Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Christmas Panic has begun

This year I decided to be nice to myself and not try to knit a bunch of Christmas presents. I'm limiting myself to one or two (which I haven't even started yet. Of course.) Every year along about September, I think that I have plenty of time to knit presents for almost everyone. Reality has set in and I now realize that I can't do it without staying up all night every night and knitting while I work.

So, here it is, almost December, and I have so many things that aren't gifts that I promised to make. Knee socks for two little girls. Socks for a blog friend. Socks for Tom's little niece. A gazillion doggie sweaters that need to be in the Yorkie Shoppe right now for Christmas presents.

Okay, I tell myself, this is manageable. Knitting is relaxing for me. Knitting is Xanax. It's meditation in motion. The only things that have to be done in the very near future are the doggie sweaters. I can make one per evening. I can do this.

So why am I feeling pressured?

P. S. Nancy--remember that cat bed that I knit for you two years ago and haven't felted yet? I'll get it done soon. I promise.

After Christmas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A little knitting

I've done a lot of knitting in the last couple of weeks. I've made 5 sweaters for UYR. So far one of the members has sent me over 15 pounds of assorted yarns. I'm having fun playing with them.

While we (meaning Tom) were driving to Rehoboth Wednesday afternoon, which stretched into Wednesday night (that Bay Bridge doesn't care much for high winds, so traffic was backed up into DC. Literally. It took us 5 hours to drive 40 miles. At one point we got off [by driving in the breakdown lane; I really had to pee], went to a nearby Wendy's, got something to eat, then got back on the road--only to find ourselves in back of the same cars and trucks we'd been behind earlier; yeah, traffic was really moving well that night.) I knit once I woke up, even after it got dark. Turned on the cab light and knit until traffic started moving again. I got over half of this child's sock done that night, and finished it yesterday.

I love love love the color of this yarn. It's a real "ruby slippers" red. I'm going to have to get me some of that. I started the second one yesterday, too, and will be knitting socks and dog sweaters for a long, long time to come.

Good thing that I'm obsessive-compulsive. Just a little.

Family and stuff

We spent Thanksgiving with Tom's family in Rehoboth Beach. Lots of fun, good food, good company. Throw in a beach and it's all there.

Tom and his brothers and sister:

It was our first anniversary the day after Thanksgiving. Tom's youngest brother passed around a card for everyone to sign. Including us. He said, "Sign this; it's for Matt's graduation." Neither of us noticed. They had a good hearty chuckle at that.

We went out Friday afternoon (our anniversary) and looked at rings. Last year we decided to get married on Thanksgiving--6 days before the day. There was no time to find a ring; I was going to borrow one, but my sister, Joan, bought one and I wore it for a year. We found this one, which I love.

I couldn't get a nice, clear photo of it, try though I might. And I did. Try.

If you squint your eyes just right, you might be able to see the detail in the center of the band. It looks just like a knit or crochet stitch. I didn't realize that till later that day, but it's so appropriate.

I gave a pair of socks to Tom's little nephew, Ryder, who is almost a year old.

And of course, we had to go by the beach. It wasn't hideously cold that day, just very windy after really hard winds and rain on Wednesday and a good bit of Thursday.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Florida princess

My little A has done it again. First in her age group in a pageant.

Yes, my baby is a pageant queen.

As a result of being in pageants, she's totally comfortable in adult social situations. She can get on the stage and strut her stuff, chat with the judges, model her outfits, and dazzle the judges with her talent. It doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous.

But these last two pageants are a different sort. They're more centered on the girls' conversational abilities, their ease in social settings. These pageants emphasize community service (no, not that kind); the girls will go to nursing homes, children's hospitals, that kind of thing. But for A, the best part is being in parades.

Especially a parade at Walt Disney World! Lunch with the governor and an invitation to the new governor's inauguration and ball is pretty cool, but come on, Disney World! She lives just a few minutes from WDW, gets to visit free since her mommy works there, but being in a parade in WDW is just the best thing.

I would have crawled under a table and refused to come out if I'd been told I was going to be in a parade when I was A's age. There's no way I would have stood on a stage and maintained eye contact with a bunch of grownups.

All this attention, practically her whole life, has not caused A to be vain or aloof. She's still just a little girl who likes to play dress-up with other girls. The prize packages that come with the titles are pretty exciting, but A likes the sashes and crowns--and toys--that are part of the rewards.

Her mommy makes most of her clothing for the pageants. Big money is spent on pageant clothes for these little girls; you wouldn't believe me if I told you how much just a swimsuit can cost. But my daughter, J, makes them herself, and they're often held together with safety pins and hot glue. If J wanted to, she could do a big business in making pageant clothing.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It fits!

Isn't this a darling little dog? His name is Max, and he belongs to my blog friend Peri. They live in Canada; after he was blown over--literally--one cold, windy night as he was watering his lawn, I offered to knit a sweater for him. Can't let a cute little guy like Max get all ruffled up.

And I have to brag--I knit those socks, too, to the measurements that Peri sent. I'm absolutely amazed that they actually fit her!

I'm on a socks jag lately. I've been knitting baby socks in assorted sizes using left-over sock yarn. I've also knit a bunch of doggie sweaters for the United Yorkie Rescue Organization's Yorkie Shoppe. They're sending me a boatload of assorted yarns to try out. I've been knitting with my own stash, so this is greatly appreciated.

One of them:

And another:

Anyone want the pattern? I thought you would.

2 Piece Dog Sweater

This sweater will take roughly 3.5 oz of yarn. Your gauge is roughly 4 stitches to the inch. I have worked this up on worsted weight 4 ply and also on sport weight. Using sport weight the gauge works out to 4.5 stitches to an inch. You will also need size 5 needles and size 7 needles.

You will need the following measurements. Dog’s collar size, Top Line measurement and measurement between the pups front legs.

(I tried to find the website where I originally found the pattern but have been unable to find it. It was also sent to me by a knittin' member of the UYR. If anyone out there (hello? hello? hello?) knows who wrote the pattern, please let me know so I can avoid being sued give credit to the person.)

1. For a 10” collar cast on 40 stitches on size 5 needles. Beginning with the neck work in a pattern of your choice, for the length of your choice: 1” for a mock turtleneck, 3” for a fold over turtleneck, 3” for a rolled neck. The pattern can be knit 1 purl 1 or k2 p2, a rolled neck is knit one row and purl a row.

2. Switch to size 7 needles and work in a pattern of your choice until the piece measures equal to 1” short of the top line of the pup. I suggest you add 1-2” to the top line because the pup’s body will make it shrink up. Garter pattern is the easiest. If you choose the stockinette pattern (knit one row, purl one row) you must knit the first 4 and last 4 stitches of every row. Stitch the last inch in the same pattern as the neck.

3. Bind off.

4. To make the chest section: Using size 5 needles cast on 3 stitches. Knit row

5. K1 increase in 2nd stitch K1 (4 stitches on needle)

6. Knit row

7. K1 increase in 2PndP stitch increase in 3PrdP stitch K1 (6 stitches)

8. Knit row.

9. Knit 2 increase in 3PrdP stitch increase in 4 stitch K1 (8 stitches).

10. Continue increasing in the 3 stitch from the beginning and from the end, alternating with a knit row until the width of the piece measures the width of the space between your pup’s front legs.

11. Continue knitting the piece until it measures 1” short of the pup’s rib cage for male dogs, or as long as you want it to cover the little girl’s tummy. Knit the last inch in the same pattern as the collar.

12. Bind off.

13. Now to sew the pieces together. Seam the neck edges together. When you reach the main body, take the point of the chest piece and match it to the edge of the collar, seam down each side until you reach the point where you stopped increasing. Leaving a 2-2 1/2 slit open, continue to seam down the sides. The slits form the leg openings. Slits are perfect for longhaired pups. Less matting.


Here are some notes on sizes:

The gauge is roughly 4 st=1", 5 rows=1". I use size 8 needles mostly, but you can use any size you like to get the right gauge.

For a 6" neck, cast on 38 st; chest piece, increase to 14 st.
For an 8" neck, cast on 40 st; chest piece, increase to 16 st.
For a 10" neck, cast on 40-42 st; chest increase to 18 st.
For a 12" neck, cast on 44-46 st; chest increase to 20 st.
For a 14" neck, cast on 48-50 st; chest increase to 22 st.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sick Puppy

This is Zippy, my small emergency backup dog, with his favorite book.

Traitor. He was named by Dave Barry bloglits.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chester's still partying

Poor baby. He's gotta lay off the hard cider.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or Treat

Since we live in the middle of Nowhere, no humans came to our house looking for treats.

But these did.

It's an earlier photo, but the same deer (we think) are still coming around. It's hard to tell once the babies lose their spots, but the twins are still around.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flying into the sun

Woohoo--last night I bought (relatively cheap) airfare to Florida so I can be with A on her birthday! You don't know how excited this makes me. Yes, we'll be there just the week before her birthday, since we're going to spend part of my winter break in Florida visiting our daughters. But I haven't been with A on her birthday for several years, and she's always asking if I can come for her special day.

But then, every day is special when A is there!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Poor choices

One of my high school's former football players yesterday shot and killed a man. This kid (now almost 20) was just plain dumb. He was in SpEd, so that's how I knew him. Not a mean bone in his body, but if provoked he would fight.

This is a kid who was almost never in class. He was one of the elite, a football player, an athlete, so he could pretty much write his own ticket in school. He roamed the halls and dropped in here and there to talk to people. He was pretty much untouchable. Agreeable for the most part, always smiling, but dumb as dirt, did very little work, but was scooted along and tolerated in class because he was a football player.

He lives in the worst possible part of town on a street that no one in their right mind would walk down after dark. Crowds of angry young men (why are they always angry? Upset about not having the advantages of other people? Then for God's sake, quit whining about it and do something about it--WORK!!!) congregate on the corners all night long. The police department is making an effort to let their presence be known there during the night, parking at one end and slowly making their way to the other. People will come outside--at 3 a.m.--to thank them for being there. But the angry young men will either bolt, confront them ("I didn't do nuthin" without being accused of anything), or just stand and watch.

This kid was given every possible chance by the school's principal (a lady who cares about these troubled kids as if they were her own); his SpEd teacher took him to the doctor (and paid the bill) when he was sick, fed him, took him to football practice, things which his crack-ho of a mother (okay, she was on crack, I'm not sure about the ho part) couldn't be bothered to do. His father is in prison and has been most of the kid's life. He had at least two prior felonies (relatively minor assault and battery--at least, minor when compared to cold-blooded murder) and the teacher's husband, a criminal defense attorney, had defended him (taking payments because the family couldn't pay it all at once). He is livid; he's worked with this kid for years, seeing another side of him (the big, dumb, lazy, easy-going athlete), but the man who was killed was the attorney's friend. This man heard the fight building steam, at 1 a.m. (and it's freezing here at night, literally, so what are these dumb asses doing outside at that hour anyway???), and ran outside to break it up. The newpaper says that several 911 calls were made about the fight, but by the time the first police arrived, shots had already been fired.

You've heard, "I've got your back, man"? Well, yesterday I found out what that means. It means that if you're dissed, your "man" will fight for you. The kid who was dissed is a total waste of carbon and oxygen, a lazy, whiny bastard (he wasn't in SpEd, but I worked with him in a class three years ago), was afraid that he was going to get hurt, so he ran and got this kid, who had his back. And who will now spend the rest of his life in prison, because he was stupid enough to have a gun and bring it outside with him, so he could have that bastard's back.

My God.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hitting the big time

I have arrived.

Spam was left on my blog.

Sweet Disgusting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Found: One Grawnpah

My youngest grandson, B2, not quite 3, has been speaking in full sentences (paragraphs, even) for over a year. Problem is, most of the words are in his own language and we haven't been able to tell just what it is that he's saying. Now most of his words are understandable, and we've had fun (and some of those Huh? moments) deciphering his speech.

While I was visiting in August, we went to Walt Disney World a few times. My daughter, J, works there (if I told you what she does I'd have to kill you) so we get in free on visitors' passes. B2 gets in free anyway, at least until he's 3. On the way home one night, J said that B2 has been asking where "Grawnpah" is. (It's said as if it's a French word, and he has the accent and speech pattern down perfect.) J has told him that he doesn't have a Grawnpah; M's dad is dead, and J's is dead as far as she's concerned. (She didn't tell that to B2; it's just an explanation for those not in the know.)

(These photos were taken that weekend at Disney-MGM Studios while B2, veteran that he is, was waiting for MuppetVision 3D to start. He went straight in, picked up his 3D glasses, and put them on--upside down. Mr. Cool.)

That night, on the way home, B2 was tired and crabby, so J tried to distract him. Unfortunately, it backfired. She asked him where Grawnpah was, and he, in a very casual way, said "In the front." She asked him in the front of what? "In the front." That went on for a while, with B2 getting more and more irate at not being understood. He was finally yelling "IN. THE. FRONNNNNTTTTTT."

We left it alone until we got home, when B2 stalked into the living room, found a DVD, stabbed his finger onto the logo of Cinderella's Castle, and again insisted, "Grawnpah. In the front." Then he tossed the DVD cover onto the floor, sat in his little recliner in front of the tv, and asked his mommy to turn on the DVD.

It was a WDW video, showing the different parks. B2 watches this thing over and over. Suddenly he triumphantly yelled, "THERE's Grawnpah!"

We came running into the room, and this is what we saw:

Walt Disney is B2's Grawnpah. We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My grandson, the racer

My oldest grandson, B, has a race car that he actually drives in actual races. Scares me to death! Like his daddy, my son, it's in his blood and it's what he likes to do.

This photo is one that I think is just darling. He'd stopped driving (at 30+ mph!!!) around the school's track and of course I aimed my camera at him. Look at that salute. Isn't that precious? And so grown up?

He's only 6 and a half! He's been driving tractors and lawn tractors for years, just like his daddy did. He drives better than I do.

Watch out, NASCAR!

Paris Street Market and bakery, morning of July 15, which was my birthday. In Paris. Have I beaten that to death yet?

I don't think so.

This is my second attempt to show you the amazing street market. You know you want to see it. I know I want you to see it. Blogger disagrees. Let's see if I can get through this one without resorting to using htm. I know just enough about that to screw up anything I touch. (Thank you, ebay.)

*deep breath*


So we got up fairly early on my birthday (told you). At least, it was early for me when I'm not working. During the school year I have to be dragged out of bed kicking and screaming at 5:40 a. stinkin' m. Actually, Tom wakes me very gently and quietly, usually calling me sweetheart and saying it's time to get up. He doesn't even attempt to wake me until he's showered and dressed, and while I'm stumbling into the clothes I laid out the night before and brushing my teeth, he's taking Zippy outside. Zippy's the dog. Chester is his best friend. Could I have ever found a better man? No way.

Anyway, that morning we were headed to the bakery a couple of streets over for breakfast when we saw a street market in the median strip of a side street.

This was an incredible market.

There were shoes, purses (Gucci, anyone?) (Yeah, right.), scarves, tablecloths, all kinds of veggies, fruits, breads, meats, cheeses, fresh eggs, thong panties, anything one could think of (and you know who you are). I'm not adding these photos in any particular order, since the last time I tried that I lost that stupid html tag somewhere.

Everything was displayed in such creative ways, not veggies piled on tables like at a produce stand here in the States.

There were cooked foods available. Some stalls only had olives--but about 50 kinds of olives. Some had fresh eggs and fresh butter. I was practically drooling by the time we left.

There were stalls devoted to gorgeous cut flowers, potted plants and herbs, fresh veggies, and just about every kind of cheese available.

The placement of these photos offends my sense of symmetry, but I can't figure out how to arrange them. I took hundreds of photos, but I've selected the best to share. Such as this one of a dog at the market.

Then we went back to "our" bakery and had breakfast. Their croissants with fresh butter, the pain au chocolat, and hot chocolate were all just incredibly tasty.

The hot chocolate was just that--cocoa and hot milk, with sugar cubes on the side. Oh my gosh, it was so good!!!

That morning was cool (70s), but even when it was in the 90s the following week, that was some kind of good and I had to have it for breakfast. The tiny bakery was air conditioned, so that helped.

We frequently went back to the bakery for snacks. I wish we could have brought it home with us!

Did I mention that it was my birthday?

I am not happy.

And I am pissed off at Blogger. I spent quite a bit of time writing about stuff and uploading photos (when Blogger would let me upload them, which was rarely) and it kept telling me that I had an html error, but it didn't show WHERE it was. I kept changing things, it kept previewing just fine, but it would not let me save it or publish it.

So now I have to start over. I'm sure that you're waiting on pins and needles for me to get this going.

Why are you on pins and needles, anyway?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Evening in Paris, July 14

Well, we did get to bed after midnight, but I'm betting that it was much later than that. It didn't get dark until 10:30 or so, so we could sightsee much later than while we were in Rome. It was even better in London! I could easily get used to having the sun set at nearly midnight and be up before 5, if I didn't have to work. And if I didn't have to experience the much, much shorter days during the winter.

These are some random photos I took that night. This one is an apartment building on a side street. I was impressed that many buildings had flower boxes and trees on their tiny balconies.

This is a view of streets near our hotel. The tall weird building is the Tour Montparnasse. I don't know anything about it except that it's big and evidentally not considered to be attractive by some people. We liked it because, as long as we could see it, we knew that we could fairly easily find our way home, even at night. There's an observation deck on top, but we never went to check it out. I wish I had, as it would have given us a really good view of the surrounding area.

In the next one, you can see that motorcycles can be parked just about anywhere! The street is on the other side of the motorcycles. Note to Betty: I think that the greenish-blue object in the lower right corner is a public toilet. They're a lot bigger than they look.

And here is our first view of the Eiffel Tower. Pretty exciting. I didn't realize just how close we were to it. We used the Metro to get there, but walked all around our district. You can see it if you squint your eyes and look down the avenue of trees.

This intersection is about a block from our hotel. You can barely see the Galleries Lafayette sign; it's supposed to be this grand shopping mall, but I wasn't impressed. Maybe I only found one small wing of it. I did manage to buy a pair of cropped pants and t-shirt there.

You know how it is. What's the use of going to PARIS and not buying any clothes???

It's like going to Rome and not seeing the Sistine Chapel.

Another random street. Just about all the restaurants, bars, and cafes had outside seating that took up most of the sidewalk.

This place (to the right) is called Le Nemrod. That's why I took a picture of it.

"Au Chien Qui Fume"--"At the Dog Who Smokes"? I should check some website to see what "au" means. It's only been 35 years since I took a French class; I should remember something that simple. I wish that photo was better. Usually I check them to make sure they're okay right after I take them, but we had the light and were crossing the road, so I had to move on.

And here's the obligatory shot of a Paris shoe store window. I'm sure there were some non-Birkenstock shoes in the shops.

I take pictures of dogs and shoes, Tom likes pictures of cars. Here are two leetle teensy cars (the first of many, as with the dogs and shoes).

I really like this picture. I was taking a photo of of a pretty building with nice ironwork and plants, and a man with a little girl in his arms was looking out and waved. That just made my night. He saw a tourist taking a photo of his window and he didn't shoot me. He waved.

It was wayyy past our dinner time, so we checked out the restaurants as we walked. We finally found one that looked to be reasonable, and sat down at a table right next to the curb. It seemed to be some kind of chain restaurant as we saw others on our travels, but it had good food. Or, at least, decent food.

I was amused that the restaurants with air conditioning made a big deal out of it, with hand-lettered signs in the windows. A/c? Doesn't every restaurant have it? We'd find out in a couple of days that, although a/c wasn't necessary that night, it would be a couple of days later, and the places that had it were the places to be.

Just a couple of doors down the street from the restaurant was this produce stand. They were everywhere. And the produce looked good.

These photos were taken after 10 p.m.! Look at all the light still in the sky.