Monday, October 30, 2006


I dragged half of the family out to the Yolo Wool Mill for the Mill-In this weekend (the other half were living the good life at Grandma’s house).

The mill is a tiny little outfit just north of Davis, California. They are one of the last places around where you can send a crummy little 10 pound fleece and have it processed into whatever you like, batting, roving, sliver, or all the way to yarn of two or three plies.

They gave tours of their equipment, most of which is vintage 1920s stuff. ‘Cool’ is too mild a word. My husband was positively drooling all over it!

The people were really neat. It was a small but fun gathering of fiber geeks enthusiasts; a handful of vendors with assorted cool things and of course, the mill put out its own yarns and fibers for sale.

Oh-oh-oh! And one of the vendors had done the Irish Diamond Shawl that nearly sucked the soul out of me I finished last year, done in a stunning red tweed.

And now I must knit it again.

In a stunning red tweed.

Thankfully, it was fairly light on the ‘yarn to purchase’ category. I mean, they had lots of yarn there – but mostly it was stuff I’ve already got umpteen tons of so I had very little temptation, really. I did still manage to have a slight llama-related accident:


And also, I bought some roving. It is apparently rather camera-shy, because the pictures I tried to take turned out pretty blech. I got a big bag of cheap stuff (mixed up wool) to practice on, and a small bag of very nice stuff (black and white) that hopefully I can turn into, you know, actual yarn.

On the way home, Danger Mouse’s sweater was finished…


I started a shawl yesterday morning on the theory that I was a little tired of DK-weight sweaters on 3.5mm needles and needed a little breaky-pooh. So I got out the laceweight alpaca and the 5.0mm needles and cheerfully cast on a stunning little example of lacey femininity.

About the 4,206th time I was extracting the laceweight yarn from one of the fissures in my chapped fingers (or peeling it out of a crack in my fingernail), I realized that I am really just not cut out for laceweight yarn. There is a reason why the ladies who produced the incredibly delicate Shetland laces were exempt from housework, and I learned all about it yesterday.

So I cussed and cried and threw my knitting across the room in disgust calmly put away the laceweight alpaca and the 5.0mm needles, and cast on Eldest’s sweater…

Yet Another Norwegian Sweater

Happiness is yarn that is of the same class as oneself.

Laceweight is too fine, too highly bred, too delicate for the likes of me.

I am meant for good old fashioned wool yarn. Stuff that can glide over my fingers, even when as chapped as they are right now from the endless housework and hand-washing that comes with Mommyhood. Stuff that doesn’t cling like the cobwebs I should be scraping off the walls, or catch on every blessed surface as though it were made of Velcro.

I especially love DK-weight wool.

It knits up so nicely on 3.5mm needles…

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My husband, Knitting Stitch Expert

I was reading a pattern, and became baffled by the phrase: “At end of last row, use shawl stitch to affix last stitch to end of shawl.”


I read it again. I went back to the top and read through, envisioning what my hands would be doing at each point. Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha…shawl stitch to affix last stitch to end of shawl…”


“Hey, DH,” I said. “Listen to this…” and I read it aloud.

He pondered for a moment, and then said, “Oh, wait. It’s the last stitch on the last row of a shawl, right?”

“Yes.” My ears were perked up like a happy llama’s. Ah-ha! I thought. I knew it! He’s better with the whole ‘visualize what this will look like’ thing! He’s got The Answer!!

“That’s easy, hon. Just knit it plain, and then you say: ‘That’s shawl, folks!’!!”

And then he dissolved into gales of laughter at his own cleverness.

Before you ask: Yes. Murdering him would nullify our life insurance policy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thick Skin Required

If you are going to deal with children in general, and the preschool set in particular, a thick skin is an absolute necessity. They will say things that are downright hateful, with a blithe unawareness that they have just taken a verbal ax and cleaved your heart in twain.

The good news is, they almost never actually mean it. At least, not in the way you’ve just taken it.

So, when Boo Bug announced last night that she “hated” her new sweater and “never wanted to wear it again, ever-ever-ever!”, I told myself calmly (as I curled up into a fetal ball on the well-trafficked floor of Preschool Room C and stuck my thumb in my mouth) that she was just a wee little lass of four years.

And that she was not in any way dissing me.

And that four year olds are notorious for wanting something just ever-so-much one minute, and then immediately turning around and saying, “No, not that one!”

But still.


For a fleeting moment, I wanted to smack her one. After all that the nagging she did and the begging and the so forth and the so on… “I hate it”? “I never want to wear that thing ever again”?


Collecting myself, I asked her why she didn’t like her sweater.

“Because,” she said calmly. “I wanted the stars on top. Like Danger Mouse’s.”

Ah. I see. Allow me to translate: I felt very loved and important while you were working on MY sweater, but now you’re working on my sister’s and I feel as though I have become a second-class citizen around here.

And also… I am four years old. I want the Dora Playhouse while the commercial is playing, want it bad enough that I will throw myself to the floor, positively prostrate for the lack of it, and then ten minutes later I will insist that I have never even heard of the Dora Playhouse and instead I want this other thing which is now being shown on television.

Plus also…I was mad because you made me carry the sweater when I didn’t want to and my friend’s mommy came earlier than you did and plus also I didn’t want the stupid picture my other friend made but you made me take it anyway and it really pisses me off that you carry Captain Adventure out to the van while I have to walk because I think maybe you love him more and there WERE NO COOKIES in the tray tonight which is really awful because I like cookies. A lot.

So, as I work my way into the yoke of Danger Mouse’s sweater…

It’s no yoke, folks…

…I comfort myself with the following facts:

Boo Bug does, too! like her sweater. She was just generally angry, and is going through a little phase right now where she feels that maybe she isn’t as firmly entrenched in the parental affections as she wants to be.

Danger Mouse likes her sweater, although it has been revealed that she only chose it because she had reasoned that she would get everything on the page, to include the knapsack and hat and! Most important! The baby-doll in matching sweater and wee little knapsack.

Eldest…has forgotten she was even getting a sweater. Which is good, because I sneakily changed the colors she chose, which would have caused any eyeball unfortunate enough to look upon them to bleed.

And my rotten husband is old enough to be told to shut up when he starts whining that I didn’t let him pick his colorway. And to understand that if I’m turning purple, gritting my teeth and balling my hands into fists, this is probably a really good time to find something else to be doing, somewhere else.

Happy weekend, y’all. Hopefully, I’ll have some guilty woolly sin to share with you courtesy of Yolo Mill on Monday…

Thursday, October 26, 2006

OK, it ain’t Rhinebeck, BUT!

This is close(ish) to me, and it’s this weekend, and since I so nobly did not spend $Umpteen Zillion to fly out to New York…I think I just may go.

Yolo Wool Mill

Although I now am amused by what constitutes ‘close’. ‘Close’, it appears, has much less to do with geography as desirability. If this were…a mall, it would be ‘are you crazy?! That’s way too far away!’

Even a yarn store would be ‘too far’. This is an hour and a half of driving each way from my house.

But for even a mini fiber festival?

It’s right next store! Practically in my backyard! Way to close to miss!


My level of delusion astonishes even me...what's worse, I found both of my drop spindles and have been eyeing my spinning wheel...way up on that lonely old ledge...and going, "Hmmmmmmmmmm..."

Procrastination: It’s What’s for Dinner

I am so far behind in planning for the husband’s birthday party, it does not bear thinking about.

So, I’m opting for ‘continue ignoring until the day before the Event’. It works for everything else in life, right?


I mean, granted. It may not work out particularly well. In point of fact, it may be argued that it produces ‘eh’ if not ‘blech’ results, nine times out of ten.

But as an optimist, that means that there is always that tenth time – which surely must be coming up any second now, as the last nine times I haven’t planned very well for Life Events they fell flatter than one of my homemade pancakes (which could be used to slip notes under doors, that’s how thin yet sturdy they are).

I don’t know why I’m having such trouble settling down and actually planning for this thing. I’ve done more planning for Christmas (two months away, only immediate family showing up) than I’ve done for this party (three weeks away, about 75 people expected).

I have not, for example, put together the actual menu. Other than a honkin’ huge bunch of BBQ trays (and purple plates for it), which I did actually go out and order yesterday. But desserts? Vegetarian stuff? Beverages? Umm…well, I’ve got a bunch of vague ideas and notions, but I haven’t sat down and penciled anything in.

I’ve got no…well, project plan. Which is a very unromantic term to use for a birthday celebration, but let’s face it: whether it’s a wedding or building a bridge, the same basic techniques apply. Use them well, and your Whatever has a better chance of pulling together on time, within budget.

Decide you can totally handle it and you’re just a ‘whatever’ kind of gal, and besides all that it’s only the Brooklyn Bridge – how wrong could it possibly go?!



My bad. Forgot all about that whole 'support beam' thing, there...

Unfortunately, I’m finding that ‘knowing I ought to’ and ‘getting off my patookis and getting it done’ are two very different and far-separated things.

But I swear. I’m going to do it.

Just as soon as I finish Danger Mouse’s sweater.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Easy = Good

Don’t get me wrong. I love a challenge. I like things to be a little bit tricky. It makes me feel clever. It makes me feel needed. And useful. Worthy of my salary. And like that.

But sometimes…man, does it ever feel good to just…whoosh through something. Get there quickly, for a change. Like, say, this:

That was fast…

This is Danger Mouse’s sweater, which I cast on two Sundays ago. For comparison purposes, in the same amount of time, I had barely crawled up to the armpits of Boo Bug’s sweater. Sleeves? Ha! They were but a dream! A grand and glorious someday: SOMEDAY, I will get to the part where I knit the sleeves…

I seriously believe I might just finish it this weekend. It’s going that quickly. And also, I am that delusional. Cold medication will do that to one.

I am also toying with taking a sick day for, you know, me. I’ve taken four sick days in the last two weeks to tend sick children, but have been ‘bravely’ (and other euphemisms for ‘stupidly’) been muscling through my own cold on the completely erroneous theory that the world as we know it will simply grind to a halt if I am not at my post for the appointed hours (and then some) each day.

If I were to take a sick day and spend the time on the sofa knitting, this sucker would be done just >>snap!<< like that. Because I’m getting almost three centimeters an hour right now, which in knitting (as in tectonic movement) is Race Day Fast, baby!

And that feels really, really good. I can do it with my eyes closed. I can do it while reading. Or watching SpongeBob. It makes me feel really, really good at this. What, this old thing? Tossed it off in my sleep, honey…

And yet, it is not a boring pattern. Once I finish that second sleeve, wham! Back to multiple colors! This is one of those deals where you do the body up to the armpit, then the two sleeves, then you put it all together and knit up the yoke. It ends up looking like this:

What Danger Mouse wants

See? Interesting! And fun-challenging! In a ‘I can so totally handle this with my eyes closed and my toes crossed’ kind of way!

Also, the black Merino Style is knitting up gorgeously at this gauge. It looks absolutely fabulous, my darlings.

Although I have to admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that things which make me feel clever and knowledgeable and skilled often taken on a rosy glow that easily hides any flaws they may have.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Chaos Emerges

Now my dresser is a mess. But not with stuff that came out of the closet.

It’s all New and Improved Stuff.

I have…a big bag of clothes that need to be returned to a store that is just far enough out of town to be ‘too far for a weekday’. A big bag. Let’s just say that apparently the lighting is better (worse?) at the store and they looked a lot better when I tried them on there.

And, another fair-sized bag containing a sweater that needs repairing.

And also, a little girl dress that needs hemming.

Three Halloween costumes in various stages of disassembly, thither placed for their own protection until the Grand and Glorious Day That Is Even Better Than Christmas. (Halloween retains this title until November 1 – after that, nothing is better than Christmas until Easter.)

Plus also a few scattered mateless wee little socks.

And two books.

And maybe several month’s worth a couple knitting magazines.


My ‘zone mission’ for tomorrow per the Flylady is my nightstands, which are to be decluttered and dusted.


The nightstands are free and clear and were even dusted accidentally when I set a bunch of clean clothes on them after I ran out of space on the bed last week recently.

…I am such an awesome housekeeper…

Monday, October 23, 2006

The (Not So Silent) Majority Speaks!


Mommy is still staring at a spreadsheet and only half-hears the little voice coming from the tiny crack between the door and the frame.

“Psst! Mommy!”

Mommy tears her attention away from the spreadsheet. There is a tiny angelic face framed in the doorway – and by ‘angelic’, I mean, ‘is dressed in her Halloween costume, which is an angel complete with halo and sparkly wand’.

“What’s up, kid?”

“Are you done working yet?”

“No, sweetheart. Did you need something?”

“No, only we took a poll, and we decided it was time for you to stop working now. Because the news is almost on, and we want some juice and also some cheese and maybe some crackers.”

Well. Since it was decided by democratic method…

Head’s up on health insurance

Open enrollment season is upon us. An excellent article regarding same was put forth by David Bach of Automatic Millionaire fame: Eight Steps to Better Health Insurance.

Good information, good advice, pretty easy to read.

Me like.

A closet in need of fairies

Things like this sneak up on me. I tend to be very focused on areas like the kitchen, the playroom…places the sun streams down upon.

But closets and other ‘hidden’ areas like cabinets have a way of “suddenly” and “mysteriously” turning into…well, this:

What the HECK?!


I was sure it was going to be a two-day job…But it wasn’t. Two hours.

Amazing how fast these things can go, when you are a) determined and b) focused.

It’s really very easy to tackle even the most horrific of closets, which this isn’t. I wish I could show you pictures of what my first apartment looked like before suddenly I realized that I hated living that way – THOSE were some ugly closets! And bedrooms! And kitchen!! And, well, the whole thing was a hazard to life, limb, and psyche.

Actually, I lied. I’m glad I have no pictures of it. It is downright humiliating to admit that I lived in such utter squalor that even I didn’t want to eat things that came out of my fridge.

The part that makes this kind of cleaning up hard is that we humans tend to think too much. We get emotional about it. We rationalize why we need it, or how simple it would be to fix/alter it in such a way that we could use it again, or try to remember why we bought in the first place, or worry about how much it cost – or how much it would cost to replace it.

Inevitably, once you start thinking about these things…you might as well give up on cleaning the closet. It isn’t going to happen.

I take a moment to harden my heart before I begin these things. Clear my mind of the history of an item, and put myself only into the present. Do I now love this thing and want to keep it? Do I currently wear it? Is it only missing a button, or are we talking about a ‘first, I’ll take out this seam, then…’ kind of project to make it wearable? Because that is something that just ain’t never gonna happen. Oh, I mean well. And at the time, I’m ever-so-certain I actually will do it. But history has shown, again and again and again and again, that I won’t ever get around to it.

And I remind myself (repeatedly) that nothing in this world is permanent. All things will return to dust, eventually. All things deserve to be appreciated and used until that point – if I am not going to appreciate and use them, it is my duty to pass them on to the next phase of their existence. So those 7.5” strappy heels I bought in a moment of complete self-unawareness, that I can’t even look at without my bunions curling up and screaming in agony? Do they deserve to be punished in my closet with a tedious existence of being shoved impatiently aside as I search for my flats?

No, they do not.

So as I start sweeping into the closet (or whatever), it’s a quick decision. Each item I touch takes less than a second to decide – and no second guessing!! Keep! Toss! Or Donate!! I’m right about 99% of the time with my first instinct on something. It’s only when I start second guessing that things get another year in the purgatory that is my closet.

It took me just over two hours to go from that up there to this:


That brown stuff on the floor? That’s carpet. Actual carpet. I mean, I had heard we had carpet in that closet, but frankly it was kind up there with Sasquatch on the “proof” side.

I had three bottles of Windex up there, two of them with just a wee little squidge at the bottom and one half full. Combine and ditch the empties. I had two bottles of tub-n-tile from when I was experimenting with brands – these two were losers. Didn’t work well, and SMELLED REAL BAD into the bargain. So, I’m keeping them because…? O-U-T, OUT!

I also had the tax return documents for 1996 and 1997 in there (the world will never know why), and a bunch of my college essays (geesh) and several binders worth of college-ruled paper (hmm) and also a huge stack of papers belonging to the husband.

And, the usual piles of candles, some soap making supplies (which have their own bin downstairs with the crafts), a box of sugary contraband I had taken away from Danger Mouse over a year ago, three mostly empty bottles of Rite-Aid brand nail polish remover (combined, they made about half a bottle), and a plethora of wee little whatnots that I had shoved up on the shelf in moments of ‘mom’s coming over in X minutes!’ panic and never gotten around to putting back where they actually went.

Added bonus: I found a bottle of Liquid Plumber ‘Sink Snake’, which I poured into my reluctant bathroom sink – the one I was threatening to take apart myself in spite of a proven track record of creating statewide disasters merely by thinking of touching plumbing of any sort. Though allowed to work for over an hour before being thoroughly flushed with hot water, it didn’t work.

Until last night, when I turned on the faucet to demonstrate to my husband that it didn’t work (and hence, the sink was still something he was being nagged about) and…it drained just fine. Swoosh! No gurgle! No hesitation! No backing up at all!!

Hoooookay. It did that just so I could get one of my husband’s patented, “You are so cute when you try these DIY projects!” look.

I also put together the following pile of goodies for Worthy Causes:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There are some really beautiful things in there. Dress shirts and suits and baby things…lovely stuff, really. But stuff I haven’t worn since forever ago, stuff my husband hasn’t worn in years, shoes that honestly – never were any good for me. Just off camera is a set of redundant luggage we’ve kept around in case…I dunno. In case…we get a divorce and need two sets of bags.

All of these things can now leave my hands and go on to do good deeds. They can earn money for the worthy causes through their thrift stores, and then be enjoyed by people who will actually wear or use them.

And I am now free to move about the closet. I can vacuum the carpet! I can take things off the shelf without fear of avalanche! And I can feel good, really good, about every single thing that is in there. It all belongs, now.

And belonging is good, my friends. Belonging is very good indeed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

WHAT boxes of yarn?

My husband uttered the following words, in the following order: “So, is it OK if I throw away that yarn out in the shed?”

I will give you a moment to recover from the shock. No, I can’t believe he’d even ask such a thing, either. And yes, it is technically permissible to use those words in that order. I checked.

Even more surprising is the fact that I did, indeed, give the blessing to throwing away a fairly considerable amount of yarn. Which is not actually yarn-yarn. You know. Yarn-for-knitting.

This was yarn-for-…I don’t know, exactly. Creating your own sandpaper? Developing bullet-proof shawls? The only use I ever found for this stuff was making rugs – and it was about as pleasant as knitting with steel wool.

I have hated that wool with a mad passion ever since it arrived. Let’s just say that sometimes, a sample card does not paint a true and accurate picture of a yarn. But it was 100% wool and thus I kept it. In case the social order broke down and all the local sheep died leaving me adrift in a post-LYS apocalypse with no wool yarn. (This is why I also keep my drop spindles, spinning wheel, and hand carders – in case the social order breaks down and I am forced to do all this myself rather than, in the unlikely event that a fleece lands on my doorstep [which has actually happened, more than once], sending it out to be washed and combed into roving.)

But the other yarn? Which I had forgotten was even out in the shed? (Well. Partial fib, there – I had in fact just said musingly to myself, “Don’t I have a big old cone of white cotton suitable for dish towels out in the shed?”

Why, yes! But no!

Not “a” cone.

Most like…six cones. And another eight cones in ‘natural’. Plus also the missing box of remnant wool balls in assorted colors that were way too much to toss yet somehow never quite enough for whatever project I had in my brain, the box I was sure I had kept, but couldn’t find and had eventually assumed had been maliciously snuck out of the house from beneath my very nose in the dead of the night on moon-dark by my horrible husband who doesn’t understand me at all mislaid in one of our infrequent cleaning spasms.


I put it out in the shed, apparently.

I already had achieved SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy).

Now I need a new acronym, which sums up hoarding not only beyond one’s life expectancy, but that of one’s children and children’s children.

And also, I need to stop giggling like this and clutching the colorful little lost balls to my bosom.

The children are getting jealous.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A pause to expose my Green Beast

Right now, even as I type this, waiting for my cold medicine to kick in and the next eight minutes to go by so I can walk a couple blocks down and one block over to pick up two of the Denizens from a birthday party, there are other people at NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, a.k.a., Rhinebeck.

I envy them, each and every one. I could spit in their hot cocoa, that’s how jealous I am. That I have a nasty cold rapidly developing just adds ‘…and mean’ to my jealousy.

I have tried looking on the bright side. I have tried thinking about how much money I’m saving by not going. I’m thinking about how I so do not need to add spinning to my list of hobbies I don’t have time to tend as I’d like. I’m telling myself repeatedly that I have plenty, tons, scads, even! of yarn already.

I don’t need more.

I don’t need to start making the stuff, for goodness sakes. I can just see me, hunched over my computer in the dead of night, secretly putting in bids on eBay for fluffy boxes of sexily dyed roving.

So it’s altogether a good thing that I have missed the California and Oregon fiber festivals, and that I couldn’t bring myself to part with a few hundred (thousand) dollars to fly out to New York state from California to immerse myself in pure wool-scented sin temptation.

But all you guys who got to go? Y’all know who you are…the ones who have blogged eagerly about it for, like, ever, who crowed excitedly about how you wouldn’t be blogging this weekend because you’re going to be at @*^&ing Rhinebeck, who will undoubtedly be posting endless glorious digital pictures of the unbelievable wool you got in these unbelievable colors at {angels singing, streaming light from heaven} Rhinebeck?

…just keep an eye on your hot cocoa.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The pattern for Boo Bug’s sweater…

…came from Dale of Norway #136 - here available from Kidsknits.

It also has a little skirt or pants you could knit up to match. And also a hat.

I’m considering the hat.

But the skirt is right. out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Though I’d rather hang by my thumbs…

Oh goody! I’ve decided that the Fun! and Exciting!! THING to be DOING this weekend is the ritualistic purging of our master bedroom closet.

{monotone} However will I survive the excitement…{/monotone}

But still, I am exaggerating. I would not, in fact, rather hang by my thumbs than do this. I’d say my actual level of ‘would rather’ on this is somewhere along the lines of… ‘would rather go to DMV in person to renew my driver’s license’.

All of which is just avoiding the actual topic.

What I’d actually like to have happen is this. I would like to wake up Sunday morning and find that the Closet Fairies have visited me in the night.


That would be nice.

I’d like the Closet Fairies to have gone through my closet, hauled out and disposed of all the clothes I keep because otherwise I wouldn’t have a white button down work shirt, or because the grease spot isn’t that noticeable, or because while they never seem to be what I want to wear today, I might want to wear them, you know, sometime.

I’d also like them to weed out all the shoes I keep saying I will wear someday when my feet aren’t so butt-ugly and/or I have remembered to get a pedicure, as well as the ones I keep on the basis that I don’t have another pair like them and that sometimes, a girl just needs to have a pair of ancient, dilapidated, filthy and otherwise disreputable sandals. You know. For those times when you want to look bad from head all the way down to your toes, peeking out from beneath fraying faux leather straps.

If while they were at it they could go through all the crap on the shelves in there, that would be awesome. Maybe toss about half of that piano sheet music I never have played and never will play, the “mostly” empty bottles of cleansers, the antediluvian candles someone gave me for a gift that I keep because, hey! “G-I-F-T!”, you don’t throw away a GIFT, what kind of unloving person are you, anyway?! Just because they are so old they have turned that funky yellow color and the scent has gone vaguely ucky does not make it any less disrespectful for me to finally give them the old heave-ho.

I read a beautiful statement about that recently…where was it…oh yes. An article at Dollar Stretcher article, Stuff!, regarding the process of decluttering your house:

Lesson 5: Laugh that you still feel guilty for never using that cute tea set grandma gave you eight Christmases ago even though you never have (and never will) like tea. Your obligation to a gift-giver ends after a proper expression of thanks. (Emphasis mine.)

That particular quirk of behavior has always fascinated me. Things like, “Quick! Auntie Mee-Mee is coming over, get out that ghastly thing she crocheted for us eight years ago!”, or the way I hold onto rose scented bath oils and stuff for decades rather than toss them purely because my mom gave them to me.

Even though I know my mom understands that I appreciated the gift even if I didn’t use it, and that she would heartily endorse me cleaning out my closet, and furthermore that it was hardly like she went out and bought the Cadillac of Bath Salts.

Unfortunately, the Closet Fairies are booked solid clear through a week after never, so it’s up to me to do all of that. Myself.


What makes it even worse, of course, is that I want the cleaned out closet. See, if this were something my mother was telling me I ‘had’ to do, or something my husband was stomping his feet about, or something some Evil Overlord had decreed: Behold, throughout the land, I demand that people everywhere purge their closets of useless crap they neither need nor want!, I’d be able to stomp my own feet, stick out my tongue, and suggest that they can jolly well do it themselves, thank YOU!

But no.

It’s just me, sick and tired of having things fall on my head every time I take the iron down from the shelf. Sick and tired of staring at a closet stuffed to the gills with clothes, yet having nothing I want to actually wear. Sifting through fifteen bottles of ‘too empty to squirt anymore’ cleansers in search of something I could actually use to clean my shower.

I want a clean closet.

But I don’t want to actually do the work.


Being a grownup really bites sometimes, you know it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two (mostly) down, three to go…

Behold! The glory that is the (mostly) finished sweater for Boo Bug:

Mostly Finished Sweater!

That’s right! Last night, while Brian Williams told me just how rotten things were around the globe, I knuckled down and finished the collar! Yay, me! I’m so-so proud of me, because Danger Mouse’s sweater is in full swing and I’m on the part that is so utterly mindless (go around and around and around in one color until it measures 27 centimeters) that it becomes the default knitting of choice whenever my attention is divided; whereas the ‘pick up X stitches per Y centimeters, making sure the final number is divisible by 6+1’ thing is a little…more…uh…

Well. Let’s tell it like it is: even if I had been giving the project my full and undivided attention (and nothing has gotten my full and undivided attention since about 1994), I couldn’t possibly have hit that dead on. So I picked up as many stitches as seemed to make sense, focusing more on making sure I was picking up neatly, evenly, and in a manner that wouldn’t cause a pucker around the collar, then counted them, divided by six, and when I did the first row added in the two stitches I needed to get to ‘divisible by 6+1’.


I cheated.

I am shameless. Sue me. It works and I’m pretty sure that nobody will ever pick it up, look at the collar and say, “Ah-HA! I see you used a simple backward loop to add a stitch! Here! And here! SINNER! Thou didst not pick up a multiple of 6, plus one! GET THEE BEHIND ME!!!”

I’m pretty sure, anyway.

My favorite part about this sweater has got to be the picot edging at the bottom of the sweater and the cuffs of the sleeves. It just charms the socks off me.

The only thing I’m not particularly thrilled about is likely my fault – I don’t like the way the placket ended up. It looks OK, but when you feel it…it’s thick, and a bit lumpy. While it does provide a certain rigidity to the opening, I’m not sure I like it there. “Sweater” and “rigid” just don’t go together, according to my lexicon.

Oh. Hey. This reminds me. I did take pictures of the cutting process. Here’s the first thing you do, whump up your favorite kind of this:


(This is vodka, peach schnapps, orange and (real, unsweetened, not-cocktail) cranberry juices.)

Then, to do the steeks, you run some machine stitches along the outer edges and cut right up between them, like this:


Then sit down with that first thing and calm your nerves a bit.

Now that all this part is done, all I need to do is get the clasps on it. If all goes according to plan (stop laughing – I can totally hear you!), I’ll get those on tonight.

Then Boo Bug can wear it to school tomorrow.

And by this time tomorrow, it’ll be crammed under the seat of the van or forgotten in the school play yard – this being the way Boo Bug expresses her ‘I will love it forever and ever’ feelings toward everything from French fries to stuffed animals.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's all about control, baby!

The Flylady has a holiday control journal that by golly looks an awful lot like the kinds of things I have in my binder. Check it out: Holiday Control Journal (first link on the left opens the PDF).

Skip down to about page 9. See what she’s doing there? This same approach works whether you’re working on something small (like, say, a birthday party for your goofy husband) or something ginormous (like early retirement, debt elimination, getting a new career, having your mother-in-law over).

What do I need or want? List it out. Don’t worry about having the whole list, a perfect list, every single thing you could ever possibly want or need in exactly the right order. Just get it down!

Go back up to page 7. This is where what is on the list is getting put into action in a proper order. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with all the list items, they’re broken out into bite-sized chunks spread out over many days or weeks, months or even years.

Check out page 10. Beautiful. No forgetting all about those stupid brussel sprouts your mother-in-law adores. Recipes follow. Shopping list. Gift giving / making guide. Shipping. Traveling. All together in a single place – in my binder, I’d put it in one of the numbered tabs as it’s own little project.

The one thing I do that I don’t see here is to actually schedule time for each activity in the calendar. So I’d take this and say, Hmm, so, ‘several weeks’ ahead of time I want to have the kids make their own wrapping paper

Flip to my calendar, which is of course in the same binder. Back up a few weeks from Wrapping Day. Let’s call it…December 4.


Make it an appointment. On December 4, which I note is an ‘early release day’, I now have an appointment with my children shortly after they get home. A fifteen-twenty minute break in my day to get out the supplies, provide instruction, and turn them loose on the project. (And since my craft closet is at least mostly-partially organized, I can lay my hands on the paper, paints, aprons and brushes with my eyes closed. Which is how I prefer to approach the craft closet anyway, lest I become distracted by yarn stash.)

It might feel a little obsessive-compulsive, but I personally find it avoids all kinds of freaked out behavior when I sit down with my calendar and schedule things out. The more on top of it I am with my calendar, the better off I am. Nothing causes me to hyperventilate like realizing that somehow I thought I could get twenty-seven hour-long tasks done, during a work week, the week before Thanksgiving.

But if I’m scheduling them as they occur to me – it becomes real obvious, real fast. The month at a glance gets crowded – the minute I’m turning my binder sideways so I can use all of a day’s block on the month calendar for ‘notes’, a reality check is in order. And if I’m looking at a single day’s page and getting high from the ink fumes, it’s definitely time to drop back and regroup.

And hey – tell you something else. It’s OK to say, “No.”


“No. This year, I’m not going to be making that layered salmon puff pastry thing that takes fourteen hours and an encyclopedia’s worth of cussing.”

“No. I can’t bring meat pies for eighty people to the parent-teacher association meeting.”

“No. I’m not going to attempt to make my own ribbons using recycled shopping bags and Sharpies in assorted festive colors. I’m going to buy the damned things at WalMart. Ho ho ho, people.”

Just because you did these things last year, or every year for the last forty-seven thousand years, does not mean that you have some kind of sainted obligation to do them forever.

As long as you get it out there right away rather than waiting until the last second to meltdown on people, they’ll get over it. Honest. I can’t tell you how often I say ‘no’ to everybody from the ‘luncheon coordinator’ at school to yes, even my favorite charities. They don’t mind. I say ‘yes’ a lot, too. They’d rather I say ‘no’ right up front than say ‘sure, ok, fine, no problem’ and then turn into a weeping basket case two days before they need it.

And by the way: those who don’t get over it? Those who are more interested in what they can get from you than your sanity and stability? The ones who will make your life a living hell, cold shoulder you, carry on about how you’ve let the ENTIRE WORLD DOWN by SELFISHLY REFUSING to {insert demand on your time and energy and wallet here}?

Ummmm…question? You’re letting them run (ruin) your life because…? The problem, friends, is theirs. Not yours.

True friends and family, those who really love you, are more interested in seeing you than your precious little pecan pies, and would rather have a holiday full of love and laughter with you over KFC takeout than have you locked in your bathroom sobbing hysterically because there are {gasp, shock, horror!} lumps in your homemade gravy! Or because {oooooh, the drama of it all!} you forgot to put ribbons on the staircase!

Even $DEITY will forgive you the sacrilege of not having Martha-ized your holidays. I know this because I have a burning bush in my backyard which speaks to me regularly. “Tama,” the Burning Bush said recently. “Behold! I shall not smite My children for not making themselves crazy people this holiday season. And while I have your attention, would you mind making a few dozen cherry pies for the Angel-Sinner convention we’re having next week…?”

Hmm. Memo to me: Need fire extinguisher for bush in backyard…

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tactical Error du Jour

I made banana muffins for breakfast this morning. Lovely, moist, warm banana muffins with a hidden bonus of wheat germ for health-content.

Which I promptly counteracted by dusting the tops of them with brown sugar before baking, which gives them a sweet, crunchy top.

Baked for twenty minutes.


Removed from pan.

Put on a big plate.

Left the plate in the middle of the table, surrounded by smaller plates.

Told the Denizens to go downstairs and get themselves a muffin while I was getting Captain Adventure ready.

Which involved going back upstairs for pants that actually fit the child, and then sitting with him and a sippy cup of milk while he decided whether or not he was going to pitch a Mondo Tantrum of Doom because of the delay.

The observant among you will note that this left the muffins unattended for a period of nearly twenty minutes.

Then, saying brightly, “OK, you want a muffin now? Muf-FIN? For Captain Adventure? Muf-FIN?”, I stood, turned and whaaaaaaaaaaaat? There’s only one (1) lonely muffin sitting on the plate?

Slowly, my eyes flicked from the big plate to each of the smaller ones. Eldest: one half-chewed muffin on plate, one muffin in tummy. Danger Mouse: two muffins on plate, one half-eaten. Boo Bug…

…had eaten the sugary tops only of seven muffins.



And yet, the implacable law insists it is illegal for me to sell them on eBay…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dear $DEITY, I’m a total floozy!

So, Froggie Meanie mentioned today that, and I quote, I received a project in the mail last Friday from the yarn company I home work for…

WAH! How come I don’t get to do that? I could so totally do that!!

Because I love to knit, I’m rather proud of my knitting, and am too poor to support my habit would be happy to share my enthusiasm and skill with desperate worthy designers in need of a second pair of eyeballs and hands. You know. ‘Test knitting’.

So I thought, Hmm. I wonder if there’s, like, a…job board…or something…for test knitters…

And I went and looked and by golly! Sometimes people even get paid to test knit patterns! Wow! What a concept!!

Most of the time, it appears they don’t. They get to keep the pattern, and the leftover yarn. And the joy of having knit something in a sexy yarn that would have set them back $200-300-500. Even though they have to put that thing right into an envelope and mail it back to the designer.

I’d be OK with that. Yes. Throw me some scrap yarn and a cool (or not cool, I’m not that proud) pattern and I’m your needle-slave.

And then it hit me.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee may be a Yarn Harlot, but I am a simple, shameless floozy. I don’t even care if I get paid for it.

I just want to lie down and roll around in sexy yarn. Even if it isn't technically my sexy yarn.

It’s just so…unspeakably sordid…oh, the shame…the shame

Laundry, Laundry, everywhere…

I subscribe to the Flylady. Yes, that’s right! I get about sixteen emails a day from the lovely ladies at Flylady, who with many a ‘LOL’ and :) tell me we’re all going to be OK and we just need to take a deep breath, lace up our shoes and take on the CHAOS one baby step at a time.

I love her. Get a little tired of the endless testimonials (“ooooh, I just love my feather duster LOL it’s so awesome LOL and you’re awesome LOL and I’m awesome LOL I just love it all so much LOL!”) (oh gak!), but overall I love the method and appreciate reminders about things I tend to forget all about…like washing the kitchen trash can and sweeping off the porch once in a while.

One of the things she recommends is doing a load of laundry every day. This, she insists, will keep the CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome) away.


See, normally, I do laundry once a week. Pick a day, do the laundry. It doesn’t have to be Thursday or anything like that – as long as it is between five and eight days of the last laundry day, we’ll be fine. Six is ideal.

So on Laundry Day, I go through the house and toss down all the dirty stuff. Sheets, towels, hamper contents…down it goes, into a big pile in the hall by the laundry room. How big a pile? About…like this:

Be afraid…be VERY afraid…

That’s about five days worth of towels, sheets, socks, dresses, jeans, and business attire, friends. Scary, huh? Yeah. And yeah, before I brought it all downstairs, the ‘laundry storage areas’ were getting a bit on the hairy side. But it isn’t really as horrible as it looks.

It took me about five minutes to do a fast sort of the clothing into “stuff that will benefit from warm water wash” and “stuff for which cold is the only option” and the tiny pile of “stuff that must be washed on Uber Delicate and/or Line Dried”.

That whole pile will make about five loads, in my New! Wonderful! Uber! Ginormous! Washer-that-I-love-so-much-it-is-slightly-obscene!

Throughout the day, when the dryer beeps I take about a ten minute break from whatever else I was doing. Rotate the loads, fold the dry stuff, sorting as I go into Final Destination stacks. Neatly folded stacks, as far as the eye can see! When the last load comes out of the dryer, I’ll take an hour to really handle the issue. Take each stack upstairs and put it where it belongs, whether on the foot of the bed for an older child to put away with her own lily-white hands (yes, yes, yes!!) or into my own closet or what have you.

Meanwhile, the iron heats up so I can iron the wrinkly things QUICK! (I can get one of my husband’s shirt done every ninety seconds…and yes, I clocked me…) and hey! Lookit that!!

It’s all done. All of it. And I don’t have to worry about it for another five days, minimum.

But then the Flylady tells me a load a day is the way to go and I thought to myself, thought I, Self! Give it a try! Who knows, it might be GREAT!

Or…it could end up that…there is always a load of sodden things in the washer, a wrinkly nightmare in the dryer, and clean clothes I haven’t gotten around to folding and/or putting away piled all over my dresser. And somehow, I never got around to the ironing at all, so now I’ve got this closet-jamming pile of work shirts and linen dresses (!) that need a good ironing. And they’re extra wrinkly, because they sat in the washer overnight, and then the dryer overnight. Plus, I feel like I've been doing the laundry ALL WEEK, and yet there are NO. CLEAN. SOCKS. IN. THIS. HOUSE!!!


It doesn’t work for me.

Which is the point of my sermon today. There’s a lot of advice out there, good, bad and indifferent, on every subject from how to fold a t-shirt to how to make a zillion dollars overnight on the Internet without even owning a computer!. There’s perfectly good advice that is bad for you personally; and bad advice for the general population that might actually be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Take the advice for what it’s worth. Give it the old college try if it makes sense to you. If it works, hallelujah! If not, don’t worry about it. Move on. Don’t think the problem is in you, somehow, and that you’re either a lost cause or just not ‘getting it’.

If the ‘batch method’ of laundry works for you, cool. If a ‘load a day’ floats your canoe, fantastic.

The important thing, what I want you to remember and take away with you today, is that having clean socks and underwear available when you want them, regardless of what laundry method makes them possible, makes the world a better place for all concerned.

So. Get to the laundry, friends, in whatever fashion gives you the most inner peace. Together, we will make this world a better place for all! One crummy sock at a time...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Self-Punishment, in all its forms

I can’t decide which is worse. Punishing myself with chores, or punishing myself by refusing to do them.

I occasionally suffer from fits of ‘how come this is my job?’. And I will say that this time, darn it, and I really mean it!, I’m not going to {cook dinner, put away the laundry, clean the toilet, pick up the dirty socks}.

I’m going to get someone else in the Den to do it, for once.

…I will give you a moment to recover from your hysterical laughter…

The problem here is obvious. I can stand there nagging until the sun goes super-nova, and I truly believe that nobody in this house would so much as pick up a single candy wrapper off the floor.

Worse, I can’t decide which makes me more upset: having to do all the danged chores, or nagging myself hoarse trying (with limited success) to get someone else to do them.

And worse still, I know I can’t just live with the result of the chores not getting done. I really am the one who suffers the most when things are in A State around here. I’m the one who feels physically ill when confronted by a paper-strewn hallway, or is unable to string two thoughts together when the kitchen counter is under two layers of dishes, or who finds herself tossing and turning all night because she can sense the piles of laundry mocking her from downstairs.

I’m the one who suffers from deep and burning :::SHAME::: should anyone come over and see piles of dirty dishes in my sink, or an unclean bathroom, or a layer of paper six inches thick across every flat surface in the house.

My husband doesn’t have any of these issues. He can blithely step over a pair of jeans left on the bathroom floor for at least six days. Possibly more. I don’t know, because six days was as long as I could go before I physically blocked his path and demanded to know if he ever intended to pick up his @*^&@ing jeans.

At which point, he turned, looked at the jeans as if he had never in his life beheld them before!, said, “Oh, uh-huh…”, and attempted to flick them into the hamper without using his hands.



He can have his very own mother over for a visit and not be a bit embarrassed if, say, he doesn’t feed his children anything but fish sticks for three days. He could have the heads of every state in the world over for a meeting and not feel a bit disturbed that he had to shove a stack of magazines to one side to make just barely enough room for a teapot for the Viceroy of Unga-Dunga-Dim.

Whereas I would be forced to go jump off a bridge from the shame of it all.

You see the subtle difference between us?

It isn’t that he isn’t willing to do it. He’ll do it, sure, he’ll do it! He’s always very charming, always agreeable, always ready to help you out any way he can!

After, of course, you’ve asked him to do it. Twice. And reminded him a few times. And asked if he was planning to that soon. And threatened to call a handyman to do it. (“You’re going to call Ralph the Handyguy, to take out the kitchen trash?!”). And sent him a few emails at work. And a singing telegram. And stapled a neon Post-It to his forearm.

It’s at this point that I often leave ‘reminding’ and enter ‘nagging’. And nagging is swiftly followed by outright whining. And whining leads to anger, resentment, and feeling invisible, inaudible, ignored, and unloved.

Eventually I have to decide: which is going to be worse for me, wallowing in my anger and resentment, or just @*^&@ing taking care of the problem myself?

Now. I told you all that, so I can tell you this.

I have been asking, reminding, nagging, pleading, and otherwise kvetching about the upstairs bathroom sink for a long, long time. I think the, uh, you know, that…thing?...under the sink?...I think it’s got a clog or something. It burbles in the night. Liquid Plumber does nothing.

Unfortunately, my husband is trying to put together a British Isles session night here in town for Irish at a local coffeeshop or something and is alas unable to do anything other than work, and try to put together sheet music for the musicians he’s hoping to attract. If he’s not doing the one, he’s doing the other. Or he’s working out the puzzles in Goldrush.

Which means that I have to decide whether or not I should continue to be furious with him for abandoning me on this, or just handle it.

My utter ineptitude when it comes to Things Plumbing is well-documented. I may be putting the entire clean water supply of the San Joaquin valley in jeopardy by attempting to do something about that burble. Seriously. Toilets have been known to spontaneously back up in my presence. Faucets have erupted wildly because I thought about twiddling with them. Gaskets openly mock me.

So the idea of me getting under that sink with a wrench and attempting to figure out what is caught up where under there…well. It might be considered an act of domestic terrorism. Or astonishing stupidity.

But I am just self-absorbed enough to need closure on it, one way or another.


If you were planning a visit to the San Joaquin valley any time soon?

Uh…don’t drink the water.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hmm…fascinating, Captain…

You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

So, uh, quick question: Why am I not working for Google and making Google-ishious money?

The KIPer bag

OK, Pam, this is the bag system, which I got from KnitPicks:

From KnitPicks: KIPer Bag

I got the whole set, so I’ve got everything from that ‘carry-on’ sized thing to the cut little ‘normal human being’ handbag size. The smallest-but-one is the actual purse, with slots for credit cards and zippered bill holder and such; the smallest one is where I’ve tucked my tape measure, stitch markers, band-aids and hand lotion and so forth.

When you trade project bags, you simply take the purse part off the project bag and snap it to the front of the project bag, grab that smallest thing for your notions, and you’re set. And if, for example, you’re going to lunch with coworkers and don’t want to take the whole tote? Just take the purse off the project bag and viola – a clutch! (Or you can attach that honkin’ huge strap to the wee little purse and look extra fashion-impaired.)

I do love it. I’ve got a sock in the smallest one, the remainder of the yarn for Boo Bug’s sweater in the next size up, and then that great big one is the one I used yesterday because I could put my laptop (in protective padding sheathe), and my Covey planner, and the yarn and needles and other mayhem for Danger Mouse’s sweater in it.

Sweeeeeeeet. It’s too big for real life, actually (unless you’re most of the way through an afghan or something) – but for this purpose it was perfect.

I’ve got a slightly defective latch on this big bag; it gives way under even slight pressure. All the project bags will let go of the purse if you give it a really hard tug, but on this big bag, one of the latches gives up the moment any pressure is put on it at all. While the other latch and two magnetic clasps held the purse on…well. I’m paranoid about such things. Because it would be totally just my luck to get off the train, be halfway to the bus and only then realize that my purse was still on the @*^&@ train…now chugging contentedly onward to Points South.

So I took apart one of those beefy binder clips and passed the metal handle through the hole in the clasp on the inside of the purse. Worked like a charm. It worked so well that, being paranoid, I might just use it all the time on all the latches. Even though it does take a really determined tug to get the purse off without opening it and lifting them.

Paranoia: It’s a way of life!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mess transit

Don’t get me wrong. I love mass transit. In point of fact, I rather stubbornly refuse to drive myself to work, on those increasingly rare occasions that I go into the office. I drive to the train station (5-10 minutes, depending on traffic lights), and then I get out and settle in for the long haul. Train #1 (45 minutes), Bus (15 minutes), Train #2 (45 minutes).

At night, it’s Train #3 (45 minutes), Bus (30 minutes or so, depending), Train #4 (about an hour, depending).

And I like it that way. I read. I knit. I don’t think evil thoughts about what I’d like to do to my fellow human beings for cutting me off, driving that idiotic vehicle, or otherwise irking me as I stall and stumble my way through the freeway system to work.

However. This morning got a little silly. I got on train #1, only to discover that #1 had mechanical problems. Top speed for the day: 35 miles an hour.

There were moments when I thought I might have made better time on foot.

But the beauty of taking the train for me is this: I didn’t have to freak out. I was late, and growing later. But unlike in my car, where I feel as though I ought to have some control over Things…shoot. I’m along for the ride.

Late. And OK with that.

Besides! I got some knitting done!! Behold, the bottom of Danger Mouse’s sweater!!

Less than an inch but daily growing

I know. It doesn’t look like much. But before I had this, I had to:

Do two gauge swatches, one with 3.5mm (no gauge, boo, hiss!) and one with 3.0mm (Yay! Gauge!)

Drop my pattern.

Drop my measuring tape.

Drop my stitch marker.

Twice. Interesting program note: a 'bead' style stitch marker can really make some distance when dropped on a roiling train floor.

Realize I had cast on with the 3.0mm instead of the 2.5mm I was supposed to use for the ribbing.

Knit another half-round while pondering whether or not I cared enough to rip it out

Rip out

Roll up used yarn.

Cast on again, this time on the 2.5mm needles.

Discover that one of the hooks on this particular KIPer bag doesn’t work quite right and jury-rig a solution.

THEN, knit up these few rounds of knit one, purl one ribbing.

So you see, I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit more than might be apparent in this wee little .75” of ribbing.

I have started Danger Mouse’s sweater because I have finished Boo Bug’s. Except that I still need to run the machine stitches along the steeks, cut them, attach the sleeves, pick up and knit the placket and the neckband, turn and stitch down the hem and put on the lauded clasps.

But obviously – I’m not going to be doing all that on the train. Please. Don’t lets be any crazier than we already are! And for gosh only knows what reason, I didn’t want to take a simple little sock on the train.

No. I wanted to bring this. And I did. And I started it. And I only feel mostly insane for so doing.

Which has got to count for something.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wild, Wild Den of Chaos

WARNING: The following post is of a graphic nature. It shows the life and death struggle of grains in the Den of Chaos. It is raw, unedited footage. Those with weak stomachs or who are on low-carb diets would be well-advised to find some other site to visit today.

A polar bear, I understand, can smell a dead whale from 20 miles away (who couldn’t?!).

Sharks, I’ve heard, can smell a drop of blood in the water from up to a mile away.

And a wolf can find its own pack from over a mile away, using nothing more than the schnozzle $DEITY gave it.

The Denizens, likewise, have an amazing sense of smell. For example, they can not only smell bread baking, but can, using nothing more than their little schnozzles!, guesstimate how long it has been out of the oven and whether or not it is ‘just cool enough’ to be cut, buttered, honeyed, and put on plates for Denizen consumption.

They’re wily, these predators. The Eldest, leader of the pack, first approached the prey, precisely twenty minutes after being removed from its pans.

“Mommy,” she said disarmingly, circling the cooling rack with glinting eyes. “What is that delicious aroma?” (Yes. Eldest really talks like that.)

The next thing I knew, a mob of Denizens were swarming the kitchen. “What’s that smell? Is that bread? Is the bread ready? Butter! Honey! Butter! Honey!!” Even Captain Adventure began banging the table yelling, “BABA MOH! BABA MOH!!”

I’m not sure what it means exactly, but suspect it loosely translates to, ‘get me some buttered bread now, woman!’

Before the camera could even be brought to bear (or indeed before this rather commonplace event struck me as needing any kind of documentation)…one of the twins met a grisly end:

So young!

The predators wasted little time getting down to business. The young ones go after the soft innards first…

Middles First!

…while the middle ones take a more systematic approach (note the casual cruelty with which the foreground Denizen has torn the bread into smaller pieces, for easier devouring):

This right here is the honey…

And the oldest and most experienced?

Gone in a flash!

Not only devours the bread down to the crumb, but leaves the scene of the crime before a camera can be put upon her.

The surviving twin faces a doubtful future. For there are sandwiches to be made for dinner, and toast for breakfast. It is unlikely it will survive a full twenty-four hours, let alone the week it would take for it to die a natural death in the blender and come back in the next life as meatloaf binder or casserole topping.

Fortunately, the circle of grain-life is in little danger of extinction. Fifty pound sacks of flour and two pound bags of yeast are plentiful in the wilds of Costco, ensuring a nearly endless supply of bread-stuffs for the Denizens.

And that’s it for this episode of Den Kingdom. Tune in next week, to see a batch of cookies decimated before they have even left the sheet…

Never growing up

I think one of the things I love the most about being a mommy is that I get to delay complete assimilation into ‘grownup’.

Every day, my kids remind me of things I had forgotten. Like the time Eldest froze in the middle of the kitchen, staring open-mouthed at the window. “Mommy,” she whispered. “There are baby fairies in our house!”

Now, a fully assimilated grownup would have told her like it was: They were dust motes, hanging in the sunlight streaming through the window. Something that would need cleaning later.

But look again! Crouch down on the floor and look up with her. They glittered, floated, danced.

Baby. Fairies.

In our house.


A kiss has magic curative powers. A cuddle can fix a broken heart. There is very little as important as getting just the right amount of glitter glue on a project. A small farm’s pumpkin patch is a magical fairytale land of enchantment.


Sometimes, I have to be all the way grownup. I’ve got to work, and pay bills, and clean stuff, and tell them ‘no’, and rein in their sugar consumption, and make them settle down right when they really want to go on a wild tear through the house.

But just when it’s looking bleak for me, just when I’m in true danger of being swallowed up in the important business of trying to decide which candidate I hate the least or drowning in interest rates, amortization charts, debt-to-income ratios and mission statements that make no sense, one of them will rush up and inform me that today, this very day!, we’re having a birthday party for Ms. Baby. We are going to wear our party dresses and we are going to have presents and cake and ice cream and coffee!


Growing up all the way, averted for yet another day.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Attention: Assorted Ax Grinders

I have officially crossed the line. I no longer care about the issues at hand, what your platform is or isn’t, who slept with what when or anything else of that nature.

You’re all, every single one of you, a bunch of big fat liars. Now that I’ve actually read through the text of the various bills and whatnot (which was all the fun of sifting through annual statements for a bunch of spaghetti-coded shyster ‘investment’ firms, only without the potential for finding a good investment), I find the lies and lies by omission to be so across the board that I’ve decided on a much simpler course of action. This will be just as logical as actually listening to your rhetoric, yet takes much less effort on my part.

Every single time my phone rings and, extricating myself from my children, rocking chair, nap, or what-have-you, I answer it only to hear a passionate recorded message urging me to vote to this candidate or that proposition…I’m putting a tick mark in the opposite corner.

Got it?

Call me, earn a vote for your opponent. I think this should be simple enough even for a politician to understand.

I may extend this to flyers as well. Dog-damn, people: It seems pretty ironic that in order to tell me how you want to save the environment by voting for or against this or that, you’ve sent me a rainforest worth of heavily inked paper.

And so help me!!!!!! <== (note the many ‘!’ – that means that I am really pissed and your answer at this point is a simple nod and many a murmur of yes ma’am, no ma’am, never again ma’am)

If you have taken me away from my morning coffee, or made me put down my knitting right in the middle of a particularly complicated pattern row, or {pause to snarl and froth at the mouth} I’m standing there with a butt-nekkid child I snatched off the changing table before he was fully wiped because it was 5:30 in the morning and I thought it might be important?!

Two anti-votes, plus a public flogging on my blog. Two lashes for every time I sniff my shirt trying to determine where ‘that’ smell is coming from.

Which reminds me.

To the adorable imbeciles of the ‘anybody but Pombo’ campaign: it would help if your telephone staff knew the name of the guy running against him. So that if said staff person asks, “Can we count on your vote against Pombo?” and the person being called, who is trying to hold onto a writhing, giggling two year old with a rather damp Nether Region responds with, “Well, that would depend on who is running against him…” they don’t say, “Duuuuuuuuuuuuh…um…gee…I…I think it’s…uh…you know, I really don’t…ummmmmmmmm….er……..” {offstage whispers as she consults with equally clue-impaired coworker} “I think it’s McLeary.”


The guy’s name is McNerney. Jerry McNerney.

I’ll give you a second to write that down.

Gives me time to add another few check marks in the anti-anti-Pombo column to cover the Annoyance Surcharge…

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Friday Report

The headline news of the week is: I survived. As did the Denizens, one and all. In spite of dire threats to our sanity and very lives, we have survived Week One of the new quarter.

All hail coffee, alcohol, incense and ‘mood music’. Special thanks to Kate Price, the Poxy Boggards, Merry Wives of Windsor and as always, Rush and Maddy Prior.

In other news…my daycare center is taking Monday off. The official excuse is Columbus Day. This irks me not so much because they’re taking a day off, but because of the timing. Reminding your coworkers, right after a hellish week like this one, that you’re not going to be around on Monday is like holding up that old middle finger and laughing maniacally right in their exhausted ‘and now we’ve got three weeks of cleanup to deal with’ faces. I’m probably as popular as toe jam right about now in the office.

Lessee. Danger Mouse announced yesterday that she wants to join the Girl Scouts, and told me she gave our phone number to the troop leader. Schwell. Eldest wants (and deserves) piano lessons. Captain Adventure is at long last starting to really talk, but unfortunately appears to be largely inventing his own language rather than using the perfectly good one we already have around here. Boo Bug is going through a Drama Queen phase and clings to me like scandal to a politician at all times. Having to physically peel her off me at drop-off in the mornings is getting really, really old.

There may be open warfare between her and Captain Adventure by the end of the weekend. He does not take kindly to people challenging his complete and sole ownership of The Woman. Also, I think he’s working some molars through his gums right now. Cranky? Ha! ‘Cranky’ does not begin to describe the mercurial temperament my little man is displaying right about now!

In the middle of the work-week madness, my husband decided to install shelves in the office. This is good, because we need the storage space. However, few things will strain a marriage like having one spouse drilling holes in the wall and muttering things like, “Crap, I think I missed the stud again…” while the other one is explaining to yet another user that the database crashed so hard the insurance company isn’t even taking quotes on repair and are just cutting a check for the total loss.

Unless is it the same spouse saying things like, “You know, instead of a cake for my birthday, I think it would be cool if you made a bunch of pies…”

Pies. For one hundred people. It isn’t the baking of the pies that scares me – it’s the overnight storage of them. That right there? Is the crazy-talk part. I started contemplating which types would be OK in the garage overnight, and by what devious methods I could warp the space-time continuum such that all the cheeses, meats, and other things for which refrigeration is not optional could share a fridge with ten or more custard pies, and the next thing I knew I was slumped in my rocking chair clutching an empty martini glass muttering, “We are so having this crazy thing catered!”

However, knitting was still accomplished. Look! It’s a sleeve!!

One sleeve!

One more of these little babies, and then I can start the seven thousand hours of finishing work!


I’m just being melodramatic. It’s only six thousand hours of finishing work, and I know it. If I’ve told me once, I’ve told me a bazillion times: Quit Exaggerating!

Needle Tart asked ‘where do you knit’ in her blog today…here’s my spot:

The Knitting Nook

I alternate between the rocking chair and the corner of the sofa. The sofa is more comfy, but prone to Denizen Invasion. They can swarm that sofa faster than a hill of ants attacking a watermelon. Demanding cartoons, juice, cookies, popcorn, backrubs and braided hair, with a green band on the left and a purple one on the right. NO! Not like that!!!!

Ah, daughters. Delicate little blossoms of feminine joy.

And bossiness.

Bossy, bossy, bossy…

One very beautiful thing

I think I'm going to love Three Beautiful Things one whole big lot.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meanwhile, back in the real world…

Holy carp, what a ride this week has been thus far! One server is still down, two days later! And naturally, my biggest ‘to do’ items all live on the busted server. However, instead of becoming hysterical about it, I’ve decided to thank my lucky stars that it isn’t my job to fix the poor server and move on to other things.

Whew. It’s good to not be the DBA right about now…who me? Oh, don’t look at me, friend, I’m just a lowly database analyst…yessir, for that kind of problem, you’re going to need the database administrator…heh heh heh…

Sucks to be her!

Oh, sorry. Did I say that out loud?

But it has been a hellish two days. Monday was, while not the Worst Day On This Job Ever™, a highly stressful day. We had drive-thru food for dinner. By which I mean that when my husband got home and found me still frantically pounding on my keyboard fourteen hours after I started trying to get things out of my life for another month, he didn’t even bother asking if I had anything in mind for dinner.

He just brought home burgers along with the children.

At least, I think it was burgers. The whole thing is…kind of a blur. I seem to recall eating something that was vaguely burger-shaped…hmm. Hope it wasn’t that missing tennis shoe…

And in the meantime, quietly, hidden behind all the work chaos are a couple interesting Chaos factors:

One. My income officially ceased at the beginning of this month. Next week, I will be receiving a deposit of about $50, which is all that will be left after the 401k contribution. Ah, such bittersweet emotions! Tax advantaged retirement savings! And also? Bills to pay!

I can feel the angst-swell already.

Two. My husband is having a big birthday party this year. Big, as in, very large. As in, the entire guest list was over a hundred, and we’re up to 50 who are definitely coming, and another 40 are ‘maybe’, and then there’s another 50 who haven’t said one way or the other. This is because they like to torment me. “How big a cake do you want to order?” “Well, uh, we’re expecting anywhere from…fifty to…uh…a hunnerd and fifty.” {long silence from the bakery staff}

I spent a little quality time this morning jotting down the list of things I want to get on my own, things I expect to get from a caterer, and estimating just how quickly a job with a traveling carnival could get me, say, to Kansas, where I could melt into the general population under an assumed name and...

Wait. Did I just say that out loud?

Three. The older two girls have been out of daycare for three years months weeks now. It, uh, mostly works. Except that we have yet to come to an understanding of even the most basic rules. Such as, “If this door is closed, pretend you aren’t here.”

Having a little person shrieking, “But MOMMY!!!!! I’m really-really-really HUNGRY!!!” repeatedly and pawing at me while I’m on the phone with a client makes for a very awkward moment.

Or the other thing my Eldest will do, which is to say, “OK” and then run over to start BANGING WILDLY on the piano. See, that? Is not ‘pretend you’re not here’. That, rather, is ‘making a racket that can be heard from space.’

Bonus points for causing Something to :::CRASH!::: from upstairs, and then calling out, “I’m OK! Don’t come up!”

Four. Three days inattention (oh yeah, I’ve been working since Sunday which, for those of you not keeping score at home, was the first of the month/quarter) has put my Den into a State. There is laundry piled up in the middle of the downstairs hallway – some clean, some not. There is laundry in the dryer. There is nothing in the works for dinner. Last night’s dinner was a bizarre cream-sauce thing invented on the fly by yours truly. The husband and I inhaled it as though we hadn’t eaten in weeks. All the Denizens except Danger Mouse turned their adorable little noses way up and acted as though it would be INSTANT DEATH if they so much as touched the tips of their tongues to the sauce. Danger Mouse, however, discovered that it was a Parmesan cheese, picked out the broccoli and enjoyed it mightily.

Tonight’s dinner does not look like it will be much of an improvement. Shoot. It might just end up being fish sticks and canned corn, at this rate. Bathrooms have spotty mirrors. Floors need sweeping. Piles of crap are slowly devouring my dresser.

Astonishing. In only three (3) short days of inattention, my Den looks as though it has been several weeks since it saw any kind of ‘keeping’.


Five. I feel confident that I can now return to what passes for normal life. Make up a shopping list, inventory the freezer (filled up last week, to the point of bursting, and I got some gorgeous oxtails that are beginning to be made into my ‘not veal’ osso bucco soup), clear up the piles of junk and get that @*^& laundry put away.

Just another normal week around the Den of Chaos.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Am I retired yet?

What a day. You know…just…geez Louise. Quarter close! All the fun of month end, NOW WITH EXTRA CRAZY!!!!

Everything that could break, did. A few things that can’t break…did anyway. One of the things that failed, something I know nothing whatsoever about, became my little pet today. Could I stomp the fire today, and then build a solution that would keep the space issue from happening again?

And by the way – could I also do these other five things at the same time? Urgent-urgent-urgent!!

But did anybody mention that my new pet had a previous owner actively waiting for the fix? Oooooh no! So I didn’t rush things through on it, noooooo. In point of fact, it was coded as a ‘medium’ priority.

So I rushed other things on through and I then putz around with QA a lot more than was strictly necessary and played with some what if scenarios and then…late in the afternoon…I get an email from someone unexpected asking plaintively if I had an update. Cause he was, you know, waiting…and oh by the way…it wasn’t just the one packaged mentioned in the ticket, it was a whole job’s worth of them…

Oh, garblefuge! I could have slapped a fast-n-dirty fix on hours ago. But nooooo. I didn’t realize someone (and, moreover, someone I like - see, if it were Jerk User, I could have had a lot less give-a-darn about it) was sitting around waiting on the stupid thing! I had targeted my day around having this thing fixed around the same time I was going to shut down for the night.

And. Here it is. After 7:00, and I’m still sitting here, babysitting DTS packages, cursing the name of ‘Ted’ Codd, and wishing I had gone into a more sensible career.

Like, say…florist. I could have been a florist. Or maybe a barista at Starbucks. Hmm. They get stock options (which I don’t) and healthcare (which I also don’t), and darn it – they get coffee.

Do you know what I get? I get interrupted in the middle of making a coffee, and never get back to it. Which is both sick, and wrong.

Stupid DTS packages.

You're cutting WHAT, WHERE?!

At long last…I managed to crawl the last two centimeters, shape the front and back necks, do the funky little ridge thing for the shoulder (I’m still not 100% convinced I like that bumpy thing at the shoulder – I know it’s a “feature” in the Dale of Norway knitting, but I think I may be a rebel next time and skip it in favor of a more subtle seam), and cast it off.

Viola. “Finished” sweater. Except for, you know, the two sleeves, steek cutting, front plackets and neckband detailing.

Look ma – it’s an Almost Sweater!

Now. Do you see that thing on top of the sweater? You might be tempted to think that was a sleeve. Ha! No, silly child.

It’s a very fancy shag rug. Look closer…

Shag is In Again!!

This is one of the things that makes me wrinkle up my nose and swear that I’m never going to do one of these again: all those yarn ends. Every single one of those has to be woven into the fabric, carefully tucked in amid the stitches so that it doesn’t show, won’t pull out, and in general pretends it doesn’t exist.

I try to consider it part of the experience. I try to make it a good exercise in patience and stick-to-it-ness. I try rewarding myself with wedges of dark chocolate for each successfully run-in end. (You’d think that would make this my favorite thing in the world to do, wouldn’t you?)

But the fact remains that it is about as much fun to me as scrubbing the tile grout in the kitchen. I like the result, but I could really do without the activity needed to get there.

Boo Bug was eager to try on the sweater. So eager, in fact, that she pulled it on like a skirt and ran around in it demanding that everybody ‘wookit my sweath-TER!’

When she skidded to a halt in front of me, she frowned prettily and said, “There’s just one problem, mommy – it’s too big for me!” And she pulled it out to show me that there was a sizable gap.

“That’s OK, honey. It’s going to be a cardigan, it’s supposed to go on over your winter clothes. Remember the fancy clasps we bought?” The clasps were a huge selling point. It must be known by All that nobody else in the Den has clasps on their sweater, instead of lowly buttons.

Whether or not the clasps are, in fact, cooler than buttons shaped like angels or boxes of crayons is still a matter of great dinner-time debate.

She looked at the skirt-like sweater. She looked at me doubtfully. She looked at the sweater again. And back at me.


“We’re going to use the big sewing machine and sew down here, and here, and then we’re going to cut it open. And then put the fancy clasps on it.”

“You’re. Going. To. CUT. My. SWEATER?!” she shrieked. Her expression clearly said that she was going to get on the horn and have the men in white jackets come collect me, because I was obviously well around the bend.

“Remember how we did with Captain Adventure’s sweater?” I prodded. A four year old’s memory is…remarkably like my own. Full of holes, and occasionally incapable of remembering something that was, at the time (which was only a matter of weeks ago), the Most Fascinating Thing Ever™. She had her nose practically under the foot of the sewing machine the entire time!

“Yes! But that was just the sleeves part! You didn’t cut the front part! I don’t want you to cut the front part!!!”


Dawg is my witness, the child was crying about it. I had to show her the fancy clasps:

The fancy clasps

…and position them on the sweater…and show her the picture of how the sides were going to look, with the pretty blue and yellow placket…and go over in nauseating detail just exactly-precisely how it was that I, her otherwise utterly incompetent mother, was able to cut her sweater without ruining it…

Thanks for the vote of confidence there, kid.

Eventually, she allowed that it would probably be OK. She sat with the pattern for a while pretending to read it, and finally handed it back to me with a long sigh and the supposition that, given that I did in fact know how to read, it would probably be OK.

“But, you know, mommy,” she said earnestly, leaning on the arm of my rocking chair and fixing me with a stern look. “It still seems like crazy-talk to me.”

If you ever see me out in public somewhere? And I suddenly dissolve into laughter for no apparent reason? It's because I've suddenly remembered her earnest blue eyes peering at me from under too-long bangs and her little lisping voice calling steeks 'cwazy tawk'...