Friday, September 29, 2006

The Saga of Two Crummy Centimeters

Here is Boo Bug’s sweater as of this morning:


When it is 36 centimeters from the fold line (right where my fingers are – the folding will make it quit that infernal rolling thing and give it a cute little picot edging), I will shape the front and back necks and then be sort of kind of almost done.

Except for, you know, two sleeves, steeking, sewing, placket and neckband knitting, running in loose ends and attaching the clasps. Other than that – I’ll be almost done.

It is currently 34 centimeters.

Four days ago? It was 31 centimeters.

Last night, when I began knitting, it was, I swear to God, 34 centimeters. I knit for about half an hour and then, when I measured it?

34 centimeters.

I take comfort in the fact that this is a well-documented phenomenon. The Yarn Harlot wrote of it both on her blog and in her books. This is the point in the project where “yarn goes in, but no sweater comes out.”

On the one hand, I suppose I should be happy about it. I knit because it is fun, right? Pleasurable, right? It is more about the journey than the destination, RIGHT?!?!

On the other hand…dog-dang, folks. They may just have to bury me with this still-unfinished sweater clutched in my aged hands.

And meanwhile, the siren song of all the other yarn is playing in the background. While cleaning out the closet (yes, again…just…hush!) I found my alpaca stash. Several small skeins in powdery-soft colors; two huge hanks in jet black from Lisa Souza (where was that when the Harlot was in town?!?!); three hanks of a delicious smoky ‘San Francisco’ gray; and a bunch of miscellaneous balls left over from when I did the Irish Diamond shawl last year.

Have you ever tried to stay faithful to Knit Picks Merino when ‘artisan’ yarns are in your closet?

I am resolving that I will spend a great deal of time knitting today and over the weekend. I know that this is a foolish resolution, because I have four children in this house. All four of whom are going to be home all weekend. The chances that I will get to knit at all are slim to nil.

And Captain Adventure has decided that knitting ranks right up there with Daddy in terms of Challenges to His Ownership of The Woman. When he sees me sit down and pick up my knitting, he charges right over and insists on climbing into my lap. He will snatch the knitting right out of my hands and shove it back in the bag, sing-songing, “Tha’go! Tha’go!!”

Then he looks up at me and goes, “Ha ha ha ha! Ha!” and snuggles in for long-term cuddling.

How something can be so annoying and so adorable at the same time is beyond me.

If anybody but my Lord and Master tried that? FLAMING DEATH!


It's just {sob} two...crummy...centimeters!...

Guilt du jour

My children are extremely creative. Oh yes. Extremely creative. They are…downright prolific artists. Yessir, they surely have a handle on the ‘art’ thing. Yup. Lots and lots and lots of art coming into this house. Oodles of it. I’m pretty sure there’s carpet in the front room, somewhere…under all the art…

Send. Shovels.

Finally, I decided that this was it. I was going to harden my heart, weed out the art, put the ‘best’ ten up on the wall and the rest? Out!

Have you ever tried to do this?

First of all, apart from the things that are just scribbles, I defy you to decide on ‘best’ art from your children. Each piece has its own charm.

And now that they can write, they do things like “I love you Mommy!” and “To Beautiful Mommy from Boo Bug” (with backward letters!) and so forth.

Go ahead. Just throw that away. Go on. I’ll watch.

But I was motivated. I had to be motivated. I swear I am not exaggerating when I say I had three full trash bags – those big kitchen sized ones – full of art that had come home from school. Macaroni art. Painted art. Crayoned art. Art with pencil, art with magazine clippings, art with feathers, art with glue and sand.

Way more art than I have house to put it in.

And yet, throwing it away feels like…throwing away their childhood. Their innocence. Their growing sense of self. And taking a picture of it first, or scanning it, just isn’t the same. It can remind you what the piece was like, but it doesn’t have the same feel.

It doesn’t smell of Elmer’s Glue and Crayola wax.

At the corner of Pragmatism and Sentimentality dwells Angst.

Intellectually I know that I cannot possibly keep every scrap of every drawing my children make. It would be madness to try. I’d be on the news one of these nights, the crazy cat lady who had to be lifted through a hole in her roof from a rat-infested Den – the front door having been swallowed up over a decade before by the endless stream of brightly colored construction paper with bits of tattered feathers and cracked macaroni glued to it.

Emotionally I can’t stand throwing it away. It feels like betrayal, it feels like…Bad Mothering. I have visions of my children as adults, lying on psychiatrist couches sobbing, “And…and…and…I drew a unicorn princess with stars and a mermaid on a rock? And…and…and…{sob} she THREW IT AWAY!!!!!!”

That my own mother undoubtedly threw away 99% of the art I ever made without causing me any undue emotional trauma is beside the point.

That my own children have never seemed to be bothered (or even notice, frankly) when their bags and bags of art mysteriously disappear is likewise beside the point.

It feels awful to me. And I hate doing it.

Yet I must do it.

And I made myself do it.

I went through each piece, admiring and taking pictures or scanning as I went, until finally, an hour before midnight, I crept out to the trash tote and slipped them gently into it.

I still feel guilty. I still have a curious awareness of those bags full of bright stick figures and backwards lettering, out in the stinking tote with the diapers and rotting debris from the kitchen.

But I’ll get over it.

Because by this time next month? I’ll have another three bags full strewn all over the Den, from front door to master bathroom…

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Knitting saves child’s life, Film at 11!

Let me begin by giving some background.

I have three basic options when picking up the older two kids from school. I can walk all the way over (a little over an hour round trip), I can drive over and park a few blocks away and walk in (about half an hour round trip), or I can drive over, get in the pickup line and give the kids curb-to-curb service (anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on whether I get there early, late or in the middle of the madness) (I recommend either early, or late).

Two days ago, I drove to the park up the street and walked in to collect Eldest and Danger Mouse.

Danger Mouse was standing right where she should have been. Eldest…was nowhere to be found.

So when she finally wandered up I gave her the talk: you’ve gotta line up with your classmates, if you’re not here I have to just leave you, hup hup hup march march march.

What she heard? “Blah blah blah something about cars”

Today, I didn’t feel like walking. At all. To be completely honest, I haven’t felt like doing much of anything today, and I’m severely irritated that a) I can’t pass multiple parameters in Reporting Services 2000 and b) we haven’t / aren’t planning to upgrade(d) to RS 2005, which can pass multiple parameters.

I will come up with a work-around on that. Oh yes. I will.

But I digress.

I didn’t wanna walk, so I waited for that perfect moment: just late enough that the main traffic would be gone, not so late that I’d be caught in the Big Kid wave.

I drove up, went right on through the line aaaaaaaaaaaand…no Eldest.

Danger Mouse was right there where she should have been.

But Eldest?

Nowhere to be seen.

We asked her classmates where she was, and one of them said, “Oh! She’s catching butterflies with Whatzername! Over by the classroom!”

There I was, surrounded by innocent young children.

What could I say, but, “Oh gee whiz, how frightfully upsetting!”

The Pickup Line Cop looked at me mournfully and said, “I’m really sorry, but…”

I know.

I’ve got to put it in gear.

I closed the door gently. I put it in drive and pulled around the parking lot, already beginning to flood with the early-arrivers for the Big Kid pickup.

I turned up the radio for Danger Mouse.

And I spewed forth a few choice words under my breath about my beautiful, charming, talented and otherwise wonderful oldest child.

I had to leave the parking lot, which forces you to turn right onto a stretch of road with no parking. Then you get on the parkway, on which there is no parking.

I ended up having to go three blocks up, three blocks over, six blocks back, and three blocks BACK UP to get back to the school.

And then?!

I got stuck. STUCK! As in, not moving. Not able to move. Able to go neither forward nor backward, not sideways nor byways. Just sitting there.

Because? The Big Kids don’t get out until 3:05. But their parents all show up at 2:45 and then JUST SIT THERE!!!!!!!!!, until they get out.

I had made a grave tactical error and turned back onto the school’s street from the parkway. Ahead of me loomed a never-ending stream of SUVs and pickup trucks, idling away, waiting for the kids to get out so they could swoop in and grab their Poopsies.

Behind me? More SUVs and pickup trucks.

None of us could budge an inch. God forbid a fire truck ever needs to get through that street between 2:15 and 3:15 weekdays.

At this point, steam was coming out of my ears. I made myself let go of the steering wheel, which I was gripping as though I were in danger of falling off a cliff without it. I glanced at the clock. 2:47. It was going to be a solid twenty minutes before any of us went anywhere.

I started counting to ten. Which naturally reminded me of knitting. Knitting! Oh for the love of CARP! I didn’t bring Boo Bug’s sweater, @*^&@ it all to @!&^&! I switched to the smaller bag because the other one was too big and there’s nothing in here but…

…that sock I started at the doctor’s office a couple weeks ago.

I took out the sock and glared at it resentfully. Dog-dang it, I wanted to be working on Boo Bug’s sweater whenever I had knitting time! I only need two more crummy centimeters before I start the neck shaping, and it is going with all the speed of a herd of turtles mired in peanut butter! I am getting literally about a centimeter a day at this point because it is at that point where yarn goes in but no sweater comes out and I don’t have as much time as I want to have because month close starts THIS WEEKEND and I have SO MUCH TO DO AT WORK and…

It was at this point, just when I was about to roll down the window and let out a primal scream of angry frustration, that the sock spoke up.

“Hey, genius,” it said. “Your choices are pretty simple. You can be pissed off because I’m not the sweater, or you can be glad that I’m here to entertain you. You can consider this ‘being stuck in pickup traffic’ thing to be a major hitch in your get-along today, or the Universe providing you with a relaxing twenty minutes to work on a simple yet warmly satisfying thing. Besides. You know you want to wear me to the pumpkin patch this year…”

“Hey, you know what? You’re right,” I told the sock. I smoothed it out and admired it, remembering how perfectly the colors match that favored shirt from Coldwater Creek. Yes. This would be a fantastic sock to wear to the pumpkin patch in a few weeks. And I’m nearly to the heel at this point…maybe two more inches…and unlike a Certain Sweater That Shall Not Be Named, when yarn goes into this project? A sock comes out.

So I sat, and knit my groovy sock, and listened to the radio and chatted with Danger Mouse until the traffic started moving.

When Eldest got in the van, I had downgraded my ire from ‘rip child’s head off’ to ‘tell child I am very, very upset about this and that a low profile is probably her best bet.’

And thus, once again, knitting has saved one of the Denizen’s lives. If only everyone had a sock-in-progress in their purse...


I want this sweater (picture taken from linked story):

That Laurie Looks So FAB!

No, I can’t go make it myself! *sheesh!* I want this sweater, don’t you understand? It is hand-dyed and hand-spun AND designed AND THEN knit by the lovely lady modeling it, and I can’t just go out and substitute yarns and try to figure out how she did it! Even though she mostly explained it. I am simply not bright enough to fill in the blanks. And also, my spinning stinks. And furthermore? I’ve never really done the hand-dyed thing.

{sigh of purest unrequited love}


{kick grass tuft}

…I just love this sweater so-so much…and I don’t think she’s gonna gimmie it…

{pout pout pout pout}

What passes for humor around here...

“Honey…is this all decaf?”

“Yes. You’ll have to use the flavored if you want it leaded.”


“Does this mean we’re basically out of coffee?”


“Is that club sending more?”




“But we ran out early, huh?”

“*sigh* Yes…”

“Wow. So we’re kinda living above our means here, huh?”

“No.” {pause} “But we are living beyond our beans.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dear $POLITICIAN: Please go away now

You know what? I’m tired outside of all reason of the political scene. We've got the ‘top brass’ flinging poop at each other, and the entire Republican and Democrat parties are so shockingly polarized that if a Republican said, “Hey, don’t pull that trigger! You’ll shoot yourself in the foot!”, the Democrat would pull it just to be contrary.

And then blame the Republican for his lost toes. At which the Republican would turn around and blame Clinton because, well, uh…because-because!

Seriously. Is it just me? I mean, there’s always been the mud-slinging and so forth…but lately it just seems like it is escalating. And getting sillier and sillier, the outright lies and lies-by-omission easier and easier to spot.

I think they think we really are supremely stupid. And maybe we are.

Check me on this: Politic. Adj. Using or marked by prudence, expedience, and shrewdness; artful. In other words, you don’t shoot off at the mouth, preferably ever but most certainly not in a very public forum!

Did this change? Did I miss a memo? Because get what former Republican Assemblyman Dean Andal spewed forth at a fundraiser, regarding Democrat Cathleen Galgiani (who is running against Republican Gerry Machado for Assembly):

Galgiani, he said, “…is not married, doesn't have any children and, in my view, she's never had a real job.”

Nice. So, the twenty years as a political aide wasn’t a real job, huh? OK. Whatever you say, there, Scooter…

And then - and then - and then? Oh yes, it does get better!!!!

His remark prompted Machado's campaign manager, Chris Orrock, to tell the Tracy Press that Galgiani's "only family is the 20 cats she lives with. The Central Valley is full of values — the family values and the core traditional values."

The note I received from Assemblywoman Matthews says, and I quote, Republican Gerry Machado’s campaign is attacking Cathleen as a single, childless woman who knows little of family values.

And they helpfully included excerpts from an article, outlining all the egregious comments made.

But they conveniently left out other parts of the article. Like, say, this same Orrock following up his mouth-fart by reaffirming that Machado’s campaign planned to focus on immigration, taxation and transportation instead of personal issues. [emphasis added]

You know what that feels like to me? Have you ever said something, and as the words came out of your mouth you thought, Oh, carp. Can I please have those words back so I can eat them and in due course flush them?

They left out the part where Machado himself said he wasn’t going to go there. "I'm going to talk about issues. This race has nothing to do with personal background," Machado told The Bee.

They made sure to throw in that Machado was ‘ferried’ to the fundraiser by a private plane owned by a developer, but left out the part where some 60% of Galgiani’s $600,000+ fundraising comes from special interests and corporations. But they threw in the part about how she used to foster cats for the SPCA.

Yes, just a glowing little angel of misused perfection.

Whoops. Excuse me. I just realized my cynicism is showing again.

I’m sure in due course I’ll receive the same kind of thing from Machado’s campaign, removing all the egregious comments and highlighting all the ‘special interests’ and ‘crazy cat lady’ bits.

I am so damned tired of this. Throw out some keywords, tug at the heart strings, threaten higher taxes unless we vote yes/no on this/that, wave the flag a little bit, tell me you’ll make somebody else pay ‘their fair share’ and make sure you attack somebody on the basis of gender or because somebody they've been seen in public with turned out to be gay/insensitive/stupid/otherwise PI and gee – I’ll just rush right down like a good little dummy and check whatever box you told me to.

It’s like listening to my kids when they’re being cranky, tattling on each other and trying to con me out of treats.

Only these are grownups.

And they wanna run our lives.

You know what?

The Libertarian Party is starting to sound downright delicious…

Little Miss Administers Justice

Captain Adventure’s class has a serious problem right now with biting. For people who aren’t aware of this particularly charming phase of toddler development, there is an awkward period between roughly 18 and 30 months where kids sometimes will choose to use their teeth rather than their words to express such things as frustration, anger, ‘glad to see ya’ and other strong emotions. And when they’re in a herd situation…it compounds the problem dramatically. If one kid bites? They all start biting.

Yesterday morning, I was discussing this problem with Captain Adventure’s teacher – I had found a huge bite mark on his shoulder that had obviously not been noted when it happened, and since this was the second such ‘stealth’ bite I’d found on him in recent weeks I wanted to make sure they were aware that whoever this biter was, he was doing a number on Captain Adventure.

Suddenly, a little boy sitting at the table with two other children erupted into wails. “Owie! Owie! OWWWWWWIEEEEEE!” he shrieked.

“What happened?” exclaimed the teacher. “Rodger, honey, what happened? Where’s the owie?”

Of course, Rodger just continued wailing ooooowwwwwwwwieeeeeeeeeee, looking up at her through squinted-up miserable eyes and not even so much as pointing to where the owie was. (Another problem with toddlers: Captain Adventure, when he hurts himself, will wail…but not give you any idea what needs kissing or an ice pack or what-have-you.)

There was a Little Miss at the table. Picture if you will a tiny little Asian girl, her jet black hair tidily pulled up in pig tails, with soulful dark eyes, attired in a crisp little dress with matching tights no less. An absolute model of genteel toddlerness.

Little Miss had been sitting staring in disbelief at the scene unfolding before her. When it became obvious that Rodger wasn’t going to say anything, she jumped to her feet and flung her hand toward the two boys, pointing from one to the other in almost frantic motions. “HIM BIT HIM! HIM! HIM BIT HIM! HIM BIT HIM ON HIM ARM!!!!!”

Sure enough, there were chomp marks on Rodger’s little arm, and little Chomper was studiously pretending nothing existed in the whole world except the box of blocks as Teacher asked, sternly, if he had bitten Roger. His entire body radiated ‘GUILT’, but he shook his head without looking at her.

Little Miss was having none of that.

“Him!” she insisted, her finger swinging from predator to victim, the Scales of Justice dangling from her tiny fingers. “Him bit him! On him arm!! Him!! Him BIT him!!!”

As action was taken, the offender removed from the pack and scolded, she registered approval: “Yes. Him in corner. Sit! Bad! Bad biting him! In. Corner.” {pause, casting of dark and disapproving glance} “Mister! Bad biting! Sit there and think. tsk tsk tsk.”

I swear, I almost fell on the floor laughing. Her little face was stormy and unforgiving, a little miniature Ma’at. Chaos shall not have this room! I !forbid! it!!

Once Chomper was safely segregated from society, she began commanding care for the afflicted: “Him need ice. Ice please, teacher. Oh! Owie, poor baby…we get ice. Teacher? Him need ice. Owie OK? Ok. Owie. Tsk tsk tsk.”

While we obediently fetched ice, she made other reparations: the blocks whose ownership had apparently been in dispute were returned to Rodger, along with some ‘interest’ in the form of blocks Chomper had been using. Finally, she reached across the table, patted his shoulder tenderly and said, “There, there. OK. Good.”

And as she sat back down, there was an expression of utter contentment on her little face that positively melted me. All was definitely right in the world, now. Owie managed, culprit punished, reparations made.

A good day’s work for Little Miss.

‘Heh’ of the day…

The Last Knit. It’s longish, but if you’re a knitter (or live with one), but Lord…there’s more truth than fiction in this.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Panic!!! Oh, wait…

So our HELOC (home equity line of credit) was recently purchased by another party. No big. Happens all the time.

And then, last night, I got my first statement from the new outfit. The HELOC is, according to my records, in the repayment phase on a ten year amortization schedule. In English, my payment should be $730.

So you can imagine my…dismay…when the minimum payment due, the payment they cheerfully told me was to be withdrawn automatically from my checking account in four (4) business days (or 32 business hours), was…

Three Thousand Four Hundred Forty-Six Dollars and 75/100’s ($3,446.75).

If you notice a brownish haze hanging over San Joaquin Country this morning, it is not from the local wildfires.

It is the scum left by the language I uttered.

They were closed by the time I got my statement (dang, now I’m down to THREE business days!!). I ran through scenarios in my head. Best case, they already knew it was a mistake and had already corrected it. It was, after all, over a week since the statement had been generated. No harm done.

Worst case, they not only didn’t know, they thought they were correct. I’d have to wrangle with them, and it would take more time than I had, and when that payment hit my checking account havoc would be wreaked.

And then all the in-between scenarios and theories of error origin, which I won’t bore you with because they are definitely the kinds of scenarios a database geek with heavy financial institution background get into. (Flat file…SAP to DB2 format…truncations…hmmm…)

With great irritation, I logged into my emergency fund account and transferred enough to cover the horrific minimum due per the statement into my checking account. If the problem is fixed in a timely fashion, no big. I can put it back. If, however, it is not fixed…


Instead of having to go through all the irritation and headaches involved in getting letters of apology and refund of overdraft and wrangling with credit cards about how it wasn’t my fault that their payments were returned and that they “ought” to reinstate my formerly awesome interest rate, and trying to get the all the late penalties covered by the lender, all I need to do is deal with the one issue: that they appear to have moved me from a ten year to a two year amortization schedule.

These are the kinds of things that make an emergency fund worth what you go through to get it.


I talked to the new lender. They had indeed already caught the error and fixed it, so according to theory they’re only taking the $730 in three days.

I’m…just gonna leave the extra cash there until after the dust settles. It isn’t that I don’t trust them…it’s just that I don’t trust them.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Most Egregious Oversight

It was recently pointed out that I had forgotten to bore you to tears show off the end result of the Debbie Bliss “beaded” Fair Isle baby sweater.

I put “beaded” in quotes because…though directed to by DB…I did not add beads to the sweater. This was because I could not find beads that looked good with the yarns I was using.

So, without further ado…here is the sweater, modeled by the lovely Ms. Baby:

Ms. Baby Strikes A Pose

And with the assistance of Danger Mouse (and her muffin), here is the back of the sweater:

Danger Mouse Threatens Sweater with Muffin – film at 11!

Notes on the sweater:

It knit up (relatively) quickly. I had to go down a few needle sizes to get gauge with my substituted yarn, which has made it a bit less drape-y than I think it would have been in the original cashmerino.

The yoke part felt really, really, really weird at first. Basically, you do all the sweater shaping below the colored parts, then pick up and knit the yoke. I’m sure people who do these all the time are going, “Duh”, but it felt just kinda wrong to me. I had to just follow the instructions and have faith until I had all the stitches picked up. Then I went, “Oooooooh, I seeeeeeee” and it all made sense.

There is a wee little line beneath the yoke, all the way around. It looks a little bit like a seam. I’ve done more than a bit of picking up stitches, so I think it looks pretty neat; I suspect that a couple years ago, when I hadn’t done so many necklines and heel gussets, it might have been somewhat, um, ugly.

Notes on the child:

Yes. She is very cute. Also, she was told at least twelve times to keep that muffin at the table. Note that she has not. Also, she did her ‘sight words’ homework rather well today, and we are very proud. That she was bribed with the treat basket to do them is beside the point. She did them. And also? ‘Write’ is a very tricky word. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

Notes on Ms. Baby:

She is older than Danger Mouse. She is also very patient – Eldest did not pick her as ‘special-est’. Nor did Danger Mouse. No. Ms. Baby had to wait for Boo Bug to turn two before she finally achieved status of ‘never in danger of going into the Goodwill sack’.

She has put up with being dressed up in the darndest things, including, yes, baby sweaters that are miles too big for her. She is roughly half the size of an actual newborn, and has modeled everything from preemie sets to things that were supposed to be for a six month old. She takes this with a grain of salt and never makes rude faces at the camera.

She’s a very easy star to work with. Unlike the Denizens, who will immediately dissolve into the giggles or grit their teeth or otherwise ensure their pictures make them look like demented little weasels.

Once again, I’ve missed the boat

Jessica Durham was photographed allowing her toddler Michala to suck from a marijuana water pipe.

From the article: Ms. Durham allegedly remarked that smoking improved Michala's appetite and left Michala lethargic and mellow.

Geesh. Why is it that I just can’t seem to be ahead of the curve here? Eldest is both twitchy and too darned skinny. All this time, all I’ve needed was a bong and some greenery to stick in it, and she could be mellow and hungry?

Why don’t they put that in the parenting magazines?! Instead of wasting all that space on 'cuddling' and 'discussing' and 'making food fun'?!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Teeth of Chaos

Welcome to Friday! The day when you sit back and say, “What the @*^& just happened, here?!”

Behold! My desk at 1:30 this afternoon:

Holy Whadda Mess, Batman!

What’s really awful about this picture is that I had, in fact, been cleaning for a considerable chunk of time before this was snapped. I didn’t think to take a ‘before’ picture of the whole office. Suffice to say that about 75% of what is now on my desk used to be on the floor in the office. Along with pillows, bedding, yarn in and out of boxes, bags of, um, stuff and a rather impressive collection of cords, string, crayons, loose buttons and construction paper. Also, the office closet has been tidied up. It was a hard-hat zone in there. Now it’s…well. Mostly safe.

The trash can? Full. The recycling bin? Full. This? Is all the stuff that required I do something more than just toss it in one or the other.

The problem with this particular pile is that there isn’t a whole lot of ‘easy’ in it. A few pens that just need to be stuck in the revolving thingee. And the mousepad, that’s easy. But everything else on there needs to be paid, mailed away to someone, or otherwise ‘handled.’

Fortunately, I am no rookie when it comes to dealing with Chaos. I am a true daughter of Chaos. I was born unto Chaos, and in Chaos I dwell.

I know from Chaos, my brethren. I fear it not one whit.

I know just what to do.

Chaos wants you to think you have no control. Chaos wants you to just give up and let it take over. Chaos is everywhere. From Buckingham Palace to my humble Den, all human habitations are potential lairs for Chaos to take over. It takes advantage of any and all opportunities to move in and take control.

Got kids? A job? Relatives? Friends? Cable television? Anything that distracts you from Constant Vigilance is a friend unto Chaos, eating holes into your armor that permit Chaos to take over.

Like a dermatophyte.

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to overcome. Even if you think you’ve got the Worst Case Ever, you can overcome it the same way I overcame my wee little desk issues.

Just take it One. Bite. At. A. Time.

You will have heard this before, but handle each thing only one (1) time – and then? It’s out of your life. So don’t…pay the bill and then set the paper back on your desk. Pay it, and either file or shred. Don’t flip through the magazine and then set it back down. Read, and recycle or file.

Don’t worry about how much there is overall, don’t beat yourself up for having got in the situation in the first place or fret about how long it will take and how you just really don’t have the time and hey – wasn’t that special on tonight, you know, the one that has nothing to do with getting all this crap out of your life?!

Just take one thing at a time and handle it. Get it gone. Amazingly…it works!!

Behold! Half an hour later…

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now that’s how it oughta be.

Now, I can get on with my life. I’m on vacation, by the way, since 11:30 this morning. This is ‘my’ weekend, and I am going to be spending it cruising through boutiques, knitting, and otherwise goofing off.

And now that my desk is clean, I can do it without that nagging feeling that I forgot to pay a bill or that my house is ‘filthy’.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Reducing Food Costs


There! See? Simple! Solves that whole pesky ‘I’m constantly battling my weight’ problem, too!


Oh well. It was just a thought.

Well, short of that, then…tell you what works around here.

Buy in bulk where practical

By which I mean, you like it, can use it before it would frighten away the undead, and have a place to keep it where you can get to it.

I buy meat in bulk from a local meat market. It comes flash-frozen, and frozen it goes into my BIG freezer. I get about six week’s worth at a time. I pay a little more to get the better package: well-trimmed pork chops, lean roasts, and the ‘better’ ground beef. See ‘constantly battling weight’ comment, above.

Whenever a good sale hits, I buy frozen vegetables in those HUGE bags you see at the supermarket, and they likewise go into the big freezer. I also get tons of the smaller bags. I like frozen vegetables, because when (not if, when) I don’t get around to whatever I thought I was going to use them for, they’re still there, as opposed to rotting in the bottom of my fridge (I swear to Dog, I once found the Swamp Creature swimming in what had previously been lettuce…).

This doesn’t mean I never buy fresh vegetables or that you’ll catch me whumping up something involving frozen asparagus any time soon…but if we’re talking peas and carrots for a casserole? Frozen baggie, here I come.

I also get Lean Cuisines when they’re on sale for $2.50 apiece or less. Because I like them, and occasionally I find myself “leftover challenged” around here at lunch time. Also…see ‘constantly battling weight’ comment, above. (I’m sensing a pattern here…) Stock up on sale, slowly whittle away until gone, wait for sale…lather, rinse, repeat.

Non-perishables have a floor-to-ceiling shelf in the garage. Everything from toilet paper to flour goes out there. Canned goods and all like that. More or less organized; there is the occasional bottle of cranberry juice nestled in with the canned tomatoes, but overall I can lay my hands on whatever I need as I need it.

Which brings me to…

Know what you already have

This may require some work at the beginning (or in the middle, when ‘somehow’ things have gotten back into a bad way in the pantry) (not that I’ve ever had this happen…and subsequently discovered that I’ve bought the twin-pack of ketchup at Costco three (3) times thinking I was out of the stuff) (*ahem*). This is the part where you take an inventory and discover just how many cans of cream of mushroom soup you’ve got loitering around.

It’s also, by the way, an excellent opportunity to toss out all those cans that expired back in 1979, or to donate the remaining five bottles of hot sauce you bought for that ex of yours who hasn’t been on the scene in six years.

Once the shelves are (reasonably) organized, you can move on to the next step…

Work with what you already have before you buy anything new

The idea is to make up your meals around what you already have. In other words, be aware that you’ve got fifty pounds of chicken breasts out in the freezer, and maybe plan to have a few meals that involve them instead of rushing out and buying a different meat for each night of the week.

I use a plain old legal pad. First, I make a simple list of what I’ve got in the freezer. Then, as I’m deciding how I’m going to poison feed my family this week, I’ll note what needs to come out of the freezer (don’t laugh, it sucks to discover the pot roast you meant to roast this very night needs to be chipped out of the permafrost first).

Down at the bottom of the page, I write down what I’m planning to make each night; when I’m really on the ball, I’ll even write down which cookbook or website it came from. When I’m just on fire, I’ll even put the page number down. YOW! Ssssssss! Jump back, baby, this girl’s ON FIE-YAR!

The bulk of the page is my shopping list. Let’s say I want to make…chicken pot pie. I’ve got cooked chicken left over. I’ve got frozen vegetables. I’ve got the milk and the chicken stock…but I’m desperate to torture the children but good put mushrooms in it. Under the ‘veggies’ section… “mushrooms”, plus my shorthand for how much I need.

That way, you’re not wandering through the produce aisle asking yourself if maybe you should do…an asparagus thing. Or…maybe…how about a turnip thing? Or there was that other thing, you know, the one with the potatoes? And the…white stuff?

Which in turns means you don’t get home and start cooking and then realize you forgot the chives, without which the potato thing with the white stuff just won’t work.

You don’t forget you needed a can of cream of asparagus soup or a jar of Bavarian basil sauce. Or come home with sixteen pounds of fava beans and then discover you meant lima beans…

Geesh. And whaddya get for all this hootenanny?!

I spend between $250 and $300 at Costco every six weeks. I spend a further $150 at the meat market every six weeks. And then between $40 and $60 a week at the supermarket for ‘this-n-that’; fresh fruits and veggies, the wee little bit of whatnot I needed for this one thing I’ve decided I will perish without this week, and so forth.

That’s between $105 and $135 a week to feed my family of six. And it includes stuff like toilet paper, dish soap, and {grimace – how I miss cloth!} diapers. (Which gave me a turn today, let-me-tell-you: Costco now carries Huggies in an even larger size, but instead of $29.99 they were $37.99? I almost dropped down dead of a heart attack right there in the store before I noticed that the cost per diaper had dropped from $0.22 to $0.19 in the process…) (Yes. I notice the ‘price per diaper’. Shut up. You’ll thank me for it, someday. “Thank goodness Tama notices things like the price per diaper!” you’ll say. “I’ve saved a four thousand dollars this week alone, based on her post about how she noticed that Campbells on sale was $0.00194 less an ounce than the store brand!!” Yes you will. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.)

In the interest of full disclosure I must once again point out that my kids are all small - I’m not feeding a Den full of teenagers. Yet {shudder}. I’d say my four kids eat about as much as two and a half earlier models. With occasional gusts to three. And if I’m counting on them eating that little? They eat enough for six teenage boys who just got home from football practice.

Still – worth a bit of fussing, huh?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gwyl Canol Hydref

No, it isn’t a typo, or a keyboard gone desperately wrong. Don’t be afraid.

It’s just Welsh.

Literally? “Holiday Middle October” In practice? Starts the day before the autumn equinox. Friday, in case you aren’t passionately involved with an almanac.

I love Gwyl Canol Hydref. Love it. I developed a love for it when my life was more seasonal. The spring and summer were busy – a word which here can be translated to mean ‘psychotic’. Traveling all day Friday, putting in two ‘impossible’ days of performing, collecting my so-called income, traveling all day Monday to get home again, spending Tuesday cleaning my equipment, Wednesday putting the home life together, Thursday resting and then Friday? Back on the road again!

And then suddenly…right after the autumn equinox, when things were getting cold and the weather unchancy…I’d go from all that hustle and bustle to nothing at all.

It was rather a shock, the first year. And the second. Especially since my income essentially stopped. But after that? It became something I looked forward to, as I schlepped all that heavy stuff to and from the van, slept shivering amid my gear, dealt with ‘personalities’ throughout the fair circuit, got my stage time pimped by ‘her majesty the queen’ or some scholarly (nerd) type who felt the best time to launch into a long, long, LONG (boring, boring, BORING!) discourse on the historical significance of the song I was performing was in the middle of it! (This, I suspect, is why the fairs began putting bans on performers carrying weapons…)

I’d cling to Gwyl Canol Hydref through the heat and dust and endless stream of people asking if I could play Freebird (sigh) or Greensleeves (SIGH!!), and the brides who, after insisting for six weeks that they wanted nothing but period music for their very expensive period wedding, would gallop up five minutes before their ceremony to ask if I knew Stairway to Heaven. No? How about that song from that movie, you know, the one that goes la lallalalllaaaa laaaaaaa la la laaaaaa la? No? OK, they’d take Freebird… (ARGH!)

I’d cling to the knowledge that it was such a short time. I’d look up the equinox in the almanac. I’d circle it on the calendar. There. Right there. That was the beginning of the end. There’d be one or two little things that would struggle to extend past that date, but overall? That was it. The weather became too unreliable for outdoor fairs, the wedding trade falls off, even parties become few and far between. After all! Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all looming on the horizon – who wants to throw a bash in mid-October?!

And every autumn, I rejoiced to be at rest. That first free week, sitting in the apartment with a pot of tea and my knitting was sheer bliss. Oh. And a cat. Always a cat. Sometimes two, although then they’d fight and I’d have to separate them – and even then they’d shoot the occasional snide little paw at each other across my lap. Snuggled up beside me, nudging my hand with impatient little heads, demanding long-overdue scratches beneath their chins. Making beds for themselves beneath my shawl, purring frantically with the delight of having their servant back in the fold. (Hmm…wait a second…why is this making me think of my kids?!)

I’d have several weeks of ‘down’ time. Just puttering around, ‘getting around to’ all those things that had been on hold during the season. Organizing, straightening, reading all those books I’d been meaning to read, getting new music, restringing the harp, having the piano tuned. Still busy…just not frantic.

And I’d think. Oh my, how I’d think. I’d think more deeply about Things than at any other time of the year. I’d go for walks among the falling leaves, watch the other people going about their lives, breathe in the scent of autumn and think. About everything from the mundane to the sacred. The nature of the soul. The nature of lasagna.

Those days are long behind me now. The cats are gone (sniff!), as is the laziness of the season. Between having a ‘real’ job and the advent of children, well. There really isn’t a “down” season anymore. They are both constant, and have no hibernation period. It’s like…a fair season that just never ends.

Except that it will. And undoubtedly it will come as a ‘sudden shock’ when it does. Even though I have spent twenty-plus years planning for it and pondering it and ranting about it…it will still be sudden.

The habit of Gwyl Canol Hydref remains with me. I still circle it on the calendar, still regard its approach with eagerness. Even though I remain ridiculously busy, there is some part of me that slows down anyway.

It always seems to be when I find myself stepping back a few paces from my life and really looking at it. When I’m most open to changing what I’ve accepted as a status quo, when I find myself taking a compass reading on Things and deciding if I’m still going the way I want to go.

I watched the sunrise this morning. It was barely chilly in my California kitchen, a tiny hint of the cold to come. I sat with my coffee, listening to the sounds of morning, watching the light growing outside. The last blooms on my rosebushes becoming clearer and clearer, the rustling and chirping of birds. Leaves tumbling already onto the grass, yellow and brown.

The Wheel, turning again to Fall.

Always changing. Always moving. Not stopping to ensure anybody is particularly happy or content. Time keeps moving, each tick and tock bringing us that much closer to the end of our experience here.

What kind of experience we have is largely left up to us.

Life’s journey is going to pass, whether I’ve got my gaze cast down at my muddy old feet or up at the scenery as I walk. I’m going to arrive at the end whether I’ve taken a nice, safe highway or more…interesting paths.

Whether I’ve done my best to come to the end of it saying, “Damn. That? Was awesome!”, or chosen to **sigh**, you know, put up with ‘things’ until they were finally **sigh** over…that’s up to me.

The Wheel will turn, regardless.

And now, dear friends, excuse me.

I’m going for a walk, through the falling leaves, to pick up my children from school. To watch the other walking parents, and breathe in the scent of autumn.

And to think.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Gone in a flash

Otherwise entitled, What did you do with the precious 48 hours granted each week by your benevolent employer?

Well, um, I got this far on Boo Bug's new sweater:

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I’m rather charmed by this sweater. I keep stopping every few rows to shove it under my husband’s nose and say, “Lookit this. Isn’t this adorable?!”

He is a very patient man. And a very good actor. “Yes, that’s really gorgeous honey!” (I think he should record himself saying this and keep the recording handy. When he sees me charging at him with knitting in hand, he could just press ‘play’ and save his vocal cords.)

And, while sitting around the doctors office and then the pharmacy waiting (interminably) for Captain Adventure’s appointment / medications Saturday, I cast on and got shockingly far on a sock in KnitPicks Simple Stripes:

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Even more shockingly, I got within a few rounds of this far before one of the many, many, many people who stopped to comment on what I was doing pointed out that the colors here matched the shirt I was wearing (a favorite from Coldwater Creek) so well, you’d swear I had chosen this yarn on purpose. Which I hadn’t – it just came in the big Sampler box I got. And I had grabbed it because it was on top, and I was too pressed for time to be picky.

Weird, man, weird.

Other than that? Eh. Who cares. I cleaned a lot of things. Repeatedly. Did laundry. Repeatedly. Put ointment on Captain Adventure’s little tush. Repeatedly. Nagged my husband about my laptop. Repeatedly.

How sad is that? My life reads like the back of a shampoo bottle: Lather, rinse, repeat.

Do dishes. Do laundry. Clean bathroom. Pick up clutter. Dust.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And then we wonder why I occasionally go off on wild tirades where foul language and the words ‘day spa’, ‘am I the only person who can…’, ‘I wasn’t always like this!’, and ‘would it KILL you people to…’ can be heard amid the clatter of flung pots and pans, splashing water and slamming cupboard doors.

Fortunately, my family has learned just what to do under these circumstances: Put a big pillow in the rocking chair, hand me my knitting and say, “Didn’t you say you wanted to get a few rows in on this today?” Add a few Motrin and a glass of diet soda or wine (depending on whether the sun is anywhere near the yardarm at the time) and the rant can be averted faster than a kid can snatch a cookie out of the jar.

And now, here I am on my lunch hour, clutching the sock and about to go forth into the world to find out what-all happened around the neighborhood and the world this weekend, while I was cleaning, waiting, and knitting. It has been one of ‘those’ mornings, too – a lot of fires and issues and whaddya mean this or that didn’t happen? What idiot…oh wait…that was me…

Ah, weekend. I hardly knew ye…

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No disassemble! No disassemble!!

Too late. Disassemble is in process. In case you’ve ever wondered what a laptop looks like when taken apart…it’s something like this:

Remember last month, when I poured Merlot into my laptop? It turned out that there was no real damage to the hardware – just a coating of Merlot that caused…stickiness. Dell wouldn’t fix that. They said we should take it to a local computer shop and have them clean it.

There are two small problems with that: One, our local computer place is, uh…well. Let’s just say that I’ve seen their work around local businesses, and I will buy a new laptop before I let them touch one of mine. It will be cheaper and less frustrating.

And two…well. My husband spent many, many long years back in the day as a help desk geek technician, and a darned good one – let’s see, who do I trust more, some guy who was laid off six years ago and never quite managed to get another job, or my husband?

Hmmmmmmmmm…gimmie a minute…

So this morning he was brutally and repeatedly nagged remembered that he had meant to do this and took things apart.

One of the reasons I trust my husband more than the average computer guy? Check out the way he handles the zillions of screws involved in a laptop:

Uh-huh. They are taped to a schematic he drew. That’s the level of good he is. Me, I would have used a ramekin and then been surprised when I had five screws left over. Or spent a lot of hours cussing because I needed a longer screw but had no more of them so obviously I had used a long screw where a short screw would have done…but where? Where?! WHERE?!?!

He’s been working on this for over three hours now. The concentration! The muttering! The intense expression! The Mad Scientist hair!!

Yessir. This is how every red-blooded American male would like to spend his cherished Sunday. Fixing the laptop his mate poured red wine into while trying to hand him the phone because she didn’t want to talk to his old high school buddy for fear that, in a Merlot-induced spurt of honesty, she would say something like, “Oh for heaven’s sake, will you grow the @*^@ up and deal with your own problems for two minutes?!”. The laptop that she was told to take to a local computer repair shop, but instead was placed repeatedly on ‘his’ desk with comments such as, “But you’re so good at that kind of thing!” and “I just don’t trust Bill’s Bait Shop and Laptop Cleaning Service!” and “If you really loved me…!” (this is the lowest of all female bargaining methods, and I am deeply gratified that it occasionally works ashamed for using it).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Look ma, it’s some knitting!

The huge box arrived from KnitPicks a couple days ago, with all the yarn for the four remaining sweaters on my List of Knitting To Do Before It Gets Cold.

I cast on Boo Bug’s sweater and started working. Behold, the sweater so far:

Her Most Adorable Self is delighted. She examined it carefully this morning and declared my work a Good Job. She claims that when it is finished, she will wear it forever an’ ever.

I give it two weeks before I find it crammed under the bench seat of the family van…

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fantasy v. Reality

In my imagination, I look like this:

Alas, in real life? Eh…not so much:

In my defense, a scrunchy was pulled out of my hair shortly before this was snapped (hence that weird wavy-frizzy look), because the ponytail does not meet with My Lord and Master’s approval. Also, I really do take rotten pictures. There are almost no ‘good’ pictures of me. I like to believe my friends and family when they say I am much prettier than this “in person”.

That they say this at gunpoint does not make it any less true, right?

I’ve decided that my problem is I have no sustained vanity when it comes to Appearances. I have, rather, vanity bursts. Spurts of vanity. Moments when I say, “Dammit, I’m better than that! No really! I could be one fine babe!!! If I just applied myself a little…”

And I decide that I’m going to throw out all those awful slouchy t-shirts and stained up jeans and replace them with stuff from Coldwater Creek and Talbots, go to the gym to get rid of all the floppage, and get a cute little haircut and furthermore! Every Single Morning Without Fail I am going to go through the facial unguent routine and put on makeup AND ‘do’ my hair!

But apparently I have goldfish DNA in my memory cells, because five minutes later? The un-done-up hair is back in the ponytail and my un-made-up face is appearing above a t-shirt with grease marks I tell myself aren’t all that bad and besides! I’m just going about my day in the house, not going anywhere, and who gives a @*^&@, anyway?

Nobody is going to be asking for my autograph or saying, “Wow! Isn’t that the World Famous Tama ™? Oh my goodness, I never realized how…blotchy…she is, in real life…is that toddler drool in her hair?”

Yet occasionally, I will have these fits at an inopportune time. Say, while at a department store. I might catch a passing glimpse of myself in a mirror (invariably scowling unattractively because I’m thinking, “$38 for a blouse, are they CRAZY?!?!”), suffer a fit of vanity, and be within a five minute sprint of the Estee Lauder counter.

$200 later, I’m lugging home a little bag of bottles promising to reduce 57 signs of aging, erase lines, fade spots, lift sagging bits and in general make me look less hag-like. Which they don’t, possibly because I use them about three times, leave them on my counter until there is a coating of dust approximately six inches high on their lids, and then relegate them to the junk-tumble under the bathroom sink until they are discovered years later during an archeological dig in search of toilet paper.

Having just thrown away about six hundred such bottles, I am drafting a letter to my Congressman. It is my firm opinion that all unauthorized mirrors should be removed from department stores forthwith. Mirrors should be only in areas where a person would really, really want them: dressing rooms (although they should have a switch on them, so I can turn them off while I’m changing and back on again once I’ve covered my cottage-cheese thighs and belly-floppage), and at the cosmetics counter.

So much waste could be avoided by simply removing extra mirrors from department stores. And if he can’t see my logic, perhaps being pegged upside the head with a few almost full bottles of 1992 Wrinkle-B-Gone (1992 was such a good year for wrinkle remover creams!) will help him get the point…

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Sometimes it feels to me as though parenting is all about feeling guilty. Today, I got a nice healthy dose of Guilt at the pediatrician’s office.

Captain Adventure, it turns out, does not have a yeast infection. He has an infected wound. On his rectum (another word I dislike). He has two small tears, and an infection.

But wait! It gets better!!

This is serious, because the tears are deeper than they look. They look like wee little tears – but they are in a very bad location and appear to be growing.

In other words, my poor helpless little boy has been in rather acute discomfort for DAYS and DAYS, and was in full gallop toward requiring SURGERY to repair an ABCESS in his RECTUM!

We’re doing sitz baths three-four-five times a day for the rest of the week, slathering him with prescription anti-bacterial ointment three times a day and spackling with Desitin on every other diaper changing event, and then taking him to a doctor 35 miles away on Saturday morning to make sure he’s responding well enough and doesn’t require professional intervention to save him from his neglectful parents.

If guilt was ice cream, I would have gained about thirty pounds this morning.

I feel guilty for not rushing him in the moment I saw that stuff I deemed ‘kinda creepy looking’ around That Area. I feel guilty for not clutching him to my bosom and running to the doctor’s office the very first time he shrieked while pooping. I feel doubly awful for noticing that he was bleeding a little bit ‘down there’ and saying, “Dang, that’s a nasty rash you’ve got there, buddy” and slathering him with mere Desitin, instead of realizing immediately that this was no ordinary ‘I sat in a wet diaper for half an hour’ kind of rash.

I feel like the worst mother in the world right about now. I know I’m not. I know there are mothers out there who actively abuse their children. I know there are mothers out there who leave their children alone in the house with a loaf of Wonderbread and a jar of peanut butter while they go night-clubbing. OK? I know. I’m not the worst there is.

But I still feel pretty low. These are the moments when I want to hurl my laptop out the window, call my boss and shriek, “I QUIT!” into the phone, bring them all home and never take my eyeballs off them again.

Of course, then I’d feel guilty because we’d be back to the whole ‘no, honey, we can’t afford that’ thing all the time. Because I’m not setting a “girls can earn just as much as boys, and be as good at this as boys, and otherwise kick butt like boys” example for my little girls. Because I’m not putting into the retirement fund. Because I’m not putting into the college funds. Because now, thanks to me, instead of doing better than average, we’re just treading water.

When it comes to the parental guilt thing, I couldn’t win if you paid me to lose.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my cilice…

Things I Never Thought I’d Do

Item 3,716: Googling “Bright red rash anus yellow paste toddler painful bowel movement”.

I suspect with this, I have told you all about (and way more than you ever wanted to know about) my week so far. I’m about to take Captain Adventure to the doctor for a suspected anal yeast infection.

Have. You. Ever. Heard. Of. Such. A. Thing. In. Your. LIFE?!

But parents of male-type babies, be aware: if your son has been taking antibiotics for ear infections or strep or what-have-you, and he develops a persistent bright red rash right around his little anus (I hate that word, by the way), and then you notice a funky kind of pasty stuff ‘down there’?

It might be a yeast infection, just like we girl-types get, erm, a little bit north of that area under similar circumstances.

I had no idea boys could get that. Not that easily, anyway – I thought it would take more work to give a boy a yeast infection.

And, by the way, Item 3,717 on the list: Saying the words, “Anal yeast infection” into a phone.

Never thought I’d use those words together in a sentence like that, either.

The joys of parenting are truly without end…

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

A woman facing drug charges admitted in court that she smoked marijuana with her 13-year-old son, often to reward him for doing his homework.

Gee. Now, why didn’t I think of that?! And I was just thinking to myself that our treat basket has gotten, well, kind of dull lately. Smarties, miniature Tootsie rolls, ‘fun sized’ Starbursts, plastic kazoos, temporary tattoos and jet-dry nail polish. Not exactly the best bribes, I thought to myself. Hmm, I asked myself, whatever shall I do to spice things up around here…?

Thank $DEITY, the Internet is always there for me, giving me just the ideas I need for creative and fun ways to encourage my Denizens to do their homework!

Apparently, we’re just in time

My Denizens have spent roughly half of the last eight years in daycare, full or part time. Putting your children into someone else’s care is a tricky business. This last time, I went around to several places balancing cost versus ‘creep factor’ before I settled on the two we eventually chose, even though the cost factor was high enough to make me weep every time I wrote the weekly checks.

And I’ve been congratulating myself that it has worked out well, very well indeed, because the children are happy to be going. It is a sure sign that their caregivers are, if not Mary Poppins level good, at least not evil if the children are happy about going to school.

Either that, or they give out candy wholesale and let them have cake for lunch.

When we first began discussing taking the older two out of their before/after school care, we had yowls of protest from Eldest. She didn’t want to give up the arts and crafts and time with her friends and so forth. Not to come back to the boring old Den, with her boring old parents doing their boring old work.

Then suddenly, a few weeks ago, she allowed that she didn’t mind. She didn’t mind a bit. And as the days have passed, she’s become downright anxious about when, exactly, that last day is going to be.

It occurred to me to wonder: why this sudden change of heart? Because she’d been complaining and protesting all the way down the road and then suddenly…she’s OK with it? What gives?

I’ll tell you what gives.

There’s a new teacher at the daycare.

And she isn’t very nice.

Specifically – she isn’t very nice to Eldest.

We all know this type, right? The type who singles out a kid or two and just rides them like a rodeo bull? Everybody else can be swinging from the chandeliers, but if you so much as walk past with an untied shoelace, FIRE AND BRIMESTONE RAIN DOWN FROM ON HIGH!!!!!

When I asked Eldest what was up here, she said, “Well, she just isn’t particularly nice. She took away my crafts, and she said I spent too much time in the bathroom. So she sets a timer when I go in there, and if I don’t come out in time she bangs on the door and tells me I have to get out.”

Mother Chaos is not pleased.

See, it would be different, I think, if Eldest was the kind of kid who…painted the table with glue while doing crafts. Or, who would sit there doing crafts shouting, “Ha, ha, I’m doing craaaaafts while you do hoooooomework!” at the kids who don’t finish their homework in eleven seconds flat like she does. Or if she were a kid who considered the bathroom her personal playground.

But she isn’t. There are three other kids in the center who have come under this woman’s hairy eyeball, and I’m going to put on my armchair psychologist hat and theorize what’s going on there: this teacher is a very linear-thinking, curt, emotionally distant (why do people like this go into childcare of all things?!), opinionated and yet, alas, not all that bright, individual.

The three kids in question are extremely bright, outgoing, questioning and free-thinking types. The types who think in intuitive leaps rather than going A…then B…then C…The types who will ask “why” not in a whining, how-do-I-get-around-you way, but in a ‘no really, why? what is the scientific backing of your theory? on what evidence have you drawn this conclusion? let us come together and discuss!’ kind of way (yes – it is very annoying sometimes and yes – I say ‘because I said so!’ quite frequently).

In other words, polar opposites.

I am so glad not to be going through this again. Isn’t that evil of me? But I am. I am so glad I don’t have to get in there and complain and chat and ‘raise concerns’ and carry on about Things, trying to either change this woman’s behavior or get her the @*^& out of my children’s life.

Been there, done that. I leave that battlefield to the younger fighters for now. I will alert the mothers of the Oppressed (all of whom, coincidentally, I know – their children have all spent considerable time here in the Den hanging out and asking annoying questions I can’t answer because I’m NOT SMART ENOUGH), and leave the fight to them.

I know they will fight it well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Curse you, Evil Overlord!

It was with a twinge of panic that I saw Captain Adventure seizing the handle of my knitting basket. Because he is two, and two + knitting = disaster.

However, as I was up to my elbows in greasy water (don’t ask), there was little I could do but yelp, “Hooooney…no no! Put mommy’s knitting down, honey!”

But no. The boy was not going to let go of Mommy’s knitting. The basket is as big as he is, but he seized the handle manfully and began dragging. He dragged it right over to me, pushed it against my calf, grinned up at me and announced, “Tha’go!” (Toddler-to-English translation: “There you go!”).

Mission accomplished, he galloped off.

A less experienced Evil Overlord Mother might consider this a sign that He Understands: the knitting basket is mommy’s property and should not be tampered with.

This being my fourth, however, I have a slightly different take on it. Yes, there may be a certain understanding that the knitting basket is mommy’s. But more importantly: the knitting basket is something that tends to absorb mommy’s attention. Now, why do you suppose he’d want to bring me something that would do that, huh?

So I watched him as he hopped back into the playroom, stopped, and cast a furtive glance over his shoulder in my direction. A look of dismay crossed his devilishly handsome features when he saw me looking at him.

Uh-huh. Time to wash and dry my hands, because he’s definitely up to something.

“What are you up to?” I asked him. He ran back over to me, pushed the basket yet more firmly against my leg, gestured at the knitting within, smiled with utmost charm, and repeated firmly, “THA’GO!!!”

Aaaaaaaaaaand walked nonchalantly back into the playroom, pointedly not looking at me. Nope, not even a little bit interested in what the Mommy is up to in there {sneaks glance over shoulder, hides behind the sofa}


So I pretended not to be watching him. He peered from behind the sofa. I pretended to be absorbed in the knitting basket. He disappeared behind the sofa again. There was rustling, then tearing, then the sound of something clattering on the floor.


I got up, walked over, and peered over the edge of the sofa. Someone had left a box of Cowtown Cookies in the playroom, which he had found and wisely decided to hold off getting into until the Evil Overlord Mother was distracted by yarn. He had already shoved two or three into his mouth and was clutching several in each chubby little hand.


Now, there are several courses of action a guy can take under the circumstances.

You can try gathering up the loot and making a break for it, but historically speaking this seldom works out well.

You can try screaming, crying, and pounding your fists and/or head on the floor in the hopes that this time, it will work. Painful, and again historically speaking…doesn’t tend to work out well.

Or, you can try charm. While not 100% guaranteed, it at least has a shot.

So he grinned up at me, exposing chocolate-coated teeth and dribbling chocolate-drool down his chin. He stood up, still smiling, and pressed two broken, somewhat damp chocolate cow shaped cookies into my hand.

“Tha’ go!” he said magnanimously. I shook my head at him. He sighed, looked down at the box and the scattered contents ruefully. “Moh?” he asked, halfheartedly.

“No. Put them back in the box, honey,” I said firmly. It took such effort not to start laughing I almost popped. He had such a look on his face, the wheels visibly turning in his head. Do I comply, or do I cry? Should I play dumb, or play along?

“Back in box,” I repeated, picking up a cookie and suiting action to words. He looked at the cookies in his hand. He looked at the box. Cookies. Box.


He put them into the box, picked up some more and put them in the box. Snuck another one into his mouth along the way, glancing at me sidelong.

“Captain. Adventure.” I said warningly, the ‘.’ very clearly enunciated. The only thing worse than the use of the whole name is the use. of. periods. between. each. name.


One by one, the cookies went back in the box. Reluctantly, the box was handed over. The Evil Overlord dispensed two of the cookies back to their previous owner (which is my way of reinforcing the use of ‘charm’ rather than ‘throw myself on the floor and slam my head against it repeatedly while screaming bloody murder’ for such occasions) and put the box away.

It was a valiant effort. The Evil Overlord Mother was not thwarted this time, but next time?

He’s using the ventilation ducts.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Harlot Was Seen

I almost didn’t go. I really almost didn’t go. I was a bit sore and it had been a busy week and so forth and so on…but then two things happened that sort of drove me out.

One was that my husband got all up in my face and pushy about it. I seldom leave the house these days, frankly, and he felt (correctly) that I was becoming somewhat squirrely and even depressed for lack of human interaction.

The other was that my Gran (the ‘almost halfway’ point between My House and Los Altos) got sick last week, hence giving me a compulsive need to drive out and see her. And since I was halfway there…well. In for a pence, in for a pound.

So the plan was: drive to Gran’s house, visit and have lunch, drive down to Los Altos in plenty of time, hang out and knit with a nice big coffee (or three), listen to her speak, laugh maniacally, get a book signed and be home again by 9:30.


So instead, I barely left my Gran’s house in time to hear her speak at all. I came skidding into the event ten minutes late and limping badly because my hip had declared outright mutiny about halfway there. ARGH!

This ARGH! is not a declaration of anger. It is what I did to pretend I wasn’t in pain. “ARGH, belay that, matey! ARGH! I always walk like this! ARGH! That’s me peg leg, ARGH! Up anchor! ARGH! Man the capstan! ARRRRRRRRRGH!!”

Fooled nobody, but as I am easily amused, I laughed heartily. Har-har-har. Matey.

Anyway. Let us move on.

Stephanie is hysterical. If you are a knitter at all, she’s funny. But if you are a knitter who has knit in public, she is extremely funny. And if you are the sort of fiber-obsessed lunatic who has ever washed a fleece in public (raises hand), spun yarn in public (raises hand – on stage, no less), talked about going to knitting / fiber conventions with great excitement to muggles (raises hand and heaves heavy sigh)…she is downright screaming with laughter funny.

Because Stephanie has given me so many hours of pleasure, through her blog and her writing, so many really good laughs when I really needed them, I was overcome with the need to give her something out of my stash.

I dug through that stash about a dozen times. I kept returning to a skein of Lisa Souza’s handpainted Merino sock yarn, in Joseph’s Coat. What struck me about this was, I thought it might – just maybe – be a ‘colorful’ sock yarn that Stephanie’s husband might actually wear. Because when you knit it all up? They’re rather manly. I had made a pair of socks for my brother, who like Steph’s Joe, is…erm…well, he’s not afraid of color, because that would be unmanly. But he is also a guy of very basic color schemes in clothing: navy blue, brown, black, white. But he’ll like these socks. They aren’t girlie, and they aren’t too busy.

It was a good price point, not ‘I’m so snotty I’m giving away a $75 skein of yarn’ (while I’m sure this is just me, I get embarrassed and/or creeped out when people give me expensive gifts – doubly so an Internet stranger), not ‘here, this is a $2 ball of rotgut wool I got at a garage sale that goes with nothing else and isn’t quite enough to make anything – my gift to you!’ cheap, it’s a really good yarn that makes really nice socks…perfect.

Also, there’s an amusing story about how I discovered Lisa’s yarns. I didn’t tell Stephanie the story because, bless her brave soul, it was 9:30 at night by the time I made it to the front of the line to get my book signed and give her my token of esteem. She looked exhausted, her voice was giving out, and in spite of my well-documented habit of chatting ad nauseum at people who really would rather eat their own heads than listen to me right about then, even I realized that this would not be a good time to launch into any tales about yarn significance.

So I shut up, handed her the skein and told her briefly that it knitted up ‘manly’ and might actually work for Joe, took my signed book, refrained from eating up any more time she could have spent sleeping with gushing adoration, and left. Limping all the way. ARGH, MATEY!!!

My fellow knitters were likewise a lot of fun. I would not have stayed for the signing, frankly, because due to my late arrival I was in the signing group that would have been lining up at about 10:00 and I was getting more sore by the minute.

But then! Well, I went to Starbucks for a pick-me-up and got embroiled in discussing knitting socks on two circulars, and the merits and perils of superwash, why it was that so many of us were so crazy, whether or not women who designed ‘those’ sweaters for men actually had husbands and/or boyfriends or even a brother they had tried to wrestle into one of them (my husband is artistic and not a bit color or pattern phobic, and yet he has expressed outright horror at some of the things in those ‘fabulous sweaters for men’ books). We talked about children, pets, and their effect on knitting supplies. We admired each other’s knitting.

And I must say: I have never, ever before in my life taken off my shoe to display the toes of my socks in a Starbucks. I swear it. Not only have I never done so, I certainly have never done so and had a crowd of about eight people gathering around to look at how a Kitchener stitch ends up looking when you do it ‘right’.

“See?” I proudly declared. “Honestly, there’s no lump under your toe, when you do them this way!!”

This is something that just Would.Not.Happen in real life. Nor would anybody be turning your foot over so they could look at how you picked up the gusset stitches, and you would not be sitting there gushing about how you pick up through BOTH loops and then knit one round through the back loop to avoid having any holes. And I guarantee you, in real life, if you did? Nobody would be writing that down.

But knitters? We do that kind of thing. We will also gasp, “Wow, is that silk?” and then start petting your hand-knit shawl. We really will. And because you are likewise a knitter, you do not take offense. That this is odd does not really occur to us.

The yarn store was between the Starbucks and my car, so naturally I swung back in ‘briefly’ to pick up a couple books I had seen, two skeins of light pink yarn that would make nice socks for my Gran and a violently yellow and orange sock yarn for two of the Denizens. One of the women from Starbucks asked me to give my lecture on heel gussets again, and once again got embroiled in a debate about socks on two circulars v. socks on double pointed needles (on which topic, naturally, I have An Opinion), whether or not cables were ‘hard’, why it was that everybody in the world didn’t knit and all of a sudden, just when no-I-mean-it-this-time, I was leaving, the Lady In Charge Of These Things said, “What group are you in?” and I said, “Well, I’m sort of a walk(limp)-in, I got here late…” and she said, “Oh, just go ahead and get in line, it looks like we’re about done.”

So I did. And it was 9:30 when I finally hobbled up to the desk. 9:30 being, you may recall, the time I thought I would be getting home.

I stopped for coffee twice on the way home, so I could shake out my hip (get down, funky momma!) and eventually yawned my way through the garage and up to bed.

It was good to be among my people, among people who understand things like…having the need to pet the cashmere yarn, or to bury your face in a particularly sexy skein of alpaca and just breathe in its essence. I know this is not normal behavior. I generally try to blend into normal society. I don’t think that, looking at me, you’d say to yourself, “Say…that looks like someone who would spend half an hour debating the relative merits and disadvantages of Superwash Merino…”

But it takes an effort. And it’s good, sometimes, to just drop the pretence and say it like it is. I’m a fiber-obsessed knitter who will buy a book full of patterns I never really intend to do because I appreciate the artistry of the designer.

$DEITY bless you for bringing us all together, Stephanie, and making us laugh about our unnatural obsession. Hope you got a good night’s sleep, and that decent beer and a massage are coming your way soon.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Never has 4:00 come so slowly

Thank. The. Everliving. $DEITY. The air conditioner has just kicked on, a sure sign that it is 4:00. The sun has officially gone over the yardarm for this week in history.

WOO HOO! Let the hair down and start drinkin’!!! Er! I mean…let us put on our weekend attire and retire to the patio for some refreshments.

Seriously. I thought 4:00 would never, ever get here today. Never. Ever. I was starting to think I was going to be stuck forever and ever in this endless Friday workday.

It has been that kind of day. Started at 6:00 this morning, didn’t get off to lunch until 1:30. THEN I wasted half of it ranting on my blog while overcooking my lunch. And then, halfway through eating?

Emails. IM. The @*^& cell phone rang. BONG! **swoosh! swoosh!** Bong! BONG! {chirp, chirp} RING!

My dining room sounded like a Best Buy at Christmas time. And then, my phone began putting forth a truly bizarre cacophony of sound. Such a weird combination of chirps, rings, swoopy noises and buzzing, I have never heard from my Treo before.

Welllll, turns out, it was trying to simultaneously field a call from my mother, a client in Texas, and tell me that I had a new voicemail message. I picked it up trying to discover why it was making such racket, hit the wrong button and had no choice but to talk to the Chosen One I found myself connected to: The Texan client!

Of course it was the client in Texas. My mother would have been more forgiving about the fact that I, the Expensive Database Consultant, had been confounded by something as basic as a cell phone and accidentally answered it with a mouth full of noodles.

Have you ever tried to subtly eat Ramen noodles while talking on a cell phone?

Have you ever succeeded? At the subtle part, I mean? Because I…did not. “Oh, did I catch you during lunch?”

Yes, princess, you did. Yes, it is odd that I am eating lunch at 2:00 on a Friday. I further recognize that out in your neck of the woods, it is 4:00 – which makes it practically dinner time. I bear you no ill will, however, because I did in fact have the ‘ignore’ button option, and did not choose to use it. Or at least, I would have had the ‘ignore’ button option, except that my phone was kind of freaked out and trying to show me multiple phone numbers and I hit the button that said ‘OK’ and suddenly…there you were.

Which is really not your fault, now, is it.

Besides. It’s just that kind of day. It’s the kind of day when you find out that the yarn you just bought at full price three days ago went on sale at 40% off, or that the only relative in the whole extended family you just really can’t stand is planning to visit for three weeks, or that the full-sized freezer full of meat in the garage has been sitting there with the door ajar for a week.

That’s the kind of day it is. It doesn’t even have the decency to be truly life threatening. Just…annoying.

That’s what today was. Just…annoyance after annoyance after annoyance. For hour upon hour upon hour. From 6:00 a.m. until fifteen minutes ago, a steady stream of annoyances have been preying upon my psyche.

But no more!!

First order of business: Shower.
Second order of business: Cosmopolitan martini.
Third order of business: Sausage in Polenta into the oven.
Fourth order of business: Find somewhere to hide until the Denizens are safely in their little beds.

Happy weekend, everybody. If only the next two days could be as long as today felt…

Lunchtime at last

I don't want to work today. I don’t know why. I couldn’t tell you why. I’m just…not in the mood. That my mood has no bearing whatsoever on the need for my ‘stuff’ to get done is beside the point: I would rather be knitting, or watching a movie, or cleaning the upstairs bathroom.

Seriously. This is how not in the mood I am. Toilet cleanliness is higher on my list of things I’d rather be doing.

Maybe my lack of interest has to do with the fact that I’ve had a Crazy-Mad week at work this week. Of course I did – it’s month close! Duh! ALWAYS a time of madness. Throw in the full moon last night and well. What do you expect?!

Maybe it’s because I’m having a sore week in the joint (no, not THOSE kind, the knee-hip-wrist kind!) department. Of course I’m having a sore week! Because this is a Crazy-Mad week! Murphy would not rest easy if I didn’t have every conceivable inconvenience piled upon me!

Speaking of which, Captain Adventure is either coming down with something, or his back molars are coming in. Fussy? ‘Fussy’ does not begin to cover it. He is downright irritable. To the point of screaming and kicking when you try to appease him. “Look, honey, here’s some nice cold juice! Let me hold you and rock you in our chair!” “No! INFIDEL! I shall not be so easily appeased!!! I shall slam my head on the floor, and I shall kick any who dare to approach…WHY AREN’T YOU APPROACHING?!?!?!”

All of which brings me to this:

What’s this? Well, it is the Most Boring Baby Blankie I Have Ever Knit™! It goes like this:

K10 border, K5, [K11, Slip 1] to last 15, K5, K10 border
K10 border, P to last 10, K10 border
Repeat until you grow old and die

It is actually a nice little blankie. There is nothing wrong with it, as a blankie. And the needles are nice and big, and don’t hurt my hands – a nice change from those wee little #3 needles I used for Captain Adventure’s sweater.


And it made me realize something: when I’m knitting for Stitches from the Heart, I tend to do very simple things. I do the 5 hour baby sweater, or any number of preemie patterns I’ve downloaded from the web. I do basic blankie patterns: squares, textures, simple things.

Why don’t I do the kinds of things I do for my family and friends? Why don’t I make this?

Or a couple of these?

Especially given that they’re constantly asking for toddler sized things. Why the blue blazes don’t I make them cool things?!

And then I realized: I feel a need for speed on these. I feel impelled to make more things, rather than cool things.

I further realized that this is rather stupid of me. They have a lot of knitters busily working to make things. So if I were to take longer to make cooler things, I sincerely doubt I will be reading headlines tomorrow about shivering babies dying due to a lack of donated hand-knits.

I really, truly doubt it.

So. After I get this box of The Usual out the door, I’m going to get me some decent busy-mommy-friendly (read as, machine wash/dry) yarn and fill the next box with Cool Things.

Who knows? Maybe it will rekindle my interest in working…you never know how the psyche will respond to things…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not for the Short

I’m hearing a lot these days about ‘vertical storage’. “Use the wall! Use the wall!” they shriek on shows like Clean Sweep. And then they cheerfully go on to build these gorgeous and elaborate storage systems that run right on up that sinfully wasted wall space, with little cubbies and boxes and whatnot to store all your stuff, vertically. You could fit the entire cargo of a fully-loaded Mayflower truck into a single 8x10 vertical space.

Vertical storage is one of those idea which sounds really good on paper to me. I have a lot of stuff, and being able to run it up an otherwise ‘wasted’ wall has a certain appeal.

Except for one tiny little detail: I’m 5’3” (when wearing shoes) (which I only do when it’s really cold, or I think I’m going somewhere soon).

What this means in Real Life is…well. Take, for example, this imposing feat of vertical storage:

To me, this would mean I had two usable shelves, and three that would forever mock me with their inaccessibility. I could no more reach them than fly. Not even with a step stool could I reach them – the desk would mean I had to lean waaaaaaaay over to try to reach them. Even a ladder would be precarious at best.

This is the problem I face with all vertical storage solutions. We have a huge big shelf out in the garage for storing our bulk purchases. The bottom four shelves are packed. The top two contain only those things my husband, Mr. 6’4”, has put away. And when I need something from Nosebleed Country, I have to wait until he’s around to get at them.

Because when he’s gone, he’s usually taken the car, and the car roof is my Secret Weapon for getting to those upper shelves.

The other thing that happens with things stored On High is that I can’t see things that may have been stuck on top of other things. Say, for example, that I have quite sensibly put a box of yarn on the top shelf in the office closet. And then let’s say that somebody…somebody tall…has come along behind me and maliciously put something else on top of the box. Let’s say, just for the sake of example, that they have put a lidded-but-not-fastened sewing box full of pins, needles, and several small spools of thread, on top of the box of yarn.

I cannot see this smaller box on top of the bigger one. So I use whatever precarious method I deem necessary to get to where I can grab the bigger box, and I start to tip it down off the shelf, only to be confronted with the sight of the smaller box, invariably opening and raining its contents down upon my upturned face, hurtling down from its invisible perch.

These are the pitfalls presented by vertical storage that you never hear anybody on Clean Sweep mention: “Oh, by the way, watch out for loose pens, dust, paperclips, sewing implements, live ammunition, Cadillac tires, or live reptiles when you take stuff down from up there, sport!”

Which is my problem with these reality-based ‘home improvement’ shows: They leave out all the really valuable information, and discriminate against those of us who aren't tall enough to touch the bottom of a 7' shelf.

Shakes on a plane

Can’t talk…laughing…NOT WORK APPROPRIATE (no noise, just subject matter)…shakes on a plane, oh my DAWG…!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Finished Object!

Otherwise entitled: One down, four to go!

Hmm. Now I’ve gone and depressed myself. Let’s look at a picture – that’ll cheer me up!

This sweater caused me to use, for the very first time, my Kenmore sewing machine. My husband bought me this machine about ten years ago, while he was laboring under the impression that I was ‘crafty’. As in, did crafts. As in, would need a better sewing machine than the one I had.

Let me just get this out in the open right here, right now: I. Do. Not. Sew.

I knit. That’s it. I don’t sew. What sewing I do involves seaming things I have knitted; and even that I don’t do in a sewing sort of way. I do it in a grafting sort of way, which is different.

I took a sewing class once. Never even got to the point where we flipped on the sewing machines – not really because I was that stupid, but because my babysitter got all flaky on me and I had to stop going to the class because she stopped showing up. Or when she did show up, her boyfriend would show up a few minutes after I left and they’d take the kids with them. Without car seats. In his truck.

{rubs forehead}

Anyway. My old sewing machine is a vintage Singer Featherweight. It has two speeds: going, and not-going. It has three stitch lengths to choose from, can go forward, or backward, and that’s about it. You can do buttonholes if you’re cunning. It can punch through three layers of denim (or needlepoint and felt); fortunately, I’m not all that into silk so I don’t care that it would turn it into something that resembled my pantyhose after a four day weekend picking blackberries. If I were crazed enough to wear pantyhose on a blackberry picking expedition, which I’m not. Not quite, anyway.

But I digress.

The Kenmore, on the other hand, has about eleventy-twelve different stitch types. Zigzags and hilly looking things, short, long, doubled…and for each stitch type, you have different lengths. It has a bunch of ziggy-whatzits for the thread. It has a light (you know, for if you’re sewing in the dark), and this funky antenna thing that turned out to be where the thread spool was supposed to go. Fancy that!

Anyway, I’ve felt guilty about that Kenmore ever since I opened it up on Christmas morning, 1995. So when confronted with the need to run a double set of machine stitches around the steek stitches on this little sweater, I whipped it out and spent the next hour cussing and sweating and fighting until I figured it out put in the stitches.

You know the thing I dislike most about making sweaters? The finishing work. That part when, even though you’re “done”, you’re…not done. I’ve done all the work, right? Now I’m “just on to the finishing.”


Setting in the sleeves, capping the cut ends of the steeks, picking up and knitting XXX stitches neatly around the neck, working in K1/P1 rib for EIGHT CENTIMETERS, fold over to inside and stitch down…

Geesh. Hours and hours and hours later, I really am asking myself what I was thinking deciding to make a sweater for anybody, even a wee little lad of two years.

But then, it’s adorable. Which makes me decide it was all worth doing and I’d really love to do it again.

Boo Bug has been pestering me about making her sweater ever since his began to look like a sweater. Yesterday morning she came up to me hugging herself pathetically, shivering noisily, and said with many dramatic flourishes designed to impress the gravity of the situation upon me, “Mommy, it’s SO COLD in here! I think I need my NEW SWEATER now!!”

For the record? It was about 74 degrees in the house. If you’re a Hollywood agent, please call me. I have the next Shirley Temple here in the Den. Big beautiful blue eyes, sincere smile, and she says “here” as if she were from Maine: Hear-yah!

So now, while I wait for the ridiculously large box of yarn for the other four sweaters to arrive from KnitPicks (CURSE THEM, for enabling me so!), I’ve moved on.

A baby blanket, in mostly straight stockinette with a single slipped-stitch detail every twelve stitches.


It sounded like a good idea when I cast on. It really did. Honestly, it did. And it looks just fine. Soft, and cute, and all that. It’s just that…well…


Fortunately, it’s on large needles and is knitting up with satisfying speed. And sleep-knitting is almost as restful as actual sleep. At least, that’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it…