Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sorrow, somewhat delayed

I haven’t been to my local yarn store in months…the last time was early January, when I popped in for a set of needles and some stitch markers. Between having a stash that borders on insane and not having much money to spend anyway, I’ve actually been kind of avoiding the place – there was always something there to tempt me, you see.

But of course it couldn’t last, so today I was going to pop in for an emergency set of #6 circulars and no more yarn, seriously, I am de-stashing right now. (And fully expecting I’d buy something anyway, because somehow I always do.)

She’s gone. Kathy Kindred, owner of K2 Knits, died back on January 12, of a heart attack.

All I can think is, BUT! She’s wasn’t OLD!

Which is asinine, of course. Heart attacks don’t care how old you are…or how much you loved life, or how vital you were to a community, or how much you were loved and respected by it.

Even though I was one of those highly irregular customers, she always remembered me. She knew my name, what I liked, how to tempt me, how old my children were. She even remembered that my boy was a bonafide Yarn Monster, and would ask after him when he wasn’t with me. She had a great and ready laugh, and a tremendous love for her store – it was so tiny it was vaguely ridiculous, and she had to show great ingenuity and inventiveness to keep it well-stocked.

Oh my god, I will miss her so much. I will miss her laugh and poking around that tiny store looking for treasures. I will miss how she kept boxes of stock in the bathroom, the eternal ‘yarn in waiting’ – waiting for a space to open up on the main floor.

…how many times did I find myself crouched in that bathroom, rummaging through a box, because she’d said, “Tama! Go and look in that box in the bathroom, it’s awesome!”…

I will miss the store, too. Losing Kathy hurts the most…losing the store is a kiss of acid on the open wound. There are stores with bigger footprint, stores with more yarn, stores with fancier layouts and bigger staffs and vast collections of everything…but none had bigger heart.

Because Kathy was that heart, and it permeated the whole place.

Rest in peace, Kathy. If our tears at your leaving make coinage in heaven, well, money will be no object as your build your after-world stash.

Need more hours per day pls-k-thx

I’ve been trying to get my stash settled on Ravelry. And may I just pause for a moment here to say serves me right, because how many times have I thought, Gee, my stash is SO out of date on Ravelry, perhaps I should…NAH! I’m going to do something else instead!…and now I’m finding it verrrrrrrry slow going as I go through everything saying, “Oh, I used that all up…” “That picture is terrible, I need a new one…” {upload… upload… uplooooooad… please wait, upLOADing…}

Of course, what really slows me down isn’t so much that, as everything else.

Sunday, my husband was trimming a tree in front of the house. In an feat of such sheer improbability that my mind is still boggled, one of the limbs fell in such a way that it broke the water main.

Let me say that again. It broke the WATER MAIN.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, WTF?! Aren’t those usually METAL?

Why yes, yes they are. Except that ours had, oooooh, about 1/2" of PVC at the very bottom that had been exposed by twenty years of erosion. This is where the improbability-factor enters, because seriously…what are the chances that a target that small would take a direct hit from a limb that shouldn’t have fallen that direction in the first place?!

Of course, this is not taking into account my husband’s raging PVC curse. The man cannot do anything in the yard without smashing PVC. It’s just a given. He touches a shovel, PVC will explode, somewhere in the yard. In fact, he’d already broken the main drainage pipe from the backyard that weekend. HAHAHAHAHA, we all said. There’s your PVC curse at work again, dear, HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Yeah. So. Approximately 60,000 gallons of water roared from the broken pipe while my husband frantically tried to turn off the main valve down at the street – which was, naturally, jammed. Eventually he got the water turned off and he looked at the damage and said, “OK…uh, I think I can…hmm…no, it’s…welded with…uh…”

I waited, confidently, for him to say, “OK, I know what to do.” He’s a handy guy, and given his looooong history of breaking PVC, well. I just naturally assumed there is no PVC he can’t fix.

So you can imagine my surprise when he looked up and said, “I have no idea how to go about fixing this. I think we’re going to have to call a plumber.”

My first thought? ON A SUNDAY ARE YOU MAD?!?!

That right there is when they show up, write “$1,000” at the top of the bill and then say, “OK! So, what am I doing for you folks today?”

So we went without any running water for about twenty hours. It’s amazing, really, how irritating and difficult that was. Really gives you pause to contemplate how close we are to disaster, here in our comfortable suburban homes. Take away our running water, and we’re just…lost.

I can’t imagine what would happen if everybody lost their running water all at once…but I have a feeling it would get ugly, fast.

Anyway, so, much of Monday was spent dealing with the plumbers and the no-water issues. When they got the water fixed, there was then the matter of getting the mud out of all the faucets. SEE, the main was gushing for quite a while before the shutoff valve finally gave way before the husband’s brute force and profanity – it gushed both all over the yard, and into its own pipes a bit…spraying a nice blend of clay and other stuff into the water supply of the Den.


This morning, I went with Himself to the hospital to do all the prep work for his CT scan. He’s been having some pretty nasty abdominal cramps lately, off and on, so to eliminate the possibility of partial blockage or other things that could kill you, they’re doing a scan.

I went with him because he is incapable of dealing with insurance forms in any way, shape or form and probably would have signed something that resulted in another $28,000 bill being dropped on my HEAD thank you very much wanted me to.

And in a few minutes, I’m picking up Boo Bug to take her to an ear specialist because she is abruptly losing her hearing. Tests at the pediatrician’s office showed that her ear drum simply isn’t vibrating the way it should, possibly due to way too much fluid being in there. Sigh.

I feel like a truly terrible mother, because after the obligatory ohmygawd, is it permanent, will this hurt, what on EARTH do you DO about that?! moment, my very next thought was, Oh crap, bet THIS is going to cost two arms, a leg and an interest in the hot place.

Tomorrow is the CT scan itself, and the early-release day for Captain Adventure, who has been a real…ahem…challenge lately. He’s got one of those strongly expressed personalities, which is a nice way of saying he is a stubborn little @*&^@ who does exactly what he pleases when he pleases and pfffffffffffffft! to anybody who doesn’t like it.

He got hungry Saturday, and rather than come bug me about it, he just went to the freezer, found some chicken nuggets, piled about twenty of them into a bowl, stuck them in the microwave, and punched 1-5-0-0 and then hit start.

Fortunately, I heard the bowl rattling and my inquiring mind wanted to know who was doing what. I can only imagine what chicken nuggets nuked for fifteen minutes would have ended up doing in there…also, I’m so relieved he didn’t put a fork into the bowl while he was at it.

So pretty much at this point, I’m looking at Thursday before I’ll get back to my stash on Ravelry. Argh.

I need more time in a day. Or, I need to be able to get by on less sleep. Either way. It’s getting extremely frustrating, this constant inability to get any headway on things.

It’s not exactly a new problem, of course. I am seldom sitting around bored without a thing to do. It’s usually pretty much the opposite, where I’m doing things and worrying about the things I’m not doing and rushing hither and yon to handle-it-handle-it-handle-it.

On the other hand, though, these last couple weeks have been brutal. Time goes by too fast, and there are simply too many things to do.

These are the days when I sit back and think, rather sarcastically, Yeah, uh-huh, and you’re going to take on a full-time OUT OF THE HOUSE job?! Lemme know how that works out for ya…

To which I must reply, Yes…I need to get a full-time job, so I can REST…

Anyway, must go and get the Deaf One from school and hie her over to the verrrrrrrry expensive ear specialist.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Money Monday: March 30, 2009

As we steam ahead into the second quarter, I’m settling in for a long look at the overall Goals and Objectives.

I think I’ve set the old bar a bit too low, you know?

I could be making a lot more money, but then this combination of laziness and fear of success sets in and I just kind of let it go.

The laziness I understand …shoot, everybody gets tired from time to time…but honestly my fear of actually becoming wealthy kind of stumps me.

I have no problem with wealth for others. Somebody wants to work hard and save mightily and invest wisely and become Wealthy…shoot! Good on ‘em, you know? Well done, round of applause!

And yet when I look back through the last ten years, there have been so many occasions on which we could have made that leap, gone from ‘struggling middle class’ to ‘upper middle’ or possibly even (dare I say it?) outright wealthy…and I just let it go.

I think it’s the responsibility that worries me. Shoot, I can barely handle the responsibilities I have now – when I think about the possibility of, say, having employees, I get nervous.

I know that the more prosperous I become, the more other people will start depending on that prosperity. And because I have this weird thing about taking care of the people who depend on me, it kind of frightens me to even think about it.

It’s OK for me to fail personally, as long as only I take the fall.

The idea of having, say, three employees, and maybe a couple families renting houses I own, and some charities relying on my regular contributions…and then I screw up and they all suffer?

It’s enough to make me feel absolutely sick.

And right now, with people suffering so much all around me, the foreclosures and the joblessness and the hopelessness and the general malaise infecting everybody…it almost feels a little obscene to be thinking about wealth-building.

When so many are barely surviving, I feel oddly guilty for wanting more than barest survival…for wanting to not merely survive, but to thrive.

Which leads me to an article I read last week, which gave me a much-needed kick in the pants. Compassionate Selfishness is a brilliant piece by Sonia Simone, and you really should read it…but in a nutshell, she reminded me that no one benefits if I fail.

And nobody fails because I succeed.

Quite the opposite, actually.

Furthermore, however tempting it may be to sit back and say, “Oh well, the economy is bad, guess I might as well give up!”, well.

That’s no way to outrun a bear. Choosing not to try at all, or to take half-hearted stabs at it and then throwing up my hands and saying, “Oh well, not to be, bad economy you know!” is choosing to fail.

It’s choosing to say oh well, I can’t help anybody, seeing as how I’m barely able to survive myself.

Not acceptable, at least not to me.

So I need to set that bar a little higher, work a little harder, and most of all smarter. Quit whining and start shoveling, if you will.

There’s a world of possibilities out there, I know there is. I just need to stake my claim on a few of them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How a bad week ends well

Yesterday, I spent time talking to recruiters. I won’t be silly enough to call it time well spent, but it was the kind of thing I’m going to be doing a lot of in the coming days, until I figure out some way to get my half of the income really flowing.

Today, though…ah, today.

First, I spent some time going through my personal library looking for Ideas. Found some good ones, and started the process of doodling out what might work for a tertiary income stream – basically, taking things I enjoy and making a little cash on them. I had some amusing ideas, which made the morning go really fast.

Then I met with my Gran for lunch. We fought over the check. She won. AGAIN.

Oh sure, you’re all saying, “C’mon, Tama, she’s what…102 by now? You couldn’t outwit her? Couldn’t manage to snatch the check right from under her rheumy eyes, whip it away from her arthritic hands, outrun her when she threatened to break your neck for it?

Listen, seriously, for your own safety: Don’t tangle with her. She says she wants the check, give her the check. Broken wrists are expensive, and furthermore she can slap a wallet out of your hand so hard you will need a spacesuit to retrieve it. FEAR HER!

Anyway, we overstayed our welcome at the restaurant, then regrouped at Starbucks where we hooted and hollered and drew irritated glances from extremely out of sorts Yuppies (who are these two Not Us People? They don’t even have laptops with them, GASP!) (furthermore, we dissed the Twitter, oh yes we did) (I’m sorry, but I just don’t see Twitter being a thing for me…what am I going to say? “Going into bathroom now.” “In bathroom now.” “Oh my god, I really need to clean this place.” “Leaving bathroom. Nothing to report.”).

I love that woman so much. She’s ornery, devoutly Catholic, passionate about family and so in love with my mother, and her grandkids, and her great grandkids…well.

Grandma’s unwavering belief that you are the smartest, cutest, most able, absolute hands-down most brilliant little bundle of adorable that ever was goes a long way toward restoring your faith in yourself.

Then I came home and made these.


This is me, doing variegated sock yarn. Which I said I wasn’t going to do because I am done with variegated sock yarn, but hey, that was what, five minutes ago? And besides, I wanted to play. So…there they are.

I like this one because it got kind of…sprinkly. The white just seemed too white, so I took a spoon and flecked the white with color. And it turned out pretty darned cool!


Yes. That is a watering can behind them. I catch the water in it every morning while I’m waiting for the snow melt from Antarctica to become warm water for washing my face – then I use that on my houseplants and rose bushes in the back yard. I do things like that because Hello, I am from California where we have drought, drought and more drought.

Another thing that helped this week end well was the realization that something on my counter was extremely stupid…and extremely easy to fix.

Bad choices

One of these is hair gel. The other is face scrub.

At 5:00 in the morning? Yeah. More than once, mistakes were made. And then suddenly it dawned on me: Heyyyyyyyyy, ya know…maybe I shouldn’t keep those two more similar than not at five a.m. tubes in the same container on my counter!

And that was the last time I put sand in my hair and super-hold gel on my face. (Unfortunately, this means my chin hairs refuse to lie down neatly, so I’m back to plucking. Or would be, if I could see the little @*&^@ers…which I can’t, because I need new glasses. Let’s take one problem at a time, shall we…?)

The other thing on the counter is the finally-dry pair of Loksins. Let me put a picture up…no, too dark…still too dark…let’s try ACK! Memo to me: pedicure, STAT! How about…wait…here we go…

Classy! (Oh hush. At least I didn’t put on my pajamas first. Or parade around in only the socks, because people…that might have broken my poor little camera.)

This week had a lot of sitting around being anxious time (next week has a CAT scan for my husband! Oh joy!!), which naturally means…socks. I’ve been wanting to actually make these forever, so…here they are!

This pattern was a pleasure to knit. Fussy enough to stay interesting, not so fussy I was in tears – and I was pretty teary all week, so it wouldn’t have taken much to push me into outright hysteria. They are comfortable to wear, light and loose, but holding their own in terms of slouch.

Me likee. Me will do ‘gain.

I used Lisa Souza’s Sock!, which as always performed brilliantly. The generous skein has left me with plenty for a pair of Denizen knee highs. Memo to me: If I ever do start selling sock yarn, 450 yard skeins ROCK. $9.75 175 yard balls do NOT. Thank you, amen.

And of course, the last thing that popped my week into happier territory is, well, kid-stuff.

They really are my little Army of Chaos. My medics, dispensing cuddles and votes of confidence when I’m feeling low. Willing to help out with chores. Laughing. Playing. Showing off their schoolwork.

Saying I’m the best mommy ever.

Even if it isn’t true, it surely does make a mommy feel a lot better about Stuff, that.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Doan talk me bout dat

"Captain, what are you doing?"


Ah. Up to something.

"Caaaaaaaptain...whatcha up to in there?"

"Doan TALK me! 'Bout DAT!"

"About what?"

"Doan talk to me 'bout yahwn-ball if dat is not for playing DOAN TALK TO ME!!!"

Ahem. Don't talk me is Captain-speak for I do not care to discuss this with you right now BUT I am totally going to do it anyway OK glad we could have this chat...

Also, the yahwn-ball is definitely NOT for playing. Furthermore, having the stash pulled out / down / scattered so I can photograph and so forth to get it up on Ravelry (swear, it's Coming Soon) (I have been sooooooooo lax about having things up on Ravelry...bad knitter, bad!)...well.

If I were to write a book entitled, How To Attract A Yarn Monster Of Your Very Own, chapter one would say, "Do not keep your stash tucked away in baskets and boxes on high shelves; rather, have it scattered around your bedroom, preferably on the floor in easy to access baskets and boxes with easily opened lids."

Fortunately, the Yarn Monster was attracted not to the yummier stuff this time, but the BIGGER stuff - the five pound cone of pretty "meh" Australian wool I've been moving from one side of the room to the other. I'm honestly not sure WHAT I'm going to do with it...on the one hand, it takes dye beautifully. On the other, it rates right up there with steel wool on the pleasurable knitting scale. It doesn't soften on washing. Not even the hair conditioner trick does much for it. But it is warm, and like I said - it sucks in color and produces gorgeous results. I got a beautiful sky blue today that was just heart-warming and all...but what am I going to make with it?

Gotta be something that doesn't touch skin. Ever. So far I've made a tea cozy (works a treat, really keeps the heat in) and thought about a few other things but always come back to the same thing: If it touches the skin, it will remove it.

So I wasn't too upset to find he'd strung a few dozen yards of the stuff around my bedroom, winding it from my swift to my skein winder over to the ball winder and back with a few wraps around the bed for good measure.

Just glad he didn't do it with my Lisa Souza Sock!, or gads, my Schaefer Andrea...(ooooooh no, THAT one is NOT for sale...it's mine, and I like it...in fact I love it...so there, nyah!)

Bright new days

Yesterday was one of those “hard days.” (As if you couldn’t tell.)

It was a lot like pulling a scab off an infected wound. (Ooooooh, nice visual! Thanks for that, Tama!) (No problem, any time you need gross bodily fluid related images, you can count on me!)

The whole situation hurt. It ached and throbbed and kept me up at night and was miserable. But I didn’t want to deal with it yet because I didn’t have to deal with it until next month and maybe a miracle would happen and somehow I’d just have the money.

But it just wasn’t going to happen. So I took a deep breath, filed, clicked, paid, a bunch of icky stuff oozed out and I ranted and screamed and cried and then I self-medicated and went to bed.

Guess what?

Feels a lot better this morning. Still sore. Still aching. It’s going to take some old-fashioned fiscal therapy to get things limbered up again.

But that impossible pressure is gone. The worry and fear and anticipation is over.

And in its place…well.

It’s a bright and beautiful day out there today. Sunny, cool, a little breezy.

Perfect day to start a war.

I now have $488,390.06 in combined mortgage, credit card, auto and medical loans to pay off. I have no savings to fall back on “in case.” We are relying on my husband being able to bill two clients who are themselves struggling – one of them in particular is having trouble keeping even their own people working, let alone us.

This is as personal as it gets, folks, and I am taking very personally indeed.

I’ll be honest, I much prefer this feeling. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty…they suck.

I like looking at what I have now and thinking, Right. Where’s my whittling knife and my coupon book? This sucker is goin’ DOWN!

It’s an enemy I know…one I know I can beat. Sure, it isn’t fun, I’ll probably have to do things I won’t like (rhymes with ‘commute’) and life will get extra-crazy for a while.

But I have action items. I have power. I have knowledge and skills and something I clearly understand before me.

The wound still hurts. But it’s starting to heal, and I know what to do to heal it faster.

It begins now, with a single word…Onward!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I’m goin’ to my happy place now…

Oh look, it’s the payback for poor planning mentioned in the last post: I just paid our remaining tax liability for 2008. It was ugly. I am not happy. I’m ashamed to admit I actually cried.

But having to produce EXCUSE ME THIRTY GRAND out of your ear can do that to you, especially when you’re already sort of in A State because {insert list of woes we’re all sick of hearing about here, economy, jobless situation, recession, wah-wah-wah}.

The good news is, there were no penalties. The bad news is, we were under-withheld.

The good news is, I was able to come up with the money. The bad news is, I had to do it in one of those ways that involves sitting around comparing the options.

Do I fall on my sword? Slit my wrists? Saaaaaay, there’s an idea! Sideways or long-ways? Or perhaps I could just drink hemlock! Or antifreeze! I hear it tastes just like Gatorade…or was that looks like Gatorade…?

So many choices! And all of them just SO DAMNED CHEERY!!!!

I finally went with the one that cost the least in interest and penalties (but screws my FICO firmly to wall for a while) and ran with it.

And right after I hit the last button and confirmed for the twentieth time that yes, I would like to sell my soul and half of each Denizen’s, please, well.

I just kind of sat back and wept like a baby. Feels very unfair, somehow. Even though it totally is fair, and totally is my fault. I misread one stupid check, thought the total income was one figure when it was actually nearly triple that (silly me, I thought the actual dollars we got would be somewhere near the total income charged by the transaction! Hahahahaha! Yeah, the total check was half the additional taxes I just paid!).

ANYWAY. It’s done now. Done, and done.

I’ll be paying them off for a long, long time…but the worst part is over.

The dreadful anticipation and uncertainty is gone. Nothing left but the hard work to shovel our way back out of the hole.

…but first, you know what? I’m gonna get me a beer, and find me a video game.

Work more tomorrow.

Right now…takin’ a break until the kids get home.

My marriage, summed up by horoscope readings

Mine: Spending remains critical to a balanced budget. You must maintain a steadiness and a reserve for emergencies. Presently, you will see the consequences of ill-planning. Fatigue surrounds you, no matter what you do. Tonight: One more solid look at your budget.

His: Your imagination always adds the salt and pepper to any situation. Be aware of what might be going on around a friend or loved one. Your imagination bubbles up with solutions, as well as far-out ideas. Tonight: Let your inner child romp.

A-yup. There it is, folks, right there in black and white.

Me: Stress monkey of the Gods +10.

Him: Mr. “Never Say Bored” McAdventure Pants.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

…but it would make such nice placemats…

First of all, BEST BLOG READERS EVER, thank you for reminding me about Ravelry!!! So much better than eBay…

But you know what? GAH!! I’m trying to do the Turbo-Lister thing today with all the yarn I’ve got set aside, right? So, I’m taking pictures of all this yarn and then writing descriptions.

And my descriptions are totally selling the yarn back to me.

“You know what? I’m right! That would make a devastatingly elegant shrug! I’m keeping it!

“Hahahaha! Yeah, that burnt red is wicked awesome in among all that deep yellow and falling-leaf orange…I’m keeping it!

“…surely somebody I know is going to have a baby girl who needs a hand-painted superwash wool blankie…those purple highlights really are kind of to swoon for…”

This is ridiculous. The only thing I’ve been able to put into Turbo Lister without any qualms at all is the Knit Picks Dancing, which is one of those yarns where I loved the colors but not the yarn – it’s a cotton / wool / nylon blend and I just…didn’t feel the love for the finished socks. Other people tell me they’re fabulous and perfect for warm weather and so forth and so on, but…well.

I wear wool socks in hundred degree weather. I know that’s weird, OK?! I just like wool socks. I’m either going to wear wool socks, or I’m going to wear sandals and NO socks.

ANYWAY. I think I need an Intervention or something. Or somebody else to write the descriptions. Or possibly I need to not write descriptions at all. Just put it up with the stats.

“Rowan Tapestry. Five balls. 50 grams. 131 yards per ball. Variegated gray. 70% wool / 30% soybean. Hand wash / lay flat to dry. US 6 needle = 5.5 sts per inch. DK weight.”

See? I can part with that. But I have trouble parting with a yarn that “makes me think of San Francisco fog rolling in, light and dark shadows with a slight fuzzy quality that invokes the air of mystery, glamour and sangfroid of the 1930 movie starlet.”

And now I totally want to make something with it. You can’t have it, it’s mine, MINE I TELL YOU BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

I’ve got all this super-basic kitchen cotton, worsted weight. I made a bunch of kitchen towels with it some years ago. Good, basic stuff. Absorbent. Sturdy as heck. (Those simple little towels are almost a decade old now, and still going strong.) Inexpensive. And I have so much of it I could probably make a few king sized bed covers from it. It needs to go.

But then I think, You know, I bet this would take dye really well…and then, you could make PLACEMATS!

SURE! Because goodness knows what I need more of? Placemats. Hand-dyed by ME placemats.

…I’ll just add that to my to-do list, shall I? Run business, run household, figure out taxes, work 40 hours, help with homework, hand-dye a bunch of cotton, make placemats…

Now, What. Did. I. Just. Say?!

Does this sound familiar?! It’s not as sensitive a sore spot for me as it might be, I suppose. I learned my lesson about being attached to Things years ago, when we purged the Den of all kinds of “precious” collectibles during our leanest years.

Or how about my casual implication that I was so no longer in love with this yarn and off it could go, la la la?

Yeah, fine…until I start reminding myself what’s good about it. Then suddenly I’m like some kind of insane person.

You know? It’ll probably be easier to do this on Ravelry. Right? All I have to do is click on the little button that says, “Willing to trade or sell” in my stash. No having to discuss what’s so awesome about it and so forth and so on. And it’s other knitters! Who know what’s so groovy about it, so I don’t have to tell them, you know, that this is Koigu which is, you know, Koigu…which is mine, all mine, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

(seriously…send help) (but not really…it’s mine, MINE I SAY…) (…help!...)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Money Monday: March 23, 2009

My topic today is a sensitive one. Those with delicate sensibilities may find the subject matter gruesome.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time digging through my stash. A lot of time. So much time, in fact, that I think it safe to say I spent the vast majority of the weekend doing very little other than shifting balls and cones and skeins of yarn from one place to another. With occasional pauses to go outside and praise the menfolk who were busy digging trenches and gluing PVC and wiring things and other stuff needed to create a raised-bed garden where once only the free-range, organic weeds bloomed. (More on that later, I promise. You won’t believe what we’re up to out there in the wilderness!)

The reason I was going through my stash so diligently was this: I want to put some of it up on eBay.

Hey, don’t yell at me like that! I told you it was gruesome, right in the first paragraph!

Eh, but seriously…it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve been thinking about this for a while (months, actually), and at first I was…extremely resistant to the idea. But I got over it. Up it goes, and hopefully out it goes. Free up some space, put a little cash back into my pocket for other things, and onward we’ll run.

It’s not as sensitive a sore spot for me as it might be, I suppose. I learned my lesson about being attached to Things years ago, when we purged the Den of all kinds of “precious” collectibles during our leanest years.

So I started opening up boxes and rummaging through drawers. As I took out each skein or ball, I asked myself a simple question: If I were in a yarn store right now, looking at this…would I buy it? Why, or why not? What would I do with it?

When I said “No, I wouldn’t buy this” I tossed it into my big laundry basket for resale.

And then a few baskets.

And a couple boxes.

And then the whole bed.

And…well. Let’s just say I’ve got a massive pile of yarn to photograph, describe, and get up on eBay for quick sale, folks.

Why so much? Well, I’ll be honest, the vast majority of it was purchased in a single year, specifically, 1999. I’d learned to knit at a yarn store that closed before I mastered the purl stitch. It was not replaced. When I needed yarn, well, I could go to WalMart, or if I wanted fancier stuff, Michaels. And then, in 1999, with cash in my pocket and an innocent, never-seen-hand-dyed-wool-before heart…I went to Stitches. {Angels Singing Heavy Metal Real LOUD}

I took a couple classes and then, armed with the knowledge that I was TOTALLY a master knitter now delusion that I knew something about this knitting thing, I hit the market…with a budget that I would kill for today.

I bought and bought and bought. Wool, mohair, silk, blends, cotton, linen, hemp, hand-dyed, hand-painted, hand-spun. Anything that caught my eyes, for its color, it’s texture, it’s scent, it’s content, bam! SOLD!

A lot of that has gone into happy projects through the years.

What hasn’t, though…well. It isn’t the yarn’s fault. It’s still good stuff. It’s just not stuff that catches my fancy anymore. I would say I’ve matured, but frankly anybody who accidentally types ‘fart’ when she means ‘far’ and then laughs like a hyena for, like, ten minutes…probably can’t claim any form of ‘maturity.’

I mean, really. It’s not that funny, Tama. (Oh, but somehow…it was.)

It’s not hard to decide to let the objects themselves go. In fact, I let them go with a full heart. I let them go knowing that, to someone else, they will be beautiful and perfect and just what I wanted. They will become beautiful things. They will give pleasure. They will fulfill their destiny…which I’m pretty sure was not supposed to be “stuffed in a dark, lidded box for fifty years until the old bat finally croaked so I could be sold for fifty cents at a yard sale.”

What was a little hard was pushing past was the sunk costs.

A sunk cost is money you’ve spent that ain’t comin’ back. In this case, it’s what I paid for the yarn. When I put this up on eBay, I’m not going to make a profit. I paid retail for this stuff, with a few 20% off sales thrown into the mix.

I fully expect it will sell for somewhere around half the going retail price…or less. So technically, I’m selling it at a loss. Bad business, right?

Welllllllllllll…sort of. If I’d bought this stuff and had some way to resell it for more, then it would be very bad business indeed.

But I didn’t. I bought it as an end-consumer, expecting to use it myself. And then I didn’t. And I won’t. And it’s something of a nuisance and I’d prefer to have money because I have Plans that require it.

It trips us up a lot, that fixation on what something cost. We want things to eternally be “worth” the price we paid for them when we bought them…or preferably, be worth more than we paid.

And yet, it is almost never the case. From clothes to cars, the moment you take possession, they start losing value at a rapid clip. Unless you happen to be Somebody Famous, in which case you can sneeze into a Kleenex and suddenly that snotty paper rag is worth thousands, which is gross but still, there it is.

(And now I suddenly have this weird pause to contemplate a Law & Order episode where somebody close to a Mega Star intentionally gave the poor sap a cold so they could collect the snot-rags and sell them on eBay and then got busted “Yer honor, the defendant is charged with infect-teering for gross [and we do mean GROSS] personal profit in the first degree!”) (…honestly, the things that go through my head sometimes frighten me a little bit…)

So when I was faced with something I bought that turns out to be not as useful as I’d hoped, I’m trying not to think about how much I spent on it and how much I’ll “lose” by getting rid of it by one means or another.

I’ve already lost that money. All of it. Gone. Long, long ago.

I’m trying instead to think in terms of how can I maximize what I get for it now.

Of the stuff I wouldn’t buy today, I’m holding back a little to make things to fill up an Etsy shop. I’m donating some that is kind of “icky” for knitting to the school (which is deductible, by the way) – it’ll be perfect to make doll hair and arts and crafts projects.

And the rest, well, even if I only make a fraction of the retail price, my best bang for the buck will still be the old eBay auction.

Someone else will get a blog-post worthy deal on some really nice stuff. I’ll get a cash infusion to use for other things, things that will be useful and happy to me right here and now.

Which is a here-and-now win-win…even if it is an on-paper loss.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Also? YAY SPRING!!!!!

For my friends who celebrate such things…a bright and blessed Ostara to you. May your lives bloom with the loving bounty of the waking earth, may your gardens be fruitful and joyous, may you feast and laugh and love and be warmed by the turning of the Wheel.

And for the rest of us…HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING! YAY! Pretty soon? We’ll all be kvetching about how hot it is, oh.my.GAWD, the heat, the heat, the heat, pant-pant-pant is it FALL YET?!?!

Shame on me

This has been one wild ride of a week. One of those too much to do, not enough time to do it kind of weeks. One of those weeks where all the things I’ve been putting off because of other things turned into things that simply couldn’t be put off anymore…all at the same time.

It’s the kind of week where you find yourself regretting every second of “me” time you took this month, you know? “If I hadn’t lazed around all afternoon on the fifteenth, I could have gotten X and Y done, but noooooooo, I was ‘tired’, I ‘deserved’ blah blah blah…”

You can firmly tell yourself that you do indeed need downtime every so often as much as you want. The little frazzled voice inside your head has no pity for you whatsoever.

You coulda, you shoulda, and if you had, you woulda avoided this whole mess.

And now we come to Friday, and while the list has gotten a lot shorter, it has gotten no less urgent. Still nothing I can say, “OK, and this I will push off to next week…”

Well. That’s not actually completely true. Lots of stuff has been pushed off to next week. Which means that it, in turn, will loiter around being put off until it turns into a FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! Somebody call the fire brigade, we’ve got ourselves a four alarmer over here!!!!

And you know what? Shame on me. This whole exhausting, stress-inducing fiasco could have been avoided so easily…if I’d just remembered what I learned about time/life management from Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Basically, you’ve got this set of tasks that fall into four general categories, or ‘quadrants’ as Covey calls them:

1. URGENT and IMPORTANT – looming deadlines, house on fire, kid stuck in a bucket
2. NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT – taxes due ‘soonish’, business planning, maintenance
3. URGENT but NOT IMPORTANT – phone ringing! cat puking! meeting to discuss the meeting to discus the plans for the meeting on the fifteens of Octember!
4. NOT URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT – video games, gossiping, watching brain candy on TV, etc.

Most of us tend to spend our whole lives puttering around with 1, 3 and 4…ignoring 2 until they “suddenly, without warning” become 1s.

We all know that if we had dealt with these URGENT and IMPORTANT things while they were merely NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT, by golly, we’d have much calmer, saner, smoother-running lives. It goes not only for mundane things like housework and advertising campaigns, but for purchases. How few of us actually make the savings goals and treat them seriously and are ready when the day arrives? I wish I could play holy on that, but you know what? I have been suffering a serious bout of screwing-it-up-itis lately.

I have to pay three sets of taxes next month, what we still owe for 2008, our first quarterly installment for 2009, and the property taxes on the Den.

I am playing a serious shell game, getting all those things covered. Why am I having to do that? Because I didn’t plan well enough, that’s why. I can come up with enough excuses about why to choke a cow, but push come to shove it was because it was NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT…and I was alternating my time between the other three things, saying that I “needed” a break from IMPORTANT things.

And sure, I do. Everybody needs a little R&R in the mix.

But see, thing is, I could have saved myself an awful lot of grief this week, and probably next, if I had just been a bit more disciplined and kept my head in the game. Spent some time sharpening my saw, instead of screaming that I didn’t have time for that, can’t you see how busy I am trying to cut up wood with a blunt freakin’ saw?!...followed by saying I can’t sharpen it right now, I’m bushed, I need a break, I need some video games and knitting and just sitting here staring at the comforting flickering lights of my TV…

I’ll sharpen it tomorrow.


Some other time.

Which I know is a recipe for disaster. It’s going to result in me spending all my time in that first quadrant, running from fire to fire.

SO! I’m going to take a step back this weekend, reorganize priorities, and try to get those important but not-actually-on-fire-right-this-very-second things handled now.

Try to get back to a place where I spend most of my time in that quadrant instead. It’s not only easier on the old stress-level, it fosters greater success in whatever you’re trying to do.

I’ll be happier, and a lot less crazed, if I do.

And I can stop shaking that finger at myself, too. Which would be nice, because I just annoy the crap out of me when I start that nagging thing. If you’d just taken care of that when it first hit your desk, you wouldn’t be all hysterical right now…

Yeah, yeah, thanks a bunch, y’bleating auld goat…naaaaaaa-naaaaa-naaaaaaa…

Monday, March 16, 2009

Can't post...crazy...

This is a public service announcement. Tama has gone temporarily out of her ever-loving and sadly limited mind.

Work! School! Kids! Doctor’s appointment (non-urgent) (but very annoying)! Networking! Placing orders! Receiving orders! Taxes! Business plans! Phone meetings! Emails contradicting the phone meetings! We need you to do th-NEVER MIND! No, seriously, we need you to do it anyway. But we can’t give it to you until tomorrow. By which we mean next week. But we need it by Thursday. You’re good on that, right?

Housework! (no, no, I can’t lie to my readers like that…housework is so not going on this week…)

Clutter…dirt…dirt that should be a garden…big A little a what begins with A, other than southern fire frickin’ ants in my yard where a garden should be but isn’t…(at least they’re the less aggressive breed of tiny swarming critters that BITE

…where are we going and why are we in a hand basket…

Should return soon.

If God is willing, and the creek don’t rise. Except that a little rising would be good because hello, drought and I’m trying to finally get a vegetable garden in place.

And as long as the ants don’t eat me. You laugh, but they are voracious and also determined little beggars.

And also as long as I don’t manage to kill myself attempting to multi-multi-multi-multi-{gasp!}-multi-multi-(wait, how many multis is that? {counts} got it…} multi-multi-multi-task.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Great, something ELSE I don’t have time for

Holy smokes. Norah Gaughan. Intricate stag bag.

Norah Gaughan Intricate Stag Bag

OK, I really need someone to invent a time machine. I need to have approximately 427 hours per day, thank you please?

Which reminds me. You wanna see the difference between “crock pot lazy” and “lots of stirring and tending and cackling over a cauldron” dyeing?

This is the purply-blue I made with the crock pot.

Mottled Purple/Blue

You see how it is kind of streaky? “Mostly” purple, but with random blue shots? That was kind of what I was hoping for, so it’s all good…but when Boo Bug asked for green yarn, I wanted it to be more even.

And by ‘more,’ I mean ‘completely.’

Which is what I got, thank goodness:

More even green

It’s super-even in color. It took a lot more fiddling around with to do, but I think it came out about perfect. (And thus does Tama beg for a major smackdown…go ahead, boast about ‘perfect’ results, and let’s just see what happens the next time you drop wool into a dye pot…)

For this go-round, I soaked the yarn for a full hour with half a teaspoon of Synthrapol detergent. Meanwhile, I mixed up a quarter teaspoon each of blue and yellow Jacquard acid dye powder – first with just a little water to get it started, then adding enough boiling water to make eight ounces. It also sat there thinking things over for an hour. (I cleaned the kitchen while they were resting.)

When I was ready to get the party started, I filled up my big pot with tepid water (barely warm to the hand), added the dye and stirred thoroughly. Then I tossed in 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt and a quarter cup of vinegar, and stirred thoroughly again.

Then I drained the soaking yarn, gently squeezing the excess water out of it, and added it to the pot. More stirring. More stirring. More stirring. Lots of stirring. Stir-stir-stir. Stirring maniac.

Then, I turned on the burner to medium and began the long, slow process of heating it up. Again, it’s wool and I don’t want to disturb its delicate sensibilities, so it took a good half hour to get it to that ‘just below boiling’ point. I was stirring, lifting and otherwise futzing with the yarn about every five minutes the whole time.

Once it achieved that temperature, I turned the heat down to the point where it maintained the temperature, but didn’t push it over into boiling. Gas ranges can be awesome for this kind of fiddly stuff – sometimes your electric range will refuse to be that precise. It wants to be ‘warm, medium, or hot’ – not ‘a little more medium than warm but not actually medium.’

Then, I sat nearby knitting for an hour. It was a rough afternoon, but in the name of Science, I will bear all manner of burdens. Each time I finished a round on the sweater, I’d get up and stir / flip / gently agitate the yarn…that worked out to about every ten minutes.

The dye bath had exhausted by that point, as evidenced by a spoonful of the stuff in a white measuring spoon. So I turned off the heat, manhandled the pot to the back of the stove, and ignored it overnight.

The next morning, I drained the yarn, washed it in tepid water with some more Synthrapol until the water was clear (there was a little green in there at first), then rinsed thoroughly, gently squeezed the excess out, and took it out into the backyard to hang on the line because folks, it was downright toasty out here yesterday afternoon! Bright, warm sunshine already…it almost feels sinful, to be honest.

And when it had dried…well, this is what I had. Two skeins of Boo Bug Green sock yarn, 75% superwash Merino, 25% nylon. The color is about perfect on the even-scale, which tickles me no end. It’s like, ohmygawd, I totally followed directions for once, and ohmygawd, it like totally worked!

Boo Bug was pleased.

But Danger Mouse now wants some blue. And Eldest thinks Ocean would be nice. You know, kind of blue-green but not too green and absolutely not too much blue so really more of a greenish-blue might be better.

I have created a monster, friends.

But fortunately, it’s rather fun to feed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How do you spell REST?


Armagh Take II

Ahem. OK, so, maybe I have not exactly been resting my stupid elbow the way a doctor would recommend, but my lame excuse well thought out reasoning is that doctors are notorious for being overly fussy about fiddly little details. I mean, seriously, mine expects me to take the medications he prescribes as he prescribes, EACH and EVERY day!

Pfffft. Silly doctors. Always with the precision thing.

Followed by the “I told you so” thing. Irritating people, doctors.

Anywho, so, yeah. Instead of finishing the Sipulu bag or the Lillihammer sweater (which has been waiting for steeks to be sewn and then cut for over a year now) (I’ll get around to it…eventually…), I went ahead and cast on Armagh, from Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection Again.

Because, see, the first time I did it? Well, it was my first steeks attempt, and it was also very early in my stranded knitting career.

Do I really have to add the obvious, which is that I was what might be called bad at both those things?


Yeah, I was less than thrilled with the final result last time.

First problem, I carried the floats too tightly, which resulted in a sweater that was lumpier-bumpier than a rural highway built on a levy made of sand. They flattened out when pressured by a steam iron, but would then roll back into lumpy-bumpy in the drawer. Argh. This time, it’s much better. Much better. I’ve improved, which makes me all glad and happy inside.

Second problem, when I stitched the steeks, well, I kind of…ahem. Yes. Well, apparently I combined not knowing what the heck I was doing with catching the wrong stitch when I picked up for the sleeves because hey, guess what?!

My knitting unraveled. Just sort of frizzed up, pulled out and otherwise became downright unattractive around the steek edges.

Which, you know…well. Oh, poopies.

I’ve gotten better at that, too, or at least I think I have. The ones I did for the Denizens last year haven’t unraveled, anyway, which I take as a positive sign.

And it was a little too snug (gauge problems) and the sleeves were too short (being in a hurry problems) and upon close inspection (pronounced, ‘wearing it’) I discovered that I’d made the ribbing on the cuffs different lengths. I could have simply picked out the yarn and added some length to the short side if I hadn’t used up the small amount of ‘extra’ yarn for a scarf that I promptly gave away. Argh.

So the other day (by which I mean ‘almost a year ago’) I went stash diving and found I had some black and white Telemark.

I have no idea what I bought it for originally, which means it is fair game for a second try at Armagh.

And I also have a cunning plan on the UFOs lying around, and it is this: Once I finish this one to the point of needing to sew and cut the steeks, I’ll do Lillihammer at the same time (since I’ll be in that mode anyway), and the Halloween vest (also just waiting for steek-n-cut) and also finish the bag because at that point I will be The Finisher. Brilliant!

I’m up to the armpits on this so far; another sixteen centimeters and then I’ll be at the neck steeks, and a few rounds after that it’ll be time to suck it up, stitch it down, and cut it.

Followed by the endless hours of finishing work, which always feels vaguely unfair to me because you just feel so done after you cut steeks, but nooooooooo, there’s still a collar to be finished and ends to be run in and blocking and on Armagh, you do the sleeves after the steeks so there’s, like, half the bloody sweater yet to go BUT I really like this one and hopefully this time it will be wearable.

So naturally, I’m doing this now, when temperatures are about to soar up into the 70s and stay there for a few months before edging into the 90s and 100s.

Timing! I HAZ IT!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dyeing stuff

First, I absolutely must stress that I am not any kind of dyeing expert. I enjoy it and all, but I am frequently rather surprised by what comes out of my dye pot (or washing machine, back when I had a top-load one…I haven’t had the guts to try it in my front-load yet).

So, you know. Get second opinions, too.

When I’m trying to get even color (and I’m not using plain old RIT dye, which I’ve had excellent success with for things like overly faded jeans or t-shirts), I do something more like this:

Set the fabric (or yarn) into warm water to soak. You want it to be thoroughly soaked before it goes into the old vat – for bonus points, you can use about half a teaspoon of Synthrapol in the soak, which will help it be ‘wetter’ and take the dye more evenly.

Then I’ll put my dry dye powder (I’m currently in love with Jacquard, but there are lots of others out there) (each with its own directions, so your mileage may vary if you’re using something else and you should definitely seek out specific instructions for your specific dye-source) into a measuring cup (anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons, depending on what I’m going after…and often a quarter of this and half of that and let’s see what happens if I put two of this one in there as well) and thoroughly mix it with a little warm water to make a paste…followed by about a cup of boiling water, which I stir some more and then leave alone for a while to ‘rest.’ (I really don’t know why it has to rest, because I am not an expert…that’s just what I was taught originally, so that’s how I do it.)

Now, the crock pot method is kind of sloppy, so if I want my color to be reasonably even I do this part on the stovetop. (You can imagine how happy this makes my husband. “What is that smell? Is this soup? Why does it smell so…sheepy…?”)

The pot cauldron (magic needs a cauldron, methinks) must be stainless steel or enamel – aluminum will change the color. It must also be big enough for your fabric / yarn to swim freely. Add water that is warm-but-not-hot, then the better-rested-than-you-that’s-for-sure dye, one to two tablespoons of salt, and another teaspoon of Synthrapol if you have it.

The salt helps the dye stick to the fabric, which is why it helps to ‘even’ the color. The more you use, the deeper the final color will be. The Synthrapol is basically a detergent…did anybody else learn in school that ‘soap makes water wetter’? That’s all it really does, help the solvent powers of water be…more so.

Stir up your cauldron (cackling wildly is optional, but rather fun). You want it to be thoroughly mixed before you move on.

Then, drain your yarn/fabric from the soaking bowl, gently squeeze out any excess water, and lower it into your cauldron. Carefully and gently stir the yarn, turning it over for a good five minutes (yes, really) (well, sure you can cheat and only do it a couple times, but if you want more even color you’ll just have to deal with the fact that five minutes of stirring a cauldron is a helluva lot longer than five minutes on Facebook).

Remember what we know about wool yarn: It doesn’t like sudden temperature changes, and it doesn’t like to be manhandled. SO! At this point, you’re going to start adding the other two ‘ingredients’ that determines how dark your color is going to be: Heat, and Time.

Slowly and gently start raising the temperature of your dye bath. You want it thoroughly steamy but not boiling, or about 185 degrees (if you’ve got a candy thermometer you don’t mind not using for candy anymore handy). When you get it there, stop, reduce your heat to ‘maintain’, and add about 1/2 cup of vinegar. DO NOT pour it straight on in. Either take the yarn all the way out, add the vinegar, stir, and then lower the yarn back in (messy!), or carefully move the yarn to one side well out of the way, pour the vinegar in where the yarn ain’t, stir carefully and then let the yarn get back into the pool (fraught with some peril, but a lot less drippy).

This vinegar, by the way, is what makes this an ‘acid’ dye. Isn’t that a kick? Somebody says “acid dye” and I’m immediately envisioning something like hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid or some other really gnarly chemical thing…and then Teacher is all, “So, we’ll take our plain white distilled vinegar acid, and…”

Whaaaaaat? Vinegar? That’s the Big Scary Chemical?


Now, maintain your temperature and stir occasionally for, eh, thirty minutes. Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…but not actually bubble because then you’re boiling your wool and you’ll end up with, well, boiled wool. Remember to be gentle with the stirring, lest you end up with a frizzy felt-batt rather than yarn. (Ask me how I know about that, ahem.) (Please see “not an expert” disclaimer, above.)

What’s going to happen is kind of amazing. You will start to notice that your dye bath water is turning clear again. Magic! If your cauldron is dark and you can’t tell, dip a little of the dye bath up with a white measuring spoon or cup to check.

When it is exhausted (e.g., clear), well, you’re done.

Turn off the heat, and go to bed. You’ll want to let it cool down slowly, at its own pace, probably overnight. More patience will lead to better results, so try to contain yourself and let this happen the way the laws of thermodynamics require.

When it’s cooled back down to room temperature, go ahead and remove the yarn from the cauldron. Rinse it in water as close to the same temperature as the dye pot as possible – remember how wool responds to temperature shock! {Hint: FRRRRIIIIIZZZZZZZ!}

Wash gently with your choice of detergent (there’s that Synthrapol again!) to remove any dye that is planning world domination through leaching onto your skin later, then rinse thoroughly.

Allow the skeins to air dry.

Now, Teacher taught me back in the day (that day being around 1989) that I’m supposed to dry them under tension – by, for example, using a fairly heavy fishing lead at the bottom. Then someone else told me heavens no!, you let them dry first and then stretch them under tension for a few hours.

And someone else said, “What nonsense! Just dry them, re-skein or wind them into balls and knit something!”

I take a kind of middle-of-road approach. I dry them most of the way au naturale, then add a fishing lead (big heavy ball o’lead on a string) to stretch them back into shape a bit in the final couple hours of drying.

As to what to do with the dye bath – pour it down the drain. If it has fully exhausted, it’s not going to harm anything. If it hasn’t exhausted (there’s still color in there, in other words), add some plain old baking soda to neutralize it, and then pour it down the drain.

That’s something I love about this method. There isn’t anything in there that would poison a curious child (sicken, maybe…but not kill) (unless you count parental rampages upon discovering that a little one has poured the resting dye all over the kitchen counter and then gotten up there and danced through it, or painted their sister’s hair with it, or…), and the end result doesn’t have to be kept in a big drum with a warning sticker on it for all eternity.

By the way, I can recommend the Dharma Trading Company for supplies. They ship quickly, do their best to balance environmental concerns with practical ones (recyclable and water soluble packing peanuts rather than trying to ship things without cushioning, etc.), and their prices are pretty decent. They have things like alum and soda ash (seen in many dyeing recipes), pH testing strips (for fancier people than me) and all kinds of color enhancers, dampeners, etc. etc. etc. Simple descriptions, no coy ‘you shouldn’t have to ask’ descriptions, and what seems like a pretty fun attitude toward the whole thing.


There are many times in parenting when you find yourself in flat denial about something that really…you can’t deny.

But darned if you don’t try anyway.

A few weeks ago, we got a notice that we were going to have an IEP meeting for Captain Adventure yesterday to discuss his NUH-UH!!!!!

Ahem. Let me try that again.

To discuss his transfer from NUH-UH!!!!!!!!!

Sigh. What I meant to say was, To discuss his transfer from preschool to NUH-UH NUH-UH NUH-UH I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA LA!!!!!

Argh. One more time…to discuss his transfer from-preschool-to-kindergarten-there-I-said-it.

I admit I have a real problem understanding that my baby boy is actually going to be turning five this summer.

Which means he “should” be going to kindergarten next year.

But honestly, even in my most firmly denial-oriented moments, I can’t fathom the idea of him actually being in kindergarten. I mean, first of all, he’s my baby. Fourth-n-final. My wee one.

And then the fact that he still behaves like a much younger child sort of adds to the overall impression that he’s still just a baby. Barely out of toddlerhood.

But he’s not. He’s almost five. And that’s when my other children started kindergarten, because that is how it is done out here, for the most part.

I was nervous but happy when the others went off to kindergarten. It was exciting. I hoped they’d make some friends, and have fun, and get a good grounding for the rest of their school careers. I worried a little.

For Captain Adventure, though, I worry a lot.

Oh sure, in some ways, he’s totally ready. He can count to thirty. He knows all his letters, upper and lower case. He can name just about any shape you care to toss at him. He does extremely good drawings (albeit with the pencil clutched in his fist rather than pinching it like most of us do). He can memorize entire books and repeat them verbatim. He can even recognize a few words, and signs his name to his papers and artwork unprompted and (mostly) correctly.

Cognitively, in other words, he’d be just fine in a kindergarten setting.

But his language skills are still sadly lacking. The speech therapist estimates that to an third party listener, only about 30% of what he says would be intelligible. I have to agree with him, because I am a first party, his biggest fan and favorite mommy, and yet I understand only about half of what he says – and frankly, a lot of that is based on context more than actually understanding the sounds he’s making.

And his social skills are…ahem. Yeah. Well.

He’d be that kid who hit your kid in the head with a train because he didn’t want to share. When ‘transitioning’ from one activity to another, if he doesn’t wanna, there’s a 50% chance he’ll fall to the floor and make displeased grunting noises instead of going quietly to the next station.

There’s a 40% chance he will also kick off his shoes.

And if he does kick off his shoes, there’s a 75% chance that he will kick them off at someone. (Like the teacher.)

His tantrums have decreased significantly, but they still happen about 20% of the time. Massive meltdowns that make the average Terrible Two tantrum look like something cute.

And there’s even a slight chance, slight but there, that he will bite the teacher foolish enough to try to get him back on his feet and engaged in the classroom’s business again.


He can’t mainstream. Not yet. He needs a tiny class size, and teachers who are trained to understand his behavior.

And to duck quickly. And to realize when the mere grinding of teeth is about to turn to gnashing of their flesh.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to this IEP. I was afraid they were going to try to say something like, “OK, he’s good to go! We’ll just send him back to his home school next year, thanks for dropping by!”

I’d have to get rather firm at that point, and I dislike confrontation.

But (un)fortunately, they agree with me that he is only ready in certain ways. (If there was ever a time I hoped to be proven wrong…gosh no, Tama, he’s absolutely exactly like a typically developing kindergartener in every way! Silly mommy!)

So next year, he will start kindergarten…in a special needs environment with certain activities shared with mainstream kids, but most education happening in a tiny classroom with other kids at his level.

And teachers who know when to duck.

…still feels weird, though. My baby, going to kindergarten.

Time surely does keep on moving, doesn’t it…whether you care to keep up or not, it just.keeps.going.

GAH! Knock it off, Billy Ray!

...doan tell mah haaaart, mah achy-breaky haaart, I jus doan think he'd unnerstan...cos if ya tell mah haart, mah achy-breaky haart, he might blow up and kill dis mahn...woooooooo HOO!

WHY does that song make me want to take up line dancing?! WHY?!


(this message brought to you by iTunes, fine purveyor of Flashback Fodder...)
(song still has the power to make me laugh, though...so does YYYYYYY MCA!)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Money Monday: March 9

Last week went really well – I actually made it through the whole week without a single purchase! Not even groceries! Woo hoo!

The trick is, of course, to make this actual savings as opposed to merely deferred purchases. It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to not spend money in week one if you then roar out and spend double the money in week two. So I’m going to be continuing to show restraint in my daily life, and make sure I’m only buying what I actually need…no matter how much money I could “save” buying stuff we don’t need on sale.

So I’ve made my list for the supermarket and will stick to it religiously tomorrow when I brave the peril of loss-leaders and coupons.

While continuing to work at saving my money by not spending it, this week I’m going to shift my attention a bit and look at possible secondary income streams.

What I’ve been finding this year is that my work tends to come – and go – in bursts. I get a project, I work my patookis off for a few days, and then…well. That was fun. And, uh, now I guess I’ll…um…hmm.

Send off the invoice and wait. I doodle around with marketing and send hopeful emails to remind clients that I’m here! Helllooooooo, totally ready to solve your Reporting Services problems!, and futz around with networking and so forth…and then I’m just sort of at sixes and sevens while waiting.

The goal isn’t so much to make a zillion dollars as to give me something constructive to do with my downtime. Sitting around fretting isn’t helping my stress levels much, so doing something that brings in even just a few shekels each month would be good.

I’ve been trying to work my way back to performance level on the harp. The tennis elbow slowed that down considerably, but I’m still chipping away at it. With the wedding season coming upon us, I’d like to have my cards in the churches and local bridal shops PDQ – but before I do that, I need to be ready to perform. “Well, I kind of suck right now, but by July I should be good to go!” is really not a great way to sell yourself.

The other thing I’m considering is crafty-stuff. I enjoy a wide variety of crafts, and do a few of them well enough that I could be selling it. I already have the necessary permits and licenses in place, so I’d be fully legal and not having to worry about the gummint swooping in to rain on my parade later.

I even have most of the tools I’d need to start production.

What I lack is raw materials, and a willingness to go into any form of debt to get them.

SO, whatever I decide to actually do, I’m pretty sure the method I’m going to take is going to be what I call the ‘shoemaker’ method. Remember the story of the elves and the shoemaker? He had enough leather for one measly pair of shoes. The elves made the shoes and they fetched enough money to get leather for two pairs of shoes.

And so on, and so on, and so on, until the shoemaker was a prosperous man again.

The shoemaker didn’t go out and get a huge loan so he could buy enough leather for fifty pairs of shoes, payable at 19.99% interest forever. That method has been in great vogue of late, and personally…I don’t think it has worked out all that well. Instead, the shoemaker worked with what he had, and built on that. Rolled his profits back into his business until the business was thriving.

That’s the approach I’d take with this. Rolling the profits back into the business to keep it growing until I reach one of two things: Market saturation (can’t sell any more), or maximized effort (can’t make any more).

At that point, excess profits become money I can spend.

Or, in the very real event that the business makes no money at all and dies a slow, agonizing death, well. At least I’m not adding being in debt for hundreds or thousands of dollars to the pain of failure. Insult, meet injury! Injury, insult! I just know you two are going to get along…

Meals this week are coming out of the Sonoma Diet book – check your local library, they probably have it. I got my copy at a thrift store for a quarter a couple years ago, and found the recipes pretty darned good. And yes, I found the diet aspect of it worked well for me, too…which won’t hurt either right now because, ahem. Yes. My jeans are getting a trifle snug on me, lately.

Anywho, we’re looking at some pretty good eats. Chicken en papillote (chicken in paper, with mixed vegetables), marinated flank steak, Tandoori chicken, balsamic chicken…all of it served up with heapin’ helpin’s of fresh vegetables. And garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. I cherry-picked the menu around meats we already have in the freezer, so my grocery bill hit will mostly be for produce…and I don’t mind paying for fresh produce.

Of course, I say that now…let’s see how I feel in a couple hours, after I’ve actually gone shopping…

Friday, March 06, 2009

At least it’s cheaper than heroin

Let’s review, shall we?

I am a…

  1. knitter
  2. spinner
  3. harpist
  4. pianist
  5. guitarist
  6. nature-enthusiast
  7. car-lover
  8. animal-lover (big and small)
  9. needlepointer (which apparently isn’t a word but y’all know what I mean, right?)
  10. writer blogger (I suspect to be a ‘writer’, one needs better grammar and punctuation skills than I possess bother with)
  11. candle maker
  12. soap maker
  13. potpourri maker
  14. rose gardener
  15. wanna-be vegetable gardener (but needs to learn not to ‘forget’ about the garden; roses forgive you the occasional lapse of attention, watermelons not so much) (ask me how I know…sigh…just call me the Slayer of Watermelons, Sunflowers and Carrots…) (pathetic…)
  16. mother of four (so, kid enthusiast / collector) (which explains how I keep finding myself with six or seven kids around the table at dinner time, saying, “Hi Mrs. {Eldest, Danger Mouse, Boo Bug}’s mom! Are you going to make cookies after dinner, just wondering?”)

Yeah, so, I’d say that pretty much, when it comes to the hobbies and things, I’m covered. Which is why I’m resisting adding archery back to the list. And dancing. And Renaissance fairs. And…well. The list, it goes on. And on, and on, and on, and on.

So yesterday, I found myself staring at a wad of undyed lace weight yarn (and a few of its cousins) I’d just pulled out from under the bed while looking for something else and thinking, yawn.

Boring. White. Meh. I wanted enough Plain White for one (1) shawl, but I did that thing where you forget what you already have and I bought enough Plain White for one (1) shawl…about twelve times over the last year and a half. Gah.

And then I thought…well, I thought adding some color would be nice. I’ve never dyed yarn before. I’ve dyed fabric plenty of times (a great way to dress up a sadly faded but still awesome shirt or dress from the thrift store is to over-dye it), but never yarn.

This is mostly because there are so many others who pretty much keep my need for fascinating colors covered.

But what the heck, I thought. Better than shoving this stuff back under the bed for another lengthy stay in the darkness. I’d make enough for one full-sized lacy shawl, I said, because Lord knows I don’t have enough projects on my list and adding a futzy-fiddly lace shawl would be just the thing to keep my life interesting. (Shut up.)

This is possibly the laziest yarn-dyeing method ever. First I soaked the yarn in tepid water for a while, while I was cleaning the kitchen and finding my dyes. Then I mixed boiling water with my powdered dye (Jacquard acid dyes, if you’re curious) (old, old Jacquard), with a quarter teaspoon of this and a half teaspoon of that with the goal of being “mostly purple.”

Set the mixed up dye aside to think about things (what does dye think about while ‘resting’ I wonder…also, what has it got to rest from, exactly? Does it wonder how this idiot is planning to misuse it? Or does it excitedly plan a life for itself where it will be added to boring white laceweight yarn and become something glamorous and be worn to the White House to meet the First Lady, who will swoon over it and then it will live in the White House because its owner will be made Chief Dyer of Glamorous Laceweight to the First Lady and the Denizens will get to play on the new swingset with the Obama girls who I totally think would be a good influence on my Denizens because hello, they are not afraid of Weather?) while I got out the ‘crock pot of dubious lineage’ for dyeing.

This is the same crock pot I use to melt the glycerin when I’m making soap, and to melt the wax when I’m dipping candles.

Because LORD KNOWS I can’t just go to the store like a normal person when I need soap or candles. HAHAHAHAHA, ‘tis to laugh! No! That would be simple and possibly even inexpensive! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Why do things the easy and cheap way, when you can spend hundreds on supplies to make them yourself with the hours and hours and hours of leisure time you don’t have because PLEASE SEE LENGTHY LIST OF HOBBIES, ABOVE!

(And note that the word ‘housework’ does not appear anywhere on that list. Lord, how I wish I could suddenly develop a creative passion for cleaning bathrooms…it would make my quality of life sooooo much better…)

ANYWAY. That lengthy digression out of the way, then I poured the dreaming, well-rested dye into the crock pot, added cool water to make a tepid dye bath of the same temperature as the soak water (no shocking the yarn, please, that will come later when I wear the shawl over jeans, the incongruity of which would shock anybody let alone delicate hand-dyed Merino laceweight yarn that had White House aspirations), added white vinegar for my acid (to set color) and left out the salt (which levels the color) because I am a rebel that way and had high hopes of getting something like that Mahogany I got from Lisa at Stitches, with the various ‘layers’ that made up the final color coming through here and there.

And then I did the laziest dye job, ever. Turned the crock pot to ‘high’ and walked away. Worked an hour, came downstairs and turned the yarn, worked another hour, turned the yarn, worked two more hours, collected Captain Adventure from the bus, noted the dye was exhausted (e.g., the water was clear), turned off the crock pot and ignored it overnight.

This morning after the kids went to school, I removed it from the now-tepid water, rinsed it with tepid water, washed it with tepid water, had no problem with the whole ‘do that until the water runs clear’ part because it ran clear from the get-go, and then I rolled it in a towel and then I hung it up to dry and then I fell in love with it so I’m divorcing my husband so I can marry these two skeins because they are…so…


purple-blue love

purple goodness

About the point infatuation was really setting in (and I was contemplating larger dyeing vats and whether or not I could dye enough to make a whole sweater all in one go for dye-lot compatibility), I thought…oh crap.

Because you know, seriously…this I need. Another obsessive hobby. Which undoubtedly has tools I will discover I can’t live without because this always happens. I’ll probably need…scales. And special thermometers. They’ll probably make a special pot with climate controlled everything where you can get a precise result so that if you wanted you could get a black-black-and-nothing-but-black dye lot of yarn.

Gah. Why don’t I just go ahead and cut to the chase. Buy myself a yarn mill with dye vats the size of pickup trucks and get into the international wool market?! Send out an email to all the sheep farmers in California: Buying wool! Buying wool! Send me all 3,000 pounds, I’m that obsessive about it!!


Oh well. All kidding aside, in terms of spending your life buzzing from one high to the next? I could be making worse choices. Sniffing freshly washed hand-dyed wool never got someone pulled over for being under the influence; riding a cuddle-high never put anybody in prison; hand-dipped candles aren’t illegal in any state that I know of, and of course, nobody is going to call the police because of the racket from my harp.

Unless I hooked it and my microphone up to the old amplifier and started blasting Danny Boy at the top of my lungs for a couple hours in honor of St Patrick’s Day.

I mean, there are limits.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It came from the pantry

BWAHAHAHAHAHA, welcome children! Today, on It came…from the PANTRY! {duh-duh-duh-DUH!!!!}, we have…

PASTA! {shriek!!!!}

OK, OK, seriously. Last night I had these grandiose plans involving some rock-hard leftover thick-cut pork chops that involved simmering them gently for hours but then guess what? This ‘work’ thing happened? And I was all, like, still working at 6:15 and some junk? And then I was all, “D’oh!” because remembering about something with ‘hours of simmering’ involved at 6:15 in the evening?

Well, unless you’re talking about breakfast the next day, you’ve got yourself a problem.

So, I needed a Plan B and I needed it quick.

Now, in the not so distant past (like, uh, a couple weeks ago), this would have ended with a phone call to Pizza Guys. I’m already the kind of gal who will take you up on any excuse to have pizza (chewy cheesy goodness, mmmm), but yesterday was one of those killer days. Physically, mentally and otherwise exhausting thank you very much.

But I’d removed that option when I went to Stitches and burned through all the mad money I had until May, so I’m going to have to come up with something else.

So I hit the pantry and pulled out a big bag of radiatore pasta. OK, this has possibilities…

From the freezer, a bag of peas and carrots. Or, as we like to call them around here in the vain hope that perhaps a cooler name will make them more appealing to the Denizens, power for peace and x-ray vision tablets.

One smallish hunk of Parmesan from the fridge and we are in business.

While the radiatore is simmering, I made a cheesy white sauce.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk, warmed to just below boiling
Touch of nutmeg (fresh grated is awesome)
Bit of salt
Smidge of pepper (fresh ground is best)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons heavy cream (or butter, or milk, or, if you’re baking it, one egg yolk)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, then add the flour while whisking. Keep on whisking on medium-low for about five minutes – this is cooking the ‘floury’ taste out of the flour and replacing it with a nutty richness, so don’t rush it.

Take it off the heat and let it cool off slightly, then slowly pour the hot milk into it while whisking like a crazy person. The whisking keeps it from forming nasty lumps, so don’t get distracted! Return it to the heat, raise it up a smidge and cook, whisking frequently, for another two to three minutes.

Add your salt, pepper and nutmeg – as much as makes you happy, but I’d recommend going easy on the salt until after you’ve got the Parmesan in there. It can be kind of salty on its own, and you don’t want to end up with a meal that tastes like a cow lick.

What you now have is a basic white sauce. Pretty bland and not generally used on its own, but the ‘mother sauce’ for a thousand child-sauces.

The pasta was about done at this point, so I dumped the bag of frozen peas and carrots into the water with them. Why use two pans, folks, when one will get the job done just fine?

Add the Parmesan and stir until thoroughly melted and blended. Now, if you were going to pour this over your noodles and bake it, putting an egg yolk in instead of the heavy cream (or butter, or even just milk) would help it turn a lovely brown in the oven.

But since I was in a hurry and everybody was hungry and can we eat now?!, I used heavy cream to add a little more richness and a little more pour-ability to the sauce.

Taste and adjust your seasonings if they please you not.

Drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the pan, add the sauce and mix gently but thoroughly.




Total time was right around fifteen minutes for dinner and plentiful leftovers for six, and it cost less than the delivery dude’s tip. Twenty if you count the time I spent cussing when I remembered far too late in the game that I’d meant to have the pork simmering in the crock pot by lunch time.

A mistake I shall not repeat today…and come to think of it, simmered in a nutmeg based broth, I’ll bet that pork would go really nicely over the leftovers from last night. Heh. Leftovers a-la leftovers. Brilliant!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The spoils of war

Today, I found myself confronted with one of those work problems that are hard to explain to people who don’t work with versioning software, SQL servers, stored procedures and the like. Mostly because their heads tend to explode, which is why they pay people like me to deal with these problems in the first place. My head doesn’t usually explode, although every so often my spleen does.

Anywho, I’m getting idiot messages that make no sense. Telling me my procedure can’t run because the table name that is no longer anywhere in the query because it is also no longer anywhere on the SERVER is ‘invalid.’

Well, duh. That table was dropped (off a cliff, bye-bye forever, table!). But, why. Why are you insisting that this procedure, which totally does not reference this ex-table, references this ex-table?

I was a bit stumped. I chewed my lip (thus ensuring I will get a cold sore soon). I rested my chin in my hand (thus ensuring I will get zits the size of cranberries soon). I rubbed my eyes (thus ensuring my Zombie look would be complete with glowing red eyes).

“Hey!” I called to my partner. “The invalid table thing…what if I go out to shell and commit changes via the versioning?” (Yes, I know. Just roll with the code-speak. I don’t want any exploded heads out there.)

“That’ll make no difference!” he yelled back. “Blah blah blah geek geek geek fifty-seven reasons that can’t possibly work yak yak yak.” (I privately call my husband Dr. Professor when he starts this – he is the kind of person who can seldom just say Yes or No, ooooooh no, he has to fully and completely and also EXHAUSTIVELY explain why, wherefore, and how come something does or does not do That Thing.)

While he blathered on (he is quite the educator), I went ahead and did it anyway. Because that’s how I roll, people. I have a gut feeling this might work, one of them-thar educated guess thingees, based on years and years and years of messing with computers.

My husband has a scientific understanding of how programs work. I have gut feelings that I’m sure if I really traced down how it was I thought it might work, I’d find that I actually do understand a lot more about the science behind the screen and that I “just knew” because I actually do know something I don’t know I know and yet, there it is.

I just had a feeling committing changes through the versioning software would make the hounds of hell currently with their jaws clamped tight around my poor little procedure let go.

So I did, and then went back to my open query window, same window that had just told me, “FAIL! Ex-table is not valid! HA! HA! HA!”

Hit ‘Execute.’

Was calmly told, Command(s) completed successfully.


But I’m not one to, you know, boast or nothin’. Shucks no. I am one of those cool, professional types. So I merely interrupted my partner’s continuing stream of painfully technical reasons why my proposed action would do no good by bellowing, “NAILED IT!!”


“It worked.”

“It what?”

“It. Worked. Out to shell, run commit version, rerun sproc, BANG! Victory is mine. Who’s yer daddy?! OH yeah. I am so brilliant I scare m’self!” (Modesty: I haz it.)

He was heading into a phone meeting. Muttering all the way. “That makes no sense. That should not have worked. Unless there’s something I don’t understand about the versioning program.” (NO! Not that! Not something Dr. Professor doesn’t understand about the versioning program! Swoon!) (Anyone want to take bets about whether or not he’ll be online tonight researching why that could possibly have worked?) (Fine, OK, yes, it was a sucker bet, geesh…)

“I’m getting some tea!” I yelled after him.

“Yeah. Oh well. I don’t get how it worked, but, you know, good that it did, I guess.”

“…and also I am getting a victory cookie!” I bugled, digging into the baggie of dark chocolate crinkle cookies I made last night – they’re like little powder-sugared brownies, and also they are awesome (and a copyrighted recipe out of a book I own…sorry…Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking). “Because I am…VICTORIOUS!!!”

I know this may sound like gloating, but really it’s just…well. OK. It’s gloating.

As I carried my tea and my victory cookie (ok, ok, cookies) (what? They’re small[ish]!) back to my office, I had to admit…I live a very, very strange life.

Seriously. I say things like who’s yer daddy because I got a computer to do something it was supposed to do all along by doing something that should not have worked, and yet did.

On reflection, I’m not entirely sure that makes me anybody’s daddy, you know?

And as if to drive home this thought, the second batch of queries is now up to almost thirty minutes of run-time, and still chugging along. That’s a really long time. In development, it took maybe fifteen minutes...but of course, the development box has a much smaller dataset because it is for testing, not real-time reporting.

So there is more data on production. It will take longer to run, obviously. But still. Hmm. This is a long time. The kind of long time that makes you say, Hmm. I wonder if this is because it is the first data load, or if this means I’ve got poorly streamlined code…because if the daily updates take this long? Yeah. Too long.

I should have put one of my victory cookies back. Victory was, after all, only partially mine. I had won a battle this day…but not the war.

But instead, I re-dubbed it a pondering…please stand by… cookie and ate it anyway.

I will need my dark-chocolate-enhanced strength, you see…for lo, should this not be a matter of initial load of whackity-thousand rows taking whackity-forever but rather a matter of joins that should be re-examined and WHERES that should be re-thought and perhaps an inappropriate AND OR CASE ELSE THEN in there somewhere…I will need all the help I can get.

The worst problems of my day can come down to a comma in the wrong place. A lack of commitment. An excess of commitment. A rollback too soon. A catch that has no try.

An ambiguous field name, somewhere in the nineteen page script.

I think…maybe…I need another cookie… {thirty-nine minutes, and counting...mebbe I needs TWO more cookies...}


Let’s get the shock out of the way right up front: My part of California doesn’t get snow.


We get ice, we even get hail occasionally, but never, ever do we get fluffy white stuff that sticks to the ground. Even the hail tends to melt on impact with the soil.

I’ll give those of you currently living in sixteen feet of the stuff with no apparent end in sight a moment to recover.

You don’t have to go too far north, however, before the snowy bits start. About an hour and a half, and you’ll be wading hip deep in the stuff.

However…we don’t go there. Because we don’t ski, and have an aversion to the traffic caused by those who do. And also the fact that so many Californian SUV drivers apparently believe the commercials and think their Expedition can drive through the snow as if it were a clear, sunny day in August on a race track makes us very, verrrry nervous.

I once watched a guy in an SUV rear-end the truck in front of him three. times. Dude. Figure it out: Snow + Ice + Speed + Stopped Traffic = Cowboy Bob there is gonna rearrange your face in a second.

You. Can’t. Tailgate. In. Icy. Conditions.


But I digress.

A few weeks ago, we had planned a Snow Day. The Denizens haven’t ever been to the snow (not that they remember, anyway), and having been in extensive contact with a good friend who recently got a job with the forest service and moved with his son into a place near Twain Harte (where there is snow, and plenty of it) and having heard many tales from his son about skiing for PE at his school and other snow-themed fun things, they were really excited about going.

And then Mother Nature said, “HAHAHAHAHA!” and filled that weekend with a really spectacular snowy blast that closed roads and dumped feet and feet and feet of white stuff all over everything and we said, “Yeaaaaaah, no. Not a good weekend to travel through into the Sierras.”

Then Saturday, we suffered some kind of momentary insanity decided that we’d better get on with it if we were going to do it at all, and get up there.

The kids, upon hearing that we were going up to the snow, responded with tremendous energy. And ear-splitting shrieks. And a lot of running, and skidding, and sliding, and fetching of extra socks and other arctic gear.

Captain Adventure ran to put on not one, but two long-sleeved shirts. And then he ran back upstairs yelling, “Wait, mommy, I need-it swedder!” and produced from one of his drawers a sweater I’d knitted for Boo Bug a couple years ago.

This is going to be its last year among us, because it barely squeezed over his head.

Good sweater shot

Speaking of barely squeezing over his head…the next thing he did was holler, “WAIT! I need-it hat, mommy, where hat?!”

And then he produced that hat, which is also two years old, which I made for him with the matching sweater, which went off to a new home last year because it was way too small for him. Just like that hat is now. He got it on his head through sheer determination and the miracle of stretchy wool.

Now, where that boy learned of the need for sweaters and hats in snow, I have no idea. But by golly he knew what he needed even if he’d never been exposed to why, and he insisted on wearing them in the van all the way up.

It’s a wonder he didn’t sweat to death.

There was great excitement…and a slight touch of uncertainty at first.

if snow were waves

But pretty quick they were out there exploring.

arctic explorers

Aaaaaand it didn’t take long for them to figure out that snow could be thrown.

one pink, one blue

And made pretty good artistic material.

artist at work

Boo Bug’s snowman

You will note only three children in these pictures. Eldest spent very little time outside initially before declaring that snow is cold (I mean, who KNEW?!) and retreating inside to curl up next to the wood burning stove with a book. Sigh. By the time she emerged again, the grownups were sitting around grousing about the high costs of everything and drinking sodas, with the camera back in Daddy’s pocket. Not a single picture of her. {harrumph!}

Eventually, the day wound down. The children changed into dry clothes, we went out for pizza and hot cocoa, then piled them back into the minivan for the drive home.

They buzzed like a happy little hive of bees all the way. “Mommy, do you remember my snowman? Do you remember when I fell into the hole? Do you remember when Captain Adventure hit you with that big chunk of snow? The squirrel that ran across the road and then yelled at us? The dogs that barked, the tree that had fallen down, the tin can with the BB holes in it, the way the water was dripping off the house like rain because of the snow melting?”

Heh. Yeah, I remember, guys…it was only, what, twenty minutes ago?! My memory may be bad, but it’s not that bad!

One of the neat things about kids is that they can remind grumpy old grownups that life is so very, very beautiful. So full of new things to see and touch and smell and live. Even things that seem very, very simple to us are thrilling to a child experiencing it for the first time.

One of my favorite things about being their mother is being able to experience that kind of wonder again, through their eyes.

Makes for a pretty contented life, all things considered.

It surely does.