Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm mommy

There's been a flurry of activity here since Thursday night when my daughter, J, called me with some scary health news that I won't go into here so as not to embarrass her. Anyway, the scare seems to be simply that, and things are okay, and she wants her mommy.

And I need to hug my daughter, so with the help of extremely low last-minute airfare from one of the upstart airlines, I now need to pack my bags so I can catch a flight to Orlando. Eight days in Florida. What have I been whining about for months? Florida. And I'm going there today.

Medical miracles, airline miracles, and the miracle of the internets. Pretty decent life we have here.

Not to mention the incredible principal I have who told me to "Go. She needs you." I'll be working all summer, but who cares?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good school cafeteria meal = oxymoron?

Yes, in my opinion, it almost always does. But not today.

Today was "Local Foods Menu Day", where all food served in one of the lines was produced within 15 miles of the city. (We have 5 lines at the high school; local foods, such as strawberries, bibb lettuce, hothouse cucumbers, etc. were served in the other lines as well.) Since the school food is usually decent, but not noteworthy, I've been looking forward to this meal since it was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, I like to eat.

Our menu for today:

Sorry for the slanted view. I didn't have the energy to retake the photo. Usually I won't let one get by me like that, but today I have a UTI and am taking Cipro, which does a number on my stomach. Makes me feel like I have the flu or something. Of course, that didn't stop me from eating this meal.

And a view of the meal:

Those are real by God mashed potatoes, not the powdered kind we usually get. And the tomatoes taste like they're vine-ripened, and the strawberries actually are. This meal had flavor. Yes, a school cafeteria meal with real flavor.

You heard it here first, folks. School Cafeteria Cooks Real Food.

Honor roll girl

Yesterday was the awards ceremony at A's elementary school. She got the spelling award--A, who has always been a creative speller, got the spelling award. J said that her reading has improved dramatically; maybe the spelling has too.

And--tada--she's on the A-B Honor Roll for the whole year! After being in the lowest 4 in her class at the beginning of the year (I think I've written about this before), she's on the honor roll for the entire year. That means--Disneyland!!! Two weeks in California with MomMom and Tom!

And--homeschooling for the next year or two, at least. She doesn't know it yet, but she and I are going to keep journals of our trip this summer. That's a start on the portfolio J will have to keep in case FL officials need documention that the child is learning. I'll have her do some research (love wireless laptops!) on Eleanor Cameron who lived in the Monterey/Pacific Grove area (Mushroom Planet series) and we'll once again attempt to find where she lived in Monterey (we failed four years ago). Maps drawn, journal, research--hahahahahahahaha we'll be learning while having fun!

Who'da thunk that a fun trip would become a homeschooling field trip? I bet A hasn't thought of that yet!

Beading help

Bless her heart, Kristen (see blogs I read) told a friend on Ravelry that I needed help with beading the shawl, and the friend wrote to me at Ravelry. I can't access Ravelry at school and I can't remember this lovely lady's name, but I'll get it later and shout it to the world.

She doesn't know me, but Kristen mentioned to her that I needed help, and she offered.

Ravelry is a world of wonderful people!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mountain road

I don't understand how trees and bushes hang on to the little bit of soil mixed in with the rocks where the road crews have blasted their way through rock. Yesterday we got caught behind a big truck going up the mountain, so I took the opportunity to take some (bad) photos of some of my favorite spots on the Virginia side.

One of these days we'll take the time to (carefully; the road is full of blind curves and idiots drive too fast) document my favorite spots on the way up the mountain on this side. It's really got some great rock formations.

Rain drops

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A bit of a tease

Wanna see a little bit of my test-knit? I'm crocheting the border now, row 5, dreading row 8 where the beading starts. But so far, so good.

Prized possessions

Well crap. Blogger won't upload the photo in the right orientation. Oh well.

Mystery Island was the very first chapter book I read as a child, 2nd grade. There are 8 books in that series, but the school library only had 5 of them, so I read them over and over and over. My teacher and the librarian despaired of ever convincing me there were other books out there. Eventually I discovered The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, which A is currently reading (you don't know how much that thrills me!!!) and its sequel, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet.

Right there in the middle of the three books in the photo is The Invisible Island, which I finished reading Sunday. What a feeling of completion! I'd searched for that book for over 40 years, but since I didn't know the title or the author, it wasn't much of a search. I think that, a few posts back, I wrote of American Book Exchange. It has a feature called Book Sleuth; you can find the category your book is in then leave a post giving a description of the book you want. In both posts that I left, someone answered within an hour giving the title and author of the book, not to mention that both books are extremely rare and expensive. Just another day in my life.

This is the inside cover of guess which book. I referred to it so many times while I read the book. So cool!

And a couple of photos from Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. I love these odd illustrations!

And one last one from Mystery Island:

I'm buying back my childhood, one book at a time.

Sunday afternoon

My view of the sky through one of the skylights in our living room.

Eric Brace and Peter Cooper

Eric Brace has perfect teeth, and Peter Cooper has perfect hair.

(In case you can't figure out which one has perfect hair, that's Peter on the left.)

We saw the two of them at Ashland Coffee and Tea Saturday night. Eric, lead singer and head honcho of Last Train Home, brought his East Nashville neighbor/friend/singer-songwriter Peter Cooper. They just finished a whirlwind tour of Germany and the Netherlands; if you're interested in history, music, and humor, read Eric’s and Peter's blogs. Reading them reinforced my desire to go back to Germany and not be sick so I can enjoy it.

It's always a pleasure to listen to great performers at AC&T. Their listening room is low-key, conversation is discouraged, everyone is politely asked to turn off their cell phones (usually there's one moron, male, who has to "take" repeated calls during the music), and the beer and wine is good. Notsomuch the food; we ate across the street at the very expensive (for our usual nights out) Iron Horse Restaurant. Good food, but I'd really rather pay less and enjoy it more. But their Key lime torte was out of this world.

I asked Peter if I could take a picture of him; I hate to aim a flash at someone without warning them first. He asked if the photo was okay. With my usual tact and grace, I said, "It looks sort of like a mug shot, but it's fine." What I meant, Peter, is that the flash washed out your gorgeous face, I should have stood farther back, but your perfect hair shows up fine.

I swear, I had this unlikely (for me) desire to run my fingers through that hair. But I didn't. If I knew him better I might have. Until the end of the show when it was all sweaty. Ick. But, hmmmmmmmm........




Apologies to Tom. I love you, sweetie. You'd probably egg me on. Just one more reason why I love you.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Our slice of the mountain

Looking toward Virginia.

Zippy frolics on the "lawn".

Our stream.

Another view.

Whatever this is, it's really cool. I guess it's moss or (my mind has gone blank) "flowers"?

Chester covers his business. He looks a little too sublimely happy.

Mushroom forest.

The King is pleased with his kingdom.

Almost heaven

Yes, I know that the song was written about western Virginia, but I live in West Virginia and they long ago adopted the song as their own. *insert your own West Virginia joke here*

This is the road we drive twice a day. (Technically, Tom drives most of the time, but I'm in the car. Usually.) This is on the West Virginia side. The Virginia side is beautiful too, but the road's too narrow and even curvier, so it just isn't safe to stop for casual photos.

There's one spot, the last sharp curve, on the way down the mountain (where our XM radio always cuts out) that has the most beautiful rock formations that are going to come crashing down at any second, so I wanted to get some photos before they did.

I can't remember what kind of rocks these are; shale, maybe? I'm too lazy, as usual, to look them up.

If you look closely, you can see where the WV Dept. of Transportation or roads or whatever goes to great pains to cover graffiti. Out here in the sticks we've got a lot of wanna-be artists, or at least idiots who want to deface natural beauty. As soon as graffiti appears, WV sends out people to spray-paint the rocks closer to their natural color than the white or day-glo pink that Homer used to declare his love of Juniebug 4ever.

From a car, it's a lot less noticeable, but any way I look at it, it's a lot nicer to see than the obscene graffiti on the Virginia side of the mountain.

I'd show you some pics, but I'm not willing to stand in the middle of a blind curve and take them.

Partially FO


I've officially finished the body of the neverending test-knit, and yesterday I held in my hands Claudia's own totally finished shawl. It's a work of beauty; it's knit of Begonia, I think, with glass beads along the bottom of the crochet edging. It's made me decide that, after all, I am a shawl-wearer, or will be one day if I can ever finish this thing and make my own.

It has swoopy, curvy ends, unlike the usual straight triangle-type shawl. They can be tossed around your neck and they'll stay there without the shawl falling off your shoulders (it's that short-row shaping), and the beads glisten and give the shawl some weight. Not too much weight, but just enough to hold the swoops in place and sparkle in the light.

So, now on to the beading. Have any of you done this? Claudia said to string the beads onto the yarn, all of them, all 1500 of them, so there won't be any ends to weave in along the way. 1500 tiny glass beads. How can I keep them from getting tangled? I mean, I still have about 300 grams of yarn left; that's about 550 yards. I can't just let the yarn/beads pool in a bag; they'll get tangled. What do I do?

I put a bunch (maybe 50-100) beads on the yarn last night, and already the logistics are overwhelming me. Should I unroll the ball of yarn and start from the end? Am I going about this bass-ackwards?

Any help out there? I've googled, but so far no good answers.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The weather inside

I understand why the school is cold in the winter. With the cost of fuel rising, it makes sense to cut back the thermostats in the schools. We can control the temps in our rooms by just a few degrees cooler or warmer, which also makes sense; some people would jack it up to 80 if they could.

But now, May 22, why is it so freaking cold in here? It's the same as it was all winter, which is frigid. Are they still trying to heat the building or air condition it? Is any "conditioning" on at all?

Why do I need to wear winter clothes year round??? I've been much warmer, personally, than I used to be; I can't stand to wear sweaters or anything with a high neck. But in my office, I always have to have a jacket handy, and I wear it almost all the time.

I want summer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weekend music

We're off again this weekend to see Eric Brace (of Last Train Home) and Peter Cooper (see Red Beet Records, Eric's label) at Ashland Coffee & Tea. Great music, great place to listen to it.

Peter has a new cd, Mission Door, on Red Beet Records. From what I've heard of it, it's beautiful music and he has a beautiful voice.

We're looking forward to hearing the two of them together.

Almost FO

I finished the last row last night and started--or so I thought--the castoff. Um, yeah. That didn't go so well. I thought it was a perfectly normal castoff, but the way it's written, I just can't get my mind around it. So I tried one, it wasn't right, and put it aside to ask Claudia about it today.

This isn't a good representation of the beauty and color of this yarn, but with the flash, the brown was far too red. It need sunlight, and it's pouring again today. I finished it last night after the sun went down, of course.

I was knitting this from one huge (500 grams) ball of yarn, all from one hank, which was a bear to wind into a ball by hand. I didn't want any ends to weave in. Chester decided to change that.

Chester the Cat is very very naughty when it comes to yarn. He doesn't play with it and get it tangled in knots. He doesn't grab it like Zippy does and drag it down the hall, completely unharmed. He's a Stealth Yarn Cutter. He sneaks up when I leave my knitting for only a minute and chews the yarn in half, then sneaks off. I usually don't know it's happened till I come to a wet section of yarn and realize that something's amiss.

With this knit, I've been extremely careful to keep the yarn out of Chester's reach. I don't leave it sitting for even a second. I've kept the yarn in the plastic bag in a Sephora bag, pulling out just enough to knit with. But in one unguarded moment when I pulled out too much, he cut it.

(Why is Blogger turning photos on their sides? I don't have time to delete and reupload this morning.)

So there are a couple extra ends to be woven in. I hate weaving in ends.

Damn cat.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another happy thing

My, my, my, two in one week. This morning I left another minimal description of a book I read as a child. And it was answered within a couple of hours.

The book is The End of the Tunnel aka The Cave of Cornelius by Paul Capone. From the description on ABE's Book Sleuth's site:

"The Cave of Cornelius aka The End of the Tunnel by Paul Capon: Four children searching for a lost treasure of the Romans which they believe to lie somewhere in a cave near their home, stumble upon and into a secret world beneath the earth which is inhabited by descendants of the very Romans whose treasure they have been seeking. These people, with their debased Latin and their partly archaic and partly modern appurtenances, guard their secret and their habitat rigorously from the upper earth. Fortunately the children make contact with a contemporary who has long been a prisoner and who has the aid of a "native" girl. All escape by a complicated water and cave route which brings them out eventually in Paris - via the catacombs - with treasure and fame, leaving the secret of Sutteranea behind for good."

That's the good news. The bad: so far, I've only been able to find copies of this book for $300-$1500!

So, I'm relieved that I finally found the (I think) last sought-after-book-from-my-childhood. But I'll be jonesing for it till I finally hold it in my hands.

That might take a while.

On the weight-loss front

I've lost 9 pounds as of this morning. That's encouraging because I didn't lose any for a couple of weeks, and now a couple of pounds in one week. I'm not starving myself, and I'm allowing myself to eat things I really love once or twice a week, like that buttered popcorn. Mmmmmm!

The neverending test knit

My goodness. Only once before have I knit something that has over 300 stitches on the needles at once, and that was a shawl that I was knitting just because I didn't have anything else to knit right then. I finished it, decided it was pretty hideous (just what possessed me to buy that particular shade, and just put it away. Someday, if I need a hideous orange something, I've got the yarn for it.

But this has to be finished, and soon. I've been knitting it for 3 weeks now, and I think that's about two weeks too long.

I'm up to 327 stitches. 3. 2. 7. It takes 20 minutes to knit one row. I have only 3 more rows to knit, then the bind-off, then it's done. For now. I think that Claudia wants to measure it as knit, then block it, measure it, then add the crochet-and-beaded edging.

I do think that it's going to turn out nice, though. After all the agony of ripping it out (or, since it's too difficult to pick up the stitches, I unknit it each time, which takes at least as much time as the knitting did), I think it's going to be pretty. The colors are gorgeous; it's Claudia's Fingering 55, 55% silk/45% merino, colorway (I think) Walk in the Woods, and this stuff takes color so beautifully. It's luminous. I'm itching to make something for myself from this stuff.

But probably not a shawl.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Knitting for someone else

I've come to accept that I make mistakes, especially when I knit. If I'm making something for someone else, then I go back and fix them, even if it means a lot of ripping and reknitting, but then I'm obsessive-compulsive about things like that. But if it's for myself, and it's not a horribly glaring error, one that only another knitter would recognize (especially in socks), then I've learned to relax and just pretend it's part of the pattern.

But this test-knitting thing has been sheer hell. I'm so afraid that I'm going to make some huge mistake that will destroy the look of the finished product that I'm constantly second-guessing myself and checking and rechecking. And for the first two weeks, I couldn't knit two rows without discovering that glaring error six rows back and having to undo it all, fix it, and reknit. I swear, I've pulled out far more yards than I've actually knit.

Now, though (knocking on head here) (and wooden desk), the PURL, DAMMIT, PURL! note on the bottom of my stitch-keeping sheet seems to have worked and I'm up to 200 stitches of 320. For a shawl, it's very tiny (and certainly doesn't look like I've been working on it for 2.5 weeks or more), but it'll be blocked (Claudia's actual words were, "block the hell out of it") and end up much, much bigger, more shawl-like.

I hope that I haven't just jinxed myself. It's happened before.

Why one shouldn't blog after taking a sleeping pill

See a couple of posts down.

*holds head in shame*

How's the test knitting going?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


You've got to hear The Man sing "I'm on Fire" (yeah, the old Springsteen song). Unfortunately it's only available on his "Steve Wedemeyer and the Irenes" ep, 2005. You'll just have to trust me. It's better than Springsteen.

And he's much better-looking.

(photo borrowed from his myspace site)

Happy things

1) A few weeks ago, we tried to buy Steve Wedemeyer's two cds online, without success. They were unavailable at the three online stores we tried. We asked him about them at the house concert a few weeks ago and he offered to send them to us. They arrived yesterday and they're excellent. His debut cd is Disclose; the second one is an ep by Steve Wedemeyer and the Irenes (The Irenes are two other guys from LTH, drummer Martin Lynds and bass guitarist Jim Gray. I'd love to hear the story behind that name.). That one contains my so-far favorite song by him, Can't Come Undone. That's on Last Train Home's cd Last Good Kiss, sung by Eric Brace. Occasionally at a show Steve will sing it; I love it both ways; I wish I could say why, but my mind has gone on strike. Again.

Anyway, we heard Can't Come Undone sung by Steve on Steve's myspace page (I'd link to it if I could, but myspace is banned here at work, for some reason or other) and I wanted a copy of it. Now I have it. Thank you, Steve--we'll see you June 1 at the wine fest. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my very own personal copies of your music, and so will Tom.

(Please note that Steve's website is soooooo out of date; he's cut his hair, he moved back to Houston, and the dates shown were about 3 years ago. But, my God, that man can play a mean guitar. Steve, please, please, if you have a chance, please update your website. You got fans out here, dude.)

2) Another childhood favorite book find: For years I've been searching for a book I read as a relatively young child, one whose title and author I couldn't begin to remember. All I could remember was that it was about 4 children who had moved into a new neighborhood early in the spring/summer, there was some kind of illness around and they weren't allowed to meet any other children. They had to invent their own entertainment; it was written in 1956, I think, so television wasn't the household staple it is today.

So they scouted their yard (at this point, it seems that it must have been one big-ass yard; I haven't read it since I was 11 or so) and discovered that there was an island in the yard. I think there was an old, decrepit cabin or shack on the island, so they spent the next weeks playing there. That's all I remember. I thought the title might be "Almost an Island", and I searched for years trying to find a book with that title, or something close to it. I bet that searches even brought up The Invisible Island, but I wouldn't have paid much attention to it because I didn't remember anything about any invisible island. Two weeks ago I left an inquiry on hoping that someone would have some idea and point me in the right direction.

I didn't check the message board for almost two weeks; I'd actually forgotten about it till I searched for books in the Mushroom Planet series (very expensive books, as it turns out). (I still want them. I didn't even know there were more than two books in the series; there are 5.) So this woman had answered me within a few minutes, and she had the title and author of the book--The Invisible Island--and links to a website about the author and to a page at ABE with several of the books for sale. Starting at $115.

I love books. Love them. And this book means a lot to me, but $115? Up to $350? Sorry, that's way out of my league, even if I hadn't bought the camera. So I started a google search, and I found it. I found the book for $50.

Yes, it's a little ridiculous. I might have to work an extra year or two to make up for these purchases (there are always purchases, people), but it's worth it. Over the last 15 years or so I've found the 4 books that meant the most to me: When the Root Children Wake Up (which I found in the library of my elementary school one summer; it was the same book I'd checked out over and over in the 2nd grade; I left a note for the librarian asking if she'd sell it--I'd seen it online for over $100 and just couldn't pay that much--and she mailed it to me, saying that it hadn't been checked out in 30 years and she was glad that I loved it that much), Mystery Island and the other 7 books in that series, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, and now, within a couple of weeks of re-finding that last one, The Invisible Island. With that one, my childhood book collection is about as complete as I could have ever hoped for. I didn't think I'd ever find that book, or even the title, and it feels odd, somehow. I've searched for and tried to remember the title to that book pretty much my entire adult life, and now it's within reach.

Say, Tom, about that credit card........

Sunday, May 11, 2008

They didn't eat the dianthus, either.

My goodness, Blogger is slow on the photo upload today. Or is it just because I'm trying this from home? Auuuugggggghhhhhhhhh!

I won't be trying this anymore today. Probably.

*sigh* I had to try one more. I just can't leave well enough alone. It wasn't any faster.

Molly and, um, Someone.

The Stupids continue

What is it with my brain? Why can't I take a simple knit and purl pattern and just knit it, dammit?

There's nothing difficult about this thing. Nothing. N o t h i n g. So why can't I just get on with it?

True to form, I'm unknitting more than I actually knit. Claudia's gonna rip this baby out of my hands and forbid me to ever touch her yarn again. Yes, it's that bad. I should have finished it a week ago, but I'm still struggling with it.

If I tell you a secret, will you keep it? Promise? I discovered what I consider to be a pretty major flaw in my knitting last night, but I did not rip it out. Nope, I just struggled with my ocd-ness and let it go. Just breathe through it. Don't go back. Okay, it's probably not that big a deal, but I'm hoping that Claudia won't notice it. I think that I knit a few too many rows of double short rows, but it's symmetrical, so it should be okay. At least, that's what I tell myself.

You can't tell that I'm postponing picking that knitting back up, can you?

Book memories

I finished reading The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet last night. This is a new paperback that, for some reason, doesn't have the wonderfully odd illustrations that the original has. It's less because of that, but the story stands well alone. I just wonder if A will be able to understand the allusions to a 1950s world enough to enjoy the story.

I've started reading the second book in the series, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. I bought that one some years ago on ebay, I think; it's an old library copy and has the illustrations by Robert Henneberger that I love so much. These are the only two that I found as a child, but there are three more in the series, all available online at (American Book Exchange), which is where I found a copy of my all-time favorite child's book, Mystery Island, about 15 years ago.

Mystery Island is the "American" version of The Island of Adventure by the prolific British author Enid Blyton. I don't know why they say it's "American" because I just couldn't tell the difference between the two when I found the entire series in paperback around the same time I bought Mystery Island at ABE. At that time I had to order the paperbacks from England; they weren't available in the US, as far as I could tell, but it was worth it. They're set in the 1940s, I think, and are really dated, much more than the Mushroom Planet books, but I guess the English (as from England) references and sayings contribute to that.

Now it's easy to find the books of my youth. Aren't the internets a wonderful thing?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I finished it!

As soon as I got home, I sat down and read the last few pages of The Devil Wears Prada. And guess what? It sucked. Just like the rest of the book. And I actually remember reading parts of it.

On to the other book I put on the bookshelf at the head of the bed: Eleanor Cameron's The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. What a book! I just bought it for A, hoping that she'll read it and enjoy it as much as I did when I was 8 and discovered chapter books. This book began my lifelong passion for science fiction. I want A to read it before we go to California, because it's such a wonderful book, and also because Tom knew Eleanor Cameron when he was a child and lived in Monterey, California. His best friend was taken under Eleanor's wing and they often rode their bikes through the woods to her house.

Unfortunately, Eleanor is dead. She'd be almost 100 if she were still alive, but I'd hoped against hope that she was still around. Well, she is still around. Her Mushroom Planet books are high-priced finds on old book sites; I didn't even know that there are five books in the series. Maybe one day I'll win the lottery and be able to own the 3rd, 4th, and 5th books. A girl can hope.

I've got to remember

not to take Ambien and then go read in bed. This morning I saw that I'd picked up yet another book to read after I "finished" the first one. All I remember is looking at the clock, seeing that it had been 10 minutes since I took the pill, then waking up this morning.

Will I ever remember finishing The Devil Wore Prada, or am I doomed to reread those last few pages and never remember it?

Statcounter and Hamburg, Germany

I love this statcounter thingy. I checked my stats today to see who's been by in the 24 hours or less since I added it.

Someone from Hamburg, Germany checked out the "House Concert" post. Our musical bud Eric Brace is in Hamburg today, so, hello, Eric! Have a wonderful time in Europe. I am so jealous; I'm ready to do some traveling far away from here.

We'll see Eric and his friend, Peter Cooper, at Ashland Coffee & Tea on May 24.

LTH will perform at the Vintage Virginia Wine Fest at Centreville, VA, on June 1. Wine and music, my favorite combination!

And Steve Wedemeyer will be with them that weekend, too. An added bonus.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baiting deer

We can't grow flowers in our yard. If it can be called a yard. It's a 46-acre pasture, mostly rocks and pine trees, mostly mountainside. Weeds grow well, along with ticks. Tiny wildflowers grow, and so do dandelions. The deer don't eat any of those things.

As far as I know.

But they do eat any and all flowers that I've planted. When Tom and I got married, we dug up and replanted my daisies and purple coneflowers and lilies that I'd planted at my apartment. Every year they sprout and even may grow a few inches before they're mowed down by the deer. Last year I planted a few cosmos and bachelors buttons which the deer promptly pulled completely out of the ground a few hours later.

So this year I'm testing the flowers on the deer before planting any.

First, pansies. I set a 6-pack of pansies on the ground in front of the porch then tossed out corn. Lily came to investigate and enjoy the sun.

Finally the deer showed up.

Nope, not interested.

Last night I set out a pack of marigolds. They weren't interested in that one, either.

But I bet that if I plant them, they'll eat 'em.

I want you to know

that I'm not advocating online gambling. It's attached to the code for the counter, and if it's deleted, the entire counter will be deleted. One day (ha) I'll find another one that doesn't include ads for things I don't condone.

Not that I have anything against online gambling. I just am not advocating it. How's that for equivocation?

Update: Thanks to Trillian's advice, I have changed traffic counters and no longer am advertising gambling.

I got The Stupids

I sincerely believe that school systems should give out paid mental health days. I don't know exactly what has caused it, but I've got a bad case of The Stupids and am plumb out of sick leave this year. I could use a couple of mental health days about now.

I don't know if it's the long stretch between spring break (week after Easter, but we Must. Not. call it Easter Break) and Memorial Day with no days off, or if it's traveling so much on the weekends, or if it's this pattern I'm test-knitting for Claudia, but I'm Stupid. Nothing goes right. I can't think any longer. The simplest tasks become monumental disasters. I don't want to work.

Not that that's news. But after feeling so great since spring break, right now I just want to hide. The feeling started yesterday and is getting stronger. I don't want to do the things my boss asks me to do. I don't have any energy or motivation. I want to go outside and feel the sun on my face and do nothing.

I take that back. I do want to plant the flowers and herbs I bought last week. We have a great horticulture program here at school and they grew some particularly nice flowers and herbs this spring. I took home three boxes, bought several more at WalFart, and I want to dig in the dirt and see the color of the flowers and smell the herbs. I just don't want to do it today.

But the worst part of The Stupids is affecting my knitting. Claudia asked me to test-knit a pattern for her using her glorious Fingering 55, 55% silk 45% merino, in an earthy colorway (if I could remember what it was, I'd tell you, but The Stupids has interfered with my memory, which is bad on a good day). It's a simple pattern, garter stitch, yo, slip first stitch purl last stitch pattern. Wouldn't you think I could handle that? After all, I can knit socks. If I can knit socks, I can knit this with my eyes closed.

Well, knitting it in the dark certainly didn't help any, but I kept forgetting to purl the last stitch, and that's crucial to the look--and the blocking--of the piece, so I've un-knit more than I've actually knitted. Many, many times. I'm ready to throw the whole thing into the river. Any river. The creek at home will do. But that gorgeous yarn, and my fear of Claudia's reaction, plus the promise of much more yarn when I turn this finished piece in, keeps it in my hands or knitting bag where I'll give it yet one more try. And another. And another and another and another.

Because I sure don't expect the rest of this thing to go any better.

(This doesn't show the luminous beauty of this yarn at all. Maybe someday I'll get a photo in the sun--if I ever get out in the sun again, that is.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hie yourself to Cass's blog!

She's having a contest. Great prizes. Go check her out.

That's my boy! The B2 Chronicles

"A heard weird noises under her bed a few nights ago and B2 grabbed her hand and marched in to her room and sprayed all the "monsters" with his weird-nose-sounds and then they both were fine.


nb: B2 is able to hum through his nose. It's a really odd sound, but we've gotten used to it. Now he's putting it to good use.

I'm so proud of him.

What is this "house concert" thing?

I'm old. I might as well announce that up front. I am completely un-hip, un-cool, un-in-the-know. About anything.

So when Last Train Home's website (and yes, I do keep that link on my desktop so I can easily copy and paste it, thanks for asking) showed a "house concert" on their schedule, Tom and I were interested but puzzled. You see, we've been going to all of Last Train Home's shows that are within a reasonable driving distance, reasonable being within 6 hours on a weekend night. This "house concert" was in the DC area, with the note that anyone interested could email for information. DC is "within a reasonable driving distance", it was on a Friday night, so if we could be there, we'd be there.

Tom emailed Eric (Brace, lead singer and all-around-good-guy-extraoidinaire) (spellcheck tells me that last word is incorrect, but it doesn't tell me how to correct it so it stays) and Eric sent the info, giving the address and show times. It was at an actual house, people. In Chevy Chase, Maryland. Chevy Chase, a suburb of DC, is a very upscale area. Upscale is not my scale at all.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I'm not big on social occasions. I'd just as soon go to a show where I know no one but Tom or my sister(s), so I don't have to talk to anyone else. I don't do small talk graciously. It's a real source of anxiety. Yes, I have meds for that, but Xanax and alcohol aren't supposed to be mixed, and I enjoy music with a glass of wine (red, to be exact, or inexact, as the case may be).

Tom really wanted to go to this show. I really wanted to stay home. We haven't been home for a weekend in ages and I needed some down time. I work around people all day; by the weekend, I'm worn out from having to be upbeat and polite and chatting with people.

And this "house concert" thing would definitely require being around people I don't know in a social strata that I can only gaze at from the outside and I'd have to make small talk with these people. We have nothing in common except a mutual interest in Last Train Home. It scared me to death.

I couldn't even take my knitting in with me; the act of knitting soothes my soul and allows me to feel human. I was knitting my Red Wagon socks and had gotten to the part where I had to follow a chart to make the hearts on them. I can't read charts and chit-chat at the same time, so I had to go in without my knitting, my security blanket.

This was a huge house, people. Huger than I can imagine having to clean, ever. And it was in a neighborhood, a beautiful one, of other huge houses, all perfectly landscaped, tulips and dogwoods and azaleas blooming. I so wanted to take photos, but I figured someone would call the police. It's that kind of neighborhood. Someone taking photos would have to be considered a potential thief.

By this time, people were starting to gather and go inside. We'd done a drive-by earlier and saw no one, so we figured we had plenty of time to find a quick dinner. It took a while to find a "business" area, but we found a nice little restaurant (with a very noisy bar; it was, after all, a Friday evening and something called the Nationals was playing some game on tv) and had a quick bite to eat. (I had potato skins, the first good ones I've had in years. Lots of potato, cheese, and bacon. Yes, I'm committed to losing weight. I've lost 7 pounds so far. Weekends I'm allowed to eat what I want. But that's another post.)

The house is beautifully decorated, but there are touches that women everywhere can appreciate: small toys lying under coffee tables, the gorgeous bay window in the kitchen filled with children's toys and a small table, other children's items mixed in with wedding photos and a plaster handprint of a small child. Actual people live there.

And then there's this:

That's Wilbur. He's a very large, friendly Bouvier. He's so big that even I was a little uneasy about walking right up to him and burying my head in that fluffy ruff of his. But he initiated the get-to-know-you session; he came right up to me and slobbered all over me (he must have just drank a gallon of water) and gave Tom that male-dog-to-male-human greeting, snout in the crotch. Ahh, male bonding!

That's a rather large coffee table next to him (with a little doll underneath the far right side), just for proportion.

The media room, which opened to the "deck", which was most of the back yard with lots of landscaping in the undecked areas, was set up for the show. Folding chairs (at least 40 of them) and plush sofas filled the room. The front of the room was set up for the band; they were really scrunched together, but I've seen them on smaller stages.

The two children, T and M, both beautiful and omnipresent like Wilbur, weaved through the crowd, playing with toys and talking to people (M was very tired and a little crabby, but for a 3-year-old, she managed very well), were invited to play with the band on one of their numbers. The kids had been in the formal living room next to the media room watching the band, especially Steve Wedemeyer who really gets into his guitar. M strummed that tiny guitar ferociously, occasionally raising her leg and doing some patented SW moves. It was adorable, and the kids didn't want to leave the "stage" afterward. Eric apologized to their parents for starting their kids on the road to rock and roll, and off they went.

Turned out that it wasn't as uncomfortable socially as I thought it would be. Most of the people there either work for the government or are attorneys or have other high-powered jobs, but they were pleasant to two strangers who came just for the show. Next time we do a house party, we'll take a nice bottle of wine, maybe wrapped in a hand-knitted-by-me bag, and some good beer. There was lots of food there and lots to drink.

Absolutely lovely! We might try this "house concert" thing again.