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 "An Irish Country Village" by Patrick Taylor, reading "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" by Anna Quindlen and knitting Wisconsin Wintersocks. And casting off the lace shawl I've been working on since I last posted.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bumper Sticker

Cass & I both enjoyed this bumper sticker: "I have the perfect body...but it's in the trunk and beginning to smell."

Happy Hallowe'en.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Baby Caps as an Agent of Change

I am not generally a grass roots kind of gal. I'm not marching for peace or equal rights, I'm not out there trying to get people registered to vote. Don't get me wrong; I vote and think everyone should avail themselves of this freedom but, being a freedom, no one gets to be the boss of you and make you vote if you don't want to.

I think everyone on the planet should do the right thing. Without being told. Just because you know it's the right thing to do. We'd be in pretty good shape then, wouldn't we? I catch flack that I'm unrealistic, living in a fairy tale. I'm not. I just know that each one of us is responsible for our own behavior. It's like today's Brat Factor quote, "Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you -- not because they are nice, but because you are."

So if all you knitters and crocheters out there want to spout off to the president about the appalling infant mortality rates in developing nations, here's a way to do more than complain, to do a good thing that speaks volumes. This website has the details -- Caps to the capital. In a nutshell, fashion washable yarn into a wee little 11" diameter subsized newborn cap (since the babies with the highest risk of infant mortality are not your chubby 8 pounders) and send it to Caps to the Capital with the label they have on their link. They don't just want donated caps. They want outraged voices speaking with their knitting. They want change.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

you CAN go back

Also "change is good", "hair is an accessory" or "hello, Graysielocks! "

Three years ago, I looked in the mirror and noticed a few gray hairs. Well, more than a few. Even when "Blondes had more fun", I was never tempted to change my haircolor. Which means I didn't want it changed. Not then. Not now. Not ever. Let's just say Miss Clairol and I became "semi-permanent" friends.

I'm sure lots of people dye their hair with perfect contentment for lots of different reasons. Me, I was spurred on by not wanting to change and by being unnerved that men my age were suddenly showing up with seriously younger women. I've got it figured it's their own version of not wanting to change... "If the person standing next to me isn't old, than I must not be old either."

Well, the relationship I have with Miss C has hit the rocks. I'm sick of her constant whining for attention, "Don't you think your roots are looking a little peaky?" I'm not going back to my original color, I'm going back to my REAL color. Right now that happens to be more salt than pepper. Since I like it long, bring on the Witchy Hair, Nancy.

One of the (hopefully good) side-effects of going back to school with the raw young college crowd has been that I no longer have time to convince people who I am. I no longer have time to tell them to look past their biases and fears. I don't even have time to have my own. My new motto is "I'm smart. So are you. You figure it out." Maybe I've found my niche.

Now has anyone got any ideas on how to deal with the Cruella Deville hair day I'm having? I feel like I've got two choices: boyishly short or weirdly skunk-like.

P.S. You may have noticed the odd time this was posted... Vince is at a midnight-to-6 am lock-in playing LazerQuest with the Boys Scouts. ONE of us realizes the power of a nap and the other one is a true believer in Vault and Mountain Dew. Guess which is which?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

All Football Movies are Chick Flicks

The title of today's post is brought to you by Vince. For "Two Buck Tuesday" I went to see the movie "Invincible" with Mark Wahlberg. (I didn't go to the movie with Mark [sigh]; he's in the movie.) It is a "medium-sized" movie: warm, funny, noble, predictable. Not the kind of movie that would inspire you to change the world, but also not the kind of movie where you want your two hours back. It's loosely the story of Vince Papale and the Philadelphia Eagles of 1975 (loved that 70's soundtrack). When I got home, my Vince was still doing homework in the exact same position on the sofa. I felt a little guilty that I'd been living it up at the movies and here he was struggling through Spanish. I tried to console him with, "It was a chick flick."

That's when he came out with one of those surprising insights that still catch me off guard. He's been doing this since 5th grade; you'd think I'd be used to it by now. In that casual, off-hand way that is second nature to teenagers, the tone that says everybody-but-you-already-knows-this, he drawled, "All football movies are chick flicks."

Maybe he's right. How many football movies have you seen that were Cinderella stories? They just change the shoes -- the rest is all still there: the love story subplot, the wicked linebackers, the downtrodden central character with integrity and heart, the magical unbelievable transformation. The sports movies that aren't patterned after fairy tales are tear-jerkers -- Brian's Song, Pride of the Yankees, Field of Dreams.

It's a marketing ploy. Disguise a sweet, tender story with a little gladiator behavior and you've got a movie for the whole family.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Discipline is Remembering What You REALLY Want

"Discipline is remembering what you REALLY want" -- Pam Young

Think about it. This covers everything. Do you want to earn a college degree? To get more exercise? To get a new job? To lose weight? To wear that unfinished shawl in the gorgeous fall colors that's wadded up on a circular needle in your tote bag?

I can't imagine many cases when the following is an honest-to-goodness, deep-down true statement: "I could never do that. I don't have the self-discipline." It's not a matter of how much or how little self-discipline I have, it's a matter of making choices other than the ones that lead to what I want. I get distracted. I forget where I'm headed. If every time a cookie hovered near my mouth, the thought "I REALLY want to lose weight" sprang to mind, wouldn't that be easy?

Unfortunately, I have a selective memory. I forget I want to have smaller hips and remember how much I like peanut butter cookies. Life is a balancing act, but this week I'm practicing remembering what I REALLY want.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

HB Joan(ie)

You have always been "the pretty one." I say this with great pride, not the least trace of jealousy. (I think we all learned at an early age, "Jealousy is a terrible thing.") The high cheekbones, the thin nose, the straight teeth. It's cool to have a sister who's so pretty. See?

Besides that, you were Mensa fodder from day one -- brilliant, great grades, a whiz with foreign languages -- and to this day, you are forever surprising me with the wild variety of books you read. Anyone who reads The Double Helix and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd with equal gusto is a Renaissance woman.

I never could manage the Farrah Fawcett hair, but you could. (My '80's hair looks remarkably like my '90's hair and my '70's hair...) Aside from the hair, don't we look like twins? (HA)

You are the one puppies love. And grown dogs. And kittens, probably iguanas and certainly little kids. You may have refused the honorific "Aunt"; instead Vincent dubbed you My Joanie and Olivia carries on the tradition.

And here is The Photograph of Joanie. You know, The One. Arguably one of the greatest photos of any of us.

Happy Birthday, Joan(ie). What can I say? You're My Joan(ie) to me, too.

Love, Gail

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dear Mom,

I associate people with their sayings. Grandma Fraleigh's was "Every job needs a good boss." Mine is "You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar."

To me, yours is "Stay away from the river."

OK, so it sounds a bit banal, but I can hardly think of a more loving expression. It was like every time we went down to the park (and we went often), you were saying in an everyday way, "I love you." You never said, "Be good" or "Stay out of trouble" or "Don't embarrass me." You weren't worried about yourself or how our behavior might reflect; you just wanted us to be safe.

But I also think of you like this:

I remember my school friends telling me, "Your Mom is pretty." When looking at this photo, who could deny it?

You baked the best cookies. (Olivia keeps you in top form yet.) You got six little kids ready for church on time every Sunday. You gave us freedom to make decisions and mistakes. You blew out eggs on the last day of school before Easter break and didn't groan (too loudly) when 1/2 of us said, "Oh yeah, I need one too." When we couldn't afford the extra cost of "boys' tennies" that were the height of fashion for 3rd grade girls, you painted my girls' tennies with butterflies and caterpillars. You didn't make just lemonade from your lemons, time and again you made champagne.

You always told us we could so anything, and proved it when you told the principal, "Give me one good reason why my daughter can't take shop..."

You may say you didn't really enjoy sewing, but I remember a parade of dresses with special details, like the little purse that matched the daisy dress I wore on the 5th grade field trip to be on the Noon Show, or the lovely graduation dress you made for Jean.

And I think of you this way, too:


and Adventurous. A good example. Extraordinary. Still trying new things. A great Mom.

Thanks, Mom and Happy Birthday.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I've been thinking about growth lately, maybe because of the trees and the way they're hunkering down for a rest. It is a good time to stop and think of all they've accomplished this summer, not the least of which are the apples still clogging my refrigerator.

We went apple picking west of Leesburg a few weeks ago on a lovely, not-too-hot early autumn day. I can never resist buckets full of apples, especially when the "lowly" Dormins are only $2 a bucket. The orchardist called them "sauce" apples with almost an apology, but they're lovely. Although they turn brown quickly after slicing, they're not too tart, and tastier than the Golden Delicious, Mutsin (sp?), and Gala we also picked. (Ok. I admit it. SOMEbody also picked some Red Delicious. Youthful indiscretion.) Even after the apple cake, the crockpot apple butter (fill your crockpot with peeled, cored, sliced apples. Splash in a little liquid -- cider vinegar, sherry, apple juice, or whathaveyou. Spoon in a couple of teapoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, ginger, alspice... Cook on low for a day or so. If it's too chunky, stick in your mixer. Add some sugar & cook another few hours. Enjoy the aroma. Freeze in small peanut butter jars.) and after the crockpot applesauce (same as above with fewer spices, less sugar, less cooking time and no mixer) and my favorite caramel fried apples (melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, peel and slice in 3 good-sized apples. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup sugar and lastly pour on 1/2 cup water. Let bubble along without stirring until apples are soft. Serve warm on ice cream), we still have a wealth of apples. It's strangely satisfying. I can think of few other things I could spend $20 on that would make me feel as rich.

On a smaller scale, we've moved into the microbiology portion of my class (it's fascinating but makes me want to wash my hands often) and have been talking about growth from the perspective of the wee little bacteria. If you give it all the nutrients its little heart desires (no, wait. It doesn't have a heart... or any other organ, or even a nucleus, but you know what I mean) and you figure out a way to haul off its waste products, this little speck the size of Horton's Whoville could multiply until the mass of all it's offspring would tip the scales against an AIRCRAFT CARRIER. In about 24 hours. How cool is that? It's kind of like the old question, if your Mom gave you a penny allowance and gave you double the previous day's amount each day for a month, how much money would you have? Should you take a thousand dollars a day instead?

Sunday's brat factor email puts it another way. "Growth is free." *

Growth is also good. Not to be confused with girth. I'm talking about mental growth, spiritual growth, emotional growth. Going back to school has been the most amazing thing I've done since 1992. I can't even express how I feel. (Maybe I should take an English comp course next semester?) I've been humming Helen Reddy songs to myself the last few days. Once "I am Woman, watch me roar" gets in your head, it's hard to get it out.

* Disclaimer: University tuition, books, high-speed internet connection, yarn, Curves membership, therapy sessions, knitting classes and handsome journals to keep track of the journey are all extra.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's Apple Season, not blackberry...