Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wetting My Pants

I am SO excited!  Actually, the whole family is so excited we are all about to wet our pants.  We are getting real internet service on Monday.  Real, high speed, unlimited internet.  And TV!  No more going over our limit and being charged double.  No more waiting 30 minutes for a page to load.  No more having the internet disconnect because it thinks it's gone dormant when in fact, it's really just taking that long to load a page.  We'll get to watch youtube videos!  And videos of knitting demonstrations and friends'  kids' recitals and school plays and all the other stuff friends send me in video format that I can't currently watch.  And let's don't forget the TV.  We've been living with "free TV" for over a year.  Which basically means we get one channel if, and only if, the sky is clear and the humidity levels are just right.  I'll finally get to find out what all the hoop-la about True Blood, The Office & Mad Men is all about.  Of course, those shows may not even be on TV anymore, but that's ok.  I'll get to discover my own favorite shows.

Real internet and TV!  I seriously may wet my pants.  And, the two combined will be $30 cheaper than what we've been paying for our slow speed, ridiculously limited internet.  Real, high speed internet, TV and money saved!   I really might wet my pants!

I'm a little worried though.  Currently, I knit while I wait for the screen to change.  Recently, I knit a shawl, start to finish, in three days while I sat waiting on the computer.  High speed internet may seriously cut into my knitting time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

72 Hours

72 hours without shampoo and all is well.  I'm having a hard time believing the changes that I can already see.  First, I'd expect to be a greasy mess, but I'm not.  I would also expect my hair to be fairly flat by now but it's actually much more wavy and the waves start at the top of my head instead of the middle of my ears.  And although I'm wavier, I don't have triangle head.  Somehow, I have a lot more wave, but my hair is hanging straighter.  Which sounds impossible, but apparently, isn't.  Before, my hair would hug my head until it got to about my cheek bones, then it would suddenly triangle out away from my head Rosanna Danna style.  Today, not a triangle in sight.  Now, if I could only get that one section of bone straight bangs to curl....  And if said bangs would ever grow past the tip of my nose...

Oh, and if anyone is curious, instead of my normal $6+ bottles of Pantene shampoo & conditioner, I'm now using 84 cent Suave Naturals.   84 cents!  Apple something scent.  If this experiment actually works, I may end up saving enough money to pay someone to dye the 'old age blond' out of my hair.

On a totally different note, I'm sure the kiddo's are excited.  Their school books finally arrived today.

I shouldn't say they "finally" arrived though.  It makes it sound like we've been waiting and waiting.  It's only been 9 days since I placed my order.  Which is really not bad.  Nine days for what I'm sure is a very busy homeschooling company (Rainbow Resource) to take my order, gather the books, box them, ship them and for the snail mail folks to deliver them to my door step.  Not bad, not bad at all.

Have I mentioned how much I like Rainbow Resource?  Well, that's a whole other blog.  Or more like a blog series.  I Love Rainbow Resource.  If you are reading this and are new to homeschooling, stop reading immediately and go order yourself a catalog.  And if you are some kind of freak of nature long-time homeschooler that doesn't know about Rainbow Resource, well, you should stop reading too.  Their catalog is something like 1,500 pages.  And yes, that's fifteen hundred.  The decimal is not in the wrong place.  And in addition to the massive quantity of products they carry, 99 times out of 100, they will have the lowest price.  And best of all, when you get your package in the mail, the box will be covered in cute little stickers.  Totally homeschooler style.  The phone number to order their FREE paper catalog is 888-841-3456, or at least it is as of this writing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Adventure

I’m off on a new adventure.  A shampoo-free adventure.  We’ll see how long it lasts.
A friend from my Monday night knitting group lent me a book, Curly Girl the Handbook.  Basically, it’s for anyone with curly hair.  Curly hair tends to be much dryer than straight hair.  That dryness tends to be one of the main causes of curly hair’s frizz.   One of the book’s recommendations is to quit using shampoo.  Instead of shampoo, you “wash” with conditioner.  A second recommendation is to leave the conditioner in your hair without rinsing it out all the way.   
I’ve heard these recommendations before and while my hair dresser (can I even call her my hair dresser if I only visit once a year?) has suggested many times that I leave a normal conditioner, not a “leave in” type but a “real” conditioner, in my hair.  She’s also suggested I apply olive oil to my hair.  I tried the olive oil trick for quite a while.  Some days were better than others.  There seems to be a VERY fine line between why bother, and coating your head with so much oil it looks like you’ve bathed in Vaseline.  At least that was my experience.  Also, while the olive oil did absorb into the hair within about 30 minutes at which point I stopped smelling like an Italian sub sandwich, those 30 minutes were pure torture.  All I’d be able to think about was Italian food.  My stomach would actually grumble from hunger due to my hair’s smell.  Not a good thing.
So, as of this writing, I find myself looking at 56 hours without shampoo and so far, I’m liking what I see.  Or at least not hating what I see.  I’m not expecting Exxon to build a pumping station on my head anytime soon.  Actually, I’m not oily on top at all, in fact, I’m still a bit frizzy.  Ok, so maybe I was a bit paranoid about the oil factor & rinsed out the conditioner from the top of my head.  But the rest of my hair is.... better.  It seems wavier and less frizzy.   The waves are starting at the top of my head instead of at ear level.  Mostly.  One side of my bangs are still rail straight while the rest of my hair waves & curls.  The triangle-head thing isn’t happening quite as badly as usual either.   
All in all, so far, so good.  I would love to hear from others who have gone shampoo free.  What were your experiences?  Did it really work and turn your frizzy hair into something a super model would envy?  Or did you have to call in Exxon to remove the oil spill?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day Blues

Today was to be our first day of school, homeschool that is.  Every day, every stinking day over the summer, I woke up between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m.  Today, I woke up at 8:49 a.m.  Two hours behind schedule before we'd even started.  Sheesh.

And it's raining.  As in pouring buckets.  We've already had way more rain than we received in the recent hurricane.   It's really hard to wake up and get excited about 'back to school' when it's pouring buckets of water outside and the house is all dark and cozy on the inside.

Another drawback to the first day of school this year - I realized my little bitty baby girl is officially a high schooler this year.  Ouch!  How did that happen?

The majority of our text books haven't arrived yet.  All we have on hand is spelling, history & math.  Guess which two subjects are everyone's least favorite.  You got it, history & math.

It's only lunch time & I'm already seriously jonesing for some knitting time.  There's also a book sitting there on the coffee table screaming for me to finish reading it.

Maybe we'll just start school next week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricanes & Yarn

Yeah, I was pretty late to the "let's blog about Hurricane Irene" party, but here it is.   My hurricane adventure got posted on my knitting blog because I seem to be doing everything backwards today.

Speaking of doing things backwards...   Here's my knitting report.  Have you seen the new Wendy Knits Lace book?  O. M. G.!   I want to knit every single thing in there.  From the whole book, there's only one item that I didn't immediately want to start knitting and that's a circular shawl big enough to cover a couch.  While I like to knit circular shawls (round and round and round, no icky purl rows typically) I'm not a big fan of wearing them and I don't often find a pattern that I like enough to justify that much yarn.   I am however in LOVE with the True Love scarf/stole.  I wanted that to be my first project but since it's graded as being an "advanced" level project, I thought I'd cut my teeth on an "intermediate" level shawl first.  I ended up skipping dinner so I could cast on the Stacy Shawl. So far, so good!   I'm too lazy to get up and find my camera, so here's a bad Photo Booth picture of it.


So, back to knitting.  And uh, running.  It is September.  I'd promised myself that on the first of September, I'd start running again.  Today's the second.  I better get on with it.  I'm having a little trouble getting excited about it.  I know that once I lace up my shoes, I'll be itching to go.  I also know that I will feel like a million bucks when the run is over.  But I also know that I  haven't run all summer and I've gained a bunch of weight.  It's going to be a painful and depressing slap of reality.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane Irene is baring down upon us East Coasters.  Our family is pretty good at disaster preparedness.  We've been through our share and have learned a little from each experience.  Mostly what we've learned is that if we super-prepare, the storm will suddenly dart away or fizzle out completely before it ever gets to us.

As usual, the forecasts for Irene vary greatly depending on the channel and from moment to moment.  Rain accumulation reports vary from 4 to 20 inches but 6 - 8 inches seem to be the most used numbers.  Everyone seems to be saying basically the same thing about the wind - 40 - 50 mph sustained with gusts of 80 mph.  Of course that number is MUCH higher closer to the coast.  Those lucky enough to be on the beach will be looking at 100 mph sustained winds.   And of course, everyone is in agreement that the worst of the storm will be hitting our area tomorrow night between midnight and 3:00 a.m.  Why does the worst always have to come at 3:00 a.m.?  Always!

I think we are prepared though.  We have plenty of charcoal and propane.  We even have matches this time.  We have candles, flashlights and this time, we even have batteries for those flashlights.  We have 2+ weeks of drinking water on hand.  We've got a ton of food that can be cooked on the grill and a bunch more that doesn't need to be cooked at all.  I did notice we don't seem to have any potato chips.  I'm not sure how we'll make it through a storm without chips, but we do have lots of potatoes.  Maybe we could make our own.  We have 4 cases of soda, 6 bottles of wine and the liquor cabinet is stocked fairly well.  The cars are full of gas, we have several cans of gas on hand, and the generator is full and ready to run.  We have some cash on hand in case the ATM's aren't working later.  Our phones, ipods, Kindles & computers have all been charged up and are ready and waiting.  I've got crates of yarn waiting to be knit, several books from the library and quite a few library DVD's waiting to be watched.  I also have my stack of storm movies to watch - Twister, Storm of the Century and a Perfect Storm.  I'll have to make sure I watch those early on so that I'm wound tight as a tick long about 3 a.m. when the rough stuff hits.  Oh and ice.  Good grief, do we have ice!  Coolers full!  I'm not sure what either of us were thinking.  I suddenly got it in my head that we'd need ice.  I instructed Hubby to buy a bag and he, for once, followed directions without asking why.  But he didn't buy just one bag - he bought 3!  And I've been making ice like crazy for a few days in preparation of the storm.  So we now have 4 bags of ice that don't fit in the freezer, the three Hubby bought and the one bag full that I've made over the last few days.  Of course, by the time the power goes off and we are in need of that ice, it will have become toilet flushing water.  And speaking of toilet flushing, after everyone gets up in the morning & takes their showers, we'll fill the tub just in case.

As for out doors, the flags have been taken down, the potted flowers & plants have been brought in as well as the porch furniture.  The wind chimes and hanging/swinging bird feeders have been taken down.  The trash cans have been bungeed to the fence.  The grass has been mowed.

I think we may be ready!  Now for the hard part, waiting.

Stay safe East Coasters!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Part 2

I apologize - I know everyone is sick of hearing about the East Coast's earthquake.  I'm even sick of hearing about it, but I wanted to write down my experience for posterity & rather than handwriting it somewhere, I figured I'd type it here.  Plus, talking about it helps me to grasp what happened.  Visually, it was so wrong my brain has had a hard time accepting it.   I'd also like to say that those aftershocks everyone has been feeling aren't aftershocks.  They are my parents turning over in their graves after hearing the words that flew out of my mouth while the house rocked & vibrated.  And that is my warning for what's to come.  This post won't be exactly G-rated.

I was sitting on the front porch drinking coffee, knitting and enjoying a gorgeous, non-humid day and thinking about the coming fall weather.  I heard what sounded like the door from the garage to the house slamming shut.  Sounded like Hubby had come home from work, but I knew he hadn't.  I wondered if the dogs had knocked something over.  I decided when I got to the end of the row in the knitting I'd go check & see what was up.

A minute or so later, I could hear the washing machine going crazy as though it was out of balance.  I thought, "Cr*p!," started to get up to go deal with it and realized, I wasn't doing laundry.  (A first!  LOL)  I sat back down and the noise got louder and louder and louder.  The entire house had turned into an out of balance washing machine and the sound was amplified by the size of the house.

What the F***?

The front door was violently vibrating, so much so that I could see daylight between the door & the frame. The glass panel was going crazy & I had that instant thought of, "It's going to blow!"  Meanwhile, there's a distinct rumble coming up from under the house.

"Sh*t!  F***!  The house is exploding!  The thought ran through my head that at any moment, a giant fireball was going to be blowing out the glass in the front door & I should probably move.   I started to get up but was rocked back into my chair.  I noticed that while the front door was violently vibrating at a very high rate of speed, the walls were moving in slower waves.  My 4 legged deck chair had suddenly turned into a rocking chair and the floor felt like it was falling out from under me.

I had the,"Its an earthquake!" thought and looked up at the porch ceiling which was moving all over the place.  But that can't be.  Ceilings don't move!  And walls don't wave.  What the F*** is going on?  The house really must be exploding and I need to get away from the door where the fireball is going to come blasting out of at any moment.  I got up and lurched down the 3 porch steps, holding on to the railing and still almost falling.  "Sh*t! "F***! Piss!"  (A particularly fun saying that's reserved for true emergencies.)

I stood out in the yard and felt the ground move.  It was like trying to stand up in one of those fun house round tunnel things that spin and move up and down at the same time.  It was very disorienting.  I was still waiting for the fireball and still repeating, "Sh*t! F***! Holy Cr*P!  What the F*** is happening?" over & over again.  I could hear one of the neighbors screaming like crazy.  I'm still not sure if it was a child's screams or an adult's.

I looked up at the house and ....  I can't describe it.  It was like if you look at an object then close one eye, then the other.  You know how your perspective changes & it looks like the object is moving?  Well, that's what the house was doing.  One minute, the roof line was straight, the next minute it was at a weird angle & blocking out that little puffy cloud, then it was straight, then tilting away from the cloud....  Meanwhile, the house was leaning in one direction and the porch was tilting the other way.  And the walls were pulsating.  Like they were taking super deep breathes.  My darkest fear has come to life.  The washing machine has gone berserk, come to life & taken over my entire house!  (Thank you Stephen King for my slight fear of washing machines.)

Meanwhile, the noise continued to get louder & louder and higher & higher pitched.  Imagine that out of balance washing machine spinning at about a gazillion rpms and the sound amplified to house size.

Sh*t!  F***!  What the F*** is happening?"

And then it stopped.  Total quiet, total calm.  Except for the neighbor who continued to scream for a few more seconds.

I felt a bit nauseous and laughed at myself for being motion sick.  It was probably more like shock, but, my tummy did have that icky, "get me off this rocking boat" sensation to it.

I pulled my phone out & started dialing Hubby.  I have no idea what I was going to tell him.  I still hadn't come to grips with the idea of an earthquake.  I was still convinced that something in or under the house had exploded.  Honestly, I was still waiting for the fireball.  Of course, the phone wouldn't work.  No service.  All circuits are busy.  Great!  My house just exploded and all the freaking circuits are busy.  

About that time, the idea of an earthquake started sinking in.  I decided I had to go into the house & see if there was a fireball or not.  Besides, the dogs were in there.  The dogs were in the house with the fireball!   They were probably scared witless and peeing on the floor.  I have to admit though, I was still thinking that when I opened the front door, a gigantic fireball would blow my face off.

I sucked up my courage, opened the door and was greeted by one whimpering dog.  Minnie was coming down the stairs whimpering and carrying her "baby" - a very dirty pink teddy bear that used to be Sarah's.  Once Minnie claimed it as her own, there was no taking it back.  Anyway, Minnie came on down the stairs & promptly heeled, although she has no idea what heeling is.  I peeked into the living room and didn't see anything wrong.  Unbelievable!

Max came down the steps and joined our search party.  We went room to room and saw no damage.  We went upstairs and found nothing wrong.   Nothing damaged, at least.  Just about everything in my son's room was on the floor, but I'm not sure I can blame the earthquake for that.  I'm pretty sure his book case & CD rack hadn't been empty previously though.   Came back down and checked all the water sources.  I just knew there had to be busted pipes somewhere.  Nope, all looks good.  We went out into the garage and there was one unknown object (some mysterious Man-Thing of Hubby's) laying in the middle of the floor and Hubby's level was still swinging back & forth in a rather wide ark.  Other than that, nothing.  We went back inside and I noticed that all the cabinet doors were standing wide open.  Don't know why I hadn't noticed that the first 2 trips through.  I think I'd been too busy looking for fireballs.  A few things had tipped over inside the cabinets, but nothing had fallen out.  The dish soap & hand soap had fallen into the sink and several things were a lot closer to the edge of counters & ledges than they'd been before, but nothing was on the floor.  Freaking amazing!

I went outside & checked to make sure we still had a roof & a fence.  Yep, still there.   And of course, the leaning dead tree that refuses to fall & scares the life out of me is still leaning.  It hasn't changed a bit.

About that time, Hubby pulled into the driveway.  I started psycho-babbling to him about the experience & he walked around the house looking for damage.  He found one small crack in the foundation but that was all.  Inside, the only damage he noticed was a few nail-pops.  They'd already been noticeable, but the earthquake had forced the nail heads all the way out of the drywall.  

Hubby instantly started trying to call his family to make sure they were okay while I immediately got on Facebook and joined the crowd of quake survivors.

Later, we noticed that the fireplace door had shifted a bit and the gas logs had toppled over.  And my brand new can of air freshener had fallen into the toilet.  That was the height of our quake damage.  The thing that I'm the most amazed by is the things that didn't fall.  I hate to publicly admit to it, but there's a pile of precariously stacked books on top of a bookshelf.  Normally, if you don't tiptoe through the room, something falls off the pile.  Naturally, the earthquake did not disturb a single one of those books.  And my yarn pile in the living room....  I have a few (thousand) knitting projects going on and there's a dangerously high pile of yarn on top of a shelf.  It too is one of those piles that tends to fall over if you look at it funny, but as the laws of gravity would have it, not a single skein hit the floor.  Amazing!

As much as I complain & fuss about my hubby, he sure did build me a good  house.  Nice and tight without being too tight.  Now, let's see how it likes the hurricane that's headed our way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake!


Phew!  That was exciting!  We just had an earthquake.  A 5.9.   In Virginia.  I live about 20 miles from the epicenter and about all I can say is, Holy Monsters!  You know how your out-of-balance washing machine rocks & shakes?  Well, picture your house pretending to be a huge, gigantic out-of-balance washer.   Crazy!!   I was sitting on the front porch & had to hold on the railing to go down the 3 steps to keep from falling down!

What amazes me, with all that shaking, we had no real damage.  The fake gas logs in the fire place aren't in the exact same spot they were, but the gas isn't leaking.  The front door shook & waved so much that I could see daylight between the door & the frame, but the glass didn't crack & the lock still works.   Things fell off the walls, but nothing broke.  The cups & bowls stacked in the cupboard fell over & the cabinet doors all flew open, but nothing fell out or broke.  The water in the dog's bowl spilled out and the hand soap fell into the sink.  All of my son's CD's are now on the floor.  (Won't he be happy about that when he gets home from Grandma's!) 

Amazingly, there are no cracks in the walls or windows.

And of course, our dead and dangerously leaning tree out in the yard is still dead & leaning, exactly like it was before.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hair Wars

Lately, it seems like several people from different areas of my life have been complaining about, bragging about, or simply talking about their hair.  And since one of my favorite past-times is complaining about my overly thick, straight in front but curly in the back hair, I've decided to join the fun.


There it is in all of it's witch hair glory.  And yes, I am quite aware that I'm really too old to wear it this long.  I'm also terribly aware that I desperately need at least the ends trimmed.  But if I'm going to bother getting a trim, I'm going to go all out & cut it.  Cut it short enough to make a donation to Locks of Love.  And if I'm going to cut it, I need to decide how I want it cut.  And that takes me back to the need for a grown-up hair do.  And I really don't want an age appropriate hair style.  Besides, I like being able to wash it, comb it, shake it like a dog and go.  I bet an age appropriate hair style will involve at least a blow dryer.  And I swore long ago that I'd never go back to using a blow dryer.  So, it looks like the witch hair stays.  At least for a while longer.

On a totally different note, I felt like quite the naturalist yesterday morning.  I was sitting out on the front porch having my morning coffee while the mud-daubers swarmed around me.  They are determined to cover our porch light with their mud nests and I'm determined that they won't.  I kept hearing a weird buzzing noise behind & beside me and finally realized it was humming birds.  I've never seen them visit the plants on the porch before.  Meanwhile, there were three lizard/salamander things crawling all over the place & occasionally darting between my feet and a rather large turtle crawling across the yard.  I'm just glad the local bear didn't decide to come join the party.

A Southeastern Five Lined Skink, other wise known as a "lizard/salamander thing"




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mice, Mice Baby

So, Minnie, our foxhound mutt has been spending a lot of time lately laying in front of the kitchen sink.  I haven't really thought too much about it.  The kitchen floors are hard wood, thus cool, thus a great place to lay when it's 108 degrees outside.  Granted, there are other areas of the house that have hard wood and some areas that have stone.  The stone would be even cooler to lay on, but she is what my husband affectionately calls "an idiot."  Also, there constantly seems to be food out on the kitchen counter these days.  We've all had crazy & differing schedules and we haven't eaten together as a family in forever.  Someone is constantly in the kitchen cooking or at least grabbing left-overs out of the fridge.  So Minnie spending a lot of time in the kitchen didn't seem all that weird.

This morning, I'm in the living room busily checking Facebook statuses and sadly reading about Diana Nyad being forced to quit her big swim when I hear the kitchen trash can rustling.  "MINNIE!!" I screamed, "Get out of the trash!"  The rustling noise continued.  Hmmm.  Besides, didn't Hubby fix that pull out trash can door so that Minnie couldn't open it anymore?  I yelled again.  The rustling continued.  What could she be doing?  I'd just emptied the trash 15 minutes or so earlier.  I got up & went to the kitchen prepared to whip Minnie's little butt for getting in the trash.

No Minnie.  The kitchen was empty.

Weird.  I KNOW I heard the sound of doggies in the trash can.

I started back towards the living room, and....  rustle, rustle, rustle.

Crud!  There is something behind that closed trash can cabinet door.  Something alive.  Double crud.



I took a deep breath and yanked the door open.  And there was the mouse.  Actually, it was mouse eyes.  He was inside the empty trash can, just inches from the top, staring at me with huge, gigantic, black beady eyes.  I swear his eyes were bigger than he was.  Except he did look a little plump.  Triple crud!  Guess I'm going to have to go check the status of our pantry after I figure out how to get rid of this killer mouse.  Because you know, mice are deadly.  At least they seem that way when you are the one having to deal with them and their beady gigantic eyes.

I quickly grabbed the trash can, sort of shook it a bit to shake the mouse down deeper & ran for the back door.  Opened the door and tossed the entire trash can out into the yard.  And that is where it will stay until Hubby comes home.  Because you know that killer mouse could still be hiding in it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

HTC

Boy am I glad that in my world this year, HTC stands for Hotter Than Crapola instead of Hood to Coast.  Although I only ran one leg of it, I had a blast ghosting my assigned HTC runner last year.  This year, I'd planned to ghost all three legs of it.  And then I wimped out.  I had a million excuses, some of them good, most of them pathetically bad.  I hung my head in shame and sent in my notice that I wouldn't be participating this year.

And then July hit.  Good grief!  July has been one hot, horrible month.  Not only has it been above 95 just about every single day, we've gone over 100 at least twice a week and even  hit 113 degrees, twice.  Maybe more, but twice that I know of.  And while it's been that hot, it has also been unbelievably humid.  As in 70 & 80% humidity every day.  I don't have asthma or any other breathing issues, but there have been more days than not, when I stepped outside and instantly felt like I couldn't breathe.  It felt like there was a weight on my chest preventing my lungs from expanding and when they did expand, they burned.  It has Not been a comfortable July.

That uncomfortableness became my excuse to stop running.  I tried to run in the heat.  I even got up early & hit the pavement at the un-Godly hour of 7 a.m. a few times.  I ended up walking more than running, and there were several runs where I felt ill, nauseous & faintish for the last half mile or so.  And once I was so hot & miserable I faked an injury and pleaded with a sympathetic automobile to give me a ride home.

I decided that my illustrious running career was over until September.  On the first of September, I'd start running again.  But today, it was cooler.  I never checked the thermometer or the humidity gauge so I don't know what it actually was, but Mr. Weatherman had said it was only going to be in the 80's today.  So this afternoon, when I got home from taking Zack bowling, I decided to dust off the old Asics and hit the road. It felt so good and so awful all at the same time.  I guess now is the time to admit that I have spent the month of July sitting.  Sitting and knitting or sitting and reading.  And apparently eating since I seem to have gained 15 pounds.  Okay, 22 pounds but who's counting?

So there I was this afternoon, lugging my extra-large butt and stiffened from lack of use thighs down the road.  It felt great for about 20 yards.  That's about the time I noticed my thighs were rubbing.  And of course, it had been so long since I ran I'd completely forgotten the concept of Body Glide.  Another 20 or 30 yards down the road and my thighs, the parts that weren't rubbing together, started turning bright red and doing that itchy, stinging thing that unused muscles tend to do when you use them for the first time in a long, long time.  Another ten or 20 yards up the road (up a hill by now) and my hips and waist were doing the itchy, burning thing too.  Gee!  This is so much fun.  But damn!  I'm running!  Boy, this feels great!  By the end of the first mile, I thought I might be in need of 9-11 and walked a hill.  After all, I didn't want to over do it on my first day back.  (Good excuse, huh!?!)  By the end of the second mile, I decided my breathing wasn't any worse than it used to be, but my legs were pretty dang tired.  Good grief!  Two miles and my legs feel like I've been running for about 8 days straight.  It was at that point that I decided I was really, really glad that HTC had a new meaning for me this year.  By the time I finished 3 miles, I was thanking God for helping me survive the run and praying he'd see me up that final hill where my driveway starts.  By the time I got into the house, I was almost too tired to stretch.   Luckily, I remembered previous runs where I was "too tired" and I recalled with not-so-fond memories how not stretching made me feel.  So I stretched.  Then I drank my chocolate milk (the best thing about running!) and took a shower.  While I showered, Hubby cooked hamburgers & hotdogs on the grill.

And now, I sit here with a full belly, jello legs and that blissful sense of calm that leaves me almost too brain dead to function.  Damn, I love running!  And boy, am I glad I'm not a HTC Ghost this year!  But next year....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mitered Mittens


I love this mitered mitten pattern.  I've made several pairs in the past & I'm back at it again now.    Granted, with no thumb yet, they don't look like much, but look at the color detail of this pair -


Hmm, weird.  Here in the blog photo, they are looking a bit washed out while the same photo opened up on my desktop shows bright & vivid colors.   Strange.  In real life, I'm quite pleased with them, though, and that is what matters.  

I love knitting anything mitered.  I love the simplicity of the garter stitch, while the miter takes away the boringness.  The only drawback to these mittens is that there will be a bit of weaving in to do in the end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ready for a pumpkin

There may be hope after all.  Monday, there was one.  On Tuesday, there were two.


Today, there are lots.


The leaves are starting to fall!  Even though it's only the end of July and even though it's 100+ degrees every day, there is hope.  Fall is just around the corner.   And I can't wait!

I have to admit though, I look at those leaves with mixed emotions.  As excited as I am to think that this summer heat may leave us soon, there is the matter of those leaves.  It won't be long before those five or six leaves multiply to five or six thousand.  Five or six thousand a day.   But then I remind myself,  I went through 21 hours of labor 16+ years ago just so I'd have a strapping teenaged son to be in charge of yard work.  Oh yeah!  Bring on Fall!

 Do you think it's too early to buy a pumpkin?


Max says he's ready for cooler weather & candy bucket raids.  He's thinking about dressing up as a green-eyed cat this year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

With the Click of a Button...

I'm officially a Novel Writer now.  Or at least I will be at 12:01 a.m. on November 1st.

What the Hell have I done?  And why do I allow myself to be influenced by my friends?   Apparently teen peer pressure is still a concern when you are in your late 40's.

With the click of a "sign up now" button, I have turned myself into an excited, nervous wreck.  What did I sign up for, you ask?  This:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

November is national writer's month and the great folks at National Novel Writer's Month have an annual challenge/contest.  The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  It's free to sign up and the only prize is the exhilaration of success.  It sounds like a blast.  It sounds like pure torture.  It sounds like being water boarded with champagne.  Want to join me?  All it takes is the click of a button...

Do you know what's funny?  I'm not the least bit concerned about what I'll write about.  Well, okay, maybe a teeny tiny bit concerned about that, but really, who cares.  I'll be writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  It's expected to be total garbage.  It's basically a 30 day timed write and timed writes are never expected to be great.  What I'm worried about is the timing.  I mean, it's happening in November.  The time of year when every single waking thought and most of my dreams are centered on Christmas.  I get so excited about Christmas that I can think of nothing else for the entire month of November, and frankly, most of October too.  Ok, let me be honest.  It's July, it's 100+ degrees outside and I'm already starting to get that Christmas tingle.  How am I going to write a novel when all I can think about is Christmas?  Well, at least I guess I know what my setting will be.

My other concern is Etsy.  I just opened a shop on Etsy and although my shelves are completely bare at the moment, I plan to be their number one seller by the end of September.  By Christmas, I will be so successful that my husband can retire and I can stop looking for a job.  There'll even be that big sailboat I want tied up to our dock.  Which means we'll have bought a new house on tidal water.  I've got a lot to do between now and Christmas.  How in the Hell am I going to write a novel while I'm busily selling my   crafts & shopping for houses and sailboats?  Oh, and let's not forget how busy I'll be making the items to sell.  Sheesh.  November is going to be a VERY busy month.

On a totally different note, I don't think I like the word "crafts."  In my mind, "crafts" implies pipe cleaners & popsicle sticks.  But what's an alternate word?  "Art?"  I'm not sure what I knit can be considered "art."  But then, if I'm going to be top seller & buy that house on tidal water and that big sailboat within five months, I guess I better have a change in attitude.  So, I'm officially an artist and a soon to be novelist.  Yeah, I could get used to that.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What's in my purse?

I was reading someone else's list of suggested blog topics recently & one of the items was "What's in your purse?"  At the time, I thought it was a pretty dumb thing to blog about.  I mean, who cares?  But ever since, I've had that little nagging voice inside my head asking what is in my purse.   It has been a while since I cleaned it out.  Actually, I don't think I have cleaned it out since I started using it sometime around mid-May.  Ok, this could be rather embarrassing.  A while back, I recall counting eight Fiber One bars and even more feminine unmentionables in there at one time.

Ok, let's see what's in there...



Well, gosh.  That doesn't look so bad.  Well, ok, the tacky vinyl zebra stripe bag is a disaster, but the rest doesn't look so bad.  Let's dump it out and see what's down at the bottom.


Phew!  No unmentionables fell out.  But what did fall out?  My wallet, which has so much junk crammed in it it should qualify for it's own blog; the lovely vinyl zebra stripped bag that contains Band-aids, dental floss, a few unmentionables, an eye glass cleaner cloth, a mini flashlight, & a few pony tail holders; 3 pens, phone charger for the car, receipts from Target, BJ's & Verizon, one Fiber One bar, 3 packs of gummy fruit snacks, a calculator, a hair brush, a checkbook for an account that's closed, the camera with hand knitted case, lemon scented anti-bacterial hand goo, a couple of Claritin, a highlighter, an empty mechanical pencil, a bottle full of Tylenol, Ibuprophen, Advil & generic Claritin all mixed together, 2 tubes of hand lotion, chapstick, lipstick, gum, Altoids and thirteen, yes, 13 empty gum wrappers.

That wasn't so bad.  Well, 13 empty gum wrappers isn't exactly something to be proud of, but all in all, not so bad.  Boring, but not overly embarrassing.


Minnie's sad because she doesn't have a purse.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's so humid...

How humid is it?

I went for a walk last night instead of a run because it was just WAY too hot & humid to even consider running.  I reached to the first major hill, a hill that I no longer have any trouble running up.  Half way up that hill, I thought I was going to die.  I could barely breathe and was seriously considering turning around and going back home.  There was no oxygen in the air!   Good grief!  It was so humid I felt like I was drowning.  Or like I'd suddenly developed a major case of asthma.  Or like I had pneumonia.  Phew!  It was humid.  And the sweat!  Good Lord!  I've gone on runs and sweated less than I did just walking around the neighborhood.  And my pace!  Good grief!  Normally my walks are around 15 minute miles, but I was hitting closer to 22 minute miles last night.  22 minute miles and barely able to catch my breath.  Good grief!

I just hope someone reminds me of last night's awful walk this winter when I'm complaining about how cold it is.

To take my mind off the heat, a reminder of what it could be...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Craigslist Rant

I don't rant very often, well, ok, my family may beg to differ on that, but I don't rant publicly.  Not often.  But I'm about ready to go postal and start shooting.

I applied for several administrative assistant type jobs on Craigslist the other day and two of them were spam / scam ads.  I'm now receiving a daily email from some guy, who's name & email address change daily, who tells me WAY more about his company than is normal and he keeps going on & on about how his business that takes him to Iraq & Afghanistan is not illegal and then he talks about his oil business, although the position was for an art store.   And to top it off, he wants my bank account info so he can send me a paycheck.  Of course, he wants me to act as his secretary from my own home & his advertised art store doesn't exist.  If I just send him my bank info, he'll send me a list of tasks he wants done.  Yeah, that'll happen.  Oh, and did I mention, he's supposedly some big international wheeling & dealing business man although Google has never heard of him?  Hell, my name shows up on Google multiple times and I'm no where near an international business person.   Argh!

And then there's the bozo who keeps texting me.  He likes to text me several times a day and he doesn't state his name or company's name.  All he does say is that he has a job offer for me & I need to call him back at a 900 number.  You know, one of those numbers that charges you to call it.  And the thing about this one is that he says he's getting in touch about the "clerical" position.  None of the jobs I applied for used the term "clerical" so I have no idea which one it was so I can't complain to Craigslist.   Oh, and when I Googled the number the texts come from, I didn't find a name, but I did find many, many other people being hassled by this guy.  Argh!

Regular spam is bad enough, but this nonsense is making me freaking crazy.  These people should just be tortured to within an inch of their lives then tortured some more.

Ok, rant over.  Until the next time my phone rings.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jeannie Gray Knits

This blog was supposed to be about my life in general, not solely about knitting.  And that seems to be what it has turned into.  So, I have started a new blog for all the knitting babble.  If you are interested, please visit me at Jeannie Gray Knits.  I'm sure my knitting will still get mentioned here, because let's face it, when am I not talking about knitting?  But hopefully having the two separated, I can, and will, ramble on here about running and cooking and eating and homeschooling and all the other things that go on in my life here.

I hope you will join me on both sites, but in the mean time, I'm about to set off on an adventure in the living room.  There's a weird buzzing/scraping sound.  Sort of like the ceiling fan is running, except it's not.  I sure hope it's not bees chewing through our wall or something crazy like that.  Wish me luck.  And can anyone tell me, why do I only hear strange noises when Hubby isn't home to deal with them?  I'm not a big fan of strange noises and don't like having to deal with them on my own.  Once again, I find myself asking, would it be bad parenting if I made my child go check it out?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Promises


OMG! OMG! OMG!  I want one!  Look at that adorable little guy.   No, not the knitting.  The little guy on the screen in the background.  I want one!  No, make that, I want 2!  Or 10, or even 20.  I swear, I don't think I've ever in my life seen anything so adorable!  For a closer look, go to Ann Budd's blog which is what's actually on my screen in the photo.  OMG!  I want one so bad!  How could you not want something so cute?

Ok, I guess I should apologize for all those OMG's.  My kids tell me that only 12 year old girls are allowed to say OMG.  I'm an adult & I should find some other way to gush over things, but...  OMG!  Look at that little guy!  He's so freaking cute!

Besides being obsessed with that adorable little fellow, I'm also certifiably obsessed with the Wendyknits Summer Mystery Shawl which you can find here.  I cast on for shawl #3 yesterday and made pretty good progress.  This one is being knit with an 80% superwash merino & 20% nylon fingering weight yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts in the Garnet colorway.  

The yarn has been a surprise from the start.  This is my first project using Tanis's yarn & when I ordered it, I thought the yarn would be a deep burgundy wine color.  Instead, it's like if you had a deep burgundy wine colored pair of favorite jeans that have been worn and washed and have faded out to that perfect color/texture jeans tend to get.   When I wound the yarn, I used my swift so I didn't get the textural sensation of winding it by hand.  When I first started knitting with it, I wasn't sure I'd like it.  It felt a bit like I was knitting with a stiff cottony yarn.  I'm not a big fan of pure cotton.   But after knitting an inch or so of the shawl, it no longer has that stiff feeling in my hands and the knitted fabric is wonderful!  Soft and drapey and perfect for this project.  In fact, it's so soft it almost feels like some sock yarn I had a while back that had hand lotion or lanolin or something added to it so that your feet were actually moisturized when you wore the socks.  Wish I could remember the name of that yarn.

Anyway, I am really, really loving this project.  And I'm really, really, really loving the way it reminds me of my favorite worn out jeans.  And as badly as I want to start a fourth shawl when I finish this one, I won't.  I am promising myself that I won't.  Instead, I'm going to finish the dreaded green lace Pi shawl so that I can start another Pi shawl using lace weight yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts.  That's what I'm promising myself.  But you know, promises are made to be broken...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BBQ Sauce Explosion

Hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day.  Ours was rather low key due to the high humidity levels and massive T-storms, yet oddly, today I am finding BBQ sauce on surfaces I didn't even know we had.  The darn stuff is everywhere!

And of course, rather than spending the morning wiping up BBQ sauce, I spent it knitting and completed my second Summer Mystery shawl.


Unblocked, it measures 30 inches across the top & 18 inches down the center.  Can't wait to see how much it grows when I block it.  For that matter, I can't wait to see what it looks like in general after being blocked.  I'm still utterly amazed how wetting & stretching a jumbled up mess turns said mess into a much larger, beautiful piece of lace.  Unfortunately, before I can block it, I have to clean up a bit more BBQ sauce.  :(

I had just a bit of yarn left over.


See?  The leftover yarn is smaller than my trackpad.  I wonder if there's enough yarn there to knit the heels & toes of a pair of socks.  Hmmm....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Knitting Progress


I've made a little bit of progress on my Summer Mystery Shawlette but not as much as I'd hoped.  Mike keeps renting action &/or thriller movies and I haven't quite mastered the ability to focus on my knitting while I focus on the TV.  I think I'm about at the halfway point.  Each row gets slightly shorter than the previous row so it should go pretty quickly.   Specially if I could stay away from the TV screen.  I am still LOVING! the yarn, btw.  It's got just enough variation in the color to keep me entertained without becoming stripy or patterned in anyway.

I've also made a little progress on my Pi shawl.   It's up to 576 stitches per row now, but I still have another 40 rows to go before I start the bind-off edging.  In other words, I'm probably not even at the halfway point stitch wise.  I also hope & pray that it looks a lot better once it's blocked because it sure doesn't look like much now.


The one thing I have managed to get finished is a stealth project.  In lieu of a photo of the actual project, here's the left over yarn.


When I started, that bag was so full it would barely zip closed.  There's probably just enough left to make a hat or two.  The yarn is a wool/cotton mix.  It was originally a sweater kit that I'd bought long ago.  I'd started the sweater but was no where close to gauge and rather than frogging it & starting over, I'd tossed  the knitted fabric & stashed the remainder of the yarn.  Anyway, I'm quite pleased with the results of my stealth project and can't wait to show pictures of it.

Meanwhile, Max is concerned by that top photo that you'll think he's lazy.  He wanted this one posted as well,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Summer Mystery

I started another WendyKnits Summer Mystery shawl using Blue Stocking from String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns.  It doesn't look like much yet, but...


The photo doesn't do the yarn justice.  It's gorgeous! And it feels incredibly good in my hand and knits up well.  Blue Stocking very well may turn out to be one of my favorite yarns.

And because I'm trying to stretch this post out a little further,  do you think maybe we have a woodpecker problem?


And last but not least,


I finally have blooms on one of my tomato plants.  And yes, I am aware that the grass is almost as tall as the tomato plant.  A farmer I am not.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stealth

Other than that weird shawl I finished the other day, just about all my other OTN projects are stealth projects.  Gift items.  Items I can't talk about until the gift has been given.  And not talking about them is killing me!  

I love knitting gifts for friends and family, but I also love talking about what I'm knitting.  In the past, I would simply psyco-cackle to my immediate family about the project, they would totally ignore me, and all would be good.  But now that I have this blog, I feel compelled to tell the world what I'm knitting.  And I can't right now.  Aack!  It's killing me!

I have been making lots of progress on my stealth projects.   That probably has something to do with the amount of time I've spent knitting while waiting on the kids lately.  Over six hours at the bowling alley just yesterday!  Zack's team won the set, by the way.

Today's plan is to go get my run in, which I really need to go do before it gets any hotter.  It's already 76 degrees and it's not even 8:30 a.m. yet.  After that, I'll spend some time knitting while I pretend to do laundry.  I may be able to get one stealth project finished today.  I'll be seeing the recipient in the next few days.  Maybe I can go ahead and give it to her, 3 months early, just so I can talk about it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not the Best Choice

I've once again proved that your choice of yarn has a huge impact on the success of your project.  The first time I knit a Meadow Flowers shawl I used a solid color lace weight yarn and the project turned out great.  Extra great actually, because it was my first attempt at lace.  I enjoyed the pattern so much that I knit it again.  But this time, I used Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock yarn in the Icehouse color way.  Big mistake.  Here it is, unblocked when I was still slightly hopeful that the yarn wasn't too busy for the pattern.


And here, blocked, not looking so great.


The pattern is completely lost in the busyness of the color variegation.  Oh well, I assume someone at the local homeless shelter will be able to use it.  And, believe it or not, I still have plenty more yarn.  I have no idea why, but I had enough of that particular yarn to have knit eight king sized bedspreads.  And I'd already knit myself two pair of socks and a felted bag with it.  All I can say is, it must have been a Hell of a sale!  I have no idea why else I'd have bought so much of the same color of sock yarn.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where's the swift?

Looky, looky, looky!  Look what showed up in my mailbox yesterday -


Oh, how I do love gift certificates and contest winnings!  And the only reason I'm typing this and not busy knitting is because I can't remember where I hid my swift and the fact that my left hand is still so cramped from yesterday's knitting excursion that I can't quite hold a needle today.

Yesterday was one of those glorious, perfect days that so rarely happen.  First, there was the cooperating weather.  Instead of the 100+ degrees and 4,000% humidity we've been experiencing lately, it never got out of the low 80's and there was no humidity.  And Zack was working which meant I got to drive him.  I will be so glad when he finally gets his license, although I will miss the "forced" knitting time.

Zack has a job clearing a jungle's worth of bamboo out of someone's yard, so while he chops down bamboo, I sit on their beautiful, shaded patio and knit.  The homeowner prefers that Zack not be left there alone because she's worried he'll fall & impale himself on a piece of bamboo.  It is kinda sharp.  My husband doesn't want him there alone because he's worried about snake attacks.  Personally, I'm quite happy to be "forced" to sit and knit while Zack works.  Specially on days like yesterday.  I was actually cold at first!  I was sitting there knitting away, wearing my running jacket (which luckily lives in the car for some strange reason) and a beach towel (which also lives in the car) wrapped around my chilly legs.

Normally, Zack only works a few hours per day.  It's just too hot, too many mosquitos and the work is too exhausting.  But yesterday, as I said, the weather was quite cooperative.  It was overcast at first, in the 60's & a breeze was blowing the bugs away.  Absolute perfect outdoor knitting & bamboo chopping weather.  Zack ended up working for five hours instead of the normal two.  Which meant five hours of knitting time for me.

I arrived home from "work" to find a whole new yarn stash had arrived.  Which of course led to fits and giggles and lots of heavy petting.  Next, there was the rush to get dinner cooked & everyone fed because it was knitting group night.  Another couple of hours of knitting time.

I got home from knitting group and struggled with the urge to instantly cast on some of the new yarn.  Eventually, the decision to finish at least one of my UFO's  before starting something new won out.   Mainly, that decision won because I can't quite remember where I put my swift.  Even as teens, my kids are fascinated by the swift and constantly play with it if it is left within their reach.   So, about an hour later, I was frantically knitting along on a stealth project when my left hand cramped up.  And refused to uncramp.  I have the feeling that eight hours of knitting in one day just may be my limit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mysteries & Miracles


I finished knitting the  Summer Mystery Shawlette on Saturday afternoon and I blocked it yesterday.

Sorry for the blurry photo.  I think my hands were shaking from excitement.  I absolutely LOVE this pattern!  I don’t have much experience knitting lace and this project turned out to be perfect.  It wasn’t one of those four row repeat patterns that are mind numbingly boring, but it also wasn’t so difficult that I had to lock myself in a quiet room in order to properly follow it.  Best of all, it was a very quick knit, even for me.  The pattern was issued in four parts and I was able to knit each section within a day or two.
My Mystery Shawl is knit with Silky Wool in color 55.  Although the yarn’s weight seems to be correct, my shawl only blocked out to 46 inches across the top and 24 inches down the center.  The Silky Wool doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of stretch to it and honestly, maybe I should have used a larger needle.  The shawlette is definitely a mini but will be a perfect neck warmer tucked inside my coat.
I can not wait to knit this pattern again.  I already know that I want a blue and a red one.  But first, I have to finish at least one other UFO.  I promised myself I would.  
Now, on to other exciting things...
Things, other than crab grass & poison ivy that is, are actually growing in my yard!  It’s a miracle!  Maybe my black thumb is finally starting to turn green.  
First, there are the lilies (another blurry picture, I’m afraid)

 Then there’s the Weigela and Rose of Sharon,

And of course, the Stephen King grape vines,

The grapes have gone crazy and are growing like something out of a Stephen King novel.  The vines are growing so freakishly fast we are afraid to sleep at night.  We may go to bed and wake up the next morning so entangled in grape vines we can’t escape.  Back in February, we trimmed the vines back for the very first time.  We thought we’d gotten a little trimmer happy and probably wouldn’t have grapes for a few years.  Boy were we wrong!  Actually, we don’t have that many grapes.  We have vines and leaves.  But maybe there are a few grapes somewhere under all those leaves.
And last, but not least, one of the Mimosa trees has an open bloom on it.

Ok, it’s hard to see the bloom, but it is there.  Both trees are loaded with unopened buds.  It’s going to be breathtaking if they all open at once.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering D-Day



My dad passed away several years ago and he is greatly missed.  Oddly though, D-Day reminds me more of him than either his birth or death days do.  Dad arrived on that fateful Normandy beach on Day 2. After surviving that, he went on to experience the Battle of the Bulge as well. Dad had a few funny stories to tell about his European visit but I think he had quite a few horror stories that he kept private. 
Dad was always active, with the exception of his night time T.V. (Lawrence Welk, Hee-Haw, Mash and Wild Kingdom. Dad had pretty exciting tastes in T.V. programing!) Dad never just sat. He did. He built radios, built wooden stuff in the garage, hunted for "dead indians" (Dad's Very non-politically correct term for archeology,) hunted, fished, hiked.... But on D-Day, he always just sat. He'd sit in a rocking chair in the living room, stare off into space and occasionally, you'd see a tear run down his face. As a kid, I didn't understand but learned to avoid the living room. As a teen, I learned to be respectful when he stopped staring off into space long enough to give me the "This is D-Day" lecture. But I still didn't understand. History was never my thing. It's only been in the last few years that I've become interested and have really started to comprehend the enormity of D-Day and WWII in general. 
Dad told a funny story about landing at Normandy. They'd heard that the previous day hadn't gone well, but.... He was in charge of the radios and communication. He carried a fortune in radios and equipment and figured they'd never send him onto that beach if it wasn't safe. While he was waiting his turn to leave the ship he watched jeeps from other ships float away. The other ship's jeeps were carrying huge vats of water and those vats floated. And caused the jeeps to get carried away. When it came time for dad to leave his ship, he had to drive his jeep standing up because the water would have been over his head if he sat down. His instructions were to hit the beach and immediately dig a fox hole and get into it. Well, as I said, Dad figured they wouldn't risk loosing all that equipment so it must be safe. He hit the beach and ambled up to the one tree still standing. He put down his pack, set up his cot and lay down to rest. Instantly, the tree exploded. He was being shelled. Then he'd end the story with "You never saw a white man dig a hole with his helmet so fast in your life!" 
Dad also told a story about being lost in a snowy pine forest. This one wasn't so funny. In the middle of the night, the Germans attacked his unit's tents. The shells started flying and Dad escaped out of the back of his tent - with no coat, no gun, no supplies. The only thing he did have with him was a little German shrapnel in his knee. For over a week, he was lost and alone in that pine forest. Eventually, he met up with guys from some other country and he hung with them for a while. For several days, they did nothing but walk down a dirt road and chop trees down with axes in hopes of stopping the German tanks. 
Somehow, that story morphed into once again being alone and hearing loud, boisterous voices in the distance. He followed the voices and came upon a HUGE, gigantic wine vat. He was in France after all. In the vat, were 5 or 6 drunken military men swimming in the wine. Of course Dad joined them. 
He told stories of fishing in the Rhine, of trying to hunt rabbits by hand (didn't want to waste a bullet) when there was no other food available. Stories of prostitutes offering free services if Dad would give them one of those rabbits. Of how the women threw themselves at the soldiers when they marched into one particular town in France. The town's people were just so happy to be rescued. 
Dad made all the stories sound like a fun adventure. But I know from the way he'd sit in that rocking chair staring off into space with a tear slowly sliding down his cheek that it wasn't all fun. 
So here's to you, Dad. And all the other men and women involved in WWII, for that matter. Thank you for your service. Thank you for fighting so hard to preserve our freedoms. You'll always be remembered. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Doh!


Okay, I realize that I'm mixing my cartoons, but...

Doh!  What a maroon!

A hot, sweaty maroon!  I came into some cash today.  And as it usually happens when I come into a little  extra cash, my Verizon bill is due and we are about out of groceries.  Rather than make a special trip to the bank, I counted out enough cash to pay Verizon and to do the grocery shopping and drove the 40+ minute drive to BJ's in a car with no air conditioning on a 95 degree day.  Yes, we were that low on groceries!

I arrived at BJ's feeling like a huge puddle of melted lard.  I walked up to the Verizon counter and prepared to pay my bill.  I got out my wallet and....  no cash.  NO FREAKING CASH!

You have got to be kidding me!  And the mental image hit me in the face.  I had not counted out the cash  needed for shopping and phone payments and put it in my wallet.  I'd counted out the cash needed for shopping and phone payments, stacked it neatly, then put it back in the envelope with all the other cash, then stuffed the envelope in a drawer.  Crud.

Double Crud.

Triple, freaking, what a maroon, crud.

And back home I went.

The only good thing about the experience is that I'm so hot and sweaty and irritated with myself that I'm not the least bit hungry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Savage



I just finished reading Two Little Savages, one of my father’s all-time favorite books.  Growing up, every time I ever mentioned that I needed something to read, Dad would shout out, “How about Two Little Savages?”  Every time I mentioned I was bored, Dad would say, “You could read Two Little Savages.”   So of course, I never read it.  In fact, I actively despised the book even though I was clueless as to what it was about.  Honestly, I’d never even cracked the cover and Dad’s copy didn’t have a dust jacket so there wasn’t a blurb on the back of the book to read.  And obviously, if my dad liked it, it must be something boring and stupid.  Right?
But ever since Dad died, I’ve been a bit sentimental about the things he liked.  I’ve taken a slight interest in Virginia history, the arrow heads we found together are now prominently displayed instead of being considered “rocks” and crammed in a drawer.  I’ve even made batter bread although I’d still rather drink toilet water than eat that stuff.  And one day, while at the library’s used book sale, I snagged a copy of Two Little Savages for twenty five cents.  Hee, hee, I giggled in that evil homeschooling motherly way, “I’ll make the kids read it for school.” 

Two Little Savages sat on my bookshelf along with 88 other unread books that I was busily ignoring.  Then came the 101 Goals list which included the dreaded list of books I must read before August of 2013.  Two Little Savages was on the list.  As fate would have it, it was also a freebie on my Kindle.
So I finally read it.  And now, I SO, SO, SO wish I’d read it while Dad was still alive.  I would give my eye teeth to talk to him about it.  The book tells the story a few boys who spend part of a summer living in a handmade tent in the woods and pretending to be indians.  There are actually several boys and a couple of adults involved, but there are two main characters, thus, two little savages. 
The boys lived as the indians did.  Their only “white man” possessions were an ax and pocket knives.  Using only those tools, they created the tools needed to build themselves a teepee, bedding, and even bows & arrows.  They learned to light fires by rubbing sticks together.  They hunted and they gathered and they had all kinds of grand adventures.  And I can just imagine my father and his brother, Ben, doing the same thing when they were kids. 
 My dad was just like one of the boys in the book.  Dad loved to hunt and gather.  He loved to bird watch and to study nature in general.   Like the boys in the book, Dad didn’t go to the store to buy stuff.  He made the stuff he needed/wanted by using what he had on hand.  It used to make me crazy!  I learned at an early age to be very, very careful about what I asked for for Christmas and birthdays.  Because if I asked for a new purse, for example, I didn’t receive a store bought one.  No, I got a handmade one.  And as a teenager, a handmade-by-your-father purse is NOT cool.  It also drove my mother insane because Dad had a tendency to use important things from around the house to build something else.  For example, the hose faucet broke so Dad fixed it by replacing it with the faucet handle off the laundry room sink.  He fixed the laundry room sink faucet by attaching one of the stove’s knobs to it.  He also found broom handles to be very handy.  Nine times out of ten, you’d go to sweep and the broom handle would be missing.  Occasionally,  Dad would go to the store to buy the parts he needed to build something, but he never bought the whole complete unit. He bought the individual parts and made his own.  He even built his own radios from scratch for goodness sake!  
Anyway, I read the book with the sensation that Dad was looking over my shoulder, reading along with me.  I SO wish he was still alive so I could talk to him about the story.  Did the book teach my dad to be the way he was, or was he already that way and loved the story because of the connection?  Did Dad ever build his own teepee?  I know he shot & killed a deer, then ate the meat and created knives out of the horns and a rug out of the skin.  The rug is in my house and sadly, the knives were stolen from my parents' home.  I also know that in his youth,  he dammed up more than one creek to make swimming holes.  I’ve heard the stories.  In fact, the pond he created as an adult still exists.  It’s called Mattawan and is located in Hanover, Virginia.  You can Google it.  

Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Two Little Savages.  I am a bit concerned though.  I’m having the worst urge to go collect the sticks out of our yard and build something.  And do you think I’m too old to turn ‘savage’ and go live in the woods for a while?  Building my own teepee sounds like a lot of fun.   Want to join me?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Searching for a shtick

Blogging is tricky business!  First, you have to come up with something to blog about and next, you need to have a few photos and maybe even a link or two to match your topic.  As for me and my camera skills, I think I’ve already proved that they are a bit lacking.  Not to mention the early onset Alzheimer's that causes me to forget to take the photos in the first place.  
And of course, there’s the matter of what to blog about.  If you know me personally, you know that I can ramble on for hours about nothing.  But do I really want my blog to be about me rambling?  No, not really.  Besides, what do I tend to ramble about?  My life.  Doing the dishes, the laundry & scrubbing bathrooms, over and over and over again.  Hauling the kids up and down the road to their various activities.  Knitting other people’s patterns and reading.  That pretty much sums up my life.  No one wants to read about that.
I need a shtick.  Something for this blog to be centered around.  Granted, I’d still want to ramble occasionally about my daily life, but I need a focus.  But what?  Everything I’ve come up with has already been done.  There are plenty of knitting blogs out there already.  There’s the blog about the woman who stopped eating out and only ate home cooked meals.  There’s a blog about a couple who stopped shopping, there’s a blog about a family who cooked entirely from scratch for a year.  
What’s left?  What can I blog about?  I keep thinking I want it to be something to do with the kitchen and me learning how to cook.  My kitchen skills are worse than my camera skills!  And watching me destroy the kitchen while I burn the house down could be entertaining, I suppose.  And I do have that 101 Goals list of trying out 101 new recipes.  In the process of cooking 101 different things, I’d learn something, right?
So ok, there’s my shtick.  Me learning to cook.  Or at least attempting to cook.  If I learn anything remains to be seen.  
But blogging about my learning to cook is proving to be more difficult than I expected.  I made two new dishes last night and had fully intended to document the process with photos then blog about it.  
I got out all my ingredients, measured everything out and put the bulky Tupperware containers away.  Then realized that I should have taken a photo of all the ingredients.  Ok, I’ll do that next time.  
I chopped all the veggies up, started the milk boiling and the oil heating in the pan.  Now it was time for the big event - separating an egg.  Three of them in fact.  And I did it!  But I was also covered in raw egg goo and there was no way I could photograph myself at the moment.  
Next, I had to quickly wash the egg off my hands so that I could deal with the milk that was boiling all over my freshly cleaned stove.  Because yes, I had cleaned my stove top off so that nothing gross would show up in the photos.  Except I’m now realizing that the camera is still in my purse.  I haven’t even brought it into the kitchen.  Which is probably a good thing considering the boiling milk & separated egg that is now covering every surface.  And of course, the smoke alarm is now going off due to the oil in the frying pan smoking because I’ve been focusing on the boiled over milk instead of the stir-fry pan.  I should probably video myself learning to cook instead of just taking pictures.  Then you could get the sound affects as well.
Eventually, I got my dad’s Spoonbread recipe into the oven and the Broccoli, Black Beans & Garlic stir fry frying.  I decided that this time around, I’d photograph the finished dishes rather than the process of creating them.  And I’d blog about the fact that I successfully separated three eggs and proceeded to beat the whites of those eggs until stiff.  A first for me.  
Miraculously, both dishes finished cooking at the same time.  Another first for me.  I can NEVER seem to time the individual dishes properly.  One thing is always stone cold by the time the other dish is ready.  But not tonight.  Woo-hoo!  I am on a roll.  They are both ready to eat at the same time, they both look and smell delicious, and I’m starving.  I dug in.  And then realized I was supposed to take photos.  Crud.  Actually, I thought about the photos when I was about half way through eating what was piled on my plate.  So no photos of the fresh from the oven dishes and no  photos of a carefully arranged plate.  I’ll just have to remember to do that next time.
Boy, this blogging is tricky business.


*Note:  The Broccoli, Black Beans & Garlic recipe came from http://www.amazon.com/000-Vegetarian-Recipes-Carol-Gelles/dp/0025429655    and my favorite Tupperware dealer is http://my2.tupperware.com/tup-html/S/stephms-welcome.html  And no, these are not paid advertisements.  I'm not benefiting in any way by mentioning them.