintillating party conversation. As a matter of fact, Cassie took this photo at Hoover Dam because it pretty much expresses her feelings about it

Although the engineering in dams fascinates me & I still fondly remember my first Dam tour on a family vacation as a kid (Hungry Horse), they also make me feel sad, especially at Glen Canyon. I can imagine the incredible beauty that was so cavalierly drowned for what seems to me a shallow (pun intended. It's over 700 feet tall), short sighted gain. Glen Canyon Dam's primary mission is water control. Recreation comes second. Clean power comes at the bottom of the list.

But my favorite part of the trip was

Is that the coolest name for a cool yarn shop, or what? I think it's a sign (of what I'm not sure but a sign nonetheless). I even got to meet Gail and she is wonderful and friendly, as were her Saturday crowd of devotees. They show up, hang out and knit. She seems to knit effortlessly, without struggle; like breathing. She has a binder packed full of sweater patterns she's designed. I like that she models most of them in the book and if you buy the yarn from her she shares them generously. Her yarn selection fits her location -- very chic and yummy (sorry I have no photos of it, I was just so smitten with the sign) -- but she had basics, too and I managed to find something to buy without any trouble at all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sticker shock, Flora & Fauna shock, Vacation Shock

It all started because Cassie said, "How come we never go anywhere for Spring Break?"

So now I'm suffering from shock. Sticker shock because I just filled my gas tank. When I last filled it, the Saturday before leaving on Spring Break, I paid $2.43 per gallon. This evening I was lucky to find gas for $2.79. Sigh. I long for the flat of Wisconsin where bicycling isn't like training for the Tour de France. (I swear, the only people you see on bikes around here are guys with colorful shirts, taut calf muscles, tight spandex shorts, aerodynamic helmets, and those special shoes.

Flora & Fauna shock because I went from a week of this:

(See the little creature?)

And this:

And this:

To this:

I'm showing you the lilacs because they're my favorite spring flower. See?

I've always loved lilacs. But there are azaleas everywhere and every kind of flowering tree. It's just ... too ... much.

And lastly, vacation shock. I just got used to the sunshine, the desert, the crazy time zone changes (Arizona is Mountain Standard time, Utah is Mountain Daylight & Nevada is Pacific Daylight) the lack of pollen & internet service and now I'm back. At least now I can wish belated happy birthday to The Other Middle Child (middle of the boys), my brother Bob.

This photo was probably taken when he was about half his current age, but it's still my favorite. HB Bobby Mon. I thought of you on your birthday.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Yarn is where you find it.

There are no yarn stores in Page, Arizona.

But if you mention this to the cheerful, helpful Chamber of Commerce folks, they will tell you that Blairs Trading Post supplies yarn to Navajo weavers for their gorgeous work.

And there you will find

Rows of "Lambs Pride" (in 4 oz. skeins instead of center pull) and "Wooly" something or other (I have forgotten the specifics. It was too stiff & itchy for my kind of knitting) in all the colors you see in the desert and canyons and sky around here. That is a surprising range of color when you get down to it -- 6 or 7 greens alone (not counting blue greens) and even more browns, grays, creams and burgundies. Even though the yarn type was limited, there was so much wonderful color I could hardly choose. (I did eventually: skeins of the blue about mid photo between the greens and the reds. It is the exact exuberant rich blue of the desert sky.)

Across the aisle you will find

spurs and larriats. And assorted other cowboy leather gear. The saddles are just to the left.

In spite of being yarn challenged, I really enjoyed visiting Page. The people were patient and pleasant. Most of the houses were modest and tidy (although I did see a few eco-irresponsible-oversized-McMansions creeping along the canyon rim.) I liked how they have 10 churches in a row. (When the BLM was divvying things up, they designated a strip of Lake Powell Boulevard for churches, all on the same side. Kind of like putting all the cookies in the same aisle of the supermarket.) And here is a feeble photo through the window at the Page Public Library, the best library view in the world.

Yarn is where you find it.

PS The Edward Abbey essay is "Down the River" from Desert Solitaire, a little past the middle of the book.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The best view in the world

I know you've all missed me and I promise I'll write more soon. For now, I'll just say the public library in Page, Arizona has the finest view of any library I've ever seen and you know me. Libraries are my second home. (They also apparently allow dogs here.) I won't bore you with my feeble descriptions. Go read what Edward Abbey writes so eloquently in his essay (I think it's in Desert Solitaire) about going down the Colorado River through Glen Canyon one last time before they built the dam. The very definition of Awesome.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm having this kind of day.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Algernon Charles Swinburne

Yesterday was the 169th anniversary of the birth of Algernon Charles Swinburne.

He wrote "Love and Sleep" (already he's caught my attention)

Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
Pale as the duskiest lily's leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,
Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
But perfect-coloured without white or red.
And her lips opened amorously, and said—
I wist not what, saving one word—Delight.
And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
And glittering eyelids of my soul's desire

Pretty steamy, eh? A far cry from "baby, baby you rock my world."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Generation Gap

Tonight I went to Vince's Freshman Orientation (and no, out of a class of 750 kids, there wasn't anyone nearly as interesting as Jane saw at Steve's.) When I mentioned to the woman showing the school's "Fusion" website for homework that I have a blog & I think it's fun, you'd have thought I said, "I sell my plasma for cash to support my nauga habit." Apparently, blogs are only for sleazebags bent on nefarious purposes. Who knew? I am unchastised and undaunted.

Inspired by JRK's comment about Cassie's youthful glow, my darling daughter deigned to step down from her Xanga Princess blog perch to check out my significantly less hip blog and leave a few comments I wanted to share.

"teenagers are much more valuable than magic beans. if [you] grow magic beans, you'll get a huge bean stalk which you will want to climb to see what's at the top, and then a giant will come to try to kill you and you will fall off the beanstalk and die. or the giant would kill you.or if you didnt know they were magic beans and ate them, you'd get like a beanstalk tumor and die. teenagers don't have vicious giants hidden on top of them, nor can you climb them. eating them probably wouldn't kill you either. unless you ate them raw and got salmonella, which would be your own fault for not cooking them properly. teenagers are in fact, extremely beneficial. teenagers can make fantastic brownies. what beans have you met [that] can do that? in conclusion, magic beans lead to death. teenagers lead to brownies."

Well, you can't argue with logic like that, can you?

To her comment "I got skillz" I say, "But spelling isn't one of them."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Set your alarm clock

Did you notice that in a little less than 14 hours -- at two minutes and three seconds after one AM -- the time will be 01:02:03 04/05/06 and that will never happen again?

So set your alarm and let's all yell, "PEACE ON EARTH." Are you going to do it?

Me neither. But it's a nice thought.


You'd think after not posting for a few days, I'd be bursting with news.

I'm not.

For some visual interest, I'm posting a photo taken near the post office I use. If you could look through the fire station in the background, you'd see the post office. This is 3D trompe l'oeil, since it is in Fairfax County -- a county with absolutely no land left with a rural zoning and your first home could be priced in the low $600,000's.

The Spring peepers have been making their racket long enough (for a week or so, could be longer but until then it was still too cold at night to have the windows open) that some of the charm has worn off. That first night it was positively musical.

Oliver caught his first mouse. He was so proud. And he has the good manners to leave it in the middle of Vince's rug, not in the middle of his bed.

Last night at knitting guild I knit my first tubular knitting on two needles. I was trying to show that it's a pouch but you'll have to use your imagination.

Eugenia taught a knit & scoop technique that's really pretty nifty. If I can think of a way to use it on next month's charity project (baby booties, my favorite) I will. With the squares everyone turned in last month, Nora put together 10 baby afghans for the hospital.

Margarite Duras, born this day in 1914 in a small village near Saigon (French Indochina at the time), said, "You have to be very fond of men. Very very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they're simply unbearable."

The reason I'm quoting her is she had her first really big literary success (although that's so subjective, isn't it?) with a book she wrote when she was 70. I am always on the lookout for tales of big achievements in the over 40 crowd. Millionaire before age 30? Ffffft. Who cares. No depth. No soul. Show me a writer with a first novel at age 57. Now that's someone I'd like to meet.