Yarn Photography

A photo of the order I got from Jimmy Bean to make the knitted vegetables. I'm just now casting on for a baby eggplant. It's cotton, which I haven't been using for a long time, and it's on BIG needles, at least compared to what I've used for every project for the past nine months – sevens instead of twos or threes – so I'm hoping it will go fast and satisfying.


The Rundown

Let's see, 8 days to go. The socks are done. The stocking is 3/4 done, not counting adornment which I at this point see as unnecessary and possibly the mother's job anyway. The stuffed animals are not even happening. Maybe after Christmas. January presents. The knitted vegetables… well, that's where the suspense is, isn't it? The yarn came, minus one color (shouldn't they tell you something is backordered when you place your order? Especially if you order it 2 weeks before Christmas?!) I'm finishing stocking assembly before starting on the veggies. I'm anticipating possibly completing an eggplant before the big day. Low expectations, that's my motto.


Deck the Halls with Yarns of Folly

Last night in a fatigue and Christmas-fueled haze, I came across these patterns. "What a great idea!" I thought. "I can make play food for M.M. rather than spending all that money buying it." Then I thought, "Hey, I should also make a couple of little stuffed animals for my nephew!"

"I'm almost done with the second sock, so I'll have plenty of time," I thought. "And they're little, so I'll get them done really fast!" So I ordered yarn. In five colors.

This morning I woke up and remembered a few things. To wit:

• I also promised to make my nephew a Christmas stocking, as called for by family tradition.
• I actually didn't finish M.M.'s stocking last year, and I'd like to do a little more decorative work on it.
• These are Christmas presents. Meaning, I can't knit them in front of M.M., who is now old enough to be surprised Christmas morning – and to demand to play with toys before Christmas if she knows about them.
• I'm a slow knitter.
• There are only 2 weeks left before Christmas.
• I can't feel smug about other people's Christmas panic knitting plans if I'm in the same state of mind.

I've been knitting madly on the still-to-be-finished sock this morning, so that when the yarn comes I'll be ready to jump right in.


Knitting Survey – with Prizes!

I don't know why I'm publicizing this - it reduces my chances of winning anything. Oh, I forgot… no one reads this anyway. My chances are safe!


Useless Information

Stolen from Margene

10 Random Things about Me…

• I love a woodstove
• I make a mean spinach lasagne, thanks to my mother
• I think I'd qualify for some sort of advanced degree in American folk music, should such a thing exist
• I know a song lyric for every conceivable situation
• I really like listening to the radio, and don't really like watching tv
• I was a New Year's baby
• I was in an incubator for the first 24 hours of my life
• I recently started wanting an iPod
• I'm sometimes embarrassed by my taste in books, movies and tv
• I'd like to get over that

9 Places I’ve Been….

• The Meteor Crator near Winslow, AZ ("I was standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see/It's a girl my Lord in a flat bed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me")
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
• The Crazy Horse Memorial in Custer, SD (can you imagine a more ironic town name for this monument?)
Interlaken, Switzerland
Apalachicola, Florida
Grass Valley, California
Key Largo

8 Ways to Win My Heart….

• Think I'm smart
• Be good at real things
• Take care of me
• Don't want me to be different than I am
• Tell me the truth
• Take me new places
• Help me fall asleep
• Love me

7 Things To Do Before I Die….

• Visit the 8 remaining states I haven't yet been to
• Fall in love
• Graduate college
• Write a book
• Raise sheep
• Lose the pregnancy weight
• Accept myself the way I am

6 Things I’m Afraid of….

• Frogs
• Big cities
• Liars
• Running out of money
• Environmental degradation
• Death

5 Things I don’t like….

• Bananas
• Commercialism
• Being cold
• Arguments
• Traffic

4 Ways to Turn Me Off….

• Be a know-it-all
• Wear cologne
• Be mean
• Drive aggressively

3 Things I Do Everyday….

• Laundry
• Drink tea
• Floss

2 Things That Make Me Happy….

• Woodfires
• My daughter

1 Thing On My Mind, RIGHT NOW….

• College application is still not done!

The Good and the Bad

The good news: Someone is finally very interested in the house, and Jan (realtor) thinks they're definitely going to make an offer!

The bad news: M.M. has come down with pneumonia

The good news: It's a mild case, she seems to feel fine, just has a bad cough and antibiotics will likely clear it right up.

Bad news: I feel a suspicious heaviness in my chest and I've started developing a cough too.

Good news: I got some free firewood and using the woodstove has made me very, very happy for the past few days.

Bad news: I didn't get very much.


One Sock Down

I'm late with my blogging. I actually finished the first sock last Monday, which was one day longer than my two week goal. Pretty good. The second sock is well along now, I've gotten about half the leg done, and I'm on track to complete it much more quickly than the first. For one thing, I didn't have to knit the first three inches half a dozen times, so I'm way ahead of the game.

In other news, M.M. graduated out of her high chair today. It was a poignant moment for me, but she took the whole thing in stride. Since she was able to climb in and out of it at will, and she was getting tall enough to make it increasingly difficult to stuff her legs in there under the tray, I decided it was time. We took the tray off and now she can sit at the table like a regular (tall) chair. It's kind of nice to have her there at the table with me, I admit.

Thanksgiving went as well as I could have expected, and I am thankful for many things, including:

• M.M., the beautiful, joyful, healthy, smart, wonderful child of my heart
• A good place to live. Even though I am desperate to get this house sold and get out of here, if you have to live in limbo, this is a very nice place to do it.
• Friends and family, of course. The good ones are very, very good.
• A measure of financial security... I'm more or less constantly scared these days about how long I'll be able to make ends meet, but so far so good, with the help of an incredibly flexible job that allows me not to have to buy child care, some child support, minimal though it may be, and a little bit of rent income from an impoverished tenant. I don't know how long I'll be able to swing it if the house continues to not sell, but so far we're still here.
• Books
• Music
• Living in a time and place where I can enjoy Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom of Worship

Happy Thanksgiving!


Pie Guy

We made apple pie today. I haven't made one in years, so I was pretty nervous about it. The dough, which I was most worried about, turned out very nicely – I was paranoid about overhandling it, but it turned out flaky and nice. I did forget to brush the top crust with anything, so it didn't brown much, but no big deal. The filling basically turned to mush because I cut the apples up too small. It's more like applesauce pie, really. Still tasty though. Check out the creative vent holes in the top, huh?

I've thrown caution to the winds and started the toe decreases on the sock. I'm so determined to finish it tomorrow and not go over the 2 week mark that I don't care if it fits, dammit! I think it'll be ok. It's going to be bigger than my socks, so how wrong could it go? [foreboding music cue here].

I'm going to bed now, at 10:30, to make up for a short night last night and a no-nap day for M.M. today. I'm really tired and I was very cranky today, so I need to get some sleep. I hope the early bedtime doesn't backfire on me. I often seem to stay up later when I go to bed early, because of some freaky circadian rhythm thing, I guess, or some screwy psychological mid game I play with myself, or maybe because I'm just so darn stubborn.




I learned about this from Scrivener : Opening Wednesday, it's the largest aquarium in the world . I'm a big aquarium fan. I think it started with the tv ads for the National Aquarium in Baltimore when I was a kid. They showed these giant column filled with water and bubbles rising to the top, and they just looked so magical to me, I was hooked. The Boston Aquarium is pretty good too, but I found it a bit limited. Good penguin exhibit though.

Knitting-wise, I'm very happy that the missing sock of the pair I recently finished for M.M. mysteriously showed back up today. I had looked lots of places for it, but apparently not in the middle of the bedroom floor, because that's where it was this morning. I'm getting close to finishing the first of the socks I'm working on for my brother. I was hoping to do the whole pair in three weeks, but it looks like this one is going to take at least two. This means that my cousins will not be recieving hand-knit socks for Christmas this year. Not from me, anyway. However, this will not stop me from ordering Socks that Rock. I've already got the pattern picked for that, as well as for the Koigu that I got last month (was it only last month?).

M.M. has laryngitis of some sort. The poor thing can barely speak, and when she does, she sounds like a hard-livin' 17 year old. Her voice is low and hoarse and alternately crackly and squeaky. It sounds like she spends all her nights smoking and drinking whiskey, which is a little disturbing to this over-protective Mama. Luckily, other than being a little less energetic – or perhaps I should say more quickly tired-out – she doesn't seem to feel unwell. And she gets to take medicine, which is her all-time favorite thing to do (I'm so worried she's going to turn into a drug addict!). I've only been giving her homeopathic remedies, which don't really do anything, but they taste good.

She's really really excited about going on the train to Boston next week. The tickets arrived by FedEx today. By the way, don't even get me started on the fact that Amtrak forced me to pay an extra $12 for FedEx delivery of my tickets. In an age when they make machines that sell subway tickets and airlines don't even have actual tickets anymore, you can't tell me that they can't come up with some other way to work train tickets than delivering them by FedEx. Not only that but I had to actually call their 800 number rather than just order them online, because that was the only way to waive the signature requirement - which would have meant that I had to be home Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 because they couldn't tell me when they'd actually get here. Is this real? Do they actually think this is 1954 and people are home all day?

Anyway, what was I saying? M.M. is really excited about the trip. About half and hour after the tickets came, she said "Mama can I go on the Amtrak train now?" When I said no, it's in 5 days, she got out her Weebles and played train with them. This meant that she sat in her chair and set them up in rows in front of her, I gather as though they were all riding on a train together.



Progress has been made. The leg of the sock is over 6" long, and the heel flap is done. I do have some confusion about the heel flap, however. The pattern calls for 24 rows, after which the flap is supposed to be 2 1/2" long. Mine is only 2" after 24 rows. At first I thought I'd just keep going until it was the desired length, but then I started thinking about picking up the stitches for the gusset and worried that everything would be askew if I had the wrong number of rows from which to pick stitches up. So I think I'm going to charge ahead and hope that the shorter heel flap is not a fatal flaw. The color in this photo is not at all true. It's really a much richer, darker, heathery-er red.

In other news, we got rolling suitcases yesterday, in anticipation of our upcoming holiday travels: a train to Boston for Thanksgiving (highly inefficient, but the whole reason for the trip is for M.M. to be able to go on a train, so there we are) and flying to North Carolina for Christmas. M.M. had a great time pulling her suitcase through the throngs at the Holyoke Mall yesterday. I hadn't been there before, and I truly regretted going, particularly on a Saturday during the expanded holiday season. It was way too crowded, overstimulating, and crazy for me. M.M. did ok except for getting low blood sugar in Old Navy. She was better after an apple. We won't make the mistake of going there on a day like that again.

We had a last-minute house showing yesterday, so the morning was a frenzy of cleaning and tidying. I'm crossing my fingers, because according to the realtor, the people liked the house and are interested, though they haven't made an offer yet. We'll see what happens. I had a good feeling before the showing, but I'm trying to keep expectations and hopes low to avoid disappointment.

Here is some gratuitous cuteness. M.M. was eating like a lumberjack tonight, including grapes, caught here for digital posterity. Her sweater is wet because she had been washing dishes for a half hour before the grape-eating.


Rose-Kim has these beautiful socks to show us, and over in Moth Heaven, we get to look at these lovely striped socks. Cassie at Too Much Wool has finished not one but two pairs of socks in the past two days.

And after knitting with every spare moment for two days, here's what I've got. I have lost count of the number of times I've ripped back the first two inches of this %)(@& sock in the last couple of days. I can't imagine why I can't handle the concept of knit 2 purl 2 repeat ad infinitum. It's really not that complicated. I was loving knitting with this yarn, on the #3 needles, which seem humongous after using nothing but 1s and 2s for the past 3 projects (which translates, embarrassingly, into about 6 months). I thought I was going to be making such fast progress with the bulkier wool and the bigger needles. Instead, I'm caught in some strange Dantéesque hell of knitting the same 5 rounds endlessly.


It's A Toddling Town

Yesterday M.M. got a nursing Mama and baby doll . She was exploring them, testing out the baby's sling, etc. and I asked her what the baby's name was. After very little hesitation, she said Chicago.

I have no idea where it came from, but she is committed to it. She didn't seem to have any ideas for naming the mama doll, but we eventually settled on Rebecca.



They're finished! After much ripping out of the ribbing because I kept forgetting which round I was on, I finally got the second toe done last night, and M.M. is wearing them as we speak. The photos I took didn't come out very crisp, so you can't see the detail too well, but trust me, I'm quite pleased with myself.

I've already cast on for yet another pair of socks, for my brother's Christmas present. These are in worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220, a heathered blue color) on size 3 needles, and it all feels huge compared with the teeny tiny gauges I've been working with for the past 3 projects.


Things I've Learned

Some things I've learned about parenting a 2 year old. It's all a cliché, but there's no such thing as a cliché when it's happening to me:

1. Don't worry, it will all change before I finish typing this.

2. Changing sleep patterns takes a looooong time, but it can be done (my apologies to Elizabeth Pantley, who I doubted here).

3. It takes consistency, nay, rigidity, in sticking to nap and bedtimes. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

4. If the child is so tired she's already falling asleep before you finish the whole bedtime routine, so you decide to skip part of it, the disruption will wake her right up, and she'll be awake far longer (and it will be far less pleasant) than just doing the whole damn thing in the first place.

5. Power struggles are not worth it. And unwinnable anyway.

6. Cut food up into smaller pieces that you think you need to.

7. Smaller portions ironically result in more food intake.

8. There is no end to the guilt and worry.

9. Crying will always happen at the exact moment that the NPR commentator is finally saying the one thing you want to hear.

10. New human beings learn an amazing amount every day.

11. There's still a lot they don't understand.

12. The first unsolicited "I love you Mama" is better than sex, chocolate, drugs, and an hourlong swedish massage all put together.


Toddler Sock Progress

The colors are not true, but here is the sock-and-a-half. My sister sort of bummed me out this weekend by telling me the colors reminded her of camouflage, but I'm trying to put that out of my mind. I love these socks, because they look fancy to me, even though the pattern is an easy one. I'm very proud. And hoping against hope to finish them in the next day or two.

I wish I'd made less cuff and more leg. The pattern (from Knit Socks! ) calls for fuzzy novelty yarn on the cuff, from which I've politely abstained, but using the main color yarn makes the cuff too long and plain. Next time I'll know better.

�The AntiCraft!

"Where are the sweaters to enshroud our dark hearts? Where are the afghans to blanket our angst? Where is the macabre? The dark sensuality? We've brandished our needles in defiance. "

This is a seriously funny little magazine. But don't tell them, because I think they want to be taken very, very seriously.


Quick 'n' Clean

A quick update so I don't feel like such a blogging loser, even though I'm sure no one's reading it anyway. The house is being shown tomorrow, so I'm cleaning, straightening, hiding tchochkes, and 'staging' like a madwoman at midnight. Pleasepleaseplease God let these people want the house, pleasepleaseplease.

I'm happy to report that one toddler sock is finished, and I'm quite pleased with it. No photo as yet because of the cleaning frenzy, but I will document and share it soon. I've cast on for sock #2 and had knit several inches but had to rip it back substantially because I had gotten my purls and knits backwards on part of the ribbing. Oh well. There may be some knitting opportunities tomorrow, with my sister here to divert M.M.'s attention.

And, another gratuitous cutiepie photo:


Stop me now!

I'm in serious danger of tackling more than one project at a time! Quick, do something! I'm working on the toddler socks, which are proving maddeningly slow and prone to mistakes (because they're so small? I don't know!), and am itching to get going on further sockage. I keep thinking about the size 3 needles in my collection that are not in use on the toddler socks. It's a hazardous situation. I didn't even see the Yarn Harlot in Rhinebeck, so I can't blame it on some sort of contagious multiple-project virus.


Socky Socks

They're not flawless. One is a bit too short, and the other is a bit twisted. But I wore them all day yesterday, and they were quite comfortable, and no one pointed and laughed at my feet. So I'm satisfied with my first pair of socks. I've cast on for a quickie pair of toddler socks out of the leftover yarn before I start my next real project, which is to be another grownup pair.

I've been fantasizing about some yarn that I saw in Rhinebeck. Sadly, I don't remember the name of the vendor, and I wasn't smart enough to take a card. I remember the booth number (or at least the building number) and I've idly thought of trying to figure it out from there. But I need to work on my college application first. I can't help cracking up every time I think about having to work on a college app.



We went. We saw a lot of yarn. We also saw sheep and llamas and some ringtailed lemurs. Bought slippers, no yarn …– I was a bit overwhelmed, and I couldn't concentrate on yarn and corralling a two year old at the same time. It was fun though.

Not so fun, I think I have to rip back the last several inches of the second sock. The toe decreases are on a collision course with each other and I think it's because I'm doing them in the wrong place. I'll try again.


Free Day

We were awake for a long time in the middle of the night last night. I hadn't even fallen asleep yet when it started and I purposely didn't check to see what time it was or for how long it lasted. As a result we overslept this morning and missed M.M.'s 2 year old checkup. It's rescheduled for Monday. I'm completely out of it today; I can't think or speak sensibly. So I'm declaring a free day. I'm not going to try to be productive, or efficient, or smart about anything. Just moment to moment basics today, it's all I can handle.

Did I mention that it's been raining nonstop for 7 – yes, seven – days, with three more predicted? This could have something to do with the sleep issues and the dreary outlook.

Oh, and my koigu came. It's beautiful. I'm addicted. I just want to hold it and look at it all day.


CBS | Late Show with David Letterman : Wahoo Gazette

CBS | Late Show with David Letterman : Wahoo Gazette: Bush's poll numbers continue to sink but he's working hard to bring them back up. Dave suspects he's going about it the wrong way.

'President Bush has worked relentlessly to show all Americans he understands what a hard day's work is like. This is why he pretends to help build houses, pretends to help move furniture, and pretends to read intelligence memos. President Bush. Pretending a better tomorrow lies ahead.'

I don't have a tv so I didn't watch this show, but this little excerpt I came across online made me giggle...


Elizabeth Pantley

Here are my problems with "The No Cry Sleep Solution" which – don't get me wrong – I'm really in favor of, theory-wise. It's just that, practically speaking-wise, well, here you go:

  1. My child has not read the part of the book where it says she needs 13 to 13.5 hours of sleep per day. She's getting 11, tops, and I cannot seem to knock her out for any longer no matter what I try.
  2. I have not been able to force her to 'sleep more the more she sleeps'. I love the counter-intuitive concept of it, but actually, she seems to go to sleep earlier if she has no nap! To wake up earlier in the morning if she goes to sleep earlier at night! Whoa, the logic!
  3. When I lie in the dark with her, refusing to engage other than to gently whisper "shhh, shhh" to help her settle, she does not drift off to sleep. Instead, she tries harder and harder to engage me until she's jumping around and crawling off the bed. This sends me into a red rage, which is not soporific to either of us.
  4. Massage tickles her.
  5. How the *%&# am I supposed to simultaneously whisk her into bed the moment she appears sleepy in order to respect and take advantage of her natural sleep rhythms and also maintain a consistent bedtime routine? She seems sleepy right after dinner, I get her into the bedroom, and changing her diaper gets her all riled up and peppy again. I can't abide the diaper rash that will appear if I don't change her between supper and the next morning.
It's true that I haven't blacked out the windows to see if I can get her to sleep later in the morning. But that would not help me get her down earlier at night. Quite the opposite in fact (see #2 above). All I want is for her to sleep from 8 pm to 8 am and for an hour and a half in the afternoon. Is that too much to ask???

She is really freakin' cute, though, isn't she?



I actually tinkered with my template and added some links to my sidebar. Plus, I changed the color of the annoying Blogger strip across the top of the page so that it is less noticeable. Unless I gratuitously draw attention to it by devoting an entire post to such trivial matters.

Slow Socks

Yeah, so the second sock... it's not that I've stopped working on it, or lost my enthusiasm, or anything. It's just, somehow... slooooow. A lot has been going on lately, and I have not been finding a lot of knitting time, despite making grand plans every few days. The progress is, I've started the heel flap. I believe I'm going to have some intensive knitting time as a car passenger on Sunday, so perhaps I'll even finish it, or at least get lots closer then.

I've taken another step in the direction of knitting obsession. I've purchased this . It's koigu, it's painter's palette, it's beautiful and it's on sale.

The reason it's a step down a slippery slope is that I have no specific project for which I'm planning to use it. And, I'm planning on going to Rhinebeck in a couple of weeks, and I believe it possible that I'll come back from that with some beautiful and unplanned-out yarn.

We're talking the beginnings of a "stash" here. This phenomenon is not allowed until a) I actually live somewhere, so I'm not packing and moving everything I own every few months, and b) my financial situation is under control and I know what my budgetary requirements and resources are. Seriously. Really.


Second Birthday

We had a really nice day, and all went according to plan except that M.M. didn't take a nap until we were on the way to dinner tonight, so she got pretty tired. But she didn't fall apart or cry or anything, even though it was her party.

I made the cake, a healthy one that no self-respecting grownup cake eater would appreciate. I got a little nervous because I had to make a couple of substitutions (despite what I thought had been careful shopping) and the batter seemed more like dough than batter. It turned out ok though. A little more like muffins than cake, but tasty enough. And the frosting was great. It looked right pretty if I do say so, decorated with raspberries. I have to admit M.M. liked the ice cream more than the cake, but overall it was a success.

She got to open lots of presents, and got the hang of the loot-getting thing fairly early on in the process. She got a wooden toaster with wooden bread, butter, and a knife (her favorite part), a toddler sized broom and dustpan with which she ran around sweeping for the remainder of the party, a bunch of books, wooden lacing beads, Weebles (she can now say 'they wobble but they don't fall down'), lots of stuff. And her big present was a play stove/sink combo that I'm hoping she'll get years of use out of.

Dave and Linda (my tenant and another singer/songwriter) played guitar and sang songs, both M.M.-oriented and guitar-player-oriented, and there was general low-key merriment, which is my favorite kind.

The hibachi restaurant was fun, but a little traumatic, as M.M. got scared of the chef and the grill we were sitting around. I don't think I adequately prepared her, and when he first made it sizzle she pretty much freaked out. She was very tired and had already had a long, exciting day. Dave and Kathy Jo and I took turns standing away from the table and holding her so she could watch from a distance. She tried like a trouper to watch, but she really didn't enjoy it. The guy's cooking act involves several flaming moments, which is generally exciting and fun, but M.M. did NOT like it. The food was great though, and she got through it without totally falling apart. I felt a little bad about taking her though. I thought she'd like it, and I was too tired and overstimulated by the time we got there to remember to give her a talk about what was going to happen before it was too late. Oh well.


Wax Paper Princess

This is what I walked into in the kitchen this evening. I had to laugh. Every ziploc bag in the house, the tin foil, and of course, the wax paper, which she proceeded to wrap herself in. It was a waste of wax paper, but other than that it could have been a lot worse. Nothing sticky (unlike my s-i-l's little boy who called himself "The Mayonnaise Monster" the other night, for reasons best left to the imagination), nothing that rolled into every corner of the house, relatively safe (except for the possibilities of, let's see, cutting herself on the blade of the tin foil box, suffocating on a ziploc bag, and, I suppose, choking on the tin foil. Luckily, she escaped injury.

She turns 2 tomorrow. I suppose she felt she needed to mark the occasion of her last day of being 1.


Winter Shoes

Preschoolians - I'm Walking Barefoot Stay Warm Purple Nubuck Waterproof Bootie

I don't know. Is $44 too much to spend on warm, waterproof, yet soft and comfortable boots for my darling girl? Shoes that are at all stiff or hard seem to make her incredibly irritable and cranky, plus make her insist on being carried all the time. I tried two different kinds of winter boots last year with very limited success. However, I feel that I've spent a truckload of money on season- and size-appropriate clothing for her and me already this fall, and I can't really afford to be doing that. I probably will though, because really, she can't keep having soaking freezing feet. And I canNOT carry her around all winter.


NOLA.com: T-P Orleans Parish Breaking News Weblog

NOLA.com: T-P Orleans Parish Breaking News Weblog

So, as far as I can see, the reports of the citizenry turning violent and out of control are false, even though the reports of the unimaginable, inhumane, despicable conditions they endured and the irresponsibility of the government agencies responsible are true.



Big Toe

Well, I finished the sock. Hmm... not quite sure whether it's a pattern problem or a following-the-pattern problem. I guess I'm going to do the second one and see what happens. It's discouraging though. All this work, and it's not really wearable. Ho hum.


Finally, the images uploaded. The sock should be finished today, and I'll get started on the second one.


NPR : New Orleans Update: Leaving the City, Again

NPR : New Orleans Update: Leaving the City, Again: "Day to Day, September 21, 2005 � Citizens who had just returned to New Orleans at the urging of Mayor Ray Nagin are being forced to evacuate again because of the approach of Hurricane Rita. Noah Adams talks to Robert Smith, reporting from New Orleans."

I can't stand it. I am getting some seriously creepy vibes from all this. Those poor, poor people. My mind swirls out of bounds, imagining that this is the earth's retribution for all the havoc we've wreaked (I mean, if you were God and wanted to say 'Knock it off with the dependence on petroleum!' what would you do? Send fierce, 100-year storms to wreck the oil industry one after another? I might). I start to fantasize that every area of the country is going to get its own brand of climatic justice: earthquakes, fires, and mudslides in California (sound familiar?), ferocious blizzards in the north, etc. etc.

It could be a blockbuster Hollywood movie. Forget "Deep Impact" – see "Earth's Revenge", filled with special effects and mayhem.



Damn and blast! I have sock photos for your viewing pleasure, but Blogger is capriciously refusing to upload them. I had no trouble with the sweater photos, so I don't know what's going on. I'll give it another shot tomorrow, I suppose. Something to look forward to.


Here it is! It's done, it's done, it's done! The color is actually slightly paler than it appears in this photo. The porch makes a nice background, though, doesn't it?

Behold the Sweater on the super-cute model. Try to ignore the lens cap in her mouth.


Daily Nightly: Brian Williams - MSNBC.com

"And we'll probably mention the power in our part of the city: the streets were lit last night, starting 30 minutes before the President's motorcade came through... then they went dark an hour after he left."

I know, I know, it's mainstream media, but I've been vaguely following Brian Williams' Katrina coverage via his blog, and it seems to be less corporate status quo power structure kow-towing than I'd have expected. Including the above note.


First Sock

It's my first sock. It's my first sock. It's my first sock. It's reasonable for it to be slightly imperfect. I have to keep telling myself this to avoid getting completely disgusted with repeated ripping out and confusion. And to deal with the fact that despite the ripping out there are undoubtedly mistakes that I am going to be unable to fix. This is a practice pair. This is a practice pair. This is a practice pair.

My plan is to make this pair for myself, as a learning experience, then to start working through the sock book making Christmas presents. By December I'll be a sock expert and I'll be ready to learn cables. The long term plan is to do lace next spring. See that? It's all mapped out, and I'll be a true knitter in a year.


Scary Information

Mercenaries, trained to 'kill with impunity' are patrolling New Orleans

No one seems to know under what authority are these men operating. Great. Just great.



I can't not acknowledge the hurricane, but all the words are too weak and overused. All I can do is include some links. I can't even read some of these stories without weeping.

This quotation is part of an email message written by a doctor to his friends and colleagues while he worked on rescue efforts: I have met so many people while down here -- people who were at Ground Zero at 9-11, people who have done tsunami relief, tours in Iraq -- and every one of them has said this is the worst thing they have ever seen. It's unanimous, and these are some battle-worn veterans of every kind of disaster you can imagine.

I agree with Michael Moore's politics, but I sometimes find him too hysterical, getting me worked up but leaving me feeling hopeless. His site always has good information though. Like this article about Bush's criminally shameful response.


The Endless Baby Sweater is done! Sadly, I have no photos yet, as the band is on tour with the camera until the end of next week. I'm trying not to let anything get schmutzy on the sweater before I can document it. M.M. loves it, and I must say it looks really adorable on her. There are a couple of small flaws, but overall it came out very well and I'm pleased.

I'm now working on a pair of starter socks, to learn on. They're coming much more quickly than the sweater did, and I'm enjoying it. I got two sock books from amazon.com and I'm looking forward to making socks into the indefinite future. I am kind of pathetically interested in folk art.

In lieu of a sweater photo, here's a gratuitous cute shot of my favorite sleeping beauty. Sorry about the fuzziness. I promise sweater photography next week. And maybe socks too!


Mark Haddon

It's probably trendy right now, but I have recently read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and I really liked it. Aside from having a cutout of a dog on the front cover which M.M. loved ("It has a hole in it!! [giggle giggle]". It's a library book and I hope she doesn't destroy it before I return it), it is really moving and affecting without being trite or overdone. It's wonderful how he generates empathy for an autistic narrator who is unable to feel it for anyone else.

Here is a link to Terry Gross's interview with the author on Fresh Air.


Tricycle Cuteness

M.M. was handed-down (or over, as the painfully PC mom called it, presumably not wanting to wound my impoverished little dignity) this tricycle this week. She loves it, and I love the grownup-height pushing handle, but I won't be sad when her legs grow enough to let her pedal herself so I don't have to push it all the time.

The Sweater, continued

I'm in shouting distance of finishing sleeve #2 of the Endless Baby (Toddler) Sweater. When I do, I'll be faced with moving on to picking up stitches for the neck band, and that I do not know how to do. My knitting guru is not available to help me with this for two or three weeks, and I hope to be long done with the project by then. My newfound goal is to finish it before I drive to Maryland in a week and a half's time. I will have to either find another knitting guide or try to do it on my own by following the handy dandy instructions in the book.

I have to think very quickly and seriously about what I'm going to tackle next. I never thought I'd finish this sweater, so I'm not at all prepared. I'd like to try some socks, as it would make me feel like a more accomplished knitter, and I'm guessing they'd be a little more immediately gratifying. I don't have a clue how to make them, though, so I need a book, or a teacher, or something. I'm itching to know how to do cables, and lace, too. And spin and rear sheep, for that matter.


Climate Change

Last Saturday, 5 days ago, was, like 100˚F. Today it's freezing cold! I'm just saying... no wonder people are getting sick around here.


Right Through Here is the Master Bedroom...

The house is being shown on Monday! I'm so nervous I probably won't be able to sleep all weekend. I have to work all day tomorrow, but Sunday will be for cleaning, straightening, fixing up... trying to make it look like a minimalist version one of those perfect magazines. Everywhere I look I see flaws, which take on gigantic proportions in my view: cobwebs on the fan (on the cathedral ceiling, so I can't reach it with a broom to get them down), flies swooping around, paint dribbles on the floor from when the incompetent druggies painted the walls, permanently squished pile in the rugs, scuff marks on the walls...

I know that if I didn't live here, if I visited someone in this house, I'd never notice most of these things, and if I did I'd think they were so incredibly minor there was no point wasting an ounce of energy worrying about them. But I've read those books about how if your house is completely perfect you can sell it in one day for thousands above the asking price... and if it isn't, if you don't paint the closets and scrub the pipes under the sink, forget it! Here's what I mean. And here. If anything is less than sparkling, fresh, brand-new, organized, all the buyers will see are the flaws and they'll walk away never to return.

Which is, I must say, exactly what the first two people who looked at the house did. On the other hand, that was only two people, possibly not a sizable enough sample for a real scientific test. At any rate, I'm in a swivet and in a swivet I'm sure to remain until the showing is over. At which point, I'd dearly love to sell the house!



Ibrahim Ferrer Dies at 78
: News

Ibrahim Ferrer, and Peter Jennings. Somehow news of both these deaths has shocked me more than I'd have thought, given that I never saw the Buena Vista Social Club and I don't watch tv. Just unexpected, I guess.

The sweater… I've made no progress on the sweater. I am nevertheless starting to contemplate a next project. I'm thinking about a shrug of some sort for Kathy Jo. I'd like to make something for myself for a change, but I don't want to take on anything too big and overwhelming and I don't think I can pull off wearing a shrug. I'm just not that kind of a fashion victim plate.

Alternatively, I'd like to do something for The Dulaan Project . I am jumping the gun, though, because I will never finish the baby sweater.


Bony Fingers

The window's fixed. I thik it turned out to be their fault after all, because after telling me that they had to go to Springfield and that they couldn't figure it out at all, they suddenly called and said they'd be here in a couple of hours and fixed it lickety split with no explanation. Not that I'm complaining. I have an intact window again, that's enough for me.

The second sleeve is progressing sloooooowly. I despair of ever finishing it, and consequently of ever starting or finishing anything else, although I have the yen to knit.

Tired, stressed, house unsold, move unmoved, feeling stuck in the mud in every meaning of the phrase.

"Work your fingers to the bone and whattaya get?

Bony fingers, bony fingers"



Here's what happened: My grass was really really long, and it's hard to sell a house that way. So my friend (who shall remain nameless, but who is kindly if a bit bumbling) agreed to cut it for me, as it is impossible for me to simultaneously run large sharp machinery and keep a 2 year old in one piece. Great! Short grass, everybody's happy.

When my friend got done, the rear windshield of my car was shattered. Not cracked, not dented, completely, totally, freakin' shattered. The mower apparently kicked up a stone. Damn. But, in this state, auto glass is automatically covered by your insurance, no questions asked. And the repair people come to your house or place of work and fix it for you. It's easy-peasy, mac-and-cheesy. I found a shop in the phone book that advertised weekends and holidays and late nights (this happened, of course, on Saturday evening). After some phone hassles (Mercury is retrograde after all), it was all set. They even connected me to my insurance company to get the paperwork taken care of.

So, we were stuck here Sunday. It was kind of nice. No driving anywhere, quiet day, got some stuff done, M.M. got to rest up from the long day Saturday. Monday morning dawns, bright and clear (ok, so it was cloudy. Still, it wasn't actually raining). The glass place calls at 9am, I'm first on the list of calls today. "I'll be there in a few minutes, ma'am". Great!

He shows up as promised, and I am cheery with anticipation of a fixed window. Here it comes, though: He's got the wrong part. He's confused; it looks like the right label on the box, but the window clearly won't fit my car. He calls the shop. They surmise that the factory put the wrong window in the right box. Sorry, we'll have to get another one and come back tomorrow. Nothin' we can do, ma'am.

I'm deflated, slightly pissed, unsure what to do with the day now. Shall I try to get someone to pick us up? I am supposed to go to work. It could wait until tomorrow, but that kind of throws off the whole week. I call around a little, but no one particularly wants to ferry us around today. So, change of plans, another quiet day at home. It actually goes ok. We relax, more of the same, don't get too stir crazy. I do get a sore ear from being on the phone too much. Mercury's retrograde, isn't that a bitch?

Today dawns, bright and clear (yes, really). Again, I'm cheery with anticipation. Gosh, we need to go to the grocery store by now. I really have to go to work today. At 8:30am the phone rings - those guys are efficient! But the voice on the phone tells me they can't figure out which window I need. All the boxes seem to have the same window in them, the one that is obviously the wrong size and shape for my car. My heart sinks. My ruined day flashes before me. I make meaningless demands of the woman at the glass shop "Well, you've got to do something because I've been stuck here for three days now!" She's sending the branch manager to look at my car personally and try and figure out what's going on.

He shows up an hour later, with a book full of outline drawings of every car in America. The book stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the true shape of my rear windshield, insisting that it is flat with sharp corners rather than curved and rounded. Branch Manager is stumped. I make useless suggestions: "Have you called the dealer?" "Do you want to look at my owner's manual?" No dice, on either count. I try to remain calm. He takes my VIN number and vows to drive to the distribution center (or whatever it is) and let me know what he finds out.

I guess I'm going to have to rent a car.



I've crossed some sort of threshold... I dreamed about knitting last night. This is good. Maybe it means I'll finish this sweater finally!


Sleeve #2

I'm starting sleeve #2 of the Endless Baby Sweater. I've about given up on having it done before *Fenella* grows out of it. I think if I finished it NOW she'd be able to wear it for a few days. That would be kind of good actually, because it's perfect weather for it today.

However. It ain't finished and it ain't gonna be for a few more weeks at least, I think. As a new knitter I am going to need supervision to assemble and finish it. And like I said, I'm only starting sleeve 2. Sleeve 1 took … well, a long time.


Minutiae Looms Large

Called realtor. Left message. No showings of the house yet.

Called insurance agent. Left no message. New $800/month rates. Need to cancel policy.

Car still runs. No decisions yet about where to live.



Hooray hooray hooray! The CD is finished. I sent it off to the manufacturer today. I can't really believe it's true, actually. There's a hole in my life now. And I'm in fear and trembling that there's some problem with it that I didn't catch. I'm looking forward to cleaning the apartment, selling the house, paying bills (sort of), and getting some sleep!



New Moon Changes

Things are moving, it's happening quickly. In fact, I'm moving. I agreed today to move out of this apartment by May 15. I'll probably go back to The House, there to stay until it's sold, I suppose. It makes economic sense, and I'm not going to find a good rental in the Berkshires at this time of year anyway. It's not ideal; it's farther away from most of M.M.'s and my activities and social center, it's more isolated, and it's got weird associations. I'm going to have to try and set it up differently than it was when we lived there before, so I don't have creepy deja vu all the time.

My biggest fear – and also hope – is that we'll move back there and the house will sell immediately and we'll have to uproot again within a couple of months. I suppose it's really more of a hope than a fear, because it would be worse for the house not to sell and to be stuck in Pittsfield, with a big mortgage payment, for a long time.

The part of my plan that comes after the house sells is even more scary. It's to move to North Carolina. Every time I talk about it with my friends up here it starts to feel impossible and improbable. They openly say, or subtly indicate, that they'll miss me, and I know that I'll miss them, and I start to feel what a huge and irrevocable life change it is. When I'm thinking about it alone, in the shower, or driving down the road, or when I talk to my therapist or my brother or a few friends who are less invested in my staying here, it seems like a great idea: exciting, sensible, the obvious choice. Once in a while though, it hits me how deeply I'm rooted here, and that I won't be able to take those roots with me. I'll be able to visit them, of course, but it won't be the same.

I do need to start life over though. I could do it here, I suppose, but the old patterns - people, places, and things - are seductive and hard to escape. It's time to take the scary risks of doing my own things: going to school, or finding my own work, finding my own friends and community. I've been along time in the safe shadow of someone else's life's work, and I'm starting to feel like I don't have my own identity. I know the irony is probably that I have more of my own identity than ever now, and that's why I recognize how shaky it is. I hate the cliché of it, but there you are. It's a cliché because it's true.

That's why I need to go; I want to go for M.M.'s sake because I believe it will be a better place for her to grow up. The overriding reason is that I want her to grow up with family. It's questionable whether I'll ever be able to give her a sibling, or a father figure, so I want her to grow up with her cousin, with her uncle and aunt. As much as my friends love her, I've learned that blood really is thicker than water or anything else, and I want her to be grounded and rooted with people who can't drift away. And I worry about having her too close to td's family. I can't avoid the fact that she's got their genetic heritage, but I want to rescue her from them in every possible way.

Also, if I'm going to start over I might as well do it someplace with warmer weather and politer people.



It's horrible here - snow, freezing freezing cold (like my heat can't
keep up with it, no matter where I set the thermostat), and wind like
we're on the prairie. There are drifts all over the sidewalk, my car,
and the parking lot. I didn't go out all day, but we're supposed to go
to swimming first thing in the morning, so I'm trying to shore up all
my strength for the bundling up (with a toddler), the braving the
elements (with a toddler), the digging out of the car (with a
toddler)... Have I mentioned that I can't stand winter anymore?

I tried to make biscuits today but my yeast was expired and I didn't
have a really warm place for the dough to rise and M.M. woke up and
needed tending when I was supposed to be kneading, so they came out
like fresh-baked hockey pucks. There was a leftover hunk of dough that
I didn't have cookie sheet space for so I stuck it in the oven whole
when the 'biscuits' were done, and it actually came out as a
reasonable small loaf of bread. We had it with our pasta for supper
tonight, so the whole thing wasn't a total bust.



So I drove to New Hampshire yesterday in a Subaru and came home in a Volkswagen. I had cold feet on the way there, thinking it was a bad idea to buy a car, that I'd regret getting rid of the Subaru, knowing that I was going to lose money even though I'd be lowering my payment.

The salesman didn't exactly pressure me; in fact he was pretty silent during the test drive, which I'm sure they'd frown on upstairs in the manager's office. But when we got back, he just assumed I was buying it. He had me fill out a credit application and then assumed I was buying it even more. And a while later, there I was, buying it.

I did get a good deal, I feel convinced. I paid less than blue book for the VW and got more than blue book for the Subaru. All of which leads me to believe what I already knew - the Subaru was a 'nicer', more valuable car. It was newer and more popular and worth more money. On the other hand, I never really liked it. I always felt guilty about not liking such a nice new car, but it was too big for me (though now that I've adapted to the bigness the vee-dub feels too small. I'm hoping to adapt back), it hurt my back, it stalled out a lot, the radio sucked, it was expensive and used more gas than I liked, and most importantly it symbolized Bad Things in my life. And the new car has heated seats and a sunroof and a payment that's over $125 lower so how can I go wrong?


Fair Maria Wood

Fair Maria Wood

Horseless Carriage

I'm maybe getting a new car tomorrow. It's happened suddenly after 3 months of fruitless searching. I'm feeling less excitement than I might have expected, as I'm trying to keep somewhat low expectations and I have so much else in my head anyhow. The relief of having a lower monthly car payment will be immense, especially given the other financial disasters which have befallen me in the past month or so. I will feel much more responsible and reasonable in a smaller cheaper car. I hate driving something so perilously close to an SUV as the Forester. And it makes my back hurt.



Elmer is still alive! She's in my lap, twitching her tail, touching me with her cold wet nose, walking on the keyboard and generally driving me nuts, and I'm so thankful. I truly thought she was going to be dead last weekend, and it cost almost $1,000, a lot of medicine, two trips to an animal hospital an hour away, and lots of heartache and angst to get her back and annoying me again. She's still acting a little weird about water and food and our wonderful vet seems to think she might actually be crazy, but I'm glad she's here.



The email list is gone. The web guy seems unconcerned ("you don't have copies of the email addresses?"). Part of the reason for having this email list held and administered on the web site was so that we wouldn't have to deal with managing all the addresses ourselves, and also so that people's addresses would remain private and they could sub- and unsub- freely for themselves.

I can't bear to tell anyone yet. I'm too tired. I'm too overwhelmed, and I haven't been around another adult for 3 or 4 days now. I'm glad I'm leaving town day after tomorrow. I can't tell you how tempted I am not to come back.

In the meantime, who wouldn't be cheered up by this?


Knitty Gritty

I finished the diaper cover! Ok, I mostly finished it. It still needs a drawstring and I'd like to knit cuffs for it. But I finished it enough for M.M. to wear it:

It's not a great picture, and the soaker is not terribly visible, but I was working with a moving target. Here's the other shot I got of it:

I'm now preparing to start the soft soft hat for Mr. W. I'm not using the right kind of yarn, and it's a bit of an experiment since with my novice skills I don't know how the substitution is going to work.


The First Hour

Where does it go? When M.M. goes to sleep I inevitably have a long mental list of things I need to do before I too can hit the hay. I spend much of the time it takes to get her down culling that list, prioritizing, scheduling my precious pre-sleep activities. Every night, I somehow end up an hour later wandering around the house in a panic about how I'm not going to get to bed until 1am again, with absolutely no idea where the first hour went. It's like a black hole, the dryer-sock phenomenon of the time-space continuum.

Tonight I was desparate to take a shower and get into bed by 11:30. Here it is, 11:30, and I've showered, but I still have to do the mandatory kitchen cleanup and laundry start without which life cannot go on. I've revised my bedtime to 11:45. It's still a lot earlier than yesterday.


No Soap

I've just decided: I'm not taking a shower tonight. I go through this frequently, needing a shower, wanting to take one before bed when M.M.'s asleep but being too tired and throwing in the towel (heh). Again, tonight. I truly need a good night's sleep. My brain's been foggy with fatigue all day, and I'm having anxiety and stupidity as a result. So, no soap!

I paid my bills tonight. I'm feeling proud and impoverished. I am in a desperate pickle, and I really need to find a stream of income that does not require me to expend time or energy, as I have none to spare beyond what goes into M.M.-care. She's already getting shortchanged on the Mama-attention meter. My new plan is to pay bills every weekend so they don't get so out of control, and so I maintain a more realistic and depressing view of my financial status.

More cheerfully, I'm still knitting the diaper soaker that I started last week. I'm getting to the section that I have no idea how to perform, so it may fall apart soon. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for yarn and needles for a sweater for the New Nephew, and the right sized needle for a hat for him to match the one I made M.M. I'm proud of myself for jumping into this knitting craze and adventuring with it, attempting sweaters and all. I hope to have photos of the finished products eventually.


Beautiful Boy

I have a new photo of the beautiful boy.

I sat down to make sense of my bills this evening and discovered to my horror that I hadn't paid them in almost a month, which was quite a bit longer than I thought. Everything is late, and I have to pay double bills for lots of things to catch up. I have a health insurance bill for $1500.00. I don't know why the state assistance portion didn't get paid this month; probably something to do with the New Year.

Even with state aid the cost is outrageous. I would absolutely get rid of it if it weren't for having to make sure M.M. is covered. As it is, I may finally be forced to figure out about getting MassHealth and dropping private insurance altogether. I am beaten down, discouraged by the enormity of the terribleness of the system and the futility of trying to do anything about it. I just want health care for my daughter.

The irony is that medicine is so useless so much of the time. M.M. threw up for the better part of a month and all the doctor's office could say was don't let her get dehydrated. And they gave me bad advice which I didn't follow about withholding breastmilk, the most nutritious and well tolerated of all substances for babies.

Before I allowed myself to discover the extent of my dire financial situation for the month, I got M.M. a hammer and pounding bench today, and a Pete Seeger kids' CD. She loves hammers and was delighted, thrilled, enthralled with having one of her own. She was carrying it as we walked back to the car, and insisted on banging on a brick wall as we went by. She fell asleep on the way home, and when she woke up, "hammer" was the first thing she said. It felt great. Screw the insurance company and the accountant.


The Arrival of Winter

This blog is appropriately named. It's been ebbing, and now perhaps I'll start to flow again.

Here is the first official photo of my new nephew, Mr. W. I can't believe I have a nephew!

He's the cutest baby since my baby. M.M. and I are going down to meet him in a couple of weeks.

I am in the process of knitting a diaper soaker for M.M., having already completed her hat:

Sadly, the hat has since been put through the washer and dryer and is now smaller and... felty. I'm planning a small version for Mr. W., and when that's done, if it's not warm by then, I may try either a replacement for M.M.'s or some sort of rescue, like ear flaps or an added cuff to make it bigger.

Hmm... a loud popping sound just came from my kitchen. Can't imagine what that might be. Hmm.