Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday was the first of the new year. I have mixed feelings about New Year’s day. I’m not one to make resolutions, but I appreciate the “clean slate” feeling that often accompanies January first. There is a hopefulness for what might come, an excitement for plan-making, a brightness to the dreams that take shape as we think about how to get things just right in these next twelve months. But I’m always sad when the hubbub of the holidays close and it’s time to put away the decorations and sweep up the needles from the tree one last time. I love the waning daylight of Autumn and Winter, and the solstice always seems to arrive so much more quickly every year we travel around the sun. Often we don’t get snow until after Christmas, and that’s when I really want to listen to all those classic carols, wrapped up in my blanket on the window seat sipping hot cocoa and watching the lights glow under a blanket of the fresh white stuff. I wish I could leave the Christmas lights up until after March—without feeling like a lazy neighbor—so I can get my glowing snow fix. And I might be in the gross minority, but I am sad when it’s time for the kids to go back to school.

Last year’s New Year’s Day was, shall we say, overly eventful, with two separate trips to the hospital for two different children, one who had to stay overnight. Overall, that day was a pretty good indicator of how the year would proceed. This year all I asked is not that we avoid all trips to the ER (we do, after all, have four children, so that would be a bit unreasonable, no?) but that they be spread out a bit further apart, be a bit less frightening, and that none might require the assistance of an ambulance. I am happy to say that even with the sick little kidlets, we were able to avoid any trip to the hospital, which I will call a success.

There was one single, and rather large snag in our new year request and plans, however, and that happened because our beloved Barclay, who is getting older and crankier, bit one of the kids.

Barclay Dog 2013

As I wrote about before, we knew that he was sick, wasn’t likely to get better, and as good and amazing as a companion as he has been, was on his last chance watch. So when he bit our son in another unprovoked incident, it was clear that he could no longer be trusted around the kids and that a very hard decision had to be made. After taking our son to the pediatrician to make sure his wound was cared for (no stitches for dog bites but he is on a course of antibiotics), and taking Barclay to the vet to look for obvious/acute illness (there was none to be identified), we had a heartbreaking discussion for several days while Barclay rested up in our room, away from the littles. Thankfully, so very thankfully, our in-laws took Barclay in to care for him in a home he is familiar with and people that he knows and loves. Our son’s wound is not so serious, but the lack of predictability in Barclay’s behavior in a house full of small, boisterous children is more so and too risky to continue. There is no better solution that I could imagine for him, even as sad as we are that he is no longer here in our home.

So, this is how our 2013 began, with a not-as-bad-as-last year’s day at home, ending with a difficult farewell as Barclay was driven off to his new home.

Endings and beginnings, sweet and bitter, two sides of the same coin, and an appropriate reminder that this coming year, as every year is, will be a mixed bag and what we take away from it will be determined by our decisions and reactions to the situations handed us. It may not be all shiny and sparkly and catch-phrase-y, but it’s appropriate… and somehow reassuring.

Happy Travels to you and yours in this new year 2013.

Seven Things About Me Award

Seven AwardOK, so a few weeks ago, a new blog-friend of mine, Alex from the North Of Seven blog nominated me for the Seven Things About Me Award. What a lovely idea!! Thanks so much Alex. So I’m finally getting around to finishing this post that I began quite some time ago.

The first requirement of the award is to thank the person who nominated you… Hey Alex… You ROCK and THANK YOU. Check! Next, share your seven tidbits, then nominate a few others, and tell them you’ve nominated them. This is the hardest part for me, really… I hate to bother people or make them feel obligated, BUT, it’s kind of fun so here goes nuthin’…

Seven Things
1.) When I was younger, I used to think that the double yellow line in the middle of the road was the bicycle lane. I also thought that the best way to end racism was for white folk to buy only black cars. I truly believed my parents were a bit crazy when they explained that money didn’t grow on trees; I mean how stupid did they think I was? I knew the money came out of the ATM. As a four year old, the only job I could imagine that was worth having was the bubble blower for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. Imagine how crushed I was to discover the position was held by a machine. Oddly enough, I just found out that he got his start in Pittsburgh (also the home to Mister Rogers!) and up to a few years ago (and possibly still today) the machine was/is still on view in one of the hotel ballrooms. Thanks for the heads up ThatGirl at Spinsta@Large.

2.) My favorite movie of all time is the Big Lebowski. Or the Sound of Music. But definitely not The Big Blue, which I watched three times over ten years just to make sure I still hated it as much as I remembered… and I did (and still do).

3.) I received two degrees from Carnegie Mellon University; a BFA in Art with an additional major in Cognitive Psychology and a Master’s in Communication, Planning, and Information Design. Yes, that’s the title of the degree. Yes, my diploma is extra large in order to fit it all on the paper. My husband received his BS, Master’s, and Ph.D. from CMU as well. I also taught there for a few years. We have four children; we’re expecting a bulk rate discount on tuition when the time comes. Please don’t crush my dreams with any explanations of reality.

4.) I am the only girl out of six boys; one biological brother, five step-brothers. I’m about as Polish as they get, if you discount my pinky finger, which is all Irish. My family is huge. I have over thirty aunts and uncles, and more than fifty-five cousins. This does not include my husband’s family, which increases the aunt/uncle/cousin count to numbers that no human mind could possibly comprehend. No, we’re not LDS.

5.) I first tried to learn how to knit when I was seven. It was an unmitigated disaster. The lady who tried to teach me had the patience of a fruit fly, and I was so nervous that I made mistakes that were beyond her thirty-forty-some years of practice to deal with. That’s what happens when someone yells at you when you’re crying trying to learn something that’s supposed to be fun.

6.) I constantly, and will for all eternity, confuse my left and my right.

7.) I despise horseradish, can’t stand it, can’t even smell it without wanting to do something drastic. This might have something to do with my uncle asking my little four-year-old self (four was a rough year for me) to take a deep breath of the newly ground root soaking in vinegar. Not knowing any better, I did. And I couldn’t breathe, or see, or speak because of the searing pain that started at my nostrils and ended in my lungs. This uncle may or may not be related to the person who tried to teach me to knit. No, that person is not my mother or father.

So there are seven things about me. It took me forever to figure out what to tell you. I had four for a few days, and finally managed to find a few other things. I dug deep.

And here are my nominees for the award! You ladies are a few of my favorites… hope you’ll play along… no pressure or anything. 😉

Entertaining Monsters
Gwen Erin Fibers
Finding Silver Pennies
Little House That Grew
This Heart of Mine

And even if I haven’t nominated you, care to share anything (or seven things) about yourself, dear readers? I’d love to know something fun or frivolous about you!

The Library :: Lights, Camera… New Post!

Yay for weekends!! It’s so nice to be able to say “Hey, you, husband of mine and father to these here four children… take them, be merry, no chocolate! I’m going upstairs to work on something.” Yes indeed, weekends are awesome, as is the hubster.

So while he managed to avoid letting the kids devolve into a Lord of the Flies scenario, I went upstairs to organize a bit of the mess, install some lights on the wall, and rearrange a few things. Bliss!

So here’s some of the mess… old painting supplies laying around (am I the only person who has to google lay vs lie every single time I try to use it?), books untidy and on surfaces they shouldn’t be, new lamps placed haphazardly where little children are sure to pull their cords or knock them over. And way back in the corner, all by itself, you can see our sad little Peace Lilly who wanted a bit more attention than it was receiving.

So I rearranged the chairs, moved a few piles of books, placed the lamps and tucked back the cords, and moved our plant to a new location to see if it would be happier there.

The Peace Lilly

Meh. It’s OK, but it didn’t feel so balanced. So I tried another spot.

Little Lamps

I like it on the lower end of that shelf much better! See, that little landing where the plant used to be, isn’t really large enough to do anything more than take up space, or attract small children who are looking to get into trouble, and now that the plant is lower it blocks that little space a bit better. And I like the height much better; now you focus more on the foliage over rather than the awful black plastic pot, since the leaves are what’s at eye level when you sit. Yay!

Big Lamps

Then I tried another set of lamps on the shelf. I had some much trouble deciding which set when I was browsing Home Goods that I decided to take both home, try them out, and return the ones I decided against. These tall ones were probably my favorite, but in the end they are much too tall and do nothing more than invite disaster when one of the anklebiters comes by and accidentally gives it a push over the railing. Nope, it’s gotta be the short stack lamps for sure.

Wall Lights

The last thing I managed to do before kickoff was to install the wall lights I got for the kids’ shelf. I bought them from Ikea, and it really took no time to install; the hardest part was trying to figure out where to put them. In the end, I screwed them right into the studs, and moved one further away from the back wall, where I plan to install one more right over a hug floor pillow I’m planning on sewing to make a little reading corner for whomever wants to sneak away for some quiet time. I plan on buying a few cord clips to run the cords along the bottom of the wood shelf, but I won’t do that until after I’ve painted that wall. And I know the lamps seem to run into the space a bit, but when you’re little, there is still plenty of room to maneuver, and they stay cool so I don’t have to worry about them getting burned. Originally I wanted a few lights to clip over the book shelf itself, but I couldn’t find anything I was happy with that wasn’t too expensive, so these seem like a good compromise. We’ll try it for a bit and if it doesn’t work then we’ll try something else.. maybe have an electrician install a few hanging pendants!

Library Moth

And of course, as soon as the lights were installed, we had someone coming to check it out, as a moth to the flame! Luckily, it met with her approval!

 

This Moment

From SouleMama :: {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

This Moment

From Soule Mama:

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Late Over Never, Right?

I am behind on my Christmas knitting. And just in case you considered, for a second, that I meant my preparations for December 2010, let me assure you, I meant this past Christmas, you know, the one in 2009. I don’t know how it happens, really; I plan, I make, I plan, I make, then I plan some more and then before I know it, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m madly knitting the day through skipping breakfast and lunch in attempt to finish up a baby sweater I completely forgot all about. Seriously? Who does that? Forgets about a sweater? Sure, maybe you run out of time or energy, but completely forget all about it even after packing up the yarn and instructions? Sheesh.

Regardless of how it happened, I once again found myself up against the Christmas deadline with absolutely no way to complete all the work. Remember this afghan? Begun in 2008 as a gift for Christmas ’08, completed in January ’10. And I wasn’t going to do anything until that baby was put to bed. And then the baby sweater. And then a sweater for one of my best friends, who went and got herself knocked up! Woo-hoo!! This particular friend, who married my husband and I, made me a gorgeous afghan several years ago (eh-hem!) as an exchange: She would make me the blanket, and I would make her a sweater. I did, in fact, complete a sweater  for her, but it was so hideously ugly that I couldn’t bring myself to gift it to her. I started two other sweaters for her, both of which got frogged before much progress was made. So I decided the time was long past due for her to receive her promised knit.

I wanted to knit something for her that she could use during the months she was gestating, then for nursing and maybe beyond. Quite a feat for one garment, but I was hoping I could find something to fit the bill. And thanks to Ravelry, I did indeed find a few that might work, one of which was Cormorant by Norah Gaughan. This is my second sweater from her, and I have to say both have been an absolute joy to knit. I’m so very close to being done. I have knit the main cardigan pieces, sewn them together, and woven in all the ends, and now I’m knitting up the yarn-over lace ruffle. I’m really hoping it will be as stunning on the soon-to-be mama as it is on the needles.

I’m knitting it up with some beautiful yarn from Sweet Georgia, an independent dyer working out of Vancouver. The color is phenomenal, and it’s the shade that my friend picked out for herself. I do have a few complaints about the yarn however, one being that it is super splitty due to the complete lack of twist in certain lengths of the fiber–I have spent way too much time dropping stitches in the middle of the knit to catch errant stray plies–and none of the skeins I’ve used have been without knots, with one skein having four or more. I have written to the shop owner last week, but still haven’t heard from her yet. We’ll see  how she responds, as I’d really like to try more of her yarn.

So, I’m hoping to finish it up any day now… I was hoping to have it done in March, err, make that December, um, OK a few years ago. But hey! Better late than never, right?

A Little Bit O’ Help, Pretty Please?

Heya Folks? Remember me? And uh, remember this project?

Well, I need a little bit of help. This lil’ bitty sweater has been almost done for more time than I care to admit.  It has even spent a bit of time on a wee babe until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. That bright white trim on that shade of blue? It was too much contrast; too much fighting, not enough love. So the trim was ripped off, as were the buttons, I added a few teeny little pieces of beaded embroidery, and have been looking for buttons ever since.

I will not, ever, tell how many buttons I have purchased and/or looked at for this thing, but I’m sure if you use your imagination, you might get half-way there. Now I think I’ve been stuck for so long that I’ve lost my ability to make a decision, so I’m asking for a little help. After a trip to Manhattan’s button district, I think I’ve found three potential winners, but at this point, I can’t really tell. So throw a girl a bone, would ya?

The bitty brown-y buttons?

Pearly white?

Or darling little daisies?

Help!! I want to get this one done!

A Christmas Knit

What is this, you say, Christmas was months ago? Yeah, you’re right, but I wanted to get this post up so I could have some record of it.

You’ll never believe what it is… another Snowman hat!!

I know, I just knocked your superwash merino blend socks right off didn’t I?

“Another snowman hat” you say “I just never expected it!”

I don’t think I’ll be proud to mention that there are more… oh yes, there are more. There are more than are posted to Ravelry, more than I’ve shown here, and more that haven’t made it off the needles yet.

If ever I should find some time to knit for myself again, and I get to the next pair of socks, I can assure you… second sock syndrome will not be a problem.

So the details, another Snowman Hat by Susan B. Anderson of Itty Bitty Hats, heavily modified. I used a bow tie for the scarf, and used a funky half-kitchner stitch (honestly, I have no idea what to call what I did) to the bottom of the tie band to match the picked up stitches on the top of the band. I created a little snowflake inspired fair aisle pattern for the top (which I re-knit at least five times, trying to find the right pattern and colors), and a rolled stockinette edge for the hat band.

This is a brother hat to this one, which I knit two years ago but never found a head for. My brother and sister-in-law asked if I might make some more hats for them, as my nephew wore his last one out. Well, who could say no to such an enthusiastic hand knit wearer? Of course, now there are two little guy sin the family, so another hat needed to be knit. When I started this one, I figured I’d do the bow-tie for the younger fry so he wouldn’t be pulling the scarf all the time, not realizing the older hat was meant for the smaller head… ah but I had the best of intentions.

When Life Hands You Lemons and Too Many Adverbs

Or when a certain airline deems you need to sit in an airport for a few hours because there is no plane for you…

airportatience

Might I suggest, casually, you call your husband to tell him about your delay, unless of course, your cell phone dies because the movers packed the cord before you had a chance to recharge. Then, I might advise finding yourself a lovely little irish pub for some boxty and Facebook (please note the all important coffee beverage within arm’s reach!)…

airportlaptop

Until, predictably, your battery runs out because you smartly packed the power cord in the checked bag so as to save yourself a bit of weight in your carry on. The next step, obviously, is to grab your handy dandy butter yellow yarn and brand new knit picks needle set to whip up a much needed hat for the youngest child using a lovely pattern from a lovely book by and even lovely-er friend...

airportknitting

Unless you discover, naturally, that the cord that attaches the needles is much too long to knit your wee cap in the round (14″ diameter cap on a 16″ cord between two rather long needles = uh, not so much!). In which case, I would propose, that you find your gate and spend some time ruminating what you might use to shorten the cable (no scissors or lighters allowed, so no cutting the cable shorter and melting the plastic back together) or as alternative needles (chopsticks, anyone?) until you happen upon the idea that using two too long cables might work. I didn’t have two sets of number 4’s, so on each cable I attached one 4 and one 5 needle…

airportknitting2

So as to make progress! Put these all together, add a dash of extra will-the-plane-make-it-or-not time, a few shakes of some horrendous rush hour traffic, and an hour of knitting recovery time at your new home to re-establish your sense of humor…

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.

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because, almost certainly, the hat will be entirely too small to fit your babe’s head.

My Creative Energy

The movers came and packed up all we had left with no space to spare…

packed

and came to the new house to drop it off…

movers

and unpack it all…

surface1

how nice of them…

surface2

to provide me such fertile ground…

surface3

for all of my creative energy…

surface5

for the next few months.