Monthly Archives: November 2008

NaBloPoMo Last Post — Unexpectedly from the Road

I should have been home by now, with some pictures to show you of the weekend (though I didn’t take a bunch of photos that I should have).

But weather and bad roads intervened, and I am stuck in Rochester, Minnesota, typing in a motel lobby, due to black ice.  When you are passing your 15th accident/car in the ditch in your little Saturn that handles poorly in winter anyway, and traffic is going 20 miles an hour, and you have 90 miles to go, and it’s starting to snow more, and dark is falling — common sense hopefully kicks in.  (Especially with the Gothlet in the car.)

So no new photos. I am thankful to be safe and warm.  (Especially thankful that my good friends, who WERE involved in a car accident last night, are reasonably well even if their car isn’t.)  And tomorrow, in daylight, I have confidence that the very efficient Minnesota highway department will be on the job.  (Once the temperature warms up just a few degrees, it will be fine. It was just snow that melted, then froze, then blowing snow on top of the then dreaded ‘black ice’.  The road changed within 5 minutes from just a bit damp to causing one-car rollovers….)

I hope you are all safe and home with your families now.  As I will be soon! Take care, be safe, and hug your loved ones.  Till tomorrow —

Saturday Sky on the Way Out the Door

Not  much time to talk, I’m heading up north in a few minutes to the Twin Cities, for something of a weekend of post-birthday indulgence.  (That’s my excuse to visit with friends and family.)

I should have gotten up a touch earlier, but I usually wake up early with the dawn: problem is, even with Daylight Savings TIme, dawn is coming later and later these days.  Here’s this morning’s:

saturday-sky-november-29-20

(I can really see the ‘precession’ of the sun in the sunrise: two months ago, the sun rose straight ahead of me from my back steps; now it’s way to the right,  now that we are less than a month away from the winter solstice.  Well, then the days will get longer again!)

One of these girls is coming with me this weekend to have fun.

girls-2-and-shoulder-cat

(That would be the Gothlet on the left, with the Ravelry gear, who’s going with me, rather than the RockStar on the right who uses kittens to accessorize.)

a-cat-makes-a-very-nice-hat

Thanks, everyone, for the happy birthday wishes and quotations!  I love them!

There’s still plenty of time to enter the Birthday Blog Contest to win your favorite color yarn (deadline Monday night December 1st, midnight CDT).

Now to hop in the frosty car and head north!

frosty-car

Weeds Are Eye Candy Too

From last month: Having my camera, I had to pull over while driving along the backwaters of the Mississippi.  Unfortunately, the Great Egrets I was trying to take a picture of flew away before I got in good photographic position, but there was still beauty at my feet.

roadside-weedy-beauty

knapweed-roadside-beauty

Don’t forget to stop by yesterday’s post and leave a quote, saying or song before midnight Monday December 1st,  to enter the birthday yarn giveaway contest!

Celebrate Good Times, Come On! (Birthday Gifts and Prizes)

Hey, it scans!  Try singing it yourself (“Celebration” (YouTube link, Kool & the Gang): gotta sing the bass part too, at least in your head).

As I mentioned yesterday, today is my birthday, which this year falls on Thanksgiving here in the United States, as it does, oh, an average of every seven years, I suppose.  (Though it’s not evenly distributed due to Leap Years. )

Which gives a special opportunity for me to indulge in Philosophical Musings.  I promise I’ll be brief in the musing part.  And there is a Birthday Blog Contest at the end, also!  After lots of pictures, admittedly.

Last year, my birthday wasn’t quite the way I would have liked it in an ideal world.  It’s not that I expect red carpets rolled out, paeans of laud where’er I go, and gifts rained down like manna from heaven (having children certainly cures you of any birthday-centric focus like that real soon).  BUT — I do like to spend my birthday with my family and with the gift of time to do a little of what I want, which is truly a gift because I rarely have that luxury, being a working mom with a busy family.  Last year, due to work craziness, I didn’t take my birthday off, which I usually do as a gift to myself.  Then it was a very busy day for the rest of the family with dance and Nutcracker etc, so we didn’t even have time to eat dinner together.  And I woke up with one of my 10/10 migraines. Wah, wah, wah.  We marked the occasion on a different day, but last year was just kind of a footnote.

Well, this year I automatically had my birthday off work!  There’s a good start.  And I and my family WILL be having dinner together!  EXCELLENT!  There are two of my birthday wishes already granted right there.  I may not have total leeway to do what I want, due to family stuff, but that’s OK (I have an evil plan related to that constraint).

Now, having your birthday on Thanksgiving makes you even more reflective.  I have been reading Nora‘s excellent series this week about thankfulness.  She and I are at very similar points in our lives.  (We need to meet up at some point, being at opposite sides of the same state, but the one time we could have — she ended up too busy with mom stuff.  I can totally resonate!)  Please go read her post from today, (it won’t take but a moment; then, if you have a bit of time, read the prior three entries in her “Week of Thanks”, partly because she expresses so well what I feel also).

We get gifts on our birthday, traditionally.

At Thanksgiving, we are encouraged to reflect on what we’re grateful for.

Well, it is so evident to me that the gifts that I am grateful for, on my birthday and always, are not primarily the tangible gifts that my family and friends give me (the love and affection behind those is what make them the most special, and how they put a lot of thought into picking out something they know I’d love and use).

I suppose that the first birthday gift is the gift of life, of being here to experience all of this wonder and joy, and to give back.

The second birthday gift that I am grateful for is the gift of family.  Here’s mine, this summer.  (I’d like to say that my husband was taking the picture, but he was off doing a music thing.  Imagine a guy in his early 50s with longish brown hair, sunglasses and a slightly sardonic expression, probably dressed in a black shirt and jeans.  Good-looking, oh, yes.)

favorite-family-pic-other-t

From left to right, The RockStar (my now 13-year-old daughter), me, the Gothlet (my 10-year-old daughter) in front with my brother behind her, his lovely wife at his side, my mother in front on the right, and my father on the far right.

This alone is so precious a gift.  And one I can’t keep shut away.   People change with every passing day, and our family will change too.  So I will cherish it, on my birthday and daily, and I will try to remember that when my teenager is testing me.

Oof.  I’m going to get maudlin.  And Nora said it all already, so well.  So let me just show-and-tell you quickly a sampling of the gifts that I already have, that I am especially, mindfully grateful for on my birthday:

Knitting

thanksgiving-noro-scarf

and Friends (Knitting and Non)

lee-and-karla

Learning New Things

corriedale-first-week-of

Kittens

somebody-woke-up

and Lap Cats

Music

rockstar

(The RockStar, of course)

and Dance

final-pose

(both of my daughters are in there with the Degas-style Dancers)

and the heedless, needless beauty that is all around us, earth,

county-road-b-mid-november

water,

and sky.

dusk-at-the-beach

chicago-skyline-from-the-ad

(Last winter’s lunar eclipse, reflecting my heart beating as the camera was steadied on my chest.)

So, with all this gratitude and giftiness going around, I’d like to share.

Announcing the second annual Words of Wisdom Birthday Blog Contest!

(Now, if you know me, the “Wisdom” part is somewhat tongue-in-cheek.)

Please leave, as a comment on this post (and if you accidentally leave it on another post, I’ll try to incorporate it too, but this is the Official Birthday Blog Contest Post):

A favorite quotation, poem, motto, song (with a message that you like), family saying, anything that is a personal favorite.  If it’s about gifts, birthdays, November, family, that’s wonderful — but it can be about ANYTHING.  Funny is great!

And, although I said yesterday “winner’ in the singular, “One is the Loneliest Number”,

(your Claymation for the day — are you thankful for Claymation?)

therefore the Random Number Generator will choose three winners (assuming at least three people enter) — because three is just a great number.  (And because my husband will consider it a gift if I share some of my lovely yarn.) ETA: Again, the winners win a skein of yarn in their choice of color.  If you remember, put your favorite color or colors in your comment, otherwise, I’ll ask you if you are a lucky winner.  The skein will be very cool and nice sock yarn, unless sock yarn is totally not your thing, in which case, I’ll find something else!  Contest deadline is midnight CDT on Monday, December 1st, 2008 – so that travelers can return home and still have time to enter.

*Lastly, we already have a winner!  Louise knows her knitting (well, I knew that already) and correctly answered with the detail I was looking for on yesterday’s warm-up contest.

birthday-knitting-bank-one

The style of sweater shown (on both cheery models above) is (a Mary Maxim adaptation of) a Cowichan sweater (fascinating history, check it out), and the perky blonde is modeling curling motifs, specifically brooms (aka brushes) and a rock (aka stone).  (Though I love Teyani‘s suggestion that it was a bomb.  Heh.)

Plus, I’d like to see that hairstyle hold up to a few ends of brisk sweeping, Aqua Net or no.  Not to mention the lipstick and the little ascot scarf.   SWEEP!  HURRYHURRYYHARDHARD HARD!  (Another YouTube video.  It’s amateur, because all the professional ones have voiceovers and you can’t hear the skips yelling.  Which they do.  It’s their job. YouTube, ’tis the theme today.)

And lastly, a short YouTube clip for all of those of you who think that curling is boring.  OK, OK, maybe it possibly could be less than exciting if you don’t curl and don’t understand what’s going on.  Other than when streakers with strategically placed rubber chickens interrupt the Olympic medal matches, that is. But if you still are bored, perhaps you’ll prefer this version of curling.

Yes, I have curled.  Why do you ask?

(Don’t forget to leave a Word of Wisdom or Amusement or What-Have-You!)

Prelude to a Celebration (and to a Contest)

Not just Thanksgiving —

but tomorrow, we’ll be having a wonderful feast in celebration of another occasion as well.

Since my brother and his wife will be having Thanksgiving dinner with her family tomorrow, we went out for dinner tonight when they came down from the Twin Cities and started the celebrating early.

But my pre-birthday fun really started even earlier today when a friend of mine at work gave me a couple hilarious presents.  (It’s his birthday today — Happy Birthday, Ken!)

The first (slightly profane, I don’t think any children besides occasionally my teen read this blog, however):

birthday-memo-pad

(He knew I’d love it.  And I do!)

Second, even better, a knitting bank for stash money:

birthday-knitting-bank-one

birthday-bank-2

The pictures of the other sides didn’t turn out so well, but read:

Ever fantasized about knitting your own work clothes?  Or instantly whipping up some winter mitts and a matching scarf?  Don’t fool yourself.  It’s gonna take some serious money to learn how.

That’s where we come in with our easy-to-use Magic Wool Fund.™ We’ll have you savin’ up before you can holler, “Knit one, purl two!”

You love wool?  That’s your problem.  Our problem is helping you find the funds.

GOVERNMENT WARNING:  SHARING KNITTING NEEDLES CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH!

and on the other side, this knitter is calling her dealer:

birthday-bank-3

“I need a half gram of wool and quick!  I’m starting to come down…”

He knows me.  Too funny.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And then tonight we the family went out to an Italian restaurant where good times, good drinks, and good food were had by all, culminated by birthday cannoli courtesy of Ciatti’s.

birthday-cannoli

And some lovely gifts from my brother and sister-in-law.

So, tomorrow is the actual natal day, marking the midpoint of my 40s.  And I loved your comments last year, so I’ve decided to have a birthday blog contest with a similar theme.

Starting tomorrow, November 27, 2008, and going until midnight Monday, December 1st (because I know some people may be on vacation until then):

Please do leave a comment on tomorrow’s post with a favorite quote, poem, motto, saying, or a song with a message that you like (you don’t have to write down the whole song unless you’d like to).  Also, tell me your favorite color (or two colors, if you can’t decide).

The random number generator of Fortune will select a winner, who will receive a very nice (oh, I promise) skein of yarn in their favorite color.  Probably sock yarn, unless you have a preference otherwise (if you are the lucky wiener, I’ll check with you as to weight and fiber preferences).  (I have learned that I can’t decide based on merit.  You all are just too good, and too funny!)

PLUS: bonus contest today!  Here’s a non-random one.

The first person who can say in today’s comments the name of the style of sweater that the fashionable lady on my birthday knitting bank is wearing, and exactly what is depicted on her sweater, will win a small but fun knitting-related prize.

Go for it!

Some Sociological Musings

So I was speculating the other day why women seemed to be better predictors of their race times than men (based on a totally inadequate sample size and highly questionable logic).

In that same vein, here is an observation and a question.

It struck me, watching the high school show choir Sunday night (not the RockStar’s choir), what a significant percentage of blondes (and blonds) there were.  (Granted, in the picture below, the girl in the foreground looks highlighted, a bit, but three of the other five girls in the picture appeared to be totally natural blondes in real life.)

blondes-singing

Here’s a slightly different sampling.

blondes-2-singing

Now, yes, there may have been selection bias for the choir.  But I think most of it is genetics.  Lots of Germans around here, some Norwegians (though many are dark, actually), a few Swedes and Danes.  Of the girls in the choir, there were two redheads, and about 1/3 blonde blondes, about 1/3 dishwater blondes/light brown like me, and about 1/3 brown/black.

Why do I bring this up?

I was at an educational conference in Florida a few years ago.  I was knitting, at the back so as not to distract anyone.  I looked forward at the group of attendees and realized that, although there were a number of blonde heads in the group, not a single one was a natural blonde.  Not one!  It was so strikingly different from the Midwest.

And it led me to ponder — what is so special about blondes?  I considered myself blonde when I was young, though my hair has darkened so I don’t any more (my husband, bless his heart, still thinks of me that way) — being blonde-ish didn’t seem like anything special.  (Leastways, not around HERE.)  Why do black and brown-haired women go blonde?  Sometimes, it doesn’t strike me as flattering, with certain skin tones.  Nor does the black line at the part of the hair.  (My husband, who is generally fairly observant, used to ask me wonderingly how I could tell, if I said something about a woman dyeing her hair.  Another difference between men and women….)

Theories?  Do we want to believe that blondes have more fun?  What is it about blonde hair?

While you’re pondering: tomorrow, a contest announcement, and the day after, the unveiling of the Coulee Shawl (and its free pattern).  Plus:  The Noro Striped Scarf is indeed addictive.  I think it ought to be a controlled substance.

A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Knitting

Last night was my 13-year-old daughter, the RockStar’s, first public show choir performance of the school year.    (And so it begins.)  (Actually, it’s relatively mellow at the middle school level.)  But she had a crazy end-of-the-weekend — which meant I did too.  All weekend gone at a confirmation retreat (and it’s kind of like sleepovers, they tend to come back sleep-deprived from these); arrive home well after the time she’s supposed to be at the performance venue (her director knew this would be the case, but the retreat took priority); speed make-up and hair (oops, dress should go on BEFORE the hot rollers — I could have told her that), and onto stage without having a chance to rehearse, to perform 5 songs (the other middle school did 3) during one of which she sang a solo.  After a dinner break, do it again, then immediately leave for a Nutcracker rehearsal that she was also late for.  Poor RockStar.  (And I don’t say that very often.)  Of course, assisting with that was most of my Sunday afternoon/evening too.

But the concert was great.  This was part of a fundraiser for one of the high schools’ show choir, so also in the concert was that very highly regarded HS show choir, their girls’ show choir, and a second middle school choir.  I enjoyed all the performances.  My husband and other daughter chose to come to the later show and just hear the RockStar’s choir.  They’re not so much into the show choir thing.

show-choir-november-08

rockstar-show-choir (jazz hands!) jazz-hands

And I could knit a bit here and there.  (Lots of waiting time, and a lasagna dinner after the first show.)

So what am I knitting currently, now that the Coulee shawl is off the needles?  (Speaking of which, my only photographer around yesterday afternoon was the Gothlet.  She was willing — she loves photography.  A quick glance at the results on the camera showed that my 10-year-old takes pictures at least as good as my husband does, I think.  But the pictures are on her brand new camera (she’s been working hard and is a good saver!) and it doesn’t play well with PhotoShop as far as uploading automatically.  So I have to wrestle them out when I have time.  Which obviously I didn’t last night — the shawl photo shoot was in the 5 minutes before the RockStar got home.)

Well, there’s a certain little baby hat which is almost done, for a certain little Boston-area baby who is also almost done.  I’ll wait to show you that.

Also, I started a scarf two days ago.  Once again: there’s a story.  (There’s always a story.)

When the Gothlet was with me at Ewetopia Fiber Shop last Friday during spinning intro (and also, Kathryn had asked about Rhinebeck, so she and her mother got subjected to Rhinebeck show and tell for a bit), Gothlet got a bit bored since there wasn’t the opportunity for her to get her hands on a spindle right then.  So — I had an inspiration.

I had knit her this scarf several years ago (shown on frosty snowy grass):

noro-kureyon-mistake-rib-sc

It’s the Child’s Rainbow Scarf (Ravelry link) from “Last Minute Gifts” by Joelle Hoverson.  Two different skeins of Noro Kureyon.  She picked out the colors.

Well, the Gothlet has sensitive skin, and you know how Kureyon is.  Not the softest.  She loves it, loves the colors — but doesn’t wear it.

Plus, it’s called the Child’s Rainbow Scarf because it’s pretty small.

So EVEN before the Yarn Harlot’s recent post, indeed on seeing The Kat’s parade of lovely Noro Striped Scarves, after previously seeing them here and there in the blogosphere, I had thought about making her another similar scarf, but using Noro Silk Garden (I knit her the above right around the time Silk Garden came out, before I had seen or felt any), and probably using the single rib Noro Striped Scarf idea:  I like the pseudo-stockinette-but-without-curling look, the thickness of single rib, and ribbing doesn’t irritate me knitting continental, the way it used to knitting English-style.

Thus, I suggested to the Gothlet, to occupy her time, that she go find two colors of Silk Garden to make a scarf ‘like her old one, but softer’.  (And everything was 10% off that night!)  She was extremely willing.  And she came back with two skeins that I also thought were going to look awesome together.  Only problem:  I would want two skeins of each, to avoid a wimpy scarf.  And there was only one skein left of the one color.

However — I was 99.9% sure I had bought that same color of Silk Garden,  the last time I was at Ewetopia, a month or so ago: 3 skeins for a Pioneer Braid Scarf.  I was certainly willing for the Gothlet to scrounge one of those skeins; the Pioneer Braid Scarf was not yet designated for a recipient, and I was sure I could find another skein somewhere anyway.

When we got home — YES!  Success!  Same color, same dye lot (such as it is).

So here is the Noro Striped Scarf, Gothlet style, which I knit on over the weekend in bits and pieces of time:

noro-striped-scarf-in-progr1

I think the Gothlet has a fantastic color sense.  Now, look at the skeins themselves.

silk-garden-skeins

I’m not sure I would have picked those two out — well, not the bright one (color 258).  (Obviously, I liked the other one, color 252.)  But they play really well together so far, and I think will continue to do so.  Not that La Gothlet minds some brightness and contrast, or what I might myself describe as clashing.

Anyway, she’s got an eye for color.  Whereas, the RockStar’s got an ear for music.  And my husband’s the cook — taste and smell? Besides the ear also.

Leaves me touch, as far as the five senses, I guess.  Mmmm, I love me some nice soft yarn.  Or fiber, now, too!  And I can knit by touch.  Fair enough.