Friday, December 25, 2009

For unto you this day...

My coworker S recently told me this story: A woman is shopping with her two children. It's the last weekend before Christmas, the malls are crowded, it's getting late, the kids are hungry and whining and fussing, and she's getting more and more frustrated with the whole experience. She's almost done, and she's struggling to get to the elevator with both kids and all her bags and her sanity. It is not going well.

The elevator is late, and when it finally comes, it's almost full, so there's barely enough room for the three of them and their bags, but they squeeze in. But by this time, the woman has had it, and all her frustration comes spewing forth, and she vents to the crowded elevator, "I don't know whose idea this whole holiday thing was, but whoever they are, they ought to be crucified!"

Behind her in the back of the elevator, a person pipes up: "He was."

Sometimes in the rush of the whole Christmas season, it's easy to lose sight of what's really important. We're so busy running around trying to get everything done -- all the baking, the shopping, the decorating -- that we forget why we're actually celebrating in the first place. That this day -- December 25 -- is, first and foremost, a birthday celebration. And that in a time when we are all supposed to be thinking about giving to others, we should all stop to think about the ultimate gift that was given to us -- Jesus.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Goose Is Getting Fat

Actually, we never ate goose in our family on Christmas. We usually ate turkey. Does that mean that the goose is still getting fat, or can it stay thin?

I have finished the three out of four scarves I was planning on knitting for Christmas. I don't know if the fourth one will in fact be done in time. We shall have to see.

I have come across this website. For those nonknitters among you who are looking for gift ideas for your knitting loved ones? You might want to check it out.

Ten days until Christmas.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Random on a Saturday

I have entered the second wave of the Black Hole of Calcutta. The first was on the leg. The second is now on the foot. Remind me never again to knit another pair of kilt hose.

I am not entirely certain I like the sleeves on Espresso (Ravelry link), but so far, I have yet to encounter the major issue that other people have complained about. We shall have to see.

It is going to be interesting to see how much of the sweater I will be able to get down before Christmas.

Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Nicholas, for those of you with Dutch or Russian heritage. I have no wooden shoes, so I think I will pass, even though I actually do happen to have some Dutch in me. (Besides, I celebrated my heritage on Monday when I wore my Bruce sash to commemorate St. Andrew's Day.)

It's snowing outside! Yay!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


According to my middle school science teacher (and corroborated by my high school science teachers), white is defined by the absence of all color. (Confuse it not with light, which is the presence of all color.) Therefore, no matter what anyone tells you, whether they be from the fashion world, or the makeup world, or the home decorating world, there is only ever one shade of white. The absence of all color. There can be many different shades of blue, or green, or purple, or red, or brown, or even offwhite (consider eggshell, nacre, ecru, beige, taupe, bone, pearl, smoke,

whatever color used to be on my bedroom ceiling

the list goes on. That picture was snapped while H and Earthling and I were painting my bedroom. And prior to it, I would have sworn the ceiling was white. Apparently not). With lots of colors, there is a whole spectrum of shades and timbres, and it's this range that provides us with such beauty in the world. And, let's face it, it's fun sometimes to confuse a man who can't see the difference between the three blues, when clearly obvious that one is navy, one is royal, and one is denim.

But not white. No matter what anyone tells you, there is only ever one white.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This is the tree outside my front door.

The picture is a week old. Thanks to Ida, it is no longer in its magnificence, because about two thirds of its leaves have since fallen off. But I'm thinking of sending it into TWC for its Capture the Fall thingy. Anyone have an opinion on that? It costs $10 to send in a photo. Is it worth it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York is home to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival on the third weekend of October, every year. This is always fun to attend -- Earthling and I went last year and had loads of fun, so we were looking forward to it this year. It's similar to Maryland's, but it's much more oriented towards families -- similar to a fall carnival. But regardless of how you look at it, it's still a lot of fun.

But really, the most important thing about Rhinebeck was that It. Was. COLD. Thursday afternoon, I left Virginia thinking, "It's October. How cold can it be, even if it is New York? I'll take my Rhinebeck cardigan (Ravelry link) and jacket, and I should be fine."

Little did I know. See this?

That's me INSIDE a barn. Yes, those are knitting needles I am holding. Yes, they really are about four feet tall. Note that I am wearing not just my sweater and jacket, but mittens and a hat as well (I'm also wearing wool socks, but you can't see those). The hat is one that I knit a couple of years ago and gave to Earthling for Christmas. The mittens, I cast on Thursday night and finished in the hotel room Friday evening, after Earthling commented that there was a chance of snow(!) for Rhinebeck on Saturday. (I don't normally knit that fast, even a pair a mittens, but this was on a deadline.)

There was no snow that day (although we did pass some on the ground on our way north), though, so we lucked out in that respect. Especially since the next day (which was the day we left, so we didn't go to the booths again), it rained, and was probably much more miserable for the attendees.

I went to Rhinebeck with a certain set of rules in my head. These rules were to help keep me from not spending too much.

Rule #1: I would use only cash. I would not pull out any of my cards or my checkbook, and I would not use the ATM at the fairgrounds.

Result: Bang on on this one. This has been my rule for pretty much every wool festival I've attended, and it's worked pretty well. When my cash is done, so am I. Earthling does the same.

Rule #2: I would not buy anything that I already owned, or that I could procure at any of my local yarn stores back home.

Result: Right. Well, I did pretty well on this one, too, except that I do know that I already own a couple of silk bells

(but not in that color. There's a difference.), and I'm pretty sure I can get one of these at With Yarn in Front:

Other than that, everything else was new. Honest.

Rule #3. I would not play with any of my new stuff until I made a sizeable dent in my current stash.


It was worth it though -- to entrance the Beasts.

There were bunnies:

There were goats:

I'm pretty sure this alpaca liked me:

Not so certain about the llama, though:

The sheep clearly couldn't care less:

Sheep Incognito was there:

We looked at the items that had been entered for judging and saw things that were beautiful:

Some things that were cute:

Some things that showed what I could aspire to:

And things that showed me that clearly, it is not my opinion that counts in anything:

I finished my Kindness Socks (in the hotel room):

It was a great time. I can't wait until next year.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Lest ye think that I have been ignoring you and the house....

That, my friends, is a picture of one of my air ducts. You can't really tell, because I didn't take the vent off, but that vent right there has just been cleaned. I took no before picture, partly because I didn't think of it at the time, and partly also because I didn't want to frighten anyone with the image of my dirty air vent and thoughts of life forms living amidst my ducts (which, by the way, they were totally dirty enough to house. I kid you not).

However, last week, right before I went away to Rhinebeck, the Cardinal people came and cleaned my furnace, and the Steamatic people came and cleaned my air ducts. So now, there is no longer the possibilty of strange life forms living in my ducts, and (once I go out and procure the air filter), I can actually turn on the heat as well.


Paint. Evidence of it, although there is still considerable more to do. (Anyone who comes over to help will be fed. Please?)

Next post: Rhinebeck!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Little Things

The other day, H and I were shopping in a bath and beauty type store, and H came across a container of hand cream that she thought smelled really nice. And she was thinking about buying some, until she looked at the price tag: $24. At which point, she turned to me and muttered that hand cream really isn't worth that much, even if it is really nicely scented.

This sparked a conversation with the clerks, because we wondered how popular the hand cream was (we didn't mention that we didn't think the cream worth the price). It turned out that the clerks sort of agreed with us: They didn't think it was worth the $24 either, but that enough of their patrons considered it their little luxuries, enough so to pay that much for the cream. One of them suggested to H that if she really liked it that much, perhaps it would become her little luxury -- the one thing she would be willing to splurge on.

That got me thinking as I drove into work the next day. I had stopped at a Starbucks for a venti caramel macchiato -- which, with taxes, cost around $4.30. I also had to wait in line for it for about ten minutes, which almost made me late for work.

I had stopped there, because Starbucks is on my way into work. But so is McDonalds, which sells caramel lattes for a lot less, and the line is much shorter. I could have stopped there instead of at Starbucks, spent $1.50 less, and waited 5 fewer minutes in line. But a caramel latte is not the same as a caramel macchiato.

I still don't know about the hand cream - to me $24 still seems like a lot to shell out. But I guess we all have our little things we feel the need to splurge on, whether it be a caramel macchiato, a jar of hand cream, a cute pair of shoes, or a tube of lipstick.

What's yours?

Monday, September 21, 2009


So, as promised, here is "Before." We will start with the outside.

I spent Saturday afternoon pruning that blasted hedge. In the spring, I'm totally hiring a landscaper to come and get rid of it. I'm foreseeing it as more trouble than it's worth, and I want flowers there instead.

Here is the back of the house.

No deck, but both of my neighbors have one, so at least I know one is kosher. Maybe in a couple more years with a couple more dollars in my bank account, it will be something to think about.

The back yard.

There is foliage back here that I want gone too -- I spent considerable time back here on Saturday also.

The street out front:

Now, on to inside. Here is the foyer on the main level:

(That's my purse sitting on the floor there.)

The living room:

That's V's air mattress that she kindly lent me so that I could spend my first night as a homeowner there.

The other end of the living room. I think it was supposed to be the formal eating area, but I'm going to turn it into my office area.

The kitchen.

That box I was using as a temporary trash can. The unlit candle on the counter is acting as an air freshener.

The other end of the kitchen, which is where I have since put the dining room table:

The upstairs hallway:

The master bedroom. This is one of the few rooms in the house that is actually close to being fully done (now). The only thing missing for an "after" picture are the drapes.

The room that will end up being my guest room:

The really tiny bedroom upstairs that is going to be my craft room. I did not pick that color blue, and am thinking it might be a little much for it (it's darker in real life).

The hall bathroom upstairs. There are three full bathrooms in this place, but this is the one I've been abluting in.

The really weird room off of the garage. The previous owners stuck a wall halfway through the garage and made it into an abbreviated garage (big enough for my bike, the soon-to-be lawn mower and gardening supplies, the trash cans, and not much else) and an office. There is no window in this room, so the color is a little off. The walls are really more of a light mustard shade. I think I will use it as a large closet for now.

The family room downstairs. The bathroom there has a shower in it that is filthy almost beyond belief. I will spare you the details. Use your imagination and know that it is worse than that.

And the other half of the family room, complete with back door. This is where the futon is going to be for the time being.

It's mostly cosmetic -- what needs to be done. I've moved in and (mostly) unpacked. There is now a refrigerator in the kitchen, and new locks on all the doors. Mostly, what needs to be done is cleaning -- I had the good sense to hire someone to come and steam clean the carpet -- and painting. Pretty much every room needs to be touched up, if not completely repainted, in some way. I'm almost done with the living room and my bedroom, but I'll wait until everything is done before presenting the "after" pictures.

(The green fluffiness is all spun up now, and is in the process of being knit. Pattern: Oblique. It's not as lofty as I would like, but it seems to be knitting up well.)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Today's post was going to be about the house. I was going to post all my "before" pictures and explain what all I was planning on doing with it (and it's a lot, but mostly cosmetic), and then provide an update on all that I had done so far. That's what I had meant to do today. But this morning, when I woke up and heard a certain noise outside, I realized that there was something more important to write about.

What was that noise, you ask, that would be more important than my new house? A noise that makes me want to dance outside in the street, throwing pennies to anyone who walks by?

The noise outside was a bus shifting its gears. Which means that today, my friends, today is a most auspicous day. Today is....


Monday, August 31, 2009


I stayed awake all Friday night, tossing and turning on the air mattress that V lent me -- partly because every time I shifted position, the mattress would shift with me, partly because there were no drapes in the windows, and the neighbor across the street had the outside light on, and partly because I was worrying about what I had just done.

Did they really fix the furnace? What if, come November, I go to turn it on, and it doesn't work?

What if something happens and I lose my job?

What if I can't afford to make the mortgage payments (please bear in mind that the fact that I have just plopped down a substantial downpayment on this sucker kind of mutes the worry about not affording the mortgage)?

What if I can't get the stove clean?

Did I pick the right paint colors?

When will I be able to go to a locksmith? What if something happens between now and then?

And then it hit me:

Good or bad, that house is mine now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This Is not Going Well

Or maybe it is, depending on how you look at it. But either way, when someone e-mails you about something that is clearly time sensitive, it might behoove both of you to respond with a reasonable sense of alacrity, and not until FIVE DAYS have passed, when it might be too late for either one of you to do anything about it.

Moving on...

I have finished spinning up all the green fluffiness! Now for a pattern.

Packing, packing, I fear there is no end to the packing....

I am in desperate need of bleach. And moving boxes. And a decently working vacuum.

I finished the front of the Fireside Sweater (that's a Ravelry link) and have started on the back. This is my second go-round on it, and this one, unlike the first one, will have sleeves and will be in a different yarn.

Celtic Festival coming up!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Summer Reading is over.

I've finished spinning up the singles on the green fluffiness. Now for plying.

Never play with scissors. Doing so will result in injury that impairs one's knitting and typing ability.

Peach cobbler is very good but never quite as good as when Mother makes it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Random Musings

There are six volunteers at the library currently shelving the books. It doesn't seem to have made much of a difference, but if I tell myself that it has, then it won't counteract my running back and forth to the back room for more carts.

I have started on the second bobbin of the green fluffiness.

I finished my blue socks and am almost done with the green ones!

Apparently bananas are a "complete" food that one can live almost exclusively on. Along with honey and wild salmon. Who knew?

It is exactly this long before school starts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frogs, Flies, and Fun

They say that time flies when you're having fun, or (as a frog would say), time's fun when you're having flies. But sometimes time flies when you're so incredibly busing because you don't have the time to notice the fact that time is actually passing. In the words of Marina Sirtis, We haven't the time to worry about time.

On the up side...

I have finished my personal programs for SRP, which means that the only things I need to worry about right now are the Foundation programs and the volunteers.

I am over halfway done spinning up the green roving. I have one pound completely spun and plied, and almost a bobbin and a half spun up of the second pound. I'm going for a heavy worsted/chunky weight, and I think I have about 550 yards in one pound.

I can't believe there are people out there who didn't like The Little Engine that Could....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Six more weeks until school starts.

Three more weeks until the end of summer reading.

Watty Piper never said it so well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I can too do it

Very busy month going on right now. Summer Reading has begun (Oh Joy), which means teen voluneers, school visits (now finished, thankfully), programs, and screaming hords inundating the library every day. Three more months....

The new library opens in about two weeks.

The house hunt continues apace. I have come to the realization that, while I am quite capable of painting walls, cleaning counters, and calling Sears and Empire for a new refrigerator and carpet, the idea of dealing with an HVAC system as old as I am is well beyond my level of expertise. So that house is crossed off the list. I'm going out again tonight. Wish me luck.

But let it not be said that I cannot cope with the stress. I cope just fine. See?

These are the Ancient Oak socks, which I swore WOULD NOT GET THE BETTER OF ME (and they haven't). And you will be happy to know that in the light of finishing up the Purple People Eaters and the Ancient Oak, I have also worked on the next appropriate item in my queue:

Darn tootin. That there is a garter stitch Syrian Shawl (that's a Ravelry link) -- the best thing in the world to work on when the universe is plotting to drive you crazier than you already are. Even the edging was relatively simple.

I am happy to see that my blocking has come out much better on this one than it did with my previous shawls.

See? No problem coping.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is the way you knit a sock

Or rather, this is the way one should knit a sock:

1) Choose pattern
2) Choose yarn (this may or may not be done prior to the completion of step 1)
3) Knit swatch to see if pattern and yarn are comparable to each other (or go wild and skip this step)
4) Knit sock 1. Try sock on recipient to ensure fit.
5) Knit sock 2. Give to recipient.

See? Not that hard. At all. Which is why I have been ready to tear my eyeballs out in seething rage in response to this last pair I've been working on. Because this is how I have been knitting a sock.

1) Choose yarn (Yummy, in colorway Truffle, which apparently isn't being made anymore)
2) Choose pattern (Ancient Oak -- that's a Ravelry link)
3) Knit swatch.
4) Realize that the pattern calls for a slightly thicker yarn and a bigger gauge than the yarn will knit up at. Employ language unbecoming a knitter.
5) Decide to work the pattern anway, changing the stitch count from 54 to 72.
6) Knit ribbing and first pattern repeat.
7) Realize that even after having increased by 18 stitches, the sock is still to small.
8) Rip out sock and cast on again, this time with 84 stitches.
9) Realize that the colorway changed when the stitch count increased and no longer looks as nice. Employ more language unbecoming a knitter, but decide to continue knitting.
10) Celebrate when, after ribbing and first pattern repeat, that this size will work. Continue onto heel.
11) Realize halfway through heel flap that the pattern called for standard stockinette rather than slipped stitch. Rip back again.
12) Reknit heel and celebrate after a successful turning that has included copious amounts of weird math in order to get the stitch count to come out right.
13) Realize after about five rounds of gussett decreases that the color is just turning out way too weird to continue knitting.
14) Call V and complain bitterly about sock
15) Rip back, using language unbecoming a knitter and sobbing knitterly sobs.
16) Go up a needle size and cast on the original 72 stitches.
17) Use more language unbecoming a knitter when the realization dawns that this is now working.
18) Realize that the copious weird math done the first time is not going to work the second time. Use more language unbecoming a knitter.
19) Rework weird math. Celebrate when the heel turns successfully.
20) Complete sock 1
21) Begin sock 2 and ask recipient to try on sock 1
22) Dance jig when sock fits recipient
23) Progress to heel of sock 2
24) Realize that you again forgot to write down the exact numbers of the complicated weird math when turning the heel. Refrain from using language unbecoming a knitter as in the presence of parents.
25) Begin working on garter stitch shawl in an effort to preserve sanity.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Finishing Up

I can't believe it's June already. Seriously? What happened to April and May? Time flies so quickly sometimes.

On the up side (speaking of which, I really want to see that movie)...


Yes. It is true. Remember the shawl?

It is now this.

A closer look?

A thousand curses on the lighting in my bedroom. The first picture shows the color most accurately. V took pictures of it on me, but she has yet to send them to me, so you'll have to make do with the crappy ones I took. I'm very proud of this. It took forever, but it was so worth it.

I also finished spinning up the tussah:

There's about 750 yards of that gorgeousness right there (and the color is pretty accurate in this picture). I want to make a nice wrap or shawl with it. Unfortunatley, it's not spun evenly enough to make anything particularly lacy, but we shall see. Perhaps another Wool Peddlers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lest We Forget

"Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died." -- Billy Ray Cyrus

That's a line from the song "Some Gave All" -- which I've never heard played on the radio, but I think is most appropriate today. And it made me realize that whatever profound, moving thoughts I was going to put down here would pale in comparison to what the collective mind of American humanity has already said. It also drove home the point that it doesn't really matter what I say here, because the important thing is, to quote Abraham Lincoln, "The world...can never forget."

So instead of me spouting off something trite and patt about the importance of this Monday, I think I'll just close with something that was said tonight during the Memorial Day concert by one of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

"Let us make their hope our own, and let us never, ever forget."

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Long Weekend

I'm so glad we're coming up on a long weekend, because I really need to get a lot done. I'm desperate to finish the Flying Purple People Eaters (which is bothersome, because the more rows I do on it, the longer they become, and the longer it is taking to finish it), but I'm hoping only two more pattern repeats, and it will be done except for the blocking. And now that my wheel has dried, and the little plastic dodad has been replaced, I can work on some spinning this weekend too (yeah!).

Green Valley Book Fair this weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Right outside the building from my desk, there are a bunch of construction workers (since I can hear and see them actually doing things, I won't qualify it anymore than that). They are (at least I think and hope that this is what they're doing) rebuilding the gazebo which burned down last summer. (I think it had help.)

Let me see. It is now the middle of May. The gazebo burned down in early August. That is over nine months in which there has been a barren space of land outside. Children have been conceived, carried, and delivered.

Now that the Monkey socks are done, there is room in the queue for the Ancient Oak ones. Except that these spent almost two days in time out, thinking about what they did after I totally arsed up the gauge on them. Grumble.

Thank God it's Friday.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


I feel like I really want to rant right now. There are certain things that are really starting to TICK ME OFF ROYALLY -- like computers, and cleaning staff, and staff at stores that don't seem to know anything about what they're selling, and...

Never mind. Here, look at knitting:

That's the October Frost cardigan, finally done. Although I have no idea what is up with the color. Here's a much better image:

Pattern from A Fine Fleece, made with the rest of the Cascade Eco that I had leftover from making the Holiday Vest.

And here are the water lilly socks, which were finished on Thursday and promptly pressed into service on Friday:

(My own standard sock pattern, made with yarn from one of the vendors at Pittsburgh whose name escapes me at the moment.)

There. I feel so much better now. Don't you?